Saturday 31 January 2015

2015 Queensland State Election - 31 January live cover links

Queensland Electoral Commission 2015 State General Election - Election Summary – polling results should begin to display after 6pm QLD time.

ABC Radio 612 ABC Brisbane – live cover on election night from 6pm to 10pm QLD time.

Televised Election Night Coverage: Queensland Votes - 6:00pm QLD time (on ABC in QLD only) and 7:00pm AEDT on ABC News 24.

ABC digital platform News & Analysis here on election night.

The Courier Mail Queensland Votes - newspaper cover today.

The riotous history of Lismore, New South Wales

Quotes of the Month

In fact, the speeds promised by Malcolm Turnbull’s current NBN plans of 25 megabits per second will soon be defined by the US FCC as the bare minimum requirement of a broadband connection. [ 16 January 2015]

How times change for Tony Abbott, once the Jay Z of the party, he has been relegated to dad band status: everyone says they love it but don’t seem to want be anywhere near it. [The Guardian 18 January 2015]

“I’m a Liberal Voter through and through…and I’ll always vote Liberal. But I have to be honest and truthful with you Mr. Prime Minister, you’re on the nose with Liberal voters and that’s a real concern to me, because I don’t want to see you give the keys to Bill Shorten at The Lodge….and the way you’re going it’s going to happen…. "You're the world's worst salesman, Prime Minister….It’s the way you do things like the Medicare thing…education…all the backflips."
[“Andrew” a Liberal Party voter to Prime Minister Tony Abbott during a recorded 3AW radio Mornings segment]

Friday 30 January 2015

Only serious illness could explain this statement by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott

The stress of this country’s top political position appears to be seriously affecting Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s health.

An inability to cope under sustained pressure is the only reason I can conceive for this badly-timed and impolitic statement made earlier in the day and quoted in the Brisbane Times on 30 January 2015:

Prime Minister Tony Abbott says he will "absolutely" lead the government to the next election and has described the strong performances of potential leadership rivals Julie Bishop and Malcolm Turnbull as the result of their "good captain".

Visiting Colac in Victoria on Friday, Mr Abbott was peppered with questions about his leadership, the future of his chief of staff Peta Credlin - and whether he would stand aside for Ms Bishop or Mr Turnbull.

Mr Abbott responded by praising his "strong colleagues" and "strong team" but said they benefited from his leadership.

"One of the reasons why so many members of the team are able to perform so well is because they have got a very good captain," he told reporters.

"It takes a good captain to help all the players of a team to excel," he said.

Are we witnessing the beginning of the end for Tony Abbott?

The Australian 29 January 2015:

NORMALLY, opposition parties are forced to cope with life in the wilderness. Not now. Today, and for almost 18 months, we have endured, enjoyed or been bewildered by government in the wilderness.

More disturbingly, the man in charge, so brilliant as opposition leader, so flawed as Prime Minister, shows few signs he is capable of leading his government out of it, and every sign the job is beyond him: that he is not up to it and might never be up to it.

The situation is that dire. Not because of a hostile media, a restless backbench or an effective opposition leader brimming with conviction or ideas, but because of the Prime Minister’s own actions.

Frontbenchers as well as backbenchers are realising it’s time to stop criticising staff and start directing the blame for the government’s predicament where it really belongs. With him. They now accept they have to convince him to change and if they can’t they will be forced to consider changing him. If their survival depends on his elimination, eliminate him they will. Count on it.

That is because ultimately Tony Abbott is responsible for all of it. He decides what is done, as well as who does it, he signs off on it or cedes the authority which ­allows it to happen, or simply turns a blind eye to it.

There is no guarantee the Prime Minister will perform better if he is forced to sack his chief of staff, Peta Credlin. Government insiders fear he has become psychologically dependent on her, a view supported by the private comments of friends who worry he would feel bereft without her.

Publicly his colleagues grappled with formulations to distance themselves from him after his decision to award a knighthood to Prince Philip without stabbing him in the front. Privately there was sorrow, anger, humiliation and as one said “utter utter disbelief” that he could do this to himself and to them. It will never be forgotten nor readily forgiven. Some were already doing ­numbers, apparently intending to impress upon him how much trouble he was in. After Monday, it acquired a deeper, more urgent focus.

According to one Liberal MP, the most obscure backbencher game enough or riled enough to put their hand up today would get 15 to 20 votes. Imagine what Julie Bishop could do if she wanted to…..

