Friday 30 November 2007

Is Australia now seeing the return of a genuinely secular federal government?

After almost eleven years of a Howard Government which pandered to fundamentalist religious  elements in Australian society for its own political purposes, there is now a glimmer of hope that a more balanced approach to social and economic policy may be at hand.
"KEVIN Rudd makes no secret of his religious beliefs, but as prime minister he says he'll take advice from public servants, not God.
The committed Christian says he is not praying for guidance on how to run the country.
Mr Rudd said he would keep religion and politics separate.
"I go to church on Sunday like millions of other Australians, and I am always conscious in the business of politics of what I don't know, and therefore the need to seek advice," Mr Rudd told Southern Cross Broadcasting in Melbourne.
"That's usually obtained, however, from well-crafted reports from public service advisers." today:
There are many who will be more than relieved if Kevin Rudd is seen to keep his word on this matter. Meanwhile, careful vigilance with regard to this new government is the order of the day in my household.

Climate Change predicted to set 'diabolical' policy challenges for Rudd Government

Something I guess we all expected. The road ahead will not be easy and a hostile and bitter Coalition-dominated Senate for the next seven months will likely make matters even harder.
"CLIMATE change is already more advanced than the world realises, and tackling it will present "diabolical" policy challenges, says the head of Labor's climate change review, Professor Ross Garnaut.
In his first speech since starting his policy review for state governments and Prime Minister-elect Kevin Rudd, Professor Garnaut indicated that he would recommend a stronger framework to secure rapid cuts in greenhouse gas emissions than that proposed by the Howard government.
He implied that emissions trading could start as soon as 2010, suggested there was a strong case for high carbon prices from the outset to drive change, and opposed free permits to existing polluters, as the Howard government envisaged.
An internationally known economist who has been adviser to former prime minister Bob Hawke, Australian ambassador to China and head of the Hawke government's tariff review, Professor Garnaut said he was confident that global warming could be brought under control without derailing global growth."
The Age full article today:

NSW North Coast MP becomes Minister for Aging in new Rudd Government

Justine Elliot the Labor MP for Richmond became the new Minister for Aging yesterday when Kevin Rudd announced the makeup of his ministry.
Well done, Justine. I wish you well with this portfolio which is of special interest to us on what is often affectionately called the 'retirement coast'.
All the former Howard Government ever offered a North Coast MP was the consolation prize of Deputy Speaker of the House of Reps and precious little the incumbent did with that position.

Crikey puts the boot into "The Australian"

At yesterday. A not so subtle dig at the national newspaper which the blogosphere dubbed 'The Government Gazette' during the Howard era.

Libs still baulk over the 'sorry' word

His term as Leader of the Liberal Party not even 24 hours old and Brendan Nelson has been on national television refusing to support any formal Federal Government apology to the indigenous 'stolen generation'.
It seems this political party will never learn.
The Liberals will be privately close to apoplexy when they realise that the largest successful Native Title claim in New South Wales has just come into being on the North Coast and in the north-west of the state.
Congratulations to the Githabul people.

Thursday 29 November 2007

Enter Brendan Nelson (dodging daggers)

Well it's official. Brendan Nelson has been given the poison chalice as initial Leader of the Liberal Party in the 2007-2010 Federal Opposition.
He will have to be quick on his feet as both Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbot will be swift to capitalise on his mistakes. With Nelson's history there are bound to be a few of those.
I give Nelson about ten months in the job at most before he is successfully ousted by one of his 'loyal' compatriots.

Once they recover from Saturday's face slap the Coalition is bound to fight IR rollback

The media is making much of current Coalition internal dissent over its possible post-election stance on the Rudd Government's intention to change WorkChoices legislation.
However, I am sceptical that any softened attitude to this industrial relations change will survive the first few weeks of the new parliament sitting. 
The bulk of Liberal and Nationals political donations come from businesses and industries which have been able to make hay under WorkChoices. Given the recent decline in campaign funding received by these two parties, I doubt that they will do more than pay lipservice to the mandate received by Federal Labor on any IR rollback because both Libs and Nats need to recover financially before federal election 2010.
As it appears that quite a few Coalition MPs may be considering retirement halfway through their present term of office and might look to big business to provide them with a lucrative second career, I also cannot see them deciding to bite the hands they hope will feed them in the future.
When it comes to the Coalition's response to Rudd's foreshadowed industrial relations changes, it's likely to be a case of right-wing leopards and spots.

John Howard, the Grunge who stole Christmas

Due to John Howard's stubborn insistence on a late six-week election campaign, up to 500 ministerial staffers will lose their jobs just a month out from Christmas.
You really were a piece of work, John!

"Opps! I accidentally took that Sidney Nolan sketch", said departing MP

The Secretary of the Department of Parliamentary Services at her most diplomatic.
"Ms Penfold said many offices in the sprawling Parliament house were hung with significant artworks belonging to the national collection and on loan to MPs to decorate offices.
Pictures could also be inadvertently taken in the clean-up, she told local radio."

Wednesday 28 November 2007

The only Nat I know who would try to milk a bull

In The Age on Monday the Nationals were casting about for issues to raise and casting doubt generally.

"Senator Joyce also raised concern about the future of rural issues under Labor, questioning whether any Labor frontbenchers had a country background."
Come on, Barnaby. Time for a reality check. The National Party is now littered of business men who wouldn't have any idea of what it was like to farm the land.
Take your recently unsuccessful candidate Chris Gulaptis. About the only time he steps on rural land is to survey it for subdivision into urban lots.

Looks like the Nationals are running up the white flag

In the aftermath of its crushing loss in Saturday's election it's good to see some members of the Coalition have a bit of a sense of humour. How else could the suggestion that Luke Hartsuyker, the National Party member who is struggling to retain the seat of Cowper, nominates for the position of deputy leader of the Nats be viewed?

What's that? You don't believe such a ludicrous proposition could be aired in public because it would frighten the horses, cattle and little children?

See the publication of this very idea for yourself at

Google Trends begins to chart Howard's exit from world stage

The red line in this graph represents global Google searches for Kevin Rudd and the other represents searches for John Howard.

For the first time since Google Trends began, John Howard has lost dominance in these comparative search term trends for Australian political identities.

