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Monday, 15 February


What has happened in Malcolm Bligh Turnbull's first 154 days as Australia's Prime Minister? North Coast Voices

On 14 September 2015 Liberal MP for Wentworth and former Communications Minister Malcolm Bligh Turnbull became the 29th Prime Minister of Australia, after defeating then sitting prime minister Tony Abbott in a party room poll by 55 to 44 votes.

By 21 September Turnbull had announced his new "21st Century" ministry, removing Joe Hockey, Eric Abetz, Ian Macfarlane, Kevin Andrews and Bruce Billson from the ministry in the process.

Just 154 days later and we find that his handpicked…….

Minister for Defence Materiel and Science & Special Minister of State Mal Brough had to first stand aside in December 2015 then resign, due to an Australian Federal Police investigation into alleg...


Nationals MP for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker dumped as Minister for Vocational Education and Skills North Coast Voices

Luke Hartsuyker (left) at the beginning of his brief 4.5 month stint as a full minister

Lost his bid to become Deputy-Leader of the Nationals to Fiona Nash and now swiftly given the boot from the front bench by his own prime minister – Luke Hartsuyker must either have fought an unforgivably bloody leadership battle behind the scenes, been a spectacularly underperforming Minister for Vocational Education and Ski...

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Sunday, 14 February


Tax Reform – When did the definition of reform change to mean increase? Catallaxy Files

Today, the ALP announced a policy to significantly limit access to negative gearing tax deductibility to new dwellings.  It seems this policy proposal is not about increasing tax revenues, but about housing policy – to address housing affordability.

Not satisfied, it sounds as though the Liberal National Government is looking at capping the amount of negative gearing losses that can be deducted.

Allowing people to tax deduct negative gearing losses is the other side of the coin of taxing positive gearing income.

Given these policies seem not to about revenue raising but about housing policy, perhaps this would mean that the ALP policy would stop taxing income from positively geared existing dwellings and the LNP policy would cap the amount of income from positively geared investments that can be taxed.

When will the government (or opposition) offer an expenditure reform package?  You know, like reducing the amount and the cost of administration.  What about re-engineering the delivery of health and education to get rid of all the waste there.

I am not holding my breath.

I really wonder if there are any of these examples in the Australian public service.

A Spanish civil servant who failed to turn up for work for “at least” six years has been caught after becoming eligible for a long service award.


A Sad Day in American Jurisprudence Catallaxy Files

A very sad day with the death today of Antonin Scalia.  The man was just brilliant.

Report from CNN here.

A very scary proposition is that President Obama, having appointed 2 of the most liberal supreme court justices in recent time, will likely have the opportunity to nominate Scalia’s replacement, and in doing so, change the direction US Supreme Court for a generation.

For some West Wing (tv show) cuteness, perhaps Justice Bader Ginsberg (who was a close friend of Scalia) might also retire to allow balance to be retained with 2 younger justices.


Poor Liberal instincts Catallaxy Files

We discussed this bad education policy last week:

I am not convinced that sex education should be in schools at all. This sort of program certainly should not be. While it is important to socialise young minds to tolerate diversity this is a role for parents and broader civil society – state sponsored indoctrination through the state schooling system distracts from its primary function.

The federal Education Minister can’t see the problem:

He stressed that the program, introduced and funded by the previous Labor government, allowed schools “complete autonomy” to choose how much they used the program, if at all.

“The objectives I think are perfectly reasonable objectives; there should be no more a place for homophobia in our schools than there is for racism in our schools, and we should be ensuring that every student is taught key attitudes around tolerance and acceptance of others,” he said.

I think David Penberthy has it exactly right:

This sex education program succeeds primarily in ridiculing a cause which fair-minded people would be naturally inclined to support. My own views are to support gay marriage, oppose prejudice, believe in equal opportunity — but I suspect there are plenty of other small-l liberals out there who upon hearing about this school program either laughed or shook their heads in disbelief.

