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Melbourne’s MarchInMarch.
c/- The Age.


The fortnight began with the #MARCHinMARCH.  Over 100,000 people took to the streets because they’ve already had enough of Abbott’s policies, which seem to be so driven by ideology. The IPA, a tea-party styled think-tank, and their itemized conservative wish list is being ticked off a few items at a time.

The mainstream media didn’t cover the #MarchInMarch events despite its turn out although various St Patrick’s Day marches received prominence on page 3 of most main publications. Social media was, as usual, bitingly sarcastic about the lack of coverage. This prompted various replies but the most interesting was Jacqueline Maley’s from the SMH.

It was a grudging apology at best, but quickly descended to justification about a digital coverage of the most offensive placards she could find.  To be honest there weren’t that many. There is always going to be placards that offend present at any demonstration. I was surprised at how few there were. Of course this seemed to be that the angle that was taken by most in the mainstream media. Sky News air-headed reporter Laura Jayes had tweeted a request for people to send her their photographs of offensive placards. Well, we all knew at that point what angle Sky News was going to take in their coverage of this event. Silly woman.

Jacqueline Maley’s other main complaint was that the March in March was unfocused. I want to apologise at the outset that there isn’t a war in Southeast Asia on which we can all focus. She missed the most interesting and newsworthy aspects of this story.

This demonstration was organic in origin. It wasn’t organised by a political party, a trade union or any other institution, think-tank, association and the like. It grew organically from and through social media. It went on to resonate throughout the country. It wasn’t confined to the big cities. Marches occurred throughout all rural and regional centres. The MarchInMarch movement is a new phenomenon worthy of research and analysis by the media.

Not being driven by a single issue was one of the more newsworthy aspects of these demonstrations. Virtually all policy initiatives that have been presented by this government within the last six months were the subject of outrage by those participating.

That was the real story of #MarchinMarch.

As a result an eclectic coalition of concerned citizens has sprung to life.

THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT ARFUR:                                                      Image

To understand the significance of what a problem the Sinodinos issue is for the federal government you need to know a little bit about his background.

Arthur was one of the back-room mainstays of Howard’s term as prime minister. He left his job as Howard’s Chief of Staff with plenty of plaudits being perceived as super smart, highly competent, shrewd, intelligent and tactically astute. He went on to become the Treasurer of the Federal Liberal Party until his election to the Senate in 2011.

Sinodinos was, until a few weeks ago, the assistant treasurer as he was deamed numerate, unlike his colleague Joe Hockey who, in another highlight of the week, was challenged in understanding the difference between deficit versus debt, much to the hilarity of the other side of the House.

Sinodinos’s involvement in the highly questionable dealings of Australian Water Holdings, and his relationships with the Obeid family are currently being examined by ICAC.  This is from a man who was regarded as one of the smartest on the Front Bench. In any normal government with consideration for their appearance as being clean and above board, his return to any position of influence or authority would not be considered for a second.

But then, this is Tony Abbott’s government.


Suspension of FUTURE of FINANCIAL ADVICE Reforms:


One of the items on the IPA’s agenda has been a reform of the Labor Government’s Future of Financial Advice legislation which outlawed the previous practice of financial advisers taking commissions from companies whose investment packages financial advisors then on-sold to their clients.

Many small investors and self-funded retirees always thought this outrageous as it easily exposed them to being ripped off. Financial advisers and consultants did not have to inform their clients about any commissions they were receiving from the sale of investment packages.

The absence of regulation in this area resulted in numerous cases of abuse where ordinary people lost considerable amounts of money due to questionable advice driven by greed.

Sinodinos was one of the main proponents for this legislative change. It’s a sweet irony that his involvement with AWH has resulted in an undignified appearance before ICAC; an appearance, which will, more than likely, result in the end of any parliamentary ambitions Sinodinos may have had. It certainly raises the question as to just how professionally and financially astute he really is. His reputation for being one of the smartest men in the room is no longer viable as a Government commodity that can easily be sold to the electorate.

This issue will not disappear quickly as Mr Sinodinos’s role as AWH’s chairman and director must surely be further scrutinised by other appropriate authorities.


Attorney-General BRANDIS and the RIGHT TO BEING A BIGOT                                    


The attorney general, George Brandis, introduced his amendments to the Racial Discrimination Act, in particular section 18, which are are now known as the Bolt amendments so named after that well-known shock jock, Andrew Bolt. Mr Bolt’s continual whinge has been against those aspects of the law which prevent him from pursuing what he perceives is his right to be a racist, bigot, misogynist and all round not very nice person.

