When Is A Shift Not A Shift?

A frontpage report in the Financial Review this morning invited readers to believe that union support for Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s leadership was “shifting”.

A closer read showed that a meeting at the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) on Tuesday discussed the Labor leadership but the union leaders remained supportive of Gillard, although conscious that “time is running out”.

Union and political figures have been at pains during the day to dispute the accuracy of the report. They have adamantly denied suggestions of a “shift”.

Perhaps the most reliable take-out from the Financial Review report is the claim that union leaders were concerned about the advent of an Abbott government. Their attitude to the leadership is reflected in their desire to avoid an early election that could result from any attempt to remove Gillard.

Media critics have been quick to jump on the report as further evidence of the media’s preoccupation with leadership at the expense of policy. Others see it as evidence of a shift to the right under the Financial Review’s new editor, Michael Stutchbury.

However, it seems clear that another decision on the Labor leadership is likely over the next few months. What isn’t clear is whether the obstacles to a Rudd revival can be overcome. Moreover, it isn’t clear whether the party has the capacity to change leaders without destroying the government and precipitating an election. [Read more...]


Tony Abbott’s Foreign Policy Speech To The Heritage Foundation

This is the text of Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s speech to the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC.

Abbott attracted criticism from Prime Minister Julia Gillard over his criticism of cuts in defence spending.

Tony Abbott

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Julia Gillard

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Text of Tony Abbott’s speech to the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC.

It was the US Information Agency that organised my first trip to America as a member of parliament. I’d just been elected as a Liberal Party MP and had previously been one of the leading opponents of Australia becoming a republic.

Something happened in translation, though, because my US hosts had been told that I was very liberal and strongly anti-republican so I spent most of my fortnight in America being introduced to virtual communists.

Perhaps this was an illustration of the capacity of government agencies to get things wrong, in this country as well as in my own.

In any event, it’s good, finally, to find myself amongst like-minded Americans.

As our former prime minister, John Howard, often pointed out, the Liberal Party is the custodian in Australia of both the classical liberal and the conservative tradition.

The Heritage Foundation’s support for free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional values and strong national defence; and its mission to promote freedom, opportunity, prosperity, and civil society closely correspond with the objectives of my own party.

The quest for freedom is the defining characteristic of the story of England but it has arguably been taken to a new pitch on this side of the Atlantic.

In a few pithy lines, Tennyson encapsulated the marriage of liberalism and conservatism in our tradition when he spoke of: “a land of just and old renown where freedom broadens slowly down from precedent to precedent”.

This is the heritage of the Magna Carta, the Provisions of Oxford, and the Glorious Revolution which the minutemen asserted against King George and which this Foundation celebrates. [Read more...]


Sharon Grierson Announces Retirement As Member For Newcastle

Sharon Grierson, the Labor member for Newcastle in the House of Representatives, has announced that she will not contest the next election.

The former teacher and school principal has held the New South Wales electorate for four elections since 2001.

She is the second Labor member of the House to reveal retirement plans ahead of an election the ALP is expected to lose in a landslide. Steve Gibbons, the member for Bendigo since 1998, announced his departure in August last year.

Grierson polled 47.89% of the primary vote in 2010. After preferences, she was elected with 62.49% of the two-party-preferred vote, a swing against her of 3.42% from the 2007 election.

Newcastle has been held exclusively by the ALP since 1901. Grierson is only the fifth member to hold the seat.

Grierson made a video statement on her retirement:

 


“Not A Brand, A Cause” – Gillard Speech To NSW ALP Conference

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has addressed the NSW ALP State Conference, declaring the ALP is a cause, not a brand.

Julia Gillard

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Text of Julia Gillard’s speech to the NSW ALP State Conference.

Delegates, our party members are our greatest resource.

So after the last Federal election, I had no doubt at all – we had to reform our Party for our members.

When we met here last July, you were ready for renewal, ready to rebuild.

At our National Conference last year we made important progress by embracing a new recruiting target and making the big decision to trial community primaries.

Many of you were there, and you know: we had to overcome opposition and it was far from easy.

But we achieved real change. [Read more...]


Horror Movie: Craig Emerson Sings ‘Whyalla Wipeout’

On the second day of the carbon tax, Trade Minister Craig Emerson has delivered an extraordinary performance during an interview on ABC television.

To the tune of the Skyhooks song “Horror Movie”, Emerson sang a ditty he called “Whyalla Wipeout”, a song intended to satirise the Opposition’s scare campaign against carbon pricing.

Emerson came to his television interview with recorded music backing apparently operated by his press secretary.


Campbell Newman Addresses Queensland In Televised Message

The Queensland Premier, Campbell Newman, has made a televised address about the state of the budget.

His remarks follow the release of the Commission of Audit Interim Report, prepared by former Federal Treasurer, Peter Costello.

Text of remarks by Queensland Premier Campbell Newman.


The Case For Carbon Pricing – Treasurer’s Economic Note

Every Sunday, Treasurer Wayne Swan publishes an Economic Note dealing with issues of the day.

Today’s Note deals with the carbon pricing scheme that begins operation next weekend. It’s a well-argued piece that highlights the abject political failure of the government to prosecute its case with the electorate.

By all accounts, former prime minister Kevin Rudd was prevailed upon by Swan and Julia Gillard to drop the Emissions Trading Scheme in 2010. Since then, Gillard’s unconvincing meanderings on the issue, of which the alleged carbon tax ‘lie’ is just one element, have seen the government’s credibility on climate change issues destroyed.

Despite attempts to blame Opposition Leader Abbott and the media, the failure is a political one by a government that lacks the personnel with the political skills to build community support for its programs.

Treasurer’s economic note

I’ve always believed that markets offer the most effective way to create prosperity across the economy. Individuals and businesses make their own decisions about what to buy and what to sell, how much to spend and how much to invest, and where their time, energy and money is directed. This is the best way to encourage investment, drive growth and generate jobs. But of course markets are far from perfect. They don’t always work as they should. That’s why we need laws and regulations to try to make markets work for everybody. One example is pollution. At the moment, big polluters in Australia can release as much carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere as they want. They don’t pay a cent. The real cost of this pollution is borne by all of society. And ultimately – without necessary action – it will be a cost paid by our children, grandchildren and future generations. [Read more...]