Category Archives: Politics & Government

How Labor won Batman

Phillip Coorey, one of the better Canberra journalists, has laid out in plain terms how Labor won Batman. This post is based on his article but is not confined to it.

One reason, says Coorey, is that her campaign targetted voters who had been turned off Labor by her two predecessors, Labor machine men David Feeney and Martin Ferguson. Continue reading How Labor won Batman

Saturday Salon 10/3

1. Getting better all the time

On the whole, that’s how it is on just about everything, according the Gregg Easterbrook in his book It’s Better than It Looks: Reasons for Optimism in an Age of Fear.

Readers here will be happy to know that there is more burnable oil and gas available now than ever before, gun homicide has been declining in the US, the masses in American have been getting richer in terms of purchasing power by a steady 3 per cent each year, plus life expectancy is increasing everywhere. Our good fortune began with the industrial revolution and there is no good reason why it should end. Continue reading Saturday Salon 10/3

Michaelia Cash crass , but there’s more than meets the eye

Jacqueline Maley in the SMH came straight to the point:

Continue reading Michaelia Cash crass , but there’s more than meets the eye

New Deputy PM is a climate denier

New Deputy PM Michael McCormack (Mick Mack) is a garden variety climate denier according to Paddy Manning at The Monthly:

    Given he is our new deputy prime minister, it is not surprising that “who is Michael McCormack?” pieces are now popping up everywhere. And yet, they glide over his worst offence: he appears to be just another National Party climate change denier.

Continue reading New Deputy PM is a climate denier

Barnaby Joyce flames out

Barnaby Joyce as National Party warrior and Deputy PM has flamed out, and to mix metaphors is politically washed up for now, perhaps forever. The one certainty is that his pay will be sliced by about $200k. However, there is no easy agreement as to what has really happened and what it all means.

Phillip Coorey in the AFR said it was the end of the Barnaby Joyce experiment and his exit shows politics has changed:

    Politics has changed. People used to survive much worse. Not any more.

Continue reading Barnaby Joyce flames out

Boosting Transport Capacity by Managing Demand

Most of us would like to be able to travel when, where and how we want to and for the transport system to be managed in such a way that there will always be enough capacity to allow us all these choices. The problem with this  “capacity management” approach is that a lot of money would have to be spent providing capacity that is only used for a very limited time of the day.  Without this extra spending we still have to continue putting up with congested roads and overloaded public transport during peak hours.

Required capacity could be reduced by managing the “when”, “how” and “where” choices. This post looks at some  “demand management” strategies that might be used to reduce peak capacity requirements  These strategies offer rapid, low cost  ways of getting more from the transport infrastructure we already have. It was concluded that a rapid, low cost doubling of capacity is not an impossible dream.

Continue reading Boosting Transport Capacity by Managing Demand

Saturday salon 17/2

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.

Continue reading Saturday salon 17/2

Turnbull launches a withering attack on Joyce

Like Labor, Turnbull and the Liberal Party had so far regarded Barnaby Joyce’s relationship with former staffer Vikki Campion as a private matter. As long as everything had been done within formal regulations, it didn’t matter that jobs had been found for Campion when her presence in Joyce’s office was no longer viable. It didn’t matter that a mate had given him free accommodation in Armidale, or that he had spent 50 nights in Canberra at taxpayers expense when parliament was not sitting.

All that changed when Turnbull launched a withering attack on his morals, his judgement and his character, and went on to say that forthwith no minister will have sex with a staff member under the new ministerial code of conduct. Moreover, Joyce was sent to the naughty corner to think about his position and his future by being sent on leave, rather than act as prime minister when Turnbull is overseas next week.

It was more than a vote of no confidence. As Mark Kenny said in the SMH, the message was that Joyce’s position as Deputy PM was not viable. Continue reading Turnbull launches a withering attack on Joyce

Saturday salon 10/2

1. Doomsday prepping: bunkers, bullets and billionaires

On the 13th of January this year the following message was texted out to mobile phones in Hawaii:


It was a mistake, someone had hit the wrong button. The impact was considerable. Children were helped into a drain and there was panic in paradise. Continue reading Saturday salon 10/2

Adani casts a long shadow over Batman

Bill Shorten probably knows Labor can’t win the byelection in the Melbourne seat Batman while supporting the far-away Adani coal mining project at Carmichael in the Galilee Basin in central Queensland. So he looks set to oppose the mine.

However, Queensland LNP senators Matt Canavan and Ian Macdonald and Capricornia MP Michelle Landry have invited Shorten to come to Townsville to explain his position there, and ultimately that is what he must do. Continue reading Adani casts a long shadow over Batman

Degrading political discourse

I remember when we crossed the Simpson Desert back in 2014 how wonderful it was not to hear anything about politics for days at a time, and then turn on the TV news in Birdsville to have Tony Abbott talking to camera. He looked like a plastic man, and it was hard to re-establish that what he had to say may have consequences for our lives.

I think Tony Abbott has made a significant contribution to degrading the tone and content of political speech in Australia.

In the US people have spoken of the “Trump effect” – a shift in norms since Donald Trump entered politics. Now Rishab Nithyanand at Data & Society, a research institute in New York, and his colleagues at the University of Massachusetts have undertaken a study to see whether discourse has actually worsened. Continue reading Degrading political discourse