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Australian Liberal Party

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PATH: Proles Accursed To HELL! Enough!

Since time immemorial, the worker has fended off constant attacks. PATH is another chapter in the Liberal’s playbook where they accurse the Proles to hell.

A Worker’s Labour is Valuable

The Liberal Party of Australia formed to oppose the workers’ parties.  How Liberals and Labor view the worker are worlds apart. PATH is a clear example of this.

Australian Liberals

The basis of the Liberal ideology is to enable growth in the free market. They believe the cost of labour should be as low as possible. Turnbull’s Liberals believe a worker’s labour should be a cheap commodity. The incessant need to eradicate workers’ unions and weaken industrial labour laws are a testament to this.

One could strongly argue that the aspiration of full employment is not on the Liberals’ agenda. High numbers of unemployed people result in a much larger labour pool. This, in turn, drives wages down. Or in the case of PATH – the creation of an opportunity where labour is utilised for free.

As Sussan Ley said on Qanda: Governments don’t create jobs

The neo-liberal ideology aim is to purchase a worker’s labour as cheaply as possible. Ideologues like Turnbull and Cash, view a law passed to create a pool of free labour, such as PATH, as an exciting achievement.

Australian Labor

The Australian Labor Party was borne from the struggle of the worker. They believe that a worker’s labour is valuable. In simple terms, they believe that the ‘supply’ side of labour has the right to participate in setting the value of the labour. Hence their close connections with the unions. In simple terms, Labour Unions are there to protect the working class from the disintegration of rights and fair pay as imposed by the ruling class.

From this perspective, laws that negate this right, disempower workers and remove individual agency.

This is a punishment inflicted upon the working class.

The Rise of the PATH

The Turnbull Government introduced the PATH Program in the 2016 budget. This bill passed the Senate on 10 May 2017; with the assistance of Cory Bernardi, Derryn Hinch, Nick Xenophon Team, Jackie Lambie, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and Family First all supporting the Government.

Only David Leyonhelm opposed the Bill, along with Labor and Greens.

The PATH to Nothingness

The PATH program offers young job seekers an internship by contract with an employer. This contract legally reduces the value of a young jobseeker’s labour. The taxpayer pays the intern at a rate of $4.00 per hour.

This is $14.29 an hour less than the minimum wage.This is $6.04 less than a 16 year old junior and $16.08 an hour less than a 21-year-old level 1 employee rate set down for many industries detailed on the Fair Work Australia payment guides.

The PATH scheme enables an employer to decrease the value of the intern’s labour by a minimum of 80% based on the scantest of entry-level wages in the country.

intern wage decrease

Business is at the Centre of the Framework

Internships are often painted as ‘work experience.’  However, work experience places the worker at the centre of the framework.  Work experience is usually a short-term experience in a workplace.  This enabled the worker to determine if they should invest in developing skills to seek future work in that industry.

PATH places business at the centre of the framework. An internship is:

The internship is designed around the needs of the host organisation and the intern’s skills, experience and interests. (Item 4, Sample Path Internship Agreement)

The employer must sign off to agree that they have a vacancy available now or in the near future. They have already identified that they need staff to meet operational requirements. 

The employer is already in a willing position to outlay money on recruitment and selection of new staff. They are already in a position to employ a jobseeker in a casual, temporary or permanent capacity.

This is not an incentive to increase staffing. PATH is an incentive to reduce recruitment & labour costs for staff that the organisation has already identified are required.

Additional Cost Savings to Business

Businesses can make considerable savings in induction, training and performance management costs during the probation period, in addition to recruitment and selection savings

The PATH program enables an employer to try a number of potential employees for free. This also frees them from all the associated costs during the probationary period.  

Businesses are able to increase profits through the tax payer funding the PATH program. This is not the same as work experience or on the job learning, such as an apprenticeship or traineeship. This is a free labour program dressed up ‘helping the jobless who seek to work.’

Lower Labor Costs Equal Increased Profits

The PATH program strips workers of their own agency. The worker has forced upon them, a lower dollar value in exchange for their labour. Employers have an opportunity to reduce costs and increase profit.

Labour, raw materials and overheads are the inputs in the production of goods or services. The through-put is the phase that mixes all inputs, including labour, together.

The output, being the end product or service is purchased or consumed by the consumer at the point of sale.  The employer factors into consideration the costs of all labour and materials in the input and through-put stages. The final product or service is sold for a percentage amount above the cost to produce that product or service.  This is the profit.

The cheaper labour is, the greater the profit for the employer.  The Government is creating a legal way for employers to reduce the cost of one factor of production.

The PATH program simply offers employers a way to reduce the cost of developing their product or service, enabling them to make a greater profit.

No Employment Guarantee

The PATH program offers no guarantee of future secure employment.  It does not offer a qualification that may be determined by the worker to be a sufficient value to trade for the monetary value of their labour.

What are the impacts on the emotional health of a young worker, if they are not retained?  What are the supports in place?

Experience as a payment does not automatically equal the same value of labour. Labour is given in exchange for money, conditions and other benefits. There is no formal equivalent offered to the value of the loss of wages, such as a degree that has a beneficial use to enable the worker to sell their labour to another organisation. 

There is no solid case that this experience will be valued by the young worker so much that it will negate any negative affect the young jobseeker will experience if they are not retained.

My main area of interest is emotions in the workplace.  I would encourage other bloggers to approach the PATH program from the aspect of the emotional well-being of the intern. I strongly believe we need as many people as possible investigating this issue.

Work. Struggle.

We are working people.
Work.
Struggle.
Even laugh about it sometimes.
None of us are winners.
We’re survivors
(Cameron Wolfe – Fighting Ruben Wolfe by Markus Zusak.)

These six lines boom, boom, boomed like a heart beating in the middle of page 25.

Marus Zusak has captured the essence of so many Australians. This is who we are.

The struggle of the working class in this country is a dire story. Sure, we have a history of hard fought victories. But as long as free marketeers live and breathe on the parliament floor, this struggle is endless.

Past struggle lives like a dormant beast within every, single worker.

The scars that punctured the body and mind, the endless nights staring at jail cell walls and the lives lost, of those before us, embodies the beast which stirs within the heart of every worker.

The Beast of Past Struggle

When Liberals and Conservatives think they can take away agency of the jobless. When they insist upon total control of their spending with a plastic card. The beast of past struggle stirs.

When they deny us and our children the opportunity of a skilled education, to learn a trade or a profession. The beast of past struggle stirs.

When they make a rule that says the weekends are only important to people who can afford to not work on the weekend. the beast of past struggle stirs.

And when they think they have the right to tell young people who are desperate for work that their labour has no value. The beast of past struggle stirs.

When the beast of past struggle stirs in many of us, the beast of past struggle ROARS!

In a civilised society, labour is purchased for it’s determined worth, not stolen through the rule of badly designed laws.

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Oh Do Shut Up! The Lib/Lab Duopoly is Bullshit!

shearers-strike

Unionists Marched Under the Eureka Flag in 1891

To quote Crowded House “They come, they come, to build a wall between us.” Well, this wall already exists between us and it has existed for at least 125 years in Australia. This wall is the wall between the employer and the worker. The very existence of this wall explains why the so-called Lib/Lab Duopoly is Bullshit…..and I do wish that people would really just shut up about it.

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Steve Price & Others Blaming “The Left”

steve-price

No, I did not predict this at all. I am not just talking about Trump’s win. I am talking about the vile response to “The Left” and the placement of blame on “The Left” within Australia.

Yes, “The Left” the two words pronounced by the right-wing with such venom that it gives rise to a vision that “The Left” are fetid stains on society – just parasitic bots wrapped in ribbons of shit.

Last night as I saw this video land in my news feed, I was pretty annoyed to be honest. This epitomises exactly why “The Left” (in this instance, leftist women in general), are plain exhausted and why we are responding emotionally to the result of the US election.

A Rampant Underlying Disease

Throughout the entire campaign, women from “The Left” endured a rampant rise of misogyny, sexism, an entire video demonstrating how men perpetuate the notion that men can just claim our bodies whenever they want, that women are nothing but an uncessary appendage to their sexual parts, how we should be jailed for abortion and the biggest message of all that a woman cannot be trusted to be the President.

Trump played this card because this ingrained distrust that women can be strong leaders is a rampant underlying disease. This is evident not just in America, but in Australia as well.

Women are angry, emotional and distressed at the outcome and rightly so. The championing of Trump’s sexism and misogyny impacts on women at different levels.

If you have been a victim of sexual assault or rape the impact of Trumps words are more painful and bring to the surface the fear of powerlessness and the reality and horror of sexual assault and rape happening again and reinforced as “okay”.

If you are a survivor of domestic violence, Trump’s words make escaping seems so much more harder, as who will believe you? You are just a woman.

If you are a woman of colour, Trump’s words added a quadruple layer to the extra layers of discrimination faced every single day and the terrifying reality of civil liberties ignored at an even deeper level.

If you have to face the agonising decision of abortion, Trump’s words make this not a personal decision, but label you in the lower echelons of society as a jailed criminal.

If you aim to be the boss and not just the secretary one day, or if you aspire to lead a board, a company or the country, your dream changed from a dream of hope and possibilities to a nightmare of climbing the highest mountain on earth and probably dying before you reached the top.

Every time Trump opened his mouth and every time people cheered it on, it chipped away at our agency. Agency we have fought for, that we marched for, that we slept out in the dark and reclaimed the night for. Agency we hold dear because we value and understand that women before us were tortured, abused, force fed, sexually assaulted and died so we have the agency we have today. Agency that is so far from complete agency that we are still fighting for every single day.

Women are NOTHING

Women know there are plenty of people who support women’s rights and are very aware there are plenty that don’t. However, I think we have come to a point where we feel that men who truly hate women, or men and women who do not believe women should have equality and agency, are in the moderate level of minority.  I would hope to think as a whole, we respect the efforts of women before us, and we recognise we have come very far; and many men and women have joined this crusade.

To sit and witness millions upon millions of Americans champion Trump’s contempt for women, and endorse him by rewarding him with the Presidency and legitimising that his treatment and contempt for women should be the new norm; sent us through a time warp of pure hell and it was a chilling and terrifying awakening.

This was a terrifying awareness because, regardless of all of our progress and the fights we have endured, there were millions upon millions upon millions of people thumping the table and screaming “WOMEN ARE NOTHING!!!!” “MINORITIES ARE NOTHING!!!” when they cast their vote. Yet you stand there bewildered wondering why we are angry.

Lecturing and Hectoring

On The Project, the panel asked a question to Jamilla Rizvi about the election result and how she was feeling about it. Jamilla detailed how excited she was when she woke up and it was a big moment for women, but now it has all changed.

Steve Price, a right-wing commentator, interrupted Jamilla’s answer, by jumping in before she could speak to a follow-up question about the demographic statistics of voters, of which white women factored in the Trump vote quite highly.

Price jumped in (no, he doesn’t need to lean in) and started putting his point across. His point that this was about ‘Real America.” Jamilla cut him off and asked him to “Cut the Bullshit about ‘Real America’.

Jamilla wanted to stress two points. That ALL America is real America and that ‘Real America’ is not just the parts where Trump supporters exist, but ALL Americans are Real. A very valid point. The other point she made as he was having a go at her for ‘interrupting him’ (after he interrupted her) was the question was directed to her. Jamilla is a strong woman. Strong women make concerted efforts to claim back their rightful place when men try to take it away. Her rightful place was simply to be given the respect to answer a question that was directed at her.

Every woman sitting at home watching, even if they didn’t see this coming, have witnessed and experienced the next blow. The ire, wrath and fury that rises up within a contemptuous man, when he is in a face-off with a strong woman. The desperate and surging need that rises up from within to put the woman back in her place.

Price hit back with the “put her in her place triple whammy.”  He hit back with the intent to apply blame and words to evoke self-doubt.  The triple blow was that this was a two pronged barb. One aimed at women and the other aimed at “The Left.”

Price replied with this virulent retort:

“This is the reason why Donald Trump won, because people like YOU lecture and hector people.”

When Will Men Take Responsibility?

I predicted that Trump supporters would gloat and I predicted they would ridicule and I predicted they would name call. However, I did not predict the blame that they would put on “The Left.”

There are many on the left calling for ‘calm’ in their response to those who are salivating over the Trump win.  Instead of insisting we call it out, now we are being told to respond with kindness and acceptance.

When will the women who fight for equality, ever get to take a rest from absolutely having to defend our position? Will it ever be over?

When will the ‘Anti-women men from the Right’ take responsibility for their own behaviours?  If they took responsibility for their own words and behaviours, women would not be forced into a position time and time again to speak out against the abject misrepresentation, stigmatising rhetoric or other degrading nonsense they project.

In 2016, women have now endured hundreds of years of men speaking over the top of women, interrupting them, invalidating their views, telling them that they are wrong and that it is all their fault.

Why does it constantly need to be explained to men like Steve Price, that the actions he displayed (interrupting, correcting, criticising and blaming) are a constant women face on a daily basis.  When will they understand that these words and behaviours lessen the value of a woman’s point of view and deligimitimises her true existence?

When comes the point in time that these types of men, clue onto the fact that it is their behaviours that invoke the response from women that they see as hectoring and lecturing. 

When will they ever remain silent and listen quietly and patiently, (as we are expected to do) and reflect on their own behaviour?

Will there ever be a point in time where they say “I didn’t realise that my words and behaviours are actually quite damaging to women. I’m Sorry.”

Will there ever be a time when these men carefully consider the opinions of women instead of striking back and deflecting blame back and/or pushing a woman into the corners of self-doubt?

Men like Steve Price occupy a completely different space in society than women do. A space where they have been given the legitimate right to cry foul and throw tantrums if 100% attention is not focused on them at all times. Where their power is reinforced because everything they say is always validated, or it is an underlying expectation of the dyadic exchange.

They are in a self appointed position of privilege and power and they are so fearful of letting that go. In a classic fight or flight response, they fight back.

When will the time come when men will stop letting the fear of losing the position of power and privilege take hold and take flight from their own fears instead of fighting back?

I have found this applies very strongly to men who sit on the right of the spectrum, not just towards women, but towards minorities, but most severely towards “The Left.”

Blaming The Left

Since yesterday, I have had three men approach me about the Trump win. They know I am very pro-Labor and very much against right-wing views. All approached me as Trump supporters in different ways, but the message was the same: to “Put the Lefty-woman back in her place.”

One did it with the ridicule approach. His tactic was to force me to concede how wrong I am and that my views are not the correct views and so many more people disagree with me and not just him. He made accusation after accusation of how wrong the left is. How it is the fault of the left because they chose Hilary.

He then said:

“Everything that has happened today – Is your fault. The Left created it.”

To be frank, I lost my cool. All I saw before me was a man who had endorsed and gave legitimacy to the contempt Trump has for women. I also saw a man who was part of a powerful system who openly and willingly enabled a very dangerous place for women and minorities. On top of my feeling of terror I had been lugging around since the Florida count, I was then dealing with a very deep level of disgust and disbelief towards this man before me.

The upset was the reality of seeing Trump emerge as the winner. The words and sounds of everyone trying to find their position to accept and respect, never question and obey, or to revolt, was like watching one of those old movies with Hitler and Churchill, but it was in colour. All of this gave rise to a day of accumulative negative affect, which simply combusted into a critical negative affect.

I directed every single emotion in a long tirade of beratement towards this man, who emerged as the first man who thought he had the legitimate power to ‘put me back in my place.’

Just like Steve Price and just like the other two men who approached me, this man placed the blame of the divided country, and the acceptance of xenophobia, homophobia, sexism, misogyny, ableism and sectarianism as the path to a better world of “The Left.”

However, the Right need to take flight from their own fears instead of fighting “The Left.”

Born to Rule

Those who sit on the right elevate themselves into a position of legitimate power. Not legitimate by position of actual authority, but legitimate power because they believe they are in the true position of authority over “The Left.”

“The Left” must obey or they will be punished when we do obtain legitimate power of authority.

The Left must bow down and apologise for not following the perfect plans of the right and ruining society. (It’s all Labor’s fault! The Greens are Terrorists!” Echo…Echo..)

The belief of ‘born to rule’ and the reinforcement that “The Left” are the dregs of society and the right are the societal elite; is deeply, deeply ingrained in their psyche and culture, through their ideology of Individualism, the ethical framework they adopt of egoism and their vengeful hateful stigmatising rhetoric against every single group “The Left” stand for.

The Fear that really gave us Trump

Just like men who need to take responsibility for their words and behaviours, when will the time come when the right wing will stop letting the fear of losing their self-appointed position of power and privilege take hold and fight their own fears instead of fighting and blaming “The Left?”

When will they look deep and hard at their own back yard that Individualism and egoism are the antecedents for punitive welfare policies, harsh cuts to public services and welfare, their war on the collective right to bargain for a fair wage and fair conditions and the stigmatising and debasing rhetoric that has shunned and cornered the lower and working middle class?

When will the time come that they reflect on their own behaviours and sincely enact change, just as they are demanding “The Left” should do?

If the Right reflect on how individualism and egoism underpin some of the most destructive outcomes for society, they can actually bring themselves down a level and sincerely listen and work on real solutions.

If the right decide to not reflect, but remain on the trajectory that they must be obeyed and followed, as the world needs their Paternalistic guiding hand; this divide will continue to grow.

Individualism and Egoism drive the Right’s sense of legitimate power. The conundrum for the Right is; if they recognise Individualism and Egoism as the cause of abject poverty and divisiveness, the only solution is a collective and unified approach with the Left, adopting a socialist viewpoint with socialist solutions.

That in turn, would create a fear of losing ‘legitimate’ power. That is the moment where they need to decide flight or fight. Do they run away from Individualism and Egoism or continue to fight “The Left?”

If the Right are truly concerned about the growing swell of people in abject poverty and despair who have risen to elect Donald Trump, then those on the Right need to fight their own fears, and stop fighting “The Left” and make a serious attempt to address inequality.

The System isn’t Broken – We Are.

broken-system

The system is broken. This is a common response in many political discussions across social media. I disagree. I believe we are broken. Not the system.

Over the years we have seen many right-wing parties rise up across the world out of what I would describe as the bottomless pit of apathy and agitation. Analysis of the voter demographic these parties appeal to are largely the low socio-economic working class, welfare recipients or a mix of work and welfare. In addition, this demographic is usually described as having a lower level of education and most likely live in regional and rural areas. Essentially, individuals within these groups have barrier/s of disadvantage.

Marine Le Pen like Pauline Hanson, leads a right-wing Conservative-Nationalist party. Le Pen in France, Hanson in  Australia.

Both Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and Le Pen’s Nationalist Front, target high unemployment, low-income areas, where the lower-middle working class are struggling to make ends meet.

Once the voice of the anti-worker and champions of Austerity take hold, it gets harder and harder but much easier for parties such as these to take hold.

Tactical Trump Manoeuvres

As we see with Trump’s tactical objectives in the USA campaign, Trump can easily be completely devoid of any real solutions. Solutions do not matter. The main objective is to bring to the surface the abject feeling of despair and find a target to blame that despair on. The target is always a minority group.

The game play then is to just pop up and say he will fix it. How, is not important. A way out of the feeling of frustration and anger is. This is consistent with the right-wing conservative-nationalists parties making headway through populist politics. 

In all cases, Trump, Hanson and Le Pen, the target for blame are Muslims. Other cultures and particular races can be mixed in as well. However, the key objective is that the voter-target demographic are not familiar with these groups. Members of these group are most likely not prevalent in the demographics of the voter-target regions. They are not usually known as close friends, or family members of the voter-target demographic.

They key is to divide us. The key is to make us broken.

The Appeal of One Nation in the Regions.

Taking this into consideration, there should be no surprise that One Nation votes are high in Regional Queensland. Regional Queensland ticks all the boxes for the target voter demographic.There are very few Muslims and these areas do not have a heavy concentration of multiculturalism. This makes these groups easy targets for blame, as members within these groups appear foreign and not familiar. 

Unemployment is rising, wages have stagnated, parents worry constantly about their children’s future, water is scarce in some places and if you are sick, you may need to travel more than twelve hours to get treatment and stay thousands of miles away from those who love you and support you. These things take a toll on people. It really is not fair.

The reason these target groups are selected to place blame on; is it is much easier to dehumanise a race, or a particular group if there is no personal connection to that race or group.

It should be no surprise that One Nation has backed off attacking and degrading Aboriginals as ‘the other lot that get everything we don’t’ as was her key mantra her first time in office.

That is because times have changed and there is much more acceptance and a lot of divisiveness from the 80s, 90s and early 2000’s has healed. A lot of lifelong friendships have been made and mixed families are the norm today. 

The same applies for Asians as a target. It would be ridiculous to state that we are being swamped by Asians, when it still has not come true 20 years after Hanson campaigned on this the first time.

Consistently, Pauline Hanson, just like Pen and Trump, deflect blame to minority groups.

If anyone tells me that Hanson is not taking aim at a target demographic to exploit their vulnerabilities and anxieties for her own financial and political gain…I call B*llshit!

The System isn’t Broken – It’s Us.

The link between Trump, Le Pen and Hanson, is that people are turning away from the policy makers and turning to the populist makers.  Policy is complex. It needs to take into account the interests of multiple stakeholders and other factors. Policy isn’t three word slogans. Seriously, what has Jobson Growth done for you since July 2?

I am not saying by any means that all policy is where it should be.  However, a true progressive would never be satisfied with the status quo. Otherwise, they would be a conservative. That is why regardless of past hurdles to achieving  marriage equality, even within Labor; the voices who believed in this change, stayed there and advocated that change. They did not quit and join a splinter party or chucked in the towel.

Today, the hateful and divisive plebiscite was voted down and Labor guarantees to legislate for marriage equality within the first 100 days, if when they win office, in 2019 2017.

It is only by strong voices staying there and fighting that fight, that they remained unbroken.

It’s Born in You.

I read two sentences today that really, truly affected me. Deng Adut – NSW Australian of the Year, said:

A person was not an Australian because they were born in Australia but because Australia was born in them.

What a person did for their country was what made it meaningful.

Not only was it one of the most powerful quotes ever in our history, Adut’s words made me reflect on my decision to join a political party.  That is, that regardless of whether you agree with my politics or not (Labor), I am engaged at a level as much as I can be. From a very young age, when I saw how my parents struggled under Fraser, and I listened to the contrast of Hawke, politics was born in me. I’ve bled red since. 

I have no aspirations to become a politician (I would love to be a researcher for a politician, but that is as far as it would go). However, I get engaged in politics, with like-minded people and we collaborate and share ideas to put forward. 

I cannot speak for other parties, but I know in the party I chose to join – Labor,  we have policy discussion as a standing agenda item, we have a Regional Conference, where everyday people like you and me, put forward our policy ideas, this then goes onto State Conference and Federal Conference. That is democracy at work. That is grassroots. It is being heard. That is the bottom up approach and I am proud to be a part of it.  

The noise in the media about political parties, the personalities within, the factions or divisions, is not what it is about. Politics is about a wider cause. Every party gets there in a different way.

If you are looking to have a voice, make it heard. Don’t just wait for someone to listen. We have free agency in this country. Well, no not all of us. Some of us don’t. If you know people who have trouble speaking up, or minority groups that are not heard, be an ally and ask if you can assist with advocacy. Also, join activist groups. Get involved.

We are broken because we are turning away from the collectivist roots that have bound us and allowed us to achieve progress for many years. We are broken because we are fractioning off. We still have voices, but they are fractured and quiet. Not loud and united.

We see this fractioning so strongly in the USA right now, just within the left itself. Here we have the most dangerous USA Republican Presidential candidate in my lifetime and the only party who can stop this, is the Democrats.  We have seen Bernie supporters still dedicated to someone who will not be in power. Who has no possible way to stop Trump. Yet, this loyalty is more important than joining in the SAME party and doing their very best for the cause.  Or the third-party voters who are also doing absolutely nothing to stop Trump. Just championing their cause.

Sometimes it is more important to stop someone so destructive, than be a ‘champion for your cause.’  This scenario is no different in Australia today.

A political party cannot effect change, if they are not in power. Evil will not be stamped out, if they are always in power.

The Birth of Liberal and Labor

The Liberal and National Coalition and the Labor Party are the ONLY two parties that can form Government. They were born from two competing view points and still are two competing ideologies. They are not the same. FriendlyJordies will explain why.

The Labor party was born from unionists standing collectively side by side and fighting for their rights. A simple fair days work for a fair days pay. Today, that is not such a radical idea, because this fight – the real bloodshed and jail time of everyday workers, gave us that. The fact that unions are out there every single day fighting for our rights, also gives us that. But the battle is still on.

The Liberal party was born from the idea that non-Labor parties join together to fight against those who fight for the worker and advocate Individualism and the Free Market. As we can see with policy positions such as the ABCC, privatisation of public services, abolishment of penalty rates, reducing or abolishing the minimum wage, punitive job seeker frameworks and other attacks on welfare. That this battle is still on.

It is a simple equation. For the middle and lower working class, work is central to everything we do. It puts food on the table, it buys school uniforms, it pays the rent or the mortgage, it puts petrol in the car, and it gives us choices of leisure to name a few. 

For people who are not in receipt of a working wage for whatever reason, it is our responsibility as citizens to make sure that those who are for individualism and austerity, do not have louder voices than the ones who are for unity and solidarity.

Decent wages and fair conditions and a supportive welfare system, do not just come wrapped up in a bow at Christmas. They are fought for. Long and hard by so many today and before us.

Be the Glue that fixes the system

Whatever your political persuasion, I fully encourage you to join a political party. If not Labor (which obviously I’m biased and I’d recommend), choose a major party who can form Government and effect change, which has the same democratic bottom up approach to policy and member’s voice that Labor has. 

No, Labor does not have perfect policy in all areas. However, members are given a voice for change on serious platforms. To progress, political parties need the people to be champions of that change. As Obama has said:

obama-quote2

Obama does not belong to a third-party or a splinter group.

If you want the system to not be broken, get amongst it and be the glue that fixes the system. Have a louder voice than the voices who are putting forward the policies you don’t like. Be part of the change you want to see.

Don’t just listen to someone who says they are listening but have no real solutions. Be the solution.  

Even after knowing a third-party, splinter group will never gain power and can never effect real change and you still decide to align yourself with a splinter group or a third party; fight the bloody enemy for goodness sake. We don’t need a replica of Sanders vs. Clinton in Australia when there are Orcs to slay! Take a leaf out of Albo’s book and “Fight some Tories.”

Unity is Key

Unity is the key. Not splintering off into smaller groups. This is the only thing that can beat the loud voices of Populism, Nationalism, Conservatism and Austerity.

John Howard showed us this when he forced us to use Australian Workplace Agreements and tried to abolish collective agreements. His policies were purposely built to break us.

One voice  – your voice to stand alone to negotiate your wage, is pointless, especially when he abolished unfair dismissal laws at the same time.  Never. Ever. Forget.

As Albo said tonight on Qanda, The Liberals and the Nationals – always, always try to divide us. It is their key strategy always. Splintering off into smaller groups, or deciding politics isn’t worth it, divides us even further. It is in their interest to make us broken. Hanson and parties like her’s are the bots that feed off the negative emotions that bleed out from all of this.

Hanson may not have been voted in on this platform, but everything her party has backed so far in the Senate, shows what they actually stand for. That is joining with the Liberals to create more and more division and more and more hardship for the worker and those on welfare. Working against the very interests of her voter base.

The Trump experience shows us how powerful and ugly the anti-worker, anti-socialism, anti-environmentalism, anti-woman, racist, homophobic, xenophobic, ableist, nationalist populist can be, when they have a huge following. We don’t need that here.

I believe we are at the cusp of that tipping point in Australia. Right here. Right now.  We do have the power to change that. Together. Unbroken. In Unity.

Follow Morrison’s Lead – Boot Them Out!

 

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Should we follow Scott Morrison’s example? Is it time to use Freedom of Speech as a precursor for a new model of Border Protection? Could we identify those who set out to destroy a peaceful society and create fear, dread and terror and boot them out?

There are a few constants that have been dragged up time and time again by the Abbott-Turnbull Government and two of these are Freedom of Speech and Border protection. The Liberals really want these two bills endorsed but there is opposition to block them.

However, should we grant unrestricted Freedom of Speech? Border Force could then identify, threatening speech and behaviour which creates, fear, dread and terror for many Australians and act on this quickly.

However, unrestricted Freedom of Speech does not mean freedom from consequence. If another human being or group inflicts emotional trauma, stigma, fear, dread and terror onto individuals or groups, they should be seen as violent individuals who are a threat to society.

The Border Protection Narrative

Asylum Seekers are held up as the universal threat to society. This underpins the harsh, punitive asylum seeker laws, the LNP champion to all of us, including the new proposed life time ban on asylum seekers who arrived by boat.

The Coalition have implied that Asylum Seekers are a threat to society as they are a burden on the taxpayer (Dutton) and Turnbull indirectly states that Asylum Seekers are a threat, due to the people who bring them here.

You should not underestimate the scale of the threat. These people smugglers are the worst criminals imaginable. (Turnbull, 30/10/2016)

Therefore, in the spirit of fairness and equity, if this logic is applied to asylum seekers coming by boat, then it stands to reason that we protect our borders from others who are a threat to our society and boot them out, never to be let back in again.

Let’s look to Scott Morrison as an example of how this works.

Follow Scott Morrison’s Lead

In 2014, Scott Morrison (then Minister for Border Protection) used his ‘power and authority’ to protect our borders. He threw someone out of the country who he determined was a threat to Australia.

This person was not an Asylum Seeker with brown skin, but a wealthy, white, “female attraction expert” or (Misogynicus Piggius). After a very active social media campaign, Scott Morrison cancelled the visa of Julien Blanc. Scott Morrison kicked Julien Blanc out of the country.

Mr. Morrison said of the cancellation of Blanc’s visa as:

“This guy wasn’t pushing forward political ideas, he was putting a view that was derogatory to women and that’s just something that our values abhor in this country,” he told Sky News.

Morrison acted on Julien Blanc because what he advocates is very harmful to women. If implemented by his male followers, we would see the physical and sexual harrassment of women in society, escalate. In a nutshell this is a threat to individuals, groups and society.

The Minister for Border Protection used his discretion to identify Blanc as a threat. This paves the way for the same discretion to be applied to identify other individuals or groups who are a threat to our way of life. 

This is why it is important to follow Scott Morrison’s lead.

Who are the real threats to society?

The Turnbull Government and the One Nation Party create fear, panic and dread for so many people in society. They do this through their freedom of speech to announce harmful cuts, stigmatising rhetoric and the purposeful division of society (Taxed and Taxed Nots, Homeless vs Refugees etc). One Nation encourages mass protests against segments of society, through alignment by choice with right wing Nationalists groups as well as their divisive and stigmatising rhetoric.

As per the example of Morrison above, these words and behaviours have the ability to incite violence towards individuals and groups. They are pushing a view that is derogatory to segments of society; and to align to Morrison’s quote – “and that’s just something that our values abhor in this country.” 

The Liberal and National Party politicians and One Nation Senators would be identified as a threat to society, if Morrison took the same logic and the same discretion and applied it to them. The perceived threats and the reasons they should be booted out of the country, are listed below.

Attacks on Unionised Workers and all workers

The ABCC will increase worker deaths, workers will face massive fines and also jail time, for stopping work, due to a safety breech in the workplace.  Destroying Rights at Work and purposesly implementing measures that will increase worker deaths is a direct threat to the lives of the Working Class.  

The LNP identify as a threat to the Worker. Protect our Borders. Boot them Out!

Attacks on the vulnerable

The Turnbull Government are abolishing the Year 7 Whooping Cough Booster when there has been an increase in whooping cough deaths.  This puts, babies, young children, teenagers and the elderly at a high risk of death and/or serious illness.  Destroying imperative control measures for deadly diseases is a callous abomination and a threat to all of society.  

The LNP identify as a threat to the Vulnerable. Protect our Borders. Boot them Out!

Attacks on Jobseekers

For putting forward a bill with even more disgusting and abhorrent punitive measures than the measures that jobseekers already have to face, including zero benefits for an entire month. Also for the Turnbull Government’s utter failure to create enough jobs to stimulate the economy and give the people a decent quality of life. In addition to giving job agencies the power to apply financial punishment to people in abject poverty – even if they are in hospital.

For imposing financial penalties for not finding jobs that do not exist; is sick, twisted and callous. These types of measures place the lives of young people in jeopardy and they face increased risk of suicide and homelessness. To have the intent of destroying the lives of the vulnerable is an absolute threat to all unemployed people now and in the future.

Another tactic to attack and dehuminise those on welfare, is to make up ludicrous mendacious claims about how much more money those on welfare get compared to ‘hard working Australians.’

In addition, the cashless welfare card is now proposed to be implemented Australia wide.

The LNP identify as a threat to the unemployed. Protect our Borders. Boot them Out!

Attacks on LGBTIQ community

The insistance of a plebiscite has not been a civil debate so far

I would like to make special mention of George Christensen, who has young people living in fear in his own community because of his hateful rhetoric towards LGBTIQ people.

and also a special mention of Member for Mallee and Nationals MP, Andrew Broad, who equates marriage equality to rams having sex in a paddock.
The LNP identify as a threat to the LGBTIQ Community. Protect our Borders. Boot them Out!

Attacks on First Nation People

For reducing 150 indigenous programs to just five. Cutting essential funding for legal services and the National Shame that is the Don Dale correctional facility and incarceration laws in some states and the absolute failure to ‘close the gap.’  Including defunding valuable programs for young people, such as the Jimmy Little Foundation.

The LNP identify as a threat to Australia’s First People. Protect our Borders. Boot them Out!

Attacks on People with a Disability

By damaging the framework of the NDIS. So many people in dire need of assistance under the NDIS, championed it’s inception. However, we have now seen changes to payments and a letter detailing changes to the board. These changes indicate that those on the board with essential lived experience of disability, will now be replaced with those with Corporate experience.

The Abbodisabled-newstarttt-Turnbull Government is also hell bent on inflicting punitive measures on people with a disability. Pushing them off the pension and onto the punitive framework of Newstart. As detailed above, a stay in hospital is not a valid excuse for the overseas employment giant Max employment. They will still apply a financial penalty. This is a type of insane power and authority. This enables companies who work for the shareholders, rather than those who serve the public, to impose onto an already disadvantaged individual, a financial strain, when they are already finding it difficult to make ends meet.

In addition, the narrative used by the Liberal party when discussing welfare and disabilty, is ableist and degrading.

The LNP identify as a threat to people with a disability. Protect our Borders. Boot them Out!

Attacks on Asylum Seekers and Xenophobia in general.

It is essential that this group is included. Asylum Seekers and anyone deemed as foreign (ie Muslims) have been used by the right side of politics for years now as a plaything in the game of spoiling identity.

The harmful rhetoric championed by Tony Abbott backed by his 1,000 flags and now adopted by our apprently ‘moderate’ Prime Minister Turnbull and inflamed to the Nth degree by Pauline Hanson and her merry band of devoted Nationalists, white supremiscists and Neo-Nazi’s; is one of the biggest threats to our society as a whole.

Due to this constant stigmatising and demonising rhetoric, individuals are verbally and physically abused. Some women have lost their freedom due to fear to go out in public.

This sickness. This irrational fear of people for no reason is alarming. Pauline Hanson and One Nation are central to inciting this divisiveness hatred and fear.

On Saturday, this was not just opinion or analysis, but a reality.

A Busload of Reclaim Australia and Pauline Hanson supporters bussed into Eltham.

They travelled especially to stand up against people in a community, about an issue that does not affect them, because they do not even live there.

They waved Australian Flags. They hid their faces by wrapping their head in a flag.

Riot Police were called in to stand guard – an indicator of the level of threat.

They rallied against refugee advocates.  These advocates expressed their views peacefully and showed their support for refugees with Butterflies.

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The LNP, One Nation Party and Nationalist support groups identify as a threat to Refugees and anyone who goes against their beliefs.  When we see those with intolerant views bussed into a peaceful community. When we see them displaying behaviours which cause others fear, dread and terror; the ‘them versus us’ debate has gone way, way, way too far. 

