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30
Jan

A Clever Strategy

To understand what is going on here, we need to consider an interesting theory, namely that the Liberal Party exists primarily to perpetuate its own existence. Add your thoughts here… (optional)

The Australian Independent Media Network

AndrewsIt’s a familiar story. Every time a Liberal government is voted into office we hear the same old mantra about cracking down on welfare fraud. They do it every time; not because they think there is widespread fraud happening, but because history has shown it’s something that will create a particular reaction within a certain sub-set of voters. In addition to that, they are also planning an expanded ‘work for the dole’ program and have begun seeking support for re-establishing the Australian Building and Construction Commission amid claims of bribery and corruption in the construction industry. It’s a clever strategy. These platforms have, in the past, proven to be a popular area for conservative governments to exploit. Labor, on the other hand, who have always been serious about welfare fraud, unemployment benefits and corruption and have the record to prove it, prefer to just get on with policing it and…

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27
Jan

This Grand Mediocrity

Glancing across the transcripts of Abbott’s speech at Davos left me breathless for its infantile minimalism. Is this really the best he had to offer?

The Australian Independent Media Network

abbott wefWhen I was 16 and still at school, Brother Egbert occasionally tried to teach us some of the more rudimentary elements of economics. But, he being a Marist brother, and my school being a Catholic College, the subject invariably got muddied and soon went missing in the deeper waters of the religious perspective. Still, he did his best. My memories of Brother Egbert came back last week watching bits and pieces of the speech given by Tony Abbott at the World Economic Forum in Davos. What can I say other than he did his mediocre best.

Tony Abbott spoke to the attendees at the forum in similar, monotonous undertones of simplicity as Brother Egbert spoke to us. At best, Abbott sounded like a Vatican appointed Honorary Prelate exercising jurisdiction over the faithful and the converted trying to impart the teachings of the privileged few. And the information (teaching) passed on…

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24
Jan

A Dangerous Game

Fear of boat people has a foundation…but the foundation is false. The underbelly of the fear isn’t real; it has no authenticity. When minorities are seen to be threatening, that creates fear. And when they are highly visible, then the fear is exponential.

The Australian Independent Media Network

navyHistorically, regional conflicts start as a reaction to a perceived threat. They are usually accidental and result from misunderstandings that develop and escalate between two forces mobilised and facing off against each other, each believing they have a responsibility to protect their national interests. In most cases common sense applies and the commanders of each force will sort out their differences and at the end of the day, each will go their separate ways, with neither having to lose face. But, occasionally things do get out of hand.

There are occasions where inexperienced commanders find themselves in unexpected situations and need to seek advice from their Command Base. In the process, the exact details of the situation can be overstated, understated or misunderstood which can lead to vital information being transmitted incorrectly. This incorrect information is then relayed to another higher authority, usually a government official, where the original detail…

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22
Jan

This Basket Case of Coalition Blunders

The Coalition’s past blustering is coming back to bite them and Labor should be diligently preparing to launch a counter attack and make sure they give back at least as much as they got. They owe Wayne Swan that much and it’s not as if they will be short of ammunition.

The Australian Independent Media Network

 Coalition errors

How refreshing it was to see Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten come out on the front foot as he did this week. But his belief that Prime Minister, Tony Abbott will be a ‘oncer’ is not going to happen automatically. I can’t remember a Party or an Opposition Leader being given a better rebuilding opportunity following an election loss than Labor and Bill Shorten. But clawing back 22 seats in 2016 is an enormous task and will require not just huge internal discipline, but sound policies and skilled media management as well.

Shorten has unsurprisingly expressed his amazement at how Tony Abbott has squandered his political capital in so short a time frame. This has happened because neither Abbott nor his Coalition ‘team’ were ready to govern. They squandered the last two years firing off negative round after round at Labor’s internal squabbles, at debt and deficit, at getting rid…

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17
Jan

Australia Day: Can we talk about this?

Is it not time to take a second look at the manner of our celebration and what is appropriate in the timing of this event?

The Australian Independent Media Network

Aus dayDepending on how far this article travels, I expect to take a bit of stick from some quarters, but if it starts a movement then, it’ll be worthwhile. As Australia Day 2014 approaches I’m beginning to feel the onset of cultural cringe again and attribute that feeling to my sense of discomfort for what this day represents. I have long felt uncomfortable about using the 26th January to commemorate the birthday of our nation. After all, it was that day in 1788 an occupying force landed in Botany Bay, a force that sought no dialogue with the indigenous inhabitants nor cared for any. Our white ancestors just barged in and assumed control with no interest or concern for the civilization that was already here. We now use the anniversary of this day, long regarded by the descendants of those inhabitants as a day of infamy in their culture and…

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16
Jan

Banjo’s “Quatrain”

A lighthearted, modern interpretation of an old favourite.

