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This website is in imminent danger of being shut down. It has been online since 1995, but the personal circumstances of the owner, Malcolm Farnsworth, are such that economies have to be made. Server costs and suchlike have become prohibitive. At the urging of people online, I have agreed to see if Patreon provides a solution. More information is available at the Patreon website. If you are able to contribute even $1.00/month to keep the site running, please click the Patreon button below.


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Bob Brown Resigns; Christine Milne New Greens Leader

Senator Bob Brown has resigned as leader of the Australian Greens.

Brown’s surprise decision was announced at a party meeting in Canberra. Senator Christine Milne was immediately elected as the new leader.

Later in the day, Melbourne MP Adam Bandt was elected deputy leader.

Brown said he would leave the Senate later in the year when the Tasmanian Greens division has finalised pre-selections. [Read more…]


House of Representatives Debates Gay Marriage Resolution

An impressive debate began in the House of Representatives tonight on a motion by the Greens member, Adam Bandt, calling on parliamentarians to gauge their constituents’ views on the issue of marriage equality.

Bandt’s motion reads:

That this House:

(1) notes there is:

(a) a growing list of countries that allow same-sex couples to marry including the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, SPain, Canada and South Africa; and

(b) widespread support for equal marriage in the Australian community; and

(2) calls on all parliamentarians to gauge their constituents’ views on the issue of marriage equality.

Speaking to the motion, Bandt said, “there have been many attempts through history to limit love and all have failed”. The text of his speech is at the end of this page. [Read more…]


Giving Substance To The Words

There are thirty-two new members of the 43rd Parliament, elected on August 21st. Three of them are returning after a voluntary or enforced absence. As a group, they constitute one-fifth of the House of Representatives, a significant turnover and renewal of the lower house. Many of them will be there for years to come.

Maiden SpeechesOver the past month, I have made a point of watching the maiden, or first, speeches of these members. On the whole, it is difficult not to be impressed by these fledgling parliamentarians.

There has been much comment on the moving speech from the Western Australian Liberal, Ken Wyatt, the first indigenous member of the House, but others also delivered considered and thoughtful speeches.

Take Andrew Leigh, the member for Fraser in the ACT. His reputation as an economist and thinker preceded his election. In his speech, he spoke of the importance of education for the nation’s future, of “optimistic experimentation” and of rebuilding “a sense of trust between citizens and politicians”. Leigh’s book, “Disconnected”, has just been published. [Read more…]


Melbourne: Two Kinds Of Politics

It’s Saturday afternoon and I’m standing in front of Melbourne’s State Library. A large crowd has gathered for the Equal Love rally in support of gay marriage.

It’s a motley crowd. Many carry placards, one of which reads, “I can’t believe we’re still protesting this shit”. Others demand amendment of the Marriage Act. There are calls for equal rights and many challenges to the conventional definition of “family”.

My interest is to see how the election candidates fare. In a week’s time, the electorate of Melbourne will have a new member in the House of Representatives. This Federation seat, established in 1901 and represented by the ALP since 1904, may be about to reject the Labor candidate in favour of the Greens. [Read more…]


Day 27: What Are They Thinking?

Day 27 of my election campaign began with a hair-cut.

The salon I visit lies close to the boundary between the safe Liberal electorate of Goldstein and the safe Labor electorate of Hotham. The local members, Andrew Robb and Simon Crean, are leading lights in their respective parties and one or other man will be a senior minister after the election.

Paul, my hairdresser, tells me interest in the election has tailed off in the past couple of weeks. The political talk around the time Gillard deposed Rudd has been replaced by other concerns.

A lot of people are annoyed with both sides, Paul says. Some are saying they won’t vote or will vote informal. I tell him the electoral statistics show that most of these people won’t do what they say they will. Nevertheless, he says they’re disillusioned with what’s on offer.

“It’s as if two apprentices are after a craftsman’s job,” is Paul’s interpretation of the mood. [Read more…]


Day 5: In The Arena

As I prepare to leave home to drive to Boronia, the Labor leaning northern part of the marginal electorate of La Trobe, in Melbourne’s south-east, Julia Gillard is speaking to nurses in Sydney. Without warning, Sky News switches to a Brisbane school where Kevin Rudd is surrounded by cameras and engaged in a detailed conversation with the Principal about the stimulus spending which has delivered a new assembly hall.

Rudd’s return excites the commentators but it seems a long way from the concerns of people at The Alchester Village, a nondescript shopping centre which derives its name from the junction of Albert and Colchester Roads in Boronia Heights, nestled at the foothills of the Dandenongs. Internal political party rivalries rate poorly here against the concerns of local traders, small business and suburban home-owners. [Read more…]