Friday, May 20, 2016

Election threads - Minister Dutton - and now Monday Forum

Starting tonight with some singing from my old school. Enjoy.

And for those of you with 45 minutes to spare, this is the fascinating story of the relic of Jan Hus, a Czech priest, philosopher and early Christian reformer.

In my last post, I referred to Australian Immigration Minister Petter Dutton's remarkably silly comment that refugees weren't numerate or literate and would take Australian jobs. Apart from derailing Mr Turnbull's main thrust for the week, I think (but am not sure) that that was on economic management, jobs and growth, it's led to a considerable backlash from from former refugees made good. Deng Thiak Adut is an example.

If you look at what Mr Dutton said, the above link includes a clip of those remarks, it was one of those a+b+c+d+e comments intended for political effect where a, b, c etc were not really linked. I have commented before on Mr Dutton's lack of sensitivity and apparent inhumanity. He has become a sort of bother boy of Australian politics. Mr Turnbull's defence of Mr Dutton as an "outstanding" immigration minister says more about Mr Turnbull than  Minister Dutton.

It is very difficult to know how issues such as this will  play out within an increasingly complex and varied Australian society. I was reminded of this while in Melbourne earlier this week.

Sitting on the metro travelling to Box Hill and then at dinner on Monday night at a bar near Melbourne Central, I felt that I was in a different country. Reflecting on that, it was partly that Melbourne has changed so much since I last visited, so there was a sort of shock of the new. Then, too, so much of my recent time has been spent in Sydney that that city has unconsciously and somewhat worryingly become a "norm".

Melbourne and Sydney have always been different, but their increasing diversity is also different, increasing the divergence between them. Then, when you drill down in both cities, the increasing diversity is geographic in nature, concentrated. Each working day, I walk past Parramatta's Arthur Phillip High School. This is visibly melting pot Sydney; 91% of students have a non-English language background.

If you move outside Sydney and Melbourne, their varying patterns of diversity increasingly distinguish them from other parts of the country.The whole country is changing, but in different ways and different rates.

This is not an essay on social change in Australia, although the topic continues to fascinate me. Rather, it can be very hard to gauge  the impact of something like Mr Dutton's remarks because the impact will be so variable. People from all backgrounds and in all places share common concerns. Their political responses will vary with the weighting placed on their concerns given their individual circumstances. However, despite commentary to the contrary, politics is not just transactional but is also about history, values and beliefs.

Despite breakdowns in party loyalties, it remains true that the majority of Australians are loyal to particular political parties. This means that elections are determined by shifts among the less committed at state level (the Senate) and at individual seat level. Generally, votes do not shift on single issues but on an amalgam of issues. Sometimes, however, particular issues can shift votes in a significant way.

We can see this now in New England where Tony Windsor is seeking to capitalise on very specific environmental concerns to gain the seat from the National's Barnaby Joyce. Mr Windsor may not win, but he has certainly been able to mount a major campaign.

We also saw it in Canada where the Harper led Conservative Party's dog whistle attempt to use the migration and refugee issue to attract support backfired spectacularly in those seats, especially in Toronto, with high migrant populations. This is why Mr Dutton's remarks were so unfortunate for the Coalition.

The effect won't be the same as in Canada, for in hosing down the dispute and trying to get the campaign back on message, senior coalition figures have probably muted the impact. However, there are likely to be particular local impacts.

The Vietnamese community, for example, may not be large in absolute terms, but is concentrated in particular seats. I would expect votes to swing there.

Earlier, I called Minister Dutton a sort of bother boy of Australian politics. That may be unfair. What can be said with a degree of certainty is that his background (self-made rising through the police force before going into business) and geographic location (Brisbane) as well as his ideological views (right wing) make him susceptible to a certain type of political response That's fine, but when he speaks nationally he alienates voters that the Coalition really needs to win.

He will be dog collared. Expect him to be allowed out only in the appropriate areas of nearby parks where certain deposits are allowed.


I am leaving this post up now as the Monday Forum post, but would add one thing. In the last of my possible SMH links, this is the apparent result of the new NSW cycling laws.

Postscript 2    

And on Tony Windsor, here is his latest campaign ad. I haven't got a complete list, but there are now more candidates in New England than you could poke a stick at:



Anonymous said...

A little history (ignoring such old hat as 'yellow peril':

Ruddock: inherited Labor’s offshore detention policy; TPV’s; publicly disowned by his daughter; one of the few ministers requiring personal protection apart from the PM. Press is beside itself!

