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Look what They’re Trying to do with Our Welfare Money!

October 24, 2014

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Under the auspices of “caring for the unemployed,” the heinous Abbott government is currently colluding with the big banks to introduce a new controversial scheme that would see welfare recipients issued with a debit card to ensure they use their benefits for things like food and clothing and not on necessities like gambling and alcohol.

The proposal was recommended by social philanthropist and erstwhile mining magnate Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest  as part of his self-published and so-called “review of indigenous employment and training,” released in August of this year.

Mr Forrest’s “welfare management scheme” would see all welfare payments to all Australians, other than age or veterans’ pensions, paid into a savings account, which would then be accessed by a “health welfare card”.

It would be fully redeemable at any Australian shop that accepts Visa and MasterCard with electronic and EFTPOS payment facilities.

The government has been examining Mr Forrest’s 256-page report, which also suggested parents should lose their family payments if their children wagged school.

This would direct “spending to purchases that sustain and support a healthy lifestyle for the recipients and any children … and to savings for larger expenses”.

When the report was handed down, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the government had “no plans” to expand welfare quarantining as widely as Mr Forrest had recommended.

However, just yesterday, the “head”of the Department of Social Services, Mr Finn Pratt (yes, that is his real name),  told a Senate committee that the government had been “talking to the banks” about the struggling mining magnate’s suggestions.

This comes after Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister Alan Tudge (yes “Tudge”), told The Gutter Trash  earlier on Thursday that he would be having “further discussions in weeks ahead with the banks in relation to [the card's] technical feasibility, its practicalities and its costs”.

He said the idea behind the card would be to prevent the “absolute destruction” which alcohol is causing in some communities.

More than 20,000 Australians currently have their incomes managed voluntarily or compulsorily around Australia in places including the Northern Territory, Perth, the Kimberley region, South Australia and Cape York, with trials in local government areas, including Bankstown, Greater Shepparton and Ceduna.

Some welfare recipients have their incomes managed to deal with issues around child protection, financial hardship. and drug and alcohol dependency.

Other people have their incomes managed simply because they have been on a particular benefit – such as Youth Allowance – for three of the previous six months.

Another scheme under consideration is to simply scrap welfare payments altogether.  This would slash the amount of welfare money spent on drugs and alcohol by almost 100% said Mr Tudge.

The current schemes, which were introduced by Coalition and Labor governments, quarantine at least half of a person’s payment for necessary items and prevent spending on things such as alcohol, cigarettes, home brew kits and pornography.

These schemes are due to end in mid 2015 and mid 2016 and so the government is considering new measures to stop the waste.

Welfare groups have warned that increasing controls around how people spent their welfare payments could backfire, arguing that existing controls already cost the Commonwealth $1 billion without producing results and stigmatise people on low incomes in the process.

But earlier this month, an evaluation found that in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands of South Australia, the introduction of voluntary income management had helped people with chronic financial management problems.

Another evaluation of trials around Australia found some people who volunteered for income management were less likely to run our of money for food and accommodation.

Greens senator Rachel Siewert said forced income management was not fair and “not the right way to treat people”.

“We know it has a detriment impact on people’s sense of control over their decision making.”

She added that Mr Forrest’s proposal would not be cost neutral to the banks.

The government will consider the Forrest recommendations together with the McClure review into the welfare system, which is due to be completed in November.

 

 

The Weekend Arts Show with TB!

October 23, 2014

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You wouldn’t think that someone, anyone in fact for that matter, from Queensland would possess any sort of artistic inclination whatsoever. And you’d be right.

However TB has turned this long-held perception on its head (despite his “quirky” dress sense) by taking this impressive black and white photograph during a trip to Fraser Island..

Nice work TB!  :)

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Scott Morrison vows to Quarantine Australia from Ebola!

October 23, 2014

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Scott Morrison is calling for his role as Immigration Minister to be expanded to cover Australia’s response to the Ebola crisis as part of “Operation Sovereign Borders.”

The Gutter Trash can reveal Morrison’s ambitious plea for expanded powers as the nation’s state and federal chief medical officers meet today to discuss the response to the deadly virus.

Ordinarily this would be consider a medical response, however Mr Morrison let his colleagues know that “he believed” that “he, and his department” could take on a larger role in responding to the Ebola outbreak.

TURNING BACK EBOLA (WHERE IT IS SAFE TO DO SO)

According to our exclusive sources, Mr Morrison wants to introduce strict new mandatory quarantine measures for anyone arriving in Australia from Ebola-affected regions of West Africa.

They said Mr Morrison flagged that a hard-lined quarantine approach could be best run by his existing Operation Sovereign Borders team.

One senior government minister told The Gutter Trash that the Immigration Minister’s approach is “annoying everyone on the National Security Committee because he’s not across all the facts on Ebola”.

“He doesn’t have access to what the chief medical officer is advising the Health Minister,” he said.

A source familiar with the Cabinet discussions said the Immigration Minister was frustrated by the approach of the chief medical officer and the way Health Department was advising the Government.

