“The Right Kids?” Thoughts On Education, And Tony Abbott Is Right

In a substantive directional statement on policy that should be welcomed by his detractors, Tony Abbott has today said that the “right kids” should stay at school beyond year 10, and that the rest could be wasting their time. His position ought to be applauded.

One of the great frauds in Australian politics is that the Labor Party is “the party of education:” it is a load of codswallop, and based in nothing other than elitist chatter and sycophantic media coverage.

Apparently the ALP has devised a new “incentive scheme” to keep kids in school until the end of year 12; the bait is a potential extra $4000 per child for doing so.

Another Labor bribe, this time aimed at its self-decreed educational standards.

Rather than sink the boot into the ALP directly, on this occasion I’d like to share some thoughts and personal anecdotal experience of this issue.

The Labor Party, increasingly over the past 40 years, has sought to move Australia to an environment in which anyone with less than a university degree would be compromised on their journey into the world.

And compromised as a recognised functional member of society; no degree, in Labor eyes, equals no value.

Never mind how ludicrous such a position might be.

And never mind the real, real value of experience — which, outside true professions (law, medicine, dentistry, vet science, etc) — is of far more value than a bit of paper.

This lunacy reached its zenith 20 years ago, at about the time my disenchantment with so-called “education” at a university exploded.

I was one of the smartest kids in the joint at high school; my TE Score (Queensland Tertiary Entrance rating) of 920 in 1989 placed me in the top 4% of the 46,000 graduating year 12 students that year.

I was also — by peer sentiment — the “most likely” to achieve anything I wanted.

Yet I hated (REALLY hated)* university; I detested the Journalism course I had fallen into when I missed out on a Law placement; and after finishing the introductory Journalism units and kicking that stream aside, I was mortified by what passed as “English” in a department in which I nonetheless completed a double major, and livid at a Government department in which if I wasn’t a Socialist I was shit beneath certain lecturers’ feet.

Ultimately I dropped out of the university; my $10,000 Hawke/Dawkins/Keating era HECS debt is paid, but I have no degree and in the eyes of Labor Party policymakers, no value as a human being.

You see, university degrees make you human, when you’re the “Education Party.”

But applying for jobs…answering advertisements 20 years ago for positions I know now mandated no more than a bit of common sense and an ability to turn up every day required a degree (and preferably a post-graduate qualification) and an impeccable academic record.

Even in sales and marketing, where I’ve earned my living for most of the 19 years since leaving the university…I love the advertising and media industry, and it’s not for the stupid or the meek; but it is also a place where a level head, a healthy dose of common sense, and a refusal to tolerate fools is far more valuable than a piece of paper from a university ever will be.

But there’s nothing wrong with me; I’m still the smartest bloke floating around, viewed one way; I’m vastly employable, have a nice little family, have intelligent interests, and a lot of friends just as smart as I am who provide vital intellectual stimulation, nourishment, and lots of discussion.

Why would I need a degree?

It seems to be more of a salient question than I’d realised until today, because finally — finally — other people are talking about it too.

It’s a simple fact that some people aren’t cut out for formal education; people who want to be hairdressers, tradesmen and the like have nothing wrong with them.

They just don’t belong in a school, and so many of them nowadays finish year 12 because they feel they have to, only to commence apprenticeships they could have begun two years earlier (and made far more productive use of their time than sitting in a classroom).

I’m someone who is suited to formal education, but ended up in the wrong course (if anyone can explain to me why Maths/Science results should be considered for entry into a Law course — whose only prerequisite subject is English, which I have always had well-covered — please explain it to me)!

And speaking personally again, today it’s too late — life has zoomed me off into other directions, and responsibilities as a husband and a father are prohibitive of a return to study for three or four full-time years (and three or four full-time years of earning either nothing, or the pittance that is Austudy — if I’d even qualify for it).

There are an awful lot of young kids trapped in the education system — that’s right, trapped — with no academic aptitude whatsoever, no interest in their curriculum, and no prospects of achieving much more from high school than a cataclysmic bomb-out.

But rather than lording it over these kids to finish year 12 (as if it were some task fundamentally essential to the propagation of life or something), I think Tony Abbott is right: some of them shouldn’t be there, but equally, there are other things available to those kids that can make them every bit as successful in the world, in their own way, than the kid who is able to become a lawyer.

The Howard government made a big investment in apprenticeship training schemes; I think Abbott’s discussion on the issue probably seeks to build on that.

Vocational education — as opposed to academic education — is a noble thing; who’d have ever thought the ALP would vacate this ground, and that the Liberal Party, as it has done for nearly ten years, become the chief advocate in Australia of the tools and the trades?

