What Will the Next Leak Say?

Where will the ALP take the country next? asks Milton Von Smith

Let's play a fun game.  I call it "What Will the Next Leak Say?" 

Here's my guess at what it might look like:

"From: Julia G.  Sent: Sat 31/07/2010 6:31 PM

To: Karl B.

Cc: Mark A.

Subject: Moving Australia Forward

Dear Mark and Karl,

Following on from our discussions on our magnificant climate change policy, the latest revelations about the National Security Committee (that rat-f*cking b*stard) got me thinking.

I am very busy with other commitments, and these NSC meetings are very difficult to attend with any serious degree of regularity. 

And yet even though I can't regularly attend, it is obviously important that we be seen to be getting the community's input on serious issues such as defence and national security so we can move Australia forward.

What's a girl to do? 

And then it hit me: our climate change policy announcement was such a success, why not apply the idea more widely and have a Citizens' Assembly for the National Security Committee? 

Think about it: it is the next logical step.  Climate change is the biggest social and economic challenge of our generation.  And as you know, our policy is to have people picked randomly to decide what our response to that challenge will be.  So why not apply the same idea to national security, which by definition is not as large a social and economic challenge as climate change? 

It would be a win-win solution – I would no longer have to turn up to these pesky meetings. 

Please make it so. 

Regards,

Julia.

Fiscal Chutzpah

The ALP's economic credibility is in tatters, writes Milton Von Smith

With the latest poll showing Labor's primary vote in freefall and the Coalition ahead on a two party preferred basis, the ALP is starting to panic. 

There is no better example of this than the document released today by Chris Bowen, Wayne Swan, and Lindsay Tanner.

These fiscal bozos think that the Coalition should submit this policy for costing:

"The Coalition’s Abolition of the National Broadband Network – claimed recurrent saving of $2.4 billion – claimed on 19 May 2010."
 
Can you believe it?
 
The ALP has never had the NBN costed by Treasury, Finance or anybody else; even the NBN's CEO doesn't know exactly what it will cost the taxpayer. 
 
And yet Swan, Bowen and Tanner  – who have never presided over a budget surplus and will very likely never do so - have the gall to claim that the Coalition should submit the axing of Labor's stupid policy to Treasury and Finance for further scrutiny!! 
 
And this from a party which has yet to tell the Australian people who the next Finance Minister would be, should they win the election. 
 
How very sad.  How very pathetic.  How very, very Labor. 

The UK Looks to Australia

David_archer With a referendum on the Alternative Vote System looming, British voters look down under to gauge its effects, writes David Archer.

As the Australians go to the polls on the 21st of August the eyes of the political classes in the UK will be focused more than usual on their southern cousins.

One of the peculiar compromises to emerge from the coalition government formed following the UK general election in May was the promise to hold a referendum on electoral reform. Specifically, the question to be put to the British people is whether or not to abandon the first-past-the-post constituency system that has been in place on and off since the 13th century and adopt instead the Alternative Vote system (AV) which is already long established in Australia and known as the Preferential Vote.

The reason for this situation is the Conservative leadership’s need to offer their Liberal Democrat coalition partners concessions to join the government. The Liberal Democrats, although charlatan chameleons of convenience on most issues, have consistently supported electoral reform. The measure they have traditionally supported, proportional representation, was unpalatable to the Tories, and thus the soggy compromise of a referendum on AV was adopted as official policy.

The ensuing debate on AV has created splits within parties rather along traditional party lines. Cameron has committed himself to campaign for it, but his backbenchers are under no such compulsion and many are mobilising against it.  The Labour party, proving itself more competent in opposition than they ever were in government, have recently declared their opposition on an apparently technical point. They are, they claim, opposed not to AV –indeed, they were the only party to publically support AV before the election- but are opposed to the reform that will be bundled into the Bill alongside AV:  the plan to equalise the size of mainland UK constituencies. With typically Machiavellian shamelessness they have announced that any plan to improve the in-built bias to Labour in the constituency boundary distribution constitutes the worst form of gerrymandering.

