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Federal Election: Howard's Snatch and Grab

Alan Thornhill is a veteran member of the Canberra Press Gallery and a longtime friend of Webdiary. His field of interest is economics, specialising in making the arcane language of economists accessible to laypeople. This piece first appeared in New Matilda on 13 November 2007 and we republish it on Webdiary with Alan's permission. Many thanks, Alan.

Federal Election: Howard’s Snatch and Grab

by Alan Thornhill 

John Winston Howard’s battlers felt a distinct chill as they watched him deliver his campaign speech in Brisbane yesterday. They were right to shiver. Howard had declared war on Australia’s poor.

He revealed that, if re-elected, he will work — quite deliberately — against their interests.

Although Howard is seen as the best political performer of his generation, he is often oblivious to the subliminal messages he sends out. His latest clanger came in a bold declaration during his campaign launch, that is central to his bid for re-election on 24 November: ‘I want to complete the transition of this nation from a welfare State to an opportunity society,’ Howard said.

It should be unthinkable that a sophisticated modern politician, leading an increasingly prosperous nation, would boast of attacking the poor — particularly as roughly one Australian voter in five depends on one some kind of welfare payment. But, effectively, that is what Howard did.

Naturally, Howard wants to emphasise what he will do, rather than what he has already done — as the politicians keep telling us, this election is about Australia’s future. Howard seldom hides his achievements, but this time he let the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) explain his success at redistributing Australian incomes … in ways that favour the rich.

Figures released by the ABS last week show that the Howard Government has been no slouch at this game. The implications of the figures are startling. They show, for example, that the share of national income captured by the poorest 20 per cent of Australians has actually fallen while the Coalition has been in power.

That is, Australia is leaving its pensioners and working poor behind as its national prosperity rises. These ‘battlers’ — as Howard patronisingly calls those in the bottom 20 per cent of earners — had an 8.3 per cent share of Australia’s incomes back in 1996-97, when the Coalition started its first term. But that had dropped to 7.9 per cent by 2005-06, the latest period for which such figures are available.

‘So what?’ you might ask. ‘That’s just pointy-headed economic talk.’

It isn’t. Those figures imply that, over the life of the Howard Government, almost $2 billion has been transferred from Australia’s poor to those who are much better off. That has been achieved, quite simply, by leaving the poor out in the cold, as the good times pass them by.

What, though, of those who get the pick of the fruit at the top of Australia’s income tree? Those lucky enough to fall into the nation’s top 20 per cent income bracket now get a significantly bigger share of total income than they did in the early years of the Howard Government. Their share of the total take has risen from 37.1 per cent to 38.5 per cent over the same time — which means their incomes are now almost $2.7 billion a year higher than they were when the Howard Government came to office. This is a handsome ‘prosperity dividend’ for already well-heeled Australians.

Image thanks to Fiona Katauskas.

The Government can certainly point to the fact that the incomes of, say, Australia’s poorest 10 per cent have risen quite significantly over this period. They gained a very useful $48 a week. Thank you. The top 10 per cent, however, saw their incomes rise by $247 a week over the same time.

By any standards, John Howard’s achievements in the field of income transfers have been nothing less than biblical: Unto the rich, much more has been given; And from the poor, relatively speaking, even that which they had has been taken away.

The ABS’s report clearly exposes this. It reveals, for example, that the number of families and other households in Australia whose net wealth exceeds $10 million more than doubled to 16,200 in just two years. (True, the ABS warns that the 2003-04 figure, which found just 7,500 in this very fortunate situation, should be ’used with caution’ — and there is good reason for that. But this is still the best estimate we have.)

The figures clearly show that the pace at which the fortunate few are accumulating wealth in Australia has accelerated sharply over recent years. Booming property and share markets have been very good indeed.

But we aren’t all winners. The ABS also shows, for example, that 75,600 Australian families and households now have negative net wealth. Their debts are bigger than their assets. That number has also risen sharply, soaring by a third over the same period.

Howard is now brazenly boasting that there is much more to come, by way of income distribution. Yet he still doesn’t see why he frightens so many people.

Labor once tackled Howard in Parliament over the sharply rising property prices that now frustrate thousands of young Australian families who want a home of their own. His reply was callous — he simply said he had received no complaints from people who had become richer as their property values rose. It was a very revealing comment.

WorkChoices is undoubtedly the heaviest weight Howard put into his own saddlebags before he reached the starter’s gate for this year’s election. Critics call that plan — which no longer dares to speak its name — a ‘low wage policy.’ While highly skilled workers stand to do well out of it, those who most need protection will, in all likelihood, suffer — as they are forced to trade away valuable rights like overtime and penalty rates.

Still, Howard might well have got away with it if he had not been so clumsy implementing the plan. His last minute fix, the Fairness Test, has effectively nobbled the entire operation by basing its critical comparison on the old, supposedly dilapidated, pay system that the new scheme was meant to replace.

But back to the ABS figures. The Australia that the battlers see is very different from the one the wealthy enjoy. Young families with big mortgages now tremble at the Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) macho talk of raising interest rates, yet again, to beat inflation. They found the RBA’s revelation that Australia’s big banks are already paying an extra 0.3 percentage points for the money they borrow to lend to their customers particularly terrifying.

Although the big commercial banks measure their profits in billions of dollars, they are also warning that they will raise home loan rates, regardless of what the RBA does. They say they must do that to cover the extra borrowing costs they are incurring as a result of the US sub-prime crisis.