MORRISON: “OUT OF CONTROL!” SAY COLLEAGUES

Another senior Coalition source said Mr Morrison’s behaviour was “out of control” and his “ego” was “getting in the way of his judgment”.

But Mr Morrison has strongly dismissed the claims from his senior colleagues.

“Complete and utter rubbish. There has been no proposal put forward by me or my department for a greater role in relation to Ebola,” he said.

“We’re just simply doing our job and I think Peter Dutton (whoever he is) is doing an outstanding job on these issues.

“He and I have been working closely on these matters and the issue is being extremely well handled.”

In recent weeks, two ministers have publically pushed backed on incursions into their portfolios.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop made it clear she would fight any attempt to cut the foreign aid budget and scotched an idea to develop a homeland security department championed by Mr Morrison.

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce, meanwhile, was adamant he would not let responsibility for biosecurity leave his portfolio.

However The Gutter Trash can reveal Tony Abbott is believed to be impressed with Scott Morrison’s approach saying that “it makes sense to turn back Ebola where it is safe to do so.”

“We are determined to keep Australians safe. You bet you are ”he said.

 

 

 

Support for Abbott Govt slumps in latest Newspoll!

October 21, 2014

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From the files of “things you won’t read at News Limited today, “The Gutter Trash presents – Election Poll Armageddon for the Abbott Govt” (A tiny diversion into the realm of facts Production).

According to the latest Newspoll, support for the Coalition has slumped to its lowest level in three months.

Labor has increased its lead over the Coalition to 53% to 47% after preferences.

Labor’s primary vote remained steady at 34% while support for the Greens rose three points to 14% and support for independents and other parties was unchanged at 14%.

These figures translate to a two-party-preferred result of 53% for Labor (up two points since last month) and 47% for the Coalition (down two points).

Since the previous poll, the Abbott government has formally committed to military air strikes in Iraq (as part of its “humanitarian efforts”), pushed ahead with an expansion of security agency powers, issued “shirt-front” threats against Russian president Vladimir Putin, and rejected Labor’s pleas to send health teams to west Africa to help contain the spread of the Ebola virus.

The telephone poll of 1161 voters between Friday and Sunday shows the prime minister, Tony Abbott, and the opposition leader, Bill Shorten, each recorded a three-point decline in their satisfaction ratings.

About 38% of respondents said they were satisfied with Abbott’s performance while 53% expressed dissatisfaction, equating to a net approval score of minus 15 points.

Satisfaction with Shorten’s performance was 35% and dissatisfaction was 46%, or a net score of minus 11 points.

Asked to nominate their preferred prime minister, 39% opted for Abbott and 38% for Shorten.

In a one-off extra question, Newspoll asked voters whether they were in favour of Abbott’s intention to “confront” the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, over the shooting down of flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in July. About 63% expressed support while 27% were against a confrontation.

 

 

 

Senator Cormann and the Party of boy-men

October 21, 2014

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The following article is by David Hardaker is a television producer and a Walkley award winning journalist…

 

It’s been a week or so of linguistic clangers in Australia, from the Prime Minister’s “shirtfront” threat against Vladimir Putin to the “in-joke” references to “Mussies” and “Abos” by man-of-words Barry Spurr, the (suspended) Poetry Professor at the University of Sydney.

But against this stiff competition, perhaps the most regrettable of all came courtesy of Mathias Cormann.

Memo to Senator Cormann: next time, leave the jokes to the comedians. The term “girlie-man” might have left us laughing when it was used in a US comedy sketch last century but today it’s, well, a little out of step with the times.

English may be the Belgian-born politician’s second language, but Senator Cormann has previously shown a more than adequate vocabulary, especially when it comes to words like “debt, “deficit” and “disaster”, often used all in one phrase.

So why did the Senator choose to use the insult “girlie” to slap Labor leader Bill Shorten around the head for opposing the Government’s budget?

His first excuse – that the term “girlie-man” has acquired a new meaning and no longer links being weak and/or stupid with being female – doesn’t hold up. I’m afraid the idea that somehow “girlie” doesn’t refer to the idea of a girl is a subtle linguistic shift that a lot of people won’t get.

His second excuse – that he was humorously playing on his German accent by adopting the insult first popularised by Saturday Night Live’s Austrian bodybuilder characters Hans and Franz and later adopted by Arnold Schwarzenegger – is too late and too inadequate.

Schwarzenegger’s “girly man” attacks on his political opponents went down badly with many then, so it’s hard to see why anyone would think they would improve with age. And the all-testosterone Terminator turned Governator at least had the defence of self-deprecation: call it a playful boorishness.

Stripped of this context, Senator Cormann’s comments are simply boorish. And it shows that the humourless should never attempt to break out of their box.

Labor’s Penny Wong has already pointed out the obvious hurt conveyed by the comment: “What are we telling our sons and our daughters about being a girl? You’re saying it is somehow less competent, weak,” she told Sky News yesterday.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Christopher Pyne, who can always be relied on to address the politics above all, said simply, “I don’t think it is the most important issue floating past us today.”

So it appears this is a debate that will end as they always do. Critics of Senator Cormann will be told it is “political correctness gone mad”. Move on.

