Weekly salon 21/10

1. The Liberal Party has been taken over by “extremists” of the hard right

That’s the message from Malcolm Turnbull’s son Alex:

    “This (leadership spill) isn’t exactly a first for Australian politics, but it does lead you to the conclusion that a stable government might not be as stable as some people would like you to think,” he said.

    “To me, this particular event seems to show the Liberal party has been taken over, frankly from extremists on the hard right who aren’t particularly motivated to win an election and aren’t particularly motivated to serve the general public – they just want to pursue a crazy agenda.”

He then turned to energy policy:

    “…there is no way coal can compete anymore, renewables have gotten too cheap, firming costs are reasonable, and really there is no trade-off anymore to lowering your power bills and reducing emissions,” he said.

He then said there was one way voters of Wentworth could intervene to “pull the Liberal Party back from the brink”. Don’t vote for the Liberal Party.

Sensible man.

2. Poll points to 19-seat hit for Coalition, WA worsens

That’s a headline from the AFR which appeared online, but somehow did not make it to the dead tree version. Here’s the state by state graphic:

After the expansion to 151 seats and redistribution in SA and Victoria the ALP will start the election campaign next year with a notional 71 seats, the Coalition 75 seats and there are five crossbenchers.

The gain in SA/NT for the LNP gives it no extra seats if evenly distributed.

In WA Pearce, held by Attorney-General Christian Porter, Hasluck, held by Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt, and Swan, held by Steve Irons could go to Labor.

In Qld Labor could gain Dickson, held by Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, as well as Capricornia, Forde, Flynn, Petrie, Dawson, Bonner, Leichhardt and Brisbane.

In NSW Labor could gain Banks, held by Immigration Minister David Coleman, as well as Gilmore, Robertson and Page.

In Victoria, now 56-44 to Labor, the seats of Corangamite, Chisholm and La Trobe could fall.

    Nationally, Labor leads the Coalition by 53 per cent to 47 per cent.

    Labor’s primary vote on an aggregate basis is 34 per cent, slightly down from 35 per cent at the election, and the Coalition’s primary vote is 35 per cent, a slump from the 42 per cent it received at the election. The Greens are on 13 per cent, up from 10 per cent on election day, and One Nation is on 7 per cent.

The poll doesn’t help in relation to Tasmania or The Greens, but if The Greens improve from 10 to 13 they could be a chance here and there.

Essential Report also has Labor steady on 53-47 TPP (whole report here). The Greens are on 10.

Newspoll should be out this week, so we’ll see how that goes.

3. Philip Ruddock’s religious freedom review

Seems the Government wanted to keep this in the can until after the Wentworth by-election. Bits were leaked, and David Marr for one was blunt:

    Let’s face it: throwing kids out of school for being gay is disgusting. Not for a long, long time has such an idea been respectable in this country. But in 2018 Philip Ruddock’s religious freedom review has kept it on the table.

    This isn’t about freedom. It’s cruelty.

    Ruddock’s team should have knocked it on the head instead of recommending a few protections. And politicians calling, pathetically, for no fresh laws allowing faith schools to expel gay kids should be demanding the practice ends right now everywhere in Australia.

Derryn Hinch said Strip funding from private schools that exclude gay teachers, students.

Should our money be funding bigotry?

Scott Morrison, for whatever reason has announced that he will legislate to stop schools excluding gay students, overriding state legislation which varies around the country, and will write to Shorten to invite Labor to work on a bipartisan approach.

Watching Insiders this morning, there is little doubt that this issue has been an own goal for those who started it. Also, it really would not have been resolved in the way it has been absent Wentworth.

No mention of teachers, however, and laws will not stop bigotry. Consider the story of Jess, who was the secretly gay captain of a private Christian school. She came out early the next year:

    “I came out on Facebook to my friends and that Facebook post was printed and taken to the school and then distributed to principals and the heads of schools.

    “It was discussed that I have my name taken off the captains’s board.”

    “At the time I was tutoring students on premises and I was told by a teacher there that it would probably be best if I take my tutoring off-site.”

    “I lost all the friends I went to school with and felt like crap.”

4. The power of Alan Jones

Radio broadcaster Alan Jones ended up apologising, kind of, for comments he made to Opera House chief Louise Herron, after calling for her to be sacked during a debate on the promotion of a horse race on the iconic sails.

