Wednesday 30 June 2010

Julia Gillard: time for a little context....

Ever since the news broke that Kevin Rudd had been removed as prime minister by the parliamentary wing of the Australian Labor Party there has been noise about him being the only PM to be deposed in a first term without being able to 'go to the people' and, about Julia Gillard rolling a first term leader, not being elected by the people, being unmarried, having no children, being a migrant. As well as constant chatter about how 'unique' this is.

Of course Abbott, Bishop, Joyce and the entire Coalition chorus are attempting to hammer many of these points as political negatives.

However, an Australian prime minister is always elected by the party not the people. Further to that - with the exception of her gender - little else is unique about Gillard. Or unique about Rudd for that matter.

According to the Australian Prime Ministers Centre at Old Parliament House of our twenty-seven prime ministers:

..... most have only served one term......

Indeed it seems that, if I have the count correct, at least 17 of the 27 Australian prime ministers to date were installed by their respective parties in periods between federal elections. So Gillard replacing Rudd is almost a mundane experience in an historical context.

A potted history garnered from the Internet shows that:
Bruce became Australia's first prime minister without a general election being called.
Page became prime minister due to the death of a sitting leader and so he too never faced a general election as leader to get there. He gave way to Menzies who became prime minister without facing the people as head of the party (although he did stand for election as leader of the opposition the second time around).
Forde took the same route as Page.
Deakin, Watson,Reid, Barton, Fisher, Hughes, Menzies all resigned rather than be pushed by either their party or the House.
McEwan came to the prime ministership on the death of Holt. He was unmarried during his brief term as prime minister and also childless. He gave way to Gorton without a general election being called.
When it came to party room coups - Bruce rolled Hughes in Billy's incarnation as a conservative, McMahon rolled Gorton (à la Gillard and Rudd but with more blood on the carpets) and Keating rolled Hawke, to become prime ministers without going to the electorate for ersatz approval.
Neither Watson, Reid, Page, Fadden, Forde or McEwen went to a general election while holding the office of prime minister. McMahon's government lost the only time he went to the polls as PM.
Of the many who did not last long heading a federal government, the record for brevity must go to Forde who gave way to Chifley after eight days.
Whitlam was unique in that he was removed by the Governor-General using the reserve powers of the Crown.

Oh, and by the way - a total of six prime ministers have been born overseas. One of our most well-known prime ministers William 'Billy' Hughes was born in Wales just like the 27th Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

** My apologies for this post seeming to appear and disappear in the early hours - a sudden power shortage left me with an unedited version out there in cyberspace which the software decided to publish. The text is now corrected.

Australian Federal Election 2010: the iffy seats confirmed

The Australian Electoral Commission has kindly listed the status of all 150 House of Representatives seats across the country which will be contested in this year's federal election in a handy PDF file:

How is status defined?
Seat status is based on the two-party preferred vote count (TPP). The two-party preferred vote
refers to the number of votes received by the Labor and Coalition candidates after a full distribution
of preferences.
The AEC classifies seats using the following business rules: when a party receives less than
56 per cent of the vote the seat is classified as ‘marginal’ (M); between 56-60 per cent it is
classified as ‘fairly safe’ (FS) and more than 60 per cent is classified ‘safe’ (S).

In New South Wales 48 seats will be on the ballot and 16 of these are currently held by very slim margins (post 2009 redistribution) and another 7 are only classified as fairly safe.

The marginal seats are Bennelong, Calare, Cowper, Dobell, Eden-Monaro, Gilmore, Greenway, Hughes, Hume, Macarthur, Macquarie, North Sydney, Page, Paterson, Robertson, and Wentworth.

Five of these marginal seats are held by the Coalition and seven by Labor. Two are on the NSW North Coast - Page held by Labor MP Janelle Saffin and Cowper held by National Party MP Luke Hartsuyker.

The fact that marginal and fairly safe seats make up almost half of all NSW seats will make for an interesting and possibly brutal federal election campaign in this state.

