Such a study in intonation and body language!

I didn’t watch Q&A on Monday, but did download it on Tuesday after reading about this:

TONY JONES: All right. We’ve got a lot of questions to deal with. You’re watching Q&A where you ask the questions. The next question comes from Michael Bilous.

MICHAEL BILOUS: My question is for Kevin Rudd. In 2010 you took the decision to delay implementing an emissions trading scheme; a scheme which had or appeared to have the support of the majority of the population and which contributed to your election of your government in 2007. In the light of the current acrimonious debate over a carbon price, do you regret making that decision?

KEVIN RUDD: I think my judgment then was wrong. We…

JULIE BISHOP: I know why you think that.

KEVIN RUDD: No, it was just – the reason was it’s wrong.

JULIE BISHOP: Well, you were convinced to do it, Kevin.

KEVIN RUDD: Well, hang on. Leave that to one side.

JULIE BISHOP: You can be honest…

Now what is really going on here? It’s hard not to concur with today’s Herald editorial.

KEVIN RUDD’S admission on Monday that he was wrong as prime minister to have shelved plans for tackling climate change has opened a new, intriguing front in Australian politics. Looking relaxed on ABC TV’s Q&A, the Foreign Affairs Minister made a rare confession for a political leader: ”On balance it was a wrong call, for which I uniquely am responsible.” Coincidentally, Malcolm Turnbull, a former Liberal leader, has been speaking out on another issue that has troubled some voters with liberal instincts: the dismissal by the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, of Julian Assange, the Australian who founded WikiLeaks, as a law-breaker.

Their remarks come as the centre ground of federal politics is up for grabs. Both Gillard and the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, are struggling to capture voters’ imaginations. This partly explains a drift of federal votes to the Greens, on whose parliamentary support Gillard’s minority government depends. As the first anniversary of his unseating by Gillard approaches, Rudd seems to be seizing a chance to trail his coat as a figure who is prepared to speak out more boldly than his successor, whose grasp on power remains tenuous…

Kinder, gentler polity… Um? What was that?

“I, meanwhile, am still helpless with laughter at the new improved Tony Abbott’s call for a kinder, gentler polity.” – Me, 27 August. It seems my cynicism was justified. This was “I don’t really mean this” Abbott speaking, not the “read my lips” Tony. Abbott 2, not Abbott 1.

Is Australia’s "kinder, friendlier" Parliament dead before it has even sat?

@PresidentCOB: Lib Senator George Brandis tells ABC @612brisbane Fed Govt "has as much legitimacy as the Pakistani cricket team"… Brandis says Coalition won more seats… and more votes.

Today’s lead story in The Sydney Morning Herald offers more on the “new paradigm”:

THE Greens and the independents have offered Tony Abbott the opportunity to help govern from opposition, saying they would pass any policies with which they agreed, including paid parental leave, whether Labor liked it or not.

As the political establishment comes to grips with the concept of minority government, the Greens leader Bob Brown said the Parliament belonged to everybody, not just the government.

”Please think about it,” he said.

He was backed by the independent Tony Windsor, who suggested the Coalition tone down its venomous attacks on the government and independents.

”There’s good stuff that can come from anywhere and that’s why the Liberals are silly to be running this sort of stuff,” he told the Herald.

”They can do things with us and the executive won’t have the power to shut them down. The opposition can be part of the government, too.”…

The accompanying poll reads thus at the moment:

Poll: Should the Greens and the independents support legislation put up by Tony Abbott and the Opposition?

  • No, it is the government’s job to propose new laws.  22%
  • Yes, all bills should be assessed on their merits.  78%
  • Total votes: 633

My current local member, Tanya Plibersek, is reading the signs:

Edmund Burke, the 18th-century British parliamentarian said, "All government, indeed every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue, and every prudent act, is founded on compromise and barter."

With good management and much effort, we may be embarking on a golden age of Australian democracy.

The Labor government will continue to pursue its investments in education, health, broadband and the environment but has also agreed to boost our efforts in regional Australia with an investment of $10 billion.

The independents and the Greens have their own views on a range of topics but with no party having an outright majority in either house, compromise will be the order of the day.

Still, this compromise may be the making of us all. Many believe that John Howard’s downfall as prime minister can be dated from the time he won control of the Senate. WorkChoices couldn’t have been passed without control of both houses.

Democracies can flourish when a wide cross-section of the community’s views are represented. Having to negotiate compromises before introducing legislation into the House of Representatives – not waiting until the Senate – will be more difficult for ministers, but not impossible, and many cases beneficial…

My grandfather, Roy Christison, would have been fascinated. He always maintained that voting on party lines was the ruination of politics.

Australia – Election 2010 decided at last

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Linked to Sydney Morning Herald

Meantime I am packing, sorting, jettisoning… Yes, this post comes to you from Surry Hills, not Wollongong.

So I have nothing to add to all the pundits on this, except the hope that a parliament where voting on party lines may not work any more will lead to some real discussion of issues that arise. If so, parliament may come closer to what it should be.

