Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche


NATION: Malcolm buys his Mandate …

Tasmanian senator Eric Abetz fearlessly leads the charge of the Right brigade this week into a stoush between his beloved team Abbott and the Pollyanna faction led by tub-thumping, sub-stumping $50 billion dollar man Christopher Pyne. Eric is out to keep the bastards honest.

Abetz takes a pot-shot at the Turnbull’s government’s legitimacy, the issue of the political week if not the forty-fifth parliament’s lifetime, after sub-Marathon Mal’s hamstrung election performance, which saw the PM forced to fund his party’s manifest destiny to the tune of a million dollars.

Can he just do that? Millionaire Mal’s DIY fund-raising does not raise an eyebrow on ABC Insiders Sunday. Fran Kelly, Nikki Sava, Karen Middleton, all senior journos, see no problem posed to our democratic processes by a rich man buying a prime ministership. If Laura Tingle has reservations she keeps them to herself.

“Am I bovvered?” Catherine Tate would say.

“He’s done it before,” Karen Middleton sighs, “and he’ll do it again.” Perhaps she recalls Turnbull’s desperate battle for Liberal preselection for the blue-ribbon seat of Wentworth 13 years ago, when his opponent, Peter King, says Turnbull told him to “fuck off and get out of my way.”

Money talks – and often in the Turnbull story. In 2003, Turnbull paid Alan Jones $5000 a plug to support him on radio and won. Perhaps this time, too, his million-dollar investment may help to stem rising Liberal Party disquiet. The election’s cost him too much personal authority to do it any other way.

…wept on camera…

Some say millionaire MPs do this sort of thing. Queensland Nickel donated $288,516 to PUP last December, a fortnight before sacking staff at the Yabulu refinery near Townsville. Nothing was left in the kitty to pay wages. Ewen Jones, then member for Herbert, wept on camera.

Pity us poor Liberals, Julie Bishop pleads on ABC’s Insiders, “we don’t have the rivers of gold that come from the union movement.” AEC ALP records do not match the Foreign Minister’s fantasy, showing instead a broad set of donors. In 2015, the CFMEU donated $50,000 yet WestPac gave $1.5 million. No-one challenges Bishop.

Most likely, however, Turnbull’s party was just caught short as its uber-rich supporters; fearing penury if super rules were to change, withheld donations.

A $500,000 lifetime limit on how much of one’s after-tax contributions one can make to one’s super is at issue. Currently the limit is $180,000 a year.

The IPA opposes the “diabolical” changes along with Coalition plans to impose 15% tax on income generated by balances above $1.6m. Director, John Roskam, says the changes are also clearly retrospective. So central is the IPA to controlling Liberal policy, this means the government is at war with its own brain stem.

Its civil war with the IPA aside, most of the Liberals’ pain is self-inflicted.

…Arthur is unable to recall.

In March the NSW Electoral Commission denied the party $4.389m in public funding because it accepted illegal developer donations for the 2011 NSW election via its “Free Enterprise Foundation”, a matter the ICAC needs expert help to sort out, hence its request to then Liberal Party Treasurer and President, now Coalition Cabinet Secretary Arthur Sinodinos. As yet Arthur is unable to recall.

No big fan of Arthur, who was numbers man in Turnbull’s coup, an ear-to-the-ground Abetz reckons the super changes were never properly ventilated and massively cost Liberal votes in Tasmania, an insight he has gained by door-knocking and national report.

“From right around Australia I got very strong feedback that that was not the way to go forth and I trust that we will revisit aspects of that policy.”

Can a party change its policy after the campaign? Abetz seems to think so. He’s not alone. Mad-Dog Morrison, our reverse Robin Hood Treasurer, is on standby with a solution which may see the super changes watered down.

Protect the rich.

In the real world over 31,000 people have lost their disability support pension in the past year, the biggest annual drop on record as several years’ worth of government crackdowns begin to bite. 90,000 may expect to undergo a medical review in the next three years. More “savings” are promised as Mad-Dog Morrison has promised to find another $3.5 billion.

Don’t expect schools or hospitals…

It costs money to keep negative gearing for speculators and then there’s the cost involved in “fine-tuning” its super changes to protect the wealthy.

Don’t expect schools or hospitals from this mob.

All of this challenges the notion of a mandate on policy his party took to the election; the current Liberal Party mandate mantra. “What mandate?” says Eric.

Unhappy Abbott-camper Eric is bucking his party’s line on its campaign, a failed gamble on an early election double-dissolution which has left its PM’s authority in tatters; its future on a knife edge.

“A lot of our colleagues see the election result as the barest of victories, if we can a call it a victory having declared victory two weeks out,’ he growls.

