Mixed Bag

Some ticks and crosses for recent political events:

Julia Gillard visited India to reassure the Indian people that we want their students here, we’re serious about protecting them, and we’ll shut down any bogus educational organizations.  This is a smart move.  It’s a good example of Customer Service – how to turn a bad situation around by listening to concerns and doing something about it. The Indian government responded by inviting Australian universities to set up branches in India.

XNSW minister John Della Bosca resigned because he got caught having an affair.  John Della Bosca’s personal life is irrelevant.  The comments in the media about him missing planes because of his secret relationship are lame.  The bottom line is whether or not he’s doing his job effectively or not, whether the NSW tax payers are getting value from his efforts, and whether his actions and those of his government are taking his state in the right direction.  If you want to remove a government minister due to incompetence, that’s fine – it’s politics.  But resigning, or getting kicked out because you had an affair is stupid.  What sort of precedent does it set?  If we want to get rid of a government now, do we forget about policy debates and performance indicators, and just take the easy way out and dig through their dirty laundry.  This is grubby journalism, and stupid politics.  And NO I don’t support NSW Labor, or their politics.  But Della Bosca should still be a cabinet minister today.

Victorian minister Tim Holding was rescued from the Victorian Alps after two days being stranded on a mountain top.  This is great news, and a good example of emergency services getting the job done when needed.  Yes, he should have taken an EPIRB and probably should have taken a couple of mates with him, but despite that it’s good to see healthy active political leaders getting out and exploring the world, and surviving calamities.

XACMA refuses to ban junk food ads.  The Australian Communications and Media Authority is toothless, and without gonads.  They are incapable of doing anything courageous if it threatens the profitability of commercial broadcasters.  Australian Commercial Media requires more regulation, not less.  They intrude into every area of our lives.  Most of our chubby little kids are addicted to the junk they serve up.  Getting tougher with them won’t harm them at all.  All commercial media has to compete in the same environment.  Television advertisers still have to advertise.  I just think they should have a few more boundaries so they learn to behave properly.  The bottom line is that Australian Media can’t or won’t regulate itself.  The Government needs to bite the bullet on this.

√XA bet each way for the Gorgon Gas project.  It’s a good outcome which is a result of the efforts of both Labor and Liberal governments, past and current in WA and Federally.  It injects billions of dollars into the Australian economy.  BUT, environment minister Peter Garret was pretty much sidelined by the whole process.  The project was announced and feted BEFORE Garret had given his approval as environment minister.  Regardless of what the spin-doctors say, it shows that he’s considered irrelevant by the major players, and that the environment comes second when large amounts of money are involved.

XWayne Swan has left the spending tap on, money is splattering everywhere, and our current account deficit is blowing out.  Yes, our economy has benefited from economic stimulus, but Swan forgets that the stimulus doesn’t need to be a blunt instrument.  The Australian economy is growing, but Swan needs to be aware that the extra cash is boosting imports, and hurting exports.  If our current account deficit continues, we’ll be staring at Paul Keating’s “Banana Republic” in the not too distant future, with a $300 billion foreign debit too boot.

Politics at its Best

Some really good things happen in the Australian Parliament at times.  But sadly they receive little media coverage, because the stories aren’t as immediately exciting as some of the more tawdry events.

For example, how many column-inches, how much air-time has been wasted on the “Ute-Gate” saga about fake emails, and prime-ministerial favours to political donors?

One story worthy of far more attention than it received was the Migration Amendment (Abolishing Detention Debt) Bill.

In 1992, the then Labor Government, with the support of the Liberal / National opposition, introduced a law which placed Assylum Seekers (men, women and children) in Mandatory Detention, and made them liable for the cost of that detention.  This meant when a detainee was eventually deported, or released, he or she was presented with an invoice for the cost of that detention.  An amount which could easily run into tens of thousands of dollars, sometimes even exceeding one hundred thousand dollars.  This, in a country where we don’t charge rapists, murderers and other criminals the cost of their detention – regardless of their nationality.

