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Thursday, September 30, 2004

Election night piss up?

Am I being a sad bastard or is there a pub in Sydney where a load o' election tragics can go to enjoy the night? Just thought I'd ask. Nothing more to say today as it took me so long to find matching pics of Downer and Queen Latifah.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Mad as hell

I shouldn't read fridaysixpm because now and then Beth points out an article that makes my bloody blood boil. This time its JANET ALBRECHTSEN with a shite article about feminism. Lets get this straight, women have far less choice than men in the workplace, they are discriminated against, and are at the arse end of the labour market. Compare the hysteria over the "masculinity crisis" caused by too many women teachers, with the absolute lack of any coverage over the fact that less than 2% of company directors in Australia are female, to get an idea of how absolutely dominant male thinking is in this country.

Olympics v Paralympics

I have compiled a score table based on all countries that won more than 10 Olympic medals. The score is the number of paralympic medals divided by olympic medals for each country. I guess the idea is to show the most equitable countries regarding disabilities. Of course this is hugely flawed but it makes interesting reading.

Rank Country Score
1 Canada 6.00
2 Poland 5.40
3 Spain 3.74
4 Brazil 3.30
5 Great Britain 3.24
6 Ukraine 2.39
7 France 2.24
8 China 2.24
9 Australia 2.04
10 Belarus 1.93
11 Germany 1.65
12 Japan 1.41
13 Netherlands 1.27
14 Greece 1.25
15 Hungary 1.00
16 United States 0.85
17 Italy 0.58
18 Russia 0.45
19 Cuba 0.41
20 Turkey 0.20

Dealing With the Devil

Thanks to Brian at unbelief.org who pointed out some details of the deal the FFP have done with Howard to give the coalition (apart from the odd poofter lover) its preferences. The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) September Newsletter has an election special, which contains the following:
...should realise that this new party has obtained very significant commitments from the Coalition in exchange for its preferences, because it made them earn them. Perhaps central to this is the requirement for all legislation to have a Family Impact Statement. This will ensure that our laws are family friendly and we might assume therefore, largely Christian, although of course there is no guarantee of that in every case.
Family impact statement on all legislation? I can see a few "No Impact" rubber stamps being bought in Canberra. This deal has given Howard an excuse to be even more intolerant and extreme in his next term. Also there is a nice "how to vote" summary:
In all other states we believe that Christians are safe voting for either Family First or CDP, as their theology and/or personal preference for how they should engage the political domain dictate. Even where Family First has preferenced Democrats in Qld, they are very unlikely to have to pass on the preferences, as they should out poll them. If in the lower house your preference is to vote for a major party, we strongly recommend that you still record a “1” for either CDP or Family First to indicate the strength of the Christian / Family Values vote. You can then apply the rest of your preferences personally, dependent of the values of the parties or candidates as you see it.
If you need any more proof that this party is sinister, read Piers Akerman.

Latham plays it safe kicks arse

I know this guy is capable of much more than this, but I suppose you have to get into office first. So the ho-hum big ALP policies are:
Give old people money.
In fact I can't be arsed spending my time going through the policies in detail. It's all bungs for pensioners and they are pretty piss poor. No social program, no vision.

Update: I am now watching his speech and I stand corrected. I fell foul of reading the spending headlines and relying on the media, but the substance of his speech is cracking stuff. At last he is starting to show the Mark Latham that I know from personal experience. A clear ideological difference. Howard is gone. ALP by 18 seats.

Cracking policies include (but not limited to)
  • Abolishing full fee paying uni places
  • Reversing the HECS increases
  • Ratifying Kyoto
  • Extra 1.8 billion for public schools
  • Restoring funding to the ABC

Tuesday, September 28, 2004


I'm a bit tired, and bored of the FFP. But Robert Corr of Kick and Scream brought this article to my attention, so I'll do a post and incur the wrath of yet more bloody loonies. The main points to note are that despite the so called "morals" of this party, they are giving preferences to Ross Cameron in Parramatta. This moral campaigner had an affair while his wife was preganant for fuck sake. How much more of a shitty thing can you do? His kind of behaviour is what brought about the downfall of the Major Government in the UK in 1997. They had a big "Back to Basics" campaign about how you should live your lives, meanwhile they were off knobbing left right and centre. But somehow Cameron's totally base behaviour ranks above people who support gay marriage. Shagging a bit of fluff while your wife is pregnant with your child while crapping on about family values is just a whole different moral ball game to me. Also there are a couple of barnpots in the FFP (read the article) that reckon the world was made in six days because "thats what the bible says". The bible also says, "For the wife does not rule over her own body, but the husband does...". So maybe you didn't sin after all Mr Cameron.

How scary is the ALP IR Policy?

Now that the liberals have kind of relinquished ground that big budget spending puts upward pressure on interest rates, the constant line is "Labor's industrial relations policy will lead to inflationary wage increases and put upward pressure on interest rates. It will put back IR by 20 years". But what are the main points of the ALP IR policy and why are they so scary? Before we look at this policy, what is the ideal for right wing thinkers? What they want is a revolving door of flexibility for businesses to hire and fire at will. No rights, no collective bargaining, a drop in working conditions. Now according to my airy fairy MBA studies, crappy working conditions leads to crappy productivity. I fail to understand why unions are so maligned. If there were no unions, you would not have some of the "cushy" conditions you have, such as four weeks holiday a year or minors not being miners. My opinion on unions is, there are bent politicians screwing the country, bent employers screwing the workers, you may as well have bent union leaders screwing back a bit. People only remember the outstanding work unions have done when times are hard. For a lot of workers, without unions they cannot deal with employers on an equitable basis. Cast your mind back (and can someone send me a link for this) and remember when Tony Abbott was responsible for Employment. He said the government would get involved, on the side of business, in court cases that involve disputes. So not only would the workers be fighting against a business, but against 2 branches of the bloody government. Cast your mind back further and remember the Accords of the Hawke and Keating governments. The basis of these were, hold back on the wage claims, we as a government will endeavor to return money to you through tax cuts. That was innovative thinking by the ALP. I still remember day one of the Howard government when he said, "The accord is dead". And so began the long screwing of "lower" Australia reaching a disgraceful peak with the waterfront dispute. Anyway in contrast to that, here are the main points of the ALP IR policy:
"The Howard Government has turned a blind eye to the illegal underpayment of wages. Last year, about 5,000 employees complained to the Howard Government about illegal underpayments - yet the Government prosecuted only 7 cases. A Latham Labor Government will boost funding to programs that stop illegal wage underpayments with an additional $10 million a years."
This policy just enforces the law, surely nothing wrong with that.
Giving long-term, regular casuals a better chance of converting to permanent work. Guarantee the protection of 100% of the entitlements of employees where an employer goes broke, while protecting small business from any additional costs.
It is a disgrace that businesses can employ people on a casual basis for over 12 months. It is nothing more than a loophole that needs to be closed. The fund to pay out employee entitlements, paid by big business is a good balance to the fact that on bankruptcy the priority for repayment goes to secured creditors, not employees.
Supporting parents returning from parental leave who want to return to work on a part-time basis. Making sure awards and workplace agreements contain family-friendly provisions.
A bit vague, but I am guessing that this is just saying that workplace agreements can now include extra provisions that are not related to wage increases. Happy workers, more productivity.
Abolishing secret individual Australian Workplace Agreements. Existing AWAs will continue until they expire. Helping parties to avoid and resolve disputes, and allowing the Industrial Relations Commission to fix deadlocked disputes. Making sure that employers and unions negotiate in good faith.
Again, this is only addressing the inequities that Howard has brought in. So why do people get scared about measures like this? Is it simply because people take more heed of employer groups, than employee groups in the media? The standard employer group response is "this will cost jobs". Whenever I hear that on the news, I know that it's a bloody good policy and jobs are not at risk at all. Four weeks paid holiday a year? That will cost jobs you know. Does it bollocks.

Update: Bugger it, it took me ages to write this and I see that Mark Bahnisch has said it a whole lot better on Troppo Armadillo. Well I did try.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Lateline Riot - or gentle snooze

Tonights headline bout was Beaker v Dr Bunsen.  Bunsen won on points.  The outright losers were the unfunded $90 billion public sector superannuation debt (I wish I could run a balance sheet while ignoring a whopping liability) and the foreign debt which Howard promised to reduce, not service better.

Phew, I thought it was true

Just as Shane Warne's mum came to his rescue, John Howard's wife has come to his. So JH isn't a liar after all. Coming next...Mark Lathams son says, "my dad is tops, vote for him". Sleep well Australia.

