Archive for February, 2015

Farewelling Mr Spock today and Tony Abbott on Tuesday?

February 28th, 2015 Comments off


That’s how 7News saw things this morning. It pretty much sums up the attitude of most of the media. Notable exceptions were the two biggest selling Murdoch tabloids and the ABC.

The socialist leaning ABC? Yes the ABC website preferred Mr Spock and a Russian murder. For the PM it was a straight report on meetings in New Zealand.

The Melbourne Herald Sunalso  was very low key on page seven while the Sydney Tele relegated its coverage to page nine with:


Up in Brisbane The Courier Mail brought out the egg eater to whip the leadership speculation along.

courier mail (1)Laurie Oakes had his column elevated to page one, where soe people might actually notice it, rather than being hidden in the boring opinion pages as in the other tabloids. Laurie’s message?

Uncertainty about whether a leadership coup would help or hurt the NSW Coalition could be a key factor if Abbott earns another reprieve.

That is all it would be. The last couple of weeks have provided strong evidence for those believing Abbott cannot change his style. The constant flow of damaging leaks and leadership gossip have left no doubt that efforts to undermine him will continue and promises of time to turn things around were hollow.

The Fairfax tabloids went searching desperately for a different leadership angle.

the age (1)smh

Not much in the story that I could see.

The main story in the Oz was a balanced attempt to look forward.


TONY Abbott will seek backbench approval for a recovery plan for his government, including a likely move within days to dump the Medicare co-payment, as he stares down attempts to panic Liberal MPs into another leadership showdown.

The Prime Minister’s fightback strategy will be to refocus the budget, cement his national security credentials and show he is listening to the concerns of the Liberal partyroom.

Conscious of consulting his colleagues, Mr Abbott wants to discuss options with MPs before any decisions are finalised, but he is considering making a health policy statement to quell concerns about the future of Medicare. He also plans to take announcements on a further troop commitment in Iraq to the partyroom.

Paul Kelly was looking forward in another direction.

THE terrible risk for the Liberals is that they destroy Tony Abbott as PM yet undermine Malcolm Turnbull as the next PM. The media frenzy of the past 36 hours, based on aggressive briefings, shows this danger.

At The Guardian they could barely contain their excitement.

guardianAnd The Saturday Paper was not going to be out done in the sacking stakes.

saturday paper


Tony Abbott’s personal intervention with Indonesian President fails?

February 28th, 2015 Comments off



This morning’s Jakarta Post holds out little hope that the death sentences on Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan will be commuted.

George Brandis: nothing else to say about the man really

February 27th, 2015 Comments off


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Backing Malcolm Turnbull

February 26th, 2015 Comments off

For Tony Abbott it’s just going from bad to worse. I cannot see how he will keep his Liberal Party leadership.
I’m suggesting what for me is a major investment. 200 at the currently available $1,46 that Malcolm Turnbull will be Liberal leader at the next federal election.

See The Speculator’s Diary

Here is the latest Owl indicator.

liberal leader indicaior

Categories: Betting, Political indicators Tags:

The new besties – Malcolm Turnbull and Paul Keating

February 26th, 2015 Comments off

If you thought Malcolm Turnbull sounded a lot like Paul Keating when he appeared on Q&A recently then you may well be right. I’m told by what I’ll call “a normally reliable and well informed Sydney friend” that the pair have developed a close friendship. They are regularly, I am told, in each others company as the Liberal leadership pretender gets a tip or two on playing politics from the former Labor prime minister.

That someone astute is helping Malcolm Turnbull steer through the difficulties of building his credentials without openly challenging Tony Abbott is apparent. And wasn’t this comment on Q&A pure Keating?

“I think firstly you have to set out a vision… describe where you want to go. What’s this all about? What is your goal? You’ve got to explain that. Then you’ve got to explain honestly, not dumbing it down… the problems that we face. What is the problem with the budget? What is the problem with the NBN… Explain it and lay it out factually and then lay out what the options are,” he said.

“I think the government and opposition should be prepared to put their cards on the table and actually have a debate… You never know, out of that debate you might come up with a third solution that is better than either of those.”

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The Twee Tribe and other news and views

February 25th, 2015 Comments off

the twee tribe

  • From The Times Literary Supplement -Consider the following phenomena: owl-shaped cushions, bird-print textiles and kitten ephemera. French horns, ukuleles and accordions. Grown women with wispy fringes who dress like little girls, grannies or Jean Seberg, and young men who sport excessively neat haircuts, horn-rimmed glasses and waistcoats. Cotton candy, gluten-free acai berry cupcakes and quinoa fritters with probiotic goat yoghurt. Anything that is locally sourced, vintage or artisanal. Cream-coloured retro bikes with wicker baskets and 1950s sun dresses in ice-cream shades. Polka dots and cocktails in jam glasses. The comic strip Peanuts, J. D. Salinger and Maurice Sendak. The Smiths and Belle and Sebastian. Taxidermy, stamp collecting and home baking. The films of Wes Anderson. What do they all share? According to Marc Spitz, they are emblems of “Twee” – “the most powerful youth movement since Punk and Hip-Hop”.
  • Basic personality changes linked to unemployment, study finds – Unemployment can change peoples’ core personalities, making some less conscientious, agreeable and open, which may make it difficult for them to find new jobs.
  • Knowledge Isn’t Power by Paul Krugman – … while the education/inequality story may once have seemed plausible, it hasn’t tracked reality for a long time. “The wages of the highest-skilled and highest-paid individuals have continued to increase steadily,” the Hamilton Project says. Actually, the inflation-adjusted earnings of highly educated Americans have gone nowhere since the late 1990s. So what is really going on? Corporate profits have soared as a share of national income, but there is no sign of a rise in the rate of return on investment. How is that possible? Well, it’s what you would expect if rising profits reflect monopoly power rather than returns to capital. As for wages and salaries, never mind college degrees — all the big gains are going to a tiny group of individuals holding strategic positions in corporate suites or astride the crossroads of finance. Rising inequality isn’t about who has the knowledge; it’s about who has the power.
  • Marijuana Is Now Legal In Alaska, The 3rd U.S. State With Legal Pot
  • A Threat to Europe: The Islamic State’s Dangerous Gains in Libya
  • Australia’s Champagne Cambodia Deal To Dump Refugees Is Turning Sour – Scott Morrison sealed a deal to dump refugees in Cambodia with a glass of champagne. But the deal is in trouble, writes Carla Silbert. … With Australia agreeing to bear the cost of resettling refugees from Nauru at the same time as Cambodia is publicly asserting it has no intention of respecting refugee rights, Australia must move to terminate the resettlement agreement.
  • Predictive Intelligence – Think Hillary Clinton is likely to win? Think again.
  • On the origins of dishonesty: From parents to children – Dishonesty is a pervasive and costly phenomenon. This column reports the results of a lab experiment in which parents had an opportunity to behave dishonestly. Parents cheated the most when the prize was for their child and their child was not present. Parents cheated little when their child was present, but were more likely to cheat in front of sons than in front of daughters. The latter finding may help to explain why women attach greater importance to moral norms and are more honest.
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Clipping the hidden fees of the ticket clippers

February 24th, 2015 Comments off

Reuters reports that President Barack Obama is proposing new rules to protect Americans from being steered into costly retirement investments that produce high commissions for brokers but low returns for investors preparing for retirement.

