November 07, 2016 | Graham

Turnbull starting to move in the right direction

The latest Morgan Gallup Poll shows Malcolm Turnbull’s approval rating falling slightly, but a massive increase in the numbers preferring him as Prime Minister over Bill Shorten.

At last Turnbull is moving in the right direction. If he can maintain this he can win the next election.

What is most significant is the fall in Shorten’s support amongst Greens, Independents and non-Greens minor party voters.

Here are the figures including Morgan’s heading:

Analysis by Party – Turnbull leads among L-NP electors and Shorten well ahead with ALP electors

L-NP supporters: Turnbull 86% (unchanged) cf. Shorten 4% (down 8%). Lead to Mr. Turnbull 82% (up 8%);

ALP supporters: Turnbull 14% (down 4%) cf. Shorten 65% (down 16%). Lead to Mr. Shorten 51% (down 12%);

Greens supporters: Turnbull 22% (up 7%) cf. Shorten 54% (down 29%). Lead to Mr. Shorten 32% (down 36%);

Ind/Others supporters: Turnbull 51% (up 3%) cf. Shorten 25% (down 25%). Lead to Mr. Turnbull 26% (up 28%).

When people ask me to list the achievements of Malcolm Turnbull I reply that at least he has reset the political debate by having an election which he won, no matter how narrowly.

As a result of that election we are starting to see legislation being successfully put through the senate.

Turnbull has also taken stronger stances on refugees, and now human rights. This is going to cost him support on the left, but in the middle ground and the right it sharpens the distinction between him and Shorten, and that, as much as anything Shorten has done, is partially responsible for Shorten’s decline in the polls.

Were an election to be held tomorrow, and Turnbull to run on leadership, Shorten would lose decisively.

There also seems to have been a turn in Turnbull’s rhetoric. He is sounding stronger and more decisive. Instead of trying to be all things to all people, he is now taking some risks, and it appears to be paying off.

Listen to ABC’s AM from this morning to hear the new tone. It’s not quite three word slogans, but it is definitely not polly waffle either.

Another contributing factor could be the ABCC legislation. Voters generally give the ALP a pass on unions, in the same way they give the coalition a pass on big business, because they are both seen as core constintuencies.

Where the union issue resonates is when voters assess Bill Shorten’s character. At the back of their minds they know he did a bad deal for the workers at Cleanevent which had payoffs for him in terms of union representation in Labor forums, and ultimately support to become prime minister.

Voters don’t want to end up like the Cleanevent crew.

Yet another factor is likely to be gay marriage. If you are genuinely interested in seeing it legislated, and not using it as a political football, then you would support the government’s legislation, have the plebiscite, and have it over and done with.

Shorten is playing the issue for political advantage.

There are two constituencies that care about gay marriage, outside the LGBTIQ community. One is conservative Christians and the other is Greens/Left voters.

The Christians are not huge in numbers, but they distinguish between Shorten and Turnbull on this issue. At least Turnbull is going to give them a say in it, and if they are beaten, they can accept that.

Turnbull has held the line on this issue, and it is to his advantage with these voters. They could well desert him if he did anything else.

Those who are Greens/Left and not partisan warriors realise that a plebiscite is their best chance for at least the next three years. It must irk them that a man who three years ago was in favour of a plebiscite and against gay marriage, has now taken the opposite position, but to whose advantage? Not theirs – see Cleanevent above.

Labor is attempting to ape Tony Abbott’s oppositional tactics, but Abbott had something that Bill Shorten Labor hasn’t – he was seen as a conviction politician. He might have been brutally oppositional, and gained an advantage from it, but he believed in what he was saying, and the advantage was consequential.

Shorten comes up short on conviction, so opposition can easily be translated by voters as self-interested hypocrisy and gamesmanship. The political tide is running against that at the moment.

Turnbull however should not take this improvement for granted. The move away from Shorten hasn’t been directly to his benefit. The voters have parked themselves as “Neither/Can’t say”. If Turnbull shows any signs of stepping back from his new tougher direction, Shorten will be back in the game.

Posted by Graham at 2:32 pm | Comments (4) |

September 07, 2016 | Graham

Why Sam Dastyari must resign from parliament

There is no universe in which China’s attempted annexation of the South China Sea can be morally justified. Everyone knows that. Malcolm Turnbull  knows it. Bill Shorten knows it. Hillary Clinton knows it. Donald Trump knows it. Xi Jinping knows it. And Sam Dastyari knows it.

That is why Sam Dastyari needs to resign from the parliament of Australia.

By supporting China in the South China Sea he did the insupportable, which gives rise to the unrebuttable conclusion that in return for Chinese money he was bought.