Tightarse Liberals Spend $6 billion

So what about all the budget surplus retiring debt shite that this lot usually come out with? Who gives a rats arse when an election is at stake. The Insiders on Sunday had quite an intelligent debate about budget deficit, thanks in part to Piers Ackerman not being present. However an important point was missed. There is not a single major company that does not use debt to invest in future gains. By having no debt, all future works are financed directly from taxes. By suitably leveraging debt productivity increases and a larger debt can be more easily serviced while lowering tax burdens. To give the Liberals credit, it is not exactly known over what time period the $6 billion is to be spent so perhaps it is too early to come out with the worst tag line in political history (apart from 'Hoax the folks') - spending like drunken sailors. The liberals have played a canny game. They have forced Labor to cost everything, and then spent "like buggery" themselves. The biggest hot button spend is the 30% tax deduction for child care. This is such an important step in the right direction for equality that the tick could yet go into Howards box on October 9th. To complete this policy someone needs to address the supply side of child care (I have just heard the ALP have released a policy to do just this) as the rebate could just cause a quick rise in childcare fees and so we will be back to square one. So far on the femonazi front we have:

+ Childcare 30% tax rebate
- Family tax benefit part B
- They are very strong on women staying at home (RE: Howards speech at his campaign launch)

- Income splitting
+ Childcare places
1/2+ Some weird one day free for 3-4 year old policy (one from Crean perhaps)

So a marginal ALP lead at the moment, though by no means decisive. The coalition rebate is easy to understand, the ALP policy is all over the place. Did I say an ALP landslide earlier? I must have been taken out of context.

Vote for God - the saga continues

A very weak interview with Andrea Mason on "Meet the Hacks" on Sunday shed light on bugger all. How about this for a Sir Humphrey answer:
ROSS PEAKE: On a moral issue, a gay couple - is that a family?
ANDREA MASON: Well, Family First is extremely concerned and interested in discrimination, in terms of looking at all areas in the community where there is discrimination. We're of the view that more consideration and debate needs to happen in terms of broadening the areas of discrimination to include those in co-dependant relationships as well.
ROSS PEAKE: So, what's the answer? Is the answer "Yes"?
ANDREA MASON: And that would include people in those relationships. We are saying broaden it. Let's just not focus on one area. If we are going to look at changes to the law, let's look at ways of looking at all of those areas in the community where currently there is not recognition, and that would include people in co-dependant relationships.
What she is really skirting around is that Family First want to give precedence to married couples over de factos (same sex or not). See this document for details.

On the areas of funding and Christian roots she was equally vague. Unfortunately SA does not require donation disclosure so we cannot see who funded the party for the 2002 SA state election. However, let me put one and one together:

Conspiracy Theory 1
I had an interesting mail that pointed out that a Senator continued to fund the DLP just to bugger up the preferences for Labor. Now could it be possible that the following course of action has taken place by the Liberals (whose Greenway candidate is a member of happy clappy Hillsong - led by Brian "By my tape on how to pray - because you can't figure it out yourself" Houston).
To get control of the Senate we must:
   fund a party out of nowhere to stand candidates in marginal seats
   said party will use House of Reps preference deals to secure more "lucrative" deals in the Senate
   said house is full of parties clambering over themselves to do a deal with FF (except the Greens), but said party will not preference Labor
   Bingo, balance of power now held by like minded Christian Right party, not boozy Democrats or doped up to the gills Greens. To use an Andoism, the Liberals must be salivating at the prospect of a hung parliament and doing deals with the FFP.

Now this may seem far fetched, but over the course of the weekend, the news broke that the Liberals had cut a deal with FF , based on "some concessions". What exactly are these concessions? Don't people have a right to know exactly what they are voting for. Yet again, apparently not.

Campari Quaffing Kelly,

I am travelling for a couple of weeks, so these next few topics will probably have been done to death by other blogs, my apologies if I am duplicating.

Education Stuff Up!
A National Party backbencher (Kay Hull) stuck her head right into a bucket of poo by saying that rich people should pay for government education.
"Why shouldn't they pay fees at government schools? If government schools want to put fees into place, and then they want to resource facilities over and above public funding, then they should be allowed to do so."
She then changed her tune after a bollocking: "I've been totally misrepresented. I do not support fees for… parents paying fees for public school students." How is her original statement taken out of context? It seems pretty cut and dried to me. Perhaps she was talking about a parallel universe or something. Taken out of context usually means:
a) "I fucked up, and have had a right bollocking"
b) "I said what I really think, but now my thoughts have been corrected"
c) "Don't tell the punters the real game"

Then Campari Quaffing Kelly (DeAnne) topped it by suggesting a voucher system for parents to choose where their share of funding goes. Again, Kelly used the "I fucked up, and have had a right bollocking" "I've been taken out of context" line.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Rivkin Banged up

Rene Rivkin will serve the remainder of his sentence (15 days) in one block. He has been acting very strangely recently. I wonder if his stories of madness will somehow form his defence if any more tricky dealings come to light.


More Family First tidbits. From a comment on John Quiggin's blog comes this document which details the unsuprising "values" of Family First. Its the usual grab bag of anti freedom crap that these people adhere to.

And more on how to vote, this time from FF SA Sentate Candidate Andrea Masons (and Guy Sebastians) Church (The Paradise Community Church).

Greetings Paradise Prayer Partners,

blah blah blah....

4/ Pray for Family First Party in our National Elections
a) That F.F.P. would have great favour in the preference arrangements with both the Liberal and the Labor parties.
b) That God would give F.F.P. wisdom in how to handle their media releases.
c) That God would release finances for advertising on T.V. radio and written material.
d) Pray for Andrea Mason and all State candidates.
I am gobsmacked by this list of prayers. I think that this goes a lot way to show that power and money, rather than "salvation", are the real motives of these cult leaders.

IMF Housing Report - Oh Shit

The IMF released a housing boom report that more or less says the world is okay, there is no risk of a property collapse except for countries including Australia, Ireland, Spain and the UK. According to the paper the way out is for an "early but gradual" tightening of monetary policy, ie rates go up. Although there is no real conclusion as to why this situation has occured, there is some devil in the detail. The housing affordability ratio in Australia has climbed from 100 in 1985 to 186 in 2003 (this is based on house prices against average disposable income). At the same time, the ownership percentage has dropped slightly, and the house price to rent ratio has more than doubled. My own take is that negative gearing and to a lesser extent the first time buyers grant are the culprits. Remember that biased industry body the REIA? In July the AFR wrote an article on this topic, inc which the Productivity Commission said:
But the Productivity Commission and RBA, in its submission to the inquiry, said capital gains tax and negative gearing had contributed to the excessive investment in rental housing.
The treasurer rejected the inquiries finding to the acclaim of Ms Ballard from the REIA (remember they are just estate agents, they want the highest commission possible this month):
The Treasurer's rejection of an inquiry into tax breaks for property investments was applauded by Real Estate Institute of Australia president Kareena Ballard, who said the sector needed stability, not the uncertainty created by a review of the personal tax regime.
Rather than giving investors certainty, negative gearing has increased the long term volatility of the market. When interest rates rise, highly geared investors will be the first to suffer. What these investors failed to comprehend is a basic accounting fact: Getting tax deductions from negative gearing means you are making a loss. If house prices slow and interest rates rise a bit, then in the long run you will probably make a loss. By taking on negative gearing, you are involving yourself in a very high risk activity, your are hoping (if you've thought this far, which you probably haven't) that your capital growth and rent will exceed all other expenses. Negative gearing has allowed idiots who have read "Risk everything, but pay less tax!" to completely fuck up the housing market. Without negative gearing people have to think a bit more about how to make a return on investment from day one.

Roundup: Numbers, quitters and tools

John Anderson has said vote National or he'll quit. I couldn't think of a better incentive to vote independent. Maybe he is really saying, vote National or you'll end up with that Larry Anthony tit in charge. Completely Biased suggests the new verb "Ando" to mean dropping yourself in the poop. Meanwhile on the innovative policy front, Howard has announced a real boon for apprentices. SCTTW suggests that this policy proves that Howard is a tool. Kick and Scream has an excellent easy to read guide to the governments "Medicare super plus pro safety net 2" distribution (and also a funny on how not to keep a marginal seat). As I said earlier the safety net benefits the wealthy by a long chalk.

Costello is also attempting to go on the ramnpage about a $700 million black hole in the ALP tax policy. He keeps on saying they should get their policy costed by treasury. After all they only fucked up their budget prediction by $3 billion (or $13 billion over four years), plus a GST windfall that no one saw coming, so a tick from them would be really credible.

Howard has followed Labor's lead once more and announce that it will be making some sort of donation to asbestos victims from James Hardie's liberal party donations. He said magnanimously:

"It's an unusual situation to return political donations they're hard to get I've got to say but there is an issue of principle involved here."
What principle John? You've been wedgied pal! Once again you've been shown to be morally bankrupt. On the same subject Brown the Bong and Barltett the Bottle went head to head for a pub brawl last night on Lateline.

