Australian Politics


Santorum endorses Abbott

From the AFR: Tony Abbott is a conservative “hardliner” who Republicans in the United States can learn from to win elections, potential Presidential candidate Rick Santorum has told the party’s faithful. Mr Santorum, who has indicated he will probably run for President in 2016, invoked Mr Abbott’s name and embraced his leadership style as an


Lucky John reaps the legacy

By Leith van Onselen The Australian newspaper today reports that a new poll has ranked John Howard as the best Australian Prime Minister of the past 40 years: The poll, conducted last week by Essential Research and provided exclusively to The Australian, shows that 39 per cent of voters ranked Mr Howard, the Liberal prime


Who runs Australia’s gulag archipelago?

From Crikey today, for your edification and action if you believe in ethical investment, here are some profiles in brief of the managers of Australia’s gulag archipelago. G4s: The London-based security giant had a $244.5 million contract from the Australian government to run the Manus Island camp (“operational and maintenance services”). It lost the contract a few


Labor jumps in polls (or does it?)

From Newspoll today: LABOR’S support is the highest it has been since Kevin Rudd was removed as prime minister in 2010, as tough budget talk on Medicare co-payments and lifting the retirement age seems to have pushed the Coalition and Tony Abbott to their worst position since the election. The ALP’s primary vote support of


The unpopularity contest

If you thought the last election presented you with an historically poor choice of leadership candidates (at MB we sure thought so) then you may find comfort in the ANU’s epic Trends in Australian Political Opinion study which found the public rated this batch of pollies the worst since the survey began in 1987. I’ve listed


Government prepares Qantas liberation

From the AFR: After The Australian Financial Review reported lifting the act was the long-term option being considered by the Coalition, Treasurer Joe Hockey revealed preparations were well advanced ahead of a cabinet discussion on Qantas some time after February 27. …The government would not ­elaborate on what changes were being proposed to the 1992 law which


High Court voids WA senate poll

It’s awwwn, he moans: West Australians are set to go back to the polls within weeks for an unprecedented standalone Senate election after the High Court today voided the results of last year’s disputed ballot. High Court Justice Kenneth Hayne, sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns, agreed with the Australian Electoral Commission that the


Rent-seekers trump the consumer

By Leith van Onselen It’s been a stiff fortnight for the Australian consumer. Consider the following actions over the past two weeks (in no particular order) launched by the Abbott Government. First, Assistant Treasurer and former NAB executive, Arthur Sinodinos, has moved to gut sweeping Future of Financial Advice Reforms (FoFA), which were born out of


What does Bill Shorten stand for?

Cross-posted from The Conversation: Bill Shorten’s blaming of the Abbott government for the death of the car industry and condemning the royal commission into union corruption were entirely predictable positions. But they also highlight the major challenges ahead of the opposition leader – positioning himself on key economic issues and loosening the constraints imposed by


Pulling the Shorten straw backfiring?

From The Australian, Newspoll suggest we don’t like the Libs but we really don’t like Bill Shorten: BILL Shorten’s personal standing has slumped and Labor’s primary vote has fallen during a Christmas parliamentary break dominated by corporate closures, job losses, union corruption and controversy over the Coalition’s handling of industry aid and asylum-seekers. For the


Banks curry favour in Canberra

From the SMH: The big four banks outweighed the mining sector in corporate donations to the major political parties in the lead-up to last year’s election, while the Labor Party was ahead overall in the fundraising stakes by nearly $3 million on June 30 last year. Australian Electoral Commission data show the Labor Party’s total receipts were ahead


Abbott’s ABC blunder

From John Birmingham comes an insight I agree with: You could cut Howard’s fingers off and poke him in the eye with them, he wouldn’t blink. He wouldn’t give you the bloody satisfaction of it. John Howard might have looked like a brylcreemed super nerd but he was a hard nut who could absorb inhuman


Roy Morgan: Abbott hits post election low

Today from RM: On a two-party preferred basis the ALP is 53% (up 0.5% since the Morgan Poll of January 4/5 & 11/12, 2014). L-NP support is 47%, down 0.5%. If an election were held now the result would be a clear ALP victory according to the MorganPoll. This multi-mode Morgan Poll on voting intention was conducted over the last


Australia moving to “China containment” policy?

