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Wednesday, 17 February


Nuclear Royal Commission: What's Scarce in Kevin's Report Independent Australia

Nuclear Royal Commission: What's Scarce in Kevin's ReportThe Scarce Report recommends South Australia being storing the world's nuclear waste, opening the door for nuclear power generation in Australia in the future, writes Noel Wauchope. read now...


Liberals can’t be trusted with the GST: Lambie Senator Jacqui Lambie - PUTTING TASMANIA FIRST

JLN Independent Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie has released two short 30 sec YouTube videos which show her talking with JLN Victorian Candidates Hugh Dolan and Matt Timson about the Liberals proposed increase in the GST.

“ Matt and Hugh like most Australian’s – have seen through the Liberal’s lies on their GST policy.  The Prime Minister says they won’t take a GST to the election, but what about after the next election?

It’s clear that the Liberals will break their promise not to increase the GST, should they win the next election.

Every JLN Senate Candidate if elected, will oppose any increase in Australia’s GST.  There are much better ways of raising funds and repairing the budget without taking money away from Australia’s poor,” said Senator Lambie.

The post Liberals can’t be trusted with the GST: Lambie appeared first on Senator Jacqui Lambie - PUTTING TASMANIA FIRST.


The Sound of Economic Credibility Evaporating Catallaxy Files

As just reported in the AFR, following the Treasurer’s speech at the National Press Club ….

Since the ill-fated 2014 budget, the Coalition has overseen a series of decisions that have increased spending by around $19.6 billion at a time when underlying revenue has collapsed.

This is nothing to do with revenue or the net impact on the budget.  This is just additional spending.

Given the definitions in the New Canberra Dictionary, where a “save” is tax increase, would it follow that a spending increase is a “programatic specific”?  Or might it be a “massage”?

A blow out in spending by this Liberal National Government – knock me over.  I guess my children will have to work a few more years to pay for this.

To be fair, some of these spending increases are the reversal of blocked savings measures (or in the Canberra Dictionary, potatoes).  But what about the policy that all spending increases must be matched by other spending decreases.

Here is the link to the full AFR article.



The Donald Pro and Con Catallaxy Files

There is little doubt that Donald Trump is a high-risk choice for president, but there is equally little doubt that the American enterprise is at a very dangerous crossroads. He’s not the obvious choice that Romney was in 2012, although to hear the story told today you would think Romney was about on par with Obama in his negatives. So let us do a bit of weighing up the two sides of the question.


  • His central slogan is “Make America Great Again”, the very antithesis of the Obama creed.
  • He wants to protect the integrity of America’s borders.
  • He wants to strengthen America’s national defence.
  • He understands that not all potential migrants are equal.
  • He understands the importance of balancing the books and is more likely than any other candidate to bring fiscal sanity back into the American economy.
  • He is non-politically correct and is unafraid to say things no one else will say.
  • He is unafraid of the media and gives back better than they dish it out to him.
  • He can do through force of personality things that no one else could do in his place.


  • He is half (three-quarters?) crazy.
  • He is vulgar and intemperate.
  • He knows little history.
  • He is unanchored to the Republican Party.
  • He has had no experience in dealing with foreign policy issues.
  • No one knows, least of all him, what he would really do if he won.
  • His background is in business which is among the worst places for anyone in politics to try to learn the trade.
  • He may make either Hillary or Bernie more electable than they otherwise would be.

You would prefer that he were more like a Tony Abbott or a Stephen Harper, but then again, where are they now, pushed aside as they were by flea-weights.


Austerity kills No Right Turn

The British government has been slashing social services budgets, throwing the disabled off benefits, cutting health funding and cutting meals on wheels to the elderly, all in a mad pursuit of austerity. And its had the expected results: once-falling death rates are now rising, as the poor are starved to death or humiliated into suicide:

Government cuts to social services could be the “largest factor” in the biggest annual rise in deaths in England and Wales for nearly half a century, according to an adviser to Public Health England.

The new preliminary figures, from the Office for National Statistics, claim that mortality rates last year rose by 5.4 per cent compared with 2014 – equivalent to almost 27,000 extra deaths. The increase is the highest since 1968 and took the total number of deaths in 2015 to 528,340.

Death rates in England and Wales have been steadily falling since the 1970s but this trend has been reversed since 2011.

This of course was an obvious outcome of the cuts, but the Tories went ahead and did it anyway. There's a name for knowingly pursuing a course of action which will kill people: its called "murder". And it sounds like the Chancellor of the Exchequer should be charged with 27,000 counts of it.


