The School of Athens

The School of Athens
The School of Athens by Raphael (click on picture to view short documentary from Columbia University)

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Budget 2015 and National Security: The polling payoff.

Colleagues and scholars from coast to coast, across Bass Strait and all the ships at sea.

Dateline: Australia, Federal Politics, Polling Payoff, July 2015.

Today, July 7, marks two months since the Federal Government brought down its 2015 Budget. 



It also marks a period of concerted effort from the Prime Minister to focus on national security issues.


So has there been an improvement in the Government's polling fortunes as a result?

Well, the short answer is: no. In fact, it's worsened.

In two party preferred terms, the Coalition's position has declined from 47.9% prior to the Budget to now measure at 47.5%. The ALP has increased from 52.1% to now measure at 52.5%.

This represents a swing of 6.0% and if replicated in an election would see the ALP winning 26 seats from the Coalition: placing them on 81 seats, the Coalition on 65 seats (which includes winning back Fairfax), 3 Independents (Indi, Denison and Kennedy) and 1 Green in Melbourne.


Two Party Preferred as at 7 July 2015 %

Party
Polls prior to Budget
Current Polls
Change
Coalition
47.9
47.5
(-0.4)
ALP
52.1
52.5
+0.4 


In primary vote terms:

The Coalition's primary vote is unchanged at 40.1%. This represents a 5.5% swing against the Govt since the 2013 election.

The ALP's primary vote has come off (0.3%), now sitting on 37.2%. This represents a 3.8% swing to the ALP since the 2013 election.

The Greens primary vote has increased by 1.4%, now sitting on 12.8%. This represents a 4.1% swing to the Greens since the 2013 election.

The Others group combined primary vote has decreased by (1.1%), now sitting on 9.9%. This represents a 2.4% swing away since the 2013 election.


Primary Votes as at 7 July 2015 %

Party
Polls prior to Budget 
Current Polls
Change
Coalition
40.1
40.1
nil
ALP
37.5
37.2
(-0.3)
Greens
11.4
12.8
+1.4
Others
11.0
9.9
(-1.1)




Monday, 6 July 2015

Tony Abbott jumping at "Q and A" shadows.

Colleagues and scholars from coast to coast, across Bass Strait and all the ships at sea.

Dateline: Australia, Federal Politics, July 2015.

Boycotting "Q and A" now? Seriously?

Even if it was a 'lefty lynch mob' as the Prime Minister claimed, could you imagine this fellow shirking the opportunity to engage with such a mob and 'showing them up' with his wit and force of argument?

He would have relished the chance and 'eaten them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.'


It seems the modern day Liberal Party is, in so many ways, truly a shadow of its former self.

It's pathetic, really.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Seventy years on: Lest we forget John Curtin

Colleagues and scholars from coast to coast, across Bass Strait and all the ships at sea.

Dateline: Australia, Federal Political History, July 2015.

Sunday, the 5th of July, will mark seventy years since the death of Australia's finest Prime Minister - John Curtin. He was 60 years of age. 

General Douglas MacArthur said of him: "The preservation of Australia from invasion will be his immemorial monument."


He was the most high-profile casualty of the 39,000 Australians who died in the Second World War. He died two months after the end of the war in Europe and six weeks before the end of the war in the Pacific. 


Excerpts from "A Great Australian Passes" by the Cinesound Review newsreel of his passing:

"John Curtin was a man of the people who had high authority thrust upon him at a crucial hour. His simplicity, honesty and unwavering purpose carried him to greatness and the whole world mourned his passing."

"He had seen the day break free of the clouds of tyranny in Europe; he was not spared to see the end of the war in which he, with all his mind and energy, had fought for Australia."

"We mourn him, and in mourning him we know such men in any nation's life are rare. 'Tis bitter truth, that only when they go, we realise the load they had to bear."

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

You can view the clip of the Cinesound Review newsreel on YouTube here: 


An excerpt from an impassioned speech to the nation during the Second World War:

"The enemy rests upon its totalitarian basis. He uses everything!

This country, therefore, uses everything in resistance to him.

That means, clearly and specifically, that every human being in this country is now, whether he or she likes it, at the service of the Government to work in the defence of Australia.

I ask you to go without, for your pleasure or for your comfort, and to give what you can to the Government in the way of money, in the way of treasure, as a complete and immediate indication to the enemy that Australia will meet him: inch by inch, foot by foot, yard by yard, and that he shall not enter upon our country.

That all the advancing that will be done, will be by Australians. For it is Australians that stand for the policy of advancing Australia."

