Morrison Government throws another Royal Commission on the fire

Will the findings of the Bushfire Royal Commission create necessary change, or is the Morrison Government just “polly waffling” until the next disaster strikes? Managing editor Michelle Pini reports.

WITH THE blackest of summers – in which bushfires extinguished the lives of 33 Australians, destroyed 3,000 houses, annihilated 19 million hectares obliterated wildlife and smoke inhalation claimed a further 450 lives – plus a Royal Commission behind us, what has changed?

Well apart from the climate, which is transmuting at an alarming rate and signalling further calamities, it seems very little has changed.

Today, in a nightmarish repeat of last year’s catastrophic events, dozens of fires rage across Australia, with Queensland’s Fraser Island – a unique ecosystem and World Heritage site – currently burning out of control.

BEDS OF COAL

Nonetheless, our Federal Government, led by a PM whose allegiance to coal borders on fixation, is still talking up “gas-led” recoveries and the “benefits” of coal, while simultaneously denying the science and ignoring renewable energy solutions.

The Morrison Government’s coal addiction defies reason

Despite our counterparts around the world embracing innovations and recognising the severity of the situation, the Coalition Government is sticking to the past with frightening fervour. And Australia’s response to climate change is now, embarrassingly, ranked the worst in the OECD. 

This time last year, IA outlined 11 proactive steps Scott Morrison could have taken to assist the bushfire emergency that had engulfed the nation at the time.

These included:

  • declaring a national state of emergency; 
  • providing sufficient resources for emergency services in a coordinated national response; 
  • accepting that his Government’s policies are exacerbating the risk, frequency and intensity of bushfire events; and
  • formulating a long term strategy – incorporating action on anthropogenic climate change – to deal with future events.

And now, with experts signalling another year of record temperatures and extreme weather events, we need to add a most imperative suggestion for Mr Morrison: 

  • Enact the recommendations of the Bushfire Royal Commission! 
11 things Scott Morrison could have done for the bushfire emergency — but didn’t

A BURNING REPORT

Some of the key findings of the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements, on which the Federal Government needs to take responsibility, echo our earlier recommendations and include the establishment of:

  • legislation enabling the federal government to declare “a state of national emergency”;
  • a national data system to share knowledge of climate change (the existence of which is accepted as fact in the report);
  • a national register that shows the number of emergency services personnel, equipment and aerial assets that can be drawn on, or moved around if needed; and
  • a national aerial firefighting fleet ‘to be tasked according to greatest national need’.

The emphasis of these findings is on national leadership that draws together state and territory resources and coordinates emergency efforts to avoid last summer’s devastation.

While the Royal Commission advised an Australian-based aerial firefighting capability be established, Minister Littleproud has only “noted” the recommendation, indicating that he is comfortable with the current aerial firefighting arrangements.

POLLY WAFFLING

Former A.C.T. Emergency Services Commissioner and spokesperson for Emergency Leaders for Climate ActionPeter Dunn, told Ithat the findings are the result of a very thorough Royal Commission, following lots of engagement with experts, but that the Federal Government is not taking the recommendations seriously enough.

Mr Dunn said:

“There is too much “polly waffling” and no leadership. 

The Government has told emergency services, ‘Just ask and we’ll provide’.
But it is not stepping up to provide a plan and the resources needed…

…A national domestic aerial fire-fighting capability is essential.”

IA posed the question of the Royal Commission’s national aerial capability recommendation to Minister for Disaster and Emergency Management David Littleproud, who responded with the following:

‘Aerial firefighting strategies are the responsibility of state and territory governments.

The state and territory fire chiefs have the experience and expertise therefore we will seek advice from fire chiefs.

This is not a decision for politicians, it is a decision for fire commissioners.’

Peter Watt says:

“Are we now going to gloss this over and keep doing the same thing? 

We just can’t leave it all up to the chiefs to organise extra planes.

There needs to be coordination and leadership.”

Vocal critic of the Government’s response to the Bushfire Royal Commission, Shadow Minister for Disaster and Emergency Management, Murray Watt, agrees.

He told IA:

Australia faces a high risk of natural disasters in the months ahead. That’s why it’s so frustrating to see Scott Morrison yet again refusing to take proactive steps to prepare…

We know that last summer requests for help were denied because there weren’t enough aircraft available to fight the fires.

Scott Morrison must stop dawdling and start acting on the Royal Commission’s advice to lead a national aerial firefighting fleet.

Senator Watt added:

Eighteen months after the Government announced the $4 billion Emergency Response Fund, it has failed to spend a cent.

The Morrison Government is gambling with lives by not investing in evacuation centres, cyclone shelters, fire breaks and other valuable mitigation projects.

There are communities that faced bushfires last year having to crowd-fund for essential life-saving facilities because the Government won’t cough up the cash.

With regard to providing what is required for bushfire mitigation, Minister Littleproud said:

‘To date, of the $2 billion Bushfire Recovery Fund, NBRA [National Bushfire Recovery Agency] has provided $1.2 billion in bushfire recovery.

Emergency Management Australia will provide advice for the best use of the ERF [Emergency Response Fund].   

BEDS ARE BURNING

But Senator Watt says:

‘We saw what happened when Scott Morrison wasn’t prepared for last year’s bushfires. 

Australians cannot afford for him to repeat his mistakes this year.’

Has anything changed since Black Summer?

Peter Dunn is not convinced:

“We don’t know what’s changed  [since last year’s bushfire emergency] but recent conversations with David Littleproud and [Energy Minister] AngusTaylor, which focus on gas-led recoveries and more coal, indicate that nothing’s changed.”

You can follow managing editor Michelle Pini on Twitter @VMP9Follow Independent Australia on Twitter @independentaus and on Facebook HERE.

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Can the Commonwealth fund a Third Tier of Government known as Local Government?

Is there a power to fund local governments that fail to be recognised under the Constitution? Is it not our Right for Government to be open and transparent of the mechanisms used to do that which appears to be beyond the power of the Parliament? We present this and encourage any correction to establish the truth.

2 pages.

Letter FOI19106


If you can spare a few dollars for the creators of this website to continue their research to bring you more great content, any amount, no matter how great or small, would be greatly appreciated.

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Why that ABC Four Corners episode was excellent journalism

The ABC’s Four Corners episode exposing misogyny in Parliament was not biased against the Liberal Party, writes Chris Haviland.

THE ABC’s Four Corners program “Inside the Canberra Bubble”, an expose of inappropriate behaviour within the Morrison Government’s Cabinet ranks, certainly caused a stir within the Government and its cheerleaders in the News Corp media.

