The Government as Sea Lions

Our Guest Poster, Jennifer Wilson of No Place For Sheep, has some eye-watering images of the current régime rabble for your delectation. I’m afraid they will be seared into my memory forever.

Thank you, Jennifer!

CNN iReport

I don’t know if you’ve ever watched the sea lions at Pier 39 in San Francisco. I’m reminded of that querulous and stinking marine rabble whenever I encounter the Turnbull government in my media. The sea lions are a nasty bunch, and they fight a lot.

I now can’t picture Malcolm Turnbull as anything other than a self-congratulatory pinniped in a top hat, barking and clapping his flippers at his own cleverness as Lucy throws him a fish.

While the PM hastened to reassure the country that he had “excoriated” his rogue MPs (including ministers) who left parliament early on Thursday afternoon, the real issue is not that the LNP have taken this event as “wake-up” call for their one-seat majority government, but that such a call was needed in the first place.

Surely someone (a staffer, one of Dutton’s ninety, yes that’s ninety spin doctors) could have reminded the government that with a one-seat majority, everyone really needs to stay till the end.

That seasoned politicians holding powerful positions (and, apparently, their entire staff) need such a fundamental “wake-up” call is worrying indeed. What it confirms is what I’ve long suspected: the LNP perceive governing as a game weighted in their favour that they are entitled to win, without any particular merit, or even by actually playing it. Any challenges to these perceptions are dismissed as little more than the grumblings of opinionated upstarts.

Turnbull’s first sitting week after the election was woeful. First thirteen of his backbenchers defied him on the matter of Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. Next, for the first time in some fifty years, the government lost three votes in the House of Representatives because of the Thursday bunk-off. Thankfully, they’ve now gone home for a few days.

On the matter of Section 18C, it’s interesting that the cohort advocating a “watering down” of the section are those who are the least likely to ever need the protections it offers. Read this piece by Jeff Sparrow on the co-option of speech laws for their own benefit by those who have no skin in the game.

Similarly, those most vehemently opposed to marriage equality are those who can in no way claim to be, in reality, affected by it.

(If such people are seriously concerned about a perceived debasing of the institution of marriage, they urgently need to make infidelity illegal. Imagine that).

I think it’s safe to say that politics has ceased to be much to do with good and fair governance, and is now almost entirely to do with the furtherance of the interests and ideologies of largely (and sometimes large) white men. In this they differ little from the sea lion colony in which the dominant males rule in their own interests, biting great chunks of flesh out of dissenters and shoving them, bleeding, back into the sea. It’s every pinniped for himself.

They even savage the young, and the ones with the loudest bark win.

SF Gate

328 thoughts on “The Government as Sea Lions

  1. Th next Manager of Opposition business in the Senate – I have no idea who it will be, but Claire Moore had that job until the election. She might like it back.

    Kim Carr also has experience.

    Maybe Shorten will go with one of the newbies.

    • With good reason too. Looked at in the context of all the big unanswered questions in politics at the moment – everywhere from Nauru to the Caymans to the Census to the NBN to matters actually specifically associated with donations – there’s precious little for any journalist to be proud of. And throwing all their resources into dragging down this piece of low-lying fruit is a sad indictment on journalism as a force for anything in this country.

      I should also note that Bourke, Riordan and Massola had nothing to do with it. It was the ABC running it day after day with no wider context (and no particular reason to give it prominence either – it was a marginal issue in terms of what’s truly shameful in this country), and the massive pile-on of journalists late in the piece, that did it. The information was easy to obtain, seeing as Dastyari had volunteered all of it himself months ago. And as we know, just reporting something doesn’t do anything in the country. Only Vulture Journalism gets results, and they’re very selective as to which morsels they’re going to feast on.

  2. Damn. Eaten by the WordPress monster. That’ll teach me for not keeping up with the discussion.

    I responded to Leone’s post with some vitriol against journalists. Never mind.

  3. Good morning Dawn Patrollers. Off to an early start as it has been one of those nights where it is difficult to get back to sleep.