The proposed rules, which the Department of Labor is expected to submit formally in the coming months, will inject political pressure into an already intense debate over brokers’ obligations.

They would have an impact on thousands of brokerages, from large players such as Fidelity, Wells Fargo , Charles Schwab  and Raymond James, to smaller, independent shops.

Brokers would be held to a higher “fiduciary standard,” requiring them to put their clients’ financial interests ahead of their own.

The White House said the proposals target fees and payments that on average lead to a full percentage point lower annual return on retirement savings at a cost to Americans of $17 billion a year.

In particular, Obama called for new rules preventing retirement brokers from steering clients’ savings into funds with higher fees and lower returns, or advising clients to roll their funds over into higher-cost plans.


Categories: Ticket clippers Tags:

Indonesia’s President: Fan Of Megadeth, Defender Of Death Penalty

February 24th, 2015 Comments off

joko widodo

  • Indonesia’s President: Fan Of Megadeth, Defender Of Death Penalty – Indonesian President Joko Widodo took office a little more than 100 days ago, buoyed by sky-high expectations for political change. He’s seen as very different from the strongmen and power brokers who have dominated the country for decades. And he’s certainly unconventional. He’s an avid fan of heavy metal groups like Metallica and Megadeth. He’s been photographed wearing black Napalm Death T-shirts and flashing the “devil’s horns” hand sign. But some of his supporters are dismayed by the unexpectedly strong stance he has taken in favor of the death penalty. Last month, Indonesia executed six convicted drug traffickers — five of them foreigners — by firing squad. Two Australians and a British grandmother are among the foreigners still on Indonesia’s death row. So far, Jokowi, as he’s known in Indonesia, has refused all appeals for clemency.
  • NSW Labor has to go Green or go home
  • Oscars Get Political, As Acceptance Speeches Wade Into Social Issues
  • If Your Teacher Likes You, You Might Get A Better Grade – A newly published paper suggests that personality similarity affects teachers’ estimation of student achievement. That is, how much you are like your teacher contributes to his or her feelings about you — and your abilities.
  • Why Some States Want To Legalize Raw Milk Sales – The federal government banned the sale of raw milk across state lines nearly three decades ago because it poses a threat to public health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association all strongly advise people not to drink it.But individual states still control raw milk sales within their borders. And despite the health warnings, some Midwestern states have recently proposed legalizing raw milk sales to impose strict regulations on the risky — and growing — market. Raw milk has become popular in recent years as part of the local food movement: An estimated 3 percent of the population drinks at least one glass a week. Many of its fans are fiercely passionate about what they see as its benefits. They say they buy raw milk because it doesn’t contain the growth hormone rGBH, they like the taste, and they enjoy having a direct connection to the food they eat.
  • Hillary Clinton’s grandmother gambit – “Grandmothers know best.” Hillary Clinton attached that line as a hashtag to a tweet about the importance of measles vaccinations earlier this month. Given that Mrs Clinton’s tweets are read like messages from the Delphic oracle, it hasrekindled speculation that the former secretary of state will be leaning on her new grandmatronly status in her all-but-announced upcoming presidential campaign.
  • WHO urges shift to single-use smart syringes – Smart syringes that break after one use should be used for injections by 2020, the World Health Organization has announced. Reusing syringes leads to more than two million people being infected with diseases including HIV and hepatitis each year. The new needles are more expensive, but the WHO says the switch would be cheaper than treating the diseases. More than 16 billion injections are administered annually. Normal syringes can be used again and again. But the smart ones prevent the plunger being pulled back after an injection or retract the needle so it cannot be used again.

Tony Abbott signs the execution papers?

February 24th, 2015 Comments off

Perhaps in diplomacy words can be bullets. This morning’s Jakarta Post commentary:


[Note – Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has also said that execution would have negative repercussions.]

The risk of Tony Abbott carrying the can if Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran do face the firing squad increases.

See also Blaming Tony Abbott – Indonesia plays the game and Jakarta Post reports: TNI to safeguard prison island as Jokowi firm on execution policy

A Liberal betraying the standards of the party and the conservative conventions of those that voted for him

February 23rd, 2015 Comments off

A kind reader – it was nice to find I had one – sent me an interesting paper that gives a bit of context to that “kind of love” reference in my piece earlier this week Jim and Junie’s kind of love and a lasting relevance for Tom Uren’s words? The paper ‘A KIND OF LOVE’: Supergirls, Scapegoatsand Sexual Liberation, written in 2011 by Kate Laing, referred to an interview Jim Cairns gave to a journalist from the late and great Sydney Sun about his relationship with Junie Morosi:

We know we’re being watched all the time. I don’t give a damn what people say. I have stuck by Junie all the way and I intend to keep doing this… I have not changed my opinion about Junie since the day a few months ago when somebody asked me if I was in love with her. I said then it had nothing to do with the love he was talking about. Love is a word that has many meanings. I said- but I was incorrectly quoted- that love ranged from the kind of thing I might have for the Vietnamese people to the kind of thing his boss had for money. I would like to add though, that in her capacity as my private secretary, Junie must command my respect and trust. Surely you can’t trust somebody in this world unless you feel something akin to a kind of love for them. [Emphasis added]*

*As a historical footnote I should add that in those days in the long ago 1970s politicians did not have chiefs of staff, with the private secretary being the key gate keeper in a minister’s office.

But of more interesting to me in the Laing paper than the main event of Cairns and Morosi were the references to an earlier example of controversy about a senior politician having a key female adviser.

