To say there’s a lot of crazy going on in Federal politics is the most subtle of all understatements. When Julia Gillard announced the faraway election date she claimed doing so would provide “stability and certainty” going into the year.
Less than a week later she is accusing her rioting Labor caucus of systematically working against her, two senior Cabinet Ministers have announced their resignations, a suspended Labor MP (who Gillard once said she had “complete confidence in”) has been arrested on 149 charges, and her ALP Vice-President launched a scathing attack on the culture of the party.
So how’s that stability working out for you Julia?
Latest 2 of 191 commentsView all comments
It doesn’t matter if the election is three years or three days away, we’re constantly reminded who the most popular party is, who’s got the preferences, and who’s the preferred prime minister. It never seems to be the actual prime minister or the opposition leader, which is curious.
Every time I see one of these polls, I’m reminded of how I constantly check my phone for messages from my girlfriend. There never is any, because I don’t have one. Political polling is that pointless.
Where do these numbers come from? A surprisingly small number of people, often barely over a thousand. The polls claim a margin of error of only a few per cent, but in Australia we’re talking about complex issues and over 20 million people. I fondly remember a ‘Yes Prime Minister’ sketch that exposed political polling for the farce that it is (see above).
Latest 2 of 139 commentsView all comments
In recent years there have been so many bad policy ideas come out of Canberra it is hard to decide which was the worst. Some will vote for the knee-jerk ban on live cattle exports to Indonesia, some the pink batts fiasco, some the dismantling of Howard’s Pacific Solution.
Personally I think the worst policies, like the best wines, take years to mature. Which is why Peter Costello’s decision to pay the dregs of society to breed always gets my Number One on the ballot paper of dumb things our politicians have done.
But this week after five years in office Labor finally got its act together with a policy to rival the baby bonus for its stupidity. Congratulations are due to Chris Bowen for his “no advantage” test which will apply to asylum seekers who are released into the community.
Latest 2 of 78 commentsView all comments
Babies have been at the forefront of politics lately. Politicians kissing babies is never a bad thing if it serves as a reminder of their current and future responsibilities.
After countless successful missions, it was my millisecond look of sheer terror at the thought of dropping a colleague’s (former Senator Andrew Bartlett’s) four-day-old daughter that made headlines 11 years ago. It’s an award winning photograph by Patrick Hamilton. Needless to say, babysitting offers dropped off after that.
In discussing last week’s changes to the Baby Bonus and the Treasurer’s notion that subsequent children cost less, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, said: “...I think if the government was a bit more experienced in this area, they wouldn’t come out with glib lines like that.”
Latest 2 of 133 commentsView all comments
It is no secret that former Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner and current Prime Minister Julia Gillard are not close.
Tanner of course, announced he was quitting politics on the very day Ms Gillard became prime minister.
If that gesture rubbed some the wrong way, it was nothing compared to the abrasions caused by his new book.
Latest 2 of 77 commentsView all comments
The fate of the Labor Government rests in significant part on the performance of one woman, and yesterday she held a press conference in Canberra with Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
She is Family and Community Services Minister Jenny Macklin, the left-winger who has developed a close working relationship with the right-wing Treasurer Wayne Swan.
One senior public servant has likened their unity ticket to the productive collaboration between former Deputy Prime Minister Brian Howe (Ms Macklin’s previous boss) and then-Treasurer Paul Keating – a meeting of left social concerns and economic conservatism.
Latest 2 of 186 commentsView all comments
Wayne Swan’s 2012-13 blueprint was well crafted and immediately drew errors from the Opposition.
Tony Abbott’s one-speed approach to political combat apparently blinded him to the knuckle-headedness of standing between voters and a wedge of cash.
By invoking the arbitrary principle that cash hand-outs are bad policy, Mr Abbott again showed how bluntly oppositional he is prepared to be. But it was dumb politics.
Welcome to this week’s I Call Bullshit, a regular column where we take a look at codswallop and propaganda, logical failures and brain farts. The big news today is the Government’s plan to pay families to look after asylum seekers.
Last year, to ease pressure on detention centres, the Government started releasing more people into the community on bridging visas – but there’s still not enough room.
So now they’re going to use the Australian Homestay Network - a network of households who have already signed up to look after international students. The Government will cover the costs of room and board – about $140 per asylum seeker per week.
Latest 2 of 282 commentsView all comments
It was a common question over the break: “What’s going to happen in Canberra this coming year - will there be an election?’‘
Politics has always been a rough game but in recent times it’s become a virtual blood-sport with a constant sense that there’s another big event around every corner.
It matters less whether it’s an early election or perhaps a leadership contest on one or both sides. This “what’s-gonna-happen” fascination goes not merely to whether Tony Abbott can maintain the pressure on Julia Gillard he so relentlessly applied in 2011, but also to whether her own colleagues will hold fast or do the unthinkable.
Latest 2 of 171 commentsView all comments
The grace period for not politicising human tragedy is less than 24 hours. Both major parties are in full swing - misinforming the public, drumming up fear and spinning themselves out of any actual policy action.
The fact remains that Australia does not have an ‘asylum problem’ but we do have a problem with our policy response. Receiving less than 1 per cent of the world’s asylum claims in a year is not a problem. People dying at sea is most definitely a problem, unfortunately not one unique to Australia or to Indonesia.
