Australia… banana republic… and it’s open for business


(Source: Sydney Morning Herald,  Pat Campbell)

The cartoon above reminds us not to forget the nobbling of the NBN to benefit Foxtel, and then nobbling downloaders to benefit Foxtel’s programming investments.

Foxtel is the main source of profit for Murdoch’s Australian operation. If it folds, then the Old Man will be humiliated in front of the Gnomes of New York who refused to back his own business model for News Corp. They want to make some money, not indulge Rupert’s dynasty fantasy.

The Gnomes hived off the newspapers around the world, and kept the profitable parts – mostly movies and entertainment – separate… everywhere except in Australia, where pay TV was bundled in with the newspapers to prop them up.

Australia is special for Murdoch. It’s his “home ground”, where he was spawned. He still thinks he can keep control of it and use it as a redoubt to marshall his forces under a friendly government, once again to strike out at the world and take it by storm.

I’ve always thought Foxtel was the key business for Murdoch. So much damage has been wrought on our local polity, our governance, our technological infrastructure, our wallets and our freedoms to prop it up. Even the ABC has been nobbled: they lost Australia TV, and lost access to the BBC when Murdoch gazumped them with big money.

But still Foxtel stubbornly refuses to grow. Increases in sales are desultory. The business model of giving sham value – hundreds of channels full of rubbish – is failing. Packages abound. If you have Foxtel and want to quit, you get badgered by them with better and more generous deals offered (my own personal experience). You have to be determined to resist.

The Foxtel technology is antiquated: a proprietary physical cable, a set-top box, a smart card. It’s too hardware-based. These limitations mean that if a new customer wants a Foxtel connection a gang of workers has to come out to your property with back hoes and shovels to dig a trench. Someone has to pay for that.

Soon it will be us.

Why us? Because Murdoch’s Foxtel HFC cable is due to become part of Turnbull’s “NBN”. When a new HFC cable is installed, we – the taxpayers – will pay part or all of the cost, relieving Murdoch of one of the greatest cash drains in his operation.

Telstra, of course has a big share in Foxtel, so I guess they won’t be complaining either. Telstra already uses the HFC cable for internet… that’s how I get mine, by using the old Foxtel connection only for data. One of my greatest pleasures is to use Murdoch’s battered wire – the one HE paid to install, back in the early days of 2001 – to download iView programs and YouTubes when the broadcast TV menu is just too awful to watch (Psychic TV – online charlatans reading your tarots – can be depressing at times)

We are being stitched up. The ABC will be emasculated, punters will pay more for services they don’t want. All so the Old Man can thumb his nose at New York, who said he’d never make the Australian territory pay. They didn’t reckon on his determination to buy a country and its government.

Unfortunately for Murdoch, he is old. And his kids, the ones he’s anointed to run his businesses are dopey. The only one he hasn’t given the nod to, Elisabeth, the smart one, has been side-lined. There is hope.

The government he has entrusted to shore up his local empire is dopey as well, and hated. They’ve turned on everyone who voted for them – pensioners, disabled, foolish educators who believed that “Unity Ticket” crap, even more idiotic technocrats who didn’t believe Turnbull would actually “destroy the NBN”.

But not all supporters are voters, or more accurately have large numbers of votes at their disposal. They have money instead. Big Business, short on votes, but long on money and ability to donate, thought Murdoch’s Australia would be a land of milk and honey. It was expected that confidence and prosperity would return, literally overnight after the election. I can still remember Ray Hadley confidently predicting that the shops would “be full tomorrow”, the day after the Liberals wiped out Labor in Western Sydney. Reality has superseded that expectation (and Labor didn’t get wiped out).

There now seems to be a definite chance that it’s going to turn into a train wreck, as the train of spin meets the brick wall of reality. Things aren’t going too well.

Eventually the public will have to choose between the naive, “Bread and circuses” Reality TV show that’s been provided for their tittilation – Gillard scandals, Rudd Restorations, rats whiskers on the Speaker, hookers, 20 year old “scandals”, “Budget Emergencies” and the like – and the brutal facts of the Budget that takes away their entitlements (yes… entitlements) and replaces them with the Law Of The Jungle, Abbott and Murdoch’s jungle.

