Abbott’s carbon tax chickens come home to roost

This is the third in a series of TPS Extra opinion pieces by Ad astra, originally posted in comments on The Political Sword.

So imprinted is it in our collective memories that it’s hard to forget Abbott’s ‘Axe the tax’ mantra. Over and again he repeated his intent to get rid of this ‘toxic tax’, which after about nine months in government he finally managed to have repealed by a reluctant Senate following some PUP contortions. It’s also hard to forget his promise that ‘Australian families would be $550 better off after its repeal’.

He failed to tell us what he already knew – that carbon pollution would rise again, and that the revenue the tax was raising would cease. So the inevitable happened. Carbon emissions, after falling as a result of the tax, began to rise again, and the revenue the tax generated dried up. Soon Joe Hockey was bemoaning his diminishing revenue base, made worse by the fall in iron ore prices and receding demand for that commodity. Suddenly we had a fiscal ‘crisis’ and a ‘budget emergency’ that Hockey felt compelled to fix by whatever draconian means he could find.

It could be argued I suppose that the sacrifice of revenue could at least be offset by the benefit that would flow to families as electricity prices plummeted and they pocketed the promised $550. But something funny happened on the way to the $550 bonanza. It hasn’t eventuated, and likely won’t.  Wouldn’t we love to know how that magic figure was generated. Hockey uses Treasury as a cop out, insisting that they generated the estimate, and therefore it must be right.  Mind you, in the past he has repeatedly disparaged Treasury estimates when that suited his political agenda, but on this occasion insists they ought to be trusted without question.

Will anyone in the MSM bother to monitor how many families get their hands on the $550 prize, a reward for voting in the Abbott government? You can lay long odds that the Murdoch media will neither monitor it, nor report it if anyone bothers to check if the $550 ever arrived, and especially if it failed to turn up. So we may never know from any authoritative source what became of the elusive $550.

But there are other information streams.  Talkback radio and social media will not remain silent.

Yesterday morning on 774 radio Melbourne, Steve Martin, standing in for Jon Faine who is on holiday, raised the matter with his listeners, and soon got a flood of responses. Steve (from Ballarat ABC) has been a fine substitute for Jon. Astute and well-informed politically, he is balanced in his appraisals and comments.

Soon a listener was annoyedly telling Steve that his electricity bills were going up, not down. We know that there are reasons for that: higher charges for transmission (the old poles and wires story), and higher charges imposed by electricity providers on the grounds that diminished demand has reduced their profits, and therefore they have to compensate for that by charging consumers more per kilowatt hour. The diminished demand is the result of several factors: consumers are deliberately using less electricity to reduce their bills; many are installing solar panels to augment their domestic supply and are therefore using less coal generated power; and many have opted to receive power from renewable sources. Because electricity companies are steadily reducing the refund on electricity generated from solar panels and fed back into the grid, householders who expected a return on their solar cell investment to offset its cost, are now very angry, and more determined than ever to use alternative energy. Moreover, as electricity prices rise, more and more consumers are reducing their dependence on the grid, resorting to solar power despite fewer inducements and lower feed-in rebates.

The death spiral of coal generated power companies has begun.

As it continues, it will become fatal for some providers. The problem for government then will become how to support failing electricity companies who will still need to supply industry and commerce with the power they need. If some of these, for example supermarkets, install solar power to meet some or all of their needs, the crisis will widen, and the death spiral will accelerate.

Talkback callers were uniform in their criticism of the power companies, angry that they have been, and would be further dudded by them, sceptical about whether they would ever see the elusive $550, and generally offside with the Abbott government, who were seen as reneging on yet another promise – the hard to get hold of $550 bonanza.

The solar energy debate continued on ABC radio this morning. It attracted many callers and text messages, portraying the great community interest in solar power. The guest, the CEO of the Australian Solar Council, among fielding many pertinent questions, asserted that some power companies are actively campaigning to end the solar industry and the Abbott government is out to destroy it via reductions to the renewable energy target.  Given Abbott’s public support for the coal industry, that assertion is plausible.

Abbott’s carbon tax chickens are coming home to roost with deafening wing-flapping. Carbon tax revenue has ceased; carbon pollution is rising again; the price of power is rising, not falling; electricity companies are charging more to offset falling revenue; householders are economising and turning more and more to power from renewables; the death spiral in which power providers are trapped continues relentlessly; the $550 seems as difficult for consumers to grasp as it ever was; yet another of Abbott’s pre-election promises is a dud, and Abbott’s trustworthiness takes yet another dive.

None of us are surprised, nor should we be.

What do you think?

Don’t miss out – make sure you also check out the current piece at TPS, ‘And that was . . . 2014‘. At this stage, the new more in-depth weekly pieces at TPS are due to return from January 25th.

Ad astra is a retired academic with years of experience in rural family practice.

Medicare – Has Abbott the nous of Howard?

