Category Archives: Politics & Government

Weekly salon 12/1

1. 2021 in graphs

Peter Martin has assembled 10 graphs from articles he has edited in 2021.

Each tells a powerful story. For example, it is clear that sooner or later something will have to be done about JobSeeker when it is forecast to become a mere fraction of the old age pension, which is miserly by international standards. Remember around a third of pensioners already live in poverty. Continue reading Weekly salon 12/1

Weekly salon 7/1: 2022 new year edition

1. Sawatdi bpi mai kap!

That is a Thai new year’s greeting which means means:

    May you find compassion, loving kindness and equanimity along your paths over the next year!

On a personal level that would help. I think most people feel well rid of 2021, and hope for better in 2022.

2. Will humanity survive?

Andrew Leigh, they say, is always the smartest man in the room, and one of the nicest. Since entering parliament in 2008 he has now launched his 8th book. This Saturday Paper article (no doubt pay-walled) is an interview with Andrew Leigh on humanity’s one-in-six chance of ending. Continue reading Weekly salon 7/1: 2022 new year edition

Gladys goes. What does that mean for us?

Michael McGowan and Anne Davies had the story on Friday 1 Oct 2021 NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian resigns after ICAC announces investigation:

(Image from Michelle Grattan’s story at The Conversation.)

I think her greater misdemeanor lies elsewhere. However her demise has further trashed politicians and politics in the public mind, opening opportunities for independents, and minor parties in so far as they present as people who are not politicians.

This is not good for democracy. Continue reading Gladys goes. What does that mean for us?

COVID crisis in NSW

Lock down hard or you’ll be stuck where you are until Christmas, NSW has been told by the Melbourne Burnet Institute, who did the modelling which helped Victoria escape its long lockdown in 2020.

Let me say at the outset that I agree with Professor Catherine Bennett, Deakin University’s Chair in Epidemiology, who said in an article in The Age that:

    harsh measures like a nightly curfew and kilometre limit might not be required in NSW.

    “I do think that the routes of transmission that they’re seeing in NSW should guide the interventions, not just putting things in place because they’ve been used elsewhere,” she said.

Back on June 24 Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant told us Why a snap COVID-19 lockdown won’t work for Sydney’s Bondi outbreak. The Delta variant was already well and truly abroad and could not be reined in by a three-day lockdown like those other states had used.

Less than three weeks later with all of Sydney plus some adjacent areas locked down, harder than before, new cases rose from 11 to over 100. The virus was winning in the community:

Continue reading COVID crisis in NSW

Barnaby is back

When Warren Truss was leader of the National Party from 2007 to February 2016, just about no-one in the general public knew who he was. That was one of the reasons why Barnaby Joyce succeeded him.

Now lots of people know a lot about Barnaby for a variety or reasons, and a saw enough of his successor Michael McCormack this week to realise he was simply not up to the job. The numbers that matter are the 21 members of the federal National Party room. More than half prefer Barnaby Joyce, warts and all. So we have Barnaby Joyce victorious in Nationals leadership challenge.

I have to say that his deputy, David Littleproud, looked absolutely miserable next to Barnaby on TV, although he says he was just cold. Word is that Matt Canavan moved the spill motion, and Littleproud’s support made the difference, in the interests of longer term stability.

If so, strange thinking. As Jennifer Hewitt says in the AFR today:

    The public will now have a front row seat at Joyce’s more explosive brand of political fireworks. And he does bear grudges.

Continue reading Barnaby is back

Asylum seekers become human

Every-one not living under a rock knows that the Biloela community loves the Tamil family Nades and Priya Murugappan, and their daughters Kopika and Tharunicaa, who were taken from their homes in March 2018 in a dawn raid without warning the day their bridging visa expired, and have now been banged up in Christmas Island for several years.

Biloela wants them back, some Liberal backbenchers want them back, even Tony Abbott, when he was still in parliament in passing on a letter of support to then minister Peter Coleman, annotated the letter saying that the family could have a case “if they have as successfully integrated as it seems, there is a … case for giving them [permanent residency].” Continue reading Asylum seekers become human

Climate policy or biffo?

Our media, it seems to me, are more interested in biffo than policy. For example, can anyone in the media tell me why they constantly interview Joel Fitzgibbon as though he had any influence on Labor’s climate policy?

James Massola in the SMH in February gave us an explainer What are Labor’s factions and who’s who in the Left and Right? To cut to the chase, Joel Fitzgibbon is nominally in the Right, but he says:

    The Left’s national conveners are Victorian MP Julian Hill, NSW Senator Tim Ayres and MP Sharon Claydon, while MP Matt Thistlethwaite is the national convener of the Right along with South Australian Senator Don Farrell.

What, no Joel Fitzgibbon?

No Joel Fitzgibbon. Massola says this:

    While Thistlethwaite is the national convener of the Right – and his state faction – frontbench MPs Chris Bowen and Tony Burke are the most influential in that state. Joel Fitzgibbon, long the convener of the NSW and National Right, is now seen as on the outer for the “whatever it takes” faction.

Continue reading Climate policy or biffo?

Morrison monsters women

I’m going to take one more shot at PM Scott Morrison, because I think he bullies women in circumstances where if the person were male he would act differently. Bullies are instinctively drawn to perceived weakness, or one might say, soft targets.

Scott Morrison’s treament of Aust Post CEO Christine Holgate has not gone down well, writes Dennis Atkins. Photo: AAP

The first is from the Michelle Grattan article John Davidson linked to ie Scott Morrison finds strong women can be tough players, the case of Christine Holgate from Australia post:

    Immediately after Holgate had told a Senate committee about the watches, a furious Morrison let loose in the Parliament. Declaring the action disgraceful, he said: “The chief executive has been instructed to stand aside and, if she doesn’t wish to do that, she can go.”

Continue reading Morrison monsters women

Weekly salon 8/4

1. The PM has a problem or three

Grattan on Friday says Prime Minister Scott Morrison has three pressing problems:

  • the COVID vaccine rollout
  • the budget
  • the issue of women.

Bernard Keane at Crikey says Morrison continues to see everything as a political problem to manage away. Keane was referring to his tearful mea culpa and apparent change of heart on the issue of women and the intemperate attack on Sky journalist Andrew Clennell, claiming that in Clennell’s own organisation there was an incident of harassment of a woman in a women’s toilet being pursued by their own HR department.

There wasn’t. Continue reading Weekly salon 8/4

Climate action core Labor business in rebuilding Australia

When I attended a LEAN (Labor Environment Action Network) conference in September 2019, the concern was to make environment action part of Labor’s DNA and to cast climate action in terms of a positive vision for the future. However, people were tired. Labor had lost the unloseable election to Scott Morrison Scotty from Marketing, with nothing more than slogans and tax cuts to offer, plus scare campaigns boosted by Clive Palmer’s multi-million advertising blitz, a smear campaign directed at Opposition leader Bill Shorten, and a totally misconceived anti coal-mining intervention by former Greens leader Bob Brown.

Yes, there is more to say, and mistakes were made by Labor, but understandably many were tired and discouraged. Still, some were working on strategies inspired by the Green New Deal, in short a regeneration of the fossil fuel economy with a vision of planet-friendly, sustainable restoration and growth. Some were talking about the possibilities of hydrogen.

Post-bushfires, post-COVID, and prior to the ALP Party Conference and a possible election, LEAN has now come up with a simple and I think compelling story, to be found Climate action is core Labor business and Rebuilding Australia on the interwebs. Continue reading Climate action core Labor business in rebuilding Australia