Thursday, 30 November 2017

Nationals force reluctant Turnbull to dress in Shorten's banking clothes

Grattan on Friday:

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Only a few months ago Bill Shorten would have thought that if he won the election he’d be delivering same-sex marriage and a royal commission into banks early in his government.

Now Malcolm Turnbull is bringing us both – in each case, his hand forced by a (different) group of rebel backbenchers.

The marriage bill, which will go through the House of Representatives next week, has some disgruntled conservatives arcing up after the Senate rejected their amendments, but Turnbull will mark it down as one of the achievements of his prime ministership.

It’s another matter with the banking royal commission. Seldom is a government’s impotence and frustration as much on display as it was when Turnbull finally capitulated and announced on Thursday that the government would establish the inquiry it has so long resisted and denounced.

For quite a time political hardheads had been arguing the government should accept the inevitable and “own” an inquiry. Well, now it does - and what a reluctant owner it is, miserable and bitter.

Turnbull and Treasurer Scott Morrison lamented that setting up the royal commission, which covers superannuation and insurance providers as well as banking, was “regrettable but necessary”, driven by the political circumstances in which they found themselves.

In the end, there wasn’t a choice.

The bad result for the Liberal National Party in Saturday’s Queensland election strengthened the hand and determination of the federal rebel Nationals, set on pushing Nationals Barry O'Sullivan’s private senator’s bill for parliament to set up a commission of inquiry.

Two lower House Nationals, George Christensen and Llew O'Brien, were willing to cross the floor to give the bill the numbers there. In the background Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce, on the New England campaign trail, was not resisting the flow. Joyce judged that if the issue reached the Nationals party room, the commission would get support.

The Nationals also knew an inquiry had strong public backing, a point underlined by an Essential poll this week showing 64% wanted a royal commission. That included 62% of Coalition voters.

The banks themselves came to accept that opposition had become too costly. In their Thursday letter to the government (flagged late Wednesday) advocating “a properly constituted inquiry”, the chairmen and chief executives of the four major banks said it was “in the national interest for the political uncertainty to end.

"It is hurting confidence in our financial services system, including in offshore markets, and has diminished trust and respect for our sector and people”, they wrote.

As Australian Bankers’ Association chief executive Anna Bligh, former Queensland Labor premier, put it bluntly, it was too a big a risk to have a inquiry where the terms of reference and choice of commissioner were in “the hands of minor parties and fringe elements of the parliament”.

On Tuesday and Wednesday O'Sullivan, Turnbull and senior ministers sparred over the issue. O'Sullivan, a tough ex-cop from Queensland, says the government didn’t try to get him to drop his bill. Rather, it was attempting to “manage time”. He knew it was working on something, though he didn’t know what.

The ministers wanted to find out when his bill would be ready for the Senate. Some say O'Sullivan put it on pause. He denies this, saying his negotiations with the Greens and others and the preparation and printing processes pushed it back to early Thursday, which helped the government.

Cabinet met first thing that morning – Turnbull’s announcement was at a 9am news conference. The bill had done its job without having to make an actual appearance in parliament.

The government’s perennial arguments – until Thursday - against a royal commission have included that it would undermine international investor confidence in Australia’s banks and that an inevitably prolonged inquiry would have delayed the reforms the government has introduced or proposed.

The first proposition will be tested now that the inquiry is to proceed. It is doubtful, however, that overseas investors are as easily frightened as the government has been suggesting. They’re surely sophisticated enough to understand the fundamentals of our banking system, and those are sound.

The government has maintained its measures are adequate to address the issues but O'Sullivan and other proponents of an inquiry insisted they would not deal with the dimension of “culture”. The banks’ “profit before people” attitude, as Nationals senator John Williams puts it.

A circuit breaker is needed to restore public confidence in banks. But the material to emerge during the inquiry may lower that confidence further before there is any sign of its restoration.

The royal commission will be led by a former or serving judicial figure and will be asked to deliver a final report by February 1, 2019, with an interim report before that. The terms of reference will be tight: “it’s not going to be an inquiry into capitalism”, Turnbull said.

The Nationals’ brutal power play may deepen tensions between Liberals and the junior Coalition partner. Not that the Nationals care that much. Christensen didn’t hesitate to rub salt into Turnbull’s open wound. “I just don’t understand why it took a number of National Party backbenchers to drag the Prime Minister kicking and screaming to this decision,” he said, in a cutting but pertinent observation.

