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Archives for February 2007

Maxine McKew To Contest Bennelong For ALP

The former ABC journalist and presenter, Maxine McKew, is to contest the Prime Minister’s seat of Bennelong for the ALP in this year’s election.

Maxine McKew, ALP Candidate for BennelongMcKew retired from broadcasting last year and became an adviser on strategy to the Opposition Leader, Kevin Rudd, last month. Her partner is the former ALP National Secretary, Bob Hogg.

McKew’s candidacy will attract media interest and focus attention on the Sydney North Shore electorate which has been held by John Howard since 1974.

The ALP requires a swing of 4% to win Bennelong. Redistributions and demographic factors have made the seat more marginal in recent years. Some commentators believe the seat will swing to Labor when Howard departs.

McKew’s candidacy could produce a number of outcomes:

  1. McKew wins Bennelong and the coalition loses the election. Howard would become only the second prime minister to lose an election and his seat since Stanley Melbourne Bruce in 1929. McKew would become an instant Labor legend.
  2. McKew wins Bennelong and the coalition wins the election. This would be an unprecedented result. No prime minister has ever been defeated in this manner. Peter Costello would probably be chosen as Liberal leader and become prime minister.
  3. McKew loses Bennelong and the ALP wins the election. McKew would be well-placed to contest a by-election for Bennelong if the defeated Howard decided to retire from Parliament. Alternatively, she could expect a senior position on Rudd’s staff.
  4. McKew loses Bennelong and the ALP loses the election. McKew might continue on Rudd’s staff as a more experienced political operative. She would be seen as a future candidate now blooded in battle and might go hunting for a safe seat. If the ALP lost the election by a significant margin, she would be quickly forgotten as another failed celebrity candidate.

This is the text of Maxine McKew’s statement announcing her ALP candidacy for Bennelong.

Today I’m announcing my intention to nominate for preselection as Federal Labor’s candidate in the seat of Bennelong.

If Kevin Rudd is to lead Federal Labor to victory at the next election he has to make a net gain of 16 seats.

One of the seats within that swing pendulum is Bennelong. It has been held by Mr Howard since 1974, however, after the 2004 election and subsequent redistribution the seat requires a swing of more than 4 per cent to become Labor.

I’m nominating for the seat of Bennelong because I want to make whatever contribution I can to help bring about a change of government.

I sense that Australians are hungry for a different kind of political leadership.

It’s a style of leadership that understands Australia’s future challenges require long-term solutions, not short term political fixes. It’s a style of leadership that is focused on the future, not the past. It’s a style of leadership Kevin Rudd offers.

I believe that Kevin has the intelligence and passion that will help forge strong and positive solutions around challenges such as climate change and how we develop a first-rate education system for the 21st century.

My decision is supported by my partner Bob Hogg.

As I am seeking to represent the electorate of Bennelong I will attempt to do so in every sense. We are planning to sell our home and buy in the area.


This is the text of a statement from the Leader of the Opposition, Kevin Rudd.

I am delighted to support Maxine McKew’s decision to nominate for the seat of Bennelong in the upcoming federal election.

I commend Ms McKew on her determination and courage to contest a seat held by the nation’s most formidable politician.

This will be a difficult election for Federal Labor.

History is against us. Rarely has a political party ever won 16 seats to claim government. It is almost an Everest-like challenge. That’s why I am taking nothing for granted. That’s why I am supporting first-class nominees and candidates like Ms McKew.

I intend to give Federal Labor the best possible chance of winning the next election by assembling the best possible team.

I expect Ms McKew to join other outstanding Federal Labor candidates including Gary Gray (Brand), Peter Tinley (Stirling) and Damian Hale (Solomon).

The fact is this year’s federal election is the most important in a generation. It represents a fork in the road.

Australians will face a choice. It is a choice between Federal Labor which is determined to embrace the challenges confronting Australia’s long-term future and the Coalition which is stuck in the past.

Federal Labor has begun the long road to earn the respect and trust of the Australian people in the lead up the 2007 federal election. I welcome Ms McKew’s decision to participate in this journey.


This is the biography of Maxine McKew, taken from the ALP’s website.

Maxine McKew is a special adviser on strategy to the Federal Labor leader Kevin Rudd

Before making the switch to politics, Maxine spent thirty years as a broadcast and print journalist.

She began her career as a cadet on This Day Tonight at the ABC’s Brisbane office.

She is a Walkley and Logie award winner and through coverage of national and international events, earned a reputation as one of the country’s most authoritative interviewers.