While this part of the program is so stupid as to be hilarious, there are other aspects whic...


Speaking of hand-wringing about a loss of diversity, as the pond's favourite monolithic Ozymandias is wont to do ... loon pond

The pond was startled to see that the reptiles of Oz felt so strongly about this story that they were giving it away for free ...

The pond particularly admired this attempt at being even-handed, an attempt at reptile balance by the reviewer:

Without her (Credlin) anchoring the narrative and Patrick’s analysis, it can read a bit like a familiar summary of events. Abbott is a bit more of a known quantity than his glittering, enigmatic sidekick. Conservative readers will baulk at Patrick’s thesis that Abbott was a poisonous mix of old-fashioned values and social awkwardness that put off the average punter, but he has produced a compelling study.

Attempt at balance done, Ferguson offers the bleeding obvious ...

Besides, revisiting Abbott’s comments on women’s role in society, or the time he was filmed biting into a raw onion, one can’t help but come around to Patrick’s way of thinking: Abbott was unable to lead modern Australia because, in outlook and values, he wasn’t a modern Australian. Even though he surfed, fought bushfires and walked like he’d just got off a horse, Abbott’s political consciousness and personal values stemmed from 1950s England, the country and era of his birth.

The piece had any number of splendid comments attached to it, but the pond particularly relished this one from David:

I like Tony Abbott but having come from the UK I think it is ridiculous to say he was culturally a 1950s Briton

Indeed, indeed. He was culturally a 1950s B. A. Santamaria man ... in love wi...


Screen Themes — Everything Old is New Again Independent Australia

Screen Themes — Everything Old is New AgainIt’s time to take a step back in time, as entertainment editor John Turnbull and new contributor Alex Novak take a look at three classic movies from two very different perspectives. read now...


Breaking News: Antonin Scalia has passed away Catallaxy Files

From the BBC:

US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia – one of most conservative members of the high court – has died.

Justice Scalia’s death could shift the balance of power on the US high court, allowing President Barack Obama to add a fifth liberal justice to the court.

The court’s conservative majority has recently stalled major efforts by the Obama administration on climate change and immigration.

Justice Scalia, 79, was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986.


Americans aren’t the only ones with blinkers The Political Sword

Have a look at this link: it is a record of the number of reported gun incidents and deaths in the USA in the last 72 hours. When this article was being prepared there had been in excess of 200 incidents. Frankly it’s a little scary.

Many Australians are familiar with the work of the US Tea Party, a conservative group that claims to be a ‘grassroots’ organisation that demonstrates the values of the USA. In September 2013, The Political Sword had a quick look at the actions of the Tea Party that led to the shutdown of the US Government that year.

We have also commented on luminaries of the LNP right wing such as Cory Bernardi attending events in the US where the Tea Party is certainly represented — if not the organiser. Amongst the immutable demands of the various conservative American groups (including the Tea Party and most of the Republican Presidential hopefuls) is the need to protect ‘the 2nd amendment’. The 2nd amendment to the US Constitution reads: ‘A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.’ This link from Cornell University’s Law School discusses the history of the amendment and the current discussion around the relevance of the first clause of the amendment. Regardless, in general, conservative America will happily quote the second clause ‘the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed’ but are less forthcoming on the first clause.

So conservative America, backed by self-interest gr...


New Hampshire's revolution and Australia Independent Australia

New Hampshire's revolution and AustraliaThe American primaries cast a grim shadow over drifting Australian nationhood, writes Lucas Grainger-Brown. read now...


helping uncle rupert jack off your debts ... loon pond

That meme appealed to the Tamworth grammar Nazi in the pond, though not as much as this Rowe portrait of a Tamworth prize bull ...

By golly that's an exact likeness and you can twitter with Rowe here ...

But this being Sunday, let's get serious, and ask some serious questions.

Is the SBS viewing app the worst app in the world? Or is that being unfair? Is it merely the worst viewing app in Australasia and perhaps south-east Asia?

