Australian Politics

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Horribly conflicted FIRB chairman Brian Wilson must resign

As I noted earlier this week at The Australian: Foreign Investment Review Board chairman Brian Wilson has accepted a role as adviser to the $180 billion private equity giant, the Carlyle Group, potentially putting the former investment banker in conflict when it comes to giving the green light or blocking key foreign investment moves. The US-listed,

39

Well done Sam Dastyari

From Sam Dastyari viaDomainfax: Senator Sam Dastyari has stood down from the Labor frontbench amid a political storm over personal payments he received from Beijing-linked donors and comments he reportedly made supporting China’s position on the South China Sea. He said while he disclosed the two payments on parliamentary registers, he was stepping down as

40

Morrison releases foreign farm ownership study

From Treasurer Morrison The Turnbull Government today released Australia’s first report from the Agricultural Land Register, delivering on our commitment to increase scrutiny and transparency in Australian agriculture. The Land Register shows foreign investors hold just 13.6 per cent of all Australian agricultural land. The United Kingdom is Australia’s principal source of investment in agriculture

57

Dastyari has to go

I like Sam Dastyari. He has more balls than most. But he’s put them in a Chinese sling and he has to go, from The Australian: Labor senator Sam Dastyari has apologised for accepting money from Chinese companies amid fresh revelations the Yuhu group, which paid a $40,000 legal bill for the frontbencher, has formal

111

The corruption of Australia

Being a blogging skeptic and policy critic I am always amused when I read rating agencies assessments of political economy like that offered recently by Moody’s: Very strong institutional and policy framework. Australia’s monetary policy and banking regulation and supervision are vigilant and responsive to economic and financial conditions. The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has

21

FIRB chairman Brian Wilson must resign for the good of his country

As I noted yesterday, from The Australian: Foreign Investment Review Board chairman Brian Wilson has accepted a role as adviser to the $180 billion private equity giant, the Carlyle Group, potentially putting the former investment banker in conflict when it comes to giving the green light or blocking key foreign investment moves. The US-listed, Washington-based

8

Bob Carr’s “China whatever” think tank takes righteous pounding

This morning I defended the second track diplomacy activities of Bob Carr’s Yuhu Group funded think tank but the AFR is not so kind: Research from a Beijing-linked University of Technology, Sydney think tank was used to justify the decision to sign the free-trade agreement with China and join the Asian Infrastructure Bank in parliamentary debates.

59

FIRB WTF as conflicted chair to keep old and new jobs

In the land of policy rent-seeking it’s not easy to find new lows but today we have one, from The Australian: Foreign Investment Review Board chairman Brian Wilson has accepted a role as adviser to the $180 billion private equity giant, the Carlyle Group, potentially putting the former investment banker in conflict when it comes to

10

Turnbull launches foreign bribery probe, for everywhere else

In a case of true Kafkaesque synchronicity, the Turnbull Government has moved to strengthen its regime against foreign bribery, everywhere except Australia, from Domainfax: The federal government will hire a new team of specialist anti-corruption investigators in Perth after a series of revelations in Fairfax Media about high-level foreign bribery, including at WA mining company Sundance Resources.

57

Very obviously, Dastyari should resign

From the AFR: Labor Senator Sam Dastyari pledged to respect China’s position on the South China Sea at an election campaign press conference he held with a Chinese political donor who had previously paid his legal bills. …The Coalition has accused the senator of destabilising Australian foreign policy in making the comments as they contravene

17

Pressure builds for crack-down on political lobbyists and donations

By Leith van Onselen Political donations, and the propensity for lobbyists to effectively pay for policy favours, is becoming a hot political issue. Ever since ABC’s Four Corners aired its report in May, entitled Money and Influence, which examined Australia’s opaque system of campaign finance and political donations, we have seen a procession of media

173

Are we really going to sell out the US alliance for property prices?

Finally the nation has been shunted into a decent debate about China and its role in Australia’s future. We know it’s a debate of substance because the Chinese Communist mouthpiece, The Global Times, was sufficiently exercised to mock it: A Briefing Book, given to all senators and members by Australia’s Parliamentary Library recently, warned them

20

Is modern politics even capable of reform?

By Leith van Onselen Sadly, politics in Australia has morphed into a game over the past decade or so, whereby parties have eschewed policy making and debate in the national interest in favour of scoring cheap political points, often in a very tribal and negative manner. This game lacks substance, whereby slogans like “Stop the

148

Is China running the Australian Parliament?

