An incisive look into Australia’s political affairs.

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Nuclear energy debate

No nuclear means more coal, but …

A Nationals bill to lift the ban on nuclear power stations may have strong Coalition backbench support, but there are many technical and political obstacles. Bridget McKenzie, Matt Canavan and three other Nationals plan legislation for a $1 billion arm to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation for investment in nuclear power, high-energy, low-emissions (HELE) coal-fired power generation and carbon-capture and storage technology.

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Fake news media controls people - G.K. Chesterton, Søren Kierkegaard

Kierkegaard and Chesterton: use and misuse of media

G.K. Chesterton enjoyed being a journalist because he liked polemics and debate. Søren Kierkegaard also liked polemics and debate, but he deplored journalism. Kierkegaard was born in Denmark in 1813 and died in 1855, 19 years before Chesterton’s birth. Chesterton was probably unaware of him. It was not until 1939 that Kierkegaard’s books were translated from Danish into English. By then, Chesterton was dead.

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Multiculturalism

The human limits of multiculturalism

It has long been clear that multiculturalism, which has been forced on Western nations by an ethologically, ethnologically and sociologically ignorant social and economic elite (who themselves operate at a protective international level above the specifics of national and racial cultural differences and loyalties), is a failure.

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Nationals' manufacturing policy to revive industry

Visionary Nationals plan to revive industry faces political complacency

A bold manufacturing plan has been laid out by the federal Nationals that shakes up the complacency of the “market knows best” bureaucrats that have held sway over industry policy for the past several decades. But the policy plan’s insistence on linking manufacturing support to modern coal-fired power stations has already raised the ire both…

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transgender revolution

The new inequality: A roadmap of the transgender revolution

Beginning with the federal Racial Discrimination Act in 1975, over the 1980s and 1990s, the federal government and all Australian states and territories passed anti-discrimination laws. These laws contain “vilification” provisions that variously make it illegal to offend, insult, humiliate or hold up to ridicule or to incite hatred or violence towards another person on the basis of a “protected attribute”.

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government

When both major parties agree on bad policy, society suffers

A succession of Australian federal and state governments of both persuasions have blindly signed up en masse to the “climate-change emergency” and other globalist agendas, threatening the survival of our industries, businesses and living standards. Adding to the economic pain from climate-change policies, 2020 was a year of government-mandated shutdowns in response to covid19, costing economies hundreds of billions (if not trillions) of dollars in lost revenue. One estimate puts the cost to Australia at between $170-$450 billion.

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The Australian Parliament

Fresh start for Parliament after suspended animation

There are high hopes that the new year will bring a sense of normality back to the federal parliamentary system, with all sides of politics viewing 2020 to have been a “write-off” for much of everyday policy decisions. A host of important issues facing the country were placed on the backburner while governments both state and federal dealt primarily with the all-consuming covid19 crisis. But at some point the nation’s policy and lawmakers will have to deal with them.

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Allegations of war crimes in Afghanistan

Junior officers shafted in war crimes report

The recently published report by Justice Paul Brereton into allegations of war crimes committed by Australian special forces in Afghanistan ignores the savage nature of this war conducted by a barbaric enemy, and shifts responsibility to low-level servicemen (non-commissioned officers), absolving those higher up from blame for military misconduct of which they were undoubtedly aware.

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Media

U.S. Vote again defies polls and shows up proselytising media

The U.S. presidential election has displayed once again not only deep flaws in the business of polling data gathering but also the distortions in Western democracies perpetrated by an inherently biased media that works against mainstream views rather than attempting to understand them. The same problems are occurring in Australian politics too, though to a lesser extent. That is likely due to the fact that in the United States voting is not compulsory. But the growing power of social media is increasing the trend even here.

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QLD election

Qld Labor plays it safe and wins as city and regions divide

The polling predictions had largely foretold the outcome of the Queensland election: a slight shift towards Labor, who have claimed victory on election night for a four-year fixed term, retaining Government with a few more seats added to their previously slim majority. Opposition leader Deb Frecklington conceded defeat on election night and expressed her desire to continue in her role, only to backflip on Monday saying she will call a party room meeting to elect a new leader.

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Kevin Rudd

Kevin Rudd media inquiry petition – all about Kevin

Kevin Rudd has launched a petition to initiate a royal commission into News Limited in a quixotic and cynical bid to curtail the news organisation’s influence in Australian politics. Quixotic because neither the current Coalition Government nor the Labor Opposition is likely to take any notice of the call no matter how many signatures the former Labor leader manages to get to sign his petition. And cynical because Rudd knows this but also knows that he will garner a lot of publicity and support from non-News media groups (including the ABC) that will help him to rebuild his tattered reputation…

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Reopening Australia

A Public-Health plan for reopening Australia

by Patrick J. Byrne What covid19 public-health infrastructure is needed to ensure a safe pathway towards, reopening Australia particularly to avoid what Victorians have experienced? Lockdowns are a last-resort pandemic control measure, when a health department and government are caught unprepared with inadequate personal protection equipment (PPE), hospital equipment and training, inadequate face masks, sanitisation,…

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Victorian Government Covid19

Victorian Government to be sued over hotel quarantine debacle

Following the revelations of mismanagement of returning travellers at the Victorian hotel quarantine inquiry, people who lost their jobs during the statewide lockdown are taking legal action against the Victorian Government. Also, small businesses have alleged that senior ministers and bureaucrats were negligent, and breached occupational health and safety legislation. At the Victorian Inquiry into Hotel Quarantine, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews scapegoated his Victorian Government Health Minister, Jenny Mikakos, who resigned as a consequence. Additionally, the owners of the Epping Gardens nursing home, where many staff and residents contracted covid19, are being sued for damages. Tony Carbone, the principal partner…

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Victoria lockdown omnibus bill

Ominous expansion of emergency powers

by Terri M, Kelleher Amendments proposed to the Victorian Public Health and Wellbeing Act (PHWA) to further expand covid19 emergency powers have caused a public outcry. The Omnibus (Emergency Measures) and Other Acts Amendment Bill 2020 (the Bill) would amend the PHWA to allow the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to appoint any person he/she “considers appropriate … based on the person’s skills, attributes, experience or otherwise …” as an “authorised officer” with the intrusive powers that bestows on that person. “Authorised officers” do not have to be police, who at least surely have training…

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Andrews throws Mikakos under bus

Premier Andrews throws Minister Mikakos under a bus at inquiry

by Peter Westmore Giving evidence on September 25 before the Victorian Government-appointed inquiry into the state’s hotel quarantine debacle, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews declared that he knew nothing about who authorised the use of private security guards at quarantine hotels, and said that the Health Minister, Jenny Mikakos, was responsible. Private security guards were responsible…

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AFTER 2019 ELECTION MISSPEND, IS GETUP A SPENT FORCE?

by Chris McCormack GetUp’s foreign funding has seemingly diminished A $3.5 million 2019 election spend gleaned just one seat 3 Investigations into GetUp’s independence continue Despite $12.8 million in donations in 2018-19, partly foreign funded, and a $3.5 million election spend, activist group GetUp spectacularly failed to unseat the government in the 2019 federal election. GetUp targeted 30 coalition-held electorates across the country with particular focus on a “hit list” of nine coalition seats. Only Tony Abbott lost his seat of Warringah. GetUp apparently manned 935 polling booths, had 15 million ads seen, knocked on 36,315 doors, made 712,000 phone…

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US Election Trump vs Biden

Trump vs. Biden: What is at stake in the U.S. Presidential Election?

by Patrick J. Byrne and Peter Westmore In just over a month, Americans will go to the polls to elect the country’s president for the years 2021-24, in an election where the dividing line between the incumbent Republican, Donald Trump (pictured), and his Democrat challenger, Joe Biden, is extraordinarily wide. Trump vs. Biden shows us that this may be the most important presidential election in a generation. The differences between the populist President and his challenger reflect the deep cleavages in American society. These are seen in the divisions between social conservatism and left-wing radicalism; between the sentiments of “middle…

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Questions for ‘Emergency’ Dan and his pals

by Robin Speed Has the Victorian Charter of Human Rights been found wanting in the covid19 crisis? The Charter was claimed (rightfully) as a landmark in Australia’s constitutional and political history. And the Victorian Labor Party, which nurtured the Charter through Parliament, had every reason to be proud of it. Then Attorney General, Rob Hulls, rightly said at the time: “This is a significant day in the history of the Victorian Parliament and, in fact, in the history of Victoria itself. We have a proud heritage of reform that puts the fair go front and centre and, in this tradition,…

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PLAYING THE PRO-LIFE LONG GAME – WITH ED MARTIN

by Chris McCormack Seventeen Australian pro-life groups represented at Life Dinner Guest speaker Ed Martin detailed how 25 U.S. states have “heartbeat laws” Trump is “most pro-life president we’ve ever had” U.S. lawyer and Pro-Life Voices for Trump Coalition member Ed Martin recently outlined the ongoing battle to protect the lives of the unborn in the United States. Mr Martin was guest speaker at the Life Dinner on August 22, held online for the first time, a physical dinner not being possible this year due to covid19 restrictions. The Life Dinner has met annually since 2009. It is a gathering…

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premier andrews gets extension of emergency powers

VICTORIAN LABOR’S NEW EMERGENCY POWERS PASS INTO LAW

The Victorian Upper House voted in the early hours of September 2 to allow an extension of the period for which a state of emergency in Victoria can be declared, and emergency powers exercised. Despite the number of covid19 infections in Victoria declining, Premier Daniel Andrews sought to extend the period from six months maximum to 18 months maximum. Taking into account the six months already served, this would have given him another 12 months extension, up to September 2021. There was widespread opposition from the public, with MPs reporting receiving thousands of emails and phone calls asking them to…

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Morrison's foreign relations bill blocks Premier Andrews Victoria Belt and Road funding

FOREIGN RELATIONS BILL RISKY BUT RIGHT AND IMPERATIVE

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has upped the ante with his proposed Foreign Relations Bill, legislation that is designed to cover deals with any nation but which everyone knows is really about just one. The Bill will permit the Federal Government to scrap any agreement that universities or his fellow national cabinet members have signed with foreign countries, on the grounds of national security. It is expected that the Labor Opposition will support the Bill. This move follows a number of other signals to China that Australia will not simply roll over on every disagreement despite the enormous economic sway China…

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Drug injecting room

DRUG-INJECTING ROOM: A GLORIOUS FAILURE

by Gary Christian When an abjectly failing venture is touted in the media as a glorious success, you can be sure of two things: first, that the project is a baby of the progressive left; and, second, that they see it as an incremental step to some much greater theism-destroying goal. Theism destroying? Well, yes. They see socialist principles as the best path to John Lennon’s imagined utopia of globalism, where countries no longer exist, and atheism, where there is “no religion too”. With a goal like utopia, why let science get in the way? And the theistic aversion to…

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100 Days: Claiming Back New Zealand

Book Review – The 100 Days: Claiming Back NZ

100 DAYS: Claiming Back NZ by Amy Brooke Howling at the Moon Publishing, Kaukapakapa, New Zealand Paperback: 383 pages Price: NZ$29.95 Reviewed by Paul Collits   Readers of News Weekly may be aware of Amy Brooke, Kiwi Happy Warrior. I hope so. Amy has appeared in News Weekly’s page as a poet and as a political commentator. She has a recurring column in The Spectator Australia, in which she delivers invariably common-sense, clear thinking reports on matters political and cultural from across the Ditch. And she has had her work published over many years in Quadrant. Or you might have visited…

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Daniel Andrews Linda Reynolds covid19 debacle

ABC’S BELATED DISCOVERY OF ANDREWS’ QUARANTINE FARCE

by Peter Westmore Months after other media outlets, including News Weekly, documented the Victorian Government’s persistent blame shifting over failures of hotel quarantine that led to the spread of covid19 and costing hundreds of lives, the ABC has discovered that breaches of hotel quarantine caused the Victorian second wave. The ABC’s Four Corners program was aired on August 17, 2020, just as the inquiry into Victoria’s failed hotel quarantine regime got under way. In the Four Corners program, reporters said: “Tonight on Four Corners we examine what went wrong in Victoria and how coronavirus infections spiralled out of control … And we investigate…

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WOKE IDEOLOGY: AN ILLEGITIMATE CHILD OF MARX’S DOTAGE

by Kevin Donnelly There’s no doubt politically correct Woke ideology dominates Western societies and determines government policy, how individuals interact both privately and at work, and what happens in our schools and universities. Evidence includes the global Black Lives Matter movement destroying statues and rewriting history, academics denouncing Western civilisation and removing “whiteness” from the curriculum, de-platforming and flaming on social media any who fail to conform, and indoctrinating school students with LGBTIQ+ gender fluidity programs. As argued by Tracey Rowland from the University of Notre Dame, to understand why Wokeness is so pervasive, a good place to start is…

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Labor split Fitzgibbon Albanese

TALK OF LABOR SPLIT PIVOTS ON CLIMATE POLICY

It seems such a highly improbable event amidst the current economic climate and governmental responses to the pandemic, but federal Labor is actively talking about splitting over climate change policy. The issue, which helped cost Labor elections in 2016 and 2019 – and that for all intents and purposes cost them the 2013 election – remains a source of intractable policy division inside Labor ranks. On the one side, climate change is a matter of policy dogma and perhaps (as Kevin Rudd famously declared in 2007 the “greatest moral challenge of our generation”). It is an article of faith among…

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IS GOVERNMENT ADVICE TO HEALTH WORKERS ADEQUATE?

by Chris McCormack Health workers comprise 14 per cent of covid19 cases Forty-five per cent of doctors have limited or no access to N95 masks Conflicting government advice on level of PPE required If one is to believe the official statistics for covid19 infections in Victoria, the burgeoning number of active cases among healthcare workers, 1079 (around 14 per cent) of total active cases at the time of writing, is cause for concern. Could the lack of P2/N95 respirator masks that health workers require be playing a part in the high rate of infection? Surgical masks do not filter out…

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Arthur Calwell Immigration Nation

OUR IMMIGRATION RECORD, ACCORDING TO THE LEFT

Immigration Nation is a documentary series by writer/director Alec Morgan, made by Film Australia in conjunction with the ABC, that purports to be a history of Australia’s immigration policy. It is used as a resource to educate university students and new migrants about immigration to Australia. It is fatally flawed. To say that it is misleading is an understatement. The first thing to be clear about is the oft-repeated refrain of the evils of the “White Australia Policy”. Let’s be clear about this. There is not a single piece of legislation or regulation entitled the “White Australia Policy”. It does…

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JUDICIAL ACTIVISM AND PILL TESTING

by Gary Christian In late 2019, the findings of NSW Deputy Coroner Harriet Grahame’s inquiry into six drug-related deaths at music festivals were released. That the findings contradict all science on party drug deaths is beyond dispute. But her call in paragraphs 544 and 545 for ending all prohibitions against the use of ecstasy betrays the presence of a radical agenda. Any such call lies well outside a coroner’s remit, whose role is rather to determine a cause of death, not to pretend that it provides a privileged entrée to the political realm of legislating social values. Most importantly, Grahame’s…

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Sir John Kerr Dismissal Constitution

NOTHING IN OUR CONSTITUTION WOULD PREVENT A DISMISSAL TODAY

by Colin Teese Now that the tumult and the shouting has died down, it is time to look behind the mere pages of the “Palace Papers”, and to examine in detail some of the less considered aspects of what happened on Armistice Day 1975. But first, let’s sweep aside some of the headline stuff. Did the Queen know about what was going on? Of course she did. No release of documents was necessary for us to know this. The fact that the Palace opposed the release of the documents settles that question. What is more, after the Dismissal, the Queen…

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Daniel Andrews covid19 bungles

MORE EXCUSES FROM PREMIER OVER COVID19 SECOND WAVE

by Peter Westmore As the Victorian count of covid19 cases has risen into triple figures – while all other states and territories had either eliminated or at least controlled outbreaks – Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has continued to blame everyone other than himself for the crisis. First it was people failing to follow the rules of social distancing, then the spread was blamed on families. Then on people gathering at pubs and clubs after he relaxed restrictions on social gatherings. Then on part-time workers in aged-care facilities shifting between jobs. And then on sick people delaying testing, or not staying…

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Queensland Election: Life issues still swing votes

Former Queensland deputy premier Jackie Trad – relegated to the backbench due to multiple corruption probes – indicated last week that euthanasia or assisted suicide will be a polling issue in the October 31 state election, telling The Australian: “Given how far we have come under Annastacia’s leadership on this issue, given that it is Labor Party policy, I think you can be confident Labor will … keep this process moving forward.” This will certainly be a hotly contested 2020 election. Life issues will be at the forefront of voters’ minds, particularly in light of the extraordinary measures taken to…

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ALP scraped through in Eden-Monaro; but what a dismal result

For pundits who had hoped that the Eden-Monaro by-election would provide some clear markers on the current mood of the Australian electorate, the confusing result will be disappointing. Labor went backwards but won. The Liberals moved forward but lost. The result, in fact, was a political stalemate. Though Labor narrowly retained the seat vacated by former member Mike Kelly, the takeaway analysis is far murkier, suggesting a voting public that remains cautious but conflicted about the way forward for the nation despite the last decade of political gridlock. Labor produced another historically dismal result, but managed to win on preferences…

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Daniel Andrews, the buck stops with you: Resign

by Peter Westmore The second wave of covid19 infections in Victoria, alone among the states of Australia, is a direct consequence of the Victorian Government’s failure to administer hotel quarantine properly, which allowed the disease to spread into the community and spiral out of control. This failure led directly to the number of cases in Victoria increasing at the highest rate since the pandemic started, before Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews implemented a wide lockdown on high-rise public housing and over 30 Melbourne suburbs. When that failed to stop the second wave, he imposed a six-week lockdown on the five million…

