Saturday, 29 February 2020

Meme of the Week


Hat Tip to Shaun Micallef

Quotes of the Week


"As the press gallery ate up Shearer Scotty, down the road taxpayers were being fleeced." [Social media commentator Ronni Salt writing in Crikey on 17 February 2020 about the rorting of  government funding during the 2019 federal election campaign]

“If there was a case of a young white boy with blond hair who later dabbled in class A drugs, and conspired with a friend to beat up a journalist, would he deport that boy? Or is it one rule for black boys from the Caribbean and another for white boys from the United States?” [UK Labour Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn asking a question in Parliament on 12 February 2020 which contained a thinly disguised description of Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson]

Friday, 28 February 2020

If you have ever wondered how Scott Morrison forms his opinions on everything from climate change & coal mining to taxation & punishing the poor......


Scott John Morrison does not appear to be a man with an abundance of intellectual curiosity, his employment history* is lacklustre with most of positions he held lasting less than 3 years and, his work ethic is not strong given he granted himself three holiday breaks in the first full year of his primeministership.

So to whom (besides the Institute of Public Affairs) does Morrison turn to when he is deciding his policy positions?


A clue might be found here......

 Michael West Media, Hon Scott Morrison MP, excerpt, 2020:


Mining Connections
John Kunkel, the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff: before his appointment to his current position by Morrison in 2018, Kunkle served as Rio Tinto’s chief advisor for Government Relations, working as a lobbyist for the multinational mining firm. Rio is one of Australia’s top coal miners. Before this Kunkel was Deputy CEO of the Mineral Council of Australia for over six years.

Brendan Pearson, Senior Advisor for International Trade and Investment for the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) 2019 to present. Pearson was the CEO of the MCA from 2014 untl 2017, where BHP Billiton pressured the MCA over Pearson’s radically pro-coal stances and insistance on government-subsidised coal projects.

Lobbying Connections
Former mining lobbyists who now hold key positions within Morrison’s staff include The Prime Minister’s Principal Private Secretary, Yaron Finkelstein, the former CEO of Crosby Textor (now C|T) a multinational lobbying firm with close ties to the Liberal Party and the mining industry. Other C|T alumni include Liberal Party campaign director, Andrew Hirst and his deputy, Isaac Levido, as well as James McGrath, LNP Senator for Queensland and prominent public advocate for Adani’s Carmichael coal mine.

A further pro-mining lobbyist connection is Stephanie Wawn. Wawn is a
senior advisor to Morrison and was previously employed as a manager for CapitalHill Advisory. CapitalHill’s clients included coal miner Glencore and pro-coal think tank, the Menzies Research Centre.

Media Connections
Another way in which the mining lobby exerts influence is via the Prime Minister’s communications team. Many of Morrison’s senior communications team have long-held ties to the Murdoch press. News Corporation is pro-coal and anti climate change.

Positions taken by News Corp staffers in the Prime Minster’s office include Matthew Fynes-Clinton’s role as speech-writer. Fynes-Clinton was former deputy chief of staff and editor of The Courier Mail. Press Secretary, Andrew Carswell, formerly chief of staff at The Daily Telegraph and advisor Thomas Adolph, formerly with The Australian.

NOTES

* Jobs held since 1989:

National Manager, Policy and Research Property Council of Australia 1989-95. 

Deputy Chief Executive, Australian Tourism Task Force 1995-96. 
General Manager, Tourism Council 1996-98. 
Director, NZ Office of Tourism and Sport 1998-2000. 
State Director, Liberal Party (NSW) 2000-04. 
Managing Director, Tourism Australia 2004-06. 
Principal, MSAS Pty Ltd 2006-07.

Member iof the Australian Parliament 2007- present.


According to media reports there are still 3,544 First Home Loan Deposit Scheme places left, before another 10,000 places are opened up on 1 July 2020



According to the Commonwealth Bank, the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme is a “new initiative from the Australian Government designed to support eligible first home buyers purchase a home sooner”.

The National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC) will provide a guarantee for eligible first home buyers on low and middle incomes so that they can purchase a home with a deposit of as little as 5%.


In Yamba, Maclean and Grafton in the Clarence Valley the loan eligibility cap is a residential property valued at $450k. This same cap appears to apply to all of the NSW Northern Rivers region.

This cap deliberately limits the type of property which can be purchaed under the Scheme because it is only available for the purchase of a modest home, or the purchase of land and construction of a modest home”.

In certain areas there may be a small problem attached to having such a low property value limit to eligibility for the scheme. A residential property at $450k or less in the Northern Rivers regions is usually only a two bedroom freestanding house or unit/duplex - hardly suitable for a family with more than one child.

The sheme is available to low to middle income eaners over 18 years of age. There is no upper age limit restriction, so an applicant could easily be in their late 50s.