Protect our Borders. Boot them Out! Boot them ALL OUT!

Who Defines Patriotism? The Politicians or Us?

phonnlp

This article explains why Hansonism could rise from a minority status to a majority status – with Turnbull’s help.

It is time for Australians to decide what Patriotism means. Patriotism has become strongly embedded in the political psyche. It is time to determine who defines Patriotism. The politicians or us?

Political populism is a strategy used by politicians to appeal to the masses. Politicians do this by targeting a common fear to appeal to the masses and unite them behind the leader.

Populist politicians use this to unite the lower class and the elites through shared fears. These fears are usually quietly contained fears not openly spoken about, and it is the job of the populist politician to draw these fears to the surface. This transforms the quietly contained fear into openly expressed raw emotion.

This is the point when the Populist Politician holds all the Aces.

A Classless Fear

The reason Asylum Seekers and Muslims are used as targets within the rhetoric, is the fear of anything foreign is a natural psychological reaction.  The beauty that politicians see in this strategy is that it brings together all classes  – elite and poor, to unite over a common fear.

This explains why the rejection of foreigners/Muslims is more important amongst Hansonites than jobs, education, health and welfare.

To demonstrate, I will cut and paste a comment I received the other day about Pauline Hanson’s support for cuts to welfare:

I am not amused by some comments on here obviously i am a Pauline supporter and for one sick and tired of being called a racist because of my concerns for our country ..welfare cuts .. so be it ..better than paying thousands to a muslim man with a few wives and heaps of kids which they will keep on having to get the muslim numbers up in Australia (Forum User)

Forum User is expressing that he is happy with six billion dollars of welfare cuts because it is more important to prevent a Muslim man who has (in forum-user’s mind) a few wives and kids, accessing welfare; than it is to be angry at the Government for placing the disadvantaged into deeper poverty.

Forum User views his stance as patriotic, as Pauline Hanson reinforces this message.

When this misunderstood form of Patriotism, championed by populist politicians feeds into harming everyday Australians and pushing minorities down even further; who should define Patriotism? The Politicians or Us?

(Note: – the racist comment was generalised, no one had called him a racist on that forum)

In-Groups and Out-Groups

The success of this can be explained because there is a deep-seated need within humans psychologically to belong. Social Identity Theory describes this as in-group and out-group behaviour and is the biggest underpinning factor for the ‘Them versus Us’ attitude.

The populist politician uses the symbolic interactionism of words “Illegal immigrants” and symbols “multiple Australian flags” to draw the quiet and unexplained harboured fear to the surface, turn them into raw emotion and to set apart the groups.

This has negative consequences on democracy for the reason it pushes minority groups down further and further until they may be regarded as non-human altogether. Individuals within these shunned groups are classified in the minds of the masses as ‘other’ with an irrevocable spoiled identity.

This is where the fallacy of the Patriotic Approach enters the debate.  To remain vigilant and to protect the ‘In-Group’ anything outside of the ingrained beliefs or threatens the In-Group is deemed ‘unpatriotic.’

The Argumentum ad Populum Patriotic Approach

The debate by Liberal politicians for years now (strongly commencing with John Howard) has been built on  Argumentum ad Populum. That is, appealing to the emotions of the multitude, rather than drawing on authentic leadership to build a strong argument. 

Argumentum ad Populum cuts across two underlying constructs – Pathos – the use of language to appeal to emotions. Usually emotions which are harboured and need to be drawn to the surface.

For example, using the term ‘Illegal immigrant’ instead of ‘refugee’ or ‘asylum seeker’ implies that there is a criminal aspect attached to that person. Criminals are people we are generally afraid of.

The Pathos used to discredit and create the outgroup, are the terms unpatriotic and ‘lefties.’   This places anyone considered to have a social conscience (aka a left-wing individual) as unpatriotic. The politician reinforces this divide.

This use of this language legitimises the harboured fear and draws it to the surface as it creates the common enemy – unpatriotic lefties.

The other construct is the Argumentum Ad Hominem – or the personal attack.

The use of Pathos by populist politicians reinforcing over and over that their believers are Patriots, strengthens this belief.  This also is an antecedent to enable the use of Argumentum Ad Hominem as it used to protect the In-Group from the mendacious traitors within the Out-Group who cannot be believed because they are unpatriotic.

Anyone who sides with the ‘Targets’ (Asylum Seekers or Muslims) is labelled unpatriotic and is in the ‘Out-Group’ and shunned along with the targets.

The Prime Minister Follows Hanson’s Lead

When the Prime Minister announced that, “No asylum seekers who tried to come to Australia by boat, even those found to be refugees, can ever enter the country“, many reeled in shock and horror.

However, One Nation Party Leader, Pauline Hanson rejoiced; proudly proclaiming on Twitter the Prime Minister was following her lead.

Many are reeling in horror, as they see this as a complete disconnect from the politician Turnbull has portrayed himself to be for many years.

Along with others, I came to the conclusion that Turnbull had morphed into Abbott and has now morphed into Pauline Hanson. I referred to this as watching a bad Dr. Who regeneration. However, upon reflection I along with others, was very, very wrong.

Turnbull Channels Howard

Turnbull is not morphing into Abbott or Hanson. He is channelling John Howard.

John Howard is the most prolific popoulist politician of our time. He pushed political populism to a new level.  With the threat of Hanson’s movement in the early 2000’s becoming prominent this became a threat to the Howard Government.

Political populism seeks to fill a gap and motivate people to believe they have real agency to ‘beat the system.’ Third party populist politicans are successful when the gap is perceived to have widened between the promises of the Government to provide security and quality of life and their (failing) practical solutions.

When a third party populists instill in believers that they can beat the system; this means their target is the Government. This is now a direct threat to the Turnbull Government.

Although Hanson is smiling and cheering as if she is the alternative-Prime Minister; she is foolish if she is smiling now.

When the threat of a populist third party is a threat to the Government, the Government needs to become the system which embraces those who aim to defeat it.

John Howard’s success in defeating Hanson was to incorporate her demands into his policies.

In response, (to the threat of Hanson) John Howard recast policies on Aboriginal affairs, multiculturalism, immigration, social welfare and Australian nationalism to match more closely those advocated by Hanson (Wear, 2008)

When the Hansonites in the early 2000’s set out to destroy the ‘system,’ Howard’s response was to become the system that was accommodating and embracing, so that system was no longer deemed a threat.

Turnbull is channelling Howard by adopting Hanson’s policies to transform the system of Government into one that is no longer a threat to the growing movement of Hansonites.

This will require a very ugly Prime Minister who will lead a very ugly Government.

Is Turnbull the New Wedge-Meister?

In addition, Howard wedged the opposition on populist policies.  Author Thomas Keneally famously nicknamed John Howard  “The Wedge-Meister.”

Howard wedged the opposition on issues such as Freedom of Speech (Turnbull tick!), Border Protection (Turnbull tick!) and the need for Muslim immigrants to assimilate (Turnbull tick!)

Howard used ‘Australian values’ to ‘wedge’ Labor in an attempt to draw major support to his leadership.  Essentially, Howard was trying to wedge Labor as ‘unpatriotic and a member of the ‘Out-Group.’

It is very clear why Turnbull has ramped up the rhetoric with “No Asylum seekers who come by boat will ever come to Australia in their lifetime” and has openly challenged Labor to support the bill. Turnbull is not only channelling Howard by adopting One Nation’s policies, but also vying for the title of “Wedge-Meister.”

If Labor do not support this bill, Turnbull will paint Shorten as ‘unpatriotic, unAustralian, a threat to our borders and security and a threat to Australia.’  It will be the biggest attempt to shove the Labor opposition leader in the “unpatriotic out-group” we have seen to date.  Turnbull will then have free reign to dismiss Shorten using the Patriotic Approach discussed above (non-patriots cannot be believed because they are not patriots).

The Challenges Ahead

The challenge for leadership from the opposition to break this, is this type of successful political populist behaviour results in a very strengthened and cohesive cognitive culture amongst the group of faithful believers. If the Government keeps adopting Hanson’s policies and becomes the system that is no longer a threat and gains popularity; this creates a major dilemma for how the Labor opposition responds to this.

Although this could mean Turnbull may be remembered as Australia’s most hateful and divisive Prime Minister; what matters now is Shorten has a huge responsibility to respond effectively. He will need to challenge every nationalist policy Turnbull adopts of Hanson’s and he will need to be shrewd when combatting wedge politics.

True leaders would not turn to populist mechanisms to stoke, stir up and inflame that natural fear. They would use honest, open and authentic leadership to allay these fears.

For Australia to combat nationalism, as the Labor leader, Shorten needs to be an absolute stand out Authentic Leader. It will be Shorten’s challenge to find the gap in the ‘newly transformed Turnbull Government’. He will need to advocate strongly on the one thing that the Hanson/Christensen/Turnbull Government fails to deliver on, that will give the masses agency, security, salvation and hope.

There is a challenge also to us as a people. A very serious challenge.

If populist policians are defining patriotism, as something one stands for, even if it it means harming our nation through divisive, destructive and stigmatising policies and rhetoric; who should define Patriotism? The politicians or Us?

Our challenge is to redefine Patriotism. Patriotism for Australians should always be underpinned by ‘The Fair Go.’  We need to stand up strongly together and reject anything that does not align with the Fair Go and shout this down as unpatriotic behaviour.

It is time we redefined Patriotism and took back our country.

Readers can also follow my blog on Medium and The Red Window on Facebook

This Could Change Politics Forever

I am frustrated at the state of the politics in Australia. I am here to offer a solution. This simple solution could change politics forever!

It is frustrating that so many people are apathetic about politics. I am frustrated that all it takes is a slogan or a fear repeated back to them to win the people over.

We have just seen the rise of extreme right wing Nationalist parties in Australia. We have seen the highest amount of disengaged voters and third party voters. How did it come to this?

It has come to this because shouting people’s concerns back to them is now seen as a solution, rather than having real solutions.  

We have got to this point, because politicians are rarely held to account for the decisions they make.

We are also at this point because politicians are talking ‘over people’ and they not listening to them.

Isolated and Ignored

It has been noted by many journalists and commentators that there is a growing number of people within Australia who feel isolated and not ignored. They feel the Government is not doing enough to help them. They feel the opposition is not standing up for them against the Government and they feel this very strongly.

There is an air of distrust that politicians say they will help, but then the actions the politicians take, don’t help – they cause harm.

The problem is that politicians routinely say one thing and then do another. A clear example today is the Prime Minister’s cutting of domestic violence services, but responds with words and platitudes that help no one. Domestic Violence victims need real money to build real services and supports. Not empty words.

The Solution to Change Politics – The Placard Test

I have a suggestion for all politicians. The media often talks about the ‘pub test.’ I would like to suggest as a solution – The Placard Test.

People who are passionate about ideas, achieving justice and taking real action get out into the streets, stand together and wave placards and chant their support for an action that needs to be made, or their distaste for an action that has been made by politicians.

Politicians should be prepared to stand out in the street and wave their placards to show that their decisions are the best decisions. This would be known as “The Placard Test.”

The media would also love this. Standing somewhere waving a placard always gets attention and turns people’s heads.

On the other hand, it reaffirms that those votes were definitely not wasted on that politician. It would save a lot of effort, time and money campaigning prior to elections.

The Solo Placard Test

Politicians could do this via the solo “look at moi” approach:

hanson-worker-deaths

This could save a lot of confusion for voters. For example Pauline Hanson above campaigning on the fact that she stands up for the ‘average Australian’ would be debunked, if she had to stand holding a sign about the real action she is taking and what this means for ‘the average Australian.’ 

Or

living-in-poverty

This would also make voters less confused. The Liberals are an old hand at making harmful decisions, but telling Australians how good these harmful decisions are. If they had to hold a sign up about that decision, it would be much more clear to the average voter.

The Solidarity Placard Test

The solidarity approach would be quite exciting, with the entire party and all politicians who supported the Government involved.  All standing there side by side in solidarity waving their placards.

If the decisions of the Government and politicians who support the Government think these are great decisions then get out there and convince us with the Placard Test.

Here is a picture of what a “Liberal and National Coalition and their mates in the senate” rally would look like:

lnp-protest-2

Liberal and Coalition, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, Bob Day, Leyonhelm and anyone else who is the Turnbull Government camp –  see how great this is?  (By the way, these are pro LNP, anti-Gillard, Anti-carbon tax protesters, just to make the Photoshop more authentic)  

To really stand together and own what you truly believe in is a fantastic feeling!

This is real innovation in leadership Mr. Turnbull. Round up the troops now!

For the Opposition

For the opposition. I know Labor is not new to protest. However, with so many angry and disengaged people, you need to just say it like it is.  Instead of listing a number of things you believe in (which is nice), tell people what you will do. These people are hurting and they are angry.  They need to know what you will do to stop the hurt in simple terms. For example:

butler-placard

We need a bit more of SHOUTY Bill standing up for what is right. Get out there with your megaphone Mr. Shorten and tell the country what a cad Turnbull is for cutting welfare from the most disadvantaged in our society.  Shout the Prime Minister down. Shout out to the public that you will stand by us all – for a fair go.

bill-megaphone

People say Labor and Liberal are the same. So they take the third party option. Show the country the difference between Shorten and Turnbull. Tell those supporting far right parties like One Nation and the QLD LNP that you will fight for the people a hell of a lot harder than they ever will! 

Make it a reality and let us see the emotions behind the belief. The emotions behind the fight. The fight for jobs and the fight for fairness is in Labor’s blood. Wear it on your sleeve! The contrast is very stark indeed!

shorten-vs-turnbull

Shout about Genuine Solutions

The far right parties are gaining support because they just shout the fears of the people back to them. They have no real solutions. They don’t need real solutions. Change Politics by communicating in very simple terms the solutions of the opposition and explain how this will address their fears.

Adopt this solution to Change Politics!

I hope politicians think this is a great idea. If they are so passionate about what they believe in and the decisions they make, the Placard Test would surely win over the public.  It is a great way to get the media to take photos of them (which they love). The public would know exactly how committed they are and exactly what they believe in.

The Placard Test would be much better feedback than the focus groups politicians rely on now.

It would also make all politicians accountable (and maybe think twice) for the decisions they make on behalf of the people or when they support bad decisions by the Government of the day.

This is a great way to communicate the stance the opposition has made, even when the Liberals and their mates, Hanson, Day etc., outnumber the opposition parties.

I hope the Placard Test will be a winner.  If done right, the Placard Test will be the political change we need.

Abbott & Turnbull – It’s on like Donkey Kong!

tony-time

I can imagine Abbott reading the latest dismal polling figures for Turnbull and dancing around reminiscent of his 2013 election victory screaming “The Leadership will change! The Leadership will change!” After today’s revelation; is it now on like Donkey Kong?

Reports emerged this morning that Tony Abbott tells UK Tories he believes he can be PM again.  The article describes Abbott is aiming to channel a Rudd like comeback, with Senior Liberals stating he ‘has a good chance, as he is popular amongst the Liberal Membership.’

An interesting revelation though is if Abbott is successful, it appears Julie Bishop will be gone, with Abbott describing Bishop in ‘unflattering terms‘ to his colleagues abroad. The sniping already seems to have begun.  In traditional form, Abbott may as well start with sniping about a woman, before he warms up to sniping openly about Turnbull.  He does need to get back into practice.

If Abbott pulls this off, who will be his Deputy? Andrews? Perhaps. His loyalty to Abbott would make him a favourable candidate.

Will Barnaby be pushed to move over to make room for Christensen as leader of the Nats? In all fairness, it has been Christensen twisting Turnbull’s arm to get him to bow down to the conservatives and nationalists on key policy.

Will Peta Credlin return as Abbott’s adviser?

People may laugh at the thought of an Abbott return and laugh harder at an Abbott/Credlin return. However, Credlin is a highly intelligent woman and an exceptional strategist.  As Howard channelled Hanson’s policies to appease the Nationalists in the 90’s; don’t take it for granted Abbott would fail.

If Abbott follows Howard’s lead and channels the same type of Hanson rhetoric and policies, in the unique Abbottesque-style conservatives and nationalists love; it will be an entire new ball game for Labor, as Abbott will be in his element.

Abbott has the capacity to take over this space and make Hanson sound like an unnecessary annoying blip.  Sunrise will be paying to keep her OFF the show.

The other day I was watching Andrew Bolt’s thoughts on the Presidential debate and another video popped up after that. I watched it with interest. The topic: “Could Malcolm Turnbull be turning into a conservative?” In the video, Bolt noted that Turnbull may be reinventing himself as a ‘more media friendly Tony Abbott.’

 

The video goes on to discuss changes in Turnbull such as his stance on Daesh and his decision to take less Muslim refugees. Attacking Labor with some ‘rare passion’ on border security and an attack on Kevin Rudd, were duly noted by Bolt.

Bolt then goes on to point out how Turnbull has bowed to the pressure from conservatives on superannuation and same sex marriage.

Bolt even asks the viewer to ‘watch this transformation.’  I’ve pointed a similar thing out before. So it isn’t just because I’m a laborist cynical about the right; the same observations are coming from the most prominent conservative in the Australian media.

The reason for Turnbull’s transformation to conservatism? As Bolt rightly points out: “It is the conservatives who can kill his Prime Ministership.” 

Are there already whispers around the halls of Canberra? Is this transformation Turnbull readying himself for a full on challenge?  Have the monkey’s been released from their pod and are they ready to cause real havoc?

After a very strong theme from Bolt that Turnbull is a dud; could it be that Bolt is actually stirring Turnbull here?  Pointing out to him via this medium that there is a challenge coming and to save his leadership he needs to walk the righteous path to conservatism and beg for mercy at the feet of the likes of Christensen? It is like Bolt is pointing and laughing at Turnbull and letting him know, that he knows his game is up  (hahah I see you, you can’t fool me!)

Only those on the inside will know for sure and no doubt they will feed us snippets; but if this is finally starting, it is going to be glorious to watch.

For those who enjoy studies of organisational behaviour and leadership like myself, watching Turnbull’s increasingly obvious grapple with getting his surface acting under control as he continues to pretend to be an authentic leader, will be absolutely delicious once the pressure is really on!

In my last article, I suggested that Turnbull may be Australia’s first ever shape-shifting politician. With a challenge looming and now picked up by the media, it will be interesting to watch how rapid Turnbull’s shape shifting to fully fledged nationalist conservative will be. Is it time to start counting the number of flags at media stops yet? Perhaps.

Yep, it seems it is going to be on like Donkey Kong. Will Turnbull get barrelled? Or will he save the Princess and take the crown?

When Christensen Talks You Better Listen to Him

turnbull-christensen

I love music. I especially love Australian Music. First and foremost, I am a diehard Angels fan, but Midnight Oil are a very close second. Australian Music from the 1980s has had a huge impact on my views. The Song “When the Generals Talk” by Midnight Oil really encompasses the control of Turnbull by George Christensen.

The first verse:

Up there on the platform
He is speaking to the people
The people are responding
With clapping and a’cheering
But the meaning of the message
Not revealed to those assembled
They’re taken for a ride
Taken In his stride

This really speaks to Turnbull’s beginnings. It has been said that people were so desperate to get rid of Abbott, Ronald McDonald could have taken his place and he would have been met with clapping and a’cheering.

So there he was after knifing Abbott – up there up there up there on the Platform; and although the media gallery were not clapping and a’cheering, the reverberation could be heard in lounge rooms all over Australia.

In Turnbull’s victory speech after over-throwing Abbott, he said this:

As far as policy changes are concerned, let me just say this, it is not a question of leadership style.

The meaning of his message was not revealed to those assembled.

Turnbull did not specifically say there would be a change away from Abbott’s policies. This was an assumption by the people. The meaning of the message is clear today, that he would deliver the same harsh, punitive Abbott policies.  It actually has nothing to do with leadership style. The existing policies were important to Turnbull. He would continue on Abbott’s legacy. The nation just didn’t see it.

He then said:

There are few things more important in any organisation than its culture.

The meaning of this message was not revealed to those assembled.

However, if we really pick this apart the meaning is evident. Schein is the seminal author and most prominent author regarding organisational culture. Schein defines culture as:

“A pattern of shared basic assumptions learned by a group as it solved its problems of external adaptation and internal integration”

In his initial victory speech post Abbott, Turnbull never even gave a hint that the Liberal party would change trajectory. He never implied he would be more compassionate, consider fairness or move away from the free market radicalisation he so adores. If this is dissected, he was actually saying that he believed that he could lead and develop the existing culture (right wing conservatism) better than Abbott, who was ‘losing the flock’ so to speak.  This was his guarantee to those who put him there, he just didn’t let us know that.

Turnbull is possibly the first shape-shifter we have seen in Australian Politics. He is empty and devoid of any real values and has always moulded himself to whatever he feels will appeal to others, so he can sustain power. The talk of Turnbull being a ‘lefty’ and he should have joined Labor is absolute rubbish. That type of front merely suited his power-purpose at the time. He is an empty canvas willing to be painted by anyone who will feed his ego.  I often visualise that we will see Turnbull one day as the last chapters of Dorian Gray and his real hidden ugliness coming to life.

It is evident that he does not care what he stands for. As long as he is at the top.

In essence, the nation at that point in time were “Taken for a ride, Taken in his stride”

So that is where this links to the Chorus. With the right wing speaking to Turnbull.

When the Generals talk
You better listen to him
When the Generals talk
You better do what he say

We have seen time and time again the right wing of the party controlling Turnbull and George Christensen featuring quite prominently in this.

In the current state of affairs, I think it is quite feasible to say that George Christensen is the General at the moment in control of the Turnbull Government. I think it is fair to say that evidence so far does present itself as this:

When Christensen talks
Turnbull better listen to him
When Christensen talks
Turnbull better do what he say

So far Turnbull has done what Christensen wants on Marriage Equality, Superannuation and most recently the Backpacker Tax. All just in three months and we have three more years of this!

What we have essentially here is a leader cowering to a self-identified General within his own ranks. Australia has no leadership.

The second verse of the song:

There’s a rumor in the ranking
Someone’s talking insurrection
So the General has a purge
Cause he wants to win elections
With the certain satisfaction
That the people are appeased
Long live the revolution
The General’s very pleased

The rumour in the ranking, someone’s talking insurrection, defines the beginning of an era where I believe we will see Turnbull attuned to becoming more and more instep with the right wing Nationalists within the Coalition. The insurrection is Christensen fighting the Government on it’s own policies and demanding his own.

Queensland is an essential state for an election win and Christensen has embraced Hanson and has even pleaded with her not to run a candidate against him. Christensen also threatened to quit the Coalition over the Backpacker tax, which would have destabilised the Government and most importantly posed a huge threat to Turnbull’s leadership.  Therefore, with his love for One Nation and the real possibility he could defect, Christensen as ‘the General’ plays a huge part in controlling Turnbull.

So the General has a purge cos he wants to win elections – can be aligned with the Christensen’s insistence of the purging of any policies Malcolm Turnbull may personally like but Christensen (the General) does not. As mentioned previously, Christensen has also appealed to One Nation not to run a candidate in Dawson because “The views of One Nation to a degree are the views of many in the rank and file of the (Liberal National Party).’’ (The Australian). Turnbull really does not have a voice at the moment, Christensen sees himself as the voice of the rank and file and that voice is synonymous with One Nation. The threat of Christensen possibly defecting to One Nation, with others who may follow, is an extreme threat to Turnbull holding onto power.  Turnbull is a man putting his lust for power before the needs of the nation.

As a staunch Christian who flirted with Priesthood the same as Abbott and who has very strong Nationalist Anti-Muslim views, Christensen has been placed by the media as the controlling General of the current Government and rightly so.

With the certain satisfaction, That the people are appeased is about the right wing arm of the Coalition, especially the Queensland Nationalists who dream about running the country. They know that now Christensen has lead Turnbull on the path of upholding one man one woman marriage, a backflip on Superannuation, a backflip on the backpacker tax and now anything is possible. The right wing are appeased.

And the remainder of the song speaks for itself…..

Sitting on the fence both ears to the ground
The fat cats still push the thin cats around

This is not a slight on Christensen, but a metaphor for how he is literally pushing Turnbull around.

Turnbull has nowhere to go. He is trapped in an abyss drowning, desperately trying to find an air pocket. Turnbull’s Leadership is beyond the point of failure. He is a Fizzer. The King is dead.

Le Turnbull est mort, vive le Christensen!!

Long live the revolution
The General’s very pleased

Politics Driven Fear and the Pain it Brings

fear

People are expressing the increasing need to separate themselves and self-identify as situated above certain groups. They feel the need to paint others as lesser. This need is fed by fear driven politics and it is causing a loss of focus and it is causing a lot of pain.

Memes used to be funny. They were quirky, sometimes delightful, sometimes thought provoking and sometimes so funny one would cry from laughing. Now memes are more about social status. Sharing to place oneself in a better class.  A class above Jobseekers, Unionist, Muslims, Indigenous and LGBTI people who just want to get married amongst other groups.

Not an hour goes by on social media when I do not scroll by some defamatory post about Muslims (mostly aimed at degrading Muslim women) or how jobseekers are bludgers and should just get a job. Then I scroll by more shares about how unionists are self-serving, dodgy criminals. Then I come across those who belong to the special group who believe they are more Australian than the Indigenous Australians who were here in the first place.

Every day we scroll through the privileged Olympics, but there are no winners. Only losers.

The privileged I am talking about here, are not the Turnbull type of privileged; but so many every day Australians who share derogatory memes about various groups on a daily basis. These people come from all walks of life. They are not necessarily rich and they may be poor.  Wealth status is not the issue here.

These people are privileged by default, because they do not belong to the group that they and others scorn, ridicule, shame, shun, ostracise and stigmatise. It is like every share elevates one to being a gold card member of the ‘in-group.’

The problem is that the privileged do not see. They are blinded. They cannot calm their egos enough to bring themselves down to another level to try to understand the life of another.  They do not attempt to listen and empathise; they are on autopilot with judgement and ridicule.

Social media has made it so it is so much more important to hold dear to the opinion originally developed, than to attempt to understand an issue enough or look at it through different eyes; to recognise it is causing harm and change that opinion.

If we are complaining we haven’t progressed since Whitlam, it is largely our fault. It is our fault that there are so many people in pain, because every day I see stereotypes and stigmatisation shared around to approve and contribute to the infliction of pain on others.

We pit the oppressed against the oppressed when a meme is shared to give the homeless more than refugees. How does one judge the value of what assistance should be given? What drives us to choose between a person who has seen their entire family raped, tortured, slaughtered and burnt and fled their homeland or give to a person in desperate need of shelter, food, clothing and care? Do they both not deserve love, kindness and generosity?

What fear is within us that makes us share such memes as representations of our thoughts that we play judge and jury and decide who is not worthy of care and assistance? Is kindness such an ugly emotion that we reject it? Is it a fear that others may judge you as being too kind?

No, it is the fear driven politics that has led us to believe that a Government and its citizens cannot be generous enough to help both. It is the fear that if they do, we would somehow be worse off. It is fear driven politics that sees us remain silent on the generous assistance to the wealthy banks and business, whilst we verbally bash the poor.

We glorify a free-market-worker-hating-Government every time we share a meme about the ‘pathetic’ unemployed and how they are bludging and living off our taxes. We kick the worker every time we contemplate how unfair it may be that some  greedy workers are getting paid penalty rates and how terrible this is for business and their profits. Pass me a goddamn tissue.

The Abbott-Turnbull Government is the epitome of the greedy bourgeoisie and there are every day citizens working so hard to work with them and for them to shove the worker and those who are jobless down as far as they can be kicked.

We have come to a peculiar space in time where the plebs themselves are standing with the bourgeoisie. For if they do this, then being a pleb, is better than a prole or the “hoi polloi.”  The common worker, consumed by politics driven fear is tearing their own class apart.

“Workers United will never be defeated….” Go on…say it….it means something real.

What is the fear that drives us to glorify a Government who insists that the unemployed (human beings in case you have forgotten) should starve for a six months, six weeks and now a month?

Is it a fear that we may lose something if jobseekers are offered assistance from the public purse?

Is it a fear that we may just not have one more submarine to build if a jobseeker can live on real meat instead of noodles?  Is it a genuine fear that Gina Rinehart might have less billions and that would somehow hurt us?

Is it the fear that we may confront the uncomfortable truth that our judgements reinforce the message that turning to sexual favours and even suicide is a reality for these individuals who are finding it so hard to survive in a world of  not just poverty, but scorn and condemnation?

Above all else, it is the politics driven fear that those living in poverty are stealing something from us. It is the fear that they are getting something for less effort than us. It is the fear reinforced by the LNP message that there will be fewer hospitals, fewer schools and fewer jobs if we treat the unemployed with dignity. It is the politics driven fear that assisting jobseekers will result in less jobs; because that means we could one day be them.

There is no point attempting to provide input of an opposing view.  Try to tell someone to be angry at the Government for not creating jobs, instead of blaming the unemployed. It is an interesting exercise. Contrition is not an emotion that we appear to embrace as Australian citizens.

This politics driven fear is also blinding us. We are losing focus. The fear of people from different lands and different religions is so critical we cannot take our eyes off them for a second. It is vital to share, share, share anything we can find, made up or not on the internet. It is critical to continuously reinforce this fear as legitimate and worthy to defend.

It is more important to have conversations on social media that can last days about how the viewpoint of one radical Muslim is the view of all Muslims; than to really engage thoughtfully and productively about how we can lift good Australian people out of poverty.

It is more important to remain silent on humanitarian issues,and use our fear of a religion we don’t understand as an excuse, because if we really stop and think about it; we may realise we are actually being inhumane and that is an ugly truth to face.

What fear is driving us that we are content with leaving other human beings in indefinite detention?  Indefinite – without a hope, never to be released – just in case the key word has not hit you yet. Murderers get less.

The irrational politics driven fear that unionists are doing less work than the regular taxpayer for a greater gain, is more important to hold onto, than to stand with unionists who have given us the work-life we enjoy today and that they continuously fight for. This fear culminates and makes us forget that we once stood with pride and dignity and shed tears to remember those workers who were jailed, murdered, maimed, starved and broken just so our labour is recognised as a valuable input in exchange for fair wages and safe conditions.  How soon we have forgotten the pain of John Howard’s Work Choices?

Every single time we share memes, or have conversations that reinforce the politics driven fear espoused by the Liberals and the Nationals, and now the more right wing parties; we are condoning the infliction of pain on the vulnerable.

We have a responsibility to stop and take stock that this rhetoric that is being whipped into a frenzy day after day has gone too far.  It is time to sit up and take notice, that by doing this, we are hurting the people we talk about helping in other conversations we have

It is time to stop and think about those on the right who say they have the solutions, actually don’t.  It is time to really listen to their proposals. Tearing down the worker and punishing those who are unemployed due to Government failure is not a solution. Dividing people by race or religion is not a solution. Clinging to the harmful measures that create more poverty and more divisiveness are not solutions. Why this is not being realised is the real phenomenon.

Choose Populism if you want a Rock Star. Reject it if you want a leader.

Some appear to be genuinely good people. However, politics driven fear is driving some people to throw brimstone and fire at those they want to help, instead of at the Government and other right wing parties who are the central cause of the problem.

It is time to take a stand to honour those and respect those who cannot, to challenge the Turnbull Government and others every time they reinforce the degradation of a vulnerable group.

It is time to stop sharing derogatory memes and start having real conversations about how we can build a nation, and not share our acceptance of helping the Liberals and others on the right tear it down.

It is time to stop dividing and start uniting. It is time for a hand up and to bring back the fair go.

It is time for the mate-ship and camaraderie we apparently as Australians represent.

I miss that. Do you?

Turnbull – A Friendly Mushroom and a Destructive Seagull

seagull

“You’re not saying anything Tony” a famous statement by a journalist in an interview with Tony Abbott, really summed up the former Prime Minister’s inability to defend his bad decisions, words or actions.

“You’re not doing anything Malcolm” is the thought that appears to be in almost everyone’s mind summing up what they think of Turnbull’s Prime Ministership and leadership qualities.

When people start reminiscing that Tony Abbott should come back, then that is a sure sign that Turnbull’s leadership has failed miserably.

The really sad thing about all of this, is Turnbull promotes himself as a great leader through his self-portrayal of positive leadership archetypes. It is almost as if he has a little read of popular coffee-top books about ‘great leadership’ and then pops up in public and acts out his newly found knowledge about ‘what makes a good leader.’  I’m not sure about you, but he always looks so fake and staged to me. It is my biggest annoyance with his ‘style.’

He has promoted himself as “The Change Catalyst” when he removed Tony Abbott and promised great change.  He has promoted himself as “The Communicator” promising everyone with pomp and splendour and great verbosity, that he has the communication style that appeals to those within the party, has great appeal with the public and the communication style desperately needed to discuss important issues with all the friends and best friends and bestest of best good friends in other countries.

Most famously, he has promoted himself as “The Innovator”.  He really got into character for this one. This one was like a full dress rehearsal – Apple Watch and reeling off a full gamut of tech apps. He was very careful not to include apps like Tinder, to give the impression he just ‘wasn’t just rattling off apps’, but he was an active app user. However it seems that everyone is now swiping left. Sorry Malcolm.

The disconnect between how Turnbull displays himself as a positive leadership archetype, to the negative leadership archetype he actually delivers, appears to be vast.

Turnbull in my view is a collective of negative leadership archetypes which are used to symbolise toxic, bad, poor, weak or useless leaders.

Turnbull’s leadership behaviour can be summed up as collective of the negative leadership archetypes of  “Friendly, mushroom, destructive seagull” leader. His leadership is so poor, that it is difficult to pick just one which describes his current failure in leading this country forward and providing good Governance.

The Friendly Leader

Although this sounds like a positive trait, this negative leadership trait is the most discussed amongst the media and other politicians. The Friendly leader is too scared to make waves with others he disagrees with, out of fear of being derailed or losing power. This leader enables subordinates to hold power over the leader and this leads to poor decision making through trying to keep the most powerful subordinates onside.  These poor decisions include unpopular decisions for the majority but favoured by the sub-group ‘in power.’ The leader ends up losing control and powerful subordinates end up being the defacto leaders. When people start asking “Who is really running the country?” it is almost certain a weak leader has enabled defacto leadership to occur.

The Mushroom Leader

The mushroom leader kind of fits Turnbull, but also kind of doesn’t.  The Mushroom leader effectively “keeps everyone in the dark and feeds them a load of manure.”

The problem is with a mushroom leader they have an agenda, but don’t communicate it to anyone else. So, what happens is only the leader knows what he wants to achieve, but everyone else….does not! This creates a lot of confusion and disarray (Pyne! Pyne! lock the bloody doors mate!)

A good example of this is the GST debate, where it was on the table, not taken completely off the table, back on the table, a thought bubble to gauge public opinion, and then Turnbull announced he had killed his own idea, because it was umm…not a good idea? Confused? I bow before Mark Kenny  who had the ability to be able to describe this debacle with a straight face.

The conundrum of using the definition of a Mushroom Leader, is does Turnbull have an agenda he isn’t sharing; or does he have no agenda at all?  Regardless, would there be consensus that we are being kept in the dark and being fed a load of manure? I would personally put my hand up for that one.

The Destructive Leader

Turnbull is more a passive-destructive leader in the way he has a clear absence of any agenda, be it the progressive agenda he pretended to promote prior to becoming PM (that is a story for another day) or a conservative agenda many in his own party value. The negative trait of insincerity speaks to this. Destructive leaders are about short term gain, usually to their own benefit.  They are driven by egoism and ‘the desire to take their rightful place.’  It doesn’t matter that they don’t know what to do when they get there, they will either bully or blame others and manage from a distance and avoid responsibility. A destructive leader does not understand nor champion the strong values of those he leads and is a danger to ‘destroying the brand.’  We are hearing strong arguments from those who truly value conservatism on this as Turnbull’s biggest failure.   We are hearing strong arguments from the general public, on his inability to champion what Australians see as important issues to champion, through his complete lack of vision and agenda.

