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.

Rudd and Ponting

K Rudd and R Ponting. They once held the highest and second highest offices of the country respectively. Each of those offices are now held by someone else. In the case of Rudd, it is now held by someone immensely unpopular, disliked and not trusted. Ponting’s successor has now won over the populace. Michael Clarke has through the course of this summer which saw a comprehensive victory over the Indians – an Indian Summer for Aussie cricket indeed – earned the affection of Aussies. Gillard however, remains a turn off for many. Poor judgment and liberty with the truth are a deadly combination as far as public trust and affection is concerned.

Both Rudd and Ponting however, are not happy little vegemites when it comes to exiting the scene graciously.

There comes a time for everyone, when the spotlight is trained on someone else. No matter the level of success, one soon becomes a has been. I bet the late  Whitney Houston will very soon – if not already – disappear from public forum, great singer that she was.  If only Rudd (in particular) learns how to be contented with what he is doing and not look at what lies at the next corner. That can be a really hard thing to do. To win confidence and affection however, that is what one needs to do.

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.

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?

Andrew Wilkie, Tara Moriarty (and Karl Bitar)

Andrew Wilkie is an independent federal MP from Tasmania. His pet concern is problem gambling. He wants to make it compulsory to have gambling machines fitted with technology which makes gamblers decide upfront, the upper loss limit.

Problem gambling can destroy lives and families. I know.  On the other hand, we have someone like Tara Moriarty. Tara sits on the ALP national executive and is a vice-president of the NSW branch of the party. She is the secretary of the NSW liquor and hospitality workers union called United Voice. Tara thinks fitting gambling machines with the sort of technology Andrew Wilkie wants will endanger thousands of jobs. Unemployment can destroy lives and families too.

Leave aside Tara’s nexus with Karl Bitar. Karl Bitar may appear to be just someone who used the unions and the ALP as a stepping board to enrich himself. Having climbed the echelon of the ALP on the back of unions (and killed Kevin Rudd when he got there), he now becomes a corporate fat cat with Crown Casino, leveraging off his insider knowledge of government policies, including on problem gambling. No doubt no one should trust this opportunist mercenary but leaving that aside and assuming Tara is fair dinkum about protecting jobs, what should be the community’s priority?

Should the community protect jobs by allowing gambling machines to be unprotected? Or should it protect problem gamblers by capping their losses? I’m sure there are studies out there to consider how much of the gambling industry’s revenue is made up of problem gambling – if indeed the gambling industry is dependent on problem gambling proceeds, whether the industry should be shut down altogether? Surely society shouldn’t be protecting jobs which are dependent on making money from feeding this destructive addiction?

On the other hand, would sacrificing these jobs reduce the problem of problem gambling? Would these gamblers simply resort to other forms of betting? There is nothing to stop the problem gamblers from switching from a poker machine to the counter on the TAB outlet, is there? If fitting these technologies on machines would not go very far in reducing these addicts’ problems, sacrificing jobs would have been for nothing.

Andrew Wilkie and Tara Moriarty probably need to sit down together and exchange notes to take this one further. Karl Bitar may also be interested.

War again

Julia Gillard must be looking over her shoulders now. Kevin Rudd is looking strong, in command and every bit like the leader Julia isn’t appearing to be. He advocated the no-fly zone for Libya early on, when she was pontificating and taking the safe route of saying it was only one of many options. No the UN has approved it, Kevin looks good and perhaps on course for his personal ambitions for a UN role after leaving government.

I was watching the news on the little TV screen on the cross trainer this morning and the Arab League chief Amr Moussa looked a bit upset at what appears to be an unanticipated level of destruction the no fly zone enforcement has wrought so far.

It is also a bit worrying that what is coming across is the typical image of the west attacking an Arab nation. One minute images of fighter jets taking off are anchored by big bold words to the effect that US, UK and French air forces have launched attacks against Libya and in the next minute we have footage of Moussa saying they did not authorise this action.

No doubt anyone thinking about this would ask what exactly did the Arab League think a no-fly zone entailed, if it did not involve application of firepower of some sort? How do you create and enforce a no-fly zone in the midst of armed aggression between two internal rival groups? But that appears to be beside the point for now – there must be serious and concerted efforts to expunge images of west versus Islamic Arab nations. This is a UN thing, supported by Arab and other Islamic nations, to avert further loss and destruction in Libya.