The program made allegations against Ministers Christian Porter and Alan Tudge, much of which was based on interviews with former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and former Liberal staffer Rachelle Miller, who had an affair with Tudge, her boss.

This Government has been at war with the ABC ever since its election in 2013. It has cut the ABC’s funding by nearly $1 billion since then, despite a pathetic attempt at denial by the latest Communications Minister, Paul Fletcher.

Some bonk ban: Ministers in the sack Morrison won't sack

I was Labor’s candidate against Paul Fletcher in his safe seat of Bradfield in 2019. Despite being a safe Liberal seat, the locals love their ABC. I campaigned against the Government’s savage cuts to the ABC budget, as well as on climate change. We achieved a 4.5% swing against the Government, despite Labor’s overall election loss.

Yet Fletcher was then announced as the new Communications Minister, in charge of the ABC. And in no time, the Australian Federal Police had carried out that infamous raid on the ABC’s Ultimo headquarters, all because Four Corners has exposed some atrocities by Australian SAS personnel in Afghanistan. 

Now, Paul Fletcher has written to ABC Chair Ita Buttrose, demanding the answers to 15 questions about another excellent Four Corners program.  

This article does not seek to cover all 15 questions, simply the predictable, yet lame accusations of ABC bias against the Liberal Party.

At Question 11, Fletcher asks:

‘Does the board consider that it is consistent with the duty of impartiality that the program deals with allegations solely against Liberal MPs? Does the board say that there are no such relationships involving Labor, Green or independent politicians?’

Then at Question 14, he asks:

‘Why should an objective observer not conclude that the program evidenced clear bias against the Liberal Party.’

There are three reasons which clearly show that the self-serving and predictable claim of anti-Liberal Party bias does not withstand critical analysis.

First, the Liberals are in Government (with the Nationals). Labor, the Greens and Independents are not. Basically, the allegations raised in the program were about ministerial standards and the Ministerial Code of Conduct, including, but not limited to, Malcolm Turnbull’s “bonk ban” relating to ministers and their staff.

Toxic masculinity: How 'these things happen in Australia'

If you’re not in government, you have no ministers. Of course MPs from the other parties were not scrutinised for this particular program. That should be easy enough for even the most partisan or dim-witted conservative to understand.

Second, Labor and the Greens, by their very nature, have a stronger sense of equality for women. That is not to say they are perfect. Far from it. But a social conscience helps.

One could simply assert that parties of the left or centre-left are less likely to discriminate against women or behave badly towards them, just because of their ideology. However that would be far too simplistic.

However, both Labor and the Greens are demonstrably more equal in their Parliamentary representation. Labor has all but met its affirmative action target of 40% of MPs being women and are well placed to reach 45% by 2025, the target set at the ALP’s 2015 National Conference.

The Greens have smaller numbers, but often have more women than men in their parliamentary ranks.

Christian Porter avoids question over alleged staff relationship

More women in parliament means a better culture and has largely overcome the “boys club” atmosphere that still clearly besets the conservative parties.

That of course still doesn’t guarantee that problems won’t arise from time to time. But if they do, it is most likely that they are dealt with “in house” as colleagues would not be impressed by any sexist or misogynistic behaviour within their ranks.

Third, Fletcher asks whether MPs private lives are anyone’s business, or whether publicly exposing them is in the public interest. In most cases, people’s private lives should be just that: private and none of our business.

However, there is a clear exception to this: when an MP’s behaviour conflicts directly with his or her stated positions on issues, especially moral issues.

Both of the Ministers named in the program have been very quick to position themselves as being for “traditional family values” and “traditional marriage”. Both advocated for the no case on marriage equality. However, their behaviour as revealed on the program conveyed a hypocrisy, which makes their private behaviour fair game for public interest journalism.

As Malcolm Turnbull said so succinctly on the program, often the proponents of family values and “traditional marriage” are also well-practised in “traditional adultery”.

Barnaby, Turnbull and #BonkBan: Parliament is now officially a joke

Former Labor PM Bob Hawke was said to be a “serial womaniser” However, I am not aware that he ever had an affair with a staffer, either his own or someone else’s.

Furthermore, Hawke never moralised about the sort of issues that would leave him open to a charge of hypocrisy and he never disrespected women.

It was the Hawke Government, in fact, under Minister Susan Ryan, that introduced a raft of legislation including the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 and various pieces of legislation around workplace sexual harassment in both the public and private sectors.

In my day job then, I was responsible for implementing these major cultural changes in the workplace in a large Government agency. It was ground-breaking stuff and really did change workplace culture, for the benefit of women but also the workforce as a whole.

The Liberal Party has some catching up to do.

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Chris Haviland is a former Federal MP. He was the Labor candidate for Bradfield in the 2019 Federal Election. Chris is also a committee member of the Northern Sydney Friends of the ABC.

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Retired general says US special forces grabbed servers in Germany

By EDITOR, CAIRNS NEWS

Evidence showing foreign connections of Dominion Voting Systems.

RETIRED US Lieutenant General Thomas McInerney says US special forces loyal to President Trump did in fact raid a CIA facility in Frankfurt Germany and seize a Dominion Voting System server farm in November, despite denials by Snopes and other establishment “fact checkers”.

The general was unable to confirm other reports that five US soldiers were killed in a fire fight at the facility. Speaking on WVWtv.com on November 29, the general also did not comment on rumours about the death of CIA Director Gina Haspel, also (possibly correctly) denied by the fact checkers. Haspel was rumoured to have been severely injured at the site and later died at Guantanamo Bay military prison.

However the seizing of servers seems to correlate with an affidavit in Sidney Powell’s “Kraken” lawsuit against the states of Georgia and Michigan. It was submitted by a “white hat hacker” previously with the 305th US Military Intelligence Battalion and contains extensive evidence of  Dominion Voting Systems, Edison Research and related companies linking to sites in Serbia, Iran and China and being highly vulnerable to hacking. General McInerney said Kraken was the nickname for the 305th Battalion, hence Powell’s repeated references to “releasing the Kraken”.

Screenshot of General McInerney’s interview on WVW Broadcasting Network.

“A public network scan of Dominionvoting.com on 2020-11-08 (Nov. 8) revealed the following inter-relationships and revealed 13 unencrypted passwords for dominion employees, and 75 hashed passwords available in TOR nodes,” the hacker wrote in the affidavit. He produced more than 20 images of charts, diagrams and data in his statement.

“In my professional opinion, this affidavit presents unambiguous evidence that Dominion Voter Systems and Edison Research have been accessible and were certainly compromised by rogue actors, such as Iran and China. By using servers and employees connected with rogue actors and hostile foreign influences combined with numerous easily discoverable leaked credentials, these organizations neglectfully allowed foreign adversaries to access data and intentionally provided access to their infrastructure in order to monitor and manipulate elections, including the most recent one in 2020,” the hacker stated.

