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Why religion?

I’m an atheist. A hard core non-believer.
Religion grew out of Mankind’s increasing self-awareness and a feeling that somehow we were just too significant for our life to end with our death. Hard to say when it began, but Neanderthals showed reverence for their dead and ancient Egyptians (and not only the Pharaohs) went to extraordinary lengths to provide for their afterlife.
Religions are now firmly rooted in almost every culture and all without a shred of evidence for an afterlife. Most are based on a magical mystical unexplainable appearance of rarely seen “entities” issuing orders on how to behave from now on. In much the same way, the conquering general rides into town, climbs the town hall steps and tells you how it will be from now on.
I object to this nonsense because basically it relieves many from the need to think for themselves. Because of that, I see religions as being anti-human rather than humanist.
In my world, I have no doubt about my “afterlife”: worm fodder, dust to dust, and no soul or spirit to go to some nonexistent place.
I am not religious, but I manage to behave in a moral way with constant concern for the well being of my fellows. I wonder what we could achieve as humans if we all dumped these old-fashioned, unproven and very strange religious beliefs and began to think for ourselves.

Why TURC is a farce

The Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption (TURC) is a farce. It is not hard to prove this.

Proof hangs on a single item: A Royal Commission has been established to do the job existing law enforcement agencies should be doing. It is as simple as that.

For reasons not known to me, the trade unions do not argue my case. They have appeared before the Royal Commission for months, only objecting recently when it was learnt that Commissioner Dyson Heydon had accepted and deferred an invitation to be a guest speaker at a Liberal party event.

Whether or not the event was a Liberal fund-raiser is irrelevant. Commissioner Heydon initially responded by saying he would attend only if the Royal Commission was no longer sitting. At that point he was well aware of the possibility of a perception of “apprehended bias”. He responded appropriately.

The Royal Commission has been set up to drag trade unions and Labor through the mud. There is no doubt about that. “Some mud always sticks” — a well established principle in dirty politics. The Coalition government leader, Tony Abbott, announced his intention to establish a Judicial Inquiry into the Australian Workers Union (AWU) while he was Opposition Leader, just before the 2013 federal election. After gaining government, he announced the inquiry into the AWU would become a Royal Commission and would be extended.

If we go back to Abbott’s days as an economics and law student at Sydney university we find a young man who aggressively attacked student unions across Australia, as a disciple of the extremely reactionary Bob Santamaria, who hated the Labor party, trade unions and practically everything else. We also find Dyson Heydon sitting on the Rhodes Scholarship selection panel and favouring Abbott ahead of at least three Honours students.


Later in Abbott’s life, as an employee of former Liberal Prime Minister John Howard, we find Dyson Heydon sitting on the legal panel that advised Abbott’s “No” case at the Republic Convention.

Heydon was later appointed to the High Court by the Howard Liberal government.

I now return to my original premise. Speaking outside the Royal Commission, Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) secretary, Dave Oliver, said any offences committed by trade unions or their officers should be investigated and handled by the State police, the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Crime Commission, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Fair Work Commission.

He’s right. The really important question in all of this is why are these authorities not doing the job they were established to do? Why is it necessary to budget $80 million, so far, and to spend $60 million, so far, to investigate trade unions through a Royal Commission?

This superfluous spending is occurring when the nation is said to be suffering a “Budget Emergency!” and a “Debt and Deficit Crisis” brought on by the previous Labor government, according to Treasurer Joe Hockey. Hockey used this imagined situation to introduce a shocker of a Budget in 2014, which he described as “fair”. He later told a New Zealand audience the Australian economy was not in trouble.

Tony Abbott used the imagined critical Budget and deficit situation to carry out wholesale slaughter of the Labor government’s climate change, environment and other programs, along with a heap of welfare and funding for NGOs considered by some to have a voice capable of criticising his government. Allied with that was an on-going campaign against perceived bias in the ABC — again silencing his critics, but there’s more to it than that.

Abbott admitted the 2014 Budget had gone too far, that his government had to learn how to be “fair”. The 2015 Budget was designed to recover some of his lost political capital, but his personal popularity rating has not recovered since early in 2013.

The Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) Abbott’s government is signing will create great disparity between the wages and conditions of imported workers and those of trade union members. If the trade unions are silenced, discredited or wiped out they will not be able to highlight and campaign against these discrepancies. The big unions are also the main financiers of Labor party election campaigns.

