INLAND RAILWAY- POLITICS OF DISASTER

Back in the days of his prime, Barnaby Joyce announced that the Coalition Government had allocated 9.5 billion dollars for the construction of the Inland Railway.

He had demanded this from Malcolm Turnbull as the price for National Party cooperation at the time of Turnbull’s coup to topple Abbott.

Turnbull reluctantly agreed, but insisted that it had to be funded ‘off balance sheet’, ie, not taken from general taxpayer revenue in the next Budget, but funded by loans to be taken out by the Federal Government’s own railway company, ARTC (Australian Rail Track Corporation) against its balance sheet. Future revenue would pay back the loans.

This was mentioned only in the fine print of the public announcement. Most voters think it is being funded by regular government grants.

In other words, Barnaby Joyce proceeded with the project without allocating one cent of government funds to it. This means that his in-depth commitment to it has been Nil. It was simply a vote getting stunt. Continue reading “INLAND RAILWAY- POLITICS OF DISASTER”

THE YEAR THAT NEVER WAS

2018 has been the most pointless of my 87 years.

Nothing dreadful happened to me or Australia. It was just a boring time of decadent politics and absent ethics in which not one inspiring thing happened and there was much to lament.

There are many regrettable issues that deserve a mention, but I will talk about just three.

The Royal Commissions on Child Abuse and Aged Care.

The Royal Commission on Banking

The demise of Malcolm Turnbull.

I write, not as a lament, but in the hope of working out how we can make sure they are never repeated. There simply has to be a better way to run our country. Continue reading “THE YEAR THAT NEVER WAS”

VALE LIBERALS FOREVER

For 75 years, the Liberal Party of Australia has been a respected and enduring institution of our nation which will be remembered kindly for many notable achievements.

However, it is breathing its last and rigor mortis will set in very quickly and permanently.

Its record over the past few years has been so lamentable that few will weep.

The death spiral began when Fraser illegally removed Whitlam in 1975, then governed with such a guilty conscience that he will be remembered as a very dismal Prime Minister.

Temporarily, Howard steadied the ship, but the rot set in when Turnbull ruthlessly destroyed Nelson and Abbott replaced Turnbull in as stupid a ballot as has ever been held.

Abbott’s reign in Opposition and Government was as close to insanity as can be imagined and Turnbull let down Australia in everything that he did and did not do, a huge disappointment to me personally and many like me.

Now Morrison is an illegitimate Prime Minister, not accepted in this high office, as he was put there by 45 people, most of whom the nation disrespects.

It is all over. Nothing can save the Liberals, absolutely nothing. Continue reading “VALE LIBERALS FOREVER”

THE AUSTRALIAN WAY

Pauline Hanson, Tony Abbott and Cory Bernardi all say that they are totally committed to the defence of the Australian Way of life. But, they differ broadly when they endeavour to explain to us what it is they are defending.

Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten have differing versions of the Australian Way, but both also disagree with some of what Hanson, Abbott and Bernardi have to say.

So, how does the average Aussie punter work out what it is we are all supposed to be promoting and defending?

Embarrassingly for more moderate citizens, there seem to be some broad areas of common bias.

The primary one is a strong belief that Australia must be defended from hordes of immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers, as well as foreign workers and investors who bring with them sharia law and burkas and terrorists. Added to this is a primitive view that gays, lesbians and aborigines represent a threat to ‘decent’ society.

So, how do we find common ground on what it is in Australian life we should be standing up for as we try to curb the influence of those supposed ‘infidels’ and, much more formidably, how can we achieve it? Sadly, too many seem to believe that the creation of an atmosphere of fear is a good way to begin. Continue reading “THE AUSTRALIAN WAY”

DEATH OF A PARLIAMENT

In my schooldays in the bush, the farmers around my little timber town often had the unpleasant task of putting down an animal that was in such bad shape that the most humane step was to end its existence.

Last week, I spent three days at Parliament in Canberra meeting MP’s and Senators – 33 of them in all – some for 15 minutes. others for half an hour. As usual, all were courteous and did their best to be helpful as I talked about plans to establish an Age Pension Tribunal, create Affordable Housing Communities, foster Intergenerational Partnerships and talk about finally achieving the vision that I have had for twenty years of building an Inland Railway.

My 33 meetings covered Liberals, Nationals, ALP, Greens and Independents as there are good people in all of them, but I could sense a background of unease everywhere.

There was a silent acknowledgement that the Parliament was not going well, actually heading towards a state of dysfunction.

The Coalition is divided into three camps – Turnbull, Abbott and those aligned to neither. The ALP is worried that the Polls constantly show that Bill Shorten is not popular personally and the other Parties are unsure as to whether there supporters might have become fickle.