Excerpts from letters to the editor and published comments

The Australian (National Edition), 29 January 2015, page 11:

# I AM a long-time Liberal supporter and monarchist, and one of the barnacles you've just removed, Mr Abbott -- along with a million or more others. You don't seem to realise that where a lot of people will be prepared to go ahead with you, they won't be prepared to be dragged back into the past. Maybe you should have taken more notice of the reaction to your foray into the knights and dames debacle, among other things…..

# I PREDICT Tony Abbott will be rolled as PM by the end of this year. Due to his plummeting personal popularity, Liberal powerbrokers, with the exception of Peta Credlin, know it is highly unlikely the conservatives will retain government at the next election with Abbott as PM. He is seen as a private-school, university, Oxford-educated elitist more at home in the 1950s than today.

# the current PM is not suited to the job and the Liberal Party needs to replace him. The more successful PMs such as Bob Hawke and John Howard prided themselves on running inclusive governments where decisions were made by cabinet and then endorsed by the partyroom, not by the PM's office. How the cabinet allows his chief of staff to attend meetings shows a lack of collective spine. The PM is supposed to be "the first among equals", not an elected dictator.

# After what benighted Tony Abbott has done to her husband, one can only say "God save the Queen", because nothing can save the PM.

# Now that Tony Abbott has worked out the democratic principle of consulting before the event, perhaps we could have Australia Day over again? It rained, and I was laughing so much that I never got really patriotic, and what with the shark scare in Newcastle, things were dull in the harbour. Let's just call last Monday a trial run, a kind of rehearsal for the real thing?

The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Queensland), 29 January 2015, page 19:

# Tony Abbot's autocratic bestowal of a knighthood of the Order of Australia on Prince Phillip turns the clock back to colonial times ("I say, old chap, how about three cheers for the Empire?"). Tony needs to realise that most of us have moved on from those Empirical times. The awards given out on Australia Day are for "ridgy-didge" Aussies who have contributed to our country in some way (often by sacrificing much of their own time to assist their fellow countrymen (women) in some beneficial way). Even the lowliest recipient of an award on Oz Day would have contributed more to Australia than Prince Phillip (God bless him). What Tony has done in this instance is to totally devalue the worth and the significance of these awards both past & present. Let's hope Phil declines the award!

Herald Sun (Melbourne, Victoria), 29 January 2015, page 25:

# AS if it's not astonishingly dumb of Tony Abbott to confer knighthood on the Duke of Edinburgh, he then dismisses negative comments on social media as "electronic graffiti" and says the regular media are silly to devote any attention.
Wrong again, Prime Minister, social media are the voices of the people you were elected to serve but you seem to have trouble grasping that simple fact.
Please, Governor-General, do your job and dismiss him before he does any more damage.

# I VOTED for the "mad monk" thinking economic sense and good governance would prevail. Giving "Phil the Greek" a gong has shown he is out of touch with the populace of Australia.

The Advertiser (Adelaide, South Australia), 28 January 2015, pages 18 & 20:

# TONY Abbott was born in England and obviously that's still where his true heart lies, again illustrated by the ridiculous knighthood awarded to a member of British royalty on Australia Day.
As with some (not all) other English migrants living in Australia who love to think of our country as still a colony of the British and can find little in comparison that brings Australia out on top, perhaps he should pick up his photos of the Queen and take his love for snobby titles back to the "green and pleasant land" of his birth where the class system is still appreciated and in force.
The best we can hope for after this Abbott gaffe extraordinaire is that the move towards an Australian republic is reignited and our country adopts the courage of the Canadians who rooted out the Poms and now proudly fly their own national flag without a hint of the anachronistic Union Jack symbol of outdated British dominance.

# WILL the next two Abbott knights be The Pope and Alan Jones? 

# WHAT has the mad monk done now? Making Prince Philip a knight is like sending shoes to Imelda Marcos. By creating this knight, Tony has sped up his good night to the prime ministership.

# AS if it's not astonishingly dumb of Tony Abbott to confer knighthood on the Duke of Edinburgh, he then dismisses negative comments on social media as "electronic graffiti" and says the regular media are silly to devote any attention.
Wrong again, Prime Minister, social media are the voices of the people you were elected to serve but you seem to have trouble grasping that simple fact.
Please, Governor-General, do your job and dismiss him before he does any more damage.

