Mostly, being an INFP, the thing that rings my chimes about "Western Democracy" (including Australia) is the obvious "FAIL" that corruption continues to brings to the table. A history of corruption exists in the law making process of most if not all Governments that have or do identify as Democratic nations. Australian Members of Parliament past and present also have a known history of corruption. There are just too many examples in our political past of how corrupted Politicians have done "deals" to get certain "concessions" passed into law. Nice easy passage through Parliament. Cleared along the way by beholden Politicians? Over and over. At all levels of Government. Since the whole system was inherited from the "British" and before. It seems to me that the whole system of "justice" needs a complete overhaul. Complete Overhaul. Starting with the democratic system itself. Should we allow political parties? I believe Political Parties are the means of corruption in the political system. Corporations mostly are the offenders. If we banned Political Parties, I believe we would get a system where MPs are only in Parliament to represent the will of their electorate. Nothing more. Nothing less. One MP. One Vote. None of this "Voting along `party lines` rubbish". In my perfect world.. Politicians pensions, salaries, and entitlements would be completely overhauled and massively reduced. With a brand new "Border Force" squad enabled for the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) to assist them in investigating future Political candidates.
Fiasco`s and cover ups have always been the rule of the day in Australian Politics. Special concessions for 'sick old pals' who have been proven to break the laws of the country. But business as usual. Politics and the promotion of disinformation is a dirty business. In Australia, I see no real difference in the direction of travel that the two major political parties participate towards. I would like for Australians to wake up and stop re-electing the obviously corrupt choice that I believe ALP & LNP to represent. Only an Independent stands for their electorate. The problem is when not enough "good people" stand up to do the job of representation.
Seems I used to Blog a bit about the unfairness of city legislated laws on rural people. I do have to wonder when will our political leaders give more than just lip service to the needs for amendments to many of the city legislated laws. Rural living is more expensive right across the board. I believe there should be leeway granted to fines and penalties imposed on those living in rural areas.
Confounding the familiar government narrative of reckless spending binges by Labor, the Coalition actually has the record of greater profligacy when it comes to showering billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money on external consultants.
When John Howard became prime minister, he axed 30,000 employees from the public service. But in his second and third terms in office, public service numbers rose again. They continued to rise under Kevin Rudd’s Labor government, only to taper off during Julia Gillard’s tenure and drop sharply under the present Coalition government.
Consultants’ fees, however, after rising under Howard, eased back under Rudd before falling by more than 30% under Gillard. They rose again the moment Tony Abbott assumed office, and have continued to rise, albeit more modestly, under Malcolm Turnbull.
How will government look in 20 years?
Such is the pervasive influence of corporations and consultants over government and the de-skilling of the public service (as evinced by the recent slew of IT debacles) that Australia appears headed down the road to full-blown corporatocracy.
If they rely further on external parties for expertise and policy advice, governments – both state and federal – are likely to be emasculated, entirely laid at the whim of private vested interests.
With no expertise, let alone pricing power in negotiating external fees for expert advice, there will come a heavy cost to the public.
It was recently reported that the Big Four accounting firms – PwC, EY, KPMG and Deloitte – picked up $2.6 billion over the past ten years for writing reports. That is from the federal government alone, to just the four top firms. They may have earned that again consulting to the states, though state disclosure is poor.
The crowning jewel in this cuff-linked fee-fest was a payment of almost $10 million, or $75,000 a page, for PwC to write its report on the future burden of welfare costs. This was the work that presaged the government’s strike on social security late last year and the ensuing Centrelink imbroglio.
Consultants’ reports deliver a licence for political action, an imprimatur. In light of the lavish fees, though, their authors can hardly claim to be “independent experts”.
Why could the Treasury not have penned this report? Why not the Productivity Commission? Surely, as bureaucrats, they are more independent, not susceptible to the tow of large corporate clients on the other side of a Chinese wall.
Is government captive to big business?
To put it crudely, many observers put the extravaganza of consultants’ fees down to “butt-covering”. This is just a ploy to lay the responsibility for political decisions, in case they go awry, at the feet of an external party. External reports can “test the water”, and can be tossed out without recrimination. They are so often a terrific waste of money.
