Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Liar, liar, pants on fire ...

(Above: more David Pope here)

Possibly you can imagine the scene.

There was the pond, caught in down town traffic hell on George street yesterday morning when suddenly all was light and jolly.

The naughtiest of all political words, the "l' word, had popped from lips pushed too far, and spread throughout the land.

In an extraordinary outburst, Dr Stone says the leaders of her party are deceiving the public debate. 
"It's not the truth. That's right, it's lying," she said.

You too can relive that moment by heading off here for the audio (though you can also find Stone on AM, with transcript, here, where the word 'lying' surfaced like a rat on Warfarin).

Oh dear, what to do, what to do.

Naturally tent flaps were closed immediately, and the camels were tended in private:

The Prime Minister’s office has declined an ABC request for comment and Mr Hockey’s office has not yet responded.

But happily the hagiographers knew how to handle it.

Lying? Oh that's a terribly cruel and unnatural charge muh lud. Could we lower the charge a little please?

There, that's much better, and those inverted commas around 'misleads' so much more calming.

Of course when it came to actually writing Tony Abbott 'misleads' voters on SPC (behind the paywall so you can stay in the dark like a mushroom), David Crowe couldn't actually avoid the rampaging Dr. Stone in his opening pars:

Tony Abbott has been accused of misleading voters on the "extremely generous" wage deal at fruit processor SPC Ardmona as the company refutes his claims and a key Liberal backbencher accuses him of lying. 
In a damaging setback on industry policy, the Prime Minister came under fire for inflating the impact of workplace deals on the troubled company's costs amid a wider Coalition campaign to target the unions. The dispute inflamed the Coalition's internal differences over taxpayer handouts as former Howard government minister Sharman Stone, whose electorate includes the SPC factory, took aim at Mr Abbott for not telling the truth about the workplace costs.

It was handy for the reptiles at the lizard Oz that SPC had, through parent company Coca Cola Amatil, decided to issue an aggrieved media release that laid out the FACTS and refuted the notion that SPC Ardmona was a union shop (here in full in pdf form). It was a veritable flurry of floozies and FACTS, showing that the lying Abbott was indeed misleading:

Claim: SPC Ardmona employees get “over generous” allowances. 
Fact: The total allowances paid to SPC production staff in 2013 was $116,467, which represents less than 0.1% of the business’s cost of goods for the year. 
Claim: There is a generous “wet” allowance of 58 cents per hour for cleaners 
Fact: Zero ($0.00) paid in 2013. 
Claim: SPC Ardmona employees get nine weeks paid leave a year. 
Fact: SPCA employees get 20 days annual leave. 
Claim: a five-day Melbourne Cup long weekend. 
Fact: Production staff accrue rostered days off (RDOs) during the year which SPCA requires them not to take during the peak season. Instead these RDOs are taken at the start of November, the optimum time for a plant shutdown to allow maintenance in preparation for the canning season from December to April. RDOs are not additional leave. 
Claim: Sick leave is cashed out each year. 
Fact: This was removed from the EBA in 2012. 
Claim: Loading, or shift penalties are above the award. 
Fact: SPCA’s are the same as industry standards and common to many Australian EBAs. Afternoon shift is at 20% and night shift at 30%. 
Claim: Loadings on top of overtime. 
Fact: Production workers do almost zero overtime. Claim: Redundancy is in excess of the award. Fact: This old condition was reduced in 2012 to a 52 week cap.

Stone herself had laid to bed a couple of others - the nature of an allowance paid to cleaners in relation to chemicals, and workers being allowed off time for a drink in hot days in an air-conditioned factory.

Never mind, the pond has been in these kinds of factories and knows it wouldn't last an hour attempting a job both arduous and mind-numbing. To present reasonable working conditions as a form of feather-bedding is up there with Gina Rinehart urging everybody to work for a couple of bucks an hour.

What's interesting is how spectacularly the attempt by Abbott and Hockey et al to demonise these workers as fat cat bludgers and "shiny can" ne'er do wells has back fired.

And how hypocritical. It didn't take long before even the reptiles found themselves asking the obvious question and getting the obvious answers:

Cadbury workers in Tasmania have received above-inflation pay rises totalling more than 24 per cent over a period of just over four years, analysis of workplace agreements shows. 
Union delegates at Cadbury also get up to 10 days' paid leave annually to attend union training courses. A similar clause at Toyota has been attacked by Employment Minister Eric Abetz. 
The Abbott government has been forced to defend $16 million in taxpayer assistance to Cadbury after rejecting a bid by SPC Ardmona for financial help. (Glass-and-a-half wages deals at Cadbury plant, behind the paywall to keep the Murdochians on two dollars a day).

