Lambie, Palmer, And A Great Big Cock-Up

JACQUI LAMBIE’S resignation from the Palmer United Party today warrants condemnation, nothing more; even so, the disintegration of Clive Palmer’s eponymous party is to be eagerly and enthusiastically welcomed, as the get-square implement of a despotic autocrat continues to collapse under the weight of competing egos, a policy agenda with the actual and moral clarity of a sewer, and an electorate awake to the fact it was cynically conned.

It looks like my article on Senate reform is going to have to wait at least another day after all, although with the mooted resignation of Jacqui Lambie from Clive Palmer’s party looming large as I posted this morning, I half expected this might be the case. Nonetheless, I promise readers that by the middle of the week at the latest, the proffered Senate piece will be published.

I wanted to add my thoughts to some of the comment that has found its way speedily into print today after Lambie’s infantile tantrum culminated in her departure from the Palmer United Party, and far from echoing any of the faux grace she attempted to exhibit on the way out the door, readers might be surprised to know that I think what she has done today is reprehensible.

Lambie’s resignation from the Palmer United Party deserves to be condemned in the strongest possible terms: no more, no less.

This abominable and virtually inarticulate specimen, plucked from the Tasmanian boondocks — to continue, it seems, her career as a victim, albeit on a bigger stage — owes her position in the Senate to the party Clive Palmer founded, and as painful as it is to say it, Palmer is actually right to lambaste Lambie for daring to arrogate to herself the role of an Independent just a year after being elected on Palmer’s ticket, as a member of Palmer’s party, and bankrolled by Palmer’s money, which she has admitted herself on the public record that she needed to sustain her campaign.

Whilst nobody will ever now know, it seems inconceivable that Lambie would have been elected under her own steam last year: her Senate spot would have gone to the Tasmanian Liberals, whence it was arguably stolen under a false premise.

And her claims today to have had “a great weight lifted off (her) shoulders” in resigning from Palmer’s outfit ought to instead hang like a millstone around her neck, or be flung back in her face to politically crucify her: for, like it or not, Lambie was elected as a Palmer United Party Senator for Tasmania. Far from a weight being lifted from her shoulders, she has in fact absconded from the job she was elected to, and dumped on those Tasmanians who voted for her.

Her assertion that she is now free to act as a Senator for Tasmania is unbelievably crass: she was already that. And with the degree of levity Palmer was clearly prepared to extend to her for her fancies — despite the obvious acrimony between the two — it is reasonable to assert there is nothing she can achieve now that could not have been achieved had she remained in the role to which she was elected just an embarrassingly short amount of time ago.

Lambie’s resignation is no act of principle, nor a stand for anything that is right, decent, or even coherent. It is a sham.

For the record, I have no truck whatsoever with the unrelenting goading and taunting Palmer has engaged in over the past few weeks, almost daring Lambie to go ahead and leave his God-forsaken rabble; his accusations that she sought to defect to other parties — and even that she was a plant who infiltrated his party to sabotage it — are ridiculous, fatuous, and distasteful in the extreme.

But two wrongs do not make a right, and Lambie has — good to her word — given as good as she has received, returning fire at Palmer through the receptive organs of the media at every opportunity, and the duo have better resembled a warring marital couple than a pair of sober, professional political operatives.

Lambie tried to be gracious today, with remarks about Palmer’s “beautiful family” and suggesting that when “the dust has cleared” there will be opportunities for her to work with her former Palmer colleagues “in the national interest.”

Yet there is nothing about Lambie, Palmer, or the entire Palmer United Party infrastructure that could be remotely construed as being in the national interest, and the only surprise about Lambie’s resignation is that she chose to jump before Palmer pushed her: after all, and as I have opined here recently, being kicked out of the Palmer party would fit nicely with Lambie’s narrative of herself as a victim battling against almost everything and everyone she encounters.

In truth, today’s developments should be kept in perspective: yes, they will make a fractious and unpredictably hostile Senate that much harder for the Abbott government to handle, and the mysteriously expanding list of issues Lambie says she wishes to champion will make her difficult to deal with at all. But they will only make a bad situation infinitesimally worse, and continuing the slow disintegration of the Palmer United Party, the welcome aspect of Lambie’s actions today is that is should inevitably hasten its demise.

For the Palmer party is, indeed, disintegrating; already, it has lost half the MPs it has either managed to have elected to various Parliaments around the country, or has managed to coerce away and poach from the Coalition.

Stories of the dictatorial and autocratic manner in which Palmer runs his party are well documented and well known, as is the disturbing trend to friends, family members and loyal lieutenants increasingly filling key roles in the party and being awarded preselection berths.

The policy platform of the Palmer United Party — if it even has one — has all the clarity, real, moral, or otherwise, of a sewer: and I use the metaphor advisedly.

