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: Turnbull’s Joyce will cost him dearly …

First published February 12

“There’s no-one more Australian than Barnaby Joyce”, blusters Malcolm Turnbull, his fair-weather defender in happier – well – slightly less miserable times last November when Joyce, another appalling ham, in RM Williams and stockman Akubra, playing an outback whip-cracking caricature from central casting turns out to be a Kiwi, too.

By week’s end it’s clear, as Oscar Wilde, on his death-bed, famously remarked of the wall-paper, “One of us has to go.” Not that Mal hasn’t put on a good show of support. Or milked Barnaby’s ” landslide” by-election for all it is worth and more – despite Barnaby going MIA, turning campaigning into pub crawls, refusing to debate the other candidates and talking of death threats. Hacks still misread the victory as a Turnbull comeback.

Cue the night of the New England by-election, a couple of old con-artists in a show about snake-oil salesmanship.

“We’re getting the band back together,” crows a PM who presides over his dysfunctional moribund leadership. How he loves to talk up renewal, unity. MSM follow his lead. He looks the part – all kitted out in blue flannel shirt and moleskins, the compleat Collins Street farmer. He tilts his pristine Akubra back to form a buffalo-hide halo.

A deafening roar of beer-sodden catcalls, stamping and two-fingered whistling buoys his spirits at the Nats’ election piss-up in Tamworth that Saturday night last December. But Turnbull knows truth will out. The “open secret” of 50 year old Barnaby’s affair with a 33 year old married woman cannot be kept out of the news forever.

Always solicitous of our well-being and a stalwart Coalition megaphone, The Daily Telegraph toils virtuously in the public interest, all week, photographing Barnaby’s new partner’s baby bump after previously deploring the intrusion of gossip into Barnaby’s personal life, his privacy and the New England by-election.

Even Turnbull must know it’s over

Now the two old stagers face their final curtain. Even Turnbull must know it’s over. He’s signed off twice on two plum jobs, for Joyce’s new partner, Vikki Campion, just to get her out of BJ’s office; keep her out of the public eye.

One is with Matt Canavan, the other as “second media adviser” to National Party Whip Damian Drum.

It’s hardly a subtle cover-up. Even Graham Richardson ponders in The Australian why the Nationals Whip needs one media advisor, let alone a second high-flyer. Puzzling Richo, also, is why Joyce should promote Drum to be his assistant minister.

A salary of $191,000 for Vikki is now in the news. So, too is The Daily Telegraph‘s Miranda Devine writing about Barnaby telling his estranged wife, Natalie that Vikki is expecting a boy. “A dagger to Natalie’s heart.”

Even Murdoch’s purple press has turned. 26 dud Newspolls plus one Barnaby fiasco may be too much for Rupert Murdoch. The Coalition’s major backer may be turning sour over Turnbull’s bungling ineptitude.

Creating national heroes can be hazardous, Turnbull discovers to his cost but he can’t help himself. When the Greens question Jim Molan’s involvement in the dirty battle for Fallujah in Iraq in 2004, Senator St James Molan, our PM thunders, fought for Aussie values against the ISIS Infidel and thus must be above all earthly criticism.

In his own way, too, Turnbull’s Aussie icon Barnaby Joyce is a self-styled Cultural Warrior on his own crusade for moral decency. Why, he even fought against girls being inoculated with anti-HPV vaccine Gardasil lest it promote promiscuity. He opposed gay marriage claiming it went against traditional family values. Now look at him.

It’s not playing out well in Tamworth …

Some unkindly call Joyce a hypocrite. It’s not playing out well in Tamworth, says The Daily Telegraph. Others raise the way the affair has been kept out of the news where Julia Gillard or Cheryl Kernot were hounded. “What if this MP were a fifty-year-old woman having an affair with a man half her age?”, asks Clem Ford in Fairfax. The media would have leapt instantly to judgement. Now the Tele has broken ranks, expect a ton of moralising to follow.

Moral posturing may be a key part of Joyce’s rural populist politics – his idol is former Queensland premier, the bible-bashing, corrupt hillbilly dictator Joh Bjelke-Petersen – but it carries grave risks of self-betrayal. Joyce, for example, campaigned against same sex marriage for years. In 2011, he addressed a rally organised by the Australian Christian Lobby and The Australian Family Association, posing as a protective father of four girls.

“We know that the best protection for those girls is that they get themselves into a secure relationship with a loving husband and I want that to happen for them. I don’t want any legislator to take that right away from me.”

How Barnaby thought same-sex marriage could do this is unclear, but he is one of fourteen MPs who abstained from voting on the same-sex marriage bill, Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017. What is clear is that in presenting himself as a family values campaigner, he has set himself up for a big fall.

Or has he? On ABC Insiders, Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek notes that the PM’s office signs off on jobs. Labor will pursue the only legitimate line of inquiry: she calls on Joyce and Turnbull to be “fully transparent” about the expenditure of taxpayer funds, which she said was the “only area in which there is a genuine public interest”.

In the end, the jobs will undo Vikki and Barney; the thin red line of the Prime Minister’s Office debit accounts, as much as Tamworth’s wrath. Joyce’s soap opera, moreover, makes Turnbull’s leadership look inept, weak and ineffectual. But right on cue, look over there. Our great and powerful friend, the USA graces us with Harry Harris.

We’re just mad about Harry. Our nation is overjoyed to learn, at long last, we have a US Ambassador. “Great Wall of Sand”, Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr, a Sinophobe, who doesn’t trust our largest trading partner.

