parrot rhymes and the kisses of cane toads
Go to wasting Australia's human capital
Global Mosaic Portal Network
In 2015 the head of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) was so concerned about Chinese influence in Australian politics and the level of incursion into the Australian Labor and Liberal parties that he met with the party administrators to warn them. Most notably was the relationship between Chinese billionaires in Australia and the NSW Branch of the Labor Party.
NSW Labor is the most corrupt of Australia's political parties with Ministers of successive state government being jailed from the mid 1970s through to 2017. Australian Labor politicians have left Parliament to take up positions immediately with Chinese community groups and companies.
In June 2017 an insipid response came from the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull about political donations by overseas interests and as always there is a review. The Special Minister for State is working on legislation, slowly. It apparently takes a year to frame something to ban international money being given to political parties. It isn a difficult complex problem for the challenged in our political class. Leader of Labor Bill Shorten as ever the pious one demands that Mr Turnbull act. Of course when Mr Shorten was a federal Minister in the Gillard and Rudd Labor Governments he and they never acted.
The Liberal party is obsessed with citizen action groups such as GetUp. The Special Minister of State argues that the political parties should not be put at a disadvantage by not being able to take donations from international sources whilst citizen groups can, to run political campaigns. This is the underlying nature of the incumbent politicians. They must always manage and control our democracy. They may act as they see fit but we citizens must never cause them angst. We are to stay in our place and they will allow us to vote.
The Australian Labor and Liberal federal politicians refuse to create a national Crime and Misconduct Commission. They use a spurious argument that police, and regulators, have enough powers. What they really fear is being caught doing all of the things they do in the shadows. Also they do not want their after politics career opportunities limited. One might opine that they are greedy and thus for sale.
"China's growing influence over Australian politics has similarities with Russia's recent meddling in American democracy, a former top US intelligence official has warned.
How China uses its 'soft power' strategy
The communist state exercises "soft power" in Australia in myriad ways, and it is vital that it is resisted, writes Dr Chongyi Feng, who was detained and interrogated in China earlier this year. James Clapper was the Director of US National Intelligence until January 2017, and has just begun work as a visiting professor at the Australian National University's National Security College.
"The challenge that I think we both face, both the United States and Australia, is the potential jeopardy to the very fundamental underpinnings of our political system," Mr Clapper said.
The 50-year veteran of the intelligence community has arrived Down Under as more revelations about Chinese political donations have been exposed by the ABC's Four Corners program. He believes Australia should reconsider whether foreign financial contributions should remain legal." (Source: Former top US spy James Clapper warns of China's Russian-style behaviour in Australia Exclusive by defence reporter Andrew Greene, ABC News June 6, 2017)
The Chinese government has hit back at a Fairfax/Four Corners investigation into its influence in Australia.
A Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman said the claims of spying and the Chinese government threatening students at Australian universities were "totally pointless" and refuted by China..... Australian student leader Lupin Lu describes how the Chinese Communist Party helped organise student supporters in Australia when Chinese President Xi Jinping visited in March." (Source: Chinese government hits back at student spying claims in Australia, Kirsty Needham, June 5, 2017, Sydney Morning Herald)
"Monday 5 June 2017
Power and Influence: The hard edge of China's soft power.
"They want to influence Australia. They want a stronger presence in Australia."
It's a tale of secrets, power and intimidation.
"ASIO are really quite alive and alert to these issues... of Australian national security."
China is our most important trading partner, making a strong relationship vital to Australia's national interest. But there are growing concerns about covert Chinese actions taking place on Australian soil. "Every government has an interest in promoting itself abroad to extending its soft power, I guess what's different about China is the way in which its run through these clandestine operations." Five months in the making, this joint Four Corners/Fairfax Media investigation uncovers how China's Communist Party is secretly infiltrating Australia. The investigation tracks the activities of Beijing-backed organisations and the efforts made to intimidate opponents of the Chinese Communist party. "The way the Chinese Government operates is effectively to control and silence dissent."
And investigates the influence of individuals who have access to Australian political and business leaders." (By Nick McKenzie, Sashka Koloff, Anne Davies ABC 4 Corners here
How is it that Canada, New Zealand and the USA can reach agreements with their indigenous groups and Australia's governments cannot? It is because they are mature in their dmeocracy and put it above all else. By comparison most of Australia's politicians do not countenance propositions that might take their dominance away. They will not entertain any participation beyond a forum or advisory group they establish or an election.
Within hours of the group of indigenous people issuing a statement out of the meeting that the government facilitated at Uluru in May 2017 the Deputy Prime Minister struck it down. The Prime Minister issued a less than compelling repudiation. The anglo irish white men have batoned cdown the hatches.
"The Uluru statement is a landmark moment in the reshaping of our system of government to reflect the aspirations of Australia's first peoples. It is the first time in over a decade of discussion about constitutional recognition that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have had the opportunity to speak with one voice. Their claims have come late in the debate, but must be accorded great weight and respect." (Source: Uluru statement offers up different set of priorities, Monday, 29th May 2017, Professor George Williams AO, The Sydney Morning Herald, 29 May 2017)
read the full article here
A callous group of Australian Government Ministers put their self interest and money first
They claim that a national bureaucracy will solve the problems and get rid of the horrific experiences our most disadvantaged people face every day of their lives.
Across Australia state governments are failing people with disabilities who are bneing abused. The federal government putting politics first callously declines to intervene.
"The Federal Government has refused to bow to a parliamentary committee's calls for a royal commission into alleged abuse, violence and neglect of people with disabilities....
The Federal Government cited the development of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Quality and Safeguarding Framework, which was agreed to at the last meeting of Commonwealth, State and Territory ministers, as addressing many of the concerns outlined by the committee." (Source: Mathew Dorna, march 3, 2017, ABC Australia)
"The Victorian Government has launched an independent review of a disability group home provider accused of ignoring claims of sexual abuse of its clients.
New clients will not be placed with Autism Plus until it is deemed safe Victoria's Department of Human Services to investigate remaining contracts with another provider Lifestyle Solutions Disability advocates call for reform to allow victim's testimonies to be heard Last night the ABC's Four Corners program detailed allegations of the sexual assault of two residents of a group home run by for-profit organisation Autism Plus.
Following the program, the Victorian Disability Minister Martin Foley said the State Government would not place any new clients with the organisation until it was satisfied the service was safe." (Source: Four Corners, National Reporting Team's Alison Branley and Linton Besser, ABC Australia)
"There is no evidence a disability support agency abused a severely disabled man in Tasmania's north-west, Premier Will Hodgman has said. But a disability advocate says the Government's response to the case is not good enough. Details of abuse allegations relating to the care of Devonport man Theo Langmaid were aired on the ABC's 7.30 program on Wednesday night." (Source: Pet Carlyon, 7.30 Report, March 23, 2017, ABC Australia)
"On Monday night Four Corners exposes what happens behind closed doors in some taxpayer funded group homes for the disabled and talks to the mothers and carers taking on the system. "It's about time for me to tell this." Maria, mother These are families who've made the tough decision to place their disabled children into care, in the belief it would be the safest place for them. They say their trust has been betrayed. "I could not sleep knowing my son was in that house... I would park my car at the front of that house... so that if he did need something I'd be there, but the reality is, I couldn't protect him at that point. I had to get him out." Anne, mother" (Source: Fighting the System, Four Corners, Linton Besser, Klaus Toft, Jeanavive McGregor, March 28, 2017, ABC Australia)
"One of Australia's most high-profile providers of disability services, Lifestyle Solutions, is under review by both the Victorian Government and the NSW Ombudsman after a series of deaths of its clients and other alarming reports about the abuse and neglect of some disabled people in its care.
Failings were identified after four patient deaths
In one incident, a woman who had her legs amputated was left alone overnight and had no way to seek help
Victorian Government cancelled contract with Lifestyle Solutions after complaints
The Newcastle-based not-for-profit organisation earned revenues last year of more than $124 million — almost all of it from taxpayers — to care for 1,200 disabled adults and 300 foster children across the country.
It was a broadcast sponsor of the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games.
Now, a Four Corners investigation has found that in many cases the care provided by Lifestyle Solutions has been profoundly inadequate."(Source: Top disability services provider Lifestyle Solutions investigated over series of deaths: Four Corners,Linton Besser, Klaus Toft, Jeanavive McGregor and Alison Branley, march 27, ABC Australia)
| ENERGY CALAMITY |
Australia's state and federal governments have lost control of the nation's energy policy, production, reliability and costs, due to ideology incompetence and neglect. There is a litany of mistakes, a record of ignorance and dereliction of public duty over decades.
Australia has fallen from being a world leader in the engineering and production of cheap and reliable energy for manufacturing, business and community to now being (2017) one of the world's dearest and most unreliable nations.
Opportunistic states such as Victoria under the dead hand of labor and Premier Andrews has shut down any prospect of coal seam gas exploitation. Premier Andrews may well be the worst, and most destructive, state political leader Australia has ever had through his own making. South Australian labor premier Jay Weatherill has overseen the lights going out many times and vies with Andrews for the crown of incompetent government.
Similarly, NSW energy policy makers are derelict and myopic. Instead they have unachievable renewable energy targets. that force prices up and make thermal coal uncompetitive whilst strangling gas suppliers. Queensland appears to be the best of a bad bunch of governments.
Australia's natural gas has been directed to export because liquefied natural gas is at a premium offshore. At the same time the federal government, has allowed exporters to peg prices at international market rates. There is insufficient gas to power Australia in 2017. That is no gas for homes, no gas for industry and no gas for power stations.
Some states have sequestered a small portion of gas (Western Australia for example 15%) to local supply. The other states are all over the place.
The Australian government can immediately deliver a lowering impact on energy prices (electricity and gas) and on stability and reliability along with attracting investment.
The Commonwealth of Australian Governments (COAG) can revert the National Electricity Market (NEM) 30 minute bidding system back to the 1997 model where generators were loaded according to bid price.
The current procedure today rigs the market and puts prices through the roof because renewable generators (wind. solar and gas) are given preference and the thermal coal generators are left to languish at the bottom of the heap.
So much for competition and free market.
Gaming in the Australian electricity market occurs when generators withhold supply by taking turbines off line for maintenance or they wait to see if there is a price spike about to occur. Gaming in the gas market occurs when customers buy gas off the big producers and then sell it back to LNG suppliers to export. The price spikes from normally $A5 or $6 a gigajoule to $A9 or even $A20 a gigajoule.
There are companies set up just to desk trade energy and are not suppliers or distributors.
The misjudgement of future energy demand by the bureaucracy, Ministers of state and federal Governments, their advisers and industry allowed excess, expensive transmission assets to be by the private sector. Australia's national energy regulator calculates a % of the capital costs that can recouped by the companies in energy charges.
When Queensland suppliers implement a three tiered bill (two set charges plus a usage volume charge) the price of electricity will shoot up.
The United States has lowered the cost of energy, becoming self sufficient, using their on shore coal seam and other gas extraction technologies.
AUSTRALIAN POLICY SUPPORTING FREE MARKET & TRADE HAS RESULTED IN EXPLOITATION OF THE PUBLIC NATURAL ASSETS & INTERESTS
Instead our Australian state governments blocked exploration and exploitation of on land gas and the federal government has allowed private companies to export all of the nation's natural gas (except for a minuscule amount) to international markets.
AUSTRALIA'S POLITICAL IDEOLOGS When Australia's state governments got involved the energy markets they became greatly distorted under the spurious claim of public, national, and the most arrogant claim of all the planet's interest. Australia's State Governments have created an energy casino and it is the house using loaded dice.
The effect of the current NEM process is this up to 2013 and way beyond that level in 2015 - 16:
The manufactured, and manipulated market, organised by state governments, is enabling the rip of Australian consumers off big time.
The South Australian state of electricity, where the government cannot even guarantee basic supply and the lauded closure of Hazelwood power station in Victoria shows us the corrupted black soul of Labor's and The Greens politically inspired (and exceptionally economically stupid) green ideology.
Since 1991 when privatisation of energy began under the Victorian labor State Government and was followed full tilt by the Liberal National Coalition a ceratin section of the community, in very state across the nation, is required to bear the pain of job loss, career loss and desolation in the interests of claimed benefits that never materialise. The people who demand the sacrifice of these people themselves never lose their jobs or make a sacrifice.
The State Electricity Commission of Victoria, along with other Australian states, produced electricity at world competitive rates attracting investment. It employed hundreds of thousands of people through multiplier effects, even millions when industry set up because it was cheap to do so.
Now it employs a shadow of these numbers and Australia's consecutive state government's destructive ideology, theories, mismanagement and incompetence has made Australia of the most expensive electricity providers on earth.
On April 1, 2017, Hazelwood Power station, in Victoria, was closed without fanfare. Hundreds of employees and others who earn their livelihood from this grand old station must now endure what those in 1991 endured. Promises, lies and myths spun by politicians and vested interests.
The Australian government could legislate Large Scale Generating (LGCs) and Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) as tradable instruments so that the power generators who hold them can take the impost off their books and release value by selling, if they desire, into the European market.
However we cannot hold our breath because there are those embedded in the public service and in parliamentary membership incumbency who would prefer to risk all rather than give ground or compromise. They are true believers in their own capabilities and judgement. We must suffer extreme pain in order to save the planet.
| AUSTRALIA'S BAD MANAGEMENT PRACTICES AND DECISIONS COUPLED WITH POOR COMPETENCIES WASTES BILLIONS
"Slater and Gordon's top brass who hold shares in the troubled law firm that were once worth more than $150 million are preparing to take a major bath as the company works to push through a deal in the next 12 days to avoid receivership. Two weeks ago the firm's advisers at Arnold Bloch Leibler and Moelis put forward a debt-for-equity swap that would see the banks holding more than $700 million in debt exchange all or part of it for new shares in the company." (Slater and Gordon shareholders, executives face wipeout in rescue plan, Sarah Danckert, March 6, 2017, the Age newspaper). This Australian law firm went to play in the world of listed law firms, charging into the UK market. What does their predicament, and loss, tell us about the quality and ability of Australian managers?
According to the latest Gallup workplace research, (2016) 50% of today's employees are disengaged. Another 20% are actively disengaged (in other words, openly miserable). That means 70% of today's workforce is operating under a cloud! The business implications are staggering.
Key Issue: Bad Management
What are the core factors driving workforce disengagement? Gallup says that managers from hell are the primary reason. Poor managers are not only an obstacle to employee engagement - they actually drive employee disengagement. The net effect on business is huge - an estimated cost to U.S. organizations of $450-$550 billion a year. Yes, you read that right. The bottom-line message is clear. Managerial incompetence is not just annoying. It is potentially catastrophic.
Talent Culture: Steep Cost of Poor Management
Australia's management talent pool and world ranking is much lower than America so the cost would also be in the Billions here and we are seeking it every day.
The people who could run Australian businesses, governments and institutions are side-lined. Pensioned out, too old and not held in high regard by the modern-day occupants of high office and the employers. A massive base of Australian talent is wasted. Australia suffers and the price the nation's communities pays CAN NO LONGER BE TOLERATED AND ACCEPTED
Australia's current power collective incumbents - Labor and Liberal Politicians, Corporate Board Members, CEOs & MDs are seriously blinkered & myopic.
They will not admit their failures and inabilities to manage and deliver.
Incumbent senior executives, and their incumbent advisers, refuse to accept that Australia can get out of the serious problems we face if we conscript the oldies who are still capable of contributing.
On Australia's energy supply crisis alone, there are many experts out in the community who built our industries but soon they will be gone. SO PRIME MINISTER TURNBULL CONSCRIPT THEM TO FIX THE CALAMITY.
Many other businesses and government agencies might consider bringing back deep experience.
WHERE HAVE THE MARKETING VISIONARIES & CREATIVISTS GONE?
Australia's new age corporate marketing divisions are incompetent. Woolworths, Coles, shopping centre management, retail businesses, and many more, These young inexperienced employees operate on their gut instinct. More interesting is their delusion that their ideas are novel. They invent slogans that are inane and indefensible, such as the "Fresh Food People". They develop new stores (Masters owned by Woowlworths) and concepts using focus groups, big data and theories, absent of context and history.
The incumbents will not, out of ego, delusion as to their capabilities and self-interest will not say help us.
DECLINING TRUST AND EFFERVESCENCE
"Millennials in Australia no longer consider it the "lucky country" and are less optimistic about the future than their counterparts in developing economies including the Philippines, Indonesia and India. The international study also reveals Australians born after 1982 are more prepared to leave their jobs after two years than they have been in previous surveys…
The 2017 Deloitte Millennial Survey is based on the views of 8000 people born after 1982 across 30 countries, including 300 in Australia.
Only 8 per cent of millennials in Australia believe they will be better off than their parents and only 4 per cent believe they will be happier." (Anna Patty, Sydney Morning Herald, February 8, 2017)
PEOPLE NO LONGER BELIEVE THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR & LIBERAL PARTY'S SPIN AND MISREPRESENATION
'I never really use Facebook to make long, heartfelt posts because I try not to bother people. I will this time, though, so here goes nothing. I'm sorry if there are typos and I'm sorry if I offend anyone… it's like.. super late right now as I'm typing this.
After the release about the budget, I'm really freaking out about the state of the country. LOL. Isn't everyone?
My parents and I are refugees. When I was a child, they told me that Australia is a wonderful country. It's a country where the government is kind and will look after its people; that's why it's called the lucky country. My parents got divorced, something very normal in this day and age. Being a child at the time, it was a big thing for me, because suddenly dad was no longer there and my mum was in a deep depression. We were surviving on her disability pension. Hmm… There were days where I my little brother and I would go hungry. Those were bad times, but the school came to the rescue and were wonderful enough to provide us with food (funding for that got cut in my senior year, I think.)
There was another time, when I was younger… in year 7, I guess. So, 11-12 or so? My little brother got very sick and we had to walk to the doctor's. I clutched my mother's green health care card in my hand like a lifeline because that flimsy plastic card was what allowed my little brother to see a doctor without the money we didn't have. I remember I scrounged up 10 dollars that day so I could buy him cough medicine and have a bit left over for cough drops. I wonder what will happen to people in my shoes now that you need to pay money to see a doctor. Seven dollars means a lot to a family in need.
At 16, I applied for Youth Allowance and got it! I was over the moon! I could buy groceries! I could help my mother pay for bills and going hungry would be a distant memory. If I was very, very lucky then I would have enough money left over to spoil my little brother.
I cried in my senior year. I was worried I couldn't go to university because I couldn't afford the books. It was like a weight was lifted off my chest when I was told about HECS, about the extra bonus that would be used to pay for books. I couldn't wait to go to university, to grow up and pay taxes (yes, yes… taxes) just so I could return the money to the country that has held my hand for so long. A country that protected me and allowed me the privilege of an education. I wanted to grow up and pay taxes so the money could be used to help other people in my shoes.
My friends from overseas tell me about how bad their country is, how heartless, and I would think to myself, "Australia isn't perfect. But at least it cares for the people. That's what matters."
WELL. That went out the flippin' window.
Australia's coat of arms is a kangaroo and an emu. I thought this is because they are the two animals that are unable to take steps backwards. It was meant to show that Australia is a progressive country, and that it will always continue to move forward.
Tony Abbott has ruined that. He's ruined so many core aspects of being human, he can't even be considered Australian. I refuse to consider him as such because no human being would destroy the lives of so many in the name of a surplus to fight against a crisis that isn't even real.
For as long as I can remember, I was proud of my country. I had faith in my country. I've lost that now and I blame him, I really do. It might be unreasonable of me to blame a single person or their political party, but… at night I worry about not being able to find a job straight after uni, of six months in limbo and having no money while I look for a job. I'm not a religious person, but I'm definitely praying to someone or anyone to put a stop to this.
Guys, it's not Facebook Likes that the government hears. That button does nothing but make people feel as if they're doing something. It's action, standing up and protecting your rights that gets you heard. It's screaming (peacefully) at the top of your lungs that this isn't right that gets you heard.
I know I'm not alone in this. I'm one Australian of millions who will be affected by the cuts and changes proposed for the 2014 Budget, whose lives were made better by a government that helped provide for our education, that took care of us when we were ill and had nowhere else to turn to. They gave us a brighter future when all else seemed bleak, and now we don't have even that.
If you feel the same way - share your stories too, speak up. So we can reach out to others like us, to move others to action, to make a difference.
So let's do it. Let's get heard.' (australia: the lucky country no more
16 May 2014
I read something the other day that made me think about the capability of our Australian business executives (all levels) and our many Governments, and the Labor and Liberal Parties, today and probably for that matter in the past decades.
Despite two decades of economic growth, Professor Mark Evans of the University of Canberra Institute for Governance and Public Analysis said Australians' trust in government and politicians are now at their lowest levels since 1993 - and Aussies' loathing of political "blood sports" is to blame.
· "We found [Australians] are interested in politics but they're not interested in the type of politics that are on offer in Canberra," he said. (Katie Burgess & Clare Sibthorpe, Sydney Morning Herald, June 28, 2016)
Australia has not created a major world leading corporation for something like 100 years.
Despite our agricultural prowess and the self-grandiose statements of successive Government politicians as to the quality and capacity of our agriculture, there is no international billion-dollar agricultural company created by Australians. By comparison New Zealand supplies 33% of the world's milk.
If BHP was not in Australia we would not have a major mining enterprise headquartered here.
The most valued enterprises on our stock exchange are four domestic banks. Banks whose Boards and CEOs dabbled in Asian and United Kingdom markets only to fail and withdraw.
"Despite 28 years in the NAB family, Glasgow-based Clydesdale was the perennial wayward child, always springing surprises and never paying its way.
Clydesdale had been counselled, cajoled and castigated, all to no avail.,br>
Full separation was the only path to self-respect, for both institutions, but the parent should have anticipated one final act of rebellion.
On Tuesday, with pricing for the IPO of 25 per cent of Clydesdale still to come, there was an 11th hour intervention from ratings agency Moody's, which asked NAB for financial information relating to Clydesdale's deposit rating.
NAB reassured the market that any impact on its cost of funding would be minimal, but decided to push back the pricing process by 24 hours so investors could make their own assessment; hence Thorburn's anxiety about Drummond's incoming call." (Richard Gluyas, February 6, 2016, the Australian)
"ANZ has taken a major step toward exiting Asian retail banking and wealth management with an agreement to sell businesses in five countries to Singapore's DBS bank.
Australia's fourth-largest lender on Monday said DBS will pay book value plus $110 million for assets in Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan and Indonesia.,br>
Chief executive Shayne Elliott, who is undoing much of ANZ's expansion into Asia under predecessor Mike Smith, said the sale represented the bulk of the bank's regional retail and wealth management businesses - with remaining assets in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and the Philippines under review.
Mr Elliott said ANZ had not committed to further sales and would not be drawn on a timeline for a possible broader exit.
'This is the heart of the business and we're continuing to look at the other franchises,' Mr Elliott told analysts.
'We don't see a future for us in retail and wealth businesses across Asia and we will exit at the right time.'
ANZ said the sales' impact on the bottom line - including write downs and transaction costs - will be about $265 million." (Monday 31, October 2016, SKYNews.com.au)
WHY IS THIS?
COULD IT BE, INTER ALIA, A LACK OF VISION & INNOVATION, RISK AVERSION, QUESTIONABLE TALENT, INCOMPETENCE AND A CANCEROUS UNETHICAL CULTURE?
Australia's major banks will be subject to a Royal Commission in 2017. This situation is of their own making. Crooked subsidiaries, financial advisers stealing and losing people's life savings. Banks gouging at every turn. Bank owned insurers actively avoiding paying claims. A culture that is rancid and indefensible. These are the product of the management and employee traits of the businesses that underpin our economy and society. They are affronted at being forced to justify their jobs, behaviour and their salaries.
OVERBLOWN VIEW OF THEIR OWN CAPABILITIES, STATUS AND SENSE OF ENTITLEMENT
"A lack of "self awareness" by ineffective company managers is contributing to Australia's slipping international reputation of corporate leadership, according to a new Australian Industry Group report presented in federal parliament on Wednesday.
The report, which may shock chief executives and confirm some workers' poor opinion of their bosses, suggests urgent co-operation between government, business, and the education sector to arrest Australia's slide to the bottom of international rankings of leadership and management practices.
The AI Group's Addressing Enterprise Leadership In Australia report said leadership was recognised for the role it plays in contributing to innovation through improving operations, organisational structures, new business models and design thinking.
But when it comes to converting research dollars into commercial success, Australia ranks 116th out of 142 countries and ranks last out of 22 OECD countries for collaboration." (Australian Financial Review, June 3, 2015)
"Malcolm Turnbull has called the chairman of Australia Post after it was revealed its chief executive takes home a multi-million pay packet.
Documents published on Tuesday showed Ahmed Fahour was paid a $4.4 million salary and a $1.2 million bonus last financial year.
A parliamentary committee revealed the salaries of Mr Fahour and senior Australia Post executives, saying there were no compelling reasons for the details to be kept from public scrutiny.
The documents showed another five executives, who haven't been named, earned between $1.8 million and $1.3 million each.
Mr Turnbull said while pay was a decision for the board, he did speak to chairman John Stanhope on Wednesday morning about Mr Fahour's package.
'I think that remuneration is too high,' he told reporters in Canberra.
Mr Turnbull acknowledged Mr Fahour had a big job overseeing a large government- owned entity, which had improved its operating business.
'In my view, I say this as someone who spent most of his life in the business world before I came into politics, I think it is a very big salary for that job." (Wednesday 8 February 2017, SKYNews Telstra Media)
The declining quality of Australia's leaders and management is evident when we look at standards overseas and our nation's ranking. However the truth of this and the awareness of the general public has been masked by the mining boom. It has been so for decades. Paul Keating saw it when he opened up Australia to the world. Yet today's political leaders and corporate executives prefer spin over substance, they prefer to maintain their interests and positions eschewing any notion of an obligation to build the nation. Their personal goals and objectives and those of the shareholders clash with the national interest.
"Over the last decade, Australia has experienced a productivity slump. Our long-term productivity growth ranks well below the OECD average, and significantly below that enjoyed by leading economies.
However, the reality of falling productivity and its consequences has been masked for most ordinary Australians by the mining boom, which has created created jobs and driven up wages.
A number of international studies have suggested that in many workplaces the quality of leadership and management skills can have significant direct effects on productivity, as well as indirect effects through their consequences for how workplaces adapt to changing business conditions and innovate.
A similar picture is now emerging in Australia. This gap is evident in official data on the ability of Australian business to introduce technological innovations, new products or services, or new management systems or organisational innovations. Among SMEs and in certain industries, the record is even more dismal.
Research on the take-up of high-performance management practices also indicates a paradox: while the types of practices that lead to better performance are well established, few workplaces adopt them.
Are Australians bad managers?
Why do Australian businesses have such a dismal record in improving the very things that drive workplace productivity? There are many reasons, but the quality of management and leadership in the workplace is a critical one.
It is clear, for example, that many Australian managers are seriously under qualified for the job they do.." (The Conversation, February 20, 2014)
"In terms of competent senior managers (readily available), Ireland (7.00), China Hong Kong (6.94), Norway (6.86),
Denmark (6.80), Switzerland (6.77) and the Netherlands (6.77) lead the table. UAE (6.76), Canada (6.67), Sweden
(6.59) and Finland (6.50) reach the 7th to 10th positions. Germany (5.59) and France (5.57) come 32 respectively.
Switzerland (8.74), Finland (8.56), Singapore (8.27), Canada (8.20) and Germany (7.84) lead the way in the fit between the educational system and the needs of a competitive economy. Ireland (7.45) and Australia (7.30) (IMD World talent Report, World Competitiveness Centre, November 2015) To see all of the rankings on key factors download the report:
AUSTRALIANS WERE ONCE VERY TECHNICALLY CAPABLE
We built a national telecommunications company Telecom Australia), The Australian Broadcasting Commission, the Snowy Mountains Scheme, Tasmania's Hyrdo Power system, the State Electricity Commission of Victoria, the Sydney harbour Bridge, the Ord River Irrigation Scheme, Collins Class Submarines, Sydney Opera House, Adelaide to Darwin rail, The Kalgoorlie Super Pit, Broken Hill Proprietary Company, the Warragamba Dam, Qantas, the West Coast Wilderness railway in Tasmania, Mt Lyell Railway, Ferries that cross the oceans, the Bushmaster for the military and more.
Australians are very good at managerial, and technical practice, engineering, science, academia, law, medicine and the arts. We are a humanities and social science powerhouse in many respects.
We solve problems but for some reason we do not create businesses and we are not an innovative nation in business or government thinking and behaviour.
When an individual creates a world leading innovation (wifi and cochlear ear implants as examples) they are ignored and our best, and brightest, go offshore. The best, and brightest, of our business talent has gone to live in Singapore, Europe, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Today we have highly paid Board Executives, and CEOs, in charge of what were once icons. Qantas, Australia Post, Telecom) Telstra), Woolworths, Coles, David Jones, Myer, the nation's State Electricity Commissions (now gone, the replacements cannot keep the lights on) and others running our institutions who have it appears have never created anything themselves.
They are demonstrating a capacity to never create anything.
They rely on command, and control, management styles, much like the multinational companies that are also in decline and who are not the innovators. The employees are disposable assets to manufacture profits. Alternatively, employees are to be victimised stolen from and abused.
· Domino Pizza (franchisees underpaying workers and selling Australian worker visas on the black market)
· Australia's two major retailers engaging in unconscionable conduct and business practices, unethical and misleading. Stealing from, gouging and threatening their suppliers in the name of their interests. They manufacture justifications. The most ludicrous being that such things are normal business practice in their industry sector.
"Young charity workers were forced to lick underwear, cross dress and take part in obscene cigarette rituals, according to lawyers suing the marketing giant Appco.
· The allegations form part of an $85m class action against Appco
· More than 500 former workers have come forward since the class action was filed
· Appco says it is investigating all the claims
The shocking allegations are the latest to emerge as part of an $85 million class action against the Appco Group in the Federal Court of Australia. The Appco Group is one of the world's biggest fundraising agencies and rattles the tin on behalf of some of Australia's best known charities, including Surf Life Saving Australia and The Starlight Foundation. But its workers, sometimes known as "charity muggers" or "chuggers", claim they were overworked, grossly underpaid and bullied." (November 5, 2016, Australian Broadcasting Corporation News)
Go to Parasites consuming Australia
NON-PERFORMING BOARDS, AND EXECUTIVES, RUN AUSTRALIAN BUSINESSES INTO THE GROUND LOSING BILLIONS
"WOOLWORTHS has reported a full-year loss of $1.235 billion and a 40.8 per cent decline in underlying earnings from its Australian food and petrol business. The supermarket giant's net profit for the 52 weeks to June 26 slipped from last year's $2.146 billion profit as it took $2.628 billion of write downs mostly related to its ongoing exit from the hardware sector and its underperforming Big W stores.
