Category Archives: Politics

Australian Senator McKenzie Resigns

In the public interest. The issue of political influence in marginal electorates where groups are favoured in funding allocations for political interest not public interest. This means the configuration of politics, electorates and donations focuses decisions on self interest and re-election. The system is flawed.

A few key thoughts were:

Anti Corruption Commission
Ethics
Self interest
Fraud
Taxpayer priorities
Political self interest over best interest

Why did Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet undertake the investigation of a National Leader. Why not an independent watchdog? It makes me wonder who replaces her? I contemplate was she removed? I wonder how many in parliament are doing this? Is there a recognition that they are helping friends, forming alliances, currying favour, lobbying for advantage and inappropriate friendship. I remember when Malcolm Turnbull criticised Peter Dutton for having lunch with a Chinese billionaire who wants Australian citizenship. Apparently $10,000 was paid. How does that stack up? He is still in his job why?

Turnbull said this: “He is supposed to be the minister responsible for the domestic security of Australia, he is supposed to be the minister responsible for ensuring our politics is not influenced by foreign donors.” I smile at this given he is former Goldman Sachs CEO, a foreign banking multinational company that has been caught engaging in corruption. https://www.npr.org/2018/12/17/677360033/goldman-sachs-faces-charges-in-malaysia-over-massive-corruption-scandal

How does that stack up? Looks like a comment based in revenge not the public interest. Yet both face no consequences. Why?

Here is the article revealing Bridget McKenzie quitting for political misappropriation of money, conflict of interest and membership of a gun club that was a recipient of funds in a key electorate. She resigns but there is no action taken on deception, misuse of public money and corruption. That is the problem.

https://www.msn.com/en-au/news/australia/bridget-mckenzie-quits-frontbench-over-report-she-breached-ministerial-standards/ar-BBZyYVS?ocid=spartandhp

Bridget McKenzie quits frontbench over report she breached ministerial standards

Bridget McKenzie quits frontbench over report she breached ministerial standards

45 mins ago Darwin Mayor in coronavirus home isolation after China tripDriver faces 20 charges after four children fatally struck by 4WDClick to expand

Replay VideoUP NEXT

“Bridget McKenzie resigns from Cabinet”

UP NEXT Video provided by Sky News Australia

Senator Bridget McKenzie has quit Cabinet and resigned as deputy Nationals leader in the wake of the so-called sports rorts affair.

Senator Mckenzie’s fate was sealed after an investigation by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet found she breached ministerial standards by failing to disclose her membership of a gun club that received almost $36,000 from a controversial sports grants program she oversaw.

The report by secretary Phil Gaetjens was handed to Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Saturday night.

Bridget McKenzie posing for the camera: Bridget McKenzie has been under sustained pressure following revelations about the sports grants program. (ABC News: Matt Roberts)

© Provided by ABC NEWS Bridget McKenzie has been under sustained pressure following revelations about the sports grants program. (ABC News: Matt Roberts)

On Sunday afternoon Mr Morrison announced Senator McKenzie would stand down as Agriculture Minister.

Mr Morrison said Mr Gaetjen concluded “the timing is such that the potential conflict should have been clear” in relation to Senator McKenzie’s membership of the Wangaratta Clay Target Club.

The Wangaratta Clay Target Club in north-east Victoria received $35,980 to upgrade its facilities from round two of the sports grants program, in a decision announced in February 2019.

Senator McKenzie spruiked the funding on her Facebook page, standing alongside the Nationals candidate for the electorate of Indi, which the Coalition was hoping to win.

“By failing to put appropriate arrangements in place to avoid potential conflict such as asking another minister to make any decisions relating to organisations of which she was a member … the Minister failed to do that and the secretary found this was in breach of the ministerial standards,” Mr Morrison said.

The former sports minister weathered more than two weeks of intense scrutiny after a damning auditor-general report revealed she disproportionately allocated grants to sport clubs in marginal seats and electorates the Coalition wanted to win ahead of last year’s election.