Unless of course, I am wrong and the discussion of favourite TV shows in the Senate today are indeed matters of serious importance and this was not  due to the lack of matters of serious importance to debate!

The Seagull

The most famous of all negative leadership archetypes is the beloved Seagull.  The Seagull is defined as the leader who ‘flies in, craps all over everything and takes off.”  The interesting thing about the Seagull as related to describing Turnbull’s leadership is:

How do they fly in?
They normally appear (sometimes out of nowhere) puffed up, brave, resilient and knowledgeable in times of trouble, ‘as the hero who can save the company – or in this case – the country.’

How do they communicate?
Seagulls make a lot of noise. Normally about themselves to deflect any attention away that they have no idea what they are doing. They need constant attention and spotlight to talk about themselves, so they appear important. Squawk. Squawk. Innovation. Squaarrk. (Sorry Mr. Pyne, but Mr. Turnbull wants us to believe he is the real fixer!)

How do they relate to others?
The Seagull (when it is impossible to talk about himself to avoid responsibility) blames others. They will target others as a source of their anger and the Seagull never accepts blame.   It is unusual in politics for leaders to blame their own party members, so deflection of blame is usually, on other parties, members of other parties, or even the Media (Yes ABC – Sorry Turnbull had to cut all that money from you, but….Squark!)

Sometimes they will have hysterical fits and take things away from others (Sorry Scott, but Malcolm couldn’t talk about himself to get out of this one, so he just had to take that GST play thingy off you!)

When do they fly off?
I don’t have a crystal ball on this one, but to stay true to the Seagull form, Turnbull simply cannot be deposed. The genuine style of the Seagull is he would need to take a much more glorious job offer of much more importance (global position? Innovative start up which will be the cure all unemployment in Australia?), where his skills are in great need to solve greater problems than the ones he has offered to solve now. In true form he would tearfully wave goodbye to all those who adore him, with a great big long speech about himself and take off.

Once Turnbull takes off, the questions are:

What mess will he leave behind?  and…

Who will fly in to steal your chips at the beach? Abbott, Morrison or maybe Bishop?

Only time will tell.

What have you really noticed about Bill Shorten?

labor-put-people-first

With so much of the same old, same old meeps about the Lib-Lab monopoly/duopoly and the clatter of mismatched voices who want something new, but can’t articulate what that is; the question is “have you actually taken the time to notice what Bill Shorten is about?”

Is it possible that for some, the inner voices of cynicism and pessimism developed by participating in the mob culture of screaming against a two party system, automatically disregard even the most progressive and positive reforms from Shorten’s Labor, just because they are a major party?

Is it possible that some are so fixated on the decisions of leaders of the past they did not agree with? Is it possible that due to this, they are not yet ready to notice Labor in 2016 and view them with a clean slate? Turnbull has been afforded this opportunity, but I do not notice this being extended to Shorten.

Is it possible that this is just a rant by someone who is dedicated to the Labor cause? Possibly. That is for the reader to decide.

However, all I can talk about is what I have noticed from my own perspective. So I will outline a few things that really strike me about Bill Shorten and his leadership and the direction he has been taking Labor thus far.

I will do this as counters to two distinct areas of the narrative I have noticed in the context of myth breaking,  of “Both Parties are exactly the same” as I see it – “Underpinning Values” and “They are selfish and out of touch and just don’t listen.”

 

Myth: Both the Major Parties are exactly the Same

Underpinning Values

I personally always find this statement extremely confusing. I will begin with the underpinning values of both parties, as I see them.

Liberals – The Liberal’s values are underpinned by individualism. In terms of public social policy, they believe that everyone is born equal and it is up to the individual’s inherent propensity to ‘make it in life. They believe, this in turn this develops the country as a strong and prosperous country.  Liberals believe in small Government intervention as they see Government intervention makes individuals lazy and reliant on Government and this weakens society.

Government intervention is usually paternalistic with punitive measurements seen as a guiding hand, that is required to motivate those without an internal propensity for self-development.

They believe in low taxes and favour a user pays system instead of major investment in Government funded services. The Liberals are semi anti socialism of the public sector and favour privatisation and outsourcing of the public sector where they can achieve it.

They believe in the free market and the balance of power in favour of the employer is the best result for the economy.  Liberals have a disregard for the value of a person’s labour and believe low wages and low cost to employers create more jobs and are drivers for the economy.

Liberals do not promote Government intervention in high unemployment as a large surplus labour force drives wages down, as opposed to a tight competitive labour force.

The Liberals believe in maintaining the status quo through conservative and nationalist values.

Malcolm Turnbull and his predecessor Tony Abbott, continue to champion their commitment to these values. Abbott being more vocal and committed to these values than Turnbull, who is committed to these values, but remains largely silent on the intent or values which underpin his policies. 

Malcolm Turnbull’s reason for going to a double dissolution election, was a policy which has star chamber type elements and strips away the civil rights of the worker, including apprentices. He saw this as so important, so vital to the progress of the nation.

Malcolm Turnbull continues with Tony Abbott’s abhorrent budget cut regime progressed and championed by Turnbull, with all the pomp and ceremony of an entitled King.

Labor –  Labor’s values are underpinned by a form of collectivism and solidarity. Their valued are based on democratic socialism, egalitarianism and laborism. Labor recognises that not everyone is born equal and that it is the Government’s duty to intervene and provide assistance to those who need a hand up to achieve equality. They believe in a Welfare State to provide protection and social and economic benefits to the nation’s citizens.

Government intervention is incentive based and with a propensity towards proactive rather than reactive measures. (Such as investment in preventative health measures and needs based education funding).

Labor believe in the socialism of the public sector as opposed to the privatisation of the public sector to provide the best services to the community.  They believe the right assistance can develop individuals into strong, productive citizens, able to engage in the community, and break down the hindrances that were preventing them from doing so. Labor’s values consider external factors to the individual’s inherent drive and personality, and do not seek to place blame on the individual, but seek to address these hindrances and strive to provide an egalitarian society.

Labor’s overarching philosophy is Laborism, which values the labour of the working class. Laborists believe in the protection of safe work, rights and wages. They also believe this drives productivity and keeps the economy strong. They strongly believe that everyone should have equal access to work and a fair days work for a fair days pay. They believe in the Fair Go for workers.

Laborism is consistent with Government intervention in job creation projects to bring equal opportunity to everyone through the ability to access secure work, self development and career progression. They strive for low unemployment as this also creates a better standard of living though higher productivity and higher wages.

Labor believes in collective progressive policy which seeks to challenge the norms of the status quo. They are the leaders of every major positive reform contemporary Australia has ever had, such as: Medicare, Superannuation, Collective Bargaining, Fair Work Tribunal, Gonski, NDIS and NBN  

Under Bill Shorten’s leadership, his message is clear that he has returned to the true Labor values ingrained in Laborism which distinguishes Labor as a defiant opposition to the conservative alternative.

His very vocally championing egalitarian values and laborism as progressive solutions. His rejection of the increase to a GST as it would hurt the most vulnerable, his damning rejection of changes to Medicare and tenacious protection of our universal health system, his rejection of the removal of penalty rates and his submission to the Fair Work Commission to protect same.  His endless counter attacks on the Government to protect pensioners and families from harmful cuts and to stop the Liberals making the unemployed starve for six months!

His policy for protecting workers from underpayment, from exploitation and ensuring clarity of the term “Internship” to separate this from an essential learning or training activity from one of exploitation of the working class. In addition to policy for mandatory quotas of apprentices in Federally funded projects and investment in upskilling and training in new technologies.  There many more examples of this differentiation between Shorten’s Labor and Turnbull’s Liberals, and they can be found here.

Both parties are selfish and out of touch – they just don’t listen to the people

Liberals – The Liberals view of “the people” traditionally focuses big business as centric to their policy development.  A key focus of economic policy management is built around the rhetoric of welfare bashing of ‘lifters and leaners’ or ‘taxed and taxed nots’ so cuts will be met with little resistance from the public, through the stigmatisation of this group.

Engagement with the “community” is often restricted to attendance at high end functions, with high end priced tickets for high end donations.

As described in the section above, the attacks on families, welfare recipients and workers are a testament to how out of touch the Liberals are with the every day Australian and their families.

Turnbull’s “look at moi” empty verbose rhetoric, where he talks at people and not to them. An example of this is, his common phrase of, “We simply must remember….” in my view is a clear indication of class separation where the ‘people (a forgetful and unintelligent lot) need a gentle paternalistic guiding hand from those who need to remind us of our place.”

Labor – The Labor movement invests in grass roots activism. Under Bill Shorten engaging with the public has been a central focus.  Community Cabinets in QLD were introduced by the Labor Government and Shorten’s personal style is community forums, where he openly takes questions from the floor and answers questions in an open public forum.

Shorten has done about 150 public forums in the last 18 months and numerous live Facebook feeds direct to anyone on Facebook who cares to subscribe to his live posts.

As for if Shorten is in touch with the people. I will leave you with his budget reply address for you to decide.

My personal view on Shorten

I have had the personal opportunity to attend one of Bill Shorten’s community forums.

In my own experience, he fielded a huge variety of random questions and answered them in detail. He was relaxed and open and quite focused on the night being about the people and their questions and not about us listening to a speech about him or Labor.

I had the opportunity to ask a question.  He approached me after the event and asked me to write to him in more detail with my concerns and expressed genuine interest in speaking to me further. I saw him openly engaging with others with genuine interest as well after the event.

He did not have to do that. He did not have to seek me or others out. He had enough people around him to purposely avoid me, if he wanted to. It speaks to his genuineness as a leader. I wish everyone could meet Bill Shorten because until you meet him up close and speak with him, you don’t realise that much of the negative media portrayal and other people’s negative perceptions are so very wrong.

I have not been truly excited about the vision of a Labor leader in a long time, but I truly connect with Shorten’s vision and leadership. In my opinion Shorten is the real deal. His ability to remember names, faces and detail of questions at community forums is phenomenal. You kind of need to see this in action. He is a highly intelligent man with great compassion and a great passion for people and their concerns, which is truly visible at a community forum.

I truly believe he will win the next election outright and will go down as one of our greatest Prime Ministers in our history.  I have 100% faith in him and the direction he is taking Labor.

Conclusion

It is such a shame that for many engaged in ‘left politics social media commentary’ disregard the shift in direction under Shorten’s leadership.  It is disappointing that those on the ‘left’ who oppose Shorten’s Labor discuss him as if he has evolved from some 1980’s mindset where neo-Liberalism was forging it’s place across the world and judge him on the decisions made by former leaders, which really should be critiqued in the context of that time. It is also frustrating that the progressive policies and Laborist solutions he is putting forward, fall on already made up closed minds and deaf ears.

Whether you think post is just a rant from a someone who is dedicated to the Labor cause, or a genuine attempt to implore people aligned with the left to view Shorten and his modern Labor party with a fresh open mind and really critique his current direction which is ingrained in the values of laborism and truly engaging with the the people. As well as a plea to not to continue to compare and contrast with the decisions and leadership of Hawke, Keating, Rudd or Gillard, which many say they have issues with, then that is up to the reader to decide.

Labor’s policies will not suit everyone, nor are they perfect with no room for improvement. However, it is very, very evident that Bill Shorten making a dedicated effort to meet as many people across as many communities as possible and he is really listening and is open to positive and progressive ideas for change and he has already led substantial policy development as a testament to this shift to the left and laborism.

For those who genuinely and fiercely arguing to topple both of the major parties from power and who are insisting Shorten does not have ‘Leftist’ values –  have you really truly taken the time to noticed what Bill Shorten is about?

Cashless Welfare – Enough is Enough!

basics-card

Yesterday I watched Bill Shorten’s address on the McKell Institutes Report Choosing Opportunity where he spoke passionately about equality and a fair go. However, to achieve real opportunity, the first thing we must acknowledge is that stigma and discrimination are not conducive to equal opportunity.

Income Management, Cashless Welfare and Basics Card all have the same aim.  The aim is a paternalistic approach of a ‘guiding hand’ to set those unfortunate enough not to have a job on the path to ‘wholeness.’

The aim of income management is to enforce a patronising approach which places the burden of shame and stigma on the unemployed, because the Government cannot be bothered to engage in job creation; because oh! that’s right, “the market will sort it all out.” Bullocks!

The aim of income management is to inconvenience, stigmatise, and label the unemployed as ‘others’ who are not part of the ‘normals’ in society.

The aim of income management is to conduct surveillance of the unemployed (Dee, 2013).

The aim is to extend a measure that was originally aimed at reducing alcohol abuse and child abuse in remote communities and now has extended to so many.  The current and previous Governments have placed control measures on those who do not need controlling. That is not the “Fair Go” Australians long to return to.

With the NT having more than four times the number of all the other income management sites combined, it really begs the question if this measure is indeed racist and the extension of this measure is to appear ‘not racist!’

The McKell Institute explains three types of welfare models in their report:

“The study identified three main forms of welfare state: the ‘liberal welfare regime,’ which emphasised market efficiencies and demonstrated limited government interventions; the ‘corporatist regime’ which is committed to preserving the traditional family, and invest in social insurance programs that encourage motherhood and provide benefits that encourage mothers to return to work; and finally the ‘social democrat’ model which pursues equality.

If the underpinning construct of Bill Shorten’s speech and the McKell Institute’s report is equality; then income management simply must be high on the list to be abolished.

With donations reform and perks for politicians in a huge big glaring spotlight; Australians should be rising up and screaming about situations such as the excerpt below, instead of getting reeled into the agenda set by the media.  I’ve seen an overwhelming amount of people absolutely fixated on the Dastyari saga and counter-attacking with dodginess from the Liberals. Meanwhile, in the land of cashless welfare, people can eat plastic or starve!

cashless-welfare

It is time for change. It is time to stand up now. It is time to stand up for the jobless, the homeless, the disadvantaged, and the disabled, who have their income managed by the Government.  These are the people who matter.  These people. The innocent, the vulnerable, the labelled and stigmatised.

Enough is enough.  If you truly believe in a Fair Go. If you truly believe the Fair Go underpins everything we believe as Australians, please write a letter to the following insisting on the abolition of mandatory income management for welfare recipients in Australia.

Minister for Social Services
The Hon Christian Porter MP

Shadow Minister for Families and Social Services
Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Members representing your electorate
Your local MP

Senators in your state
Senators

Enough is enough!

 

Dee, M 2013, ‘Welfare Surveillance, Income Management and New Paternalism in Australia’, Surveillance & Society, 11, 3, pp. 272-286.

 

Innovative PM? No Malcolm! You’re doing it wrong!

statusquo-300x225

Source: georgecouros.ca/

A year ago, Malcolm Turnbull downloaded Bruno Mar’s “The Lazy Song” and it has been on repeat for the past year. The first line of the song “Today I don’t feel like doing anything” completely epitomises every single day of the Turnbull Government.

The media also seems to be stuck in a cycle of just accepting this as the new norm (except for Andrew Bolt who has really pushed the point on this, with an interview with Peta Credlin this week.)

The problem for the innovative Prime Minister is although he promised new ideas and an innovative Government; his leadership behaviour is actually not conducive to innovative leadership.

Innovative leaders need to encompass idea generation, idea evaluation and idea implementation. Their personal qualities include an ability to continuously generate ideas, or the ability to lead people to generate ideas. Fearlessness in challenging the status quo, taking risks. The ability to know when to cancel projects and change course (the opposite to escalation of commitment!) and the ability to lead a collegial and cohesive team.

Turnbull has two main issues to address; or he will be playing “The Lazy Song” for another 365 days.

Escalation of Commitment

Escalation of commitment is when an individual or group persists on the same trajectory, even if they know it will result in a poor outcome. Normally, substantial time or money has been invested and this is the impetus for maintaining that commitment.

What has Turnbull invested? He has invested his entire career to get to this point. His investment success was that he was given the authority to over-throw a sitting Prime Minister. His other investment is that he guaranteed would be much more popular than Tony Abbott. Although Turnbull has won the 2016 election in his own right; one would be hard pressed to argue that Turnbull won the election as the “Popular Prime Minister.”

As onlookers, we will never be privy to the in-party investment Turnbull has made, until the ABC produces the sequel to “The Killing Season.” However, it seems clear that the investment was made to gain the support of the conservative right aligned faction of his party.

The leather jacket wearing progressive, forward thinking Turnbull he displayed to the public, as the ‘would be Prime Minister’ is in stark contrast to the conservative and dull Turnbull who is now the current Prime Minister.

Escalation of commitment can explain why although there is public opposition and a huge drop in his popularity, he is committed to maintaining Abbott’s:

1. A commitment to a Plebiscite on Marriage Equality

2. A commitment to stigmatising the poor by targeting welfare recipients as a budget savings measure, instead of treating them as human beings.

3. A commitment to offshore processing and a high level of secrecy surrounding asylum seekers

4. A commitment to supporting climate change deniers and climate change measures that are mere tokenism and not proactive.

5. A commitment to attack dog style politics due to the lack of policy ideas.

6. A commitment to blaming absolutely everyone else but his own leadership

7. A commitment to treating Gonski as a joke

8. A commitment to destroying our universal health care system – Medicare

9. A commitment to union bashing and disrespecting the worker

10. A commitment to the absence of Government intervention and lack of job creation.

Leaders who fear change

The conundrum is, is Turnbull’s escalation of commitment a true escalation of commitment due to his personal investment to secure the top position or is it something intrinsic within him as a leader? Could Turnbull actually have every leader’s behavioural nightmare? Is he a leader who fears change?

One of the most important areas to lead change especially as an innovative change leader is one needs to be transparent and open and honest about who they are, and accept criticism and reflect on their own personal development.

Turnbull does appear to use a strong avoidance technique for any of this to occur. He has not been open and honest about why his focus has shifted from progressive to conservative and he does not accept criticism or (I can assume as an observer) he does not reflect on his own personal development, as the signature ‘blame everyone else’ behaviour has not changed.

Around this time last year, Turnbull promised the voting public that he would be the innovation prime minister.

The difficulty for Turnbull with innovation is innovation requires constant evolving change and continuous improvement. Maintaining the status quo through escalation of commitment kills off innovation faster than one can say “Betacord.”

For a Prime Minister to become the innovative Prime Minister he promised he would be, Turnbull needs to adopt a transformational leadership style. To do this, it is necessary to do a number of things and I’ll use this next section as a pictorial to show how things have gone wrong:

 

1. Adopt a new unique leadership perspective. Don’t copy old leadership styles.

No Malcolm! You are doing it wrong!

abbott mask

 

2. Develop a Culture of Trust – Have those you lead trust you and share your vision

No Malcolm! You are doing it wrong!

Bernardi 18c

Source: Crikey

 3. Develop Formal Solutions. Generate new ideas. Think outside the box. Take risks.

No Malcolm! You are doing it wrong

Credlin ideas

Source: Fairfax

 

4. Challenge old ideas and adopt new thinking

No Malcolm! You are doing it wrong!

cartoons abbott

Source: Eureka Street / Kudelka Cartoons / Loon Pond / Timstoons

 

5. Take responsibility – Reflect on your behaviour and do not blame others

No Malcolm! You are doing it wrong!

blame labor

Source: @SirThomasWynne

 

6.  Become a failure-tolerant leader. Re-examine, Re-invigorate and Renew

No Malcolm! You are doing it wrong!

turnbull sulking

Source: The Guardian/Australia

 

I’ll leave you with some words of wisdom from a true great leader.  May his words inspire Mr. Turnbull to have his first original idea.

pat dodson

The Taxed Nots. Who are they and what should we do with them?

bludgerWhen the Government chooses not to participate in active job creation, the expectation on people seeking employment to engage in active participation welfare programs, is unfair, burdensome, stigmatising, demoralising and counterproductive.  Mutual Obligation under the Keating Government was developed based on the notion that the Government would also commit to job creation and increase vocational training. This is not the case today, nor has it been for some time.  The Government is not investing in job creation and vocational education has been largely privatised and is predominantly inaccessible and unaffordable to those who most need it.  Active Participation welfare programs are punitive and are underpinned by the assumption that the jobseeker is lazy and needs motivation by a paternalistic guiding hand to participate in society as a full human being. It is time for a new narrative and a new solution.

The latest narrative – The Taxed Nots. Who are they?

They are bludgers, rorters, welfare cheats, the undeserving poor, the drug addled, leaners not lifters, people with their hand out, a hindrance to the ‘national interest’, people who don’t try hard enough, job refusers, taking loans from the tax-payer, won’t get off the couch, lack participation, who go from the school gate to Centrelink’s front door, self-entitled, sitting at home playing X-box and eating cheezels and now the latest….The Taxed Nots.

The Taxed Nots – what should we do with them?

We need to drug test them, force them into unpaid labour, manage their income, give them a card to label them and not trust them with cash, push the welfare cops after them, get them moving, force them to live 45% below the poverty line and if they are poverty line newbie, we should starve them for six months whist the Government simultaneously breaches its human rights obligations. .

With the exception of John Howard’s gem, “the undeserving poor” and Amanda Vanstone’s “Don’t try hard enough and refuse jobs”, these are just some of the labels the Australian Liberal Party has given to those seeking employment and just some of the ‘solutions’ to assist the jobless to find employment, since 2013. Pretty confronting when it is wrapped up in neat little paragraphs, isn’t it?

The dehumanisation and the stigmatisation of those seeking employment must cease immediately and a new narrative and new solutions need to start today.

A little history

Mutual obligation has always existed within the jobseeker framework.  However, mutual obligation penalties were discretionary and mostly non financial (ie write on your dole form where you looked for work this week).  However, postponement of payment could occur for up to two weeks.  This was dropped in 1984 as it was causing hardship, but reinstated in 1987.  The widening of activity based breaches will be discussed in the next section. Active Labor Market Participation (ALMP) programs were the shift towards paternalistic and punitive measures and financial penalties for the unemployed.

Active Labor Market Participation (ALMP) programs commenced under the Hawke/Keating Government. The  original intention of the ALMP programs was to manage retraining and to assist new workers to move across industries in the new globalisation and at a time where long time unemployment was the new reality and had shifted from a long period of relatively low unemployment.

Zigarus ¹ (2004) sums up another driver as, “In essence, this approach holds that the unemployment rate is influenced by how actively the unemployed search for work. The more effort people make to find jobs, and the less choosy they are about what jobs they will take, the lower the overall unemployment.”

Regardless of how well intentioned ALMP programs were when they were introduced, the very essence of these programs are driven by the notion that the unemployed do not have the same desires to achieve a full life as the employed do and they are inherently lazy.   Paternalistic and punitive welfare measures are also the antecedents to enabling the stigmatisation of the unemployed. The era of the ALMP programs were the beginning of segregating the unemployed as separate citizens from those who are employed – the bludgers and the workers. Even within the cohort of the unemployed, the narrative was able to change from discussing welfare as a necessity for those out of work to those who deserved assistance and those who did not.  Those who needed a hand up and those who just wanted a hand out.  This narrative continues today and it has become increasingly more comfortable for politicians to use this stigmatising rhetoric with conviction.

Punitive measures intensified under Howard

The shift in ALMP programs under John Howard introduced the concept that unpaid labour should be imposed on those seeking employment. Howard’s notion was to deserve a hand out, the recipient must give back to the community.  This adds the public’s scrutinisation of the intentions of the jobseeker to the mix.  Work for the Dole and similar unpaid labour programs normalised the perception that jobseekers had to be forced to work, as they were not motivated to do so; and if they were working as unpaid labour, this would be the impetus to force them to look for paid labour.

Financial Penalties under Howard

The Howard Government dismantled Keating’s Working Nation (job creation, increased Labor market programs and training and mutual obligation, including breaching penalties). Financial penalties increased and the activity for which you could be breached significantly widened under the Liberals “Australian’s Working Together” policy.  The other notable shift from Keating’s policy to Howard’s policy was that financial penalties moved from discretionary to enforced by legislation and contractual obligation on the jobsearch provider.

The initial extremely punitive measures are outlined by Eardley et. al ² as:

The initial legislation proposed to strengthen breaching arrangements by extending the activity test non-payment period to six weeks for the first breach and 13 weeks for all subsequent breaches, while all administrative breaches would incur rate reductions of 25 per cent for eight weeks.

Welfare groups successfully lobbied and this initial bill was defeated in Parliament. However, less severe penalties were adopted.  This included an 8 week breach of 100% loss of benefit after the third breach. The Abbott Government put up a bill in 2013 which sought to exempt new Newstart recipients from payment for six months. This has been defeated/taken off the table and a bill for Newstart recipients to be exempt for six weeks, is still progressing though today’s parliament.  This shows the long standing determination of the Liberal Party to impose harsh and extreme measures on the unemployed.  This also shows the shift from welfare as a human right to dignity, to one of targeting the disadvantaged as a means for budget savings.

Other notable changes

Structural changes jobseeker programs to note (but not limited to) are:

  • The inclusion and shift from other benefits to jobseeker associated benefits (Single Parents and Disability recipients shifted to jobsearch programs.)
  • The increase in mutual obligation age brackets from 17-18 years, to 18-30 years to 18-49 years and now 18-60 years and over
  • Intensive case management
  • Enforceable preparing for work agreements
  • Increased obligation to search for more jobs, or a breach is imposed
  • The length of time travelled to search for job, or a breach is imposed
  • Relocation expectation
  • Implementation of Government approved doctors only (not jobseeker’s own doctor)
  • Shift to a jobsearch payment from Disability pension if you can work 30 hours per week down to 15 hours per week
  • Shift from Government provider to private contracted providers
  • Obligation to jobsearch if not employed for more than 70 hours per fortnight  (jobsearch is a requirement although you have gained employment)
  • Income Management (Basic’s Card – non-cash component imposed)

The jobseeker’s positioning in Australia.

The reality for the availability of a jobseeker securing work in Australia, is that there are 19 jobseekers for every job available in Australia (as of May, 2016).  That is however, not a true figure, as it needs to be considered that not all jobseekers are equally qualified for all jobs. Therefore, for some the jobseeker to job vacancy ratio is much higher.  In addition, vocational education and training has become less available and less accessible for those seeking employment; particularly in lower income brackets. Changes to eligibility for vocational training (ie The Certificate 3 Guarantee is for any eligible Queensland resident who does not already hold and is not currently enrolled into, a post-school Certificate III or higher qualification.) Therefore if you hold a cert III in one vocational area, for example beauty, you are not eligible to undertake vocational training at cert 3 level in business administration.

In addition, specialised services such as JPET (Job placement, employment and training for homeless and disadvantaged young people) have ceased and are now replaced with a one-stop-shop model of ‘streams’ of unemployment.

The Liberal Party’s small government, free market mindset, is an inherent propensity to shy away from job creation and allow the free market to ‘sort out the jobs’, rather than the socialisation of job creation projects.  Government’s who do not commit to job creation are not complying with their mutual obligation to the nation’s unemployed citizens.  The onus is completely on the jobseeker and the framework within the jobseeker must search for jobs, is unrealistic; secure full time jobs and skills development get increasingly more difficult to obtain.

It should also be noted that barriers to employment and the adverse outcomes of financial and other punitive measures are more severe for (but not limited to); Indigenous Australians, single parents, jobseekers with a disability, youth and homeless and disadvantaged jobseekers.

The new narrative and the new solutions

To achieve the re-humanisation and the de-stigmatisation of those seeking employment; the jobsearch model must shift to a jobseeker-centric framework and away from a budget savings measures framework where jobseekers are currently seen as a strain on the public purse and a dehumanised as a target for savings measures.

Therefore, the jobsearch framework needs to shift from one of mandatory participation to one of voluntary participation.

Jobseekers need to be allowed free agency to participate freely in jobsearch activities.  To do this, the narrative needs to shift from the stigmatising rhetoric outlined in the beginning of this article to a more supportive narrative. Jobseekers should be given the support and recognition by Government that they have the same hopes, dreams and aims as the employed and are actively participating in job search to improve their life circumstance.

This then shifts the narrative away from the current underpinning assumption that jobseekers need a paternalistic guiding hand to motivate them; to a narrative that has the underpinning assumption that jobseekers are intrinsically motivated to seek employment.

This then shifts the onus for outcomes from the jobseeker and the public expectation to punish them for non-achievement to the public expectation that the Government of the day has an obligation to perform and enable an environment conducive to an expectation that secure employment can be achieved.

This should put pressure on the Government of the day to engage fully in job creation projects and the public less likely to accept the promises of a free market, small Government intervention model.  This means that there would be an increase in the expectation that the Government would create jobs where it had the power to do so.  This may include Government intervention to increase positions in all Government owned, operated and funded entities at local, state and federal level.  This may also include Government intervention to make mandatory the requirement for quotas within Government funded infrastructure projects to achieve targets of employing those who are employed and underemployed.

This should also put pressure on the Government to ensure they meet the obligation of providing skills development opportunities for those seeking employment. This may mean the implementation of yearly quotas of trainees and apprentices for all Government owned and funded organisations.  This would also place pressure on the Government to provide affordable access to TAFE and other training for all jobseekers, both under employed and unemployed.

In regional and rural areas where there is a higher concentration of unemployment; this should also put pressure on the Government to decentralise the public sector at state and federal level. In addition, pressure should be placed on the Government to provide attractive incentives for SME’s and large corporations to invest in relocations or start ups in regional and rural areas.

Government change to enhance the current model would also require the adoption of a basic wage, which will shift the public perception of one that jobseekers are welfare dependent, to a perception of a human right to a basic wage for all citizens.  This will also enable the underemployed to be as competitive for jobs as the unemployed.  Currently some incentives favour only the long term unemployed and lock the under employed out of the labour market.   Punitive measures such as income management (basic card) and financial penalties would not longer need to exist.

The most critical shift that needs to occur is for citizens to reject the stigmatising narrative that currently exists around those seeking employment today, as this narrative is the antecedent for the entire burden of secure employment to fall on the jobseeker, rather than the onus of providing citizens with full, secure employment on the Government.

All of the above can be achieved and it can start with a rejection of the current dehumanising and stigmatising narrative surrounding jobseekers; and it should start with all of us today.

“Stigma is a process by which the reaction of others spoils normal identity.”
―Erving Goffman

 

1 Ziguras, Stephen (2004) “Australian Social Security Policy and Job-Seekers’ Motivation,” Journal of Economic and Social Policy: Vol. 9: No. 1, pp 1-24

Tony Eardley, Jude Brown, Margot Rawsthorne, Kate Norris, Liz Emrys, 2005, The impact of breaching on income support customers, Social Policy Research Centre (UNSW)

Australian Voters – What are you afraid of?

voting

The tight polls indicate that a number of Australians are afraid of what a change of Government will bring. However, the thought of remaining with the Liberal Government makes me very afraid.

I still recall that day in early high school so vividly. I was yelled at, embarrassed to the point of tears and pulled out of class.  I was ordered to sit on the verandah, because my parents could not afford the proper text book and the teacher decided I was not ‘ready to learn’. That experience, really drove home that the battlers could sit alone and cry red-faced in shame and be on the outside looking in, or they could use their voices to speak up.

I knew that public education in the early 1980s was considered free for all students and that I was entitled to an education.  (My Mother had told me time and time again “you don’t need money to be clean, honest, intelligent, kind, well mannered, etc., etc.,)

That day, I furiously marched to the Principal’s office at lunchtime and I made a formal complaint.  I stood up straight, looked him in the eye and asked him loud and clear, if I was allowed to be excluded from class because I could not afford the text book.

For a reason I cannot remember now, (possibly being thirteen and misunderstanding the political framework!) I threatened to report the school to the Governor General and guaranteed that he could stand me in front of class and ask me questions. I argued that it would be revealed that I knew more than most of the students who had text books. I was angry and offended that the school had drawn a line between my intelligence, my willingness to learn and the amount of money my parents had to buy a stupid text book!

After some scornful lecture reminding me that it was somehow a thirteen year old’s responsibility to ensure I had the right books for school and I was ‘ready to learn’, I was given a ‘loan’ of a second hand book.  I had to promise I would protect this book with my dear life until the end of the year and I was curtly reminded that ‘forgetting to return the book would be considered stealing from the school.’   That was also a stark reminder of how a low socio-economic background was an immediate negative judgement of one’s morals.

Two things were important that day: A rule existed to prevent unfairness and I had the courage to speak up. 

Rules and Societal Norms shape who we are

Legal rules and also societal norms shape who we are. They shape our nation. The democratic system of parliament is the system which enables the rules by which we live. If the school had a rule implemented that stated I could be excluded because I did not have the correct book, I could have sat on the verandah for the rest of the year. Not learning and not participating. Some kids would not have complained, as I did.  

An important point is that not everyone has the same levels of self-efficacy to use a complaints system, or to even question if they are a victim of unfairness. The rules should be there to protect people so they do not need to have an inherent self-confidence to right any wrongs.

This is the reason I take politics and voting so seriously.  The Liberals, time and time again implement ‘rules’ or laws, that not only make life hard for the disadvantaged, but also make it hard to complain and achieve fairness.  We see this in Education, in Health, in Welfare and in unemployment programs to name a few.

This is the future under the Liberal Government I see and what we have seen for the past three years and in previous Liberal Governments state and federal.  A system of rules, that makes life harder for battlers. A system of rules that makes it harder for battlers to have a voice.  A system of rules that is the antecedent to unfairness and a divided society.

The Liberals seek to make that verandah I sat on, even wider between the thirteen year old me and inclusion in that classroom.  

The Liberals seek to make rules, that would have the Principal tell the thirteen year old me, ‘that it was my fault, I can do better, get richer parents, shut up, sit down and do as you are told, or we may arrest you.’

The tight polls indicate that a number of Australians are afraid of what a change of Government will bring. However, the thought of remaining with the Liberal Government makes me very afraid:

I don’t want to live in a world where a Liberal Government works hard for a greater divide between the rich and the poor. 

Where the practices and policies of the Liberals ensure the working class have no rights and can be replaced by foreign workers in the dead of night.

Where the practices and policies of the Liberals make the disadvantaged choose between seeing a doctor or buying food.

Where the ideology of the Liberals does not see marriage equality as a right for all citizens.

Where the Liberals favouritism of austerity is implemented in times of severe, global economic uncertainty.

Where a narrative which harms and stigmatises people is encouraged and supported and sometimes led by members of the Liberal party.

Where Liberal/Conservative/austerity-laden budgets are designed to give the wealthy money and see the poor grasping for the trickling down of the scraps.

Where the spending decisions of a Liberal Government produces a health system so underfunded that death of Australians is realistic consequence.

I don’t want to live in a country where a Liberal Government makes rules to make life harder for the battler or makes it harder to protest against unfairness.

Another term of The Liberals. That is what makes me very afraid

If you are NOT voting 1 Labor, what are you afraid of?

  • Does ensuring Medicare is in the safe hands of the Labor party  – the party that invented Medicare and the party that has fought against cuts to Medicare by the Liberals for years and years, make you afraid?
  • Does ensuring that all children have the funding they need for more individual attention to excel in school, make you afraid?
  • Does a party who fights for the rights of the worker, make you afraid?
  • Does ensuring that our health system is properly funded, so Doctors and Nurses can do their jobs properly, make you afraid?
  • Does ensuring transparency, KPIs for processing, independent overseer, child guardian, refugee tribunal and funding UNHCR camps to eradicate the need for boat journeys, make you afraid?
  • Does ensuring that the party that got us through the GFC unscathed, managing the economy in a transitional environment or global instability, make you afraid?
  • Does a history of delivering major reforms that have progressed this nation forward such as: NDIS, Enterprise Bargaining, Medicare, Superannuation and Gonski, make you afraid?
  • Does the underpinning ideology of a fair go, make you afraid?
  • Does ensuring that we have a fibre-laden, first rate technology National Broadband System, make you afraid?
  • Does every citizen having the equal right to marry, make you afraid?
  • Does the idea a party can have 100 positive policies, presented and costed before an election, make you afraid?

Vote Labor to put people first on July 2. Don’t be afraid.

 

Plebiscite. NOT a civil and respectful debate

A Shorten Labor Government promises to pass Marriage Equality within the first 100 days if they win the election.   An Abbott-Turnbull Government favours a plebiscite. Both of these cases were argued at the first Facebook leaders debate last night.

