Greens: Give Asylum Seekers More Welfare And Australian Jobs

IN A REMINDER of how out of touch with reality the Greens are, their latest policy on asylum seekers calls for onshore processing, more welfare to be shovelled at them, and the right to jobs at the expense of Australians. It underscores the imperative to get rid of the Greens from Parliament.

Given there has been so much going on in the past week, this is one issue I had meant to post on much sooner; as it is I will keep things relatively brief, but on the question of asylum seeker policy the Greens simply must be held to account.

A couple of weeks ago, we talked about Communist Party Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, in the context of her implosion on Sydney radio station 2GB when confronted by host Ben Fordham over the Greens’ asylum seeker policies.

Based on what has come to light subsequently, it’s no wonder she was tetchy.

In and around everything else we’ve been following, the Greens late last week released a policy on asylum seekers for the imminent election; this truly is a shocker, and it’s hard to see how they can have the bare-faced nerve to even attempt to justify it, let alone lie straight in bed at night.

The key points of this policy are:

  • Onshore processing of all persons arriving by boat, and release into the Australian community within 30 days;
  • Increased welfare payments for asylum seekers, increasing from $442 to $497 per fortnight per person, with additional amounts for rent assistance payable;
  • The unlimited right to work in Australia (and to take jobs from Australians);
  • An increase in the humanitarian immigrant intake from 20,000 to 30,000 per year.

According to the Greens, the whole thing will be paid for by ending offshore processing and shutting down offshore detention facilities.

One will say something nice about Peter Beattie; the recycled Labor has-been hit the nail on the head recently when he said, of offshore detention-based asylum seeker policies, that he didn’t like them — but “they’re the best option we have.”

For the Greens, the imperative is an actualisation of the socialist nirvana to which they aspire, with the wishes of the Australian public ridden roughshod over in the process.

To say nothing, of course, of Australian sovereignty.

I’m sorry, but we don’t need to be shovelling additional billions of dollars in welfare payments and other “assistance” to people who, by and large, shouldn’t even be here.

We certainly shouldn’t be allowing them the untrammelled right to employment, as non-citizens and non-residents; there is ample evidence that employment remains inadequate for the people who actually live here, let alone letting queue jumpers take Australian jobs.

And it goes without saying that asylum seekers most certainly should not be guaranteed release into the Australian community after simple health and security screening.

Greens’ leader Christine Milne seems oblivious to the fact that to institute a regime of the nature her party proposes, far from resolving the asylum seeker problem, it will fuel it — nay, turbo-charge it — even further.

The Greens have always maintained a suite of policies that, if implemented, would see Australia’s borders open permanently to all comers, the country defenceless, and Australian taxpayers and businesses the cash cows to fund whatever the ulterior motive is that sits behind such ridiculous (and possibly unconstitutional) prescriptions of governance.

I’ve spoken a lot in the past about the bleeding heart industry; of chardonnay drunks and compassion babblers and — unapologetically — say that those who would sell Australia out and the interests of those who live here should get the hell out and go somewhere else.

We might be lucky. We might, as a country, be “wealthy.” But at the end of the day, this country and its wealth belong to those who live here, and whilst a little neighbourly goodness and generosity is a great thing, removing all limits on it is perverse.

I’ve kept a link to one of the articles on this policy from last weekend; readers can access this here for a bit more information and perspective on the Greens’ plans.

This isn’t an issue of cruelty; it’s a matter of the national interest.

And that’s the point. It is not in Australia’s national interest to ramp up the number of asylum seekers it accepts, throw billions of welfare dollars at them, give them housing assistance unavailable to most people who live here already, and let them compete for jobs that are the birthright of Australia’s citizens, and the rightful privilege of its residents.

Peter Beattie is right: the current approaches by the Liberal and Labor parties mightn’t be pleasant or perfect, but they are the best on offer.

And if Christine Milne genuinely believes deterrence doesn’t work when it comes to asylum seekers, she could not have framed a better prescription to abandon it altogether, or to ensure that far from deterring asylum seekers and people smugglers, they are given every inducement and encouragement conceivable.

