Nothing to fear but fear itself in Turnbull government’s week of chaos and confusion

One of our most generous Guest Posters, Urban Wronski, has yet another piece of good journalism.

Why can’t the so-called professionals do this?

Thank you, Urban Wronski!

Craig Sillitoe; Fairfax

A month after claiming victory, a hollow boast in the best of political times, two weeks after PM Turnbull urged all MPs to “hit the ground doing”, our would-be Coalition discovers its narrative of good government is unravelling faster than the business plan for Shenua or Adani’s Carmichael mine. If our PM has a plan, why does Scott Morrison contradict him publicly all week?

Stray threads from its ripping yarn of heroic deliverance catch in the wheels as our P-plater PM, always an accident waiting to happen despite his stylish Isadora Duncan silk scarf, backs the Liberals’ Ming charabanc out of a tight parking spot into the path of Kevin Rudd’s UN Humvee.

What follows is a week of dangerous affectations, avoidable collisions and self-inflicted injuries including a mob of tin-foil hatters on the senate cross benches united only in their mission to repeal 18C of the Racial Vilification Act. As One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts explains “people are afraid to speak up on tax Islam and the economy,” not that this has ever stopped him.

Banks and backbenchers all over the road quickly bring our lame duck PM to a halt after being side-swiped by a runaway Royal Commission into as little as possible in NT’s juvenile justice system. Young Greg Hunt is sent out to redirect traffic wearing his brand new eye-catching science minister’s jacket which is clearly several sizes too big for him – as befits a clown suit.

After three years of funding cuts, the destruction of scientific careers and inestimably valuable research, the Federal government, keen to spin good news where there is none, executes a stunning back flip timed surely to coincide with the opening of the Rio Olympics or to distract from the week’s mess or the one third of MPs who refuse to accept that climate change is real.

Labor’s Kim Carr is outraged. He says Hunt’s claimed $37 million is in fact to replace $249 million that the Parliamentary Budget Office says was the consequences of the government’s budget cuts,’ The government’s 15 new climate jobs, comes after it has taken 75 climate jobs out of the CSIRO, part of the 300 jobs taken out of the CSIRO as a whole.

Quick off the mark as always, Tassie empiricist and exponent of the link between breast cancer and pregnancy termination, Senator Eric Abetz voices his concern that new Science Minister Greg Hunt’s “reversal of policy on CSIRO climate research is based on science, not ideology.”

The Senator is to be commended on his vigilance and must continue his empiricist’s mission to demand his government de-fund its National Wind Farm Commissioner into the non-existent harm caused by wind farms and put the $205, 000 salary into real research.

CSIRO’s new Climate Science Centre in Hobart, will proceed as announced in April although climate science research will still be significantly under-staffed and could find a use for the funds which could be augmented by the termination of the $5 billion in fuel subsidies and tax concessions so generously extended to the multinational companies engaged in mining.

Eric’s bickering echoes the dissension in the Turnbull government’s cabinet over Rudd abruptly nipped in the bud with a dud captain’s call. Where now is stable, consensus government, star of its grand narrative in which it publicly deluded itself it – and conned not a few others – that it would heroically save the nation?

In its place is chaos and confusion. The Rudd stuff up has everyone wondering if Turnbull will last out the year. The party’s hard right bully boys begrudge him three months grace before he’s spilled. No map at hand and beset by chaotic decision-making, Turnbull’s badly shaken team is already picking fights and playing up four weeks before the 45th Parliament sits.

In the meantime, the oxymoronic NT government may have failed to get its nominee Brian Martin QC up as Royal Commissioner but First Minister Adam Giles is still able to combine dark humour with light relief as he adds helpfully that Dylan Voller has not escaped torture entirely and that the spit hood and chair await him as any other prisoner now that he is in an adult jail.

“A society should be judged not by how it treats its outstanding citizens, but by how it treats its prisoners,” Fyodor Dostoevski’s voice of experience reminds us, a point Brian Martin raised in 2002 when David Hicks, was locked up and tortured in Guantánamo for five years before being released without charge into Australian custody where he could still remain had the government’s Counter Terrorism Amendment Bill (No. 1) been in force then.

The proposed Bill, which attracts bipartisan support and is somehow spun as a good news story this week, amends the control order scheme to apply to young people from the age of 14 years, with some restrictions, and introduces a new offence of advocating genocide. No-one questions that the new offence is about two hundred years too late to protect the indigenous Australians.

