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Barry Jones: the 2013 election and the death of rationality

As somebody with a lifelong, but not very happy, involvement in politics, I must declare an interest, as a life member of the ALP. Nevertheless, I think I can be objective in describing the decay of our…

Former ALP politician Barry Jones says political discourse during the federal election is on ‘to be even worse’ than in previous years. AAP/Alan Porritt

As somebody with a lifelong, but not very happy, involvement in politics, I must declare an interest, as a life member of the ALP. Nevertheless, I think I can be objective in describing the decay of our political system. I was one of many who thought that the 2010 election would be the worst in our modern history for the debased quality of political discourse, but all indications are that the 2013 election is on track to be even worse.

Lindsay Tanner contends that 1993, when he was elected to the House of Representatives, was the high point of rationality in Australian politics but by 2010, when he left, it had sunk to an abyss of populism, despite our rising participation rates in education.

Party spin-doctors, on both sides of politics, work on the assumption that by this stage in the election cycle about 80% of voters have already decided how they will vote, and that short of some major event (cabinet ministers charged with felony, perhaps) nothing that is said or done in the campaign will change that. The 20% who are uncommitted, profiling suggests, are neither interested nor involved in the issues, do not much care about the outcome, are largely voting because they are obliged to do it, and will make up their minds on the day – perhaps as they stand in line waiting to receive their ballots.

Reaching these voters is not by raising serious issues, setting out a vision or challenge, by emphasising fear (“you don’t realise how bad things are…you are at risk…”) or by entertaining them, appealing to quick jokey references, as with Twitter, or offering bribes, the appeal to greed. Some elements in the media play up to this approach with trivialising gimmicks, for example interviewing a cat for his/her political opinions on Channel 9.

Geoff Kitney wrote an important article for the Australian Financial Review - Vote for Abbott, and vote against politics - describing Abbott as the anti-politics politician, who puts a heavy emphasis on appealing to those (many?) reluctant voters who say: “I can’t stand politics, and don’t even pretend to understand it”. This does not just discourage debate on complex issues, it kills it. There may be even a bonus for non-involvement, to be told: “don’t feel badly about knowing so little – celebrate it”.

Former finance minister Lindsay Tanner says political discourse had worsened badly by the time he left parliament. AAP/Alan Porritt

Despite Australia’s high formal levels of literacy, politicians are increasingly dedicated to delivering three word slogans (“stop the boats!”) – now degenerating even more to the use of one word, repeated three times (“Cut! Cut! Cut!” or “Lie! Lie! Lie!”).

There is an exaggerated emphasis on “gotcha!” moments – Tony Abbott and his suppository, Kevin Rudd and the make-up lady, moronic candidates in swinging seats. In the last months of Julia Gillard’s period as prime minister, in two separate incidents, sandwiches (vegemite and salami as it happens) were thrown at her at schools, for reasons which have never been clarified. The incidents became big news stories, so much so that they crowded out major announcements about the Gonski reforms that she was planning to make.

Often politicians acquiesce in the trivialising, for example Kevin Rudd and his availability for selfies, Tony Abbott gyrating at a boot-camp, and his “dad moments”. We should have a minute’s silence to reflect on the contribution of Julie Bishop, Warren Truss and Clive Palmer to the campaign.

The Murdoch factor will have an increasingly strong influence on political outcomes in Australia. About 65% of Australian newspaper readers already make a democratic choice to buy News Corp journals, and the figure approaches 100% in Brisbane, Adelaide and Hobart where readers have the choice of Murdoch or Murdoch, unless they can find the Financial Review. It is a dangerous area to speculate about.

Former prime minister Julia Gillard and former education minister Peter Garrett announce the Gonski education funding reforms in 2012. AAP/Alan Porritt

The Murdoch papers are no longer reporting the news, but shaping it. They no longer claim objectivity but have become players, powerful advocates on policy issues: hostile to the science of climate change, harsh on refugees, indifferent to the environment, protective of the mining industry, trashing the record of the 43rd parliament, and promoting a dichotomy of uncritical praise and contemptuous loathing. Does it affect outcomes? I am sure that it does, and obviously advertisers think so.

There should be appropriate recognition of the major achievement of the 43rd Australian House of Representatives, the much traduced “hung parliament”, which lasted its full term, and passed 580 bills, 87% of them with Opposition support, including the National Disability Insurance Scheme and the Gonski reforms. Julia Gillard deserves credit for maintaining support from independents and never facing a censure motion.

I have been involved in politics for a long time – far too long – but I have never observed such levels of loathing, personal hatred for political figures. Julia Gillard, Kevin Rudd, Tony Windsor have been subject to unprecedentedly vindictive attacks, as has Tony Abbott to a degree and John Howard in his time. It is one of the ugliest factors in our public life.

Despite the exponential increases in public education and access to information in the past century, the quality of political debate appears to have become increasingly unsophisticated, appealing to the lowest common denominator of understanding. Does anyone’s vote change after seeing a Prime Minister or Opposition Leader in a supermarket or factory? I am open to persuasion but I doubt it.

The environment has essentially fallen off the political agenda. It was a big issue in 1983 (on the Tasmanian dams controversy) and in 2007 when Kevin Rudd referred to climate change as the “greatest moral, economic and social challenge of our time”. Morgan polls indicated that in 2008 35% of Australians nominated the environment as a major issue: by 2013 this has fallen to 7%.

Climate change is referred to during the election in a few passing sentences, essentially as if the carbon pricing or emissions trading scheme (ETS) measures were all about promoting clean air/clean energy, with no references to the role of “greenhouse gases” in trapping and retaining heat, and their impact on climate change and extreme weather events. There is no attempt to grapple with the issue and to explain the long term implications of a two or three degree increase in global temperatures. One side is feeble, the other mendacious. There is barely any reference to planning for a post-carbon economy, other than vague references to “new jobs”.

There will be no serious debate about taxation in this campaign. Australia must have more revenue, to maintain appropriate levels of education, health, infrastructure and social security for a growing, ageing population, especially measures which will keep older Australians fit, active, independent and out of institutions. The recommendations of the 2010 Henry Review should be revisited and applied, rejecting the populist argument that only cutting taxation (and expenditure) will improve quality of life. Taxation is the price we pay for civilisation.

Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey will, if elected, inherit an economy in excellent shape by global standards. AAP/Penny BRadfield

The political debate about the state of the Australian economy is an affront to rationality.

Australia has had 21 unbroken years of economic growth, has been praised by the IMF and Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz as having had the best policy response to the Global Financial Crisis, with lower unemployment than most OECD countries, with low interest rates, a AAA credit rating from all three major agencies, enjoyed by very few national economies, a low level of international debt, high levels of foreign investment, ranking next to Norway on the Human Development Index (HDI), and one of the lowest taxation rates in the OECD, ahead of the US, but well behind the UK, Germany, France, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Canada, New Zealand, and a little behind Japan. Is this good news or bad news? It looks like good news to me.

Of course, I recognise that there has been a continuity of economic policy going back through Gillard, Rudd (the first time), Howard, Keating and Hawke.

Despite Australia’s very high ranking internationally, the level of political discourse on economics is so debased that polling indicates very high levels of anxiety about the economy. Citizens can hardly believe the international comparisons – the reasons being that they are only exposed, day by day, to one economy and objective evidence from far away is not compelling psychologically.

I have watched, with some pain, election telecasts being given by the shadow treasurer, Joe Hockey, somebody who I have always had some regard for, balanced, recognisably human, and not a fanatic, with touches of self-mockery.

He could have taken a more subtle, nuanced approach in his pitch, saying, perhaps, “while it is true that Australia has had some outstanding successes, such as the AAA rating and 21 unbroken years of growth, nevertheless there are some worrying indications that…”, and go on from there.

Instead, he plays the catastrophist card, that the past six years had left the Australian economy as a smoking ruin, and the rest of the world is looking to see when Australia will turn the lights back on. Catastrophic? Disaster? Tsunami? The clear suggestion is that practically every nation, with the possible exception of Somalia, is performing better economically than Australia.

Does Joe Hockey really believe what he is saying? I hope not. He certainly would not want to be questioned, or sign an affidavit, about it. But I suspect he might say: “the rules of the game have changed. In politics, one can say anything – whatever it takes to win”. My side of politics is not spotless in this area either: Graham Richardson’s book Whatever It Takes set the standard.


This article is taken from the Samuel Alexander Lecture delivered at Wesley College on August 27, 2013.

Join the conversation

236 Comments sorted by

  1. John Crest

    logged in via email @live.com.au

    A good article, but it must be said that so far as politicians go, the author was a rather ineffective one.

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    1. Martin Male

      Somatic Psychotherapist

      In reply to John Crest

      Your comment is exactly what this article decries, when will we give up the character assassinations when will we just listen to the message and stop attacking the messenger. My memory of Barry as a minister was he was one of the best in his portfolios. I agree with Ramons' comments

      For me Barry is an example of what happens to people of good conscience who won't be political mongrels, unlike the mob we have now in the two major parties, who are just political whores without any morals. Their only intent is to do whatever it takes either stay or get into power.
      I agree with what Aden has said, if we disengage from the process it will simply deteriorate even further. Make your vote count however you choose. For me I am voting Green ;)

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    2. Liam Walker

      Contractor

      In reply to John Crest

      I agree John, totally ineffective. He was far too smart and intelligent to be a politician but there you go. Was it Paterson who said, we not see men such as these again in these dark and degenerate days?

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    3. Robert Tony Brklje
      Robert Tony Brklje is a Friend of The Conversation.

      retired

      In reply to John Crest

      Yes by far to honest and up front. The current value of a politicians being all about back room scheming, campaign fund garnering, public grand standing and effective, well targeted disparaging comments about the opposition. An ability to shift responsibility for all failures also helps.
      So what does make a 'succesful' politician in today's market and of course what should it 'really' take to make an honestly of true value to the majority of citizens 'successful' politician.
      If you look to mass…

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    4. Geoff Taylor

      Consultant

      In reply to John Crest

      Barry Jones did identify the need for a carbon tax thirty years ago.
      At present the Opposition policy to tackle climate change would need to cost between 4 and 25 bn more than they have alllowed to be effective. The government policy of linking to the EU system is flawed unless the EU reduces the number of surplus credits available.

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    5. Effie Ross

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Crest

      How fitting that the first comment should be an ad hominem!

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    1. Gerard Dean

      Managing Director

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      David Rabbitburrow, master of the environment AND jetA1 fuel burning!!!!!

      (I just couldn't help that one and fully understand if the moderator pulls this comment and consigns me to the sin bin)

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    2. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Mike, what you are doing is shunning your democratic responsibilities, hiding in the hive-mind of The Greens, and its broadcast vectors.

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    3. peter mackenzie

      Transport Development and Road Safety Researcher

      In reply to Account Deleted

      Very good James. I hope Gerard appreciated that too.
      I sent a friend 5 copies in a row! Couldn't help myself!

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    4. ernest malley

      farmer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Perhaps he watched too much StarTrek - Voyager & Janeway besting the Borg over'n'over.
      American national exceptionalism rendered into personal behaviour?

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    5. Chris Saunders

      retired

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter, Jonathan Haidt talks about the 'Hive Switch' in The Righteous Mind. In Sept 41, William McNeill was in the US army and after several months in basic training came up with the idea of the superorganism: that the muscular bonding of the military enabled people to forget themselves, trust each other, function as a unit, and then crush less cohesive groups. You would have read about this. Haidt has built on this to state that human beings are conditional hive creatures (as well as chimps); an interesting read.