It is, to use the Senator’s own phrase, an “evidence-based approach” all right: an approach based on evidence of how to magnify the problem a hundred times over, with scant regard or care for the consequences.

Once again, the Greens have shown just how out of touch — and lunatic — they really are.

 

It’s “Game Over” As Treasury Intervention Shreds Rudd’s Credibility

THE FINAL BLOW to Kevin Rudd’s credibility was delivered last night, as the department heads of Treasury and Finance stunningly rebuked Labor’s claim of a “black hole” in Coalition costings; Labor’s charges have been shown to be dishonest, and as a result the election race is now over, bar the counting.

It is now safe to say — barring some stellar and monumental gaffe by the Liberals, the prospect of which defies belief — that the ALP has lost this election; the Liberal Party will be elected on 7 September, probably by a wide margin, and yesterday made it a formality.

After months spruiking baseless claims about Coalition costings — most notably that there was a $70 billion shortfall in them — the ALP yesterday hit the brick wall rigorous press scrutiny should have presented: a rebuff, in unequivocal terms from a source of great integrity, of the veracity of the basis of Labor’s scare campaign over budget cuts that an Abbott government would implement.

The intervention in the election campaign last night by the heads of the departments of Treasury and Finance — a development without precedent — has exploded the last hope Rudd and Labor have clung to: frightening the bejesus out of people that nasty Liberals would cut government spending “to the bone” and induce a recession that would cost jobs.

Here is a very simple outline of what appears to have occurred.

Some months ago, the ALP submitted “hypothetical” Liberal policies to Treasury for costing (as they are entitled to do).

Within the parameters of the material it supplied, the findings provided to the ALP suggested the hypothetical policies would be short funded to the tune of $70 billion.

Later — in due course, and in line with its legal obligations — the Coalition submitted its actual policies to the Parliamentary Budget Office for costing under the Charter of Budget Honesty; these were ticked off and no “black hole” was identified.

Today, Rudd has been running around brandishing the earlier, “hypothetical” costings, screaming “It’s a fraud! It’s an outrage! The Liberal Party will cut to the bone!”

So, admirably — and without being asked — the relevant department heads have taken the unheard-of step of releasing a statement to say that their departments never costed actual Coalition policies, and that Labor had been relying on findings into the hypothetical policies it supplied earlier this year.

Moreover, it seems Labor was warned that the research into the hypothetical material it supplied for “costing” could not be attributed to the Coalition at the time it was supplied — very simply because the Coalition was in no way involved in the process itself.

(Does that sum it up clearly? Here is The Australian‘s take on it too, in case I have missed anything critical, and for more on the statements from various senior public servants).

To be fair to Rudd, his proclamations today that Coalition costings amounted to “a fraud” featured a revision downward in the size of the alleged “black hole” to $10 billion, but that’s all the kudos he can take from what has now been clearly shown as a discredited smear.

This is — not to put too fine a point on it — the end of Labor’s election campaign.

Labor has fought the only election strategy it could: ignore its own record, claim underdog status, neutralise or outflank Coalition positions as appropriate on an issue-by-issue basis, and try to scare hell out of voters about what an Abbott government would do.

That strategy now lies in smoking ruins; at best, Rudd has been caught using incorrect material on which to base his attacks on the Liberals; at worst, the entire Labor campaign has been predicated on a systematic and deliberate lie to the Australian public when it knew what it was saying was a complete fiction.

Either way — as has been observed by others — the ALP has forced the public service mandarins to intervene, lest they be charged with aiding and abetting the ALP politically.

And act they have; whether on principle or fear of reprisal after 7 September, or perhaps (and understandably) a bit of both, Treasury secretary Martin Parkinson and Finance secretary David Tune — together with their counterpart at the Parliamentary Budget Office, Phil Bowen — are to be commended for acting to uphold transparency and honesty in the election process.

Labor, however, appears to still not get it.

After the public service statement, Treasurer Chris Bowen and Finance minister Penny Wong were, unwisely, insistent that Coalition policies contained an overall shortfall of $10 billion, and that a Liberal government would make “savage cuts” to find savings.

It’s one thing to legitimately find a shortfall in an opponent’s election costings, and then prosecute the failing until the cows come home.

