The start of a new Senate term

I received an email from one of my Labor Senators this morning.
As there are now 18 cross benchers, I am tempted to feel a bit sorry for them as I contemplate both the schedule for the Senate to contemplate legislation and the mail-merge abilities of my word-processor *twinkle*
Yes, one can get the spreadsheets of addresses for both Senate and House of Reps from the Australian Parliament, just perfect for use with mail-merge programs.
Now to go write something to encourage those cross bench senators to vote the way I want them to. After all, they are supposed to be representing ME!

Despite all the bluster and claims of Senate obstruction, the Abbott Government has so far only presented a handful of Budget bills to the Senate.

Here’s the rundown on the current situation:
•   Appropriation Bills have passed the Senate.  We will never do what the Coalition did in 1975.
•   Scrapping the Schoolkids Bonus and the Low Income Superannuation Contribution. The Government sought to scrap Labor’s Schoolkids Bonus and Low Income Superannuation Contribution as part of its bill to repeal the Minerals Resources Rent Tax. Labor voted against this bill in the Senate and it was defeated in March.
•   Deficit reduction levy. This increases the top tax rate for people earning more than $180,000 a year. While it represents a broken promise, Labor did not oppose this measure in the Senate because it is targeted at those on very high incomes. The legislation has now passed Parliament.
•   GP and Medicines Taxes. Labor will vote against the new taxes of $7 per GP visit and $5 per chemist prescription when legislation comes into the Parliament.
•   Increasing university fees and student debt. Labor will vote against these measures.
•   Cutting indexation of pensions. We will vote against these cuts when legislation is brought into the Parliament.
•   Increasing petrol taxes. Labor will vote against the Government’s plans to increase fuel excises because of the cost of living impact on low and middle-income earners.

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Dear Aunty

In the last few months I have become somewhat disappointed with the broadcasts on all your platforms in the area of political content.
It’s not that you are not providing an overview of the current political scene, it’s that it is so easy to pick holes in what is provided.

Interviewers do not ask the hard or awkward questions. Hosts ‘explain’ what guests mean, twist the meaning and then speak over their guest when the guest tries to correct them.
Broadcasts by one political ‘side’ of politics are often cut short for ‘technical reasons’ or non-news items so that one doesn’t see pronouncements by the ‘wrong side’ of the political spectrum.
Panels are often stacked by partisan participants of a single political persuasion with no apparent awareness that there might be another point of view so that the ‘conversation’ becomes a propaganda exercise and not a discussion.

This is so different to the political coverage of twenty years ago, or even ten years ago. You see, l can remember when you did what you do, only so much better than you are doing them now!

Dearest Aunty ABC, l know that it is difficult to serve such a diverse audience and that this current government is busy bullying you by threatening to withhold funding for one of this country’s cultural treasures. But for heaven’s sake, or at least that of Australians who prefer their viewing unadulterated by other commercial interests, or those who have no other broadcast media available. Could you please find the guts to actually ask the difficult questions and broadcast the full viewpoints that any government may not be happy about?

Remember, dear Aunty, the only reason bullies and dictators get away with their destructive behaviour because it is scary to stand up to them. But if they are not resisted, then all the good things in society will disappear and life will become short, brutal and mean again.
Not only that, but if you submit to the blandishments of an abusive person as you have done in the last ten years or so, you will find yourself in the same place as other victims of abuse, i.e. dead.

I would hate to see that, as I think the ABC is a significant part of what makes us Australians. So please, Aunty, pull on your flame-proof underwear and report the facts so that your audience once again can have an honest, factual and, above all, trustworthy basis on which to base our choices.

With concern and hope,
An ABC audience member

Well, that’s that job jobbed…

In the last three weeks I’ve handed out How to Vote cards (HTV) six times.
I’ve had three overt Liberal supporters be blatantly rude to both myself and the Greens volunteer standing the requisite six metres from the polling booth door.
One of the Liberal volunteers got a little hysterical when I wouldn’t back away from quoting facts about Mr Abbott’s record compared to the “BISONS” that the previous government achieved. I’m getting too old to be intimidated by people who think shouting can substitute for reason.

Yesterday it was picked up by the local online and broadcast MSM that Joe Bullock, who was placed ahead of Louise Pratt on the ALP ticket due to ‘it being his turn’ or some such factional flummery, had once been a playmate of Mr Abbott and encouraged him into taking over the Young Liberals at Sydney Uni as they were an easier pushover than Young Labor at the time.
It has long been known that Mr Bullock is a dreadful old dinosaur when it comes to things like abortion, homosexuality and equal marriage, but he has also spent many years working for the Shop Workers Union and standing up for workers conditions generally. So why does it matter that, as a youth, he was not a “Labor man”? He has worked for “Labor” and labour ever since! I would suggest that he has had a far more positive result on working conditions and income of retail workers for whom he was responsible than some who came from a similar background!

Mind you, the timing of the ‘discovery’ that Mr Bullock is a “dinosaur” I find most intriguing, as it suggest that the Liberal strategists may be concerned that they won’t get their senatorial rubber stamp.

