On the subject of...

Federal Politics

5
Mar
2016

Turnbull’s Credibility on Defence Policy

It’s not often that I send my Commentaries on successive days. But it seemed necessary to follow up yesterday’s given that the credibility of Turnbull and his ministers appears now to be at stake because he and his Defence Minister have failed to indicate that there has been a change of policy in delaying the acquisition of new submarines until the early 2030s and failed to explain coherently the reasons for that decision (and whether it was a decision that was confirmed with Cabinet’s six member National Security Committee).
4
Mar
2016

Civil Wars in Australia & America

That it has now become almost certain that Trump will win the US Republican primaries has led Romney (the winner of the last primaries) to enunciate a detailed analysis to the effect that Trump is not acceptable as the official Republican nomination for President. The author of the article detailing Romney’s analysis (see attached Romney on Trump) claims that a significant proportion of Republicans will not vote for Trump if he is the official candidate. The author argues that there is now a “civil war” within the Republican movement about what to do. Separately, there is now some talk of starting a third party and there appears to be a provision in the US Constitution that provides for this possibility. Such a move could attract voters from each side.
2
Mar
2016

Economic Outlook

At a time when in January the IMF revised down its global GDP forecast for 2016 from 3.6% to 3.4%, and also forecast a fall of 9.5% in non-oil commodity prices (after a fall of 17.4% last year), Treasurer Scott Morrison is justified in repeating his boast that today’s December quarter GDP increase of 0.6% (seasonally adjusted) shows Australia is continuing to grow well above the average in the OECD. In fact, the trend in GDP growth has edged up slightly since 2013.
25
Feb
2016

The Missing Economic Policy

Today’s Newspoll shows the two major parties are now on the same TPP (down from a steady 53/47 for the Coalition). Although Turnbull remains clearly preferred as PM, his indecisiveness over whether to raise the GST/cut income tax and his failure to produce any new substantive economic policy has contributed to the downturn. Turnbull’s general approach of not ruling any policy in or out –and then not deciding on anything – has not helped and his net satisfaction rating is down to 10 compared with 38 in mid-November. As Rowan Dean put it in Saturday’s AFR, “Turnbull: The Force Awakens has lost business to Deadbill”.
19
Feb
2016

Treasurer Morrison on Government’s Economic Policies

It is not often that one accepts most assertions and back up used by 7.30’s Leigh Sales when interviewing a minister from the Coalition Government. But her interview of Scott Morrison after he gave a 9 page address to the National Press Club (text attached with 5 pages of Q&A) go to the heart of the problem with the performance of the government led by Turnbull since he became PM. The text of her interview with SM is set out below and attached are comments on the address by her, another ABC interviewer and Shadow Treasurer Bowen. Following are the main points arising from SM’s presentation and his interview with Sales.
7
Feb
2016

CSIRO View on C Change Creates Uncertainty; No GST Increase?

The CEO of CSIRO, Dr Larry Marshall, who was appointed in Jan 2015, has set the cat amongst the pigeons, including some international ones, by declaring that the organisation will cease to examine the causes of climate change and concentrate instead on how to mitigate the effects of it (see “CSIRO Head Abandons Research on Climate Change”). The clear implication is that he regards the science as settled. But although a physicist, Marshall appears to have had no experience in analysing climate change. His CV indicates that he is an “innovator” - and an exaggerator who claims (unbelievably) Australia has been responsible for “more than 100 great inventions”
31
Jan
2016

Australia Day & Some of Its Consequences; Budget & Spending Levels

With minimal editorial change, today’s Australian has published a letter of mine praising the virtues of the present Australian political system. The Letters Ed interpreted it more as an attack on the US system (which it is indirectly) but its main intent is to question the merits of the alternatives proposed for us, including the republican one for which our current PM led the charge in the 1999 referendum but is now suggesting that any move should await the death of the Queen. While he knows Prince Charles favours a republic, he is off track even there: as the monarchical head for Australia Charles would have no legal power or influence on policy.
24
Jan
2016

Turnbull – What are His Policies?; Stone on Budget; Bob Carter

When an Australian PM makes an obviously pre-prepared address during a visit overseas his main object is not so much to inform his overseas audience as to let his supporters and opponents at home know his thinking about those government policies that are in dispute domestically. The address Turnbull made in Washington to the think-tank Centre for Strategic and International Studies was relevant particularly to his government’s policies on Islamic terrorism and our military involvement in Iraq/Syria –and to his own capacity to deliver them.
9
Jan
2016

Heydon Report – Ministerial Behaviour- A Hydrogen Bomb?- Saudi Arabi v Iran

The behaviour of the Turnbull Government continues to raise questions. Immediately following the publication by Justice Heydon of the Royal Commission on Trade Union Governance and Corruption, on 30 December the government issued a press release by the joint team of Turnbull, Brandis and Cash acknowledging the assessment of “a ‘widespread’ and ‘deep seated’ culture of lawlessness among many union officials. It also said it would submit improved legislation on regulating the construction industry and (separately) on the governance of trade unions. It promised to give full and careful consideration to the recommendations in the final report and “announce a detailed response to the public in early 2016”.