Saturday, June 26, 2010

Julia Gillard PM

Julia Gillard was elected unopposed at a Federal Labor Party Meeting on Thursday morning. It was a coup orchestrated by "backroom johnnies". Among them were Mark Arbib (NSW), Bill Shorten (Vic), David Feeney (Vic), but others within the various factions were galvanised.

By the time Julia Gillard saw Kevin Rudd between 7:30 - 8:00pm, he was doomed. The numbers had already been locked in.

His live press conference at about 10pm saw Rudd at the best he had been for months. Plain-speaking, talked about his election by the people as Prime Minister; and about items he was going to put back on the agenda, including climate change/ETS; the mining tax. He was too late. Had he spoken like that, and had the government run with its agenda, his popularity might have continued, and he would still be Prime Minister. it should be noted, though, that we voters did NOT directly vote for him as PM; we voted for more Labor MP's than Liberal-National MP's. Rudd became PM because he was the leader of the party with the most representatives in Parliament.

A few points are worth noting about the process:
  • Liberal (Opposition) Leader Tony Abbott has criticised the process, describing Ms Gillard's election as PM as "political assassination". That might be, but is exactly what Tony Abbott did to Malcolm Turnbull, when he deposed Turnbull as Leader of the Liberal Party.  It is how most party political leaders obtain the position. Just ask any of the following from recent memory: Alexander Downer  (Liberal Party - deposed by John Howard); Bob Hawke (Labor - deposed by Paul Keating); Malcolm Turnbull (Liberal - deposed by Tony Abbott); Kim Beasley (Labor - deposed by Kevin Rudd). The comment from Abbott is hypocritical, and designed to hoodwink voters.
  • Kevin Rudd, realising he had no chance, did not stand for the leadership. The overwhelming vote, arranged for Ms Gillard, was not needed. Ms Gillard was elected unopposed. Rudd, in the end, ensured that there was no divisive vote, no acrimony within the party.
  • The Federal Labor Party must now be very careful that it does not become tainted by backroom deals in the same way that the NSW Labor Government has.
Already the polls show a significant swing back to Labor, and the Liberal Party Council is meeting today to try to plan how to overcome Julia Gillard's effect on voters. They are running scared. If Prime Minister Gillard chooses to have a Parliamentary sitting in August-September, it would only be to introduce legislation so she can go to the polls with "achievements". I doubt she will. My guess is that Julia Gillard might call an election for late August, or September. She would not have to have the scheduled August sitting of Parliament, avoiding the cheap point-scoring and tabloid headlines of Question Time; and it would give her time to soothe the few sores that Labor currently has: climate change; the proposed mining tax; and education spending. (already shuffled off to an inquiry for the Government).


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Labor Madness

Tonight's news is that Federal Labor factional powerbrokers are meeting tonight to discuss the possibility of a leadership challenge. The intended replacement is, presumably, Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard. The intended victim is Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. The meeting follows the last day of the winter session of Federal Parliament, and follows some weeks of relatively poor poll results. Some MP's are supposedly leaving for warmer climes, or on overseas travel. Prime Minister Rudd is supposed to leave for Canada tomorrow. Some elements within the party, and some pro-conservative elements in the media (News Ltd and Sky News) have been pushing the leadership agenda.

An election is due late this year, or by early March next year at the latest. Why would members of a party contemplate deposing their, & the nation's, leader just months before an election? Politics, selfishness and stupidity. Julia Gillard is still the darling of the left faction, and they want their girl as leader. MP's in marginal seats are worried they will lose - they will probably lose anyway, since historically large electoral victories are somewhat re-balanced at the next election as voters "protest against the government". This happens more often than not.

Nevertheless, Kevin Rudd would probably not be in this position if he, and the members of the Labor Government, and adopted what we have consistently said that politicians should do:
  1. seek professional advice and determine good policy (not politics!!)
  2. spend less time (& money) on "media management" and more time on policy
  3. determine the legislation based on the professional advice they receive
  4. explain the policy to the people
  5. introduce and run with the legislation that is in the best interests of Australia, & Australians.
If the Opposition block the legislation, by all means take the policy to the people at the next election. Voters are not stupid, although News Ltd will consistently run pro-Liberal "stories", and some voters will never change.

News of the current leadership fiasco has been driven,partly by the media, (news stories can spook  politicians) but by stupid politicians running with a selfish political agenda. A reasonable person would question their loyalty to the Labor Party.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Racism, Alcohol & Sport

This week saw NSW (‘Blues’) representative league player, Timana Tahu, walk out of the team camp, & the team. Assistant Coach, Andrew Johns, is reported to have made racial comments about three Queensland players: Greg Inglis, Jonathan Thurston & Sam Thaiday. The remarks were apparently made during a drinking session with the players.