Its only real agenda (and this is an old story) is one of a malevolent, belligerent, get-square crusade aimed at Queensland’s LNP and, by extension, Coalition administrations elsewhere, for the simple reason Palmer was not given what he perceived he was entitled to in return for substantial support of the LNP and for Campbell Newman’s successful bid for the Premiership of Queensland.

Just to cap it, Western Australian Police confirmed today that they are conducting inquiries into Palmer in relation to allegations he siphoned money from his Chinese business partners to help bankroll his election campaign last year which, at the very minimum, contradicts Palmer’s flat denials that he faced any such investigations at all.

The cumulative reality that all of this represents — from the first hint Palmer might start his own party, up until the circus act today — has seen popular support for the Palmer United Party collapse across reputable opinion polls, and whilst it’s impossible to say “never” in politics, it is entirely possible that the point at which Palmer candidates begin to experience defeat (and the loss of their existing sinecures) is now at hand.

To this end, Palmer’s latest enterprise is to stand candidates for upper house sinecures at this Saturday’s state election in Victoria: once again, seeking to play the wrecking role, the spoiler, and to secure a vantage point from which no constructive contribution can ever be extracted.

Simply stated, the Palmer United Party’s claim to any of these spots rests solely upon the fact it is not the Liberal Party, or the Labor Party, or the National Party.

The time for Palmer to cash in on public disenchantment with politics and politicians has now passed, and as I have said in this column before, enterprises like the Palmer United Party merely fuel the very disillusionment with politics they purport to solve, and when the facade is stripped away — as it now has been, with an electorate well awake to the fact the Palmer United Party was just a con job — they feed back in to turning people away from politics even more.

If Palmer comes up empty-handed in Melbourne at the weekend, he will have received exactly what he deserved from Victorian voters.

 

 

Snap Election To “Clear” Senate? Don’t Bet On It

A SURPRISING POLL for Sydney’s Daily Telegraph finds that an astonishing 67% of voters want a fresh federal election — a double dissolution — to clear the Senate of obstructive minor parties and “Independents” and get a workable Parliament; the legalities of such an election are unclear , and in any case the move is unlikely based on the behaviour of the ALP. A push to reform the Senate — in good faith — is a potentially more fruitful idea.

The vagaries of daily life have meant that the reform series I promised at the start of the month has largely been subsumed; today, however, comes an opportunity to revisit the theme, and I will aim to do this tonight or (I promise) in the next couple of days.

But Sydney’s Daily Telegraph is carrying an article today, reporting poll findings by Galaxy that purport to show some 67% of NSW voters are in favour of a snap double dissolution election, to clean out the raft of minor party influences in the Senate and make federal Parliament more workable than it is now.

The poll — which shows 67% of respondents favouring such an election, with 25% opposed — represents the kind of thing that was probably always going to turn up at some point this parliamentary term, given the deadlocked shambles the Senate has mostly become.

And it is a fair bet to say it belies the ignorance of most voters when it comes to the constitutional factors governing elections for the Senate, although on this occasion they are probably aligned with each other.

I am not averse to the idea of a double dissolution election, although I would hasten to add that with the farcical Gillard government now consigned to the dustbin of history — where it belongs — extreme caution should be used in agitating for an early election, be it for both Houses of Parliament or otherwise.

For one thing, the Abbott government is unlikely to call one until or unless it can be reasonably confident of re-election in the lower house: and hard, cold political reality suggests that as of today’s date, it can’t be.

For another, there is little point in throwing both Houses open to the electorate when there is no guarantee anyone would co-operate with a Coalition attempt to cut the number of non-major party influences that are elected in the upper House: Labor, under Bill Shorten, exhibits a distinct penchant for causing as much disruption and chaos for the Abbott government as it can.

If it believed, heading into such an election, that the government was likely to be returned, it would move heaven and Earth to increase the size of the crossbench — not trim it.

And if Labor thought it might win, it might do the same thing anyway; after all, the kinds of entities the Senate voting system elevates to its crossbench are, on the whole, far friendlier to the ALP than to the Coalition, and this political truism is so pronounced that there is little point wasting column space recounting sufficient historical examples to bear it out.

Even so, most of those who would bleat the loudest of being able to “work with” the Coalition — the Communist Party Greens and the Palmer United Party being the chief culprits — are also those who most regularly vote in the Senate to obstruct it.

Both have gone well out of their way to cause maximum political damage to the government, and both have occasionally thrown the government a (heavily conditional and qualified) bone to allow themselves to claim the mantra of a “balanced” approach to their activities, which is patent rubbish.

And as I said, these types — along with some of the other undeserving types thrown up by the undemocratic system used to elect the Senate — generally find themselves able to live in harmony with Labor governments, which was the whole point of Senate changes made by the Hawke government in 1984: securing upper houses that are mostly friendly to the Left, with the Howard Senate majority won in 2004 relegated to the realm of the exception.

I’m not surprised the Tele has found frustration — even hostility — with the Senate and its antics, nor that people are already clamouring for something to be done about it.

But a snap poll would, in all likelihood, exacerbate the problem.