The RBA’s quarterly report, released this week, leaves little doubt that further official interest rate rises are in the pipeline, and many Australian families will find that they can’t meet their payments if that happens. Australia too could well have sub-prime troubles on its plate.

The US experience has already caused property prices in many American cities to collapse. Anyone who believes it can’t happen here is foolish. It can — and did — in the 1890s and the 1930s. Those times were also marked by very sharp divisions between the rich and the poor.

Any drift back to that kind of inequality carries real dangers. A popular song, from the 1890s, when many Australian farmers were forced off the land by bank foreclosures, which zealous police eagerly enforced, says it all:

There isn’t much to choose ‘tween the bankers and the screws

John Howard’s plan is a big step backwards for Australia’s social cohesion. He still, operates — and thrives — on division.

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The Media is always the "Wild Card".

While Howard's Karl Rove methods of wedging and confusing have served him well in the past, it is not surprising that he would try it again with the assistance of the Corporate Media who owe him a great deal. 

The media have to balance the obvious fact that Howard is a control freak with - their ability to control him.

They have complained of "the right to know" on behalf of their slowly reduced freedoms under the Howard regime. They have only themselves to blame for supporting a person who is consumed with his own importance.

However, profit must be the supreme consideration in any business.

Now we have a situation where, for almost an entire year, the various polls have delivered a strong opinion of an  average 8% swing to the Australian Labor Party.

Did it get the public's attention?  Did it sell newspapers?

How reminiscent of 2001 and 2004 when the media told us that Kim Beasley and Mark Latham respectively, stood a good chance of defeating the media's chosen P.M?

Right up to the threshold of the elections, with the exception of the SMH at the last election in 2004, predicted a "close" result".

Did it get the public's attention? Did it sell newspapers?

So, do we understand Howard's supreme confidence against every example of his "born to rule" stance and that of his robots?

The mistake that the media moguls may have made, is that they have given the oppressed majority of our citizens a glimmer of hope, a high level of expectations that - if there is a "shock and awe" reversal of that by the "freedom of the press" it may take us back to Howard's 19th century mentality.

Popular street marches will be inevitable but - will it sell more newspapers?

The media is a business and as such they will ignore morality in favour of profit for their shareholders.

Could the result of this election have been pre-ordained - and the whole gambit has been for the election of an unmandated government with an orchestrated "phoenix" objective?

Howard's objective has always been to deceive the public and increase the profits of the Corporations.

Nothing has changed.

Consider Australia's future tomorrow, and your own.


Dear John

Dear John,

                    It never was really going to work between you and me, I had a bad dream about you from the beginning. In the dream I was in a huge open air sports stadium, there was a large tarpaulin over the grass and you were sitting at a large brown desk, a hideous caricature of yourself. Behind the crowds hung two huge red flags on which were the hammer and sickle and a circle of white stars. On waking I wondered what these communist flags could mean, you were never a picko that’s for sure. But then it came to me, a totalitarian state, that is where you want to take us, and there you were, a hideous little number cruncher at your desk. I don’t believe I have been far wrong. The meaning of the  tarp over the grass, your denial of climate change perhaps.  It was, to put it bluntly, a bad start.

You didn’t move on things that quickly at first, though you did make a lot of changes when it came to the arts, you have been successful at almost bringing that once vibrant industry to its knees. I will never forgive you for that, never ever. Then came your first big pitch, the GST, since that time I have seen a steep increase in the cost of living, I curse you..

 But where you really broke my heart was when we march in record numbers and you called us “the mob”  You ignored the people and took us into Iraq, that night I cried on the beach under a clear night sky, it tore me to pieces to look up at our Southern Cross and realize that we were now the aggressors. And still on the subject of Iraq, what in the hell did you ever see in George, what was the fascination, was it as simple as sharing the same ideology coupled with the lust for power?

But back to the subject, Iraq wasn’t the first time you had made me cry, the Tampa, SIEVX, children overboard are some of the other  big ones. I could go on with a bigger list but I have already starting to crack open the wine at the anticipation of your departure. To wrap it up, each time you lied it was like rubbing salt into the wound, each time it hurt. There have been times that I have been so angry with you that it almost killed me. In the last election I was so distressed that I headed out of the country for a while to get my bearings.  So now as I watch you and you plead to stay, I have no sympathy or compassion for you, as you have had none for so many others. Once you are gone I will celebrate and rejoice that perhaps now after 11 long years that this country may find it heart again, may find its great democratic tradition and I will be so glad.

Goodbye Johnny I never want to see your hear you again.



A Test case for us - a Mandate for Howard.

It's Time for some reality and purpose.

With a fixed and mythical idea that Howard's "New Order" are excellent fiscal managers - let's look at that situation in layman terms.

IF a government introduces a G.S.T and blackmails States with it.; increases most taxes; deregulates big business and Banks;  encourages sub-prime mortgage loans; reduces funding in real terms to all Commonwealth services such as Hospitals, Public Schools etc; budgets for tax breaks which favour the rich; destroy Medicare and sell off public assets - then they would have a surplus, wouldn't they?  But at what cost to the non-millionaire citizens?

Howard/Costello hate welfare and an ageing population. They hate pensions, whether Veterans'; Aged; or disabled. They despise the cost of Aged care, even though, being run by private enterprise at a profit, only the minimum of care is available.

Costello agrees that his methods of tax breaks favour the rich but, after all he says, they pay the most tax.  We Australians thought that that was because they had the most money? 

 Isn't that the key to the Australian Pay As You Earn system?  I feel no sympathy for people like Kerry Packer who openly admitted that he was a confirmed tax dodger - and Howard gave him a taxpayer funded funeral for his unlawful attitude.  There must be a moral there?

