Protest hijacked by Maoist elements, demands beyond ambit of farm laws: Piyush Goyal


Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal, negotiating with protesting farmers, has said ‘ultra-left and Maoist elements have hijacked the agitation’. Their demands, like asking for release of jailed Maoists, go beyond the farm laws, he added. In an interview to Rakesh Mohan Chaturvedi, the minister emphasised that the government is ready to hold further talks with the protestors on genuine concerns regarding the farm bills but repealing them would not be possible as a majority of farmers, who are not part of protests, benefit from these reforms.

What do you have to say about the demands of the farmers?
The leadership is now totally in the hands of the ultra-Leftists. The Maoists have hijacked the movement. They are the vocal group in the meetings and are not willing to discuss issues but are more interested in disrupting the talks. The nation has to be concerned about the antecedents of some of these farmer leaders. They have changed their list of demands now.

What are their demands other than on the farm laws?
One of their demands is to withdraw all cases against the farmer leaders, intellectuals, lawyers, writers, and human and democratic rights activists. We do not know what they mean. There is nobody of this nature who has been jailed. Who are they trying to hold the brief for? They have gone far beyond the ambit of farming in their demands and their antecedents clearly demonstrate that they have some other priorities, rather than the farmers welfare.

Have they named anybody they want released?

No, they have not named anybody.

Are you saying negotiations have not been conducted in good faith by the other side?

When we see the dominance of the Leftist elements in the negotiations and we see that no reasonable conversations are being held, except their one line demand to repeal the laws, one does get concerned about whether they are really looking at solving the problems or only creating unrest in a certain section of farmers.

There are 35 organisations which have held talks with the government. Do all of them have these leanings?
The more vocal elements seem to be the Leftists and those who have in the past demonstrated their links to Left and Maoist organisations. They are more vocal in the discussions and therefore other leaders are unable to express their opinion.

Earlier there were allegations from the government side that there are Khalistani elements among protestors and now you say Maoists are involved. Is this an attempt to discredit the movement?
No, we have never said that (Khalistani). That is an unfounded allegation. It is on record and a lot of questions are being asked about the antecedents of their leaders which connect them to Left and Maoist organisations.

If this is the context, how do you think this issue can be resolved?
Our farmers can see through the efforts to destabilise the movement and will come back to the discussions. If they have any genuine concerns, we are open to discussions. However, for all the issues that they raised in the meetings so far, we have given concrete proposals addressing all those concerns…

If the Left and Congress were so sure that only one method—that of APMC mandis—can solve all the problems, then why has Kerala not got it? If the farm laws are for their good, why are farmers supporting this protest?
Most of the farmers across the country have welcomed these reforms. The Bharat Bandh was not a success. It is unfortunate that some farmers are being misled and given wrong explanations.

You mean there is a geographical bias in the agitation?
No, it is not so. I would say it is by those farmers who have been misguided. We have given an assurance that the present system of MSP and procurement will continue. The private mandis will be taxed at the same rate as APMC. A level playing field has been brought in… All doors of justice will be open to farmers.

You say it is led by the Left, but your own ally SAD quit NDA. They are not Leftists.
They probably did not understand the laws well. They may have done so (left NDA) due to their political compulsions. You will have to ask them.

Government has said it is ready to give a written assurance on MSP. Is it open to making it a part of law?
Congress was in power for 50 years. The Left was supporting them earlier. Nobody then said it can become a part of law. The procurement going on today is under a law. We are ready to give a written assurance if they want. The Prime Minister and the agriculture minister have given an assurance in Parliament. Our bonafides are very clear on that.





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Mindfulness changed Brad’s life, but the movement has been ‘hijacked’


For years, Brad Moore couldn’t receive a hug from his children without recoiling. And if he tried to put on a tie, he’d break into a sweat.

Initially, it was just a subtle but visceral discomfort. But before long, this feeling became a physical reaction, starting with an itch in his neck that became what felt like a fur ball lodged in his throat, expanding until he could no longer breathe.

