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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It is down to the erratic sociopath

Sadly, recovery from the Covid19-induced economic crash will almost totally depend on the actions of the narcissistic, erratic, sociopath in the White House. 

Let me explain.

With apologies to Leo Tolstoy, every market boom is similar; every market crash is different. In Australia, this one is different from the global financial crisis, the crash of 1987, the oil shock of the 1970s, and the crash of 1929 in several ways. Those differences will most likely determine its duration and who are the big losers and who gains.

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Why not good action all the time?

COVID-19 has driven other important issues off the media agenda. But COVID-19 and those things driven off the agenda have something in common: the competency of government.

Notice that whenever governments deliver bad news, such as restrictions of movement, they either have the health expert announce it or at least be present at the announcement and always ensure they say that “we are following the best scientific and medical advice”. Government action that affects people adversely needs expert support. Without it, confidence and votes would be lost.

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Australia should just leave

The farce this week of two rivals holding separate presidential inaugurations in Afghanistan should raise questions of why the US ever went there, why Australia followed, and once there why have we stayed so long?

The short answer is that the politicians learned only one lesson from the Vietnam war, instead of the many they should have learned. That lesson was that if you are going to be suckered into a war by the military-industrial complex, avoid conscription.

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