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Wren's week: Economy tanks, protest rights threatened, Morrison keen on Trump

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Cartoon by Mark David/@mdavidcartoons.

This week, John Wren considers Peter Dutton's attempts to stifle protest, Anne Ruston's comments on welfare recipients and the Government's failing economic policy.

I'm BACK after a week overseas although I did manage to follow much of what’s been going on in Canberra.

Yesterday Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton announced loudly that he thought those regularly protesting a lack of action on climate change in Brisbane, his home city, should have their benefits payments cut.

Dutton is highly disturbing at the best of times and just when I think he can’t go lower, he does. His statement implies that protesters are all on welfare payments which is very far from the truth. Also, what does he class as welfare payments? Family tax benefit? Aged pension? Disability pension? Where does it end?

Make no mistake, this is the small mind of a fascist.

Whether we like it or not, political protest is an exercise of free speech. Dutton wants to legislate to shut this down. He says the protesters are not acting in line with “community standards”.

Who is he to determine what community standards are and which community is he referring to? Personally, I don’t want to be a member of any community that includes members such as Dutton.

One of the first moves of authoritarian dictators on both sides of politics is the outlawing of public protests. Ultimately, it’s a sign of weakness. Those who cannot tolerate criticism seek to shut it down by force, legal backed up by physical. This is Dutton. Like all bullies he’s intellectually and morally weak.

It was a nice diversion by Dutton from the UN’s demand to release the Biloela Tamil family that Australia has incarcerated on Christmas Island. This incarceration is another sign of Dutton’s moral weakness. He’s picking on a largely defenceless family, beloved by their local community to make a point, and that point is that he is the one in charge, the one with power literally of life and death over these poor people. Again, he’s used the physical force of the state rather than persuasive argument to make his case. It’s bullying. It’s weakness.

While we are on the subject of welfare, there was another obnoxious comment from one of Dutton’s more repugnant colleagues, SA Senator Anne Ruston, who stated on record that there was no point increasing Newstart as the money would just be spent on drugs and alcohol.

When we combine this with her desire to drug test welfare recipients, she clearly implies that the reason those receiving unemployment payments are not finding jobs is because they are all on drugs (and/or protesting on the streets of Brisbane, of course). The real reason that people can’t find jobs is simply that there are seven applicants for every new job vacancy. If she wants people to find jobs, then we need to create more of them.

Why is the Government blaming job-seekers for not being able to find jobs? Well, the Government is presiding over an economic disaster of their own making. They spent the first half of the year and much of the latter part of last year setting the economy up with booby traps for the incoming Labor Government they fully expected take over from them in May.

By winning the election they have found themselves in the middle of their own minefield and they’ve lost the map that shows them the way out. They also promised a surplus during the Election, again with no expectation whatsoever that they would have to actually deliver it. Now they find they must, to save face.

The only way they can do this is to cut and defer spending. Which is exactly what they are doing. The NDIS underspend is the prime example, but there are many others. They have stolen money from the most disadvantaged to prop up their numbers. This, at a time when everyone economist in the land says they should not be focusing on a surplus but should be spending more money to stimulate the economy.

They will do neither. Morrison, Frydenberg, Dutton and Cormann are confusing obstinacy for strength. The truly strong would admit they made a mistake and attempt to remedy it. These fools are doubling down on their error and taking us down with them.

Obviously, it’s easier to blame job-seekers for their own unemployment than their own fiscal incompetence.

Morrison has also been exposed openly assisting his partner-in-crime U.S. President Trump with Australian intelligence that could be used to discredit his political foes. This is a gross abuse of Morrison’s position and our intelligence community. It also might amount to foreign interference in the U.S. Election.

Can you imagine the outrage if it came out that the US President had provided Morrison with adverse intelligence against the Australian Opposition Leader (those who recall Whitlam’s dismissal may smell some similarities)? A PM with morals and standards would have already resigned over the revelation, but this is Morrison, a man devoid of ethics and accountability, which of course is why he did it in the first place.

The reality is that Trump is now facing impeachment. His outbursts both online and in press conferences are increasingly bizarre. Many have been saying for many years that he is not of sound mind and even his Republican colleagues are now privately (and some publicly) conceding it. Much more is going to come out via subpoenas and other inquests. Some of it may sheet back to Morrison as well.

And I’ll finish this week’s column with Coalition MPs Barnaby Joyce, David Littleproud and Frydenberg touring drought-ravaged NSW and QLD telling us that this drought is the farmers’ own GFC. This is wrong on many levels. The global financial crisis (GFC) affected the whole world including, of course, Australian farmers.

The comment though is a testament to how superbly the then Rudd Labor Government managed the ravages of the GFC. The fact that farmers don’t even recall its impact on them shows how remarkably well Treasurer Wayne Swan and Rudd managed the situation. Compare this excellent fiscal management to those we currently have doing it.

You can sign the petition to have John Wren reinstated on Twitter here.

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