Leadership Debate 17 June, 2016 – Marriage Equality Plebiscite

Malcolm Turnbull:  I support same-sex marriage, if we are returned to Government, there will be a plebiscite, then all Australians will get a say on the issue.  I’ll be voting yes. Lucy will be voting yes. We will be urging people to vote yes.  I am very confident it will be carried.

Bill Shorten: Now the argument says, Oh Plebiscite, it’s very democratic.  But the truth of the matter is that this is a debate where I don’t believe that people’s relationships and love for each other need to be submitted to a public opinion poll.  I think we have seen two terrible events in the last week that shows hate and extremism exists in modern societies. And I don’t want to give the haters a chance to come out from underneath the rock and make life harder for LGBTI people.

Malcolm Turnbull: With great respect to you. I believe Australians are better than that. I believe we can have a discussion about marriage equality. It can be civil. It can be respectful and we will make a decision as a nation and then, as a nation we will respect the outcome.

The debate on marriage equality so far, has been anything but civil or respectful. Therefore, one can conclude Turnbull is one or more of the following:

  • Outright lying
  • Responding with empty platitudes
  • Playing semantics with the words ‘can be’ and ‘will be’
  • Intentionally arrogant and insulting towards the people who have already expressed they have been harmed by this debate
  • Ignorant and out of touch with the commentary already occurring within this debate
  • Supportive of the hateful and harmful commentary from the Anti-Marriage Equality lobby and considers this commentary, a civil and respectful debate.

Let’s take a look just a small taste of how the marriage equality debate has developed thus far. It has been far from civil.

*Warning: This post contains comments and pictures that may be upsetting and hurtful to LGBTI people, their families and allies. 

A Taste of the Respectful and Civil debate thus far:

ssm1

Leaked pamphlets, to feature in an upcoming campaign against same-sex marriage, suggest children of gay and lesbian parents are more prone to “abuse and neglect” and more likely to be unemployed, abuse drugs and suffer depression.

The pamphlets, obtained by Fairfax Media, have been prepared and funded by Chris Miles, a former Liberal MP and member of the Foreign Investment Review Board.

“Not only is the information on this flyer wrong, it will put the lives of young gay people and the children of same-sex couples at risk by reinforcing the message that they and their families are broken.” (Croome, AME)

The Rainbow Noose
ssm2

Australian Marriage Alliance advertisement opposing marriage equality

AUSTRALIAN anti-gay-marriage group Marriage Alliance has depicted a woman with a rainbow noose around her neck in its latest internet campaign.

The group is claiming that same-sex marriage will increase suicide because people who are against it will be bullied over their views if it becomes law.

What About the Children?

Australian Marriage Alliance television advertisement opposing marriage equality. The central message that only children who have a mum and a dad “Miss out” on a real family.  

Alexander Regan, a 17-year-old boy with two lesbian mums, said on the petition that he was deeply offended by the commercial.

“I’m signing this because I’m a child of two absolutely loving lesbian parents and I’m really offended that this advertisement blatantly slandering same-sex parents’ ability to be parents simply based on their homosexuality,” he wrote. “My mums are amazing and I honestly need nothing more than them and their love in my life.”

Booklet

Australian Marriage Equality national director, Rodney Croome, said,

“This booklet denigrates and demeans same-sex relationships and will do immense harm to gay students and students being raised by same-sex couples.”

“The booklet likely breaches the Anti-Discrimination Act and I urge everyone who finds it offensive and inappropriate, including teachers, parents and students, to complain to the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner, Robin Banks.”

Mr Croome said he has received several complaints from teachers in Catholic schools who were horrified to learn at staff room meetings that the booklet will be distributed.

Comparing Marriage Equality to Animal Sexual Activity

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A federal Nationals MP has drawn a comparison between same-sex relationships and two rams having sex in a paddock, provoking condemnation for the ‘offensive’ and ‘inappropriate’ statements, with the Greens calling on him to apologise and retract them.

Educating Children and Parents about the dangers of Marriage Equality

 

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Parents took to social media to express concern over the event some described as “highly offensive’’, “extremely bigoted’’ and “totally inappropriate to be sent out through a Catholic school parent email list’’.

In a plea sent to the school, obtained by the Mercury, one parent said: “Although the teachings of the Catholic religion is one of husband and wife I find it inappropriate that the Catholic Diocesan of Wollongong  would find it appropriate to be “informed” about this topic by a (group) with a clear agenda leading up to a federal election.’’

“There are many families within our school community that would be extremely offended by this type of ignorant propaganda as they are not a ‘family’ as is defined,’’ the email said.

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The Australian Christian Lobby has compared same-sex marriage and the Safe Schools program to the Holocaust, dubbing them all “unthinkable things” that happened because societies lacked strong moral guardians.

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Peter Madden is running for the Tasmanian Senate with the Family First party and his campaign is anti-marriage equality and anti-Safe Schools.

On Monday he made a comment on Twitter: “Though Orlando is abhorrent, it doesn’t change the real & present dangers of the gay marriage agenda to Aus children.”

People have condemned the insensitive tweet and even called the hopeful politician “scum”.

“Absolutely disgusting. Completely offensive,” one commented.

As I live in a Regional Town, I am dedicating a section just to debate within regional communities. 

There are extra complexities to consider in regional communities for LGBTI people. There is no Mardi-Gras. There is no wide-spread community support. Young LGBTI people often move away from the area quickly and there is a high rate of suicide. A harmful and hurtful debate only places further stress on young LGBTI people in regional communities.

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ssm6Mr Christensen, the Member for Dawson, posted a photo on social media showing a gun loaded with a rainbow coloured magazine.

“My point is that people saying ‘let’s follow America’ in their argument for same-sex marriage … well what about the right to bear arms?” he said.

“I mean, you wouldn’t follow America on that one.

George Christensen, LNP Member for Dawson.

 

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“Many kids do flee Mackay straight after high school,” she said.

“I am sure this has something to do with it. People do not feel welcome here. You get shunned. So people leave and go to places where it is acceptable.”

BuzzFeed News asked Christensen (QLD LNP MP) what he thought about LGBTI teenagers in the area feeling as though a program like Safe Schools is needed.

He (Christensen) likened it to children wanting to eat ice cream.

“Kids love everything. Kids would love free ice cream at school,” the MP said. “Is that good for them? Y’know. Of course they are going to defend something they are being told is good.

“But is it good? Is it social engineering? I think it is clearly social engineering.”

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Using the plebiscite as campaign fodder.

The Capricornia Young LNP accuse the Labor candidate of vandalising the LNP member’s office.  (The Labor candidate responded in the original thread that she was there to support the rally and was writing “Love is Love” on a heart-shaped post it note.  The other person in the photo is the gorgeous Ben Norris from Big Brother, who spoke at the rally.

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I attended this Equal Love Rally.  We held a peaceful rally. Marched a distance to the LNP Member’s office and those who desired could place a post it note on her door with a message in support of marriage equality.

Equal Love Rally

SMS to the Editor – Rockhampton Morning Bulletin

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This is such a small sample from the commentary within  the debate against marriage equality thus far and it does not do justice to the plethora of uncivil and disrespectful commentary from the Anti-Marriage equality lobby found within this debate. 

This quote from Shirleene Robinson, spokeswoman for Australian Marriage Equality calls for people to understand that language and narrative can cause deep hurt to people.

“Words can inflict terrible harm sometimes and we would ask that people of all opinions remember that,” she said. “The use of intemperate language can cause deep hurt among LGBTI people and their families.”

Deciphering the Leaders Debate Comments.

A plebiscite – Abbott-Turnbull Government

I refer back to Turnbull’s comments within the leadership debate:

“….then all Australians will get a say on the issue”
“….we will make a decision as a nation”

Normally Turnbull palavers on with great verbosity and his words can be deciphered and reduced to something quite simple.  On this occasion he used a few words, but it translates to much more:  That is:

“When considering marriage, Australia currently recognises two groups of people: heterosexual people and LGBTI people. Australian law currently only respects the right to marry belongs to heterosexual people and excludes LGBTI people and discriminates based on gender.

The Abbott-Turnbull Government thinks the appropriate way to redress this gender based discrimination is for Australian citizens to decide if LGBTI people are the same as them, or a lesser class of citizen.  LGBTI people belong to a minority group.

The Government will ask LGBTI people (the minority group the current law discriminates against) to vote on this.

However  we will ask the majority – their friends, their allies, people who are apathetic and indifferent, but we also think it is important to ask people who do not consider LGBTI people ‘the same’ or ‘normal’ and should not have the same rights and also those who harbour a deep-seated hatred and contempt for LGBTI people.  

These people will make up of the majority group who will decide whether to uphold discrimination towards the minority group.

To ensure people are informed before they vote, as part of this, we will force LGBTI people and their families, loved ones and allies, to listen to the hateful rhetoric from people who argue that we should uphold this discrimination and LGBTI people should remain as a lesser class of citizen, which could cause deep hurt and harm to this group.

To ensure enough information is out there to decide whether LGBTI people are a lesser class of citizen or not, this will cost approximately 160 million dollars of taxpayer money.

It should also be noted that if a majority votes to continue discrimination towards the minority group, then discrimination based on gender should be fully respected and upheld. “

End Translation.

The Legislative Approach – Shorten Government

The legislative approach states that: Discrimination exists within our marriage law and separates citizens and discriminates based on gender. We will move a bill to redress that discrimination and ensure every citizen is equal under the eyes of the law.

Marriage Equality NOW.  Say NO to a plebiscite.

A dirty deal to drown out our inner voice

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Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.”  Steve Jobs, 2005

 

Voices, opinions and narrative shape a society in a free democracy.  This is a crucial underlying construct of our ‘Australian Culture.’  It is one of the essential freedoms we enjoy as a country. Our voices, my voice, your voice shapes us.

The right to use our voice to protest. The right to use our voice to use social media  and other platforms to speak up loudly for or against issues. The right for journalists to report on sensitive issues and to criticise the Government. The right to nominate as a voice in our parliament and the right to vote for that voice.

Sometimes debate in our country is a lovely, manicured clear pathway and sometimes our debate is a thick forest with bruising scrub, dry arid land, harsh conditions, thorns that cut and grab and where we have to step around snakes with fear and angst.

However, it is our inner voice which allows us to block out the loud opinions of others and look up above that noise to the wisest of owls who will guide us out, beyond the snakes and to the other side to a place of peace and tranquility.

Every single person’s landscape of peace and tranquility is not the same. Some will find that peace in a conservative landscape, an authoritarian landscape, a socialist landscape, a (small l) liberal landscape or a libertarian landscape. For some people, depending on the issue at hand, they might find they have unfolded their deckchair and soaked up the sun in different landscapes over time.  For example, some may sit in the socialist landscape for worker’s rights, but will also sit in the punitive and conservative landscape to advocate for the death penalty.

There are also some people who don’t fight through harsh scrub and snakes, they have no wise owl to guide them to their landscape, they are trapped forever in a 70’s disco doing ‘The Shrug’ to the tune of ‘meh, meh, meh, meh, meh.’ Sometimes they might reach out and take a few steps down the easy manicured path of debate, but you will never get them near the forest.

Sadly, today, there are still many loud voices which drown out the opinions of those in minority groups who are suffering from harm. More and more people look to the wise-owl of their inner voice, to guide them and set themselves down in the landscape of the minorities in solidarity and that is a good thing, because it is so important that these voices are the loud and heard.

I do not support the argument that the only voices we should have in our parliament are the Independent voices and that the parliament would be better without the major parties.

I do not believe a parliament of independents is the panacea to some of the issues we have in parliament today. There are only so many frames of political ideology and to have the necessary legitimate and at times coercive power, blocs would be formed, representing that ideology.

The theories which explain power in relationships and politics are complex. Power can see people struggle over finite resources, some have the ability to use referent power, some can use power to make other’s dependent upon them and some can use coercive power. A party of Independent MPs or Senators is not the nice walk down the manicured path, some believe it to be.

What I strongly advocate for, is that all citizens should have the freedom to vote for a party who has either a solid platform they agree with, or a vote for an independent voice, which may take a myriad of conflicting positions.

My strongest argument is for informed voting. Although I am not a supporter of the Liberal party, I would prefer to see a voter vote conservative/LNP who has a truly informed conservative position they align with. They are informed and fully understand the damage that this party’s ideology and policies will do to certain groups of people, how their authoritarian nature will aim to suppress our voices and that they favour punitive measures above all else. I support that this voter is comfortable with being a bastard and owns it and wears it on their sleeve with pride.

I would rather this than just voting because of the aesthetical appeal of an individual politician, or they find a slogan catchy, without knowing what that party or person is really about. I want to turn the music off at the “Meh, meh, meh” disco and fill the disco full of owls to be followed right out of there. 

I argue strongly for this, because this is critical in shaping who we really are. The voices who end up on the other side of power (whomever that may be), end up battling through the forest and/or sitting in solidarity with groups of minorities.  They know their collective needs to grow stronger and their voices need to be more persuasive and louder. This enables robust debate and shapes our country. This is important as we do not want to just stretch out on a deckchair and catch a few rays in our ideal landscapes, but to build a house on it for life.

In the debate of democratic voting, the majority of people have built their house on the landscape of democracy. The Greens, the Xenophon party and The Liberals want to knock down our democratic houses. They have done a dirty deal to silence the voices of the independents in the Senate.  They are essentially forming a bloc on this issue to use legitimate power to drown out the inner voices who sit in their landscape and in solidarity with the Independents.

The Greens, the Xenophon party and the Liberals want to knock down your house of democracy by relying on the voters who are bopping away to “The Shrug” to the tune of “meh, meh, meh, meh.” This is the key to their success and the key to suppressing the independent voice.
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Bill Shorten’s Labor is sitting in solidarity in the Independent’s landscape of democracy.

As a member of the Labor party, I am glad that this is where my party sits, as it is where I would be sitting regardless.

I will end this article, not with my own conclusion of why this is so wrong, but I will leave you with a must watch video of Anthony Albanese speaking out against the changes to the Senate Voting system. I hope that the voice in this video, encourages you speak up against these voting reforms with your pen on election day.

 

 

Are we Turnbull’s unpaid focus group?

focus groupAfter watching Malcolm Turnbull and his “Government” in action over the past five months, I have come to the conclusion that Turnbull is secretly using the voting public as one enormous unpaid focus group.

It all started way back when Tony Abbott was our Prime Minister. Malcolm Turnbull was well placed to be the communications Minister. He is a lover of Apple watches and he can rattle off with aplomb lots of social media apps.  He probably has an app on his mirror to tell him if he is the fairest in the land every morning. However, despite all of this, he had a huge dilemma.

As we all know, Turnbull likes to believe he is the man of the hour, the champion of the people, that guy who gets everything right, the man who holds the adulation and love of so many fans. (Wait…Turnbull likes to believe he is Jonathon Thurston?)

Anyway, set your mind back just a little.  Turnbull, as communications minister had to put out an inferior, rubbish, embarrassing FTTN NBN and blow the budget out to the GDP of a small country, all for good reason. The reason is that the Liberals needed an alternative model to Labor’s far superior FTTP NBN. Therefore, Malcolm thought he would just test his rubbish model out on a focus group aka ‘us’, add in a little spin and waffle about how Betacord is far more superior than blue ray; oops I mean how copper is far more superior than fibre; and we would buy it.

When ‘we’ (the focus group) started moaning and groaning about how crap his NBN was, and in the still of the night he stared at the laughter from online tech forums with tears in his eyes, the stress of it all started to show. One morning, he looked in the mirror and his app told him that Jason Clare was by far the fairest in the land. He knew it was all over and he had to do something drastic. He had to distance himself from the NBN.

How can the man of the hour be the same man who has the crap NBN and who is the subject of memes with tin cans and string? No, no, no that simply would not do. At least Abbott had a boat phone!

He had to get out of communications fast into a job that made him look good.  He needed a job that allowed him to be flexible. One with enough scope that if he had to talk about something that made him look dull instead of shiny, he could brush that aside and talk about something else. With that, he eyed Tony Abbott with a glint in his eye. He just had to convince his party colleagues that he was the very model of a modern major Prime Minister.

So he did what any good innovator would do, he chose a tried and true product that the focus group liked but had become tired of and applied a little incremental innovation. All he had to do was to sell it to his party colleagues.

Malcolm had feedback that the focus group didn’t like the way the old Prime Minister model ummed and ah-ed and especially that time that he wasn’t saying anything (but you aren’t saying anything, Tony) or his inappropriate repetition of “But we have stopped the boats”. The focus group especially did not like any Captains picks.

The party colleagues insisted that the inner workings of PM Mark I stay the same and PM Mark II had to have the same values and beliefs as the old model, but it would be ok if Malcolm tinkered with the aesthetics.

So Malcolm hopped on a tram to take some selfies, chucked on an Armani Suit, put 200 million dollars in the bank and shifted some to an offshore account in the Cayman islands and the model was almost complete. To demonstrate the winning element of the new model, he slapped on a happy face, twirled his glasses a few times and with great anticipation he unveiled the clincher…never ending verbosity with an inbuilt thesaurus for all the synonyms a Prime Minister could use without sounding repetitive once.  It was a done deal.  With the help of a knife and a Bishop, the old model was sent to the backbenches and Turnbull was now the new Prime Minister Mark II.

So Malcolm turned to the Focus Group once again for them to evaluate Prime Minister Mark II. As confirmed by @Ghostwhovotes every week, the polls were in and the focus group gave the thumbs up. The media were so happy they were reminiscent of Magenta grabbing Riff Raff’s hand, twirling him around and yelling, “Malcolm is happy. The Liberals are happy, you’re happy, we’re all happy hahaha hahaha.”

After such a positive response from the focus group, Malcolm then became obsessed with using us as a focus group to evaluate so many things in the coming months.

He did this with so much excitement and relief because he has no idea how to make his own decisions. However, he became increasingly frustrated because no matter what he put before us, it was all nope, nope, nope from us. There was a small ‘yay’ for getting rid of knights and dames.  There was also a huge sigh of relief when Speaker mark II turned out to be rational and level headed and did not take helicopter joy rides.

However, secretly copying a diary to bring down the speaker of parliament to topple a Labor Government, it was a nope from the focus group.

A Minister of Parliament drunk groping and kissing a female public servant in China, was a nope from the focus group.

Announcing, “there has never been a more exciting time to be an Australian” was a yay from most of us. However, repeated at the same volume and frequency of ‘we have stopped the boats’ resulted in a noise complaint and a subsequent thumbs down from the focus group.

Ministers grabbing the Baygon and spraying it in the PM’s general direction as they backed away and resigned, was a mixed response with many raising an eyebrow of suspicion as to what was going on.

A Minister under the guise of a private citizen signing off on a mining deal with a Chinese mining company and prominent Liberal party donor was a big, big nope from the focus group.

The focus group climbed bridges and towers and screamed nope, nope, nope and staged a protest outside of a hospital when he canvassed whether sending Asylum seeker babies back to detention was okay.

The focus group was split on a report of a political witch hunt, set up to destroy the party of the workers, led by a life-long Liberal party supporter who was allowed to assess his own bias. (The nopes were a lot louder than yays on this one, so this one is reserved for desperate situations only).

As the Prime Minister had no idea about economic reform, he decided to run an increase in the GST by the focus group.  The results from the focus group were so poor and when he noted that they were listening to the Labor party, he has backed away from the GST like Voldemort backing away from Harry. Like he still intends to do the evil deed, he just has to wait to get Harry in a weak position.

Some of the focus group still have their head turned sideways trying to work out if the Unicorn selling is a possibility.  Others in the focus group started designing unicorn memes straight away.

Prime Minister Mark II is now canvassing the focus group for the privatisation of Medicare and their personal medical records being handled by a private contractor, possibly an overseas company. The early data is that this is a huge thumbs down.

As Prime Minister Mark II is too scared to make any decisions of his own and he relies on the feedback from focus groups; here is a list of forthcoming ideas from the Turnbull’s ideas boom that we can expect in the near future.

A list of possible ideas for the PM Mark II’s focus group (aka us)

Should Anchovies on pizza cost extra?

When city Ministers visit country areas, should they wear a cowboy hat, or not wear a cowboy hat?

Is it ever OK for the Minister for women to scream like a banshee about ‘the sisterhood?’

Are socks with Sandals ever Ok and should Barnaby wear them?

How often can one hear the word innovation before they start screaming?

If copper is better than fibre, should blue ray be made obsolete and should we return to Betacord?

If your sick mum cannot get access to healthcare, is that Ok,  if there has never been a more exciting time to be an Australian?

If PM Mark II does not make any decisions up to and including the election, is it because there has never been a more exciting time to be an Australian?

Should the Government put out a budget before the election?

Should unicorns be sold, or should they be a protected species?

Is it obvious that the treasurer is a dumb-arse who knows jack about economics?

When the camera pans to Prime Minister Mark I sitting on the back bench looking forlorn, have you felt, or slightly felt a left-wing condition called empathy?

What do you think of underdogs? Is it possible for them to win elections?

Is ‘Work Save and Invest’ considered a slogan?

How much longer can the Liberal party get away with blaming Labor?

Do Pyne’s glasses look dorky nerdy or nerdy hot?

If the Prime Minister who owns several houses and is worth 200 million dollars, does not approve of a policy that will let your children and grandchildren buy a house, will you accept that this is OK because it won’t be fair on the rich people?.

With a Double Dissolution election now being suggested widely for July, I am sure the above and many more will be put to us aka the focus group for assessment between now and then, as it has become increasingly obvious Malcolm Turnbull is unable to make any decisions.

At a rate of zero dollars per hour, our pay for this focus group is less than the 47c an hour being paid to workers of the 7-Eleven Turnbull has a stake in.  I think I had better get my union, (or is that unicorn) on to this!

Ten things more reckless than funding Gonski

Gonski turnbullPaul Keating was so right about Malcolm Turnbull, wasn’t he? “A bit like a big red bunger on cracker night. You light him up, there’s a bit of a fizz but then nothing, nothing”

After all the glasses-twirling hype and the selfie-induced-train-hopping; nothing is exactly what we are getting from an undemocratically elected, Liberal Party appointed Prime Minister who is quickly learning that he can’t please the people and his party. However, he has clearly chosen who he aims to please. Malcolm Turnbull has clearly chosen to please the conservative right wing of his party and not the people of Australia and certainly not our children!

In his interview on 3AW with Neil Mitchell, Turnbull described Labor’s commitment to fund Gonski as, “Reckless.” Malcolm Turnbull believes that the fair and equitable education of ALL little Australians is “Reckless.” Malcolm Turnbull believes that investing in our children, the very people who will shape this country for our future, is ‘Reckless.”

Malcolm Turnbull believes that your child does not deserve a fair go!

Any leader who undermines the very essence of our shared Australian value of – “The Fair Go” is reckless. It is reckless toward us as individuals and it is reckless toward us as a collective. Turnbull’s rejection of Gonski funding is not just reckless, it is irresponsible and regressive.

To play on a phrase Julia Gillard famously used….If Malcolm Turnbull wants to know what Reckless looks like, he just needs a mirror. That’s what he needs.

The Abbott-Turnbull Govt has been the most reckless Government of my lifetime. That is why we need to talk about the:

Ten Things More Reckless than Funding Gonski:

1. Not Giving a Gonski

Education changes people’s lives.  The Gonski Reforms are an opportunity for fairness and equality in education.  It is an opportunity to provide equal access to pathways of future success for all of our children. The Gonski reforms will pull some sectors of our society out of generational disadvantage. The Gonski reforms enable our country to be competitive and improving our economy. Giving a Gonski is giving our children, your children, a chance to be competitive in the jobs of the future. Committing to Gonski could mean enabling the pathway for a future Prime Minister. Refusing to commit to Gonski is keeping the door shut to a Prime Minister that could have been.

The Prime Minister of Australia willingly choosing to uphold disadvantage over fairness and equality for all is beyond reckless, it is downright destructive.

2. The Job Seekers can Starve for Six Months Policy.

This little gem drummed up by the ‘let’s stigmatise poor people’ rabble of the Abbott-Turnbull Government, decided that in the era of high unemployment created by decisions by their own party, that young people who could not find a job are not entitled to social security payments. Deciding that young unemployed people should have no money for basics such as food, clothing, shelter, hygiene products or medicine is very reckless indeed. (Labor, Greens and some cross-benchers opposed this and a new policy is in progress for jobseekers to starve for one month instead.

3. Trashing Labor’s FTTP NBN 

I’m just going to leave this here because I’d rather watch Jason Clare explain how reckless Turnbull has been with the NBN, rather than write about it.

4. The Trade Union Royal Commission

Wasting millions and millions and millions of dollars on a political witch hunt, presided over by a judge with a history that spans decades of  very close ties to the Liberal Party of Australia, is one of the most reckless acts against the working class this country has ever seen. The reckless attack on workers to bring back a reckless star chamber style ABCC is abhorrent. No Mother or Father ever wants the young man in this video to be his or her child! Shame. Shame. Shame.

5. Attacking the Most Sick and Vulnerable in Our Society

The cuts to health and the continuous push towards a user pays system are reckless to the extreme.  The situation the Abbott-Turnbull Government is pushing for, is where your wealth decides whether you are in pain, undiagnosed with a serious or terminal illness, or possibly even die.  This type of class division of access to health will lead to a broken country.  No human life is less valuable than another life based on the amount of money someone has in the bank.    

6. Being a Fake Friend

Both John Howard in 2005 and Tony Abbott in 2014 said that the Liberal Government was the best friend the workers have ever had. Pretending to be a friend to the worker, is not just reckless, it is deceitful. A Government who makes it easier to employ foreign workers instead of Australian workers is not a best friend to the worker. A Government who does that is made up of a pack of self-righteous, out of touch lazy gits and by taking a generous wage, are the real leaners on society. MP’s are not elected by the people to do backroom deals to push Australians out of work.  How reckless is it to make changes to employment rules that result in Australians being replaced with foreign workers and then laugh about it.  Really? How reckless is that to everything the people in this country value?

7. Attacks on low paid workers and their families

The push from the Abbott- Turnbull Government to make life more difficult for families by cutting family payments and attacking penalty rates is indeed reckless. Some parents rely on weekend shift work to help the family get through the week. Sometimes this is the only work mum or dad can get to work in with their primary duty of caring for children. To attack the penalty rates of some of the poorest people in the country in conjunction with cuts to family payments and abolishing the School Kids Bonus is yet another step closer to the Abbott-Turnbull led class divide trotted out by the Liberals and Nationals time and time again. Class divide is indeed one of the most reckless things a Government can do.

8. The Government’s policy of Secrets and Lies

The approach and treatment of Asylum Seekers under the Abbott-Turnbull regime is abhorrent, shameful, disgusting and damaging.  The Abbott-Turnbull Government’s commitment to the secrecy provisions of their policy is beyond reckless. I do not believe a word exists for how damaging this extreme practice is. The treatment of Asylum Seekers is in the name of all Australians, not just in the Government’s name. Concerned citizens and advocacy groups have the right to investigate the treatment of people seeking asylum in our name. Asylum seekers have the absolute right to advocacy, medical treatment and legal representation. The cloak and dagger approach has only lasted so long. As reported yesterday, Border Force admitted that at least 23 boats have been turned back and this is a regular occurrence. To say the boats have stopped is a bald-faced lie. With the Government casting its invisibility cloak over people seeking asylum, the public have no idea if people are still drowning or the number of deaths at sea. As Harry Potter Fans will appreciate, the Government has the invisibility cloak and with Dutton’s face as the stone and Turnbull’s twirling glasses as the wand, the Government really could be the Masters of Death.

9. Income Management – Basic and Healthy Welfare Cards

The Cashless Welfare card is the symbolic mechanism that brings the Abbott-Turnbull Government’s agenda of stigmatisation of the poor to life. This draconian, punitive measure ensures that those who are unemployed are branded as such at the checkout. The Government harps on about how they understand innovation, but then deny the unemployed the ability to purchase cheap goods off buy and sell sites on Facebook and at the local market. The cashless welfare card denies an unemployed mother the ability to give their school child that $3.00 in an envelope for the school excursion they just remembered about that morning. Income management only serves to degrade the unemployed as incompetent and not able to manage their own meagre budgets. It is a punitive and degrading measure, which takes away the liberty and freedom of those who are on welfare. Income management increases barriers to employment for jobseekers and that is indeed reckless to the individual and to our society as a whole.

10. Not allowing a free vote in Parliament on Marriage Equality

One of the roles of the Prime Minister and Government is to provide leadership of tough issues. This often means doing what is right for minority groups, regardless of popular opinion.  I was deeply perturbed at the very vocal Abbott-esque backflip by Turnbull in question time on Thursday.  The new Malcolm appears not only to be reckless, but now completely unhinged.

Terri Butler: Given it is clear that members of the Prime Minister’s own party will not respect the $160 million plebiscite on marriage equality; will the Prime Minister immediately allow the free vote that he used to argue for on the private member’s bill that is currently before the parliament?

Malcolm Turnbull: I am not sure what it is about the honourable member’s approach to democracy that she so despises the views of the people that sent her here.

Parliament did not conduct a plebiscite to determine if we should or should not have sexual harassment laws introduced. They did not conduct a plebiscite to pass the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, contrary to what the popular belief at the time would have been. The Government of the day saw legal entrenched discrimination and had the guts to redress it.

By standing by a plebiscite, Malcolm Turnbull is valuing the opinion of bigots and homophobes who have recently photoshopped rainbow nooses around a woman’s neck in an anti-marriage equality advertisement. That is not valuing democracy. That is upholding bigotry and allowing bigots to have a voice against those they seek to oppress.  As leaders, the Government has a moral obligation to view this debate from a legal standpoint of discrimination based on the choice of sexual preference and redress this discrimination immediately.

It is reckless for a Government to deny people who love each other the right to marry, based on their sexual preference.

Conclusion

If Malcolm Turnbull wants to know what reckless really is, here are just ten of the many reckless things the Abbott-Turnbull Government has done in the short space of two years and four months.  Investing in Gonski is not reckless, it is responsible and visionary, two things the current Government lacks.  To fight this Government’s recklessness, remember always to put the Liberal/National or LNP last on your ballot paper and Give a Gonski today.

 

Join the Protest to Re-elect Turnbull

lnp protest2

 

A very wise man once said to me, “There are two types of politicians. Anti-Community and Pro-Community. The Liberals are always Anti-Community. That is why there are always protests against a Coalition Government.

 

 

Turnbull has been ahead in the polls since he obtained the Prime Ministership by default. Anyone who toppled Abbott would be the Nation’s automatic Messiah. He could read the back of a Cornflakes packet and the public would still have been cheering.  How fortunate for Turnbull.

The party did not want Abbott.  The party re-installed a former failed leader, Malcolm Turnbull.  Four Corners painted Turnbull as the good little boy who didn’t make any fuss about Abbott whilst he was the Prime Minister. He just sat back patiently and waited for his crown.  

The fact that Turnbull did not make any fuss about Abbott or vocally opposed Abbott’s policies or rhetoric, clearly shows that Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberal National Coalition simply were happy with Abbott’s policies. They just wanted a new face to deliver them and that is what we have now.

We saw the rise of March in March or March Australia during the Abbott years. We also saw massive protests against Campbell Newman’s harsh cuts, job losses, privatisation of public assets and the attack on our civil liberties in Queensland as well as his mantra of selling our assets.  People marched and yelled in protest because they were fighting to protect everything that underpins us as Australians – A Fair Go.

Will you join the Protest to support Turnbull?

This leads me to the central question of this piece.  Turnbull and the Coalition are ahead in the polls, but are his policies really worth fighting for?  Your vote for a Turnbull Government is the ultimate endorsement of your fight for Turnbull and his policies. Would you protest for his policies to save his Prime Ministership? 

If the Coalition’s policies are so important to make this country great, why do Liberal members and Liberal supporters and even swinging voters not get out there and protest to make their voices heard?  Why do they not get out there and really fight for them?

I ask you this: “If you are thinking of voting for the Abbott-Turnbull Coalition Government are you so passionate about their return in the election that you would protest to keep them?”

To look beyond voting for a face and to really understand what that face represents, let’s take a look at what 10,000’s of people protesting for the Abbott-Turnbull policies would sound like…..

Cuts to Medicare

“If you get sick you should pay, user pays is a better way”

“It’s my taxes anyway, Make the poor PAY, PAY, PAY!”

“Cuts to Medicare should come quick. If you can’t afford it, don’t get sick!”

GST Increase

“Increase GST on everything!”

“GST up NOW!”

“Make the poor pay much more.  A GST rise is our winning score!”

NBN FTTN

“Fast Broadband is a joke. Keep the copper that gets choked!”

“44th in the world isn’t last. We don’t need Internet that’s fast!”

“Rural living is a pity. If you want internet move to the city!”

Climate Change Denial 

“Climate Science is a joke. Renewables will send us broke!”

“It was hotter last year! Climate Change is a smear!”

“Coal is good for humanity! Up the Climate Anti!”

Education – Cuts to Gonski

“We don’t need children educated. Gonski should be eradicated!”

“More funding for Elite Private Schools! Funding needy schools is for fools!”

“Education is a privilege, not a right. Down with Gonski, Fight, Fight Fight!”

 

It’s an election year. It’s time to get serious.

Turnbull neo liberalism

It is time to look beyond Turnbull’s smile and his nice suits and the fact that he is not Tony Abbott. In my personal view, what Turnbull stands for – Mass privatisation, harsh neo-liberal policies and radical industrial relations reform, is far worse than what Abbott stood for. By voting for a Liberal or National party member, you are joining the protest above. Through your vote for a Turnbull Government, you are endorsing the destruction of the quality of life we enjoy in Australia.

It’s time to vote with our hearts and use our vote to stamp out the greed and austerity that underpins the destruction of a fair go in Australia by the Abbott-Turnbull Government.

 

If you can chant all of the above and stand shoulder to shoulder and march with those who support Turnbull; by all means, vote for your Turnbull candidate.  If not, put the Liberal and National Coalition candidates last on your ballot.  It is where they put you.

 

 

Power Rules, Men, Sex and Politics

sex harassJamie Briggs, Minister for Cities and the Built Environment in the Abbott/Turnbull Liberal National Coalition Government resigned from the Ministry on the 29th December, 2015, citing his behaviour was an error of professional judgement. A female public servant has submitted a formal complaint, complaining of Briggs’ sexual behaviour. No one knows the exact nature of the complaint made, as we are not privy to any specific details at this time. Newspaper reports indicate that this complaint relates to unwanted sexual advances and/or sexual harassment.

Sexual Harassment by men is the “Unsolicited, non-reciprocal male behaviour, that asserts a woman’s sex role, over her function as a worker (Benokraitis & Feagin, 1995).

Seeking “The Wife’s Opinion”

A number of articles written in various newspapers seek the opinion of Jamie Briggs’ wife. I will not link these articles, as I will not reinforce this distraction from Briggs’ behaviour. In fact, Jamie Briggs’ wife should be left out of this altogether.

When I read the various articles in newspapers focusing on his wife’s opinion and acceptance or condemnation of Briggs’ behaviour, I cringed. My mind went back to late 90’s and Hilary Clinton immediately. Hilary Clinton is still harassed about her husband’s behaviour today. Hilary Clinton is still expected to take responsibility for her husband’s behaviour and men in politics try their hardest to use this as a source of shame for Hilary Clinton.

No sooner had the ink dried on Briggs’ resignation, the media immediately turned their attention to his wife.

In doing so, this takes the focus off the man’s behaviour. It gives us something else to talk about other than the man who used his power on a woman who did not consent, nor did she welcome such behaviour of a sexual nature. Briggs abused his position of power. His ethical behaviour is also questioned.

Public Hat or Private Hat

Many argue that Bill Clinton had his ‘private ethics’ hat on, in his interactions with Lewinsky. Many argue there is a fine ethical line between a private ethics hat and a public one for politicians. However, in the case of Briggs, his ethics hat at that time was a public hat, as he was representing Australia in all his actions at that time. His reflection that this behaviour was not up to the standard of a Minister is accurate. He has made the correct decision to step down from his position in the Ministry.

