Monday, August 30, 2010

Libs' Bovver Boys Go Calling

Since the end of last week, the NSW Liberal Party's federal "bovver boys" - political bullies - have swung into action. At the end of last week it was Alby Schultz, Member for Hume. He reportedly ran Independents Tony Windsor & Rob Oakeshott.

One of his local newspapers, the Goulburn Post (25-Aug-2010) reported that he is ‘close friends with key independents Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott’, and that he would not be ‘weighing into negotiations unless he’s asked.’ He was quoted, saying “I thought it was absolute stupidity for the leader of the National Party to make comments seeking to influence or denigrate people about where they put their allegiances when we have a likely situation of a hung parliament and we are wanting to get into dialogue with them ... It shows a lack of political nous.

Yet last week, he rang Independents (Tony Windsor & Rob Oakeshott), accusing them of being “arrogant, naive and holding the country to ransom”; telling them they had to support the Coalition; and was reportedly so threatening to Tony Windsor that Mr Abbott had to later apologise to the Tamworth-based Independent MP.

It would seem that Mr Schultz possibly:
  • has been asked to become involved (unlikely, since Tony Abbott moved quickly to distance himself); or
  • simply tried his hand at political bullying, perhaps at the behest of his 'friend' Senator Bill Heffernan (If so, it was a failure);
  • misleads members of his electorate; and 
  • by his own words has "a lack of political nous"!
Today, Senator Bill Heffernan has been identified as the Liberal Party caller to Rob Oakeshott's home phone. It was answered by his wife, and Heffernan is reported to have said words like 'It's the devil calling'. He tried to explain it away by saying he thought it was one of Mr Oakeshott's children. If that's the case, it is disgraceful, and Tony Abbott should move to have him censured by Parliament, and by the Liberal Party. The current defense is that he does it to everyone he knows - I'm not sure he knows Rob Oakeshott's children that well!

Again, the motive was political bullying, and it appears to be not uncommon among Liberal Party members. Senator Heffernan was former PM, John Howard's, henchman in Parliament.

Both of these men are bullies. Both have behaved in a way that is inappropriate in any workplace. Politics should be no exception. Politiking is one thing, bullying must never be acceptable.

Parliamentary bullying ought to one item on the agenda for reform of Parliamentary processes.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Who Will The Independents Choose?

One correspondent has asked me the following question, via the contact form.
"... who do you think the Independents will side with? Being fairly (can never say one is 100%) unbiased, you are perhaps in a better position than most to see which of the parties and their leaders is making the better pitch and has the better points."
It's a difficult question. Julia Gillard appears to be presenting as a calmer, more rational, more open, amenable & cooperative negotiator. Tony Abbott began with a rather belligerent, tough, stance, but has had to quickly backflip on Treasury costings, and then provide plenty of spin for the news. Too many voters are sucked-in by 'spin'.

Tony Windsor, Bob Katter, Rob Oakeshott, and (likely) now Andrew Wilkie will not be taken in by the political & media posturing by either leader. Those performances are for public consumption & poll manipulation. The Independents want to look at treasury costings of both parties' policies, with treasury briefings. The first 3 mentioned have presented their 7-point wish-list, and been negotiating wit the leaders. They will be acutely aware that all members of the National Party, including leader Warren Truss, have been kept out of negotiations because of ongoing resentment by the Nationals about their leaving the National Party to become Independent MP's.

