Saturday salon 19/8

1. Australian politics becomes completely ridiculous

Laura Tingle called it a week of low, low farce.

Must share this David Rowe cartoon:

To help with the words, Fig 1 is the West Australian Bowerbird, noted for its shrill call and political preening. Decorates its bower with pearls.

Fig 2 is the Australian Lame Duck – one known predator, the Warringah Warbler.

Fig 3 is the New England Kiwi, not to be confused with the New Zealand Kiwi. Commonly found in farmland and Australian waterways.

Here’s Bishop on the attack:

Here’s what Rowe made of it:

Someone said the truth will make you free.

Cory Bernadi says parliament should be prorogued until we can sort out who should really be there. That sounds fair, apart from the two Greens already gone.

Nick Xenophon says he’s innocent until he’s proven guilty. Seems his dad left Cyprus to get away from the Brits, which is ironic.

Tingle says the government was in full panic mode:

    The bizarre spectacle of a government in full panic mode, throwing out foreign conspiracy theories, dirt about Bill Shorten, attacking local councils about Australia Day, and rebirthing budget bills in a desperate attempt to regain its political footing, has tended to overshadow the questions of how the complexities of the citizenship issue could now play out.

Each case may turn out to be different, so this may drag out. Seems:

    the Solicitor-General will only be appearing in this case representing the Attorney-General, and thus the disembodied interests of the Commonwealth, not any of the various elected representatives, who will all get their own legal representation.

It’s not clear how all that will work out.

    Equally, it is not clear who would act as the “contradictor” or friend of the court to test the facts of the five very different cases, and proffer alternative arguments which, on the face of things, would seem to be needed in the circumstances.

Labor has not decided whether it will appear. The states theoretically could involve themselves in the case of senators.

Richard Di Natale’s idea of an audit of the whole caboodle seems reasonable enough if we are not going to have surprises from here to the next election.

It will be interesting to see how the polls go next week. This week’s Essential Report indicates people want a government hard at work to help make their lives better.

Katherine Murphy says Turnbull shrivels in the spotlight as mass panic grips dead government walking. She said the government made itself a public laughing-stock, and governments generally don’t survive that.

To be continued…

2. Pauline Hanson’s disgusting stunt

Pauline Hanson wore a burqa into the Senate and then asked when the government was going to ban the thing, in the interests of security. Most think it was a cheap political stunt that misfired. Brandis got a standing ovation from Labor, the Greens and the crossbench. His own side were seen clapping also if you looked closely.

Of course, some will agree with Hanson.

Paul Toohey in the Courier Mail says her support in Queensland is falling, and she is nothing without someone to kick around.

Anne Aly told Patricia Karvelas that she personally is uncomfortable with women wearing the burka, but quite simply, this was not the way to express and opinion. Here we have a couple of clowns who think it’s a big joke:

3. Trump loses the plot in America

After Charlottesville Trump first criticised both left and (alt)-right protesters. Then, tardily, he criticised the extreme right in a scripted performance, which looked fake. Certainly the white supremacists and neo-nazis thought he had their back.

Then he freelanced in an open press conference, saying the “very, very violent” left was just as culpable. On TV you could see the frozen smiles on the face of his aides, one either side, with their eyes popping. There has been plenty said about what is happening over there, with lots of comments and links on the Saturday salon 12/8 thread.

Whatever we think, the AFR’s US correspondent John Kehoe reports that the country is being torn apart with Donald Trump feeding the frenzy. Two White House business groups have been closed down as business leaders rushed to the exit and are abandoning Trump. Many leading Republicans are horrified.

However, like Hanson, Trump is playing to his base. Today is important, because the alt-right, encouraged by Charlottesville, are organising protests in nine cities across the country.

If you want some ‘balance’ in assessing Trump, you can go to Phillip Adams’ segment Trump through his supporters’ eyes where he talks to Daniel Bonevac, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas, and Daniel McCarthy, Editor at large, The American Conservative.

4. Meanwhile Steve Bannon gets the flick

There is only room for one really large ego in the White House, so one had to go. The White House released a statement on Friday saying that Bannon and White House chief of staff John Kelly had “mutually agreed” that this would be Bannon’s last day in his job.