In what universe are Australian politicians living? From The Australian: The donations furore engulfing Labor senator Sam Dastyari has highlighted extensive Chinese ­patronage of Australian political parties and put the ALP under pressure to reveal the nature of more than $250,000 in benefits. Analysis by The Australian shows Top Education Institute — whose payment of

48

Doddering Turnbull almost rolled on bank royal commission

The AFR reports a Government in disarray: The government and the banks face a nervous two years until the next election after Labor sprung an ambush on Thursday night which nearly saw it win support in the House of Representatives for a royal commission. Although it survived the scare, the government became the first in more than half

16

Boom-bust Barnett hangs on grimly

From The Australian on the recent poll commissioned by business luminaries on the leadership of Colin Barnett: Mr Barnett said today that all the business people involved should confess to their role in the polling, and that he had referred the matter to the head of the Department of Premier and Cabinet to determine whether

20

Yuhu Group tendrils wrap around both parties

At the AFR: Labor Senator Sam Dastyari pledged to respect China’s position on the South China Sea at an election campaign press conference he held with a Chinese political donor who had previously paid his legal bills. He has also urged Australia to drop its opposition to China’s air defence zone in the contested region. The comments, reported in the Chinese

34

Top 10 drivers of Turnbull Government ineptitude

The evidence is in and the conclusion unavoidable: the Turnbull Government is politically inept, policy inept and national interest inept. Given ineptitude is perhaps the last thing that we would have associated with such a successful businessman, it is interesting to examine why the government Malcolm Turnbull leads is so incompetent. Here’s my top ten

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Turnbull must flush the loon pond

Some great advice here for Prime Minister Turnbull from reader Sanchez: Negative Gearing – MT wants to reform but Loon Pond has changed his stance. Super – MT wants to reform but Loon Pond wants to amend policy. Same Sex Marrage – MT would like to offer free vote but Loon Pond has backed him

31

Turnbull’s and Morrison’s negative gearing disgrace

By Leith van Onselen In 2005, Malcolm Turnbull spoke out against negative gearing, labelling it and the capital gains tax (CGT) discount a “sheltering tax haven” and “tax avoidance”, and arguing that it is “skewing national investment away from wealth-creating pursuits, towards housing”. In a similar vein, Scott Morrison in February this year admitted “there are

18

Chanticleer prompts banks to corrupt democracy

Fair dinkum, has it really come to this, from Tony Boyd’s Chanticleer today: The question running around the big end of town after  George Wright’s appointment as vice-president, corporate affairs at BHP Billiton is: How do you go from master-minding a successful anti-business, populist election campaign to being the credible face of capitalism? The answer is

31

Chinese property grab pulls media strings

After yesterday’s extraordinary intervention by the Chinese Consul-General in the new Vancouver housing tax aimed at Chinese investors comes this from New York Times: TORONTO — Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, is due in China on Tuesday for a much anticipated visit, hoping to reset what had been an up-and-down relationship under the previous government. Closer ties, Mr. Trudeau

147

Chief Loon undermines Turnbull on hate speech

From Domainfax: Liberal senator Cory Bernardi has the backing of nearly every government backbench senator to re-write section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, but denies the move is a direct challenge to Malcolm Turnbull’s authority. The libertarian South Australian senator has kick-started the push to force changes to Section 18C, which makes it an offence to

22

Chinese demand results from political donations

By Leith van Onselen I have written previously about the disturbing trend in Australian politics whereby political donations from special interest groups appear to be skewing decision making. Back in May, ABC’s Four Corners aired a report, entitled Money and Influence, which examined Australia’s opaque system of campaign finance and political donations: “We have a

79

Greens shut down population debate

By Leith van Onselen One of the reasons why an increasing number of Australians voted for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation at the recent Federal Election is because they felt their concerns were not being represented by the mainstream parties. One example of this is Australia’s immigration-driven population growth, which for a decade has lead the

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PM Turnbull re-emerges: Visionless, policy-drained, broken

After spending eight weeks in a cave, Malcolm Turnbull has emerged to describe his vision for Australia and his government’s mission within it. In the accompanying photographs he looks 75 not 61, aged before his time.  From Paul Kelly over the weekend: The Prime Minister seeks a new voice and renovated mission as leader. It