Posts Tagged ‘Tony Abbott’

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.

Ross sig

UPDATE – Clive Palmer made a point of indirectly opposing the government by stating he supports reduced emission targets, accompanied by the inevitable media PR campaign on the point. However in the lead up to the re-run of the last Federal Election in a seat in WA (somehow the Australia Electoral Commission lost over 1,300 votes), Palmer has clarified this position. His point of concern is to take action, not on mankind’s contribution to the emmissions problem eg Palmer’s mining interests, but instead on ‘natural carbon emissions’. What? He wants us to stop all the cows from farting and burping? And that mindset controls Senate seats of considerable importance!

It has been quite a while since I had a good rant here but by hell there is plenty to rant about and I apologise in advance for the length of this particular rant. Yet at the same time I am barely scratching the surface of the problem that is the current Australian government under Prime Minister Tony Abbott. And every single thing discussed below has been widely reported in the media so I am hardly making it up.

The Lower House of the Australian Parliament is presided over by the Speaker who is appointed to the position from the body of Members of Parliament. The Speaker is supposed to be a neutral arbiter of business within the House. The long-standing protocol is also that the Speaker, in keeping with the requirement for their neutrality, is supposed to stand aside from party parliamentary business.

bishopOur current Speaker is Bronwyn Bishop, a long-standing member of the Liberal Party of Australia. Far from being neutral, one merely has to watch the televised Question Time to see how blatantly biased Bishop is in her conduct as Speaker. The only consistency about her rulings is that the Opposition shall always be on the losing end. The government side of the House can raise such an uproar that you can barely hear whoever is speaking. Yet nowhere near the same degree of latitude is permitted for the Opposition. In my opinion the overall conduct in the Lower House is always despicable by all parties, but the disgraceful bias by Bronwyn Bishop has really turned our Parliament into a decidedly unsavoury circus. Then there was the protocol for her neutrality – that was thrown out with Bishop not just attending party room meetings, but other attendees have confirmed she is an active participant including being a vocal anti-Australian Broadcasting Commission combatant. So the most elementary conduct of our Australian Federal Parliament has been thoroughly compromised by the colossal arrogance of an individual who clearly deems herself above the rules. And that all seems fine and dandy to Tony Abbott.

In 2011, conservative right-wing ‘journalist’ Andrew Bolt (and I apologise to any journo who may read this for lumping The Blot in with them) was found in breach of section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

Section 18C states, in part,

It is unlawful for a person to do an act, otherwise than in private, if:

                     (a)  the act is reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people; and

                     (b)  the act is done because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the other person or of some or all of the people in the group.

This court case arose from a piece The Blot wrote, published by the Herald Weekly Times group, part of the Rupert Murdoch media empire, where he declared a number of prominent Australian Aboriginals were ‘professional Aboriginals’, only declaring their Aboriginality when they stood to make something from it in a material sense. I have read the piece in question and there can be no question that it was perhaps expression of personal opinion or accusations based on real evidence. The Blot made these claims as ‘fact’ supported by a raft of further alleged ‘facts’ to support his case. Except that the facts did not stand up to closer examination. Far from it. When a number of the people so defamed by The Blot took him to court under s18C, the Court not only found him in breach, the Judge also tore The Blot a new one for his poor journalistic practices.

There was no shortage of reputable journalists after the decision, declaring The Blot had been caught out by dodgy journalism. But there were also voices shouting that this had been an interference with The Blot’s right to ‘free speech.’ Among the complainants was then-Leader of the Opposition, now Prime Minister, Tony Abbott.

Abbott is now making a lot of noise about his intention to have s18C repealed as it supposedly represents a denial of free speech. However I'm not complaining, but...removal of that crucial section will make much of the Act pretty toothless. Not all of his party agree with him, with one openly declaring if this does go to Parliament, he shall cross the floor to vote against it with the Opposition. Nonetheless Abbott has made it clear that he intends removing that legislative impediment on discriminatory behaviour based on race. Consequently, should he be successful, it shall instead become effectively lawful to act in that matter. While far from perfect (very far from it) Australia has made some pretty good strides forward in matters of racial equality. But our Prime Minister has made it his quest to take a massive backward step in matters of perceived race.