I have heard some grumbles about ‘wasting $20million’ on this ‘by-election’ process because the AEC stuffed up – and the stuff up in Merriwa hasn’t helped either. Reports today about boxes splitting will not assist in repairing the reputation of the AEC. But the booth I attended was well regulated and the boxes were exchanged well before they got full. My impression is that the AEC staff are really trying hard to ‘get it perfect’ to restore their reputations.

There is also some confusion as to why some of the micro parties are not fielding WA based candidates, and a lot of people are confused about the whole micro-party preference deal thing that has been highlighted in the last few weeks. I think there could be a lot of support for finding a way to clear both those points up in the near future. There is also a deal of resentment about some of the micro-parties putting up candidates who reside out of Western Australia and have admitted that if they were elected, would not even move to the state they represent. That I find both disrespectful to the people they would be representing, and arrogantly rude. Not something that is desirable in someone whom I am employing to represent me!

In the main, I would suggest that most West Australians are well and truly ‘over it’ with regards to politics, muttering frequently about ‘a pox on both their houses’. The more experienced volunteers I spoke to on the pre-polling booth did comment that there seemed to be more people using the pre-poll option this time though. However, attendance at the actual booth (in a quite Liberal area) was quite steady all day. I asked the AEC Booth Officer as I was picking things up after the poll closed, if he thought that the turn out had been lower than expected. He responded that he thought that turn-out on the day may have been slightly down, but there were already a large number of postal votes and pre-polled votes ready to be counted next week, so was reasonably sure that it might be better than expected.

We will most likely get two Liberals and at least one Labour returned. Scott Ludlam may get re-elected, but I fear that WA feels quite beholden to the mining companies, so may well vote more Liberals up, or Liberal leaning candidates at least. I’m just hoping that Ms Pratt and Mr Ludlam get re-elected so that there is a need for Mr Abbott to learn how to negotiate!

I voted today, and then stood outside my local polling station with HTV cards, hopefully encouraging some voters to vote at least below the line so it is all their own preferences. After pressing ‘publish’ I shall be retiring to the couch with a nice cup of tea and some excellent chocolate. Because now we have to wait for all those ballots to be counted.

And for the record: Yes, I volunteered for the ALP.

A reflection on #MarchInMarch

Just thinking about what I was planning this time last week, and reflecting on the paucity of news coverage that might have some of the issues that took so many people into the streets around the country.

This was particularly prompted by this nice enquiry and the reply it received from the Sydney Morning Herald. There has been many articles online about how individuals felt about getting out and marching last Sunday, but the main stream media’s reaction seems to have been a shock to many who took part and were not, in my opinion, cynical enough about what is considered newsworthy.

I can’t remember where I read it, but there was one piece that claimed they had contacted the local Perth newspaper, who seemed to expect a press release to write a story about last Sunday’s march. I think this illustrates the differences in expectations on both sides that just were not fulfilled.

One of the things #MarchInMarch were quite proud of is that it was not organised by the ‘usual suspects’, and there by hangs the first expectation. The ‘usual suspects’ would have known to publicise the march not just to the people they were trying to reach, but also to the main stream media, so that they would know that something was going to happen – if nobody (important?) knows it is happening, does it actually a) matter or b) happen?

On the other hand, as Ms Maley notes in her reply, she considers herself a “journalist” and not a “reporter”. To my mind that is part of the problem. There is an expectation that  “reporters” report on what is happening around them, while “journalists” both report and comment on what happens.

The ordinary people who organised and marched expected to see reports of their action in their local and national papers. I know I did. I was both pleased and slightly disappointed, but unsurprised, that the reportage shown in various TV news shows tended to focus on the ‘rude bits’ and the apparently ‘unfocused message’ and that a lot of the journalism has also focused on the ‘rude bits’ and that there was no single message on to which their story could latch. I suspect that the hook in much of the journalism I have read this week was actually missed.

As I understand it, #MarchInMarch was more about the feeling that many have obviously had that their concerns for their country are being ignored, and to a degree minimised because it didn’t conform to the accepted form of protest.  That feeling got ordinary people marching in their streets, many for the first time. This is not something such a diverse range of people do, ordinarily!

Perhaps, that is the Real Story. That a bunch of ordinary folk, using social media, organised something to express how they feel about their country without the conventional forms. Because the conventional media are neither informing them as they desire and now expect to be informed, nor are those media reporting what is happening when those of us on social media get it more immediately but others don’t. Don’t they also deserve to make their own minds up, as those of use who watch Twitter or Facebook do?

Increasingly the reportage online and ease of access to online information means that there is a greater need by newspapers (online and print) and broadcast media to improve their reportage of what happens. Or is it that sneaking suspicion correct that if things were just reported as they happened, without the newspaper owners opinion influencing those reports, the journalism (the reportage plus opinion) would be more blatant and the ordinary consumer could make their own minds up about things?