Google Trends:

Business sector decides it's now time to worry about The Greens?

Inside Retailing shows post-election ambivalence towards John Howard, is cautious of Kevin Rudd, and worries that its once favourite political party the Liberals may now be locked out of government by The Greens.
Another amusing moment this week.
"The boot is now on the other foot with no viable parties on the right to weigh in with preferences for coalition candidates but with the Greens, on the left, electing Labor candidates with their preferences.
It is dangerous to predict too far ahead in politics as there are always twists and turns but the Greens ascendancy, an ageing party support base and business and industry leaders less partisan in their political charity all make the road ahead for the Liberals a steep climb."
Inside Retailing Online yesterday:

The Greens have earned their bragging rights

"THE Greens have declared themselves Australia's third-largest political party claiming to have out-performed the Nationals by a "country mile".
The party says it attracted nearly 1.1 million (9.02 per cent) senate votes at Saturday's federal election compared with less than 6 per cent for the Nationals.
The Greens have certainly earned bragging rights after election night, and as a number of new Labor MPs in the House of Representatives gained their seats on the back of Green preferences, the incoming Rudd Government will ignore this party at its own future electoral peril.
WorkChoices may have been a principal concern of the Australian electorate last Saturday, but worry and alarm over climate change ran a very close second.
Technical aspects of ratifying the Kyoto Protocol are going to take some time to organise, so Federal Labor needs to hit the ground running with regard to domestic climate change mitigation measures.
The Rudd Government also needs to urgently consider facing down Monsanto acolytes in the agricultural sector and working towards a national permanent ban on genetically modified crops. In the meantime supporting state governments who have moratoriums on these crops and bringing Victoria back into line on this issue should be a priority. 
The Age on Monday:

Brand new Opposition begins its early whiteant campaign

It didn't take that NSW North Coast Nats more than a matter of hours to decide that the reason they lost Page and Richmond at Saturday's federal election was not the calibre of Nationals candidates or the party's history in government. No, it was because the election was run as a 'presidential' campaign which personally pitted each Nats candidate against the Labor candidate Kevin Rudd. 
A rumour is now spreading that the Rudd Government intends to raise the GST to 15% as soon as possible. Give you one guess as to the source. Twitter and bisted little losers aren't they?

Tuesday 27 November 2007

It wasn't just the Libs, Nats and Democrats who failed at this federal election - the Christian Democratic Party bombed also

Gordon Moyes analysis yesterday of the Christian Democratic Party's failure to gain ground on 24 November 2007.
"We have moved too far to the right in conservative terms. We have become an extremist group.-----
We appear to be obscurantist and unthinking people as well as being unchristian. Christian leaders have almost without exception rejected us.-----
Our founder, Rev Fred Nile, is 75 and has outlived most of his strongest supporters. No political party anywhere still has a leader of that age.-----
We must be ruthlessly honest about the reasons for our losses instead of banning post election analysis or covering it with spin and gloss."
Gordon Moyes editorial:
It seems that some in this faith-based party are finally willing to squarely face the mirror, but will it really change for the better?

The West Australian thinks it knew something about Page

This was in The West Australian on Sunday.
"Nationals candidate Chris Gulaptis' vote collapsed as Labor's Janelle Saffin captured a swing of 9.31 per cent. The seat is still in doubt today and a recount is likely."
Seems rather a strange view of the situation as voters in Page are under the impression that Gulaptis conceded defeat on election night. Could it be that Chris still has some enthusiastic relatives left in WA who were giving out with an overly optimistic view of his chances or did he briefly flirt with the idea of trying to recant his acceptance of defeat?

Spare a thought for voter fatigue in Queensland this week

Yesterday the Australian Electoral Commission announced that the promised plebiscites on council amalgamations will begin in 85 local government areas across Queensland this week.
Thankfully the approximately 700,000 eligible people on the electoral roll will all receive ballot papers by mail.
Closing time for return of these postal votes is 2pm Friday 7 December for Caboolture, Caloundra, Gold Coast, Noosa, Pine Rivers and Redcliffe Councils.  The closing time for the other 79 Councils is 2pm on Friday 14 December 2007. 
Voting in these plebiscites is not compulsory, so I'm wondering if voter fatigue will cause a large number of Queenslanders to ignore this ballot now that John Howard is no longer around to gee them on.
The Federal Coalition is in such disarray that I don't think it has even noticed that this vote is underway. The plebiscites have all but lost their wedge factor anyway. 

Did my ears deceive me?

Did I really heard Tony Abbott last night telling the world that he would make a great Liberal Party leader because he had relatively good people skills?
And did I also catch the sound of a business group spokesperson calmly opining that the Howard Government had actually been too right-wing?
I know I witnessed the cock crowing thrice as a number of Coalition members sought to deny policy which they had previously said was set in stone and vital for the future of Australia.
Ah, strange fruit is beginning to grow in the orchards of those who had thought the former Howard Government electorally invincible.

Monday 26 November 2007

Drop the hanky

It's not so much a matter of simply asking who will be the new head honcho of lurks, perks and jerks in the dishevelled Liberal Party (of course, most of those needy, greedy buggers really require the public funding associated with their positions of public office because they're obviously down to their last bits of folding money), but rather how many of the sore losers now find that being in Opposition is simply too much of a burden.

Naturally enough, "family" now comes first, so rather than occupy the benches to the left of the Speaker, there'll be a rush to the exit doors because all of a sudden Family First is the flavour of the day.

How strange! Their altruism with respect to the public interest and the concept of the 'common good' was only applicable when they were in office.

Real democracy demands the government of the day is challenged by an opposition that is capable of being a genuinely viable alternative. The Lib AND Nat MPs who'll decamp as quick as a wink will say it all. Their commitment was self-centred.

Now, for something totally radical ... could all members of the Coalition who have no intentions of going the full distance to the next federal election on the Opposition benches please raise their hands right now.

Let's set one day aside in the New Year for all the by-elections. That'll assist the AEC - it can conduct all the fill-in-the-spots on one day. The savings in advertising and administrative costs will fund a new hospital.

Unfortunately, April Fools Day doesn't fall on a Saturday in 2008.

