Tuesday, December 14, 2010

ALP Federal Election 2010 Review: Melbourne Consultation

Two things that need to be addressed that were raised at the 13 Dec Melbourne consultation meeting of the ALP Federal Election 2010 Review with Steve Bracks and John Faulkner:

First, concern was expressed that there is no woman on the panel. We must not copy this in the Victorian review. The names suggested n the The Age report this morning are all men.

Secondly, the internet where we have been woeful at the Federal level. Steve said that the review is looking at social media. The web is much more than social media and we need to establish a presence in many facets.

Most of our websites are not user friendly or useful for visitors. Cyber campaigning is not just an arm of PR or media releases. Tweetspins are just one symptom where we got caught out in the Victorain election. It should not just be the province of timid technocrats and green gatekeepers.

As well as commenting here the ALP has a Think Tank website where you can leave your ideas.

I've started a #LaborThinkTank twitter tag as well.

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Julian Burnside Defends Wikileaks

I've posted a report about Law Institute Victoria's Wikileaks forum in Melbourne on 9 December.

It includes a video of the speech by human rights lawyer Julian Burnside.

Julian Burnside, well known and respected human rights lawyer, has condemned calls by United States politicians and media commentators for the assassination of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. He spoke at a forum hosted by the Law Institute Victoria in Melbourne on Thursday 9 December.

He also attacked the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and Attorney General Robert Mcclelland, for their responses to Cablegate

Full post here:

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Climate Cablegate

We're blogging about climate change aspects of the WikiLeaks cablegate at Th!nk4: Climate Change:

Climate Cablegate: Lowering Expectations at Copenhagen

Join us!

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Greg Combet: Climate Clark Kent

My latest Th!nk4: Climate Change post

(Photo: Wikimedia)

Greg Combet, Australia's new Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, might look like Clark Kent but politically he is a Superman. As Secretary of the ACTU (Australian Council of Trade Unions) before entering Federal parliament, he won some seemingly unwinnable battles.

Combet and the Gillard government have received welcome support from the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) for placing a price on carbon:
THE government's push for a price on carbon has received a boost from the OECD.

Its economic survey of Australia says the setting of a price "sooner rather than later" is the "best option for cutting CO2 emissions".
Price on carbon 'is best option'

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Schools Building Program Value for Money

So sad to see Christopher Pyne getting upset. It's a big advance on his bullying but fictional rhetoric about the Federal government's Schools Building Program:

THE man overseeing the investigation into the $16 billion federal schools building program has challenged Coalition criticisms, claiming there is no evidence that value for money has not been achieved.

In evidence to a sometimes-heated Senate hearing yesterday, retired banker Brad Orgill said some state governments had achieved better value-for-money results than some private school systems.
'Excellent' results for schools program

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Monday, November 1, 2010

Greens Plot Pragmatic Political Path

My latest post for Th!nk4: Climate Change:

As my early post Australia Revisits Carbon Tax indicated, green politics have become the flavour of the year in Australia. With a State election in Victoria due on 27 November, environmental politics have taken on an engrossing importance.

Swings away from the ruling Australian Labor Party are now the order of the day. Tasmania has a minority Labor government backed by the Greens who have two Cabinet ministers. (I’m tickled by the fact that the Greens leader Nick McKim is Attorney General, making him the Minister for prisons amongst other things).

Opinion polls in Victoria show a large swing with the Greens on 16-19% this week. They received 10% at the election 4 years ago. This time they may win Assembly seats and hold the balance of power. Just as interesting is their current politicking:

Federal Greens leader Bob Brown has left open the possibility of his party entering into a power-sharing alliance with the Victorian Coalition if the election produces a hung parliament.

He said in Melbourne yesterday that the Greens had every right to negotiate with either side of politics if it meant getting a better deal for their supporters.
Greens put heat on ALP
Long gone are the days when The Greens were seen as idealistic purists.


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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Julie Bishop: Still Not Deputy Leader of the Opposition

Heard Julie Bishop being referred to as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition yet again yesterday. It was ABC News reporting on the North Melbourne Grand final breakfast.

Perhaps we can forgive a sports journalist for getting it wrong. Google "grand final breakfast julie bishop deputy leader of the opposition" and a long list of offenders appears:

The Age
Daily Telegraph
Brisbane Times
Sydney Morning Herald

Ignorance is Bliss! Will the Real Alternative Deputy PM Please Stand Up? (Wednesday, July 21, 2010)

No wonder no one, especially the Independent MPs, takes Warren Truss seriously. Perhaps if they did, Tony Abbott would be Prime Minister, either at the ballot box or the negotiating table.

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Labor Minority Government has Logic

If the final result of the Australian Federal election is 72 ALP, 73 LNP, 1 Green, 4 Independents, then logic seems to indicate a Gillard Labor Minority Government.

The three former Nationals (Bob Katter, Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor) want a stable government that runs a full term of 3 years. If they go with their ideological home, giving the LNP 76 votes, then one by-election could cause a general election if the other independent Andrew Wilkie does not support the LNP. If they side with Labor then the margin is 77-73 with a one seat buffer.

If the result is 71/74 then the logic reverses with an Abbott conservative government more likely. Lots of counting left in Corangamite. Update: make that Brisbane.

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Now for the Nationals Broadband Network?

While we wait for Sharryn Jackson to win Hasluck, a little speculation surrounding the unthinkable alternatives.

Will urban Australia help to fund a country version of the National Broadband Network? a country version of the education revolution?

Who would be the real losers if the $10 billion from the Resource Rent Tax goes west.

Were the mainstream media aware that Nationals and ex-Nationals were likely to decide our political fates?

Was the agreement between the 3 conservative independents mentioned publicly during the campaign? Did any journalists ask them about any wheeling and dealing? (I was out of the country for the 8 days before election night so I missed a bit.)

How many disgruntled voters realised that Warren Truss would be Deputy PM in a coalition government?

How much nasty stuff might still sneak through with Fielding's vote before July next year?

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Andrew Robb's Tax-funded Junk Mail

It's the fourth piece of election junk mail from our local member for Goldstein, Andrew Robb. He's the shadow finance minister. His claim to fame this week is that he knows more about Broadband than Tony Abbott.

The latest Robb Report is a party political attack on the "Rudd-Gillard government".

We've heard a lot from Robb about wasting taxpayers money. What hypocrisy! The pamphlet has the following:

The material has been produced by Andrew Robb MP using his printing and communications entitlement.

Taxes, in other words!

It's a blatant piece of electioneering that should be paid for with Liberal Party funds. It's irrelevant if other members of parliament from other parties do the same. It's a disgraceful rort. He's right about one thing - there is a need for real change. This blatant propaganda would be a good start.

The part that tickles me most is the pretence of having a local focus. The only local article is one on funding of the Bentleigh Cricket Club under a Coalition initiated Volunteers Grants program.

He's given up taking credit for local schools projects since his miserable attacks on the stimulus program. I posted about this rank opportunism last year: Andrew Robb's Wanton Waste

All mention of these types of projects has been removed from his website. Have to wonder if he still attends the opening of new Science classrooms or the like in Goldstein.

PS Andrew, please stop ignoring our junk mail sign!

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Taking a Step to the Right with Tony

Thanks to Crikey for the link. The Tony Abbott Time Warp:

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AM Fails PM's Q&A

ABC Radio National's AM program this morning was politics-as-entertainment at its worst. Its coverage of Prime Minister Julia Gillard's appearance on the ABC TV's Q&A last night was dismal.

