Is Tony Abbott the most radical and visionary PM since Gough?

Labor Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam came to power with a rich vision of an Australia shaking off it’s old “British Empire” image and engaging in the Asia region. His vision for change in this country held many internal shake ups as well. The provision of basic medical services free for all Australians, the connection of pensions to average weekly male earnings, abolition of university fees, launching community health centres, successfully pushing for equal pay for women performing the same types of work as men, the institution of “no fault” divorce and many other achievements.

A look at the LNP’s first budget shows the signs of wanting to create long-term change in our society as well.

The medical co-payment, which kick in on 1 July 2015, is a step towards dismantling the fundamental promise of free basic medical services for all Australians. The medical insurance industry has applied concerted pressure on governments over the last 30 years to keep the Government funded health care at a minimal level so as to ensure the steady growth of their business. They were afforded some assistance in this under the Howard Government with a measure that increased the Medicare Levy component of taxation for those without private health cover. Inherent in the IPA fed Abbott vision is the complete dismantling of Government funded health care. It sees the complete privatisation of the health sector as a benefit to the country. It is then, perhaps, odd that the US Government has introduced a system of Government supported health insurance into a country where all health care has been in private hands for a very long time, because there was an increasing number of people not being treated for health problems because they could not afford it.  The long-term consequences for the fabric of our social system would be profound.

The change of the method of indexation for pensions, which will begin on 1 July 2017, after the end of the first, and maybe only, term of this Government, moves away from the concept underpinning Whitlam’s decision that pensions should reflect not just what is required to meet increases in the cost of living but also a standard of life for which the worker has struggled to provide for themselves and others through the payment of taxation, all their working life. Abbott’s choice, coupled with extending the age at which one qualifies for the pension by a further five years, slaps down the idea that a worker is worthy of their pay and that their contribution to the lifestyle enjoyed by their fellow Australians, through taxation, is of any value once they stop working. It straight out insulting. The budget announced a three year freeze on eligibility thresholds and no alternative adjustment mechanism until indexation commences in 2017. I believe, in such circumstances, pensions will free-fall against the current levels of wages, with no safety net of any kind, until 1/07/2015.

We have seen a return of University fees since Whitlam, but in a regulated fashion through Government support, linked to conditions which lessened the financial burden on students. The budget will see the de-regulation of the Universities’ capacity to determine their fees and the changes to the HECS model will disproportionately increase the burden on graduates. The driver behind Whitlam’s initiative was to increase the level of qualified people in Australia to expand and improve our capacity as a nation of researchers and inventors, as innovators and achievers. We have become world leaders in many fields because of this far-sighted policy. The Abbott vision on the other hand is to make Universities into more potent revenue raising machines to take the burden off Government to fund advances in Australia, They are happy to share the profits future scientist, engineers, surgeons and so on make but won’t fund the necessary education. They have promised a Medical Future Fund, allegedly paid for trough some of the medical co-payment, though I doubt there will be direct Government funding for research, but rather partnerships with private enterprise. Some may see that as a good and worthy path to follow, but I have concerns that the “returns” to Australia, and I don’t just mean financial, will be lessened. That is to say, a new drug, engineering process or such is developed in Australia in partnership with an overseas corporation. The production of the new invention then moves offshore to a country where labour prices are cheaper. The nation loses jobs in the production areas. In a nation where there is a shrinking manufacturing sector and, therefore, a shrinking skills base and increasing unemployment, the Australia of 20 years time may not  have a “class” of skilled workers and the only jobs available to young Australians who can’t afford university will be unskilled jobs.

Community health services have been a vital part of maintaining and raising the overall level of health in our society for decades, They take the pressure off hospitals and their broad disbursement increases the contact with the people who need it most. Most community health services provide a range of forms of assistance attending to the variety of needs, from new mothers, mentally ill people and respite for their carers, children’s health and indigenous health, among other things. The genesis of the vision was the need for centres in neighbourhoods, regional and larger rural centres where access to hospitals was difficult and often costly. The LNP mantra denies that the Government should have responsibility for such services. This is echoed a state level as well. Funding has been cut at a federal level to the States and the States have closed or have flagged they will dramatically reduce funding levels for such services. At present, many community services receive assistance from community-minded organisations such as Rotary, LIONS, and so on. The Government is cost shifting to such organisations and if they don’t have the capacity to make up the difference, and most can’t, the service will close. Another rent in the fabric of our society as part of Abbott’s future vision of Australia.