How the newspapers saw North Coast election victory: Labor landslide hits Richmond and Page

In The Daily Examiner today "Shellshocked Gulaptis camp closes ranks":
"Down the road, in the Nationals camp, a little before 7pm and with barely one per cent of the vote counted, Page Nationals campaign director Murray Lees leaned towards Mr. Gulaptis and advised 'we're in trouble'.
Standing in his Lismore campaign office, surrounded by about 20 volunteers and party faithful, Mr. Chris Gulaptis still had some reason to hope Ms Saffin's early lead might be reversed, but it was a bad start.
"It's going to be tight", Mr. Gulaptis said.
Half an hour later, and with two per cent of the votes in, the tears streaming from wife Vicki Gulaptis' eyes said it all...Mr. Gulaptis and his campaign party watched in horror as polling booth after polling booth were lost to Labor."
In The Northern Star today:
"THERE were scenes of jubilation at the headquarters of Richmond MP Justine Elliot on Saturday night as Labor recorded a landslide victory at the polls.
Ms Elliot, who retained her seat, put on beer and pizza at low-key celebrations at her South Tweed campaign office as polls started emerging in her favour. Labor supporters had spent much of the evening quietly dissecting the televised election coverage.
However, the subdued celebrations soon turned rowdy as news of Labor's decisive win filtered through the crowd.
Supporters erupted in spontaneous applause and cheers when Labor officially declared victory about 8."
The Northern Star articles on Richmond and Page today:
"The Nationals once held all five coastal seats in NSW north of Newcastle, but now hold only two. In the northern NSW seat of Page, where the Nationals MP, Ian Causley, had retired, the former upper house Labor MP, Janelle Saffin, won with a swing of more than 8 per cent.
"People here had been expressing their desire for change throughout the election," she said. "From what I saw, the Nationals had really lost touch. We see ourselves as a rural area. But the Nationals just weren't having the conversation that the people wanted: on the cost of living, on Work Choices, health and education."
The Sydney Morning Herald article yesterday:

Brendan Nelson tipped for leadership? Heaven help the Coalition!

"FORMER defence minister Brendan Nelson is being tipped by Liberal Party insiders as the next leader of the opposition, one of Australia's biggest bookmakers says.
Neil Evans, analyst and media chief with Centrebet, said he had today been told by "a well placed and reliable Liberal party source" that Mr Nelson would be asked to take on the leadership."
Herald Sun report yesterday:
This is the same politician who has made such a botch of being Minister for Defence. Is nobody in the Liberal Party remembering the various blunders this man has overseen? Multinational defence contractors appear to see this minister coming from a mile off. Surely this says something about Nelson's judgement or lack thereof.

Sad to see you leave, come back soon

In the midst of celebrations over the demise of the Howard Government I'm a little sad to see the Australian Democrats on their way out the political backdoor.
It was always hard to keep faith with this party once Meg Lees had betrayed us all over the GST, but Natasha Stott-Despoja was worth hanging in there for, and her previously announced retirement meant that the Democrats has little left to offer during this last federal election campaign.

Howard's media cheer leaders change their tune now there's a new boy going to The Lodge

Yes, a week is definitely a long time in politics and for some journalists one special day can change their tune completely.
It's all Howard's fault and "Work Choices was his fatal obsession and climate change his historic oversight." cries Glenn Milne. Then he goes on to lament that "Lazarus with a triple bypass" has reached from just beyond the point of political extinction to achieve his ultimate personal aim; denying Peter Costello his chance to lead the Liberal Party.
There is only one conclusion here; Howard has likely incinerated two generations of Liberal leadership on the bonfire of his own vanity. The most accurate statement the outgoing prime minister made in his concession speech on Saturday night was that he "owed the Liberal Party more than the Liberal Party owed him".
The Australian Milne articles yesterday:
Piers Akerman pontificates that it is all Howard's fault because "The exit polls from yesterday's election would indicate that Mr Howard's decision to hang onto the prime ministership last year may have played a major factor in his government's defeat."
The Daily Telegraph Akerman article yesterday:
Howard is all but ignored by a reborn Dennis Shanahan who gives an upbeat opinion on the new Prime Minister-elect under the headline "New PM on the edge of greatness".
The Australian Shanahan article today:
Janet Albrechtsen is yet to publish this week, but I bet her piece will be a doozey.

Sunday 25 November 2007

Lismore's Northern Star called for Howard's End

Although the election's done and dusted, it would be remiss of this site not to make special mention of Lismore's Northern Star, which came out strongly in its editorial on election day. Its editor, Russell Eldridge, wrote:

"We endorse the view that it is time for change. It is time to vote out a Government that has no case for re-election and is leading this country down an increasingly narrow, selfish and short-sighted path.

Read the editorial at:

Well done, Northern Star!

Day after election debacle Libs go from bad to worse

This morning Peter Costello announced that he wasn't willing to stand for the now vacant position of Leader of the Liberal Party in Opposition.

This afternoon Malcolm Turnbull put up his hand for this job.Brian Loughnane, federal director of the party, is saying today that the Liberal Party is not in disarray, but one has to wonder if it has a death wish.

Malcolm Turnbull appears to have still unresolved matters concerning his alleged misleading of the HIH insurance group in the two years leading up to its spectacular $100 million plus collapse.

It would not be a good look for a Liberal Party leader to have a judgment for significant damages found against himself and eight others including Rodney Adler. If nothing else this legal matter will be before the court well into the second year of this parliament.

If the Liberal Party looked elsewhere for its leader, where would that be?
Tony Abbott's mouthings would be likely to immediately bring the party into disrepute and if uttered during a doorstop interview might see him in court.
Alexander Downer's inane giggle would quickly become as grating as Peter Costello's famous smirk, and the AWB scandal would continue to haunt him.
Phillip Ruddock is perceived by the electorate as cold-hearted and careless of the rule of law.
The list can go on and on.

There is no real chance of generational change in the Federal Liberal Party - it is still composed of the usual suspects.

