PM on Sheean’s VC case

Prime Minister Scott Morrison in reply to questions from Australian Community Media about Teddy Sheean:

Australia will remain eternally grateful for the service, dedication and sacrifice of Ordinary Seaman Edward ‘Teddy’ Sheean.

I can understand the frustration, commitment and passion of those petitioning for Teddy Sheehan to be recognised through the posthumous awarding of the VC. His bravery and sacrifice was exemplary. 

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Education: quagmire of blame and cost shifting

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s admission that “the Commonwealth has no line of sight” on vocational training spending and that “where targets do exist, they are aspirational. If not met, there are no consequences” applies equally to all spending on education at all levels by all levels of government.

Education funding in Australia is a quagmire of blame shifting, cost shifting, and caving in to lobbying and special interests.

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Trump’s deadly badge of dishonour

President Donald Trump’s assertion this week that the US having the world’s most Covid-19 cases should be seen as a “badge of honour” epitomised all the failings of irrational, autocratic decision-making. And in this crisis, decision-making has been a matter of life and death.

Trump, like his fellow autocratic strongmen (and they are invariably men) in Brazil, Russia and China, has inflicted massive unnecessary pain on his people.

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Virus puts economics in back seat

More fundamental questions must be asked. People, quite reasonably are drafting wishlists for a post-Covid world – such as action on climate, energy, tax, water, industrial relations and so on – but that risks a return to politics as usual. 

Rather we should be asking: what sort of economy do we want; what is the economy for; what role should government play and who should decide how government acts?

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With luck the ABC can be saved

This week’s report on ABC funding should alarm Australians.

The death by a thousand cuts of the ABC and the slow strangulation of Medicare have become woven into in Liberal Party’s DNA since John Howard turned Robert Menzies’ broad church of a liberal-conservative Liberal Party into a purely conservative one by shutting out almost everyone left of the nave.

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We can withstand Chinese pressure

We have been here before, so do not worry. If China wants to boycott Australia over our perfectly reasonable request for an independent inquiry into the Covid-19 virus, it is their problem, not ours. The inquiry is not political brinksmanship but essential for reasons I’ll come back to.

There was a time in the 19 th century when 70 per cent of our imports came from Britain and 80 per cent of our exports went to Britain. By the turn of the 20 th century still half our exports went to Britain. We were still heavily dependent on Britain when it went in to the European Economic Community in 1973. 

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Covid a dress rehearsal for worse to come

Just as the bushfire crisis was a flaw-exposing dress rehearsal that helped Australia deal with the Covid-19 crisis, the Covid-19 crisis should itself be a dress rehearsal for possibly worse things to come. And the most recent report of the Commission for the Human Future suggests that we would do well to prepare for them.

Indeed, the report suggests we need more than the traditional Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to illustrate the threats, which can be summarised as follows:

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Boomers should repay debt to young

Fair’s fair. The Baby Boomers (born 1946 to 1960) have always moved through the economy and society taking the best of everything – education, health care, opportunities, housing, jobs, income, prestige and tax perks. It is now time to recognise a new big debt.

Because of COVID-19, the economy has been trashed in order that the infection curve be flattened so the health system would be able to cope and not have to triage older people out of treatment.

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Pell case shows juries should go

The Covid-19 crisis has put a stay on many jury trials. If we were sensible, the High Court’s judgement to overturn the conviction of George Pell should result in the end of them forever.

Imagine designing from scratch a system today for society to determine an accused’s guilt. You would be laughed at if you suggested you should go out on the street and pick 12 people at random and make them listen to evidence and legal submissions and then be locked in a room until they came up with a verdict and you did not require them to give any reasons.

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Rendering unto Caesar

What was Prime Minister Scott Morrison thinking, if anything, when he sent a video from what appears to be his office in which he said in prayer: “Heavenly Father, we just commit our nation to you in this terrible time of great need and suffering of so many people”?

Presumably, the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good god he was praying to for help is  the same all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good god that inflicted the pandemic on us in the first place.

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