Just a quick not to the NSW Dept of Transport. Can you get rid of your shitty Murdoch news feed on buses please? A couple of last night's headlines:

Latham will "kill medicare"
Labor airport security lacking
And some good news, She Sells Sanctuary has the same prediction as me for the election, an ALP landslide, and there is help for people addicted to the election.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

The Thin Edge

The Poll Vault has highlighted a very sinister piece of legislation. It regards stripping away the right to vote from prisoners. The loony right wing have found an easy button to push here. Why the hell should a murderer or rapist be allowed to vote? What is at stake here is the principle that citizenship carries with it certain rights. No longer is it a universal right that every Australian can vote, some cannot. What is worse that the ban on voting will now be applied to prisoners serving more than 3 years instead of 5. Will there be a day when any prisoner is stripped of the vote? As soon as the right is not for all, an abitrary line is drawn based on the judgement of the government, in this instance the term of the sentence, not even the crime. In other words, the right to vote is subject to opinion rather than birth or the acceptance of Australian Citizenship. The drafters of the constitution did not have this in mind when they wrote:

"No adult person who has or acquires a right to vote at elections for the more numerous House of the Parliament of a State shall, while the right continues, be prevented by any law of the Commonwealth from voting at elections for either House of the Parliament of the Commonwealth."

Yet this is what has happened. Perhaps in the future we can look forward to all ex-prisoners being removed from the electoral roll for a couple of years and an unreliable, unappealable method of "cleansing" the register. That in combination with the growing influence of the Christian Right that love this sort of policy will truly make us the 51st State of America.

Another nail

Christ on a bike. Latham has just annouced an additional $1 billion funding for hospitals. This has come about from an agreement with the states and will be paid for by competition payments. This could be one more nail on the coffin of that arrogant little git. How is he going to react? Will the shoulder get some serious twitching action? In one wonderful segue, Latham has taken the blows he scored on the international front and smacked the coalition on the home front. Meanwhile John Anderson warns:

"I'm hoping for a very clean win but you've seen polls, it's going to be very tight, 3,500 votes in eight seats could throw us out,"

I couldn't have put it better myself. Magic

But he didn't come in on a boat?

The Mummy (Ruddock) has announced that the mastermind behind the Sept 11 attacks was given a tourist visa shortly before the attacks.  This is the same man who tried to imply that asylum seekers could pose a potential terrorist threat.  But would a terrorist seriously risk all by coming in on a leaky fishing boat?  No, they get visas and come in via an airport.  I am not trying to blame the intelligence agencies or Ruddocks department for this slip up, but this issue does highlight the governments immoral use of the media before the last election.  There is no story in a refugee arriving at Sydney Airport, as far more do than by boat.  Therefore you cannot bundle that sort of person up and tag them with the label "terrorist".   A small boat full of desparate dark skinned people, now that's a picture!  Add a generous helping of "security risk", "sacrificing children" and now we have our story.  Tell that to the electorate and scare the shit out of them. Tow a few boats back to show we are making Australia safer.  Reduce the migration zone to a white picket fence in Wollstonecraft.  There we are, even safer.  Vote for us, we keep you safe!  We Win!  Meanwhile one of the most wanted men in the world can stroll in through Kingsford-Smith and won't be stopped provided he doesn't buy too many duty free ciggies.

Labor Salivates at Prospect of Not Winning

John Anderson, the man with no beginning to his talent is at it again.  This time its:

""Mr Garrett's salivating at the thought perhaps that Mr Brown will join them in the senate,"

I'm sure that is all the talk in the ALP party room at the moment.  "Now Latham, don't try and govern in your own right, drop a bollock here or there and let the Greens get in".

After all it would be unAustralian for a big party to form a coalition with a tiny party just so that they could win government wouldn't it?  And even if that did happen, surely the smaller party wouldn't get a disproportionate amount of ministerial posts, let alone the plum Deputy Prime Minister gig.  But even then, surely the small party would stick to its principles and not sell out to the major party, and not lose a swag of seats to independants in the fall out?

Monday, September 20, 2004

Safety Net - if you can afford it

The Government's Medicare safety net is at last coming unstuck.  Isn't it completely obvious that having a safety net that requires people to be able to afford either $300 or $700 a year on healthcare is going to favour people with money?  So we now have the situation where the biggest claims are made by the richest areas of Australia, surprise, surprise.  If the policy was fair then surely the poorer electorates would be the winners, after all can anyone question the proposition that more income equals better health, therefore less need for medical assistance?  Not so, the safety net figures show that more income appears to mean worse health in Abbott's Oz.  Yet again it is a story of welfare for the rich at the expense of services for all from this despicable regime.

How to Vote - For God!

Pastor Brian Houston from the Assemblies of God church is one of the many crackpots trying to play down claims that the "Church" is trying to persuade members to vote Family First.

"But as far as I am aware there is no instruction on how Assemblies of God is to vote," Pastor Houston said.

Well one bit of Google later and we have this gentle nudge from the Queensland branch of AOG:

By now you would be aware that Pastor John Lewis will be standing for the Senate at the next Federal election. Furthermore, a number of good Christian people have nominated for Lower House seats. I spoke last week with Brigadier Jim Wallace (from the Australian Christian Lobby) concerning a number of issues and proposed laws currently being prepared for presentation in our Federal Parliament. As ministers of the Gospel, we must have a genuine sense of responsibility as we watch our social fabric deteriorate. We all need to handle political issues wisely, and though we have no right to tell our people how to vote, I urge you to:
1. Call your people to pray leading up to this next election.
2. Be aware of what each candidate stands for. Where necessary, meet with them prior to the election.
3. Encourage your people to vote for men and women who will stand for righteous values – not just play some party line.

So in essence:
1. By the way one of our Pastors is standing for the Senate as an FF candidate
2. We will not mention any other politcal party before we:
a) Point out that while we don't tell you how to vote
b) We will suggest you vote for someone you can meet (at a recital perhaps?)
c) Discourage you from voting for a major party, and tell you to vote for a Chistian.

mmm...I know, I'll vote Family First!

Downer Bribes Wrong Windsor

Carry on Beingatwat Alex. Also on his list: It Ain't 'alf Hot Mum's Windsor Davies, Queen Elizabeth Windsor and Windsor Castle.

Postings, Pre-emption and Redemption

A good little stoush occurred on AM this morning. It appears that as soon as Howard announced his pre-emptive strike policy (can you really see Australia invading Indonesia?) Daquiri Dickhead Downer told the Indonesian foreign minister that it was just for internal debate and not really a policy. Now that Howard has reaffirmed this ludicrous position will he be sending Prefect Downer with a carrier pigeon to Bam Bam with the message, "Only Joking!". How can this government seriously give countenance to pre-emption? Has the top notch intelligence that gave us the WMD info suddenly got a whole lot better? "I want to stress to the Australian people that my information at the time was correct, the street pedlar's stall had a sign on it that from a distance of 1500m with some "Eye-Spy" plastic binoculars looked like "Napalm". So we shot him. It now appears that subsequent advice shows that the sign in fact said "Nasi Goreng", but I can only follow the advice I am given. I am not responsible....I am not responsible....I a mm nnooootttt.....daisy, daisy" In other news independent Phil Black was offered a safe Nationals seat provided he did not stand against them for a seat in Queensland. On the same tack, Howard has denied knowledge of Tony Windsor being offered an overseas jolly. So we have two criminal offences being possibly committed. Somehow I think that these issues will blow over but the stink is overpowering. Todays poll of a 52.5% to 47.5% lead to the ALP back up my feeling that this election will not even be close. It will be a landslide to the ALP and we will see little Johnny Howard weep as he concedes on 9th October.

Elsewhere: A nice bit of expose on letters in the SMH by Robert Corr, Chris Sheil is as usual upbeat about the death of Howard, Tim Dunlop dissects the coalition pre emptive strike policy, Completely Biased covers all sorts of stuff, including my Chardonnay mate Piers "Most reasonable Australians think (insert bollocks here)" Ackerman. Also people are waking up the very scary Family First party. The Poll Vault asks "Who is Family First?". Answer: "White Married Mad as fuck brainwashed unthinking Christian Couples a la the Flanders with kids First (provided a suitable "offering" comes out of their wallet, or preferably by direct debit); single parents, non-believers, poofs (especially Beelzebub Brown), that agnostic bastard Latham, anyone who has had an abortion, people who have a beer on a Sunday, and everyone else who doesn't read Leviticus and think its supposed to be taken literally, Last".

Update: DineshMathew makes a bloody good point on the Family First party. Where is their funding coming from? If, as we suspect, the majority of the funding is coming from the fundamentalist christian movement, then is it appropriate for a church (and all its tax breaks) to fund a political party?

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Branch Stacking Ho-Hum

Here we go again, the old branch stacking chestnut.  Does anyone really care how a party chooses its candidates apart from the members themselves?  Compare this latest bunk on Latham.  He allegedly got someone to conjure up 49 new members for a branch so that a left winger wouldn't get the nod.  So what?  Is this any different to the "open" contest that went on in Wentworth between King and Turnbull?  All the libs will be rubbing their hands with glee but it makes no difference to the electorate whatsoever.