They mentioned all the non-core aspects: her marital/childless/atheist status, the ranga, the former Labor leader's behaviour, her voice. Anything but policy! The audience asked many testing questions on key election policies such as refugees and climate change. Lolita O'Donoghue's final question about the lack of any coverage of indigenous issues went uncovered by AM.

Not good enough.

It was followed by a very soft report about grey nomads and the election from a caravan park in Forbes. AM seems to have an identity crisis. Is it hard hitting journalism or a lifestyle program.

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Monday, August 9, 2010

Abbott-Truss Government No Laughing Matter

Oz Politcs as Standup Comedy

Glib one liners are no substitute for political ideas. Punchlines don't replace policies. Tony Abbott has the gall to accuse Labor of "gutless spin". Campaigning should not be a reality show, mixing nastiness with big new lies or slick distortions.

It's the child of the advertising ethos: repeat the mantra often enough and people will change brands.

Tony Abbott and Warren Truss (he's the alternative Prime Minister) have turned political debate into farce.

Their idea of government is cutting programs: national broadband, e-Health, schools and infra-structure. Truss' roads promise is a perfect example. It mocks their 11 year inaction in this area and their opposition to the mining tax that would help to pay for it.

Do we want another decade of wasted opportunities? An Abbott/Truss government would be no laughing matter.

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Sunday, August 8, 2010

It's the Same Labor who...

Join my 'It's the Same Labor who...' campaign

Complete this sentence for the Coalition and tweet it.

My suggestions:

It's the Same Labor whose stimulus saved us from recession and 10% unemployment

It's the Same Labor who's giving us National Broadband

My twitter: http://twitter.com/Kevin_Rennie

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Friday, August 6, 2010

Julia versus Tony: who's behaved better?

A guest on ABC Radio National Life Matters program just said in a non-political context:

The best predictor of future behaviuor is past behaviour.
Interesting criterion to apply to our leaders. Forget the control of the campaign, what can we learn from their past actions and attitudes.

Who are the real Julia and Tony. The new campaign Julia is really the old one. The one that was welcomed when she took over the country.

The real Tony hasn't been seen much this election season. He's suddenly a moderate who can smooth over his climate change denial, his lacklustre ministerial years in immigration, industrial relations and health. His notorious insensitivity. His lack vision or any real plan for Australia.

I've already voted so the rest of you can do your homework on which leader has been and will be better behaved. I'm off to Malaysia with Th!nk3: Developing World for the week before election day. Get back 8 PM on Saturday. Will definitely be suffering campaign withdrawal DTs on the flight home.

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Where in the World is Warren Truss?

I'm trying to watch the real alternative Deputy Prime Minister Nationals' Warren Truss at the National Press Club. It's not easy. He's parroting the WA State slogans about the regions. He's proposing regional programs for the regions in areas like education despite the Coalition's vacuum on education policy.

He's proud of stopping the Emissions Trading Scheme that the National Farmers Federation strongly supported.

He seems to proposing a national hospital system. Wonder what the Western Australian colleagues think about that?

Lots of rhetoric and little detail or new programs. They must be the new green party going by their campaign slogan Think Local, Vote National which is of course a contradiction in terms. Is that a fancy way of saying pork-barrel? How come the media aren't caning the Nats for that one.

He's struggling on stay-at-home mothers versus paid parental leave, that has split the Coalition.

Waiting for a testing question on the National Broadband Network that the Coalition is against but his own members are keen about.

On water, he's quite open about the fight with Tony Abbott over his proposed referendum to take over the Murray Darling.

Anyway most people think Barnaby Joyce is the Nationals' leader. Haven't heard much concrete from him lately. Perhaps his minders are afraid the real Barnaby might have a "things that batter" moment like Tony Abbott's 'when Julia Gillard says "no, she really means it"' gaff yesterday.

Couldn't see Laurie Oakes in the audience. Might explain how few really probing questions were asked.

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Abbott's Strong Pain for the Economy

Just been watching Coalition Shadow Finance Minister Andrew Robb on ABC24 try to maintain he is pleased by the Reserve Bank decision to keep interest rates on hold. He obviously lives in a different economy from the rest of us.

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Tony Abbott To Cut Overseas Climate Aid

We are already into a core/non-core promise about overseas aid from Tony Abbott, Julie Bishop, Andrew Robb and Joe Hockey. From Oxfam Australia:

Coalition costings submitted to Treasury yesterday show Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has broken his promise to match the Government’s commitments on overseas aid, Oxfam Australia said today.

“Mr Abbott has gone back on his word and will cut spending to Australia’s aid program if elected,” said Oxfam Australia Executive Director Andrew Hewett.

Yesterday, in election commitment costings submitted to Treasury, the Coalition outlined at least $294 million in spending cuts from the aid budget, including funds that were earmarked to help poor countries deal with the impacts of climate change.

However, on 23 April, in a foreign affairs speech to the Lowy Institute, Mr Abbott re-affirmed that the “Coalition would match the Government’s commitments on overseas aid”.
Abbott’s cuts to aid budget a broken promise to world’s poor

I must have missed something at the Goldstein Make Poverty History electoral forum. Andrew Robb promised the world. But then it's easy to cut climate change funds when you're on about re[al] action.

The current Opposition Finance shadow minister Robb seems to reading from Barnaby Joyce's script now:
THE government is demanding the opposition restate its commitment to increasing the foreign aid budget after its finance spokesman, Barnaby Joyce, advanced an argument for paring back aid levels to pay off debt and fund Coalition election promises.
Joyce in firing line after aid blooper

You can hear Bishop trying to squirm out of this betrayal of the developing world on Radio Australia: Australian opposition proposes cuts to overseas aid

Was that promise in writing Tony or did you just make it off the cuff? Just a little white lie perhaps.

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Monday, August 2, 2010

Get the Billionaires Off the Barricades

Fortescue Metals Group's Andrew Forrest is leading the "small" miners against the labor government's proposed Rent Resource Tax. According to their own website Fortescue's Market Capitalisation was approximately $13.67 billion as at 03 May 2010. Small beer! Twiggy's own wealth has been estimated at $4 billion.

Join the Fair Go For Billionaires Campaign!

Let's get the billionaires off the barricades.

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Tony Abbott Stands For Reaction

Tony Abbott Stands For Reaction!

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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Progressive Oz Blogs

Looking for some lively election coverage that goes beyond media obsession with leaks, polls, fashion and trivia? Here are are few websites to follow, if you aren't already:

Hoyden About Town

Grog's Gamut

North Coast Voices


The Political Sword

Larvatus Prodeo

Cafe Whispers

This list is far from exhaustive but these sites have lots of good links.

If you find a telling post, share it far and wide across the blogosphere.

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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Julia Gillard Comes Out Swinging

Julia Gillard at her best in this video news:

Julia Gillard slams Downer over security ABC News 31 July 2010

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Abbott Our Biggest Threat to National Security

Don't mention the wars! The critical question is not who attended National Security Committee meetings over the last decade. It is the nature of the decisions taken there.

Invading Iraq and scaling back our commitment in Afghanistan top the list of disastrous blunders. At a time when we should have been helping to rebuild the country and secure the peace, our focus was on settling a score with Saddam Hussein and the ilusory weapons of mass destruction.