But earnings before interest and tax from Australian food and petrol also dropped to $1.76 billion, from $2.97 billion in the prior corresponding period, due to lower prices and a decline in items per basket.
The result marks Woolworths' first loss in its 23 years as a public company." (August 25, 2016, News.com.au)
Today's managers (whether they be Australian owned or multinational) follow the same methodologies. They use CRM monitoring and fera demanding more and more, public relations, spin and when required to survive, lies as their tools of survival. We are told they need to make hard decisions because the world has changed and only they can deal with it.
Companies that were innovative in the sixties manufacturing technologies that changed the way the world does business (mass issuance of financial instruments, identity technologies, hardware and software, banking and finance, smart card) became complacent. By 2006 they were facing a clean out. Rather than invent they turned to acquisition. They were, and still, are not very good at acquiring and integrating businesses.
WHEN IN TROUBLE THEY RUN TO GOVERNMENT
"Do you remember the dark days of December 2013 when Qantas boss Alan Joyce was desperately trying to convince Tony Abbott's government that the airline needed a taxpayer bailout?
Well, you're not the only one for whom this dark chapter is ancient history. " (Sydney Morning Herald, Colin Kruger, June 24, 2016) "Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss has dealt a blow to Qantas saying the federal government is reluctant to support the national carrier, as Moody's threatened to cut their credit rating.
The stern warning to Qantas from the government came as the national carrier revealed it would post a financial loss of almost $300 million in the first half.
Ratings agency Moody's placed Qantas on review for a possible downgrade to its investment grade rating because of its deteriorating financial situation.
Mr Truss, who holds the transport portfolio, was backed by Treasurer Joe Hockey in pushing back against a bailout for Qantas but has not ruled it out. The airline has placed unprecedented pressure on the government to intervene, asking for it to guarantee Qantas's debt. (Australian Financial Review, Anne Hyland, December 6, 2013)
Australian businesses of all sizes are addicted to government and continually has their hand out. Australia's state and federal governments are squandering billions of tax payer's funds in quasi voodoo propositions - business training, business export support, business R&D, subsidies and regional development. Everyone who has an idea believes that the government should fund its development. Australia's venture capital industry is small time. Small dime.
THE KNOWLEDGE ECONOMY- A CRUEL DELUSION
As our manufacturing disappeared our governments have continually justified their decisions and policies on globalism and the requirement to move to a Knowledge Economy. At one stage state government's jostled to have a Gaming App crown (Queensland) or to be the State of Call Centres (Tasmania) and NSW even proposed Sydney could be a financial hub and powerhouse.
The Internet of Dreams
Nations that are great, as America once was, were built on industry and manufacturing. Donald Trump won the Presidency on making America great again. Is he promising to do it on technology and the knowledge economy? With on line businesses and Internet fantasies? With a Government, Digital Transformation parrot promise, like Australia's federal government Prime Minister and Ministers that costs us hundreds of millions ending in failure? No, POTUS Trump is promising traditional industry revival - US manufacturing, the revival of the steel industry.
80% of Australian's are incapable of transforming to a knowledge economy because they do not have a desire for life - long learning inculcated in to them. They are reluctant to study and if they have to study and retrain they want someone else to pay.
With every loss of a major employer, with every impact of a Government decision, the hand me down remainders of Australia's two major political parties, particularly Labor, trot out the "training" and "'transformation".
Australian politicians and industry idea of retraining is shallow competencies delivered by charlatans and crooks who have stolen billions.
PUBLIC SERVANT AND GOVERNMENT MINISTER'S MALADMINISTRATION
"What started as a bipartisan Commonwealth strategy to privatise vocational education and training (VET) by enhancing skills through a dynamic competitive market, has ended with allegations of corruption and malfeasance. Worse than that, it has resulted in the deskilling of Australia and $3 billion in dubious VET loans, part of an estimated $13 billion blowout in all unrecoverable student loans to 2017." (Quentin Dempster, Sydney Morning Herald, March 25, 2016)
Vocational education, the biggest get-rich quick scheme in Australia
· Michael Bachelard, Henrietta Cook, Matthew Knott, September 16, 2016, Sydney Morning Herald
"THE federal government says it is willing to consider a wide-scale audit of training providers to weed out rorting of the $1.6 billion VET FEE-HELP loans scheme with inflated course fees.
It comes as evidence emerges of massive pricing discrepancies between fee-for-service and VET FEE-HELP courses being offered by a number of registered training organisations (RTOs), with taxpayers forking out up to 400 per cent premiums to line the pockets of training companies with government loans, many of which will never be repaid.
The deregulation of the VET FEE-HELP scheme has led to a massive increase in for-profit, private education providers and an industry-wide decline in quality. According to the Education Department, just over one quarter (26 per cent) of students who enrolled in VET FEE-HELP courses in 2011 finished within three years. Completion rates for online diplomas were abysmal, with just seven per cent of students completing their course." (May 4, 2015, news.com.au)
TECHNOLOGY SUPPLIERS AND CONSULTING EXPERTS CANNOT MANAGE BASIC SYSTEMS AND SERVICES
"The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has apologised for a serious problem with its technology which saw critical systems go offline for more than two days.
ATO's data storage systems are being slowly restored
No taxpayer information has been compromised, officials say
The ATO's affected hardware storage system was upgraded 13 months ago
The ATO's data storage systems crashed on Monday, taking down the agency's website, tax agent portal and case management system." (14 December 2016, News Limited)
"Computer giant IBM will pay more than $30 million in compensation for its role in the bungled census, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has indicated.
· Attacks that caused 40-hour outage "utterly predictable, utterly foreseeable"
· "IBM have paid up and they should have," Malcolm Turnbull says
· Mr Turnbull criticises ABS, saying it should have managed IBM contract better
The Prime Minister described the four Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks that caused a 40-hour outage inconveniencing millions of Australians as "utterly predictable, utterly foreseeable". (Henry Belot, 25November 2016, News Limited)
"The Commonwealth child support system, which is supposed to support more than 1.2 million Australian children, has fallen victim to the latest federal government tech wreck.
A $104 million project to replace the ageing technology which supports payments of more than $3.2 billion a year is late and in disarray, with about 3000 public servants at the Child Support Agency still trying to work with technology that was declared obsolete four years ago." (Noel Towell, Canberra Times, January 30, 2017)
IDEOLOGICAL FAILED EXPERIMENTS
Millions of dollars of tax payer money is poured into communities by politicians pursuing ideological and self-interest agendas. The renewable energy targets that have brought our energy sector to black light.
A national electricity grid, that is confected and manipulated as a market model that exist on paper but not in reality.
"While Australia's energy's future is threatened by a Mexican stand-off over carbon and renewables between State and Federal Governments, overseas jurisdictions indicate a more holistic approach is possible.
What can the UK and NY-ISO teach us about the need for a long-term Roadmap?
The first weeks of 2017 were marked by a spate of Government announcements of direct funding for new technologies.
The Victorian Government announced $20 million in funding for storage, that would include delivery of "…of a battery of at least 20 MW that will add to Victoria's energy grid". The following day the Australian Government made an unrelated announcement in support of large-scale storage, with ARENA and the CEFC to provide at least $20 million to support flexible capacity and large-scale energy storage demonstration projects. The Australian Government also flagged it may redirect financial support to fund High Efficiency Low Emissions coal-fired generation technology, despite a lack of proponents
. While directly funding projects or technologies may provide good 'announceables', these interventions also highlight the key problem. Australia's National Electricity Market looks increasingly less national and less like a market." (Emma watts, Energy Networks Australia, 9 February 2017)
The Australian Energy market Operator is incompetent and the National Electricity Market is gamed by unscrupulous operators.
REFORMS THAT NEVER WORKED IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST
The beneficiaries in these reforms and Government's claimed necessary community re-engineering are the "politically linked local government elected representatives, the local government bureaucrats, the Chairmen of the a myriad of Regional Development Organisations and Labor and Liberal Party politically favoured business associates.
The losers are always the workers and the majority of the people in the affected communities, the ones who trust the local community elites and political siren songs.
In 1991 the Victorian State Government decided to sell a power station in the Latrobe Valley to pay off state debt. It was a Labor government, then came the Liberal government. They sold the lot at a unexpected price, $30Billion.
It was the forerunner of Australia's competitive electricity market. What is that indicating to you? It was the slippery slope to the disaster Australia is experiencing today. The failure of policy across the nation, seeds sown by the myopic ideologs now gone.
The Latrobe Valley was promised nirvana. It never came.
Fast forward to 2017, a Labor Government in Victoria Australia about to force the closure of 22% of the state's generation, under another ideologically stupidity.
THE PARASITIC ELITES WILL ALWAYS BENEFIT
The state, and the federal government (I do not know why the federal government would support Victoria's mediocre state Labor government in destroying lives and communities) are both rolling out the tens of millions of public funds to be paid to the local elites in the Latrobe Valley and other connected, ones.
Funding to the Regional Development entity, is again an exercise in a sophisticated con, in the tens of millions. The Gippsland community resides on one of the world's largest coal deposits and could be an engineering power house as it once was when the Electricity Commission of Victoria existed. Instead ideology, failed experiments and dreams are still driving these local economies.
The political placebo - re-training and the transformation crystal ball policies of the Victorian Labor Party are once more on display.
|New South Wales|
The governments, and public services, of Australia have been
consumed by managerial theory and robotic speak. They like to refer to the citizens that they are supposed to serve as customers or users.
Governments adopt economic rationalist theories of "user pays". The primary goals are all short term, budetary surpluses obsessions by governments,
and short term profits pusuit by business. Shortermism is the focus of Australia's corporate and political leaders.
Politicians, and public servants, and for that matter many people in business in Australia, are oblivious of the fundamentals of "customer service". Public policy, development and implementation, in Australia occurs in a climate of veiled, or even open, disdain for the customer except at election time. Innovation is marginalised. Many of Australia's corporations are managed by unethical people and crooks. Our wealth and livelihood is being destroyed at the hands of ineffective and infantilicising corporate managers and politicians. All of them collectivley lacking ideas and averse to risk. Australia's managerial skills rank very low in the OECD scale of countries.
"Australia generates a tiny fraction of its GDP from IP commercialisation, so on that metric alone, how are we not in trouble?
Other forces shaping global economies include the hollowing out of the middle classes; the replacement of low-skilled and increasingly complex jobs by robotics and ever advancing computational power and the growing disparity in pay between the new classes of highly-skilled knowledge workers (engineers, tech-savvy designers and computer scientists) and the rest of us.
Australia’s relatively low level of investment in technology and in growing globally-scaled innovative organisations makes us vulnerable. In its Compete to Prosper report commissioned by the Business Council of Australia and released a year ago, McKinsey warned that Australian companies are “behind on technology, uptake, external orientation, innovation and learning” and that we “have a pervasive competitiveness problem”. (Source: Australia needs to wake up and smell the disruption SANDY PLUNKETT 23 JUN, 2015, Business Spectator.
"The highest levels of leadership and power in this country are underexposed to entrepreneurship, technology-driven disruption and competitive friction. Instead, too much energy is focused on achieving cosy corporate directorships which reward risk-mitigation governance and outdated management practices. The result is a chilling effect on the nation’s productivity, our relevance in a high stakes global economy and, ultimately, our much-valued high quality of life.
Meet Australia’s New Power Players; Same as the old ones
Take for example the 2014 Power Issue published by the Australian Financial Review. The AFR claimed “disruption and diffusion” was a central theme of this year’s issue, where an 11-member review panel assessed some 200 individuals and institutions “for their hold on overt, covert or cultural power.”
The lead article introducing the list gasped that panel members felt they were “dealing with a power equation in 2014 that is quite extraordinary, unprecedented -- and scary.” It is scary, but not for the reasons the AFR Power Review Panel may surmise. “It was so disappointing -- frankly remarkable -- that the 2014 Power Lists did not make room for entrepreneurs and business innovators in Australia. That wouldn’t happen in most progressive markets,” Foster, the Konosuke Matsushita Professor of Management at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, said in his presentation. That omission may have something to do with the fact that none of the 11-member Power Review panel -- like most businesses and institutions in Australia -- are exposed to, or have any deep connection with entrepreneurship. Nor do they seem to understand forms of “disruption” beyond the political kind (the list’s shining example of “disruption” was Clive Palmer and his four PUPS). (Source: Board to death: Our fat, dumb corporations are clueless on innovation SANDY PLUNKETT 7 OCT 2014, Business Spectator.)
"If we look to Abbott for answers, we get sloganeering and remedial generalities like those he delivered at last week’s National Press Club speech, the one that was supposed to be 'the speech of his life'.
Generalities like this:
“During 2015, our priority will be creating more jobs, easing the pressure on families, building roads, strengthening national security and promoting more opportunity for all -- with a new families policy and a new small business jobs policy.” Doesn’t every leader everywhere want to do those things? Question is, what jobs? How do we educate and train our youth for them in the short and longer terms? Where’s the opportunity, really? And what is the role of Government beyond 'getting out of the way'? The real fear is that Abbott can’t articulate the 21st century narrative -- for Australian CEOs, for other policy-makers, parents or educators -- because he doesn’t actually 'see' the 21st century in this nuanced way. Abbott believes social media is nothing more than 'electronic graffiti', he is sceptical of the word 'innovation', and he makes little to no attempt to define what it may mean for Australian industry and entrepreneurs moving forward.
Even his much criticised 'command and control' leadership style is the very antithesis to new norms in effective leadership -- in government as well as business -- that have emerged from this hyper connected information age we love and hate in equal doses. I’m not suggesting Abbott deck parliament house out in Google’s primary coloured décor and furnish the lobby with a slippery slide. But give us something more than “I love this country and will do everything in my power to…” It comes across as too much like, “I will try really hard now. For reals this time!”
You can’t have a modern, productive and sustainable economy without developing the technologies, the intellectual property and the skills that underpin that modernisation. We also need leadership that acknowledges these things as real and universal.(Source: Out of touch and out of time: Tony Abbott's disruption equation SANDY PLUNKETT 11 FEB, 2015, Business Spectator)
Indigenous people of Australia
Mosaic Portal Indigenous World
to hundreds of web sites globally
THE ASIAN CENTURY
Australian Government Policy Paper
Commentary on the above paper
Australian National University
Australia's National Security
Australia Defence Association
Australia Cyber Security
After Accountability Failures
FEAR MONGERING, SPIN AND LIES
Irrational responses to the perceived threat of the "bikie" gang member had prompted the South Australian government to bring in draconian laws that over ride the presumption of innocence. Politicians, and the benders and shapers of Australian society, react with inane and over the top responses and dramatic claimsa nd assumptions. Most reently bikie gang members beat an opposition member to death in Sydney airport. Australia's Prime Minister, the NSW Premier and the rest of society's guardians ignored the failure of the Australian Federal Police, under the dead hand of Police Commisssioner Mick Keelty, who described the response by police to be "within the accepted response parameters", to instead pontificate about the need to transpose the South Australian laws to NSW and elsewhere. Kevin Rudd gave one of his considered media responses. He looks seriously into the camera and carefully speaks each word for impact. They are characterised by wordy, carefully phrased, and enunciated crock, of dull motherhood pharses, including words such as - zero tolerance and unacceptable. He intoned that I have today asked the Attorney General's to .... he portays a funereal seriousnessness designed to make Australia's most senior bureaucrat politician appear to be doing something whilst not actually doing anything. The Prime Minister is ably supported by an off8ce which is taking on areputation for playing light and easy with the truth. Plausible demial is not even a consideration in their immediate reaction to questioning, They simply deny, true or not. But that is another issue around the accepted lack of ethics by political leaders regarding their staff.
The issue tranpoding these laws to other states was already on the agenda and this was just a rehash. Victoria and Queensland state governments are opposed. They seem to have a higher regrad for the value of law and justice than the "hyper reactive, community protection" at all costs Premiers of other states. The Prime Minister might well look, with zero tolerance, at the state of security for the Sydney airport and the less than impressive record of his government, and the previous one, for all aiports. At the same time, with zero tolerance, he might look at the continued record of failure, and seemingly questionable competence of a senior public servant, the federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty who may, through his management of Australia's national police force, pose a real, and present, danger to Australia.
The state of the Australian political system leaves a lot to be desired. The research, policy and decisokn making of the politocal parties and their bureaucracies is mediocre. The two major parties, labor and liberal, have taken Australia's democracy and marginalised participation, corrodng and corrupting it along the way. The behaviour of a small number of party apparatchiks and political leaders usurp it as their own for their own self interest. The parliaments and the bureaucracies are in decay. Public policy is framed, reactive and spun to whatever political message and intent is required for the avoidance of accountability and the maintenance of power. Governments are captive to Treasury Departments. Thiscreates a society that is often cruel and disgregarding of the less fortunate. The society is divided into two segments. The haves and those who need the safety net. The public services are ignorant and appear to lack heart. They are detached from humanity slavishly following the whim and demands of the power brokers. The parliaments are ineffective and dysfunctional as house of the people. In November 2007 the nation had a federal election. The outcome was an indication of the malaise of the nation and the inability of voters to judge, with full information and knowledge. Advertising was biased and often misleading. The result was a win by labor on a 0.1% margin or 12,000 votes. The candidates, in the marginal seats, were not enlightening, nor visionary. They were lack lustre and thus the vote was almost evenly divided. There is no faith in govermments. Observe a rise in activism and demands for reforms evidenced by groups such as Get Up. The liberalk oppositions across Australia squabble and in Victoria tyhe leader Ted Ballieu deludes himself that the party has goals and values that are embraced by the community at large. The same recycled members of the party sit in the parliaments and blather about how they can reinvent tehmeslves and have another go. The spoils of public office are good enough even if they never make the government benches.
Similarly the federal liberal party has members in parliament who are openly disliked by many of the nation's voters but who occupy safe voting liberal seats where a number of the voters are as corroded as the elected candidate. The former Prime Minister John Howard foisted these individuals on the nation as Ministers of parliament. They were reprehensible in policy and action terms. The federal liberal party reflects the cancer eating at the heart of the state parties. Labor is no better with corrupt and inept governments in place. In Queensland a young aboriginal girl is constantluy pack raped over a number of years and she was never protected even when in the care of the state government child protection services.
The Victorian senior labor parliamentary leadership refuse to create an independent Crime and Misconduct Commission. Political speak is riddled with slogans and media spin terms - families, working families, climate change, economic conservative - politricians have no minds of their own and are shaped by the parasitic media adviser who adds no value to the nation's democracy but feeds hungrily on the public purse. Similarly political advisers usurp the power of Ministers and publicservants meekly jump to their demands.
|Dirty Energy and Health|
IN HOSPITAL POLICY AND ADMINISTRATION
"The head of the Australian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM) has urged the public not to blame staff for the tragic events at Royal North Shore Hospital this week. Services at the hospital on Sydney's north shore have come under the spotlight this week, after a pregnant woman miscarried in the emergency department toilets after waiting for treatment for two hours. Dr Andrew Singer, president of ACEM, said such tragedies were caused by overcrowding in hospital emergency departments, not the actions of staff. "When emergency departments are overcrowded to the stage that even patients who need a bed urgently cannot be accommodated in a timely manner, unfortunately events like this inevitably occur," Dr Singer said. "Blaming staff because they have nowhere appropriate to place a patient is not what we should be doing." Dr Singer called for more hospital beds to speed up the treatment of patients. He said emergency departments should reduce their reliance on junior staff and inadequately trained temporary staff, saying the practice "limits the ability for emergency departments to provide the best care possible". "There are a lot of dedicated staff in emergency departments who are very frustrated by the conditions they are working under," he said. "Don't blame the workers when the system itself is the problem." (Source: "Don't blame staff for hospital crisis", September 28, 2007, The Australian newspaper)
The pigs are flying>
John O'Sullivan was working in the office of federal Minister Kevin Andrews, in 2006, he was appointed from that role to the bench of the Federal Magistrates Court. He had had three years practical experience as a lawyer. The former Attorney general of NSW, Bob Debus, appointed Jacqueline Trad as a state magistrate in 2005. She was a policy adviser in his office. She took out her practicing certificate three months before appointment. In Queensland, Ann Lyons was appointed to the Supreme Court despite never having practiced as a barrister, the only experience appears to be as President of the Guardianship and Administration Tribunal. Mark Richardson went from the Law Society CEO role to a magistrate appointment. He had limited courtroom experience. Nicola Pain had been appointed by Bob Debus, in 2002, as a judge on the NSW Land and Environment Court. Her experience seems to have been in the environmental movement legal arena. She was Acting Director of the Environmental Defender's Office prior to appointment. The nation awaits the announcement, by the Australian government, of the two replacement justices for the High Court of Australia due in 2006 - 2007.
There is no implication that the above people are not eminently qualified, but there is a perception. What is the process and where is the separation?
Nicholas Stern made climate an economic issue for the Howard government ... click here.
The debate on climate change in Australia largely focuses on greenhouse gases and emissions from carbon dioxide plant. The commercfial television media seem unable to deliver a balanced and in depth debate. Invariably they will look for the controversial hook. The Greens and protagonists, convinced as to their righteous knowledge and awareness will not countenance any alternative opinions and counterviews.
Many other attributes, and influences, are either never mentioned by pro-global warming politicians, environmentalists, journalists (print and electronic) and the fear mongerers who spread doom, such as water vapour in the lower atmosphere, particles in the atmosphere (other than carbon), the shape and density of clouds, the state of the oceans, solar radiation and the vegetable storage base impact the temperature of the planet. It suits Australian Labor Party politicians, Anthony Albanese and music celebrity turned politician Peter Garrett, to cloud issues, demigrate doubters and adopt populist perspectives, arguments and theories without allowing an open and deep debate to flourish. To do so would move the labor, greens and flakey presentations, and messages, from largely hysterical, unscientific cant to factually based informative substance.
They, and others concentrate on carbon dioxide and fossil fuel burning, which does create pollution and assist diseases. However carbon dioxide only occupies a small part of the gases in the atmosphere overall. It is a sscondary greenhouse gas. Water vapour is the largest component. Greenhouse ases are a small part of the structure of the planet and its atmosphere and land and water masses.
Nor will they talk of the average annual surface air temperature of the planet which is circa 14.3 degrees celsius. It should be hotter higher up if greenhouse gases were a culprit. One hundred and fifty years ago the temperature was around 13.6 degrees celsius. The satellite measurement of temperature in the upper atmosphere is somewhat lower. There is evidence that the world is warming but we do not know why. Sea leevls rise as continental ice sheets melt. Volcanoes cause dust and massive changes in the structure of the earth and atmosphere. There is no talk of the earth's orobit around the sun. There is no clear evidence that what we are experiencing in Australia's drought is unusual or never before experienced. Maybe we were not there when it happened last. Most of the journalists writing in the media today were definitely not there and many are semi literate in the science and in many other things. This is a complex system in which we live yet political, media and self interested message creators want to simplify everything.
Perhaps the factor that is most relevant, and glossed over is that citizens are not passive observers in this matter. We are active. People, business, community and others change things well beyond the horizon of the politicians and the media and the self opinionated experts and idealistic and ideological participants. The United Nations tried to crate an international convention and typically one of the most ignorant and self opinionated nations on eartrh, the USA, blocked any implementation. Australia followed suit. Was this spoiling? I do not know. Is there rational debate progressing. No. In Australia we are the last to react because firstly our governments do not want to upset partisan interests, the participants in things want to limit access and participation by outsiders and we are to some extent an immature, inexperienced and under educated, nation at many levels of our society and particularly so in business. This means our learning curve is steep. We as a society are now, even minimally, looking at the consequences of our actions and decisions.
One thing we must not do is turn this into a morality debate. The faith believers point the finger and acll anyone who diasgrees a moral vandal. This is one reason why the Greens party in Australia has little representation of value in parliaments. It is the party of hysteria, and moral crusades, and should be discounted until the members learn to moderate, negotiate and compromise on sound facts rather than ideological principles as their driver. A new threat arises to rational investment it is called "ethical investing". Are we focusing on determining and mandating moral behaviour of companies? That would be an uphill battle in most, if not all, cases. Companies do not meet the same ethical, or moral principles, we see in society at large.
We must pursue this debate adn analysis, conversation and policy framework development, implementation and modification methodically. We must draw on sound scientific principles and research. Until Kevin Rudd demonstrates that the labor party can do this his contribution will be dismissable or only controversially included. Peter Garrett has not demonstrated the capacity for mature and balanced debate yet. His contribution is in the vein of the World Wildlife Fund. One framed with moral overtones and condemnation. If we tried to argue demand side restraint or a mix of technologies including nuclear
The starting point for debate on climate change in Australia has not been facts, and ideas, it has been alarmist interpretation and moralistic finger pointing. Climate change produces extreme events or does it? There si veidence that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased the world surface temperature. However the actual sensitivity to carbon dioxide has changed little. The data we are given is skewed. These temperature increases may well be due to increased levels of water vapour in the atmosphere. Are statisticians double counting perhaps? What are the impacts of medium to high emmissions? The reopresentation of the drought by politicians, media and interested parties, is an example of how far we can deviate from fact and the diversity of views. What we need now is a calming andrational leadership in business, government and academia. We are a far way from getting that unless we appoint someone of the calibre of Sir William Deane, to arbitrate and guide. That is unlikely in this politically charged climate.
Water is Australia's most public, and prominent, policy failure of all of of Australia's governments, since federation.
Under the Australian Constitution the state governmets are responsible for water. There is no more glaring example (other than every other type of infrastructure) of state government, and public service ineptitude, than the issue of water. For almopst a decade Labor Party governments have failed to think and act in the public interest. The people of every state must now endure the burden of punishment for their incompetence. Punishment! When it is their arrogance and inmcompetence in office! What a cheek these useless, and perhaps worthless to public value, politicians and bureaucrats have
Today 29th December 2006, the federal Minister for Agriculture, Peter McGuaran, proposed that the Commonwealath take over the management of water, particularly where major river systems cross the borders. Mr. McGauran accused the states of failing in their constitutional duty. This is not idle politicking and pointing the finger, this is fact. The governments of the past and the current incumbents of many years, the labor party, have been derelict. The issue of water has been evident as a critical priority for the past seven years and all state and territory governments have failed to develop appropriate policies and actions. Industry has even be more reprehensible in their waste. They use drinking water to cool coal fired power stations, to slosh around petrochemical plants to detect petrol leaks, radiator repair companies flush radiators with clean drinking wtare and there many other examples of extreme waste in industry processes. The cotton and rice farms, an industry Australia should not be in, consune gigalitres of the precious resource whilst our river systems suffocate and die. These are not good corporate citizens. Enter any term into Google such as "industry wastes water in Australia", "industry use of drinking water in Australia" and you might expect to find heaps of information. There is very little. Industry lobbysists are effective and there is no national study into how much water industry is using and why they are not using recycled water.
There is a concerted, and sustained effort, to
hide the statistics and the examples. The big corporations subtly, or sometimes blatantly,
threaten governments that they will move to a place where the government is more prone to giving them benefits or
less vigilant. Industry threatens with the "crystal ball gaze" about loss of jobs. The cost to industry to retool and reengineer for
better practice is great. Naturally all will argue that a focus on saving water consumption is preferable to investment that is costly. There is some merit.
Australian businessman Mr. Pratt offered to spend millions on developing solutions if his investment was matched.
demonstrated the enormous potential. Among other things Mr. Pratt wanted to pipe water and to cover
the canals. His entreaty fell on deaf ears. It is this polite indifference, and disregard, for
external contribution that deters quality candiadtes from enetring parliament adn saddles the nation with the state and territory with mediocrity.
There are a number of exceptions, but none of them are in leadership positions.
Council of Australian Governments' record
demonstrates this point quite adequately in the following extract.
"An independent assessment in 2001 stated that progress in allocating water
for the environment in an adaptive management framework is less than
satisfactory in a number of jurisdictions.
Most jurisdictions have not been able to provide evidence
of ecological outcomes of delivering water for the environment
for a number of reasons, including: |
slow and sometimes absent progress in implementation of key reform programs
poorly developed tools for demonstrating ecological outcomes
long time lags between implementation and measurable outcomes
under-funded or non-existent programs for assessing ecological outcomes.
Source: Jones, G Whittington, J McKay, J Arthington, A Lawrence, I Cartwright, S and Cullen, P 2001, Independent assessment of jurisdictional reports on the environmental achievements of the COAG Water Reforms, Cooperative Research Centre for Freshwater Ecology, Canberra, 16 Nov 2005
"No jurisdiction has provided environmental water allocations for all of its river systems. While most jurisdictions have made some progress (NSW, VIC, WA, QLD, ACT, SA), considerably more needs to be done; for example, the unregulated systems of NSW, more than half the rivers of QLD, the River Murray in all States, significant parts of VIC and SA, and all of TAS and NT. Source: Jones, G Whittington, J McKay, J Arthington, A Lawrence, I Cartwright, S and Cullen, P 2001, Independent assessment of jurisdictional reports on the environmental achievements of the COAG Water Reforms, Cooperative Research Centre for Freshwater Ecology, Canberra, 16 Nov 2005, link as above, http://freshwater.canberra.edu.au.
"That's why the days of complacency
about water have got to end. We've got to be on the
front foot. We cannot be solely reliant on surface water resources which are climate
dependent. We have to recognise that we must put in place the water our cities need.
Now, we can afford to do so, and the point that the Prime Minister and I have been
making repeatedly is that urban water is a very profitable business. That's why
these water utilities pay such big dividends to their government owners. There's been
a failure to invest, which has suited state governments and some local governments
because they have pocketed the cash, but now they've got to spend it. There is plenty
of money in the system for water. Money is not the problem.
What's missing has been leadership and determination from the states." (Source: Malcolm Turnbull, Australian Broadcasting
Corporation, 7.30 report, broadcast 26 September 2006)"
Now these governments are panicked.
Australia, water water everywhere and not a drop to spare
government and the spokesperson of a particular corporate water utility lead the way in stupidity.
is as profligerate in its waste, and inept, in policy and action.
Yet we cannot hold governments to account when the very people who elect them fail to participate in their own democracy. The average Australian is a ignoramus when it comes to politics and valuing their democracy. They disengage. When something causes their lives to be impacted they all clamour loudly and stridently. Suddenly they all have opinions, most of them unfounded or gleaned from tabloids, radio shock jocks and shalllow, allarmist current affairs productions put out by Australia's mediocre, commercial television producers and programmers.
The average citizen's only participation is (some do not bother) to turn up and vote every so often. The key members of the political parties, particularly the unions, like it that way. They do not want their cosy control and clubby atmosphere altered by spirited participation and debate. The average citizen is impervious.
