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Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Australians not in favour of Coalition sending more troops to fight Isis – poll

Australians not in favour of Coalition sending more troops to fight Isis – poll

 Iraqi forces fighting
Islamic State

Tony Abbott speaks to troops

Tony Abbott announced last week that Australia will send another 300
troops to Iraq alongside forces from New Zealand on a joint training
mission to train the Iraqi military. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

The Abbott government’s recent decision to deploy more Australian
troops to train Iraqi forces is not popular with the Australian public,
according to the latest Essential poll.

Fifty per cent of respondents in the new poll published Tuesday
disapproved of sending more Australian soldiers to help train the Iraqi
forces currently fighting Islamic State militants.

Only 36% approved of the decision – and only 12% of the Essential sample think an increased Australian military presence in Iraq will make Australia safer from terrorism.

The prime minister confirmed a week ago
that Australia will send another 300 troops to Iraq alongside forces
from New Zealand on a joint training mission to train the Iraqi
military. The fresh deployment is expected to begin in May, and will
involve regular Australian forces based in Taji, north-west of Baghdad.

The deployment is supported by the Labor opposition.

The Essential poll indicates a majority of Coalition voters approve of the deployment, but 60% of Labor voters disapprove.

The latest poll also charts a high degree of scepticism about whether engagement with the conflict in Iraq is beneficial for Australia’s national security.

Tony Abbott says regularly that he understands Australians are
reluctant to reach out to far away conflicts, but this particular
conflagration is reaching out to us – citing domestic counter-terrorism
risks posed by radicalisation.

30% of the Essential sample think sending more troops to Iraq will make
Australia less safe from terrorism. Only 12% believe engagement will
make Australia safer.

Nearly half of the sample think the current deployment will make no difference to the domestic security outlook.

Evidence given by MI5 to the Chilcot inquiry into the war in Iraq in
2003 confirmed the US-led invasion substantially increased the threat of
terrorist attacks, and was a significant factor causing radicalisation
of young Muslims.

This testimony backed the observation of the then Australian police
chief, Mick Keelty, that the Iraq invasion was likely linked to
terrorist acts, such as the Madrid bombings in 2004. Keelty was
lambasted by the Howard government for departing from the official
government line on the war.

On broader political indicators, a separate poll, the Newspoll, published by the Australian newspaper on Tuesday, recorded Labor
restoring a commanding lead over the Coalition. The two-party preferred
result had Labor federally on 55% and the Coalition on 45%.

The prime minister’s satisfaction rating increased by three points in
Tuesday’s survey, which is within the poll’s margin of error.

Essential also recorded a favourable movement for the prime minister.
Abbott’s disapproval rating dropped six points since February – and
there was a 2% increase in his approval rating.

The government has been in the process of dumping unpopular policies
in the wake of efforts by backbenchers to spill the Liberal party

Monday, 2 March 2015

Data retention — great news for criminals and foreign companies –

Data retention — great news for criminals and foreign companies –

Data retention — great news for criminals and foreign companies

There are two clear winners from Labor’s decision to cave in
to Tony Abbott’s terrorism and child porn hysteria and wave through
Australia’s biggest-ever mass surveillance scheme: criminals and
overseas communications providers.

The copyright cartel might count itself a winner as well,
although the extent to which that is true now rests with the
Attorney-General’s Department and the government’s legislative drafters.

As Crikey has explained ad nauseam, data retention
won’t work to improve crime clearance rates. We know that because in
several countries overseas both data retention and more far-reaching
surveillance schemes have been demonstrated not to help the cause of
fighting crime and terrorism. But why will crooks and terrorists benefit
from data retention? Data retention will generate tens of petabytes of
data. The problem with more data available to authorities is that,
inevitably, it will lead to more “false positives”
— potential leads for investigators and counter-terrorism agencies that
require investigation, but which turn out to be dead ends (although, in
one case, not before an academic spent three weeks behind bars
after his family was held at gunpoint). For a resource-constrained
agency, investigations that lead nowhere are a misallocation of precious
time, money and staff that could be better directed at pursuing real
perpetrators. Just ask the Danish police, who complained of being overwhelmed with information from the Danish data retention scheme.