The Age June 2007 article on Turnbull and HIH:
The Brisbane Times November 2007 article on Turnbull and HIH: article today and Loughnane:,23599,22818207-29277,00.html

The morning after the election night before

Well the fat lady sang early last night and Australia now has an incoming Labor federal government, with the Nationals no longer able to dominate on the North Coast of New South Wales.
Neither Sue Page or Chris Gulaptis can console themselves with the thought that it was merely a national electoral swing which saw them fail to win the seats of Richmond and Page.
Gulaptis in particular was reaping the results of his develop-unsustainably-and-damn-local-quality-of-life voting pattern; first a Maclean shire councillor and mayor and later as a Clarence Valley shire councillor.

Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye

John Winston Howard conceded electoral defeat on behalf of his government late last night.
It is expected that he will eventually be forced to also concede defeat as the Liberal Member for Bennelong.
Make no mistake, despite his long time in Parliament and as a holder of the office of Prime Minister, this man deserved to go.
Australia was not only tired of Howard and his Coalition Government, it was increasingly afraid of being governed by these neo-fascist bullies.
The majority of Australians were afraid of both where he had taken our country and where he might lead it in the future.
It was obvious as he spoke last night that John Howard hopes that history will treat him kindly. He does not deserve a generous re-writing of history and Australia cannot afford to forget just how close it came to having its character and culture irreparably distorted and corrupted by this now outgoing Federal Government.

Labor wins 2 out of 3 NSW North Coast seats

Justine Elliot retains the seat of Richmond for Federal Labor. This strong win was never in doubt from very early on in the vote count.
Janelle Saffin gains the seat of Page for Federal Labor. Her comfortable win was buttressed by Green preferences.
Luke Hartsuyker retains the seat of Page for the Federal Nationals. His seat remained officially a close call for some part of election night but he pulled ahead to a winning position midway through.
None of these seats have been officially declared by the Australian Electoral Commission at the time of posting. However the results are not in doubt.

Saturday 24 November 2007

The Howard Government is gone, gone, gone....

and I'm so glad, glad, glad!

Australia votes 2007: AEC Virtual Tally Room and ABC election coverage online links

Australian Electoral Commission Virtual Tally Room federal election vote count from 7,700 polling stations across the country, with information across 1,200 pages and updates every 90 seconds beginning after 6pm:
Australian Broadcasting Corporation website:

Last word from local media as the NSW North Coast heads to the ballot box

"IT would take a brave, almost reckless, bet to try and pick the likely election winner in Page.
A poll in The Daily Examiner two weeks ago hints at a Labor win in the contest between Labors Janelle Saffin and the Nationals Chris Gulaptis in Page, but points to a result so tight that it could easily go either way.-----
The other party to watch in the counting tonight and tomorrow is The Greens. The party has run an unusually vigorous campaign in Richmond, largely due to the efforts of its candidate there, Giovanni Ebono."
"THE choice for Australia's 13 million voters today is to stay with a familiar team, or vote for change.
We endorse the view that it is time for change. It is time to vote out a Government that has no case for re-election and is leading this country down an increasingly narrow, selfish and short-sighted path.
Kevin Rudd's Labor team has recognised the best features of John Howard's Coalition policies and kept them, chief among them being economic responsibility and stability.
But the differences that Labor offers are fundamental.-----
Our foreign policy has spilled into domestic affairs. The Government drafted internal security laws befitting an old-style Communist state and the public is encouraged by TV advertising into paranoid neighbourhood spying. Is this the sort of Australia we want?
Mr Rudd's team is yet to be tried, but if elected today it will know that Australians are looking for a new style of leadership, one which will encourage fairness and open-mindedness. It will need to be leadership that allows this country to breathe again."
The Northern Star editorial opinion today:

Last minute campaign stupidity leaves 'em laughing: Robb on GetUp!

The Liberal Party's Andrew Robb once again makes us laugh as he attacks GetUP!
He forgot to factor in the high non-response rate of Coalition candidates in some electorates. If candidates didn't register their responses to the questionnaire it would be nigh impossible for the online computerised How Should I Vote? program to throw up their names in response.
Something that everyone on the NSW North Coast who tried this program would be well aware of, as local Nationals candidates also appear to have ignored this possibility.
When Andrew Robb couldn't get the computer program to advise him to vote for himself, he ran to the media with: "This outrageous website is likely to deceive thousands of voters, especially young voters who are genuinely seeking information from the internet".
The response was measured.
"Getup! executive director Brett Solomon said most Liberal candidates and the party had not submitted policy details for the site, meaning they were listed randomly after those who did.
"The system itself does not allow for parties that don't complete the form to have a rating because there's no data," he said."
Truly Andrew, you've excelled yourself at introducing last minute red herrings this week.
GetUp! didn't shoot you in the foot - you did that all by yourself.
GetUp! and Robb article:  

Federal Election 2007: finally, it's your call

After such a long election campaign and an even longer pseudo-campaign before that, Australia finally votes today. I find myself torn between the hope that the country will vote wisely and a fear that John Howard will be returned to power.
For those earlybirds out there who may share this fear - a collection of online headlines from around the map.
"Finally, it's your poll call"
"Howard braces for brush-off"
"Money on Labor, but more bets on Coalition"
"We stand behind a man of our state and our times"
"Key cog in Liberal fortunes"
"Libs stage late surge"
"Turnbull threatens byelection if he loses"
"Sweet taste of defeat"
"PM hopes those polls were just joshin' with us"

Campaign over, election day here - gone fishin'

Having voted early, I intend to spend today in the pleasurable pursuit of a feed of fish. At least John Howard and his mates have yet to find a way to spoil a day on the river.
Some writer bloke once said Australia is a lucky country, run by second-rate people who share its luck.
I hope that while I'm casting my line today, Australia will prove him wrong and the Howard Government will be voted out of office.

Friday 23 November 2007

Uncle Johnny wants you!

The country needs John Winston Howard. He told you so at the beginning of this election campaign when he realised that all was not well with the polls.
John Howard needs you. He told you so after the polls failed to bounce and he began to despair.
The real question is - do you really need John Howard?
Come tomorrow, will Australia get the government it deserves or will it get Howard & Costello. It's up to you.

Silly sods still exist in Howard's mates club

Senator Bill Heffernan has the reputation of being a colourful character, renown on the NSW North Coast for introducing himself over the phone as "the Devil" and treating local journalists to his views on proctology issues. However, colourful is one thing - downright bizarre is another.

