Showing posts with label Australian politics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Australian politics. Show all posts

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Cartoons of the Week

 Andrew Dyson, The Sydney Morning Herald, 4 October 2019

Mark David in Independent Australia, 4 October 2019

From The Guardian, 24 September 2019, Comment is Free - Get all your needs met at the First Dog shop if what you need is First Dog merchandise and prints.

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Australian Politics 2018 to 2019: as good an explanation as any

This is an excerpt from a version of the speech delivered by RMIT University Adjunct Professor Barrie Cassidy at the Capitol on 3 October 2019:

Consider this. The Labor Party in Australia has now won a 

majority of seats in the House of Representatives, where 
governments are made and unmade, a majority just once in 
the last 26 years. Once since Paul Keating won the 1993 
election. That once was Kevin Rudd in 2007. Julia Gillard 
didn’t do it. She won minority government only. And in May 
Labor failed again. Not against well-established Liberal Party 
heavyweights like John Howard and Peter Costello – but 
they lost to a government led by Scott Morrison, a 
government that Morrison himself described as ‘The Muppet 
Show’. And a government that lost so much talent from its 
front bench when so many moderates simply couldn’t go 
on any longer. 

So why? What happened? What’s going on? 

So much of went wrong for Labor is only transparently 

obvious after the event. But it’s obvious just the same. First 
and foremost, their agenda was too ambitious – too cluttered. 
Kevin Rudd won with a single-minded attack on work choices. 
Paul Keating with an attack on John Hewson’s Fightback 
document, Bob Hawke with a non-specific promise of bringing 
Australia together. 

Labor this time had a myriad of policy and political approaches. 
A combination of poor planning and poor salesmanship led to 
hundreds and thousands of people who will never see a 
franking credit in their lives, fearing they were about to lose 
something. Fearing it to such an extent that, faced with a blunt 
choice – franking credits or increased childcare benefits – they 
chose the franking credits. 

Now franking credits are unsustainable and at some stage 
something will have to give; the numbers in just a few short 
years from now will be compelling. The cost will grow 
exponentially. There will have to be at the very least a trimming 
of the benefits.

But having said that, it wasn’t sensible to go so hard right off 

the bat at the problem, and it wasn’t sensible to put the policy 
out so far ahead of time. It went out in isolation from the upside
 – the benefit to community – the revenue … the money that 
would then flow to other priorities. 

Here’s the evidence for that. The Age and the Sydney Morning 

Herald, to their credit, put out these numbers themselves. They 
surveyed their own papers and what did they find? The dental 
plan that was to be paid for with the franking credits policy – 
that got 10 mentions; the cancer funding, virtually free cancer 
treatment for older Australians – that got 21 mentions. 
Franking credits ... 700. 

That’s how big a start that issue – the negative issue – got over 

the positive. 

Same with negative gearing. It wasn’t just the policy shift – but 

what in their minds it represented. 

To so many it was an illustration of Labor’s inability to manage 

the economy; to threaten economic welfare. 

A huge lesson: you can’t take anything away from people 

without a very good reason. If it’s hard to explain then it’s easy 
to exploit. But more than that, the policies left Labor exposed to 
a government campaign built around higher taxes. They built a 
fear that taxes would go up across the board, to such an extent 
that an internet-led scare campaign around death taxes even 
got traction. 

In retrospect, Labor would have been better off running a far 

narrower campaign built around climate change and wages. 
The rest could have waited until after the election. That is not 
to say Labor should be forever gun-shy: too timid now to 
address long-term budgetary problems that negative gearing 
and franking credits represents. They should not be gun-shy. 

As I said, those issues will have to be dealt with, by either a 

Labor or a coalition government. But more gradually, certainly 
initially impacting on fewer people. 

But what we are seeing right now is a Labor Party knocked 

about by a shock loss and in real danger of overreacting … 
ready to abandon so much; a party that now seems hesitant to 
take on the government even on some of the bigger issues. 