There is an excellent article in The Saturday Paper on The power of Alan Jones if you can get in.

Alan Jones and Drew Hutton, founder of The Greens in Queensland, both grew up on the Darling Downs. They were associated when Jones was a teacher at Brisbane Boys Grammar. Hutton was a student. Jones coached Hutton in tennis and athletics outside school hours.

Hutton says Jones was indefatigable, up at 4.30am to hit the track at 5.00, then taught all day. If he liked you, he would do anything for you, if he didn’t your life was hell.

With contrasting political views, years later, from about 2010, they later collaborated in campaigning against coal seam gas, when Hutton moved to work full-time on Lock the Gate. Hutton says Jones is very intelligent, has a photographic memory, can absorb huge amounts of information, but broadcasts 150,000 words a week, and is sometimes dead wrong. Then the facts don’t matter.

Jones tried to destroy the Wagner family, who owned a quarry where the wall collapsed in the Lockyer Creek floods in 2011, wiping out Grantham and killing 21 people. Anyone with half a brain knew that the cloudburst on the Toowoomba Range overwhelmed everything, and could not have been held back by a mere quarry wall. Jones is appealing, but he’s been ordered to pay $3.7 million in a defamation case. It is said that he had a crack at the Wagners some 150 times on his program (from memory, not the article).

Rebecca Huntley is right in saying, I think, that Jones is only powerful because politicians think he is. The optics of NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s decision to allow advertising were awful.

However, Jones is so vicious there really should be a law against him using his position to that effect. In other words, he should be sin-binned for abuse of power. There should be a concept of a ‘fit and proper person’ in broadcasting. Jones is a serial offender to the extent that we should consider a rule change.

Laura Tingle’s weekend article for the AFR and the ABC is a bit more complex, but I think she blames the lack of deliberative discourse from politicians and public figures. It leaves the field open for the shock jocks.

I note that Bill Shorten, in accommodating the small business tax cuts said:

    “We are determined to restore people’s faith in politics.

    People are tired of the Punch and Judy show in politics.”

5. The wisdom of John Howard

I was surprised at how articulate John Howard was in A Conversation on Culture recorded 10 July 2018 Centre for Independent Studies, broadcast on Big Ideas.

He is a classic liberal free speech man, and worries about how dissenting social and religious views are shouted down in the name of tolerance and inclusion. What was striking however, was his delineation of the basic requirements of a civilised, decent society:

  • a robust parliamentary system of democracy,
  • an uncorrupt judicial system,
  • a free and critical media.

He left out, IMO, elements that allow all people equally to fulfill their potential, to become what they can be.

Things like equal access to a fair justice system, the basics of food, safety and shelter, also equal access to free education (schooling, university TAFE), free and equal access to medical services and hospital, the provision of a social safety net that does not excoriate and blame, decent retirement and end of life care support. In other words, the elements of a welfare state, which we pretty much attained post WW2, and now appear to be moving away from.

5. Australia’s alt-right movement plan to join major political parties and influence their policy agendas from within

And have had some success in penetrating the NSW young Nationals.

The full story has been uncovered in the latest RN Background Briefing Haircuts and hate: The rise of Australia’s alt-right.

These are serious fascists, worse than the “extremists on the hard right” Alex Turnbull worries about, although they are bad enough.

The Nats are alert and alarmed, so we’ll see how they go.

Good to see our ABC on the job with serious investigative journalism.

6. Wayne’s worry

Finally, in a segment after Background Briefing there was an interview with Wayne Swan, in 2011 the acclaimed world’s best finance minister, and now taking over as president of the ALP. Wayne reckons the world got through the GFC because the G20 came together (very much Kevin Rudd’s initiative, who convinced the US of the need).

His worry now is that any concerted action would be impossible with Trump as POTUS. Simple as that.

He also reminded us that Australia’s economy had grown be 30% compared with pre-GFC. Would we have done as well if the LNP had been in power at the time?

18 thoughts on “Weekly salon 21/10”

  1. Josh Frydenberg said that the party room agreed to put the NEG legislation to parliament on 3 occasions but it was never put because the right wing faction threatened to cross the floor and force Turnbull to depend on Labor support to pass the legislation.
    That was the same right wing group that was adamant that same sex marriage should not go to a conscience vote.
    Managed properly, factions can allow a wider range of party members to get things done that they believe is important.
    Managed badly, factions can damage a party by making the conflict within a party obvious and reduce the number of party members that can get things done that they think are unimportant.
    From an LNP point of view, the Abbott faction has been particularly toxic with its threats to cross the floor.