Was it only the Jesuits and Oxford who educated Abbott or perhaps he took an optional extra class from the Klu Klux Klan? Certainly all white supremacists would be delighted at being able to let rip with a lawful protection to do so! And as was so clearly demonstrated in The Blot’s case where he wasn’t just dodgy with the facts but was even caught out telling a blatant lie to Court in his defence, Abbott wants an Australia that is friendly towards such behaviour, allowing whoever to make up whatever garbage they want and having it published as ‘fact.’

Stay tuned for my future post about how Tony Abbott was a notorious child molester through his schooling years. I have the testimony of one of his old classmates to prove it. Naturally I have just made that up. But guess what – under Abbott’s principles, I should be legally allowed to publish just such a pack of lies that would be clearly intended to cause harm.

Despite how Abbott may try to spin things in future, he and his government do NOT have a mandate to take such despicable action.

Perhaps at this point I should also note that The Blot is employed by Rupert Murdoch’s print media empire. And in the lead up to and during the last election, there was a blatant pro-Abbott, anti-Gillard campaign run by ALL of Murdoch’s Australian print media. Clearly Rupert knew where his interests lay. Is it merely coincidence that Abbott’s government is now seeking to further relax Australian media ownership laws thus allowing Murdoch to further increase his stranglehold? Or release the racial discrimination shackles from The Blot and others like him?

For years there has been an international conglomerate pushing to get governments to sign to an agreement that would permit members of the conglomerate to sue any governments that take actions they don’t like. To put this in practical terms, if an international pharmaceutical company inflicted us with another Thalidomide, and if the government of the day took action to remove it from it the pharmacy shelves, the pharmaceutical company could then sue the Australian government for the lost revenues resulting from the product’s ban. Do we really want impediments helping protect us from chemical disasters, removed in order to not just protect the billions in those companies’ bottom lines, but even making we taxpayers pay for it via legal recourse to punitive damages? Of course we don’t. Who in their right mind would?

Four successive Australian governments refused to have anything to do with that conglomerate’s desires: Howard (Abbott’s mentor), Rudd, Gillard and then Rudd Mk 2. Yet Abbott is openly declaring his interest in having Australian committed to that agreement. How in any possible sense could this pandering to multinational corporate giants at the expense of this country’s citizens ever be considered responsible government? Simple answer – IT ISN’T!

Australia has its own system of honours and awards eg Order of Australia. An independent committee has the job of reviewing all applications for honours and determine the awarding of these on merit. The government of the day has a seat on the committee but the protocol is that government abstains from influencing the committee’s decisions, thus maintaining the integrity of the system.

Until now.

Reports have emerged from members of the committee who were very unhappy that the relevant Minister not only attends the meetings but has sought to influence the committee’s deliberations and thus decisions. When the Minister was not available to attend, a senior member of his staff was present instead – not a senior bureaucrat from the relevant government department, but one of the Minister’s personal aides and no surprises in guessing whose interests that aide would be representing. This is yet another example of quite blatant politicising of matters that are supposed to be above party political machinations. To allow this to continue means degrading our Honours system to be worth less than the paper on which is written the letter to the honouree.

In light of the above, questions are now being asked about the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards. Again, the short list etc is determined by an independent panel with the results provided to the Office of the Prime Minister. This year’s awards have been inexplicably delayed at Abbott’s end. Why? No answer has been forthcoming. Could it be that instead of recognising literary accomplishment, only literary accomplishments by politically approved authors are to be considered? Or worse, only literary products with a particular party political seal of approval?

The more one looks at things, the more that despicable and outrageously questionable things keep cropping up. Take Clive Palmer for example. For years this mining billionaire was the single biggest donor to the Liberal Party of Australia (note to my North American friends – ‘Liberal’ in reference to this political party does NOT mean liberal attitudes – quite the contrary). Palmer then had a very public falling out with the Liberals including a public shouting match with Abbott over the President of the LPA being allowed to continue as a political lobbyist. Care for a conflict of interests anyone? Palmer was eventually asked to resign his party membership, which he presumably did. First Palmer declared he was going to run for Parliament as an independent, but then instead created his own political party – Palmer United Party. But public information via the Australian Electoral Commission reveals that while Palmer was busy in setting up his own party, he was still donating money to LPA. Huh?