Vanstone: Cornelia Rau, Vivian Solon. Press is beside itself!

Andrews: Haneef affair; African immigrants. Press is beside itself!

Evans; Bowen; O’Connor; Burke: too busy trying to keep Labor functioning – GFC and all that; Escalating arrivals. Press is beside itself – except this time about the ‘greatest moral challenge’ and RRT, and Julia! Meanwhile, boats…

Morrison: introduced ‘Operation Sovereign Borders’ – i.e. no comment on ‘on-water’ operations, or ‘off-water’ either.

Dutton: lovechild of Ruddock and Vanstone – if ever that term had meaning – and brother to Morrison. Inheritor of the poisoned chalice; probably likes his kids and has a dog.

There’s a pattern there - as there is in comments decrying the methods, but accepting the outcome. And spare me the "oh, the inhumanity" unless your own solution has been demonstrated to be effective. Politics might be difficult, but governing is hard.


Jim Belshaw said...

I am going to call you on this one kvd.

The transcript of just what Mr Dutton says is not on his official web site - I can only go on the TV footage.

Based on that, Mr Dutton's remarks had nothing to do with stop the boats. In that sense, your comments have nothing to do with my points in this post.

Turning to the comments themselves.

You mix together multiple things.

Rau and Solon are examples of a misapplied general policy. Haneef and indeed Hicks are examples of of misuse following overblown terrorism fears. In all these cases, it took press and other pressure to force the Government to redress wrong or at least get recognition that wrong had been done. In the case of Haneef and Hicks, Hicks is my inclusion, Australian Governments are still reluctant to recognise in justice even though it has been recognised elsewhere.

I followed and indeed, as you will remember, wrote on these cases as they evolved. In the end, I concluded that in the desire to protect us from terror, the Howard Government was creating injustices that I could not accept and which threatened me and my rights as an Australian.

Stop the boats is a different issue, although if you look at Mr Dutton's remarks in his interview with Ray Hadley,, you will see that he is still mixing the issues. I don't trust this man nor did I trust the Abbott Government to actually act in our interests as individual citizens. That's a judgement, one that reflects my observations of the misuse of state power.

On stop the boats, I was prepared to accept the first idea of off-shore detention because it meant that we would take more refugees but also only if it did not lead to unacceptable inhumanity. This is a grey area, I accept.

In our recent discussions on stop the boats I have tried to adopt the position that this was Government policy, so what can we do to make its application more humane? I am at the point now that I am very close to totally rejecting it on the grounds of inhumanity and cost to the country, cost in reputational, moral and economic terms.

You have said that I cannot come up with an alternative that would achieve the same objectives. Let's accept that. If that's true, then I am prepared to support a policy that means both boat people and deaths at sea, accepting that I do not support an open door. We have just paid and continued to pay too much for the achievement of a single black and white objective.

Anonymous said...

'Call me' all you will, Jim - but please stick to your own posited position:

He will be dog collared. Expect him to be allowed out only in the appropriate areas of nearby parks where certain deposits are allowed.

I've read a lot (actually, a great lot) here, and all I can say is that this is demented. But back to your comment:-

"Mr Dutton's remarks had nothing to do with stop the boats". Of course they did! The government was in trouble on other fronts so, yet again, drags out the best card it has. Dog-eared, slightly blurred, but its best card.

"You mix together multiple things" - welcome to the real world. Also that is a standard non-response. I must employ it sometime :)

"Rau and Solon are examples of a misapplied general policy" - geez I bet that'll play well. Liberal-rusted-on as I am, I think those cases are an embarrassment, and I'm further embarrassed that you would paint them so.

"Haneef .... examples of misuse following overblown terrorism fears" - Hence my query: what is your suggested alternative? It is hard. It is called government.

"Stop the boats is a different issue" - not it's not, and if you think it is, then you are not very well attuned to the various dog whistles now being employed by an increasingly worried Turnbull government.

"I am at the point now that I am very close to totally rejecting it on the grounds of inhumanity and cost to the country, cost in reputational, moral and economic terms."

Many dinner party invites to follow! Please report what, if any, actual resolutions as to alternative policy/actions ensue :)

"You have said that I cannot come up with an alternative that would achieve the same objectives."

No. What I said was "unless your own solution has been demonstrated to be effective"

- but I guess, by the way you've restated that, that you have no alternative? And please understand that neither do I.

