Tony Abbott is a man with a plan. A stupid plan, but a plan nevertheless. This week a leak to the media revealed his secret proposal to forcibly shift tens of thousands of east coast public service workers to Karratha, Cairns and Darwin.
He also plans to create new tax zones to benefit northerners. Thanks, Tony. You might be offering a tax break, but in exchange we have to put up with a bunch of frowning, slacks-wearing, latte-sipping, weather complainers invading paradise. Hardly seems worth the few extra bucks.
Top Enders would have many practical questions surrounding this idea. Will we all have to commit to saving more stupid croc-ignorant people from our waters?
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It is fashionable to mock the quality of political debate in Australia. Just as bad money drives good money out of circulation, asinine sloganeering and personal attacks appear to have crowded out the serious political debate.
The phrases “moving forward” and “stop the boats” might summarise its recent depth. But blaming Australian politicians is naive. The standard, the complexity, even the eloquence, of political discussion have been decaying throughout the West for many decades.
No longer is an Australian political leader willing or permitted to sit on the Opposition benches for a length of time partly for reasons of ideology or principle, as Arthur Calwell and Bert Evatt did in the 1950s and 1960s.
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Someone called “John Bulance” had a go at Queensland Premier Campbell Newman on Facebook. Within a couple of days nearly 30,000 people had “liked” the entry.
This is the sort of response which would be good for a minor celebrity, and unheard of for an anonymous state paramedic.
“I’ll take the 2.2% (wage) increase and loss of penalties if you and you’re (sic) ministers also take a reduction in pay. Please ride with us for a day to see what we really do,’’ said “John”. When The Punch looked at his site some 28,400 “like” notices were attached.
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I heard comedian Billy Connolly once refer to the concept of a “blame hound.” This is a breed of dog that lies under the table at large meals to take responsibility for all the subsequent noxious fumes.
Canberra is effectively Australia’s blame hound. Australia sends all their politicians here and then criticises us for the things they do. A lot of Australians don’t even realise that most of the Politicians don’t actually come from Canberra.
Here are the usual words that come up when Canberra is discussed: Cold, Soulless, Roundabouts, Politicians, Public servants and of course Why? Why is a very good place to start.
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Given we don’t have an official national dance, I would like to nominate one. Let’s call it ‘the Election Day Waltz’. It has a few tricky steps, then a big finale that always ends up the same way.
New NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell was doing the dance this week. First the light steps through the campaign: ‘there will be no public sector job cuts, there will be no cuts to services’, up there on his tippy toes all grace and poise.
Then he lands with a thud. The day after the election he ‘discovers’ a ‘budget black hole’ and he starts stomping around on the very workers and services he was reassuring just days ago.
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This week heralds another parliamentary bout of Senate Estimates. Government ministers see estimates as a necessary evil that comes with ministerial territory. Some opposition members rub their hands in glee as estimates approach. Others probably reckon they should get a life. But tragic as it may seem, estimates can be about as good as life gets in opposition.
The quaint title comes from ‘estimates’ of government expenditure being referred to Senate committees in the annual budget cycle, for opposition parties to examine the operations of government. Some public servants relish the approaching prospect of being grilled by the Senate; some see it as grist for the mill; others barely tolerate it. And some just don’t show.
This bout of Senate estimates is no different from many before – but for one thing. For the first time ever, the boss of the nation’s workplace umpire Fair Work Australia will show.
(Geoffrey Giudice is due to face Senate Estimates from approximately 10.30am today)
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