Prior to this scandal, there had been another example that indicated the interest and intrigue in women in the political landscape: Ainsley Gotto was a young girl hired to be the private secretary to Prime Minister John Gorton.
Gotto was used as a scapegoat for an unpopular Prime Minister and the outrage was centred on his lack of judgment in employing her and listening to her advice. The headlines read, ‘PM listened to girl more than to his cabinet’ and ‘Ainsley Gotto (‘it’s shapely… it wiggles’) tells her own story’. They focused on her youth and beauty, implying the reason for her appointment was her sexual attraction rather than her professional experience. When Gotto flew with the Prime Minister to the US on Air Force One for meetings with the President of the US, the reporting seemed almost spiteful, as though she was simply a girl sitting ‘close to the policy makers, the architects of world power, the men whose figures loom larger than life, who with the stroke of a pen can change a nations history’. The reports despised her for thinking she was worthy to be in their presence because of her age and inexperience. …

These two cases have often been compared when talking about the media treatment of women in the workplace and in government employment because of their proximity to each other, the Gotto affair occurring in 1969 and the Morosi affair happening in 1974. Similarly, journalist Alan Reid was highly critical of PM John Gorton and used the Gotto situation as a way of turning public opinion against him, outlining that Gotto was only 22 years old and unmarried, therefore could never be taken seriously, nor could a Prime Minister relying on her advice. …

To compare this scandal once again to the scandal of John Gorton and his secretary Ainsley Gotto which occurred in 1969, this point identifies a fundamental difference. John Gorton and Ainsley Gotto were conservatives of the Liberal party, a party known to be fierce advocates for the nuclear family and the role of the woman as bearer of children and domestic ruler of the home.135 The 1969 scandal was a sensation because by employing the young woman on his staff and listening to advice from the ‘girl’ rather than from his ministers, Gorton was betraying the standards of the party and the conservative conventions of those that voted for him.


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A real Sydney Telegraph exclusive – political correspondent abolishes Tasmania’s upper house

February 23rd, 2015 Comments off

Reporting on an opinion poll giving the public view of the New South Wales upper house:clennell1clennell2

From the website of the Tasmanian Parliament:

The Legislative Council of Tasmania

A Message from the President of the Legislative Council,

The Honourable James Scott Wilkinson, MLC.

The Legislative Council, which is the Upper House in the Tasmanian Parliament, is a unique parliamentary institution.

Established in 1825 as the original legislative body in Tasmania (then Van Diemen’s Land) it is the only House of Parliament in the Commonwealth, and probably in the world, that has never been controlled by any government or any political party. It has always had a majority of independent members making it a truly genuine House of Review.

The Legislative Council has extensive constitutional powers, but Members are conscious of their powers and responsibilities and make their decisions accordingly.

The independent nature of the House makes for meaningful debate of the issues without the rivalry and regimentation which is involved in the process in Houses of Parliament dominated by political parties.

Blaming Tony Abbott – Indonesia plays the game

February 23rd, 2015 Comments off

If Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran finally are executed, expect Tony Abbott to be cast in the role of villain.

The reaction in Indonesia to our Prime Minister’s argument in favour of having the two drug dealers spared is getting stronger. From page one of the Jakarta Post this morning:

coin for abbott

People in Aceh are collecting spare change for Tony Abbot following the Australian prime minister’s recent comments about a lack of Indonesian gratitude as it readies to execute two Australian drug traffickers.

Organizers said that the money collected would be given to the Australian government to “repay” an estimated A$1 billion worth of aid given to Indonesia after the 2004 Aceh tsunami.

Among initiators of the coin drive are the I Love Aceh community and the Association of Indonesian Muslim University Students (KAMMI), which has set up special posts for people to participate in the drive.

“We are ready to collect coins to be handed over to the Australian government,” chairman of KAMMI’s Banda Aceh post, Martunus, said.

“We call on the Indonesian government to not be afraid of threats or other forms of intervention in connection to the upcoming executions,” he said, calling Abbot’s statement hurtful.

Stories like that are sure to influence the blame game in Australia should the executions take place. Tony Abbott will be accused of sabotaging the diplomatic amnesty attempts.

Punting on the Oscars – it’s Birdman for me

February 22nd, 2015 Comments off

I’m reverting to my normal practice of assuming that the punters don’t get the favourite in short enough when betting on elections. Hence 100 on Birdman at $1.70 to be best picture at the Oscars.

At least it makes watching more interesting.

My record on election betting isn’t bad either. See The Political Speculator’ Diary

Here’s the Owl’s Election Indicator:

best picture indicator

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Jim and Junie’s kind of love and a lasting relevance for Tom Uren’s words?

February 22nd, 2015 Comments off

I am thankful to Gerard Henderson for including this item in his always entertainingly readable Media Watch Dog.

22-02-2015 nancy archive

(You can read the rest of the item HERE)

It brought back such marvellous memories of the Whitlam era and what was described at the time as “a kind of love”. There were pictures like this one:

22-02-2015 junieandjim

And this one.

22-02-2015 barechestedjim

And somehow, when I see a picture like this one, I can’t stop thinking about those words of Tom.

22-02-2015 abbottandcredlin

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Pernicious inflation and an imploding Europe – a few things for Joe to think about

February 22nd, 2015 Comments off

22-02-2015 consumerprices

  • Feeling down – Deflation can be a good thing. But today’s version is pernicious – “Deflation poses several risks, some well-understood, one not. … The least-understood danger is also the most serious, because it is already here. Deflation makes it harder to loosen monetary policy. … Policymakers should be more worried than they appear to be, and their actions to avert deflation should be bolder. Governments need to boost demand by spending more on infrastructure; central banks should err on the side of looseness.”
  • An orderly Greek exit is the only option for Europe – “The euro will eventually break up. But, before it does, we’ll see a lot more democratic transgressions as big countries, aided by the Brussels machine, impose their will on smaller neighbours.’If we aim deliberately at impoverishment, vengeance, I dare predict … will not limp,’ Keynes wrote in 1919. ‘But who can say how much is endurable, or in what direction men will seek at last to escape from their misfortunes?’ I’m not predicting war in Western Europe. But I am saying the eurozone will generate ever-rising tensions and spiralling financial instability until it finally implodes or is deliberately dismantled.
  • The hideous dialectic of Isis savagery – “The methods of the jihadi blackshirts are chillingly savage. But Isis is chillingly smart too.”
  • Facing Up to the Democratic Recession  – Democracy has been in a global recession for most of the last decade, and there is a growing danger that the recession could deepen and tip over into something much worse. Many more democracies could fail, not only in poor countries of marginal strategic significance, but also in big swing states such as Indonesia and Ukraine (again). There is little external recognition yet of the grim state of democracy in Turkey, and there is no guarantee that democracy will return any time soon to Thailand or Bangladesh. Apathy and inertia in Europe and the United States could significantly lower the barriers to new democratic reversals and to authoritarian entrenchments in many more states.”
  • Why Do Many Reasonable People Doubt Science? “We live in an age when all manner of scientific knowledge—from climate change to vaccinations—faces furious opposition. “Some even have doubts about the moon landing.”
  • The Great Jewish Exodus – “Israel is indeed the home of every Jew, and that is important, a guarantee of sorts. It is equally important, however, that not every Jew choose this home. That is another kind of guarantee, of Europe’s liberal order, of the liberal idea itself.”