O'Sullivan was more diplomatic, speaking of Turnbull “making his own journey.” A journey, it might be said, under armed escort.

Meanwhile the Nationals were relishing shades of the 1937 royal commission into the banking system. As a Senate report of a few years ago recounted,
“At the 1935 election the Country Party (and the Labor Party) had promised an inquiry and when the conservative government led by Joseph Lyons was forced to form a coalition with the Country Party, he agreed to establish an inquiry”.

If it had responded much earlier to the pressure for an inquiry the government could have hoped to reap credit for appreciating the depth of public complaints and concerns.

As it is, with its grudging decision through gritted teeth, it doesn’t seem to be looking for plaudits.

But the political reality is that by establishing the royal commission it has neutralised one of Shorten’s issues.

The ConversationFor all that, it could be a Shorten government that deals with the commission’s ultimate recommendations. By the time the final report rolls round, an election will be imminent, assuming the royal commission runs on time and the government runs full term.

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

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

The remark of a personal nature that angered Barnaby Joyce

Man on other side of Barnaby Joyce stalking accusation speaks up about hat-flicking pub incident - Northern Daily Leader
The man, a one-time Tony Windsor supporter who said he is no longer aligned with any political party, said the first time he had met Mr Joyce was unplanned at a Bingara pub.
The second time was the Graman Hotel.
The man said he had canvassed friends on “What would you like me to ask Barnaby?” before he arrived, so “I had a big list of questions to ask”.
"He was friendly initially and then I asked him whether he was going to pay back the money he had earned while he was illegally in parliament. That obviously hit a nerve,” the man said.
"Then he's like, ‘Who are you with? Who sent you?’ I'm like, ‘I'm with no one’.”
The man said that he had mentioned mining magnate Gina Rinehart's $40,000 agriculture award (which Mr Joyce declined) and “he took umbrage with that”.
"His supporters, of which most of the people in the pub were, sort of started to round on me a bit,” the man said.
“One of them threatened to throw me down the stairs,” he said.
"Barnaby said, ‘Mate, you're being a goose ... I’m going over there’ and he walked off.”
The man said about half an hour later, as Mr Joyce was leaving, he came back over .
"He shook my hand and I said, ‘Barnaby, I'd like to make your life difficult because it seems nobody is asking you the difficult questions’ or words to that effect,” the man said.
“He said, I'll be at the Tamworth Leagues Club, as if it was an invitation, and walked out.”
As Mr Joyce moved to the door the man made the statement about the candidate’s personal life.
"He stormed back in … and loomed over me, hissing ‘What did you just say’? He was definitely being very threatening,” the man said.
"My friend grabbed him by the elbow and then he flicked my hat off and stormed out.
"They're the only encounters I have ever had with Barnaby."
The pub incident was backed up by a witness, who is also a friend of the man.
The witness said he believed Mr Joyce had assumed his friend was a Greens supporter and, as a result, “had immediately dismissed him, his questions and the relevance of his questions”.
The witness confirmed that a comment of a personal nature was made towards Mr Joyce as he was leaving the pub.
The man said Mr Joyce did a U-turn and came back at his friend in a “very aggressive manner”.
“I intervened in a placid way to try to prevent Barnaby from escalating [the incident],” the man said.
He said he encouraged Mr Joyce to leave, saying that “it's probably not worth it”.
NOT stalked or ambushed! Aggro Joyce gets in another Barney with constituents - Independent Australia
Barnaby Joyce, the man who wants to be deputy PM again, has a volatile temper and deals with constituents by denigrating them if they disagree with him.Barnaby Joyce, the man who wants to be deputy PM again, has a volatile temper and deals with constituents by denigrating them if they disagree with him. ...
Barnaby was halfway out the front door when the environmentalist bloke bade him farewell by saying:
“Say hello to your mistress for me.”
It wasn’t said loudly, but Barnaby, who is clearly not hard of hearing, spun on his heels as if stung and, fists clenched, stormed back into the bar.
Face bright red and spitting chips, Barnaby loomed his 1.85-metre frame over the smaller man and demanded:
“What did you say?”
There was silence in the bar. Slack jaws all around, including Barnaby’s minder, who you would think would be equipped to handle these kinds of situations — it’s hard to think it was his first.
The martial arts guy stepped in. He took a gentle hold of Barnaby’s elbow to stop his arm moving about and said something like,
“Mate, he said don’t miss us, now calm down.”
Barnaby sort of did but, in a final act of petulant defiance, reached down and knocked the environmentalist’s hat from his head.
It was a near thing.
New England by-election: Barnaby Joyce up for fight - The Weekly Times
BARNABY Joyce says he’s “not taking anything for granted” as he faces voters this Saturday in a bid to win back the seat of New England. While the Nationals leader — who was disqualified from Parliament in October due to his dual citizenship — is hotly anticipated to win easily, rival candidates maintain Mr Joyce is “out of touch” with the electorate.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Memories. Memories. Sam flies to Melbourne for 2 minute tv cameo re-enactment ... tonight gets 30 minutes on every careful what you wish for....

'Pathetic' and 'pitiful': Veteran Labor MP Laurie Ferguson takes a swing at colleague Sam Dastyari for cameo in The Killing Season - Sydney Morning Herald June 17, 2015
Veteran Labor MP Laurie Ferguson has hit out at his colleagues taking part in dramatic re-enactments of Labor's leadership wars in the sensational ABC television documentary The Killing Season.
Mr Ferguson singled out parliamentary newcomer Senator Sam Dastyari, who served as the ALP's New South Wales state secretary when Kevin Rudd was rolled, for particular criticism.
Senator Dastyari was filmed talking on his iPhone 6 walking down Lonsdale Street in Melbourne and sitting at a park bench.
He recounted receiving a phone call from the ALP's pollster in 2010 warning the Labor Party would be "bloody stuffed" at an election if Mr Rudd remained leader.
Mr Ferguson told Fairfax Media Senator Dastyari's performance was "pitiful".

Hats off for Barnaby - Is New England all over bar the voting?

Bill Shorten avoids New England byelection for entire campaign - Financial Review
Barnaby Joyce has complained about being stalked throughout the New England byelection, but not by Bill Shorten.
The Labor leader will not make a single visit to the seat which goes to the polls on Saturday. It is expected that Mr Joyce, who was dismissed from Parliament for being a dual citizen, will be re-elected.
On the campaign trail in the New England by-election, but where's Barnaby Joyce? - ABC
Is the outcome of this weekend's New England by-election a foregone conclusion?
Judging by the way Barnaby Joyce is campaigning, you could be forgiven for thinking it is.
"Barnaby Joyce believes that he is going to win this seat on his reputation and he doesn't need to campaign," said CountryMinded Party candidate, Peter Mailler.
Barnaby Joyce claims he is being stalked following a heated encounter at a New England pub - Brisbane Times
Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce claims he is being stalked but won't deny flicking a man's hat off during a heated encounter in a New England pub.
Fairfax Media can reveal the Nationals candidate was confronted in the Graman Hotel near Inverell on Monday night and questioned about family matters.
Greens Party's Peter Wills meets Tenterfield supporters - Tenterfield Star
Mr Wills is positioning himself as a link between Greens supporters and agricultural communities, being known as a staunch activist in the long campaigns against the Shenhua coal project, BHP Caroona mine, and against Santos CSG projects in the Pilliga. A CSG exploration licence covers the family farm.
Mr Wills said the Greens campaign will focus on protecting land and water from unwanted and unnecessary coal mines and CSG wells development into the region, and helping workers transition to sustainable jobs in the renewable energy economy.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Singalong for the prospect that a politician's child will be Australia's number 25 million

Twitter tells us that a politician will be father of a child due in February or March. The ABS population clock predicts the country's population to reach 25 million about the same time. So singalong and wish him luck.

Ringo Starr for the defence of older men preying on teenagers and other news and views

Breitbart editor says 1973 Ringo Starr song proves Roy Moore didn’t do anything wrong - Think Progress
During a CNN appearance Monday morning, Breitbart senior editor Joel Pollak attempted to justify Roy Moore against allegations that he molested children and sexually assaulted teenagers by citing a lyric from a song popularized by Ringo Starr more than 40 years ago.
“You know, in 1973 Ringo Starr hit number one on the Billboard charts with the song, ‘You’re 16, you’re beautiful, and you’re mine,'” Pollack said. “He was 30-something at the time singing about a 16-year-old — you want to take away Ringo Starr’s achievement?”
Why are the banks so scared of a commission of inquiry? - SMH

Banks And Governments Paying Attention As Bitcoin Hits Record Highs - NPR
Over the past year, Bitcoin's price has gone up more than 900 percent. It's a level of growth unheard of in traditional investing markets. Now, banks, governments, and everyday people are wondering if Bitcoin is the future of money, a giant bubble ready to pop or something in between.
Queensland election: a policy challenge for the Coalition - Pearls and Irritations
The Queensland election has been a disaster for the Liberal-National Party. There is a risk that the Coalition will misinterpret the result and become even more alienated from the Australian electorate.
There was no way one party could satisfy the demands of non-metropolitan Queensland and the people of the urbanised south east with one suite of policies or one election pitch. ... The Labor Party, with its last-minute rejection of support for a loan for Adani (and perhaps a reading of the extraordinary Green win in Northcote, Victoria), went for a strategy of sacrificing support in the north and building support in Brisbane. It worked – just – but demographic movements mean that it should be a successful strategy for the future. And what goes for Queensland goes more strongly for the nation’s more urbanised other states and territories. A swing to the socially-conservative right would not be a sound strategy for any party.
NBN rollout delay a blow to Turnbull government in Bennelong - The New Daily

Gun Sellers Rebound a Bit From Trump Slump - Bloomberg
Black Friday deals and an advertising blitz help make up for slow sales tied to Republican control of Congress and the White House.
While no exact count of firearms sold in America exists, a common barometer is the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. This year, the FBI said it received just over 203,000 requests on the mega shopping day, up from 185,713 last year and twice as many as in 2008.

Barnaby Joyce faces death threats on his campaign trail

We don’t take it as a joke. If they’ve got a bullet, they’ve probably got a fire-arm to use it. We've been to the police but it’s not going to change the way I do things.
Barnaby Joyce
The Nationals candidate for the New England by-election, Barnaby Joyce, met party workers in Glen Innes and told them he thought they were “going to get a handy sort of result”.
He faced some barracking from a few people outside the newly rented Nationals’ office on Grey Street as he addressed about thirty people inside.
His visit to Glen Innes was only announced to local media a few hours before and no crowds of either supporters or opponents greeted him.
He’s had death threats and a bullet sent to his office but said it wouldn’t change the way he worked (in the video, it’s his first answer).
Is he shunning big public events? “I’ve done a number of forums. I’m here. I’m walking up and down the halls. I’m making sure I’m publicly available.

Monday, 27 November 2017

Our New England election update an other news and views

New England by-election: what voters want to hear - The Glen Innes Examiner
The desire for more renewable energy projects in the electorate was one of the most popular answers. ... Another issue of concern for voters was the National Broadband Network (NBN). While Armidale has fibre to the premise, the rest of the region will receive fibre to the node (FTTN). Critics say FTTN is inferior technology, which will not meet the nation’s digital needs as more and more business is conducted online.
Medical cannabis, a topic close to the heart of New England, particularly those in Tamworth, is an issue many within the electorate are keen to see progress on.
... Respondents said their biggest concern with the Shenhua Watermark coal mine and the Santos Narrabri Gas Project was the potential damage and contamination the developments could have on the under ground water table, which is an important source of water for farmers across the greater region.
Bubble or breakthrough? Bitcoin keeps central bankers on edge - Reuters
Central bankers say the success of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is just a bubble.
If Trump’s FCC Repeals Net Neutrality, Elites Will Rule the Internet—and the Future
“This naked corporatism is Washington at its worst,” says former FCC commissioner Michael Copps.
How Our Broken Justice System Led to a Sexual Harassment Crisis
A series of powerful men have been accused of serious crimes, with little legal accountability. Sound familiar?
Former U.S. Joint Chiefs chairman says use of nukes ‘more probable’ with ‘unpredictable’ Kim - Japan Rimes

Bank inquiry almost certain after Nationals secure crucial second vote - AFR
Government in crisis :Ireland on the verge of a general election - Irish Times

Xi Jinping bids adieu to his fellow princelings - Nijjei Asian Review
Obedience, not bloodline, is the currency that counts in the new team

Pauline's Bundy rum and the LNP aftertaste

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Barnaby Joyce's behaviour finally becomes a New England campaign issue

Perhaps now the mainstream media will break its silence and start reporting on the allegations being made in New England about unseemly behaviour by former deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce. The former independent member for the electorate Joyce is standing in this Saturday took to Twitter today with this comment:

While it is just the latest in a series of tweets by Tony Windsor, it is one of the most specific. You can put it into context by reading this item  by the Owl on 21 November "Trying to make sense of the social media references to the problems of Barnaby Joyce." As Mr Windsor has tweeted, "If sexual harassment to be really dealt with ppl need to out these people ..silence means complicence , time to stare it down." And in another tweet from Mr Windsor: "Petrified girl ,Mother worried about consequences , prominent figure ...frightened ppl believe the system will fail them."
The members of the federal press gallery have squibbed writing about these issues which involve allegations that that an MP chased a young women into a toilet & molested another after the 2012 Rural Women Awards.
See also Sexual harassment and a shocking failure by the Canberra press gallery

The intimidating strategy of Alan Jones and Ray Hadley plus some other news and views

Bennelong by the numbers: The voters who could decide Malcolm Turnbull’s fate - The New Daily
More Bennelong residents describe their ancestry as Chinese than Australian or English. In total, 51.7 per cent were born overseas.
Gone to the dogs: intimidating strategy Alan Jones and Ray Hadley used in war against Mike Baird - Imre Salusinszky who was media director for former premier Mike Baird on the SMH website
Make a ludicrous claim and say you don't buy the denials. But even if the denials are true, "this is what is being said" ... by you. ... You can see the strategy: before you do any "checking whether that's true or not", quickly put the slur to air, and accuse the Premier of "corruption of process". ... Tabloid media in NSW is collapsing. Younger audiences have no interest in its agenda, and its power resides largely in the minds of the Coalition MPs it seeks periodically to intimidate and terrorise. But in the meantime, rather than arguing about scalps, it would be worth discussing whether this behaviour serves the interests of journalism, of rational public policy, or indeed of democracy in NSW.
The effects of employer payroll tax cuts on employment, business activity and wages - Vox
Cuts to the employer portion of payroll taxes are often discussed as a policy lever to reduce labour costs for firms. This column examines the effects of a Swedish experiment which dramatically cut employer payroll taxes for young workers between 2007 and 2015. The tax cut reduced youth unemployment by 2-3 percentage points, without any differential increase in wages of young workers. Firms used the tax windfall to expand employment and business activity, and firms with larger tax windfalls raised wages for workers – both young and old – collectively.
Why England and Australia love to hate each other: Anglo-Australian sport is invariably played with unusual and sometimes disturbing fervour. - The New Statesman

Sugar industry withheld evidence of sucrose's health effects nearly 50 years ago, study shows - Science Daily

Sunday Morning Coming Down for Pauline's One Nation

The Owl's Queensland election commentary:

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Waiting for Amazon in Australia and other news and views

The Amazon Effect - Conversable Economist
One of the ongoing puzzles of the US economy in recent decades is why inflation has stayed so low. Even outgoing Fed Chair Janet Yellen has highlighted this puzzle. The "Amazon effect" may be part of the answer: basically, the Amazon effect is that a higher level of competitive pressure from the rising level of on-line retail sales is holding back price increases that might otherwise have occurred.
Saudi Arabia’s Arab Spring, at Last: The crown prince has big plans to bring back a level of tolerance to his society. - New York Times

Senior party figures express hope the ballot result will bring to an end the infighting
Law, Politics and Ideology: The Regulatory Response to Trade Union Corruption in Australia - UNSW Law Journal 

Europe at Its UgliestT: he Refugee Scandal on the Island of Lesbos - Der Spiegel
As winter arrives, the situation on the Greek island of Lesbos is unsustainable. Conditions at the refugee camps are horrific and island residents are tired of being left in the lurch by Athens and the EU.
With the loss of its caliphate, ISIS could turn even more reckless and radical - Washington Post

Muslims Are Often the First Victims of Muslim Terrorists - Bloomberg
The massacre in Egypt is only the latest grim reminder.

Friday, 24 November 2017

Sexual harassment and a shocking failure by the Canberra press gallery

What we call the mainstream media has largely been absent from the New England by-election. The consensus wisdom apparently is that Barnaby Joyce will win easily so there is nothing to report. Let the yokels of the local papers do their thing reporting on the 16 other candidates. We smarties of the Canberra press gallery will get on with covering important matters while the deputy Prime Minister coasts to victory. Not for them to stick their bib into the questions of sexual harassment and worse that are continuing to surface in the wilds of the social media. The commentators on what they regard as the important matters of political life have decided that the private life of a politician should stay private and is not a legitimate concern for the voters.
This attitude of the Canberra press gallery stands in stark contrast to the approach of their peers in other countries to matters of sexual harassment by elected politicians. And I am not writing here about the stories of a Coalition minister having a sexual liaison with a member of his staff that did or not result in an abortion. The seemingly uninvestigated matter is one alleging that an MP chased a young women into a toilet & molested another after the 2012 Rural Women Awards. And the allegation comes not from some anonymous miscreant on Twitter but from the highly regarded former independent member for New England Tony Windsor.
You will find references to the incident in my report Trying to make sense of the social media references to the problems of Barnaby Joyce. As Mr Windsor has tweeted, "If sexual harassment to be really dealt with ppl need to out these people ..silence means complicence , time to stare it down." And in another tweet from Mr Windsor: "Petrified girl ,Mother worried about consequences , prominent figure ...frightened ppl believe the system will fail them."
Surely that's a matter of sexual harassment deserving of investigation.
But in one sense, I suppose, it does not matter. In small cities like Armidale and Tamworth it does not need a report on the National Nine News or in the Sydney Morning Herald for news to spread. Rumours true and false spread widely enough by word of mouth.
The issues raised by Mr Windsor will have their influence on the result on 2 December despite the virtual mainstream media blackout.

"You hit the wrong note Billy Goat" makes a fitting end to the Queensland election campaign

"Vote One Nation?": Qld LNP leader's 'Steven Marshall moment'

Queensland Liberal National Party leader Tim Nicholls has blamed the effect of a 27-day state election campaign for a slip of the tongue in which he almost urged voters to support One Nation at tomorrow's poll - a gaffe eerily echoing South Australian Liberal leader Steven Marshall's infamous election-eve appeal to "Vote Labor". - From InDaily

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

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Does Brexit really mean a British exit? A German look at reversing Britain's decision to exit the EU and other news and views

The Dreamers: Doubts about Brexit on the Rise in Britain - Der Spiegel
It has often been said that Brexit means Brexit. But does it? With Prime Minister Theresa May showing weakness and the negotiations dragging, some are hoping that Britain's departure from the EU can be warded off.
Australian rock star Nick Cave to boycotters: ‘I love Israel’ - J Wire
Australian rock star Nick Cave is facing backlash from BDS supporters following a performance in Tel Aviv, where he accused the anti-Israel movement of trying to bully and censor him.
Jeffrey Archer: Jeremy Corbyn will be PM because the voters are sick of us Tories - The Spectator
The bestselling novelist on the Labour leader’s good points — and why he’ll keep writing to the end
Coalition Talks Collapse :Germany Wins, Merkel Loses - Der Spiegal
The collapse of coalition negotiations in Berlin is a win for political clarity in Germany. The parties involved would hardly have been able to govern effectively together. But it marks the end of Chancellor Merkel's style of governing.
India to hit peak coal demand faster then expected, says report - Financial Times

If sitting is the new smoking, should employers be held liable? - Science News

The Platform Economy - Project Syndicate
While developed countries in Europe, North America, and Asia are rapidly aging, emerging economies are predominantly youthful. Nigerian, Indonesian, and Vietnamese young people will shape global work trends at an increasingly rapid pace, bringing to bear their experience in dynamic informal markets on a tech-enabled gig economy
This is the elaborate system Congress created to protect sexual predators on Capitol Hill - Think Progress
There's no workplace that makes it easier to be a sexual predator than Congress.

Citizenship crisis claims Nick Xenophon Team's Kakoschke-Moore

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Nick Xenophon Team senator Skye Kakoschke-Moore has resigned from parliament after being advised she is a British citizen via her mother, in another blow to the party.

The NXT has three Senate spots, as well as one member in the House of Representatives, Rebekha Sharkie – whose future is under a cloud in the citizenship crisis.

A tearful Kakoschke-Moore said she was “heartbroken” by the news. She had previously not believed she had British citizenship and had only checked when preparing the declaration to be presented to parliament.

Her mother was born in Singapore to British parents, and migrated to Australia with her family.

“Usually where a parent is born outside of the UK they are unable to pass their citizenship on to their children where those children are also born outside of the UK. It was my understanding for my entire life that I was not eligible for British citizenship due to that rule.”

When she was living in Oman as a child her father had inquired whether she was eligible for a British passport and was told she was not because she wasn’t eligible for citizenship. “We had no reason to doubt that this advice was incorrect.”

But the British Home Office had now advised her that, through a complicated train of circumstances, her mother became a British citizen under British legislation of the early 1980s “and I am therefore a British citizen under … the British Nationality Act 1981”.

She said she would ask that her case be referred to the High Court.

The issue is particularly complicated for the NXT because the next candidate on its ticket, Tim Storer, is no longer in the party after falling out with it.

Storer had wanted to replace Nick Xenophon when he quit the Senate for state politics. But it was a casual vacancy and Xenophon was able to appoint his staffer, Rex Patrick.

Xenophon told a joint news conference with Kakoschke-Moore that preliminary legal advice was “that we’re in uncharted legal territory as to whether it would be a countback or some other mechanism of dealing with this” vacancy.

The NXT will argue that Storer should not get the spot because he is no longer in the party. But Anne Twomey, constitutional expert from Sydney University, said she very much doubted the argument would fly.

Xenophon said he hoped that Kakoschke-Moore would be back in the Senate soon, at least after the next Senate election.

He said Kakoschke-Moore’s circumstance was completely different from that of Sharkie – who didn’t receive her confirmation of renouncing her British citizenship until after her nomination went in.

The British Home Office had pocketed her money before the nomination, Xenophon said. He said the initial legal advice was that she was in very strong position.

“There may be a referral. I think that what we’ll expect to see in coming days is a whole stack of referrals to the High Court from people from the major parties and crossbench as well.”

The ConversationKakoschke-Moore is the ninth member of the federal parliament to have either resigned or been knocked out by the High Court over being a dual citizen at the time of nomination.

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

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

Maybe, just maybe, Barnaby Joyce will have time to sing about friends while down on his farm

Barnaby Joyce on receiving a $40,000 cheque from Gina Rhinehart:

“All I’m thinking about now is the things I’m going to do on my own farm to be quite frank”

The message Malcolm Turnbull will get from Newspoll

Click to enlarge

What will the magic number be? An increase on the 56% figure last time will surely add extreme pressure on Malcolm Turnbull when parliament returns a week later.

Halle Berry's revenge on groping South Australian Senator

South Australian senator Skye Kakoschke-Moore will resign from the Senate after discoveing she obtained British citizenship through her mother.

The letter reminding Malcolm Turnbull of his manic Monday a reason for "Let Me In"

When Malcolm Turnbull announced his cunning stunt to postpone parliament the Owl decided that Manic Monday was the appropriate political singalong. That tune still catches the flavour of the political environment as Labor and the motley collection of third parties find ways to remind people of how the Turnbull team is Running Scared. (Have a listen to that appropriate singalong HERE.)
But in preparation for next Monday when some Opposition members will turn up to protest at not being allowed to work in the House of Representatives, what could be more appropriate than this:

Barnaby Joyce enters the New England campaign with a $40,000 prize cheque

Gina Rinehart hands Barnaby Joyce a $40,000 National Agriculture Day award - The Weekly Times
UPDATE: BARNABY Joyce will not be accepting $40,000 bestowed on him by mining magnate and cattle queen Gina Rinehart last night, The Weekly Times understands.
It’s understood Mr Joyce will not be accepting the prize money at all, and it will be returned to the award’s organisers.
The Nationals leader and former agriculture minister took time out from campaigning in the New England by-election to attend a gala dinner in Canberra last night, where Mrs Rinehart delivered the award, and accompanying cheque, for leadership and advocacy in the industry.
In her speech, Mrs Rinehart singled out Mr Joyce as “a champion of our industry and our friend”.
“The agriculture industry was very fortunate to have had such a dedicated, understanding and enthusiastic Minister, one with years of first-hand experience,” she said.
“A real Aussie country boy, and boy do we hope you return!”
But National Farmers Federation Fiona Simson has sinced claimed on Twitter she was left “completely surprised” by the award, which she had not been consulted about.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

With election campaigning in full swing will the baby punch replace the baby kiss?

Things are getting hectic in Queensland and Bennelong. An Owl reader asks how far off are we from a baby punch in our local shopping mall.

Trying to make sense of the social media references to the problems of Barnaby Joyce

If you are trying to sort out the social media references to Barnaby Joyce, this collection of recent tweets by Tony Windsor might help.

Who is the mystery Coalition MP blackmailing his team in an effort to oust Malcolm Turnbull as PM?

Well the Secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions does not think Andrew Bolt is having a lend of us. Ms McManus has had a go at naming the mystery MP Bolt says has told him that he'll quit the Turnbull Government next month if Malcolm Turnbull is not sacked as Prime Minister.

Well, not quite named him, but Ms McManus has certainly narrowed the field.
And it is a wonderful guessing game which the Owl thinks deserves a prize. Put in your entry by midday Monday by adding a comment at the end of this item with the mystery name.
If and when the identity is ever revealed the Owl will randomly select one of the correct entries.
And the prize?

The Greatest Hits of The Partridge Family album that includes the track we chose today for our political singalong to celebrate Sam and Francie’s wedding.

Singalong with the Abbott Family and celebrate

Singalong with the Abbott Family and celebrate Frances' two week whirlwind romance and engagement to fellow body builder Sam! If only our MPs could find such instant harmony.

A New England poll update and links to other news and views

Greens thrown down the gauntlet on TAFE funding - Northern Daily Leader
The Greens are the only party offering a guarantee for 100 per cent of the public vocational education budget to be devoted to TAFE, says the party’s New England candidate Pete Wills.

“Instead of replacing TAFE with an internet cafe like the Nationals, or keeping TAFE on life support with a 70 per cent funding threshold like Labor, the Greens will restore quality public TAFE colleges throughout New England with a 100 per cent funding guarantee,” he said.
New England candidates line up for education debate at Wests Leagues Club - Northern Daily Leader
ELEVEN candidates will line up to talk about their vision for the nation’s education at a public forum on Tuesday night.The event will be held at West Leagues Club at 6pm. NSW Teachers Federation president Maurie Mulheron will update the audience on the school funding situation, following the Gonski 2.0 announcement in June.Candidates will then have three minutes to talk about their education policies, which will be followed by 15 minutes of question time.Mr Mulheron was critical of former MP Barnaby Joyce, who is boycotting all public debates and forums.
FIVE New England byelection contenders got together at Tamworth’s Bicentennial Park for a campaign event that was as grassroots as they come – a meet the candidates barbecue.
Barnaby Joyce gearing up for New England by-election - Hunter Valley News
Just as farmers in Merriwa are awaiting rain and the return of a good harvest, Nationals candidate Barnaby Joyce is hoping to be re-elected as the Member for New England on Saturday, December 2. Joyce is predicted to return, despite a large field of candidates, ranging from the standard parties to the more obscure subjects.
It’s a Ponzi Scheme”: Wall Street Fears Trump’s Deranged Tax Plan Could Kick Off Economic Euthanasia - Vanity Fair
Wall Street vets say an attack on blue states could start a chain reaction in the housing market. “Will this be the first tax cut in American history that actually results in a recession?”
Science has outgrown the human mind - Quartz
Science is in the midst of a data crisis. Last year, there were more than 1.2 million new papers published in the biomedical sciences alone, bringing the total number of peer-reviewed biomedical papers to over 26 million. However, the average scientist reads only about 250 papers a year. Meanwhile, the quality of the scientific literature has been in decline. Some recent studies found that the majority of biomedical papers were irreproducible.
New study reaches a stunning conclusion about the cost of solar and wind energy - Think Progress
Building new renewables is now cheaper than just running old coal and nuclear plants.
Merkel signals readiness for new election after coalition talks collapse - Reuters
Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would prefer a new election to ruling with a minority after talks on forming a three-way coalition failed overnight, but Germany’s president told parties they owed it to voters to try to form a government.