These people came to our shores for help, and we were treating them worse than criminals.

The mandatory detention policy continued under Coalition Governments througout the Howard Years.  It wasn’t until 2009 that the Migration Amendment (Abolishing Detention Debt) Bill 2009 was introduced by the current Labor government.  Sadly, the bill wasn’t supported on a bi-partisan basis, and the Liberals and Nationals did not support it.

But to their credit, four Liberal members voted against their party, and supported the bill: Petro Georgiou, Russell Broadbent, Judi Moylan and Danna Vale.  Although you might not often do it, I’d recommend you read their speeches.  It’s good stuff, and helps underline the fact that we do have decent human beings in the parliament, who care about justice, and doing the right thing:

Welcome to the new Political Musings Blog

I recently moved this blog from Blogger to WordPress.

The old blog was at http://polmusings.blogspot.com

I’m still trying to come to grips with WordPress. Somethings in Blogger were much easier (such as slideshows), but I think WordPress looks much nicer.

Please let me know what you think, and if you’ve got some suggestions, I’d really like to hear them.

I wanted to say a special thank you to the photographers who made their amazing photos available for use under the Creative Commons license, and which I used as the basis for the rotating banners on this site. If you’d like to find out more about those photographers, please see here.

The Great Firewall of Australia

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/07/09/2621354.htm

Most IT professionals agree that the Federal Government’s plan to install a nationwide Internet filter is wrong, misguided, and will be ineffective.

Now “Save the Children”, one of the lobby groups with a passion for protecting the interests of children, has added its voice to the growing list of opponents to the plan.

The planned Internet filter won’t stop objectionable material – it will still be exchanged via file sharing sites, chat rooms, and emails.

The problem is it’s not just ineffective, it’s dangerous. Not only does it NOT do what it it’s supposed to do, it actually gives the government an easy way to control the web browsing activity of normal law abiding citizens. Once the government adds a site to the list, most people won’t be able to see it in their browsers.

We expect (and see) this sort of behaviour in places like China and Iran. Now minister Conroy wants this sort of power in Australia. Do you think these politicians would be able to resist the temptation to block a website that’s critical of them?

If this plan goes ahead, the “Great Firewall of Australia” will let politicians control what we see in our browsers, while child-abusers continue to exchange their grubby wares unhindered via other methods.

Stephen Conroy, please listen to people like Save the Children, and spend the money more effectively via child protection authorities and police.

After all, we’re getting deeper and deeper in debt. We really need to be smarter about how we spend public money.

Be a Skeptic, but "Do unto others"

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/06/16/2599244.htm

Religious conservative, and Family First Senator Steve Fielding is skeptical about the effect of Carbon Emissions on Climate Change.

I disagree with Senator Fielding but I applaud his courage in asking questions that might make him look silly. It’s tempting to disparage Fielding’s questions, especially those of us with strong views on Climate Change and the reduction of Carbon Emissions, but asking “silly” questions is one part of the scientific process.

But, Senator Fielding, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Perhaps you should remember how important it is to question those things that some people take for granted. The next time someone challenges church opposition to Gay Marriage, a Bill of Rights, a Woman’s right to choose etc, remember that there are no sacred cows. All sincere questions deserve to be taken seriously.

When it comes to asking and answering skeptical questions, Mr Fielding must “Do unto others” if he wants his questions to get the consideration they deserve.

Pathetic Little Man

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/04/03/2533784.htm

On a recent flight from Port Moresby, Prime Minister Rudd didn’t get the meail that he wanted, so he abused the flight attendant, who was reduced to tears.

Here’s his pathetic apology:

“I had a discussion with I think one of the attendants about the provision of food,” he said.

“It didn’t last very long and if anyone is offended by that, including the attendant concerned, ofcourse I apologise.”

How…. small, Mr Rudd. Are you over compensating for something?

You can tell a lot about someone by the way they treat the people that aren’t important to them.

