Morrison plans “Welfare shake-up” to cover bushfire costs and to save the surplus

The adjustments to the way welfare recipients can claim benefits is designed to save the budget $2b over four years.

The Australian: The savings move comes as the government’s surplus faces pressure from the impact of the summer bushfire crisis, which has caused extensive property damage, hit the tourism industry and jeopardised the future of small businesses that have lost much of their Christmas trade.

What a sad commentary it is that the efforts to shore up the government’s budget credibility are being made at the expense of least financially advantaged in our community.

This at a time when Bridget McKenzie’s rorting of the grant system is making news every day as well as her extravagant use of taxpayer funds for travel allowances totalled at least $73,905 in 2018.

SMH reports

In 2018 up to December 13, she spent 217 nights in hotels.

Travel bills for Senator McKenzie and her staff were $652,697

Perhaps it’s time that the Prime Minister decided that some small but symbolic savings in these extravagant expenses would have great symbolic value in reducing the in the deficit.

What’s important and what’s not important in the McKenzie sport grants rorts.

While interesting, it is of secondary importance.

A rugby union club in Adelaide’s eastern suburbs won a $500,000 grant for new female change rooms under the Coalition’s sports grant program despite not fielding a women’s team since 2018 when it was embroiled in a sexism controversy.

There will be multiple instances of poor decision-making, favouritism and nepotism in this sorry affair.

This is what is important.

The auditor general report found that 73% of grants awarded in the third round had not been recommended by Sport Australia based on a merit-assessment process that considered community need and increased participation.

It’s the fact that 73% of the grants were not recommend which means someone else, presumably McKenzie, decided on the grant.

The basis on which the 73% of the grants were made will never be known.

The suspicion is that this decision was made on political grants, namely the allocation of funds to marginal electorates.

But it is also another important issue. There will be a large number of clubs whose grants were recommended who will not be getting money as result of the Minister’s intervention.

These people have every reason to be extremely angry.

And they will be all the more angry when they see the examples of McKinsey’s largesse.

The list of the 73% of grants that the Minister approved should be made public.

That way it will be possible for us to see if the grants made to Camberwell Hockey Club ($38,000) ,East Camberwell Tennis Club ($90,000), Kew Little Athletics ($92,450), Grace Park Hawthorn Club ($25,000) and Hawthorn Malvern Hockey Centre ($500,000) were recommended by Sports Australia because all of these sporting clubs are in Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s electorate of Kooyong.

When a total of $745,000 is allocated to one electorate, it is reasonable that some degree of transparency should prevail.

Bridget McKenzie is not the only one responsible for the sporting grants rorts.

Systems Theory tells us that structure determines behaviour. In an organisational or political sense, this means that the structure in which people work is the primary determinant of their behaviour rather than individual personality traits, abilities and faults.

Systems theory also looks to determine Events, Patterns and Structures when understanding how the organisation functions.

In looking at Bridget McKenzie it is obvious that one event, probably a complaint about an unsuccessful application, triggered a response that identified a pattern of behaviours.

The next step is to determine whether the event in question is a one off or that it is part of a pattern of behaviour.

Once a pattern of behaviour is identified, the next step is to identify the organisational political structures are producing this pattern of behaviour.

This phenomenon is often depicted as a pyramid

This diagram indicates that structures are the basis of all behaviour and organisations. If if an organisation wishes to change patterns of behaviour and it must change the fundamental structures that drive those patterns of behaviour.

It also indicates that the Mental models of the participants are the fundamental basis for the way the structures have been developed

Source JOHN M. GERBER SYSTEMS THINKING TOOLS:
FINDING THE ROOT CAUSE(S) OF BIG PROBLEMS

Often this phenomenal is described as an iceberg, to indicate which parts of the system are easily observable.

The Mental Models of the members of an organisation or a political party underpins everything they do. The way they act, the way structure of their organisations, the way they run their political campaigns.

I don’t wish to be an apologist from Bridget McKenzie but her behaviours were a result of the system in which she worked and at the time of the grants that system included the pressure to win what looked like being an unwinnable election.

It is unlikely that Bridget McKenzie was acting alone. She clearly had accomplices, they were the LNP politicians who went round announcing grants to sports clubs in their electorates.

The publicly known examples of this are:

Greg Hunt announced a 147,000 grant for McCrae Yacht Club in his electorate.

