The Ungracious Right!

Voters in the Wentworth Electorate this coming Saturday (October 20) will have their say on the toppling of their popular member Malcolm Turnbull as Australia’s 29th Prime Minister in a By-election vital to the fortunes of the government.

If Turnbull backed David Sharma does not win the two-party preferred vote, there will be an unstable “hung” parliament which could precipitate an early general election if the Coalition is then no longer able to control a working majority in the House of Representatives. Perhaps, the sooner the people are consulted the sooner the bitter wrangling within the Liberal Party will end.
After Malcolm Turnbull took office, the Coalition right faction, powered by the Conservative Media, has carped at pretty well everything he has or hasn’t done.

  • He was even blamed him for the crashing of the Australian Bureau of Statistics Website on the evening of the 2016 Census and for the use of a Postal Ballot to assess the will of the people on Gay-Marriage.
  •  When he improved funding for the National Disability Scheme, adopted Gonski recommendations on education funding, and imposed a fiscally responsible levy on the major banks, he was accused of abandoning core Liberal principles, and implementing Labor policies.
  • He was criticized for being a Republican, and then abandoning his principles because he would not advance the Republican cause during the life of the present beloved Queen.
  • The Right strongly disagreed with the bipartisan agreement with Labor to work toward constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders by holding a referendum, yet accused Turnbull of a lack of leadership when he abandoned the idea after the Uluru Statement from the Heart created controversy over their desire to have a voice in the formulation of Indigenous Policies.
  • When he sought to uphold ministerial standards of conduct in the wake of Barnaby Joyce’s indiscretions, he was mocked for sermonizing.
  • He was repeatedly taunted when a particular poll showed the Coalition trailing Labor narrowly in two party preference terms, even although they were consistently ahead in the primary vote, and Turnbull always polled ahead of Shorten as preferred Prime Minister. He was blamed because the Coalition was behind in this poll result when the disunity the Right engendered was largely responsible.
  • It has been the Right, not Turnbull, who has launched the present anti-ABC campaign, for not promoting Conservative propaganda.
  • But it was the Right’s obdurate stance on Climate Change that has proved to be Turnbull’s Achilles Heel. Private enterprise has not been willing to invest now in environmentally damaging coal mining, and new coal-fired electricity generation plants. If the government were to fund such expensive constructions it might reduce electricity prices for consumers, but at what cost to tax-payers?
  • The Right has admitted to using Climate Change Denial as an weapon to gain an electoral advantage, but what price will we pay by way of environmental damage if the Climate Change scientists are correct and we do not meet reasonable targets for emission reduction?

You might have thought that the perverse Right would have softened their anti-Turnbull rhetoric in the wake of their success in deposing him, and perhaps even thanked him for his contributions.

But No! Despite not being able to give a credible reason for replacing him, and despite trumpeting the many significant economic achievements of his administration to assert the superiority of Coalition economic management over Labor, his many detractors have continued to belittle and blame him.

Ungracious in Victory indeed!!

• They blamed him for his own demise by not contesting the second leadership ballot, saying he abandoned the Party by resigning.
• He was blamed for endorsing David Sharma as the Liberal candidate for Wentworth in the face of Scott Morrison’s wish for a female candidate.
• Turnbull’s only criticism of his opponents has been a very reasonable observation that deposed Prime Ministers who stay around after their defeat to create dissent were like miserable ghosts.
• They even hold him responsible for his Son Alex suggesting that Wentworth voters should not vote for the Liberal candidate at Saturday’s by-election.
• There is little doubt that it will be Turnbull who is held accountable should the Liberal vote fall short to win office for David Sharma.

For me the issue I’m most concerned about at the next general election is the culture of bullying, particularly against women, that has developed within the Liberal Party.

I really think that this is out of character for the Coalition, one that has been created by the intransigence of the Right in their intent to be rid of Turnbull, and to gain ascendency over the small l faction of the Liberal Party.
Promoting this culture has been Alan Jones with his aggressive and disgusting, bullying attacks. I only wish Australians were able to vote him out of his arm-chair critic office. He is always right, and will never budge, but perhaps it is time politicians stopped meekly deferring to him.

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Is it time to introduce four year federal parliamentary terms?

Seven changes of Australia’s Prime Minister in the past eleven years is good reason to re-visit the debate on extending the term of the House of Representatives from three to four years in harmony with the terms for most State Parliaments, even although it would require a referendum to effect the change.

The present average term of office of about 2 years 7 months, dictates that governments are swayed by short-term political expediency considerations, and perhaps unable to implement tough decisions in the longer-term interest of Australia.

