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Getting the good Gillard back on track

6 August, 2010

When Julia Gillard took the reigns of the ALP and the government hurtling towards an election, she neatly encapsulated her motive and her objective as getting a good government, that has lost its way, back on track.

But just where had the government lost its way? If Kevin Rudd’s opinion polls were a symptom or a barometer of national sentiment, what had caused the Rudd government to go walkabout? In ‘a few notes for Julia‘, I boldly suggested a few areas where the new government could re-claim its mandate for leadership. Since coming to power, what has the Gillard government been doing to rectify this ‘loss of direction’ in the lead up to the election?

Gillard’s comments have obfuscated some of the great gains that the Rudd government has brought to Australian society and economy: for example, she appears less willing to demonstrate how the Rudd government “steered” Australia through the global financial crisis. Yet on the other hand, many of the policies that caused Rudd government “lose its way”, Gillard has allowed to trail on.


The Rudd government failed to get a bill up on carbon, and failed to price it. It was a dramatic retreat from pre-election stance, and from the much publicised Garnaut Review and the report tabled by ANU Professor Ross Garnaut.

Staring up at the diving board, the government saw the opposition in the political hot tub, and decided it was far less risky to join the Coalition of the warming spa than to climb the tower alone and take a dive into the colder, less familiar, and far more dangerous pool below.

>> The government needs to commit to a timetable for environmental reform, including carbon and renewable energy. It needs to go back to the Garnaut Report and steer Australia to become a world leader in green business, rather than a laggard.

The Net Filter

Nothing has sickened me more, writing from overseas, to watch the developments of the net filter, championed blindly by Senator Alston Conroy. With his filter and its blacklisted blacklist, Conroy stands as a beacon of hope for any Labor politicians wanting to show voters they are more conservative than the Liberal Party. Since Conroy took the communications portfolio, forums have discussed whether he one of the worst enemies of high-speed low-cost internet since Senator Alston famously stated that broadband was only for pornography and gambling. The filter has attracted due criticism from international observers concerned about what the move means for freedom of expression and civil rights, and also for the cost of doing business in Australia.

>> Yet with a change of leader brought a chance to kill this inane policy. Regrettably this was not taken. This policy has dragged on, or possibly swept under the electoral rug in a bid that the bad press may go away.  However, Gillard has been handed with another option: removing Senator Conroy, now billed as Australia’s dumbest politician“, from his portfolio and killing the policy along with his cabinet post. Furthermore, now that the Coalition has motioned that it will not support the filter, it is dangerous for the government to continue with it, even if it is likely to receive damaging political “flip-flop” flak if it pulls out now.

Porn at customs

The next “is this really Australia?” moment, was the rise of the “are you carrying porn?” on the customs incoming passenger card issue. It was a clear sign that rather than Australia becoming more progressive under Labor, the government’s various arms were moving to uphold ultra conservative values. And on the back of the net filter, it was a signal of the state wanting a more pervasive role into people’s private lives. Was thing again a misdirected attempt to crack down on child pornography? CNET’s coverage showed all too well how some of the world perceived the move.

Others will be relieved that the customs officials declared that they will apply “tact and discretion.” Which, presumably would mean no loud exclamations including the words “Cor!” “Blimey!” and “Sheila!”

Perhaps I should leave my iPhone on the plane or flush my stash in the toilet before I pass through customs?

Resources SuperTax

When you wake up and hear of a proposed new 40% tax, it makes you rub your eyes, scratch your head, and wonder if someone slipped something in your drink the night before. After you see that all vital organs and orifices are in tact, only then do you realise the words you are hearing are real. Sharing the mineral wealth of Australia with Australian citizens is a noble gesture, but it is a lofty goal and in this case, its implementation – a huge new tax, had disaster written across it from the beginning.

>> Fortunately, Gillard acted swiftly on this one, and should be a reminder to her that when she acts swiftly and with conviction, she can effect policy change and rise above the  three-phrase-mantra of Tony Abbott.

In further coverage of electoral issues, coming soon: Gillard, God, Gays, and Abbott’s boats.


Is Andrew Bolt implicated in this dishonesty?

