Monday 30 September 2013

A Political Mirage or Where's Kevin Hogan?

According to the Australian Electoral Commission the National Party of Australia only has 9 Members of the House of Representatives in its own right and, if  the Australian Parliament website is to be believed there are another three Nationals who presumably come under the banner of the Liberal-National Party of Queensland.

However, one of the new Nationals in the Lower House is of such importance that he has been left off the official members list on the Australian Parliament website twelve days after the Abbott Government officially took over the reins of government.

As of 30 September 2013 there is still no parliamentary evidence that the Nationals Member for Page, Kevin Hogan, exists outside the pages of mainstream media.

Here are the National Party MPs recognised on the Australian Parliament website.

At present Directory Assistance also has no listing for Kevin Hogan MP, but if one happens across old campaign literature then there is one phone number listed which is still operational - (02) 6622.7253. 

Post-Federal Election 2013: Liberal Party turns on its own 'faceless men'

the faceless men are running the Labor Party [Then Opposition Leader Tony Abbott quoted in The Australian 23 February 2012]

We will get productivity up because we are not run by faceless men—the same faceless men who dictate the policy of this government when it comes to workplace relations. [Then Opposition Leader Tony Abbott in House of Representatives Hansard, 27 February 2012]

From 2006 onwards Tony Abbott made repeated reference, both in and outside of the Australian Parliament, to faceless men in the Labor Party and held his own party up as being free from the taint of such men.

Now the Liberal Party itself is publicly coming clean about the antics of its own ‘faceless men’ in New South Wales and revealing examples of the party’s undemocratic pre-selection processes.

Prime Minister Abbott may be about to lose control of the post-election political message again, as media attention was triggered by his own apparent pursuit of payback for what he sees as NSW factional bosses costing him the 2010 federal election as well a losing him an expected ‘landslide’ victory in 2013.

ABC 7.30 25 September 2013:

Today, two party activists emailed 10,000 members urging them to support broadening a ban on party officials being lobbyists. The ban was announced by the Prime Minister last week.

And senior Liberals have called for an end to branch stacking by NSW factional bosses. They blame the practice for hampering the party's efforts to pick up seats in Western Sydney in the election....

ROSS CAMERON [former Liberal MP for Parramatta]: Same thing happened in Parramatta. The Liberal Party's constitution rewarded branch stacking. Martin Zaiter took the opportunity that it presented. We stacked in 100 Maronite Lebanese into two branches. It meant the preselection was a stitch up and it was a weak - it produced a weak outcome.... 

ROSS CAMERON: The extraordinary thing is that you can become a branch member in Parramatta, as I was, and not have the opportunity to vote for your candidate. You know, you only get to vote for the delegate who's gonna vote for the candidate, and it's that concentration of the franchise that empowers the factional boss....

But today in an email to nearly 10,000 state members, party activists John Ruddick and Walter Villatora have called for the changes to go further. "... our party is now at a crossroad," they've written. The, "NSW Liberal Party is unique ... our lobbyists (have) until now not only been influencing lawmakers ... they've been installing many lawmakers."....

ROSS CAMERON: Labor are going to steal a march on us here. And if we want to be competitive, we have to be putting forward the cream of each generation as the candidates representing ordinary Australians through the Liberal Party. And the only way we will attract them to our cause is to broaden the franchise and give them a feeling they've got a real chance....

ROSS CAMERON: You've got to take the power which is currently concentrated in the hands of a few factional leaders and you've got to push it out to the rank-and-file members.

Two Australian Prime Ministers and two attitudes to child abuse within religious organizations

This is Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard's last letter before leaving office on 26 June 2013:
This is an excerpt from the 1997 evidence given by Australian Prime Minister-elect Tony Abbott, when he was Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs, in support of an alleged paedophile priest later forcefully laicized by the Vatican:

Q. You kept up your friendship with the defendant?
A. From time to time, yes.
Q. And you saw him?
A. From time to time, perhaps once or twice every twelve months.
Q. And you've kept up that friendship until this day?
A. That's correct....
Q. First of all, how would you describe him as a man?
A. An extremely upright and virtuous man. I guess one of things that I liked very much about John when I first him, was his maturity, intellectual, social, emotional he was, to that extent I guess, a beacon of humanity at the Seminary
Q. How did he appear to get on with his peers at the at Manly?
A. Obviously we have different relations with different people. John got on extremely well with some, less well with others. I guess one of the things that marked John out from his peers at the seminary was he was a man with high expectations of himself and others and I can recall on occasions being more than a little annoyed with him, because, you know, he would want to bring me up to the mark, bring me back to the path of virtue from time to time and this didn't always go over too well with me. And I guess it could annoy others as well.
Q. But as far as his own conduct was concerned, did you ever become aware of anything which would in any way question his beliefs and his dedication as a priest?
A. Never.
Q. And you've come all the way from Sydney today to give this evidence?
A. I have indeed.
Q. You do have other duties to perform? A. I have an electorate to represent and a ministry to assist.


