A Dangerous time for Labour

Bill Shorten has had a dream run. He and Labour have done an excellent job at doing nothing and letting Abbott self-destruct. In this role Shorten has proved himself to be an expert, but whether this is by design to take maximum advantage of Abbott’s death wish or natural talent coming to the fore is, at this stage, unknown.

After Tuesday, no matter what the outcome of the LNP (maybe) leadership spill Bill Shorten and the Labour party will have to start doing things. Things like developing policies that work and the people of Australia want. After a year and a bit of semi-silence from Labour the Australian people will want to know what the alternative to extreme right politics is.

Abbott needs to be Labour’s example of what not to do. I hope and expect that the Australian people have gone past voting for the junkyard dog because of it’s ability to destroy a government. Abbott may have shown that he can smash and destroy, and gain power through lies and half-truths but the junkyard dog was never going to convert to a warm fuzzy family friendly pet.

Labour needs to learn the lesson from this and understand that there is politics, and there is good government, but the two do not mix. Rudd and Abbott were both politically vicious and ruthless but never had what it took to govern for the people. The time is here for Labour to stop the politics and construct future policies for this country in unison with the people and for the people.

Good governance is not coming up with smart ideas and telling the people that is what must be done. Good governance is about listening to the people who elected them, (and those that didn’t), and finding the path that leads to fulfilling the peoples wants and needs in a sustainable manner. These wants and needs are not confined to self interest and personal gain but also who we want to be as a nation. Gross National Product is a very poor indicator of the health of a nation.

There are many people in Australia who deplore the Australian concentration camps at Manus Island and other places. No healthy country incarcerates a minority people without any charges being laid and leave them with no legal or human rights, or any hope of freedom. Presenting the slow murder of the soul as being the only alternative to dying at sea is a political expediency of the most vicious and cynical kind. There may be those who object to the term Concentration Camp but that is what Manus Island and the other ‘Offshore Processing Facilities’ are. Bill Shorten, please have the backbone to say out loud that Rudd led Labour along a path to hell when he reintroduced Howard’s inhumane policies. Bill Shorten, Rudd made a mistake and you need to fix it.

Rudd also totally messed up over climate change. Abbott’s ‘colourless odourless gas’ is destroying our habitat. One lesson that the human race is that when a species habitat is destroyed the species dies. We have caused the extinction of many species by destroying their habitat and the least we should have learned is that not combating global warming could have dire consequences for our future existence. There are those that seem to think that the human race, and Australians in particular have a divine presence that is not subject to nature, but they are mistaken. Australia as a land mass that is extremely vulnerable to climate change and we as a people may have to make radical changes to our life style and expectation for our future if we do not start making massive changes now to our attitude about climate change. It is probably too late to avoid the results of climate change but whether this means a bit of fender bending or being dead on arrival depends entirely on our nation being willing and able to act now to avoid the worst of outcomes.

If Labour does not address the real issues of past decisions and change the direction of many of its past policies someone like Malcolm Turnball or Julie Bishop will tear them apart at the next election. They might get lucky and have Scott Morrison continue the downward spiral of the far right into oblivion started but Abbott but it would be a mistake to rely on dumb luck to get Labour through the next eighteen months.

It is time for Labour to stop playing politics, admit past errors and develop clear and inclusive policies for the future well being of both the individual and the country. The big question is ‘are Bill Shorten and the Labour Party up to it?’

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Soulless Economics 101

Van Dormael (1978: 32) quotes the British Economist John Maynard Keynes in 1941 as saying

‘the secular international problem‘ of maintaining equilibrium in the balance of payments – a problem that ‘had that had never been solved since methods of barter had given way gave way to money and bills of exchange.’

(and)

‘To suppose that there is some smoothly functioning automatic mechanism of adjustment which preserves equilibrium if only we trust to methods of Laissez-faire is a doctrinaire delusion which disregards the lessons of historical experience without the support of sound theory.’