Will the real Clive Palmer please stand up?In reality, the only ‘united’ thing about PUP seems to be a unity in letting Clive Palmer make all decisions and call all the shots. Even statements from people he recruited to run in seats for PUP at the last election, had an appended ‘authorised by C Palmer.’ PUP has every appearance of not being so much a political party as it is Clive Palmer effectively buying seats in Parliament as a vehicle to pursue his own interests. Palmer won a seat in the Lower House but the stranglehold of Abbott’s LNP in that House makes Palmer’s voice and vote pretty much pointless there. However PUP also picked up two Senate seats in a Senate where LNP does not hold power. For LNP to get its way in the Upper House, it needs support from independents and minor parties such as PUP. Those two PUP seats therefore assume a considerable importance in the overall scheme of things.

Despite all his election blunder about all the things he was going to do and achieve in Parliament, since taking office Palmer has been very quiet. He has not opposed the government on anything of any significance. At the same time, Palmer’s application to undertake massive coal mining operations in Queensland is suddenly approved at the Federal level. And the taxpayers are suddenly paying for several hundred miles of railway to connect those operations to a coal port. And the LNP government in Queensland suddenly agrees to redevelop and expand that port to better serve the interests of Palmer’s mining. And the national Marine Authority, charged with protection of the Great Barrier Reef, inexplicably gives its formal approval to all dredging from the expansion of that coal port to be dumped on the Reef.

To badly paraphrase Shakespeare, something truly stinks. As the old saying goes, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a bloody duck. In the same way, questions really do need to be asked and answered about just what relationship there truly is between Clive Palmer, his political party and the government of Tony Abbott. While jobs will indeed emerge from those developments, the only real beneficiary shall be Clive Palmer – at the taxpayer’s expense and with a blatant display of environmental vandalism.

Then there is the matter of refugees in Australia. Almost the moment the Abbott government took power, Immigration Minister, Scott Morrison, dictated that government departments whenever referring to refugees who have landed or sought to land in Australia by boat outside of usual channels, are to be referred to as and only as ‘illegals’. Is it illegal to seek entry into a country outside of the usual channels? Yes. Is it illegal to seek refugee status? No. No! NO!!

The treatment of refugees under this Australian government is growing decidedly worse than under other recent governments. The Australian Defence Force has been increasingly politicised by making them a party to keeping silent on activities such as turning boats back to point of origin and maintaining Minister Morrison’s demands for silence on everything.

Nuremburg defence, anyone?

Ask any pertinent question about refugees and Morrison almost always immediately clams up claiming ‘operational needs’ for secrecy. The morrisonAustralian taxpayer has spent tens of millions building and outfitting special launches on which intending boat-borne refugees are dumped and forcibly returned to the point of origin. But we’re not allowed to know anything about it. Or how many launches have been specifically utilised. Or where. Or when. The UN has come out in considerable criticism of Australia’s behaviour towards refugees these days, with a report detailing something like 70 specific problems that needed to be addressed, but which appear to have been largely ignored. For God’s sake, even China, who hardly has a stellar record in human rights abuses, has come out in criticism of Australia over this issue.

It took insiders blowing the whistle to reveal just how appalling conditions are in offshore places such as Manus Island where many of these ‘illegals’ have been dumped. Even then Abbott and co are playing word games, refusing to admit the problems may exist. At one Question Time I listened to Morrison declaring that any problems are really the fault of the preceding government. The fact that many matters of concern have either only appeared under this government or grown worse under its veil of secrecy seems to be irrelevant to the likes of Minister Morrison.

UPDATE – in news just to hand, Abbott has just admitted that they were a party to cancelling an independent review of the conditions of the refugees housed on Manus Island, despite previous Parliamentary assurances it was going ahead and was going to prove (somehow) that the problems started with Labor.