22-02-2015 shape

Jakarta Post reports: TNI to safeguard prison island as Jokowi firm on execution policy

February 21st, 2015 Comments off

There’s no sign in this morning’s report by the Jakarta Post that the Indonesian president intends to change his mind on the death penalty for convicted drug criminals.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo made it clear on Friday that the postponed executions of 11 death row convicts, including two Australians, was simply the result of technical problems in the field and it had no relation at all to Australia’s pressure on Indonesia to drop the decision.

“No, there were no such issues. It is within our legal sovereignty [to execute the convicts],” Jokowi said at the Bogor Palace. “I believe the delay is due to technical issues; just ask the attorney general [about the details].”

The President then asked Vice President Jusuf Kalla to brief reporters about his telephone conversation with Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on Thursday, in which the Australian diplomat clarified the statement from Prime Minister Tony Abbott that was perceived as offensive to Indonesia. The Prime Minister said Australia would feel “grievously let down” if the executions proceeded despite the A$1 billion that was given in aid after the 2004 tsunami devastated Aceh and Nias in North Sumatra.

Kalla, who previously denied speculations that the postponement of the executions was based on pressure from Abbott, said Bishop phoned him on Thursday to clarify Abbott’s statement.

“Yesterday [Thursday], Foreign Minister Bishop explained, and certainly regretted, the misunderstanding,” Kalla said.

According to the Vice President, Bishop also said that Abbott merely tried to emphasize the long history of good relations between the two countries, including the period in which Aceh was devastated by a tsunami.

Quoting the Australian diplomat, Kalla said Australia wanted to continue cooperating with Indonesia in a variety of areas, including the fight against drug abuse and trafficking.

Attorney General M. Prasetyo, whose office is responsible for carrying out the execution, reiterated that the government decided to delay the executions from the original date earlier this month simply for technical reasons.

He also warned Australia not to intervene in Indonesia’s domestic affairs. “We never put pressure on others; we hope they also do not put pressure on us,” said the attorney general.

Meanwhile, Indonesian Military (TNI) Chief Gen. Moeldoko supported the President’s decision saying that he was ready to deploy military personnel to secure the execution site from any threats.

Moeldoko said that he would provide any support that the government needed to complete the executions of the 11 convicts, including the two Australians that the current controversy is centered around, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

“The TNI will never be influenced by anything or by anybody. On the death penalty issue, we have a clear stance; right or wrong this is my country,” Moeldoko said.

Moeldoko said military leaders would hold a meeting with the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) and the Law and Human Rights Ministry to discuss possible threats that might emerge before and during the executions.

“We will make a detailed emergency plan to prepare for any disruptions that may interfere with the executions,” Moeldoko said.

Although Moeldoko declined to give further information on what kind of security threats might emerge as a result of the executions, he insisted that he had sufficient information from TNI intelligence reports.

“Of course we don’t want to clearly state the threats that may come from certain countries. But the TNI understands that there are possible threats. This is why we asked the head of military intelligence to attend the meeting,” he said, adding that he was ready to deploy military personnel whenever the government needed it.

For instance, the military will allocate its personnel to secure several areas in Nusakambangan prison island, Central Java, where the executions are set to take place.

“There are several empty roads on the island that need to be secured from outsiders,” the four-star general said.

death spot or tourist destination

The newspaper also carried a picture of people trying to get a boat to the scheduled location for the execution. The caption reads:

Death spot or tourist destination? Several people wait for a boat at the Wijayapura Port, Cilacap regency, Central Java, on Friday to go to the notorious Nusakambangan Island. Ever since the news that there would be a second round of executions of drug convicts was publicized, more and more people started flocking to the island every day as if it had become a tourist destination.

Categories: International politics Tags:

The leadership speculation that just won’t go away

February 20th, 2015 Comments off

The prime ministerial way with words has struck again. Tony Abbott’s linking of Australian generosity with aid to Indonesia with the scheduled execution of drug traffickers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran has placed him in dangerous political territory. If the view expressed in the media his morning that he has hindered diplomatic efforts to have the death penalty revoked catches on with the public it may well be the final straw for his leadership.

Already the media dogs are barking about another challenge. Mark Kenny was the loudest this morning with his “Leadership chatter has not stopped. It may all come to a head sooner than you think.”

But for Hockey, the primary question now must be whether he lasts long enough to deliver a second budget. He is as welded to Abbott as Abbott is to him. Liberals say they’ll go down together.

Chatter in the government shows no signs of abating and could yet manifest itself in a sudden move to replace Abbott with Malcolm Turnbull as early as the first full sitting week beginning March 2.

If that happens, the IGR [Intergenerational Report] will still be an important document because the long-term problems aren’t going away. But don’t expect to hear much about university deregulation or the toxic GP payment, no matter what Orwellian name it has acquired by then.*

[*Kenny notes in his story how the GP co-payment is now called, “somewhat comically, ‘a value signal in health’.”]

Graham Richardson in The Australian was delivering a similar warning:

For a party with a long tradition of sticking with elected prime ministers, that vote should have been the wake-up call of a lifetime for an embattled leader fast running out of friends. Whether his loss of sensory perception is in his eyes or his ears doesn’t really matter. Either way it will prove fatal.

The money is pointing in the same direction. The Owl’s market based Liberal Leadership Indicator has the probability of Malcolm Turnbull being PM at the next election increasing.

liberal leader indicator (1)

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Group decision-making exacerbates men’s tendency to lie

February 17th, 2015 Comments off
  • Honesty in groups: Gender matters – “Many nations and corporations strive to raise female membership in decision-making bodies. This column discusses new experimental evidence suggesting that there is more lying (and more extreme lying) in male groups and mixed-gender groups than in female groups. Moreover, group decision-making exacerbates men’s tendency to lie while the opposite is true for women. This suggests that the gender composition of decision-making bodies is important when the goal is to limit the scope of unethical behaviour.”