The National Audit Office report found her office ignored merit-based assessments made by the government agency Sport Australia.

Mr Morrison said Mr Gaetjen’s review did “not find evidence” that the allocation of grants were “unduly influenced by reference to marginal or targeted electorates”.

“While there may be differing views about the fairness of the process the Minister used, the discretion she was afforded accordingly, the secretary concludes ‘I do not believe there is a basis to find the Minister had breached standard in that respect’,” Mr Morrison said.

“He notes that data indicates applications for marginal or targeted seats were approved by the Minister at a statistically similar ratio of 32 per cent compared to the number of applications from other electorates at 36 per cent.

“And he said ‘I find no basis for this suggestion that political considerations were the primary determining factor’.”

In a statement on Sunday afternoon, Senator McKenzie said she accepted the report’s conclusions and would remain in the Senate.

I have always taken my role as a Minister of the Crown very seriously and I understand that the community expects parliamentarians to abide by the highest standards.

I accept the Prime Minister and Cabinet report, in relation to my previous role as a sports minister.

I maintain that at no time did my membership of shooting sports clubs influence my decision making, nor did I receive any personal gain.

However, I acknowledge that my failure to declare my memberships in a timely manner constituted a breach of the Prime Minister’s ministerial standards.

Elected representatives are responsible for public expenditure and take advice, not direction, from the public service and others.

The operation of ministerial discretion is important to our democratic process.

My support for the sport of shooting is well known and fully disclosed through my public advocacy.

I will continue to back our sporting shooters against the ongoing, often misinformed, public debate about a sport that routinely wins Australia medals at the Olympics.

In a statement thanking Senator McKenzie for her work, Nationals leader Michael McCormack indicated the deputy position would be discussed at a party room meeting on Tuesday.

Mr McCormack said he would act as Minister for Agriculture until a replacement was found.

Is PM Scott Morrison Implementing the Promised Land? For whom?

I found this article.

If The Conversation has analysed Pentecostalism correctly I can see issues for those in material poverty. Yet my inner feeling draws me to those in spiritual poverty. This is divided into them and us, with us or against us, acceptable or unacceptable in the so called eyes of God (if God had eyes).

I will sit with this for a moment as I go to silence to allow illumination.

The Meek Will Inherit the Earth comes immediately. They are the ones who live where need=want or what is popularly coined ‘poor’. There is no other when Love is centre stage. Love is God, God is Love, God is Truth, Love is Truth. These are the same thing. So when anyone moves from love on the basis of belief they move from what they perceive or label God. God in itself is not the truth as it creates in the mind a single being when the essence of a living intelligence permeates all things and non things. It is creation and created. It is science and faith, all One. As live is creative, expressive, expansive and infinite.