The Australian Constitution permits Prime Ministers to call a federal election at any time during maximum parliamentary terms of three years. As a result some terms of office have been less than 18 months, half the permitted span.

Inevitably party leaders come under intense scrutiny, both inside and outside of parliament, in the lead-up to elections. The never ending blow by blow accounts of factional wars, and bitter feuds between powerful sectoral interests of the past several years may be a bonanza for the media, but they undermine public confidence in our political system, and unsettle our multicultural and diverse communities of voters.

Some would argue that longer terms postpone our democratic right to change governments that do not perform to expectations. However elections do not necessarily result in a change in government, there having been only nine changes in office since federation, and Australia is out of step with a move to longer terms internationally.

 

https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/rp0001/01RP04

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It’s time now for Everyday Australians to have their say!

Almost ever since Malcolm Turnbull became Prime Minister three years ago, Conservative Media personalities have been relentlessly gunning for him.

Tony Abbott, their crack marksman, despite initial scruples, has been precise and effective in his attacks.

Respected journalist Peter Hartcher’s particularly vitriolic Easter diatribe in the Sydney Morning Herald on Malcolm Turnbull, accurately predicted his imminent downfall.

The government’s May Budget showing significant improvement in Australia’s economy, record growth in jobs, and tax cuts for middle-income earners, was well received, and appeared to lift their popularity.

However, the final assault came soon after, in August, just when it seemed that Josh Frydenberg was successfully negotiating acceptance of the National Energy Guarantee with the States. The Coal promoting so-called Monash Group of dissidents, again ramped up their attacks on the NEG,  to the frustration of Malcolm Turnbull and to widespread public annoyance, who collectively sighed “Here we go again”.

This was the setting that prompted the endlessly conciliatory Malcolm Turnbull to lose patience and call a Liberal Party vote on his Leadership. Although he easily won the initial ballot against challenger Peter Dutton 48 to 35, it was the beginning of the end, as some members shifted their support and urged others to do the same. One of the main defectors, Steve Ciobo, has sought to justify his lack of loyalty by claiming that Malcolm Turnbull lacked the ability to sell the government’s successes to the electorate.

When Malcolm Turnbull declined to contest the ballot, and left politics, Tony Abbott cruelly charged him with falling on his own sword, and abandoning the party. He piously and presumptuously declared an end to the political assassin. Now that Turnbull has gone, it may be mission accomplished for him, so he may now wish to repair his tarnished image to become a great Liberal peace-maker, but will the electorate believe him? Will an ageing Tony Abbott still be useful to the Conservative Media?

The frequent turnover of Prime Ministers since John Howard is worrying. It is hugely expensive and diverts the attention of politicians from the needs of the population to their own interests.

What was the secret of Howard’s longevity? A significant factor may well be his somewhat controversial cordial relationship with influential 2GB  opinion-maker Alan Jones. Of course John Howard was a shrewd leader who built his policies around family and mainly conservative values. He was a “can-do” leader who listened, and did his share of pork-barrelling the year round. But does this mean that to be successful, a leader must kowtow to media “arm-chair” critics, who themselves may be failed would-be politicians.

Initiated by Kevin Rudd, the Labor Party has modified its rules for changing its leadership, by giving branch members a 50% vote with the Labor Caucus. This may not prevent future leadership ructions, but it is a more democratic arrangement, and may perhaps prove less vulnerable to media manipulation. Labor is also open to the question of extending parliamentary terms to a fixed four years.

With the Coalition resisting any change, it will be interesting for onlookers to see if Labor can become the party of stability, and the Coalition the party of divided factions.

 

 

 

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Where did Malcolm Turnbull go wrong?

  • He challenged an incompetent Tony Abbott for the leadership at the behest of the Party, earning his ire and insurrection; despite pious vows to the contrary.
  • He wounded the ego of armchair critics and vocal conservative media opinion makers such as Alan Jones, and others, by ignoring their gratuitous advice.
  • He deviated from the more extreme conservative positions of his predecessor.
  • He tried to maintain unity by appeasing his opponents and moving to the right.
  • His dignified statesmanship, and legislative success, annoyed his detractors.
  • He set and practised prudent ethical standards for his ministry.
  • He tried too hard. His generosity to the party was not appreciated.
  • Frustrated, in the end, as Tony Abbott cruelly observed, he fell on his sword by calling for a vote on his leadership. His own supporters, urged on by the media could not then resist the temptation to further their own ambitions, by calling for a leadership spill.

Malcolm Turnbull, the 29th Prime Minister of Australia from the 15th September 2015, until the 25th August 2018, held the position for three weeks off three years. His dismissal continues the pattern of Prime Ministerial instability.

