• Is adversarial politics damaging our democracy?
    It was twelve years ago that I wrote ‘Is adversarial politics
    damaging our democracy?’ Some of that piece is reproduced
    below because recent political events demonstrate that its
    messages are as relevant today as they were then.
  • Nationalism really isn't easy
    If you said that someone has money to burn, you mean that
    they have far more money than they need or that they simply
    spend their money on things that you think are unnecessary
    or not socially acceptable.
  • The Trump dilemma
    Don’t get me wrong. Trump is not the dilemma to which I’m referring. His
    behaviour is no longer a quandary. With every word he utters, with every
    tweet, he confirms that his mental state continues to deteriorate to the point
    where commentator after commentator expresses astonishment and alarm at his
    outlandish reactions to the social and political environment in which he finds himself.
  • Information and critical thinking do matter
    When Prime Minister Morrison was advised there was the risk of uncontrolled
    spread of a deadly pandemic on the horizon early this year, he was slightly
    wiser than at Christmas when he left a burning Australia in the ‘capable’
    hands of Deputy Prime Minister and National Party Leader Michael McCormack.
  • Morrison morphs into ‘Strict Father’ mode
    Back in 2013, I wrote a piece with the curious title:
    The myth of political sameness.
    Its purpose was to debunk the commonly held
    view that ‘politicians are all the same’.
  • Double standards
    There has been general praise for the Australian Governments
    (at all levels) and their management of the COVID19 pandemic.
    While the politicians signed off on the decisions, they listened to
    and generally acted on the advice of the state and federal CMOs.

The Political Sword

Get the inside track on the media and government.

So You Think You Can Dance?

Watching the 10 Network’s So You Think You Can Dance on Sunday night reminded me of the political season about to begin this week. The ikonic show, about undiscovered wannabees who, enraptured by high hopes of stardom and fame, enter a multi-stage dance competition – with us as i...

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The political dilemma of an ageing population

We all accept that Australia’s population is ageing.  Demographic evidence shows that life expectancy at birth is now 78.9 years for males and 83.6 years for females.  These figures are from the CIA World Factbook 2009 and from the 2006 revision of the United Nations World Populati...

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The Grumpy Old Denialist Party

Bushfire Bill struck a respondent chord when he argued the case that the Liberal Party had earned the label ‘The Grumpy Old Party’.  In commenting on this piece, Bilko said “...a pervasive state of denial afflicts the Coalition”, and Michael said the same when he wrote...

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The Grumpy Old Party

What is it with Julie Bishop, the she feels she always has to spit her words out? There's a feeling of permanent anger, or barely concealed contempt, of 'Mrs Bitch' in everything she says. This morning on the radio she was still rabbiting on about the Schools Stimulus. Its s...

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Why I am annoyed with Kevin Rudd...and why I’m not

This afternoon I heard Christopher Pyne on ABC afternoon radio in Sydney, going on about how spending $16 billion on the Building The Education Revolution schools program was a waste. As usual, I became hot under the collar listening to him, because the guy has figured out how to breathe through h...

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Bushfire Bill joins The Political Sword as a guest contributor

First, welcome to The Political Sword 2010 at the beginning of an election year that promises to be even more frenetic than the last.  During January, while Ad astra takes a break, Bushfire Bill, who has made many penetrating and witty contributions to this and other political blogs, wi...

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The Rudd years

As the Rudd Government begins its third year, it seems an appropriate time to review its first two.  As a mental exercise let’s imagine the words or phrases that might best describe the progress of the Government towards its stated goals, and similarly those that characterize the perfor...

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The pugilistic politician

Tony Abbott’s recent threat to ‘give the Government the fright of its life’ is code for the new leader’s real metaphor – to give the Government the fight of its life. Have you noticed how aggressive and combative Abbott has become since his election?  He ha...

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Dennis Shanahan is at it again

Dear Dennis Just when we thought you’d got the knack of interpreting Newspoll results objectively and rationally, you disappoint us by reverting to your old form of squeezing the very last drop of positive news from the figures to boost the Coalition, omitting reference to aspects of t...

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Liberals turn up another dud

Was Tony Abbott the most astonished person after last Tuesday’s ballot for Leader of the Opposition?  If one can judge from his performance over the last few days, he was not only astonished but also seriously unprepared for such high office. But if you look at what he’s sai...

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He did it his way

There are countless commentators writing about the ‘Turnbull wreck’ and what might emerge from it.  Almost every hour brings some new angle.  At the time of writing on the evening of November 30, it seems as if the spill motion on December 1 will be opposed on principle by Jo...

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The Formula One Coalition Race

Every time it seemed a suitable time to comment on the leadership of the Coalition, the story changed.  Acknowledging that, like a fast moving Formula One race, there would never be a time when the prediction of the outcome would be extant for more than a brief period, I thought it wiser...

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The sad state of Australia’s MSM

How is it that the only papers I could find while in Phuket and Singapore, The International Herald Tribune – The Global Edition of the New York Times, The Bangkok Post, and Singapore’s The Straits Times carried articles so much superior to those in most of Australia’s MSM? ...

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Foreign Ministers’ quiet voice of reason

Amid all the shrill and often disingenuous comments thrown around by politicians and many media commentators, it was comforting to listen to the quiet voice of reason of our own Foreign Minister Stephen Smith, speaking on the 7.30 Report last night, and that of Indonesia’s Foreign Minister M...

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Which journalists do you trust on asylum seekers?

What a flurry of articles on asylum seekers we’ve had over the last couple of weeks.  Journalists have not taken a consistent position on this subject; there seems to be a wide variety of opinions about how the situation has occurred and what should be done about it.  This piece tr...

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'The Insiders' gives us ‘insight’ on border protection

Last Sunday’s episode of The Insiders included an extraordinary segment titled “Border protection to test Rudd's popularity - The panel discuss how the controversy surrounding Australia's asylum seeker policies is going to effect Kevin Rudd's popularity.”  Too ba...

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Don’t poke the media – it might bite

Have you noticed how sensitive the media is becoming to criticism from politicians?  The rules of its game are that the media is entitled to criticise politicians ad nauseam, whether or not it has its facts right, whether or not its interpretation of them is accurate, whether or not the subje...

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The folly of resurrecting the dead

It was not the surprise reappearance of a smiling Philip Ruddock on TV that was unnerving; it was not his assertion that 10,000 more asylum seekers were ‘in the pipeline’, it was not even his inability to explain how he derived that figure; it was the stark imagery of a past era floodi...

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The curse of the electoral cycle

When politicians make pronouncements, how do you know whether they are spin or genuinely believed?  When they do spin a story it’s their veracity that is called into question.  But when they seem genuinely to believe what they’re saying, it’s their judgement that is que...

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After Turnbull

Despite the caution implicit in Mark Twain’s statement about his reported death being an exaggeration, columnists are almost universally predicting Malcolm Turnbull’s political demise.  Here are some of their dire predictions. Michelle Grattan's piece in The Age yesterda...

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