If you don’t think it is fair to call the budget a “Labor lite’ version, maybe you would settle for ‘Labor zero.’ This does not ignore in any way the slew of unconscionable measures that accompany the sudden resurgence of spending on health and education, but there certainly looks to be a deliberate effort to reduce the differentiation between Liberal and Labor in several areas. It is also a pretty obvious departure from the last three budgets that focused on cuts to services and seemed to be largely crafted for the benefit of Coalition shareholders (you can call them political donors if you prefer, but the term shareholder seems more accurate to me).
Budget time is not like Christmas, where everyone gets something they want. It is just the time where the government announces how it will tweak its expenditure and revenue processes. There will always be people who feel they have missed out. Remembering how far to the right the ALP has moved in recent decades, anyone claiming that a Labor budget doesn't make cuts or miss anyone out is being revisionist.
Well, it’s now just a few days away from the biggest physical challenge of my life to date. A few people have asked me in the last week whether I am nervous. In truth I’m looking at nervous in the rear view mirror and it is pretty distant.
I am scared.
There are so many ways things could go wrong. And as much as I accept the occasional failure as an inevitable consequence of challenging myself, I will be devastated if I don’t complete this.
Young woman makes a mistake and apologises. No significant harm is done. Everyone moves on. I wish that was the story from last week, but sadly that was never going to be the case and everyone had to weigh in. Admittedly, in the interest of balance I reluctantly felt the need to have my say as well.
Now that hopefully all the paroxysms of outrage about Yassmin Abdel-Magied have subsided it would be great if the Australian people didn’t go back to apathetic sleep and can rediscover their rage about other offensive things people say and do, because her post wasn’t close to the most appalling public statement made last week.
I’m not going to equivocate about this. In my view Yassmin Abdel-Magied made a serious error of judgement yesterday and her words were in poor taste. Some of the reaction was hyperbolic and confected, but that doesn’t change my opinion of the original post.
I have said in the past I really don’t like seeing significant national events used for political purposes. And just as I have criticised right wing ideologues like Roberts, Leyjonhelm and others, I have to use the same standards when judging the behaviour of left wing activists who at other times I have found myself supporting.
ANZAC Day is an important day to many Australians when they feel greatest connection to those lost in war. Abdel-Magied misjudged that badly and her perceived indifference to the sacrifice of our soldiers and their families caused varying levels of unnecessary offense to many.
Turnbull’s announcement that the criteria for Australian citizenship is to become more difficult for prospective applicants is Liberal party’s divisive politics at its best. Instead of attempting to win back dismayed moderates who once felt the Liberal party had some basis in fairness, the government is once again trying to fan our fears around immigration so that it can look like it is doing something about it. If One Nation hadn’t bombed out so badly in the WA election it would probably have asked “are you a Muslim?” outright.
I don’t actually disagree with the rhetoric that citizenship is a privilege that shouldn’t be given out too easily. I have actually known a number of friends who have attained their citizenship and they have described it as a difficult and stressful process already. If you weren’t committed to making Australia your home, you wouldn’t bother.
I love it when I have the opportunity to share inspirational stories on this site. Last year I was particularly fortunate, as I was lucky enough to meet Paul Pritchard and Peter Wheatley, as well as joining the team from Just Like Jack in the Point to Pinnacle.
I thought it was about time I share the story of another amazing guy I have been lucky enough to meet in the last year. I am not shy about saying I consider myself a pretty decent runner, but I am in awe of what Ben Hirst is capable of.
Despite the amazing things this guy has already achieved and his knowledge that there is still more he will accomplish, Ben is a very humble and down to earth guy, who is always encouraging of other runners regardless of their abilities.
Thank you to the organisers and speakers from today’s Palm Sunday rally, which focused on the plight of refugees in offshore detention. The forecast thunderstorm never came but the steady rain no doubt kept crowd numbers lower than we might have otherwise hoped. Still, I would guess there were over 100 hardy and determined people at the Hobart event (Donald Trump counted a million, maybe 1.5 million) and hopefully many more in capital centres around the country.
Well done to the Hobart City Council for following Fremantle’s lead and having the courage to discuss changing the date of Australia Day. As it is both an emotive and controversial issue right now, it must have been tempting for councillors to steer clear of the inevitable controversy, but the right choice and the safe choice are not always the same.
As I said, many people will not agree with this decision. I myself only fully accepted this in the last 12 months (not that the date was important to me, I just didn't think changing the date would change anything- but like I said, I have realised that was a flawed argument) so I understand that others may be not quite ready to do the same. And that is why we need leadership from our elected representatives- exactly as Hobart City Council is showing- to keep pushing the conversation forward in a measured inclusive tone. A few years after we eventually do change the date (which I have little doubt we will do), a lot of people are going to realise they had nothing to fear from the change. That is the value of political leadership that can withstand what it recognises as temporary and ill-informed criticism (take not Malcolm Turnbull).
Mark Latham is an intolerable pig, but thankfully his commitment to freedom of speech and aversion to political correctness means he would have no problem with me saying that.
For a time his lack of polish served him well in politics, but it seems like the older he gets, the more bitter, jaded and aggressive he becomes. I was a little surprised any networks were still interested in him after his more recent series of public attacks on domestic violence campaigner, Rosie Batty, and a number of other gaffes, but I shouldn’t have been.
I was set to write a congratulatory comment about the senate actually doing its job and rejecting the government’s attempt to pass through completely unnecessary changes to Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.
