The Sydney Morning Herald – How Labor booby-trapped Australia’s future

This is a well written summary of why someone like me who once admired both Bob Hawke and Paul Keating and also once thought highly of Kevin Rudd, came to the conclusion that Labor is not to be trusted at all when it comes to fiscal management of the country. Labor thinks the world owes it and its supporters a living.

Paul Sheehan in the SMH today:

When Joe Hockey was growing up and dreaming of becoming prime minister, he would not have imagined that his dream would lead him to joining a bomb disposal unit. Tomorrow, he will unveil the first bomb he must dismantle and it is almost nuclear in its capacity for destruction.

At 12.30 on Tuesday, Hockey, who has also been the stand-out thespian of the new federal parliament, will unveil the real horror, dysfunction and narcissism of Kevin Rudd’s contribution to Australian political history, disably assisted by Julia Gillard. Hockey will release the mid-year economic and fiscal outlook, known in the trade as MYEFO, which will show a budget deficit much worse than Labor led us to believe, probably close to $50 billion, debt obligations much higher than Labor led us to believe, and unfunded liabilities that are so irresponsibly crushing the government will have to walk away from many of them. The most monumental folly is the National Broadband Network, whose economic rationale was worked out on a piece of paper by Rudd. The scheme subsequently created by former communications minister Stephen Conroy would cost more than $70 billion and never recover its cost of capital. The Abbott government will have to start again.

Rudd also authorised the spying on the President of Indonesia and his wife, a booby trap that duly exploded in the face of his Coalition successor. Rudd also poisoned the relationship with China, with his lectures to Beijing, which has also come back to haunt the Coalition government. Then came Gillard, who directed a decisive shift of funding and power to the unions. She exposed the Commonwealth to a massive unfunded financial obligation for the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

She provided political cover for the disgraced union official Craig Thomson. And she set up and then stacked the Fair Work Australia bureaucracy with former union officials and Labor lawyers.

Labor booby-trapped the future.

It is also busy booby-trapping the present, putting improvised explosive devices everywhere, with the help of the Greens. Together, they have engaged in scorched-earth, rearguard, morally bankrupt obstructionism as if the 2013 federal election was a meaningless exercise, the will of the people has no moral authority, and the idea of a mandate, delivered by the only poll that matters, is an empty ideal to be ignored. The worst among equals in this cynicism are Labor’s leader, Bill Shorten, his deputy, Tanya Plibersek, and the Minister for Gutter, Anthony Albanese, assisted by the deputy leader of the Greens, Adam Bandt.

Contrast their scorched-earth cynicism with the response of the defeated Coalition government in 2007, when it conceded the public had rejected its Work Choices industrial relations policies and Labor had a mandate to create what would become Fair Work Australia. This was the great issue in 2007 (after the unions spent millions to make it so) just as the carbon tax and curbing people-smuggling were the great issues of 2013.

For the past year the Coalition restricted itself to a small but emphatic range of policies that clearly differentiated it from Labor: repeal the carbon tax, repeal the mining tax, re-introduce temporary protection visas (which closed off asylum status), re-introduce the Australian Building and Construction Commission and end Labor’s deficit spending. This was the message. These policies became the mandate when Labor was thrown out of office in a landslide and the Greens suffered an even more emphatic 28 per cent plunge in their vote and lost the balance of power in the Senate.

And what do we get? Labor and the Greens opposing all four mandates, and everything else, and some of Labor’s booby traps already exploding. Rudd’s authorising of spying on Indonesia’s President and his wife blew up on Tony Abbott, who suffered further damage as he doggedly covered up for Labor. Labor’s multi-billion-dollar expansion into school education, a state issue, also exploded when Education Minister Christopher Pyne ineptly fumbled his attempt to rein in its costs and impositions.

The government must now wait until July 1 next year, when the new Senate is sworn in, and hope the independents and the eccentric Palmer United Party senators are more moral and pragmatic than the Greens, who think 8 per cent is a moral majority and a mandate to obstruct everything. Everything, that is, except removing the debt ceiling, where the Greens sided with the government, but only because they feared if they did not the government would start slashing spending with a chainsaw.