Craig Kelly – Member for Hughes Catallaxy Files

Here, for a change, Malcolm and Tony find themselves on the same side: Challenge to Malcolm Turnbull’s authority on Craig Kelly. This is from Tony:

“Craig Kelly is an outstanding local MP and a fine contributor to the partyroom in Canberra,” Mr Abbott told The Australian. “Craig took a seat which was touch-and-go and turned it into a safe seat with a margin of 10 per cent. I’m really pleased the Prime Minister has put his personal authority on the line to support Craig.”

And while I don’t pay attention to most of the backbench, Kelly is so outstanding in his sense and hard work that it would be insane, especially after Tony’s comments, to return this seat to the 50-50 proposition it once was by bringing in some left troll in his place (see Andrew Bolt for a bit more). If you would like to see why Kelly appeals to me, and should appeal to you, here is a bit of transcript from Glenn Steven’s testimony to a Parliamentary committee:

Mr CRAIG KELLY: There was an article published earlier this week in The American Spectator. If I just quote a few passages from it, you might like to comment. It said:

“America is languishing from historically low growth rates for the past ten years … In the fourth quarter of 2015, our growth rate was less than 1% at .70%.”

It goes on to talk about Japan. It says:

“Japan has followed this same pattern of high tax rates, lower interest rates, and endless government spending for the past 25 years. The result is massive federal debt, a slow growth economy, and reduced intern...


Climate science denier Mark Steyn in Australia ... and other reptilian weirdness Independent Australia

Climate science denier Mark Steyn in Australia ... and other reptilian weirdnessRightwing commentator Mark Steyn is touring Australia for the IPA at the same time as that other famous climate science denying conspiracy theorist, David Icke. read now...


OIA charging: Who charges for OIA requests? No Right Turn

Back in January, the Reserve Bank announced a new policy of charging for OIA requests. This focused attention on the anti-democratic practice of charging, especially given an upcoming review of the charging regime by the Ministry of Justice and former Chief Ombudsman Beverley Wakem's suggestion that more agencies charge, so I thought I should gather some data to establish a baseline. As a result, I submitted OIA requests to every public service department seeking information on the number of requests they received, the number of times the demanded charges, the number of times they paid, and the amount collected.

Responses were due back on Monday and are collected here. The short version:

  • Out of 7,991 OIA requests made to 26 responding agencies, at least 30 attracted charges, a rate of about 0.4%. When Customs is excluded, because they are definitely an outlier, the rate is at least 4 out of 7373, or 0.05%.
  • Two agencies - the Ministry for Primary Industries and the Department of Conservation - claimed that they had no idea how often they charged, and that they would have to look through every OIA request to find out. This is indicative of poor record keeping and poor financial control procedures.
  • Two agencies - Corrections and the Ministry for the Environment - did not respond at all. Complaints have been lodged with the Ombudsman, and hopefully I'll be hearing from them soon.
  • 30% of agencies responded more or less immediately, within 5 working...


Refuting self-interested garbage in the SMH The Tally Room

In yesterday’s Herald, Heath Aston ran an ‘exclusive‘ publishing supposed modelling from a couple of so-called “veteran players in minor party preference negotiations” claiming that Senate GVT reform would deliver the Coalition a majority in the Senate.

There’s a lot of massive problems with this prediction, and I’ll try to lay them out.

At the end I will apply some of the same logic, but using real polling data and come up with my own less sensationalised conclusion, which suggests a Coalition win would lead to Xenophon balance of power, but if Labor recovered to a winnable position then the Greens would likely win the balance of power.

Firstly, sensible people should know not to trust the predictions of two people who are active participants in a system which Senate reform would abolish, particularly when they don’t provide the data or assumptions they used to come to their conclusions.

Firstly, it’s amusing how confident they are in their conclusions. Any sensible analyst would need to build in a high degree of uncertainty, due to polling, but also because we don’t know for certain how a new system will play out – how much preferences will flow, and how well the microparties will be able to cooperate.

We have no idea how much preferences will flow under a minimum-six-preference system. Will 5% exhaust? 20%? 50%? That makes a big difference, and in part will depend on how parties act.

It’s silly how confident these analysts are in predicting that the Greens would only win a single senator in WA, SA and NSW.

According to PollBludger’s quarterly state breakdowns of his BludgerTrack polling average, the Greens are currently sitting...


PR-driven policy doesn't solve homelessness No Right Turn

Back in September, Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett promised she would end Auckland's homelessness crisis by spending an extra $2 million on emergency housing. Six months on has she done it? Of course not:

Government funding aimed at injecting more money into emergency housing and making more homes come available in January is still yet to be spent.

Social housing minister Paula Bennett said back in September that the Government would invest $2 million in non-government organisations for short-term emergency housing.