The “Budget Emergency” will have to be discarded in the minds of the punters, if for nothing else, then just for self-preservation. Without a “Budget Emergency” it becomes permissible to to start whingeing about your lot in life without that nagging guilt of going against the national interest. It’ll go, and along with it, the whole basis of the Budget and the government’s pitch for legitimacy.

In the last week I’ve been around to my suppliers where last year, in some cases, my expressed support for the Gillard government was met with actual open-mouthed shock. The general opinion of me was “Get his money quick. He’s mad.”

Now, not so much. It’s starting in the warehouses, and moving up into the sales offices. People are openly berating the government, looking for fault. You can’t find a lot of punters who admit they voted for Abbott’s mob. Many of these did, of course, and may vote for him again, but right now they’re going with the mob in condemning him. It’s the fashionable thing.

After “fashion” comes “mindset”. Then comes “common wisdom”.

People are sick of eternal struggle. They’re sick of politics and stress. They want to relax and enjoy the benefits of this great country they live in, without being hectored, divided into factions and demographics, and then encouraged to disparage, heckle or pick on each other.

Australia is not a hot-headed country. We’re more laid back about our politics. We like to be “relaxed and comfortable”. Culture wars, seething anger, envy, polemics, lies, spin, scandals and the rest are fun while they last, but we’re tired now.

We want our government to deliver, but in many cases the promises have been broken, and in others the “hundreds of policies” that we were promised were “costed and ready” haven’t got past the back-of-the-envelope stage, pending a thorough vetting by the warriors of the right, for ideological purity.

Australia is small enough for a few players to control. Media moguls, miners, a few banks and two supermarket chains take up far too much of our time and soak up far too much of our disposable income. Our exports are few. We are the world’s consumers. The few who are not involved in this handful of enterprises sell each other real estate and do each others laundry. Scientific research is becoming a secondary, marginal occupation. The physical reality of Climate Change is denied and ridiculed. It is still a “Debate” here, as it is almost nowhere else in the world. Our IT infrastructure is third rate, soon to become fourth or fifth rate, the better to keep antiquated delivery systems artificially current.

We are controlled by a cabal of niche business operators who think they pays us too much for too little work, and who can still buy whole governments to do their bidding… changing laws to benefit them, crushing those who oppose them, suing, arresting and trying – or investigating via Royal Commissions – those who are in their way.

If one of our main exports was bananas it would be perfect. But bananas – and most of our other agricultural produce – were dealt out of the last two “Free” trade agreements we have entered into.

Nevertheless, the description “Banana Republic” still applies. Wikipedia tells us:

Banana republic is a political science term for a politically unstable country, whose economy is largely dependent on exporting a limited-resource product, e.g. bananas. It typically has stratified social classes, including a large, impoverished working class and a ruling plutocracy of business, political, and military elites.[1] This politico-economic oligarchy controls the primary-sector productions to exploit the country’s economy.[2]

Yes, even “political instability” applies, unless you want to argue that the last election, and the media-legal trail of destruction leading up to it, wasn’t a stitched-up farce.

Yep, “banana republic” does it for me. But what are we going to DO about it?

545 thoughts on “Australia… banana republic… and it’s open for business

  1. Hmmmmmm
    I have a big problem with callng the RET ‘Palmer’s RET’, but the rest of this makes an interesting point.

    Biggest loser from Palmer’s RET – Newman’s coal generators

    It is possibly no coincidence – and not a little ironic – that the bigger losers from Clive Palmer’s declared intention to protect the renewable energy target will be the fossil-fuel generators owned by his greatest political rival, the Queensland premier Campbell Newman.

    The Queensland state government has announced its intention to sell its more than 8,000MW of coal and gas fired generation assets, held through Stanwell Corp and CS Energy – neither of which could make a profit last financial year because of the impact of renewables.

