UPDATED: Abuse of power and privilege allowed to continue

Posted: May 20, 2014 in Ranting
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I had intended a more organised post expressly for #MondayBlogs. Unfortunately I am so distressed by a number of things it is going to be hard to be coherent .

Australia has just had its new Budget announced last week. The mantra accompanying it is that we all have to do ‘heavy lifting’. Despite repeated economic assessments that Australia is not in a position of budget crisis due to debt, that has continued to be their justification. Despite claim after claim after claim that there would NOT be any increased in taxes or cuts to welfare if this government was elected, it has been promise after promise after promise broken. This evening Treasurer, Joe Hockey, showed some guts in facing a large, hostile audience in a special edition of the current affairs program, Q&A. He did make some valid points. However he also revealed his blatant ignorance of a lot of life’s realities. He ducked the hardest questions by changing the response to addressing something a bit different. And he consistently dodged the matter of the less-affulent being expected to do the ‘heavy lifting’ while the upper end of town are better off under this Budget. Yes, there is a Mickey Mouse ‘deficit tax’ being levied on higher income earners. But that was also accompanied by other preferential treatment which lessens that impact of a temporary 2% increase which would only be introduced in a staged process over time (at least that is what we were told) in what is essentially an additional income tax. And the really high end of town continue to receive big bucks in things like continuing fuel concessions while the ordinary people face an increase in petrol excise at the bowser – not a big increase but an increase all the same while the likes of billionaires Gina Reinhardt and Clive Palmer continue to have ludicrously big fuel concessions. Every monetary gift to people like that simply drives up the profits they are making to their direct financial benefit. Not much ‘heavy lifting’ there.

It is politicians who are making this insistence on ‘heavy lifting’. But how much heavy lifting are they doing? Well the long-standing rort of giving ex-MPs a Gold Ticket for free air travel, is being axed. But that does not impact the current MPs. The MPs are allegedly not going to be receiving indexed wage increases, although I’ll believe it when I see it. However direct wages are not the only thing they receive. There are all the benefits. And these politicians have shown that plenty of them are not above rorting expenses. Late last year an independent investigation broke the news about the ridiculous expense claims being paid for by the tax payers, which were for ludicrous things. Even our Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, was caught out by this. Several years back he billed the tax payers for ‘electoral expenses’ to attend a wedding. The wedding was for his friend and parliamentary colleague, Sophie Mirabella. Abbott justified claiming all his travel and accommodation, presumably accompanied by his wife, because he held a title of manager of government business or some such thing at the time. Consequently he declared the wedding invitation ‘must’ have been sent to his position, not to him personally, therefore making it ‘electoral business’. And he wasn’t the only one. And it wasn’t restricted to just one side of politics. The investigation uncovered all manner of personal things being paid for by the public purse, frequently without even an attempt to justify it as ‘electoral business.’ One of Abbott’s colleagues and his wife traveled interstate, flying business class of course, to take possession of a luxury holiday home, getting the public purse to pay for it as ‘electoral business’. Sounds pretty corrupt to me, possibly even theft. But Federal politicians operate under a protocol, instituted by other politicians, that provided they repay that blatant ripping off of the tax payers when they are caught out, the slate is automatically wiped clean. How many in the real world could get away with that? Bugger all. The rest of us would get sacked. But not politicians including our Prime Minister. And yes, there were MPs other than the Liberals caught by that investigation but just now I don’t want to get even more upset by looking up yet more names.

While the Gold Ticket rort is being ended, there are other questionable things being allowed to continue. For example long-serving, senior MPs get a major gift of lifetime continuing of the public paying their expenses. Recently released data revealed that last year alone, former Prime Minister, Malcom Fraser, billed the public purse for almost a quarter million dollars, largely for ‘office expenses.’ Yet he lost his Prime Ministership and left politics over thirty years ago. Former Prime Minister John Howard, who did not just lose the 2007 Federal election but was only the second sitting Australian Prime Minister to get kicked out entirely by losing his own electorate election, yet last year Howard billed the public purse for well over $300,000! For what? The Australian tax payers are lumbered with not just subsidiing but largely paying for all their post-politics activities! Where’s the ‘heavy lifting’ in that? But don’t expect any government of any political flavour to ever do anything about it because that would mean denying themselves that same post-politics lifetime of milking the taxpayers.

Now let’s have a closer look at the actual conduct of our current Australian Parliament. The Lower House of the Federal Parliament is overseen by the Speaker. The Speaker is elected from the MPs in that House of Parliament. And once they assume that position, they are not just supposed to be a neutral arbiter and enforcer of Parliamentary rules etc, they are required to be. It is also a long-standing protocol that once an MP assumes the position of Speaker, for the purposes of neutrality they are supposed to cease involvement in their party’s political business in relation to matters before the House. Our current Speaker is Bronwyn Bishop, a long-standing MP from the Liberal Party of Australia. One merely has to watch the televised Parliamentary Question Time to see Bishop repeatedly display frankly disgusting bias towards her party colleagues. An anonymous member of the Liberal’s cabinet let out the admission that rather than respect the protocol of standing aside from party business, Bishop didn’t just continue to attend Cabinet meetings, she was an active participant. But the real extent of Bishop’s abuses of her position was caught on video only last Thursday. In the wake of the Opposition Leader’s speech in response to the Budget, there was the  usual applause and cheering from the Opposition, just as there was in government benches in the wake of Tuesday’s Budget Speech. But video very clearly shows Christopher Pyne, as vile a person as there is in our current Parliament and Minister for Education gesturing at Bishop and pointing at the Opposition. And Bishop promptly leaped out of her seat to try and shut down that Opposition reaction. They ignored her and she gave up. However that stunt very clearly demonstrated that Speaker Bronwyn Bishop is blatantly in cahoots with her political party in clear violation of every single rule and protocol that is supposed to apply to her role. Now I am not so innocent or naive to believe that every other Speaker was squeaky clean. But in my 50 years I have NEVER seen such continuing and blatant abuses. And there is NOTHING that can be done about it until such time as her party ceases to be in government.