“You’d have to believe in a flat earth to believe otherwise”

“In my opinion China is clearly militarizing the South China Sea,” Harris tells the Senate Armed Services Committee in February 2016. “You’d have to believe in a flat earth to believe otherwise.”

Harry’s “shithole” posting tells us he is no favourite of Trump’s but it does send a warning to China. A former Gitmo head, Admiral Hal also brings a unique record of duty of care to inmates of the USA’s “extra-constitutional prison camp”, Guantánamo Naval Base whose role, he explained to ABC in 2007, is not to be confused with justice.

It’s not about ” guilt or innocence” he told the late Mark Colvin, it’s about “keeping enemy combatants off the battlefield”. Harry’s past may help him advise Border Force in its own illegal, indefinite detention practices.

Doubtless Harry would admire our Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (resolving the asylum legacy caseload) bill 2014, a Scott Morrison masterpiece which gives the immigration minister, now Peter Dutton, unprecedented, unchallengeable, and secret powers to control the lives of asylum seekers.

Tragically, Harris is linked to the possible homicides of three young men in his care, June 9 2006; Salah Ahmed Al-Salami, a Yemeni aged thirty-seven. Mani Shaman Al-Utaybi, a Saudi, aged thirty. Yasser Talal Al-Zahrani, also from Saudi Arabia, was twenty-two. None had been charged with any crime but all were found hanged in their cells.

The three men were found to have stuffed rags into their throats; put on masks, fashioned nooses out of cotton fabric they, alone, mysteriously had access to and reached an eight foot high ceiling to hang themselves.

Harris declares the deaths “suicides.” Channelling a Big Brother hate session, he then attacks the dead men.

… an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us”

“They are smart, they are creative, they are committed,” Harris says. “They have no regard for life, neither ours nor their own. I believe this was not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us.”

Naval Criminal Investigative Service records suggest, instead, death from torture. New evidence, published in Harpers, includes an eyewitness account of al-Zahrani, on the night of his death, which indicates torture and suffocation during questioning at a secret black site facility at Guantánamo known as Camp No, or Penny Lane.

Our MSM say nothing about “Gitmo” but a fluffy ABC gushes over the posting of “the first security professional” hinting at some pastoral care role for the new US Ambassador to Australia. Certainly, Harris will be a perfect fit to be joined at the hip, as our PM sees our US alliance, with Canberra’s tough on border protection boffins.

The big lie is that the US Alliance is a mutual security pact. Despite our political leaders’ bipartisan spin, all ANZUS entails is a promise to consult. JFK refused our plea for help against a “communist crisis” in Indonesia in 1962.

Before Trump, Nixon put us on his “shit list”, because he didn’t like Whitlam’s robust nationalism and when Man of Steel, US brown-nose John Howard asked for help in East Timor in 1999, Clinton told him to bugger off.

Thank God we’ve got soldiers like Jim Molan to protect us and to hire out to the United States; win its illegal wars.

Liberal Senator “Jingo” Jim Molan, is sworn in Monday and wastes no time in urging even greater expenditure on the military. A thoroughly modern former major general, Jim’s memoirs modestly entitled Running the War In Iraq, reveal his glee in using drones to direct 200kg bombs that could “pick up a house and land it in the street”.

… he can’t be a racist, insists the PM, because he’s been a soldier …

Jim’s no slouch on Facebook or war by social media. Yet while he posts racist videos on Facebook and retweets a racist, Islamophobic joke, he can’t be a racist, insists the PM, because he’s been a soldier and freedom-fighter.

Turnbull rounds on Bill Shorten’s suggestion that he discipline our Aussie war hero Jim as “deplorable” and “disgusting”. Yet what is more deplorable and disgusting is the extent to which Turnbull must overreach; grovel publicly to a new Abbott supporter. He falls back on the last refuge of scoundrels, patriotism.

Jim is a “Great Australian” brays the PM, who claims the former soldier (in 2004) ” … led thousands of troops in the battle for freedom against terrorism”. Others know it as the 2003 illegal invasion of Iraq, under the twin fictions of regime change and ridding Saddam Hussein of his weapons of mass destruction, while wresting control of Iraq’s oil-fields and utterly destroying Iraq, fuelling anti-Western terrorist extremism into the bargain.

As the late Chalmers Johnson warns in Blowback, the appalling blundering by US strategists in Afghanistan and the Middle East is the prime motivator of terrorist organisations like Al Qaida and ISIS. Jim may think he won Fallujah but he lost the war. Yet the monstrous lie of Iraqi liberation is central to Turnbull’s government world-view.

Experts estimate around half a million Iraqis died in the Bush-Blair invasion; A Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Survey published in the Lancet, and the Iraq Public Health Survey published in the New England Journal of Medicine, give figures of 655,000 and 400,000 excess deaths respectively.

In 2013, birth defects for the city of Fallujah surpass rates for Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the nuclear attacks at the end of World War II. Scientists suspect the white phosphorous and depleted uranium in US munitions.

The use of white phosphorous was illegal because it is arguably a chemical weapon, riot control agent, or incendiary weapon. Furthermore, the methods and means of its use in Fallujah violated the laws of war.

Greens MP Adam Bandt has, however, apologised to senator Jim Molan, for saying he could be a war criminal.

