Say hello to Rupert Murdoch’s new cabinet: just who are these monkeys in a barrel?
It’s common knowledge that to get to the front bench in modern politics, it helps to be privately educated and a lawyer. Other prerequisites may or may not include willingness to cut the throat of your opponents and sell your offspring. So, who is the biggest psychopath? Let’s find out…
TONY ABBOTT – Minister for woman’s issues and presumably the PM.
Safe electorate of Warringah on Sydney's North Shore.
Likes flat earths, God, misogyny and sport, especially bicycles and swimming.
As a Rhodes Scholar he studied politics and philosophy and got ‘a solid second’, according to The Guardian. But by most accounts he mostly played sport and honed his bullying skills at Oxford.
A Rhodes Scholar, by the way, is not such a hard gig to get. It’s part of a production line for ‘world leaders’ established by British imperialist Cecil Rhodes. Toned Abbs is proof that connections are more important than ability.
Doesn’t like media, the climate, accountability, transparency, round earths, scientists, gays, fact and reason.
Ironically was a boat asylum seeker himself and wants them stopped. Abbs is clearly the worst example of a ‘leader’ this nation has ever seen.
WARREN TRUSS – Deputy prime minister, minister for infrastructure and regional development.
Electorate of Wide Bay, Queensland (includes Noosa, Gympie). Office in Maryborough
Ex-Kingaroy farmer and councillor, Truss is often mistaken for a wardrobe or hatstand. He can also easily camouflage himself against beige wallpaper, making it hard for predators to spot him. Just slashed $150,000 in Byron Shire infrastructure funding last week and it’s fair to say more is to come.
JULIE BISHOP – Foreign affairs minister.
Division of Curtin, Western Australia. North of Fremantle and Eastern beach suburbs of Perth
As a corporate lawyer in the 1980s, she represented mining company CSR and tried to stop dying asbestos victims getting compensation in what remains Australia’s greatest single industrial disaster. An estimated 1,000 people died who were living and working near the mine at Wittenoom, WA. Now minister for foreign affairs, she is contributing to the decline of Australia’s international reputation. She’s divorced, childless and the only woman in Toned Abbs’s cabinet. Nickname: ‘Token Deathstare’.
ERIC ABETZ – Minister for employment, minister assisting the prime minister on the public service.
Tasmanian senator located in Hobart
Eric Abetz was born in Germany, migrated to Tassie then studied law. After that he spent roughly ten years in obscurity before politics.
Fun fact: Eric Abetz is the great-nephew of SS-Brigadeführer Otto Abetz, Nazi ambassador to Vichy France from 1940 to 1944.
GEORGE BRANDIS QC – Attorney-general, minister for the arts.
Queensland senator based in Brisbane
The Liberals are not known for their sense of humour, empathy, imagination or love of the arts, and Brandis is no exception. But there is comedic value in that he is minister for the arts; he said on ABC TV’s Q&A last year that he doesn’t even listen to music.
He’s also a Queen’s counsel (QC), which is slightly higher up the lawyer food-chain. He developed a large law practice in the mid 1980s specialising in trade practices law, and then in 2003 made a 20-minute speech describing the Green party as Nazis.
And Brandis likes a rort: it was revealed in 2011 that he had billed the taxpayer for attending the wedding of Sydney radio shock-jock Michael Smith. Possibly dangerous, so maintaining eye contact is recommended, although staring into the soulless vacuum of psychopathy is not advised. Best to avoid.
JOE HOCKEY – Treasurer.
Treasurer Hockey is of Armenian and Palestinian decent, a Roman Catholic and a republican.
Electorate of North Sydney
Given that his heritage comes from an oppressed minority, one would expect him to have more empathy for people trying to escape persecution. Prior to public office he completed an arts-law degree, then became a banking and finance lawyer of no considerable note. This Sydney-sider has been in public office since 1996, loves rugby union and bashing the public service.
Enjoys strip-mining public assets and denying essential services for the poor and disadvantaged.
BARNABY JOYCE – Minister for agriculture.
Electorate of New England (Armidale, Tenterfield etc). Office in Tamworth
Pardon me, Joyce, is that another taxpayer-funded event you attended? This high profile Nationals MP can sometimes be mistaken for an iguana.
After he studied commerce, he became an accountant and is now minister for agriculture and public rorts.
Though never short of an opinion or colourful metaphor, I recall he didn’t want to answer my direct question on whether he supports government accreditation of the the renewable industries.
Currently, renewable industries such as solar, wind and hydro are regulated by fossil fuel companies. What could possibly go wrong?