Aside from commenting that considering its inaction in many more pressing areas, it seems odd that the government should consider this bill any kind of priority, I won’t go into detail with my objections to the proposal to make it easier to offend and humiliate people based on their race, as I have discussed it further in a separate post. Although any time you allow Barnaby Joyce to sound like the voice of reason for your party, as he did for the Coalition on this issue, you should probably reconsider your position.
The recently-held inaugural Matthew Millhouse Salute was a very rewarding experience for myself and others who had been close to Matt. It was also a lot of fun and I am looking forward to working towards making next year’s event even better.
In the lead up to the event, I spent a bit of time thinking about my friend and what his loss meant to me two years on. It still hurts. I don’t think that’s ever going to stop entirely and I’m not sure I want it to. I sure as hell don’t want to forget.
I said at the start of this year that it is easy to get carried away with the negatives we see in this world and lose track of the good things that happen. A few short months later and I have to admit to having fallen into this trap myself a little. It is easy to do. There is so much selfishness, hatred and deceit before our eyes. But that is not all there is to the human condition. It is easy to forget about our capacity for compassion, generosity and our ability to contribute to great things.
I can’t say I have agreed with Jeff Kennett on all (or even most) of his public statements but I have to say I have always had respect for his political courage and leadership (doubly so after the experience of Malcolm Turnbull supposedly in charge). I was listening to news radio the other day- must have been ABC because they didn’t mention reality TV non-personalities once- and they were running a story about the Australia21 group’s call to decriminalise a number of illicit drugs.
Elon Musk’s intervention into the national energy debate was timely last week. Call me a pessimist if you will, but I don’t have high expectations of Musk being taken up on his offer to solve the South Australian power uncertainty issues within 100 days, even with the money back guarantee he offered. Just because the man says it can be done, doesn’t mean it will be done. There are still plenty of details to be worked out around the economics and there are also Australian technology companies who claim they could provide the same capacity (but who have been ignored by a government which is considering changing the Clean Energy Corporation’s charter to allow it to invest in coal).
A slow clap to the people of Western Australia. Giving well-deserved simultaneous black eyes to the pathetic Liberal government that has so failed them so comprehensively and to the deceitful opportunism of Pauline Hanson is an impressive feat in today’s political climate.
But while I allowed myself some relief that the ‘silent majority’ that Bernardi and Hanson claim to speak for looks more like a tiny minority, I am not getting to carried away with celebrations around the impending national fall of either One Nation or our hard right Coalition government. The eulogies (which if based on the maxim that, “If you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all,” will have to be very short) can wait a little longer.
It’s neither ignorant nor foolish to feel you have been poorly treated and even failed by our government of late. You probably have been and it is no wonder people are disillusioned with both our political system and the major parties that control it. Most of us would probably agree that the government and many of its bureaucrats serve themselves far more than they serve us, but I have to admit I am one of the lucky ones. Those in dying industries and those who can’t find work, or are locked out of the housing industry have far more reason to resent the seemingly out of touch political establishment than I.
This comment does not only apply to our current government. While the Abbott-Turnbull government has set a new standard (at least in the Australian context- let’s not look across the Pacific) for outrageous ineptitude, heartlessness and avarice, they didn’t create our political system complete with its cronyism, its lobbyists and its entitlements on their own. Past Labor governments also have to take responsibility for the conditions they have contributed to in the power duopoly they have enjoyed for decades.
Am I still able to bemoan the poor quality of the news reporting without sounding like the oafish American President shouting “Fake news,” at any report that points out he is a liar?
Because we do need to be aware that the filters used to determine what is reported and how it is reported in mainstream news are multilayered. As such it is important readers look past the headlines and hyperbolic editorialising to consider the facts of what an article is really about.
Okay can we stop about the bloody chocolate slice?
If you followed commercial news you could be forgiven for thinking that the most significant events of the last week were the mundane interactions of a bunch of B-grade celebrities (I’m probably being generous there) moping about in a South African jungle reality TV series and that a teacher had politely asked a parent not to send chocolate slice into school because it went against what they were trying to teach about healthy eating.
In case you didn’t see any coverage of the latter, that was pretty much the story. A parent sent some food to school and a teacher sent a note home about it. Oh actually that is not quite the story. A busybody friend of the parent took umbrage at this behaviour and wrote a long internet rant that obviously resonated many other parents. As a result, this rant was widely shared online and reported on in the mainstream media.
When a man as spineless as Turnbull has to negotiate with someone as cut-throat as Trump, Australians should be very worried. In his much-publicised gaffe, if Sean Spicer had referred to our PM as Mr Tremble instead of Trumble, we could have been forgiven for thinking it wasn’t even a mistake. It would describe the man perfectly.
For someone who had considerable success in merchant banking, Mr Tremble seems to have difficulties making deals without giving out major concessions. I make this comment based on his complete capitulation to the ultra conservatives in his party and his inability to make deals with either the Nationals or the cross bench, without giving up everything he stood for.
It is possible we are seeing the final death throes of the two party system, as the popularity of independents and smaller parties rises and with the likely defection of Bernardi from the Liberal Party. As such, Coalition moderates (if there is still such a thing) have an interesting decision coming up.
Do they continue to court the conservative vote at a heavy disadvantage to Hanson and soon Bernardi, who don’t have the inconvenience of having to be reasonable, truthful or even logical in order to retain their core constituency? Or do they eschew the hateful politics of the extreme right and define themselves according to the principles they actually believe in (some of them must stand for something right)?