Common Sense Dies Here #56

Welcome to Common Sense Dies Here #56, a fresh reminder that Tony Abbott is a cunt.

Despite Nigel Scullion repeatedly brushing off criticism of the work for the dole program he administers in remote communities, the government finally admitted that “a new model for remote Australia” is needed. The Community Development Programme requires participants, most of which are Indigenous, to undertake up to 3 times more pointless hoop jumping then unemployed people elsewhere. And with little consideration for the cultural and logistic issues many of them face, around 20,000 of the 35,000 people enrolled have been fined for non-compliance. Over 200,000 fines have been handed down since the program started in 2015

NT state MP, Chansey Paech, told a Senate inquiry the CDP is a “national shame”. And said that, on multiple occasions, he’s had to use his annual electorate allowance to help sanctioned constituents buy food. Yet Nige has spent months claiming the program is successfully breaking the cycle of poverty in remote communities. Now that he seems unable to continue ignoring reality any longer, he’ll probably just claim there’s no way he could have known. And act like it’s deeply unfair for people to expect him to do his job properly.

Sticking with incompetence, and unfair treatment of people on the dole, the Department of Social Services was forced to admit a massive oversight to another Senate inquiry. They didn’t bother checking the size of waiting lists for drug treatment in the 3 trial sites where welfare recipients will be tested. I suppose they’ve already had to awkwardly ignore quite a bit of inconvenient evidence. So, it’s understandable they’d avoid seeking out any more.

Christian Porter depicted the medical professionals highlighting that evidence as opponents of progress: “Of course, trying new approaches is not always met positively by the establishment used to the established approach”. This isn’t really a new approach though. Similar programs elsewhere have, at best, been ineffectual wastes of money. And more broadly, anyone who’s been paying attention knows that punitive approaches to drug use just make things worse.

With that, perhaps, in mind, Christian tried to link the policy with court mandated drug treatment programs. The problem is, of course, drug treatment is an obviously less punitive option when the alternative is prison. But when it comes to a choice between mandatory drug treatment, or losing the dole, it’s a bit more complicated. There are always other ways to make money. Things like dealing drugs, or burglary, for instance.

Lest I be accused of ignoring inconvenient evidence myself, now I’m gonna talk about the report that supposedly proves the cashless welfare card is a triumph. Even ignoring its acknowledgement of a number of issues with the way the data was collected, a lot of the evaluation’s stats are pretty fucking vague. Telling us that 41% of people “reported drinking alcohol less frequently than they did before participating “ doesn’t really mean much without knowing how often they were partaking in the first place. Same with those that reported a reduction in the frequency of their gambling(48%), or their use of illegal drugs(also 48%).

There are some slightly more refined stats. For example, 37% of participants reported a reduction in how often they had “six or more drinks on one occasion”. But there’s still no indication of how regularly they did so in the first place. Or how many drinks they had on average. For all we know, the majority of that 37% are just people that, due to their restricted access to cash, were no longer able able to drink a relaxing 6 pack every Friday night. Most of the report’s other positive findings are similarly vague. Or are outweighed by the percentage of participants that reported either a negative effect, or none at all. But, for the sake of brevity, I’m gonna move on to another topic.

With his attacks on the unemployed not really working, and his claims that he’s on course to win the next election widely mocked, Mal Trumble has been advised to embrace underdog status. These days, not many people are buying the idea he’s a principled, yet agile, man of the people. So, some of his ministers have suggested that he should give up trying to trick people into believing he’s virtuous. Instead, they think he should focus all his energy on convincing voters that Short William is worse.

If Scotty Morrison’s contribution is anything to go off, that means a whole lot more reds under beds nonsense. He accused “Bill Shorten’s new red Labor” of “economic time travel”. Time travel, of course, implies the ability to move back and forward. Scotty and co, on the other hand, are stuck in the period when most people still believed neoliberalism was great. So, it’s no wonder they feel so threatened.

The government could have a lot less time to turn their fortunes around than they think. According to constitutional expert, George Williams, “It is difficult to see, if the current law is applied, that any of the seven parliamentarians who will face the High Court are likely to survive that challenge”. That would, of course, spell the end of the Coalition’s lower house majority. Barnaby Joyce may well win the resulting by-election. But if he doesn’t, they’ll be left relying on the support of crossbenchers. Or there will be a very early election.

George also suggested the High Court will reject the attempt to fund the same-sex marriage survey without parliamentary approval. But, as an ad released by the Coalition for Marriage illustrates, reactionaries intend to continue spewing nonsense regardless.

Now, as many people have already pointed out, the issues raised in the ad are separate from the question at hand. But, even in their own right, the viewpoints expressed are a load of shite. If your son wants to wear a dress, and you have a problem with that, you’re a shit parent. If you object to your kids being taught to show empathy towards those that are different, then, you guessed it! You’re a fucking shit parent. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to tell those people how to raise their children. I’m just saying they never should have had any. And that instead of passing judgement on other peoples’ parenting, they should have a long, hard look at their own.

Shit person, Tony Abbott, again reiterated his strong opposition to taking a long, hard look at himself. Responding to concern over the $120,000 he claimed in travel expenses last year, he said “It was just another off-the-record insider hatchet job”. And asked “is it any wonder that the government has trouble getting its message across when its members play these sorts of nasty games?”. Hatchet job implies that it’s untrue. It’s a matter of fact that T’s travel expenses were considerably larger last year than most MPs, and some ministers.

What makes it particularly galling is that a lot of that money seems to have gone towards the self serving speeches he seems to plop out every other week. Many, like myself, consider such speeches unwelcome because they’re an interminable stream of pompous, mean-spirited drivel. For others, it’s because they’re a blatantly obvious attempt to derail, and hijack, the government’s agenda.

This week, a judge in Sydney ruled that it’s not offensive to call Tone a cunt. He pointed to Shakespearean allusions to the word, its use on television, and the general lack of weight it carries in the Australian vernacular. But I’d like to think that, while he may not have mentioned it in his ruling, he also took into account the fact that T actually is a massive cunt. Or, if you prefer, prick and arsehole are equally acceptable. Which, appropriately enough, is a sentence I’m sure would disgust him on 2 different levels.

Anyway, Tone and his mates continue to do their best to derail any meaningful action on climate change. And it seems increasingly likely that, if the government decides to go ahead with a clean energy target, it’ll be far weaker than the one proposed in the Finkel review. “I don’t foresee there being any barrier to a new coal-fired power station being built” Mal Trumble said. Modelling found that, even without it being diluted, the CET Alan Finkel suggested wouldn’t be strong enough to meet Australia’s obligations under the Paris Agreement. That’s the same Paris Agreement that won’t reduce emissions enough to avoid dangerous climate change.What a fucking farce, eh? It’s not all doom and gloom though. Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un seem to be working towards a novel solution to global warming: nuclear winter.

Don responded to Kim’s recent missile and nuclear tests with more inflammatory threats. Some of these threats were then contradicted by Maddog Mattis. This either indicates that they were empty ones, and that Don has incompetently blown all his leverage early in the piece. Or that his massive ego will eventually lead to him taking disastrous measures to assert his dominance. Whichever it is, his attempts to coerce intelligence analysts into providing justification for withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal definitely won’t help matters. It sends a signal that, even if North Korea agrees to curb its nuclear program, the US will try to renege on their side of the bargain. We should probably all start getting used to the idea of a life filled with canned food and tin openers. Or, as they are currently known, human brains and hatchets.