cancer drug price

  • The Rising Price of Anti-Cancer Drugs – “As the best-fit line shows, back in 1995 the new drugs were costing about $54,000 to save a year of life. By 2014, the new drugs were costing about $170,000 to save a year of life. This is an increase of roughly 10% per year.”
  • The Drug That Is Bankrupting America – “In December 2013, the Food and Drug Administration approved Sovaldi, and another formulation, Harvoni, which is sofosbuvir used in combination with another drug. Gilead set the price for a 12-week treatment course of Sovaldi at $84,000, amounting to $1,000 per pill. Gilead set the price of Harvoni at $94,000.According to researchers at Liverpool University, the actual production costs of Sovaldi for the 12-week course is in the range $68-$136. Indeed, generic sofosbuvir is currently being marketed in India at $300 per treatment course, after India refused to grant Gilead a patent for the Indian market. In other words, the U.S. price-cost markup is roughly 1,000-to-1!”
  • With Quakes Spiking, Oil Industry Is Under The Microscope In Oklahoma – “Austin Holland, the state seismologist … says that Oklahoma used to have, on average, one or two perceptible earthquakes a year. Now the state is averaging two or three a day. There were more magnitude 3 or greater tremors here last year than anywhere else in the continental United States, and the unprecedented spike in earthquakes has intensified. Holland suspects that modern oil production techniques are triggering the jump in quakes.”
  • Can de-industrialisation be reversed? – “A new study from the Brookings Institution argues that American prosperity is being driven by advanced industries. It raises the question as to whether de-industrialisation can be reversed.”
  • Tropical Pacific Ocean remains ENSO-neutral – “… all international models surveyed by the Bureau indicate tropical Pacific sea surface temperatures are likely to remain warm, but within the neutral range, until at least May. Beyond that time, outlooks favour warm-neutral or El Niño-like ocean temperatures.”
  • A Dynamic Theory of Romantic Choice – In the tradition of “The Theory of Interstellar Trade” – “I propose an answer to the question “why are all the good guys taken” through a dynamic model of romantic search. Search and matching modelsare workhorses in labor economics. I apply this framework to romance and explain why there are lots of single “boring Bernards and psycho Suzies”, as well as discuss the model’s welfare implications. The key mechanism in the model is that good couples stay together for longer. As such, even if there is a large share of good romantic partners, most single people are crazy.”
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Part timing Australia – the declining full-time jobs

February 17th, 2015 Comments off

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures suggest that Australia is becoming a part-time economy. The trend Labour Force figures for January show that a record high of 30.73% of jobs were part time. Back in February 1978 when the ABS series began the proportion was only 15.17%


Categories: What the figures show Tags:

The great cricket sham and other news and views

February 16th, 2015 Comments off

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  • Bitter Cup – Cricket’s marquee tournament is a sham – “Over time, the one-day international has gradually shed any pretense of contest—in cricketing terms, a duel between batsmen and bowlers—and recast itself as a glorified showcase of the bat-manufacturer’s craft, where second-rung players routinely found lacking in Test conditions can get away with edges and mishits. Any ball a batsman—even at his most arthritic—cannot hit with ease has been systematically outlawed (one bouncer per over by strict ration; nothing pitching outside leg stump; nothing wider than a foot of off stump, and so on).”
  • Negative rates to shake up financial system, say experts – “It has a huge impact on a lot of simple things like pension funds and insurance companies, and how their whole model works,” said Henry Cooke, executive director at Gryphon Capital Investments. “It is putting them under a lot of pressure . . . and when people are put under a lot of pressure, they take a lot more risk.”
  • Corporate bonds: Emerging bubble – Signs of distress are appearing in companies’ debt

london review of books

  • The Austerity Con by Simon Wren-Lewis – “Of course it is also the case that large sections of the print media have a political agenda. Unfortunately the remaining part, too, often seeks expertise among City economists who have a set of views and interests that do not reflect the profession as a whole. This can lead to a disconnect between macroeconomics as portrayed in the media and the macroeconomics taught in universities. In the case of UK austerity, it has allowed the media to portray the reduction of the government’s budget deficit as the overriding macroeconomic priority, when in reality that policy has done and may continue to do considerable harm.”
  • The War Next Door: Can Merkel’s Diplomacy Save Europe?
  • The World of Our Grandchildren – Noam Chomsky discusses ISIS, Israel, climate change, and the kind of world future generations may inherit.
  • Jailing People Has Little Effect on Crime Levels – At some point, the data indicates, more people in prison doesn’t translate to fewer crimes
Categories: News and views for the day Tags:

The risks of an apocalypse and other news and views for cheerful Sunday reading

February 15th, 2015 Comments off


  • Twelve ways the world could end – “What are the chances of all human life being destroyed by a supervolcano? Or taken over by robots? A new report from Oxford university assesses the risks of apocalypse.”
  • Corruption: doing the dirt – “The annual yearbook of equity returns, compiled by the London Business School, shows that the more corrupt a country is, the better the returns its equity markets offer.

inflation rates

swedish font

  • Not Too Much, Not Too Little: Sweden, In A Font – “Sweden recently commissioned a team of designers to come up with a font to represent the country on its websites, press releases, tourism brochures and more. The offices of Soderhavet look exactly the way you would expect a Scandinavian design firm to look: clean, sleek and warm, with tasteful bursts of color sprinkled among the minimalistic furniture. And the typeface that these designers created looks pretty much the way you would expect a Scandinavian typeface to look, too.”
  • Obese could lose benefits if they refuse treatment – PM – “People who cannot work because they are obese or have alcohol or drug problems could have their sickness benefits cut if they refuse treatment, the PM says. David Cameron has launched a review of the current system, which he says fails to encourage people with long-term, treatable issues to get medical help. Some 100,000 people with such conditions claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), the government says. Labour said the policy would do nothing to help people to get off benefits.
  • Tracing the rise of EU anti-establishment politics, By Professor Archie Brown, University of Oxford – “A darkening cloud looms over mainstream European politicians in the early months of 2015. It is the rise of parties and movements seen by them as either extreme or nationalist, sometimes both. That these relative newcomers have become major players in national politics is viewed not only as a dangerous departure from the natural political order but also a serious threat to the territorial integrity of the state.”
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Jeremy Paxman is my new favourite columnist

February 15th, 2015 Comments off

Staring nightly at the giggle box in Canberra not London, Jeremy Paxman’s Newsnight meant nothing to me. Now things are different. Among other things he has turned columnist for London’s Financial Times where he almost justifies on his own making that paper one of the only two I actually pay to read on the internet. Most assuredly his Saturday musings are worthy of being on everyone’s short-list of monthly freebies that apply before the FT’s $ sign goes up.

After a plug like that I hope the journal I used to write for in the days of the first iron ore boom so many years ago will forgive me for ignoring its plea not to copy its words because good journalism is expensive to give this sample from this week’s Paxman’s Diary:

salmon fishing

Categories: European media, Media Tags:

Time to change those blue ties

February 14th, 2015 Comments off

My award for the most revealing story of 2014 about Tony Abbott would go to Mark Di Stefano with his The Definitive Ranking Of Every Blue Tie Tony Abbott Wore In 2014. “Tony Abbott”, wrote Di Stefano, “has stuck to a rigid routine throughout 2014: wake up, put on a suit and saddle up with one of his many blue ties. That’s right, if you haven’t noticed Mr Abbott nearly always wears BLUE ties.”

blue ties

The insistence can be traced back to June last year when then Prime Minister Julia Gillard gave a speech about what would happen if Mr Abbott won the upcoming election:

“I invite you to imagine it, a prime minister, a man with a blue tie, who goes on holidays to be replaced by a man in a blue tie, a treasurer who delivers a budget wearing a blue tie, to be supported by a finance minister, another man in a blue tie, women once again banished from the centre of Australia’s political life.”
Since that speech, Mr Abbott has worn a blue tie virtually every single day, in what some consider epic shade being thrown to the Labor Party and Ms Gillard.