Wilson Tuckey Deadwood Award Nominee 2004 - Kay Patterson

She is a cracker this one, anyone who can make Wayne Swan look good must be a dill.  Now cast your mind back to last Friday's Lateline.  Swan said that 1.4 million Australians had incurred a debt through the crappy benefit system this government introduced.  Good old Maxine pressed Patterson for the "real" figure as she kept saying than Swan was lying.  the nearest we got to a figure was:

SENATOR KAY PATTERSON: "Maxine, what we have is a reduction in overpayments.
We have I think about now 297 families that still have outstanding debts for the last three financial years.
It is nothing like the figure Mr Swan has given, and this information from the department indicates as always that what Mr Swan says and between what he says and reality is a huge chasm, a huge gap.
He's been caught out lying to the Australian public."

So her best guess was 297 families.  Today she is claiming victory :

Labor's claim that 1.4 million Australians had a family tax benefit debt and 1.8 million families would not know they had a debt until after the October 9 election could not be substantiated, she said.

Departmental advice on Friday showed that an estimated 600,000 families, based on the previous year's trends, could be expected to incur a debt.

"I'm happy to fight on the issues but not when Australians are being misled," Senator Patterson said.

So Patterson is claiming the daggy laurel wreath on account of only 600,000 families being in debt.  She has completely ballsed up her position on 3 counts:

1) She has in fact proved that Wayne Swan was in the right ballpark (especially if he meant 1.4 million individuals rather than families - he does get a bit confused)
2) She has shown herself to be a bullshitter with her "297 families" claim.
3) She thinks that only 600,000 families being in debt is something to crow about

Now add to this the debate about the $600 Harvey Norman vouchers - is it real or unreal.  Labor claim that it is not real becuase it gets absorbed by the debt to Centrelink.  The Libs claim it is real.  What is the purpose of the "gift"?  Patterson said it all on Friday:

MAXINE MCKEW: Sorry Senator, you're not answering the question.
What are you doing in this portfolio to redesign the system so that people are not in this position of having to predict their future income over a year.
How many people can do that effectively?
SENATOR KAY PATTERSON: Well, what we've done is give people $600 per child.

So in effect if Labor remove the debt AND remove the $600 then people are no worse off.  As the Minister in charge of this stuff clearly said, the purpose of the money was to pay off the debt.
A frontrunner for the Wilson Tuckey Deadwood Award for 2004.

Warning - Fundamentalist Christians on the Rampage

Today Meg Lees announced she was disappointed that the Libs are directing their preferences to the innocuous sounding Family First party.  If you take a gander at the FF website or listened to AM this morning then you may be forgiven for hearing a cock crow three times.  Depsite the lack of religious references on their homepage, the backbone of this party are from the Christian Right.  Here are a few of the staffers and their roles in the community:

Peter Harris Party Chairman: Adelaide businessman and prominent member of the Paradise Community Church.

Chris Baker Treasurer:  Prolifer.  Read some thoughts on a fellow thinker here

Andrew Evans Board Member:  Not a great believer in the separation of church and state (parliamentary debate on licensing laws).  Former president of the Pentecostal Christian group Assemblies of God

Andrea Mason Board Member: Also a prominent member of the PCC.

Also read the Festival of Light's easy guide to the 2004 election to fill in the gaps. 

So what is the problem with this?  Even though these are people who have no distinction between church and state, they have joined the grasp for power by hiding their roots.  They are not your normal garden variety Christian (you know turn the other cheek, let he who is without sin cast the first stone sort etc).  Not only do they believe that they are right, but anyone who does not agree with them or their teachings, will burn in hell for eternity.  This is not a good start for open and intelligent debate.  Like all religions gone bad, they are totally blinkered to any point of view that disagrees with their own.  They want to make you live the way they think you should live.  There is no compromise.  Is it really any wonder that Howard has passed preferences to FF rather than his GST buddy Lees?


I just called FF with an offer to hand out their leaflets at my local Mosque (I'm really atheist).  They said they don't need help in that area and hung up.

The Smell of Victory

I have a feeling that there is an ALP landslide in the air.  At the moment the media cannot be a true barometer of how the electorate are thinking and this is actually skewing debate in the favour of the opposition.  The reason for this is the ongoing dispute regarding the ALPs private schools funding policy.  Remember only 67 schools at the top end of town will have their funding reduced.  The vast majority of the rest of private schools, and public schools will have an increase of funding.  So in cold terms you would think that this would cost the ALP a relatively small amount of votes and perhaps gain a few.  But if you read the newspapers, watch TV or listen to the radio, commentary is filled with hatred of this policy.  Obviously the rich have decided to make as much of an issue of this as possible.  However because this is "disguised" as a mass view the pollies are responding.  Brendan Nelson is finding himself in the position of sticking up for rifle range training academies (thereby agreeing with mass media and talkback), and Latham is not.  The Libs have long had a policy of dividing the population and picking the biggest slice.  This time the ALP have caused the split by taking a principled stand and the Libs are being fooled into picking the smaller slice.  So we have the perception that the public is against funding cuts for Hogwarts, but the reality may be somewhat different.  The difference will be whether the smaller independent, and state schools rally the parents as much as the Latham 67 schools have.  The electorate can from time to time deliver one heck of a surprise, and just maybe this could be it.  Labour by 17 seats.

If you are under any doubt as to whether the current funding arrangements are fair, look at this article.  Once you add the amount of tax deductable donations to the government funding figures, the result is that the tax payers are being obscenely shafted.

Gig Review: The Teddy Bears Picnic

This is the closest I get to a good mosh these days.   I have only a couple of points on this day of fundraising for the Westmead Childrens Hospital.  If you and your eastern suburbs drama school mates decide that children are a good market (I could almost see the dollar sign stamped on my daughter's head) then think again.  It is never a good idea when your audience have an average height of 3 foot to finish your set with "come on mums and dads, get up and dance at the front".  It may make you feel like you really are a star performer at the Big Day Out but it swamps out the kiddies.  The grown ups just stay at the front for the next few hours and so begins the bogan arms race of who can stand higher with a kid on their shoulders, and who can they barge out of the way.  So "Star Girls" next time you want an ego boost, think of how many kids you are pissing off because they can no longer see your fancy moves.  Or if they can see, they can't dance becuse they are being hoisted so high their noses bleed. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Topsy-turvy world

In England a group of pro fox hunting protesters invaded the House of Commons.  Previously 10,000 protesters clashed with police in a violent demonstration.  When I left the sunny shores of Blighty many moons ago it was the feral animal liberationists that were the radicals, now it seems that the chinless wonders have taken their cue and gone in for a bit of biffo.  Police would probably have a hard time identifying the perpetrators as their restricted gene pool makes them look kind of the same.  What were they taunting the police with, "I want to kill foxes with a load of dogs you bastards"?  Not that I'm a big fan of foxes, but a nice bit of lead between their eyes seems a bit more efficient than a once in a while 30 dog, 15 horse, 1 dead fox affair.  They say hunting helps the farmers, but the real reason they do it is for the sport, the thrill of the kill.  Why else would they import foxes to Tasmania?  To piss the farmers off, then help them? 

Of course, the bill will be halted again at that great democratic institution The House of Lords (we all know how that bunch of inbred fossils love farmers) before being rammed through the upper house regardless.  So think yourself lucky to live in a country with an elected Senate that can never be bypassed.  Otherwise media cross ownership laws would have been scrapped, various shaft the workers industrial reforms would have been enacted, and we would be well on the way to reducing the Australian migration zone to the wicket at the MCG.  And don't even think of using the "mandate" word.

Catching up

Crikey, you don't write a post for a couple of days and all hell breaks loose and you end up with a bit of catching up to do.  So here's the wrap:

Hanson Back

She probably won't get in but you never know.  Having this fruitcake look after the balance of power would bugger things right up, but the coalition would be jumping over themselves to do a deal with her.  Labor (and Peter Costello for that matter) have always been open in its dislike of Hanson, and they have announced that she will be placed last on their how to vote card.  The coalition (apart from Peter Costello) have always shirked this point.  Openly they do not slam her (because they like the votes of "people like that") but on the other they form secretive trusts to get her banged up.

Caretaker Conventions

As usual Howard has gone against parliamentary conventions for his own benefit.  This is a more serious issue than the media is making out.  It is nothing less than an abuse of power, and he has a track record for this kind of shenanigans.  For those of you not in the know, the idea is that because the government is not subject to the usual level of scrutiny they should consult the opposition on major decisions.  I would say the decision to send in the boys is as major as it gets.  Costello is not above chicanery himself, with the medicare policy somehow being costed by Treasury before the election was called, but no one was told until it was game on. From AM:

MARK COLVIN: You're essentially accusing him of conjuring figures out of nowhere, but then just in the last 24, 36 hours, we've found that there's $1.8 billion that nobody really seems to know about. Where did that come from?