From Crikey: Abbott has never outlined any China policy, and [former Chinese ambassador Stephen] FitzGerald says the government simply does not have one. But someone clearly does. Foreign affairs insiders say the policy shift in favour of Japan (read: the US) is the handiwork of Andrew Shearer, Abbott’s chief foreign affairs adviser, a former diplomat


Howard cronies jobs boom

By Leith van Onselen The claim that the Abbott Government is “open for business” appears to have been a red-rag-to-a-bull for Australia’s largest companies, which are reportedly scurrying to employ former Howard Government ministers and other Coalition operatives as lobbyists: The torrent of activity in the increasingly partisan lobbying industry has in turn sparked a


The dependent ally spins the wheel of fortune

Foreign policy wonks will be writhing in pain this week as Chris Joye described the latest international gaffe in the Abbott Government’s pugilistic approach to strategic matters: Foreign Minister Julie Bishop sees the United States, not China, as Australia’s most important economic partner, rejecting one of the main assumptions of the previous Labor government’s “Asian


Stop press: Crazy old man sees Indo invasion

That’s not my headline. It was sent to me today by a professional strategic analyst about Gotti today: …it’s clear the Indonesians believe their greatest threat is from Australia. Air Force chief spokesman Air Commodore Hadi Tjajanto told The Jakarta Post: “We are concentrating on four radars in Timika, Merauke, Saumlaki and Buraen, which face Australia.


Abbott’s stimulus hypocrisy

Prime Minister Abbott is making an art form of the international gaffe. Last night it was Davos’ turn. From the SMH: Prime Minister Tony Abbott has used his contribution to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to criticise Labor’s stimulus spending during the global financial crisis while also calling on the US to tread


What goes around comes around for Abbott

By Leith van Onselen Business Spectator’s Rob Burgess has written an interesting article today in Business Spectator explaining how the Tony Abbott’s phoney war against the carbon tax, which he used to great effect against the former Labor Government, risks biting the Coalition’s backside now that it is in Government: One of the really difficult


A bald razor will shred Abbott’s Government

From the AFR: Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s signature paid parental leave policy and Labor’s National Disability Insurance Scheme could be scaled back, potentially saving billions but leaving the ­government open to political attack. The Coalition and the Greens have held discussions about the structure of the parental leave scheme, which is forecast to cost $5.5


Coaltion nutters attack Turnbull

Ahh, bring it on Malcolm! From the SMH: Anger is rising within the Abbott government over Malcolm Turnbull’s advocacy for gay marriage, with the Communications Minister publicly criticised by two backbench colleagues. South Australian Senator Cory Bernardi has urged Mr Turnbull to either resign from the frontbench or stop commenting on “fringe issues outside party


Clive’s assets

From the AFR today: …In addition to 40 subsidiaries under his Mineralogy business, Mr Palmer listed six businesses and their associated subsidiaries involved with nickel mining, the Coolum hotel resort in Queensland, and another 26 private companies with intriguing names like Elect the President Pty Ltd and Deng Xiaoping Memorial Challenge Pty Ltd.  There are also nine overseas


New WA Senate election likely

From Rob Burgess at Business Spectator today: Former federal police commissioner Mick Keelty has made his report into what went wrong in the Western Australian recount, and gave the Australian Electoral Commission a good kicking for its lax standards. It had, he said, “failed to meet its own high standards and damaged its reputation with


Newspoll: Abbott support tumbles

From the AFR: The Abbott government’s extraordinary collapse in public support has been confirmed in the latest Newspoll, which puts Labor well ahead on a two-party basis and shows the Coalition has lost its carbon tax advantage. The Newspoll, published in The Australian on Tuesday, finds the Coalition’s election winning margin has been erased in just three


What’s going on with the Abbott Government?

Cross-posted from The Conversation For every opposition, the prospect of taking office – attaining politics’ ultimate prize, often after years of hard grind – can be relied upon to drown out the little noises of self-doubt and self-criticism that lurk inside the head of any reasonable politician. The transition to power? We’re ready. There’s a


Lib: PM’s office has “obsessive control phobia”

From the SMH: Tony Abbott and his chief of staff Peta Credlin are enforcing a culture of “obsessive centralised control phobia” and are out of touch with voters, according to Liberal National Party senator Ian Macdonald, who has delivered a scathing attack on the Prime Minister’s office. Senator Macdonald is furious that he has not


Government and the ABC

Crikey today wades into the increasingly hostile attack on the ABC from the Abbott Government: The ABC Act, section 78, subsection 6: “Except as provided by this section, or as expressly provided by a provision of another Act, the Corporation is not subject to direction by or on behalf of the Government of the Commonwealth.” Malcolm Turnbull