The upper income limit before a person becomes ineligible to apply for this concession is $125k for singles and $200k for a couple.

The scheme will support up to 10,000 home loans each financial year, starting from 1 January 2020, through a panel of participating lenders including the Commonwealth Bank.”

According to media reports there are still 3,544 First Home Loan Deposit places left, before another 10,000 places are opened up on 1 July 2020.

Thursday, 27 February 2020

New Zealand National Party is a riven as its Australian cousin


Rod Emmerson

News Hub NZ, 19 February 2020:

Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross is facing charges which carry a prison term of up to seven years if convicted. Name suppression has been lifted for the four people charged by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) over donations to the National Party. 

Ross, who made the donation allegations in the first place, is one of them.

The other three are Zhang Yikun, the wealthy Chinese businessman who allegedly offered a $100,050 donation to National; Colin Zheng, Zhang's business partner and prospective National Party candidate; and Hengjia Zheng. 

In a statement made exclusively to Newshub and NZ Herald Ross made a plea, "I was the whistleblower and as a result ever since I have been attacked by the party and its supporters for bringing this matter to the attention of the nation. 

"Some seek to make me out as the bad guy, while that may be convenient spin for the party I will not be the National Party’s fall guy". 

If the case goes to trial Ross is promising to provide evidence to back up his claims, "it will then be clear who is behind any scheme but the public statements from Mr Bridges and the party that they had no involvement is simply not true."....

Read the full article here.

The $100,050 donation in question was made by a NZ-registered company Inner Mongolia Rider Horse Industry NZ, owned by Chinese billionaire Lang Lin.

Morrison has now slumped to the lowest likeability of any Australian leader since Andrew Peacock in 1990


The Canberra Times, 18 February 2020:

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, whose popularity has taken a big hit over the summer. Picture: Karleen Minney

It will be no surprise to Scott Morrison that his handling of the bushfires was a major political setback, and the latest set of polling only confirms the extent. The question will be whether the mud sticks.

Morrison sailed through last year's election on a high, with a likeability rating of 5.1, not great by historic standards, but higher than any party leader since Labor's Kevin Rudd after winning the 2007 election.

He has now slumped to the lowest of any leader since Andrew Peacock in 1990, and below the record low that Bill Shorten put on the scoreboard as Labor leader last year. Shorten had a dismal likeability rating of 3.97 in the ANU Election Study; Morrison has now scored 3.92 in a January poll by the ANU's Centre for Social Research.

It was personal. Half the people polled were asked to think about the performance of Scott Morrison when judging how good or bad a job the government had done on the bush fires; the other half was told to think about the performance of the government. You guessed it. When prompted by reference to Morrison, 64 per cent said the government had done a bad or very bad job, compared with 59 per cent when thinking about the government more broadly.

Anthony Albanese moved up in popularity, from 4.87 in June to 5.04 now - the highest of any Labor leader since Kevin Rudd at his peak in 2007, and higher than Mark Latham and Paul Keating.

The same message came from the Newspoll, which showed Labor overtaking the Coalition in the preferred prime minister ranks in January, for the first time since a brief hit from the Liberal leadership turmoil in August 2018. In September last year, 50 per cent of voters preferred Morrison for prime minister, against Anthony Albanese's 31 per cent, according to Newspoll. By January, Albanese was on 43 per cent and Morrison 39. Worse, Morrison's satisfaction rating went through the floor.

"I've got a thick skin," Morrison said on Monday when asked about criticism of him at the bush fire relief concert. "And I understand that over the period of the summer, you know, that people felt really raw about things ... My response is just to do things and get things done."….

But to date, Morrison has essentially failed to present any kind of ambitious reform agenda or coherent plan. As a result his Prime Ministership has turned into an endless round of inadequate and misguided responses to disaster, crisis and scandal…...

In the ANU survey just after the election last year, 45 per cent of people said the government should allow new coal mines; now only 37 per cent think so. As banks and big investors stop lending to thermal coal and turn their attention also to reducing investments in oil and gas, Morrison needs to align himself with the inevitable and start leading on new ideas for regional and remote communities.

He needs a better idea than the only one he seems to have rattling around in the top drawer - throwing more cash at the regions. Cash is handy, but it is not a reason for confidence or hope.

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

It appears that almost singlehandedly Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison may have sunk his own government.


"Around 77.8 per cent of the population reported indirect exposure, by having a friend or family member that had property damage; friend/family that had property threatened; had their travel/holiday plans affected; were exposed to the physical effects of smoke; or felt anxious or worried. This equates to around 15.4 million adults." ["Exposure and the impact on attitudes of the 2019-20 Australian Bushfires" 2020]

In January 2020 the ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods and the Social Research Centre collected data from more than three thousand Australian adults from the probability sample ‘Life in Australia’ about their exposure to the bushfires that occurred across the spring and summer of late 2019 and into early 2020. 