Power Rules

In all organisations, including politics, there is a system of power rules in play. These power rules, like most other rules in society, have been developed through the powerful positioning of white men over a long period of time. (Please note, this article is about the sexual harassment of a woman. The Author recognises such power rules can impact on men, women of colour, men of colour, LGBTI people and people with a disability and other marginalised and disadvantaged groups).

Some of the “Power Rules” in play for the case of Briggs are “Legitimate Power” (power given to a person due to their position) and possibly “Coercive Power” (this is power where the holder of this power may have an influence on career choices etc., Coercive power is often used in a negative way, such as threats of demotion or non-recommendations etc.,). This is a little more complex, as it has many dynamics. Even if coercive power is not direct; a woman needs to face the decision if her complaint will be detrimental to her work-life due to the coercive power of those associated with the aggressor. This is intensified when the aggressor displays the perception that they have such power, (perception of power) even if it is not legitimate.

Unwanted sexual advances and sexual harassment of women, intimidates and creates fear at a personal level and has implications at the work level. In cases where unwanted sexual behaviour and the workplace collide, intimidation and fear may also impact the victim’s work-life.  Often, this is a source of non-complaint, where women feel reporting an incident of sexual behaviour is not worth the risk.  The use of power rules, particularly coercive power in workplaces can have a dramatic impact on a woman’s self efficacy to report unwanted behaviour in the workplace.  This should not be delegitimised by shifting the focus of attention to the opinion of the Briggs’ wife.

How women can be used to deligimitise other women’s experiences

Turning the focus to Briggs’ wife takes our attention off the victim. It takes the focus off the victim’s discomfort, powerlessness and distress. The victim should remain the most important person in relation to Briggs’ behaviour, not his wife, mother, aunt or any other women who may be used take the attention off Briggs’ own behaviour.

Also, bringing a third party (wife) into the scenario, this act of abuse of power resulting in humiliation, discomfort and distress, for the victim, diminishes Briggs’ behaviour to the opinion of the third party (wife) and not the opinion of the victim.

Turning the focus to the opinion of the wife, also diminishes the behaviour of the aggressor, when we ask, “What does his wife think about this?”

If Briggs’ was a single man would the media or other male politicians diminish his behaviour by using excuses such as, ‘he was only looking for a soul mate’ ‘She (the victim) must have read him wrong’ etc., etc.,  as we have seen many times before.

If the behaviour of sexual advance/harassment by men in power cannot be diminished or excused due to ‘bachelorhood’, the next step is normally, to seek to diminish the behaviour through the support of other women in their lives; usually starting with the wife.

As with Bill Clinton, question’s raised in people’s mind’s about Hilary Clinton, “Is it her fault?” “Is she not being ‘good wife'”, “Is the wife ‘not meeting his needs'” etc., etc.,  All these questions raised in various people’s minds puts the onus on a third party (wife) and lets the male aggressor off the hook.  

Referent Power

All politicians and the people who market them desire for them to have ‘Referent Power.’ In a nutshell, referent power is about charisma and using that charisma to influence others and build loyalty (voters). When men are in public life, it is very important for others to try to re-establish referent power  for the (fallen) individual male in question as soon as possible.  The culture of sexual harassment is still dominated by the needs of the male (ie how complaints about their behaviour will affect their career. What will happen to the man now?). Seeking the opinion of supportive wives, other supportive women and supportive prominent men who may reinforce the ‘goodness and wholesomeness’ of the aggressor, reinforces this culture.

Focusing on male behaviour paves the way for a cultural shift

As a woman, I will not pass judgement on wives of men, where the men have a question of sexual behaviour or any other indiscretion associated with their power above them.

As a woman, I will not pass judgement on wives of men who are in positions of significant power.  “Power Rules” exist in the wife’s external environment (political face and an extension of the husband’s work-life) and internal environment (power and control within a relationship). The layers of ‘power rules’ women, as wives of men in power must negotiate, is complex.

For people judging Briggs’ wife’s support for her husband, the illusion of how high her own moral bar is held, simply cannot and should not be judged. She could very well be subject to power rules and her ‘morals or ethics’ could be set at a very different level in private. (In saying, that her moral bar is completely irrelevant). In making any judgements about the wife’s opinion and her morals, we are simply condemning another woman caught in the same power rules as the victim. Power rules created by powerful men. We also remove support from the victim, by shifting our focus away from the unwanted, unsolicited sexual behaviour perpetrated by a man in power.

The only woman I have concern for, and the only woman who should be in our focus is the victim.

It should be continuously acknowledged that Briggs’ behaviour and men who display the same behaviours make women feel uncomfortable in their own spaces, fearful, frightened, powerless and even ashamed.

It should be continuously acknowledged that Briggs’ behaviour and men who display the same behaviours make women fearful, intimidated and distressed about how these unwanted behaviours will impact on their own career progression and work.

It should be continuously acknowledged that Briggs’ behaviour and the men who display the same behaviours view women, not as workers, but as sexual objects.  This diminishes a woman’s entire gamut of knowledge, skills, abilities and personal attributes a woman possesses in her workplace. This in turn, diminishes the value of a woman’s labour at work. These men should not be part of public life, particularly where they influence legislation pertaining to women and work, such as Briggs was in the Howard era. (Chief advisor in the Prime Minister’s office on Industrial Relations / Work Choices).

(On an aside note, It brings to question, if Briggs’ Work Choices work, is the motivation for Turnbull promoting an Abbott supporting right wing man.)

Briggs, a man, so hell bent on the idea of Merit as opposed to Quotas, in particular really needs this reinforced over and over and over again, until he ‘gets it.’   Ironically, Jamie Briggs’ own behaviour makes him a shining example of why we do indeed need quotas for women in politics.

The focus in the case of Briggs’ resignation should always be about condemning Briggs’ behaviour and concern and empathy for the victim. Sexual Harassment by men, particularly by men in positions of power needs a cultural shift and that shift should start now.

The Challenge for the New Minister for Women

we can do it turnbull

 

Today we welcome a new Minister for Women – Senator Michaelia Cash.  In December 2013, I wrote a letter to the then Prime Minister and Minister for Women, Tony Abbott.  I outlined quite extensively my concerns for legal discrimination and discrimination by default. I received a very prompt response from Senator Claire Moore of Labor which was very comprehensive and addressed all of my concerns.

 

However, I still awaited a response from the Minister for Women who said that “Women do not suffer legal discrimination in Australia.” After months of requesting a response, Senator Larissa Waters from the Greens took up my case via email to me. Finally, in April 2014 I received a response from Senator Michaela Cash, Minister assisting the Minister for Women.  I thank Senator Waters for her tenacity and persistence.

Senator Cash advised me in her letter that the Liberal National Coalition is “committed to delivering policies that ensure both women and men have equal opportunities to contribute to society and live free from all forms of discrimination.” 

In her letter to me, she also praised the work of Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick and noted, “Elizabeth Broderick has demonstrated leadership on a number of issues raised in your (my) letter.”

Elizabeth Broderick’s term as Sex Discrimination commissioner ended in September 2015 and to my knowledge a replacement is yet to be appointed.  The Attorney General, George Brandis told the Debrief Daily, that a replacement was under consideration, but no announcement at this point.  This is just two days prior the Commissioner’s post being vacated.  The Office for the Minister for Women does not appear to be keen to source and push for a replacement, knowing a vacant chair was immenent, for a Commissioner who has done such great work.

Senator Cash also advised me in her letter that her Government has also “Made a number of commitments that will seek to drive forward gender equality in Australia.” Senator Cash then outlined a number of policy priorities.  As this is 15 months after this letter was penned, let’s have a look at Senator Cash’s responses and how they stack up.  I see these as challenges for the new Minister for Women:

Relocating the Office for Women – This was advised by Senator Cash to be one of the “first priorities and a key election commitment.”  Senator Cash advised that this will “Strengthen a whole-of-government approach to providing better economic and social outcomes for women and sends a strong message across government about the need to consider women in the development and implementation of policies and programmes”

How did this stack up? – Unfortunately, this priority has not achieved the outcomes it said it would.  The strong message sent across government with one, then two women in Cabinet reduced this strong message to a whisper.  When we take into consideration the number of women in Cabinet who identify as a feminist and actually sincerely believe in gender equality then this strong message is merely tokenism and placed on mute.

At the time of Senator Cash’s response, women in leadership roles were sparse. However, today, the new Prime Minister has now in increased the number of women in cabinet to six, which is now a makeup of 22% women and 78% men. This still leaves a lot to be desired in terms of commitment to policy input by women.

The better social and economic outcomes are not evident from this move and there are quite a number of budget cuts and policies, which are harmful to women. Cuts to family payment, the attacks on government paid parental leave, cuts to funding to community services such as “Girls Time Out” in my community, which assists young pregnant mothers to name a few. (GTO has since been refunded after a fight brought on by the State Labor member for Keppel).

Pregnancy discrimination, Paid Parental Leave and Lifetime Earnings – Senator Cash agreed with me that we must reject discrimination against pregnant women in the workplace. Senator Cash then outlined the Liberal’s panacea for all things women – the Paid Parental Leave Scheme and directed me to a report by the Sex Discrimination Commissioner’s Supporting Working Parents: Pregnancy and Return to work National Review.

However, Senator Cash did not mention in her letter that this review was instigated by the Attorney General on 22nd June, 2013; which at that time was Labor’s Mark Dreyfus.

On 22 June 2013, the Attorney-General’s Department asked the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, on behalf of the Australian Human Rights Commission to conduct a national review on the prevalence, nature and consequences of discrimination in relation to pregnancy at work and return to work after parental leave 

How did this stack up? – As we know the Liberal’s panacea to all things women, the PPL, was abandoned by the Government and they also went on an attack on women who had already bargained with their employer for PPL and screamed that they were ‘double dippers.’  This is a derogatory term, aimed to stigmatize women. Not the Government’s greatest achievement.

As per the pregnancy discrimination issues raised in my letter; as discussed above, it appears the Liberal Government has done no work of its own in this area and the work was commissioned by Labor.   The findings certainly have not been in the forefront of the Government’s agenda and to this point remain relatively silent, unless you make an active choice to read the report.

Productivity Commission Inquiry into Childcare – Senator Cash directed me to the Productivity Commission Inquiry into childcare.  At this point, it was in the early stages and was not expected to be finalised until February 2015. I found this inclusion a little confusing.  I had not raised any specific concerns about childcare affordability etc., in my initial letter.  My concerns were mainly specific to the discrimination of pregnant women in the workforce, the impacts of the casualisation of women and the impacts and discrimination experienced by women returning to work from maternity leave. The questions I raised were not specific to the childcare framework, but more focused on missed opportunities for training, promotion and leadership, breastfeeding discrimination and negative and inappropriate comments from managers and supervisors. However, after a review of the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Childcare recommendations, none of these recommendations addressed my concerns.

How did this stack up? – In this instance, the Minister assisting the Minister for women, read my concerns as affordability of childcare and did not address some of the ingrained cultural issues within workplaces, enabled by existing legislation to redress discrimination for women in the workplace. Although, the recommendations have not been developed into policy at this stage, some of the recommendations concern me within the wider framework.

The recommendations aim to encourage all mothers to return to work. There is little support in terms of policy direction from the Government for women to stay at home. Under both the Liberal and the Labor Governments, the choice to mother at home has been taken away from women who want to provide a stable, continuous home environment for their children, by forcing mothers to return to work. In regional areas, there is not the support structures, transport infrastructure or jobs to place this additional burden on single mothers. Some mothers from low socio-economic backgrounds do not have their own transport or support network. This policy direction does not place women at the centre of the debate and should be a supported choice to return to work, not a regulated forced requirement to obtain income to support self and child/ren, which in my view discriminates against women who want to make the choice to stay at home.  This choice is afforded to wealthier women, who have the privilege of a second income that can sustain both mother and child at home.

The entire policy framework of women and work is from one of ableism and is not supportive of women with a disability. With no Disability Commissioner and none named in the new Turnbull Cabinet Ministery, I fear this will not be redressed.

Another concern is that child care payment is always viewed as a combined income situation. To overlay this against the concerns we have at present with the rise of domestic violence, I strongly believe it would be pertinent for the government to review this to support women to be able to independently earn their own income. Not all women, have access to income or shared income in all situations and financial control is a common factor amongst victims of domestic violence. Please view the recommendations linked above.

Women on Boards – Senator Cash outlined in her response that “the Government is committed to supporting women into leadership roles, and we are engaging with the business and community sector to support women’s representation of leadership and on boards.”  Senator Cash also informed me that the government is engaging with the National Women’s Alliances.

How did this stack up? – Senator Cash advised they were working with the National Women’s Alliances. This alliance was formed by the Gillard Government in 2010. Senator Cash may not have known at the time of her response to me, but regardless, this alliance’s funding will now cease in 2016.  As a woman from a regional community, I hope as Minister for Women she will announce the refunding of this alliance.

Violence against women – Senator Cash assured me that, “A key priority of our policy agenda is to ensure that women and their families are safe from violence.” Senator Cash also reassured me that they are continuing with the previous Labor plan to reduce domestic violence. I also note that Senator Cash advised that they have increased funding to White Ribbon.

How did this stack up? –  The nation is aware that we have a domestic violence epidemic with a very high number of women violently murdered in a domestic violence situation so far this year. The Government has remained relatively silent on this issue and has not championed any real commitment to assisting women at risk of or fleeing domestic violence. Some of my concerns: cuts to family payment, increasing financial pressure in homes, the four week waiting period for Newstart, which will see young women at risk of homelessness and violence, the cuts to Indigenous legal aid (now refunded), cuts to community programs which are vital to support for young women. The increasing casualisation of women in the workforce, providing little stability for families and the lack of seriousness in responding to developing a committed immediate framework and funding much needed and required services.

Women at Risk – This is a response to women fleeing as asylum seekers and the discrimination within the current processing framework (for more detail see original letter linked in the opening paragraph). Senator Cash advised that they have a “Continuing objective of the empowerment of women” and they have increased 1000 places for women at risk in their humanitarian intake.

Senator Cash also advised that “the Government will ensure that Australia’s refugee and humanitarian resettlement program provides places to those we can help most and those most in need.”  Senator Cash did recognise that women and children are the most vulnerable in this group and “deserve to be given a very high priority in Australia’s refugee and humanitarian program.”

How did this stack up? – To date, the Government has been marred by accusations of the inhumane treatment to asylum seekers. The Human Rights Commissioner’s report and Senator Hanson Young’s vocal reporting into the conditions in camps and other professionals speaking up about ill-treatment and abuse, physical and sexual of women in camps, the secrecy and lack of empathy by the Government gives me no confidence at all that the Office of Women considers women seeking asylum, with any seriousness or commitment. This needs to be urgently addressed, in light of recent developments.

What was not addressed in Senator Cash’s response

There were a number of areas not addressed at all in Senator Cash’s response to my original letter. These are discrimination for women pertaining to the areas of:

  • Rape and the Justice System
  • Denial of right to safety
  • Casualisation of the workforce and insecure employment
  • Gender Pay Gap, including lower wages in ‘traditional women’s industries’
  • Superannuation
  • Marriage Equality
  • Indigenous specific issues I outlined relating to many of the above areas and support for mothers and children of the stolen generation.
  • Abortion Law
  • The under-representation of women in Parliament

How did this stack up? – Frankly, I felt a long-awaited response from the Government, which took the tenacity of Senator Larissa Waters to take up my cause and finally receive a response from the Office of Women months later, was disappointing to receive so many areas not addressed. Also, as you can see in the other responses outlined above, I was disappointed that the Government claimed ownership of Labor initiated programs and reviews, through absence of this information and 15 months on, no real progress in policy to redress discrimination for women.

I will never know if the former Prime Minister and Minister for Women, still believed that “Women do not suffer legal discrimination” after considering the matters raised in my original letter, as this was not addressed.

Where to now? – I hope that the new Minister for Women does believe that women do indeed suffer legal discrimination and discrimination by default.  Personally after Senator Cash’s tirade on the ‘sisterhood’ in the senate, my personal preference would have been Marise Payne to take on this role, as I believe Senator Payne has spoken out on a number of occassions with seriousness on issues that women face. I hope as Minister for Women, Senator Cash changes her rhetoric and attack as displayed in this video. Otherwise, she cannot be taken seriously in this role.  

I hope that now Senator Cash is the Minister for Women, she has more scope to tackle head on some of these areas that need to be addressed urgently.

I fear that the impacts from the Government’s wider policy in welfare, humanitarian programs, social support programs, education and health are ingrained in an ideology harmful to women. I seriously doubt many of these areas I have outlined as my concerns for equality for women can be redressed, as these wider policy frameworks coupled with the rhetoric and narrative of the Government can and do act as antecedents and enablers of discrimination to women.

I strongly believe that the liberal and conservative ideology of the Liberal National Coalition impedes and prevents proper progress in the area of equality for women and a change of Government is the only solution. However, only time will tell.

Mr. Abbott – These People Had a More Difficult Day Than Bronny.

bad dayThis afternoon, Sunday 2nd August, 2015, Bronwyn Bishop, resigned as Speaker of the House, after public pressure over an expense scandal.

Tony Abbott, Prime Minister, told Australians that “it had been a ‘very difficult day’ for Mrs Bishop.”  I’d like to take this opportunity to share with Tony Abbott the range of people who have also had a ‘very difficult day’ today because of the cuts and broken promises and poor decisions of the Prime Minister and his Government.

 

  1. Asylum Seekers on Manus Island and Naaru living in squalor in detention indefinitely.
  2. The young person on Newstart who will starve for a month because they have no welfare income.
  3. The young person in Regional Australia who has run out of petrol and is stranded, because the only service station that takes a Basics Card is closed.
  4. The Single Mother who is waiting until Wednesday to buy milk and bread because her payments have been reduced.
  5. The person with a disability who has been transferred to Newstart who has to decide between eating and petrol, because if they don’t go to their ‘obligated inhouse training’ they will get cut off.
  6. The woman Asylum seeker who is so ashamed she is crying because she isn’t allowed a sanitary napkin, because the Guard said she can’t have one.
  7. The low and middle income earner pensioner who is stressed and upset about their future after pension cuts.
  8. The woman with postnatal depression who no longer can go to her counselling sessions because she can’t get childcare because she isn’t working or studying.
  9. The jobless Australians worried that work if even further from their reach because of your China Trade Deal
  10. The chronic pain sufferer who is going without and living in pain due to increases in medication
  11. The Federal Public Servants you sacked who are worried they will lose their home because they can’t find another job
  12. Indigenous Australians in Remote Communities because you have denied them basic essential services and who will have nowhere to live because you are closing remote communities.
  13. Sexually Abused women and children Asylum Seekers in detention because you failed to act on abuse claims
  14. The homeless person on Newstart stressing they won’t be able to eat when they get cut off, because their personal life barriers are a hindrance to applying for 20 jobs per month
  15. The Jobless South Australians who could be employed building submarines but they are still jobless.
  16. The Mother who is worried that she can’t afford to take her child to the doctor because the bulk-billing centre is full and you have put up Medicare through the back door
  17. The 756,100 jobless in Australia
  18. Young unemployed people in Regional Australia doing twice as many hours of slave labour with no workers comp protections under Work for the Dole
  19. The Bushfire and Cyclone victims whose lives will never be the same because they didn’t qualify for disaster assistance after your changes to disaster assistance criteria
  20. Everyday Citizens in local communities who no longer have access to services or maintained roads due to your cuts to Local Councils

That is just a list of 20 examples of people who don’t just have a difficult day, they have a difficult day every single day whilst your Government is hurting everyday Australians.  Please call an election. It’s not just the Speaker who needed to go. Your entire Government needs to go.

 

Boys Club Beneficiary Gives Opinion On Quotas and the Quality Of Women

abbott-on-womenThis week we have witnessed white people instructing Aboriginal people about what is or is not racism. We have witnessed the Speaker of the House who has been exposed to be a serial breaker of rules, receive backing from the Prime Minister to remain in the job which will decide who else breaks the rules. Now we have Jamie Briggs, Member for Mayo, a former PM staffer elevated into a blue ribbon seat by The Boys Club, giving his opinion on ‘quotas and the quality of women in parliament.’  Has the world gone mad?

Just like Ron Boswell on Q & A last week; Jamie Briggs, Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development – is the perfect example of an ignorant, shouty, self-important, narcissistic male politician who thinks they can either talk over the top of women, or view what women have to say as irrelevant. Politicians such as Briggs think that the only opinion that matters is the opinion of conservative men. Politicians like Briggs believe that politics is the rightful place of men. Such audacity coming from a man who was projected into a safe Liberal seat by the Liberal Party Boys Club. You can read the expose of Briggs’ trashy comments by Max Chalmers here in The New Matilda.  

Politicians such as Briggs take a dig at a Quota system, but he doesn’t stop for a minute to acknowledge ‘jobs for the boys’ as quota based at all.  He must have a short memory or must be extremely ignorant if he believes that Springborg was appointed Leader of Queensland LNP over Fiona Simpson, based on merit. He must amnesia if he can’t remember The Liberal Party Boys Club – the prominent and powerful men who backed his own candidate bid for the seat of Mayo.

Let’s have a quick look at the members of the Boys Club who helped out their mate Briggs:

Downer stepped down from the front bench after the election and announced his resignation from parliament on July 14, 2008, initiating a by-election on September 6. The Liberal preselection was won by Jamie Briggs, whose work in the Prime Minister’s Office as chief adviser on industrial relations linked him closely and perhaps dangerously with the development of WorkChoices. Backed by John Howard, Alexander Downer and state party operative Chris Kenny, Briggs won the pre-selection vote in the seventh round by 157 to 111 over Iain Evans, former state Opposition Leader and member for Davenport. The Australian reported Briggs was pushed over the line by the preferences of third-placed Matt Doman, a former staffer to Right faction warlord Senator Nick Minchin. (Exerpt Courtesy of Crikey)

So there we go, a PM staffer winning a candidate bid over a former experienced State Opposition Leader. I’m sure it is all merit based.  Let’s weigh the candidate bid up: Giving advice to the PM on the worst Industrial Relations Policy Australia has ever had (Briggs) versus experience as a former State Opposition Leader and experience as the Minister for Environment & Heritage, Industry & Trade and Recreation, Sport and Racing (Evans). Yep, checks out as merit based. Nothing Boys-Club-Smelly about that at all.

I often think of ‘jobs for the boys’ like this:

Hubby and his mates are sitting on the couch watching the television. His wife has just cooked a delicious meal which hubby and the boys have just finished. His wife has just baked a chocolate cake for desert and places it on the coffee table in front of them.  His wife goes off to clean up all the dirty plates, wash up, sweep and mop the floor.  When his wife finishes all the work, she goes into the lounge-room for her piece of cake.  There is one piece just sitting there. She steps towards it. Hubby puts his hand over the top of the cake. “Hang on love.” He says.  “Any of you boys want another?” The boys all nod in agreement. Hubby then has a joke and a tussle around with the boys and they all decide which one of boys gets the last piece. It was Dave.

The moral of the story is: No matter how great a woman’s work is, or how much hard work women do, often, when men are in power to decide what women get for their efforts; they will have a woman’s cake and eat it too.

At the ALP National Conference last weekend, the ALP decided to raise the bar and achieve 50% of women in parliament by 2025.  In light of this, some Liberal Party women are also pushing for an increase. This is not a new push for Liberal Party women. Liberal Party women have raised this issue many times before. In light of this fact, I question why this is not a prominent topic for discussion, considering the Liberal Party are in Government and the leader of their party is indeed the Minister for Women.  It could possibly be that the boys are too busy eating cake.

I have outlined some of the reasons why we need to redress the imbalance of women in politics and I have outlined some of the challenges faced by women in the Liberal party.  I have also briefly outlined my personal view, that we need to ensure that we use quotas in a fair and just way.

It is concerning that not only are women under-represented in Australian politics, but Australia is ranked number 44/142 countries for women in national parliaments.  According to UNWomen in Politics 2015; Australia only has 26.7% of women in Parliament.

The Australian Government Office for Women, which is part of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet; aims to ensure a whole-of-government approach to providing better economic and social outcomes for women.

However, the analysis by Waring et. al. of the Inter-Parliamentary Union of women in politics; would indicate the Australian Government Office for Women is not well placed to achieve these aims, due to under-representation of women in Parliament, and an absence of a system to redress the imbalance.

I have outlined the reasons below:

    • If women are not present at policy and decision-making levels, there is a democratic deficit. Decisions taken without women’s perspective lack credibility in a democratic context
    • The participation of women leads to a new perspective and a diversity of contributions to policy-making and to priorities of development, and it gives the female population a role in deciding the future of their country and the rights and opportunities for their gender.
    • A democracy which excludes women, or in which women are represented only marginally, is not a real democracy. Women’s participation in policymaking is a question of justice and equality
    • Women’s greater participation would impact upon the traditional values held by men. Sharing of power and responsibilities would become reality. Political meetings and programmes would be scheduled to take into account domestic responsibilities of both men and women.

In the current Government we are now faced with very little representation of women in Government.  Margaret Fitzherbert’s lecture (APH, 2012) outlines many reasons why the Liberal party lags behind in representation.  The main reasons are:

    • No persistent pressure to pre-select women
    • Liberal party culture – a culture which largely tolerates branch members asking women candidates for preselection questions about their parental and marital status.

Margaret Fitzherbert sums up with, “It’s time for the Liberals to take a lesson from the past – acknowledge the problem, and stop relying on a blind faith in ‘merit’ to somehow provide a sudden increase in numbers of  female MPs.” 

I believe a holistic approach is required.  To achieve equality, it is essential to determine the issues for women electorate by electorate, branch by branch.  Not just review the policies and procedures and place a blanket decision of quotas on all.   What may occur in an inner-Melbourne seat, may not occur in a far north QLD seat for example.  The reasons women may or may not put their hand up for selection, may also differ from seat to seat. To achieve a redress of the imbalance, this issue cannot be looked at in isolation, nor can it be looked at from a top down approach.

To redress this imbalance, all parties need to have an in-depth look at the culture within each branch and determine branches where this is an issue.  Although there will be branches where women simply will not feel empowered; there will be some branches or electorates for all parties where there may not be a problem for women to feel encouraged to nominate, or be selected.  There is no point going in blind and hitting electorates willy-nilly with quotas.  I’m all for quotas, but quotas need to be used as a respectful tool, to redress the imbalance.  All parties need to understand the underlying constructs of the problem by fixing the imbalance from ground level as well.

We also need to use quotas in a fair and just way so talented men do not get shut out either, or it defeats the purpose. If a tool such as quotas was used as a power-play to politicise the selection of a seat, that is not fair, nor just, nor used for its rightful purpose.  For example, if the tool of quotas was used to keep an Indigenous male out of the race, or a homosexual man out of the race or a male candidate who may champion green energy, where many branch members supported coal based energy; I would feel very strongly that this makes a mockery of all the women who have fought for equality. This is why it is very important to understand this issue from ground level as well.

Prominent leaders and executives cannot lead this change with a laizze-faire leadership style.  They need to roll their sleeves up and meet with women in branches to understand the culture at ground level, as well as revise policy.  A risk management system, along with a system of appeal needs to be put into place.

A review of the 2013 federal election, indicates that The Green’s party ran slightly more women candidates, but no party had more than 50% of women candidates.  The number of candidates run also needs to be contextualised into ‘seats that can be won’ against ‘seats that never will be’  There would be no point increasing the number of women candidates in a left party and allocating them to blue ribbon seats and vice versa.  A holistic approach is required.

Some positive steps are occurring, but I wait in angst in the hope that a fair, well informed and inclusive system is achieved to redress this imbalance.

Jamie Briggs also needs to go check himself if he thinks for one second that women find his opinion on quotas valid or important.

Work Life Balance – Economic Crisis

Persistent work strain Australian mothers

Flexibility and work life interference

Ten Questions for Cory Bernardi and Penny Wong

cory penny

Yesterday, along with many others I watched the much anticipated marriage equality debate between Cory Bernardi and Penny Wong.  I found some of the questions from the press gallery quite predictable. I felt the questions did not really challenge what marriage equality may mean for us as we progress as a nation. I have put together ten questions I would have liked to have asked Cory Bernardi and Penny Wong.   

Cory Bernardi and Penny Wong Same-Sex Marriage Debate ABC TV 29 July 2015

 

Question 1 – Twelve Year Olds
Many young people dream of their wedding.  Even at twelve years old I dreamt of my wedding and would often gaze at a good looking boy in my class and wonder if it would be him.  If marriage equality becomes the norm, how will the world change for all twelve year olds?

Question 2 – Is it time to really scrutinise marriage?
Marriage as currently defined, has no specific parameters of what that actually means, besides the union of a man and a woman.  If a man and a woman are married, they can live a life as a sham. They do not need to sleep in the same bed or even live in the same home or even town.  They do not have to share parenting, or be good parents or even be parents and there is always a contentious argument of if and when the housework is actually shared equally.  Heterosexual married couples do not even have to treat each other with respect or endearment. They do not even have to be in love.

My question is, if we do not question the validity of what marriage means, outside of the bringing together of gender opposites, then why is the anti-marriage equality side constantly debating the morals, scruples and behaviour of the LGBTQI community who would like to be married? If this is such a strong area of concern, how do we redress the imbalance here if the anti-marriage equality advocates do succeed? Should we have more scrutiny of heterosexual married couples?

Question 3 – Gender Transformation
If an individual who is married decides to undertake the journey of gender transformation; what do the current laws mean for the married couple if they want to stay together, if both individuals identify and are legally recognised as the same gender?  How will marriage equality have an impact on individuals who undertake the journey of gender transformation,and their spouse?

Question 4 – Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is a very prominent issue in Australia at present.  Domestic violence is often discussed in terms of between a man and a woman, rather than between two people. There is now a shift in reports and language surrounding intimate partner violence, which includes same sex relationships.  How will marriage equality assist Governments to legislate for protections for all people in domestic violence situations and enable Governments to fund programs inclusive for all victims of domestic violence?

Question 5 – Atonement
Because it is 2015 and Australia still does not have marriage equality, there may be some LGBTQI people in our community who have felt they could not just ‘be who they are’ and may have chosen to live a life married in a heterosexual relationship for whatever reasons they decided this was best for them.  If marriage equality is achieved, is it fair to say that there may be some resentment from those who feel they have been forced to make decisions they would not have had to? Is it fair to say that by not recognising marriage equality earlier, we have not allowed people to live a full life with freedom of individual expression and decision making and how do we as a nation atone for this?

Question 6 – A parent’s perspective
As a mother to a newly engaged daughter, my excitement is over-whelming awaiting the wedding. Weddings are something which do bring family and friends together for such a celebration of love and happiness. Weddings are seen as a key milestone for so many.  I see myself as someone who is privileged to enjoy this excitement and my heart pains for mothers and fathers who do not have this privilege. From the perspective as a parent, how does a Government see their role in interfering in such a personal, individual celebration of love which is only afforded to mothers and fathers given this privilege? This question is particularly for Senator Bernardi, considering his Government favours small Government and is supposed to favour distancing themselves from interference in the private sphere.

Question 7 – Our social fabric
One of the biggest arguments for marriage equality is that it will end discrimination and enable equality for all.  As per my last question, marriage is currently for those privileged to do so under our laws.  If we do not allow same-sex couples to ‘be’ as heterosexual couples are allowed to just ‘be’ then our social fabric will always be woven from those in a position of privilege.  How can our social fabric ever be complete when we are unconscious of a discourse that is currently silent about love, understanding and togetherness for all? How will marriage equality assist to weave our social fabric or in Senator Bernardi’s case destroy our social fabric?

Question 8 – Regional and Rural communities
I live in a regional community and I am aware that as I have aged over the years, many friends from my younger days have moved on to live in capital cities where communities are generally more supportive of LGBTQI Individuals, as regional and rural communities have not been very supportive in their experience. Some studies also cite very harsh treatment towards LGBTQI people who reside in regional and rural communities with some contemplating suicide or sadly, taking their own lives. What impact will marriage equality have on LGBTQI individuals living in rural and regional communities and what impact will marriage equality have in shaping these communities as a whole?

Question 9 – A Government’s responsibility to understand all groups in society
Although liberal feminism has achieved some great progress for women; liberal feminism was criticised by women of colour for excluding their lived experiences of discrimination and their need to redress areas of discrimination. This is because liberal feminists made assumptions from the perspective of middle class white women. Feminism has evolved to now women of colour having a much stronger voice and leading the issues in many areas of feminism. Including more experiences from a broader range of individuals can only result in better informed legislation.  There are many areas of social policy and statistics collections where research assumptions are made on research and data collected from a heteronormative viewpoint.  For example, there is little data to understand issues for single mothers who were previously in a same-sex relationship.

As it is the Government’s responsibility to develop social policies and legislate for same; isn’t it also the Government’s responsibility to ensure they have an understanding of all groups in society? How will marriage equality impact on the development of social policy and legislation of same? If Cory Bernardi believes these groups should be excluded by default by not having marriage equality legislation to redress this imbalance, does he support ill-informed legislation and policies?

Question 10 – Tolerance and conscience vote versus binding vote.
Anthony Albanese (Albo) on ABC Qanda on 1 June indicated in his response to a question about marriage equality and a conscience vote, is that we need to tolerate and respect the views of others to bring them along with us.  We have many different pieces of legislation which already make discrimination unlawful. Therefore, the battle against discrimination and inequality has been won on many fronts with political parties or Governments coming together to legislate for change to enable equality.

My question is about a conscience vote versus a binding vote. I question whether a conscience vote is a necessary patience, or a subconscious accommodation for the class of people who understand discrimination well enough in other contexts; but not when it involves stamping out discrimination for something they fear.  The same class of people who use religion, ignorance and/or prejudice as a shield to ward off progress.   As a progressive, I do not feel I need to respect groups or individuals who actively fight against progress and who uphold discrimination.

So my question is: How do Governments or even political parties make the decision about what is characterised to be morally and ethically sufficient or insufficient to determine whether a binding vote or conscience vote will be used?  Also, to truly progress, how tolerant should we be of all views?

How will you vote?

It’s Google official – Tony Abbott is a stupid thing

I Boatphoneusually write a blog post when I am driven by something within me that is so passionate, I simply have to write.  Which is usually everyday, but I often refrain to reflect for a while. I try to write from an individualistic perspective.  I don’t want to churn out the same stories as everyone else. Hence, I do refrain from writing about Tony Abbott’s lack of ………lack of…….well anything really. There are so many stories day after day which address our Prime Minister’s blatant incompetence and complete idiocy. It appears as if every Tom, Dick and Harriette in the country is completely tuned into the fact that Tony Abbott is a stupid thing.  This has extended to funny but accurate Youtube posts, Cartoons, American comedy channels, prominent newspapers in the USA and now it is even Google Official.

Yes, Tony Abbott is the top return for “Stupid Things.”  If you type “Stupid things” in the search bar, Google will tell you straight away, Tony Abbott is the most stupidest thing in the Google-verse.

stupid things

Landry’s “Gunna-Do” Rhetoric Harms Capricornia

NOPE NOPE NOPEMichelle Landry must think the more she repeats something people will believe it to be true.  Landry praises herself for whatever work she thinks she is doing in Capricornia for the past 18 months and slams Labor’s record (again TMB 02/07/2015).

Kirsten Livermore spent nine years in opposition. It speaks volumes to how the Howard Govt ignored this area, just as much as the Abbott Govt is.  Landry speaks up against FIFO, Abbott promotes FIFO. Landry apparently speaks up for cyclone damage funding, Abbott shows he doesn’t care, so Landry blames others.  Classic LNP behaviour.

Here are some of Kirsten’s and Labor’s achievements after the removal of the Howard Government (taken as an excerpt from her retirement speech).

