Posts Tagged ‘Tony Abbott’

Craig Kelly, Liberal MP (photo credit AAP)

As little as a year, ago hardly any of us had heard of Liberal MP, Craig Kelly. Yet now he keeps popping up in the news. So, who is he and just what changed?

Kelly was elected to the House of Representatives for the electorate of Hughes in Sydney, in 2010, being re-elected in 2013, 2016 and 2019.

The best part of a decade is long enough for a politician to make their mark. Yet Kelly’s parliamentary record is quite scant. One thing that never goes begging is the availability of parliamentary committee positions. Most MPs and Senators of the same duration as Kelly have a respectable list of committees they have served on. Kelly, however, has very little. And he has nothing even remotely approaching Ministerial or portfolio activity. (more…)

SMALL UPDATE – at 20:00 20 July, a petition calling for removal of Bronwyn Bishop as Speaker has over 40,ooo signatories. Here ’tis

The Bronwyn Bishop saga continues and deepens. At the same time another pitiful effort is uncovered. (more…)

SMALL UPDATE – at 20:00 20 July, a petition calling for removal of Bronwyn Bishop as Speaker has over 40,ooo signatories. Here ’tis

bishopThe Hon. Bronwyn Bishop, Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Australian Parliament has previously made it abundantly clear that she has no intention of abiding by the required neutrality of her position. That significant breach of public trust has now been considerably compounded by her recent unacceptable claims of expenditure as electoral business. (more…)

Today is Australia Day, a national holiday marking the arrival of The First Fleet to establish a penal colony on Terra Australis in on January 26, 1788.

There is plenty to celebrate in this nation with an overall standard of living ahead of most of the world. But there is also a darker side to things. (more…)

Doctor Dreadful

Doctor Dreadful

Yesterday the Abbott government backed off from the controversial $7 co-payment for visits to the doctor. In his Press Release, Abbott declared this was because they had ‘listened to the community.’ What a load of crap. This backflip was only because it should have been blindingly obvious to all that this was never going to get through the Senate. Whatever the general community thought about things didn’t matter.  (more…)

When Barak Obama won the Democrat ticket to run for President, the dramas started about whether or not he was really a US citizen, continuing on after he had taken office. And it all turned out to be a big beat up. However we now have an Australian version that is looking quite serious. (more…)

It is a matter of historical fact that on April 29, 1770, Captain James Cook (captain of his ship although only then actually holding the naval rank of Lieutenant) first landed on the shores of Australia at what he named Botany Bay. After charting much of the coastline northward, Cook recorded in his journal “I now once more hoisted English Coulers [sic] and in the Name of His Majesty King George the Third, took possession of the whole Eastern Coast from the above Latitude 38°S down to this place by the name of New South Wales.”

The above was claiming the land under the terra nullius doctrine which loosely means it does not already belong to anyone else. Under the earlier papal doctrine, the New World had been divided between Spain and Portugal. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to land on the Australian continent in what is now Western Australia. The Portuguese were quite secretive about their explorations and the records of that era were largely lost in a fire following an earthquake at Lisbon in 1755 thus the full documented extent of their exploration of the Australia coast was lost. Spain made a claim in the wake of England’s claim, based on the earlier papal declaration but nothing came of it. So by current practice at the time, the English stuck by this idea that the Great Southern Land did not belong to anyone. And this was hardly the first time the English used that as a justification for taking lands as their own.

The declaration of terra nullius was made in full knowledge that indigenous peoples already dwelt on the continent. For example Cook wrote in his journal on 23 August 1770: “these people may truly be said to be in the pure state of nature, and may appear to some to be the most wretched upon the earth; but in reality they are far happier than … we Europeans”. Clearly there was no question that people already dwelt there. But those people’s great sin was they were not a European nation and by the practices of the time were discounted.

There were a number of challenges to the terra nullius doctrine over the following two centuries but it was only formally dismissed as a fiction in the 1992 landmark case of Mabo before the High Court of Australia which found that there was a concept of native title in common law, that the source of native title was the traditional connection to or occupation of the land, that the nature and content of native title was determined by the character of the connection or occupation under traditional laws or customs. In short, the terra nullius concept was a crock of crap as at the time of European arrivals as the continent was already in the ownership of its indigenous peoples ie it already belonged to someone else.