In short, any citizen who costs them some of their surplus money, will eventually be totally marginalised on their human scrap heap.

They want to destroy our Federation Why? Because the States and Territories represent an organised and democratically elected sharing of an otherwise total power.  Likewise the Unions.

I do not apologise for being a volunteer Union delegate for 22 years.  On the contrary, I was very proud of it.

The fascist attack on people who were once in a Union, or a Union delegate, is only dangerous because so many people are accepting it. This attitude would include just about all of Howard's University trained robots!  Free of course, due to Labor's Whitlam government.

If you allow the Howard "New Order" to capitalise on that method of dictating who can and cannot become an elected government official, you have put your name, and Australia's, to a Fascist future.

It is so dangerous that I am afraid that some of our people may even believe it.

Howard got away with his "intervention" in the N.T. and when it worked, stated that he could do the same anywhere in Australia. A test case for us, a mandate for him.

He got away with his "take-over" of the Mersey Hospital.  A test case for us, a mandate for him.

Howard introduces a WorkChoices safety net - which he already had in reserve and wouldn't use if we had accepted the con.  Or more importantly, if we didn't have the Unions to protect us.  So why would a re-elected Howard leave it there when he didn't want it in the first place? A test case for us, a mandate for him.

Howard said that he would introduce Nuclear Reactors to Australia and would place them where the Commercial interests decided. With the panic of his underlings, he said he would allow the "locals" to decide - fair dinkum.  A test case for us, a mandate for him.

Howard has changed the legislation regarding the service duties of the Reservists to allow them to be used overseas.  In addition, I say that, given the chance, he would introduce a Menzies' style conscription to provide personnel to keep up his assistance to his friend George Bush. A test case for us, a mandate for him.

Howard says changing the government changes the country.  I dearly hope so! Since "mandates" have been proven as unnecessary for Howard's "New Order" - why do we have an election anyway?

If he succeeds in his "fork in the road" choice, to deliver a Hitler style "New Order" - he wouldn't pay us the courtesy of a vote.

I am dearly afraid that the spiteful little schoolboy has some serious underhanded (US black ops) up his sleeve.  Even if I am wrong, make no mistake, he and the CIA are capable of it. He will do anything for power.

I have noted for nine years Howard's arrogant attitude to elections could convey the message to some that he is either perspicacious or has a debt to pay to the powers that be. 

To me, he has lied his way into history which will leave us all poorer indeed - but only temporarily I hope.

What I have written here, I honestly believe.

To those who agree, no more of an explanation is necessary.

To those who don't, no more of an explanation is possible.

For all of our sakes - deny the "New Order" a complete dictatorship.




A Chance to Return to Democracy.

I sincerely believe that all Australians have to remove the Howard "New Order" before they further legislate to suppress any organised opposition to their objectives.

I confess to disliking all of Howard's ministers. I find that they have all been guilty of some rorting, incompetence, facing investigation or prosecution. Where there is smoke there is fire.

Their attitude to the subjects that really effect the Australian people is as inconsistent as their non-core and inflationary policies.

But let's cut to the chase.

This is the first election since 1996 that the Australian people have taken a real interest but this time, have actually thought and reasoned about the possible need for change with a true alternative government.

While the incompetence and dishonesty of the Liberal/Nationalist parties becomes more and more disclosed - the more bandaids they apply and the more directions they change.

It is an inconvenient truth that the Howard "New Order" have, intentionally or by accident, directed their objectives to a fascist Australia. The proof is in the pudding.

The people in my age group would find that very hard to believe but, the middle to lower income workers are discovering that they should be alarmed about Howard's intentions to continue on that road.

While the polls seem to indicate a win for Australia (ALP, AG, AD) as opposed to the Liberal/Nationalist coalition, the 16 seats needed to achieve that goal will need a tsunami of votes for change.

The enemy of Australia's future freedom and liberty is surely the Howard "New Order". The legislating for the blatant removal of the rights of our citizens has become too painful to ignore.

Howard and his aspirational fascists will depend greatly on every method of shock and awe that they can think of. Let's face it - should they be re-elected, would any of us expect any of them to face prosecution?

Let's keep our eyes on the fabricated attacks on any Australian group who disagrees with Howard's absolute power.

We desperately need a change of government and a change of direction - only one more chance to realise we are on the brink of an abyss.


We Have to be Alert and Alarmed.

In Eden-Monaro there is certainly a feeling that Gary Nairn has to go but, is it strong enough to overcome the enormous funds he has at his disposal for letterbox propaganda? Almost every working day they come!

Generally it seems that the Australian Labor Party's Mike Kelly has a good chance of unseating this arrogant person of euphemistic titles.

The debate at the Narooma Golf Club was attended by Acacia Rose (Independent) Mike Kelly (Australian Labor Party) Keith Hughes (Australian Greens) and Gary Nairn (Liberal Party).

The GetUp entry to WD regarding an election score card was an excellent piece of work.

Nevertheless, it is a poll which cannot take into account the movements in the prospective candidates and their altering leanings.

I will vote for the Australian Labor Party with the preference to the Australian Greens. I think my wife Rosie will do the same.

We were both impressed by the Independent Acacia Rose. However, when it was explained how close she was to various people of conservative backgrounds, we were a little cautious.

I remember a man standing as an Independent in the 2004 election who gave his preferences to Gary Nairn. It was seen as a set-up to get Mr. Nairn over the line.

I have no proof that Ms. Rose is a similar sleeper and if I offend the lady or any supporters I apologise up front.