The last matter on which I wish to touch is equality of pay between the sexes and against our current standards of living. At present, the minimum wage is determined by a statutory body, equal pay for equal work is enshrined in statute as well. The creation of a “living wage” dates to the “Harvester Judgement” of 1907. Justice Higgins, the judge on the case, decided that the test of a fair and reasonable wage was ‘the normal needs of the average employee regarded as a human being living in a civilized community’. He also said that the pay of the employee should not be dependent on the profits of the employer. The concept of equal work for equal pay came into the industrial scene in Australia in 1960, but it remained a concept only for some time, and did not specify it as applying to women. When Whitlam came to power he, through his Minister, applied pressure for the case to be re-opened and a determination made. In 1972 it was decided that women would be awarded with entirely equal pay. That is, 100 per cent of the male wage. The decision of the Arbitration Commission said that women who were performing the same work as men should get the same award rate of pay. It meant that you could no longer have lower female rates for the same job. This decision only covered women working under federal awards, about 40% of women workers. Since then the fight to extend this to other awards, State awards and so on has continued to be fought, largely successfully.

Abbott’s vision, shared by all his Neo-Liberal or Neo-Conservative (you chose you preferred tag) colleagues is that the cost of labour should be determined by the free market. In other words, no Government intervention as to what is a fair and reasonable wage, nor any need for women to be paid equally, no award system to guarantee conditions and, in all likelihood, no Government regulations regarding workplace health and safety. It prefers a future where Gina Rinehart’s $2.00 per day could be the norm. It would be a “No work, No pay” system with no sick leave, no annual leave and no long service leave.

Yes, Tony Abbott, backed by his corporate friends and his IPA advisors, has a very different view of Australia in the future. One I find totally abhorrent.


Budget emergency or a gambler in trouble?

We have a responsibility as citizens of our nation to do the heavy lifting. Not the rubbish Hockey is talking about, but the heavy lifting of critical thought. We should nor just read the news but analyse it. Examine the use of language, the way the story is presented and what is covered and what is ignored. This excellent article by the quite brilliant Kaye Lee dose just that.

The Australian Independent Media Network

hockey During those first few weeks after the election, as over half a nation sat there in shock contemplating what had just happened, presumably flushed with joy at having the keys to the safe, Joe Hockey made the astonishing decision to borrow $8.8 billion to give to the Reserve Bank.

Hockey tried to sell this as crucial to our economy in giving the Reserve Bank a buffer zone to address future crises. What a load of hooey.

The RBA deputy governor, Philip Lowe, ‘said the level of the bank’s capital reserves had not been keeping him awake at night’. The board had wanted to rebuild the capital level over time but the government wanted to do it immediately.

In a speech at a Sydney investment conference in October, Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens backed up comments by the RBA deputy governor that the bank was happy to rebuild its capital…

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A Brief and Rather Satirical Look at Recent Australian Political History



Historians and other yarn spinners like to tell us our nation was built on equality, reward for hard work and seeing that everybody got a “Fair Go”. I’m sure it was but somewhere in the early 1980s, some smart bastard got the idea that if labour and capital could work in, let’s say, accord, everyone would be better off. The workers’ were sold a pup. Decades of wage restraint created increasing profits for companies and the banks, particularly the banks.

After a while, and a few post-work ales, the workers realised that capital was proportionately much better off under this system than they were, and started to make some disgruntled noises. The rumblings began to resonate in the corporations (including the banks, which had by now become corporations too for legal and taxation reasons) so they turn to the Political Leader. Now that little black duck and his mate, the candy store thief, had a very cunning plan. They took all the money they were making from folks pulling stuff out of the ground and selling it off overseas and gave it to the grumbling workers as tax breaks, and said;”Go out and buy yourself the biggest telly you can find, subscribe to cable TV and take the family on an overseas holiday.”

The workers quietened down, the corporations got richer but the money the government gave away was supposed to be used on infrastructure (stuff like rail, ports, power generation, schools, Unis and the like). It wasn’t long before the duck and the thief had gotten on everybody’s nose and the country had an election.