    This was a good effort from AirAsia X. It makes one wonder why transcription errors can still occur in modern aircraft.
    Some funny NRL match fixing business going down?
    It hasn’t been a good few years for the NRL.–then-the-phone-rang-20160907-graxu1.html
    It’s every man for himself as Dick Smith heavies come under examination in court.
    Assola rubs his hands with glee over Dastyari’s resignation. Now let’s see how he goes as Labor will surely bring to light many Coalition donation issues.
    Windbag Tony Wright also has a gloat.
    Michael Gordon gets it right though.
    As does Katherine Murphy.
    Dave Donovan on the scent of blood around Sam Dastyari. Tis is a very good shot at the MSM – one for Bushfire Bill.,9444
    Matthew Knott outlines five ways by which to fix the political donations mess and why they may not happen.

  4. Section 2 . . .

    Emeritus Professor John Warhurst writes that our political system is in need of a dose of shock treatment.
    Labor is putting the acid on the government over the plebiscite legislation. Stand by for some fun and games.
    Nicki Savva on how Abbott continues to gnaw away at Turnbull. Google.
    Mungo MacCallum on Turnbull’s shambolic first week and the Labor ambush.,9446
    Andrew Street celebrates three years of Coalition government. It’s not a pretty story.
    Yesterday at the CA Royal Commission. It showed that the Marist brothers weren’t worth a spit without their canes and supply of young boys with the fear of God struck into them.
    In the meantime in the wake of the previous commission hearing the Christchurch Cathedral’s governing parish council has been sacked. Nice work by His Honour!
    News Corp embraces double standards when it comes to religious homophobia.
    Labor warms of new tax loopholes for the rich. Google.
    The government is losing its grip on superannuation reform.
    Are we headed for seven a side footy?

  5. Section 3 . . .

    A big hole is being dug for Clive Palmer.
    The shutters are going up around the Lindt Café coroner’s inquiry
    Things are hotting up with the workforce at the ABC. Sounds like they’ve had enough.
    This crooked cop is expected to spill the beans on a drug syndicate.
    The rail system to Sydney’s west is headed for overload by 2030.
    Before you rush to buy Farmers Fund milk read this.
    Gee we are attracting a motley bunch into politics these days!
    Are things about to come to a head in the APS dispute?
    We all know a Brock Turner.

  6. Section 5 . . . Cartoon Corner

    David Rowe on foreign ownership of farming land.

    Chris Downes on the reported sighting of a thylacine in the Adelaide Hills.

    Leunig on the arrival of spring.

    Glen le Lievre with the political donations issue.

    Ron Tandberg and the Soapy’s Diary judgement.

    David Pope and Turnbull’s G20 getaway.
    Ouch! Ron Tandberg on political donations.
    Mark Knight continues his Dastyari China plate theme.

  7. There’s been a flurry of activity on the back of that Matthew Knott tweet Leone posted last night. Knott, Massola and Di Stefano have been running a defence of journalism in the face of some strong criticism from a lot of people. Di Stefano especially. There have been a couple of highlights:

    1. Di Stefano having to ask what MSM stands for, and then claiming it’s a pejorative term. These guys are soooo out of touch.

    2. Andrew Elder summing it up beautifully, with his comment about one thing never changing – journalists being gamed by Liberals/vested interests and still believing they’re independent. There’s a lot of self-serving delusion amongst the journalistic fraternity if last night’s exchanges are anything to go by, and a total misunderstanding of the thinking that’s going on outside their clique.

  8. They’ve also been doing a bit of blocking in response to queries/criticism. I’ve seen some of the tweets that have prompted them to block users, and they’re pretty mild. You can do what you like as a Twitter user, but there’s evidence of selective responses which suggests they’re not prepared to be bipartisan in their approach to the issue. It’s a bad look.

  9. John Howard says 50/50 gender split in politics is unrealistic due to caring responsibilities

    I think you’re reading this the wrong way.

    Howard’s side of politics will never achieve 50/50 because conservatives don’t care.

  10. I may have already been proven wrong about this, but I has me doubts about those “statements” Sam’s supposed to’ve made. There’s nothing the Oz media likes more than citing inconvenient quotes (so long as it suits them of course) but I’ve seen no transcripts put forward. Plus, weren’t these traitorous utterances supposed to’ve been made during an election campaign? At a time when political parties watch each others utterances like hawks. Nothing then.
    Perhaps I’m just wrong.

    Nothing alters the fact that this has been a shameful episode in Australian media reporting even by its own standards.

    • It’s not as shameless as the Duncan Storrar smear by the Murdoch media, but it is in that general direction on news priorities and selectivity.