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Vale John Madigan: Blacksmith and senator

by Steve Campbell John Madigan was an unusual mix. To many he was a man seemingly well out of his time: a blacksmith in a space-age world. To others he had a vision and clarity of thought that seemed prophetic: a visionary in a despairing world. From his early teens John had a fair idea about the direction his life would take. He spoke often about when he first was exposed to and entranced by “the blacksmiths, foundrymen and wheelwrights of my childhood”. He was humbled by them and, in his first speech to the Senate, he offered his “deep…

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Cultural vandals attack Australian history

by Peter Westmore The Black Lives Matter protests, which originated in protests against killings of black Americans by white police, has morphed into a general attack on Australia’s history, with historical monuments vandalised and demands that statues of particular historical figures, including Captain James Cook – who discovered Australia – be torn down. It has also extended to demands that Australian comedy productions by Chris Lilley and Mark Mitchell be censored. As usual, Australia mirrors what has happened in other parts of the world. In the United States, political activists of the left have demanded that the celebrated American Civil…

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Is Andrews’ Victorian ALP bloodletting a danger to Albanese?

by Peter Westmore As Victoria laboured under the weight of a second wave of covid19 infections, the branch-stacking scandal within the ALP was referred to the National Executive of the ALP, which has appointed two senior ALP members to run the Victorian branch for three years, pending a restructure. The branch-stacking was allegedly done by a leader of the right-wing faction in the Victorian ALP, which has been bedevilled by factional stacking of branches based on ethnic communities for decades. Historically, the left was heavily involved in the Greek and Italian communities, but the latest allegations involve members of the…

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ASIO chips away at Chinese Communist Party iceberg

The extent and boldness of the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to infiltrate and influence Australia’s political system is becoming more and more evident with a recent ASIO raid on a New South Wales MLC. According to reports, ASIO believes Chinese Communist Party agents were attempting to infiltrate the NSW Parliament through the office of a Labor backbencher, whose home and office were both raided in the first test of new national security and espionage laws. It is far from the first time that Australian politicians have been subject to efforts at infiltration by the Chinese Communist Party, but the raids…

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Daniel Andrews’ implausible claims over minister’s sacking

Following what the Melbourne Age and Channel Nine described as a “year-long investigation”, the Sixty Minutes program on June 14 aired sensational allegations that a Victorian ALP factional leader and Cabinet Minister, Adem Somyurek, had been engaged in widespread branch stacking. Somyurek is a member of Victoria’s Upper House, and has been responsible for recruiting ethnic Australians into the Victorian ALP, to swell the numbers of the right-wing faction. The Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, is leader of the socialist-left faction. Branch-stacking allegations have been a characteristic of the ALP for as long as anyone can remember, and have also occurred…

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Black Lives Matter protests in perspective

by Peter Westmore The appalling death of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police, captured on smartphone camera then circulated on television and social media throughout the world, triggered a tidal wave of protests throughout the United States, which then extended to other parts of the world, including Britain, France, Belgium and Australia. Charges of murder and aiding and abetting have been laid against the police involved. In the U.S., however, the protests have morphed from police brutality to symbols of America’s history of racism, particularly in the Confederacy, then into an attack on President Donald Trump, undoubtedly aggravated by Trump’s offensive…

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Scott Morrison has shown leadership in covid19 crisis

by Peter Westmore The sudden emergence of a new coronavirus (covid19) from Wuhan, China, at the start of this year marked the commencement of the first pandemic most of us have seen in our lifetimes, and showed how fragile are the systems that have provided rising standards of living throughout the world for the past 70 years. Not since the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic, which took 50 million lives around the globe, has the health of humankind been so threatened by a single disease. The response of countries around the world varied radically, with many developed Western nations fatally underestimating…

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Dan and Xi get Belt-and-Road cosy as the rest of us get alarmed

As tensions between China and Australia appear to escalate, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is holding tight to his special deal with China to join in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), but at what cost to Australia’s national interests? The BRI is the Chinese Government’s signature foreign and economic policy – a $1.5 trillion mega project, first announced in 2013, that plans to build land and maritime trade routes around the globe, investing in infrastructure projects for pipelines, ports, railways and more in dozens of countries. It has been reported that China has already signed 170 memoranda of understanding with…

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Infrastructure, yes; but, Prime Minister, we need manufacturing lifted to 15% of GDP by 2035

by Patrick J. Byrne Morrison should announce plan for expanding manufacturing expanding to 15% of GDP by 2035: Creating around 1-2 million full-time, well paid jobs. With $1 trillion invested by government, new development bank, commercial banks and equity. Securing Australia’s economic and strategic future. Scott Morrison has announced the fast-tracking of around $72 billion in major infrastructure projects, but what he needs to announce is a plan to massively lift Australia’s manufacturing sector to 15 per cent of the economy by 2035.

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What’s up with conservatism?

by Bradley McManus The aims of the conservative movement are going unfulfilled. But, why? It certainly isn’t due to Labor governments. Recent political history shows that the Liberal/National Coalition has won considerable victories: from the election of John Howard’s government to that of Scott Morrison. Howard dominated the late 1990s and early 2000s. The historic election of Tony Abbott was something many politicians and journalists thought impossible. Not only did Abbott become prime minister, he brought down Kevin Rudd, a man many expected to exceed Howard’s record of service. Abbott returned the Coalition to government in 2013 – an extraordinary…

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Royal Commission wilfully ignored Pell evidence

by Peter Westmore A careful examination of the “findings” of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which accused Cardinal George Pell of covering up sexual abuse when he was a priest in Ballarat, and when an Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne, shows that the Royal Commission wilfully ignored the overwhelming weight of evidence that contradicted its opinions. Further, it failed in its duty to inform Cardinal Pell that it intended to make adverse findings against him, and failed to give him an opportunity to respond to them, contrary to long-established practice and the principle of procedural fairness,…

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Labor in box seat for Eden-Monaro by-election

By conventional political wisdom and precedent, Labor should be a shoo-in to win the Eden-Monaro by-election on July 4. It will definitely be an electorate mood test, and also happens to be Anthony Albanese’s first as leader of the party. Eden-Monaro is a classic bellwether marginal seat, regularly going with the government of the day at general elections, always difficult to win, and hard to hold. The electorate is large (almost 42,000 square kilometres) and very diverse, ranging from the Snowy Mountains to South Coast NSW and is made up of many small towns each with its own issues often…

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Covid19: Knowns, unknowns and unknown unknowns

by Patrick J. Byrne PART ONE OF TWO PARTS (Read the second part here) Covid19 (or SARS-CoV-2) is a new coronavirus related to the common cold that emerged from China in December 2019. It is a separate species of virus from the annual flu virus, or influenza. The Lancet (March 30, 2020) reported an overall infection fatality rate of between approximately 0.4 and 1.4 and a case fatality rate of between 1 and 3 per cent, both with strong age gradients (the older a person, the more vulnerable they are to the disease). This is much higher than the mortality…

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ABS makes employment figures bend over backwards

by Marcus L’Estrange April’s Australian Bureau of Statistics “Labour Force” unemployment figures of 6.2 per cent must be taken with a massive grain of salt. They are merely a political definition of unemployment, not an actuarial one. How the ABS can claim an unemployment number of 823,000 for April when you have 1.6 million on the dole (not including those unemployed who cannot get the dole due to their partner working and those on the JobKeeper allowance – six million) is beyond me. Similarly, the ABS claims an increase of 118,000 unemployed for April as 600,000 jobs were lost. Terry…

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Political promises on the Never Never never never work well for the nation

NW Contributor Political promises in contemporary politics are characterised not just by their grandiosity but by the fact that they never need to be actually delivered. Hence Federal Labor has joined the international chorus of virtue signalling by solemnly pledging for Australia to produce net zero carbon emissions by 2050. But Labor won’t say how or at what cost to the Australian economy. The year 2050 is approximately 10 federal elections from now, several changes of government – a period of roughly a quarter of the time Australia has been a nation to date. It is literally a promise on…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED: What’s China’s beef with our barley?

China’s aggressive retaliation against Australia for daring to demand an independent inquiry into the source and subsequent handling of the covid19 outbreak is testing the resolve of the Australian Government. Powerful business leaders, the universities, and Australia’s left intelligentsia are urging the Morrison Government to soften its stance or risk inflicting serious damage to the Australian economy. China has already banned imports from four of our abattoirs, one of which is actually Chinese owned, hiked tariffs on our barley over spurious trade transgressions, and flagged further damage to our wine, tourism and university sectors. Crucially Australia is not alone; hypersensitive…

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Will survival instincts drive new industry policies?

by Patrick J. Byrne A perfect economic storm on a scale not seen since the 1930s has been created by the covid19 economic crisis, China asserting its power across the region and problems resulting from four decades of deep globalisation. The political lesson of the 1930s is that, when unemployment numbers mount, federal and state governments that fail promptly to deliver policies to grow new industries face certain electoral defeat. Australians now want real effective policies, not political talk. They want new industries as the country comes out of the crisis, partly because global supply chains are likely to be…

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Why success has eluded our automotive industry

by Craig Milne PODCAST Chris McCormack talks to executive director of the Australian Productivity Council, Craig Milne about the history of automotive manufacturing in Australia; where we went wrong; and what is needed to revive an industry that would yield huge benefits to the economy and advance technological innovation in general. Listen here. THIS IS THE SECOND IN A SERIES BY CRAIG MILNE ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF INDUSTRY POLICIES FOR THE POST-COVID19 AUSTRALIAN ECONOMY. YOU CAN READ PARTS ONE AND THREE HERE AND HERE. Import regulation was needed to facilitate the growth of Australian manufacturing after Federation because Australia was,…

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The willy-nilly manufacture of rights

by Lucy Sullivan It was with a feeling of relief that I read in Terri Kelleher’s article (News Weekly, August 10, 2019) that the United States, of all the apparently unlikely places, is making a move to control the untrammelled manufacture of “rights” of the last few decades in which only to lay claim to some condition has been to have it accepted as a right and put it into law. A system of law that protects the citizen from oppressive restrictions has not been enough; there must further be a proactive enablement of oppressive restrictions on others’ behaviour if…

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Cardinal Pell

Cardinal Pell: The story of a targeted assassination

by Patrick Morgan The pile-on against Cardinal Pell, which began when he was appointed Archbishop of Melbourne in 1996, has now dragged its weary way through a quarter of a century. It first manifested itself as an internal insurrection when some local liberal Catholics began to object to his alleged personal style as bullying and authoritarian, though this was based on scuttlebutt, as no actual examples were advanced. On the contrary he was himself publicly humiliated by fellow Catholics on a number of occasions. They disliked him primarily because he asserted basic Christian positions, a grievous fault these days in…

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The ridiculous attack on reason

I remember once coming across a saying that the dead have as much power to influence us as the living, through what they have written. Yet today educationists ignore so much of what our greatest writers and thinkers had to say, with most ”educational” activity no more than a complicated way of inflicting on children little of lasting value. Plato, however, reminded us: “If a man neglects his education he walks lame for the rest of his life.” Yet the once widely acknowledged fact that teaching each generation how to use their minds well is at least as important as…

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Crucial to get Virgin Australia flying again

by Peter Westmore When Virgin Australia’s board put the company into administration in April, it had the unenviable distinction of being the largest corporate victim of the covid19 pandemic in Australia. The immediate impact will be felt by Virgin’s 10,000 employees, including subsidiary Tigerair, and many could lose their jobs. But the employment impact will extend far wider, to Virgin’s suppliers, to airport retailers, to businesses in regional Australia, and to the tourist centres that Virgin services. It will not be surprising if an additional 50,000 jobs are impacted. Virgin’s difficulties also threaten the bipartisan “Two Airlines Policy” that has…

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Giving back from the top

by Chris McCormack The Federal Member for Herbert, Phillip Thompson OAM, has decided to donate 10 per cent of his monthly income to charity to help those affected by the covid19 crisis. Thompson won the seat of Herbert, which encompasses Townsville, from the ALP in the May 2019 federal election. The Coalition’s win no doubt came in response to the ALP’s anti-coal sentiments and equivocation over approving the Adani coalmine, which has the potential to employ thousands of North Queenslanders. Thompson had a two-party preferred swing to him of 8.38 per cent. Townsville had an official unemployment rate of 7.6…

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News Weekly

Basin inquiry raises more unanswered questions

by Patrick J. Byrne The latest Murray-Darling Basin report has highlighted deep discontent among regional communities over the Basin Plan’s water allocations, the science behind the Plan and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA). The report into the “Impact of lower inflows on state shares under the Murray–Darling Basin Agreement” was conducted by the interim inspector-general of Murray-Darling Basin Water Resources, and former federal police commissioner, Mick Keelty. It is the latest of about 40 reports on the deeply troubled $13 billion Basin Plan, and comes in the middle of another severe drought. The Plan was put in place by then…

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Regret over our rushed marriage to China

Australia’s symbiotic relationship with China has seen tremendous growth over the past few decades, but it also has come at a great price to our economic independence. The fortunes of our universities, our resources sector through to our tourism, agricultural and real estate industries, have been tied to China’s growth and goodwill. It has been an easy ride to hitch onto the coat tails of what has arguably been the greatest and most rapid economic revolution the world has ever seen. At the same time, many of our universities have not only debased their academic independence in their headlong embrace…

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The rise and fall of Australian manufacturing and covid19

by Geoff Crittenden Australia had a long, proud history of manufacturing throughout the 20th century. With the Federation of Australia in 1901, customs barriers were eliminated between the states so they could more easily trade with another. This prompted the first wave of manufacturing expansion, particularly in Victoria and New South Wales. By 1913, manufacturing employment totalled 328,000 workers and accounted for 13 per cent of GDP.   During World War I, the Australian government quickly realised that our economy was too reliant on imports; it was near impossible to source many products in wartime. As a result, Australia started…

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CARDINAL PELL: High Court practically shouts ‘not guilty’

by Terri M. Kelleher On Tuesday April 7, the High Court allowed Cardinal George Pell’s appeal against his convictions on five counts of child sexual abuse. The High Court unanimously, 7–0, ordered the convictions be quashed and judgements of acquittal be entered in their place. Does this mean that Cardinal Pell got off on a legal technicality? By no means. It is a foundation stone of the rule of law in our legal system that a person is innocent until proven guilty. A prosecutor must bring evidence that proves beyond reasonable doubt that the crimes alleged were committed by the…

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CARDINAL PELL: Locating the golden thread

by Greg Smith SC I was privileged to witness with my brother John the two days of legal argument in the High Court in March this year. It was a familiar battleground for me, as I had appeared there 10 times, as either leading counsel or junior counsel, before my resignation from the New South Wales DPP and election as Member for Epping in the NSW Parliament in 2007. The High Court is the final appellate court in the Australian legal system. It is the final interpreter of the Constitution, statute law and common law of Australia and its decisions…

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Pandemic has exposed our overreliance on imports

by Chris McCormack Ninety per cent of our pharmaceuticals are imported Plastics manufacturer closed after power bills rose by $1.2 million a year Affordable energy key to domestic manufacturing One thing covid19 has highlighted is Australia’s overreliance on imported products as essential medical equipment and other product lines of supply dry up. Manufacturing in Australia has fallen from around 29 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 1960 to around 6 per cent today. Successive governments abolished protections for local industries (by removing tariffs), which has decimated home-grown businesses as cheap – and often inferior – imports undercut the…

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There is a war: The battle in and for hearts

by A.B. Stuart “There is a war between the rich and the poor, a war between the man, and the woman,” Leonard Cohen sang in 1974. He continued to croon: “There is a war between the left and right, a war between the black and white, a war between the odd and the even.” I’m not entirely sure what he was on about – perhaps something to do with the unsettledness of the present age or the conflict that modernity had brought – but, regardless, the song has stuck. With its catchy tune, it is effective propaganda – for whatever…

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Use detention centres to help deal with covid19

by Peter Westmore Having put in place a range of emergency measures to deal with the covid19 epidemic, the measured response of the Commonwealth and state governments – meeting as a national cabinet – is showing results, as the increase in the number of confirmed cases has slowed down. If this trend continues, emergency and intensive-care wards in Australia will be able to handle the number of cases that emerge, unlike the situation in many other countries. This is not to say that the crisis is over, far from it. But the restrictions that governments have imposed on tourism, mass…

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Australia needs an economic reset after covid19 crisis

by Patrick J. Byrne As the first responsibility of government is to protect citizens from harm, the Prime Minister’s $130 billion wages package – to help feed families and keep people in their homes and jobs – is an important move in the right direction. However, the covid19 crisis has highlighted Australia’s vulnerability to fragile global supply chains, after four decades of privatisation and deregulation of trade, finance and industries. These policies have left the country heavily dependent on imported manufactures. This vulnerability stems from what economist Dani Rodrik calls “deep globalisation” (or deep global integration), which followed the breakdown…

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Guilt by accusation: The kangaroos are roaming freely through Australia’s legal system

by David Flint While tutoring journalism students in Beijing, a leading Australian editor counselled them not to describe an accused person as “guilty”. A student asked: “But if he was arrested, wouldn’t he be guilty?” The rule of law has long prevailed in Australia as in few other countries. But now, its manifestations, the presumption of innocence and that guilt be proved beyond reasonable doubt, are under attack. The guilt by accusation brigade, led by #MeToo, insists that they be replaced by alien concepts such as “(Always) believe the victim” and “Get the villain”. White heterosexual males, Catholic priests, Jewish rabbis…

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Victoria lifts moratorium on gas exploration

by Peter Westmore The Labor Government in Victoria has announced that it will end a six-year moratorium on onshore gas exploration, in response to rising domestic gas prices. The moratorium was introduced by the last Liberal government, in response to pressure from radical environmentalists who wanted to end the use of fossil fuels in Victoria. As no domestic gas was being produced onshore in Victoria at the time, it probably seemed to be a token gesture. But the closure of the Hazelwood Power Station, which put more pressure on other sources of electricity, including gas, together with declining production of…