There are two issues to consider then: one, the encroaching influence of private power over public policy; and two, the enormous expense to taxpayers in private firms penning reports that government departments and agencies could just as easily prepare.
Further to this rising sway of vested interests, there is also the incursion of corporate power in government in a physical way, via secondments.
As is the case with secondments, there is little in the way of transparency or decent policy in the arena of staff movement despite the inevitable influence it exacts over government policy. Not to put too fine a point on it, state and federal governments are infested with industry people whose influence on policy is undeniable.
The multinationals’ hidden hand
While consultancies, political donations, secondments and staff movements magnify corporate influence over government, an equally sinister trend is playing out in the world of multinational corporations.
Many observers of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership have expressed alarm that the fine print to the TPP draft agreement contains Investor-State Dispute Settlement clauses, or ISDS as they are known. These are mechanisms that allow corporations to sue governments by claiming a change in a nation’s policies has adversely affected their business.
Indeed, more than 120 cases have been filed internationally under various “free trade” agreements. Water and waste management giant Veolia sued the government of Egypt for lifting the minimum wage. Canada is being sued for a ban on fracking. Germany was sued for its phasing out of nuclear power. All these actions were taken under ISDS clauses in free trade pacts.
Surely ISDS clauses, as anti-democratic and anti-national interest as they are, are concocted and consented to by bureaucrats and politicians perverted by the influence of the very same legal and advisory firms whose multinational clients stand to benefit from ISDS lawsuits. The game is stitched up. Transparency is key, yet there is zero public visibility of these machinations.
Tax, too, is an arena of supreme conflicts of interest. While heavy staff cuts have hit the Australian Tax Office under both Liberal and Labor governments, multinational tax avoidance is rife. And the very advisers to government on tax, the Big Four accounting firms, are the tax advisers to almost the entire global community of multinationals. The answer here is to split these firms along tax, audit and advisory lines.
No longer are these corporations “bodies corporate” with their own boards of eight or so directors whose duty is to serve the interests of the local corporate entity. Rather, they have gradually morphed into puppet regimes.
Across the board, local company directors have become “undisclosed agents” for their global headquarters, mere stooges expected to transfer pre-tax profits to tax havens every year rather than act according to the intent of Australian corporations and tax laws.
So, the big law firms and accounting firms that advise governments and reap billions in taxpayers’ money for doing reports have a conflict of interest as they act also for large corporate clients.
Should the world’s largest corporations continue to grow and the authority of governments and regulators continue to wither, ordinary citizens will bear the brunt of the consequences.
Over recent decades, rising inequality has accompanied the march towards corporatocracy. It is a relentless process of influence-peddling, complex financial transactions, cunning legal tweaks that evade public scrutiny and pernicious restructuring dressed up as “efficiencies” or “streamlining”.
In its attempts to cut costs, the Tax Office tried to introduce a scheme whereby the duty of tax compliance for Australia’s largest companies was outsourced to none other than the company auditors. The foxes were very nearly in charge of the henhouse.
Along with the disasters of privatisation, such self-compliance regimes (the corporate regulator ASIC once espoused “co-regulation” with industry bodies) can only entrench corporate power at the expense of public interest. They don’t work. After all, it is the job of companies to make money and the job of regulators to regulate.
Together, captive regulators, a shrinking public service (smaller than it was a decade ago on the basis of permanent employees), the proliferation of consultants and the rise of lobby groups and political donations, alongside an obeisant and compromised media, have delivered policy stasis.
Significant reform in Australia, indeed significant reform by any Western government, is now fiendishly difficult. The tail is wagging the dog; the long tail, that is, of powerful vested interests whose purpose is wealth creation, not public interest.
Now, at a time when the Coalition is moving to cut social security benefits for the most needy, it is ready to sling $1 billion to Indian billionaire Gautem Adani to build the world’s biggest new thermal coal mine.
While the government struggles to fund the NDIS to assist the disabled – and in an age where underwater drone technology is viable – it is prepared to splash $150 billion to build, man and maintain a submarine fleet. Not a squeak of dissent from the federal opposition, for fear it might be wedged as weak on national security.