This was won by a bloke with a pudding bowl haircut who could speak both Mandarin and Cantonese. The country was not sure if they were the qualities they needed in a Political Leader but they’d give him a go. No sooner had his bum got used to the feel of Prime Ministerial leather than a bunch of truly low-life American bankers, who had been inflating themselves for the previous 5 to 10 years suddenly blew apart, thereby creating the GFC or Global Financial Crisis or General Financial Chaos. Pudden Head to his mate the Swan (better than a duck); “Throw all the money we’ve got at the people so we don’t go into recession.” “Alright, mate, but there’s not as much as the last buggers claimed there was”; replied the Swan. “Do it anyway” was the command.

When the dust had more or less settled, and let’s face it there is still a fair bit up in the air on a global basis, the government explained what it had done and why, and the corporations in particular weren’t happy because to redress the lack of coin in the money box they were expected to chip in more, because they had more.

These crazy folks in government saw this GFC as a chance to reshape the socio-economic landscape, and being the all-encompassing fair minded mob they were began arguing about what areas of the patchwork that makes up our Nation was more important. Pudden Head had a wee bit of a problem. You see, he was used to getting his own way on just about everything, without consultation. Well at work anyway, it was rumoured things were a bit different at home. It all came to a head when he said he’d take his bucket and spade and the contents of the sandpit and go home. Other members of what was called the Elected Gang held meetings, crossed corridors and then back again, held more meetings. Some of the smarter ones took off the shoes and socks and did what is called “The Numbers” and decided that they’d like Bluey to have the top job.

This decision was immensely popular with a section of the electorate called “Women” because Bluey was a sheila. Not all members of the section called “Women” were happy but that was largely because their husbands told them not to be.

There was another election and Bluey won, but only after doing a few deals with Kermit and his mob. If that hadn’t worked the Brawler could have won, and wasn’t he dirty about it! Talk about carry a grudge! He was like Atlas and the whole World as his grudge. From day one he started slagging her off. The rest of his Boxing Troupe joined in. The Brawler was called by his mate the Dirty Digger, who made it clear that he’d prefer the Brawler holding the reins and would use all of his resources to paint Bluey in the worst possible light.

The enthusiasm for the task became infectious and the entire boxing troop tried their hand at rubbishing Bluey; for being female, unmarried, childless, female (Did I say that already?) and, of course, for lying. Although this wasn’t exactly true, the Dirty Digger told his minions to only use the first part of Bluey’s remark so that they could say she broke a promise. This was repeated so often by the Boxing Troupe and all the Dirty Diggers tissues that Davo, Stewie and the Donk at the Seven Hills tavern figured it must be Gospel truth. So with those blokes and tens of thousands of their mates fooled, the Brawler was keen for another fight, er, election.

There was a bit of distraction when a bloke in the Troupe called Roughhead got together with a couple of babbling brooks in a large country town and wrote a menu for a fundraising sausage sizzle that was very rude about Bluey. First Roughhead apologised, and then said he didn’t know what he was apologising for, before the babbler’s put up their paws and said it was all their idea and Roughhead and the rest of the Boxing Troupe had nothing to do with it.

The race was on, but not before the other mob decided Bluey was too much of a risk for being female, unmarried, childless and a lot smarter than they were, and replaced her with Pudden Head again. But not until he promised to share his toys and let the other children have turns at talking and looking like they were making decisions.

Now while all this was going on, there was someone in the Brawler’s office called the “Chief” (Short for chief cook and bottle washer, no doubt) who seemed, to anyone smart enough to look, to be actually running the whole show. Any travelling Boxing troupe worth its salt has a Chief backstage, deciding which fighter to send out, who should score a king hit, who should take a dive, making sure the work like a well oiled machine. She was doing a pretty damned good job, except that the Brawler liked to sneak out on his own on occasions. It took her giving him a few thick ears before he understood that running out of the surf in red budgie smugglers, looking like Matt Shirvington on a cold morning and greeting little old ladies was not helping him win the punters over. The Chief did, however, famously lose out in the battle of the Lycra, as the Brawler had a passion for a bike ride, so much so that he promised a lolly maker on an off-shore island a lot of money if he could ride around their island.

The Chief told the Brawler and the Brawler told the Ring Master to draw up a book that the Brawler could waive about and claim it was his “Vision for the Future” or words to that effect. The Chief specified it couldn’t be too long, for the punters would get bored, it couldn’t have too much detail, for the punters would become confused, and it couldn’t contain anything except three word slogans about what the Brawler’s Troupe would Stop, Cut, Axe and Stop, again.