Herein lies the dilemma now for Labor. Research has shown 

that at the last election – if that election had just been held in 
Victoria, NSW and the ACT – Labor would have won 48 seats 
to 37. That’s probably not surprising. But throw in SA, 
Tasmania and the NT – a large part of the country – and Labor 
still wins 57 seats to 43. Now add the capital cities of Brisbane 
and Perth – still Labor by 67 seats to 54. That only leaves the 
rural and regional seats of Queensland and WA: but there are 
a lot of them. 25 in fact – and 23 of those went to the Coalition. 
That put the Coalition comfortably in front. 

Now I’m not suggesting in any way that skewers the result. It 

doesn’t. The people in those rural areas are Australians too. 
Their vote counts in the same way as those in the capital cities. 
The point though is this. That demographic carried it for the 
Coalition. The rest of the country voted marginally Labor. 

So how does Labor deal with that? What do you say to 

Queenslanders? I recall 30 years ago saying to Bob Hawke: 
I’ve noticed when you’re in WA you remind people that you 
were educated there; when you’re in SA you remind them that’s 
where you were born; when you’re in Victoria you talk about 
your ACTU days; and now as PM you spend most of your time 
in NSW. What are you going to say to Queenslanders? And 
he said with a twinkle in his eye. I could tell them that’s where 
I’ll retire! 

But the serious dilemma now for Labor is essentially this. 

Do they abandon policies because regional Queensland hates 
those policies? Do they appease Pauline Hanson and her ilk? 

Do they make compromises simply aimed at winning back a 

share of that vote? Do they appease the regions of Queensland 
but in the process risk looking and sounding wishywashy in 
other parts of Australia? 

One answer surely is to be true to yourself. Back yourself to 

grow the vote in the rest of Australia; without abandoning 
Queensland altogether. Sort out what you stand for and be 
resolute behind those values. 

Labor lost the last election, sure, but by and large they died 

on their feet. If they’re not careful they’ll over analyse and die 
on their knees at the next one.

Read the full speech here.

Saturday, 28 September 2019

Quote of the Week

"The One Nation leader is a populist decoupled from an ignition point. Scott Morrison shouldn’t give her one"  [Journalist Katherine Murphy, The Guardian, 21 September 2019]

Saturday, 21 September 2019

Thought of the Week

If you combine photos of Australian political players Joyce, Abbott, Dutton and McCormack in a soup pan you have the makings of a simple borscht - beetroot, onion, potato and dill. [Anon]

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

It wasn't enough that the Morrison Government gamed the rules and began an unofficial election campaign months before 11 April 2019 at taxpayers' expense - the fiddle appears to have continued right up to polling day

On the morning of Thursday 11 April 2019 Prime Minister & Liberal MP for Cook Scott Morrison visited the Australian Governor-General in order to formally dissolve Parliament at 8:30am and call a federal election. 

Once that was done a reasonable person would suppose the Prime Minister, along with every other MP and senator, would be obliged to use party and personal campaign funds until after polling day on 18 May. 

That may possibly have been the original intent when the rules were first drafted but over the years that has morphed into a loose obligation to use party and personal funds only after the official political party campaign launch.

These same rules also allow government ministers to campaign right up to polling day on other people's money by listing the expense claim as "Official Business", as well as getting free VIP jet travel around the country.

In 2019 Scott Morrison launched the Liberal Party campaign just 6 days out from polling day - playing the national electorate for fools

So instead of using Liberal Part funds from 11 April 2019 onwards, Scott Morrison spent $11,540 of taxpayers' money crisscrossing the country and staying overnight to give his stump speeches as well as glad handing voters and the party faithful. 

He also spent $1,786.40 on travel by Com Car at taxpayers' expense during the official federal election campaign. Morrison even made a Com Car claim on polling day.