PETER COSTELLO: Well that was costed by the Treasury, and that is in the figures that the Treasury will release, but look…

MARK COLVIN: I mean, you still have the huge advantage, don't you, of having Treasury on your side.

PETER COSTELLO: No, no, I'm sorry, no. The Government is in a caretaker period.

MARK COLVIN: So how did you manage to get it costed by the Treasury?

PETER COSTELLO: And this was a decision that was taken before the election was called.

MARK COLVIN: Why didn't we know about it before?

PETER COSTELLO: This was a decision which was taken before the election was called, and is in the budget bottom line, but …

And this is the guy that wants the ALP to get their tax policy costed by his stooges in Treasury.

So the standard line of the Howard government is, "we took the decision before the election was called".  Not good enough.

Labor Schools Policy

Bloody excellent.  About time a bit of equity came back into the system.  However I would like to see a lot more funding for the public schools.  Nelson says it is about choice and helping the battlers who have taken out a second mortgage to help their kiddies (we'd better hope that interest rates don't go up then).  I'd say it was about giving money to schools based on their needs.  Then there is always his spurious argument of "everytime someone gets sent to a private school the government saves money".  Then surely by cutting funding, the government saves even more! 

Iraq Invasion Illegal

Howard has responded to Kofi Annan's assertion that the invasion of Iraq was illegal with a load of guff.  The interesting thing to note is that once again he is using "advice" as his get out clause.  He said that he had legal advice that the war was not illegal.  Have we ever had the circumstance where Howard's advice has not been correct?  Does this guy ever take responsibility for his decisions?  The resolution to invade was not submitted to the UN Security Council because the French threatened to veto it on the grounds that UN weapons inspectors should be given more time.  It's not often I agree with the frogs, but they were spot in that time.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Google places for the rich and dumb

Well its only fair isn't it?  If bleeding foreigners can pay to go to uni why can't we?  Because my friends, we pay taxes, therefore our places are already paid for and should be awarded on merit.  If rich dumb people want to go to uni let them pay for a degree outside Australia, and not devalue our domestic education system.  I am expecting nothing less from the ALP's education policy than the abolition of full fee paying places for Australians.  Abolishing HECS would be a great next step.  Brendan Nelson of course disagrees.  He believes that there should be loans for people to pay for full fee places.  If you want to be a doctor, bear in mind that if and when you qualify (and you will if you're paying) you will have to charge people an awful lot of money to be able to pay your $120k plus loan back.  If you use a doctor, prepare for dumber practitioners, lower bulk billing rates and higher fees in the future.  Nelson summed it up as such:

"I've been thinking about it for some months now, Barrie. I've spoken to the vice-chancellors about it and they strongly believe that the level of the $50,000 loan for these extra full-fee-paying opportunities ought to be raised for that very small number of courses which have those sort of costs above $50,000. And what this basically means, Barrie, is that for the first time in Australia, whether you are rich or poor, if you work your tail off and you get a very high tertiary entrance score, you miss out on a HECS-funded place which you've got your heart set on doing - if you want to you'll have the choice of taking up the fee-paying opportunity and the Australian Government will lend you the money to do it on a HECS-style basis."

So please, if you miss out on the entrance score (by a whisker or you didn't turn up because you couldn't tell the little hand from the big hand) try again and if you miss out and you get your newly devalued dumbfuck donewiththeaidofgoogle medical degree because unis are too shit scared to fail full fee paying students, display a sign saying, "Dr Fuckwit, Bachelor of Medicine (Second Class)".  In fact that's not a bad idea, a two tier system!  People who get their degree through brains and hard work get a first class degree, rich dumb chinless wonders get a Second Class (sponsored by Sorbent) one.

Just Keep Keelty

An interview on AM did more to show that as far as national security in this region is concerned, the election is irrelevant.  Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty has yet again shown himself to be a man which Australia can trust.  There were no swathing attacks or point scoring, rather a considered approach from an expert in his field.  His operations with forces in the Asian region have been second to none, and he manages to acheive much whilst not using the crusading language of the politicians.  From them we have, "evil doeers", from Keelty we have:

"I mean, there are people who would adopt or adapt the philosophies of something like Jemaah Islamiah and you don't necessarily know about them. It's not as if you're a card carrying member of JI. It's more of a philosophy and an embracement of that philosophy."

Don't think that this means Keelty is soft on terrorists, rather that he understands probably more than anyone we can vote for the motivations and modus operandii of the people who perpetrate such atrocities. When questioned on the likelihood of another attack, Keelty quite calmly said:

"Well, unfortunately it is whilst ever Azahari and Noordin Bin Top are still at large."

No fuss, no votes, just a man doing his job.

All in the Stars

Hi statsfans, I'm the ABC's numbers man Anthony Green.  I can safely predict a Howard government will be returned on  October 9th.  Including Howard, there have been an astronomical 4 Leo prime ministers.  On Latham's side there have been only 2 Pisces leaders.  Therefore John Howard has double the chance of winning.  If you want to make 100% certain that your child will be the head honcho one day, then try to conceive at the end of the year as a fantastic 5 prime ministers have been Virgos.  Given that there have been only 25 leaders since federation, Virgos have had too much representation to be mere luck.  It can be proved statistically that the probability of this happening by luck is less than .005 which in the wacky world of statistics means its a fact.  Kim Beazley was a Sagittarius and that's why he lost.  Although there have been 4 Saggy PMs (the same as Leos), in the world of astrology, like top trumps, a draw is no good, you need to win.  It is worth noting that there have been no Aquarius, Taurus or Scorpio PMs and only one Gemini (Macolm Fraser who has done much since losing office to prove that Geminis are two faced schizos).  So if you feel like voting for Latham, stay at home, pay the fine, and save yourself the effort, as the heavens, and statistics, are overwhelmingly against him.  Now Stats Amazing!

Howard Twitches, Latham stares into space

It was a clear victory for Latham in the great debate last night.  Howard sounded like he'd been punched in the stomach, so short of breath and tremulous he was in his opening statement.  However, he did look at the camera and confront us face on.  Latham looked at Laurie Oakes the whole time and appeared more like that bloke on the Ultratune advert (the car dealers hate us) than PM material.  All in all is was a sound thrashing although Latham didn't go the biff as much as I would have liked.  Particularly when Howard was praising his team of Costello and DOWNER?  In his whole cabinet he singled out that drop kick?  I think the worm puked at that point.  Still the timing of this debate was good for the ALP, breaking the "respect" in the aftermath of the bombing, although the worm seemed to prefer Latham's speil on security than Howards anyway.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Polling - A load of Arse

The only valid question in a poll is, "If there is a general election today, who would you vote for?".  What is the point of these approval and trust ratings?  We always get these crappy "John Howards approval rating is at 65%" and then "But the Libs primary vote is at 39%" type bollocky stories.  Ooh, only 30% of people approve of Mark Latham, but 43% would vote ALP.  Don't the telesurveyors ever say, "Hang on a mo dickhead, you just said you think Howard is doing a better job than Latham but you'll vote ALP.  Are you pulling my twang?".  Numbers in the boxes mate, numbers in the boxes.  That's all that counts.

The Third Way - Remember that Latham?

There are many dichotomies in business language.  For example on one hand there are teachings of teamwork, mentoring and coaching.  On the other we see competitiveness, survival of the fittest and cutting the dead wood.  In general society we vote for governments who advocate democracy and freedom, yet on the whole these governments support the free market and large corporations where employees do not elect their boss.  There are many exercises in business training to show that teams function better than individuals and yet communities have broken down, people do not talk to their neighbours and many use the language of "bludgers" and "deadbeats".  The competitive pressures and consumerism in large cities have in many ways reduced people's quality of living.  Social capital, or trust, has broken down as we clamber over each other, rather than offering a helping hand.  Surely there is a middle ground, a third way, where business can work in conjunction with the government and communities to provide benefits for all instead of some.  Do you remember street parties?  Do you remember chatting over the garden fence?  Why not give it a try?  (cue background strains of the national anthem)  Let's get Australia working together.

Ch-Ching! Come on Down, The Price is Right!