Sam Dastyari is the first of this generation’s Quislings. We can’t afford more of them, and both sides of politics need to send a clear message to potential Quislings, and to their overlords, that retribution will be swift, and ruthless.

China’s attempted annexure of the South China Sea is analogous to Germany’s annexation of the Sudetenland. They have excuses, but not reasons, and it is a test by them of how much other countries will tolerate.

Tolerate too much and the aggressive push continues. The aggressor thinks they are getting away with it, but all they are really doing is ratcheting up the pressure.

Then war becomes inevitable, but at a larger and more horrific scale than if it is opposed earlier.

That is the lesson of history.

This is serious business. US think tanks are already gaming a potential war between China and the USA and the costs.

Undoubtedly this is a jawing tactic to convince the Chinese to pull back.

The great foreign policy challenge for this government, along with other governments in the world, is how to manage to convince the Chinese to retreat in the South China Sea.

We do a lot of trade with the Chinese. That makes us trading partners, not allies.

We did a lot of trade with Japan before WWII. That did not make us allies, even though in WWI we had been.

China is an adversary, unlike the US, which is a competitor.

The Australian security establishment regards China as an adversary, and stopped the Chinese from buying New South Wales power assets  because it was a security risk.

Australian Labor has a bad track record on national security, and is regarded as worse than the coalition in this area.

Ben Chifley was a great wartime leader, but that was then.

Doc Evatt’s staff was riddled with Communist sympathisers, and the Communist domination of sectors of the ALP led to the DLP split which kept them out of power for a couple of decades.

If Bill Shorten does not insist that Dastyari be expelled from the ALP, rather than just resigning from the frontbench, he will add to this reputation. In effect he will be saying to foreign governments that it is OK to buy backbenchers, you just must leave frontbenchers alone.

Australia has to be united to send a message to China. Soft power is one thing, but no matter how much money you donate, we can’t be bought. We do not accept your annexation of the South China Sea, and you need to prepare to retreat and find some way to save face.

Some people will say resignation from parliament is a high price for Dastyari to pay.

Should there be a full-blown war with China, then young Australian men will lay their lives on the line. If you could save one life by sacrificing his career, what would you do?

Monday’s Q&A heard questions about Shakespeare’s attitude to minorities and refugees. In truth he had little to say about either of those things. They weren’t issues in his day, and there’s no evidence, even were he alive today, he would see them as issues now.

He was more interested in treachery – think Macbeth or Iago; Goneril and Regan; Brutus; Hamlet’s uncle Claudius.

Dastyari cast himself as a refugee on Q&A when he asked Pauline Hanson whether he should have been allowed to emigrate.

His behaviour now demeans the status of all immigrants, and exacerbates tensions in the community.

As our research shows, the big question for most Australians is “Do they come to join us or to change us?”

Sam hasn’t chosen Jihad, but he hasn’t chosen Australia either.

Shakespeare knew what to do with the Dastyaris of the world – make an example of them. So did Dante Allegheri, who reserved the deepest reaches of Hell for traitors.

Bill Shorten doesn’t need to be a classical scholar to know what to do, but in the interests of all Australians he has to ensure that Dastyari’s career is dead, buried and cremated.

The situation with China is serious. We can’t afford Quislings. China will see the “For Sale” sign up on the country. There are worse things for us than farmland that they can buy.



Posted by Graham at 9:27 pm | Comments (8) |

June 14, 2016 | Graham

Manchurian candidate or just a cuckoo?

I said to my good friend David Davies that I thought Australia had been invaded by the whites. He looked at me and said he was sure it was settlement. This would have been around about 1978 or 1979. He was studying law, I was studying English literature.

I had a lot of respect for David, so I thought harder about the issue and came to the conclusion that we were both right. At times it had been an invasion, but mostly it was just settlement.

Two hundred years ago the world was quite different. There was a lot of spare land around, and the might is right model of international governance still held sway.

When the English turned-up in Australia in 1788 the continent was underutilised and there was little governance. Aboriginal tribes had areas that they tended to visit and live in from time to time, but there was no idea of title in the modern sense.

When the strangers turned-up the evidence is that the Aborigines tended to disperse to accommodate them. It wasn’t much different to what happens on Fraser Island in the summertime. People camped, and as long as it didn’t create too much trouble everyone was happy.

But what happens when the newcomers start putting in infrastructure and invite their mates over?

The camping model doesn’t work so well after a while. Tensions arise, and fights break out. Were these wars? Some might have been, but most were skirmishes.

One might just as well call the movements of refugees around the world today invasions, as to call what happened in Australia between 1788 and the twentieth century, one.

The end result might be dispossession, but it is much more a consequence of demography than it is military might.

