10
May
2014

Various subjects

Further adverse polling (46/54 TPP), albeit in an irregular Fairfax poll (see below), adds to the perspective of a failure to “sell” the budget as a necessary and fully justified policy. This despite the pathetic arguments advanced by Labor that the budget problem is a shortage of revenue (see Judith Sloan article below).

The Coalition is holding to its “line” that all have to contribute. But, as I have previously suggested, the broken-promise-increase in taxes (now including petrol) adds to the increasing doubt about the severity of spending reductions in the next couple of years.

Of course, the ABC, the Greens and the Fairfax press are focussing more on measures such as the increase in the pension age to 70 in 2035. But as Greg Sheridan argues in “The dangers of becoming a little Europe” (see Inquirer in today’s The Australian), Abbott’s ability to sell the budget will be important in combating the type of political culture involving dependency on government which has led to a dysfunctional Europe.

Treasurer Hockey’s  latest epistle is that, “with no immediate shocks in the budget”, there will be no significant negative impact on demand and growth will start to lift next year. But if immediate shocks are absent that suggests more should have been done.

Worrisome as the budget may be, the latest developments in Islamic extremism are of greater concern. Chris Kenny points out in his article below that extremist activity has been increasing in Australia and overseas and “many of us try to ignore” the motivation behind that activity. And, as he also says, the most serious ignoring is done by the leader of the Western world, Barack Obama. Indeed, some of his ministers may be as bad if not worse.

Attached are three articles from the US media forwarded to me by Peter Samuel (now living in America). One claims that Hilary Clinton’s department refused in 2011 to list the recent child capture Boko Haram group in Nigeria as a terrorist organisation despite evidence indicating links with al Queda groups and urging from other US official groups and senators. The BH group, whose aim is to establish a sharia state in central Africa, was added to the US terrorist list by Kerry in November 2013 but was not on either of the additions to two Australian terrorist lists published by Attorney General Brandis since October. In an article in The Australian on 9 May journalist Bruce Loudon, who has had experience in Africa, suggests the BH group “poses a growing threat in regional –and potentially global – terms”.

One of the articles (by Charles Krauthammer) suggests that new evidence may become available which would provide further support for the allegation that Obama and Clinton covered up the involvement of an al Qaeda group in the attack on the US Benghazi consulate. As noted, there are potential implications for the 2016 presidential prospects of Clinton.

As to Australian terrorist activity, Kenny does not mention that the nephew of an extremist Australian Muslim involved in what is described as Australia’s “biggest terrorist conspiracy” to attack targets in Sydney and Melbourne appears to have “escaped” to Syria (see article below). I was unaware of the trial of the conspirators, or of its importance/size – the article describes it as the largest in Australian criminal history. It certainly confirms the threat of violent activity by extremist Muslims in Australia. Attorney General Brandis said a couple of weeks ago that it is illegal to engage in fighting in Syria but this “escape” warrants another ministerial pronouncement.