They are conservative MP's, some of whom view Julia Gillard's Labor Pary as left-wing. (it's members really mostly range from centre-left through centre to centre-right conservative)

Tony Abbott is a smart politician, but a political bully - he will reach a point in negotiations when he will not be able to help himself. I think that the only way the Independents will support Tony Abbott as PM is if he undertakes more, significant backflips on climate change, the National Broadband (optic fibre) Network, possibly the tax on super mining profits, reform of Question Time, and parliamentary accountability of Ministers. I suspect they will have some doubts about the economic nous of Tony Abbott et al. after treasury briefings.
My prediction: as much as they dislike Labor, I think they will support Julia Gillard as PM, because she will be less belligerent, and more agreeable, during negotiations. Labor's economic policies are largely conservative, but there will almost certainly requests to amend them. If Tony Abbott suspects he will lose, he will more strenuously strive for a fresh election &/or try to destabilize Parliament.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Abbott's Great Big Treasury Backflip

After several days of steadfast resistance to submitting Liberal & National Party policy costings, Tony Abbott has agreed to Treasury costing of Coalition election policies & promises. The underlying assumptions will not be provided to the ALP, but the Independents will have access to treasury briefings on both Labor and Coalition policy costings & analysis by Treasury.

This did require consent from both Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott to amend the conventions covering caretaker governments & oppositions.

As late as last night, Coalition Shadow Finance spokesman, Andrew Robb, said "We don't want to have a fight with these guys (the Independents), but we're not going to be dictated to and not tug our forelock.." Today, he'll wish he hadn't said it like that, with its implied sexual innuendo - some people will call him  "tugger" today.

The backflip occurred quickly to stifle any public comment, and voter belief, that he, and the Coalition, have something to hide. Last night Independents Bob Katter & Tony Windsor publicly questioned whether Mr Abbott had something to hide by not submitting policies to Treasury for costing.

Meanwhile, Mr Abbott moved quickly to distance himself from loopy Family First Senator Steve Fielding's threat that he might vote against (all) Labor legislation & possibly block (money) supply. Julia Gillard, despite having fundamental differences of philosophy with Senator Feilding, quickly tried to smmoth the waters, saying she had been, and would continue to, try to work with Senator Fielding, citing the Fair Work Australia legislation that undid much of the insidious parts of WorkChoices. There might be other Coalition backflips still to come - climate change springs to mind.

The quest for power occurs almost without principles, regardless of who it is.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Abbott Reverts To Type

Two days after publicly calling for a "kinder, gentler polity" approach to politics, Tony Abbott has shown his true colours. He has gone hard against some of the requests of the Independents, whose support he wants to become Prime Minister. It's the hard-ball political bully many people believe him to be.

In particular, he is refusing to submit any Coalition policies to treasury for funding. Instead, he has offered access to the report from the accounting firm WHK Horwath. The firm has significant links to the Liberal Party through the family of former Liberal WA Premier Sir Charles Court, & his family. The firm has a significant conflict of interest, not declared by Abbott. At the same time, he has also claimed that treasury costings of Opposition policies will damage our Westminster system of democracy. Well, I hope you recognise that as poppycock; a distractor from the real issue of Treasury costings which he clearly does not want.

If the Independents are to adequately compare the costings of both Labor & the Coalition, the costings should be done by Treasury. It means that the same methodology & measurements will be used, giving a comparison that is more reliable.

Abbott is a formidable politician,  and he's trying to publicly stare down the Independents. But they, too, are hardened politicians, especially Bob Katter and Tony Windsor, and they will not resile form a political dog-fight, if that is what Abbott wants. If they hold out and say 'no deal', Abbott will have to find a way to save face.

Abbott is risking much with this anti-Treasury stance: antagonising the Independents, and antagonising the very Treasury that he needs, IF he becomes Prime Minister.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Independents Present 7-Point Plan

The key independents have today given both Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott their 7-point plan. While it has not been released publicly, Julia Gillard has indicated her commitment to a full term of Government should they support her as PM. I suspect that at least the following are on the agenda: Broadband Internet, climate change,  regional health programs & infrastructure, and the tax on very large mining profits. Ms Gillard reportedly took to the meeting a portfolio of things her government (well, the last Labor Government, led by Kevin Rudd) had done for each of their electorates. It will have required at least 1 backflip - on climate change, where she had said she would not act during the coming term of government. There is a level of expediency involved, but perhaps not as much as with Tony Abbott & the Liberal-National coalition.