Tuesday 29 June 2010

Dear Red: an open letter to Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard

Dear Red,

I voted for Labor at the last federal election:
1. To get rid of Howard and his rightwing gang of idiots - PASS
2. In the belief that Labor would address climate change - FAIL
3. Hoping that pensioners would get a fairer go - PASS
4. Sure that public hospitals, community health services and dental care for the poor would improve - FAIL, CONDITIONAL PASS, FAIL
5. Confident that a Labor Government would get rid of those stupid sedition laws and be fairer to asylum seekers arriving unannounced by boat - FAIL, CONDITIONAL PASS
6. Certain that the Australian Labor Party would not become so right wing that it would introduce a national identity data base on the sly or try to censor free speech on the Internet - FAIL, FAIL
7. Knowing that Labor would do it's best to save the whales - PASS
8. Wishing that a Labor Government would stand up to big business bullies and self-righteous religious leaders - FAIL and FAIL again.
As you can see my hopes & dreams are largely unmet.
I'm not a happy camper.
What are you going to do for those like me who felt betrayed by the Rudd Government and are of two minds about where you fit in the great policy scheme of things?
Do our votes matter more to you than they did to Rudd?

Maudie's Ex

Guest Speak is a North Coast Voices segment allowing serious or satirical comment from NSW Northern Rivers residents. Email ncvguestpeak at live dot com dot au to submit comment for consideration.

Make the biotech industry part of the Australian federal election debate in 2010

With little likelihood of the Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council handing on its final report of the Review of Food Labelling Law and Policy before the federal election this year, I imagine that the biotech industry in Australia is feeling confident that it will not come under real scrutiny during the election campaign.

Because this is an important issue which already sees genetically modified foods (such as certain potato varieties) capable of being sold to the general public without any requirement that it be labelled such, it is important that all candidates standing for a federal seat in 2010 be asked to state their position on the labelling of genetically modified of produce/products/ingredients/foods and the makeup of any future review committee.

How members of the new parliament view issues surrounding genetic modification will be reflected in how they vote on any proposed changes to food labelling law. The forthcoming election campaign is one more chance for Australian consumers to get their own points of view across to those wishing to represent them.

This is what the ANZFRC review website has to say about the one member of the Independent Review Panel with a glaring conflict of interest as Executive Director of the Australian Oilseeds Federation briefed to promote GM technology:

Nicholas Clive Goddard Mr Nick Goddard is a communications and marketing professional with over 25 years experience in the food industry. He has solid track record in bringing new and innovative food products to market, and in doing so has developed a good understanding of the challenges and opportunities the existing food labelling laws present to both businesses and consumers. Mr. Goddard has a Bachelor of Commerce and an MBA, and brings a pragmatic business and solutions oriented approach to the Panel. He is currently Executive Director of an agri-food industry association.
Conflict of Interest declaration (PDF 190 KB))

The final report of the Review Committee will be provided to the Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council in December 2010 and to COAG in early 2011.
The review process began in late 2009.

The reactions are coming thick and fast to Gillard's ascension

The reactions are coming thick and fast to Julia Gillard's elevation to the position of Australia's Prime Minister.
Predictably many are focussed on gender, marital status, religion, family and hair colour while some think of the political impications for one Anthony Abbott.
Running the gamut from the pig ignorant and inaccurate
Red Barren tag (turning up in The Punch comments section slinging off at her childless state in fairly obvious code) and the wilfully mischevious though to the witty and acute.
Here's a scatter of these in no particular order:

Cartoon by Bill Leak

zineshop‎: Just realized Julia Gillard is our first PM that doesn't have children. Cool. Thanks 4 filling me in Rachel Musings of an Inappropriate Woman‎ -

thewetmale‎: @jason_a_w Oh, Gillard looks like a cat with a new mouse. #aus2010 has the potential to be very, very entertaining. - Twitter

Gillard said through a spokeswoman that she was a "non-practising Baptist" and "not religious". And you know the best thing? Australians (apart from the loony fringe - like Fagsnadh and Stephen Fielding) will not give a damn. {
Google Groups}

By the looks of Facebook, Aussie rangas are taking great pride in one of their own grabbing the top job. So imagine how I’m feeling. As an unmarried, childless heathen it looks like someone who reflects my personal values has finally become Prime Minister. {Carrie Miller writing in The Punch on 28th June 2010}

* This last letter by Tom McIndoe is actually incorrect in saying that Gillard is the first "unmarried" prime minister. It's more correct to say 'never married' perhaps. John McEwan during his very short term as prime minister between 19th December 1967 to 10th January 1968 did not have a wife (he was widowed in February 1967 and remarried in mid-1968) and he was also officially childless at the time.{Thanks to Clarencegirl for pointing that out.}

Monday 28 June 2010

Over at 'Pollytics' Possum poses a political puzzle. At 'The Sydney Morning Herald' Hartcher supplies one explanation.