And let’s at least make mention of the kids who do finish year 12, bypass any further education, and go off to brilliant careers in service industries, sales, or private enterprise: these are instinctive pursuits, not academic ones.

Doubtless I’ll get pilloried for a) alleged anti-Education opinion, and b) for defending Tony Abbott’s musings on this issue.

But a little bit of common sense goes a constructively long way, and from that perspective, I’m very happy to see this issue surface.

Simply stated, kids who want to work but are naturally unsuited to academic education have alternatives, and those alternatives should not be denied, deferred or fudged in the dubious name of portraying “year 12 retention figures” as some sort of poster achievement.

In closing — and just for the record — the ALP (in Treasurer Wayne Swan’s “mid-term budget outlook” or, simply, mini-budget) today cut $241 million out of university funding over the next four years.

I’ll bet the student rent-a-crowd that always mobilises against Liberal governments will remain silent, and at home.

But it illustrates the point that even the “Education Party” takes its “responsibilities” in this area expediently, and is all too ready to sink the knife when it thinks its own credibility and prospects of survival are threatened.

What a sick hoax. What hypocrisy. And what a joke!

*Tony Glad, Tony Thwaites, Colin Hughes, Chris Tiffin and Joan Mulholland…you are exempt from this analysis.

A Slippery Customer And A Shifty Deal Too Clever By Half

At 7.30am on Thursday morning, the resignation of (former) House of Representatives Speaker Harry Jenkins looked noble and innocuous. Six hours later Jenkins’ image was unbesmirched, but his resignation had spawned a grubby, sordid and cynical little episode in Australian politics.

Before we go further — to avoid any charge of “jump on the bandwagon” syndrome — I want to post links to two articles I published on 4 September and 10 September, respectively, this year:

https://theredandtheblue.org/2011/09/04/memo-to-peter-slipper-do-your-worst/

https://theredandtheblue.org/2011/09/10/rorts-and-intrigue-peter-slipper-mp/

By now, everybody knows that the respected former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Labor’s Harry Jenkins, has been replaced by Liberal Party traitor and self-serving turncoat, Peter Slipper.

ALP apparatchiks and backroom types are quietly congratulating themselves on realising the political coup of the decade; their incompetent government and its useless Prime Minister would appear to have secured the full length of their current parliamentary term in office.

I would caution that this is an exceedingly bad deal, executed in characteristically half-baked fashion, and which may very well rebound on the Labor Party — and fatally so.

First, to Peter Slipper.

Readers who have seen either of the articles I’ve reposted here (or who’ve followed public affairs over the years or, indeed, actually read the paper in the last ten weeks) likely already have an idea of what Peter Slipper is all about.

In the few days since his election as Speaker, it has rankled and irked me enormously that sections of the press have sought to tell a tale of his “disillusion” with the Liberal Party (or should I say, the Queensland LNP) through the prism of its manoeuvres to push him out of Parliament through a preselection challenge by former Howard government minister Mal Brough.

It rankles, because Slipper is a classic manifestation of the adage “so as you sow, so too shall you reap;” having been — at best — an intermittently constant embarrassment to the Liberal Party through his own actions for decades, it sought to get rid of him.

At worst, it has been suggested, e’er gently, that he is actually a systemic rorter of the public purse, committed not to the good and proper service of his electorate and country, but rather to himself.

And it irks, because the journalists publishing this sort of pap ought to know better: there were excellent reasons for Slipper to be kicked out of his party, out of Parliament, and — depending on the outcome of various inquiries into his activities — potentially charged.

So let’s hear no more of Slipper’s “disillusion” with his own party; having been too tolerant of him for too long, the Liberals were gearing up to throw him out, for reasons he had only himself to blame for.

As a member of the Liberal Party I can only say “good riddance.”

Even so, what “Slippery Pete” has done, in engineering his own elevation to the Speakership of the House, is breathtaking in its audacity and in its sheer disregard for probity or any sense of standards in common or public decency.

This is a backbencher who has amounted to nothing in a parliamentary career spanning close to thirty years. His value to Australia as a parliamentarian and lawmaker therefore has to be questioned.

He sat in a Coalition party room during twelve years of conservative government, in an era in which natural attrition saw a modestly constant turnover in the Howard ministry; Slippery Pete could rise no further than a brief stint as a Parliamentary Secretary.

There were exceptions, but for the most part, Howard did promote people on merit — even people he personally or politically detested.

Therein lies a clue as to how much of his pay cheque Slippery Pete is actually worth.