From yesterday.
"Accounts diverge, but what’s not disputed is that the New South Wales Senator was a passenger on a Qantas service from Canberra to Brisbane. It was early evening, shortly after sunset. The flight landed hard. Teeth slappingly hard. The pilot in charge decided to perform a full-power go-around. The jet made a second, normal landing. Crikey understands it was inspected for any damage and passed as fit to return to service. Qantas promptly and correctly filed a safety incident report with the Air Transport Safety Bureau. All over? Apparently not. On landing Heffernan presented himself to the pilots in the plane. He allegedly made impolitic remarks and represented himself as a Civil Aviation Safety Authority officer. A meeting was then hastily convened in the Chairman’s Lounge with the Qantas duty manager to discuss events, with the Senator insisting the aircraft concerned be grounded pending a full inspection. Heffernan disputes the account. “This is complete sh-t mate,” the former Parliamentary Secretary to Cabinet told Crikey. “They knew who I f-cking was, it was on the f-cking ticket, Senator Bill f-cking Heffernan. “I presented myself as the chairman of the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee, who do all the investigations.” Heffernan denies the alternative account. “They are telling you f-cking lies,” he said. “Why do you people run this sh-t? You’re as bad as the f-cking Chaser. You’ve got to retract it and f-cking apologise, or fair dinkum I’ll f-cking go you.” Heffernan denies any confrontation in the Chairman’s Lounge. “I requested the f-cking meeting.” He added “If I ever run across you, you f-cking better … you’re f-cking gone mate.” CASA seemed to be anticipating Crikey’s call. We were told that it is not a specific offence to impersonate a CASA officer. There is, Crikey understands, a provision in the Commonwealth Crimes Act which defines the impersonation of a Commonwealth officer as a criminal offence, for which the maximum penalty is two years' jail."

One more sleep until polling day and the real nightmare begins

Basic Newspoll details released by The Australian at 4pm today.
Results for Friday 23 November 2007.
Coalition 48 ttp
Labor 52 ttp
The Australian basic timeline breakdown:
Dennis Shanahan begins to hope for his little mate:,25197,22808891-601,00.html

Political donors to 2007 federal election campaign won't be revealed until 2009

The lengthy time lag, which sees donors to political parties not publicly revealed until almost 14 months into an Australian federal government's term, has got to stop.
Not only does this time lag make a mockery of political transparency, after polling day it leaves us still wondering exactly what The Exclusive Brethren called themselves this year if/when they helped underwrite the Howard election campaign or how much Malcolm Turnbull personally splurged to keep Coalition candidates afloat.
The Age article yesterday:

One response to Howard's last ditch campaigning

The Age readers poll.
Howard's way
Is Australia 'stronger, prouder, more prosperous' than it was in 1996?
Yes - 22%
No - 78%
Total Votes: 1355

North Coast federal election campaign wrap

A  brief look at what exercised the NSW North Coast and media in the last days of this federal election campaign.
"An independent academic study looking at the effect of WorkChoices and Welfare to Work reforms in the Northern Rivers has found "a climate of fear and confusion".
The report, which is due to be presented at Newcastle University early next month, concluded with the following statement: "Vulnerable Australians in regional communities can look forward to a future of diminished prospects and quality of life, in spite of a booming economy".
The report has been authored by Dr Sandy Darab and Dr Yvonne Hartman from Southern Cross University's School of Arts and Social Sciences."
"The cousin of retiring Page MP Ian Causley is actively campaigning against the controversial new WorkChoices laws.
The contentious legislation has pushed Caley Causley, a 47-year-old aged care nurse from Grafton, into activism with the Your Rights At Work campaign.
The lifelong National Party supporter told The Sydney Morning Herald last week she was not involved in politics until WorkChoices made her sit up and take notice.
"Growing up on a property you follow family tradition… I wasn't politically involved until this issue came along and I realised it gave the boss more bullets to fire at us," she said. "I poured beer 10 years ago and earned more than I do now looking after our old people."
Caley Causley made her public speaking debut this year at a town meeting of her local Your Rights At Work group.
She told the Herald she still loved her cousin "but I disagree with him and this time I can't support his mob".
The Northern Rivers Echo yesterday:
"Labor's shadow health minister Nicola Roxon (centre) joins Labor candidate for Page Janelle Saffin and Community Regional Watch president Marshall Fittler this week outside the construction site for the redevelopment of Lismore Base Hospital which will include radiotherapy services. Ms Roxon and Ms Saffin re-iterated federal Labor's commitment last week to fastrack the completion of the hospital's planned cancer unit with a $7 million top-up of the $8 million previously pledged by the federal government, bringing federal Labor's total commitment to radiotherapy services to $15 million. Earlier on the hustings deputy prime minister Mark Vaile committed an additional $2 million to the unit, (boosting the total pledged to $10 million) but only if the state government began work next year. Ms Saffin said the increased funding was expected to get the unit finished by the end of 2009. Mr Fittler, who has campaigned for the unit, welcomed the announcement, saying provision of radiotherapy services was the single most important issue in both the Page and Richmond electorates. Ms Roxon said cancer experts predicted there would be 1600-1700 new cancer cases in Lismore and the surrounding areas this year alone and more than half of these patients would require radiotherapy."
The Daily Examiner article yesterday "Ten years 'wasted' on new ethanol plant":
"----the Coalition's plans to invest in ethanol production in northern NSW was the same idea that NRRDB had proposed in the mid-1990s----
During this election campaign, the Coalition has promised to invest $5 million into a new commercial pilot lignocellulosic ethanol plant at Harwood Sugar Mill. It also promised $2.2 million to fund construction of a new ethanol plant four kilometres south-west of Casino.
Mr. McCarthy said this funding was simply giving back the money John Howard had taken away when he came to power in 1996.----
"One of the first dastardly acts of the Howard Government was to transfer the $2 million to somewhere else, probably to support their pork barrelling needs," he said.
Mr. McCarthy said the project was shelved after federal funding was stripped.
"This has cost the Australian community 10 years of production of ethanol."
Clarence Valley Review article yesterday "Nats don't support LDP despite preferences:Gulaptis":
"Nationals candidate Chris Gulaptis has said he doesn't endorse the 'radical' Liberty and Democracy Party (LDP) candidate Benji Beatty, despite giving him his number one preference.---
this is simply about getting Chris Gulaptis elected," he said."
"New Nationals candidate Chris Gulaptis joined Mr Vaile on the back of a ute.
One elderly woman passing by, who did not reveal her name, gave The Nationals the thumbs down.
"I would like to have the money that he (Mr Vaile) spends on what he puts in my letterbox and I put straight in the garbage," she scoffed.
Another local, Eric Kaiser, 45, of Horseshoe Creek, near Kyogle, said he would vote for the Greens and give Labor his second preference.
The issue most concerning to him was the prospect of a nuclear reactor on the NSW north coast."
Camden Advertiser on Wednesday:

Campaign Day 40

Last night I heard Sol and Antony giving their expert opinion that the federal election may be declared as early as 8pm tomorrow night or alternatively we may not have a definitive result for days. This induced a form of mild hysteria in my house and prompted me to record my favourite campaign lines.