It worked a charm. Between not promising to do anything except reverse what Bluey and Pudden Head’s governments had done or set in place to do, and the Dirt Digger printing atrocious lies about everyone on Pudden Head’s team, the win was assured. Just to make sure though, the Chief enlisted a bunch of squawking galahs on radio to repeat the three word slogans and the atrocious comments, while, at the same time encouraging Davo’s, Stewie’s and the Donk’s wives to ring in with even more disgusting and degrading suggestions.

So, we had a change of government last year because the majority of voters were tired of the Labor Party shooting itself in the foot and changing band leaders, plus a load of deceptions, misrepresentations and some outright lies printed by the company that owns 68% of the newspapers in the nation, and is owned in turn by the Dirt Digger. The bloke that led the Opposition at the time (the Brawler) tried to appear sincerely worried about our balance of payments (3rd best in the World) or economic viability (1st in the World) and our National debt (4th smallest in the World) and with the help of his media magnate mate conned a lot of Australians about that while launching the most gut-wrenchingly awful personal attacks on the Prime Minister, Australia’s first female Prime Minister.

He won. So then he and the Chief then set about rearranging the Australian socio-economic landscape. Together they filled the land with hatred. Hatred for asylum seekers, although the previous government wasn’t much better, hatred for the disabled, for the aged who need care, for single mothers, for the homeless, for the lower paid workers, for people who get penalty rates for social dislocation caused by work, in essence, everyone who wasn’t already very bloody rich and powerful.

This latter group would be “The Entitled”. Entitled to tax rorts, subsidies for their business and the expansion thereof, subsidies for the fuel and oil needed to run these businesses, and if the business was agriculturally based, subsidies for soil enhancers and pesticides. Mind you if you were hit by drought for too long or got flooded too often, you were struck off the list of “The Entitled”.

For the rest of us it was the “End of the age of entitlement”. This meant that if you relied on the government for money, like pensions, schoolkids’ bonus, Family Tax Benefits or the dole, you can just piss off. No access without payment is the way it is now. Your child breaks their arm in a backyard accident; you take them to a PUBLIC Hospital. If they receive treatment you have to pay. “But my taxes pay for that hospital and the staff”; you cry. “Stiff shit”; says The Brawler.

If you think you’ve got it bad (and you do), just imagine you were an “illegal” on Manus island or Nauru, or the Great Barrier Reef or an old growth forest in Tasmania. Too unrealistic? How about a dairy farmer whose land is ear marked for fracking? Or any sort of primary producer relying on the Murray-Darling river system? Let’s consider, also, the First peoples of the land who have already lost sacred places to mining and other interests, who’s representative in Canberra is none other than the Brawler himself. The Brawler broke his biggest promise to the First peoples in his first week in office. Pretty hateful, wouldn’t you reckon?

The erosion of our democratic system

This is essential reading for those who fail to understand the dissent that lead in a large part to the March in March movement.

The Australian Independent Media Network

Brick by brick Unless you own a newspaper or a mining company, or are happy to turn a blind eye to the erosion of our democratic values then it would be difficult to get an argument from you that the Abbott Government continues to go from bad to worse.

But one of worse characteristics of this government, and one that receives little attention, is its determination to silence any dissent. It is this silencing of dissent and the erosion of our democratic values that prompted ‘Joe W’ to write this letter to The AIMN:

I’m sick of being called anti-democratic, or a ‘sore loser’ (among other insults) over the election result and told to swallow this government’s lies whole. My response to this incorrect assertion and attempt to silence me is as follows: My complaint is not over the election result, rather how the election was won and that the Abbott Coalition is…

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Why do we need a Budget Surplus?

It really grates on my nerves. Our Queensland politicians receiving obscene salary increases. Our Federal Treasurer and his “Little Sir Echoes” in Treasury and big business bleating that we need to return to a surplus and it’s the low wage earners, the old and the disabled that must pay for it.

It is serious dog whistling to those punters who only ever have to balance the household budget or who run small to medium size business. They know if they don’t make more than they spend, or at least as much as, they go broke.