Now in the usual course of events, the pond wouldn't have much sympathy for Coca-Cola Amatil, a multi-billion dollar company doing very nicely, thank you very much, and indulging in a government shakedown as an easy course of action.

The pond still has a deep grievance from the days of Coca-Cola addiction, not lifted even when the silly company recently decided to get itself into a race war with crazed, right-wing ranting and raving American loons over a Superbowl advertisement which would be seen as merely cute and inoffensive and slobberingly sentimental in the US way anywhere else in the world. (If you missed that one, get a dose of Exposed: Coca Cola's Super Bowl Commercial Was A Stealth Push For Amnesty By Its Muslim CEO, and any other number of frothings and foamings).

Oh sure you could get all the hand wringers coming out with things like Coca-Cola Super Bowl Ad Reflects the Reality of a Multilingual America, and Coke Ad Controversy Displays Deep-Seated Ignorance, but how's that going to wash in the land of hate, where hate is a way of life?

The problem for Abbott was that he indulged in pork-barreling during the election campaign, and so made a promise to Cadbury, which he couldn't revoke, not when things were looking good for the Liberal party in the upcoming state election campaign, at least not without experiencing a lot of flak.

So he went ahead with the pork-barreling, and so - naturally - he found himself called - accurately and fairly - a hypocrite, a liar, and a misleading peddler of untruths.

There was - there is - absolutely no difference between handing over indulgences to Cadbury and Coca-Cola/SPC, and the more Abbott tried to dig himself out of the hole, by blathering on about the tourism benefits of Cadbury, the deeper he got (sssh, not a word about wholesome fruit with natural sugars versus the filthy evil of crappy milk chocolate, because the good fruit people are also enhancing the bottom line of tooth-killing liquid drug pushers).

This tension has always been at the heart of the coalition and it's going to rumble on for some considerable time, especially as rural folk begin to realise that Barnaby Joyce is not just a futtock, he's impotent in policy terms up against a jolly Joe Hockey always ready for a rumble.

Barners has been wandering around trying to suggest his colleagues should pay attention to him and the plight of farmers (Barnaby Joyce pushes for $7bn in relief aid to farmers, behind the paywall so desperate farmers and Barners can't hit on you):

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce has vowed to wage a "mighty battle" in cabinet to convince his colleagues to sign off on a $7 billion bailout of "distressed" farm loans and avert a "complete and utter financial meltdown". 
Addressing a packed crisis meeting of farmers in southwest Queensland on the weekend, Mr Joyce warned that rural debt in Australia had reached an unsustainable level of $70bn and that 10 per cent of it was unlikely to be repaid. 
Mr Joyce told the farmers he supported calls for a Rural Reconstruction and Development Bank to be formed within the federal Reserve Bank to buy bad rural loans from the private sector at a discounted price. 
The move would put Mr Joyce and other Nationals on a collision course with their dominant Coalition partner, which has recently shown its reluctance to prop up ailing industries. 
Last week, cabinet, after a lengthy discussion, rejected a $25m request from SPC Ardmona in a "defining" decision on industry policy where Tony Abbott told corporate Australia to get its own affairs in order.

Uh huh. Now even the pond can tell there's a bit of a difference between $25 million and $7 billion, a bit like a pepper-induced sneeze up against double pneumonia.

The pond has never had that much problem with agrarian socialism - hey, it gives socialism a good name - though truth to tell after a Xmas moment with a well-heeled Victorian dairy farmer, the pond immediately resolved to buy $2 milk wherever possible. By golly, the Asian appetite for dairy product has done wonders for the dairy business, at least in the areas where drought isn't an issue ... and when the farmer told the pond to go drink $2 milk and see if he cared ... Well, I mean, talk about cheek ...

Still the pond has a soft spot for the mighty Shep and Sheppies in general (no, we're not talking German Shepherds, we're talking Shepparton), and here's the thing with all this from this moment on.

Abbott has shot himself in the foot, and has established that when it comes to these matters, he's now a double-dealing hypocrite and liar with a very fuzzy sense of economic policy, and a complete inability to handle the contradictions arising from same.