The Canberra Times (Australian Capital Territory), 28 January 2015, page 2:

# I'd always thought that the republic issue was an insignificant one, an unnecessary change to our constitutional framework in the hope of some marginal symbolic benefit.
Then I saw the Prime Minister's announcement that an Australian knighthood was to be granted to Prince Phillip, and I reconsidered.
Isn't it ludicrous that Prince Phillip is deemed more worthy of an honour than any of the 22 million Australians who the Order of Australia knighthoods were (apparently) meant to have been reserved for?
What does it say about the Prime Minister's opinion of Australians as a people, and our nation's image of ourselves, if he could not find a single worthy recipient in this entire country, besides Angus Houston, to give this honour to?
And don't these questions only arise more forcefully when considering who should be Australia's head of state, which is surely the greatest honour this country can grant to anyone? What does it say of Australia that such a position is inherited by foreigners, with no input from the Australian people?
I am therefore proud to say that, as of Australia Day 2015, I am a republican. My thanks to Tony Abbott for coming up with such a persuasive example to show me how wrong I have been for so many years.

The Advertiser (Adelaide, South Australia), 27 January 2015, page 17:

# MANY Australians will see the award of the KOA to Prince Phillip (The Advertiser, yesterday) as an act of supreme toadyism by the PM. What a sublime own goal in favour of the Republicans!

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney New South Wales), 27 January 2015, page 23:

# Woke up on Monday thinking it was January 26. Then I heard Prince Phillip has been made an Australian knight and felt it must be April 1.

The Mercury (Hobart, Tasmania), 27 January 2015, page 15:

# I HAVE just heard that Prime Minister Tony Abbott has recommended to HRH, Queen Elizabeth II, that the Duke of Edinburgh be made a Knight of Australia. HRH is reported to have accepted.
As my wife exclaimed: "Tell me this is the First of April." My immediate thought was: "Is this bloke (Abbott) in touch with real Aussies?" My next thought was to go outside, find a rather large rock and hide underneath it for some time. Our Prime Minister, in my humble opinion, is a national embarrassment.

# Hilarious TONY Abbott has gone barking mad. So now we have His Royal Highness, Sir, Duke, Prince, Phil the Greek. What a hoot!

# WITH Tony's Abbott's selection of Prince Philip for a knighthood, are we expected to take the Prime Minister seriously any more?

The GuardianFirst Dog on the Moon, 27 January 2015:

One Queensland LNP state MP takes media lessons from Tony Abbott?

This is the most revealing political response to media questioning since Tony Abbott's silent head bobbing incident.

Here is Queensland LNP MP Ray Stevens in the Brisbane Times on 22 January 2015:

Seemingly unaware he was being filmed, Mermaid Ray flapped, waved and bopped his way through a reporter's question about his investment and consulting involvement in a $100 million Gold Coast cable car project.

Video by Independent Australia (Ray’s antics start at 2min 2sec point):

CSIRO updated climate change projections for Australian - east coast zone covering NSW North Coast

Decreases in winter rainfall are projected with medium confidence. Other changes are possible but unclear. On annual and decadal basis, natural variability in the climate system can act to either mask or enhance any long-term human induced trend, particularly in the next 20 years…..

…..There is very high confidence in continued substantial increases in projected mean, maximum and minimum temperatures in line with our understanding of the effect of further increases in greenhouse gas concentrations.
For the near future (2030), the annually averaged warming across all emission scenarios is projected to be around 0.5 to 1.3 °C above the climate of 1986–2005.
By late in the century (2090), for a high emission scenario (RCP8.5) the projected range of warming is 2.9 to 4.6 °C. Under an intermediate scenario (RCP4.5) the projected warming is 1.3 to 2.5 °C.

More hot days and warm spells are projected with very high confidence. Fewer frosts are projected with high confidence.
Extreme temperatures are projected to increase at a similar rate to mean temperature, with a substantial increase in the temperature reached on hot days, the frequency of hot days, and the duration of warm spells (very high confidence).
Frost risk days (minimum temperatures under 2 °C) are expected to decrease across the cluster (high confidence).
Some areas could experience around two to three times the average number of days above 35 °C under intermediate emission scenarios by late in the century.

Increased intensity of extreme rainfall events is projected, with high confidence.
Understanding of the physical processes that cause extreme rainfall, coupled with modelled projections, indicate with high confidence a future increase in the intensity of extreme rainfall events, although the magnitude of the increases cannot be confidently projected.
Time spent in drought is projected, with medium confidence, to increase over the course of the century.