Bravo, Richard Harrison

Letter in The Illawarra Mercury:

This is an open letter to the politicians of Australia from an ordinary voter.
The 21st century is already a decade old. The challenges of our time are significant and urgent. Global financial security, tolerance, equality, famine, health, education, communication and climate change.
To address these issues we need leaders that possess conviction, vision and education. We need societies that embrace freedom of expression, worship, movement and information.
Any person seeking to become prime minister of Australia in 2010 must demonstrate that they grasp these issues and have policies to address them.
To every policy they propose, they should expect the electorate to ask two questions – why, and how?
If party leaders do not understand modern issues they are not fit to rule on our behalf.
Both major parties treated the electorate with contempt.
Please do not insult our intelligence. We understand both parties run internal machinery to fund and control candidates – and we find it wanting.
We understand that marginal seats attract promises and commitments – and we find it corrupt.
We understand your slogans are designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator – and we find them unpersuasive.
We read reports finding fault in ambitious programs – and dismiss them, aware of media agendas and vested interests.
Politicians of all parties are reminded to trust their voters above their polls and focus groups. When our elected prime minister was removed so swiftly, and without testing our mandate, we were offended. We were denied an opportunity to hear the arguments. We might have punished the prime minister for postponing climate change action and the MSPT, we might not.
We would have weighed up the other outcomes, the apology, Kyoto, financial stimulus measures, BER and NBN – and we may have been forgiving. Had real arguments been made, we would have expressed our verdict at the ballot box.
The campaigns from both sides offered no arguments, no solutions, no continuation of reform, no vision for Australia’s place in the world.
With nothing to choose between, we removed the mandate from both parties.
We do not want compromises and bribes to form the basis of three years of government. We need real action on urgent issues now. Review your policies and represent their merits. Call a second election and argue your case. Whatever the result, Australia wins.

Except I really don’t want another election!

This week we will know who gets to be the government.

If Tony Abbott loses, which is looking very possible, he can blame hyperbole. That Gillard + The Greens + one Tasmanian Independent = “the most left wing government in Australian history” is total bollocks which only a pollie or an amnesiac could come up with.

Remember Gough, comrades? And they used to say “comrades” in those days… Or what about Curtin or Chifley? Remember trying to nationalise the banks?

He can also blame promising a billion to rebuild Hobart Hospital without explaining where the money would come from. That stuck in the craw of the intended bribee, the Tasmanian Independent, who preferred the more fiscally responsible offer made by Gillard and company and rejected the old Tone.

And perhaps he can blame calling on mates instead of Treasury to cost his promises.

Mind you, I’m still not risking a bet on the final outcome.

Abbott bites own bum

Just last night (or was I dreaming) I heard Mr Abbott boast of being up front with the Australian people about his policy costings through the recent but still unresolved Oz election.

alice_in_wonderland_arthur_rackham_illustration

Don’t trust him too much, Alice!

This morning we read: $7bn hole in Abbott’s policy costings. Not just a little hole.

The departments of Treasury and Finance, in a report handed to the three key rural independent MPs yesterday, found the Coalition policies would improve the budget bottom line by just $4.5 billion – not the $11.5 billion claimed.

The figures have dealt a blow to Mr Abbott’s hopes of securing the support of the rural independents to form the next Australian government on the grounds of being a responsible economic manager.

Tony Windsor, one of the key MPs who will decide Mr Abbott’s political fate, said last night the discrepancies raised questions about the Coalition’s integrity. ”The Coalition must explain these discrepancies,” he said.

I smelt a rat (didn’t you?) when I saw details during the election of the “independent” auditors used by the Coalition.

…Which is encouraging up to a point. That point is that Coalition has not seen fit to air those costings – as it would have had to if it submitted them to Treasury and Finance in accordance with the Charter of Budget Honesty – and that Horwath has not done so either.

We are asked to take both Horwath and the Coalition on trust. Then known as Hendry, Rae and Court, Horwath had as its founding partner in 1938 Charles Court, later to become Sir Charles Court, the long-serving Liberal premier of Western Australia and father of Richard Court, the Liberal premier from 1993 to 2001… Horwath principal Geoff Kidd told The Age last night Sir Charles kept an office in the firm after he retired from politics and maintained an active interest in its work.

Horwath costed the policies of the Western Australian Liberal Party during its successful run for office in 2008 and the South Australian Liberals in their unsuccessful tilt at government in March this year…

Clearly unbiased!

The Oz election fallout – week 2

As negotiations recommence we are told we should know the outcome soonish, possibly by the end of this week. Here is a summary of where things stand at the moment.

I have just heard Fran Kelly interviewing Rob Oakeshott on RN Breakfast. I am impressed by his clear-headedness. From what he said it appears some Coalition individuals, especially from the National Party, are trying to bury their own side’s chances with standover tactics and dirty tricks. Oakeshott specifically said these were coming from one side only. This could lead to an own goal.