    Palmer and Newman are bitter rivals, and have had running battles in recent weeks and months and threats of court action

  2. What’s interesting about the Palmer-Gore thing is that, as a political stunt, it only has potency if climate change is back on the agenda. Otherwise it doesn’t really work at all. I’m willing to overlook the chicanery for the moment; the symbolism is promising.

    Put simply, you can’t have Gore standing there if you don’t want to engage people with the issue again.

  3. Just so everyone is clear on Labor’s position on repeal of the carbon price and a move to an ETS, and so no-one joins in the stupid Twitter howls of ‘please Labor, don’t repeal the carbon price’ –

    Labor’s Mark Butler has restated the Labor position.

    Terminate the fixed price carbon tax but replace with it with “something meaningful” like the planned emissions trading scheme.

    This is the position Labor took to the election

    And, in case you didn’t get that –

    Labor’s environment shadow Mark Butler has spoken on the carbon tax repeal bills.

    Given Labor has had a few positions of climate change, Butler reminds everyone that Labor went to the last election promising to get rid of the fixed carbon price and move straight to the emissions trading scheme.

    So he has no trouble with the repeal of the fixed price but does have a problem with the repeal of a meaningful ETS

    All this rampant Labor supporter stupidity is doing my head in and making me cranky. I feel like banging heads together, I really do. The fools have no idea about the way government works and won’t take the time to find out what Labor’s position is, they just keep yelling because Labor isn’t doing what they want. The same mob are still screaming for a DD. Only Tony Abbott or the GG can bring that on, Labor can do nothing. Abbott already has a trigger if he wants to use it.

    And just to make the howlers even more upset – Labor has voted to pass the Appropriations Bills in the senate, so that should put an end to the screaming to ‘block supply’.

  4. I still believe that Abbott is whipping up a frenzy about Jihad, Border security, Australian Muslims and Jihad and Border Security. All this so that if he does have to go to a DD the LNP will campaign on Border Security, Jihad and Aus Jihadists.

  5. Labor’s biggest issue is segments of its supporter base, Leone. it’s good that ALP voters actually think about things – it’s more than Liberal supporters ever do – but there’s always that a-little-knowledge-is-a-dangerous-thing risk. There’s a lot of jumping to conclusions and a lot of my-way-or-the-highway amongst the support base.

  6. muskiemp
    Exactly. It’s all Abbott has left – fear and loathing mixed with good old racism.

  7. Aguirre

    An astute comment. A few days ago Clive was a climate change denier certain to block all measures. Now he is a (partial?) convert, sharing a stage with Gore, and who endorses an ETS solution, sees the world moving in that direction presumably. This is in direct conflict with Abbott statements to the world.

    There are both threats and opportunities to all parties in this. But do we as a country, acknowledge the problem, but have NO measures to combat it? Are we, a rich polluting country, going to be the world bludgers?

  8. 2.10pm AEST
    Labor to the PM: Today’s the national day of protest for the CSIRO against the Prime Minister’s cuts and broken promises. The Prime Minister is cutting 1 in 10 jobs at CSIRO and slashing $111 million from its Budget, including cuts to climate research. Why does the Prime Minister believe science is absolute crap?

    Disregard the last statement, says Speaker Bishop.

    Why, Bronnie?

  9. I do like Gabrielle’s style

    Hunt welcomes the question because Labor has not once asked about the feral pig eradication program. Or something like that.

  10. Ms Sex Appeal has been very prominent today. What a shame she hasn’t bothered to keep up with the news before opening her mouth. First she spoke on the repeal of the carbon price.

    The debate over carbon repeal continues in the lower house.

    On the Labor side, Mark Butler, Kelvin Thomson and Andrew Giles have had a go. On the government benches, deputy prime minister Warren Truss and the member for Lindsay Fiona Scott.

    Scott noted that while campaigning during the last election, the weather at her local train station was spot on average. That is a chilly six degrees in the morning rising to 22 through the day for a normal September in Penrith.