RBH – new MR Machine

Contributed 76 million to redevelopment of RBH

Regional Cancer Centre RBH

In partnership with UQ funded the Rural Clinical School

Allied Health clinic at CQU for students in podiatry, oral, health, nutrition, physiotherapy and other disciplines to work alongside QHealth (which we are seeing the benefits of now)

New library and accommodation at Mackay CQU

Total upgrade to library and Engineering building at Rockhampton CQU

Millions towards the merger of CQU and TAFE to be the first dual sector university in QLD (for which LNP have opened and taken the glory for)

Initiative of Medicare local, which closes the gaps left by the withdrawal of funding by the Howard Govt (Which Landry has stood by and has let it leave our area)

Headspace Rockhampton (Which now faces uncertainty due to funding cuts)

A generous sponsor for Beef Expo

Funding support to meatworks and Mackay sugar to upgrade facilities for quality and innovation

$120 Million to upgrade and improve the Bruce Highway (Howard Govt gave only $6 million for Peak Downs Highway between Mackay and the Bowen Basin coal mines)

Lifting of the Highway at the southern end of Rockhampton (and LNP took all the glory for that one too)

This is not an exhaustive list.  Maybe Ms. Landry should have a rethink before she states that Ms. Livermore and Labor did nothing.  The nothing years were under Howard, just as they have been under Abbott and Landry. Sure Landry is in the paper every single day saying “she is gunna do this and gunna do that,” but then she fails to deliver or Abbott doesn’t listen.

What Landry does work hard at and proudly votes for is everything that will damage Capricornian families and services.

Landry votes for cuts to health, cuts to education, cuts to pensions and family payments, $100,000 university degrees, cuts to ABC and SBS, punitive and abhorrent jobseeker policies, removing Medicare Locals from our region and moving it to Sunshine Coast and vocally stands in the way of marriage equality, to name just a few.

Bring it on I say.  Not only I will be giving Leisa Neaton my number 1 vote but I will be  speaking up for Leisa everywhere I go and encouraging as many people as I can to do so as well. As Leisa’s new slogan says #CapricorniaCounts and that I believe in.

Also sent for consideration as a letter to the Editor of The Rockhampton Morning Bulletin.

Tony Abbott – The Warring Galah from Warringah

If there is one thing about Tony Abbott he loves a good fight.  He reminisces proudly of his boxing days and of his ‘sledging’ days of his youth; citing this as his only ability as a cricketer. “I couldn’t bat, I couldn’t bowl, I couldn’t field, but I could sledge….”  

He has a long history of attacking the Rudd & Gillard Governments as opposition leader.  He has forever ingrained in history a record of attacking Julia Gillard as a person and as a woman to the point Gillard felt compelled to give her famous misogyny speech.

For this inherent trait of his ability to attack, degrade, sledge and harm he is hailed as a great leader by those who are loyal to the destructive cause, I will refer to for the purpose of this article as, “The Liberal National Coalition Government.”

Born in England, it is obvious that his heart and head rest snugly within the bosom of the Motherland. Since becoming Prime Minister he has made a number of ‘Captain’s Calls.‘ He has brought back the outdated practice of awarding Knights and Dames and he has awarded Prince Philip a Knighthood (probably one of the most bizarre moments in our history).  

Abbott also ‘ignoramus-splained‘ Sydney to English Prime Minister David Cameron, by describing the history of Sydney as “nothing but bush” before British invasion and called pre-colonisation civilisation “extraordinarily basic and raw”.  

In addition, leading up to his Prime Minister-ship he has left behind an “England-Loving” rhetoric permeated within his speeches:

“Contemporary Australia has well and truly – and rightly – left behind the old cult of forgetfulness about our indigenous heritage. Alas, there is a new version of the great Australian silence – this time about the Western canon, the literature, the poetry, the music, the history and above all the faith without which our culture and our civilisation are unimaginable” (Tony Abbott, 2013 on promising to repeal S18c of the Racial Discrimination Act.)

And

“This is what the poet Tennyson meant when he described England as “a land of just and old renown, a land of settled government where freedom broadens slowly down from precedent to precedent”. At least in the English speaking tradition, liberalism and conservatism, love of freedom and respect for due process, have been easy allies.” (Tony Abbott 2013 on his thoughts on Freedom when he becomes Prime Minister)

It could be argued that as he touched down on our shores from England all those years ago, he looked down his nose at the uncouth Aussie yokels playing around the streets and his English brain interpreted “Ava-go-ya-mug” in quite a literal sense. From that day forth, he has made ‘ava-go-ya-mug’ his main aim.  Not to put in an effort as the Australian colloquialism suggests, but his literal interpretation to “Have a Go”.  From this day forth he has been shadow-boxing, and sledging and ‘having a go’ at almost anyone and anything.  However, he is quite resourceful. He cannot physically do this all on his own; so he has lit little fires all over the place, to ensure Australians are at war with each other. Let’s recap on this short 19 month history of squawking and leading through divide, conquer and stigmatisation.

…..and today, let’s take a look through the round window shall we………..

Stay at Home Mothers vs. Working Mothers.

Mothers have had to endure this war of work or stay at home, since mothers participated in the exchange of real money for their labour.  (I know, it is astounding for some that the labour of mothers can actually have monetary value when they do so much for free!)  In 2013, Abbott had put SAHM’s on a pedestal, promising them better incentives than the existing Labor Policy through the coalition’s Paid Parental Leave scheme.  He described the PPL as “A pro-child, pro-family, pro-growth policy.”  He also cited the PPL as the panacea for the discrimination that women do not experience in Australia.

“I don’t think women suffer legal discrimination and I don’t think anyone these days sets out to do the wrong thing but it is very difficult for women to combine work and family if they don’t have a fair dinkum paid parental leave scheme and that’s going to change very soon under the Coalition.” (Tony Abbott, 3AW September, 2013).

Abbott has now dumped the PPL and favours working women, rather than stay at home women. Pitting these warring mothers against each other of who is the most deserving of Government support.

The Unemployed vs. The Ignorant

The Abbott Government has had an absolute field day with their agenda of stigmatisation of the unemployed. From implying they are lay-a-bout drug taking bludgers who must be tested, to proudly advocating that these lazy good for nothing loafers should #Starve4AMonth (previously known as #Starve4SixMonths).  This has created a public derogatory rhetoric from the ignorant who are convinced by this agenda of stigmatisation. Online we see a war where Jobseekers try to defend themselves from the barrage of insults fuelled by the Abbott Government’s narrative and policy agenda.

The Bigots vs. Muslims / The Bigots vs. The Left

The Abbott Government’s ‘War on Terror’ narrative and policy decisions have created quite a visual and vocal war between bigots and Muslims and bigots and the Left, with the Patriot movements now calling to ‘crush the left’ as well as vilify Muslims.  The leaders of these movements have even taken to supplying followers with free distance education into ‘Who the enemy is – The Left‘ and About the Left (Please watch these videos so you are enlightened by the absolute misunderstanding and confusion of political ideology as used in Australia, a general embarrassing stab at the underlying sociological constructs of the Left and some other weird conspiracy tidbits including the misuse of the Freemason’s symbol and a fat snowman-like capitalist). 

Muslim women have been attacked in public and there has been a rise of the far right movements such as Reclaim Australia, United Patriots Australia etc. These groups are egged on by the silence from the Government against the rise of these movements.  There have been violent clashes in the streets and more are to come.

The Government is purposely ignorant if it does not see how their narrative on national security inflames these movements.  The theme of the Abbott Government is Nationalism purported through ‘secret border security measures’ participating in abhorrent and inhumane treatment of asylum seekers and now the argument to cancel dual citizenship at the whim of a Minister’s discretion. Why should these movements not believe they are above the law when the Government believes they are too?  

These movement are extreme movements.  They now are widening their ‘target group’ from Muslims expanding to include anyone associated with ‘the Left’.  This is a serious concern as not only are their arguments against Muslims very unsound; their attacks on people associated with the left (as you can see from videos posted above) are also fraught with extreme confusion of even the most basic political ideology. The next step will be to broaden the attack on more groups of people.  We have already seen beginnings of this with Indigenous people being attacked and derided.  Yes, we have seen this all before, somewhere around the time of the fall of the Weimar republic; yet Abbott appears to be enjoying this war as it gives voice to his Nationalism rhetoric of fear and disharmony. 

First Australians vs. People who arrived later

Despite being the self-proclaimed “Minister for Indigenous People” Abbott has also lit fires through his discourse relating to Aboriginal people.  He has cut funding to Aboriginal legal aid and other Indigenous organisations and proposing a ‘special Work for the Dole scheme 50 hours a fortnight, five days a week, 12 months of the year for remote Aboriginal communities. He supports the closure of remote Indigenous settlements and has infamously stated that ‘living in a remote community is a lifestyle choice.’  Through his actions and discourse, the conversation between Australians is not a positive one.  It is one where a war rages between Indigenous people, those who stand with Indigenous people and against those who believe through Abbott’s narrative that ‘Australia simply cannot afford the Nation’s First People’ and that Indigenous people are a burden to the taxpayer.

Men vs. Women

Yes, there is a war raging between men and women.  This war is not a general war, but it is specific to the issue of domestic violence.  Tony Abbott has given so many women a glimpse of hope that finally, yes finally in Australia women fleeing in terror from their partners will have some decent support and the expectation of a safe environment.  However, the glimpse was nothing more than that. This quickly turned into lip service as Abbott has continuously shut down debate and pulled funding from domestic violence and preventative services.  This has in turn seen a war rage between men and women as more and more women are voicing their stories and protesting online. Some men are quite indignant that they suffer domestic violence in the same manner and at the same prevalence or even more than women.  Male victims too are feeling ignored and not supported and the victims, both men and women are fighting each other instead of the Government.

Tony Abbott fuels this war by giving a glimmer of  hope and then taking it away. He has fuelled this war by not investing in research, not investing in preventative services, not ensuring positive debate is heard from both men and women and not investing in safe and supportive services for victims of domestic violence; which has left so many who were given a voice for just one moment, screaming out for help. 

It’s Time for the Warring Galah of Warringah to F….fly away
These are just a few examples of how the Warring Galah of Warringah is squawking his message of divisiveness and disharmony to the nation.  These are just a few examples of how he uses sledging to stigmatise minorities and how he uses policy and narrative to appeal to the emotions of those driven by fear and to entrench a Nationalistic psyche in the war on terrorism; and those who fear using their tax dollars to assist even the most desperate groups of people in society. 

These are just a few examples of how the Warring Galah of Warringah starts wars between Australians. Gough Whitlam used the phrase ‘It’s Time’ after a long period of stagnant conservatism within Australia. Yet, here we are just 19 months post election and we can see it is once again Time.  

It’s Time to bring back the Fair Go. It’s Time to bring back the hand up. Its Time to bring back togetherness and standing up for a mate. It’s Time for tolerance and friendship and It’s Time for uniting Australians as one and most of all It’s time for leadership with heart.

The Agenda of Stigmatization is alive and well in Budget 2015

Those who have followed my blog (thank you) will know that a main theme I have addressed in the 2014 Budget is the “Agenda of Stigmatization” by the Liberal National Coalition Government.  The Agenda of Stigmatization is alive and kicking in Budget 2015.  The targets? Women, single parents and working mothers.  

The stigmatization narrative of the Liberal National Government’s Budget 2015 is like a passive aggressive snarl, rather than the brazen punch to the face we received in 2014.

Rorters and Double Dippers

On The Insiders, ABC  (17/05/2015) Barry Cassidy interviewed Joe Hockey on a variety of budget related matters.   The first area that piqued my interest was the matter of Paid Parental Leave.  This policy assists parents, predominantly young women to care for their new born babies for a period prior to returning to work. This was hailed as a major initiative of the Coalition Government.  One where they built on Labor’s Paid Parental Leave Policy and had ‘achieved better and greater than Labor ever could, where it comes to women.’  In fact the coalition stated that:

The Coalition’s paid parental leave scheme will result in a woman earning the average full-time salary of around $65,000 receiving $32,500 – and they will be around $21,300 better off under the Coalition’s scheme relative to Labor’s scheme.

Tony Abbott also famously stated on 3AW in September, 2013, that

“I don’t think women suffer legal discrimination and I don’t think anyone these days sets out to do the wrong thing but it is very difficult for women to combine work and family if they don’t have a fair dinkum paid parental leave scheme and that’s going to change very soon under the Coalition.”

So now they don’t have a “fair dinkum paid parental leave scheme” – what has the Coalition got to offer women?

Now the Coalition has back-flipped on this policy; stating the reason for the back-flip was that they have listened to the community.  Yes, the community needs reliable, affordable childcare, but not at the detriment of already hard fought for entitlements at work.

The negative narrative of parents, primarily women, being ‘rorters and double dippers’ is meant to stigmatise this group so the public believe that working mothers are getting more than their fair share. The Coalition would like the voting taxpayer to believe that mothers are essentially stealing the nation’s taxes.

The narrative here is set to stigmatise, so if they are returned to Government, there will be little outcry from the public, when they reduce or abolish Labor’s Paid Parental Scheme altogether.

Single Parents

Single parents, particularly single mothers are another favourite target group for the Liberal National Government’s agenda of stigmatisation.  We have already had in Budget 2014 attacks on FTB reducing family income for up to $6,000 per year and a the abolishment of FTB once a child has turned six.  In addition, return to work and education supplements, which have been vital in the past to transition single parents into work will also cease. These changes still need to be passed in the Senate and are now linked as savings, which will fund Childcare, in addition to savings found from those on Newstart under 25 having no income for one month.

When the Prime Minister and Minister for Women was challenged in Question Time about these cuts by Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Tanya Plibersek, the Prime Minister accused Labor of supporting welfare as “pseudo-generosity. This is a prime example of the Coalition’s narrative that they see welfare as a ‘generosity’ to be given or taken away rather than an essential need.

Now we have the “Have A Go” Budget of 2015, where the Coalition ‘Has a Go’ at Single Parents by comparing apples and oranges to convince the public that Single Parents are not only having their cake and eating it too, but eating hard-working people’s cakes as well.  The message here is that single parents are greedy bludgers, who get more in hand-outs than a hard working voting taxpayer.

The following table was discussed on The Insiders, ABC Sunday 17 May, 2015.  Barry Cassidy queried Joe Hockey as to why it was necessary to compare the two.  Hockey’s response was that he thinks it is important to advise tax payers where their money is going.  (It is also interesting that the pictures on this graph pegs a single mother with two children against a hard-working single man.)

As you can see the “Age of Entitlement’ Graph demonstrates that a hard-working person working five days per week, is actually worse off than a sole parent with two kids.  This is a dynamic display of the ‘Lifters and Leaners” narrative we were accustomed to in 2014 although the actual words are not used in Budget 2015. The subliminal messaging is what is used to be effective here.

However, the graph does not take into account the cost of raising children, which I have added below:

joe single parents 3

As this table now shows, regardless of what the Coalition want you to believe, when you take into account the cost of raising children; a sole parent working part-time is not better off than a hard-working individual working five days per week on $80,000 per year.

As Barry Cassidy put to Joe Hockey “But you may be creating resentment though for no purpose” Of course, Joe Hockey disagreed and responded with “Why anyone would resent helping a single parent?”

After the last 18 months of stigmatizing those on welfare, including single parents; along with the Kevin Andrews’ mantra that married couples are more valued in society; this really speaks volumes of how out of touch Joe Hockey and the Coalition are.  Maybe the Treasurer should follow commentary on social media and main stream media to understand what many people think of those on welfare.

Joe Hockey knows and the coalition knows that their negative narrative about those on welfare for the past 18 months has already increased resentment.  Taking an under-handed swipe at single parents, whilst butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth, is beyond reproach.

The narrative here is set to stigmatise, so if they are returned to Government, there will be little outcry from the public, when they make more harsh cuts to welfare and single parents in conjunction with a more Liberal friendly Senate.

The 2015 Budget has given little to no hope for those already doing it tough on welfare.  The Budget failed to deliver a vision for our future and has painted an even bleaker future for women.  It is essential that the vision we have for the future is to say “NO” to a Coalition Government at the next election and always, always, put Liberal & National last.

“Stigma is a process by which the reaction of others spoils normal identity.”
―Erving Goffman

Some thoughts on the gender pay gap

wagegap2edited-1351089682Shannon Fentiman,QLD Minister for Communities, Women and Youth, Minister for Child Safety and Minister for Multicultural Affairs has announced today that she supports ‘positive discrimination’ to close the gender pay gap.  Ms. Fentiman said this is ‘definitely something we should have a conversation about.   This has struck up a fair bit of conversation across social media.  There are a lot of people who are genuinely concerned that this will cause undue discrimination for men; and that there is not really a gender pay gap to consider.  Life does seem pretty fair at times, right?

I have detailed at the end of this blog post some information regarding discrimination against women in the workforce.  The information below was previously sent in a letter to the Prime Minister and Minister for Women, in 2013, but it appears he has made no progress on this matter and to my knowledge has not even attempted to start a conversation about this type of disparity women face.

I know there are a lot of jokes out there on social media about Abbott being the Minister for Women.  It would be great if we can just stop laughing about it now; because it isn’t funny when he is stifling progress.

I have a few concerns with how we approach this issue of gender disparity in pay and the workplace:

The first issue is that it was very evident when I completed this research for the initial blog post; that Indigenous women experience more disparity than non-Indigenous women.  I feel that this needs to have a specific focus from the Government.

The second issue is the high unemployment rate for Youth. Particularly in regional Queensland areas.   For example, there are very limited administration opportunities in regional communities. The public sector, since the cuts from the Newman Government has seen a sharp decline in any recruitment for administration in the public sector in regional communities; particularly entry level administration.  Small business has struggled since the GFC, with some improvements being noted in recent times; but small business needs a hand up to give young people employment opportunities as well.   Not enabling our youth to access employment now, will increase the existing disparity for women; but also increase generational disparity for both genders in years to come.

The third issue I have is how we approach positive discrimination so that it does not enable disadvantage for men.   When we view inequality, we need to view every step of the process and not just the end process of the ‘job interview’ or selection process.  We need to view every step towards securing employment, rather than believing everyone is equal at every point of the process. For some who experience other social marginalization, the disparity inequity widens.   This is where I feel the argument of “the best person for the job” does fall down.

In communities where there is little administration recruitment occurring and a lot of mining or laboring recruitment, it does create disparity for what women can apply for from the outset. Many women are not suited to the types of laboring or trades jobs advertised in regional QLD communities, but some women most certainly are suited.   Where women are the primary care givers, it creates further hindrances to securing employment in a traditional male field.  I acknowledge that there are many traditional male jobs and industries not suited to all men, and I also acknowledge that disparity exists for some men to enter into traditional female fields of employment. I also acknowledge that social disadvantages affect both genders.

Therefore, a holistic approach needs to be used to ensure that ‘equal footing’ at the point of application is achieved. This includes identifying hindrances to women and men in individual communities and tailoring Govt assistance to business, encouraging investment or examining the capital city focus of the Public Sector.   In addition, the community sector lost a lot of funding in regional communities and this also needs to be looked at, to bring funding back to small local organisations, rather than granting of tender funding to larger national organisations, where most of the senior management, human resource management, accounting, administration or clerical work is done in their head office.  Education and training opportunities from high school, vocational and university level also need to be scrutinized as contributors to hindrance.

The fourth issue I have is the differences between metropolitan, regional and rural communities.  The Government needs to focus on individual communities, rather than Queensland as a whole to address the issues individual areas face.  This goes back to my point that there are simply not the same administration and management opportunities for women in regional areas in the Public Sector as there are for women living in a capital city.  No woman who wants to progress in the QLD Public Sector should have to consider moving to Brisbane to do so. This is inequity in itself.

The fifth issue I have is that we need urgent Industrial Relations reform to review the award wages attached to jobs identified as traditional women’s jobs; whilst not impacting adversely on these industries. However, this will be a challenge with a Federal Liberal Government at the helm and the length of time that these wages and industries have been seen as lesser value. This will require not only an Industrial relations change, but a cultural/societal change.  This will not be an easy fix nor a quick fix.

I look forward to suggestions from readers on how we can address this issue in a positive and progressive manner.

******

For those who doubt that women experience discrimination within the workplace a pay; please view the information below:

 

  • Discrimination against women arising from casualisation in the workforce and high numbers working in insecure employment and

  • Discrimination against women through the continuation of lower wages in ‘traditional women’s industries’, and the general availability of fewer opportunities of penalties and overtime. Please note that in 2011, the gender pay gap was 17.2% for full-time workers and

  • Discrimination against women in the workforce, or who are job seeking who either cannot access or cannot afford childcare

    • More women than men in Australia continue to work in jobs that provide less security and stability
    • Some of the lowest paid industries in Australia such as Accommodation and Food Services, Arts and Recreation Services and Retail trade tend to employ the highest proportion of female employees without paid leave entitlements (61 per cent, 48 per cent and 34 per cent respectively
    • 30 per cent of female employees who are lone parents with dependent children, are casual employees without paid leave entitlements
    • In 2012, the total cash weekly earnings by gender were $1189.00 (Men) $852.00 (Women)  (Source Australian Bureau of Statistics)
  • Discrimination against women in achieving leadership and management roles and

  • Discrimination by default, due to under-representation in management and board positions in Australia

    • In virtually all sectors of the paid workforce, women are underrepresented in leadership roles.
    • Women account for over half of academic staff, however only 27% of women are Senior Lecturer or above.
    • 64% of law graduates are women, however only 22% of women hold senior positions in law firms. Only 16% of women are on the bench in the Federal Court of Australia.
    • Women chair only two per cent of ASX200 companies (four boards), hold only 8.3% of Board Directorships, hold only four CEO positions and make up only 10.7% of executive management positions
    • In 2008, women held 5.9% of line executive management positions in ASX 200 companies; a decrease from 7.5% in 2006. Line executive management experience is considered essential for progressing to top corporate positions.
    • Women make up a third of members on Australian Government Boards and Committees.
    • Despite comprising more than half of all Commonwealth public servants, women make up only 37% of the Senior Executive Service.  (Source Australian Human Rights Commission)

 

  • Discrimination by default suffered by women who, as primary parental care givers, end up with reduced superannuation earnings in retirement and

  • Discrimination by default suffered by women, will receive less superannuation over time, through the continuation of lower wages in ‘traditional women’s industries’

    • Only 60% of Indigenous women have superannuation coverage compared to 80% of women in the general population.
    • Many women work more than one casual job across different employers and do not receive super from any individual employer, due to earning less than $450 per month.
    • The mean super balance of men earning under $5400 per year is just almost double the amount for women in the same group. (Source ASFA)
    • Women have significantly less money saved for their retirement – half of all women aged 45 to 59 have $8,000 or less in their superannuation funds, compared to $31,000 for men.
    • Currently, the average superannuation payout for women is a third of the payout for men – $37,000 compared with $110, 000.
    • In Australia, women working full-time today earn 16 per cent less than men.
    • Women also receive less super across the board, due to the gender pay gap of 17.2%  (Source Australian Human Rights Commission)
  • The under-representation of women in parliament, amounting, in the absence of any system to redress the imbalance, to discrimination

It is concerning that not only are women under-represented in Australian politics, but Australia is ranked number 43/142 countries for women in national parliaments.

The Australian Government Office for Women, which is part of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet; aims to ensure a whole-of-government approach to providing better economic and social outcomes for women. However, the analysis by Waring et. al. of the Inter-Parliamentary Union of women in politics; would indicate the Australian Government Office for Women is not well placed to achieve these aims, due to under-representation of women in Parliament, and an absence of a system to redress the imbalance.

I have outlined the reasons below:

    • If women are not present at policy and decision-making levels, there is a democratic deficit. Decisions taken without women’s perspective lack credibility in a democratic context
    • The participation of women leads to a new perspective and a diversity of contributions to policy-making and to priorities of development, and it gives the female population a role in deciding the future of their country and the rights and opportunities for their gender.
    • A democracy which excludes women, or in which women are represented only marginally, is not a real democracy. Women’s participation in policymaking is a question of justice and equality
    • Women’s greater participation would impact upon the traditional values held by men. Sharing of power and responsibilities would become reality. Political meetings and programmes would be scheduled to take into account domestic responsibilities of both men and women.

In the current Government we are now faced with very little representation of women in Government.  Margaret Fitzherbert’s lecture (APH, 2012) outlines many reasons why the Liberal party lags behind in representation.  The main reasons are:

    • No persistent pressure to pre-select women
    • Liberal party culture – a culture which largely tolerates branch members asking women candidates for preselection questions about their parental and marital status.

Margaret Fitzherbert sums up with, “It’s time for the Liberals to take a lesson from the past – acknowledge the problem, and stop relying on a blind faith in ‘merit’ to somehow provide a sudden increase in numbers of  female MPs.” 

I would like to end this post to give thanks to the Queensland Labor Party for making history for succeeding in appointing more female Ministers than men in a Queensland Government and the first female, indigenous woman MP and Minister in a QLD Government. 

Abbott’s disaster relief payment cuts are a disaster

cyclone marcia 2The town I live in and surrounding areas have just endured a cyclone. The damage is heartbreaking. The stories from people and the hardship they are enduring are even more heartbreaking.   Through this experience, I no longer believe we live in a lucky country.

The state of the economy and the focus on debt now over-rides the importance of providing people with a hand-up in times of need.

 

During cyclone Yasi three years ago, the people of Townsville qualified for Federal Government disaster assistance under the Labor Party.  This is $1000 per adult and $400 for each child.  During the fires in the Blue Mountains last year; Abbott in all his humanitarian wisdom changed the criteria, so only those who have had suffered significant damage to their homes or had injury or death as a result were eligible. So many in desperate need after this cyclone are not eligible for assistance through the Federal Government.

I know this may sound reasonable to those who support the Liberal’s ideology. Especially the ones who are being harsh and judgemental to those who are disadvantaged across social media. The ones who have the privilege of being able to scoot off to another town to live in air conditioned motel accommodation, afford a generator, had no difficulty paying for takeaway food every night and have no problem restocking their fridge; or who have never really experienced first hand a disaster, but can type their elitist annoyance and judgements via a keyboard; or the number of people who vote against their own interests, for reasons too psychologically complex for me to attempt to understand.

The loss of electricity for a week or more for some people has resulted in so many low income families unable to restore sufficient food to their homes to feed themselves and/or their children. In addition, families have lost important medication that required refrigeration and for some, this means paying for a visit to a doctor for script renewal as well as the cost of medication.  We have had an army based field hospital here as the local public hospital and doctors cannot cope with the amount of infections and food poisoning that is occurring.

The newly elected state MP for Keppel Brittany Lauga, has tackled this head on and is personally advocating for people who are having difficulty meeting the criteria for the state based grant, which will assist people with immediate need for food.  Ms. Lauga is doing this by making a list of urgent assessments and she has progressed these matters to the Premier and relevant Ministers. There have been glitches identified in the system, and subsequent changes and it is now being reported that people who were classified as ineligible on their first attempt have now been paid.  People are still reporting issues, but Ms. Lauga is continuing to take up this fight on behalf of each individual. The community is praising Ms. Lauga’s efforts as outstanding all over local social media and deservedly so.

The LNP member for Capricornia, Michelle Landry has taken the opportunity to play politics during this disaster.  I will use a very often used Liberal Party term for this behaviour – unconscionable.  While the new state MP, Brittany Lauga has been visiting areas and offering first hand personal assistance to so many in need; the LNP member for Capricornia, decided to blame Labor and Ms. Lauga for ineligibility to disaster funding.

landry blaming Labor landscape

Ms. Lauga, Labor State MP, has immediately recognised inequity in the system set by the former Newman LNP Government and has stated her anger on this issue and progressed issues for disaster relief immediately to the Premier, and positive changes have followed. However,  the LNP member for Capricornia has not once publicly announced she is appalled at the strict criteria imposed and the changes made by her Government for assistance.

Landry and the LNP’s position to leave it all up to the State Governments and placing full blame on the State Labor Government, who have only been in for a matter of weeks; is the mindset of a small, hands off approach Liberal Government. However, small, hands off approach Governments are never good for communities. This mindset simply oozes “I don’t want to help, I don’t care, I had to do it myself and everyone is equal anyway.”  A Liberal Government so focused on debt does not care one iota for quality of life.  That is why the costs involved in rebuilding a normal life, such as all the food lost and destroyed, just as one example, simply does not register for them.

Some areas of Rockhampton have a socio economic score of  899.7 (Berserker), 849.3 Rockhampton City & Depot Hill and 797.6 for Mt. Morgan, compared to Brisbane’s 1047.7 rating (SEIFA, 2011).

This punitive approach for the disadvantaged simply has to stop.

Ms. Landry always falls back on the “It’s Labor’s fault” mantra.  So let’s have a look at if it is really Labor’s fault.

On October 18, the day after the bush-fires tore through the Blue Mountains, our Prime Minister (who was posing as a hard working volunteer fire fighter, full of compassion and community unity), changed the eligibility criteria. (I’m sure Mr. Abbott is the best friend that disaster victims have ever had, if we ask him).

NSW bushfire victims denied compensation under new rules (SMH 26/10/2013)

“The day after bushfires tore through the area, the federal government tightened the rules for disaster payments leaving hundreds of residents who were forced to evacuate without any financial help.

Eligibility for payments, available in disasters such as the January Tasmanian fires, were changed on October 18, so residents who did not lose their homes but had to relocate for days at a time would not receive assistance.” (Excerpt)

”Mr Keenan (pictured with Michelle Landry, MP above) has heartlessly removed assistance for people who have been cut off from their homes for more than 24 hours, or been without water or electricity for 48 hours,” Mr Dreyfus said. (SMH 21/10/2013)

Bill Shorten and Senator Doug Cameron just some of the very vocal members of Labor constantly pressuring Abbott to change this criteria. As we can see from Cyclone Marcia, to no avail.

Then when the bush-fires tore through South Australia, Tony Abbott clammed up and refused to comment (The Australian 7 January, 2015)

Then, because blaming Labor simply would not work, Tony Abbott resorted to denying the truth (Bill Shorten, MP November, 13, 2013)

In addition, the Abbott Govt has employed the productivity commission to recommend changes to disaster relief system, which includes a recommendation of a drop of Commonwealth funding to help rebuild from the current 75% to 25%.

Doug Cameron summed it up with, “I think the underlying position here is how do you do more cost-cutting? How can you penny-pinch more against people that are in trouble?” he said.

The Liberal National Government contests that this is not about budget cuts, but about encouraging mitigation. Until mitigation is fully implemented in communities, the cuts and changes do nothing but continue to inflict hardship to those in need who have survived a disaster.  This is yet another punitive ideological view in its current form. “If you don’t do this, we will not help you.” Unfortunately, the Blue Mountains and the Rockhampton Region have not had time to implement mitigation strategies as required by the Abbott Government prior to their disasters. 

Here is a very clear explanation of the changes by the Abbott Government and the timeline:

The Liberal National Federal Government removed the last three criteria which applied under a Federal Labor Government. This should clarify why people who suffered under Cyclone Yasi received the $1000 payment and $400 for each child received the payments. However, many who have suffered through the Bush-fires in the Blue Mountains and Cyclone Marcia in Rockhampton, Yeppoon and surrounds cannot access these payments.

changes disaster funding

Under the old criteria under Labor, which Michelle Landry, Michael Keenan and Tony Abbott and the rest of the LNP do not support and changed; everyone who had no electricity for 48 hours or more and lost all of their food, would have been eligible for $1000 plus $400 for each child post cyclone Marcia.

disaster cuts landscape

My understanding is that the state based criteria was developed by the previous Newman LNP Government and I understand the Labor party have only been in a matter of weeks, but the entire system for the state based disaster relief system also needs an urgent review.

As for the Federal changes, all parties and communities across Australia, need to stand up and fight against these cuts to disaster relief, and have them reversed as passionately as they are fighting against other harsh cuts imposed by the Liberal Government.  No community should ever have to go through this again.  I am, you are, we are Australian.

Should Michelle Landry, Michael Keenan and Tony Abbott hang their heads in shame? Yes, they should. How many people now across fires and cyclones have now suffered under cuts to disaster relief by the Liberal National Government?

I know a lot of people truly believe that it does not matter who you vote for, but as I always say, your vote counts. Always, always, put Liberal and Nationals LAST for a progressive and compassionate Australia.

libs

Let’s talk about privilege and single parents

singleThe Social Discourse and Welfare

Whilst doing my research for my most recent blog post,  I analysed a range of opinions throughout social media on the topic of contraception and welfare. Naturally, these threads across various pages gathered the opinions of those not on welfare and those who are. Comments on social media give one an insight into the thoughts of a wide and varied demographic.  Often thoughts on social media are contained to a particular thread on a particular topic; so it is always interesting to view the differences of opinion from many on that particular subject.  This is particularly evident when it is a newspaper forum, or another general page which attracts a diverse range of people.  People will group together on opinion and often there are long debates from those for or against a particular opinion. I love reading the opinions of people on social media, as narrative or discourse, gives us a glimpse of the social psyche. 

Social discourse is a key element to social change.  Many of the comments from people, as per my last blog post, painted those on welfare in a very negative light.  In fact, the ones highlighted were of the very strong view that those on welfare ‘should not breed.” The Liberal National Coalition (LNP) Government has a very strong discourse on punitive measures aimed to punish people on welfare and sets this standard, through their unfair cuts to welfare and treatment of jobseekers.

Newspapers and media also seem to slant their stories to the negative. There were many comments highlighting that Sunrise had posted the ‘welfare and contraception’ story three different times on their Facebook page. In my local regional newspaper today, there is an prominent article with the headline “Hard-working Australian culture fading away” which has a 20 year old mechanic front and centre telling people to ‘not cry poor and go out a get a job” and “I don’t believe for a second there’s no work out there”. 

This is in spite of the unemployment rate being 6.3% nationally, youth unemployment sitting nationally at 14% nationally and being as high as 29.3% in outback South Australia, 26.7% in south east Tasmania and 21.3% in Cairns.   This is also in spite of skills shortages in 2014 identified in specialized and professional fields as external auditor, surveyor, sonographer, phsysiotherapist, midwife, software engineer and construction estimator.  The jobs listed as skills shortages are not jobs that would be likely to match young people seeking employment, or unskilled jobseekers. This means that contrary to the social discourse occurring at present, job search is a highly competitive environment and those with little to no skills or experience, or who face any barriers to employment (including sole parenting), will find securing employment very difficult.

This does not even take into account age discrimination or Indigenous unemployment, which sits at 17.2% nationally and the Government’s changes to programs that will greatly affect this group. These changes show blatant changes which target people through race, which are discriminatory as compared to other parts of Australia. 

What about Sole Parents?

The blog post I researched most recently discussed the argument that ‘People on welfare should be forced to take contraception.’  Single mothers were certainly a group raised for discussion. In particular, young mothers featured prominently, as did women from certain suburbs in Australia and another prominent single mother group attacked negatively were those ‘assumed to be refugees’ or from an ethnic minority background or non-white people.

Single Parents have only had to seek employment as part of Mutual Obligation since the 2005 – 2006 Howard Budget. This has continued to be evolved by successive ALP Governments since 2007 and remains as a focus for the Abbott Government.   There have been calls from ACOSS that the inclusion of single parents in mutual obligation contravenes Human Rights Obligations.  I strongly agree with ACOSS, not only for the economic affects outlines, but especially for point 2, which discusses discrimination against women:

The Bill violates the rights of single parents to non-discrimination under Art 2, paragraph 2
of the ICESCR and Art 11(1)(e) of the International Covenant on the Elimination of All
Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Since the majority of recipients are
women, they will suffer indirect gender discrimination should the Bill become law. In
addition, sole parent families, identified for special measures due to their greater
vulnerability, will suffer discrimination through the loss of these measures.

As I delved into people’s conversations on social media whilst researching my last blog post, I noticed something quite prominent and thematic with  young mothers and their arguments.  I was becoming increasingly aware of the amount of young women (single mothers) who felt the need to defend their space in society. These young women felt the need to list every single effort they make to work in paid work, volunteering, job search or furthering their education through study or training.  Often, they would write a long list of work and study they were doing at the same time, as well as caring for their child or children.