Sunday 29 September 2013

Taxpayers were handed the bill when Shadow Attorney-General Brandis 'conspired' against the Gillard Government at a private wedding

Apparently Australian Attorney-General George Brandis thought it appropriate when on the Opposition benches to expect taxpayers to foot some of his costs when attending a wedding at Bells Hotel, Killcare NSW, on 4 December 2011 and staying at The Mantra in Ettalong.

The Sydney Morning Herald 29 September 2013:

Senator Brandis claimed $1700, including more than $1000 on return flights, $143 on a hire car and the overnight ''official business'' allowance designed to cover accommodation and incidentals.
He told Fairfax Media on Saturday that he regarded the wedding as a chance to ''foster collaboration'' over Mr Smith's work covering the then prime minister and the Craig Thomson scandal and it was therefore ''primarily a professional rather than a social engagement''.
''These were both matters of significant national interest on which I spoke frequently in Parliament and the media,'' he wrote in a statement.
The federal Department of Finance's guidelines state MPs are allowed to claim travel and accommodation expenses for official business including ''meetings of a government advisory committee or taskforce'' or ''functions representing a minister or presiding officer''. Meeting with journalists is not a purpose sanctioned by the guidelines.....
Mr Joyce claimed a flight to Moree the next day and about $500 worth of charges for the use of a Commonwealth car on the day of the wedding. He said he could not recall whether he had other meetings that day but defended the use of public resources to attend the wedding.....

Interestingly this article reveals George Brandis was in close collaboration with the suspended Sydney radio shock jock in the very public hounding of then Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Although at the time he was rather reticent about the general public being aware of this particular ‘friendship’:

Once at the wedding Mr. Brandis apparently gave an impassioned speech in defence of Michael Smith’s pursuit of the Prime Minister and, it would appear that the bridal couple also paid some of his transportation costs as well:

For those interested in the financial details for dates associated with this wedding:

Domestic Travel 4 Dec 11 Brisbane Sydney 5 Dec 11 Sydney Brisbane $1,191.06
Com Car Brisbane 4 Dec 11 $82.83 Brisbane 5 Dec 11 $44.23
Hire Car Sydney 4 Dec to 5 Dec 11 $143.40


Subsequent to this story breaking in the mainstream media it has been reported that; 
Attorney-General George Brandis will repay almost $1700 in expenses he claimed to attend the wedding of a Sydney radio shock jock two years ago.

Although still asserting that his being a guest at the wedding was work-related, it does not appear that Senator Brandis declared the complimentary limosine supplied on 4 December 2011 in his Statement of Registerable Interests - something he might have done if that day was in fact part of his duties as a senator.

So how is Federal Coalition Treasurer Joe Hockey managing Australia's national budget?

Joe Hockey as Opposition Shadow Treasurer in The Sydney Morning Herald, 17 May 2012:

''Labor has now sought increases in the debt limit of the Commonwealth from $75 billion to $200 billion, to $250 billion and now $300 billion. On each occasion they promise not to exceed the limit. Well, enough is enough - we are going to keep them to their promises''

Joe Hockey as Federal Coalition Treasurer in The Herald Sun, 28 September 2013:

Mr Hockey also said the Coalition would raise the $300 billion debt ceiling before Christmas ...

Here are the Abbott Government’s officially announced intentions to raise money from domestic/international sources: [updated 17.12.13]

18 September intends to borrow $800 million
20 September intends to borrow $800 million
25 September intends to borrow $800 million
26 September intends to borrow $1 billion
27 September intends to borrow $500 million
2 October 2013 intends to borrow $800 million
3 October 2013 intends to borrow $800 million
4 October 2013 intends to borrow $800 million
9 October 2013 intends to borrow $800 million
10 October 2013 intends to borrow $500 million
11 October 2013 intends to borrow $800 million
16 October 2013 intends to borrow $800 million
17 October 2013 intends to borrow $1 billion
18 October 2013 intends to borrow $800 million
24 October 2013 intends to borrow $1.5 billion
25 October 2013 intends to borrow $800 million
29 October 2013 intends to borrow $200 million
30 October 2013 intends to borrow $800 million
31 October 2013 intends to borrow $1 billion
1 November 2013 intends to borrow $800 million
6 November 2013 intends to borrow $600 million
7 November 2013 intends to borrow $1.5 billion
8 November 2013 intends to borrow $1 billion
8 November 2013 intends to borrow an additional unspecified amount

12 November 2013 intends to borrow $150 million
13 November 2013 intends to borrow $800 million
14 November 2013 intends to borrow $1 billion
15 November 2013 intends to borrow $800 million
21 November 2013 intends to borrow $500 million
22 November 2013 intends to borrow $800 million
26 November 2013 intends to borrow an additional unspecified amount
4 December 2013 intends to borrow $800 million
6 December 2013 intends to borrow $1.5 billion
10 December 2013 intends to borrow $100 million

11 December 2013  intends to borrow $800 million
13 December 2013 intends to borrow $700 million
15 January 2014 intends to borrow an additional unspecified amount
24 January 2014 intends to borrow $500 million
11 February 2014 intends to borrow an additional unspecified amount

In the first 128 days of the Abbott Government total borrowings from these sources will exceed $27.7 billion or over $216.4 million a day.