# 1
Earnest Yamba resident: "If Chris Gulaptis goes to Canberra at least we'll have finally got rid of him from local government."

# 2
Q. Why don't snakes bite the Nationals candidate for Page?
A. Professional loyalty.

It's a joke, Joyce! The whole damn election campaign.

Thursday 22 November 2007

State swing predicted to deliver all NSW North Coast seats to Labor

The last cumulative Newspoll from Possum Comitatus at Possums Pollytics.

Possum's breakdown of seats, using uniform state swings and Antony Green's House of Representatives election calculator, shows all 3 North Coast seats possibly falling to Labor.

Cowper gained by Labor with an 0.5% swing
Page gained by Labor with an 3.2% swing
Richmond retained by Labor with an 8.6% swing

Possum Pollytics home page:

Bob Brown favourite for lamb roast dinner invitations: gently poking fun at online polling

It was obvious from the very start of this election campaign that the media were going to make much of opinion polling and that the rest of us would eventually follow along. So North Coast Voices ran a series of very unscientific opinion questions with an almost minute response rate, and here is what we 'found'.
Readers of North Coast Voices posts (who also love to tick boxes) are as likely as not to think that the Labor Party will win the most federal seats on the NSW North Coast, would rather invite Bob Brown home for a lamb roast, believe the Greens are the most honest and trustworthy political party, were just as likely to know nothing of local candidates as to have an opinion on individual campaign performance, and if they had their way, John Howard and his descendants would be barred from future election to the Australian Parliament.
Happy Exit Polling everyone!

Say that again, John?

Yesterday The Age reported that John Howard (when laying out his 5-point plan to a group of Sydney business leaders) was warning that his government should be returned come Saturday or the sky would fall in.
"He said every change of Government since the end of World War II had resulted in a profound change in the nature of the country."
Hold on, John - say that again? So your government effected profound change when it came to power in 1996. Think more than a few of us would agree with that. Australia is now a more divisive and unequal country, where unsafe and unhappy is the condition of a great many.
As Prime Minister and leader of a parliamentary coalition you broke the social contract between government and the governed while calling this a virtue.
You've never been good for the soul of this country - it's time you and Janette faced the fact.

Deputy Prime Minister threatens North Coast with unwanted population explosion

Mark Vaile was on the NSW North Coast again this week and one can see that he is reacting to the local Nationals own white shoe brigade's develop-to-death philosophy.
He has promised $5 million to encourage more sea and tree changers to regional areas.
Great one, Deputy Prime Minister. Just what we need. A Coalition Government which will add to the environmental, social and infrastructure stress already being felt due to sustained coastal population growth. 
Five million dollars wouldn't even solve waste and storm water problems in one local government growth area.
Mr. Vaile shouldn't be listening so uncritically to his local candidates - at least one of them has a long history as a land developer.
Instead he should be listening to coastal residents who have been saying for years that they don't want to turn into a Gold Coast or unsustainably developed south-east Queensland.
But then, genuinely listening was never the strong suit of the Coalition Government.
The Australian yesterday:,25197,22796271-5013871,00.html

Rotten lying rodents seemingly abound in Howard's Australia

If there was something more needed to convince Australia that John Howard needs to go, it might be that this latest attempt at racist campaign mischief may be just that little thing which tips the balance.
In The Daily Telegraph this morning.
"THE Liberal Party has been hugely embarrassed over a campaign team caught delivering fake letters linking Labor with the Bali bombers.
The grubby night-time operation in St Marys, in the seat of Lindsay, was busted by a squad of ALP sleuths who conducted a stake-out.
Police have been called in to investigate the distribution of the letter, as well as the Australian Electoral Commission.
The Liberal Party yesterday expelled two members involved in the scheme.
The gang included Gary Clark, husband of retiring MP for Lindsay Jackie Kelly, and party state executive member Jeff Egan. Another was named by Labor as Troy Craig, president of the Glenmore Action Group."
Alleged timeline:
"TUESDAY: Labor officials, acting on a tip-off, stake-out a Penrith house:
8PM to 8.30pm: Three cars park near the house and the occupants enter it;
8.40PM: A group of men leave the house and walk up the road to Ms Kelly's residence;
8.58PM: Six men leave the Kelly house to the three cars which arrived earlier, and drive to the Great Western Highway;
9.25PM: At St Marys they turn into Glossop St, then Debrincat St where they separate at corner with Boronia Rd.
9.30PM: Two men seen putting material into Boronia Rd letterboxes, which the ALP shadows find to be the fake Islamic Australia Federation letters.
The Labor men confront the pair and identify one as Mr Egan, a prominent Liberal Party figure in the Blue Mountains area.
9.30PM: Two men seen letterboxing the same material in Maple Rd. They are approached and identified as Ms Kelly's husband Gary Clark and a man said to be president of a residents' action group."
The Daily Telegraph articles:

Campaign Day 39 - we all deserve medals

Thankfully all election advertising went off television and radio airways as of midnight, but your phone might still bite because those pesky, tinny recorded campaign messages are still allowed.
Newspapers will as usual carry those last minute attempts to sway voters of course, and today and tomorrow may still see some libellous Nationals garbage turning up in letter boxes across Australia.
Probably a crude leaflet all about how the Greens/Democrats/Labor, and anyone but themselves, will shear your granny and rape the sheep.
These last six weeks have been an endurance marathon for everyone with the misfortune to not be able to afford an extended overseas holiday.
John Howard deserves to lose this election solely on the grounds that he authorised our protracted torture.
I hope his chooks turn into emus and kick his dunny down.