I have to admit that I wasn't exactly crying tears as Kevin Rudd was taken down by his own party.

The best thing about his prime ministership was his Apology to the Stolen Generation and his leadership during the global financial crisis.
As well as his earlier support (during the 2007 election campaign) of Northern Rivers communities in their fight against that mindless water grab attempt by Howard and Turnbull and, his determination to lift pensioners out of the poverty trap in which the far right of the Liberal and National parties had kept them.

However, that silly 2020 Summit clearly showed a man out of touch with the ordinary voters who had backed him at the polls and one who really had no idea why he had been elected.
While his failure to sell a national emissions trading scheme to the Australian electorate was the real tragedy of his federal political career and his support of the Howard Government sedition and certain anti-terrorism laws his constant disgrace.

Possum Comitatus addresses that strange political puzzle within the leadership change in his Spill post on 24 June 2020:

NewsPoll pdf showing three month comparisons.

This was Peter Hartcher in The Sydney Morning Herald on 26 June 2010 - two days after Gillard ousted Rudd as Australia's prime minister - with an alternative explanation of the puzzle:

Each word is printed in a typesize to reflect how commonly it came up. The dominant word glaring from the "cloud" was ''arrogant'', followed by ''weak''. Never mind that these seem to convey wildly different conceptions of the man. The Labor powerbrokers who commissioned the poll were only concerned that both are bad qualities for a prime minister.
But asked the word that best described Julia Gillard, the dominant word in her cloud was strong, followed by capable. This was the poll on which factional bosses based their case for replacing Rudd with Gillard.
The poll was commissioned by Sussex Street, shorthand for the head office of the NSW branch of the Labor Party, to test the validity of the Herald's Nielsen poll published on June 7.

Surely this wasn't the internal Labor Party polling the media was talking about in the days before leadership change?

However, if it was then Sussex Street has a problem or three.
Firstly, simple Internet access across the country carries no demographic weight suitable for use in polling. Patchy doesn't begin to describe it.
Secondly, if one were to post a comment which stated "I don't believe that Kevin Rudd is arrogant and weak" the cloud would show "arrogant" and "weak" without the qualifier.
Depending on cloud parameters the results probably said more about how original polling data were collated or, if the cloud was generated from Internet items, more about the mainstream media and blogosphere than it did about voter opinion/intentions.

The cloud is in fact worthless as an opinion poll and, reliance on it is a measure of the level of panic among Labpor Party powerbrokers.

Gillard will naturally have an opinion poll honeymoon period which will see the Labor lead in the polls lengthen. However, neither Federal Labor nor Sussex Street should rely on this surge being either a strong or long one.


Labor now leading the Coalition on primary votes by two percentage points as of 25-27 June 2010.

Published in
The Australian
on 28 June 2010

Click on images to enlarge


This time from the Essential Report published on 28 June 2010 with a 1,803 sample size:

Q. If there was a Federal election held today, to which party would you probably give your first preference? Q. If you ‘don’t know’ on the above question, which party are you currently leaning to?

An additional question Do you approve or disapprove of Julia Gillard replacing Kevin Rudd as leader of the Labor Party and Prime Minister? resulted in:
47% approved the change from Kevin Rudd to Julia Gillard as Prime Minister and 40% disapproved. Opinions reflected political party preferences.
Labor voters strongly approved the change by 68% to 23% while 60% of Liberal/National voters disapproved and 36% approved.

There were no significant differences by gender.
However, older respondents were more likely to approve than younger respondents – 55%
of those aged 55+ approved and 37% disapproved.

Art on the coast: singing the blues

Frances Belle Parker
The Identity Of My
Homeland Ulgandahi

Bronwyn Bancroft
Timeless Land II

Alison Williams

Politics in Australia: that was quick, Julia!

