Thursday, 22 February 2018

Michelle Grattan reports on the Barnaby Joyce soap opera

Barnaby Joyce wields the tea towel in the government's soap opera

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

As Malcolm Turnbull heads for his time with Trump, which carries its own challenges, he has left behind a very untidy-looking ship of state.

Treasurer Scott Morrison and former prime minister Tony Abbott are trading blows over immigration.

Barnaby Joyce, supposedly on “leave”, is out in the media as part of his fightback against those – including Turnbull – who would like him out of the deputy prime ministership. In an at-home-in-Armidale interview with Fairfax, Joyce has spoken about his unborn son, and former staffer and now partner Vikki Campion has produced details of how much she was paid when she moved offices.

The interview took place in the controversial townhouse that Joyce received rent-free from businessman and friend Greg Maguire – which Joyce rather disparagingly describes as “a bachelor’s pad” (and is looking to leave for security reasons).

Abbott’s interventions don’t carry the weight they used to – he isn’t able to cause as much trouble as he once did. Still, when he steps out it is almost always unhelpful to the government.

In a speech on Tuesday he called for immigration to be cut to 110,000, down from about 190,000, criticising the present rate at a time of “stagnant wages, clogged infrastructure, soaring house prices and, in Melbourne at least, ethnic gangs that are testing the resolve of police”.

Treasurer Scott Morrison went out with the take down on Wednesday.

Morrison said he was immigration minister under Abbott and “the permanent immigration intake we have today is exactly the same as it was when he was prime minister. I don’t recall at any time there was any discussion that that should be lowered”.

The “actual facts” were that “the level of permanent migration to Australia has been the same since about 2011, 2012. There has been no change.”

Morrison declared the Abbott policy would cost the budget about A$4 billion to $5 billion over the next four years. “If you did what Tony Abbott suggests, then you would only reduce the proportion that was skilled migration and you’d have a bigger proportion which was family migration which ultimately gets more dependent on welfare.”

Abbott, who has ready and regular access to radio and TV outlets to amplify his voice, was quickly on 2GB declaring “Scott’s problem is he’s been captured by his department.” In case anyone wasn’t paying attention, “Let me repeat that. That is Scott’s problem – he has been captured by his department.”

Morrison was “echoing the standard Treasury view” but “his view is wrong,” Abbott said. Treasury was always in favour of more migration, but “we cannot let the Treasury’s accounting rules determine what is in our long term and medium term best national interests. I mean, we can’t let the tail wag the dog.”

Turnbull can hope the latest iteration of the immigration debate will be over by the time he returns for next week’s parliament. But he knows the Joyce affair will still be live – and that goes to the heart of his government’s future.

The feeling in the Nationals (though it regularly changes) is that Joyce can hang on to his position for now – IF nothing further comes out during what will be an extremely testing week of parliament, especially Senate estimates.

Ahead of parliament, Joyce is putting his side of the story publicly, turning in particular to Fairfax Media because News Corp has spearheaded the charge against him.

In the interview with him and the pregnant Campion, Joyce tells Fairfax: “I don’t want to say have sympathy for me. I just want people to look clinically at the facts and basically come to the conclusion he is not getting a gold star for his personal life, but he has made a commitment, he is with her, they’re having a child, and in a 2018 world there is nothing terribly much to see there.”

“This should be a very simple story - a bloke whose marriage broke down is in a relationship with another person and they are having a child. Now it seems to have gone into some sort of morality discussion. That’s between me and my God. I can understand how Natalie can be angry, absolutely, but how it’s other people’s business, I don’t know.”

With the circumstances and terms of Campion’s employment an issue in the controversy, Fairfax reported that she showed payslips indicating she was paid about $133,000 a year in Joyce’s office, $138,000 when she was moved to minister Matt Canavan’s office, and $135,000 when employed in the office of then Nationals whip Damian Drum. The speculation had been she was paid up to $190,000.

The couple told Fairfax that Canavan and Drum didn’t know about their relationship when Campion went to work for them; Joyce said he hadn’t breached the ministerial code of conduct.

Pressed on when Turnbull first knew, Joyce said: “He never asked any direct questions and to be honest, if I believed it was private, I wouldn’t have told him either.”

Speaking of his unborn son, Joyce said he was “deeply annoyed … that there is somehow an inference that this child is somehow less worthy than other children, and it’s almost spoken about in the third person.

"I love my daughters. I have four beautiful daughters and I love them to death. And now I will have a son. I don’t pick winners, I’m not gonna love one more than another, but I’m not going to love one less than another either.

"I don’t want our child to grow up as some sort of public display. I have to stop it from the start. It’s a fact we are having a child, it’s a fact it’s a boy, it’s not more or less loved than any of my other children.”

The article reported that the only thing Campion would say on the record was that their son’s middle names would be those of her two brothers, who had given support that had “meant so much”.

The ConversationCampion would not be photographed. Joyce posed with a tea towel. The saga has truly become a soap opera.

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Barnaby Joyce returns to his rightful place on page one of the Sydney Tele and other news and views

Barnaby Joyce reveals he would likely have lied to Malcolm Turnbull over his affair if asked - Sydney Daily Telegraph
AN unapologetic and defiant Barnaby Joyce has declared God will be the only judge of his personal choices, revealing he probably would have lied to Malcolm Turnbull over his affair with a young staffer if the Prime Minister had directly asked.
In the first interview alongside Vikki Campion, the mother of his unborn son, from his rent-free Armidale flat he described as “a bachelor’s pad”, Mr Joyce said he will hold on as Nationals Leader because the “tide will turn” and people will “get bored of it”.
Rather than stay out of the limelight during a week of personal leave, Mr Joyce instead gave an interview to a sympathetic Fairfax reporter, insisting “we didn’t breach the code ... we weren’t partners” when plum government jobs were created for Ms Campion, who is due in April.
A song for Barnaby's son as mum and dad are forced to find a new home and it's all the fault of the media - politicalowl
Gender pay gap: Men still earn more than women at most firms - BBC
The majority of small and medium-sized companies are still paying male employees more than their female colleagues.
Almost three in four firms pay higher wages collectively to men, according to the latest government figures.

