Shorten cannot win against Turnbull

How lack of political talent and the rise of hand-held online chatter levelled Australian politics, and exposes the Labor fraud under Shorten of presenting itself as a desirable alternative to the Coalition.

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Vertigo and nausea in Canberra

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Whether Malcolm Turnbull will be a better Prime Minister for Australia than the outgoing Tony Abbott is highly questionable, given the constraints of Byzantine Coalition infighting and allegiances tied to murky patronage. But he is the worst sort of news for Bill Shorten’s Australian Labor Party.

Right now there is no one who more closely resembles Abbott in style and popularity than Shorten. The latter is secure only because he’s irrelevant; the Australian public is not focused on a potentially better leader of an opposition that is little more than a cut-rate Liberal party these days.

Why and how did Abbott become arguably Australia’s most despised and unpopular PM?

Within his own party he had long been known as an ‘attack dog’, apparently savouring his reputation as a rabid beast, and ruling his party like it was a street gang in which the most psychotic streetfighter is always the leader.

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Right self destructs in Queensland election

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The election outcome is not yet entirely certain, and much less certain even than it seemed last night, but it is clear the LNP was rejected in a historic reversal of fortunes after just three years.

What went wrong?

While I’d like to propose my own reasons for wanting to see the back of the Newman Queensland Government as the principal points of failure, that would be inaccurate. What brought the LNP undone was Clive Palmer. A feud to the right of the Labor Party.

All those who predicted that the Liberal National Party (LNP) would be returned with a slim margin were right when you look at historical trends and numbers. Precedent suggests that no party routed as decisively as the Australian Labor Party (ALP) was in 2012 could make it back in just one term.

But that’s if you only look at the numbers, and the substance of politics is assumed not to matter because it is assumed to be anodyne.

This has not been the case in recent years.

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Credlin’s healthcare malice will backfire

Peta Credlin

The Abbott Government’s decision to persist with its doctrinaire efforts to privatise Australia’s public healthcare system is driven by malice and will cost the Coalition heavily.

First, the idea that you can make a bitter pill taste better by adding creosote to the coating is almost incomprehensibly obtuse. How will reducing a $7 surcharge on consultations with doctors to $5 address the basis of opposition to eliminating a public health system?

Second, the proposition that doctors will have the choice of taking a pay cut or ending bulk billing will not fool anyone into believing they have a choice about being strong-armed by a racketeering government.

Third, the decision to persist with this nonsense by adding the spin about doctor choice is malice, pure and simple. Retribution against doctors for not supporting the government’s initial privatisation-by-stealth agenda.

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Credlin’s healthcare malice will backfire

Peta Credlin

The Abbott Government’s decision to persist with its doctrinaire efforts to privatise Australia’s public healthcare system is driven by malice and will cost the Coalition heavily.

First, the idea that you can make a bitter pill taste better by adding creosote to the coating is almost incomprehensibly obtuse. How will reducing a $7 surcharge on consultations with doctors to $5 address the basis of opposition to eliminating a public health system?

Second, the proposition that doctors will have the choice of taking a pay cut or ending bulk billing will not fool anyone into believing they have a choice about being strong-armed by a racketeering government.

Third, the decision to persist with this nonsense by adding the spin about doctor choice is malice, pure and simple. Retribution against doctors for not supporting the government’s initial privatisation-by-stealth agenda.

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Obama ‘insults’ sting only the feckless

Looking back on US President Barack Obama’s two critiques of Australian policy during the G20 meeting in Brisbane, Australians are entitled to be a little ashamed.

An embarrassing kind of shame, like having to witness the expected but unbearably childish bickering between members of the extended family coming together for an unavoidably obligatory Christmas lunch.

This is not an embarrassment about the specifics of Obama’s rebukes, but of being so easily exposed to the world as inadequate, yet obdurately fustian.

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Abbott missing in (in)action

Gerard Henderson’s column in yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald is a rambling smorgasbord of non-specific, left-field comments that never quite addressed his opening gambit:

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What’s missing from much media analysis is an assessment of what Tony Abbott and the Coalition may be doing to win over swinging voters in marginal seats in western Sydney and elsewhere.

Do tell! Unfortunately Henderson’s clues are pretty slim, consisting of vague suggestions about: relying on self-inflicted damage to the Labor brand; some nonsense about Barry O’Farrell confounding his critics; the 2010 election result being a sign of Abbott’s success despite it not being that; Coalition-hating pinkos in Melbourne and Sydney; anti-Catholicism emanating from Black Inc, publisher of The Monthly and Quarterly Essay; the somewhat superfluous assertion that Abbott is not a fan of pornography; and snobbery about real estate on Sydney’s North Shore.