These claims were on top of the est. $1,961.79 charge to taxpayers for fuel for his own car in the period which included the 38 day election campaign. 

That is a total of $15,389.19 charged to the taxpayer during the official federal election campaign. 

If he was an ethical politician he would immediately pay back that money back. 

See Scott Morrison's expense claims here.

The Deputy-Prime Minister & MP for Riverina Michael McCormack was even more of a drain on taxpayer wallets.

He spent $9,544 on overnight stays for his stump speeches and glad handing courtesy of the taxpayer and, a further $1,769.09 for campaigning in his own electorate.

Then there the $4,900 to travel to and from his own electorate on Day 14 of the official election campaign.

Taxpayer generosity apparently also extended to $4,373.52 in Com Car expenses so that he could campaign in comfort.

Then of course there was the est. $2,659.50 charge to taxpayers for fuel for his own car in the period which included the 38 day election campaign. 

That is a total of $23, 246.11 charged to the taxpayer during the federal election campaign. 

See Michael McCormack's expense claims here.

Readers can find other MP/Senator expense claims at

However, if you want a quick summary.....

The Sydney Morning Herald, 1 September 2019:

Taxpayers copped millions of dollars in bills for flights, charters, hotels and luxury cars as politicians and their staff jetted around the country campaigning in the federal election. 

Ministers also kept charging taxpayers for travel right up to polling day, despite a convention that most expenses after the official campaign launches should be paid by the political party...... 

The records reveal that despite the government being in caretaker mode, cabinet ministers still claimed almost $550,000 in travel allowance, air fares and luxury car transport during the campaign period - for themselves alone. 

Shadow cabinet ministers claimed about $385,000 in similar expenses. Ministers usually travel with multiple staff such as media and policy advisers, meaning the true cost of those trips is likely to be many times higher. 

A detailed breakdown of staff campaign costs is not available. But across April, May and June, cabinet ministers' staff racked up nearly $5 million in travel expenses, and shadow ministers' staff had travel bills of about $1.6 million during that period....

National Party ministers spent more than most, with the outgoing Mr Scullion racking up more than $100,000 in taxpayer-funded expenses during the campaign, including $80,000 in charter flights. He declined to comment. 

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud billed taxpayers more than $65,000 for travel during the campaign period, including $46,000 in charter flights around regional Queensland....

The profligacy was not limited to the major parties, with Katter's Australian Party leader Bob Katter spending $60,000 on travel during the campaign, including $50,000 on charter flights. 

Former senator Fraser Anning, the far-right Queenslander who lost his seat, spent $11,250 on flights alone during the campaign, including trips to Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide.

Read the full article here.

Sunday, 1 September 2019

Australian PM Scott Morrison gets a slap in the face from regional News Corp masthead

The Daily Examiner, 29 August 2019: 


Be sure to verify statements before you take them with a grain of salt – even when they’re delivered by our most trustworthy Prime Minister. It’s probably not a profound statement given today’s world leaders and proliferation of fake news. 

But once upon a time, you could trust your national leader to rise above the spin. Scott Morrison’s response to the GetUp campaign during the federal election – which succeeded in ousting colleague Tony Abbott, if little else – was to smear the activist group with nothing short of propoganda. 

He has accused GetUp of bullying and misogyny – two words more apt for describing some of the far-right politicians who were targeted not because of their political allegiance, but because they actively blocked progress on environmental and humanitarian issues that, in the eyes of GetUp, shouldn’t be political footballs. 

As an observant member of the media with no political allegiance, but an environmentally conscious soul, I was on the GetUp mailing list. 

In this age of ruthless political tactics, GetUp’s consistency to their cause using fact-based evidence in an articulate, respectful and considered tone gave them far more credibility in my mind than any political party. 

If all you know about GetUp is how they’ve been portrayed in the media, then please read a couple of their releases, before jumping on the bandwagon. 

You might not agree with their philosophies, but they do play clean and fair.

