Saturday salon 14/1

1. Sussan Ley takes one for the team

Health and sports minister Sussan Ley took one for the team and resigned before inquiries into her expenses had concluded. Apparently while she was there journalists who currently have nothing much else to report on were digging into everyone’s business, like the four ministers attending the PM’s private New Year function.

Earlier Bronwyn Bishop amused everyone by saying that criticism of Ms Ley was socialism on the march.

Ley seemed to have a fatal attraction for the Gold Coast, and defended spending $13,000 on two charter flights on capital city routes to avoid diary clashes.

Attention now turns on who will replace Ley. Turnbull does have a serviceable secondhand health minister on the back bench in one Tony Abbott, but word is that Julie Bishop might get the gig because of the importance and sensitivity of the portfolio. Or it could be one of three Victorian men, Josh Frydenberg, Greg Hunt and Dan Tehan.

The entitlements scheme will be overhauled and a new agency formed to rule on eligibility.

Meanwhile The Shovel has reported that a new algorithm is now in use which automatically assumes government ministers are misusing their entitlement, putting the onus on them to prove otherwise. A special help-line has been set up with an average waiting time of seven hours.

2. Paul Keating slams Trump’s secretary of state nominee

    Former prime minister Paul Keating has rounded on President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of state nominee, accusing him of threatening to bring on war with China and making “ludicrous” comments on the tense South China Sea dispute.

    In a statement released on Friday, Mr Keating warned the Australian government to reject Rex Tillerson’s declaration this week that a “signal” needed to be sent to Beijing that the construction of artificial islands in the contested region must stop and “access to those islands also is not going to be allowed”.

Tillerson wants regional allies “to show backup”. Keating is saying we should have our own foreign policy, and so we should.

Meanwhile Republicans in Congress are warning that if he doesn’t get tougher on Russia they will.

They can, you know, legislate on sanctions for interfering with American democracy. I suppose Trump could refuse to sign the legislation. That would show quite clearly where he stands.

3. Will Malcolm survive? Mark’s view

Mark has written a piece Will Malcolm Turnbull survive 2017?

This is probably the central bit:

    Turnbull’s basic problem is that he’s been monstered by the reactionaries in his own paddock. There’s been an escalation from “sign away what you think” (same-sex marriage and climate policy) to “change your mind instantly when we say you are doing the unthinkable” (emissions intensity, the republic) to the new yardstick — “you don’t really believe it when you do the things we want you to do”. This is the sole purpose of all Abbott’s rhetoric about “centre-right” leaders and governments. It intensifies the test Turnbull faces, and he cannot pass it. No matter how much he gives away to the reactionaries, they can always say he lacks conviction.

Along the way he reckoned that my piece Will Turnbull be PM this time next year? was well worth a read. Can’t say I disagree.

4. Greens’ spat continues

    Two Greens parliamentarians have publicly defied their federal leader, Richard Di Natale, on the existence of factions and whether the Left Renewal faction, which aims to replace capitalism, has a place in the party.

    In an opinion piece for Guardian Australia, the federal senator Lee Rhiannon and the New South Wales upper house politician David Shoebridge argue that the Greens’ founding principles “don’t endorse or condemn capitalism” and therefore differences of opinion must be tolerated within the party.

Di Natale had told them to consider finding a new political home.

    He said the Greens do not support the overthrow of capitalism, describing it as a ridiculous idea.

Seems they are not going anywhere, and are not changing their tune.

5. One Nation gets a foot in the door in the Queensland parliament

Steve Dickson, a former Newman government minister announced that he was jumping ship and joining One Nation. He says it’s about an amnesty for the use of medicinal cannabis, the LNP say it’s about his own political ambitions.

Dickson was involved in a failed plot to install Tim Mander as leader, and consequently was passed over for a shadow cabinet position. He’s now a chance to become leader of ON in the Qld parliament, if the voters of Buderim re-elect him.

