How not to answer questions in parliament

Junior federal minister Stuart Robert today showed how not to answer questions about integrity and, in the process, damaged the government.

Three times the Opposition asked Robert to define the actual capacity he attended a ming industry function in China. 

Because the government has referred the matter to the head of the Public Service, Robert used the “out” clause of “the matter is under investigation, or lack of words to that effect.

By inference, Robert has given the impression he could be guilty, simply because he hasn’t provided an open and full answer.

It’s the age-old wrong PR tack to take: avoid an answer until you’re in the clear … or not. 

All well and good if Robert is hedging his bets but, as I said, he has damaged the government by not being up-front. 

See his answers here: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/stuart-robert-scandal-deepens-as-labor-demands-answers-over-ministerial-meeting-20160208-gmoxps.html

Let the (no fun) games begin

Get set for the hard slog.

Federal politicians returned to Canberra today. You know what that means? Electioneering. Yep, we vote (seems like yesterday) again this year.

Malcolm says it will be August, September or November. Wonder of he could be more specific? Then again, that’s Turnbull. He’s quite non-specific (flaky would be my descriptor).

The latest version of the Liberal Government has had time to show its stuff Can’t say it’s much different from the previous Tony Abbott-led version. I think perhaps a little meaner, with increasing attacks on the most vulnerable (cuts to pensions and cutbacks to health to the forefront). Of course, there’s the possible increase in GST, which will also hurt the weakest. I haven’t heard any pledge of how pensions will rise by the same amount.

On the other hand, the wealthy get away with “blue murder”. The hundreds of major companies which don’t pay tax (or very little) in Australia is well documented. In fact, it’s astounding. Among them is News Limited, Rupert Murdoch’s Aussie arm of his global media empire. And Murdoch papers have the temerity to attack people ripping off the welfare system (not that I condone it) – just the hypocrisy of Murdoch.

Back to Malcolm.

The honeymoon is well and truly over. It’s time he stopped the rhetoric (polite word for bullshit) and spelt things out. Where do we stand as a nation? There’s lots of things happening (i.e., gay marriage, the republic, war on terror). But where are we going as a nation, when all I can see are average people struggling to get ahead?

Unemployment is way up, despite “offical” figures saying otherwise. You only have to work for an hour a week to be classed as employed and/or for a job to have been created. Never mind the thousands who have been laid off by the mining, banking and manufacturing sectors (with more to come).

8e691ece55eca46507767bcc36cc2877The smoother veneer Malcolm coats himself in (and that includes a highly-polished Instagram feed – some of the latest trading off the homeless, which have suddenly been deleted) hopefully will receive some scratches as we progress throughout the year.

Let the games begin.

 

Pic: Daily Telegraph

 

Is there hope for a town called York?

I visited the WA country town of York last weekend for the first time in probably 12 or so years.

Not much had changed, except that it probably looked a little more run down than I remembered.

The point is, not much had changed.

I took my wife, who hadn’t been there before. It was a great ride on the motorbike.

She summed it up, saying it looked like a half-deserted wild set town. Apt description. There weren’t any tumbleweeds, though there could have been, as the surrounding country was dry and dusty.

The district’s farmers are obviously doing it tough and this impacts on the economy, notably the town’s businesses. The Imperial Hotel is for sale. It has been for about a year. Another relatively newly-renovated establishment has gone broke.

York was in the news two weeks ago, with local businesses complaining the local council wasn’t helping them to attract tourists. The council said it wanted to see a plan. Fair enough.

One local businesswoman I talked with has been there for 18 months, but she still hasn’t got an online presence. Alarm bells.

If she’s typical of the businesses in York, then what hope?

I pointed out some of the wares she could be selling on line and how she should go about it (Facebook and Twitter for a start). I gave her my card, which shows me as a marketing communications professional with a PhD.

She didn’t get it and didn’t want to know much, saying she’d ask her daughter.

I wasn’t trying to pitch to her, merely offer advice, which she didn’t seem interested in.

God helps those who help themselves, so they say. But I doubt whether she’s going to get much help from above.

Like I said, I hope this isn’t typical of the town. If it is, heaven help York.

Australia vulnerable to “desperate” world, says Salt

Western Australia could find itself at the centre of growing international tension over its mineral wealth. And governments aren’t prepared.

Leading Australian demographer Bernard Salt made the prediction at a forum of WA Vocational Educational Trainers in Perth this week.

“The world wants and needs what we have, and there’s going to be a made scramble for all of these things,” Salt said.

“We have what the world wants. That makes us valuable, but also vulnerable.”

Alarmingly, the scramble will come sooner than later.

“Most people are predicting this will happen around 2070, but I think it will come by 2020,” said Salt, who was addressing 200 VET industry representatives in a forum sponsored by the Department of Workforce Training and Development.

“For me, this is the biggest issue facing Australia, and governments are doing nothing about it.

“Look at where our military presence is. We have Lavarack Barracks in Townsville. It was built in the sixties. What’s it protecting now? We have Robertson Barracks in Darwin, which was expanded during the East Timor crisis.

“But there’s no military assets of note between Darwin and Perth – an area that contains pretty much all of Australia’s wealth – about $43 million worth of gas and oil.

“The Chinese have already demonstrated they need the raw materials. Gorgon was about China shoring up its assets.”

Salt was quietly scathing of government inaction, saying while we had aligned ourselves militarily with the US, we expect our financial support to come from China.

“China is now the emerging power, but it remains to be seen how governments deal with the dilemma.”

Salt called for a massive boost to infrastructure, including a larger military presence with at least 5000 soldiers, and a regional town of 150,000.

“It only makes sense to put the military hardware where you are most exposed.

“This is the biggest issue confronting us.”

Who needs sub editors?

Bad of me to pose a question in a headline. Sub editing Rule 1: tell the reader, don’t ask.

I read an alleged memo to journalists from the CEO of Fairfax regarding the sacking of all it’s sub editors. The poor chap is a poor writer. Stilted and verbose. So he sent it to be “subbed”.

It came back; still verbose and lacking warmth. The sub also didn’t know the difference between alternate and alternative.

So maybe it’s a good idea Fairfax is ditching it’s subs. No. I jest. For the most part, subs are a paper’s energy source: certainly the source of information and knowledge.

I hope they all find alternative jobs.