  2. John, it still remains that Turnbull chose political expediency over the future of the planet.

    He deserved his fate politically, but his political demise does not help the planet.

  3. Brian: It is easy to say

    Turnbull chose political expediency over the future of the planet.

    but what should Turnbull have done?
    He could have been like the Greens, taken a principled stance and gone out in a blaze of glory that achieved nothing, at least in the short term.
    In some cases he may have taken the line that the party room had the final say and insist that the right wing faction could not block unless the right faction actually had the numbers. For example he should have put the NEG to parliament and passed it with the support of Labor or given Abbott the chance to show just how disloyal he was.
    My experience is that in cases like this you have to do the conditioning to gradually move opponents to the point where they have some ownership of the the changes you want to make. Climate action conditioning is clearly taking place in the broader community and the LNP right wing is becoming more and more fringe – but I guess Turnbull knew he didn’t have the time and for some of his opponents controlling the LNP was more important than winning elections.
    A tragic PM. Might have achieved greatness but….

  4. John, I think Turnbull wedged himself by choosing ‘kill Bill’ as his main political strategy to win the election. It meant that passing legislation on a major policy which he had used as a scare campaign against Labor was not politically open to him.

    The Liberal party gave him the job of chairman, but never accorded him the respect that leadership requires. That being the case he was never going to achieve much of his own vision.

    Moreover, the Nats had him on a leash on climate change through the coalition agreement. So tragic figure at best. There are other descriptions that fit OK.

  5. Mr Turnbull may have been worried that if he used Labor to help pass the NEG laws in 2018, he would find himself turfed out as Leader.

    The scenario wasn’t a figment. It had occurred in late 2009, when he wanted his Party to join Labor in an emissions reduction initiative. He lost the Leadership.

    He lost the Leadedhip (again) in case, this year , despite “holding the line” against compromising with The Devil the ALP.

    Poor bastard.

    Well, at least from NY he won’t be able to undermine, snipe or destabilise the Govt. Everything will be just fine for the Coalition. My very word it will.

  6. I had thought for several years that yony was the very last person in the whole wide World, from whom Malcolm would take advice.

    Harrrrrumphhh

  7. Ambi, you are certainly right about Malcolm taking advice from Tones.

    However, I thought Malcolm had already endorsed Dave, so Tony and the Oz are just stirring up trouble, as usual.

  8. Fairfax/Ipsos poll is out today, with Labor in front 55-45 in TPP, up from 54-46.

    Labor’s primary vote is ahead of LNP in all age demographics except 55+.

    The Greens in this poll are on 15, which is the same as last month. That’s way ahead of any other poll, which is one reason I have my doubts about Ipsos/Fairfax.

    Murdoch’s mob and the Libs are ecstatic about Newspoll being 53-47 in favour of Labor. They reckon ScoMo has Scomentum!

  9. The Telegraph rejects climate science so why the hell should they accept what statisticians have to say the uncertainty limits of polls?
    Having said that, Morrison would be helped by the moves he has made on religious freedom and the small business tax.

  10. Now don’t go all Kama Sutra on us, zooti.

    It is “the position of the Miserable Ghost”. The man retires from the house and takes a journey to a far off land. From there, his lingam can scarcely be seen. Yet he gains great strength and prevails upon his former swooning partners, in the privacy of their voting booths, to contort themselves in their striving so for Sharma or Phelpsi or The Party of the Green She-devil. Much huffing is heard about the House. The almond is split. The mango juice flows. In Mumbai, the House is Well Hung.

    Ambi of Krishnapur

  11. I agree with Psephologist Dr Adam Carr (who is Joy 94.9’s go to man for electoral matters) that the Greens are divided between the Lee Rhiannon/Kerry Nettle “marxist” faction, the Bob Brown “environmentalist” faction, and the Dee Margets “National Party” faction

  12. Thanks Scott

    So there are three main factions? Can you please tell us more?

    Does the “National Party” faction advocate strong cooperation with farmers?

    I have long thought that the Landcare organisation and the projects it sponsors, with volunteer assistance, is on balance good for the countryside and towns.

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