Election diary 2010 — Week Four

Electorate letters

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Today was my day – one of the two or three days in the electoral cycle on which I make my feelings known to my candidates. I wrote letters to the Greens, Labor and Liberal candidates. Without going into details I suggested that, all partisan rhetoric aside, general economic and national security policies were so similar between the parties there was no need to discuss these, and that I was looking for individual views on general principles and specific stances on social policy issues. I wonder whether I will get responses that aren’t form letters cut and pasted from policy bumph.

The very nature and form of response itself might indicate who is the most hungry for my vote, if not also who is the most deserving. Wouldn’t it be a sad indictment of them all if I got what I fully expect: the brush-off by overworked and disinterested staffers.

Labor’s three-ring circus?

The Sydney Morning Herald this morning suggested that the spectacle of having three Labor figureheads (a former leader, a former PM, and the incumbent PM) intersecting each others’ orbits in Queensland today was tantamount to the Labor campaign becoming a circus.

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Re-evaluating the NBN

internet-on-desk

There should be serious concerns about Labor proposals for a national broadband infrastructure project.

When the Rudd Labor Government first released its National Broadband Network policy my initial response was to favour the notion of seeing the whole nation wired up for lightning fast internet access, but as time wore on I grew uneasy when I started to contemplate the range of things that could and would go wrong as part of any government intervention into the market.

The Coalition’s ‘me too’ internet policy, released in the rarefied election climate, the ever widening sope of the market intervention taking shape, plus fear of a backdoor implementation of the Rudd/Conroy censorship agenda, forced me to look again more carefully at Labor’s National Broadband Network (NBN) policy.

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Election diary 2010 — Week Three

Opportunities go begging

Saturday, 31 July 2010

The morning’s headlines about a Nielsen poll that puts the Coalition ahead on a two-party preferred basis, and Abbott still trailing but closing the gap as preferred leader, should be no cause for jubilation.

Unlike some other observers of politics, I don’t discount polling numbers, particularly not if they come from a credible source, but I recognise them to be what they are: ephemeral snapshots of a point in time that has come and gone.

I am bound to note, however, that my gratuitous advice to Abbott of 22 July contained some pointers that did indeed appear to make a difference in the numbers game. I can’t lay claim to credit for this outcome because if I could see the opportunity so could others far more motivated to do something about it.

Taking stock …

Heading into week three of the phoney election campaign, still two weeks out from the official formality, I would be tempted to discount any talk of a Coalition ascendancy, unless Abbott can maintain a momentum of revelations about less than creditable performances by Rudd (yes, he is and must remain a principal focus) and Gillard.

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The burqa is confronting, but must not be banned

The artificial nature of the burqa debate notwithstanding, there appears to be no end of illogical argument about the issue, coming both from the proponents of outlawing the garment, and the defenders of the freedom to choose it as every-day attire.

I declare right now my close affinity with the latter position, but not without, I think, deeply offending the sensibilities of many of its proponents.

I call the debate in Australia artificial because it is my observation that it was manufactured by bored journalists attempting to bait one or another of our under-exercised politicians into making an injudicious comment about the proposition that some people might be ‘confronted’ by the sight of someone covered from head to foot in black or blue cloth. The underlying assumption, the bait in this trap, that agreeing with that proposition is inherently wrong, is exactly what is so dispiriting about the ploy.

What sort of a fool would argue against the observation that it is confronting? In Western culture a clear line of sight to the face is taken for granted [1] as a subconscious adjunct to personal communication, as a means of gauging mood, intent, sincerity and attention.

The absence of clues about a person’s focus or intentions is regarded as discourteous, sinister and suspicious. Anyone who wishes to argue that this is religious discrimination rather than reflexive behaviour based on survival instincts should dress up that way and approach a dog, a cat or their next door neighbour and take note of the reactions they get.

Continue reading “The burqa is confronting, but must not be banned”

The burqa is confronting, but must not be banned

The artificial nature of the burqa debate notwithstanding, there appears to be no end of illogical argument about the issue, coming both from the proponents of outlawing the garment, and the defenders of the freedom to choose it as every-day attire.

I declare right now my close affinity with the latter position, but not without, I think, deeply offending the sensibilities of many of its proponents.

I call the debate in Australia artificial because it is my observation that it was manufactured by bored journalists attempting to bait one or another of our under-exercised politicians into making an injudicious comment about the proposition that some people might be ‘confronted’ by the sight of someone covered from head to foot in black or blue cloth. The underlying assumption, the bait in this trap, that agreeing with that proposition is inherently wrong, is exactly what is so dispiriting about the ploy.

What sort of a fool would argue against the observation that it is confronting? In Western culture a clear line of sight to the face is taken for granted [1] as a subconscious adjunct to personal communication, as a means of gauging mood, intent, sincerity and attention.

The absence of clues about a person’s focus or intentions is regarded as discourteous, sinister and suspicious. Anyone who wishes to argue that this is religious discrimination rather than reflexive behaviour based on survival instincts should dress up that way and approach a dog, a cat or their next door neighbour and take note of the reactions they get.

Continue reading “The burqa is confronting, but must not be banned”

Election Diary 2010 — Week Two

The great not-debate: is it all over for Abbott?

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Without any real momentum or spark in evidence, Tony Abbott is beginning to look like losing by default, rather than Gillard winning by better campaigning. But on to the main story for the day.