Dostoevski’s clearly lost on Attorney General George, lock-’em-up-and-throw-away-the-key Brandis or First Minister Giles and his “tough on crime” followers who advocate increased sentencing and eagerly demand prisons where even children are made to suffer.

Giles, whose CLP faces oblivion in the NT election on 27 August, takes a leaf out of the federal playbook and blames Labor, despite his government introducing in April the barbaric means of restraint in the Youth Justice Amendment Bill 2016 which notes in its second paragraph how,

“In recent years, children in custody have become increasingly violent, dangerous and irresponsible,” although it fails to provide any empirical evidence.

The law authorises increased unspecified restraint, or the use of further coercive force on children leaving the means at the discretion of the Commissioner of Correctional Services.

It’s a recipe for disaster, however well it may play in the politics of law and order according to Vincent Schiraldi, Senior Research Fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School, “I think these institutions poison everyone they touch,” he tells Australian reporters earlier this week.

Schiraldi’s stint in charge of Washington D.C.’s juvenile corrections program revealed a system in which abuse was not merely enabled but embedded.

“Don Dale cannot be fixed,” he says. “They need to destroy it, pour salt on the ground and come up with another model that fits the local area.”

Giles, however, believes he’s been stitched up. Territorians should know of his heroic quest.

“Labor have got their hands all over this, I’m the only bloody person who’s got the balls and the guts to stand up and try and deal with it, and I’ll do that every day for the interests of Territorians and kids.”

Giles’ man Brian Martin stands down. He says he does not have the confidence of all sections of the Indigenous community and he is not prepared to compromise the inquiry, despite George Brandis’ blandishments and attempts to talk him out of what appears to be an entirely reasonable and responsible decision. In other ministries, Brandis also would be stepping down.

Royal Commission Mk II, which features two commissioners, former Queensland Supreme Court Judge Margaret White and Indigenous leader Mick Gooda induces Corey Bernardi to attack Mick Gooda for being Aboriginal in the senator’s weekly “common sense” newsletter to supporters,

“I am most surprised that ancestry seems a more important qualification than judicial experience,”

No-one is surprised, however, at the banks giving the government the finger and keeping most of the week’s interest rate reduction the Reserve Bank hopes will boost our struggling economy.

Busted flat, however, is the Coalition’s conceit that it represents the only economic managers with a plan when not only must the Reserve Bank intervene by cutting interest rates, the banks can take advantage of a weak, government, beholden to them for funding and keep most of the interest rate cut for themselves.

As the Australia Institute’s research in June found – across a broad range of economic measures, the Abbott/Turnbull government has performed the worst of any Australian government since 1949. Economist Jim Stanford’s report examines economic performance across 12 indicators – including GDP per capita, the unemployment rate, employment growth and the growth of real business investment and intellectual property investment.

We are growing at 3.1% says Morrison – yet while GDP did grow largely thanks to property investment and a rise in export earnings as communities rose -real net national disposable income fell by 1.1% as Bowen pointed out a record eighth consecutive decline – the most sustained decline in our history.

The poor are hurting the most as inequality grows as a result of the government’s decision to cut the clean energy supplement to a range of new welfare recipients. The Turnbull government will drive the poorest incomes down to as low as 32 per cent below the poverty line within three years, according to the Australia Institute’s most recent research.

Being soft on banks doesn’t cut it either. The institute’s paper notes little historical correlation between “business friendly” policies and economic performance.

Rudd’s UN candidacy, “hardly a matter of first importance”, as Turnbull himself observes, blows up into a storm which rocks the whole boat. Leaks appear over night. Deputy dog helpfully volunteers cabinet votes narrowly favoured Kevin 016 but Turnbull is spooked.

Rattled, Turnbull tosses collaboration and consensus overboard. Like Captain Qeeg, he fixates on triviality, forsaking real leadership for impulsivity and a rash of bad captain’s calls on Rudd, the banks and Manus Island.

How best to deal with bastard banks for not passing on the full interest rate cut of a quarter of a per cent? A chat over a cup of tea and an iced VoVo! Kevin Rudd couldn’t have put it better.