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    1. Martin Male

      Somatic Psychotherapist

      In reply to Trevor Kerr

      Great point Trevor CD is something that we as individuals must address in our live. I experience this on a daily basis with my client. The human mind loves to deny "reality" particularly if this involves decisions that create a requirement to change. Climate change is a perfect example of this. The boat people situation is another!

      I would prefer rather than "rational argument only reinforces CD" the opposite is true, we really need to challenge what we are believing and saying. We all need to…

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    2. Peter Redshaw

      Retired

      In reply to Trevor Kerr

      Trevor, well spoken, but I am sorry to say that such intelligence won't touch the wanton ignorance that too many people prefer to wallow in. This period of history will be called the opposite of the 'Enlightenment Period'. It will become known as the 'Dumbing down of society Period'. It seems all of our access to knowledge has done the opposite to enlightening us.

      But of course even though democracy is better than any other form of government, it is vulnerable because it is not based on the…

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    3. Brandon Young

      Retired

      In reply to Peter Redshaw

      Well said. Of course, media ownership only matters in the absence of accountability: to truth and to the public interest. Without accountability, all power is inevitably used to serve self interest.

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  2. Ben Cooling

    Web Developer & Programmer

    Thanks for the article Barry.

    I find the relevance of a critique on political discourse is somewhat diluted when the author defines as acceptable only that which aligns with he's own political affiliations.

    For example, why slip in the mantra "Taxation is the price we pay for civilisation" other than to push one's own barrow, framing any discussion in terms favourable to your own position.

    Perhaps this article is indicative of why the informal vote will probably be on the rise come this election. Politicians pronounce one thing as the author did "I think I can be objective… " but then in practice continue on being slavishly informed by self interest.

    As a side note - I also find it really baffling when apologists for Labor's economic record point out our relatively good standing compared to the rest of the world, as if the "at least were not as worse off as them" is really a valid measuring stick.

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    1. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ben Cooling

      ".....For example, why slip in the mantra "Taxation is the price we pay for civilisation" other than to push one's own barrow...."

      Well Ben, if you think the opposite, could you explain how no taxation would lead to anything other than a lack of civilisation. You do realise - I hope - that governments and the services they provide actually cost money.

      "..... I also find it really baffling when apologists for Labor's economic record point out our relatively good standing compared to the rest…

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    2. Marc Richard Lachance

      Warehouse Manager

      In reply to Ben Cooling

      Ben;
      Taxation is the cost of governance - that's not a mantra, it's a truism.
      Governance is the mechanism of large-scale civilisation - sorry: another self-evident truism...
      It's been my observation that the functional differences between the ALP and Coalition are now almost trivial - in this article, the points being made about the political proccess apply equally to both seats of the see-saw...

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    3. Martin Male

      Somatic Psychotherapist

      In reply to Marc Richard Lachance

      Yes I must agree with you Marc. I am intrigued by this idea that somehow governments are meant to stop taxing people yet provide services??? I am not sure how many people even believe this idea?

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    4. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Mike, humanity's greatest moment of civilization - classical Athens - had NO taxation. Sure, that example had all sort of other unique qualities, but you did ask "could you explain how no taxation would lead to anything other than a lack of civilisation".

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    5. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Marc Richard Lachance

      "It's been my observation that the functional differences between the ALP and Coalition are now almost trivial"
      This is correct. And the reason why this is so, is precisely the reason why people like Lindsay and Barry are crabby. The war between authoritarian Communism and democratic Capitalism was decisively won by the latter. Barry and Lindsay fought for the former. Nuff said.

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    6. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      That obtuse comment refers to your contention re the Athenians.

      This one refers to your Cold War analysis.

      So what we have now is 'democratic capitalism' ... best of all possible worlds is it? Everyone's chirpy, thriving, just powering along shrugging away like Atlas...

      So why do all these democratic capitalists keep whining about the iron heel of socialsm, taxes, red tape, green tape, wages, unions, heal and safety ... the list just goes on and on and on....

      You'd think winning would have been much more satisfying, don't you think?

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    7. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter, all I am doing is noting a fact of history. On the multitude of reactions to that fact, I couldn't possibly comment. But one source you might find useful is the testimony of all those who risked life and limb escaping from authoritarian Communism to democratic Capitalism versus "all" those who escaped from democratic Capitalism to authoritarian Communism.

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    8. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to David Thompson

      Depends I guess on the degree to which one regards the USSR, China and the likes of North Korea as 'communism' ... well socialism really. Neither in my view. Brutal dictatorships, militarised god-king kingdoms and the odd hybridised business model they are toying with in Chin a... bit like it was before really ... the old problem of continuity in history ... the old ruts are the most comfortable.

      Moreover it is difficult - no impossible - to talk about such matters and isms in a climate of hunger…

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    9. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter, skip the verbal dibble, and just admit it; you are just an unreconstructed apologist for what all those people tried to escape. I am pretty sure I know what they'd have to say to your experience-free judgment - "Neither in my view".

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    10. Marc Richard Lachance

      Warehouse Manager

      In reply to David Thompson

      David;
      The notion of direct democracy (something remotely similar to an Athenian democracy) does allow for a (nominally) tax free government - but falls apart with groups much bigger than a couple thousand...
      Athens really didn't have a democracy in the modern sense (only land-owning, male, Athenian-born, Greek speaking people could vote - essentially a fraternal plutocracy) - and it was such a fractuous, fragile thing that it didn't survive the Bronze age...
      There was no taxation - but in most circumstances, there was no real fiscal economy...
      I think a more modern, and demonstrably succesful example of your argument would be more useful...

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    11. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to David Thompson

      I'm sorry David, I do not understand your insult ... to quote one of your democrats, 'please explain'.

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    12. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      It probably involves explaining what was 'communist' about the USSR China or anywhere else where such isms are thrown about to prop up dictatorships.

      Try not to be too personally offensive and please avoid telling me what I think or am apologising for.

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    13. Don Gibbons

      Clerk

      In reply to David Thompson

      Hi David. I don't believe it is accurate to portray Classical Athens as a society without taxation. Please consider Matthew Christ in The Classical Quarterly Volume 57 number 1 pp.53-69 (2007) re eisophora and Peter Fawcett's 2006 doctoral thesis on Athenian taxation from 550 to 325 BCE at http://etheses.dur.ac.uk/2632/1/2632_643.pdf?UkUDh:CyT
      As to Classical Athens being humanity's greatest moment of civilisation, I guess that is a matter of opinion. Certainly a lot to admire.

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    14. Marc Richard Lachance

      Warehouse Manager

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      The problem in the developed world is that day-to-day issues are not so obvious as food on the table...
      Western world problems are subtle, complex and not easily captured in a 30 second sound-bite on the network news...
      But thats all you can grab - so thats what most politicians submit to... and the media dictates the terms of that bite, by selectively picking the topic and edit...
      Like North Korea - but from the opposite end of the -ism...

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    15. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Marc Richard Lachance

      Mark, just a heads-up, but Classical Athens happened AFTER the Bronze Age. And they reckon knowing dates is an outdated skill in historical analysis!

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    16. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Don Gibbons

      Don, oh how I wish I'd found you before I completed my degree in Ancient History. You could saved me reading the 500 or so articles I read on the subject!

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    17. Marc Richard Lachance

      Warehouse Manager

      In reply to David Thompson

      David;
      550BCE-322BCE
      You're absolutely right - my mistake. It was the iron age, and fell to the Macedonians.
      As a note: I find this site deeply gratifying - and think this (and media outlets like it) are the future of democratic debate and political discourse...
      ...or so I hope...

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    18. Ben Cooling

      Web Developer & Programmer

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Hi Mike, yes I probably wasn't clear enough.
      Obviously taxation is required *sigh
      I was referring to the context of the author's arguments against "cutting taxation (and expenditure)"; sanctioning Keynesian economics as the only acceptable discourse on taxation. But, again, sorry probably not clear enough.

      Thank you for pointing out we live in a world. *sigh
      I can't see the sense in assigning anything as "good" (i.e. economic policy) based on the performance of others. An analogy would be…

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    19. Ben Cooling

      Web Developer & Programmer

      In reply to Marc Richard Lachance

      I probably was't clear enough, it was the position that the taxation statement was used to justify that I took issue with.

      The position being the only logical discussion on taxation is spending will increase revenue...

      I agree both sides are too alike for me.

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    20. Ben Cooling

      Web Developer & Programmer

      In reply to Martin Male

      I'm not sure either; certainly wasn't my intent, even if it read that way.

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    21. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Marc Richard Lachance

      "The problem in the developed world is that day-to-day issues are not so obvious as food on the table..."
      Which strongly suggests that we no longer need the State like we once might have.

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    22. Ben Cooling

      Web Developer & Programmer

      In reply to David Thompson

      I think labelling what we have today as "Democratic Capitalism" is a contentious. I think its more like Crony Capitalism, with some Welfarism to keep the peace. Either way Adam Smith it is not.

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    23. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Ben Cooling

      Not all that surprising, given that Adam Smith died before both democracy and capitalism emerged.

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    24. Marc Richard Lachance

      Warehouse Manager

      In reply to Ben Cooling

      What I find sadly amusing is that the "Trade Liberalisation" party is pushing for more government subsidy and spending, and that the "Trade Union" party is attempting to be Fiscal-Ratonalist...
      Since Keating I've been having a hard time discerning the horses on the track!
      Neither old-school party seems to be connected to it's "base" any more - and I have to question whether either actually represents anything more ideological than Collingwood vs Geelong...

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    25. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to David Thompson

      David...

      Have you actually read any Adam Smith?

      It's an interesting - if rather inconsistent- debating technique to dismiss Smith as irrelevant because of his vintage while citing Athenians as a model of a low taxing regime .... what's the start date for democracy I wonder? Or capitalism for that matter.

      Have you been popping posture pills all day David... you are generally more reasonable despite your inherent wrongness on pretty much everything of course.

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    26. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Marc Richard Lachance

      Collingwood v Carlton at least had the elements of a decent bit of marxian class struggle to it. But the real passion came with kicking the daylights out of the brick house aristocracy on the other side of Smith Street - the accursed Fitzroy.

      Wonderful little book for those interested in the politics of Melbourne, footy and history ... 'Kill for Collingwood' ... an outstanding little piece of social history...

      http://www.blaqbooks.com.au/index.php?route=product/product&path=51_111&product_id=2852

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    27. Jack Arnold

      Director

      In reply to Ben Cooling

      Ben this is a disappointing response that indicates you have overlooked Barry's "Sleepers Awake" and other learned contributions to the informed Australian political discourse.

      Perhaps your comment "I also find it really baffling when apologists for Labor's economic record point out our relatively good standing compared to the rest of the world, as if the "at least were not as worse off as them" is really a valid measuring stick" indicates that you are confused by the disparity between informed economic analysis by overseas experts when compared to the rubbish spewed by Joke Hockey and Taxing RAbbott during their three year 2013 election campaign.

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    28. Jack Arnold

      Director

      In reply to David Thompson

      Given the recently revealed Internet scandals created by US 'intelligence agencies' it appears that the wheel is turing in democracies to bring back the heavy heel of authoritarian government for the select few.