We can tell a lot about our self-important Napoleonic PM from this.

Kevin Rudd & Gough Whitlam. Doing the Deficit Two-Step.


http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/02/04/2481623.htm

It seems to happen with regular monotony – a Labor government gets elected, and we end up with Debt, Deficits, Unemployment and Big-Government.

No one disputes the need for governments to invest in infrastructure – especially in times of financial turmoil.

But Rudd and Swan are prooposing to put the country $100 billion in debt over 3 years. The sort of debt it took the Coalition a decade to pay off.

It’s a matter of spending what you actually have rather than charging up a huge burden of foreign debt on the national credit card.

The major lesson of the financial crisis is that debt can be toxic. If you borrow too much when times are tough, you’ll lose your shirt – and that is true for householders as much as governments.

Former Federal Treasurer Peter Costello slammed the competence of the Rudd Government on Lateline last night.

He pointed our the hypocricy of Julia Gillard praising the strength of Australia’s financial framework at the Economic Forum in Davos at the same time that Rudd was talking it down and saying that “Capitalism needed to be saved from itself”. As if there was one message that we needed to tell the world, but another message we needed to feed to the poor voters at home.

He underlined the poor quality of the $10 billion pre-christmas cash hand out, which did little more than boost the profits of Westfield, without creating any real jobs.

But most of all, he pointed out the stark contrast between the time when he was treasurer, and now, under our current incompetent, Wayne Swan. Under Costello we had budget surpluses in excess of 2% of GDP. Swan is giving us the opposite – budget deficits in excess of 2% of GDP.

As the old song goes… “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”.

At last

“The New Colossus”

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset hates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lighting, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Emma Lazarus

Swan Flies in Wrong Direction

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/11/01/2407628.htm

Treasurer Wayne Swan is either misguided or disingenuous when he claims that his clumsy bailout of Aussie banks didn’t cause a run on investment funds.

I admit, it’s easy for me to sit on the sidelines and criticize with the benefit of hindsight. But consider this, most other western countries, while offering guarantees on bank deposits, have an upper limit. Australia’s limit was pretty lame, so I think the treasurer decided to get hairy chested about it and instituded a guarantee without limit. And then in typical Labor style, decided to introduce a tax (which he calls a “levy”) on larger deposits to help pay for the insurance.

Most people accept that this is what caused most investors to try and pull their money out of investment funds. Why not? When they could get a guarantee without limit from their local bank.

But what seems even more worrying is the change of tack that the treasurer has taken in order to address the credit crunch. He’s decided to give people $1,000 before Christmas. I think the correct term for this is “Trickle Up Economics”. It’s sort of like the antithesis of extreme capitalism where benefits to the rich “Trickle Down” to the masses, like crumbs from the table. But in Swan’s scenario we give money to the masses before Xmas to buy their plasma TV’s and lotto tickets.

Maybe I should give him the benefit of the doubt, but this was the same pundit who before the election was bemoaning the lack of infrastructure investment. Who boasted at his first budget a $40 billion plan to invest surpluses in Nation building.

Now at the first sign of trouble, the infrastructure plans are put on the backburner so Mums and Dads can get a bit of extra pocket money before the end of the year.

Imagine how many more jobs would be created, how much demand would be created for our natural resources if, instead, he kept his word and kept his promise of nation building?

It doesn’t provide instant gratification like the Plasma TV money, but it has longer term benefits for us all.

Melbourne City Council Censors Painting the Criticizes China

Melbourne City Council Censors Painting the Criticizes China
Ronald McDonald carries the Olympic Torch past a burning Monk, by Van Thanh Rudd.

The Melbourne City Council says it rejected this painting from an art exhibition because it “does not fit the brief”. The painting is by Van Thanh Rudd, nephew of PM Kevin Rudd.

I reckon the real reason is that the Melbournce Council is scared of offending China, McDonalds and the PM.

Absolutely gutless.