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My take on the Leader of the Opposition’s Address In Reply, Parliament House, Canberra

Well I for one thought that Tony Abbott’s speech was a cracking example of of passion and truth.Oh I know that Ray won’t be a happy camper because it is a statement of general principals rather than  being a blow by blow economic plan.

I will admit to enjoying the pained expressions on the face of Julia Gillard as the speech  was delivered. Of course I am not just blindly endorsing the entirety of the detail of the opposition program I have some reservations about the changes to welfare proposed however I think that there is some virtue in their position and philosophy. The emphasis on foreign language learning is one that I wish was in operation now because My daughter really wanted to continue learning the Japanese but it was just not offered at her high school.

Anyway an over all nine out of ten from me to Tony Abbott’s speech.

Cheers Comrades

Oh Joe, you might have just blown it

(Reproduced from my home blog Alpine Opinion)

Oops, there goes the over-55's vote.

“We need to compare ourselves with our Asian neighbours, where the entitlements programs of the state are far less than they are in Australia”

Every political party has ’em. Jovial looking big boys of wide-girth whose demeanour and sales pitch more resembles that of the used car salesman than a parliamentarian. Blokes who shoot their mouths off. Who talk first and think later, or don’t even think at all.

The ALP has one but he’s a back bencher and I can’t even think of his name. You know, the largish chap with the beard who’s no fan of the carbon tax but who Gillard manages to keep out of the spotlight.

The Nats have one too, albeit not-so-large, in Barnaby Joyce. He doesn’t do a lot of real damage either, even though he gets confused between millions and billions, because most people think Barnaby is half-pissed most of the time.

As for the Liberals though, well they’ve got the biggest buffoon of all and, worse still, he’s their Shadow Treasurer meaning, potentially, he will hold the purse strings of the nation and the second highest office in the land if Abbott wins the next election. His name is Joe Hockey of course.

And ‘Big Joe’ might have dealt a serious blow to Abbott’s election hopes with his big-noting address in London titled ‘The End of the Age of Entitlement’ followed by his foot-in-mouth (but revealing) interview on Lateline where he foreshadowed his party’s plans to “scale back the size of its welfare bill” if they are elected :

“We are all living longer, and the longer we rely on government handouts, the greater the burden for taxpayers and particularly those that follow,” he told Lateline.

“We need to be vigilant. We need to compare ourselves with our Asian neighbours, where the entitlements programs of the state are far less than they are in Australia.

“If we talk about the Asian century … then the Asian countries are our competition, our children’s competition.

“Hong Kong is our direct competition, as is Singapore, as is Korea in different ways, Vietnam, Indonesia.”

Hmm, Hong Kong, Joe? Where they have a top tax rate of just 17% benefitting the top-end, but where they also have no welfare safety net whatsoever – i.e. no old age pensions. Is that the type of system you want to model Australia’s future on?

Maybe so ….

When you look at Europe in particular, and France in particular, nearly 30 per cent of GDP is going towards public welfare and health care and pension costs. “That compares with other countries in Europe which are between 20 and 30 per cent. Australia is at 16 per cent, Korea at about 10 per cent. So, obviously the age of entitlement is coming to an end because governments are running out of money and the debt is now crippling governments.”

So our welfare at only 16% of GDP is too high, Joe? And you’d like it to be closer to the likes of Korea? Tell me, Joe, will you need an old-age pension when you retire? No, of course not – you’ll be on a fat parliamentary pension of about $250,000 per year for life!

You know, I reckon the quickest way to lose a massive amount of voter support is to do exactly as Joe has done – to threaten older people with their loss of ‘entitlement’. Well done, Joe – you just shot your own party right in the foot.

Swiss ban on minarets, and another religious question closer to home

Well this is a turn up for the books, and one that will have the latte sippers choking on their caffeine fix. I am just waiting for them to start frothing at the mouth about the “racism” of this plebiscite and for them to insist that it proves that western culture is evil and that we should ,as a consequence of this vote, engage in a storm of self loathing…

Zurich's main train station had many posters in favor of the minaret ban. Credit: Arnd Wiegmann

On one level, the vote to ban minarets in Switzerland is a triviality. The constitutional amendment does not ban mosques, it does not pull down the country’s four existing minarets, nor does touch the practice of Islam in Switzerland or bear on the many issues concerning Swiss Muslims. In all likelihood, the political establishment in Bern, which abominates the amendment, will find some way to overturn it.