Basically the problem with economics is that there is no way of establishing a rate of exchange. What is fair and what is unjust? Who knows? The only alternative seems to be no rules and that as been a disaster. This leaves a situation where human attributes (or lack of them) determine economic policies and outcomes. If the object is create a society that has a soul and acts humanly towards all its peoples then human qualities such as empathy and compassion have to be the guiding principle of economic decision making. If screwing the poor to give to Rupert Murdoch is the aim then Joe Hockey is the man for the job, but don’t suggest for one moment that there is any empathy, compassion or soul involved in Hockey’s policies.

Presenting spending years of mental and physical suffering in a squalid concentration camp with no charges laid and no prospect of release as being the only alternative of crossing the seas in a leaky boat is the act of a totally soulless country. How can a country that rushes to war in a foreign country at the slightest excuse, and without being asked but refuses to give significant aid to help stop Ebola until being forced to by universal condemnation from the rest off the world say it has a soul.

I used to like Australia when it had a soul, the days before Abbott became leader of what used to be the Liberal Party. The days before Kevin Rudd sent refugees of to concentration camps. But those days are gone. Can those days be revived?

The simple answer would be to bury Abbott and his whole front bench down the same hole as Azazel never to be seen again until judgement day, but that would be too simplistic. The problem is that if a despot is deposed what happens then? Is there any alternative? Sadly in Australia at this time I don’t see any viable alternative. Bill shorten seems a reasonable sort of fellow but he is no match for Abbott and he leads a party that has lost it’s soul. A beginning for labour would be to accept that Rudd’s refugee policy was a political move that failed and that it was also inhuman. If Labour reversed its refugee stance and supported speedy onshore process and humane treatment of all peoples it would be a beginning. A little bit of soul is better than no soul. Bill Shorten moving aside for Tanya Plibersek would be a major step forward. Tanya is a lady who seems to have empathy and compassion as well as the ability to stand up to Abbott.

With only about eighteen months to the next election we need to begin rebuilding Australia’s soul now because if the extreme right of the Murdoch/Abbott government becomes entrenched Australia’s soul could pass beyond revival.

Reference

Van Dormael, Armand. 1978. Bretton Woods: Birth of a Monetary System. United Kingdom: Holmes &; Meier Publishers.

Morrison must go

In Modern society there is the concept of shared responsibility. Not only must the person committing an illegal or immoral act be held to account but also those who caused the act to happen must also be held to account. There is growing evidence that Reza Berati was murdered at Manus Island, either by a security guard or by someone the guards let into the facility. Morrison tried to say that the murder occurred outside the compound and outside his jurisdiction. Not only that but Morrison tried to blame Reza Berati for his own murder by saying he had placed himself in danger. There could not have been anything more disgusting than Morrison’s performance blaming Reza Berati for being outside the compound when the truth is that he was inside under Morrison’s care and protection.

If Morrison had immediately started an enquiry based on finding the truth rather than covering up the circumstances of Reza Berati’s death there could have been a case for Morrison keeping his job, but that did not happen. Instead Morrison went straight into cover-up mode the way the whole of the Abbott government goes into cover-up anytime they act in an unacceptable manner. By attempting to a cover-up Morrison became as guilty of murder as the person whole stomped on Reza Berati’s head. Morrison’s resignation is probably the best that can happen for now but I hope that some time in the future Morrison receives the full sanctions available under the law for his actions.

Does Manus Island equal crimes against humanity?

Morrison’s “We do not comment on operational matters” is code for “some bastard is doing something we don’t want you to know about.” Morrison will claim it is the people smuggles that he does want to know what is happening, but that is not true. Morrison does not want the Australian public to know what is happening. The reports coming out of the Manus Island detention centre raises many questions about the treatment of asylum seekers in the care of Australia. It would be unfair to suggest that the reports are all true in total or part, but the lack of transparency and lack of information from the Australian government does suggest that there is a major cover-up taking place.