    She said it was heartbreaking to see pensioners “wrapped in blankets” restricting themselves to one room in the house, because Julia Gillard had welched on her promise not to introduce a carbon tax.

    Then she got to ask the question allegedly about feral pigs.

    Liberal Fiona Scott asks Greg Hunt: I refer the Minister to this statement from AGL confirming that if the carbon tax is repealed price reductions will flow through to residential and small business customers. What is standing in the way of repealing a carbon tax that doesn’t help the environment, that will ease the cost-of-living pressures on businesses and families in my electorate of Lindsay?

    Hunt welcomes the question because Labor has not once asked about the feral pig eradication program. Or something like that

    Someone should tell Ms Sex Appeal that her pensioners will be feeling even colder this winter. AGL has just been given the nod to take over a rival company and will have much more control over NSW electricity prices, which will more than likely rise – again. AGL might, eventually, be compelled by some piece of commonwealth legislation to pay back all the carbon price but that does not mean electricity bills will become cheaper. There are many more cost pusher-uppers involved and prices will continue to rise.

  11. Quite, Gabrielle

    2.37pm AEST
    Tony Burke to PM: The Prime Minister told us how he was looking forward to working with the member for Fairfax but before the election the Prime Minister said, and I quote, “There will not be deals done with the Independents and minor parties under any political movement I lead.” Prime Minister, how’s that one working out for you?

    Abbott, looking ever so slightly uncomfortable, says Clive Palmer is supporting government legislation.

    Deal or no deal?

  12. More cuts –

    Assistant Minister for Social Services, Senator Mitch Fifield, has just officially announced the Dementia and Severe Behaviours Supplement will cease from 31 July 2014.

    “As I explained at Budget Estimates recently, the Supplement was introduced by the previous government as part of the aged care reform package and was designed to provide additional resources for providers who give care to people with severe behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia,” his statement reads.

    “Unfortunately the Supplement has not operated as anticipated, having gone well beyond the budget allocated to it by the previous administration.”

    It seems there has been a much bigger than anticipated demand for this funding. so it’s being cut completely. The logical thing to do would be to increase it.

  13. An orthodontist, actually. They make more money. Abbott was probably too chicken to allow anyone near his teeth anyway.

  14. His father may have been a dentist, but he also played rugby and hit people as a sport (I believe it is referred to as pugilism, though I doubt he’s heard of the Marquis of Queensbury *sniff*)

  15. More Liberal Party bastardy, this time from Blacktown City Council – one of the Liberal councillors involved is the father of the hapless Jaymes Diaz. Another, Isabelle White, is a failed Liberal candidate from last year’s election. What an asset she would have been to Abbott’s team, she would have fitted right in.


    The Liberal Councillors (pictured below) have proceeded to adopt their unfair budget last night attacking all residents and the most vulnerable in our Community, Pensioners and Disabled people were hit the hardest. They have increased rates by more than double the rate pegged amount of 2.3% and slugged local business a massive rate increase of 25% over 2 years, abolished the Pensioner 50% rebate, abolished free entry to the aquatic centres for Pensioners and Disabled people and increased pool entry charges by more than 100%.

    Liberal Councillor Jess Diaz has called Pensioners and Disabled people “Free Loaders” and the Mayor suggested that a “machine gun” be installed (to deal with the Labor Councillors).

    The Labor Councillors were silenced throughout the night by the Liberals moving motions not to allow them to continue to speak.

    In disgust and protest, the Labor Councillors walked out of the meeting leaving the Meeting without a Quorum. It is alleged that the Mayor carried out the motion any way without a Quorum. Labor is now calling for a legal advice as we believe the Mayor was out of order with his actions last night

  16. There are some good dentists and some bad dentists. Mr Abbott sr might have been a bad one just like his son is a bad PM.

  17. I am not turning off Stop Tony Meow just to look at Abbott’s yellow teeth. The kitty is much nicer.

  18. Just remembered an interesting and very important point made by Bowen today. It illustrates , yet again what a nasty bunch of bastards the LNP . The changes Labor made to Super , low income top up and rate increase, were projected to halve the number of people on full pensions by 2050, Rather than that they have gone for the work till you drop and slash worth of the pension to solve the “crisis” .