For many years she was seen regularly on the ABC TV’s flagship current affairs programmes, the 7.30 Report and Lateline.

In 2003 she was awarded a Centenary Medal for services to broadcasting.

Between 1999 and 2004 she was also a regular writer for the Bulletin magazine.

Lunch with Maxine McKew produced countless candid conversations with Australia’s policy makers and resulted in her inclusion in the Australian Financial Review’s Power List for 2003.

In her time in journalism Maxine has also interviewed a host of international figures including Tony Blair, Madelyn Albright, Colin Powell, Richard Armitage, Shimon Peres, Benjamin Netanyahu, Fidel Ramos, and Sir Julius Chan.

Maxine has covered state and national politics, business reporting and a period as foreign correspondent that took her to postings in Washington DC and to New York.

As a result of her time in North America, she maintains a strong interest in U.S. politics and is a regular participant in the privately funded annual Australia/U.S. Leadership Dialogue, which brings together a trans-Pacific top tier of policy makers and business figures for a Chatham House style symposium.

Maxine has always been a strong advocate of opportunities for women, both in her own industry and in the wider workforce.

Her voluntary activities include the chairmanship of the Advisory Council to the National Breast Cancer Centre, and membership of the University of Sydney’s Research Institute for Asia Pacific.

She is also Patron of Osteoporosis Australia and is a member of the Sydney Symphony Council.

Maxine was born in Brisbane in 1953 and attended All Hallows’ School and studied at the University of Queensland.

War On Terror Is Battle Of Ideas: Cheney

The ‘war on terror’ is more than a contest of arms, and more than a test of will, according to the United States Vice-President, Richard Cheney.

Vice-President Richard CheneyAddressing the Australian-American Leadership Dialogue in Sydney, Cheney said the war on terror “is a battle of ideas”. He said: “We now know to a certainty that when people across the Middle East are denied all freedom, and left to the mercy of fanatical tyrants and false prophets, that is a direct strategic concern of free nations everywhere. By taking the side of moderates, reformers, and advocates for democracy; by providing an alternative to hateful ideologies; we improve the chances for a lasting peace, and we advance our own security interests.” [Read more…]

US House of Representatives Passes Resolution Opposing Iraq Surge

After several days of debate, the US House of Representatives has passed a non-binding resolution expressing disapproval of President Bush’s Iraq “surge”.

The resolution was passed by 246 votes to 182, with 17 Republicans joining with the Democrats and 2 Democrats voting against.

The resolution expresses support for members of the armed forces but opposes the January 10 announcement by Bush of a “surge” of 20,000 additional combat troops.

The resolution will be voted on in the Senate tomorrow.

This is the text of the concurrent resolution passed by the US House of Representatives.

Disapproving of the decision of the President announced on January 10, 2007, to deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to Iraq.

Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That—

(1) Congress and the American people will continue to support and protect the members of the United States Armed Forces who are serving or who have served bravely and honorably in Iraq; and

(2) Congress disapproves of the decision of President George W. Bush announced on January 10, 2007, to deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to Iraq.

Australia To Accept New American Military Base At Geraldton

The Federal Government has agreed to host a ground station for a US strategic and military satellite communications system in Geraldton, Western Australia.

The announcement was made by the Minister for Defence, Brendan Nelson. The government used today’s Question Time in the House of Representatives attack the ALP over its attitude to the US alliance, particularly that of Peter Garrett. Nelson quoted from lyrics from Midnight Oil songs and other writings by Garrett.

This is the text of a media release from the Minister for Defence, Brendan Nelson.


The Government has agreed to host a ground station for a US strategic and military satellite communications system at the Australian Defence Satellite Communication Station (ADSCS) located at Geraldton in Western Australia. The new ground station will be sited within the grounds of ADSCS but will be unrelated to the existing activities of ADSCS which will remain under separate Australian control.

The ground station will form part of the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS). MUOS, in simple terms, will be a satellite-based mobile phone network. MUOS will support US and Australian users, including deployed forces. The ground station at Geraldton will comprise three small buildings housing the electronic infrastructure, power and spares, three 18 metre satellite dishes and two smaller antenna covering an area of approximately 12,000 square metres or less than the size of two and a half rugby fields. Once complete, it will be unmanned requiring only call-out contractor maintenance support.

It will be a joint Australia – US ground station, it will not be a US military base. The facility will be hosted as all other Australian-US joint facilities – on the basis of our full knowledge and concurrence.