Nationals leader and Deputy Prime Minister Mr McCormack alerted the Minister to an application from his son’s football club the Mangoplah-Cookardinia United Eastlakes Football and Netball Club for $147,000

Saying  “Upon learning (presumably from his son) the MCUE Club had lodged an application… and recused myself from any comment, advocacy or otherwise  youin relation to this application,’’

The grant application was successful.

Scott Morrison’s local soccer club, the Lilli Pilli Football Club, got $200,000, an amount it started spending before the grants were announced. Lilli Pilli’s grant was the largest awarded to people in Mr Morrison’s electorate of Cook.

Mr Frydenberg economically well-endowed seat of Kooyong, grants were given to Camberwell Hockey Club ($38,000) ,East Camberwell Tennis Club ($90,000), Kew Little Athletics ($92,450), Grace Park Hawthorn Club ($25,000) and Hawthorn Malvern Hockey Centre ($500,000) 

Senator McKenzie in Victoria downplayed her membership at a shooting club that received almost $36,000 in the sports grants program she oversaw. The club is the Wangaratta Clay Target Club in Victoria. McKenzie is a Victorian National Party Senator.

It now appears that McKenzie will step down as a minister but remain in Parliament.

She is undoubtedly will be a scapegoat in this whole sordid affair. There is nothing to suggest that she was not a willing participant. And the buck stops at the top. She was a minister responsible for grants and she intervened against the advice of the bureaucrats.

The question is Cui bono? Who benefits?

There are a number of beneficiaries 

McKenzie would not have been acting on her own, there is some suggestion that the Prime Minister’s office may have been involved. Certainly, those MPs who announced grants in marginal electorates would have been.

The Systems Theorist will tell you that removing individuals from an organisational structure does not change the behaviour of the organisation. It may change the behaviour of the individual but in Mackenzie’s case she will be much less influential. But the structures that produced her behaviour will not have been changed and the person who takes her place will be subject to the same pressures as she was.

But this individual we have learned from McKenzie’s mistakes and will do a much better job rolling out the porkbarrel next time.

Anyone who thinks that sacking Bridget McKenzie has solved the problem is wrong.

McKenzie will be profoundly disappointed and probably very angry at being made the scapegoat for this sordid affair.

The people who benefited politically have paid no price for their participation in this rort.

So we should not get ourselves that justice has been done simply by setting McKenzie.

Continued resistance from the Roman Catholic Church to providing justice and compensation to the victims of paedophile priests

The ABC reports In an open letter, delivered on the eve of a WA trial, the Christian Brothers have admitted several brothers sexually abused child migrant John Thomas Lawrence for years from the age of nine in two Perth boys’ homes.

Many instances of abuse against Mr Lawrence have been admitted to by the Christian Brothers. Photo ABC News

But a lawyer for the organisation has argued he deserves a lower compensation payout than what his lawyers have sought because his poor upbringing meant he had a low earning capacity, regardless of the abuse.

This is what the Christian Brothers have admitted:

  • Six rapes by now deceased brother Lawrence Murphy
  • Brother Francis Marques, who is also dead, molested Mr Lawrence while they watched movies.
  • Brother, Alonzo Angus, fondled his genitals.
  • A lay teacher, Joey Jackson, who has also since died, made Mr Lawrence wear lipstick and a dress while he abused him.

Establishing the amount of compensation for the victims of paedophile priests must be a complex matter and one method is to establish lost earnings.

But this method assumes that the victim was able to fulfil their potential in later life. The sad stories presented at the Royal Commission would indicate that very few of the children molested by paedophile priests ever had a very good life or a good career. That is if they didn’t commit suicide.

Many seem to have had lives of drug and alcohol addiction, almost certainly as result of the horrendous experiences during childhood.

And now the Christian Brothers are arguing that John Lawrence  didn’t amount to much and shouldn’t be given too much compensation.

It’s absolutely disgraceful and I’m sure many right-thinking Catholics will be appalled at this shockingly insensitive behaviour.

A pretty good birthday lunch at Stillwater at Crittenden

It was Di’s 70th birthday and we booked at Stillwater for Nick, Susie and Matilda, Simon and Winton and Pat.

The good bits: this restaurant is extremely family friendly, tolerant of young children moving about the dining room and with a large area outside where they can play. 

It is a wonderful location. The view towards the lake is beautiful. There are also units overlooking the lake on the property which can be rented. It would be an excellent place as a base for touring the Peninsula.

