• There is no Planet B
    This was written in the immediate aftermath of the Christchurch terror
    attack where 50 innocent people (at the time of writing) were gunned down
    by a lone gunman. It was going to be a rant against a number of
    Australian politicians who use racism and terrorism to further their own objectives.
  • We're not mugs Scomo!
    Do you become as infuriated as I do at the sheer insolence of
    PM Morrison and his spokespersons when they feed us arrant
    nonsense about their policies, when they serve us up implausible
    readings of political events and the economy, when they treat us
    like mugs who will swallow any story they toss out?
  • Institutional respect
    In the past week or so, it was announced that last December a jury of his
    peers had found George Pell guilty of a number of heinous crimes against
    children. While Pell is (at the time of writing) planning to appeal the conviction,
    at this stage the facts are that after a trial where the jury could not agree,
    a subsequent trial jury unanimously found him guilty.
  • Intransigence
    The title for this piece came from an enlightening interview in the
    ABC’s One Plus One series. David Marr was the subject
    and Julia Baird the interviewer. She cleverly yet tactfully explored the
    inner workings of Marr’s mind and his struggle as a gay man in a
    society that looked askance at gays.
  • This is Scott
    Scott tells us he is rather important and considering he is Prime Minister of Australia,
    he is probably correct to a large extent. Scott wants everyone to like him and when the
    election happens sometime in the next few months, Scott wants us all to dutifully go to the
    Polling Place and support the local Coalition candidate, because he leads the Coalition Government
    and has the best interests of Australia at heart. In Scott’s world view ‘Everything is awesome.’
  • The face of arrogance
    Although he’s been PM only since August of last year, it feels
    as if he’s been in the top job for much longer. His accidental
    election in the wake of the ill-planned Dutton grab for prime
    ministership has not inhibited him one jot.

The Political Sword

Get the inside track on the media and government.

Bankers 3 Democracy 0 with Abbott running the sideline

In a piece in June, ‘The unhappy marriage of democracy and capitalism’, I discussed the then situation in Greece and the way democracy was being ignored by the wielders of economic power, particularly the bankers and the power brokers of the financial system. Since then the bankers have won, t...

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The challenge of renewables

Later this year a conference will be held in Paris that will determine the global response to climate change. While the international jockeying has commenced, it seems there is a ‘tipping point’ that, if exceeded, will ensure that the world will never be the same again. Australia’s contributio...

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Funding health: part 2

This week I focus on the future of commonwealth government health funding and begin with consideration of the role of the Medicare levy in commonwealth government spending. While health expenditure may increase so does revenue from the Medicare levy so long as wages and the workforce continue...

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Funding health: part 1

Earlier in the year, there was much talk by the government about the ‘unsustainable’ growth of health funding. In July, the premier of NSW, Mike Baird, joined the party suggesting that the GST should be raised to 15% to help cover rising health costs. But how bad is the situation? In 2012‒13...

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Doin’ the GST-a-rosy rag

Got a PM, PM we can’t trust Said a higher GST is a must Doin’ the GST-a-rosy-rag Told the voters you must pay If you want to see a surgeon on another day He was doin’ the GST-a-rosy-rag Been around, and new is old Catch your cold and blow your gold and spend Doin’ the GST-a-rosy-rag ...

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Winter winds, wind farms and hot air

About this time of the year the all-year-round residents of Canberra enjoy a reprieve from the hot air produced on Capital Hill. Pity is that this usually combines with winds that come from the Antarctic via the Snowy Mountains to make Canberra shiver through another winter of sub-zero morning...

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How did we get a multi-party Westminster system? Part 2

[The opening of Australia’s first parliament by Tom Roberts] Last week I gave a brief outline of how the Westminster parliamentary system evolved in England. Then came Australia which largely adopted the British parliamentary system and recognised the British monarch as head of state. I ...

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How did we get a multi-party Westminster system? Part 1

[Charles I in parliament: ‘Attempted arrest of the five members’ by Charles West Cope] Earlier this year we had a couple of pieces that raised issues about the parliamentary and party system in Australia (‘President Abbott’ and ‘Instant Experts’) and in June we had the 800th anniversary of Ma...

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Where will we be in 50 years?

In the next few months, most Australians will be considering their financial affairs and the preparation of their annual tax return. It is usually a time for some questioning around how you did manage to spend all that money in the past year and what changes you can make to become thriftier in...

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A failure of the Left

This is a piece about politics but not the politics we normally discuss on TPS. It is a tale of two radical youth: one from the late1960s (me) and one from the 2010s (Jake Bilardi). You probably know the story of Jake Bilardi, the young Australian who early in March became a suicide bomber...

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Where does Abbott really stand on national security?

The idea of ‘national security’ arises from the ‘social contract’ referred to by political philosophers. The concept is that the people gave the power to enforce rules and punishments to their leaders, whether monarchs or elected governments, in return for ‘protection’. Otherwise, in going abo...

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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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