Treasury has announced a $5.3bn budget surplus with forward estimates showing there is around $14bn extra lolly to come over the next few years.  Even being "financially responsible" this would allow a government with the balls to abolish HECS, make childcare tax deductable and sort out Medicare.  These three measures would reap Australia significant rewards over the next couple of decades.  Why?  Well in blunt terms it most efficient to get the best people to do the work around here.  At the moment women are at the arse end of the labour market so we are left with a pool of 47% of the working population.  Apart from the flowery fairness arguments, the bloody point from an economic point of view for why women should have equal standing in the workplace is that by oppresing them we lose out on 53% of potential brain power. Second, by ensuring  everyone has a chance to go to uni based on merit, or at least has the right to a  high quality of school education, rather than only the "rich and dumb" (to paraphrase Amanda Vanstone circa 1995) the nation becomes brighter.  When all is said and done, a country's only advantage is knowledge and at the moment we are restricting both academic and business knowledge to the well off and blokes.  To get the best healthcare for the population requires a single body to get the best from research and development.  Better universal healthcare, rather than splintered competitive healthcare means the nation is less sick, better able to work, more efficient.  Geddit?

Open invite to bloggers and pundits

Being a sucker for tipping competitions I'd like to have a go at an election tipping comp.  The rules are simple: email me at dailyflute at optusnet dot com dot au with your prediction.  You can change your pick at any time until Friday October 8th and I'll post up the weekly snapshots starting this afternoon.  My opening gambit is Labour by 9 seats.  That should beat the Virulent Memes record for crappy tipping (both AFL and elections).

In the Cold Political Light of Day

Now we have had a chance to take a breath after yesterday's events it is inevitable that the political fallout will be considered.  By its very nature, the bombing makes JH look like a leader, with ML the follower, there is no equal standing.  The reality is that the spin doctors and strategists on both sides will be considering their next move when this uneasy ceasefire ends.  The pressure will be on Latham, he is now on the back foot and cannot be seen to be critical of the governments terrorism policies for the time being.  There is still a long time before the election and the longer that Howard can maintain the compassionate yet strong leader front, the less room Latham will have to move.  They will both have arguments for their case, the libs with, "you can't rely on Labor in these difficult times", and the ALP with, "the government's policies have made Australia more of a target".  At what point will either one crack?  Already the bipartisan facade is appearing to crack (via Tim Dunlop) with Kevin Rudd having to make his own way to Jakarta, and this morning Howard announced that Downer will be meeting with Indonesian government officials with no mention of Rudd.  Whether Rudd attends or not is not the point, the fact is that in times like this Downer is the statesman, Howard is the Prime Minister, and there are no allusions to "alternatives" even though the government is in caretaker mode.  Howard has shown before that the conventions that he holds dear can be cast aside to make political gains.  Hopefully it will be back to gloves off on Sunday when the neutered version of the great debate will be shown on Channel 9 (still the one in John Howard's eyes).

By the way one easy way to incur the wrath of the right is to do a Troppo Armadillo.  I wonder if  Ken's critics were so strident when George Brandis accused Bob Brown of being a Nazi?  Surely a much more henious comparison, but then as with all right wingers they can put on the biggest face of absolute indignation when the mud they usually throw is for once returned.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Jakarta Bombing

Its a tragedy, that's a given.  How long will it be before Howard makes hay out of it?  Perhaps he will send one of his demidemons in such as Philip "The Mummy" Ruddock.  He probably won't go in as hard as Cheney's, "Vote for us or die", line - but the unsaid conclusion will be there.  As Rob Sich mentioned last night on The Panel, you approximate two sentences and let people draw the link.  For example "We are in a war against terror" and "We must protect our borders" is a ripper.  In that black art there is no better conjurer than Ruddock.

A couple of blogs share my pessimism including Completely Biased, Psephite

Before any clear details or evidence is clear, Downer says:

"Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has told reporters the blast was "clearly a terrorist attack". He added: "It was outside the Australian embassy, you would have to conclude that it was directed towards Australia."

Downer says he suspects Jemaah Islamiah was responsible for the blast. (via The Poll Vault)

And so Tampa II has begun.

Magic - Cash for thin hair (get me a subbies job with crap titles like that)

What the hell is going on in this campaign?  Wake up journos!  After the boos and hisses from Howard that government spending will shaft interest rates, he has plucked another $1bn out of the magic rabbit's clacker for the oldies.  So this is now nearly $3bn worth of uncosted shit from the small spending Liberals.  What does this package mean, well people over 55 can get a rebate of up to $500 per year (good to see the picture of Howard in front of shite Gold Coast backdrop.  Are the ABC doing their best to make all politicians look like twats?).  Meanwhile Latham has to be Captain Tightarse or the hounds of Kirribilli Lodge (the nation's captial since 1996) will pounce.  Psephite has got a regular run (here and here) on this issue of spending and no doubt there'll be more to follow.

Brown or Howard, Latham wedgied

There are rumours afoot that the coalition are about to release a child care voucher system as used in the UK (source SMH headline can't find the link).  This is a cracker of an idea in that in effect child care becomes tax deductible.  Its just a shame that it comes from the mouth of Beelzebub rather than ALP's knight in shining armour.  Balance against this the planks of Bob Brown's policy (maybe he can be forgiven the koala incident), which are as follows:

Abolish HECS

Federal funding to private schools provided they do not expel "difficult" children

Raise corporate taxes to 33%

Spend the money on healthcare

Put reconciliation back on the agenda

The thing that draws me to the greens at times is that they stick to their principles no matter what.  They have bugger all power, no chance of getting more seats in the House of Reps but they don't sell out.  Whether you agree with their principles is another matter, but the ALP turmoil that Tampa caused stuffed them in 2001 and ever since.  I don't believe for a second that they would have won if they would have spoken out against the government, but they would not have lost sight of their diminishing core value of equality.  Now all I see is a desperation to get into government, so desperate that they no longer believe that a differing ideological standpoint to the Liberals can win.  Everyone is now talking the language of deficits and interest rates.  Extreme capitalism and small government has somehow won.  SCTTW points out some issues that seem to have disappeared in this campaign, but the ALP seem to be playing a bit of a small target campaign.

If a government has only economic and not social policies then what the hell are we paying them for?  The sodding stock market can do that.

Who is Who?

Come on Latham, get the whip cracking old son.  Also see Lord Sedgwicks blockbuster offerings.

Hill on the ALP Package

Elizabeth Hill has written an article on the ALP tax package.  In it there are some interesting points.  First she deals with my bugbear of income splitting:

"Unfortunately, though, Labor didn't just leave it at that. Instead it undermined the equity of its policy through the reappearance of Family Tax Benefit Part B in another guise - an increase in the tax-free threshold to $12,000 for families with at least one child under 18 years."

But then goes on to say:

"But the policy document shows that family payments do differ according to the division of paid labour between workers. However, unlike the Coalition's family tax package in which maximum financial rewards accrue to families in which paid work is divided most unevenly, Labor's policy provides the highest benefit to families in which paid work is shared evenly."

Which I'll have to check on (this will take me some time as despite what people may think, I am by no means an economist).  If true, Brandy may make it's way back to Latham, however, the income split will become an immovable plank and will only grow.

But then we have the sting in the tail:

"However, women with young children face numerous challenges and do not need government standing over them with a stick that rewards paid work over non-paid caring work. Particularly when quality and affordable child care is neither easily available nor part of Labor's package - someone has to care for the children."

For people who don't have kids, childcare (if you can get it) costs at least $50 per day or $1000ish dollars per month per child.  So for the average of about 2 children you are looking at $24,000 per year.  This is the real problem with women going back to work, it is just not viable in many cases.

The Pressure is On

Christ on a bike, I see that The Daily Flute has now got a link from uberelectionblog The Poll Vault.  As if this work-life-blog balance wasn't hard enough already, now I have to write something worthy.  Well how about the ABC then.  er.. Give them more money I reckon er..coz aha.. If we give them more money, we won't have to watch "Mother and Son" repeats anymore.  And if you're in Sydney, listen to 702AM.  Mike (not the pony haired ponce on Channel 10) Bailey, what a weather man ay?
If you would like an equally stunning wrap of your broadcasting or publishing empire, please link to The Daily Flute.

Voters are Schizos - Dr Bunsen

Dr Bunsen is getting a fair amount of air time today (and where, oh where is Simon Crean?)  He says:

"These people don't live in segments, they say 'this is me in the tax package' and 'this is me a different person in public housing' and 'this is me a different person trying to go to the doctor' and 'this is me a different person worried about my kids going to school',"

Do people also get one vote for each "me"?

Bugger off Brown - Abbott

In a shock horror move the Mad Monk has said he would not deal with the greens in a hung parliament.  I reckon that's going to lose Abbott a few votes in his crack hitting rock and roll electorate of Warringah.  We will wait and see, but a hung parliament usually does make strange bedfellows.  Faced with power or opposition most MPs go for the minor parties quicker than a dickhead running towards a closing door on a train (like its the last train and there won't be another one at Wynyard for 3 minutes).  Britain saw the ill fated Lib-Lab pact and Italy has seen a veritable orgy of seat swapping over the years.