… unlike our Border Force and the militarisation of compassion …

Inexplicably, the PM skips Jim’s winning “2009 Australian Thinker of the Year” an inestimable gift of appreciation which unlike our Border Force and the militarisation of compassion, another of Jim’s great Australian contributions “carries with it no responsibilities, commitments or obligations of any kind”.

The fuss over Jim helps distract from the revelation that the Coalition has been lying about Treasury advice. Our ABC reveals how Turnbull’s government lied in 2016 about Labor’s negative gearing plan. Our sensible centrist PM calls it “the most ill-conceived, potentially destructive policy ever proposed by any opposition“.

The ALP wanted to limit the tax deduction and halve the capital gains tax (CGT) discount, a modest proposal. Yet Coalition MPs went into howls of protest: Labor would take an “axe”, a “sledgehammer” or even “a chainsaw” to the housing market. Such wanton vandalism would bring Australia’s booming economy to a “shuddering halt”.

Of course, the Turnbull government lied. And it lied that its lie was based on “confidential Treasury advice”.

It was a scare tactic straight out of Gitmo or Abbott’s carbon tax hysteria playbook and almost as damaging.

It’s taken a mere, two-year legal battle to find out the lies. Treasury advised in 2016, that Labor’s plan “might exert some downward pressure; a (possible) relatively modest downward impact” on house prices. The lie was a key campaign issue in the 2016 election. Newspeak virtuoso, Scott Orwell Morrison, is not, however, a whit abashed.

ScoMo still lies about who benefits from negative gearing. Treasury advice is that negative gearing and the capital gains tax mostly benefit high-income households. Treasury calculates, 52.6% of the tax benefits from negative gearing are reaped by the top 20% of income earners, while 54.3% of the tax savings from the capital gains discount go to the top 10% of families ranked by income.

Mums and Dads trying to get ahead”

Despite this, an Orwellian Coalition and its housing lobby pals claim the opposite. “Teachers, nurses, and police officers” stand to benefit the most or it’s that sentimental family favourite “Mums and Dads trying to get ahead”.

The Grattan Institute finds 12% of teachers negative gear and 9% of nurses. Yet 29% of surgeons and anaesthetists benefit. Doctors also get a much higher average tax benefit. $3,000+ compared to nurses, who benefit by a mere $226 and teachers who benefit by $289. But ScoMo never listens. Nor does his government.

Treasury is wrong, ScoMo maintains. ScoMo knows because he was once “a research economist in the property sector”. From 1989-1995 he was, indeed, a manager for The Property Council of Australia, a housing industry lobby group, a role guaranteed to give him halcyon independence, objectivity and peerless, impartial advice.

Morrison’s chutzpah, his Trumpery, his flaky claim to credibility, allows him to dismiss Treasury experts; spurn Productivity Commission research that Labor’s proposal will have little, if any, effect on housing supply.

The Treasurer’s big lies, of course, include the fiction that his government are good economic managers and that we are in the middle of a jobs bonanza. Public opinion, he says, agrees – another lie.

It’s not that every opinion poll is rigged, although Clive Palmer candidly admitted paying for the results the Liberals wanted when he was state director. It’s not just that MSM is always ready to repeat the monstrous falsehood – some defending it on the grounds that it’s a widespread perception – or it’s what voters think. Voters think?

… Abbott and Turnbull are Australia’s worst post-war economic managers on record …

The reality, Alan Austin notes, ” … is that the economy collapsed inexcusably during the two years Joe Hockey was treasurer. But it has tanked even further, except for the very rich, since Scott Morrison replaced him. The Australia Institute research indicates Abbott and Turnbull are Australia’s worst post-war economic managers on record.

Less forgettable or, as Orwell has it, less worthy of erasure, is Scott Morrison’s preselection; how The Daily Telegraph got the MP pretending to be an effective Federal Treasurer launched into politics in 2007. The extraordinary circumstances of Morrison’s entry into the political arena are almost cause, in themselves, to be cautious of any of his subsequent claims. No other MP, surely, is less credible; has such a flaky threshold of power.

In 2007, Morrison loses 82 votes to 8 to Lebanese-Australian Michael Towke, a telecommunications engineer member of the Liberals’ right faction, in pre-selection for the safe Liberal NSW seat of Cook.

Enter The Daily Telegraph. In four articles, The Tele falsely accuses Towke of branch stacking & faking his resume. Towke is disendorsed. The Liberals hold a new ballot. Morrison wins; parachuted in over the politically dead body of his rival local members gossip. Towke sues The Tele for defamation; settles for an undisclosed sum.

Glad tidings round off the week in politics as US fiscal genius Donald Trump’s tax cuts help panic the stock market into wiping off $2.49 trillion in a 10 percent fall by Thursday from a record on Jan. 26. Global stock markets follow, losing $5.20 trillion.

Trump’s cuts are acclaimed by our economically illiterate government which seeks to emulate Trump’s economic wizardry and his war on truth. Morrison, recently returned from the US, claims to have witnessed for himself the miracle of massive company tax cuts creating jobs. But the only example he can give is Walmart.

Yet Walmart on 12 January said it would raise entry-level wages for U.S. hourly employees to $11 an hour in February as it benefits from last month’s major corporate tax cut and on the same day announced it would shut stores and lay off thousands of workers.

Of course, Morrison will dispute this. He will know better than the experts. Better than any authorities or any so-called facts. He always does, just like his Prime Minister. It’s the signature theme of the Turnbull government. The future looks impossibly rosy. Especially when you are making it up. But the key lies in erasing the past.