My remarks this morning are deliberately brief, and I will return (hopefully) this evening to thrash out a better idea: reforming the Senate altogether, with a plan that does not exclude the minor parties by any stretch, but which means that securing election really would be contingent on securing a reasonable stipend of electoral support.

That would mean no Ricky Muir with his 1,700 votes in Victoria, or the Greens holding the country to ransom with 10 Senators — 6 of whom were elected more than four years ago.

But even then, I know it will be a big ask, for no matter what is placed on the table, there will always be someone happy to play the wrecker in the name of short-term political expediency than in the national interest in the longer run.

And yes, Bill Shorten, I’m looking at you.

 

Victoria: Smug Labor Campaign Goes Too Far, Literally

IF LABOR LOSES next weekend’s state election in Victoria, then images of its campaign bus breaking the law by running a red light — and almost causing an accident — may well prove the turning point of a lacklustre election campaign that remains to be won. Ahead in polling but not overwhelmingly so, ALP momentum has stalled: Denis Napthine deserves to be re-elected, despite the Coalition’s troubles. Labor may have helped facilitate exactly that.

I haven’t provided the commentary on this state election I would have liked: partly because I have been rather busy, as readers know, but also because when I have been able to publish comment there’s been plenty happening, and arguably other issues have been more salient at the time than what is happening here in Victoria.

One week out from one of the more bizarre state elections I can recall — after all, the last first-term state government thrown out of office (Queensland, 1998) knew the rising menace of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation would puncture its fortunes well in advance, making the overall outcome anyone’s guess — the identity of who will be the Premier of Victoria on Sunday morning remains impossible to predict with any confidence.

None of this is to say I think Denis Napthine’s Coalition government is set to be defeated; on the contrary, I have been resolute throughout the year that Napthine probably would (and should) be re-elected, much to the surprise of some of my contemporaries, although if my views were informed solely by opinion polling I’d now be suggesting anything but.

At the level of the eyeline of the general public, this has been a pedestrian, lacklustre state election campaign; there is no excitement and — significantly — no tangible public momentum for the ALP and its erstwhile challenger, the puerile Daniel Andrews. More on him later.

Both sides appear to have made substantial strategic errors: on the Coalition side, the heavily negative campaign that should have saturated Melbourne’s media has mostly failed to eventuate; the appalling record of the Bracks-Brumby government between 1999 and 2010, with its multi-billion dollar blowouts on major projects (myki, the desalination plant, the so-called North-South pipeline, and the consequent impost Victorian families remain saddled with for decades to come) remain unexploited.

And on the Labor side, running a classic “small target” strategy has left the ALP exposed to real questions about what it would do if restored to office. Yes, we all know Andrews has promised to remove 50 suburban level crossings. But Labor’s pledge to tear up the contracts for the East-West link seems to be a semantic exercise aimed at salvaging four inner city electorates from the Greens, and unlikely to be honoured beyond polling day if Andrews somehow falls across the line.

And that — today — remains a very big “if.”

It’s all been very well-managed, in a sense; for the past couple of years every ambulance in Victoria has toured around the state with anti-Coalition messages scrawled across it in the ostensible name of pursuing industrial action — a dispute the union had agreed to resolve, only to impose additional demands on the government at the last minute to drag the stoush through the middle of an election campaign.

I’m wagering the dispute will be settled on Monday week if Labor wins the election.

Prior to that, unions were caught out using staff at the Alfred Hospital to masquerade as “sick” patients on trolleys in corridors to post images in social media as proof of the “neglect” of Victoria’s hospitals under the Liberals.

The dispute over teacher salaries — initiated on the watch of former Premier Ted Baillieu — dragged on interminably for years, and centred on Baillieu’s perhaps ill-advised pledge to make Victorian teachers “not the worst-paid in Australia, but the best-paid.”

I can see both sides of this issue, to be fair.

But to be brutal about it, the position the government under Baillieu pursued (and later abandoned after Napthine replaced him) would have seen the very best teachers paid substantially more than the no-hopers at the bottom of the pack, who hide in classrooms because they can’t cut it anywhere in the real word. Thanks to the intransigence of the powerful teacher unions and their insidious lowest common denominator mentality, there’s no incentive for teachers to improve their performance at all: a clod remains remunerated at the same level as an education superstar.

Which is perverse, in a sense, because education is one of the few areas this small-target ALP campaign has attempted to fashion any kind of narrative around. Not schools, mind, but TAFE colleges.

Some days it seems all Labor wants to talk about is TAFE; mindful of the fracas over the closure of non-performing TAFE colleges early in Ballieu’s tenure, the ALP says it will reopen all of them. It goes further, promising to “bring back” the technical colleges that were closed by state Labor in the late 1980s, with nary a word on how this will work or how much it will cost.

And it talks about aiming to form a government that “puts people first” when there is no mention, in any meaningful sense, of how much its grab bag of promises will hit the hip pockets of ordinary Victorians.