Clicking onto the Kevin Rudd PM website last Friday morning led directly to which in turn displayed this:

Very afraid that I would find Julia had done a K-K-Keneally and immediately wiped all her predecessor's posts, press releases etc. from government and Australian Labor Party websites and therefore from our collective history; I went on to the official website of the Australian Prime Minister and found this message:

"On 24 June 2010, the Hon Julia Gillard MP was sworn in as Prime Minister by the Governor-General, succeeding the Hon Kevin Rudd MP.

The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet has archived material from the former Prime Minister's website.

If you wish to direct any messages to the office of the former Prime Minister, the Hon Kevin Rudd MP, please follow this link."

Julia it seems is a class act.

Sunday 27 June 2010

Abbott the Ungracious

One rather felt it would be the case, but still it was disappointing that Opposition Leader Tony Abbott barely paid lip service to the historic moment for Australian society and federal politics last Thursday before trying to paint new Prime Minister Julia Gillard as one of the worst of the worst.
Following his vitriolic lead in a closely orchestrated attack were Julie Bishop and Warren Truss.
Badly done, Mr Abbott.

Although I have to admit his constant talk of Sussex Street death squads is giving me a good belly laugh at his expense.
In that I'm not alone. Twitter has a tag just for this:

DarrylMason: Can't sleep. Twitch the blinds to see outside, a night empty street, silent, but out there, somewhere, we now know, #labordeathsquads roam.

easynowtiger: RT @rod_benson: Had a knock at the door earlier. Thought it was the #LaborDeathSquads but it was just the #LatterDaySaints. Gave them a copy of Battlelines.

weezmgk: "Security threats prompt school lockdowns in NSW" SOMEONE MUST STOP #LABORDEATHSQUADS NAO!

What year is this again?

I clicked onto Computer World and saw this:

's almost mid 2010 now for starters and the next NSW state election is not due until 26 March 2011 or thereabouts.

But Computer World can take heart - it could have been worse.
Recently the mainstream print media decided that a deceased local's nieces and nephews actually numbered amongst his in-laws. Something which might confuse future genealogists.
While I'm on the subject of out of whack - Maud up the Street want to know when the town clocks in Grafton and Yamba going to show the correct time?

Saturday 26 June 2010

Real news item

While earth-shattering news about events in Afghanistan, Canada, North Korea, South Africa and even down-town Canberra grace the headlines it's refreshing to know that a Clarence valley punter is able to eloquently express his concerns about a local matter of vital importance.

The punter, who hails from Junction Hill (a satellite suburb of Grafton), wrote to the local paper (The Daily Examiner) about a rumour circulating in the valley that his favourite tipple will not be available at next month's Grafton racing carnival.

John 'Loves Black Beer' B********'s (surname deleted) letter

New native title claim in the Clarence Valley being considered

The Daily Examiner reported on 22 June 2010 that a new native title claim may be lodged over the Clarence Valley coastal zone from Woody Head to Red Rock.

Currently there are approximately 3,925 sq kilometres under active native title claim from Evans Head and its hinterland to the Grafton area, as well as the waters of the Clarence River.
These claims are on land within Clarence Valley Council, Lismore Shire Council, Richmond Valley Council, Tenterfield Shire Council, Glen Innes Severn Shire Council local government areas.

If the media report is correct then this proposed application would be a logical progression of the sincere efforts of Northern Rivers traditional owners to gain a measure of protection for the environmental, cultural and spiritual values of this land.

I wish them well in their endeavours.

Come orf it, Mendoza!

I'd be the last person to support the proposition that the Oz public health system is working for everyone anyone, but I have to wonder about the motives of John Mendoza, former chair of the National Advisory Council on Mental Health.
This is John last Friday in the Ballina Shire Advocate:
This is John in a GetUp! email doing the rounds:
"On Thursday, I and over 60 mental health organisations from across Australia intend to present a letter to Kevin Rudd with a plan of action for mental health. But so far, the Prime Minister has declined to receive it, and so too has the Health Minister, Nicola Roxon."
A couple of weeks ago a letter is sent and the PM hadn't yet replied? Yep, a scandal of the first magnitude.
Rudd and Roxon refuse to have this letter re-presented to them (presumably by the doughty John) for the benefit of the media? A shocking abuse of power I tell you!
Rudd ignored a GetUP! petition which is apparently only a few days old and delivered to Canberra last Thursday? My gawd, that defies belief.
John - take two aspirin tabs and lie down - your ego is out of control.

