Our public life has become dominated by the politics of vengeance and retribution

And it’s our fault. Because we love to see politicians getting their come-upence.

After all the rorting of the travel allowances and all the bad behaviour, is good to see them getting a bit of a public slapping.

Bronwyn Bishop and her helicopters and her egregious rorting of her overseas travel expenditure. Tony Abbott and his travel expenses to cover his bicycle riding and his trips to colleagues weddings. Trips to the polo, trips to grand finals, family trips to various luxury hotels and resorts. Travel expenses equal to the average workers annual salary. Eventually everybody gets sick of it so vengeance and retribution goes down pretty well in the public eye. But it diverts us from important issues particularly leading up to a general election.

In recent weeks, we have seen various acts of revenge and retribution. In some cases we have rejoiced in them.

Seeing Fraser Anning get an egg smashed on his head does have a certain sense of vicarious pleasure. But no matter how newsworthy, it was relatively unimportant. He is just an irritation on the body politic.

The immense discomfort of Pauline Hanson finding her lieutenants James Ashby and Steve Dickson exposed seeking money from the NRA in America must have given pleasure to millions. But they were just a sideshow. As was Hansen’s indignation at their shameful behaviour.

Now she is threatening retribution in the allocation of One Nation preferences. History indicates that they have never been a factor in deciding federal elections. Nor state elections for that matter.

Similarly, seeing Prime Minister Scott Morrison wedged over the question of preferences for One Nation was the case of “serves you right”. But the position of One Nation on how to vote cars is an irrelevance in most electorates and Morrison should have said so.

Unfortunately, all of these examples demonstrate a sad decline in the quality of political debate leading up to a Federal election.

There is no discussion about how we’re going to deal with climate change, about the correct level of carbon emission ( it’s 45%) and when we should retain it (it’s now).

There is no debate about attaining equitable funding for public schools. There is a long list of important public policy issues that need to be addressed by our politicians. And the public needs to know how they are going to be addressed during the term of the next elected government.

Instead politicians focused on relatively unimportant issues such as who was going to be placed where on how to vote cards.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a huge mass movement and everybody who went to the polling booths on election day refused to take a “how to vote card” and said, “No thank you, I’ll make my own mind up. And I’m voting below the line in the upper house”.

And that kept happening in every election from then on at every election

Just imagine.


Some observations on the New South Wales election

Gladys Berejiklian has led the Coalition to a historic third term victory in the New South Wales election.

It looks as if local issues played a major part.

Labor leader Michael Daley pretty much stuffed up in the last week of the campaign with comments about Asian students and disastrous debates with Berejiklian. Labor is now pretty much in disarray without a leader in the Lower House as Daley has stepped down.

It was hardly a resounding victory for the Berejiklian Government which has a one seat majority but suffered a 2.9% swing against it. Not good news if repeated Federally.

However, they will hold 35 seats and with the 13 that the Nationals have won will have a one seat majority that will allow them to govern in their own right.

There has been a swing to the minor parties particularly to the Shooters and Fishers who have picked up three seats at the expense of the Nationals which will be a worry at a Federal level.

However, there is some interesting detail. Between them the Coalition, Labor and Greens account for roughly 85% of the vote with 15% going to a rag tag and bobtail group of parties.

But that 15% will allocate their preferences in the Federal election and those preferences will decide government. The 85% to the three major parties has been fairly stable over a significant period of time.

If Green preferences flow to Labor Federally in the next election, and half of the rag tag and bob tail vote goes to Labor, then Bill Shorten will probably be the next PM.

And guess who’s turned up like an unwanted turd at a picnic.

Newly minted One Nation upper house candidate Mark Latham. Currently at short odds to have a falling out with party leader Pauline Hanson within a few days and to sit as an Independent which he was not elected as.

Weasel words from Morrison on the shadow cabinet meeting and preferences for One Nation

In 2011, while shadow immigration minister, it was reported the Morrison urged the shadow cabinet to capitalise on the electorate’s growing concerns about “Muslim immigration”.

This week Morrison labelled the account “a disgraceful smear”.

A number of journalists have confirmed this while not revealing their sources. One member of cabinet, Greg Hunt, has confirmed Morrison did not say this.

But Hunt has also confirmed that he was not at the meeting question.

There are a number of people who do know what went on at that shadow cabinet meeting, among them Philip Ruddock and Julie Bishop, both of whom apparently spoke against Morrison’s proposal and neither of whom has made a public statement.