I confess! I didn’t watch the leadership debate tonight. Shoot me now, but the snatches of it that I actually caught in passing were so drearily boring I’d prefer the firing squad.

At one stage a twitter message flashed up on screen suggesting something like: ‘This isn’t a debate, it’s a glorified press conference. Why has the Press Club been allowed to hijack the event?’ Indeed.

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Pearson: invoking Hobbes and Smith to drive indigenous policy

noel-pearson-popart

Amid the limpid hubris of a despicably lame election campaign some remarkable observations about the relevance of classical liberalism and Adam Smith passed virtually unnoticed.

These observations were a signal condemnation of centre-left political totemism about indigenous policy, and a call to recognise the primacy of the individual, individual action and individual property ownership as a necessary first step in overcoming Aboriginal immiseration in Australia.

I continue to stand in awe of Pearson, whose unassuming manner, softly spoken earnestness and power of insightful reasoning more closely resembles the ideal of statesmanship than any other Australian public figure of this century that I can think of.

Speaking at the CIS Consilium (a forum of the conservative Centre for Independent Studies think tank) earlier this month, Pearson’s argument was sharp in its condemnation of bleeding hearted pseudo-socialists:

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Election Diary 2010 – Week One

First-timers disenfranchised

Saturday, 17 July 2010

The decision to call for an election on a Saturday would be otherwise unremarkable had it not meant that new voter registrations close at 20:00 on the following Monday, almost certainly disenfranchising a swathe of first-time voters.

One must assume that the ALP party machine was aware of the consequences of its timing for calling the election, and therefore doesn’t care about these votes, or has reason to fear them. In either case, that can’t be a good sign for Gillard because that constituency is likely to share a mind-set with a larger group of already registered voters.

One might be tempted to draw the conclusion that Gillard’s centerpiece education reforms aren’t really that popular with its intended consumers – students. One might also infer that ALP strategists have decided that the election will not be fought and won education policies; a reasonable assumption, I would think.

These matters notwithstanding, the timing of an election so soon after a leadership change was probably smart. Gillard hasn’t yet had time to make mistakes in her own right as leader of the party, enjoys a substantial honeymoon boost in the ratings, and is likely to slip in popularity the longer she waits if there aren’t any major new initiatives she can deliver prior to and separate from election pork barreling.

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Tony Abbott on welfare traps

Given I know relatively little about Tony Abbott, my thinking about him has been shaped largely by his less than temperate right wing rhetoric, as featured gleefully as a sort of insider joke about ‘palaeo’ conservatives in the nation’s news media from time to time.

Imagine my surprise when he made some eminently sensible comments on the futility of punishing welfare recipients who also work a few hours (a speech Abbott gave to the Young Liberals Annual Conference on 11 January in Adelaide).

He points out that tax and reduced welfare payments for people who work only a few hours produce effective tax rates of almost 70 per cent. He acknowledges that this situation encourages people to conclude that they would be better off not working at all. This is a simple truism that appears to have escaped welfare policy-makers for some time.

Moreover, the welfare system has been fashioned into a monstrous bureaucracy that appears to be concerned with dehumanising its clientele, rather than helping them to find work. This is an issue on which Tony Abbott is remarkably silent. It may be that a deliberate policy has been implemented to make dealing with welfare agencies so unpleasant that its clients will seek any means to avoid such contact. If that is the case, it does not appear to be working, and may actually be counterproductive in that it further strips away self-respect, confidence and motivation.

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Politics: 2013 Contents

Rudd will lose election

17 August 2013: Failure to lead, offer alternative.

Sartorial case notes

9 July 2013: Newman’s clown wardrobe says it all.

Beware Calvinist barbarians

6 May 2013: Abetz’s dark, recidivist vision.

Judging Thatcher’s legacy

14 April 2013: Mercy for the dead, unholy remains for the living.

Howard’s Iraq apostasy

11 April 2013: Historical revisionism from the would-be cricket captain.

The Murdoch doctrine: hail the ruinous orthodoxy

8 April 2013: A merciless, immoral vision for ‘free markets’.

In god we trust …

17 March 2013: Has Western politics destroyed the rule of law?

Abbott missing in (in)action

6 March 2013: What exactly does the Prime Minister presumptive stand for?

Summers should get head out of arse on misogyny

3 March 2013: The PM is not being victimised because he’s a woman.

Xenophon affair shows failure of foreign policy

21 February 2013: Time to stop playing at UN bigshot and plug holes closer to home.

Open Letter to Jack Waterford

4 February 2013: Canberra Times editor’s callousness reflects his city’s inhumanity.

Bien pensantism: pretentious political ignorance

2 February 2013: Ignorance is what it is no matter how well-meant.

Election 2013 Notebook: February

2 February 2013: Canberra shenannigans.

Spurious math: 480,000 bribes elect next Federal Government

31 January 2013: Speculating about Queensland marginal electorates.

Swan’s Australia Day message for generations gone by

28 January 2013: Treasurer’s reactionary imperial cricket fantasy.

Election 2013 Notebook: January

27 January 2013: Canberra shenannigans.

Katters never change their spots

26 January 2013: Bob Katter and party won’t go away anytime soon.

Gillard can’t really lose on Peris

22 January 2013: PM’s interference in pre-selection not a blunder.

Roxon’s rocks in the head on discrimination

16 January 2013: Attorney General’s Bill is unconscionable.

Roxon’s politically correct witch-hunting season

10 January 2013: The Scarlet Letter turned into a Bill.