The above is about Federal politics. But the State level has hardly been squeaky clean. In the State of New South Wales, an Independent Commission Against Corruption has uncovered a disgusting web of political corruption. Initially the Federal level of the Liberal Party were quite delighted by it as it was Australian Labor Party members being show up. As Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott more than once used Question Time to throw muck at the Labor government over the mess in NSW. However Abbott and Co soon had to shut up once ICAC found the corruption well and truly crossed party political lines. NSW has a Liberal-National Party government (which basically means a Liberal government – and for my American friends, forget the dictionary definition of ‘liberal’ and substitute ‘Republican’). The Premier had to resign. The Minister for Police, ditto. Other members of NSW Parliament have had to resign. Others are still under investigation. Then the Assistant Treasurer in our Federal government was named by ICAC. He stood down. Tony Abbott immediately advised the world that this was merely because Arthur Sinodinos was an honourable man, not in any way connected to any of the corrupt activities. But Abbott was soon left with egg on his face once it was revealed that Sinodinos was directly involved with the company owned by the disgraced former Labor Party member at the core of the ICAC investigations, had been a member of its Board and paid big bucks by that company for virtually no work. So now the NSW multi-party corruption has crossed over into Federal politics. Yeah, that’s really honourable, isn’t it? And the putrid stench of corrupt politics doesn’t stick to one side or the other.

Immediately following the program featuring Joe Hockey this evening, on came another current affairs program. And we were greeted with the latest developments in the Rolf Harris case. For my friends outside Australia, Rolf Harris was an Australian institution for as long as I can remember, and I’m almost 51. He was an entertainer, particularly with the kids. At school in the classroom we used to sing his hit songs like Two Little Boys and Jake the Peg. It was this largely children’s entertainment that put him in the position of popularity and influence that he reached. He then took off to live over in the UK in later years. There he continued to be a television presenter and entertainer in a market still largely children and family orientated. Now a couple of years ago after the passing of a British institution, Jimmy Saville, Saville was revealed to have been sexually abusing children for most of his public life. And got away with it. And people knew what he was doing but did not take any action. In the wake of the Saville mess, reports emerged that Rolf Harris had also been molesting children. With the media already climbing all over the Saville affair, enough concerns resulted in police investigation. Harris is now being tried for these offenses. And a growing string of women are coming out with stories of Harris having molested them as children, perhaps not as violently, widely and openly as Saville but an abuser of children all the same – the audience who put him that position in the first place.

Meanwhile back in Australia, another case of child molestation has just come to a close. Hey Dad was a popular comedy program back in the 1980s and 1990s  although it never did much for me. The lead in the show was Robert Hughes. Years later, actress Sarah Monahan, who had been a child on the show, went public about Hughes having molested her. The Hughes response was he would be suing for defamation. But instead of a defamation suit, out come more woman with claims Hughes had similarly been molesting them. He was taken to court on charges of sexual abuse of children, was found guilty and only a few days ago he was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Perhaps a fitting punishment as child abusers do their time very hard in prison. However things were much murkier than was ever dealt with in this investigation. After Monahan first went public with her accusations, other cast members revealed that it was agreed that whenever possible they worked together to shelter Monahan from Hughes. They knew there was something going on. But if that was the case, why was it allowed to continue? At the time the finger was pointed at Gary Reilly of Reilly Productions which produced Hey Dad, with suggestions that due to the program’s popularity, the word was that Hughes was to be left alone. Reilly denied this. However this was surely serious enough that it should have been investigated? If it was even only possible that Reilly knowingly allowed child abuse to go on in his program just so he could keep pocketing the money, then surely that should have been properly investigated? Or is it a case of someone sufficiently up at the high end of town being somehow protected from this matter?

So what am I leading to? Over and over again, we have in people in positions of influence, of power, of affluence created by their audience, who are abusing it in heinous manners. And in the bulk of cases, they are protected by that same position of privilege. Just as it turned out that people did know about Jimmy Saville, I find it exceedingly hard to believe that people did not know about Rolf Harris’s abuses. It has been more coincidence than anything that has seen him head to court. Saville went to his deathbed never answering for any of it. As the cast of Hey Dad have shown, they knew something was going on only for Gary Reilly to deny any knowledge or protection of Robert Hughes yet if the smoke does in fact lead to a fire, then Reilly would surely be responsible for permitting a situation to continue which saw a child abused over an extended time in order to continue making a buck. Meanwhile  the political leaders of Australia have been shown to be getting away with what would probably be theft for the rest of us, while blatantly rigging our political process to protect their own position.

I have said it before and I shall say it again. Forget about climate change because as a species we probably aren’t worth saving.

UPDATE May 23, 2014:

During the Q&A program, Treasurer Hockey repeatedly insisted those with chronic illness are covered by medical treatment plans which shall exempt them from having to make the $7 co-payment on visits to the quacks. But as revealed here that is a load of bollocks:

“Australian Medical Association GP spokesman Dr Brian Morton says every other visit the patient with a chronic illness makes to the GP or medical test that is ordered would be hit by a $7 GP fee…“He either doesn’t understand or is misusing the statistic or is lying,” Dr Morton told News Corporation. “The chronic disease management items are one off, they are not for treatment,” he said.

I have written to the PM, the Treasurer and the Minister for Health seeking a response but do not expect any answers to be forthcoming.

Comments
  1. They were not broken promises. but blatant lies just saying what the people wanted to hear to get them into government where they could let loose their destruction of egalitarianism, and bring on the USA system.

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