I simply point out that we have just lost a true Independent to cancer and we only have two left. Tony Windsor and Mr. Katter.

Both of these gentlemen have demonstrated their independence but the use of that title for preferences is certainly an attraction.

We will have a better idea when we see Ms Rose's preferences - has anyone seen her How to Vote pamphlet yet?

Let's keep our eyes on the real game.


A New Concept of Evasiveness.

My wife and I just watched a tape of Howard's speech today.

In his normal arrogant manner, declaring that he will win on Saturday and at the same time, accusing Rudd of hubris, Howard gave the National Press Club a taste of how frustrating it is for opposition parties in Howard's parliament.

In his speech, he didn't have his usual two bob each way: he backed every horse in the race. Nothing was sacred, guaranteed or more than non-core.

He so closely followed his well-known Parliament filibustering that he almost said yet again "Mr. Speaker" but stopped himself and made it "Mr. Chairman" instead. Unnecessary, but a Freudian slip.

We came away with the opinion that this person's arrogance is alive and well along with his well practised ability of avoiding answering questions as asked. We also noted the old Liberal Party system of stacking suitably seated agents provocateurs in the audience. To these he would look at them and pause for the time to laugh and the time to clap.

One startling example of this was when he gave his three reasons for re-election, the last of which was a statement that was to the effect that the Labor party was a bunch of anti-Australians (my word not his).

Faithfully, his agents vigorously clapped but, nobody else did, possibly since it was a crass and unjustified smear.

His ability for disjointed rhetoric is still his most potent weapon when the person asking is not allowed a supplementary! Just like in his Parliament which he enforced by numbers.

Many people have tried to fathom why Howard lies so much. They even try to excuse him as believing what he says.

This cannot be so since during his Presidential speeches while avoiding directly answering questions, he nevertheless wobbles all over the road with varying opinions to the same type of questions - especially about the Liberal dishonesty in the Lindsay electorate.

Several pointed questions were asked by sincere journalists without achieving any success as to positive replies.

He talked of his transparency of government; he claimed to govern for all Australians; he said he had improved the US alliance; he claimed his visit to China was historic; he said that Costello would be elected unopposed etc. All of which were assumptions or fabrications.

One journalist asked him how he knew that Costello would be elected by his Cabinet unopposed.

Typically his answer was evasive. With his head forward and looking out of the side of his face, he said adversarially that he has been leader for 15 years and he knows his party! Maybe he was forced to make such a deal or get kicked out early?

One only has to read the article by the SMH's Peter Hartcher to touch on the real Howard: Howard adds a new concept in evasiveness


Remember Howard's past and vote for your future.

The Ruddock dirt diggers must be almost in full swing by now.

The blatant breach of the electoral laws by the Liberals in the Lindsay electorate is even worse than Warren Entsch's transgression when approaching the 2004 election.

The casual way in which Ms Kelly laughed off the behaviour of her husband is the act of a person confident that a Howard win will make sure they are not prosecuted.  After all, the Keelty AFP is a Howard police force, but perhaps the NSW police will treat it seriously.

It reminds me of the way our judges say to the jury when barristers overstep the rule of law vis:  "The jury will disregard that statement"!  Fair dinkum. 

Of course that is impossible without discharging the jury, and the gutter tactics of the Liberals in Lindsay may have succeeded with at least any racists that read it.

Of course it is illegal but, since when did Howardists ever have to face justice since 1998? Do we really want more of their contempt for the rule of law?

The supreme arrogance of these fascists is really unbelievable and I hope every present or past servicemen and women will realise what that means to their future in Bush's 100 years war, should the Howard "New Order" be re-elected.

Howard is the most dishonest politician in Australia's history and I repeat Mark Latham's query: "How does Howard get away with it?"

Convention; humility; decency and even the rule of law does not apply to any of Howard's Liberal/Nationalists.

Perhaps I am mistaken but, isn't it unlawful for political parties to advertise electronically after midnight last night?

Yet, on the net, (electronic I believe), the Howard ads are appearing in every article in both the SMH and the Age sites.

Perhaps, like Paul Keating's A chance to rebuild, after a decade of moral erosion we may have just this last chance to rid ourselves of these un-Australian, unaccountable parasites.

I quote just a section of the said article:

The principal reason the public should take the opportunity to kill off the Howard Government has less to do with broken promises on interest rates or even its draconian Work Choices industrial laws, and everything to do with restoring a moral basis to our public life.

Without this, the nation has no standard to rely upon, no claim that can be believed, not even when the grave step of going to war is being considered. When truth is up for grabs, everything is up for grabs.

Cynicism and deceitfulness have been the defining characteristics of John Howard and his Government. They were even brazen enough to oversee the corruption of a United Nations welfare program. And when they were found out, not one of them accepted ministerial responsibility. Not Alexander Downer, not Mark Vaile and certainly not Howard. What they were doing was letting the cockies get their wheat sold through the AWB, while turning a blind eye to the AWB's unscrupulous behaviour - illegally funding a regime Howard was arguing was so bad it had to be changed by force.  


Howard took us into the disastrous Gulf War on the back of two lies. One, that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, capable of threatening the Middle East and Western Europe; the other, that Howard was judiciously weighing whether to commit Australian forces against an evolving situation. We now know he had committed our forces to the Americans all along.

If the Prime Minister cannot be believed, who in the political system is to be believed?

Amen to that.


Believing Howard is just not logical.

The facts of Howard's debt-laden false economy are only now being exposed. Goodness knows what else he has managed to deceive the public with.