For Turnbull toy dog Christopher Gertrude Stein Pyne, however, “a win is a win, is a win” and the whole election thing is just a game of footie, really. Bugger what the people actually wanted or what they thought they were voting for.

Mincing poodle, as Julia Gillard so aptly dubbed Pyne for his performances as Abbott’s yap dog in three years of relentless negativity in opposition, has done well out of our defence policy.

Pyne’s SA seat of Sturt is now secure thanks to the government’s astonishing flip-flop on protectionism to the tune of a $50 billion industry subsidy. The ASC will assemble a dozen frog submarines in the SA rustbelt state, when it would be so much cheaper to have them made in France.

For half the price we could have had them made in Japan and Germany quoted $20 billion and the subs to be delivered six years earlier.

…$490,000 for every vote…

Winning has not come cheaply. The $50 billion amounts to $468,000 per potential vote in Hindmarsh, $490,000 for every vote in Pyne’s Sturt and $480,000 for each potential Boothby vote.

It may sound expensive but it’s an investment in not just Pyne’s seat but in the democratic pork barrel itself so vital to mandate creation. And it’s not a subsidy to car-makers, a prospect former Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey, amen, hated.

For one per cent of the sub investment, car manufacturing would still be able to employ 200,000 Australian workers, directly and indirectly.

To be fair it wasn’t all about boats. Pyne does admit, along with dog-catcher Barnaby Joyce and other National Party campaigners that they threw campaign talking points away – departed from the official script. Yet although success came from not plugging policy, he does not hesitate to claim a mandate.

Also leading the charge in the battle of the mandate is lynx-eyed Attorney-General George Brandis, a chap who may have failed to explain metadata and who was unable to open a spreadsheet warning of a terrorist threat but who has got a safe pair of hands on everyone’s metadata, nevertheless.

…signed letter of permission…

Just in case, four days before the election, Brandis elevated the Attorney-General’s status. Anyone, including the PM, who needs to see Justin Gleeson, the Solicitor-General now has to get signed letter of permission from himself, a move which has legal experts describe as an “unnecessary impediment” to expert advice.

Members of the legal community point to a growing tension between the nation’s first and second law officers over matters, including the 2013 same-sex marriage High Court case, the 2015 advice Mr Gleeson provided over changes to citizenship laws and over the drafting of same-sex marriage plebiscite legislation, a matter which Brandis is overdue to report back to government on.

One of the new Cabinet’s first tasks after the Governor-General returns from France to swear them in after arranging armed transport and a special security detail for Scott Ryan’s massive family Bible will be the wording of the plebiscite so that it is unlikely to succeed.

Of course, it may be that we never see the plebsicite at all just as we will never see the secret agreement between the Liberal Party and the Nationals. It may request the government not to budge on same-sex marriage, given that it can lead to polyamory, as Eric Abetz attests, or to bestiality, one of Cory Bernardi’s big bugbears. There is no mandate for a secret Coalition agreement.

What the secret agreement is also likely to reflect is a Nationals’ push to nudge the Coalition even further towards Hansonism, given that One Nation’s support base comprises a fair muster of alienated single fathers who blame their marriage and relationship breakdowns on the Family Court.

…a kangaroo court…

One Nation, which apart from its familiar figurehead, is now a blokes’ party, attracts such voters with its policy of abolishing the Family Court and replacing it with a kangaroo court which it calls a community panel.

A mandate man, Brandis is under the illusion on Monday’s Q&A that this is Turnbull’s second term as elected PM. His memory lapses are eclipsed, however in the company of Cabinet secretary Sir Arthur Sinodinos, who is appearing all over the media to talk up his government’s mandate while awaiting a call back from ICAC on Australian Water Holdings and the Free Enterprise foundation.

Now that the Turnbull government may attain a whopping 77 seats in the House of Representatives of the 45th Parliament as the vote count continues in the Townsville-based seat of Herbert, shows Labor’s candidate Cathy O’Toole behind the LNP’s Ewen Jones, by only a dozen votes, Liberals have been vigorously pumping the handle of the mandate organ.

Soon hagiographers rewriting the history of Australia Pty Ltd will be telling us this is Chairman Mal’s finest hour. Expect ballet and epic theatre to be commissioned in the great helmsman’s favour.

Mandate? Michaelia Cash is dashing into TV studios to madly impress us with her claim that the government has 700,000 more votes than Labor. Yet it is only true as a Coalition. Labor’s 4.3 million first preferences put it ahead while – if you total all minority parties – the government is outstripped.

As Guy Rundle points out, the mandate issue becomes even more vexed if you consider the fundamentally-flawed nature of our democratic voting process where The Nationals with one million votes get 23 seats while The Greens get one seat after receiving 1.2 million.

