September 24, 2013 | Graham

Another reason Labor lost

Mike Kelly talking to Waleed Ali tonight on Radio National provides a complete picture of why Labor isn’t coming back any time soon. Kelly, a military officer recruited from the army by the ALP specifically to run for parliament, was a star candidate, a minister, and the member for the bell wether seat of Eden Monaro.

Based on his interview he has the qualities that suit him for none of these things.

It is widely expected that Bob Carr will resign from the senate in another sign that Labor was full of main chancers with no interest in the electorate and unsuited to rule.

Kelly apparently thinks that being a main chancer is the main qualification for being a senator. So he has put up his hand to fill Carr’s position, but on conditions. He wants to still be able to run for Eden Monaro at the next election.

He argues that he should be in the senate, because the defence minister is in the senate, and he is the best person to shadow them.

He also argues that he is the best person to represent Eden Monaro, and he has a family history there which goes back more than 150 years.

Oh, and he wouldn’t want to stand in the way of a woman getting into the senate, and he is happy for one to take his senate spot once he’s left it to run for Eden Monaro at the next election.

A cynic (yes, I’ll put up my hand as one) would say that while he dearly wants to run for Eden Monaro again, he needs an income in the meantime, and one which allows him time to campaign for the seat. Being a senator meets that need.

A realist would say that he is delusional and probably narcisstic. Especially as he also asserted that the Labor party can win the next election. (Maybe it can, but not if it keeps telling people it will – that is the sort of dumb pride that comes before a numbing fall).

The myth that Labor politicians are trying to spread is that they lost the last election because of disunity. This is an alibi. It is an attempt to avoid the blame for poor policies, poorer implementation and abysmally bad personnel.

Kelly exemplifies all that was wrong with the last government. He refuses to accept any blame, and he still thinks that politics is a way to spread benefits around to yourself and your mates, and that electors will reward him for that.

Just as well this guy wasn’t in the army in a time of national emergency. We need adults in parliament and in the armed forces.

He’s not likely to be in either place for the rest of his life, and it is in Labor’s interest to ensure this is the case. They desperately need adults in the party.

Posted by Graham at 10:12 pm | Comments (4) |
Filed under: Australian Politics

September 18, 2013 | Graham

See Ya Kev Specials

The world really did change on September 7, 2013. Businesses are generally careful not to let their customers know how they vote. So how do you explain the See Ya Kev Specials offered by MBE?



Now we know what most of their customers are telling them.

Posted by Graham at 10:16 am | Comments (1) |
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September 13, 2013 | Graham

Beef for boats

It’s a bit hard to see how Indonesia can oppose the Australian government buying fishing boats to stop asylum seekers, at the same time as it wants to buy 1.5 million hectares of grazing land to grow beef for its domestic market.

Surely there ought to be no impediment to either in what ought to be a “free” world.

Labor obviously gave Indonesia a soft ride in foreign affairs, and comments by Tanya Plibersek blaming the dispute on the Australian government’s policies show just how soft and inappropriate.

When it comes to refugees, Indonesia has a lot to answer for. Apparently journalists can find and board the boats that bring refugees here, but the Indonesian government cannot locate them and stop them leaving. What’s more, they apparently don’t want to work with the Australian government to ramp up their efforts.

Imagine the furore in Australia, let alone the rest of the world, if there was a hub of criminal people exporters running irregular cruises to Java from Broome, with 25% of them sinking on the way.

Indonesia is facing its own election within 12 months, and nationalism, economic and otherwise, obviously plays well there. Barnaby Joyce’s comments yesterday, and Kevin Rudd and Bob Katter’s during the election, show that they play well in certain parts of the Australian electorate as well.

Australians are suspicious of Indonesia as a result of their treatment of East Timor, as well as their occupation of West Papua. We shouldn’t let this suspicion get in the way of nudging them in the right direction, but it does mean that our government can be very firm with them without risking domestic support.

With a bit of skill perhaps the sparring over boats and beef could even be used to expedite a free trade agreement with them, but not on the basis that we will trade one against the other, but that Australia demonstrates the benefits of running an open economy.

However, that doesn’t, and shouldn’t extend to immigration.

Immigration is a regional problem and has to be dealt with cooperatively. It’s a problem for Australia, but it should also be recognised as a problem for our neighbours, by them, as well as us.




Posted by Graham at 7:25 am | Comments (4) |
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September 11, 2013 | Graham

Skeptics confuse cause and effect

There’s 60 per cent more sea ice in the Arctic this year than there was last year, which means claims that the Arctic would be ice free in summer by 2013 were ridiculously over blown.

It does not mean, however, that this happened because of a “chilly Arctic summer”.

Rather the summer was chilly because of all that ice.

Too many participants in this debate just don’t get the fundamental physics – it is sea temperature that drives surface atmospheric temperature, not the other way around. When the sea warms it makes the air warmer, and a bit of extra CO2 in the atmosphere acts like a jumper, making it harder for heat to be emitted and raising the average temperature as a result.

The really hot temperatures that we experience are caused by the land, particularly deserts, being heated, but as they don’t retain the heat in the way that oceans do, there effect is transient.

It’s as silly to say that the ice is there because the summer was “chilly” as it is to say that global warming has stopped because it is hiding in the ocean.

If it is “hiding in the ocean” what is the mechanism that apparently suddenly reversed 15 years ago and started sucking warmer surface water down to depth?

And why can’t we find the increase in ocean temperature?

But there is more misattribution around. Tony Abbott did not win the federal election by pushing an agenda of climate skepticism. What he did was promise that dealing with climate change wouldn’t hurt electors, and moved to scrap those programs that were hurting electors.

