Saturday salon 4/9

1. Stunt of the week

Labor took control of the House of Representatives on Thursday evening in an attempt to pass a resolution to set up a banking royal commission. Eventually the Government mustered enough numbers to shut it down after losing three procedural votes.

It was a timely warning to the Government that their control of the House is fragile and Labor is going to play hardball.

An angry Malcolm Turnbull says the Government was “embarrassed, humiliated, excoriated”. He slammed his AWOL ministers Peter Dutton, Michael Keenan and Christian Porter.

I wonder what he said to Barnaby Joyce, who was seen scarpering out of the flight lounge at the airport.

Morrison called it a stunt for a stunt – the real stunt being the royal commission.

He might reflect, though, that the resolution passed the Senate. There was also a report that Kathy McGowan, a fan of the royal commission, driving back to her electorate in Victoria heard the kerfuffle on the radio, turned her car around and only missed the last crucial vote by seconds.

Here’s a pic of the happy government faces, courtesy of The Guardian:


Abbott looks relaxed and comfortable. I believe he said that the LNP was “in office but not in power”!

2. Cyber wars and internet safety

ABC’s Four Corners program Cyber Wars was designed to scare the pants off us, telling us “how hackers are threatening everything from your bank account to the nation’s secrets.”

David Glance at The Conversation looks at whether things are as bad as the story made out.

He points out that there was no actual evidence supplied for Chinese involvement, and the main story linking attacks to China was NewSat, where the former IT manager also stated that their network security was deemed the worst that a government security organisation had ever seen. Moreover:

    NewSat’s main problems were financial, with financial mismanagement and defaulting on payments for the satellite a major cause for the company going into administration. NewSat’s directors are now potentially facing criminal charges around the financial dealings of the company.

He’s not saying that what we were told on the program was wrong, just that companies like Apple and Google are continually building greater safety, that iPhone still remains a generally very secure platform, and that if we personally take the precautions we are told about and don’t get sucked in by phishing, most likely we’ll be OK.

I’m not so sure.

Scott Ceely says our biggest threat is ourselves.

3. Sarah Hanson-Young finds a new cause

Sarah Hanson-Young has been moved from the immigration portfolio to the education, finance, trade, water, arts and youth portfolios in a reshuffle designed to “refresh and reinvigorate the team”, according to Richard Di Natale.

Hanson-Young declared she did not accept Richard Di Natale’s explanation of why she was moved. She told the ABC’s AM that she had to respect the leader’s decision, but did not understand it or agree with it.

Di Natale said Hanson-Young would be a “formidable political advocate” in her new portfolios.

Thing is he signalled before the election that re-opening Australia’s international trade agreements was not on the party’s agenda. Now she vows to ‘blow open’ trade deals, objecting to investor-state relations, how workers are treated here and in source countries, and indeed how trade negotiations are conducted.

    She said she would, in particular, target the TPP, which is yet to be ratified, and investor-state dispute settlement clauses that allow companies to sue governments in existing and future deals. “Corporations need to be put back in their box,” she said.

In this she would find some friends in One Nation and Xenophon, and indeed amongst Labor and the Nats.

It’s a novelty to have a politician with strong ethics involved in trade.

4. Turnbull’s rating slump to a new low

The first Newspoll after the election sees Turnbull’s personal rating at a new low:

    Turnbull has a satisfied rating of 34% (down 6 since the pre-election Newspoll) and a dissatisfied rating of 52% (up 5), for a net approval of -18, a record low for Turnbull. It is also the first time Turnbull’s net approval has been worse than Shorten’s, with Shorten’s net approval up one point to -14. At the height of Turnbull’s popularity in late November 2015, he was at +38 net approval, and Shorten at -31.

Turnbull holds a 43-32 lead as preferred prime minister, compared with 48-31 last time.


    Voting intentions in this poll were 50-50, from primary votes of Coalition 41% (down 1 since the election), Labor 36% (up 1) and Greens 9% (down 1).

According to the Newspoll:

    the top priorities for Australians are for the government to deal with the country’s debt as number one.

    Coming in equal second is the sorting out of the same-sex marriage plebiscite, and the strong protection of the nation’s borders.

    The restoring of the Australian Building Construction Commission — and the justification the PM used to call an double-dissolution — was a “very low priority”, Newspoll found.

