Enough Is Enough

Enough Is Enough lays out a visionary but realistic alternative to the perpetual pursuit of economic growth—an economy where the goal is enough, not more. Continue reading

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My Best Ideas…

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Is This Tony Abbott’s Shopping List For Australia?

“FACT CHECKING” THE INSTITUTE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS”

Tony Abbott’s request for trust should fall on deaf ears

By @SainterSan]

This post first appeared on The Peoplez Daily and is re-posted with permission of the author @SainterSan

9bc_12c88f_894214b9_ojFact checking political statements is a fairly recent phenomenon in the U.S, Britain and now Australia, and has proved to be particularly useful to the public during election campaigns. Principally a FactCheck organisation monitors the factual accuracy of what is said by politicians in TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases by scrutinising an already well established database of facts on the public record and/or consulting with leading academics to establish the validity of economic policies. For a FactCheck organisation to have credibility it must uphold the best practises of journalism and scholarship, and be nonpartisan and independent. By all measures they have been highly successful in their mission to hold politicians to account. However, there are other ways to fact check political promises doled out to the voter in the lead-up to an election.

When a campaign is in full swing, often what concerns the electorate most is not what political parties are promising to DO but what they are promising NOT to do – the old fear of voting in a wolf in sheep’s clothing. But how is it possible to factually know in any meaningful way what an incoming government will do in the future? Policy statements are basically useless and reading up on a party’s charter or platform at its website is equally useless. To know the real agenda of a new government you must familiarise yourself with a party’s root ideology. In the case of the conservative Coalition (LNP) in Australia, favoured to win the 2013 federal election on September 7, this can be found at the website of it’s principle thinktank, The Institute of Public Affairs.

Founded in 1943 the IPA is primarily made up of right wing academics known as “research fellows”, political figures in the Liberal and National parties, and prominent members of the business community. It is funded by its members, namely wealthy individuals and large corporations like Exxon, Shell, Telstra, Caltex, News Corp and BHP-Billiton. It has been revealed by ABC journalist,Clive Hamilton, that the IPA has a strong link with the Heartland Institute in the United States, a conservative/libertarian think tank and leading climate denier bankrolled by the oil and mining sector. Recently it held it’s 70th anniverary dinner in Melbourne, attended by leading business figures such as Rupert Murdoch and the world’s richest woman, mining magnate Gina Reinhart – the event was MC’d by conservative blogger, Andrew Bolt.

In 2012 the Institute posted an article at it’s website which included a wish list of economic and social changes it wanted Opposition Leader Tony Abbott to implement should he win government. Though the article’s contributors, John Roskam, Chris Berg and James Paterson claim that the list is deliberately radical, their 75 changes to Australia fundamentally represent the core ideology of both the IPA and the LNP Coalition. To quote:

Here we provide a list of 75 policies that would make Australia richer and more free. It’s a deliberately radical list. There’s no way Tony Abbott could implement all of them, or even a majority. But he doesn’t have to implement them all to dramatically change Australia. If he was able to implement just a handful of these recommendations, Abbott would be a transformative figure in Australian political history. He would do more to shift the political spectrum than any prime minister since Whitlam.

Just as the IPA is the church of the Coalition the wish list can be seen as its scripture. And so anyone wondering whether an incoming government headed by Tony Abbott (John Howard’s head kicker) would ‘slash and burn’ (to quote the current Labor government) should ponder any selection or all of the 75 goodies they may well have in store for the land down under. The wish list is not fact in the present tense nor can it be verified in any empirical way, but it constitutes facts in principle which are awaiting implementation if/when the Coalition gets it’s way.

During this campaign Mr Abbott has consistently appealed to the public to trust him. “Trust me”. This from a man whose party still will not release it’s policy costings only two weeks from polling day. Reading the list it’s any wonder why the LNP avoid at all costs being transparent with the public.

List of Radical Changes

1 Repeal the carbon tax, and don’t replace it. It will be one thing to remove the burden of the carbon tax from the Australian economy. But if it is just replaced by another costly scheme, most of the benefits will be undone.

2 Abolish the Department of Climate Change

3 Abolish the Clean Energy Fund

4 Repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act

5 Abandon Australia’s bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council

6 Repeal the renewable energy target

7 Return income taxing powers to the states

8 Abolish the Commonwealth Grants Commission

9 Abolish the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

10 Withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol

11 Introduce fee competition to Australian universities

12 Repeal the National Curriculum

13 Introduce competing private secondary school curriculums

14 Abolish the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)

15 Eliminate laws that require radio and television broadcasters to be ‘balanced’

16 Abolish television spectrum licensing and devolve spectrum management to the common law

17 End local content requirements for Australian television stations

18 Eliminate family tax benefits

19 Abandon the paid parental leave scheme

20 Means-test Medicare

21 End all corporate welfare and subsidies by closing the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education

22 Introduce voluntary voting

23 End mandatory disclosures on political donations

24 End media blackout in final days of election campaigns

25 End public funding to political parties

26 Remove anti-dumping laws

27 Eliminate media ownership restrictions

28 Abolish the Foreign Investment Review Board

29 Eliminate the National Preventative Health Agency

30 Cease subsidising the car industry

31 Formalise a one-in, one-out approach to regulatory reduction

32 Rule out federal funding for 2018 Commonwealth Games

33 Deregulate the parallel importation of books

34 End preferences for Industry Super Funds in workplace relations laws

35 Legislate a cap on government spending and tax as a percentage of GDP

36 Legislate a balanced budget amendment which strictly limits the size of budget deficits and the period the federal government can be in deficit