The other big winners will be foreign companies that offer
encryption, anonymisation and ephemeral message services. VPN companies
in particular must be delighted with the imposition of data retention,
since it will encourage further mass market interest in Australia in
their services as Australians decide it’s time they went dark (not to
mention enabling them to access US-only media services). But services
providers who offer encryption will also benefit — Google, for example, is moving to offer end-to-end encryption on Gmail. Ephemeral message apps are also growing rapidly in popularity
(politicians have started using Wickr to message each other, while
imposing data retention on the rest of us — and if Luddite politicians
are using it, you think criminals aren’t?).

How do we know this shift to more encryption will happen?
Because it already has, according to the Public Service’s scopophiliacs,
the AGD, who told JCIS that the problem of “[losing] reliable access to the content of communications” has worsened since “the Snowden disclosures”.

Data retention will simply encourage more people to hide
their personal data from  — literally and figuratively — unwarranted
surveillance, thereby making the problem data retention is intended to
address worse not better. Of course, that’s not a problem for
security agencies, because as per AGD’s invocation of the growing use of
encryption as justification for data retention, that will merely
provide the basis for further demands for surveillance powers. Data
retention will not be the last attempt to expand mass surveillance in
Australia; agencies will demand, and get, more and more power to monitor

As for the copyright cartel, data retention should prove a
winner for them, because it will provide a trove of data that they can
access using discovery and subpoena powers in civil litigation to pursue
file-sharers foolish enough not to use a VPN. It will also be used by
the Australian Federal Police, which lately has been at pains to insist
it would not be used to go after file-sharers, but which can’t undo the
damage caused by the honesty of AFP Commissioner Andrew Colvin himself,
who admitted in October “illegal downloads, piracy, cybercrimes,
cybersecurity. All of these matters, our ability to investigate them is
absolutely pinned on our ability to retrieve and use metadata.”

There’s a fly in that particular ointment. The committee
recommended that data retained solely for the purposes of the data
retention scheme not be accessible to civil litigants, such as the
copyright cartel. However, it suggested the Attorney-General be given a
regulation-making power to provide for exceptions to that prohibition.
Given his track record in bending over backwards for the copyright
cartel, no one seriously expects that George Brandis would refuse a
request from his good friends at News Corp or Sony to enable access to
the vast trove of data.

As for consumers — well, we’re the big losers. We’ll have to
pay a surveillance tax for the privilege of being spied on by our own
government, through both taxes and higher ISP costs to fund this vast
scheme. And when — when is the correct word, not if — 
our data is stolen by hackers, there’s not even a guarantee we’ll even
be told about it — there’s no mandatory data breach notification system
in Australia, though JCIS wants one legislated sometime this year.

Welcome to the world of mass surveillance — a world where
those with nothing to hide have plenty to fear, and criminals and
terrorists can feel more secure than ever.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Cruel and unnecessary deaths - The AIM Network

Cruel and unnecessary deaths - The AIM Network

Cruel and unnecessary deaths

Last year 630 Australians died as a result of Hepatitis C. More will die, reports Graham Osborne, while the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee rejects calls to make treatment affordable.

Australians are dying cruel and unnecessary deaths since a federal
advisory board rejected funding for breakthrough Hepatitis C (HCV)
treatment, say health experts.

The new drug Sofosbuvir, marketed as Sovaldi, has shown an
unprecedented 90-95 percent success rate in curing HCV patients when
used in combination with other available drugs.

Pharmaceutical giant Gilead Sciences has priced its
“transformational” medicine at US$1,000 a pill or $US84,000 for a
12-week treatment. The company posted a record US$10.3 billion worth of sales of the drug in 2014 – its first year on the market.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration has approved Sofosbuvir for use
in Australia but the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC),
an independent body appointed by the Federal Government, last year
refused to subsidise the treatment, citing an “unacceptably … high
financial impact on the health budget.”

Gilead says in a statement that it’s now negotiating with the
committee and remains “optimistic” that the clinical benefits and
cost-effectiveness of Sofosbuvir will be recognised at the PBAC’s next

The PBAC has refused to comment on the negotiations.

Australia is one of the few developed countries in the world that has
declined to subsidise Sofosbuvir for the most seriously ill HCV

“People are dying and others are getting sicker and sicker,” says Dr
Miriam Levy, the director of gastroenterology at Sydney’s Liverpool

“There’s a lot of people at the edge of the cliff and you really can’t predict which ones are going to fall off.

“It’s terribly cruel and completely unacceptable not to treat these
patients when there’s a drug that could cure them,” she says.

The Federal Government should follow the lead of the United Kingdom
and allow immediate access to the new treatment for urgent cases, says
Dr Levy.

