Can You Help?

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.


Become a Patron!


Archives for May 2013

The Power And The Passion – A Personal View

The ABC has screened the first of a two-part documentary on Gough Whitlam, The Power and the Passion.

The Power and the Passion – A Personal View

by Malcolm Farnsworth

It’s flawed. The incorrect details and dates irritate. The interviews are marred by minor-celebrity bilge. The re-enactments are execrable. It’s hagiography, not documentary.

But last night’s first episode of The Power and the Passion is not that bad. Unreconstructed Whitlamites can rest easy. I lapped it up.

One line stands out: Whitlam had to beat his own side before he could win.

Party structures had to change. Individuals had to be surpassed and sidelined. New policies had to be born. The electorate had to be carried along. There was an inescapable logic to Whitlam’s famous sequence: the party, the program, the people.

For me, the program was a reminder of the inversion that’s taken place forty years since It’s Time. For people like me, the ALP has reverted to its pre-Whitlam shape.

It’s an ugly look the ALP has in 2013. It’s anachronistic and electorally poisonous. In New South Wales, it doesn’t even look like a party anymore, just a criminal enterprise. Nationally, it’s a party controlled by narrow cliques at odds with the electorate. [Read more…]


Would A Double Dissolution In Early 2014 Be Unconstitutional?

Tony Abbott has made it clear that the first legislative act of his government after September 14 will be to introduce legislation to repeal the carbon tax.  The mining tax is also up for repeal.

The obstacle in Abbott’s path is the composition of the Senate.  Until July 1 next year, the balance of power in the Senate remains with the Australian Greens.  Without the support of their 9 senators, neither the ALP (31 senators) nor the coalition (34 senators) can command the 39 votes needed to win a vote.

Abbott and his shadow ministers have made it clear that they are prepared to call a double dissolution election if the Senate rejects their legislation.  This can take place if the requirements of Section 57 of the Constitution are met. [Read more…]


A Scenario For Tony Abbott And A Motion Of No-Confidence

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s intention to give notice of a no-confidence motion when Parliament returns this week has always been a potentially messy business.

A brief explanation: the government controls the Notice Paper in the House of Representatives. This is the document which outlines the order and timing of debate, including the order of legislation.

Whilst there are set times when the Opposition can bring on debate on particular issues (such as in regular Matters of Public Importance), if it wants to move a specific motion it needs to first move a motion for the Suspension of Standing Orders.

Abbott

Abbott attempted to do this during Question Time on March 21, whilst the government was preoccupied with the leadership spill that wasn’t. He sought to suspend standing orders in order to move: “That this House declares no confidence in the Prime Minister.”

The motion was carried by 73 votes to 71 but was defeated because a suspension of standing orders requires an absolute majority of 76 votes.

Abbott then announced that he would give notice of a no-confidence motion when the House resumes tomorrow. He didn’t say whether it would be no-confidence in the government or the prime minister. The difference is technically significant but may not necessarily be crucial to the outcome of any vote. [Read more…]


25th Anniversary Of Opening Of New Parliament House

Today is the 25th anniversary of the opening of Canberra’s New Parliament House on May 9, 1988.

The building was opened by the Queen. At the time, the Prime Minister was Bob Hawke and the Opposition Leader was John Howard.

The building was opened in Australia’s bicentenary year. May 9 was also the date of the first sitting of the new Commonwealth Parliament in Melbourne in 1901, as well as the date in 1927 when the provisional Parliament House was opened by the Queen’s father, then the Duke of York.

Six videos of the opening of Parliament House are available by clicking on this link. They include speeches by then Prime Minister Bob Hawke, Opposition Leader John Howard, House Speaker Joan Child and Senate President Kerry Sibraa. There is also an interview with former Whitlam government minister Fred Daly.

 


Queen’s Speech At State Opening Of U.K. Parliament

Queen Elizabeth II has opened the 2012 parliamentary year in the United Kingdom’s Parliament at Westminster.

A State Opening of Parliament is the main ceremonial occasion of the parliamentary calendar. Escorted by the Household Cavalry, the Queen travels from Buckingham Palace to Westminster. She enters the House of Lords and directs Black Rod to summon the members of the House of Commons.

Queen

Black Rod, as the chief official of the House of Lords, is ceremonially denied entry to the Commons, a practice that symbolises the independence of the Commons from the monarchy. Black Rod knocks three times on the door of the Commons chamber. When admitted, he advises the Speaker that the Queen has summonsed members to the Lords. Members then proceed to the Bar of the House and listen to the Queen’s speech. [Read more…]


Tony Abbott And Women Of Calibre: What Did He Actually Say?

In the increasingly bizarre world online, there was a minor flurry yesterday over comments by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott on paid parental leave.

I came to it late in the day, some hours after the comments were made. My initial impression was that Abbott must have said something highly offensive.

For example, the News Limited website, news.com.au, told me Abbott defended his paid parental leave policy as a means of encouraging women of “calibre” to have children.

Farr

On Twitter, the article’s author, political writer Malcolm Farr, said the policy was all about getting women of calibre to “breed”:


Also on Twitter, the Finance Minister, Senator Penny Wong, was taking aim at Abbott:

Elsewhere, there was talk of Abbott’s new policy of eugenics.

Clearly, this was a major foot-in-mouth blunder by Abbott.

So I listened to what Abbott said. Here’s the full media conference and the specific question where Abbott made the “calibre” comment:

Abbott

  • Tony Abbott’s media conference – May 7, 2013 (22m)
  • The ‘calibre’ question (3m)

I’m the first to admit that my command of English is pretty basic. But surely Abbott’s remark is innocuous?

There is a legitimate debate to be had over the merits of Abbott’s policy. Or do we prefer the warm inner glow of manufactured outrage?



Reserve Bank Lowers Rates To 2.75%

The Reserve Bank of Australia has cut its cash rate 0.25% to 2.75%, the lowest rate since the 1950s.

In a statement, Governor Glenn Stevens said the RBA’s board “judged that a further decline in the cash rate was appropriate to encourage sustainable growth in the economy, consistent with achieving the inflation target.” [Read more…]