The icing on this cake of corporate welfare is the government trying to shunt through a $50 billion corporate tax package when its multinational beneficiaries don’t pay their fair share of tax in this country anyway – if anything at all.
These three policy decisions – corporate tax cuts, subs and fossil fuel subsidies – are enough evidence of the power of the hidden hand of corporate and political interests.
This writer is no fan of a large public service per se, only of an efficient and independent public service, of public servants properly doing the job they were appointed to do. And a robust watch needs to be kept on procurement of consultants.
It may seem too late to arrest the inexorable rise in the influence of powerful corporations and the Big Four partnerships over government. Ironically, in the execution of this column, we met with much dithering and eventually stonewalling from the Australian Public Service Commission when attempting to request information.
That did not engender confidence. Yet, arresting the slide comes down to public awareness of all these things. Social media should help.
Only ten years ago corporate tax avoidance was not on the public radar. Now tax fairness has come to the fore; people understand that the richest institutions among us, those who can afford to pay the most, pay proportionately the least.
Efforts by politicians to hike the GST, lower corporate taxes or lift other taxes on ordinary workers are also loudly derided. Multinational tax avoidance is no longer a secret. It is now understood for what it is. The Double Dutch Irish Sandwich no longer bewilders; it is now widely debunked as a scam.
Public understanding and transparency are therefore everything. The public funds government, voters are entitled to disclosure, and they should demand it.
Hello bloggy my old friend.. I’ve come to talk with you again.. (apologies to S&G)
What am I not seeing here? Can someone please tell me what I have got wrong with this flowchart? Because if this is correct.. Why the hell are people right wing voters?
Do you see how they use society against itself? We give them a voice so they may tear down our society for greed.
They have no interest in "helping people" they only care for economic gains.
We all know that sooner or later we die. Rich or poor we all have the same leveller.
How do the rich peacefully go to their graves knowing that their actions or inactions have caused the suffering of countless people over the years?
Why do they continue with this ideology knowing full well that people suffer and die as a result?
Have they no morals? Have they no compassion? Have they no humanity?
The politicians who have determined it acceptable to represent this ideology should be all thrown in jail and their assets seized.
IMO If you do the crime.. then do the time..
Would at least 1 Million people march in every capital city each November the 5th? All wearing "The Mask" as a show of solidarity with the Anonymous movement?
That's a "take" for the silver screen.. Not today's reality... That's a "news report" on fox.. THAT IS THE END GAME!
There needs to be a lot more corruption exposed before "the people" will march in numbers like that.
The public are not stupid. They are simply misled by Corporate owned Main Stream Media.
The political agenda's of the owners of Main Steam Media need to be exposed to the public. The corruptions of the Corporations need to be exposed so as to lessen their influence further.
Anonymous slowly forces PUBLIC TRANSPARENCY onto governments with the sheer weight of opinion directed at politicians and corporations via social media.
The Corporations and the Corrupted need to understand once and for all. There is a new game in town. It is called the Internet. It has REPLACED your old Media control of the masses. You do not control it. Public opinion is the new democracy.
Did at least 1 million people march in each capital city on the 5th of November? Perhaps not in the streets. But on the internet?? That's another thing entirely. Yes. Social media was "abuzz" with Anonymous activity on the 5th of November.
The only thing the "authorities" can try and do now is SMEAR the Anonymous movement. I am personally surprised that the "authorities" haven't dressed up some terrorists in masks to attempt to have the whole movement declared "outlawed" yet.
(I am expecting it tho.. I even hesitated giving them the idea.. But it is so obvious they must be keeping it for the "end game".)
Remember: The symbols of freedom may change. But the goal is always the same and THAT is the thing that scares the shit out of the corrupted elite.
IMO: The Youth Detention Royal Commission should include all Australian States and Territories
Brian Martin QC
Justice Martin made his mark as a jurist capable of handling large challenging cases.
The man chosen to head the royal commission into youth detention in the Northern Territory has an intimate understanding of the legal landscape of the Top End and a long history of dealing with high-profile court cases.