The key figures in dealing with Labor’s booby traps are Hockey and Eric Abetz, the leader of the government in the Senate. Hockey has shown the most ticker in dealing with debt and deficit, and Senator Abetz has carriage of the crucial reform agenda in industrial relations. After Hockey, he has the most bombs to defuse.

Crucially, in addition to restoring the Australian Building and Construction Commission, and tackling the tainted culture of Fair Work Australia, Senator Abetz must navigate the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment Bill into law. This is the bill that will drag the unions out of the 19th century. It establishes an independent watchdog, the Registered Organisations Commission, with powers modelled on those of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, to bring union governance into line with corporate governance.

The bill is designed to create a stronger, cleaner and more transparent union sector.

Labor and the Greens are opposing the bill at every step.

Read more:


Laurie Oakes – The Sage – tips…

Gillard has apparently called for a ballot on Monday. The old sage Laurie Oakes from Channel 9 was commenting on the Today Show this morning, and he said Rudd and his supporters need not respond to that. They could tell Gillard there will be a challenge but it would not to the PM’s timing. The reasons are simple – firstly, there would be no time for campaigning. Secondly, parliament is still sitting and should the ballot result in a change of PM, negotiations with independent MPs would be required and parliament could not simply be suspended for that to happen.

All very sound arguments to a lay person like me.

What was interesting however, was the sense that Laurie Oakes sounded like he was advising the Rudd camp on the appropriate response. Oakes is a known Rudd fan and he doesnt mince his words in showing his disdain for Gillard. Rudd supporters would be all ears when Oakes speaks, Oakes probably knows that.

Whatever the outcome, at least Australian politics is a little bit more interesting. Interesting stuff that the country can do without however… just bring on the elections.

Craig Thomson and Altantuya Shaaribu

Craig Thomson is to Julia Gillard what Altantuya Shaaribu is to Najib Razak


2012 may yet turn out to be a tumultuous year, albeit for different – principally economic and financial – reasons. It’s all a bit worrying, depressing even. That’s what happens when you catch up on financial news in this climate I guess.

I have not read financial news for a while now. My current role does not require this beyond the most cursory glance at interest rate trends and general property market well being.

Just for fun however I decided to catch up on some news and it was a mistake. 2012 now feels like a harbinger of bad things, from the perspective of how the economy and finance will fare.

First there’s this swathe of industrial disputes fought out in a climate of economic uncertainty as a result of what’s happening in Europe. Collective agreements companies rushed to sign before the Fair Work Act – courtesy of Julia Gillard – kicked in after Rudd got into the Lodge, are due to expire in 2012. So apparently workers and employers are slugging it out in anticipation of new deals and the Fair Work Act is apparently more focused on processes than outcomes.

Then there’s the credit outlook. With banks exposed to the sick men of Europe seeking to make up gaping holes, borrowing – mainly the interbank sort – is going to be a lot more expensive. Bond on the other hand are seeing low yields as a result of capital leaving Europe and seeking new low risk parking lots. Apparently companies thought 2012 would see the GFC ending so heaps of corporate bonds were structured to mature then. A host of factors would combine to heap pressure on funding and make the business environment very difficult.

I wonder what 2012 would look like. It probably isn’t “The End” but it looks like it could well be messy.

Kevin 07 – Revisited?

There are reports Rudd is considering a challenge against Gillard. I had to remind myself what some of the misgivings against Rudd were, back in Nov 2007. I had these thoughts then…


After midnight on 21/11, no electronic election campaign advertisements would be permitted. I don’t know if there is a similar blackout from the print media. On television and radio however, we would not hear anymore election campaign advertisements after tonight. Well, for the next 3 years anyway.
The last 3 Labour Prime Ministers have all been very flawed characters. By and large however, you knew who they were, before they became Prime Minister.
With Gough you knew his social agenda. It may have been the ideals of that time for state support nearing total state welfare which sounds repugnant to present thinking and his total, take no prisoner attitude as he steams ahead with his agenda may have seemed suicidal. For that he may have seemed irresponsible. He may have been an idealist, but irresponsible. Yet he made no bones about it. Everyone knew what he was on about. He didn’t try to manipulate anything to project a different image.