In largely agreeing to their requests/demands, and announcing so publicly, Ms Gillard has really given Tony Abbott a "Hobson's choice". If he agrees to the requests as Ms Gillard has, Mr Abbott will perform at least 2 significant backflips: broadband policy, where he will largely have to agree to the National Broadband Network of optic fibre, and action on climate change, which he denies for political, but not scientific, reasons.

I expect the meeting with Mr Abbott to have been rather tense, even without National Party Leader Warren Truss being involved. He's been sidelined because of the none-too-secret loathing from the National Party towards its 3 former members. Mr Abbott's choice is to largely accept the Independents' requests, while trying to dilute them, or risk not becoming PM. His earlier statement about an Independent speaker wasnoting other than a statement of political reality - if he becomes PM in a minority government, he does not want to appoint one of his members, Liberal or Natinal, as Speaker of the House, and essentially lose that vote. That stattement was driven by politics; altruism never entered his head.

Does Mr Abbott stick to his political principles and say 'No' to some things, or abandon them for the sake of possible political power. Political expediency is a strong driving force - quite possibly stronger than Mr Abbot's, or the Coalition parties', ethics.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Truepolitiking The Independents

As the reality of not winning has seared itself on the brains of Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott, the politics begins. First up were the overtures to the Independents. We'll come back to that.

Next came the claims of legitimacy. Tony Abbott claimed, rightly, that the ALP government had lost its legitimacy to govern, but he forgot to say the people did NOT give it to him. Julia Gillard was quick to point out that, and that, as PM, she had heard "the message" from voters.

Then came "the numbers" claims. Tony Abbott claimed that he should form government in a hung Parliament because the Coalition had the highest Primary vote. Except Australia doesn't elect members, or Prime Ministers, on a simplistic primary vote. Julia Gillard claimed she should form the government, because the 2-party preferred numbers favoured her. The difference is so small as to be negligible, and, again, that's not how we elect our Prime Minister. The statements on legitimacy & voting numbers are simply to influence public opinion, and to reinforce the leaders' own sense of messianic leadership. They are for public consumption, and will be ignored by the Governor-General, Quentin Bryce.

So, the real action is behind the scenes. Wooing the Independents will not be easy, for either leader. Rob Bandt (Greens, Melbourne) has indicated he will support Labor to form government. The remaining 3 certain Independent MP's are Bob Katter (Qld), Tony Windsor (NSW), & Rob Oakeshott (NSW). All were members of the National Party, but all left it for philosophical reasons. There is no love within the Coalition for these men, only what they have to do to form government.

The problems for Tony Abbott include: all 3 want the NBN (National Broadband Network, of optic fibre); all recognise that privatising the NBN will not be in the interests of their regional constituents; Rob Oakeshott and, possibly, Tony Windsor are likely to favour action on Climate Change; Bob Katter wants import tariffs on farm produce, and to ban imports of bananas & some other fruit. Coalition Senator Barnaby Joyce and Tony Windsor make no secret of their mutual loathing. I'm sure that none will want any education and health cuts in their electorates, as promised by Tony Abbott. The NBN, Climate Change and not cutting education & health would be serious back-flips for Tony Abbott, and he is unlikely to agree to them.

Action on Climate Change will be a sticky point for Julia Gillard: she promised no action on Climate Change for the duration of this government! Perhaps Julia Gillard will have a better chance of negotiating, with only the one backflip: action on Climate Change.

Of the threee Independents, I believe that Bob Katter is most likely to remain 'Independent' - that is, will not support either the Labor or Coalition to form government.

Stay tuned. This drama will beat anything on TV


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Mad Maxine Dumps On Party

Maxine McKew has gone from her to nobody to villain. In 2007 she defeated the then imcumbent Prime Minister, John Howard, taking his seat of Bennelong. The former journalist was a strong supporter of Kevin Rudd, and, in turn, had his support while he was Prime Minister.