The Australian Independent Media Network

A guest post from John Kelly.

I haven’t read Cory Bernardi’s book, The Conservative Revolution but from the fallout that has developed since its release and the things I have heard him say, I think I have a pretty good idea of its contents. In many ways, I suspect it reflects a response to a growing concern festering among the conservative ranks that today’s relaxed way of life, in terms of what we think and do, is sending our nation to the dogs; it is a threat to our morality and spiritual well being. It betrays the principles of that golden era that so many sons of former conservatives, now long gone, hold dear; that time of our development when we actually did have a class structure that roughly mirrored that of mother England. I’m referring to the post war period of Sir Robert Menzies who always regarded Australia…

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14
Jan

WHERE HAVE ALL OUR VALUES GONE?

images2First published at The Australian Independent Media Network on January 5th 2014

at: http://theaimn.com

Within our own family units we live for each other, for our children, for the good of everyone in the family, but it seems once we step outside the front door it’s a different story. Life becomes a rat race where a dog-eat-dog mentality takes over. It’s a jungle out there and we must survive and prosper or perish. That brings about a radical, even werewolf transformation as we skip down the driveway, walk to the bus stop, or jump into the car to head off onto the freeway. Out on the street, we are different. There we cast off our benevolent, compassionate, kind hearted, empathetic approach that defines us as caring family members in favour of full battle dress, armour and weaponry to get us through a day that will bring constant challenges; where conflict with those who would unseat us and claim the spoils is ever present. It’s a jungle out there.

To help us survive this onslaught we are always open to the advice of the three wise men of the jungle; the financial advisor, the pastoral advisor and the all-purpose guru of modern life: the talk-back radio jock. As our anxieties increase, we are all too ready to succumb to the ranting of some journalists and talk-back radio hosts who delight in scaring the crap out of us with doom and gloom stories, all of which might be good for their ratings but are bad for our sense of justice, compassion and simply being good for goodness’ sake. We don’t want to be bothered with difficult issues that call on us to take a stand. It’s easier for us to listen to anyone who presents an argument that supports the path of least resistance. I have listened some mornings and afternoons while in the car as some talk-back radio jocks have launched an almost hysterical tirade against asylum seekers, as if our country was being invaded. I can therefore understand how the easily led listener succumbs to the temptation that they might be right. It is not difficult to frighten people.

But those who give in so easily should stop and think because something is happening, as I write, that characterizes the very nature of the problem and demonstrates the extent to which this way of living our lives, is counterproductive. Presently there’s a growing population of asylum seekers stuck on Christmas Island and two other hellholes, one in New Guinea, the other Nauru, who want to come to Australia or anywhere else that will take them because they believe they are no longer safe in their own country. The legacy of Tampa, that haunted Kim Beazley, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard and now plays to the delight of the Abbott regime, is redefining our national identity, i.e. what it means to be Australian. The Coalition has made great capital of the notion that if we let a few boatloads of refugees into our country we are going to be overrun by hoards of Afghans, Iraqis, Iranians, Sri Lankans or anyone else who tries to come here to seek a better life. Yes, we have a generous refugee policy but there are some 40 million human beings in refugee camps around the world (5 million this year alone) and some have been there for as long as ten years. It’s easy to see, therefore, why refugee camps are not all that attractive to people fleeing war-torn regions, oppressive regimes and hunger ravaged countries, opting to sell all their possessions to raise the money to pay some miserable people smugglers to bring them to Australia.

We have nearly 2000 people stuck in these concentration camps now who are wondering what will happen to them while we barely care. From a purely economic point of view it would be cheaper if we let them in. Goodness knows, they might even become productive citizens and generate more employment. At the very least, we could demonstrate some empathy by processing them onshore rather than have some cash starved Pacific country do it for us. The United States once opened out its broad arms of welcome and said,‘give me your poor, your weak, your hungry . . .’ . Well, notwithstanding all their difficulties, they didn’t make too bad a fist of it over the last century. Imagine if the Aborigines had a policy in 1788 that said, ‘We will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances under which they come,’ what would Captain Arthur Phillip have done? But the government won’t do that because it believes, with good reason, that maintaining a hardline on the defenseless asylum seekers is a vote winner. It is politically beneficial to keep them locked up and locked out. Good politically but morally bankrupt.

