Enjoy a new era at The Political Sword

On Saturday, 13 September 2008 Ad astra wrote: ‘This is the first posting of The Political Sword blog. Its focus is Australian politics. It is intended to give expression to those who have opinions about contemporary political events. In particular it will provide a forum for exposing deception among politicians, bureaucrats and commentators.

‘The people deserve to know the truth about political decisions, how and why they were made, and about those who made them. They are entitled to know if political commentators are truthfully representing the situations they are reporting, and that they make clear what is fact, and what is opinion. They owe it to their readers to validate the facts they report and reveal their source.

‘By challenging politicians and commentators to stick to the truth and to justify their words and actions, it is possible that the quality of political discourse in this country might improve. The Internet provides ordinary citizens with the opportunity to influence political behaviour between elections, rather than only at election time.

‘Politicians, journalists and academics read political blogs - they are bound to be influenced by them, at least to some extent.

‘Al Gore said that political blogs have become a significant new force in political debate and decision making in the US. The same opportunity exists in this country to put politicians and commentators to the verbal political sword

Over six years later, the words apply even more than when they were written. Blogs and social media now do impinge on politicians; sometimes the politicians do hear what the ordinary person says and sometimes they do respond. But their honesty and their transparency has not improved; indeed it seems to have deteriorated, most noticeably since the 2013 election.

When in September 2013, at the same time as Lyn, who provided TPS users with comprehensive links to political material day after day for many years, Ad astra decided to step back from TPS, Janet (jan@j4gypsy), not wanting to see it disappear, moved in and organised a team that has maintained the site ever since. In Ad astra’s words: “Her organisational skill, and the dedication of TPS team members have been outstanding. They have authored, sought other authors, reviewed, edited, and coded countless pieces that have appeared week after week on TPS.”

Over time the nature of our author contributions has evolved. In recent months, the emphasis of most pieces has been on the philosophical aspects of politics, with a focus on economics. The pieces have been learned treatises on the chosen subject, well researched and referenced with many links, fascinating and valuable reading that has evoked reflection and deep thought about the matters that influence politics profoundly. Because these matters are seldom addressed by politicians in their discourse with the public, and are usually neglected by mainstream media journalists, the electorate has been left to flounder in a sea of inconsequential superficiality, devoid of thoughtful consideration of the central issues that influence, and indeed mould our democracy. So important have these pieces been, that it is planned that such contributions shall continue to be the solid base upon which TPS will continue in 2015. You can look forward to more of such pieces from our talented authors.

Casablanca took over from Lyn, and since then has supplied a continual stream of links to important material from the media. Her dedication and perspicacity in selecting relevant items is deeply appreciated. You can look forward to her contributions in 2015.

As we enter a new year and contemplate the 2016 election in about eighteen months, as the substandard performance of the Abbott government continues, and as its leader’s performance declines by the day and his public approval sinks to greater depths, the need has become more and more pressing for incisive commentary on the government, its leader and its ministers, as well as on what the other parties are doing.

TPS Extra

To this end, TPS has added another component to its repertoire: TPS Extra. Older readers will remember how curbside paperboys in another era shouted: ‘Extra, Extra, read all about it’ as they spruiked editions of their newspaper that contained startling news. TPS Extra is TPS’s attempt to bring you the startling — in political commentary. We will not be generating news; there are countless news generators, and we don’t have the resources anyway. What we will be doing is dissecting the contemporary news from many sources, analyzing it, looking for meaning in the events, and interpreting what they might imply. We will provide links to the news sources and will often quote from them. The pieces will therefore be opinion pieces. They will reflect the opinion of the author, and they will invite your opinion.

It is our intention to post such opinion pieces on TPS Extra. There may be several in one week, or none at all, depending on what is happening politically. You will be able to read these by switching from the main site, The Political Sword, to TPS Extra. 'Buttons' have been provided on each site to enable you to switch from one to the other and back again as often as you wish.

Our Webmaster, who goes by the nickname Web Monkey, has skillfully designed the new site and the transit buttons. We are deeply indebted to him for his stylish design.

TPS Extra is now live at http://www.tpsextra.com.au. There are several posts there: four prepared last week to trial the new site, and one added this week that comments on Australia Day . You may wish to read them, comment upon them, and rate them. Commenting and rating are done just as on the main TPS site.

We suggest you make the original TPS site your default, and switch to TPS Extra as the desire takes you.