A TPS Extra opinion piece by Ad astra originally posted in comments on The Political Sword. This is a follow up to yesterday’s Messing with Medicare

When John Howard tried to change Medicare many years ago, he soon picked up the unmistakable message from the electorate: ‘Don’t mess with our Medicare’. He had the nous to listen to the people and pull back. The question today is: ‘Has Abbott got enough of Howard’s nous to do the same?’ Sadly, I doubt if he has. When did he last allow the voice of the punters to override his ideological intent?

The clarion call from both the users and the providers to withdraw his changes to Medicare are likely to be ignored. Abbott is stubborn, ideologically driven and vengeful. The only hope is that his newly-appointed Health Minister, Sussan Ley, a smart politician with an abundance of common sense, will persuade him to back off before the implementation date of 19 January, especially now that the numbers in the Senate indicate that the proposed changes to the regulations are likely to be disallowed later in the month. If Abbott proceeds, it looks as if his punitive changes will have a very brief and inglorious life.

Yet there is a need to make Medicare, now a revered Australian institution, sustainable in the long term and able to accommodate the accumulating needs of an ageing population, many of which will suffer dementia or other disabilities, and to adapt to a healthcare system that offers more and more with each passing year, but at great expense. There is a better way to achieve this, but Abbott, Hockey and Co. seem to know only the punitive. What alternatives are there?

Listen to the doctors
This nasty assault on Medicare seems to have ignored the advice of the very people who provide healthcare: the doctors and those who work with them. The Abbott government, in an exercise in arrogant presumptuousness, has declared war on ‘six minute consultations’, which by inference they regard as ‘bad medicine’. Yet doctors with many years of experience assert, correctly, that some GP consultations require only six minutes, or less. How long does it take a doctor who knows the patient very well to check a hypertensive’s blood pressure and renew a script; how long does it take a doctor to review their patients with type 2 diabetes and their medication; how long does it take to check the response of a skin rash to treatment; how long does it take to give an elderly person a flu shot? As anyone who has ever attended a doctor knows, not long.

Of course some consultations need much longer: a new patient; a patient with important new symptoms; the initial visit for pregnancy; the annual health check; counselling of the worried and the mentally disturbed. That’s why there are graded consultation lengths that attract different Medicare rebates. But Abbott thinks he knows better when he makes what he regards as a virtuous move ‘to get rid of six minute medicine’. He would certainly need a consultation longer than six minutes to unravel his disordered thinking about consultation length. If he thinks he can force doctors to spend an extra few minutes with each ‘short consultation’ patient to attract the current Medicare rebate, what is that supposed to achieve medically? Doctors know how long patients need; what makes Abbott think he knows better? Longer consultations would result in fewer patients being seen each day, or doctors working longer, with no additional health benefits.

The president of the AMA, backed by the many thousands of GPs that he represents, is out today imploring Abbott to back off and scrap the proposed changes. Some will see this simply as promoting the self-interest of doctors, and will back Abbott; most will see it for what it is: a plea to Abbott to abandon his ideologically-driven move to punish the less-well-off in pursuit of his budgetary objectives, disregardful of the fallout for healthcare.

Listen, Abbott, Listen.

Go slowly
The Abbott government seems to have no sense of timing. Its bull in a china shop approach is applied to everything it does. The people are not unreasonable. They know that if they want our first class healthcare system to be sustainable, more revenue is needed now and in the long term. They are amenable to gradual solutions, to solutions that do not hit them like a sledgehammer. There is no need for a sledgehammer today or tomorrow; what is needed is long-run change to which the people and the economy can gradually adapt.

Review the Medicare levy
Remember how little protest resulted from a proposed increase in the Medicare levy to fund the NDIS; the people recognised the inadequate deal those with disabilities were receiving.

Then why not implement a gradual increase in the Medicare levy, a progressive tax that does not disproportionately disadvantage lower income earners. Why not increase it progressively, by say a half or a quarter of one percent each year until sufficient money is levied to cover costs. The people are much less concerned about paying more tax if they can see where the tax is going, where they can see the benefits flowing to them. What they resent are sudden tax hikes where the money disappears into a black hole where its use is a mystery, where it is used at the discretion of governments to pursue their ideological objectives.

Review Health Card eligibility
Millionaires with vast assets do not need a Health Card which affords the holder benefits, especially substantial pharmaceutical benefits. Are all holders needful? Could money be saved by restricting benefits to those who really need them?

Prevention is better than cure
This old adage is as true as when it was first uttered. Avoiding illness, especially avoiding hospital care, has been documented over and again as a way to contain and even reduce health care costs. Yet the Abbott government, which is burdened with an anti-science mindset, has reduced funding for preventive care, as if this established approach is a variety of green imposition. Encouraging and facilitating good nutrition, regular exercise, smoking cessation and moderation in alcohol use are all proven measures in maintaining health. The government should be strongly encouraging and properly funding prevention, knowing for certain that this will curtail health costs in the long term. Abbott and Hockey talk a lot about long term sustainability, yet ignore a powerful device for achieving it in healthcare.