Did other governments have clean hands in regard to refugees in recent years? No bloody fear. But these human rights abuses under the Abbott government are growing demonstrably worse, despite all their bullshit spin to the contrary.

Now at the same time that Abbott happily turned our Defence Forces into an extension of the political system, doing the government’s dirty work on refugees under this ridiculous veil of secrecy, he also slashed the wages of soldiers still fighting in Afghanistan. And the financial support to the surviving children of soldiers killed in combat in Afghanistan has been removed entirely. Allow me to reiterate – as a soldier you can be forced to go into combat but have no say in your salary for doing so being slashed, and now there is no longer any comfort in knowing the government you served shall ensure your children are looked after. Why the hell would anyone want to enlist under these arrangements?

Come April we shall see Anzac Day, our day of remembrance for those serving men and women who have fallen in combat in the past. I am prepared to wager that on April 25th, Abbott shall come out with the usual platitudes about honouring the fallen, Anzac spirit and other phrases now made largely meaningless by overuse and inappropriate use. Send the poor bastards off to die, pay them less for it and then ignore the families of the fallen. Is that what we want from our national leader? If Abbott should deign to grace us with his presence at the Australian War Memorial this Anzac Day for the March I take part in, I shall refuse to give him the ‘eyes right’ salute on passing the podium. As far as I am concerned he has forsaken any such rights. To hell with protocols.

Remember the disgruntled person who threw a shoe at George Wubblya Bush during a press conference? For Abbott I’m thinking not so much a shoe as a fresh, steaming cow turd. I’m sure he would feel right at home in the shit.

The list keeps growing the more you look at things. A certain amount of party politics is always to be expected. Not necessarily appreciated but expected. But the behaviour and direction of our government under Tony Abbott has gone way beyond that.

This is all beyond a joke. It is beyond a farce. It is far beyond party political shenanigans. This is the behaviour of a government that is morally bankrupt. And I believe that every Australian, regardless of political persuasion, deserves a bloody sight better than this.

Gee I really, really hate it when I find myself defending Tony Abbott. Well, to be honest, I am pretty sure that this is a first time. But I’m still unhappy about it.

OK, so what actually happened? Tony Abbott, leader of the Australian Opposition, was in Afghanistan, visting Australian troops. While in conversation with senior officers, he was filmed making the comment ‘shit happens’. Australian prima donna television network, Channel 7 aka Prime, captured the footage. They were very quick to start claiming this was Abbott dismissing the latest death of an Australian soldier on active service in Afghanistan as ‘shit happens.’ That is not what happened. Watch the footage for yourself. This comment was made in a far broader context. That didn’t stop Prime however from ambushing Abbott, playing the footage for him on a laptop and quizzing him over the angle that he was so dismissive of the death of Lance-Corporal Jared MacKinney.

Fair suck of the sav, you lot. Tony Abbott does not need Prime’s assistance in making an utter dill of himself. He has shown his true colours and hypocrisy often enough over the past few years. But in this instance, Prime and the reporter in question, Mark Riley, have been guilty of nothing other than twisting the facts in a cheap ratings stunt. Spare a thought for a moment for his poor widow, 26 year-old Beckie MacKinney. Her husband and father of her young son, Nathan, has just died on active service. Beckie now has to relive all this over and over again, for no other purpose than Prime trying to score a point or two over arch-rival, Channel Nine.

Abbott being one of those individuals that so many of us just love to hate, Prime and Riley decided to play fast and loose with the facts in order to blow up a ‘story’ that didn’t actually exist.

It is stunts like these that make me ashamed to be generally grouped with the media as a writer (having been so informed in no uncertain terms by a journo on a previous occasion after letting rip on the media). However I am not a journalist and make no pretense of being so. I am a story writer, primarily a fiction writer. And so should Mark Riley probably be after last Tuesday’s stunt.

Unfortunately, Abbott does not get it all his own way. His response to Riley was to stand in quivering, rage-filled silence for some twenty-five seconds. He honestly looked like he was about to up his fist and clock Riley one on the jaw. But it was his later response that gets my goat. Jug Ears Abbott has come out, jumping up and down about how dare the media take a tragedy and use it just to push their own agenda.