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    29. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ben Cooling

      Marc

      'Sigh' yourself. Yes, you definitely were not clear, and if you makes statements such as the one you did about taxation and civilisation, then you are going to have to accept that someone is going to take you to task over it.

      And yes, you do have to defend the "Coalition apologist" tag. It was you who first raised the issue, remember? I was just using your own phrase against you.

      In regard to me pointing out that we live in the world - it seems that was necessary as well. We live…

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    30. Rick Fleckner

      Student

      In reply to David Thompson

      Sometimes I avoid looking at more than just the headlines at The Conversation. I wish I had done that today. You cannot be serious about 'classical Athens'. Slavery and summary execution, overseen by the ruling elite was the foundation of their set-up. Not very 'civilised' in my view.

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    31. Ben Cooling

      Web Developer & Programmer

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Mike I just plain disagree not only with your conclusions but the logic you are using to reach them.

      It's hard to have a reasoned discussion with someone who can't see past the partisan blinkers their wearing & strictly adhering to a Labor/Coalition dichotomy (See your adamant stance on the puzzling coalition retort to my criticisms of Labor).

      We don't need to be "living on Mars" or be in one of your exceptional economies that overcomes its interdependency on the global economy to boom to…

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    32. Doug Fraser

      policy analyst

      In reply to David Thompson

      "... humanity's greatest moment of civilization - classical Athens - had NO taxation."

      It did have an economy that relied heavily on slaves, though.

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    33. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Doug Fraser

      Aw Doug you know - down deep where it counts - is that our labour markets will always remain rigid, sticky and inefficient while we ban the trade in human inputs. This trendy ban on slavery is an outrageous piece of red tape, stifling economic growth and prosperity for (almost) all.

      That damn do-gooder Wilberforce was worse than Marx when it comes to damage to free trade and unfettered markets (in fettered commodities). Him and bloody Lincoln. Now my yank pipe tobacco costs me more than food. It's a damn disgrace!

      Isn't that right David?

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    34. Ben Cooling

      Web Developer & Programmer

      In reply to Jack Arnold

      Sorry my response disappointed Jack. As the article didn't cover Barry's "Sleepers Awake" I don't really know what to make of it? Could you enlighten me?

      I don't think my comment on the economy represents a confusion at all; there are obviously schools of economic thought that differ with Labor's policies. You don't need to be exposed to the spiels of a (somewhat) opposition party with the Liberal party to have an opposing view with the Labor party. My disappointment with the article was it was…

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    35. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Don Gibbons

      Don Gibbons
      Actually, thank you very much for that 2007 PhD thesis, especially given his excellent supervisor. That is more recent than my uni studies, and addresses precisely the issues posed here. I should have been precise that Athenian civilization was built with no INCOME tax.
      In general, Athens did not need to levy taxes on the citizenry because it other sources of wealth - the massive silver mines Laurium, the philanthropy of Athens wealthiest citizens, and competition among them to produce the most lavish festivals, performances (such as tragedy and drama), temples, and buildings.
      Athens also made a lot of money from a 1-2% duty on all cargo that went through Athens' port Piraeus. And let's not forget the tribute from each of the allies in the Delian League.

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    36. Account Deleted

      logged in via email @drdrb.net

      In reply to David Thompson

      Excellent example. Classical Athens had no taxation because it had silver mines which were state property and were worked by war-captive slaves.
      The obvious thing for Australia to do is nationalise all the mining companies, enslave Clive Palmer, Gina Rinehart, Twiggy Forest and all their boards of directors and toadies to boot, and set them to work. Then we could cut taxes for all male property owning citizens, who would then be drafted and mustered into an army of conquest to take over PNG and bring back more slaves for everyone.

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    37. Account Deleted

      logged in via email @drdrb.net

      In reply to Doug Fraser

      And nationalised mines.

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    38. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Mike, you asked
      "could you explain how no taxation would lead to anything other than a lack of civilisation. You do realise - I hope - that governments and the services they provide actually cost money."
      The point is civilizations require a social surplus, to enable a division of labour, freeing up labour to focus on 'civilization building', rather than just meeting subsistence. Now, that subsistence can be distributed any numbers of ways. Athenian civilization was overwhelmingly paid for out of the pockets of the city's great and good, who also paid for the infrastructure.
      And while I am not personally in favour of slavery or oppression of the lower classes, these have been permanent features of all surplus-producing societies. And actually, Athens was exceptional in the treatment of its lower [non-slave] classes.

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    39. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ben Cooling

      Wow Ben - that loud noise you just heard was your last post making my irony meter explode.

      So "...It's hard to have a reasoned discussion with someone who can't see past the partisan blinkers their wearing..." is it? Then take them off and perhaps we can have one.

      "....Can't we judge and weigh the value of something based on economic philosophy?..."

      Which one?

      "....Has, historically, racking up federal debts in response to volatility in the global economy been purposeful?..."

      Absolutely…

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    40. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Ben Cooling

      "I think its more like Crony Capitalism, with some Welfarism to keep the peace. Either way Adam Smith it is not."
      Ben, Adam Smith was inveighing against the state-centred cronysim of mercantilism, NOT capitalism.

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    41. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      "It's an interesting - if rather inconsistent- debating technique to dismiss Smith as irrelevant because of his vintage while citing Athenians as a model of a low taxing regime .... what's the start date for democracy I wonder? Or capitalism for that matter."
      No, it is isn't. It is perfectly consistent. Low taxes and civilization were very much subjects the ancient Athenians paid attention to, while democratic captalism was not so much the focus of Adam Smith. Smith was basically a natural law type, pointing out the wealth-wasting/depleting aspects of crony mercantilism. He was right.

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    42. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Mike, I am delighted that you appear to be "getting it" on how important trade is to prosperity. Don't let Lee Rhiannon hear you though, or it will be off to the re-education - though sustainable - camp with you.

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    43. Account Deleted

      logged in via email @drdrb.net

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      We could call it the "New Delian League" party! "A New Deal from the New Delians!" Except everyone would think we were from India.

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    44. Account Deleted

      logged in via email @drdrb.net

      In reply to David Thompson

      "slavery or oppression of the lower classes... have been permanent features of all surplus-producing societies." Including ours?

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    45. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to David Thompson

      You haven't delved into the swamp of economic history and theory too deeply have you David.

      Your ducking around behind vague definitional boads and feathers doesn't really do much other than whet the appetite for more.

      Did Smith mention those words - 'state-based crony mercantilism'?

      Not really - those words came much later from others. Smith talked of the Wealth of Nations, the operation of markets and the hazards of allowing vested interests too much of a say in establishing economic and commercial policies. He was particularly vehement on the purpose and role of markets in meeting social needs and objectives, rather than sacrificng social needs to markets.

      Meanwhile I've alerted the Adam Smith Society that there is a whole new interpretation of Smith's work and its insignificance for capitalism, economics or anything beyond 'crony capitalism'.

      We are all hopefully awaiting a list of references and sources for this amazing ground shaking truth...

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    46. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to David Thompson

      David, I'm glad that you're delighted than I appear to be 'getting' the importance of trade to prosperity. But then, I have never doubted it.

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    47. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to David Thompson

      David (sorry, missed this one)

      "..... Athenian civilization was overwhelmingly paid for out of the pockets of the city's great and good, who also paid for the infrastructure...."

      Given your enthusiasm for Athens being a high point in civilisation, I guess you would be in favour of such a system being used again today.

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    48. Ben Cooling

      Web Developer & Programmer

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      "the ONLY position I have taken on this issue is that you can only judge the performance of an economy on a relative basis"

      Um… thats fascinating, however, the original point I made that you took issue with was "Labor's economic record" not the "performance of an economy". If you think you can interchangeably use "Labor's economic record" with "performance of the economy", than we can have no further discussion. The economy grew, but the expanse of future budgets, which - correct me if I'm wrong…

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    49. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Account Deleted

      James, I actually wonder how things might have turned out differently had the Whitlam government succeeded in effectively nationalizing our resources sector. The problem was, Australia's wealth has been resource-based since the 1820s, and always funded by private means, not governments.
      For the State to suddenly try and take it all over, across the six states of the federation, 150 years later, was always going to be a huge ordeal compared to a unitary state (like Norway) discovering its first source of resource wealth in the 1970s.

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    50. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Ben Cooling

      Ben, that wins an award for hysterical construction. Barry did not talk about any particular level of taxation, merely that some taxation is necessary to maintain a functional society.

      Maybe the informal vote is rising because too many people are too stupid to detect even a pretty obvious distinction like this.

      And, as further illustration of your propensity for irrationality, would you like to explain who we should compare our economy with, other than 'the rest of the world' - Mars? Alpha Centauri?

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    51. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to David Thompson

      David, that would be back in the time of the fifth century BC women's movement, complete with modern medical science and universal freedom and suffrage?

      If that was 'humanity's greatest moment of civilisation' in anything other than the mind of adolescent romantics, I'd love to hear your reason the claim.

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    52. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to David Thompson

      David, you are of course free to invent any fantasy you want but, when you describe Barry Jones and Lindsay Thompson as having fought for 'authoritarian Communism' it becomes clear just how tenuous your grasp of reality actually is.

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    53. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to David Thompson

      David, the word 'fact' means rather more than merely 'what you reckon'.

      I presume that testimony you speak of came from those escaping the Communist regime presided over by Commissars Jones and Tanner?

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    54. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to David Thompson

      David, you really are going to have to do better than repetition and invented accusation if you actually hope to deliver a rational argument.

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    55. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to David Thompson

      David, you simply cannot simultaneously lecture others on reasoning and evidence while resorting to cheap slogans and two-dimensional caricatures.

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    56. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Marc Richard Lachance

      "Athens really didn't have a democracy in the modern sense (only land-owning, male, Athenian-born, Greek speaking people could vote - essentially a fraternal plutocracy."
      Marc, actually most Athenian citizens were landless - the thetes - whose value was they were the rowers of the triremes, whose naval prowess helped keep the Athenian petty-cash tin over-flowing. 'Greek speaking' was never a requirement - but pretty much an inevitability given your parents had to be Greek citizens (pretty similar to modern democracies). But unlike the modern US, merely being 'Athenian-born' got you nowhere. So the children of metics, for example, were not automatically Athenian citizens, no matter how rich, and lavishly they gave to the city. For a while, citizenship did become restricted to those whose both parents were also citizens, but there were exceptions made. but the other side of not being a citizen, meant you didn't have the responsibilities, such as compulsory military service.

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    57. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Marc Richard Lachance

      "There was no taxation - but in most circumstances, there was no real fiscal economy..."
      That's not quite true. It WAS true up until about the 7th century BC. The classical era in Greece was probably the first fully-fledged fiscal economy, with all soldiers throughout the Greek world paid with the same coinage. And there's few better circulators of coins and commodities than sailors.

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    58. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to David Thompson

      Hang on ... doesn't one have to have been 'Athenian born' to be President of these United States?

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    59. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ben Cooling

      Ben

      "....the original point I made that you took issue with was "Labor's economic record" not the "performance of an economy"...."

      Do you have trouble reading? Or comprehending? How about you go back and read what I said again? Don't worry, I will provide it for you here:

      ".....And I find it baffling that you would not find it a valid measuring stick. You see, we live in this thing that we like to call 'the world'. And it is only be comparing ourselves to other people in 'the world' that…

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    60. Ben Cooling

      Web Developer & Programmer

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Awesome I won an award for it! Bout time to cause I was coppin' a floggin from you lot LOL But I do believe Barry was referring to a particular level - the current level.