Yet over the years he has cost the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenses; a substantial portion of this has had to be repaid on the back of various inquiries into his claims; and even now, Slipper faces formal investigations into a raft of outstanding matters relating to his various parliamentary expense claims.

I don’t intend to pre-empt those inquiries and so make no pronouncements on their likely outcome.

But I will say that Coalition MPs (who, obviously, refuse to be named) are promising that an avalanche of unspecified dirt will be dumped on Slipper in coming weeks and months; when that avalanche hits — and I believe it will — then Slippery Pete will be the ALP’s problem, and Julia Gillard’s problem, and not that of the Liberal Party.

Our crowd was trying to get rid of him, and to see he was brought to answer the questions hanging over his head in terms of probity and accountability.

Labor has now trashed that endeavour for the sake of its own expediency.

And the problem with expediency in politics is that it usually returns to bite the perpetrator on the derriere.

Much has been made in the mainstream press of how this “coup” will deliver stability to Labor, and of how it will “virtually guarantee” the government will now serve out its full three-year term.

I disagree completely; indeed, I now lay out no less than four highly possible/probable scenarios that could see Labor forced to the polls, ironically on a quicker timeframe as a result of the grubby deal to install the questionable Member for Fisher as Speaker.

1. This is the obvious one; there is a rumour circulating among insiders who ought to know that the errant, hapless Member for Dobell, Craig Thomson — he of “Hookergate” fame arising from the alleged misuse of a credit card — is set to be charged by the Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions early in the new year.

Should this happen, a by-election in his NSW Central Coast seat would almost certainly be won by the Liberal Party; the ALP would be right back where it started there alone.

2. There’s speculation that the seemingly more secure numbers in Parliament might lead to Julia Gillard disciplining, demoting and/or sacking outright her Foreign Minister, Kevin Rudd. It’s true that I am on the record as absolutely detesting Rudd, and that I have opined that from the perspective of maintaining party discipline, Gillard would be well-shod of the imbecile.

However, getting rid of Rudd — ironically — might have been safe to do six months ago, but it certainly isn’t now; sacking him would trigger a by-election in his Queensland electorate of Griffith that the Liberals would also almost certainly win — even if Peter Beattie were the ALP candidate, as has been mooted in some quarters.

One will acknowledge something about Rudd for once, however — whilst the selection of Peter Slipper as Speaker is a politically idiotic move of the lowest order, Rudd at least has been seen to be doing something to try to shore his government up, rather than to destabilise it, however misguided that attempt at assistance might be.

So ticking time bomb #2 is Kevin Rudd…

3. Eccentric Independent MHR Andrew Wilkie — with his near-obsessive campaign over so-called poker machine reform — cannot be afforded the opportunity of pulling his support from the government if you sit in Labor shoes.

There has been considerable (and correct) speculation that Wilkie will now be fobbed off as far as possible to appease the concerns of the very clubs in Labor electorates who stand to be hit the hardest by any implementation of the measures on his wish-list.

I don’t think Wilkie has a right-of-centre cell in his body; indeed, he tried to conduct a one-man campaign to run John Howard out of office prior to the 2004 election, which failed.

But if he’s adequately aggrieved, I could see him refusing to support Gillard’s government and — even if not voting with the Coalition — abstaining from voting in any motion of confidence or no-confidence in the government.

If it gets to that point and his vote becomes pivotal, it doesn’t really matter whether he votes with the Coalition or abstains: either way, Gillard loses a vote in a confidence motion on the floor of the House.

…and…4. Peter Slipper himself.

Again, I don’t want to pre-empt the findings of any inquiry into what Slippery Pete has been up to over the years. However, speaking generally and given the nature of the subject matter of such inquiries, a possible outcome could be criminal charges and eventual disqualification from Parliament.

In other words, another potential by-election; and in that particular electorate, with Slipper out of the way and the Liberals represented by a gun candidate rather than a leech, the ALP would have no prospect of victory, and thus lose the extra number it has so assiduously worked to secure.

What can I say? Much has been written elsewhere in the past few days, and I’m late to the subject because I have been so, so busy in my day job in the advertising industry.

But these are the considerations that have largely been missed elsewhere, and the conclusion is this: far from having secured its future for the balance of the parliamentary term, by its actions this week and its recruitment of Peter Slipper, the Labor Party may very well have invited its own demise.

The scenarios I list are all well and truly possible; if any two of the four come to pass, Labor is history.

That’s a hell of a price to pay for a short-term triumph, but if a moment of triumph is what the ALP seeks, I’m sure Tony Abbott can spare a moment.