The deal is 2 courses for $65 or 3 courses for $80 

The food is pretty good and excellently presented.

Twice cooked pork belly, fennel & apple salad, romesco sauce, chorizo crumbs & green chilli oil, 

Slow cooked lamb shoulder, garlic puree, peas, broad beans, labna, toasted grains 

Market fish 

Hand cut potato chips, rosemary salt & aioli (2x)

Char-grilled asparagus & broccolini with lemon oil & smoked paprika almonds (2x)

A platter of 4 types of cheese to share for $48 

Housemade ice creams & sorbet 

And two kids’ menus of fish and chips which the two children didn’t like and consequently didn’t eat

We also had half dozen beers

Stillwater ’17 Nero d’alvola Pinot Noir – Mornington Peninsula which was great and a real bargain at $42

A bottle of champagne which was very pleasant.

Two glasses of Foxey’s Hangout ’17 Pinot Gris Late Harvest nothing to write home about

You would have to say we ate well. The bill was $740 which works out at about $120 a head for the adults and about $20 for the kids is probably that on the pricey side for six adults and two kids.

The service is friendly but unbelievably slow. We waited over an hour for our first courses to arrive and even longer for the main courses. One of the kid’s meals arrived at the beginning of meal and the other arrived after main courses. The order was forgotten. It’s not encouraging when you see your wait staff sitting outside chatting with her friends while a frustrated five-year-old wants to know why he hasn’t got his fish and chips. 

Overall, It was a wonderful afternoon, the food is pretty good if not outstanding, the local wines are extremely reasonably priced and it is great place for small kids. It’s a pretty good package.

However, If I were looking for a wonderful eating experience for visitors on the Peninsula, I probably wouldn’t choose Stillwater ahead of Paringa Estate. 

That being said, many of the Vineyard restaurants on the Peninsula are now horrendously expensive with a fixed price Seasonal tasting menu costing $195 per person at Ten Minutes by Tractor without wine and at Montalto A Taste of Our Estate costs $160 and with paired wine $250.

Bridget McKenzie’s sports grants: The Mangoplah-Cookardinia United Eastlakes Football and Netball Club

The Auditor-General’s report last week slammed Senator McKenzie over her handling of the $100 million program, revealing she and her staff intervened hundreds of times to overturn the merit-based assessments of applications for cash from sporting groups.

THE AGE: Nationals leader and Deputy Prime Minister Mr McCormack strongly supported his deputy yesterday and rejected suggestions the program was manipulated to fund his son’s football club, Mangoplah-Cookardinia United Eastlakes Football and Netball Club, in December 2018.

McKenzie and MacCormack in deep discussion. PHOTO: The Australian

At the time Mr McCormack’s son, Alex, was treasurer of the club. He told The Age neither he nor his son had any involvement in the club’s decision to apply, or its application for funding under the program.

‘‘Upon learning the MCUE Club had lodged an application, I alerted Senator McKenzie verbally about my family connection to the club and recused myself from any comment, advocacy or otherwise in relation to this application,’’ Mr McCormack said.

What the cynical observer might think is going on

Nationals leader and Deputy Prime Minister Mr McCormack learns that his son’s footie club, Mangoplah-Cookardinia United Eastlakes Football and Netball Club, has applied for a sports grant.

McCormack then goes to the Minister, Agriculture Minister and deputy leader of the National party Senator Bridget McKenzie and says, “Look my son’s son’s footie club, you’ve probably never heard of it, the Mangoplah-Cookardinia United Eastlakes Football and Netball Club has applied for a grant of $147,000 grant. I want to let you know this so that there will be no implication that I have in any way influenced the success or otherwise of this grant.”

Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

And what happens as result of this declaration? The Minister, has been made aware of the Mangoplah-Cookardinia United Eastlakes Football and Netball Club and has been made aware of it by her boss.

The Minister has the right of veto over successful applications assessed by government agency Sport Australia and can direct funding where she sees fit.

A right which she is not afraid to exercise.

And what happened to the application from the Mangoplah-Cookardinia United Eastlakes Football and Netball Club.

Strangely, it was successful. 

Which have nothing to do with the fact that the Nationals leader and Deputy Prime Minister Mr McCormack had made it quite clear to the Minister responsible that he did not want to influence the decision-making in any way.