This is only one of the symptoms 48-year-old Moore, from Melbourne, has battled for 12 years due to PTSD, which he was eventually diagnosed with in 2018. He’d suffer from panic attacks, claustrophobia, depression and insomnia. He was confused, frightened and says he often felt like he was going to die.

Two years ago, after a particularly distressing panic attack on a plane, he admitted aloud he needed help.

Brad Moore says the practice is not always easy, particularly as COVID-19 continues to linger.

Brad Moore says the practice is not always easy, particularly as COVID-19 continues to linger.Credit:Jason South

He booked to see a psychologist and on his second session, Moore was guided through an exercise: eyes closed and breathing deeply, he was asked to tune into whatever he was feeling, gently accept its presence and understand that this was a passing experience – much like a leaf drifting downstream, until it’s out of sight.

“I can still remember thinking ‘this is bulls–t’. And afterwards I stood up and grabbed [my therapist] and gave him a big hug. It seriously changed my life.” he says.

What Moore didn’t know at the time was that he was being introduced to a type of mindfulness – an ancient practice that has surged in popularity in an era where self-care and wellness are heralded as an antidote to the stresses of modern life. Mindfulness has grown into a $1.2 billion industry in the US alone, and is forecast to reach $2 billion by 2022.

Mindfulness is something many of us have heard about, at some level. Perhaps you’ve been tut-tutted to eat mindfully, parent mindfully or walk mindfully. Maybe you work at one of the many corporations introducing mindfulness programs, or you’ve dabbled in one of the thousands of glossy apps. Maybe you’ve heard top executives tout mindfulness as a pathway to success (“The practice of mindfulness kept me going during the darkest days,” wrote Ford’s executive chairman, Bill Ford, in 2013) or have noticed a growing throng of athletes, from AFL stars to NBA players, taking it on. It could even be through the shiny celebrities like Oprah Winfrey or Arianna Huffington gushing over its benefits, or the Instagram influencers perched atop a mountain preaching “gratitude” at a mindfulness retreat.

With the term coming at us from so many different angles, it is easy to wave it off as a buzzword. Like healing crystals and celery juice, it is viewed by some as just another woo-woo gimmick for the inner-city wealthy.

But peel back the sheen of zen yogis and lotus positions, you’ll find a rapidly growing library of scientific literature on mindfulness. While in the ‘90s there were roughly 20 new studies published each year, 2019 alone saw almost 1500 new journal articles published, many coming from the world’s top universities.

You learn it’s OK to be a human being having a human moment.

Dr Craig Hassed

A whole suite of potential benefits has been found, from managing mental health issues, curbing addictive behaviours, reducing stress, improving attention, offsetting age-related cognitive decline and increasing compassion.

It’s why, as the world wades through the COVID-19 pandemic, mindfulness has been raised as a way of managing mental wellbeing.

Dr Craig Hassed is a leader of Australia’s mindfulness movement and says the number of sign-ups to his Monash University eight-week course has more than doubled due to coronavirus.

So what exactly is mindfulness?

Mindfulness has its origins mainly in Buddhism, but when it was brought to the west by the likes of Jon Kabat-Zinn, the movement was secularised. While a medley of sometimes abstract words are used to describe the practice, Kabat-Zinn outlines it as an awareness that arises from paying attention to the present moment in a non-judgmental way.

Hassed adds it involves attitudes of acceptance and compassion, and helps teach that every experience is temporary, meaning there’s no need to crave or dwell.

Hassed explains that mindfulness involves a formal practice, which is the act of meditation and what he likens to the “gym training”, and an informal practice, which involves being mindful in day-to-day life, whether truly listening to someone speaking to you or carefully tasting your food when chewing.

“If a person practises mindfulness they become more aware of how much ruminating they’re doing or how their body is tense… then you practise acceptance,” he says.

“There’s a gentleness with which the person notices it, it’s not about making it all go away, it’s about being OK with it all being there without fixating on it… You learn it’s OK to be a human being having a human moment.”

A wellness ‘hijacking’

There are several thorns in the side of the new darling of wellness, the first being the definition.