Gen. McInerney told   WVWtv.com: “Now Sidney and the President, [and] who I believe General Flynn, have got the Kraken – the 305 military intelligence organisation – working with them, because in all of this we have not seen any footprints of the DOJ, of the FBI nor the CIA on the friendly side. It’s been on the deep state side.”

The general confirmed that “The Kraken” was one of Sidney Powell’s sources in her legal action. “But the important thing is – now get this – they identified China, Iran and Russia as being involved in this and manipulating the votes,” the general said.

“In addition, the US Special Forces Command seized a server farm in Frankfurt, Germany, because they were sending this data from those five states or six states through the internet to Spain and then into Frankfurt Germany. Special operations forces seized that facility. So they have those servers. And they know all the data they are providing.”

McInerney also said he believed President Trump knew “the steal” was coming, hence his Executive Order issued for sanctions for interference in US elections by foreign powers. The timing of the hacker’s scan of Dominion, November 8, would also suggest the Trump team gained access to servers early in November just after the election on the 3rd, in order to freeze data.

In other developments, a federal judge overseeing attorney Powell’s election lawsuit in Georgia reissued a temporary restraining order late on Sunday night (Nov. 30), declaring that election officials were barred from wiping or altering Dominion voting machines used in the November election.

The emergency order was the third issued in so many hours over Powell’s lawsuit seeking an emergency order to see “voting machines be seized and impounded immediately for forensic audit by plaintiffs’ experts.”

Republicans fighting the election fraud have now held hearings in the legislatures of Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona and Michigan. This is part of the strategy to highlight the very real evidence of vote fraud the media and Democrats have been denying exist. Even the “fact checker” Snopes is stupid enough to claim

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The poisonous legacy of robodebt

The $1.2 billion settlement of the Centrelink robodebt class action should have been seen as another stumble in a Government display marked by flailing and floundering. 

But Prime Minister Scott Morrison remains located in a polling stratosphere, certainly relative to his Labor counterpart, Anthony Albanese, who increasingly resembles a caretaker leader awaiting quick dispatch.

Of all the disasters, improprieties and lashings of corruption that might be attributable to the Morrison Government, robodebt remains most hideous and typical of government callousness. 

It took human agency out of the equation; it targeted the vulnerable using an income averaging system instead of reported fortnightly income designed to recover overpayments to social welfare recipients, starting in 2016 but casting its cold focus back to 2010. 

The crimes of 'robodebt'

It was given a heavy dressing of euphemism, a measure to strengthen “the integrity of welfare payments”. And it was led by Scott Morrison, who was keen to stress the more mechanical, rather than humane elements, of welfare. 

The media release from May 12 2015 chills the blood, suggesting a deeply suspicious Minister keen to keep his hands on the government’s cash reserves while using the crude language of law enforcement. 

It read:

‘We will put a strong welfare cop on the beat focusing on deterrence, detection, investigation and prosecution to track down suspected welfare fraud and non-compliance.’ 

The new system would focus on:

‘High-risk geographic hot spots, unexplained wealth, undeclared income, and undisclosed changes of customer circumstances, which can lead to ineligibility for payments.’

During the course of its brutal life, this welfare cop on the beat sent out, through Centrelink, some 470,000 notices to unsuspecting recipients, accusing them of receiving excess payments. The overpaid sums had to be returned promptly – a window of opportunity of 21 days was given.

This same generous scheme was assailed by both the courts and specialist opinion. Between April and September 2017, Professor Terry Carney of the Australian Appeals Tribunal found in five judgments against Centrelink, claiming that it could not recover a debt in an exercise exclusively using a person’s annual income to claim overpayment over a shorter period of time. 

Robodebt claims the life of a 19-year-old mum

In November 27, 2019, the Federal Court ruled in the Amato case that income averaging and penalty fines were unlawful.

A gruff Peter van Onselen, writing in The Australian, was unimpressed: 

‘Rather than admit its mistake as soon as it came to light, the government fought tooth and nail to defend its missteps, settling only at the last minute before the court case was due to start.’ 

The result: $1.2 billion in a class action settlement. Of that amount, refunds of $721 million will be made to 373,000 people, $112 million earmarked as compensation and $398 million in cancelled debts making up the rest.

The Government remains resolutely above responsibility in this regard. As a spokesman for Government Services, Minister Stuart Robert said dismissively:

‘The Commonwealth’s agreement to settle the matter is not an admission of liability by the Commonwealth, and does not reflect any acceptance by the Commonwealth of the allegations that the Commonwealth, or any of its officers, had any knowledge of unlawfulness associated with the income compliance program.’  

Robert also prefers to term the final $112 million in the settlement ‘interest payments’ rather than ‘compensation’, as the law firm Gordon Legal describes it.

Scott Morrison's robodebt to society

Labor’s Government Services spokesman, Bill Shorten, who has made campaigning against robodebt his undying mission, is astonished that “no one in this Government is taking real responsibility for this $1.2 billion scam”. 

Shorten also found the stubbornness of the Government astonishing: 

“I wish they had done their homework. It shouldn’t have taken until the day of the court hearing for the Commonwealth to come good.”

Morrison, for his part, has no interest in any actual compensation measures. He coolly explained to The New Daily in an interview:  

‘Income averaging has been found not to be a way of raising debt that can be relied upon. And the Government has changed its practice.’

This is all a tad rich coming from a man who was instrumental in formulating the scheme, then ensuring its application. Instead of admitting to fault and liability for a program that destroyed lives (the Prime Minister believes a basic apology for “hurt or harm” was sufficient), Morrison has busied himself with hectoring distractions, such as the removal of Christine Holgate from her position as Australia Post Chief. 

Stuart 'Robodebt' Robert and unfunded empathy

The sum involved in the attack on the CEO was somewhat smaller than $1.2 billion: the issue with Holgate had been her supposedly injudicious purchase of Cartier watches valued at $19,000 as executive bonuses for her staff. 

He thundered in Parliament with unconvincing moral outrage:

“We are the shareholders of Australia post on behalf of the Australian people. The chief executive … has been instructed to stand aside, and she doesn’t wish to do that, she can go.” 

Unfortunately for Australia, the wrong person went. And just to illustrate the point, Morrison is happy to keep Robert secure and in place. Government heads won’t be rolling any time soon.

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Dr Binoy Kampmark was a Cambridge Scholar and is an Independent Australia columnist and lecturer at RMIT University. You can follow Dr Kampmark on Twitter @BKampmark.