Hold on a minute. Isn’t this the same Abbott who has been using the floods in Queensland and elsewhere in Australia as a simple excuse to start pushing his own political agenda of unseating the current Federal government? And as usual, he doesn’t let the facts get in the way too much. For example, his biggest platform has been that because of the floods, followed by Cyclone Yasi, the proposed National Broadband Network should be dumped. He then states that the loss of mobile communication (cell phones for my US friends) in the area hit by the cyclone is somehow proof that the NBN won’t work. Ahhh excuse me Jug Ears. Mobile comms relied on physical broadcast towers that were damaged in the cyclone. The NBN will run on optic fibre cable buried underground and safe from the tender attentions of cyclonic winds.

Of course this also happens at the same time that press releases, email and a website statement all appear under Abbott’s name, followed by requests for donations to the Liberal party for a fund to fight and cease imposition of a national levy to pay for rebuilding of shattered Queensland. In other words, don’t give money for Queensland flood relief, give it to the Libs instead. Abbott denies all knowledge of this request going out. He and his mates then claimed it is common practice and referred to the Labor Party doing a similar email request only a day or so before. The only problem however was that the Labor Party request was for people to donate funds to flood relief funds, not a political donations grab.

For Abbott to go claiming Prime/Channel Seven have used a tragedy for their own purposes is nothing short of appalling hypocrisy as he has been doing exactly the same thing but on a larger scale.

If all this wasn’t PR-suidcide enough, while Abbott is wandering around flood- and cyclone-ravaged parts of Queensland, accompanied by the non-entity that is the leader of the National Party (does anyone actually know who that is these days?), the Nats leader decides that is exactly the right time to start publicly claiming that Queensland premier, Anna Bligh, has let all of Queensland down during the floods and cyclone.

Give me a break. Just at present, Bligh is rapidly approaching sainthood status in parts of the country due to her non-step efforts during these crises and her frank and honest presentations to the press. There was a complete absence of any spin or political grandstanding. No make-up, tears, even appearing like a drowned rat at one point. And this wasn’t stage-managed opportunism. This was genuine. Even if the subsequent Inquiry into the floods finds her government 100% culpable (which is not that likely given she hasn’t been in the job long enough to be responsible for any and all infrastructure problems), that should not detract from her frank humanity during that terrible few weeks. But Jug Ears’s partner in crime, leader of the Nationals, thinks it is a good time to go for her jugular. How many votes will that ultimately cost them in Queensland?

So, Channel Seven, Tony Abbott and his mates do a damned good job of screwing up all by themselves. They do not need dodgy stunts like that pulled by Mark Riley. The management of Channel Seven should be bloody ashamed of themselves for ever allowing this appalling stunt to go ahead. And how dare you put me in a position of having to defend Jug Ears!!

Meanwhile, that other commercial television network with the morals and attitude of a cheap used car salesman, Channel Nine, are probably now congratulating themselves for not dreaming up Prime’s stunt for themselves, considering how it is blowing up in Prime’s face, big time.

Well, it’s happened. Despite appeals from the Prime Minister downwards (appealing to insurance companies to show the same generosity of spirit shown by the community), thieving bastard insurance companies have struck. Then again, who really believed that they would be so generous? Nobody who has ever had to try and deal with the scum.

Unbelievable as it may sound, claims for flood damage are being refused in places like Toowoomba, Queensland, with insurance companies claiming that the floods weren’t actually floods! Huh? Yep. That’s what is being reported in the media. Apparently, massive rains do not create floods. What these thieving bastards are relying on is an insistence that the policy holders were not subject to floods, but to rising river levels which, according to the esteemed insurance assessors, are not in fact floods at all!

Unbelievable. Un-be-fucking-lievable.

Why oh why are insurance companies and banks consistently allowed to write their own rules, answerable to none but their shareholders. This is not what deregulation was about. And what do governments actually do about it? Sweet Fanny Adams. At best, tinkering and nothing more.