In introducing the Bolt amendments to the act Brandis managed to shoot himself in the foot by stating, “It’s everyone’s right to be a bigot.” The fact is there are many bigots, racists, homophobes, misogynists etc, out there, but they don’t want to be reminded that they are bigoted, racist, misogynistic, homophobic et al. Brandis, in one little line, did just that, and a storm of outrage from a broad-based community was the result. 

Any changes to this piece of legislation were always going to be fraught with danger. Brandis’s mismanagement of the introduction and promotion of the Bolt amendments is further indicative of a government that is increasingly being described as Australia’s most inept yet.

The changes to the Racial Discrimination Act are now being put on the backburner as the Government scuttles about looking for more acceptable amendments that they might be able to sell. The New South Wales Premier, Barry O’Farrell, sealed the Bolt amendments delayed fate by stating publicly that these amendments were unacceptable.

Bolt must be furious.




The twitter reaction to Abbott’s resurrection of titular monikers was hilarious. Within minutes of his announcement twitter handles throughout Australia were being changed to reflect his anachronistic move back to the future.

It would have been far more appropriate to announce this on April 1st, but that would’ve prevented Abbott’s using Quentin Bryce as a political pawn in his idiosyncratic move. No discussion was had in Cabinet, much less the coalition party room. It was Abbott’s decision and his alone. It’s worth remembering that the choice of Governor-General is the Prime Minister’s sole preserve. Apparently the same must be for imperial titles, whatever we want to call them this week.

The overriding derision of a large percentage of the population pooping their pants laughing did not go down well with Abbott, but that was nothing to how he must have felt when his hero, John Howard, stated that it was now too anachronistic for titles to be reinstated.

The sound of laughter does not go down well with the Conservative side of the House of Representatives it seems. A sense of the ridiculous will soon be outlawed in this country, because it is now the cause for a MP to be thrown out of the House of Representatives for being unparliamentary, which brings me to Bronwyn Bishop.




From the moment she became Speaker of the House under Abbott’s Government, Bronwyn Bishop signaled her intent as to how she would manage the affairs of the HoR.  It is, therefore, no surprise to anyone when confronted with her blatantly obvious bias to one side of the House.

Previous Speakers have had the good grace and intelligence to attempt to mask their bias when managing and dispensing penalties under Standing Orders. Not so Bronwyn. She is Brunhilde or Boadicea when occupying the Speaker’s chair.

Actually she reminds me of a very scary Scottish teacher of French I had at school. No one who attended her classes ever got constipation.

The thing is Bishop is giving every appearance of not knowing her Standing Orders stuff, which seems to explain her over-the-top treatment of those members who try to bring her to book, which of course in the current political climate is the Opposition.

Bishop carried around the Standing Orders tome for years. I’m now convinced it was as a prop. Whether she is now too old and is therefore losing it, or whether she never had it in the first place; after all she has never been really tested, but in either case I don’t care. It is not in the interest of the Government that she brings the House into serious disrepute through disdain and derision at the performance of her job.

By way of example yesterday’s parliamentary question time was a hoot.  Tony Burke had a list of transgressions and inappropriate behavior on Bishop’s part as Speaker. It must have been very difficult for her to sit there and listen to it, especially when so much of it was met with loud guffaws.

The outcome of Burke’s motion of no confidence in her was always known. It was always going to be decided along party lines, and so it was.  

Bishop’s lack of ability not to bully from the Chair was evident to all when she threw one member out for laughing and warned one and all that if they continued to laugh they would be thrown out as well. Dreyfus suffered a more serious fate. For his interjection of “Madam Speaker” he was named the penalty for which is a 24 hours suspension from the House.

It was also totally and utterly inappropriate that Bishop remained in the Chair as the debate in a no confidence motion in her occurred.  However, my favourite Bishop faux pas was when she wouldn’t even hear a point of order from Burke because she knew what it was going to be about, so she said, and therefore denied it before he could even put it. Bishop really is a disgrace, and she’s giving those of us who hold Senior’s Cards a bad rap.                                              

In the meantime the half-an-hour of hilarity was solace of sorts. As the Readers’ Digest once told me: ‘Laughter is the best medicine.’ 


