Turnbull’s Playing For Time.

By suddenly announcing that the resumption of Parliament will be delayed until 4 December, Turnbull has postponed by a week the possibility of a defeat on the floor of the Lower House. At the same time, it was indicated that the finishing date for Parliament could now be Friday 15 December, or even later. The stated reason(s) for seeking the extra time are that it may be needed to debate the legislation on same sex marriage and resolve outstanding citizenship issues. Turnbull told The Australian that “ he was ‘very confident’ parliament would pass same-sex marriage legislation before Christmas”. “Parliament absolutely can and I’m very confident it will, and my priority and the government’s priority is to recognise the will of the people is that we should get this done, and that’s what we’re going to be doing everything we can to achieve it before Christmas,” the Prime Minister said. “I think the Opposition have got a similar commitment, so between us I’m very confident we can make it work. “There’ll obviously be a lot of debate, a lot of amendments discussed. That’s what parliament’s for, but ultimately we know we have got a very clear direction from our masters, the Australian people.”

Climate Change & Same Sex Agreements

Available here is an article from the New York Times dated 18 November reporting on the Climate Change Conference held in Bonn over the past fortnight. Such conferences are scheduled to be held every year to assess progress in meeting the 2015 Paris Agreement. The article says that next year “world leaders will meet for a formal dialogue”. Perhaps the most significant “outcome” from the conference is the acknowledgement that “the world’s nations are still failing to prevent drastic global warming in the decades ahead. ‘We need more action, more ambition, and we need it now,’ said Patricia Espinosa, the United Nations climate chief”. The two Open Graphics published in the NYT suggests that the current trajectories of carbon emissions by the EU and the US would need to be drastically lowered in order to have temperatures below 2C degrees by 2030. Graphics for China and India would show a much greater reduction required (of course such graphics are meaningless as there is no co-relationship between changes in emissions and temperatures).

Polling Shows Further Coalition Falls

The announcement of Alexander’s resignation as an MP for Bennelong (and a by-election on December 16), and indications that at least three Labor MPs may be dual citizens as defined under Section 44 of the Constitution, raises a question as to whether Parliament will be functioning for a period as an effective political entity. Of course, after a series of by-elections next year Parliament can again become a body containing all “genuine” Australians. But should it make decisions on policies in the meantime or hold a general election that would bring the dual citizenship issue to a head?

Citizenship & Leadership Issues

Discussion and media coverage about the political situation is focussed mainly on the citizenship issue and its possible implications. It is an important and difficult issue on which to agree on what should be done (or attempted) to ensure that future elections (including the half Senate ones) have candidates who can pass a “no foreigners” test as prescribed by the High Court. The leaders of the two major parties seem to accept that it would be desirable on practical grounds to reach an agreement asap regarding the “audit” for future elections.

Rekindling Urgently Needed

Many of us are still recovering from the wrong decisions we made in making a bet on the Melbourne Cup (mine came last!). Who would have thought that two horses from Ireland would have come first and second and that they both came from Tipperary , to which it’s a long way to go according to the song whose joint author was a Williams. News Ltd Cartoonist, Mark Night has today brilliantly captured the contrast between Lloyd Williams’s sixth cup winner (Rekindling) and what one can only describe as Turnbull’s continued run of losers (and who should now “pack up his troubles in the old kit bag” and move along).At the end of this Commentary I have included today’s Knight cartoon along with his of 7 November, where he pictures Turnbull “having fun”.

Turnbull’s Leadership Dwindles Further

As soon as Turnbull arrived back in Australia from his visit to Israel for the BeerSheba, he held a press conference in Perth at which he rejected the idea of having an audit to determine whether MPs have complied with the constitutional requirement of having no foreign ancestry or, if so, of having renounced it before becoming federal MPs. He particularly attacked reports that Frydenberg might be deemed to be of Hungarian ancestry because his mother was born in Hungary but escaped the killing of Jews there and migrated to Australia. Frydenberg is reported as telling the ABC that “I did seek some advice and I am very confident with that ­advice but also contacted the embassy here and I was very comforted by conversations with them”.

In The Right Direction?

The kerfuffle over the ministerial handling of the Australian Federal Police raids on the Australian Workers Union raises serious questions about why the Turnbull government timed such action now and whether Turnbull himself was more closely involved than appears in the media. It followed Turnbull’s decision to announce a new energy policy with important details absent and a promise that these will be “explained” in due course. These “rush” decisions by Turnbull may well be connected with an attempt to lift his continued disastrous polling in Newspoll and prevent any move to replace him before Christmas. Yet an examination of recent developments suggests the polling is now more likely to fall than even stay put.

Energy Policy

Today’s Media has published two damming criticisms of government policy on global warming and, in particular, its predictions that NEG will result in falls in power prices. These come after yesterday morning’s seemingly desperate attempt by Frydenberg to support NEG including by his astonishing recourse to “experts” picked by Turnbull and himself viz “we are absolutely confident that prices will come down because that’s the best advice of the Energy Security Board which represents the best experts in the field … This is no subsidies. No taxes. No trading schemes. No carbon price”. It’s using existing market mechanisms involving “contracts exchanged for physical electricity”. One pertinent comment I received (from a different expert) is that NEG is similar to a plan by Lenin!