Let’s not give-up on the concept of an indigenous political voice!

In suggesting the creation of small representative indigenous advisory body in Canberra, amounting, tongue in cheek, to a third house of parliament, I fear I crystallized opposition to the bipartisan proposal initiated in December 2015, for a referendum on formal recognition of Indigenous and Torres Strait Islanders in the Constitution.

The impetus for advancing this idea was the moving Uluru Convocation Statement “From the Heart”, in which the Uluru delegates called for a First Nation Voice to be established enabling them to have a say in how to address the problems they face.

The posts in this blog rarely attract more than a handful of readers, but enable me to contribute to national debates.

This one, ” A voice and a veto for indigenous Australians? A third house of parliament?” was no exception:


To my surprise however, it drew immediate public attention the next day, the concept of a “Third House” being labelled a step too far. Furthermore, it has been cited as the reason for the Coalition government abandoning their plan to hold a referendum which risks exacerbating the division within the Liberal Party from the conservative right.

I regret this outcome as a missed opportunity to meet the legitimate aspirations of Indigenous Australians. Clearly however, the present parliamentary system will not be changed. But might it not be possible for a representative Indigenous Assembly to be established, perhaps in Alice Springs, in which matters of concern can be debated, and referred as necessary, to the Federal Parliament.

I would hope there will be a continuing national debate on this issue.



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Negative gearing – an issue for Labor to win the next Australian federal election?

A carefully crafted proposal by Labor to curb negative gearing concessions to investment property owners gained wide acceptance in the lead-up to the last election 2 July 2016 won narrowly by the Coalition.

I made a contribution to the debate then in the following article:


18 months later, it is likely that there will be another election for the 46th parliament of Australia called sometime between August 2018 and May 2019. Not surprisingly Labor is calling the government to account for ignoring Treasury advice that contradicted Coalition Party election spin that the measure would risk a collapse in housing prices.

Adding weight to Labor’s arguments has been an economic research paper on Negative Gearing presented by academics from the University of Melbourne Economics Department, Yunho Cho, Shuyun Li and Lawrence Uren, at a Reserve Bank of Australia Symposium on the November 17, 2017. It is too highly technical to be understandable by most. Furthermore, the authors state that the 55 page document is preliminary and incomplete, and ask that it not be cited.  It suggests a welfare gain of 1.5% for the Australian Economy by eliminating negative gearing, and benefits to renters and owner-occupiers, at the expense of landlords, especially those who are young and on high incomes.

Federal Financial Services Minister Kelly O’Dwyer has pointed out the inconsistency of arguing that houses would become significantly more affordable, but house prices would be little impacted by abolishing negative gearing.

Despite this, Labor’s policy-makers are mindful of how rises in house prices especially in Sydney and Melbourne, have far outstripped the consumer price index increase over the past 30 years, creating in some locations, what can be fairly described as a dangerous property “bubble”.

They consider curtailing investors’ tax concession advantages in property ownership (about one third of the property market) compared with owner occupiers (two-thirds of the market) to be a responsible revenue raising measure with the fringe benefit of diverting wealth to the less affluent. But will the issue be a vote winner for Labor at the next election? Voters must judge how effective the changes are likely to be, and whether or not they will be advantaged or disadvantaged by them.

In the recent debate, property investors have often been unfairly portrayed as having exploited their tax-breaks. Some undoubtedly have, through interest-only borrowings that maximize their tax deductions but I understand that the ATO has restricted such loans, and I would applaud measures that place reasonable limitations on negative gearing.

Important points which should be made in defence of property investors:

  • property investment for rental income, provides housing for those unable to afford home ownership, reducing the burden on the government.
  • investors have substantial overhead costs, and it may be several years before their investment becomes profitable from the rental income they receive.
  • although owner-occupiers receive no tax break from their loan, they receive an immediate financial benefit from not having to pay rent.
  • non investors may be envious of the present 50% reduction in tax on property investment capital gains, but owner-occupiers have no capital gain obligation at all, even on properties in excess of $1 million.
  • it is probable that the absence of any capital gains tax on owner-occupier homes is an incentive to speculative property trading in prestige areas of Sydney and Melbourne. In this market it is likely that fewer homes would be purchased for long-term rental, since they could be damaged by careless tenants.