“No one has agreed upon a definition for it because there are countless lineages of mindfulness and because in the end it’s also describing something that is kind of beyond words,” says clinical psychologist Dr Richard Chambers.

University of Melbourne psychologist Dr Nicholas Van Dam says the ambiguity is a problem because it allows mindfulness to be applied to anything or monetised by anyone, like actor Russell Crowe with his colouring book or model Megan Gale with her skincare range.

The mindfulness that gets most disseminated is the Gwyneth Paltrow version of it.

Dr Nicholas Van Dam

He says mindfulness is also often wrongly lumped together by inexperienced instructors or superficial apps with notions of relaxation, gratitude or positive thinking.

“It’s not like mindfulness will make your pain go away. It will help you become more comfortable with the presence of pain,” Van Dam says.

The area’s two most researched interventions are mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and stress reduction, but Van Dam says watered-down programs are “inappropriately leaning on the same scientific evidence” so there is a mismatch between a user’s expectations and actual experience.

The second issue, he says, is that while there are thousands of years of direct experience of mindfulness’ benefits – including his own – the science examining its effects is still new.

Van Dam was lead author on a 2018 paper called Mind The Hype, and he calls for caution around over-enthusiasm for current research, which sometimes relies on self-reporting.

Van Dam believes that these two factors have led to mindfulness being “hijacked”.

“The mindfulness that gets most disseminated is the Gwyneth Paltrow version of it, the ‘look inside yourself’ version… or ‘if you just do five minutes a day, you’ll be happier’,” Van Dam says.

“There are a lot of people attaching mindfulness to anything and everything. It’s become a wellness buzzword.”

This diluted, trendy version of mindfulness is creating a PR problem for authentic mindfulness. Van Dam says it risks putting people off and blocking exposure to a beneficial practice.

“People are sick of hearing about it,” he says. “So something that could help people may end up getting shoved aside.”

San Francisco State University professor of management Ronald Purser has written a book about the “McMindfulness” phenomenon, which describes the commodification of mindfulness.

Purser says there is “widespread confusion” about what mindfulness is and believes it has been used as a quick fix for the anxieties of capitalism.

“It signals a false diagnosis by claiming that stress is all inside our own heads and simply a problem with our lifestyle. Then we are sold back a trendy remedy,” he says. “Anyone can hang out a shingle and claim to be a mindfulness teacher.”

Hassed has mixed feelings. “For someone who has been working in this area for 32 years … it’s wonderful to see the level of interest in mindfulness.”

But he takes issue with people using mindfulness as a money-making opportunity or with businesses that might use it as a tool to “extract more out of their workforce” and over addressing poor workplace culture.

And, warns Van Dam, mindfulness won’t work for everyone, including some with serious mental health issues. A recent review found about one in 12 people who try meditation experience adverse effects.

‘A weight off my shoulders’

Hassed believes it’s important to note many individuals have seen positive change from practising mindfulness.

People like Moore, who “literally felt a weight come off my shoulders”.

An ambassador for Soldier On, Moore joined the army when he was 17 and suffered several training accidents before he left six years later when deemed too injured to go to war. In his stint as a truck driver, before joining the oil industry, he also endured harrowing experiences. The incidents left him tormented by PTSD daily.

Now, thanks to mindfulness, he says his sleep has improved and he hasn’t had a full-blown panic attack in months – something he considers a true victory during the pandemic.

“And now, one of the best things ever, is that I can hug my kids and feel what a hug should be, I can feel the warmth.”

Moore says he practises mindfulness throughout his daily activities and meditates a few mornings a week for about 30 minutes in his backyard. He says while it isn’t always easy – particularly as COVID-19 drags on – it helps him identify stress-related sensations early, and it has brought other, positive, emotions out of him.

“It’s made me more aware of my overall emotions, which ultimately makes me happier. You just let things go rather than holding onto things.”

And now, one of the best things ever, is that I can hug my kids and feel what a hug should be, I can feel the warmth.