Talking of “Tonies,” the other one — Windsor — surely signed his own death warrant during the debate on Slipper’s election; behaving like an undisciplined Labor backbencher, taunting the conservatives, and likely infuriating those of his own (archly conservative) electors he hasn’t already alienated in the course of the last 16 months.

And can I just correct, in closing, something that has been misreported in most mainstream media channels? This government does not have two years left on its parliamentary term; it has, in all likelihood, about 18 or 19 months.

It is true at law that a term in government runs for three years from the first sitting date of a Parliament, and that an election campaign may take place after the expiry of those three years, which would indeed buy the ALP a polling date in late November 2013.

However, the public at large mostly has no comprehension of this and, indeed, expects elections to occur every three years at the most.

Kevin Rudd made much of the public ignorance about this, when he sought to portray Howard’s failure to call an election in late August 2007 (with a polling date around the 9 October anniversary of the 2004 election) as evidence Howard was frightened of facing voters when in fact he was exercising a constitutional right.

But to finish on the point, Peter Slipper will pocket a great deal of additional money at the expense of the taxpayer as a result of this week’s developments.

He will render no proportionate service to the Commonwealth in exchange for that money.

And the Labor Party politicians and backroom henchmen who seized so ruthlessly on the opportunity provided by an honest man’s decision to relinquish a cushy job may very well regret their actions.

I think the election of Peter Slipper as Speaker of the House of Representatives may well be the terminal mistake that eventually, and ultimately, flings Labor into the abyss of opposition — perhaps for 15 or 20 years.

The final nail in the coffin, if you like.

What do you think?

It’s Time For Kyle Sandilands To Be Booted Off The Air

This subject isn’t political in the strictest sense, but it has to be covered; and I issue an open invitation to anyone who knows Kyle Sandilands, follows him on Twitter, or has presences in other social media to repost this article. Oh, and of course, to send it to ol’ Kyle himself.

Some readers might not like the language here — but be fair; I’m only going to quote the guy.

If there’s one lady my heart and sympathies go out to tonight, it’s Ali Stephenson, the News Ltd journalist guilty of nothing more than reporting that the boofhead Sandilands’ latest TV show was being reviewed in social media as — well, pretty awful.

Ms Stephenson certainly didn’t deserve what followed.

On the relevant moron’s radio show, Sandilands launched a despicable and reprehensible personal attack on Stephenson, who had done nothing other than her job; the brittle glass jaw and the fragile ego of Kyle Sandilands mightn’t have been visible over the airwaves, but their presence was undeniable.

Sandilands kicked off proceedings, in retaliation for Stephenson’s review, by making pronouncements about her that she was “a fat slag,” “a fat bitter thing,” “a piece of shit,” and a “little troll.”

Nice.

Undeterred — clearly ignorant of the freedoms of speech that are available in this country, and clearly ignorant of the value of anyone other than himself, Sandilands continued.

“You’re a bullshit artist, girl. You should be fired from your job,” he said. “Your hair’s very ’90s, and your blouse. You haven’t got that much titty to be having that low-cut a blouse.”

He added that “you are supposed to be impartial, you little troll.”

Or in other words, she should say what ol’ Kyle wants said — and if she doesn’t, she’s a “piece of shit.”

At this point in my article, the merits or otherwise of ol’ Kyle’s show are irrelevant.

Just look at what he has had to say.

His remarks about the reporter being a bullshit artist, or that she ought to be fired, might be acceptable as a comment if that’s as far as he went with it.

(And for the record, I don’t think Ali Stephenson is a bullshit artist or that she should be sacked).

But then — as it always does with Kyle Sandilands — it got personal, demeaning, and brutal.

Who cares what the girl is wearing, or what hairstyle she chooses to have? After all, ol’ Kyle is no oil painting himself. He might have buckets of money and a lot of trinkets to throw around, but he has no class and no style.

But to say what he did about Stephenson’s breasts — apparently in relation to a shirt she was wearing — surely registers a new low in broadcasting standards.

Memo to ol’ Kyle: the size of the reporter’s breasts is irrelevant, and so is the blouse she is/was wearing; the only relevant consideration in this context is the report she filed.

Kyle is entitled to disagree with Stephenson, but one might have expected a more intelligent retort than effectively calling her a fat slut with little tits.

Then again, this is not a man known for decorum, judgement, etiquette or any tact whatsoever when it comes to dealing with women.

“Watch your mouth or I’ll hunt you down,” was his blunt warning to Stephenson yesterday on his radio show.

Indeed, he has form for the worst manifestations of utter obliviousness to the sensitivity of women, or to their dignity; and he certainly possesses a total lack of tact.