      Maybe your right about the informal vote, but maybe I'm right and it's because politicians declare their objectivity then continue, without any shame, to sing their increasingly grating party tune.

      Please see my response to Mike re: logic of measuring labor's economic record against Japan, Greece, Ireland, Spain, US, France etc etc… When you set the bar that low of course your going to get over it. Should we be settling for such a low bar though?

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    61. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Ben Cooling

      "If you think you can interchangeably use "Labor's economic record" with "performance of the economy", than we can have no further discussion."
      Ben, frustratingly, this is precisely how Mike's brain is wired (and very hard-wired at that). He thinks "the State" is just "civilization" spelt differently. He also thinks that governments, bureaucrats, and academics create wealth, not corporations, small businesses, entrepreneurs, mechanics, bankers, chemists, risk-takers, geniuses, productive employees, and so on.

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    62. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ben Cooling

      Just a tip Ben.

      If more than one person is criticising you for exactly the same thing, it might conceivably be that it isn't them that are wrong, it is you.

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    63. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to David Thompson

      ".....He also thinks that governments, bureaucrats, and academics create wealth, not corporations, small businesses, entrepreneurs, mechanics, bankers, chemists, risk-takers, geniuses, productive employees, and so on....."

      Really David? You must know more about me than I do myself, because I have always thought that wealth creation came from enterprises. Golly gee - thanks for setting me straight on what I think.

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    64. Bernie Masters

      environmental consultant at FIA Technology Pty Ltd, B K Masters and Associates

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Actually, Mike, there are many internal measures that a country such as Australia can look to in order to assess the performance of its economy. For example, employment, corporate profitability, government and corporate debt, overall taxation levels, capital expenditure, age and health statistics of the population, etc. Determining whether we are doing poorly or well compared with another country is certainly a measure, no argument, but Australia doing better than Madagascar would be less meaningful a measure than us doing better or worse than Sweden or France, for example.

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    65. Ben Cooling

      Web Developer & Programmer

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      OK well not sure why you even commented to begin with because my original quote was using a measuring stick for labor's economic record, I said nothing about the performance of the economy - you introduced that little straw-man, oh well least we got to the bottom of it! :-)

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    66. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Bernie Masters

      Partially true Bernie.

      All those things are useful measures, but the results mean nothing without context and a basis for comparison. For example, if the (un)employment rate stays steady, is that good or bad? You would have to say that,in the middle of a global downturn when every other country in the world had rising unemployment, if our unemployment rate stayed steady that would be a good thing. And the converse would be true. You can't just look at an unchanging rate and make a valid judgement on whether it was good or bad.

      And yes, I don't think anyone would suggest that we measure ourselves against Somalia etc, but we often measure ourselves against other OECD nations for many things - and that is entirely appropriate.

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    67. Ben Cooling

      Web Developer & Programmer

      In reply to David Thompson

      wow poor Mike hehe. I think he made the argument that I don't know we lived in a "world". Terrifying. I thought we lived in cereal box :-)

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    68. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      "And genes and STDs"
      Indeed. geōrgos Pete (that's farmer Pete to you, Peter, in demotic Greek). One of the more exciting implications of mapping the genome is that we can now revisit ancient skeletons and other human remains; ice cores; and many other sources of ancient DNA. We can thus track migration patterns, disease/plague vectors, and so on. For me personally, one of the more exciting historical questions that genes and STDs can clarify is the migration patterns - and time periods - of the proto Indo-Europeans. Very volatile stuff politically in modern-day India.

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    69. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ben Cooling

      I'm sorry Ben, but it wasn't a strawman. You suggested that it wasn't a valid measuring stick to compare the government's economic record with other countries. I said it was.

      But if you want to call it a misunderstanding, I am happy to leave it at that.

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    70. Bernie Masters

      environmental consultant at FIA Technology Pty Ltd, B K Masters and Associates

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      But the context can be entirely internal and we don't have to compare ourselves with other countries. For example, in the 1960s, full employment was shown by an unemployment rate of 2%. Today, it's 5%. If the citizens of Australia are happy with 5% representing full employment, then there's no need to compare ourselves with France where a higher or lower figure may be the one that its citizens are happy with.
      I believe it should be the Australian people who decide whether our economy is doing well or not. If we're happy with zero population growth, a stable economy and 10% unemployment (assuming a reasonable unemployment benefit is available from government using our taxes), then that's great. Personally, I'd find these figures unacceptable, regardless of whether we're doing better or worse than another country. I think this is a domestic political matter for us to decide upon.

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    71. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Bernie Masters

      Sure Bernie - if you want subjective results. We can decide that we like or don't like (for example) our current unemployment rate.

      But if you want objective results that measure whether or not what we want is either achievable or, if so, whether it was the result of sound policies, then you must have external context.

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    72. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      On this comparison business, Mike is absolutely correct. I think it is EXTREMELY important that Australia is both the wealthiest country on earth, and has the highest level of human development EVEN when adjusted for inequality.

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    73. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to David Thompson

      Might have to stop relying on finding stuff lying about for a quid then really don't you think? Like we might actually have to earn a living using our wits rather than our 'luck'.

      Although I wonder if we have any wits left after the last few weeks.

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    74. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Ben Cooling

      Ben, you're just doubling down on the dumb now - the problem with your little list is that you pretty much have to run through the whole list of sovereign nations (what is that now, 200 or so?) - merely cherry-picking a few examples doesn't make an argument - the whole point was that Australia is pretty much world-beating, not merely better than the somewhat dodgy list you offered.

      And apropos of taxation levels, given that Australia is one of the lowest taxing developed countries, with quite modest government outlays as a percentage of GDP and a moderately sized public sector that the OECD has described as one of the best value for money public services in the developed world, on what basis would you like to argue that the current settings are wrong or excessive?

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    75. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Of course, the work of bureaucrats, academics, etc. just slightly, here and there, just a weensy little bit actually helps all those brave, virile wealth creators...obviously all the economists and investment advisors who rate Australia highly, in part because of stability, god infrastructure, strong rule of law and protection of property, etc., have noticed that tiny little thing as well.

      But David is one of those people who remains convinced that you can have an argument about which of your legs is more important to walking and come up with a rational answer...

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    76. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Ben Cooling

      Ben, your original comment: " I also find it really baffling when apologists for Labor's economic record point out our relatively good standing compared to the rest of the world, as if the "at least were not as worse off as them" is really a valid measuring stick." does rather have something of the smell of the wheaties box...

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    77. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Bernie Masters

      Who said 5% represented full employment? I've never heard that said anywhere. All I've ever heard is that it isn't as bad as a great many other countries - cold comfort, I'll grant you but, given that we live in an essentially global economy, it's not something to sneeze at either.

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    78. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      I wouldn't argue with that at all Felix. We need bureaucrats and academics etc, for without them we would be stuffed.

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    79. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      We don't talk about ahem 'full employment' any more Felix... 'we've' decided that's not a good idea - especially since we can't seem to get close any more.

      Rather what we now have is a notion of a 'natural rate of unemployment' ... a level that is manageable socially and economically. Not so manageable if you are yourself unemployed, but to banks - and particularly the RBA - 5% is about right.

      Anything more and it's a sign of a slowdown anything less and it's a warning of a wage breakout and…

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    80. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter, are you saying that primary industry is witless? We've been rich on it since 1820 now. There must be a bit more too it than 'luck'.

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    81. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Felix, Australia's GDP growth would double if we sacked every academic and bureaucratic macroeconomist immediately. As useless as pockets in underpants.

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    82. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      "We don't talk about ahem 'full employment' any more Felix."
      That is because women work nowadays, Peter, unlike those glory days of "full" employment, where 50% of "full" meant the kitchen and bedroom.

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    83. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to David Thompson

      Oh so that's the problem David ... I knew it'd be someone's fault - and I'm particularly gratified that the fault lies with feminist women and their glass ceilings.

      S'pose there'd be no problem then with say upping unemployment to 10% cos we'd still be doing better than we were doing in 60s, given the participation rate? You reckon?

      Or if we could get old those old buggers out of the workplace and into the caravan parks and onto the pension, there'd be no youf unemployment anywhere. .

      I think the problem lies in the idea of what an economy does David. It serves our needs... not the reverse. And one of those needs is for gainful productive well-paid work and your economic system can't do it.

      So we drag along an underclass - third generation welfare dependants - not really here ... just mouths not hands, spat out and marginalised.

      Bloody women, oldies, foreigners all stealing the food from our very mouths.

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    84. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Actually, Peter, we are doing much better in 2013, because the standard of living and comfort of an unemployed person in 2013 is greater than an employed solidly middle class family of the 1950s.

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    85. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to David Thompson

      I bow to your superior knowledge of the living conditions of the unemployed and marginalised.

      But of course if we let wages fall to the equilibrium, killed penalty rates, stripped away the red tape re sacking people there'd be no unemployment at all would there?

      Anyway I take great comfort from your analysis re the particpation rate. I knew it would be women to blame...it'd be them feminists with their glass ceilings I reckon ... and don't forget old people - they're stealing our kiddies' jobs as well.

      Who do these surplus humans think they are?

      David economies serve social needs - our needs - not the other way around.

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    86. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter, YOU might advocate a subsistence-level minimum wage, I certainly do not.

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    87. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter, WHO on earth is "blaming" women/feminists and for what? What is being pointed out is that YOUR dreams of the glory days of the "full employment" 50/60s meant BY DEFINITION, women in the kitchen/bedroom. Not my ideological ideal, sport, but yours.

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    88. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      "I bow to your superior knowledge of the living conditions of the unemployed and marginalised."
      Peter, if you get an attack of the vapours when comparing living standards at different points in history, you'd better leave the economics and history to those with a bit more grit; especially when the times compared are a whole 50 years apart.

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    89. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to David Thompson

      David, for a market researcher ypou seem to spend a lot of time telling people what they think. Does that work well in your chosen vocation?

      I don't think you are serious about engaging in conversation - you just like to argue... not the same thing actually.

      To be honest I find your views on most subjects devoid of study or reading... perhaps other than ancient greece ... I don't know enough to judge. I look forward to reading your views should that topic appear here.

      And no I'm not…

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    90. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Marc Richard Lachance

      "What I find sadly amusing is that the "Trade Liberalisation" party is pushing for more government subsidy and spending, and that the "Trade Union" party is attempting to be Fiscal-Ratonalist.."
      Marc, the real irony is that Malcolm Fraser was the staunch mercantilist. It took a trade-unionist from bootlaces to branch bovver-boy - Paul Keating - to blowtorch the mercantilist barnacles off the Australian political economy. I still nearly knock myself out rolling my eyes every time somebody whinges…

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    91. Marc Richard Lachance

      Warehouse Manager

      In reply to David Thompson

      David,
      I'm really only in a position to comment from experience from about the time of the Keating hostile-take-over, but yes: I think the "two parties" act more and more like rival teams within the same code...
      "Neocon" economic policy seems very ineffective, but the darling of all, regardless of thier professed "-ism"...
      Actually, however, Howard vocally promised no GST in his election run - then instigated after making office...
      Little Johnnie perfected the art of playing the media cycle:
      1. Promise the sun and moon
      2. get elected
      3. immediately break most promises
      4. allow 2 to 3 years for memory failure of the masses
      5. rinse & repeat
      It's a solid method that works well - our Collin is a devotee here in the West...