Abbott’s actions are also part of the Liberals’ long-term campaign for lower taxes (replaced in part by a bigger and broader GST) and smaller government, the one depending on the other. The long-term implications of this are not being dealt with by the news media, or anyone else, as far as I can tell.

The government’s implementation of a harsh reconstruction of Australian society and culture is allied to the terms of its FTAs, as well as for ideological reasons.

It was necessary to digress above to point out what the Abbott government has been doing.

Why are the established authorities not dealing with crime and corruption in the trade unions? They are ferreting out and dealing with crime and corruption in corporations, companies and political parties.

It has been put to me by a union member and by a Queens Counsel that the Royal Commission into trade unions is necessary because the various police and other authorities have not been able to gather evidence of crime and corruption in trade unions, or are incapable of prosecuting it. But, clearly, this is a nonsense.

Proof of the nonsense lies in the evidence that has been uncovered and recorded by the Royal Commission. The Royal Commission is an authority, with authority to investigate, just like the authorities mentioned above. The Royal Commission’s investigators have this information in their possession before they put their questions to those who appear before them. They are not relying on their imagination or speculation. If the Royal Commission investigators can do it, so can all the other authorities that are charged with doing it and paid to do it — but are not doing it.

Abbott has an almost life-long hatred of trade unions. A severe warning from one trade union official caused Abbott to walk from his first paid job, in a cement products factory. His government slashes funding left, right and centre to reduce the accumulated deficit but provides $80 million for his war on trade unions.

The Labor party’s shadow ministers, MPs and some trade union officials have said they support the cleaning up of trade unions. No further proof is needed of Abbott’s ideological witch hunt against unions and the Labor party.

The real need is for a Royal Commission to discover why those charged with fighting crime and corruption are doing only half the job.

Tony Abbott — leader or destroyer?

A small heading in today’s Sydney Morning Herald said Tony Abbott is not a bad leader. But how do you judge?
If you judge him by his party’s 2PP polling he would fail the test. If you judged him by his personal popularity polling he would fail the test.
If you judged him on party loyalty, based on continuing Cabinet leaks, he would fail the test.
If you judged him by his ability to deliver balance in government and policies for all citizens he would fail the test.
Is there any test that Tony Abbott would pass as a national leader?
It’s often said that he was a very successful Opposition Leader. By this it is meant that he successfully destroyed a Labor government. He is and always has been a successful destroyer — he does pass that test.

— Barry Tucker (Twitter: @btckr)

The white trash of Asia

Hockey this much

Australia’s federal Treasurer Joe Hockey could retire today and he’d live comfortably on his parliamentary pension, apart from his accumulated wealth and income from property investments. But he’s still working, because he wants to ensure millions of Australians have a smaller pension to live on. He refers to this as “making the pension sustainable into the future”.

Joe Hockey also wants to ensure poor people are paying more for their health care and education, because “the Age of Entitlement is over”. Meanwhile, Joe ensures that his entitlements and those of other wealthy Australians go absolutely untouched.

The Liberal Party of Australia, directed by the policy makers of the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), rather than its membership, wants government spending reduced (less welfare, States paying more for health and education through increased GST revenue) and smaller government (fewer departments, fewer public servants). This is designed to lead to “lower, fairer taxes” because the Age of Entitlement is not over for the wealthy who already reduce their taxes to the bare minimum. They can afford to buy taxation minimization advice and set up trust funds. Poor people don’t have access to these things.

Australians’ rights, freedoms, jobs, welfare and democracy are all being simultaneously trashed by the Liberal Party of Australia while our once great Australian Labor Party and trade union movement sits on their backsides and say and do nothing about it.

Critics in NGOs, the Public Service and the news media have been silenced, some under threat of jail for speaking out. The ABC’s independent voice has been questioned, its departments, producers, presenters and panelists are stacked with Liberal party operatives and moves are under way to censor and silence the ABC even further.

A former Labor Prime Minister, Paul Keating, warned Australia was in danger of becoming “a Banana Republic” — an unstable country whose economy is dictated by a single export (say coal or iron ore) owned by foreigners. Singapore’s first Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, warned that Australia could become “the poor white trash of Asia”.

Both men were right. They just didn’t predict that the Liberal Party of Australia and a complacent and compliant Australian Labor Party would combine to make these predictions a reality.

