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!


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…]


Laura Smyth (ALP-La Trobe) – Maiden Speech

This is the maiden speech of Laura Smyth, the ALP member for La Trobe, in the House of Representatives.

Smyth is the first Labor member for La Trobe since 1990, when Peter Milton was defeated after serving for 10 years and 4 terms. The electorate includes outer eastern and south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne, including Boronia, Ferntree Gully, Cockatoo, Narre Warren, Pakenham Upper, Tecoma and Upwey.

A swing of 1.42% delivered La Trobe to Smyth, who secured 50.91% of the two-party-preferred vote.

Smyth, 33, is a lawyer. She was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. [Read more…]


Day 32: Look, They’re Voting

Julia Gillard launched her election campaign on Monday but people have been voting for the past two weeks. By the time Saturday dawns, up to two million voters will already have cast their votes.

As the party leaders and the media embrace each other in an orgy of events, pretend debates and a welter of press conferences, out in the 150 House of Representatives seats an election is taking place.

In the 2007 elections, 1,062,339 people cast their votes before election day. They turned up to an Australian Electoral Commission office, most likely took a how-to-vote card from party campaign workers, and voted. Another 706,466 people submitted a postal vote. In all, 13.68% of the electorate voted before the official polling day. [Read more…]


Day 5: In The Arena

As I prepare to leave home to drive to Boronia, the Labor leaning northern part of the marginal electorate of La Trobe, in Melbourne’s south-east, Julia Gillard is speaking to nurses in Sydney. Without warning, Sky News switches to a Brisbane school where Kevin Rudd is surrounded by cameras and engaged in a detailed conversation with the Principal about the stimulus spending which has delivered a new assembly hall.

Rudd’s return excites the commentators but it seems a long way from the concerns of people at The Alchester Village, a nondescript shopping centre which derives its name from the junction of Albert and Colchester Roads in Boronia Heights, nestled at the foothills of the Dandenongs. Internal political party rivalries rate poorly here against the concerns of local traders, small business and suburban home-owners. [Read more…]


Day 4: On Message

In Papua-New Guinea yesterday, armed police patrolled Parliament House. There was talk of the Prime Minister being toppled. The Parliament met, but the Opposition lacked the numbers and 74-year-old Michael Somare remained in control. There was much activity but nothing much happened. The old pro who first became Prime Minister in 1975 lived to fight another day.

On Day 4 of the 2010 Australian election campaign, it was much the same: lots of activity but a sense that the real events were taking place elsewhere.

For Gillard and Abbott, it was time to focus on bread and butter issues. Time to shake off the distractions and target the message. Time to ready for the grind that is coming.

Abbott began and ended the day well. On Channel 7’s Sunrise, in an interview that lacked the danger of Monday’s encounters with the media, he once again killed, buried and cremated WorkChoices. The Channel 9 evening news in Melbourne led with Abbott cycling the streets and announcing expenditure savings.

Julia Gillard also appeared on Sunrise, her lines now perfected and rolling forth in a torrent. “I don’t want to see a big Australia … I want to see a sustainable Australia… we’ve announced a modest measure to take a bit of pressure off … Tony Abbott is strongly supportive of WorkChoices…” [Read more…]