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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

going after the welfare state   October 2, 2014

The Abbott Government's rhetoric is that they are absolutely determined to stop the trajectory that Labor left, which is debt going to $667 billion in 10 years, which is $25,000 for every man, woman and child. They won't give up on doing what is right to address the legacy that Labor left. We are paying a billion dollars a month every single month just to pay the interest on Labor's debt. Without change, that is ratcheting up to $3 billion a month.

The reality is not crushing debt and budget emergencies. Neoliberal philosophy holds that all welfare recipients are “bludgers” and all taxpayers are “battlers”. The Abbott Government's position is that taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for another person’s livelihood, particularly if that livelihood comes from pensions or other transfer payments.

The welfare state is the problem, not its beneficiaries. For neo-liberalism it is unfair that cleaner, a plumber or a teacher is working over one month full-time each year just to pay for the welfare of another Australian. Hence the rhetoric of lifters and leaners. The war that the neo-liberals in the Abbott Goverment are waging is the destruction of the welfare state.

Continue reading "going after the welfare state" »
| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 1:36 PM | | Comments (11)
sleep walking to the future   September 26, 2014

The first tranche of the Abbott government's new anti-terror legislation---the National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (No 1) yesterday passed the Senate yesterday with bipartisan support. This amends the ASIO Act 1979 by adding a new section 35P (amongst others) to extend existing state and federal prohibitions on the disclosure of information regarding policing for anti-terrorist purposes.

The bill gives intelligence organisations the power to access personal computers and the "entire Australian internet" with a single warrant. These powers don't go far enough since ASIO also wants mandatory data retention laws for telecommunications and internet service providers.

Leunigdelusions.jpg Leunig

More specifically, the legislation just passed allows ASIO to use third party computers and networks in order to hack the target of a computer access warrant; a measure the government has argued is necessary because of increasing technical sophistication among surveillance targets. The legislation also changes the definition of computer for the purposes of warrants to "one or more computers", "one or more computer systems", "one or more computer networks", or "any combination of the above".

Journalists and whistleblowers (such as like Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning) will now face up to ten years in gaol if they disclose information about "special intelligence operations" (SIO) (and whether any particular operation is an SIO will itself be kept secret). There is no “public interest” defence. The spooks get what they want from the politicians.

Continue reading "sleep walking to the future" »
| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 1:37 PM | | Comments (6)
historical amnesia   September 23, 2014

The Abbott Government continues to say that its intervention in the 3rd Iraq War is for humanitarian reasons. It is, the ministers say, a limited intervention to assist the Yazidi minority group in Iraq earlier this year after Isis attacked them. Now we have an estimated 100,000 Syrian Kurds fleeing Islamic State (Isis) advances across north-east Syria. Recall that the US armed IS to fight the Assad Syrian regime.

Does Australia step into help the Iraqi Kurds? Australia was only meant to be involved in Iraq not Syria, according to the Abbott Govt at the invitation of the Iraq Government. On the other hand, Abbott has said that Australia was committed to containing and degrading and destroying Isis to combat the threat posed by the IS terrorists. Does that mean there will be military action in Syria without the Syrian Government's cooperation? You don't send in the SAS to run humanitarian missions.

TandbergRIraqHoward.jpg Ron Tandberg

There is little acknowledgment by the Liberal party that the 2nd Iraq war had been "wrong", that Australia went to war under false pretences in Iraq, and that the destruction of Iraq has resulted in the emergence of IS, homegrown terrorism and Australians participating in terrorist activities in Iraq. For the Liberal party there are no lessons to be learned from the errors of the past, because there were no errors and there were no disastrous consequences of the previous military interventions.

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| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:28 AM | | Comments (11)
Red Alert, Hollywood style   September 19, 2014

So we have a counter terrorism raid with over 800 police bursting into homes in Sydney, Brisbane and Logan, hovering helicopters, 15 arrested and detained, four charged. Oh, and the media were duly recruited and the major mainstream TV outlets supplied with footage of the commando-style operations, filmed and supplied by the police themselves. The police also helpfully supplied still shots of the action to the newspapers.

leunigevil.jpg Leunig

In this terror drama terrorist sympathisers in Australia were foiled plotting "an extravaganza of brutality" and this indicates the existential threat of “home-grown terrorism", the “enemies within”. Why, even Australia’s half a million Muslims are not “fitting in”, and their very presence is a threat to social cohesion. There is angst about Muslim incompatibility with “Western/Australian values”. Islamaphobia is being stirred by the shock jocks on talk back radio.

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| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:57 PM | | Comments (10)
Australia's poor policy reform capacity   September 18, 2014

In his ANU Policy Outlook 2014 keynote, "Public policy resilience and the reform narrative", at the ANU Ken Henry, the former Treasury Secretary, argues that policy reform proposals are unlikely to be implemented, and even less likely to prove resilient, unless accompanied by a compelling narrative.

Henry states that the core narrative that has been used to support economic policy reform efforts in Australia for the past 30 years goes like this: reforms that enhance productivity and cut costs, including labour costs, build international competitiveness; international competitiveness drives exports; exports drive growth; growth drives jobs; and jobs support living standards.

RoweDpoliticalcircus.jpg David Rowe

He argues that recent reform proposals to deal with the economic consequences of the mining boom, and to contribute to international efforts to lower carbon emissions, have been presented tentatively, have been poorly understood, and have not proved resilient. He adds:

The fact that major policy initiatives in these areas have proven fragile has been cause for some questioning of our policy reform capacity. But really, given our national fixation with a simplistic reform narrative constructed on concepts of "international competitiveness", "exports", "growth", and "jobs", we should not have had high expectations of policy success in these areas.

We can also see this the mercantilst narrative crippling of efforts to position Australia for the Asian century.

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| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:34 AM | | Comments (1)
banging the drums of war   September 11, 2014

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (Asio) has signalled that the terrorism threat level in Australia could be raised to high from medium. The rhetoric is that of manufactured fear is about a death cult over there posing a threat in this country.

There’s no credible information that the Islamic State (IS) is planning an attack on Australia. Nor is there any indication at this point of a cell of foreign fighters (Islamic State) operating in Australia. So there is no actual or imminent threat to the nation from the Islamic State.

PettyBoperation_ideology.jpg Bruce Petty

That doesn't stop the war hawks from their fear mongering to scare a war weary population by implying that there are ISIS sleeper cells living in Australia and that they are a grave and unprecedented threat (far worse than al Qaeda!). The two people arrested in Queensland were not planning a domestic attack nor were they connected to the Islamic State.

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| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:36 AM | | Comments (17)
just short sighted politics   September 8, 2014

The Abbott Govt celebrates the removal of carbon pricing and the mining tax and stopping the asylum seeker boats from reaching Australian shores. That represents a roll back of Labor's policies and the rhetoric is that ridding the country of a minerals tax will boost income and create jobs even though the investment boom is over, the price of minerals is falling, and the mining tax raised very little money.

The next stage of Chinese development will likely see its citizens spending more on consumer goods, and this in turn means a reduced, demand for the raw minerals from Australia. What then of its medium and long term reforms as distinct from the short-sighted politics and protecting the interests of the miners and fossil fuel companies?

RoweDAbbottAnniversary.jpg David Rowe

The removal of the increase in compulsory superannuation from 9% to 12% indicates that it has none. Superannuation is one key way to further the "end of the age of entitlement" agenda as it shifts people from the old age pension to superannuation. It's self reliance par excellence. All it has done is to cut the rate of increase in the old age pension. This is hardly forward looking from a government anxious to tout its neo-liberal credentials.

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| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 2:10 PM | | Comments (4)