Thursday, December 20, 2007

From yesterday's Crikey

When is a vote not a vote? When it's provisional

Peter Brent from Mumble Politics writes:

A funny thing happened to provisional votes at the November 24 election. It probably cost the ALP several seats. Or it prevented them from taking several seats they shouldn’t have. Or perhaps 70,000 – 100,000 people who couldn’t be bothered keeping their enrolment details up to date simply got what they deserved.

It’s in the eye of the beholder.

What is a provisional vote? Broadly speaking, this is when an elector rocks up to a polling station on election-day, gives their name to the official but finds they aren’t on the roll.

So they get a ballot paper, fill it in, and also write their name and address and electorate on an envelope, into which the ballot paper goes. In the next week or so the AEC checks the voter’s bona fides and if the AEC agrees they should indeed have been on the roll, their ballot paper is counted.

At the 2004 election, about twelve and a half million people voted across the country. Some 180,878 people went through the provisional vote process described above, and of those, 90,366 were rejected, and 90,512 accepted.

So almost exactly 50% made it into the count in 2004.

At last month's election, nearly 13 million people voted in total, and there were (none of the 2007 figures is final) 168,767 provisional votes received by the AEC.

But only 24,212 were counted; the rest were rejected. That is, the acceptance rate of provisional votes fell from 50 percent in 2004 to 14 percent in 2007. Why?

The Howard government made several changes to the electoral law in the last few years, but one of them largely accounts for this huge drop.

Under the old rules, if a person moved from one house to another in the same electorate, and the AEC found out they had left Dwelling A, and so took them off the roll there, but didn’t put them on at Dwelling B because the voter hadn’t filled out a change of address form, they were still entitled to have their vote counted. (If they had moved to another electorate and had dropped off the roll they couldn’t vote.)

But that rule is no more, and such people were discarded in the preliminary scrutiny after last month’s election.

The remaining 14 percent – those who were accepted – were accidentally taken off by the AEC, could show they hadn’t moved address, or were mistakenly thought to have died, perhaps.

Does all of this matter? From the point of view of the disenfranchised elector it does, although some argue that if you can’t be bothered keeping your AEC details up to date you have no-one to blame but yourself.

There is also the fact that provisional voters are disproportionately left of centre. For example, the total national vote at the 2004 election split, after preferences, about 53 to 47 in the Coalition’s favour. But provisional votes split about 53 to 47 to the ALP.

Last month, the nation voted about 53 to 47 in Labor’s favour. Can we assume the “missing” provisional votes would have swung by the same amount, and so gone 59 to 41 in Labor’s favour? If we do assume that, then they would have added about .1 percent to Labor’s national vote, and given them a few more seats.

Or maybe they wouldn’t have swung by that much, and probably at least some of the “missing” provisionals should not have been counted anyway. But even a conservative treatment of them delivers Labor the ultra-marginal McEwen and Bowman.

Electoral law is not black and white. The tension is between integrity of the roll and people’s right to vote. Throw in partisan considerations - from both sides – and it’s a heady mix.

The Coalition government has rammed through some long-held hobby horses since taking control of the Senate in 2005. The new Labor government will have its own, although passage through the Senate may be tricky.

Any electoral system must guard against fraud. But the fact is – and all political parties know it – that the legitimate electors who are likely to lose their vote under tighter restrictions – renters, young folks, people who move around a lot, those without a drivers license – tend to vote left of centre in greater numbers than the rest of us.

This informs the parties’ approach to electoral law.

The Australian Electoral Commission runs a first class operation on election-day. Beneath the calm, efficient exterior at the polling booth is a massive logistical exercise that remains the envy of much of the planet.

But on enrolment we have fallen behind world’s best practice. In many countries address changes are automatic – you don’t have to tell the officials, they change your details for you – and in others enrolment and detail changes are possible up until polling day.

It’s time for Australian enrolment procedures to move into the 21st century. Then issues such as provisional voting would hardly arise.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Australian Shame: Aboriginal Artists Centre Closes

One of the inspiring things about Broome has been Djugun Tribal Creations.

Djugun Tribal Creations is a not for profit organisation providing support and training to Broome’s emerging Artists. Tucked away in the light Industrial area of Clementson Street, we feature work from 21 artists including award winning artists Sue Poelina and Miguel Castillion.

Consisting of 3 onsite studios and a well presented Gallery, Djugun offers the experience of free daily tours. Visitors have the opportunity to meet artists and enjoy a cultural exchange while viewing the artists in action producing not only canvas painting, ceramics, sculptures and carved feature tiles as well.

In 2006 Djugun Tribal Artists in residence received high acclaim, NAIDOC Kimberley Artist of the Year, NAIDOC Kimberley Artist (most commended), and finalists in the MEMENTO Awards (National). These high profile emerging Artists are now finding their work in high demand. Unique one off designs depicting traditional and contemporary Aboriginal Art and local non-indigenous artworks are finding homes all over the state and worldwide.

Never take anything for granted. The business was closing its doors today and emptying out all its equipment and stock. While we were busy defeating the Howard government, Djugun was defeated by the CDEP changes and other government bureaucracy. It has been a model for other aboriginal enterprises and its group of more than 20 artists have won numerous awards.

Photo: Broome potters get fired up (ABC Kimberley 16 april 2005)

We were shocked and stunned by the news. Sue Poelina, an award winning artist shown in the photo, predicted today that they would rise again, hopefully without the need or help of governments that have let them down.

Best of luck! The rest of us should hang our heads in shame.

Original post at: Labor View from Broome

Monday, December 10, 2007

Getup! Confab

Bill McHarg : Planet First

The last kind of person I expected to meet at the Getup! Refresh Conference last weekend in Sydney was a corporate high flier. With the frenetic activity of the last week of campaigning I missed the work of Bill McHarg and his Kookaburra family. His full page ads were in the Sydney press and he slipped under the Broome radar. So it was a great pleasure to meet him and hear his story. Won’t bore you with it all here but his surprise attack on John Howard and Bennelong was clearly sensational. Watch the video and read Green businessman bids to oust Howard (The Age 15 November 2007)

His video Bill McHarg : Planet First was posted on YouTube on 15 November. The Kookaburra van toured the CBD and Bennelong for rest of the campaign. The assault on Howard cost about $200,000. Bill resigned from his business and positions on a number of organisations to focus on his Climate Change passion. His family were his campaign team.

His next target is the US policy makers. They don’t know what they’re in for.

Political Satire:

1. John Howard's Ladies Auxillary Fan Club

Two of the ladies auxillary presented a live sketch of their campaign best at the Getties awards. There was also a workshop presentation by Zelda explaining their tactics and lessons for this kind of satire. Go to their Youtube Channel: joholafaclub for a run around the tan with the PM and a day at the Melbourne Cup, plus other brilliant videos.

2. Cyrius01

Winner of the best satirical video was Cyrius01 aka Stefan Sojka. He was my favourite on Youtube in recent months. If you missed his stuff, visit his Channel.

