• Why is there still so much anger?
    As we enter the Festive Season, we reflect on the year past and
    the one ahead. It’s a time when Christians celebrate Christmas and
    other special days, Jewish folk enjoy Hanukkah, Mexicans celebrate
    the Fiesta of our Lady of Guadalupe, and Swedes celebrate St Lucia
    Day. The New Year is ushered in as an opportunity for new hope.
  • Let's Dance
    In a recent email, Virginia Trioli wrote in relation to Christmas Parties: Go hard
    or go home. Say something. Talk — really talk — about your life, your triumphs,
    your failures; your year of struggle or your reflections on another milestone
    reached; your pride, your joy, the moments of grace remembered or sought:
    or don’t talk, don’t just chatter, and how about we just stand in companionable silence...
  • Oh the irony
    One of the production team behind The Political Sword regularly attends
    a trivia night at a local pub. Recently the host (who runs a company that
    hosts multiple trivia nights every night of the week — so he’s pretty good
    at finding obscure facts) made the claim that 49 percent of Australians
    are either immigrants or one/both their parents are immigrants.
  • Five shades of faded blue
    How well the ancient Biblical words apply to the Coalition:
    ”How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle...thou wast
    slain in thine high places, and the weapons of war perished!”.
    The true-blue Liberal flag, once graced with rich shades of competence,
    efficiency, endeavour, diligence and success, now flies tattered, limp and washed out.
  • The Culture Wars
    The Liberal Party cultural wars are having a detrimental effect on the rest of
    us. Here are two examples. Without rehashing old news, Australia had a
    functioning carbon pricing and emissions trading scheme around 5 years ago.
    It was canned by the Abbott government after mounting the mother of all scare
    campaigns about $100 lamb roasts and the town of Whyalla being wiped off the map.
  • The energy road to nowhere
    Are you as exasperated and disgusted as I am with the political
    antics exposed during the renewed debate about energy policy?
    Are you appalled by our parliamentarian’s persistent inability to
    collaborate in making decisions about how to tackle climate change?
    These are rhetorical questions. I know the answers.

The Political Sword

Get the inside track on the media and government.

The politics of marriage

While Australia had a uniform Marriage Act from 1961 until 2004, there was nothing specific (except for common law) that prohibited marriage of two people of the same gender. The requirement that marriage was between a man and woman was only inserted into the act by the Howard Government. The ...

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The $19,990 special

The amount of ink spilled in the analysis of the 2015 Australian budget would probably fill Sydney Harbour. The number of electrons expended in the same way would probably light up a small town for a week. There is no need to add to the consumption of electrons here. Instead, let’s look at the sales...

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The unhappy marriage of democracy and capitalism

Most Western countries, including Greece and Australia, have a system of democratic-capitalism. It marries a democratic political system with a capitalist economic system and they are perceived as being well-matched because both are founded on philosophies about individual freedom. It is, howe...

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NAPLAN — a guide or a competition

Most educational institutions in Australia have a ‘tag line’ — a statement that is supposed to be a pithy description of what the entire school community believes in. It isn’t surprising that a lot of the ‘tag lines’ have something to do with recognising the individual talents of each student and ...

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Government budget trickery

I would like to state upfront that I already had the word ‘trickery’ in this title before Bill Shorten used it in his Budget Reply speech. I could say he stole it from me but I suspect he thought of it himself. It is such an appropriate word for this budget. One thing Bill Shorten didn’t m...

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Hope for the homeless

Throughout the world there are people who ’sleep rough’ every night. For a few, that is the way they choose to spend their lives; for the majority, however, the habit is not one of choice or desire — the choice is made for them due to circumstances relating to employment or their personal live...

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Are budgets worth the paper they’re written on?

In this little exercise I have gone through commonwealth government budgets from 1999‒2000 to 2013‒14 to study changes in the figures. The figures for each budget can vary quite significantly. For quite a few years now we have had the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) which up...

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The saga of Billy Gordon

On January 31 this year, Billy Gordon joined a very select group — indigenous members of parliament in Australia. He won the seat of Cook in far north Queensland from the LNP and joined the Queensland parliament as part of the minority ALP government. Late in March, the State parliament sat for ...

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Beware, there is a plan

There is much talk about the ‘chaos’ of the Abbott government but take a close look at what has been done, what it is talking about, and the reports it is gathering together. We need to look beyond the political catch-cries of the ‘debt and deficit disaster’ and ‘Labor’s mess’ and examine what is d...

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Instant Experts

To be in public life you need to have a sense of self-belief. How else would you cope with those that feel they can criticise your actions, private life, as well as decisions you have made in the past? ‘Stars’ such as elite sports professionals, actors, performers and so on can demonstrate that th...

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How the economic rationalists tried to steal our hearts and minds

At the start of the year in my piece ‘Proud to be a bigot’ I mentioned that, before Abbott, Australian governments tended to look after those who were ‘down on their luck’. It was a phrase with which I grew up. People who were unemployed were not ‘dole bludgers’ ...

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The ‘trickle-down’ effect

Next time a conservative politician or acquaintance tells you that tax cuts for the better off will help the state or nation’s economy, you might want to have ‘the discussion’. Tax cuts for the better off is part of a theory of economics known as ‘trickle-down’ that se...

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Intergenerational Reports: what are they on about?

There have now been four Intergenerational Reports (IGR) from 2002  to 2015, issued by three treasurers: Costello (2),  Swan  and Hockey.  They were meant to come out at five-yearly intervals but Swan (and Rudd, although officially they are the Treasurer’s report) brought f...

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Does social media influence politics?

The new fashion in Australian politics seems to be leadership change. In the past ten years, we’ve seen Rudd overthrown by Gillard (only to succeed in a subsequent challenge a couple of years later), three federal opposition leaders in the Rudd/Gillard government era, the overthrow of a Victorian p...

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Surprise, surprise …

Not very long ago, during the annual meltdown into the pleasantly torpid stasis that is the great Aussie January holiday time, Peter van Onselen zapped out this Tweet: From van Onselen, that was quite, well, shocking. More especially because just two days before he had tweeted: Peter van Onse...

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President Abbott: or why prime ministers should not be immune from removal by their party

After the failure of the ‘spill’ motion on 9 February, Abbott said: We think that when you elect a government, when you elect a prime minister, you deserve to keep that government and that prime minister until you have had a chance to change your mind. Ignoring that the polls were in...

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But we’ve done tax reform – haven’t we? (Part 2)

Last week we briefly looked at some of the problems with the current tax system. It seems that a number of those who should have a high level of understanding of the fundamental flaws in the current taxation system agree that the system needs reform. Price Waterhouse Coopers suggest: . . . there ...

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But we’ve done tax reform – haven’t we?

Here’s a tip for 2015. If the Abbott Government can remove the current opinion polls and stories of excess and incompetence from the front pages, it has been signalling that it intends to tackle ‘tax reform’ during the life of the current government. It wouldn’t be the first...

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Abbott continues to tell porkies

I was surprised during last December (and again in the past week after the unsuccessful spill motion) when Abbott and his ministers reverted to the line that the LNP government had inherited a huge budget deficit from Labor. Early in December they were claiming that Labor had been deceitful by goi...

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If you doubt the scientists, what about the actuaries?

There’s an old adage that if you want to know who will win an election follow the bookmakers’ odds or where the punters are putting their money rather than the polls (particularly when the polls are close). Something similar could be said of climate change. For Mr Abbott and others like...

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