It’s the end of the world as we know it

July 2, 2012

Day 2 under the cruel yoke of the ‘carbon tax’.

It’s true. It’s all true. How blind we were not to see it! This toxic tax is destroying us all.

I’m reporting to you from my bunker in Townsville, where the unseasonably warm weather is just one sign of how devastating this tax has been. Now, what I have to say might shock readers,, but I’m committed to bring you the truth – no matter how ugly.

As I write this, I look around me at the ruin of our civilisation. In this once-neat middle-class suburb, I can see lawns that need mowing, dogs romping – without leashes in the park opposite, and the raucous, triumphant laughter of the lorikeets drowns out the sound of the lamenting populace.

Tony Abbott was right. This tax is hurting us all. Why, just last night we were forced to choose between Masterchef and The Block. What sort of government institutes a tax that divides families like that?

And it gets worse. We’d planned a family roast dinner, but because of the carbon tax, the meat was undercooked and we had to eat in the dark.

Today, we plan to venture out into the chaos to see what can be salvaged. We’ll have to walk, of course – we need to conserve what little petrol remains for when we’ll inevitably have to flee. It’s just a question of where. We could probably survive in the mountains, but it might be better for us to sell whatever we can and get on a boat. I’m sure we could find a country generous enough to take in carbon tax refugees.

It’s the children who suffer most, and my heart breaks to see them. My niece can no longer access Facebook, and my teenage nephew had to wake up at (dear god) 7.00 am and go to work.

My computer’s batteries are dying now, so I’ll have to finish this entry and hope it gets out. People need to know.

Just remember – it’s only going to get worse from here. Soon, we’ll be reduced to living in armed camps and eating each other for food – uncooked, of course. Tony Abbott warned us and we didn’t listen.

And he couldn’t possibly be wrong, could he? Just look at the evidence.

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Tony Abbott, secret Socialist

April 16, 2012

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott – sometimes he’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Today, he was out making the rounds of the businesses and calling media conferences in order to warn us all about the dangers of the ‘carbon tax’ – again. Honestly, you have to wonder if the local businesses in Canberra keep a look-out when Parliament is sitting, just in case he’s cruising the streets looking for a photo op.

Imagine it.

‘Hey, Jim? There’s the Oppo Leader’s car again.’

‘Quick, turn the sign around! We’ll hide behind the counter and be really quiet.’

But I digress.

Today’s speech was pretty much the same as all his other speeches … ‘great Australian business, manufacturing is our lifeblood, carbon tax will destroy the economy, government out of touch, etc, etc, ad nauseam‘. Yawn … cut, paste, move on. But then there was this gem:

‘I call on the workers of Australia to rise up, to rise up against this carbon tax and let the government know – ‘

Wait, what??

Did Abbott just call for a workers’ revolution? Is he really – gasp – a Secret Socialist???

Oh my god. It all makes sense.

Maybe that’s why he’s been so quick to point the finger at Prime Minister Julia Gillard. He’s trying to deflect suspicion from the Commie pinko skeletons in his own closet! He’s not really an economic and social conservative – that’s just a cover. All this time, he’s been hiding a Che Guevara t-shirt in his bottom drawer and hiding copies of Das Kapital and Chairman Mao’s little red book inside those biographies of Robert Menzies. He’s a sleeper agent, and now he’s revealed himself to the world. Any moment now, his horde of Secret Socialist Ninjas will leap into action.

I mean, it’s obvious, isn’t it? Think about it. Why else would he wear red budgie smugglers?

The Secret Socialist Revealed!

Can you see him embracing the union representatives? Leading the Workers’ March on Canberra, standing proudly in front of the banners, chanting ‘the workers united will never be defeated’? Exhorting the crowd and storming into the House of Representatives to seize the Parliament for the people? Hand on heart, singing the Internationale (or possibly ‘Do you Hear the People Sing?’ from Les Miserables)?

Yeah. Me neither.

The idea of Abbott as Workers’ Champion is so ludicrous that there’s really nothing to be gained by arguing the point. His party’s policies at best ignore the needs and rights of Australian workers – but you don’t need me to tell you that.