3. Dan Ilic

Dan made a presentation of some of his videos. He made some for the Getup campaign, others through Fairfax Media and many solos. He describes himself as a writer/performer/director/broadcaster. He's at Channel DanIlic.

Original post at: Labor View from Broome

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Tensions rise over Hale St Bridge

Like a rabbit in the headlights

Traffic will be banked back for "kilometres" on the Riverside Expressway when works starts on the new Hale Street Bridge, the State Government says.

The proposed bridge, from Milton to South Brisbane, is becoming the "hot potato" road project in the spotlight for next year's Brisbane City Council elections.

Brisbane City Council is accusing the State Government of demanding changes to its traffic plans while construction of the bridge is underway.

Main Roads Minister Warren Pitt and Brisbane's Lord Mayor exchanged accusations on ABC Radio this morning, with Cr Newman accusing Mr Pitt's department of requesting major changes on Coronation Drive to prevent traffic building up on the Riverside Expressway.

Mr Pitt told ABC Radio that the traffic details were "very thin" on detail and predicted traffic would "bank up for kilometres" on the Riverside Expressway during the construction.

"The traffic management plan that the Lord Mayor says the council has put in place is very thin on detail," Mr Pitt said.


Brisbanites elected Newman maybe because he swam in a drain. Since then he's had this obsession with turning Brisbane into New York, like a little boy who thinks gluing a few decals to his bed makes it a V8 super car. So far all he's accomplished is NY sized spending with no plan for the future besides randomly plonking down billions of dollars of road infrastructure, despite the pressing need to upgrade and maintain Brisbane's pathetic public transport system.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Rudd's Cabinet & Ministry

Cabinet and Ministry

Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister.

Julia Gillard, Deputy Prime Minister, Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, Social Inclusion. [this is a good indication of things that are going to be important in a Rudd govt.]

Wayne Swan, Treasurer. [meh, just do what the RBA tells you]

Chris Evans, Leader of the Government in the Senate, Immigration and citizenship. [can't be worse than Andrews]

John Faulkner, Special minister of State, Cabinet Secretary, Vice president of the executive council. [excellent choice here. Faulkner is a real stalwart in parliament, streets ahead of the filthy Eric "aids and" Abetz.

Simon Crean, Trade. [I suppose we'll see what he can really do, can't be worse than Vaile, as long as he doesn't bribe Saddam again]

Stephen Smith, Foreign Affairs. [great tactic, Smith could kill a party in a whorehouse that backed onto a liquor store. Our foreign partners will sign anything to get away]

Joel Fitzgibbon, Defence. [let's see what happens when super hornet gate comes out...]

Nicola Roxon, Health and Ageing. [another good choice, much better than the former minister for asbestos].

Jenny Macklin, Family, Housing, Community services and Indigenous Affairs. [another good performer].

Lindsay Tanner, Finance and Deregulation. [well he is an articled clerk...]

Anthony Albanese, Infrastructure, Transport and Regional development, Local Government, Leader of the House.

Stephen Conroy, Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate, Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy. [a potential banana skin?]

Kim Carr, Innovation, Industry, Science and Research. [Another lefty, yay!]

Penny Wong, Climate Change and Water. [another stellar performer and organiser, she'll do well here I think]

Peter Garrett, Environment, Heritage and the Arts. [placed where he can't do too much damage]

Robert McClelland, Attorney-General. [should show slightly more signs of life than the previous occupant. Whatever you do Robert, DO NOT open that sarcophagus in the corner of your new office.]

Joe Ludwig, Human Services, Manager of Government Business in the Senate. [I worry that this guy could be Rudd's Downer... I hope not.]

Tony Burke, Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. [Has he ever even seen a cow?]

Martin Ferguson, Resources and Energy, Tourism. [Pro nuclear power energy minister... hmmm...]

Outer Ministry

Bob Debus, Home Affairs.

Chris Brown, Assistant Treasurer, Minister for Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs.

Alan Griffin, Veterans Affairs.

Tanya Plibersek, Housing, Status of Women.

Brendan O'Connor, Employment Participation. [oddly renamed "Brenda O'Conner" by the SMH]

Warren Snowdon, Defence Science and Personnel.

Craig Emerson, Small Business, Independent Contractors and the Service Economy, Minister Assisting the Finance Minister on Deregulation. [should do well]

Nick Sherry, Superannuation and Corporate Governance.

Justine Elliot, Ageing. [she isn't Christopher Pyne]

Kate Ellis, Youth, Sport.

Parliamentary Secretaries

Maxine McKew, Prime Minister and Cabinet. [Max the axe, is Rudd keeping his potential enemies close? That woman is a serious potential leadership threat]

Greg Combet, Defence. [he's probably as confused as we are]

Mike Kelly, Defence.

Gary Gray, Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development.

Bill Shorten, Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. [once single handedly rescued two Tasmanian miners using nothing more than a teaspoon and a video camera]

Bob McMullan, Foreign Affairs. [see, I told you boring people to death was our new foreign affairs policy position]

Duncan Kerr, Foreign Affairs.

Anthony Byrne, Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Ursula Stephens, Social Inclusion and the Voluntary Sector.

John Murphy, Trade.

Jan McLucas, Health and Ageing.

Laurie Ferguson, Immigration and Citizenship. [hmm...]

Can Spend Campbell

As quickly as the Kevin Rudd election posters are coming down around Brisbane, the Liberal Party are replacing them with billboards of their own local hero.

A number of posters featuring Lord Mayor Campbell Newman and his Liberal council hopefuls have sprung up around the city in recent days.

Motorists along Wynnum Road at Cannon Hill this morning will have noticed a large billboard advertisement for Melina Morgan, the Liberal candidate for the Morningside ward.

Ms Morgan is pictured alongside Brisbane's high-profile Cr Newman, who is seeking to break the majority Labor stranglehold in Brisbane City Council.

It is virtually a mirror-image of the successful ALP campaign to identify the local candidates aligned with the popular Kevin Rudd.


This blog will be covering the upcoming Brisbane council elections as well. With any luck the wild spending, tunnel obsessed, brainless mayor will no longer be the ranking elected Liberal in Australia. If anyone has anything interesting (or not) to say about our spender in chief, click the contribute link!

Bill Heffernan's Payback

The Poll That Counts: Bill Heffernan's Payback

Inside the Tallyroom, Senator Bill Heffernan sparred with The Chaser. As a close friend of John Howard and a Liberal Party assassin, he watched the Prime Minister's concession speech with despair.

It was payback time for his attacks on High Court Justice Michael Kirby and Labor Deputy Julia Gillard.

Politics doesn't have to be fought Heffernan's venomous way. I hope he will leave us in peace now.

"The Poll That Counts" series of Election Day 2007 and the National Tallyroom is now complete. If you are blocked from Youtube try TeacherTube

Original post at: Labor View from Broome

My list of demands

Hello. I'm one of the many people who voted to put you in office. Guess what? That makes me one of your many employers.

Normally when you are put in a new job in the PS, you'll get a copy of your JD, and 3-6 months probation. Given your circumstances, you already know what your JD is, and 6 months probation? Try 3 years, at which point we (the Australian people) will reassess.