Pic of the boofhead from GetUp! website

Friday 25 June 2010

New Matilda will be missed when it closes its doors today

Best wishes for the future to all New Matilda
management, staff, journalists & assorted others
from all of us here at North Coast Voices

Take an utterly random trip down memory lane as New Matilda ceases publication today:

Leaks and Whispers By Bruce Haigh
Brown's Got Soul By Tim Soutphommasane
Time to Point the Bone? By Michael Brissenden
Minamata 50 Years On By Christopher Reed
Our greatest addiction By Daniel Donahoo
Lady in waiting? By Christine Wallace

Waterlines Report June 2010: how much water does Australia use?

Australian Government Waterlines report 30 - June 2010:

This report documents:

  • the location of significant intercepting activities that fall outside the current entitlement framework
  • the potential rate of expansion of each activity over various time periods
  • estimates of water usage of each activity in water management areas used in the Australian Water Resources 2005 report.

The report includes a definition and description of activities that intercept surface water and groundwater and identified the following activities for further analysis:

  • overland flows
  • farm dams
  • stock and domestic bores
  • plantations
  • peri-urban development

The report shows that the total volume of water unaccounted for as a result of land use activities outside our current water entitlement regimes and planning frameworks equates to almost one quarter of all the entitled water on issue in Australia.

Or to put it another way - a combined volume of at least 5,600 gigalitres of fresh water is intercepted annually across the country. Which is around 10 Sydney Harbours worth of water according to my calculations and, much is apparently being siphoned off outside of current government-endorsed management plans.

Download No_30_June_2010_Surface_and_or_groundwater_interception_activities.pdf Surface and/or groundwater interception activities: initial estimates (7.26MB)

Download Surface_and_or_groundwater_interception_activities_Exec_summary.pdf Executive summary (141KB)

Petticoats rule!

Back in the 1950s I'd never have thought it possible.
We New South Walers now have a female head of state (Her Maj), a female representative of the Crown (teh G-G), a female Prime Minister (all hail Gillard!), a female State Governor (hat tip to Marie B) and a female Premier (K-K-Keneally acting on behalf of her hair).
This has to be the ultimate hat trick.

Thursday 24 June 2010

Federal Labor and Peter Garret keep promise to protect whales

Yes! Yes! Yes! A win for the whales.
The International Whaling Commission at its Morocco meeting has not endorsed the breakway whaling nations push to end the moratorium on commercial whaling.
Now the case Australia has brought against the Government of Japan in the International Court of Justice on 31st May 2010 alleging that; "Japan's continued pursuit of a large scale programme of whaling under the Second Phase of its Japanese Whale Research Programme under Special Permit in the Antarctic ("JARPA II") [is] in breach of obligations assumed by Japan under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling ("ICRW"), as well as its other international obligations for the preservation of marine mammals and marine environment" can proceed and hopefully all whaling will end in the Southern Ocean in the foreseeable future.
Go, Migaloo!

As the road toll mounts we're still waiting, Kristina..........

As the annual road toll on the NSW North Coast leg of the Pacific Highway steadily mounts, local mayors and the media are still waiting for Premier Kristina Keneally or her designated ministerial representative to undertake an inspection by car along the worst of this route.

The invitation has been on the table since early February this year and the Premier appears to have committed her minister to a full inspection according to a March 2010 media report.

The inspection is overdue to say the least.

A short visit to Coffs Harbour in late March by Regional Development Minister Ian McDonald trying a snow job on the mayors and burbling on about "cost-benefit analysis" being needed before highway upgrades can occur just doesn't cut the political mustard - especially as scandal has since seen him go from office and parliament.

The NSW Government has been responding to these road deaths with sad shaking of heads for years now.
In 2005 Keneally's mentor, then Roads Minister Joe Tripodi, was telling ABC TV Stateline:

The NSW road toll for 2010 as of 16 June was 213 deaths. As in past years, too many of these were on the Pacific Highway.

In certain quarters local tempers are becoming rather frayed and we are still waiting, Kristina.........