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Meme of the Week

Doing the rounds on Twitter is this group portrait 
of the Morrison Coalition Government

Tweets of the Week

Saturday, 8 June 2019

Tweets of the Week

Cartoon of the Week



Saturday, 1 June 2019

Quote of the Week

“Big corporations can’t operate in a world that remains tethered to the permanent present of  [Australian Resources Minister] Canavan’s imagining, they have to plan for the future, and the future is carbon constraint.” [Political Editor Katherine Murphy, The Guardian, 30 May 2019]

Saturday, 25 May 2019

Tweet of the Week

Saturday, 11 May 2019

Bypass the Murdoch press and read Labor's policy costings for yourself

Going on the behaviour of Murdoch's News Corp mastheads during the 2019 federal election campaign to date, by 6am the headlines will be misleading at best.

Scott Morrison & Co have already begun their scare campaign in response to the policy costings Labor released yesterday.

Therefore I invite readers to bypass political posturing by both the Coalition and a large section of the media and look at the policy document for yourselves.

It is your judgement that counts because the responsibility to elect the next Australian Government rests with you, not with an elderly U.S. billionaire who rarely visits this country.

Thursday, 25 April 2019

When old political enemies go two rounds on social media

The fighting is getting dirty during this federal election campaign.

I think that the former Member for New England Tony Windsor managed to floor the current Member for New England Barnaby Joyce in this round......

Joyce up off the canvas for another round.....

Oh dear. Jab went home and Joyce now sporting a cut lip.

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Will Australian voters swallow Scott Morrison’s hypocritical volte-face?

In opposition or in government it didn't matter to Australian Prime Minister and Liberal MP for Cook Scott Morrison, he happily hammered home the message that boat people, asylum seekers and Muslims migrants were or could be a threat to the nation and to every Australian. 

This self-confessed admirer of Donald Trump began his faux election campaign the day he took office shortly after the palace coup removed then prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and, almost from the start there has been speculation that he was hoping that his rhetoric would goad someone into committing a violent act of terrorism.

These snapshots below are taken from 15 March 2019 televised remarks by Morrison barely hiding his glee that he finally had the pre-federal election terrorist attack he had been dog whistling for - even if the fact that this muderous attack was made on people at prayer in two New Zealand mosques allegedly at the hands of an Australian meant he had to do a 360 turn on who he could blame.

Snapshots by @sarah_jade_ 
 Mainstream media has noted the change the change of campaign tactics .......

The Sydney Morning Herald, 17 March 2019:

Something the Prime Minister said on Friday has been gnawing at me. For the most part, his statements in the immediate aftermath of the obscenity in New Zealand were admirably clear. He identified the victims: those of Islamic faith. He also clearly labelled the attack for what it was, a “vicious and callous right-wing extremist attack”…..

But another of the Prime Minister’s comments warrants attention. Speaking of the Australian gunman, he said: “These people don't deserve names. Names imply some sort of humanity and I struggle to find how anyone who would engage in this sort of behaviour and violence … He’s not human. He doesn't deserve a name."

I can well understand Morrison’s reaction. Watching him respond, it was clear he was moved, and disgusted. And of course I share that disgust.

But think for a moment about the implications of such rhetoric. This man is not even human, the Prime Minister tells us. He is alien, almost literally another species, and therefore illegible to us, the humans. He is not like us.

Perhaps, at the moment he fired the gun, that became true. But what about just before that moment - was he human then, and inhuman afterwards? Did he go from being comprehensible to incomprehensible in the blink of an eye? Of course the implication of Morrison’s words is that he was always different: never one of us, always already separate.

But this is a fairytale – and like most fairytales, it is there to comfort, with its suggestion that such violence must have nothing to do with the rest of us. The Prime Minister meant well. But what he said was absolute rot.