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    92. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Marc Richard Lachance

      Marc, I was not living in Australia at the beginning of Australia's reign, but I did pop back a couple of times for work and weddings. Yes, I recall the footage of Howard saying "never, ever" about the GST. But wasn't this during the 1996 election? And I'm pretty sure that during his first term in office, he did not implement a GST. But when his first term was up, didn't Howard go to the 1998 election baring all, completely upfront that he'd implement a GST if elected? He was elected, the GST was implemented, with a hell of a lot of opposition, including Kim Beazley's pledge that if he we were elected in 2001, he would "roll back the GST", and sayonara to the Democrats, for their silly opposition.

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    93. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to David Thompson

      Marc, I was not living in Australia at the beginning of HOWARD's reign,

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    94. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to David Thompson

      "...As useless as pockets in underpants...."

      I have some underpants with pockets and I find them very useful, so I assume you were being ironic.

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    95. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Yes, no doubt useful for chair moistening.

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    96. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      "Depends I guess on the degree to which one regards the USSR, China and the likes of North Korea as 'communism' ... well socialism really."
      On a purely banal level, one can always inquire into the ideological concepts and materiality of matters one is discussing, but here, this banality is quickly dealt with. One method I find that is both expeditious and evidence of the good faith with which one intends addressing the matter is to accept at face-value each parties description of itself, account…

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    97. Jack Arnold

      Director

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Hi Peter, I break in here to thank you for your fabulous contribution on the CSG article that has been closed to comments after only 21/21 comments supported the anti-CSG argument.

      As the election approaches, it appears that the TC Editorial Board remain dedicated to promoting Liberal Party propaganda rather than allowing discussion of contrary viewpoints or policies from readers who, experience shows, are frequently better informed than the authors.

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    98. Jack Arnold

      Director

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Then on a local level that Arthur Phillip has a lot to answer for by refusing to accept slavery for convicts when given his orders for English settlement of Australia in 1786.

      But Peter, you are too hard on Wilberforce. The real culprit was the famous English judge in about 1833 who freed about 75,000 slaves held in the UK. This created all sorts of difficulties for the sugar trade in the West Indies and resulted in English slave traders shifting their 'manpower' to the USA cotton industry while English money invested in the West Indies sugar moved into the Australian wool trade.

      Damned progressive English religious sects insisting that all people are created equal in the sight of God and so creating problems for the self-selected 'borne to rules'.

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    99. Jack Arnold

      Director

      In reply to Ben Cooling

      Hi Ben, thank you for your comment. I was defending one of my political heroes in general terms.

      Your points in paragraph 3 are well made, but I quibble. The US banks gave us the GFC with their undiluted greed. The US Bush Jr Republican government refused to let the banks fail, unlike Iceland that now has a booming economy again (and a small international legal matter to resolve because the Icelandic government properly declined to guarantee the banks' dereliction).

      In capitalism there is no such thing as a business that is "too big to fail".

      The international economic academics gave the Australian Labor government response to the GFC 12/10 for effectiveness.

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    100. Jack Arnold

      Director

      In reply to David Thompson

      Oh dear David ... get out here in the fresh air and open spaces of regional Australia and we'll show you a wool industry on its knees thanks to China and Japan buying about 80% of the wool clip for prices that make cattle a better economic alternative income for rural property owners.

      You remind me of the local 'borne to rules' who vote for the Notional party you have to celebrate a 19th century future so they can look forward to the forthcoming 1950s wool boom.

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    101. Jack Arnold

      Director

      In reply to David Thompson

      I dunno David, I think Peter has hit the nail on the head. Certainly for one parent families in the 50s/60s life was no cakewalk without suitable government family subsidies while corporation profits basked in sunshine of protected markets.

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    102. Jack Arnold

      Director

      In reply to Bernie Masters

      Uhm ... this is a little bit of selective memory Bernie.

      The Australian Democrats committed political hari-kari (sp?) when the lIttle Black Hen allowed her Liberal party boyfriend to talk her into bending over for Howard to allow GST. The electorate then consigned the Democrats to the WPB of Australian political history for failing "to keep the bastards honest" as founder Don Chip had promised ... and practised. The Liberals were well pleased.

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    103. Peter Redshaw

      Retired

      In reply to Marc Richard Lachance

      Marc, I agree that the points of this articles in regards to the political process apply equally to both political parties. I disagree that the functional differences between the ALP and coalition are almost trivial. There may be be plenty of things that I disagree with labor on, but I prefer any day their brand of progressive policies over the regressive ones of the coalition any day.

      But than maybe that is not because I am not simply looking at it from a me-ism voting point of view. As I…

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    104. Peter Redshaw

      Retired

      In reply to Bernie Masters

      Bernie, comparing the economy and unemployment levels of the 1960s with today is not comparing likes with likes. Not only has the whole economy changed and with it the skills sets needed, women are a much greater component of the workforce.

      But even using the 1960s as a comparison is a bit of a misnomer. I started work in the latter 1960s and even then the economy and skills levels and with it unemployment was starting to change. By the 1970s that change was in full swing with the 1980's…

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    105. Bernie Masters

      environmental consultant at FIA Technology Pty Ltd, B K Masters and Associates

      In reply to Peter Redshaw

      Peter, thanks for the comments. I'm not saying we should compare our lot with what Australia was like 50 years ago. I'm simply saying that we need to first understand ourselves and our situation by asking are we happy, are we employed, is our welfare system delivering as we hope, etc - in other words, we should first do an internal assessment of how our economy is traveling. Then, if we're not happy with some or all of it, an external assessment will tell us if and where we can improve as there is…

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    106. Peter Redshaw

      Retired

      In reply to Bernie Masters

      Bernie, maybe there are a small proportion of young people that fit your example, but the very large majority that I have had experience with don't. Part of the problem with that small proportion of young people might be a result of two main factor. One being the fact that many of them come from families with a history of unemployment as well as family dysfunction problems. The other is the fact that the education system and the larger society has failed them in being able to intervene and support…

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    107. ernest malley

      farmer

      In reply to David Thompson

      DaveT - why am I not surprised that you, allegedly in market research, would think classical (Periclean?) Athens "<I>humanity's greatest moment of civilization</I>" despite there being more slaves than citizens (aka males) and not a mention of the distaff side, apart from the silly satire of Aristophanes' "LYSISTRATA".
      Nice missing of every salient point in the article. Did someone mention Cognitive Dissonance?

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    108. Bernie Masters

      environmental consultant at FIA Technology Pty Ltd, B K Masters and Associates

      In reply to Peter Redshaw

      Peter, we obviously seem to move in different circles but I'm unable to agree with your assessments. Last year, I spent a month in the Pilbara and most young people's menial jobs were taken by European backpackers. Friends in their 60s regularly travel north to make extra money so business owners can take some annual leave. I have a 74 year old friend who drives buses at a mine site 2 months of every year to pay for his cruises. Near where I live in SW WA, all cafes and restaurants have trouble employing…

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    109. Peter Redshaw

      Retired

      In reply to Bernie Masters

      Bernie, maybe I do move in different circles to you. But maybe it might be that I simply don't base my whole opinion of particular groups of people on a narrow selection of that particular group. There are always a small number of people who abuse the system no matter what part of society they come from whether the unemployed or in business, but you don't tar the whole with that brush.

      As for 457 visas I have seen a number of instances where business and particular companies have been demonstrated…

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    110. Gary Dean Brisneyland

      Sustainable Environments and Planning Student

      In reply to Peter Redshaw

      My brain hurts. Whatever happened to learning by living? If thee (man/woman) hasn't caught a fish before retirement, thee probably never will.

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    111. Jerry Cornelius

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to David Thompson

      '...humanity's greatest moment of civilization - classical Athens - had NO taxation...'

      But plenty of slaves, and a large, non-slave population mostly deprived of the franchise. Just fine and dandy if you were one of the vanishingly small fraction of the population called 'citizen', but pretty bloody awful if you were anybody else.

      Certainly not civilized by any modern standard.

      With your tenuous grasp of history you really should avoid analogies like the one above and the rest of your Cold War drivel.

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    112. Peter Redshaw

      Retired

      In reply to Gary Dean Brisneyland

      We all learn from living, but the question is what do each of us really learn? Even when it comes to catching a fish, we all tend to learn that by instruction from someone. I know I did not come with some built in instructions on how to catch a fish or for that matter how to not only live, but live a good life.

      I know I learnt how to fish from my father although I could have also said my mother as they both loved to fish. And I know I learn't most of what I needed to know of how to live a good life from my parents. But I know I needed to learn a hell of a lot of other stuff from a lot of other people along the way as well.

      How much you learn depends on the family you were born into and the people you meet on the way through life. If you are lucky they teach you what you need to know rather than providing you the examples of what you don't want to know or experience for that matter.

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    113. Michael Vinnegan

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to David Thompson

      You are just making things up now. No need to actually check history or anything before you make statements.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_ancient_Greece

      Yes - Athens had taxation - how do you think it paid for the triremes and public buildings. Yes there was a considerable income from newly uncovered silver mines, but it wasn't the sole source of income.

      When it became the Athenian Empire, taxation existed in the form of tribute from subjugated states. So if you are suggesting Australia engage in some sort of colonialism you might be right.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_ancient_Greece

      I just love the way to right wing people never think that facts are important. "Oh the scientists are wrong on global warming - not Andrew Bolt."

      "Oh, we don't trust economists on our costing figures - we trust ourselves."

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    114. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Michael Vinnegan

      Er, Michael, I said the Athenians paid no INCOME tax, which they did not. Then I gave a very brief account of all the features of classical Athens you mentioned, and relevant revenue sources. Except my knowledge comes from a History degree, not Tourette's links to Wikipedia, which do not even make your point one bit. But you don't care, when you can find another completely irrelevant thread to obsess over Andrew Bolt, whose knowledge of Athenian finance from Cleisthenes to the death of Alexander the Great, I've never heard him share. And if he has, we'll never find out from you, because all you can see is Andrew Bolt and AGW in 2013.

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    115. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Michael Vinnegan

      Er, Michael, I said the Athenians paid no INCOME tax, which they did not. Then I gave a very brief account of all the features of classical Athens you mentioned, and relevant revenue sources. Except my knowledge comes from a History degree, not Tourette's links to Wikipedia, which do not even make your point one bit. But you don't care, when you can find another completely irrelevant thread to obsess over Andrew Bolt, whose knowledge of Athenian finance from Cleisthenes to the death of Alexander the Great, I've never heard him share. And if he has, we'll never find out from you, because all you can see is Andrew Bolt and AGW in 2013.

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    116. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to ernest malley

      "DaveT - why am I not surprised that you, allegedly in market research, would think classical (Periclean?) Athens "<I>humanity's greatest moment of civilization</I>" despite there being more slaves than citizens (aka males) and not a mention of the distaff side, apart from the silly satire of Aristophanes' "LYSISTRATA"."
      Ernest, this is without peer the most incoherent sentence i've read on TC for at least a few days. As you clearly have no knowledge of the period, the people, and their ways, your…

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    117. Michael Vinnegan

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to David Thompson

      Mike, humanity's greatest moment of civilization - classical Athens - had NO taxation. Sure, that example had all sort of other unique qualities, but you did ask "could you explain how no taxation would lead to anything other than a lack of civilisation".