Now back to the top:

He will be dog collared. Expect him to be allowed out only in the appropriate areas of nearby parks where certain deposits are allowed.

I think that is basically disgusting.


Anonymous said...

There was an article the other day in the SMH (which I won't link, because you apparently can't access) basically saying "it's just not good enough to say 'well wot's your solution'.

But there comes a time to look in the mirror, and to say "yes, actually, it is".


Anonymous said...


You've got KVD quite worked up!

My own preferred solution, which has of course not been tried, would be for Australia to concentrate on the pressing tide of refugees at its own doorstep and stop making a conspicuous display of generosity to refugees in far off places who would otherwise be unlikely to be knocking at our door, which is then offered as justification for our local stonyheartedness. Our present policy is an immigration policy, not a refugee policy. Refugees are not the people you choose.

If some of the pressure could be taken off the Indonesian situation then perhaps fewer people would get on boats though I do not expect it could be eliminated altogether. Yes, there would still be queue jumpers but then at least there would be a queue.

Just in passing: "bother boy" - I prefer "bovver boy."

As for Deng Thiak Adut, biggest surprise and indeed shock is that he should ever have supported the Liberal Party in the first place. For god's sake, he is a criminal defence lawyer, almost certainly dependent upon a sensible legal aid budget for his livelihood and, one would have thought, well-exposed to the travails of the under-class. Of course, to know them is not necessarily to love them, but it just shows the power of "aspirationalism" that he should so identify with his own success story.

Then again, if it weren't for our bogus refugee policy, I doubt Adut would be here. No wonder he has supported the Liberal Party in the past: it's the anti-multicultural insult he is responding to rather than any sympathy for the refugees in the non-existent queue that he has jumped.

Anonymous said...

You got me marcellous! Exorcised, was I!

To explain, my thoughts on our rancid treatment of refugees (more particularly, that segment who arrive by "non-preferred" means) is pretty well contained in Lorenzo of Skepticlawyer's post a while ago:

I'd recommend a read, or re-read, of that. It seems to me that our government is faced with choosing a mid-path between several options - and if they were apples, then they each have moral 'worms'.

Personally, at this point, I prefer Labor's position over that of the Libs: maintain absolute border control, but for those who are presently here, resolve their relocation elsewhere asap.

But the thing which concerned me in Jim's post was the much lesser (?) issue of the coarsening of our political discussions. I don't know when-abouts it started, but now it seems ok to resort to quite derogatory terms, phrases, about people who, let's face it, are just doing their jobs - to the best of their (maybe limited) ability.

So we get a Senator casually referring to police as "pigs", and Jim alluding to a minister of the government in terms of dog shit, and way back to "Bob Brown's bitch", and to some on the lunatic left nudge-nudgeing about Abbott's relationship with the priesthood.

And, there seems to be a lot of misinformation about just what Dutton said and about what he was referring to? He was responding to a Greens policy of increasing refugee intake to 50k - which is absolutely nothing to do with Australia's on-going migration program afaics. That BBC link of Jim's rabbits on about migrants; i.e. off-topic - but how "clever" was that idiot about babies :)!

Anyway, if you think I make too much of it, then I accept that comment. Even so, I think it a sad thing.

marcellous, on your own comments, I think I agree with your "concentrate on Indonesia" thought, and also "bovver boy".


Winton Bates said...

Unfortunately, Minister Dutton seems to have been accurate in some of the points he made:

Again, unfortunately, pointing out the obvious high costs of settling refugees is more likely to win votes than to lose them, except perhaps in electorates in which few refugees are settled.

I think Dunnon's point about refugees taking jobs from Australians is wrong (and not just because many refugees are unemployed) but such errors are unlikely to be understood or penalised by large numbers of Australian voters.

Winton Bates said...

Sorry, the robot didn't understand I wanted to type: Dutton.

Anonymous said...

Yes Winton - all he stated was the obvious: there is a cost.

It interesting to note that several commentaries have recorded "overwhelming support" for his words - but, of course, that doesn't count. Except for the equally interesting point that there is similar "overwhelming support" for that other equally pressing issue, SSM. Why does that count?

So, what to do with those pesky peons? The default response of both 'sides' seems to be derision.


Winton Bates said...

kvd: The peons have been liberated and have become bourgeois (aspirational) in their attitudes. They are subject to mercantilist and other economic fallacies, but they are not beyond reason. I am more concerned about the clerisy.

