Donald Trump, Australia and New Zealand

This TV video from the USA says about itself:

Alec Baldwin mocks Trump and his Australia phone call on tonight’s episode

On tonight’s episode of Saturday Night Live, Alec Baldwin returned to portray President Donald J. Trump in a blistering cold open, skewering all the top stories that plagued the administration this week.

Including Trump’s advisor Stephen Bannon as the Grim Reaper.

By James Cogan in Australia:

Pro-Trump Australian senator splits from Coalition government

7 February 2017

After months of speculation, right-wing and pro-Trump Senator Cory Bernardi formally split from the governing Liberal Party today and announced his intention to form a new party, the Australian Conservatives. At this stage, no member of the parliament’s lower house, from either the Liberal Party or its coalition partner, the National Party, has joined him. The Coalition and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, therefore, still cling to power with a fragile one-seat majority.

Bernardi, 47, has represented the socially conservative Christian right of the Liberal Party since he first entered parliament in 2007. The main issues with which he has associated himself are climate change skepticism, draconian immigration policies, anti-Muslim xenophobia, anti-abortion campaigns, opposition to same sex marriage and calls for the repudiation of anti-discrimination legislation. He was a supporter of former prime minister Tony Abbott, who won the 2013 election against the Labor Party, and an opponent of Turnbull, who became prime minister through an inner-party coup against Abbott in September 2015.

A senator from the state of South Australia, Bernardi was seconded to Australia’s United Nations delegation last year, spending three months in the US during the final stages of the presidential election campaign. He paid considerable attention to Donald Trump’s campaign, particularly the latter’s populist

How many times do I have to repeat that ‘populist’ is the wrong word for politicians like Trump?

appeals to immense political alienation and discontent among some of the most desperate and impoverished sections of the American population and his channeling of such sentiments behind America First nationalism, anti-immigrant xenophobia and right-wing economic populism.

Bernardi returned home vowing to develop a Trump-style movement in Australia. On November 23, he wrote: “[P]olitics in Australia needs to change. My time in the USA has made me realise I have to be a part of that change, perhaps even in some way a catalyst for it.”

Bernardi is acutely conscious of the instability that surrounds the Turnbull government. He has split just days after the now notorious phone call between Turnbull and Trump, when they clashed over Turnbull’s insistence that the new US administration honour a sordid refugee deal that had been earlier made with the Obama administration. In recent days, Turnbull has denied US reports that he agreed to certain quid pro quos with Trump to ensure the deal remained. The alleged “reciprocal” agreements ranged from sending more troops to Iraq to sending Australian warships into Chinese-claimed waters in the South China Sea.

Points of difference had already flared after Trump repudiated the Trans-Pacific Partnership following his January 20 inauguration. Turnbull briefly suggested that the trade pact could continue without US involvement and raised, in meetings with Japanese prime minister Abe, the prospect of including China in a revised TPP—an action that would certainly have been viewed with hostility in Washington.

There is no question that the rifts between Turnbull and Trump have heightened tensions within Turnbull’s government. In June 2010, under conditions of a rift between then prime minister Kevin Rudd and the Obama administration, pro-US factions within the Labor Party orchestrated an inner party coup to oust Rudd and install Julia Gillard.

According to Fairfax media, Bernardi reportedly told Turnbull this morning that a leadership challenge was being plotted against him and that “I want no part of it.”

Given the extent of the factional divisions both within and between the Liberal and National parties, the outcome of any leadership spill would be highly unpredictable and could result in a split of some sorts and the fall of the Coalition government.

Bernardi’s statements today serve to underscore his major concern: to prepare for the collapse of the Coalition and Labor Party-dominated two party system that has prevailed in Australia since World War II.

In his resignation statement to the Senate, he declared: “[T]he body politic is failing the people of Australia and it’s clear we need to find a better way. The level of public disenchantment with the major parties, lack of confidence in our political process and concern about the direction of our nation is very strong. This is a direct product of the political class being out of touch with the hopes and aspirations of the Australian people.”

So-called third parties are now attracting an unprecedented 30 percent of the national vote. While Labor’s former working class base has abandoned the party in droves, right-wing populist formations such as Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, Nick Xenophon’s party and Jacqui Lambie’s party have cut deeply into the traditional voter base of both Liberal and National.

Bernardi has pointed to the fact that more than one million conservative voters have shifted from the Coalition to other right-wing formations. Comments he made last year, however, revealed that he is even more concerned over the prospect of mass anger and alienation taking the form of a left-wing, anti-capitalist movement within the working class and among young people. In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald last December, Bernardi noted that if the Democrats had stood Bernie Sanders, rather than Hillary Clinton, Sanders would have beaten Trump in the election because his anti-capitalist rhetoric appealed to broad layers of the population. The South Australian senator recalled being shown “research that found 50 percent of young Americans believe socialism or communism is a preferable system to capitalism.”

In the period ahead, the danger of war with China will soar as a result of the Trump administration’s agenda, while the deepening economic crisis will intensify pressures on the government to slash taxes and cut public spending.