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Political divisions polarise across the Ditch

by Amy Brooke The old saying, “a fish rots from the head down”, suggests leadership and hierarchies are often the root cause of much going wrong. It conjures up the observation from Hamlet that “There is something rotten in the state of Denmark”. And there would be few New Zealanders who don’t think that there is something very wrong in relation to so much happening to this country, dominated by our hierarchies. So often now, from the political level downwards, vocal agitators carry far more weight among our political parties than does the will of the majority. However, “We the…

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Time and timing are crucial to Cardinal Pell’s appeal

by Peter Westmore Cardinal George Pell’s appeal to the High Court took place on March 11 and 12. The case was heard by a Full Bench of the High Court, which includes all seven justices currently on the court. Cardinal Pell was not present – he is confined in Barwon Prison, a high-security facility in Victoria. He was appealing against a 2:1 majority verdict of the Victorian Court of Appeal of last August. It has taken over six months for this matter to reach the High Court of Australia. He was not directly appealing against the original jury verdict, but…

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ScoMo’s delicate balancing act in extraordinary times

It is hard to comprehend that a few short months ago, the biggest political conversation in Australia was the media storm about the Prime Minister choosing a family holiday in Hawaii during the bushfires, while the biggest political scandal of early 2020 was a fracas over alleged misspending on sports community facilities in marginal seats at the last election. Now there are no overseas holidays for Australians, and, for that matter, no Australian holidays either: no public sporting events at a local or at a national level. Australians love of live sport, travelling overseas, eating out, going to the pub,…

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The world has changed: Now for the new order

by Patrick J. Byrne By the time this editorial goes to print, Australia may be under lockdown, with the Government running a command economy as it has in other crises, like World War II. Covid19 spells the end of globalisation as we have known it. The promise of what economist Dani Rodrik calls “deep globalisation”, also known as the Washington consensus, was that free (unregulated) flows of money, industries and goods around the world would see a rising tide lift all boats. In reality, it led to the failure of the international financial system in the 2007 global financial crisis.…

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Beyond the Great Divide

by Brian Coman Part Two of two parts (you can read Part One here) IN THIS SECOND PART OF HIS ESSAY, BRIAN COMAN ADVANCES HIS ARGUMENT THAT ANY FUTURE SOCIAL SETTLEMENT MUST BE BASED ON A ‘RETURN TO VIRTUE’. In the first part of this essay, published in the previous issue of News Weekly, I gave notice of my intention to sketch out some possible pathway for the future of believing Christians in an age which has become increasingly hostile towards them. The first and obvious point to reiterate is that we can no longer hope to express freely our…

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Cardinal Pell’s appeal heard in the High Court

by Peter Westmore As News Weekly went to press, the High Court of Australia was hearing Cardinal George Pell’s appeal against his conviction on five charges of sexual abuse of two choirboys at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne, in the 1990s. Cardinal Pell was convicted on the uncorroborated testimony of a single complainant whose testimony was contradicted, at numerous points, by others present at the cathedral at the time of the alleged offences. Technically, his appeal is against the decision of a majority in the Victorian Court of Appeal, which last August upheld Cardinal Pell’s earlier conviction by a County Court…

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‘Black Summer’ bushfire inquiries: What must be done

by Peter Westmore On February 20, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a royal commission into last summer’s disastrous bushfires, with a focus on establishing national coordination in response to natural disasters across all levels of government; improving Australia’s preparedness for such events; and examining the legal framework for the Commonwealth’s involvement in responding to national emergencies. The commissioners have also been asked to recommend ways in which Australia could harmonise aspects of land management, like hazard-reduction burns, wildlife management and land-use planning in all states and territories, through common national standards or rules. Former head of the Australian Defence Force…

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Budget surplus a goner but low interest rates a treasurer’s dream

The Morrison Government will face its toughest test yet over the coming months in working at ways to avoid a sharp downturn in the Australian economy and keep employment up until the covid19 danger passes. But, depending on how bad the downturn is, the real opportunity may be using the economic turbulence to borrow massively to invest in big long-term projects, not just short-term stimulus. The recent turmoil in the markets is causing serious and prolonged concern for the Government, Treasury and the Reserve Bank, as investors, from the sophisticated high-net-worth individuals to the thrifty retirees, try to determine the…

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What should the champions of democracy care about?

by Colin Teese In the immediate post-Christmas period, my favourite vicar prepared and delivered a brilliant sermon entitled, “What should Christians care about?” It began with a story. A fellow priest in the same diocese had been called by the press and asked what he thought about the fact that supermarkets were selling hot cross buns on Boxing Day. His friend answered that he didn’t care about the timing of hot cross bun sales in supermarkets. Why? Because he asked himself what Jesus might have thought. He could find no evidence that Christ cared about such things. Christ, he believed,…

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NCC CONFERENCE 2020: Strengthening family, freedom, and sovereignty in a hostile world

It’s been said that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. How true in a world where it seems history, traditions, goodness and freedoms are being stepped on every day. As part of this vigilance, it’s our duty to provide the information, insight and stories to Australians that the mainstream media doesn’t. At the National Civic Council’s 2020 Conference, this included insight on the issues foremost in today’s cultural, social and political environments – and a plan to continue our “march through the institutions”, to ensure a stronger Australia for future generations. A sample of the vast array of topics…

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Business joins Big Brother in climate change chorus

by Chris McCormack Business told to agree to climate rules or face global regulators Insurers claim climate change means premiums will have to rise BCA recommends $660 billion be spent on climate change Business groups, financial regulators and millionaire bankers are turning the screws to force governments and companies to act on climate change “or go broke”. Mark Carney, $52 million man and governor of the Bank of England, in an interview with The Guardian, said: “Companies that don’t adapt [to climate change] will go bankrupt without question … Industries, sectors and firms that do very well during [the transition…

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AUSTRALIAN HISTORY What if the French had settled Australia?

Australia and Canada have many things in common, but perhaps not as many as might have been. If things had been different, France might well have claimed Australia, or part of Australia. For some time, France seemed likely to claim Western Australia, for example. Britain claimed WA when it created a settlement in Albany in 1826, before it established the Swan River Colony in 1829. The colony, under the command of founding governor Captain James Stirling RN, did not prosper for many years. Pamela Statham-Drew, in her biography, James Stirling (UWA Press, 2005), makes it clear that Admiral Stirling, as…

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MANUFACTURING Renewables push puts aluminium smelters at risk

High prices of electricity coupled with unreliability of supply have cast doubt on the future of two of Australia’s largest aluminium smelters, Portland and Tomago (Newcastle), which convert alumina into the high-value metal aluminium. Aluminium smelters require vast quantities of electricity to reduce aluminium oxide to molten aluminium metal by electrolysis. Alcoa’s Portland smelter was opened in 1986 as a showcase of downstream processing of minerals in Australia. To guarantee both price and continuity of supply, the then Victorian government established the Loy Yang A power station in the Latrobe Valley. When the Victorian power industry was privatised in the…

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COVER STORY Coronavirus: China must answer hard questions

The fact that China’s top virus research institute is located in Wuhan, the same city in which the coronavirus outbreak first appeared, raises questions which require answers. Only a full disclosure of what has been going on at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where research has been carried out into the spread of the coronavirus from animals to humans, will satisfactorily resolve these concerns. Since the identification of the new virus in China last December, at least 43,000 people have become infected, and over 1,000 have died. After Chinese authorities stated that a link had been found between infected people…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Nationals leave the home paddock unattended

What was traditionally the most stable party in federal politics has become the most volatile and unpredictable, with potentially dire consequences for regional Australia. The Nationals, which are meant to be celebrating their centenary year in Australian politics, are going through a tumultuous period that shows every sign of getting worse, not better. Over recent weeks, the junior Coalition partner has lost two cabinet ministers in Senators Bridget McKenzie and Matt Canavan, has lost an MP, Llew O’Brien, who defected to the LNP, and has experienced a failed leadership challenge. Nats should realise that weeds will soon take root in…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Bushfires: Never let a good crisis go to waste

Media reports on the recent bushfires in Victoria and New South Wales that at times have immersed Melbourne and Sydney in smoke, have been widely described as the “worst on record”. The Guardian headlined: “Yes, Australia has always had bushfires: but 2019 is like nothing we’ve seen before.” 7News claimed: “Australians could become ‘climate refugees’ due to rising global temperatures.” And ABC News headlined a firefighter’s statement: “The Blue Mountains bushfires are the worst conditions I’ve ever faced.” Do any of these statements account for the historic reality? Much of the information about the history of bushfires in Australia is…

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COVER STORY Sensible environment policies can counter extremists

While the bushfires have allowed the green-left media to regroup on climate change after the issue fell flat at the federal election, if the Morrison Government articulates a coherent environmental policy dealing with pollution and water needs, it can defang the environmental extremists. Meanwhile, the Earth, rather than heading for catastrophe, just keeps getting greener. Climate change failed to be the deciding 2019 federal election issue, with 80 seats swinging against Labor and only 33 to Labor in outer metro, regional and rural areas. Even in the “greener” inner-metropolitan seats, as many seats swung against Labor (22) as to Labor…

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RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION Bill Mark II a shade better but still faulty

Attorney-General Christian Porter has released a second exposure draft Religious Discrimination Bill (RDB2). Following feedback from the consultation on the first exposure draft Bill, the RDB2 makes some welcome amendments. For example it allows “religious bodies” to preference people of their religion and provides that religious bodies do not discriminate when they engage in conduct to avoid injury to the religious susceptibilities of adherents of their religion. However, there are still limitations on the protections the Bill provides against religious discrimination. The freedom to make statements of faith is still unduly restricted. It is not only statements of belief that…

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Cardinal Pell and the Appeal Court judges

One hope remains for George Cardinal Pell: that the High Court will overturn his guilty verdict. The case should be heard fairly early this year. Much has been written about the two-to-one decision against George Cardinal Pell in his appeal to the Supreme Court of Victoria and the remarkable contrast between the reasoning of the two judges who ruled against him and that of the judge who ruled in his favour. Cardinal George Pell The dissenting judge, Mark Weinberg, stated: “An unusual feature of the case was that it depended entirely upon the complainant being accepted, beyond reasonable doubt, as…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED After the fires, we still need an economy and to power it

Undoubtedly the fires of the summer of 2020 have altered the political conversation in Australia about climate change, but to what extent and what will be the actual response? If media groupthink is any guide, the Morrison Government has not just been blistered but needs to be contrite for years of negligence that allegedly has contributed to the ferocity and scale of the disaster. But it is also true that the Coalition won the federal election on the back of an energy policy that advocated for the continued export of coal. The decisive Queensland vote – in support of jobs…

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Wildfires: Lessons from the past not yet learnt

Not surprisingly, most of the media have blamed the terrible wildfires that have caused massive damage in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales on the Morrison Government’s inaction on climate change. A simple question tells us whether this claim is true: if the Morrison Government had pursued the totality of the Greens’ agenda – closing down all coal-fired power plants, banning coal exports, and ending the use of all fossil fuels, which include petrol, diesel and aviation fuel – would it have stopped the bushfires? The answer to that question clearly is “No”. In fact, without fossil-fuel powered cars,…

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THE QUEEN V PELL: A blight on the whole of the criminal justice system

This article first appeared in the September edition of Annals Australasia   I have never seen a clearer illustration of prejudgement than this case. An avalanche of adverse publicity, a Royal Commission, even a book judging his guilt led up to his day in court. I say this as a former lawyer, not from any religious perspective. I am not a Roman Catholic and I don’t write this from any religious perspective but rather these days as a retired barrister very troubled by the charging and conviction of George Pell. I spent nearly thirty years of my working life at…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Labor must own up to why it took the thrashing it got

When the Australian Labor Party was trounced for a second time at the 1977 election following the humiliation and shock of the post-Dismissal election of 1975, the party went away for one of the most important resets in its history. Then, the Labor Party decided to take a genuine hard look at all its policies, including and especially, its economic policies. There were a series of papers written by Labor shadow ministers and other leading lights in the party that constituted a genuine effort to prepare for being a good government after the chaos of the Whitlam years. It was…

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VICTORIAN POLITICS Andrews hacks away at another way of life and source of jobs

  Victorian Government bans native timber logging after 2030 Queensland Premier says “basically the hardwood plantation scheme has failed” 21,000 jobs at risk as latest ideologically driven policy from both major parties bites Traditionally, one of the ALP’s biggest cheer squads, the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU) has labelled the Andrews’ Victorian Government’s decision to end native timber harvesting as a “stupid, heartless decision”. The Victorian ALP has announced an immediate halt to logging in 96,000 hectares of native forest, with “a gradual phaseout of all logging in native forests by 2030, … reducing the amount of…

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EDITORIAL Bushfires: One step forwards, one step backwards

Media portrayal of the NSW and Queensland bushfires as “catastrophic” erroneously implies that they are unprecedented, whereas droughts make bushfires inevi­table in Australia’s highly flammable eucalypt forests. Certainly, threats to life and property have increased as more people build a “house among the gum trees”, but that’s more the reason to manage fuel loads around settlements and towns. Contrary to claims by the Greens and environment ideologues that this season’s fires are the result of human-caused climate change, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) warned in September that a severe drought was likely, due to a 40-degree warming of the atmosphere…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED ALP’s self-examination will entice no one back

At the last federal election, the Australian Labor Party took to the people the most radical policy platform since Gough Whitlam’s in 1972 amid the near-certainty of its frontbenchers that they would be in government to implement those policies. Left: Labor’s policy model; right; Schematic of how to fix and explain it. Like Jeremy Corbyn’s neo-Marxist Labour in the United Kingdom and the zany Democrats in the United States, who try to outdo each other in taking down the wealthy, Labor went for bold change, but was rejected by the people. And amid the ashes of that shattered dream, the…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Cardinal Pell’s appeal to go to High Court

The High Court of Australia has granted leave for Cardinal George Pell to appeal against his conviction on sex-abuse charges. The controversy over the conviction of Cardinal George Pell has not gone away, despite the time that has elapsed since his conviction in December 2018, and sentencing last March. Cardinal Pell has not been moved to an ordinary prison, as would normally be expected, but remains in solitary confinement in the Melbourne Assessment Prison. He is fighting to clear his name by appealing against his conviction to the High Court, which will hear his case early next year. On November…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Thoroughbreds are literally racing for their lives

Horse racing does not usually make it into the pages of News Weekly, though no doubt the “sport” has its followers among the journal’s readership. But what is happening in the sport now reaches deep into matters that touch both economics and social attitudes. The industry is said to be a big part of the economy and a significant employer of what has become highly specialised labour. This writer starts with a confession. He has been a follower of horse racing. Not, it should be noted, as a bettor, but as a lover of the spectacle, and the horses. I…

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EDITORIAL A second chance to secure Australia’s future

Australia missed the opportunity to invest its huge export earnings from the resources boom in new industries and products. However, record low interest rates have given us a second chance. The problems There is a well-known problem in economics. When a country has a boom in export commodities (like iron ore, gas and coal), the nation’s currency appreciates in value, making domestic manufacturing and rural industries less competitive. In worst-case scenarios, sustained commodity export booms lead to de-industrialisation as manufacturing companies either close down or move offshore. After the 1960s boom in North Sea gas bought windfall returns to the…

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POLITICAL COMMENTARY Tony Abbott continues faithful to the broad Liberal church

Astonishingly, after what the Liberal Party has done to him – his humiliating defenestration in 2015 followed by his non-selection for even the most junior ministry by two subsequent Liberal prime ministers – Tony Abbott is still cheering them on. Abbott, writing in The Australian on October 19 (“Two Halves of Solidarity”), attempts to make the case that the Liberal Party needs both its liberal and conservative wings to be working in harmony in order to prosper electorally, and that this can easily be achieved. Like his political mentor, the ultimate pragmatist with conservative trappings, J.W. Howard, Abbott seems now,…

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EDITORIAL Time for Australia to rethink the neo-liberal experiment

The ongoing migration boost to Australia’s population has masked troubling social indicators – a marked decline in marriage, family formation and fertility. There was an 18 per cent decline in women getting married in their prime child-bearing years (20-34) in the 10 years to 2016; the median age of women marrying increased from around 22 in the 1980s to 30.1 years in 2017; and the birth rate has continued its long decline to a low of 1.74 children per woman in 2017. In part, the decline in marriage follows the decline in religion. In 1902, 96.5 per cent of weddings…

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OPINION When Maggie (Sanger) met Mickie (Mann)

U.S. 2020 presidential hopeful, the ageing socialist Bernie Sanders, has belled the cat. Sanders has suggested that, to save the planet, America must fund abortion in poor countries. As The Christian Post reported: “Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders railed against the Trump Administration for ending U.S. funding of abortion businesses overseas and said one of the benefits of abortion is that it reduces the population.” It happened at a recent Democrat townhall on climate change. “A woman asks Bernie Sanders how he would help curb overpopulation of the Earth. Sanders replies – I kid you not – that we need increased…

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GENDER POLITICS Doctors call for inquiry into childhood gender dysphoria

Dr John Whitehall, professor of pediatrics and child health at the University of Western Sydney, has been a lonely medical voice in the public square on the question of gender confusion in children. Professor Whitehall wrote to the federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt, in early September calling for a formal parliamentary inquiry into “the rapid rise of childhood gender dysphoria in Australia and the lack of scientific basis for current medical treatment”. A group of six doctors from five states set up a website on September 22, GenderInquiry.com, to allow Australian doctors to sign a joint letter of support for…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Inquiry into the Family Law Act: that misnamed source of misery

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on September 17, 2019, that the “awful human mess” of the family law system will be the subject of a new inquiry. This new review realises an election promise by crossbench Senator Pauline Hanson. The inquiry will be headed by Kevin Andrews. Pauline Hanson will be the deputy chair. Labor and the Greens have initially opposed the inquiry. Another inquiry There have been many inquiries into the Family Law Act 1975 divorce law. A 2017 parliamentary inquiry, “A better family law system to support and protect those affected by family violence”, made 33 recommendations. In…