Has God appointed Scott Morrison to lead Australia to the promised land? What was the promise? What land? Or is the state of grace a feeling experienced? Land is owned by no-one in truth it is a gift that brings forth life for all. Land does not give to this one and not that one. Land is abundant when we allow nature to regenerate its bounty. Did God appoint Scott. There are no appointments, only realisations, there are no chosen only those who choose themselves to awaken to love as the only truth we can imagine. What is love, it is unconditional acceptance of what is, it lets go of control and allows as this higher power has its own geometric balance, or you can imagine homeostasis that rebalances the opposites as part of the dynamic. Not unlike magnets – attraction, repulsion creating intense pull or repulsion as the dance of opposites or like. the positive and negative play out the same way. When we are positive we tend to have a centrifugal effect when negative a centripetal effect. This is how energy moves. Emotion is energy in motion. That is when we feel the wide array of emotions we experience the negative and positive of life attracting or repelling. Stillpoint is neutrality which is a place of no thought, rest and infinite potential. It is where what is new emerges. So when this is understood we come back to first principles that we as part of this mental, physical, emotional, spiritual dynamic are creating the life and times we move through. Love simply allows as there is nothing to fear. Fear is false evidence appearing real, it is a dark energy as they put it but again the negative as part of the polarity. If we lean in one direction and head in that direction then we create the so called hell on earth. This does not mean do nothing in respect of climate change or wars as it is all God’s will. This is an incorrect understanding of the higher light. Like nature this power gives, experiences and renews. The climate is reflecting the imbalance in humans impacting nature. We have tried to contain this higher intelligence in ‘words’ without integrating the whole as who we are. When we feel fulfilled we are whole. The Christians call this born again. I call it realisation. When you move in life from a position of the whole, you will rebalance what is out of balance. We are co-creating systems that are not aligned with nature and nature cannot lose. The firs, feminine, disasters that many regard as the end times are the outcome of imbalance. Framing our world in an economics of scarcity within a gender imbalance of patriarchy that views its standing as superior rather than equal (not all but many). Equality is not about social justice it is a natural state of balance, not unlike the equilateral triangle. The strength is inherent in the equal sides in balance. That is why the pyramids were designed in a pyramidal structure. Balance can be translated into fairness, where the so-called bounty of nature is apportioned fairly. In the current economic malaise nature is apportioned unfairly as those with the gold rule the world rather than behaving as stewards. The sense of entitlement emerges from the false belief that God is rewarding them confirming a god given right to rule. This is not accurate the so-called God (I call omni [omnipresent]), like nature allows the imbalance as we learn from life rather than having edicts to control us. Love doesn’t control, it allows. It has no preference as there are no favourites, there is only creation creating. Specialness is the ego seeking to be superior, more important, chosen and powerful. Nature is selfless, yielding, allowing, embracing and giving. That is the energy of this higher light. We all get to choose as that is freedom or what I term free dominion. In my world there is no less than or greater than, just one love big enough for all. I live in a state of gratitude as I am labelled the poor, yet spiritually I feel the abundance beyond words.

So let’s turn to The Conversation’s analysis in our economic world of religion and the state in pursuit of the all powerful.

https://theconversation.com/five-aspects-of-pentecostalism-that-shed-light-on-scott-morrisons-politics-117511

 
Prime Minister Scott Morrison sings during a service at the Horizon Church in Sydney in April. Mick Tsikas/AAP

Five aspects of Pentecostalism that shed light on Scott Morrison’s politics

Prime Minister Scott Morrison began his victory speech on Saturday with the words, “I have always believed in miracles”. This was no mere hyperbole. Morrison appeared to be declaring his belief that God had actively intervened in the political process to bring about his re-election.

Morrison’s Pentecostal Christian faith is at the centre of his understanding of political life. He invited cameras to film him while worshipping at his church, Horizon, in southern Sydney. And in his maiden speech to Parliament in 2008, he described Pentecostal Hillsong Church leader Brian Houston as his “mentor” and himself as standing for “the immutable truths and principles of the Christian faith”.

In Morrison, the marketing man joins the evangelical preacher. When he tells his listeners, “I will burn for you”, this references the Biblical text, “Never let the fire in your heart go out,” (Romans 12.11). And, if he stays true to his church’s Pentecostal doctrine, he presumably believes in a personal Devil “who, by his influence, brought about the downfall of man”.

What then, are the key aspects of Pentecostal belief that will likely shape Morrison’s actions as a re-elected Prime Minister commanding huge authority in his party?

Miracles

Morrison’s Horizon Church is part of the broader Pentecostal movement that emerged in the United States in the early 20th century. That miracles happen is a central tenet of Pentecostalism. As a religion, it sees itself as re-creating the gifts of the Spirit experienced by the earliest Christian worshippers. Along with the working of miracles, these included speaking in tongues and healings. They remain central features of Pentecostal belief and worship today.

