The Courageous Charge of the Monash Brigade!

Passionate Coalition duo George Christensen and Craig Kelly are the driving force behind a rebellious pro-coal forum reputed to have more than 20 back-bench signatures.  Their oft-repeated mantra is that coal will deliver “low-cost electricity for consumers and industry”, and create jobs.

They are perfectly correct, if the government foots the bill, or subsidizes the development of the expensive, environmentally risky Adani coal mine and the construction of sufficient coal fired power stations. But what would it cost tax-payers?

Despite Craig Kelly’s protestations that “Malcolm Turnbull has my full support”, it cannot be sheer co-incidence that they have timed their lobbying until the very week that the Coalition’s negative Newspoll results again equal 30, the number Malcolm Turnbull used  to question Tony Abbott’s leadership competency in 2015.

There has also been a swelling chorus of conservative voices calling for Malcolm Turnbull to step-down, or be dumped as leader. His departure was predicted over the Easter week-end, even although there were no leadership contenders.

It is not surprising that both investors and lenders are wary of risking their capital on coal at present. There is a global trend away from using coal for energy generation. The UK government for example aims to phase out coal-fired power stations as early as 2025, in favour of gas-fired electricity generation, and renewable energy sources that are now cheaper to build than the alternative coal using facilities.

I admire the courage of the Monash Forum group in putting their political fortunes on the line over a single issue, which has already been extensively researched.  Of course they do not believe in climate change and are presumably prepared to wear the opprobrium they will receive if they are proved wrong.

They are also out-of-step with their colleagues, who will not thank them if and when the Coalition looses seats at the next election, because of leadership instability.

The disaffected could defect to Corey Bernardi’s Conservative Party with similar policies, but it is fast becoming irrelevant, and they are unlikely to do so.

Let’s hope that they stay, and contribute more constructively to future debates. It would certainly help if it were Tony Abbott, not Malcolm Turnbull, who left politics!






Posted in Community Issues, Political debate | Tagged

How safe from Terrorism are we in Australia?

Just a week before Easter the French experienced another alarming terrorist attack, this time in Southern France, not far from the Mediterranean coast, and the Spanish border. Five lost their lives, including tragically a 44 year old police officer Arnaud Beltrame who in a gesture of great magnanimity,  had exchanged place with a female hostage. Others were seriously injured.

France, with a population nearly three times greater than our own, has long endured many more incidents, and of greater magnitude, than we have in Australia.

From my calculations based on information from Wikipedia, in 15 years since 20 July 2003, and not including this latest one, there have been 33 terrorist attacks in which 259 people have lost their lives, and 899 have been injured.

The most horrific sequence of assaults occurred November 2015 in Paris. It resulted in 130 deaths, and 368 serious injuries.

One might have thought that with such a troubled history of terrorism, the French would have preferred the well-known and popular lawyer leader of the right wing National Front Party, Marine Le Pen, in the ballot at the April-May 2017 French Presidential election for a five year term.

Instead it was the young Centrist, pro-European, moderate leader of the En Marche Party, Emmanuel Macron who easily won the most powerful position in French politics, that of the French President by 66% to 33%.

Australians might well ask themselves, as Immigration policy is canvassed as an election issue in 2018, what is the security risk to us here in Australia? Do we wish to erect aggressive Trumpesque Immigration barriers that drastically cut our humanitarian refugee quota to supposedly protect our privileged standard of living?

Wikipedia derived data on Australian Terrorism in the past decade, documents 10 attacks, with 9 deaths and 15 injuries. It seems like it was only a few months ago but the Martin Place Lindt café siege in which two innocent people lost their lives was in December 2014.

This News article suggests that a further 15 terrorist attacks have been thwarted in a three year period.

The figures show that the threat of death and injury  from terrorism in Australia is very low,  thanks in large part to the vigilance of our security forces, and the information they receive from peace-loving, law-abiding ethnic minorities.

We need to focus equally on the prevention of domestic violence, a much more formidable problem in our societies.




Posted in Community Issues, Political debate | Tagged

Turnbull Finished! – Hartcher’s Easter Prediction.

Of course, Gold Walkley winning Journalist Peter Hartcher is not the first political analyst to have asserted that Malcolm Turnbull has betrayed his political principles, become morally bankrupt, and is now a spent force in Federal Politics.

His Easter message accusing Malcolm Turnbull of dispensing hypocritical homilies on political issues however, was replete with mocking ecclesiastical imagery, calculated to damage his standing.

Peter Hartcher is a Prince of Australian Journalism, but I very much doubt that he now has a God-like gift of prophecy. One can only presume that he is privy to, and perhaps complicit with, initiatives to destabilize and unseat Turnbull from the leadership in the coming year, at the risk of the Coalition loosing office at the next election.

