1. Leaders summit
On Wednesday, prior to COAG on Thursday, our political leaders held a summit or retreat to dicuss taxation and the future of the federation. By all accounts they enjoyed the talkfest – Jay Weatherall said it was “very positive” and that “in my sense and my operation in COAG over the last five years, this is probably the most constructive I have ever seen”.
Despite that there is no evidence they actually decided anything except lowering the threshold at which the GST applies to offshore online purchases.
On taxation, Abbott still has a preference for raising the GST rather than increasing the Medicare levy. Joe Hockey, who wasn’t there, is still talking about tax cuts, for the rich, rather than raising taxes. Mike Steketee outlines what they really need to think about if they get serious.
By the end of Thursday they also agreed on:
- A new terror alert system
- An ice (methamphetamine) strategy, including early intervention, and support for local communities
- The Northern Territory won backing to become a state
- Domestic violence – a $30 million campaign and teaching about domestic violence in the national curriculum.
2. ALP conference
Laura Tingle reckons Shorten is carrying a large number of unexploded bombs into the conference: asylum seekers; climate change; union power; the Chinese FTA; same-sex marriage.
The biggest bomb is turning back the boats, where a motion will be put banning turnbacks from Labor’s policy. Michelle Grattan, and others, think Shorten has effectively put his leadership on the line:
- Bill Shorten’s authority is on the line as he struggles to reverse Labor’s opposition to turning back asylum seeker boats. A rebuff by the party’s national conference, which opens in Melbourne on Friday, would be a disaster for the already embattled leader. If Shorten lost this fight, his leadership would be shredded.
Think captain’s pick, she says. They’ll probably give it to him, but Albanese and others were very upset and it may well be close.
Katherine Murphy says the issue is breaking Labor’s heart.
In political terms, Bernard Keane says the policy is a no-brainer. Without it Shorten may well lose the election. Accepting turnbacks will take asylum seeker policy out of play.
Ethically it could work if Australia had deeper engagement with countries like Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, as suggested by Paul Power, Chief Executive Officer of the Refugee Council of Australia. This would include rendering assistance to those countries and taking a large share of our refugees from those sources.
3. Who would have thought of Jeremy Corbyn to lead UK Labour?
Not Jeremy, apparently. Seems he only ran to stir things up.
His rivals, it seems, are all pale centrists. Genuinely from the left, Corbyn stands out. Also parties on the left have done well recently in Scotland, Greece and Spain.
John Gaffney reckons Corbyn is stealing the show because he’s the only candidate saying anything at all.
- What is Corbyn talking about? Everything. More importantly, he embodies a wide and deep tradition in the UK left that we can all recognise and engage with. And, more importantly still, he does it with elegance, conviction, modesty and intellectual coherence.
Well he’s ahead of the other Republican candidates in the opinion polls. One view:
- “He is an entertainer. He is a showman. He is a clown in a fancy hat, strutting the stage for a few minutes, and then the serious actors will come on the stage in a little while.”
- Donald Trump has made headlines with inane nonsense for years, and his brash, offensive style seems to be part of his “I’m not a politician” appeal.
He’s going to be hard for the GOP to discredit. And he’s threatening to run as a third party candidate, if not selected.
Only in America!
Meanwhile President Obama sat down with six non-violent drug offenders and vowed to reform the broken criminal justice system where:
- More than 1.5 million Americans were in state or federal prisons at the end of 2013, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. African-Americans were 15 percent of the U.S. population at that time but accounted for about a third of its prisoners.
- the criminal justice system should do a better job of discerning between young drug offenders from poor backgrounds and hardened, violent criminals.
“We have to consider whether this is the smartest way for us to control crime and rehabilitate individuals,” Obama said.
Now, if he could fix their gun laws…
Introduction to Saturday salon
Because of the way the blog currently presents posts on the home page I think it’s better to remove the introductory material to a different place. For new readers, here’s the rationale for this space.
An open thread where, at your leisure, you can discuss anything you like, well, within reason and the Comments Policy. Include here news and views, plus any notable personal experiences from the week and the weekend.
For climate topics please use the most recent Climate clippings.
The gentleman in the image is Voltaire, who for a time graced the court of Frederick II of Prussia, known as Frederick the Great. King Fred loved to talk about the universe and everything at the end of a day’s work. He also used the salons of Berlin to get feedback in the development of public policy.
Fred would only talk in French; he regarded German as barbaric. Here we’ll use English.
The thread will be a stoush-free zone. The Comments Policy says:
The aim [of this site] is to provide a venue for people to contribute and to engage in a civil and respectful manner.