Final details are expected to be agreed soon between the US and Australian Defence Departments.

Other joint facilities already hosted by Australia are the Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap and the Joint Geological and Geophysical Research Station and in addition, the US has access to the Naval Communication Station Harold E Holt.



The Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap is a satellite ground station whose function is to collect intelligence data which supports the national security of both Australia and the United States. Intelligence collected at Pine Gap contributes importantly to the verification of arms control and disarmament agreements.


Harold E Holt is a radio relay station, passing messages between Australia and US command centres and their respective ships and submarines in the Indian Ocean and the Western Pacific. It became a joint facility in 1974 and since May 1999 it has operated as an Australian facility to which the US has full access.


The Joint Geological and Geophysical Research Station is a seismic monitoring station originally established to monitor nuclear explosions during the Cold War. It still does monitor such explosions as part of the International Monitoring System (IMS) of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). It also monitors earthquakes. It is jointly operated by Geoscience Australia and the US Air Force.

U.S. Ambassador Hasn’t Read ANZUS Treaty

The United States Ambassador to Australia, Robert McCallum, has admitted he has not read the ANZUS Treaty.

Robert McCallumIn a wide-ranging address to the National Press Club in Canberra, McCallum was asked about Article 4 of the treaty which states that “each Party recognizes that an armed attack in the Pacific Area on any of the Parties would be dangerous to its own peace and safety and declares that it would act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional processes.”

Asked what the US constitutional process would be to invoke the ANZUS Treaty, particularly if there were a conflict between the President and the Congress, McCallum reminded his audience that he was a lawyer with 30 years experience and said: [Read more…]

Murdoch’s New York Post Supports Howard Against Obama

The New York Post newspaper has editorialised in support of John Howard in his spat with 2008 presidential aspirant, Senator Barack Obama.

Accusing the Illinois senator of “breathtaking naiveté”, the populist tabloid said that Howard “gets it”, whereas Obama “may be on the steepest foreign-policy learning curve of any major presidential candidate in recent history”.

The New York Post is owned by News Corporation, headed by the Australian-born American citizen, Rupert Murdoch.

  • Listen to Howard’s comments on Obama (3m)

This is the text of the New York Post’s editorial.

New York Post - click to visit


Senator Barack Obama, all of 25 months removed from the Illinois state legislature, announced his candidacy for the presidency of the United States on Saturday – and immediately began trading harsh words with the leader of one of America’s oldest and most reliable allies.

In the process, the freshman senator revealed truly breathtaking naiveté. [Read more…]

Howard Attacks Obama and US Democrats

Less than twenty-four hours after Barack Obama announced his candidacy for the 2008 United States presidential election, the Prime Minister, John Howard, has attacked the Illinois senator over his policy of withdrawal from Iraq.

Responding to a question about Obama’s policy of withdrawing US troops by March 2008, Howard said: “If I was running Al-Qaeda in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008, and pray, as many times as possible, for a victory not only for Obama, but also for the Democrats.”

The attack is unusual because it is considered undiplomatic for a head of government of one nation to intervene in the electoral process of another. [Read more…]

Senator Barack Obama Announces Bid For President

Barack Obama, the Democratic Party junior Senator from Illinois, has formally declared his candidacy for the United States Presidential race in 2008.

Speaking in Abraham Lincoln’s home town of Springfield, Obama said he wanted to “build a more hopeful America”.

Obama is aiming to become the first black American to win a major party nomination and become President. He faces formidable opposition from Senators Hillary Clinton and John Edwards for the nomination. If successful, his Republican Party opponent could be Senator John McCain, Rudolph Giuliani or Mitt Romney. The presidential primary season is still a year away.

In his announcement speech, Obama said that what has stopped the US from meetings its contemporary challenges “is not the absence of sound policies and sensible plans. What’s stopped us is the failure of leadership, the smallness of our politics – the ease with which we’re distracted by the petty and trivial, our chronic avoidance of tough decisions, our preference for scoring cheap political points instead of rolling up our sleeves and building a working consensus to tackle big problems.” [Read more…]

Education Minister Bishop Calls For Higher Standards In Schools

The Education Minister, Julie Bishop, has attacked education standards in Australia, calling for performance-based pay for teachers and improved standards of literacy.

Quoting Margaret Thatcher, Bishop argued that increased funding over recent decades had not led to increased standards.

In an address to the National Press Club, Bishop reiterated the federal government’s policy of literacy and numeracy tests and attacked the States for not being accountable. [Read more…]