It’s been brewing for a while, but in the end his big mistake was to call up Robert Kuttner at The American Prospect to tell everyone what he was doing to run the country. See Bannon ridicules White House adversaries in wide-ranging interview and Steve Bannon Called ‘American Prospect’ To Talk About Politics.

This may actually be a turning point for the better in the trajectory of the Donald, if they can just lock up his mobile phone at night:

Rowe’s cartoons in the AFR are worth the price of the subscription. The caption reads:

    “Donald Trump has apparently given permission to white supremacists to come out of the closet,” says University of Texas political historian HW Brands.

40 thoughts on “Saturday salon 19/8”

  1. On the issue of dual nationality, apparently those with dual NZ and UK citizenship could go there and be eligible to be elected in their parliaments.

    Graham Orr, a QU constitutional law academic says it will all depend on whether the High Court interprets the intentionality of those who wrote the constitution, or go on the literal meaning of the words. Ironically, conservatives usually prefer the latter.

    There is also a gaping question why Matt Canavan gave up his ministerial salary, does not vote and has been given a double by Labor, and then when it came to Barnaby Joyce a whole different approach was taken. Brandis has tried to justify this legally, but it sounds like humbug.

    Bishop ended up giving a free kick to the Labour leader in NZ, and free publicity coming into an election as a relative unknown.

    Commentary in the CM today suggests that the brand damage to the LNP could make it easier for Annastacia Palaszczuk in the upcoming election. Comparatively she is looking sane and sensible, especially if the LNP is going to have to depend on the One Nation rabble, which is highly probable.

    Like Peter Beattie, Stacia could look to city Liberals as the safest bet.

  2. From – The Art of the Deal ghostwriter Tony Schwartz says Donald Trump’s presidency ‘is effectively over’.

    Scwhwartz, who co-wrote Trump’s infamous 1987 book The Art of the Deal, thinks Trump will declare victory and run before Mueller and Congress give him the shunt.

    While he was with Trump writing his book, he said the business mogul was thinking about “how do I do what ever is best for me and how do I get over everybody else,” he told CNN today.

    Could be right, could be wrong.

  3. Anne Twomey raises the question as to whether any decisions made by invalidly elected officials could be challenged legally.

    Seems that after three months of invalidly holding an office, the “de-facto officer” doctrine comes into play.

    This is a common law doctrine that protects people who rely on acts done in the apparent execution of their office by an officer who appears to be “clothed with official authority”, even though they may not validly hold that office.

    Now that the situation is known, their lack of qualification to hold office is “notorious”, and thus even more vulnerable to legal challenge.

    Labor is right, Joyce and Nash should stand aside.

  4. Brian

    Now Senator Nick X is the latest “ineligible bachelor” in Canberra, it seems.

    I remember now those days in the 50s when my NZ parents used to say they were “NZ citizens and British subjects”.

    NZ was a Dominion.

    Never really understood what that meant……..

  5. Being as how my Dad was a NZ chap and like Barnabi I was born during the aforesaid time period, I too am a NZ citizen.

    Never knew.

    At least it gives me an excuse not to stand for Parl’t.


  6. Ambi, I grew up in a district of ‘German’ farmers, albeit we’d been here about a century by that time. We had a Lutheran day school, with teachers trained at the Lutheran seminary in Adelaide.

    Nevertheless every morning we lined up outside to salute the flag and honour the King/Queen. Probably sang the national anthem, which was God Save the King/Queen.

    Up until the 70’s we had the anthem and stood up in the pictures, before the film rolled.

    In primary school I sat beside a large map of the world, which had all the British bits in red, and the Frogs in yellow. So I was very aware of Empire and being a little Brit.

  7. During my primary school years we celebrated Empire Day (mainly by singing Land of Hope and Glory and Rule Britannia if my poor abused memory is anything to go by). History involved only the red bits on the map, and even then not the big red bit at bottom right, which we studied for about a month only.
    I finished my secondary schooling the year that the Empire Games were held in Perth. Anybody who thinks those were the good old days didn’t live through them.
    Gough Whitlam and “It’s Time” was a breath of fresh air.