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VICTORIAN AFFAIRS Tolerance Bill aims to ‘eliminate’ vilification

Remember the Catch the Fire Ministries case? Two pastors, Danny Nalliah and Daniel Scott, were taken to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal (VCAT) on a complaint of racial vilification under the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act (the Act) by the Islamic Council of Victoria for comments about Islam. The parties settled out of court so the test for “conduct that incites hatred against, serious contempt for, or revulsion or severe ridicule of” another person was not decided. Now Fiona Patten, Reason Party leader in Victoria’s Legislative Council, has introduced a bill to amend the Act that would change…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED NSW Labor caught in Panda’s paws doing ‘whatever it takes’

The New South Wales right faction of the Labor Party was once considered the ultimate political machine in Australian politics – both feared and admired by allies and enemies alike. The word “Sussex Street” itself was synonymous with political ruthlessness, and the numbers’ men that ran it (for men they mostly were) possessed a unique form of political pragmatism with a track record of success in producing and deposing prime ministers and cabinet ministers. The NSW right party machine bred a special kind of political talent – or so the legend went. Not so today. The once mighty political machine…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Why Cardinal Pell is appealing to the High Court

Just as Cardinal George Pell’s conviction on five counts of sexual assault shocked those present in court when the jury verdict was handed down in December last year, there was also shock when Victoria’s highest court, the Court of Appeal, confirmed the jury verdict by a 2:1 margin on August 21. David Marr, a journalist and outspoken critic of Cardinal Pell, who attended some days of the trial in the County Court and celebrated his conviction, said after the Court of Appeal hearing in July that he expected Cardinal Pell to be acquitted, and described the Crown barrister’s performance as…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Confucius Institutes: China’s art of soft power

        “To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.”   Sun Tzu, Art of War           Did you know that there are 14 Confucius Institutes throughout Australia, plus 67 Confucius Classrooms in primary and high schools? Thirteen institutes are in universities, and one is in the New South Wales Department of Education. Australia has the third-highest number of Confucius Institutes and Classrooms in the world, after the United States and Great Britain.   I had no idea they existed until the recent protest at the University of Queensland on July…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Why an indigenous referendum is misconceived

The 2019 Garma Festival of Traditional Culture, which took place in early August, became the focus of new attempts to give indigenous Australians a special place in the Australian Constitution. Note of sanity: Ken Wyatt It reaffirmed the Uluru Declaration of 2017, which called for “the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution”, and specifically, a “Makarrata Commission” to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and indigenous Australians. The precise form of this was not further defined but, if implemented, would establish a race-based division within the Commonwealth Constitution that is fundamentally at odds with the…

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EDITORIAL When will Morrison stamp his authority on his mandate?

Scott Morrison’s win forced the Queensland Government to take the brakes off coalmining developments in the Galilee Basin and forced federal Labor to allow Parliament to pass his tax cuts. This win makes his planned industrial relations reforms more likely to pass. Morrison has also been adept at rallying general party support with his attacks on the campaign run by GetUp to unseat conservative Coalition MPs at the election. However, the Government is yet to present effective and decisive policies on major issues of concern to the electorate. The election flattened Labor’s radical environmental policies, which would have involved a…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS High power prices lead to more deaths of elderly

Soaring energy prices are leading to an increased number of hospital admissions of elderly Australians, with some dying of hypothermia, according to recent studies by NSW Health and the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne. Information released by NSW Health in May revealed that more than 130 people were admitted to NSW emergency departments last winter with cold-related problems, including hypothermia. This is a 34 per cent rise in 10 years. The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) says that wholesale power prices have soared by more than 150 per cent in the last four years but, for many people, prices have gone…

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Fixing Australia: Can we trust the Morrison Government?

Deeply disaffected voters have indicated that unless there are new economic policies to restore the suffering middle class, Scott Morrison’s victory is no assurance that his Government will hold office after the next federal election.   Morrison’s success may have been unexpected, but it was not a landslide. The Coalition has only a wafer-thin majority (77 out of 151 seats), and the protest vote was huge. Over 25 per cent of voters did not vote for either Liberal or Labor in the House of Representatives, and 32 per cent voted against both major parties in the Senate.   The Organisation…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Can Labor learn a lesson or is it unredeemable?

Federal Labor, post the 2019 election result, has had to deal with a policy malaise the likes of which it has not experienced since the Mark Latham experiment in 2004. Recall that Latham went to that election with a bold agenda, the centrepiece of which was Julia Gillard’s Medicare Gold for the nation’s elderly. On the surface, it was a popular policy, described by Latham at the time as the “greatest extension in federal responsibility for hospital care in this country since the introduction of Medibank 30 years ago”. But Latham’s bold election bid fell short, prompting Labor to return…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS High power prices lead to more deaths of elderly

Soaring energy prices are leading to an increased number of hospital admissions of elderly Australians, with some dying of hypothermia, according to recent studies by NSW Health and the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne. Information released by NSW Health in May revealed that more than 130 people were admitted to NSW emergency departments last winter with cold-related problems, including hypothermia. This is a 34 per cent rise in 10 years. The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) says that wholesale power prices have soared by more than 150 per cent in the last four years but, for many people, prices have gone…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS A Q&A to clarify issues in Cardinal Pell’s appeal

Is Cardinal George Pell guilty of the sexual attacks with which he was charged? Having sat down before the Court of Criminal Appeal, listened to the appeal and read the evidence, there are two opposing camps. There are those who start with the presumption of innocence, to which we are all entitled, and weigh up the uncorroborated evidence of the complainant with the corroborated evidence of Cardinal Pell and have a reasonable doubt about the accuracy of the attacks. Then there are those who start with the presumption of guilt, ignore the corroborated evidence of Cardinal Pell and arrive at…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Did Turnbull attempt the constitutional gambit?

Revelations about a threatened constitutional crisis amid last year’s Liberal leadership meltdown are providing an added layer of strangeness to what is already a surreal period in Australian politics. That Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull wanted to use the Governor-General to stop his rival Peter Dutton from taking his job, as revealed by The Australian’s Paul Kelly, is an extraordinary revelation. Even more stunning was the reported standoff between Mr Turnbull and his Attorney-General, Christian Porter, who, according to Kelly, stood firm against the Prime Minister of the day, advising there was no role for the Governor-General in intervening in a…

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Q&A to clarify issues in Cardinal Pell’s appeal

Is Cardinal George Pell guilty of the sexual attacks with which he was charged? Having sat down before the Court of Criminal Appeal, listened to the appeal and read the evidence, there are two opposing camps. There are those who start with the presumption of innocence, to which we are all entitled, and weigh up the uncorroborated evidence of the complainant with the corroborated evidence of Cardinal Pell and have a reasonable doubt about the accuracy of the attacks. Then there are those who start with the presumption of guilt, ignore the corroborated evidence of Cardinal Pell and arrive at…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Cardinal Pell’s appeal: An account from the live streaming

After two days of full and intense submissions by both Cardinal George Pell’s legal Counsel and the Prosecution, the Victorian Court of Appeal has reserved its decision in the matter of the conviction of Cardinal George Pell of sexual abuse of two choirboys at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne more than 20 years ago. No indication has been given when that decision will be handed down. The Appeal judges, Chief Justice Anne Ferguson, President Chris Maxwell and Justice Mark Weinberg, listened closely to all the arguments and actively asked questions of both the Appellant’s counsel and the prosecution. Chief Justice…

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POLITICS AND SOCIETY New secularist strategies to bury Christianity

The 20th century is well recognised as having produced more Christian martyrs than any previous age. The late Cardinal Francis George of Chicago famously noted that, while he would die in his bed, his successor would likely die in prison, and his successor would probably die a martyr. So, Christians are facing a terrible future, and this off an already high and frightening base of martyrdom across the planet. Yet, for the non-martyred, there is also an uncertain present, and an alarming future, including – perhaps especially – in Western liberal democracies. The non-martyred face merely the loss of income,…

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COVER STORY John Setka, for all his faults, is the perfect scapegoat

The Labor Party’s breast-beating and confected outrage about union boss John Setka’s alleged slight on anti-domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty is hard to take seriously. A particular emphasis needs to be placed on Setka’s “alleged” comments because Setka has strenuously denied denigrating the former Australian of the Year, and no one has come forward with any evidence to show exactly what was said. In fact, union witnesses have come forward to declare Setka did not put down Batty. Yet senior figures in the Labor Party and the ACTU have lined up to condemn the CFMMEU union boss, with newly minted…

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Cardinal Pell’s appeal, June 5-6, 2019: An account from the live streaming

After two days of full and intense submissions by both Cardinal George Pell’s legal Counsel and the Prosecution, the Victorian Court of Appeal has reserved its decision in the matter of the conviction of Cardinal George Pell of sexual abuse of two choirboys at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne more than 20 years ago. No indication has been given when that decision will be handed down. The Appeal judges, Chief Justice Anne Ferguson, President Chris Maxwell and Justice Mark Weinberg, listened closely to all the arguments and actively asked questions of both the Appellant’s counsel and the prosecution. Chief Justice…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Keating’s ‘nutters’: Don’t blame the messenger

The comments made by Paul Keating in relation to the activities of the heads of Australia’s intelligence agencies attempting to influence the opinions of MPs in an anti-China crusade have been read in some places as being intemperate and even “colourful”. However, we must remain clear minded in listening to and considering these comments, particularly as Keating has in the past shown a capacity for effective management of international affairs and indeed the effective use of intelligence in the service of good policy outcomes. A quick look at his record as Prime Minister of Australia provides evidence of this. If…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Will Bill Shorten emerge from the shadows again?

Never say never is a truism that applies to anyone who harbours ambition for the top jobs in politics, however improbable those ambitions may be. The now-retired doyen of the Canberra Press Gallery Laurie Oakes often said there wasn’t a single member of the House of Representatives who did not hold a secret ambition in their heart that would result in them becoming prime minister if all the cards fell their way. It is no surprise therefore that the vanquished Bill Shorten cannot bring himself to concede that his lifelong ambition of becoming prime minister has been extinguished. Mr Shorten…

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Anthony Albanese: NSW left factional warlord takes charge

      All other contenders for the ALP leadership inexplicably pulled out of the race against Albo shortly after announcing their intention   Tanya Plibersek did not even contest for the deputy leadership, which should have been hers for the taking     The unchallenged accession of Anthony (Albo) Albanese to the leadership of the federal parliamentary Labor Party can only be understood in light of his long history of leadership of the left in the New South Wales ALP. This background can already be seen to inform his actions as leader of the ALP.     Albo’s accession…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS The trial of Cardinal Pell … an injustice

Much has been written and spoken about the trial of George Cardinal Pell on charges of historical sexual abuse. The media (especially the ABC), filled with indignation at the ban on reporting throughout Australia during the trial, showed their displeasure when this ban was lifted. The gates of rage broke open and the biased reporting went into overdrive. Cardinal Pell had been charged and finally found guilty of five sexual abuse offences purportedly committed in 1996–97. Finally, on Wednesday, March 13, 2019, he was sentenced to six years jail with a non-parole period of 3.8 years. The first trial resulted…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Recapping the trial as Cardinal Pell’s appeal approaches

Cardinal George Pell’s appeal against his conviction on five charges of sexual assault against two choirboys at St Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral in 1996 is due to take place over two days in June (5–6).    Since his sentencing on March 13, Cardinal Pell has been imprisoned at the Melbourne Assessment Prison. It is true to say that there has been much coverage of the Cardinal’s case since then, a frenzy almost since the lifting of the ban on reporting on the trials. Moreover, some significant voices have been raised in astonishment at the verdict, given the flimsiness of the case…

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COVER STORY Scomo routs Labor, the Greens, GetUp and the left-wing media

The victory of Liberal Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who single-handedly led the Liberal Party to victory on May 18, will go down as the greatest win since Labor’s Paul Keating defeated John Hewson 25 years ago. Labor’s heavy focus on climate change flopped in Queensland, the nation’s most decentralised state, and the huge campaign to stop the Adani coalmine only turned voters away from Labor to the LNP. The left-wing media, particularly the ABC and the Fairfax press, were completely wrong-footed by the result. Predicting a Labor landslide when the campaign began in mid-April, they backed Labor leader Bill Shorten…

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FEDERAL ELECTION Queensland voted for jobs, life and country

While the Coalition’s successful polling in other states is worthy of close examination, again, it was Queensland that largely determined the outcome. Put simply, Queensland voters elected a government that offered less threats to jobs, income and cost of living; and that offered greater hope for new jobs. The colours of a rout. Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s clear and consistent messaging, with an energetic, friendly demeanour, was a major factor in the Coalition’s success. Compared with Mr Shorten’s less enthusiastic, slogan-driven, at times sarcastic approach, Mr Morrison appeared a much more positive candidate for the many swing voters who base…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Surprise! Polls aren’t what they used to be

The 2019 election will be a watershed for decades to come, but in the meantime there is going to have to be some deep soul-searching inside the Labor Party about its identity, its constituency, and its ideology. It was never meant to be like this. The opposite was meant to have happened – the Liberal National parties’ divergent bases were at this juncture meant to be tearing themselves apart between the inner-city café latté constituency versus their conservative supporters in the suburbs and the regions. Scott Morrison has put paid to all of that. The LNP now stands unequivocally for…

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EDITORIAL How Scott Morrison routed Labor, the Greens, GetUp and the left media

The triumph of Liberal Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who single-handedly led the Liberal Party to victory on May 18, will go down as the greatest win since Labor’s Paul Keating defeated John Hewson 25 years ago. Labor’s heavy focus on climate change flopped in Queensland, the nation’s most decentralised state, and the huge campaign to stop the Adani coalmine only turned voters away from Labor to the LNP. The left-wing media, particularly the ABC and the Fairfax press, were completely wrong-footed by the result. Predicting a Labor landslide when the campaign began in mid-April, they backed Labor leader Bill Shorten…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED If independents rule in House, stability is a goner

Should the May 18 election end up being a close result, the outcome of a gaggle of independents and minor party members controlling the House of Representatives looms as an unwelcome prospect. Such a result would be bad news for Labor, which would have to cut even more bad deals than it did under Julia Gillard with the insatiable Tony Windsor, Rob Oakeshott and Greens in control, but even worse for the Coalition, which would be unlikely to be able to form government.  As things stand, Labor remains favou­rite to win the election in its own right. Bob Katter is…

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EDITORIAL Religious freedom will be suffocated if ALP elected

  Labor and Greens promise end to exemptions from gender laws for religious schools Parental liberty to choose the religious and moral education of their children is trampled Duty of care for non-transgender children is fatally compromised It is a sad reality that in Australian law there is an absence of strong protections for freedom of belief. Indeed, as some leading lawyers have commented, religious freedom has been reduced to tenuous exemptions in anti-discrimination laws introduced since the 1980s. Now, key exemptions in the federal Sex Discrimination Act (SDA), that allowed faith-based schools to enrol and employ people according to…

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FEDERAL ELECTION Majors fling barrels of pork in the way of disillusioned voters

  The ALP’s “vision” is constricted to doing the Greens’ bidding The ALP and Coalition family policies differ only over how much money goes where Labour DLP policies reflect most closely of all parties the NCC’s Five Primacies When you cut through all the campaign bleating of Bill Shorten and Scott Morrison, it is clear that not only does neither of the major parties have a positive vision for Australia, but that their policies will actually add to the high cost of living, unemployment and the decline in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors. The ALP’s “vision” is largely based on…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Labor to people traffickers: “We are open for business”

Because of the extraordinary success of the Coalition Government since 2013 in stopping the trafficking of boat people to Australia, the issue is unlikely to figure highly in the current election campaign, despite the fact that over 300,000 illegal immigrants are currently living in Indonesia. The Coalition’s policy of tow-back worked; Labor’s won’t work. But the policies of the Australian Labor Party, while professing to maintain Australia’s border security, will undoubtedly lead to a resurgence of people trafficking into Australia. If you read the first line of Labor’s policy, it seems unequivocal. It says: “Labor’s policy on asylum seekers is…

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COVER STORY What counts is who you have in your corner

  Morrison looks the stronger contender so far in the campaign Shorten has been found wanting when he has had to explain policy The media has an interest in talking up the “Sco Momentum” Younger voters may find Shorten the more “virtuous” choice The recent turnaround in fortunes for the Coalition has been remarkable, but it masks an underlying intergenerational shift in the Australian community that will in all likelihood still install Bill Shorten into the Lodge in a few weeks’ time. The election remains Bill Shorten’s to lose, although Scott Morrison has surprised pundits with a disciplined, focused and…

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FEDERAL ELECTION The ALP’s climate policies will devastate our very way of life

  The ALP’s policies could reduce GDP by $1.2 trillion by 2030 Average Australian wages will be $24,000 below today’s There will be 586,000 fewer jobs than now by 2030 Electricity prices are projected to rise by 94 per cent by 2030 While the Government’s climate-change policy is wreaking havoc on jobs and the cost of living, the federal ALP’s “Climate Change Action Plan” goes much further and will gravely damage every Australian’s way of life. The ALP “is committed to reducing Australia’s pollution by 45 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030, and to reach net zero pollution by…

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POLITICS AND SOCIETY What the future holds for the right side of history

To be on the “wrong side of history” is not a place you want to be, in the context of contemporary religious, cultural and political debates. This notion of a right and a wrong side of history has assumed the status of a weapon to be deployed in debates over issues such as fluid gender marriage, climate change and the drug wars, merely to scratch the surface. Recently an American magazine (Vox, “Hindsight 2070”) asked a bunch of worthies what they thought would strike the great and the good in 2070 as “unthinkable” things that the folks back in 2020…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Bill Shorten’s bizarre electric car policy