Laughing all the way to and from the bank, NAB, CBA, ANZ and Westpac’s chaps in suits are very happy, they chortle, at the thought of a rorty road trip to Canberra for a chinwag with old pal Mal. Chew the fat with any pack of backbenchers such as the PM may muster.

Why some may even find time to give themselves a public flogging with a limp lettuce leaf. Or defend usury or explain why they must collude to fix interest rates and or lower the odds when they chance their insurance arms by disallowing claims and contesting medical opinions.

Inviting the banks to do lunch with Turnbull in Canberra once or perhaps more than once a year is a much better idea than a Royal Commission says Scott Morrison because it is “transparent”. Above all it will preserve that mythic confidence in our banks which only he can see.

The big four banks enjoy a hold over more than 80 per cent of home mortgages – 82 per cent of the nation’s $937.8 billion in owner-occupier loans outstanding last month and 85 per cent of the $523.8 billion housing investment loans. No-one in government questions this over concentration of investment in real estate in the face of an approaching economic downturn or the wake of a GFC we really never got out of.

If the banks are in need of protecting it is from themselves. If the Coalition’s plan for keeping the banks honest is ludicrously ineffectual, however, it is a gutsy effort when compared with its head in the sand approach to solving its Manus Island dilemma.

PNG’s Supreme Court orders the Australian government to provide a resettlement plan for immigration detainees being held on Manus Island by a 4 August deadline. Border Supremo, Dutton and his PM are all over it. Their plan? Australia simply does not show up in court.

It’s a while since Greg Hunt defended the government’s interest in trading coal with India and other underdeveloped countries on the grounds that it was “not a colonial power.” PNG’s legal team have just been given cause to believe otherwise.

“His ABC” and other mainstream media help spin Captain Mal’s action as a virtue in itself, in case the PM’s decisions might again prove over-hasty or ill-advised. Otherwise we may get misty-eyed over the need to be cruel to children in indefinite detention or fail to see that Manus is PNG’s responsibility.

Trade minister Steve Ciobo is despatched to Indonesia where he will forge another you beaut free trade deal that his predecessors have somehow missed in the hundred years or so we’ve been trading with our neighbour – an opportunity not spotted by Andrew Robb’s 360-strong trade delegation last November.

Before we can ask why the hurry, we are moved along. Before we have time to dwell on Rudd’s comeuppance, Brandis’ utter cock-up over the Royal Commission or digest the news that the new senate will generally be less easy to manage than the impossible lot Turnbull just tossed out we are hurried along. Nothing to see here.

Or look over there, a 31 year old terrorist has just been arrested in Braybrook. Great to know our stable government is keeping us secure. Nothing to fear but fear itself.


411 thoughts on “Nothing to fear but fear itself in Turnbull government’s week of chaos and confusion

    • Anyone who appoints dutton to anything deserves to be put in prison for crimes against humanity. And that includes the wangkers who voted for him.

  1. Just like something you might see in ‘Orange is the New Black’ (of which I am a huge fan).

    Inmates Caught Growing Weed After Taking Part In Prison’s Horticulture Program

    Prisoners in a Victorian jail may no longer be living the high life after a crop of 28 cannabis plants was discovered in the prison vegetable patch.

    It appears some of the prisoners at Fulham Correctional Centre — a medium security prison outside of Melbourne — became extremely enthusiastic about the prison horticulture program, planting the cannabis crops in between the regular plants grown in the program.

    Victoria Police seized the plants — some half a metre high — following a security check on Wednesday. An investigation has been launched into the illegal gardening

    At least the inmates were proving their horticulture classes had been very successful.

    • lol
      During the 1990s in that recession, at our CES the most popular course was horticulture. There were not many gardening centre jobs around but I assume everyone of those young blokes (and it was mostly young blokes) wanted to start lawnmowing rounds.

  2. There seems to have been a rare outbreak of common sense among some politicians today. Fizza and the Brussel Sprout seem to have escaped the outbreak though.

    State buys back controversial BHP mining licence on Liverpool plains
    New South Wales government says it paid $220m to reclaim licence for fertile farming area, and is in talks to do the same with neighbouring Shenhua

    Scott Morrison blocks Ausgrid sale on national security grounds
    The treasurer has rejected the only two bidders for NSW electricity assets, China’s largest state owned company and a private Hong Kong firm

  3. Typical corporate bully!

    In the Public Service you don’t just sack someone to make yourself feel better. There are processes to protect employees from this sort of thing.

