Archive for May, 2008

Some self-evident truths

There has been so much wailing and gnashing of teeth this week about all manner of societal crises. My take on reality:

  • Government tinkering with petrol regulation won’t change prices very much
  • In the long run, petrol prices will go up
  • Instead of making petrol cheaper, perhaps we should use less petrol
  • Politicians in the same party are not identical in every way
  • Sometimes different departments might give different advice
  • People’s opinions about art can differ
  • Children should be protected from harm
  • Investigating art galleries is not the most effective child protection strategy
  • Too often, complex issues are treated as dichotomies

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A bumper week for Dennis. The sky is quite obviously falling for Kevin Rudd.

As always, Dennis’s commentary is extensively and painstakingly thorough in establishing the credibility of his claims by attributing all of the details to reliable sources:

In addition to frustration within the bureaucracy over delays caused by funnelling too many decisions through the PM’s office, there is concern that good policy is being sacrificed to solve publicity problems.

There is also is increasing uncertainty about internal power and personnel assessments when powerful new senators arrive after July 1. There is a growing feeling the Rudd Government remains ill-defined except for symbolism and stunts.

There are Labor figures who are concerned that micro-management and media manipulation are no substitute for having a leader who is providing broader direction on policy and substance.

Methinks Dennis can feel it in his loins.

A more rational examination of Rudd’s performance is given by MegaGeorge, although his focus on the politics neglects the role of the media in controlling the “national story”. Over at Larvatus Prodeo, Kim has some of those issues covered.

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Evil Hyacinth

Brutal dictator’s wife spouts propaganda for husband; won’t vacate Kirribilli.

One of the few Howard positions I heartily approved of was his consistent criticism of Mugabe. Hopefully international pressure can ensure that the election is fair and its results are followed.

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MoveOn.org has a new ad:

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Sensible analysis

It exists at the GG (Exhibit A; Exhibit B) – it’s just that the political commentators don’t bother reading their colleagues’ work.

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This comparison is not very meaningful without data comparing Perth with the eastern capitals before WA’s FuelWatch was introduced. I am happy to be skeptical about the merits of the scheme, but let’s be sensible about how we look at it.

UPDATE: Possum Comitatus has run some analyses that the change in the margin between WA and the eastern states is better explained by competition (the arrival of Caltex and Coles in WA) than by FuelWatch, and links to some analysis by Sinclair Davidson as well.

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Pain at the Pump

I just filled my car with petrol, and I’m not happy. I had to stand there for five minutes while the petrol slowly flowed into the tank. Five minutes! My hand started to get sore from holding the fuel hose. It felt like I might get a cramp if I had to do it any longer! Luckily I only drive a working family sedan – imagine how much worse it would be for those working families who drive around in 4WDs with the huge fuel tanks! and the reserve tanks!

How can this be fair on Australians? Why won’t the Government do something about it? Won’t the Opposition promise to fix this? We need action now! End the pain at the pump!

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John Howard’s Australia

Alive and well on the outskirts of southwestern Sydney.

Camden Council’s decision may well be justified on planning and development grounds. The statements and actions attributed to the Pauline Hanson impersonator and other ‘concerned locals’ are not. And while the council members may be happy to publicly deny that discrimination or fear motivated their decision-making, did any of them tell the ignorant redneck component of their constituency that it shouldn’t be the basis for their opposition to the proposed school?

ELSEWHERE: Sarah observes that our local media pussyfoots around issues to do with Islamophobia.

UPDATE: More on this at Club Troppo as well.

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Dennis bloody Shanahan:

Brendan Nelson and Malcolm Turnbull took full advantage of a damaging split in the Labor Government over the issue of the day – petrol prices.

Got irony?

Faced with the most pressure he has experienced in parliament so far, the Prime Minister’s paper-shuffling anxiety index rose to new heights. At one stage, he was shuffling 17 piles of paper on his desk, with an extra one on the seat next to him.

At times Rudd would pick up a sheet of paper from one pile, and without reading it, add it to another stack. At other times, he would shift blank sheets of paper from pile to pile, or write a couple of words on one.

Rudd piled written advice from Wayne Swan’s adviser, Jim Chalmers, folded advice from Anthony Albanese and added notes torn out of the Treasurer’s parliamentary folder to an ever-increasing heap at his right hand.

It’s a wonder he didn’t have a butler shuffling papers for him.

It was a day of high anxiety for the Government after its first damaging leak chronicled differences in Camelot, with a letter from Energy Minister Martin Ferguson belittling FuelWatch.

Camelot is crumbling? Sounds grim. Is there a glimmer of hope for Rudd and Co.?

Labor was still able to defend itself on the grounds of economic management, while accusing Turnbull of using petrol policy to undermine his leader.

So you mean the Government are actually right on the issues and pointed out the hypocrisy of Liberal bleating about debate and dissent within the Cabinet? Thanks for including one sentence about that. So, what was the end result of the day?

Yet, at the end of the day, the Coalition stood up and used the leaked letter from Ferguson to deadly effect.

Of course they did. I’ll keep an eye out for the funeral announcement.

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Why did I want to see a Rudd Government?

No, Mr Bolt. It was not because I wanted Kevin to keep my petrol prices and grocery bills from going up. I realised that most of the factors driving petrol upward and putting pressure on the cost of living are out of the government’s control. And I also realised that ongoing drought, international economic instability, the limitations on oil supplies, and the introduction of carbon emission costs would keep the pressure on costs.

No, Mr Blair. It was not because I expected Kevin Rudd to hang a “Mission Accomplished” banner on an art gallery and declare the ‘culture wars’ won. I knew that the Labor policy platform and the personal views of Kevin Rudd were more socially conservative than I would like.

Why did I want a Rudd Government? Because, while recognising that I would not agree with every position this government takes, and in the knowledge that politics inevitably involves some amount of public impression management, I wanted a change from a government whose every action was driven by the desire to hold onto, and to expand, its own power. I wanted a government whose vision extends beyond a three-year election cycle. I wanted to see legitimate governmental engagement with the challenges our nation is facing – improving our education and health systems, addressing disadvantage and discrimination in our society, restoring respect for the rule of law, and enhancing our international standing. Many of the Rudd Government’s actions have worked toward these objectives. Some have not, and I will feel free to voice my disapproval when it is warranted.

The two leading boneheads of Rightblogistan believe they can read my mind. Because I wanted a Rudd Government, I tacitly accepted all of the outlandish promises of sweeping change and utopian harmony that they attribute to the Left (including the ones Little Timmy made up). Except that I didn’t. I didn’t expect life to be perfect after the expulsion of John Winston Howard. I just expected it to be better than the alternative.

P.S. The Blairheads rush in to contribute to Timmy’s insurgency in the war on culture. Highlights:

I love shocking artists. And water boarding them. And putting bamboo shoots under their finger nails.

Personally, I think the best approach would have been to have the police round up all the raincoat wearing pervs in the vicinity and lock them in the gallery with the artiste until they’d all satisfied themselves appropriately. About a week would have been long enough.

I suggest we get Milton Orkopolous to judge whether they are art or not.

If Milton enjoys them, shoot the artist.

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