Ol’ Kyle, interviewing a 14-year-old girl two years ago who revealed she had been raped, became brusque and businesslike. “Was that your only (sexual) experience?” he asked.

He once said that entertainer and comedienne Magda Szubanski — who has publicly battled issues with her weight in good humour and high spirits — could lose weight if she were to be interned in a concentration camp. Never mind the cruel fact her father had fought against the Nazis as part of the Jewish resistance.

Not important to ol’ Kyle.

He once called Woman’s Day editor Fiona Connolly “a fat toad” when she was pregnant.

Let’s also remember that Sandilands held court recently in the media, in apparent soliloquy, on the subject of his life of casual sex, bemoaning the fact that he wasn’t really into it because the whole exercise was meaningless and that the girls in question were only after him for his star quality.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph — spare me!

But pity the poor girls (if they ever even existed) for jumping in the sack with him — ol’ Kyle couldn’t give a rat’s arse about women.

I’m no prude, but there’s casual sex, and then there’s Kyle’s version of it: slag the women off after the event and ram home the message of the meaninglessness of the act, and the predatory nature of the girls who were the 50% participants in it (the other 50% participant was Kyle himself, not that you’d know from his rantings).

Other examples of this bloke’s diatribes abound; there’s little point in republishing any more of them here than is necessary to mount a case against him.

What’s wrong with this idiot? It’s clear he doesn’t represent mainstream 21st century thought.

Indeed, he’d be out of place 200 years ago, so misguided and misogynistic are his views.

I make the point that the beautiful wife he had, Tamara Jaber, left after five minutes of marriage to ol’ Kyle — probably because five minutes was all it took to realise what an imbecile he actually is.

I hope Jaber is happy. Certainly, she is better off away from such a cretin.

And it is pleasing to note that an increasing number of the sponsors of the Kyle and Jackie O Show are pulling their money out.

I wish no ill on Austereo, its partners or its clients, but money talks — and companies withdrawing money from any association with such a fuckwit deserve to praised, feted, and quite frankly patronised.

So, readers — go and buy a car from Holden, or a fridge from the Good Guys; these are organisations who correctly refuse to support a chronically defective individual like Kyle Sandilands.

There are regulations about taste and decency in broadcasting; if Sandilands hasn’t breached them, and/or can’t be found to have breached them, then I’m not the great-grandson of a pioneering Scotsman.

It is time for Kyle Sandilands, with all his boorish, inane, inappropriate and downright offensive carry-on to be kicked off the airwaves in Australia — permanently.

Somebody close to me suggested today that if Kyle Sandilands was so interested in “fat slags” then he should become an ambassador for Jenny Craig…until I reminded this person that such an ambassadorial role would likely lead to the Jenny Craig company going out of business on account of the public deserting it in droves.

Those who employ this dinosaur, this Neanderthal, this boof-headed specimen of contemptibility, ought reassess their own commercial priorities and recognise that Sandilands has no role in the realisation of these.

In the final analysis, I restate ol’ Kyle’s comment that Alison Stephenson is a “piece of shit.”

And in a direct message to Kyle Sandilands, I’d encourage you to go and look in a mirror somewhere — and to take a damned good, long, hard look at yourself.

If you really want to see what a piece of shit looks like, that’s where you’ll find it.

Having Asked For Newspoll Figures…Pro-Coalition Swing Confirmed

Following last night’s post on the Essential Research figures showing movement toward the Coalition — and my deep apologies for polling taking centre square three nights in a row — we now have Newspoll, which overwhelmingly confirms a swing back to the conservatives.

The latest Newspoll, conducted over the weekend just gone, finds primary support for the ALP at 30% (-2), the Coalition at 48% (+4), Greens at 10% (-2), and “Others” at 12% (unchanged).

On a two-party preferred basis, this equates to a Coalition lead over Labor of 57-43 (up four percentage points).

It’s clear that the movement picked up by Essential is corroborated — and reinforced — by this poll; I’d like to see a Nielsen or a Galaxy result to put the tin hat on it, but it’s obvious momentum is again swinging away from Labor.

On one level, this is surprising; as I have said previously, the ALP has had — on paper — its best few weeks in government in a couple of years.

But if the punters don’t like what they see…

Interestingly, the leaders’ approval figures in this poll go against the grain to some extent: Abbott’s satisfaction is unchanged at 34% with his disapproval down two points to 55%; Gillard’s ratings are now identical, with 34% (+4) approving and 55% (-5) disapproving.

On the “preferred PM” measure, Gillard (40%, +5) now heads Abbott (35%, -5) for the first time in nearly six months.