So there’s really only one thing to be done here – and that’s to treat this ridiculous ‘rise up, workers’ routine for what it is.

Pure comedy.


The CIA, the Greens, and the time-travelling carbon tax

March 21, 2012

Sometimes, Australian politics is a gift that just keeps on giving.

By now, there’s probably not a person with access to any form of media that hasn’t heard about the Great CIA-Greens Conspiracy, helpfully revealed to us by mining magnate Clive Palmer. But just in case you’ve been hiding in a shack in the rainforest while wearing a tinfoil hat, here’s the gist:

The CIA wants to destroy the Australian coal industry. This would mean that the US coal industry could snap up our international markets. In order to accomplish this dastardly goal, they are funnelling money to groups like Greenpeace. And to the Australian Greens.

Via, of course, the Rockefeller Foundation, itself a long-time target of conspiracy wing-nuts, I mean theorists.

Because of this terrible situation, all Greens MPs should immediately resign. Conveniently, Palmer also demanded that those planning to run in Saturday’s Queensland state elections should withdraw their candidacy. This … this … dirty dealing, this funny money from international governments, must stop!

Shocking, isn’t it? Why, this could destroy the foundations of Australian politics as we know it!

Mr Palmer? You’re a significant contributor to the Queensland Liberal National Party, aren’t you? A vocal opponent of both carbon pricing and the mining super profits tax, which are foundational policies for the Greens? And aren’t you suing the management of one of your own hotels, alleging they’re – goodness me – illegally sending money to the US?

I think that’s known as seeing a theme. Or possibly smelling a rat. Or both.

Speaking of rats, the Opposition – recipients of Palmer’s largesse – is doing a fine job of impersonating them leaving a sinking ship, as the media descend upon them with glee. Tell us, they cry, what you think about Clive Palmer’s accusations!

Ever been at a party when someone has broken wind? Remember how everyone near them slowly edges away, while trying to look terribly casual?

Yeah.

They’re not doing themselves any favours. Really, the best thing to do would be to simply tell the media that Palmer’s entitled to his view, but it’s not one they share. Instead, they’re dancing around the question, looking for all the world like they secretly agree with him.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s response was particularly painful. He forced a laugh that actually sounded like it was causing him pain, and commented of Palmer: ‘he’s … (heh, heh) a larger than life character’.

Who presumably needs a larger than life tinfoil hat. Or, at least, a media advisor who can tell him it’s time to get off the podium and stop reading AboveTopSecret before bed.

But it gets better.

We all know that the Opposition believes the sky will fall when carbon pricing is introduced. It’s not like we can forget, after all – their elected members make a point of cramming their ‘carbon tax’ talking points into speeches on everything from superannuation legislation to grammatical corrections of current acts. It’s their favourite boogeyman, and they do so love to drag it out of the wardrobe for the purposes of frightening us whenever they can.

But guess what? Not only will this ‘carbon tax’ make the sky fall when it’s introduced on July 1 this year – it’s already doing so! In fact – gasp – it must have travelled back in time!

No, really. I’m not kidding.

The ‘carbon tax’ pushed up electricity prices starting from 2007. The ‘carbon tax’ forced any one of a dozen small businesses to lay off workers or close altogether months ago. The ‘carbon tax’ reduced our senior citizens to huddling around a candle for warmth because they couldn’t pay their gas bills. It’s driven up food prices! House prices! Petrol! Our international reputation, small country towns and trade – all in the process of collapse!

Yes, folks, this may be the single most powerful piece of legislation ever enacted. Forget SkyNet and its remorseless Terminators – it’s the ‘carbon tax’ that will destroy the world.

Sorry, is already destroying the world.

Or has destroyed the world? (looks out the window) Nope, there are houses still standing. Must be a work in progress.

What’s that, you say? There was a global financial crisis? Electricity prices started going up long before 2007? The price of petrol depends largely on the price of oil, set by Middle Eastern cartels?

Pshaw. You’re just not looking hard enough. For those in the know, the ‘carbon tax’ can be easily spotted lurking in the background of old photos, leaving behind traces of its nefarious activities.