The blue tie became a symbol of the Abbott style. Blame Labor. Blame Labor. Blame Labor.

And it worked well when he was Opposition Leader but something different is called for now that Tony Abbott has become as unpopular a Prime Minister as Australia has had in recent memory.

Symbolism being an important component in image making it must be time to change tie colour to accompany a change in rhetoric from opposing to governing.

Categories: Political snippets Tags:

Trying to understand the Ruddock replacement

February 13th, 2015 Comments off

In my 50 or so years in Canberra covering politics I have never thought of a party’s whip as being a personal protector of a party leader on the British model. The whip’s duties in Canberra have always struck me as being far more mundane – ensuring that no one clocks off early and that the numbers are there when the votes are taken.

Tony Abbott, the believer in knights and dames, clearly has a different view. Sacking Philip Ruddock can only be explained by the Prime Minister believing two things. The first is that the Liberal Whip should be his personal man as in the House of Commons and the second is that he was truly surprised by the extent of the vote against him in the party room this week. Ruddock, as the Whip, has got the blame for that and paid for it.

Abbott, I expect, will pay his own price in the weeks to come. Philip Ruddock has been a loyal servant of his parliamentary party. I grudgingly admired him when, as Immigration Minister, he loyally supported the John Howard line on asylum seekers even while it destroyed his small “l” liberal reputation and caused a few tensions within his own family if I remember correctly. Whatever else he has been, Philip Ruddock has been a team player.

And his House of Representatives colleagues well know it.

They will be shocked at the way the PM has treated him today. It was the act of a bully-boy.

The consequences will be seen when the Liberal Party next considers its leadership. The likelihood of Abbott’s own sacking have just increased.

13-02-2015 liberalleader

(See the Owl’s other election indicators HERE)

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Case against Abbott Government builds at The Hague

February 13th, 2015 Comments off
  • Case against Abbott Government builds at The Hague – “The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, and human rights advocate and lawyer Greg Barns have taken the next step in their formal request for the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate crimes against asylum seekers by members of the Abbott Government.”
  • How Tony Abbott came within 11 votes of oblivion – “This is the story of a leadership spill missing brilliant strategy, cunning organisation or sophisticated internal machinations that brought a Prime Minister within 11 votes of oblivion.”
  • This time the random walk loses – “Notwithstanding the progress made in the field of exchange rate economics, we still know very little of what drives major currencies. This column argues that the best that one can do is to assume that currencies move to gradually restore (relative) purchasing power parity. Contrary to widely held beliefs, this is in general a much better strategy than to just assume that the exchange rate behaves like a random walk. “
  • Do derivatives make the world safer?

cleaner air

  • Stopping at red lights could be slowly killing you – “The average UK commuter spends about 1.5 hours a day at the wheel. While not great for stress levels in general, there are other ways that the daily churn through traffic can negatively affect health. Research by my team at the University of Surrey has shown how drivers and pedestrians are being exposed to very high levels of air pollutants at traffic lights.”
  • Justice Deferred Is Justice Denied – Review of Too Big to Jail: How Prosecutors Compromise with Corporations by Brandon L. Garrett – “At bottom, corporate fraud amounts to little more than executives lying for business purposes, and prosecution depends on proving that the lies were intentional. Are the changes forced upon companies by deferred prosecution agreements likely to materially change the decision of these individuals to lie when it suits their goals?”
  • Author Sono calls for racial segregation in op-ed piece – “A prominent Japanese author and columnist who advised the government has called for Japan to adopt a system to force immigrant workers to live in separate zones based on race. In a regular column published in the Feb. 11 edition of the conservative daily Sankei Shimbun, Ayako Sono said immigrants, especially those providing elderly care, would ease the difficulties in Japan’s nursing sector. She also said that, while it was fine for people of all races to work, do research, and socialize with each other, they should also live apart from each other. “Since learning about the situation in South Africa 20 or 30 years ago, I’ve come to think that whites, Asians, and blacks should live separately,” Sono wrote. Sono, who was appointed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to an education reform panel in 2013, cited an unspecified whites-only apartment complex in Johannesburg that black South Africans moved into after apartheid ended. She said there was a problem because black people tended to bring large families into small apartments.”
  • Labor’s first test: putting integrity before politics in Queensland

The nonsense rhetoric about debt and stealing from future generations

February 10th, 2015 Comments off

Debt Is Money We Owe To Ourselves – Paul Krugman blogs: Antonio Fatas, commenting on recent work on deleveraging or the lack thereof, emphasizes one of my favorite points: no, debt does not mean that we’re stealing from future generations. Globally, and for the most part even within countries, a rise in debt isn’t an indication that we’re living beyond our means, because as Fatas puts it, one person’s debt is another person’s asset; or as I equivalently put it, debt is money we owe to ourselves — an obviously true statement that, I have discovered, has the power to induce blinding rage in many people.

The Recent Rise and Fall of Rapid Productivity Growth – Information technology fueled a surge in U.S. productivity growth in the late 1990s and early 2000s. However, this rapid pace proved to be temporary, as productivity growth slowed before the Great Recession. Furthermore, looking through the effects of the economic downturn on productivity, the reduced pace of productivity gains has continued and suggests that average future output growth will likely be relatively slow.

On the recent US-China agreement on climate change – China and the US have recently agreed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. This column asks what quantifiable impact the new targets will have, whether they are any better than previous approaches, and if so, whether they are enough to avoid dangerous climate change. While insufficient for keeping temperature increase below the 2°C limit, the US and China’s bilateral commitments are a step in the right direction, and form the basis for a stronger international agreement in Paris later this year.

monarch butterfly

The monarch massacre: Nearly a billion butterflies have vanished – Threatened animals like elephants, porpoises and lions grab all the headlines, but what’s happening to monarch butterflies is nothing short of a massacre. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service summed it up in just one grim statistic on Monday: Since 1990, about 970 million have vanished. It happened as farmers and homeowners sprayed herbicides on milkweed plants, which serve as the butterflies’ nursery, food source and home.

Turning Carbon Dioxide Into Rock, and Burying It

Her Majesty and the Curious Mystery of the Disappearing Corgis – The Queen’s favourite dog breed is on the brink of extinction – and everyone’s looking suspiciously at Buckingham Palace. There’s only one solution: eBay.