Do you believe in fairies at the bottom of the garden? If so, you’ll love Bill Shorten’s plan for 500,000 new electric vehicles (EVs) to be sold in Australia in 2030, compared with just 1,124 sold across the country in 2017 (the latest year for which there are figures). In the run-up to the Federal Budget, Mr Shorten announced Labor’s environmental policy for the next election, saying it will take serious action on climate change, lower power prices, cut pollution, boost renewables and create more jobs. While the whole policy deserves careful examination, one striking aspect was his plan for…

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Budget 2019: The dark side of ‘back in the black’: no vision

  A Budget in surplus enhances Coalition’s May re-election chances Tinkering with rates gives no joy to families on a single income Energy continues to be both a black hole and a blind spot in so far as no action is proposed to restore electricity reliability The Federal Government’s 2019 Budget was framed with two things in mind: to establish the government’s economic credentials by returning the Budget to surplus for the first time since the Howard government in 2007; and to enhance the Government’s political fortunes in the run-up to the May general election.   Viewed from this perspective,…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS NSW Liberals re-election gives a boost to Morrison

The return of the Coalition government in New South Wales, led by Premier Gladys Berejiklian, marks the end of a Labor surge that saw the return of the Andrews Government in Victoria and the election of a Labor government in Western Australia. Gladys Berejiklian claims victory. Despite being forced to change leaders five months ago after former leader Luke Foley resigned over sexual misconduct allegations, NSW Labor was confident of defeating the two-term Coalition Government in NSW. The incumbents faced huge problems caused by the drought in rural NSW that has devastated farms and rural communities, and forced up prices…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Coffers are full but Treasurer will take spending cautiously

Josh Frydenberg was to deliver his first and possibly last budget as Federal Treasurer on Tuesday, April 2, just after this edition of News Weekly went to print, and it was expected that he would showcase the Coalition’s strongest suit: economic management. It was the Government’s last chance to contrast its policies with Labor’s plans to introduce the most radical change to the taxation of investment income in living memory. The Frydenberg Budget was expected, therefore, to be “fiscally responsible” but also likely to offer modest tax cuts to voters who are feeling cost-of-living pressures and several years of moderate…

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COVER STORY The NSW election and our incredible shrinking farming sector

The loss of long-time National Party seats in the New South Wales election begs the question: what is going on in the rural sector? The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party (SFFP) won the National Party strongholds of Murray (taking in a major irrigation districts in southern NSW) and Barwon (which covers 44 per cent of NSW west to the South Australian border and north to the Queensland border). The Nationals may still hold Barwon’s nearby seat of Dubbo, but it suffered a 20 per cent swing in Dubbo to an independent. Wagga Wagga went from Liberal to independent Joe McGirr…

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YPAT Getting with the program: one young person’s story

Like many young people, when I first went to YPAT, I thought the answer to “fixing” today’s problems was to campaign harder – simply spread the truth, and it would speak for itself. I was invited to attend YPAT at a point in my life when I was becoming frustrated with the unproductivity of this approach. I wondered if it was really possible to fix the problems facing my country and culture and had more or less decided to ignore them and hope that things would get better. My experience at YPAT taught me that it is only by directly…

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COVER STORY Federally, the pro-family voter is starved for choice

The quandary facing the socially conservative, pro-family and pro-Australian voter at the coming federal election is a difficult one, with no obvious answer and no certain outcome even if they can find a party aligned with at least some of their views. Instead of eschewing the disunity and instability of the previous Labor government, the Liberal-National Coalition has inexplicably entrenched these in the political culture during its two terms of government. The economy remains robust and employment is strong (traditionally indicators for the certain re-election of a federal government), but the Coalition’s superior economic management has been overshadowed in voters’…

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BANKING ROYAL COMMISSION Dealing with disaster back into the too-hard basket

  Events outside the control of farmers have long been an inevitable aspect of rural life Financial products that do not allow for the inevitable lean years are not fit for purpose Semi-autonomous communities are key to rectifying crises Few would dispute that today many rural enterprises, on-farm and off, are struggling. Unfortunately, disasters have been abundant across Australia over the last few months, and years. These comments from Commissioner Kenneth Hayne in his Financial Services Royal Commission Interim Report highlight the limits of management: “All agricultural enterprises are subject to the effects of events beyond the control of the…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Coal ban just one front in Beijing’s war on everyone

The decision by Beijing to block Australian coal ships at some of its ports is a concerning sign – of the present state of relations between the two countries but also of possible things to come for our economy as an increasingly emboldened China seeks to flex its muscles at lack of cooperation from key trading partners. The Beijing coal scuttle. It is no secret that China has been growing more frustrated with Australia in recent times, though it is not easy to pinpoint exactly what triggered the decision to make Australian coal ships sit idle waiting to unload coal…

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EDITORIAL Beijing’s warning shot hits our soft economic underbelly

  Restrictions apply to Australian coal but not to coal from competitors like Russia or Indonesia Australia has resisted Beijing on several strategic and security fronts A national development bank with a focus on decentralisation is essential to Australia’s sovereignty Beijing’s sudden restrictions on our coal exports are a warning about Australia’s overreliance on exports to China and overreliance on imported Chinese manufactured goods due to the loss of Australia’s industries. Last week Beijing announced restrictions on the offload of Australian coal in five ports at and near Dalian in northeast China. A Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs official claimed…

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BANKING ROYAL COMMISSION A step too small?

Many had been hoping for substantial changes to the financial system after the extensive misconduct so publicly revealed in the last year. Instead, in the Final Report of the Financial Services Royal Commission, we have a string of modest recommendations, largely dealing with technicalities or chosen specifics. This is most surprising, since the Australian financial system has incubated an extreme and historically unprecedented level of debts, too often without establishing serviceability. For example, rural enterprise and urban household debt totals have grown much faster than have servicing incomes. Yet, “sprucing up” is recommended, just as (more) very heavy weather threatens!…

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FINANCE Hayne royal commission sets agenda for bank reform

The final report into the banking system by Royal Commissioner Kenneth Hayne, a former High Court judge, has documented systematic abuses of power by the “Big Four” banks, as well as finance brokers and some non-bank financial institutions. Royal Commissioner Kenneth Hayne The Federal Government established the commission to investigate and make recommendations to deal with misconduct in the banking, superannuation and financial services industry. Mr Hayne’s report shows that the banks have had a culture of putting profits ahead of the interests of their clients, particularly small businesses, retirees and primary producers, and of rewarding personal greed. Despite an…

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POLITICS John Hewson should have as sturdy a Constitution

The end of the year is often cause for commentators to criticise the way government is functioning. This year John Hewson, a former leader of the Liberal Party, joined the chorus. Our Government, he told us, was not working well. His solution: rewrite the constitution to diminish the powers of the states in the name of “efficiency”. Dissatisfaction with the way a government or political system is operating is not confined to Australia. It is hardly surprising that these criticisms arise in times of political and social tension. The United States, Britain and, indeed, the whole of Europe are passing…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Climate change: deadly … to political leaders

It is extraordinary to think that Malcolm Turnbull lost the leadership of the Liberal Party not once but twice over climate change policy, first as opposition leader and then as Prime Minister. His successor, Scott Morrison, has not surprisingly adopted a cautious approach, threatening to apply a “big stick” to recalcitrant energy companies found to be ripping off consumers, but also standing by international commitments to reduce emissions previously made by Tony Abbott that will cut Australian emissions by a quarter of 2005 levels by 2030. Clearly, Mr Morrison wants to fight the coming election on other, safer issues, such…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS The strategic silence of the secularists

In the last edition of News Weekly, Robin Speed offered readers a close, legally informed reading of the successful appeal by Archbishop Philip Wilson against a conviction for failing to report sexual abuse of a child. In this edition, Paul Collits takes account of the social context of the case and how church guilt over child-abuse cover-ups have shaped media coverage and public perceptions, both within and outside the Catholic Church. The recent decision by an appeals court to overturn the earlier conviction of Archbishop Philip Wilson will have come as a relief to his friends and supporters. The verdict…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Coalition’s female deficit is more apparent than real

If it weren’t enough that the Coalition is already facing a seemingly insurmountable battle to win the coming election, Labor is intent also on “weaponising” the Coalition’s lower proportion of women in the Parliament to convince the public that the Liberal and Nationals have a women problem. From left: Dame Enid Lyons, Dame Margaret Guilfoyle and Dame Annabelle Rankin In this it is ignored that what actually matters is which policies are being implemented to help Australian women, especially but not exclusively mothers, not the careers of a few dozen people in the Federal Parliament. But it is a conundrum…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Awaiting Hayne: full report sure to shake finance sector

The release of the Report of the Financial Services Royal Commission will be an event eagerly awaited by many as we begin 2019. The only local precedent is the wider-ranging 1935 Banking Royal Commission. That inquiry initiated the establishment of an Australian institutional structure that for half a century not only avoided depression and further reckless lending but also helped secure rising prosperity throughout our society. To simplify, the 2018 Financial Services Royal Commission (FSRC) has in little more than a year identified and detailed many serious problems. Two dozen case studies have been examined in depth but we can…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Archbishop Wilson free, but trial was no witchhunt

Does it follow from the successful appeal by Archbishop Philip Wilson against a conviction for failing to report child sexual abuse that the prosecution was a witchhunt? Certainly not! The prosecution was reasonably based and, although not successful, is a warning to those, no matter how high up, promptly to report information to the police. It should be made clear that the abuse of children in the Hunter region by Roman Catholic priests was shocking and the pain and suffering brought on those who were meant to be cared for is beyond comprehension. Yet no senior person in the Church…

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NSW ELECTION NSW is just starting to sizzle

You wouldn’t believe that there are fewer than 70 days to go until the NSW state election, with both major parties staying under the radar of voters with few media reports. Combined with sleepy January, we have a voting population whose mind isn’t on the election and not awake enough to be asking important questions of politicians and political parties. After all, this election goes towards deciding the federal election, as history shows. Labor has never won a federal election without also winning a majority of seats in NSW; while the last time the Coalition won an election without a…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Federal election: the media have done our duty at the polls for us

There should be no need for Australians to bother with an election campaign this year as far as the media are concerned; for them, it has already been decided. The Coalition’s preselection “processor”doubles an an energy policy. Many commentators of note, including those on the ABC, have called the race even before the starting gun has been fired and installed Bill Shorten in the Lodge. While business and other lobby groups have begun muting their criticisms of Labor and ingratiating themselves with the Labor frontbench. Oddly though, the Australian economy continues to perform strongly and unemployment and inflation remain low…

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EDITORIAL The Remnant, resistant, creative minority

Donald Trump could win a second term as U.S. president in 2020 against deep opposition from the establishment and the progressive left. A letter from a Trump supporter to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) indicates why he could win: “I am unalterably supportive, flawed vessel or not. It’s not the man, it’s the resistance that binds us to him.” Daniel Henninger, a journalist at the WSJ, said he receives many letters like this. They are the “voice of resistance [that] has been building for decades” from “dislocated people living inside the Trump ‘base’ … Its scale is suggested by the…

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VICTORIAN ELECTION Coalition collapse

Victorians sent a strong message when they voted on November 24 with a 6 per cent plus swing towards the ALP Government. How did this happen? At the time of writing there are seats still in contention, but the ALP will hold a majority in the Lower House, with 53 seats at least to the Coalition’s 24 seats. Already lost to the ALP are the Liberal seats of Box Hill, Burwood and Mount Waverley, heralding the loss of outstanding MPs who have served Victoria unselfishly for years: Robert Clark, Graham Watt, and Michael Gidley. Three Liberal seats were still in…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Libs fish around for explanations

Pessimism is pervasive inside the Morrison Government following the Victorian election, with political commentators already “calling” the coming federal election and recalcitrant MPs adding to the black mood.   Perhaps the indefatigable Scott Morrison is the only person left who believes he can turn the show around by selling the improving news on the economy and a likely return to a budget surplus for the first time in a decade.   But the Victorian election result was a brutal reminder to all federal MPs of the consequences of cutting down an elected prime minister not once but twice.   It…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Immigrants caught in English-language nether world

The International English Language Tests (IELTS) and the Pearson Test of English (PTE) – a computer-generated English testing system – need to be closely scrutinised, as inconsistencies are becoming all too apparent in test results, affecting the lives of hardworking migrants who wish to continue to contribute to Australia. In the May 19, 2018, edition of News Weekly, in “No fairytale ending from the Land of a Fair Go”, Helen Jurcevic OAM highlighted the case of Maria and Ivan (not their real names) who had immigrated to Australia in 2007. Between them, they now possess four Masters degrees and a CPA diploma, all obtained at Australian universities and that have, with tuition fees, cost them nearly $170,000. They initially both…

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VICTORIAN ELECTION Coalition collapse in Victoria

Victorians sent a strong message when they voted on November 24 with a 6 per cent plus swing towards the ALP Government. How did this happen? At the time of writing there are seats still in contention, but the ALP looks to hold a majority in the Lower House, with 53 seats to the Coalition’s 24 seats. Already lost to the ALP are the Liberal seats of Box Hill, Burwood and Mount Waverley, heralding the loss of outstanding MPs who have served Victoria unselfishly for years: Robert Clark, Graham Watt, and Michael Gidley. Three Liberal seats were still in doubt…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Divisions undermine Morrison’s leadership

Just three months after replacing Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister and six months before the 2019 federal election, Scott Morrison is finding out how hard it is to be Prime Minister, presiding over a divided party room, and dealing with a vengeful predecessor and a resurgent opposition. Mr Turnbull, turn that frown upside down. While Labor has serious tensions within its own ranks – which nearly cost Bill Shorten his job early this year – the Labor Party now looks a model of unity and stability compared with the Coalition. It is important to note that deep residual divisions remain…

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VICTORIAN ELECTION The left gets ready to scream ‘haters!’

Ten organisations have penned an open letter to Victorian politicians “demanding that candidates and political parties do not divide Victorian communities with hate and fear this state election”. Let’s revise the list of endangered species with proper priorities. The organisations are all to the left of the political spectrum. They include the Victorian Trades Hall Council, Environment Victoria, Australian Conservation Foundation, Friends of the Earth and a number of refugee advocates. Is this an attempt to silence debate on critical issues facing Victorians, under the guise of preventing “hate and fear”? Political parties represent competing worldviews and their policies reflect…

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COVER STORY An election-winning policy: a development bank for Australia

Bill Shorten wants a development bank established to expand the infrastructure of the Pacific- island states. If either Scott Morrison or Mr Shorten announced a development bank to develop the Australian economy, he would romp home in the next federal election. Mr Shorten’s announcement last week comes after News Weekly has twice in the past six months called for a development bank to help develop our Pacific island neighbours. News Weekly (July 28) said: “Australia’s development aid to the region is expected to be $261.3 million in 2018–19. This needs to be greatly expanded. “In particular, since Australia has generously…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Nats fracas points up need for vigilance

Recent reports of “Neo-Nazis” allegedly invading the New South Wales branch of the Young Nationals came somewhat to a resolution with the resignation of the people concerned from the party.   It looks as though the party needs to be more vigilant in keeping itself free from right-wing conspiracy theorists and other malcontents.   The point, of course, is to have the ability to discern who is actually a right-wing nutter and who is merely a social conservative or someone who is genuinely concerned about the future of their country.   The Nationals should always aim to be a genuine…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Regions are in no state to accommodate immigrants

With 85.7 per cent of Aust­ralia’s 2.3 million immigrants between 2006–16 choosing to live in the capital cities, the Federal Coalition Government has flagged a population package to entice or force migrants to live in the regions to ease congestion and infrastructure deficiencies in the cities. Minister for Population Alan Tudge has indicated that the Government plans to draw new migrants to the regions via such means as awarding additional points through the points-based skilled migration system to temporary visa holders if they move to a regional area or a capital city other than Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane for a…

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VICTORIAN ELECTION The left gets ready to scream ‘haters’

Ten organisations have penned an open letter to Victorian politicians “demanding that candidates and political parties do not divide Victorian communities with hate and fear this state election”. The organisations are all to the left of the political spectrum. They include the Victorian Trades Hall Council, Environment Victoria, Australian Conservation Foundation, Friends of the Earth and a number of refugee advocates. Is this an attempt to silence debate on critical issues facing Victorians, under the guise of preventing “hate and fear”? Political parties represent competing worldviews and their policies reflect this. It is unrealistic to expect bipartisan support on issues…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Wentworth swing least of Morrison’s worries

The blame game over who is responsible for the calamitous result in Wentworth will continue for some time, but the Coalition faces a more existential question over the seemingly impossible task of how to marry the diverse constituencies represented by the Liberal and National parties.   Those constituencies, which include its progressive and conservative bedfellows, and its inner-city and regional bases, appear to be irreconcilable on a growing number of issues, ranging from religious freedom to asylum seekers to the environment.   The first take on the Wentworth result is that it was a visceral display of voter anger for…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Liberals are bare favourites for Wentworth

In the upcoming by-election for Malcolm Turnbull’s seat of Wentworth, Prime Minister Scott Morrison won’t be making the same mistake Mr Turnbull did in the lead-up to the recent “Super Saturday” by-elections. Then the former PM allowed expectations to run that he might actually win one or possibly two of the Labor seats that were up for grabs.   That miscalculation and the resulting panic about the collapse of the LNP vote in Queensland were contributing factors to the subsequent implosion inside the Liberal party room a short time afterwards. Instead, Mr Morrison knows that the battle for the seat…

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COVER STORY Internal strife at Fortress ABC

It was highly revealing that The Sydney Morning Herald reported on the forced resignation of the ABC chairman under the heading “Politics”, given that the ABC is an organisation whose charter requires it to be independent, accurate and impartial. Divisions on the boards of corporations occur frequently, and it is not surprising that the ABC board should reflect the divisions in society, particularly as the network’s programs so clearly depart from its charter on a range of important public issues such as environmentalism, migration, multiculturalism, gender politics and climate change. Once were champions: Justin Milne,Michelle guthrie and Malcolm Turnbull. In…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Migration numbers: a new discussion begins