In The Australian on November 5, 2007 an article by Mark Schliebs showed how ignorant we are of the actions of Howard and his robots.

I quote parts of that article entitled Democracy 'at risk' from secretive state;

"AUSTRALIANS are the victims of "secretive" public officials too frightened to release vital information which might allow the public to scrutinise them, a report has found."

"And implemented 335 different government legislations that have "secrecy" provisions to stop journalists from publishing important information."

"Another request for the results of an opinion poll into the effectiveness of the $32 million Work Choices campaign will not be released until after the election".

If we use logic and reasoning when we look back at Howard's 11 years, the number of secret acts performed in our name would surely fill a decent sized book.

It has been suggested that if Kevin Rudd is elected he should consider proceeding with the recommended prosecution of the AWB officials who gave kick-backs to Saddam.

I agree whole-heartedly.

Then there is this leading article by Alan Thornhill.

Undoubtedly, the Howard "New Order" has the objective of removing the dreaded welfare from this nation of so-called wealth and prosperity. It seems to me that Howard has extended Malcolm Fraser's very exaggerated dole bludgers to another extreme. It also seems that he is using his well known mean and tricky methods to totally remove any form of welfare from his "business". He has arrogantly abused the trust of some 50% of our population so that he can run our country as his "business".

Any successful business person will tell you that misleading and deception are cornerstones of effective businesses.  Selling snow to the Eskimos so to speak.

Alan Thornhill explains how Howard's methods have been applied with division the main plank in his platform of reform.

Currently, his expensive taxpayer funded advertisements to convince us that there is almost total employment is, to say the least, misleading.  But true in that should every Australian work just one hour in the reference week - we do not have any unemployed on the books! So when we cut the fairy floss down to the bone, Howard's so-called success in the economy has only one clear objective.  That is to force every individual Australian to work or join the military, without welfare, without Medicare, without support of any kind, deserved or not but - at what cost to our people? All this while giving millions of our record taxes as subsidies to private enterprise.  Fair dinkum.

So, when Howard or his robots, talk about tax cuts; increases in pensions; medicare safety net; and "interventions" in the "National Interest", they are merely revealing their fascist intentions.

First the unions, then who will be next, if they are re-elected?


Believing Ern

Ern: "Any successful business person will tell you that misleading and deception are cornerstones of effective businesses." 

I think you are confusing union politics with businesses, businesses employ people whereas the unions just take their members' assets (Sydney holiday site) and sell them off.

Remember the Howard government's dishonesty.

 Does a re-elected Howard government intend to increase the 19th century WorkChoices laws?

 Does the non-elected Howard appointed PM (Costello, who would succeed a re-elected Howard when the latter decides), intend to increase those laws?

 It is not a co-incidence that as a co-producer of the notorious neo-Nazi H.R. Nichols society, Costello has said that he would, and the other arch member Nick Minchin, was recorded as saying they would have to go much further.

 Howard continues his insulting opinion of the average Australian voter by using his previously successful "cop out" words like - we don't "intend" (meaning it at that moment only) - it was "non-core" (a depending on the times) - things have "changed" (unseen circumstances) etc.

 Brad Norington of The Australian put the issue of Howard's intention in Fairness test killing AWAs, PM warned .

 He begins with: "John Howard's proudest achievement of his industrial laws - the Australian Workplace Agreements - have been pronounced "dead" by a leading conservative economist and supporter of labour market reform.

Mark Wooden says the Prime Minister has killed off AWAs - the Howard Government's individual employment contracts - by introducing a fairness test that prevented employers from cutting labour costs." 

Professor Wooden, from the Melbourne Institute, said employers were "lining up" before the fairness test started in May because they could legally reduce pay and conditions."  (Emphasis added).

 The important things here are Howard's notorious self-importance and the damage that any "fairness" would do his narcissist image.

 The answer is of course, both Howard and Costello, if re-elected,  would remove the fairness test and increase the draconian burden on workers before they may lose control of the Senate next July. Howard always works on the principle that you can change anything, anytime - if you have absolute power.

He has already said that he wants a situation for his pet anti-worker legislation that will make it impossible for any future Labor government to reverse it.  Now there's a warning not to vote for him if I ever heard one.  Fair dinkum.

 This is a government of depraved indifference which chose to ignore the Reserve Bank warnings, promised record low interest rates and then caused them to rise six times after that promise by continuing a debt-laden false economy - just to be re-elected.

 Then, with typical absolute arrogance, Howard and Costello say that the "Fairness" test, which was always in the "break in an emergency box" has proved it works!  What a con.

 The medicine is working, not the disease.

 It's like saying that a rusted ship is sea-worthy and then when it starts to sink - hand out life-jackets.

 This would keep things "afloat" for him, he hopes, to be re-elected so, as he said so grandiosely "I have a lot more to do"!!!

 With his logic, he had to keep the false economy "booming" and the "Fairness Test" appearing to be a "pressure relief valve" in order to get re-elected - and then give us more of the same - plus.

 Now he warns “changing the government will change the country”.  Goodness, let’s sincerely hope so!!!

 It all seems so much easier when we realise that we cannot believe anything Howard or his robots ever say.  No confusion there.

Let's keep our eyes on the real game.


"Never ever" Trust the Howard "New Order".