Will Gulaptis lose the Nationals' family jewels?

National Party candidate for Page, Chris Gulaptis, should be having restless nights in the run-up to Saturday's election. The prospects of Page falling to Labor must be causing Gulaptis and his supporters, who include former Deputy Speaker and experienced head kicker Ian Causley, to have grave concerns. The Nationals have bankrolled Gulaptis's campaign to an incredible extent. Nightly commercial television news has had an appearance that it's been the filler between a steady stream of ads for Gulaptis and his counterpart Sue Page, who is contesting Richmond for the Nats. Some locals in Page have been on the receiving end of three, four and in some cases five direct mail outs from the Gulaptis team.

On top of the direct cash funding the Nats have thrown Gulaptis's way, there's been no shortage of Government members visit the electorate and throw their weight behind Gulaptis. Locals have lost count of the number of times National Party leader Mark Vaile has visited the electorate. Local wags reckon Vaile will soon have to notify the AEC of a change of address to one that's in Page. Pity he didn't do that before the rolls closed - that would have allowed him to vote for Gulaptis who resides in the electorate of Cowper and doesn't get to vote for himself.

In a move that shows all the signs of desperation Vaile, speaking at the coalition's corporate lunch in Sydney, said that Labor was a bunch of burglars intent on stealing the coalition's family jewels.

Vaile said, "We cannot allow this to be put at risk. We cannot allow a bunch of burglars to slip through the side window and steal the family jewels now that we have created them."

Who does Vaile think he is?

A local in Page remarked, "I think the biggest issue for The Nationals is that the seats they hold tend to be the poorest seats in the country. What has been happening for the last 11 years? It is only now the money has started flowing because they are desperate."

The local resident added that the issue most concerning to him was the prospect of a nuclear reactor on the NSW north coast.

AAP reports that Gulaptis's son had this to say about his father:

"He is my Dad. How embarrassing."

For further details, read AAP's report at:

How I see the day I quit or John-in-Wonderland

These days John Howard's view of his world is a wonder to behold.
Howard in The Sydney Morning Herald on Tuesday.
"Mr Howard yesterday said Treasurer Peter Costello would replace him unopposed as Liberal leader when he steps down, even though the choice is ultimately up to the party room.
The prime minister today defended that statement and offered a candid insight into what would happen on that fateful day.
"I will go into the party meeting and say I hereby resign as leader of the Liberal Party, and everybody will sort of say 'right o', they'll know it's coming, then I'll sit down and say 'does anybody want to nominate'," Mr Howard told reporters.
"In our party you nominate by standing and people will stand and in my view nobody else will stand, and he will be elected unopposed."
Who is he kidding? If the Howard Government fails to win re-election this Saturday, John Howard will be lucky to survive his concession speech without multiple bloody knives in the middle of his back. If the Coalition regains government by a severely reduced majority, John Howard will face leadership challengers aplenty before his preferred time to resign.
The Sydney Morning Herald articles:

Wednesday 21 November 2007

Punters odds still set for major Labor victory on NSW North Coast

Sportingbet at 3.23pm today.
Janelle Saffin (ALP)   $1.53
Chris Gulaptis (NATS) $2.35
Justine Elliot (ALP)     $1.80
Sue Page (NATS)        $6.00
Not found but Centrebet has Luke Hartsuyker at 1.41 and Paul Sekfy at 2.70
It appears that Australia-wide more punters are betting on Labor to win government.
The Northern Star today:

Nats' Chris Gulaptis promises $300k to catch a crook and Clarence Valley cracks up

The irony of today's The Daily Examiner frontpage headline was not lost on Lower Clarence residents - "Nat's $300k to catch a crook".
Chris Gulaptis' problematic voting record on the former Maclean Shire Council is well documented, and even though Clarence Valley Council has always been careful not to leave any printed or taped evidence of how individual councillors vote, many are still watching Cr. Gulaptis' performance on this council.
If the Nats want to catch law breakers they should look to their own ranks.
This party should also consider if promising money will be delivered to the Page via a specific program, the National Community Crime Prevention program, might be as dodgy as Mr. Vaile's recent promise to deliver more funds to another electorate from the now notorious Regional Partnerships program.  

In case of fire, break glass and vote Greens

In an effort to keep-it-simple-stupid the media rarely presents an Australian national electoral race as anything but a battle between two giants, and the Liberal Party will never call attention to the fact that it is not strong enough to govern without its mini-me Nationals.
Of course the major parties have been quite successful in convincing us all that this two-horse race call is all but ordained from on high. The reality of power and how it is exercised does lend some weight to this view.
However, other aspects of reality are also valid. Right now we voters can use not only our personal primary vote but also our preferences to strengthen or weaken the major parties' hold over our lives and futures.
So if you are fearful of another three years under an increasing right-wing Coalition government; if you worry that a Labor government might fall into complacency over issues like the economy, foreign policy, social justice or climate change; remember that there are still two parliamentary parties out there with track records and experience in the Senate - The Greens and the Australian Democrats.
So on 24 November if you are still consumed by fiery doubt, remember that breaking from the herd might be a better option - and vote for The Greens on the Senate ballot paper.
The Greens:
The Australian Democrats:

Exclusive Brethren - serial offenders, yet again!

The ever-so-exclusive Exclusive Brethren has made yet another underhand attempt to influence Australian politics. This group, whose access to the PM and government ministers is way out of proportion to that of similarly sized lobby groups, has decided its pay back time in Tasmania and is targeting the Greens in general, but Senator Bob Brown in particular.

The Sydney Morning Herald (November 21)
reports the religious sect has dramatically intervened in the federal election campaign with a letter sent "To the citizens of Tasmania" warning about the "anti-development and immoral policies" of the Greens leader, Bob Brown.

The letter refers readers to a number of websites, including an anonymous, US-registered blog at This site makes wild accusations about the Greens. It would have readers believe the Greens started the 2004 race riots on Palm Island. And, get this, the site reckons the Greens are have been plotting to infiltrate the Exclusive Brethren.