Bernardi’s objective is to divert the rapidly deepening social disaffection into anti-immigrant demagogy and nationalism, combined with calls for corporate tax cuts, the winding back of social welfare and the slashing of government regulations on business.

According to Bernardi, 60,000 people have indicated “interest” on his “Australian Conservatives” web site. He has also developed relations with significant corporate figures, and is closely associated with Western Australian multi-billionaire Gina Rinehart, who has amassed a staggering fortune on the back of iron ore exports to China. Rinehart has heaped praise on Donald Trump, and called for Australian governments to replicate his pledges of massive corporate tax cuts and of winding back corporate regulation. According to several reports, Bernardi and Rinehart together met with members of Trump’s transition team in December.

Discussions are expected to take place, at some level, during the next several weeks between Bernardi and his backers, and Pauline Hanson’s One Nation.

By Tom Peters in New Zealand:

New Zealand government refuses to condemn Trump’s anti-immigrant bans

7 February 2017

New Zealand prime minister Bill English has repeatedly refused to condemn US President Trump’s ban on people from seven majority-Muslim countries—Syria, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia and Sudan—entering the United States.

Hundreds of thousands of people have protested against the ban in the US and throughout the world, including thousands in New Zealand.

English told Radio NZ that in his first telephone conversation with Trump on Monday he told the president “we don’t agree with the policy, it’s not something we’d put in place.” He described Trump as “warm, civil and very thoughtful”—in an apparent contrast with Trump’s browbeating of Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.

While saying he “disagrees” with Trump’s anti-immigrant measures, English has pointedly refused to call the policy “racist.” Asked by a TVNZ newsreader on January 31 if he would denounce Trump’s actions as “horrifying [and] anti-Islamic,” English replied flatly: “In the end [the US] make decisions about their policy.”

5 thoughts on “Donald Trump, Australia and New Zealand

  1. From Briitain:

    Wednesday 8th February 2017

    posted by Morning Star in Editorial

    CRITICISM by Tory MPs of Commons Speaker John Bercow’s fully accurate comments about Donald Trump centre on allegations of hypocrisy and infringement of political neutrality implicit in his post.

    The Speaker’s duty to be even-handed to British MPs does not extend to taking a vow of silence when he suspects that the historic Westminster Hall could be used as a backdrop for Theresa May’s surrender to Trump’s charms.

    May, who, like many of her MPs, expressed her distaste of Trump earlier, is so keen to ingratiate herself with the US president now that there seems no limit to what she will offer.

    Bercow’s responsibility is to defend House of Commons integrity not to fall silent as May’s fawning ingratiation embarrasses not only her government but all British citizens.

    Tory backbencher Nadhim ZahawI opted for the hypocrisy ploy, noting that the Speaker had invited Chinese President Xi Jinping and the Emir of Kuwait to address MPs. In fact, neither spoke in Westminster Hall, being accommodated in the Royal Gallery.

    The real issue, however, is not what Bercow has done in the past but whether his stand over Trump is justified. This ought to be an open-and-shut question. The vile racism, sexism and Islamophobia the US president espoused during his election campaign, and since, has to be countered openly.

    Those who accuse the Speaker of “playing to the gallery” when an invitation has not yet been issued are feigning naivety.

    Who would doubt that, but for Bercow’s statement, May would have invited the US president in due course to address MPs in Westminster Hall, landing Parliament with a done deal?

    His prompt action has saved the PM from demeaning herself and everyone else in Britain who does not regard our government’s prime duty as polishing the inflated ego of any White House incumbent.


  2. Wednesday 8th February 2017

    posted by Morning Star in Features

    Framing the rejection of Trump’s Muslim ban in mere nationalistic terms is a sad indictment of the bankruptcy of our political elites, argues TOM MUNDAY

    OUTRAGE at US President Donald Trump’s “Muslim ban” came thick and fast almost as soon as it was announced.

    Images of scores of protesters blockading airports, human-rights lawyers sat cross-legged on terminal floors working pro bono against deportations and Muslims and non-Muslims linking arms and standing in solidarity and common humanity.

    It was stirring stuff to be sure; a much-needed reminder that perhaps people aren’t as abjectly terrible as they sometimes seem.

    The assembled punditry was likewise up in arms. The general consensus — even among would-be sympathisers — being that this was, at best, a sledgehammer being taken to a nut, clumsily handled in the extreme and crassly implemented.

    Besides anything else, the lack of clarity had evidently sent those agencies tasked with implementing the ban into a state of meltdown, some appeared willing to risk their livelihoods in the defence of common decency, while other desk-bound Mussolinis actively leapt at the opportunity to finally exercise the full powers invested in them by petty officialdom.

    In particular, the status of dual-nationality citizens from outside of the seven affected countries became a major topic of debate.

    What, they questioned, would become of high-profile, foreign-born, British Muslims? Somali-born national treasure Mo Farah was given particular prominence in such discussions, as was Iraqi-born Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi, who rather awkwardly has two sons enrolled at Princeton University.

