Archives for January 2006

President Bush’s 2006 State of the Union Address

President Bush has delivered the annual State of the Union Address to a joint session of Congress in Washington DC. Less ambitious in scope than in previous years, reflecting his loss of political capital, Bush stuck fast to his foreign policy goals and proposed limited domestic policies.

The speech began with a tribute to Coretta Scott King, widow of the slain Martin Luther King. Mrs. King died today.

In the speech, Bush reiterated his commitment to US intervention in Iraq. He called for the Congress to renew the Patriot Act. Domestically, Bush called for the Congress to make permanent tax cuts and set out a plan to cut the US oil imports from the Middle East by 75% by 2025. He proposed a range of research initiatives into alternative fuel sources, such as ethanol. [Read more…]


John Howard’s Australia Day Address to the National Press Club

Australia Day embodies a “profound truth and a simple irony”, according to the Prime Minister, John Howard.

John HowardAccording to Howard, “the truth is that people come to this country because they want to be Australians. The irony is that no institution or code lays down a test of Australianness. Such is the nature of our free society.”

Addressing the National Press Club in the Great Hall of Canberra’s Parliament House, Howard fielded many questions about yesterday’s reshuffle and the position of the National Party, but his speech focussed on what he said was “the secret of Australia’s greatness – our sense of balance”. [Read more…]


Howard Ministry; Nelson To Defence; Nats Lose; Turnbull Tapped

The Prime Minister, John Howard, has announced changes to his ministry, moving Brendan Nelson from Education to Defence and promoting the Minister for Ageing, Julie Bishop, into Cabinet as Education Minister. The PM has also promoted Mal Brough from Assistant Treasurer into Cabinet to replace Kay Patterson as Minister for a revamped Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs portfolio.

The National Party’s De-Anne Kelly has been dropped from the Ministry and becomes a Parliamentary Secretary, as a result of yesterday’s defection of Nationals Senator Julian McGauran to the Liberal Party. In a move that will cause further angst for the junior coalition partner, the Nationals lose a place in the ministry but gain an additional Parliamentary Secretary’s position. Nationals leader and Deputy Prime Minister Mark Vaile remains Minister for Trade.

Other major positions in the government remain unchanged, with Peter Costello (Treasurer), Alexander Downer (Foreign Affairs), Tony Abbott (Health), Nick Minchin (Finance), Philip Ruddock (Attorney-General) and Kevin Andrews (Workplace Relations) all unchanged.

Senator Amanda Vanstone has had her wings clipped. She retains Immigration but loses Indigenous Affairs which goes to Mal Brough’s expanded Families portfolio. [Read more…]


Details of Howard Government’s Ministerial Changes

Changes to the Howard Government’s ministerial arrangements were announced today. They follow the departures over the past week of Senators Hill, Patterson and McDonald.

The changes were announced by the Prime Minister, John Howard, at a press conference in Canberra this afternoon.

The changes see the National Party lose one ministerial position as a result of yesterday’s defection of Senator Julian McGauran to the Liberal Party. [Read more…]


Tony Blair Praises Geoff Gallop

Tony Blair, Prime Minister of Great BritainThe British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has praised the retiring Premier of Western Australia, Geoff Gallop, as “one of the outstanding politicians of our generation”.

Blair’s comments came as the Labor caucus in Western Australia endorsed Alan Carpenter unopposed as their new leader. Carpenter will be sworn in tomorrow as Premier.

Speaking at his monthly press conference at 10 Downing Street, Blair was asked:

The Western Australian Premier, Geoff Gallop, recently resigned, he is an old friend of yours from your university days. He resigned because of depression. What were your thoughts when you heard about him stepping down because of mental illness?

Blair responded:

Well obviously as you probably know I have spoken to Geoff several times in the past 10 days or so. Geoff Gallpp was in my view one of the outstanding politicians of our generation, an absolutely brilliant man, a fantastic person as well, and as people in Western Australia will know, a person of tremendous warmth, integrity and achievement in western Australia. And so obviously I was really sorry that he took that decision but I know he did it in the best interests of the state and his own family and his own health. And I have no doubt at all he will bounce back very quickly because he is a quite exceptional person.

Blair and Gallop were both at Oxford University in the early 1970s. Gallop was a Rhodes Scholar.


Hill Confirms Resignation; UN Diplomatic Appointment Expected Soon

The Minister for Defence, Senator Robert Hill, has this morning confirmed his resignation as a minister in the Howard government. Hill indicated he would also resign from the Senate in the coming months. He denied being offered the post of ambassador to the United Nations but indicated he would be willing to continue in public service.

Senator Robert Hill, outgoing Minister for DefenceHill is also the government leader in the Senate. His resignation sets the scene for a major ministerial reshuffle. The Prime Minister, John Howard, is to address the National Press Club next Wednesday, January 25th, by which time the reshuffle is expected to be announced.

Hill’s position in the ministry paves the way for the promotion of either Victorian backbencher Andrew Robb or NSW backbencher Malcolm Turnbull. Media reports in recent days suggest that Senator Nick Minchin, the Finance Minister, will assume Hill’s leadership position in the Senate and possibly take on Defence. [Read more…]


Resignation Statement by Senator Robert Hill

Senator Robert Hill, the Minister for Defence, announced his resignation today.

Hill is expected to take up the position of Australian Ambassador to the United Nations. [Read more…]