Turnbull on State Issues

So Malcolm Turnbull, you can’t even comment on NSW Greyhounds because that is a “state matter”, but …

When it comes to the Victorian CFA dispute, you shamelessly used it for political shenanigans and diversion during the election campaign and now brazenly propose direct interference via Federal legislation.

So glad to see you are consistent. Not.

Is your policy really ..

State Liberal – leave them be. They’re family.
State Labor – make them squirm.


Did the “Bandwagon Effect” help deliver victory to Turnbull?

To date, only Essential Vision has been polling Federal voting intention since the July Federal election. Beginning five weeks prior to that election, the Essential two party preferred results for Labor have been:

49 50 51 51 51 [49.5/50] 51 51 52 52 52 52

The bracketed figures represent polls taken immediately before and on the weekend of the election.

Those bracketed figures also approximate fairly closely the actual result for Labor in the election of 49.63.

But they can also be perceived as an anomaly in a trend.

They suggest that there were up to one percent of voters who were influenced change their preferences to favour the Coalition over Labor during election week. And given there was no sign of a honeymoon they must have switched back the day after the election.

That temporary swing in preferencing towards the Coalition could well have been the result of a Bandwagon Effect. The Bandwagon effect occurs in Politics because some people like to feel that they are backing the winning side. It has been shown to have greater pull than any “underdog effect”.

Although the polls regarding voting intention in the immediately previous weeks were generally (if sometimes only marginally) favouring Labor, the question “who do you think will win” was heavily favouring the Coalition. This, together with an oft-repeated media consensus that the Coalition would be returned although with a somewhat reduced majority, would have stoked the Bandwagon Effect.

As we know now, the media mindset was overly exuberant in its support of the Coalition. The election result was much closer than most of those media “reporters” and commentators expected. Without their fumbled projections though, the election would probably have been closer still.

A one percent pro-Coalition Bandwagon Effect could have been sufficient to swing 2-3 close Coalition-won seats Labor’s way and produce a “hung” parliament.

Had the media pack favoured Labor instead (admittedly an unlikely scenario) and predicted a small Labor victory, the election result may well have been very different.

Sadly, too many in the media see themselves as players shaping opinion rather than being objective and detached from the fray. And it is very possible their prosletysing was responsible for Turnbull scraping in.

Leigh Sales: the Nick Kyrgios of interviewing?

It is an odd thing I know, but watching the behaviour of Leigh Sales in political interviews recently made me think of Nick Kyrgios. They are both:

Rather immature in outlook
Paid too much
Too full of themselves
Having tantrums when things don’t go their way

But then Kyrgios does actually have a bit of talent at tennis.

Sales’ efforts are sadly reflective of a dramatic decline in the quality of news and current affairs at ABC over the past half dozen years. She has been in this year’s election period merely the flag-ship presenter in an armada of one-eyed hacks delivering a slanted view on the ABC.

Australians need proper and objective analysis. We once could rely on that from the ABC. Interviews which probed and enlightened. Not the attempted gotchas. Not editorialising. You don’t have to be left-aligned to be worried about the unbridled partisanship we now have.

The stark contrast between Sales’ interview approach for the various Turnbull and Shorten interviews since Turnbull grabbed the Prime Ministership has been simply staggering.

It is not just the interruptions to Shorten and her general demeanour. There is her rudeness. Her ignorance of the issues. Her choice of questions. Her clear and obvious bias. The sneers and sniggers. It appears the job is beyond her. Objectivity is out of her reach.

The first interview with Turnbull after his ascension was sycophantic. It is said she went to dinner with him afterwards.

In the subsequent interview with Turnbull there was an exchange that went:

LEIGH SALES: … So then what was the point of knifing Tony Abbott?

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Well, I don’t want to buy into that sort of – those sort of unpleasant metaphors. I mean, really, really …

LEIGH SALES: But it is that something people have been – no, no, it is something that people have been discussing in a policy sense?

MALCOLM TURNBULL: No, no, no, but – but we shouldn’t be using – can I just say we shouldn’t be using violent metaphors like that talking about – so there was a change – OK, there was …

LEIGH SALES: OK. I withdraw – replacing Tony Abbott.

