Australian Politics


Budget war on all fronts

It’s not an especially encouraging sign when the day after the Budget the Prime Minister is forced to roll out his biggest cannon: AN election fight looms over the federal budget as Tony Abbott ­demands the Senate pass his economic agenda, despite a furious response to sweeping welfare reforms and school funding cuts. Laying out


No more dodgy little parties

It looks the days of preference-harvesting are numbered for the Senate. From Crikey: While the technicalities remain to be ironed out, an interim report of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters has recommended following the example of the New South Wales upper house in allowing voters to rank parties in order of preference above the line,


Will the opposition support raising fuel excise?

By Leith van Onselen If a sensible policy reform like raising the fuel excise can’t achieve broad political support, then I don’t know what will. When quizzed about whether Labor would support the measure, Opposition leader, Bill Shorten, was non-committal, declaring reports about raising the fuel excise as “just another ‘kite’ being flown by the


Australia’s “whipping boy” youth

Cross-posted from The Conversation. In the English court during the 15th and 16th centuries boys were engaged to cop the punishments of young princes. These young people were referred to as “whipping boys”. When the young crown prince misbehaved, the whipping boy was beaten and made to suffer. Such practice seems fanciful now. However, the idea


ICAC and the Prime Minister

The AFR has quite a lead story today: The Independent Commission Against Corruption’s investigation is inching closer to the Prime Minister’s office. Questions have emerged over Tony Abbott’s role in selecting Karen McNamara as Liberal candidate for the federal seat of Dobell despite doubts over her fund-raising claims. Mr Abbott was widely reported to be


Palmer calls Hockey corrupt

This morning the SMH reported that: Treasurer Joe Hockey is offering privileged access to a select group including business people and industry lobbyists in return for tens of thousands of dollars in donations to the Liberal Party via a secretive fund-raising body whose activities are not fully disclosed to election funding authorities. The Independent Commission


Deficit tax thumps Coalition polling

The deficit levy has been christened Abbott’s “Gillard moment” and the polls are not happy. From the AFR: The complexities of imposing the surcharge without subjecting families earning between $80,000 and $125,000 a year to a double hit from higher taxes and lost family benefits mean the exact shape of the measure is not yet


Tony’s pants catch fire

Cross-posted from the The Conversation. The Abbott government is like the farmer supposed to be burning a paddock of stumble who ends up with the whole property in flames. Maybe it will be able to pull things together in the May 13 budget but at the moment it is being stifled by smoke and heat.


Developers, NSW Libs in donation scam

From the AFR: Coal baron Nathan Tinkler and Harry Triguboff of Meriton and tens of other property developers are alleged to have been involved in a “systematic subversion of NSW electoral funding laws” via Liberal Party slush funds. Geoffrey Watson, SC, counsel assisting, told an Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry on Monday that the scheme


The banana republic parliament

From Phil Coorey at the AFR: The Abbott government is considering scrapping plans to cut a welfare payment to children of war veterans in order to secure the support of Clive Palmer to repeal the mining tax. Senior sources told The Australian Financial Review that the government was “happy to negotiate” with Mr Palmer over plans to axe


Bye bye Barry

Excerpted from Crikey’s Bernard Keane: For three years Barry O’Farrell has been an excellent premier of a state that desperately needed both good government and an end to the blatant corruption that became a feature of New South Wales Labor’s last years in power. Like any politician, he was not above compromise and deal-making —


Abbott polls bounce back

Newpoll today has the Abbott Government bouncing back: The Coalition is now in front of Labor on a two-party-preferred basis, 51 to 49 per cent. Labor had led the government on a two-party-preferred basis since the beginning of December as the Abbott government lost voter support sooner than any newly elected modern government except Julia


Major parties hammered in WA election

From William Bowe at Crikey: Saturday’s unprecedented Western Australian Senate election has finally settled the make-up of the chamber’s crossbench after July 1. But Prime Minister Tony Abbott might have a few more weeks to wait until he can be sure of the strength of his government’s hand. Despite a collective slump in the major


Clive assumes power

From the Brisbane Times: Prime Minister Tony Abbott faces three years of horse trading to get his legislation through the Senate following a Western Australian poll that featured a swing of about 5 per cent against both major parties. The Greens’ Scott Ludlam and the Palmer United Party’s Dio Wang will head to Canberra, while the Coalition


Clive’s second coming

From Crikey: Some guide at least is offered by state-level breakdowns of federal voting intention from the published pollsters, which when run through the BludgerTrack poll trend model show the Coalition on 45.5% (down 5.7% on the election), Labor on 31.2% (up 2.4%), the Greens on 11.9% (up 2.2%) and Palmer United on 5.9% (up 0.6%). Even


Abbott rebounds in WA senate race

From The Australian: Before the Senate re-election was called, federal Liberals believed the Abbott government suffered collateral damage from the plunging popularity of Premier Colin Barnett and his Liberal government. In the January-March period, primary support for the Coalition rose from 41 to 46 per cent after dropping 10 points in the October-December quarter. At


Q: How conservative is this man?

A: Absurdly so. From the AFR: Former Liberal prime minister John Howard does not agree with Tony Abbott’s decision to reinstitute knights and dames into the Australian honours system, saying he stands by his long-held view that such a move would be considered “somewhat anachronistic”, even by conservatives. Mr Howard indicated that because of his


Abbott blows spin budget sky high

By Leith van Onselen The Canberra Times is reporting today on the explosion of “spin doctors” in the Federal Government’s ranks, which have reportedly risen by 300 to 1,900 since 2012: The federal government’s ”army” of spin doctors and communications staff has grown to more than 1900, based on data supplied by departments and agencies.


Polls: Labor streaks ahead

From Roy Morgan today: If a Federal Election were held today it would result in a clear ALP victory – two-party preferred support is ALP 54.5% (up 1% since the Morgan Poll of March  1/2 & 8/9, 2014) cf. L-NP 45.5% (down 1%) according to the Morgan Poll. This multi-mode Morgan Poll on voting intention


Paul Howes bows out, or does he?

From locked-BS: Australian Workers’ Union boss Paul Howes has confirmed he will step down as national secretary from July. “For some time now I have been contemplating the next steps in my life. And as such I recognise the right thing to do is to step down,” Mr Howes said in a statement. “Of course


Sinodinos stands down as Assistant Treasurer

By Leith van Onselen Just in via Business Spectator, Arthur Sinodinos will stand aside as Assistant Treasurer following allegations of corruption connected to an ICAC inquiry in NSW: The move comes in the face of increasing pressure from the opposition and the Greens, who earlier today demanded Mr Sinodinos explain inconsistencies between a statement he


Roy Morgan: Labor extends lead

Fresh from Roy Morgan: If a Federal Election were held today it would result in an ALP victory – two-party preferred support is ALP 53.5% (up 3% since the Morgan Poll of February  15/16 & 22/23, 2014) cf. L-NP 46.5% (down 3%) according to the Morgan Poll. This multi-mode Morgan Poll on voting intention was conducted over the last two weekends


Newspoll: Libs close the gap

From The Australian: According to the latest Newspoll survey, taken exclusively for The Australian on the weekend, primary vote support for the Coalition rose from 39 to 41 per cent in the past two weeks and Labor’s fell from 39 to 35 per cent. Support for the Greens and others was virtually unchanged on 11