With the estimated slush fund of $5bn dollars (startling picture of Dr Bunsen there by the way) due to be delivered by treasury tomorrow we can expect to see trinkets and baubles galore.  Surely that amount of "free" money sloshing around in peoples pockets would not be good for the economy and would force interest rates up (unlike budget balances, there is a link between growth and rates).  Howard was as desperate as buggery to force home the interest rate message yesterday (Brissenden's report should appear here soon).  Meanwhile Latham actually started looking like a leader with a solid performance.  He nicely bagged the Costello "how come there's no $600 in the weekly tables" by showing that the governments own weekly tables do not include the Harvey Norman vouchers.  But at the end of the day, how many people will look at these tables?  They are not ususally for the faint hearted and so thankfully the Daily Telegraph ran a nice goose piece under the banner of  "$92 per family".  This is one of those tabloids that limits economic anaysis to a great big picture of a beer and a packet of smokes with an arrow "Up 10c" next to it, so it was nice to see them venture into new territory.  However I saw over the shoulder (of the dickhead that kamikazed into the train this morning) that good old Piers Akerman has done a piece on "Shaming the Sons of Islam".  I stopped there but I could guess that the headline should have been "Muslims have Terror Gene".  While I'm on the subject the biggest "war on terror" I endured was during the troubles in Northern Ireland where mad bunches of Catholics and Protestants would maim and slaughter willy nilly.  Not a Mohamed in sight. 

Now with added swing!

Thanks to the ALP arse component of income splitting, I have now become what I despise - a swinging voter.  Actually its a bit like moving from brief to boxers.  So now in order to give you, the reader, an indication of how I'm thinking vote wise at the top of the screen you will see the easy to read colour coded Votometer.  "Brandy" the lying rodent will park its backside under the political celebrity that I feel the most empathy with.  It goes from Sophie P (black - evil brrrr) to Bob (green - a bit loopy but good).  So come on pollies, grab my vote!

Update: I have now added the sinister Family First party to the right of even Sophie P.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Why is Income Splitting Bad?

The inimitable Chris of BP has asked me to spell out the argument against income splitting.  Here are my main objections:

1) It make the lesser earner in a relationship more dependant on the other (usually the woman)

2) It is an incentive for a lower female participation rate in the workforce

3) It prejudices against single income earners (including single parents - mainly women)

4) The money could have been spend better elsewhere

5) It favours higher income earners who can afford to split.

Australia still has a long way to go to reach equality for women, this policy is a huge step in the wrong direction.  For further information on the rationale behind such bold statements please refer to the following links. 

Taxing Times for Women: Feminism Confronts Tax Policy - Claire Young

Election 2004: Taxing times for working families - Patricia Apps

The end of equality? Australian women and the Howard government - Anne Summers

That'll do for starters.  Then you have the laughable situation of providing childcare while people are training (good idea), but what about when they go to work?  The more I read this policy the more it looks like a Coalition paper.  They had better come up trumps on education.

Here is my spurious attempt at further explanation.  Let us assume that income splitting is in, rather than a more equitable way of returning money to the people.  Let us take the case of Bob and Doris and some made up tax rates.  The tax free threshold is $6000 per person.  The next rate is 30%.  Bob earns $20K which becuase of income splitting means he pays 30% on $8K (ie $6000).  Now Doris wants to get back to work.  This being Australia and her being a woman means she can only get a crappy part time job at $6000.  But guess what, as a family unit they are already using her tax free dowry, so in the eyes of her hubby Bob anything she earns will be taxed at 30%.  This is a huge disincentive to get back into work.  Now add to this that the Better Family payment (though not quite as insidious as FTB - part B) is assessed on joint income. This will effectively increase her tax at an even higher rate.  Now add the fact that child care assistance is bugger all and you have a picture where because of the loss in benefit, the perceived increase in tax on Doris' wages and the cost of working means that it isn't worth it after all. 

Torn between a donkey and an ass

I have never voted against Labor, whether in England or in Australia.  I was all for Latham as the new leader of the ALP.  I saw him talk on "The Third Way" while he was on the backbenches.  I never thought I would say this, but I am considering a donkey vote at the upcoming election.  Why?  Because the income splitting measure in Labor's tax package is plain wrong for equality in the workplace.  Taking all things into consideration, there just isn't enough in the rest of their policies so far to outweigh it.  Howard is an evil git make no mistake, but Labor are at their best when they can provide a cohesive social vision, something the right can rarely do.  So far all they have come up with tweaking coalition policies and not inventing their own.  Labor have inevitably drifted towards the right and so have lost the vision, the reason why they exist.  My thinking at the moment is that in the next few years there will be an almighty correction when the coalition's mismanagement comes home to roost, and just maybe it will be enough to allow a party such as the ALP to get back to "the left".  Maybe it is for the best that we have another three years of evilness.

I hope something happens to change my mind on this I really do.  Why did you have do go and do a dumb Howardesque move like that Mark?  Once its in it will never be gone, and it will just get worse and worse.  Today just the tax free threshold, tomorrow complete income splitting.  Sophie must be jumping for joy.  Such a shame as the rest of the policy doesn't look too shabby.

Monday, September 06, 2004

I'm not paying for Sophie's bloody haircut

That strange beastie Indi Sophie has come out with a cracker  (via VM).  This is the true user pays philosophy of the Liberals.  I often wonder if some people at the ABC have got a large collection of Sophie-falling-over out-takes as she walks infront of all things Stralian on her regular Insider adjournment debates.  Again it's the old Medicare saftey-net being touted, this time comparing a haircut to being fixed up when one is crook.  Whereas most people have some kind of inkling that kind of maybe they don't mind their taxes going to healthcare for all, I don't think that Federally funded hairdressing (a hair-net?) would cut the mustard.  This has to be her most outstanding blunder since her comments on Insiders in debate with Pru Goward, which I won't quote here, but it's well worth a read as Pru nearly lost her rag with the waffle that Soph was coming out with.

Cash Galore for ALL

News is just breaking of the ALPs tax policy release.  So far I can see a misrepresentation in the media as bloody usual.  They are saying that families under $52k are going to get an additional $8 a week.  This is only half true.  Unless they have rejigged the middle brackets it means that all earners are going to get that amount.  This in combination with the top bracket going from $80 - $85k means that yet again the people at the top end of town will get the most relief.  Granted, it is better than Howards bugger the poor cuts in the last budget, but not good enough.

There are also changes to the family tax benefit thingo which may be good.....

The splurges are generally good, childcare and training for people without work (very good idea), mucking around with super tax - not too bad, but what is this arse "pool part of their incomes and pay less tax, delivering benefits of up to $20 a week per family" stuff?  I suppose it balances out the means testing for the FTB but the idea of income pooling does not sit right with me as it tends to get wimmin out of the workplace.  I guess the "masculinity crisis" in schools doesn't stretch to the workplace, where it's back to nudie calendars (not like this one) and lunch at the "Gentlemens Rub" for some exotic entertainment.

The revenue raising is good, money on fags and visa applications go up for companies.  All in all, not a bad pitch, it should get some votes back, but there is a treasury surplus report looming on Friday and methinks the Liberals will give $8.25 back to all earners.

Economic Myth - Part 4

I was inspired to write this following a comment on BP by Homer Paxton.  Homer points out quite rightly:

"I am waiting for a journo to point out that 17% interest rates were when Keating had a rather large surplus, bigger than any of howards, and that rates fell quite dramatically when the deficit shot up.

bush has a deficit of 6 1/2 % of GDP which converts roughly to about $30 Billion here which surely means double digit rates yet US rates are lower than ours."

What exactly is the argument for deficits pushing up interest rates?  Here is a graph over the last 30 years (John Howard's favourite timescale) comparing interest rates (the cash rate as determined by the market) against budget balance.  The interest rate line shown differs slightly to the one shown below as they have been averaged for each annual period.

I have flipped the budget balance figures around so that in theory, if it is true that deficits = high interest rates then the pink and blue lines should enjoy some sort of entwined waltz of harmony.  But they don't do they?  There is nothing at all, when you look at the raw data, to suggest any relationship at all.  Somehow, this government has managed to peddle the following myth:

"Budget surpluses are good, amongst other things, they keep interest rates down".

What they mean is:

"We don't want to spend money on services as we believe in small government, market forces and user pays.  The only way you will swallow this is if we make you believe that is bad economically for the government to spend money.  We will link it to an idea that high interest rates are always bad, and low interest rates are always good"

And the media, and the Australian public have swallowed it.

Porkwatch Updated

Thanks to an anonymous contributor, the Tony Abbott pork tables are complete.  There are a total of 34 measures of which 16 are in marginal seats, 12 Liberal and 4 ALP.  Is this a strategy that shows the coalition are in a defensive rather than attacking mode?

By the way, I know people are reading this garbage, so feel free to leave comments.