  11. Interesting and thought provoking… both countries colonised by the British in similar timeframe, both cultures have evolved in similar ways and yet NZ is so much more progressive.. Is it just that we were a convict colony and they were not? (although some convicts did end up in NZ apparently) Do we have a historical and monumental chip on our collective shoulder…

    I’m so sick of being embarrassed and ashamed of my country that I think I want to emigrate/retire to NZ.. As a kid/teen/early twenties I used to happily wear Tshirts/jumpers with Aussie flags – I still have in a storage bag somewhere one of those “Advance Australia” jumpers with the triangle logo on it. Even if it still fit me I would not be caught dead wearing it, or waving an aussie flag as that action is so associated now with right wing hate groups and ignorant bigoted bogans… sigh

    • After World War 2 Australia had a massive immigration program concentrating on migrants from Northern Europe. Top people in the liberal party come from families who fought with the Germans in World War 2 and Australia seems to have adopted their racist mindset

  12. Which is why you have a system of quality control.

    When the bill eventually reached the parliament, one of the government’s calculations was out by $100m. In the original explanatory memorandum accompanying the proposed legislation, item 11 claimed a saving of $405.6m from changes to student start-up scholarships – but the sum of the annual savings, as reported, only adds to $298m.

    The treasurer, Scott Morrison, had to go back into the House of Representatives to correct the error. The Treasury later issued a statement saying a computational error had caused the discrepancy.

  13. Another stuff-up

    The government has missed a self-imposed deadline to provide Labor a draft bill to set up a marriage equality plebiscite, shadow attorney general Mark Dreyfus has revealed.

    Labor has stepped up its attack on the government for the failure to release details of the plebiscite, with equality spokeswoman Terri Butler warning the Coalition is running out of time to make its case for the popular vote.

    Dreyfus told Guardian Australia the attorney general, George Brandis, “indicated to me last week a draft bill would be available by the end of the week, and none was forthcoming”.

    Butler said if the government wanted to hold the plebiscite it should be “out persuading Labor the benefits outweigh the possible risks”.

  14. Any old excuse for sneaking off early.

    Dutton wanted to see his kids

    Dutton’s kids are aged around 10 and 12, his daughter, from an earlier relationship, is older and doesn’t live with Dutton full-time.

    Kid of that age are not usually tucked up in bed by 8 on a Friday night.

    I recommend Dutton and his family spend a few weeks in a tent, getting lots of quality time together. Nauru sounds good.

  15. for a giggle, and if you are on twitter, check out #NewACTPlate

    ACT gov has asked for suggestions for new numberplate slogan, and some of the suggestions are clever/funny (but may not mean anything to you if you’ve never visited/lived here..

    Supposed to be 30char, but many of the suggestions are ignoring this.. other car is a skywhale

    ..Canberra: roundabout here somewhere

    ..Canberra: Gateway to Queanbeyan

    ..Canberra – more than Parliament House

    • There’s one place on the Cotter Road where it says “form one lane” where you are going from three lanes to two.

  16. Next week, I guess it will be Penny brandishing the sword against Brandis and it won’t be blandishment.

  17. Julie Bishop’s interesting expenses. (And Cormann’s, but his spending is modest compared to Bishop’s. )

    Cormann, Bishop spend taxpayers’ money to watch Eagles at AFL Grand Final

    I’ve heard theses excuses for snouts in the trough before –

    A spokeswoman for Ms Bishop told the Herald Sun she attended the game in her “official capacity”.

    “The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade partners with the AFL through the foreign aid program in undertaking development projects in the Asia-Pacific,” she said.

    “The minister had an extensive official program in Victoria that week.”

    Abbott said the same thing when he claimed his travel and accommodation for attending an Iron Man event in Port Macquarie. His excuse or saying that trip was ‘official business’ was he had a lot of ‘community events’ to attend. No-one could find any record of any events, but after a few weeks the Nats came to the rescue and said Abbott had attended a cocktail party held for the local Nats candidate.It all seemed very suspicious, the local media had not said a word about this ‘event’, or advertised it, and around here a fundraiser for the Nats would get a lot of attention in the local media. Abbott never repaid the money.

    So – I looked at Bananas’ entitlements claim, and did a bit of a search for things she did in Melbourne for 2 October-7 October. All that turned up was the AFL Grand Final and a chat on Insiders on the Sunday morning.

    She flew home from the US for the grand final, spent a few days in Melbourne, most likely shopping and dining with the handbag, and then flew back to the US on 8 October to open the G’Day Australia LA Fashion Week.