“In the UK they’ve said, absolutely correctly, that
while they’re negotiating for a better price the people with cirrhosis
cannot afford to wait, so a special budgetary allocation was made to
allow treatment for clinically urgent cases.

“If someone would just give me 30 treatment courses now at Liverpool
Hospital. Let me deal with the sickest 30. Then we could meet again in
six months and think about broader access,” she says.

Many HCV patients don’t realise that they’re being denied potentially life-saving treatment, says Dr Levy.

“One of my patients is an army veteran who fought on the battlefields
for Australia. He has serious complications from cirrhosis and his
lungs are shutting down and he has no idea that he’s missing out on
something that could save his life. It’s just not right. This man fought
for his country.

“I didn’t train as a palliative care physician and that’s not my
brief, to support people in dying. But I’m being forced, as their liver
specialist, to provide best supportive care to people because we’re
living in a country where treatments are not available,” she says.

An estimated 233,000 Australians have chronic HCV infection,
according to the latest figures from medical researcher the Kirby
Institute. Of those, 80,000 have moderate to severe liver disease and
more than 600 people die every year.

“The only way we can stop this epidemic is to get broad access to
these new treatments for every Australian with the virus,” says Stuart
Loveday, CEO of health lobby Hepatitis NSW.

“It’s a shocking, life-threatening situation and, certainly, unnecessary deaths are happening.

“We are on the cusp of a treatment revolution and we could virtually
eliminate this blood-born virus from Australia within a generation but
we need the necessary tools right now to allow equal treatment access,”
he says.

It would be “much more cost-effective” to treat HCV in the short term
rather than to deal with significant increases in cirrhosis, liver
cancer, liver transplants and deaths that are expected in the next 15
years without the new treatments, says Loveday.

“Gilead did give 150 places for free for people on the liver
transplant list but many others have been left waiting and they’re
fearful that their liver disease will worsen and the delay could be
months or even years,” he says.

Patients are being driven to the brink and some are coping very badly, says Loveday.

“We’re hearing from an agitated and angry community of people who are growing increasingly desperate.

“They’re looking at their options and some are considering travelling
overseas to get the drugs at reduced prices or buying cheap drugs
online,” he says.

Dr Levy has warned patients about the dangers of online ads offering cheap Sofosbuvir treatments.

“The quality control could not be guaranteed and they could end up buying lolly water made in backdoor factories,” she says.

Australia’s health system is good enough that we should not be
forcing people into these kinds of desperate measures, says Loveday.

“We’re extremely disappointed that people living with Hep C in
Australia cannot access these new therapies and we think it’s unethical
to make them wait,” he says.

Loveday has called on the Federal Government and Gilead to
immediately resolve the impasse and says “the best chance for a leap
forward” will be at the PBAC meeting next month.

“The pharmaceutical industry is a little good/slash/evil and we just
need them to be a little less greedy,” says Gren, a 60-year-old mental
health researcher from Sydney who was first diagnosed with Hepatitis C
25 years ago.

Gren has undergone two treatments of the controversial HCV drug Interferon without success.

“The second Interferon treatment had so many spectacularly varied and
terrible side effects that it left me unable to work for 18 months and
now the virus that I can’t seem to shake is causing more and more
problems in my life.

“These new treatments are the most exciting thing that has happened
since I was diagnosed and they really are a revolution, a game-changer,”
he says.

But Gilead needs to go away and make a “cost adjustment,” says Gren.

“I recognise their right to make a profit and to return research
costs and all that but, I mean, how much profit? They’ve made record
profits out of this, billions and billions of dollars.

“Perhaps it’s time to reduce the price and alleviate people’s suffering.

“I do want the government to contain costs and I do want them to
negotiate on price but, on the other hand, these drugs are really good
and will cure a lot of people and we’re a wealthy country and we can
afford it,” he says.

Gren says he’s being forced to take early retirement because he’s
becoming too tired to turn up for work every day and too foggy to
concentrate on the work that needs to be done.

“I’m not angry…but talk to me again after the PBAC meeting next month
and I might be angry if they again refuse to subsidise this new
treatment. Obviously, there are no guarantees,” he says.

It’s important for HCV patients to stay positive while waiting for the treatment to become available, advises Dr Levy.

“The people who are infected must try to remember that this is the
beginning of a new dawn and it’s fantastic. This is a crazy situation
but we’ll get there.”

