• 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.

Why does Malcolm Turnbull make so many mistakes?

A man with a background like Malcolm Turnbull shouldn’t make so many mistakes.  An ex-merchant banker, Goldman Sachs manager, businessman, barrister, politician and Opposition Leader should be more perspicacious.  He doesn’t seem to understand what he’s doing. Ear...

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Turnbull’s benchmarks for failure

Dennis Shanahan was the first to use the term ‘benchmark’ in his 27 November piece in The Australian Rudd sails on perilous waters to identify the criteria of success, or failure, of the Rudd Government’s budget strategy according to the economic oracle, Malcolm Turnbull. L...

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The genius in the Opposition

We’ve a pretty smart Government, but what would it be without the guidance of the genius that suffuses the Opposition benches? Ever since the top genius was elected to the position of Opposition Leader, there has been a flood of sage advice flowing from him to the Government on al...

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The ‘deficit’ wedge

In an earlier piece on The Political Sword The emerging Opposition strategy I wrote that one of Malcolm Turnbull’s strategies “...seems to be to try to anticipate Government moves and pre-empt them by stating what should be done, and occasionally what he would do.  The former...

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Rudd’s First Year – What the papers say

The weekend and today’s media have been full of assessments of Kevin Rudd’s and his Government’s first year. First the positive.  Paul Kelly writing in The Weekend Australian 22-23 November begins his piece First among equals with “Kevin Rudd never imagined a yea...

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Blog Watch

This new page points to material posted on political websites, initially in Australia.  It can be accessed by clicking the Blog Watch link in the upper right margin under 'site pages'.  It is provided as a service along the lines Crikey provides Richard Farmer's Breakfast Med...

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The gathering media assault on Rudd-speak

The call for Kevin Rudd to use his speechwriter seems to be gathering momentum.  There have been calls for this from Bob Hawke, Paul Keating’s speech-writer, Don Watson, Bob Ellis and sundry columnists, most recently Samantha Maiden, online political editor for The Australian in a piece...

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The Rudd Report Card one year in

Since the anniversary of the election of the Rudd Government is now upon us, a handful of commentators have already attempted an appraisal of Kevin Rudd’s first year.  Their focus has been more on Rudd than his Government.  The general tenor is that, almost grudgingly, they acknowl...

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Will world leaders do a climate change Nero?

Last week, two young women, concerned about the environment, made the telling comment on TV that those who will make decisions about climate change mitigation will be dead by the time their efforts at mitigation will be felt; they will not have to live with their decisions, good or bad. The ...

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The emerging Opposition strategy

Malcolm Turnbull believes the Coalition can win the next federal election.  To do so he has to reverse the stubbornly persistent opinion polls that show the Coalition is around ten points behind the Government on a two-party preferred basis, and he is now 40 points behind Kevin Rudd as prefer...

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The hazard of uncertainty

For most people uncertainty is an uncomfortable feeling.  Yet we are forced to live with it every day.  The farmer wonders if rain will arrive in time to save his crop.  Many a cancer sufferer lives with the uncertainty of cure or recurrence.   The self-funded retiree endu...

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Barack Obama’s message to Australian politics

Barack Obama began his acceptance speech “If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.” &...

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Glenn Milne – the mischievous journalist

If a politician or bureaucrat wants to gain some publicity for a rumour, some gossip, or a little dirt on an opponent, or wants to make a damaging leak or insert an uncomfortable wedge, to whom would he or she go?  High on the list would be Glenn Milne, the mischievous maestro of scuttlebutt ...

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The CPRS, Treasury modelling, and the predictable reaction

Now that the long-awaited Treasury modelling for the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme has arrived, it is a salutary exercise to check how well the predicted reactions of the players match their actual response. Predictably the Government has used the modelling to reinforce its determination...

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The bank guarantee – what does the Opposition and the media really believe?

Ever since the Rudd Government announced its guarantee for deposits in banks, credit unions and building societies there has been a running commentary from the Opposition and the media about that move.  After a brief flirtation with bipartisanship, following Tony Abbott’s dictum that op...

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The national interest versus political expediency

When Kevin Rudd likened the effect of the global financial crisis on Australians to a rolling national security crisis, he was ridiculed by Malcolm Turnbull and the media, and cartoons of Rudd in fire-fighting gear soon appeared.  But Rudd was right.  The calamity facing us already has h...

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Where has reason flown?

That so many investors seem to be making unreasoned decisions and dumping stock as share prices fall is understandable if they are, as has been described, in a state of blind panic, occasioned by unremitting fear.  But that state of unreason should not infect journalists, who ought to be able...

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A plain man’s glossary of finance market terms

To understand what parliamentarians are talking about in Question Time on the current financial upheaval, what the finance experts are saying in the business media, or even what the news bulletins mean, a working knowledge of financial terms is handy.  So this a compilation of terms that un...

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Much ado about nothing

UPDATED 23 October So the latest saga has come and almost gone.  The Coalition, which began with a much-vaunted promise of bipartisanship, has now reverted to form.  It has accused the Government of bungling the most important financial move it has made, the Bank Deposit Guarantee;...

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The great media awakening

Ever since he became Leader of the Opposition, the relationship between the media and Kevin Rudd has been patchy.  While he, with Joe Hockey, once enjoyed a convivial regular association with Channel Seven, a connection that still exists, and while his appearances on Channel Ten’s Rove ...

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