"The average Australian uses around 100,000 tonnes of water in a lifetime far more than is in keeping with the continentâ€™s natural aridity and episodicity. Creating a society whose water use is attuned to the natural cycles represents a huge challenge to our awareness, ability to share knowledge and our behaviour, akin to any of the great social and attitudinal changes of the past century. Contemporary science is handicapped by its relative inability to engage the wider society in an effective discourse leading to the uptake of new knowledge. Much of what we discover is not widely shared, and suspicion and mistrust of science are growing." Souce: Australian Academy of Science and Engineering
Other than in political circles, debate
is left largely to a few institutions and a handful of
who claim the issue as their province limiting the community participation
to being "spoken at". This is the style of politics and governance, we are spoken at. We are not invited to
become involved. We can write
to parliamentary committees
and enquiries but the governments of Australia
in most cases shelve these in the libraries of the peoples' houses. They
imply in these papers a desire for participation and interaction but it must be on their terms.
Participation in democracy is deliberately made
uninviting and one must persist often with recrimination and even abuse. We have few champions against the
overbearing hypocrisy and mendacity of our modern Australian governments.
Extract: "Auditors-general who avoid topics which fall within their mandate, just because they are contentious, fail the community. They ought to make lawful comment on matters which concern parliament and the public. And in most of Australiaâ€™s nine jurisdictions, auditors are the only appointed public officers who are empowered to make such a contribution. If they absent themselves, the topic is left to elected officers, politicians, whose views are often tainted by partisanship and too frequently by hypocrisy." Source: Democratic Audit of Australia March 2005 POLiTICAL FINANCE & GOVERNMENT
ADVERTISING WORKSHOP 25 February 2006 The Auditor-General's Role in Politics, Tony Harris, Former New South Wales Auditor-General
The state governments, all run by the Labor Party, have simply ignored the Auditors General reports on infrastructure. Instead abuse, and denigratuio, is the style of these governmments. Senior Ministers do not sully their hands. Back benchers, of the type that infest the Victorian labor government use parliamentary privilege within this "coward's castle". Lacking the intellectual fire power to contribute substance in parliament many are consumed with minutae and inane irrelevancies that add no value for the salary and benefits they are paid. Here is an example of the quality of analysis, and contribution, of one of the members of the Victorian parliament.
" Extract Victorian parliament August 22, 2006: Liberal Party: Clayton candidate, Mr LEIGHTON (Preston) I have been reading a political blog written by Kevin R. Beck, who has some loopy ideas. He has made inane and racist comments about the member for Clayton, and much of his criticism of the member for Clayton is repeated word for word in a letter on page 8 of the Monash Journal of Monday, 21 August 2006. This letter has in fact plagiarised Beckâ€™s blog, which is gross dishonesty...."
The expression of opinion is not invited. Reform is glacial Potential partnerships between the states and the Commonwealth are fractured with arochial politics, self interest and egotistical "pissing up a wall" antics. The state governments' collective responses to this grave social and economic problem will be dealt with by restrictions, fines "Mandatory Water RestrictionsLevel 3 mandatory water restrictions now apply across Sydney, Illawarra and ... The restrictions apply to all Sydney Water customers including residents, ... www.sydneywater.com.au/)
"Melbourne Water : Water : Water Storages : Water StoragesRestriction stages are triggered when the amount of water in our storages falls ... Melbourne will move to Stage 3 water restrictions from Monday 1 January. ... www.melbournewater.com.au/)
"Qld Water Commission : Level 4 restrictions start 1 NovemberLevel 4 water restrictions come into effect tomorrow with the Queensland Water Commission asking business, industry and government agencies to do more to www.qwc.qld.gov.au/
"ACTEW - Water Conservation: Information pertaining to water restrictions in the ACT. ... Permanent Water Conservation Measures and Temporary Water Restrictions are mandatory. ...
Drought Response and Water Restrictions - SA WaterClick here to find out if you are covered by water restrictions or permanent water ... Level 3 water restrictions on the way click here for details ... www.sawater.com.au/SAWater/
and of course these will be accompanied by threats. Out of the closet will come the little corporate autocrat.
Friday 29 December 2006, a smirking water utility spokesperson explained with muted glee how
they could restrict the water flow to conusmers by closing the valve that feeds the mains supply to the house.
This is the autocratic style of the middle executive in Australian corporations when they smell power and influence. Gros stupidity in stoking fear and emotional response.
The Victorian government was unavailable for comment.
"Vic water wasters to face shower bans, December 29, 2006 - 5:59AM, Ser under tough new water bans. Stage three restrictions, beginning on New Years Day, will enable water authorities to cut water pressure to wasteful homes, News Limited reports. Under the drastic move, offending householders would not have enough water to shower." (Source Sydney Morning Herald)
This would follow the usual fines and warnings which are the state governments' primary weapon in addressing public policy issues. The spin doctors will begin the campaign to tell us that it is the cosnujmer who is primarily to blame. The media will follow the stpry and look for the serila waster and out them to the world. The charge wil lead by the mediocre current affairs programmes of Channel Nine, Seven and Ten across Australia. Poe faced presenters will dramatise and concoct feigned outrage.
"New laws that come into force in the new year will allow Melbourne water authorities to punish households that flout water saving rules. Stage three water restrictions will apply in Melbourne from Monday. People who do not comply can be hit with fines of more than $420, and water authorities will also be able to restrict the supply to serial offenders. The head of South East Water, Dennis Cavagna says repeat offenders will have their water reduced to a trickle. "It is a very a harsh measure, I wouldn't like to have my water restricted because it means it's nearly impossible to have a shower, you can have a cup of tea but it's a very restricted flow," he said." (Source: Australian Broadcasting Corporation, News on Line)
Why bother engaging with government, and the policy implementers, when they have directly failed to do the job fro which they are employed? Public service departmental heads have been silent on this issue. Perhaps they have been gagged by their political masters? The decision makers have failed to undertake research and development, build infrastructure and to create solutions decades ago. They are fundamentally inept and invariably turn to thuggish, and punitive, solutions. To actually build infrastucture in Australia would indeed be a novel idea. A wily person might patent the concept of "politician thinking and acting in the public good and interest with attendant drawings".
The Minister for Water in Victoria Australia, the Honourable John Thwaites, announced, in April 2007, that water charges would rise between 8% and 20& depending upon where the water was being delivered and the infrastructure value. For decades the government of the state, as with the governemnts of all Australian jurisdictions, have neglected building dams any form of water infrastructure. We are in crisis and these failures of our administration pompously pronounce without, any acceptance of dereliction of duty or accountability. They see an opportunity to gather revenue. We have no system of bringing our politicians to account. Since the major parties control the candidates and electoral processes they ensure their survival at minimum personal cost. They are cannibals in the politicals esne that they will eat their own if their personal survival is threatened. One wonders what they may come up with to overcome the perfect storm enveloping them?
on Australian Governance Standards
For Kevin Rudd's dashing entry to the federal labor party parliamentary leadership go to the 2007 federal election site
The leader of the Australian Labor party in the federal parliament is Kim Beazley. He seems to be oblivious to the proposition that he has a lame duck front bench, since two of his shadow ministerial members have lost labor pre-selection for the 2007 federal election. Since the party members do not think they are worth their salt why does he think that the people of the nation should have to put up with lower standards and competencies? Kim Beazley cannot, under even the best conditions, deliver a labor win against John Howard except by the liberals making a massive number of blunders. It is indeed a disgrace that Beazley might assume that voters are ignorant and he may assume the office of Prime Minister, based, not on his ability and that of his colleagues, but on the failure of the incumbent government. Kim Beazley is inable to clearly articulate any topic. He dissembles and waffles losing his audeince in a rambling wind bag delivery style. His is a convoluted leadership of inconsistency and empty thetoric. Theories, and words, rather than a blue print by which the nation may go forward.
The Kim Beazley's policies (which apparently are not the labor party's, are not that flash that they attract huge support in the broad community. The party rarely conveys them. They stick them on a web site in the vein hope that somone may care to look at them.
Such arrogance to call them Beazley's policies. Why are they not the collective policies of the labor party members? Why have the other parliamentary members if they cannot think up some to add to the mix? Why not have aa Rudd policy, a Gillard policy? The Beazley approach to government, lies in the "Caesar" model. It is an insult to democracy and representation. This truth will hit Mr. Beazley in 2007 and it will hit the party. The Beazley office starethists, the office staff and the faithful supporters behave as if they are in a fortress under siege. They do not reply to correspondence, do not seek out meetings byond their own cosntituents and do not canvass broad or external opinions. They are besotted with a style of omnipotence eschewing any external interaction that does not suit their view of the world and the future. This is in stark contrast to the consrevative government of John Howrad, where Ministers and their staff seek out broad input even if it is not in keeping with their own politics or beliefs. They appear ready to change their policies, and decisions, if convinced.
The dilemma for the labor party is that many parliamentary members, and party officials, want him removed as leader but they do not seem to see their options clearly. The party will do much better when they elect Julia Gillard as the first female leader of the opposition, in 2007, and ask Kim Beazley to retire from federal politics along with a large number of current parliamentary members. His interests and those of his supporters should not be placed above the public interest as they are now. His career interests are not synonymous with the public interest as Mr. Beazley appears to believe and would have the people believe this also.
Water, a critical resource, is a focus of public policy in 2006 in Australia. The state governments of Australia have been derelict in the nation over decades. They have failed to maintain and build infrastructure. They have preferred to take the dividends from the utilities into their coffers to be squandered. They will not build dams, will not cover the canals and will not build pipelines. We consume the greater amount of our water in regional areas and we lose about 70% of that in evaporation. The governments are obsessed with surplus, risk averse and anti-capital works investment. Public policy is something akin to political policy. No matter how much advice they receive they ignorantly continue with their own objectives. They will only change course if their control and retention of elected seat in the parliament is threatened.
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About governments, corporations, people and events, research and ideas
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on governments and corporations
Surpluses in government coffers across the nation have accrued from regressive taxation and the greed and ideology of Australia's myopic political and business class. Australia should have full employment. However it cannot because state governments fail in their macroeconomic policy. The opportunities for work in the rural sectors of Australia are limited. Not by the mere effect of distance and economics but by the fact that state government headquarters and bureaucracies are predominantly in places that suit the lifestyles of politicians and senior bureaucrats.
Surplus does not come from productivity. The modern political leader wants a good credit rating from self appointed international bureaus. They know it is more about media, and perception, and pandering to powerful interests than it is about the reality of innovative government and policy. Bracks. like his peers, is mired in boring and archaic beliefs that do not change, and morph, with time and circumstance. The Australian political parties sing from the same song sheetwhen it comes to economics and fiscal policy. The media in Australia, lacking the resources and support of their boards and shareholders, cannot investigate and report and challenge. The tabloids, with their 800 word columns, and myopic editorial directors, cannot inform the public about our government and their policies with any vigour or substance.
Read the Age Newspaper in Melbourne, listen to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and the shrill voices of Australia's politicians in the federal labor party and the not for profit do gooders and you might be lead to believe that it may never rain again in Australia. Such is the hysteria and misrepresentation carried by the media and put about by the domms dayers who smell a scent of passing worry in the community. According to these calamity tellers Australia has never experienced a drought like this. The hottest October day for a 100 years! Well what caused the hottest day back then? Where was the gereenhouse effect? Where were the smelters and coal fired power stations, the cars and other monsters of the modern era? Were there just farting cows?
Australia's largest, publicly owned telecommunications company, Telstra, is an embarrassment. It is a very public example of the poor quality of management in Australian enterprise. The Chief Executive, Sol Trujillo, imported by the Board from the United States of America, has brought with him the trade mark arrogance and lack of cultural awareness of the US executive. He has managed to alienate the Australian government which is the majority shareholder and insteda of adding value to the enterprise has presided over its lowest value in its history. He has brought with him a group of loud, and similarly insensitive, over priced executives. The practice is to surround oneself with the appropriate executive types. The principle obejcetive of the appointment of Mr. Trujillo seems to be at odds with what the government and shareholders might have beleived. The Board of Telstra may have made a calculating move to forcibly bring the government to hell on its view using the tactics adopted by Mr. Trujilllo in his former positions in telecommunications in the USA. To weaken the regulator and to reinforce the Board members' individual positions and their personal objectives. Who knows?
Mr. Trujillo definitely serves the Board and its interests and these interests may not be synonymous with the shareholders' interests including those of the Australian government. The individual taxpayer seems irrelevant to the Board and Mr. Trujillo and we are treated with more than a modicum of contempt by Telstra executives at every level of the organisation. The Telstra custonmer charter is like many other companies full of motherhood and rhetoric. The Board members, and executives, have a lot to personally gain if Mr. Trujillo is successful. The shareholders seem to have little to gain other than being lucky to break even on their investment. The government should as a matter of urgency legislate the copper and infrastructure network out of Telstra to a public owned entity even if this means paying Telstra (its private shareholders) for the value. If they do not then Telstra Board and Mr. Trujillo will win the end game.
The corporate governance, and other processes, such as how tenders are won and contracts are awarded is under the spotlight and the methodologies have been questioned. They look, on the face of it, to be contracts for mates and past business associates. This is a minor irritation in the whole saga. Publicly Telstra looks less than inspiring. At the annual general meeting (August 2006) Mr. Trujillo, stated "we were taking tough medicine ...". I ponder who is taking that medicine? Certainly not the Chief Executive, Mr Trujillo, on his multi million dollar salary, certainly not his US compatriots known as the "amigos", who enjoy salaries without delivery and performance achievements. The top eight get in this public enterprise earn $AUD27,000,000,000. The people taking the medicine are the employees made redundant in a typical example of how executives of this calibre on the face of it seem to exhibit a common penchant for wasting capital, key holing, stereotyping and undervaluing Australia's human talent.
Also taking the medicine are the shareholders who have lost a large percentage of their investment value. Then comes the government and the Minister, Helen Coonan, to whom Trujillo and his buffoons are dishing out insults and humiliation. The CEO says that Telstra is about looking after shraholders. He and the executives have a "spin" on the usual methods. Trashng the value of the stock, willowing the talent through redundancies, and engaging in brinkmanship with the regulator and the federal government seems to be at odds with the more traditional methods. Telstra is majority owned by the Australian government and is a public utility. Telstra's cavalier attitude to public policy and regulation and insulting behaviour towards the Australian parliament is an immature display by people, board and executive, who are besotted with their own self esteem, image and self beliefs as to their value and abilities. As a result Australia's public policy and processes are suffering damage. The T3 Telstra sale is not about value of the te;co. It is about the government selling off its sahres. The offer borders on bribery and unethical pressures and offers. The prspectus seeks to buy support by a discount, excessive dividend as sweetenre and a future that is at best represented as rosy. The Minister should direct the board to resign, for its performance in supervision of loss of value (50%) of past investors sahres. Send Mr Trujillo, and the amigos, packing back to the USA The price of paying them out may be good value when compared to putting up with him and them being resident here in charge of this valuable enterprise.
Smart moves in 2006 initiated by federal minister Joseph Hockey
delayed, and frustrated, by Australian banks, corporate and vested interests and not the least by privacy advocates and politicians with poor technical knowledge, bloody minded political stupidity, ignorance and lots of conspiracy theories
One of the most annoying misrepresentations is the justification offered by politicians for the use of unilateral decision making power in the hands of a Minister of government and the duopoly. The risks of this can be seen every day in public policy decisions in the federal portfolios of immigration, health and in state and territory local government planning. There are numerous examples.
It is argued by the political duopoly (labor and liberal dominance) that it is important that the decision maker is accountable to the people, through the ballot box. This is a spurious piece of cant. A politician who implies that voters can get rid of a Minister at the ballot box are treating the electorate as if they are dills. The most common occasion when a Minister is removed is if they become a political liability to, or are perceived to be smarter, and therefore dangerous, to the leader's position. They in effect are athreat to the executive members of government and their supporters.
We may be able to turn the carousel and have the alternative government but the dead wood and the inneffectual almost always remain behind. We do not choose the candidates on the local ballot paper so who are the politicians trying to fool? We do not choose the Ministers of our governments. They are chosen by the leader who doles out the favours and the spoils. Talent is not a prerequisite.
The choice of candidate, and Minister, in Australias is not a decision on determining ability for there is no performance, and selection criteria, for me or anyone else to follow in selecting a candidate. One cannot simply fill out a form and put anyone in. There are onerous conditions, in favour of the organised parties, to meet. I, like other citizens, am permitted to vote on elections at whim of the ruling politial parties. I am not permitted a vote on issues of substance. In many cases I am not permitted to commuicate to members of parliament. Instead I must put up withy a screening by unelected advisers and office staff, many of whom are not capable of exercising judgement or interpretation about the ciontent which is being sent or the likely action of the sender if they are treated with contempt or dismissed. The Australian Wheat Board scandal demonstrates how unethical and often incompetent many in the political and business realms are.
Citizens are forced into the humiliation of having to go through political hacks, incompetent public servants and political staff, to be fobbed off with cant or meaningless replies (if I am lucky) or be largely ignored by the mass of members of parliaments. Some however do give citizens the time of day, but they are in the minority.
The voting system in Australia is orchestrated to deliver a two party preferred voting outcome except in rare cases where independent candidates garner greater than 50% of the primary vote. Pre-selection processes, and protection for sitting Ministers, such as blatantly orchestrated by Premier Steve Bracks, in February 2006, ensures that there is no real Ministerial accountability or performance measuerement beyond political dimensions. Their re-election to parliament, is all but guaranteed. This is farcical since the overall constituency of Australia's parliaments are not representative of electorates or peoples' needs. It is a rigged and exceptionally well managed system, of corrupted and corroded interests.
It takes a large voter swing to dislodge a sitting Minister in a safe seat. It also takes a very strong outcry, media attention, parliamentary debate and activism, to make a Minister accountable during the life of a parliament.
The Prime Minister of Australia. John Howard, has demonstrated this quite clearly. He has remodelled his code of conduct continuously since 1985 to ensure that the Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries who suffer from ethical dementure, as they did in the first term in office of the Howard coalition government, does not reoccur. It is hardly an ethical code of any substance and but instead mirrors the priority of the Prime Minister. In any event most of the "naughty little boys" were resurrected after a period in purgatory. Why have a parliament when we can have leaders and Ministers who sequester all to themselves? The answer might be make it look as if we have a participative, and representative, democracy by enticing more independents to run for public office.
AN OBSESSION WITH ECONOMY AND BUDGET SURPLUS|
The former President of the United States, Bill Clinton, famously said - "its about the economy stupid". Today in Australia the central political message and policy platform is economy. The examination of policy and its worth by the media, political and other interests and business, is through the narrow prism of economy. Kenneth Davidson, says in an editorial in Dissent, Number 23, Autumn Winter 2007, "the utility of economists depends on them serving the interests of the most powerful groups in society." He theorises that they provide soft power to reinforce particular policies. Economists can tell very complex stories and in doing so can make politicians and corporate executives feel good about their behaviour and decisions.
In the week of April 26, 2004 economists predicted, expected and theorised that the inflation graph for the quarter would rise to near the threshold that the Reserve Bank of Australia finds acceptable. It did not happen. It fell. Earlier in the year they had predicted rate rises by the central bank. They did not occur. The record performance of, and analysis by, the Australian and Productivity Commission and the Australian Departments of Treasury and Finance are not good. ("Australia power and soxciety", Kevin Beck)
(September 2007) The Australian government created an umbrella department within the social services portfolio. It is called the Department of Human Services (DHS). Among its portfolio of activities it is responsible for the implementation of the government's Access Card. The government's Australian identity card under another name. A single smart card that would replace some 17 - 21 existing government cards and vouchers. The justification is to make payments efficient and transparent, reduce paperwork and increase productivity and efficiency in the public service. It would also make access to eligible, and approved, social security and other describes the justification for the Department. The existing departments, Centrelink and Medicare, among others,were not enamoured with its creation. Particularly the senior ranks. If DHS achieves its objectives it will take control of $A100 billion of taxpayers funds making it a super agency. The governments et about trying to convince the people of Australia that the smart card was not an identity card. The Department assisted. This is not true. It is, among other things, an identity card. The Department plans to create a separate and monolithic compuetr system which contains, on line in real time, files of people, pictures and data, linked to external systems in other state and territory jurisdictions. The system stores the image pictuire and data in a format that make it capable of being used in surveillance and other activities. The government could simply upgrade the Medicare card with a chip and make it a transaction card in the same manner as for the Access Card. The Minister, Christopher Ellison, could do this now, under regulation. There is no indication that his performance in this portfolio, as for his last in Justice, will be anything other than mediocre. While he dithers the cost runs into the hundreds of millions.
The problem for the government is the identity issue and the data they now hold. The database for the current social and medical welfare system is extremely corrupted and unreliable. The population would havew to be reenrolled to make a new database. There is no need for a photo on the card.
The Access Card is such a hot political potato that the original Secretary, Ms Patricia Scott was removed from the role to be replaced by a seasoned senior bureaucrat, Ms Helen Williams AO. The Department under Ms Scott had hired external consultants, for millions of dollars whose knowledge, ability and value is can be really questioned. DHS has cost the Australian taxpayer tens of millions without return and would if allowed to proceed create a new technology system in the hundreds of millions that has questionable value and intenty. In addition DHS has cost the industry tens of millions and in its ignorance has stopped investment in smart chip technology, new machine technologies and other industry sectors. The industry has stood still waiting for a decision on the Acces Card. This also says someting abou the technological capability of the design of the card, its interaction with the computers that operate the databases and the capability fo sucha s ystem into the future. It makes a mockery of the Australian Public Service Code of Conduct. For these, and other reasons, it should be abolished.
Hand in hand with DHS travels the Department of Defence. It has an overarching role to work with the Australian Government Information Office (AGIMO, under Special Minister of State, gary Nairn) to implement standars within the Smart Card Framework. It has a similar group of consultants, of debateable value, who tinker in the smart card technologies. Rather than the federal, state and territory governments working together on a national plan for a consistent identity card for police, defence, public servants and employees who work in sensitive idnustries (transport, airlines, powe statons, water etc)we have a hotch potch approach. We have identity cards being produced on cheap desk printers. Country Energy (a NSW state owned enterprise) has just let a contract for a photographer to travel around NSW to their 23 locations taking pictures to insert into an identity document. This is a seriously questionable security procedure. The Department of Defence instead has decided to have its own stand alaone, desk top ystems at 32 sites across the nation. It is not the brighest way to approach national security but it is, like most agencies and the Australian government istelf, not interested in altrenative or challenging opinions and ideas. The federal bureaucracy has apparently lost a lot of its capability for coherent action across departments, intelligent and cooperative develoments and actions. It has instead become a disjointed entity captive to its own internal machinations and the quality of advice from experts, and contractors, who lack seemingly lack capacity and knowledge. This is to my mind the legacy of the leadership of the Secretary of the Prime Ministrer and Cabinet, Dr. Peter Shergold. ("Managing failure", Kevin Beck)
underperforms on policy, taxation
and fiscal policy reforms and economy modernisation
The Australian government of John Howard has been lauded for its eceonomic management and yet it presides over an archaic set of economic and fiscal policies particularly taxation. Australia is uncompetitive and the taxation framework created by Prime Ministerial aspirant, Peter Costello, is not cutting edge. It is a poorly framed, cobbled together mismatch and hotchpot of undisciplined and ill considered legislative and regulatory mazes.
The supporters of the governments economic framework accept mediocrity as the acceptable foundation. There is however a clamouring chorus of credible voices and interests expressing demands for reform. I am in a quandary as to why Peter Costello, an obviously underperforming custodian of Australia's fiscal plicy would be considered for the top job based on his record as Treasurer and federal tax collector? He simply digs in and refuses to budge, instead he has an enquiry, to tel him what any competent Treasurer would already know. The system is broken and is holding back the nation. He is holding back the nation. The implication in the clamouring is that economic performance, and investment in wealth creation, could be higher than it is if a competent person held Treasury. The Australian labor party, in opposition, presents no credible policy or plan to reform the system and take the nation forward. It is a party that offers no value as it trashes about in frantic leadership crisis creation as an alternative to rational debate and policy creation. Malcolm Turnbull a liberal party member, seems to have a clearer vision as to where Australia should be heading and what reforms are needed to Peter Costello's soup kitchen mash. If John Howard was the economic guru suggested, how is it that he is silent and tolerant of this failure? Could it be that political interest over r8ides national interest and he does not want to aggravate Peter Costello's supporters who think that he will assume the mantle? The Business Council of Australia is of the same mind set regarding the urgent need for reform.
Questions of consistency and competency
The Cole enquiry into the payment of bribes to Suddam Hussein's regime for wheat shipments raises a number of questions, and issues, well beyond the pragmatics of how world trade works.
The Prime Minister, John Howard, continually refers to his government's ability to manage the economy. He uses this is as a principal flagship of his own, and his government's capacity, but what is
The Prime Minister has modified, and then cast off, his code of conduct for ministers within his government and it is unlikely given that, that John Howard would counsel Mr. Abbott or even acknowledge such ministerial obligations. Similar incompetence, and lack of under understanding, exist in the federal portfolios of Immigration, and within other portfolios.
Foreign Affairs, part 1
Foreign Affairs part 2 .... PM - Australia to launch Wheat Board inquiry at UN behest ... of Foreign Affairs and Trade questioned over its knowledge of the scandal. ... Yesterday in Parliament the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, ... failures in ministerial administration go on and on with incompetence evidenced in the Australian Government, Department of Defence, Senate Inquiry into the effectiveness of Australia's Military Justice System ... Senator Hill addresses the issues of gang rape, suicide and military justice. ... within the Defence portfolio, Employment Relations and the Attorney General's public policy skills. What was the cry of the King of England regarding Sir Thomas Moore?
From: S A V E - Australia Inc
Don't give up. Get up.
This is a critical moment for Australia. As John Howard takes control of the Senate, its time to get up and tell his Government that we will hold them accountable.
Over the last nine years, John Howard's government has taken our country in a direction that many of us find very distressing. Next week John Howard's government will take control of the Senate. For the first time in a generation, a government will have absolute power. We already know that the government is planning radical changes that will fundamentally change our country. We need to show John Howard's government that it can't just do whatever it wants. Together with our friends, we have created a website to help mobilise Australians who care about where this country is going. It's called GetUp.org.au. At this critical moment, John Howard and the Coalition Senators need to know that even though the other parties can't hold them to account - we will.
Send the Coalition Senators in your state or territory this video message from ordinary Australians telling them that, from August 9, Australians are starting a movement to hold the Coalition government to account
Once you've sent your message please take a minute to let all your friends know about GetUp. Together, we can build a community of people who are going to help build a more progressive Australia.
Thanks for being part of this.
Jeremy, David and the GetUp team
The work of 'GetUp! Action for Australia' is endorsed and supported by
S A V E - Australia Inc.
Whilst PPPs have been a staple form of funding internationally
The public sector agencies who have taken this avenue have been found to be lacking in contract framing, over sighting and accountability. The Australian government's employment services management has been substandard and the reported records of performance have been manipulated in an attempt to cover ineptitude, mismanagement and excessive costs over what a public agency might deliver. However these types of contracting out exercises are not PPP. The true nature of a public private partnership can be seen in legislative directives in countries such as Canada.
Engineers Australia have published a view on how to use PPPs effectively.
One might be lead to believe that there is a plethora of PPPs in operation. This is not the case. There are few if any success stories. They are probably misnamed also. They are not PPPs they are BOOT (build, own and transfer) contracts and not true partnerships. Those PPPs where proposed predominantly by state governments have been crafted based on poorly constructed contracts with excessive returns to attract industry participation and penalties that subject the public to extensive risk and costs. Governments have misrepresented, or omitted, to tell the full story claiming benefits in isolation of any real in depth evaluative published studies. Governments have framed these PPP contracts as if there is certainty in outcomes. The public sector appears to think it can read the future. If anything it probably models the worst scenario possible and then frames the financing around some sort of averaging, amelioration scenario. It is difficult to determine why agencies, and governments, should be so immature and inept in modern financial principles and disciplines? The Sydney tunnel is predicated on determining (predicting) a number of imponderables as if they are certainties. This is a ridiculous way to approach the development and frameworks. Instead of first creating the environment in terms of taxation and investment regulatory regimes to support innovative funding solutions states and federal governments operate in isolation of each other. The respective state or territory government apply on an individual basis to Treasury for approval to offer taxation incentives and other financing instruments. There is no federal policy, and legislation, to allow superannuation funds to participate by altering the risk legislation that governs their investments. It is feasible to ensure a secure return to the funds as well as a reasonable return to the private sector but it is as if this cooperative development between jurisdictions is beyond the comprehension of Australia's fiscal policy creators. The best the Australian government can offer is a discussion focused on transportation, rather than the broader fiscal framework and regulatory regime. PPs have been made difficult by public administration ineptitude and the self interested greed of those designing the instruments with excessive fees and charges, creating a combined recipe for poor performance, disincentive and failure. ("Managing infrastructure or not", Kevin Beck)
Telstra Corporation versus the Australian government's Senator Conroy
Telstra, Australia's largest corporation, is challenging the credentials, thinking, abilities and the policy innovation and credibility of the Australian government. One might wonder at their talent since they put it about, since taking office in 1985, how happy they were with the previous board and management. Telstra share value has dropped a staggering $14 billion and it has lost $5 billion in poor investments. Much of what we were told by the government, and Telstra, in the past borders on fictional. The Australian government has never been interested in contradictory opinion or reality that conflicts with its perception of how the world is.
This new intrigue will be interesting. The Howard government is well known for its responses when confronted, and above all humiliated, by being made to look like incompetent dills. Treasurer Costello and Finance Minister Minchin have been using some very rubbery numbers, regarding Telstra, in their accounts over the past seven years. This is despite almost every member of parliament being told that The situation at Telstra was not as the nation was being told.
Which is the bigger media spin machine and the most tactical? Who has the biggest egos? Sol Trujillo CEO, and the Board Members of Telstra, or Ministers, Minchin, Costello, Coonan and of course, Howard? The Australian government is not averse to using unethical practices, tactics, lies and misrepresentations and it appoints the Telstra board members. Decide for yourself or ....join in the fun....
"Confronting the political cartel in Australia", Kevin Beck
Examining the Australian government's industrial relations policies and their ... perceived impact ...
Myths and Muslims ... Australians' perceptions ...
Australia is being taken down the toilet by political and corporate self interest ... do we care? ...
The Mosaic Portal in America
Australia's ally, Indonesia, and the role of the state, questions ... as to possible genocide ...
Many Australians cannot afford to buy everything ... they need ...