…almost another million dollar man…

Amazingly making the same claim to a mandate is a pin-striped Malcolm Turnbull who is careful to be photographed with Martin Parkinson, Head of Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and on $860,000 PA almost another million-dollar man proving to all Australians that because they are both using Ipads, this whole 21st Century innovation thing will be just a doddle.

What they are doing is not revealed because like the Coalition agreement it is secret and like our imports of asbestos in portables from China none of our business. What is likely to be on the iPad, however, will include the promotion of Zed Seselja whose opposition to same-sex marriage is but a small element of his valuable contribution to good government in the 45th Parliament.

Team player and good captain, Tony Abbott will not be attending The Lodge for pre-blood-letting drinks Sunday night, says Julie Bishop. Nor will he find himself back in the Cabinet, in a welcome sign that some sanity at least has prevailed in Mr Harbourside Mansion’s Point Piper decision-making processes. Expect press releases to tell us he has a contribution to make in other areas.

Expect to hear a lot about the Coalition’s mandate to provide stable government; how we must knuckle under; pull together; go without to get us all on a “credible path back to surplus” and other unreal stuff.

Watch out when Eric, Tony and Kevin find themselves surplus to requirements.

What is real is that the first shot in the Turnbull government’s war with itself has just been fired.

Richard Colbeck: Ministry Announcement I am extremely disappointed to have to relinquish my portfolio but I have to agree with the Prime Minister that the need to finalise a new team and the uncertainty relating to my Senate seat made it impossible to wait – the business of Government is much bigger than any individual …

• Ben Lohberger in Comments HERE: Eric Abetz has claimed during an interview on ABC Radio National that Malcolm Turnbull should listen to Abetz’s post-election advice, because backbenchers such as Abetz doorknocked “hundreds, if not thousands” of homes during this year’s federal election campaign. Doorknocking takes significant time and effort, and to doorknock up to 2000 homes would have taken the Senator more than a month of full-time work. So where did Senator Abetz doorknock in Tasmania, when did he doorknock, and can he actually prove it? Surely someone in the state must have seen him at their door? …

Karl Satire: Eric Rocks On …

The Project: Listen to Waleed Aly’s perspective on Sonia Kruger et al

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]


  1. Chris

    July 19, 2016 at 2:57 pm

    Yeah but our subs will be nuclear, it follows that the French build nuclear and like Turnbull’s sudden decision to sent extra bodies to Iraq after an election, then we will be obliged by the Trump machine to go nuclear or else!
    Brm brm brm whats 75 subs against our dedicated 12, consisting of 5 operational and 7 as spares and no one to man them.

  2. Terry James

    July 18, 2016 at 11:27 pm

    #7 To put the submarine thing in context. The Chinese have a mixed (conventional and nuclear) submarine fleet of about 70-75 boats. Our boats will only be used to spy on our very good neighbours and to prop up the SA economy and Christpher Pyne’s career. Money well spent eh! Budget repair (note, not crisis) anyone?

  3. Leonard Colquhoun

    July 18, 2016 at 9:23 pm

    “Malcolm buys his mandate” – and Shorten would have through his union mates in the CFMEU et al.

  4. Mark Temby

    July 18, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    To dream the impossible dream…a Senate paper with parties grouped, candidates randomly listed and no above the line voting option. Bernardi and Abetz would need gumboots.

  5. Jon Sumby

    July 17, 2016 at 9:57 pm

    Ah yes, the mobile weapons launch platform contract.

    I asked a French uni student here on an exchange what he thought and he just laughed and said Australia was had.

    I went to the DCNS website and they were proudly announcing the creation of 4700 direct jobs in Europe.

    Meanwhile, Turnbull announced the creation of 2800 direct jobs in Australia.

    But we are playing in an arms race:

    The bottom line: Asia, the world’s most militarized area, is about to introduce new submarines into an already dangerous mix.


  6. Urban Wronski

    July 17, 2016 at 7:12 pm

    The Australian believes the cost of Mal’s mandate was more than one paltry million.
    Election 2016: Malcolm Turnbull threw in millions but cash can’t silence critics

  7. Urban Wronski

    July 17, 2016 at 7:01 pm

    Report in SMH a day ago relevant to the reverse Robin Hood principle in case I inadvertently gave the impression that it’s only disability support pensioners who are in the gun:

    Social Services Minister Christian Porter recently revealed $5 billion in welfare savings he wants to legislate by September, including data-matching recipients, increased disclosure requirements, reviewing disability support pensioners, reducing carer payments and halting carbon tax compensation for new recipients.

    Dr Goldie said that these measures had been advanced without consultation and were a departure from agreements made between the participants of the National Reform Summit in August 2015.