However, a tender process was being followed and requests for proposals had been submitted, the minister's office confirmed.

Negotiations were underway with social housing providers and support services. A decision would then be made as to where the money should go to.

Meanwhile, while she's faffing about, people are sleeping in cars and in parks. In a decent human being, that would be a cause for urgency, to solve this crisis as quickly as possible. But Bennett clearly doesn't see it as urgent, or a crisis. Instead, like so many other National policies, it seems to have been driven solely by PR considerations. The goal of the policy isn't the outcome, but the announcement; to create the perception of action rather than actually acting. But that only works as long as no-one looks behind the curtain to check up on whether it gets followed through. And now that the inaction has been exposed, we should be a lot more cynical about such announcements in future.


Open Government: Someone worse than us No Right Turn

One of the highlights of my poking into New Zealand's participation in the Open Government Partnership has been having to go to the Ombudsman to gain access to documents SSC should have released publicly to build trust in the process. But it could be worse: in Spain, they're having to go to court to see the results:

The Spanish government has launched a court case against Spain’s Transparency Council to challenge a decision that it should release documents relating to the implementation of Spain’s two Open Government Partnership action plans.

In November 2015, Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info Europe, secured a ruling from the Transparency Council that the Ministry of the Presidency should make public reports from Ministries about progress being made on Open Government Partnership commitments.

In its ruling, the Transparency Council argued that documents about Spain’s open government activities cannot be exempted as being “internal” because they are being used as the basis for taking decisions and hence are central to ensuring accountability.

The Ministry of Presidency launched the court case to challenge this and to keep the OGP-related documents secret in January 2016. The Transparency Council will defend the case and Access Info will participate as an interested party.

Spain is on the same OGP calendar as us, so getting those reports would have been part of checking their Mid-Term Self-Assessment. And going to court to cover them up speaks volumes about Spain's attitude to open government and its commitment to transparency.

Meanwhile, the OGP Independent Reporting Mechanism's review of New Zealand's OG...


Review and interview about Disaster Capitalism with US magazine Salon Antony Loewenstein

A review of my book Disaster Capitalism in US magazine Salon followed by an interview with its journalist Ben Norton:

“The corporation is now fundamentally more powerful than the nation-state,” writes journalist Antony Loewenstein in his new book “Disaster Capitalism: Making a Killing out of Catastrophe.”

“Many ongoing crises seem to have been sustained by businesses to fuel industries in which they have a financial stake,” he explains. “Companies that entrench a crisis and then sell themselves as the only ones who can resolve it.”

Loewenstein, a columnist for the Guardian, traveled the world in order to understand just how multinational corporations profit off of such chaos. The Australian-born yet decidedly cosmopolitan journalist devotes the meticulous and daring tome to reporting on the foreign exploitation he witnessed in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake and the destructive mining boom in Papua New Guinea, along with seemingly dystopian prison privatization in the U.S., predatory for-profit detention centers for refugees in Australia and ruthless austerity in Greece.

In the book, Loewenstein expertly shows how corporate control of not just the domestic, but also the global political system has led to a drastic “erosion of democracy.”

A quote he chooses as the overture sets the tone for the ensuing pages. “It is profitable to let the world go to hell,” warns scholar Jørgen Randers, a professor of climate strategy at Norwegian Business School, while railing against “the tyranny of the short term.” This quote succinctly summarizes exactly how disaster capitalism opera...


Theoretical Malcolm and the 'consequences' of refugees: #LetThemStay Independent Australia

Theoretical Malcolm and the 'consequences' of refugees: #LetThemStayMalcolm Turnbull's assertion that showing any compassion will result in adverse consequences for the nation is unsupported by the evidence, writes Jay Holstrom, dispelling some myths. read now...


In which the pond has a bad hair day, thanks to blonde television and Mal Turn up the 'Joh' Bull feeding the chooks loon pond

(Above: and more Wilcox here).

Indeed, indeed, but the pond knew that after yesterday's high would come the downer, and unfortunately the bummer dude downer doesn't come with pouting lips and fishnet stockings and high heels and lavish lunches in London ...

Nobody told the pond there'd be days like those it enjoyed yesterday ... Moorice trying out for a role as a neighbour in Here come the Habibs and doing a splendid audition, the Caterists in top bien pensant form, and the tax-dodging reptiles explaining the suffering of taxed workers ...

So today comes the sackcloth and ashes, the existential sense of ennui, the deja vu of being caught in a time loop and all that's playing is reptile Sonny and lizard Cher...

Oh sure, there are distractions.