AND WHILE I’M ABOUT IT.                                                                                          Image



Don’t even start me on George Pell. His apology to Ellis was embarrassing and rude. His behavior throughout has done nothing to dispel the appearance that the Roman Catholic hierarchy is nothing more than an old boys’ club.


And, as for Campbell Newman giving himself a sizeable increase to his salary all the while still in the midst of a slash and burn of the public service that has resulted in thousands now unemployed; nor forgetting the scrapping of essential health, transport, educational and medical services especially in the rural and regional areas – well it just beggars belief.  



So the media wants a context.  How about contexts – plural?  There is never a single context in politics. It is always a complex recipe of sub-texts and alternative agendas which are the contexts. I can walk, talk and chew gum simultaneously. It would appear that the mainstream media can’t or won’t.

How about a media now so involved in a 24 hour, or less, story time-zone that they no longer look at bigger pictures. Why? Such analyses either don’t fit in with the desired agenda and direction of the media organization for whom they work; or many media workers are now suffering from a kind of media driven attention deficit disorder; or in any story it’s too difficult and time-consuming to explain the combination of contexts that drive any narrative.

The mainstream media had their ‘Alan Jones moment’ this week. They still appear to be in some state of shock. Haven’t we all been alternatively amused and outraged at the apparent discomfiture of the mainstream media as we see them scramble about to try and justify why their supposed analysis of the Prime Minister’s speech was so off the mark?! Why was it that ordinary people have stated how wrong the media is?  How is it that her speech has resonated not only in Australia, but around the world? How is it that her speech is now ranked among those great defining speeches of an Australian political leader, one that will be remembered long after we say Peter who? How is it that her speech has become a viral on-line must-see?  How did we get it so wrong?

To digress for just a little moment. The week’s highlight for me was seeing the Friday evening’s Contrarians on SkyNews (Australia’s answer to Fox News) where a panel of blokes, not a woman within cooee,  sat there and very seriously pontificated about sexism and the PM’s speech. They were, because they just don’t get it, totally wrong in their quaint but erroneous conclusions. I know they must have felt smug as they restored their view of the world by the end of the programme. It is nice to think that their mothers still love them anyway.

If I hear one more time that the only way to assess the PM’s speech was in the sole CONTEXT of defending Peter Slipper, I’ll bitch slap the nearest member of the media.

Does anybody honestly think for a nanosecond that, after her condemnation of text messages from and to Peter Slipper, and after expressing her concern for turning Parliament into a kangaroo court, she gave a moment’s thought to Slipper for the remainder of her speech, some 12 minutes out of 15? Honestly?!  If they do then they do live on a different planet. Is the mainstream media so blinkered in their interpretation of what occurs politically that they can only see it coming from the narrow parliamentary political construct in which they sit in a gallery? Is it any wonder then that their self-censoring bias can be so easily manipulated. The problem for the media is that this bias can then be so easily seen in circumstances such as occurred earlier this week.

The Peter Slipper motion of the Leader of the Opposition was more of a catalyst than a context. It was an attempt by Tony Abbott to gain traction for being ‘woman friendly’; an attempt that came hard on the heels of his wife’s saying what a nice man he is, Really! Truly!

How about these for contexts in common? The first, Abbott lecturing in defence of women, using words that a little more than a week before Alan Jones had used in a such a deliberately painful and contemptuous way.

How about the context of a woman still deeply grieving for a beloved father that she could not do anything but react to the venom and vitriol of the past fortnight, especially when confronted repeatedly by the very selective language used by Tony Abbott.

What Abbott and the media were not prepared for was the Prime Minister’s ENOUGH IS ENOUGH moment.

In addition to the context of the PM’s treatment over the past two to three weeks since her father’s death; how about the context of the PM’s treatment over the past two years since the last election by both the Opposition and the mainstream media.

For two years the PM  has had to endure a level of abuse from the Opposition benches. Those in the mainstream media have been complicit. They have been only too happy to follow the Opposition’s lead by their silence on the obvious sexism or worse, contributing to it.  The prevailing view, I believe, was that She won’t complain because if She objects and plays the ‘gender card’, we’ll hammer her. The problem is, as with all examples of bullying discrimination whether it’s racism, sexism or plain old fashioned religious bigotry, if it is not exposed early on it only gets worse both in the language used or in the acts of violence that are a natural repercussion. No one in the media has raised the issue of sexism displayed against the PM in any on-going or meaningful way, that is until fairly recently, and then only as a result of on-line opinion pieces. The media’s treatment of her has emboldened the Opposition forces to be not only relentless in their sexism but also increasingly more extreme in their language used.