You can view the clip of that excerpt on YouTube here: 


Some thoughts on his life:

"John Curtin shares with Pitt and Lincoln the tragedy of great reformers destroyed by total war. Curtin's greatness has been overshadowed by the magnitude of the events in which he played so crucial a part. The war itself, not Curtin's leadership, is the entrenched folk memory of the epoch; Churchill, Roosevelt and Macarthur, not Curtin, are its remembered heroes, even in Australia.

Only now, 27 years after his death, are his career and achievements beginning to be reassessed and rehabilitated. That reassessment will, I believe, increasingly emphasize the achievements of Curtin the reformer, not just Curtin the wartime leader. Had he lived, had the double burden of protecting Australia's front and his own back not taken the fatal toll, the true meaning of his career would never have been in doubt, because his contribution to Australia's postwar reconstruction and reformation would have been manifest. The foundations for that work were laid by the Curtin Government, and he himself shaped the work from the grave."  Gough Whitlam 1972


"Much has been said in recent times about the question of leadership. In the greatest crisis in our nation's history John Curtin brought to the leadership of this nation the supreme qualities of a genuine Australian leader.
There was about Curtin none of this studied image of simulated toughness, so-called. His real strength came from his deep inner resources of compassion, integrity and self-understanding. 
He knew the real meaning of patriotism and love of country; and Curtin, the architect of the American alliance, never thought that loyalty to Australia first required loyalty to the government of another nation. Above all, John Curtin had the supreme quality of a national leader--the ability to unite.
In the aftermath of the Great Depression, Curtin was called to the leadership of this nation after a period of profound social, economic and political division. He never sought power by feeding division. He united his party; he united his cabinet; he united his nation."  Bob Hawke 1980


"Let it never be said that Australia has no heroes. How can that ever be truly said of a nation which produced John Curtin?
For he was an authentic hero, and a hero in a uniquely Australian mould.
His strength to make the terrible and lonely decisions of war came from a deep inner strength of spirit.
His mastery over the tremendous and tumultuous events of his time came from his mastery over himself.
His superb eloquence; his great political skills; his tolerance and forbearance towards the more turbulent of his colleagues; his clear grasp of fundamental Labor principles; his instinctive feel for the mood of the Australian people and his ability to relate to and to give expression to their higher aspirations-all these contributed to his tremendous achievements.
But the foundation of everything-the core and heart of the public man and the private man-was character, that inner strength of character which he had forged in the furnace of the hardest battle any of us ever have to fight-the battle over self.
As with so many of our chief figures throughout our history, there remains an essentially tragic element in John Curtin's life and career.
His was perhaps the most tragic-though nobly tragic-of all.
This was a man whose lifelong vision for his country was based on the ideal of peace and the brotherhood of man; but when he came to lead his country, it was in the middle of the most frightful conflict and carnage in human history.
A lifelong opponent of conscription, he had to bear the responsibility of introducing Australia's first conscription. 
In the middle of the war, a Roosevelt could write to a Churchill: "What fun to be in the same decade with you." But for John Curtin, the time was out of joint, and a cursed spite had given him, literally, the power of life and death over thousands of his fellow countrymen.
And in the end, it killed him-a casualty of war as certainly as any who wore the Australian uniform.
Yet this essential tragedy-the tragedy of a man of peace who had to make war-cannot diminish his great achievements in the cause of Australian social and economic reform-the cause of social justice in Australia.
Indeed, those achievements shine with all the clearer lustre precisely because of the overriding preoccupation of saving the nation and winning the war.
Under the Curtin Government, the work of laying the foundations for the postwar reconstruction which has shaped the whole course of modern Australia right to the present day, went on side by side with the war effort."    Neville Wran 1981


Seventy years on: Lest we forget John Curtin.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

The past presents the future

Fellow citizens,

On ABC TV's "Q and A" program this week, Lawrence Krauss referred to a quote from Nazi leader Hermann Goering on how using fear, whether in a democracy or a dictatorship, will enable you to make people do what you want them to do.


This is what he said:

"Since I've come here, I've seen story after story, I looked at The Australian today, every story was about how I should be scared by terrorism. And it seems to me this notion that national security is so threatened by actually very few people having actually been threatened in Australia, that it's scaring people. And I can't help but think, remembering a line of actually Hermann Goering who said: 'democracy, dictatorship, doesn't matter, you want to make people do what you want them to do - make them afraid.' And I find this attitude that's happening here of getting people afraid of terrorism, so afraid that you can't even talk about it on TV - I find that terrifying." 

This is the excerpt from the interview by Gustav Gilbert in Goering's cell at Nuremberg in 1946.

Goering: "Why, of course, the people don't want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship."

Gilbert: "There is one difference. In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars."

