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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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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…]


Tony Abbott: ‘We All Have To Live With Shit’

Microphones have captured Opposition Leader Tony Abbott reflecting on the reality of public life. [Read more…]


Kevin Rudd’s Opening Address to the 2020 Summit

This is the text of Kevin Rudd’s Address Opening the 2020 Summit in Canberra.

Australians one, Australians all.

I too begin by acknowledging the first peoples of our nation.

Just as I welcome all of you to this, the nation’s capital, to this, the nation’s Parliament.

To this, the great meeting place of our common democracy, Australia.

The place from which we your elected representatives seek to navigate our nation’s future.

Today we are trying to do something new.

Today we are throwing open the windows of our democracy, to let a little bit of fresh air in.

Rather than pretending that we the politicians of Australia have all the answers, and the truth is, we don’t, we are turning now to you, the people of Australia. [Read more…]


Terrorism, Policing & The Media: Controversial Keelty Speech

The Federal Police Commissioner, Mick Keelty, has made a controversial speech in which he argues for a gag on media coverage of terrorism arrests.

The speech was delivered to the Sydney Institute. [Read more…]


Whitlam-Fraser Call For Strengthening Of Ministerial Accountability

Two former Australian prime ministers, Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser, have called for the modernisation of the principle of ministerial accountability.

In a letter published in the Herald-Sun, Fraser and Whitlam say that "no matter how grave their failings may be, ministers no longer resign".

Whitlam was prime minister from 1972-75 and Fraser from 1975-83. Both men experienced a number of spectacular resignations and sackings from their ministries.

They have called for a comprehensive review of ministerial accountability, arguing that "this principle is the bedrock of responsible government". [Read more…]


Tony Blair: “The Media Is A Feral Beast, Tearing People To Pieces”

On the eve of his resignation as prime minister, Tony Blair made a stinging attack on the media.

Text of Prime Minister Tony Blair’s speech.

The media is a feral beast, tearing people to pieces

Tony BlairThe purpose of the series of speeches I have given over the past year has been deliberately reflective: to get beyond the immediate headlines on issues of the day and contemplate in a broader perspective, the effect of a changing world on the issues of the future. This speech on the challenge of the changing nature of communication on politics and the media is from the same perspective.

I need to say some preliminaries at the outset. This is not my response to the latest whacking from bits of the media. It is not a whinge about how unfair it all is. As I always say, it’s an immense privilege to do this job and if the worst that happens is harsh media coverage, it’s a small price to pay. And anyway, like it or not, I have won three elections and am still standing as I leave office. This speech is not a complaint. It is an argument. [Read more…]


Business Council Calls For New Commonwealth-States Contract

The Business Council of Australia has released a report proposing reforms to the Australian federal system.

The BCA says in the report: “In the past, the debate has been mainly framed around political and constitutional reasons for change. The extent of the problems and dysfunctions of the current system of federal–state relations – marked by a lack of consensus on national goals and consistent forward planning – is such that it has become a major barrier to future prosperity. The challenge of reforming federalism has now become an economic imperative. Currently, Australia has a system where the lines of responsibilities between the Commonwealth and the states have become chronically blurred and confused. We have a system in which, because of a growing lack of transparency and accountability, the quantity of government has taken precedence over quality.

“As the world becomes more complex and increasingly requires decision making that anticipates rather than reacts to 21st-century challenges, Australia needs a system of government that can manage issues critical to the future of the nation through collaboration and cooperation. It is time for a new contract between the Commonwealth and the States.”

The Business Council of Australia represents the Chief Executives of 100 of Australia’s largest companies.


BCA Booklet: Reshaping Australia’s Federation

The Business Council of Australia has issued a study of Australia’s Federation and proposed a 12-point plan of action.

The BCA represents the Chief Executives of 100 of Australia’s “leading”, or largest, companies. [Read more…]


Victorian Local Government Association State Budget Submission

The Victorian Local Government Association has made a submission to the state government in advance of next year’s budget.

Budget submissions, state and federal, are examples of regular lobbying activity by pressure groups.

This is the text of the VLGA’s covering letter to Treasurer John Brumby, accompanying the submission to the Treasurer on the 2006-07 Budget priorities.

Dear John,

The Victorian Local Governance Association is pleased to provide a submission on the priorities for the 2006 – 07 State Budget.

Our submission focuses clearly on the need for the 2006 -07 Budget to be a Transport Budget which significantly commits to services and infrastructure spending to underpin the Metropolitan Transport Plan and commitments in both Growing Victoria Together and he Melbourne 2030 strategy.

Equally important is the need for a commitment to the development of a Provincial Transport Framework to identify local and state-wide priorities. We also draw your attention o significant infrastructure issues for provincial local government’s in terms of bridge capitalisation and maintenance.

We would be delighted to meet with you in the New Year to discuss further.

Yours sincerely,
Andrew Rowe
Chief Executive


Apathy And Anger: John Faulkner On Our Modern Democracy

The ALP’s former leader in the Senate, John Faulkner, says Australian democracy is “drowning in distrust”.

Arguing that politics requires commitment, patience, and a sense of proportion, Faulkner criticised Mark Latham’s for young people to reject organised politics.

Faulkner said: “Unless we have mature and realistic expectations of the possibilities of politics and the capacity of politicians, we cannot as a society understand or resolve the real problems within the political system. If our analysis is as shallow as Mark Latham’s complaints that people were mean to him, our solutions will be as self-defeating as his decision to take his bat and ball and go home.” [Read more…]