• Mutually assured destruction
    A few years ago, we were in Canada. One cool and wet day in
    St Jacobs, Ontario (a couple of hours west of Toronto), we walked
    into a building dedicated to The Mennonite Story because it
    looked dry and warm inside. Unsurprisingly, the building went someway
    towards explaining the history and beliefs of the Mennonite Church
  • 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’.

The Political Sword

Get the inside track on the media and government.

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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The economy – who can we believe?

Nobody really knows how we got into the financial mess we’re in, or how to get out of it.  Nobody knows what the stock market will do this week, next week, next month.  No less a figure than Warren Buffett said in an Op Ed piece in the New York Times last week “I can&rsq...

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Media melancholy

‘Melancholy’ is an old fashioned word derived from medieval medicine; it literally means ‘black bile’, an excess of which was believed to cause depression.  ‘Depressed’, which now carries a specific taxonomic meaning, seems to be an inappropriate word to ch...

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To quibble or not to quibble

It was just last Tuesday, 14 October, when Malcolm Turnbull announced the Coalition’s willing bipartisan support for the Government’s $10.4 billion package to stimulate Australia’s slowing economy.  In a doorstop, he and his deputy added that the Coalition would not quibble ...

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Kevin Rudd – all action, no talk

After months of hearing and reading the “all talk no action” mantra, it would be too much to now expect the reverse after the announcement yesterday of the $10 billion ‘boost to the economy’.  Some journalists got close.  In today’s issue of The Australian P...

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Malcolm’s at it again

In several pieces on The Political Sword it has been argued that Malcolm Turnbull is at his best when he’s advocating ideas and actions in which he believes, but when he’s required to promote that in which he does not have his heart, he flounders and is unconvincing.  Over the las...

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What’s got into our TV interviewers?

This piece is prompted by two recent episodes where the PM was interviewed in a manner that could only be described as aggressive, if not downright rude. We know that politicians enjoy lowly status in the respectability stakes.  Broken promises, speaking with a forked tongue and partisa...

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Andrew Bolt – Pied Piper to his bloggers

Watching Andrew Bolt on ABC TV’s Insiders yesterday, I wondered when last he was subjected to the same critical judgment to which he so eagerly subjects others. This prompted the idea for a series on The Political Sword on how we perceive our political journalists, with Bolt as first under t...

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The corrosive effect of political slogans

Spin doctors love slogans.  Their focus groups test them for efficacy.  They launch them, repeat them incessantly until their use-by date, then go onto the next.  They know the corrosive effect the negative ones can have on those to whom they’re applied.  The media too lo...

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Why is the Opposition antagonizing the banks?

Isn’t it curious that the conservative side of politics, the free-marketeers, are now at loggerheads with the banks.  All the more so with a leader who is an ex-merchant banker. It was the previous Treasurer who defended so fiercely the independence of the Reserve Bank, and indeed...

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So will interest rates now always be lower under Labor?

It’s almost a year since John Howard parted the scene, but his mantra “Interest rates will always be lower under the Coalition” still rings in our ears.  It was powerful, memorable and effective, except at the last election, when so many of the people stopped believing it, o...

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Why do so many in the media enjoy a beat-up?

This morning on ABC 774 radio, Kathy Bedford, a temporary morning announcer, raised the matter of a brutal assault on Dr Mukesh Haikerwell, past President of the AMA, that resulted in his being admitted to the Western General Hospital in suburban Melbourne for ‘brain surgery’.  Fo...

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What should we expect from the Shadow Treasurer?

When Brendon Nelson unexpectedly pipped Malcolm Turnbull for leadership of the Coalition last year, even although the Liberal convention is to allow the Deputy Leader to choose a portfolio, it was expected that Nelson would offer Turnbull the post of Shadow Treasurer.  That’s what happe...

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Could the media tide be turning?

It might surprise those who believe the media, particularly News Limited, is anti-Government and pro-Coalition, that some Coalition supporters believe the media is pro-Government and not nearly hard enough on Kevin Rudd and his ministers.  Perspective governs perception.  For those who b...

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The Cringe Dwellers

When the Prime Minister announced his recent trip to the US, the ‘cringe dwellers’ emerged in numbers.  First the Opposition coined what it thought were cute descriptors: ‘Kevin 747’ and ‘Prime Tourist’, which apart from giving it some amusement, exposed an...

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The Turnbull Report Card 10 days in

10 days ago Malcolm Turnbull became Leader of the Opposition at a time of intense political activity and global financial turmoil.  This is one view of how he’s travelling. As argued in another post: Will the real Malcolm Turnbull please stand up? Turnbull’s performance va...

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Integrity in journalism

How do you react to journalists who quote ‘informed sources’ or ‘senior public servants’ or ‘experienced politicians’ but never name them?  How much credence do you place on such anonymous sources?  How reliable do you believe this ‘reporting&rsq...

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Do we want our Prime Minister to travel overseas?

Just when it was hoped that a change of leader might bring a less opportunistic approach to opposition than did Brendan Nelson, Malcolm Turnbull outdoes his predecessor by turning up the heat on Kevin Rudd about his visit to the US.  We all know why Rudd is going – to speak to the...

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Political commentating as a blood sport

Political commentators thrive on controversy, upheaval, changing fortunes, changing circumstances.  They particularly enjoy a contest between political parties, between opposing leaders and between ministers and their counterparts, and the more bloodshed the better.  They are like specta...

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The ‘ain’t it awful’ syndrome

The Liberal Party is still mourning its loss of Government.  As pointed out by Maxine McKew on the ABC TV’s Q&A last Thursday, Peter Costello’s Memoirs, written well after the loss, express surprise that a Government that had done so much, which had governed Australia during s...

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