37 Force government agencies to put all of their spending online in a searchable database

38 Repeal plain packaging for cigarettes and rule it out for all other products, including alcohol and fast food

39 Reintroduce voluntary student unionism at universities

40 Introduce a voucher scheme for secondary schools

41 Repeal the alcopops tax

42 Introduce a special economic zone in the north of Australia including:

a) Lower personal income tax for residents

b) Significantly expanded 457 Visa programs for workers

c) Encourage the construction of dams

43 Repeal the mining tax

44 Devolve environmental approvals for major projects to the states

45 Introduce a single rate of income tax with a generous tax-free threshold

46 Cut company tax to an internationally competitive rate of 25 per cent

47 Cease funding the Australia Network

48 Privatise Australia Post

49 Privatise Medibank

50 Break up the ABC and put out to tender each individual function

51 Privatise SBS

52 Reduce the size of the public service from current levels of more than 260,000 to at least the 2001 low of 212,784

53 Repeal the Fair Work Act

54 Allow individuals and employers to negotiate directly terms of employment that suit them

55 Encourage independent contracting by overturning new regulations designed to punish contractors

56 Abolish the Baby Bonus

57 Abolish the First Home Owners’ Grant

58 Allow the Northern Territory to become a state

59 Halve the size of the Coalition front bench from 32 to 16

60 Remove all remaining tariff and non-tariff barriers to international trade

61 Slash top public servant salaries to much lower international standards, like in the United States

62 End all public subsidies to sport and the arts

63 Privatise the Australian Institute of Sport

64 End all hidden protectionist measures, such as preferences for local manufacturers in government tendering

65 Abolish the Office for Film and Literature Classification

66 Rule out any government-supported or mandated internet censorship

67 Means test tertiary student loans

68 Allow people to opt out of superannuation in exchange for promising to forgo any government income support in retirement

69 Immediately halt construction of the National Broadband Network and privatise any sections that have already been built

70 End all government funded Nanny State advertising

71 Reject proposals for compulsory food and alcohol labelling

72 Privatise the CSIRO

73 Defund Harmony Day

74 Close the Office for Youth

75 Privatise the Snowy-Hydro Scheme

The list amounts to full strength Thatcherism thrust upon a largely unsuspecting Australia that continues to be distracted by meaningless political argy bargy and frivolous debates. And any time soon it could become empirical fact.

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Where In The World Is Tony?

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Where In The World Is Tony?

Last night saw yet another QANDA on ABC without the presence of the man who wants Australia to believe he is the best choice as a Prime Minister who’ll represent all of us. I understand Tony has been on QANDA as this profile shows, but I believe the last time was in April 2010. As far as I can make out, Tony has also refused to go on the ABC’s Lateline program since November 2010.

So What?

Whenever this is raised on twitter, one gets a chorus of Coalition faithful saying it’s because of the left wing bias on ABC TV, presumably this is exactly why Tony is all too often to be seen on News Limited’s media – all be it it in well scripted conversations, or his famous 30 second ‘arse kick’ soundbites.

My first concern about the lack of Tony Abbott on the ABC is that I feel as if my democratic right to hear Tony is being stifled. I confess I avoid commercial media like we’re told medieval people avoided the plague. I can’t abide stimulating intellectual conversations being interrupted every five to ten minutes by advertisements [Editor's question: stimulating intellectual conversations on 7, 9 & 10?]. Surely a Rhodes Scholar like Mr Abbott must also be tiring of three years of not being able to truly get his vision for Australia out. His intellect must be itching to be allowed to break through the soundbite barrier and show us who he truly is?

My second concern is that this lack of appearance on ABC’s flagship current affairs programs (watched by the Australians who actually think and talk about politics) is portraying Mr Abbott as either (a) Scared (b) Arrogant or (c) both. Surely the man who has been chosen by his highly experienced peers to walk in Mr Howard’s (*all bow deeply*) footsteps can’t possibly be either of these things. If the Coalition are to successfully remind the voters of Australia that the policies and cabinet ministers that saw Prime Minister Howard loose government and his seat [Editor's note: to an ex ABC Journalist] so resoundly, then aren’t the viewers of these programs exactly the people he will need to convince?

This all being said, I haven’t allowed for the possibility that it could be Tony’s humility as a transformational leader that is seeing him stand out of the spotliight to allow his troops to fight the good fight in enemy territory. Bishop, Payne, Hockey have all repeatedly shown up and QANDA and Lateline and demonstrated their steadfast loyalty to their leader and the Howardian cult. They’ve loudly trumpeted Tony’s policies from Boat People to Boat People for three years now…so successfully that they forced Labor to adopt the very same policy.