As a Senior minister in the Howard government, Tony Abbott should not be allowed to hide from these appalling mistakes. Nor should the rest of the Coalition team.

As indicated in an earlier post Iraq a Mistake: Ex Australian Defence Forces Chief , former Defence Forces Chief Chris Barrie’s confession that the Iraq war was a mistake in that it had distracted us from fighting the real threat in Afghanistan.

We have a leak obsessed media without any real analysis of policies and issues. Tony Abbott and Julie Bishop have not demonstrated any interest or understanding of the real challenges facing Australia in our foreign relations. If elected in 3 weeks time, the Liberal National Parties Coalition will be one of those challenges.

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Friday, July 30, 2010

Iron Ladies Quiz Tony Abbott's Budgie

Thanks to Larvatus Prodeo for alerting us to this election video, Tony Abbott Iron Ladies + Budgie 1:

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Iraq a Mistake: Ex Australian Defence Forces Chief

Was I dreaming last night? I watched the launch of ABC News 24. The beat-up by Chris Uhlmann was predictable. A scoop! Rudd weak on national security! Pity it lacked detail, relied on anonymous sources and the confidentiality of the National Security Committee. The highlight was former Defence Forces Chief Chris Barrie’s confession that the Iraq war was a mistake in that it had distracted us from fighting the real threat in Afghanistan. That should have been headlines today. We were told in the report that John Howard never missed a meeting and that the Deputy PM chaired in his absence.

I can’t find the transcript or video of the rest of Uhlmann’s interview anywhere on the web. If it had been said by a senior British military head, it would lead all today’s bulletins: Failure of Afghan War Liberal Mistake! Howard Dropped Ball on Afghanistan!

If anyone locates it, please let me know.

There is a reckless silence in the mainstream media about the Afghanistan war. I wonder if it will get a mention on the Leaders' debate.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Will the Real Alternative Deputy PM Please Stand Up?

Strange things happen to everyone’s memory at election time. Yesterday I couldn't remember the name of the alternative Deputy Prime Minister, the deputy leader of the opposition Coalition. That’s the one who presumably will have a formal debate with Wayne Swan during the campaign.

It isn't Julie Bishop who is the deputy Liberal leader. She is a serial deputy, having been second-in-charge for Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and Brendan Nelson. I’ll avoid the wedding cliché as we’ve had enough sexist political jokes lately.

It isn't the Nationals' Senate leader and failed Finance spokesperson, Barnaby Joyce. Before going on his electioneering 'wombat trail', he treated Fran Kelly to some of the more asinine stand-up-comedy in ages. His metaphors included: a present under Christmas tree; lost teeth at the dentist; boxing every horse in the Melbourne Cup; and the impossibility of getting Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston back together. Guess which one applied to Abbott's confused back-pedalling on Work Choices. Watch out Angelina!

It isn't the other Seinfeld clone, the tubiquitious Christopher Pyne. This overexposed comic seems to use every thesaurus word for scandalous, often in the same sentence. He's giving hyperbole a bad name. His mastery of the catchcry far outweighs his take on the facts. Chris should stick to doing his Alexander Downer impersonations.

Despite his constant nasty forays into local politics, Alexander isn't the deputy either. He did resign from parliament so he's just part of the posse. His paid job is to bring reconciliation to the divided people of Cyprus. Good luck to them! At least Pyne has managed to avoid a "things that batter' moment that helped to destroy Downer's leadership.

It isn't Joe Hockey but he's joined the comedians as well. Humpty should have stuck to his old mantra about not being able to unscramble eggs. Unfortunately for him, it didn't work in 2007. Perhaps he should use it on the Work Choices policy. It's a pity that he gave us such as tasteless attempt at wit with the sexist slur on Wayne Swan and Paris Hilton yesterday. I'm sure neither of them will be offended but I know many voters who were. Paris gave us that memorable satirical moment of the 2008 campaign with her Paris for President video. Joe for court jester?

It took me ten hours to recall the pretender's name even though I knew his job title. Just who is the leader of the National party? And where is he hiding? A wombat hole perhaps.

Click for the answer.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Bob Brown Able to Work Well with Tony Abbott

Couldn't believe my ears:

The leader of Australia's minority Greens party, Bob Brown, says he is confident he will be able to work well with Tony Abbott if the opposition Coalition wins the election.
Population a key question for campaigning Australian politicians

I wonder which things they'll work well together on: climate change, gay marriage, refugees, cuts to programs, the mining tax, education, forests?

It's a bit like the Greens preference swap with the ALP. It means whatever you want it to. Please, Bob, stop playing opportunist politics and chasing votes. Look what that kind of opportunism did to the Democrats.

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Joe Hockey's Paris Hilton Sexist Slur

Could Joe Hockey, self appointed small 'l' liberal, possibly have read much less written his disgusting sexist slur against Paris Hilton? It doesn't bare repeating.

Send Joe a message: not nearly good enough, Joe!

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Peter Costello a Two-Bob Snob

Was this man really a contender?

Peter Costello's sneering attack on Julia Gillard's Australian accent yesterday was disgraceful.

Must be what passes for humour at the old boys' club.

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Tony Abbott: Nope!

Thanks to Nigel Featherstone for the graphic. I comes from his post Game on: Julia vs the Mad Monk that I enjoyed immensely.

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Julia v Tony #1

Just been watching Julia's announcement of the election date.

Today's thought:

Gillard - down to earth
Abbott - dumbed down

I'm off to the MCG for the other important contest.

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Friday, July 16, 2010

The Ass Has Bolted

Without comment!

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Laurie Oakes: Please Confirm or Deny

We were returning to the Herald Sun in my taxi. John Gorton’s 1970 half-Senate election campaign launch at Springvale Civic Centre had just finished with a group of anti-war demonstrators being freed from the paddywagons. They had been arrested during the PM’s speech when some Young Liberals attacked them after they had displayed cardboard coffins.

My passenger, a very young Laurie Oakes told me that he had threatened to make the police frontpage news on the Sun newspaper if they didn’t release the protesters. Anyway that’s not the real story. Any journalist can find themselves part of the story even if it’s supposed to be against the code of ethics.

What really stunned me was his next revelation. At the 1969 Federal election Gough Whitlam had soundly outgunned Gorton who just scraped home on DLP preferences. The Prime Minister had seemed tired and jaded. Rumours about his drinking and female philandering had become common. Laurie explained why he thought this was the case.

His inside information was that Gorton had believed that he had a terminal illness and dropped his bundle. The diagnosis had been wrong and he was back on track. As history shows, his political revival didn’t last long. He did mange to live to ninety and was always a colourful character.

I emailed Laurie Oakes a couple of years ago, asking him to confirm or deny this story. I also indicated that I might publish this tale one day if I didn’t hear otherwise. Now I don’t know what a citizen journalist’s code of ethics might allow but I was just a cabdriver in those days.

Perhaps Laurie was just trying to impress his driver with a couple of tall stories. Perhaps one or both is true.

Laurie, please confirm or deny the Gorton revelation.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Abbott's Opposition Under Great, Big Cloud

Our local member, Andrew Robb, excelled himself yesterday. It must be difficult competing with Christopher Pyne and Joe Hockey for the crudest catchphrase or meaningless mantra. Joe has taken to adding "and stop the boats" to the end of his pronouncements no matter what the context. Andrew had the country under a "great big cloud" yesterday on Radio National's Breakfast program. It's times like these when it's a pity to have given up sarcasm.