  8. Ah, Empire Day.
    Loyalty oath saluting the flag in the school ground; only Monday?
    Inter-school marching competitions.
    Drum boys beating the marching rhythm as we marched into school from Assembly.
    British V-bombers doing a ceremonial fly-over of Melbourne.
    Robert Menzies in the Lodge.
    “Pig Iron Bob” daubed on a railway bridge.
    Suez crisis, newspaper poster with a single word: WAR
    National service in the 50s.
    Red bits on the map.
    Roll-down maps hanging over the blackboard at front of class.
    Barber’s strap hanging ominously on nail at side of the classroom, so teacher could “give the strap”.
    Free milk in tiny bottles every morning.
    Ink wells and nib pens in Grade 6.
    Most Dads went by train or bus to work, or walked; very few cars.
    Ice man brought lumps of ice for “fridges”, by horse-drawn cart. Milkman brought milk by horse cart too. Horses provided cheap fertiliser on asphalt roadways.
    Coke stove, viscous dark liquid seeping from the flue.
    Asbestos laden “fibro cement” a common building material.

    This was suburban Melbourne, mid 1950s; a world away. In the late 50s the primary school Mothers Club had raised enough pounds to purchase a globe of the world to be proudly placed in the school library.

    The slow kids were isolated in a tiny classroom up in a tower. True dinks.

    The excitement of the century was the ’56 Olympics; Olympic Village was within walking distance of our suburb.



    Nostalgia just ain’t what it used to be.

  9. I have a book somewhere, The Fearful Fifties by cartoonist David Lowe.

    Primary school to 1953. All the farmers had dairy farms. Remember squirting milk at my sisters face (or the other way around) straight from the cow.

    I was just too young for conscription in the 50s (Korean war) and too old for Vietnam. Remember 1956 for the Olympics, but also Elvis and the Hungarian uprising, and the film Carousel.

    But mostly in that decade the threat from the H-bomb and Mutually Assured Destruction.

    Sputnik went up in 1957.

  10. A Green Senator noticed he was ineligible, being an inadvertent Kiwi, did the honourable thing, resigned immediately. Ditto his colleague, an inadvertent Canadian.

    Since then, the Basket of Inadvertents have shown an ever-increasing reluctance to walk the plank, or climb up the steps to Madame Guillotine…..

    Personally, I’m hoping that the High Court will find that Inadvertence is a Valud Excuse.. Eligibility should not be at the whim of another nation’s Parliament or Dictator changing their law, retrospectively in many cases.

    A law person said a few weeks ago (RN?) that every one of them was declared validly elected at the time, so is entitled to sit and to vote in the Parl’t, and if found later to have been ineligible, their votes cannot be cancelled retrospectively. Seems reasonable, and the only practical approach, to me.

    Auf wiedersehen.
    Au revoir.
    Selamat jalan.

  11. Bilb

    How did this nationality purge get started?

    One theory is Rhiannon, after being rebuked by her colleagues, unloaded her dirt file in retaliation.
    I can’t confirm of rule out the theory but the timeline looks to fit.

  12. Personally I doubt it was Rhiannon. I think she’s too busy trying to change the world. And her animus seems to extend mainly to Greens leaders.

    I think there were stories that someone from Labor, or the ALP, raised the question. There is not much love between Labor and the Greens (same with Liberals and Nationals) and it would not have taken much digging.

    Nicholas Reece, talking to Patricia Karvelas, related how much effort Labor puts into this area, employing lawyers to make sure everything is straight. Reece was formerly secretary of the ALP in Victoria and worked in Gillard’s office. They may have gotten pissed off about how sloppy others have been and decided to set the hares running and create a bit of chaos.

    However, usually the truth in these things is something you’ve never thought of.

    The issue has been well known since Heather Hill bombed out for One Nation in 1999.

    There are two noteworthy points in that link. The first is that the most vocal defender of Heather Hill was Bob Brown. He was right of course. People voted for her, and still would have done so if her origins were known.

    The second was the point made by George Williams. The High Court has found the UK a ‘foreign power’ so our head of state is queen of a foreign power.

    I have sympathy for Ambi’s view, but one part of me says that as a grown up country we should sort our constitution out so that it means what it says and says what we would be happy with.

    Problem is I think most people knowledgeable in these matters think that a referendum to sort this out would struggle.