Contrast that kindly response with Sales’ intro to the first interview she held with Shorten during the actual 2016 campaign (without Shorten being present to demand a withdrawal):

LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: Today is six years to the day that the Labor Party took the extraordinary step of knifing a first-term prime minister, Kevin Rudd.

Today, one of the players centrally involved in that and then the removal of his successor Julia Gillard is the Labor Party’s leader.

Against expectations, Bill Shorten has managed to rapidly reunify the party …

In the interview with Bill Shorten following his Budget reply Sales whinged long and hard about the Labor proposal not to remove the temporary levy on incomes over $180,000 which was put in place to address the deficit – even though the deficit under the coalition has more than doubled in just three years. Surely if the levy was needed in 2014, it is needed more than ever now? Possibly even increased? But clearly the levy, more than anything else, irked Sales. Why? It affected her on her expansive salary package. But it would not, of course, affect the bulk of 7.30 viewers.

Was she interested in them? They now doubt were amazed by her “let them eat cake” approach:

LEIGH SALES: Let’s have a look also at your claim that Australians on lower incomes are getting nothing or are not getting enough. Overlooking the fact that they get health, education, roads, defence as a given every budget …

BILL SHORTEN: But is that something that people should be grateful for? That’s why they pay their taxes.

LEIGH SALES: Well that is why they pay their taxes, but they do get something in return for their taxes. They’re not getting nothing.

Note from the language she used, Sales is quite unable to identify with those of lower means.

Then there were some appalling Sales’ questions like:

LEIGH SALES: Just before you go, every poll shows that voters like Malcolm Turnbull more than they like you. Why do you think that Australians should vote for somebody that they don’t like as much as the other guy?

On that rationale, perhaps we should just have a beauty contest for PM.

And often Sales’ questions ramble on for longer than she allows Shorten to answer:

LEIGH SALES: The – let’s finish with a leadership question. The latest polls have you at 14 per cent as preferred prime minister with the two-party preferred figure being 53 to 47 in the Coalition’s favour. You took the unusual step of directly addressing that to point out that it’s the two-party preferred figure that matters because that’s where the election’s won and that Labor is still competitive in that. But isn’t it fair to say that when your personal numbers are low, as they are, that that would have to be acting as a drag on Labor’s two-party preferred figure?

BILL SHORTEN: Well I think that there’s an extended honeymoon for Malcolm Turnbull because he’s not Tony Abbott. I actually think every time Tony Abbott raises his head on one of his more extreme statements, he reminds everyone how happy we are that he’s no longer the Prime Minister. So there is an extended honeymoon.

LEIGH SALES: But you’ve got to be concerned about your own number and you didn’t address my point that it’s got to be a drag on your party’s vote.

BILL SHORTEN: Well what I’m saying is there’s an extended honeymoon, but all honeymoons eventually come to end. Malcolm Turnbull and his team are still yet to face any serious economic tests.

LEIGH SALES: In your speech in April, 2014 that I referred to a little bit earlier, you said that unless Labor reforms itself, it will remain in opposition and that if Labor were to remain in opposition that it would let the Liberals undo everything that modern Australia has going for it.


LEIGH SALES: Given that view, under what circumstances would you stand aside for the good of the nation?

BILL SHORTEN: What is important for the nation is that we don’t have the policies which attack families and wage earners.

LEIGH SALES: Well that means that you gotta get Labor re-elected.

BILL SHORTEN: Well, look after the policies and the polls look after themselves. And I think what people want to see from Labor is us standing up and making clear where we stand.

LEIGH SALES: Well why do you … ?

BILL SHORTEN: Let me make it clear.

LEIGH SALES: I no doubt think that you think you’re doing a good job of doing that, so then why do you think you’re at the 14 per cent?

Only then after 234 words and six interruptions from Sales, she finally allows Shorten clear air to respond. And as history has shown, once again Shorten was spot on and Sales was way off beam.

In Sales interview with Turnbull back in December 2015 we had this exchange, amazingly with Sales herself promoting the idea of the, subsequently adopted by the Coalition, Company Tax cuts:

LEIGH SALES: You mentioned that people had been calling for that for years. Something else that business has been calling for for years is a cut in the company tax rate. Wouldn’t that be the best way to encourage businesses to spend money on innovation or collaboration with universities?