Barriers to Brendan Nelson's Political Career Aspirations (November, 2005)
(2005) Minister for Education, Science and Training, Brendan Nelson has pursued an ideological objective to outlaw compulsory student union fees in Australian universities. There is absolutely no public policy value in the Australian government's pursuit of this objective. This is an internal administrative matter for universities not thuggish politicians. This legislation affects a miniscule number of Australians. It is just ignorant, interferring politicians, who have a personal vendetta and gladiatorial perception of their role. Brendan Nelson, and his cohorts, are sad, little, people for having done this and hey denigrate the power of thestate. However he, and they would be oblivious to, or dismissive, of such a proposition. The ignorant, and power driven career politicians in Australia always are. They smirk and beat their chests with peurile victories that do not enhance the nation.
These student unions fund a myriad of activities and services to students. Some of the student unions have a chequered history and some, like the University of Melbourne student union executive, have brought the whole lot into disrepute. The Melbourne University union went broke courtesy of the son of a former labor politician and his management of the student union. The student union executive entered into a multimillion ($40,000,000 I think from memory) property development deal.
There is merit in the argument that students should choose what services they want to buy. The bleating of the existing Executive bodies across the nation ring with some element of self-interest. Power and position are aphrodisiacs and study can be boring, and unrewarding in terms of ego and status, by comparison. I have been at three universities for many years between 1980 and 2004. I cannot say that the union delivered me value for the hundreds of dollars I paid them. For that matter trade unions were not much better at customer focused services. It must be the "closed shop" mentality they that these organisations breed that makes outsiders suspicious of motive and value.
The liberal party has long harboured an ideological obsession that these unions are "labor party" training grounds. It is a manic and puerile obsession hardly worthy of grown adults. However many politicians are still in puberty particularly on this issue. Liberal Senator Ciobo, says that the prospective failure to get the bill through will "put a dent in many liberal members". This is demonstrative of the maturity level in our parliaments where petty and trivial matters consume the vacuous mind. Brendan Nelson offers a sweetener to unievsrity critics, $80,000,000 over three years for the transition.
The National Party, in coalition blocking the bill, wanted to know how the facilities will be funded if fees become voluntary. They do not accept the typical shallow proposition that students will buy the services if they really want them. It is a nice theory but it conveniently ignores human nature. This is where the liberal party justifications fail on many of their policies. Thinking in cold, economic and rational logic they seem unable to comprehend that most humans do not follow logic, and particularly, utility thought. The politicians who are consumed with the student union issue attended university when student activism was at its highest. Many of them were political activists and may assume that the student of today is similarly disposed. The liberals do not have the organising skillls and structures that labor possess. Their branches and associations are disjointed and their structure is decentralised and fragmented. This tends to lead them into a rabid response against any advantage the labor party may have through its superior ability. Rather than develop these they abuse their positions of power to legislate against their perceived enemies. In doing so they degrade democracy and demonstrate the paucity of leadership quality amongst their ranks.
The Nationals are concerned that sporting facilities and amenities will disappear particularly in regional centres. They propose a simple amendment to the bill guarantee funding through the university. Stubborn resistance by the likes of the Honourable Senators who want an "all or nothing outcome" ensures that extensive time and resources are wasted. It is testament to Minister Brendan Nelson's political, and negotiation, skills that he has been unable to broker a middle position. Enter the Prime Minister John Howard, the master politician. He is full aware that Barnaby Joyce, National Senator, is being isolated by the bent members of his own party and that Senator Fielding (Family First) independent Senator is for sale at a political price. He got into the Senate on a hair margin from memory it was under 2% and it was labor's strategic stupidity, in allocating preferences to him, that put him into parliament. This genius of a strategy cost a labor senator entry into parliament. So labor now finds itself hung on its own petard and dangling in the wind.
Fielding gets his fifteen minutes of fame with the Prime Minister. The deal is cut. What could it be? Extra superannuation, perhaps, what else might be the price of his vote? This would be useful given that Fielding is a "oncer" in that he cannot win the next election for his Senate seat. Could it be a deal on RU486 the "morning after pill" which is obsessing the mind of Minister Tony Abbott and the other religious zealots infesting the parliament, who believe they are ordained to save everyone from sin and serve a nebulous deity.
Senator Ron Boswell from Queensland, Barnaby's home state is wetting himself at the prospect of telling Barnaby that his gallant stand has been for naught. Glee is written all over Boswell's road map face. In the corridor of parliament house Barnaby is showing the signs of carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. Fielding and Joyce, novice guinea pigs, in the snake pit, struggling to avoid the pythons.
Minister Brendan Nelson has held endless talks with Joyce and Fielding and having nowhere to go he has to take a punt and put the legislation up. It is not his call, it is the Prime Minister's decision. However Brendan, with leadership aspirations for the top job, will put a spin on how it all comes out. This exercise has made many enemies. The Vce Chancellor of Sydney University has used the word "redneck" to decrsibe policy supporters. Universities, through their networks, and alumnies, in Australia and internationally are influential and powerful. Brendan Nelson, and the Australian government, are ferementingmany enemies for the future. It is not clear if they, or their strategists, comprehend this. The government, and Ministers, are exposed and can be attacked on many diverse fronts simultaneously. They need an efficient, innovative and visionary, bureaucracy. Instead they have shaped it into mediocrity.
The Minister is the client and that, in the case of a significant number of the Howard ministry, means that administrations are degraded. The most prominent low grade administrations are under the Ministers of Immigration, Foreign Affairs, Justice and Attorney General, Defence, Customs and Workplace Relations and Employment. The Ministers of these portfolios it could be argued, based on recorded stuff ups, keep their jobs on the political patronage of the Prime Minister, not on ability. These departments cost more, in human life, suffering, stupidity, arrogance and ignorance, and wasted monies, than the value they are purported to bring to the nation.
Brendan Nelson should pay more attention to the quality of management, performance and resource se in his multi-billion dollar department. That is likely to require skills, he and his advisers, do not possess.
Brendan Nelson is exposed, disadvantaged and at risk, in his political aspirations by many factors not the least being that his Department of Education, Training and Science (DEST) does not operate on best management theory and practice. This is a department where the senior management have a background, and experience, based on public sector management without the attendant financial and systems expertise. DEST is, in a number of significant areas of activity, archaic, and inefficient, in its practices. One senior public servant from another department told me that DEST is considered a soft touch, like "taking candy from a baby." The operation of DEST, highlighted in many of its internal review documents, over recent years, stands in stark contrast to the Australian Public Service Commission's claims for the Australian public service rhetoric.
If the Commonwealth Auditor General were to conduct an efficiency audit DEST is likely to fail on many counts.
The first is on integrity. People, who should know better, at DEST engage in hypocrisy. The Department ran a two-hour hypothetical in August 2005, where the most senior executives pontificated with with the famous QC, Geoffrey Robertson, about the "code of public service practice and ethics."
The Public Service Act 1999 (the PSA 1999), which came into effect on 5 December 1999, sets out the Australian Public Service (APS) Code of Conduct, and the APS Values. Together, the APS Code of Conduct and the APS Values set out a clear statement of the principles and standards of behaviour for all APS employees; across Australia and they purportedly set out the responsibilities and accountabilities to the Australian public and to the Minister and all departmental employees are required to comply with them.
Key features of the APS Code of Conduct and Values include the need at all times to:
Apparently the handbook of use of Commonwealth assets, put out by
DEST Information Technology Security, and references therein to the Criminal Code are irrelevancies.
For I have seen pornography being distributed within the National Office email system by senior staff
who treated it as a joke. One wonders how advanced the IT systems are for tracking offensive material, and mirror storing, of the pornography.
I naturally reported its existence to my two supervisors, and to staff working near me. They were disinterested.
One may well gag on the hypocrisy. I have discussed perceived actions of victimisation by senior managers against staff
and examined the hierarchical system, "the pecking order", of authority. I have observed it over a number of weeks.
The State Office Network Review, and subsequent "invitation from management for employees to tell their views" elicited few responses. The Report content, and the feedback failure, provides a window into the human mind of thousands of employees across the organisation. The email (anonymous feedback opportunity) and telephone recording line for opinions on the Review remained empty. The last review of sorts, a few years earlier, was not acted upon as for the ones before it. Perhaps staff thought this one was just a cosmetic exercise. The normal assurances that this was not a job cutting exercise were given even though the Rpeort recommended the closure of eleven DEST regional offices. This will not occur in the electrorates of the government Ministers and liberal and national parties. It may occur in Peter Andren's independent electorate of Calare, it may also occur in labor's nominated electorates.
Honesty, openness in communication, and feedback, did not strike me a being amongst DEST's greatest achievements or badges of the modus operandi.
As for interactive communication, the philosophy, as I was so aptly reminded, on numerous occasions, is the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle. It is indeed used. The communications experts created, and sold, a slogan to management, "Open for Business." "In line with our Open for Business stakeholder charter, we are pleased to welcome you to the DEST corporate website."
This was indeed an imaginative creation, removed from reality, given that DEST's structure at the time, and still is, Canberra centric and not devolved. One wonders what precisely was open for business, where? I think it was the "whole of government integrated offices" ijn which DEST found itself to be a bit player. The branches were not open for business, according to the State Office Network Review conducted in March - June 2005. The branches were not given any real business to undertake by the central National Office management. The branches across Australia have existed on a miniscule annual budget with little of any challenging decision making roles even though they are the front line in service delivery across Australia.
The classifications of the posts up until September 2005 are testament to this. By comparison the bloated head office with all its decision making, and questionable production, holds the lion's share of funds. It also has a very high executive officer to staff ratio in the National Office. The branches can operate far more effectively in the government's policy interests than the National Office and the fact that this does not occur can be dterimental the Ministers' objectives and efforts. DEST National executive officers (EL1 and above) might like to compare what private enterprise employees on the same, or lesser, salaries are required to do, and get a reality check. One interesting trait is the practice of self reinforcement of "professionalism". It reaches delusional proprtions. Conceptual development of strategy in some divisions is akin to an inexperienced youth's thinking. Simplistic notions dressed up as sophisticated approaches. It might be arguable that they are worth the salaries, they are apid under their job classifications, if there was a demonstration that they knew how to manage. The criteria for positions is often nebullous and the criteria is tranbsferred across the public service so that it becomes self replicating.
Denuding the branches of authority, and responsibility, has been a quite deliberate strategy of power control. What is striking is that such approaches, and practices, could operate in 2005. It is as if DES managers lack real world commercial, and management, experiences. These are not deemed necessary if the approaches are (a) serve the politic body and (b) divide the budget up and then just charge costs up without ongoing evaluation and comparison, internal tests and such vital financial management tools.
It demonstrates that delivery of quality serice under the best operational management model available has not be an objective of the Department's Executive for many years, if at all. Modern management theory and practice, including innovation, has escaped their purview.
There are moves afoot under the Secretary to change this by early 2006 through enacting recommendations from the State Office Network Review. Unfortunately the 2006 Business Plan, and other key documents to guide the organisation, lack substance and commercial accountability and financial reponsibility and measurement focus.
The State Office Network Review Report indicated that there was a wealth of knowledge in the network and the National Office decision makers should tap it into it. Human resource deployment and utilisation to effect talent extraction is at the bottom end of the scale, particularly out in the Branch Networks.
Decisions are made in the National Office without using sophisticated "intelligence gathering" technqiues. Their views of who are stakeholders can be challenged. They are narrow perceptions of who can, and does, exert influence or initiate action. The senior management, and staff, at National Office of DEST operate in isolation of the knowledge that they can be affected by a myriad of interests. The existenec of this paper demonstrates the ability of external people to reach into organisations. This new dimension, a broadening of the notion of what constitutes a "stakeholder" beyond the traditionally perceived or identified, can have ramifications for Ministers as they grapple with implementation of a broad reform agenda. For example the formation of the Technical Colleges places the Ministers, Department and participants, directly within the arena of state controlled vocational education and training. This new threat and competition to State Education agencies and existing Training and Further Education entities will create tension as these technical institutions come on line.
The Minister has had a win on nuclear waste disposal not merely because parliament over rode the the Northern territory government's ban on such facilities, but because this policy, and the development of uranium, is supported by behind the scenes by powerful industry and commercial interests and influence shapers. Apparently in isolation of the knowledge of this reality the Department produced an animated video attempting to justify the policy of the government, and isolate, the resistance from environmental and safety activists. It is not clear who the target audience of this trite exercise is. It is more appropriate to students at school than it is to anyone with a modicum of understanding of the issues and the industry. It is industry, and external sources, that will drive the uranium issue. DEST has undertaken no deep research on where external influences reside and what role they play. The ability of interests (overt and covert) to put spanners in the works is not well understood. This is not limited to DEST. Every public service department serving the government, ministers and public should be more aware and cognisant of, the changing dynamics. Senior public service managers, middle level staff and others, are open to greater scrutiny, political commentary and action, just as their Ministers are. The dynamics of politics is widening.
Minister Nelson's stewardship of the portfolio has been marked by controversy. Despite the Prime Minister's reassurance that there would be no $100,000 degrees:
"I can guarantee we're not going to have $100,000 university degree courses." John Howard, interview with Neil Mitchell on Radio 3AW, Melbourne, 15 October 1999.
the cost of higher education has spiralled under this government whilst funding has fallen regardless of how the government may spin the statistics and lie through clenched teeth. If the meanderings of the Prime Minister, and Ministers, as to the impacts of the government's policies are not lies, then they are very poor judges and evaluators and cannot be trusted in any regard. There are over 16 degrees costing in excess of $100,000 and they will double in number by 2007. Brendan is also challenging the status quo and the cosy environments. He thinks that there should be undergraduate teaching universities and separate postgraduate universities engaged in higher learning and education, An elite system of differentiation. With his colleague Minister Gary Hargreaves he has created Technical Colleges further challenging the notion that everyone should do a degree. This reorganisation is refreshing and delineates the quality and commitment. To cakkenge the closed world of academics invites nasty political surprises. He has reveiewed the funding model for research. The proposition of changing who gets to do research taxes the mind of the defenders of the faith in universities across the nation.
Dr. Nelson seems to have a love of tests. He is always proposing new ones for children of all ages. He wants national bench marks tests so that parents can compare how good their child is doing against others. There is some debate as to the value of such comparisons and how it affects morale. Perhaps it is the competitive nature of his education and the gladiatorial arena of politics that excites his penchant for testing? In the engine room of DEST academics, under the guidance of advisory committees are challenging literacy and causing a rift in teacher views. DEST is producing extensive, and well researched, papers unlike their colleagues in other areas of DEST. They can be quite a burden to read but if one applies ones self a lot can be learnt and debate and ideas are good. Since education is the province of the state and territory governments he is causing political angst. And so he might. The state education ministries are in many respects vacuous kingdoms intent on maintaining domination of their little patches of influence. The systems of education are variable across the nation. They vary in quality with some being substandard in particular jurisdictions by comparison to others in Australia and internationally. Yet the state Premiers, and Ministers, engage in the same practice of lying and misrepresenting facts and outcomes. A common quality system for bricks and mortar education would be good. Online education is fraught with all sorts of issues that need addressing at satet and federal levels.
In 2005 someone seemed to twig that the DEST operational regime was not the best organisational model. So they commissioned outsiders to create new concepts. Now the management are negotiating to devolve decision making out to the states. The outcomes based on history, petty ego and power, are not certain.
"Open For Business" is a meaningless phrase. I formed the view on questioning the creators that it was developed by people who have little idea what the business of DEST might actually be in National Office and in the branches across the nation. It certainlt takes little account of "whole of government" policy. DEST is the poor cousin against the political power, influence and resources of DIMIA (Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs) and DEWR (Department of Workplace Relations) among other participating agencies. What does it mean? Was the Department not open prior to the creation of the slogan, was it shut at some stage or was it open for some other erudite purpose? General opinion in the state branches, and amongst some external observers including contracted consultants is that
DEST appears to have few management systems, of discipline and depth, to inform the Executive where the funds allocated are actually delivering value for money. Hostility reigns between the branches and national office. Much time is wasted on office, and interdepartmental politics, and protecting one's hide and yet a different image is presented. The impression is that there is a class system of a hierarchical nature that domiantes. The Business Plan, which is not really a business plan at all in the normal sense, seems to have as its primary goal as "keeping the Minister/s and their staff happy. They are the primary clients. It is a more a political strategy far removed from any real measurement of business performance in terms of dollars and cents. There is no iternal charge system to measure what a division such as communications is offering by comparison to what is on offer at a price elsewhere. There is no testing of value. DEST has discovered Mission statements! They were being drafted for the first time in September 2005. They may even be ready now in December 2005. Staff feedback and consultation was invited. Most modern, and well managed, enterprises have had these for decades. There is debate as to their worth but the Executive likes to get its thoughts out the workers. Perhaps it is the lack of such traditional methodologies that prompted the content, assumptions and findings of the State Office Network Review. DEST objectives dealing with efficiency measures appear inwardly focused and they are not measures of efficiency according to any best practice I have experienced in complex enterprises. Everything is viewed through the prism of a "communications strategy". Management of issues rather than finances, value for money and measurable real performance. They publish this management style on their web site. The plan, and objectives, imply that all objectives can be met if the "target audience is managed and manipulated by communication. Some might call this spin. They possibly view it as "educating the stakeholders". Below is an example of this point.
Research Reports on Support for a Communications Campaign Surrounding the Announcement of the Decision for the Location of the National Repository for the Disposal of Low-Level Radioactive Waste".
The communications activity in the Department involves hundreds of people all the way to the top and millions of dollars. It is not clear what public purpose it serves and whether its performance measures are sound. One may well argue a case that the communications division, in its current form and modus operandi, is a waste of public money. Disorganisation seems to have been DEST's history for it has been reorganised every four years. It has just developed its first "change management strategy and process" mechanisms (September - October 2005). Imagine an enterprise of 2,200 people with a budget of $20,000,000 having no change management models.
The Minister, Dr. Brendan Nelson. vacated the DEST portfolio to become Minister for Defence, on January, 27th, 2006. A new Minister now faces similar chllenges and risks.
A democracy captured, and bound, by parasites
Earlier in 2005, I wrote to senior politicians in all governments, and opposition parties, across Australia asking why the nation could not have a mature debate on the development of uranium and nuclear energy? I alluded to impending developments in uranium. The correspondence set out a case for economic, and social development, particularly in South Australia which is forced to forego its richest resources and opportunities. It was a test of the maturity and public interest virtues of the most senior decision makers.
The correspondence drew a response from the Western Australian and South Australian government ministers, nothing from Victoria, which is not unexpected and nothing from the Northern Territory, Queensland, Tasmania or NSW. I did enjoy a terse four lines, by email, from a junior employee in the Greens party, presumably speaking on behalf of Senator Brown, who was dismissive. NSW Premier Bob Carr demonstrated his acceptance that there needs to be a mature discussion of issues, regardless of how emotive they may be. He took the nuclear debate up, as did the Prime Minister. peter Beattie in Queensland, ever sniffing the media air took the contrary and dismissive position. He likes to manage debate rather than foster it.
Federal labor politicians, Anthony Albanese and Peter Garrett, appear to think that a mature public debate is the passing of a motion at the NSW state labor party conference in June 2005, an archaic gathering of those in the party who think that it is smart to put the corruption of politics on display for all to see.
The Canberra Times, in its editorial of June 13, 2005, clearly enunciated its view on the total corruption of the party at every level. The labor party conferences, and the participants, are anathema to the concept of a mature national debate, on any issue of importance. The Australian Labor Party executive at federal, and state levels, have, through corrosion and corruption of process, become parasites on the dwindling party members and the workers whose union dues are purloined to the party and applied to the pleasure, and benefit, of a handful. What does this say about the quality of labor party leaders and their fitness for public office? Federal labor sees the solution to its woes in resfuffling the deck chairs and rather than abandoning this ship and getting a new modern one.
They cling to old theorries, ideas and notions trotting out hackneyed concepts like "reconciliation" without any thought as to what this word means to indigenous relationships Kim Beazley appoints Peter Garrett to the shadow portfolio of "Reconciliation". Who is he shadowing, Amanda Vanstone, and on what basis? What is his claim to fame? He sang a few songs with the word reconciliation in them, or about Gwandaland, and said sorry at the Olympics. Is he aboriginal? Of couse not. Labor has no aboriginal representatives in federal parliament. Does the ordinary person, working everyday and interacting, with people of a vast array of ethnic and cultural backgrounds approach another and say "I want to reconcile with you?" Reconciliation is in the lexicon of politicians and interest groups that perceive themselves as champions of a cause with which they have little understanding. ("Dumbing down Australians by various means", Kevin Beck)
and other predictions (2005)
Bill of Rights
Independence in Australian Politics
Free Trade Agreement
How Australia Compares
....Isn't it wonderful Peter, we are the family unit. I stay home, make babies, look after them till they are ready to fly the nest. We get tax breaks and lots of family support. We just received another baby bonus and we can now go on that world trip with our 1.3 children and put the dog and cat in a five star motel. What about a dinner at one of the best restaurants to celebrate this cheque?
Oh look darling there's the poor woman from the caravan park. She's a single mother and her child just turned six years and she has to find a job poor thing. She is on that new policy the government says will be really good. It's called the welfare to work policy.
In many ways, and on too many occasions, the servants tell the masters what to do.
Politicians and the executive of governments have forgotten their place and become enamoured with their position, with power and their own infallibility.
The game is about politics not governance, a nonsensical gladiatorial forum, conducted for the media, without substance.
The current senior members of Australia's parliaments appear to want to
reform it to suit their perceptions,|
agendas and interests. It has become a corrupted process of mismanagement growing like a cancer throughout many branches of Australia's public services and enterprises. Now the mismanagement is actually maiming and killing people. Australia's elected governments have appointed their own laders, who act as some hybrid Chief Executive. Instead of service they are dictating to the people who elect them and managing the democracy to limit information and participation and maintain control. The political duopoly (cartel) has an interest in it remaining the only system in Australia. Australia's public services are now "government services", working for the interests of a political executive and not the parliament or the people, who they now refer to as "clients". They offer exemplary service to their ministers, even if the objective is immoral and unethical, and low quality performance to "customers", not "citizens". Legislation is enacted to facilitate management of people and process. Australia's human talent is not being challenged, developed and harnessed and is grossly wasted, underutilised, or ignored, through a lack of vision, ideas and innovative thinking and action by those who exercise public and private power, influence and decision making. The individual citizen is disengaged from their governments and have ceded Australia's democracy to a handfull of people who trash it everyday. This is the corrosion of Australia's character.
Predicting future events, and outcomes, in Australia
Petro Georgiou (Australian federal liberal parliamentary member), and his colleagues, have brokered an agreement with the Prime Minister to change the immigration detention and handling procedures. Whilst critics say it does not go far enough they are astute and accept this as a first step. By comparison the Greens and Labor demonstrate a lack of thinking which, on every occasion, shows them to be inept at political strategy and conceptual ability. Senator Bob Brown plans to amend the legislation and send it back to the lower house. Senator Brown has applied nearly thousand amendments to legislation during his time in parliament and I cannot remember one ever getting up. The Democrats are a spent force. Lyn Allison is reportedly not up to speed on issues and is rude to governments ervants. Labor's spokesperson Laurie Ferguson mumbles and vacillates as to whether Labor will pass the changes. What arrant stupidity is this? One would think that Kim Beazley and his team would have learnt something from their strategy on the tax changes, but is seems they did not. If this keeps up Kim Beazley and his team will have to go and Labor will have to bite a lemon and start from scratch. They are warming the parliamentary seats without giving any value.
Senator Amanda Vanstone has previously argued that Mr. Qasim, held in detention for seven years, could not come into Australia because he could not prove he was. Doctors have long argued that keeping him locked up is mental torture. Mr. Qasim has been admitted to hospital with severe mental health problems. Today, 20 June 2005, Minister Vanstone announced he can get a bridging visa subject to a health and character check. People with debilitating health problems, requiring payments from medicare, are usually denied access and how will she check his character?
Senator, and Defence Minister, Robert Hill seems unable to answer questions in the Senate without inadvertently denigrating the process of democracy as if it is the sole province of a political elite. He claims, by inference, that the government does not have to read, or take account, of committees of enquiry reports where he, or nebulous general persons of the powerful and unaccountable decide that the enquiry is just a political stunt, by Labor, to attack the government. Thus it is, by his analysis, okay to spend millions on enquiries just to have them disregarded and filed. Is it no wonder that the greater number of Australians are disinterested in engaging with their governments through parliamentary committee processes when a Minister states that the documents are not wort reading because the participants and contributors are people (non citizens) whom he thinks are irrelevant, biased and unworthy of being heard? He should be treated with the same disdain, and contempt, with which he treats Australia's democracy.
In modern society the CEO of a the football club has taken on a prominence to such an extent extent that the moral power, and operation, of the state and civilised society are undermined. Two senior police officers in NSW have had their careers tarnished because they tried to do what has become a common requirement of public servants in the governance of Australia, manage the issues rather than the fundamental values of public service administration. The blame for this new focus on shallow objective can be sheeted home to political, corporate and other interests, who believe that their comfort, wellbeing and survival is paramount to that of the public good. They are nurtured, in this belief, by politicians such as Bob Carr and Peter Beattie who flaunt the art, and bask in the glory, of media management before good qualty governance.
The CEO of the football club was angry because the media ran a story of a footballer's involvement in drugs. Gang rapes, drugs, drunkedness, lewdness and even violence is a trait of the modern young sportsman in football, most prominently of late, in NSW. The public has already witnessed the extent to which clubs, and their executives, will go to to undermine the process of law and justice to protect their interests and that of the players.
The CEO sought, and obtained, a meeting with the two senior police officers who then felt it necessary, in order to manage the issue, to inform the very important person that the information, as to the drugs and the footballer, had been obtained during a wire tap. Unfortunately, adding to their woes, a police officer had informed a journalist of this particular conversation heard by police listening on the tap. Why the officers exercised such poor judgement in telling the CEO something that he was not entitled to know, and even entertained meeting with him, is ludicrous. Then the two officers were dragged into the Police Integrity Commission becaue a compliant is laid. This is an independent body, much like other western societies, that oversights the behaviour of police. It is not concerned with matters of the quality of government, and the corrosion of public administration, through declining legitimacy of the leaders of our society. Now the issue has to be managed from a number of fronts.
The real issue with which government, public officers and any one with clarity, should be concerned is the antisocial behaviour by thugs and fools in sport and executives, and others, who believe that their role is to place their employer's interests above the public good. The Premier of NSW, the Honourable Robert Carr, and his Ministers, along with most other senior political leaders in Australia, are yet to demonstrate that they have a grasp of the general concepts and principles of this innovative, and obviously new, consideration.
The Prime Minister, and a particular group of Ministers, in the federal government are caught out, time and time again, extolling questionable facts and engaging in political self interest. On this occasion they claimed, perhaps on the advice of an Australian official anticipating what the government wanted to hear (a standard practice), that the recovery of an Australian purportedly kidnapped in Iraq was based on intelligene gathered and a rescue mounted. The PM gushed in parliament and baskd in sunlight of his creation. Unfortunately, as is the norm, this is probably not correct. The Iraq government says that the recovery came about by accident of fate during a standard sweep searching for a weapons cache. Intelligence would only be given in return for money and they say that no money has been involved. John Howard told us that no ransom would be paid. The federal government never lets the facts get in the way of political spin in their favour.
The Australian government is now considering Australia's media ownership laws, and the sale of Telstra, and the cross linkages and relationships between media and corporations, share ownership and interaction at Boardroom and policy levels, how banks, institutional investors and independently wealthy can own large share blocks in publicly listed and private media conglomerates and the same people can occupy critical Boardroom and other appointed positions, media that is small, and non - mainstream, is always at a serious financial disadvantage and must create a niche market for itself. This is not a bad thing provided that, should it annoy or, threaten the larger interests and influences it must be protected. It is not enough that it must rely upon the goodwill of people.
1 The time line for conversion from Analog to digital broadcasting should not be extended.
2 Open competition should be enacted for all forms of media (public, community and commercial) and protection of vested interests should be removed.
3 Acquisition of Australian media, by internal and external interests then becomes a matter of market forces.
4 As protection against misuse of market power, and commodification, all telecommunication providers may offer multicast but in return they must provide one access point of broadband access to all households at a regulated cost of no more than $30.00 per month, including ISP access and connectivity to the broad internet. They may offer additional pay services.
The key filters, and effects, for legislators to consider are:
The likelihood of increase in, and the breadth of, `cash for comment' and 'product placement' on radio and television broadcasting with appropriate legislative amendments.
The powers of the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) to ensure diversity and freedom of expression, and ideas, across all of the media including Internet technology and the appropriate sanctions for breach including license withdrawal.
The role of regulatory bodies such as the Press Council, the Federations of Australian Commercial Television and Radio Stations relying on self regulating `codes of conduct' which are obviously not the most appropriate method of ensuring the best from this vital resource. The worth of such codes and the likelihood of application against vested commercial interests are shown to be forlorn in the Cash for Comment enquiry of the past. Channel Ten has demonstrated that self regulation is flawed, that it is what the commercial interest interprets it to be and that contempt for public interest, and portraying individuals as stupid, disgusting cretins, is abundant and that there is an argument for an increased role for the Australian Film and Literature Review body to pre-rate television as it does print.
Who owns the broadcast spectrum? Does a broadcaster have an unfettered right to do whatever it chooses or should there be provision for "forced divestment" in the public interest much as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission can direct divestment?
The contentious use of lifestyle programs and the growth in product placement in programmes and reporting by journalists. These may not be the domains of public policy legislation.
The funding and operation of Community Broadcasting, Internet broadcasting by individuals and "not for profit" public interests groups, the ABC and SBS, truly free from political and (in some cases) managerial corruption of its role in the national media. Above all else this is a crucial consideration.
The powers of the Competition and Consumer Commission and the ability of the Trades Practices Act to encompass protections of journalistic freedom, integrity and opinion and the methodologies and mechanisms by which these values are transmitted to the people and the ethical nature of such transmissions.
Other matters for the consideration of legislators:
The current size and concentration of wealth and orientation of media owners (in all forms) and their demonstrable actions in the current operations and the prospects of what new owners may bring in terms of media development.
What are the current, and expected, segmented sizes of the Australian advertising market, its demographics and the type of diversity it currently supports, not only in standard forms of media but in the new technologies? This would also include mobile telecommunications and the Internet. What size market can be sustained in reality?
The methods by which the media and others gather information and the operation of Freedom of Information, as provided by governments, corporations, institutions, mainstream population, Internet publicists and commentators.
The protection of the individual's current capacity to do the things they do with their chat rooms and web sites, ensuring that there is, in opposition to a potential majority, the existence of `elite' and `intelligentsia' opinion as minority. Some radio and print journalists have questioned the validity of JJJ as a publicly funded broadcaster based on these majority notions and opinions.
The proposition of, and protection against, journalists being disciplined for expressing contrary or unacceptable (to some) opinions. This has a correlation with the proposed industrial relations and legislative employment policies of government.