Mean sea level will continue to rise and height of extreme sea-level events will also increase (very high confidence).
For 1966 to 2009, the average rate of relative sea-level rise for Australia, from observations along the coast, was 1.4 mm/year.
There is very high confidence in future sea-level rise. By 2030 the projected range of sea-level rise for the cluster coastline is 0.09 to 0.19 m above the 1986–2005 level, with only minor differences between emission scenarios. As the century progresses, projections are sensitive to concentration pathways. By 2090, the intermediate emissions case (RCP4.5) is associated with a rise of 0.30 to 0.65 m and the high emissions case (RCP8.5) a rise of 0.45 to 0.88 m. Under certain circumstances, sea-level rises higher than these may occur.
Late in the century warming of the East Coast coastal waters poses a significant threat to the marine environment through biological changes in marine species, including local abundance, community structure, and enhanced coral bleaching risk. Sea surface temperature is projected to increase in the range of 2.8 to 5.7 °C by 2090 under a high scenario (RCP8.5). The sea will also become more acidic, with acidification proportional to emissions growth.

A harsher fire-weather climate in the future.
FIRE WEATHER: There is high confidence that climate change will result in a harsher fire-weather climate in the future. However, there is low confidence in the magnitude of that change because of the significant uncertainties in the rainfall projection.
EVAPORATION: Potential evapotranspiration is projected to increase in all seasons as warming progresses (high confidence).
HUMIDITY: There is little change in relative humidity for the near future, but medium confidence in a decrease later in the century.

Thursday 29 January 2015

Liberal Party State of Play (Part Two): Tony Abbott, Prime Clown of Australia

Taking a second twirl around the Australian reaction to Anthony John Abbott’s latest political gaffe and cultural cringe - discovering howls of laughter alongside expressions of disgust.

The newspaper front page mocking the Prime Minister:

The political cartoons:

The Twitter response:

Abbott’s response to the public response in The Age on 28 January 2015:

But when Mr Abbott was asked on Wednesday if he owed Mr Newman an apology for creating the knighthood distraction with his captain's pick during the last week of a tight state election campaign, the Prime Minister shifted the blame elsewhere.
"He wants to focus on his strong team with a strong plan," he said.
"I suspect it's the questioners that have stopped him from doing it.
"My focus is on jobs and families and I'm looking forward to getting back to that as quickly as I can."

His principal media ally’s response:

Banned BTEX chemicals found at AGL coal seam gas drilling site

The NSW Government prohibited the use of BTEX chemicals in coal seam gas activities on 6 March 2012, yet it may have been used in 2015 or alternatively the gas industry is allowing naturally occurring underground benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene to escape into the above ground environment:

NSW Environmental Protection Agency

Media release: 27 January 2015
AGL operations at Gloucester have been suspended and the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is investigating after the company informed the authority that it had detected BTEX chemicals at its Gloucester coal seam gas project.

AGL suspended operations today after announcing BTEX chemicals were found in samples from its Waukivory operations, said EPA Chief Environmental Regulator Mark Gifford.

“AGL informed the EPA that it was aware of these elevated levels of BTEX chemicals on 15 January, but it did not make these results known to the EPA or the public until today,” said Mr Gifford.

“The EPA is very concerned at AGL’s lack of timeliness and transparency in informing us of these results and we will be conducting a full investigation.

“The EPA can confirm that fracking fluid additives used at the Waukivory operation were sampled and analysed by Government environmental officers in November 2014 before fracking activities were allowed to commence.

“These samples were analysed for BTEX chemicals, which were not detected. Identifying the source of the elevated levels of BTEX chemicals found in AGL’s samples will be part of the EPA’s investigation.”

BTEX is a group of chemicals known as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene. These chemicals can occur naturally in coal seams. The Government banned the use of BTEX chemicals in hydraulic fracturing and are prohibited in Environment Protection Licences issued by the EPA.

Contact: EPA Public Affairs


Newcastle Herald 29 January 2015:

AGL will not be allowed to resume work at its Gloucester coal seam gas project until it can prove its operations do not pose an environmental threat.
The state government ordered the company cease operations at the pilot project on Wednesday until joint investigations triggered by the presence of toxic BTEX chemicals have been finalised.
Office of Coal Seam Gas and Environment Protection Authority investigators are working to determine whether the toxic chemicals found in water samples from wells are naturally occurring or were introduced by the company.
‘‘I want to know exactly what has happened,’’ Energy and Resources Minister Anthony Roberts told a parliamentary inquiry that is looking into gas supplies in NSW…….