What this is saying to me, is that young mothers and single others feel the need to ‘reaffirm’ or establish themselves in the eyes of the privileged (those not a single parent) to be deemed worthy or accepted in society.  My position is difficult here as I can only view the conversation and not seek clarity or construct any dialogue with these young mothers to further develop understanding; but I feel that these young mothers feel that there are societal pressures that say that being a mother 100% of of the time is not enough as set by the standards of society and in the eyes of those who view them as ‘sole parents.’

One theme that was quite prominent was when young mothers did list the whole range work or study activities they were undertaking as well as motherhood, people congratulated them on their efforts and ‘becoming a productive citizen.’  The comments resonated that being a mother was not being a productive citizen. Raising other little good citizens is being a productive citizen in itself.

I for one second do not take away any single parent’s choice to undertake any activities to better their future for employment etc., The key word there being choice. However, I question the need that there may be mothers who feel they cannot be a mother only, due to the strong social narrative that drives this pressure, which is enabled by the Government view of single parents. Something afforded by privilege to those who have this choice in a partnered relationship. I know many may argue that even women in partnered relationships need to go to work; but if a woman strongly wanted to be at home, they have the choice, through that partnership to adapt their lifestyle, so this can be supported on one wage in many cases.  The fact of the matter is single parents do not have this choice even to contemplate, as that second wage is simply not there.

Some of the privileges afforded by those in partnered relationships or single people with no children, who set to condemn single parents are thus:

  • Single parents do not have the option to share the workload.
  • Single parents often have to do more than partnered parents, as all work, child raising and decision making are their sole responsibility
  • Single parents bear the brunt of sole financial responsibility.  If they get sick, there is no second wage to fall back on.
  • There are forced expectations by the Government of mutual obligation on single mothers or fathers that is not enforced onto partnered mothers or fathers.
  • There is a great social stigma still towards, particularly single mothers being a purposeful burden on the system
  • Economic burdens, not affording take away, making all food, not affording childcare, or adequate medical care, including dental as compared to middle to upper classes
  • There is a great social stigma about child spacing for single parents “they just pop another one out when the youngest turns six” Child spacing is a privilege afforded to partnered parents.
  • Single parents have more likely high instances of low self-efficacy and low self-esteem than partnered parents
  • Illness is a privilege afforded to those in partnered relationships. A single parent who falls ill still has to maintain all responsibilities
  • There are many labor market constraints for single parents, including transport, available education, flexible work hours. In some cases partnered parents may face these barriers, but they have another partner to work with to reduce these barriers.
  • Often stigma is also with the ex-wife/ex-partner that if the father is raising them, there is something wrong with the mother, but that is rarely questioned about the father
  • Fathers are often perceived as heroes and pitied for abandonment, women are scorned, slut shamed etc.,
  • In most cases the onus of blame is placed on the woman in a relationship breakdown.
  • Single mothers experience stigma with employment, housing, applying for benefits, and community assistance afforded to most partnered couples (racial and disability discrimination acknowledged)
  • Balancing custody and career.  Often promotion means more work and more time away from family sole parents, both male and female risk custody if they are not seen to provide enough care an attention to the child/ren through absence to the home.  This is intensified if the other parent has another new partner who can does paid work. There is little research if this is more particularly burdensome for single mothers or single fathers. Career and progression is something afforded to parents in a partnered relationship, without the risk of losing custody of their child/ren.

I will break out of the bullet points to direct attention to one that I am most passionate about.  I will speak to this for mothers only.  I would value input from how single fathers see this in the comments below.

Forced removal of the right to care for children.

Due to the mutual obligations forced upon single mothers by the Government, single parents have no choice but to have another person spend critical and valuable time with their child.  They do not have the option that this may be the person they are in an intimate relationship with as a privilege afforded to partnered mothers who desire to return to work and have a stay at home father. Single Mothers are forced to pay strangers to spend critical and valuable time and input in the rearing of their child.  Not only does this take away from critical and valuable parenting time, but places an extra financial burden on women as it cuts into money earned from employment. 

This also places an additional burden on women fleeing domestic violence relationships and fleeing violent partners. It forces a woman to be engaged in employment (sometimes with no phone contact as enforced by the employer’s rules) and it creates more worry, stress and strain on a woman already experienced heightened anxiety and concern for the safety of herself and her children.

I find this absolutely abhorrent that this choice is taken away from single parents by force, rather than by choice.  It takes away one of the most important and most treasured days of a woman’s life by force.

Single Fathers

Although the majority of single parents are mothers, single fathers make up 12% of single parents in Australia.   Single fathers also face particular burdens based on how society positions gender and parenting, based on the notion that only women are the natural nurturers and men are the breadwinners.

  • Single fathers are the loneliest and socially isolated of all types of household situation.
  • Single fathers are deemed incompetent by others, due to the ingrained belief that women are the natural caregivers and nurturers.
  • As per listed above, it is also unfairly assumed that the father is not the best option for care of the child, but must be by default. Society seeks to lay blame on either the mother primarily, and pities the father, but does not ever assume that this may be an amicable solution or what has been decided as a matter of choice between the former partnered parents.
  • Single fathers have generally lower self esteem and depression issues than men in other households
  • Affect on single fathers with balancing work choice, decision making, key provisions for the family, restrictions in childcare availability and shift work for many labouring / trades jobs

Gay and Lesbian single parents – there is more of a story to be told.

There is also appears to be an absence of research on single parents from a breakdown of a same sex relationship.  Statistics included for single parents are inclusive of gay and lesbian parents as statistics do not specifically also target sexual preference.

There appears to be an abundance of literature on same sex parenting as a dual couple. However, the absence of literature on gay and lesbian single parents, makes for a gap in understanding the full picture of single parents and their lived experiences.

Government Responses

The Howard Government in 2005-2006 budget papers set forth the foundation for including single parents in mutual obligation.   Successive ALP Governments since, have not sought to enable single parents by repealing this legislation, but have sought to tighten this legislation and provide even more restrictions and obstacles for single parents.

The Abbott Government’s response is hinged on ‘family values’ but defines this family as the predominantly white, dual parent family, with more than likely Christian values.   Often classified as “The traditional family.”  This is not representative of all families in Australia.

The Abbott Government has injected 20 million to “strengthen relationships and help improve personal and family well-being—it makes social and economic sense.” Because, you know single parents are a burden on society and a factor for social decline.

The Abbott Government has chosen to fund only Christian Chaplains in schools as a pastoral mechanism. Christian Chaplains would only advocate for traditional heterosexual relationships and traditional forms of family through marriage.

There is a lack of investment from the Abbott Government on Domestic Violence and funding for shelters and other programs for both women and men and an absence of understanding of the need for shelters for men who have experienced domestic violence or intimate partner violence.

There is an agenda of stigmatisation from the Abbott Government for those on welfare, adding to the layers of stigmatisation experienced by single parents, indigenous, the disabled, immigrants, people from low socioeconomic backgrounds and people in other minority groups.

Where to from here

If this blog post has resonated with others, I would encourage everyone to write to the Government and to both the ALP and the Greens to advocate to have mutual obligation as a forced measure removed from single parents and be implemented as a voluntary measure only, with no penalties.

One of the reasons behind me writing this blog post, was that I get so disheartened from reading harsh and judgemental comments from those in a position of privilege.   The other reason was that I really want people to start assessing their own narrative when it comes to passing judgement of others on welfare.

The Abbott Government through their agenda of stigmatisation has really created a strong narrative to enable and encourage others to stigmatise those on welfare.  If you oppose the Abbott Government, but contribute to this stigma by adding your voice, you are really supporting the Abbott Government by becoming a part of their agenda.  Their agenda for stigma is strong as it paves the way for even more harsh cuts and unfair treatment of the disadvantage as the discourse becomes more widely sociably acceptable.

“Stigma is a process by which the reaction of others spoils normal identity.”
―Erving Goffman

The LNP’s new talent – How to disable people with a disability.


abbott disabilityKevin Andrews has announced that anyone seeking to access the disability support pension, will now be required to see an independent doctor prescribed by the Government, and recommendations from family doctors will no longer be allowed to assess people for the disability pension.

The LNP has effectively taken away the right of choice for people with a disability.  All Australians expect a fair go, a right to choose. However, this is now no longer the case if you have a disability. Someone will make this choice for you. For those with a disability who do not need an advocate; who can make their own decisions.  For those who need an advocate, this is taking away the right to choose, through denying the choices that the advocate can make on their behalf.  This is a blatantly disabling people with a disability, rather than enabling them.

This also strikes me as so raw and so insensitive not even a week after the passing of Stella Young. Stella Young, if anything, taught us that we should treat all people with disabilities as human beings. Taking away someone’s right to choose does not treat a person as a full human being. Kevin Andrews (as all neo-liberals do) is purely focused on money and not the welfare of the person, nor is he focused on client outcomes for a person seeking the disability pension.  Scott Morrison inheriting this portfolio, will contribute a ‘show no mercy’ approach to this situation.

In plain Australian English: The LNP does not give a stuff about people with a disability and how they should be treated.

One of the most concerning risks is that if the correct outcome for a person with a disability is not achieved, this will result in that person being moved to Newstart.  This person will then receive less money and will further exclude a person with a disability from accessing social inclusion activities, transport and even better choice of housing to name a few.  Once again, the underlying message of the Government for welfare recipients is “they are liars and cheats and we must stop them.”

Through this agenda of stigmatization and segregation of welfare recipients, the LNP Government aims to use this stigma and marginalization, so major cuts to welfare and even full closure of some services will result in little resistance from voters.   Everything about the LNP is underpinned by cuts, cuts and more cuts, as demonstrated even more today with cuts to housing advocacy and homeless programs, programs for the blind, deaf and acquired brain injury also losing critical funding.

Lisa Gunder’s article, Immoral and un-Australian: the discursive exclusion of welfare recipients, discusses the narrative / agenda set by political leaders since Howard.  The focus on the welfare agenda in the Howard era, when Abbott was Minister for Employment; set to recontextualise ‘have a go’ and ‘the protestant work ethic’ (as part of our national identity) within the welfare discourse.  In an analysis of Australian identity, the ‘Australian way of life’ features strong connections with hard work the middle class and a protestant work ethic.  From Howard to Abbott, they have used this ‘accepted view of our way of life’ strongly within speeches and narratives about welfare; to change how Australians see those who are truly disadvantaged. 

The other most prominent issue that Gunder raises, is that in Howard and Abbott’s speeches, they highlight the success of the ‘in-group’ (non-welfare recipients) and mitigate the achievements of the out-group (welfare recipients).  In simple terms, they purposely avoid highlighting achievements of welfare recipients and focus on the negative.  This sets in place an agenda for stigmatization.

It is through this narrative, that has been used and built on since the Howard years, which sets the tone for stigmatization and paves the way for further cuts and punitive measures for welfare recipients.   If you reflect on the timeline, the progression of this negative narrative has extended from the unemployed, to the single parent, aged pensioners and veterans and now the Government believes its narrative has been accepted sufficiently by the ‘in-group’, that harsh and punitive measures for those on a disability will be accepted by the ‘in-group’ or mainstream Australia. In simple terms, the Abbott Government sees punishing people with a disability as a ‘vote winner.’  As Australians, we should strongly see this as a failure to our national identity.

It is simply not good enough for the ALP and Greens and any other party who opposes these measures and this narrative to simply say ‘it is not OK.’  A narrative has been built since Howard’s arrival at the podium in 1996; that has gradually been listened to and accepted by Australians that “it is fine to punish the ‘out-group (aka welfare recipients).'”   

As ‘punitive measures and harsh treatment’ are now the norm within welfare; the ALP and Greens need to create a very strong narrative and create a new discourse which places welfare recipients at the heart of the “A Fair Go” and speak loudly and strongly of not only achievements, but of compassion and humanity and how and why we should unequivocally provide assistance for those in need’.  

It is essential for the progress of Australia to remain silent on any narrative punishing those on welfare and the disadvantaged and to reject and refuse to create a welfare out-group through stigmatization.  

We must move forward and change the narrative completely to build up the strength of our people, through true mateship, kindness and a fair go.   Only then, will we all have freedom of ability, freedom of choice, true inclusiveness and a greater participation in work and society by all.

Gunders, L 2012, ‘Immoral and un-Australian: the discursive exclusion of welfare recipients’, Critical Discourse Studies, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 1-13

Will Brandis Shirt-Front Morrison? Can Morrison please be the Demtel Man?

demtel brandisWe often ask each other “If you had a superpower what would it be?”  Scott Morrison’s superpower was revealed yesterday. He gets to throw people out of the country.  This person was not an Asylum Seeker with brown skin, but a wealthy, white, “female attraction expert” or (Misogynicus Piggius). After a very active social media campaign, Scott Morrison cancelled the visa of Julien Blanc. Scott Morrison kicked Julien  Blanc out of the country.

This ‘event’ has raised two questions for me. 

If Morrison has this superpower – can he please be the Demtel Man? 

Will George Brandis now Shirt-Front Morrison?

I think to put my mind into perspective for others I shall need to explain.  Julien Blanc did nothing criminal during his visit, but what he advocates is very harmful to women and if implemented by his male followers would see the physical and sexual harrassment of women in society, escalate.  In a nutshell what he advocates is offensive and wrong.

Morrison booted him out the country as Morrison did not agree with Julien Blanc’s freedom of speech nor his freedom of expression.

Although, many advocate for freedom of speech and freedom of expression. This is a very good contemporary example of how freedom of speech and freedom of expression can be harmful to certain groups of people in society.  

Freedom of speech was vigorously defended by the LNP who advocated very strongly to Repeal Section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act. Particularly because as Abbott demonstrates quite clearly here that There is a great Australian silence – this time about the western canon.” (ie white people)

Tony Abbotts IPA speech

Fortunately, for whatever reason Morrison decided to cancel Blanc’s visa it was done without Morrison raising the emphasis on freedom of speech that the LNP hold so dear to their heart.  In this instance, Morrison (hopefully) understood the harm that Blanc does to the image of and treatment of women wherever Blanc and his sad posse unfortunately land.  (Maybe LNP can now join the dots to freedom of speech and how it can cause harm to others.)

Will Brandis, who so vigorously defended Freedom of Speech on QandA recently and who infamously stated “People have the right to be bigots” do anything about this?  Will he actually Shirt-Front Morrison over his lack of cling-to-ridiculous-ideology-even-if-it-hurts-vulnerable-people-and-disrespects-our-first-people mantra?  How will Brandis now defend the pathetic and harmful stance that they should repeal Section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act after what Morrison has done today?  What will Brandis’ excuse be for Morrison, to defend him as part of the LNP? Does this mean that the LNP are now soft on Freedom of Speech? (If you are a Liberal voter and this worries you or you are anxious, pull out your wallet, open it up and breathe in….and out….and in….and out, now….relax. If you don’t have enough money in your wallet for this breathing & relaxation exercise to work, you should not be voting Liberal, you Dummkopf!)

The Demtel Man

Now onto why I want Scott Morrison to be the Demtel Man.  Morrison has the power to kick people out of the country.  This week he kicked out a vile person and ignored this person’s right to freedom of speech. Sanity and humanity finally prevailed.  If only Morrison could be the Demtel man and yell:

“But wait….there’s more!”

Please boot out (because freedom of speech & freedom of expression no longer matter and I find these ‘freedom of speech & freedom of expression’ listed below just as offensive as Julien Blanc’s harmful opinion of women!)

Cory Bernardi, Liberal Senator – For using his freedom of speech to express that it was ok to put women in a headlock and that marriage equality will lead to polygamy and bestiality
(But wait there’s more)

Tony Abbott, Prime Minister of Australia  – For using his freedom of speech to say offensive things about women, defense personnel, our Indigenous people and LGBTI to name a few (offensive statements are far too extensive to include here). (But wait there’s more)

Joe Hockey, Federal Treasurer  – For using his freedom of speech to express his distaste and immense dislike for middle income and disadvantaged Australians by forcing his unfair, sick budget onto us  (But wait there’s more)

Julie Bishop, Foreign Minister – For using her freedom of speech to imply that Julia Gillard was a criminal and gained personally from a Union slush fund 20 years ago (Apology NOW Ms. Bishop!) (But wait there’s more)

Bronwyn Bishop, Speaker of the House – For using her freedom of expression to act upon partisan smirks and nods at Christopher Pyne, For using her freedom of speech to restrict freedom of expression for Islamic women and for using her freedom of speech and freedom of expression to express her hatred of Labor, which is acted out under section 94a umpteen times in the last year. (I also thinks she picks on the Member for Gellibrand more than anyone else – or is that just me?) (But wait there’s more)

Christopher Pyne, Minister for Education – For using his freedom of speech to express his hatred of anyone who desires a higher education (I often imagine Sturt to be this scary place like hell, where the constituents have been sent to earth to torture us. Sturt people – please stop!) (But wait there’s more)

Kevin Andrews – For using his freedom of speech to express his willingness to harm jobless Australians by forcing them to have no income for six months. For expressing his view that all people on unemployment are on drugs, suggesting they be drug tested. For expressing his view that de-facto couples are not as happy as married couples, and his over-riding mantra that the unemployed are ‘bludgers who need to be motivated. (But wait there’s more)

Mathias Cormann, Minister for Finance – For using his freedom of speech to express that being a girly-man is a bad thing, an insult. Gender is not binary Cormann! For using his freedom of expression by infamously smoking a cigar celebrating turfing the poor into the gutter with the LNP’s unfair, sick budget. (But wait there’s more)

George Brandis, Attorney General – For using his freedom of speech to express that people have a right to be Bigots. (But wait there’s more)

Malcolm Turnbull, Minister for Communications – For using his freedom of speech to express it is ok for rural and regional people to not have decent, reliable, fast internet (Do you think he may be Amish or he has a fascination with the 1930’s?) (But wait there’s more)

Barnarby Joyce, Minister for Agriculture – For thinking it was ok to change his freedom of speech to include things he actually did not say, when he changed Hansard  (Maybe Kevin Andrews could enlighten Barnaby that Hansard is for better or for worse, ’til death do us part!) (But wait there’s more).

Nigel Scullion, Minister for Indigenous Affairs – For using his freedom of speech to express that money is more important than indigenous women being able to access safe, respectful, supportive National Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service. (But wait there’s more)

Greg Hunt – Minister for the Environment – For using his freedom of speech to express that he absolutely detests the environment, in everything he does and says (But wait there’s more)

Peter Dutton – Minister for Health, For using his freedom of speech to express that it is OK for the disadvantaged, poor, sick and needy to go without medical treatment because they can’t afford it and that is is OK that cancer may not be detected in many, due to the exorbitant costs through his proposed changes to medicare. (But wait there’s more)

Campbell Newman – Premier of Queensland, For using his freedom of speech to tell lie after lie after lie and using his freedom of expression to pose as a concerned Premier in advertisements instead of a politician spending public money on advertising in an early campaign. (But wait there’s more)

Liberal Voters – For using their freedom of expression to vote for the most incompetent, harmful, hurtful Government, we have had in the history of Australia. (But wait there’s more)

and last but not least – You, Mr. Morrison  – Boot yourself out of the Country, for your ongoing freedom of expression and freedom of speech implying that human beings seeking asylum are less than human beings and should be treated as such.

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The Liberal’s attack on Whitlam and Gillard 38 yrs apart: An attack on progressive ideas & a return to mediocrity

gillard gough

Despite the IPA’s urgency for “Abbott to be more like Whitlam” because Whitlam ‘changed Australia, more than any other Prime Minister ever has,’ the IPA’s agenda for Abbott is very different.

In the 1970’s Gough Whitlam was seen as the first progressive Prime Minister, who stood for the people. He stood for workers, battlers, migrants, everyone. He wanted to shift Australia to a more inclusive and progressive society.  

Gough shifted Australia from a stagnant, mediocre nation, to a nation of ideas, progress and voices.

For so many years, the voices of the worker, the battlers and migrants had been silenced, by the collective group of individuals who could manage just fine on their own; whether that be through the privilege of money, position in society, family heritage or education, is neither here nor there. The crux of the what Gough Whitlam did, was to bring more people into this exclusive collective by opening up opportunities, thought a hand up, a fair go for all.  Gough’s vision was to propel the nation forward, through ensuring that individual Australians could achieve enormous success; even if they were in a previously ‘excluded group’ under the Liberals. He wanted every single Australian, to be the best that they could be. 

Gough Whitlam propelled this country forward, and these changes became the status-quo we all accepted and still do:

  • Access for all to Higher Education
  • Needs based funding for schools
  • The beginning of what we know today as Medicare – Medibank
  • National funding of hospitals and community health centres
  • The creation of the single mother’s pension (now parenting payment-single)
  • The handicapped children’s allowance (now known as carer’s payment).
  • Funding community grassroots social welfare organisations and volunteer organisations (now collectively known as ‘the community sector’) who served a need to assist individuals in their communities.
  • Enacted the Social Housing Act for States, which has housed so many Australians from low income/disadvantaged households
  • Outlawed discrimination against Indigenous people
  • Handed back land to Indigenous people
  • Funded legal services for Indigenous people
  • Enacted Human Rights protection through International Acts
  • Funded urban transport projects
  • and connected homes to sewerage – the beginning of the end of the thunderbox

It is well known that Gough Whitlam’s legacy is very vast, therefore, I have only chosen a few for example. To read more go to: The Whitlam Government’s achievements

In the 1970’s, the Liberals, not happy at all with such changes to our society, sought a means to attack this progress and ‘return Australia to its Status Quo – to the mediocre way Australians had lived before under the Liberals.” Through political mechanisms within our system, the LNP stamped their feet and got their own way.

The reason why I have highlighted the above is to me, the correlation between the attack on Julia Gillard and Gough Whitlam.  Why do I see this as a correlation between the two? Because both have the underlying construct of:

Shifting the status-quo to exclusion of groups, the notion that only ‘those who try succeed’, that everyone is equal, and the disadvantaged and unemployed are the burden of society’

In ways that Gough Whitlam shaped Australia, Julia Gillard was also attempting to do so. Policy highlights such as Gonski reforms (needs based funding for education), NDIS (Peace of mind for every Australian, for anyone who has, or might acquire, a disability), A price on Carbon (a leader ahead of many other western countries, now adopting a price on carbon), the Royal Commission into Child Abuse, an attack on Work Choices and the introduction of Fair Work Australia and Modern Awards, the National Broadband Network (which would give fast internet nationwide, including regional & rural), Plain packaging for cigarettes (a leader ahead of other nations wanting to adopt the same) and an apology to all persons affected by forced adoption practices, to name a few.

In fact, the IPA, the right wing think tank of Australia, found Prime Minister Gillard’s progress for Australians, so threatening to the Liberal way of life, they have issued a list to Abbott in 2011, to which he has agreed to implement.

The threat to the Liberal’s right-wing side of politics, that these progressive changes of the Gillard Government would become norm and adopted as the status quo amongst Australians, was a serious concern and action needed to be taken.

Indeed action was taken. The Liberals did not hold the balance of power in the senate, as they did in 1975, so they needed to adopt ways and means of bringing down a progressive and effective Government. They needed to ensure that the Liberals gained power. To do this, they needed to taint the left as corrupt, a shambles and not to be trusted.

The onslaught on Julia Gillard during her Prime Ministership was relentless, astounding, hateful and most of all untruthful.

The right, did not care if Prime Minister Gillard was not a criminal. The fact of the matter is, they had to paint her as a criminal to bring her down. Once the trust of the electorates where broken, through this tactic, they were home and hosed.

The idea behind the IPA’s list of ideas to Abbott is so that reforms could be torn down, as quickly as possible and that a push to the right through Liberal policy can shift the status quo to the hard right. The reasoning behind this, is once this becomes status quo, it will be extremely hard for any left Government in power to shift policy back to the progressive left.

This is summarized in this quote below from John Roskam, James Paterson and Chris Berg of the IPA:

Only radical change that shifts the entire political spectrum, like Gough Whitlam did, has any chance of effecting lasting change. Of course, you don’t have to be from the left of politics to leave lasting change on the political spectrum.

Essentially, the IPA has requested Abbott push the country as far right as possible, so it then becomes adopted by the public as the status quo and becomes normal over time. This is the impetus behind the relentless attacks on the Prime Minister Gillard and her Government.

Now we have a situation where the former Prime Minister has been cleared of all criminal activity. The question is, how did this play in the minds of voters at the election in 2013? How did this sway the votes to the ‘trusted right?’ The question we need to ask ourselves now and in the future, is now we understand the true agenda of the Liberal party, do we vote again in 2016/17 for a progressive Australia, or the Liberals return to mediocrity?

With Gough’s passing, It’s time to think about where we are headed.

goughToday’s passing of Gough Whitlam has left me today with a heavy heart, along with so many other people in this country.  To simply reflect on how one man has progressed this country like no other, is overwhelming.   I believe as a collective, we don’t really stop and appreciate what we have.  We do take our wonderful country, our people and our existing social support systems for granted.  So many things we would not have without Gough Whitlam. Thank you, to a great man.

Like many others, I spend my days and nights thinking about the Abbott Government and worrying about their next plan or policy that could harm us now and for generations to come.  I worry about the deals in the Senate and what destructive policy may slip through for approval. I worry about the vulnerable, the disadvantaged.  I worry about families, teenagers, the elderly and young children.  I worry about our nation’s first people. I worry about our environment, entire communities, particularly in rural and regional areas.

I have realised, that I am part of a collective, that in reality is taking part in a war; but we use our voices, not guns.

I know this, as I know there are many like me, who stay informed and are active and do everything we can to prevent Abbott’s destructive policies and plans for our communities and country. (and to these people I say thank you.)

Last night, I was researching the IPA’s influence on our Prime Minister.  For those of you who are not aware of the IPA., they class themselves as the “independent, non-profit public policy think tank, dedicated to preserving and strengthening the foundations of economic and political freedom.”    In a nutshell, they are a union. Not the type of union that fights for rights and equality, but one that aims to demolish rights and equality through their right-wing ideological view of what Australia should look like.

On the 4 April, 2013, Tony Abbott promised the IPA that he would adopt their ideas. Some of the IPA’s ideas adopted or flagged as intended by our Prime Minister so far are:

  1. Repeal the Carbon Tax
  2. Abolish the Clean Energy Fund
  3. Repeal Section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act
  4. Introduce fee competition to Australian Universities
  5. Cease subsidising the Australian Car Industry
  6. Introduce a special economic zone in the north of Australia including:
    a) Lower personal income tax for residents
    b) Significantly expanded 457 Visa programs for workers
    c) Encourage the construction of dams
  7. Repeal the Mining Tax
  8. Privatise Medibank
  9. Privatise Australia Post
  10. Cease Funding the Australia Network

For those of you who may thought that the Abbott Government thinks up their own ideas, sorry to break it to you, but…no…as you can see above, an un-elected party –  IPA runs Australia.

The above list is from a more extensive list titled “Be Like Gough – 75 Radical Ideas to transform Australia.”  The title is not admiration of the left, but the right’s intrigue of how Gough Whitlam  radically transformed this country, with such a lasting legacy in such a small space of time.

With Gough’s passing, it is time to take a look at ourselves as a country and how we want to progress and what are we prepared to lose?  

What struck me as I was completing this research was a quote from the IPA’s  John Roskam, James Paterson and Chris Berg’s article:

Only radical change that shifts the entire political spectrum

AND

And the public’s bias towards the status quo has a habit of making even the most radical policy (like Medicare, or restrictions on freedom of speech) seem normal over time.

How will we be shaped by the Prime Minister’s enthusiasm to adopt and enforce policy under the direction of the IPA?  So many people at the moment are up in arms about freedom in the current climate of war and ISAS; but so many of us calmly sit at home and not realise what terror is upon is on the domestic front.

The reason why it is so important to stop and really take in what is happening here is, what does this IPA list really mean and what should we take from Abbott’s eagerness to adopt this list?

Essentially, the IPA has requested Abbott push the country as far right as possible, so it then becomes adopted by the public as the status quo and becomes normal over time.

As we sit around complacent and taking for granted our University system, our health system, our industrial relations protections, our right to live peacefully and not be racially vilified, a social welfare safety net and a basic minimum wage; we need to stop and think that with the wrong Government it could all be gone.

Everything mentioned above, that we enjoy, take for granted and cannot simply imagine not being there are also on the list of the IPA to attack, destroy and disintegrate.  A list that Abbott is so keen to ratify.

Stop and think for a moment.  If Abbott & the IPA’s agenda pans out; right-wing, neo-liberal ideology will become the norm.   Can you imagine one day for it to be normal to scoff at the idea of a Government wanting to introduce bulk billing doctors and free medical treatment?  Stop and think about that.

Gough’s “It’s Time” campaign was central to motivating the people of the country to recognise it was time for change.  Time to move beyond the selfish, stagnant, egoist policies of a Liberal Government and progress.   Malcolm Fraser said today that the Liberal Party has jumped leagues to the right and the ALP has jumped leagues to the right from Whitlam.

It is time to speak up about progress, to want it, to desire it so much it hurts.  It is time for the opposition to lead the country back to the left. To set a solid platform for strong change and progress.  Real respect for Gough starts with respect and commitment to the legacy he left for us.  It’s time for change.

Gough’s policies changed Australia forever, in a very good way. The best way and the way forward.  It only takes one election to have us put our guard down. To be complacent, to donkey vote, or to take slogans as something meaningful and promising for our nation, rather than seeing them for the vapid, empty, soul-destroying agenda’s that they really are.

Gough Whitlam’s passing today really highlights how destructive the Abbott Government is. It is heartbreaking our country has come to this.

The Myth about Jobseekers & the Government’s Poverty Agenda

Letter to the Editor of The Morning
Bulletin 16/05/2014

During the election campaign Ms. Landry reassured voters that she knew what it was like to struggle. She could empathise with battlers and she understood their plight. I now wonder if Ms. Landry’s understanding of ‘battler’ is the same as mine and many others in this community.

After the budget announcement, I turned my thoughts to the people who make up this great community that I grew up in.  Ms. Landry’s Government’s focus is to treat with extreme harshness, the disadvantaged in this community. People under 25 will not receive any assistance, unless they are enrolled in a study or employed.  If they don’t they will have no income. Food, clothing and shelter will not be a viable option.  No money to even purchase personal hygiene products. No money to give them even a skerrick of dignity.

According to the 2011 census data, in Capricornia we have 19,786 people between 15 and 25. Of the 13 253 Young people in the Labour force, 1,149 are jobseekers. That is an 8.4% youth unemployment rate in Capricornia, based on 2011 figures. However TMB reported in February that the current youth unemployment figure is 13.6% for 15 – 24 year olds. Therefore the following figures would be expectedly worse based on current data. If we look at entry level jobs, according to vacancy data for March for CQ, there were 949 vacancies across, entry level jobs. Even if this group were all job-ready (which many are not) and secured a job, 200 young people in this region would have no income at all. However, this group are competing with 1,905 unemployed persons across other age brackets, who most likely have more experience. Therefore, hundreds of Capricornian young people will be destitute, homeless and starving.

Census data for 2011 stated that 3060 were seeking work in Capricornia and the vacancy figures for CQ for March show there were 2433 vacancies, across all areas.  Considering 1466 of these vacancies are for experienced and qualified jobseekers, this makes the employment search for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged a terrifying impossibility for some. I never thought I would ever live in a country where the Government imposes poverty on its citizens.  Ms. Landry, you are a part of that and the people who voted for you are also now part of that. Albeit inadvertently. If you had been honest with this electorate about these cuts, would LNP still hold this seat today?

Could TMB interview Ms. Landry about what she is going to do for people in this community who will fall down the cracks and live in abject poverty?  What are her plans for job creation?  How will she respond to the increase in need to access charity services? How will she respond if the crime rate goes up?  What do the victims of this budget focus on as their hope, when all hope is taken away?

Our only real hope is if the Senate blocks supply and this vindictive, cruel and heartless Government is dissolved and we go back to the polls.

Letter to Senator Macdonald. GetUp! Australia Heads or tails. Life or Death Campaign

asylum-seekers torture

 

This is a letter sent to Senator Macdonald through the GetUp! Campaign to encourage Senators to vote against the proposed changes to the Migration Act, including the deportation of Asylum Seekers with a 50% risk of facing harm, torture or death. Please follow this link and write to your Senator.

GetUp! Australia Heads or tails. Life or death Campaign

 

Dear Senator Macdonald

I am extremely concerned with Scott Morrison’s latest announcements of deporting asylum seekers based on the notion of a 50% or less chance of torture or serious harm. I have particular concerns about women and children seeking asylum. The specifics concerning gender specific torture or harm are never discussed or exposed, in a debate about asylum seekers which is generally silent. The following is an excerpt from a letter I sent to the Prime Minister and Minister for Women in December 2013. I hope the following influences your decision to vote against Scott Morrison’s proposal to return asylum seekers to the risk of harm, torture and death.

In a journal article published in the journal of Refugee studies, “Marginal Women, Marginal Rights: Impediments to Gender-Based Persecution Claims by Asylum-seeking Women in Australia”, McPherson et. al (2011) have identified two barriers to women’s claims of Gender Based Persecution: Emergence Barriers, and Assessment Barriers. Emergence Barriers speak to the factors impeding articulation of a claim. Although the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship has responded to the authors of this journal article, the following were not addressed:

Women applicants should systematically be interviewed separately from their spouse and should be allocated a female case officer, interviewer and interpreter.

Case officers should receive training and advice, from appropriately qualified staff working in the women’s violence services or refugee trauma support services, to help them understand the psychological effects of trauma, and its links to non-disclosure.
Every negative decision should be independently reviewed by a second officer or panel. Applicants should be systematically informed, from the outset, that asylum requests may be based on claims of GBP.

This article also highlights that:

“The bases upon which clients of our interviewees made asylum claims included sex slavery, rape, sexual abuse and attack, fear of honour killings, female genital mutilation, domestic abuse, emotional abuse, one-child policies, discrimination due to sexual orientation or feminist political activism, children being under threat, general religious restrictions on women, sexual harassment, denial of education, forced marriages, slavery, trafficking, and imprisonment” (p. 331)

It is my concern that this Government’s hard-line stance on Asylum Seekers and ‘turning back the boats’ has become instrumental in ensuring that the reasons women seek asylum remain silent, through the absence of leadership highlighting the atrocities asylum seekers are fleeing from, particularly women. It is also my concern that this Government’s hardline stance and popularity on the issue, has become instrumental to the increase in expressions of hatred and vilification of asylum seekers, particularly noticeable across social media forums.

Once again, this Government’s leadership highlighting reasons women flee asylum is absent and your Government makes no move to challenge this growing discourse. This only serves to further oppress and harm women, fleeing abhorrent levels of violence which ordinary citizens in Australia could never imagine. It can be summed up by this quote:

“Before atrocities are recognized as such, they are authoritatively regarded as either too extraordinary to be believable or too ordinary to be atrocious. If the events are socially considered unusual, the fact that they happened is denied in specific instances; if they are regarded as usual, the fact that they are violating is denied: if it’s happening, it’s not so bad, and if it’s really bad, it isn’t happening (MacKinnon 2006: 3, cited in McPherson, et. al, 2011).

The Hon Judi Moylan MP states in her article “Desperation, Displacement and Detention: Australia’s Treatment of Asylum Seekers Past and Present” Prison Service Journal (2013) that:

“It is axiomatic that tough deterrent policies have not stopped boat arrivals and it is unlikely that any civilised jurisdiction can invoke penalties so harsh, that they stop people escaping unimaginable brutalities. Managing the human dimensions of refugees fleeing war and civil unrest will require a return to regional processing, including ‘effective protections’ and a commitment to resettlement by participating host countries as indicated by UNHCR”

It is my concern that there is a plethora of research which highlights that this Government and the former Government’s stance on off shore processing, only seeks to place those seeking asylum, particularly women seeking asylum under more hardship and harm and as the Government’s policies encourage this.

Senator McDonald, considering the above information, I implore you to vote against Scott Morrison’s proposed changes to deport asylum seekers within the proposed changes to the Migration Act.

Yours faithfully

Patricia Corry

The LNP’s agenda for welfare. A clarification of what drug testing really means.

drugs lnp

This is a follow on from my previous blog post Drug Testing and the LNP’s ongoing stigmatization of the poor. After quite a large ongoing debate on Twitter and in comments yesterday, I wanted to clarify some points.