It is the opposition that is under a cloud, especially when it comes to economic policy. Anyway, you have to love the ockerisms that flow no-stop. It's fair-dinkum, dodgy authenticity.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Australian Election: Enrol to Vote Online

Better hurry if you want to enrol to vote or change your address for the upcoming Australian Federal Election 2010. It can be completed by downloading the form online and emailing a scan to the AEC.

Links here.

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Gillard's East Timor Solution for Asylum Seekers

After all the dog whistle doom and gloom around Julia Gillard and asylum seeker policy, the last thing you would have expected today was the Refugee Council of Australia praising her on the midday news.

"Refugee Council of Australia president John Gibson says Prime Minister Julia Gillard's plan to process asylum seekers in East Timor is a positive policy change."
Video interview here.

The announcement of a proposed regional processing centre in Timor-Leste left a lot of people flat-footed:

JULIA Gillard has held talks with East Timor's leader to establish a regional processing centre for asylum-seekers on Australia's doorstep.

The Prime Minister revealed today she has also spoken to New Zealand Prime Minister John Key and the UNHCR about a regional centre.

Ms Gillard said she would not oversee a return to the Pacific Solution and warned there was no quick fix to the problem of deterring asylum-seekers.
Gillard in talks with E Timor leader to establish processing centre for asylum-seekers

It took the longest headline in memory to catch up with the latest. Strange there were no leaks or scoops.

Not everyone has been as please as the Refugee Council. Bernard Keane at Crikey called it "unedifying". Not the harshest of criticism from a master of invective.

So it appears to be 2-0 Gillard v. Abbott. That would be a winning lead in any of this year's World Cup matches. She said 'game on' and meant.

Steady on! The election hasn't even been called, despite Joe Hockey's wrong call.

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Oz Bloggers on the Sudden End of Kevin Rudd

My post for Global Voices: Australia: Dramatic Fall of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd

Australian bloggers give their views of last week's events.
Not the usual suspects. Even has a 'Pome'.

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Decline and Fall: Vale Kevin Rudd

When we left for five weeks in South America in mid-April, Kevin Rudd seemed to be cruising. The economy was performing spectacularly. Even the battered Climate Change strategy was still on the horizon – we’d get some sort of deal with the Greens after the election. Despite Tony ‘the jock’ Abbott’s energy, the opposition were still looking like losers. The loudest critic was the Victorian Labor Premier John Brumby over the proposed health reforms.

While we were away the Prime Minister apparently went into self-destruct mode. The Emissions Trading Scheme was scuttled. The budget was judged as lack-lustre but politically safe. Then we heard the first mention of the Resource Super Profits Tax on BBC World News. The word courageous seemed too weak. Despite the tax’s obvious merits, a Whitlamesque fight to the end with the multinational miners was the last thing we needed.

Not long after touching down in Melbourne, I attended my local ALP branch. In an election year, there were only two others in attendance: one a student in his 20s; the other pushing forty years party membership like myself. The gloom matched the fast approaching winter. Thinking that the health reform was still unresolved, I was surprised to hear that agreement had been reached with the Labor States and only Western Australia were holding out. A big win for Rudd, I incorrectly assumed.

This sense of the government moving on to the next issue with business either unresolved or unheralded became a regular theme.

In the month since then, Kevin Rudd imploded. He became post caricature or satire. The more he said, the more voters stopped listening. Even in my extended Labor family, it was hard to find anyone who was not depressed by his seeming paralysis. Or his inability to articulate a way forward.

The government had lost the environment vote and not all of it was coming back in preferences. It seemed impossible to sell the company tax cut and improved superannuation that are the flipside of the mining tax. The hypocrisy of the taxpayer funded advertising submerged the debate about the merits of the proposal.

A relentless media campaign against Rudd and general fixation on opinion polls was extremely enervating. There was little solace that most polls still had Labor in front. We were presented with the bogey of winning the two-party-preferred vote but losing the marginals. 1998 revisited. Hints that party polling confirmed this, added to the gloom.

The PM had lost not just the mainstream media, the natural allies of the mega miners and conservatives, but also faced a very disillusioned blogosphere. The infamous internet filter wasn’t helping either. Ironically Minister Conroy’s peace deal with Telstra felt like the beginning of resurgence. A government that was being portrayed as doing nothing but spend money had also squeezed Paid Parental Leave through the Senate. Tony Abbott’s expensive alternative had split the Liberals and Nationals but no one seemed to care.

I couldn’t watch the ABC’s Australian Story on Monday night promoting Julia despite my admiration for her. The trap was set. Still a challenge seemed unthinkable.

Today was a very sad day. Kevin is a compassionate person with a strong social conscience. He had exhausted himself at Copenhagen trying to get a better result on combating global warming.

The political cynic in me feels that the billionaires and right wing factionistas are running the country. Little consolation that they have produced a feamle PM from the left – something the rest of us would have found extremely difficult to achieve.

The political realist feels that today’s events were unavoidable. That the nerd experiment in leadership had failed. Like Gough, Kevin was just too far removed from the rest of us, at both an intellectual and an interpersonal level.

The political idealist hopes that Julia Gillard will make one of our best Prime Ministers. Despite a heavy heart, like many of my relatives I do feel re-invigorated tonight. We’re ready to defend our piece of Labor history. The vandals are at the gate.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Monday, June 21, 2010

Warren Truss for Deputy Prime Minister. Not!

The ALP is leading the coalition for the fourth poll in a row. Perhaps we can get back to some real political debate now. Most of the opposition spin is about Rudd doing nothing. It is Nationals leader Warren Truss's (who?) only line. And in a week that gave us Paid Parental Leave and the Broadband deal with Telstra.

Barnaby Joyce should be figuratively horsewhipped by the media for his attack on Rudd's whoring with pimp pollsters. Is that the only way he can keep himself in the spotlight?

Lenore Taylor's remarks on ABC Breakfast this morning, that as Rudd and Swan were planning their economic stimulus package, the media were consumed with Costello's leadership ambitions, were very revealing. It is hard to take the mainstream media seriously, given their lack of depth or understanding.

Today's headlines should be about the split in the coaltion over parental leave, given their decision to oppose Tony Abbott's proposed scheme.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

India Proposes Resources Windfall Tax

Thanks to Tom R at Cafe Whispers for this link:

NEW DELHI -- India's Mines Ministry has proposed a windfall tax on non-fuel minerals such as iron ore to claim part of what the government considers high profits earned by the mining sector.

"Our proposal is to levy a windfall tax on domestic sales as well as exports of minerals when their (prices) are substantially higher than the cost of production," Mines Minister B.K. Handique said in an interview.

On the lines of a similar proposal in Australia, the new tax is also meant to raise additional revenue for the government. But unlike in the former, India has a predominantly captive production model where mining leases are mostly given out to producers with their own plants to make finished products such as steel.
India Proposes Windfall Tax on Non-Fuel Minerals

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Reflecting on Obama's Presidency So Far

Crosspost from Global Voices:

Barack Obama has cancelled a trip to Australia for the second time this year, because of the oil spill crisis. Last time the reason was health care legislation. In his absence bloggers have been assessing his role and his performance as President. These are reflective pieces rather than partisan knee-jerks.
Australians Reflect on Obama's Presidency So Far

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Friday, June 11, 2010

Mining Windfalls A Taxing Problem

Crosspost from Th!nk3: Developing World 'Mining Windfalls A Taxing Problem'

Two of Australia's richest people, Andrew Forrest and Gina Rinehart, led a protest demonstration on Wednesday against Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. The big end of town took to the streets in Perth.