Just as information

Mangoplah is a town south of Wagga Wagga in the Riverina region of New South Wales, Australia. At the 2016 census, Mangoplah had a population of 309

Cookardinia is a locality in the Riverina region of New South Wales, Australia.. Its surrounding area has an approximate population of 283 persons.

Michael McCormack is the member for the Division of Riverina in New South Wales and was born in Wagga Wagga.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Who guards the guardians.

Recently we have had the unedifying spectacle of two ex-police Commissioners unable to agree on some fairly central matters of fact at the Royal Commission into the Management of Police 

Late last year former Victoria Police chief commissioner, Christine Nixon, gave evidence, she told the inquiry that she was never told Ms Gobbo was a police informer.

She was referring to barrister-turned-police-informer Nicola Gobbo – the drug lord Tony Mokbel’s lawyer.

Ex-Commissioner Simon Overland testified ” I note that I was involved in 14 meetings with Ms Nixon regarding Purana Taskforce matters and I believe that I did in fact inform her (Ms Nixon) of Ms Gobbo’s recruitment on 29 September 2005,” 

Simon Overland leaves the royal commission on Tuesday.CREDIT:AAP

This recollection was based on his diaries.

When he initially took the stand late last year, Simon Overland told the royal commission he never kept diaries or day books.

Just days later, the royal commission was informed that Victoria Police had found Mr Overland’s diaries from 2003, 2004 and 2007.

See The AGE for a more detailed account.

Mr Overland took the stand to tell the inquiry he was “none the wiser” about the existence of the diaries.  “I was convinced they didn’t exist,” Mr Overland said.

So it would appear that one of them is telling Porky’s. It is difficult for the public to know which.

Mr Overland’s assertion appears to be backed up by his diaries, which he denied writing.

So now the public is in a position of not knowing which of to contradictory accounts by the ex-Commissioners of Police are true, it can’t be both as the two accounts appear to be totally incompatible.

How can the public have confidence in the senior command of the Victorian Police force when this occurs?

Particularly when ” Victoria’s ex-police chief Simon Overland believes corrupt police stopped successful prosecutions against drug king Tony Mokbel. “I believe all previous investigations had been compromised. They had been compromised probably by corrupt police officers in Victoria Police.”

Mr Overland described Victoria Police as being the most “indiscreet” organisation he’d come across.

So the question remains: Who protects the public from corrupt police and the contradictions involved in the evidence of Commissioners Simon Overland and Christine Nixon.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Scott Morrison regards hazard reduction as more important than emissions control

“Hazard reduction is as important as emissions reduction,” the prime minister told Sky News on Tuesday.

Mr Morrison flagged clear national standards for meeting hazard reduction targets, along with a review of land-clearing laws, native vegetation rules and allowing grazing in national parks.

Cattle grazing in National Parks in Queensland

SMH: Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall is renewing calls for grazing to be permitted in national parks to help manage fuel loads.

It is probably no coincidence that one of Mr Morrison’s ideas for hazard reduction also happens to a major plank of National party policy

Any hopes we might have and that there will be action on emissions control are being subjected to a death by 1000 cuts.

Morrison is shifting the debate away from emissions control the hazard reduction as if they are one and the same thing.

They are not and to link them together is pure sophistry.

Hazard reduction may be an important technique for the control of bushfires. But it is a relatively small issue in the greater scheme of global warming where CO2 emissions are the reason for the degradation of our ozone layer and for global warming.

This is a typical “Scotty from Marketing” trick. It involves changing the assumptions of an argument on a completely illogical basis and then arguing in every forum where it is possible such as ABC interviews on 730.

“We report all the time on what our emissions reductions are, but across the country there is not a national system of reporting to track how hazard reduction is progressing,” he said.

The difficulty is that there is probably no one left to conduct this kind of research particularly in Australia’s major scientific organisation the CSIRO which has had its staffing cut as result of Draconian budget cuts instituted by the Abbott government

The Guardian: In 2014, the Abbott Government’s $110 million science funding cut preceded a loss of 1400 staff across CSIRO. The losses bit particularly hard in regional areas.

The Guardian: In 2016, Up to 350 positions at Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation will be made redundant,

It is anticipated that there will be further staff cuts as the CSIRO moves towards a new business model of a more commercial and digital technology focus under the leadership of Chief executive of the national science agency, Larry Marshall who was a silicon valley entreprener before his appointment.