As Malcolm Turnbull himself quoted from George Orwell, this week “The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became the truth”. It was not yet our reality, he says, but no longer entirely fantasy.”

He and his government are seeing to it, personally.

*David Tyler (AKA Urban Wronski) was born in England, raised in New Zealand and an Australian resident since 1979. Urban Wronski grew up conflicted about his own national identity and continues to be deeply mistrustful of all nationalism, chauvinism, flags, politicians and everything else which divides and obscures our common humanity. He has always been enchanted by nature and by the extraordinary brilliance of ordinary men and women and the genius, the power and the poetry that is their vernacular. Wronski is now a fulltime freelance writer who lives with his partner and editor Shay and their chooks, near the Grampians in rural Victoria and he counts himself the luckiest man alive. A former teacher of all ages and stages, from Tertiary to Primary, for nearly forty years, he enjoyed contesting the corporatisation of schooling to follow his own natural instinct for undifferentiated affection, approval and compassion for the young.

Fairfax: Barnaby Joyce’s career hangs in the balance

news.com.au: Is Prime Minister Turnbull responsible for the Barnaby Joyce scandal?

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


  1. Peter Bright

    February 17, 2018 at 4:00 pm

    Bob Hawkins at #29 speaks of his suspicion that Bob Hawke had divided political loyalties.

    It fits, but it also fits with Bill Shorten.

    My feeling is that both men recognise that business provides jobs for the workforce, and that in consequence of this symbiotic relationship they co-operate with it for mutual gain.

    Unfortunately, this prioritisation of mutual gain too often occurs at the expense of the environment upon which we increasingly depend, a precious and life-giving environment that is dimishing in quality at an accelerating pace because rampaging capitalistic exploitation is permitted to demolish the environment faster than Nature can restore it.

    A classic example of this is the deep social division over the Adani mine fiasco where ruthless and reckless unprincipled capitalism wants gain by wanton destruction of what Nature has created, this being one of its favourite methods of getting it.

    It’s true that in the short term some workers will secure token financial returns for complying with such skulduggery, but the resultant havoc can be devastating especially when the real costs of that unprincipled exploitation are forced onto a nation’s people by politicians complicit in this betrayal. This occurs through their links with business interests, most of which I suspect are in secret.

    It is desperately important to unprincipled exploiters, and those planning to benefit from it, to get their hands on the levers of government [i]via their own agents[/i] and so we can be sure that deals are made about which society knows nothing, perhaps until something really blows up.

    The Greens are [i][b]not[/b][/i] anti-business where business is principled and beneficial and not exploitive and destructive.

    If you want to see clearly who are the goodies and who are the baddies in all this, just observe which political parties and their supporters hate the Greens the most.

    The Liberals are obviously stand-out villains, but sadly (because I have such great respect for the workforce) Labor is complicit.

    I believe that Bob’s suspicion is justified.

  2. mike seabrook

    February 17, 2018 at 1:00 pm


    cassie and bec working together – where is nick mckim ?

  3. mike seabrook

    February 17, 2018 at 12:58 pm

    do mistresses have the right to sue their employers for unsafe/hurt feelings when they are “wronged” in the workplace even if they were the instigator. what about the pollies squeezes. how many years do they have to bring actions

  4. mike seabrook

    February 17, 2018 at 12:54 pm

    twenty five single member electorate seats could fix tassies electoral system and show accountability and responsibilty to the local people ( though all power to those drawing the boundaries) or say 37 if the legislative council in tassie is done away with

    5 electorates of five members gives all power to the party system

  5. mike seabrook

    February 17, 2018 at 12:48 pm

    when henry the eights latest could not produce a son – their heads got chopped off

  6. Bob Hawkins

    February 17, 2018 at 12:05 am

    #9: I always had a sneaking feeling Hawke was a Liberal plant, or a double agent.

  7. philll Parsons

    February 16, 2018 at 10:22 am

    A vote in the Nats Party room saw Barnaby leadership supported 12 to 8. That’s 40% against continuing with Barnaby.

    Out in the electorates if Nat supporters and voters walk away at this rate the Nats will be devastated.

    In Barnaby’s New England seat, formerly a safe one, voter support has fallen by 22% to cause Barnaby to depend on preferences to be elected.

    The troops are not impressed and I don’t know if there can be a rebuild of support when the discretion is so basic.

    The Greens made an error in calling Molan a war criminal. First you need the evidence, then the evidence needs to be presented to the jury [voters] and then you can sum up.

    Turdbull should remain leader, he is their most plausible shit seller but now he has set a challenge to the Barnaby and the Nats over leadership and yet again has the chance to show he is weak by being dependent on the Nats just as he is to the Abbott faction.

    Goodbye to his former principles and the Murray Darling Basin Plan he invested so much time in.

    Appearing dressed as a leader with the winning smile fronting a hollow man torn between a right faction, an even more right faction in the one man time bomb Abbott and a Party of agrarian socialists with no regard for the environment will see no recovery in the polls.

    The jobs figures may look good but it is a global trend. It is difficult for any Party to send the economy soaring so quickly although they are happy to claim it. The Lieberals could be lucky and see more than 12 months of economic growth but without wages rising it is unlikely to resonate with voters.

  8. John Hawkins

    February 15, 2018 at 11:34 pm

    This is developing into the Penis and Boob show.

    All highly amusing as the Coalition vanishes down the plughole.

