Remember February 28 – Rare Disease Day

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You may have seen a post from me a little while back mentioning Rare Disease Day. It is a day where rare disorders are highlighted and awareness raised.

This is so much more important to highlight than the tawdry rough and tumble of politics in Australia and elsewhere.

It is critical that we learn to appreciate each other better and also ensure that we do not find ourselves in a situation where we engage in unjustified and unfair prejudice even if considered in jest.

I will be publishing a special blog article on February 28 and hope you are able to share it on that day.

Joyce to Barnett reimagined

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My dear long time political friend

Seduced by a flame of red

Do you not know that our reign

Could now be left for dead?

Tom Ravlic c. 13 February 2017

Footnote: The  Liberal Party has chosen to preference One Nation in Western Australia over its traditional coalition partner – the National Party. – for the upcoming Western Australian state election  The Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce was reported in the media as urging a rethink because it might result – at least in his view – to the coalition finding itself on the opposition benches. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Senator Arthur Sinodinos have said it is a State divisional matter.

The Great Twitter Block of 2017

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The Member for Dawson has blocked me from seeing his Twitter.

I can’t see what the Member for Dawson thinks.

The Member for Dawson has blocked me from reading his Twitter.

I’m not sure that not seeing his Twitter actually stinks.

 

I did not know I was blocked from seeing his Twitter.

The Member for Dawson did not say goodbye.

I guess that’s okay because I connected

And neither of us bothered to really say ‘Hi”!

 

My sin was to make a crack about wearing a red cap

Inside a studio during a Sky interview.

The Member for Dawson then blocked me from seeing his Twitter

The sun’s kept on rising and the moon has risen, too.

 

I guess I will find out things from other sources.

That’s fine because that world leaks like a sieve.

The Member for Dawson blocked me from seeing his Twitter.

Don’t care. I’ve moved on. I will live.

Tom Ravlic c. February 2017

 

One Nation must provide evidence that Treasury is ‘ridiculous and wrong’

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One of the constant intentional themes in this blog is the need to people to maintain a high level of critical thought, analytical thought. It is important that people question everything they hear from people in politics.

This is particularly so when a political party starts to look as if it is a serious contender for seats across the country.

One Nation is an example of such a political party and polling results in the lead up to the West Australian election ought to cause people to visit and closely scrutinise the One Nation web site.

A recent Newspoll survey had the One Nation primary vote increasing from 3% to 13% in Western Australia. The Australian Labor Party leads in the two party preferred stakes. Newspoll reports that Labor’s lead has gone from 52-48 to 54-46.

Commentators are suggesting that One Nation may end up with the balance of power in the Western Australian upper house if polling continues to reflect an increase in support for One Nation.

The current climate of scepticism and disappointment in the older political parties has driven people to explore the other options. Further evidence of this is provided by the resignation of Cory Bernardi from the Liberal Party and his move to the cross bench.

This increasing popularity places a demand on journalists and others to look more closely at the policies that guide the smaller parties.

I use One Nation as an illustration in this instance but similar issues will exist with other political parties, large or small  I draw your attention to the economics and tax section of the One Nation web site where the party says:

We will bring back trust using proven systems for making informed national economic decisions and budgets based on accurate data so people, families and employers have certainty and confidence.

It then follows with five action points:

Work to improve Treasury’s accountability for its decade of ridiculous and wrong assumptions and forecasts pressured by politicians buying votes and afraid of facing serious economic issues threatening the people of Australia.

Investigate relentlessly and use accurate economic data to identify core issues and make solid stable policy to give families and small and large businesses certainty and confidence in making personal and business investments.

Vote only for policies supported by solid, empirical data and thorough analysis of costs and benefits.

Ensure Treasury is independent from politicians’ personal and party agenda to stop the current frequent shifting of economic goal posts as a result of ‘promises’ buying headlines and votes. We will use the information to reduce spending on Liberal-Labor-Nationals-Greens pork-barreling, gesture politics and favours for vested interests.