Now I know you'll have many people pulling you this way and that, wanting things because of your position, but really, we all know that the PM only has as much power as parliament is willing to give him. But having said that, that doesn't mean you can't try - your influence is one bargaining chip you do have. And let's face it, the ALP is hardly going to oust you from your position in a leadership scuffle now that you've helped win back government from the racist, misogynist, power hungry Liberal Party.

But I do have a list of demands. Really, I know that they won't all be met in your first term in office, but damn, you can always try - lay the groundwork at the very least. In no particular order (because as far as I'm concerned, they're all very important), here are some of the ones that come to mind at this moment.

Get our troops out of Iraq. I noticed on Friday that you have stated this will happen by mid-2008. Good job. Now actually follow through please.

Reinstate accountability in the Senate. You know what I mean - committees keep the Senate in line, and the Howard government made damn sure three years ago that they would not be held accountable for their behaviour.

People are going to hate me for this but - no tax cuts. Not during your first term. Don't introduce them in the 2008 budget. The only time you could do so would be in the 2009 budget, but that will be dependent on many factors. If you do it in 2010 and you've not done it in previous years, it will be seen as an election grab, no matter how you justify it.

Reduce spending. For the love of god, reduce spending. The Howard government loved to throw money around as though it grows on trees and they have paid the price - interest rate rises, even when they were warned to slow down. Don't make the same mistake. Yes, interest rates are virtually guaranteed to go up in the next 12 months, and a recession appears to be looming, but that doesn't mean you should just sit around and wait for it to hit.

Now this next one may seem contrary to my previous demand, but increase funding for public schools and hospitals. I know education is one of your big priorities, and that's great, but you may just have to increase state funding. Mental health. Address it. ASAP. Don't just concentrate on the elderly or young people - there are millions of people who don't fall into that category and a portion of them have mental health issues that are inadequately addressed. This definitely needs to be addressed in conjunction (but not solely) with the criminal justice system.

Workchoices. Duh. Now, don't completely abolish AWAs - in some circumstances they are good. But for the rank and file - not good. People want their penalty rates, their overtime, their weekends. They want to be guaranteed a minimum level of rights. Do I need to say that reintroducing unfair dismissal laws would be a good idea? Oh, speaking of - release the statistics that the Howard government refused to release that would back up their claims that removing the laws was great for workers. I don't expect the laws to be reintroduced in their old form, but get the unions together with business, see if something can't be worked out that is good for all. Remember that the ALP was first and foremost for the worker - people like my dad left the party years ago because of the gradual shift to the right. Don't allow yourselves to move any further in that direction. After all, I think we can safely say it is because of an intense dislike for workchoices that you got elected.

Repeal the Marriage Amendment Bill of 2004. (pdf) You know the one. The one that says you can only get married if you and your partner are of different genders. You supported it, remember? Marriage is about love and commitment, not about who has a penis and who has a vagina. I've said it before and I'll keep saying it - not everyone in a committed relationship wants to get married, whether they are straight or gay. The fact that people want to be legally recognised as a couple shouldn't be contingent on whether or not the person they love is of the same sex as them. Gay marriage will not destroy life as we know it. As a first step, you can make sure that homosexual de facto couples get exactly the same rights as heterosexual de facto couples. This also includes access to IVF and adoption.

Kyoto. I know you've already said you'll ratify. Good. Just a reminder.

Detention centers and "queue jumpers". Introduce a maximum time that people will be left in detention centers when seeking asylum (I suggest 6 months - no more). Do not put children in there full stop. While I'd like the detention centers to be completely abolished, I know you aren't going to do that, so this is my compromise. Also - repeal the "Pacific Solution". It is bullshit.

Be honest with Australia about the terrorism threat. There is no doubt in my mind that Howard & Co exaggerated the level of threat for political gain. Their encouragement of xenophobia and racism is ruining Australia's international reputation. You need to make sure that people know that this kind of bigotry will not be tolerated (or encouraged) like it has been in the past 11 years. Multiculturalism is not just a pretty idea, it is essential for harmony.

Fixed terms. You yourself know what it feels like to be held hostage to the whims of the government in announcing when the election will be held. People like to be able to plan. People like to be able to know that the government of the day isn't going to try to shove some more legislation through before they announce an election. People like to know when they are planning to get rid of the government, that there is a clearly defined end in sight. Three or four years - up to you. I'd prefer three, but that is a personal preference. You actually said during the campaign that you would introduce them - please don't let that be a non-core promise.

This is all I can think of at the moment. I know there are plenty more. You do have your work cut out for you - 11 years of the Howard government has resulted in a lot of rubbish to wade through. So you'll probably hear from me again.

In the tradition of employers everywhere, I also reserve the right to add to or amend any of these issues. It's part of the fun.

Good luck, we will be watching.



Howard's Last Innings: A Golden Pair

Howard's Last Innings: Tallyroom Spectators

John Howard made his concession speech on Saturday night at 10.40 pm, Canberra time. Like his cricketing idol, Don Bradman, Howard made a duck in his last innings. In fact by losing his seat, it's probably a golden pair.

Bennelong 0, Coalition 0.

In the national Tallyroom, he was watched by both friend and foe with a sense of disbelief. Bill Heffernan, his loyal assassin who spent the night sparring with the Chaser. Joe Hockey hoping it was all just another stunt. ACTU President Sharon Burrow, vindicated at last. Penny Wong who was a formidable opponent during the campaign.

The media looked on, in silence for once. Members of the Press Gallery. Shock-jocks like Steve Price, confidante of rock stars. But also the alternative media. Koori and Tamil media broadcasters who were seated beside me. The National Indigenous Times who worked in front of us. Getup and Nick Parkin and Matt Clayfield from Election Tracker who blogged live through the evening.

And of course the public gallery who had clapped and cheered spontaneously from the beginning. Most listened quietly for the most part to the PM. But in an indication of what went wrong for him this year, many of the crowd stopped listening before he finished.

The closing credits of the video show a 1982 Canberra Times front page dating from the Fraser government. The caption reads: "John Howard - set to replace Lynch?" It hangs in the foyer of Rydges Lakeside Hotel in Canberra. Howard entered parliament in 1974 and became Treasurer in 1977. He was the last remaining member of the Liberal Party Room of 1975, which blocked supply forcing the Whitlam government's dismissal. All gone, but not forgotten!

A cliché called closure.

If you are blocked from Youtube try TeacherTube.

Original post at: Labor View from Broome

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Election Night: Tallyroom Tension

The Poll That Counts No.3: Tallyroom Tension

Inside the National Tallyroom in Canberra on Saturday night, the tension rose as the Australian Labor Party took the lead. People had travelled long distances and waited for hours to get into the public area. They knew why they had come. As one woman quipped, "I want my country back!". It was not just a partisan crowd. But they had come to celebrate.

Original post at: Labor View From Broome

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Tallyroom: Howard Made History

The Poll That Counts No.2: Howard Made History

Inside the Canberra Tallyroom the excitement builds in the 2007 Australian Federal election. Maxine McKew, the ALP candidate, establishes a comfortable lead over John Howard, outgoing Prime Minister and Member for Bennelong.