It would appear that the current Federal Coalition Government is borrowing at the same a higher rate as than the former Federal Labor Government. However, It has committed to raising the debt ceiling to $500 billion before 12 December 2013.

So there is no slowing down of the increase in the much dog whistled national debt since Joe Hockey became Treasurer - just as there is apparently the same downward trend in the rate of asylum seeker boat arrivals between the second Rudd Government and the current Abbott Government.

Laughing At The One-Trick Tony: the best of #missingbudget

Crikey 22 September 2013:

The message from the Coalition has been loud, shrill and as sophisticated as a slap in the face with a cold fish. Since Tony Abbott's budget reply speech in May, he, Joe Hockey and Andrew Robb have been emphatically claiming Australia is in a state of "budget emergency." The perpetrators? Those gol-darned Reds in the Labor party.
Despite the country's AAA credit rating and that whole "one of the strongest economies in the world" thing, the former opposition have been pounding the panic button and attempting to convince as many people as possible that Australia is going to hell in a fiscally irresponsible hand basket.
For pure sensationalism and hyperbole the Coalition's so-called "budget emergency" is reminiscent of the Labor's government's tendency to declare war on everything: the war on waste, the war on binge drinking, the war on soft meat pies at the servo, etcetera.
But since the election we have heard nothing of the disastrous "budget emergency." Abbott and co have kept mum on the subject. How could such a horrible spectre disappear so quickly? Where did it sneak off to?
On the weekend an army of intrepid Twitter truth-seekers decided to go looking......

Tara-Leigh Davison @questionabubble19h
And my personal fav - #BundyBear was willing to have his pic taken in support of finding the #missingbudget Bless him
Carlie Bonavia @carliebonavia6h
Denise Hilton @denihil5h
Sorry, no printer on North Hero, Vermont, USA, or budget either. #missingbudget

Maybe @Maybeee201114h
OMG !! MT "@lukebuckmaster: Budget Emergency may have caught plane. Signs up in NY (not Photoshop) #missingbudget"

My only regret with #missingbudget hunt was medical centre & chemist were closed. I couldn't search in the cabinet of suppositories #auspol
Thought I'd found the #missingbudget, but it was just an empty Mars Bar wrapper.
Mel Watson @melwhatson51m
#missingbudget has probably eloped with #stopthegoats! Probably enjoying a well deserved honeymoon in sunny Christmas Island...

Saturday 28 September 2013

After a mere ten days there is no dignity left in the office of Australian Prime Minister under Tony Abbott

SIEV count since Abbott came to power and applied media blackout concerning asylum seeker boat arrivals.

On 18 September 2013 the Abbott Government was sworn in and Australia became subject to an official information blackout concerning the number of unscheduled boat arrivals involving people thought or known to be seeking asylum in this country.

Here are the boat details so far:

22 September - HMAS Maitland and another vessel escorts SIEV boat into Christmas Island harbour – the Cahaya Baru contains 31 passengers and 2 crew.
24 September – SIEV boat containing 7 asylum seekers arrives on Australia’s Boigu Island in the Torres Strait 
25 September - SIEV boat containing 19 people arrives at Darwin Harbour sometime during the night of the 24th or early hours of the morning of the 25th.
26 September - SIEV boat arrives Christmas Island Harbour with an estimated 80 passengers including children. HMAS Ballarat takes part in the rescue of another 44 asylum seekers in Indonesian waters with these people transferred to an Indonesian rescue vessel for return to Indah Kiat port in Java.
27 September – boat heading towards Australia and estimated to contain up to 125 asylum seekers sinks off southern coast of Java. At least 20 bodies, mostly children under 15 years, washed ashore so far. Australian Customs Vessel ACV Triton rescues 31 asylum seekers from another boat and is thought to be still at sea off Timor.

Estimated total number of boat passengers and crew: 339


30 September - 2 RAN patrol boats enter Christmas Island harbour with an estimated 80 asylum seekers (men, women and children) on board, thought to have been picked up from a boat which was either sinking or was otherwise considered unseaworthy.

Estimated total number of boat passengers and crew as of 30.09.13: 419


10 October 2013 SIEV boat with unknown number of asylum seekers on board found off Cocos (Keeling) Island.

17 October 2013 at approximately 8am HMAS Warramunga put into Christmas Island and disembarked an unknown number of asylum seekers from the Middle East and Africa. Including one 8 year-old boy, eight to ten women and two individuals requiring wheelchairs.

* Figures derived from eyewitness accounts tweeted from Christmas Island, international and national media reports.