There are few unbiased parties in this debate, although activists outside the three main establishment parties have claimed disinterest. Nigel Farage of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) has said that his party would only be excited by AV+, i.e. AV that includes a proportional element with a percentage of MPs to be elected off party lists. It was AV+ that was recommended by the Jenkins Commission, the last serious investigation into voting reform in the UK, which reported back in 1998. The race-motivated socialists of the far-left British Nationalist Party would also stand to gain under that reform, currently off the table.

The Conservative punditocracy appears to be split, and as the planned referendum date of May 5, 2011 approaches we can only expect debate to intensify along with considerable political manoeuvring on all sides.

UK voters have good reason to be cynical about referenda. The last time a national referendum was offered was in 1975 on the question of whether the UK should remain in the European Common Market. Since a majority voted yes on that narrow question, constitution-bending European integration has accelerated through the Maastricht and Lisbon treaties with referenda always promised but never delivered by all the main parties. The presence of Euro-fetishist Liberal Democrats on the governing Tory benches has ensured that European integration is likely to remain the awkward but unmentionable elephant in the House of Commons. The Liberal Democrats are already excitedly talking about AV as merely a stepping stone on their march to full Proportional Representation.

As I see it, arguments against AV are that eccentric and exciting candidates would be penalised (as they would pick up fewer second preference votes) and line-towing party hacks would be rewarded. The coalition we currently endure might become the status quo with the Liberal Democrats as permanent power brokers. The third largest party would unfairly hold the balance of power. The satisfying spectacle of the Prime Minister being chucked out of 10 Downing Street the morning after an election would be less likely as coalition-forming talks could drag on for weeks or months. Some see coalition politics as a civilised contrast to the rough and tumble of partisan debate; others see coalitions producing parliamentary milquetoasts and are concerned by the potential for the formation of a lazy unchallenged consensus.

On the positive side of the ledger, many apparently support AV as helping their own partisan advantage.  On all sides calculations are being made about which parties will do best under which system. Such considerations come with with considerable potential to backfire. They also set a very dangerous precedent for constitutional meddling. It is to be hoped that most peoples’ votes, if not most politicians’ recommendations, will be motivated by principle rather than by any perceived sense of self-interest.

Many people are unhappy with the current First-Past-the-Post voting system. Certainly it is imperfect. AV represents change. That may be enough to convince a majority of voters to go for it, but it is far from clear that it will be change for the better. The decision endorsed by the Electoral Commission, a very dodgy Quango, to hold the referendum on the same day as local elections are held in some but not all of the country, seems suspect and is already a focal point for Tory opposition. It’s ironic that a democratic reform is being proposed and campaigned for by a coalition leadership for whom nobody voted.

Currently Australia is one of very few countries to have an AV system, although it is complicated in the Australian case by the compulsory voting requirement: an odd situation which seems to turn a right to vote upside down into an apathy-breeding obligation.

One prominent Australian Liberal Party activist told me in London last week that he thinks that AV is unfair because some voters end up having effectively two votes. The thoughts of Australians will be welcome in this debate, and at least one psephological analysis has already been posted at ConservativeHome.

I suspect that when it comes down to it I will vote against AV, hoping that no “second preference votes” are added into the mix to confuse matters.

David Archer is a freelance writer, a business risk analyst and a public affairs consultant. He has worked in the FTSE 100, and as a manager and editor at two major Washington think tanks. He currently divides his working life between Washington and London, and ghost writes for an MEP.

Will Gillard Have the NBN Costed?

The NBN deserves at least as much scrutiny as Julia Gillard (allegedly) applied to other policies,  writes Milton von Smith

This week marked yet another Kevin Rudd moment for Julia Gillard: her very own "I'm an economic conservative" claim.  