Photograph of 2007 Coffs Harbour area fatality at The Sydney Morning Herald (top left ) and 2010 Tabbimobile area fatalities at The Daily Examiner (bottom right)

How to take part in ORRCA Annual Whale Census Day, Sunday 27 June 2010

Celebrating 25 Years of Marine Mammal Rescue


ORRCA Annual Whale Census Day 27 June 2010

"Come and help us count whales"

On Sunday 27 June 2010, ORRCA (Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia) will be conducting its annual Whale Census Day along the Australian coastline.

Any members of the public who are interested in whales are invited to head to their nearest or favourite ocean viewing spot to take part in the whale census and learn more about these noble and fascinating creatures.

Migrating Whales

Every year hundreds of whales migrate up and down the east and west Australian coasts to escape the wintry Antarctic waters and to mate and give birth in warmer waters. They head north from April and return south in October in time for the Antarctic summer. June and July are the best months to see northbound whales off the NSW coast.

Humpback and Southern Rights are the most common migrating whale species, but other species have been sighted too, including Minke, Orcas (Killer Whales) and even the biggest-of-all Blue Whales.

Reporting on the 2009 migration season, ORRCA President, Ronny Ling, said: "Last year we recorded the largest number of sightings ever, with the benefit of favourable ocean currents and weather conditions. With the help of more volunteers in 2010, we are hoping to beat that record."

Whales are in the news, according to Mr Ling: "We have been involved in whale rescue for 25 years and now more than ever people are becoming interested in whales. People realise it is such a privilege to have the whale's great, epic journey right on our doorstep. There is something awesome about these creatures, they touch our hearts."

What is Whale Census Day?

ORRCA census day is a non-invasive approach to researching the number and behaviour of migrating whales on the same day each year. The recording and tracking of whale migration provides useful statistical data. It is also a great opportunity for the whole family to get involved and observe whales in their natural environment as they journey up and down our coast.

Celebrating 25 Years of Marine Mammal Rescue

To register and report your sightings, just call the ORRCA Hotline (24 hours) on (02) 9415 3333. Pack a picnic, sun block and your binoculars (and a book on whales if you have one) and enjoy the great outdoors.

For further information visit our website.

What is ORRCA?

ORRCA stands for Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia. It is a community volunteer organisation dedicated to the care of whales, dolphins, seals and dugongs in the wild. ORRCA was founded in 1985.

ORRCA provides rescue and research services, including specialised assistance in situations involving stranded or injured whales, dolphins, seals and dugongs. ORRCA also provides a 24 hour hotline service (9415 3333) where the public can report whale and seal incidents.

Media enquiries: Please contact Ronny Ling, ORRCA President on 0411 673 773 or Shona Lorigan ORRCA media relations on 0404 851 267

Wednesday 23 June 2010


I am arranging a combined birthday party out at the farm. My mother is turning 80, two days before my Uncle reaches 92 and the youngest son is 26. So I have been on the phone ringing friends and relatives to inform them of the event.

I was talking to one set of Queensland relatives who live on a squatter selection that has been in the family since well before Federation.

When the selection was taken up in the late 1800’s the family arrived on site with bee hives, the only reliable sweetening agent that could be produced in the area.

One of my grandmother's fond memories was going to rob the bees with her mother - she was in charge of the smoker - and eating fresh honeycomb with the honey dribbling down her chin. Something I too have had the pleasure of experiencing.

About 20 years ago the neighbouring selection was purchased by the National Parks and according to the rello’s they have been quite good neighbours.
A few bush fires between friends were not enough to sour the relationship.

The month before I phoned he had received a letter from the National Parks stating that they had just became aware that he had European honey bees on his property, and that he is obliged to keep his bees out of the national park.

He wrote back to the parks official that he had gone down to the bees and read them the letter and, had even taken a map to show the bees so there would be no confusion about the borders between their land and the national park.

The bees, he wrote, have agreed to keep off the national park if the national park stops frog, lizards, birds, possums and other assorted critters from coming over to the hives and eating their sisters and raiding their honey.

He had just received the reply to his letter; it stated that the animals in the national park were wild animals and the authority could not control their behaviour and therefore could not stop them from entering his land and raiding his bee hives.
He was wondering how he was going to break this news to the bees.

