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Archives for January 2016

Hockey Presents Credentials To Obama; Abbott Meets Kissinger

The former Treasurer, Joe Hockey, has presented his credentials to President Barack Obama as the new Australian Ambassador to the United States, whilst his former leader, Tony Abbott, has met with Dr. Henry Kissinger in New York.

Within ten minutes of each other this morning, Hockey and Abbott both posted pictures of their meetings on Twitter.


Hockey, 50, replaces the former Labor leader Kim Beazley, who held the post for 7 years. Hockey was the Liberal member for North Sydney from 1996 until his resignation last October. He was Treasurer from 2013 but was dropped by Malcolm Turnbull last September in the aftermath of the toppling of Tony Abbott.


Kissinger, 92, was Secretary of State under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford between 1973-77. Abbott, 58, has been the Liberal member for Warringah since 1994. He was prime minister between 2013-15.

Your Child, Our Future: ALP Releases Education Policy

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Shadow Education Minister Kate Ellis have released the ALP’s education policy for this year’s election.

The policy is called Your Child, Our Future. It commits a Shorten government to reversing the Abbott/Turnbull government’s cuts and to deliver the six-year Gonski reforms on-time and in-full.

The ALP says it is committed “to fund a permanent and ongoing shift to needs-based funding” and “has provisioned $37.3 billion for the package over the decade from 2015-16 to 2025-26”. This includes the commitment to fund years five and six of Gonski, which the Parliamentary Budget Office has costed at $4.5 billion.

The policy says: “This funding will be offset, over the forward estimates and the medium term, by existing improvements to the Budget proposed by Labor including making multinational companies pay their fair share of tax reforms to the taxation of multinational entities, reducing superannuation tax concessions for millionaires, increasing the changes to tobacco excise, ceasing the Emissions Reducation Fund, and not proceeeding with the Liberals’ new Baby Bonus.”

  • Watch Bill Shorten discuss the Education policy (1m)

[Read more…]

Anthony Albanese To Run Again In Grayndler

Anthony Albanese has announced that he will run again in his Sydney electorate of Grayndler

The proposed redistribution of NSW electoral boundaries led to speculation that Albanese might contest Barton but final changes have improved the ALP’s margin in Grayndler. The ABC’s Antony Green has calculated the new margin as 18.1% in the ALP’s favour.

Albanese has held Grayndler since 1996. A safe Labor seat, it was created in 1949 and has been represented by Fred Daly (1949-75), Tony Whitlam (1975-77), Frank Stewart (1977-79), Leo McLeay (1979-93) and Jeannette McHugh (1993-96).

  • Watch Albanese interviewed on the ABC (11m)

Statement by Anthony Albanese.

Albanese to nominate for Grayndler

I will be nominating for preselection to contest the next federal election as the Labor Candidate for Grayndler. [Read more…]

On This Day In 1966: Menzies Retires, Holt Government Takes Office

Having announced his retirement on January 20, Sir Robert Menzies officially departed the prime ministership on this day in 1966. Harold Holt’s first ministry was sworn in at the same time.

It was a historic moment 50 years ago that brought to an end the political career of Australia’s longest-serving prime minister. Menzies had been Prime Minister for two years between April 1939 and August 1941. He formed the Liberal Party in 1944 and served for six years as Opposition Leader before defeating the Chifley Labor government in December 1949.

Menzies went on to win six more elections in 1951, 1954, 1955, 1958, 1961 and 1963. When he retired, he had been prime minister for 16 years and 5 weeks.


Harold Holt took office at the age of 57 with a ministerial career that had started 26 years earlier. He had first served under Menzies in 1940 and had been Treasurer since 1958. [Read more…]

Tony Abbott To Stand Again In Warringah

The former prime minister, Tony Abbott, has announced that he will renominate for preselection in his safe NSW seat of Warringah.

After four months of speculation about whether he will stay in parliament, Abbott has made it clear that he still holds hope of a recall to the Liberal Party leadership.

In a statement released tonight, Abbott said he had been “heartened by the support and encouragement I’ve received to continue to serve the country as a member of parliament”. [Read more…]

Melissa Parke To Retire From Parliament At Next Election

Melissa Parke, the Labor member for Fremantle, has announced that she will retire from Parliament at this year’s federal election.

ParkeParke, 49, has held the safe Labor seat for three terms since 2007.

Her winning margin in Fremantle in 2013 was 4.77%. It was 5.70% in 2010 and 9.14% in 2007. The just-completed redistribution of Western Australian electoral boundaries has the notional margin on 5.9%.

In her announcement, Parke said: “It is time for me to be closer to my family and to travel less.”

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten described Parke as an “unstinting champion for human rights, international development and social justice” and thanked her for her “years of dedicated service”. He said: “Melissa can be particularly proud that as Minister for International Development, she appointed Australia’s first Ambassador for Disability and Inclusive Development, with the goal of empowering people in some of the world’s poorest nations.”

Parke is the sixth Labor member of the House of Representatives to announce her retirement. The others are Laurie Ferguson (Werriwa), Alan Griffin (Bruce), Bernie Ripoll (Oxley), Kelvin Thomson (Wills) and Anna Burke (Chisholm). Senators Joe Ludwig and Jan McLucas, both from Queensland, will also retire at the election.

