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Archives for July 2002

General Peter Cosgrove’s Address To The National Press Club

The Chief of the Australian Defence Force, General Peter Cosgrove, has conceded that “in retrospect” Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War of the 1960s “was not going to be successful”.

Cosgrove Addressing the National Press Club in Canberra, Cosgrove said: “It was simply not going to work, and therefore with 20/20 hindsight we probably shouldn’t have gone.”

Cosgrove did not acknowledge that the war was immoral in any way, claiming simply that “at the time I’m very clear that the majority of Australians thought we should be there, and it was only as a very widespread public reaction started to persuade the government of the day that it was, and the alternative government, that we shouldn’t be there, that the mood changed.”

Cosgrove ignored the strong body of opinion, including the then Labor Opposition, that had been opposed to the war at the time Australia’s commitment was announced by the Menzies Government. He said: “The men and women who were there of course performed magnificently, and I think, felt, a little abandoned by such a sharp swing in the public opinion which was never really about them, but was about the overall political reasons why we were there in the first place.” [Read more…]

Electoral Support For Non-English Speakers And Those With Low Levels Of Literacy

An important feature of the Australian electoral system is the support provided for non-English speakers and people with low literacy levels.

A reader writes:

I have come across the argument that Australia introduced changes in its electoral system to allow people with low levels of literacy or non-English speakers to participate.

I don’t know exactly what the person was referring to, but have you come across this in any history of Australia’s voting methods?

[Read more…]

Labor Wins Landslide Victory In Tasmania; Liberals Decimated; Second Term For Jim Bacon

The Labor Party had won a landslide re-election victory in Tasmania, securing a second term and decimating the Liberal Party.

Whilst not winning any extra seats in the 25-seat House of Assembly, the ALP easily won the election with 14 seats, compared to just 7 for the Liberal Party. The Liberals lost 3 seats. The Opposition Leader, Bob Cheek, was one of the Liberal casualties, losing the Denison seat he had held since 1996.

Tasmania has 5 electorates each returning 5 members, using a system of proportional voting.

The ALP increased its primary vote by 7.09% to poll 51.88%. The Liberal Party primary vote fell by 10.67% to 27.38%.

The big winners were the Greens, whose vote increased by 7.95% to 18.13%. The Greens won an extra 3 seats and now hold 4, just one less than the number it held in 1992 and 1996. [Read more…]

Bob Cheek’s Verbal Gaffe In Tasmanian Election

As the Tasmanian State election drew to a close, the hapless Liberal leader, Bob Cheek, delivered what turned out to be a prophetic statement about Tasmania remaining with Labor.

Unfortunately for Cheek, he made his gaffe in the presence of John Howard. [Read more…]

Mark Latham Calls On ALP To Modernise; Critiques Costello

Mark Latham has called on the ALP to modernise.

Latham’s remarks came during an address to the Western Australian Fabian Society.

During his speech, Latham described Liberal Party branch meetings as ‘blue rinse bitch sessions’ and delivered a critique of Peter Costello. [Read more…]

Whitlam, Birthday Boy, Proposes Major ALP Reforms

The former Labor Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, who turns 86 today, has proposed major internal reform for the ALP, including rank-and-file election of national conference delegates.

Gough Whitlam, 86 years young todayThe man responsible for fundamental internal reform of the ALP in the 1960s and 1970s, a campaign that saw him nearly expelled from the party, says the changes are needed to overcome the “friction of the factions”.

Whitlam, whose three-year term as Prime Minister ended with a vice-regal dismissal on November 11, 1975, calls for the ALP’s National Conference delegates to be voted for on an electorate-by-electorate basis by the party membership. At present, delegates to the National Conference are chosen by the State Conferences along rigid factional and union lines. [Read more…]

In Flanders Fields: Howard’s Tribute To Great War Soldiers

At the Menin Gate, past which all 60 batallions of the first Australian Infantry Force (AIF) marched, John Howard has paid tribute to the Australians who fought on the Western Front in the 1914-18 war, the so-called ‘Great War’ and ‘the war to end all wars’.

Howard’s pilgrimage to battlesites is now a traditional part of every overseas excursion and it is reported that he was noticably moved at the ceremony conducted at the Ieper (Ypres) Town Hall. [Read more…]

Democracy And The Law Threatened By Howard Government: Burnside

In an interview published in The Bulletin magazine today, Julian Burnside QC argues that democracy and the separation of powers is under threat in Australia because of the Howard Government’s attitude to refugees.

Burnside is quoted as saying: “The government has attacked the High Court and the Federal Court. It has politicised the public service, the office of governor-general and the armed forces. What’s left? These are meant to be apolitical arms of government where each functions independently of the others. The current regime does not seem to recognise this”. [Read more…]

Beazley Comments On Kernot-Evans Affair

The former Leader of the Opposition, Kim Beazley, has commented on reports of the Cheryl Kernot and Gareth Evans affair.

Beazley said he did not know of the relationship. He pointed out that if the ALP had known, it is unlikely Kernot would have been encouraged to switch parties. [Read more…]

Hugs And Unfair Dismissals: Howard Meets With Berlusconi

John Howard has met with the Prime Minister of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi, as part of his European trip.

Silvio Berlusconi, Prime Minister of ItalyThe two men discussed Industrial Relations reform, prompting a question to Howard about whether he would consider a three-year trial of the unfair dismissal laws legislation his government has before the Parliament. The legislation provides for the abolition of unfair dismissal laws as they apply to small businesses employing fewer than 50 people. Howard gave guarded support to the idea and is quoted as saying: “Three years, very interesting time!” [Read more…]