Has Abbott the nous of Howard?
In my view, the answer is a resounding NO. His stubbornness in pursuing his ideological imperatives in spite of good advice and public protest has been evident since his election. Think about how he clings tenaciously to his Paid Parental Leave scheme, as if it was his favourite Teddy Bear, in the face of trenchant opposition, even among his own backbench.

Once more, I expect we will see him persist until yet again the Senate throws out another Abbott brain failure. But I suppose miracles are possible still.

What do you think?

Don’t miss out – make sure you also check out the current piece at TPS, ‘And that was . . . 2014‘. At this stage, the new more in-depth weekly pieces at TPS are due to return from January 25th.

Ad astra is a retired academic with years of experience in rural family practice.

Messing with Medicare

A TPS Extra opinion piece by Ad astra originally posted in comments on The Political Sword.

We ought not to be surprised that the federal Coalition is once again messing with Medicare. It was never enamoured of it, and PM Howard would have deleted it if he were able. But being a consummate politician though, with his ear to the ground, he came to realise that it would be political poison to remove or damage an iconic institution that the electorate values and wants to retain. Taxpayers readily pay the Medicare levy; they know what good value they get for their money.

So why is the Abbott government making a play that will diminish Medicare and harm the less-well-off who depend on it for their health care? In my view the reasons given are spurious. The pretence that they must curtail its use and the cost of it for budgetary and sustainability reasons is a facade, behind which lurks their ideological imperatives of user-pays and opposition to welfare and the ‘leaners’ that ‘exploit’ it. They are doing what Howard wanted to do; instead killing Medicare by stealth.

As so far they have failed to get their $7 GP co-payment past the Senate, they are now resorting to ‘back-door’ methods of forcing GPs to accept $5 less for for their consultations, and where they refuse to accept this, to charge that to their patients, a virtual co-payment. They are also changing the length of the consultations that will attract the usual short consultation Medicare rebate from six to ten minutes on the pretext that it will stop or reduce ‘six minute consultations’, which by implication are deemed undesirable. Yet this time interval is all that is needed for many consultations, such as, for example, a blood pressure check and repeat prescription, or an immunisation shot. In other words, the Abbott government is dictating to doctors how long they need to spend with their patients, irrespective of the patient’s needs, an exercise in gross presumptuousness.

There is no need here to furnish the details, which are well documented in a January 14 article by Julia Medew in the SMH. Read all about it there.

What are the implications?

General practice, or family practice as we prefer to call it, is a business. Those who run family practices have the costs of rent, staff and supplies to pay, like all other small businesses. While GPs are not poor, nor are they noticeably wealthy. Few drive expensive cars (take a look at their car parks) or live in mansions. Like all small businesses, when changes to their income stream are arbitrarily imposed upon them, their ability to survive is jeopardised. Wholly bulk-billing practices assert that the proposed changes will force them to charge co-payments or go out of business. The electorate would be wise to listen to what they say, especially those who rely on their services because they can afford no other. These folk will have no other option than to seek care in emergency departments of public hospitals. The consequence of a surge in ER patients are so obvious that they need no elaboration.

What does all this mean for the electorate? The Coalition is messing with Medicare, and attempting to do it by regulation because it can’t persuade the Senate of the merits of its case. Left untrammelled, it will destroy Medicare. Like a cancer, the affects of the government’s moves will multiply, metastasise, and eventually overwhelm the basic structure of this Aussie institution. And all in pursuit of a neoliberal ideology, a user-pays mindset, and the intent to punish Hockey’s ‘leaners’ whom he believes rip-off welfare entitlements. We can only hope that the intent of some senators to disallow this move is successful.

As if it was not inherently hard enough to institute these draconian measures, Abbott appoints Peter Dutton to do the job, a man recently voted by doctors as the worst health minister in 35 years and described as “…the dullest, least innovative and most gullible for swallowing the reforms from his think tank…” . Read the awful details here.

Are there no better solutions to the task of making Medicare sustainable in the long term? Yes. That’s for next time.

What do you think?

Ad astra is a retired academic with years of experience in rural family practice.

Life is great in the Sunshine State

Today we have a treat for Whispers’ Cellar readers. Regular and well regarded writer for The Political Sword 2353 gives us some insight into the Queensland election – enjoy.

There used to be a town called Acland on Queensland’s Darling Downs near Toowoomba. It’s still there physically, however all but one resident has moved out. The Darling Downs is one of the better farming areas in Queensland due to the presence of large quantities of rich black soil. Unfortunately, the people who originally settled in the area chose to site their town over a coal reserve. The Queensland and Federal Governments have given approval for the owners of the Acland Mine – New Hope Group, a division of Washington H Soul Pattinson – to commence the construction of Acland Mine Stage 3. While the Queensland Government will tell you there are 137 ‘strict’ environmental conditions and the proposed mine was reduced in scope – the fact remains that the proposed Stage 3 mine will increase coal production from 4.8 million tons of coal per year to 7.5 million tons per annum.

