Posts Tagged ‘Government’

Being prepared doesn’t make me any less disappointed and outraged by this. I cannot believe that Kevin said this with a straight face:

“Climate change is an inconvenient truth and a truth that we can no longer conveniently ignore,” Mr Rudd said at the National Press Club.

“No responsible leadership anywhere in the world can ignore the elephant in the room, an elephant of this proportion.”

His Government’s policy is not responsible, and he is not demonstrating any form of leadership whatsoever.

I’m tied up and can’t write more at the moment, so a quick round-up of other reactions:


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Steve Fielding:

The Federal Government’s luxury car tax bill has been defeated in the Senate after Family First Senator Steve Fielding and the Opposition combined to vote against it.

“The Government could do something if they wanted to to get this measure through,” he said.

“There’s no way that Family First can vote for a bill that’s going to put up a tax for farmers and tourism, that’s just crazy.

“They’re already doing it so tough at the moment.”

Treasurer Wayne Swan told Radio National that Senator Fielding’s requested amendments would have been a “compliance nightmare.”

Correctamundo, Mr Swan.

It’s an interesting start to the Senate’s activities – the Greens negotiated and achieved what seems a reasonable outcome, while it’s one of the two Jokers in the deck who stymied the Bill. Meanwhile, the Opposition appears to remain committed to taking its role literally – meaning that it’s the Greens, Mr FF and Mr X who Labor will be talking to.

If there are ongoing issues with the legislation relating to fiscal policy, the extent to which the different parties have negotiated in good faith might become quite relevant to the double dissolution prospects. But this is only the very first instance in what looks set to be an interesting series of events.

ELSEWHERE: John Quiggin and Andrew Bartlett have both written about the double dissolution prospects. Over at Public Polity, Sam has pointed to Kevin Rennie’s analysis of the relatively small cost that Fielding’s argument was based on.

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This is a bit too optimistic for me:

Legislation to end discrimination for same-sex couples under Commonwealth law has been introduced in Federal Parliament.

It needs the word ‘some’, or perhaps ‘most’. But this is the line the Government has run with, and they are certainly well ahead of their predecessors in promoting equality. And they are arguably providing substantive equality while not providing a more symbolic form (marriage recognition) – a nice counter to the “all spin, no substance” argument against Rudd and co.

But the fact remains that genuine equality, not to mention a more common-sense approach to distinguishing relationships where partners share property and entitlements from those where their interests remain separate, is still out of reach. Kerry O’Brien did a good job of arguing this point – in the manner that conservatives seem to think he reserves for those who are not of teh Left – a few months ago.

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I’ll put my hand up

Ken Lovell asks:

Is it permissible to speak harshly of the Rudd Government yet?



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Shorter Shanahan:

Because the Rudd Government doesn’t plan to completely change every detail of immigration policy, they are exactly the same as the Howard and Keating Governments.

Yes, Dennis, detention centres will still exist. Some people will even be held in them. I will agree that the Rudd Government appears prepared to continue the semantic games about what is and isn’t part of Australia. You assert that “the Labor Government intends to continue to decide who comes into Australia and how,” invoking the language of your idol, John Winston Howard. But there are some core principles in the new policy that seem to overshadow any similarities to the glory days of mandatory detention:

  • People should be held in detention if there are legitimate grounds to believe that they pose a risk.
  • Absent a reasonable grounds to suspect a risk is posed, people should not be held in detention.
  • Children should not be held in detention.
  • The Government’s decisions about risk and detention should be subject to an appropriate level of judicial review.
  • People should be detained for as short a time as possible, whether the eventual result is the granting of asylum or deportation.

Seems a pretty clear distinction to me.

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Labor has had to bear the responsibility of introducing mandatory detention. I am very pleased that it can also claim the credit for doing away with it.

ELSEWHERE: Senator Evans’s speech sets out the plan for reforming detention policy. There is commentary from both Andrew Bartlett and Tim Dunlop. As Tim notes, the Opposition has responded by playing its greatest hits.

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I has it.

UPDATE: On the flipside is this tactic from the Opposition, which manages to both (i) stall the Government’s plan to eliminate a clear form of discrimination and (ii) implicitly suggest that homosexual partnerships are on a par with siblings and other carers rather than married or de facto heterosexual couples. There should not be delay for delay’s sake, but there should be scope for debate and careful consideration where it is appropriate. Of course, instead of a nuanced examination of the merits of each Bill, this week’s media coverage is more likely to be “Government: The Opposition wants to stop us from governing!!!” and “Opposition: The Government is circumventing Parliament!!!” in a recursive loop.

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Free our speech.

Open our government.

Protect our democracy.

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Senator Bob Brown has pledged that, if Parliament sits next week, he will make sure it doesn’t totally waste its time:

If the Prime Minister doesn’t call the election this weekend, I will introduce a private members’ bill when Parliament resumes next week requiring the total amount of taxpayers’ money spent on government advertising to be included in every advertisement.

I applaud the principle behind this, and I hope that he introduces the proposed amendments when the new Parliament sits if he doesn’t get the opportunity next week. Government advertising can be used to raise public awareness about important issues and services. But as we have seen this year, and in many years before (not only under Team Howard), it can be used to disseminate propaganda for the party that has formed Government.

Displaying the cost of the advertising would do nothing to discourage the former kind of advertising, but it should make the Government think twice about the latter. I would have no problem seeing a hefty price tag for an advertising campaign that was in the genuine public interest. But instead of being able to dodge questions for as long as possible, the cost of the advertising could be made transparent to the public, the media and the opposing parties.

My main concerns about Senator Brown’s proposed approach are practical: Can the total cost of the campaign be known before it is finished? or will the Government manage to present a lower figure because that was the cost at a given point in time?

I can’t imagine that these proposed amendments will succeed, but at the very least I hope we get to hear Team Howard (and perhaps Mr “Me Too”) defend why taxpayers should not be given a clear account of how much of their money is being invested in advertising campaigns, so we can judge whether the expected gains match the outlay.

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Tim Dunlop breaks down some of the figures on federal-state proportional funding for hospitals:

In trying to untangle the rhetoric from both parties about their hospital policies the other day, one aspect I only touched on was the issue of funding. I noted that “the Federal Government…seems to be using the moment to decrease the amount of money they put into the system. The usual split between State and Commonwealth is 50/50, though under Mr Abbott the federal share has dropped to about 45%. The Health Minister is now talking in terms of a 40% Commonwealth share, at a time when costs are rising.”

In fact, a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare indicates that the Federal funding share has already dropped to 41% of the total.

Tim talks about the implications of this in terms of the Coalition’s new policy of forming local hospital boards, but it’s worth noting what this says about the historical situation. State governments (or, at the very least, some of them) have been increasing their spending on the health system in an attempt to improve one of the most vital services a government can provide. Meanwhile, the Commonwealth has allowed its investment in health to slip so that the states are shouldering more of the burden than ever before. Meanwhile, the federal Government happily attacks the states on two fronts: (i) they aren’t operating health services at an adequate level, and (ii) state governments running into debt are responsible for interest rate rises.

In other words, the Commonwealth keeps the money in their very deep pockets (all the better to fund advertising campaigns with), and they get to hit the states for both spending too much and not spending enough.

If you want to hear what the other side of politics is saying, Nicola Roxon has a piece in the GG today.

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