  8. mike seabrook

    July 17, 2016 at 6:58 pm

    tell me again who dropped malcolm in the godwin gretch debacle and who was most instrumental in the forestry/agricultural etc. mis debacles.

    he cant deliver anything – as much a feather duster as andrew wilkie who has to ask malcolm turnbull to pay up the $500 million for the hobart hospital which he and julia gillard promised the hobart residents.

    if turnbull wishes to buy back the bass and braddon seats – this $500 million could come in handy

  9. Chris

    July 17, 2016 at 5:18 pm

    One can get advice on capital gains tax from Erich….

  10. Mark Temby

    July 17, 2016 at 1:13 pm

    A short ABC article attached that could be described as “Superannuation for Dummies” and reasonable benefit limits. In the dark past in the ’90s there were Reasonable Benefit Limits that were rather onerous on excessive pensions and lump sums and taxed these excesses at around 49c in the $. These limits and tax rates were changed until the Howard government removed them altogether in 2007.

    Just to give the reader a hint of where OUR tax concessions are spent for the comfort of a few:

    (ATO source) Table30: Reasonable benefit limits
    Income yr Lump sum Pension
    2006–07 $678,149 $1,356,291
    2005–06 $648,946 $1,297,886
    2004–05 $619,223 $1,238,440
    2003–04 $588,056 $1,176,106
    2002–03 $562,195 $1,124,384
    2001–02 $529,373 $1,058,742

    ABC extract: “The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) has argued for a number of years that there should be a lifetime cap on the amount of super that should attract tax concessions.

    “In its submission to the Government’s latest tax inquiry, ASFA has put a figure on that – $2.5 million.

    “ASFA has been supported by, amongst others, BT Funds Management, AMP and the Actuaries Institute of Australia, who all agree that $2.5 million is the way to go.
    The bottom line is that many people can get much more into the tax advantaged superannuation system than they will ever need to live on in retirement.

    “One self-funded retiree told me he had $9 million in his fund. At a 5 per cent return a year, that’s $450,000, tax free.

    “Caps on the tax-free benefits from superannuation are nothing new (see above MT). Until they were abolished by the Howard Government in 2007 there was what used to be known as the ‘reasonable benefit limit’. Under that system, pension balances of more than $1.4 million and lump sums of more than $678,000 were taxed at your marginal rate.

    “Which brings us back to the current debate and the question at the start of this article? Is $2.5 million still too generous?

    “A simple example may provide the answer. A $2.5 million superannuation fund may look like this:

    “Pre tax contributions (23 years at an average of $10,000 pa) = $230,000
    After tax contributions = $1,000,000
    Fund earnings = $1,270,000″
    Total balance at retirement = $2,500,000”


    This is just the payment part of the system Abetz and Co are trying to defend. It doesn’t even touch on the contribution or accumulation phases. It also doesn’t even touch the wider economic questions of structural tax reform, Australia’s budget deficit, emissions trading schemes or international credit ratings.

  11. phill Parsons

    July 17, 2016 at 12:24 pm

    Just like the flying lemon, aka the F35 JSF, the French submarines will prove out of date by the time the last on leaves the slips. Still they will be a huge employment and pay boost for our sailors with the current 6 only having enough crew for 3.

    Looking at the 100 year subsidy for the car industries 200,000 jobs as a bottom of the harbor investment underneath the sea we can see that the investment in Boothby was a comlete waste, some $17bn down the gurgler disappearing into gambling reform and who know what else as X captures a block.

    Around at the harbor side mansion the new curtains have been delayed to ensure a party that took over 40% of Australia’s first preference votes at $2.52 pear each can have enough to pay the debt for the campaign they nearly lost.

    The payout from the public purse is, after the declaration of the polls, around $17million.

    Supposedly the money stayed in the pockets of the superannuants rather then flow to the Lieberals. Certainly the voters cross the floor in droves with more than 50% preferring anyone else but the coalition on their first choice.

    Still the preference system give us a result for the lower hose sometime later this week when the polls are declared. In several lower hose seats neither of the old parties could outpoll the Greens.

    The Senate’s more representative system to elect the “unrepresentative swill” that now has the possibility of protecting the country from the excess of government sits in an almost impossible combination for extremists legislation but cannot protect the pensioner, the disability pensioner of the unemployed from the administration of Centrelink as the government digs into their meager wealth to ensure the already rich become richer.

    Fine words from Turnbull about fairness for all will now face the test of the gnomes of the rating agencies, the ideologues of the IPA and the delusional concerns of the far right conservatives.

    No shortage of money for an unnecessary plebiscite of hate and an vilification so the support for ME can be measured when the polls tell us that voters want it. I’m not sure how many hospital beds that is or if after the investment Turnbull will be able to bring his recalcitrant crazies to heel and vote according to the wishes expressed but if we must vote can it be postal with a Yes and No case.

    It is not possible for me to comment without including climate instabilty. Good luck with that.

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