Responding to leaks from a not-so-anonymous source that she opposed the pension increase and the paid parental leave proposals, Gillard said:

"As we worked our way through both the pension increase and the paid parental leave scheme, I looked at them from every angle.

"I
held them up to the light. I examined every possibility. I asked every
question, because I wanted to satisfy myself they were affordable:
affordable today and affordable tomorrow.

"You can be passionate
about doing something and hard-headed in getting it done. So if people
want a prime minister that will have $50 billion of expenditure put
before them and sign away without even a question asked, well, I'm not
it."

This explanation is straight out of the Kevin Rudd playbook, and our shameful media accepted it unquestioningly. 

None of them seem to remember the 2007 campaign, when Rudd kept repeating the line that he was an "economic conservative" (only to later put the Budget into the largest deficit in history). 

But, thanks to former ALP National Secretary Tim Gartrell we all know the true history of that statement:

"KEVIN had talked a lot about wanting to get across that he's fiscally
conservative. I think it was Neil Lawrence who said, "Why don't we just
boldly claim it?" Just before it went to air I thought, F. . k! Was Rudd
right? Was his claim independently verifiable? Had a number of people
really described him as being an economic conservative? So I googled it
and found two references to Rudd being an economic conservative — one
was in a Paul Kelly article, and then one other that was sort of, Kevin
Rudd likes to tell people he's an economic conservative."

Reports suggest that Julia Gillard will announce the footprint of the largest white elephant in our nation's history, the National Broadband Network, in Perth today.

So here are some questions that someone should ask Gillard today. 

As she worked her way through the NBN, did she subject it to the same scrutiny as she claims she did for the pension increase and the paid parental leave proposal?

Did she "look at the NBN from every angle?"
Did she "hold the NBN up to the light"
Did she "examine the NBN's every possibility"?

Did she "ask every question, because she wanted to satisfy herself the NBN was affordable: affordable today and affordable tomorrow"?

The answer to all of these questions is, of course, no.

Gillard has claimed that her policies would be "absolutely transparent to every Australian before election day."

The only way for Gillard to be "absolutely transparent" about the NBN is to do something that her predecessor refused to do: subject the NBN to a full cost-benefit analysis.

And she could start the ball rolling by submitting the NBN policy to Treasury and Finance for an election costing.

Ann McElhinney at RightOnline 2010


.

“So when my husband and I came to America, we heard a story about conservatives. We heard that these conservatives are a really really weird lot. Nutjobs, basically. And these conservatives, they’re obsessed with sex. They’re obsessed with sex and they’re obsessed with what you’re doing in your bedroom. It’s all they think about. They’re just constantly worrying about what you’re up to in your bedroom.

But you know something? Since we’ve moved here, we haven’t found that. But what we have found is that liberals, are in every other room in your house. They’re in the fridge. They’re in your car. They’re in your air miles. They’re in your clothes. They’re in your hair. They’re in your cleaning products, and your washing machine and the refrigerator. They’re all over the place! And they’re in your light bulb! And I want to say them … This is America! Get out of my light bulb!!”

via www.redstate.com

Also, if you havn’t yet watched the documentary Not Evil Just Wrong, directed by Ann and her husband, go get yourself a copy now

Posted by TVA

Daily Kos Editor Says Skeptics Should Commit Suicide « Green Hell Blog

A Daily Kos contributing editor has suggested that “Steve Milloy and his buddies” commit suicide or be euthanized apparently for the crime of opposing global warming alarmism.

Amid a rant on his Examiner.com blog about skeptics “carpet-bomb[ing] newspaper editorial pages with climate change disinformation…], Steven Alexander, who writes for Daily Kos under the nom-de-plume “Darksyde,” wrote that,

… if only Milloy and his buddies could check into one of the [Soylent Corporation’s] lovely medical suites for a short nature movie and a glass of wine…

The reference is to the assisted suicide scene in the 1973 movie Soylent Green, starring Charlton Heston.

via greenhellblog.com

Posted by TVA