Quarrying operations are conducted in the upper reaches of the Brisbane River. Since 2007, there have been calls to close down this operation due to the inimical effects on the surrounding landholders including soil erosion with the subsequent loss of fertile land. On the complaint from a farmer in the local area, the Premier of Queensland advised that there was a requirement for a state issued licence for the quarrying operation – something the current operator didn’t have. The appropriate department then issued a compliance notice, which the operator then challenged. The challenge allowed them to continue operations and some retrospective legislation passed by the Queensland Parliament have allowed the current situation to continue for at least another 5 years. The details of this ‘deal’ are contained in this ABC news article.

Moreton Bay Regional Council is the local government body that manages the area to the immediate north of Brisbane City Council. Moreton Bay’s centres of population include Redcliffe, Caboolture and Samford. On 28 November 2014, they were ordered by the Queensland Government to remove all references in a town planning document to the potential for an 80 centimetre rise in sea levels between now and 2100. Other large Queensland Councils (including Brisbane and Townsville) have used the same assumption in town planning documents without being ordered to remove them. The Local Government Association has asked who will be responsible for the inevitable claims that will result when the land floods – the Council for allowing unsuitable development, or the State Government for ordering the removal of a planning constraint that has a reasonable probability of occurring?

On 24 March 2014, the Queensland Government decreed a rezoning of a caravan park on the Sunshine Coast to allow medium density dwellings. In addition to adding millions of dollars to the value of the property, the rezoning was contrary to the plans of the Sunshine Coast Regional Council and the State Government Department that controls development in the state.

Queenslanders have been bombarded for months with advertising regarding an improvement in ‘wait times’ for those requiring a procedure in the state’s hospitals. While worthwhile, the initiative is promoted as being entirely due to the actions of the current LNP government. The fact is that the initiative is the result of a Council of Australian Government (COAG) initiative from 2011 (prior to the current LNP Government in Queensland) where one of the recommendations was to improve the timeliness of elective and non-elective surgery within clinical guidelines. If you believe the advertising, Queensland made the targets – but wasn’t the worst offender in any case. The full detail is Recommendation 14 from this link.

The Queensland LNP Government points to the ‘anti-bikie’ laws as evidence of making the state a safer place. Newman, prior to the Stafford by-election in 2014, claimed the drop was ‘around 10%’. The reality is somewhat different as explained in this ABC Queensland News report. Manipulation of crime data was a hallmark of the Bjelke-Petersen Government in the 1970s and 1980s. There are a number of issues with the targeting of the ‘anti-bikie’ laws such as :

The looseness of the definition around gang “participants” who could be punished under the laws was highlighted by the arrest of librarian Sally Kuether, a bikie’s girlfriend with no criminal record who faces six months jail for visiting a pub.

Those of a certain age who had the fortune or misfortune to grow up in Queensland might remember a song used across the state in Primary Schools that shares its name with the title of this piece.

The truth is completely different. During the 1960’s and 1970’s when this song was used, the conservative Governments of Queensland were overseeing the decline of the state into the laughing stock of the country through graft and corruption – as ‘discovered’ during the 1980’s in the Fitzgerald Enquiry. Should you be interested in the gory detail – the full report can be downloaded from the link above.

From the end of the Fitzgerald Enquiry, the ALP had formed the majority of Queensland Governments. The Liberals and Nationals never seemed to be able to shake off the ‘stigma’ of the corruption exposed by Fitzgerald. The Fitzgerald Enquiry looked at the actions of a number of ‘crime figures’ and National Party politicians of the 1970s and 1980s including Joh Bjelke-Petersen (who was never acquitted of corruption charges as a result of the Fitzgerald Enquiry) and Russ Hinze – who died in 1991 prior to Fitzgerald Enquiry charges being made against him.

It is now history that Campbell Newman ‘resigned’ as Brisbane’s Lord Mayor at just the right time so the chosen successor, Graham Quirk, didn’t have to endure the uncertainty of a by-election. The ‘arrangement’ is discussed in this Queensland Parliament Factsheet. Newman then became the “Leader of the Opposition” from outside Parliament. Newman led a ‘newly married’ Liberal and National Party, known as the LNP – Newman came from the ‘Liberal’ side of the marriage.

Jeff Seeney was elected to State Parliament in 1998, after serving on the local council and the National Party state executive for a number of years prior. Seeney assumed the role of Leader of the Opposition inside Parliament (and Deputy Leader of the Opposition outside Parliament) as Newman was not a Member of the Queensland Parliament. The deposed previous LNP Opposition Leader John-Paul Langbroek and his deputy Lawrence Springborg (who both had seats in Parliament) resigned their positions as a protest over the arrangement. Since the 2012 election, Seeney has been Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development.

While the general consensus was that the ALP couldn’t win a chook raffle around the time of the 2012 Queensland Election, it is probably fair to suggest that nobody predicted the actual result – available here at the Electoral Commission Queensland’s website.