The growth of `anti-elite' and `anti-intelligentsia' policies enacted by powerful interests. The draconian operation of Australia's defamation laws which desperately need overhaul and consistency. There is no freedom of speech legislated in Australia and the only freedom is defined in antiquated laws or an implied freedom of political opinion determined by the High Court in Laing, 1985, CLR, 520) to be an implied protection of political communication under the audience test. The use of defamation and the courts to stifle debate and the threat of use.
"The things I have to complain about have never been the inaccuracies in the reporting, but the accuracies." (Heathcote Amory, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Great Britain, 1959).
Information and argument on the Issue of Media Ownership Rules
The Australian Labor, Democrats and Greens parties oppose any change to Australia's media ownership laws. This approach to viewing what is `media' given the development of technology demonstrates a blinkered view and understanding of the implications of technology in the hands of the individual. The rationale that once justified a certain approach to diversification is long gone. Physical ownership of Australia's print and electronic media (newspapers and television) is not the only source of influence and culture on the Australian population. Of greater impact on individual, public policy response and action are the socially, culturally and economically diverse and mobile activists. They become the news and their influence is spread into every place where there is a PC, email and Internet access. The sheer impact becomes apparent when you examine the "Make Poverty History" movement.
The Australian Newspaper, a News Corporation publication, sells about 160,000 - 180,000 copies per edition. There are Australian web sites, owned by individuals, institutions and corporations that have millions more viewers and members. Once it was just press and television ownership that concentrated the mind, opinion and action. The proposition that, "the mass production of newspapers (media) concentrates in the hands of a few individuals who are responsible to nobody but themselves, a power which is a serious rival to that of Parliament and upon which in the last resort Parliament depends," (John Spender, The Public Life), was once true, but it is no longer so. The proposition that what appears in the Sydney Telegraph newspaper or what Alan Jones says on radio and cable television sets the agenda for the attitude of people, at large, is a fiction. Politicians read the morning paper, are given newspaper clippings and hear radio and read Rehame, all of which provide a very narrow spectrum of what is happening. The media, in its totality, is now something more than a commercial entity whose lifeblood is advertising with the gaps filled with news and entertainment. As technology allows real time counting of viewer behaviour the price commercial media charges for advertising will diminish dramatically. The rise of opinion journalism has placed a question mark over the once valid role as impartial moderator and observer. All hard copy and traditional broadcast media must band together to survive or reposition itself into a new paradigm.
It was once that physical media, the newspapers and television, held sway and in that had great moral and social responsibilities. "No single agency has a greater responsibility than the Press (media) in a democratic society and the manner in which it is discharged will largely determine whether our form of democracy will survive against the barbarians," (John Hay Whitney, American Ambassador to Britain, 1959). This adage, though still underpinning Labor thinking and policy prescription, has lost its relevancy. Whitney was not aware at the time that technology would alter the landscape of media ownership and creativity, dramatically placing what was once the domain of capital into the hands of individuals. Even as the newspapers, and television, inform there are millions reading multiple sources, in their own language and format, adding content to forums, sending emails to lists, blogging and filling web sites across the nation and outwards to the world.
Australia has a small conventional media pool and is fast becoming commodified. There is no better example of the effects of commodification, and rationalization, in media ownership than the United States of America. There is no better example of what can occur in damage as Rupert Murdoch's Fox News, derided for its bias and degradation of the art of journalism. The inequality of wealth and power, and its multilevel effects on mass media, interests and choices has, up to now, challenged the United States constitutional right of freedom of speech, and opinion, which rests on the quality of the media. One only has to examine the major daily news press and look for international news and to read editorials and reports to realise that they are biased, filtered and in some cases created by agencies and contractors of government and corporations to appear as news and debate. It is even more startling that, according to research, over 100,000,000 Americans are semi or fully illiterate. This means they do not have the Internet and they watch television and listen to the radio.
Whilst Australia has enjoyed a quality, and diverse media, it has remained shackled below its full potential as a human tool for development because government policy has been incoherent and a small group of interests have sought to maintain the harness. At the behest of the former Minister for Communications, and the Arts, Richard Alston, some people purchased digital receivers, televisions and radios, for what purpose? The choice of high dimension broadcast television and services, as enunciated by the Senator, has not been accepted and implemented into policy. The matter is further clouded, and complicated by the sale of Telstra and the conflict between maximization of return, public policy, competition and interests of existing media companies.
What is not clear is how this government, and its parliament, view, determination methodology and balance to be employed in assessing the interests of commercial media (employing people, investment and resources) and the consumer.
Internet providers, of which Telstra is one, are not allowed to multicast and compete against the major free to air television channels. Is it intended to enable this to increase the sale value of Telstra?
Digital radio aspirants are denied access to the "artificially defined commercial spectrum" and sit on lower levels of the AM band awaiting opportunity whilst existing owners of stations on the "fabricated commercial spectrum" work assiduously to minimize entry and competition. Why does this barrier exist and why does this anti-competitive behaviour occur openly despite the provisions of the Trade Practices Act and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission?
Competitor web aspirants has greater implications as broadband and monitors merge to the extent that Australian politicians must pay attention to who owns the content of significant Internet enterprises in Australia and internationally. ("Australian media ownership", Kevin Beck)
ONE of the enduring myths of the Australian public policy debate is the claim that the microeconomic reforms of the 1980s and 1985s have generated a surge of productivity growth. This claim is constantly used as a basis for suggesting that, whatever the problem, the answer is that more reform is needed.(John Quiggin, 2005)
Telstra, Sol Trujillo versus the Australian government, ACCC and competitors
My money is on Senator Conroy.
Telstra boss, Sol Trujillo, might on the face appear politically naive regarding government power, influence and tenacity, in Australia, compared to the USA, regarding interference in everything and getting their way, but he is not technically and strategically naive. His antagonists are all being lead and are looking the wrong way.
Telstra will ultimately make Senator Coonan's (and others') ponderings, machinations and hard work largely irrelevant and lock out its competitors using technology strategies, tactically frustrating the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's directives, and pricing, regulations designed to allow competitors to gain access to Telstra's antiquated copper cable for ADSL and other services and its hybrid telephone exchanges across Australia. Therein lies the clue. What if Telstra's utilities, and network delivery assets, were no longer centralised in those exchanges but were decentralised everywhere, through a strategy of technology and lateral ideas? The challenge for Telstra is to do this without alienating or diminishing its customer base and having them understand what the different technologies imply and deliver.
The government's perspective has been consumed by the "rural telecommunications argument" driven by the powerful regional interests and the National party. They are obsessed with competition regardless of effect. Who has proven that commercial domination in some things is bad? The government relies on history here, and research elsewhere shows that the private sector will not invest in regional telecommunications. The government has focused on the aged concept of the local exchange monopoly. The government is mired in an outmoded conceptual framework and it is this upon which Sol has seized. To increase Telstra's profit margins Sol will look at charge rates, seconds, minutes or whatever. Then the debate begins.
"Telstra, coming off second best in the political arena", Kevin Beck
Write on public policy, decisions and events
Wouldn't it be a surprise if politicians had one new idea about how we might get the best out of our parliaments and govvernments,
to offer us?
Why are Australian people so dependent on their governments for everything?
Petrol prices go up and immediately federal Labor's Wayne Swan squawks in political parroting that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission must be given new powers to coerce the naughty, and secretive, petrol refining companies. There must be a summit so that the media can report it. It would seem that we are held back by politicians, particularly federal Labor's senior spokespeople, who cannot distil complex issues and enunciate a deeper type of thinking, debate and understanding in their contribution to Australia's governance. Have they passed their use by dates and this is all they have left to offer?
It is also annoying that a large number of Australians do not have the capacity to think for themselves and discern why this might be happening. They should broaden the mind and travel in Europe and buy petrol there and see what the price is. Perhaps those who spruke that ethanol content should be increased, such as members of the National Party, the grain growers, here and internationally, and environmentalists, might inform themselves fully about the science.
Telstra, telecommunications, broadcasting, trade, food labelling, education, employment, governments
Australia's warped democracy, corroding and degrading Australia's public service
poor governance, leadership and the not so smart states.
Mental health services in Australia, delivered by state and territory, are substandard. This demonstrate the paucity of the ability of governments, and hollowness of political rhetoric by these governments, and current and former federal governments. The Health Ministers of current, and past governments, are cuplable for their non performance but there are not measures on their performance other than embarrassment and political pressure. It seems that collectivley they are the most unaccountable bunch of politicians in the nation. Politicians should have learnt from the lessons of their own peers who have tried to commit suicide, particularly after the above events and even when the former Premier of Victoria, Jeff Kennett, raised the profile of mental health by joining "Beyond Blue". However they did not. These are typical, "out of sight out of mind" career politicians supported by similarly disposed public servants. Lacking in vision they bleat about money whilst Australia's governments swim in budget surpluses, year after year and brag about them. They give tax relief to the healthy of the community. The system is full of hacks who make no contribution and simply fill their days pushing pieces of paper around the huge, lumbering and in many respects worthless, public bureaucracies.... Australia's public services exist now for the primary purpose of making their Minister/s look good and protecting their hides and political careers. They seem to often fail dismally in that respect as well in many others. ...Kevin R Beck, owner of the Mosaic Portal.
From: S A V E - Australia Inc
Sent: Monday, October 24, 2005 1:34 PM
Please find attached an extract (950 words) from my paper Australian Mental Health, a Response to Change, co-authored with Mrs Janet Watson-Curtis and delivered at the 3rd National Conference on Human Rights and Mental Health at Parliament House, Canberra, on 8-9 September 2005.
With thanks and regards,
Dr. F. Ian Curtis
Extract from Australian Mental Health: A Response to Change
Co-Authored by Dr Ian Curtis, Psychiatrist, and Mrs Janet Watson-Curtis, Educationalist
Delivered at the 3rd National Conference on Human Rights & Mental Health
"Human Rights and Australia's Mental Health Policy"
Thursday 8 September and Friday 9 September 2005
Parliament House, Canberra ACT
"In 1992, as foundation director for Alcohol & Drug Policy Queensland, Ian Curtis suggested amalgamating resources with Mental Health Services. He was told there was insufficient money even for psychiatric services. Nothing has changed since.
The delivery of mental health services in Australia have not been effective. There are serious unaddressed levels of suffering and death. National Mental Health Surveys indicate that nearly two million people, or 10% of our population, have long-term mental problems lasting six months or more with women suffering somewhat more. Important problems include mood, anxiety, and drug disorders and behavioural problems. The latter often begin in early adolescence.
A major shift is required in finance and management to employ more appropriate professionals, and to empower health gatekeepers in Police, Judicial and Educational systems, and Correctional Services. Court proceedings and Correctional Services have functionally replaced the mental health care facilities which existed and functioned well thirty years ago. We must relieve the load on Correctional Services. A few years ago Dr Curtis asked a retiring Medical Director for prisons (Queensland) "why are your jails full of illiterate, psychiatrically ill people?" His retort: "we've got them because you closed your hospitals".
A Queensland reform agenda is urgently needed with more resources and new leadership. Mental health is one of our seven national health priorities. Experts warn, however, that reformers often change one part of a system and, in doing so, concentrate on the tip of the iceberg and miss the bulk below the surface which inevitably sinks good intentions. Even if the Queensland Government decides to fund Mental Health Services adequately, the resources will continue to be eaten up by managers with no health knowledge and an investment in writing policy and programs which are not used. We cannot afford to have content-free managers writing health policy and writing community programs which either cannot be funded and take money away from active relief of suffering. We need more workers and fewer managers.
Our mental health workforce is too small, under-funded, and under-utilised. Some public sector hospitals and community clinics turn people away from help for any excuse, particularly if there is an element of self-harm. We have private sector hospitals turning people away deemed as "too difficult".
If we were implementing the recommendations of the National Mental Health Strategy and if the Health Insurance Commission was resourcing those changes adequately instead of apparently blocking them by regulatory manoeuvre, we would be somewhere further along the line to reducing the burden of disease and suffering which forms the current chronic crisis. The system is not delivering on resources which exist even now.
Sometime in the mid 1985s there was a declared Year of Mental Health auspiced by all Australian governments. In practice, each level of government delivered less by way of resources in that year than in other years. In two decades of acute discontinuous change in mental health, rather than responding with innovation as proposed, we have suffered resource and management roadblocks. At the same time, as former Director-General of Queensland Health Robert Stable said in The Courier-Mail on 6 September 2005, cost-cutting and downsizing has been the response of the political decision-makers (except for growing numbers of "managers").
Mental health teams no longer know how to cope. Mental health has become an unattractive career. Current social upheaval and fragility affecting traditional safety nets of family, community, Church, and organisational structures have left increasing levels of mental illness, suicidal and parasuicidal behaviours, deliberate self-harm, homelessness of adults and street kids, and failures of leadership at political and professional levels.
Educational and management authors such as Senge, Crowther, and Limerick have indicated a necessity for organisational change and restructuring. Limerick has delineated different structures, new leadership styles, and new strategies; participant-focused not manager-focused. Educational reformers indicate that decision-making must be moved to the lowest level possible,. Service delivery, client- and site-based, can eliminate levels of wasteful management. We can achieve efficiencies by reducing the functions and size of the central bureaucracy.
Our duplicated systems of mental health and alcohol and drug services must be combined as in New Zealand and the UK. The areas are related and share comorbidities. The alcohol and other drugs workforce has much to offer by way of interviewing and management skills and community outreach. This will abolish one whole bureaucratic system duplicated at State and Federal levels There are systemic problems with psychiatrist leadership in mental health. No doubt there are units around Australia with good leadership practices. But there are bureaucratic systems involving psychiatrists dictating to colleagues the cheapest technologies and drug therapies to use for patients rather than the best. The best modern technologies actually reduce hospital stays and costs. Capacity building requires that psychiatric units be participatory learning communities providing flexible opportunities for the development of leadership and of leaders involving a variety of disciplines. We must recognise the other professionals in mental health, such as colleague psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists, and teachers amongst other workers who have much to offer. In our experience, clinical psychologists are amongst the greatest innovators in mental health services. Leadership and learning have to be shared. We must learn to learn from one another.
The Judicial system is over-worked by the failure of the mental health system. Judges are willing to recognise the toll of mental illness and are prepared to apply proportionality of Sentencing in human suffering. But the system is overburdened by the disadvantaged ill. We must adequately house the new groups of mental illness sufferers needing longer stays in supervised accommodation. There is incalculable suffering caused by the lack of facilities. In Queensland recently a number of high profile suicides accompanied all of the unrecognised tragic, wasteful deaths occurring anonymously".
Australia and the creation of myths
Power politics and media
Watersheds in Australian life
Truth in politics - trust
Truth, politics, 4th estate
Truth of the matter
Truth overboard Australia under Howard
Ethics, leadership & social responsibility
Changing the crew and culture
How governments lie
Independent opinions on Australian
and international issues
communicating is one of the hardest human tasks
"Reason" within the realm of Australian society, as defined by the power collective, is the market and economy and generally society is driven by the pursuit of wealth some holding an ideological belief in the trickle down effect. There are forces within the political, and corporate, spheres that add to the corrosion and corruption of our political and corporate systems.
Will the coalition in Iraq be surprised
particularly the Australian government, when Iraq falls under
the influence of Iran
and the competing interests of
Israel has long held that
Syria has designs on Iraq.
Other Arab nations
seek to counter
this influence but it is not clear if they can.
When any major political party, particularly one in government, proposes to amend Australia's electoral laws every citizen should be immediately suspicious and exercise care and diligence. This is of great concern when it is proposed by a government with a well documented history of abuse of parliamentary power and a demonstrated willingness to use misrepresentation and stealth to cover its goals.
The federal Special Minister for State, Senator Abetz, has put forward a number of propositions among them, to close the electroral roles when an election writ is ussed. To deny the vote to prisoners and to extend the minimum amount requird for reporting a political donation from $1,000 to $10,000.
The right to vote underpins democracy and it should not be impeded or diminished. Thus the electoral role should not be closed off. Governments legislate for people including those in prison and they should have the right to seek to elect someone who will represent their interests. The Australian federal government is aping the US administration. and the British government yet there are valid arguments to say that this is an archaic and ill informed view. The Australian Liberal and National Parties make it quite clear in this proposal that they only represent a selection of the population. The liberals are mean spirited and they have lead the creation of the class system and now they prpose to have classes of eligible citizens, those who are organised and get on the electroral role (can vote) and those who are not organised (cannot vote) and those who are in another class such as prisoners shall be further classified. What will be the clasifications for prisoners? Are they so reprehensible as a group that no member of the liberal or national party will be prepared to listen to their case? Will a person sentenced erroneoulsy be dissallowed from seeking representation? This is a crock, and another blundering bigoted bull, in a china shop policy from an ethically, and morally, challenged government.
democracy is something precious with suffrage for all except those whom the thiefs of democracy choose to exclude. There is no real democracy if the Australian people are limited to voting one a government and its policies once every few yaers. There is no formal mechanism for the people to express their views and their directive on a piece of legislation, or a policy, by referenda or other means. This manipulation is deliberate and serves the interests of the political duopoly and the handfull of people who are the political power collective at state, federal and erritory levels in the nation.
Australian politicians, and many commentators, imply that the only impediment to the achievement of a government's goals is having a majority in parliament. It is possible for voters, and lobbyists, to influence Ministerial and government decision making and policy, as is evident in Minister for Agriculture, Peter McGauran's pursuit of "origin of labelling" of food products on behalf of farmers.
Hard lessons for the Minister for Agriculture
Peter McGauran is the federal Minister for Agriculture. I have known him personally for twenty three years and have kept in regular contact, observing his electoral representation and rise through the National Party and the Coalition Howard government. He has held portfolios in Science, the Arts and has sat, inter alia, on committees including intelligence oversight. He is probably the most charismatic, and one of the most politically astute politicians on the front bench in the Howard government. He is not an innovator in policy and he keeps his head down. He is, for all intents and purposes, a good coalition supporter. He organises others to fight the battles. People such as Barnaby Joyce. Peter is engaged in a fierce contest at this time (September, 2005) with the ambitious, and somewhat charismatic, Christopher Pyne, Parliamentary Secretary to the less than sensitive Tony Abbott, Minister for Health. The battle is ostensibly over food labelling. It is also the liberals trying to put their junior coalition party (the Nationals) in their place making them subservient to the will, and legislative intent of the liberal party.
Food is a complex political issue fraught with emotive language and concepts, "buy Australian", "imports", "free trade", "world trade organisation", "consumer protection", "genetically modified", "family farms" and the "wide brown land". Peter is championing people like the Tasmanian potato farmers, assisted in their cause by my friend Colin Fulton, of Corporate Words, in Melbourne, Australia. They want everything, everywhere, in every retail outlet, labeled with country of origin. The Australian and state governments have always allowed misrepresentation in labeling with "made in Australia" not actually meaning that, with misrepresentation of names such as fruit juice, and things labeled as say raspberry and containing a few percent, perhaps as low as one, of the fruit or some essence. The reasons why governments allow this are complex and have to do with ideology and with foreign relationships in world trade and with big, multinational corporations.
Mr. McGauran, for some reason, has decided to push the envelope with the proposition to force manufacturers to change their labels every time a constituent item (regardless of amount) changes in a product (e.g. during seasonal shortages, to make delis and other food places have a myriad of labels in their fridge cabinets, and to label pork. Why single out pork? Why not apply it to beef, chicken and lamb? He will win some of the battle on labeling and in the longer term will become a target of powerful political and commercial interests, who will band together to ensure that not much will change in terms of their control and freedom to misrepresent products, contents and con the consumer. The Tasmanian farmers and their like colleagues around the nation will not emerge the winners against the market dominators and politicians like Messrs. Vaile, Pyne and Abbott, whose primary concen is not the Australian consumers, not the constituent nature of our food content, but but the bigger issues of the politics, and power, of world trade and economy.
Minister McGauran, within a few weeks of taking the reins, was visited by the farmers. They wanted
all products everywhere, of any type, in supermarkets, delis,
vegetable barrows, small shops, markets, fairs etc. etc. clearly
labelled as to where they came from. He wil partly get his way.
In the average large supermarket there are probably 152,000 items and
labelling will add to consumer costs dramatically. Australian consumers
do not care about where the contents come from as their first consideration.
They look at price, brand, quality (favourites) and then somewhere down the list is origin. Those with high disposable incomes might
alter their ranking and are drawn to brands. However
brands are under threat.
Those with lower disposable incomes cannot place the niceties of "buy Australian" before putting food in their mouths.
So is Mr. McGauran happy, along with the farmers, to pursue a strategy that
will take from those who have less discretionary spending and increase their basic food costs?
The manufacturers for purely profit reasons want to import cheap goods.
Perhaps the Minister for Agriculture was initially blinded by the political objective to serve the electorate, in his first year in the portfolio, and as yet is not aware of the ramifications of drawing international attention, and response, internally and externally, to this issue. This policy if pursued will cost the government in economic terms from a free trade perspective and other relationships. Thus Mr. McGauran's cabinet colleagues, and the opposing Departments of the Australian Public Service, and those who have an interest in his not succeeding, will all work to stop him. Typically the government will allocate a few dollars to researching, over a number of years, what can be done for farmers. This hopefully outs the issue out of sight and out of mind.
There will be some minor flirtation with the food labeling laws. Food labeling is a sensitive issue and the federal and state governments will only go so far. If you see a statement "Product of Australia", does that mean that it is wholly manufactured here? No, it does not. Food labeling is a mix of truth, fiction and misrepresentation. It is about percentages and it is dictated, not by Australia's governments, in the interests of Australian consumers but by multinational interests who work through their own governments. They push the boundaries of the Australian and New Zealand Food Standards. The manufacturers use a myriad of ways to get around the rules. State and Territory governments which have the enforcement role are derelict and will not provide the necessary resources (out of the massive goods and services taxes they receive on sales) to police the regulations in the interests of consumers. It seems that there is trend developing in Australian business. It might be due to ignorance of the law and lack of experience and education. It might be due to greed and the propensity for unethical behaviour under the intense pressures and demands to make profits at least cost. Many manufacturers appear to have the attitude that they will do what they want until they get caught. The company can pay a fine for the executives are not subject to prosecution but they should be.
These are the hard lessons that Minister McGauran is going to learn in his first term in the portfolio of Agriculture. His leader, Mark Vaile, the Minister for Trade, cannot look after the farmers, or producers and consumers, for he has a major conflict of interest. The whole federal cabinet has a conflict of interest and in many respects has to abandon Australian consumers for political, economic and ideological, expediencies. Farmers know this all too well. Whilst other nations will look after their constituent producers, Australia persists with obeying the World Trade Agreement rules whilst the largest economy, the USA flouts them and takes the resources of the world as their own. The poor nations are tossed a
bone or two now and then by the rich nations of the world.
It is about National and Liberal Party Politics
It is not about environment, cheaper fuel or consumer benefit
Why are Australian people so dependent on their governments for everything?
Petrol prices go up and immediately federal Labor's Wayne Swan squawks in political parroting that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission must be given new powers to coerce the naughty, and secretive, petrol refining companies. There must be a summit so that the media can report it. It would seem that politicians hold us back, particularly federal Labor's senior spokespeople, who are apparently unable to distil complex issues and enunciate a deeper type of thinking, debate and understanding in their contribution to Australia's governance. Have they passed their use by dates and this is all they have left to offer?
It is also annoying that a large number of Australians do not have the capacity to think for themselves and discern why this might be happening. They should broaden the mind and travel in Europe and buy petrol there and see what the price is. Perhaps those who argue that ethanol content should be increased, such as members of the National Party, the grain growers, here and internationally, and environmentalists, might inform themselves fully about the science.
Even as the comments below were being posted onto the web Australia's federal state and territory governments were enacting legislation to create a new dimension in Australian public policy, the restriction of freedom of association and speech. The laws enacted by all governments in Australia are not in the public interest. They have been passed with little debate, resistance, or comment from the greater population who in fear, and a reliance on the paternalism of governments, tacitly accept them. Others who have experienced terrorism and seen it first hand, as in London or New York, have changed, their opposition or apathy, or had their opnions, reinforced. It is a complex and emotive social issue. However like law and order it requires something more than the standard "tough on crime" policy adopted by myopic legislators and political parties.
When social issues are at the forefront of political debate, it is Chief Minister, of the Australian Capital Territory, Jon Stanhope, who is far and away the most literate and articulate on the issue and defence of liberty. Today (Wednesday, September 28th, 2005) Australia's government leaders will debate the federal governments proposition for reinforcing Australia's terrorism laws. Central to their objective is to convince the states to legislate to allow people to be detained (for fourteen days without charge) under warrants issued by police, not courts, and for property to be entered and searched without the knowledge of the owner or occupant. The Australian Constitution provides that a ctizen may not be unlawfuly detained without charge for an extended period. It is also planned that anybody who promotes the validity of terrorirms or defendes it may be subject to criminal prosecution for possessing evil thoughts and telling others about them. It is the intention of the federal, state and territory governments of Australia to subvert the rights of the individual and the principles of justice that underpin a civil society. The justification is the most common used by governments around the world when they resort to draconian measures - the public interest. Fear will be created to reinforce the argument to support the governments. The prospect of terrorists being resideent in Australia will be raised by politicians and senior law enforcment personnel who will not think of the consequences. Numbers of possible terrorists will be bandied around and then denial by the Prime Miniter, the Attorney General, the leader of the federal opposition, Premiers, Chief Ministers and Police Commissioners will ensue. The nation's large volume of uneducated and less well travelled citizens, and the challenged thinkers, will be fearful.
This is not a public interest debate, it is bald political interest and another example of political leaders beyond their capacities.
The political leaders of Australia do not want the media, commentators and citizens, to accuse them of not having done something. They exist within their sphere of political self interest and mediocre responses. They would rather legislate and bluster, cluster like sheep and bleat their case. They are frightened by the briefings from Australia's security, intelligence services and law enforcement officers who see an opportunity for pushing their own agendas. They wil never have an opportunity like this unless Australia sugffers a terrorist attack. Among these intelligence experts are the people who told us that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and that their was nuclear fuel and bits and pieces to make a weapon, ready for export to Iraq, from Africa. They are who have a record of being not quite right on so many occasions and who devote their time to arresting and deporting activists who might (but have not) throw marbles under a police horse, or might tutor people in resistance during demonstrations.
The separation of the executive from the parliament and the judiciary has always been the foundation of democracy. Just as innocence without the need for self incrimination is the foundation of law. The federal government proposition is to apply the culture and operation of the federal Department of Immigration, and its successive ministers, Ruddock and Vanstone, to the operation of justice and liberty across Australia. The argument put by the Prime Minister is that he seeks to strike a balance between civil liberities including free speech and ideas, regardless of how repugnant they may be to many Australians and the individual, and competing majority, rights to competing interests of individual privacy and national security.
The Australian government is drawn to the United Kingdom and United States experiences and legislative resonses. However rather than protect Australia, and its citizens, this set of proposed laws may very well legitimise and promote many of the qualities that underlie Australian society and about which we do not like to speak of, or admit. Veiled racism, bigotry and racial profiling consistent with the use of fear, insecurity and division as tools of control, and persuasion, of the nation's ignorant population. Ignorance is the greatest danger the nation faces, not terorism. Ignorance pervades every aspect of thought and the acceptance by voters of stupidity and ideology in governance. There is little difference between the federal and state governments on thinking, particularly in law and order. Legislating is something that politicians can do even though they may be ineffectual in every other aspect of their governance and so they embrace it with gusto. Leading the state labor stupidity is the Western Australia Premier, Dr.G.Gallop. Just listening to his justification for draconian measures, bragging that he is leading the way, and looking at him, conjures up images of certain people in history who liked to experiment. Characters in the regimes where denial of rights, and torture, are everyday instruments of totalitarian states. Perhaps Dr. Gallop might consider taking over the federal Immigration portfolio. If the federal government gets its way Australia is to become a virtual detention centre. When the leaders meet, it will be the leader of the smallest principality, a territory under federal government jurisdiction, who will champion our rights. If federal labor wants to shake itself out of lethargy and the doldrums it could no better than recruit Jon Stanhope. If the states, and territories, acquiesce as they surely will, the Australian Constitution and the High Court will again be the last bastion of defence against craven politics and the proposed Howard government laws.
It is the serious decline in standards, ethics and performance, and the resorting to lies, by Australia's governments and the deterioration of the public service. Australia's statutory authorities follow the example of blaming soneone else, that is the imprimatur of the Prime Minister, John Howard. The seats of federal government owned enetities are given through a system of patronage.
The Australian Wheat Board (AWB) was a federal government statutory authority trading Australia's wheat. One of its major contracts was within the food for oil prigramme to Iraq, under the auspices of the United Nations. AWB freighted its wheat overland in Iraq using a Jordanian company, partly owned by the Iraqi government of Suddam Hussien. Hussein siphoned off billions in the food for oil programme including hundreds of millions paid by AWB using the Jordanian transport company. AWB's response to this is that they did not know. That the transport contract was approved by the United Nations. There was no aforethought by AWB to check that all of its contracts were above board. It simply left that normal business function to the United Nations. John Howard says it is not the government's problem because the government floated AWB on the Australian Stock Exchange in 1999. How convenient for everyone, the AWB Board, their management, the Prime Minister and the responsible federal Ministers. It is always someone else's fault and responsibility.
There is a disengagement, and lack of regard, by citizens, and enterprise, for active participation in democracy except in pursuit of narrow partisan interests. The diaries of Mark Latham are an window into the disease. When Mark Latham was appointed leader of the Australian Labor Party I wrote to members of Australia's parliaments querying the basis of such a decision by the party. I described Mark Latham on many occasions as a "thug" who would "make the belevrs weep". I was ignored by Labor but not by conservative members of parliament. The Latham diaries are public proof of my assertion that Australia's democracy is being degraded by a handful of machine politicians across the spectrum of the political landscape. Labor faces the unappetising proposition that a large number of Australians will believe Mark Latham in a number of his claims and assertions. Listening to Labor's federal opposition spokesperson on Homeland Security, Robert McLelland, extol why Labor accepts the Howard government's draconian laws and civil liberties abuse in the name of nebulous national security reinforces this notion. His reasoned response to questions from the media of acquiescent agreement with the government, without realising that he exemplifies the proposition of comfortable facade, that Labor is the opposition to the Coalition. It is not. It is in a power sharing agreement to keep competitor political forces out of the democratic process.
McLelland responds weakly about legal rights by saying that if a lawyer has national security clearance they are entitled to know the matters for which their clients are being retained for interrogation, without legal defence, in the absence of judicial warrants for arrest or charge, up to 14 days. Kim Beazley, Labor leader, may as well be the Deputy Prime Minister in the liberal party for all the replication of conservative values he trots out to ingratiate himself with fickle, uninformed voters whose primary concern is their mortgage interest rate. The federal Labor party has failed to win government on numerous occasions. Collectively, they are poor at strategy and are bland and uninteresting. Latham at least was, and is, interesting. Consistent with human nature, they gather together to justify their collective failure because they all want to keep their jobs and positions of influence. To take responsibility for failure would mean that some of them might have to go.