Peter Hartcher has a track record of fomenting leadership discord. I understand that he played an important role in undermining Julia Gillard as Prime Minister. and promoted her replacement with former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. More than any other issue, it was division within Labor’s ranks that resulted in the Coalition’s landslide victory in the 2013 election that swept Tony Abbott to power.

Although this Easter Magnum Opus could be interpreted as  a move to assist Tony Abbott regain the Prime Ministership, Peter Hartcher entertains the possibility, perhaps the probability, that Labor will win office as a result of Turnbull’s de-stabilization.  He goes so far as to consider “authentic” Anthony Albanese would make a better Labor leader to win office at the next election than the current incumbent Bill Shorten.

I believe the Australian people should vote for the party of their choice according to the merits of their policies. The Media has a responsibility to inform the electorate of the issues, rather than to just manipulate public opinion in the direction of their own preferred outcome.




Posted in Community Issues, Political debate | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

The Tony Abbott Conundrum.

I am disappointed in Tony Abbott. He exasperates me with his continuing carping at, and denigration of, Malcolm Turnbull. He has become a dogmatic, political know-all. I am appalled by his nonsensical climate change denial opinions. I find particularly offensive his recent taunting of Turnbull over continuing negative Newspoll results, when it is the disunity  his attacks have created, that have been largely responsible. Goodness me! How unfair is that!

If that is not enough, 2018 is shaping up for an even more heated internecine fight over immigration quotas.

In 2GB radio interviews this year, Tony Abbott claims that Australia’s current  immigration rate of 180,000 to 210,000 persons per annum is unsustainable. On a per capita basis, it is one of the highest in the world, and he claims that contrary to conventional opinion, it is creating economic and social hardship for our society. His target is a radical cull of migration to about 120,000 a year, a policy his political instincts tell him,  would be a vote winner.

Having been Australia’s 28th Prime Minister from 2013-2015 he, more than any other current politician, has earned the right to express an opinion on Australia’s immigration policy. Criticized, even by his own church, and by human rights activists, as being too harsh, the firm policies he introduced cracked down on the criminal activities of people smugglers and ended the perilous arrival of desperate refugees on un-seaworthy boats.

But I fear that his immigration opinions are more influenced by divisive considerations of racial integration, than on purely economic, environmental and humanitarian factors.

How do I explain Tony Abbott’s unhelpful and erratic attacks on his own party? I have considered three possible motivations:

1. The obvious one is a bid to regain power, but I think it is the least likely. He has received no encouragement from the polls that the public would wish this.

2. The second view, is that he is intent on revenge for his demotion to a position subservient to his most powerful rival.

Certainly his role as Coalition leader in the overwhelming 2013 win (90 seats to 55 for Labor) merited greater reward than the two years he served. Whilst he deserved credit for the win, it should not be forgotten that Labor’s leadership fight prior to the election significantly undermined public trust in them.

It is a matter of historical record that there was no plot by Malcolm Turnbull to over-throw him, yet it would seem that Abbott has never forgiven Turnbull for his role in criticizing him, and then for winning the ensuing leadership ballot.

The fact is that it was Abbott’s failure to correct the relationship that he had formed with his department’s chief of staff that damaged his standing within the party. Disaffected colleagues, frustrated by the public servant’s deliberate obstruction of access to their leader, in spite of liking him, turned on him, after he had persistently rejected their advice.

I would like to think better of Tony Abbott than to believe he would wantonly  mastermind the defeat of his own party at the next election, unless Malcolm Turnbull stands down as the leader. But what other plausible explanation is there for his deliberate and antagonistic mis-representation of the facts.

3. The only other possibility I think, is that he sees himself as the most effective spokesman, and the only remaining effective leader of the right, in their battle with the “wets” for control of the Coalition.  It would seem that he has become captive to the right.

Just as he became dependent on, and powerless to act against, his Chief-of Staff, so he has now come to be dependent on the right for direction, and a sense of mission and purpose in politics, even when it results in him taking extreme positions.

In contradistinction to the much maligned Julia Gillard who when she lost the Labor leadership, accepted the result without rancour, and exited federal politics before the 2013 election, Tony Abbott chose in 2015 to stay on and to champion the often rebellious views of the right, despite all the disagreements it engenders.

The Coalition will be strengthened if right wing contributions to policy formulation are constructive, rather than divisive as they have tended to be in the recent past. I hope unity will prevail.




Posted in Political debate | Tagged ,

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.



Posted in Political debate | Tagged ,

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.




Posted in Political debate | Tagged ,

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?







Posted in Political debate | Tagged

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.

Posted in Community Issues, Political debate | Tagged

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…

View original post 23 more words

Posted in Uncategorized

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. the ABC

Posted in Political debate | Tagged ,