Did the asylum seekers who broke out of the detention centre do so in order to escape marauding PNG police that were allowed into the centre by the Australian guards? Were the injuries sustained by the asylum seekers a result of attacks by PNG authorities and/or Australian guards rather than the result of authorities defending themselves? What were the circumstances that resulted in the death of the deceased Iranian detainee? Do Australia’s actions at Manus island equal, as many overseas sources including China suggest, constitute civil rights abuses?

It is the duty of everyone who wants to know what is really happening at Manus Island to speak up and demand to be told. Anyone sees what is happening and does or says nothing is as guilty of any atrocities that are taking place in our name as those who are perpetrating those atrocities. I cannot say that any atrocities are taking place, I can say that Morrison and the Abbot government are taking extraordinary steps to make certain that the Australian public does not find out. Does Manus Island equal crimes against humanity? I have no idea, but I can say Morrison is making certain that it is impossible for the Australian pubic to find out. That alone makes me think that overseas sources know more that the Australian public about the true conditions on Manus Island, and overseas sources suggest that the Australian government has many questions that need answering in full now.

Refugees sending Australia broke.

As far as I can understand refugees attempting to enter Australia are interned in concentration camps in remote places with no form of processing taking place. Abbott keeps the illusion of stopping the boats by leaving refugees to rot out of sight.

Australia is hemorrhages money keeping untold and increasing numbers of nameless refugees in appalling conditions with no hope of a future. It is a feature of Abbott that he made all sorts of promises appealing to the bottom dwellers of Australian society to get elected but now cannot fulfill those promises. Abbott’s illusions are sending Australia broke.

Even if we ignore the appalling, inhuman treatment of refugees by Australia the present system is enormously expensive. How much of the budgetary problems the Abbott government is being caused by the desire of Abbott to treat refugees as poorly as possible? This impacts negatively on the Australians who need income support who Abbott has targeted to pay for his inhumanity. Australia cannot afford Abbott’s addiction to cruelty.

Breaking News. Australian aid for boat people.

Tony Abbott has introduced an overseas aid policy that will allow Indonesian fisherman to update their battered and leaking boats. The scheme is simple. The Australian Navy waits on the edge of our territorial waters with a supply of new boats. All the Indonesian fishermen have to do to collect their new boat is to sail to where the boats are waiting and the Navy exchanges new for old.

When the exchange has been completed there is a short ceremony that finishes with a ten gun military salute using live ammunition and the Indonesian fishermen sail back to Indonesia as fast as they can.

The Indonesian Government is reported to be so surprised by the generosity of the Australian government that it has been struck silent, but inside sources say a letter of thanks is being formulated as I write. A first draft became water damaged whilst being smuggled out by a fishermen coming to collect his new boat. So far the bits that can be translated read.

“mr f Abbo.. Wh…th.. f.c. do  y….. pig.y e..d  f.cked wit… .orr.ble N..is Gov…ment t..nk Th.y are pl..ing at. If w. cat.. t..t wa.cker S.ott Mor…on w. .ill string h.. up .. … balls .. if .. cat.. Ju.ia .ishop s.e .ill be plant.. in . rain fo..est .ith a ba.boo ..ick up h.r arse.

The remainder is undecipherable but we understand the Indonesian Government is highly animated and are still performing an ancient ritual dance not seen since the Japanese made a surprise visit from the north.

In a surprising act of modesty the Australian Government has not chosen to publicise this generous and noble policy.

Australia. The place where people disappear.

Does anyone know how many refugees have arrived by boat since September? Does anyone know their names? Does anyone know where they are? No. They no longer exist in any traceable form. They have disappeared. Australia is now a black hole where refugees can disappear without trace.