One subject Labor is understandably reticent to talk about is Health; perhaps the track record of fiddled hospital waiting lists under the previous government — with Andrews as minister not merely responsible, but defending the practice at the time — is deemed too risky a can of worms to open.

But this subject is yet another pressure point the Coalition campaign has declined to probe, and with the ambulance union merrily driving around the state with anti-Coalition propaganda defacing government vehicles, the ALP probably feels content that there is nothing further it needs to do in this field.

Try as it might, the (enviable) Coalition record of astute budget management and the robust position the state is in are themes the government is achieving little, if any, cut-through on.

Labor, for its part, shows every sign of being happy to coast into office — apparently believing opinion polling showing it on track to score a thumping win — in a smug, almost arrogant delusion that Victorian voters genuinely embrace this virtually agenda-free offering and the sanctimonious oaf Labor thinks is a shoo-in to be Premier.

The truth is more mundane, and offers Labor little reason to be as complacent as it has been to date.

For one thing, the sleeper issue of union control of the ALP (and in particular, militant and violent unions like the CFMEU) is an unknown variable in determining how undecided voters break in the final week; the abject refusal of Andrews, or anyone else at the ALP, to disown such an obvious liability is telling, and offers a glimpse into how any government formed by Andrews might operate.

For another, whoever wins this election will lose seats as well as win them, with electorates changing hands in both directions. The “bush” that was once the heartland of the conservative parties (until alienated by Jeff Kennett) shows signs of finally returning to the Coalition fold, whilst a handful of highly marginal Coalition seats in Melbourne appear dangerously vulnerable to the ALP. The election could well come down to a few individual seats, either extremely marginal for the ALP and/or notionally Liberal after the recent redistribution, and who wins the lion’s share of them: and right now, barring a major decisive development in the coming week, these are no more predictable in any reasonable sense than a lottery.

And most of all, the published opinion polling showing Labor on course for a crushing win has tightened, with the most recent round of results averaging 52-48 for the ALP; yes, you’d rather be ahead four points than behind, but at 52-48, this apparent picture of the electorate is on the edge of the “zone” in which the distribution of votes in individual seats could see one side prevail whilst losing the two-party vote.

I’m told the private polling of both major parties shows this overall statewide picture as being even closer, at 51-49 in Labor’s favour, which merely underlines the point.

Daniel Andrews has probably been shrewd in running a campaign that is almost dismissive of Napthine and the government generally; his protestations that the Premier is “not relevant” to his “plan” for Victoria shows confidence of a sort, and is consistent with the vague campaign Labor has run generally that has eschewed confrontation and avoided the litany of liabilities Labor could see thrown at it (and which — unbelievably — the Liberals have almost completely refrained from throwing).

Yet this campaign — which feels in some respects similar to the one fought by Labor in 2002, as it romped home to its biggest win in Victorian political history — could turn on one small but significant event that derails the momentum for one side, and hands an unexpected win to the other in a virtual default.

It wasn’t the fact Andrews’ campaign bus apparently ran a red light at a busy intersection in Melbourne’s southern suburbs on Friday that provided a potent symbol for the government to rally around, nor the fact a major traffic accident was almost caused as a result of the incident.

DANIEL ANDREWS AND LABOR…prepared to ride roughshod over anything in the way of their mad lust for power in Victoria. (Picture: Herald Sun)

 

Rather, the responses from Labor are emblematic of its utter contempt for decency, the law, and of its law-unto-itself mentality: the obvious thing to do would have been to apologise, chalk it up to human fallibility on the part of the bus driver, and move on.

Instead, Labor claimed the Liberal Party was reprehensible, grubby, indecent for allegedly circulating vision of the incident: with the unmistakable accompanying message that when it comes to slaking its lust for power and pursuing its mad obsession with forming government at any cost, Victorian Labor is above the law, and above the standards expected of normal, law-abiding citizens.

It brings to mind the episode of the stolen journalist’s dictaphone some months ago, for which Labor denied all responsibility, despite the admission the tape’s contents (which were highly embarrassing to the Liberals) were copied by figures at Labor’s Melbourne head office.

(And this, too, is yet another pointer to Labor’s unsuitability for government that the Coalition has declined to capitalise on).

For the record, my input into the government’s central re-election campaign is precisely zero; sidelined by people who have made it abundantly clear that they know better, and that there is no place for my input in the innermost circles of the Liberal Party’s brains trust, I’m forced to watch — in frustration — from the outside, like every other conservative voter who fears Labor could win a thoroughly ill-deserved victory next Saturday.

But if I was betting on it, my money would go on the Premier, Denis Napthine, to be re-elected: by the narrowest of margins, and providing no major embarrassments leap out of the shadows at the government in the last week of the campaign.

To this end, the smug Labor campaign with its inherent sense of entitlement — and the childish, juvenile cretin who is its candidate for the Premier’s office — might just have gone too far on Friday.