Bring back policies strengthening families as the key to developing people’s responsibility and the key to effective welfare. We will stop the United Nations’s ideologically driven destruction of families aimed at creating dependency on government and at destroying Australia’s sovereignty.

Let’s take the first of these as an entry point into this discussion. In order for any platform to be considered seriously by the electorate a party must provide empirical evidence of the assertions its puts forward.

Let’s look at that first bullet point again in isolation of the other five so that we are all clear about the issue being discussed:

Work to improve Treasury’s accountability for its decade of ridiculous and wrong assumptions and forecasts pressured by politicians buying votes and afraid of facing serious economic issues threatening the people of Australia.

This is just a bullet point on a policy page without any research or similar evidence to demonstrate why this policy position has any validity. It is loaded with accusations about Treasury failing to be independent and there is nothing at all that gives a reader comfort that the party has done its homework.

Federal Treasury appears before Senate estimates on a regular basis to be accountable to parliament for the work it does. That is a normal part of the process. What other accountability measures would One Nation propose?

Words such as ‘ridiculous and wrong’ mean nothing when there is an absence of material to state why something is ‘ridiculous and wrong’. What is the benchmark? What are we judging this against? Or is this just a one liner that is consistent with the general theme that institutions have failed to meet the expectations of voters outside of the Canberra bubble?

I for one cannot take One Nation’ assertions about Treasury seriously until I see the evidence on which they base their point of view – nothing is presented that can be said to justify the remarks made against Federal Treasury.

No voter should ever take a political party’s assertions in policy documents for granted. They must be questioned openly and tested by the electorate and by commentators on behalf of the electorate.

One Nation is no longer a small political concern. It is not the equivalent of the Mickey Mouse Club of Australian politics. There are policy positions on their web site that need further examination by the media and the community more generally.

None of us can afford to park our votes with a political party without a proper appreciation of what they stand for and what their criticisms of the existing system actually mean.

This is just a single, albeit small illustration of the need for greater transparency on the part of political parties seeking our collective trust and also the need for people to think more critically about the political environment.

I will write more on minor parties and independents over time so please keep an eye on the blog pages for further content on this topic,

Bernardi talking about principle is a ‘joke’ – Hinch

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Senator Cory Bernardi talking about principle when he walks away from the party that gave him the chance to get a six year Senate terms is a ‘joke’, Senator Derryn HInch told the Senate in the past week.

Senator Bernardi announced his resignation from the Liberal Party in the Senate chamber and Senator Hinch said he found it appalling.

“To hear him stand there talking about principle, after he stood as a Liberal candidate and was elected by the people of South Australia as a Liberal candidate, is a joke,” said Senator HInch.

“I feel sorry for the 330,000 people in South Australia who voted Liberal. They voted with him on the top of the Senate ticket. They voted for a Liberal senator for six years. Below the line, Senator Bernardi got something like 2,000 votes, and yet he stands up here and talks about principle.”

One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts said that Senator Bernardi’s call for people to reconnect with principle was important because people were tired of the ruling class.

 

Bernardi resignation – the Greens fire up

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The two major parties fired rhetoric across the chamber at each other after Senator Cory Bernardi announced to the Senate chamber he was walking away from a political party that was his ideological home for much of his adult life.

Senator Richard di Natale is the leader of the Greens party in Australia and he got fired up, very fired up during the discussion on the Bernardi resignation. The language is strong and robust in Senator di Natale’s contribution made on February 7 in the Senate chamber.