5. Lambie lets fly at Bernardi

    Cory Bernardi was “like an angry prostitute lecturing us about the benefits of celibacy” in his mock outrage over Labor Senator Sam Dastyari’s involvement with generous Chinese donors, Independent Senator Jacqui Lambie said. (Readers, it is probably best not to focus on a mental image of the conservative senator as an irritable and pontificating sex worker because you will never unsee it.)

    “Before I receive unfair criticism from the sex workers, I apologise to them profusely for comparing them to Senator Bernardi – I know that is a really terrible low-down thing to do,” Lambie told the Senate.

    “Prostitutes are far more honest, sincere, humane, compassionate and better bang for buck than Senator Bernardi will ever be able to deliver.”

Earlier she said a bit more, but I’ll let you read that for yourself!

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.

9 thoughts on “Saturday salon 4/9”

  1. Let’s not forget that it was Tony Abbott who set the stage for this course of action by refusing to provide pairing for Julia Gillard’s slim margined, yet very effective, government.

    It is a bit rich for Morrison to make any comment. But the LNP just can’t give up their propaganda approach to communication. I had to listen to some LNP doofus on RN parroting the slogan “Labour’s Trick and Games” over and over again, trying to paint LNP as being harshly done by and Labour as being the originators of these tactics.

    LNP are just a bunch of goons (in the gang sense of the word) with a slim grip on power. It is pathetic.

  2. Yes, BilB, we had expectations that Turnbull would lift the tone of political discourse, but he hasn’t. It’s an opportunity lost. But then he doesn’t have much pull with his own side and Morrison, Pyne, Brandis, Joyce et al are sad cases and incorrigible.

    So there we have it.

  3. Paul B, I think I heard it on the radio, so I Googled, and it’s in the SMH, Huffington Post, and this from the OZ (probably paywalled):

    Peter Dutton, already on his way home, being paged by frantic Qantas staff in the airport lounge: urgent message for the minister, your government is going down.

    Independent Cathy McGowan — who favours a banking royal commission — doing a classic Aussie U-ey on the freeway, and roaring back to Canberra.

    Missing the final vote by seconds.

    Seconds. That’s how far away this government was from a the banking royal commission they absolutely, positively do not want to have.

    What a cluster of ducks.

    I believe the Govt would not have had to act on the vote, but it would be embarrassing.

    Tony Bourke told Insiders they didn’t have time to alert the crossbench. I believe Adam Bandt had also left.

  4. Not directly related to this weeks topics.
    I was greatly saddened (to my surprise even) to learn of Richard Neville’s passing. Some of our readers here will recall Oz magazine and Tharunka. I was a very naive teen in those days and understood very little about anything. But I was startled and loved their journalistic approach that was humorous, disrespectful and incisive. Today’s “celebrity” commentators are not in the same category as the Oz-makers.

    Here’s an obituary that provides some insight into Neville’s life:

  5. Thanks, Geoff. There was a lot going on in the 60s and early 70s. I was aware of Neville at the time, but didn’t follow him closely, my life being fairly crowded at the time. It was an amazing time.

    At my age now people who I remember as young, vigorous and very much alive are dropping around me!

  6. A couple of days ago I had two links, one for and one against, and thought I’d do a quick post on S18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. I ended up with about 20 links, and the problem of corralling it all into a post.

    A few surprises, for me.

    Nearly there, but it will have to be tonight. Gotta go out now.

  7. In 1963 I was considered a wild radical at uni because i had a short beard (and normal length hair.) An article i wrote for the uni newspaper on agnosticism consolidated the reputation.
    Within a few short years we had sex and drugs and rock and roll and the likes of Richard Neville. Attitudes to sex, religion drugs and women’s lib changed rapidly and stayed changed. A good time to be alive if you didn’t get sent to Vietnam.

  8. Hasn’t Mr Abbott turned into an effective team player during the last year? Recently advising the Treasurer on superannuation changes in an harmonious assemblage; visiting Aboriginal settlements to see how reforms introduced by his Govt are going; and now endorsing wholeheartedly the new PM’s establishment of a youth justice Royal Commission for the NT.

    He’s even moderated his criticism of the ABC.

    Such a welcome and admirable contrast to the behaviour of that despicable Labor figure Mr Rudd, who spent months whiteanting PM Gillard, even timing his public pronouncements and media appearances to coincide with announcements PM Gillard was giving. Horrid man!! Disloyal, conniving, egotistical, vengeful….

    Let’s hope this Govt treats nice Mr Abbott more kindly than the Labor Govt treated nasty Mr Rudd!!

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