They will be attending the birthday party - just look for the group bringing the mead.

Bee aninimation from Animation Buddy

Japanese whale research - it's just a meat business according to Professor Masayuki Komatsu, a former senior official of the Fisheries Agency

Asahi Shimbun newspaper in Japan reports on support for commercial whaling, 31 May 2010:

Q: But Japan's actual minke whale catches are significantly smaller than planned. The situation seems to make Japan's argument less persuasive. What do you think?

A: It is a problem. According to plans, Japan was supposed to catch up to 935 minke whales in the Antarctic Ocean, but actually it caught only 506 in fiscal 2009. This is because of sluggish sales of whale meat. Since it is unpopular with consumers, in an effort to cover whaling costs, Japan reduced the number of catches to maintain prices at high levels. As a result, the expensive meat does not sell. It is a vicious circle. Whaling countries such as Norway and Iceland are boosting catches. Japan, too, should shift its policy and increase catches to supply cheap and tasty whale meat at the risk of price collapse....

Masayuki Komatsu is a former Fisheries Agency section chief who was known as a tough negotiator when he represented Japan in IWC negotiations from 1991 to 2004. He quit the agency in 2007 and became professor of ocean and marine resource policy at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in 2008.

Abbott's at it - again

Pic from ABC NEWS

Stone the crows! Doesn't that bloke ever think what he might sound like to the average Aussie?
This is Tony Abbott in a carefully prepared scripted remark in front of a Christian audience on Monday; ''our civilisation is inconceivable without the influence of the Christian faith''.
Inconceivable? G'arn!

Then yesterday the media was full of this little gem from Teh Mouth; "Victory is within our ready grasp.......We are in reach of a famous victory."
When Abbott realised that his private remarks to party collegues were in the public arena he quickly fronted the cameras with this unscripted statement; "That's not what I said...."What I said was the next election is certainly winnable, but there's an enormous long way to go. It's very, very difficult to beat a first-term government - it hasn't happened for almost 80 years."

Sorry mate, I'd like to believe you but your lips were moving at the time!


7.30 Report interview on 25th June 2010 in which Abbott admits to the lie that which he had denied:

"KERRY O'BRIEN: Well, let's come to back to your credibility then if you're happy to test it. There's confusion about what you really told your party room on Tuesday. According to the official Liberal Party room briefer to journalists, a senior lawyer who one might expect to be pretty good with the facts on detail, you said, according to him, "Victory is within our grasp. We are within reach of a famous victory."

TONY ABBOTT: Yeah, yeah. That wasn't all I said. That wasn't all I said.

KERRY O'BRIEN: So you did say that?

TONY ABBOTT: But that wasn't all I said. And the fact of the matter is no election is unwinnable. No election is unlosable. I've always been the underdog and I expect to continue to be the underdog, but I've gotta say this: we will put up a very good fight."

Tuesday 22 June 2010

Tiresome tea leaf reading: so who's winning at the opinion polls this week?

So who's winning at the opinion polls this week?
Bottom line is that Labor is slightly improved on first preference votes compared to last week (but not nearly enough to gladden the hearts of its backroom boys) and holding steady on two party preferred numbers.
While the Coalition is basically holding steady over the same week on both counts.
When is comes to confidence in the person - both Rudd and Abbott are on the nose with the electorate and although Rudd's fall from grace has been the more spectacular over the last few months it appears that Abbott remains the most unpopular of the two.

And who would win if an election was called tomorrow?
With The Greens growing stronger and their preferences still up for grabs, it's nothing more than a guessing game right now despite what some mainstream media pundits might say.
It's worth noting that those serious tea leaf readers, the punters, are still behind the Government. The money's running 63.8% for Labor and 36.2% for the Coalition as of 18th June.

Betting figures from Pollytics.

The real winners in all this number crunching are the professional pollers who have us all convinced that slight changes in weekly figures actually matter.

In last Monday's telephone Newspoll 18th -20th June 2010:

  • the Labor Party held steady at 35% of the first preference vote and the Coalition fell one point to 40%

  • on a two party preferred basis Labor rose one point to 52% and the Coalition fell one point to 48%

  • dissatisfaction with Rudd's performance as Prime Minister rose two points to 55% and dissatisfaction with Abbott's performance as Opposition Leader stayed steady at 49%

  • the preferred prime minister stakes ran at 46% for Rudd (a fall of three points) and 37% for Abbott (a rise of four points).