The journalists that are supposed to inform, and watch, our political system with independent eyes and ears leave much to be desired in their analysis. They relish the world of power and patronage in which they find themselves. They will not risk losing access and being a part of the inner circle.
The duopoly ( Labor and Liberal) are comfortable in their control of the levers of government. In any election outcome at least 30% - 40%, perhaps more of the Australian population will not be represented by their candidate of choice. The minority candidate has to overcome the odds in the primary vote (such as Tony Windsor, Peter Andren and another independent Murphy, have done) to gain a seat in parliament. The labor, liberal and national parties in a three-way coalition have no interest in parliamentary or electoral reforms. It is not to their benefit.
Voters, turning has placed the National Party in the box seat and Mark Vaile the leader of the National Party, and Deputy Prime Minister, walks a tight rope. He actually cannot be both and take the National Party to a new paradigm of relevance and power in Australian politics. He is trying to serve two masters and if he persists he will squander the opportunity for the party. Barnaby Joyce sees himself as the "balance of power" in the parliament and this is also nonsense. He put on a nice show over Telstra and down the track he will find that he too was in an invidious position. All his claims of constitutional independence came to nothing. The liberal party, under John Howard, lacks an ethical and moral compass, preferring expediency and self-interest. The liberal ministers of the Howard government epitomise the centralist qualities of individualism and career over collective public interest and good. The Howard Ministers are the Australian mirror image of George Bush. They like he cannot see over the horizon. He failed to realise what Hurricane Katrina would mean for his political creer and the effect of his mother's description of the afflicted of the southern states as people who were underprivileged, but now better off.
participating in public policy and in government is your democratic right. ("Denying participation", Kevin Beck)
Telstra and the Comedy (late 2005). |
John Howard must go for broke on this issue for he has directly created the scenario that is damaging the government every day. His judgement may need questioning. This however is not about to happen for the liberal party sees John Howard as their ticket to retaining office. They discard Peter Costello as the heir apparent. He has missed the boat. The government will get the sale of Telstra legislation through but then Mr. Howard will have to make a lie out of his claim that he will not sell Telstra at any price. He has to. Minister for Finance, Senator Nick Minchin will have to spin a new story. The federal government is being out flanked as usual, not by the labor party, but by others external to parliament. This government must employ the greatest number of inept advisers and consultants of any Australian government at state, territory and federal level. John Howard , his Ministers and his advisers, do not do their homework. They ignore, as irrelevant, people who have contrary opinions. They ignore those who have no "title or status" or who are not considered expert, in favour of listening to those who present what the Prime Minister, and his colleagues, want to hear and believe. According to research, experts get it right no more than those who are not experts.
Researcher Philip Tetlock, a psychologist with a Phd from Yale has spent of his time at the Universities of California, Berkely and Ohio asys so. What makes him unqiue in the world of academic research is that he has produced a seminal and intensive study of the world of experts, of all types, and assessed whether they are any better at teir activity than a novice such as me (KEVINRBECK). Philip has published his research in "Expert Political Judgement: How good is it? How can we know? Princeton University Press.
His research translates to any society and this case I have compared it to how things work in Australia. The Australian Financial Review published an excellent synopsis (Friday 25 November, 2005, Review 3) of his research in an article written by Paul Monk, who is co-founder of Austhink Consulting and author of "Thunder from the silent zone: rethinking China". Tetlock's work can be applied to the unflinching claims of the Howard government for its Workplace Relations Reforms, justification of war in Iraq, economic policy, investment in R&D and other pet projects and its ideological pursuit of dross. Similarly it can be used to debunk economic forecasts, political analysis and a host of other "crystal ball" style pronouncements that are used to sells ervices, dress up stories and drive home points. The reserach exposes the human tendency to rely on an expert, particularly one with a job that suits and a title to go withit. The histiory of their performance and other traits are never considered nor remembered. He says that "experts are attempting to do with confidence what they demonstrably annot do very well at all. They make lots of money and cudos from dubious forecasts without ultimate accountability. They are well suited to being politicians particularly Ministers in Australia's governments and consultants and advisers in Australia's top tier companies and public sector enterprises.
They are partisan, rarely admit error or they will give a dozen explanations as to how they got it wrong. Governments, shareholders and businesses lose billions year after year but continue to draw on their services. Monk quotes Tetlock, "we keep running into ideological impasses rooted in each side insisting on being the only judge of its own beliefs and forecasts". Does that have resonance, or sound familar, in your workplace, communities, in political rhetoric and justification, on television and everywhere? Tetlock found that experts on their home turf made neither better calibrated nor more discriminating forecasts than did dilettante tresspassers. Monk says that telock found that it made virtually no difference whether participants had doctorates, whether they were economists, political scientists, journalists or historians, whether they had policy experience or acces to classified information, or whether they had logged many or few years of experience in their chosen line of work.
There was no correlation bewteen ideology and accuracy of judgement or precision of forecasting. The experts tended not to adjust their beliefs when the evidence came in but to rationalise or outright deny their errors. Is that familar too? Seems our politicians have this gene. The dominant danger he concluded was hubris closed mindedness, dismissing dissonant possibilities too quickly. Resistance is fierce particularly from those with grand reputations but humble track records.
Tetlock did find that exacting research using scientific and other proven techniques based on solid empirical evidence and statistical analysis and checking, using large volumes of data and input over time did impact on the accuracy and quality. This is the instrinsic objective of the design of the Mosaic Portal.
The Australian government is stuffed on getting value for Telstra. They will have to give away a public asset at bargain basement price. Senator Barnaby Joyce, one of the new members of the federal parliament and government coalition in Australia, appears to have quickly grasped what the CEO, Sol Trujillo, is saying about the state of Telstra Australia. However Barnaby had already received his thirty pieces of silver, or so it seemed, until he read the fine print in the draft bill. He was to get "up to thirty pieces" not thirty pieces.
The Senator came into parliament espousing high moral and ethical intentions quoting the Australian constitution's requirement that Senators act for their state and not at the direction of the government executive. He galvanised attention and this went all swimmingly until he came to his first real challenge, Telstra. He believed the common rhetoric about Telstra as did his myopic National colleagues even though they had been constantly told that what was being put about regarding Telstra was misleading. Ministers like Peter McGauran, and every member of Australia's parliament ignored communications questioning the belief that Telstra was a fine telecommunications company worth a lot of money. He demanded concessions from the government to vote to sell the remaining government shares in the utility. He wanted new bits and pieces to make the telecomunications in rural Australia the best monmey could buy. He plucked a number out of a hat and he claims credit for forcing the government to allocate $A2 billion dollars to developing telecommunications infrastructure in regional and rural. But the draft bill said up to $2 billion.
Spotty slime bits began to publicly emerge, and grow, on the government's story of Telstra and its value. A private briefing given by the new CEO of Telstra Australia, to senior government Ministers and the Prime Minister, informed the largest shareholder (the government) that all was not fabulous at Telstra. A lot of people had purchased Telstra shares based on pronouncements by the government and Telstra during the past few years and there were a lot of claims made by politicians, previous Telstra management and other commentators that the Telstra service was pretty good and that Telstra was worth $60billion. The government's 51% was valued in budget papers and in certain media papers at $A33 billion.
Mr. Trujillo begged to differ very dramatically and he has presented a very different picture. This picture coincides with continued predictions, and analysis of Telstra's real situation, posted on one of the Mosaic Portal's web sites, and distributed to parliament in detailed submissions and stated in public hearings and in many other arenas, by myself, that Telstra's networks were not state of the art and were not up to scratch and that Telstra was worth nowhere near $60 billion and that the government's holding was worth maybe as low as $A23 billion. In 2006 it may well be below $A3.00 as low as $A2.30 per share.
When Senator Joyce was on ABC's Lateline programme with Labor's Senator Conroy, he was asked if he would still vote for the sale of the government's share holding of 51% now that the Chief Executive, Sol Trujillo, had published the private briefing paper given to the government Ministers. The Prime Minister claims he was legally not allowed to tell the public about the content of the briefing paper. This is typical of his silding out from responsibility. There is always some impediment, it is someone else's fault.
Senator Joyce claimed that his efforts were the saving grace of all of this. He said that the $A2 billion he had extracted would provide broadband, focusing on the Internet and mobile coverage. What he does not understand is that the cost of bringing Telstra's base network up to a state where one can add these additional, heavy impost technology applications will be $A2 billion to $A3 billion before one can add his "u-beaut" applications and that the cost of achieving what he thinks he is getting out of the deal is closer to $A5.5billion - $A6 billion, in reality.
The reason is as follows. Telephone lines and connections are grouped in clusters within buildings, in shopping centres, in residential areas, suburbs and in communities. These clusters connect some type of service control box which in turn goes off to an exchange. The exchange may be a small box on a wall or a large building in its own right or a hut in a paddock. The controllers and exchanges have wires, cables and a range of computer type slot cards and other equipment that support basic telephony (voice) and high utility services (voice, image, data and text). Also inside these boxes, and exchanges, is an electricity supply, consisting of a power line, batteries, a diesel engine or in remote locations, battery and a solar panel. There are tens of thousands of these, probably 36,000+, installations all over the nation.
Telephones, control boxes, exhanges and mobile towers need power. These remote locations are connected across the nation by signalling equipment arriving at a Telstra control network facility in Clayton in Melbourne, where faults and failures are logged and instructions sent out daily to the workforce There is a limited number of personnel servicing a region and these numbers were substantially reduced in 2000 over the numbers working in 1999. Telstra has continued to lose staff, knowledge and technical expertise. This is not good in an organisation where hybrid systems and non standard technologies are common place.
The function of maintaining the power backup systems, and equipment, centre is not state of the art. On each desk in the year 1999 were two or three computer terminals each performing a different function, not integrated and each running different types of software, with some programmes being proprietary, that is written for Telstra by staff, single programmers and not telecommunications market wide applications software products. They are unique to Telstra, outdated and dysfunctional. It is likely that much of the Telstra technical systems suhcas the ones at Clayton, and the software, have not been upgraded or replaced on a scale to meet modern telecomunications environments.
The equipment across is not standard. The exchanges are not standard, the cards, diesels, batteries and boxes are not standard. Some of this equipment was made as far back as the sixties and fifties and is no longer made. There are limited, or no spare parts. In 2000 Telstra did not actually know where at least 700 + of these control boxes were, because buildings had been renovated, streets and suburbs changed and records lost or not completed.
Some of the equipment had not been routinely maintained even though records indicated that it had received regular maintenance. Given that there had been no major failure in the power supply back up systems and equipment, Telstra had not invested in replacement and had rated the likelihood of failure of its exchanges (in terms of power supply equipment) at about 1.3%. This would be a rating applicable to modern equipment and not gear that is fifteen, thirty or perhaps sixty years old. It would also be a risk rating not accounting for a Katrina style hurricane or other nasty natural event (on the rise) in parts of the nation such as far northern and coastal Queensland, Darwin and other Australian coastal regions.
The copper cable (by far the most common connection) is also old and the buzz now is fibre optic. Some think that a fibre optic cable can be put out there for $A7billion, but connected to what? The telepower system needs replacing particularly if the load is increased in the system to meet Barnaby's expectation of broadband and flash applications all over . The computer systems need replacing. The workforce to do all of this needs tripling from its current numbers. All of this must take place before broadband or any other fancy application can be added.
Analysts focus on the fact that Telstra controls the last mile, a term for the connection point at the user's residence or place of work. The copper cable, that according to pundits, the competitors want access to. It may all be very well to have access but it will not do much for service levels and quality if the cards and power supplies in the control station and excahnges are not up to scratch. Simply put Telstra cannot, nor can anyone else, in the sector deliver broadband everywhere, particularly in regional and remote, using the existing Telstra infrastructure, at the cost and timeframe in Barnaby's fantasy. He is out of the ballpark by $A3 - $4 billion. A clerical error by the former accountant.
The National party will eventually walk away from the Telstra sale issue. Arguing that the price of the float is too high and contributon to budget has declined over time. Mr. Howard and his team did not count on the Nationals deciding that they should not be the pawns of the liberal party and members of government when they had an opportunity to demonstrate their electoral credentials. The Nationals will suddenly fluff their feathers and differentiate thesmelves, though it is not clear howthey might do this if all they have doing it is Barnaby Joyce and the rest of the party are liberal clones. Senator Julian McGauran bears watching in all of this.
This possibility of independence has enraged many of the liberal party members. They are without an ethical, and a moral, compass and do not understand such complex issues as Constitution and electoral commtment to voters. Represent the people who elected them and the other drongoes who voted for the others! What tripe! Who has heard ofsuhc a preposterous theory? They strut the corridors of parliament house humming. some even singing, the tribe song - "loyalty to the party room, first and foremost and bugger the constituents".
In his first term in office John Howard lost seven ministers and senior front bench members because they could not act ethically. Inefficiency, misrepresentation, lack of knowledge, poor planning and administration have become the hallmarks of the Howard government. These characteristics permeate their period of government and major policy initiatives on employment services with Employment National (going broke), Job Network (almost going broke three times), Iraq and weapons of mass destruction, with Children Overboard, Immigration (deporting Australian citizens by error, failing to honour international treaties and codes, participating in b4reaches of human rights), filures in military justice leading to people suiciding or losing their creers. So it was with the government's much vaunted Light Metals Agenda (magnesium), with reserach and development, with national energy policy and market formation, with the environment, with water,with broadcasting and now with telecommunications. It is the same with everything of significance.
The Howard government cannot manage a quality public service delivery and they create a culture in the public service of fear, poor performance and servitude to government Minsiterial whims and demands and the direction of unelected advisers and staff of Ministers. The Howard government engages in sycophancy, and nepotism, and misuse of public funds for their own political purposes, in open contempt of due process. Ministers of the Howard government and members of the Austraoian Senate breach their oath of office and duty by serving the government and not the people. Under the Australian Constitution, Senators are required to place state righs before the federal government party agenda. Liberal Senator Brandis, and other members of the Howard government deride, badger and harass National party Senator Barnaby Joyce for following this principle demanding that he support the government before his constituents. They deride critics and people of principle who question their policies, motives and actions. They cannot see over the horizon and anticipate who is going to oppose and frustrate them. They think they have identified all of the players and the networks.
John Howard and his Ministers are barely able to meet minimum acceptable performance standards in management let alone demonstrate the rare lateral abilities to strategise with effect. It must be the narrowness of their experience of a competitive world.
Supporters of market and capitalist theory would argue that Telstra (Australia's major telecommunications corporation) exists purely to provide shareholder returns, consistent with statements of the Treasurer; Peter Costello exhibited in his remarks about the antics of Telstra executives in confronting the government (September 2005).
Supporters of the free market also see concepts such as "corporate social responsibility" as baggage imposed on corporations; excessive (if any) regulation, business ethics, and social responsibility are optional extras. According to Telstra's new team of executives, and their rejuvenated board, it is up to government, not the private sector, to improve the telecommunications services of rural and remote Australia.
In the telecommunications debate the antagonists to privatisation have a bob each way claiming that the government is failing to deliver, and consequentially business (Telstra or any other company) should do more.
Development of a stronger regulatory imposition is designed to promote a shared responsibility, by the owners of Telstra, the government, and anyone else for the disadvantaged rural dweller. In an effort to fine tune the rules for telecommunications provision, as a political objective not a business or competition objective, the Australian government turns to regulation. This solution moves accountability for the outcome from the Minister, and the government, to the industry. Conversely, and hypocritically, this government argues that industry needs less regulation in industrial relations because it again suits their option for self-interested political expediency. The national interest is a bystander in policy deliberations in Australia's parliaments.
It appears that politicians, and others, who would promote and accept this as necessary appeasement for their vote (Barnaby Joyce, the Nationals, et al) do not learn the lessons of experience.
Corporation behaviour is highly regulated under Corporations Law, yet despite all the onerous rules and laws controlling business, the incidences of ignoring the rules, bypassing and moral and ethical lapses that have lead to spectacular failure, and prosecutions of the rich and famous, have continued unabated.
Given this, the regulatory framework that is to underpin the sale, and ultimate delivery of service by Telstra, is unlikely to do the job that people are expecting. It has been said that Telstra does not comply they should be fined heavily. Do we see the Trade Practices Act deterring behaviour and making executives and company directors acquiescent?
Executives at Telstra, like any other major corporation enjoying a relative monopoly, are likely, out of ego and other driving factors, to spend an inordinate amount of money, time and resources trying to get around something that they do not embrace and have any regard for. They will oppose regulation and try and get around it whether the government or anyone else owns Telstra. This goes someway to explain the current antipathy, and strident attacks, being levelled on the government's policies by Messrs. Trujillo and Burgess.
The propositions put about by commentators and observers, that they came here without doing their homework or that they are behaving extraordinarily arrogantly or naÃ¯vely demonstrate the immaturity of people in government, media and proponents of regulation, anti-privatisation and social justice. On the customer side is the bleating, "we choose to live in the far flung parts and therefore we are entitled to receive the same level of resources and access to technology". This is also dislocated from reality. Populations are departing rural Australia not growing. If procreation was on the rise and immigrants were surging in, in a flood then one may argue the economies of scale and no doubt Telstra might find them interesting as customers. The Law of Diminishing returns is already in full play. Rural dwellers are not the growth customer base.
People in glasshouses, such as Mr. Costello ought to look to his own responsibility to the shareholders of government (citizens). Throwing a billion, or two public dollars, at the problem for the purposes of political expediency is not maximising shareholder value. He fails in his own job on a regular basis, as do his colleagues. However, accountability is not a value enshrined in politics and government and they expeditiously point the finger at Mr. Trujillo and the Telstra Board.
The Minister for Telecommunications, Ms Helen Coonan, stands on ceremony, which has become the hallmark of modern Australian governments. "You shall not argue back: at this government. She is not in the same street-fightiang league as those she would seek to tame.
The telecommunications industry is not a great investment and as I have argued for the past two years, to a non-existent audience, Telstra's sale price will never achieve $25 billion let alone $33 billion. It seems the light bulb of dawning has finally hit home. In the past people have bought Telstra shares for their annual dividends and cunning Mr. Trujillo is saying that these dividends are at risk. Telecommunications is now a dangerous thing to have in one's share portfolio though idiots did once make it a prized possession creating a few billionaires. The government, and the people of Australia, through the efforts of the opposition parties, are left with a dud, by comparison, because they missed the boat.
This is not something new, invented by the CEO, it is logical and is based on historical fact, worldwide. Politicians, and others, ranting and the media creating a rain gauge of falling share price is nothing more than spectacle without substance and reality. The government is locked into achieving the best sale price for Telstra shares and that is the Achilles heel of the good Senator's plans and the barrier to achieving a beneficial outcome.
Wanting to play petty political games, with big blank posters, in election campaigns, and playing at share trading are sideshows. The politicians (all of them) in the federal parliament during the nineties and up to date created and added to this mess.
The government has to look at its own Mission statement to see that its design was always flawed. The privatisation of Australia's electricity industry, also built on regulatory frameworks, has not delivered so why is telecommunications any different?
There is however a significant difference. Unlike energy, telephones and gadgets have a finite appeal, application, growth, and utility. Much of the consumer add on is discretionary spending.
The logical, and technically efficient thing to do, if competition, access and service is the objective, is to take the infrastructure out and come up with a model for competitive development over time. To do this guts Telstra's value and leaves the existing and prospective shareholder with what?
Trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear has always been impossible. Alternatively, the tactic that most investors use when they are bleeding financially, is to sell the lot, take a loss, and move on rather than hope that some miracle may come along and extricate them. The federal government cannot afford to do this openly so they will sell some and stick the other shares into a "Future Fund" to be managed by other people. In this way the government of John Howard will not be accountable for the plunging share value or for misrepresenting the value of the shares in budgets. ("Telecommunications in Australia, Telstra's three amigos will lose", Kevin Beck)
|Citizen versus the State and Power Collective
It is not about good government, equal representation or public interest
Some time ago the cabinet of the Howard government was determining welfare benefits for Australian war veterans. Their decison apparently revolved around reducing them substantially by hundreds of millions in the coming budget. However the government's media unit, and Ministers, were as is the practice of this morally debased government, presenting a different public image.
A public servant felt that ethics and honesty might be public interest issues as much as illegality. The Howard government Ministries, and public service departments, have a public record of lying, altering data and records, doctoring pictures and misrepresenting fact. Howard avoids being linked to this by endlessly stating that he was no told and he was not aware. These are traits the greater number of public chooses to ignore.
Journlists published documents demonstrating the Howard government duplicity on veteran's affairs, leaked by a public servant. That person is now on trial and the journalista are asked in court to name their source or risk going to jail.
Australia has no laws protecting journalists. Howard and every other politician in Australia has built hos career onleaking information to the media. Howard when asked about thisin the media extolls the virtues of honesty and integrity of cabinet process and the right to privacy. He is a hypocrite when he says that government has a right to discuss things in public when he has never demonstrated ethics and morality as his primary qualities. He has been opportune in playing the game of "show and tell". He claims that it is his and the Minister's right. He and his senior coleagues are happy to proceed down this very fraught track, demand of others, personal qualities and behaviour they do not exhibit or adhere to.
Yes governments, and Ministers, have the right to deliberate in private. What they do not have a right to do is lie, and present a different picture and to be continuously dishonest and disingenous. They do not have the right to rub their hypocrisy. in the form of power and offce, into the face of smarter Australians, because a large number of not so smart Australians are so stupid as to believe the consumer myth and the siren call, lumbering themselves with so much debt that they have to trade their democracy, to stave off the inevitable. Howard is in office, not on his personal integrity, moral leadership and creative abilities. He is pawn owned by the market. He is there on expediency, on the votes of people who have no choice. Whose personal interests are not concerned with having an ethical or honest government. Their interests revolve around mortgages, money, taxes and debt, fearful that some other liars and cheats might cause interest rates to rise. If Howard was a state liberal leader he would never have seen the office of the Premier except as a visitor.
If the Herald Sun journalists are jailed, then there will be a rolling blackout on government media and issues, liberal and national politicians, across Australia and an escalation of the coverage of the Howard government's ethics and integrity worldwide. Then the little smart arse that calls the government his, will learn that he, and his cabinet colleagues, are just small politicians, of testable abilities. Let the dance begin.("Threatening the right to enquiry", Kevin Beck)
John Howard's betrayal of his parliamentary oath will damage the
Liberal party and shine a light on Labor also and the National party
will extend its grip on seats over time.The liberal party risks losing Senate seats to the National Party at the next federal election and a range of lower house seats, at state and federal level, on the fringes of the metropolitan and regional centres of Australia. There is no reason why the National party cannot represent inner metropolitan seats also.
Six weeks prior to the 2004 federal election I predicted an increase in the majority of Peter McGauran's federal seat in Gippsland and the rise in power of the Nationals particularly in the Senate. This is verifiable fact posted on the Internet and in communication with members of the National Party, copied to the media.
Today political commentators are describing the National's situation as a blip on the radar sticking to their prediction that the National Party is in decline and will fade away.
Senator Barnaby Joyce is the mechanism by which the Nationals will:|
(a) Walk away from the sale of Telstra and,
(b) Consolidate their legitimacy and future as the party of the ordinary Australian.
The Nationals know that to sell Telstra is a fatal blow to the coalition but their liberal colleagues are blinded by their ideological "totems' and "icons" . Senator Barnaby Joyce is the public face of those who believe that John Howard, and others, have betrayed their parliamentary oath to serve according to the intent of the Constitution. The Family First Senator is less a role model because he serves a narrow interest group rather than the essence of the Constitution. Family First has limited value because the family unit is not the majority representation of lifestyle in Australia.
It is not John Howard, and the Liberal Party's, government, it is not Bob Carr's nor Steve Bracks' and nor is it owned by Peter Beattie arrogantly states that it is "my government" when he assumed the mantle of Treasurer. One can get a measure of the corrosive cancer which has taken over, by looking at these and many other examples such as Senator Heffernan, Wilson Tuckey and Sophie Panopolous. The parliament, of both liberal and labor members, has stolen the peoples' government and its democracy. John Howard's betrayal of his oath is evident in his statement that members of parliament owe their loyalty to the party room. A mantra adopted also by Labor. According to this they are not bound by any obligation to the electorate they are meant to serve.
Everywhere we read that today's adults are far more educated than their parents and less trusting of their politicians. People know that the modern politician has betrayed their oath of service and degraded their democracy. The Democrats betrayed their own legitimacy when they, too embraced the duopoly. The National Party's Barnaby Joyce and independents such as Peter Andren are the exception to the political rule and their model is the future. It is not the National party that is in decline it is the Liberal and Labor party's stranglehold on democracy. It will just take time and active distribution of this argument to bring it about. ("Austarlia's Political Cartel brands in major decline", Kevin Beck)
Fast forward from 1840 to Australia in 2005 where the Prime Minister, John Howard,
says that Australian workers have never had it so good as under the last ten years of his government.
Them what are the
origins of our pessimism?
Under Australia's model of government power is vested in the executive and not in the parliament. In the federal structure there is a lower and upper house with defined procedures and responsibilities within the Constitution creating checks and balances. No such system exists in Queensland since there is no upper house. The government defines policy and direction. Over time, across Australia, the executive, and Ministers, have taken on a managerial role on top of their parliamentary and government policy, regardless of qualification, experience and skill. The public service has become government service. New managerial systems have been imposed with little thought to how change and culture are affected or resistance is mounted. It is a top down system of imposed direction.
Despite the claim that the whole of government approach is "outcomes" based, this is not so. It is input and output based model which is completely different. In times gone by the bureaucracy was input focused, as it built its internal assets, power and structure. Part of the power structure was the instilling of culture, through training, into public servants. Mandarins (Secretaries and others) with tenure exercised independence from the government, and executive, of the day guarding this and their power jealously. The public service was professional by deliberate intent, and design, not presentead, and images, as being professional by the glossy brochures and fantasy presented to parliament and public by the head of today's services whether they be state, territory or federal. Codification of management principles, into a mantra titled core business, has been a cosmetic exercise masking the failure to undertake deep research of the role and operation of governments, whilst a transfer of the old hierarchical models of control systems into hamds of political appointments, sycophants of the executive and otehr contractual appointments by the governments of the day in Australia. With this homogenisation process, " marketisation", "whole of government" and "commonality of belief systems" (indistinguishable political parties) has come corrosion of standards, and growth in incompetence, cover up and even illegalities by members of the executive,and public service management, of governments. But does the greater part of the nation care or know? The focus of our government and public serice is no longer on training, service and professionalism for their own staff. The focus in every public service in Australia, as shaped by politicisation, is about serving, and protecting, a narrow political elite. yet they demand that the private sector train their employees whilst setting little example. Palmer (July, 2005) refers to the lack of training in his report on the state of the federal Department of Immigration. The citizens of the nation are required to accept what they get until the next ballot box particularly the ill, disadvantaged and poor. As for the power of the electorate there is regard, during tenure of the government, only for the influential and a mandate is claimed behind these claimed mandates lies a systemic lack of accountability with resources applied to avoidance The electorate, and behaviour, is shaped. Those who serve loyally are rewarded. There are extensive examples across federal, state and territory systems of of bullying, ostracisation, sanction and threats. In major federal agencies staff refer to the managerial process of "being beaten up". The Australian Senate is told by senior public service managers that there is no recriminatory or bullying system in the public service and that staff are free to express their opinions. There apparently is no doctoring of reports, briefs and memorandums and the Australian public service is not politicised. Maybe they perceive this to be the case in their world of work but might it be far from the truth in the engine rooms? Is this view accurate, ill informed, incompetent or utilisation of the new tool of government, spinning the truth through the medium of communication and advertising prpoganda.?
A major and destructive conflict of interest has blossomed. There are questions as to the real extent of political power. Adoption of managerial operatinal models do not sit easily in a public service system. Total Quality Management assumes that the focus of effort is delivering value to an end recipient. It does not take into account, measure or negate, politically vested interests, objectives and controlled interference. Glossy brochures, and annual reports, of the department shaped by the Minister to look its best for their political interest not the citizen's interest imply that services delivery is both objective and outcome.
We have seen glaring examples in the fedral arena that this is not the case, and in other states and territories. Auditor General, and Ombudsman, reports to parliament indicate that in many cases performance is very poor. These reports may have some embarassment value for those concerned, but are largely ignored since the parliament is not the in charge.
The tendency, and growing practice, by bureaucrats to hide things, to protect their political masters, their colleagues, themselves and other powerful interests, can have devastating consequences. The mode of operation and structures of hierarchy, power, and operation, invite such practice. This trend to lie and deny permeates the political process, corporate management and the community. Queensland Health presents a prominent example of the conflict model and the imposition of competing interests. Medical practitioner stakeholders, administrators, accountants, nurses, bureaucrats, politicians and patients all intermingling with different expectations and objectives. This places the organisation in a world of purgatory. Despite the fine words and managerial exercises, the worst of public administration lurks deep inside. A hierarchical structure of formal authority exists, the communications network is hierarchical and formal. There are extensive systems of formal rules. There are also informal structures of authority, informal and personal communications and formal impersonality of operations mingled with intense personal loyalty and personal involvement among officials in the highest ranks of the hierarchy. (Stewart, R.G. Public Policy, 1999).
This organisational model is standard, not exception, across Queensland's public enterprises and services. It exists in every other state and territory. The catalyst is a focus on money, and productivity, at every level of politics and management. Productivity in the political world is a measurement of statistical output not quality outcome. Personal, and political, power trying to retain control, poor management and conflicting interests. There can be no constancy of purpose towards improvement in such environments and public sector managers, and others with deep involvement,can apparently live with delays, mistakes, defective systems and procedures and defective workmanship if the primary goal is maintenance, control and protection of self. Thus when a nurse blows the whistle on a doctor, on senior management and the members of the hierarchy the reactions, responses and retaliations are as we openly observe. The person is victimised, threatened and isolated. When hierarchy, and interest, is threatened, in the health system, in the legal system, in utilities and so on, the mechanisms of protection in politics, administration and all the other affected elements trigger. It is not until a journalist enquiring into the matter probes a spotlight on the players that the real world emerges. The politicians invariably express shock along with many others in the hierarchy. It is feigned because they are all willing participants in the theatre. Political corruption in Australia exists hwoever we rarely get to see it. The practice of merging political, public service and other interests into a "whole system" may bring with it a dangerous environment, in which to work and be a participant. This is quite clear to aboriginal people, to the disadvantaged and disabled, to the people who have been maimed or have died in Queensland hospitals, who have died on NSW trains, whose electricity systems fail, whose health care care is diminished and to the people so shockingly treated by federal immigration and the rest of Australia's governments who fail to deliver the goods and be accountable for their actions.