Whether abolition of negative gearing on existing houses in combination with an increase of 25% from 50 to 75% in capital gain liability for property investors proves a vote winner will depend on how voters, nervous when governments adjust economic levers, perceive the changes as helping or damaging their financial position.


  1. The government is likely to be a clear winner to the tune of about A$2 billion in taxation revenue.
  2. Property investors will have the ability to mitigate their cost pressures by selling before the increase in capital gains tax comes into effect, and prior to significant adverse effect on house prices; increasing nominal rents; passing on some costs as additional rental obligations; and defaulting or delaying repair and maintenance work.
  3. First home buyers may be able to buy more cheaply, but risk buying into a falling  market.
  4. Existing housing markets are likely to soften, if there are fewer property investor buyers willing to accept diminished returns from higher capital gains taxation and the loss of tax concessions.
  5. Once again it is likely to be those who are less well-off and dependent on rental accommodation who will be most impacted if rentals rise. This is likely from past experience since in the two years 1985-7 of no negative gearing, nominal rents nationally rose by over 25%. They increased in every capital city, and even after deducting the consumer price index to take into account the high inflation rate, they increased in both Sydney and Perth.



I am not an economist and make no claim to be an authority on the subject of negative gearing. I write as a consumer wishing to express an opinion based on my own reading, for the benefit of those who might wish to better understand the implications.




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Alan Jones, Master of Rhetoric!

He may be in his mid-seventies, but Alan Jones AO has lost none of the “fire in his belly” for the causes he espouses, nor has he softened his aggression against opponents.

On Monday 30 October 2017, the maestro of the classroom, Rugby field, radio, TV and even the stage, made a surprising panel appearance on the rival ABC TV program Q&A, hosted by Tony Jones.

He was one of four panelists, the others being former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, AFR (Australian Financial Review) Political Editor Laura Tingle, and La Trobe University Emeritus Professor Judith Brett.

He was easily the best speaker, out-shining Kevin Rudd’s erudite but more wordy, political-speak.

Ever mindful of his rural roots, Alan Jones has been instrumental in achieving a moratorium on farm threatening coal-seam gas mining in NSW and Southern Queensland. If he has his way he could also be instrumental in halting the development of the ambitious proposed Adani coal-mine in Northern Queensland. Adani, the Indian Mining giant, has been bedeviled by stories of corruption,  money laundering, and blatant environmental vandalism, but both Australian State and Federal governments have been bending over in eagerness to win its favour. I hope better judgement will prevail, and the project abandoned.

However the occasion also provided him with an unique, not to be missed national forum, to again attack the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull.  He was at his eloquent best but in my opinion quite biased and unfair. In past years he himself had failed at several attempts to enter parliament. Now as a media guru he enjoys the luxury as an arm-chair critic of always being right and can sagely provide simplistic solutions for complex national problems. For him the decision to call off the proposed indigenous referendum just highlights Turnbull’s incompetence as a leader. How hard would it have been? But he does not reveal what he might have said had the referendum been persisted with!

As far as I have been able to ascertain, Jones’s vendetta against Turnbull dates from June 2014, when Turnbull under attack over the second Hockey budget was injudicious enough to suggest that Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt were “bomb throwers” for the Labor Party.

Alan Jones alleges that Turnbull is destroying the Liberal Party, and that the Coalition cannot win the next election with him as Leader. But then back in 2014 he pontificated that Turnbull would never become Prime Minister. What is it about Malcolm Turnbull that so irks Alan Jones?







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It’s different this time Tony!

Tony Abbott’s contentious undermining of The Coalition’s Energy plans on Sky News Media 18/09/17, is both intentionally ignorant and mischievous. To him it is unconscionable that the party that so vocally exploited the Carbon Tax slogan in the 2013 federal election should now deviate from its pro-coal rhetoric to embrace the transition to renewable energy power generation.