We trust you will enjoy the variety now offered by The Political Sword in its two forms.

While the main TPS site will continue to focus on more in-depth analysis of political and social issues, we are also making some minor changes in our approach for 2015.

A call to authors

The Political Sword will be accepting shorter pieces from authors for posting. Last year, our posts were usually around 2000 words (give or take 200‒300 words) but this year we will accept shorter pieces, anything from 400 to 1000 words. So if you have been reading our posts thinking you couldn’t write longer pieces like that, now you don’t have to. When we receive shorter pieces, we will attempt to put pieces addressing the same topic together and post them together: so instead of a single article constituting a post, we may have two, three or four articles.

To help you, we now also have a list of themes. This doesn’t mean that they are the only things we will post about but we do hope to address a number of them during the year and your pieces, both short and long, will help.

Our current themes are:

  • education
  • health
  • environment/climate change
  • immigration/asylum seekers
  • economy
  • social equity
  • tax
  • finance
  • work and the labour force in the 21st century
  • welfare
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs
  • science, research and innovation
In addressing the themes, we will not only be looking for critiques of the current approach taken by the government but alternative approaches that may actually help improve the situation or approaches that you think Labor could take into the next election. Of course, some of the themes can overlap.

And, given our authors’ statement of beliefs (see below), there is also scope to ask them to expand on some of those beliefs and explain how they see our society achieving the ideals they have listed.

About our authors

We are also introducing a new feature: ‘About our authors’, for both TPS and TPS Extra. We all have our beliefs, our vision of the sort of country in which we want to live, and of course our biases. So that you can see where our authors are coming from as they write, a short bio and a longer statement of beliefs will be provided for you to read about each of them, all at the click of your mouse. To read about our authors, click ‘About our authors’ which you will see in the left panel immediately below ‘AA's Top Political Websites’.

During the year, each author will be asked to provide a short ‘bio’ and a statement of beliefs. A short ‘bio’ from each author will be necessary, but the statement of beliefs is optional, although we do think it adds to our readers’ understanding of the author’s position and approach.

As always, your feedback will be welcome as regards both TPS Extra and the approach on TPS.

The TPS Team

Be sure to come back on Sunday evening for our first main post of the year: ‘We’re all in this together’ by 2353.

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30/01/2015[b]Abbott Tries To Regain Ascendancy By Proposing Design Change For Australian Flag[/b] The PM said he would like to see the changes made sooner rather than later. “Ideally, it’d be great to see the new flag in place in time for the 1956 Melbourne Olympics”. Mr Abbott ruled out a change of the national anthem at this stage. “I think God Save The Queen serves us well at this point in time,” he said. http://www.theshovel.com.au/2015/01/29/abbott-tries-to-regain-ascendancy-by-proposing-new-australia-flag/


30/01/2015A rare well observed article from Mark Kenny [b] Abbott's choice: change or face the axe[/b] Mark Kenny. January 30, 2015 - 9:47AM There's a reason that the time-honoured Westminster conventions around parliamentary representation, cabinet decision making, and ministerial responsibility came to be: they work...The PM must learn how to run a cabinet and respect due process if he wants to stay in the game...Internal frustration that the Rudd administration was an idiosyncratic show that had sidelined cabinet turned out to be volcanic...The gold standards are Bob Hawke and John Howard. While dominant figures in their own right, both knew how to run a cabinet, and rarely departed from due process. And both lasted a lot longer than any prime minister since. Hardly a coincidence. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/abbotts-choice-change-or-face-the-axe-20150129-130uy9.html

Pappinbarra Fox

30/01/2015I suspect that TPS Extra team will be worked off their collective button pushing fingers given the current mob's propensity to create news that just begs for dissection and analysis by a team of erudite scoffers.

Ad astra

30/01/2015Casablanca Thanks for your links - such interesting reading. Even the MSM journalists are pulling no punches. Yet I doubt if Abbott will or can change. Challenged today about his leadership, he actually said that the reason he had such a good team was that it had such a good captain!!!!! PF You are right - we could use a full time team of writers to keep up with Abbott bloopers and Abbott government mistakes.