Some reading this would probably suggest that the NIMBY’s on the Darling Downs, Moreton Bay and Sunshine Coast should accept that time change and this is progress. However, there is a connection here. The owners of New Hope Group have contributed over $700,000 to the Queensland LNP and Federal Liberal Parties and that the operator of the quarry in the upper reaches of the Brisbane River is also a big donor to Queensland’s Liberal National Party, in recent years contributing $75,000. The owner of the Sunshine Coast Caravan Park has attended LNP fundraisers. In addition, all these decisions were made by Deputy Premier and State Development Minister Jeff Seeney. As an aside, prior to the 2012 election, then Premier Anna Bligh accused Newman of accepting contributions from developers when Lord Mayor of Brisbane.

The Guardian looks at the upcoming Queensland Election and observes that there is daylight between the policies of the LNP Government and the ALP Opposition on three issues – environment, law and order as well as privatisation. Their article discusses other environmental damage the Newman Government is in the process of inflicting such as the potential for irreversible damage to the Great Barrier Reef. They also suggest that while librarians have been arrested for being the girlfriend of a motor-bike club member, no ‘kingpins’ that may be or have been ‘into’ extortion and drug dealing have suffered the same fate. The Guardian also questions the wordplay that converts asset sales (something the ALP Government was rightly caned about) into 99-year leases with the Government of the Day being required to pay for any improvements to the infrastructure funded by the lease.

However, the election is on and when asked who would be Premier if he lost his seat (possible despite being held on a 5.7% margin), Newman claims it would be Annastacia Palaszczuk, leader of the ALP. The ALP needs a statewide swing in excess of 11% to win Government – which is a hard ask. Madonna King suggests that Newman can’t stop lying and the answer to the question is any one of a number of current LNP Ministers. The problem for the LNP is they have built a “presidential aura” around Newman – and there is a significant proportion of LNP voters that will only vote LNP because of Newman. To an extent, the federal coalition is in the same boat as it has built its image around Abbott.

While the ALP and Palaszczuk are being criticised for not ‘releasing policy’, I wonder if the real issue here is that the ALP (after recent federal history) has realised the failure of the ‘presidential’ system – in that a government is more than the leader? After all, it is difficult to suggest what action that would be taken to address a problem that becomes apparent in 2 years time – which is what we expect our governments to be capable of doing. It also makes it harder to run a FUD (fear, uncertainty, desperation) scare campaign or a ‘you’re a liar’ campaign if the other side won’t release specific items that will be implemented on the timetable demanded from the ‘other’ side. The strategy seemed to work in Victoria late last year – and for Abbott federally.

If that is the case does the conservative side of politics have the answer to the marketing issue as it is expensive to target a different person in each of 89 electorates? The recent history of the ALP in Queensland would suggest that some of their members aren’t much better than the LNP’s – although they did jail their minister who was found guilty of taking illegal payments.

Is the answer a loose confederation of independents, such as Peter Wellington and someone like Liz Cunningham who has decided not to stand this time around? It could be, provided the independents can see the larger view of representing the entire Queensland community and don’t necessarily make all their decisions through the prism of local sectional interests.

In any case – we’ll know on 1 February.

2353 is a mid 50s male who lives in Brisbane. He is one of the many bank staff who was culled in the mid 1990’s who has gone on to build a career in a completely unrelated field (in this case building and construction). He has a Bachelor of Business degree, a school age family, a mortgage and a fluffy dog.

He has served on a number of Community and Service Organisation committees over the past 30 years – all of which have the basic objective of helping the community that 2353 is living in at the time. 2353 has never been a member of a political party – although his community service work has given him a good grounding in the politics of society.

The Truth The Whole Truth

I was Christened a Catholic. When I was being raised by my parents I was raised to tell the truth. While I was being taught at school I was taught to tell the truth. When working for my previous employer of many years, it was drummed into us all from day 1 that you must be honest, that there are no degrees of honesty. You are honest or you are not. To steal $1 or $1,000,000 is still theft and dishonesty.

In a nutshell we should be honest in our dealings with others and everything we do. For those who call themselves Christians there is also the declaration that telling a lie is a sin.

Well, what the hell happened to the LNP and their so called Christian members.

We have the LNP in QLD and the LNP Federally telling so many lies to get elected and break so may promises once elected, that we can no longer keep up with the overall results.

To say there will be no change to Medicare and then change it is a lie and a broken promise. Irrespective of whether you think we have a crisis or not you have lied and broken your promise. What you should do is not change Medicare, thereby keeping your promise, and tell us how you will change it at the next election and use it as your policy.

To say Public Servants have nothing to fear from an LNP government and then create a crisis supported by your own ideologically driven mates dodgy report to sack 14,000 Public Servants is a lie and a broken promise. What you should do is not sack 14,000 thereby keeping your promise, and tell us you will sack 14,000 at the next election. You actually could have frozen recruitment and achieved the same result over 3 years.

The lies and broken promises are far too numerous for me to comment on them all. What saddens me is that Tony Abbott and Campbell Newman have lowered the standards and reputations of politicians to less than scum.