Clearly, voters are now returning to the Liberal fold again; the bounce in ALP support was purely a short-term reaction (this time around) to the positive headline-grabbing things the government has been doing.

The telltale proof of this lies in Gillard’s approval figures, and in her newly restored rating as preferred Prime Minister.

It’s fairly obvious that all the schmoozy, feelgood things the government has been up to recently in its pursuit of decent media coverage have rubbed off on Julia Gillard.

As they should: anyone who wastes the PR opportunities the Labor machine has generated recently is a rank amateur.

Even so, just as Julia Gillard has enjoyed five minutes in the sun, she hasn’t been capable of translating the good press into support for the ALP.

The headline figures are now swinging away from Labor again; as sure as night follows day, Gillard’s personal ratings will follow the ALP support figures south.

It’s just a question of when.

And it raises — again — the interesting question of the putative leadership challenge from Kevin Rudd.

Next week is the last parliamentary sitting week for the year; it’s also the last opportunity (barring a recall of Parliament) for Rudd to expediently challenge Gillard for the ALP leadership.

The leadership change — whether to Rudd, Smith, or someone else — is coming; I’m only surprised that it hasn’t already happened and an election been called.

If this drags on over the summer, and Labor’s numbers continue to melt, we could well be looking at an interesting chain of events in late January or early February.

Anyhow — two of the four reputable polls show the Liberals pulling back most of the ground they’ve lost in the past five weeks; one more result from another reputable pollster really would seal the trend.

We wait and we watch…

 

Quick Post — Essential Shows Swing Back To The Coalition

Essential Research has its weekly opinion survey out tonight; it shows the Coalition reclaiming some of the ground it has lost in the past couple of weeks. It also shows the Coalition has reclaimed more ground than its own results record.

It does need to be remembered that Essential is a cascading survey, just like a radio ratings survey is; that is, each of its new results are an amalgam of half of its previous findings weighted against its current ones.

Even so, this poll is notorious for its numbers not adding up to 100%, and for the vagaries of interpretation that flow from that. Fortunately — this time around — the error is easy to spot and even easier to extrapolate.

Essential finds primary support for the Liberals at 46% (+2), Nationals at 3% (unchanged), Labor at 34% (-1), Greens at 10% (unchanged), and “Others” at 7% (-1).

Despite its headline figures adding up to 100% for a change, its report that the combined Liberal/National vote is 48% records Essential finding the total vote as being 99%.

We’ll call the Coalition primary vote 49% because that’s what it is on these figures…

After preferences Essential finds the Coalition ahead by 55% (+1) to the ALP’s 45% (-1).

I have a large problem with this poll; if anyone can explain to me how the Coalition can pick up two primary vote points and have its two-party vote increase by one point only, then tell me.

After all, primary votes are not subject to preference flows, and if you’re a major party like the Coalition, increases in primary vote support hit directly at the minor parties whose preferences scatter all over the place.

The obvious read on this poll is that its actual result is 56-44 in favour of the Coalition, and because it is a cascading survey, it’s fair to presume that the most recent round of research would be nearer 57-43 or 58-42 the Coalition’s way.

There aren’t any figures on leadership approval, or on the “Preferred PM” measure.

Be all that as it may, however, Essential gives an early indication that the modest resurgence in support for the government is already fading.

Clearly, there is a need to wait on figures from Newspoll, Nielsen and Galaxy before any trend emerges, but these early figures aren’t encouraging for Julia Gillard and her government, given the past few weeks have probably been the best time Labor has had to win favour in at least the last two years.

That’s it — as I said, this one is a quick one. But we’ll track movements on the trend line in political support closely to see if this is a rogue poll or, conversely, a portent of a resumption of the accrual of electoral support by the conservative parties.

Galaxy Poll: Hard Labor In Queensland

Another state opinion poll has surfaced in Queensland; this time it’s Galaxy, finding in favour of the LNP 62-38 after preferences over Labor. Clearly, the endless buckets of muck the ALP have thrown at the LNP have achieved little.

This latest Galaxy poll almost perfectly reflects the Newspoll published in The Australian a few weeks ago; it records primary voting intentions at 50% (-2 from its late August survey) for the LNP, 28% for Labor (unchanged), 10% for the Greens (unchanged), 4% (+1) for Bob Katter’s outfit, and 8% (-2) for “Others.”

After preferences, this equates to 62% of the vote for the LNP and 38% to the ALP — a movement of one point to the conservatives.

The Labor Party, in the last month, have thrown every bit of dirt conceivable, imaginable and imagined at Campbell Newman; clearly, it hasn’t affected the LNP’s poll ratings.