David Koch wrote a good piece on the subject recently at The Punch, highlighting the dirty tricks that insurance companies rely on in circumstances such as those being experienced in Queensland, northern New South Wales and Victoria, with the worst still yet to come in some parts of the latter. But how blatant a lie is it to claim that the likes of Toowoomba were not subject to flood???

Here is another one for you. The Victorian town of Newstead was flooded last week. Why? Because during the torrential rain, the relevant water authority thought it would be a really great idea to turn the storm water drains off, meaning they were not emptying into the river system. End result – massive backup of storm water through the streets of this geographically pretty flat town, flooding basically the whole damn place. Who’s going to pay for that damage? It’s an easy out for the insurance companies, “sorry, you’re not covered for bureaucratic idiocy.” Just where on earth did the responsible shit-for-brains think all that water was going to go? Vanish into thin air? Get sucked up by his anal-retention? New Victorian Premier, Ted Ballieu, leaping in front of the flood waters, opening his gigantic mouth and swallowing them up?

It is more than bad enough that so much death, hurt, loss and misery has been suffered, not to mention the long-term economic problems that will result. But should the victims really have to be subjected to yet more heartbreak just in order to keep the financial services sector secure in its multi-billion dollar profits? The problem is we simply do not have a single government with the cojones to stand up and be counted in any meaningful manner. Joe Hockey was and still is pretty good at blustering and posturing about it, but that was it.

One last, irrelevant to the subject, rant. But it’s my blog so I’ll write what I bloody-well want to. Queensland premier, Anna Bligh was out on the flood scene, making heart-felt public statements about the status, announcing more deaths etc. Ex-Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd was out in waist-deep water helping recover people’s belongings in his electorate, later throwing a public BBQ open to all comers. Prime Minister Julia Gilliard has been just about anywhere and everywhere, on the ground, meeting the victims. Victorian Premier, Ted Ballieu, a man that I normally consider a total git, has been out at the coalface, gumboots and all. So what have we seen from Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott? Out in his best suit, pulling the hems of his trousers up, tip-toeing through a patch of mud that might, just might, have almost made it to the top of the soles of his shoes. And out of all the main political players, who has tried to make political mileage out of it? You got it, Tony Abbott. Good one, dickhead. Oh alright, yes, yes, Bob Brown from the Greens started jumping up and down, claiming the coal miners were the cause. And the real pity of that was it made Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce actually make sense when responding to Brown. However that is still a little different to Abbott’s blatant attempt to use the Queensland flood to kill off the National Broadband Network, to his obvious political advantage. Arsehole.

Here endeth the rant.

Time check please: 9:37 pm Australian Eastern Standard Time.

Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, called an election on the weekend. Most pundits were suggesting it would be August 28 which would permit some days for those not currently on the electoral role to get on there. Instead, the poll has been called for August 21. To help those not on the electoral roll a chance to get that sorted, offices of the Australian Electoral Commission were open until 8pm.

So perhaps someone could tell me why, more than an hour-and-a-half after the AEC offices had closed the doors on those extended hours, television stations are still advertising those extended hours. Now unless commercial television stations have suddenly turned into charities, this extra television advertising isn’t being provided for nothing. Just what is being gained by paying for television advertising that informs people that they have actually missed their chance for that last minute registering on the electoral roll?

On the subject of the election, rather than the usual boredom of interminable advertisments, telling us how wonderful one party is and how terrible the others all are, accompanied by footage of smiling pollies wandering the streets, shaking hands with the elderly, kissing babies and all the other stuff that they wouldn’t be caught dead doing any other time, how about we spice things up for a change. Let’s run our election like a reality television program.

Sorry contestants – this week Tony Abbott, Joe Hockey and Wayne Swan – you’re all in the elimination round. Your task will be to produce a convincing line of spin about why politicians do not get enough allowances, while baking a souffle and changing the baby’s nappies. Whoops – sorry Tony – your souffle is as flat as your policies, wearing Speedos detracted from your presentation and you ended up with baby shit all over your face. You ARE the weakest link, you’re fired, leave the fecking island right now, do not pass Go and do not collect $200.

Surely that would be an improvement on the usual?

UPDATE – Just to make me look like a total dick, their hours have now been extended to Thursday.