Did the ABC call in optometrists to help them design their iView resolution? Did the canny optometrists sense it would be a way to make a quick buck out of people complaining about their soft, blurred vision? Well now we know what happens when you get the likes of the Platform or your very own in-house team to design your very own delivery platform. You'd have been better off putting it all on YouTube wher...


A short serve of fudge a la Tudge for a Sunday treat ... loon pond

Naturally the pond is as intrigued as anyone by the new ministry ...

Things will become more apparent over time but the pond is eternally grateful to Barry Cassidy for this tweet ...

Gotta love it? The pond wept tears of joy, and it looks like it's The Insiders or nothing this Sunday, now that the Bolter is reduced to scribbling about sublime voices ...

Other promotions were a delight too for the meme-sters ...

And then there was the Tudge ...

Soon enough the twitterverse was infested with images of the Tudge-ster ...



Liberal MP Stuart Robert's resignation as Australian Minister for Human Services raises more questions than it answers North Coast Voices

The following is a rough timeline covering the the not-so-illustrious political career of Stuart Rowland Robert, Liberal MP for Fadden (QLD) since 2007.

On 10 September 2010 Stuart Robert changed his Statement of Registrable Interests to reflect that he and his wife were no longer trustees for the Robert Family Trust and Robert Investments Family Trust, as well as ceasing to be directors and shareholders in Robert International Pty Ltd.

It is understood that new trustees are close family members of Robert.


Nationals MP for Page Kevin Hogan enthusiasically behind Nationals' federal leadership change? North Coast Voices

If the glum face is anything to go by, Nationals MP for Page Kevin Hogan may have shared the feelings of many on the NSW North Coast when the new Nationals leadership team of Deputy Prime Minister & Leader of the Nationals Barnaby Joyce and Deputy Leader Fiona Nash was announced.

Original image found on Twitter

Saturday, 13 February


A very disingenuous sentence Catallaxy Files

Now, children in detention are not being tortured by the Australian government.

Gerard Henderson.

Yes. I have no doubt that sentence is strictly legally true. Yet I find myself uncomforted by reading it. Much like:

I did not have sexual relations with that woman.

Update: There has been some discussion in the thread relating to my usage of the previously non-word “uncomforted” as opposed to discomforted. I am not discomforted by the sentence that children in detention are not being tortured by the Australian government. I would hope so; indeed I would further expect that no children are ever tortured, in detention or otherwise, by any government. The sentence itself is meant to be comforting and reassuring. I am not comforted, I am “uncomforted”, nor am I reassured.


“parasites living off the state” Catallaxy Files

Them’s fighting words. That’s Peter van Onselen describing our political classes.

It’s hard to know where to start when picking over what factors turn good people into parasites living off the state, all the while extolling their own virtue as public servants: frontbenchers (on both sides) creating work near the venues of weddings and special events they want to socialise at, so that you, the taxpayer, have to cover the travel costs rather than themselves; or when going on book tours or family holidays. Want to attend the Melbourne Cup or the Australian Open tennis? Just grab a coffee with someone, anyone, connected to your portfolio responsibility as a minister and you are there, at the taxpayers’ expense. While the sports minister has good reason to attend such events, when any other minister does so (much less with their spouse) it is an out-and-out rort, even if it’s technically within the rules. “Within entitlements” is the phrase spat back at inquiries about such (mis)use of expenses, as though that somehow justifies the action.

I don’t disagree with this part of his argument – I have argued before that entitlements should be managed as standard work place deductions through the tax system.

PVO, however, touches on other things too and to my mind confuses the issues.

It was Joe Hockey who during the Howard years exclaimed that the prices businesspeople had to pay to have access to ministers at party fundraiser events were pretty good value. But I also can confirm that Hockey (among many others) loathed attending fund­raisers as some sort of performing seal. The retiring father of the house, Philip Ruddock, was auctioned off for a walk at his 30-year celebration in parliament (a...

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