Graham Osborne is a freelance journalist who has written for The Sydney Morning Herald, SMH, AAP, 2GB, Media Monitors).

Interested in signing the petition to the Minister for Health to take urgent action to expedite the approval of new drugs for hepatitis C, including sofosbuvir?

Friday, 13 February 2015

A bombshell hits some Job Networks - The AIM Network

A bombshell hits some Job Networks - The AIM Network

A bombshell hits some Job Networks

Keith Davis unashamedly
admits he is unemployed and poor; a station in life that requires him to
turn up fortnightly to his Job Network provider and meet his Mutual
Obligation to the Commonwealth. Keith shares his story, his struggles,
and the shock our government has in store for him in the future, and the
tens of thousands of fellow Australians like him.

Each and every fortnight for the last year I have done the right turning up thing.

Actually, that is not quite accurate. For most of the year I had to
turn up weekly – but at some point someone realised that I was 62 years
old – and they then promptly scrap-heaped me and stuck me on fortnightly
turn ups. There is always a silver lining to every dire circumstance
because my petrol bill, such as it is, is now appreciably lower. One has
to take one’s yahoo moments when one can.

And today was my fortnightly turn up day. And here’s what happened . . .

Along with ten other desperately hopeful Newstart ‘criminals’ I slunk
through the front portals of my local branch of Employment Services
Queensland (ESQ). I duly signed the sign-in book on the front desk and
slunk into the session room. I’m not normally a slunker but since
everybody else was doing it I auto-responded with the When In Rome thing.

After a joyful minute or so of comparing job rejection battle scars
from the last fortnight we all got down to the important business of
seeing what jobs the Session Facilitator was about to refer us to.

In case you have never attended a Job Network I should explain that
Job Networks exist to refer unemployed people to potential jobs. That’s
their reason for existence. That’s what the Job Networks get paid to do.

Since I am verifiably an undoubted Unemployed Personage I continually
and optimistically assume that I am firmly in their job referral
sights. After a year of optimism however I sure hope that their aim gets
a little better. They have not referred me to one single job in that

The Job Network Case Manager who ran today’s session is a pleasant
sort of person. She smiled at us and we all smiled back. She asked us
how we were all going. To a person we obviously all agreed that there
was no point telling her that being stuck on Welfare Benefits and
wallowing in Poverty did not exactly light our collective fire….so we
all said in wearied unison “We’re all just absolutely Great.”

And then she dropped her bombshell . . .

“All of our discretionary funding has just been cancelled. In
fact, all discretionary funding to all Job Networks has just been

Now, I’ve been around long enough to know that things are never what
they appear to be, and I’m well aware that the new tender round for Job
Networks is due mid-year, but it is passing strange that the Government
would pull/cut this type of funding fully five and a half months before
the tender round is due. So what on earth is going on here?

As a Welfare Recipient who is forced to totally waste my time by
attending inane sessions at a Job Network where absolutely no effort has
been made at all to refer me to any sort of job . . . these funding
cuts will make no difference to me.

After all, when the Job Network did have the funding they did nothing
for me, and now that they don’t have the funding they can now fully
afford to continue to do nothing for me. Talk about the stupidity of

Since the Coalition Government sees me (along with my fellow welfare
recipients) as some sort of rogue peasant who needs to be punished for
my disadvantage I am not in the position to tell you why this
discretionary funding to the Job Networks has been pulled. I’m not in
the information loop.

I can only pose the following:

Are all the Job Networks in trouble? Or are the Job Networks
who have consistently abused the Employment Pathway Fund the only ones
who are in trouble? Does that mean that the Job Network that I attend is
in big trouble because they have had to return an appreciable amount of
money to the Government? Since I am but a humble unemployed person I can only guess . . . but even the unemployed can add two and two together . . .

Of course I hope that the writing is finally on the wall for the
unemployment ‘industry’. Are the predatory organisations who line their
own pockets at the expense of the struggling unemployed about to get the

Or, even more hopefully, has the Government finally understood that
we, the people, have finally had a gutful of how people at the high end
look after each other at our expense? Kevin Rudd’s wife did very well
out of the Job Network system both here and in the UK . . . and Job
Networks run by religious groups have done very very well under the
current Coalition Government.

But what would I know . . . after all . . . the treatment that I have
received in the Job Network system continually reminds me that the
Government sees me and my fellow welfare recipients as nothing better
than unemployed peasants.

We are kept in the dark and fed bullshit!