Brad Moore

Evie Ferris, a 23-year-old dancer with The Australian Ballet in Melbourne, began daily mindfulness meditation five years ago and says it has helped her manage stress and remain focused rather than dwell on perceived mistakes.

“Especially as a ballet dancer, there is always perfectionism and wanting to be better and consistently improve. It’s helped me overcome a lot of self-doubt.”

Australian Ballet dancer Evie Ferris has found solace in her mindfulness practice.

Australian Ballet dancer Evie Ferris has found solace in her mindfulness practice.Credit:Justin Ridler

Mindfulness has been important to her family life too, having helped her work through any fears for her younger brother, who has a rare genetic disability.

“It’s now fed its way into whatever I’m doing, walking home I’ll notice all of the trees, or what the wind is feeling like.”

Understanding the ‘default mode’

Neuroscientist Dr Neil Bailey, of the Epworth Centre for Innovation in Mental Health, says mindfulness can change the way our brains are wired. One way is by reducing activity in the brain’s “default mode” network, which typically causes ruminating or cycling through negative thoughts. Instead, the attentional network becomes more prominent.

“When two neurons are activated together often, our brains have mechanisms that strengthen those connections,” he says.

“If you’re engaging in negative self-talk, the connections underlying that will strengthen. In contrast if you’re engaging in attention to your thoughts and awareness they’re temporary, then you’re paying them no heed and allowing other connections to engage.”

An image from Shannon Harvey's documentary film, 'My Year Of Living Mindfully'.

An image from Shannon Harvey’s documentary film, ‘My Year Of Living Mindfully’.

This has been Sydney filmmaker Shannon Harvey’s experience, who says she felt she escaped her default mode and felt “true inner peace” when she went on a 10-day silent retreat in 2018 (the term “marathon” is probably more accurate than “retreat”, she says).

Harvey has this year created a documentary and book titled My Year Of Living Mindfully, tracking her journey into the world of mindfulness to help her manage chronic pain caused by her auto-immune disease, Sjogren’s syndrome.

She says she quickly learnt that mindfulness is not about relaxation or finding happiness, but about mental training – a discovery that she feels suggests mindfulness needs a “modern day rebrand”.

She began by using apps before signing up for an eight-week course, and found a huge difference to her mental clarity in going from meditating 20 minutes a day to 45 minutes, which she continues to do daily.

“The practice of sitting with my chronic pain for 45 minutes was where the transformation happened for me… I was learning how to suffer.”

The need for clarity

Harvey, who calls for more practical conversations about mental health, had hoped to find the mental equivalent of a 30-minute jog around the block but was disappointed to find no clear recommendations.

Bailey says there is a severe lack of research into how much meditation should be practised to see benefits.

“With antidepressants we know what a minimum effective dose is,” Bailey says.

“For me that’s one of the biggest issues. We’re saying meditate, and we don’t even know how much.

The practice of sitting with my chronic pain for 45 minutes was where the transformation happened for me … I was learning how to suffer.

Shannon Harvey

“At the moment we’re collapsing all the research into reporting things like ‘mindfulness improves cognitive function and depressive symptoms’, but I think what we’ll find is with different lengths of time, different amounts of practice per day, different types of practices, even different conditions, people will react differently.”

Van Dam agrees that this is the big question facing his field: who can benefit and how?

“We need to spend more energy, time and money figuring out for which individuals a given practice will be beneficial,” he says.

Until it’s more understood, Van Dam says it shouldn’t be broadly painted as essential in the same way diet and exercise is.

Exploring mindfulness during COVID-19

Van Dam says mindfulness meditation can be very helpful right now, as it is “good for managing uncertainty”, but he emphasises the variations between teachers, apps and courses.

“My suggestion is before downloading any kind of program, do a bit of research. Ask yourself what do you want to get out of it and how much do you want to commit to it, the research will pay off.”

He also urges people to throw out any simplified notions of what mindfulness is.

“It’s not always pleasant, it’s not blissful,” he says. “It doesn’t get communicated that it’s actually difficult.”

Hassed echoes this: “It feels uncomfortable to notice stress before you learn to work with it. It’s part of the process, like your muscles aching when you get back to exercise.”