Goering: "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

Goering knew what he was talking about. The Nazis were very skilled at manipulating the German public. 

A public, we must remember, that was not some intellectual backwater, but was highly educated and cultured, and was responsible for providing the world with some of the finest artists, scientists, theologians and philosophers.

Have a look at this example of the successful implementation of one of the many frauds that the Nazis perpetrated on the German people.

One of the Nazis major "selling points" to the German people was this myth that they were Aryans, a super race, the ubermensch, whose destiny was to rule the world.

This is how the typical German Aryan young woman and man were portrayed:



And how the typical German Aryan family was portrayed:


Yet, not one of the key Nazi leaders - Hitler, Goering, Goebbels, Himmler or Hess - looked remotely Aryan (Hitler wasn't even born in Germany, he was Austrian by birth and became a German citizen in 1932).

As ugly a group of grisly characters as you'd find anywhere, and these were portrait photographs. See for yourself:






The fact that none of the leaders reflected the Aryan ideal did not matter to the German people, as the Nazis had so expertly worked their wicked sorcery on them that they were blind to the truth.

Yes, the Nazis knew exactly what they were doing, and Goering knew exactly what he was talking about.

Using the fear of being attacked as a tactic for political advantage is not playing with fire, but rather with nuclear weapons. It should be exposed for what it is and condemned at every opportunity.

We ignore the lessons of history at our peril.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." George Santayana.


Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Coalition promotion and relegation for the new financial year

Colleagues and scholars from coast to coast, across Bass Strait and all the ships at sea.

Dateline: Australia, Federal Politics, 1 July 2015.

At the start of the new financial year (and an extra second to boot) I wonder what Coalition members wouldn't give to have adopted a promotion and relegation system for the leadership of its parties.

Wouldn't they love to replace this team:


With this team.


And, as a gift with purchase, replace this Education Minister:


With this Education Minister.


I suspect, however, the people of NSW might not be too keen on the idea

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

A fistful of fear

Colleagues and scholars from coast to coast, across Bass Strait and all the ships at sea.

Dateline: Australia, Federal Politics, June 2015.

At the start of the Second World War, faced with the very serious threat of a German invasion, the British Government displayed posters in public places around the nation with simple morale boosting messages for the British people.

The messages were positive, strong and reassuring. They helped to unify the British people and galvanise the war effort.


Faced with the considerably smaller threat that ISIS poses to Australia, Prime Minister Tony Abbott has done just the opposite as he takes every opportunity to ramp up fear in the community.

His comment on the weekend that "As far as the Daesh [ISIS] death cult is concerned, it's coming after us" was just the latest instalment.

You be hard pressed to find a more non-reassuring and discomforting message from a leader. It was irresponsible in the extreme.

How long will it be before we see these posters blanketing our public places?



Monday, 29 June 2015

Short and not very sweet

Fellow citizens,

This one is short and not very sweet.

Nothing that occurs in politics surprises me. Nothing at all. But occasionally a few things disgust me. 


Questioning the loyalty of ABC staff to Australia (and not for the first time) by Tony Abbott, is one such occasion. 

His 'whose side are you on?' query was utterly contemptible and I suspect would have been extremely offensive and deeply hurtful to the thousands of ABC employees.

His query is what you'd expect from a self-absorbed third-rate student politician with delusions of grandeur, but not from someone who is supposed to be the leader of a nation. 

Tony Abbott does not decide who is loyal to Australia and who isn't, nor does he determine who loves Australia and who doesn't, nor does he define what it is to be Australian and what it is to be 'un-Australian'.

He does not own the Australian Parliament, the Australian Constitution, the Australian flag, or the ABC.

He is not the emperor, or dictator, or absolute monarch of Australia.




He is an elected official who serves the Australian people at our pleasure. 

If he doesn't like the coverage of his government that the ABC provides; if it makes life uncomfortable for him - too bad. 

It's the job of a quality independent media outlet like the ABC to speak truth to power, and the thousands of its employees whose character he impugned with his disgraceful question do an excellent job.

Rather than throwing a temper tantrum,


And then trying to bully the ABC with the language of a thug,


He should learn how a true leader of a democracy speaks about media coverage he doesn't like:

"I think it is invaluable, even though it is never pleasant to be reading things that are not agreeable news, but I would say that it is an invaluable arm of the Presidency, as a check really on what is going on in the administration, and more things come to my attention that cause me concern or give me information........even though we never like it, and even though we wish they didn't write it, and even though we disapprove, there isn't any doubt that we could not do the job at all in a free society without a very, very active press." JFK, 1962.


Take note, Prime Minister. That's how a grown up does it.

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