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Closing your ears on closing the gap - The AIM Network

Closing your ears on closing the gap - The AIM Network

Closing your ears on closing the gap

In 2008, Opposition indigenous affairs spokesman and ultimate opportunist, Tony Abbott, told The Age

“When we were in government we could decide whether an apology (to
the Stolen Generation) happened or not, but in opposition all we could
decide was an attitude to an apology which was ultimately in the hands
of others.  My own view was if an apology was going to happen anyway why
not make the most of the situation and at the very least not rain on
the parade.”

It’s all about the look isn’t it Tony?

In 2011 Tony was interviewed by Chris Uhlman about the Northern Territory intervention.

“Well, I think that for too long there has not been the expectation
that Aboriginal kids would go to school or the expectation that
Aboriginal adults would take work. Now, we’ve got to break that
expectation and one of the very encouraging things is that we now have
senior, highly articulate Indigenous advocates, like Alison Anderson and
Bess Price, who are saying things have got to change, our people have
got to take responsibility, and at the heart of that is being normal
Australians, at least in that respect. Our kids go to school and our
adults go to work.”

And who better to advise the Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs on how to “normalise” Aborigines than one of his favourite minority, “older, private school-educated, conservative white men”.

Billionaire mining magnate Andrew Forrest, was given the task to
report on ways to improve training and education for Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander people. Forrest has no particular expertise in
this area apart from a compassionate interest and a personal record in
looking for innovative ways to promote Indigenous employment.

The Forrest Review
makes 27 recommendations, including that all welfare payments other
than age and veterans’ pensions, be paid into an account which can be
accessed with a new Healthy Welfare Card.

The card would only allow spending on goods and services deemed by
the government to support a healthy lifestyle and would block the
purchase of drugs, alcohol, or gambling.

The report also recommends financial penalties for parents whose children fall below a 90 per cent school attendance rate.

“I’m afraid over the last decade or so the truancy laws have effectively become a dead letter,” the prime minister said.

“I don’t say that welfare quarantining in these circumstances is
necessarily the only answer. But I am absolutely determined to have some
form of sanctions where the kids aren’t going to school.”

“There has to be consequences for sub-optimal behaviour.”

“If the states and territories aren’t prepared to do this or aren’t
prepared to do it in what I think is a reasonable time-frame – with
enough decisiveness – I will look at what we can do at a federal level
to make this a reality.”

Russell Marks commented in The Monthly

“Forrest’s report goes well beyond his brief, and advocates a return
to the paternalistic and punitive welfare models of centuries past for
not just Indigenous welfare recipients but hundreds of thousands of
others. There are echoes of the “poor laws” of British mercantilism in
his proposal to punish parents for their children’s non-attendance at
school. His proposal to extend “income management” – that attempt at
controlling how welfare recipients spend their money which has proven so
divisive among Aboriginal communities – harks back to the trust
accounts of past decades.

Like the Audit Commission’s report, Forrest’s report will be a bridge
too far for the government, which begs the question: why does it
persist in asking wealthy businessmen to report on matters outside their

Eva Cox was also critical of Forrest’s report.

“This step backwards fails to accept that recognising and respecting
the civilisations and contributions of Indigenous peoples is necessary
to unravel the damages of long-term cultural dominance, which strips
away communal strengths and well-being.

Nowhere does the report make any serious acknowledgement of systemic
exclusion of both Indigenous knowledge and cultural competencies. It
offers no recognition of the value of language diversity and the
maintenance of cultural identity.

Missing too from the report are the data that show the failure of
many of the proposed programs such as anti-truancy measures. Having
children at schools that do not meet their needs does not improve

Forrest dismisses oral cultures and languages, and all other learning
that cannot be applied in job seeking. He ignores the importance of
community and focuses on fixing individuals.”

In light of the very poor results in the recent Closing the Gap report, Tony’s comments on Australia Day 2012, the day the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra staged a 40th Anniversary celebration, sound even more out of touch.

“Look, I can understand why the tent embassy was established all
those years ago. I think a lot has changed for the better since then. We
had the historic apology just a few years ago, one of the genuine
achievements of Kevin Rudd as prime minister. We had the proposal which
is currently for national consideration to recognise indigenous people
in the Constitution. I think the indigenous people of Australia can be
very proud of the respect in which they are held by every Australian
and, yes, I think a lot has changed since then and I think it probably
is time to move on from that.”

And he wonders why they were offended.