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A Second Open Letter From a Senior Constable in the NSW Police Force

A demonstrator offers a flower to military police at an anti-Vietnam War protest at The Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, 21 October 1967 (Wikipedia)

Sourced from advocateme

November 29, 2020

To: Michael Fuller

Police Commissioner of New South Wales

RE: Open Letter Concerning the use of Police in the discriminatory targeting of certain groups during the current “Pandemic”

As a Senior Member of the New South Wales Police Force Public Order & Riot Squad(PORS), I have been involved in many large-scale events and protests since 2009. Until 2016, PORS Commander Chief Superintendent Steve Cullenran the unit in a manner that approached each mission, with consistency and without prejudice.

Since his departure, the unit appears to have been overrun by bureaucrats and we find ourselves in a situation where a once cohesive unit, has been replaced with uncertainty, division, and conflicts, driven by increased red-tape and competitiveness, causing the demise of good judgment in policing.

This situation has intensified during the declared National State of Emergency, as Police are asked to enforce arbitrary rules against the population, without any verifiable and objective scientific basis, in the name of public health and safety, often infringing upon basic human rights in the process. Excessive force is being deployed with increasing regularity, causing harm when it is apparently meant for good and the public is losing respect, trust, and faith in us.

I was shocked when I learned that New South Wales is NOT operating under a declared a State of Emergency. Yet the police are being compelled to enforce directions on the basis they do when it is clearly without these additional powers. This is contemptible and I have serious concerns over the legality of the infringement notices we are being asked to enforce and issue.

The response to COVID-19 and our directions are often confusing, so I make the point that if the enforcers are unclear, how can we expect the public to be. This has come from what appears to be a rushed response that is perplexing, and its after-effects are harmful on many levels.

I have read and researched the contents of the open letter sent by officer Alexander Cooney,dated October 26, 2020 [1] and I agree with its contents and echo its sentiments wholeheartedly and strongly support the motion to investigate these assertions and start questioning what is demanded of us, instead of yielding to demands, because they are clearly infringing upon human rights and coming from a place of bias and from those who are not representative or accountable to the people.

For example, we were instructed to assist with the BLM and Armenian protests, yet more recently we have been told to “make an example” of people protesting anything deemed to be anti-government, with a “get them quick” attitude. Use of terms like “anti-everything hippies” to describe these protestors, is indicative of the ever-increasing prejudice coming from above.

To further illustrate this concerning prejudice and unprofessional conduct, an Inspector of PORS, in a recent debrief about one of the “Anti Lockdown” protests, has made obscenely derogatory remarks about a child with her mother, who were peacefully protesting. This raises serious moral and ethical questions about the present state of the force and the potential dangers it poses to our State and country.

Furthermore, I have been involved in protests where directives given on the ground, have clearly put peaceful protestors and innocent bystanders in harm’s way and in direct conflict with the police. I am sure you would agree that having the support of the community is in our best interest.

When the NRL grand final was packed with a 40,000strong presence and permissions granted to the pub across the road to have its liquor licence extended to accept double patronage with over 1,000 people drinking. A constant flow of people heading into the precinct from the nearby train station, PORS were instructed to focus their attention on a small protest held in between those events that had to be broken up for alleged “safety reasons”. Anyone can see the blatant hypocrisy in such double standards and that there is another agenda at play and that it has nothing to do with public health and safety.

It appears that the medical establishment has taken over the decision making through unelected Chief Health Officers. Their decisions corner us into relenting to their demands, so questioning the factual basis of these decisions should be encouraged. If there is truly no conspiracy here, why aren’t we having the conversation? Why are we being silenced? Why are we being ostracised for having a differing view? Aren’t these issues the very cornerstone of our democracy?

When we assume a person has committed a crime, we conduct an investigation,yet when a citizen assumes wrongdoing by its government,it’s called a conspiracy theory. If this is not covert social conditioning, then I put it to you that we need to be openly discussing the points raised in Alexander Cooney’s letter.

In the Oath of Office, I swore that peace would be protected to the best of my power and all offences against that peace, defended faithfully to the law. I am aligned to this and the NSW Police Force statement of values which is about integrity, lawfulness, preserving human rights, improving community quality of life, striving for civil and personal satisfaction, capitalising on the wealth of human resources, while making efficient and economical use of public resources, and ensuring authority is exercised responsibly.

Infringements of peace are occurring right now and we must act to defend this and uphold our values, so as a self-respecting and proud officer of the NSW police, I cannot flout them by allowing this conduct to continue unchallenged. And as weeks have passed since Alexander Cooney’s open letter was received and clearly, no further probing of its contents done, I have accepted his challenge to write a similar letter and show my solidarity, in the hope that our requests will be taken seriously, so we can persuade positive change and restore community trust in our otherwise honourable police force.

Regards,

Kevin Dawson

Senior Constable, 42923

New South Wales Police Force, Public Order & Riot Squad

Below is the first letter from Senior Constable Alexander Cooney:

Click to access e12357_2548d50a7bb541acaa2c0705f46f6759.pdf

Click to access e12357_d50d93c3b9bf4eb0ab703b96f5fc5dbe.pdf

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Time will tell whether Telstra can become a leading digital company

The proposed restructuring of Telstra is an exciting new challenge for the company. It will now all depend on the direction the execution will take.

This is the third significant opportunity for Telstra to reinvent itself.

The first time was in the late 1990s when the digital companies started to enter the market. At that time Telstra had the Yellow Pages, the BigPond internet service and a 50 per cent share in Foxtel. In my market assessments I suggested that if these assets were combined, Telstra had the potential to build a national digital company.

6G: We could be looking at techno tyranny

However, infighting between the three divisions about their own importance to Telstra and the organisation focus on vertical integration (it controlled the infrastructure, wholesale, retail and the services) to protect their monopoly, nothing eventuated. This opportunity passed by and the individual value of these assets started to shrivel away.

The next opportunity started to arrive when broadband became an important development in the early 2000s. There was clearly an interest in a National Broadband Network (NBN). However, Telstra at that time refused to structurally separate itself. If they would have launched an Infra Co at that time, they most likely would have become the builders of the NBN. They again preferred to defend their vertical integrated structure (in 2006 Peter Gerrand wrote an interesting paper on the topic of the key elements of structural separation).

They also missed this opportunity and so NBN Co was born, building the nation’s access broadband network.

It is rather ironic that now nearly two decades later, the pressure from NBN Co on Telstra is now such that it is forcing them to look at structural separation again and it is interesting that they are now looking at buying the NBN once it gets privatised.

Telstra has indeed concluded that its infrastructure is underutilised and that it can attract more revenue by selling its infrastructure services separately. For this to be successful, they will need to also have an access network, hence their interest in the NBN.