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Well, it is – it would be a way, but I think the – of course the problem is affordability. You know, we don’t – a cut in five per cent or 10 per cent in the corporate tax rate would be an enormous charge on the budget at the present time.

LEIGH SALES: But this government has previously told us though that doing that would stimulate growth and so it would actually deliver money.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Well, it would stimulate growth, but it would have a cost to the budget, Leigh. There’s no question about that, but – so affordability is – is very important.

Wouldn’t it have been good if we had an interviewer prepared to follow up with Turnbull how those massive tax cuts to big companies were now affordable?

Sadly no such luck with questions like that from Sales.

This exchange also features one of Sales’ favourite techniques when interviewing Turnbull  used just once with Shorten. Beginning a question with “You mentioned …”. This phrase suggests that the interviewer was actually listening to the response. It also often allows the interviewee to expand on an earlier point.

Sales does not handle criticism well. She is an ideologue rather than an interviewer. I have now watched the 30 June 2016 interview which I had not done before writing the above. Despite her repeated interruptions, and her radiant right-wing bias and smirks, Bill Shorten shone. But he did not get a chance to fully answer many of her provocations.

There is a slim hope that Sales will soon be redeployed into something more suited to her talents – whatever they may be – and the money saved could be redirected perhaps to fund three experienced teachers in our schools! That would deliver much better value for Australia.

So many tweets. So little sense

Some sad folk, clearly not productively employed, must spend most of their day tweeting blather, blarney and bilge. Very occasionally though they may get something right.

This tweet gave me a laugh today:

jill ‏@1Swinging_Voter 5h5 hours ago
Hey love TWITTER isn’t the real world. LOL
#THEDRUM Seriously !! Get out more.
0 retweets 1 like

I do hope that Jill, after more than 126,000 tweets, takes her own advice. Seriously !! Get a life.

Slushed down the gurgler?

It is sad to watch this Abbott “Government” lurch from one chaotic episode to the next. Australia deserves better.

Amongst the lunacies of this week, Assistant Minister for Education Sussan Ley sought to claw back money which had been allocated to fund wage increases for lowly-paid childcare workers. The Government cruelly labelled the money as a $300 million Union Slush Fund.

Apparently many Coalition members think that public monies are “slush funds” available for their personal benefit. We know this because records show they have made us pay their day-to-day expenses for trips to weddings, sporting events and the like. Apparently not their problem. The rules, they claim, are ambiguous – although they seem clear enough to me. The rules could only be considered vague only if you lacked a moral compass.

I see even Minister Susan Ley managed to claim at least $1589 to attend just two days of Abbott’s charity bike ride in April 2011.

She justified this raid on the public purse as “Shadow Minister – Official Business”. How she managed to rationalise in her mind a charity bike ride as a legitimate part of her responsibilities of her then role as Shadow Minister for Childcare and Early Childhood Learning totally escapes me. Perhaps she rode a tricycle or had training wheels on. A bit of experiential learning? Or did she call in at childcare centres on the way past to check that the staff were working hard enough?

Also flushed down the gurgler this week have been Holden and the Barrier Reef. Threatening the future of the Barrier Reef is apparently essential in order to repay some of their wealthy supporters.  And did Holden really have to be sent packing because Abbott wanted to be chauffered around in a BMW?


And where are the clowns? Send in the clowns.

I knew they would be hopeless. I am referring of course to the Liberal/National Coalition. They are after all the same clowns who, last time around, gave us “children overboard”, Tampa, the AWB scandal and the Haneef debacle. They deported an Australian citizen. They sold off our gold reserves at el cheapo prices. Their sale of Telstra was a schemozzle – stupidly including the core infrastructure, a natural monopoly. To buy elections they bribed the middle classes. This created a structural budget imbalance plus a sense of middle class entitlement. The list of their calamitous blunders was very long. Maybe to be explored another time.

Yes, their record in government last time was indeed dismal.

But I did not believe that even they could be as pathetic as they have been in the first three months of their current term. Bungle after bungle.

One of their more recent bungles is the 180 degree backflip on Education funding. Actually this is a betrayal rather than bungle.

Today we have Tony Abbott brazenly asserting:

“We are going to keep the promise that we actually made, not the promise that some people thought that we made, or the promise that some people might have liked us to make.”

Tony Abbott and his co-conspirators are not just air-brushing history – they are taking an axe to it. Are we going to let them get away with it?