The point has been made elsewhere that anti-Islamic sentiment is rife in our politics, and that violence is its logical endpoint. It is a crucial point, it can’t be made enough,…. But right now I want to briefly examine another dominant strand of Australian politics.

A few weeks ago, the political world was aflutter with a single question: was this Scott Morrison’s Tampa moment? And we know, because Morrison told us, that he wanted it to be: “Australians will be deciding once again - as they did in 2013, as they did in 2001 - about whether they want the stronger border protection policies of…” and you can guess the rest.

The phrase "strong borders" is heard often in our political debate, but much of the time, especially when you live on an island, borders are abstractions – imaginary lines drawn on literally shifting seas. The vague and nonsense phrase is of course a euphemism, meaning "we are very good at keeping people out". And when is this an important skill? When the people to be kept out pose some threat. The beauty of "strong borders" is that it says all of that in two words.

The same goes for "Tampa moment", which in fact includes three separate events: Tampa, then September 11, then children overboard. Howard’s election campaign blended these events into one overarching narrative. The demonisation of refugees as ruthless people who would kill their own children and who might kill you was not a side-effect of the strategy, it was the strategy.

Howard argues that he would have won without Tampa. But it doesn’t really matter, because the real damage was not done at that election. As people like Peter Brent have argued, the real damage is the lingering belief that this is how elections are won. Emphasise strong borders, emphasise the threat.

Morrison’s absorption of that lesson is there for anyone to see. It was there in his comments in 2012 that asylum seekers might cause a typhoid outbreak. It was there last week when he warned that asylum seekers might be paedophiles or murderers or rapists, and when he backed Peter Dutton’s assertion that they would take housing and hospital spots from Australians. And it was there in his recent security speech, when he introduced the section on terrorism with reference to just one, specific type: “radical extremist Islamist terrorism.”

If our political leaders remain intent on depicting a world in which people from other countries bring disease, hatred, and violence to our shores, can they really be so shocked when it turns out that is precisely the world some people believe in?
[my yellow highlighting]

The Guardian, 17 March 2019:

There’s been less reflection on the fact that any 28-year-old in Australia has grown up in a period when racism, xenophobia and a hostility to Muslims in particular, were quickly ratcheting up in the country’s public culture. 

In the period of the country’s enthusiastic participation in the War on Terror, Islam and Muslims have frequently been treated as public enemies, and hate speech against them has inexorably been normalised.

Australian racism did not of course begin in 2001. The country was settled by means of a genocidal frontier war, and commenced its independent existence with the exclusion of non-white migrants. White nationalism was practically Australia’s founding doctrine.

But a succession of events in the first year of the millennium led to Islamophobia being practically enshrined as public policy.

First, the so-called Tampa Affair saw a conservative government refuse to admit refugees who had been rescued at sea. It was a naked bid to win an election by whipping up xenophobia and border panic. It worked.

In the years since, despite its obvious brutality, and despite repeated condemnations from international bodies, the mandatory offshore detention of boat-borne refugees in third countries has become bipartisan policy. (The centre-left Labor party sacrificed principle in order to neutralise an issue that they thought was costing them elections.)

The majority of the refugees thus imprisoned have been Muslim. It has often been suggested by politicians that detaining them is a matter of safety – some of them might be terrorists.

Second, the 9/11 attacks drew Australia into the War on Terror in support of its closest ally, and geopolitical sponsor, the United States.

Australian troops spent long periods in Afghanistan and Iraq, fighting and killing Muslims in their own countries. The consequences of this endless war have included the targeting of Australians in Jihadi terror attacks and plots, both at home and abroad.

The wars began with a deluge of propaganda. Later, the terror threat was leveraged to massively enhance surveillance by Australia’s national security state. Muslim Australians have frequently been defined by arms of their own government as a source of danger.

Two years after the war in Iraq commenced, the campaign of Islamophobia culminated in the country’s most serious modern race riots, on Cronulla Beach in December 2005, when young white men spent a summer afternoon beating and throwing bottles at whichever brown people they could find.