I am sick of the comments “we all know politicians lie” what a copout, there is no need for politicians to lie and there is no need for us to accept their lies.

We need honesty brought back and this applies to all of them. The most honest politicians appear to be independents as they are scrutinised so intensely by both the LNP and the ALP who are determined to keep the cosy duopoly they currently enjoy.

We had Campbell Newman state that he would not negotiate with Independents if there was a Hung Parliament. I chastised him for his arrogance and his obvious disdain for voters who elected anyone other than an LNP member. I reminded him that we are in a democracy and if voters elect Independents he should respect that decision and negotiate with them as they are the representatives of Queensland Citizens.

Sadly the very next day Annastacia Palaszczuk says exactly the same thing. So guess what the ALP have lost my vote as well.

I am thoroughly disgusted that any MP will state they will not negotiate with democratically elected representatives of its citizens. We are not a dictatorship just yet and you are not ruling by decree. If you will not negotiate with Independents then get the hell out of our democratic parliament go and live in a country that you can rule with arrogance and no concern for its citizens.

I want a hung parliament. I want these leeches to negotiate with actual Independent members who are not mandated by Ideology. This a Democracy. Negotiation, Compromise, Bi Partisan Solutions.

I also want a Royal Commission into MPs Salaries , Benefits and Perks and Allowances. With all of these Allowances, Perks and Benefits and Pay Rises being given to them, being voted by them over many years without any vote by shareholders.

I demand that only valid proven expenses be reimbursed. I demand that a receipt be provided and no cash  benefits be paid. I demand they have the same medical insurance and benefits as their citizens. I demand they have the same superannuation benefits as their citizens. I demand they have the same pension as their citizens. I demand the removal of all donations of any sort as this leads to corruption and influence of which there should be NONE. I demand they actually meet the public and hold forums where they can  release their policies rather than wasted advertising. I demand their salaries are linked to other Public Servants payrises as they are Public Servants. I demand they stop treating their jobs as a right and a career and serve the people instead or serving themselves.

If you think I have become disillusioned and cynical about our political system then you are correct.

If there was a party that would stop the rot, stop the theft, stop the rorts, stop the lies, Restore the trust, Keep their promises, Tell the truth, Have good negotiation skills. Take their real policies to the election and have future visions for all citizens, then I would vote for them. Sadly there is not.

For my money, when you vote, please vote for an Independent, you may actually get an honest person who has your electorates interests at heart.

Meet the average Australian on January 2 2015. They are feeling very angry.

Farms

The following is a post by Dr David Pascoe BVSc PhD OVH Repro, originally posted on facebook, reproduced here with permission. Dr Pascoe, who runs a veterinary clinic in Oakey, Queensland, has been successfully exposing the political and corporate greed and corruption behind the destruction and sale of our farmlands for quite some time now.

DavidPascoe

It’s enough to break your heart.

The Australian people are only beginning to realise what our politicians have really done to us.

They have already sold most of our prime farmland to the big foreign owned mining companies and the giant corporations of the world.

The fact is, nearly every inch of our best farmland is going to be mined; maybe not now, but certainly sometime in the future.

Here on the Darling Downs – the nation’s finest food bowl – around 92% of the land is now under a mining lease.

There are some 32 open cut coal mines planned, and 40,000 coal seam gas wells.

Down in NSW, the coming apocalypse of farming will be just as bad: Santos announced to shareholders recently where it will be developing its new fields: – from Tamworth to Gunnedah and the Liverpool Plains, across to Narrabri, Moree and right up to Goondiwindi.

Farming will be eventually be obliterated, delicate aquifers destroyed and all the precious moisture sucked out of the soil.

Governments have already decided that we are no longer an agricultural and farming nation but rather, an energy producing one. They just didn’t bother to explain that to the Australian people.

Slipped it straight past the wicketkeeper, you might say.

Why didn’t they make it clear what they were really planning and give the nation a say? Lets just say that they had their reasons. One day we hope those reasons will be fully exposed to the people of Australia.

We have been fighting this battle to save the farmland for four years, and so many of our fellow soldiers of the soil have been in the trenches a great deal longer. We are all battle hardened by now, but our hearts still break.

We wish it wasn’t true, that we could all wake up one morning and discover it was simply a bad dream.

At least now that Australian people are beginning to understand the reality of it – and how horrifically bad it is.

In twenty years time, our prime farmland will resemble the Western Front in 1916. And probably worse.

At least the Australian people are beginning to realise that we are all in this together, and that’s a good thing.

Today one of our readers wrote a poem and sent it to us.

We’d like to share it with you.

Political and Corporate Lies.

They stand there in their pinstriped suits
while smiling through their teeth of gold,
with tarnished tongue they talk the talk
ignoring what they have been told.

They spruik to Aussies “things won’t change”
and care for all the farming lands
while wearing their ‘Berluti’ shoes;
gold and diamond rings upon their hands.

The farmers and the pubic now
will fight the fight and publicise,
how corporates want to take their land
then sell to foreign enterprise.