A nation can carry a budget deficit if the deficit is paying for nation-building project and infrastructure for a growing population. If it is being used for hospitals and GP super surgeries, for schools and before and after school care,  for improved secondary and tertiary education, for fast train networks (not more roads for fossil fuelled behemoths to generate excessive CO2) and ecological power generation. Why? Because these thing will bring a return to the nation. Just like a dividend to the share holders. We are the shareholders of Australia. We need to see a return in our investment. An investment we make through the ballot box. We don’t need to see a return in dollars, we need to see it in investment to generate industry, education, health and long-term sustainability of Australia.
What we are having shoved down our throats is short-term profiteering of our, OUR, natural resources and a decrease in the standard of living for the worst off in our society.

This is not the way forward, it is the way down.

We’ve said we don’t like it, but what next?

Essentially the rejection of social liberalism by the conservative side of Australian politics, for the adoption and promotion of classical liberal ideology, has left those financially worse off with nowhere to go.
Abbott appears to want to return to a 1950’s Australia, where the slow but steady growth in a post-war nation saw the building of economic edifices the drove the economy and employed people.
As the world outside Australia also grew, international trade expanded and our wealth grew with it.
At it’s height, when the minerals boom saw buckets of money flow into the Australian economy, Howard pulled the Great Shonky. He told all Australians they should aspire to great wealth and being the “Boss”. Somehow through hard work and sacrifice, we all could be the Manager, the CEO, the Boss. Oh, and by the way, here’s a huge tax cut we can afford because we sell so much precious dirt. Go out and buy the biggest TV you can find. Don’t worry about where it’s made. You deserve it.
They’re still out there, the “aspirationals”, putting themselves first, striving for personal wealth and to hell with social responsibilities.
This is why the neo-con Government we have say it is the end of the age of entitlement. They no longer accept that a government has responsibilities for the homeless, the disabled, working mothers, the working poor and the old. All “our” resources (which they believe they actually own) are for exploitation for profit.

The Left/ALP shows no signs of leadership. The offerings of Bill Shorten are too little, too infrequent and ineffectual.

Last week-end showed that a lot of ordinary Australian citizens are not happy with how they are being governed, with what is being done in their name, but they have no one person to rally behind. They have no champion, as yet anyway.


To where do we turn.

“This island nation”

I live on an island, Bribie Island, but I am fully aware that the other island at the opposite end of the bridge, Australia, has enormous effect on what goes on here.

The problem, as I see it , is that far too many people on the big island have forgotten that what goes on in the rest of the world has significant impact on how things happen in Australia.

I believe they are being led that way by the main stream media and particularly the Murdoch media.  Sure there is some reportage of international events but it is generally about strife, violence and pestilence. All very scary and, for most Australians, hard to imagine enduring it.

There was little mainstream reporting on the Davos meeting and our PM’s performance there. More importantly, there was even less reporting on what the other G20 members saw as the way forward for the major economies of the world. This highlights our problem, because the average Australian voter neither knows or cares about what other world economies are doing. What’s worse is hat they’ve been convinced that it doesn’t matter.

The fact, accessible from a reasonably good internet search engine, that the largest American automobile manufacturers made decisions at the highest corporate level to return most car manufacturing to Detroit, so as to boost their local and national economies is ignored by the media and hence their readers. The whole argument becomes one about what the Government of the day could have done to save the car manufacturing industry in Australia. A pointless and futile argument but a great distraction from global economic realities.

That is just one example. The effect of “free trade agreements” which has seen local fruit producers hit hard and having to move out of traditional crops into new, even experimental ones is not recognised as an international effect but rather something their local member could and should have done something about.

Australia is not disconnected from the rest of the world and decisions made in, for example, China, have major ramification on our businesses. The slow down in China’s economic growth means smaller quantities of coal, iron ore and other minerals are required. So, our mining companies have to reduce their production or find other markets. That is not to say that the requirements of a big economy such as China do not still represent a healthy marketplace.

The truth of the matter is Australians have to develop a greater sense of our interaction with the other world economies. Our economic decisions can’t be solely ideologically driven from Canberra. The decisions made have to be in response to global factors. Our future industrial development has to be in markets where we can grow and export. To assist with this progress, the average Australian voter has to be educated and engaged, in fairly simple terms. The majority of Australians have a reasonable grip on microeconomic concepts; mortgages; household budgets and so on. Yes, detailed macroeconomics is more complex, but understanding that when a major economic player decides it is going to go solar, for instance, it’s demand for coal will drop dramatically over time, and the time to start looking at either other clients of other industries is now, not when the rot has set in, is not difficult.

