Thursday, July 18, 2013

Big business government

We're getting regular updates confirming that it's not our elected governments which are running the country, but big business.

One of the big factors in Kevin Rudd's removal as Labor leader and Prime Minister was his craven backdown when the big mining companies launched a scare campaign against his super profits tax.

The government sat down with them and allowed them to write the new law, ending  up with them getting more in tax credits than they pay in tax.

We had the NSW state government meekly agreeing to James Packer's demand to build a huge casino in Sydney. They kept their decision making secret, claiming confidentiality. In reality, now that the reports have been released we see their 'justification' for approval was nothing but spin.

We have a big problem with alcohol-fuelled violence in Sydney, but the liquor/licensed premises industry is, naturally, focussed solely on its profits. The pubs and clubs fight controls every inch of the way, getting the results they want.

The two big bottle shop players - inevitably Coles and Woolworths - have been offering 50% and more discounts on the back of their shop receipts. The government said it was going to ban the coupon, the companies started screaming so they were allowed to change the draft line by line.

They came up with fatuous arguments such as that as half price toilet paper and corn flake specials didn't increase the consumption of those items the same applied to grog.

It just goes on and on. Governments ceding control to companies which blabber on about corporate social responsibility but have only one focus, which is inevitably their bottom line.

And we're powerless, because whichever party we vote into office we get the same outcome.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Catching up

A lot to catch up on since I've been back, and a lot going on locally and around the world.

The tragedy of the nineteen firefighters killed in the US, heroes all of them. It's a word I don't use as lightly as many, but I sincerely believe it applies to firefighters.

Also in the US, the amazing escape of almost everyone on the Asiana Boeing 777 which crashed on landing at San Francisco. Looks very much like pilot error, who was inexperienced with that particular plane. It's a worry I've had since the rapid expansion of air travel a few years ago. So many new airlines, many hundreds of extra planes flying about and flight crew needed for them all. It's inevitable, it seems to me, that there must be inexperienced crews flying planes.

By the way, it's emerging what an extraordinary job the Asiana cabin crew did on the 777, getting injured passengers out at a risk to their own safety. I was astonished though to see passengers evacuating the aircraft with their luggage. The plane has crashed, fire is spreading yet they waste time, and hinder other passengers, by fiddling about getting their bags. Unbelievable.

Still overseas, the demonstrations in Egypt, followed by the military ousting the government and now today news of the death of at least fifty government supporters, killed by the military. Many other states in the region, especially the Gulf, will be delighted that the Muslim Brotherhood has lost power, but they'll be very worried about the distinct possibility that the country is rushing towards civil war.

Nowhere near as dramatic here in Oz of course. No violence in the removal of our Prime Minister Julia Gillard by the man she overthrew three years ago, Kevin Rudd, so he's now our Prime Minister again.

In many ways unfairly, public opinion was against Gillard and Labor was set to be decimated at the upcoming federal election so a change of leader was inevitable.

The electoral situation's changed with Rudd back as PM, the latest poll showing him streets ahead of Tony Abbott as preferred Prime Minister - no surprise there. And Labour and the coalition neck and neck after preferences, suggesting another hung parliament could be in the offing.

The election will not now be held on September 14 as announced by Julia Gillard but we don't have a new date yet. Abbott's panicking, demanding an immediate announcement of an early election. The longer it goes on the more he'll be exposed as having no policies, just the same old tired soundbites - 'we'll stop the boats', 'the carbon tax',  'the mining tax'.

He even wheeled John Winston Howard out to repeat the 'stop the boats' rhetoric, a man who to all but the most one-eyed diehards lost all credibility because he lied consistently about the threat posed by asylum seekers arriving by boat , and many other things.

We had a UN senior official here last week, who came to see what all the fuss was about regarding asylum seekers. He pointed out that very many other countries have a much more serious problem but don't get into hysterics about it as we do here. The reason of course is pure wedge politics feeding into the fear of the ignorant and racist. It all worked so well for John Winston Howard that his old attack dog Abbott has continued with it.

Abbott plays the role of attack dog well and he's well suited to it. He did it under Howard and he's done it as leader of the opposition. Not a good stance for a Prime Minister though.

He was back in the media again today on one of his seemingly daily photo set-ups, this time in a pie factory. Interesting that Gillard copped so much criticism for posing at home with some knitting yet not a word of criticism for Abbott and his tiresome and endless photo set ups. Like his soundbites, they take the place of actual policy announcements.

I have no problem with a coalition government, but I do have serious trepidation about one led by Tony Abbott. Still it seems that it won't be the shoe-in it was going to be a couple of weeks ago, and with any luck either he'll be beaten again or the Liberals will replace him with the much more popular Malcolm Turnbull and improve their chances.