The key point of that finding is that the continent was already settled when Europeans arrived.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott

Jump forward to the evening of Thursday, July 3, 2014, the Australia Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, was the key note speaker at the Australian-Melbourne Institute conference. At that time Abbott declared, still as the key speaker and as Prime Minister of the Australian nation and all its peoples, indigenous and otherwise, “…our country owes its existence to a form of foreign investment by the British government in the then unsettled or, um, scarcely settled, Great South Land.”

It beggars belief that our Prime Minister, a Rhodes Scholar (although by his inability to express himself terribly well and by the sheer shambles of his conduct, it makes one wonder just what is required to become a Rhodes Scholar!), retreats to this ridiculous proposition that Australia was not really settled prior to British arrival (actually it was an English claim, Tony, but don’t let facts get in the way of your nonsense stories).

It is also well documented fact that on May 17, 2010, Abbott publicly declared that we should not believe everything he says in the heat of the moment but instead said we should believe what he and other politicians say only if “…it was an absolutely calm, considered, prepared, scripted remark.” However at the above conference, Abbott was the key note speaker. This was part of his pre-prepared address. Consequently by his earlier statements, we can safely assume that this is precisely what Abbott believes – that Australia was not really settled before Europeans arrived.

This is an absolute disgrace!

According to the Australian government website, www.australia.gov.au, at the time of European arrival there “were over 500 different clan groups or ‘nations’ around the continent, many with distinctive cultures, beliefs and languages.” Estimates of the approximate number of Indigenous Australians present at the time vary from as low as 318,000 to 1,000,000. However there is absolutely no question that the continent was inhabited.

Despite the above, Tony Abbott has had the sheer affrontry to all but return to the fiction of terra nullius! This man is an absolute idiot. He is an insult not just to Indigenous Australians but to all Australians. His degree of ignorance is truly staggering. Or was it a form of Freudian slip revealing a desire to push Australian back to an Antipodean form of the glory days of the British Raj in India. “By Jove – we’ll put those dashed darkies back in their place!”

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Update – I have already been criticised because the quote was in relation to foreign investment and no, there was no foreign investment in Australia prior to European arrival. But I stand by my criticisms – the calm, considered, prepared, scripted remark [and therefore by his earlier advice it is a statement to be believed] was so for out of line that is was practically out of sight!

How much proof do we need people that we have an obscene parody of government in Australia? An extremely bad joke of a governing party. A Speaker of the House in blatant cahoots with her party despite all protocols and requirements for neutrality, even using her position to raise money for her party. A government that directly involves itself with a supposedly independent panel for awarding honours, telling them who they should be giving awards to with members of the committee publicly complaining. A Prime Minister who appoints a new committee for his Literary Awards stacked with conservative-friendlies. And now the word has well and truly gone out – no member of the party ‘faithful’ is allowed to speak out or they WILL be punished! (more…)

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.

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Lately I have been watching episodes of Boardwalk Empire, a series about a crooked City Treasurer of Atlantic City, Enoch Thompson, at the start of the prohibition era in the USA. Corruption is the name of the game with the power of the older Jewish and Irish crime gangs being more widely challenged by the growing power of the Italian gangs that became the Mafia as we know it.

In contrast I picked up a copy of a newspaper for a read. You could be forgiven for thinking this would be quite different to the Nochy Thompson story. But it is?

On what now seems almost a daily basis, more startling news emerges from the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) in New South Wales. It seemed to start with former Labour MP Eddie Obeid accused of corrupt dealings and abuses of political power. The more the investigations continue, the more Obeid-tainted politicians and officials seem to keep cropping up. Initially the Liberal Party of Australia must have been delighted with things, seeing political destruction of the Australian Labor Party. Then-Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott, now Prime Minister, quite gleefully used Question Time in the Federal Parliament to cast aspersions on the Labor Party as a result of earlier ICAC findings. But then Obeid’s net was show to have gone wider than just party political lines.

The NSW Premier, leader of the NSW Liberal government, resigned after denying receipt of a gift of a $3000 bottle of wine from the Obeid-related interests, only for his written acknowledgement of the gift turning up. Questions are being asked at ICAC about activities of other NSW Liberal politicians in relation to the Obeid affair. At the same time, other activities involving NSW government politicians, unrelated to the Obeid affair, have resulted in yet more government ministers being forced out for corrupt activities including corrupt acquisition of party donations. The former chief fundraiser of the NSW Branch of the Liberal Party was found to have been liberally helping himself to the funds raised. With a touch of political irony, even the NSW Police Minister was forced out because of corrupt dealings.