Forging a telecoms bushfire emergency plan

As most national telecommunications operators, Telstra has so far relied on the vertical integrated structure of the national telecoms operator to maximise short-term gains. They tried to become a technology company achieving similar levels of valuations of the international digital companies, but their vertical integrated structure was never going to be the right business model for that.

While they had the opportunity to establish a technical company and to be the NBN builder, they missed those opportunities. The digital market has moved on. But the infrastructure opportunity could still be a possibility. Now, 15 years later, they have recognised the value of infrastructure assets and therefore are now interested in buying the NBN.

This is another fork in the road for the company: will they be making the right decision this time? Their track record is not all that fantastic.

Nevertheless, they have bitten the bullet and are getting ready for structural separation. It will be interesting to see how they will execute this. I see great opportunities for the three companies, but the reality is that each of them will be operating in a competitive market.

These are markets where the best will win, not those who are mediocre. When you are a vertically integrated company you basically provide services at the level of the lowest common denominator. I am not saying that Telstra operates at that level.

NBN Co loss ranks highly among problems in the telecoms industry

However, they are coming from a culture where that was the case. In each of these three new companies they must become either the best or highly specialised in a niche market to compete with the other players in each of these markets.

If the new companies are hampered in this by rigid directions from Telstra Group, then they will not be able to successfully compete with the best in these markets and all three companies (and the holding company as well) will suffer.

For the restructuring to work, they will need to provide the three companies with full independence to go for the business opportunities that are in front of them.

If this fails, there will be no vertical integrated safety net for the company to fall back into. It will be very interesting to see what direction the company will take.

The investment market will follow the restructuring with great interest. Telstra has of course enormously changed since the monopolistic days of Sol Trujillo. They now have all the opportunities to get it right and create indeed three companies with increased value. This will be a massive task and the future of the company is clearly at stake.

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Paul Budde is an Independent Australia columnist and managing director of Paul Budde Consulting, an independent telecommunications research and consultancy organisation. You can follow Paul on Twitter @PaulBudde.

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The Nine-Fairfax ‘independence’ myth

When Nine acquired Fairfax, Australians were assured they needn’t worry about media diversity as Nine would be bound by the Fairfax Independence Charter but there is only one problem. Anthony Klan reports.

NINE ENTERTAINMENT’S board never signed the independence charter that governed Fairfax Media, the 180-year-old media company it took over in a mega $4.2 billion merger two years ago.

We can reveal Nine has failed to sign – or to ratify in any legally binding way – the storied charter, which underpinned the editorial integrity of several of Australia’s biggest and most influential newspapers – including the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Australian Financial Review – for the past three decades.

That is despite Nine bluffing for the past two years and implying that it had done so.

The explosive revelations go to the heart of the independence of media in Australia and come just three weeks after a Senate Inquiry into media ownership was called.

Nine spokesman Nic Christensen confirmed Nine had never signed the Fairfax Charter of Editorial Independence.

That confirmation came just over two weeks ago and was in response to a series of questions put to Nine management and its board of directors.

Hours after that confirmation, Nine CEO Hugh Marks announced his shock resignation.

In subsequent correspondence with us, Nine has failed to provide a single document – or any written evidence whatsoever – showing that it is in any way bound by the former Fairfax charter.

The Fairfax Media Charter of Editorial Independence has long been a bedrock of the Australian media landscape, especially given the size and influence of the Fairfax papers and websites and the nation’s extremely concentrated media ownership.

The charter required Fairfax journalists to be truly “independent” of whoever owned the newspapers for which they worked.

It was signed by staff of The Age in March 1988, and by the board of John Fairfax Limited (the company later changed its name to Fairfax Media) two months later, in May 1988.

It was broadened in 1990 and from February 1991, the Fairfax Charter of Editorial Independence covered staff at The Sunday Age, Sydney Morning Herald, Sun-Herald and Australian Financial Review.

The charter stated, among other things, that journalists at Fairfax publications must report

‘fairly, fully and regardless of any commercial, political or personal interests,” including those of “any proprietors, shareholders or board members.’

It stated that management couldn’t force journalists to do anything in breach of the Australian journalism Code of Ethics and that ‘full editorial control of the newspapers’ would vest with the newspapers’ editors.

‘The editors alone shall determine the daily editorial content of the newspapers’, the Fairfax Charter of Editorial Independence stated.

The importance of the charter was seen to be such that in 1991 it brought together two of Australia’s most famous political rivals, Gough Whitlam and his nemesis Malcolm Fraser.

The pair attended an October 1991 rally, organised by The Age independence committee, and urged the then ALP Hawke Government to do everything it could to prevent further media concentration.

The existence of this charter is important for many reasons. 

At a practical level, for example, if a reporter were to refuse directions because while legal, they were not in line with the charter, they would likely have little recourse if they were subsequently fired for not following those directions.

Yet not only has Nine not signed the charter, or put anything in its place, the charter doesn’t actually exist. At least not in any real or legal sense. It was a signed agreement between journalists at the then Fairfax papers and the Fairfax board.

On December 7, 2018, when Nine took over Fairfax, the Fairfax board ceased to exist. As a result, so too did the independence charter.

Weasel Words

On 26 July 2018, under Nine chairman Peter Costello, a senior LNP figure and former Federal Treasurer, Nine announced its plans to take over Fairfax.

Ten months earlier, the Federal Coalition, under Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, had succeeded in its push to water down media ownership laws, a goal it had been pursuing since it was elected in 2013.

The changes meant Nine could now buy Fairfax.

Before the changes, the long-standing “two-out-of-three” rule meant media moguls could not own television, radio and newspapers in the one market.

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Nine had television and radio — Nine Radio (previously called Macquarie Media) owns many stations including 2GB, 4BC, 3AW and 6PR. Now it could finally own newspapers too.

Allowing Nine to buy Fairfax had long been seen as a key motive behind the Coalition’s campaign to scrap the decades-old ownership restrictions.

It has delivered Nine, already a major media player, enormous influence over the nation’s media and social discourse.

Nine’s July 2018 takeover announcement raised serious concerns.

Alongside the fact that it would further erode Australia’s already woeful media ownership diversity, the news sparked widespread concerns that the quality of the Fairfax mastheads would diminish under Nine and be subject to political interference and improper commercial influence.

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Nine was well aware of these concerns and the danger they posed to it getting the Fairfax takeover over the line. It made a number of statements to hose down the concerns.

The closest thing to suggesting any actual connection whatsoever between Nine and the Fairfax Charter of Independence is a two-sentence statement on page 30 of Nine’s 354-page “Fairfax scheme” takeover document, released to the market on 12 October 2018.

