• Was Amtrak Joe derailed?
    Prior to becoming President, Joe Biden was a US Senator for around
    36 years. He is known as Amtrak Joe as he routinely took the daily 90
    minute each way train trip (on the USA’s national passenger train network
    - Amtrak) from his home in Delaware to Washington DC to represent his state.
  • If employers can measure well-being...
    Last September, you might have seen Qantas CEO Alan Joyce
    received a pay increase of $278,000 per annum. It seems that Joyce
    has met or exceeded the performance goals set by his employers and
    contractually has earned the reward. It does, however, raise a larger question.
  • Coming back to haunt you
    In his recent Budget reply speech, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton
    laboured (pun intended) on the increasingly difficult to achieve promise by
    Prime Minister Albanese that power bills will be $275 less in 2025. While the
    government is claiming the modelling done in 2021 supports the accuracy of
    the promise, 2021 modelling doesn’t account for changes in circumstances since then.
  • The good economic units
    Wellbeing and politics have collided in the past couple of weeks.
    Federal Treasurer Dr Jim Chalmers has started a conversation about
    measuring the ‘wellbeing’ of the nation as a result of the measures in the
    budget. The Opposition, as you would expect, has poured scorn on the idea.
  • Do you want to smile or frown
    Recently, in what could be described as an epic fail in recruiting
    practices, the Essendon Football Club hired and accepted the
    resignation of the same CEO within a day. The issue was that the
    CEO was also the Chairman of ‘City on the Hill’, a church that seems
    to promote some conservative views on the way people live their lives.
  • We can do it better
    It was probably co-incidental that the Australian Conservative
    Political Action Conference (CPAC) was held in Sydney around the
    time the NRL and AFL finals were occurring. CPAC originally
    advertised the conference would be at Luna Park — until
    Luna Park claimed they had never had a booking.

The Political Sword

Get the inside track on the media and government.

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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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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