Image for NATION: Is Andrew Nikolic a double-dipping rorter ...?

Vilification of that order is extreme yet it is the language applied by government to young mum’s accessing both workplace and government paid parental leave. Such payments were legal and intended in legislation and less inequitable than Mr Abbott’s preferred scheme, yet it is now loaded with condemnation.

So what has Mr Nikolic done to justify any vilification? As a member of parliament he receives a very handsome salary but in addition he is entitled to a very generous army pension, something you would kill for. A full time salary plus a pension while still working?

Of course it is both legal and allowed but does that make him a double-dipping rorter? The system is littered with anomalous and inequitable entitlements however justified. It is the language you choose to apply that really creates the distortion.

What really is the problem is the constant use by the government of extreme moral invective and exaggeration. Last year it howled budget emergency and debt and deficit, then they doubled the deficit ‘emergency’ in just one year and blew out the budget even more by showering small business with $5 billion in largesse.

Stimulating small business and farming is very worthwhile principally because last year the government stalled the economy but it illustrates alarmingly the total loss of control by the government of economic policy.

The ‘credible path back to surplus’ is like the Yellow Brick Road – fantasy. At best it is like the 90 year-old who just got married and wants to settle down near a school. It is optimistic and wonderfully heroic but unrealistic.

It is that unreality which stalks this governments and its budget. It is just not quite believable and whatever pop in the polls it receives it is shadowed by a deep public cynicism. It is an election budget whenever it occurs and the question is what do they really intend after the next election if they are re-elected? 

*Dr Michael Powell runs a pastoral business fattening stock as well as a property investment business. He also works part time as a university lecturer teaching Australian and World History with a research interest in South Asian and Sri Lankan colonial history, 20thC Australian politics and history, and Aboriginal history. 

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• Karl Stevens, in Comments: Peter Henning. The Liberal ‘two-tiered system of entitlement’ goes beyond anything I had imagined. This week we saw Prime Minister Abbott supporting two multinational mining giants against Australian miner Andrew Forrest. The two big miners both use Singapore to avoid paying billions of dollars of tax in Australia. No wonder Fortesque Minerals cannot compete with them but they have PM Abbott on side because they are bigger. I really find it hard to believe Abbott even represents Australia. His number one cheer leader Andrew Nikolic popped-up in Braddon this week opening a sausage factory. Maybe he has a reciprocal arrangement with fellow ‘Amigo’ Brett Whiteley? Nikolic is your quintessential Gemini in my view. Except he is in some kind of dark realm inhabited by the ghosts of 19th century white supremacy.

• Peter Henning, in Comments: Your comments are closely related to the free trade agenda of the neo-libs of course.  If they can get the same kind of free trade arrangements which the US got with South American dictatorships some years ago, they can trash national legislation applying to public health and the environment. The current free-trade agreements being negotiated by Australia - eg the Trans-Pacific - will give transnational corporations the power to sue those who protest against any environmental destruction they inflict on places where they operate. This is a major reason why the Abbott government supports such agreements, because they override national and state jurisdictions re protection of the health and welfare of the public and the environment.  The Abbott government is committed to undermining and unwinding the federal legislative framework currently in place which recognises the public interest is best served by imposing standards of conduct on capitalists. Free trade arrangements which give corporations legal power to override national legislation are just fantastic for governments like Abbott’s. It’s nirvana. The bold Duke Prince Philip’s knighthood is a mere bit of icing on the forelock compared to the incomparable glory of gifting Australia’s political autonomy to the highest bidders in the globalised free market.