    A high-ranking LNP official said: “There’s a special place in hell reserved for rats.”

6. Kidman says it’s time to support Trump, Streep not so much

Nicole Kidman, who was born in Hawaii, raised in Australia, lives in Nashville with dual citizenship, says it is time to get behind whoever is in the chair. She’s not overtly a Republican, and says her politics is issue-based.

By contrast, Meryl Streep let rip at a Golden Globe award acceptance speech. What offended her was Trump imitating and mocking a disabled reporter.

    “It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter, someone he outranked in privilege, power, and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it. I still can’t get it out of my head because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life.

    “That instinct to humiliate when it’s modelled by someone in a public platform, it filters down into everyone’s life because it gives permission for others to do the same.”

    “Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence,” she continued. “When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.”

24 thoughts on “Saturday salon 14/1”

  1. I wonder if Sussan Ley will have to sell her new property now she has lost the extra income to pay the mortgage. That would be a just result for her dishonesty and greed, especially as she chooses still to be in denial over the facts (as reported).

  2. The ABC had a helpful article on MP expenses.
    There are many targets more deserving of the media scorn but they must not have seen it.
    Of course spineless Mal again hoists his favourite white flag and surrenders to the medias agenda.

  3. Surely what you meant to say, Jumpy, was that Malcolm acted with honesty and integrity, albeit in slow motion, by accepting the white flag of Sussan Ley’s resignation.

  4. No Bilb.
    He should have at least explained some of the ALP and greens entitlement spending on things like Domestic Fares, Car Costs of Family Travel by MPs that aren’t even Ministers Governing.

    Will Bill or Dick stand anyone down out of honesty and integrity, albeit slower ?

  5. Jumpy, all politicians need to move around and incur expenses doing their jobs. I don’t think there is any point in the public gawking at graphs like you linked to at the ABC.

    Journalists have been trawling through expenses, which are listed in detail and publicly available, then googling to find out what they were doing. So far they seem to have only found government examples which are questionable. The Labor examples of Tony Burke, Mark Dreyfus and Chris Bowen are very old news.

  6. On Item 2, the official reaction in China to Rex Tillerson’s challenge is that they don’t deal in hypotheticals. Let’s see whether Tillerson is confirmed and what the American stance is then.

    The Chinese media, however, have been like bees in a bottle. If the US attempts some kind of a blockade, then expect actual shooting.

    Turnbull, however, has been hosting the Japanese PM and has signed an enhanced defence pact:

    “For both of our nations, the US remains the cornerstone of our strategic and security arrangements and our respective alliances with the US are as relevant and important today as they have ever been,” Mr Turnbull said.

    “We will work closely with the incoming administration as we have been to advance the region’s interests and our shared goals.”

    Mr Turnbull said Australia and Japan were “all weather friends” and looked to each other as “a reliable and trusting partner”.

    Speaking through a translator, the Japanese Prime Minister said it was “more necessary than ever for Japan and Australia to play a leading role for regional peace”, citing the current position in the South China Sea and nuclear war threat posed by North Korea.

    Mark tells me that the rest of SE Asia has been moving closer to China for some years now.

  7. Re Item 3, Mark’s take on Turnbull’s longevity as PM, Google

    Simon Benson Tony Abbott has issued an incendiary challenge to Malcolm Turnbull, calling on the Prime Minister to dump the mandatory renewable energy target or risk signing the “death knell” for heavy industry as business and consumer power prices escalate.

    Abbott is also saying that Turnbull has dropped the ball on tax reform and federation reform.

    He’s setting the benchmarks for Turnbull’s performance in possibly his most brazen attack to date.

  8. There are certainly a lot of Greens that believe that the current version of capitalism is damaging people, communities and the environment.
    Some of these Greens may want to go all the way to ending capitalism despite the failure of the communist experiment. I might be wrong but i don’t think the numbers supporting this approach are all that great. But then again i live in conservative Qld, not NSW.
    Others want reform and the end of the “private is best” ideology which is adding to the problem.
    The Greens risk losing senators at the next federal election unless they can work out whether the best short term strategy is to look more or less radical and get the right answer to “why vote Green?”

