1. Turnbull’s political priorities
Waleed Aly in a piece written presumably just before Turnbull announced his changes to ministerial code of conduct suggested Turnbull’s effort in furthering the Uluru Statement from the Heart and in responding to the Close The Gap report was limp and routine:
- Meanwhile you could be forgiven for missing Malcolm Turnbull’s response to the Close the Gap Steering Committee’s assessment that the policy launched after the Rudd apology had been “effectively abandoned” by extensive budget cuts since 2014. In brief, Turnbull commenced talks on how to refresh the policy, and announced a new inquiry into the matter of constitutional recognition, to be done by a joint select committee.
Ironic that as we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Apology, Joyce’s affair bumps the issue from the front page, when Turnbull’s dismissive last year response to the Uluru Statement that a “third chamber” of parliament “that sits beside or above the senate”, “just won’t fly” with the Australian people, used words straight out of the mouth of Barnaby Joyce.
I recall that Pat Dodson, Shadow Assistant Minister for Indigenous Affairs and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, did not personally agree with the Uluru Statement. Yet he respects the process of several years consultation with Indigenous peoples, listened and is now crafting policies for Labor to put it into practice. Now we hear that Labor will pursue an Indigenous voice to parliament without the Coalition.
Meanwhile Frank Brennan recalls the apology and generally exhorts us to action.
2. Wholesale corruption in defence industries
Labor announced late last month that it would establish a National Integrity Commission to combat corruption at the Commonwealth level. According to what Chris Douglas told Phillip Adams (audio here) it is badly needed, especially in the defence sector, which in 2015-16 was responsible for $30.5 billion on contracts, amounting to 54 per cent of total government contractor spending. Mention was made of a Fairfax investigation last year.
Here’s what we need to worry about:
- “single source” tenders, where a single company is awarded a contract without having to compete against other providers
- government officials colluding to design high-paid jobs that they would later take up in the private sector
- paperwork had gone missing on 45 of 80 cases investigated
- contracts awarded without a price
- where there was a price, ridiculous cost over-runs later approved, bringing into question the integrity of the original tender.
Al in all, a little more important than who Barnaby Joyce goes to be with.
3. Cyril Ramaphosa sworn in as South Africa’s fifth president
Cyril Ramaphosa has taken over as chair of the ANC and president of South Africa as Jacob Zuma resigns. The ABC reports that Ramaphosa faces major hurdles to implement Mandela’s vision but has pledged a ‘new dawn’ for South Africa.
ABC RN’s excellent Rear Vision program has done a piece which answers the question as to how corrupt Zuma was. In short – completely, and he appointed corrupt people to every public body.
Ramaphosa, apart from being South Africa’s richest man, is widely respected and worked with Nelson Mandela.
There’s more at the BBC.
4. Angela Merkel – the private person
There is an excellent portrait of Angela Merkel on ABC RN’s Big Ideas program with Kati Marton – journalist and author, writer in residence at the American Academy in Berlin, and Volker Schlöndorff – German filmmaker and friend of Angela Merkel.
Points of interest include:
- Merkel’s famous statement “wir schaffen das” (we’ll manage) in relation to Syrian refugees was followed by one that translates as “If I have to excuse myself for showing a friendly face to a stranger, this in not my country any more”. This is likened to Luther’s statement “Here I stand I can do no other…” in the Diet of Worms in 1521
- Merkel is short on vision statements, but thrives on problem-solving. They said she is probably enjoying taking over four months to form a coalition after the elections last September.
- Merkel is not phased by alpha males like Trump and Putin. She hears them out and then engages on her terms, calmly and rationally.
- She presumably has a wonderfully supportive husband, but he won’t say a thing to the media. He says that history has no interest in him.
Marten and Schlöndorff are obviously big fans of Merkel. We are told she is the free world’s last defense against populism, xenophobia, and barbed wire and bigotry against outsiders.
In the results of the German federal elections the alt-right AfD got only 12.64 of the national vote, whereas in other European states similar parties can get double that.
Of interest, the Greens only got 8.94% and fell to sixth place in the party first preference vote.