The injustice of non-recognition

The failure of white Australia to recognise Indigenous inhabitants in the Constitution from the very beginning has been an on-going disaster.
Reports to the English government and instructions to Governor Phillip make it clear the land was occupied and the original inhabitants were to be treated with respect.
Pretty weird when you think about it. We’re going to invade them and steal their land for settlement, but be nice about it.
By the time a Constitution was knocked up and the States and Territories formed into a federation, the Indigenous people had been “decimated” one way or another, forced into isolated corners and were generally disregarded. It was thought they would die out, a convenient solution.
But then WWI happened and some Indigenous people signed up. But what was their status? When they were uniformed, trained and armed, did they swear allegiance to the King? As what? Paid mercenaries? After the war these men were not recognised for their efforts.
Later still, some bright spark thought it would be a good idea to kidnap the children of some Indigenous and put them in “Christian” institutions or good Christian homes, so they could grow up to be good Christian people. Another presumption, a travesty and a tragedy for many. Imagine the effect on their parents.
If these Indigenous children were not recognised in the Constitution, who or what were they? What presumption to take them from their parents. It’s little different to sneaking into a neighbouring country, kidnapping children and taking them away to be given to “Christian” families for their own good.
The long fight for recognition of Aboriginal Title over lands held for perhaps 60,000 years, the fights with miners and other entrepreneurs for respect, justice and fair recompense still goes on today. Where you were born, your “country”, is extremely important to Indigenous culture. It is equally important that you are put to rest in the same country, otherwise your spirit will roam restlessly. If we expect them to recognise Christian values (not too dissimilar), it’s only right that Christians should respect Indigenous spiritual beliefs.
I know it is extremely important in Indigenous culture to say “Sorry” for wrongdoings. The white invaders have said “Sorry”, finally, and only recently. To me, it seems barely enough and nowhere near enough.
Some months ago I launched an effort to create the Centre Party of Australia. One of its policy discussion papers included a proposal to compensate Indigenous title holders for the exploitation of resources on their lands. This certainly seems right to me, and far better than the present federal government’s policy of abolishing and slashing everything to do with Indigenous assistance. God knows, they are already the most disadvantaged people in this nation. It irks me that the man responsible for this hacking and slashing is Tony Abbott, the one bleating about recognition in the Constitution and now taking the credit for it.
I’m sure I could take my Biro or Artline pen and fix the recognition problem in the Constitution by editing a few key lines. But because it’s the Constitution we have to have a drawn out discussion, a conference and a referendum, adding to the can of worms and further delaying justice.
A document on Constitutional Recognition has been prepared by the Australian Human Rights Commission.

More “freedom”, or anarchy?

The Liberal Party of Australia believes in more freedom. Sounds good. Beats slavery — for the slaves. But what does it mean? What does it lead to?

These questions are not answered by the Liberals. I suspect there is no answer because they haven’t thought it through.

You will see some indications in the form of less red tape, less regulation, for business. This will lead to lower costs for business, which will lead to lower prices and/or higher wages. Yes? No. In the Liberal’s world it will lead to increased profit margins and higher returns for shareholders. It won’t lead to lower costs or higher wages — inflation will control those items regardless.

The Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), the Liberals’ policy formation unit, has a 100-item list to reform Australia. One of those items calls for a “one in, one out” rule for government regulations. The former Liberal Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, is busily abolishing old, worn out, irrelevant regulations while steadily imposing new ones.

Similarly, Abbott’s Liberals have introduced a one-stop shop for projects that require environmental approvals. This is intended to get projects moving faster. More freedom, in a sense, for the entrepreneurs. But less freedom, in a way, for the unresourced environmental “freedom” fighters who want large scale projects to be examined carefully and cautiously.

The latest brainwave is a Commissioner for Wind Turbines. This character will examine complaints about wind turbines and decide whether or not they are worthy of being passed on to State authorities for further action. Abbott, Treasurer Joe Hockey and other Liberals are on record as saying that wind turbines are hideous monstrosities and a blight on the landscape — unlike, say, the gaping holes, piles of debris and other landform-changing aspects of mining. Coal miners keep the Liberals’ war chests full, so more freedom for them and good luck to the windmill operators.

Getting rid of turbines, fighting like hell for the lowest possible Renewable Energy Target (RET) — it’s actually going up by 2-3% — abolishing Labor’s climate change initiatives (carbon price/emissions trading scheme and various bodies) and Labor’s bid for a bigger slice of finite natural resources (the MRRT — or mining tax) all mean more freedom for miners and electricity companies because there’s less taxing and less competition. Don’t expect to see more freedom for you in terms of lower prices or less taxation — someone has to pay the bills.

