Julia Gillard will return to Canberra at the weekend convinced her week in Sydney’s west was a roaring success. And so she should. The PM’s ventures are now measured by the absence of disaster rather than the appearance of achievement.
The greatest criticism of her visit was that it was a stage-managed stunt. But the mere fact it didn’t descend into the shambolic epithet of her declining leadership was a significant accomplishment.
And, to that end, it served the intended purpose.
The PM may not have won the west, but this adventure was not only about the election in September - or the real needs of western Sydney’s 1.6 million residents. It was all about the next two weeks. It was all about Kevin Rudd. And it was about shoring up support in caucus.
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Last night Ted Baillieu resigned as Victorian Premier. His replacement Denis Napthine opened his press conference with fullsome praise for his “good friend” Ted, before being cut off by the division bells and leaving us all none-the-wiser what exactly he had to offer as new leader.
Labor will be spinning this as a problem for Tony Abbott, but it’s certainly not enough to dig Gillard out of her deep, deep hole.
It’s Thursday, what else is on your mind?
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The stuffing is coming out of that plush circle of Liberal governments which has allowed Tony Abbott to sit comfortably as he pummels Julia Gillard.
The federal Opposition has been aided by the fact the ALP has struggled on so many state-based fronts the party everywhere is suffering from a blanket odium which is adding to the disapproval of the Gillard government.
However, there are stark signs that Liberal and Coalition governments in the state and territories are not exactly smoothly-run machines themselves.
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Kevin Rudd’s grand plan was to end the blame game with his radical overhaul of hospital funding. He failed. The blame has been flowing thick and fast over hospital funding cuts in Victoria.
The federal and state governments should share the blame and both should be ashamed when surgeries are cancelled, hospital beds closed, palliative care slashed and emergency departments shut.
Wayne Swan handed his Cabinet colleague Tanya Plibersek a political hospital pass when his Budget update last year moved the goal posts on health funding. That was in the days when he was still clinging to the hope of bringing down a Budget surplus and being brutal.
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Voters are a smart lot and can readily distinguish between state and federal issues come polling time. But there are significant issues at play in Australia’s two most populous states, NSW and Victoria, which go to the perception of the major parties and their fitness to govern.
As things currently stand the 2013 election result could come down to this question – can the ALP’s widely anticipated drubbing in NSW, where the ALP brand has been trashed, be offset by gains in Victoria, where the Baillieu Government is seen as a massive disappointment and where voters are already indicating a willingness to trust Labor again?
The easiest job in advertising right now would be to devise the negative campaign against Labor in NSW. This most degenerate of branches has itself provided such a rich vein of material.
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There was movement at the station for the word had got around that the Feds might have finally gotten something right for a change.
Late yesterday, news filtered through that Tony Burke, Minister for Sustainability, Environment and a bunch of other stuff, had put the kybosh on Victorian premier Ted Baillieu’s absurd, cynical and dangerous plan to reintroduce grazing to the High Country. Good.
Minister Burke rejected a proposal by the Victorian government to allow cattle into the Alpine National Park for five months a year, arguing it was in breach of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. He’s right, too. Parks Victoria is just one reputable body which has produced scientific evidence showing that grazing is detrimental to the High Country.
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The Baillieu Government’s rush to hastily imprison vulnerable youths fails to consider the cost of getting “tough” on crime and the real needs of the community.
The Age reported this week the building and maintenance of a new prison in Victoria will cost taxpayers more than $1.1 billion over 25 years, and according to a government insider, “isn’t value for money”.
And there were further reports today that there is a strong push from the Justice Department to build a new men’s prison which would become Victoria’s largest. But the debate shouldn’t just be about the nitty-gritty of construction contracts.
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There is a certain weathered look to the Greens today. The deep rich hue that has characterised that lovely new t-shirt in recent months has been slightly dulled by political reality.
The decision by the Victorian Liberals to preference the Labor party ahead of the Greens in the upcoming state election is a kick in the guts to the minor party’s chances of, not only holding the balance of power in the new parliament, but getting any seats at all in the lower house.
It’s important decision not only in the context of the Victorian election but the emerging story of the Greens as a real third force in Australian politics.
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There’s a light at the end on John Brumby’s tunnel. And it ain’t no oncoming train because Melbourne’s train system is off the rails.
That’s one of the reasons the electors of Altona – one of the State’s safest ALP seats – gave the Brumby government as massive thumbs down in last Saturday’s by election by handing Ted Baillieu’s Liberals a whopping 12.3% swing.
While the ALP stalwarts were licking their wounds Brumby caused a huge groan to emerge by referring to the swing as “fantastic” – a mate of “The Punch” asked “what IS that guy on?” It has to be remembered that all Big Ted Baillieu needs to form a government is an overall swing of 6.5%.