Divine providence

Morrison’s mention of an election miracle coheres with the Pentecostal belief in the divine providence. Put simply, this is the belief that, in spite of the apparent chaos in the world, as the old song puts it, “He’s got the whole world in his hands”.

According to Pentecostal theology, all of history – and the future – is in the control of God; from creation, to the Fall of humanity in the Garden of Eden, to the redemption of all in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In turn, this will lead to the second coming of Christ, the end of the world and the final judgement.

This is why further action on reducing carbon emissions to counter the environmental damage wrought by climate change may have little intellectual purchase with the PM. If the end of the world through climate change is part of God’s providential plan, there is precious little that we need to or can do about it.

Coral bleaching in the Kimberley region in 2017. If climate change is part of God’s plan, there is precious little we need do about it. University of Western Australia

Prosperity theology

In keeping with his theology, Morrison appears to see himself as chosen by God to lead us all towards his understanding of the promised land, which as we know means, “If you have a go, you get a go”.

This “have a go” philosophy sits squarely within Pentecostal prosperity theology. This is the view that belief in God leads to material wealth. Salvation too has a connection to material wealth – “Jesus saves those who save”. So the godly become wealthy and the wealthy are godly. And, unfortunately, the ungodly become poor and the poor are ungodly.

This theology aligns perfectly with the neo-liberal economic views espoused by Morrison. The consequence is that it becomes a God-given task to liberate people from reliance on the welfare state.

So there is no sense in Pentecostal economics of a Jesus Christ who was on the side of the poor and the oppressed. Nor is there one of rich men finding it easier to pass through the eyes of needles than to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. On the contrary, God helps those who are able to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.

 
A homeless woman in Brisbane in 2017. There is no sense in Pentecostal economics of a Jesus Christ who was on the side of the poor and the oppressed. Dan Peled/AAP

Exclusivism

That said, in some ways, Pentecostalism is pretty light on beliefs. Rather, it stresses an immediate personal connection with God that is the exclusive property of those who are saved. This leads to a fairly binary view of the world. There are the saved and the damned, the righteous and the wicked, the godly and the satanic.

In this Pentecostalist exclusivist view, Jesus is the only way to salvation. Only those who have been saved by Jesus (generally those who have had a personal experience of being “born again” which often happens in church spontaneously during worship) have any hope of attaining eternal life in heaven. At its best, it generates a modesty and humility; at its worst a smugness and arrogance.

So only born-again Christians will gain salvation. Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists, and non-born-again Christians are doomed to spend an eternity in the torments of hell.

Thus, as the website of the Christian group to which Scott Morrison’s Horizon church belongs puts it, “We believe in the everlasting punishment of the wicked (in the sense of eternal torment) who wilfully reject and despise the love of God manifested in the great sacrifice of his only Son on the cross for their salvation”.

 
Worshippers at Horizon church in April: Pentecostalists are more concerned with the experience of the Holy Spirit than the Bible. Mick Tiskas/AAP

Pietism

In principle, the PM’s faith is “pietistic”. It is about the individual’s personal relationship with God. So faith is focused “upwards” on God in the here and now – and the hereafter. The result is that Pentecostalism is weak on the social implications of its beliefs. Social equity and social justice are very much on the back burner.

So you would not expect from a Pentecostalist like Morrison any progressive views on abortion, womens’ rights, LGBTI issues, immigration, the environment, same sex marriage, and so on.

Pentecostalists are not fundamentalists. Unlike them, they are especially concerned with the direct experience of the Holy Spirit as the key to salvation. But like fundamentalists, they believe in the Bible as the inerrant word of God in matters of ethics, science and history.

Thus, they hold to a social conservatism reinforced by an uncritical approach to the Bible, which reveals everything necessary for salvation. It would be difficult, for example, for a Pentecostalist to reject the Biblical teaching that homosexuals were bound for hell. The Prime Minister recently did so. But only after first evading the question and then through very gritted teeth.