We wait for Senator Penny Wong, ALP campaign spokesperson, to smile. What a poker face! It finally happens at 9.30 pm when Maxine appears on the TV coverage. National Barnaby Joyce, and Liberals Bill Heffernan and Joe Hockey clearly have dud hands all night. Humpty Dumpty Hockey gets hotter and hotter. Looks like he might explode as he he struggles in his own seat. Heffernan spars with the Chaser but more of that in the following episodes. Finally Howard appears, to make his concession speech, and the crowd hushes.

Footnote: Later Kerry O'Brien and Antony Green both complained about the crowd noise. Some of it was caused by the Chaser. Most was spontaneous outpourings of delight as the figures for Bennelong came on the screens or images of Maxine or Julia Gillard appeared. Unfortunately Julia was seated with her back to the public area so we missed her live facial expressions.

Think I was the only one watching the old tallyboards.

More to come: People in the tallyroom watch Howard's speech. Hefferan payback.

Original post at: Labor View from Broome

King Rat

Just who is Brendan Nelson? Well let's see what he was like in 1994...

BMJ 1994;309:562 (3 September)


Focus: Sydney: The rise and rise of Brendan Nelson

S Chapman

Earlier this year a colleague returned to Sydney from what had promised to be a dull meeting of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians in Hobart, the drizzle soaked capital of Tasmania. But he beamed from ear to ear. His glee was at the oration given by Brendan Nelson, the 36 year old national president of the Australian Medical Association.

Nelson, a Tasmanian GP who wears a diamond earring, had torn into the medical profession for its sleepy social reform agenda. He berated them for shirking all the big public health debates other than those that were self serving. He urged them to use their knowledge, positions, and privilege to support the things that really mattered in their communities. At the end of his speech nearly all stood and applauded.

Nelson took over the AMA' presidency in 1993, after serving an apprenticeship to the affluent, avuncular orthopaedic surgeon Bruce Shepherd. During the 1993 federal election Shepherd campaigned on behalf of the (now deposed) Liberal leader, John Hewson, prompting Prime Minister Paul Keating to describe him as the "most ugly, most rapacious union leader" in Australia.

Nelson, in contrast, is from what the Labor party calls a "true believer" background. Grandson of a communist and son of a Labor loyalist he had been a Labor party member, but he resigned when he took up AMA politics so as to be seen as nonpartisan in his dealings.

Nelson has transformed the public face of AMA politics. Once seen as the guardian of medical privilege the AMA is now most often heard through Nelson's plain speaking about oppressed groups, reform, and bungling bureaucracy. The Australian media find him irresistible. While many in the Australian health system are mesmerised by the emperor's new clothes of the 1990s (health outcomes, customer focus, etc) Nelson speaks no nonsense talk about real health problems. In the past 12 months he has breathed life into debates about drug policy, euthanasia, homosexual law reform, environmentalism, immunisation, declining funding for medical research, and hotels supplying women with free drinks to attract hard drinking men. His most sustained efforts have been directed at Australia's appalling Aborginal health record, the health consequences of unemployment, and hounding the tobacco industry.

In August it was widely reported that Nelson would be forsaking medical politics for the popular variety. He confirmed that he had been approached by both main parties, and the main intrigue now focuses on which way he will jump. He remains tight lipped. The Liberal party in Australia has been out of power since 1983, and despite rhetoric about a new direction, remains bereft of leadership. Nelson would give the party a charisma transplant but at great risk of arousing Australian's suspicion of turncoats and political opportunists.

The Labor party keeps no seats warm for old comrades who "rat" on the party by leaving it. For some too Nelson remains tainted by his past association with Shepherd's overt support for the Liberals and by the abiding suspicion that the profile he gives to public health issues is a Trojan horse for the AMA's real business: the preservation of doctors' incomes.

But many suspect that Nelson's first duty is to social medicine - to the unemployed, Aboriginal health, the further humiliation of the tobacco industry - all subjects where the Liberal party has a weak record. These are issues where he is at his most animated. Those who know him find the public stand consonant with the private man. He has often said pragmatically that political change requires working from with in a major political party. Labor therefore seems most likely. If Nelson jumps into the desperate-for-talent Liberal boat he may just sink with it.

How prophetic. Nelson appears to become captain of one of the Titanic's lifeboats. He's now leader of a party so dumbstruck by defeat they've opted for a former union boss and Labor party member to lead their party. This is after having run a massive scare campaign on union bosses. There's a rumour that Nelson won because he wouldn't say sorry to Indigenous Australians while Turnbull would. If this ideological blind-spot is all that's holding the Liberal party together, it's going to be a long three years for them.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Poll That Counts No.1: Around the booths

I represented YouDecide2007 as a citizen journalist at the Tallyroom on Saturday night. An amazing experience! During Howard's concession speech I videoed the people on the floor of the media centre watching him: Bill Hefferan, Steve Price, Penny Wong, Sharon Burrows and many more.

Still editing. First episode "The Poll That Counts No.1: Around the booths" is on Youtube.

All episodes will be posted to Youdedcide2007, and TeacherTube as well to get around the censors. Watch this space!

Original post at: Labor View from Broome

John Howard is at Stage One

John Howard comes to terms with his role in the Liberal party's loss

Dr. Hibbert: Now, a little death anxiety is normal. You can expect to go through five stages. The first is denial.
Homer: No way! Because I'm not dying!
Dr. Hibbert: The second is anger.
Homer: Why you little!
Dr. Hibbert: After that comes fear.
Homer: What's after fear? What's after fear?
Dr. Hibbert: Bargaining.
Homer: Doc, you gotta get me out of this! I'll make it worth your while!
Dr. Hibbert: Finally, acceptance.
Homer: Well, we all gotta go sometime.
Dr. Hibbert: Mr. Simpson, your progress astounds me.

Tony Abbott, Liberal party people skills coach and public relations manager, was on Lateline this evening. According to him, Howard has convinced himself that the election defeat wasn't his fault. Although, the defeat was half Peter Costello's fault. Whomever is responsible for the other half was left as an exercise for the listener. Also Malcolm Turnbull, who arrived at Howard's last supper at the back gate, changing the Liberal party into the Democrats is totally going to work. OMFG Malcolm watch out... you're a plucky historian but there's a crazed albino Catholic monk right. behind. you. Pausing only to adjust his cilice, Tony informed us that Costello had eaten many meals at the Lodge in Canberra (presumably in the servants quarters) and that he hadn't had a 'foursome' (as god is my witness, the transcript shall not prove me a liar) with Tanya, Janette and John. Whatever vomiting while laughing sounds like, I made that noise. He went on to inform us that he would totally get in on that action. I wish I was lying. Costello is rumoured to be writing a book. I'm sure he'll dedicate a whole chapter to Tony Abbot. As soon as I heard he'd be on Lateline I knew we'd be in for a spectacular performance.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Oh Yes, we’re all sorry now

For the Liberal party, all of a sudden sorry isn't the hardest word to say.