Many believe she won the seat on the back of strong protest vote against John Howard, who was responsible for introducing the controversial, and socially divisive, WorkChoices legislation.

The Liberal Party dropped a high-profile, but unproven, candidate in former tennis player, John Alexander, who won the seat from Ms McKew. Ms McKew proceded to dump on her party, and her colleagues, blaming them for her loss. The image below sprang to mind, of mad Maxine & the 'Scream'.

With aploogies to Edvard Munch (and Homer Simpson)


Predicted Hung Parliament

At 1:30 this Sunday morning, with about 78% of votes counted nationally, the predicted state of our national Parliament is:

Labor 70; Coalition 72; Greens 1; Others 4.
76 seats would give any party/coalition a majority, and government.

Of the 5.5% swing against the ALP, only 1.8% went to the Coalition. The Greens picked up 3.7% of the swing against the ALP, which has given it its first seat in the House of Representatives at a general election, and almost certainly a balance of power in the Senate. The strong swing to The Greens probably indicates dissatisfaction with the ALP's social policies: the hard line of refugees (to try to be the same as the Coalition), lack of action and commitment to act on Climate Change. The Greens showed some social vision in their policies, and I suspect this appealed to voters more than the blancmange, & porkbarelling dished up by the major parties.

At this stage is is more likely that the Coalition, led by Tony Abbott, might have a better chance of forming a government. However, he will be frustrated by lack of control in the Senate, and will likely be forced into more socially equitable compromises than he would like. Industrial relations amendment, to bring back elements of WorkChoices such as easier dismissal, individual contracts, shorter annual leave and lower or no national wage increases, will be shelved until the Coalition has both government & control of the Senate. Make no mistake, IR is on the 'wish-list' of legislation when the Coalition has full control of Parliament.

Stay tuned - there is much more to come in this saga, including the possibility of a second general election if neither side can form a viable government.


Friday, August 20, 2010


As Australian prepare to vote tomorrow, the polls are showing a nail-biting finish to the election.

Julia Gillard has certainly run hard today with the spectre of WorkChoices return under Tony Abbott. I believe it is a real risk. In the second term, Abbott will want to use, for example, the local hospital boards as a means of implementing WorkChoices-style AWA's - individual contracts offered with no negotiation. The method will be to offer local hospital boards more money, provided they implement AWA's.

My personal opinion is that there are more reasons to NOT vote for Tony Abbott's Coalition, than there are rreasons to NOT vote for Julia Gillard's Labor Party. The election campaign has been that negative.

As for tomorrow's result, I will hesitantly offer the following possibilities:

  • Labor retains government, with preferences from The Greens, with a 2-seat majority.
  • The Coalition wins, with a 3 to 5 seat majority.

It all depends on the votes in individual seats.

Ignore Mark Latham's advice to leave the ballott papers blank: he's an idiot. Anyone who saw him on news reports would have thought that. VOTE PROPERLY. By voting properly, you strengthen our democracy, you can send messages to politicians with the preferences you give, you can determine which party controls the Senate. It WILL count, and will determine who governs this great country.

Vote well.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tony's Bonds

Tony Abbott has announced he'll implement an Infrastructure Bonds program to help private companies and governments build infrastructure.

The "sweetener" is a 10% tax rebate on the interest income. The (government) Infrastructure Fund Manager would collect the bond money, and distribute it to government/private companies Private entities will own the infrastructure.