One redeeming feature is that he’s crossed the floor 19 times (ie disagreed with his own party), but alas, he’s best mates with Gina Rinehart. Was ridiculed for his economic thesis, but told me he still stands by it.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE – Minister for education.
Division of Sturt, inland next to Adelaide
After he graduated with a diploma of legal practice he became a solicitor in 1991, but then was elected to public office in 1993.
And while that made him the youngest current member of the Australian parliament, it also makes him one with the least amount of real-life experience.
Pyne is a Roman Catholic and republican, likes ice-cream and is easily distracted by bright colours. Also a big fan on the war on drugs, Broadway musicals and the sound of his own voice.
NIGEL SCULLION – Minister for Indigenous affairs.
Nigel is a NT senator and was a fisherman before joining the Country National Party. Wait, what? Where’s the law degree? Represents Australia’s largest federal electorate boundary: The Northern Territory.
IAN MACFARLANE – Minister for industry.
Division of Groom, west of Brisbane. Includes Toowoomba
This Kingaroy-born National now lives in Toowomba and likes to drill, baby, drill.
Known for his raspy voice, ability to cut red tape and make babies cry, he relishes the job of convincing farmers that plonking drilling rigs on their property is ‘co-existing’.
KEVIN ANDREWS – Minister for social services.
Menzies electorate: City of Manningham, spreading along the Yarra River from Bulleen to Wonga Park, in Melbourne. Office in
As a former Howard government Liberal MP, Andrews has a long history of racism and bigotry. He implemented the controversial WorkChoices labour market reforms, revoked on character grounds the visa of Dr Mohamed Haneef and cut Australia’s refugee intake from African nations in 2007.
This Victorian ex-barrister is a Roman Catholic and is a member of the Lyons Forum, a socially conservative Christian faction within the God-fearing coalition. God help us.
MALCOLM TURNBULL – Minister for communications.
Division of Wentworth, eastern beach suburbs of Sydney
Bob Brown told me once, ‘there are two things you can see from outer space: the great wall of China and Malcolm Turnbull’s ego’.
And well, why not. He was far richer than anyone else in parliament until Clive Palmer and has also done much more than the rest; from representing high-profile personalities as a lawyer to inventing the internet. He’s also been a journalist, investment banker and venture capitalist.
And while he appears politically centrist, don’t be fooled.
Like his colleagues, he wants to sell Australian land and companies to overseas corporations and embraces global free market fanaticism at the expense of nation building.
He had a hard time defending his inferior broadband network, but to his credit looks awkward and uncomfortable next to everyone else in the cabinet. They’re all idiots, aren’t they, Malcolm?
Roman Catholic, republican and spoonfed.
SCOTT MORRISON – Minister for stopping immigration and border protection.
Electorate of Cook in South-eastern Sydney. Office in Cronulla
Don’t ask questions about asylum seekers or our concentration camps – I won’t be answering them.
Look over there, there’s an adorable cat on the internet. Isn’t X-Factor on?
Scott Morrison will hopefully, at one point, be tried for crimes against humanity.
Ironically his background is actually tourism – after receiving an honours degree in applied science at NSW Uni for economics and geography, he then went on to be managing director of Tourism Australia. Now contributes to Australians’ reputation as bigoted arrogant thugs.
GREG HUNT – Minister against the environment.
Division of Flinders in Victoria. Includes outer southern suburbs on the Mornington Peninsula including Dromana, Hastings and Portsea.
Enjoys wrecking the climate for future generations through rigorous debate.
Okay, so he’s another lawyer, having graduated from Melbourne Law School with first class honours as well as Yale University. Hunt was adviser to the odious South Australian Alexander Downer before being elected as member for Flinders in 2001.
He confused everyone when he said recently he uses Wikipedia to source information – high school students would be ridiculed for such stupidity.
Bravo, well played.
PETER DUTTON – Minister for health, minister for sport
Electorate of Dickson, Qld. North-western suburbs of Brisbane, including Albany Creek, Kallangur and Strathpine.
This Liberal Queenslander was a cop for nine years, working on the drug squad in Brisbane.
He then studied business in 1991 but then five years later became a pollie. And he’s just 42 years old.
BRUCE BILLSON – Minister for small business.
Electorate of Dunkley. South eastern outskirts of Melbourne; it includes the suburbs include Frankston, Frankston North, Frankston South, Langwarrin, Langwarrin South, Mt Eliza, Mornington and Seaford, and parts of Baxter and Skye.