Yet this time, maybe we shouldn’t.

While at best it was a simply ham-fisted attempt at humour, at its worst, the Finance Minister’s comment (and the lack of a slap down from the Prime Minister) underlines again the well-traversed malaise at the heart of the present Government.

Despite years of research, sometimes by leading corporate entities, the nation’s leadership does not believe that women as a species should wield real power in public life.

Apologists, of course, will always point to the influential role of the PM’s chief-of-staff, Peta Credlin, but when it comes to the Cabinet, actions speak the loudest: there is, famously, only one woman at the table.

Smart businesses in Australia recognise an obvious truth: that if you cut out half the gene pool in your hiring and promotion policies, then your business suffers.

This is the commonest of common sense. And you don’t need to be a feminist to realise it: upright and breathing will do.

So why do people who use the rhetoric of the free market then not apply that when it comes to talent? Rather, they practice a form of protectionism based on sex (amongst other things).

The proof is that you use “girl” to denigrate someone – and then say you didn’t really mean it that way.

So forget the girlie-men. What about the “boyie-men” who have their hands on the levers of government power? Is there not a reasonable expectation that the boy-men who purport to lead us might grow up a bit?

Might they not by now recognise the simple truth that ability is not handed out according to your sex (or race or income level, for that matter)?

And this brings us to the final point about Mathias Cormann.

If none of the above applies to him, as he has asserted, and he really is a straight-down-the-line, equal-opportunity-for-all kind of guy, then why would he use words like “girlie-man” that are so capable of causing offence and thus risk alienating half the voting population?

Only a fool of a politician would do that.

 

 

 

Gough’s Gone

October 21, 2014

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Gough Whitlam, who was prime minister for just three years but became a defining political figure of modern Australia, has died aged 98.

Whitlam’s family said in a statement on Tuesday: “Our father, Gough Whitlam, has died this morning at the age of 98.”

“A loving and generous father, he was a source of inspiration to us and our families and for millions of Australians.

“There will be a private cremation and a public memorial service.”

The election of his government on 2 December 1972, with the famous “It’s time” election campaign, ended 23 years of conservative rule and its dismissal by the governor general Sir John Kerr on 11 December 1975 remains one of the most controversial events in Australian political history.

But in just three years the Whitlam government instituted sweeping changes that transformed Australian society as the baby boomer generation came of age.

In a rapid program of reform it called “the program”, the Whitlam government created Australia’s national health insurance scheme, Medibank; abolished university fees; introduced state aid to independent schools and needs-based school funding; returned traditional lands in the Northern Territory to the Gurindji people; drafted (although did not enact) the first commonwealth lands right act; established diplomatic relations with China, withdrew the remaining Australian troops from Vietnam; introduced no-fault divorce laws; passed the Racial Discrimination Act; blocked moves to allow oil drilling on the Great Barrier Reef; introduced environmental protection legislation; and removed God Save the Queen as the national anthem.

The former Rudd government minister Lindsay Tanner has written: “Whitlam and his government changed the way we think about ourselves. The curse of sleepy mediocrity and colonial dependency, so mercilessly flayed in 1964 by Donald Horne in The Lucky Country, was cast aside.”

But the Whitlam government’s economic record is more controversial. It came to power at the time of the first oil shock and failed to contain wages inflation. In 1975 it was embroiled in what became known as the “loans affair” when the minister for minerals and energy, Rex Connor, sought to borrow money for resource projects, outside normal treasurer processes, from Arab financiers using a middleman called Tirath Khemlani.

No money was borrowed but the scandal deeply damaged the government.

Whitlam won a double dissolution election in 1974, with a reduced majority. But from October to November 1975 the parliament was deadlocked, with the opposition using its numbers in the Senate to refuse to pass the budget.

When Whitlam visited Kerr to call for a half Senate election, Kerr instead withdrew his commission as prime minister and replaced him with the Liberal leader Malcolm Fraser.

Whitlam lost the election to Fraser after the national upheaval of the dismissal. He stood down as Labor leader and retired from politics in 1978.

A towering figure at 1.94m, with a deep resonant voice and an eloquent turn of phrase, Whitlam inspired a generation of progressive politicians and was widely referred to by just his first name.

His is remembered forsome of the most famous quotes in Australian politics, including while standing on the steps of the old parliament house after news of his dismissal. He said: “Well may we say ‘God save the Queen’ because nothing will save the governor general.”

He was a graduate of Knox Grammar and Canberra Grammar and joined the airforce after university, before studying law and being admitted to the bar. He married Margaret Dovey in 1942; they had four children.

He won the western Sydney seat of Werriwa in 1952 and was elected leader of the Labor party in 1967, succeeding Arthur Calwell.

After leaving politics he worked as Australia’s ambassador to Unesco, accepted several visiting professorships and, along with Margaret, received life membership of the Labor party in 2007.

Margaret died in 2012. Whitlam, by then using a wheelchair, had moved into an aged-care facility in 2010. He described her as “the love of my life”.

 

 

 

 

 

Rostrum: There’s a moon in the sky called The Moon Edition

October 16, 2014

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TB took this pic.

 

 

 

 

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