Friday, 24 November 2017

Pauline Hanson's forgotten candidate breaks into our political singalong

Hanson doesn't know her candidate's name

Senator Hanson was visiting a lighting factory in the new seat of Toohey on Thursday morning when asked if she knew the name of the local One Nation candidate.

The candidate, Guansheng (Victor) Zhang, was not present for the press conference and Ms Hanson was open about not knowing who he was.

"I couldn't tell you who the candidate is in Toohey, it's a completely new seat," Senator Hanson admitted.

No reported sightings of Barnaby Joyce as voting gets underway in New England and other news and views

By-election CountryMinded candidate says it's to improve the economy - The Inverell Times
Not many election candidates go into an election proposing the growing of narcotics as the new industry to revive an economy.
But Peter Mailler is up-front about it: “Medicinal cannabis is one of our key platforms. It's potentially a multi-billion dollar industry for Australia."
Barnaby Joyce says he had no prior warning of $40,000 farming prize from Gina Rinehart - ABC
"I'm trying to work out how to be polite on the stage while in the back of my head I'm desperately working out how to get this thing back," he said.
Countdown to the New England byelection is now on - The Guyra Argus
More than 2000 people have already cast their vote in Armidale as the countdown begins to next Saturday’s New England byelection. ... Armidale-based Independent Rob Taber said he’s been busy travelling “up and down” the region for the past two weeks. “I’m trying to get to as many places I can,” he told Fairfax Media on Wednesday night.“It’s so difficult in such a short campaign but we are doing our best and certainly getting around all the major towns.”
The dispiriting Queensland election campaign is a perfect example of Australia's shrinking political ambition - Brisbane Times
The Queensland election is a choice between a Brisbane rail tunnel and a North Queensland power plant and dams. That's about it, really. It's hardly an inspiring contest. It certainly isn't a battle of ideas. In effect, it's a sad, all too recognisable microcosm of Australia's declining two-party political system.
Bitcoin Mining Now Consuming More Electricity Than 159 Countries Including Ireland & Most Countries In Africa - Power Compare

Clarke hints at deal between Murdoch and Cameron: Former justice secretary says Sun switched sides abruptly ahead of 2010 election - Financial Times
Kenneth Clarke has suggested that Rupert Murdoch struck a deal with David Cameron ahead of the 2010 election which ensured that his Sun newspaper would back Mr Cameron’s election campaign. It included taking on Andy Coulson, the former News of the World editor, as communications director, if he won.
Flynn's lawyers end communication with Trump team, signaling cooperation with Mueller: NY Times - Reuters
Lawyers for Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, have told Trump’s legal team they can no longer discuss a probe into Russian meddling in the U.S. election, indicating Flynn may be cooperating with the investigation, the New York Times reported on Thursday.
Country on verge of election as Taoiseach refuses to sack Frances Fitzgerald - The Irish Times
Fine Gael executive council to meet as officials get ready for election in mid-January
No joke: China government warns northern cities to get serious in war on smog - Reuters

Discovery of the cabinet leaker would present bigger problem than the leak

Grattan on Friday:

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

What on earth was Julie Bishop thinking when she declared she’d support a “formal investigation” into this week’s damaging cabinet leak?

Bishop was defending herself as the questions swirled about who might be the leaker, saying it wasn’t her. But to have one of the most senior ministers – she’s deputy Liberal leader too - talking about a probe into cabinet members just underlines the serious breakdown not just in the government’s discipline but in its common sense as well.

The leaked story was by the Daily Telegraph’s Sharri Markson, reporting that a “despondent”: cabinet had discussed, in the context of the backbench revolt on banking, whether the government should capitulate and hold a royal commission.

Treasurer Scott Morrison said no; Peter Dutton, one of the conservatives who has had Malcolm Turnbull’s back, was reported to be “opposed in principle” but open to the idea on pragmatic grounds. But Turnbull remains against changing policy and has said this publicly.

For Bishop the affair is a rerun of an old movie. After a leak from the Abbott cabinet, Bishop denied being the source, saying that if the prime minister found the culprit he would “take some action”.

In retrospect, if not always at the time, it seems obvious the 2015 leaks were mostly inspired by those wanting a coup.

This time, the “who” and the “why” aren’t clear. There is no evidence of any organised push against Turnbull, like there was against Abbott, although leadership speculation has become media grist.