The focus on economy belies, and ignores, the Corrosion of Australia's Character.
The above paper and web site was inspired by Richard Sennett's seminal publication, "The Corrosion of Character: The Personal Consequences of Work
in the New Capitalism", W. W. Norton, 1998.
Parrot debates about life and issues
Experts are everywhere. Governments and corporations use them, the media,
public and private entities. They inhabit universities.
They inhabit disciplines particularly economics.
a psychologist with a Phd from Yale has spent of his time at the
Universities of California, Berkely
What makes him unique in the world of academic research is that he has produced a
seminal and intensive study of the
of all types, and assessed whether they are any better at their activity than a novice.
Philip has published his research in "Expert Political Judgement: How good is it? How can we know? (Princeton University Press).
His research translates to any society and this case I have compared it to how things work in Australia. The Australian Financial Review published an excellent synopsis (Friday 25 November, 2005, Review 3) of his research in an article written by Paul Monk, who is co-founder of Austhink Consulting and author of "Thunder from the silent zone: rethinking China". Tetlock's work can be applied to the unflinching claims of the Howard government for its Workplace Relations Reforms, justification of war in Iraq, economic policy and management approach, investment in Research and Development and other pet projects and its ideological pursuit of form and dogma over substance. Similarly it can be used to debunk economic forecasts, political analysis and a host of other "crystal ball" style pronouncements that are used to sell services, dress up stories and drive home points. Mass media is used to reinforce and drown out. The central message of the government in Australia today is that everything rides on economy and principally monetary policy. The use of fiscal policy to adjust radical problems or to tweak the economy in the public interest is abandoned. This is because it conflicts with free market policy. There are exceptions, driven by political interests. The abandonment of the privatisation of the Snowy Mountains Scheme in Australia's NSW by the Prime Minister is one such example.
Politics presents an interesting mosaic of smoke and mirrors. The Treasurer, Peter Costello appears to focus on monetary policy as the primary tool. Policy is framed at influencing monetary policy principally keeping inflation down. Franco Modigliani suggests that on the whole monetarists are characterised by a profound mistrust of government authority. They see governments as tending to be dishonest It is interesting that Australian business associations embrace the government coalition of liberal and national) whilst many clearly follow Modigliani's proposition. The Australian government of John Howard and Peter Costello has rebadged monetary policy with the label of choice policy. Apparently we as consumers of government services now have choice as our primary motivator. We are free of the bondage of political correctness. Only in so far as the government defines what is correct. It is apparently correct, in their view, to marginalise, degrade and corrode our democratic participation in government and our legal foundations. We are not able to challenge authority and executive power as our parliaments have been neutered by the two major political parties and the executive governments of the day. Labor in the states and territories and liberal-national in the federal arena. Our parliaments do not effectively control either the amount of money available to the government or the spending of it.
The High Court of Australia (2005) further eroded our parliament when they ruled that the government could spend tens of millions of dollars ($A40,000,000) on advertising the Workchoices on the basis of a single general, unspecific line item ($A1,400,000,000) in one of the departmental allocations which had not been fianlised and presented to the federal parliament. In essence our governments have a set of books they publish and another set that are the reality. They are completely different. The latter one we never see. This is corruption of our democracy and government and we tolerate it. The Media presents the myriad of corrosive elements affecting us as a mood for change in the electorate. Turn on the television, and radio, especially the commercial channels, view or listen to the "airheads" presenting news, current affairs and interviews.
Our government embraces the free market. One might well consider how the free market policies, espoused by Milton Friedman, operated in Chile under Pinochet. We may view the incarceration of david Hicks by the US with Australia's tacit agreement, as a window into the soul of the Howard government particularly Philip Ruddock. Australia is in the grip of a skills crisis because our governments (all of them) are reticent to invest in human capital and prefer ideological political battles and gladiatorial feats over sound education policy. Perhaps people are a burden on governments and suicide is a potential reduction of the burden.
In education experts drive the policy direction theorising the outcomes. Our governments do not invest in infrastructure because it would impact on government debt. Instead they roll out the new glitzy "public private partnership" model. A concoction of the imagination of bureaucrats. They model the world in simplistic terms and trade our assets for long term burden of another form. Inn the state of Victoria we have seen how the infrastructure has fallen into the hands of three major banks and the state priorities are now ruled outside of government. The work choices policy of the Australian government is a barrier to human potential for it reduces our employment to the lowest common denominator placing the health of the enterprise against the health of the employee and the collective talents of the nation. It seems to pass economists by that high wages actually promote innovation and creativity. All of this has the effect of propping up the power collectives control of capital and Australian governments. The media swoons over the huge amounts of cash flowing through the economy, unleashed by banks in search of ever increasing profits even at the expense of bankrupting the borrowers.
Tetlock's research exposes the human tendency to rely on an expert, particularly one with a job that suits and a title to go without. The history of their performance and other traits are never considered nor remembered. He says that "experts are attempting to do with confidence what they demonstrably cannot do very well at all. They make lots of money and kudos from dubious forecasts without ultimate accountability. They are well suited to being politicians particularly Ministers in Australia's governments and consultants and advisers in Australia's top tier companies and public sector enterprises.
They are partisan, rarely admit error or they will give a dozen explanations as to how they got it wrong. One can look at AWB Pty Ltd and the internal culture of its management and their distorted perception of the world of trade and anticipated consequence, never seeing a scandal that should have embroiled the Australian government in AWB's payment of bribes to Suddam Hussein. Fast forward to April 2007 and a group of experts raiders read the economic climate and move to take over Qantas Airways. They are the famed investment raiders. Their spokesperson is a well known Australian businessman. They believe, with Qantas management, that they can gain over 85% of the shares and privatise the company. They fail to read a world beyond them, the investors who hold Qantas as an icon. They believe greed and self interest based on economics and price will deliver them the airline. They are wrong. Their analysis was wrong. They have spent millions on their misconception. Governments, shareholders and businesses lose billions year after year but continue to draw on the services of economists and theorists who get it wrong. These are the big names of the business world. We know them. Governments and bureaucrats and business constantly employ them. This is despite their woeful records. These are vapour ware companies. Monk quotes Tetlock, "we keep running into ideological impasses rooted in each side insisting on being the only judge of its own beliefs and forecasts". Does that have resonance, or sound familiar, in your workplace, communities, in political rhetoric and justification, on television and everywhere? Tetlock found that experts on their home turf made neither better-calibrated nor more discriminating forecasts than did dilettante trespassers. Monk says that Tetlock found that it made virtually no difference whether participants had doctorates, whether they were economists, political scientists, journalists or historians, whether they had policy experience or access to classified information, or whether they had logged many or few years of experience in their chosen line of work.
There was no correlation between ideology and accuracy of judgement or precision of forecasting. The experts tended not to adjust their beliefs when the evidence came in but to rationalise or outright deny their errors. Is that familiar too? Seems our politicians have this gene. The dominant danger he concluded was hubris closed mindedness, dismissing dissonant possibilities too quickly. Resistance is fierce particularly from those with grand reputations but humble track records.
Tetlock did find that exacting research using scientific and other proven techniques based on solid empirical evidence and statistical analysis and checking, using large volumes of data and input over time did impact on the accuracy and quality. ("The truth about experts", Kevin Beck)
Uranium is going to be processed and beneficiated in Australia.
There is a big public relations campaign in the USA now, for uranium and energy, what a coincidence!
Web site for politicians, government servants, corporate managers, boards and anyone else who needs to know about|
(April 2007) The leaders of Australia's governments at territory, state and federal levels have all adopted a presidential style of government with power centred on the party leader (Chief Minister, Premier and Prime Minister) and a small cabal of members of government operating within the cabinets. These ignorant and self interested people have effectively corroded and in some cases destroyed the principles that have underpinned Australia's quality of government and public service.
The peoples' democracy has become the personal fiefdom of a few who have openly shacklerd Australia's legal system to their will and objectives through legislation. The executive of Australia's governments have effectively undermined and corrupted the separation of powers. They are ably assisted by political advisers and sycophantic public servants. The political adviser is a cancer in Australian democracy. Unelected they cajole, threaten and interfere with the administration of the parliament and the public service. They are not worthy of respect and lack both ethical and moral capacity for office making them splendidly skiled for serving the modern Minister of the Crown in our parliaments.
The High Court of Australia is in danger of being a pawn of the executive unless it is vigilant. The Australian Constitution is silent on the role of a Prime Minister yet Robert Hawke, Paul Keating and John Howard have all added to the erosion of the quality of our government. Hawke began by removing tenure for public servants and the introduction of contracts, they have their jobs at the whim of the Minister. The whim of ignorance and petulance in many cases.
We once had a great "public service" until it was converted to "government service" and then to "political service for a few". The Australian Public Service Board of Commissioners was abolished and the power to manage the Australian public service was placed in the hands of the chosen person of the political elite. This is a criminal act against the interests of good government dfor it effectively ensures that the public service is cowed to the will of the politician. The Prime Minister John Howard presidentially reminds us that governments make decisions. That is indeed true. Sadly in the case of the Howard government many, if not all, disregard due process and are made on whim and stupidity.
Take for example the Prime Minister's whimsical decision regarding purchase of the Joint Strike Fighter, a plane that happens to be manufactured in Texas, the President's (USA) home state, a decision made just after visiting George Bush, whilst analysis was stil being undertaken. The Prime Minister did not wait for the analysis he simply made the call.
" The Federal Government says it remains committed to spending $16 billion on new fighter jets, despite revelations that the planes have serious design flaws. The Government is planning to buy 100 Joint Strike Fighters to replace the fleet of F-111s and F/A-18s." (Source: ABC News On Line, Australia, Saturday, June 24, 2006.)
Then when the Prime Minister realised his error he approved a power to the Minister for Defence for an interim purchase. So Brendan Nelson decided to purchase a Super Hornet. A study of Australia's defence strategy and published documents demonstrate that no such interim purchase is needed. Ego, and self belief, is all too often supreme.
" THE American head of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter project warns Australia's new Super Hornet jets will be vulnerable to enemy attack within 10 years. Tom Burbage, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin's JSF program, says he was surprised by the Government's decision to buy 24 of the Hornets. The Australian Government announced last month that it would spend $6 billion to buy the advanced Boeing Super Hornet fighter-bombers as a stopgap so the RAAF can maintain regional air superiority until the JSF is ready for operations." (Source: Australian Newspaper, Nick Butterly, March 22, 2007)".
The Australian Public Service has strained relations with Ministers and with government policy. Too much of the policy is poorly researched and rushed out. " The Australia Defence Association (ADA) think tank says the only way to solve problems in the Defence Department is to appoint more ministers to the portfolio. The association's comments came after a Government report highlighted serious concerns about the relationship between Defence Minister Brendan Nelson and the department."
A Government report has found serious problems in the relationship between the Defence Minister and his department. It has found there is confusion about the Minister's role and says a lack of quality advice to the Minister is causing problems. (Source: ABC News on Line, Australia, Friday, April 6, 2007.)
"The Secretary of the Treasury, Dr Ken Henry, has criticised the Federal Government's policy-making process in the run-up to the election, and has revealed that the Treasury Department was not consulted about one of the biggest policy announcements of recent years, the Prime Minister's $10 billion water plan." (Source: ABC Australia, The World Today, Wednesday, 4 April , 2007, Reporter: Hayden Cooper.)
Policy pops out of the mouths of Australia's elected leaders with little regard for deep reserach and analysis, if there is any at all, and without consideration of the effects beyond the imediate election cycle. Policy decisions have clear, and traceable, links to patronage, corruption, croneyism and nepotism. The checks and balances are eroded, ignored and even removed. As we approach the federal election having just seen how a corrupt and moribund government (NSW) can be relected there appears little hope that Kevin Rudd and the revitalised federal labor party will do anything to restore due process and the independence of the public service. The current arrangements, corrosion and corruption, suit the political incumbents very nicely.
There is a lot I do not like about the governments of Australia, at state, territory and federal levels. Largely it is the manner in which they go about things. Take for example the spin that the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, put on justifying their poor judgement in continually supporting an illegal activity. They have claimed for years that the military commissions in the USA holding Australian citizen David Hicks in Gauntanano Bay were both appropriate and legal. On June 30, 20076 they have been shown to be inept and dangerous in office, for the US Supreme Court has ruled that the US President George Bush has exceeded his power. The court ruled that the military commissions break both US and international law. The Australian government has on numerous occasions held its views and opinions to be above international law. John Howard is a lawyer. The Attorney General, Philip Ruddock, the highest law officer in Australia has been similarly exposed. His legal assessment and judgement is now in question.
Australia's politicians seem unable to behave with civility, and respect, for individuals, for citizens, for the high office they are given. They do not show respect for the institutions, nor for each other and those who are not of the same beliefs or persuasions. The churlish, and often childlike antics and ignorance, are irksome. I seem to be angry every day about my governments, too often overlooking, or dismissing, the good that they do, focusing on the negative. Rather than communicate and educate the public in dealing with them they, and the senior public servants, often behave wit arrogant indifference or dismissal. The lack of ethics and disengagement has permeated the public service to the highest levels. It is as if they inhabit some different world where they are accountable only to a small group, not for performance in the normal sense but for adhering to asset of rules that we the general public are not party to.
The autocratic, often pompous and dismissive arrogance with which they approach every major issue. Unable to articulate complex issues to a bored and semi-literate public they instead denigrate their critics To achieve their goals Australia's leaders and senior politicians, ministers and the parliamentary party members lie and manipulate their way. Persuasion is not a tool they embrace preferring to legislate to make people do their will. Australian citizens have no avenue for debate or appeal, no system of guaranteed referenda to challenge the executive's will. The governments of the nation at federal state, territory and local government levels, no longer deliver value for money to the people they are supposed to serve. Public interest has been superceded by political interest, public service by political service. The good they do is lost or sullied by acts of malfeasance and corruption. The executive and the parliamentary members appear to want to limit people participation, holding onto power at all cost. The quality of public administration is declining in line with the ability of the politicians who serve as Ministers of governments and the loss of talent, history and experience, from the public service. This service is now the "political service". Their function is to cover for inept, corrupt and incompetent Ministers.
A significant example of this is the labor state government of Victoria lead by Premier Steve Bracks. Mr. Bracks appears to have lost his moral compass. He openly supports corrupt politicians who manipulate their electorates to ensure their maintenance of power. Mr. Bracks describes Mr. Seitx, exposed for such corruption as a "good local members" and actively works to keep Seitz in parliament. This is beacuse Bracks rates his own self interest (Setz supports him to retain the leadership) before the welfare of the state's democracy and governance. The media has exposed Seitz and others for their actions and Bracks has simply dismissed these serious allegations and the policy failures.
The two major political parties (labor and liberal) appear to have jettisoned their values for the more pragmatic adoption of winning at all costs even if it risks the soul of the nation's governments. Labor's last hay day was under Bob Hawke, the concensus Prime Minister and leader of the people. They liberals laud the economic management credentials of Peter Costello and prefer that no one mention the abysmal economic credentials of John Howard when he was Treasurer. That is the extent of the two parties' capacity for memory. Today these two parties have no philosophy. They borrow what they need from moment to moment. The most blatant in abandoning its roots is the Australian Liberal Party. They exist day by day on the hope that John Howard will be immortal and nothing else. They have lost their philosophical tradition. The party that has long supported private enterprise expediently jettisons this ideology and the Prime Minister with cavalier irresponsibility blocks the privatisation of the Snowy River Scheme (June 2006) he supported only a few days earlier, because he discerns that powerful interests threaten the finely balanced control John Howard has in the parliament. He controls both houses.
John Howard has been compared by some to Robert Menzies. This comparison could be further from truth. Robert Menzies created the philosophy of the party. A philosophy that is suspicious of government power. He knew as did his party members, that absolute power corrupts. They knew that governments are not all knowing, yet listen to John Howard and any of his Ministers and they lace their speeches and responses with infallibility - "the reality is" is a favourite of the Minister for Workplace Relations, Kevin Andrews. The Minister for Foerign Affairs, Alexander Downer parrots this phrase. They, and their colleagues too often, like to respond with "that is wrong" as if their word is final and not to be challenged. Robert Menzies and his party had respect for the institutions of the nation. John Howard and Ministers and others openly deride and ridicule the judges on the benches of Australia's courts. Succesive Attorney Generals, appointed by John Howard, have failed to unite and support their judges preferring to try and make them conform. It is not enough to use the method of picking the suitable judge, the Australian government blurs the boundary between executive, legislature and judiciary. John Howard talks of the rule of law whilst undermining its foundations. Hypocrisy and double speak runs rife in politics.
There was a reticent in former liberal governments to do whatever was necessary to stay in power. John Howard and the modern day liberals have no such qualms. Peter Reith, former Minister for Defence, left parliament under a cloud, exposed in the "children overboard affair". The government had doctored pictures to support their claims that asylum seekers coming on boats were throwing their children into the water to get Australian naval vessels to pick them up. It was a lie after lie, day after day, deliberate to ensure electoral victory. There are many instances during John Howard's ten years in office of lies, misrepresentation and corruption of legitimacy.
Sir Robert Menzies accepted that there were alternative points of view. He did not pay lip service and respected his enemies. John Howard, and his band of followers, by comparison, are liberals in name only, without substance and philosophy. The Prime Minister has replaced the tradition and philosophical belief with pragmatism and personal hubris. The liberals have literally turned Howard into a political deity. The saviour who wins elections. The more sophisticated and true liberals are silenced. Every now we see them emerge in the shape of Petro Georgiou, member for Kooyong, Victoria. Georgiou uses liberal philosophy to frame his politics.
Whilst the state's are corrupted by mediocrity and greed, the Howard government is afflicted with hubris and a vacuum of philosophy, ever worsening memories, openly disdainful disrespect and poor administrative capacity and abilities The evidence for me, is overwhelming. The government of John Howard has by design and inadvertently, denigrated, and corroded, Australia's democracy and the nation. They know no better. Their style of government is one of opportunism, using fear and insecurity as primary tools. Dealings with Australia's government, their advisers and government servants, is one sided. They surrounded themselves with people who have created a construct designed to protect their political, and personal interests whilst actively avoiding responsibility and accountability. I have formed this view after ten years of constant interaction with Australia's governments and public servants across Australia. Over the ten years of his office as Prime Minister, John Howard has shaped Australia as a society that has as its primary goal to be rich and comfortable. "Middle Australia" is a political construct. Kim Beazley in his myopic leadership of the Australian Labor Party babbles about doing it for "middle Australia".
In June 2006 the media reported that Australia's unemployment level was below 5%. This is a load of crock. The figures for unemployment are a political creation using a formula designed to mislead and create false impressions. Researchers know it is closer to 10%. In June 2006 there are one point seven five million people on welfare payments. The welfare recipients are rising, yet the government claims unemployment is falling? In 1985 there were one point six nine million on the welfare list. Anyone not looking for work is not counted in the statistics of the unemployed. Anyone who works an hour a week is not counted. Thus under employed are ignored. In the job creation claimed by the Australian government the bulk of jobs have gone to better educated professionals and not to basically skilled. The liberal government's Job Network is an under performer by comparison to the the Working Nation programme under Bob Hawke and Paul Keating when labor was in government. This is another fact distorted until it is lost in the myth of government spin. This is not conjecture for there is a body of evidence to support the proposition that under John Howard's government and the hand of Tony Abbott and Kevin Andews human assets are devalued.
People at the bottom of the employment ladder have had their opportunity to get a job cut by seventeen thousand jobs (source the Weekend Australian, June 10 - 11, 2006: George Megalogenis) and there s a distinct unwillingness on the part of government to invest in the less well off. In the words of John Howard echoed by Minister Kevin Andrews, it is better to have a job, any job, at any pay rate under any conditions. In the 2006 budget the majority of cash redistributed to the nation went to "middle Australia". The reason is that here are the votes. In the nation, who wins government, is decided literally by a few thousand votes in a few marginal seats. Thus for some people in safe seats there is no reason to vote, however the liberal and labor parties both know that if voting was not compulsory they would be in a "crap shoot". Under the former labor and liberal governments, before John Howard, the greater percentage of funds in welfare went to pensioners. Now the greater share goes to well off families with the greater number of kids. Single, divorced and alone, the disabled and the poor simply miss out. Their votes are worthless to the parties so they get less. Pensioners are going backwards along with the poor in a nation rolling in wealth under a government crowing about its economic prowess. Politicians have thick skins. They need it for if they did not and they looked into peoples' eyes they would be shamed.
The government has made much of its industrial reforms claiming that its legislation would deliver productivity and opportunity. They distorted and manufactured their own version of truth and reality. The OECD released a study in June 2006 that shows that Mr. Howard, Mr. Andrews and the claims of senior executives in the various business associations across Australia are unsubstantiated. There is no substantive proof, or evidence, that much of what is used to justify the Howard government's Work Choices legislation is true. The sad thing is that in the face of this these people still persist with their claims. They occupy the most senior political and corporate positions in the nation and they have no moral cringe at misrepresentation or failing to research their topic before they offer their statements up as inviolate laws of nature. These people demonstrate that on balance they should not hold positions of trust or representation.
If John Howard is truly an icon of political contribution to Australia's democracy then we obviously have little substance in our political class, or the measurements by which we judge these things are ones that have little to do with public interest, integrity and honesty. The practice of the Prime Minister is to be technically truthful or to avoid being told. He is all too often absent from the role of ultimate responsibility. This is not a quality of leadership to be admired. John Howard, has created and nurtured, a mindless, even moronic, jingoism with nationalist overtones. We have become in his image, a narrow minded, mean and tricky lot. One might ultimately tire of the singular piece of cant that comes from John Howard, "look what I have done with the economy?" Is this the justification for everything including torture, destroying peoples' lives in the name of protecting Australia, lying and covering up as the case in children overboard, Iraq, the Australian Wheat Board scandal, etc. etc?
We see the ultimate arrogance of politics on display through the managed processes of parliament and accountability. John Howard's venal Ministers too often see no reason to answer questions, provide information or even participate in democracy. They demonstrate their incompetence in testimony before the Cole Royal Commission. A Royal Commission operating under a carefully crafted terms of reference. The smarmy, and puerile, behaviour and "garbage in, garbage, out" rhetoric of Foreign Minister Alexander Downer demeans the government and our senior political class. He offers condescending justifications, fobbing off his failure to carry out his legal responsibilities and to administer his portfolio with diligence and care. Downer and his senior departmental officers have been derelict in their duties, over successive years, whilst taking their public pay packets. They, like Minister Ruddock and the Immigration Department, are the face of the decline in ethical behaviour.
across Australia's federal government and public service. These are the role models that many corporations emulate.
The employment of spin doctors, media managers and public relations companies to manipulate Australia's democracy has resulted in a failure of the principles of accountability and it has corrupted the system. People have a right to know and debate what informs the decisions of governments and why they make decisions. However the decrepit situations we see today, in the way our governments and corporations behave is a result of the quality of the individuals who are in positions of power and influence and the people they employ. These corruptors of our democracy are ably assisted by elements of the commercial media and infotainment commentators passing as journalists. They like the politicians, senior political advisers, senior public servants denigrate and corrode the nation. They treat the public like fools. There is growing anger and disenchantment as well as bigotry and intolerance. We are abusing each other on a daily basis.
The governments of Australia are presenting their political interests and objectives, shrouded in economic policy jargon, as if they are synonymous, with public and national interests.
The governments of Australia are presenting their political interests and objectives, shrouded in economic policy jargon, as if they are synonymous, with public and national interests.
United States, Canada and Australia
Australian public opinion polls, in February 2006, show that John Howard is held in low regard, by the Australian people, in every category of what a political leader should be. There is one exception, economic management. The sad situation, for the nation, is that a majority of Australians regard wealth, and economy, as the sole bench mark. I think John Howard is proud that "economic management" is his badge. I entertain a broader view of what a leader should be. In June 2006 Howard and a group of Ministers decided to use their Constitutional power to overturn the Australian Capital Territory's proposed recognition of civil unions between gay couples. Our parliaments are full of wowser politicians who create a fiction of what society is like. One liberal Senator, Gary Humphries, acted with integrity and crossed the floor to vote against his party. He showed a conscience and rare disposition to oppose the mediocrity in which many in our society are wrapped.
According to these people the community does not want gays to marry or be recognised in law for their relationship. They see them as some form of deviation whilst accepting the word and behaviour of men who walk around in frocks, claiming women are lesser beings in God's church and wearing rings to be kissed. This is normal, gays are not? The proposition that Mr, Howard even understands the concept of "government for all" seems remote.
I am not surprised that John Howard, described as bland and average by all Australian media and political commentators, would embrace narrow conservative bigotry. He rides on the backs of others to the pinnacle. Astute politically? I don't think so. He simply persists and often takes a punt relying upon the tools of manipulating peoples' emotions and psyche. He offers no vision and does not ask us to challenge our notions and attitudes. He reinforces those that suit his purpose.
He is lucky and in being all that he is, which is limited, he appeals to the majority. Is he a user? Yes, I think so. A user of his colleagues' talents, and of the nations' abilities and efforts. Mr. Howard and senior liberals exploit greed, racism, bigotry, fear and insecurity. Mr. Howard taps them all. The economy is good because others made it so. If the Australian media was doing its job it would be more discerning of this proposition.It would accurately report the truth. However it cannot, because John Howard and his hired help have an iron fist on access, information and patronage. The Australian federal parliamentary press gallery are not going to risk their privileges by confronting John Howard or for that matter any other powerful politician unless they have iron clad evidence of scandal or impropriety. Challenging on policy would require investigative and reflective skills they may not possess. For that matter, any other powerful politician, and government leader, in the Australian political duopoly.
The political spin doctors, and their political masters, own Australia's parliament ray press galleries They manage them like sheep, on a daily basis, into the crutching pens. Access is the privilege and it is also the currency of daily media, across the nation..
Let me put it to you that John Howard is not the maestro of the Australian economy. The Treasurer, Peter Costello and Finance Minister, Nick Minchin, and other competent liberal members like them, are. The cabinet cabal of many others are as lack lustre and mediocre as John Howard but there is a system of "smoke and mirrors" and managed politics in Australia. The Australian political system, and media myopia (read inadequacy of investigative journalism, similar to the United States) is such that the leader of the party is credited with all success. This must be galling to the good performers. This is not dissimilar to the Australian Labor Party. The Opposition Leader, Kim Beazley, is credited with success, emanating out of his support troops, whilst he himself is appearing to be not up to the task. The Australian Wheat Board scandal, is yet, among many, a living example of the corrosive effect of John Howard's's legacy to the nation reflected in the Australian opinion polls. "Australia is a meaner place" under John Howard"
John Howard's legacy as Prime Minister with the avid and unquestioning support of by Philip Ruddock and Alexander Downer, is putrid. It has developed a festering ignorance in Australia's gut.
The Prime Minister once argued that we should reduce Asian immigration. It was in the mid eighties. He embraced a different theory of economics, social management and nation shaping every second week. Margaret Thatcher in the United Kingdom, Rogernomics in New Zealand and Reaganism fed his intellect. Today he warmly embraces the theories of George Bush. It is interesting that Howard should find a relationship with politicians of such radical views given his conservatism, and reticence, to antagonise public opinion that affects his standing in office.
When Howard came to office, as Prime Minister, he surrounded himself with zealots of one form or another. Politicians who took their election as a mandate to inflict upon Australian society there warped and harsh perspectives of life. Many of them were lacking in ethical principles and in his first days of government he lost many a senior politician to these instincts. However ethics is the currency of electoral success. economic management and spin is.
As Howard, and his ministers, shaped the nation's psyche, the Prime Minister opened a door to an inner darkness. Howard's proposition that it was okay to speak one's mind spawned Pauline Hanson and One Nation. The liberal nature of the liberal party had changed. Ever the wily, and manipulative, politician he wooed these right wing, narrow minded bigots. Prime Minister Howard says that political correctness is not acceptable and we should speak our mind and let the bile run out. The hypocrisy of John Howard, and his government members, is that they do not like biting criticism and bile launched their way, they are vindictive and mean. Howard's laws on sedition, rushed through parliament in December 2005, are broad and draconian enough to frighten critics, media and political opponents.
Mr. Howard, in pursuit of economic rationalism and ideology, has attacked the weaker members of Australian society, the disabled, single parents, the mentally ill. They must work for their living and support. Much of Howard's legislation has no public policy value. It is legislation created out of ideology and a desire to crush opponents and dissent. It is legislation to direct and discipline. Meanwhile behind the scenes media and communications machines work to lie, manipulate and hide the truth of maladministration and failures. Failures that cost billions of dollars, engender suffering, torture and cause madness and human suffering.
The most shocking demonising of the nation is in the area of immigration. Prime Minister Howard appointed Philip Ruddock as Minister for Immigration, Multicultural and Aboriginal Affairs. This man has added very little of worth, if anything, to government and the quality of public office in Australia. It is more a clinical and surgical approach to governance than a human one. Mr. Ruddock seems to lack the ability to empathise or feel the results of his cold blooded logic and hard heartedness. In many ways his is a vile demonstration of politics and power. It is Ruddock who has sickened many liberal party members to their core and caused them to challenge Howard's authority. Mr. Ruddock presides over a policy and a department that locks up children behind barb wire. He interns people on remote islands and in deserts. He deports the infirm, and the mentally ill, to their home country even though they may have lived here for the greater part of their lives. He judges people on character traits and makes decisions about their motivations and their future. Not one here, or there, but hundreds and thousands of them. Mr. Ruddock displays some vile character traits of a politician and it is unfortunate, for those who care about our government and the nation, that he ever came to such powerful public office. When he has left public office Australia will be better for it.
Prime Minister John Howard and Minister Philip Ruddock are at the forefront taking Australia down a road that a socially advanced democracy would never tread.
On the weekend of December 10 and 11th, 2005, a group numbering about 1,000 people gathered at Cronulla beach in Sydney's south. They had carved "100% Aussie pride" into the sand and were singing Waltzing Matilda. They had used modern text technology to call disaffected youth to confront the "lebs and wogs" who came from their suburbs to cause trouble. The mob mentality is bred in people who lives are vacuous and whose contribution to society is negligible. They gain status, and a goal in life, a feeling of belonging. They think that this behaviour shows that they are committed and patriotic. To call them idiots is to insult the handicapped. They cannot fill their days with anything but festering ignorance and dumb pursuits. Their horizons are the next day, the next rave and for many the next drink. Fighting is their badge of honour. They are crusaders and knights, in their video game powered brains. By all means let's look at the pictures and the surveillance and let's identify and arrest and charge them. That is the most prominent solution of the guardians of justice, law and order. Jailing people scares others doesn't it? Crime is diminished isn't it? Make them a hero for that is another badge of status. They can engage in meetings and agree a suspension of rioting and thuggery. They are made important people by such processes and their approach of violent behavior and bigotry is reinforced. Shoot them on sight and they are not so keen to be at the forefront of anti-social behaviour anymore. That is why in China and Burma one does not see too many riots. Perhaps we could adopt some of the practices of authoritarian regimes to complement John Howard's human relations policies.