The public debate around Labor vs. Coalition policy proposals can be likened to the saying: “When the finger points at the moon, the idiot looks at the finger.”
Latest 2 of 386 commentsView all comments
On May 25, 1961 United States President John F Kennedy proposed to the Congress that the nation set a goal of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely by the end of the decade.
Kennedy’s comments not only fired the gun in the space race but they also began a productivity revolution. The US would invest heavily in mathematicians and scientists, research and development that would drive innovation and change the nature of business and lifestyles forever.
In the last 50 years technology has been the game changer when it comes to productivity. The introduction of the personal computer and internet to business has revolutionised communications and interaction between businesses particularly in the global context.
Latest 2 of 28 commentsView all comments
Life as a switched-on, concerned and indignant citizen can be confusing. There are so many options.
From screaming leftie to uptighty righty, it’s hard to know exactly which knee-jerk reaction is the best one.
To that end, I’ve compiled a handy guide for you, listing possible scenarios and offering recommendations, based on experience and observation, regarding the best way to react. You’re welcome. It’s called: SO YOU’RE THINKING ABOUT REACTING TO STUFF?
The power of the Roman Empire can be traced back to one key factor: The Romans did not fear death. This was not so much a state of mind or philosophical outlook on life. It was, simply, the law.
This was a society in which making a good speech in the Senate, winning a major victory on the battlefield or even just being Emperor, were all grounds for a swift and unexpected execution.
If the leading men of Rome had permitted themselves to have even the slightest fear of dying no one would have gotten anything done, since the consequence of doing pretty much anything was to be stabbed in the neck by an old friend.
Latest 2 of 247 commentsView all comments
As the winter fog settles over Canberra and the nation’s politicians return to their electorates, there could be no more relieved Australians than the people of Queanbeyan.
Sitting just across the border from Canberra, the city’s small businesses have become a daily stage for the Leader of the Opposition to perform his stunts.
Usually directed against the proposed price on carbon, the hyped-up vitriol is mirrored in broader attacks around the country on anyone who doesn’t support his views whether they be scientists, economists or everyday Australians who dare to believe that dealing with climate change is necessary and urgent.
Latest 2 of 340 commentsView all comments
This is the fourth in a series of essays adapted from the Centre for Policy Development book, More Than Luck: Ideas Australia needs now. Australian culture is rich, deep and diverse and our new federal cultural policy should recognise this, writes Ben Eltham.
Australia has been promised a new cultural policy by the Gillard Government, due sometime in 2011. What is a cultural policy and why do we need one?
Cultural policy is not often treated as an important public affairs issue. But culture touches on many of the things that Australians do, see, hear and engage with everyday. Watching television, reading a newspaper, playing a computer game, updating your Facebook status, sending a tweet, going to a bar to see comedy, even things like gardening and cooking: all of these activities are explicitly cultural.
A Medicare credit card could make healthcare co-payments simpler and more affordable, writes Jennifer Doggett.
If you’ve ever been sick – really sick - in this country, you know that paying your medical bills isn’t cheap.
It’s also complex. Health insurance seldom covers the full cost of a procedure, so patients often leave hospital with a big bill waiting for them. Some of it can be claimed back on Medicare; some of it can’t. As well as being expensive, medical expenses are difficult to understand and a huge waste of time and effort. And all when you’re supposed to be resting and recuperating!
Our current system of health funding is failing. We spend more on health services every year and still many Australians miss out on the care they need.
Latest 2 of 60 commentsView all comments
What use is politics? It’s a question many Australians began to ask in the lead-up to the 2010 election as the Rudd and then the Gillard government ditched what seemed like a policy a day in a bid to lighten their electoral baggage. It was as if the government stood for nought except getting re-elected. What do we expect our governments to deliver, beyond our narrow self-interest?
Some say we get the governments we deserve. To some extent, this is true. When we stop paying attention to politics, we make it easier for politicians to stop paying attention to us.
Yet it is also true that governments get the citizens they deserve. If politicians treat elections as a marketing campaign instead of a genuine contest of ideas, then they should expect people to shop around for the best deal they can get for themselves.
Summer’s not over yet but those of us lucky enough to have secured a decent break over Christmas/New Year are mostly filing back into work this week or next.
So too our politicians where at the national level, a snap poll theoretically can be called at any time.
Latest 2 of 62 commentsView all comments
Most people have no sympathy for hunger strikers - they think they’re crazy.
Peter Spencer is into his seventh week of a hunger strike but he isn’t crazy, he’s just had enough.
He’s so fed up with his lot in life, he’s ready to die.
Latest 2 of 147 commentsView all comments
Christmas is an odd time of year at Parliament. It’s a ghost town populated by a few grumpy staffers who inexplicably have to work and a few merrier journos who spend a rather long time at lunch.
But with such merriment one also has to keep an eye out for the Government dumping the trash when nobody is looking.
On Tuesday night at 6:30 the Government put out a press release quietly announcing that the controversial Men’s Health Ambassadors program, of which Julia Gillard’s partner was the marquee signing, had met for the final time and was being scrapped.
Latest 2 of 7 commentsView all comments
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…