The imagery is telling. Labor believes itself to be above the law. And nothing — or nobody — will be permitted to get in the way of its stampede back to the government benches, which it arrogantly believes are its right.

Reasonable people do not respond well to this kind of thing. It is to be hoped, in looking beyond the obvious response to the cacophony of self-indulgent drivel from Andrews and his cohorts, that they are paying attention.

 

ICAC: NSW Labor’s “Dirty Duo” Charged Over Misconduct

AFTER MONTHS OF bad press for the Liberal Party in NSW — with 10 of its MPs ensnared in ICAC investigations into official misconduct — NSW Labor’s notorious “dirty duo” of powerbroker Eddie Obeid and former minister Ian MacDonald are to be prosecuted, having been charged today with corruption-related offences. It turns the focus back onto the ALP, on whose watch NSW’s business and government spheres grew rotten to their core.

Just a few general remarks from me on this subject tonight; in my mind there’s not too much room for any other opinion on official corruption than outright condemnation, and with these matters now set to go before the Courts, I don’t want to say anything that might be prejudicial to any trial that ensues.

I think I have been adequately clear with readers that when it comes to the cleanliness and integrity of government, my views are unequivocal, and aimed at recalcitrants without fear nor favour: public office is a duty and an honour, not an opportunity for self-enrichment; and where matters of official misconduct are concerned I really couldn’t care whether your political colour is red, blue, green, yellow or whatever — do the crime and frankly, you deserve to have the book thrown at you.

It seems such a fate will now befall NSW Labor’s so-called “dirty duo,” with ALP heavyweight and powerbroker Eddie Obeid and former NSW minister Ian MacDonald both charged today with misconduct in public office as the ICAC investigations that have dragged on for the past few years reach their zenith; the pair may be innocent as they claim, or they may be guilty as sin, but either way, they are finally set to have their day in Court once and for all.

Both of these gentlemen — along with former union figure John Maitland — will appear in Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court for a mention on 18 December.

Careers — from the top down, and starting with former Premier Barry O’Farrell — have been tarnished, damaged and/or destroyed by the present round of ICAC investigations and, happily, no quarter appears to have been given, nor allowances made, for the niceties nor the sensitivities of political allegiance or for the shifting sands that underlie structures of power in NSW.

ICAC has pulled no punches, with prominent business identities from NSW and  beyond hauled into the mire of misconduct along with political figures on both sides of the chamber in Macquarie Street and the federal Assistant Treasurer in Tony Abbott’s Liberal government, who has stood aside pending the finalisation of investigations into allegations of impropriety levelled against him.

But the big-ticket item was always going to be the Labor names long mentioned openly as central to the festering edifice that sprang up during 16 years of Labor rule, with Obeid in particular said to have benefited to the tune of millions of dollars as companies owned by his family allegedly profited from a litany of favourable decisions by the then state government.

I have welcomed, in this column, the resignations of those from the Liberal Party found to have engaged in improper conduct; I do think the party in NSW has been severely damaged by the revelations that have ensnared 10 of its MPs in the web of impropriety that was supposedly going to tip the corruption muck bucket all over Labor and help keep it in opposition for at least a decade.

In fact, as a lifelong Liberal supporter and member of the party for almost 25 years, I’m disgusted by the revelations that centre on some of those in our ranks who are less than upright — and if found guilty of any offence, I’m just as adamant the punishment should be considerable, as it should be for any offence committed by those in the Labor Party.

And there are those (especially in the Left-leaning press) who will argue that the timing of the charges against Obeid and MacDonald is convenient, with a state election due in NSW in four months’ time, to which I would simply observe that if there were anything synthetic in these matters, then a Liberal Premier would not have been forced from office over a bloody bottle of wine. Anyone silly enough to suggest otherwise ought to grow up.

I will confess, however, to a certain sense of relief: having watched (predominantly) Liberal Party identities hauled through the ICAC muck for what seems an eternity, I was beginning to wonder just when (or even if) anything was ever going to come of its inquiries into the Labor figures who were allegedly on the take for years.

Now it’s happening, the circle closes: without fear or favour, those who are alleged to have done the wrong thing — and based on an adequate weight of evidence to warrant laying charges — are being held to account for it.

Far from putting people off politics, or fouling the already low reputation of politicians even further, the general public should be heartened and encouraged by these developments.

It shows that if you do the wrong thing at taxpayers’ expense, sooner or later you will be caught.

And if you’re caught, you will be humiliated, ruined, and — where appropriate — prosecuted for your trouble.

Simple common sense and reason dictates that there will always be someone who gets away with something: so it is in every walk of life, and people are entitled to be angry and frustrated by this unpleasant reality.

But for every one who is caught, the innocent and the swindled can take heart; and for every one brought before the law, the deterrent to others who might follow suit is magnified.

It doesn’t matter whether I think the “dirty duo” are guilty or not; that’s now up to a Court to ascertain.

But for all the scuttlebutt and innuendo and open secrets that have flown around NSW and beyond for many years, this pair of alleged miscreants will finally be forced to explain themselves: and for that, today has been a very, very good day in Sydney indeed.