There are a few extras that people need to know, but which Tony Abbott hasn't indicated:
  • Government Bonds generally return quite a low rate of interest. Investors should be looking at the effective rate of return, and the tax sweetener might not be enough. At the end of the bond's life, you get your money back: a $10,000 bond will not be worth $10,000 in 10 years' time, even allowing for the interest payments.
  • Tony Abbott's plans involve providing the bond money to private companies. Why not let the market decide if those private companies are worth investing in? That, at least, would fit with one of the Liberal Party's tenets of private enterprise. The answer is that companies which build infrastructure in a public/private arrangement with governments do not have a good record. Their record includes borrowing ever more money in the first 5-10 years to pay large dividends. This is bad for the debt-to-equity ratio, and the business. Several have gone broke in NSW and Queensland.
  • If the Government's bond money is used to fund rail & roads, expect a significant $ Toll from the private company. Taxpayers will still be paying, as will non-taxpayers. (eg pensioners) to use them.
  • If the bonds total $1.5 Billion, that amount has been taken out of the money market. There is then the  potential for increased interest rates because the money would have been invested elsewhere. IF Superannuation companies invest in them,, they are less likely to also invest in as many shares in those companies, which could cause problems of capitalization.
Like so many other policies, there is much that Tony Abbott & Joe Hockey are not telling us voters.

Caveat emptor - buyer beware.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Which Party Best Suits You

I started to produce a table with a synopsis of some of the policies of the major parties, using the very short statements from the major parties: Labor, Liberal and National Parties, and The Greens. I stopped after 2 policies, because a friend rang and pointed me to the site linked at the bottom of this post.

Before I provide the link, my profile at right indicates my politics are largely centrist, but vary between centre-left and centre-right. I have also previously posted about the shift to the right by the Labor Party, the Liberal Party and the National Party. See the chart on my post of 17-July at

The issues covered are: Tax, Government Spending, Immigration, Education, Environment, Employment & Industrial Relations, Health, Defence, Communications (Internet), Indigenous Affairs. There are 3 "tie-breaker" questions on the Use of Deficits, Government action on Carbon Emissions, Industrial Relations (WorkChoices options)

My results, reflecting my basic centre-conservatism with a social concience, are shown below.

NO - I do NOT support the Labor Party - if you read my blog, you will see I have been critical of both Julia Gillard and the Labor Party; and Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party.

The Link is:


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Labor's Education Madness

The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has  released a new Education Policy that includes the following:
  • the present funding formula for schools will remain, at least until 2013. That would be an election year, so she won't change it then, either! the funding is applied selectively, so that public schools, especially those with many children from lower socio-economic areas are excluded. If applied uniformly, public schools would receive massive increases in funding.
  • tax deductions for school uniforms. Yes, I know they can be expensive, especially when you have several children. Just ask my wallet. But this policy is designed to appeal most to those who choose to send their children to private schools. Parents make that choice, knowing they will have to pay for uniforms. This policy will direct tax-payer money mostly to people who have more money. It will not help the families on welfare, or low-income earners sending their children to public schools. It's a policy to buy votes; it's tawdry. [OK - the Liberals policy is worse: they will give about $10,000 of taxpayer money back to a person who pays $24,000 for 1 child to attend 1 private school. Yes, I know some families make sacrifices to send children to some private schools. However, the rich of Sydney & Melbourne will certainly benefit from that redistribution to the wealthy!]
  • performance assessment and bonuses for 10% of teachers, and schools. In NSW there are about 50,000 public school teachers with an estimated 15,000 private school teachers. With a "top" bonus of $8100 multiplied by 10% of 65,000 teachers, that equates to more than $52 Million in NSW. The issue of bonuses is divisive: NSW Principals Association doesn't believe they are good policy; nor do public and private teacher unions. Many say that money would be better spent on lower class sizes, more support staff, better resources. But bonuses appeal to Julia Gillard, and some "dry" economists. They want to reduce education to a factory output of numbers.
  • Labor also wants to reward the "better" schools, schools whose results improve, but penalize schools that do need help. This policy has not worked in Britain, and it has not worked in the US. There is no indication it would be educationally effective in Australia.
Ms Gillard's education policy would contribute nothing to the social infrastructure of education, and would cause division among teachers, between schools, and between school systems. The reality is, it is bad policy; and bad economics. Aside: the Liberals education policy isn't any better.