I do know that I have increasingly felt that when I read the online newspapers or watch/listen to broadcast news that only one side of the story is being told. I increasingly feel that there are some people who are so desperate to be proved right, and ‘in control’, that they will ignore every indication that they are ill-informed or even wrong, just so they can feel good about themselves.  And I find myself increasingly concerned that my country might be in the control of those who fit that description. That is why I was motivated to stand up and be counted in that ‘unfocused’ mob that gathered on Langley Park last Sunday. But then, I don’t think it was unfocused, because there were just so many issues concerning every one of us who felt they had to be there.

Now that could have done with some “reporting”.

#MarchinMarch #Perth

I’ve just got home from the Perth “March In March”. We left early because the DD had reached her limit, but she felt she had to at least turn up to the start of the march.
About 3000+/- I think, may have been a little more, gathered on Langley Park around 10:30 this morning.
A Channel 9 camera was spotted at the beginning of the show as the marchers were Welcomed to Country by Nyoonga representatives, as was someone’s camera carrying drone (which got a bit of a snarl from the crowd). There were lots of placards about lots of topics, some more poignant than others of course. A fair number of small and not so small children and dogs were toddling around. And a lot of support from various union groups was visible in the crowd.

http-static.ow.ly-photos-normal-4ujze We were officially harangued by:

  • Jo Valentine about nuclear power and accountability;
  • a young lady objecting to the treatment of refugees;
  • a chap from the Socialist Alliance objecting to “Capitalism in general”;
  • a young man pointing out the problems with the TPP;
  • the current president of the Curtin Student Union about cuts to higher education;
  • and the secretary of the TLC in WA about jobs for Australians.

All speakers castigated both political parties for their treatment of refugees, and though the only visible political party was the Greens (Scott Ludlam was present, but I didn’t notice until afterwards) the ALP wasn’t officially present. There were several people there who I’ve seen associated with the ALP though, and the TLCWA was quite visible in several union blocks. [Update: I’ve been informed via my Twitter stream that Sen Louise Pratt and Sen. Sue Lines were also present.]

Abbot government is as transparent as this sign        Abbottoir Reeks - Turn left at next election
The unions were even invited to lead off the march as they were organised enough to look like they were leaders – I suppose it pays to have practised getting a crowd marching over many years *twinkles*If there was a mood to the crowd I would rate it as “very annoyed” possibly even at the ‘cup of tea, stirred vigorously’ level of annoyance – but then, Perth would like to be a “proper” city …  *a very dry grin* #MarchInMarch #Perth

Hopefully there will be more information from other sources about the Perth march. Perhaps there will be more imagery of the march on the TV news than just the Welcome and the little sacred fire that acknowledged that this was ‘business’ that Australians need to deal with.

I’m glad I went, even if the DD and I didn’t actually march.

Not In My Name, Mr Abbott

Slave trade capitalism and the new Republican Party

Slave trade capitalism and the new Republican Party.

More elegantly put than I had been contemplating. I find it confirming of the thought that the current crop of “wealthy folk” who wish to reduce the opportunities for everyone a) do not realise that ideas are like fertiliser and that the more you have the more there are, and b) if ‘poor people’ can’t buy stuff, then ‘rich people’ can’t sell nearly as much stuff as they currently do so they won’t be as ‘rich’ as they might otherwise become!

 

Having just completed Paul Barry’s “Breaking News” I found myself a little sorry for Mr Murdoch. Mostly because he portrays something I have noted with many other “righteous men” in their delight in confirming that other men are not like them; hard-working, able to create wealth (always a sign that “god” is on their side, even if it’s source is not always crystal clear), and with a low taste for scandalous gossip about others.
Like John Calvin or Tomás de Torquemada and even Ayatollah Khomeini, the righteousness and sense of being better than anyone else seems to both drive them forward and blind them to other interpretations of their actions. Almost as if, because they are doing it, it is therefore right, no matter what the law or custom of a country has struggled to rise above and thereby all things are reduced to dross and baseness, confirming their righteousness and better-ness.

I also get the sense from Mr Barry’s words that Mr Murdoch’s offspring are left with a need to constantly prove themselves worthy of their father’s love. I wonder if that is reflects  Mr Murdoch’s own need to be worthy of his father, and somehow prove himself ‘better’ than Sir Keith Murdoch as well as the “Old Establishment”.
From where I sit having read more than one book on Rupert Murdoch, in spite of his privileged starting positions I wonder if somehow he does not love himself, and that makes it easier for his apparent desire to be the most wealthy and influential person on the planet. Because only then will he be worthy in his own eyes?

It is too easy though, to dismiss everything that Mr Murdoch has done as an outright evil. There are many other influences on the current state of the Murdoch empire. And one has to credit Mr Murdoch with one great love of his life – he does love the idea of printing news about what is happening in the world and to those whom he thinks should be put in their place.

I look forward to Mr Barry’s sequel to this  book, possibly after Mr Murdoch has “retired” and certainly after the convulsions of the court cases are over.