It says that under the takeover the Fairfax papers will be owned by Nine. It gives a description of the Nine Charter of Editorial Independence. Then it says Nine’s Charter of Editorial Independence ‘has been unanimously endorsed by the Nine Board’.

That statement has underpinned Nine’s monstrous bluff.

And Nine continues to hold it up as alleged evidence it is actually bound by the charter.

The statement was the single piece of written evidence that Nine could provide us when we pushed Nine (repeatedly) in recent weeks to provide us with any written evidence whatsoever that there was a connection between Nine and the charter.

But the statement that Nine’s board had “endorsed” the Fairfax Charter of Independence meant little to nothing on 12 October 2018.

At the time, Nine did not own or have any control over Fairfax and it had zero legal or ethical relationship with Fairfax reporters.

In other words, any statement Nine made about honouring, “adopting” or “endorsing” the Charter of Independence before it actually owned Fairfax was effectively meaningless. Nine’s takeover of Fairfax happened on 7 December 2018.

We asked Nine when its board had made the “decision” about the Fairfax charter?

“It occurred at a board meeting prior to the merger,” Christensen wrote.

Nine’s wrangling with the truth and omissions regarding the Fairfax independence charter date back to the announcement of the takeover plans in mid-2018.

At that time, CEO Marks said Nine was “more than happy to adopt the principles of the independence charter”. However, he did not say Nine would actually sign it.

When asked on ABC’s 7.30 shortly afterwards, chairman Costello skirted around the issue.

“In a further media interview today, Costello was silent on the charter of independence,” it was reported at the time.

The journalists union, the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) was unequivocal.

MEAA president Marcus Strom said at the time:

‘Until Peter Costello…formally signs a binding document that commits Nine to adopting the charter of independence, our members will continue to be concerned and sceptical about how genuine Nine’s commitment to editorial independence really is.’ 

Sirens

Alarm bells that Nine may never have actually signed the Fairfax charter sounded last month. We had exposed that Nine’s A Current Affair had orchestrated the stunt involving far-right Senator climbing on Uluru, ostensibly as part of a “protest” against the then-upcoming closure of the sacred site to climbers.

It was revealed that despite assurances from Nine, including a public statement from A Current Affair host Tracey Grimshaw, Nine had deeply misled the public about its involvement in the stunt, which involved its reporter Martin King and Pauline Hanson climbing on Uluru against the wishes of its custodians and Federal agency Parks Australia.

White Australia: Posing for photos, ignoring Aboriginal rights

Nine had instead obtained alleged “approval” from an Indigenous “group” that existed only on Facebook, and which we revealed was set up just one week before Nine kicked off its divisive stunt. Nine allegedly then gagged that Indigenous group.

Our exposé caused a backlash over Nine’s “disgraceful”, “shocking” and “unconscionable” behaviour, including froma string of high-profile and respected journalists who demanded answers.

Despite the Hanson-Uluru expose being widely covered by media – including by The Guardian, The West Australian and the Daily Mail – not one word of it appeared in any of the former Fairfax newspapers.

That was despite the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age having run “news” of Hanson’s Uluru climb last year, both papers editorialising about her climb last October and the fact that both papers continue to carry the advertising slogan, “Independent. Always”.

Just like Hanson’s Uluru climb, it appears the “signing” of the Fairfax independence was a monumental stitch-up orchestrated by Nine Entertainment.

Early in the afternoon of Friday, November 13, two weeks ago, The Klaxon wrote to Nine. We wanted to know, simply, whether Nine had ever, in fact, signed the Fairfax Charter of Editorial Independence.

At 9.11pm that night Nine spokesman Nic Christensen responded.

‘I’d direct you to the multiple statements we made at the time of the merger about the board agreeing to sign up to the Fairfax Charter of Independence,’ he wrote.

We persisted. 

While it is true that Nine has made several vague statements regarding the Fairfax charter – that’s a matter of record – we had not seen any evidence, anywhere, that Nine had actually signed it.

We asked again: Was the Fairfax charter ever actually signed by Nine? 

At 10.25 pm on that Friday night, the response came back:

‘No.’

The following morning, a Saturday, Nine chairman Costello called an emergency meeting of Nine’s board members via video conference.

Hours later, Nine CEO Marks announced his shock resignation.

Nine’s annual general meeting – where succession matters are dealt with – had been held just two days earlier. No mention had been made of Marks leaving Nine, or that he had anything other than the full support of Nine’s board.

Nine has given no explanation for Marks’s departure.

Marks, who is unmarried, has said it was related to a relationship he was in with a former Nine senior executive Alexi Baker. Baker had reported to Marks as managing director of commercial, before she resigned on October 1, so their newly-formed relationship could continue without causing any governance concerns. 

Nine’s chairman, Costello, has repeatedly declined to comment when asked why Marks had left Nine. This raises serious governance concerns at the $4.2 billion company.

If there was any wrongdoing, or suggestions of wrongdoing or failures by Marks, CEO for five years and on Nine’s board since February 2013 before his shock resignation, investors need to know to help ensure the appropriate steps are taken to help prevent that failure, or those failures, from happening again.

When Nine took over Fairfax, the Fairfax board was dismantled. Three people who had been on the Fairfax board, Mickie Rosen, Nick Falloon and Patrick Allaway, joined the Nine board after the takeover.

Costello declined to comment when asked whether Rosen, Falloon and Allaway had been aware that Nine had never actually signed the Fairfax Charter of Editorial Independence – or ratified it in any legally binding way – before The Klaxon approached Nine about the matter on November 13.

The second response from Nine came at 10.25 pm.

‘Each new board doesn’t physically sign it,’ Christensen wrote.

This is incorrect. 

In fact, not only was the former Fairfax charter signed by the Fairfax board (and so remained in place under Fairfax was shut down) The Age Independence Committee has previously made expressly clear the requirement that it be signed by any new owner of the newspapers.

That committee has said.

‘The charter was signed by the then editors of The Age and The Sunday Age and was endorsed by the Fairfax board, including chairman Sir Zelman Cowen. We would expect any new owner to sign the charter.’

The former Fairfax Charter of Editorial Independence. Source: Supplied | The Klaxon

Independent. Always?

The Klaxon’s revelations raise serious questions around Peter Costello. The former long-time Federal Treasurer and senior LNP figure has been chairman of Nine since March 2016. Having a conspicuously, closely politically aligned figure overseeing a major TV and media network has drawn serious concerns around governance and political interference since Costello’s appointment.

The Fairfax takeover threw petrol on the situation.

It has delivered Nine, already a major media player, enormous influence over the nation’s media and social discourse.