Tinkering with Health, Howard on Women

Bugger is the word.  I'm a simplistic sort of chap who understands simple things.  I am not an expert on healthcare, but I know that in England I can see a trusted family doctor for free.  In Australia I can't.  Now apparently this is all to do with this mystical "bulk-billing" method of reimbursing doctors.  It seems the higher the bulk billing rate, the more "free" doctors there are.  The ALP policy carries incentives for doctors to bulk bill, but if they don't the patient misses out.  The Liberals give all doctors a boost regardless of the bulk billing, so in theory everyone could win unless the doctors absorb the extra money.  Both policies appear to be just tinkering around the edges.  My own doctor stopped bulk billing some time ago, his complaint being that the scheduled fees had not risen for some time.  So wouldn't the answer be to lift the schedule fee rate for medical services and take the patient (or customer as I was once annoyingly called) out of the whole claiming, billing loop?  The doctor would in effect be paid directly by the government at a rate that can sustain the doctor in the lifestyle to which he or her is accustomed.  If you did that properly, there would be no need for the "Super Smart Pro Medicare Safety Net Plus" as no one would incur medical costs in the first place.  Simple, yes; expensive, so what.

So all in all a tinker from both sides, though not as shite as the dodgy $600 (redeemable only at Harvey Norman) one off payments that "customers" are about to receive.

This morning on AM John Howard was questioned on the soon to be announced ALP tax policy and the family tax benefit reform.  His reaction was to scrutinise for potential "discrimination" against women who "choose" to work at home while their children are young.  What he didn't mention is the overall pressure his government has put on taking that choice away.  No big spending on child care and a family tax benefit scheme that is tantamount to income splitting, clearly signals what he wants.  Keep the Sheila's at home.  No if only he hadn't buggered up housing affordability (first time buyers grant) maybe his dream would come true. 

What will the ALP tax policy be?  Ooh, the excitement.  One thing to bear in mind however, is that when the brackets are changed for the lower marginal rates, the rich also benefit.

Looking at my referrals list makes the site look like a subsidiary to John Quiggin Enterprises.  In order to show that this site still maintains editorial independence, I will take my proprietor to task over his Welfare Reform posting.  I'm not quite sure what his argument is so here is mine.  Welfare is a band aid solution to flaws in social policy.  However it is necessary, and while it is there some people will take advantage of it.  I would rather it be in place and be generous as it reduces the chance of someone nicking my TV.  I can put up with a few bludgers, knowing that if hard times hit people will be assisted.  The main answer to this problem is education, education, education.

Elsewhere: Back Pages features a natty poll graph which makes voting look like a particle accelerator, SCTTW nicely takes apart Downer and his sudden Road to Mayo voting booths revelation on Hicks,  Lord Sedgewick has a cracker of a cartoon depicting what someone will do with their $600 Harvey Norman vouchers.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Where's my Mummy? - Downer

Here it is!

Hicks, concern, whatever - Ruddock

Not only has Ruddock,s circulation dried up, but he must have one of the slowest nervous systems going.  Apparently news has just reached his cerebellum that David Hicks may not be getting a fair trial.  I think I'll stamp on his foot and watch him yelp in 2007.  Even that superpower Denmark managed to get their citizens out of the clink, so where were Downer and Ruddock?  The yanks told Downer that Hicks was caught smoking around the back of the school gym, and pulled nasty faces at sir, so there could be no sympathy there.  Ruddock only surfaces for quick soundbites between embalming sessions.  All in all Australia did the best job they could under the circumstances.  Well done boys!

Medibank II

At last ACOSS have asked for the scrapping of the private health insurance rebate.  This is one of those recent measures by the Howard government that has now become entrenched.  How did this occur?  Cast your mind back ...... cue flashback effects:

1) If you earn over 50K and you don't have private health cover, we'll up your Medicare levy.

2) We will lock you in by a freezing of rates at your current age.  Hurry up, you don't want to have to get insurance when you're 75 and are riddled with diseases, you won't be able to afford it!

3) We will give you a rebate of 30% on your premiums.

What could provide better economies of scale than one monolithic universal health system?  Nothing!  So why have the government systematically taken money out of the public health system and given it straight to the coffers of the private sector, where to be used less efficiently?  The answer is that Howard and the Liberals are ideologically against the public health system.  Under him, it is now referred to as "the safety net".  Howard likes to trawl up the past when it suits him on matters that the government have little control over (interest rates).  But this is the man who almost single handedly privatised Medicare's forerunner Medibank because "it cost too much".  It was completely within his control.  Let me repeat that, he has once already scrapped a public health system in Australia.  And now he is doing it again.  This is real form, but everyone seems to have forgotten it.  Now the debate has shifted to, "why shouldn't private health be more affordable for everyone?" from "how come public health is is crisis?".  The "user pays" system is at its worst in the context of healthcare as it puts a price on human suffering.  I hope Julia Gillard comes out with a cracking health policy today, but you can bet that the rebate will unfortunately stay.

No Pulse but Lives - Ruddock Defies Science!

Even without the benefit of hindsight, one can only assume that the last drop of blood must have vanished from Philip Ruddock's circulation.  This past and present master of "the unsaid conclusion" dropped to new lows last week.  No, he did not specifically say, "Vote ALP and you'll get a Beslan in Australia", but that was the fear, the unsaid conclusion that he wanted people to reach.  When I started to write this blogitem, I intended to praise Howard and Latham for their statements after the full horror of what occurred came to light.  Whereas Bush was all too keen to use this as another weapon in his campaign arsenal, Howard and Latham did not.  However Howard should not have backed Ruddock up last week, but he did.  He said, "It is quite legitimate in the debate that is going on in the lead-up to the election to argue that the credentials in this government are superior to those of the Labor Party in dealing with security issues and in the war against international terrorism,"(full story here).  Is it foreseeable that Australian politics can sink as low as the sham in the US?  Bush used Beslan to hype up the fear of terror not one week after the disgraceful parading of "September 11" during the Republican convention in the US.  It must ease the pain for the victims to see that their loss was not in vain, no, it may have just become an election winning slogan.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Blueberries, Barrie and Bolt

Just a quick post today, seeing as it's the day I'm supposed to do bugger all.  I think my daughter must have put some "special herbs" in my fathers day special breakfast.  The blueberries tasted normal but I could have sworn that Andrew "Crimson Jihad" Bolt was almost civil on The Insiders this morning.  He picked holes in the government and hardly a cross word was said to Barrie.  As the herbs wore off I heard Bolt come out with his usual "Mohameds under the bed" line in connection with the Beslan tragedy, but another mouthful of happy pancakes and the love in was back on.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Whitlam, Fraser, Hawke, Keating, Howard all to blame

The RBA have just release the Persian Carpet index figures, showing that despite all the feeble efforts of the government, the shops are still closing at an alarming rate.

My own anecdotal evidence to support these poor figures is a Persian rug shop near me that has opened and closed several times, has suffered the odd fire and still cannot be sustained despite a string of separate owners.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

She would say that

VM linked to an article in The Age which I've just bothered to read.  Why do the media give so much space to groups such as the Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA)?  Isn't it bloody obvious what their agenda is?  They always want people to sell their property and the more inflated the price the better for the oily tick's commission.  And so surprise,surprise we have the following quote from the REIA president Kareena Ballard.

"Indexing the first home owner's grant to median house prices would be a positive move in assisting young people to enter the housing market,"

Doesn't this make someone sit up and think, wait a momento - if the REIA like the first home owner's grant then surely it must be not so good for housing affordability?  Does it bollocks, the REIA get far too much uncritiqued airtime and column inches.  They are treated like impartial property gurus instead of the subhuman price hiking lying scum they represent.  They bullshit, have a stronghold on real estate advertising in local papers and will not stop at anything to get the gavel banged.  No other industry group is treated with as much undeserved respect.

Economic Myth - Part 3

The budget must be kept in surplus.  Wrong!  Now we have had a relatively long period of economic growth (for the few) with budget surpluses.  Imagine beyond all fantasy that this will some day come to an end and a recession hits.  Less wealth generated means less revenue for the government and so in order to keep the budget in surplus the government has two choices:

1) Raise taxes.  This cuts the amount of private spending and saving, no impulse for growth there.

2) Cut spending.  So just when people need a hand, government money is taken from them.  Again less spending and saving, no impulse for growth there.

So sound economic management means that in hard times, the government incurs defecits in order to drag the economy back to the black.  In good times, budget surpluses pay this debt off.

Rocky v Apollo

Shock Horror Peter King is standing as an independant against Prince William.  It is strange how a preselection can radically alter a pollies standpoint.  Now we will see a whole load of "woe is us, for verily we are ye underdog" crap from Howard.  This decision by King is a win for Howard as it will get coverage, and his mug will be all over the shop. Meanwhile we can expect further "spending money" as Johnny (minus the burglar alarms, school fees, higher food costs, health costs - but really I do have more money) hints at further bungs in the pipeline.  Hang on, doesn't that amount to a tax policy?  I think the Australian public have a right to know further out from the election than this what the Liberal's tax policy will be.

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