In short, Henderson doing his best imitation of a slightly senile, geriatric ramble, with not much content about what Abbott is doing at all.

Henderson is right about one thing only. There’s far too much comment in the news media about all the different ways that Gillard is stupid and a sure-fire loser, and not nearly enough about what Abbott and the Coalition are doing to make themselves a credible alternative to a Gillard or Rudd Labor government.

Is there any reason to suppose that Abbott is doing anything at all but hiding behind the shabby political furniture of unchanged Howard era policies? Perhaps Australian voters should just exercise a blind faith in the man for being such a good Catholic, ‘n all? That’s asking a lot. It’s asking voters to be credulous fools after being led down the same faerie garden path for five years. It’s asking voters to believe in substance not on display and ‘alternative’ policies not spelt out anywhere.

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Election 2013 Notebook: January

Tony-Abbott

27 January 2013

Abbott courts Westies

Coalition leader Tony Abbott’s (Lib, Warringah, NSW) contrived mini campaign launch in western Sydney’s Auburn was a pretty transparent grab at legitimacy for his party in marginal electorates with large ethnic minorities.

The Coalition has traditionally been easy to paint as anti-migrant and anti-special interests while Labor attempted to claim a monopoly on a demonstrably failed social justice agenda we still pay lip service to as Multiculturalism, which has actually served more to ghettoise ethnic minorities than to integrate them.

The proof of that pudding for realpolitik might well be some damning recent findings about a rise in firearm offences, driven by young men of ethnic descent, precisely in Sydney’s western suburbs.[1]  Picking Auburn as the campaign venue was probably not entirely coincidental, given that it has the highest drive-by shooting rate in the city.[2]

Labor’s other claim to a social justice monopoly is its increasingly farcical anti-discrimination agenda, which attempts to impose a kind of sterile political correctness about ethnicity and gender that is lampooned even by Australia’s ethnic TV network, SBS, in comedy shows like Housos, The Wog Boy, and Fat Pizza [edit: and which wrongfooted the Prime Minister’s own consort in an embarrassing display of its overreaching ambit to create a politically correct culture of victimhood and paranoia (see below)].

Labor should have seen Abbott’s opportunism in his native Sydney coming from a long way off.  In fact, it might be said Abbott really had no choice but to exploit Labor’s pathetic ideological weakness and policy vacuum in this area.  The man who might have staved this off, Bob Carr, is too busy being courted by African nations since becoming a supremo of the UN Security Council, and just a little bit more concerned with the lofty affairs of the world than parochial politics in Australia, let alone his own native Sydney.  A telling reflection of the ALP’s lack of focus on NSW, which could turn into a decisive electoral weakness.

However, that’s where the good news for Abbott ends.

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Abbott’s smoking gun anti-liberalism

The recent passage of the plain packaging for tobacco legislation through the lower house of the Australian Parliament, and the sanctimonious comments issuing from bloggers, news commentators and health fascists everywhere, prompted me to write about my biggest disappointment arising from this legislation – the betrayal of individual liberty and classical liberal principles that are embodied by this move. Put another way, it’s about my disappointment with how exigent politics defeats principled policy-making every time.

Let’s be certain about this: I am a smoker, and have been for years. As a smoker I understand that tobacco consumption poses significant health risks, just as I know that drinking alcohol poses significant health risks, and driving a car, eating too much fattening food, robbing a bank at gunpoint, crossing the street innocently, etc.

As a consumer of a product that is legal, however, I expect not to be treated as a social leper, sinner or other kind of undesirable critter by the state. This is different from accepting a degree of opprobrium extended by private individuals, and even restrictions on when and where I can use the product (as is the case with, say, alcohol, gasoline, matches, mobile phones, etc).

When the state moves to impose on me a requirement that I be unable to access product information on the packaging of that product, replacing the manufacturer’s intentions with state propaganda messages – and that is really what is being proposed – I am concerned enough to voice dissent.

First, let’s be absolutely clear: this is not a move to ‘plain packaging’. It is direct censorship and intervention in free market exchanges. No other product with potentially harmful side-effects has to carry this kind of state mandated propaganda, otherwise we’d have cars carrying large and graphic images of mutilated car crash victims, aircraft depicting charred bodies, alcohol containers plastered with photos of women beaten senseless by violently drunk men, etc. We do not do this because we still accept that these products are legal, and the risks associated with their use are part of the conditions of their use. Smoking, however, has taken on a different category. I see this new category being largely the invention of overly zealous ‘health fascists’, who have assumed the right to interfere in the lives of others on a number of grounds, not least of which is the right of the state to mandate a degree of ‘healthy’ living.

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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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