Freedom of information should be beyond price- the Editorial in the Age today was a condemnation of Howard's persistent refusal to allow any scrutiny of his actions by even the most basic tenets of the rule of law:

"It takes a lot to unite two old political enemies in a common cause, but Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser, in their recent call for ministerial accountability to be an issue in this election, highlighted something that could easily have been overlooked by other campaign concerns.  Indeed, it could conveniently have been disregarded for the whole six weeks, but for the release late last week of the Australian National Audit Office's long-awaited report on the Federal Government's $328 million regional projects fund."

"The 630-page report is a litany of political interference, favouritism and lack of accountability.  In the three years to June 2006, the audit found that Government ministers intervened to approve more than $10 million of projects in Coalition seats.  The audit also found grants had been awarded for projects that hadn't even properly been assessed, had been advised against by government departments, and to groups that hadn't even applied for funding.  In one astounding example of political efficiency, or expediency, the then parliamentary secretary for regional services, De-Anne Kelly, approved 16 grants worth a total of $3.5 million in just 51 minutes - just before the Government went into caretaker mode for the 2004 election."

As US President Harry S. Truman suggested more than fifty years ago:

"Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear."

Bob Brown's Ministerial Accountability Bill was defeated in the Senate on party lines. The "No's" included Barnaby Joyce.

The massively dishonest and incompetent behaviour of the Howard government is a matter of record. However, the forest of wedges and diversions have managed to hide the real objectives of a dedicated "Aspirational Nationalist" government: fascism.

If the doubters care to consider the meaning of those words they will find that the description matches that of Fascism. I kid you not.

It is just another Howard claim (if re-elected) of a mandate - no more honest than his 2004 omission of WorkChoices and his current denial of more extreme IR laws.

And remember his statement: "...if we win on Saturday then the reforms that we have brought about will never be reversed by a future federal Labor government" - "They will become part of the furniture, they will become so embedded in our business and workplace culture, that no future Labor government will be able to reverse it."

Does that mean a removal of democracy? Fair dinkum.

If all of the confusing moving targets are causing our voters concerns, we should simply accept that we can "never ever" trust the Howard government.

And to paraphrase Howard's typical one liner: "Any democracy [job] is better than none".

Let's keep our eyes on the real issues.



Ern: "Bob Brown's Ministerial Accountability Bill was defeated in the Senate on party lines."

I wonder why Labor voted against that Bill. For over a week now I have been emailing Newhouse, on the hour every hour, asking why he will not release the documents relevant to his eligibility. Guess what? Not a word from him.

The Real Game

 Ernest William

Let's keep our eyes on the real game.

The Austalian service sector accounts for 68% of GDP, and the Australian mining and agriculture sector accounts for 8%. However the Australian mining and agriculture sector accounts for 68% of exports. Do you really understand what that means?

Kevin Rudd will not change those AWAs which are fair and reasonable as long as the employer permits basic human rights to those employees.

No he most certainly will not be. As a matter of fact he will not be changing any industrial contract. He does not have and will not have any choice in that matter.

At the first sign of any mining strike Mr Rudd will be leading the bosses' charge with his six guns by his side. And if you are a good party political boy you will be next to him. Again, unfortunately for Mr Rudd, his choices are very limited.

The Real Game.

G'day Paul,

To engage on the many items of the current election would be a waste of time for most people.

Let me just say that, with respect to the personal AWA', I concur with the opinion of Mr. Justice Higgins who once famously said:

"The power of the employer to withhold bread is a much more effective weapon than the power of the employee to refuse labour."

And that should put paid to the con of individual negotiation.

Hopefully the people will decide to bring back our values on Saturday.

Cheers Ern G.

"Never ever" Trust the Howard "New Order".

Howard has prospered with the Karl Rove policies of lies and deception since 2001. The procedures of hiding his real objectives by rolling out more and more diversions have been considered by the media as the procedure of a professional politician.

The reason he has survived is because of the media kingmakers and he is slowly but surely turning on them now.

The Tampa, babies overboard, the wharf dispute, the illegal invasion of Iraq, the attack on medium and low paid workers with WorkChoices, and a whole host of wedges with the intention of weakening our nation by creating haves and have nots.

In the last election he disgraced his government by clearly using taxpayers funds specifically for Liberal/National electorates - then denied that he had done it.

Then when the Auditor finally found the way through the maze of economic deception and criticised the blatant use of our money for pork-barrelling his electorate - his Nationalist counterpart, who should have been prosecuted for the AWB scandal, claimed that the report was political!

Then Vaile proceeded to throw more money into his electorates.

He did nothing to remedy or face the consequences of the extended drought. Now he pays subsidies to the farmers which will not save them. Nevertheless - they will still vote for him.

He did nothing in November 2002 when he received the Wentworth report about the Murray-Darling problem and in the following year, dismissed Labor's Simon Crean project called Let our rivers flow, Simon says.

However, when it too became an issue he had the power, due to the heel-clicking of his robots, to throw $10,000,000,000 at the problem without a plan, without informing his enemy Costello or even the neo-Nazi Minchin in Finance.

Now that is being called good economic management!

Then the most inventive spin I have ever heard. "We, the Howard "New Order" have failed miserably in our handling of the booming economy. This has resulted in ten consecutive rises in the cash interest rates, along with passing on that increase plus a margin by the banks and lending institutions."

So who do you trust to continue doing "more of the same"?

His servile attitude to the world's biggest terrorist, the Bush regime, is not only embarrassing but sickening. And it is Bush himself that he serves as demonstrated by his undignified interference in their politics by abusing Barak Obama.

It is not a coincidence that the true Liberals are disgusted with his performance in removing the rights, liberties and entitlements of the Australian people. His boastful protection of corruption while moving towards absolute power confirms that he is a megalomaniac out of control.