Steve Cansdell avoided humiliating defeat at the ballot box by not nominating

Disgraced former Nationals MP for Clarence, Steve Cansdell, attempted to spin his second thoughts in The Daily Examiner on 21 January 2015:

Click on image to enlarge

In the end when nominations closed there was only one candidate, so the by-election was cancelled and, the only nominee was elected by default.

Popular opinion is that people were not putting up their hands to serve as an elected councillor because democracy had finally died within Clarence Valley Council in October 2011 and, no-one wanted to be involved with what is perceived locally as dysfunctional decision making.

Wednesday 28 January 2015

AUSTRALIA 2015: for those who......

The year doesn’t seem to have started well – each day brings unwelcome news of one kind or another. So here is a little quiet joy for those who: have to go to the ballot box twice this year; cannot bear to hear another politician say “I promise”; despair that they’ll find suitable care for an aging relative; dread the next electricity bill; worry about what the future holds for their unemployed child; found out they need to be hospitalised; are worn down counting the cents at the end of the week and never hundred dollars bills; as well as those silently pleading for a decent break from January’s heat.

Labor and Liberal-Nationals voters really are like chalk and cheese

It would appear that the average Labor voter does have a different view of the world from his/her Liberal or Nationals counterpart.

Labor voters have a higher than average trust in the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC). Liberal-Nationals supporters have more trust than the average in all news sources - except possibly the ABC.

Labor voters have a higher than average trust in environment groups and trade unions. While Liberal-Nationals supporters have more trust than the average in institutions such as the Reserve Bank, Parliament, religious organisations and, in business groups.

Essential Report 20 January 2015:

Q. How much trust do you have in the following institutions and organisations?

Note: ‘Total Trust’ is an aggregate figure achieved by adding ‘A lot of trust’ and ‘Some trust’

There have been few significant changes since this question was asked in July last year.

Respondents had most trust in the ABC (53%), the High Court (53%), the Reserve Bank (49%) and charitable organisations (44%). They had least trust in political parties (14%) and religious organisations (22%).

The main changes since the last poll were for TV news media (down 7% to 25%) and religious organisations (down 4% to 22%).

Compared to the average, Labor voters had more trust in the ABC (61%), environment groups (42%) and trade unions (33%).

Liberal/National voters, compared to the average, had a little more trust in the Reserve Bank (59%), religious organisations (29%), newspapers (38%), TV news (33%), Federal Parliament (39%), State Parliament (35%) and business groups (33%).

Just the sort of prime ministerial car required for driving among Australian crowds in 2015?

Is Prime Minister Tony Abbott harbouring a fear of the Australian populace so deep that he now needs an armoured car in each state and territory, plus a spare, in order to feel safe? Or does he just enjoy spending millions to bolster his perception of his own self-importance?

BMW 7 Series High Security: This is the world’s first armoured saloon to be fully compliant with the requirements for class VR7 ballistic protection (tested as per BRV 2009 guidelines)…..The optional Professional rear-seat entertainment system provides first-rate entertainment, with two 9.2-inch colour screens allowing the passengers to watch DVDs, follow the car’s progress via the navigation system or go on the Internet. The system is controlled via its own iDrive controller in the centre console. A special rear air conditioning system is also available, and the seat temperature too can be adjusted, with cool air being blown at the body through perforations in the leather. And to complete the relaxing effect, there is the optional new massage function in the rear-seat backrests. If space is the measure of all things, the long version continues to provide the ultimate comfort in terms of legroom.

The Sydney Morning Herald 14 January 2015:

Mr Abbott's new ride is one of nine BMW armoured cars the government has bought under a $6.3 million contract, replacing the 12-year-old prime ministerial limo fleet of customised Holden Caprices.
The BMW 7 Series High Security cars were first used at the G20, ferrying world leaders around Brisbane, but have been phased into regular use over the holiday period.
The new V-12 prime ministerial fleet will be spread across the country and, when not needed by Mr Abbott, will be available for visiting VIPs such as foreign leaders and dignitaries.