The Coalition spin-merchants have been busy of late sanitizing the web by removing certain of Abbott’s previous speeches. I wonder therefore how much longer the following will remain on Christopher Pyne’s website (http://www.pyneonline.com.au/media/media-releases/aeus-dishonest-campaign-on-school-funding).

The Australian Education Union (AEU) has this week been caught out distributing blatantly dishonest claims on school funding in South Australia.

At primary schools in South Australia, the AEU has distributed misleading campaign material entitled ‘A message from local principals and teachers’. This ‘message’ is actually from the AEU and is authorised by its Federal Secretary in Melbourne.

The AEU’s dishonest ‘message’ claims that the Coalition would deliver only one third of total funding agreed to in the South Australian school funding agreement.

This is false.

Tony Abbott and the Coalition have confirmed that they will commit the same amount of federal school funding as the Government over the forward estimates. Every single school in Australia will receive, dollar for dollar, the same federal funding over the next four years whether there is a Liberal or Labor Government after September 7.

Just check out that last sentence carefully:

Every single school in Australia will receive, dollar for dollar, the same federal funding over the next four years whether there is a Liberal or Labor Government after September 7

Sounds a very explicit promise to me Mr Pyne and Mr Abbott. Every school. Dollar for dollar. No weasel words about overall envelope. Or one year funding only.
You promised. In black and white.
On that basis you won government with a swathe of marginal seats.
How many votes swung your way in those seats because you put voters’ minds at rest that you would maintain Labor’s Gonski initiatives? You gained those votes because you LIED to voters!

Now we know for certain that you are both just liars and cheats. Not to be trusted. Not worthy of government.

You lied.

Not in the way in which you falsely claimed over and over again that PM Julia Gillard lied about a carbon tax. Gillard said she did not rule out introducing a price on carbon – and that is what Labor did. What the Gillard Government did was consistent with what she said. It was you who misrepresented her. (Now you have the hide to misrepresent your own words.)

And Labor did not gain government in 2010 without the support of Greens and independents. Gillard needed to negotiate. That was not kowtowing to those groups but it was respecting the democratic outcome of the election.

You on the other hand have no excuse in 2013 for abandoning your explicit campaign promise on Education funding. If you continue to do so, you also abandon any right to call yourselves a legitimate government because you have clearly cheated and lied your way into office.

And where are the clowns? Send in the Clowns, Don’t bother, they’re here.

(My apologies to real clowns who do have integrity. And acknowledgements to Stephen Sondheim.)


It appears today that Abbot & Pyne have been sufficiently humiliated to cave in.

They are playing all Australians for fools. As with their appalling cheating on their expenses, it is a case of whatever they can get away with, goes.

This time they got caught. It is up to us to keep them to account.

Clearly from the evidence of today’s media, there is no chance that the Murdoch press will question or challenge them, ever.  All we got was the same sickening obsequiousness from the likes of Bolt today – and no mention in the Telegraph of this current debacle at all.

Too much to hope for …

Last Sunday morning (21 April 2013) I switched on to the Insiders program on the ABC. Not usually a sensible choice as it sends my blood pressure through the roof. I watch both TV and – with my notebook on my knee – I watch the #insider tweets flash past. Silly of me, I know! Much better things I could and should be doing.

Anyway, during the Insider’s program they played a clip of our PM responding to a schoolgirl’s question regarding “fashion”. The PM’s brief response to the question concluded:

“I spend a lot of time having to worry about what I wear so that no-one comments on it.”

As I looked down at my notebook up popped this tweet:

missie @missie_88
@JuliaGillard doesn’t worry about she wears? Another lie!

Even a cursory look shows that this tweeted “observation” from Missie (whoever she may be) to be as far from the reality of what the PM said as it is possible to get. Spending a lot of time worrying somehow gets turned by Missie into doesn’t worry. Amazing. And then, for good measure, Missie tosses in an insult: Another lie! Just whose lie would that be, Missie? So ready to throw insults that you don’t seem to care at all about the truthfulness of what you tweet?