    Malcolm baby was fed the line of 5,000 Tasmanian jobs down the tube with no Pokies in the pubs and clubs.

    The Liberal government’s Impact Study on Gambling in Tasmania suggested 250 which John Lawrence considers about right.

    But if the Liberals are booted out then one family is $75 million worse off.

    So now it is what ever it takes, and whatever it costs, to get Hodgie the Bodgie across the line.

    Lying bastards

  9. John Biggs

    February 14, 2018 at 11:31 am

    #25 … I’d have to agree. I was interstate at that period. But that indicates what a shower of premiers we have had. What did we deserve to cop all that?

  10. Wining Pom

    February 14, 2018 at 12:06 am

    ‘This government must rank amongst the worst we have ever had in all round performance’

    No John. Robin Gray is the stand out star in that category.

  11. Teresa Maddox

    February 13, 2018 at 8:03 pm

    Why did Joyce get rid of his staffer if she was such an asset that positions were created for her elsewhere? Typical high ranking public servants rallying to protect each other!

  12. John Biggs

    February 13, 2018 at 6:03 pm

    I made a list of reasons why the Hodgman government has failed and sent it to all Tas papers. It went like this, only now updated:

    The Hodgman Government’s term of office has been characterised by incompetence, secrecy, and neglect of public welfare. The hard won Tasmanian Forestry Agreement, which industry itself had called for, was torn up, thereby returning Tasmania to the forestry wars of the past. The High Court found the Anti-Workplace Protest Bill to be confusing, vague and poorly written, and of ‘Pythonesque absurdity’ in the opinion of one judge. I think this is particularly damning of their incompetence (and how many lawyers are in the Govt?).

    While on incompetence I could mention the health crisis, and then the Safe Pathways and child care scandal. And their electioneering answer to the health crisis? Give a figure higher than Labor’s commitment and add in Commonwealth money to make it look good (see Martyn Goddard’s leading article in today’s TT).

    The Tasmanian Planning Scheme effectively gave open slather to developers, a further gift when 300 properties in the Hobart area were delisted from the Tasmanian Heritage Council. The government then played favourites with Tassal, allowing it several thousand tonnes of fish over the EPA quota even when Macquarie Harbour was found to degraded into near sterility, and then even allowing Tassal into Okehampton over strong public protest. The government downgraded bio-security and now we have fruit fly.

    As for Peter Gutwein, Minister for Secrecy, we have secrecy over advice received from Treasury regarding the possible sale of the Tamar Valley power plant, the proposed takeover of TasWater, then the very shady deal giving Adrian Bold licence to start drilling for the Wellington cable car without telling anyone? Really? Is he a one man Cabinet overriding even the Premier, or is the Premier lying about his Manualesque “I know nothing!”

    Then we have the arrogance (even perhaps racism) of allowing sacred sites in the Tarkine to be smashed by hoons on off-road vehicles.

    Finally, and typical of the mindset, this government is reducing the poker machine issue to who profits, not to what personal and social damage poker machines cause. Money for mates – that’s a recurring theme.

    Public welfare: such a woeful and destructive policy on public housing that we have tent city on the showground – a terribly human crisis in a wealthy society.

    This government must rank amongst the worst we have ever had in all round performance, although Lennon Labor certainly gave it some strong competition.

  13. Simon Warriner

    February 13, 2018 at 1:05 pm

    re #20 … good to see your argument has been so well thought out, John. Nice defence of your idea.

    Now, how about answering the questions that arise from your proposal?

    Again, why should the “major” parties get equal representation? What proportion of the Parliament would be “independent” and how would that decision be made?
    How are you going to get any parliament dominated by the major parties to give “independents” a guaranteed voice in parliament? And how are a bunch of people who accept conflicted interest as a given more qualified to recognise “significance” (whatever the hell that means) and intelligence than the voters? (Their conflicted interest suggests strongly that recognising intelligence is not one of their strong suites, so it is a fair bet the outcome will be a continuation of the rather obvious inexorable decline in their offerings. I was perhaps incorrect when I called it a circle jerk, because every circuit winds up worse than the one before and so downward spiral jerk is more precise.)

    Those are the questions that you need to answer. Depending on your answer I might revise my thoughts on the matter, but if personal abuse is the best you have then my initial thought will remain until something better replaces it. Yes, I could have been gentler, but I am not alone in that, am I?

  14. Russell

    February 13, 2018 at 12:30 pm

    Re #17
    “So how do you know if he has not privately apologised to his wife and daughters?”

    Read up and inform yourself. Barney’s not the victim as you and others like to portray him.

    “Also, this issue is about moral integrity. I know myself that with past ventures in my life, some things I wish I could change, wind the clock back so to say, that decisions made, or mistakes made…”

    He’s not a baby, Peter, AND he’s Deputy Prime Minister. No-one with such a low IQ or scale of hypocrisy should be leading a country or even representing it at any level. Too many mistakes, too often. All the while slugging the beers down at every opportunity.

  15. John Wade

    February 13, 2018 at 8:33 am

    Warriner – I bet you stand out in the paddock on a stump holding a big stick, lecturing all your imaginary friends. Wanker!

    Brucellosis is a bitch, eh?

  16. TGC

    February 12, 2018 at 11:00 pm

    #18 … ” if it is libs 30%, labor 15 %…”
    haven’t seen such an outcome for a long while.