Don’t get your knickers in a knot, I’m trying to save the language.

There are quite a few examples of  American verbal colonisation in the Australian vocabulary but some of them irk me more  than others.

Who gave the Yanks the right to change the fundamental meaning of “underwear”?

When I was growing up the term referred to a vast array of garments worn by women and men under their outer garments. For the chaps there were singlets and undershirts, underpants of various kinds and socks. Yes, socks are considered undergarments.

Longjohns and thermals were available to members of either gender.

The women had access to a panoply of garments: slips, half-slips, petticoats, girdles, panty girdles, corsets, bustiers, camisoles, stockings (and with them garter belts), pantihose, socks, knicker bockers, pantiloons and lastly and basically brassieres and… well this is where it all falls apart, isn’t it. In my family they were called knickers, in others it was girls’ undies and in America, apparently, they were panties.

Now at some point during the much needed feminist shake up of society, the Americans decided that “panties” had some kind of chauvinistic connotation and it had to be changed. So they opted for “underwear”. That’s right, those silly seppos decided that a worthy word that covered a huge range of garments worn under the outer garb should be strangled and beaten until it just referred to an article of clothing worn solely by women (in the regular course of events) to cover their vulva and bottom. I do recognise that in some instances it covers more than that, such as parts of the stomach and legs.

Now the garment industry has added their two-bobs worth to the discussion as well. Venture into any of the range of stores that sell such items and you will discover that the rag trade calls most of them briefs. There are full briefs, semi briefs, hi-cut (sic) briefs, bikini briefs, boy-leg briefs and quite probably others I’ve missed. There are also others not referred to as briefs per se, but rather by a letter followed by the word string.

The point is that the term “brief” has never caught on in the Australian vernacular, and I doubt it ever will. On the other hand I urge Australians not to accept the example of American Cultural Imperialism that is their use of the word “underwear”. in such a limited form.

It is my view that as a reflection of our egalitarian style, all Australians should refer to the garment covering the nether regions of both women and men as “undies”. That is my contribution to Australia Day 2014.

A New Parliament or the same old show.

What has two rings and features clowns, wild animals and the odd freak or two? A circus? Well, apparently it is our shiny new parliament.

Days before the opening of the new parliament, the Prime Minister assured the West Australian Liberal Party that the new parliament would be a different beast and that the memories of the embarrassing, divisive and plain old rude one would soon be a fading and bad memory.

It seems that a leopard can’t change it’s spots, no matter what it promises. In spite of Mr Abbott’s promise that it would be a parliament that “discusses the issues, rather than abuse individuals” the Manager of Government Business, The Hon. Christopher Pyne could not wait the start the name-calling by referring to the Leader of the Opposition, The Hon. Bill Shorten as “Electricity Bill Shorten”. This brought an immediate response from the Manager of Opposition Business, The Hon. Tony Burke. He rose to point out the on the previous day there had been much said about the use of proper titles in parliament, and that Mr. Pyne’s labelling of the LOTO in this way was inappropriate and should be with drawn.

The new Speaker of the House of Representatives, The Hon. Bronwyn Bishop.

The new Speaker, The Hon. Bronwyn Bishop, sorry, Madame Speaker, as she requires to be called, cracked her metaphorical whip and ruled that the Manager of Government Business’ name calling was not unparliamentary.

What then ensued was farcical, coupled with some slow motion slapstick comedy. A motion of dissent was raised followed by a series of votes, for which division was called on every one. The call for division required all members of the house to align themselves either for or against the motion. For most it meant moving from one side of the chamber to the other. This was not done with any sense of haste. Perhaps it was to maintain the dignity of the house, but it looked more like a race to be the slowest.

Had the new speaker of this shiny new parliament showed leadership, without fear or failure? Not in my view. What we saw was blatant favouritism of “her” side in parliament, an inability to maintain order and a complete disregard of her leader’s pledges regarding a more decorous house of meaningful debate on issues and of respect for individuals.

Allowing Christopher Pyne to continue in the same feral, hysterical style he used while in Opposition clearly demonstrates that there is no “new” parliament to be seen. If you thought the previous parliament sunk to unplumbed depths, and it did, you could hold little hope of improvement from what was on show in this one’s first week.

I am a former public servant and industrial officer for a public sector union. I have had a persistent interest in politics for many years. I also enjoy the theatre, having participated in my younger days.