      That's your quote above. You never said INCOME tax.

      You have just proven again that you change facts to suit whatever crazy right wing nonsense you are spouting.

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    118. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Michael Vinnegan

      Michael, I have posted more than just one comment on this article. ;)

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  3. terry lockwood

    maths/media/music/drama teacher

    Regrettably 'Whatever It Takes' won't be remembered as Richo (Graham)'s mantra but that of 'Esserdon's (spelling intended). And Richo, in most people's, minds is Mathew Richardson.

    Perhaps we get the politics, politicians and media we deserve.

    (And I will be handing out cards on Saturday week.)

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  4. Peter Ormonde

    Farmer

    Top piece Barry ... and you are far far from alone.

    I have never encountered such a feeling of abandonment and despair in the electorate. It's hard to find anyone looking forward to polling day, other than simply getting it over and done with.

    And it's not about Tony vs Kevin or any of that rubbish - it's about disgust with the whole business.

    And the great moral issue of our times sinks like a brick in a pond... Moral? - we don't do 'moral' in our politics any more... we do polls and we 'lead' from behind them.

    And in chasing down, begging and cajoling those shifting votes, Labor loses its base, its vague promise of hope and real difference. We are being treated like dolts and morons. It is an insult.

    Every time I see a Labor ad I want to cry.

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    1. Martin Male

      Somatic Psychotherapist

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Yes I agree. I have never felt so despondent about both our country the the democratic system we have now!

      We need to be mindful of not letting them take, by disengaging though;)

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    2. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Martin Male

      No Martin I don't think we'll be disengaging ... we'll all end up being responsible and voting for the least worst option. But I think we'll all feel a bit dirty and used come Saturday night... need a good hot shower I'd reckon.

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    3. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Martin Male

      Warren Buffett, "There's class warfare, all right, but it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning". You only need a vision of aar Gina , on the back of a truck, broom pearls and argyle diamonds swinging wildly on her bosom, shrieking, "axe the tax". and lap dog tony..
      What will people think of "father" Tony after a couple of years. Not much I think.

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    4. Jack Arnold

      Director

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Well said Peter ... so consider the dilemma of thinking persons in New England where the LIberal Party claims Barnaby Joyce as part of "our Liberal team" and remember the neglect of the 40 years when they last had a Notional Party representative in the electorate.

      Still,'there is an Independent choice' and we can 'keep New England Independent' by voting for Rob Taber, locally resident Armidale business person who does NOT own about 1,000ha of CSG country in the Pilliga Scrub Santos CSG lease.

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  5. Gerard Dean

    Managing Director

    Barry Jones, one of my life long heroes!!!!!

    You were a champion of industry and innovation which is still remembered out here in industry land.

    However, I am not so sure I agree that the standard of political discourse has changed much over the years. I know this because I often regale my young workmates about much I looked forward to the drive home from work during Paul Keating's time in parliament.

    Who can forget his memorable line in Question Time - Being attacked by the Leader of the Opposition is like being whipped by a dead sheep. It bought the house down on both sides and won the day.

    Actually Barry, I suggest the reason that you think politics has dropped a level is because you never stooped to the rough stuff whilst in politics preferring to talk about science and innovation.

    A Barry Jones Fan signing off.

    Gerard Dean

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    1. Gerard Dean

      Managing Director

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      (And that Barry, is from a Liberal voter)

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  6. David Thompson

    Marketing Research

    "Lindsay Tanner contends that 1993, when he was elected to the House of Representatives, was the high point of rationality in Australian politics but by 2010, when he left, it had sunk to an abyss of populism, despite our rising participation rates in education."
    Lindsay Tanner was a Communist, FFS. Hardly an adjudicator of "rationality". Though when it came to Gillard, he proved to be a very good judge of character.

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    1. Jack Arnold

      Director

      In reply to David Thompson

      Lindsay Tanner was an effective Minister and possible future Labor leader in many people's eyes.

      Then I am reminded that the most effective union representatives were always "Communist trained" and dedicated to improving the whole community rather than only kowtowing to elites.

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    2. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to David Thompson

      ".....Lindsay Tanner was a Communist, FFS. Hardly an adjudicator of "rationality"....."

      So David, I must be missing this one. Could you explain why communism and rationality are mutually exclusive constructs.

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    3. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to David Thompson

      George Bernard Shaw observed that anyone who wasn't a communist at twenty was a fool, but anyone who was still a communist at thirty was an even bigger fool. Tanner, like many of use, leapt both hurdles smoothly and probably a tad precociously whereas you, I gather, simply fell at the first.

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    4. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to David Thompson

      George Bernard Shaw observed that, if you're not a communist at twenty, you're a fool, but if you're still a communist at thirty you're an even bigger fool. Tanner, like many of us, jumped both hurdles successfully - indeed probably precociously - while you, it seems, simply fell at the first.

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    5. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      "Could you explain why communism and rationality are mutually exclusive constructs."
      Because, the entire cognitive framework surrounding Communism was built on Judeo-Christian eschatalogical mysticism for a utopia to come; a utopia, which paradoxically, mirrors the prelapsarian world of no money or private property rights; a world remarkably similar to primitive tribal peoples, such as the Iroquois.

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    6. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Felix, is there any record of Shaw saying that? Others attribute it to Churchill and so on. The one verified source is Otto von Bismarck, who did say:
      "He who is not a socialist at 19, has no heart. He who is still a socialist at 30, has no brain."
      In 2013, are there are many 19 year old Socialists?
      While I loved Pygmalion, a lot Shaw's writings could only be stomached by the coarsest of Communists. On Soviet Communism, Shaw visited Russia, palled around with Joe Stalin, and wrote apologies for Stalin, denying the Soviet famines, gulags, slavery, show trials, etc.
      On Science, Shaw was not only a Lysenkoist, but a voluble pamphleteer for eugenics. None of these things were shocking at the time, because these things were the essence of Socialism.
      Still in the 21st century, you might be a little more thoughtful in the authorities you choose to bolster your championing of Communism.

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    7. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to David Thompson

      I must say I don't know the exact source - it may be an urban legend, but it is a remarkably frequent and persistent one if it is. Either way, does it matter much whether it was Shaw, Chrurchill or Bismark?

      But the real point is that, while you like to split hairs like this, you can't resist totally displaying your irrationality by suggesting that I am 'championing Communism'. Anyone who considers that quote to be championing communism lives in a very special little world of personal paranoia.

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    8. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      "does it matter much whether it was Shaw, Chrurchill or Bismark?"
      Actually, it really, really, REALLY matters so much, because pf what your eugenicist Stalinist pal, George Bernard Shaw, actually said.

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    9. Jack Arnold

      Director

      In reply to David Thompson

      Uhm a demurrer ... actually Lysenko genetics has an experimental basis but this did not suit the US political policies of the 1950s; eugenics was practised in Australia since the early 1800s with the genocide of Aboriginal Australians, White Australia has a Black History; the Isaacs CJ (1905) HIgh Court judgment condemned Aboriginal Australia to be stateless in their own country and legal non-entities doomed to extinction by government policy of outbreeding ... but I digress ...

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    10. Jack Arnold

      Director

      In reply to David Thompson

      Uhm David ... and the Australian Aborigines that Europeans attempted to exterminate for about 200 years. Must be something in this "mysticism for a utopia to come" because the Aborigines are still here.

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    11. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Jack Arnold

      Yes, Jack, there is a lot in that tat explains the disastour fo the Socialist. A lesson they might have learnt a lot sooner, had the encountered the material regression of particularly the Tasmanian Aborigines. Sure, thney were assholes, authoritarians, kooks, an ideological astral travelers, but one things the Socialists did know was true. Living in humpies sucks.

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    12. Chris Saunders

      retired

      In reply to David Thompson

      I think David it's not so much 'mysticism for a utopia to come' that was so bad for the peoples of Russia and its satellite states, but 'State Capitalism', just as it was for the German people under Hitler.

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  7. Stephanus Cecil Barnard

    Town planner and freelance writer at Kalahariozzie

    An interesting article. As a person, who is not a lifelong Australian or a member of any political party, it was a good informative read showing the colours.

    The problem the Australian politicians, and the Aussie media have, is exactly 23 years of economic growth and democracy, both items you should be extrodinarly proud of.
    Precisely due to the economic welbeing of the average person with a McMansion, plasma screen TV, European car etc., is that it has become the new normal. The average…

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    1. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Stephanus Cecil Barnard

      "As an exSouth African where the news papers are filled with daily ongoing horror stories of rape, murder, politicians stealing millions (and getting away with it), the newspapers here is pure boring bliss."
      Yet, in first year Law classes across the country, Law lecturers insist we should follow the examples of countries like South Africa in our legal arrangements. I asked one, "have you ever been to S.Africa"? The response was that was irrelevant to what sort of Constitution it should have, let alone what sort WE should have. Unbelievable!

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    2. Stephanus Cecil Barnard

      Town planner and freelance writer at Kalahariozzie

      In reply to David Thompson

      David, not wanting to hog this otherwise entertaining conversation, I offer the following: During the negotiations to end apartheid, the various participating parties (the departing white government commonly known as the NP, the various fringe parties and the current government, the ANC) whipped up a really world class Constitution, and some brilliant anti-discrimination legislation. That legislation, and the constitution is still heralded as world leading. The sad part is, as with many pieces of…

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    3. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Stephanus Cecil Barnard

      Stephanus, I am - to my shame - completely ignorant of the history of how South Africa began the project of building a post-apartheid society. Experience from similar political situations suggests that human imagination, spirit, and passion, is captured more by drama, conflict, and bloodshed, than constitutional conventions.
      Nevertheless, when post-apartheid (PA) South Africa became a compulsory topic of my university reading list, I was really shocked at S.Africa's PA constitutional, legal, bureaucratic…

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    4. Bernie Masters

      environmental consultant at FIA Technology Pty Ltd, B K Masters and Associates

      In reply to Stephanus Cecil Barnard

      Stephanus, can I please raise something with you in acknowledgement of your far greater knowledge of South Africa than my own? In hindsight, it seems to me that it was a mistake for the world to impose tough economic sanctions against South Africa in an attempt to force the apartheid government out of office. I ask this not because I was a supporter of that government or its policies but because, when majority democratic government came into effect, Mandela and his government found they didn't have the economic ability to provide many of its citizens with basic services such as housing, water, education, etc. I'm curious whether, if the South African economy had been as stronger as its mining and other industries could have been at the time when Mandela became president, the previously disenfranchised black citizens could have been provided with better services and infrastructure.
      I'd be grateful for your views on this.

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    5. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Stephanus Cecil Barnard

      Oh we have our moments of constitutional cacophony, Stephanus.

      I assume you were well away elsewhere in 1975 but that set us back on our ears a bit ... No one knew much about these 'conventions' and unwritten gentlemen's agreements that actually substitute for clearly defined rules and procedures...the sort of constitution you have when you don't have a constitution... a surprise package inherited from our attachment to all things English... lots of wiggle room and interpretation.

      We - conservatives and bolshies alike didn't actually realise that these kingly apron strings were still firmly attached and that we were not quite as self-government as we'd assumed.

      Must be heartbreaking to see what's happening in southern Africa over recent years.