He could have hoed a clean line. He could simply have said that he'd made an election promise to Cadbury, and he wasn't going to break that promise, but that he didn't want to make a habit of it with Coca Cola Amatil.

And left it at that. Instead he tried to gild the lily. Instead he used weasel words and attempted to demonise the hapless workers caught in the middle of the storm, a bit like blaming all the cockies for drought and getting caught in a debt trap.

And in a nanosecond he was out of his depth and pushing Stone out of her tree, and making her say the bleeding obvious in a fit of exasperation and desperation.

This before we even get on to mining subsidies and other allowances, and the exorbitant amounts of cash spooned out to the executives at the big end of town.

It turns out economic rationalism is applied irrationally, if at all ...

It's another own goal for Abbot, and it's a measure of the ineptness of the Labor party that it took one of Abbott's own to point out the blindingly obvious ... the half-baked, lying, devious emperor was once again wearing no clothes.

And what happens now? What if the plant shuts down? What if Barners keeps making promises about helping farmers and gets crushed?

How much heat can Abbott take before once again he shows he'll sail wherever the wind blows the hardest? And lie to get there ...

No wonder the cartoonists are making out like bandits.

(Below: more Moir here)

(Below: more David Rowe here)


  1. DP - on the asylum-seekers/boats recent incidences, not many people realise that Customs and Border Protection actually outsources the operation and manning of many of its vessels. So the ABC story about injuries to asylum seekers and returning them in brand-new lifeboats may actually be about the behaviour of contractors, not necessarily the RAN. If you want the true story, follow the money.

    The value of active contracts with the Customs and Border Protection Service is over $800 million. Add to this the contracts run by Immigration and you have a massive teat from the Government giving taxpayer money to private companies - running from Serco and IBM down to Ted's Camera Shop.

    More info here -

  2. Cadbury sponsored Abbott for his Pollie Pedalling [you know the event for which he claimed expenses from the taxpayer] .
    So its only fair he gives Cadbury some money back, isn't it, "you scratch my back ...".
    SPC didn't sponsor Tony so they miss out.


    1. spot on, Fred, and here's photographic proof for disbelievers

  3. I don’t know what Greg Hunt’s forte is but he’s definitely not Minister for the Environment material.

    1. h b, when was the last time there was an environment minister even halfway up to the job? A shonky one-percenters' pocket stuffer, the environmental stuff-up Hunt is definitely 150% of the wrong stuff...

      "The federal minister for the environment, Greg Hunt, says a series of conditions on the development, including funding for programmes to support the health of the reef, will mean that the water quality will actually improve by 150 per cent. "The conditions I have put in place for these projects will result in an improvement in water quality and strengthen the Australian government's approach to meeting the challenges confronting the reef into the future," he said in a press release.

      "I think that sounds ridiculous," says Selina Ward, a coral reef ecologist from the University of Queensland who co-authored the petition. She says an enormous amount of work has gone into improving water quality over the last two years, and 360,000 tonnes of sediment has been removed from the water. To offset the 5 million tonnes the Abbot Point extension will dump would cost about A$500 million (US$430 million) and unimaginable effort, she says."

    2. Agent98, all environment ministers, so far, haven't been worth a bucket of warm spit, particularly Hunt

  4. On SkyNews 4 February 2014:

    David Speers: In the case of SPC why was that rejected

    Mathias Cormann: In the case of SPC we had a request before us from an individual commercial business asking for an ad hoc grant from the taxpayer of $25 million. SPC Ardmona is a company that is wholly owned by Coca Cola Amatil who has paid 750$ for that particular business. Coca Cola Amatil is a company that has a strong balance sheet. Their well cashed up. They’ve got the necessary reserves… to make the necessary investments in the restructuring of SPC Ardmona on their own.

    David Speers: But you can say the same for Cadbury and you didn’t give them money

    Mathias Cormann: Well, uh, that was a very different circumstance.

    Yes, very different circumstance, indeed.

    Kraft (Mondel─ôz International, Inc.) paid US$18.2bn for Cadbury in 2010 and its earnings net of tax was only US$1.5billion in 2012. On these figures it seems Cormann believes Cadbury is not well cash up and has no reserves so this government is so selectively charitable with taxpayers’ money it has given $16m to what must be an almost insolvent Cadbury plant in Tasmania.


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