30/01/2015G'day Good Folks at The Political Sword. This is my first comment for a long time. My apologies for being a lurker rather than a poster. Please don't read my absence of posting to indicate a lack of interest or enthusiasm for what you provide and for which I am so grateful. Rather I just don't feel adequate to contribute with the quality matching those who do so regularly. My particular interest in the national political discourse is veterans, their dependants and to a lesser degree defence which is equally linked to veterans' matters. Therefor, I would ask that the Political Sword moderators consider adding another category to the list of current themes which I would title "DVA/Defence. The combined budgets of the tow Departments is in the order of AU$36 billion; 2 for Defence and 12 for DVA. The waste in Defence, most obviously manifest in that Department's inability to manage capital equipment programs such as helicopters, fighter aircraft and submarines for example, beggars belief and is prominent in public discourse. All of this scandalous wastage, coupled with the media's fascination with the courageous efforts of uniformed ADF members whenever or wherever they are deployed, distracts public and media attention from the consequences of Australia's military adventurism. The consequences provide tales of tragedy for the uniformed participants and just as tragically for their dependants, the partners and their children. Poorly resourced pension officers, advocates and welfare officers struggle to deal with the case load which is the consequence of Defence's AU$26bn annual spend. Meanwhile, DVA, the government department whose motto, "We Care" is crap, concentrates on reorganising its policies and procedures with a view to escalating the difficulties experienced by applicants to achieve their entitlements. This is the national scandal that confronts us and that is why sites of discussion such as The Political Sword must include within its current topics of discussion, DVA and Defence. As a veteran and an advocate with an extensive background in the military compensation jurisdiction, I implore you to accept my plea for an additional current theme of DVA/Defence. I hope that the topic would encourage discussion of themes rather than individual cases with a view to shining a very bright light onto the scandalous waste of resources by government as successive ministers of every political colour seek to avoid the responsibilities of Australia's ongoing military adventurism. Thank you for allowing me this opportunity and good luck and happy hunting with The Political Sword. FB2

TPS Team

30/01/2015FB2, We would be more than happy to work with you to create a piece on the DVA/Defence theme. Please click the 'Submit an article" tab up a bit and on the left to get in touch with us.


31/01/2015Twitter humour in response to the obituary for Colleen McCullough in The Australian [b]The Thorn Birds author Colleen McCullough dies on Norfolk Island[/b] The Australian. [i]COLLEEN McCullough, Australia’s best selling author, was a charmer. Plain of feature, and certainly overweight, she was, nevertheless, a woman of wit and warmth...[/i] http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/the-thorn-birds-author-colleen-mccullough-dies-on-norfolk-island/story-e6frg8n6-1227201243185 #ozobituary: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23ozobituary&src=tyah Julia Baird ‏@bairdjulia 12h12 hours ago A serial cheat who stabbed one of his six wives, and certainly short, Norman Mailer was nevertheless a writer of many books. #ozobituary. Chrissie ‏@SqueakyChrissie 14h14 hours ago Plain of feature and bad at housework, she somehow managed to not die a spinster #ozobituary Anthony B, ‏@swearyanthony 15h15 hours ago "A loss making outlet notable for it's grievance mongering and a long list of enemies, it nevertheless had some good journalism" #ozobituary Sandra Reynolds ‏@120dollarsfood 14h14 hours ago I like to think she once knocked Rupert back. #ozobituary #MurdochPressEulogies: https://twitter.com/hashtag/MurdochPressEulogies?src=hash Paul Bamford ‏@paulbam3 12h12 hours ago "Born to power & privilege he found his intellectual and spiritual home in the gutter press." #MurdochPressEulogies Celeste Liddle ‏@Utopiana 14h14 hours ago "He was the finest political essayist of the Howard era, despite having a bum-chin and only one testicle" #MurdochPressEulogies Celeste Liddle ‏@Utopiana 14h14 hours ago "He had a face which simply cried out for extensive Botox and exfoliation, but his rhyme & metre were second to none" #MurdochPressEulogies Celeste Liddle ‏@Utopiana 14h14 hours ago "Despite the fact that he was bald and had a small cock, he was nonetheless sharp-tongued and exuberant in expression" #MurdochPressEulogies Paul Bamford ‏@paulbam3 13h13 hours ago "He is survived by several estranged wives, a swarm of dysfunctional offspring and a relieved nation." #MurdochPressEulogies Duncan Watson ‏@DuncanWatson8 13h13 hours ago "Despite having the ears of an ape, the tongue of a lizard & the soul of a cockroach, Tony Abbott was a great man." #MurdochPressEulogies