Australia’s record is six Prime Ministers, but seven changes, in the past nearly eleven years, since the 3rd December 2007 when John Howard lost not only the election, but his own seat, largely for outstaying his welcome. This is a leadership ballot about once in every eighteen months. (18.4)

This in stark contrast with the stability of the office during John Howard’s reign. In fact he was Australia’s second longest serving PM, from 11 March 1996 until 3 December 2007, a period of 11 years and 267 days.

Ruling parties are able to dump unsatisfactory leaders mid-term, but the practice can be abused for political gain, and serves to increase rather than settle party disunity.  Kevin Rudd believed his dismissal was unjustified and was able to reform the rules for the election of the leader of the Labor Party. The Coalition Party to their cost has not followed suit.

Is this transition to shorter terms an ongoing feature of Australian politics and if so, why? Leadership turmoil may be a bonanza for the media, but it comes at a cost to tax-payers, and it diverts the focus of politicians away from community needs, to advancing their own reputations and career prospects.

Ousted Malcolm Turnbull has been a dignified and effective leader,  but in spite of this he too has been brought down by concerted destabilisation from a coterie of disaffected colleagues, egged-on by some sections of the media. Ever since assuming the mantle, he was ahead of Bill Shorten as preferred Prime Minister in the polls. This is now irrelevant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Turnbull’s leadership reaffirmed in Coalition vote.

Conservative media guru, former Abbott Chief-of Staff Peta Credlin, is jubilantly now expecting Malcolm Turnbull to be outed as Prime Minister within days.

The bumbling, usually unsmiling would-be assassin of Malcolm Turnbull, Tony Abbott, when asked for his take on the events of the day, could scarcely wipe an awkward grin from his face.

Leadership contender Peter Dutton, who also rarely smiles, received surprisingly strong  support with 35 votes to Turnbull’s 48, because of his conservative leanings.

Several Prime Ministerial leadership ballots in recent years have shown that it takes a second poll to unseat an incumbent leader, suggesting that Malcolm Turnbull’s present reprieve is likely to be temporary.

But can the agitators for change be sure that political events will play-out in the coming months, prior to the next election, as they plan? After all it is party members, not the paparazzi, who risk their careers at every election.

It is a fact of political life that party disunity is suicidal. Unless there is substantial consensus, the changes a new leader initiates may aggravate rather than diminish party turmoil.  Are party members prepared to lose their seats if there is a swing against them?

Peter Dutton is one who could easily lose his seat at the next election. I believe he is a man of integrity, but he holds the Queensland seat of Dickson with the narrowest of margins, lacks charisma and is seen by many as inflexible and harsh in dealing with delicate immigration issues.

Foremost amongst possible contenders in a leadership spill is the forceful and articulate Treasurer Scott Morrison. If elected, he is likely to be a more ruthless, less conciliatory leader than Turnbull. Perhaps this is what is needed.

The “get Turnbull” movement is gaining momentum. Despite protestations to the contrary, the chief insurgent is sixty-year old former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who changes tack from day to day to create embarrassment for the PM.

But is he still a well man? Over the last decade his speech has become more hesitant, his logic more flawed, and he is prone to stupid and insensitive gaffes. He now has mask-like facies, grimaces, and rolls his tongue in a disconcerting manner. Furthermore some video clips show an intermittent nodding head tremor and his gait is more laboured.

Might these features be indicative of the onset of post-boxing Parkinson’s Disease? He has a right to privacy, but as he continues to place himself in the public-eye, the electorate deserves to understand his situation.

He could avoid more public ridicule by gracefully standing down from politics before the next election. Will he?

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How should Australian communities respond to Eurydice Dixon’s murder?

In Greek mythology, Eurydice was an oak nymph or one of the daughters of Apollo. She was the wife of Orpheus, who tried to bring her back from the dead with his enchanting music. (Wikipedia)

Her’s was an exotic name, derived from Greek mythology.  Her death, however, was more appalling than any Greek tragedy, because it was all too true. She was just 22 years old.

Her body was found by a passer-by in Princes Park, North Carlton, at 3 am in the morning of Wednesday June 12, 2018. She had been raped and murdered walking home after performing a one-woman stand-up gig “At Hom”, at the Highlander Bar in Melbourne CBD. She was almost there!

Her attacker, 19 year old James Todd, who is alleged to have an autistic spectrum disorder, confessed to police the next day, and is being held in custody.

There has been a very public outpouring of grief and anger since, some ill-directed at police warnings about the dangers of women walking alone at night. The article below is a pertinent, well-written response to such criticism.