Sad, isn’t it, when prejudices and deeply ingrained biases can so badly affect a person’s capacity for objectivity that they can apparently “hear” the exact opposite of what has been said. Hopefully Missie’s lie was not deliberate but it was probably shaped by a blind (and selectively deaf?) Liberal Party allegiance that is evident from some of her other tweets. Many of her role models – those currently leading that particular party – do set an extremely poor example for their acolytes. It is possibly not wholly Missie’s fault that she is so confused and ends up tweeting outright lies. She probably “heard” what she has been conditioned to hear.

So I apologise to Missie if she thinks I am picking on her when there are so many other of her fellow Liberal supporters busy tweeting away ad nauseum false and misleading claims about the PM, about Labor, the economy, asylum seekers, the NBN, Climate Change, Gonski, NDIS, …

I could just as easily have picked someone else’s lie as an example (but this lie of Missie’s is such a classic). Truth for some seems to have become an unnecessary inconvenience.

It is too much to hope for, but I think it would be nice if one day Missie and her confederates came to realise that other statements by the PM that they have been ever so eager to claim as “lies” in reality are no such thing. It would be good if they could acknowledge that the Labor Government has not been the disaster for Australia that they so vigorously allege and has even delivered a great deal for the benefit of our community. It would be tremendous if they could even accept that, under our Australian democracy, sometimes other parties than their own are fully entitled to get a turn at government.

Of course that would mean that they would have to actually listen to all the words as spoken, check the real facts, understand their meaning, the context and the circumstances. Plus genuinely accept our constitution. And have an open mind. And not bear false tweets about topics of which they have clearly no understanding. As I said, that’s all far too much to hope for.

reductio ad Stalinum

The  Daily Telegraph  (NSW) outdid itself this week with its attacks on Senator Conroy. When you succumb to snarl, slur and slander clearly you have lost the argument. The Tele must have lost this one really badly.

Murdoch's Mud throwers

What! No pic of Murdoch?

Not content with a full page ad hominem pictorial attack on Conroy equating him to Stalin, they followed up the next day by apologising to Stalin for their comparison. Oh dear. What are they afraid of? Is their unhindered capacity to promulgate abuse such as this what they really perceive to be “Freedom of the Press”?

The Daily Telegraph owner and editors know they have influence. Even though I don’t buy their paper, their front page stares up at me in supermarkets and newsagents. Get on the Tele‘s wrong side and you can be sure they will give you hell. They know too well how to wield their influence for maximum effect.


The Tele masters have the freedom to fill front pages with massive headlines like “Brogden’s Sordid Past”, “King Rat”, “Who’s the Big Cheese”, and “Thomson in New Escort Scandal”. They have the freedom to be selective in what they tell, to disparage, distort and misrepresent; to fake photographs; to ignore facts, to mock experts and indeed to dismiss anything at all that might challenge their own prejudices.

And when they are proved wrong, even in a court of law, they have the freedom to bury the stories of their errors on page 17 or even ignore them entirely.

I like freedom. But even freedom must have its limits. For example, we no longer consider it appropriate to enslave others or to exploit children. No one’s freedom should impinge on the rights of others.

(The freedom to pollute our environment with apparent impunity is one freedom that I think should be curtailed further. Having spent a recent Sunday cleaning rubbish from roadsides in my neighbourhood, it rather irks me to see bottles, cans and packaging already littering them again!)

Many “freedoms” that we once took for granted were restricted following government over-reactions to “9/11”. In practice, most laws constrain our freedoms in one way or another. We either live with those restrictions or we agitate for change. Very few of us have the benefit of large printing presses and a ready readership seeking the latest news and information. Those that do are particularly privileged.

Freedoms should come with responsibilities. Rights should come with obligations. Privileges should come with accountability. I do wonder why some newspapers, such as the Daily Telegraph, fear accountability? Certainly Governments (and oppositions) should be held to account. But newspapers can potentially have a massive influence on both our choice of government and on the success of pieces of legislation. The Murdoch press, through its relentless campaigning on many political issues, is in reality the most potent lobby group in the country. If it is influencing our government, it should be held accountable.

Trying to make me accountable? I'm the king maker here.

‘Trying to make me accountable? I’m the king maker here!’

I don’t agree with those that say “it’s easy, if you don’t like it, don’t buy that paper”. We have such a limited choice. Some states only have the Murdoch options. Elsewhere the options are little better. It is of course no wonder fewer people are reading newspapers these days. But those that still do should not be subjected to an unrelenting diet of tainted tat and tack.