  17. Simon Warriner

    February 12, 2018 at 7:51 pm

    re 14 … why should the “major parties” have equal representation? How the hell is that an expression of the will of the people? They should get what ever they get, and the people will get the government they deserve. If it is libs 30%, labor 15 % and assorted others with the rest, then so be it. Or any other combination.

    And the second sentence, most intelligent people would recognise that for the circle jerk it most certainly is.

    The further away from government we can keep the sort of people who form political parties the better. They clearly do not understand cconflicted interest and that is inimical to the ability to participate in the task of governing competently and fairly, and in the service of the greater common good.

  18. Peter Black

    February 12, 2018 at 6:50 pm

    #15 … “Barney disingenuously pseudo-apologises to the camera today, instead of personally face to face with his wife and children”

    So how do you know if he has not privately apologised to his wife and daughters ?
    You claim to know in your statement what may or not happened privately.

    Also, this issue is about moral integrity. I know myself that with past ventures in my life, some things I wish I could change, wind the clock back so to say, that decisions made, or mistakes made, like Barney, that I will not be damming him …….

  19. TGC

    February 12, 2018 at 6:03 pm

    #14 suggests “… a selection of independents to oversee and direct the governance for the purpose of advancing Australia.”
    Who would ‘select’ the ‘independents’?

  20. Russell

    February 12, 2018 at 3:57 pm

    What a disgraceful bunch of Liberal and National low-lifes we have in Canberra!

    Barney disingenuously pseudo-apologises to the camera today, instead of personally face to face with his wife and children. There’s true Christian family values if I ever saw them.

    He then insists he wasn’t in any relationship with partner Vikki Campion when she was found alternative positions of higher pay in an attempt to distance himself from Ministerial protocols of not providing employment in his or fellow Ministers’ offices.

    Vikki and Barney’s child is allegedly due in April, so that means conception was in July 2017.

    According to the Australian “Barnaby Joyce’s pregnant partner and former staffer Vikki Campion has been drawing a government pay packet over the past two months, with her employment formally expected to cease later this week.

    Ms Campion’s redundancy payout was approved last December following Malcolm Turnbull’s ministerial reshuffle and after she was moved between three Nationals offices in the space of six months.

    The Australian understands the 32-year-old took stress leave last October, about two months after taking a senior adviser’s role in the office of then Nationals chief whip Damian Drum…”

    Now they are reportedly living rent-free in Armidale at a millionaire mate’s place.

    The evidence stacks up greatly against Barney and Malcolm Turnbull. Clearly there WAS and is still a relationship where Vikki would be considered his partner.

    Then there’s Turnbull himself!

    He walked out on the Indigenous “Close The Gap” breakfast last week, and then repeated the same shameful and disrespectful arrogance today at the 10th Anniversary meeting where he was even scheduled to give a speech! He only turned up long enough to have his picture taken outside the Conference to pretend he’d been there.

    There is no place in our Governments for disrespect or people like this!

    Turnbull and Joyce should be unceremoniously drummed out of Canberra and the Lodge along with all those who took part in these disgusting charades and abuse of Public Office, with no pension, and to pay back all salaries since the time of Barnaby’s indiscretions.

  21. John Wade

    February 12, 2018 at 12:06 pm

    I suggest equal representation of the major parties in parliament with a selection of independents to oversee and direct the governance for the purpose of advancing Australia.

    No brown paper bag assistance, and representatives voted for by parties on their significance and intelligence.

  22. Simon Warriner

    February 12, 2018 at 6:53 am

    Thank you Peter, for that comprehensive follow on.
    What is clearly needed is a mechanism to translate that groundswell of community opposition into control at a political level, rendering the parties and their issues moot.

  23. Peter Henning

    February 11, 2018 at 10:53 pm

    #9 Simon, continued:

    Which brings us back to Gunns. At the height of the Tasmanian pulp mill controversy huge pressure was brought to bear on Gunns’ main financier, the ANZ Bank, which finally led them to decline lending for the mill, a decision followed by all other Australian banks and then by international lenders as well. The pulp mill then foundered on its inability to obtain funding or an international joint venture partner.
    It now appears that Adani will founder in similar fashion because not only have Australian banks backed away, and international sources have too, but at long last it seems likely that a beleaguered ALP will step away as well. In the Queensland election last year the promise of Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk to veto the NAFI loan to Adani helped her retain power, and the public backlash to the possibility that Aurizon could replace Adani in getting public funds to build the railway, has now forced Aurizon to withdraw.

    The sad and scary Adani-Gunns analogy demonstrates very clearly that the Australian political system has little capacity to look to the future and is more intent on clinging to personal and partisan interests tied to corporate power and influence. A Tasmanian pulp mill could never have competed in the market with South America, to name just one region, and the whole proposal assumed the world would stay the same for generations into the future in its demand for pulpwood products, a bizarrely narrow view of how a viable forestry industry should be structured. It is even more bizarre that any Australian government or political party could so blatantly ignore the rapid worldwide transition to clean energy and still support Adani.

    There is only one way to interpret why Malcolm Turnbull is reading from the Adani prompt sheet about the fantastic long-term future of coal while the rest of the world has moved on, and where the focus on post-fossil clean energy has already become the norm.

    It’s the same reason that Tasmanian politicians grovelled to Gunns’ interests. Their decisions are not based on serving the public interest, and by extension have nothing to do with the national interest but are completely controlled by the power of vested corporate interests.