31/01/2015[b]From problem reader to PM – Paul Keating's secret learning difficulty[/b] Mark Kenny. January 31, 2015 - 12:45AM Paul Keating rose to the most demanding office in the land propelled by a fearsome reputation as the Federal Parliament's most devastating wordsmith and, on occasions, its most soaring orator. Yet a new book claims Australia's 24th prime minister struggled with a learning difficulty as a child and privately carried a problem with comprehending the printed word through later life. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/from-problem-reader-to-pm--paul-keatings-secret-learning-difficulty-20150130-1325ty.html

Ad astra

31/01/2015Folks [i]TPS Extra[/i] is well underway, as you will see when you read the delightful piece by 2353 titled [i]The Good Ship Canberra[/i] which you will find at: http://www.tpsextra.com.au/post/the-good-ship-canberra


31/01/2015What needs to be done. As I see it, the majority of problems have two origins..Problems Created (in the original design) and ; Problems Arising (from result of application)…The first can be excused as unforeseen , the second can be deduced from incremental measures while in use. The logic is in how to deal with the problem once it is obvious. We have a problem in governance in Aust’. The two major parties are now polarized between Capital Economics and Social Economics..The problem has arisen that the application of one is seen to compete to destroy the other…this is a foolish beat-up used to belittle Labor’s capability to successfully meld the two to bring about great social and financial security for the nation. The triple A credit rating, the saving from the GFC. Fiasco and the implementation of fantastic social necessities like Carbon Trading, NDIS., the NBN. and Gonski, proof positive that social economics can be done with negotiation and respect. It is the MSM. That has done the damage to this nation’s aspirations…through it’s various gormless dupes that have swung behind the money-men and have used their positions and (former)credibility to persuade a trusting public to make the most grievous voting mistake in the history of Australian politics. It is these MSM. Commentators who, in making such a fool of themselves in not being saavy to the public perception of what constitutes a good leader, have sold their names and fidelity to their nation , like the commonest of prostitutes for the measliest of coinage to get their names in a By-line print on the mastheads of the most reviled humanoid since Sweeny Todd or Myra Hindley (to be gender neutral!). The fact that these journo’s chop and change their perspective on the whim of the foreign national who employs them , demonstrates their capacity and loyalty to the mogul and shows in no uncertain terms their willingness to betray the interests of their country…they have embraced treason as a vehicle to pursue their objective and have used political dissent as their excuse to commit such…whatever their lame excuses, they have taken the shekels from their masters, they have “fingered” the victims for their masters and then proceeded to demonise, demoralize and dissect those victims of their twisted delusions..and so stand guilty of the charge…they have nothing left to offer us as either legitimate opinion , nor excuses of propriety…the best they can do to save their miserable hides is to retire behind their gated communities in a fool’s disgrace or go find some dark, dank corner somewhere far away from us and there die in wretched dishonour…just try to make sure the ongoing stench from your rotting carcass, like your dirty writing, no longer befouls our nostrils! Get thee behind us ; Charlatans!


31/01/2015We're back! Join us Sun Feb 1 for the 1st #insiders program of 2015 #qldvotes analysis, guest @billshortenmp #auspol The #insiders panel this Sun Feb 1: @dwabriz @lenoretaylor and @markgkenny 9am ABC & @ABCNews24 #auspol


31/01/2015Whatever the result in Qld. it shows that social media is a better medium to deliver the political message...it shows Murdoch's power base is shagged!..He no longer has a power base to bluff the electorate nor to buy the political parties...he is gone for all money..Hooray!!

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31/01/2015Folks The Newman government is looking very shaky at 8.12 pm Queensland time, and Campbell Newman has lost his seat. Enough said!


31/01/2015Astounding result across Qld. I had thought an overall state-wide swing of about 8% but even after pre-polls and postals are counted it looks like it will be above 10%. Unfortunately, the chance of a hung parliament. Labor could form a minority government and then have to rely on the Katter party or the other independent (whom I know nothing about) to get legislation through. Goes to prove that the Australian people do not take to the neo-liberal economic agenda. A message that should ring alarm bells in Canberra for the current approach of Abbott's government.


31/01/2015This sounds the death knell for economic rationalism..the voters told Labor and now they are telling LNP. ..NO SALE !


31/01/2015Murdoch has nothing more to sell...nothing more to bargain with...he is now yesterday's man...goodbye and good riddance...and not a moment too soon!