 

Not Again! Pauline Hanson Slithers Back To Elective Politics

THE MURDOCH PRESS reports today that former MP, One Nation founder, repeatedly defeated candidate and general embarrassment Pauline Hanson is set to resume in elective politics, having reclaimed the leadership of the party she founded 17 years ago; this news is a joke, and whatever Hanson’s latest motive or whatever “emergency” she purports to seek to solve, Australia “needs” Hanson like the proverbial hole in the head.

State seats. Federal seats. Lower house seats. Upper house seats. Having first been an obscure local councillor in Ipswich 20 years ago before achieving notoriety as a disendorsed Liberal candidate in 1996 and suffering a plethora of electoral defeats in the decades since, you’d think she might have got the message.

Yet the news this morning that serial candidate and national embarrassment Pauline Hanson is set to re-enter politics would at least make for a bit of sport for election watchers and commentators if it weren’t so ridiculous, or likely to result in the characteristic disruption that seems to follow Hanson wherever she goes.

Nearing the four-year mark of writing on political affairs in Australia, my readers know I have little time for Hanson and her odious agenda, and whilst we’ve discussed her fairly infrequently — and people can recap on these moments here — I think it is fair to say the last thing this column has ever offered Ms Hanson is support.

And why would we?

The news Hanson is set to reclaim the leadership and “chairmanship” of her One Nation party — and to stand, yet again, for Parliament somewhere, anywhere — should send a shudder down the spines of reasonable conservative politicians across Australia, who typically wear the brunt of the lamentable Hanson’s political forays.

And it is unclear exactly where Hanson proposes to stand for office, or at which level of government; about the only thing that can be said with any certainty is that with nominations now closed for the state election taking place in Victoria in a little over a week, it won’t be here — and thank goodness for that.

But with other elections set to occur early next year in two states and a federal election a bit over 18 months away, she might even stand in all of them: because for all her talk of being the “mother” of Australia and her propensity to pop up all over the country in search of seats in Parliament, the last thing anyone could accuse Hanson of is loyalty to one, fixed set of voters.

Whether through delusion or some arrogant conviction that her appeal really is greater than the two modest wins she has to her credit — despite a raft of embarrassing defeats — Hanson has shown she expects voters everywhere to buy into her bullshit.

Now 60 years old, there is no indication that she has any fresh ideas or driving imperative to claim elective office; having previously campaigned on — and alienated — groups ranging from Aborigines to Asians to Muslims, it remains to be seen which will be her target now.

But with recent pronouncements that “16 to 25 percent” of Muslims are radicalised fundamentalists, it’s not hard to guess.

I’m not going to labour the point; having noted Hanson’s re-emergence, the mainstream press would be responsible to limit its coverage of Hanson’s activities, lest it unduly promote her insidious enterprise: after all, in the absence of media oxygen, it will be more difficult for her latest foray into politics to succeed.

And I will restate my biggest criticism of Hanson: even allowing for the possibility she is sincere in her concerns and stands on issues that are valid (which is a debatable point at the minimum), Hanson is adept at voicing “problems,” but when it comes to the former “fish and chip bitch from Ipswich” — as one pop song once caricatured her — there is never a solution to be seen.

I just think Australia has moved on from the era of “shock politics” that propelled Hanson to prominence 20 years ago.

And whilst the spectacle of fragmented upper houses across the country has made stable and effective government virtually impossible, at both state and federal levels, this is a problem that derives from electoral systems that have been progressively rigged by Labor administrations in recent times — and is not some “problem” Hanson represents a fix to.

In fact, she will simply make a bad situation worse if (God forbid) she is ever elected.

This country needs a proven disruptive influence of Hanson’s “calibre” like it needs the proverbial hole in the head.

And with the likes of the insidious, brainless Jacqui Lambie soaking up taxpayer dollars on parliamentary salaries for which there is no merit-based justification in paying, there are already enough idiots in office as it is without adding further to their ranks.

At least this time, nobody can say they haven’t been warned…

 

Sun Rises In West As Sarah Hanson-Young Seeks “Facts”

IN AN OXYMORON, Communist Party Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young has embarked on a “fact-finding mission” to Cambodia to investigate conditions “refugees might encounter” if resettled there; given the Senator’s odd version of the facts on asylum seeker issues to date and her jaundiced view of reality at the best of times, the prospect she will report any “facts” is less than that of the sun rising in the west tomorrow morning.

It’s very difficult to take Sarah Hanson-Young all that seriously, when she professes “compassion” for just about anyone who is not Australian, when it is remembered that her response to the deaths of more than 1,000 asylum seekers at sea was as brutal and as cavalier as it was succinct: “accidents happen.”

And it is ridiculous (and bordering on an obscenity) that so vituperative is her outrage over the Abbott government policies that stopped countless hundreds of drowning deaths that she would prefer the restoration of the previous suite of failed policies to the government being able to claim a skerrick of credit for a job well done in this area.