  13. I still don’t know why we can’t have referenda on Constitutional issues on Federal election day, or a plebiscite or two.
    We drag ourselves to the polling booths in pretty good numbers and fill out two bits of paper anyway, why no four or five.
    It’s done in the US for State issues on Federal election day and I haven’t heard of any grumbles over it.
    Might speed up reform on Constitutional issues and give a more solid mandate on social issues.

  14. Probably, Jumpy, because referenda fail unless there is bipartisanship and the major parties don’t want to agree about anything during an election campaign.

  15. Agree with your comment, Brian, that as a grown-up nation** we should fix that section of the Constitution.

    I despair that many commentators seem to put referenda in the “too hard basket”. Not many succeed, but they don’t all fail.

    ** a description that often doesn’t seem accurate…. I wish we could aspire to be a grown-up nation.

  16. Jumpy, see the BBC on Confederate statues. As an organisation it it ‘truth-seeking’:

    Why the fuss over Confederate statues?

    It was not until the turn of the century, as southern states began to enact so-called Jim Crow laws designed to deprive recently freed slaves of equal rights, that the monuments began to go up in public spaces.

    The second wave came in the 1950-1960s, as civil rights campaigners demanded desegregation and equal rights for African-Americans.

    See also Vox, which is more blunt:

    Confederate statues have always been about white supremacy. That’s why they’re coming down.

    Then if you like there is the NYT, where it goes for balance:

    Right and Left on Removal of Confederate Statues.

    A point made on the conservative side is that it is a local issue. Trump should butt out.

    There’s nothing funny about it.

  17. David Mitchell on Trump’s performance:

    Apart from a brief interlude on Monday in which he glumly read something out about Nazis being bad, Trump’s response to the violence caused by an extreme rightwing rally has been to share the blame equally between the KKK-sympathising, neo-Nazi, antisemitic-slogan-chanting torch-wielders and those who protested against them. It’s broadly equivalent to making the occupants of the World Trade Center accept half the responsibility for 9/11 on the basis that they got in the way.

  18. Interesting analysis of alt-right economic thinking.
    Tl:dr – some of its rhetoric is anti-capitalist, sharing ideas with the far-left. Jumpy will be pleased. Or confused 🙂

  19. BilB, I did some digging and came up with this:

    Senator Ludlam said he had been alerted to the dual citizenship issue a week ago by “someone who had done some digging”.

    It is understood this was not a journalist or a political opponent, but a “very interested member of the community”.

    Earlier I said it could have been Labor. Then I reflected on Tony Burke’s attitude at the time. He was gobsmacked and sympathetic. He’s pretty straight shooter, and always near the centre of the action in the ALP. Scott Ludlam was widely respected, and you wouldn’t reckon he had enemies, even Lee Rhiannon.

    I’m inclined to believe it was a “very interested member of the community” and everything flowed from there.

  20. Brian, I had a recollection that there was a question about an LNP member prior to Scott Ludlum’s immolation. ?

    My question was posted twice due to my patchy connections while away.

  21. Brian.
    I think Ben Shapiro from your third link [ NYT ] has it about right.

    But lets see how this pans out in Australia.
    The is no doubt some folk here feel aggrieved at monuments to invaders Cook and Phillips, should they be removed ?

  22. BilB, my memory before Ludlam is not working for me.

    Jumpy, no doubt you noticed in your first favoured link that the author says statues are a local issue, and, effectively, that Trump should butt out:

    Meanwhile, President Trump is merely acting out of political convenience. The Left has tacitly broadened the “bad guys” to include anyone who doesn’t want statues of Lee torn down; Trump responds by defending anyone who doesn’t want statues of Lee torn down as decent. Because Trump is a blunderbuss and a messy thinker who has been comfortable with the alt-right, that means granting the alt-right its wish: lumping them together with the normies, granting them more mainstream credibility.

  23. Who is Jo-Ann Miller, and why does she liken her Govt. to that of Johannes Bjelke-Petersen?

    He of Splendid Memory….

  24. Relatively speaking, Mr Reagan was calm, measured and thoughtful.

    Somewhere I saw a photo of a motto Mr Reagan had on his desk:

    As long as something worthwhile gets done, it doesn’t matter who takes the credit.

