Saturday salon 15/8

Whatever happens now, the royal commission is crippled

That’s the view of Laura Tingle in the AFR. She has plenty support.

Judges have to appear impartial. Justice Dyson Heydon has said so very forcefully in the past as a judge.

Whether the event was a fundraiser is irrelevant, it was a Liberal Party event. Justice Heydon admitted this by saying that he would not be proceeding to give the Sir Garfield Barwick address “if there was any possibility that the event could be described as a Liberal Party event”. The fact that he committed himself and withdrew so late may constitute a problem.

The Government is sticking with him, but there is a possibility that he could be removed by a High Court action initiated by one of the unions or other affected parties, who are considering their options.

This ABC explainer suggests that if Justice Heydon goes, the Commission dies. A new Commissioner could not work off the transcripts. Any attempt to continue it would need enabling legislation which would have to pass the senate.

If there is no legal action and the Commission continues, it is now easier to discredit.

Richard Ackland takes a look at Justice Heydon’s conservative world view. The bias looks real.

Is the Abbott Government in a death spiral?

Laura Tingle suggests it is:

    If you hang around in Canberra long enough, you start to recognise the point where a government has become terminal, where the death spiral is irretrievable. It’s got nothing to do with the polls, or leadership rumblings.

    It’s the point where the sheer stupidity of its decisions is so obvious, so craven, so contradictory, that everyone involved – ministers, backbenchers, the opposition, the media, voters – just know it can’t go on like this.

Bernard Keane at Crikey says:

    After a week in which the government appeared to be conducting a kind of bungle Olympiad, with dud policies, clunky politicking and straight incompetence on constant loop, it’s a little difficult to resist settling for the obvious analysis that this is a level of near-Whitlamesque chaos of a government that is in its death throes.

Tingle says you knew Howard was gone when he pledged $9 billion of spending in just one campaign speech. You knew Rudd was gone when he suggested moving the Jervis Bay naval base to Queensland. The point of recognition doesn’t usually come this early. She too thinks the current situation is Whitlamesque.

Same sex marriage

Abbott’s ineptness is illustrated by his handling of the same-sex marriage issue. Abbott knew that Warren Entsch planned to introduce a same-sex marriage bill into Parliament when it resumed. He should have worked with Entsch and Cabinet to develop a strategy. Instead he called an unmanageable joint party meeting and blundered through, leaving almost everyone bruised and dissatisfied.

Tingle again:

    Coalition MPs recognise that Tony Abbott’s suggestion this week that the issue of same-sex marriage issue should go to “the people” was a purely political gambit to get it off the agenda short-term, shore up his support with conservatives in the party room, and bury it all together long-term.

    But the glaring tactical flaws in this idea – the belief it would both stop the debate and could somehow stop same-sex marriage being an election issue – are so spectacular that even some of those close to Abbott are scathing.

Now the notion of making it a referendum rather than a plebiscite when no constitutional issues are involved pleases only those who want to see it fail.

Bernie Sanders heads Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire poll

Bernie Sanders has given the Clinton campaign a fright by snatching a 44-37 lead in a New Hampshire poll. Democrat voters are said to be luke warm about Clinton. At this stage she is still expected to win the nomination by a fair margin, but life could get interesting!

Commonwealth Bank hits head winds

CBA, our biggest bank, announced a record profit of around $9.1 billion. However, life is tough for bankers at present. The profit was only a 5% improvement, which masked an actual decline in the past 6 months. Mainly the problem lies with the housing market, where competition is driving down interest rates.

Before we cheer at their discomfort, we need profitable banks in a capitalist economy.

Spare a thought for the Chinese communist capitalists also. Their currency just fell out of bed:

Chinese yuan_1439538475811_600

No-one seems to know what it means, except the Chinese economy is in some trouble, and those who are meant to be in control aren’t. We should worry.

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.

One thought on “Saturday salon 15/8”

  1. Am I really First on Saturday Salon? 🙂

    Is the Abbott Government in a death spiral?
    My oath it is.

    There’s an old saying, “When the fox is caught, the hounds are cooked”.

    The Abbott Government has served its purpose: the FTA with China has been signed (though 10 years of negotiations weren’t as good as 10 minutes of exercising common sense) and all sorts of other sell-outs have happened and are irreversible. Our precious sovereignty has gone forever and Australia is being “carved up like a melon”.

    A Double Dissolution would be nice but unlikely. My guess is we will hear about a typical Liberal Party application of sharp cutlery to the incumbent leader’s back, this time without all the usual lying assertions of undying loyalty but with astonishing abruptness.

    The new Prime Minister will almost certainly be Andrew Robb. I watched – with disgust – the recent broadcast of his address to the National Press Club where he praised to the skies all the Unequal Treaties dressed up as trade deals. Others, far more influential than any of us, would have been watching too and smiling; “That’s my boy!!”. Never mind the procedures and traditions of the Parliament and of the political parties, they can be twisted so as to put the thoroughly reliable politician into the top job and keep everything running smoothly. Grooming of reliable politicians in the ALP will continue apace so that the fiction of democracy(??) is preserved.

    Tony Abbott? Who is Tony Abbott? Heard the name somewhere before – which team does he play for?

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