Senator Brown's response: "I think the church's members are pouring hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars into this campaign … and under the Government's new electoral laws, an individual can put in $100,000 around the country without any disclosure being made."

Not unexpectedly, the Brethren denied any input from the Liberal Party.

The Howard Government hasn't even lost the election yet, but the Coalition is already openly planning how to dismantle any incoming Labor government

Well we all knew that the far-right would be bitter and twisted losers. This is now confirmed by the Coalition's threat to take thirteen Labor candidates to court sequentially, if these candidates are elected to the 42nd Commonwealth Parliament under a Labor government. yesterday:
Both the Liberal Party and the Nationals should be careful what they wish for. There are enough grey areas in Section 44 of the Australian Constitution and other related sections to catch some of its own first time candidates if they are also elected. The Nationals candidate for Page, Chris Gulaptis, is a perfect example because he is a Clarence Valley shire councillor who has been active in this role since writs were called, nominations closed and the political campaign commenced.
Nor should the Coalition rely on the High Court (because that's where all this would eventually end up if the numerous allegations were acted upon) being a tame participant in any move to subvert the known intent of the Australian electorate in such a manner. Especially as the Coalition has semaphored its motives.
One has to suspect that the Howard Government's threat is a last ditch attempt to scare voters away from Labor, rather than a genuine concern about the eligibility for election of some candidates.
During its previous terms in office the Howard Government had ample opportunity to attempt the clarification of current ambiguity surrounding candidate eligibility criteria and it did virtually nothing.
Australian Constitution and Section 44:
Australian Electoral Commission advice to candidates:

Campaign Day 38

My senses have been bombarded by a desperate Nationals ad on TV over these last few days.
Apparently The Greens and Labor are in an evil alliance to release hordes of drug addicts onto the street to kill our primary school children with dirty needles.
The Nats seem to believe that voters in the bush are simple nongs who will believe any old nonsense that is thrown at them.
What's their next ad to be - Greens and Labor in despicable plot to kidnap our working dogs?

Tuesday 20 November 2007

A timely reminder that it has always been voters who hold the whiphand on polling day

Voters have the final say ranking candidates on the ballot paper
20 November 2007
Every elector can choose the order they rank the candidates on their 2007 election ballot papers, the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) said today.
Electoral Commissioner, Ian Campbell reminded electors that it was entirely up to them to decide where their preferences go when voting in the House of Representatives election and Senate election. 
"Political parties or candidates may suggest to their supporters to vote in a particular manner but electors have the final say when filling in their ballot papers," he said.
"In completing the green House of Representatives ballot paper, electors can decide for themselves how to allocate their preferences or they can choose to follow a party or candidate's how-to-vote card."
Mr Campbell said electors had a choice of voting above or below the line on the white Senate ballot paper. By marking 1 in one box above the line for a party or group, the preferences will be distributed according to the group voting ticket that the party or group has registered with the AEC.
"Any elector that wants to inspect the registered group voting tickets can now find them online at or by calling 13 23 26.   Booklets showing the group voting tickets will also be available in every polling place.
"If electors do not want to follow a ticket, they can vote below the line on the Senate ballot paper by numbering all the boxes below the line for each individual candidate in the order of their choice," Mr Campbell said.
"Polling officials are available to assist electors at all polling places on election day, Saturday 24 November.   If you do make a mistake on your ballot paper just ask a polling official for another one," he said.
"At this election we also have a new online 'How to vote practice tool' at to show electors, especially those voting for the first time, how to complete the ballot paper correctly," he said.
For more information on voting in the 2007 election, visit or call the AEC on 13 23 26.

Has luck finally turned against Prime Minister Howard?

It was a strange day yesterday for we ordinary voters trying to read the political tea leaves.
The Sydney Morning Herald and Peter Hartcher sounded the death knell for John Howard:
But The Courier Mail readers in Brisbane were coming out in favour of the Liberal Party come Saturday:
In The West Australian most bloggers gave Howard a bit of a thumbs down:
While AdelaideNow gave equal space to both major parties on the Howard Government's $200 million advertising splurge without really raising an eyebrow:
Over at Melbourne's The Age the Federal Government advertising splurge featured, along with the risk of Turnbull losing Wentworth and a blog on the Liberal Party civil war:
Meanwhile in Tasmania the Mercury delivered uncritical space to the Howard Government's forest policy launch, but also worried about affordable housing at state level:
And the Northern Territory News gave a brief sop to comment on the political scene by doing a straightforward piece on Howard's confidence in winning government:
The ABC's 7.30 Report exposed Malcolm Turnbull's $10 million grant to a dodgy rainmaking project and his rearguard defence against almost everything:
Finally, Crikey as usual was all over the shop, therefore an interesting read and a great study of Flint's public disintegration:
Confusing isn't it?

Campaign Day 37

I hear tell that the Howard Government has splurged almost a million dollars a day for government advertising in the three months leading up to the issuing of writs for this federal election. Pity its attention was rarely on the things that matter to ordinary Australians.
Almost a million a day - what on earth were they thinking?

Government's hush up with Exclusive Brethren continues

For a mob that doesn't vote, the Exclusive Brethren certainly has a very strong interest in the political scene in Australia and isn't backward when it comes to lobbying the Prime Minister.

The Age
(November 19) reports that Prime Minister JohnHoward has exchanged letters five times with the Exclusive Brethren since 2003, but after 14 months of stalling on a simple freedom-of-information request, his office will not release the correspondence until well after election day.


The Prime Minister's office has at long last acknowledged that it has corresponded with the religious sect with which the Prime Minister has had very close contact over many years.


Mr Howard was embarrassed in August when The Age revealed he had met Brethren world leader, Bruce Hales, and at least one sect member who is under police investigation over his role in funding pro-Liberal campaign advertisements in the 2004 election.

Greens leader Bob Brown said the Government had once again manipulated the FoI Act to hide information. Mr Brown was told by the Prime Minister's department, in response to his own FoI request in 2005, that "no records of correspondence with persons identifying as representatives of the Exclusive Brethren … were located". The response to The Age reveals that three relevant documents existed.

"I was lied to. That's clear. Straight deception," Senator Brown said. "But I'm used to it with the Government."


Read the full report from The Age at: