Sunday, 30 December 2018

The Duttons play happy families but not for long

By the look of it, Peter Dutton set out to stress his family man image. There he was on the beach at the Gold Coast looking like a happy dad for the Brisbane Sunday Mail.
And then ...
The political Peter Dutton re-emerged.
PETER Dutton has spectacularly broken his silence to accuse Malcolm Turnbull of spite attacks worse than Kevin Rudd’s, and lambasted the former prime minister for running a “paralysed” government caused by his own political incompetence.
From potentially winning a vote or two in his own seat to reminding voters everywhere of the divisions within the Liberal Party

Thursday, 27 December 2018

Those women's magazines emerge as the real political influencers

First New Idea and now Women's Weekly. Move over parliamentary press gallery. Real media power is emerging.
Julia, 56, headed to Canberra "a parliamentary novice" with "a lot to learn" filled with passion and excitement. But she quickly realised being heard was going to be an uphill battle, especially in a party with a slender one-seat majority.
"The party room was not what I expected. I spoke up many times and particularly on programs about women I'd get the eye roll from the right-wing reactionary group."
So, when those reactionaries seized control, Julia knew she couldn't stay. She was in parliament to represent the people, not tow the party line, especially when that line had shifted significantly to the right.

Thursday, 20 December 2018

Is Peta Credlin for the seat of Mallee just more journalistic "piss and wind"?

The Owl is very wary of joining in the game of predicting a House of Representatives future for television superstar Peta Credlin. He has no desire to be on the end of a La Stupenda tongue lashing like the one she previously dished out to journalists.

Click HERE to watch the video

Monday, 17 December 2018

A political singalong for Andrew Broad who upset Sweet Sophia Rose

New Idea gets in to the real news business.
Married politician Andrew Broad has been caught out with a sugar baby from a “seeking arrangements” website he used to meet younger girls while he was away on work trips.
While spending an evening in the company of blonde beauty Amy – who uses the online alias “Sweet Sophia Rose” and is almost 20 years his junior – the MP bragged about his “important” position in parliament, practised his official speeches and even referred to himself as “James Bond” in an attempt to seduce her.
Sweet Sophia Rose 
Having met through a website for sugar daddy arrangements, in which a well-off and usually older man is willing to spend his wealth on an attractive younger woman in exchange for her company, Amy has now brazenly lifted the lid on the man she says is not fit to represent Australia.
The Aqua dining room with a view.

And the eating where Andrew's dining companion found “He kept commenting on prices and how expensive they were. It made everything so awkward from the start". To enable fine dining readers to judge for themselves here is an extract from the restaurant review site
I opted for Italian, and the first dish to appear, burrata cheese with cherry tomatoes ($A51.45), was presented so beautifully I almost didn’t want to eat it. When I did succumb, it was wonderfully fresh and creamy. ... For my main I chose the chef’s signature handmade truffle, potato and fresh egg-filled ravioli, with crutin cheese and shaved black truffle ($A62.18). I can understand why this is a house specialty. It’s quite something when you cut into the pasta, cooked perfectly al dente, and the egg yolk oozes out. I’m a sucker for handmade pasta and truffles so this dish was a winner on all fronts.
Perhaps next time Mr Broad should visit Japan for his experiments with "seeking arrangements" websites. Whatever. The Owl thought a political singalong an appropriate way of commemorating Mr Broad's decision to resign from his position as the assistant minister to Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals leader Michael McCormack.

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

The Owl does not understand why the Liberals are the favourites in NSW

The conventional wisdom is that the Liberals and National government will be re-elected in New South Wales. The betting markets have the coalition odds on favourite at $1.50.
The Owl does not understand why. He thinks there has been an over reaction to the replacement of an Opposition Leader. He is happy to have a dollar or two on Labor at the $2,65

Liberals suffering from buyer's remorse

Hats off to Phil Coorey of The Financial Review for using the phrase "buyer's remorse" when he spoke on radio this morning of the increasing number of Liberals who now regret helping make Scott Morrison Prime Minister.

Monday, 26 November 2018

Senator Jim Molan rallies the Liberal Party troops

Liberal Senator Jim Molan might be smarting because he's been dumped to an unwinnable position on his party's Senate ticket but he pledges he is still loyal to the party.

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Feuds in the Liberal Party go on and on and ...

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Nine's 60 Minutes tonight warrants a Scomo explanation

13/11/2018 Scott Morrison says he's part of a religious community and his pastor and his wife would know if someone was teaching things that weren't in accordance with what the faith believes.

Nine's 60 minutes tonight told us of this story involving The PM's Pentecostal Church:
Surely a Scomo explanation will soon be forthcoming.

Note: The Urban dictionary definition of a Scomo:

Saturday, 17 November 2018

The Scomo omen wager - Into the Abyss

In light of the Israeli embassy move impasse, the Owl’s standout Scomo tip for today is Sandown Melbourne race 3 no 7 Into The Abyss.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

You too can be like Scomo by following his exclusive training manual


Since becoming Prime Minister Scott Morrison has shown a rare mastery of one of the essential skills of politics. After his mighty effort on the Foodbank funding cuts, the Owl thought others might benefit from Scomo's training manual

How to do a backflip

Also known as a back tuck, a somi, or a salto, a back flip is one of the most impressive and easily recognizable skills in gymnastics. With this move, your body makes a 360 degree rotation, beginning in a standing position and landing in a standing position. Whether you're looking to become a gymnast or just want to impress your friends with your cool new skill, you can get the hang of flipping backwards—if you're willing to invest some time and effort.

Monday, 12 November 2018

Will Clive Palmer's money talk?

The United Australia Party is not really on the agenda of the political pundits. This reincarnation of businessman Clive Palmer's ambitions to have a say in how Australia is run passes largely without comment. Apparently it is seen as something of a joke and therefore irrelevant.
In the media section of the Oz today there are details of an advertising campaign by the UAP that suggest Mr Palmer should again be treated seriously.

If money does count in politics then perhaps this effort should be treated seriously.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Why was he sacked? Turnbull tells Liberals to answer that unanswerable question

Grattan on Friday: 

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Malcolm Turnbull has delivered a hefty blow to the struggling Morrison
government by refocusing attention on the one question it has
desperately tried to smother.

That is: why was he sacked?

When he appeared on Thursday’s Q&A special, Turnbull was on a dual
mission. His neat blue jacket told the story. There would be no
reversion to the pre-prime ministerial free-wheeler dressed in

He was there to hold his executioners to account, to ensure they have
no escape, from him or from the public. And he was primed to defend
his record, to write the history of his three years in office as a
story of accomplishment and success. He wants to be defined by what he
did, rather than by how badly things ended.

Essentially he presented himself simultaneously as the victim and the victor.

The opening question was predictable but central: “Why aren’t you
still prime minister?”

Turnbull’s reply was rehearsed and targeted personally as well as generally.

This was “the question I can’t answer,” he said. “The only people that
can answer that are the people that engineered the coup - people like
Peter Dutton and Tony Abbott and Greg Hunt and Mathias Cormann - the
people who voted for the spill.

"So, there are 45 of them…. They have to answer that question.”

He rammed home the message. People had to be “adults and be
accountable”. Members of parliament “have to stand up and be prepared
to say why they do things”.

So those who chose “to blow up the government, to bring my prime
ministership to an end … they need to really explain why they did it.
And none of them have.”

Read more:
Grattan on Friday: Now Malcolm Turnbull is the sniper at the window

So much for Scott Morrison arguing the public have gone beyond the
“Muppet show”, or defence industry minister Steve Ciobo claiming
Australians didn’t care about what had happened.

Labor has kept pressing on the “why” question, even when commentators
doubted the tactic, and now Turnbull has given the opposition a load
of fresh ammunition.

This makes it harder for ministers to shrug off Labor’s harking back
to the coup. To do so drags them into criticism of Turnbull, which is

Once again Bill Shorten is the beneficiary of his opponents’ self-destruction.

Turnbull saw a “fair prospect” of the issue resonating in next year’s
election campaign because “Australians are entitled to know the

In wishing Morrison “all the best in the election”, Turnbull
emphasised that he personally was out of parliament and he’d had
little to say since he’d left - he’d wanted to give his successor
“clear air”.

But there’s an ambivalence in Turnbull’s behaviour towards Morrison.
When his own leadership was doomed he helped Morrison beat Dutton. But
his intervention is now hurting his successor.

Of course Turnbull’s assertion he’s “out of politics” is disingenuous,
or at least premature. What could be more political than Thursday
night’s performance?

Apart from injecting new vigor into the issue of his sacking, his
critique of the Liberal party’s move to the right was powerful and
damaging, encapsulated in his observation about Liberal-minded voters
installing like-minded crossbenchers.

He pointed to Mayo, Indi and Wentworth, seats previously solid
Liberal. “They are now occupied by three Independents who are all
women, who are all small-l liberals, and all of whom, in one way or
another, have been involved in the Liberal Party in the past,” he

By electing these independents the voters were saying “we are
concerned that the Liberal Party is not speaking for small-l liberal
values”, he said.

This brings to mind the speculation about a possible high-profile
independent emerging in Warringah who could give Tony Abbott a run for
his money.

There was much else in the Turnbull hour that was challenging for the
government, including his belief the Liberals would have held
Wentworth but for the campaign’s “messy” final week, and his criticism
of the “blokey” culture of parliament.

Turnbull talked up an extensive legacy for himself, highlighting the
achievement of same-sex marriage (though some would give the praise to
certain pesky backbenchers). Typically, he wouldn’t cede ground over
standing back from the battle in his old seat.

As always with Turnbull, Thursday’s appearance will polarise Liberals,
making it uncertain whether it will help or harm his reputation.
Enemies will see it as being all about Malcolm. His comments will
start another round of divisive debate in the ranks.

But his arguments were potent reminders of the stupidity of what
happened in August and the present poor state and situation of the
Liberal party.

Morrison this week had to deal with an early manifestation of the hung
parliament he now must manage.

Crossbencher Bob Katter saw the opportunity to make some gains for his
north Queensland electorate of Kennedy during Morrison’s tour of the
state, so the maverick MP suggested he might consider supporting the
referral of Liberal MP Chris Crewther to the High Court over a
possible section 44 problem.

By Thursday Morrison had met Katter, and extracted a pledge of
“ongoing support of the government”. Katter had extracted dollops of
money for water projects.

Their respective performances this week emphasised the
chalk-and-cheese contrast between the former and current prime
ministers, a difference being accentuated by Morrison as he seeks to
portray himself as a man of the people.

Read more:
View from The Hill: Katter waves Section 44 stick in a 'notice North Queensland' moment

Turnbull was critical of the hard right wing media; Morrison in the
past few days has done an interview with Alan Jones and a Sky people’s
forum in Townsville hosted by Paul Murray.

Turnbull might have had a penchant for trams and trains with selfies
but not the faux bus tour with cheesy videos.

But as Turnbull said of the man who’s inherited the fallout of the
August “madness”: “He has dealt himself a very tough hand of cards,
and now he has to play them … he has to get on with it.”

With Morrison it is not so much a matter of getting on with it –
he’s hyperactive – but of precisely what it is that he’s getting on
with.The Conversation

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Sunday, 4 November 2018

We have a winner! Lucien Ey takes the Owl's political singalong to a new level

In a post earlier today the Owl ventured the opinion that we are in for our lengthiest election campaign ever because Prime Minister Scott Morrison has his bus at the ready and is off and driving.
Tweeter Lucien Ey has thoughtfully supplied suitable musical accompaniment.

Scott Morrison is giving us our lengthiest election campaign ever

I fear we are in for our lengthiest election campaign ever.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has his bus at the ready and is off and driving.
And the flow of You Tube videos is reaching epidemic proportions.

Friday, 2 November 2018

A farewell singalong for the departed Ross Cameron

On Tuesday night’s edition of The Outsiders on Sky News, Ross Cameron had this to say:
“If you go to Disneyland in Shanghai on any typical morning of the week, you’ll see 20,000 black-haired, slanty-eyed, yellow-skinned Chinese, desperate to get into Disneyland.”
Sky has sacked him over the remarks, saying the language was “totally unacceptable” and has “no place in Australian society”.

With his pay television gig gone The Owl thought this song appropriate:

Grattan on Friday: Now Malcolm Turnbull is the sniper at the window

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

There’s a nice story about Arthur Fadden - the Country Party leader who became PM in the 1941 hung parliament amid conservative leadership turmoil - deciding not to move into the Lodge after a colleague told him he’d “scarcely have enough time to wear a track from the backdoor to the shithouse before you’ll be out”.

The warning was prophetic: Fadden was dispatched in little over a month, replaced in a House of Representatives vote by Labor’s John Curtin.

Scott Morrison, ensconced in Kirribilli, has already had a longer spell than Fadden, and his government appears safe in parliament, despite losing its majority. Regardless of these differences,
Morrison’s likely trajectory seems as clear as that of “Artie” all those years ago.

The widespread feeling that the Morrison government is doomed will only be reinforced by this week’s outbreak of hostilities between the former and current prime ministers.

At one level, it’s hard to believe we’re seeing a rerun of this old script; at another, it confirms that disunity has become baked into a Liberal party probably unable to get beyond its dysfunction without a cleansing period in opposition.

For three years, Turnbull had to endure the sniping of Tony Abbott, the man he brought down. Now Turnbull is the sniper at the window, though Morrison didn’t cause his fall (unless you buy the conspiracy theory).

We can assume Turnbull’s mood is dark. That is understandable. It is also dangerous for the government, especially as many voters neither understood nor welcomed the leadership change.

This week’s fallout from Turnbull’s Indonesian excursion has undermined Morrison on foreign policy – about which he gave his first major address on Thursday – and cast doubt on his personal credibility.

As is now well known, Turnbull’s trip representing Australia at a conference about oceans included talks with President Joko Widodo, who was smarting from Morrison’s announcement that Australia would consider moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. After the talks, Turnbull met the media and issued a strong warning against such a move.

On Thursday, an obviously frustrated Morrison told 2GB’s Alan Jones the former prime minister wouldn’t be sent on any more missions. “He was there to actually attend an oceans conference, the issues of trade and other things of course were not really part of the brief,” Morrison said, in what turned out to be an unfortunate gloss.

Turnbull immediately took to Twitter, to set out “a few facts”.

He said Morrison had “asked me to discuss trade and the embassy issue in Bali and we had a call before I left to confirm his messages which I duly relayed” to the President. “There was a detailed paper on the issue in my official brief as well”, Turnbull added.

That left Morrison with some explaining to do. In a statement he said he’d invited Turnbull to represent him at the oceans conference and to be “head of delegation”.

“He was briefed on appropriate responses on other issues that could be raised in any direct discussions with the President, in his role of head of delegation. Accordingly there were briefings dealing with the issues he [Turnbull] has referred to,” Morrison said, reiterating that “the purpose of his attendance was the Oceans conference”.

The different emphasis in the two accounts stands out. Turnbull suggests he was asked to actively convey messages; Morrison’s version is that Turnbull was given “responses” to provide.

Obviously it was risky for Morrison to send Turnbull in the first place; equally, it was provocative of Turnbull to speak publicly about the content of his talks and, especially, to air his disagreement with government policy. The week has been another demonstration of those “transaction” costs of an ill-advised switch of leaders - costs also reflected in Monday’s Newspoll, showing the Coalition going backwards to trail Labor 46-54%.

After some initial favourable publicity Morrison is now widely referred to, often disparagingly, as coming from a “marketing” background. His political fixes are viewed, cynically but accurately, through that prism.

Read more:
Poll wrap: Morrison's ratings slump in Newspoll; Wentworth's huge difference in on-the-day and early voting

Take for example the government’s plan to remove the remaining about 40 children from Nauru by Christmas.

It is responding to increasing public concern. But one can’t help thinking it probably calculates that if just the children (and their families) are taken off, the immediate public pressure will go away
too. No need for it to feel much urgency about all those male refugees on Manus, because they don’t have the same political salience.

What it says about even the children is, however, grudging and misleading. Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton insists they’ll not stay in Australia, but eventually end up elsewhere, whether the US, another third country or their home country.

In practice, from all we know from the past, many or most will remain here. But the government won’t admit that, supposedly because to do so might encourage the people smugglers. Does it really think they are so easily fooled? What actually deters them is the Australian flotilla ready to turn back their boats.

Dutton on Thursday also effectively ruled out sending people to New Zealand, even if Labor passed the legislation to close the “back door” to Australia.

“My judgment at the moment, based on all of the advice available to me is that New Zealand would be a pull factor at this point in time,” he told Sky.

The strategy seems clear. Fix the issue of the children, then paint Labor’s commitment to send people to New Zealand as one that would encourage the boats to restart.

Presumably Turnbull will be asked about refugees when he does the ABC’s Q&A next Thursday. With a full program to himself, he’ll be quizzed about a lot of matters, including energy and climate change policy, as well as the embassy debate – which did not rate a mention in Morrison’s Thursday speech.

There’s inevitable speculation about whether Turnbull will wear his leather jacket. The real question is what persona the man in the jacket, whether it’s leather or cloth, will choose to adopt. Morrison, for one, will be sweating on the answer.The Conversation

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

The Owl brings you a sneak preview of Malcolm Turnbull's appearance on Q&A next Thursday

Malcolm Turnbull phobia is what will destroy the Liberal Party

It was most entertaining this morning listening to the 2GB screechers denouncing Malcolm Turnbull for remarks he made in Indonesia. There are people who just love hating someone and for the moment Malcolm is the number one hated one.
But a tweet this morning suggest that the anger is being wrongly directed.

Unless Malcolm Turnbull is telling an outrageous lie, what he said to Indonesian President Joko Widodo was what Prime Minister Scott Morrison had asked him to say on the subjects of trade and the location of the Australian embassy in Israel. Making public the "detailed paper on the issue in my official brief" would clarify matters but my guess is that it will take a leak by a whistle blower for that to happen.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Remembering the death of a conservative government

When you see opinion poll data like that below in The Australian this morning the inclination is to remember that with six months or so to an actual polling day that things can change.

Five percentage points is near enough to the the normal error with so far to go and a 45% Coalition share can easily become 50%. That's the way most people would look at it but deviations can go down as well as up.
If you don't think that's so go to Wikipedia and read about the Canadian election of 1993. The governing Progressive Conservatives were polling at 36% early in September (down from the 43% with which they had won office in 1988) but at the election at the end of October the PCs managed just 16%.
And the result? Down from 169 seats to 2. Just something for Coalition members in Australia to think about.

The Liberal Party base discovered

Yesterday the Owl posted an excellent Tony Walker piece on the search for the Liberal Party's base. This morning a helpful reader claims success in that searching endeavour and has sent in a picture to prove it.

Monday, 22 October 2018

In search of the Liberal Party's base

Tony Walker, La Trobe University

John Howard was fond of referring to the Liberal Party as a “broad church”. This included its conservative “base”.

But what has eluded those seeking to define this amorphous group of electors is exactly what is meant by this description.

What is the base? Who are its members? Where do they reside? What are their preoccupations? Where do their preferences lie?

Then there is the overarching question of exactly what the Liberal Party stands for these days. Is it a liberal party in the sense it is a centrist, socially progressive and fiscally conservative party?

Read more:
'Balmain basket weavers' strike again, tearing the Liberal Party apart

Is it a right-of-centre party that is socially conservative, or is it a proto-conservative party defined by a scepticism about climate change edging towards a form of denialism?

What confronts Scott Morrison, the new leader, is how to reconcile these conflicting tendencies and come up with an amalgam that would have some prospect of appealing to an elusive base that ranges from Victorian liberals in the south to Queensland conservatives in the north.

Where the fulcrum of this mythical “base” resides will represent a continuing challenge for a Liberal party that, like Humpty Dumpty, will be seeking to put all the bits and pieces back together again.

Is its home in Brisbane’s suburbs, or Queensland’s far north, or Melbourne’s south-east, or Sydney’s northern suburbs, or the Adelaide Hills, or Perth’s cluster of suburbs around the Swan, or in a Tasmanian Hobart-Launceston corridor?

The short answer is all of the above.

Among those who write convincingly about conservative politics, Greg Melleuish, has put his finger on a contradiction at the heart of Australian liberalism.

“One of the most interesting developments of the 50 years since Menzies’ retirement is that the non-Labor side of politics has become more ideological,” Melleuish wrote in The Conversation earlier this year.

“Deep fractures have emerged between those who identify as liberals and those who consider themselves to be conservatives. This has happened at a time when, in many ways, liberalism has triumphed as an ideology in Australian life.”

A lot has been assumed on behalf of the “base” by Turnbull’s critics, including a media cats’ chorus.

Among the criticism is that he proved incapable of connecting with the “base”. Indeed he was, according to his critics, anathema to the “base”, who regarded him with suspicion as a plutocrat in a caricaturist’s top hat who was far removed from everyday lives.

Arguments on behalf of the two principal candidates to replace Turnbull as leader of the Liberal Party rested significantly on their ability to relate to rank-and-file voters.

In a contest to be regarded as an Australian everyman, the son of a New South Wales cop in Scott Morrison took on the son of a Queensland brickie in Peter Dutton.

Both men could hardly be more different from Turnbull, in their political trajectory and in background. A lot of nonsense has been written about Turnbull’s “deprived” childhood and his ascent to the privileges of a Point Piper residence.

He was educated at Sydney Grammar and was the beneficiary of a useful inheritance when his father died. His mother may have deserted the family when Turnbull was a child, but this is not the story of a council flat to The Lodge – far from it.

What Morrison now faces – apart from seeking to bind gaping wounds in the parliamentary party between his own supporters and those of the conservative Dutton – is to persuade a broader Australian electorate beyond the so-called “base” that his Coalition actually does represent a broader church.

On the evidence, Morrison confronts a considerable task convincing Australians a party riven between its moderate and conservative wings and beholden to its mythical base is capable of binding its wounds.

Judith Brett addressed what will be an essential question for the new leader in his efforts to embrace a broad church. “Where is this heart and soul, and how strong is it?” Brett asked.

“Let’s be clear – the continually appealed-to ‘base’ is not very many people. At a generous estimate there are about 50,000 party members spread across 150 electorates.”

These numbers hardly a constitute a sustainable base.

Brett makes the good point that, of the almost 80% of Australians who voted in the same-sex marriage plebiscite, 61.6% voted “yes” to 38.4% who voted “no”.

Read more:
What kind of prime minister will Scott Morrison be?

This result does not suggest the electorate’s sweet spot is as conservative as Dutton and his supporters, including Tony Abbott, would have you believe.

Morrison would be mistaken if he believed his party’s salvation lay in a further lurch to the right in pursuit of an ill-defined “base”. Rather, he would be well advised to tack back to the sensible centre on issues such as climate, energy policy, fiscal responsibility and immigration.

Morrison needs to bury the three word slogans of the right, and fast. In other words, he should speak plainly about the challenges facing the country, and remedies that might put an end to the drift. He doesn’t have a lot of time.The Conversation

Tony Walker, Adjunct Professor, School of Communications, La Trobe University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Bringing back Johnny to save Wentworth

Some words of wisdom from country women about Barnaby Joyce

The Owl particularly notes the contribution to this Twitter exchange by Pip Courtney. Anyone who watches her contributions to ABC television on Sundays will know why the Owl considers her to be one of Australia's best and balanced journalists

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

A theme song for PM Scomo

Goodness me the man was still talking this evening. Talking to Alan Jones no less.
PM Scomo is proving to be a political motor mouth.
The Owl reckons a theme song is necessary.

Surely the voters of Wentworth will not be influenced by the suggestion from that seasoned marketer Scomo PM and his offsider Dave “The Charmer” Sharma that Australia might move its Israel embassy to Jerusalem.

The trade threat from Indonesia aside, not one Australian authority - be it trade, foreign affairs or national security - will ever endorse the move, leaving scomo after the Wentworth race in a very much “where the bloody hell are you” space and members of Australia’s formidable Jewish community feeling they have been gamed.

The Cormanator has no clothes

He once was the Belgian migrant golden boy of the Liberal Party.
"Mathias Cormann has an unchallenged reputation as the Mr Dependable of the Turnbull government. - Norman Abjorensen 3 July 2018
"Cormann's political star is shining brighter than ever. ... Cormann has had a political run few can match, a truly magnificent career." - Jo Spagnolo 24 June 2018
"... a significant new figure has arrived on the national political stage." - Jeff Kitney 2 May 2014
"Mathias Cormann’s 'pragmatic' negotiating style has won over key Senate crossbenchers as he takes the lead in brokering deals on the government’s economic agenda." - Rosie Lewis 4 April 2017
"His capacity to dissect issues is phenomenal. That's why I enjoy Mathias' company so much. He can sit down and he can literally dissect issues and look at them in a very very reasoned manner and come up with a value judgement, which is extraordinary." - Former WA Education Minister Peter Collier 3 December 2014
After years of media hype like that Mathias Cormann’s “steady pair of hands”, the Owl is now wondering whether the WA numbers man’s backing of an unelectable Dutton to be PM, his incompetence to count during the challenge and now the “its ok to be white” total debacle with him as Senate Leader renders him politically naked.
Maybe time for stress leave....... Or to move on like his former cigar smoking colleague.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Religion to divide Liberals in a sad way

View from The Hill: Discrimination debate will distress many gay school students

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

`The leak of part of the Ruddock report on religious freedom has come at a very bad time in the government’s battle to hold the crucial seat of Wentworth on October 20. But there are other, more serious concerns than the byelection in the debate that’s been opened.

Fairfax Media on Wednesday reported that religious schools would be guaranteed the right – under specified conditions - to decline to enrol gay students, in changes to anti-discrimination legislation recommended by the inquiry.

Wentworth had a very high vote for same-sex marriage in the plebiscite – almost 81% in favour compared with less than 58% for NSW as a whole. And the main threat to the Liberals’ grip on the seat is from Kerryn Phelps, a prominent (and gay) figure in the marriage equality campaign.

No wonder Liberal candidate Dave Sharma was quick to say he would be “opposed to any new measures that impose forms of discrimination on the basis of gender or sexual orientation, or anything else for that matter”.

Rightly or wrongly, sources sympathetic to, or close to, Malcolm Turnbull are copping blame for the leak - although second guessing the origins of leaks is a hazardous business and Turnbull is a fan of Sharma.

The government has been keeping the report under wraps since May, but now it can’t stop the argument from raging in the final days of Wentworth campaigning.

Read more:
Politics podcast: The battle for Wentworth

Scott Morrison immediately had the fire hose out. Asked “should religious schools be able to turn away students on the basis of their sexual orientation?” he said, “Well they already can. That is the existing law.” He kept hammering the point.

Attorney-General Christian Porter said there is no proposal for any new exemption. “The exemption that allows schools to make employment and student admission decisions in a way consistent with the tenets of their religion already exists for religious schools under the Commonwealth Sex Discrimination Act,” Porter said.

The government points out that the thrust of the Ruddock report’s recommendation is to constrain and codify things. The school would have to give primary consideration to the child’s best interests, and spell out its policy.

The report says: “To the extent that some jurisdictions do not currently allow religious schools to discriminate against students on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender characteristics, the panel sees no need to introduce such provisions.

"To the extent however that certain jurisdictions including the commonwealth do allow this type of discrimination, the panel believes the exceptions should be limited by the requirement that the discrimination be in accordance with a published policy which is grounded in the religious doctrines of the school”.

In sum, the report has recommended tightening the federal Sex Discrimination Act and similar legislation in the ACT, NSW and Western Australia; the other states do not have such provisions and would be unaffected.

Read more:
View from The Hill: Discrimination debate will distress many gay school students

But while the committee sees itself as recommending less scope for discrimination by religious bodies, just opening a discussion about the right to reject gay students could give cover for a resurrection of homophobic attitudes that campaigners and legislators have spent decades working to stamp out.

The government argues that, given the existing legislation, there’s nothing to see. What there is to hear, however, is a new debate about the rights and wrongs of discrimination against certain kids. This will be distressing and unsettling for many young people.

Some on the right downplay the issue by saying the only students in the frame are those who would be campaigning on gay issues. They overlook that this seems to contradict the right’s general line that we need more protections for freedom of speech. Or do they think there shouldn’t be such freedom in a religious school?

Before people say these are not government schools and so should have free rein, remember that they get big dollops of taxpayers’ money.

While it may be reasonable to allow them some exemptions based on faith issues, they should also conform to core community values.

It certainly is not in line with those values to think a school should be able to accept one boy while refusing admittance to his brother on the ground the second boy is gay and is willing to strongly defend his sexuality.

This debate will divide and discredit the Liberals unless it can be shut down quickly. Within the party it will split the moderates from the right, and cause division within the right too.

And, beyond the Liberals, it is now causing critics to focus on the existing legislation and say the discrimination against students that it permits should be scrapped.

More generally on religious freedom, the government will be embroiled in a row that it didn’t have to have over an issue it had no need to address.

Turnbull set up the Ruddock inquiry to placate the rightwingers upset over same-sex marriage.

It was a sop in search of a problem. Despite the claims of some, religious freedom is not under threat, a point apparently confirmed by the report.

The right brought down Turnbull regardless of his various attempts to pacify them, but Morrison is left with the legacy. Morrison himself has built expectations of action, suggesting recently there could be threats to religious freedom in the future and he favoured “preventative regulation and legislation”.

The issue is likely to become a quagmire for him. As for the report – that should be put out immediately.The Conversation

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Penfolds told to put a proper cork in it.

James Halliday is the man the Owl turns to when it comes to expensive wines that he normally cannot afford but likes to keep informed about. The column in The Weekend Australian is a must read.
Yesterday there was a little disappointment. The expected Halliday verdict on the just released 2014 Grange was reduced to this:
"The 2014 Grange (97 points, drink to 2044, $900) has been done no service by its cork closure. My quarrel with corks in red wines isn’t the risk of TCA (the mouldy smell), nor oxidation. It’s a purely mechanical issue: Grange is capable of living far longer than 30 years, but its FAQ (fair average quality) corks give no promise of doing so."
And that was that before he went on to give notes on three other wines from the Penfolds collection.

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Helping the Assistant Treasurer Stuart Robert with his counting

The Owl was not so much worried today by the need Assistant Treasurer Stuart Robert felt to take a selfie so he could prove to his old flatmate Scomo that he'd actually been on television. It was what he said when he realised he was live to air that was the greater concern. This custodian of the nation's finances underquoted the amount of money Australia owes by hundreds of billions of dollars.
Like most children Mr Robert needs more tuition in his arithmetic.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

An appropriate song for Barnaby Joyce after tonight's 7.30

Singalong with PM Scomo as he pulls off another planet shaking "Raise Your Hand" stunt in the House of Representatives

With the House of Representatives now resembling a kindergarten this seems the appropriate musical accompaniment.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

An impressive start by Dr Kerryn Phelps

In announcing this morning that she will contest the Wentworth by-election Dr Kerryn Phelps sounded just like a liberal independent should. There could not be a better message for these times than this one:
“I don’t take this step lightly as I know the pressure of today’s politics but the people of Wentworth are crying out for an authentic voice who will stand up to the major parties and rise above the bitterness and backstabbing that has taken over Canberra."
 The Sydney Morning Herald website reports how Dr Phelps contrasted her position with that of the recently retired Malcolm Turnbull. Wentworth voters “knew Malcolm Turnbull supported action on climate change, they knew he supported action on marriage equality, they knew he supported a republic,” she said. “And yet he was not able to advance that agenda...because he was restricted by the hard right of his party.”

Friday, 14 September 2018

Weekend music for those in "team Scomo"

The Owl can report that full time talk (for NRL followers) and three quarter time chatter (for AFL fanciers) at his club tonight featured the Prime Ministerial attitude to music.

Having abandoned and deleting his ex bestie Fat Boy Scoop this morning, declaring his love for Tina Arena, and then declaring that anyone who dislikes Fatboy “a narc”, Scomo has left those in “team Scomo” looking for guidance.

Perhaps a quiet weekend catching up with the Seekers greatest hits might be in order.

And for his next trick we give you Scomo channeling the Planetseekers

Stop playing, keep it moving

PM Scomo may well be singing along with his now deleted ex besty, hip hopper Fatboy Scoop, when he sees the latest election betting markets.
Labor $1.30 Coalition $3.20
“Who fuckin’ tonight.
   Who fuckin tonight, uh oh,
    Stop playing, keep it moving,
     Stop playing, keep it moving”.

A week of Liberal Party Mayhem

Grattan on Friday: Wentworth preselectors' rebuff to Morrison caps week of mayhem

Wentworth candidate Dave Sharna

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

In the early hours of Friday morning, the Liberal preselectors of Wentworth delivered their new prime minister a humiliating public slapdown.

In selecting Dave Sharma, 42, former Australian ambassador to Israel and now a partner in an accountancy firm, as the candidate for the October 20 byelection, the preselectors have on all accounts chosen the best candidate.

But Scott Morrison had made it known he wanted a woman, a preference that’s been embarrassingly rejected. Katherine O'Regan, who was supposed to come out the winner, ran fifth.

Moreover, on Thursday it was learned that John Howard and Malcolm Turnbull were both encouraging Sharma to stay in the contest. So the two former prime ministers managed to do over the current prime minister.

The Wentworth Liberals, whose local member and PM was cut down, have had their revenge. The question now is whether the electors will also take theirs. Sharma has the potential to be an excellent MP. But he lives way outside the electorate, so he’ll start with a disadvantage against the high profile Kerryn Phelps, who is set to run as an independent.

Read more:
Wentworth goes to the polls on October 20

This week has recalled the worst of Labor’s days. Morrison’s attempt to move things on from the coup didn’t cut it, just like Julia Gillard found her wheels spinning when she tried to dig her government out of various bogs.

In a highly provocative move, Turnbull has been busy from New York lobbying to have cabinet minister Peter Dutton’s parliamentary eligibility referred the High Court, to determine whether an interest in a child care business through a trust could see him in breach of the constiution’s troublesome section 44.

Turnbull explained in a tweet:

Morrison brushed this aside, saying the public didn’t want the “lawyers’ picnic” to continue. But wishing it away won’t resolve a legitimate question that needs to be answered.

Never mind that Turnbull can be accused of malice; that he wasn’t worried about Dutton’s situation months ago, or that his government voted against referral.

Post coup, we are in a new era. A spurned Turnbull is off the leash. So is former Liberal deputy Julie Bishop who, when asked about her stance, was coy.

“If there’s a vote on that matter then I’ll make my mind up at that time, but of course we want clarity around the standing of all the members of parliament,” she said. Backbencher Bishop has been reborn as outspokenly independent.

An unhappy “ex” is dangerously liberated to cause trouble, whether they’re inside or outside parliament. Tony Abbott has been the model.

Former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce was also freelancing, accusing Turnbull of “an active campaign to try and remove us as the government”.

Turnbull quitting parliament has already delivered a major blow to his successor by triggering the byelection that, at worst, could put Morrison into minority government.

The legal opinion that Turnbull commissioned from the Solicitor-General during the leadership crisis has left sufficient uncertainty about Dutton’s eligibility to enable Turnbull to pursue the man who moved against him.

As we saw in the citizenship cases, this High Court takes a narrow view of section 44. Dutton might be on solid ground - as he insists and the Solicitor-General’s opinion supports. But doubt remains - as that opinion also concedes.

Labor is set to have a fresh try next week to refer Dutton to the court. The Herald Sun reports that two Liberals are considering voting with the opposition, a threat they’re making to push the government to take the matter into its own hands. The internal unease will be hard for Morrison to manage.

Bloodied by his unsuccessful power grab, Dutton is also still locked in an altercation with former Border Force chief Roman Quaedvlieg about ministerial interventions on visas.

Holes have been shot in Quaedvlieg’s claims. But Dutton went over the top when he used parliamentary privilege to accuse Quaedvlieg - sacked for helping his girlfriend get a job - of “grooming” a girl 30 years his junior. Even his colleagues did a double take at the term.

Read more:
Dutton accuses Quaedvlieg of “grooming” a young woman, in new angry clash

Dutton’s Canberra troubles can’t be helping him in his battle to hold his very marginal Queensland seat of Dickson, where GetUp has him in its sights.

All in all, Dutton is a marked man. If he survives to serve in the next parliament, it will be remarkable. That he remains in cabinet in this one is notable.

Normally someone who’d caused so much damage to the party and himself would now be on the backbench. But Dutton had hardly warmed a seat there, after the first challenge, than he was back in Home Affairs following the second one.

Here is a paradox: he is damaged goods, but too powerful to cast aside. Or rather, his right-wing support base is too strong for him to be relegated.

If Morrison wasn’t able to keep the lid on the controversies around Dutton, he was a little more successful in containing the insurgency from some of the women over bullying and low female representation.

He headed off backbencher Lucy Gichuhi’s threat to name the bullies. “The Prime Minister has taken up the issue,” she tweeted after their meeting.

Morrison’s pitch to the women was that he’d work with them and the whips internally. It is believed some complaints about behaviour have been made to the whips. The Minister for Women, Kelly O'Dwyer, has proposed the Liberal party organisation should have an independent and confidential process to operate when concerns are raised.

The recent events have sparked a few calls in the party for quotas, but there is minimal chance of the Liberals following Labor down that path.

But the Wentworth outcome could produce another round in the war over gender representation.

All week, the Liberals struggled to answer the key question: why was Turnbull deposed? It took Nationals leader Michael McCormack to give the brutal response on Thursday. McCormack identified three factors - ambition, Newspolls, and opportunity. “People take those opportunities and we’ve got a new prime minister,” he said.

And the view from the voters? As one Liberal MP says, they’ve got the baseball bats out.The Conversation

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Polo players, au pairs and high level Liberal Party access

The Owl can't help but wonder about the question that Senators today were too thick or too slow to ask: Who did the ex-Abbott staffer Jude Donnelly, when working for the AFL's Gillon McLachlan, ring in the Abbott office on that fateful Sunday morning? 
The Owl would love to know the name of the person of influence that fixed things for the polo player.
Suggestions in the comments section please.

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Canberra's Muppet Show starring Scott Morrison

“I think the events that led to me becoming prime minister were bewildering and they were disappointing. It was a Muppet Show a week or so ago”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison talking on A Current Affair

Singalong with Peter Dutton's very good list

KO-KO (Spoken) Gentlemen, I'm much touched by this reception. I can only trust that by strict attention to duty I shall ensure a continuance of those favours which it will ever be my study to deserve. If I should ever be called upon to act professionally, I am happy to think that there will be no difficulty in finding plenty of people whose loss will be a distinct gain to society at large.


As some day it may happen that a victim must be found,
I've got a little list — I've got a little list
Of society offenders who might well be underground,
And who never would be missed — who never would be missed!
There's the pestilential nuisances who write for autographs —
All people who have flabby hands and irritating laughs —
All children who are up in dates, and floor you with 'em flat —
All persons who in shaking hands, shake hands with you like that —
And all third persons who on spoiling tête-á-têtes insist —
They'd none of 'em be missed — they'd none of 'em be missed!


He's got 'em on the list — he's got 'em on the list;
And they'll none of 'em be missed — they'll none of 'em be missed.


There's the nigger serenader[1], and the others of his race,
And the piano-organist — I've got him on the list!
And the people who eat peppermint and puff it in your face,
They never would be missed — they never would be missed!
Then the idiot who praises, with enthusiastic tone,
All centuries but this, and every country but his own;
And the lady from the provinces, who dresses like a guy,
And who "doesn't think she dances, but would rather like to try";
And that singular anomaly, the lady novelist[2] —
I don't think she'd be missed — I'm sure she'd not be missed!


He's got her on the list — he's got her on the list;
And I don't think she'll be missed — I'm sure she'll not be missed!


And that Nisi Prius nuisance, who just now is rather rife,
The Judicial humorist — I've got him on the list!
All funny fellows, comic men, and clowns of private life —
They'd none of 'em be missed — they'd none of 'em be missed.
And apologetic statesmen of a compromising kind,
Such as — What d'ye call him — Thing'em-bob, and likewise — Never-mind,
And 'St— 'st— 'st— and What's-his-name, and also You-know-who —
The task of filling up the blanks I'd rather leave to you.
But it really doesn't matter whom you put upon the list,
For they'd none of 'em be missed — they'd none of 'em be missed!


You may put 'em on the list — you may put 'em on the list;
And they'll none of 'em be missed — they'll none of 'em be missed!
[Exeunt CHORUS]