Good government comes to Adelaide … Day 1

February 10th, 2015 Comments off

submarine plans


That’s how Adelaide’s InDaily website began its coverage of this morning’s attempt by the Coalition government to rescue Tony Abbott from his latest captain’s choice.

Before the party room vote on a split, the Prime Minister courted South Australian MPs with what one of them, Sean Edwards, described this way:

“I’m very pleased with the decision of the prime minister and when he rang me today with this very good news – it now commits the government to a full and open tender – and this should lead to hat throwing, to punching the air.”

Mr Abbott certainly did not move before the vote to qualify the interpretation that the Adelaide Advertiser put on the vote: Prime Minister Tony Abbott promises South Australia chance to tender for Future Submarines project to win leadership votes.

But clarification was clearly thought necessary now that day one of good government (or is it day two?) has come around. Defence Minister Kevin Andrew was dispatched to the headquarters of the Australian Submarine Corporation to put a little spin on things.

Which resulated in this:

In a bizarre morning media conference at Adelaide shipbuilder ASC, Andrews was flanked by a gaggle of Liberal MPs – including Sean Edwards, Andrew Southcott, Matt Williams, David Fawcett and Rowan Ramsey as well as state colleagues Steven Marshall and Dan van Holst Pellekaan – but effectively said nothing about his plans, or how they’ve changed since last week.

“We’ve decided that in relation to the future submarines program, we’ll have a competitive evaluation process,” he said.

“That will mean there’s an opportunity for anybody who can meet the requirements important to the program to have a part in that.”

But he refused to elaborate, saying: “I’m not going to get into the sorts of definitions and ‘what’s a definition’, all I’m saying as minister is this is the approach we’re taking.”

“I’m not a commentator. What I’m doing is saying to you and everyone who may be listening to me now is the process we’re going to undertake is going to be a competitive evaluation process; there are criteria which will be spelled out in more detail as we progress through them,” Andrews said.

Asked about the distinction between a tender process and an “evaluation process”, Andrews said: “I’ll use the words I choose to use – what we’re doing is a competitive evaluation process.”

Quite what means goodness knows. Probably that the next lot of submarines will be built in Japan but the government will try and find a few bits and pieces that can be built by the Adelaide lot that the predecessor of Kevin Andrews would not trust to build a canoe.

A surer way of ensuring that Christopher Pyne loses his SA seat could not be invented and I suppose that’s something.

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An election designed to be about entertainment – Oscar voting

February 10th, 2015 Comments off

And now for an election designed to be about entertainment.

10-02-2015 best movie oscar indicator

Rupert was feigning disinterest this morning but his Fox Searchlight Pictures does distribute Birdman – the favourite for Best Picture.

10-02-2015 murdochvoting

Good to see the boss man being impartial and not trying to influence the voters. Just the same as he is with those editorial writers at The Wall Street Journal.

10-02-2015 murdochinfluence

I really must apologise for the innuendo in my earlier post Echoes of his master’s voice – Credlin should go




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Echoes of his master’s voice – Credlin should go

February 10th, 2015 Comments off

28 January 2015

murdoch on credlin


10 February 2015 – The Australian editorial:

australian editorial on credlin


10 February 2015 – Melbourne Herald Sun editorial:

Herald sun on credlin

Categories: Australian media, Media Tags:

Will Abbott last the leadership distance? Probably not

February 9th, 2015 Comments off

The voting is over and the market has considered the prospects. Malcolm Turnbull is still the firm favourite to lead the Liberal Party at the next election.

liberal leader indicator

And as for who will be the government? Little change on the day.

federal indicator (1)

The lost art of rhetoric

February 9th, 2015 Comments off
Among all this sloganising, I find myself thinking back to the Greek philosopher Socrates - or at least as Plato presented him. He was about getting to the bottom of an argument. About not giving up on it. About facing his own ignorance and confronting his own prejudices. Most of all, he was about having a real conversation.

Among all this sloganising, I find myself thinking back to the Greek philosopher Socrates – or at least as Plato presented him. He was about getting to the bottom of an argument. About not giving up on it. About facing his own ignorance and confronting his own prejudices. Most of all, he was about having a real conversation.

  • Have modern politicians lost the art of rhetoric? – “When we listen to politicians, we often complain that their words don’t seem to mean anything. And that’s because they don’t … There’s a mismatch between political ideas and politicians’ words. It’s not that the poor things don’t have ideas – they’re just not usually allowed to utter them. The party machine is too risk-averse to countenance real speech. In ancient Greece and Rome, on the other hand, the art of rhetoric was at the heart of political life. Rhetoric can have a bad name, as if it means tricksy or deceptive speech. But the bottom line is it’s a skill of using reasoned argument to persuade. Recapturing some of that lost art might be a good idea, and might get us beyond pretty much indistinguishable soundbites.”
  • No one in control: The algorithms that run our lives – “Software is deciding who gets a loan, who counts as a citizen and what prices you pay online. Who will step in when the machines get out of hand?”
  • California Moves to Ban All Vaccination Exemptions
  • Putin’s Peninsula Is a Lonely Island – No tourists, frightened tatars, and Russians have taken all the jobs. Welcome to Crimea in winter.
  • Don’t forget health when you talk about human rights – “Last week, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released World Report 2015, their 25th annual global review documenting human rights practices in more than 90 countries and territories in 2014. … when one delves deeper, there is a hidden story that often does not make the headlines. That story is the health dimension of human rights. Viewed through the lens of health, the report contains several compelling and disturbing themes.
  • Keep daffodils away from food, supermarkets warned. “Supermarkets have been urged to keep daffodils away from fruit and vegetable aisles this spring – in case they are mistaken for food. In a letter to major stores, Public Health England warned the flowers could be confused with onions or Chinese vegetables, and consumption of them was an “emerging risk”. Daffodils contain toxic alkaloids that can cause severe vomiting, it said.”
Categories: News and views for the day Tags:

Will Abbott be Prime Minister at the end of next week?

February 6th, 2015 Comments off

There’s not enough data to produce one of the Owl’s election indicators on Tuesday’s Liberal party meeting but here is one guide. Sportsbet had these odds at the time of writing:

abbott as leader

Call it a toss-up.

When it comes to who will win the next federal election the market has barely moved after today’s events.

federal election indicator


Given that the opinion polls have Labor a long way in front it is reasonable to assume that many people think there could be a dramatic change – something like a change of Prime Minister – before polling day.