4 August, 2010

Andrew Bolt has a habit of claiming he has been defamed, then hinting (or threatening?) at legal action, but he has a funny way of going about it if he genuinely plans to proceed. Yesterday he decided to get worked up about the @andrewbolt twitter account that has been around since February 2009 (and interviewed by Jason Wilson). He had a  sooky sooky wah wah and wrote:

It shouldn’t need saying, but I do not have a Twitter account and the fake one seems to be the work of people whose employer will be very embarrassed to find its staff once more engaging in deceitful slurs. A little warning there. A tearful sorry afterwards will be both too late and insincere, especially from people with their record of sliming.


I’ve been given names, and at some stage may use them. Parody is perfectly fine, but identity theft is low.

The poor, precious petal. Bolt is no stranger to slime or the dog-whistle. He has made untrue and insulting smears and statements about both individuals and cultures, and has had a successful defamation claim made out against him. What was very amusing about this whinge was that just a few hours earlier he had written “It could be cheaper for all if we just hardened up.” Bolt should have taken notice of his own advice, but it was quite inappropriate for him to aim it primarily at someone who has been a victim of sexual harassment at their place of work. Read more…

Senate group voting tickets

1 August, 2010

Voting above the line?

2010 federal election Senate Group Voting Tickets:

New South Wales GVT

Victoria GVT

Queensland GVT

Western Australia GVT

South Australia GVT

Tasmania GVT

Australian Capital Territory GVT

Northern Territory GVT

Update: Check out Below the line.

2010 federal election “debate”

26 July, 2010

Even though Tony Abbott feels within reach of a “famous victory” (Scott Morrison appears to be taking this a bit too literally) and thinks “there will be a change of government and yes, I think that I will be the next prime minister of Australia”, last night the leaders decided to go ahead with their “debate” regardless. You can read the transcript here. Or you may prefer your whistling with a beat.

Pssst. All this concern about asylum seekers, refugees, immigration, population and sustainability are not based on actual facts. (Well the asylum seeker “issue”, “stop the boats” is pure bullshit).

Liberal policy.

Some facts:

Net overseas migration has plunged to an estimated 240,000 in the year just ended. So far in 2010, net permanent and long-term arrivals (a broadly similar measure) has fallen by almost a third: from 169,000 to 116,000.

Economic consultants BIS Shrapnel predict this trend will continue. In May, they forecast net overseas migration of just 175,000 this year, and 145,000 in 2011-12.

They might be right, might be wrong. But if they’re anywhere near right, the Coalition’s policy is simply to promise what’s already happening.


The door is already closing. How narrow do we want to make it?

Australian education is a big export industry: putting limits on student numbers would be ridiculous. So would denying Australians the right to bring in their partners, or closing Australia to Kiwis.

To cut skilled worker migration would hurt industry. To cut our small refugee intake would be heartless. Demographer Peter McDonald warns that we are blaming migrants for our failure to plan cities properly. I couldn’t agree more.

Indigenous customary law in Queensland courts

26 July, 2010

Here is the Report on pleading and proof of Indigenous customary law in Queensland courts.

This Report examines how indigenous customary law is pleaded and proved in Queensland courts in criminal and civil proceedings. Evidence of indigenous customary law is relevant to matters including native title, criminal law defences, sentencing, succession, family law and heritage protection. […]

This Report does not in any way purport to speak for or represent the views of indigenous Australians, but only to describe the current issues, to highlight the hurdles raised by the State system when indigenous customary law is raised in formal court proceedings, and to identify options for reform.

And so it begins…

17 July, 2010

Yesterday, as speculation was mounting on whether the federal election would be held on 21 or 28 August, Julia Gillard tweeted:

Don’t miss out on your chance to have a say in our future. Go to JG

Today Gillard has seen the governor-general at Government House and is back at Parliament House for her press conference at midday. Only three minutes late, Julia Gillard has now announced the election will be held on the 21 August. Now I guess there will be a lot of “moving forward”….

Update: Writs will be issued 6pm Monday. So those not enrolled will only have till 8pm Monday to enrol.

Get enrolled

6 July, 2010