  9. John, I had a chat with Mark about this. He says that nowhere in the world has a ‘green’ party emerged from the working class. Mostly they come from the upper middle-class with a few Trots.

    This raises the question as to whether they are genuinely to the ‘left’ of Labor, which also has plenty of members who would sit quite comfortably in a genuine ‘liberal’ party, if we had one.

    My text book on political ideologies makes the point that all parties have had social welfare policies, or you might say are concerned with social justice. Even the fascists.

    What I’m saying is that having social justice as one of your four pillars does not automatically put you to the left of Labor.

  10. Of course that Simon Benson item is in the Australian, so barely worth a comment, other than saying anything coming out of Tony Abbott’s mouth is utter miss-informing garbage. I would go so far as to suggest that this latest of Abbott’s offensive blurts is really an attempt to pin the blame for his eviction of the auto industry on renewable energy.

    Abbott is so toxic to Australian good government he needs to be handled with the strictest of Hazmat regimes and put out with the rest of the industrial garbage, while there still is some to decompose him with.

    Brian I would like to be more specific to the item but I have not yet power tool drilled my frontal lobes so have no desire to read the Australian. Occasionally I have scanned the Australian on the news stand but if the lies, miss-information and spin are redacted out there are barely enough words left to form a whole good paragraph, ie not worth the time.

  11. BilB, I usually only buy the Australian when the Newspoll results come out. Mark is with us at present, and he normally reads it on the weekend to sample the sort of garbage they are up to. Other than that they have a good book review supplement.

    I read the Courier Mail to keep up with the local happenings. It must be said though, that some of their writers are worth reading – Dennis Atkins on national affairs, and Paul Syvret’s opinion pieces are a bit Bolshie for a Murdoch rag. I was surprised that he had the handle of “assistant editor’. The front page is usually a joke, I think meant to reassure Rupert if he happens to look.

  12. Brian, not a criticism of those who must cast a wider information gathering net in order to be informed on behalf of others, ie yourself.

    I’ll substantiate my TTA condemnation with a question. Can anyone think of a single occasion when Toxic Tony provided a thorough and quantitative evaluation of any of his “policies”. I certainly cannot.

    Abbott’s modus operandi is to launch an outburst (never with any factual basis) of condemnation against some ideological target, summarise that into a jingle, then repeat it over and over until people who don’t want to think too hard about issues begin to repeat it believing it to be true because they heard it so many times.

    This is not government, this is self serving manipulation typical of lynch mob mentality. Abbott has no place in the government of Australia.

  13. Brian: The Greens tend to come from the educated middle class and have filled the slot that used to be filled by the Democrats. I don’t think that they have much of an understanding of what it is to be hard core working class. I think of them as Australia’s only real conservative party just as i think of the Nationals as our remaining socialist party.
    Not sure what the Greens or Labor have to do fight One Nation for the heart of the working class. My optimistic guess is that One Nation will decline once people are reminded that they are just another party that wants to look after the rich while using racism to get the working class vote.

  14. Jumpy: The super delegate system is one of the unfairness’s in the Democrat primary system. Then there are all the other unfairness’s in the real election. Makes you appreciate what a relatively good system Australia has.

  15. Good to see all these “New Australians” (as we were taught to call them in the 1950s and 60s) doing so well in politics: Palasczuk, Plibersek, Gillard, Berejiklian, Bracks, Wong, …. even Mr Katter claims some Afghan, I think…..

  16. New SS will have to wait until tomorrow night. Watched Federer clean up Berdych in the tennis tonight. Plus it’s hot and I feel a bit horrible.

  17. No need to apologise, Brian.

    May I note, apropos of ceremonial matters, that it is now correct to say:

    The Donald has scored!

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