There is a major political battle raging between the government and the Mining companies over a proposed Resources Rent Tax, popularly known as the Resources Super Profits Tax.

Meanwhile in Mongolia:

The decision by the government of Mongolia to allow Rio Tinto and Ivanhoe Mines Ltd to develop the Oyu Tolgoi mine has caused civil unrest in the country because of a number of claimed legal irregularities in the agreement (not least the lack of a full Environmental Impact Assessment and a detailed water study).
Update on Rio Tinto at Oyu Tolgoi
Rio Tino issued a response to criticism:
Similarly at Oyu Tolgoi there has been a high level of consistent, genuine engagement with local communities, herders and the government. Projects of this nature will attract objections, and we expect them as a sign of a healthy civil society.
The full text is available here. Their promotional video from 2009 shows what's at stake.

Locals were concerned not only about environmental issues. They also claim that the agreement between their government and Rio Tinto/Ivanhoe Mines will not provide a fair return to the Mongolian people:
On 4 April 2010 NGOs and 200 representatives from 18 'aimags' (provinces) gathered in Sukhbaatar Square, the main square in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia's capital, calling on the Government to respect its election promises and accusing it of selling out the country to foreign mining interests.

... The NGOs are also asking Professor Ruggie to review the fairness of the benefit sharing arrangements of the Investment Agreement so as to ensure that the project helps eradicate poverty in Mongolia.
Mongolian NGOs appeal to UN over Oyu Tolgoi
It seems that a windfall tax was sticking point last year:
An investment agreement for the first major mining project in the country is expected to act as a blueprint for billions of dollars worth of future investments in other resources projects.

... the parliament agreed to scrap the windfall profits tax on copper and gold, setting the stage for an agreement, miners Rio Tinto and Ivanhoe said in separate statements.

The windfall tax, introduced in 2006, and a demand for greater government ownership in strategic projects, have been key sticking points between the government and investors, delaying the progress of several investment proposals despite a mining boom in recent years.
Mongolia clears way for Oyu Tolgoi mine
These days everything seems connected. Must be galloping globalisation. There has been a lot of talk about resource taxes creating a sovereign risk. That's the risk that government actions pose for mining ventures. The real risk may well be to sovereign States and their ability to stand up for their long-term national interests.

Full post

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Tony Abbott: New Big Dinosaur

Tony Abbott video from Rebekkak971 (thanks to The Orstrahyun)

15 reasons not to vote for Tony Abbott

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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Climate Change: Bonn Chance

If you think that Climate Change has completely disappeared from the radar, don't despair. Here is some of the latest from the blogosphere.

Firstly, from OneClimate.net and tcktcktck, a live feed from the UNFCCC talks in Bonn:

Watch live video from OneClimate on Justin.tv

Secondly, US CAN Climate Action Network are tracking how countries are responding to their Copenhagen Accord commitments.

Countries Engaged with Copenhagen Accord
This graphic automatically updates as countries respond.

A detailed table is available on their website.

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Saturday, June 5, 2010

RSP Tax: It's Going To Ruin Us - Not!

A video gem about the Resources Super Profits Tax (thanks to tigtog at Hoyden via Larvatus Prodeo for the link) from the CFMEU:

Pass it on.

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World Environment Day

Rwanda is the Global host for this year's World Environment Day.

Cross post from Th!nk3: Developing World:

To celebrate, a series of videos from down under that focuses on the developing world.

It's from EngageMedia 'Social justice and environmental videos from the Asia Pacific'

WED 2010: Not Just About Polar Bears and Gorillas

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Oxfam Australia: More Aid is Not Enough

Oxfam Australia is campaigning to raise the country's overseas aid commitment to 0.7% of GDP, the UN target for 2015. This follows a modest increase in the Australian Budget last week.

More on Th!nk3: Developing World

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Steve McCurry's Iconic Images

If only words could capture the lives of people in the developing world as well as Steve McCurry's photography. A picture is worth a thousand clichés about the human condition. His iconic 1985 Afghan Girl, of twelve year old Sharbat Gula for National Geographic, is one such image.

We were lucky enough to see an exhibition of Steve McCurry's photographs at the Centro Cultural ;Borges in Buenos Aires' Galerias Pacifico recently.

More at Th!nk3.

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Global Voices Loud and Strong

The Global Voices Citizen Media Summit 2010 is concluding after four vibrant days in Santiago, Chile. If you're looking for something beyond the MSM, Facebook and Twitter, join us at the global conversation: Global Voices.

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Monday, April 12, 2010

Timor-Leste: Gusmao Sprays Friendly Fire at Aid Community

Cross post from Th!nk3: Developing World blogging comp:

Timor-Leste's Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão has made a stinging attack on International Aid Agencies and by implication the United Nations.

...Gusmão also attacked close supporter Australia.
Timor-Leste PM Sprays Friendly Fire at Aid Community

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Friday, April 9, 2010

Mekamui Message

My latest post for the Th!nk3: Developing World competition:

Mekamui Message - No More Mining, No More Bloodshed

Clive Porabou is taking a strong message to London. When he attends the Rio Tinto Annual General Meeting on 15 April, he'll be telling them 'no more mining' on Mekanui (Bougainville Island). Bougainville Copper Limited's Panguna mine closed in 1989 after an armed struggle against the company and the government of Papua New Guinea. BCL is controlled by mining giant Rio Tinto.

Mekamui Message: No More Mining, No More Bloodshed

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Oil Spill Warning for Obama

A cross post from Global Voices:

“It sounds like the plot of a disaster movie!” according to Geoff Sidebottom of Views from Towradgi (Comments from the Australian city of Wollongong on local and world events). His sentiments have been shared around the country.

Australia: Oil Spill on Iconic Waters a Warning to Obama

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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Act Now For The Developing World

My latest post for the Th!nk3: Developing World blogging Competition:


Take Action Now

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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Irony Man's Sidekick: Back-flippant Barny

Barnaby Joyce's latest excuse for his foot-in-mouth disease is irony.

He wouldn't wipe his mouth with Productivity Commission reports apparently and made stupid remarks about both the insulation scheme and the Stimulus Package schools building projects.

More: Joyce backtracks on toilet paper quip (ABC Radio's AM program )

"It is a statement of irony. It is not a genuine belief that they are burning down houses to stimulate the economy, but they are definitely burning down houses," he said. 
Joyce defends toilet paper humour (ABC News)

He joins the super-boy heroes club as Tony Abbott's sidekick, Back-flippant Barny. His super power will involve both feet.


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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tony Abbott: Irony Man

Ironing Man, Iron Man. Tony Abbott is an enigma. I haven't read his book to see if there is any sub-text but there are bound to be hidden meanings. Buried deep, a bit like his policies.

His super-hero graphic novel would have be titled, Irony Man.

His X-ray eyes seem to work in reverse. You can usually see when he is spinning an answer in his head. To use an appropriate metaphor, the windows of his soul.

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

New blog:Red Bluff

I've started a new blog, Red Bluff, to go with my new website. It will focus on current affairs, society and the invironment, plus share some personal experiences and special places.

