NEWS AND VIEWS
The game of politics
Advice worth taking
12 May 2009 - Every now and again as a political journalist you come across a column by a colleague that you wish you had had the wit to write. It happened to me this morning and the author whose words I covet is not one I always find myself in agreement with. Gerard Henderson, writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, makes the case for the Opposition abstaining on legislation it disagrees with rather than voting against it. He argues:
It is advice the Opposition Leader would do well to keep in mind as he ponders his reaction to tonight's budget.
Presenting the government wish list
11 May 2009 - At the risk of being too repetitious, let me point out again that the Labor Government is not really in a position to govern. Tomorrow night Treasurer Wayne Swan simply will outline plans for action. The decisions as to what ends up in this year's Federal Budget were not made in the secrecy of the Labor Cabinet room. Cabinet just makes the recommendations that the Treasurer announces. The decisions will be made in the coming weeks within the offices of non-Labor Senators.
A standard reminder
Wednesday, 13 August 2008 - This is a government which cannot actually govern. What it lacks is the numbers. That is something we should all keep in mind every time we hear a Labor Party Minister promise to do something. The harsh reality of the tyranny of the minority has been brought home again with the announcement by Senators Nick Xenophon and Steve Fielding that they will not be voting for the much promised FuelWatch scheme. more
Old media dethroned
Monday, 11 August 2008 - That's what Los Angeles Post columnist Tim Rutten called his piece on Saturday which looked at the role bloggers and online commentators played in eventually making the sexual activities of Democratic Party presidential candidate John Edwards into a story of national prominence. more
But not in Australia
Monday, 11 August 2008 - Things are clearly a little different in Australia when it comes to reporting on the love life of politicians. more
Keeping off the tele
Thursday, 7 August 2008 - Sometimes you can just have too much of a good politician and the way Kevin Rudd kept bobbing up on the television newscasts last night that time is surely coming for our Prime Minister. Story after story seemed to have a 20 second clip with a comment from Mr Rudd and I don't think I'm different to most viewers in saying that this morning I can't recall one thing he actually said. Over exposure starts affecting people like that as the Barack Obama team are recognizing in the United States. more
An uneasy feeling
Monday, 4 August 2008 - Pictures of politicians hob-nobbing with the rich and famous have always left me feeling uncomfortable. There was always the suspicion that Bob Hawke hanging out with Bondy was not so much about an Australian sporting triumph but a way for a businessman with problems to stave off the bankers. The financiers certainly thought long and hard before pulling the financial plug on a man the PM wanted to reward with an America's Cup holiday. A dinner suited Hawke happily laughing away with Kerry Packer at a fund raising function was surely fodder for any conspiracy theorist wondering how decisions about television are made. Some people might have feared that Paul Keating and the property developer Warren Anderson even talked about more than antique clocks. It was memories like these that came flooding back last night when I saw Prime Minister Kevin Rudd striding along with his new business buddy Andrew Forrest as they set out to solve the problem of Aboriginal unemployment. The PM's old business buddy Rod Eddington has not been forgotten in this latest government-business partnership which surely has the most noble of intentions. It is just that the image of the country's richest man and the country's leader working so closely together makes registering lobbyists seeking access to the decision makers seem somehow irrelevant.
Send for the sound man
Monday, 4 August 2008 - I still believe that one of the reasons John Hewson lost that unlosable election to Paul Keating all those years ago was the outdoor rallies the Liberals held in the closing week of the campaign. They made for shocking television not so much because of the pictures of an outdoor crowd which included some angry demonstrators but the shockingly distorted sound of a politician shouting that accompanied them. The sound system was Hewson's real enemy not his inability to explain the GST on a birthday cake. How much better the technology has got in the 15 years since then! The public rallies being conducted by Barack Obama do not require the Democratic Party candidate to even raise his voice to be heard by a quarter of a million people in Berlin. Television and radio are provided with a voice feed without feedback that enables him to sound as calm and authoritative aw he would in the confines of a television studio. Our political parties should send a technician off immediately to work out how to do the same.