This brings me back to Australian radio shock jocks. They are the front line of popular opinion for about 20% of the population. I’m wondering what motivates them when commenting on the issue of asylum seekers. The question I ask of those commentators who promote such pathetic objections as: we can’t afford it, they are queue jumpers, we have a proper system to handle refugees, it only encourages the people smugglers and anyway, they are wealthy people paying thousands of dollars to get here, is this: What is it that you fear? Are your efforts in trying to scare the life out of simple minded and poorly engaged Australians an accurate reflection of what you really believe or is there some deep seated more sinister reason that might better be described as bigotry, prejudice, racism or narrow-mindedness that lurks in the back closet of your mind? Or is it just ratings?

To those who harbour anxiety and fear and are influenced by these and the other two wise men of the weak and easily led, I recommend that they visit that dark corner of their psyche, confront their perceived fear and analyze whether they are applying the same consideration to the plight of a few hundred people on a leaking boat, to how they care for the needs of their own family. If they try that little exercise, they might find their fears evaporate into the nothingness. That’s right. ‘There is nothing to fear except fear itself,’ to quote Franklin D. Roosevelt. Mind you, he was the man who authorized the construction of the first Atomic bomb, so I guess he was afraid of something. But notwithstanding that error of judgement, he was right.

It’s no surprise that Tony Abbott’s obsession with stopping the boats and Scott Morrison’s action in developing new and ever more heartless methods to dissuade others from coming here is political. They have one eye on public perception and the other on history. It worked for John Howard who was facing defeat in the 2001 election. I suspect Tony and Scott both believe those observations haven’t changed. They regularly voice their concern for the safety of these poor individuals in leaking boats on the high seas but that doesn’t stack up against the callous way they treat them when they arrive. It might be a reaction to what they think Australians want, but that is weak, populist leadership. What the people want isn’t always what’s good for them. Nor is it morally right.

Each December, Christians all over the country pause from their frantic lifestyle of enrichment to acknowledge the birth of a religious cause that supposedly champions the weak, the poor and the downtrodden. In reality, it doesn’t do anything of the sort; it just pretends to do so while its leaders live in luxury and guard their wealth tenaciously. That so many politicians today publicly support the continued persecution of asylum seekers makes a mockery of their claimed allegiance to the Christian faith. That includes Tony Abbott, Scott Morrison, Joe Hockey, Christopher Pyne, Kevin Andrews and most others. It makes me glad I’m not a Christian. It makes me realise, that for all my faults, I’m better than that.

John Kelly

John Kelly is 68, retired and lives in Melbourne. He holds a Bachelor of Communications degree majoring in Journalism and Media Relations. He is the author of four novels and one autobiography. He writes regularly on his own blog site, covering a variety of social, religious and political issues.

John Kelly

10
Jan

The Gold Rush of Social Media: 8 Realities for Business

Some vital information here….

The Australian Independent Media Network

In 2014 The AIMN will be broadening the range of articles we bring to you. We have become very popular for our discussions on politics, media and climate change, as well as the short stories and book reviews we offer. In 2014 we will be introducing Camille McClane as a guest author who will be writing about Internet business opportunities, which I for one, and many of our authors and readers have a deep interest in. Here is Camille’s first article, The Gold Rush of Social Media: 8 Realities for Business. For those of you who have your own business or website, I hope you gain as much from this article as I have.

Websites can only be as good as the marketing content introduced. However, the recent developments in the parameters for search engines have required that websites provide higher-end content in order to be accessed easier online. The…

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1
Jan

Timing is Everything

Deficit

Previously published by The Australian Independent Media Network on 18th December 2013

at: http://theaimn.com

Many years ago, in the 1950s a reporter once asked the then British Prime Minister, Harold MacMillan what he most feared politically. MacMillan replied, “Events, dear boy. Events.” The same answer applies for what determines a government’s standing with the electorate. To both questions, however, I would add, “Timing.”

For a government that campaigned relentlessly on debt and deficit, the Coalition could not have picked a worse time to beat their drum. After just three months, the electorate is beginning to see through their shallow thinking, their thinly veiled deception and their all-at-sea management style.

Should we be surprised, therefore, that Abbott’s popularity is on the slide?