The level of migrant intake, especially in respect of refugees, has become a sensitive issue in recent times throughout the developed world. Are Australia’s problems different from those of the rest of the world? Not entirely. Along with other devel­oped economies, Australia is committed to a refugee intake under a United Nations agreement. Apart from that, in recent times we have been pursuing an unendorsed (nothing has been legislated) policy – as if it were a self-evidently valid aspect of national life – of consciously seeking to increase our population, effectively without limit. It is that particular proposition rather than…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Drought: just one element in a bigger climate picture

We should thank Bryce Camm (Queensland Country Life, August 8, 2018), Ben Rees (QCL, August 30, 2018), Geoff Edwards (QCL, August 30, 2018) and Peter Westmore (News Weekly, August 25, 2018) for initiating a much-needed and long overdue conversation and rethink about “drought ”. Yet, this did not generate the discussion that we urgently require. Why not? Drought impacts on farmers, but should the wider community be concerned? Droughts impose extraordinary costs on farm operations, generally tipping most of them into the red. Droughts just expose the marginal returns in agriculture. Yes, most farmers will recover, but generally they are…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Ex Lib leaders seldom follow the rule that silence is golden

Beaten former Liberal leaders can be divided between those who go quietly and those who do not. Shhh! John Hewson is rarely if ever complimentary or constructive about the party he once led, preferring to lap up the adulation of the left and join in with the sundry cheap-shot critics of the Coalition Government on practically any issue from climate change to asylum seekers to live animal exports. Dr Hewson appears never to have fully gotten over the bitterness of losing the unlosable election 25 years ago, and he has rarely missed an opportunity to fire a shot across the…

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OPINION Victorian election 2018: How will you vote

With Victorians going to the polls on November 24, it is timely to look at the policies of the parties offering themselves for election as Victoria’s new government. It is helpful for voters to know where the parties stand on issues that are important to them. The comments on the parties’ policies offered here are based on the five primacies of the National Civic Council (NCC): Defending life Supporting the family Assisting small enterprise Promoting the national interest Fostering Judeo-Christian virtues Defending Life The Liberal and National parties do not have a pro-life policy in their constitutions. They have a…

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VICTORIA Infrastructure fiasco clogs Melbourne roads

Without the beautiful natural location and magnificent beaches of other capital cities around Australia, the people of Melbourne have long consoled themselves that they lived in what was “the world’s most liveable city”. No longer. Traffic has slowed almost to a halt. The policies of the Andrews Labor Government of reckless development and extravagant infrastructure spending has turned the city and suburbs into a giant construction zone, with apparently uncontrolled building of high-rise apartment blocks around the central business district, central thoroughfares like St Kilda Road blocked off for years, and new suburbs being built on the outskirts without regard…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Liberals in need of an internal peacemaker

That politics is a tough game is no excuse for bullying behaviour towards women MPs Allegations of bullying against female Liberal MPs has added further wounds to an already red raw and discombobulated party still reeling from its recent leadership implosion. Left to right: Julie Bishop, Kelly O’Dwyer, Linda Reynolds, Julia Banks and Lucy Gichuhi If it wasn’t enough that the Liberals dumped a second prime minister mid-term, botched the installation of the declared challenger, and installed someone voters know little about, claims of browbeating female MPs to the point of them quitting politics have emerged. However, the exact nature…

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POLITICS AND SOCIETY Business next to fall to ‘progress’

Now that the progressivists’ long march has succeeded in capturing our universities, the question has to be asked: are businesses and corporations the next target? The March of the Saucebottle Swamp Irons through the institutions. Appointing more women to boards is one of the touchstones of the political correctness movement based on the argument that society is phallocentric and male dominated.Judged by the amount of time, money and resources being invested in areas like positive discrimination for women, gender sensitivity, the dangers of global warming and Aboriginal advancement, the answer has to be “yes”. One of the organisations pushing for…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Coal-Hand ScoMo pulls off an accidental coupCANBERRA OBSERVED,

How is it that the one name omitted from Scott Morrison’s new ministerial line-up was the one politician on the conservative side of politics who would be most effective in taking on Bill Shorten and denying Labor government at the coming election? The Prime Minister has offered Tony Abbott a carrot; or, is it a stick? In a bid to “move to the next generation” of politicians and bury the prolonged feud that has infected the Liberal Party for the past few years, Australia’s accidental Prime Minister Morrison opted to keep Tony Abbott on the backbench. Mr Abbott has been offered…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Captain and Lieutenant’s $444 million munificence

Every so often governments get a sudden but inexplicable rush of blood to the head that results in a political decision that bypasses the usual administrative and public service checks and balances. Kevin Rudd famously did this when he agreed to a $40 billion plus plan for the national broadband network (NBN) that, according to political legend, was written on the back of a beer coaster on a VIP flight after a discussion with former Communications Minister Stephen Conroy. No business case, no carefully thought-out policy or consideration of potential pitfalls; just a blank cheque that taxpayers are still picking…

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EDITORIAL By-elections reflect disenchantment with major parties

The five by-elections held on 28 July were conducted as a referendum on the leadership of Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten, but the votes recorded in the five seats shows a growing level of disenchantment with both major parties, with little appetite for the Greens who positioned themselves as the alternative. The two seats which were the focus of most attention were Longman in Queensland and Braddon, on the west coast of Tasmania. Longman is traditionally a Liberal seat, with a large number of retirees living between Brisbane and Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. Interestingly, Labor’s Susan Lamb won the seat at…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Longman result may force PM to rethink policies

Despite the dreadful result in the Longman by-election, it is still extremely unlikely that Malcolm Turnbull will be challenged as Prime Minister before the next election.    But there will be growing pressure on him to alter key policies and his broader strategy of seeking re-election based entirely on building a “strong economy”. In many ways, the Super Saturday by-election results did not surprise but were a confirmation of a long-running and seemingly entrenched trend in public opinion polls that put Labor in a winning position going into the next election. The problem for the Government was that it had…

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EDITORIAL By-elections will test Shorten’s ‘politics of envy’ strategy

The by-elections to be held in five federal seats on July 28 will tell whether the electorate buys Bill Shorten’s “politics of envy”, but the signs are that most people will reject it. Labor held four of the five seats, while the other was held by a former Xenophon party member who quit the party to sit as an independent. The Liberals have decided not to contest the two seats in Western Australia, but the other three – Mayo (South Australia), Longman (Queensland) and Braddon (Tasmania) – are all marginal seats, and could therefore fall to the Liberals. As opposition…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Odds are that Labor won’t Albo Bill aside

Labor’s problem going into the next federal election is to what degree Bill Shorten’s unpopularity with voters will risk the party’s chances of winning government on the back of strong and persistent electoral momentum in favour of Labor. Mr Shorten’s unpopularity as an alternate prime minister is worsening rather than improving as the election approaches, and it is now apparent to all but the most rusted-on Labor pundits that he is a drag on the Labor vote. But this does not mean anyone in the Labor Party is hitting the panic button. Labor has been ahead in The Australian’s Newspoll…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Opposition mounts to legalisation of cannabis

A private member’s bill introduced into Federal Parliament by NSW Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm (pictured below) to legalise the possession for personal use of cannabis is now under consideration by a federal parliamentary inquiry. Cannabis (marijuana) is the most widely used illicit drug in Australia. Senator Leyonhjelm is a radical free-market advocate who believes that rest­rictions on drug use should be removed as a matter of principle. In May, he introduced the Criminal Code and Other Legislation Amendment (Removing Commonwealth Rest­rictions on Cannabis) Bill 2018. He said: “Adults should be free to make their own choices, as long as…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED The gloves are on for by-election proxy bouts

July 28’s five by-elections are being billed as a curtain raiser to the main event – the looming federal election. However, much of the focus is currently on Bill Shorten and the degree to which his personal unpopularity is harming the Labor Party’s chance of winning government. In normal circumstances, by-elections run against the government of the day. Even reasonably popular governments are often given a slap by the electorate when a sitting member retires mid term. Therefore it is being interpreted that a poor result for Labor, particularly in two of the seats up for grabs, Longman in Queensland…

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COVER STORY By-elections a trial run for next federal election

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has drawn the battle lines for the next election by securing passage of his $144 billion tax reform package through Federal Parliament and, in the process, defining a clear difference from Labor on the issue. Spot the corporate tax cutter. With Labor ahead in the opinion polls, and many voters believing that the policies of government and opposition are almost indistinguishable on issues such as foreign affairs, economic management and the environment, the Prime Minister has been trying to find an issue that clearly differentiates the Government from Labor ahead of the next election. He believes…

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FEDERAL POLITICS Federal ALP platform reads like a radical on a soapbox

The Federal ALP National Platform Consultation Draft paints a picture of a draconian government if elected, in many areas mirroring the policies of the Greens. The ALP wants to take an additional 450 gigalitres of water (approximately the volume of Sydney harbour) from farmers in the Murray-Darling Basin each year and send it down the river, removing constraints and flooding low- lying farmland and infrastructure. This would even further hasten the demise of rural and regional towns in the Basin that are already struggling from reduced water allocations, the twin effects of which are lower agricultural output and diminishing populations.…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson conviction conundrum

Archbishop of Adelaide Philip Wilson is reported to be the most senior Catholic in the world to be charged and convicted with not disclosing information to the police about child sex abuse. He did not witness or participate in the alleged abuse. It appears that he was simply told by the victim in 1976 what is alleged to have happened in 1971, and was charged 39 years later with not going to the police with what he had been told. The prosecutor, in calling for a jail sentence of up to two years, said: “For the purposes of sentencing, denunciation…

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EDITORIAL By-elections a trial run for next federal election

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has drawn the battle lines for the next election by securing passage of his $144 billion tax reform package through Federal Parliament and, in the process, defining a clear difference from Labor on the issue. Spot the corporate tax cutter. With Labor ahead in the opinion polls, and many voters believing that the policies of government and opposition are almost indistinguishable on issues such as foreign affairs, economic management and the environment, the Prime Minister has been trying to find an issue that clearly differentiates the Government from Labor ahead of the next election. He believes…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Throwing our 8¢ in the ring over sale of ABC

The great irony about the Liberal Party’s provocative proposal to sell the ABC is that no one would be remotely interested in buying it. Specially minted ABC bid dollar coin That’s why it is such a silly proposal. But it is also borne of frustration from the failure of successive conservative governments to rein in the clear leftist bias of our national broadcaster, which receives such a large amount of money from taxpayers. Malcolm Fraser, John Howard, Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull have all failed to temper the ABC, and it would be legitimate to argue that things have gotten…

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POLITICS Greens promise to keep Australia legally stoned and welfare dependent

The Greens plan for legalising recreational marijuana looks more like an economic plan than a social one, the aim mainly being to raise more taxes while creating greater welfare dependency. They and a fawning media of course know that the “war on drugs” has failed. A war fought by putting down their arms and pandering to the drug users (such as testing their poisons for them and providing “safe” venues for poisoning themselves). The Greens also argue that valuable cost savings will flow from diverting police time from pursuing marijuana-related crimes to more urgent matters. These promises of cost-savings are…

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POLITICS Wading further through the Greens party bilge

The Greens party platform is replete with outlandish statements such as, “iconic ecosystems like the Great Australian Bight are under threat from exploration by oil and gas companies”. They would “create a new Environment Act as the next generation of strong national environment laws, expanding federal protection and putting tough limits on development to protect nature”. This would threaten any development of vast swathes of Australia’s land and sea. The Greens would increase the number of refugees from 13,750 to 50,000 per year. While Australia can certainly cope with more people, one caveat would be necessary to avoid social mayhem:…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Lee Rhiannon: too Bolshie or not Bolshie enough?

At least with Lee Rhiannon, you pretty much knew what you were getting. The long-time Greens Senator from New South Wales, who has announced she will retire in mid-August after months of bitter infighting in the party, was an old-fashioned, unreconstructed Communist, indeed, perhaps the last of her kind in the Federal Parliament. Personable and well liked among senators from all sides of politics, Rhiannon has at least been consistent during her long political career that included 11 years in the NSW Legislative Council and being a federal senator since 2011. But the ever-morphing Greens, with its warring factions, described…

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EDITORIAL Malaysian election sends shockwaves across South-East Asia

The election of a coalition government headed by retired Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad marks the end of 61 years of one-party government in Malaysia, a rejection of corruption, and a clear signal that the people of Malaysia want a new direction for the predominantly Muslim country. Fresh out of prison: Anwar Ibrahim Since Malaysia broke with Singapore, the country has been run by the party that represented Malays and Islam, the Barisan Nasional. The party ran the country in the interests of ethnic Malays, who are overwhelmingly Muslim, and discriminated against minorities, whether Chinese, Indian or Christian, in business,…

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POLITICS AND CULTURE The West won the world but may lose its soul

Christianity is the cornerstone of Western civilisation, and maintenance of the faith, namely Christianity, is vital to the future of Western civilisation. We live in a society that is in historical and cultural continuity with the civilisation that gave us, to take one example from the millions possible, Gloucester Cathedral, the ceiling of which is shown here. I will begin with an event that you may be aware of, in the lead-up to 2016’s census. You may recall that there was a campaign to encourage people to mark “No Religion” on their census forms sponsored by the Atheist Foundation of Australia.…

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The Greens: the political equivalent of bilgewater

The Australian Greens’ federal party platform needs close scrutiny, especially when outlandish claims and radical ideology form the basis of some truly bizarre policies.   Virtue signalling features largely in the Greens’ election platform, for example, “tackling catastrophic global warming”. They plan to “achieve net zero pollution by 2040” with a “Solar Ombudsman” enforcing a “right to solar” for renters, “ensuring that a landlord cannot unreasonably refuse”.   They envisage “rooftop solar for every home, school and business …, our cities with solar panels on every car park and supermarket roof”, requiring hundreds of millions of dollars in funding. How…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Beyond tomorrow a bridge too far for politicians to plan

The brutal political reality of the 2018 Budget for the Coalition and indeed for the Labor Opposition is that neither side can think further out than a political term, let alone a decade into the future. Doctor, I’m worried. I can’t remember when I am to see you next. As a matter of fact,I can’t remember the future at all. Treasurer Scott Morrison’s 2018 Budget and Bill Shorten’s “Budget in Reply” were framed with the expectation that the Australian people will be passing their judgement on them within 12 months. Consequently, both budgets involved a personal-tax cut bidding war, with the…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Can Greens regenerate, or are they mulch?

Following disappointing results in the recent Batman (Vic) by-election, convincingly won by Labor, and a poorer than expected showing in the recent South Australian election, the Greens face major problems in the months ahead. Greens’ leader Richard Di Natale: Pressure’s on. The Greens’ national conference, to be held on 19–20 May in Brisbane, is the party’s last chance to resolve issues of concern to possible supporters before the next election, including widespread opposition to key Greens policies in the areas of reliable base-load power, legalisation of marijuana, and promotion of the “Safe Schools” program. The Greens had been expected to…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED No pressure on Malcolm to call election this year

A decision on the date of the next election will be at the forefront of Malcolm Turnbull’s mind from budget night onwards, with speculation about an early election a constant reminder in his ear from the political commentariat. Yet, whatever the voter response to Treasurer Scott Morrison’s third budget – positive or negative – only unexpected events would encourage the Prime Minister to opt for anything earlier than a conventional 2019 election, probably in either April or May. Barnaby Joyce’s self-imposed Christmas deadline on the PM is seen as a new marker for Mr Turnbull to lift his personal key…

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POLITICS Conservative shift in the Victorian Liberal Party

With Victoria getting ready to go to the polls in November, the recent Liberal State Council attracted considerable press interest both before and after the last weekend of April, when it was held. The Liberal State Council has laid outa preliminary blueprint for Matthew Guyas he leads the party into the electionin November. At the Council, a large number of conservatives were elected to positions on the Victorian branch leadership team. ABC political reporter Jane Norman claimed that there had been a concerted effort to recruit “Christians” and “Mormons” into Victorian branches. The labelling continues, including calling “moderate(s)” those who…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Bill Shorten’s Budget-Reply speech: for what ails you

Bill Shorten’s Budget-in-Reply speech in Thursday night, May 10, encapsulated a simple game plan – the pitting of one Australian against another in order to get elected. There is always someone worse off, someone being ripped off, someone who is disadvantaged, someone who isn’t getting what they should be getting, and someone who can’t make ends meet or is “doing it tough”. And conversely there is someone else who is the exploiter, the winner, the morally bankrupt contributor to the same situation. Inevitably, the perpetrators of undistributed wealth are the big banks, the multinationals and the “top end of town”,…

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Committal hearing dismisses main charges against Cardinal Pell

After a four-week hearing, Melbourne Magistrate Belinda Wallington dismissed the most serious charges brought by police against Cardinal George Pell, and ordered that lesser charges be heard in the Victorian County Court at some time in the near future. Cardinal Pell has repeatedly and firmly denied the allegations made against him. Cardinal George Pell The prosecution of Cardinal Pell was brought by the police, not by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), which normally handles major offences. It was reported in the media that the police brief was twice submitted to the office of the DPP, and twice returned, indicating…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Bernardi foray looks to be fading out of view

Senator Cory Bernardi’s grand dream of building a new grassroots party on the right of Australian politics to take on the major parties looks decidedly shaky based on the party’s performance in recent elections.   The South Australian-based MP formed his party in February of last year, as a breakaway from the Liberals, with whom he had been periodically at war for many years. Momentum at the start was strong, with Bernardi quickly gathering upwards of 10,000 paid-up members and merging with the socially conservative Family First party in South Australia. With the slogan, “Common Sense Lives Here”, Bernardi was…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Sydney Archdiocese aims to eliminate slavery in supply chain