And difficulties at home too
Wednesday, 25 June 2008 - The Coalition Liberal and National Parties clearly missed out during last year's election campaign on a potentially vote winning scare campaign. The evidence of recent weeks suggests that then Prime Minister John Howard could have had considerable success claiming that Labor was the party of high petrol prices. Instead, influenced by his Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull who wanted to appear green enough to appeal to the inner city trendies in his own electorate, the Government chose to go along with Labor's claim that reducing greenhouse gas emissions by all possible means was necessary. more
Aren't we clever fellows
Tuesday, 27 May 2008 - I can just picture the team of Rudd advisers chuckling as they came up with their alternative to Liberal Leader Brendan Nelson's five cents a litre reduction in petrol excise. Accuse the Opposition of fiscal irresponsibility for blowing out the federal budget deficit and then offer our own reduction in the petrol price by abolishing the goods and services tax on the excise component of the price. more
The gravy train keeps rolling
Tuesday, 27 May 2008 - If basic law and order is not to be a state government responsibility, then what is? A rather basic question you might think but it ignores that wonderful thing called the vote. Federal politicians are happy for their state colleagues to get the anger of the people who do not feel safe but they also love being good fellows at election time. Hence the Rudd Government's Safer Suburbs Plan which allows lots of Labor MPs to make lots of little grants to people they are trying to woo. more
How to keep a promise
Tuesday, 27 May 2008 - Oh what a wonderful web, as they say. The Labor weavers have come up with a pain free way of honouring an election promise to put 500 more federal police on duty over five years. There will be, explained Commissioner Bill Keelty, before the Senate Estimates committee yesterday, 30 new recruits this year, 30 next year, 40 the year after - which takes us to the next planned election with 100 extra in total - and then, hey presto, as if by magic there will be 200 new police in each of years four and five. What a truly beautiful work of deception but there will be no point, I guess, in calling in the fraud squad.
A senior qualification
Monday, 26 May 2008 - Labor's Wayne Swan has added "seniors" to the list of qualifications that now accompany "working families." more
A slight change of emphasis
Friday, 23 May 2008 - I notice a slight change of emphasis in the way that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd uses what is fast becoming that rather hackneyed phrase "working families." We are now quite often getting a comma and a qualification after its use as in this example from a speech yesterday: "But we do want to build a strong economy that delivers for working families, working Australians , and those that are doing it tough - In other words, an economy that extends opportunity to all Australians." more
Problems with the net
Thursday, 15 May 2008 - Liberal politicians seem to be having more than their fair share of troubles with the internet. In Victoria Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu has been dealing with dissident Liberal Party staffers posting critical comments about him on a blog. Now the West Australian Opposition Leader Troy Buswell finds himself fending off an allegation which appeared on a blog back in January that he played football with a cuddly quokka. This internet scuttlebutt is getting as ridiculous as the weekly women's magazines!
Plenty of working families
Wednesday, 14 May 2008 - One thing Federal Parliament was not short of yesterday was references to working families. more
The power of Sky
Wednesday, 16 April 2008 - There's no doubt that Australians will learn more from watching and listening to Government Ministers answer questions at a community Cabinet meeting than they ever will from a telecast of question time in the House of Representatives. Last night Sky News showed again that it is on the way to becoming a competent and serious provider of news when it showed in full the meeting at Jamison High School in Penrith where there were serious attempts to answer questions from some in the audience of 500. more
Let the paying of the bribes begin
Tuesday, 15 April 2008 - When politicians wander around the country on election campaigns they like to have some goodies they can hand out to the voters to show what influential and nice people they are. This largesse at taxpayers' is dressed up with a grand title designed to make the little bribes a little more respectable and hence the Safer Suburbs Plan of the Labor Party. more
The power of an email reminder
Tuesday, 8 April 2008 -Goodness knows how these chain emails start but they can be a powerful weapon in political campaigning. This one I received from a friend yesterday has probably reminded millions of people by now of the kind of people President Clinton and her first man would be back in the White House.
Limits to Cynical Spinning
Wednesday, 2 April 2008 - Surely there are some limits to political spinning, even in New South Wales ? The latest attempt by Premier Morris Iemma to divert attention from a crumbling transport system and decaying hospitals reaches new heights of cynicism. more
Populism reaches new absurdity
Tuesday, 1 April 2008 - The populism of this Labor Government has no bounds. While pretending to be fiscally responsible it is now about to waste millions on an inquiry that can prove nothing. more
A record number of working families
Tuesday, 18 March 2008 - They set a new record in the House of Representatives yesterday. There were 57 uses of "working families". more
|© Richard Farmer 2008|