Terms of Reference
In a joint statement, Mr Turnbull and Attorney-General George Brandis said the inquiry would examine:
• Failings in the child protection and youth detention systems of the Government of the Northern Territory;
• The effectiveness of any oversight mechanisms and safeguards to ensure the treatment of detainees was appropriate;
• Cultural and management issues that may exist within the Northern Territory youth detention system;
• Whether the treatment of detainees breached laws or the detainees’ human rights; and
Whether more should have been done by the Government of the Northern Territory to take appropriate measures to prevent the re-occurrence of inappropriate treatment.
Please take the time to read this post, it is very long but I really need you to do this.
Please take 5 minutes to read this man's story. I am not sure how clear this doctors report will be so I will write the contents here.
I am writing this in my capacity as a visiting medical officer, consultant physician in infectious diseases and hepatology.
This letter is to support Mr xxxxxxxhas end stage liver disease secondary to alcohol abuse and hepatitis C virus.
Clinically, this means his blood pressure is extremely low, he requires fluid draining from his abdomen at least weekly. His blood is unable to clot properly.
His liver and kidney function is getting worse. He requires close attention by doctors and nurses who are specialists in managing end stage liver disease.
Currently he has limited mobility and is likely to faint or pass out on minimal exertion.
Unfortunately, Mr xxxxxx is receiving maximal therapy for his conditions. The prognosis is extremely poor.
His life expectancy is measured in weeks, perhaps 2/3 months at most.
This letter was dated the 10th of June 2016 one month ago, his life expectancy is now 1/2 months.
This man was told yesterday by Wollongong Hospital that he would be discharged from hospital that day.
He was scared he would have no emergency accommodation after discharge. He was afraid of being sent to Sydney and “dying on the streets”.
He rang Wollongong Homeless Hub after being given the number by a social worker at the hospital. We had no idea the state he was in, and he was told to come to the Hub for support.
He walked to the Wollongong Homeless Hub from the hospital to seek assistance.
After an initial intake assessment: the support worker phoned the only men’s support service in the Wollongong, Shoalhaven area and was told they had no vacancies.
The Hub provided a toiletry pack and clothing including slippers. He told us that he did not feel well enough to be back on the streets so we drove him back to the hospital as he had not been officially discharged and still had the canular fitting attached.
The Hub then went and bought him pyjamas as he had none and took them up to the hospital about an hour later. We were then told he had been discharged and that he was going to Housing NSW One Place Coniston.
I was told the Social Worker had phoned and made this appointment for him.
I asked was he being transported to Coniston and was told no, but his belongings were being held for when he came back.
The Hub then phoned Housing NSW to follow up :just making this part clear (Housing NSW provided him with emergency accommodation for the night in a hotel and gave him a transport voucher to pick up belongings and go to the hotel. )
He had accommodation until 10am the next day - today- and then was to re-present at Housing today at 2pm. (where should a person in that physical condition go during that 4 hours ?)
The Hub then phoned Wollongong hospital and spoke with social worker advocating for him to be able to remain in the health system in hospital or pallative care.
We were told he had been assessed for pallative care but he did not meet the criteria as yet -but when he did he would be admitted. (How close to death do you have to be, to meet the criteria??)
This morning we attempted to phone him and could not make contact, we wanted to see if we could provide any support or transport to his meeting with Housing.
We then went to Housing at the time of his appointment and was told he was a no show. Housing phoned the Motel and he had checked at the required 10am, we then went to the hospital looking for him with no luck. We were very concerned for his welfare and phoned the police.
During this time another support worker from the Hub was continuing to phone him and managed to make contact he had left the area seeking assistance south of Wollongong and was back in another hospital as he required his stomach to be drained urgently. Less than 24 hours after being deemed fit for discharge.
He then was able to fill us in on what had happened since we dropped him at Wollongong Hospital yesterday;
The Hospital Social Worker made the appointment for housing and told him he was to present there, Housing required him to have a current bank statement and centrelink proof of income before they could assist him.
He walked to Centrelink and then the bank. Due to time restriction and his poor mobility he missed the bus- afraid of missing his chance of emergency accommodation appointment he then walked all the way to Coniston.