What surprises me is how easily Australians have accepted that refugees disappear without trace and have accepted that we have a government that will decide what it will and will not tell us without being held to account. Australians have the cricket, the tennis, BBQs at the weekend and what we don’t know will not harm us. Wrong. If we do not act when people disappear who will act when we disappear. So these are only a few refugees fleeing some war or repression a long way off. Nothing to do with us; who cares if they rot forever in some concentration camp in some distant land?

This is how it begins. History tells us this how it always begins. First a small minority is vilified. Then they begin disappearing. Then the circle of vilification gets bigger and the net gets wider and more people disappear.

Many of the refugees reaching our shores are minorities who belong to groups who ‘disappear’ in the countries they are fleeing. They arrive in Australian waters and the Australian Navy rounds them up and they disappear more completely than if they stayed at home. Does it not worry Australians the we are holding refugees incognito without any records that can be traced by legal representatives and for all we no have no record anywhere of them arriving? How many are there? Who are they? Were are they from? Are they being held in indefinite detention with access to any representation?

Mr Morrison had better remember that being a refugee is unfortunate but not illegal. It is the right of refugees to seek help and shelter wherever and whenever they can find it. The policy of making the result of refugees seeking help from Australia worse than the evil they are fleeing is the most abhorrent that could be invented.  Mr Morrison, when you are held to account please don’t say you were just following orders.

Australia’s Fascist Government

There are several characteristics of a Fascist government. Two of them are using military forces to control civilians. Another is censorship. The using of the Navy to tow boats carrying refugees back to the edges of Indonesian territorial waters and then censoring any news of the event should leave no doubt in anyone’s mind that Australia now has a Fascist Government. Why are so many Australian’s too polite to say so?

If we are to have democracy we must be prepared to speak out against totalitarian governments. I am not anti-Liberal, but Abbott does not lead a Liberal government; he leads a Fascist government.

If a government is elected democratically there is no complaint whoever wins the election, but when a government is elected on false propaganda generated by a biased monopoly media it is not democracy. It is time for all Australians who believe in democracy, whether Labour, Liberal, Green or free thinking in their political leanings to speak out and say ‘no’ to Fascism in Australia.

The Murdoch/Abbott government will fall. Dictatorships always do in the end. The question is ‘How much damage will this government do before it goes down in flames?’ Can we please try to make the Murdoch/Abbott fall as soon and as complete as possible?

Human Rights Day now a local Issue.

Human rights issues used to be about Australians looking overseas and tut tutting about how superior we are. We didn’t lock people away indefinitely without any charge. Refugees weren’t sent to concentration camps. We didn’t congratulate ourselves for an 80 percent decrease in the number of refugees seeking our help. We did not send people back to countries where they would be tortured or even killed. We did not live in a country where people disappeared.

But all that has changed. If we want to do something about human rights abuses it is time to clean up our own back yard.

Please don’t tell me Australia is a compassionate country

Tony Abbott has limited the number of refugees to be granted permanent protection visas for refugees to 1650 this year. This is retrospective and 33,000 refugees arriving before July first this year will have no hope of settling in Australia.

How can a country like Australia show its face on the world stage when it allows only 1650 refugees a year to stay in Australia for three years before a review of their status? Is Abbott blind to world events’? We already know that refugees from Sri Lanka will be returned to possible torture and worse under Abbott’s ‘Shit Happens’ policy. No wonder Australia stands condemned by the UN for its immigration policies.

Countries and people stand or fall by their actions. The condemnation on many fronts that Australia is earning around the world is justified. This must be the most uncaring racist bigoted developed country in the world. This is just not the country I came to love after arriving as an immigrant many years ago.

From a democracy view Australia is now the Fourth Reich. In a democracy rules must never, never, never be retrospective. We must never disadvantage anyone under the law by changing the rules after the event. It goes further than that. The retrospective changes effect the rules set by a previous government. That is not democracy that is fascism.

All I can say is long live the British monarchy because it is the only thing standing between us and a full on Nazis regime.