Melbourne mindfulness teacher Dr Chris Walsh says if you’re going to try using an app first, be wary of the “bad apps”. He recommends Headspace, Smiling Mind or Buddhify.

It doesn’t get communicated that it’s actually difficult.

Dr Nicholas Van Dam

“If an app is telling you what you should be feeling and giving you a long elaborate visualisation, that’s not mindfulness. If an app is telling you to relax, give it the sack,” Walsh says.

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He encourages his clients to practise daily to form the habit. “After six weeks they should start to notice significant differences,” he says. “They’re handling difficult interactions much better, or start to spontaneously notice good things in the environment around them.”

For some, Chambers says, starting with an app could eventually open up “a rabbit hole”.

“[You might later think], ‘what if I went and did a course? What if I did a retreat? Where would that take me?’ If it makes your life better, why not?”

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Twitter reveals how Bitcoin scammers hijacked celebrities’ accounts | Science & Tech News


Twitter has revealed how accounts belonging to celebrities including Barack Obama, Jeff Bezos and Kim Kardashian were hijacked by Bitcoin scammers two weeks ago.

At the time the company confirmed that a “co-ordinated social engineering attack” had allowed criminals to post tweets from celebs’ accounts offering to send $2,000 for every $1,000 sent to a Bitcoin address.

The company has now confirmed that 130 accounts were targeted by the criminals, with 45 being used to send tweets. The criminals also accessed the DM inboxes of 36 users and downloaded the Twitter data of seven.

Image:
Celebs’ accounts on Twitter were hijacked by Bitcoin scammers

Now the company has provided details about the social engineering attack – a way of describing a security breach based on convincing someone to provide access, rather than finding flaws in the software.

Twitter said it “targeted a small number of employees” who were called over the phone and tricked into providing their log-in credentials.

“A successful attack required the attackers to obtain access to both our internal network as well as specific employee credentials that granted them access to our internal support tools,” the company said.

“Not all of the employees that were initially targeted had permissions to use account management tools, but the attackers used their credentials to access our internal systems and gain information about our processes.

“This knowledge then enabled them to target additional employees who did have access to our account support tools,” the company explained.

The Bitcoin scam posted from the 45 affected accounts appears to have earned the criminals about £95,000 after around 400 payments were sent to three addresses.

However, that would not have been the best way to monetise the criminals’ access to the platform, suggesting the hackers were either very inexperienced or that the Bitcoin scam was a distraction from the account data which they truly wanted to steal.

Barack Obama was one of the famous people to have their Twitter account hacked
Image:
Barack Obama’s account was impacted

“Since the attack, we’ve significantly limited access to our internal tools and systems to ensure ongoing account security while we complete our investigation,” said Twitter.

“We’re sorry for any delays this causes, but we believe it’s a necessary precaution as we make durable changes to our processes and tooling as a result of this incident.”

The company said it would provide a more detailed technical report on the incident at a later date, but was unable to do so immediately due to the “ongoing law enforcement investigation”.



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AG Barr: Violent rioters and anarchists have hijacked legitimate protests to wreak havoc


Attorney General William Barr testifies during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the oversight of the Department of Justice on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, July 28, 2020 in Washington. (Chip Somodevilla/Pool via AP)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 11:29 AM PT — Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Attorney General William Barr said violent rioters and anarchists have hijacked legitimate protests to wreak havoc on innocent victims in the wake of George Floyd’s death. He made the statement during testimony before the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday.

Barr also called the riots in Portland an “assault on the the government of the United States.” The attorney general said members of the panel should condemn violence against federal officers and property.

Barr then took aim against people calling to defund law enforcement.

“Unfortunately, some have chosen to respond to George Floyd’s death in a far less productive way by demonizing the police, promoting slogans like ‘all cops are bastard’ and making grossly irresponsible proposals to defund the police,” he stated. The demonization of the police is not only unfair and inconsistent with principles of all people should be treated as individuals, but gravely injurious to inner city communities.”