Adding yet further to concerns of politicisation of the former Fairfax mastheads, Costello has himself previously expressed his distaste for the Fairfax Charter of Independence.

In 2012, mining billionaire Gina Rinehart, who is Australia’s richest person and known for her “far-right” political views and opposition to climate action, was seeking to take a controlling stake in Fairfax.

That move was heavily opposed by Fairfax’s journalists, who saw it as a ploy by Rinehart to gain control of the papers in order to influence their coverage and so, public opinion.

Anthony Klan is an investigative journalist. You can follow him on Twitter @Anthony_Klan. This article was originally published at The Klaxon and has been republished with permission.

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The Real Climate Story, Part 2: Volcanoes, Ice and Earth’s Elliptical Orbit

by Gil May

[This is the second part of the climate series. Link to Part 1 here]

Volcanic CO2

Most of the atmospheric CO2 is earth-generated, originating from the natural chemical processes of rocks, volcanoes, and deep-sea thermal vents: From 1,581 land volcanoes and an estimated 139,096 active undersea volcanoes. These release huge volumes of CO2 in violent eruptions from great depths blasting kilometres high under oceans, where the massive water pressure causes pools of liquid CO2 on the seafloor, which occasionally rises to the surface increasing atmospheric CO2.

It is impossible to measure volcanic CO2; several tried with mythical figures fanatics are still quoting.

There are 138 volcanoes in Antarctica 2 active above ice others recently discovered below the ice.

Almost all undersea eruptions recorded in the past 25 years occur in the first six months of the year, earth is closest to the Sun in January and farthest away in July. Earth gets squeezed and un-squeezed by the Sun’s gravitational pull at a rapidly varying rate as it spins daily, causing pressure eruptions.    

Many do not understand the Gakkel Ridge an underwater mountain chain 1,800 kilometers long from Greenland to Siberia under the Arctic-Ice is afire continuously oozing molten rock forming a new crust. In the valley the two 12 km wide coastal plates are coming apart causing serious volcanic activity with red-hot magma rising from deep inside the Earth has blown the tops off dozens of submarine volcanoes four kilometers below the ice where eruptions as big as the one that buried Pompeii, with massive CO2 discharge. (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution study, Massachusetts, US). The Arctic Ocean is the smallest and shallowest of all oceans and subject to volcanic temperature effect nearby.

Indonesia’s Mt Toba super-volcanic eruption 75,000 years ago, was followed by a ‘volcanic winter’ of about ten years, causing a 1,000-year cooling of Earth, with the near extinction of humans and other lesser ones also caused irreversible changes.

In 1883 the eruption of Krakatoa one of the worst geologic disasters of modern times over 36,000 people died, making the loudest sound ever recorded being heard 4,500 km away in Perth. Global temp dropped 5 degrees, causing a year without summer, crops failed worldwide with starvation across many lands. Plagues swept many areas; tree rings didn’t show normal growth for fifteen years.

An unexpected outcome was the great improvements of the bicycle as horses became too expensive to feed.  (We remember that from school)

Volcanoes blast ash, CO2, and sulfur dioxide into the upper atmosphere for years, where it converts to acid, reflecting Sunlight cooling earth, volcanic ash has caused years of climate change and crop failures many times in history.  Sedimentary rocks show volcanic acidification of oceans is a natural part of earth activity over millions of years.

CO2 emissions were massive, but the Earth became cool, not warmer. Just that one major volcano Krakatoa produced more CO2 than man has ever produced—the current amount of CO2 (0.04%) is irrelevant compared to natural and volcanic emissions.  Manmade CO2 is 4.5 parts per 10,000,000,000 parts (10 B) irrelevant.

The Earth’s natural Carbon-Sink capacities can cope by absorption into oceans, soil, limestone, and plants.

The Earth’s volcanism is tied to minute shifts in motion of the Earth’s orbit around the sun that occur every 100,000 years. These shifts would trigger ice ages and warm periods, both of which affect global sea levels.

Climate Change Facts –– HERE IS HOW IT WORKS

We have seen that minute amounts of CO2 do not affect the climate, but something does — What is it?

Here are the facts.

Factors affecting Earth temperature are varied and complex—that raging nuclear furnace in the sky— ‘The Sun’—has always controlled global warming and cooling. The tilt of the Earth’s axis (obliquity of the ecliptic) defines the seasons in temperate climates. The elliptical orbit of Earth can vary up to five percent, which affects the solar radiation that strikes the Earth and surface temperature.

Years ago, the Sahara Desert and Central Australia had forests due to the axis tilt which reverses at regular intervals.

World weather cycles are caused by changes in the shape of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun, the tilt of the Earth’s rotation, and the wobble of earth’s axis causing hotter summers and colder winters.  The solar orbit and axis tilt-shift every 41,000 years, a few degrees of tilt warm the northern hemisphere landmass causing ice melt, circular orbits can cool earth into an ice age.   [Youtube]

Every 21,000 years Earth gets a bit of a wobble on its axis from 22.1 degrees to 24.5 degrees — currently, it is 23.4 degrees. Each of those orbits can put us a bit further from the Sun causing hotter summers and colder winters.  This effects the Earth’s internal molten mantel waves causing the surface to bulge affecting the level of seafloor, gravitational spin (1,670 km) causes an equatorial bulge of 42.47  km — 21.36 km on each side, affecting ocean currents, temperatures and weather patterns, land rises and falls changing the ocean levels—it is how the Earth factory works. The equatorial bulge slowly wanders over centuries and low-lying land in the path will get wet.

When weight-shift imbalances the earth’s gyroscopic rotation or angle, the earth’s plates move to return the earth to a balanced spin. The Industrial Revolution literally moved mountains of soil and rock to build cities and dams, billions of tonnes.  This has created massive weight shifts the gyroscopic effect is trying to correct, this affects temperature and plate movement (continental drift) which again affects temperature.

NASA acknowledges the changes occurring to planetary weather patterns are caused by changes in the earth’s solar orbit and axial tilt, which are completely natural and normal as per the Milankovitch Theory.

The axis wobble, tilt and gravitational effect of the Sun cause the earth’s magnetic north pole to wander at the current rate of 55 km a year up from 14.5 km a year; last century it was in Canada, in 2000 it was in Greenland, now its heading to Siberia. There has been 183 pole reversals in the last 83 million years.  The poles flip every 200,000 to 300,000 years, it has been about 780,000 since the last one, so it is long overdue, such would have catastrophic consequences destroying our electrical system, leaving us exposed to dangerous high-level solar radiation.

That will create a memorable climate change event: If any of the Green history deniers survive — they will probably blame it on CO2.