There’s way to much at stake,
it’s our own homeland they’ll destroy,
this ancient piece of history,
our future children won’t enjoy.

We’ve heard these lies before,
results are there for all to see.
View photos where they’ve mined,
they leave behind catastrophe.

We all now have to stand as one,
fight to stop this corporate greed.
Don’t let them sell Australia,

Stand tall —

Don’t let them succeed.

David J Delaney
02/01/2015 ©

Welcome to 2015 in the ‘Cellar’

2015

2015 promises to be an exciting year for those who follow Australian politics. Firstly we have a NSW election scheduled for the 28th March – this could be interesting with the fallout from ICAC and the continued toxic contamination from the federal government.

Next we have an election due in Queensland before the 20th June – I hope to have much more to say about this over the next couple of months. It looks like Premier Campbell Newman will almost certainly lose his seat to Labor’s Kate Jones, Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney is facing increasing corruption allegations and is becoming very toxic in the bush. Once again we have the ‘Abbott factor’ helping Labor in this state. Could Labor go from nine seats to government in one election? Could the LNP be a one-term government? We certainly hope so!

Sitting atop state goings-on, we have the debacle that is (currently) the Abbott government. Could it be a ‘Bishop’ government or a ‘Morrison’ or ‘Turnbull’ government before 2015 is done with us? Then we have another budget due from ‘Eleventy’ when the last one still isn’t settled! Whatever happens, we’re in for interesting times.

I know the TPS Team at Ad Astra’s The Political Sword has big plans for 2015, and Michael & Carol Taylor’s AIMN is powering ahead.

During 2015 at the ‘Cellar’, we hope to encourage writers who’d like to have their creative offerings published, to make use of this site. We see this place as a supportive environment for new bloggers to get started without the hassle of creating a blog from scratch. We also hope to become a feeder site to more established blogs like The Political Sword and the AIMN as writers gain confidence and experience. Of course, we’d also welcome experienced writers to contribute pieces as well – show the beginners how it’s done 🙂

If you’d like to have a go at writing a piece, or would like to contribute to the Cellar on a regular basis, contact us via the tab at the top of the page (https://whisperscellar.wordpress.com/contact-us/). With the state elections due this year, some may like to put fingers to keyboard and let us know how you see these elections playing out – what are the local issues?

We’re looking forward to an ‘interesting’ 2015 and hoping Whisper’s Cellar can become a regular part of your conversations.

Emoji Everywhere 🎃

The WordPress.com Blog

Emoji? What are they?

“Emoji” is a Japanese term meaning “picture character.” It’s a standard for showing smileys and other little symbols inside text. But unlike traditional smileys that are made up of a sequence of letters like :), every emoji has its own letter.

🌷 🌹 🌺 🌻 🌼

Emoji blossomed on smartphones, where quickly picking out an emoji is often faster than typing out a long sentence.

Today we’re rolling out hundreds and hundreds of emoji across WordPress.com — 872 to be exact.

emoji

Do they look familiar? That’s because Twitter has graciously decided to open-source their entire set, allowing anyone to use them. We’re already busy preparing to add these to Jetpack, so WordPress.org users can join in the fun too.

Before today, emoji you inserted into your posts on the go wouldn’t always show properly for all your visitors. While the nice little bunny…

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Heil the adult government!

AdultGovernment

Ad Astra, eminent owner and founder of The Political Sword has been on fire this last week, writing a very incisive ‘play in several parts.’

He has graciously allowed us to publish the first part for the enjoyment of Whispers’ Cellar readers.


A play in several parts

Part 1

Prologue. A herald addresses the audience:

Recall how many times Tony Abbott promised us that if elected he would head an ‘adult government’, one that would contrast starkly with the immature, incompetent, chaotic Gillard and Rudd governments? Can you remember hearing that haughty promise over and again?

Recall how he painted Labor as a gaggle of kids, squabbling as they played at being a government, pretending, as kids do, but not really knowing what they were about. Six hundred pieces of legislation, passed despite vitriolic, hostile opposition, were never allowed to accrue to Labor’s credit. In Abbott’s eyes they remained a mob incapable of adult behaviour. All the adults were on the opposition benches – all the maturity, knowledge, experience and expertise was there.

Recall how when playing make-believe, kids use their imagination; trying to simulate the real situation, to act like grown-ups. We are still waiting for the Abbott government to show if it really is adult. The signs are not encouraging.

Senior ministers are taken one by one and given the ‘adult test’.

‘Adult-in-chief’, Prime Minister Abbott

Act 1 Scene 1

Abbott – The Big Man!