Posted by Possum Comitatus on November 28, 2007

One of the inevitable consequences of an electoral drubbing is the miraculous discovery of a special type of remorse that only the prism of hindsight can apparently deliver.

Turnbull is sorry the Coalition didn’t say sorry, Hockey is sorry that Workchoices went too deep, Nelson is sorry that his government didn’t use the phrase “human and social objectives” as often as he believes they ought to have, half the front bench are sorry that Costello was a political eunuch for the past 12 months and the entire Liberal Party is sorry that Jackie Kelly ever got married.

Full post at Possums Pollytics

Is all that you cant say
Years gone by and still
Words dont come easily
Like sorry like sorry

Forgive me
Is all that you cant say
Years gone by and still
Words dont come easily
Like forgive me forgive me

But you can say baby
Baby can I hold you tonight
Maybe if I told you the right words
At the right time you'd be mine

Apologies to Tracy Chapman

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Foreign Views


The victory of Kevin Rudd's Labor Party confirms yet again that there comes a time when it is not enough merely to appeal to voters on the basis of an outstanding record. At that stage in the political cycle, the electorate's view of a leader can turn. A feeling that it is time for a change will take root.


Howard met the fate of all who try to cling to power for too long - a stinging reverse that, in this case, has delivered a comprehensive victory to the Labor Party.


Under Kevin Rudd, Australia must be more egalitarian and abandon the arrogance of being the US' sheriff in Asia-Pacific. Rudd must not maintain Howard's bossy style.


Howard's downfall has further confirmed the assumption that world politicians who follow US President George Bush's policy will collapse sooner or later. After the resignation of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, now it is Howard's turn to fall. For Indonesia, it is hoped that the new Australian leader can build more equal and friendly bilateral relations.


Australia's diplomatic priorities will not change, and foreign policy priorities towards the US will not change... Rudd's 'China expertise' is the result of acquired learning and personal interest, and he is first of all an Australian citizen and second Australian prime minister.


For Asia and particularly China, it will be business as usual... Debate over closer relations with Asia as opposed to traditional ties with the US and Britain has long been overtaken by economic and cultural links with Asia through trade. Australia will continue to fuel China's industrial growth with raw materials.


I've also heard that our Polynesian neighbours are overjoyed at the prospect of no longer having to deal with the rude, arrogant, bullying former foreign minister. The future looks bright for creating of partnerships in our region to advance our interests via goodwill and cooperation, as opposed to Downer's moronic 19th century colonialist mentality.

Two choices for the Liberals in Opposition

The Liberals have two choices, neither of which depend on Rudd or the vagaries of fate. They can stay focused on holding Rudd to his promises, while at the same time working out what theirs should be. Or, they can pretend that all they need to do is fine-tune the message a bit and they're fine. The latter is the most likely, but the great thing about pessimism is that surprises are usually pleasant.

Full post at Politically Homeless

That’s the Right dealt with, now for the Left

Friends, tomorrow the work begins. Australia's long-term challenges demand a new consensus across our country. I'm determined to use the office of prime minister to forge that consensus.

I want to put aside the old battles of the past: the old battles between business and unions, the old battles between growth and the environment, the old and tired battles between federal and state. The old battles between public and private.

K Rudd 24 November 2007

It will be some time before the significance of Rudd’s highly revealing victory speech becomes apparent. The basis of what he was saying hinged on his idea of a new consensus. Andrew Bolt got this 100% wrong on Insiders when he said Rudd was doing me-tooism with Hawke on this. Rudd’s consensus is utterly different from Hawke’s.

Full post at The Piping Shrike

A staged implosion – an update

Well that was quick. Costello’s refusal of the leadership has undermined the brief stability given by the Liberals holding up reasonably well in their blue ribbon metropolitan seats. In doing so he paid back the party that had refused to give him the leadership on a plate a year ago.

The obvious barb in Costello’s press conference was the attack on the NSW Liberal Party, blaming them for the Lindsay fiasco. He probably had a point.

Full post at The Piping Shrike

Monday, November 26, 2007

Facing up to Howards legacy

Possum Comitatus has a good analysis of the Liberal party's rock and a hard place leadership problem

It’s a tough choice for the top job of the Chief Eater of the shit sandwich, and that’s exactly what being the first Opposition leader of a routed government is all about.

For the next 3 years, as every misdemeanour or gross political felony that the previous government committed is thrown back in their face, when every dirty little policy secret or suppressed statistic is released into a hungry news cycle, the next leader has to sit there and go “Mmmmm Hmmm - tastes like chicken“.

It doesn’t matter what opposition leaders say for the first term - no one listens to them anyway. The only reason people know that opposition leaders exist in their first stint out of government is because they just happen to be the poor Shmo’s that become the target of a new government’s political retribution.

Now honestly - who can see Malcolm Turnbull sitting there sucking that up?

Full post at Possums Pollytics

Lexy D

Pic via Crikey

Downer on the 7:30 report. Tosser.

He claims he doesn't have the "enthusiasm" for the position of opposition leader. Hmmm...I suspect it is more that the party doesn't have the enthusiasm for him.

Banging on about his contact internationally due to his 11 years as Foreign Minister

Not "dramatically" surprised about Costello.

"I will continue to help the liberal party and I will listen to what they want me to do in the future." ???

Now saying that Turnbull has great experience when yesterday on Insiders he said he'd "only" been there for 3 years. Not Turnbull, Abbott and Nelson not neophytes.

My god, he's getting even more annoying.

Kissing Costello's arse. "Didn't ever have the numbers" for leadership. Interesting. "At any time." !!!!

What motivated the PM to ask ministers if he should stay, then reject the advice? All the wonderful work they did during 2007 didn't make any difference in the polls. Oh. Kerry said he has heard that Howard rejecting advice affected his relationship with Downer. Downer denying (of course he will). "He thought he was the person best able to win the election..."



From yesterday's Insiders:

And the first thing the Liberal Party should do in order to win the 2010 election is get behind Peter Costello as the new leader of the Liberal Party, because I think he will be a very formidable Leader of the Opposition and I think he will very much get Kevin Rudd's measure. S


BARRIE CASSIDY: But was it a mistake, though, to revisit the issue during APEC, to take soundings and then to essentially ignore the advice that came back to him?

ALEXANDER DOWNER: Well, I think it was sensible for the Prime Minister to look at our situation.

Look, to be honest with you, I'll tell you one thing retrospectively, my view through this year was that it didn't look to me as though we were going to win the election. I didn't of course say that publicly and you wouldn't have expected me to. It would be suicidal to do that sort of thing, but as the year wore on there wasn't a very positive public response to a range of different initiatives, for example the $10 billion Murray Darling initiative was very well supported by the public, was a wonderful thing to do, something I've wanted to see happen all my adult life.

But it didn't shift the opinion polls. When we brought down a very popular budget in May, yes, popular with the public in terms of the initiatives, didn't shift the opinion polls.

And when we intervened in the Northern Territory in the Indigenous communities there again, the actual initiative was very popular with the public but it didn't shift the opinion polls.