How about another context, one with wider applications? How about the context of how women are treated in Australian society generally – the professions including politics and the law, the work place generally, the role of women as defined by the advertising and entertainment industries, as well as the inadequate voice given to women in the media?

How about a context where no-one in the media challenges Mr Abbott? What about his history of the treatment of women in power at Sydney Uni, his bullying methods used to keep control within his own political party and, by extension, the coalition, his negotiations with Tony Windsor, and his demand that the political party of the conscience vote be no longer the political party of the conscience vote when Abbott disagrees with the issue.

So how many contexts is that now? So many I’ve lost count.

Come on members of the media – wake up and smell what you are standing in, knee deep!

The PRIME MINISTER. the SPEAKER and the LEADER of the OPPOSITION: what a day.

Can I just say at the outset that the mainstream media’s analysis (and I’m using this term ironically) of yesterday’s performance by the Prime Minister is a glowing indication of what is wrong with their coverage of federal politics.

After two yeas of enduring a level of abuse with a certain level of humour and a seemingly inexhaustible supply of good grace, the Prime Minister rose to her feet and said ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

When reading Peter Hartcher’s article this morning in the SMH it would seem the underlying theme dominating his piece is that she, and presumably therefore women generally, are not permitted to complain of gender discrimination or abuse.  BALDERDASH! Hartcher’s opinion piece like many others in the mainstream media peddling a similar line, says more about his character, his inner prejudice and bias than any attempted illumination on the issue of misogyny still so prevalent in all levels of our society.

To find some clear minded and cold blooded analysis of yesterday’s events I have to travel overseas and read comprehensive coverage in the New Yorker, NYTimes and other fairly reputable journals in the USA and UK.  This failure on the part of Australian mainstream media makes me want to weep with frustration.

In fact it was the Prime Minister’s finest hour so far.

Can I clarify at the outset, just in case dear reader you think I’m so one eyed that I’m blinded to faults or points of disagreement with this Labor Government, I’m not. There are a number of policy and procedural matters with which I take issue with the Government and its leader. But you have to be deaf, dumb and blind to not see the gender based discrimination and abuse she faces daily, which wouldn’t occur if she had a Y chromosome and a dangly bit.  Well, she may not have a dangly bit but she sure has balls.

Abbott’s wife’s performance in raising Tony’s feminine side on the weekend was part of the strategy that was designed to achieve a few things: it was the scatter gun approach. It was to further highlight his newly acquired feminist credentials, get rid of a Liberal Party traitor, and undermine the Prime Minister: all with the added benefit of making him more appealing to the large number of Australian women who think he is a controlling chauvinist shit.

He didn’t count on the Prime Minister reaching her ENOUGH IS ENOUGH line in the sand moment where she wiped the floor with him as he sat uncomfortably having to listen while the metaphorical mirror was lifted and pointed in his direction.

His use of the words ‘dying in shame’, words repeated three times in the one almost grammatically correct sentence, was gobsmacking. If he meant it, it was as nasty a piece of emotional abuse as I’ve ever seen on the floor of the House. He has said later in a radio interview that he had forgotten the significance of those words. This makes him either a man with the attention span of a gnat, or a deliberately emotionally abusive bully. Take your pick. Whether you believe it was deliberate or not, in either instance it makes him unfit to be Prime Minister.

Peter Slipper’s resignation from the role of Speaker was not unexpected.

Should the House have sacked him? Not while a court case is still being decided. Perceptions can also taint the system of justice and in this area it is better to be prudent.

Do I think Peter Slipper needed to go?  Yes. There was too much self-inflicted baggage. It is unfortunate, as I believe him to be the best Speaker of the House I’ve seen ever. (and I’m old).

Do I think yesterday’s attempt to pass a motion of no confidence and censure against the Speaker was a wise strategy on the part of the Liberal thinkers’ brigade? No I do not.

What Slipper’s resignation has done is remove himself from being a problem for the Government. I can’t see him returning to the Liberal fold for any reason. They have crucified him.

Peter Slipper is now the Liberal Party’s problem. Irrespective of the outcome of the court case, questions of Mal Brough’s, Christopher Pyne’s and Tony Abbott’s involvement in, or knowledge of, the circumstances that lead ultimately to Peter Slipper’s downfall will bubble back up to the surface and they have to be praying that Ashby will hang tough. Gulp!

These next few months are going to be interesting indeed.