    The Adani and Gunns projects are not presented here as unique indicators of the disastrous backward-looking mentality of Australian political leadership, and how there is nothing innately progressive within the Australian political system. They are just two high profile examples of how the political system is lacking in principled democratic leadership, and how there is a complete disconnect between the principle of representative democracy and its practice at both federal and state level, and how Australian political parties are failing to serve the national interest.

    Most interesting of all is how grass-roots opposition, community-based rather than aligned with political parties, have been crucial players influencing banks and private investors, and how that dynamic – exemplified by community-based opposition to the pulp mill which retained a distinctive voice separate to and different from the mainstream Lab/Lib/Greens – will continue to play out in the future

  24. Peter Henning

    February 11, 2018 at 10:51 pm

    #9 Simon … It is interesting to compare the proposed Adani coal mining project in the Rockhampton hinterland in Queensland with the Gunns pulp mill proposal in Tasmania a decade ago, because the comparison sheds light on the way that the political system operates in Australia to subvert the public interest in transferring control of extensive land and water resources to powerful corporate profiteers and rent seekers at the expense of all other social, economic and environmental considerations.

    The story of Gunns’ proposal to build one of the world’s largest pulp mills in Tasmania’s Tamar Valley was essentially based on the idea that large areas of Tasmania, extending from most of Tasmania’s drinking water catchments to prime agricultural land, would be pulpwood plantations in various stages of rotation, from planting to clear felling, for the rest of the 21st century. On any economic, social and environmental analysis the idea made no sense, yet it gained the support of all political parties including the Greens, who only opposed the Tamar Valley site for political reasons but were happy for it to be built elsewhere.

    From 2003 until 2017, when the planning permits for the mill finally lapsed, all Tasmanian governments had given unequivocal support to the proposal even after Gunns collapsed in 2012. In 2007 the Tasmanian parliament was converted into Gunns’ approval board after Gunns withdrew from the regulatory assessment process because it had determined Gunns was ‘critically non-compliant’ in addressing guideline requirements.

    The resulting legislation included provisions which prevented redress if the mill adversely affected people’s businesses, property values, health and welfare. It was established that the mill would use more water than that used by all users, residential and commercial, in the greater northern region of Tasmania, including Launceston and its rural hinterlands.

    The issue dominated Tasmania, especially in the Tamar Valley and rural areas where MIS plantations undermined farming communities and inflicted massive damage on water catchments. One incident, the highly publicised destruction of oyster farms at St Helens’ Georges Bay in 2003 as traced back to nitens plantations by scientific analyses undertaken by several Australian universities outside Tasmania and the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research in New Zealand, was scandalous, but was ultimately swept under the carpet and ignored by all those with vested interests in creating Plantation Isle for Gunns’ pulp mill.

    In Queensland, until recently, the major parties have been equally gung-ho about the Adani Carmichael coal project which would establish the largest-ever coal mine in Australia, ignoring all the economic, social and environmental costs. All local and regional issues, such as impacts on local communities, farmers, water supplies, the environment, including the Great Barrier Reef, have been largely ignored by the Labor, Liberal and National parties at all levels.

    Adani has been given unlimited access to groundwater by the Queensland Labor government until 2077, estimated to be 26 million litres every day, without independent or government monitoring and without impact levels in relation to other users, such as farmers and graziers and others dependent on artesian water.

    In December 2016 the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund (NAIF) granted ‘conditional approval’ for a $1 billion loan to Adani to build a rail link from its mining operations to the export terminal at Abbot Point. Since then, public opposition to the project has escalated and been a major factor in the decision of Australian banks not to fund the project …

  25. TGC

    February 11, 2018 at 10:24 pm

    Cassie and Bec working together – dream on.

  26. Simon Warriner

    February 11, 2018 at 9:06 pm

    re 7, this: “Of course both Labor and the Greens want what each naturally wants. Labor wants a fairly paid workforce and proper living conditions for the population, and the Greens prioritise health because they know, far better than any other political entity, that nowadays more than ever a healthy Environment means life and a buggered one means universal misery and suffering.”

    Complete and Absolute Bollocks.

    The performance of the Greens at the time of the leaked emails about dioxin and the proposed Longreach Pulp Mill showed exactly what the Greens were about, namely getting the plantation estate wet dream up and running. Bugger the health of the Tamar residents. They had the runs on the board around the dioxin issue at Wesley Vale and their response to this revelation was so weak it was invisible to all but the most ardent supporter.

    As for Labor being about a fairly paid workforce, Hawkes “accord” stuck the stake fair through the heart of that dishonest scarecrow. How many years of price inflation with no wage rises did that deliver the Australian workforce? A decade, more or less. It was all about ensuring big business got what it wanted. Hawke got well rewarded for doing just that. And then there is the ongoing revelations of the deals done between union bosses in the Labor party hierarchy and major employers that leave workers worse off.

    Nothing has changed, and the structural conflicts of interest between the party dogma and ideology and the greater common good of the whole electorate are embedded in every party, no matter how shiny noble its press releases sound, and will always bring the party into conflict with the disciplines of proper governance and the greater common good should the party gain power. Fair and foul, they will all wind up reviled and ultimately rejected because it is the role of the party to seek power and if at all possible retain it.
    The end always winds up being used to justify the means.

    Far better to work out how to do without political parties, and avoid the disappointment. Bring the ownership of political power back to the electorate where it belongs. That is done by using independent political representatives and replacing them as often as is needed to train them to behave.

