The federal government’s attempt at a big finish to 2019 ended in shambles last week with their union-busting bill defeated by an unlikely coalition of Jacqui Lambie, Greens, ALP and One Nation senators.
In a very rare vote against the government, Pauline Hanson said she was motivated by the fallout from the Westpac debacle, in which the bank was found to have broken the law more than 27 million times; facilitating money laundering, terrorism financing and paedophilia amongst other conduct unbecoming a banking behemoth.
After the vote, which led to gasps on both sides of the chamber, Senator Hanson held a press conference. ‘Clean up the white collar crime,’ she said. ‘Go after the banking officials, and prove to the people of Australia that you’re here for everyone.’
She also had a spray at corrupt union officials, saying, ‘This is a warning shot across the bows of the unions and the government.’
Is the battler’s champion finally living up to her slogan or holding out for special favours? Time will tell.
Brian Hartzer would be resigning and taking only $2.7 million with him, instead of the $20-odd million he would normally be pocketing
Having voted 26 times against the Banking Royal Commission that led to the Westpac investigation, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg was quick to claim credit for the first scalp, saying he’d spoken sternly to the bank shortly before their public announcement that Westpac CEO Brian Hartzer would be resigning and taking only $2.7 million with him, instead of the $20-odd million he would normally be pocketing. Hartzer was followed soon after by chairman of the board Lindsay Maxsted.
Strangely, there was no mention of gaol time for those involved, despite the fact that the fines for these crimes, if enforced, would amount to a potential maximum fine of $391 trillion. That’s trillion with a T. But don’t hold your breath waiting for that to be enforced. Ah, the joys of being too big to fail.
It was a stark contrast to the ongoing fallout from the government’s robodebt program, which has allegedly led to thousands of premature deaths, including many disabled and vulnerable Centrelink recipients, all to raise a projected (and fanciful) $2 billion, much of which now appears never to have been owed at all.
Up to 600,000 of the 900,000 robodebts issued so far will need to be re-assessed, with many requiring refunds
Last week, in an important test case in Victoria, the federal court found that the government was in error when it used income averaging to find that the plaintiff, Deanna Amato, owed a large debt relating to her time as a student years earlier. This precedent means that up to 600,000 of the 900,000 robodebts issued so far will need to be re-assessed, with many requiring refunds.
Meanwhile in Queensland, the last day of November marked the date Adani was due to receive an early Christmas present worth up to $900 million from the Palaszczuk government, in the form of seven years worth of royalty deferrals.
The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis says these funds will join an estimated $4.4 billion of tax exemptions, deferrals and capital subsidies in an environment where thermal coal is more on the nose than ever. So much for Adani executive Lucas Dow’s claim that his company did not ‘require a cent of Australian taxpayer dollars.’
As Tim Buckley, director of energy finance studies at IEEFA put it, ‘If you give enough subsidies, anything becomes viable’
As Tim Buckley, director of energy finance studies at IEEFA put it, ‘If you give enough subsidies, anything becomes viable.’
One thing that seemed increasingly unviable as the week continued was Angus Taylor’s credibility. The federal Minister for Energy and (theoretically) Emissions Reduction, was embroiled in a police investigation into the false documents with which he attempted to smear Lord Mayor of Sydney Clover Moore, but he refused to resign, or even stand down temporarily.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison staunchly stood by his man, despite all precedents to the contrary and a series of attacks in the parliament and media.
Scomo even rang his old neighbour NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller about the case, provoking howls of outrage, but apparently daggy dads can get away with anything.
The prime minister rejected an invitation from Torres Strait citizens to see the disastrous effects of climate change first hand
Soon after the prime minister rejected an invitation from Torres Strait citizens to see the disastrous effects of climate change first hand, this week he started spruiking his new web page ‘The Morrison Government Wants to Hear From You!’ at: https://www.liberal.org.au/morrison-government-wants-hear-you
In the handy ‘What issue matters most to you?’ pull-down menu on the site, ‘Tackling climate change’ is the second-last option, in lucky thirteenth place.
The question has to be asked, is this exercise about genuine community engagement or data-mining for future Trump-style social media focusing on individual fears, phobias and fixations?
Meanwhile, at the clown car end of the Coalition parade, as many rural people were out fighting unstoppable bushfires this week, news emerged that the Nationals’ erstwhile leader Barnaby Joyce was spotted auctioning items including a lump of coal
Meanwhile, at the clown car end of the Coalition parade, as many rural people were out fighting unstoppable bushfires this week, news emerged that the Nationals’ erstwhile leader Barnaby Joyce was spotted auctioning items including a lump of coal and Matt Canavan’s ‘Start Adani’ T shirt at a recent Young Nationals fundraiser in Canberra.
As far as Australian democracy is concerned, the message was clear, with the complete capture of the former ‘bush socialists’ by the resources industry on display. Only hatted heads on stakes were needed to complete the picture.
Forget about advancing Australia. These days, everything’s going, going, gone.