Jim Belshaw said...

I did consciously try to provoke kvd!

While kvd roused on me for my obsession with disentangling issues, in this case we have to. Let's run through a few of them.

Does acceptance of refugees cost the budget? Certainly. I can't remember the source, but I saw an estimate of $750 million for the cost of the Syrian intake. It is that cost that has led some to argue, the same argument applies to aid of course, that this money would be better spent on meeting domestic needs.

Mr Dutton said "for many people will be illiterate in their own language, let alone English." Winton pointed to the Conversation Factcheck piece on this - While the great majority of refugees appear to be literate, a significant proportion are not. This should not be suprising. While refugees coming from Syria with its extensive school system are likely to be literate, those coming from South Sudan for example may well not be. Average literacy rates still vary greatly between countries.

Mr Dutton went on: "and this (the illiteracy problem) is a difficulty because the Greens are very close to the CFMEU and the Labor Party is and their affiliation with the Union Movement are obviously well known." This is what I meant with Mr Dutton saying a and b as though they were connected when in fact they are not. At least, I struggle to see the linkage.

Mr Dutton went on: ""Now these people would be taking Australian jobs, there is no question about that, about that and for many of them that would be unemployed they would languish in unemployment queues and Medicare and the rest of it and there would be a huge cost. There is no way of sugar coating that. That would be the scenario."

Again notice the non-connection within this quote and in what followed previously. I am going to have to finish this comment here, but will return later

Anonymous said...

Jim: you (deliberately?) fail to mention that Dutton's comment was in specific reply to the Greens' claimed objective to raise the refugee intake to 50,000.

This is easy for the Greens, because they have absolutely no government, or even electoral, responsibility for outcomes. Just like all of the minor shouty parties, they are now desparately trying to get their noses back into the federal trough by pandering to their particular base.

This is one of the few issues about which I think our NZ cousins have got it wrong, while scoring a few effortless virtue points. So, what say we take them up on their standing offer? I wonder how they'd then go with the Greens 50k per annum refugees? We could just simply be a NZ staging point - our problem solved!

But I agree Dutton went well beyond his brief in contemplating the possible loss of jobs. After all, 6% unemployed is now 'full employment' - ain't that so?


the peons, incited / should never be derided!


ps how'd you go at the dinner party? Any practical solutions arise? Thought not :)

Winton Bates said...

kvd: I like the rhyme - stirring stuff!

Intelligentsia benighted / will ever be repeated.

Anonymous said...

Heh! Way back up the comments there was this exchange:

"Mr Dutton's remarks had nothing to do with stop the boats". Of course they did! The government was in trouble on other fronts so, yet again, drags out the best card it has. Dog-eared, slightly blurred, but its best card.

But it seems I got the animal wrong; it is in fact called a "dead cat" - from the CrosbyTextor playbook, as noted by Boris Johnson:

Your best bet in these circumstances is to perform a manoeuvre that a great campaigner describes as ‘throwing a dead cat on the table, mate’,” wrote Johnson.

“That is because there is one thing that is absolutely certain about throwing a dead cat on the dining room table – and I don’t mean that people will be outraged, alarmed, disgusted. That is true, but irrelevant … everyone will shout ‘Jeez, mate, there’s a dead cat on the table!’; in other words they will be talking about the dead cat, the thing you want them to talk about, and they will not be talking about the issue that has been causing you so much grief.”

So, Jim, what were we all talking about before Dutton's dead cat hit the table?


Jim Belshaw said...

Following your remark about the question, kvd, I spent several hours trying to actually find it. I picked up some of the gist in the Australian stories, the message here is summarised by the headline to the Jennifer Oriel story - "Federal election 2016: Left vilified Dutton but he spoke truth", the web links to Sky news reports no longer work, finally I got to hear a little of it on a site only to have it vanish again. The tone of the question was anti-refugee with its references to Afghanistan and the Green refugee policy designed (I guess) to either create a platform or create a desired response.

I hadn't heard of that 50,000 Green refugee undertaking. I suppose that I have now.

None of this causes me to change my my views on Mr Dutton's remarks. Leaving aside my distaste and thinking as an analyst, there aren't a lot of possibly switched votes in the refugee issue since most people have made up their mind. A possible exception are groups such as the Vietnamese community who may shift votes on the way Mr Dutton phrased his remarks.

