The failure of Joyce to handle his affair with a staffer, starting with his astonishing attempt to “explain” it as only a private matter, has led to a failure by Turnbull to display the leadership role he is supposed to play as leader of the Coalition and PM of Australia. It will be surprising if tomorrow’s Newspoll does not show a drop in both the Coalition’s TPP (which was 48/52 a fortnight ago) and Turnbull’s satisfaction rate (37 to 50 dissatisfied). The political editor of The Australian suggests in his Inquirer article (see Shanahan on Joyce/Turnbull) that both leaders will see a fall in their satisfaction rates (Shorten’s was 34 to 52 last time). That is quite possible: the electorate is sick of the behaviour of both sides in Canberra.

Joyce & Public Interest

In my Commentary yesterday I suggested that various aspects of Joyce’s “affair” with staffer Vicki Campion were of public interest and not simply a “private” matter, as Joyce (and some other Coalition Ministers) had suggested. Today’s media has now woken up to the public interest (some journalists apparently knew about the affair some months ago) and have written about it, albeit in mostly soft tones. But Andrew Bolt identifies a number of questions which require answers (see Joyce’s Affair is of Public Interest),

Trump’s State of Union

The annual State of the Union address to Congress by the President is regarded as a fairly formal report on what he regards as having happened over the past year, the accomplishments and the already known policies being pursued (the full text of Trump’s address is attached). The event is however seen as one of the most important in the US political calendar because it is one of the few occasions when all three branches of government are collected under one roof and it has also been used as an opportunity to honor the achievements of some individual Americans.

Climate Policies Main Cause Electricity Price Rises & Anti-Abbott Leaks Emerge

Richard Morgan has again managed publication of an advertisement by his Climate Study group, this time to even a half-pager in today’s Australian and titled REALLY DANGEROUS, GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE, THE NEXT ICE AGE. Readers of this Commentary are familiar with the argument by the group that “ the dangerous global warming threat is …not supported either by failed climate models or evidence from past global climate experience”. But note that it also says that “past levels of CO2 were at least four times the present level without dangerous global warming” and that “the next ice age should be the most serious climate event for humanity to fear.“ Having regard to all this, it said “there is an urgent need to bring power costs down” (see full ad with title of Ice Age Possible).

Trump at Davos & Australian Comments on US Defense Strategy Statement

What with the likely winners of both the women’s and men’s Australian tennis being Swiss and the address by Trump at Davos, the Swiss are in the News. Once again Trump found a phrase which helped rebut the criticism of his “America First” statement by adding “but not America alone” and, with China in mind, emphasising the need for “fair” trade as well as “free” . Separately, it is reported that Trump approved increased duties affecting about $US10bn of imports but it is not clear whether this was “justified” on a fair trade assertion. An article in The Economist, republished in yesterday’s The Australian, says that the actions were “broadly in line with the steer from the US International Trade Commission” and were weaker than sought.

Pence Address to Knesset & Threatened Turkey/US Clash in Syria

Although the Palestinians refused to meet him, US Vice-President Pence’s visit to the Middle East and his address to Israel’s Knesset highlighted a wide range of important issues and explanations of the US’s foreign policy not previously made clear. Considerable publicity has been given to his confirmation that the US embassy will be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem but his Knesset address (text here) says a lot more than that. As with such speeches, it probably includes statements of policy which may not be achievable: but Pense has made an important US foreign/defence policy statement.

Battles on Climate Policy

In my Commentary last Saturday 20 Jan I referred to my battle to persuade The Australian to publish a letter critical of analysis on climate policy by Energy Minister Frydenberg and to my success in eventually having a shortened version published. This is attached together with two others praising the 19 Jan article by climate expert Bjorn Lomborg arguing that, even if fully implemented, the Paris climate agreement would have a much smaller effect in preventing temperature increases than predicted but would be incredibly expensive and could very well exacerbate hunger.