Abbott seeks to emulate Putin, that bare-chested, horse-riding macho man. He realizes that he is but a child-like shadow of the Russian dictator, but nevertheless puffs out his hairy chest, accuses him of being behind the MH 17 atrocity, talks daringly and pointedly about bringing the perpetrators (the Russians) to justice, labels him as a ‘baddie’, calls him a bully, threatens him with trade sanctions, and then some more, accuses him of subterfuge when sending a convoy of aid to east Ukraine, (as does Julie Bishop, who cops a Russian backhander for her trouble), and leaves Putin’s attendance at the G20 summit hanging in the air. There he is, just like a kid, hands on hips, jaw jutting, acting out his tough guy stance in the schoolyard for the benefit of his toadies, with his Foreign Minister standing just behind him, thumbing her nose. He’s playing to a domestic audience hoping to hear ‘good onya Tony’ reverberating from the boys at the front bar, clutching their ice-cold schooners of VB.

He hopes his tough talk will give him a boost with his sycophants, and indeed he has had some success.

His dignity and apparent compassion for MH 17 victims, which certainly did earn him some kudos, faded though as his attention reverted to tough macho man talk, and as he conflated the MH 17 tragedy with Islamic extremism which he painted as the threat to our way of life that needed drastic action. The schoolyard loudmouth could not resist the chance to big talk himself. He played the protector. The game plan was to first scare the chooks so that they ran around squawking in terror, but then promise to look after them, so they would lamely fall into line, quivering.

Abbott the kid, the Big Man, was on full parade. Very little adult to be seen there!

So much of the time Abbott looks like a kid play-acting the hairy-chested tough man, often with unseemly condescension. His gentler moments stand out in stark contrast to his bullyboy demeanour.

We know he’s been a pugilist from his university days; how much has he grown up since then?

Act 1 Scene 2

Abbott – The Slogan Man

Kids love smart slogans, a few clever words they can use to berate their enemies, to humiliate and bully the little kids, and most of all to look awfully smart. Abbott is this country’s three-word supremo. ‘Stop the boats’, ‘axe the tax’, ‘repay the debt’ still ring in our ears. Now we have a couple of new ones: ‘Operation Sovereign Borders’, and more recently ‘Operation Bring Them Home.’ Presumably, he believes that such superficial mantras are effective, and he’s probably right for some of his supporters. But he really is treating the electorate like children as he continues to assail us with such trivial representations of complex issues. When he throws his slogans around, he sounds like the schoolyard loudmouth he is.

Now we have ‘Team Australia’. All of us had better join Team Australia or we will be not be seen as team members, but as traitors. Again, his use of the term is childish, immature, and offensive to any who by implication don’t belong. Such as Muslims with extreme views! When will he grow up? Can he?

Abbott, the slogan-mouthing kid, is there for all to see.

Act 1 Scene 3

Abbott – The Liar

There are lies, more and more lies; there is no need to catalogue them. Habitual and unashamed lying is not necessarily a childish attribute – adults do pretty well in the lying stakes – but when he bald-facedly tells his astonished Party Room that he has kept every election promise, is that adult behaviour? A kid might think he could get away with such a mendacious claim, but what mature adult would so think?

Writing in The Guardian, Bruce Haigh writes: “His predilection for playing fast and loose with the truth, occasionally contradicting his own statements within days or even hours, indicates a degree of immaturity not seen in an Australian prime minister since Billy McMahon.”

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/14/as-the-blunders-grow-in-number-can-anyone-actually-challenge-abbott

We agree. With an immature leader like Abbott, what better can we expect from the rest?

The child within Abbott keeps popping up like a creepy clown in the box. Only blind-sided sycophants can’t see the clown. Glimpses of any adult within are elusive.

The Abbott government is a gift that keeps on giving.


The rest of this brilliant ‘play in several parts’ can be found at:

http://www.thepoliticalsword.com/page/HEIL-THE-ADULT-GOVERNMENT.aspx

I strongly commend this to Whispers’ Cellar readers.

While you’re there, also from Ad Astra this week is his take on the Hockey budget – also well worth reading!

What is the Hockey budget all about?

Open for business

Greetings and welcome to the opening of Whispers’ Cellar, an excellent BYO establishment! 😆

The Cellar will be a successor to Michael Taylor’s excellent Café Whispers. You may have noticed the look and feel here is very similar to that at the Café. This is on purpose so that contributors and lurkers quickly feel at home.

While we are a “left-leaning” group, genuine contributors are always welcome. We are independent and of course we’re biased – get used to it. 😀

To minimise spam and “illwillians” (© TT from TPS), the site has been setup so that all contributors must have their first comment approved before it will be posted. Please be patient with us during the first week or so – Florence & Bacchus will be busy approving comments as soon as they can.

Social Media
We can be found on Twitter – @WhispersCellar
and Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/whisperscellar?ref_type=bookmark

Authors
Anyone who has an article they would like published is welcome to submit it for consideration of publication. We are also seeking more regular authors.

Regular feature
We’re going to have a page for letting everyone know what’s happening on other blogs – Around the blogs. If you see something elsewhere you think readers here may find interesting, this will be a place to post it.

Contact us / feedback
On the menu bar at the top of the page we have a ‘Contact Us’ page for your suggestions and feedback or to let us know you have articles for publication. (https://whisperscellar.wordpress.com/contact-us/). Constructive suggestions on how we can make the site better for you are always welcome!

LET THE GAMES BEGIN!