The best analysis and discussion about Australian politics and #auspol news. Presented by Eddy Jokovich and David Lewis, we look at all the issues the mainstream media wants to cover up, and do the job most journalists avoid: holding power to account. Seriously.
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Lessons for Labor, Liberal’s nuclear error, and lucky Barilaro
A lull in politics gives us some time to assess how the political parties are travelling, and since the May election result, most of the focus how been placed on the Coalition – the messages that it can take from their election loss and how they can become a better political party and return to office at some point in the near future.
But what are the lessons for the Labor Party? The did win the election, but victory tends to gloss over any problems a political party might have, and move those problems into the ‘too-hard’ basket. But both major political parties received record low primary votes in 2022 and while it’s possible to win elections through strategic preference voting flows, these types of election victories are difficult to navigate.
While it’s difficult to see the Liberal–National Coalition gaining enough traction over the next three years to pick up those 18 seats it needs to win the 2025 election, it’s easier to see Labor losing seats to Greens or other independent candidates. It’s something they need to be careful of, and their main opponents at the next election might be the Australian Greens and teal-styled independents, and not the Coalition.
And after being thoroughly outplayed on the Climate Change Bill, Peter Dutton has tried to get the Coalition into the climate change debates by throwing in nuclear energy into the mix, even though countless government reports have established that nuclear is not a viable industry in Australia. Including a report the Coalition commissioned in 2019, less than two years ago, which confirmed all of the findings of previous government reports.
If the Coalition had the courage of its convictions, it would have installed nuclear power many years ago – they’ve been in office for 51 of the past 73 years – as well as installing a nuclear reactor in each of their electorates. But they didn’t and never will. The time for nuclear energy in Australia was in the 1960s, and that time has passed. In 2022, it’s a conservative tool to wedge Labor and cause political trouble: that’s all it is.
It’s the gift that keeps giving to NSW Labor – John Barilaro, the man who is now claiming he’s “the victim” in the New York Trade Commissioner debacle, arguing that just because he changed the job from a public service appointment to a political appointment, it can’t be possibly argued that it was purely to benefit himself. Even though – lucky man! – he ended up being benefitted and was appointed as the New York Trade Commissioner. All purely on merit, apparently.
The worst part of this is that these political figures expect the public to believe these fantastic stories and accept them as truth. Politics in NSW has been corrupt for a long time, and it’s hard to see this changing. And Victoria is not too far behind, with corruption and misconduct apparent in both the government, and the opposition. Why is there so much corruption in state politics?
A Voice to Parliament and a new economy. Can we do both?
The details for the Voice To Parliament have been released by the Prime Minister, and it’s three simple changes to the Constitution, but already, conservatives are circling the wagons and claiming that that it’s a document that has kept Australia safe since 1901 and is too precious to change.
But it’s an exclusionary document; it was founded on a racist agenda from yesterday and Australia is now a far more sophisticated society than when it was founded in the early part of the twentieth century. There is some resistance from within the Indigenous community, and from different sides of the political spectrum – Senator Jacinta Price has suggested it does nothing to address disadvantage, so she’ll actively campaign against it, while Senator Lidia Thorpe has suggested a Treaty and a truth telling commission should come first. But surely governments can work on more than one issue at a time: why not implement a Voice To Parliament and address disadvantage at the same time? The two processes are not mutually exclusive.
The problem with constitutional recognition of the Voice To Parliament is that it has to be decided – through a referendum – by a system that ignored those rights in the first place. But 250 Indigenous leaders and elders from all around Australia have requested this voice, and it’s because of this reason that it should be supported, and should offer a clearer pathway towards a Treaty and reconciliation.
The state of the economy is becoming more dire and, once again, the Labor Party finds itself in government at a time of severe economic problems. They were in office during World War I, The Great Depression and World War II; the oil crisis in the early 1970s; the 1983 recession; the world recession of the early 1990s; the global financial crisis from 2008; and now, the pandemic economy and massive government national debt.
The Treasurer, Jim Chalmers, is laying out the economic narrative of the difficult circumstances. The Treasurer needs to be in control of the politics of the economy, as well as the economic output: it’s not just a case where some fine words and Shakespearian delivery can make all the problems go away. Different narratives need to be provided to the electorate; the business community; bankers, the money markets; the share markets. And if any of those areas decided that Chalmers is not up to the job, he’s going to be in for a rough ride over the next parliamentary term. We think that he is up to the job, but which economic levers will he use?