The Closing the Gap report identified high levels of Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander people with undetected treatable and preventable
chronic conditions that impact significantly on life expectancy.  The
nation has the ability to make relatively large health and life
expectancy gains in relatively short periods of time by focussing on
access to appropriate primary healthcare services to detect, treat and
manage these conditions.

They stress that good health is important to employment, education
and community safety. Further, the health sector is the biggest employer
of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and increased
investment in health services will result in increased employment.

Evidence shows health services controlled by the Aboriginal community
are outperforming others in the detection and treatment of health

This is because they know that everything is connected. In health
services controlled by the Aboriginal community, doctors, nurses and
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers treat each person
in a holistic, culturally appropriate way. They spend longer with their
patients, know their history and know how to deal with the complex
issues they face daily – homelessness, food shortages and mental health

The report also expresses concern “that hard won Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander health gains could be negatively impacted by
proposed measures contained in the 2014–15 Budget.”

Over the next five years $534 million will be cut from Indigenous
programs administered by the Prime Minister and Cabinet and Health

More than $160 million of the cuts will come out of Indigenous health
programs. The health savings will be redirected to the Medical Research
Future Fund.

Funding for Indigenous language support announced in the last budget will also be cut by $9.5 million over five years.

The Government failed to make any commitment to the National
Partnership Agreement for Indigenous Early Childhood Development which,
without extra funding, is likely to see 38 Indigenous childhood
development centres across the country close.

There will be changes to the National Partnership Agreements that
have controlled how the states and territories share spending in
specific areas in Indigenous affairs.

The agreement on remote service delivery will be replaced by a new
Remote Community Advancement Network and bilateral agreements with each
state and territory.

The Closing the Gap report specifically warns against devolving responsibility to the States.

“The Campaign Steering Committee emphasises the need to ensure that
potential changes in Commonwealth-State relations do not have the
unintended effect of undermining the Closing the Gap Strategy. While
recognising that all jurisdictions have a responsibility to contribute,
the Campaign Steering Committee firmly supports the Australian
Government’s continuing leadership role in an overall national

But the federal government thinks otherwise.

The Commonwealth has withdrawn responsibility for funding about 180 remote Aboriginal communities in WA in a move the State says could cost $10 billion over 20 years and threaten the health of vulnerable residents.

The latest Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage report shows rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment increased by 57 per cent between 2000 and 2013.

“It is scandalous that while ­Aboriginal and Torres Strait ­Islander
peoples comprise less than 3 per cent of the Australian population, we
now account for almost 30 per cent of the prison population,” Mr Cubillo

The Abbott government has stripped funding from the peak Aboriginal
legal aid organisation and its state affiliates, but has moderated the
extent of cuts to services at the coalface following an outcry from the
indigenous community.

The cuts to NATSILS and all law reform and policy officer positions
within each state and territory ­affiliate will save $9 million over
three years

The budget did outline some new expenditure on Indigenous affairs – or perhaps a redirection of funding.

This includes a school truancy officer program in 74 schools at a
cost of $18 million; $54 million over four years to build seven new
police stations in remote communities; $2.5 million over four years to
employ Community Engagement Police Officers in the NT; $6.8 million in
2014–15 for non-government schools with more than 50 Indigenous boarding
students or where 50 per cent of boarding students are Indigenous
students from remote or very remote areas; and $26 million for
Indigenous teenage sexual health programs.

Far from self-determination, this government’s approach is to impose
sanctions for what they perceive to be “deviant” behaviour.  The
ultimate nanny state will punish people into getting healthy, getting a
good education followed by a job, “even if it is picking up rubbish”.

We have plenty of money for more police and truancy officers, and
more gaols, but none for legal assistance, domestic violence programs,
culturally relevant education, or preventative health initiatives.

Worse still, we show little respect for the knowledge and abilities
of the original custodians of this land.  Tony Abbott may think
Australian history began with the First Fleet.  In so doing he ignores
the wisdom of the people who have the oldest continuous culture on the

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Tony Abbott: Begging For His Job. Round 1. - The AIM Network

Tony Abbott: Begging For His Job. Round 1. - The AIM Network

Tony Abbott: Begging For His Job. Round 1.