The liberals aren't going to attract any new votes from Labor, although they may consolidate their base a little and fend of challenges from the new right wing anti-immigration groups. That won't have much effect at the end of the day. The Greens hope that their stance will gather them votes from Labor in those few inner city Labor seats where refugees are a hot button issue. That's a real possibility, for Labor is a bit caught. But in the end, Labor won't move for fear of actually losing votes, and it probably doesn't matter in final electoral terms.

The one interesting possibly different seat is New England where Tony Windsor initially nominated refugee policy as a key issue. Noticeabley, it does not now feature in any way on the Windsor web site.

The really damaging thing that Mr Dutton did was derail the PM's message about growth and jobs. At a time when Mr Shorten is growing in credibility in the polls, when there have been a number of Coalition stumbles, to hae senior ministers having to come out in Mr Dutton's defence when they actually don't want to fight on that ground - I find it hard to believe that Foreign Minister Julie Bishop wants to make the cost of refugees a key issue, is difficult for them.

Mr Dutton's remarks are already vanishing into the election campaign haze, with apparent differences in the Coalition on medicare now coming to the fore. The problem with a dead cat, to use kvd's phrase, is that the stench remains.

Anonymous said...

Jim, "the stench remains" might be the whole point?

I wish there was some sort of rolling history available (twitter? fb? abc?) which recorded the keywords 'hot' on a weekly basis. If anyone knows of same, I would appreciate a link.

But that said, my fuzzy memory of a week back was that we were all involved in 1) changes to super, and 2) negative gearing - neither of which were going the government's way. Am happy to be corrected.


Jim Belshaw said...

Good evening, kvd. On stench, the value (if I can use that term) depends upon what you wanted to achieve!

Yes, both super and negative gearing were hot, neither has really gone away. Do you think that Mr Dutton was trying to get the campaign back onto what he perceived as a Government strong point?

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Winton Bates said...

Further food for thought:

2 tanners said...

The problem appears to be one of size confused with ideology confused with (on BOTH sides) solutions before analysis. The size of the flows in a world of 7 billion is going to put pressure on any country. The ideologies in question are "My people are bettter than your people" vs "We must do everything we can for everyone". Neither are defensible in terms of day to day actions by those who espouse them. But then come the solutions (in our case 'Stop the Boats' vs 'Open borders') before any kind of analysis is undertaken.

How many can we take? What are the economic effects - are they positive or negative? Will they 'take Australian jobs' or create a base of workers to support our aging population? Are we spending ourselves in penury stopping OR accepting people? What are other policy options? Because the ideologies have selected their policy answers without much evidence to support them, the policies themselves have become 'priors', axioms not to be debated.

My personal, non-evidence based starting point is that we need a LOT of workers to support me in my old age and that allowing refugees may assist. It's not the only thing that will - Gina and Google need to start paying Australia more tax. My only moral point is that if we give our word on something, we must keep it, or formally retract it. We withdrew from other international agreements, but we can't Stop the Boats AND stay with the UN Convention on the rights of refugees.

Winton Bates said...

Good points 2 tanners.
As someone philosophically in favour of free international movement of people (as well as goods and capital) and giving better opportunities to displaced people who are in need help, it is tempting for me to view resistance to a larger refugee intake in any country as xenophobia. But there are legitimate grounds for concern that too large an intake would create social problems in this country of the kind that has been experienced in other parts of the world.

Perhaps we have reached the point where alternatives will need to be found to resettlement of refugees outside of the regions they come from.

Anonymous said...

Both tanners and Winton seem to take for granted (or assume as a given) that mass refugee movements will be a continuing fact of life? Any thoughts from either as to why this should be considered acceptable - never mind supportable, or laudable?

tanners wants lots of helpers in his old age; I guess the alternative of 'seeing to himself' hasn't occurred to him? Winton is in favour of lots of things 'philosophically'. The antonym is practicality :)


Winton Bates said...

kvd: in my view mass refugee movements are not acceptable, supportable or laudable. Hopefully, they will diminish over time with the further spread of bourgeois values throughout the world.

Meanwhile, I wonder whether international efforts could be directed toward establishing refugee enclaves as centres of industry and trade in the countries that the refugees come from. The practicability of such ideas is questionable, but it looks as though the numbers are too large and resistance is too great for the problem to be resolved through resettlement of people in other parts of the world.

2 tanners said...