His job – and Labor’s – will be made easier by the current performances of the Coalition, which is finding the transition from government into Opposition quite difficult. And recent opinion polls are also confirming how poorly the Coalition is travelling, who seem determined to ignore the messages they received from the electorate at the May federal election – to paraphrase James Carville, ‘it’s the climate, stupid’.
Peter Dutton refused to support Labor’s Climate Change Bill, assuming that forcing them to deal with the Australian Greens – just like Labor did in 2009 and walked away with nothing – would create mayhem, and the Coalition would reap the political benefits on yet another carcass of a discared climate change policy: anything to kick start the climate change wars.
The only problem: the Greens supported Labor’s Bill and will pass it in the Senate. Dutton was defeated on ideas, on policy, and on politics. If this is the best the Coalition can do, they might be in for a long stint in Opposition.
Anthony Albanese, while he was Opposition leader, declared he would be constructive and support the government wherever possible, especially during a pandemic crisis. Constructive, not de-structive.
Today, Anthony Albanese is Prime Minister. There might be lesson in here for the Coalition, if only they are brave enough to look for it.
An Audacious New Parliament And An Election Day Lie
The 47th Parliament has commenced and the new Labor government wants to implement its agenda as soon as possible. After nine years of a Coalition government seemingly unwilling to implement anything meaningful, it’s a shock to the body politic to see new leaders wanting to do things, rather than applying the dark arts of politics to spin, diffuse, negate, and ultimately ignore acting on behalf of the community.
Climate change comes to mind, and the Coalition has decided to play itself out of the action on an important issue, an issue the electorate strongly supported at the 2022 federal election.
The Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, has implored Parliament to think about their legacy, and reflect on that point in the future when they leave politics: how do they want to be remembered? As members of parliament who sat around, obfuscated and wasted their own time – and the time of their electorate – or implementing programs and policies that were in the benefit of as many people as possible in the community as possible?
The answer seems straightforward, but many in the Coalition want to fight the losing battle from the last election, and happy to waste their time and every body elses. It’s a nihilistic political force that doesn’t know what to do: they were incompetent in government, and now they’re incompetent in opposition.
There were many questions from the media during the 2022 election campaign: who is Anthony Albanese and what does he stand for? We are gradually finding out. This is an ambitious Labor government, but the quality of this government will be based on achievements and actions, not just the words and statements that it releases to the public: the public had three years of a meandering Morrison government; the demands are quite different now.
If the ambitions of this Labor government are becoming clearer – what are the ambitions of the Liberal and National parties?
It appears they haven’t learnt the lessons of the federal election and are looking at the behaviours of the Howard, Abbott and Morrison governments for guidance. But this is a dead end: they need to make a clean break from this era and forge a new path if they wish to achieve political success.
And part of this process has to be disowning the actions of Scott Morrison on election day, when he broke convention – as well as his own unofficial code of not speaking of ‘on water matter’ – by publicising the interception of an asylum seeker boat at 12.50pm, with only five hours before the polls closed.
It didn’t making any difference to the final result – and it was unlikely to make a difference – but Morrison and the Liberal Party decide to trash convention and their own reputations to try and win an election. The party needs change, it needs reform. And until it does, it’s likely to be spending a long time in political obscurity.
A miserable ghost reappears, environment takes centre stage and the return of Parliament
After several months of absence from the national stage, former Prime Minister Scott Morrison made an appearance on a different kind of stage – the pulpit of the Victory Church in Perth, announcing that he still believed in miracles. And that he doesn’t trust in government or the United Nations.
As the distance between Morrison’s tenure as prime minister and the current events of today become greater, it becomes more apparent that his tenure was a morass of anti-government paranoia, inaction on virtually every aspect of what the public would normally expect from a government, and an agenda that seemed to be based on a misguided religious-based philosophy that has no place in public life.
Morrison and his political philosophies – if they can be described in this way – were more in tune with the radical QAnon ideals that most of the media ignored and if he wasn’t the most mediocre prime minister, he could certainly be considered to be one of the more potentially dangerous ones. It’s hard to think of any leader who was so indifferent to public office and the plight of the electorate – the only benefit for Morrison remaining in public life is as a reminder for the kind of leadership Australia needs to avoid in the future.