It’s possible, even, that the ‘carbon tax’ was responsible for the disappearance of Prime Minister Harold Holt. After all, he was a Liberal PM, and this agent of destruction – sorry, Agent of Destruction, it really deserves capitals – is a creature of Labor’s making.

(Oh, sorry, Senator Eric Abetz, the ‘Labor-Greens Majority Alliance’s making’. Let’s not forget that little bit of space-cadet scripture – the idea that Labor and the Greens are in ideological lock-step.)

So let’s see if I’ve got this straight. The Greens are taking CIA money to kill our coal industry, while the ‘carbon tax’ travels back in time to destroy Life As We Know It. (Really, it’s a wonder the Greens bother – they could just sit back and let the ‘Carbon Tax of Doom’ do the job for them.)

Really, none of this sort of thing is new. You don’t have to travel far on Teh Interwebs to find someone claiming Elvis is alive, the Moon landing was faked, Satanic messages can be found by playing rock and/or roll music backwards, and 9/11 was an attack mounted by the US on its own citizens. And that’s without needing to go anywhere near David Icke and the Lizard People That Rule The World. (I’m looking at you, Your Majesty.)

The difference here is the profile, and the amount of power these people can command. Palmer is a billionaire, and money buys a lot of influence. The Federal Opposition are elected representatives who have their speeches preserved, repeated and interpreted by the media, the public, and our international trade and alliance partners. That makes these notions of a CIA Conspiracy and a Time-Travelling ‘Carbon Tax’ of Doom not only ridiculous, but potentially damaging in financial and trade markets.

Not to mention the howls of derisive laughter directed towards us.

Do Clive Palmer and the Opposition have the right to say what they believe? Sure – although I’d question the ‘right’ of anyone to deliberately spread lies. But, why not? Let’s grant them the right to free speech.

As long as we have the right to mock them mercilessly for the dingleberries they show themselves to be.


You can’t make this stuff up

March 15, 2012

As unlikely as it may seem, there are days when Parliament debates substantial issues – climate change, mining revenue, the woeful lack of mental health infrastructure …

And then there are days like today.

We had Christopher Pyne, Shadow Spokesperson for Education and Manager of Opposition Business in the House, launch into a full-throated attack. His argument seemed to be a variation of ‘for want of a nail, etc’, but somewhere along the line his logic became a little tangled.

Let’s see if we can tease it out:

* the government has terrible border protection policies (read: people are coming here in boats!)

* because they have terrible border protection policies, they have to spend lots and lots of extra money trying to fix things (read: stop the evil refugees seeking our help at all costs!)

* because they spend money trying to ‘fix’ border protection, more guns have turned up in Australia (wait, what?)

* because there are more guns, there are more bikie gang wars in South Australia

* therefore, the government is responsible for bikie gang wars in South Australia because they didn’t stop the boats.

No, I’m not kidding.

Of course, you can see the nasty little implication, can’t you? All these evil boat people who the government can’t keep out must be bringing the guns in with them … and presumably selling them to their bikie contacts in Adelaide. Perhaps it was even all planned this way!

Funny, I never knew that the Hells Angels had chapters in Afghanistan.

As ludicrous as it sounds, this was the subject of a serious speech in Parliament today from a senior member of the Opposition. Bad refugee policy equals bikie gang wars.

But if you think that’s absurd, try this.

In Question Time today, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott asked an apparently serious question of the Prime Minister: why hadn’t she taken the recommendations of the Future Fund and appointed former Treasurer Peter Costello as its head?

Fair question, actually. Why wouldn’t you choose the guy who actually set up the fund in the first place? The long-serving Federal Treasurer who left the Budget in surplus when Labor was elected to government back in 2007? The very person, in fact, who the fund’s Board wanted for the job?

Well, there are a number of reasons, actually, and Stephen Koukoulas lays them out in devastating fashion. But let’s put those aside for a moment, because Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s answer said all that needed to be said: because the government decided that, notwithstanding the recommendation of the Board, they felt that someone else would do better. That someone, David Gonski, has a resume at least as impressive as Costello’s – and without the partisan political history.