    He can sack his Minister though

    • Very much in the ‘punishers and straighteners’ mode that the conservatives love. Morriscum, Potato Head et al all do it; penalise the disadvantaged (lazy leaners), abuse asylum seekers (brown trash), it all makes the hard core conservative feel a pleasant stirring in the groin area. A threat to sack someone is just the same, it’s how they get their ‘jollies’,

  4. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.

    Michelle Grattan – There’s seldom been a harder time to get things done. No wonder Turnbull’s all over the place!
    Trump continues to demonstrate his barking madness.
    Trump’s business failures explained. The man is a shocker! Google.
    Richo’s back writing for The Australian and gives Turnbull a real burst. Google.
    This journo says Australia is now a country that cares more about a computer cockup than the child abuse of refugees.
    Mark Kenny introduces Malcolm Turnbull, the PM with the reverse Midas touch.
    Dutton continues to make himself even more admired.
    Is Erica’s influence on the wane? Is he on the way out? Google.
    It was another enlightening day at the CA Royal Commission in Newcastle yesterday. Not in the article there was the revelation of the existence of a group of “people of influence” in Newcastle applying pressure to go easy on some of those under investigation. Mr Elliot has been subjected to scores of incidences of vandalism and has had to shift home on a number of occasions. Nice!
    There’s more here.
    The events that led to the census crash are becoming clearer. And they are not very pretty.
    Big on savings, small on security. How the census was all set to fail.
    Here’s The Independent Australia’s take on the census. Quite a good one.,9340

  5. Section 2 . . .

    The ghosts of Olympics past – a collection of eerie photos.
    More from The Guardian on the Nauru files and how Wilson Security regularly downgraded reports of abuse. I’m sure Dutton will have a plausible explanation.
    Michelle Guthrie passionately defends QandA.
    Thermomix is in a bit of trouble with the ACCC as its safety concerns are being investigated.
    Huge spikes in SA’s electricity prices have been caused by energy companies gaming the system. Now who would have thought that?
    Sean Nicholls writes that Abbott’s attack on Liberal lobbyists has helped to make the case for a federal ICAC. So Abbott IS good for something!
    It looks like FoxNews has its own institutional cover-up of sexual harassment problem. Hypocrites.
    The plethora of seedy private school scandals is showing that bad values begin at home. Google.
    The SMH comes out standing behind Glen Stevens’ comments.
    David Wroe is saying that the DDoS attack on the census probably came from a few minor, run-of-the-mill amateurs. An unsurprising and foreseeable event.

  6. Section 3 . . . Cartoon Corner

    David Rowe with Turnbull’s desk dais.

    Ron Tandberg takes the census to the church.
    David Pope tellingly illustrates Glen Stevens’ comments
    Bill Leak takes our political leaders for a harbour side walk.
    Mark Knight has a good one here.

  7. Turnbull does seem to think that standing up and saying a few stern words solves everything. As long as everyone knows that he’s ‘disappointed’ with the way the census was run, we can all forget about it. Same deal with Nauru. As long as he lets us know that the government is aware of what’s happening and that ‘someone else’ is to blame for it, there’s apparently no need to do anything else. it can just carry on with its atrocities, because he’s absolved us of the blame for something we created and continue to keep in existence.

    Their only trouble is in finding a scapegoat the blame can stick to. They don’t know where to sheet it with the census. Shadowy ‘hackers’ doesn’t appear to be cutting it, for the obvious reason that we were assured our data would be safe. I think they’re going to settle on the ABS, for no better reason than that the ABS can’t really fight back. It’ll be one of those “you wear the blame and we’ll make sure none of you are actually punished” situations. Then they’ll put the actual fixing of the mess on the backburner for five more years and we’ll go through it again, quite possibly under an ALP government which will cop the entire blame for it.

    With Nauru, it’s easier for them. Blame the victims, block the flow of information. It’s worked for them so far, and they’ll continue to do it.

    As has been pointed out many times, the only task the Liberals ever set for themselves is re-election. Governance is not really their thing. As far as they’re concerned the country can run itself somehow and continue to siphon money off to wealthy interests. There’ll be casualties of course, lots of them, but as far as that goes their only interest in in keeping the responsibility for all of that as far from themselves as possible. They’re a PR company whose only client is themselves.