And a part of Morrison’s agenda was to totally ignore the environment, as we discovered when the Minister for Environment, Tanya Plibersek released the State of the Environment report, which painted a picture of an almost dystopian future for Australia due to previous inaction on climate change – and a guaranteed dystopia if serious reductions of greenhouse emissions are not made. It’s no wonder the previous Minister, Sussan Ley, refused to release the report, which she had held onto since December 2021.
But how will Labor be able to make its environmental credentials more palatable to the public if it’s approving new coalmines and greenfield gas projects? It will be a difficult balance of many competing interests – and vested interests – but the environment must win out, there is no alternative.
And the 47th Parliament commences in Canberra, with a new government and a House of Representatives and Senate that seems to be more reflective of the Australian community. More women, more Indigenous representatives, less white, more multicultural. And a large crossbench. The Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, has a big agenda and this has the potential to be the most productive and most dynamic Parliament in Australia’s history.
Pacific diplomacy, Collaery case dropped, more NSW corruption and a forgotten pandemic
Foreign affairs is still a dominant issue for the Albanese government – and why not – so many relationships to repair after a neglectful nine years of Coalition government which left the Pacific islands behind.
The Prime Minister is also putting out the strong message to the world that there is a new government in office and is taking climate change seriously. But words are one thing; action is another, and we’ll have to wait to see what Labor actually does on climate change, once parliament meets and starts implementing government policy.
The case against Bernard Collaery has been dropped and it’s about time. The case had been going on for too long and it shows that governments can act when they want to. This all relates to events from 2004, when the Australian government (allegedly) bugged the offices of East Timor President, Xanana Gusmao, to gain an upper hand in the negotiations in the Timor Sea oil agreements. It’s a sordid tale, but one the public will never find out about, even after the Cabinet papers are released in 2024, which surely will set some kind of record when it comes to redactions of official documents.
And speaking of corruption and sordid tales, more information is being revealed about the US Trade Commissioner job that landed on the lap of John Barilaro: this is a clear case of (allegedly) corrupt behaviour. How on earth the NSW Government thought they could get away with it deserves a special credit. If there was a court of political incompetence, Barilaro and Stuart Ayres would be serving life sentences for political stupidity, especially in the context of a NSW state election, just eight months away.
And it seems that governments have forgotten about the pandemic, even though 95% of COVID cases have occurred in 2022, as have 80% of all COVID-related deaths. The federal government decided that Pandemic Leave Disaster Payments were not going to be continued, before they finally came to their senses and reversed their bad decision.
If only governments could stop toying with the electorate and remembered that we’re still in the middle of a pandemic, and it’s far from over.
Media madness, a Voice to Parliament, Climate Change politics and factional trouble in the Liberal Party
There’s a madness in the media and hard to see when it will stop. The Prime Minister has returned from the recent NATO meeting – which included a visit to Ukraine – and the media wanted to create a false equivalence and criticised Anthony Albanese for spending too much time overseas. Why? Because they criticised former Prime Minister Scott Morrison, when he made his secret family holiday trip to Hawaii while half of Australia was burning away in 2019. So, it’s time to criticise Albanese too, even though the circumstances are completely different.
Which, of course, lead to other media outlets outlining how Albanese was now having to defend these criticisms. It’s a circular referral system that helps create the news, assorted click-bait, and continues that tradition of legacy media holding a Labor government to account in ways they never apply to conservative governments. And this style of reporting is becoming as irrelevant as the mainstream media, who seem to be enjoying their descent into a sea of insignificance.
And the factional problems within the Liberal are slowing being exposed and it’s becoming clearer that these interplays between the moderates, centre right and conservatives, was one of the key causes of the defeat of the Liberal–National Coalition: Not the only reason; there was still a great amount of room for the other factors – inaction on climate change, incompetence, mismanagement, corruption.
It’s also the end of NAIDOC week and how close are we to achieving a Voice to Parliament? While the conditions are possibly the most propitious they have been for many years, there is still a long way to go. The biggest problem is that to achieve constitutional legal change where land rights or legal rights given back to the original owners of this land, it has to be agreed to by the people that took it away in the first place. That’s not right.
And who has the mandate on climate change? Labor – which wants to implement a 43% reduction target by 2030; or the Australian Greens, who want to implement a 75% reduction target? They can both claim legitimacy, but the issue here is that Labor is the government and holds 77 seats, to the Greens total of four seats; but to balance this out, the Greens hold the balance of power in the Senate and Labor needs their Senate support to pass legislation. How this will be resolved is anyone’s guess, but surely the greater incentive is to act in the interest of the public and end the climate change wars?
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