Congratulations Kerryn Phelps for showing political leadership on asylum seekers

It didn’t take Kerryn Phelps long to make her intentions clear in Parliament. She very nearly rolled the Morrison government in her desire to bring sick asylum seeker children to Australia for medical treatment. She managed to unite the Labor Party, the Greens and the Crossbench and left government scrambling to survive on the last sitting day when none of its legislation was passed.


Phelps will obviously be a force to be reckoned with in the dying days of the Morrison government and without a working majority, Morrison cannot count on being able to pass any legislation without her support and the support of the crossbench which she seemed to have been able to unite.


He is stuck between a rock and a hard place, being faced with continuing humiliation on the floor of the house or facing an early election where his party will quite possibly be decimated in both houses

But both party leaders should beware.

If the electorate is given a choice of strong independent candidates like Kerryn Phelps, and tired of the pointless point-scoring, it could well say, “A plague on both your houses.”




The ironies of Liberal party preselection in New South Wales

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has saved Craig Kelly’s bacon by short-circuiting all federal election preselection processes in New South Wales.

This means that the grassroots level party members will not be able to pass judgement on the performance of any of their lower house MPs who will automatically be given the right to stand again. Normally this would lead to their being re-elected. However, given the parlous state of the Liberal party’s standing in the polls, this is unlikely to be the case this time around.

If Liberal MPs stand without re-endorsement and lose, which is highly likely, there will be endless recriminations directed at Scott Morrison.

However, in the case of the Senate the order in which the candidates appear on the ballot paper is decided at a state level. In next year’s election, Senator Jim Molan has been relegated to the virtually unwinable third spot. And he’s not happy.

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Particularly as Scott Morrison is not prepared to intervene as he did for Craig Kelly.

The whole kerfuffle raises interesting and important questions about the tenure of politicians. They are not generally held in high regard by the community so their employment tenure will raise little sympathy with the general public.

Yet their job is a thankless one, their tenure is uncertain and life beyond politics holds no promises for any but the extremely well-connected.

We need a system whereby politicians tossed out by the vagaries of the political system are not left high and dry.

However, it is difficult to enlist public sympathy for politicians because of the appalling behaviour of people like Bronwyn Bishop who not only received exceptionally generous treatment (all of which she was entitled to) particularly during her time speaker but also retired on an exceptionally generous pension.



Will Malcolm Turnbull run as a Liberal independent in the next Federal election?

It must have occurred to someone, if not to him. And I’m sure there will be all manner of weasel words to justify it. Bring stability and leadership to the Parliament, a fresh start for liberal democracy et cetera et cetera.

So where would he stand. Wentworth is probably out of the question. They’ve already got an Independent and there will be a Liberal standing. And the voters will probably give Kerryn Phelps another go.

Now he could stand in Warringah against Tony Abbott. That would be interesting.

Or he could stand against Scott Morrison in Cook . That would be a lot of fun and satisfy the lust for revenge.

Standing against Dutton in Dickson would be dicey.It’s Queensland and they’re strange up there they might just re-elect Dutton just to out of sheer cussedness.

Whether he stands or not, there will probably be a lot of independent candidates standing in the next federal election, the Wentworth result has made it clear that high profile independent candidates have a very high chance of success so Tony Abbott can expect a very high profile independent to run against him and probably win,

It remains to be seen whether Kent Johns and moderates in the seat of Hughes are sufficiently disgruntled to mount an independent campaign against Craig Kelly.

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If they are, and Turnbull runs as an independent, and he would have sufficient funds to run the very effective campaign, then this will be an ominous sign for the Liberals in New South Wales.

We live in interesting times

Defiant Morrison comes out fighting. His weapon of choice: Craig Kelly

With the Liberal party looking for some form of renewal after the disastrous result in Victoria, there have been resignations from the Leader of the Opposition Matthew Guy and the State President Michael Kroger. Mainly window dressing.

Yet the Prime Minister is moving to have all New South Wales Federal Liberal MPs endorsed without preselection. A really bad idea in every way.

That’s right, no preselection. No move towards gender equality, no removal of dinosaurs, no change whatsoever. And deeply divisive.

It also means that Craig Kelly, who is profoundly unpopular both at a Federal and State level, will be re-elected in a safe seat, contrary to what grassroots members in his safe NSW seat of Hughes. would wish.


And all of this because Kelly has threatened to move to the crossbench if he is not preselected for Hughes which the local branch has made pretty clear he will not be.

So Morrison has asked the state executive to suspend all preselection to ensure Kelly does not go to the crossbench. It’s a surrender to blackmail.

“We are united and fighting,” says the PM. Well, he’s half right.


All this comes after the Liberal Party’s devastating loss in Victoria, its loss in the Wentworth bye election and its struggle in the opinion polls against Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and his Labor team.

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It is also a bad message given the efforts of the New South Wales branch and in particular Craig Kelly to strengthen grassroots democracy in the preselection processes. It’s an act of unbelievable cynicism and a denial of the democratic process.

Malcolm Turnbull is expressing indignant outrage from the higher moral ground.


He’s good at indignant outrage.




The Liberal Party’s problems won’t be cured by quotas and a rash of resignations

Nothing is going right for the Liberal party at the moment and the situation was neatly summed up by a Simon Letch cartoon.


The situation is made worse by the fact that almost everything is going right for the Labor Party. The results of the Victorian election could not have been better for Labor.

Matthew Guy is now predicting that Labor could win as many as 100 seats in the next Federal election. He has now resined as party leader.


Michael Kroger has resigned as State President.


You have to wonder if these resignations will make much difference when Resources Minister Matt Canavan is urging secondary students, predominantly young women, protesting the effects of climate change, to go back to school to learn to be engineers so they can dig up coal.


The students wont be voting at the next Federal election, but will be voting in 2023 and you can be pretty certain they won’t be voting for the Coalition.


Part of the Coalition’s problem is that people like Cavanan, who is relatively young, do not know how to connect to this group of young people. All he has managed to do was antagonise a whole cohort of potential voters.

The latest Newspoll gives Labor a 10% lead on two-party preferred basis.

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And a 40/34 lead in the primary vote.

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There is no doubt that there is a need to cut away a lot of deadwood in the Liberal party. But when the extreme right of the party start supporting ideas for quotas what they are really saying is we support the idea of more women as long as they are women who support our extreme right wing views and will be a recipe for disaster.

Former Melbourne lord mayor Robert Doyle attempts to block the release of the report into the investigation of alleged sexual harassment

The Age reports: Mr Doyle argues in his Supreme Court writ that he attended the event in his capacity as chair of Melbourne Health, not as lord mayor.


“Mr Doyle’s alleged conduct,” the writ says, “was not connected to the City of Melbourne, the council or the lord mayor’s office.”

Mr Doyle would have attended the Melbourne Health dinner “even if he were not at the time the lord mayor”, it says.

And the woman Mr Doyle was alleged to have “improperly engaged with at the Melbourne Health dinner” wasn’t a council employee or a councillor, it says.

So that somehow makes it OK?

An investigation by senior barrister Ian Freckelton upheld four allegations of “sexually inappropriate” misconduct.

There are also complains about his behaviour by two Melbourne City councillors.

Mr Doyle’s writ says that, in February, he was admitted to hospital “for a serious and ongoing medical condition” that rendered him “unable to participate in any investigation in a safe manner”.

So what has to be done to get Robert Doyle to face his accusers?

Sometimes it seems the wheels of justice grind too slowly.