I do see continuing mass refugee movements as a given. If I'm wrong, so much the better, but conflict is not going down, populations are going up, conflict is happening in high population areas and the rest of the world is also increasing in population. Large migrations and border standoffs will increase. I see this as a major problem, not as a good thing. It is a humanitarian nightmare.

If both we and some refugees can benefit, then that improves things. Note that I carefully said that I didn't know that this would be the case - it just seems that no-one has tried to find out. We have two sides, one extreme saying take them all (unsustainable) and the other saying take none (more expensive than it seems to be worth). I don't support either extreme, and I don't have a final position.

We have been being warned by Treasury for a long time now that the ageing of Australia will present huge problems. As many public service pensioners (nearly 50,000 according to the Canberra Times) have just found out, seeing to yourself gets you punished. I've pretty much seen to myself, but as far as I can tell that makes me a juicy target for a future government which fails instead to see to Australia.

Anonymous said...

Winton, thank you for a thoughtful reply. If you (as I do) really believe that mass migrations such as we are seeing are not acceptable, or supportable, Then I would ask politely if you have turned your mind to just how these movements might be halted?

As a simpleton in these matters, I turn my thoughts towards what is 'pushing' these movements; and following that, how might the 'push' be removed? Now we can dance around it as much as you wish. Or not.

tanners, forgive cheap shot; was taken to 'get at' what you actually think about what we are facing. I tend to agree with you (with the various factors causing this mass relocation of people, and climate to come) that we won't see an early (I mean in terms of decades, not months) end to such mass movements.

So the question becomes, in my mind, just how rigidly we try to maintain our present position - such as it is. And I'm just positing that I mostly support 'more' rather than 'less' rigid.

But I don't understand your "As many public service pensioners (nearly 50,000 according to the Canberra Times) have just found out, seeing to yourself gets you punished." What are you referring to?


Winton Bates said...

kvd: People seek to escape from despotism, civil war and lack of economic opportunity. Some of those push factors led some of my ancestors to leave Ireland around 160 years ago. When I visited the areas they came from a few years ago I got the impression that the people who remained now be living in peace and prosperity. It is about having ideologies and institutions that enable people to live in peace and give them the opportunities to better themselves.

Is that the kind of answer you were looking for?

2 tanners said...


Simple matters first. Winton is right in his list of motivators, but the point is that the world population is predicted to rise to 10 billion by 2050 (then more or less stabilise). The absolute number of people driven to seek refuge will rise disproportionately (because they will come from the areas with greatest growth) and if the problem only lasts decades we will be lucky. I see it more as a permanent feature of the geopolitical landscape from this point on. (I'll come back to this).

The 50,000 I referred to were retired public servants (and spouses, so the number is higher) who paid super all their working lives. Most live a bit over the poverty line and so could claim Centrelink benefits as well. Apparently, at least 200 (sic) of these actually had substantial incomes (between $80,000 and $120,000) and were also claiming benefits. The Govenment has clawed back $227 million by cutting benefits for all, regardless of income. (Plus 1200 Uniting Church ministers due to a legislative screw-up). Now they are below the poverty line and unable to claim benefits.

Back to permanent refugee situation. Stop the Boats assumes a temporary situation of small size which can be prevented by diversion/discouragement of refugees. I view that as building a sandbank to stop a flood. If the flood doesn't subside first, it does more harm than good. As Jim might say, there needs to be a strategic approach to what I think you and I agree is a long-term problem. As a rich country which recognises many human rights, we are always going to be more of a target than, say, Bolivia.

You have your starting point, I have mine. Stop the Boats and Let them all Come are consistent with neither, just convenient slogans that take no account of reality. But I don't know what the answer is. I do see a *potential* merging of interests in that we need a workforce in the future. I remain concerned that we are providing neither enough babies nor immigrants for that. The numbers of 457 visas attest to that. People desperate enough to risk their lives to come here meet one of my personal qualifications for potential citizenship.

Unlike visa overstayers who are flown in, then post facto seek refugee recognition. They can bloody well go home and "get in line". But because they haven't come by boat, they have access to the full Australian justice system.

2 tanners said...


This is the article about the cuts to the pension. Wasn't able to get it earlier because the Canberra Times and the web here are not best buddies. Any factual conflict (eg $277 million v $227 million), please take the article as being my source and my memory as the fault. Note that Noel Towell is sympathetic to the APS and that much of this information may have been provided by the CPSU.