Parke is one of only 5 members to have held Fremantle over the past 82 years since 1934. It was held by former PM John Curtin (1934-45), Kim Beazley Snr (1945-77), John Dawkins (1977-94) and Carmen Lawrence (1994-2007).

Statement by Melissa Parke, ALP member for Fremantle.

Decision to leave Federal Parliament at the next election

After careful consideration I have decided that I will not contest the federal seat of Fremantle for a fourth term at the next election.

It is time for me to be closer to my family and to travel less.

For 8 years I worked overseas for the United Nations, and it will be nearly 9 years that I have been in parliament, crisscrossing this amazing continent to represent the incredible community of Fremantle at the national level.

I deeply respect the passion and values demonstrated daily by my constituents and the support they offer me. However, I believe that renewal is a good tonic for our democracy—my departure will be to the benefit of Fremantle and to the parliament, as every new member brings unique experiences, insights, fresh energy and perspective to the role.

My commitment to advancing the causes of human rights, animal welfare, the environment, public health and education, science and the arts, to addressing extreme poverty, disadvantage and injustice wherever it occurs, including with regard to Australia’s Indigenous peoples and refugees, and to promoting good governance and accountability, is as strong as ever.

I look forward to new challenges in future—but will always remain engaged in the causes I care most about.

Working for and with the greater Fremantle community (including the local government areas of Fremantle, East Fremantle, Melville, and Cockburn) has been a privilege, and I’m proud of our achievements together. I have seen tremendous positive change in local schools, sports, heritage and community infrastructure, in the solar panels that glint upon thousands of rooftops, in the delivery of innovative projects like wave-power and geothermal heating, and in forward-looking Labor initiatives like NDIS, NBN and Gonski.

I was especially glad for the opportunity to work within the Labor government to reduce homelessness and improve the provision of social and affordable housing; to bring a national framework and funding to support mental healthcare; and to be the first dedicated Minister in 25 years for Australia’s world-leading international development agency, AusAID. It was an honour to work with so many good people on such important projects and reforms.

It has been just as special to be a member of the national parliament: to work with parliamentary colleagues across the political spectrum over multiple terms on parliamentary committees including treaties, foreign affairs, law enforcement integrity, and human rights. I have enjoyed being chair of the Australian branch of Parliamentarians for Global Action and co-chairing a number of parliamentary friendship groups relating to the United Nations, UNICEF, ABC, the TPP, drug law reform, and RSPCA Australia.

It has also been a pleasure to work with parliamentary colleagues, academics, scientists, experts, industry, unions and community groups on issues such as abolition of the death penalty, justice for refugees, nuclear disarmament, marine sanctuaries, climate change, press freedom, fair trade, closing the gap, war powers reform, Australian aid, early childhood education, public health, rare diseases, medicinal cannabis, dying with dignity, support for veterans, whistle-blower protection, an independent office of animal welfare, an end to gene patenting, and long-overdue justice for the Palestinian, Tibetan, West Papuan and Rohingya peoples.

The role of an informed and engaged backbencher is undervalued in the Australian political system, which increasingly favours the executive over the parliament. Receiving the triennial Award for Integrity as a parliamentarian from the Accountability Round Table in December 2013 alongside Mark Dreyfus and Judi Moylan was a particular honour.

It has been a humbling and galvanising experience to be part of effective local community action in Fremantle through such events as Gimme Shelter (raising funds and awareness for homelessness), and in local campaigns for more humane refugee policy, climate action, renewable energy, Australian aid and marine sanctuaries, as well as concerted community opposition to live export, supertrawlers, and the road insanity that is the proposed Perth Freight Link (particularly the destructive and pointless Roe 8 highway extension).

I want to thank the people of the Fremantle electorate for their support, encouragement, and constructive criticism.

Finally, I thank the Australian Labor Party for the opportunity to represent Fremantle and Labor in the parliament and Labor members for their sustained support. I acknowledge and thank my staff, past and present, for their deep and abiding commitment to working with me as servants of the Fremantle electorate and the nation. I thank my Labor parliamentary colleagues, past and present, for their shared work, debates, and good company.

I will continue to work for the election of a Bill Shorten-led Labor government as the only guarantee of high-quality public health and education, fair and safe working conditions, the delivery of the NBN and public transport infrastructure, increasing Australian aid, and protection of the environment including meaningful action on climate change.

Statement from Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.


UK Labour Election Report Released

This is the text of the report into the UK Labour Party’s 2015 election defeat.

The report, titled Learning the Lessons From Defeat, was compiled by Margaret Beckett, a former minister in the Blair and Brown governments.

Beckett held the post of Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs between 2006 and 2007. She was a member of the House of Commons from 1974 until 1979, and has been the Labour member for Derby South since 1983.


Australia Institute Proposes Capital Gains Tax On Home Worth More Than $2 Million

The Australia Institute says capital gains tax exemptions on homes worth over $2 million are costing the federal budget billions of dollars.

Capital gains tax is not payable on the sale of the main residence. The Treasury says this costs the budget $46 billion each financial year.

The Australia Institute report proposes scaling back capital gains tax exemptions for homes worth more than $2 million. It says this would raise $12 billion over four years.

The Institute, a progressive think tank, says the proposal should be considered because it costs more than the federal government spends on defence ($26.3bn), education ($31.9bn) or Medicare ($21.1bn).

The report was prepared by the institute’s senior economist, Matt Grudnoff.

The report is shown below. It can be expanded and downloaded.