    That’s an idea all politicians might ponder……..

    I can’t say if Mr Reagan lived by it.
    But sure as h*** I can think of plenty of politicians now who don’t, both in the US and all over the globe.

    General Haig was in the Nixon White House and assured some order amidst the crumbling chaos. Here’s hoping, 43 years later. And I don’t care who claims the credit.

  25. Ambi, I’ll say more later, but Jo-Ann Miller is a Labor backbencher, daughter of an Ipswich coal miner with black lung disease, and former police minister.

    She has forensic skills that make John Falkner and Robert Ray look like amateurs in estimates hearings. She’s the one they fear, rather than the LNP opposition. If looks could kill, she’s be dead and deputy premier Jackie Trad would be in jail.

    In the latest, however, she’s OTT, according to senior former Labor figures. However, she is a protected species and has the overt backing of the CFMEU, of which she is a proud member.

    That’s the short version.

  26. Ambigulous, I need to say a bit more to fill in the picture about Jo-Ann Miller. I haven’t followed her in forensic detail, but this is roughly the story as I remember it.

    Annastacia Palaszczuk won a shock victory of sorts when Campbell Newman pulled a surprise election in January 2015, at the end of the school holidays. Labor had been reduced to a phone box sized party in 2012, when Anna Bligh flamed out. No-one expected Newman to lose, but plenty lined up to give him a kick in the shins.

    Newman lost his seat and the result was a hung parliament, but Palaszczuk was able to cobble together a government, with the conservative-minded independent Peter Wellington as speaker and with the support of the two Katter Party reps, would you believe.

    Labor lacked ministerial or even parliamentary experience, so Jo-Ann Miller got a gig as Police Minister. Not sure of the details, but I got the impression she resigned soon thereafter to avoid being sacked because of incompetence. That’s the way it sounded.

    She is saying now that she had reported corruption in local government in Ipswich, a city of 200,000 to the west of Brisbane. Her electorate of Bundamba is Labor heartland in the Ipswich area. She reckons she was ignored and resigned on principle.

    Meanwhile Labor has lost two to the crossbench, one in Cairns and one in Townsville, each in a separate colourful story. The result is a northern ginger group of four with the Katter boys, so losing any more would be awkward. But as environment minister Stephen Miles says, every time they want to put anything up they have to convince 45 pollies.

    Jo-Ann Miller has surprised with her forensic questioning, and her principles, so when you have friends like her you don’t need enemies, as they say.

    On corruption, long-time Labor mayor of Ipswich Paul Pisasale was recently apprehended at Melbourne airport with $30,000 in his cabin bag. We know that he was doing it for a solicitor mate, but it was not a good look (and hasn’t been explained beyond that), especially since the authorities were moving on him with corruption charges, including extortion.

    He turned out to the media in his PJs and resigned, which was on the cards because his MS was becoming advanced, and now add to that mental health issues. There are lurid stories about developers paying for free massage parlour sessions, and such.

    Turns out former ALP party president Dick Williams during his stint at the helm from 2012 to 2016 had initiated proceedings to expel both Miller and Pisasale for bringing the party into disrepute. In the event nothing happened.

    Anyway the idea that what went on was in any way comparable to the corruption under Joh Bjelke (I don’t think Joh was directly involved, but that is another story) is ludicrous. It looks like revenge, but there are suggestions Miller is trying to bully her way back into a ministry.

    Whatever her other skills, my impression is that her administrative skills may be worse than zero.

    Anyway, former Labor speaker John Mickel, says she consider whether she wants to be a Labor person, and if so should act like one. Mickel has a reputation of good insights and impeccable ethics, so I’d say she has crossed a line.

    Palaszczuk, however, does not want to lose control over events, so she’s saying, it’s just Jo-Ann being Jo-Ann. I think she wants to go to the electorate on her own terms.

    So with a bit of luck it will all settle, but in Queensland you never know.

    There is a bit at SBS, and a longer CM piece CFMEU warns dumping rogue MP Jo-Ann Miller could cost Labor Government power which seems to be available at the Tele.

  27. [QLD also is free of a Senate so the pace of events is far quicker, sometimes blinding quick . Just sayin.]

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