Anonymous said...

Yes, thank you tanners, for the link. Early this morning, being intrigued by your earlier comment, I did my own searching and found a number of references to the pension cuts.

On the face of it they appear harsh; on the other hand it seems (and I may be wrong in this) that the changes are justified on the basis of bringing into line the prior differential (in fact, preferential) treatment of super entitlements previously 'enjoyed' by defined benefits superannuants. If this is the case, and setting aside the gross simplification/justification offered by the minister, then it seems to me fairly hard to press for reinstatement. But yes, it is a sorry business when one gets down to individual cases.

There was instanced one 89 year old who lost $53 (per fortnight/week?) as a result of the change. As I understand it, this would represent the difference between 50% and the now capped 10% exemption from his super entitlement? If that is so, and if my maths is correct, he must be on a super stream of $132 per fortnight/week? But cut it how you wish, these recipients were being treated differently to others.

I have some sympathy for the 'grandfathering' of such changes - but that ignores those who have in fact been disadvantaged in comparison over past times.

On the other issue, you finish up by mentioning visa overstayers, and their access to our justice system. It does seem unfair that the method of arrival leads to vastly different treatment. I suppose if I were being more consistent (I accept that criticism) then I should be demanding all over-stayers be shipped off with no legal rights. But I cannot bring myself to that position.

Winton's response is very good in a general sense, but avoids addressing the particular circumstances 'pushing' the current wave of refugees from the Mid East and Africa. Again, I have no answers - other than a morally distasteful feeling that 'their problems' are being foisted on 'us', and I resent that.

I guess I'm just not as much of a 'lemons, make lemonade' guy as you are tanners, but I respect your position.


2 tanners said...

The 89 year old was at least partly in a position where his defined benefit was justified by the fact that the Government was actually using his superannuation funds to fund the Budget deficits of the 1960s and 1970s. The Government, during the Whitlam years, was paying 3% to do so in years of 18% and 25% inflation, never mind interest rates. That guy is definitely paying twice.

And yes, it's weird to be rejecting people who 'arrive by boat'. What on earth does that have to do with a moral or economic or rights or you-name-it stance? If we took the idea that people who arrived by boat would never settle in Australia, AND failed to grandfather previous arrivals (like this pension measure has failed to be grandfathered), Mr Abbott would be obliged to depart or at least be interned pending an investigation into his refugee status.

Anonymous said...

C'mon tanners. 'That guy' is being treated exactly the same as anyone else who has relied upon 'the government' for his old age - except (it was) more favourably so, as I understand it.

You want the participants in what was, at the time, a highly favourable scheme to now have a back-dated right to participate in the 'super profits' arising from how their funds were invested? Maybe let's send Costello down to Crown Casino with the Future Fund; see if he can avoid a double-0 :)


Jim Belshaw said...

A brief first comment on the pension question.I had to laugh. At one point I was having an argument with mt father about my possible departure from the CPS. He was furious, pointing to the secure pension.

The old argument about public service service super is that people accepted sacrifices to join the public service including lower pay and that super was part of the long term contract. I make the point only in the context of a changing world.

The difficulty with the change is that it was always going to be those on lower incomes who would be hurt. Regardless of the equity arguments, it has the same effect as a sharp increase in taxation. The effect is greatest on lower incomes and may include loss of CRA and pensioner benefits. Where arrangements have been in place for a long period, you have two equity issues, a generalised one as compared to the equity questions of adversely affecting individuals who would hae had an expectation of the arrangements continuing and now have to adjust their lies. This type of effect is normally accommodated in system design, including grandfather arrangements. I think that kd mentioned this.

Jim Belshaw said...

have and lives!

2 tanners said...


"C'mon tanners. 'That guy' is being treated exactly the same as anyone else who has relied upon 'the government' for his old age - except (it was) more favourably so, as I understand it.

I might dispute the second half of your sentence, because most comparisons of defined benefits and defined contributions end up being very much apples vs. tractors. However, he was raised in a time when you were expected to retire at 65, collect your gold watch and quietly kick the bucket 3 years later. Capital controls, for much of his working life, left very few avenues of investment apart from the family home.

But yes, you are right. Rely on the Government and see what it gets you. Only I don't understand why you limit it to old age. What about health services, education, infrastructure, border protection and everything else that they provide. Or are they somehow different? Of course they are because they don't target public servant retirees.