Here is the link to the news story relating to the previous blog post. Now we have mandatory drug testing being flagged for people in receipt of unemployment benefits. For those who haven’t caught up yet.

There were many comments following my last blog post, including quite a debate on Twitter. I am writing to clarify some comments and also the reason I have concerns with this move by the Government.

To answer some of the questions – Have I been drug tested? Who cares? No one’s business. What is my personal experience with drugs? Who cares? No one’s business.  Why are you “Pro-Drugs?” Um… I’m not.

I have found these Questions on twitter and in comments a bit weird. I’ve copped some odd questions in the past 24 hours, from those who support the drug testing of recipients of unemployment benefits.

Amongst other reasons, my passion for writing this story comes from two incidents when I worked in recruitment years ago. As we know many sites do pre-employment drug testing. There were a few times where people failed and they gave heads up prior to the test. When you do work in recruitment, you learn not to judge people as the most unlikely stereotypes have come back with a negative screen. This is what the Government is trying to do. Maintain a discourse and public perception of stereotypes – negative stereotypes.

Two incidents remain with me. One was a young lad who was on injections for a psych disability. He was well managed and was already working and was looking for a better job. He was a suitable applicant and the employer liked him and asked for the pre-employment testing to be done. He said he had trouble before with tests and had a letter from the hospital. He came back positive for three drugs (one was not THC, which is the most common negative screen). I remember one was amphetamines. The employer refused to take him (although he did have a letter) and the biggest one of all was the tester at the lab (the head tester, as I’d asked to go to the top) specified there was no way of knowing if he was on illicit drugs as well as injections and medications for psych illness. So no support from the lab to give to the employer. The employer said, even if he could, it would never get through head office. He was not hired. He left dejected, but understood as he was already used to misconceptions about who he was and had already experienced this before.

The other incident was another person who returned positive for THC (marijuana) . He and his wife were in tears insisting they were good people and had never ever taken any drugs. They were visibly shocked. He said that the night before he had gone to a club and his friends were smoking in the toilets. He said he was not. He said he didn’t even have a drink as he was designated driver (there was a lot of anxiety going on at this time – as I said he was nearly in tears, his wife was in tears). Once again the employer wouldn’t take him. Once again, I approached the tester and once again the head tester and they said passive intake is like a million to one. Highly unlikely. I approached my manager. She told me not to be so naive and had a laugh. I had a gut feeling this man was telling the truth, but my hands were tied. I convinced the employer to allow him to take a follow up test. I think it was the next day or the day after, he come back with a negative screen and got the job. He was there for longer than I was at the recruitment company and feedback was always good. (I also followed up and asked my own doctor about this and my doctor did not agree with the lab tester and said that passive inhalation for a positive screen can occur.)

The reason why I am passionate about this, as I have worked across all types of recruitment, private labour hire, Government Job Search and disability employment. I have worked with all different types of employers and all different types of job seekers, and I have seen inequity and unfairness in recruitment & selection, including drug testing.  As you can see in both examples given, the testers only look at the screen and don’t support any other reasoning for why. It doesn’t measure frequency. THC can show up for up to two weeks to a month for regular user of marijuana.  People will have their income revoked if the same thing happens to them. People will have their income revoked, even if they didn’t purchase said drug, but participated in a ‘recreational’ or ‘experimental’ activity for the first time. They will have a record as a ‘drug addict’

My previous blog post isn’t about drugs. My blog post is about the Government setting down rules that are ideal to them of what is good behaviour and deviant behaviour from their viewpoint.

For those that missed the message of my previous blog post, let me clarify:

      • It is about shaping society to believe that people on welfare are the most prominent group of drug users (deviant behaviour).
      • It is about the Government convincing the public that people on welfare are indeed deviants who waste tax payer dollars.
      • It is about shaping public opinion of ‘deviates’ to further attack the welfare system, payments and social supports. (How well has this worked for the the Government, in opposition and now on Asylum seekers).
      • It is about the Government’s outlook to attack minority groups and disadvantaged groups and not support them.
      • It is about the Government’s focus on punitive measures rather than preventative or support measures.
      • It is about reducing welfare, but implementing a costly measure to target certain groups, to change public perception.
      • It is about the insincere approach to the problem, as it is about cutting benefits and not referral for treatment.
      • It is about the Government knowing that some people will not have the self-efficacy to fight against unfair treatment.
      • It is about implementing a measure that has the potential to be ‘private’ so the LNP will not ‘discuss ‘on-drugs’ matters” They will merely say “it is working”
      • It is about the further stigmatization of people with a disability, as Australian statistics show a high number of illicit drug users have a co-morbidity of mental illness.
      • It is about the Government’s attempt to permeate our country with neo-liberalist ideology. The main aim is to be hands off, to privatise, deregulate, remove Government supports and set an agenda that people are equal and free to form their own relationships and pave their own way. We know in society this is not true for all people. We know in society, there are those that need support and assistance.

For those who say false positives hardly ever happen. This is why my previous blog post, addresses false positives. They may not happen every time, but there is an abundance of research in this area to support that they do happen. My two examples show that false positives affect real people, affecting real lives. In one town, in Australia, over a period of six months. Imagine this occurring on a wider scale.

We can clearly see from this agenda is that there is a risk of innocent people being taken off income, unfairly. We can see that there will be people stigmatized through this testing. We can see that there will be people who do not have the self efficacy to use the complaints process (example 1) and some that do (example 2). We can see that the person who did not have the self efficacy to use the complaints process had a co-morbidity of mental illness.  There will be people without a co-morbidity of a mental illness, who also will not have the self efficacy to use the complaints process. Especially those who have had negative experiences in the past with raising complaints and some who feel it is too complicated or may be fearful it may hurt them in the future.

For those that say that “most people I know on welfare are on drugs” or “They sell drugs outside centrelink.” There are also many who do not take drugs and need benefits to survive. There may be drug dealers outside your centrelink, but I haven’t heard of that in my town. However, I was approached in the laundromat once. Maybe people who need to wash their king sized doona at the laundromat are all drug users….not!

Australian statistics show that of illicit drug users 24% cite unemployed as their labour force status. 76% of drug users take up the other labour force status groups.  More interesting is the stats on socio economic status, which have for the most recent illicit drug users is 15% average across all groups. This clearly states that the highest socio economic status has exactly the same use experience as those in the lowest and middle socio economic groups.  So for those already convinced that nearly all those on welfare are all on drugs. The facts do not support your delusions.

The biggest frustration I have found in the last 24 hours within this debate, was that ‘people are off Tony’, ‘the Liberals are on the nose’ but so many still do not get what this party is about. They still do not ‘get’ the agenda of this Government.

Things I predict we can look forward to, if this gets through:

        • Further reduction in monetary support for those on welfare
        • Further extension of unpaid labour not supported by the protections of minimum wage and workplace health and safety.
        • An extension to other welfare groups, pensions etc., to drug testing
        • A higher forced take up of the basics card or a shift to food stamps
        • An increase in crime
        • An increase in poverty
        • A move towards removing minimum wage (as so many unemployed could be employed if we removed this red tape)
        • A move towards removing fairness clauses in the fair work act
        • A move back to individual agreements and the abolishment of collective bargaining and awards.

and most importantly

      • It is a move towards pockets of society screaming about the scum of the earth drug addled welfare recipients and how Labor can’t control them and how the Liberals have them ‘under control’

Before you think this is just about controlling drug use for people on welfare, or to stop people on welfare wasting tax payer dollars; please consider the above points as part of a whole agenda.

That is it from me, but feel free to add any more. I hope this clarifies that I am not ‘Pro-Drugs’ I am “Anti-Stigmatization” “Anti-Neo-Liberalism” and “Pro-Fairness” and “Pro-Support”.

 

Drug Testing and the LNP’s Ongoing Stigmatization of the Poor

corporate welfare

The message that the Abbott Government is sending Australians and the world, is that Australian people in receipt of welfare are lazy, drug addled parasitic bludgers who have the only aim in life of ripping off the tax payer. The constant use of ‘welfare recipient’ and ‘unemployed’ rather than the use of the positive ‘job seeker’; the punitive measures such as cancelling of benefits as a prime punishment; forced labour not supported by workplace health and safety protections, nor minimum wage all serve to create a negative stereotype of welfare recipients. Now we have mandatory drug testing being flagged for people in receipt of unemployment benefits.

Mandatory drug testing was flagged whilst LNP were in opposition, particularly pushed by the born to rule, privileged class of the Young Liberals.  The group who have the highest likelihood of being able to be supported by their parents as unemployed adults; being afforded the privilege of gaining employment with their parents or their parents friends and being afforded the privilege access to many other social benefits, such as never going hungry and never being homeless.

The underlying argument for drug testing of welfare recipients, is that people on welfare are drug takers and associate with drug addled groups of friends and they should not use tax payers money to do so.  The fact is, people across all levels of society can take drugs, so if the Government was so concerned about the use of tax payers money to purchase illegal substances then the following groups should also be tested.

  • All Government Scholarship Recipients
  • All Politicians, Federal, State and Local Government
  • All public servants, state and federal
  • Farmers who receive subsidies
  • Mining Magnates who receive subsidies
  • CEOs and  Board Directors in receipt of corporate welfare
  • All research groups in receipt of Government funded research grants
  • All CEOs and Board Directors of NGO’s in receipt of Government funding

If the concern is about drugs and not about stigmatising welfare; then testing of these groups can be supported by studies in the United States indicate that rates of drug and alcohol problems in welfare recipients were no greater than the general population, or non-recipients of welfare.

Some of the answers against testing all of these groups, would be the cost to the tax payer. However, so does the drug testing of welfare recipients. In fact, studies show that of States in the USA who have drug tested welfare recipients, only a very small percentage showed positive, as compared to the general population.  This will be a counter productive exercise which will in fact cost the tax payer a lot more than any recouping of welfare dollars.

The only real answer against testing the above groups, is that they do not make the list of groups that the Abbott Government has an agenda to stigmatize.

One of the biggest concerns cited within the literature surrounding random workplace drug testing, is that of a false positive. A false positive is where the drug test shows a positive result, but the recipient of the test is not an active user of illicit drugs.  The other concern within the literature is unfair dismissal, where it is too difficult to determine the length of time a drug has been in a person’s system and there is no measure of impairment and the result would not impact on the safety of the tasks performed.

Another concern, is that there is no way of detecting how it was administered. This includes being in the same vicinity of someone engaged in the smoking of cannabis (passive inhalation) or the biggest concern, pharmaceutical and prescribed medications and the ingestion of some foods.

Please see the appendix for a list of substances that can return a false positive in a drug test:

To put this list quite simply – the following common substances can return a false positive:

  • Poppy Seeds
  • Cocoa Leaf Tea
  • Herbal Medicines
  • Nasal Inhalers (ie as in the ones you use when you have a cold)
  • Cold and Flu tablets
  • Cough medications
  • Prescribed mental health drugs, including anti-depressives and anti-psychotics and ADHD medications
  • Ibuprofen (for example but not limited to: Nurefon)
  • Codeine (for example but not limited to: Panadeine Forte)
  • Pain relievers (for example but not limited to Tramadol)

The above information poses some serious questions:

  1. Will the Government be prepared to drug test all the non-welfare recipient groups listed above?
  2. If the Government is only prepared to drug test welfare recipients only, what is the argument that this is not to purposely stigmatise this group of welfare recipients?
  3. Is the drug testing of welfare recipients a demarcation of deviant and acceptable behaviour in society to shape the public view as negative towards welfare recipients?
  4. What studies has the Government done into False Positives in drug testing?
  5. How can the Government guarantee that income will not be stopped in the case of false positives?
  6. With the ongoing active stigmatisation of welfare recipients by the Abbott Government, what systems will the Government have in place to ensure that welfare recipients will not be unfairly treated and that their objections will be listened to, in the event of a positive result, that the recipient claims is false?
  7. In the case of a false positive, what research has the Government done on the self-efficacy of welfare recipients to use the complaints process?
  8. Knowing that common prescribed drugs and some foods can return a false positive, would Mr. Abbott and his Government also be confident that they will never return a positive drug test?
  9. What impact will this have on regional, rural and remote areas without drug testing clinics?
  10. Will drug testing be bulk billed, will the welfare recipient have to pay full cost, or will it attract the GP Co-payment Tax?
  11. Drug dependency can equate to disability. What are the scenarios for illicit drug dependent welfare recipients, who do not qualify for disability, but are assessed to work more than 15 hours per week and are on Newstart?
  12. Will the Government’s only agenda be to stop welfare payments, or will they be referring positive testers for treatment? If so, what is the cost to the taxpayer?  If the Government isn’t referring for treatment, why not?
  13. What impact will the removal of benefits have on the children of welfare recipients?
  14. For all the LNP politicians advocating initiatives that deny financial assistance to welfare recipients; on a scale of one to ten, (one being the least hypocritical and ten being the most hypocritical) what level of hypocrisy will be felt for those who will be participating in the 2014 Vinnies CEO Sleepout on Thursday 19 June?

This is quite a complex area and I have tried to be as brief as possible to hold the readers attention.
I would urge everyone who is concerned with this, to push this to the wider media and also to politicians to seek answers on this new “Government Initiative of Stigmatising the Poor.”

 
 
Bibliography:
Amundson, K, Zajicek, A, & Hunt, V 2014, ‘Pathologies of the Poor: What do the War on Drugs and Welfare Reform Have in Common?’, Journal Of Sociology & Social Welfare, vol. 41, no. 1, pp. 5-28.
Begala, P. 2013. “Drug Testing for Congressmen.” Newsweek Global 161, no. 11: 1.
Berger, PB n.d., ‘Science misapplied: mandatory addiction screening and treatment for welfare recipients in Ontario’, CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association Journal, vol. 165, no. 4, p. 443-444.
Blank, A, Hellstern, V, Schuster, D, Hartmann, M, Matthée, A, Burhenne, J, Haefeli, W, & Mikus, G 2009, ‘Efavirenz Treatment and False-Positive Results in Benzodiazepine Screening Tests’, Clinical Infectious Diseases, vol. 48, no. 12, pp. 1787-1789.
Brahm, N, Yeager, L, Fox, M, Farmer, K, & Palmer, T 2010, ‘Commonly prescribed medications and potential false-positive urine drug screens’, American Journal Of Health-System Pharmacy, vol. 67, No. 16, pp. 1344-1350.
Chathanchirayil, S 2011, ‘False positive urine drug screening for tricyclic antidepressants in patients taking quetiapine’, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 45, No. 9.
Fitzsimons, M, Ishizawa, Y, & Baker, K 2013, ‘Drug testing physicians for substances of abuse: case report of a false-positive result’, Journal Of Clinical Anesthesia, vol. 25, no. 8, pp. 669-671.
Gunders, L 2012, ‘Immoral and un-Australian: the discursive exclusion of welfare recipients’, Critical Discourse Studies, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 1-13.
Makkai, T, 2000, Drug Use Monitoring in Australia (DUMA): Drug Detection Testing, Australian Institute of Criminology, Research and Public Policy Series No. 25.
Moeller, K, Lee, K, & Kissack, J 2008, ‘Urine drug screening: practical guide for clinicians’, Mayo Clinic Proceedings, vol. 83, no. 1, pp. 66-76.
Pollack, H, Danziger, S, Jayakody, R, & Seefeldt, K 2002, ‘Drug testing welfare recipients—false positives, false negatives, unanticipated opportunities’, Women’s Health Issues, vol. 12, no. 1, pp 23-31.
 

 Appendix:

List of substances that can return a false positive in a drug test

drugs

Landry Laughs at Budget Cut Hurt

Budget 2014

In Question time 26/05/14, Tanya Plibersek, asked a question about our electorate and Michelle Landry, Member for Capricornia. The question was as follows:

My question is to the Prime Minister. Prime Minister, There are 8429 families currently receiving Family Tax Benefit B in the seat of Capricornia. How many families with children over the age of six in Capricornia will have their payments cut as a result of this budget? Why should these families suffer because of the Member for Capricornia’s failure to stand up against the Prime Minister’s cuts?

 

The PM didn’t respond to the implications of the cuts. In fact, he showed no empathy at all. He accused Labor of supporting welfare as “pseudo-generosity.” What he is saying is Labor gives to those in need, but is not genuine in that giving. That this ‘giving’ shouldn’t be taken seriously. He has clearly stated in response to a serious question about this electorate, that he finds welfare to the disadvantaged as ‘generosity’ and not a right.

The Member for Capricornia & LNP believe in a class divide. They clearly believe it will be OK for parents not to be able to afford a balanced healthy lunch for their school children. That they may need to make a decision between a child’s breakfast or lunch. They don’t understand the importance of being able to afford the right school supplies and uniforms. They don’t realise the pain a parent feels when they say, “No honey, I’m sorry, you can’t go on that excursion.” Or, I’d love for you to join a sport with your friends, or take singing lessons for the Eisteddfod, but I’m sorry you just can’t.”  Michelle Landry’s LNP sees the money that prevents this pain as an unnecessary generosity and not a right to the disadvantaged.

Landry’s LNP makes decisions from a background of privilege and they will never understand the hardship that the loss of even small amounts of money brings to some families.

The PM then told Labor they should cut the carbon tax, as it will save families $550 per year.

During the question, the camera panned to Ms. Landry. It showed Ms. Landry quite pleased with herself and she was laughing at the Prime Minister’s response to this very serious question.

 

landry laughing

 

Ms. Landry was laughing at harsh cuts that will see two parents both working as for example, shop assistants or a general labourer and an admin assistant, with two children, lose $4931 per year; or the jobseeker under 30, who will lose an incredible $6944 per year and have absolutely no income for six months. This person will not have any income for even a basic existence or the basic right to dignity. They will lose a lot more than $550, which is already compensated.

Will Ms. Landry be brave enough when she gets back from the rigours of parliament, to stand up in public and laugh in front of the people who are suffering these harsh cuts, or will she have the decency to stand up to this Government and for the people of Capricornia?

I have also sent this a a letter to the Editor of the Rockhampton Morning Bulletin in response to the question about the affect the budget will have on families in the electorate I live in.  I hope it is published so the people in the electorate of Capricornia who voted LNP, understand that they voted for Ms. Landry to bring pain and hardship to this electorate.

Tony Abbott really is the Wizard of Oz

Wizard-of-Oz-Cast.-10124It isn’t right that a Prime Minister, who was dancing around like an audition for an Antz Pantz advert, screaming “The Government of Australia has changed! The Government of Australia has changed!” to thousands upon thousands of citizens who voted for him that day to plummet to the depths of poll hatred in a matter of months.

So what is really going on here? I think the analysis of why Abbott has plummeted in the polls, compared with anyone before him, is like comparing apples and oranges.

It would stand to reason, if an opposition leader fought on an honest platform, with vision and integrity for the betterment of the country, was voted in as Prime Minister, would either maintain popularity or increase popularity as this vision, built on an honest platform was implemented.

However, Mr. Abbott did not run on an honest platform. He promised the earth to the citizens of Australia and they got mud instead.

What Mr. Abbott didn’t realise, whilst in opposition was his strategy of bashing Labor, accusing them of deceit and lies and the creators of enormous, bad debt has contributed to his lack of popularity now.

If Abbott was a real strategist and a real leader, In 2010, he would have stepped up with honesty and humility and advised the people of Australia that he was prepared to introduce a carbon tax as well and in fact the only thing he wouldn’t do was sell his arse and it was a requirement to form Government with other parties. He could have built himself up in opposition, as a gracious, humble but honest leader.

However, just like a classic text book example of poor emotional intelligence, Abbott displayed poor self-regulation of emotions. In opposition, he acted upon his greed for leadership, driving forward an agenda of negativity about Labor amongst Australians. With poor self-regulation of emotions, he didn’t take the time to understand how his negativity and negative acts would affect the nation’s citizens.

In opposition, he acted with a bounded rationality, the limited cognitive ability of his own mind and made a decision to be an aggressive, unrelenting opposition leader. He was spreading like a contagion negativity, hatred and loathing towards Labor. This agenda worked, and he did become Prime Minister.  However, in another classic text book example of poor emotional intelligence, he lacked a deep insight into the symbolic and social interactions between himself and others – the voters.

He saw the citizens of this country up in arms about his versions of carbon tax, debt, boats and mess. He misunderstood this as solidarity, a positive event, resulting in mateship, togetherness and unity.  He thought that the emotion he was stirring was one of reverence and adoration towards himself as the people placed him in a position of legitimate power. He saw unity of purpose.  

However, the emotion he had really awakened was a sleeping monster called ‘The Fair Go’

Through Abbott’s negative, deceitful agenda and accusations surrounding the carbon tax, debt and asylum seekers the citizens of this nation saw from their perspective that they were not getting a fair go. and they were angry about it and they voted with that anger.

abbott landry pineapple2What Abbott should have been learning about the emotional state of Australia during the time of  setting Julia Gillard up with Carbon Tax Lies, is in general, Australians don’t like a rough end of a pineapple up their backsides. They don’t want to get F$@% in the Drive-through, they don’t want to get ripped off at the checkout and they don’t like dodgy refs at the footy. When we say “Fair Go, Mate” it has substance. We, as Australians, actually mean it.

wizard_oz_0712

See, Abbott was leading everyone down the yellow brick road to their most deepest desire – A Fair Go for all. He postured himself as the Great Wizard of Oz, who could give every citizen their heart’s desire, A Fair Go. However, when the citizens got to the end of the road and the Wizard of Oz delivered his budget – his great plans for Australia, the people’s dreams didn’t come true.

 

They saw the Great Wizard of Oz was just a man hiding behind a curtain, surrounded by a lot of steaming hot air and superficial bells and whistles.

They were told “Not to worry about the man behind the curtain” but he had exposed his true self and they wanted to know, “who the hell is he really?”  This isn’t the man they had come such a long way to see in action. The people were defeated because he simply could not give them what they desired. He was not the saviour of all citizens, he was not a miraculous wizard. He was simply just a man. A deceitful man.

The funny thing is, by lying about the Carbon Tax as an agreement to form Government and accusing Julia Gillard and Labor of lies, it has stirred an emotion inside once apathetic Australians, that is now manifesting and won’t let go. An emotion that now places Abbott squarely as one of the most hated Prime Ministers in the World.

In keeping true to the storyline of the Wizard of Oz, Abbott has encouraged people to look inside themselves for their true desire and realise it was there all along.

To all the Tin Men out there who voted without a Heart; through his budget measures, Abbott has given you the heart to feel compassion for the disadvantaged in our society. He has given you the heart to understand that he has removed people’s rights and not ended the age of entitlement. He has given you the heart to understand that our taxes as a collective give sick men, women and children, the fundamental right to universal health care and should never be compromised.

To all the Scarecrows out there who voted without a brain; through his budget measures, Abbott has given you the brains to stop reading Murdoch news, to stop basing your decisions on three word slogans and pamphlets and to educate yourself on the real state of affairs by reading a wide range of news. He has given you the brains to understand that the global economy does not operate like your household budget.

To all the MiM6Lions out there, who voted without any courage; through his budget measures, Abbott has given you the courage to open up political discussions with friends, the courage to write letters to the Editor, the courage to join in on political forums and the courage to march with thousands of others in protest against the worst decisions a Government has made, since Federation.

And to you Dorothy, the one who voted with kindness, compassion and an ethical platform of justice, you know you aren’t in Australia anymore. But you have faith, that with your friends The Tin Man, The Scarecrow and the Lion, you will keep marching along together, until you wake up and find yourself again in a country based on democracy, a fair go, social justice, universal health, affordable education and where there is no class divide.

I never thought I would say this Mr. Abbott, but, your agenda of deceit and negativity on the Carbon Tax, Boats and Debt and Deficit, has resulted in one of the most positive outcomes for our society as a whole….and for that, I say Thank You.

To understand the Real Solutions the Budget Brings, You Need to Think Like a Bastard

Over the last few days, I have been at a loss to try to work out, what problems the Liberal National Coalition are trying to solve with their 2014 Budget. It didn’t matter what I came up with – a solution to increasing the value of our education…Nope. A solution to providing support to the jobless to secure employment and make their way in the world…Nope. A solution to improving our standard of health in this country…Nope. Then I realised…I needed to think like a Bastard. I did tweet this today and a fellow tweeter responded with a more apt update:

What can help understand the budget? The Bastard Thinking Cap Can!

The Bastard thinking cap blocks out all empathy and rational thought and just makes you think like a conservative, pompous, out of touch with reality, elitist Bastard. If we put our Bastard Thinking Cap on, the problems the budget is trying to solve becomes crystal clear. I will now outline the problem and solutions below with my Bastard Thinking Cap firmly in place.

613395-joe-hockey

 

 

Left: Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey demonstrate their custom designed Bastard Thinking Caps.

 

 

Problem – Australia currently does not have a big enough class divide. We have far too much of the ‘middle class and frankly they don’t do enough.’ We need to widen the divide so we create an elitist ruling class and a poverty-stricken class. The poverty stricken class must be large and live in abject poverty and the Elitist ruling class must be extremely wealthy and have a lot of power.  This will then act as a driver to the middle class who are the main drivers of  the economy. They will then try to work their guts out for a long time, until 70 to achieve status of the elitist ruling class (but we will make sure they don’t get there), out of fear they may end up in the poverty class. This increase in productivity will be good for the country, as long as we can keep this model sustainable.

Solution:  Budget 2014 – Force people into abject poverty for at least six months of the year and take thousands of dollars from the lower and middle classes. This will create a massive class divide. If they don’t end up in the poverty class, they will get a taste of it and that is a good way to solve our problem.

Problem – The problem with Australia is we currently have a lot of those low socio economic leftist thinkers and ugh ‘poor people’ making a lot of noise and disrupting the good work of the Government with all their protests and ideas.  If they didn’t have ideas of their own, they wouldn’t protest.  We certainly need to stop them getting into any area where they might have power or make laws for this country. How can we stop the ideas from the socially left rabble and ugh ‘poor people’?

Solution part A -Budget 2014 – Firstly we need to stop of those kids from poor families attending a public school getting into university. We need to rip out a lot of money from the school system. Parents of Calibre who love their children will already have made something of their life to earn enough to put their child into a private school.  This way nearly all university students will be from the elitist ruling class, and deservedly so. 

Solution part B – Budget 2014 – We need to make it really tough for poor people to enter University. Our main aim is to stop any ideas from poor people and prevent them at all costs from getting into jobs where they have power or create rules or laws.  Therefore as part of Budget 2014, we will make sure that it is really expensive to go to university. Parents of Calibre will already have made something of their life to support their kids at uni. This way only the elitist class will graduate into jobs that gives them power and ability to make rules and laws, and deservedly so.

Problem – The  problem is Australia has too many poor people sponging off the health system. If the elitist class need to spend their hard earned money to pay for private cover, why should they fund the poor people to go to the doctor as well? We need to make sure that they understand that going to the doctor is just for sick people. Not just bludging hypochondriacs who mooch off the tax payer.  Besides, we can’t have these people clogging up the public system. The problem in Australia, is if there was an epidemic or major disaster and the doctors and private hospitals didn’t have enough room, we are paving the way to ensure that some simply cannot afford to go. This will make room for the elitist class if they need to use the health system, in the event of an epidemic or major disaster and deservedly so.

Solution:  Budget 2014 – Get rid of Universal Health Care. Charge poor people to go to the Doctor. This means that they won’t go to the Doctor as much and won’t be clogging up the health system.  The public system should be thought of as a contingency plan or ‘safe haven’ for the elitist class, in the case of an epidemic or disaster and there is no room in private.   For the under 30s who will have no income at all; this will encourage them to stay fit and healthy and looking for work, or they will need to suffer in silence as they don’t even have $7.00 for the doctor.  I mean, if these poor people sold the mags off the Commy and put on standard rims, they would have plenty of money to go to the doctor. It is simple really.

So there we have it folks. The Bastard Thinking Cap truly works. You really can think like a Real Bastard with one on. You really do think and feel like the 1%.
It makes understanding the Real Solutions behind the budget very easy indeed. Go on. Try it!

 

The original pic of Tony Abbott in this blog post he was wearing this rainbow hat:

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This is in fact a photo of Abbott in a rainbow hairnet worn by SPC and Ardmona workers in Shepparaton to raise awareness regarding organ and tissue donation, via the charity Zaidee’s Rainbow Foundation.
http://www.zaidee.org/about/


Zaidee Turner was the only person under the age of 16 to donate her organs and tissues
When she died of a cerebral haemorrage in 2004. Zaidee had lived in Shepparton

 The Author apologises if any offence was caused. No offence or intended mockery of this cause was intended by the Author.

Liberal and National Voters – Celebrate Hard This Xmas For All You Have Given Us

Well its the holidays Liberal & National Voters all around our wonderful country of Australia.  Get your Champers cracking because this week (just in time for Christmas Cheer) you have achieved…

Cutting funding to critical programs that support good and decent people and programs in our communitiesThe federal government has cut billions of dollars from programs ranging from the environment to health and indigenous legal aid  READ MORE HERE

Disrespecting the voice of our Indigenous People (again) ‘What Tony Abbott is proposing to do is slash funding to a body of elected indigenous representatives while spending $1 million to establish a hand-picked Ministerial Advisory Committee in its place (Shayne Nuemann) READ MORE HERE

”The new government has shown that they do not support real decision making for our families and communities through a national representative body chosen by our Peoples, for our Peoples.” (Kirstie Parker and Les Malezer)

Hitting the most vulnerable where it hurts I know the Liberal Party tell you that they believe “In a just and humane society, where those who cannot provide for themselves can live in dignity” (Federal Platform of the Liberal Party) this also means giving these people your precious Liberal Voting Tax Payer dollars – ie MONEY, not just your pity. READ MORE HERE

“I am very concerned that this approach people will see people facing a significantly increased risk of poverty as they are dumped people onto the lower Newstart Allowance. Reducing and restricting access to the DSP is about saving money, not getting people into work.” (Senator Rachel Siewert, The Greens)

Really, what better gift can you give those who have lost their homes?  With Australia’s bushfire and cyclone season looming, the Federal Government has announced an inquiry into national disaster funding arrangements. READ MORE HERE

Senator Cameron, who lives in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, which suffered a big bushfire in October, has accused the Federal Government of short-changing residents affected by the fires there (Looks like he is right….)

ABC News Comment post

ABC News Comment post

Destroying Hope for the most vulnerable in our society  Now, after the election, Mr Hockey is saying all cuts are on the table, including the NDIS.”   READ MORE HERE

“Forty-five per cent of Australians with a disability live in poverty. We need the NDIS to change those things and the last thing we want to have just before Christmas is the suggestion that it might be wound back.” (Australia’s disability discrimination commissioner, Graeme Innes)

Liberating workers from the Production Line Prime Minister Tony Abbott is happy to announce that he celebrates with you, the fact that all the people who have lost their jobs at Holden and associated industries, will be so liberated they will be lining up to thank you…the Liberal and National Voters of Australia READ MORE HERE

“Some of them will find it difficult, but many of them will probably be liberated to pursue new opportunities and to get on with their lives,” (Prime Minister Tony Abbott)  

Losing your job is not a ‘liberation’, Tony Abbott (Read Van Badham’s moving story here)

Now Now, we know its not personal against Holden, you will also celebrate the loss of hard workers at Toyota A private meeting between the prime minister, Tony Abbott, and leaders of the main manufacturing union has reinforced their fears that no extra taxpayer assistance will be offered for Toyota Australia to keep its car production operations in Melbourne, where it has a total workforce of 4,200. READ MORE HERE

Yay attacking those Greenies again. Gees…it’s not like they are a business and contribute to the economy or anything… A government decision to remove funding from environmental legal centres will expose communities to damaging development and reduce scrutiny on the mining industry… READ MORE HERE

Conservationists say mining industry will be ‘breaking out the champagne’ at cuts to Environmental Defenders Offices

 Aww sweet Liberal and National voters – you have someone to celebrate with!!

Giving gifts to the people who tell Tony Abbott what to do – The IPA and Rupert Murdoch are so excited, maybe their gift to themselves to will be a belated Christmas present, or an early birthday present.  All in all Liberal and National Voters, you can celebrate the battle for “Request number 50 to Tony Abbott from the IPA” Break up the ABC and put out to tender each individual function READ MORE HERE

Group Hug Liberal and National Voters. Your attack on humanity must be so appreciated amongst your own kind…. This Christmas, when you are kissing under the mistletoe with your much loved family and friends, firing up the BBQ on Christmas day and opening up gift wrapped I-Phones, I-Pods and I-Pads, please try to be humble this Christmas in your thoughts or prayers (if you do pray) and think what your #1 in the Ballot Box for Liberal or National has given Asylum Seekers this Christmas….

The Abbott government has disbanded a key group that provided advice on the health of asylum seekers in detention, as research reveals psychiatric problems – such as self-harm – are the most common reasons for the large number of detainee visits to hospital emergency departments. READ MORE HERE

Two women being held in immigration detention have lost their babies after repeatedly being turned away from medical care  READ MORE HERE

Ignoring the Experts (again) The Department of Immigration decides who leaves Christmas Island and the manner in which they leave. Doctors may say a child needs urgent surgery in Perth but the department decides when, if ever, that child will reach a hospital on the mainland. READ MORE HERE

And just in case you get the million dollar question and no lifelines – “What is a trait of Narcissistic Leadership…”A trait of Narcissistic Leadership is to Blame others and this is exactly what Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has done. Although he is in charge, somehow this is the fault of the previous Government….. 

An intellectually handicapped asylum seeker, who was deprived of her medication by authorities on Christmas Island and then separated from her mother, has begun exposing herself to male detainees, prompting fears she could be sexually assaulted. READ MORE HERE

And Progress will never be made whilst Foreign Ministers are stealing their wages by not doing an honest days work. An honest day’s work for an honest days pay should be the standard for everyone….Ms Bishop has come under fire for praising the conditions for asylum seekers on Nauru, after Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young that the minister had only visited staff housing, not the detainee tent accommodation  READ MORE HERE

Yes Liberal and National Voters, its all so easy to Celebrate when you have a helping hand by employing inappropriate people to the top jobs (but nudge nudge wink wink, as long as they are on your side, hey).

Jobs at Mate’s Rates – The Abbott Government has moved to reform the Australian Human Rights Commission by putting in charge a critic of the body whose former employer had called for it to be scrapped. READ MORE HERE

Late update: Anti-Bullying program may be cut to accommodate Tim Wilson’s $320,000 salary READ MORE HERE

The defence of free speech is vitally important, especially in Australia, but this should not come at the expense of the dignity and equality of the disadvantaged (Sarah Joseph)

And while we are on the subject of free speech, the Speaker of the House gives plenty of it to her party…. The parliamentary speaker, Bronwyn Bishop, faced fresh complaints about her impartiality after she appeared to take a dig at two Labor frontbenchers  READ MORE HERE

‘The office you hold is greater and more important than your own political rhetoric,’ (Tony Burke)

NB: Please see another blog , which covers discrimination due to the current marriage laws, amongst other areas of discrimination:  This is ongoing until it is addressed – An Open Letter to the Prime Minister and Minister for Women.

That was the week that was 15-21st  December 2013. Anyway enjoy your week-end coalition voters. Absolutely amazing effort this week. Don’t drink too much, you need to stand proud and all that…Cheers. See you next week.

 

Think Before you Vote.  Join a political party like the ALP or Greens or other left-wing/progressive parties. Get Active. Get Engaged. Discuss issues with family and friends. Share information on Social Media. Join Get Up! Read a wide range of news media. Work hard to prevent right-wing Governments like the Liberal-National Coalition destroying our great country, embarrassing us on the world stage and instilling great hardship on our loved ones, friends and neighbours and on our communities. You CAN make a difference! 

Trish Corry

trishcorry

trishcorry

I love to discuss Australian Politics. My key areas of interest are Welfare, Disadvantage, emotions in the workplace, organisational behaviour, stigma, leadership, women, unionism. I am pro-worker and anti-conservativism/Liberalism. You will find my blog posts written from a Laborist / Progressive Slant.

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