He still notionally accepts that climate change is an issue, which is sensible politics, as most of his electors believe it is too – they just don’t see why they should have to pay for it.

The problem with confusing cause and effect is that it leads one to make basic mistakes – whether in the physical sciences, or the political ones.

Posted by Graham at 6:59 am | Comments (6) |
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September 10, 2013 | Graham

Rudd helps coalition to have their cake and eat it

With all due respect to Bill Glasson, who was a great candidate, the best result for the Liberal Party out of this election was not winning Griffith.

They get to win the election in a landslide, and their opponents get mired in the mud of Nightmare on Norman Crescent as Kevin Rudd comes back and back and back every time they nod off and lose concentration.

Craig Emerson, Stephen Smith, Brendan O’Connor and Greg Combet are all doing the right thing by the Labor party and the nation in calling on Rudd to resign.

They’re also doing the right thing by the Labor voters in Griffith, even though it would mean forcing the electorate to a byelection.

While Rudd is in parliament it will be very difficult for Labor to run a coherent and disciplined opposition.

He won’t be able to help himself. Everywhere he goes he will attract enthusiasts, and that will attract the easy media stories of the Komeback Kev, which he will be happy to fan.

Those in the ALP who are urging their colleagues not to go public are doing the party a disservice.

When you’ve just lost an election by the margin that they have you need a period to regather and regroup.

It is a fantasy, born of the residue of campaign adrenalin, to think that they will be in any position to challenge Abbott any time soon.

If they are to get competitive again they have to demonstrate that they have been listening to the electorate and will mend their ways.

That involves having an open conversation that electors can see.

One of the things that electors want them to fix is Kevin. On my polling Rudd was a strong reason for voting for the coalition, particularly with minor party voters.

It’s significant that the voters who know him best seem to share this point of view.

The two-party preferred swing across Queensland against the Rudd government stands at -0.89%, and across the country it is -3.35%, according to the latest figures from the AEC.

In Griffith the swing was -5.42%.

There was a Rudd effect. It wasn’t positive. He should go.


Posted by Graham at 10:00 am | Comments (4) |
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September 09, 2013 | Graham

Buying a PUP

Clive Palmer’s tapped into a vein of public discontent showing his abilities in mining go beyond the mineral. But Clive’s skills as a miner are probably as much as a financier as a prospector – he leverages his veins. How does he intend to leverage his political vein?

It seems to have escaped most commentators, but the only reason the man who poured around $1 million into the LNP is now running his own party is because he fell out with the LNP when they wouldn’t give him what he wanted.

Perhaps there is an expectation that when you donate that much you are owed something. The state ALP certainly thought that not only was there an expectation, but that it was well-founded.

They suggested in their 2012 state campaign that the LNP was corrupt and would give Palmer whatever he wanted.

The ALP was wrong.

Palmer has coal interests in the Galilee basin, and a proposal to build a rail line to transport the minerals to the coast for shipping overseas.

He’s not the only one with interests in the Galilee basin, and one of the other coal entrepreneurs, Gina Hancock, in a JV with India’s GVK and rail operator Aurizon¬†was given significant project status last year in preference to Palmer, and another investor, Adani.

Palmer fell out with the LNP and subsequently set up his own party.

According to Graham Richardson on Q&A tonight, he poured at least $15 million into advertising the new party – 15 times what he poured into the LNP – in the last weeks of the election and now looks to have two senators elected, as well as having won the state seat of Fairfax in his own right.

What are Palmer’s real political interests, and how does he separate them from his private interests?

He now has political bargaining chips, how will he use them?

What real control does Palmer have of his own party?

Will he find that you can spend $15 million getting people elected and that they will buck the party line, as his probably successful candidate in Tasmania, Jacqui Lambie is promising to do?

Two models for Clives’ party suggest themselves – both of them Italian.

One is Sforza Italia – Silvio Berlusconi’s political/business conglomerate which reaped significant political and business dividends for Berlusconi from holding political office.

The other is Beppe Grillo, the clown turned politician who attracted 25% of the vote in Italy’s last election.

It’s possible to have tears and laughter at the same time – perhaps that’s where we’re heading with Clive, but did voters realise that when they were voting?

Posted by Graham at 11:14 pm | Comments (1) |
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September 03, 2013 | Graham

Kevin 2013 stabs himself with backbone

Apparently the Kevin 2013 version comes with a backbone. Fair enough, but if its going to be his new offensive weapon he should use it on someone other than himself.

Kevin’s latest stunt is to say that Labor will block the Liberals from abolishing the carbon tax because it is a core Labor policy.

Now, let me get this straight. This is the same Kevin who in 2010 was quite happy to jettison the whole ETS designed to deal with climate change the “greatest moral challenge” of our era because it was politically inconvenient.

But somehow three years later it is non-negotiable.

And this is the same Kevin who has criticised Tony Abbott because all he does is oppose, even when the government has a mandate.

If you needed a better illustration of the disintegration of the Labor campaign I can’t think of it.

Rudd tried to clean up his carbon tax mess by convincing us all that he had abolished the carbon tax. That was on July 16.

Here we are, not two months later, and someone, somewhere, is so convinced we want to pay more for our electricity that suddenly, not only reinstating the carbon tax, but forcing us all back to the polls in the next twelve months to make us vote for more expensive power, is a genius political strategy.

I’ll tell you what the average Joe and Jill are saying: “How loud do we need to yell at this mob before they will listen?”

The queues are going to be long and early on polling booths this Saturday. We’re not going to an election so much as a lynching…I suspect.

Posted by Graham at 11:06 pm | Comments (7) |
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