There have been some superbly written articles criticizing his outburst, one of the best being that written by Richard Denniss and published in the Sydney Morning Herald September 23, 2017.


Another was written by Katharine Murphy in the Guardian.


Abbott’s triumphant attack, cheered on by sympathetic media interviewers, overlooks the advances in energy generation and storage of the past four years. It was more a kangaroo court of Malcolm Turnbull, than a balanced journalistic appraisal of the way forward for the welfare of the nation. Fortunately it is parliament, with its checks and balances, that enacts legislative change.

Factors not considered for example:

There is a global swing away from Coal to other forms of electricity generation. e.g  In the UK, where in 2015, 46% was generated from clean energy sources such as wind, solar (25%) and nuclear (21%). The UK government wants to phase out coal-fired power stations by 2025, and in 2015 power sourced from coal fell from 30% the previous year to 22%. Gas provides about 30% of UK electricity.


By 2020 90% of electricity in Canberra will be from renewable energy sources.


South Australia intends to supplement its substantial renewable energy power generation with a new gas-fired, not coal, power station.

Solar panels enable those who can afford to do so, to be independent in electricity, and indeed to contribute to the national electricity grid.


I have never thought of Tony Abbott as a vengeful person but how else do you explain his constant attacks on Malcolm Turnbull? I can only think that he is playing a role to support the political careers of others. Perhaps for Peta’s sake, but for Pete’s sake, I wish he wouldn’t.

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Celebrity Baby News: Josh and Amie Frydenberg

Waltzing More Than Matilda


Liberal MP Josh Frydenberg, and his wife Amie, welcomed their first child last spring, and named their daughter Gemma.

Josh studied law at Monash and entered a commercial law firm before studying international relations at Oxford and public adminstration at Harvard. He worked as an adviser to former Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer and former Prime Minister John Howard, and became Director of Global Banking with Deutsche Bank. He won the safe Liberal seat of Kooyong in Melbourne’s inner east, a traditional lauching pad for conservative leaders, at the 2010 federal election, and was re-elected in 2013 with the largest Liberal swing in his seat since 1975. He was the first Jewish Liberal elected to the House of Represenatives. Appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, late last year he was sworn in as Assistant Treasurer. A keen tennis-player, Josh is on the board of Kids Tennis Foundation, which…

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Is the ABC biased?

Law graduate Michelle Guthrie became the first woman to hold the position of Managing Director of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) when she took over from Mark Scott in May 2016.

She is a worthy appointee to arguably the most politically sensitive management position in the land, apart from that of the Prime Minister. Since it was officially launched in 1932 the ABC, “Aunt of the airwaves” has become a beloved part of the Australian way of life, initially following a BBC model, and offering a broad range of news, current affairs, entertainment and cultural enrichment.


The political party in power at its inauguration was the United Australia Party, a forerunner of the Liberal party.. The Prime Minister was Joseph Lyons, former Labor Premier of Tasmania (the only Tasmanian to hold this office). He with several others defected from Federal Labor to the Nationalist Party to form the UAP which continued until being dissolved in 1945.

With its nation-wide news coverage, both major political parties when in power, have sought to possess her and cried unfair political bias, when she has seemed to favour their opponents more than themselves in its programming and news content.

The ABC however does have a charter to follow, some items of which are listed as:

  • programs that contribute to a sense of national identity, inform and entertain, and reflect the cultural diversity of the Australian community
  • broadcasting programs of an educational nature
  • to transmit such programs to other countries
  • to encourage and promote the musical, dramatic and other performing arts in Australia

Everyone has an opinion as to how the ABC has fulfilled, or not met its obligations, but few would not agree that it has done much to enrich our lives.

In recent years the criticism has intensified that the ABC wittingly or unwittingly, is biased to the left of politics, and fails to give a voice to strongly conservatives opinions.

