Three freedoms to make religion Bill unnecessary

The past fortnight’s “debate” on religious freedom has a subtle irony about it. Australian law at present makes it unlawful to discriminate against people when dealing with them in the public sphere on a range of attributes.

These attributes are basically what “God” or “Fate” or the vicissitudes of life gave people over which they have virtually no control: gender, sexuality, disability, skin colour, age. But the religious freedom Bill is going to make it unlawful to discriminate against people for belief in a human-made construct: religion.

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EVs: more tax avoidance for the well-off

This week I took the first step towards setting up a tax-avoidance scheme. It is perfectly legal and practically foolproof. It only relies on the continued foolishness of the Federal Government – which is pretty much guaranteed these days.

The step was to put an order in for an electric car. That included a test drive along Australia’s most spectacular road: the Captain Cook Highway north of Cairns – the Coral Sea and the reef on the right and rainforest or cane fields to the left.

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Litany of economic mismanagement

Yet again the Coalition says it has the best economic-management credentials and yet again opinion polls show that voters put the Coalition ahead of Labor on economic management. It is a rusted-on myth. Trouble is, when you chisel away the rust, there is no metal underneath.

Since 2013 the Coalition has engaged in a litany of economic mismanagement and misuse of public money.

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Preference system hurting Coalition

The trend away from the major parties continued unabated this month. This week Greens leader Adam Bandt announced the Greens would target 10 safe Labor seats in the cities and push for an end to coal mining by the end of the decade.

Meanwhile, the “Voices Of” movement of independents has 30 independents standing in mainly safe Liberal seats in the cities on platforms mainly of stronger integrity and climate laws, more compassion for refugees and smarter economic policies. They are gaining more financial support by the day.

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Macron: it was personal, that was the point

There on the slim pamphlet cobbled together at the last minute by Prime Minister Scott Morrison before the Glasgow climate conference were the words: “The Australian Way”.

It was a glossy, catchy phrase appropriated by Scotty from Marketing. But we have seen the phrase before – for a long time it was the name of the monthly in-flight Qantas magazine.

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Climate: smoke and mirrors, for now

Cape Grim atmospheric station

Prime Minister Scott Morrison used both of his favourite methods of deception in announcing his net-zero policy this week: smoke AND mirrors. The smoke hides and the mirror deflects.

He has been roundly condemned by academics; business; think tanks and journalists. But it was still masterful – a brilliant conjuring performance. You can abbreviate that to “con job”.

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Back to rotten politics as usual

Surely we can train our own

Several events in the past week neatly illustrate what is rotten in the state of Australian politics and policy-making.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has told an Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry event that he was considering increasing immigration. And the chamber itself called for a nearly doubling of the skilled migrant intake to 200,000. 

Notice how business gets the Treasurer’s ear and they speak to each other. Business wants high immigration because it provides a pool of cheap labour and generally weakens labour’s bargaining power. 

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Good idea goes badly wrong

Before going on to universities, China and population, a quick word on Jobkeeper.

Figures made public by the Parliamentary Budget Office this week, largely to the unrelenting work of ACT Labor MP Andrew Leigh, show that $20 billion in JobKeeper money was handed to companies whose revenue actually rose during the first 12 months of the scheme.

Very few companies have paid the money back, unless shamed in to it by threats of consumer boycotts. The money was supposed to support jobs, but most of the $20 billion paid to companies who revenue was unaffected by Covid went to share dividends (including a lot to foreigners), share buy-backs, and executive bonuses.

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Integrity, trust. Great election issues

At the beginning of the 2004 election campaign, John Howard asked, “Who do you trust?”  At the upcoming election, it is hard to imagine Scott Morrison appealing to voters on the same basis.

Howard won five seats from Labor and a fourth term. He had said: “This election is about trust.” And, looking at then Labor Leader now One Nation MP Mark Latham,  the voters answered.

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Expect hung Parliaments. Good

No matter when the next election is held, it is very likely to result in a hung Parliament and a minority government of one sort or another. It will be a good result for Australia.

A few weeks before the 2019 election I put $100 on a hung Parliament at 8 to 1 using Australia’s largest internet betting site. I only missed out by a few votes.

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