Labor View will concentrate on party politics both here and overseas.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Tall Man Story Continues

It was pure coincidence that our book club was discussing Chloe Hooper’s award winning The Tall Man last week. It is the account of the 2004 death-in-police-custody of Cameron Doomadgee and the trial of Senior Sergeant Christopher Hurley. The Inquest into the death has just reopened on Queensland’s Palm Island:
An inquest into the death held in 2005 concluded that Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley caused the fatal injuries.

He was found not guilty of manslaughter and assault in 2007.

Sergeant Hurley later appealed the original inquest findings and a district court judge ordered the inquest be reopened.
Doomadgee inquest reopens
Our club members are mostly in their thirties plus two baby boomers to add a bit of living history, sort of fiction fossils. In this case it's non-fiction. The general consensus was that Chloe has given a balanced account despite her closeness to the Doomadgee family and legal team.

Andrew Bartlett, former Australian Democrats Senator and current Green’s candidate, has followed the tragic events:
It is well over five years since Mulrunji Doomagee died in police custody on Palm Island, his ribs broken and his liver nearly sliced in two. Previous coronial inquests and trials have wound a tortuous path, with various assertions about the cause of death ranging from the consequences of a “complicated fall” to suggestions Mulrunji’s injuries were inflicted by a more direct methods.
Palm Island Inquest Resumes (again)
He links to Monique Bond’s blog about Palm Island, Monique's notes re Palm Island and other topics

She concludes her Background on the Mulrinji inquest 2006:
The Inquest cannot change the root causes of the problems on Palm Island. We can cooperate to improve the relationship between islanders and the police. However, unless the power balance changes so that the Islanders own the agenda and an attitude of mutual respect is insisted on, nothing will improve.
The background to this tragic story is very bleak:
  • the appalling treatment of indigenous people in Queensland by settlers, government and police;
  • the forced relocation of the unwanted and ‘undesirables’ to Palm Island’s virtual prison;
  • the continuing consequences of the stolen generations and separated families;
  • the culture of apathy and denial within the police, forensic pathologists and the justice system;
  • the code of coverup;
  • the ‘them and us’ attitudes of some in the Deep North towards their Southern cousins;
  • the legacy of Christian missions on indigenous beliefs and values;
  • the sorry state of reconciliation in parts of Australia.
It’s hard to come away from this confronting book with any optimism. The investigation was compromised by the casual clubbiness of the police involved. Two key aboriginal witnesses were not called to testify. One, according to Hooper, because of his 'drinking and inconsistencies', the other because ‘he was “more copper than blackfella”’. The acquittal took only 3 hours of jury deliberation including lunch. It has taken six years for Hurley to make any sort of apology to the family.

Too many aboriginal communities are dominated by whites who hold most of the important jobs and the real power. Even aboriginal community police hold little or no real authority.

Chloe Hooper’s frank verdict on the tall man:
Hurley had become a kind of folk hero. It was as if he’d been not so much acquitted as forgiven And in forgiving him, people forgave themselves.
It’s easy to feel that she was trying to nail him for the still unexplained violent death of Cameron Doomadgee. The book club members felt that she was more interested in exposing the way things are, in finding some kind of truth. Unfortunately the latest inquest is unlikely to nail the truth either.

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Climate Change: Scientists Put Up

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) have tabled more evidence in response to the climate contrarians recent offensive:

AUSTRALIA's two leading scientific agencies will release a report today showing Australia has warmed significantly over the past 50 years, and stating categorically that "climate change is real".

... The report states that temperature observations, among others indicators, "clearly demonstrate climate change is real", and says that CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology "will continue to provide observations and research so Australia's responses are underpinned by clear empirical data".
Climate change is real and it's here: report

You can download the report here.

Spread the word.

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Just a Minute on Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island Stare from Kevin Rennie on Vimeo.

Vimeo 1-minute-videos:
-Video must be exactly one minute long
-No camera movement (no panning, tilting, etc)
-No editing whatsoever
-Use original sound

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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Talking Morocco for Global Voices

Moroccan blogger Hisham Khribchi of Talk Morocco talks about his writing as part of the BBC's SuperPower project. He is a regular on Global Voices.

I'm Attending Global Voices Citizen Media Summit 2010

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Global Citizen Voices Spread the Word

Global Voices will hold its biennial Citizen Media Summit 2010 in early May in Santiago, Chile.

Currently GV is teaming up with the BBC's SuperPower project:

...over the next two weeks we'll be selecting from, and linking to, relevant posts from Global Voices' network of 200 bloggers and citizen journalists and we'll also be asking Global Voices editors to give their views on how the mainstream media handle the news.
SuperPower: BBC and Global Voices
Fittingly the first article highlights the work of GV author Silvia Vinas:
Chileans have been using Twitter to highlight articles from indigenous Mapuche blogs and websites that point to widespread devastation in rural areas since the earthquake on 27 February. Many complain that the desperate situation in indigenous communities has scarcely been mentioned in Chilean media.

On Global Voices, Silvia Vinas has translated Spanish-language blogs and Twitter messages that demonstrate how the indigenous community is making its situation known on the web.
Chile's indigenous Mapuche speak out online
From Silvia's post:
After the massive earthquake that hit Chile on February 27, the media and the government have faced strong criticism for their lack of coverage and support for the small communities closest to the epicenter. One of these communities is the Mapuche indigenous people, whose territory is found in central and southern Chile.
Chile: Mapuche Communities Affected by Earthquake
It's just one of several GV posts about the earthquake here.

For more please click the links.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

UN Climate Review Red Herring

The United Nations is to review IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) processes. The IAC (InterAcademy Council) has been charged with this task.

It is not a review of the Climate science itself. It's about "quality control":

  • Analyse the IPCC process, including links with other UN agencies
  • Review the use of non-peer reviewed sources, and quality control on data
  • Assess how procedures handle "the full range of scientific views"
  • Review how the IPCC communicates with the public and the media
Scientists to review climate body (BBC 10 March 2010)
Let's hope it restores public trust.

The report, due in August, is a red herring. It's time for action not this distraction.  Its results will be ignored or distorted by the climate contrarians.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Lundy's Opt-out Option for Internet Filter

Hope this story about a possible opt-out option for Conroy's internet filter is accurate and has some legs:

A SPLIT has emerged in Labor ranks over Communications Minister Stephen Conroy's filter plan to limit internet porn after a backbencher confirmed she would seek to amend the legislation.

Labor Senator Kate Lundy plans to propose a filter “opt out” when the legislation goes before caucus.
Labor split as Kate Lundy proposes 'opt out' to Conroy ISP filter (The Australian, 24 FEb 2010)
I'm pessimistic as Senator Conroy has shown little interest in finding a consensus on this issue.

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Garrett Not Only One Who is Accountable to Voters

While Peter Garrett is under siege over insulationgate, we can only hope that those who are baying for blood will remember their concerns next time that Occupational Health & Safety on the political agenda.

The level of noise in parliament seems to be drowning out the blocking of the Youth Allowance and the Medicare Rebate bills. Nick Xenophon’s lame defence of his no-vote on the latter, yesterday on ABC Breakfast, was appalling. Seems that the conservatives will staunchly defend upper-middle-class welfare to the end.