Then there’s poor old Malcolm Turnbull who’s been forced onto the political stage by Tony’s lack of appearance. Like Kevin Rudd, Malcolm is clearly terrified of the media spotlight and unlike Tony, struggles to get the approval of the Australian people. But Malcolm’s real trouble is sticking to well scripted answers [Editor's question: answers or non-answers?]. Instead, Malcolm wonders off piste showing his true colours with well thought out, intellectual and common sense responses – all at the drop of a leather jacket. Surely Tony must step in, he can’t prolong Malcolm’s agony much longer?

On the bright side, Robbie Dean’s has finally been toppled from the position that he has been so unpopular in for so long to be replaced by the popular, intelligent, experienced Ewen Mackenzie [Editor's note: who's been wearing a red tie for many years] …so I hear on the ABC anyway.

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Cheers All…It’s Dry July

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I write this after completing day one of Dry July, a fundraising challenge to not drink alcohol for the 31 days of july.

Dry July raises funds to create better environments and support networks for adult cancer patients and their families. To do this Dry July partners with a number of hospitals and organisations across Australia and New Zealand to fund projects that support adult cancer patients. View Details Here >>

Help Me Help Cancer Patients & Their Families

I cant’t remember the last time I made it through a month without a drink..if it’s happened, it may have been back in 1995 whilst backpacking through SE Asia.  So, I figured it was time to give my liver a well earned rest, my waistline a trim (hopefully) and  prove to myself, my family and friends that I can live without the grog for 31 days!

At the end of day one I’ve managed to raise $60, but I need much more to keep me firmly ensconced on the wagon.

Click To Donate

All donation over $2 dollars are tax deductible.

Please donate at you can to help this worthy cause. In the mean time, chin chin!

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Haiku: Last Days Together

jrbsays:

My latest Dementia Journeys Haiku from my JRB’s Haiku Blog….

Originally posted on JRB's Haiku:

Smiles love and laughter with Mum

This photo of Mum and I was taken during the last few days I saw her in the UK. I hope it goes some way to explaining why the tag line for Dementia Journeys is smiles, love and laughter. This cascading haiku (a set of linked haiku where the last line of a haiku forms the first line of the next and, the last line of the set is the same as the first line) was prompted by seeing this photo again…

last days together
before our worlds flew apart
smiles, love and laughter

smiles, love and laughter
sharing ‘just one’ in the sun
mother and her son

mother and her son
stolen moments in the now
holding off the when

holding off the when
how will we handle the what
one breath at a time

one breath at a time
before we say goodbye
last days together

Smiles, love and laughter

View original 7 more words

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Dementia Journeys Haiku: Early Mourning Son

Originally posted on JRB's Haiku:

Dementia Journeys Haiku: Early Mourning Son

I recently launched a new social venture website Dementia Journeys - www.dementiajourneys.com. My hope is that it will grow into a forum where people taking such a journey can come to find information and communicate with others in remembering the smiles, love and laughter.

This Dementia Journeys Haiku explores the feelings I had living in Australia knowing that I was unlikely to see my Mum in the UK before her Dementia Journey ended. My mourning process started from the last hug and kiss I gave her when I left her the last time to return to Australia. I’m sure many sons who live close to your loved one also have these feelings. Miles/Kilometres are not the only distance that might trigger these feelings…

Dementia Journeys Haiku: Early Mourning son

Have you ever felt like the words in this haiku?

John has  started a Haiku series on experiences during a Dementia…

View original 82 more words

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Dementia Journeys: Come Walk & Talk WIth Us

My New Website: Dementia Journeys

I’m please to announce the launch of my new social venture, www.dementiajourneys.com.

The inspiration behind the Dementia Journeys website was Anne Belchamber, the mother to my sisters and I as well as a Gran and Great Gran.

Smiles, Love & Laughter

IMG_1601Mum ended her Dementia Journey on 31st January 2013. It was a journey that spanned many years and two hemispheres with her family in the UK and Australia. Each one of Mum’s family and friends took their own Dementia Journey with her. Not one of those journeys was the same, each had their own twists and turns, highs and lows. Something that these journeys with Mum had in common (even through the tears) was smiles, love and laughter. This was Mum’s gift and her legacy to us all –  and it’s the philosophy that underpins this website. Continue reading

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JRB’s Haiku Journey On iBooks

JRB's Haiku Journey iBook

I’m pleased to announce that you can now purchase JRB’s Haiku Journey as an Apple iBook. Continue reading

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JRB’s Haiku Journey On Facebook

G’day my friends,

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I’d like to invite those of you on Facebook to come along and ‘Like’ JRB’s Haiku Journey page. You may find some faces you know there already and let’s face it, the more the merrier!

Smiles, love and laughter

John Belchamber

JRB’s Haiku Gifts

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