Barr also noted that police forces today are more diverse than ever before and said instances of unarmed black men being killed by police are “quite rare.”

RELATED:Portland groups file lawsuit against Trump admin.





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UK Black Lives Matter protests ‘hijacked by extremists’, Boris Johnson says



British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that anti-racism protests in the United Kingdom have been “hijacked by extremists” who were attacking national monuments in an effort to “censor our past”.

“It is clear that the protests have been sadly hijacked by extremists intent on violence,” Mr Johnson said in a statement issued on Twitter.

Police have boarded up prominent statues around London ahead of a new wave of demonstrations and rallies this weekend.

A famous statue of Winston Churchill outside parliament was defaced last weekend during “Black Lives Matter” rallies sparked by George Floyd’s death during a police arrest in Minnesota on 25 May.

Mr Johnson called the targeting of the former leader “absurd and shameful”.

“The statue of Winston Churchill in Parliament Square is a permanent reminder of his achievement in saving this country – and the whole of Europe – from a fascist and racist tyranny,” said Mr Johnson, who lists the war-time leader as one of his personal heroes.

“Yes, he sometimes expressed opinions that were and are unacceptable to us today, but he was a hero, and he fully deserves his memorial.”

Protesters blame Mr Churchill for policies that led to the death of millions during famine in the Indian state of Bengal in 1943.

“We cannot now try to edit or censor our past. We cannot pretend to have a different history,” Mr Johnson said.

“The statues in our cities and towns were put up by previous generations.”





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From ‘golden age’ to recession, how the coronavirus hijacked Tasmania’s grand recovery


For a Premier and Treasurer who prides himself on fiscal management, pre-coronavirus Tasmania was looking pretty good.

Peter Gutwein has been holding the state’s purse strings since 2014 and there’s little doubt he was proud of his own performance, even telling Tasmanians “we are on the cusp of a golden age” in 2018.

CommSec’s most recent State of the States report ranked Tasmania as the equal-best-performing economy in the country, with its unemployment rate, in trend terms, the lowest it had been in 10 and a half years.

It was a marked shift from Mr Gutwein’s first couple of years as Treasurer, when Tasmania had the unwelcome title of worst-performing economy, between 2014 and 2016.

The year’s preceding that, under the former government, were certainly no better — economist Saul Eslake concluded Tasmania was in recession in 2012-13, with the unemployment rate around eight per cent in mid-to-late 2013.

Treasury predictions are for an unemployment rate of 12.23 per cent by the middle of year, a figure not seen since the early 1990s.(AAP: James Gourley)

Of course, a growing population and booming property market did not mean all Tasmanians were living comfortably pre-coronavirus.

But Mr Gutwein went into this crisis at least looking like he knew what he was doing with the state’s coffers. And public reaction to his handling of the coronavirus health crisis has been positive.

But how long that will last remains to be seen.

The health crisis is being replaced by a financial one, and the dreaded R-word — recession — is on the horizon.

Treasury predictions are for an unemployment rate of 12.23 per cent by the middle of year, a figure not seen since the early 1990s.

Opposition parties don’t get much of a look-in during a crisis: it’s unbecoming to throw stones during states of emergency. But with the public health emergency easing, Labor and the Greens have started to fire up again.

The Government’s daily coronavirus briefings, which were livestreamed to thousands of Tasmanians and offered Mr Gutwein a solid soapbox for the past two months, are no longer so pertinent and are being reduced.

So, how does a government whose strongest selling point has been the economy, weather an economic crisis?

Five years until budget recovery: expert

University of Tasmania budget policy analyst Richard Eccleston said there was a risk that once again, Tasmania might take longer than other states and territories.

“The sectors of the economy that have been very hard-hit are tourism and hospitality, and they are sectors that have been very important for Tasmania’s economic success in recent years,” he said.

Professor Eccleston said every recession was different, but it was likely to be a five-year process for the State Government of funding support, then stimulus, before the budget was getting back towards balance.

Mr Gutwein plans to quite literally build his way out of the crisis, by bringing forward infrastructure projects.