Much has been made, too, of Bob Katter’s Australia Party (or whatever it’s called); these figures show it going nowhere very fast.

If anything, Katter’s crowd is leaching away the protest votes that would ordinarily pass to the Greens; that’s ominous for Labor too, as the direction of preferences is far likelier to be in the direction of the LNP than to the ALP.

The one tiny glimmer of light on the horizon for Labor is the dint its muckslinging campaign has put in Campbell Newman’s personal ratings.

Galaxy finds approval of Newman down 8 points to 47%, and disapproval with his performance up 9 points to 37%.

The old political adage that if you throw plenty of shit at an opponent, enough will stick to do some damage appears to be at work here.

Even so, Newman remains preferred Premier over Anna Bligh on Galaxy’s figures, by 51% to 40%, although that margin too has contracted by some six points from the previous survey three weeks ago.

My sense is that the campaign Labor has waged against Campbell Newman and his wife, Lisa — highly personal, utterly devoid of any basis in fact and as such, highly defamatory — will likely grind to a halt fairly shortly.

It’s reasonable to infer that the very conduct of such a dirty campaign was a testing ground for an early election before Christmas. But public opinion has remained resolutely against the ALP in Queensland, and so its near-certain date with the executioner will occur in February or March as scheduled.

I’ve said before, and will say again, that I believe the LNP will win in Queensland by miles next year; the only question is the margin.

Again, this poll suggests Labor will be reduced to about 10 seats in the 89-member Parliament; I believe they will retain about double that, but a Labor return of 20 seats still represents a 31-seat loss and a swing in the order of 10% against it after preferences.

Will Katter make an impact?

No.

I have said before that his party might — might — win three to five seats; if Galaxy’s figures of 4% for Katter are any guide, he’ll be lucky to even win a single seat.

Will Campbell Newman win in Ashgrove?

Yes.

He has gambled his entire political career on winning this safe-ish ALP seat, and traditional Liberal electorate, from a popular young local Labor member.

This is where the Labor Party’s dirt campaign has been aimed: it knows it is impossible for it to win the wider election, so it is focused on preventing the LNP’s presumptive leader from entering Parliament in the first place.

The simple fact is that Labor in Queensland is spooked; even when it was reduced to two federal seats there in 1996, it had lost state government in a court-ordered by-election early that year, and sat one seat short of state government.

It now faces being wiped out in Queensland at the state level, and further decimated there federally; indeed, it’s not impossible to see the ALP losing every federal seat it holds in Queensland at the next federal election.

And yes, I do mean Kevin Rudd’s seat of Griffith too.

Obviously, the fortunes of the ALP in Queensland aren’t too flash.

And with regard to the merits or otherwise of the LNP, it appears that the conservatives are set to regain government in the Sunshine State; this time — unlike the 1995/1996 episode — by a margin that may make multiple terms on the Treasury benches possible.

The political cycle turns; federally, it did in 1983, 1996 and 2007; and just as it did in Queensland in 1989, so it seems it will finally do again in 2012.

On fair boundaries, of course, Borbidge would have won in a landslide in 1995 and the Hanson factor may never have been an electoral issue.

But this time around, unlike Wayne Goss’ experience in 1995, Labor really is dead meat, and one way or another, the party’s corpse is going to be kicked off the pier and into the river to feed the fish.

Hard times, indeed, for Labor in Queensland; but if Newman becomes Premier, he will have done it the hard way.

I think interesting times loom in Queensland politics, and I look forward to (hopefully) being on the ground in Brisbane somewhere on election night.

It’ll be one of the more fascinating nights in the Queensland state tally room of recent times…

What do you think?

America vs China: Why The US Is The Right Choice

US President Barack Obama has visited Australia this week; as a result, 2500 US soldiers will be stationed here for six months of the year, with the possibility of an increased US troop presence and/or a new US base being established in the future.

Unsurprisingly, China — and some of her neighbours — are not happy.

And unsurprisingly, discussion in the circles of opinion this week has focused on the potential economic damage these developments might inflict on Australia; after all, China — and its appetite for Australian minerals — are not only holding this country out of recession at present, but on one reading would seem to underpin any prospect Australia might have for economic prosperity in the longer run.

Readers of this column know that I place a large premium on the economic welfare of Australia in my opinions on various issues; the one thing I place even more of a premium on is the country’s national security.

So for now, let’s place economic considerations to one side — we’ll come back to those.

And let me say at the commencement of my remarks that they do not apply to ordinary rank-and-file Chinese people, but to the Chinese government, its Communist Party, and the junta which runs it.

China, viewed through a military and national security prism, is not the sort of friend Australia needs or wants. Indeed, even were it to be, it’s not much of a friend to have.