Helicopters flew overhead; police in riot garb patrolled the streets. The liquor flowed freely and then the riot and affray began. The Premier spoke tough about law and order, the Police Commissioner was ashamed of what these Australians had done. It was described as un-Australian. A nebulous word which has little meaning once politicians, like the Prime Minister and other leaders sprout it.
The Prime Minister said that he did not accept that what was happening was about racism. Of course he would not because then we might start to investigate the relationship between Howard's small minded policies and social friction and fracturing. He might find that small minded people vote for him and that there may be distasteful group amongst them. People like Pauline Hanson's "One Nation", people who think Howard was right in 1988 when he said we should curb Asian immigration. Thinking people with ethical and moral values in Australian society on balance probably do not vote for the likes of John Howard. His voters are those consumed by greed or imprisoned by debt. They are the narrow minded bigots and those frightened by their own shadows. They have probably never visited "the middle east or the lands of the cultures they fear and denigrate".
There are some home truths that Australia's governments, politicians, corporate leaders, institutions and the community at large need to confront and think about.
And so it came to pass that a child was born unto Mary and Joseph, in a manger, and he was of "middle eastern appearance".
The liberal leader of the NSW State Opposition said that the violence was all because the labor party, actually Iemma, had not appointed enough police. This is the maturity and extent of his capability to propose real solutions. The calibre of politicians, and leaders, who would claim to have the ability to manage, and lead, the nation is quite limited. Depth and the ability to galvanise are not their strengths. It is difficult to quantify what strengths they have that serve the national interests other than textbook economics. None of the decision makers, the experts, the media and the law and order zealots, will reach the sensibilities of the young and the bigoted. That will be left for someone else beyond the horizon of the limited vision, and awareness of the power collective. Perhaps it will be the teachers, the mothers and the religious leaders?
The government and authoritarian response will be to meet violence and force with law and order legal violence and force. The NSW state labor and liberal parties, acting in bipartisan cooperation, will talk tough and legislate new powers to the police. These will erode civil rights but will be justified on the grounds that the greater number of citizens want the louts and the thugs off the streets. Impound their transport, their mobile phones, search them for weapons and stuff without warrant. So be it. The cost will be economic. The police will deter tourists and others from entering these precincts. Business will suffer, perhaps catastrophically while the politicians pursue their "looking good and acting tough" theatrics. The labor leader, Morris Iemma, and liberal leader, Peter Debnam, are not up to the task of complex social problem solving and lateral thinking. They lack depth of foundation, experience and substance to deal with people in a different socio-economic spectrum to them. The federal Minister, Fran Bailey, has a greater depth of real achievement but is shackled by the need to follow the government line. She must say that such events will have little, if any, any impact on tourism as if Australia is not connected to an electronic world.
John Howard will adroitly avoid saying anything of substance, or reality, that is likely to scare the chooks. The media will say he is a consumate communicator. John will reassure and say that it is really all right. Howard will tell us that we are all basically good hearted. "Yes sure Prime Minister and pigs fly in your world."
In John Howard's world, everyone should be alert but not alarmed. Everyone should be comfortable in the knowledge that Australia really after all is an accepting nation. According to the changing history record we accept immigrants and we certainly do not accuse them of throwing their children into the sea. We do not now have a government that doctors the pictures to make it look like immigrants throw their children into the sea. We are told that we are accepting of people of middle eastern appearance and people coming on boats. We had nothing to do with the drowning of hundreds on coming to Australia on the Siev X. There really were weapons of mass destruction though they will never be found. According to the government we are not a nation that deports its own citizens, that abandons its citizens to other government's whims and allows them to be locked up and tortured. Ask a government member and they will say we are not a nation that interns women and children, in razor wired prisons, under the gaze of mercenary guards who mentally torture them. We are not a nation that elects roaches into parliament to govern, corrode and corrupt.
There will be questions asked overseas and the answers will be political bull dust. There is not a credible politician in Australia's two major parties who has an answer, and leadership calibre, for this unexpected turn out. Given that the political leaders are ineffectual why do the citizens on mass not meet these thugs, with the support of police and in concert with their politicians, confront them? If governments can be vigilante in their policy and actions why should the citizens not emulate their leaders?
Another option might be to humiliate the fools who would engage in violence and thuggery, individually and collectively. To hold up their ignorance and stupidity to ridicule, to have the nation laugh at them. Make advertisements from the footage of the riots and their thuggery and then make fun of them, on and on and on, relentlessly and unmercifully. Then make fun of their parents and their friends. Declare them the unintelligent detritus of society that they are but use smaller single syllable words.
Australia is in the grip of immoral government. The liberal party of today (2006) is no longer the "liberal party" as we once knew it. The labor party is no longer the "labor party" that we once knew. Today these parties are the province of self interested career politicians who occupy office without accountability or responsibility. They are kept there by factional political machines and the public cannot vote labor, and liberal out of office. It is a two party preferential voting system.
Australia's governments are just a merry go round. The same faces and the same tired ideas and ideologies. It is passÃ©, and boring, but unfortunately it has become dangerous too. Add to this another layer, the sycophants, the senior managers in the public services who delude themselves that a politician, by being elected and then made a Minister, represents all of the Australian public and are somehow serving the public by proxy. The public service see its role as "looking after their Minister/s". It is absolute garbage that the Prime Minister and Ministers represent all Australians just as it is garbage that any Premier, or Chief Minister and Ministers, represents all the voters in a state or territory..
Then there are quite a number of corporate and high profile characters who abuse their office and positions. The power collective is robbing the nation blind and laughing all the way to the bank. Even though some go by way of jail and the courts.
The parliaments of Australia do not function with the interests of the people, and the nation, as the foremost concern. Public policy has been replaced with political interest policy. Australia's laws, regulatory frameworks, checks and balances and ethical codes of practice are flouted, and jettisoned, by decision makers in political and corporate life. Authoritarianism is the trend in government and the broader Australian community through human resources employment, management and practice.
A disease is rampant throughout Australia. The disease is expediency, achieving the objective regardless of the mechanics used. This expediency includes misrepresentation and the practice of lying. The voters of Australia accept that politicians lie. This is not a crime against democracy. Take for example the debate on Workplace Relations. The Minister has stated on numerous occasions along with the Prime Minister, and every other parrot who has an interest, that the employer and employee should be able to negotiate their employment conditions above a small number of minimum legislated conditions. However it is illegal, and subject to penalty, for an employer and employee to negotiate the inclusion of a process for hearing and dealing with claims of unfair dismissal. Is this allowing employer and employer to negotiate. No. There are many more sections of the act which dictate what can be negotiated. They simply lied, in the lead up, to presenting the legislation.
This lack of ethical behaviour in pursuit of objective, is displayed everyday by people, in every walk of life, who misuse, and abuse, positions of trust. It is exhibited through the inconsistency of treatment of people. The Australian Security and Investments Commission (ASIC), and the Director of Public Prosecutions, brought civil prosecuted Steve Vizard for using his positions of trust for personal gain under civil proceedings. His ventures amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars whilst he was a member of the Board of Telstra Australia. On the other hand ASIC and the DPP, pursued a jewish gentleman, via criminal proceedings and he was jailed and ultimately committed suicide. His crime buying a few Qantas shares for a mere handful of dollars ($1,200) based on a rumour he had heard from someone who had an association with Qantas. He had not misused any position of trust. Thus we have "classes of citizens".
The Premier of Victoria, Steve Bracks, was effusive about Steve Vizard's plight, when he pleaded guilty to insider share trading, when he was a member of the board of Australia's largest company, Telstra. The Premier of Victoria hoped that it would be a mere blip on the radar and opined that Steve Vizard might return to board positions on behalf of the Victorian government. Steve Bracks is a modern Labor politician, sometimes seemingly short on ethics or perhaps a questionable perception of ethics, public interest and morality. When reaction to his ignorance was strong he recanted.
In Queensland the labor government of Peter Beattie places documents such as records of the health and hospital performance onto trolleys and pushes them through the cabinet room simulating cabinet deliberations to make them exempt from, and integrity, of his government. There is no ministerial accountability, and responsibility, and the Premier allows incompetent people to retain their positions within his government. Piety, and justification in politics, is nauseating.
Australia is in the grip of a serious decline in
standards, administration, morality and performance by its governments and public services. There is disengagement, and lack of regard, by citizens, and enterprise, for active participation in democracy and endeavour
The power structures of government, corporate and community are very well defined and embedded in Australia. Looking at the systems of government, policy and action in governments are the province of a select few of the political oligopoly (labor and liberal) with an archaic electoral system maintained to effect control for that group. The members of the governments' executives simply rotate between these two parties. It is a career, not a representative, model of government. Power and control amongst dwindling party members is handled by officials who decide who will stand for election within the two parties. After serving their time they will be rewarded with a safe political seat. The minor parties and independents play at the edges. The two main parties are almost indistinguishable in terms of economic and social policy. Parliaments (federal, state and territories)are in need of reform. They have become the play thing, and domains, of a privileged few who degrade democracy, governance and their places of work and endeavour. They degrade Australia. The primary driver for quite a significant number in office (public and private), is personal interest, not public interest or good. All decisions are measured by expediency to serve the political objective and need.
The modern Australian liberal, and labor, parties have betrayed their roots and departed from the fundamental guiding principles. Former liberal Prime Minister, Malcolm Frazer, a life member of the party has considered resigning from the party of "fear". A party whose policies are based on religion and race, reactionary and lacking in leadership departing from the liberal tradition. There are, he says, substantial grounds for resignation in the party and the members should begin the hard task of turning the party around. Margo Kingston says in her diary, "He wonders whether Australians understand that the anti-terrorism laws passed in this country actually apply to them. 'If they're returning from another country, are taken in for questioning and are deemed obstructive, they have the potential of five years in jail. They don't have to be guilty of an offence. We have entered a new world where people cease to be people 'not because they are known to be something but because they are suspected to be something" Frazer says. He points out that normal reporting of such cases can also lead to imprisonment. "It's the sort of law Stalin passed, and it's an Australian law."
John Howard it is argued by critics, is the most corrosive, and divisive, Prime Minister in Australia's political history. "To Donald Horne (Looking for Leadership: Australia in the Howard Years, Penguin Viking, 2001) Howard's failure is not just that he gets the past wrong, seeing it through a pinchingly narrow set of preoccupations and experiences, but that he is unable to convey to Australians any sense of their shared future, as his notoriously empty Federation speech showed.
Horne judges leaders by their words: 'A minimum to be expected from a political leader is the ability to make a few memorable remarks that seem to sum up what the leader and the party stand for, and the kind of meaning we might find in existence.' Quite a minimum! And the only two leaders he sees as meeting it since the Second World War are Chifley and Menzies. Leaders should talk to the people, explain to them why certain things are happening, help them to understand change, sympathise with their predicament and appeal to their better natures, to their hopes and generosity not just their fears and mean mindedness, give them expansive views of themselves and their societies, and tell them the truth. In a small, not very powerful country like Australia, this may mean telling them about their government's limited ability to control the effects of the world economy, something no recent leader has been able to do." (15 October 2001, Liberals Lead by Looking Backwards, Judith Brett, La Trobe University)
Former labor minister John Button has described the labor party as "bereft of ideas". There are an abundance of poor ethical values and behaviour amongst Australia's most senior politicians and party officials. Access to members of government can be purchased through the political party headquarters.
In Queensland poor administration is fatal. Labor Premier Beattie has desperately tried to avoid political disaster as the corrosion engulfs his government. "Queensland's Primary Industries Minister, Gordon Nuttall, has stood aside while the Crime and Misconduct Commission investigates allegations he lied. (ABC Archives, 26/08/2005).
The labor Premier of Victoria, Steve Bracks (2005) was initially supportive of high profile businessman, and socialite, Steve Vizard who abused his directorial position on Australia's largest corporation, using information he obtained through board meetings for personal benefit and enrichment. He received a slap on the wrist through a civil penalty fine. Others by comparison have gone to jail. The regulatory authorities are inconsistent and pay due regard to the whisperings, in their ears, by the minders of their political masters.
Appointments to government owned enterprises invariably go to people who are friendly to the major political parties in government at the time. Appointments and consultancies, contracts and access goes to those who make large political donations. The federal Treasurer Peter Costello, and the Prime Minister John Howard, both display a lack of awareness, understanding, or just a blatant disregard for, ethical values. They are defending the appointment by cabinet, on the recommendation of the Treasurer, of a person to the Reserve Bank Board. It is not simply about whether these two politicians have any ethical values. It is a question as to the competency of the Treasurer, his staff and departmental advisers. Middle ranking public servants undergo full police and Australian Security Intelligence Agency checks. Why is this not the case for public board appointments particularly sensitive ones such as the Reserve Bank of Australia? Perhaps what is more of an eye opener is that there is no formalised, or legislated, procedure for appointments. Names are plucked out of the air and there is a chat amongst members of the government as to suitability. There may be a phone call or two to determine if there are any "political" concerns, In this case the fact that there was an extensive amount of material, over a time frame of fourteen years, as to propositions, claims and investigations, regarding tax manipulation or fraud, in the public domain and in the courts makes a mockery of the Treasurer's defence of not knowing. We can speculate why there are no formal systems. There is no curb on patronage and croneyism. However a deeper malaise is apparent. It is one of gross, and costly, incompetence. Under Australia's governments the quality of public service administration has fallen dramatically. There are far more examples in the Commonwealth arena than in the states and territories. It is an unprofessional approach to administration corrupted by politicisation which demands, and directs by threat, that the public service serve the respective government, the Minister/s and thus by default, political party, interest. The name should be changed to "government servants".
The Prime Minister, John Howard, has created a climate that fosters degradation of the public service and administration. This inefficiency of administration and decision making has dire, and costly, consequences yet accountability on the part of the Minister, the Secretary, or executive, of the public service agency is avoided. Australian Customs puts in a new computer system and along the way are warned that the software will not run properly on their existing hardware. However they have miscalculated in their costs and are too proud, or nervous, to tell the Minister? The Minister is not competent in the portfolio anyway and this creates a dilemma. As a result Australia's ports come to a standstill. Cargo, in and out, in the busty pre-Christmas trading period sits on boats and in containers. The Minister is not going to pay the bill. A large amount of time in the communications section of Customs, is devoted to working out a plausible story to protect everyone's backside. Meanwhile enterprise can suck the incompetence or in political parlance "kiss my arse" for I am the "Minister".
The Australian government's digital information technology policy blows out by billions and fails, outsourcing does not deliver the stated benefits, the National electricity Market does not materialise as the federal government exopected and claimed it would. The Australian Immigration Department is found to have broken so many laws it is laughable and dangerous to not onlt refugees but to Australians and legal immigrants. Government R&D policy for light metals magnesium development fails costing billions. They have miscalculated the value of Telstra, by billions, and the public has been conned to buy shares on the "fortune telling" of the now departed Minister for Telecommunications, Richard Alston. The digital broadcasting plan developed by then federal Minister Richard Alston has to be withdrwan, along with the media ownership and other failures of his administration. On and on it goes.
The Australian Taxation, Crime Commission and federal police are investigating (2005) a $300,000,000 taxation fraud, money laundering and other potential criminal activities by high profile Australians.
The board members, and senior managers, of James Hardie Corporation, in misrepresentation, lies and contempt of the NSW Supreme Court, to avoid their legal obligations and accountability for making products that kill people. Sweeping law changes, including the appointment of a special James Hardie prosecutor, were being urged in the wake of recommendations that a commission of inquiry find the company lied to courts, the government, the stock exchange and asbestos diseases sufferers. The recommendations on findings were tabled in the NSW parliament by Jackson Inquiry counsel assisting, John Sheahan, SC.
He says in the report that the evidence supports adverse findings against company lawyer, Peter Shafron, managing director, Peter Macdonald, chairman, Alan McGregor, and chief financial officer, Phillip Morley. Sheahan submits the commission could find Macdonald may be liable to prosecution for misleading the stock exchange.
The sensational submissions came as it was revealed the trust set up by Australia's largest asbestos producer was likely to fall more than $2 billion short of meeting entitlements of sufferers of asbestos-related lung diseases.
Hardie had told the court and the state government it would leave sufficient funds in Australia to meet forseeable claims. Months later after moving its headquarters to the Netherlands, it cancelled the relevant arrangement.
The corruption in Australian industry is wider than most would believe or expect. The Chief Executive, and others, within Australia's largest packaging company resigned when it was exposed that they were engaged in price fixing.
Reginald David Mowat, 34, was working for Radio Ballarat where he continually lost his temper with workmates, Ballarat Magistrates' Court was told. Mr Mowat, of Ballarat, pleaded guilty to one charge of failing to care for the health and safety of others in the workplace and wilfully placing at risk other people in the workplace. The news comes as WorkCover NSW has called for a bigger fine to be imposed on directors of a company prosecuted over a bullying incident earlier this year. The NSW Chief Industrial Magistrate handed down a $1,000 fine to directors of a Lidcombe joinery firm after an asthmatic 16-year-old labourer had his mouth filled alternately with sawdust and glue and was left on a trolley resting near a four metre drop for half an hour, WorkCover has now appealed to the Industrial Relations Commission of NSW, saying that the penalty imposed on the directors is too lenient.
Of Australia's 200 biggest companies, directors in 123 are reportedly breaking the law. Who are they and what is Australia's Treasurer, Peter Costello and the Australian Securities Commission doing about this scandal?
Many of the decision makers in Australia's governments, industry, associations and institutions appear to have lost their moral compass. The fact that they can govern, and behave in this fashion is an indictment of maturity. It is a window into the value that Australian's harbour, or tolerate, for their democracy, quality of government and society. Wealth, economy and interest rates are the determinants of primary values. Decision makers and governments are secretive, untrustworthy, unaccountable and arrogant. The damage they are doing to Australia is deep and extensive. The behaviour of governments, particularly the federal government, and their supporters, is divisive and ignorant.
They use media and public relations firms to lie and shape image and opinion, government policy and action. So the strategy to counter these "spin merchants" was developed. It is based on the use of human and machine networs. Using the same tools of technology, amd methodologies, as they do. However the stratgey, incorporating the technology of the Mosaic Portal is focused on achieving and impact, and influence. on the individual, the group and the collective within the differing communities of unethical practitioners, on a scale unprecedented in Australia.
Politicians are not going to go out on a limb and go after the people who abuse the syste. When they leave politics they want to work for these major companies. They look to their future and to political party coffers. They need corporate donations to win and mantain government. Board members of Australia's government owned corporations are appointed by politicians and there is evidence of croneyism and patronage. There are few fresh ideas in government and industry, with strategy focused on short term profit and shallow objectives designed to appease interests and majority shareholders.
The major of shareholders in big companies are institutional investors. They have little regard for the minority shareholders or the long term interests of the company. They are driven by short term profit incentives and by the personal buzz, and prestige, of mixing with the elite. These investment managers obtain their social status, and lifestyle, through other peoples' money.
At its worst it is a political, and corporate club, intertwined in an incestuous relationship. Carefully orchestrated activities, spin and media control and other strategies are brought to bear with the sole focus of maintaining this power collective in the hands of the club members.
The rule of Australia by a minority has resulted in a gross waste of opportunity and talent. A failure to harness and use all of Australia's human potential. Regardless of the losses of billions of dollars of taxpayers and shareholder funds, destruction of communities and individuals' lives. there is little, or no, accountability for the decisions these people make. Even when prosecution does occur they somehow retain social status and wealth.
Australia's governments and corporations have enjoyed record profits. Then how is it that our roads, ports and railways are in such a state? Why do we have insufficient water reserves and potable systems, why are our schools and hospitals underfunded? How is that people die on our roads, in hospitals and on trains? If the Australian government has a $14 billion surplus why is the fisrt thought, option and strategy, tax cuts? Why do all of our governments, and most corporations, not invest in assets and long term scenarios? Why do they trot out the same ideological crap and theories refusing to accept they were wrong and to acknowledge their mistakes?
Despite the pervasive atmosphere of corrosion foisted upon society by self interest and ever growing corruption of practice (the ends justify the means) and the inexperience and lack of education, not everyone within these systems, described above, are themselves corrosive and corrupting influences. There are more who make a contribution than those who rip the system off or degrade it through myopia, lack of talent and ethical values. Among them are the people who make the objectives, outlined below, possible. They provide the genius of technology, the software, hardware, content, support in resoures both financial and in kind that make this web site possible. They provide the infrastructure, the access and the publicity to promote the creators of web sites. They assist them to survive and grow. They are behind the scenes, in corporations, politics and society in general. There are many more good people who want to create a better and more equal society. Together these people, collectively, will eventually overcome the dross that has captured a significant part of Australia's corporations, institutions and governments.
Technology provides a tool to influence. Time, research and human motivations are important and must be blended. The design of the Mosaic Portal is multifaceted but its primary objective is "two way communication" to both a targeted and a mass base, in Australia and anywhere where the Internet can reach. It is a daunting task for those who would seek to challenge the values, beliefs and behaviour of powerful interests that are not ethical, moral and do not have public good and welfare as one of their objectives. They control, and utilise for their purposes, immense resources and they are well organised. The key to influencing their responses, and behaviour, is their greed, self interest and desire for survival and maintenance of power and status.
Singapore is to execute Australian citizen, Van Tuong Nguyen on Friday 2, December, 2005.
The Australian government is powerless to stop this execution. Not the least because it is incompetent and derelict in looking after its citizens abroad, unlike the UK, USA, Mexico and numerous other nations. The Minister for Foreign Affairs Alexander Downer and the Attorney General, Philip Ruddock and the Minister for Justice, Senator Chris Ellison, are together a poor team, evidenced by what they allow the US to do to David Hicks, among others.
There are many anomalies about the Singapore incident not the least being that a civilised business oriented nation is deaf to any social arguements as to use of the state's power against an individual. The young boy committed a crime, at the upper level, by transporting a large quantity of herpin through Singapore's airport transit on the way to Australia. The transit lounge is not inside Singapore. Who was the ultimate crime against? It was ultimatley against Australia. Some people argue that Australia should impose sanctions. This is problematic from a nuber of perspectives not the least being that about 50% of Australians support the death penalty even though we do not have it. In any event business interests and commercial gain take precendence and dominate in international relations.
"We are honoured that the Singapore Government has chosen UNSW to spearhead its vision to develop Singapore as a hub of educational excellence in the Asian region" (Professor Ingleson, University of New South Wales.. What will the university teach the students about humanity and tolerance? Will it teach the students in Sigapore about its authoritarian government and debate whether Singapore is true democracy? Unlikely, perhaps.
Will it teach the students that Singapore's politicians are hypocrites? The President of Singapore, the Honourable S.R Nathan, in his maiden speech spoke of tolerance and harmony. How does he see Singapore's place in the wider world? We wait to see whether he exercises those beliefs and shows compassion for Van Tuong Nguyen?
"Out of sight out of mind" career politicians supported by similarly disposed public servants. ... more on mental health travesty
John Howard and Kevin Andrews lack ability and credibility needing to spend $40,000,000 on advertising... ..More
"low level waste dump".... uranium is coming more
Europe pandemic news ...more
up to the minute tracking the pandemic possibilities worldwide ...more.
proposed terrorism laws seek to marginalise the courts
dispensing with the doctrines of "proportionality" and "equality"
Philip Ruddock and questions of competency.
declining ethics, standards and responsibility in Australia
Media claims that National party leader is to castigate Senator Joyce are rubbish. The National party is using Barnaby Joyce as its front man to exert its influence on the government. However within the coalition are a number of pieces of political flotsam who have failed to read and understand the constitution. For example Senator Boswell, from Queensland. He is being challenged for first spot on the National Party ticket in Queensland. His internal, and external critics, argue that he is an apologist for the liberal government and spends more time bringing national party members into line on liberal thinking than representing his state. Countering this, with tremulous voice he says that he has contributed greatly to the benefit of his constituents. He says that he got compensation for the fishing and sugar industries. He is also keen on getting lots of money for telephones and such. I agree he has some magnificent sounding, but nebulous achievements listed. He does not say, and nor does the record, that he devised ways of developing the industry but rather he got money for rationalising people out of their livelihoods. Senator Boswell finds Senator Barnaby Joyce annoying and "populist". It could be that Senator Joyce will not toe the coalition line. This Senator erroneously thinks that the Constitution says that Senators represent their states. The original design of federalism. In Boswell, and others, limited conception a politician is elected to represent the party in government, in this case the liberal party with the Nationals playing junior. This is a novel, but not unusual interpretation of the Australian Constitution. Making a whore of Australia's democracy to the massaging of political interest is the norm. So Senator Boswell, with a multimillion dollar pension in the kitty, after 22 years, must run again and save the coalition from the evil likes of the Barnaby Joyce types of Australian politics who are not slaves to the party machine. Who might actually serve the people who elected them. What a novel idea that could be habit forming. Barnaby, the independents and other thinking political representatives, need to carry a can of spray to keep at bay the corrosive elements that infest Australia's parliament. Perhaps it could also be that Senator Boswell envies or is self ridiculed by the notion that Barnaby Joyce is his own man whereas Senator Boswell is lost in a collective mentality. He is given his assignments and he carries the drinks for the main batsmen and bowlers in the Australian parliament. Now Barnaby says that this is "not cricket". He instead bowls a googly, under handed, at the Howard government.
Another player on the parliamentary rugby field is Senator Fielding of the Family First party. He is the lone member of the party in the parliament having got in on a mistake by the Australian Labor Party that preferenced him over one of their own members. Family First, has migrated into Australia, albeit renamed and rebadged. However it has theocracy foundations and its roots can can be traced to a conglomerate of groups in the United States. The United Kingdom has a Family First party. There are a plethora of family and religiously oriented political movements across the globe.
Senator Fielding made much of demanding family evaluation statements from the Howard government on every piece of legislation. They promised them and they have delivered none. This signifies the status, and influence, of Senator Fielding. The size of the vote that put him into parliament is a mere percentage and he is likely to be there for only one term. Senator Fielding offers no depth of argument around family economic and social issues that relate to education and most recently he voted to ban compulsory student unionism in Australia's universities. These unions provide facilities, child care, counselling and so on. Fielding argued that a person should be able to choose what they wanted to pay for at university. The natural extension of this logic is that any tax payer should be able to choose what they want to fund. There are many who would not want to fund Senator Fielding, members of the labor, liberal, greens, democrats, roads in NSW, hospitals in Western Australia and so on. Fielding has never released a family impact assessment justifying any of his votes in the parliament. He is like many people who find themselves in their "fifteen minutes of fame", just hot air and fine sounding rhetoric.
Will the coalition in Iraq be surprised particularly the Australian government, when Iraq falls under the influence of Iran and the competing interests of Syria? Israel has long held that Syria has designs on Iraq. Other Arab nations seek to counter this influence but it is not clear if they can.
making them lame ducks in the Howard government (October, 2005)
The focus of the labour market reform laws are not on harnessing Australia's talent, it is a focus on compliance. It is about an ongoing war between ideological interests and the infusion of the lowest common denominator, straight jacket of employability.
The richer our nation is the more we are told that we cannot afford things, like high quality education, health, community and welfare services. Do you believe this is a fact?
Threatening Australia's balance sheet and IP
Orchestrating a spotlight on market power
Trends, analysis, predictions
Independent opinions on Australian
and international issues
"Reason" within the realm of Australian society, as defined by the power collective, is the market and economy. The pursuit of weath and the belief of the trickle down effect. There are forces within the political, and corporate, spheres that add to the corrosion and corruption of political and corporate systems.
democracy, government and society
Let your governments, parliaments and corporations know when they are not meeting your expectations.
Web site purpose
John Howard's Australia
An American on Howard's Australia
Women are weak says parliament
Degrading public office
These values are just words How does a bureaucracy have human values?
|Threatening duopoly||Media & social obligation||Sustainable Cities|
Countering the spin
the gulf between politics, government
and the citizen, worldwide
Australia & creation of myths
Power politics and media
Watersheds in Australian life
The opinins on impacts vary.
Truth in politics - trust
Truth, politics, 4th estate
Truth of the matter
Truth overboard John under Howard
Ethics, leadership & social responsibility
Changing the crew and culture
How governments lie
Devaluing employees' contribution in Australia
The Howard governments attack on state rights and the bias of policy towards mediocrity in human relations.
Public policy and public service yesterday and today
controlled by a handful of people
Australia to become a virtual detention centre
Why are Australian people so dependent on their governments for everything? Petrol prices go up and immediately federal Labor's Wayne Swan squawks in political parrotese that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission must be given new powers to coerce the naughty, and secretive, petrol refining companies. There must be a summit so that the media can report it. It would seem that we are held back by politicians, particularly federal Labor's senior spokespeople, who cannot distil complex issues and enunciate a deeper type of thinking, debate and understanding in their contribution to Australia's governance. Have they passed their use by dates and this is all they have left to offer?
It is also annoying that a large number of Australians do not have the capacity to think for themselves and discern why this might be happening. They should broaden the mind and travel in Europe and buy petrol there and see what the price is. Perhaps those who spruke that ethanol content should be increased, such as members of the National Party, the grain growers, here and internationally, and environmentalists, might inform themselves fully about the science.
Telstra, telecommunications, broadcasting, trade, food labelling, education, employment, governments
Australia's warped democracy, corroding and degrading Australia's public service
poor governance, leadership and the not so smart states.
Behind the scenes, in the big play
Don't give up. Get up.
This is a critical moment for Australia. As John Howard takes control of the Senate, its time to get up and tell his Government that we will hold them accountable.
Over the last nine years, John Howard's government has taken our country in a direction that many of us find very distressing. Next week John Howard's government will take control of the Senate. For the first time in a generation, a government will have absolute power. We already know that the government is planning radical changes that will fundamentally change our country. We need to show John Howard's government that it can't just do whatever it wants. Together with our friends, we have created a website to help mobilise Australians who care about where this country is going. It's called GetUp.org.au. At this critical moment, John Howard and the Coalition Senators need to know that even though the other parties can't hold them to account - we will.
Send the Coalition Senators in your state or territory this video message from ordinary Australians telling them that, from August 9, Australians are starting a movement to hold the Coalition government to account
Once you've sent your message please take a minute to let all your friends know about GetUp. Together, we can build a community of people who are going to help build a more progressive Australia.
Thanks for being part of this.
Jeremy & David & the GetUp team
The work of 'GetUp! Action for Australia' is endorsed and supported by
S A V E - Australia Inc.