The Obeid-tarbrush has tainted more than just NSW officials. At the Federal level, Assistant Treasurer, Arthur Sinodinos, a Minister in the Abbott government, stood down from his portfolio after being named by ICAC in relation to the Obeid case through his involvement with Obeid’s Australian Water Holdings. Abbott loudly claimed that Sinodinos had only stood down because he was an honourable man, not because of any actual corrupt dealings, despite allegations he stood to make up to $20 million from a deal with AWH. However once Sinodinos was shown to have been paid $200,000 by AWH for a paltry 100 hours of work while a Director of the company, the insistence on the integrity of Sinodinos seemed frankly pathetic. Matters grew even murkier when board minutes from AWH showed Sinodinos involved with a million dollar success fee with Liberal Party lobbyist, Michael Photios, to get a public-private partnership with the NSW Government.

After so much time spent figuratively beating his chest and loudly insisting on a holier-than-thou attitude as Leader of the Opposition, Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s Liberal Party is being shown to be full of dodgy operators. Was it a product of his Jesuit training which allowed him to be so blind to what was going on and thinking nobody would ever find out?

Matters are hardly just limited to the Liberal Party. Questions have long been asked about activities of major unions and their role with the Australian Labor Party. Power factions involving union interests have been playing roles in who gets selected for seats or holds whatever positions within parliaments. But how many of these results have involved union corruption. Within the former Labor government of Julia Gillard, Labor MP, Craig Thompson, was named in investigations into his activities as a senior union official. He was subsequently found guilty on counts of fraud and misappropriating union funds for personal activities including funding his election campaign. Questions have been asked about the path taken to the top by current Leader of the Labor Party, Bill Shorten, via his union activities.

Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, has put together a Royal Commission into Australian union activities. While taking his predictable holier-than-thou attitude, I have no doubt whatsoever that his only interest in this is the political mileage to be made out of it. But I equally have no doubt that the Commission could uncover easily as much corruption, if not more, than NSW ICAC has discovered to date.

We now come to an important question. Why should State and Territory governments or other bodies such as unions, act any more honourably than our Federal politicians as a whole? Once you enter that level of governmental politics, you enter a whole new regime where you are exempted from ever so many things that the rest of us could find ourselves possibly in prison over. A particular case in point is that of ‘electoral’ expenses. Under current arrangements, all our beloved Federal pollies get to claim expenses for legitimate ‘electoral expenses’ ie expenses incurred while conducting electoral business. But there is no meaningful judge on what constitutes a legitimate electoral expense. Take for example Tony Abbott receiving an invitation to the wedding of his then-fellow Liberal MP, Sophia Mirabella. As Abbott was then his party’s manager of business within parliament or some other such title, he declared that the invitation was made to that manager of business, not to him personally, thus qualified for all his travel to the wedding to be worn by the taxpayer. Another of his colleagues flew interstate, along with his wife, business class naturally, to take possession of a newly purchased luxury holiday home. And drummed up some nonsense reason for him being there on electoral business. And independent media investigation discovered case after case of Federal politicians milking the public purse for all manner of personal expenditure, claiming it to have been electoral business. Exactly how does buying recipe books for your kitchen, qualify as ‘electoral business’?

Back in the real world, if you take something that isn’t yours and you had no right to, making up nonsense to justify your taking what you know you weren’t entitled to, it can easily become a criminal matter of theft. After all a bank bandit has just justified the arm robbery by the fact he desired the money. But not for pollies. Under the appropriate protocol, something naturally approved and implemented by previous pollies means that provided you pay it back, the slate is wiped clean. Does it matter how big a lie you have told to justify originally claiming the expenditure? Nope.

Quite simply, for far too long, far too many Australian politicians, on both majors sides of the fence, have been acting as if they are above the laws applying to the rest of us. And matters of blatant milking of the public purse for personal benefit and gain are simply wiped clean if caught.

In contrast, Nochy Thompson’s Atlantic City corruption almost seems honourable.

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