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4 November, 2010

It is all too easy to be critical of police officers and the manner in which they use the power that is bestowed upon them. So when you come across such a fine example of policing and discretion as carried out by Constable David Jay, it should receive the respect and admiration it deserves.

(Some will find the following offensive. I’m more interested in the interaction between the officer and the member/s of the community for whom the evening could have had a very different conclusion)

Real Talk Battles presents: Cop throws down in street freestyle battle:

What makes the difference between a police officer like David Jay and one who would issue an infringement for socks or make an arrest for singing? Is it temperament, education or training? What would you say you, David?

Brisbane Times

Courier Mail

Steve Fielding: queue jumper

29 August, 2010

Steve Fielding:

“I think Australians would like the idea of the process of saying, ‘If you’re going to try and jump the queue you go to the back of the queue and wait in a refugee camp and wait your turn to come to Australia.”

Down the rabbit hole

21 August, 2010

Winning the next election won’t be easy but it’s certainly possible.

Last night as I was reflecting on the election campaign I decided to have another flick through Tony Abbott’s Battlelines. It seemed appropriate since there is real chance of Abbott being the next prime minister. He is a man whose interest in public life was “first stirred as a child reading the Ladybird books”. A man who understands “that you have to engage people before you can give them orders”. While reading, a few things stood out. Of course this is just my interpretation of Abbott and what he has written, but if it is correct, it seems to show that Abbott is following in his ideological father’s footsteps. Something, it could be imagined he would continue to do in government. What a suprise.

The origin of “gospel truth” and and “carefully prepared scripted remarks” seems to come from his earlier experiences:

I soon discovered that it was harder to take intellectual short cuts or to get away with debating tricks if your case had to stand up in print rather than just to sound plausible in melee of voices.

Personally every time he opens his mouth(to speak) I feel like saying ‘that’s bullshit.’ It normally is. How anyone could believe  him, let alone vote for him, is beyond me.

There seems to be some similarity between the coalition’s current slogan and Hanson’s:

“Hanson attacked Howard for not standing up, as she put it, for the ‘real  Australia’.”

And the coalition:

Stand up for Australia. Stand up for real action.

Or: Stand up for [real] Australia. We’ll make a difference with our real action plan. STOP THE BOATS

If Abbott is the ideological love child of John Howard and Bronwyn Bishop then perhaps Pauline Hanson could be his ideological sister.

Asylum seekers become the “law and order” issue for the federal election. Even though both parties have engaged in getting tough on law and order in this campaign, this is usually left for state governments and oppositions to outbid each other on toughness.

Abbott is comfortable using asylum seekers as a political football. He offers two reasons in Battlelines:

There’s little doubt that some Liberal voters were uneasy about the government’s positions on these issues [asylum seekers and climate change]. Those that were going to change their votes on them, though, almost certainly would have done so prior to the 2007 poll.


Labor ended up backing the government’s treatment of unauthorised arrivals and special laws to make it harder for illegal entrants to stay.

The Liberals have been light on policy detail. As well as “standing up” for something they will “do the right thing” and “end the waste, pay back debt, stop new taxes, stop the boats”. The reason for lack of detail may be this:

…the coalition did not have extensive, exhaustively detailed policies going into the 1996 election. […] By 1996, under Howard, the party’s policy orientation had been tempered by pragmatism and was certainly expressed in more genial terms.

  • Unfinished post. Have to attend a wedding. The groom wants to stop the boats. Can’t wait…….

Does Australia need a shandy man?

20 August, 2010

I’m rarely one to criticize a bloke for what he drinks. But on the eve before I head to the embassy to place my pre-ballot vote, and as I read over the the SMH article by Phillip Coorey and Peter Hartcher, I wonder how much each candidate’s choice of beverage reflects their leadership, personalities, and more importantly, policies.

Sadly, neither Toohey’s Old or a shandy do little to excite me about the future of Australia under either leader. Perhaps it was because I spent last week sampling dozens of micro-brews in Seattle. But with election campaign beverage choices made most deliberately, I wonder what each leader is trying to signal to Australia voters.

Last orders ... Julia Gillard enjoys a Tooheys Old with the local candidate, Jim Arneman, in Raymond Terrace; Tony Abbott sips a  shandy in Manly.
(Photo: Andrew Meares, Glen McCurtayne, from SMH)

Gillard – showing her support for NSW by choosing a NSW label of the people? Abbott – showing his affinity for women by choosing half-beer half-soft drink? I say tongue-in-cheek.

If this is the case, Gillard’s schooner of Toohey’s is unlikely to deflect much of the ill will NSW voters feel towards the state Labor party. Likewise, if Abbott thinks the average women is a shandy drinker, he should probably think again. Given his love of gaffs, a shandy (gaff) may well be an unconscious choice of the heart, but I wonder whether an appeal to tee-totaling Christian lobbies will view him half as evil if his beer is really half lemonade or ginger ale.

Now I don’t know what they put in Toohey’s Old, and voters may also detect an unknown murkiness to what policies Gillard plans to implement (I would have gone a Guinness personally). Yet a shandy’s contents are quite clear, yet like its translucent character, it is mostly carbonated fizz and sugar, with little depth, no substance. It might taste sweet but those empty calories will do little more than leave you a little hyperactive. Clearly the hardest thing in Tony’s hand is the glass itself.