As China has developed over the past forty years — and especially in the last ten to fifteen years — it has become increasingly belligerent in its assertions of its own national interests; those assertions alone should give thinking people reason to pause.

It lays claim to the entire South China Sea, in spite of internationally-recognised sea boundaries; specifically, it seeks control over vast oil reserves and other natural resources contained in the South China Sea basin.

It lays claim over the Spratley Islands, for much the same reason, in the face of legitimate claims held by several other south-east Asian countries.

It is an ally of North Korea. It doesn’t matter that China is North Korea’s only ally; the fact remains that it is allied to a brutal, murderous, regressive, nuclear-armed Stalinist socialist regime.

China has an agreement with Russia — also no democracy — to co-operate on military matters; no small matter, given the historically malevolent nature of Sino-Russian relations.

It is committed to the reclamation of Taiwan and does not rule out military force to achieve this objective, despite the USA being legally obliged to defend Taiwan in the event of any military attack and the near-certainty of the use of nuclear weapons should such a conflict ever eventuate.

China is building military and economic co-operation pacts with various third-world countries, in Africa and South America, to bolster its global influence and to shore up its stocks as an emerging superpower in its own right.

And finally — but by no means least of all — China is run by a regime which crushes dissent, stifles free speech, restricts its people’s access to information from the world at large, and simply disposes of those of its citizens it deems too dangerous to its interests to be allowed to be left alive.

Through its various alliances, co-operation agreements and other pacts, China’s influence already covers more than a third of the world’s population.

And that is before considerations such as Australia’s reliance on orders from the Chinese for coal, gas and so forth are taken into account.

The pending US military presence in Australia has been described as “a strike force” and as “a balance to Chinese influence in the Asia-Pacific region.”

As it rightly should be.

Much as we might need the cheques from China for our natural resources today, the question must be posed: what will we receive from China tomorrow?

It is inarguable that at best, China seeks to extend its influence into every corner of the world; at worst, it could be argued that the economic rise of China is a mere precursor to its military manifestation.

Indeed, China’s military is modernising and expanding at a fearsome rate, and its sabre-rattling and conduct to date are not suggestive of a regime seeking peaceful hegemony.

One other observation I would make with direct relevance to China is that it is home to some 1.3 billion people, in an area not that much larger than Australia with its 23 million inhabitants.

There has been negative reaction to the announcement of the US troop deployment in Australia not just from China but also from its neighbours, some of whom are in dispute with China over other matters. Indonesia, with its 300 million people, is a case in point.

At the end of the day, however, Australia’s security is the responsibility of its government, just as the protection of American interests are the responsibility of the US administration; and after all, Australia and the United States have been staunch allies now for many decades.

So this development should come as little surprise to the Chinese government. The fact it has elicited the reactions it has is suggestive of more sinister motives that may very well have been blunted, if not at least frustrated, by the measures announced this week.

It is inarguable that there are economic and trade opportunities with China that should be pursued vigorously.

It is also a fact that all of Australia’s eggs should not be placed in the one basket.

Especially when the owner of that basket — the Communist Party of China — maintains a persistently undervalued currency to give itself a permanent advantage over all of its partners, and which now openly canvasses a controlled slowdown of its economy, which will hurt all of those partners (but further advantage China itself).

There are other opportunities for trade in the raw materials we export to China; just as we ship natural gas to China, we could ship it to dozens of countries in Europe which are held to ransom by Russia for their gas supplies (indeed, the Russians have closed the pipeline that supplies mainland Europe twice in the past five years in order to make its political will known).

But there will come a day when China, one way or another, is a fully developed country; it won’t have the space to house its people, the food resources to feed them, or the mineral resources to run itself.

Here in Australia we have wide open spaces and the food production resources with which to feed tens of millions of people in addition to our own population — and that’s before anything like this  is even implemented.

There is nothing racist, bigoted or xenophobic in any of this; just a hard, cold assessment of future events that are all too foreseeable, and all too possible.

Pretend the New Zealanders (sorry, Kiwis!) were a nuclear-armed superpower far, far more powerful than Australia is; and consider a future scenario in which they invade Australia, subjugate the population, and enslave the country to materially support their own, at great detriment to Australians and under the threat of conventional or nuclear devastation.

Two potential saviours ride up on white steeds; one is called China, the other the USA.

Who do you pick?

Clearly, Uncle Sam is more a friend to this country than China is, or ever will be.

No matter what export opportunities lie at the end of the Silk Road.

Let’s not forget that, and let’s keep this debate over China and the USA in perspective.

What do you think?