Where to direct your hate and hurt over Eurydice Dixon’s death
By Madonna King
20 June 2018 — 10:07am

https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/where-to-direct-your-hate-and-hurt-over-eurydice-dixon-s-death-20180620-p4zmjm.html

It is one thing to assert that every woman should be able to safely walk the streets at any time of day or night; but quite another to guarantee that they can. Particularly in the early hours of the morning, or very late at night, when many of those wandering the streets are likely to be inebriated, or disturbed, and there are few awake to help anyone in distress.

May I offer a suggestion that could improve the safe return home of entertainers, staff, and customers without their own car, or unable to drive, and when cabs are not available or affordable?

Surely there is an obligation for pubs, clubs and bars that remain open past the hours of public transport, to provide safe transport, perhaps in the form of a curtesy bus. 

Of course party-goers with the assistance of their loved-ones, need always to take responsibility for their own actions, and to plan for a safe and timely return, before leaving home.

 

 

Posted in Community Issues | Tagged ,

Welcome precious little “Seb”

Sebastian Curtis Scott Joyce was born on Monday April 16, 2018 at Armidale Public Hospital, the son of former Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and his former staffer Vikki Campion. He is doubly precious, as the only son to Barnaby, and as a child to Vikki after she had been told that she might never conceive.

 

Lovely Baby Pictures and his story can be found on “now to love” in the link below.

https://www.nowtolove.com.au/news/local-news/barnaby-joyce-vikki-campion-baby-48951

Bella Brennan’s article, written June 04, 2018 is titled:

Meet Sebastian Joyce: Barnaby Joyce and Vikki Campion’s baby son.
He’s Australia’s most talked-about baby… And he’s just beautiful.

 

I welcomed what I thought was a tactfully presented Channel Seven interview on Sunday Night,  of Vikki Campion and Barnaby Joyce, presenting their perspective on the unfortunate predicament their liaison has created. They have been widely and severely  censured for their relationship and for accepting payment for this appearance, but I believe they are justified to do so, in return for baring their souls to the nation.

The programme ratings were not as high as had been anticipated in view of their high profile over an extended period, but still over one million viewers tuned in,  perhaps more out of curiosity than anything else. Or was it voyeurism? For me there was no pleasure in witnessing the discomfiture of Australia’s former Deputy Prime Minister, and his former staffer, but I felt deep sympathy for them in their endeavours to balance their religious scruples with their ill-considered, but very human, predicament.

 

An important issue their story raises is the question of abortion, especially for those of the Catholic faith.  I admire them for respecting the life of their embryonic son when a timely abortion would have allowed them to keep their affair private, and would have avoided the harsh criticism and humiliation they have received. Their reward however is baby Seb to cherish and nurture.

The next issue Barnaby Joyce will face is whether to divorce his wife, contrary to the teachings of the church. It he does not, how can he adequately support Vikki and Sebastian? I would hope that Barnaby and Vikki will be supported by both the public and the church as they work out this no-win/ no-win situation for themselves.

The Republic of Ireland May 25 2018 referendum on abortion provides hope that democracy will prevail in the Catholic church; and that the hierarchy will soften their traditional anti-contraception, anti-abortion and anti-divorce stances that have imposed tortuous choices on their adherents. Might the church not make a distinction between ideals to strive for, and reality?

The approximately 4.8 million, predominantly Catholic, population of Ireland has long suffered from strict adherence to these moral codes, braking rather than uniting marriages, creating poverty for many, and leading to a massive exodus from Irish shores.

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Posted in Community Issues | Tagged ,

Can State and Federal politicians agree on the National Energy Guarantee?

I’m fed-up with the often extremely partisan debate over energy. Now after more than a decade of endless wrangling, the end could be in sight.

This past week the even-tempered and moderate Minister for Energy Josh Frydenberg met with his State counterparts to consider how to implement the Coalition’s  National Energy Guarantee (NEG) plan, taking into account the differences between the States of existing energy infrastructure, and their philosophical commitment to emissions reduction. 

It is a plan that follows on from the independent 2017 National Electricity Market Review requested by the COAG Energy Ministers in October 2016, and conducted by Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel. 

In essence it suggests guidelines for retailers to chose a rational mix of energy generation sources that would both enable Australia to meet its Paris agreement emissions reduction target whilst also ensuring a reliable and secure supply of both dispatchable and renewable energy, as cheaply as possible for both consumer and taxpayer.

Whilst agreement was not reached at this latest meeting of Energy Ministers, there was consensus on the need to continue discussions, and a further meeting has been set for August.