I doubt whether the Anglo Saxon and then Danish settlements of England were much different. There was certainly more pillaging and looting, but most of it must have been poor families from Europe looking for a better life and finding plenty of spare land in England in 400-800 AD.

The idea that Australia was conquered is a political tool used by the opponents of current Australian society to deligitimise that society. As an English Literature student I was exposed to that culture in a way that a law student (at least at that time) wasn’t.

I wasn’t across the reality of what actually happened and was fair game for a fantasy version of how it worked out. Except that when confronted with a conflicting point of view I was capable of examining the facts anew.

Malcolm Turnbull is a law graduate. He has the tools to understand the reality of the settlement of Australia. What is he on about when he says it is an “invasion”, and more, that Australia is still “Aboriginal land”?

I do not know.

What I do know is that week by week this election is drifting away from him.

His position on this issue will further alienate him from the Liberal base, and from the minor party voters whose preferences he needs to win.

I’ve been poring over my polling, and he is not now winning votes in the middle and on the left, despite his early success, because they want him to go much further than he is on this and other issues like climate change.

So he loses preferences from minor party voters, because they see him as a less sympathetic politician than Bill Shorten, but one who has a similar political position, so where is the reason to vote for him over Shorten?

The end result, if this continues and the Liberal campaign fails to find an authentic voice which appeals to minor party voters, will be the first Shorten government.

If this happens it will be because Malcolm Turnbull was not a contemporary Liberal in the first place, so the campaign never had an authentic voice to start with.

Some people will suggest Turnbull was always on the other side, and others that he had  no idea in the first place.

Posted by Graham at 10:41 pm | Comments (4) |

November 07, 2015 | Graham

Issue not whether Shorten’s actions were illegal, but whether they should have been

Bill Shorten is crying foul because the Trade Union Royal Commission advised us late on Friday he had not broken the law.

This begs the question. There should be a law forbidding what he did.

He took money from employers that he was negotiating wage agreements with. This is an unacceptable conflict of interest and ought to be illegal.

Any ethical person would not do it.

Bill Shorten is not an ethical person.

If he was a lawyer and did this he would be struck off.

But due to corruption of the legal system by government legislation, apparently union leaders are not held to any fiduciary duties.

This defect in the law “proves” the commission is a witch hunt, despite the fact that 10s of crooked union officials have been referred to police because they have used these sorts of tactics in areas which are free from industrial relations law.

We all need to be asking not why the commission chose to release the results this late, but why industrial laws allow individuals to do things which in any other sphere would be illegal.

Bill Shorten is a crook. The law just hasn’t caught up with, and defined, his crookedness.

I’m hoping my Labor friends replace him.

Australia deserves better than this.


Posted by Graham at 10:46 pm | Comments (1) |

September 05, 2015 | Graham

ChAFTA about levelling the playing field

I don’t understand the debate about ChAFTA.

What ChAFTA does is allow Australia more access to China, after we unlitaterally extended that courtesy to China years ago.

It is about levelling the playing field for everyone which will create more jobs all around.

Yet the ALP, true to form under this regime, is only interested in protecting the jobs of a few privileged unionists earning 6 figure sums.

It doesn’t seem to care about the unskilled workers who will win jobs under this agreement, or the unemployed who will have a chance at work and self-respect again.

No, if you aren’t, for example, a CFMEU chippy working on a highrise development and earning twice the salary of a teacher, you don’t matter.

What’s fair about that?

And if you doubt me that Australia unilaterally and dramatically lowered its trade barriers, have a look at the graph below.

Graph from

As a result of this we already use a lot of Chinese labour. It is embedded in the clothes on our back, the appliances in our kitchens and living rooms, the shoes on our feet, the cars and buses we ride in, the manufacturing inputs in the industries where we still manufacture, and on and on.

What ChAFTA will do is produce jobs in industries where we have an advantage, and can export to China, such as dairy, an industry just recovering after a bout of necessary deregulation.

New Zealand has already negotiated a free trade agreement with China, and the benefits to their dairy industry have been incalculable.It’s one of the powerhouses of their economy.

Investors are already looking for dairying opportunities around aouth-east Queensland, in anticipation of the free trade agreement, which will produce much-needed economic activity here.

But apparently Queensland doesn’t matter either.

NZ has a headstart on us, and we don’t want too many other nations to get a similar headstart or we will miss out on the early adopter advantage.

The Labor position appears to be that unless we get a clear advantage on every part of the trade agreement, then it is not a good trade agreement.

But that’s not the meaning of the word trade. It’s by giving and taking that economic progress occurs in the first place.

It’s not all give, but neither is it all take, unless perhaps you are the CFMEU.

Posted by Graham at 4:19 pm | Comments (2) |