Category Archives: Politics & Government

Will Labor’s budget dream team prevail?

Chris Bowen’s has a copy of Paul Keating’s After words in his office, signed by PJK with the words “I write with faith and hope in your public life.” That is not a trivial endorsement, according to Peter Hartcher in Bowen seizes the chance to make history.

Keating says Bowen is “first and foremost a rationalist. He is a rationalist more than he is an ideologue.” Continue reading Will Labor’s budget dream team prevail?

Bowen articulates Labor’s budget plans

In his Budget Reply Address to the National Press Club Peter Hartcher in a piece Bowen seizes chance to make history reckons Labor’s plans amount to a trifecta:

  • First, it has promised a tax cut almost twice as big as the government’s for lower and middle income earners, $928 a year against the government’s $530.
  • Second, Labor has promised to spend more on its “inclusive growth” agenda centred around education, skills training and health care.*
  • Third, it has promised to return the budget to a bigger surplus than the government’s planned $2.2 billion for 2019-20, and to press on to a surplus of at least one per cent of GDP.

Continue reading Bowen articulates Labor’s budget plans

Budget 2018 – a fair and decent society vs small government, ideology and sloganeering

The ABC election team on Budget night suggested that the purpose of the 2018 budget was to generate talking points that the government could use in the forthcoming election campaign. It has been going on for a while. Turnbull ScoMo and all reckon they offer “jobs and growth” whereas Shorten is going to hit you up for $200 billion extra in taxes, and simply can’t be trusted to run anything.

Shorten says Labor is going to “bring the fair go back into the heart of the nation.”

To me the nation is at a cross-roads. One way offers a small-government straight jacket with firmly embedded tax provisions that permanently reward success. The other seeks to provide the necessary infrastructure (human, services and physical) for everyone and the nation to become the best they can be, and to take care of those on the fringe. Continue reading Budget 2018 – a fair and decent society vs small government, ideology and sloganeering

Approaching crunch time on Liddell

The AFR reports that Alinta is finalising its bid for Liddell, energy minister Josh Frydenberg says by the end of April, so any day now. That was in response to the announcement by AGL the day before that it will build the 252-megawatt gas-fired plant near its Newcastle Gas Storage Facility, completing construction at the end of 2022, for the cost of $400 million:

Above is an artist impression of a similar facility in South Australia.

Frydenberg was not impressed. Continue reading Approaching crunch time on Liddell

Villers Bretonneaux comes to prominence

I’ve been wondering why on Anzac Day we celebrate a failed attempt tp invade another country. Australians did show great valor and bravery, as they did three years later to the day in 1918 Australians in the Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux:

    After the Anzac Day counter-attack, British and French commanders lavished praise upon the Australians. Brigadier-General George Grogan, a witness, later wrote that it was “perhaps the greatest individual feat of the war” for troops to attack at night, across unfamiliar ground, at short notice and with no artillery preparation.[32][3]

    These factors had proved essential to the Australian success.[9] Foch spoke of their “astonishing valiance [sic]…” and General Sir Henry Rawlinson attributed the safety of Amiens to the “…determination, tenacity and valour of the Australian Corps”.

Continue reading Villers Bretonneaux comes to prominence

China matters: Turnbull puts Australia’s future in play

When Malcolm Turnbull became Prime Minister, Chinese media outlets gave him the nickname Tang Bao, which sounds like his surname and means sweet dumpling, according to Lisa Murray in the AFR. Yet the dumpling has turned sour as relations with China are assessed as worse than they were since the Tienanmen Square incident

On Saturday 9 December last year Turnbull stood in a leafy garden and let fly:

    Switching between Mandarin and English, Turnbull then said: “Modern China was founded in 1949 with these words: ‘The Chinese people have stood up’. It was an assertion of sovereignty, it was an assertion of pride.”

    “And we stand up and so we say, the Australian people stand up.”