The presence of death pervades the Parliament. It is ready to be put down. Continue reading “DEATH OF A PARLIAMENT”

Political Reformation

Bill Shorten has recommended to Malcolm Turnbull that they join together in a bi-partisan attempt to hold a Referendum on Constitutional Change which will enable the Australian Parliament to have four year fixed terms. To his credit, Turnbull has left the door open for further discussions.

This is a good initiative that I will strongly support and I hope that you will too.

It will enable governments to spend at least their first year of office implementing difficult policies before they inevitably become obsessed with their pressing need to hold on to power at the next election.

In addition, fixed terms will cause Prime Ministers to cease their appallingly undemocratic practice of calling elections on a political whim, treating us all as fools in the process, just as Campbell Newman did so disastrously in Queensland and Theresa May did so arrogantly in Britain.

However, a Referendum will succeed only if other constitutional changes are made at the same time. Continue reading “Political Reformation”

CARDINAL and PRIME MINISTER

Neither George Pell nor Malcolm Turnbull are experiencing happy days at the moment.

The Cardinal faces trial in a Victorian Court over significant matters relating to child abuse that are alleged to have occurred over several decades.

The Prime Minister leads a political party that is about to implode as conservatives and moderates fight an irreparable ideological battle in which he is accused of ratting on both sides.

They are the architects of their own demise.

Irrespective of their guilt or innocence, both are at the end of their days of power. Continue reading “CARDINAL and PRIME MINISTER”

BIRTH OF A RAILWAY

Shortly after John Howard was elected Prime Minister of Australia in 1996, I visited him at Parliament to outline a plan that I had to build an Inland Railway from Melbourne to Darwin via Parkes, Toowoomba, Brisbane, Gladstone, Mount Isa and Tennant Creek.

He has readily agreed to see me as I had been his honorary fund raiser for the marginal seats he had to win in order to be PM. I was not a member of the Liberal Party and had done this with no strings attached as he was an old friend, and still his.

Howard apologised and said he did not see it as a priority. He wanted to carry out all of his election promises and this was not one of them. That decision blows the theory that politicians are duty bound to repay political debts, not that I ever expected him to do so.

I decided to undertake the project privately and formed a company that I called Australian Transport and Energy Corridor Ltd which is still operating 21 years later. It is largely responsible for the decision in last Tuesday’s Budget to fund the Melbourne Brisbane section of the Inland Railway.

Let me tell you the story of two decades of persistence. Continue reading “BIRTH OF A RAILWAY”

THE YEAR THE MUSIC STOPPED

My end of year travels enabled me to take in some Christmas functions in Adelaide Melbourne Sydney and Brisbane. Inevitably, the conversations got to focus on the sad state of politics and a few facts became indelibly clear.

Malcolm Turnbull has reached rock bottom and few now listen to anything that he says. No matter whether people are left, right, centre or swingers, they are utterly unanimous in this view and highly unlikely ever to change their minds.

They are also unanimous on another matter. They do not want Bishop, Morrison or Shorten to replace him. They just want politicians to get lost.

In fact, they all see Christmas 2016 as the end of the line. It concludes a shocker of a year when the music stopped. Continue reading “THE YEAR THE MUSIC STOPPED”

Rating Malcolm

Australia has had 29 Prime Ministers – some excellent, a few worthy of special mention, many mediocre, some shockers.

I thought that I would rate them while enjoying a wee dram of superb single malt scotch whisky – Lagavulin from the Isle of Islay – as it expands my mind to a splendid level of generosity.

The result is that I rank Malcolm Turnbull at No 19, ahead of Abbott, Rudd and McMahon who shared the wooden spoon.

My reasoning is simple. He has the capacity to become a great PM, but he is a long way short of realising his potential. Continue reading “Rating Malcolm”

Goodbye Menzies

The great political party, The Liberals, formed by Robert Menzies seven decades ago, is in its death throes. It has been assassinated by right wing zealots, none of whom would have ever been welcomed into its ranks by Australia’s longest serving Prime Minister.

I was at High School when Menzies commenced his political comeback by uniting a collection of conservative parties to form The Liberals. In doing so, he declared that he was commanding the centre ground of politics in Australia, planning to push Labor to the Left and the Country Party (now The Nationals) over on to the Right. It made common sense as most Australians wanted a government without ideology that made pragmatic decisions to secure Australia’s post war prosperity.

Menzies achieved his aim for 16 years, retiring at his own timing and on his own terms. Then, the rot set in as the Liberals moved steadily to the right, finally going heavily in that direction when Tony Abbott arrived and inflicted 19th century economics and morals on the nation, sending it into decline on many fronts. Continue reading “Goodbye Menzies”

THE PURSUIT OF POWER

Malcolm Turnbull has won the 2016 Australian Election. He got there by the skin of his teeth, but no one can dispute that he is entitled to form a government.