The leaks, of which there have been several, may be driven by the general angst around or reflect jostling by various players in uncertain times.

We’ve seen publicly the respective positioning by Morrison and Dutton on the marriage legislation, with Morrison putting himself at the forefront of the “safeguards” brigade and Dutton – on this issues as on others - looking for a compromise way through.

Anyway, there won’t be an investigation. The Australian Federal Police almost never finds the source of leaks to the media, but imagine if it had an unexpected success! That indeed would present a problem.

Bill Shorten described the situation as the government eating itself. Alternatively, think of an army in untidy retreat, sloshing through heavy mud, when it becomes every soldier for himself.

We’re back to the Gillard days or, for those with a sense of history, to the Liberal party of the late 1960s, as it lost its way in the post-Menzies years.

Despite cabinet’s now well-canvassed discussion, the government is still faced with the push from the Nationals’ rebels for parliament to set up a commission of inquiry (only marginally different from a royal commission) into the banks.

Turnbull has tried to minimise the scope for the rebels and Labor to make trouble by cancelling next week’s House of Representatives sitting, but the action just exposed his weakness.

The rebels are unbowed with Nationals senator Barry O'Sullivan on Thursday circulating his private senator’s bill for “a commission of inquiry into banking, insurance, superannuation, financial and related services”.

O'Sullivan confirms he is determined. “I’m not someone who blinks”, he said. He dismissed suggestions his absent leader, Barnaby Joyce, was trying to dissuade him. He’d spoken to Joyce early on - Joyce just “asked me to keep him posted”.

It should be remembered the Nationals generally have no problem in cracking down on the banks. In fact, if a proposal for a royal commission were put to the Nationals’ party room, it would likely get up. Nationals assistant minister Keith Pitt was blunt on Thursday: “Clearly the government’s position is not for a royal commission, however we do have a number of members in the Nats who think it’s something that they want”.

Amid the tumult, former prime minister John Howard has used the occasion of Friday’s tenth anniversary of being turfed out of office to buy into the contemporary debates on banking and taxation.

The latter debate was reignited after Turnbull held out the prospect of personal income tax relief in a major address on Monday, albeit devoid of detail. On Thursday Finance Minister Mathias Cormann was dealing with scepticism about its affordability, arguing “we have effectively already assumed future further tax cuts in our budget projections”.

Howard claimed a banking commission would be “rank socialism” - to which O'Sullivan says, “I don’t understand what he means”.

As for tax, Howard, who nearly lost office in his (successful) pursuit of a GST, told Sky it would benefit the government “if it were to embrace very significant further tax reform”. This should include the GST, which couldn’t be left “where it is indefinitely”.

The best of luck with that. Turnbull is tossing tax into the mix to try to show voters he has some sugar in his back pocket to put on their tables. But sweeping reform would see losers as well as winners. For a government perennially behind in the polls, with the slenderest majority before it fell into its current minority position, a major tax overhaul including the GST would take more bravery than presently in sight.

The tenth anniversary of the Howard government’s defeat is also the anniversary of the loss of his own seat of Bennelong. Now the Liberals are again fighting to hold Bennelong, after John Alexander became a victim of the citizenship crisis.

It is too early to get a real sense of how that December 16 byelection will go. On a 9.7 % margin, Alexander has a big buffer, as he faces Labor’s Kristina Keneally.

But this week the Liberal campaign, already looking lack lustre, was snagged by an embarrassing 1990s video of Alexander telling a crude Irish joke and another about “a black guy in Chicago” describing a rape.

Alexander wasn’t the only government byelection candidate who became an embarrassment. There was Joyce’s jaunt from his New England campaign to Canberra for “AgDay”, described as the “brainchild” of his good friend Gina Rinehart, who presented him with a $40,000 cheque, reward for being a “champion of our industry”. He only belatedly declined the money.

The ConversationIt was another example of the poor judgement that infects this government.