    Monday, August 09, 2010

    Libs Economic Woes

    Today was not a good day for Tony Abbott.  After yesterday's official election launch in Brisbane, he was a rooster. Today, he's a feather-duster. Tony Abbott, Joe Hockey, Andrew Robb & Barnaby Joyce were all part of some economic shambles. Politicians love the media attention ... except when they fall over themselves making mistakes.

    In a week when Labor is running ads showing part of an interview in which Peter Costello said he wouldn't support Tony Abbott to run the economy, Mr Abbott  & friends stumbled on economics. It went like this:
    • on radio this morning, Tony Abbott announced net recurrent spending cuts of more than $18 Billion, and that the Coalition's spending on policies would be much less than that. (ie less than $18 Billion)
    • at the National Press Club debate with Wayne Swan, Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey said "We've announced savings of $28.534 billion, so, so far we have $2.8 billion of net savings on the announced policies" That is, spending on policies would be about $25 - $26 Billion:  more than $7 Billion more than the $18 Billion claimed by Tony Abbott. 
    • Later in the day, Andrew Robb tried to explain away the difference, saying that Joe Hockey had included the $7Billion savings from the policy to drop the extra tax on super-mining profits. Except that that figure is accepted by Tony Abbott as $10 Billion, not $7 Billion.
    • Barnaby Joyce was interviewed on SykNews in the afternoon, and repeatedly tried to deflect questions on the Coalition's costs of policies, and tried to redirect an answer about Labor. When challenged about the costs of Coalition policies, he said that policies would be submitted to treasury for costings, and "we don't have the resources that Labor has" (that's true, but the reverse was true before the last election, when Joyce was part of a government! He was just having a whinge) The real economic faux pas by Barnaby Joyce was that the Coalition must submit policies AND costings to Treasury. Treasury doesn't do costings for the Opposition!
    It's impossible for voters not to think that Abbott, Hockey, Robb and Joyce don't have a handle on economics. It will probably be reflected in polling about which party is the better economic manager.


    Sunday, August 08, 2010

    A Christian Government?

    This week there were reports in the media from some Christians, indicating that they could not vote for Labor, because Julia Gillard is not a Christian, and their pastor had told them they had to vote Liberal to get a Christian as Prime Minister. Some thoughts quickly sprang to mind.

    It is NOT the role of those who run a church to tell people who they can, or can not, vote for. At all! My vote comes from my consideration of the policies of offer (so dreadfully lacking in details), and the quality of the local candidate. Some of you will have the choice of an Independent candidate, as well. Mostly, it seems, the pastors are from the more fundamentalist Christian churches, and it almost reminds one of the control that Scientology and The Exclusive Brethren  exert over many of their members. While it was once not uncommon in 'mainstream' Christian churches to direct people how to vote in the 1950's and 60's, most have long since ceased such interference in personal political affairs.

    Electing a "Christian" Prime Minister, does not mean that you will get a Christian government. Consider the previous Liberal-National Government, led by John Howard, a Methodist, and which had Tony Abbott, a Catholic, as a member. Consider the following:
    • WorkChoices: a system designed to lower the wages of working people, to make it easier for them to be sacked, which allowed 'take-it-or-leave' contracts, and which was designed to distribute that money to companies. Was that Christian? Would Christ have done that? Tony Abbott vigorously defends WorkChoices.
    • Treatment of refugees: the use of Nauru and Baxter detention centres drew sharp criticism from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Among other criticisms, Nauru and Baxter were used to inter women and children, and separate them from their husbands/fathers for years; and the 'Christian' government knew, and did noting about, the psychological trauma. Was that Christian? Would Christ have done that?
    • Social Security and 'middle-class welfare': Tony Abbott was part of a government that made it more difficult for people to receive welfare, at times when they needed it. The Australian Council of Social Service, and individual social service providers, including St Vincent de Paul and the Salvation Army, were critical of the Howard-government policies. Tony Abbott defended them. At the same time as Howard's government made it harder for those needing social services, it embarked on a redistribution of the savings to those who were already better off. Was that Christian? Would Christ have done that?
    • The government of which Tony Abbott was a member, deliberately misled Australian voters in the 'children overboard affair', during an election campaign, no less. 
      (See: ) Members of the 'Christian' government lied. Was that Christian? Would Christ have done that?
    Electing a 'Chistian' as Prime Minister will not give us a Christian government. Do not let any pastor, or other church official, tell you otherwise. ALL political parties have non-Christians, and set a purely secular agenda, often designed to appeal to the lowest common votes - personal greed and fear. So, it would be best to set aside any religious considerations, and decide which party / candidate will best act in Australia's interests, and in the real best interests of Australians.