Freedom of the Press should ideally result in investigative reporting, critical analysis of policy alternatives, accurate presentation of facts and, where appropriate, editorial comment involving interpretation and points of view. Alas, much of the “news” sections of most of Australia’s Press seem to have become “advertorials” for the viewpoints of owners and editors. We do not get the quality of Press we need.

I would like to see some Freedoms for the Media Consumer so as to give us:

  • A better and broader range of newspapers
  • A clearer distinction between viewpoint and fact
  • Some objectivity and world context when it comes to examining our economy and our well-being
  • A preparedness for newspapers to admit when they stuff things up and
  • Confidence that if newspapers do try to con us they will be held to account

We get our chance to chuck out governments every three or four years. Regrettably we get no say on media moguls and their minions who seem to push their agendas with neither challenge nor accountability for decades.

It is time all that changed.

A First Spout for the Gurgler

I’m fed up. I’m depressed. I’m really angry. The way things are going it looks like, come next September, my country is going down the gurgler. I feel so powerless in the face of what seems like the inevitable. When I’m depressed and angry I raid the fridge and pantry. I’ve put on a kilogram each month over the past year. Now that’s really too fed up!

Perhaps I should explain. I live in Aussie land. I’m one of those time-rich, cash-poor grey-haired people. Too little cash (sadly) to entertain myself with more than a very infrequent jaunt around the world – or even my country. Yet (I think) I still have a few marbles rolling around up top: so calcifying into a crotchety conservative is not for me.

From my much-worn armchair, I have time to survey the world through Internet eyes. I can read, watch and listen to mainstream media. I can tap into blogs, tweets and new media publications. I have time to plough through some of the source documentation that has been placed on public view. I can see many events as they unfold.

From what I observe the chasm, between what passes as “news” in old media and the actuality of the source documents and the events that these media are “reporting” on, is quite alarming. In my feeble attempts to explain this dissonance to myself, I oscillate between theories of conspiracy and incompetence. Perhaps it is a blend of both – but with a very big dose of the former.

I cannot blame those many of my fellow country women and men for whom, I know, time for analysis, review and reflection is scarce. After work, commuting and family, few would have the inclination to probe further for the real truth. I cannot blame them for their unwitting and unchallenged acceptance of these tainted media offerings.

Unlike me, most of them must rely on the predigested, but unfortunately selective and slanted, versions of events proffered by radio jocks and the print and television media. If these unreliable versions gel with their predilections and prejudices why should they not accept them without question?

It is not their fault that they cannot see that their views are being shaped and their “buttons” pushed. They do not realise that they are being carefully corralled like sheep ready for a shearing. If the pollie polls are right, most will follow a voting path which has been chosen for them (rather than by them) next September.

We should be able to rely on mainstream media to present us with unembellished fact. We should be confident that journalists will: investigate and analyse with rigour; report accurately without fear or favour. But as I discovered, initially through a peripheral involvement with a front page story more than thirty years ago, this is a far too idealistic expectation.

Back then, though, at least there was more diversity in mainstream media. The distortions in one outlet stood a chance of being countered by another. Consolidation plus an evolving convergence in media management’s views has removed any counterbalance from Australia’s mainstream media. New media offers a glimmer of hope but as yet its community reach is limited.

It may indeed be a lost cause but I feel I must do something. If ever there was an opposition, in my view, less deserving of election to government, Australia has it now. Never was an opposition leader more undeserving of the office of prime minister. Better to channel my frustrations and anger into words on a screen than grams around my waistline.

I’m not prepared to simply mark my time as a retiree until I’m transformed into a mere molehill of dust not too many years from now. I have some gorgeous grand kids. I’d like to know that the world I leave is habitable for their generation and the generations that follow. I’d like to feel confident that the country, which once nurtured me, was prepared to care about the young, the ill, the needy, the homeless and the desperate.

From my armchair I cannot do much. This blog represents both my plaintive cry for action and my therapy.

Clumsy my choice of words may be. Few may ever read them. Most of those that do will already share my concerns. It’s just barely possible though, that if enough of us speak or write of those concerns, the concerted chorus may yet reach enough ears and eyes to change what now may seem inevitable.

Help stop Australia going down the gurgler. Give it a plug.