There are 2 main issues with which rugby league, the NSWRL, and sports in general, must address:
  • Racism: are there underlying racist attitudes of some of its members? When asked, I am sure every single player, coach, supporter, official will say that they are not racist. Yet occasional derogatory comments about race are still made on the field. they don’t happen often, but they do still happen. Perpetrators often dismiss it as ‘sledging’ and ‘it didn’t mean anything’. But it reflects deep-seated attitudes, some of which surface under pressure. Timana Tahu has apparently thought for some time before taking his action. He is to be commended for not acting in haste; and for taking action on principle. The alleged racist comments are the most important driver of events.
  • Alcohol & drugs: the time has long since passed when team “bonding sessions” should be based on alcoholic stupor, and the stupidity that follows. With respect to Andrew Johns, he has already publicly admitted he is an alcoholic - “For me the problem was alcohol” (& ecstasy). [Andrew Johns, to Phil Gould on The Footy Show, 30-Aug-2007.]
Rugby League managers and administrators put Andrew Johns, and others, in a position where the consumption of grossly excessive amounts of alcohol are not only encouraged, but almost mandatory under considerable peer pressure. Andrew Johns lived a lie involving alcoholism and drug abuse for 10 years. Why would the NSWRL put him into such a situation as part of his work? They must be in breach of OH&S laws. Don’t think the NSW team is alone; Queensland will have had such an alcoholic session. Similar drinking sessions usually follow a game on Friday, Saturday, Sunday; for representative games, for NRL club games, for local club games. Addressing the issue must also include addressing alcohol sponsorship of players, clubs and teams – here the NRL will likely do nothing, they are too gutless: after all, it’s all about the money, not good principle.

Racism; alcohol, and alcoholic players; and the use of drugs on Friday & Saturday night after games are issues that the NRL must address. It’s not the only sport.


Saturday, June 05, 2010

Libs New Plan To 'Stop the Boats'

Fictional Media Conference involving Liberal Party & Coalition Leader Tony Abbott and ...

Tony Abbott appears wearing shirt, conservative-blue tie, dark suit coat, and ... budgie smugglers!

[Journalist]: Mr Abbott, why are you wearing budgie smugglers?
[Abbott]: Err, I never miss a chance. And anyway, arh, I have to keep fit if I'm going to be, arh, the next Prime Minister of Australia.
[Journalist]: Who's that with you? No, not your throng of media advisers and head-nodders. Who's that? (points at 11th person in Abbott's throng, standing off to side)
[Abbott]: Who? Um, Oh, OH! - that's my Shadow Minister for err, Immigration.
[Journalists]: (as one) Who is it and why are they wearing a John Howard, one-eyed mask?
[Abbott]: Not relevant. The point is, arh, teh point is only the Coalition can STOP THE BOATLOADS OF REFUGEES. We did it before and we'll do it better next time.
[Journalist]: How? Christmas Island is already full, NZ won't take them again, and Nauru will likely be under water soon, with the effects of global warming, won't it?
[Abbott]: Arh, heh-heh, Nah - that's just a left-wing Labor, commie refugee conspiracy. BUT, ONLY WE CAN STOP THE BOATS!
[Journalists]: (all as one) HOW?
[Abbott]: The Coalition will outsource border security against refugees to the Israeli Government. They did a wonderful job on those ships going to Gaza. The Israelis will use their warships, zodiacs, helicopters and commandos. After all, some of those commandos are Aussies. We will pay for them with AGBNTOE(*) The boats will stop, and we will be able to focus all our energies on the important things. (thinks - and those sucker voters will vote for us)
[Journalist]: Such as?
[Abbott]: New Industrial Relations. Before you ask, the term 'WorkChoices' is dead, we won't call it that. And a new immigration policy targeting 457-visa workers for employment; and my colleague here (aside - what's your name, son?) - yes, of course, Scott Morrison, will concentrate in the lab on resurrecting the White Australia Policy. That's all folks - no more questions. (thinks - because we don't have any answers)

Abbott, surrounded by nodding media advisers and ... what-his-name with the Howard mask, shuffles off to Parliament House.


* AGBNTOE - A Great Big New Tax On Everything.

(with acknowledgement to Chris Henning, whose 'True Fictions' column in the Sydney Morning Herald inspired this)