But on another level, the 57.5 to 42.5 percent vote represents a possible turning point for European Islam, one comparable to the Rushdie affair of 1989. That a large majority of those Swiss who voted on Sunday explicitly expressed anti-Islamic sentiments potentially legitimates such sentiments across Europe and opens the way for others to follow suit. That it was the usually quiet, low-profile, un-newsworthy, politically boring, neutral Swiss who suddenly roared their fears about Islam only enhances their votes’ impact.

I think that any political movement that wants to rule the world can and should, in the first instance, be questioned and then if it is found to have a deleterious affect upon the society it can and should be limited by legislation if that is the will of a clear majority the people. I am reminded of another religious question that is being considered  some time this morning (here in Oz) the only difference between the two issues is that the religious zealots here want to build far more ephemeral towers amongst the smoke and mirrors of the derivatives markets forcing all of us to listen to the Gaian call to prayer whenever we make a cup of tea or turn on a light…

Personally I don’t know which would be worse or (dare I say it?) more  pernicious.

Cheers Comrades


Joe sets his sights on the big chair

There is always another mountain to climbAs it gets towards an end game in the Liberal party over the leadership it seems that Malcolm’s terrible show of public whining and his almost suicidal (in the political sense) media blitz has resulted in the more palatable candidate to the electorate, Joe hockey finding a way around his self-made road blocks to the big chair.

Mr Hockey would be able to insist that, although he favoured the CPRS, the division in his party required it to look more closely at the proposal through a committee examination that would continue until at least February.

Under the deal, Mr Abbott would become the opposition’s Treasury spokesman and Senator Minchin would take on finance – the same portfolio he held in office under John Howard.

Mr Hockey would not confirm his intentions last night, but contacted The Australian to deny television news reports that he had decided to run, saying he was still agonising over the issue.

However, sources said he was a near certainty to run and would confront Mr Turnbull with his plan in Canberra this morning.

We may not know today how things are going to go for the Liberal party leadership but we can be certain that the Turnbull experiment is over whichever way the vote in the party room goes and it seems that the only person who does not realise that is Malcolm himself. Now perhaps it may be time for him to bow out with some dignity and grace like his predecessor because the time has come to put the good of the party ahead of his religious belief (in climate change) and his personal ambitions.

Cheers Comrades


An incredible 80 per cent of Australians don’t even understand the ETS and want the Rudd Government to explain it better”

In the comments for my previous post on this topic Ray was excited by the prospect that the ETS issue could be the one that keeps Brother Number One in the lodge for the next two terms, but the Galaxy Poll done for the Sunday Mail suggests that the CRPS is by no means a lay down missaire for the current governments electoral prospects.

Tony Abbott seems to be ahead of the pack at present (image from the Australian)

The secret talks yesterday came as an exclusive poll for The Sunday Mail reveals voters have overwhelmingly rejected Malcolm Turnbull’s decision to help rush Kevin Rudd’s ETS laws through Parliament.

The Galaxy poll also shows Coalition supporters strongly prefer Mr Hockey as leader over Mr Turnbull and declared challenger Tony Abbott.

The results are more shocking for Mr Turnbull, as they strongly endorse the Liberal rebels trying to oust him – showing that 60 per cent of voters want the ETS delayed.

An incredible 80 per cent of Australians don’t even understand the ETS and want the Rudd Government to explain it better.

The devastating poll will reinforce the push from within the Liberal Party for Mr Hockey to put his hand up to lead the party as a still defiant Mr Turnbull faces a growing rebellion.

As I see it if 80% of voters do not understand how the CRPS is supposed to work then they will be amenable to the simple message that it won’t actually do anything to reduce our emissions and that it will cost everyone a Motza to do Sweet F A for the environment, the opposition can also work with the message that that such a big problem should be approached with caution and not the undue haste that Brother Number One is applying to the “problem”. This is a message that can work even for the electors who believe that the “warming” is man made and amenable to some sort of “engineering” solution.
Anyway I think that next Tuesday will be an very interesting day for the politically involved.
Cheers Comrades
Oh yeah Andrew Bolt facing the collective couch on The Insiders conservative chair this week should be interesting and I bet the CRU emails get an airing…

A death knell for the CRPS and Turnbull’s time in the big chair

Time to get out of the big chair?