Abbott was fairly outplayed – not that this stopped him. Before Gillard’s backside had hit her seat, he was up at the box again, using a supplementary question to press the point. Not to be outdone, Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey joined in, and their combined questions started to bear a suspicious resemblance to an annoying three-year-old: ‘But whyyyyy???’

And then we truly entered the realm of the ridiculous. Abbott attempted to suspend standing orders for the 46th time since the Gillard minority government came to power. In itself, that would have been enough to qualify as a stupid waste of Parliamentary time. It was the substance of the motion, however, that carried the day.

Abbott called on Gillard to ‘explain herself’. Why hadn’t she appointed Costello? What did she think she was doing? How dare she and Finance Minister Penny Wong make a decision that didn’t slavishly follow a recommendation with which he agreed?

It was unbelievable. Here was Abbott attempting to take the government to task for not practising nepotism – not providing ‘jobs for the boys’. This was the same Opposition that pointed the finger and cried foul when former Labor leader Kim Beazley was appointed as our US Ambassador (while conveniently failing to complain when former Nationals leader Tim Fisher became Ambassador to the Vatican). There should be no favouritism – apparently unless it means that a former big-name Liberal misses out on a plum government job.

And it got worse. Gonski was an ‘outsider’, Abbott argued. How can we trust him to do the job properly?

This from the man who outright accused Treasury of corruption in order to justify bringing in an outside accounting firm to go over the Coalition’s costings during the 2010 election campaign.

Remember, all of this was in context of Abbott attempting to interrupt the normal business of the House. The matter of Peter Costello not getting a job was so important that all other business had to immediately cease.

(It must have given Costello a warm glow to hear that. Certainly warmer than when his former colleagues refused to support him for the Liberal Party leadership and chose instead to engage in some truly vicious character assassination.)

But really, it was Hockey who walked away with the award for the week’s Most Nonsensical Argument, when he rose to second the motion.

Basically, it boiled down to this: it’s OUR Fund and it’s OUR turn. (Insert metaphorical foot stamp and pout.)

Yes, you see, it was a Coalition government that created the Future Fund. It’s too good for the likes of some grubby little Labor appointee. Why, you could say it’s … it’s … Costello’s birthright! Hand it over at once, and let the man lead as he was born to do!

Okay, I may be paraphrasing a little there. But this … is pure Hockey. This was how he wound up his speech:

‘If the government won’t do the right thing and appoint Peter Costello to chair the Future Fund … then they should get out of the way and let us govern!’

(Flourish, decisive nod of the head, retire to seat and stare at the government in self-righteous indignation.)

Yes, you read that right.

Hockey seemed to think that was a stinging ultimatum. It was an utter absurdity.

What does he expect? Perhaps the scenario plays out like this in Hockey’s mind:

Gillard, crushed by Hockey’s inescapable argument, suddenly stands up and says, ‘Whoops, Joe, you’re right there. We want our man in the Future Fund job, so I’ll just swap places with Tony here and off you go, Bob’s your uncle – Bob Menzies, of course, wouldn’t want you think I meant our Bob, ha ha. Oi, Swanny, hand over the cash box, it’s Joe’s turn now.’

Everyone in the House shuffles chairs, and a message is sent to the Senate telling them the news. Joyous bells ring out across the land as people everywhere celebrate their rescue from the terror of doing it hard on $160,000 a year, and a New Golden Age of Prosperity and Corporate Success dawns as unicorns gallop gracefully over the rolling hills of the Australian capitalist utopia.

Which is a scenario as ridiculous as Hockey’s demand. I mean, honestly. Does Hockey really think Gillard will call an election just because he tells her to do so? And then what? Not campaign? Put out an ad telling everyone she’s decided to ‘let’ the Coalition govern? All on his say-so?

It’s probably a good thing that this is the end of the Parliamentary week, because – barring a sudden invasion of clowns into the Senate, the Clerks deciding to play Jenga with the accumulated volumes of Hansard, or the Serjeant-at-Arms running amok in the Press Gallery with the Mace – I don’t think it could get any stupider than this.