IN A WORLD OF HER OWN…the adventures of Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.

 

It’s been some time since the nasty piece of work from South Australia has attracted the attention of this column, although it’s a dubious achievement of sorts that after almost 900 articles published here to date, this one — particularising her attempt to dispute the realities over asylum seeker deaths under the policies the Greens were jointly responsible for enacting, and her inability to withstand questioning on radio about it by a reasonable journalist — remains the fourth-most read of the lot, and continues to attract readership every week since being published over a year ago.

It seems another attempt at fiction could be in the offing, with Hanson-Young now in Cambodia — presumably at the expense of the taxpayer — to investigate conditions that might be experienced by refugees resettled there under the Abbott government’s contentious arrangements with that country; and irrespective of the merits or otherwise of those arrangements, the portents for any balance in the good Senator’s findings appear grim.

Apparently keeping some kind of log of her travels on Twitter (using the hashtag #FactFindCambodia), it seems Hanson-Young’s disgraceful sense of perspective knows no bounds, with the disgusting imputation that the federal government is intent on abandoning young girls resettled under the policy to sexual servitude and exploitation (and remember, this is from the Senator’s own record of the “facts” she has found).

I’ve read about this in The Australian tonight and had a look through the (brief) weblog on Twitter, and it’s difficult to see what the Senator is doing in any other light than deliberately causing trouble if the tenor of her jottings to date are anything to go by.

As the minister, Scott Morrison, pointed out on 2GB this afternoon, the arrangements for resettlement of refugees are not even finalised, let alone any preparations made; and even then, resettlement will be voluntary, and consist of very small numbers of people.

But this doesn’t bother Hanson-Young, who appears hellbent on finding the very worst aspects of life in Cambodia, as they stand now, and in the absence of any of the infrastructure and support the government will put in place under its resettlement scheme: a selective appraisal indeed of a policy she purports to seek the “facts” about.

I would suggest the Senator is motivated more from a desire to inflict damage on a conservative government for the sake of it than she is by any real concern for asylum seekers; her cavalier and flippant remark that “accidents happen” in response to more than a thousand drownings justify this stance, as does the fact she is out hunting for ammunition before the policy she opposes has even been implemented.

As Immigration minister Morrison notes in the article I have linked, facts and Sarah Hanson-Young aren’t two things that readily come to mind at the same time; and as trite as his words might be, his assertion that Hanson-Young’s trip will simply give her something to “whinge and complain (about) like she always does” is on the mark.

Pigs might fly, and charcoal might sprout, and — tomorrow morning — the sun could very well rise in the west.

But will Sarah Hanson-Young uncover any “facts” about refugee policy on her current jaunt to Cambodia?

Don’t hold your breath.

 

Empty Rhetoric: Obama’s BS On Climate Change

THE POLITICAL LEFT — internationally — is cock-a-hoop in the wake of a “deal” between China and the USA on climate change, announced last week by US President Barack Obama; far from isolating Australia, this arrangement will never even take effect, and far from achieving anything meaningful, it will disappear behind the shifting priorities of Chinese pragmatism and the reality that Obama has lost control of his own government.

I have continued to be deprived of the time I would like to post on this site over the past few days, and whilst I haven’t published anything I have certainly been keeping track of the goings-on at both the G20 summit in Brisbane and in politics generally; we will, I’m sure, touch on several of the “missed” issues as we move into the week.

But I wanted to comment on the “deal” on climate change that was announced late last week by Barack Obama, because it’s been some time (and distance) since such an unutterable pile of sanctimonious bullshit was last dumped on “believers” and the gullible and/or stupid — assuming, of course, those groups aren’t comprised of exactly the same people.

And in terms of the distance travelled since the last batch of comparable verbal diarrhoea was encountered, the name of a town called Copenhagen springs to mind.

I’m not going to pull apart the specifics of the promised deal; there is no need to do so, save to note that China and the President of the United States appear to have confirmed a framework of aspirational targets to enact swingeing cuts in global emissions, with China and the US ostensibly providing the world “leadership” that has been conspicuously absent, often demanded by the “believers,” and claimed for patent purposes by the Australian Labor Party and the Communist Party Greens in the form of a tax.

Rather, I simply wish to point out why this latest exercise in verbal defecation won’t even yield a solid stool, let alone emissions reductions, and anyone who accepts the announcement by Obama without a very big pinch of salt probably needs their heads read.

On the Chinese side, it has been a fashionable argument of the Left (and the Greens in particular) to observe that China has been closing down coal-fired power generation plants, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future, and such an observation is correct.

But this characteristic and deliberately misleading half-truth neglects to add that the decommissioned coal-fired plants are being replaced by new, far larger plants (that also swallow tons and tons of coal) and being augmented by new nuclear power generation and hydro-electric capacity, too; far from reducing her energy footprint, China is rapidly and exponentially expanding it as it caters to the energy consumption needs of a modernising — and ballooning — new middle class comprising hundreds of millions of affluent Chinese.