While the Premier hasn’t decided what those will be yet, he’s mentioned projects “like affordable houses, maintenance on schools and Government buildings, regional roads, bridges and dams”.

Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein listens as Dr Mark Veitch speaks at coronavirus briefing.
Peter Gutwein has been adamant that decisions are made on public health advice.(ABC News: Mitchell Woolnough)

Professor Eccleston said stimulus spending on projects would be important over the next six to 12 months but it needed to be focused on labour-intensive areas and infrastructure that capitalised on emerging trends.

“So, rather than perhaps focusing on roads and traditional capital projects, perhaps the focus this time around might be in terms of something like renewables infrastructure,” he said.

Others have called for investment to be targeted towards health, for both social and economic reasons.

Former state Labor minister Julian Amos said the Premier’s plan to build the state out of the economic crisis was sensible, with the private sector needing confidence.

But he said questions needed to be asked about which projects were actually “shovel-ready”.

“And will he give a guarantee that the tenders for these projects will be given to local tenderers, and not to interstate and overseas companies,” he said.

Mr Amos said this government’s track record was one of not being able to spend what it had allocated to capital works.

“And one suspects that’s because they’re not able to get the projects out the door, in other words they’re not shovel-ready, they haven’t done all the work necessary to get them up and running.”

Tough political decisions ahead

Unlike other financial crises, it would be difficult to lay blame directly with governments for this one.

Professor Eccleston said that would likely determine whether the Tasmanian Government’s popularity suffered.

“I don’t think the Government can be accused of being a cause of the crisis, and opinion polls suggest the community is supportive of the response,” he said.

“But there will be, maybe 12 months down the track or in the lead-up to the next state election, tough decisions that need to be made around whether the tax system is going to be reformed, whether taxes and charges are going to be increased or where savings need to be made.”

Professor Eccleston said there was a risk that grim long-term unemployment rates could rub off on the Government, whether or not it was their fault.

“But it’s also about momentum, so the critical thing is perhaps not be so much the level of unemployment, but whether that unemployment is declining.”

This government’s term expires in March 2022, but an election could be called any time before then, with the Governor’s agreement.

Early elections and snap elections are sometimes used by leaders perceived not to have their own mandate — for example, Julia Gillard in 2010, who had won the prime ministership from Kevin Rudd without an election — or by governments who fear their popularity is going to run out.

Professor Eccleston said he expected the state government would run its full term, regardless of the state of the economy.

“Increasingly, I think voters are sceptical about governments that cut the parliamentary term short without a clear reason for doing that, in terms of losing the confidence of parliament or something.

That doesn’t mean times won’t get tough for the Premier.

“If we look back at the political fallout of recessions and these types of crises, it’s often that 12 months after the onset of the crisis when the politics becomes more challenging and governments need to make difficult choices and trade-offs about winding back emergency support measures and stimulus measures,” Professor Eccleston said.

“When do they have to think about increasing taxes or cutting other services so that they can have that medium-term goal of putting the budget onto a sustainable footing?”

Mr Amos said the impact of the crisis on the popularity of the government would also depend largely on how the easing of restrictions was managed.

“I think the Government, and the Premier in particular, has got a lot of public support for his actions and his approach up until now, so that even though there’s a lot of pain out there, people recognise the need for it.”

He said as long as the Government wasn’t too slow or inconsistent in its approach to rolling back constraints, Tasmanians were unlikely to lose patience.

In Tasmania at least, it’s a common refrain that bureaucrats will always urge caution.

Throughout the pandemic, and in regards to the rollback of restrictions, the Premier’s consistent messaging has been that decisions are made on public health advice.

Mr Amos said that was appropriate for public health, but when it came to the economy, Tasmania needed a less cautious attitude from its leaders: “And we need to take some risks to ensure it doesn’t fall over”.

He also expected the Government to lead until its term ran out.

“I think these are exceptional circumstances and everybody recognises that actions have needed to be taken that are beyond the bounds of any mandate sought and gained at the last election.

“However, the Government has to be careful that it manages itself in a democratic and open manner to ensure people’s trust remains with it.”



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