And the worst part of it is that, apart from a small amount of exaggeration here and there (and the occasional unicorn), it’s all true. As the man says, you can’t make this stuff up.

These are the people we elected. Depressing, isn’t it?


Never mind hygiene, how about some manners?

January 10, 2012

Ah, Summer. The time of slow news days, photo opportunities for local pollies in their own electorate, and the occasional human interest story about Opposition Leader Tony Abbott just missing out on a close call with a shark down at Manly Beach. Unfortunately, it’s also a time when politicians tend to get a little … indiscreet with their words.

Exhibit A: Opposition MP Teresa Gambaro.

Ms Gambaro’s got it all worked out – and by ‘it’, I mean that pesky immigrant problem. You know, the one that apparently affects every facet of our lives, yet somehow fails to make much more than the slightest blip on people’s personal radars. And just what is that problem?

Hygiene.

Yes, you read that right. According to Gambaro, immigrants just doesn’t understand ‘Australian norms’. They don’t know how to line up in a queue, or wear deodorant on public transport. These things are part of our Australian way of life, gosh darn it, and it’s about time these immigrants were taught how to fit in. Cultural awareness classes, that’s what they need. But how to do it?

Perhaps we could offer a Certificate I in Being Australian at TAFE, specifically target at migrants. We could teach them the time-honoured traditions of the sausage sizzle and the post-footy booze-up. We could instruct them in the proper way to apply white zinc and yell at cricket umpires. Special practical classes could teach them how to hold the deodorant spray the required few inches from the armpit, and just how long to hold down the trigger. For advanced students, elective units in using roll-ons might be a good idea. And while we’re at it, we can practice lining up – perhaps at the canteen at lunchtime.

Of course, we’ll have to employ only the most qualified teachers for such an important course. The government could look at offering incentives to encourage tertiary students to take up a career in Cultural Awareness Training.

But why stop there? After all, learning shouldn’t stop when people leave school, right? We need to put community initiatives in place, and while we’re at it, we can cut the jobless numbers at the same time.

We’ll need Bath Inspectors to make sure people are taking the required number of baths or showers each week. We can’t trust those immigrants to self-report on this issue – it’s far too important. For that matter, there should be Handwashing Monitors installed in all schools and public toilets, just to make sure proper procedure is followed. (Hmm, perhaps we’ll also need to teach them how much soap to use, and how to shampoo their hair.)

Then there’s public transport. Obviously, we’ll need a Whiff Patrol to travel at peak times, with the ability to issue infringement notices compelling those with un-deodorised armpits to undertake refresher courses in hygiene.

We’re also going to need Queue Police. We can’t have those dastardly immigrants spoiling our orderly queue culture. It could undermine our whole way of life. They need to know their place.

Or wait, perhaps Gambaro is in the pocket of Big Deodorant, and this is all designed to push Rexona sales …

… I’m sorry, I can’t do this anymore.

What the hell was Gambaro thinking?!

It would be nice to believe this was just the result of a really bad communication skills day. Unfortunately, it seems far more likely it was simply unthinking racism on her part. No doubt Gambaro would say that she didn’t intend to be offensive; she genuinely wants people to be part of ‘our’ culture. And in a way, that’s more worrying than if she had meant to offend. This is the Coalition’s citizenship spokesperson, effectively telling those who wish to become part of our society that they are dirty and ill-mannered, and need to learn civilised behaviour.

Sounds just a tad colonial, doesn’t it?

To be fair, Gambaro also pointed out that many immigrants aren’t aware of some rather more crucial aspects of living in Australian society, such as their rights under a tenancy agreement or Medicare. Had she confined her remarks to these issues, there might even have been some value in the whole interview – because there are real problems with our migration and citizenship program, not least of which is our insistence that migrants be able to spell English words, while we do nothing to prepare them for dealing with our bureaucracies and legal systems.