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

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

A Queensland election prediction

The pollster is telling us this morning that Queensland is having two separate elections tomorrow with each likely to have a different winner. Down in the south east, according to Galaxy published in The Courier Mail, Labor's on the way to victory. The pollster estimates the two party preferred share at Labor 54% (up 1.7 points on the last election) to the LNP's 46%. Out in the regions the LNP lead 52 per cent to Labor’s 48 per cent, a swing towards the LNP of 1.1 per cent.
Put the two parts together and Galaxy has Labor leading 52% to 48% on the statewide two party preferred vote with the following primary vote shares:

  • Labor 37%
  • LNP 35%
  • One Nation 12%
  • Others 16%

Really complicating matters is that high predicted vote for other than the two major parties. Up north Galaxy estimates this "cross bench" share is running at 37%. Galaxy has had a go at distributing all those preferences but the prediction is little better than a lottery.
For what it is worth the betting market is little changed from where it was when the campaign started. Labor are ever so slight favourites - given a 53% chance to the LNP's 47%
My two bob's worth? I'll stick with my belief that the Annastacia Palaszczuk team would not have called an early election without being reasonably confident.
What do you think? Make your prediction below

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Tora Tora Tora Jools (It’s not me) Bishop launches court martial attack on leakers on The Good Ship Turnbull

What Queenslanders think about politics and links to other interesting news and views

Voters see through Turnbull, but cool on Shorten: Queensland research - The Conversation
Malcolm Turnbull’s cancellation of next week’s House of Representatives sitting has been received sceptically by Queensland “soft” voters, but they still prefer the Prime Minister over Bill Shorten, according to focus group research ahead of Saturday’s state election.
Participants were dismissive of Turnbull’s claim he was rearranging the sitting times to concentrate on the same-sex marriage bill. Nor do they believe the marriage issue will boost his fortunes.
But when pressed, these voters don’t agree Turnbull is a dead duck for the next federal election. They think Australia is headed in the right direction, and there is still some hope for him.
The four groups of 10 people each were conducted on Monday and Tuesday, two in Brisbane and two in Townsville. There was a mix of gender, age and socio-economic characteristics. They were run by Landscape Research for the University of Canberra’s Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis.
The Adani lobbyist and Labor insider who smoothed the way for the mega mine - ABC
Adani's lobbyists resigned recently after a job well done.
Headed by Cameron Milner, a former Queensland ALP state secretary, the lobbying firm Next Level had helped Adani get pretty much everything it wanted — through an extraordinarily intense campaign.
Adani began using Next Level to provide lobbying services in Queensland in February 2015.
Alongside Mr Milner, the firm features David Moore, formerly chief of staff to the LNP premier Campbell Newman.
Learning to code will eventually be as useful as learning Ancient Greek - Quartz
Evidence suggests that coding will increasingly be implemented, even planned, by AI systems. This is part of a natural progression from computer-friendly to human-friendly systems.
A new study confirms liquor makes you confident and gives you all the feels - Quartz

Inconvenient Truths About Migration - Robert Skidelsky at Project Syndicate
Standard economic theory says that net inward migration, like free trade, benefits the native population after a lag. But recent research has poked large holes in that argument, while the social and political consequences of open national borders similarly suggest the appropriateness of immigration limits.

New England by-election: Aiming to turn a safe seat into a marginal one

‘You don’t want to be a safe Nats seat,’ CountryMinded says | Profile - Northern Daily Leader
Good political outcomes are driven by political competition, Mr Mailler says.
“If you want your member to work hard for you, they need to know that if they don’t perform, the next election is not guaranteed,” he said.
“Neither side of government is particularly interested in what they can do for these ultra-safe seats. When weighing up where to use its resources, much more likely to throw them at securing a marginal seat than a safe seat.

“The Nationals can’t leverage a position if they hold the seat by more than about five per cent because it’s deemed to be safe.”
The job of CountryMinded is to give people a “progressive, conservative alternative”, and to erode the vote to turn safe seats in to marginal seats
Rob Taber campaigns in Tenterfield - Tenterfield Star
This is the third time Mr Taber has contested the federal seat of New England after securing 36 per cent of the votes last time around on a 2-candidate preferred basis.
Now a week out from the polls he’s confident of winning votes in Armidale due to his high profile there, but spent several hours in Tenterfield introducing himself to people in Rouse St in order to win a few more votes at the northern end of the electorate.
His chances may be boosted by receiving second preferences on Mr Joyce’s ticket, but vehemently denied any deal to swap preferences with the front-runner.
"I don't allocate preferences," Mr Taber said.
"I only say to vote 1 for me. I believe preferences belong to people not parties."
Barnaby Joyce declines to take Gina Rinehart’s money - The Inverell Times

Gina Rinehart's sway over agriculture policy questioned after Barnaby Joyce award - ABC