Which leads me to the question, does Australia need a shandy man?

Despite a wheel feeling off the Labor wagon, the government has managed to shepherd Australia through a global financial crisis, for which it deserves more credit for than the previous Howard government deserved for bringing “prosperity” to Australia amongst a global economic boom.

Given Abbott’s direction – or lack their of, his bitterly negative campaign (the “4 nays”) that says little more than he is in principle opposed to whatever Gillard is proposing, it is hard to find any positive contribution he will bring to Australia’s economy and society. Debt and boats may sound like great things to be stopped on the surface. Yet Abbott has failed to prove he has the capacity to achieve these goals. I can only conclude as I head to the polling booth, that Australia needs anything but a Shandy Man.

The iAbbott

17 August, 2010

Shit happens, but don’t let this shit  happen.

Poll diving in Asia Pacific

11 August, 2010

Barack Obama (Democrat, USA). Yukio Hatoyama (Democratic Party, Japan). Kevin Rudd (Labor, Australia).

Three leaders in Asia Pacific that came to power amid an overwhelming yearning for change throughout each nation. After years (8, USA; 11, Australia; practically since post WWII, Japan) of conservative government stewardship, voters in all three countries desired not necessarily economic change, but for a shift of the nations’ social and moral rudders. Headlining issues included the war in Iraq, climate change, and  in Japan, US naval bases in Okinawa.

Yet a few years in, all three have been decimated in public opinion polls, with Obama the only one to remain in office. Hatoyama and Rudd, with low factional support bases, were ultimately axed by their own parties after the largest force keeping them at the helm of their parties – opinion polls – deserted them.

2010 being an election year in both Japan and Australia, the opposition have been quick to attack the economic credentials of the current governments and the alleged “financial mismanagement” that has led to budget deficits and a supposed “endangering” of all three countries’ economic stability.

It is startling to realise just how quick we have been to forget the momentous task that these governments were all faced with during the global financial crisis. It is true that all three leaders failed in pushing through some of their election platform policies. Yet once clear of the woods of economic crisis, it is disconcerting how quickly the tide of popular sentiment has changed for these leaders.

New Japanese PM Kan led his party to a battering in recent upper house elections. In Australia, PM Julia Gillard leads her party to an election with underdog status, if polls are to be believed. This despite the opposition being headed by an otherwise thoroughly unelectable Tony Abbott. Even as a non-partisan writer, I can say it has a mix of both tragedy and farce to see Abbott present an image of stability and consistency, even if he has achieved this through a policy platform of unrelenting criticism rather than logically designed public policy fundamentals.

The key question of course is, does the Labor government “deserve” to be returned to power despite their “sins”? I have tried taking a piece of paper and constructing an argument in favour of a coalition government. So far, the only point I had in their favour was communications/broadband policy. Yet since the opposition’s recent announcement on their broadband policy, this has been well and truly scratched, leaving me again with a blank page of “pros” for a coalition government.

Over the last 2-3 decades, successive Australian governments (both Labor and coalition) have made Australians better off by pushing through progressive reforms and making Australia more open, tolerant, influential, and affluent. Voters need to check both parties against such a scorecard before they vote this month to see if whoever takes office will continue this tradition of progressive reforms, or if they hope to wind the country back to a bygone era.

End the waste: the Orgill report

9 August, 2010

The coalition “officially” held its campaign launch in Brisbane yesterday and Tony Abbott spoke some possibly absolutely calm, considered, prepared, scripted remarks (that’s gospel truth) that teased out his mantra of: end the waste, pay back the debt, stop the big new taxes, stop the boats.

The government has been praised ( “… what your government did was exactly right.“) for the action it took that minimised the impact of the GFC and kept Australia out of recession. These measures and other programs which have and would continue to deliver infrastructure and services, the Liberals call waste and they say must end. Then, as they stop investing in Australia and its people, they will pay back the debt. The debt is only 6% of GDP. If you are concerned about that then you are as clueless as Abbott. As Peter Martin asks, Debt free. Got any other ideas to stifle growth?

So where is this waste? The opposition (and media) have been using the Building the Education Revolution as an example of the government’s “waste”. So now that the Orgill report is out (Building the Education Revolution Implementation Taskforce: Interim report), where has all this money been wasted? On the contrary the report found:

  • even though the BER is one of the largest national public work programs ever funded by the Commonwealth, the Taskforce has only received complaints from 2.7% of schools involved in the BER program.

So it should now be clear that the “waste” is just more of Tony Abbott’s bullshit. Read more at the political sword.

Other “waste” (infrastructure/services)  that the coalition wants to end include: Paid Parental Leave (until his scheme is implemented one presumes), Trade Training Centres in schools, the NBN (why would anyone vote for this?), the Digital Education Revolution, additional funding for the State Infrastructure Fund and discontinue the Australian Human Rights Framework.

You can read about more “waste” that Abbott and the coalition will end from their election commitment costings.