The only question that matters when it comes down to the leadership of the Liberal party is will Turnbull hold on long enough to deliver the government a yes vote on its disastrous CRPS bill. Personally I think that no matter what he personally thinks about the Warminista faith Turnbull would do irrevocable harm to the Liberal party were his supporters in the senate to give Brother Number One and Penny W(r)ong passage of their bill. My best guess is that Turnbull will play the only viable hand he has and that is to delay the bill until after the Copenhagen conference by sending it to a senate committee. Thus he will avoid rejecting it outright and he will be able to save some face. Probably not enough to retain the big chair but enough to just  keep his dignity.

The Liberal Party is in turmoil tonight following the resignation of six frontbenchers, including Tony Abbott and Senator Nick Minchin, after they refused to back Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull’s position on the controversial emissions trading scheme.

Liberal frontbenchers Sophie Mirabella, Senator Eric Abetz, Tony Smith and Stephen Parry have also quit their positions over the ETS, leaving Malcolm Turnbull’s future as leader in doubt.

In a press conference tonight Mr Turnbull said he respected his colleagues’ decision but the issue was now one of integrity and it would be irresponsible for the party to not take action on climate change.

So who will be the next leader of the Liberal Party? well at present Tony Abbott is shaping up as front runner closely followed by Joe Hockey who is rather less keen to go at present . Frankly I think an election on the issue of climate change is probably winnable now in a way that it would not have been two years ago, quite simply teh whole edifice of the Warminista faith is crumbling and the Australian public will not elect anyone promising to wreck our economy with a new and ludicrous tax impost   no matter how much that impost is sold as a pious virtue on the altar of Gaia.

My prediction: Tony Abbott as leader and Joe Hockey as deputy.

Cheers Comrades


The state of play

Although my friends from the left will denounce this as pure spin from Andrew Bolt I think that in fact this is a reasonable acessment of the state of play at this point in the election cycle .

Leader – John Howard vs Kevin Rudd. Even so far. Experience vs freshness. Worn and worried vs untried and inexperienced.

Treasurer – Peter Costello vs Wayne Swan. Clear advantage to the Liberals. Swan barely registers. Labor has no story to tell on the economy.

Health – Tony Abbott vs Nicola Roxon. Advantage to the Liberals. Abbott may be a bit bruised, at least personally, but remains very personable, savvy and media smart. Roxon is pleasant and competent, but still lacks weight and experience.

Environment – Malcolm Turnbull vs Peter Garrett. Clear advantage to the Liberals. Environment is an issue that runs Labor’s way, but the party is in trouble with its spokesman, who will frighten the uncommitted with his seeming zealotry, yet has ironically disappointed the pure with his compromises. And despite my earlier disparagement of Turnbull, his  recent media performances have improved out of sight, making him seem much more informed and reasonable than his opponent, who seems scared of what he might say in debate.

Industrial relations – Joe Hockey vs Julia Gillard. Even. This should be a winner for Labor, but Hockey is a good salesman for the Liberals. Gillard seems better informed, and better able to master a brief. But Hockey seems more reassuring and far less ideological. He seems the kind of bloke who will give you a hearing even if he disagrees with you. If Hockey gets better on top of the detail, he’ll shade Gillard, whose drawbacks are far more personal – and therefore harder to fix.

Education – Julie Bishop vs Stephen Smith. Small advantage to Liberals. Bishop often seems as plastic and programmed as a TV commercial, and can sound strident when she pushes beyond her comfort zone on the culture wars. But she’s on top of her portfolio and calming, and Smith, decent and informed though he is, just cannot get the TV cameras to film him in any color but grey.

Foreign Affairs – Alexander Downer vs someone or other.

– Brendan Nelson vs Brendan Nelson. Advantage to the fiercely well-informed Nelson, but the melodramatic Nelson could still destroy him. Labor’s Joel Fitzgibbon won’t have anything to do with the contest one way or the other.

Industry – Ian Macfarlane vs Kim Carr – Advantage to the Liberals. Yes, Macfarlane has bumbled around these past days under questioning on who told him what on nuclear power plants, but one look at Kim Carr, the Socialist Left firebrand, will be enough to make any voter think Macfarlane is the man to look after their job. True, this isn’t a key matchup, but, gee, the Liberals would like to make it seem so.

– Nick Minchin vs Lindsay Tanner. Even. Shy, nice guy meets self-deprecating, nice guy. Both can add up.(source)

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