Historians may come to mark that day as a turning point, when Australia’s future was put into play, ending later during Bill Shorten’s period as PM with Australia declaring neutrality in relation to both China and the USA. Continue reading China matters: Turnbull puts Australia’s future in play

AGL doubles down on Liddell plan

CEO Andrew Vesey has advised that AGL are ordering the equipment they need to convert Liddell’s turbines to “synchronous condensers” to fim up solar and wind energy. AGL’s plan for a clean energy hub to replace Liddell is going ahead, according to Ben Potter in the AFR.

Beyond tha,t the same edition of the AFR has an article explaining the conundrum of the Liddell fight, making particular reference to what the advice from AEMO (the Australian Energy Market Operator) actually said. This issue was raised in the comments thread of the post Energy crisis? What energy crisis? AEMO boss Audrey Zibelman took exception to an article Malcolm Turnbull’s bid to flog Liddell to Alinta ill-advised: AEMO. Continue reading AGL doubles down on Liddell plan

China matters: Vanuatu

We are all going to be thinking more about China for the rest of our lives, for better or for worse. Apart from trade we were most recently startled by the notion that China may be about to build a military base in Vanuatu. Fairfax announced that China eyes Vanuatu military base in plan with global ramifications. A day later we had Chinese military base in Pacific would be of ‘great concern’, Turnbull tells Vanuatu. Followed rapidly by denials by China and Vanuatu, both of which were a bit cranky over the suggestion.

However, China is building a cruise ship terminal near a new international airport it is funding, together with a new official residence for Prime Minister Charlot Salwai as well as other government buildings. Then there was a 1000-seat convention centre, a major sports stadium, and a $14 million school that will be reportedly the biggest education facility in the South Pacific. Early last year, Beijing donated 14 military vehicles to Vanuatu.

Vanuatu is becoming vulnerable to the “debt-trap strategy” that has left a number of countries swimming in debt Continue reading China matters: Vanuatu

Saturday salon 7/4

1. Turnbull faces the music on Newspoll

Malcolm Turnbull got an unexpected surprise when Fairfax-Ipsos cheekily inserted a poll to gazump Newspoll by a few days. It had good news for Turnbull. By the usual method of allocating preferences according to flows at the last election the LNP was behind 48-52 TPP. However, when preferences were allocated as those polled indicated they would vote, the result was 50-50.

However Poll Bludger points out that the sample was only 1146, instead of the usual 1400. Continue reading Saturday salon 7/4

Saturday salon 1/4

1. Coached to cheat!

No I’m not talking about cricket, I’m talking about rugby league, highlighted by a match between the Melbourne Storm and the Cronulla Sharks where 33 penalties were blown, and Cameron Smith, captain of the Storm, Queensland and Australia was binned for 10 minutes for dissent. I didn’t see it, but I understand Smith made very clear that he did not think he should go.

The fact is that teams had been coached to cheat for years. The NRL had reached the point where they either had to enforce the rules or change them. Players were not standing up before they played the ball, then simply rolling it between their legs. The defending players, back the mandatory 10 metres, were taking off before the ball had cleared the ruck.

If everyone played by the rules, the game would look cleaner, tidier, and would be more open. However, players had been coached to ignore the referees, who typically gave a couple of penalties, then put the whistle in their pocket. The public called for consistency. Now they are getting it, some don’t like it. However, if the referees give in now, then we may as well give up on the rules. Continue reading Saturday salon 1/4

The rise and rise of American gun culture

On the 4th of July in 1776 with the Declaration of Independence the thirteen American colonies then at war with the Kingdom of Great Britain—New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia— announced that they would now regard themselves as thirteen independent sovereign states no longer under British rule.

It was a very brave thing to do, because there were very few guns in the colonies and they had no significant gun industry. Yet the American War of Independence (1775-1783) was won and with it the American gun industry was born. ABC RN’s Rear Vision program recently took a look at the origins of the American gun industry (transcript available) with some erudite published authors and scholars. Continue reading The rise and rise of American gun culture