In recent Commentaries I have referred to a number of deficiencies in the Budget which have either not been referred to in the main media, including even in The Australian, or have only been given limited attention. Despite this even The Australian has not published four letters I submitted on what I believe are serious analytical deficiencies, and the AFR often couldn’t decide whether to have a letters page. The Age almost automatically refuses to publish anyone deemed to be right of centre.
Although the ABC and SBS continue to convey concerns about Trump, the realisation that he seems to be on the right track is spreading, including by Turnbull. Of particular importance are the signs that he may have done a deal with China involving the putting of pressure on NK to change its missile threat policy. The article in today’s Australian by its first rate China correspondent, Rowan Callick, suggests that Trump may have persuaded XI to threaten Kim with a reduction in oil supply and in imports from NK (where about 80% of NK exports go). Callick also quotes a Chinese academic as saying publicly that “the fundamental interests of China and North Korea are now conflicting”. Such a statement would not be made in China unless the hint of a basic change had got around (see attached Chinese Policy on NK).
While Turnbull himself could not be blamed for the absence of three ministers and other Coalition MPs at the end of Thursday’s Reps session, he must have failed to emphasise to the whips and others the importance of attending the first session after an election result which he had publicised as providing a majority. The absence of 10 Coalition MPs allowed Labor (which had obviously planned to take advantage of any absences) to indicate that this is another example of Turnbull of mis-management. And this theme has been taken up in the media too, including one suggestion that Turnbull lacks a “wingman” to support him in Parliament. Perhaps the failure to sack the Chief Whip, Pyne, illustrates the problem.
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”.
Today’s Australian provided my best laughs for the New Year – but also again highlighted the failure of experts and Ministers to understand how to present the threat from Islam.
There has been universal agreement that the large numbers now fleeing from Syria, Iraq, Libya and other Middle East/African countries should either be accepted as refugees or provided with assistance in some form. Unfortunately, there is no public recognition that the primary cause of the refugee surge is the ongoing murder and destruction occurring under the terrorist activity of IS, al-Qaeda and other extremist Islamic groups. This includes the Assad regime, which is being helped by the Russians and the Iranians.
We seem to have been experiencing a lot of talk about domestic issues which are scarcely of the top order. Number one is the expenses incurred by Speaker Bishop, who as I have previously suggested acted irresponsibly. Her failure to acknowledge this and to apologise straight away, and Abbott’s failure to ensure that happened and to announce a review of the expenses provisions (it appears that Labor’s front bench has “over-spent” too), has put the Coalition in damage control and will likely lead to a further decline in polling...