Friday, 20 June 2014

Christopher Pyne in starring role -the commentariat daily for Friday 20 June

2014-06-20_absurdusNo extra words needed, really, to get the flavour of what the Courier Mail thinks of Christopher Pyne's plan to provide funding for the teaching of Latin.
  • Abbott learns to walk tall in the land of giants - Mark Kenny at Fairfax reckons the PM has revealed the right touch in his dealings with the superpowers.
  • The sure grip on undiluted power is slipping - Jonathan Green at The Drum writes of  "what if the accustomed rotating absolute authority of two-party politics, the blank cheque of comfortable majority, became a thing of the past? " and suggests that if "recent polling is any indication, we might be entering a new political era of constant contest and examination, one in which governments may not be trusted as of right to simply brandish their majority and impose their undiluted will."
  • SA state budget 2014 - Tom offers mixed bag of missed opportunity - At The Advertiser, Jessica Irvine writes: ' “DON’T blame it on a decade of Labor. Don’t blame it on a moribund economy. Don’t blame it on an inefficient state bureaucracy. Blame it on Tony Abbott.” Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis whistles a good tune. But his first budget rings hollow. Clearly the temptation to embark on a massive scare campaign against the Abbott Government’s Budget belt tightening proved irresistible for the Labor Government. But South Australia needs a government focused on growth and jobs, not political point-scoring. This Budget marks a missed opportunity. There’s only so much lower interest rates can do to stimulate activity. Households and businesses need the confidence to spend and invest. There is little in this Budget that will help them to do that.'
  • Hockey gifts Treasurer smokescreen for mess - Michael Owen in The Australian: WHEN Joe Hockey handed down an unpopular federal budget last month, South Australia’s new Labor Treasurer, Tom Koutsantonis, could barely contain his glee. Koutsantonis knew he had the perfect script for the weeks leading up to his first budget, already mired in record debt and deficit and falling short of required savings targets and fiscal discipline.
  • Radical rethink needed to achieve justice in rape cases - Gay Alcorn argues in The Age that it just might be that we’ve reached the limit of what the adversarial justice system is capable of doing. If the estimate is true that for every sexual assault committed, only one in 100 will result in a conviction, then the vast majority of women are receiving no justice at all. Alcorn points to work by Rob Hulls, former Labor attorney-general and now the director of RMIT University’s Centre for Innovative Justice, who recently released a major report on restorative justice for sexual assault cases. The report, funded by a $300,000 grant from the former federal government, proposes an alternative to run alongside the regular justice system. In some cases, when both the victim and the offender agree, and where the offender takes responsibility for his behaviour, they would meet with a trained facilitator, sometimes with family or community members present. The idea is for the victim to explain the impact of the crime on them and for the offender to gain insight into the harm they have caused. There’s an outcome, which might be an apology, a commitment to undertake treatment, to stay away from the victim, or compensation. It could be used in cases where police believe there is little chance of success in court, or for historical cases where memory has faded, or in relatively minor cases. Even when an offender has pleaded guilty, a restorative justice conference might reduce his sentence.
  • Axe the tax and save? Peter Fray in The Australian attempts the difficult task of assessing whether the average Australian household be $550 a year better off without the carbon tax. No easy answer apparently but there is this: "The real political problem is that because of rising prices few, if any, voters will see an actual cut in their power bill as a direct result of the carbon tax’s demise. The government will be selling the idea to voters that with the carbon tax they would have been even worse off. This will come as cold comfort."
  • Labor has no chance in a double dissolution election. Graham Richardson in The Oz gives the conventional wisdom that "the government is unpopular but it would win."
  • Don't rule out snap poll is the advice of Steven Scott in the Courier Mail. Not an immediate one mind you. But perhaps next year depending on how Clive Palmer’s senators behave when they gain a say in the balance in power from July. Expect more of these will they, won't they think pieces in the coming month that tell us just as little as this one.
  • Red card looming amid team Abbott's own goals - Attorney-General George Brandis and Education Minister Christopher get a verbal slapping as David Crowe in The Australian asserts the government is dangerously close to fatalism about the effect of its policies. "The conventional wisdom is that Abbott’s chief of staff, Peta Credlin, is pulling the strings behind every move. If that’s so, the ministers certainly aren’t responding as they should. If anything, Abbott and his office seem to show remarkable restraint when ministers wander away from the government’s core business." And the Crowe conclusion? "Perhaps the government will never win the debate over its budget. Still, the hard truth is that it keeps making a mess of its message just when it needs to be persuading voters to accept unpopular change."
  • The vipers are poised to strike - Simon Benson in the Daily Telegraph makes a case for giiving the intelligence services greater power and worries that Attorney General Brandis has a soft underbelly on all this because as a lawyer he is sympathetic to the human rights argument pushed by not only the lawyers in his department but the right wing think tank, the Institute of Public Affairs, which has a surprisingly libertarian view when it comes to national security.
  • Untouchable truths blind - Piers Akerman covers familiar ground in his column: "The priorities of the ABC and much of the ­Fairfax media have been clarified by their response to the trade union royal commission. The most urgent is to ­protect the Left. The principal goal is to protect former prime minister Julia Gillard from any fallout, the secondary task is to protect the Labor Party and current leader Bill ­Shorten, and the third is to mount a defence (if at all possible) of the trade union movement which permitted corruption to flourish." After dispatching with that subject Piers was odd to another favourite: "Sarah Hanson-Young cemented her role as a rolled-gold goose with her truly fulsome (offensive to good taste, especially as being excessive; overdone or gross) welcome to a parliamentary delegation from Afghanistan this week."
  • Labor set for a new battle on the boats - Since being wedged by John Howard after the 2001 Tampa crisis, Labor has struggled to find and fix a coherent policy on asylum seekers says Ellen Whinnett in the Herald Sun. ... There’s never going to be an easy resting place for Labor on this issue.
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