These cuts have threatened Scientific research between the Bureau of Meteorology, CSIRO and the university sector

Exactly the people that Scott Morrison will need to rely on for advice on a national system for reporting and tracking hazard reduction

Labor backs away from any chance of realistic action on emission

Australia is now in danger of losing all credibility in it’s attempts to make significant and meaningful reduction in carbon emissions.

THE AGE (20/1/2020)

The federal Labor leader on Sunday labelled Bill Shorten’s decision to take a 45 per cent target by 2030 to last year’s election a “mistake”, but said he would have a “very strong” policy that aimed to be “as ambitious as possible”.

The Coalition has set a target of 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels, but Prime Minister Scott Morrison this month said the government would look to “meet and beat” it.

The problem with the current debate is that it rests on the concept of simply “cutting emissions” and then setting some arbitrary target.

The issue is not simply a matter of level of emissions cuts.

The issue is how do we get to a point with the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is decreasing.

This is dependent on two things: amount of carbon into the atmosphere and the amount that the carbon sinks (the forests, atmosphere and the oceans) can absorb.

This can be demonstrated by a very simple stock/flow diagram

The stock of atmospheric carbon is the difference between inflow and outflow

Put in simple terms: there needs to be more Co2 coming out of the system than is going in if there is to be a reduction in atmospheric carbon dioxide.

When you view the issue through the lens of the stock flow diagram, is obvious that there are two policy levers. The first is cutting the amount of atmosphere going into the atmosphere and the second is increasing the rate at which the carbon comes out of the atmosphere.

Looking at simply using carbon emission reduction it is possible to see what level of mission is necessary to reduce the amount of emissions.

The only way they can be an increase in the amount of CO2 coming out of the atmosphere is increasing the carbon sink capacity of the planet’s forests.

For simplicity, this model assumes that immediate reduction can be made in CEO to omissions.

Using public data on carbon sink capacity and global emissions, it would require an immediate reduction of 80% to reduce emissions to carbon sink capacity.

Impact of an 80% reduction in global emissions immediately in the year 2020

Obviously, the reduction of this level immediately is simply impossible but this shows the extent of the problem and inadequacy of reductions in emissions of 20%.

If the 80% target were to be achieved gradually by 2030 (or some other date impossibly far in the future), it is not until the 80% target is reached that the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is reduced to a point where the carbon sinks can cope with it.

Impact of a gradual introduction to 80% emissions reduction.

If the 80% target were to be achieved gradually by 2030 (or some other date impossibly far in the future), it is not until the 80% target is reached that the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is reduced to a point where the carbon sinks can cope with it all

The important consideration here is the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. With an 80% reduction, there is still no reduction in the total amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The effects of global warming will continue.

It is at this point that we need to consider second policy option which is increasing the carbon sink capacity. This can only be done by reversing the disastrous process of deforestation particularly in Indonesia but also in other countries and increasing the forests capacity through massive forestation projects.

With massive increases in forestation, global CO2 to begins to reduce by 2027

Without either party adopting a realistic approach to emissions into forestation policy, Australia is rapidly become irrelevant not only in world opinion but in action on climate change.

Without both major political parties adopting a realistic approach to meaningful emissions targets and to a massive forestation policy, Australia rapidly become irrelevant not only in world opinion but also in action on climate change

A SIMPLE IDEA FOR THE EMISSION TARGETS

The Australian bushfires has restarted the debate on emissions targets.

The debate about emissions targets is always couched in percentage terms which makes it easy for the opponents of any form of reduction to argue that Australia’s emissions are amongst the lowest in the world in absolute terms so were not really  a large part of the problem. However, our emission rates are amongst the highest on a per capita basis.

So here’s an idea.

Each nation needs to provide carbon sinks at least equal to their emission rates. In addition, each nation will be allowed credit for an area of ocean (which absorbs carbon dioxide) equal to its landmass.

SINK.jpeg

This will set equitable goals for carbon reduction rather than simply insisting that people produce by 45% by 2030 etc.

It shouldn’t be too difficult to do the sums.

Getting agreement may be more difficult. China and America are going have to accept a large amount of the responsibility for controlling climate change.

But this system allows a measurement that will circumvent many of the arguments of the climate deniers, particularly in Australia.

It’s probably not going to cut much ice with Trump administration in the US, but with Trump in the White House, logic and reason has gone out the door.

Unfortunately, there is little sign that the question of realistic emissions targets is going to be dealt with by a climate-denial government in Canberra, despite the platitudes currently being issued by the Prime Minister.