Cronulla was a milestone in the development of a more forthright, ugly public nationalism in Australia. Now young men wear flags as capes on Australia Day, a date which is seen as a calculated insult by many Indigenous people. Anzac Day, which commemorates a failed invasion of Turkey, was once a far more ambivalent occasion. In recent years it has moved closer to becoming an open celebration of militarism and imperialism.

Every step of the way, this process has not been hindered by outlets owned by News Corp, which dominates Australia’s media market in a way which citizens of other Anglophone democracies can find difficult to comprehend.

News Corp has the biggest-selling newspapers in the majority of metropolitan media markets, monopolies in many regional markets, the only general-readership national daily, and the only cable news channel. Its influence on the national news agenda remains decisive. And too often it has used this influence to demonise Muslims.

[my yellow highlighting]


The Sydney Morning Herald, 9 February 2011:

SCOTT Morrison, the Liberal frontbencher who this week distinguished himself as the greatest grub in the federal Parliament, is the classic case of the politician who is so immersed in the game of politics that he has lost touch with the real world outside it…..

The point of this story? Morrison is a cheap populist, with form. On that occasion, he was being irresponsible with the national economy. For him it's just about clever lines.

Morrison was powerless to influence the bank, of course. John Howard and Peter Costello gave the Reserve Bank independence to free it from people like Morrison. 

The bank raised rates three days after Morrison's comment.

This week it was race. Morrison decided to see if he could win some political points by inflaming racism and resentment. More specifically, he zeroed in on some of the most vulnerable people in the country for political advantage. Indeed, is there anyone more vulnerable than a traumatised, orphaned child unable to speak English, held in detention on a remote island?

Morrison publicly raised objections to the government's decision to pay for air fares for some of the survivors of the Christmas Island boat wreck to travel to Sydney for the funerals of their relatives.

Some were Christian funerals, others were Muslim. But all of them were foreigners, all of them were boat people, all of them were dark-skinned, and to Morrison that made them all fair game. Unable to tell the difference between the Coalition mantra of "we will stop the boats" and his emerging position that "we will vindictively pursue boat people suffering tragedy" he went on radio.

As the survivors were gathering to mourn their dead, Morrison said that with the government paying for the 22 air fares, "I don't think it is reasonable. The government had the option of having these services on Christmas Island. If relatives of those who were involved wanted to go to Christmas Island, like any other Australian who wanted to attend a funeral service in another part of the country, they would have made their own arrangements to be there."
All of them were dark-skinned, and to Morrison that made them all fair game
Again, for Morrison it's just a tricky game of politics and clever lines. A former director of the NSW Liberal Party, he inhabits a world where consequences for himself and his political party are all that matter. There is no other reality. He didn't care about the boat people, and - being as charitable to him as possible - he mightn't even have stopped to think about the consequences.

And again, there is a national interest at stake. Forty-four per cent of Australians were born overseas or have at least one parent who was born overseas. Australia is an immigrant society. Australia is a multicultural country. That is a simple fact. To foment ethnic, racial or religious frictions or resentments is deeply harmful to the national interest.

Kevin Dunn, professor of geography and urban studies at the University of Western Sydney, who next week is to publish a study on racism in Australia, says: "Research has shown convincingly that geopolitical events, political events and political statements don't affect Australian attitudes on race very quickly, but they do affect behaviour. People with a grudge feel more empowered to act on it." Racist abuse and discrimination follow. So again, Morrison was toying with a deep national interest, but this time, his remarks could carry real force. The Reserve Bank governor knows his business and ignores Morrison, but the vindictive and the vicious may feel emboldened to act on their hurtful urges. Who does this help?....

Morrison next day conceded that his timing was insensitive, but didn't retract his complaint. He denied that he had been influenced by One Nation, even though One Nation had been busily emailing and lobbying politicians on the matter.
[my yellow highlighting]