    The Good Samaritan, although not one of the Chosen People, was a much better person than those 'Chosen People' who ignored the plight of of a fellow human being.


    Thursday, August 05, 2010

    Abbott's Beds Hide Agenda

    Tony Abbott has promised funding for 2800 more public hospital beds. It sounds good, and will appeal to voters. But what are they getting?
    • funding will not be made available until AFTER the states have opened the beds. Opening a bed involves costs for: nursing staff, ward staff, operation and maintenance, increased number of doctors/doctor visits, electrical costs. I'm sure there are more to be found by accountants.
    • the 2800 beds INCLUDES the extra 800 beds for mental health previously announced. The latest 5survey data shows Australia has almost 56500 public hospital beds in 737 public & 19 public psychiatric hospitals
      (see: )
    Tony Abbott has other plans for hospitals not included in the 10s media grab, and carefully scripted press release:
    • local hospital boards: in the 1970's &  1980's there was a history of stacked political appointments, particularly, but not only, under Queensland's National-Liberal Government. The previous Federal Liberal-National government, of which all existing Coalition MP's & Senators were members, had a policy of forcing non-elected 'wannabe' politicians on schools to which they gave Australian flags & flagpoles. It would not be unreasonable to think they would do the same with local hospital boards.
    • In 2008, when John Howard unilaterally announced a Federal takeover of Mersey Hospital in Tasmania, it had to delay it because people quickly realized that all employees would likely be offered AWA's under WorkChoices IR Laws. IR is definitely on Tony Abbott's agenda - he just doesn't like discussing it. Local Hospital Board's under Federal control would allow Tony Abbott to push his IR agenda.
     Early in this campaign, Tony Abbott admitted he would target populist policies. Sadly, this is likely to be one of them. Glossy, popular on first glance, but with a hidden agenda that is not good public policy.


      Sunday, August 01, 2010

      Party Betting Ethics

      Today's news reports indicate that members of both Coalition Parties (Liberal Party and National Party) and the Labor Party have been betting on the upcoming federal election. Reports indicate senior members of the ALP are betting that the Liberals will win particular seats, and will win government. The stories also indicate Coalition party politicians betting that Labor will win the election.

      At the time of writing, neither Party seems to have a publicly-available Code of Conduct for its members. I have contacted both Labor and Liberal Parties for a copy of their Code of Conduct. If gambling on elections, and particularly against the party, is not excluded, I believe it should be.

      A Code of Conduct specifies how people within an organization are to behave, and how that behaviour serves the interests of the organization and the people it serves. If followed, it also provides a level of protection from complaints. Codes of Practice are common, and I would be surprised if the parties do not have one.

      Reasonable people would agree that betting against your own team (or party) is not in the best interests of that team. It also creates a conflict of interest, since to lose, in this case the election, would mean financial gain for the member who bet against his/her party. It would also put members in the position of campaigning for their party, but desperately hoping they lose.

      While I await a response from the parties, voters would be justified in increasing their level of cynicism about the major parties if they do nothing about this issue.

      Some politicians & party members will still be thinking 'ethics, schmethics - who cares!' The answer, of course, is that we voters do!