In Senator Bernardi we have six and-a-half foot of ego but not an inch of integrity. I would have respected that speech if he had given it a year ago—before he stood as a Liberal Party candidate and waited to get himself a six-year term in the Senate. What a hypocrite, coming in here and talking about ensuring he is here to represent the values of people who have conservative views when he has shown himself to be a person lacking in integrity and substance. What this reveals is that we have a divided government, where the right hand does not know what the far Right hand is doing anymore. This is a government now in turmoil—in absolute turmoil. We are seeing a sectarian split in the broad church that is the Liberal Party. We are seeing it come apart at the seams. There is a very clear message in this for Prime Minister Turnbull: you don’t negotiate with extremists. You do not negotiate with extremists, because it does not matter how much you give them they always want more. It is never enough. Look at the capitulation that we have seen from this Prime Minister on issues that he believed were issues of substance. Remember this was the Prime Minister who said that he would never lead a party that was not as committed to climate change as he is, but several days ago he was spruiking clean coal—straight out of the Senator Bernardi manual of conservative politics. He was out there spruiking for something that does not exist. We have entered fairy land here. On marriage equality, we have a man who has marched at a Mardi Gras now capitulating to the far Right in his own party. Perhaps he was convinced by Senator Bernardi’s persuasive arguments around bestiality and the consequences that might flow if we allow people to marry each other, regardless of gender and sexuality. They are disgraceful contributions from a man who has not got the courage to put his views to the Australian electorate.

On the republic, Malcolm Turnbull—the man who led the charge for Australia to become a republic—is now saying we cannot do anything until the passing of the Queen. Surely the point of a republic is that we do not have to take orders from the Queen, because we would be independent of the British monarchy. This is a man who has sold out on the most fundamental principles, who has so utterly capitulated to the likes of Senator Bernardi, Mr Christensen and so many others in his party room. I heard this morning one of the Labor Party members refer to the Prime Minister as being paraded around like a prize bull at the Easter show, being paraded through the ring and being led by the nose by those on the far right. This is a prize bull who has now been knackered.

This is a prize bull who now stands for nothing, incapable of doing anything. This is a man who is so hollow. This is a man who is so lacking in integrity and substance that perhaps he should join Senator Bernardi and they can form their own party: the Hollowmen. When it comes to taking a stand on the issues that matter—on climate change, on whether this country should end discrimination in marriage, on becoming a republic or indeed on taking on the dangerous lunatic that is now the President of the United States of America—what we see instead from this Prime Minister is appeasement. It is time for this Prime Minister to decide what he stands for and to ensure that the Australian community is given the opportunity to vote for somebody who at the very least will take a position based on principle, rather than for a Prime Minister who has sold out on his core beliefs and has capitulated to the likes of Senator Bernardi.

I say to Senator Bernardi: what is the point? How much further can the coalition go? What do they need to do to satisfy you? Zero taxes, is that what you want? No public health care or education in this country, is that what you want? How much further can this government go in tearing up the social safety net, in shredding universal health care and education, before the likes of Senator Bernardi and Mr Christensen will be satisfied? The lesson here is very, very clear. Senator Bernardi is 6½ foot of ego and not an inch of integrity. If he had had the guts to do it a year ago he might have got some grudging respect, but to do it just after he has been given a six-year term shows the sort of person that he is. As for the Prime Minister, hopefully he will take stock now and recognise that in capitulating to the views of the far right he is not just selling out the Australian people but selling his soul, and the Australian people know a sellout when they see one.

Bernardi resignation – The Coalition

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Liberal Party Senator George Brandis expressed the Coalition’s disappointment on the fact that a Senator elected only seven months ago under the banner of the Coalition parties decides to resign from the Liberal Party and do his own thing politically. Senator Brandis’ remarks are replicated below from the February 7 Hansard:

The Liberal Party, the coalition, the government, are disappointed by the course that Senator Bernardi has taken this morning. We believe that he has done the wrong thing, because only seven months ago Senator Bernardi was elected by the people of South Australia to serve in the Senate as a Liberal Senator. There are a variety of views in the Liberal Party, as there are a variety of views in the Labor Party. But, only seven months ago, Senator Bernardi was happy to stand before the people of South Australia and to say that he sought their endorsement to serve for a six-year term as a Liberal senator. Now, Senator Bernardi has been a participant in debates in the Liberal Party, as have I, and, in the seven months since the federal election, nothing has changed. There is no policy for which the Liberal Party and the government stand today which is not the same as the platform on which Senator Bernardi sought election by the people of South Australia only seven months ago.

