Time for a double dissolution?

Mick Donohoe writes: Re. “Poll Bludger: is Abbott crazy enough to call a double dissolution?” (Friday). The recent events with BB may cause TA to go for a DD. He can get rid of her and save her neck at the same time, “many years of dedicated service … great asset to Australian parliament … minor incident should not be blown out of proportion … blah blah blah…”. In addition to that, Tony must think he is a chance against, with apologies to First Dog on the Moon, “Bib Shortstack”.

John Richardson writes: “Is Abbott crazy enough to call a double dissolution?” Nope, but we live in hope.

Never let an opportunity to rort pass you by

Richard Middleton writes: Re. “Pollies with snouts in the trough set back reform” (Friday). It is high time that politicians’ benefits were reined in. There is no justification for the extent and magnitude of the alternative financial advantages they can receive, when in the job and afterwards. For example, the excuse is often given that politicians need to be able to access their super after so few years because they may not be able to get work after parliament. Well, if they are that incapable of getting a job, why are they in parliament in the first place? It seems many step straight into interesting positions, often in industries related to their previous portfolios.

Why do they need such offices, cars and other such extras paid for when they leave and what is this with the generous travel benefits?  When they take their non-working spouses on their overseas fact finding junkets, we are told it is also claimable/paid for by taxpayers. Is that really so and if so, on what basis is such an aberration allowed? I would have to pay under similar circumstances.
If they have left parliament, they should not need such and if it is private business, let them do the same as any business and if it is private, let them do what any other ordinary person does and pay for their own travel. Isn’t  it time, when all are being told to tighten their belts, for our public servants to do so too? Isn’t it time that we, who pay for this largely unearned largesse, called for an end to the excesses?

Greg Poropat writes: Bronwyn Bishop’s use/ misuse of public funds highlights a serious issue with the application of law to federal politicians. Tony Burke has said that if Bishop knowingly made a false declaration she may have to resign as Speaker. In fact, if she were prosecuted and convicted of this crime she would be automatically disqualified from being a parliamentarian. It is a crime to defraud the Commonwealth and it is a crime to knowingly submit a false document to the Australian government. Repayment of money defrauded from the Commonwealth does not exculpate the perpetrator from the crime of fraud. Conviction for either of these offences carries a potential sentence of 12 months and under s.44 of the Constitution automatically bars the felon from being a member of the federal parliament.

However, under an agreement between federal politicians innocuously known as the Minchin Protocol, our politicians effectively conspire to pervert the course of justice by implementing administrative procedures that generally allow politicians who defraud the Commonwealth through the abuse of travel entitlements to avoid prosecution. If any other citizen defrauded the Commonwealth or submitted false declarations with the same alacrity and to the same extent that so many of our politicians have, the Commonwealth would barely hesitate to prosecute. But in this sunburnt land it is one rule of law for our pollies and another for the rest of us.

Grundle on Greece 

Adrian Baddeley writes: Re. “Rundle: whatever you see in Greece, nothing is further from the truth” (Friday). The language used by the press in covering the Greek financial crisis has been equally brutal. Tsipras is gratuitously labelled “young”, “left-wing”, “former student leader”, in contrast to the “senior EU leaders” whose personal attributes and political leanings are not mentioned. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble’s vitriolic commentary has been given ample air time. Why is it not equally relevant that Schauble is old, right-wing, and a former corporate lawyer, and that he had to resign as party chairman in 2000 because of a scandal over donations from an arms dealer?

Why Israel should be singled out

Jock Webb writes: Re. “On nukes in the Middle East” (Friday). I can think of a number of reasons for singling out Israel, Les Heimann. Neither the Canadian, British, US or Australian governments are systematically destroying the livelihood of people in the occupied lands. We are not expropriating farms by putting fences through them, we are not colonising a foreign country. We do not pretend that we are something special because of past persecutions while persecuting those we have power over. We are not practising a policy in Palestinian land very much like Hitler’s “Lebensraum”.

I also doubt that any country would use nuclear weapons against its neighbour as you would suffer much from the fallout. It is harder to say what Iran might do, though if we could stop seeing them through 1988’s prism and remember that a vicious brutal bastard called the Shah was imposed by the US is part of their recent history we might do better. I was raised to admire Israel and I respect their achievements, but it is a state based on theft and dispossession (not usually acceptable in today’s world). I would ask why the Palestinians are the ones who pay the price for the collective guilt of Europe having played no part in the holocaust. Somehow we expect a higher standard to apply, but the blind support of Israel by the US in particular and the criminality of the leaders (think Sharon in Beirut) have made many possible paths to peace unwalkable. That seems enough to me.

Nic Maclellan writes: Les Heimann says: “whilst Israel is known to have nuclear weapons, they have not used them during the twenty plus years they have possessed them. Neither has Russia or the USA or Great Britain.” Nuclear weapons states DO use their weapons, even without making them go bang. In official strategic policy, the possession of nuclear weapons is used as a threat, to bludgeon action or inaction by official enemies. The maintenance of nuclear weapons systems is also used to justify repressive national security laws – have a chat to Mordechai Vanunu about that use of the Israeli nuclear arsenal!

Despite this, the possession of these weapons loses value if opponents call your bluff: the IDF gets beaten like a gong when they invade southern Lebanon, fighting non-state enemies that do not believe Israel will use its weapons of mass destruction. For this reason, nuclear weapons are of diminishing strategic and military use. The possibility of miscalculation, and the global environmental catastrophe that would be caused by even limited use of nuclear weapons, justifies the growing international push for a treaty banning nuclear weapons.

On Polish gongs

Phillip Roslan writes: Re. “A brief history of Polish gongs” (Friday).I vaguely recall Roger Woodward telling Phillip Adams on Late Night Live that his award was for his dedication to the music of Frederic Chopin.

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