I must tell you that throughout the year I have had a fairly gloomy view of our prospects. So inevitably in those circumstances, a lot of us talked about it and what we could do to try and impervious our situation, so I do think that's wise?

I think that was very wise, but who knows what a better solution could be. History just doesn't record that.

BARRIE CASSIDY: But surely that underlines it. If you a gloomy prognosis on your prospects, Peter Costello was available, you're now saying he will be an excellent leader of the Liberal Party, surely it would've been worth a try?

ALEXANDER DOWNER: Well, who know what would've happened, frankly. I mean, who knows? We just will never know the answer to that. I think also it's important to remember that I think John Howard has been the best Prime Minister Australia's ever had, he's been an extraordinarily successful Prime Minister. He has been a formidable political figure, he's been one of the great political figures of Australian history and you know, people were certainly not going to turn aggressively on somebody of that stature.

That there's just no question of it.

BARRIE CASSIDY: You have no doubt Peter Costello will be elected leader of the Liberal Party unopposed?

ALEXANDER DOWNER: Look, I've not spoken to too many people since last night. I've spoken to about two people. So I hope, as a former leader myself, let me say I hope that the party will just get behind Peter Costello and elect him unopposed.

I think that's the right decision for the Liberal Party. Peter Costello has enormous talent and remember he does have a great deal more experience, almost infinitely more experience than Kevin Rudd, and it will be a tough job for Mr Rudd to confront somebody who is as experienced as articulate, and as formidable as Peter Costello.

I think Mr Rudd will find, of course he will have a honeymoon for a while, but I think he'll find dealing with Mr Costello very heavy going as time goes on.

BARRIE CASSIDY: Malcolm Turnbull won his seats against the odds, will that boost his stocks within the party?

ALEXANDER DOWNER: Well, he has been in Parliament for 3 years and I think he's gradually building up a bank of experience there, and I think he has a very good future in the party.

He is a very good friend of mine and I think very highly of him as a person. But look, you need to build up experience in politics and he's doing that. Nobody in the party, well, I suppose at least in theory with the exception of me, but I'm not running for leader, but no one in the party has the experience of Peter Costello and I think there shouldn't be a contest to the leadership. It should just go straight to Peter Costello.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Costello to refuse leadership

Peter Costello has made the shock announcement that he ''would not seek nor accept'' a nomination to be the new opposition leader.

Instead, Mr Costello said today he wanted to build a post-political career in the commercial world.

Australia's longest serving treasurer, who had long wanted to be prime minister, told a news conference in Melbourne he would stay on in parliament and then move on.


Well, he did want to be PM, not leader of the opposition.

'I do believe it's time for the young people of talent and ability to be given their go in the Liberal party," he said

A nod to Turnbull perhaps? He's only been there for three years, but they do need some fresh eyes. Dear god, don't let it be Abbott or Downer. I can't imagine it would be Julie Bishop. She's a woman and I don't think the old guard would stand for that.

Of course, to put on my bitchy hat (what?) "young people of talent and ability" - does that mean he concedes that Howard was not young (duh) had no talent (obvs) and his ability was purely based on ruling with an iron fist? Hmmm.

Fred Niles... why bother?

Tis the morning after the election, and all through my house, noone knew who won the election, not even a mouse.

Voting Day was behind me, but I had in my possession a new leader that I helped rise to power, some books from the $1 book bin, and a pile of sausages inspired by the voting poll sausage sizzle.

The best thing about voting day for me is the $1 book bin and sausage sizzle, and the smell of school hall and noting how small the childhood world is through cynical adult eyes.

Cynical? Moi? My vote didn't start out too well considering the voting lady couldn't even find my name on the polling list. But we persisted and I walked to my booth with my green slip and white table-cloth.

What freak of nature has the time to number every single box under the line?
Fred Niles on the green slip is just offensive. What if I wanted to celebrate the new leadership with an icecream and an abortion?

Upon walking out of the hall into the rain and the unknown but fairly guessable political future, I didn't bother to take any Mike Bailey pamphlets, I just voted for you buddy. High 5.

Welcome to our new PM

Kev - this still holds true:

Just because you're now PM, don't think we won't be watching. Because quite a few of us didn't vote for you as our primary candidate. Remember that.

As one of the people in your electorate (and how often does a person get to say they were one of the people who voted in the PM?), I think I am well placed to demand that you not become complacent. I have a list of things you should address that I will tell you about in due course.

In the meantime, congratulations. The real work now begins!


Good Stuff

0) Rudd mentioning Bernie Banton in his speech. I clapped.

1) The cheer from the counting room crowd when they first heard Howard was behind in his seat.

2) "Julia! Julia!" making it hard for Kerry to hear himself speak. It was brilliant.

3) Peter Costello looking like a weight had been lifted from his shoulders.

4) Peter Costello thinking he's going to be the leader of the opposition because Howard said it would be a smooth transition to him.

5) Howard saying that the next leader would be decided by the party, taking responsibility for the loss and failing to retire then and there, screwing Costello one last time and confirming he lies simply because it's in his nature.

6) The atmosphere at Howard's concession. It was like he was Jim Jones. This guy kept screaming about how much he loved Howard. I was expecting them to break out cups of poisoned kool aid any minute.

7) Wilson Tuckey getting the fright of his life.

8) Greens polling so well, though it was largely skewed to certain seats. Went as high as +20% in some of them.

9) Downer claiming that 'bad timing' caused their election loss.

10) Learning that the libs are much easier to listen to... in opposition.

11) Joe Hockey talking about how devastating it is for his lib friends sacked for operational reasons, while the world's smallest violin plays for him.

Sad stuff:

1) Bartlett losing. Totally undeserved.

2) Ditto Kerry Nettle, she'll be missed.

3) Brough losing. He was way, way down on the list of govt. members deserving the chop.

4) The reptillian Pyne making it back. He announced he wants to slither into the deputy lib position, so it's not all bad news.

5) The hopeless Ron Boswell in the senate.

6) Steven Fielding not being struck by lighting. I'd had my hopes but on the balance, I'll take it.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


We've won. Go out and celebrate the repudiation of Howardism. No party will ever, ever again dare to threaten the rights of working Australians. Howard appears set to reinforce the lesson of Stanley Bruce. Push the Aussie worker and they'll bloody well push you back!

This lesson is still valid, Kevin Rudd. Never forget what your mandate is, or become as slack and complacent as Howard.

Also Howard loses with a lower primary than Mark Latham LOL!!!

Help! What's Happening?

Need to know what's going on? Try:



Possum Commitatus

If anyone has more suggestions, please post them in the comments!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Enough. Dear god, enough.

The difference between this election and the other two federal elections I've voted in is that this time there seems to be a real hope of getting rid of John Howard.

