Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Them & Us is alive and well

Like much of the world, Australia is seeing an increasing divide between the privileged few and the majority. And here we also have an increasing sense of entitlement being demonstrated by  those in power, politically and in business.

And of course that's entitlement at the expense of the rest of us.

There's been an endless stream of examples for a long time, and more examples have cropped up in the past few days.

There's a plan to reduce Sunday penalty rates for various low-paid workers in retail pharmacies, full-time hospitality workers and those in the fast food industry. (Utterly ridiculous that very specific groups are cherry-picked, but that's another story).

Fairfax Media on Sunday called various business bodies, the Business Council and the like, which have been pushing for the cut and are now applauding it.

They say that these days Sunday is just another day, not the 'day of rest' it once was, to spend with family.

No prizes for guessing that all of them were closed for the weekend.

For them the weekend is still sacrosanct. For them, different rules apply.

And the pollies are still at the rorting, the lying, and still getting away with it.

The parliamentary pecuniary interests register was set up so that their employers - us - know what their assets are and so that we can see conflicts of interest.

Under the rules, MPs are required to declare all shareholdings and real estate assets, including the location of the property and the purpose for which it is being used. This includes any shareholdings or property owned by the parliamentarian's spouse. Anyone who doesn't properly declare their interests risks being found in "serious contempt" of Parliament.

The declaration must be made within 35 days of purchasing the asset.

The screeching Michaelia Cash, federal Employment Minister, 'forgot' to declare a $1.4 million investment property and the mortgage for it.

Only after Fairfax Media raised questions about it did Senator Cash register the deal. She bought the property on November 4, but didn't register it until January 21 and the mortgage wasn't not declared until February 21, almost four months after the deal.

A clear breach of the rules, clearly serious contempt of Parliament...but t the PM said it was an inadvertent oversight and accepted her apology.

Another one off the hook.

But that's far from the treatment they're handing out to literally thousands of Centrelink customers. Forget to declare something to them and an apology is rejected out of hand, penalties applied.

Today the extreme right fringe big-mouth Liberal Cory Bernardi, who left the Liberal Party to start his own Australian Conservatives party, has also been outed.

In 2015 Bernardi and his wife bought a $1 million commercial property in Adelaide, which is now the headquarters for, you guessed it, the Australian Conservatives party.

And it's not declared on the register. He does declare a shareholding in a company called Twenty-Eight KW. He set that up in 2015 and used it to buy the Kent Town building soon after.

You'd be forgiven for thinking he set it up specifically to buy the property wouldn't you.

Questioned, he just gave the finger - "The building is owned by a company. I have declared shares in the company. It's not rocket science".

The rules are specific, shareholdings and real estate must be declared.

Nothing's going to happen about it, naturally. Unlike for any of us who, for example, used the same tactic on the tax office.

It's so obvious why the wider population is heartily sick of them all.


Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Rudderless and leaderless

We really do have a totally inept, divided, incompetent federal government.

Unqualified people appointed as ministers show their lack of ability just about every time they speak. In interviews they obfuscate automatically, waffling on regardless of the actual question. And they usually begin the 'answer' by blaming Labor.

Typical was our utterly useless treasurer on radio this morning - he's the clown who took a lump of coal into parliament saying it was 'clean fuel' - waffling as usual to the point of nearly sending me back to sleep. Asked whether the government would back the Fair Work Commission's proposal to cut Sunday penalty rates he started by saying that Labor had set up the commission, but was cut off by the interviewer asking him to answer the question.

Another example is the appalling Attorney-General - who came up with the 'people have the right to be bigots' statement - before a Senate committee ignoring questions by trying to debate the meaning of individual words in the questions. You Tube has a clip of one of his typical responses: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1_6JuMmx5I

There's also a classic clip on You Tube showing his contempt for both the Senate and the Australian people by petulantly refusing to answer legitimate questions put to him: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CBZyoUaWKzg

Poll after poll is showing voters moving from the Coalition, the latest giving Labor a ten point lead. For once Labor wasn't blamed, but as their default position is that everything is someone else's fault, they decided it was ex-PM Abbott who caused it.

His attack on his own party was typical sour grapes and typical Abbott wrecking. But blaming him for voter dissatisfaction is disingenuous and counter productive.

You can only solve a problem if you first honestly and accurately identify the problem, something the government refuses to do. It's their incompetence, their unpopular policies, their disarray that's the problem.

And, once again, to distract from their problems the Australian Federal Police predictably rolled out another terrorism raid.

They do it with monotonous regularity when the government is having a particularly bad time and it fools very few people. Letter pages and social media are always full of scorn and sarcasm each time it happens.

This raid came after a reported eighteen month operation, so coming a day after the terrible poll results leaves very little doubt about the timing in voters' minds.

The government tried disastrously to shore up their position with the double dissolution election, which reduced their majority to one and gave them more crossbenchers in the Senate. They won't try that again, so we're stuck with them waffling, obfuscating, squabbling and finger pointing until their term is up.

Disastrous for the country, drifting along rudderless and leaderless.


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