In an effort to curb modern slavery and human trafficking, the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney set up an Anti-Slavery Taskforce at the behest of the Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher OP. The Taskforce’s report, released in February 2018, was compiled by the Taskforce executive, comprised of John McCarthy QC and Katherine Moloney. The report’s foreword cites Pope Francis: “[modern slavery is] an open wound on … contemporary society, a scourge upon the body of Christ. It is a crime against humanity.”[1] The purpose of the Taskforce was to identify and eradicate from the supply chain of products, services and investments…

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Cardinal Pell firmly denies sex abuse allegations

As the four-week committal hearing in the Melbourne Magistrates Court concluded, Cardinal George Pell’s barrister, Robert Richter QC, stated that there was no evidence to support charges of historical sexual abuse against his client, after the examination of accusers and witnesses ended. Cardinal George Pell Mr Richter will make his concluding statement on April 17, and the police prosecutor will do likewise. The magistrate issued a prohibition order concerning the charges against Cardinal Pell. The first two weeks of the committal hearing were conducted in camera, so no details of this evidence have been released. After this evidence was heard,…

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COVER STORY The deeper causes of Australia’s social malaise

The recent controversy over Australian cricketers’ ball tampering in South Africa, the increasing incidence of road rage, “one-punch” attacks, home invasions, online bullying and public vandalism reflect a deepening malaise in Australian culture. A generation ago, these would have been either rare or even unthinkable, and their causes deserve to be the subject of national reflection. The usual response to such events is either to say that the answer is more education, or alternatively, that Australians should “be nice” to one another. However appealing these sentiments may be, the education system has been promoting these values for the past 50…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Malcolm at 30 (polls): the cloud on Turnbull’s horizon

It is a sorry scenario that Australia’s political agenda and conversation is dominated by a fortnightly survey of 1,500 voters, whose views dictate political reporting to a degree that is totally out of proportion to their number or relevance. Polling is a relatively new phenomenon in politics and it is inconceivable that a Menzies or a Curtin would have been bound by the vagaries of polls in the decision-making of their wartime cabinets. Fortnightly polls from various media outlets and even lobby groups create short-termism and superficiality in politics, and the necessity of media stunts to create positive “messages”. But…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS The deeper causes of Australia’s social malaise

The recent controversy over Australian cricketers’ ball tampering in South Africa, the increasing incidence of road rage, “one-punch” attacks, home invasions, online bullying and public vandalism reflect a deepening malaise in Australian culture. A generation ago, these would have been either rare or even unthinkable, and their causes deserve to be the subject of national reflection. The usual response to such events is either to say that the answer is more education, or alternatively, that Australians should “be nice” to one another. However appealing these sentiments may be, the education system has been promoting these values for the past 50…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Liberals take power but plan for none for SA

The headline result of the South Australian election was a resounding win for the Liberal Party, which won a clear majority of 25 seats (at the time of writing) in the 47-seat House of Assembly, with Labor winning just 18. Independents are expected to hold the remaining four seats. Steven Marshall However, a closer examination of the results will leave no party particularly happy. Because of demographic changes in recent years, an electoral redistribution was made that ended the pro-Labor electoral bias by rebalancing the number of votes in each seat. Purely as a result of this redistribution, the Liberal…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Empty seat last vestige of minor parties’ party

It looks like Australia’s love affair with minor parties may have reached its peak if the results of recent state and by-elections are any guide. After an extraordinary run, all the “major” minor parties are suffering electorally from a variety of factors: the Greens, from an accumulation of years of irresponsible policies and gesture politics, which, despite all the crowing about their coming success, has never resulted in the party breaking into the mainstream; One Nation, due predominantly to perennial ill-discipline and naivety; and Nick Xenophon’s NXT, from hollow populism and over-reach. For the “minor” minor parties the situation is…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Liberals’ Tasmanian victory: the implications

The Tasmanian Liberal Party was returned to office on March 3, only the second time that the Liberals have won a second successive term in office. Will Hodgman, son of the late Michael Hodgman QC, a former Liberal federal minister and state politician, was returned as Premier. Will Hodgman Labor leader Rebecca White, in conceding defeat, lacked the customary grace in failing to congratulate Mr Hodgman on the Liberal victory. Cassy O’Connor, leader of the Greens, also declined to offer congratulations. The following day, White apologised, saying it was an oversight on her part. At the time of writing, the…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Cashless debit card records positive results

The recent reports of a Tennant Creek toddler who had been raped being placed back into the care of her abusers, known to be heavy drinkers,[1] and of underage Aboriginal girls contracting syphilis at 60 times the rate of non-Aborigines,[2] highlight the necessity of curbing alcohol and drug abuse in remote indigenous communities. The Federal Government’s cashless debit card (CDC) aims to curb alcoholism, gambling, violence (sexual or otherwise) and neglect. Under the scheme, indigenous and non-indigenous welfare recipients in certain communities, with some exceptions including aged pensioners and veterans, receive 80 per cent of their welfare payment on a…

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COVER STORY Media ensure a comfy rise for Bill Shorten

Although Australia’s economy in 2018 is cruising forward with rising prosperity and declining unemployment, the Turnbull Government cannot take a trick. Even Malcolm Turnbull’s success in persuading U.S. President Donald Trump to exempt Australia from his steel and aluminium tariffs has been portrayed as leaving Australia exposed to Chinese dumping. Trade Minister Steve Ciobo’s suggestion that Australia might support action by the European Union (EU) to overturn the tariffs in the World Trade Organisation has also rebounded on the Government. Earlier this year, the Canberra media had been full of salacious details of the affair which led to the resignation…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Can Liberals’ broad church survive schism?

Last year the Liberal Party celebrated the 75th anniversary of Robert Menzies 1942 “Forgotten People” speech, recognised today as the great clarion call for the party’s foundation just a few years later. The speech is held up as having defined the underlying philosophy that binds the party together, during which Menzies championed Australia’s forgotten middle class and their “homes material, homes human and homes spiritual”. While the party (in coalition with the Nationals) is in power federally, there are growing concerns about its future prospects, and even long-term survival as the conservative vote splinters and fractures. Paul Kelly, in a…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Liberals return for second term in Hobart

The Tasmanian Liberal Party was returned to office on March 5, only the second time that the Liberals have won a second successive term in office. Will Hodgman Will Hodgman, son of the late Michael Hodgman QC, a former Liberal federal minister and state politician, was returned as Premier. Labor leader Rebecca White, in conceding defeat, lacked the customary grace in failing to congratulate Mr Hodgman on the Liberal victory. Cassy O’Connor, leader of the Greens, also declined to offer congratulations. The following day, White apologised, saying it was an oversight on her part. At the time of writing, the…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Bob Santamaria and free trade agreements

Over the first weekend of February, the National Civic Council held its annual get-together. An important part of the proceedings was a tribute to the contribution B.A. “Bob” Santamaria had made to public life in Australia. Twenty years have now passed since his death. Are free trade agreements meant to be bindingor are they meant to be free? NCC National President Peter Westmore, in what might be regarded as a keynote address, spoke movingly about his association with Bob over more than 20 years. He noted, in particular, that far from being an ideologue, Bob was a man driven by…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS We need a development bank and a higher population

If Australia is to be taken seriously in the fastest growing region of the world, it will need to expand its population to around 50 million and requires a development bank to put the infrastructure in place. Recently, the Federal Government’s Infrastructure Australia warned that while the population expected to grow by an extra 12 million people over the next 30 years, the current $50 billion infrastructure program only dealt with current congestion and productivity issues in the nation’s capital cities. Voters are angry at the inflated house prices and congestion from the nation’s rapid population growth, which will require…

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POLITICS AND SOCIETY Defending biological man and woman from transgenderism

I read somewhere, “The media is having a trans moment” and I thought, are we? Am I? Maybe they are. For something that is meant to be about discrimination for a tiny portion of the population, as serious as that is, why is everyone talking about transgender? At the coffee shop, hairdressers, shopping centres and, of course, at schools. Why is the state interfering in our private lives? Why aren’t politicians defending our rights to religious freedom and free speech? The same-sex marriage postal survey was not about the rights of parents to raise healthy children, something the state should…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Population debate needs development debate

If Australia’s long period of uninterrupted growth were to come to an abrupt end, one crucial immediate question would be whether the country’s political stewards had used their country’s period of good fortune prudently. This applies particularly to infrastructure, which at present is geared towards trying to keep pace with a rapidly growing population, rather than laying the foundations for the country of the future and the lives of the generations of Australians that are to come. Blessed with abundant natural resources, especially iron ore, coal and gas, and its proximity to the emerging super power of China, which is…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Greens: wouldn’t know a cowardly act if they did one

Freshly minted New South Wales Liberal Senator Jim Molan could not have asked for a more rapid propulsion into the public consciousness courtesy of a Greens attack on him that has misfired spectacularly. NSW Liberal Senator Jim Molan In his first weeks as a senator, the decorated former major general was accused of variously being a racist, a coward and a war criminal by the Greens, during an extraordinary over-the-top attack that was led by the sole Greens MP in the House of Representatives, Adam Bandt, and party leader Richard Di Natale. Under threat of legal action from Molan and…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED The left’s appetite for change can’t be satisfied

It should not come as a surprise that the success of the campaign to redefine marriage and Parliament’s subsequent endorsement of gender-fluid marriage have been quickly followed by the ramping up of a debate about the nation’s national day of celebration. We live in a time of the perpetual protest. Barely a fortnight had passed after the redefinition of marriage was announced before the ABC’s national youth radio station Triple J (funded entirely by the Federal Government via the Australian taxpayer) announced that it would no longer be holding its popular “Hottest 100” countdown on January 26. At least one…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Freedom of religion just an afterthought?

As a means of placating churches and other groups deeply concerned about the wider ramifications of the legal redefinition of marriage, the Turnbull Government decided to push the issue of “freedom of religion” into a separate inquiry headed up by former Howard government Minister Philip Ruddock. In effect, the inquiry that was announced on November 22 last took some of the heat out of the debate and “kicked the can up the road” on the important implications the redefinition of marriage would have for people of faith: those whose religious beliefs impel them to hold to the conventional view of…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Parliamentary stampede tramples freedoms

When Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull declared that he cherished religious freedom even above the rights of same-sex couples to marry, many people took him at his word. Write to your local member. However, that view has been marked down by the seeming greater political imperative to push through a marriage redefinition bill before Parliament rises for the end of the year. The PM has had such a horror stretch over recent months it has become apparent that he sees that a victory on redefining marriage will be, if not his saviour, at least his signature piece of legislation for the…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Our clinging to the fringe is stultifying development

Ask any big-city dweller and topping the list of concerns (if they are employed) are paralysing traffic congestion, out-of-reach housing prices leading to commensurately high rental prices, and crime rates. Housing unaffordability and congestion in Australia’s capital cities continue unabated but a fair-dinkum government policy of decentralisation could arrest these problems by encouraging population growth outside the capitals. The problem is threefold. Large-scale immigration, ranging from 176,500 to 299,900 arrivals each year between 2007 and 2016, is placing a strain on capital city infrastructure. Between 2006 and 2016, 77 per cent of Australia’s population growth was confined to the capital…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Turnbull is running on empty as margin shrinks

Soon after 8pm on December 5, it is likely that the long-term fate of the current Parliament will be known. That is the deadline for MPs in the House of Representatives to provide the paperwork on their citizenship credentials to the Parliament. Senators have to get their homework in by December 1. The day after December 5: An empty chamber? No one knows how many MPs will have found potential problems about their status and will therefore need to have them clarified, but it could be half a dozen or more. From that point the MPs in question will have…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Australia is far from fulfilling its potential

The following is the entire text of Tony Abbott’s address to the Global Warming Policy Foundation, London, which he delivered on October 9, 2017. As a former prime minister of this country, of course Mr Abbott requires no introduction. I add only that, after the media hailstorm that his speech provoked, it is as a gesture of justice and a great pleasure to present to readers the actual words Mr Abbott spoke. Tony Abbott It would be wrong to underestimate the strengths of the contemporary West. By objective standards, people have never had better lives. Yet our phenomenal wealth and…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Abbott gets brickbats for exposing house of straw

The speech Tony Abbott delivered to the Global Warming Policy Foundation in London (see the entire text here) has attracted all manner of ad hominem attacks, while few have addressed the validity of his claims. Criticisms of Tony Abbott. Help yourself. Among the most infuriated were climate-change devotees. As the saying goes, “if you’re not getting flak, you’re not over the target”, proving that Abbott had hit a raw nerve by exposing the irrationality of climate-change policies. One of the many points Abbott made was that pronouncements in relation to anthropogenic climate change such as “the science is settled” followed…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Paris still rules in the party room

Malcolm Turnbull and Josh Frydenberg have been lauded as achieving a brilliant policy breakthrough with their bold new energy policy, which will allow the nation to escape the “climate wars” that have dogged the political landscape for the past decade or so. “We’ll always have Paris.” The problem though is that in achieving a policy consensus among all the conflicting players, the competing interests and ideologies that have been at loggerheads over this time, the Coalition also needs to focus on the main game, which is being re-elected. The Government describes its National Energy Guarantee (NEG), designed by five top…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Our barmy Army: all politically correct

A prime minister who cared about this country’s security would take steps to ensure our armed forces were of the highest possible quality. In particular, he would put a stop to the politically correct madness which is seeing fit men being turned away from recruiting offices so the Army can meet a “target” of, it is said, 50 per cent women. Fear us, world! It is reported that the Australian Army has put a ban on male recruits in a bid to increase female ranks – and fitness tests have been slashed to four push-ups and 20 sit-ups, which even…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Xenophon: a Mr Fixit or a political yo-yo?

While there have been many big name independent senators in Australian politics over the past couple of decades, no one has successfully grabbed the limelight on so many diverse issues as Nick Xenophon. And now he proposes to return to home to South Australia and turn that state’s politics on its head. Former Flinders University political scientist Dean Jaensch says Labor and Liberal parties in South Australia are in a state of panic over the prospect of Xenophon running in the coming SA election. “Over almost 50 years of watching politics, I have never before seen a single backbencher dominate…

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EDITORIAL Lessons for Australia in NZ election results

The recent elections in New Zealand saw the defeat of the Labour Party led by media darling Jacinda Ardern, and the probable formation of a coalition government between the incumbent Nationals and the New Zealand First Party, led by the outspoken Winston Peters. NZ Labour’s Jacinda Ardern Ardern was appointed leader of the Labour Party just two months before the election, when it became obvious that her predecessor would lead his party to defeat. She stood as the candidate of Labour’s feminist left, having earlier been on the staff of NZ Labour PM Helen Clark, before serving a stint with…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Assurances on religious freedom needed now

The intervention of former prime minister John Howard into the same-sex “marriage” debate has been one of the most decisive moments in the campaign to date, prompting immediate responses from both Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten, who sought to reassure Australians that they would indeed support religious freedom if the vote was “Yes”. The Prime Minister proffered that, for him, religious freedom was even more important to him than same-sex marriage, while Mr Shorten said he was raised as a person of faith and would move to protect religious freedoms too. But Mr Howard was unmoved. “We have got to…

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AFL GRAND FINAL Bob Santamaria predicted the sunset of Aussie Rules

Bob Santamaria was born in Sydney Road, Brunswick, almost in the shadow of Princes Park, the home ground of the Carlton Football Club. Throughout his life he was a loyal follower and supporter of the Blues. Left to right: Miriam and Brian Peachey, andBob Santamaria at the 1992 Grand Final at the MCG. Australian Rules football meant much more to him than being a one-eyed follower. In 1983 he said: “Throughout my life I have had such a deep regard for the game as exemplifying the very best in the Australian character and I would regard it as a disaster…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS The economic agenda Australia needs won’t come from Mal or Bill

Young men will only have themselves to blame if they cannot find work, because they waste too much time on computer games, according to Dr David Gruen, deputy secretary for economic policy at the Prime Minister’s Department. Playing neatly into the “mediocre male” narrative worming its way through various opinion pieces about workplace gender and ethnicity quotas, Dr Gruen’s pronouncement at the Economic and Social Outlook Conference in July grabbed headlines, distracting attention away from the Government’s lack of a economic strategy to deal with stagnating wages, rising housing and living expenses, rising job insecurity, and unemployment that is far…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Love may be love, but certainly consequences are consequences

Proponents of same-sex marriage repeatedly assert that the question being put to the Australian people is a very simple one – whether any two individuals should be able to marry. Even more puerile is the question whether two people of the same sex should be permitted “to love” one another. It suits the “Yes” case to reduce the questions to such a level of banality, and to refuse to debate consequential issues that are quite thorny, complex and create uncertainties for children in the future who may never be able to know their biological father or mother. In fact, the…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED ‘What’s the question?’ is the crucial question

From September 12 every Australian on the electoral roll will start receiving their voting slips for the same-sex marriage postal survey being conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, without actually knowing what they will be voting for. While the question will be simple and the headline issue will be well canvassed, it is the actual outcome that will be in doubt because the politicians are yet to debate how a new law would work in practice and what will happen to conscientious objectors if the “Yes” vote is successful. From the outset Tony Abbott enraged the same-sex marriage proponents…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Cory Bernardi claims strong flow to his ranks

When South Australian Senator Corey Bernardi announced he was leaving the Liberal Party in February to set up his own party, naysayers described it as a fit of pique and/or a vanity project. Bernardi had become slowly fed up with the Federal Coalition over a number of issues, clashing not only with Malcolm Turnbull but with Tony Abbott before him. But less than half a year later, Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives has emerged as a genuine force on the right of Australian politics and a serious threat to the voter base of the Coalition as it begins the process of registering…

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Cardinal Pell charged: the process is the punishment

The charging of Cardinal George Pell with “historical sexual assault offences”, as the police described them, is the culmination of a lengthy media campaign led by the Fairfax press and the ABC to bring down Cardinal Pell.   The police investigation of allegations against Cardinal Pell was the subject of a recent book, Cardinal: the Rise and Fall of George Pell, written by ABC journalist Louise Milligan, which traversed the matters which are now the subject of court action.   The book contained a number of uncorroborated allegations against Cardinal Pell which date back at least 20 years. None of…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Catholic education: not gone but Gonski’d

Malcolm Turnbull’s “Gonski 2.0” education policy, which was chiefly designed to eliminate one of the Government’s key policy vulnerabilities between itself and Labor, appears to be turning instead into a massive migraine for the Government that will see no relief on election day. What seemed a good idea at the time – conceding a policy victory to Labor on a national, transparent and needs-based education funding model albeit with a bit less money – has not been embraced. For all sorts of reasons, most of which are self-serving and extraordinarily hypocritical, Labor and the Greens and, worst of all, the…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Low job prospects keep a generation at home

A perfect storm of unaffordable housing, high unofficial unemployment rates and negligible wage growth are conspiring to drive down the standard of living in Australia and abroad. It is fostering resentment as many young people are forced to live with their parents well into their 30s. Moreover, their resentment is leading to the rise of populist political parties. Thirty-one per cent of 18 to 34 year olds and 53 per cent of 18 to 24 year olds have never left home, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2012–13 Multi-Purpose Household Survey, an increase from 27 per cent and 47…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED McCain, Keating wade into South China Sea

Veteran U.S. Senator and one-time presidential candidate John McCain’s recent visit to Australia focused attention on the increasingly problematic dilemma Australia faces as the geopolitical interests of China and the United States collide in our region of the planet. Senator McCain, who is chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services, tried to ease Australia’s discomfort by saying that Australia should not be forced to choose between its long-time security relationship with the U.S. and its trade relationship with China. However, he stressed that Australia should consider banding together with other regional countries to conduct collective “freedom of navigation”…

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Is Cardinal Pell just the tallest poppy of them all?