As it stands, Gambaro’s offensive remarks put her right up there with Senator Cory ‘Islamicisation-by-stealth-through-halal-meat’ Bernardi. It’s utterly shameful that an elected representative – and one charged with the important task of ensuring the government provides the best possible immigration system – uses her ability to command media attention to send a message any even remotely sensible person would regard as nonsensical at best, highly insulting at worst.

It’s not hygiene lessons that are needed here … it’s lessons in basic empathy and good manners. And it isn’t immigrants who should be taking them, Ms Gambaro. It’s you.

(And FYI … telling people you’re the child of migrant parents doesn’t excuse you, either.)


Dancing the Gillard Re-Shuffle

December 12, 2011

There’s a new dance show sweeping Canberra. It’s called the Gillard Re-Shuffle, and it’s hitting the boards just in time for the holiday season. Inspired by the retirement stylings of Nick Sherry, Minister for Small Business, these new fancy moves will undoubtedly put bums on seats for, oh, a matter of days. Of course Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, in his new, self-appointed role of the ‘grinch’ judge for Canberra’s Got Talent, is expected to provide his scathing commentary – but really, we expected that.

So who are the lucky Chorus members finally moving up to the front of the stage? Let’s take a look – and while we’re at it, we might spare a moment’s thought for those whose footwork just doesn’t keep up with the Prime Minister anymore.

Greg Combet, already dancing up a storm in Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, will also learn the moves for Industry and Innovation. In a sneaky switch-up, he’ll be backed up by Chris Evans, who takes over from Kim ‘Comrade’ Carr in Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research. Carr himself will be relegated to the Outer Ministry (or more accurately, the Outer Darkness) in Manufacturing and Defence Materiel.

Brendan O’Connor incorporates into his routine a sideways move, which will bring him into step with Peter Garrett on Education.

Jenny Macklin gives us some Disability Reform to go with her current role in Indigenous and Community Services, and Robert McLelland will display his skills in the excitingly-named but somewhat confusing role of Emergency Management, Housing and Homelessness.

Bill Shorten, long-time ‘faceless man’ of Labor’s Outer Ministry, steps up into a plum solo role in Employment and Workplace Relations, with a bit of Superannuation thrown in for good measure. His place in the supporting cast will be taken up by Mark Arbib, who’ll now be Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Small Business and Sport. As part of his new role, he’ll also be lead performer of business in the Senate.

Sadly, Shorten’s new move somewhat eclipsed the more exciting developments in choreography.

Mark Butler’s finally getting his big break; he’ll take his moves in Mental Health, Ageing and Social Inclusion to the spotlight.

Crowd favourite and QandA veteran Tanya Plibersek is going to wow us with her undoubtedly brilliant interpretation of the Health Ministry.

And finally, Nicola Roxon steps up to take on the traditionally male role of Attorney-General, with additional appearances in Privacy and Freedom of Information. This is a real opportunity for her to shine, especially with a Big Tobacco Freedom of Costume lawsuit looming on the horizon.

Of course, these big dance productions are always cut-throat, and we did have casualties. Comrade Carr was relegated and Kate Ellis lost her supporting role in Status of Women. A retrospective show-reel of their accomplishments will, presumably, be included in the upcoming DVD release.

So there we have the highlights. Few real surprises, some possibly interesting developments, and some sadly unsurprising appointments of Parliamentarians widely considered to be the major movers behind 2010’s shock replacement of former lead dancer Kevin Rudd with Julia Gillard.

‘The Gillard Re-Shuffle’ opens in February 2012. We’ll be watching with interest to see how this new company performs.

*****

(Oh, and if the tone of this article is flippant – it’s because frankly, I just can’t get worked up about this. All last weekend the media was full of ‘ooh, ah, faceless men, scary factionalism’ stuff, as though this re-shuffle was something both unique and significant. The reality? Nothing about this is either surprising or unprecedented. Prime Ministers regularly reward those who support them, and just as regularly demote those who break ranks or simply become too unpopular. It’s about as thrilling as a reality TV show or one of those interminable ‘talent’ quests. So this is all the time I’m going to spend on it – there are some real issues out there in the Australian political landscape that deserve some scrutiny.)


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