Something truly remarkable is happening in Australian
Politics. Unprecedented in my memory. An Australian Prime Minister is
being given the chance to transform from bastard to saint. Or somewhere

Even after 40% of his colleagues have declared him unfit (and there were
probably many more including 6 ministers) to lead our nation. Even in
the face of polls that overwhelming reflect the public’s opinion of our

Even after the media and his closest right wing supporters have
condemned him. Even though he leads a dysfunctional and chaotic

They still think he is the best person for the highest office in our
nation. Even after all the lies, his trust deficit, his support for
inequality, his arrogance, inflexibility and hypocrisy, his governance
for those who have, his inability to understand technology and science
and an incapacity to understand women’s needs and sexual equality.

The captain’s calls, back flips, and his monarchist allegiance. His
negativity, thuggish demeanor and his contempt for the conventions of
parliament. Add to that his inability to adapt to the demands of office
which stem from the fact that he is fundamentally a creature of the
past. Yes, they still think he has all the characteristics of

If he is to transform himself who are we likely to end up with?

Leigh Sales on the 7.30 Program put it this way:

“We’ve had the Tony Abbott in opposition, the guy who
promised no more chaos, the adults back in charge, the ‘no excuses and
no broken promises’,” Ms Sales said.

“Then there’s the Tony Abbott we’ve had so far in government with the
surprise policies and broken promises and the captain’s picks.

“Now you’re offering us a third Tony Abbott – one who’s going to change. Who are you?”

As David Marr puts it:

“The prime minister’s problem is not the captain’s picks,
not his failure to consult, nor the micromanagement of the cabinet by
his office. He just failed to grow”.

In his 20 years of parliamentary service he has been a politician of the past believing his duty is to save us from the future.

No Opposition Leader in Australian Political history
has made a greater contribution to the decline in public discourse, the
lowering of parliamentary standards and the abuse of our democracy than
Tony Abbott.

No Prime Minister in Australian Political history
has made a greater contribution to the decline in public discourse, the
lowering of parliamentary standards and the abuse of our democracy than
Tony Abbott.

Yet his party believes he can convert a lifetime of thuggish
negativity into motivational, inspirational leadership. A Prime Minister
in whom the people can trust. He deserves the chance they say. We owe
it to him.

The conundrum of course for the LNP is that they don’t want to be
portrayed like Labor who had little hesitation in dumping leaders but at
the same time know they cannot win the next election with Abbott.

When the spill motion was defeated, what followed was an avalanche of
contrived support spewed from the mouths of ministers and hangers on
that could only be described as nauseating in its insincerity.

Everyone knows that the Abbott brand is dead. In all my years of
political ears dropping, never have I seen such a cavalcade of
fallaciousness from politicians who could only be described as silly
enough to believe their own bullshit. Watching this line up of Abbott
apologists was not only excruciatingly painful but seriously saddening.
Do these idiots, I asked myself, really believe that I accept as true,
the crap they are emitting?

Showing an exterior of suitable chastisement Tony Abbott announced
that “Good Government starts today”. One was apt to wonder why it didn’t
start when he said that the adults were in charge.

Then in Parliament the same day, when a no confidence motion was
moved he immediately went to negative mode in a speech that amounted to
nothing more than repetitive old Tony. Transformed Tony was nowhere to
be seen. His near death experience seemed not to have registered.
Perhaps he was blinded by the white light.

Later on The 7.30 Report the old Tony was still fighting like an Opposition Leader.

I beat Gillard, I beat Rudd and I will beat Shorten he said, missing
the point that Australian’s are after a leader, not a pugilist.

It was as Malcolm Farr said on the Insiders program on Sunday:

“He can’t understand why people aren’t grateful”.

He, his Treasurer and his Ministers have never been able to admit
that the budget was unfair. On the same program Mathias Coremann said

“no Minister had complained that the budget was unfair”.

He must have been lying because Malcolm Turnbull, the alternative leader that 50% of the party want as leader said this:

“it is vitally important, both as a matter of social
justice and political reality, that structural changes are seen as being
fair across the board”.

“That means not only must tough decisions be justified, but that the
burden of adjustment is not borne disproportionately by one part of the

An alcoholic cannot address his problem until he admits he has one.
The Government cannot possibly govern for the common good until there is
some kind of ministerial acknowledgement that indeed the budget was

The pugilist might have won round one, just, but the fight for
Liberal leadership is far from over. He might have dodged a left hook
but the Liberals remain deeply divided. They are all over the place with
policy and a treasurer who seems incapable in the job. Pressure has
mounted on Abbott to appease the back bench. It is demanding that Hockey
and Credlin go.

Brand Abbott is dead. This is why.