I can't even tell you how much I looked forward to voting on my 18th birthday in 2001 after John Howard stole all Pauline Hanson's policies and then added his own little extras- the election won on a wave of vitriol and hatred that Labor was afraid to stand up to. I looked forward to having my say again in 2004 where Mark Latham put forward some really good policies and yet I still couldn't bring myself to vote anything but Green because I could see that Latham's own party had undermined him in trying to soften his image. The failure of the ALP to counter the Howard government's attacks on Latham was so glaring that that it seemed to be a deliberate strategy by people in the party- almost as if they saw another term of John Howard as being more in their interests than Latham continuing to wield power as leader.

This time, there appears to be a mood for change. Not so much change of policies as change of leader, which is why Kevin Rudd has been so careful of the areas in which he differentiates himself from the government. I want Kevin Rudd to be Prime Minister only because it means we're rid of Howard. It's the first step on the road to making Australia a better country.

Now the polls are showing that Labor's lead over the coalition is narrowing: the ALP could win 52% of the two-party preferred vote and still not win government. Even if the polls were predicting a landslide I could scarcely bring myself to believe that the day is almost here where we can oust John Howard. With the polls that close, I know I'm going to have a sleepless night.

I've had enough of John Howard. I can remember being 14 and wishing I could vote so I could do something to get rid of him. Tomorrow will have been two weeks since I turned 24. Next year Gam and I will get married. Within the next decade we'll have children. I want to raise our kids in a country that has reached a stage where it has repudiated John Howard and all he stands for. I want to teach our kids about the John Howard era as a thing of the past, not something continued under Peter Costello, or Tony Abbott, or Alexander Downer that they will learn to rail against as they reach the stage of life where they start to think about the future they will build.

I can't think of a country I'd rather live in than Australia- not permanently. We've got a lot of good things. We have also allowed John Howard to take the credit for the great things we have- we allow him to spout pseudo-patriotic statements about mateship and being Australian while he continues to believe that we should have a foreign monarch as our head of state. While he continues to fawn at the feet of the imperialist US administration, smiling wetly as he receives the infrequent pat on the head from his US masters. The man who undermines our identity as a country simultaneously tries to take credit for creating it.

I can't believe what we have allowed John Howard to get away with.

I can say in all honesty that tomorrow I will feel devastated if we allow it to happen again. Australia- I'll never forgive you!

Note: as a sign that I can scrape together an ounce of optimism that John Howard will tomorrow be consigned to the dustbin of history I am creating a John Howard tag. This will aid those fortunate enough in the future to not remember his time in government to spend time researching the man as the relic he is.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Tell Me How to Vote!

So how should you vote? Damned if I know. But you can probably answer a few questions on Don't make a decision based on your final result. That would be extremely stupid. What you can do is plug in your answers to a whole bunch of 'issues' and at the end, if you're lucky, you can see how candidates in your electorate match up with you. Including seeing their responses to the same questionnaire. I've said it before, in Australia there is no excuse for not voting in your own interests. We have an embarrassment of information sources readily accessible to each voter. If you voted for someone and you didn't really know what they were about, it is your fault.

Why preferential voting matters

I was surprised yesterday when one of my friends admitted that they weren't aware of the advantage of voting first for a minor party and preferencing a major party. She was just going to vote for the ALP first.

Preferential voting works as follows:

  • You put a minor party (eg, Greens) first. Another party (eg, ALP) second.
  • If the party that you placed first gets more than 4% of the primary vote, they get funding of roughly $2 per vote ($2.40?). If your first choice does not win the majority (50% + 1) of the vote, your vote is then transferred to your next preference (second count). And so on until a candidate receives the majority vote.
So, by voting for a minor party first, even if you know they won't win the majority, helps them by (hopefully) giving them funding for part of their campaign, and sends the message to the major parties that the smaller parties and their policies cannot be discounted.

Don't waste your vote!

Seats du jour: Leichhardt and Ryan

Published by William Bowe at 2:22 pm under Federal Election 2007

A look at two seats in very different parts of Queensland which the Liberals are reckoned to be in serious danger of losing, despite double-digit margins.

Full post at The Poll Bludger

Shrek Returns to Swamp, Finds Donkey

Joe Hockey and Jackie Kelly discuss campaign strategery

As if being the poor goose that has to defend Workchoices isn’t enough of a burden, now Joe Hockey has to try and put out the fires of those political pyromaniacs of the Kelly Gang in his own seat – in 48 hours.

Shreks electorate of North Sydney is filled to the brim with people of a certain moral persuasion on social issues, their delicate Naw Shaw sensibilities being almost legendary…. Dahrling.

But out in the Bogansville of Lindsay, uber-Bogan Jackie Kelly and her bourbon swilling coterie of mental midgets thought it would be a really shit hot idea to start handing out fake ALP pamphlets depicting Labor being under the thumb of mufti-madness.

Gold. Read the rest at Possum's Pollytics.

Go see the interview with Kelly. Make sure to watch right to the end. Laurie Oakes tears her a new one.

Lindsaygate: "we are not crooks just stupid"

Jackie Kelly is certainly loyal. She is defending her husband and mates as just joking with their leaflet. Fake flyer meant as a joke: Lib MP (ABC News, 22 November 2007)

The Liberal Lindsaygate team have been nominated by LaborView for the Dead Parrots Society Hall of Fame today. It has always amused me that one of the links on Jackie Kelly’s website is to church service times in her electorate. Just Christian ones, no synagogues, no mosques or buddhist temples. Long live mono-culturalism which some of us know by another name.

Richard Nixon famously claimed in 1973, "I am not a crook."

Jackie Kelly seems to saying of her husband Gary Clark, "He's just stupid." She just told the Today Show: "He hates the unions with a passion." "It was cooked up by a bunch of bored drunks".

You're right Jackie, life is funnier than fiction.

Original post at: Labor View from Broome

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Rudd. 7:30 Report.

Ruddy's turn tonight.

I'm bummed I missed his press club address today. Oh well.

"The Rudd Government". Has a nice ring to it!

Hawke/Keating paid political price for risks they took. Resulted in forming platform for Australia's economic growth. Points out that under Fraser interest rates were high too, not just under Hawke/Keating. Kerry basically telling him to shut up - covered that last night with J-Ho! Doesn't want audience to fall asleep.

Keeping eye on inflationary pressures is key.

Do you agree the GST was right for Australia? "You can't unscramble the omelette" Huh? "But do you now accept it was right for Australia?" By undoing it, you would cause chaos - only reason for not touching GST. Need simpler ways to comply for business. "Do you believe the GST was bad policy?" Affects lower end of the income spectrum more.

Um. I'm a bit bored. La la la.

Housing! Are you comfortable in allowing the RB to slow the growth of the economy by increasing interest rates? "I accept the independence of the bank." "Very important we take a hard line approach to unnecessary expenditure." If RB says public spending is causing more inflation, would you reassess your spending promises? He's banging on about how they're going to spend less than Howard and save more than Howard. Snore.

"Stop the crazy spend-a-thon."

Points out that all the govt does is spend and bitch (about the ALP) as their campaign. Heh heh.

Oops. Sorry. Spaced out. Something about the ALP historically?

Kevvie loves his metaphors. WorkChoices "dicing" things. Omelettes, dicing. Was he hungry when he did this interview?

"You could drive a Mack truck through that safety net." (Workchoices.)