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    6. Stephanus Cecil Barnard

      Town planner and freelance writer at Kalahariozzie

      In reply to Bernie Masters

      This is a reply to Bernie Master's question regarding the impact of economic sanctions on South Africa's (ZA) economy during apartheid.

      The economic sanctions was tough, we had a sky-high inflation and interest rate at the same time, we struggled to get access to technology. Example: I recall at Uni, students / parents & lecturers who travelled overseas would buy handbooks in the UK or USA and we would photocopy it, as handbooks was simply not available due to sanctions. (So all out town planning…

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  8. John Clark

    Manager

    Barry's submission quite accurately describes the present situation, fulfilling the first step of identifying the problem, inviting the next step of understanding why and how it has arisen, and then to the ultimate solution of correction. The why is that societies are to a large extent unable to manage affluence, since it removes the need for aspiration. As a society, we have reached the stage where "too much is never enough" and lost the urge to work towards desirable goals. Psychologists among us could no doubt define the condition professionally. If unchecked, it will inevitably lead to a gradual erosion of standards from which there will be no return. One solution would be a national catastrophe (like a war) where the populace would unite toward a common goal through adversity and hardship. How this could otherwise be achieved is the challenge for us all.

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  9. Bernie Masters

    environmental consultant at FIA Technology Pty Ltd, B K Masters and Associates

    "The Murdoch papers are no longer reporting the news, but shaping it." Why did people like Barry Jones not complain after the 1993 election which Rupert Murdoch proudly said he helped win for Paul Keating? I fear there are some double standards applying here, although I agree with the squalid state of political debate in Australia (and around the world for that matter) at present.
    I'm also curious why Barry Jones doesn't criticise the major cancer affecting politics in Australia: public funding…

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    1. Dorothy Button

      logged in via email @optusnet.com.au

      In reply to Bernie Masters

      The 1993 reporting of the election by Murdoch's New Corp had a considerable degree of journalistic input and a knowledgeable capacity for analysis of politics. The Keating Goverment which was a very good government was recognised as such by Rupert Murdoch who we all know wants to back winners.
      Now Mr Murdoch actually chooses to be the winner and he participates to this end. That is the difference. He has much to lose as he gets older and more desperate. His "papers" reflect such a desperation it is humiliating for the general Australian public to have to tolerate even headlines at the local newsagent.

      You, Mr Masters and many observers, picture the Murdoch papers of then to be as they are now. That is not the case.
      They are now vitriolic trash productions that do not report news. The argument you put forward does not apply.

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    2. Bernie Masters

      environmental consultant at FIA Technology Pty Ltd, B K Masters and Associates

      In reply to Dorothy Button

      Dorothy, have a look at my blog article http://berniemasters.blogspot.com.au/2011/07/rupert-murdoch-and-political-influence.html
      and you'll see that Murdoch was bragging about how he helped Keating get elected in 1993. I agree that Keating did a lot of good but that doesn't change the fact that Rupert Murdoch deliberately used his newspapers at that time to have him elected. As such, his behaviour then was as unacceptable as it is now.

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    3. Dorothy Button

      logged in via email @optusnet.com.au

      In reply to Bernie Masters

      The quality of political debate and the quality of his papers were not what they are now.
      They were newspapers then. They are just graffiti now.

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    4. Bernie Masters

      environmental consultant at FIA Technology Pty Ltd, B K Masters and Associates

      In reply to Dorothy Button

      Dorothy, you seem to be saying that, in 1993, because the Murdoch newspapers favoured the ALP, they were quality newspapers. Now, because they favour the Liberals, they're just graffiti. Sorry but I don't agree. Both then and now, the Murdoch papers report a mixture of news and opinion. Little has changed except the faces of the players in the game.

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    5. Jack Arnold

      Director

      In reply to Dorothy Button

      Well said Dorothy. Then there is the 'public policy' example being set for the benefit of both UK and USA politicians ... "see what Murdoch media did to Labor in Australia now bend over and do my bidding or you will get the same".

      As noted elsewhere, these are the same policies followed in Weimar Germany before the 1933 democratic election of the fascists to political power to act at the behest of heavy industrialists and their cohorts.

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  10. Marian Macdonald

    logged in via Twitter

    Barry Jones has summed up exactly why it is, for the first time in my life, I just don't want to cast a vote. How can we change this?

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    1. Jack Arnold

      Director

      In reply to Marian Macdonald

      Vote for the local Independent of your choice.

      Independents get things done for their communities.

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  11. Michael Lardelli

    logged in via Facebook

    With both sides of politics pushing for rapid population growth in spite of the lack of any real economic justification for it (other than gross GDP growth numbers) rationality will not return to politics any time soon it seems!

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  12. Stephen H

    In a contemplative fashion...

    I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiments expressed here.

    - We've never had it so good - but if a politician says that they are crucified. Better to stick with "we'll all be rooned"
    - We are under-taxed. I can afford to pay more, as can most Australians - government is about helping all of us. From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs
    - Fear and loathing seem to be the drivers of politics now. There is no rational debate, just "you can't trust those guys" and the…

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    1. Martin Male

      Somatic Psychotherapist

      In reply to Stephen H

      Thanks her eSteve well written and expressed. I agree wholeheartedly with your perspective. Without taxes we may as well let Murdoch and his mob run the world.I am sure he would agree with this. I find it very interesting how those who pay the most ( well at least theoretically ) shout about the poor workers being taxed so heavily.
      It is also relevant that the two main reason News corp is set up where it is are low taxes and little accountability. Murdoch claims other should be held accountable yet runs from any personal accountability when it applies to him, e.g the phone hacking in the UK. Protecting the workers interest or the common man what absolute drivel!! Murdoch has only one interest his own!

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  13. christopher gow

    gainfully employed

    Good to read Barry Jones' thoughts. I am old enough to remember the BP Pick a Box days when Barry was the bearded intellectual who occasionally clashed with the All-Aussie VC Frank Partridge.
    His contribution as a minister and ALP president I thought were outstanding, he perhaps somewhat held back the tide of infantile politics that has since overwhelmed us.
    Is there a way to reverse this trend? I have some hope that when Bill Shorten replaces Mr Rudd (in a few weeks) there may be an improvement. Abbott's triumph will likely prevent any change from the coalition, why change a winning format; as Jones observes, even Hockey seems to have abandoned rational discourse.

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  14. Meredyth Woodward
    Meredyth Woodward is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Educator

    "Morgan polls indicated that in 2008 35% of Australians nominated the environment as a major issue: by 2013 this has fallen to 7%".
    A robo poll I completed did not even include the option of 'the environment' (or climate change) as one of the eight election issues offered to me for prioritisation...so no wonder!

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    1. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Meredyth Woodward

      It's in the choice of questions that the greatest space exists for manipulating polls and opinion.

      You don't need to massage the numbers or chase the strays if by simply imposing a political framework you've already herded us all into the truck heading off to the saleyards.

      So throughout Gillard's leadership, one constant recurring question - Kevin ... keeping the hope alive.

      So we ask 'who will stop the boats' rather than 'should we'.

      Or yes you drop off the issues that the pundits…

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    2. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Meredyth Woodward

      Meredyth, polls also reveal that 95% of little girls would like a pony. 5% say they'd prefer a unicorn, but will take the pony, if that's all that's on offer.

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  15. Erica Jolly

    Writer about education

    Classical Athens, not only relied on slave labour, it did not educate girls. Pericles may have valued his mistress for her intelligence but only the male citizens had the vote and only the male citizens could listen to philosophers and sophists who despised democracy, Socrates, who dared to question, was forced to drink hemlock. Moreover, the artistic brilliance brought to Athens by Pericles was very soon lost when Cleon, the bullying populist, gained power by appealing to the lowest common denominator he could. Look at the cost to Athens of his period in power.

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    1. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Erica Jolly

      Erica, thanks for that revolutionary new data on Classical Athens. I'll update my Facebook page.

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    2. Marc Richard Lachance

      Warehouse Manager

      In reply to David Thompson

      Erica's point ties this whole topic up fairly neatly...
      Though I'm not a supporter of monarchism or fascism, democracy has two intrinsic weaknesses that can be easily exploited. The first is lack of participation - if only the fringe and "true believers" vote, the system fails (see US presidential elections)...
      The second is simple general ignorance: if the population is misdirected and poorly informed and educated, very little isaccomplished by taking a vote - the majority can easily get it "wrong" in a truly objective sense (though we tend only to determine this in the history books).
      Australia does well on the first count - and though we are a generally well educatd society (relatively speaking) it's becomng a full-time job to weed out the signal from the noise...

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    3. Brandon Young

      Retired

      In reply to Marc Richard Lachance

      Really you are making a single point. Democracy requires collective rationality.

      Whatever each individual may think or believe, the political process must deliver sustainable, rational policy. This is not possible given the media we have, and the effects it has had on the psychological state of the population.

      With reference to earlier argument from others, "democratic capitalism" gave way to "consumer capitalism" a long time ago.

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  16. Alan John Hunter

    Retired

    The sad part is we would never get this sort of perceptive essay from anybody from either the Liberal or National parties, and it will probably be the last time for along time that we get it from the ALP.

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  17. Gary Dean Brisneyland

    Sustainable Environments and Planning Student

    "It's time!" A two word slogan from the early seventies and it won Labor the election. but enough of minimalism.

    Barry says, "The Murdoch papers are no longer reporting the news, but shaping it." He also says 'the Environment' has fallen off the political landscape and he offers many ways that it could be woven into this campaign. Well, yes, Murdoch does buy ink by the barrel, so has every media outlet since the quill.

    Do outlets ever write for the people? Murdoch is mentioned by Barry…

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    1. Brandon Young

      Retired

      In reply to Gary Dean Brisneyland

      Murdoch is no longer in the news business. His product is ignorant and willing consumers.

      He is so good at his business, that the market is now flooded with his product. Unfortunately, they get to vote.

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    2. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Brandon Young

      "Unfortunately, they get to vote."
      Lovely attitude. Probably explains why the readers of Rupert's tabloids have overwhelmingly voted Labor non-stop since his newspapers first appeared in the 1960s. Check out the addresses of the readership, and you'll lucky to find more than a handful that have voted for the Coalition these past 40 years or so.

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    3. Brandon Young

      Retired

      In reply to David Thompson

      Nothing wrong with the attitude. Possibly too much presumption in the expression ...

      It is not unfortunate that particular people get to vote. It is unfortunate that the deliberate dumbing down of the population has the effect of driving the centre of political gravity to the right. It is unfortunate that democracy has been undermined by what Murdoch has achieved.

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    4. Jack Arnold

      Director

      In reply to Gary Dean Brisneyland

      Ah ... the wit and wisdom of a student fresh out of nappies and crowing loudly ... if lacking knowledge of the topic. Nice to see an example of fight for change in the younger generation (X?/ Y?/ Z?/ whatever)

      Rule 1 in News Ltd: Profits come first before everything.

      Rule 2: Read Rule 1 again.

      From UK experience, it appears possible that Murdoch will expect to either be gifted the ABC or have the funding crippled so that Foxsmell becomes the only news service able to fund itself.

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    5. Jack Arnold

      Director

      In reply to David Thompson

      Uhm, a demurrer David. The Murdoch Media empire was started by Sir Kieth after WWI about the 1930s as the Adelaide Advertiser which Rupert inherited on the sudden death of his father.