Superimposed on the daily solar cycle is the monthly lunar cycle, driven by the orbit of the Moon around the Earth. These two cycles interact to produce variations in atmospheric pressure and tides, and currents in the oceans and the atmosphere. These are the daily weather makers.

Example only: Showing how axis tilt controls the climate.

IMPORTANT UNDERSTANDING

When supernovas collapsed millions of years ago, they discharged subatomic particles, these Cosmic-rays consistently strike Earth, when they meet water-vapour rising from the oceans they cause the formation of water droplets—making clouds. When Sun-spots form, which are massive nuclear reactions many times larger than the Earth with intense magnetic fields causing solar-winds which swirl around the Earth, these solar-winds deflect the Cosmic-rays from striking Earth which results in less cloud formation and more heat from the Sun warms the Earth.

When there are fewer Sunspots, more Cosmic-rays reach Earth, more clouds are formed, less Sun gets through and the Earth cools (from moderate to ice-ages) — IT IS THE SUN THAT DRIVES CLIMATE CHANGE.

It is the friction of the sola-winds sliding across the atmosphere that creates the Aurora’s, the dancing lights in the sky.

Friction of the sola-winds causing the Aurora’s

From Space

We cannot change the Sun—the intensity of the Sun’s magnetic field has more than doubled in the 20th Century; coupled with massive undersea volcanic activity and CO2 discharge and you have ocean temperature and acidity changes affecting ocean currents and weather patterns—and there is nothing we can do about it except record it.

Miniscule variations of CO2 are not in the equation, they are irrelevant. Yet many cannot grasp that simple axiom.

ICE MELT

The History-Denier Greens, Politicians and others regularly tell us the arctic ice is melting and quote NASA figures to support their great alarm. They quote the summer melt figures repetitively, if we were to add all their quoted kilometres of summer ice melts over the last ten years there would not be much left of Antarctica The fools deliberately do not quote the winter-freeze figures that show that every winter ice is reformed. They use very selective fraudulent quotations to misrepresent every facet of their nonsense theory. 

ADDITIONAL CLIMATE CAUSATIVE FACTORS

WORLD EARTHQUAKES

On Remembrance Day 11 November 2019, in just one day there were 113 earthquakes worldwide, this is happening almost every day and is part of factors affecting our climate, often interlinked with volcanic and undersea activity.

In January 2020 there were 11,186 earthquakes worldwide.

WATER VAPOUR

Water vapour is the most potent greenhouse gas. Less cloud produces warmer temperatures— Climate Change is governed by many variable factors not CO2.  There have been Ice-Ages when CO2 was many times higher than now. From the Little-Ice-Age (1300 – 1850 AD) to the Medieval Warm Period (900 – 1300 AD) CO2 neither led nor followed temperature variations, it had no impact in either direction.

Finnish scientists spearheaded the research, releasing a paper entitled:

No Experimental Evidence for the Significant Anthropogenic Climate Change.”

Further reference facts: https://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/ciencia/ciencia_globalwarmingpseudo.htm

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JOHN PILGER: Britain’s class war on children

Poverty is still a major issue in Britain, perpetuated by the elitist attitudes of the Johnson Government, writes John Pilger.

WHEN I FIRST reported on child poverty in Britain, I was struck by the faces of children I spoke to, especially the eyes. They were different — watchful, fearful.

In Hackney in 1975, I filmed Irene Brunsden’s family. Irene told me she gave her two-year-old a plate of Corn Flakes. “She doesn’t tell me she’s hungry, she just moans. When she moans, I know something is wrong.”

“How much money do you have in the house?” I asked.

“Five pence,” she replied.

Irene said she might have to take up prostitution, “for the baby’s sake”. Her husband Jim, a truck driver who was unable to work because of illness, was next to her. It was as if they shared a private grief.

Coronavirus demonstrates that global poverty hurts all of us

This is what poverty does. In my experience, its damage is like the damage of war; it can last a lifetime, spread to loved ones and contaminate the next generation. It stunts children, brings on a host of diseases and, as unemployed Harry Hopwood in Liverpool told me, “it’s like being in prison”.

This prison has invisible walls. When I asked Harry’s young daughter if she ever thought that one day she would live a life like better-off children, she said unhesitatingly: “No.”

What has changed 45 years later? At least one member of an impoverished family is likely to have a job — a job that denies them a living wage. Incredibly, although poverty is more disguised, countless British children still go to bed hungry and are ruthlessly denied opportunities.

What has not changed is that poverty is the result of a disease that is still virulent yet rarely spoken about — class.

Study after study shows that the people who suffer and die early from the diseases of poverty brought on by a poor diet, sub-standard housing and the priorities of the political elite and its hostile “welfare” officials are working people. In 2020, one in three preschool British children suffers like this.

In making my recent film, The Dirty War on the NHS, it was clear to me that the savage cutbacks to the NHS and its privatisation by the Blair, Cameron, May and Johnson governments had devastated the vulnerable, including many NHS workers and their families. I interviewed one low-paid NHS worker who could not afford her rent and was forced to sleep in churches or on the streets.

A British family from the film Smashing Kids, 1975. (Photograph: John Garrett )

At a food bank in central London, I watched young mothers looking nervously around as they hurried away with old Tesco bags of food and washing powder and tampons they could no longer afford, their young children holding on to them. It is no exaggeration that at times I felt I was walking in the footprints of Dickens. 

Boris Johnson has claimed that 400,000 fewer children are living in poverty since 2010 when the Conservatives came to power. This is a lie, as the Children’s Commissioner has confirmed. In fact, more than 600,000 children have fallen into poverty since 2012; the total is expected to exceed 5 million. This, few dare say, is a class war on children.

Old Etonian Johnson is maybe a caricature of the born-to-rule class, but his “elite” is not the only one. All the parties in Parliament, notably if not especially Labour – like much of the bureaucracy and most of the media – have scant if any connection to the “streets”, to the world of the poor, of the “gig economy”, of battling a system of Universal Credit that can leave you without a penny and in despair.

Last week, the Prime Minister and his “elite” showed where their priorities lay. In the face of the greatest health crisis in living memory when Britain has the highest COVID-19 death toll in Europe and poverty is accelerating as the result of a punitive “austerity” policy, he announced £16.5 billion (AU$29.8 billion) for “defence”. This makes Britain, whose military bases cover the world, the highest military spender in Europe.

And the enemy? The real one is poverty and those who impose it and perpetuate it.  

John Pilger’s 1975 film, Smashing Kids, can be viewed at Smashing Kids.

[embedded content]

John Pilger is a regular contributor to Independent Australia and a distinguished journalist and filmmaker. You can follow John on Twitter @JohnPilger.

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