The Liberals also want smaller government. They must mean smaller federal government because they keep pushing responsibility for more stuff onto State governments, which are getting bigger while trying to get smaller, like their big brothers. So the State governments fight back by sacking more public servants. The feds counter by saying they are creating more jobs than ever before in history, while the unemployment queues grow longer. Where are all these people coming from? Not from refugees landing in boats. They’ve been locked up — no freedom for them.

And those who have lost their jobs? Tony Abbott says they have been “liberated”. Woopee! How much freedom can you take?

So, what is smaller government all about? It’s obviously not about creating more jobs. It’s not about creating more unemployment because those people have in fact been “liberated”. It’s about reducing taxes.

Taxes equal government revenue — the stuff that pays the government’s bills, including welfare. Welfare is a dirty word to Liberals. Everyone should haul themselves up by the bootstraps and become filthy rich so they wouldn’t need welfare. You can see the sense in this, of course. Buckets of money, no need for welfare, taxes fall away to zero, a Liberal paradise. Of course, you can also see the fallacy, the absurdity — it can’t happen, it never will.

In the Liberal world it’s essential to reduce all government outlays to the bare minimum, so that government revenue can fall to the bare minimum and corporates, investors and small business operators have the freedom to increase their incomes to the absolute maximum. All the remainder have been “liberated” or are finding fulfillment in playing with the dog and the kids.

Another thing the Liberals want more freedom from is those pesky courts. Institutions like the High Court of Australia, a bunch of freaks in wigs who have always got their nose in law books or copies of the Constitution and have the annoying habit of knocking the Liberals’ Draconian legislation on the head. Immigration Minister Peter Dutton didn’t want the High Court messing with his decision to strip an Australian of their citizenship, or “second guessing Ministers”, as he put it. As the former Leader of the Opposition put it: “They might let them off.” It’s a pity he was “liberated” from his old job.

There you have it; my explication of what Liberals mean by “more freedom”. It was going to be an explanation of why perpetually lower taxes and revenues won’t work, but, hey, I have a certain amount of freedom too.

Now if only we could get our news media to do something like what I’ve just done every day and night. I think then we might begin to see how Liberal “freedom” is a direct route to anarchy. It won’t work. The bottom will fall out of everything.

Two recent TV documentaries have reminded us of how the ancient Greek and Roman empires worked. They were both based on slavery. We are heading into a new Republic. To me it looks like the ones we had some 2,300 years ago.

One unanswered question

There is a question Tony Abbott has never answered. Perhaps he has never been asked. I cannot find any record of an answer.

It goes back to the aftermath of the 2010 election. You might consider that ancient history, not worth going into now, but it goes to the nature of the man — and this is relevant to his turbulent federal government.

A reasonable depiction of Tony Abbott's arrogance and self-rightous attitude.

A reasonable depiction of Tony Abbott’s arrogance and self-righteous attitude.

The 2010 election was brought on early after the sudden replacement of Labor leader Kevin Rudd with Julia Gillard. The election was a tie so Abbott and Gillard had to negotiate with three Independents in an attempt to form a minority government.

Abbott lost those negotiations, despite or possibly because of some outrageous promises or offers he made to the Independents. Asked about his failure, he said he felt some of the people he was negotiating with had already made up their minds.

Gillard was able to form a minority government (one that depends on the continued support of Independents). From that moment, Abbott referred to her government as “illegitimate” because it needed this Independent support to govern. This ignores the fact that his Liberal party could not govern without the support of the National party, which in Opposition and in government forms the Liberal National Party coalition.

Now, the unanswered question is: Why would your government not be illegitimate if you had won the support of Independents and depended on their continued support to govern?

Why would Abbott’s position be any different to Gillard’s? To my knowledge, no one has asked him.

That raises another question: Why has no one asked?

The situation highlights Abbott’s remarkable hypocrisy and goes to his attitude and therefore his nature.

In the years that followed the September 2010 election Abbott fought tooth and nail to bring down the Labor government. He described the Labor government as illegitimate and he twisted what Gillard said about her determination to price carbon pollution by referring to the carbon price as the “toxic carbon tax”.

Because Abbott lost the negotiations with the Independents, negotiations with minorities became anathema to him. He swore if he formed a future government there would be no negotiations with minorities to get legislation through the parliament.

The links provided above, and the daily news reports, show that the government Abbott formed in September 2013, with a large majority, has experienced constant difficulty in getting its legislation through both houses of parliament — despite, and sometimes only with, negotiations with Independents and minority parties.

Perhaps his hypocrisy gets to him sometimes.

Perhaps his hypocrisy gets to him sometimes.