According to Newspoll; "These surveys were conducted on the telephone by trained interviewers in all states of Australia and in both city and country areas. Telephone numbers and the person within the household were selected at random. The data has been weighted to reflect the population distribution. The latest survey is based on 1,147 interviews among voters. The maximum margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points."

Out the same day the Essential Report online polling for the 15th - 20th June was released:

  • the Labor Party rose three points to 38% of the first preference vote and the Coalition fell one point to 40%

  • on a two party preferred basis Labor rose one point to 52% and the Coalition fell one point to 48%

  • 40% believed that Labor would have a better chance at the next election if Rudd was not prime minister and 47% believed that the Coalition would have a better chance at the next election if Abbott was not opposition leader

  • the preferred prime minister stakes ran at 47% for Rudd (a fall of three points since 22 March) and 30% for Abbott (trading water since 22 March).

According to Essential Report; "This report summarises the results of a weekly omnibus conducted by Essential Research with data provided by Your Source. The omnibus was conducted online from 15h to 20th June and obtained 1,066 respondents."

About that war in Afghanistan.......

Photograph of Afghan war orphans from Flickr gallery

Remember when the media was full of concerns raised about the legitimacy of the war in Afghanistan and whether Australia should even be part of Operation Enduring Freedom or the War on Terror?

That debate appeared to die away over the years - now media and politicians barely mention the war except in terms of troop deployments or casualties. While as an election issue it is a non-event so far this year.

However, many ordinary Australians still hold to their views if the Essential Report on 21 June 2010 is any indication:

61% of respondents think Australia should withdraw our troops from Afghanistan, 24% think we should keep the same number and 7% think we should increase numbers. Support for withdrawal of troops has increased by 11% since this question was asked in March last year.
There was majority support for withdrawal of troops across all demographic groups and voter types. 55% of Liberal/National voters, 61% of Labor voters and 75% of Greens voters support withdrawal of Australia’s troops.

Click on image to enlarge

Australian Federal Election 2010: the refugee debate

Robert Tickner, Chief Executive Officer Australian Red Cross writing in The Daily Examiner on 21 June 2010:

IT would appear that Australians are a much more sympathetic and understanding lot than the current public debate around the plight of refugees and asylum seekers would indicate.
This is evident from the results of a recent survey of 1000 Australians commissioned by Australian Red Cross for Refugee Week.
The results indicate that:
86 per cent of people would flee to a safe country, if they lived in a conflict zone and were under threat.
94 per cent of these people would use all their money and assets to get to a safe country.
31 per cent know of someone who came to Australia escaping persecution or conflict.
83 per cent agree people fleeing persecution should be able to seek protection in another country.
83 per cent are willing to assist a refugee in their community settle in Australia.
67 per cent agree that refugees have made a positive contribution to Australian society.
On this evidence there appears to be a disconnection between the strong sympathy of the Australian public and the unsympathetic nature of much of the public debate around asylum seekers and refugees......

Coalition policy on refugees coming to Australia:

TONY Abbott says he will turn asylum-seeker boats back out to sea if the Coalition wins the next election (The Australian 31 December 2009)

Abbott smells votes. "If you want to stop the boats you've got to change the government,'' he says. His solution is a return to the Pacific Solution crafted by Howard, Alexander Downer and Peter Reith to deal with the Tampa crisis. If it is safe - which is unlikely - boats will be turned around. If not, everyone on board will be taken to either Christmas Island or another country for processing. Visas will only be temporary. The threat of being sent back will hang over people who have made the perilous trip by sea. And if they don't find a job they could miss out on Medicare and welfare. This last point is even tougher than Howard. (Herald Sun 21 June 2010)

Australian Government action:

KEVIN Rudd has frozen asylum applications from Afghans and Sri Lankans after receiving advice that people-smugglers were preparing to launch a new wave of vessels for northern Australia.
Sources confirmed yesterday that the decision, announced yesterday, came partly in response to new intelligence that people-smugglers were forming "new ventures" overseas expected to boost the boat traffic.
(The Australian 10 April 2010)