The Bolt Report last night I believe unfairly criticised the ABC, and in particular Michelle Guthrie, for scheduling a Q and A (7th August) as part of the Garma Festival in Arnhem Land (NT), and for sympathizing with the aspirations of the Indigenous people of Australia as expressed in the Uluru statement.

The comments herald vehement opposition to any constitutional change that both major parties might wish to present in a referendum to support the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people, and assist them in preserving their culture. The comments suggest indifference to their health and social needs, in harsh and remote regions of Australia.

In a sense, it would be a shame if the negative ultra-right media toned down their unfair rhetoric. It is becoming increasingly apparent to Australians how elitist they are, and indifferent to the needs of ordinary Australians. Their anti-Turnbull rants are uniting the LNP party as nothing else could.


http://about.abc.net.au/abc-history/Is the ABC

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Is the Liberal Party Uniting?

The announcement by Prime Minister Mr Malcolm Turnbull this week for a new super-portfolio under the direction of present Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, to oversee and coordinate issues of national security, had been under consideration for at least several months. It will involve supervision of ASIO, AFP, and the Border Force.

See article  January 10, 2017 written by Sharri Markson in The Daily Telegraph:


In the Immigration portfolio Peter Dutton has proved to be a serious, methodical and no-nonsense minister. With the experience of nine years as a policeman, a Bachelor of Business Degree, 16 years of parliamentary experience serving in several portfolios, and a leading Conservative, he is a logical choice to be promoted to the new ministry.

I would have thought that this initiative would have been welcomed by the Right of the party, when the threat of terrorism is growing world-wide, but perhaps predictably it has been bucketed by the one-eyed, ultra-conservative, Turnbull-phobic media, as a political move to weaken their ranks in parliament.

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Happy (political) days are here again!!

Don’t you just love political intrigue!

This is Peta (Incredible) Credlin.

She has the Libs in a spin They are already fighting over her; and she is not yet even in Parliament.

She is revered as a “fierce political warrior”, and is touted as a future champion of the Liberal “Dries”.

Watch out for her in the coming months. She stands for more generous superannuation concessions for the most wealthy, more coal for all, and more money for all Catholic schools. And, Down with Turnbull!! Shorten is preferable.






This gay fellow is the life of Canberra, South Australia’s Christopher Pyne! Don’t you just love him! He is a leading “bed-wetter”, and thinks he is on the side of the winners, to the irritation of the conservative Conservatives. Watch out for him. He was Minister for Education, but is now Minister for Defence Industry!





This is the Liberal Leadership duo Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison, (apologies to the absent Deputy Leader Julie Bishop). They look a little dreamy don’t they? Imagining life without Peta to worry about; and not too concerned about the alternative prospect I think.





Then there is the Prime Ministerial come-back kid, the likeable larrikin, Tony Abbott. Watch out for him. He just might get moved on.



Tony Abbott





Keeping quiet and growing in stature, is the discrete Anthony Albanese, representative of the Labor talent waiting delightedly in the wings.





Urging the contestants on whilst the audience grows and the dollars roll in, are media giants Sky News, and Newscorp.







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Who’s behind the current Liberal Party Brawl?

Ostensibly it’s an ideological war between the conservatives, slanting policies to preserve the privileges of the more wealthy, and those promoting more egalitarian legislation.

Margaret Thatcher was the first female Prime Minister of the UK between 1979 and 1990, and it was she who first coined the derisive name “wets”, for those members of the party she perceived as lacking in hardness, and willing to compromise with the union movement. In retaliation, those of her ilk were labelled “dries”.

Provocative for the “dries” was the 2017-2018 Budget released on the 9th May 2017 which funded major policies in education and health previously introduced by Labor when in office. Although these and other widely applauded initiatives in the Budget have been criticized by the Conservatives, it has been the Energy debate which seems to be generating the most heat.  Particularly vocal have been coal promoting climate change skeptics who believe the issue could again be a vote winner for the Coalition.