    If you cannot see that then clearly you are more than a tad sillier than the chooks you so disparagingly compare your fellow Tasmanians to.

  27. John Biggs

    February 11, 2018 at 9:04 pm

    #1 … Look at the Hodgman set-up and see if you can find if its health system exists.

    Exactly so. Labor, following its social agenda fronts up with $560 million which is fine. Then the Libs top that with $767 million after their disastrous 4 years with the incompetent Ferguson in charge of health. Labor will be hard enough to finance but 3/4 of a billion? It’s all too obvious: the Libs have no intention, can have no intention, of honouring that.

    #7. You are right Peter. The 3 concerns of state govt are 1. economy, 2. social welfare and wellbeing for all citizens, 3 environment. The Libs are concerned with (1) only, first and last. Hodgman even said that large scale donors to a party are entitled, yes ENTITLED, to expect a return for their donation in terms of favourable legislation (see Greg Barns in today’s Mercury). In other words our Premier is saying bribery is OK. Even his father would be turning in his grave at that.

    That leaves social welfare of citizens and the environment. Labor gives this social welfare a tick and Greens give both (2) and (3). So yes, the Greens and Labor overlap and should work together, to nullify the greed and corruption of the Liberals. Tasmanians have these STUPID MYTHS that (1) a power sharing government is a disaster and (2) a Labor Green agreement (not to say coalition) is even worse. The record says otherwise on both counts.

  28. Peter Bright

    February 11, 2018 at 6:29 pm

    Splendid observations, John!

    I agree that the Greens and Labor are natural allies. Both parties should always keep that in mind and devise rigorous precautions against disharmony, preferably on the quiet because the myopic and hypocritical Liberals love jamming poisoned wedges into anything progressive.

    Of course both Labor and the Greens want what each naturally wants. Labor wants a fairly paid workforce and proper living conditions for the population, and the Greens prioritise health because they [i]know,[/i] far better than any other political entity, that nowadays more than ever a healthy Environment means life and a buggered one means universal misery and suffering.

    But the Liberals’ mantra is always “profits [i]now!”[/i] and to hell with the workforce that generates them (they won’t do the toil themselves because they can’t) and to blazes with the environment that cannot immediately defend itself.

    There’s money to be made pilfering the workers’ earnings under pretexts, and in demolishing the environment for the recklessly unprincipled selfish gain of the few.

    It’s the Liberals’ narcissistic beliefs and policies that have us careening towards the edge of survival mode – the Liberals and their damnable kind, especially in the USA.

    I’m wondering if trained chooks could vote more intelligently than many home-grown Tasmanians.

  29. john hayward

    February 11, 2018 at 6:18 pm

    You have to admire Barnaby’s rugged masculinity in not blushing, so far as anyone can make out, in the face of miraculous good fortune.

    Rather than relying on a parliamentary pension, he has demonstrated a jumbo bit of stable genius in buying up some seemingly useless land for just over a half a million dollars near Narrabri and the Pillaga State Forest in NSW that turns out to be covered by a major Santos coal seam gas lease. Fortune favour the brave.

    He has also encouraged a similar self-reliance in Australian women by opposing support for the Human Papilloma Virus vaccine.

    It’s no wonder younger women find him irresistible.

    John Hayward

  30. John Hawkins

    February 11, 2018 at 5:31 pm

    The Liberal Party clings on to power because it governs in coalition with the Nationals.

    The Labor Party will only gain power through the good offices of a coalition with the Greens.

    That is why the Murdoch press and the Liberals pour scalding water all over the Greens all day and every day.

    If Labor wake up and work honestly and openly with the Greens, rather than being self righteous and stupid, they will easily win the Tasmanian election.

    The Libs are making fools of us all when they govern by coalition with a party led by a stupid Kiwi like Joyce who cannot even fill in his nomination form without lying.

    How do these people get the job – and even more importantly, why do we permit them to keep it?

  31. John Biggs

    February 11, 2018 at 12:21 pm

    Wonderful as usual, Urban. I would only quibble about one thing: Harris not being a friend of Trump’s for being sent to this “shit hole: appointment. My immediate thought was that Trump deliberately sent a china-hating mate to compromise Australia, for if as he will, Harris starts bad mouthing China and our deals with China, that would constitute an attack on Australia’s business. Further Trump/Harris know what a fawning arse licker our PM is and so Turnbull will likely follow the Harris/Trump line to our detriment, instead of stopping relations with any troublemaking ambassador.

  32. Lynne Newington

    February 11, 2018 at 11:42 am

    “Barnaby telling his estranged wife, Natalie that Vikki is expecting a boy. “A dagger to Natalie’s heart.”
    It certainly must have been, with four daughters …there’s something masculine about producing boys, so they say.

  33. Russell

    February 11, 2018 at 11:33 am

    “We know that the best protection for those girls is that they get themselves into a secure relationship with a loving husband and I want that to happen for them. I don’t want any legislator to take that right away from me.” – So that some other boozy married man can come along and have an affair with her, get her pregnant, and destroy two marriages which ‘exemplified’ “traditional family values” and “the sanctity of marriage”?

    Good one Barney. Isn’t Christianity just the pinnacle of hypocrisy? But who cares when one’s pecker or money is involved, eh?

  34. Chris

    February 11, 2018 at 10:45 am

    Welcome back. Look at the Hodgman set-up and see if you can find if its health system exists.

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