With Hawke it was the same thing. He was a womaniser and boozer. Yet he did not pretend to be something else. Keating continues to dish out his tongue lashings and continues to speak his mind about anything he has a view on. You always knew he would do that. I liked both Hawke and Keating. It was Keating who made it cool to appreciate antique clocks. If not for him, whenever I stepped into the antique shop of my brother in law (Daniel Ching) I would not have stopped to stare at these clocks.

Rudd however, is a different animal altogether. His public image has been a carefully crafted one. Just over a year ago I read an interview with him where he quoted Dietrich Bonheoffer extensively. He claimed to be devout Christian. I watched him spar with Joe Hockey, then the Minister for Human Services (or some ministry like that) and thought he was such an articulate, sincere and likeable man.

My perception of Rudd has changed. I now see him as someone who is prepared to lie about anything to get what he wants. Integrity is not part of his vocabulary. He’d go to a strip club and claim he’d forgotten (because he was too drunk). When I get drunk I want to sleep or pick a fight, not go to a strip club. Maybe he got drunk in the strip club, who knows? He faked things on television. Before an audience of mainly Muslims, he would not affirm his belief in Christianity (would not say Jesus is the Son of God). How can someone hold such polarised stance? You cannot say you are a devout Christian and express agreement with Dietrich Bonheoffer’s theological writings and then cannot bring yourself to confess Jesus is the Son of God. He’d say things for years which he would not permit his team to say, if it meant being against the grain of the moment.

He appears to hold no views, sways according to popular opinion and would not tell you the truth. In fact he would lie, if that makes him look good or better. John Howard may appear to be like a grumpy old man at times and his “liberal” (read conservative a la Thatcher) views may not always be agreeable to the average wage earners (like me) but you knew where he stands. With Rudd, his true colours may only surface if/when he becomes Prime Minister. It may mean 3 disastrous years which would take a long time to fix.

Fair Work Act to break Qantas strike?

Alan Joyce‘s apparent brinksmanship is exciting to watch. At least to a neutral observer like yours truly. The Qantas industrial action has been going on and has been otherwise boring but this swashbuckling Irishman wields quite a weapon.

The entire Qantas fleet has now been grounded and the Transport Minister said an application under the Fair Work Act would be made. Section 424 of the Fair Work Act says this:

424 FWA must suspend or terminate protected industrial action—endangering life etc.

Suspension or termination of protected industrial action

(1) FWA must make an order suspending or terminating protected industrial action for a proposed enterprise agreement that:

(a) is being engaged in; or

(b) is threatened, impending or probable;

if FWA is satisfied that the protected industrial action has threatened, is threatening, or would threaten:

(c) to endanger the life, the personal safety or health, or the welfare, of the population or of part of it; or

(d) to cause significant damage to the Australian economy or an important part of it.

(2) FWA may make the order:

(a) on its own initiative; or

(b) on application by any of the following:

(i) a bargaining representative for the agreement;

(ii) the Minister;

(iia) if the industrial action is being engaged in, or is threatened, impending or probable, in a State that is a referring State as defined in section 30B or 30L—the Minister of the State who has responsibility for workplace relations matters in the State;

(iib) if the industrial action is being engaged in, or is threatened, impending or probable, in a Territory—the Minister of the Territory who has responsibility for workplace relations matters in the Territory;

(iii) a person prescribed by the regulations.

Application must be determined within 5 days

(3) If an application for an order under this section is made, FWA must, as far as practicable, determine the application within 5 days after it is made.

Interim orders

(4) If FWA is unable to determine the application within that period, FWA must, within that period, make an interim order suspending the protected industrial action to which the application relates until the application is determined.

(5) An interim order continues in operation until the application is determined.

So it looks like at the most the industrial action should end no more than 5 days from the time the application is lodged (Monday?) but given the bloodletting this has caused, we’re probably going to get some form of orders by Monday. Otherwise many people’s Melbourne Cup day would turn into horse manure…

Gillard and Najib Again

Did I say Julia Gillard is looking more like Najib Razak everyday? Here’s another example.