Now, he has to make it all work for the good of Australia and for the sake of his own political future.

What a hell of a task both jobs will prove to be as he has three Opposition leaders – Abbott, Shorten and Joyce, in that order. Continue reading “THE PURSUIT OF POWER”

THE POLITICAL DISCONNECT

On election eve, I have belatedly come to the reluctant conclusion that politicians and voters actually live in totally different worlds which are light years apart.

In reality, the gap between people and the political establishment is huge, so much so that few will disagree with me when I say that politicians appear to be dwelling on a remote planet that has no affinity to the rest of us.

Even more glaringly obvious is the fact that, despite a seemingly endless campaign, neither Turnbull nor Shorten has hit the trigger that switches on voters. Indeed, they have actually switched us off with their childish fear tactics and patronising policies that are designed to buy our loyalty.

Independents and Minor Parties are in closer contact with voters mainly because they are not burdened with outdated ideology or a born to rule mentality, but they too have a way to go to bridge a yawning gap that is a national disgrace.

So, there will be a revolt on Saturday as voters exercise the only power they possess – the treasured democratic privilege of taking revenge on underperforming politicians who weigh down both the Coalition and Labor. Continue reading “THE POLITICAL DISCONNECT”

DEATH OF MAJORITY GOVERNMENTS

The Australian Election of 2016 will result in a Hung Parliament in both Houses.

This political deadlock will be profound, significant and long term, causing a long awaited upheaval in the structure of political parties.

A majority of the population will be horrified with this event, but a sizeable minority will welcome it as it will give democracy a genuine chance of working effectively. Continue reading “DEATH OF MAJORITY GOVERNMENTS”

TAX CUTS & POLITICAL SUICIDE

I respect Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison. They are intelligent, astute Parliamentarians. This makes it difficult for me to understand why they have made tax cuts the cornerstone of their election campaign.

They appear to believe that such cuts will stimulate economic growth and create jobs, but history proves this theory to be a fallacy.

In order to justify this statement, can I suggest to all my readers that you study research reports into tax cuts in USA and Australia over the past fifty years? You will find no economic or social justification for them.

The facts are that every tax cut has created some more billionaires, but few jobs down on Struggle Street. The trickle down effect has never ever trickled down and never will. Of even more concern is that on each occasion there has been a tax cut the national debt has risen. Continue reading “TAX CUTS & POLITICAL SUICIDE”

THE WINDSOR KNOT

Tony Windsor has made a decision that will change the political culture of Australia and instigate a long era of minority governments.

He will challenge Barnaby Joyce for the Seat of New England in the 2016 Federal Election and he has a better than even chance of winning, as do lots of independents across the nation. Continue reading “THE WINDSOR KNOT”

DEATH OF THE ESTABLISHMENT

In recent weeks, I have watched with acute embarrassment the appalling spectacle of Bill Shorten scaring the hell out of us about a possible increase in the GST and Malcolm Turnbull doing likewise with Negative Gearing. They treated us all as idiots.

They could have shown some common sense by acknowledging that both issues have virtues, but that thought eluded them. After all, the GST does ensure that tax evaders do pay some tax and, if the elimination of negative gearing drives house prices down, this will help young Australians buy a house and Seniors buy a small affordable home.

Their dreadful performances finally made me realise that, in actual fact, the political establishment is now dead and the public have buried it under a huge pile of disrespect. Politicians will continue to play their games, but no one will seriously listen. They are now an irrelevance. Continue reading “DEATH OF THE ESTABLISHMENT”

The Remains of a Year of Tumult

I have been around for 84 years, none of them ever boring, but 2015 has been a corker.

Happily, the two most incompetent political leaders of my era were removed from power – Tony Abbott in Canberra and Campbell Newman in Brisbane. Continue reading “The Remains of a Year of Tumult”

Century of Age Pension guessing

Andrew Fisher and Alfred Deakin met at the Melbourne Club for lunch in 1908 to agree on legislation that would give Australians an Age Pension for the first time. The figure that they chose for the initial pension was the amount they reckoned the government could afford, not what pensioners actually needed.

Since then, every government has calculated the pension the same way. Its time for us to work out what it should actually be. The best way to do it will be to establish an independent Age Pension Authority and do it with a unanimous bipartisan vote of Parliament. Continue reading “Century of Age Pension guessing”

AUSTRALIA URGENTLY NEEDS A MINISTER FOR AGEING

When Tony Abbott became Prime Minister he made an extraordinary decision not to appoint a Minister for Ageing even though the entire planet faces a huge crisis in which the population is ageing faster than at any time in the history of humanity. Continue reading “AUSTRALIA URGENTLY NEEDS A MINISTER FOR AGEING”