With the selective choice of alleged Labor government's problems in the past, Howard refuses to discuss issues of his past like the record 22% interest rates that he created as the Liberal Treasurer in 1982.

The recent negative scaremongering about WorkChoices by Howard and Costello is as unbelievable as their new found respect for each other.

They, who can never ever be trusted, also want us to believe that, if an elected Kevin Rudd gives back to the workers of Australia the basic rights afforded to every other Western country, the commodities that foreign interests are removing from Australian soil, will stop in the ground! Fair dinkum.

Just like the line that when they made sacking and reducing the incomes of Australian workers 18 months ago, has created hundreds of thousands of jobs just because it is cheaper to do so.

There are two things we can be sure about with that spin.

Firstly, no successful business person employs even one more employee than is absolutely necessary to make the maximum profit, no matter what the wages are.

And secondly, the commodities boom is paying very well thank you and, the Australian Labor Party has no problem with that because it is above the incomes of most other Australians in need.

Kevin Rudd will not change those AWAs which are fair and reasonable as long as the employer permits basic human rights to those employees.

Let's keep our eyes on the real game.


A neo-liberal in the house

Trevor Kerr

As a result of Labor's swift response to the IPCC report, Rudd pledge on emissions, Howard is out already, I believe, in sackcloth and ashes preaching a resources recession under Labor. We were warned. Be very afraid.

The Mr Howard claim is ludicrous. Mr Rudd will certainly not do anything to halt mining growth. He does not have any choice in the matter. The reduction plans are a direct lift from California, and are merely designed to shift the very minor problems Australia causes somewhere else. Climate can be used as an excuse for the eventual end to Australian manufacturing beginning soon with the end to the Australian automotive industry.

It will be interesting to follow the reactions of China and India.  

Since both nations will end up with the Australian manufacturing sector I suggest they would be well pleased.

Killing coal

As a result of Labor's swift response to the IPCC report, Rudd pledge on emissions, Howard is out already, I believe, in sackcloth and ashes preaching a resources recession under Labor. We were warned. Be very afraid.

It will be interesting to follow the reactions of China and India.  

Einstein-a-gogo on 3RRR ran an interview with Rebecca Ford, a local expert in lentils.  Australia grows high grade lentils, but most of the crop is exported to Asia. Will Labor invest more in agricultural research, and leave the coal lobby to sort out its own emissions problems?

Sunday Telgraph for Labor! Read on...

Why Kevin Rudd deserves a chance:

The Sunday Telegraph believes (Rudd) now stands on the precipice of the Prime Ministership because of the Coalition's WorkChoices legislation.

Prime Minister John Howard's badly promoted industrial-relations policy is loathed by the very people who have kept Mr Howard in power for 11 years: the so-called Howard's battlers.

Those Howard battlers have defected en masse to form "Rudd's regiment''. They turned on the Coalition because WorkChoices threatened the prosperity the Coalition gave them in the first place.

Under Mr Howard, they upgraded their homes and stuffed them full of booty such as new cars, flat-screen televisions, computers, games rooms and designer kitchens with European appliances.

Then the crunch came: rising interest rates and grocery prices on top of WorkChoices. The IR laws hovered above these families as they watched the balance tip further in favour of the boss at work.

The overwhelming perception was they could lose their jobs at any time, leading to the loss of everything a decade of prosperity handed them.

At the same time Mr Rudd arrived as a safe, and trustworthy, alternative...

Mr Howard does not deserve to be tossed out of office - but politics is a brutal business and he has made mistakes. The admission he will stand down in 18 months has rendered him a lame duck.

Voters are correct to think a vote for John Howard is a vote for Peter Costello.

Eleven years of government has also taken the spark out of the PM's appeal to the electorate. It has stopped listening.

Over the past five weeks the Coalition has campaigned poorly as it wandered off message, handing out bribes to special interest groups. But Mr Howard has been a great prime minister and the country should thank him for the work he has done. He is owed our gratitude...

The Sunday Telegraph accepts readers believe it is finally time to give Labor a go... 

The Hun for Howard?

In contrast to the editors at The Sunday Telegraph, the editors of our nation's largest selling newspaper (another Murdoch-ownded one), decided to say:

It is time. Not to change governments, but to resist temptation. It is time to acknowledge that the Coalition is the safe bet in a political contest in which the new, despite its superficial allure, offers less than the familiar.

On reading the whole, it is clear that what the Hun's editors are really saying is Howard's had his day, but they're keen on Costello. 

I wonder if it's "a Melbourne thing". 

Melb'n things

Could be, Craig. I can't see Costello beating the ZT drum, as in this latest barrel-scrape from the nutty Sydney fringe, Howard to withhold welfare from drug offenders:

He says it is an extension of the Coalition's zero tolerance approach to drugs.

"It's not right that people should have control of taxpayer money when they have been convicted of such offences," he said.

"This will mean that they will not be able to spend the money on those sorts of drugs, or indeed, for that matter, on alcohol and tobacco."

If governments made the morning-after pill, termination and RU486 more readily available for young women who find themselves with an unplanned pregnancy during a time when they have been on an alcohol binge, there would be fewer kids born with impairments, including fetal alcohol syndrome, that predispose them to a life of substance abuse. But, never let a government get in the way of easier access to alcohol for all ages, despite the hypocritical tsk-tsking we may hear this week. It's a lot better to get down on those evil ice-freaks and drug peddling monsters.

The NZ musician Dave Dobbyn was on Rockwiz last night. He looked  pretty good for a fifty year-old ex-alcoholic and sounded in top form, too. Great show, terrific website.

