Friday, July 6, 2012

Politics, Money: Cheat-Sheet Shit.

"Mirror, mirror, on the wall..." [A]

Crikey, the web-based magazine, released two days ago the leaked Coalition talking points. (See here. Includes link to the PDF document).

Labelled "confidential - not-for-distribution in this format" and current as at July 1, 2012, the 138-page cheat-sheet "Coalition Speaker's Notes" teach Coalition drones politicians how to answer those pesky questions pesky journalists ask.

Say, journo John asks Coalition politician Paul: "What changes will you make to IR regulations?" (See page 64, PDF document)

Paul only needs to spew something like: "The Coalition will always work with the independent umpire, Fair Work Australia... yadda yadda ... We will be upfront and honest with the Australian people and take any changes to the Fair Work Act to the Australian people. Our policy will be problem solving and pragmatic, not ideological." (Emphasis added)

John, the journo, could ask: "What about unfair dismissal?" Paul replies: "We learnt our lesson at the 2007 election, any changes that need to be made will be problem solving and pragmatic, not ideological". (Emphasis added).

As the lovely and pesky Jacqueline Maley (Fairfax Media journalist) explained it:
"They [talking points] are the reason all politicians sound the same and repeat themselves endlessly. They are the reason politicians can never give a &!%$* straight answer to a straight question." (See here)
Indeed.

Look at the bright side of it: journos and public alike can save their time! We already know all the answers.

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So, that's where our dear beloved politicians' "deeply held convictions" come from and how they make a living.

Thank goodness, it's not like they are struggling, either. With last week pay rise,
"Prime Minister Julia Gillard's salary rises by $14,430 to $495,430, meaning she is earning a whopping $129,064 more than she was a year ago - or almost $2500 extra a week. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott receives a $10,267 increase, taking his annual salary to $352,517.
"Mr Abbott is an impressive $91,834, or $1766 a week, better off than he was one year ago."
(See here)

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But, surely there's more to a politician's life than money: they're constantly at each others' throats, for Christ's sake!

Well, not that constantly:
"Wayne Swan shrugged it off as 'normal process' as he banked his $101,762 gain, taking his annual pay to $390,627, almost double that of the British Prime Minister's $205,000. Swan does represent a working family, after all.
"And Tony Abbott expressed his gratitude - 'I never forget that the taxpayers of Australia pay my salary' - as he collected his extra $91,834. The Opposition Leader is now entitled to $352,517, while the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, must make do with $275,000.
"Abbott likes to champion the interests of what he calls the 'forgotten families'. His, gratefully, will not be among them."
(See here and here)
So, that's bipartisan consensus on austerity and fiscal conservatism, for you.

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But, never fear, the Labor Gillard government remains determined to demonstrate its fiscal conservatism: the Newstart Allowance (aka dole) was kept at AUD489.70 (maximum per fortnight, single, no children), even though it has long been acknowledged that Newstart is a national embarrassment (see here) and that it "has fallen from 46% of median family income in 1996 to 36% in 2009-10 - or, from a little way below a standard relative income poverty line, to a long way below" (see here).

And the incoming Coalition government, promising to be even more fiscally conservative, "will 'break the cycle of idleness and habits of apathy' that can develop among those on welfare". (See here)

To that end, and following the shit-sheet, the Coalition will strive to reverse a terrible trend: "The number of penalties for breaches of mutual obligation requirements has fallen from 32,000 (2007-08) to 19,406 (2008-09). Since July 2009 there had only been 12,283 penalties and only 4,353 involved the most severe penalty of loss of benefits for 8 weeks (Estimates 10 Feb 2010)". (See page 66, PDF document)

If I were you, dole bludgers, I'd buy some personal lubricant, a pack of condoms and learn to relax my sphincters...

But I'm not you! Good people don't lose their jobs, do they?! It wouldn't happen to us... Right? Anyone..?

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And there's more good news! Labor will demonstrate its credentials as economic managers and solve the problem of productivity, too!

Ask those two fearless ex trade-unionists, terror of bosses and infamous in right-whinger legend as "union thugs" (yes, believe it or not!), Martin Ferguson and Simon Crean:
"The boost to pollies' pay packets comes two days after ministers Martin Ferguson and Simon Crean told reporters in Canberra that current union wage demands should be granted only if productivity output was assured." (See here)

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Do people in Australia know the meaning of the word "fool"?

Okay, sorry. That's a hard question. So, let me give you a clue: grab a mirror.

Update:

08-07-2012. Checking on some older posts, I've found some bitter-sweet things. For one, I actually predicted (April 20, 2012) that the Coalition would adopt the tried-and-tested policy of "flogging the dole bludger": see "Moving to Oz (III) or, 'it's a class hatred thing' ". It's always gratifying to see that one is right, although the prediction fulfilled is not one that makes me happy. Besides, it's not like one needed to be a Nostradamus to make that prediction.

Another post that complements this one nicely is "The 'Entitlements Debate'" (April 24, 2012).

Image Credit:
[A] Snow White magic mirror. Wikipedia.

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