The Senate is being used to disrupt effective government. At the same time Abbott continues to chant his spin that Rudd is a do-nothing PM. He can't have it both ways. If Labor had done nothing about the GFC then we'd have no problems with the insulation scheme.

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Monday, February 22, 2010

The Age: Sloppy, Sexist Journalism

The sub-editors at Fairfax can't be accused of being politically correct or factually correct for that matter.

This morning's story was headed, Senate to quiz Garrett's men:

Officials from Peter Garrett's department will be questioned at a Senate hearing today on the Environment Minister's response to a report warning of safety problems with the $2.45 billion insulation rebate.
The truth, had the newspaper bothered to find out, was that the lead witness was the head of the Environment Department, Department secretary Robyn Kruk:
The public servant in charge of Peter Garrett's Environment Department has apologised for the deaths of installers working under the Federal Government's scrapped home insulation scheme.

Department secretary Robyn Kruk was appearing at a Senate inquiry in Canberra as Environment Minister Mr Garrett prepared for another grilling over the insulation scheme fiasco in Question Time today.
Department head says sorry for insulation deaths
After 11 years without paper deliveries, I'm glad that The St.Kilda Football Club has a Friday-to-Monday Age subscription for $1.00 per week. This kind of sloppy, sexist journalism isn't worth full price.

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Vindaloo Against Violence Goes Viral

Cross post from Global Voices:

Migrants are always praised for broadening the food we eat. The multicultural cuisine cliché is being put to good use this Wednesday 24 February. This follows the furore caused by violence against Indians living in Australia. Better community relations are being promoted through our restaurants.
Australia: Vindaloo Against Violence Goes Viral

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Academy Awards Contenders: The Hurt Locker and Crazy Heart

A couple of reviews of Oscar contenders doing the rounds at present:

Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker is a well crafted film, with a tight, engrossing script by Mark Boal. It is visually appealing if that term can be used to describe Baghdad’s urban battleground. It tells the story of a US army bomb disposal team in Iraq in 2004.
It’s hard not to have problems with subject matter that is not only very confronting but whose multiple layers will appeal to diverse audiences. The horror and inhumanity of war may well be lost on those looking for an action adventure. You have to wonder whether this is an intentional marketing tool. The official website talks about “the military’s unrecognised heroes”.


Writer/director Scott Cooper’s Crazy Heart is the country music version of The Wrestler. A has-been loner struggles to regain career, love and self-respect. While alcohol runs his life, singing legend Bad Blake’s life consists of a downward spiral of one-night stands of both varieties. Bowling alleys, bars and baby-boomer groupies.

After four previous nominations, Jeff Bridges might pull off the Best Actor Oscar that eluded Mickey Rourke last year. He was robbed, of course. Bridges’ gravely voice and roadmap face are tailor-made for his role. He oozes authenticity from start to finish or perhaps it’s just sweat. If it’s not the Academy Award makeup, then Jeff should take the cure immediately.


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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Climate Change: Read the Science

From Scripps Institution of Oceanography, with thanks to Clarencegirl at North Coast Voices for her link:

Richard Somerville, a distinguished professor emeritus and research professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, issued the following statement in response to a recent request to address claims recently made by climate change denialists:

1. The essential findings of mainstream climate change science are firm. This is solid settled science. The world is warming. There are many kinds of evidence: air temperatures, ocean temperatures, melting ice, rising sea levels, and much more. Human activities are the main cause. The warming is not natural. It is not due to the sun, for example. We know this because we can measure the effect of man-made carbon dioxide and it is much stronger than that of the sun, which we also measure.

2. The greenhouse effect is well understood. It is as real as gravity. The foundations of the science are more than 150 years old. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere traps heat. We know carbon dioxide is increasing because we measure it. We know the increase is due to human activities like burning fossil fuels because we can analyze the chemical evidence for that.

3. Our climate predictions are coming true. Many observed climate changes, like rising sea level, are occurring at the high end of the predicted changes. Some changes, like melting sea ice, are happening faster than the anticipated worst case. Unless mankind takes strong steps to halt and reverse the rapid global increase of fossil fuel use and the other activities that cause climate change, and does so in a very few years, severe climate change is inevitable. Urgent action is needed if global warming is to be limited to moderate levels.

4. The standard skeptical arguments have been refuted many times over. The refutations are on many web sites and in many books. For example, natural climate change like ice ages is irrelevant to the current warming. We know why ice ages come and go. That is due to changes in the Earth's orbit around the sun, changes that take thousands of years. The warming that is occurring now, over just a few decades, cannot possibly be caused by such slow-acting processes. But it can be caused by man-made changes in the greenhouse effect.

5. Science has its own high standards. It does not work by unqualified people making claims on television or the Internet. It works by scientists doing research and publishing it in carefully reviewed research journals. Other scientists examine the research and repeat it and extend it. Valid results are confirmed, and wrong ones are exposed and abandoned. Science is self-correcting. People who are not experts, who are not trained and experienced in this field, who do not do research and publish it following standard scientific practice, are not doing science. When they claim that they are the real experts, they are just plain wrong.

6. The leading scientific organizations of the world, like national academies of science and professional scientific societies, have carefully examined the results of climate science and endorsed these results. It is silly to imagine that thousands of climate scientists worldwide are engaged in a massive conspiracy to fool everybody. The first thing that the world needs to do if it is going to confront the challenge of climate change wisely is to learn about what science has discovered and accept it.

A Response to Climate Change Denialism

Time to rekindle the debate. Send the SIO link to any doubters you know.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Burqa Strains Multicultural Australia

A cross post from Global Voices:

Since the proposed bans on the wearing of the burqa in France, the issue has been simmering in the Australian blogosphere. An Australian radio shock-jock, and ex-police officer, drew criticism recently over his opposition to the wearing of the burqa in public.

Michael Smith argued that bank staff and shop assistants are concerned with possible criminal misuse. He also suggested that young children are frightened by encounters with women wearing the “full-on burqa”, comparing it to “kids crying, getting the fright of their lives when seeing Santa Claus”.
Burqa Strains Multicultural Australia

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Tony Abbott's Plans: Ahead to the Past

We are getting a clearer picture of Opposition policies under Tony Abbott. It's full steam ahead to the past, circa 2004 to 2007:

Work Choices Light
Global Warming Slack
Hospital Boards Slight
Medibank Private Fire Sale
Refugee Reject
The attacks on Kevin Rudd are cleverly crafted but contradiction ridden:
  • The government does nothing (but it does it too quickly and it's too grand).
  • The deficit is too high (but revenue raising Bills are routinely blocked in the Senate)
  • The stimulus spending is trivial and ineffective (but local Liberals will take credit for new classrooms in their electorates)
  • The PM gives long, complex answers (when simpleton solutions make better sound-bites).
Will we see a triumph of cliché over substance in this year's election? Populism over policy?

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Altona By-election Swing No Surprise

Serious followers of Victorian politics should not have been surprised by the double figure (12% with over 80% of the enrolled voters counted) swing against the Brumby Labor government in yesterday's Altona By-election.

The Liberal Opposition leader, Ted Baillieu, has worked the issues and the media with uncharacteristic energy and finesse over the summer (Vic Opposition Take a Summer Break from Their Lethargy). The outgoing member Lynne Kosky was seen as incompetent at best and her transport portfolio has been imploding for some time. The controversy surrounding violence against Indians (Australia: Indian Homicide Reignites Racism Ruckus) underlined law and order issues that are the daily headlines of the daily papers and TV news.