The prime minister will now be taken to his itineraries inside the fifth generation BMW 7 Series High Security car, equipped with VR7 ballistic protection standard that was tested under the BRV 2009 guidelines. The car can protect Prime Minister Tony Abbott from three highest risk factors - attacks using strong rounded objects and handguns of up to a calibre of .44 Magnum, attacks using the automatic AK-47 and attacks using explosive devices and armour-piercing weapons….
it can shelter the prime minister from three possible risky situations - street crime, organised crime and explosions….
The contract with BMW involving the current fleet was the subject of an argument between Labor and the current regime. Apparently, Holden was not considered to be awarded the contract, while it was found that BMW did not even enter a bid in the original tender. 16 January 2015:

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott gets a fifth generation BMW 7 Series High Security car .…..
The vehicle has been built using strengthened steel that has also been backed up by an interior that is made from sculpted synthetic fibers that are hard and stated to be heat resistant. The new vehicle gets additional safety features like inclusion of tyres that remain inflated even when punctured, a self-sealing petrol tank, an attack alarm along with an intercom system that allows the occupants to communicate with people outside without having to open the doors.

Business Insider 16 January 2014:

Abbott pulled up in his new ride at the Prime Minister’s XI cricket match in Canberra on Wednesday. 

Tuesday 27 January 2015

Clarence Valley Council votes to abandon referendum on creating a popularly elected mayor - for now

Clarence Valley Council media release, 27 January 2015:

Council votes against February poll

PEOPLE eligible to vote in Clarence Valley Council elections will no longer be required to go to the polls on February 21.

A by-election was to be held on that date to fill a position left vacant by the death of Cr Jeremy Challacombe, who died with his wife Sue in a motor vehicle crash on the Pacific Highway last year.

A constitutional referendum was to be held at the same time to determine if the mayor was to be elected by popular vote or by a vote of his or her peers.

But when Arthur Lysaught was the only person to nominate for the vacant councillor position, he was declared elected and there was no need for a by-election.

Mayor, Cr Richie Williamson, said the referendum was to be held in conjunction with the by-election to save costs but when the by-election became unnecessary, the cost of a stand-alone referendum
was not justified.

At an extraordinary meeting late today, council determined it would not proceed with the referendum.

Cr Williamson said the decision was the right one.

“This decision has saved ratepayers many thousands of dollars,” he said.

The council’s decision does not affect the State election, planned for March 28.

For media inquiries contact:
David Bancroft Communications Coordinator 6643 0230

Liberal Party of Australia State of Play: "Well, we've just punched through the Earth's crust."

In which Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott blunders by knighting Prince Phillip and then discounts the public reaction on social media because “it's anonymous”. As anonymous as the votes cast by secret ballot at the next federal general election in 2016?

ABC News 26 January 2014:

Some of Prime Minister Tony Abbott's most senior colleagues are bewildered, angered and dismayed by his decision to award an Australian knighthood to Prince Philip.

Prince Philip and former Defence Force chief Angus Houston were named Australia's newest knights today, under an honours system reinstated by Mr Abbott last year.

Cabinet ministers have told the ABC the Prime Minister did not consult any of the leadership group before announcing the move.

Mr Abbott agreed it was a "captain's call", saying he consulted only with Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove and Order of Australia chairman Sir Angus.

Ministers said they would have opposed the knighthood, if asked.

One described it as a "stupid" decision that would make the Government an object of ridicule.

Another said the Prime Minister's colleagues were willing him to succeed, but he had started the year badly and had made the job of trying to lift Coalition's electoral credibility just that much harder.

"There is an old saying that when you are in a hole you should stop digging," one minister said.

"Well, we've just punched through the Earth's crust."

Another Coalition MP said the move reinforced the left-wing caricature of the Prime Minister: the appointment harked to Australia's past and the opportunity of making a positive statement about the future on the national day had been squandered.

The move to award an Australian knighthood to the Queen's husband has also been criticised by republicans, with former Western Australia premier Geoff Gallop calling it a "sad reflection" on Australia.

And it drew fire on social media from commentators including Canberra press gallery veteran Laurie Oakes, who tweeted: "Libs must wonder who can help a PM apparently determined to be seen as a joke. #jokeknighthood".

Answering questions about the decision at an Australia Day event in Canberra today, Mr Abbott said he was "really pleased" the Queen had accepted his recommendations on the knighthoods and added that whilst the Duke had not called to say thank you for the honour, he did not "expect gratitude".

And he said social media criticism of the move was akin to "electronic graffiti".

"I think that in the media, you make a big mistake to pay too much attention to social media. You wouldn't report what's sprayed up on the walls of buildings and look, as I said, social media has its place, but it's anonymous," he told reporters……

The Age online opinion poll 26 January 2014 at approx. 10.30pm

Click on images to enlarge