On the subject of...

Federal Politics

18
Feb
2018

Turnbull/Joyce

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.
12
Feb
2018

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),
30
Jan
2018

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).
22
Jan
2018

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.
20
Jan
2018

Failure to Assess CChange Threats, Attitudes to Trump

On 19 January The Australian published a half page advertisement on The Next Ice Age by Richard Morgan’s Climate Study Group (the ad was also published in the Herald Sun on 12 Jan and is on my web). This contains carefully considered views by people who are aware of the possible influences on climate. The day before I had sent a letter to The Australian complaining that it had published a letter by Energy Minister Frydenberg criticising an analysis published in the paper by Judith Sloan but had not published any letters critical of Frydenberg even though some had been sent, including by me (see attached Energy Policy Letter Sent to The Australian 18/1).
18
Jan
2018

US Foreign Policy, Frydenberg’s Energy Policy & Trump’s Medical Test

The US Secretary of State , Tillerson, has made a major speech in which he effectively says the US will increase its political and military roles in the Middle East.The attached report by the Washington Post (not generally supportive of Trump) says: “Tillerson listed vanquishing al-Qaeda, ousting Iran and securing a peace settlement that excludes President Bashar al-Assad as among the goals of a continued presence in Syria of about 2,000 American troops currently deployed in a Kurdish-controlled corner of northeastern Syria. His comments represented the most comprehensive and ambitious articulation of Washington’s often-contradictory policy in Syria since President Trump took office a year ago, and they underline the extent to which the war against the Islamic State has inevitably also entangled the United States in the region’s other conflicts.
12
Jan
2018

Existing Climate Policy Could Cause Further Energy Price Rises

As we enter the New Year many ask what happened last year and what is likely to happen this year. Not surprisingly, the climate is a point of focus as is whether Australian governments’ policies to reduce carbon emissions are working. Also not surprising is that there are fundamental differences in opinion about the merits of those policies, not the least being Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris agreement and his recent failure to mention in a major security statement.
7
Jan
2018

Where is Australia on Iran?

Despite reports of thousands of arrests and over 20 deaths, the anti-government protests in Iran appear to be continuing, albeit on a much smaller scale. A member of the US think-tank, Brookings Institution, Suzanne Maloney, is a senior fellow on Middle East policy and describes them as reflecting “Anger over these [financial] losses came on top of years of pent-up frustration over a sluggish economy. When the government announced recent price increases and released an austere budget bill, it ignited at-times violent protests that spread rapidly to dozens of cities nationwide. Demonstrators quickly turned their fury on corrupt officials and the Islamic republic as a whole”… "What's different is that it seems to have tapped into a deep sense of alienation and frustration, that people aren't just demonstrating for better working conditions or pay, but insisting on wholesale rejection of the system itself " (see article from the Washington Post dated 7 January, “Iran Expert says…”).
3
Jan
2018

Potential for Major Improvements in Governance in Iran

In my Commentary of 1 January I drew attention to the absence of any substantive references in our media to the successful defeat of the ISIS caliphate by Iraqi and Syrian forces, with support provided by US and Australian forces. I drew particular attention to Trump’s delegation of decision-making to Secretary Tillerson and commanders in the field and to his indication that the defeat of ISIS was a priority. This contrasted with the dire situation a year ago described in a special press briefing given on 22 December by the US envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS (this was not reported in our media). His description of “a dire situation” may have reflected Obama’s policy of first requiring his clearance to take military action and his refusal to have US troops on the ground in Iraq (except for Special Forces).
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