A professional counsellor for more than 20 years, Anne Lastman specialises in dealing with post-abortion grief and helping victims of child sexual abuse. Louise Milligan’s tome, Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell, is no more than an exercise in reputation deconstruction and assassination. Even the title of this book gets the reader interested because it mentions “the rise and fall of George Pell”. This is an assured seller. Ms Milligan has enticed the reader with a title that asserts that His Eminence is indeed guilty. According to the author, history has been analysed, George Pell has been declared…

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Graceless new book takes hatchet to Cardinal Pell

The title of the new book, Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell, says it all: Cardinal Pell is guilty, and must be brought down. Although no charges have been laid against the Cardinal, the author, ABC journalist Louise Milligan, has tried him and found him guilty. With much fanfare, this new book, published by Melbourne University Press, attempts to claim that Cardinal Pell has not only routinely covered up for paedophiles in the Catholic Church, but is himself an abuser. The 370-page book is littered with errors, small and large, which show that the author has little knowledge…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Abbott strives not to join the forgotten people

Of the many virtues Tony Abbott has as a person and a politician, subtlety is not one of them. So, when the former prime minister wrote an eloquent and thoughtful piece for The Australian newspaper on the 75th anniversary of Sir Robert Menzies’ “Forgotten People” speech, there was little disguising Mr Abbott’s comparison of his own situation with the circumstances in which Menzies found himself when he penned the radio broadcast in May 1942. Menzies, Mr Abbott recalled, was an “ex-prime minister; not without a role (he was an MP and on the Advisory War Council), but most likely without a political…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Does budget do heavy lifting or is it “Labor lite”?

After many months of enjoying the political ascendancy and the successful conduit to every form of voter discontent, the Labor Party might just be realising that it is missing the one weapon the Coalition still has in its armoury – access to the Treasury coffers. Scott Morrison’s second budget was aimed at righting the ship of government, which has been floundering virtually since last year’s election campaign that resulted in the Coalition’s majority being slashed to one seat. Even before the budget Labor’s internal frustrations were showing when it rushed out an advertisement to boost its stocks in Queensland featuring…

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NATIONAL CENSUS Typical family: married mum and dad, two kids

The first release of data from last year’s Australian census shows that the typical Australian family consists of a married couple, mum and dad, with two children, buying a family home. The census shows that the typical Australian family is very different from the artificial construct produced by Hollywood, the television networks and the majority of media outlets. Just “typical”. Last year’s $400 million national census was clouded by controversy. It was intended to be the first census in which most people completed it online, and was touted as the next wave in information technology. Millions of Australians were to…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Malcolm Turnbull on the front foot during U.S. VP’s visit

The recent visit of U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence to Australia highlighted the real prospect of some form of military action against rogue state North Korea, with the Turnbull Government also leaving little doubt that Australia would agree to stand by the United States in any actions it decided to take. U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. North Korea has been stepping up its efforts to build a long-range missile capability, and though a recent missile test embarrassingly failed, it has since threatened a “super-mighty pre-emptive strike” over perceived U.S. aggression. In the past such pumped-up ultimatums have…

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The populist wedge: political disaffection comes to Australia

Recently, Craig Milne from the Australian Productivity Council (not the Australian Productivity Commission), reflected on the effect of free trade in Australia over the last 40-plus years.   The result has been an increase in unemployment from around 2 per cent between 1950 and 1970 to a claimed 5.9 per cent today. Youth unemployment is even higher, and the figures are further distorted by the inclusion of people who are engaged in as little as one-plus hour of work a week being classed as employed.   Manufacturing has fallen from 29.7 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 1957…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Liberals’ soul searching too painful to publicise

The post mortem on the Liberal Party’s 2016 federal election campaign is now in, but the review won’t be released publicly because the findings are apparently so raw that senior Liberal figures fear they would only make things worse for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull if they were given a public airing. There may be some common sense in this, given that the Liberal Party actually is hoping to learn some genuine lessons from the disastrous campaign, which saw the loss of 14 seats to Labor and which almost cost Malcolm Turnbull government. Recriminations for recriminations’ sake serve no one. The…

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WEST AUSTRALIAN ELECTION Unions and Emily’s Listers reap WA Labor’s harvest

The drubbing that the Mark McGowan-led Labor Party gave the Barnett government in Western Australia’s recent election will continue the secular slide in public policy. Pro-lifers Margaret Quirk, left, and Kate Doust missed out on ministries. Two ALP pro-lifers, Margaret Quirk and Kate Doust, did not make the cut when it came to appointments in the 17-strong ministry, with 11 of those ministers coming from a trade union background. And Mr McGowan has pledged S1.4 million over the next four years to push the ill-named Safe Schools program into WA secondary schools. This program, which can only be described as…

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Decentralisation: an undeveloped country

In 1891, at the end of Melbourne’s first property boom, the nation’s original capital was the largest city in Australia with almost half a million inhabitants. Melbourne or bust. It constituted 42 per cent of Victoria’s population and, as Geoffrey Blainey observed, “some economists thought that such a centralising of the people in a capital city was quite without precedent and utterly unhealthy”. Imbalance continues Fast-forward 126 years and that “unhealthy” trend has become much worse as 77 per cent of Victoria’s population are now in Melbourne. The vastness of Melbourne is something to behold and the centralising of Victoria’s…

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WESTERN AUSTRALIA Barnett election wipe-out delivers WA to Labor

The West Australian state election on March 11 followed the trend of recent elections in which the incumbent Liberal Party was overwhelmingly defeated by the resurgent ALP. The ALP in WA is led by a former Navy lawyer and Kim Beazley protégé, Mark McGowan. Incoming WA Premier Mark McGowan Although the defeat of Colin Barnett’s Liberal government had been widely predicted, the extent of Labor’s win had not. Although counting had not finished as News Weekly went to press, it was anticipated that Labor would secure about 40 seats in the 59-seat Parliament, doubling its representation. The Liberal vote collapsed…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Millennials feel they’ve been left out in the cold

It is a sobering thought that the cohort of first-time voters at the last election were not even born when Paul Keating was Prime Minister; that the September 11 terrorist attacks occurred when they were preschoolers; and that the John Howard era coincided with their primary school years. There is much discussion among commentators of the courageous decision-making during the Hawke/Keating era of economic reform or the Costello/Howard tax reforms, but for the “Millennials” and those young voters in their 20s, these reforms are for the history books. The prevailing political wisdom has been that young people are swayed in…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED People and renewables get on till pay day arrives

In the battle between renewable energy and conventional forms of energy such as coal, renewables will win the public popularity contest every time – right up until households and industry are confronted by episodes of power failure and/or soaring power prices. That is the reality of the political debate that is occurring at a federal level, with Labor clinging to its quixotic quest for 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030, and the Turnbull Government adopting an “agnostic” policy on energy sources, but one that backs households and industry over advocacy for any particular energy form. Recent episodes in the…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Splintering of support gets under PM’s skin

The continuing fracturing of Australian politics is symptomatic of an international phenomenon, the only difference being that Australia is coming relatively late to the party. Australia is not like Italy or France, but the situation here is increasingly reflecting an electorate that is no longer rusted on to Labor or the Coalition, which have dominated post-World War II politics. In recent months we have seen the re-emergence of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation as a major force in Australian politics, just as Cory Bernardi decided finally to split from the Liberal Party to form his own Australian Conservatives group. South Australia-based…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Jeers at suggestion we not be fringe dwellers

The recent call by Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce for young people to consider “moving west” as a solution to their housing affordability predicament met with predictable howls of indignation from the commentariat. “Houses will always be incredibly expensive if you can see the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, just accept that,” Mr Joyce was reported saying. “What people have got to realise is that houses are much cheaper in Tamworth, houses are much cheaper in Armidale, houses are much cheaper in Toowoomba.” We cling to the coast like limpets. The Deputy PM said he moved out west…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Greens’ footprints all over travel claims

  Senators Rachel Siewert and Richard Di Natale made it into the top 10 travel rorters. The latest travel expenses scandal that has engulfed the Federal Government over the summer break is symptomatic of the great divide between voters and their elected representatives, yet politicians over many years now seem incapable of reforming themselves. Voters have zero tolerance for politicians who exploit their generous expense and travel allowances, and have less patience with politicians fiddling the system for a few thousand dollars than the misuse of tens of millions of taxpayers’ dollars in public service contracting that also occurs on…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Coalition limps through year of frustrations

The Turnbull Government ends 2016 in a hopeful but precarious position, managing to make the most of a dysfunctional Parliament but uncertain about how it will manage the rest of its term. Malcolm Turnbull’s great political gamble earlier this year – holding an historic double-dissolution election to clear out the Senate and gain a working majority in the House of Representatives – failed spectacularly. He merely managed to swap one group of rogue crossbench senators for another, and reduce his majority in the house to a sliver. The result has meant serious policy and legislative changes are near impossible while…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Triggs on the way out, but her weapon (18C) must go too

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has indicated that his Government remains intent on pursuing its defence of free speech agenda in the Australian Parliament in the face of a concerted but at times absurd campaign by the left to curb it. The highly partisan president of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Professor Gillian Triggs, has been told by the Prime Minister that her term will not be renewed when it expires next year. Gillian Triggs The move has been welcomed across the Coalition as a result of Professor Triggs’ ongoing mishandling of the commission’s briefs. Professor Triggs’ tenure has been plagued…

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Commission’s “Get Pell” campaign fails on facts

The credibility of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has been tainted by a submission by counsel assisting that repeats unsustainable allegations of cover-up by Cardinal George Pell. The Cardinal rebutted the allegations systematically, both in torrid cross-examination last March and more recently, through his legal counsel. Other submissions to the royal commission support his evidence. Cardinal George Pell While the submission by counsel assisting has been widely reported in the media, the responses of Cardinal Pell and others who know the facts have been ignored, suggesting either that someone “leaked” the submission, or that there…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Triggs in the gun: loaded section 18C to get overhaul

After months of declaring section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act a side issue, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has launched an inquiry that is likely to lead to a change in the law and possibly an overhaul of the Australian Human Rights Commission. Ironically, a key culture wars issue that both John Howard and Tony Abbott managed to avoid, has become a Turnbull issue as a result of persistent pressure from News Limited – The Australian newspaper in particular – an incompetent Human Rights Commission, and a high-profile case that the Federal Court eventually threw out and that appeared to…

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Cardinal rebuts commission’s ‘Get Pell’ campaign

The credibility of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has been tainted by a submission by counsel assisting that repeats unsustainable allegations of cover-up by Cardinal George Pell. The Cardinal rebutted the allegations systematically, both in torrid cross-examination last March and more recently, through his legal counsel. His evidence has been supported by other submissions to the royal commission. Cardinal George Pell While the submission by counsel assisting has been widely reported in the media, the responses of Cardinal Pell and others who know the facts have been ignored, suggesting either that someone “leaked” the submission,…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Out of the shadows of the backbench …

Tony Abbott’s emergence out of the shadows as an antagonist inside the Coalition is a headache for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, and one that is not likely to go away soon. Under the pretext of protecting his legacy as prime minister on gun laws, Mr Abbott has shown that he is prepared to use even the full glare of Parliament to defend his record when pressed, regardless that in the process his words may also expose the shortcomings of his prime minister. Most senior members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery remain sneering detractors of Mr Abbott and completely dismissive of…

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MANUFACTURING Australia’s once and future car industry

    WHAT HAPPENED TO THE CAR INDUSTRY? by Ian Porter, with cartoons by Mark Knight and John Spooner Scribe, Melbourne, 2016 Paperback: 128 pages ISBN: 9781925321500 AUD$24.99 Reviewed by Jeffry Babb      Always back the horse named self-interest, son. It’ll be the only one trying. Jack “The Big Fella” Lang,Premier of NSW, 1925–27, 1930–32   Tattooed on the heart of every crusading editor are the immortal words of C.P. Scott, editor and owner of the Manchester Guardian, Edwardian England’s foremost organ of progressive liberal opinion. Scott said: “Comment is free but the facts are sacred.” What Happened to…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Coalition still gridlocked despite foreign success

When Malcolm Turnbull wrested the leadership of the Liberal Party and the Prime Ministership from Tony Abbott in September last year he was gifted with enormous goodwill from the electorate to be the Prime Minister to break the cycle of negative politics and the leadership merry-go-round that had plagued Australian politics for close to a decade. Yet, despite getting some recent runs on the board, a year on Mr Turnbull is still struggling to break free of the same gridlock as Prime Minister as hindered his three predecessors. Even Mr Turnbull’s success abroad does not seem to translate to success…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Plebiscite debate will be civil despite “Shrill” Bill

The fate of the historic plebiscite into same-sex marriage is in the hands of Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, who has to choose between principle and political opportunism. The plebiscite remains overwhelmingly the most popular mechanism for deciding whether to make a social change that for a large proportion of the Australian community remains a massive break from the traditional concept of marriage. The Coalition under Malcolm Turnbull took the plebiscite option to the election, and the Liberal and Nationals parties are, apart from a few exceptions, in favour of taking the issue to the people. However, Mr Shorten continues to…

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS Chinese Australians deplore Mao celebration

A large number of Australians of Chinese descent have signed a petition deploring concerts being held in Sydney and Melbourne in September, to mark the 40th anniversary of the death of Chinese communist leader Mao Zedong. A flyer promoting the concerts, written in Chinese, says that Mao “brought 76 years of peace and stable development for the Chinese people, until today where China has been restored to the status of an international major power”. Shangxiao Han, who migrated to Australia in 1988, just before the Tiananmen Square Massacre, recalled the tens of millions of people murdered as a result of…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Malcolm’s 25-point action plan is a bit dusty

Malcolm Turnbull sought to open the new Parliament on a positive note, unveiling a 25-point action plan for his Government. The 25-point plan – which consists of 25 pieces of legislation – was promoted as an opportunity for the Government to reset the agenda and shake off the critics who were claiming that the Turnbull Government was drifting and directionless. In reality, 23 of the 25 bills in the so-called “battle plan” were old pieces of legislation that have been held over from the previous parliament. The critics were not placated and jumped on Mr Turnbull, suggesting 25 was way too…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Tony Abbott: regrets, he’s had a few, and those few he mentions

Much to the chagrin of his numerous vocal detractors, Tony Abbott has been a disciplined and constructive ex-leader of the Liberal Party through the election period and beyond. Tony Abbott recognises he could have done better as PM. He was consistently and strongly supportive of the return of the Turnbull Government, he campaigned in marginal seats despite a serious attempt by the left to defeat him in his own seat of Warringah, and has not said anything publicly that would suggest a hint of undermining the Government. This is not to say that Mr Abbott would agree with everything the…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Despite bumbling, youth detention inquiry is needed

The first major decision in the new term of the Turnbull Government was made in haste, without consultation and based on a visceral response to an ABC TV program. Co-royal commissioners Margaret White and Mick Gooda The Royal Commission into Juvenile Justice has been almost universally welcomed as a means of getting to the heart of revelations raised on the ABC’s Four Corners of mistreatment including tear gassing, hooding and restraint chairs. But the calling of the royal commission has reflected badly on the Government, with its selected commissioner having to resign even before he started. In fact most commentators…

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ELECTION ROUNDUP Captain Titanic shuffles deck chairs

As Malcolm Turnbull pulled the smoking remnants of his majority from the fire of the election, he deftly moved to disappoint conservatives by making no room in his new cabinet for age and wisdom, merely shifting around some of the deck chairs. Rather he has extended the exile of some of the Coalition’s most experienced members in Tony Abbott, Kevin Andrews and Eric Abetz. This even as the poster boy for Mr Turnbull’s generation of the future, Wyatt Roy, was shown the exit.   “Full steam ahead, mates!” To say that there is lingering resentment within the Coalition over the…

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CANBERRA OBSERVED Add two to cabinet as a conservative estimate

As the aftershocks of Malcolm Turnbull’s poor showing at the election continue to rumble through the government, there are glimmers of hope that the voice of the conservatives will not be completely sidelined in the Government’s second term. Mr Turnbull opted to keep his frontbench largely intact, resisting entreaties to bring in more conservatives.   Matt Canavan Experienced MPs like Kevin Andrews, Eric Abetz and, of course, former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, continue to be underutilised on the backbench, though Prime Minister Turnbull has elevated ACT Senator Z