31/01/2015You don't have to be a fly on the wall in the fed. LNP. offices to know what is going on tonight...Credlin has sent a trusted agent to remove her eggs from Tony's fridge for a start!....Tony is looking around for the tea lady , but no-one's there...nothing but crickets!...goodbye Tony..Mesma is going to ground and many front bench ministers are curled up in a foetal position. Malcolm Turnbull is swirling around a New York Hotel room with a martini in hand, humming a little tune and dancing to the music of Burt Bacharach!


1/02/2015Serena, Socceroos and ALP - all worthy winners.


1/02/2015[b]The world is turning against austerity. Now it's Queensland's turn[/b] Jason Wilson Like all such programs of destruction, Newman’s was badged as “reform”. As the philosopher Jacques Rancière points out, this is a word which in recent decades has simply become a way for the powerful to “mark the distance between what is good for the people and what they desire”. “Reform” in the modern sense of liquidating public property, weighting industrial relations in favour of employers, and crippling public services has never been popular....But there are signs to suggest that here, as in other parts of the world, the idea that the era in which we could imagine no alternative to doctrinaire economic liberalism is coming to an end. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jan/30/the-world-is-turning-against-austerity-now-its-queenslands-turn


1/02/2015[b]God I love Australians[/b] Kaye Lee.February 1, 2015 We are an apathetic bunch who would rather watch sport than talk politics. We would rather have a barbie than a bi-election. We would rather go to the beach than the polling booth. But push us too far and bear the consequences, as Campbell Newman found out this evening and as Dennis Napthine found out a few weeks ago. http://theaimn.com/god-love-australians/


1/02/2015[b]Queensland voters send a strong message to eject Newman[/b] Todd Winther. 1 February 2015, 1.27am AEDT “My career is over.” Campbell Newman’s spectacular entry into Queensland state politics has only been trumped by his spectacular exit. http://theconversation.com/queensland-voters-send-a-strong-message-to-eject-newman-37018

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1/02/2015Folks There is new piece on [i]TPS Extra: Toxic Tony on the slippery slope[/i]: http://www.tpsextra.com.au/post/toxic-tony-on-the-slippery-slope


1/02/2015Khtagh As regards your reply at the end of the previous post. Yes, I will happily admit I under-estimated the swing in Queensland. And it does make NSW more interesting. As a few commentators have pointed out, it may not just be a vote against Newman, Abbott and the Liberals, but against the neo-liberal agenda they are pursuing. I can only hope so.


1/02/2015I see Brandis has come out in support of Abbott but it reminds me of an old cliche in football. When the directors of a club come out and say the coach's position is safe, it is almost a certain sign that it isn't and you can expect to see that coach sacked within a few weeks.


1/02/2015[b]Queensland vote rocks Abbott[/b] Michelle Grattan. 1 February 2015, 2.04am AEDT The rout in Queensland is shocking news for Tony Abbott. It will terrify federal backbenchers and further destabilise his leadership. It puts up in lights that the unpopular federal Coalition could easily become a one term government. http://theconversation.com/queensland-vote-rocks-abbott-37021


1/02/2015[b]The other life of Annastacia Palaszczuk[/b] Frances Whiting. February 01, 2015 12:36PM Her first marriage, to political journalist and author George Megalogenis, was brief, lasting about a year from late 1996 to early 1998... http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland-state-election-2015/queensland-election-2015-the-other-life-of-annastacia-palaszczuk/story-fnr8vuu5-1227204001388


1/02/2015Hi all I have been in mourning for all things Labor since Julia was struck down, Albo failed to get the leadership after the Noalition was elected, I believe he had a fire inside him to take up the fight. Having said that Bill is doing ok not great mind you but he has enormous material to play with. So what woke me from my self imposed slumber the Queensland election result. Maybe the people of Australia have finally woke up and are thinking for themselves and not accepting the rubbish aired in the msm whether voice or print. Thatthe QLD ALP with only 7 parliamentarians and the help of the grassroot membership or just anti LNP supporters could help dump Cando, then the rest of the country could emulate them and eject cantdo/wontdo Abbott & co.May the force be with us all.

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1/02/2015Bilko It's good to see you back. I'm so pleased the Queensland result has brought you out of hibernation; there's plenty to get excited about right now!

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1/02/2015Casablanca Thanks again for the informative links. I so much enjoyed reading [i]The other life of Annastacia Palaszczuk[/i], a very revealing portrait. It came as complete surprise that she was once married to George Megalogenis, one of my favourite authors.
T-w-o take away o-n-e equals?