"Brissy." Go Brissy! Ahem. Sorry.

Blah. Banging on about the union backgrounds of the shadow cabinet. "I will govern in the national interest."

Ooooohhhhh - H R Nicholls Society. You went there! Woo hoo! (Costello was founder).

I love Kerry. He's so good at forcing pollies to get back on track and answering the question asked.

"Genesis of our IR system ... will have as it's core component..." something about wages. Sorry.

Nauru. How quickly would you move to shut down? No advice on that. Have appropriate offshore detention facility (Christmas Is). Why not use it instead? What? Why use it at all??????? You disappoint me, Mr Rudd. "Pacific solution is just way is to use Christmas Island." Sigh.

I'm so voting Greens. Yeah, yeah. I know I was anyway. But this reminds me why.

Climate change - Can you continue to responsibly ignore nuclear power? No decent attempt to look into renewable energy. Solar technologies have gone offshore. Solar, wind, geothermal will be looked at. Nuclear? We have large range of alternatives. Responsibilities regarding the export of uranium - repeats that other countries don't have as many options available to them. Didn't really answer the question, but Kerry didn't follow up.

Presidential style? "I believe very much in taking advice...evidence based policy. What works?" So will take advice from cabinet and elsewhere.

And that is it. Hate to admit it, but I got really bored and kinda spaced out. Probably cause his voice remains so calm and he doesn't get rattled. Unlike other people who get all snarky!

Caroline Overington Rings VTAY

About a week ago I wrote a post about L'Affaire Overington in which, entirely as ridicule, I said:

That was written after Overington scrawled a column saying Ecuyer planned to direct preferences away from Newhouse, who it seems she's been sharpening an axe for. Apparently the two of them [Newhouse and Ecuyer] went out for a few weeks, it didn't work out, and now she's back to boil his pets and derail his political career, er, run as an independent. Anyway, here's the money email.

"Too early! My girl, you've got four weeks!!
Please preference Malcolm. It would be such a good front page
story. Also, he'd be a loss to the parliament and George - forgive
me - would be no gain. ;)
— Email from Caroline Overington to Danielle Ecuyer"

How did she manage to type that with the Member for Wentworth's member in her mouth?

I thought it was pretty funny, because clearly I am a very funny man. All twelve of my readers agree with me. It would appear my attempts at humour have fallen flat in the offices of The Australian, hereafter referred to as the Government Gazette. Caroline Overington emailed us today asking to talk with us. She was cagey about what she wanted to discuss, insisting on a phone call. We agreed, reluctantly, because we wanted to find out what it was about. What could we have written on our tiny, barely-read blog to prompt a call out of the blue from a senior writer and columnist with The Australian? A two-time winner of the Walkley Award for investigative journalism (2004 and 2006) and recipient of the Sir Keith Murdoch Award for Excellence in Journalism, for a series of articles on the Iraq wheat sales scandal (excellent work, credit where it's due!).

Well, to summarise our conversation: She demanded we remove the statement. First it was because her kids might see it. I replied that we were nowhere near the top 5 pages on a google search. Then it was because she was a married woman and the statement implied she was having an affair with a government member, which just couldn't stand. I defy anyone to look at the context of the statement and come to a conclusion that I was even implying that an affair was going on between them. Of course, she made the statement, not I. Also I note that in her emails to George Newhouse she stated that she was separated. "Not married, me. Separated five months ago."

She repeatedly brought up the marriage thing. She threatened legal action. I replied that I thought we'd be safe for reasons of absurdity of the statement, satire, and comment, otherwise we wouldn't have stand up comics. She claimed such defences wouldn't extend to our 'political' blogs. I asked her whether she'd like to legitimise a non existent implication by dragging us to court. She wouldn't answer, or state that she was in fact going to take legal action. She then implied that Malcolm Turnbull wouldn't be able to let the non-existent implication stand, suggesting he might sue us. I didn't enquire as to whether she had consulted Mr Turnbull or if it was just another click of the ratchet in her attempt to heavy us. Prior to accepting Ms Overington's call google analytics revealed someone had gotten to the post in question via the keywords "Caroline Overington husband" That generated only two hits. In the end I refused to remove the text she requested.

1) There was no implication the two of them were in a sexual relationship. The context of the statement was of her extraordinary attempts (bending over backwards, if you will) to be of service to Mr Turnbull. I did not speculate as to any relationship between them nor did I imply there was one. That she continually brought this up mystifies me.

2) The statement is patently absurd to a reasonable person and was made in a satirical context. There is no way anyone could think I was implying Ms Overington had a sexual relationship with Mr Turnbull. If I said John Howard was 20 feet tall, farts mustard gas and eats Chinese immigrant babies would I be liable to be sued?

3) I believe in free speech. If this is an issue of Ms Overington defending her reputation, why doesn't she go after the people who claim she's biased in her columns? We are defending our right to make fun of her. Certainly, if we're going to start loading the torpedo tubes, we should mention email threats to ruin Mr Newhouse's reputation. Something about houses, glass and stones in there. Also why is Ms Overington allowed to violate the spirit, if not the letter, of the electoral act and defend herself by claiming it's all a joke? Why don't we get similar consideration?

4) This is my latest bank statement.

Ms Overington can lawyer up and come get it if she wants. Perhaps she can split it with Mr Turnbull. I won't give up my $43 without a fight. Or my 71 cents.

It goes back to what I said about Australian media personalities constantly trying to insert themselves into their stories. If Ms Overington hadn't been engaged in doing just that she wouldn't be stuck trying to defend her hard earned reputation. It is simply beyond belief that a professional journalist would contact people like us and use legal threats (whose lawyers will she use, News Ltd's or her own?) to shut us up. Not only that but that she would allege that the law makes no exception for satire or comment in Australia. Watch out Crikey, you'll be out of business before long. I also find it odd that a journalist would be so ignorant of the Streisand effect. You know those thrillers where a guy's walking down the street and someone gives him something out of the blue and all of a sudden everyone's trying to kill him and he thinks he doesn't know anything but it turns out he does? I feel like I'm in one.

Vaile's search for a scapegoat

Update: Mark Vaile has been nominated for the Dead Parrots Society Hall of Fame.

Mark Vaile has been the weakest link in the Coalition team this year. Doesn't seem to have recovered from the AWB scandal. This is despite giving up the Trade portfolio so that he could nurse the Nationals at home. Babysitting Barnaby Joyce seems to have been a full time job as we have seen this week with Joyce's support of Labor's proposed IR changes. Too busy to keep any sort of profile as Deputy Prime Minister. I bet a poll of electors would find they think Costello holds that job.

Anyway, he's worked out what the problem is, why they're losing the campaign:

Federal Nationals leader Mark Vaile says he would have liked the business community to have done more to support the Coalition's industrial relations laws during the election campaign. Business didn't back WorkChoices enough: Vaile (ABC News, 21 November 2007)

I'm sure Howard would have liked Mark Vaile to have done more all round. More of the blame game next week if the polls are to be believed.

Original Post at: Labor View from Broome