Tuesday, 21 August 2012

The sniping about Gillard's past continues

It takes a long time for political mud slinging to register with most voters. So nothing surprising to me that this morning's Newspoll in The Australian shows little change in how it expects people would vote if they were asked to do so now.
Labor would be soundly beaten at an election but perhaps do slightly better than predicted a fortnight ago. The stories about Prime Minister's relationship years ago woith a trade union official allegedly tickling the workers' funds have done no apparent harm.to her and her Labor Party.
But the drip, drip, drip of stories continue with the Sydney Daily Telegraph having this contribution on page five this morning after a pointer on page one.

As I keep writing, this is a story that will not go away.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Steve Gibbons - Labor's biggest fool?

Politicians might not like journalists. They might, in fact, despite them - think they are regular publishers of "blatant untruths." But threatening to fine journalists when they publish misleading or incorrect stories is hardly a way of turning publicity back in your favour. That policy would guarantee nothing more than a renewed expression of bias without any punishable factual errors.
Yet fines are exactly what the Labor member for Bendigo Steve Gibbons advocated in the House of Representatives today. The ABC reported:
Mr Gibbons, the Member for Bendigo, told Parliament that people were losing faith in journalism and voiced concerns about the lack of accountability in the sector.
He said recommendations from the Finkelstein independent review of the media did not go far enough and journalists should be fined for their errors.
"Fines such as these for publishing blatant untruths or misleading news reports, or temporary suspensions of the right to publish or broadcast, would lead to a major improvement in the accuracy and fairness of our media," he said.
Mr Gibbons said he supported free speech, but inaccurate reports degraded public debate on issues of national significance.
"When a media outlet, journalist or redneck shock jock deliberately broadcasts or publishes a statement that they know is factually wrong, and it is subsequently proven that they knew it was factually wrong, they ought to be subject to an appropriate penalty," he said.

Greece Austerity Plan Short by 2.5 Billion Euros as Crisis Intensifies

Greece Austerity Plan Short by 2.5 Billion Euros as Crisis Intensifies - SPIEGEL ONLINE: "Greek Shortfall Growing Ever Larger"
The news of the potentially greater financing needs comes at a sensitive time for the country. Many in Europe, particularly in Germany, are losing their patience and there has been increased talk of the country leaving the common currency zone. Over the weekend, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble reiterated his skepticism of additional aid to Greece. "We can't put together yet another program," he said on Saturday, adding that it was irresponsible to "throw money into a bottomless pit."
'via Blog this'

The Aussie Tim hitting the top of British Labour

Julia Gillard hired a Pom and in Britain Ed Miliband has gone for an Aussie. Albeit an Aussie with some Pommy credentials.
Tim Soutphommasane, drafted into the office of the UK Opposition Leader, might have served some brief time with Bob Carr when he was a Premier and Kevin Rudd during his successful election campaign but he did complete his Doctor of Philosophy in political theory at the University of Oxford, from where he also holds a Master of Philosophy degree (with distinction). Now he has been drafted in to UK Labour's policy review.
Of Chinese and Lao extraction, and a first-generation Australian, Tim was raised in the southwest suburbs of Sydney. On his website the explains for those curious about the correct pronunciation of his surname, that the phonetic spelling of it is Soot-pom-ma-sarn.
A recent interview for the New Statesman explained Soutphommasane's thesis, elaborated in his book Reclaiming Patriotism: Nation-Building for Australian Progressives, that the left must promote a common national identity if it is first to win and then retain power. "One of the reasons why you need to have a cohesive, collective identity in any liberal democratic society is that you need to have a sense of fellow feeling in order to redistribute resources."  Since societies have become more diverse, he said, "You can't take it for granted that citizens will have an identity in common or will be willing to contribute to the common good, and so you have to work hard to ensure that people feel like they belong to a community."
In that interview there was also a veiled criticism of the Australian party of which he is still a member. 
The Rudd-Gillard governments, he said, "have great achievements to their name – the apology to the indigenous people, the establishment of a carbon pricing scheme, the creation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, a massive school-building programme – but they’ve lacked a nation-building story, they’ve lacked a nation-building project."

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Record low Arctic ice looming.

With four weeks to go before the normal low point for Arctic ice coverage is reached, data from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency shows a new record low is likely.
Click on graph for larger image

A story that keeps getting more attention

I've drawn attention a couple of times in my writings this year to how the dealings of Julia Gillard back in the 1990s with a former Australian Workers Union official accused of financial impropriety keep bubbling along as an embarrassment for the government. This weekend the story has left the realms of social media, blogging and email and gone mainstream. It was picked up by a couple of the Sunday morning political talks shows after receiving yet another run in The Australian and coverage in Sydney's Herald Sun.
And now the Liberal Party attack dog Christopher Pyne has made the subject one of open party political debate. He told Sky News there were very serious questions about the prime minister's integrity and she should make a personal explanation to parliament. Files held by Slater Gordon should also be released detailing the circumstances surrounding Ms Gillard's resignation. 'In the interest of clearing the prime minister's name, those files should be released,' the Manager of Opposition Business told Sky News.
Earlier on Sky News Prime Minister Gillard dismissed the report in The Australian with claims about why she quit her job with law firm Slater and Gordon.after the newspaper's editor at large, Paul Kelly, raised the story with her without putting any allegations to her. The report says Ms Gillard resigned as a partner with Slater and Gordon as a direct result of an internal probe into work she had done for a former boyfriend.
The Prime Minister responded by describing the story as "malicious nonsense" and challenged Mr Kelly to come up with an allegation of any wrongdoing on her part. "I'm not going to get myself into a circumstance where I spend my time dealing with a circumstance 17 years ago when the people who are asking the questions about them are unable to even articulate what it is they say I did wrong," she said. "This is just nonsense and a distraction from the important work that I have to do as Prime Minister."