    And we, poor gullible sods that she thinks we are, paid for it all, including some lavish use of Comcars in Melbourne.

    Click to access P37_BISHOP_Julie.pdf

    I suppose she needs every cent she can scrounge. Supporting an Armani wardrobe and a handbag/boyfriend doesn’t come cheap.

    We also spent a lot on domestic airfares and Comcars for her ‘family’. I would think that means the handbag.

  18. Back on the Spirit. Visited Torwunna(?) Wildlife Park. Milly actuallly petted a devil, a 6mo joey. Watching 8 devils render and eat the carcass of a pademelon was something else. Lots of other things there. Called in at Elizabeth Town and bought some food to eat: food on Spirit is crap and bloody expensive.

    Overall, a great trip and I found a block of land I would like to buy.

    Thanks to Angry Bee for all his information. Will keep his email, will definitely be going back to Tassie!

    • You’re welcome, glad you had a good time. Should have mentioned that the bistro food on Spirit can be a bit hit or miss. I’ve had reasonable meals on some trips, others its like a 1970’s country RSL.. the fancy restaurant is good but very pricey.

  19. I am watching ‘The Project’ on channel 10

    I finally gave up on ABC Radio when Jon Faine on 774 has played shock jock all week. Fran Kelly and Michelle Grattan cackle like Macbeth witches.

    On Monday he asked Premier Daniel Andrews to comment on ex-fire services minister Jane .Garrett five times before I turned off. On Tuesday we discovered the CFA had engaged a union busting law firm to write the EBA

    On Tuesday, Wednesday and today faine frothed at the prospect of an elevated railway line on the Frankston line. He did not mention that the water table at Mordialloc, Chelsea edithvale aspendale parkdale Seaford is currently 4 foot and the local councils are developing plans to mitigate for severe ocean rise in these localities

  20. Billie

    Jon Faine’s re-education camp about a month or so ago finally sorted him out. It is amazing, he can recall every mis-step Labor has ever made either Federal or State, but amazing enough nothing about his mates in the lnp. He is currently huffing and puffing that someone has the temerity to run against Doyle in the upcoming Lord Mayor of Melb, how dare they!!!

    • Faine is getting long in the tooth – not much life after 774

      I noticed comments over the past month that Faine had gone to the dogs but there is no point listening to 774 any more

      Unfortunately Turdball has nobbled community radios access to digital so I am stuffed. I used to enjoy listening to Radio national on long car trips now the best the abc can offer is Deutsche Welle on News Radio

  21. Ok, I’ve been having a re-think of this Dastyari thing. At this stage I think it’s been a bit of a failure for the Turnbull government. Pyne this morning was going on about Dastyari resigning for “the wrong reason”, and I think i can see what he’s trying to get at there.

    The point of all this wasn’t Dastyari’s bill being paid off at all. The point – the thing the Libs were trying to hammer, without much success – was this idea of Dastyari not toeing the line on foreign policy. Here’s Turnbull talking about it on Monday:

    Speaking from China this morning, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull accused Senator Dastyari of undermining Australia’s foreign policy.

    “Back home, Bill Shorten is standing up for Sam Dastyari’s right to take cash from a company — associated with a foreign government — and then express a view on foreign policy that undermines the Australian Government’s foreign policy,” Mr Turnbull said.

    That’s what they’re trying to sell. Because they know that just accepting a gift isn’t enough to bury someone. It has to be tied to something. But all the media were interested in was the donation aspect. The Liberals were looking for a slow-burn that might drive a wedge through the ALP and paint one of their star Senators as some kind of a traitor.

    Dastyari taking the fall so early has killed the story. And Pyne, along with other Liberals, is standing over the ashes desperately trying to fan up a few more flames. I think it’s probably too late for that.

    Not only that, but a friend of mine, who has little interests in the ins and outs of politics, said to me today in reference to the Dastyari story, “I see our politicians have been stealing out money again.” Demonstrating:

    1. Most people don’t have a clue who Dastyari is or what party he’s from
    2. They think all politicians are the same
    3. They think it’s probably about rorts or something

    If the story dies, as it most likely will, Dastyari will still be able to hammer the Liberals from the Senate backbenches, the overall perception of politicians will drop a bit further, and the ALP will have a precedent to niggle away at the Coalition.

    And the media will inevitably go looking for some other story to report on.

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