I am aware this post is long, and I thank you for perservering;
Share this post if you believe like us that as a society we need to do better:
Share if you believe we have to provide flexible service delivery in a humane manner:
Share if you believe everyone has the right to die with dignity:
Share if you would be horrified, if this was your brother, father, grand father or son:
Sex & Marijuana Parties To Share Joint Senate Tickets
A New Socially Progressive Coalition Emerges
The Australian Sex Party and the Marijuana (HEMP) Party have reached an historic agreement to win seats at the coming federal election. The parties will share joint tickets in a number of states in an effort to win the last two Senate seats in each jurisdiction. Under the new Senate voting rules the last two seats in many states are an unknown quantity.
Details of the new coalition will be announced at the Sex/Marijuana (HEMP) Party Queensland Senate launch, this Sunday in Brisbane.
The new coalition will appeal strongly to voters with its socially progressive and economically prudent policies. The agreement would appear to be the first of its kind between minor parties in Australian politics and is in line with the urging of political commentators like Antony Green, following the new voting laws.
The parties will combine their resources and votes in Queensland, Tasmania, SA, WA, NT and the ACT. In NSW the parties will run separate tickets but will preference each other.
Australian Sex Party leader and Victorian Upper House member, Fiona Patten, said the arrangement created a new and exciting progressive coalition for Australia, that would give voters a real alternative to the dry and regressive policies of the three major parties.
‘The major parties have not delivered on so many important progressive social reforms and as a result, Australia looks like the Hermit Kingdom of the southern hemisphere”, she said. ‘Dying with dignity, marriage equality, legal medical Cannabis and legal recreational Cannabis have all had their advocates in the major parties but nothing has happened. The same is true for taxing the church, prison reform, standardised abortion laws, humane processing of asylum seekers and access to affordable legal aid”.
Ms Patten pointed to her record of getting socially progressive issues off the ground in Victoria since becoming a member of the Victorian Upper House in late 2014. ‘Progressive minor parties have a real ability to push the traditional parties forward. If elected to the Senate we will change Australia’s social environment to more like those of progressive European countries and the more progressive US states’, she said.
Marijuana (HEMP) Party spokesperson, Andrew Kavasilas said that Cannabis was the most widely used illicit drug in Australia. ‘We’re calling for a meaningful approach to medical Cannabis that addresses the concerns and needs of hundreds of thousands of Australians currently using it for medical purposes’ he said. ‘Successive governments have continually avoided our farmers as they called for hemp seed food approval to allow them to access international markets. We want to be involved in the political discussions about how Australia regulates and taxes an ongoing Cannabis industry worth a reported $5 billion a year.’
Almost half of all Australians have used Cannabis at some point. ‘The nation’s pot smokers want to be treated in the same way as the nation’s drinkers’, he said. ‘Responsible use within a legal, regulated framework would empty Australia’s jails and put billions of dollars into the economy as has happened in Colorado and other US states. If marijuana were to replace alcohol as the major social tonic in society, there would be less aggression on the streets, lower road tolls, less domestic violence, better sleeping patterns, more creative work output and less vomit on the streets’.
He also said that Marijuana (HEMP) Party supporters had pioneered medical Cannabis in Australia over 30 years ago and had brought the issue to the forefront of Australian politics. ‘The major parties will continue to stall on medical Cannabis even though they are all nodding their heads’ he said. ‘Like gay marriage and taxing religion they all know that the majority of people want it but they can’t let go of their old attitudes. If we are elected, the SEX/HEMP coalition will make them wake up to themselves in ways they would never have dreamed of’.
Fiona Patten said that she would be in attendance at the launch along with journalist, blogger and Board Member of the Rationalist Society of Australia, Hugh Harris. Also in attendance will be Sex Party lead Senate candidate, Robin Bristow, Marijuana (HEMP) Party candidate Michael Harding and Sex Party candidate, Kirsty Patten.
Launch of the SEX/HEMP Joint Ticket Campaign and Queensland Senate Campaign: Sunday, 29 May 2016 at 10:00 AM :Mantra Hotel – 161 Grey Street, Southbank, Brisbane.