The cat fight that's been going on for days shows no signs of abating because of its click baiting, trolling potential, with the latest Fairfax outing Armytage 'failed to land a job at ABC', which reports the bubble-headed booby Richard Glover has joined the fray (naturally with forced video, whi...


Where are the real headlines??? Truth Seekers Musings

Where are the real headlines??? If there was ever a valid argument for MSM bias, this last few months has cemented that argument in the minds of many, and should be a big wakeup call to many more that we … Continue reading


Job losses on NSW North Coast signals Essential Energy privatisation move by Baird Government? North Coast Voices

Even though Essential Energy was not included in Baird Government plans to privatize state electricity supply assets, the company's decision to cut its workforce and enter into an enterprise agreement which pares down its wages bill is looking less like a response to changed financial circumstances and more like an effort to make this business a more attractive privatization prize should the NSW government change its mind.

The Daily Examiner 15 February 2016:

ELECTRICITY provider Essential Energy wants to cut 800 jobs from regional New South Wales by 2018 under a draft workplace agreement.



As Malcolm Turnbull faces his first national budget as prime minister the right-wing nutters start to crawl out of the woodwork North Coast Voices

First cab off the rank is the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry with a Let’s Make Aged Pensions Repayable Loans! statement on 14 February 2016:

The Federal Government must use May’s Budget to demonstrate it remains committed to reducing government spending as a share of the economy or else we risk consigning future generations to the painful readjustments that have taken place in southern Europe, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said today.

The Australian Chamber has released its Pre-Budget Submission, which outlines a series of reforms that can curb runaway spending in areas including the age pension, family tax benefits and childcare.

Kate Carnell AO, CEO of the Australian Chamber, said: “Unless public spending is brought under control, the Australian economy will gradually be...

Tuesday, 16 February


Health Department now refusing to provide accurate information on Plain Packaging Catallaxy Files

From the Hansard:

Senator LEYONHJELM: I think ‘caution’ is the appropriate word. It is a short period of time, I quite agree, except that some amazing conclusions are being drawn from what seems to be a very flimsy statistical base. Speaking of short terms and flimsy statistics, today I received a reply to a question on notice from Treasury which advised that in period of the 12 months ended November 2013 and the 12 months ended 30 November 2012 there was a 0.8 per cent decline in tobacco clearances, excluding tobacco refund scheme refunds. This is 0.8 per cent in the period of 12 months immediately before plain packaging and 12 months immediately post plain packaging. Your website refers to this as 3.4 per cent. There is an extra month included in your calculation of 2012 and an extra month in your calculation of 2013, the difference being that plain packaging started in that extra month in 2012 and, in 2013, there was an excise increase. So, comparing like with like, and Treasury has confirmed this, the accurate figure of pre and post tobacco clearances was a reduction of 0.8 per cent. Have you looked at that? Are you aware of that calculation? I understand Treasury consulted you in preparing that answer for us.

Ms Davies: Yes. The information on our website, which is quite old now, was in direct response to an article that appeared in The Australian some time ago which quoted a particular figure for the 2012 calendar year. We, at the time, engaged with Treasury and they provided the 3.4 per cent figure as the calendar year response. So that information is directly referable and responsive to an article that was in The Australian...


The truth about negative gearing Independent Australia

The truth about negative gearingNegative gearing is a deeply flawed policy, because – amongst other things – it encourages risky debt driven speculation in an already overheated market. read now...


Fixed four year terms across Australia The Tally Room

I’m currently working on my guide for the Brisbane City Council election, as well as updating my ward map of Queensland, both for the local government election on March 19.

On the same day as that election, Queenslanders will be voting in a constitutional referendum, which would fix state elections to be held on the same date, and extend the term from three years to four.

If this referendum is successful, the only remaining elected body in Australia running on three-year terms will be the federal Parliament, and all state and territory parliaments other than Tasmania will have put in place fixed four-terms in their state constitutions.

If I read the proposed change correctly, the first scheduled fixed-term election in Queensland would take place in October 2018, which would put the three biggest states in Australia on a schedule where all three would take place within five months from October to March every four years, starting in 2018/19. As someone who appreciates some lead-time before elections, I can’t say I’m looking forward to these three big elections basically happening simultaneously on a semi-permanent basis.

UPDATE: Thanks to Edward and Michael in comments who pointed out that the amendment would not take effect until after the next election, so if the election is in 2017 then future elections will be in 2020, 2024, 2028 etc, and if it’s in 2018 they’ll be in 2021, 2025, etc. Either way Queensland elections would be significantly separated from Victoria and New South Wales in time.

Thanks to these changes, we now have reasonably predictable timelines for all non-federal elections in Australia, and we can plot them out on a timetable which I’ve included below the fold.


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