The mushrooming corruption scandal plaguing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel took a surprising new turn on Tuesday, with an allegation that one of his closest advisers had sought to bribe a judge into dropping a criminal investigation involving the prime minister’s wife.
At the same time, the Israeli police said they had arrested several of Mr. Netanyahu’s friends and confidants, as well as top executives of Bezeq, the country’s biggest telecommunications company, in a widening inquiry into whether Mr. Netanyahu had traded official favors for favorable news coverage.
The new allegations significantly raise the level of political and legal peril the prime minister faces, suggesting that he or some in his camp could be exposed to charges of obstructing justice.
In order to bring real change, Ramaphosa needs to do three things—all of which are essentially about money.
First, he needs to take prompt and concrete action to prosecute Zuma for corruption as well as each person that assisted Zuma in creating a corrupt state. ...
Second, Ramaphosa needs to revive the ANC as an organization, starting by rooting out corruption by promptly removing and prosecuting corrupt party members. ...
A third, urgent way in which Ramaphosa can bring renewal is by urgently probing the role of neo-capitalism in the perpetuation of severe poverty in South Africa.
Stop the presses - Ranald MacDonald in Pearls and Irritations
Hot news! – the ABC has gone right wing.
On radio programs nationally, on Q & A, the 7.30 Report and the Drum, we are being deluged with the views of Murdoch columnists, the IPA, right-wing pollies and the truly vengeful ABC critics seemingly at any time of day or night.
‘Balance’ for the ABC being so eagerly sought by Pauline Hanson and her One Party through Communications Minister Mitch Fifield has been achieved.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

A song for Barnaby's son as mum and dad are forced to find a new home and it's all the fault of the media

Barnaby Joyce and his pregnant partner Vikki Campion claim they have been hounded out of their rent free apartment, and fear their baby son will be viewed "somehow less worthy than other children".
In an exclusive interview with Fairfax Media in Armidale a fortnight after their relationship was exposed, the couple made a direct appeal to politicians and members of the public: "It's time to move on." ... 
Asked why the pair were leaving, Mr Joyce said the address was now widely known and media intrusion had played a part. He gestured to the front gate, where a local television crew had been waiting that morning.
"Because of that," he said.
The Sydney Morning Herald
So here's a song for the little fella.

Nick Xenophon's irrelevant television ad but he still looks the government maker

The Owl doesn't think that advertisements during an election campaign actually have much influence on the final result. In his experience it is a matter of what will be will be. So he believes all the discussion about the impact that Nick Xenophon's South Australia Best television spot will have is irrelevant. But here it is and you can judge for yourself.

What does seem clear is that SA Best will probably be the deciding factor in which party provides the state's next Premier. There's also a realistic possibility of Nick Xenophon himself ending up with the top job

The Owl has taken the prices of the major corporate bookmakers and converted them into probabilities.

Party of next Premier
Labor 39%
Liberal 31%
SA Best 30%

No. of SA Best seats
11 or More Seats39%
9 or 10 Seats16%
7 or 8 Seats12%
5 or 6 Seats11%
3 or 4 Seats9%
1 or 2 Seats8%
No seats5%

As always, the Owl, as a believer in the wisdom of crowds, is interested in the opinion of his readers. So please have a say below.

Scientist winning half a million ignored by Australian media

The Owl has done his Google search and come up with only one mention in the mainstream media - three lines on the SBS news site on 30 January headlined "Aust researcher wins top science prize" reporting that "the prestigious Japan Prize has gone to an Australian scientist whose research is providing the basis for many new medical treatments."
The Atlanta Journal Constitution gave it a mention but the 50 million yen prize ($A590,000 or so) was not deemed worthy of a mention in an Australian paper apparently. Which is strange really because the newsagency AAP's Medianet carried the official press release.

Singalong for Barnaby Joyce's railway land

The childbearing penalty - Why women earn less than men

Why Do Women Earn Less Than Men? - Mother Jones
Sarah Kliff points today to a new study from Denmark on the gender wage gap. Danes are famously egalitarian, and labor force participation is nearly equal between men and women these days. However, Denmark still has a large gender wage gap—nearly as large as the United States, in fact. Why? Researchers Henrik Kleven, Camille Landais, and Jakob Egholt S√łgaard conclude that it’s almost purely a childbearing penalty:

Children and Gender Inequality: Evidence from Denmark - NBER

ABSTRACT Despite considerable gender convergence over time, substantial gender inequality persists in all countries. Using Danish administrative data from 1980-2013 and an event study approach, we show that most of the remaining gender inequality in earnings is due to children. The arrival of children creates a gender gap in earnings of around 20% in the long run, driven in roughly equal proportions by labor force participation, hours of work, and wage rates. Underlying these “child penalties”, we find clear dynamic impacts on occupation, promotion to manager, sector, and the family friendliness of the firm for women relative to men. Based on a dynamic decomposition framework, we show that the fraction of gender inequality caused by child penalties has increased dramatically over time, from about 40% in 1980 to about 80%in 2013. As a possible explanation for the persistence of child penalties, we show that they are transmitted through generations, from parents to daughters (but not sons), consistent with an influence of childhood environment in the formation of women’s preferences over family and career.