To top it off Federal Labor had its worst week in recent memory.

More in-depth analysis of the result and reactions to it later in the week.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Malcolm Turnbull Spells Out the Climate Challenge

A cross post from Global Voices: Australia: Climate Change Election a Step Closer

Even before the Copenhagen Climate Change conference the Australian Opposition parties had dumped their support for a Cap and Trade scheme and their leader Malcolm Turnbull. Last week new Liberal party leader and global warming sceptic Tony Abbott released an alternative carbon emissions plan.

Meanwhile Kevin Rudd’s government has reintroduced its Emissions Trading Scheme to the House of Representatives where Turnbull crossed the floor to vote against his own party. Last year the ETS was blocked twice by the Senate after the Opposition dumped a negotiated deal.
Turnbull's full speech to parliament is a must read. There's a link in the GV post.

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A Little Bit of Climate Science

Another report that is bound to get the hackles up of the climate sceptics and deniers: 'Climate Change Update 2009' from the Research Service of the Victorian Parliamentary Library.

It was produced in December so it's bound to have some flaws. Given the weight of evidence, it certainly is a massive conspiracy by scientists to bring about dictatorial world government.

Their thoughts:

One of the key notions to emerge in the science this year has been the understanding that, far from being an event that can be transformed in one or two generations, climate change is a process of centuries duration. The implications of this understanding for the development of policy are immense.
Climate change update 2009
For the dedicated sceptic, it must be an onerous task sifting through the very extensive list of publications in the References section. Perhaps they'd be better off doing some science of their own. Not!

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Altona By-election Battles On

Transport and law 'n order have always been the main game in this Saturday's Altona by-election in Victoria. They will certainly be at top of the list at November's State election.

WHILE the Altona by-election war of words heated up between the two main parties last week, nominees continued to campaign heavily on the issue of public transport in the West.
ALP candidate Jill Hennessy said she believed the state of public transport was good, but could always be improved.

However, Liberal Party candidate Mark Rose said the state of public transport in Victoria was an “absolute joke.”
Transport battle (Williamstown, Altona, Laverton Star 9 Feb 2010)
Despite the relatively low profile of the campaign and predictions of a low turnout, some pundits are expecting a higher than average by-election swing against the Brumby government. Expect lots of spin either way on Sunday.

More at Red Bluff.

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Monday, February 8, 2010

Kowanyama Dreaming

Not your average police station wall. This painting by Colin Higgins (2002) is in Kowanyama aboriginal community on Queensland's Cape York.

It's great country:

Photos: Courtesy of Heather Milton

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Machu Picchu Mudslides

With growing concern for those stranded by the Peru floods in Aguas Calientes, this post from Global Voices is timely:

Local twitterers were especially active reporting the latest events in the disaster areas, and posting photos and videos almost in real time since early morning.
Peru: Heavy Rains and Mudslides in Cusco
The author, Juan Arellano's website Globalizado is in Spanish but google translate can help.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Flagging Australia Day.

When the Governor-General's representative in London visited Oz in 1954, I was six years old. We stood waiting patiently in Mt Alexander Road, near Melbourne's Essendon Airport for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. We had been given little British and Australian flags to greet her passing by. The Union Jack in both hands! The height-challenged amongst us also had periscopes similar to those used by the Anzac snipers at Gallipoli. Neither the flags or scopes were much use as the royal Roller flew by at speed.

In the good old days (god for short) it was generally un-Australian to indulge in excessive flag waving or ostentatious patriotism. It was a bit like disputing the umpire's decision or revealing family business to friends, much less strangers, or the media.

It was an era in which Australian Story and A Current Affair would have lacked the stream of volunteers ready to spill their guts or dob in their mates. someone who erected a flagpole on their front lawn wold have been shunned by the neighbours.

When god ruled, the Southern Cross in the guise of the Eureka flag, was associated with the dreaded Builders Labourers Federation or the local commies. Today it is becoming tainted with redneck, true blue Aussie jingoism : Our national flag has been highjacked by hillbillies Please excuse the mixed-colour metaphor.

In 1954 the only cars that wore the Australian flag belonged to Her Majesty's/Commonwealth of Australia car fleet. Today our local supermarket has the OZ flag on stubby holders. Is nothing sacred?

In the great flag debate, I favour some version of the aboriginal flag and the Southern Cross. Bound to upset lots of people.

Topically, India also has its National Day on 26 January. It is a republic with its own flag, as well as being a member of the Commonwealth of Nations aka the former British Empire. Its Independence Day is on 15 August. Indians celebrate the end of colonialism, as we commemorate the beginning.

More at my new website Red Bluff

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School League Tables Spark Stoush

It's no secret that there is no love lost between the Deputy PM and Education Mnister, Julia Gillard, and the teacher unions. The industrial action by the Victorian branch of the Australian Education Union just 3 days before the 2007 Federal election didn't help. Members of her staff were still smarting on election night even after the result was known.

The latest bad blood is about the so-called "school league tables". The government website starts on Thursday:

A SHOWDOWN is looming between the Federal Government and teachers over the publication of information on the nation's more than 10,000 schools that will allow the creation of so-called league tables.

From Thursday, the My School website will detail - among other things - individual schools' attendance and retention rates, an index of disadvantage, and results in national numeracy and literacy tests.
Showdown between Gillard, teachers looming over schools website

Industrial action has been threatened by the AEU:
Public school teachers at an Australian Education Union meeting have voted unanimously to boycott national literacy and numeracy tests unless the Government changes its plans to publish the results online.
Teachers vote to boycott school tests
Meanwhile principals have questioned the effectiveness of the disadvantaged rating system:
The International Confederation of School Principals says there is no evidence to suggest rating schools will help those that are disadvantaged.

...The confederation's Australian-based executive secretary, Ted Brierley, says the system has failed in England and the United States.

"The problem is, very rarely, if ever, has funds ever been generated in sufficient quantities to enable any improvements to occur in those schools," he said.
School disadvantage ratings system 'just doesn't work'
Julia is unmoved by threats of a boycott:
Education Minister Julia Gillard has vowed to take action to ensure national literacy and numeracy exams go ahead if teachers boycott the testing.
Gillard warns teachers over tests
My view after three decades teaching in schools is that the energy that goes into the testing, teaching to the tests and engaging in unhealthy competition between schools, would be much better spent on teaching and learning. During our years in Arnhem Land, the waste of valuable time and resources going into the testing regime in remote indigenous schools was disgraceful.

The Opposition are happy to wedge the ALP and its teacher constituency by opposing a scheme similar to ones they have proposed in the past.

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Victorian Hoon Bidding Spree

It was bound to become a bidding war. Following the Victorian State Opposition's holidays offensive , there is a law and order bidding spree:

The State Government has announced plans to strengthen Victoria's dangerous driving laws, hours after the Opposition released its own hoon driving policy.

Mr Holding says the money raised from selling cars will be donated to victims of crime and road tragedies.

The plans come after the Opposition released its anti-hoon policy earlier today.

The Opposition's policy is a three-step process that includes impounding the driver's car and eventually crushing it should they re-offend.
Government and Opposition talk tough on hoon drivers
Wouldn't have anything to do with the Altona by-election in 3 weeks time or the State election in November. Better start building more prisons ASAP.

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