UK Parliament Emotionally Charged Debate

I felt the anger in this debate and it reiterated for me what Greta has said about adults letting children down.  You can see and hear that they do not know how to resolve conflict, they are not mature enough to deeply listen to others and respect all voices. This is the nature of a true parliament.  Unfortunately the people attracted to politics are often into power, placed in there by those in power with agendas and are willing to compromise who they are in order to get what they think they want.  Yet in truth surrender is the highest power, listening is the deepest respect and change is how we all grow.  Those critics are our greatest teachers as they show us to ourselves.  When we react it reveals we are unhealed, as pain is there, vulnerability is there, fear is expressing as they are not coping.  It reveals poor governance and self interest this is how divisions and parties disintegrate.

An adversarial system in my view is counter productive. We need to develop inner truth and values where a person speaks up not to tow the party line but speaks in accordance with conscience and inner feeling.  If we want a higher level of governance and a future that thrives, we have to learn to listen deeply to ourselves and others.  The wisdom is not far from the surface but typically we seek to out smart the other, put them down, pretend we are powerful rather than put the ego to the side and really creatively work on solutions. 

Inherent within all problems is a solution, you have to learn to see differently.

Religious Exclusive Brethren Funding Politics

In the public interest. Courtesy of the ABC.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2007-10-15/former-member-reveals-brethren-express-money-trail/698932

Former member reveals ‘Brethren Express’ money trail

Updated

A former member of the Exclusive Brethren has revealed the secretive religious sect has been transferring large sums of money across the world, possibly to fund political campaigns in Australia and the US.

In recent years Brethren leaders have met with numerous Liberal ministers, including Prime Minister John Howard.

Now ABC TV’s Four Corners program has revealed that tens of thousands of dollars in Brethren cash have been transferred around the world in envelopes.

Former Brethren member Don Monday says some of the money was used to fund the 2004 election campaign of US President George W Bush.

The program also suggests the Brethren are actively lobbying for the Howard Government, although sect leader Bruce Hales has barred his followers from voting themselves.

Mr Monday says he brought less than $10,000 in cash to Australia in 2005 for distribution to the Brethren.

And he says he knows of other people who have also brought large sums of money to Australia, possibly breaching Customs regulations.

“I would’ve known of people that said they’ve carried as many as 40 and 50 envelopes and some of those would’ve had probably as much as $1,000 to as little as $50 in them,” he said.

“The Brethren would normally, on a monthly basis, give gifts to Mr Hales as well as other people in responsible positions, and that money would be carried by what we jokingly would’ve called the ‘Brethren Express’.

“It would all be transferred in in envelopes by people who were travelling.”

But Exclusive Brethren elder and spokesman Phil McNaughton denies Mr Hales has used the money to fund political campaigns.

“He would use that to distribute to the needy amongst the Brethren and for other purposes at his discretion,” he said.

Mr McNaughton says he does not know just how much money has been handed out.

“In envelopes of cash are distributions of church giving, that was set on by the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians,” he said.

“It is the the church plate that individual churches may wish to distribute to persons engaged in the work of the glad tidings.

“It is money given on trust. It is to be spent in furthering the work of the Lord.”

Watch the Four Corners report at 8:30pm on ABC TV.

https://www.abc.net.au/4corners/the-brethren-express/8953268

Exclusive Brethren and the Liberal Party

In the public interest.

https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/revealed-how-exclusive-brethren-members-secretly-donate-to-the-liberal-party-20160615-gpk0nd.html

Revealed: how Exclusive Brethren members secretly donate to the Liberal Party

By Michael Bachelard

June 17, 2016 — 5.14pm

Tony McCorkell reveals secrets of the wealthy Christian sect Exclusive Brethren

Members of an extremist Christian sect which has covered up child sex abuse have given secret, coordinated donations to the Liberal Party.

Dozens of Exclusive Brethren members – who practice a radical doctrine of “separation” and are not permitted to vote – donated more than $67,000 to the Liberal Party on the same day in December 2010.