Abbott to go and Liberals to win

February 6th, 2015 Comments off

I am old enough to remember the jubilation in Gough Whitlam’s Labor Party the day that Billy Mackie Snedden was finally sacked as leader of the opposition after months of withering attacks by the prime minister. And I recollect believing that the euphoria caused by Gough’s “brilliance” would be temporary and disappear with that loss of Labor’s best weapon.

So if I was Bill Shorten today I would be hoping and praying that Tony Abbott survives next week’s Liberal party meeting. Malcolm Turnbull has all the credentials to do to him what Malcolm Fraser did to Gough Whitlam.

Not that I think Abbott will survive. Should he escape on Tuesday it will not be for long. He does not have what it takes to run the country and his colleagues know it. They know as well that Shorten is no world beater. With Turnbull as leader taking on Shorten they have a good chance of keeping their seat.

I will be having a modest investment on the Coalition to win the next election. (See The political speculator’s diary)



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Balanced wise words on Tony Abbott’s fate from a veteran observer

February 6th, 2015 Comments off

VIDEO: Michelle Grattan on the Liberal leadership

By Stephen Parker, University of Canberra and Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor Stephen Parker and Michelle Grattan discuss the week in politics including whether or not Prime Minister Tony Abbott should step down, how likely it is to happen and if Julie Bishop or Malcolm Turnbull would be best to take the position.

The Conversation

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

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Waiting for Newspoll to further inflame the anti-Abbott fire

February 5th, 2015 Comments off

I have no inside knowledge of any kind about what is happening within the federal Liberal Party. I look at politics from afar without speaking to any members of Parliament. My judgment is based on nothing more than a keen interest in what I read, see and hear of people who do pretend to know what is going on with all this leadership business, And my conclusion is a simple one. If Tony Abbott is correct about being supremely confident that he is not facing a challenge to his party leadership, why does he feel the need to keep asserting that confidence? It does not make sense to me.

And if there really is a threat to Abbott’s position, the next Newspoll will have a major impact on what happens. Presumably The Australian will have an update on Monday or Tuesday. Given the media coverage over the last fortnight it will be amazing if there is not a considerable drop in the Prime Minister’s personal approval rating and an improvement in Labor’s share of the two party preferred vote.

Categories: Political snippets Tags:

A leadership challenge? Buy your papers and take your choice

February 5th, 2015 Comments off
Julie Bishop insists she is not campaigning for Tony Abbott’s job, but the leadership crisis deepened yesterday when another long-time ally of the Prime Minister joined those critical of his judgment.

Julie Bishop insists she is not campaigning for Tony Abbott’s job, but the leadership crisis deepened yesterday when another long-time ally of the Prime Minister joined those critical of his judgment.

Dennis Shanahan in The Australian:

THE public momentum for a leadership challenge to Tony Abbott is losing pace but the guerilla war continues and could still force a showdown for the prime ministership in Canberra on Tuesday.

As more Liberal MPs realise the enormity of trying to remove a first-term leader in a bloody and disorganised fight without a clear replacement, enthusiasm for a spill is waning. A senior cabinet minister told The Australian last night it looked like people were pulling back “from the brink”.

Steven Scott in The Courier Mail:

MALCOLM Turnbull is firming as the man most likely to be the nation’s next prime minister – and it could happen as early as next week.

With leadership speculation consuming the federal Coalition, some MPs are now determined to resolve the issue at a meeting scheduled for next Tuesday in Canberra.

And while Cabinet ministers are publicly backing Mr Abbott, there is a growing mood in the partyroom that his hold on the nation’s top job is now tenuous.

THE crisis enveloping Tony Abbott’s leadership deepened last night when his former assistant treasurer, Arthur Sinodinos, failed to confirm that he would still be Prime Minister by this time next week. ... Coalition MPs are now consumed by the leadership uncertainty. Parliament will resume in Canberra on Monday, and it now seems almost certain that the leadership crisis will come to a head at next Tuesday’s party room meeting.

THE crisis enveloping Tony Abbott’s leadership deepened last night when his former assistant treasurer, Arthur Sinodinos, failed to confirm that he would still be Prime Minister by this time next week. … Coalition MPs are now consumed by the leadership uncertainty.
Parliament will resume in Canberra on Monday, and it now seems almost certain that the leadership crisis will come to a head at next Tuesday’s party room meeting.

Mark Kenny in The Sydney Morning Herald:

Malcolm Turnbull has denied telephoning Liberals to canvass support as former minister Arthur Sinodinos became the most senior Liberal to question the judgment of Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Senator Sinodinos, a former Abbott loyalist, described his support for the stricken leader as ‘‘ongoing’’ but ‘‘not unconditional’’.

Asked if Mr Abbott would be Prime Minister next week, Senator Sinodinos replied: ‘‘Comrade, ask me next week.’’

Liberals viewed that intervention as crucial with one calling it ‘‘extremely telling’’.

‘‘Arthur’s comment makes it much more serious,’’ said another senior Liberal. ‘‘People will now look around to see if someone is starting to count for an actual candidate.’’

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On being disloyal to the power behind the throne

February 5th, 2015 Comments off
From this morning's Sydney Daily Telegraph

From this morning’s Sydney Daily Telegraph

Once upon a time the hired help were meant to be the loyal ones.

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Write it in Textor – competence versus chaos

February 4th, 2015 Comments off

I wonder if he’s told them how well it worked in Queensland?

competence versus chaos

From a Guardian story this morning on Crosby-Textor’s influence on the Conservative Party’s election campaign

Categories: Elections, Opinion polls, UK election Tags:

Interest rate betting fun is back

February 3rd, 2015 Comments off

I must say it’s fun for those of us who like an occasional flutter on something other than sport that the Reserve Bank has returned its official interest rate setting to the agenda. This afternoon’s decision is the first for months in which there has been any value in backing your opinion.


Maybe it’s just because I want an added satisfaction should the Herald Sun’s Terry McCrann prove wrong in his prediction of a rate rise but I’m recommending a little of the $1.73 at Betfair that the bank board decides on no change. 50 units invested. See my betting blog, where I’m sweating on a Labor Party win in Queensland, for details of this and other wagers



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Measuring the success of a commentator

February 1st, 2015 Comments off

Predictions are two a penny when it comes to elections and other public affairs events but I find it concentrates the mind to put my opinions to the test, on the record. Hence my little blog The political speculator’s diary. Here was my offering just after Campbell Newman called his election.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A Queensland Opportunity and I’m risking a little on Labor

A state election on 31 January – something to put some interest into the silly season for political junkies. And, methinks, an opportunity.
I have no inside information but I am puzzled that the bookies have the Queensland LNP Government as short as they are this evening. The pollsters put it at 50:50.
I’m starting my betting with 100 units on Labor at the generally available $3.80
With hindsight it’s clear I made one mistake. I should have waited a little longer when the price about Labor blew out to $9.
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