Leader, my leader

Yes Margo, but remember - both Fairfax and Murdoch were advocating the removal of the Iemma Government - weren't we all (I even gave him a cardigan)?  Well, not enough of us to get rid of the bastards apparently.

Libs quote one editorial, ignore the other

Latest Lib email: 

The Editorial in today's edition of the Sunday Herald Sun highlights the choice Australians face at the coming election.

The Editorial states:

"...why take the chance? Why change horses when Australia is galloping strongly ahead with the lowest unemployment in a generation? Why take risks when the International Monetary Fund describes Australia's economic management as at the forefront of world's best practice?

"...an election is not a marketing campaign for consumer goods. It is a test of ideas and credentials.

"For the most part, Labor's policies are the Coalition's with a slight twist. Its platform is not sufficiently different to make us jump to attention. Mr Rudd's front bench is untried in the crucible of economic management. Labor's ability to keep inflation in check also depends to a large extent on IOUs held by the unions.

"...Labor's campaign has been a little too cynical for its own good. For a party championing freshness and new directions, it has been at pains to more conservative than the Conservatives. Mr Rudd has stalked Mr Howard with a banner that reads: Me, too!

"Labor is also wrong when it talks of an economy in autodrive because of China's demand for our natural resources. The OECD annual economic survey of Australia attributes our success to a judicious mix of sound macroeconomic and structural policies."
(Sunday Herald Sun 18/11/07)

Australians must choose between an experienced Coalition team with a proven record of strong economic management, and the prospect of the most inexperienced and union-dominated government in a generation.

The wrong decision next Saturday could threaten the strength of our economy and every family dependent on it. 


Last election only the Canberra Times plumped for Labor. Today's Sydney Sun Herald joins it this time, with Labor gets our approval.

Howard's manifesto

1.   Help families, reward hard work and grow our economy with further tax relief (which of course always drives up interest rates.)

2.   Helping families and seniors with the cost of living.   A tax reform package that will see 65% of working women with children pay no more than 15% tax.  Boost utilities allowances.

3.  Keeping our finances strong - keep cutting the tax burden on families while keeping the budget in the black (I wonder how many interest rates rises people will suffer).  Never follow Labor states into debt (I wonder what they would do when the state governments start going back to Liberal)

4.   A 3% unemployment goal.

5.   Growing small business.  100,000 small business training vouchers.   Keeping small business free of interference from union bosses and militant union officials.  Never returning to Labor's 21% interest rates for small business.

6.  Building 100 new technical schools - not one graduate yet from the first 25 though.  2 defence force schools (huh)?

7.   Boosting frontline health - increasing GP training (that they cut 10 years ago).    500 extra enrolled nurses per year (we only need 19,000)    Fund 50 emergency centres.   Ensure money reaches the front line (a war zone maybe)

8.   Practical goals for infrastructure, water and climate change.   Regional roads through to 2020 (already planned and funded through Auslink).   Storm water capture, recycling and better irrigation (no-one's got any water anyway and councils do this stuff)

9.    I REALLY LOVE THIS.   More CCTV cameras to make communities safer (how?), sure didn't help Jamie Bolger.   CRACKING DOWN ON HOONS, VANDALS, DRUG INDUCED CRIME AND ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR ( I wonder where they will get the competent kops).

Protecting our borders with a stronger and better equipped ADF.

What a plan for 3 years hey?

If you go to the ALP website they have everything costed and planned with full documents of explanation.

What Plan

Mary j Shepherd, what about this then: "Deputy Labor Leader Julia Gillard says she was unaware of a delay in the start of the party's campaign launch in Brisbane last Wednesday.

Last week, Labor Leader Kevin Rudd offered a similar excuse, saying he wasn't even aware he was late."

Kev and Barbie don't even know the time of day, and you want them to run the country.

Then there is this: "Ms Gillard was asked whether Labor's education policy, the so-called "Education Revolution", had been subject to cuts and she did not directly answer the question."

Oh dear oh dear.

Sounds like a Chaser headline, Alan ...

NEWSFLASH: Politician does not directly answer a question from a journalist. 

Hold the front page.


Howard does indeed thrive on division.

I don't see much hope from Labor though - they have well and truly moved to the centre and away from the poor.

From the perspective of the poor, Centrelink taxes the poor at 60% on minimal earnings - or about 30% higher than the wealthy, and double that on usual incomes. This is almost never mentioned by either side of politics or any commentator. 

So I think Howard and co are nastier, but don't expect Labor to do much.

Plain nasty

Michael de Angelos, I assume you think that if Rudd wins, your brother will be able to go out and spend $200 on lunch or that Labor will pay his telephone and electricity bills. It makes you wonder how the hell your brother is going to survive under Labor - he will get what the rest of you will get, NOTHING. 

I did not know there were any cheap restaurants at Wooloomooloo. All the decent eateries are on the Wharf.

Just Plain Nasty

I think nothing could have brought this home to me more clearly than when I took two overseas visitors to lunch at Wooloomooloo last week. I deliberately chose one of the cheaper restaurants along the wharf, but the bill still came to just under $200 for three. OK,I was splashing out on not having seen two long time friend for years.

And then I visited my brother yesterday (63 years old) and on a disability pension for real health reasons after working a lifetime, paying taxes and forced to quit at 59. He showed me his latest statement from the DHSS about his fortnightly pension - just under $400 to live on for two weeks! He's always embarrassed that I pick up his telephone and electricity bills.

Yep, Howard and Costello are just plain nasty buggers.

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