World leader of the Exclusive Brethren, Sydney-based Bruce Hales

The donations were revealed in documents tabled at the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption during its inquiry into the source of funds flowing into Liberal Party coffers.

The Exclusive Brethren, recently rebranded the “Plymouth Brethren Christian Church”, was described by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd as “an extremist cult” which breaks up families. But the Liberal party operatives who accepted the en masse donations described them as “friends”.

Former Exclusive Brethren spokesperson Tony McCorkell now speaking out about child sex abuse in the sectCredit:Paul Harris

The church first came to public attention in 2006 when it was revealed the group had raised and spent $370,461 to influence the 2004 election on behalf of John Howard, with whom they were close.

Brethren members cannot eat or socialise with “worldly” people, and members who are excommunicated are usually prevented from seeing their families, including their own children. Their wealthy leader, Sydney-based Bruce D. Hales, has told his members to maintain an “utter hatred” of the rest of the world. He recently addressed a sermon to a mentally tormented young member of his flock saying it would be better to “finish yourself off” with poison than communicate with members of his own family.

Good Weekend today reveals that Mr Hales ordered that some victims of child sexual abuse be paid off to keep quiet. One victim was told his abuse was a “family matter,” and nothing to do with the church, even though the church had placed the child with his abuser.

In 2003, the Brethren first excommunicated and then reinstated a man to the church despite overwhelming evidence that he had sexually abused two young girls who were living with him and attending the school where he was a trustee. The Brethren ignored the girls’ letters, direct to Mr Hales, in which they begged him not to bring their abuser back.

The man was later convicted and jailed for offences including sexual intercourse with a child under 10.

The Brethren have issued a number of legal threats in recent weeks to try to stop the Good Weekend story being published. In a statement it said it was “misinformed and plainly wrong” to suggest the church had a problem with sex abuse. The Church “considers any abuse of any member of society abhorrent,” the statement said.

Documents tabled at the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption’s Operation Spicer show 62 separate donors, all known members of the Brethren church, sent donations to the Liberal Party’s alleged slush fund, the Free Enterprise Foundation.

Each donation was in individual amounts of $1500 or less, and appeared on a document labelled, “Friends”.

According to the NSW Electoral Commission, the Free Enterprise Foundation was used to “channel and disguise” donations “by major political donors, some of whom were prohibited donors” to the Liberal Party. While individually the Brethren were not “major” donors, together their contribution was well above the legal disclosure threshold. It suggests they may have deliberately tried to avoid any need to disclose their collective contribution.

The donors are a who’s who of senior Exclusive Brethren members in NSW, including relatives of Mr Hales, who is known to his followers as “the Elect” and is seen as next to God. Mr Hales’ brother Stephen and sister-in-law Estelle Hales, and cousin John Hales donated $1490 each. Other families donated multiple times from different members. Five donations came from the Pridham family, who are relatives of Mr Hales.

Pump salesman Mark Mackenzie donated $1490 through his family partnership, Aline Pumps Sales and Service. Mr Mackenzie was the front man for the massive advertising spend by the Brethren on behalf of John Howard in 2004.

Brethren members run highly successful businesses, a network of charities, and received $26.6 million in government funding for their private school system.

Though they do not vote, the Exclusive Brethren have in the past been vigorous lobbyists of conservative Federal and state governments. They supported Mr Howard in 2004 to defend his school funding policy against then Labor leader Mark Latham. The Australian Tax Office has never scrutinised their habit of paying the vast bulk of their schools fees in tax-free donations and distributions from family trusts.

They are also virulently anti-gay. Their election funding in 2004 was directed to anti-gay, anti-Green and pro-Howard advertising. Similar campaigns took place the same year in New Zealand, Canada and the United States, in support of then president George W. Bush. The Brethren man coordinating the United States campaign said the group “like to fly beneath the radar“.