To date, China has exhibited scant practical interest in emissions reduction, combating climate change, tackling global warming, or any of the other emotive watchwords of the Left.

The “science” of climate change — settled or not, depending on your view, and not even relevant on this occasion — has failed, if it is true at all, to curb or even alter the course of colossal industrialisation of Chinese industry, commerce, and consumption, and there is no reason to believe this will change.

What China does have a reputation for is pragmatism: pragmatism through the prism of its own interests and its own agenda, and this, I suspect, is where the “deal” announced by Obama comes into play.

After all, China has faced relentless criticism and sustained political pressure from the global Left on this issue; what better circumstance in which to strike a “deal” could it wish for than with someone who currently stands in the shoes of Barack Obama?

A big hint that this “deal” is nothing more than a partisan political stunt (agreed to by the Chinese for reasons of pure and understandable expediency) was glaringly evident from the start; the USA and China may very well be the two biggest emitters in the world, but the complete absence from the structure of the agreement of any of the others — India, the EU, the UK, Russia, or the developing bloc in South America — somewhat tarnishes the glittering light in which the “deal” was presented.

But Obama, with two years remaining on his presidential term, can do little more than talk.

Already unable to control the US House of Representatives, his Democratic Party was brutalised in mid-term elections last week that saw it also lose control of the US Senate; consequently, Obama is — to use the American vernacular — a lame duck in every sense of the word.

In practical terms, it means Obama can promise whatever he likes, but unless it’s something he is able to decree by the Executive Orders he has proven so enamoured with during the past six years, his initiatives will never see the light of day: and anything that radically targets climate change — a subject viscerally detested by the energised Republicans who now operate the levers of legislative government in the USA — will be bitterly and ruthlessly savaged by his opponents.

It is all well and good that the G20 summit in Brisbane has concluded with the issuing of a communique that pledges constituent nations to “support strong and effective action to address climate change;” these are mere words, and whether you fit the “believer” or “sceptic” approach to climate change, they will amount to precisely nothing.

The Chinese, for their part, can hardly be blamed for signing up to Obama’s plan; after all, with a complete inability on the US side to deliver, they will be held accountable for nothing by doing so.

And if a Republican wins the White House in November 2016 — which is a distinct possibility, with Jeb “the competent one” Bush increasingly likely to seek his party’s nomination — this “deal,” announced with such fanfare, will quietly cease to exist at all.

Which, frankly, is as it should be.

I’m not passing any judgements on the merits or otherwise of what the agreement sought to achieve; merely to note that far from the big win the lunar Left thought it had scored, it is nothing more than an empty, empty promise.

What it was, however, was a flagrant play at partisan politics.

Far from isolating Australia, the “deal” probably makes the Abbott government’s Direct Action plan look good (or at least, to look better than it otherwise would); after all, doing something, however spurious, is better than doing nothing more than talking.

And with the darling of the American “moderate Left,” Hillary Clinton, seeming more likely than not to stand against (we presume) Jeb Bush in 2016, there is a clear vested interest for Obama to pump up the hot button issues US Democrats crow about at election time, but rarely — if ever — deliver on.

Obama can hardly crow about healthcare, employment, education, welfare reforms or the state of the US budget deficit: after six years as President (and too long to keep blaming George W. Bush), these are all signature failures of a regime seemingly obsessed with European-style socialism and the unproductive sovereign debt levels that accompany it.

And he can hardly claim to have been a successful President in international affairs when the Cold War has all but resumed on his watch, with Russia emboldened by his policies of strategic disarmament and the perception that if push came to shove, Obama would do nothing.

Just like the annexation of Crimea and ongoing Russian-orchestrated insurgency in Ukraine have been met with little meaningful response.

And elsewhere in the world, and particularly in those areas in which America traditionally prides itself on its influence in the Middle East and Asia, the number and scope of dangerous flashpoints have exploded on his watch as President.

Hence the grandiose rhetoric and posturing on climate change, and this “deal,” from Obama: just about the only agenda item in the Democratic manifesto his administration has singularly failed to bugger up thus far.

Nobody ought to believe for a moment that “progress” has been made on climate change this week, if that’s what they are looking for: it hasn’t.

And far from being hailed as a hero and a man of principle, this “deal” of Obama’s should be examined in context of the spectacular failings of his administration and the failure he has been as President, and the tacky attempt to reset US Democratic politics in Clinton’s favour by using this incendiary hot-button issue in an international setting when his own domestic political shortcomings now dictate he can deliver absolutely nothing.

This is empty rhetoric, delivering an empty promise, premised on little more than hot air and bullshit.

But Obama has made a political career from these attributes for years, so it ought to surprise no-one.

It should, however, make plenty of people who “believe” — in both Obama and in climate change — very angry indeed.

And when all is said and done, China – in agreeing with Obama — can hardly be blamed for it.