  19. kk
    I think Abbott and Hockey want people to die before they reach pension age. Raise the qualifying age to 70, tax visits to the doctor, put private health insurers in charge of GP visits, cut back on overall health funding – over-worked, unhealthy people won’t live long.

  20. 4.56pm AEST
    A vote occurring on the mining repeal tax right now.

  21. Leone,

    A few weeks back I saw a letter, claiming to be from a former insurance company employee. Their actuaries had calculated that the life expectancy of someone retiring at 60 was longer than someone retiring at 65. The reasons were that the 60 year olds generally found it easier to adapt to not working, although I also suspect that an extra 5 years work takes its toll on the body.
    The suggestion that HoJo thinks that most of us are meant to die before retiring rings true to me.
    Me, I don’t expect to ever be able to afford to retire. I’ll most likely drop dead at my desk one day in 40 or so years time.

  22. Hi Leonetwo
    Nothing like a bit of genocide (maybe the wrong word but I think you’ll get the gist), to, put the people right where they want “US” ;=( Bastards

  23. Abbott is certainly trying to vilify oldies now. Yesterday in parliament he was at it again, he accused pensioners and retirees of being bludgers in response to a question from Brendan O’Connor.

    In 21 years time the pension age will be 70. Given the changes in life expectancy, given the changes in healthy life expectancy, given the additional support that this government is going to give to older workers, including the Restart wage subsidy, we think this is right and proper. We think older people should be economic contributors, not just social and cultural contributors. We want to give—

    He was cut off and didn’t finish his answer.;db=CHAMBER;id=chamber%2Fhansardr%2F0b40817f-a75a-4ce9-b4bd-0a2dcd932168%2F0105;query=Id%3A%22chamber%2Fhansardr%2F0b40817f-a75a-4ce9-b4bd-0a2dcd932168%2F0000%22

  24. It’s clear that this govt doesn’t like the vulnerable: AS, the sick, the old, the unemployed – anyone who is not exactly what it sees as of sufficient calibre.

  25. Kaffleeklatscher
    Hi how goes it? Thanks for that. I didn’t think genocide was the right word & I thank-you muchly for the correct one.
    Cheers 😉

  26. razz2

    Hello there. Did not realise Geriatricide was a word , it just sounded right. Just looked it up and bugger me it is a real word.

  27. Razz & Kaffeeklatscher,

    True, Geriatricide is a splendid real word.

    However, nothing – but nothing – (not even Antidisestablishmentarianism) beats



  28. AJCanberra those actuarial life expectancies make sense

    Anecdotal evidence was that airline pilots who retired at 55 didn’t age as fast as pilots who remained working until age 65. The observer wasn’t sure whether the loss of preferential treatment in roster selection wasn’t a contributing factor.

    So it might explain why women live longer than men, they used retire earlier and still have to do the housework.

    I am sure that the stress of working a 40 hour week when you’re older tests your stamina and the stress of living off your savings when you can’t get another full time job over age 50 also contributes.

  29. Fiona

    Friggatriskaidekaphobia is the gold standard to which all can only aspire. . Pub word of the year.

    Very informative about Tim Blair & his prior behaviour.

    Remember this name, he turns up in the Oz and on TV from time to time.

  32. !!!!

    It would appear that Tony Abbott did not vote on the carbon repeal and he has not been recorded in either the carbon tax repeal or the mining tax repeal in the house minutes

  33. leonetwo

    An edit.
    Group hugs and high-fives for the Environment Minister as the Carbon Tax Repeal Bills go through the Lower House

    — Alex Ellinghausen

  34. Fiona

    Brave Sir Tony No.2 today. Did Tony “I’ve Found It’ Abbott announce that the search area was a dud and they are moving south ? Nah ,, he sent out Warren Truss to make the announcement.

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