Noteworthy is the fact that in spite of all the vitriol in the media, there is no groundswell of opinion within the party to dump Malcolm Turnbull as Leader. Even religious right champion Corey Bernardi had no criticism of him when he left to form his own Conservative Party. He is still preferred above Bill Shorten as preferred Prime Minister by 54.1% to 45.9% even after the recent in-fighting, according to a Sky News/ReachTEL poll 30 June 2017.

It is not surprising therefore that it was 54 year old Liberal “has been”, Campbell Newman, who last week became the first person to actually call on Malcolm Turnbull to resign. A little premature one would conclude, when no opponent has stepped up to the plate to challenge him.

The supposition is that Tony Abbott, like Kevin Rudd in 2013, is campaigning to regain the leadership he lost by 10 votes in a ballot on the 14th September 2015. There are good reasons for doubting this.

Tony Abbott was dumped because he refused to demote his controlling and obstructionist Chief of Staff Peta Credlin. He was well-liked and there would have been no ballot against him had he heeded the unanimous advice of his colleagues and severed his intimate and dependent relationship on her.  His was virtually an Edward VIII-like abdication of office. It was his choice, and at the time, he made a commitment not to undermine subsequent leadership. He cannot expect to make a come-back just because she may now have side-lined him.

A Sky News/ReachTEL poll 30 June 2017 showed that 72.8% of Coalition voters prefer Malcolm Turnbull over Tony Abbott. Would Abbott really wish to further undermine his standing within the Liberal party by compromising its chances of re-election?

Tony Abbott is now 60 years old, has an intermittent tremor and mask-like facies that might indicate latent health issues.

If he is not providing the impetus for a change in Liberal leadership, from where is it coming? Clearly it is not from within the party, so perhaps the leading contender is the Sky News Bolt Report on which the hauntingly beautiful Peta Credlin appears. Tony Abbott often praised her as as a fierce warrior, and has suggested that she would be an ideal candidate for Liberal Party preselection.








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Might longer parliamentary terms reduce leadership wrangling?

Australia’s last federal election (the 45th) was held on the 2nd July 2016, and resulted in only a  two seat majority for the Coalition in the House of Representatives. The outcome was: Coalition – 76 seats, Labor – 69 seats and 5 cross-bench seats (Independents 2, The Greens 1, Katter’s Australian Party 1, Nick Xenophon Team 1).

This election was called a few months earlier than necessary to accommodate a full senate vote (double dissolution) because of an hostile Senate with 18 cross-benches who refused to pass key legislation. The ploy was not successful since the vote increased the cross-benches to 20, with the Coalition losing 3 seats to 30, and Labor gaining one to 26, in the 76 seat House.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had became Australia’s 29th Prime Minister in a leadership ballot held on the 14th September 2015 as a result of which he inherited a 30 seat absolute majority in the House of Representatives won in the September 7, 2013 election by Tony Abbott.

As an election winning first-term Prime Minister, like Kevin Rudd five years earlier, Tony Abbott was naturally aggrieved, and is now the focus on continuing in-fighting within the Coalition, despite there being two years before the next federal election in 2019. This is fomenting discord, hindering mid-term decision making, and may well hand victory to Labor at the next election.

Under our Constitution the Prime Minister is required to call an election at any time within three years of taking office. Exercise of this discretion has resulted in the average parliamentary term since Federation being just 2 years and 7 months.

It is a call which few leaders would wish to relinquish, but it diverts attention from the serious business of governing and framing legislation in the best interest of the nation to arguing and jostling for power within the party as the next election approaches. Since parties, not voters, elect the leadership, incumbent leaders may be unfairly scrutinized and dumped in favour of contenders perceived to have better prospects for success.

In 1715 UK parliamentary terms were increased to a limit of 7 years, from 3 years,  to reduce cost and improve the stability of government. However terms were limited to 5 years in 1911 and in 2011 fixed terms of 5 years were introduced.

In spite of this, UK Prime Minister Theresa May was able to foolishly call an election for 8 June 2017, after a term of just 2 years and 32 days. She lost majority government, and raised questions about her own political nous, and ability to negotiate favourable terms for Britain’s departure from the European Union.





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