    How dare our “special relationship” allies treat high-ranking members of the British cultural firmament with such contempt?

    It was a relief then when Boris Johnson brought word from the US embassy that, mercy of mercies, British nationals would be exempt from the ban.

    Even before anyone could actually get a hold of the embassy itself to confirm the news, (which, it turns out, was false) the talking heads of the British Establishment and media were out in force, prostrating themselves before the magnanimity and benevolence of our wise overlords.

    Thank God, mewled Tim Farron, that “the president has acknowledged that a Brit is a Brit no matter their background…”

    Yes, Tim. Excellent news indeed that a sociopathic tyrant had deigned to recognise the barest minimum that should be expected of a functional human. It didn’t matter that the news was completely bogus of course.

    Here was the line in the sand: yes, be awful to their Muslims — the bad Muslims — but don’t you dare slight our good, our famous Muslims. All hail Theresa May, the people’s unelected technocrat, long may she reign.

    In general, there has been a serious problem with the response to Trump so far from large sections of our political class.

    Yes, self-evidently, he’s a terrible person, not to mention hopelessly incompetent. But to state these facts baldly is to see the “what” and utterly miss the “why.”

    In fact, we don’t even really get that “why” from looking at Trump.

    The Trump phenomenon is far too obtuse to really reveal much subtlety. Where we do get it is precisely in the kind of craven responses against Trump that emanate from those in positions of power.

    The framing, used by our political class, quietly recognises the validity of Trump’s proposal, that their objections to the ban can be quantifiably measured against the degree to which the ban affects us “Brits” — the implication being that if the ban affects “us” less, we should be less bothered by it.

    The problem will be instantly recognisable to anyone who identifies with another “us,” other than “Brit.”

    The terminology sets up the only category worthy of attention as fundamentally nationalistic in nature: “Brits are Brits” first and foremost — nothing else matters!

    The sense that the ban is wrong in and of itself is utterly lost among the cod-patriotic verbiage.

    This proves beyond doubt that the groundwork for Trump was laid well in advance that we cannot even oppose it without talking about it in complimentary terms.

    It’s a sad indictment of political bankruptcy and a paucity of ideas that pass for high principle these days.

    So long have our politicians been suckling at the teat of immigrant-bashing, they appear to have entirely forgotten what it was like to not blame all worldly woes on a funny-sounding “other.”

    Even when they try to defend them, they cannot but stumble into a wholesale erasure of cultural difference and with it reduce Iraqis, Syrians, Iranians, Somalis, Libyans, Sudanese and Yemenis into indeterminate and unimportant collateral.

    The reason for this is simple. Immigration, Muslim or otherwise, is not an issue that much bothers Farron and co, outside of checking poll ratings.

    Those Ukip-ish complaints you hear trotted out time and again — changing neighbourhoods, cultural clashes, unfamiliar languages on the bus, etc — refer to entirely abstract phenomenons as far as they are concerned.

    They never feel the existential need to take a stand.

    When the drunk in the local starts mouthing off about “Muslamics,” they see a voter with “legitimate concerns” who must be appeased. They don’t see a threat to their bodily well-being.

    Instead they feign interest, simulated outrage, all the time calculating how it should intermesh will the hot button issues of the day.

    The net result is an utterly hollow politics, one that never attempts to challenge (or, dare I say it, “lead”) people and instead confirms their every worst gut-bias.

    This vicious cycle, in turn, is what ends up in Trump: constantly confirming to people that they were right to suspect their foreign-looking neighbours; that those neighbours’ identities are unimportant next to the all-encompassing monolith of “Britishness.”

    That constant, unreflected upon repetition of deeply ideologically-loaded concept creates fertile ground for demagogic monsters, no less than the constant repetition from supposedly left/liberal voices that we need to “start talking about immigration.”

    Once again this comes back to an issue of experience and performed concern. To many of those in power, “Britishness” simply isn’t the loaded term it is to those of us lower down the pecking order.

    It’s a uncomplicated thing that can be bandied about with no material consequence, a useful rhetorical flourish.

    Likewise we can “discuss” immigration over and over again to our hearts’ content. The performance is harmless. This is what you see in that response — “a Brit is a Brit” — deployed as though those were completely innocent terms.

    And who is a Brit? Oh, it’s Mo Farah — all he had to do was earn four Olympic golds for that privilege. Oh, it’s Nadhim Zahawi — all he had to do was attend a series of exclusive academic institutions and be a multimillionaire and high-ranking government official. These people became “Brits” by virtue of extraordinary circumstance. Clearly if you want membership and protection of our little club you better be seen to be earning it.

    The Farrons of the world operate with the glib deafness to human commonality as people secure in the knowledge that their “Britishness” would never be questioned.

    It’s not good enough and it never should be. Trump may be the one waiting to push us over but it was these care-free jokers who merrily brought us to the precipice.


  3. Pingback: Australians, Floridians against Trump’s war on Syria | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: Stop Australian anti-refugee cruelty | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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