Researchers also asked about a range of attitudes towards the environment, institutions, and political issues. 

Data from the January 2020 ANU poll was able to be linked to previous polls at the individual level.

This is the result........

Biddle, N, Edwards, B, Herz, D & Makkai, T, (2020) "Exposure and the impact on attitudes of the 2019-20 Australian Bushfires":

Abstract 

The bushfires that occurred over the 2019/20 Australian spring and summer were unprecedented in scale and wide in their geographic impact. 

Between 20 January and 3 February 2020, the ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods and the Social Research Centre collected data from more than three thousand Australian adults about their exposure to the bushfires, as well as a range of other attitudes and beliefs. 

We estimate that the vast majority of Australians (78.6 per cent) were impacted in one way or another either directly, through their family/friends, or through the physical effects of smoke. 

Furthermore, we estimate that around 2.9 million adult Australians had their property damaged, their property threatened, or had to be evacuated. 

This is the first estimate of self-reported impacts on that scale from a nationally representative, probability-based survey. 

Our survey findings also show that subjective wellbeing amongst the Australian population has declined since the start of spring 2019, people are less satisfied with the direction of the country, and have less confidence in the Federal Government. 

People are more likely, however, to think that the environment and climate change are issues and a potential threat to them, with a significant decline in the proportion of people who support new coal mines. 

By linking individuals through time, we are also able to show that some of these changes are attributable to exposure to the bushfires.

DOCUMENT Exposure_and_impact_on_attitudes_of_the_2019-20_Australian_Bushfires_publication.pdf (PDF685.59 KB):


General satisfaction with life before and after the bushfire season 

In the October 2019 ANUpoll 65.2 per centsaid they were either satisfied or very satisfied with the way the country is heading. By January 2020 this had declined to 59.5 per cent of adult Australians. 

Over the same period, there was a small (but significant) average decline in life satisfaction from 7.05 (on a scale from 0 to 10) to 6.9. 

Levels of confidence in institutions 

Confidence in the federal government declined by 10.9 percentage points from October 2019 to 27.3 per cent by January 2020. 

Confidence in other institutions was quite stable over the period, and higher than for the Federal Government. In January 2020: 

• 48.8 per cent of the population had confidence in the public service (52.1 per cent in October 2019); 

• 73.8 per cent had confidence in the police (75.8 per cent in October 2019); 

• 40.4 per cent had confidence in the State/Territory Government where they lived (not asked in 2019); and 

• 93.0 per cent reported confidence in organisations responsible for firefighting in regional or rural areas (not asked in 2019). 

Voting patterns between October 2019 and January 2020 

The per cent of people who said they would vote for the Coalition if an election was held that day declined from 40.4 per cent in October 2019 to 34.8 per cent in January 2020. 

The largest relative increase (8.8 per cent to 10.5 per cent) was for those who would vote for a party other than the Coalition, Labor, or the Greens. 

Views on party leaders between June 2019 and January 2020 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s average rating declined from 5.25 to 3.92 out of 10. 

Leader of the Opposition Anthony Albanese’s average rating increased from 4.87 to 5.04. 

Changes in attitudes towards the environment 

49.7 per cent of people reported aspects of the environment as the most important issue or second most important issue facing Australia in January 2020 compared to 41.5 per cent in October 2019. 

Reporting fires, natural disasters or extreme weather as the most or second most important issue were close to non-existent in October 2019. This increased to 10.2 percent by January 2020. 

Concern about most specific issues increased from 2008 to January 2020, with the greatest increase for: 

• loss of native vegetation or animal species or biodiversity (a 13 percentage point increase); 

• drought and drying (a 9 percentage point increase). 

Support for new coal mines have declined since the May 2019 election. In June 2019 45.3 per cent said yes to the question ‘In your opinion, should the Government allow the opening of news coal mines?’. This had declined to 37.0 per cent in January 2020.

Capital cities versus the rest 

There is majority support by residents in both capital and those living outside of capital cities that global warming is very serious, and that global warming will be a threat to them. These views are more strongly held by capital city residents. 

Only 35.6 per cent of capital and 40.1 per cent of non-capital city residents support new coal mines and there is no statistically significant difference in views between the two. 

Did exposure to the bushfires affect changes in satisfaction, confidence or voting intentions? 

Direct or indirect exposure to bushfires did not statistically affect changes in life satisfaction between October and January. 

Indirect exposure to the bushfires affected levels of confidence in government and satisfaction with the direction of the country. Those exposed reported greater declines in both confidence and satisfaction. 

Although there was no significant direct affect from the bushfires on reporting a change in voting intention, exposure to the bushfires was associated with a significant decline in the likeability of Prime Minister Scott Morrison......

It appears that almost singlehandedly Australian Prime Minister & Liberal MP for Cook Scott John Morrison - aka #ScottyFromMarketing - may have sunk his own government.