This bureaucrat turned pollie entered politics in 1996 and was educated at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. He worked at Hastings Shire Council as a ‘manager of corporate development’ before being an adviser to Victorian Minister for natural resources, and then policy adviser to the shadow minister for the environment, Rod Kemp.
ANDREW ROBB AO – Minister for trade and investment.
Electorate of Goldstein is in inner city bayside Melbourne. It extends from Elsternwick on the north, Beaumaris in the south, the Frankston railway line in the east and Port Philip Bay in the west.
Andrew was a power-broker behind the scenes before emerging as a political contender. As federal director and campaign manager for John Howard in the 1996 federal election campaign, he helped overthrow Keating and then settled us in for a 13-year run of being relaxed and comfortable.
As a youngster, Robb gained an economics and agricultural science degree from Victoria’s La Trobe University, and has sat on many corporate boards. He’s a Roman Catholic and has a history of suffering from depression, which may or may not be related.
DAVID JOHNSTON – Minister for defence.
This little-known Liberal senator from Western Australia graduated in law in 1979 and then became a barrister in Kalgoorlie and Perth. His area of expertise, according to himself, is criminal, mining, native title and administrative law. He entered politics in 2001
MATHIAS CORMANN – Minister for finance.
The WA Liberal senator and lawyer joined the party in 2007 and became an Aussie after migrating from Belgium. Roman Catholic and only 43.
Note: this article has been amended from print to include electorates and which state the senators come from.
Dear Mr Mike Gallacher
As NSW police minister I thought it important to let you know that a court case instigated by your legal team was thrown out of court and found to have wasted time and your department’s resources.
I know it may sound like a trivial matter, but it was actually a significant test case in civil liberties.
Residents who were peacefully protesting against an unwanted Metgasco CSG test site at Glenugie near Grafton on January 7 this year were arrested on questionable grounds.
It appeared like a fairly sloppy piece of legal work; charges were also changed at the last moment.
But most concerning was that magistrate David Heilpern last week suggested there may have been political interference.
He said, ‘In this case I find myself asking what could possibly be the reason for continuing on with such an innocuous charge in these circumstances?’
I think it’s in the public interest to know who was behind this.
Who pressured a police prosecutor to proceed with ‘vexatious’ charges? It’s possible you know already… but if not, maybe you can find out who it is so they can be made accountable? As you would know, such behaviour undermines the public’s confidence and the capacity of the police to keep law and order.
I believe the police force for the most part carry out their duties professionally; however, directives and the tone of any organisation come from the top. I sincerely hope that you agree that police should not act as private security guards for corporate interests and that this matter should be explained publicly.
Abolish flash trades
Remember the inconvenient Al Gore? He’s written a new book entitled The Future – Six Drivers Of Global Change, and was on Jon Stewart’s Daily Show last week (which you can only get here by paying for Murdoch’s Austar/Foxtel channels).
The two brought up the current global system which, as we all know, is inherently flawed. When Jon Stewart said capitalism was a ‘voracious overeater’, Gore launched into an interesting tirade.
‘We have two powerful tools to shape our future. One is democracy, the other is capitalism. And the alternatives to democracy have been tried and found to be disastrous. The alternatives to capitalism have also been not so great. Capitalism as we all know allocates resources efficiently, balances supply and demand, is more conducive with higher levels of freedom and it unlocks a higher level of human potential. But in spite of that, it
is now associated with market disruptions which are bigger and more frequent... Short-termism is one example.
‘Thirty years ago stocks were held on average for seven years. That was rational. And now it’s seven months. Here in New York and in London, 60 per cent of the trades on the stock exchange are now made by these algorithmic “flash trades” – it happens in milliseconds. That’s not really investing. So we have a flash crash where the market drops a thousand points and comes back again in 20 minutes and they have no idea why it is happening...’
‘Capitalism the way it currently operates needs to be reformed’, Gore says. ‘Our democracy has been hacked – it’s been taken over.
‘It no longer operates the way our founding fathers intended it to. Anonymous donors, big corporations, big money, might makes right... the lobbyist and special interest groups are now in control.
‘You can’t do anything without begging for permission and it’s time that we took our democracy back. And it can be done.’
‘Only the little people pay taxes,’ said the late American billionaire Leona Helmsley in 1983, who ironically spent jail time for tax evasion. Since then, there is little doubt that elaborate tax evasion methods have become more complicated and seemingly less regulated for the super rich and corporations.