No, it was always going to be thus. Even his own people were split on his electability. The bottom line was always that the electorate never wanted him. But, such was the Liberal Party power brokers’ disdain for Malcolm Turnbull that Abbott was, by default, the only alternative to ousting Labor. Initially, it wasn’t much of a choice but then events changed things. Abbott’s god heard his prayers; Labor handed him so many free kicks and own goals that he seemed to blossom. Labor so self-destructed that even Christopher Pyne would have won had he been given the default job.

But, and here’s the thing, Labor wasn’t ousted for bad governance of the country, just bad governance of itself. So, once they were gone, public scrutiny of a more intense kind immediately focused on Abbott and, as was to be expected, he failed the test; he is not measuring up. His clumsy management style has been exposed. He is devoid of charisma, flair or natural appeal. He is embarrassing the nation with his stilted speech, his inept door-stop comments and general awkwardness. Worse, he has Malcolm Turnbull waiting left of centre. Worse still, a perfect storm of economic data is gathering offshore which will hit landfall over the next 18 months and spread across vast areas of the economy like a trough, like a depression. It is happening already and it is making a second term for the Coalition look increasingly shaky.

joe-hockeyWhich brings us to the Treasurer, Joe Hockey. Joe is on a hiding to nothing. No matter what he does over the next three years, the economy is going to be in worse shape in 2016 than it is now. By his own admission, rising unemployment, ongoing deficits that may continue until 2024, slow growth, possibly no growth, revenue write downs and a reduced output in the resources sector with no offsetting uptake in the non- resources sector, means his brow will be doing it tough for some time to come.  All this was evident in his Mid Year Economic Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) speech delivered to the National Press Club on Tuesday 17th December. It won’t be all Joe’s fault, although he has already made a sizeable contribution with his 9 billion dollar grant to the Reserve Bank. But when the Press Club questions came thick and fast from journalists who knew their stuff, he wasn’t able to dodge much. He knew that to gloss over the real position would back him into a corner and as much as he tried to blame Labor, he knew that wouldn’t wash; not with the Press Club. What made it worse for Joe, as journalist after journalist tried to focus on the future not the past, neither he nor stablemate Mathais Cormann were up to showing any economic vision beyond the mantra, “We’re going to fix it.” 

So what advice could I give Joe right now?

“Time to stop the belly-aching and do something, Joe. You know the state of our finances. The forward estimates, in case you didn’t know, are just that. They reflect the direction we are heading if we allow the present budget estimates to go the course. But you are the Treasurer, Joe. You can change that. Goodness knows you made such a belly-ache about it before the election. So, do something! If you’re not happy about it, change it. Stop being such a wuss and take some action. You said you would get rid of the waste…okay, do it. For goodness sake, either shit, or get off the pot! But, for Christ’s sake, stop blaming Labor.”

But even a pep-talk of this nature won’t change anything. Joe is screwed on every level.

Mark Riley from Channel 7 reminded Joe of Tony Abbott’s previous references to the Rudd Government spending like drunken sailors and suggested if that were the case then the Howard government must have spent like paralytic pirates. Joe deferred to Finance Minister Mathias Cormann who gave a brief resume about the virtues of the Howard years, unaware that, in doing so, he was reminding the guests and the viewers of the vote buying, bucket load of money Peter Costello had to splash around and how well he wasted it. The main body of the MYEFO will be scrutinised thoroughly over the next few weeks and much of the devil in the detail will be sifted out for further questioning later. But the overall outlook is grim. Hockey defended forgoing 7.3 billion in revenue from the Carbon Tax stating that its abolition will increase economic growth. They wish! The prospect of continuing our 22 years of uninterrupted growth are looking decidedly shaky.

But, back to Tony. The buck will stop with him. In 2016 he will likely have to account for 6.5-7% unemployment, a lack-lustre private sector, a serious Terms of Trade deficit, a national debt of around $600 billion, no surplus in sight and a less than encouraging world economic outlook. The numbers will bury him. And in addition to all of this, we still don’t know what we don’t know. Both Hockey and Cormann made repeated references to the Contingency Reserve, a provision for expenditure not yet fully costed. How then could they budget for it? It doesn’t matter. Future events and their timing will take care of that. The only bright light: interest rates will still be low…but that IS something we can blame Labor for.

As much as all politicians will tell us that being in opposition sucks, some on the government side would be thinking that it would have been better for the Coalition to have lost the election in 2013 and watch Labor manage the economy to a point where a far more devastating electoral wipe-out would result in 2016 than occurred in 2013. But, that’s the thing about politics. It’s all about events and timing.

 John Kelly

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