Morrison could not explain why Julie Bishop, who chaired the meeting, ended it by reiterating the Liberal party had a non-discriminatory immigration policy, and it needed to stay that way.

But now, in a television interview with Waleed Aly on The Project Morrison sought to shift the ground saying that he only brought the matter up for discussion.

He was similarly evasive on the issue of preference deals with One Nation. There would be no “deals” but he would not rule out putting One Nation ahead of the Greens and Labor.

He is still in trouble. The Australian has Labor winning 86 seats to the Coalitions 59.

The Fairfax poll has Labor leading 53/47 on a two-party preferred basis.

If the polls are anything to go by, Morrison’s attempt to use the asylum seeker, stop the boats, reopen Christmas Island issues to gain traction with the electorate has failed and his performance on The Project with Waheed Ali made it clear that he is not going to make his support for the Muslim community a vote winner for him.

Finally someone has said it: No restaurant is worth queueing for says Age food writer David Whitley

No restaurant is worth queueing for. No, not even that one you really like. There’s another perfectly good one down the road. While the pretence behind a policy of not taking bookings is that it’s egalitarian, it’s really just a weapons grade piece of “treat ’em mean, keep ’em keen”. Let people have the security of knowing they can get a table at a certain time for heaven’s sake – you can always keep some seats free for walk-ins if you want to.

Read more: http://www.traveller.com.au/ten-overdone-restaurant-trends-that-need-to-die-h1br01#ixzz5irNbFnyU
Follow us: @TravellerAU on Twitter | TravellerAU on Facebook

Fraser Anning: an expensive luxury that the Australian taxpayer should not be funding

THE AGE reports: Far-right Queensland senator Fraser Anning spent more taxpayers’ money flying his family around the country than any other politician last year. 

Travel expenses disproportionate to his value to the country

He also racked up the highest bill for staff travel of any MP who does not hold a ministerial or shadow ministerial role.

Senator Anning claimed $34,672 for family travel expenses on 44 trips between January and December – more than any other MP.

Senator Anning has confirmed some of his trips to Melbourne to attend right-wing rallies were paid for by the taxpayer, despite him having no constituents in the state of Victoria.

The cost of Senator Anning’s staff travel was $247,128 last year.

Senator Anning’s total entitlement claims were $556,472 in 2018.

But he’s not the only expensive MP in Parliament. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten claimed $2,254,569 for between 36 and 40 of his employees to travel.

I know this may sound old-fashioned and penny-pinching but isn’t over $2 million on staff travel rather a lot.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison spent $2000 on luxury car travel during his highly-publicised “bus tour” of Queensland in November and charged taxpayers $577 a night for three nights’ accommodation. 

Now, you don’t expect the Prime Minister of Australia to sleep in his car, albeit a luxury limousine. But $577 buys a pretty classy room in a hotel. Should the taxpayer funding what was essentially an electioneering roadshow.

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan shows poor grasp of history in his comments on Gallopoli

Following the atrocity in Christchurch, the Turkish Prime Minister criticised Australia and New Zealand for sending troops to Gallipoli in World War I.

Following the atrocity in Christchurch, the Turkish Prime Minister criticised Australia and New Zealand for sending troops to Gallipoli in World War I claiming their motive was anti-Islam-oriented.

THE AGE reports him as saying: “What business did you have here? We had no issues with you, why did you come all the way over here?” Erdogan said. “The only reason: we’re Muslim, and they’re Christian.”

There’s been a lot written about ANZAC involvement in Gallipoli but historians have never seen it as an anti-Islamic crusade.

Most agree it was a disaster, primarily of the making of first Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill. And there is also criticism of the British military commander and their use of colonial troops.

But the ill-fated expedition had nothing to do with religion. The colonies joined in because they saw it as their duty to fight the mother country’s wars.

The motivation was about being part of the British Empire.

Misguided perhaps but this was never an anti-Islamic crusade.

Why falling house prices are not all bad news

This causal loop diagram points out some of the dynamics of falling house prices.

In the causal diagram, an S at the end of an arrow means that changes in the first variable result in similar changes in the second. Demand from Investors goes up so House Prices also go up. If demand goes down, prices go down. An O at the end of an arrow means that changes in the first variable result in opposite changes in the second.

At the heart of the diagram is the black loop, which is a balancing loop. House prices will always be balanced by the demand from purchasers, particularly first-home buyers.

The red loop, which is controlled by the external policy variable Credit Supply is reinforcing feed back loop. into house prices. This serves to amplify the variations in the balancing black loop.