Now thankfully the population, at least in the UK, have had enough. US coffee corporation Starbucks has been copping public protests after paying ’no corporation tax in the UK for the past three years,’ The Guardian reports. Along with Amazon and Google, they were accused by a committee of British MPs of an ‘immoral’ use of secretive jurisdictions, royalties and complex company structures to avoid paying tax on British profits.
What’s wrong with paying taxes? Let’s be real: government is a type of socialism. We pay taxes because we all use roads and hospitals. It’s considered part of the social contract, a theory that originated during the Age of Enlightenment and in part addresses the authority of the state over the individual. Clearly society suffers when rich individuals and corporations aren’t taxed at comparable rates to an ‘ordinary’ individual.
And fewer taxes for the rich fits neatly into the idiotic narrow conservative views peddled by simpletons such as Hockey and Abbott – ie ‘investment will suffer’. There is no evidence to that claim and is simply a scare tactic by the greedy. Also the social contract is not talked about by politicans because by and large they are are failing at it.
Greek philosopher Plato is reputed to have said, ‘When there is an income tax, the just man will pay more and the unjust less on the same amount of income.’
Given that sound logic, stimulating or reviving economies couldn’t be simpler: make super-rich corporations pay more tax by closing the loopholes. Change in the short term here is unlikely of course because the Liberal, Nationals and Labor parties – along with mainstream media – know who their masters are.
NSW premier Baz O’Farrell doesn’t like education or differing opinions, judging from the latest cuts to TAFE and the EDO (Environmental Defenders Office).
Both were given a king hit last week; TAFE fees will rise nearly ten per cent with fewer teachers while art courses will no longer exist. And the essential legal service the EDO provides to the community regarding CSG, planning and environmental advice will end next year.
While it’s easy to blame the previous NSW Labor government’s incompetence and the current federal government on lost GST revenue, it’s worth pausing to reflect on how reducing access to education and information benefits a society.
It doesn’t. No matter what rhetoric our two local National Party MPs spin, eliminating creative expression, critical thought and differing opinions through austerity cuts reflects poorly on a wealthy nation such as ours. Didn’t John Lennon go to art school?
It’s mean-spirited and limits the social spectrum. And actions such as these lead to a homogeneous dull grey tasteless soup where the measure of worth is based only on economic factors.
Totalitarian governments have always been suspicious of art and dissenting views. Take the Degenerate Art Exhibition, held in Berlin in 1939. Works that were clearly of exceptional quality were ridiculed in an effort to persuade the public it wasn’t ‘good’ art. Comedian Lenny Bruce once said, ‘Take away the right to say fuck and you take away the right to say “fuck the government.”
Lenny was referring to censorship of course, but the latest austerity measures of cutting funding to education and legal advice amount to just that.
Class war casualty week
There’s a few young guys currently hanging out in the streets of Mullum asking for money.
They don’t look particularly drug-addled or destitute. In fact they seem well fed and in reasonabe mental health. It has challenged my sense of compassion not because I never give money to strangers but because they don’t look like they need it.
And while I never reached the low-point of street begging, in my early 20s I was certainly grateful to the Salvos for furniture and clothes, the Hare Krishnas for healthy cheap food, and yes – the government for providing the funds to allow me to study music.
This year’s Anti-Poverty Week kicked off October 14 and co-incides with a new report by the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) which claims one in eight people overall and one in six children live below the internationally accepted poverty line.
That equates to 12.8 per cent of us.
While the report lays into our meanness given ‘years of unprecedented growth and wealth creation,’ it is also scathing of changes passed in the Senate last week which will result in over 100,000 sole parents on the Parenting Payment being between ‘$60 and $100
a week poorer from January 2013 when those with children over eight years of age are dropped to the lower Newstart Allowance.’
Will this report make a difference? Unlikely. That’s because collectively, our attitude generally is to demonise those less fortunate and aspire to wealth.
One of the most powerful – and evil – conservative narratives is that there is a section of society who are moochers that willingly suckle at the wealth the rest create. It plays into an incorrect assumption: that the poor like being poor and don’t want to aspire to better themselves. Instead they are labelled lazy and dumb and that’s their fault. It also ignores mental health issues.
Not only are they somehow a threat because they may multiply, they must be punished and suffer with less and less. Given that logic, anything that can’t exist without assistance (like tax breaks), should be allowed to fail. Goodbye big oil, coal and auto... and the rest.
Tax breaks for über rich individuals and corporations is obscenely disproportionate to whatever crackers you throw at the poor.
Subjugating the disadvantaged – who you know nothing about by the way – reflects our distrurbing collective psychopathy (lack of empathy).
It all fits neatly under the banner of ‘neo-fascism.’