The Rural Development Fund of Australia has been funneled overwhelmingly to Labor constituencies. Over 70% of the $200million kitty has gone to Labor areas. Pork barreling is no strange deed in politics I guess and the Howard Government was also know to have done this, but I guess, this thread of parallels between these two governments are all too appalling clear to me.

Somehow I find myself switching off anything with Julia Gillard on. This morning in the gym, I was watching the Today Show on the treadmill as always, and the PM was on for almost 10 minutes. I had to switch to Seven’s Sunrise, much to my chagrin, that entire slot. I kept switching back to Nine’s Today and the PM was going on and on without giving any clear or honest answers.

I think her attempts to pin the asylum seeker farce on the Coalition is just shameless. It was all Rudd’s doing and in this matter, quite frankly the Coalition just cannot be faulted. Scott Morrison has been doing a terrific job and he has been the only politician from either side to point out the appalling record by Malaysian bodies such as RELA and the police, in their treatment of asylum seekers.

Although I haven’t lived in Australia all that long, I have lived through the Prime Ministerships of Bob Hawke, John Howard, Kevin Rudd and the current one. This current one is by far the worst I have seen. Get rid of her already.


How it is pitched

On the latest political polls… whereas Fairfax and News Limited are saying Labor is polling 26% down from its previous record low of 27%, 774 ABC piped that Julia Gillard has an approval rating of 35%, up from 34%. In that 10 minute window that was my drive to work, nothing was said about the record low Labor is polling.

So why isn’t the ABC made subject to the media inquiry being bandied about, if examples of bias occur so easily?

Gillard and Media Inquiry – More like Malaysia Everyday

Gillard looks more like Najib Razak every day

Step by step, the Gillard Government is becoming more and more like the UMNO Government in Malaysia. The issue now is control over media. Never mind what Senator Conroy said the inquiry is about – it is about shutting down criticism over the Gillard Government.

See this interview with Bob Brown, PM of Australia – at least he can be credited with honesty in this case. He said it is about controlling the Murdoch Press.

I dont like the Murdoch press myself – things like The Sun paper in the UK may be a lot of fun when you are young or drunk (or both) but it is appalling in all other respects. The way they (News of the World and Murdoch Press) go about getting leads and breaching privacy of the most vulnerable, is really disgraceful. There is no reason however, to think what happened in the UK is also a problem for Australia.

The only problem with the press in Australia is with Julia Gillard and Bob Brown, the Prime Minister of Australia. They dont want criticism. They want to shut down or control their critics. That is very Malaysian. Gillard and Najib Razak are looking more and more alike every day.

Thomson and Friends – More Gillard Woes

Craig Thomson was exonerated by the NSW Police. Or was he? The police investigation simply found that there was no evidence to suggest the credit card in question was used illegally. Craig Thomson had earlier suggested it wasn’t him who used the card to pay for prostitutes, implying the card was used by someone else. This was where the illegality could have resided – it could have been a credit card fraud offence. The fact that there was no suggestion that the card was fraudulently used simply confirmed Craig Thomson did use the card to pay for prostitutes, contrary to his denial. So in a funny way, the “exoneration” actually implicated Craig Thomson – not for any criminal conduct for in relation to using union money for an improper purpose.

Craig Thomson said he would provide a full statement to the parliament, but did not say when.

HSU members should no doubt be up in arms that union officials can be allowed to use their hard earned money for personal benefits and for despicable peccadilloes no less. The likes of Thomson continue to tar the image of unions and its officials.

The more recent story of Michael Williamson being accorded favours by Gilleland and his printing business surely does the image of unions and its officers absolutely no favours. The “Health Standard” must be one of the most glossy union newsletters around and “Communigraphix” probably need to maintain the gloss to continue operating out of the northern beaches of Sydney.  The continuing silence of these union mob can be telling. I often dislike the saying “there is no smoke without fire”, as it can be easy to create smoke in order to create the impression of a fire, but in this case, I have a feeling most would that saying its usual meaning and unless Thomson and Williamson both responded vigorously, they will do themselves, and the Labor Party absolutely no good whatsoever.