    • As Erica said on Four Corners –

      ….Tony Abbott, Kevin Andrews and myself never got into politics to see a Labor Government installed. So we will do whatever we possibly can albeit from the back bench to ensure that good Liberal Party principles are upheld, good Liberal Party policy is implemented and to ensure that Labor does not win the next election

      So that’s their agenda. Do whatever it takes to make sure Labor doesn’t get elected next time.

  8. I think the ALP should start the Parliament term with a vote of no confidence. They’ve already got plenty of material to work with. And they should continue to claim that this government is not fit to govern. Just say it over and over, with fresh examples each time they bring it up.

  9. A right bunch of whackers they look. I can just imagine them all at the gym admiring their and their mates’ biceps.

  10. Heard a chap from ACFID discussing this on ABC local radio this morning..
    They have very strong legal advice that the Royal Commission does have jurisdiction to investigate the C’wealth’s response to child Sex abuse in Nauru.

    Its very compelling, but the commission would probably have to request a time extension and additional funds to expand the RC for this… Can’t see Scrott or Georgie agreeing to that.

    • A while back there was a bit of publicity about kiwis on Xmas island.There were a number of “incidents” as the guards found that, unlike the AS, the ‘Bros’ did not accept their bullying and intimidation so easily. The biggest punch up started when the nzers stepped in to stop a guard beating up one of their normal ‘prey’ , “small brown people’. Didn’t stop them being deported but I hope they got a few good ones in on behalf of the AS.

  11. includes an audio clip, worth a listen


    Cormann raises ‘first elected’ plan to halve Senate terms for crossbenchers
    The Australian 12:39PM August 12, 2016
    Jared Owens Reporter Canberra

    Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has articulated a plan that would disproportionately relegate crossbench senators to three-year terms, while ensuring six-year terms for more than half of the Coalition’s upper-house MPs.

    Following a double-dissolution election, half of the states’ senators will be forced to recontest their seats in three years’ time. How that is determined is left up to the chamber itself.

    Senator Cormann, the Coalition’s deputy leader in the upper house, today said the “first-elected method” – under which the first six senators elected in each state receive longer terms – would recognise that those senators’ tickets attracted more primary votes and a stronger flow of preferences.

    The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Penny Wong, threw the ALP’s weight behind the idea.

    Under that formula there would be six-year terms for 13 of Labor’s 26 senators, 16 of the Coalition’s 30 senators, three of the Greens’ nine senators, two of the Nick Xenophon Team’s three senators and populist crossbenchers Jacqui Lambie and Pauline Hanson.

    Senators who received less popular support – such as Derryn Hinch of Victoria, David Leyonhjelm of NSW and Bob Day of South Australia – would all risk losing their seats at the election due in 2019, as would the NXT’s Skye Kakoschke-Moore and three One Nation senators.

    Major party senators facing re-election would include International Development Minister Concetta Fierravanti-Wells and Labor frontbenchers Lisa Singh, Pat Dodson, Doug Cameron, Jacinta Collins and Claire Moore.

    Senator Cormann, the first-elected senator in Western Australia, told Sky News: “This has happened on seven occasions before since federation and on each occasion the way this has been settled is on the basis of the order in which individual senators were elected to the Senate in their respective states.

    “The important point is obviously this is a function of how many votes and how many preferences you are able to attract. If you are elected in the first six out of 12 then it stands to reason that you were elected earlier and as such you qualify for the longer period.”

    Senator Wong said in a statement to The Australian: “Labor will support the Government’s proposal to allocate Senators’ terms of office according to the order in which Senators were elected in each State.

    “This is consistent with the Senate’s previous practice following double dissolution elections and reflects the will of the voters.”

    An alternate formula, known as the “recount method”, would see the Australian Electoral Commission recount the ballots as though it were a regular half-Senate election and award seats depending on those duly elected. The AEC is required to conduct such a recount, although it will be up to the Senate to decide which method is used.

    Mr Hinch, who has raised the spectre of legal action if he is handed a three-year term, has proposed an entirely new method in which each elected party would receive at least one six-year term for its team regardless of how well it did relative to larger parties. This would safeguard minor party candidates, such as himself.


  14. has a helpful list at the end of which Senators are affected

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