A quick resolution of differences is not likely with a federal election looming in the next year that could see Labor win office, and pushing for a more ambitious emission reduction target.

Even then it could take a couple of years to implement. In that time further developments, particularly in battery technology, could lead to more changes in the requirements for electricity generation and storage.

Our politicians, charged with the responsibility of ongoing market planning, must avoid doctrinaire positions, embrace the changing science, and create flexible solutions for all-Australians.

Cross-party and cross-factional agreement is essential before private enterprise will risk raising the capital needed to construct appropriate facilities.

 

https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/national/2018/04/20/national-energy-guarantee-agreement/

http://www.coagenergycouncil.gov.au/publications/energy-security-board-update

 

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Is Turnbull’s inconspicuous opponent The National Civic Council (NCC)?

The National Civic Council, founded by Catholic layman Mr B.A. Santamaria in the 1940’s, over the years has enunciated a political philosophy based on pro-Catholic values.

His policies were devised to oppose the growing influence of the atheistic Communist Party in Australian politics, and their infiltration of Australian Trade Unions.

The NCC inspired the rise of Industrial groups within the Australian Labor Party dedicated to opposing Communism when the ALP wouldn’t.

Prime Minister Bob Menzies exploited the situation by portraying Labor as being soft on Communism, and provocatively moved to ban the Communist Party, a change that the  Leader of the ALP, Herbert Evatt, strongly opposed for fear of undermining civil liberties.

The issue irrevocably split the ALP when the Democratic Labor Party (DLP), a political affiliate of the NCC was formed. It did not have the political clout to win office itself, but it succeeded in denying Labor office for many years.

Over 60 years later it is the Coalition’s turn to face office-denying dissent within its ranks. The political spokesman for the Coalition revolt has been the former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, going back on his promise not to cause trouble for the new leadership.

My motivation for writing this post is a desire to understand why he has changed his mind and is now hell-bent on opposing Malcolm Turnbull at every turn, despite the electoral damage it is causing. I have always thought well of Tony Abbott and so have found this behaviour galling.

With an impeccable Catholic pedigree, a Jesuit education, and seminary training,  it was not surprising that he espoused NCC philosophy when he switched from the priesthood to politics. As the 28th Prime Minister of Australia, he always sought to implement policies consistent with NCC philosophy.

I suspect that although Catholic, Malcolm Turnbull has not continued on with some of Tony Abbott’s policies, and has failed to always uphold NCC ideology, especially in regard to family values, because he prefers to lead by consensus and negotiation.

If he is to be re-elected, Malcolm Turnbull has the almost impossible task of countering a re-invigorated Labor Party, neutralizing NCC-inspired opposition within the Coalition, refuting strident conservative media criticism, and persuading a large Conservative voting block not to desert the Coalition.

Australian’s have a strong sense of fairness, and there may be many who will perceive the constant attacks on his leadership, as ethically wrong!

https://national-civic-council.org.au/about-us/

http://www.dlp.org.au/about/history/

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Mental health emergencies and community safety.

It is estimated that 4 million Australians will experience a mental health problem each year.

The bill for this year on mental health is $4.3 billion including $120 million on mental health research.

On the 27th November 2017 the Health Minister Greg Hunt announced a $53 million boost to new research funding of 47 projects through the NHMRC.

https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/media/releases/2017/53-million-find-better-mental-health-treatments-and-care

It has been calculated that Australia spends about 300 times as much on cancer research as it does on research into mental health issues. Yet mental illnesses cause more disruption to the lives of family members, friends and associates who have to cope with their emotional and behavioural instability, than does cancer.

In a less tolerant era, doctors were able to certify dangerous psychotic patients as insane, institutionalizing them against their will, and protecting society from their irrational behaviour.  Not so today.

Most patients can be successfully managed as outpatients, but the risk is that some will stop taking their medication, and refuse to present for the treatment they need. Should they also consume alcohol, and/or use drugs, it is highly likely that they will end up creating a public disturbance, and come to the attention of the police.

Police methods designed to apprehend criminals and law-breakers may be excessive, and inappropriate for the management of disturbed but non-psychotic mentally-ill patients, particularly if unarmed.

https://tedablogdotcom.wordpress.com/2015/01/29/how-should-our-police-handle-the-mentally-disturbed/

For this reason it may be wise to more often involve ambulance based paramedics acting under the direction of psychiatrists.

I would hope our government would allocate more research funding, and establish a national panel to formulate best policy for the management of psychiatric emergencies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and that a national panel could be appointed to formulate best medical policies.

 

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