In view of that, we find it perplexing that, when there is no difference between the policy and platform on which he sought re-election, and the policy and platform of the government today, he would feel the need to take this course. There was no need for him to take this course, because as former Prime Minister Mr Howard famously said, the Liberal Party is ‘a broad church’. It can accommodate people like Senator Bernardi and it can accommodate people of more moderate views than Senator Bernardi, and it is genius. The reason why it has been the government of Australia for longer than any other political party is that people within the Liberal Party have understood that. Senator Bernardi, a former state president and a former federal vice-president, should understand it as well.

We in the government will deal with Senator Bernardi as we deal with all members of the crossbench—in a professionally courteous and respectful way. We will treat him as a colleague, and for many members of the government he will continue to be a personal friend. But we do not condone what he has done. Might I say, that if one seeks to restore confidence in the political class, it is a poor way to begin by breaking the promise one makes to one’s electors to serve for the political party on whose platform and on whose ticket one stood. What Senator Bernardi has done today is not a conservative thing to do, because breaking faith with the electorate, breaking faith with the people who voted for you, breaking faith with the people who have supported you through thick and thin for years and indeed decades is not a conservative thing to do. Nevertheless, as I said, we will continue to treat Senator Bernardi courteously and professionally as a colleague. There is one respect in which, of course, Senator Bernardi stands in a different position from the other members of the Senate crossbench.

 Unlike the other members of the Senate crossbench, Senator Bernardi was elected to support the policies of this government and, whether within the Liberal Party or now as a member of the crossbench, what we will be seeking of Senator Bernardi is to do no more than to support the policies and measures on which he stood when he sought re-election by the people of South Australia in July of last year. Senator Wong predictably seeks to make political points; she is entitled to do that. I am not going to engage in a slanging match with Senator Wong, other than to remind her that it is not unknown on either side of politics for people to become unhappy and unsettled in the political party in which they were elected to represent and to leave. We saw that in the parliament before last with Mr Peter Slipper in the other place. We saw it in this Senate some 20 years ago in the case of former Senator Mal Colston; but, unlike the Labor Party on the occasion of the Mal Colston defection, we will not be abusing Senator Bernardi.

We express disappointment but we will not be abusing him in the way, for example, we saw former Senator Robert Ray conduct the most vindictive personal campaign against Senator Mal Colston that any of us can remember. We will not be doing that. We will be treating Senator Bernardi as a professional colleague, with appropriate professional courtesy. Senator Wong, you observed cheaply, if I may say so, that there is division on my side of politics. The departure of one person from a party room of more than 100 hardly constitutes division, particularly when I look across this chamber and I see not one party of the Left, but two. I see the 26 Labor Party senators but I also see their mortal rivals and enemies, the nine Greens senators. Do you know, Mr President, that if you examine the statistics from the last federal election they reveal something very instructive. Do you know that, if you were a young Australian, a person under the age of 30, whose political sympathies lay with the Left, you were as likely to vote for the Greens party as you were to vote for the Australian Labor Party. So, please, Senator Wong, we will not be having any lectures from you about division in politics when your entire electoral base is being gradually, indeed, not so gradually but fairly rapidly eroded by your rivals on the Left of politics—the Australian Greens. Nor will we be hearing sententious lectures from you, Senator Wong—the person who sits in the same party room that former Senator Mal Colston once sat.

So, Mr President, this is a sad day for the Liberal Party. It is a sad day when somebody leaves the family. Senator Bernardi will have to account to the Australian people and to his own conscience about how he can continue to sit in this parliament, having been elected as a Liberal—but that is a matter for him. We in the government will proceed with the important business of making Australia secure and prosperous. We have a very busy agenda in 2017, and we look forward to working with every senator for the best interests of our country.