The more widespread and pervasive effect of house prices on confidence and spending as shown in the green loop.

Read more about Causal Loop Diagrams

Most commentary at present is focused on the impact that falling house prices has on confidence and spending. People see the value of the houses decline, they are less likely to spend money. On a large scale this impacts on a wide range of economic activity, currently with falling house prices, sales of new cars in New South Wales has gone down.

None of this discussion however, addresses the question of whether Australia has too much of its private capital wrapped up in the housing market.

Nor does it address the issue that house prices will continue rising with population growth, particularly in the central part of large cities were people want to live.

However, another effect of falling house prices is that houses become more affordable from people who are otherwise poster the market, namely first home buyers. 

Changes in house prices have an immediate effect on people who are buying and selling. But those changes also have a psychological impact on people who already own houses. If house prices are falling, people with big mortgages can easily winwed up with negative equity in the house. This will restrict their confidence to spend money and disclose into the general economy.

However for many people who have small or no mortgages at all, changes in house prices have little immediate effect. 

Is Channel 7 giving Pauline Hanson a political leg up?

Pauline Hanson is certainly controversial and many Australians may find her views repugnant. But Channel 7 allows her to be a regular contributor to its Sunrise program. She also appeared on Sevens successful Dancing with the Stars. If this doesn’t give her a platform for her views, it is difficult to understand what would. The argument that is always someone from “the other side”, doesn’t wash.

According to Media Watch, Hanson made 20 appearances on the show to speak about a range of news stories between September 2015 and July 2016 – in the lead-up to her re-election. In July 2016, News.com.au reported that Hanson was paid for those appearances, with some questioning if the platform was the “leg-up” needed to get back into Parliament.

Appearing on Seven’s Sunrise on Monday morning – on which she has been a long-time contributor – Hanson was asked by host David “Kochie” Koch if she felt “complicit” in the deadliest mass shooting in New Zealand’s modern history.

“This terrorist manifesto almost reads like One Nation immigration and Muslim policy. Do you in any way feel complicit with this atrocity?” Koch asked.

In a testy interview Koch reminded Hanson of her second maiden speech in 2016 in which she claimed Australia was “in danger of being swamped by Muslims” with its people “living under sharia law and treated as second-class citizens” if urgent changes weren’t made to immigration policies. She had also called for the burqa to be banned and the construction of mosques to be halted.

You can see excerpts from the interview in THE AGE

Channel 7 wants people to watch their television programs and they know that people like Pauline Hanson help them do just that. 

But it comes at a price.

And that price is that her particularly inflammatory views are given visibility and credibility that they would not otherwise have if they were not to appear on Channel 7

And it’s not a price that Channel 7 pays. It’s a price for our democracy.

We pay this when the views of a small and extreme far-right political party (and its fellow travellers) are given regular access to a national television broadcaster’s prime-time news program.

Hanson refuses to censure Fraser Anning

Senator Hanson said on Monday she would abstain on the censure motion against Senator Anning, who entered Parliament as one of her candidates before joining Katter’s Australia Party and then sitting as an independent.

Labor legal affairs spokesman Mark Dreyfus said it was “disgraceful” that Senator Hanson would abstain on the censure motion rather than condemn Senator Anning.

Hanson has doubled down on her anti-Muslim rhetoric. Picture: Gary Ramage

AFR reports: Queensland senator Pauline Hanson will abstain from voting to censure her former One Nation party colleague Fraser Anning because it won’t “prove a damn thing”.

She is wrong. What it will demonstrate is that mainstream politics condemns the views, and behaviour of her ex-One Nation Senator. And they are putting their money with their mouth is.

The mainstream political parties, Liberal and Labor alike, have issued statements that they will be preferencing One Nation and Senator Anning last in the forthcoming Federal election..

The Nationals have been more circumspect, saying that the preference issue will be decided at a local level.

Brenton Tarrant not “on the radar”. So who’s in charge of the radar?

That would be Peter Dutton, the Minister for Home Affairs whose Department includes of ASIO, the AFP and Border Force.

Too busy looking in the wrong direction?

Mr Tarrant was not on an Australian or New Zealand watch list.

‘‘This individual should have been someone that the authorities were aware of and were proactively already focused on,’’ said NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

‘‘Those are the exact questions that we have asked and that the agencies are working on.’’

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said “The interesting thing about this individual is he was – as I’m advised – on nobody’s radar anywhere’’

It’s actually more than “interesting”. It’s extremely worrying because the man who is in charge of the relevant agencies in Australia appears to have been asleep of the wheel.