• The shiny new toy
    Now that the election is over it is time for a bit of reflection.
    Logistics behind the operation of this site mean this article is
    not a who won what and why; rather we’ll be looking at why a
    number of the smaller parties seem to have punched above
    their weight, and some possible reasons for their ‘popularity’.
  • The cupboard was bare!
    It wasn’t easy getting into the nerve centre of the LNP – the
    secret place where talking points, election strategies and day
    to day tactics are brainstormed by the Coalition’s eggheads in
    the dead of night – but eventually, more by good luck than
    good management, I found myself in the inner sanctum.
  • He hit me first!
    We all have memories of a child bawling its eyes out after being
    clobbered by another kid. We also have memories of the offender’s
    customary excuse: ‘He hit me first!’. We tend to label such behaviour as
    ‘kids stuff’. But how many of you expected grown-up politicians to ape them?
  • Fear, deception and gravitas
    Enjoying the election coverage? Essentially it is the day to day analysis
    of the political leaders of this country racking up the kilometres to appear
    in ‘strategic’ locations, with nodding sycophants behind them answering the
    same or similar questions as they did yesterday to the same tired and bored journalists.
  • No, they won't learn
    I was motivated to write my last piece: 'Will they ever learn?' after viewing the first
    Question Time of the recent sitting of the House of Representatives. Some our most
    senior politicians, immediately after showing that they were capable of courtesy and
    decent discourse, went on to display offensively aggressive behaviour towards each
    other, all in the full glare of the cameras, knowing that the world would see them as they were.
  • Three Years Later
    In 2016, we published 36 Faceless men, comparing the ‘need’
    for Australian political parties to have an absolute majority when
    forming a government versus the preferred outcome in other countries
    where a coalition of political parties have to work together to form a government.

The Political Sword

Get the inside track on the media and government.

An accolade for Julia Gillard: a fine prime minister

Wondering what word I should use in the title to best capture my opinion of our first female prime minister, now sadly at the end of her period in federal politics, I have chosen ‘fine’. Of high quality, clear, pure, refined, delicate, subtle, exquisitely fashioned, elevated, capable of ...

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Who will Newspoll kill off next?

During this week past we saw Newspoll: The Killing Machine in lethal action. Ironically, it was her own party members who took the ammunition from Newspoll, aimed it at Julia Gillard’s heart, and killed her politically. Although polls are no more than a snapshot of public opinion, they have ag...

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Newspoll: The Killing Machine

In the following thirty-six hours the next Newspoll will be published. If it is as poor a result for Labor as was last week's Nielsen Poll, the leadership frenzy will reach an even more feverish pitch. Frantic media packs will jostle to assail every politician entering and leaving parliament, thrust...

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The culture of disrespect

In the week just gone there was an extraordinary coincidence of events that starkly reminded us of just how much disrespect contaminates our society, most of it directed towards women. It is a scourge that dates back for centuries, one though that the forward-looking fondly believed was losing groun...

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What is the role of political blogsites?

Political blogsites proliferate almost by the week. Many reside in the Fifth Estate. While a few declare their political orientation overtly, most do not. It is possible though to ascertain this by reading the pieces they post. While some purport to be ‘balanced’, ready to criticize any ...

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Political hatred: Is there a remedy?

The short answer to the question is ‘Yes’. The longer answer is ‘Yes’, but with a string of caveats. While the piece just gone: Political hatred: its genesis and its toll, attempted to define the origins of political hatred and describe the terrible damage it is causing, the ...

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Political hatred: its genesis and its toll

We’ve known for ages that there are pockets of political hatred in the electorate that fester away and erupt from time to time, pouring their purulent discharge over the political discourse, offending many with its stench. But how many of you can remember such an exhibition of hatred as we hav...

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Who's been playing in MY estate? Yet more ferment in the fourth and fifth

When is a writer not a journalist but a blogger, and when is a writer/blogger a journalist? Who decides? Does it matter? Traditional or mainstream or 'old' media, and its power affiliates, are pushing back at the moment against the proliferation of small 'new media' online ventures fighting to be h...

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Feathers Fly at the Federal Chook House

Gather around kiddies and I’ll tell you a story.  Once upon a time there was a large farm where many farmyard animals lived. It was a very special ‘Animal Farm’. The farmer loved all his animals, but most of all his big flock of chooks. The farmer loved chooks so much he coll...

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Living within our means, Hockey style

You have to give it to the Coalition propaganda machine – it never fails to come up with a brand new slogan with which it can belabor the Government. We are now being told by Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey that we must ‘live within our means’. How many times have we heard that? Otherwi...

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Grasping at prime ministership the Abbott way

Let’s be clear from the outset. The lead up to the September 14 election will not be a respectful contest of ideas, a civil battle of policies and plans. It will be a bare-knuckle street fight between personalities, with no holds barred. The Abbott way countenances no other approach. To seize ...

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David Marr joins ‘the most successful Opposition leader’ chorus

The first words in the online description of David Marr’s Quarterly Essay: Political Animal: The Making of Tony Abbott read: “Tony Abbott is the most successful Opposition leader of the last forty years, but he has never been popular. Now Australians want to know: what kind of man is he,...

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Policy making through the rear-view mirror

“We drive into the future using only our rear-view mirror” was one of the many notable aphorisms of Marshall McLuhan, Canadian philosopher, futurist, and communications theorist of the sixties. If ever there was an image that captures Tony Abbott’s approach to public policy, this ...

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Abbott and the Murdoch, Rinehart, Pell connection

Voters need seriously to contemplate what it would be like to have an Abbott Government. They need to dig deeper than the slick slogans, the oft repeated mantras, the weasel words, the deviousness, and the blatant lies that escape Abbott’s lips day after day. They need to ask what makes this m...

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What was Leigh Sales’ intent with PM Gillard?

As Leigh Sales interviewed Prime Minister Julia Gillard on 7.30 last week, was she hoping it might remind viewers of her interview of Tony Abbott six months earlier, one that attracted widespread applause for its probing, her persistence, and her command of the interview? Looking back, she may be di...

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Polls perpetually poison politics

Imagine that last Thursday an alien arrived from Mars. He picked up the papers and read that the leader of this nation is under threat of losing her position. He wondered why. He is surprised that she is female. He speaks to a normal-looking local. For the sake of this piece, let’s imagine th...

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How to vote: first examine your values

How do voters decide on where to cast their vote? For some it is automatic, even unthinking. They have voted this way before, maybe always. They are the rusted-on voters. For many though, it's a question of “What’s in it for me?” “What will I gain if I vote this way and what...

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Cool courage trumps cringing cowardice

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
 Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the king's horses and all the king's men
 Couldn't put Humpty together again. For many of the opinionistas, PM Gillard is Humpty Dumpty. They insist that she has had a great fall, indeed one fall after another, and no amount of effo...

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The curse of the opinionistas

Reflect on how often you have heard a Fourth Estate political commentator argue: “Because of this set of facts, I am of the opinion that so and so is true”? Seldom. How often have you heard one of them say: “My opinion is based on the following propositions…”? Practica...

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Tony Abbott, Joe Hockey, stop killing confidence

How many times have you heard commentators lamenting how low consumer and business confidence have become? Time and again. How many times have you seen journalists attempting to analyse why? Very few. How many times have you seen them sheet home any of the lack of confidence among consumers and busi...

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