      Both Packer and Fairfax were quite disturbed that Rupert made a go of the papers because those other families coveted the Advertiser and the Sydney Daily Mirror from which The Australian was spawned about 1964.

      James Packer sold out of newspapers to fund his casino projects.

      Warwick Fairfax sent the Fairfax empire broke and Conrad Black sold off many of the assets.

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    6. Gary Dean Brisneyland

      Sustainable Environments and Planning Student

      In reply to Jack Arnold

      Well, actually I'm an adult student. My point in making any comment at all here is that the ABC runs Rupert's headlines as if they were their own. ABC does not analyse those headlines, they use them, but don't trust me on that; watch News24 Breakfast for a month. Barry mentioned a lack of the environment in the current election campaign and yet publicly funded ABC News24 Breakfast wouldn't, couldn't, doesn't or won't highlight climate change as an issue on any regular basis, or for that matter…

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    7. Bernie Masters

      environmental consultant at FIA Technology Pty Ltd, B K Masters and Associates

      In reply to Gary Dean Brisneyland

      I was listening to ABC radio yesterday afternoon and one item in the news was the latest polling results which showed that federal treasurer Bowen was behind. For the next 30 seconds or so, we heard Bowen saying why he should be re-elected. This was blatant promotion of an ALP candidate by a public funded radio station - disgraceful!

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    8. Gary Dean Brisneyland

      Sustainable Environments and Planning Student

      In reply to Bernie Masters

      Well Bernie, good point, but partially that's what ABC is there for, reporting reason (hopefully with impartiality). But then, what happened after that 30 seconds (more or less)??

      So, anyway, it may Murdoch's News is unreasonable in elections reporting of but Barry also went head-to-head with environmental issues being unheard there. I went further and suggested a look at the ABC. Where is ABC News24 environmental reporting? I suggest a study, an audit on ABC News24.

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    9. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Jack Arnold

      Jack, well I'll see your demurrer, and raise you three "bollocks." My point is that Rupert does not king-make and does not bring down government Oh, and there was no "Media empire" in the 1930s, just a salaried journalist, Keith Murdoch, working - eventually running - other people's empire. Which was how he died in 1953, basically broke, but by a weird turn of events, his early death meant a contractual agreement kick in, requiring HWT transfereing the :Adelaide News" to Rupert. But this nothing like "Murdoch's empire".
      My evidence is that since Rupert started pumping his alleged far-right ideology, since the 1960s, Rupert Murdoch's tabloid readers have never paid any attention to Murdoch, electoral demands. They have always but continued to vote ALP, basically without drawing breath.

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    10. Brandon Young

      Retired

      In reply to David Thompson

      David, you have missed the point. It is about far more than who gets the next term of government. They can vote ALP if they like, because the ALP has to keep moving to the right to chase an election winning share of the vote.

      Murdoch's great skill is to pound out a crafted narrative that can relieve most minds of the effort required to see truth for themselves. He can craft "truth" as a blanket of protection for unaccountable power, and for that service, draw power for himself.

      There is a positive feedback effect between the electorate and the political parties. As the electorate become more ignorant, the political process becomes less rational, and we end up with public policy that makes the electorate ever more ignorant.

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    11. Brandon Young

      Retired

      In reply to Gary Dean Brisneyland

      Gary, I agree with you on the ABC, and especially News 24. Maybe they need to hit some ratings target to ensure continued support and have to chase the audience to the right, just like the major political parties?

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    12. Gary Dean Brisneyland

      Sustainable Environments and Planning Student

      In reply to Brandon Young

      Hi Brandon; Maybe to the right; free money certainly isn't helping.

      Trying to keep to the subject of Barry Jones' comments regarding Murdoch here, yet ABC News24 Breakfast does nothing but repeatedly offer the same half hour of news report. Much of that report comes from looking at book reviews, movie reviews, repeating Murdoch news and the never ending, 'fine and sunny with a chance of showers' weather reports, approximately every fifteen minutes.

      One might rightly wonder if ABC has any…

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    13. Jack Arnold

      Director

      In reply to Gary Dean Brisneyland

      Sadly Gary, I have to agree about the Liberal bias in the ABC both RN and Channel 24. The retirement of Kerry O'Brien lowered the quality of 7:30 Report, possibly due to the appointment of a former Taxing RAbbott press officer as a major presenter.

      Even more sadly, the Australian electorate appears to be prepared to accept no policies, no costings and no criticism from the formerly impartial ABC.

      Strongly reminds me of the 1933 German elections where the same tactics were used to democratically elect the fascists.

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    14. Jack Arnold

      Director

      In reply to David Thompson

      David, I take your three bollocks. My late mother worked at the Daily Mirror and The Australian as an Executive Secretary during the 60s and early 70s, and was present for the following incident.

      During 1972 Rupert swept into the Editorial Desk and announced, "I don't care what you write about MacMahon (then Liberal PM) make him look bad".

      Fortunately this was not difficult. MacMahon ,lost the 1972 election to the Whitlam Labor government in a landslide ... and Australia was dragged screaming into the 20th century.

      Rupert has used this strategy repeatedly ever since, most recently in this election and previously in the UK to elect Cameron ... and get BBC Commercial News closed down.

      (I prefer Angus bullocks, thank you David).

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    15. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Jack Arnold

      Jack, and yet not one word you have written changes the fact that your demurrer was bollocks, and remains so. What import does what your mum heard in the office have to do with your bollocks?

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    16. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Brandon Young

      "They can vote ALP if they like, because the ALP has to keep moving to the right to chase an election winning share of the vote. Murdoch's great skill is to pound out a crafted narrative that can reileve most minds of the effort required to see truth for themselves."
      Whattha? One man who devotes about 10% of time to Australia has felled the great Australian Labor Party, eh? Have you ever thought that the issue is more the abominable narrative-crafting skills of those middle-class dregs who have taken the ALP hostage? Have you ever thought that the active agents in this process are the Australians who vote Labor?

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    17. Martin Male

      Somatic Psychotherapist

      In reply to Brandon Young

      So true !! A simple response to this truth Don't buy his Crap;) I firmly believe that the diminishing parer sales are due to the appalling "standard" of journalism and "news" proffered by these papers> My self I haven't bought a Newscorp "newspaper" in maybe 20 yrs. Not worth the parer is is written LOL

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    18. Martin Male

      Somatic Psychotherapist

      In reply to Gary Dean Brisneyland

      Hi Gary I consider myself a greenie/ ecologist/someone who cares about the environment. I have seen many items on both ABC and ABC 24. They actually have an environment section on maybe Sundays early pm?
      They do have environment reporters. They do have an environment section on their news-site link here http://www.abc.net.au/environment/. I have also watched many items on Catalyst. I have found these both informative and at time news breaking.

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    19. Gary Dean Brisneyland

      Sustainable Environments and Planning Student

      In reply to Martin Male

      Hi Martin; Good to hear something of the environment at this conversation. I am aware of Catalyst. My comment was on how Barry Jones is castigating (correctly) Murdoch, but not ABC. I mentioned that ABC News24 including Breakfast follows the Murdoch news and they carry on with everything but important environmental news on any regular or irregular basis.

      Yes ABC does have an environment section but ABC rarely if ever brings such information into their mainstream News24 reportage.

      They don't. They could, it's important to highlight the current Queensland drought etc.

      Viewers do not find out about the Gladstone Port affairs by watching ABC News24 Breakfast. That program highlights newspaper headlines on a daily basis. It doesn't delve into any facts of such report, it simply highlights. That's 24 hours a day of money that offers nothing other than what commercial stations offer. Where's the content? An audit is due and overdue.

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    20. Gary Dean Brisneyland

      Sustainable Environments and Planning Student

      In reply to Martin Male

      I've returned from a city hike and while there I chatted with a sales person who explained that his friends were disenchanted generally and heading toward the Green vote.

      His concern partially was that no-one was hearing about the benefits of Labor because the environment gets such little airplay.

      If the ABC News24 won't do it, who will? Remember, little has been said of the Environment and yet ABC's VoteCompass says it's important.

      If ABC can offer five minutes every half hour to Sports, Five minutes every hour to weather reports, time to review newspaper headlines, book reviews, blah blah blah, why can't it offer five minutes every half hour to the Environment, fish stocks, droughts, murray-darling, native animals etc,etc? It doesn't and yet it's of high importance to Australians.

      Australia is about to vote, so why aren't the acknowledged important issues being aired on ABC News24 Breakfast? Why not?

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    21. Jack Arnold

      Director

      In reply to David Thompson

      Well David you can import the bullocks if you like, but our quarantine laws may be a little difficult. Surely a one eyed South African can see some black bullocks in Australia if you get out of the city.

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    22. Jack Arnold

      Director

      In reply to Gary Dean Brisneyland

      Simple Gary, it does not suit the fire sale mentality of the LNP and their big business backers.

      The ABC has been polarised to pro-Liberals to keep the citizens ignorant of the continuing greatest transfer of public assets to private hands that has occurred in Australian history.

      Remember Senator Bumbling Joyce used his casting vote to sell Telstra and Costello sold 167 tonnes of gold at a measly $220/ounce WITHOUT PUBLIC TENDER that collapsed the exchange rate and initiated the present market upswing.

      Then there was the sale of airports in Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, Canberra and Hobart for total $5.6 BILLION.

      Howard sold off the ABC & SBS transmission towers for $650 million, the National Rail Corporation & Freight corp assets for $1.05 BILLION, and 51% of the Commonwealth Bank for $10.40/share (now $72.+/share).

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  18. George Madarasz

    Share Trader

    Hand in hand with the debasement of the political system is the debasement of the intellectual culture. When people feel free to play fast and loose with the truth in contexts where intellectual credibility and honesty are taken for granted, merely to amplify their rhetorical point, then the system starts to decay. I think this is the NEW NORMAL in Australian intellectual life. I wonder if the author would agree?

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  19. John Geoffrey Mosley

    logged in via Facebook

    Interesting how a conversation about 'vision' is limited to options within the existing economic growth oriented system (with the occasional reference backwards to the Athenians and the Soviet Union, etc) but no consideration of the broad options for the future e.g. the steady state economy.

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  20. John Rutherford

    Worker

    If you can judge a country by its politicians then we are a very sad lot...

    If you only get back that which is equal to what we put out then it is time for a rethink................

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    1. Chris Saunders

      retired

      In reply to John Rutherford

      Judging us by our politicians e.g. the fact that the LNP would not release its policies or costings, would not allow its new comer potential MPs to speak at community gatherings in the election lead up would point to the fact that we are smarter (and better) than them and we would find them out. Getting back equal to putting out: never experienced that myself in the long term always found one had to put a hell of a lot out to get anything back except for those few lucky times that we all can cherish.

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  21. Gary Dean Brisneyland

    Sustainable Environments and Planning Student

    http://southgateaviation.wordpress.com/download-page/

    Very interesting information regards Aviation emissions. Good to see that we have such amongst us who'll put effort into facts and deliver the completed product for free for all. Three pdf's (ebook style) 1. Australia, 2. Australia Domestic and 3. International.

    Enjoy the informative read.

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  22. George Harley
    George Harley is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Retired Dogsbody

    Came late to this conversation and have not read all the comments (235). But if Barry Jones is what we consider an intellectual and a respected (ex) politician, that might explain many things.

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