For most of my working life I worked in marketing and advertising so I
know how people are influenced, persuaded or swayed by such things as
branding and repetitive advertising or recurring bullshit.

Companies spend millions of dollars to subtly brainwash you. To align
you with a certain brand or product. They will use all manner of
persuasive techniques including sex and deceptive packaging to solicit
your good will and loyalty. They even measure the eye blink rate of
women from hidden cameras in supermarkets to test colour reaction. Yes
it’s that sophisticated. And brand loyalty is what they want. There are
more psychologists employed in advertising in America than in the health
industry. It is all calculated to take power over your decision-making.

Likewise, political parties want your loyalty, or at least they want
to convince you that they are working in your best interests. They use
the same repetitive techniques.

If you tell a lie often enough people will believe you. The Abbott
government stating that asylum seekers are “illegal” and “she told a
lie”, or that families received $550 dollars as a result of the removal
of the carbon tax are but three examples.

The Abbott Government has taken persuasion to another level employing
37 communication and social media specialists to monitor social media
and offer strategic communications advice costing taxpayers almost $4.3
million a year. In addition Peter Dutton’s departments employ more than
95 communications staff and spin doctors, costing at least $8million a
year. In Dutton’s case it is about protecting a slogan. Nothing else.

That’s a lot of people to sell the brand, spin lies, omissions,
monitoring social media and telling deliberate falsities. It’s about
creating or promoting perceptions (rather than realities) about your
political brand as opposed to that of your competitor. There are a
number of ingredients in “successful” political branding. The product
needs a positive image, and a leader with character who is surrounded by
positive motivated people.

A fair dose of charisma is helpful but not entirely essential. What
is essential is a well thought out narrative that the electorate can
relate too and policies that are explainable. Even if they involve some
pain. It doesn’t require popularism so long as it has credibility. John
Howard was never popular but he had the perception of creditability.

Unfortunately the Abbott government and its ministers are nothing
more than a compliment to mediocrity and intellectual barrenness. The
brand has its genesis in contemptuous negativity and has failed to apply
a label to any policy.

Its front bench is full of colorless dour depressive uninspiring
types who will be intent on implementing a second budget of political
expediency rather that economic necessity whilst the current one will
remain an unfinished work in progress.

The collective personalities of Abbott (a self-confessed and proven
liar and a PM for undoing), Pyne (arguably the most hated politician in
Australia). Brandis (an Attorney General who believes bigotry is fine),
Abetz (needs a personality transplant) Hockey (a serial blamer of
everyone else), Joyce (potentially our next deputy PM, OMG). Dutton
(cannot shake off his copper image), Hunt (no credibility on Climate
Change after writing a thesis supporting a tax), Morrison (the
un-Christian Christian. Don’t say I said that. It’s a secret.), Robb
(still wanting Joe’s job), Truss (soon to retire) and Cormann (can’t
throw off the accent), all of which reads like a list of appointments
from a psychiatrist who specialises in personality disorders.

In terms of image the Abbott government comes across as, indignant
angry men with chips on their shoulders. Make that logs. Haters of
science and progressive policies. And some like Bernardi downright

In Abbott’s case you have to wonder if Australia has ever elected a
Prime Minister so ignorant of technology, the environment and science.
So oblivious of the needs of women and so out of touch with a modern
pluralist society.

In the latest polling the Labor Party leads the LNP by 14 percentage points.

More alarming though is the Prime Minister’s popularity. Or more
accurately his lack of it. And 63% of people think he is doing a
terrible job.

The best public relations company in Australia couldn’t do much with the individual images of that lot.

Australian political history is filled with the incompetence of unexceptional conservative men with born to rule mentalities”.

It’s hard to promote a political brand that blames everyone else,
lies continuously, won’t listen to advice, is secretive, won’t
compromise and is full of its own self-importance. Never in Australian
political history has a budget been so motivated by ideology.

The result has been a public backlash of monumental proportions which
is reflected in the polls. So blind is Abbott to his own shortcomings
as a leader that he cannot see how badly he and his cabinet are
governing. Even the right wing media, Murdoch publications and the shock
jocks have deserted him. Social Media is leading the criticism. With
the young in particular seeming to hate the Abbott brand with a

Former Conservative UK Environment Minister Lord Deben put it succinctly:

“I think the Australian Government must be one of the
most ignorant governments I’ve ever seen in the sense, right across the
board, on immigration or about anything else, they’re totality unwilling
to listen to science or logic”.