But it is another matter altogether to campaign, knowingly, on a fabrication and a lie.

It’s worse still to keep doing so after an impartial third party has blown the whistle.

But we’re talking about the Labor Party, and “decency” is not a word that comes to mind.

Provided there is no game-changing gaffe from the Liberals (and it beggars belief that there will be), yesterday marks the point at which a Coalition triumph next week went from being likely to being a lay-down misere.

Nothing Labor says now can or indeed should be regarded as in any way accurate, reliable, credible, or uttered in good faith.

And in a clear sign the ALP does not learn from its mistakes, the parallels with Anna Bligh’s disastrous campaign in Queensland in 2012 — in which she continued to insist Campbell Newman had committed misconduct requiring CMC investigation, even as she admitted there was no evidence to support the claim — are astonishing.

In eight days time, Tony Abbott will be elected Prime Minister of Australia; it was always likely to be thus, but the scope of the belting Labor now seems destined to suffer has been largely and directly fuelled by its own conduct.

This is an ethically and morally bankrupt government, whose contribution to Australia is minimal, and whose Green-stained “legacy” will largely be erased in the next term of Parliament.

There is nothing left for Labor to campaign on. There is nothing it can say that is of any consequence. Its imbecile of a leader has permitted himself to be caught up in a fast and loose rendition of the truth, and very soon, his party will be annihilated.

For Labor, the party will shortly be over. Australia will be the better for it.

North Korea: Excellent Horse-Like (Dead) Lady

THE SEQUEL to the “Excellent Horse-Like Lady” phenomenon in North Korea that we covered last year played out last week, with reports that the singer, and mistress of dictator Kim Jong-Un, was executed last week for filming a sex tape. It’s a troubling reflection on the North Korean junta.

I’m not going to spend long on this issue, but in light of the fact I poked fun at the North Korean smash hit “Excellent Horse-Like Lady” last year in this column I think it only right to appraise readers of the unfortunate ending the whole episode has met.

Reports around the world indicate that the lead singer of the band that recorded the song, Hyon Song-wol, has been executed, along with several associates, for apparently making a video of themselves having sex with each other and selling it.

This comprehensive report — from The Telegraph in the UK — is reflective of the information becoming available through news multiple channels.

The “crime” is puzzling from a uniquely North Korean perspective, as pornography and smut are commodities that are not just legal in North Korea, but extremely and openly popular with its citizens.

It is perhaps a reflection on the peccadilloes of members of the North Korean junta that an otherwise brutally hardline regime would tolerate something that is, typically, one of the first things censored out of existence and driven underground in such societies.

Even so, the brutal nature of the execution — Hyon was reportedly killed by rounds of machine gun fire; a previous execution was enacted using a mortar round — underlines the nihilistic violence that passes as everyday government business in this most repressed of states.

For those unfamiliar with the “Excellent Horse-Like Lady” story from its original run last July, the link I’ve posted to my article at the time, at the top of this one, is worth visiting (as is the “music” video I have linked that earlier article with as well).

But rather than laughing, this time I’m shaking my head…

It could only happen in North Korea.

Deadly Joke: Rudd Postures On Syria And G20

IF KEVIN RUDD — on the sham pretext of mock concern over the spiralling situation in Syria — goes to the G20 summit in Russia next week, it deserves to drive the final nail into his government’s coffin; grandstanding by Rudd will achieve nothing, and there is more at stake than his ego-obsessed image.

The problem with a pompous, egomaniacal, self-obsessed and narcissistic cretin is that he or she will typically turn up to the opening of an envelope; when that cretin is Kevin Rudd, there is no limit — or safeguard — on exactly what he might do.

Rudd has for months hankered after attending the G20 summit in St Petersburg on 5 September, ostensibly to accept the rotating presidency of the forum on Australia’s behalf: a jaunt he indicated, reluctantly, had been ruled out by the date of the imminent election.

However, word is circulating — in the aftermath of the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons on its citizens, and ahead of what seems a likely retaliatory military strike by the United States — that Rudd is again contemplating making the eleventh-hour trip.

And why? To avail the G20 of his particular talents and wisdom in the field of international diplomacy. Seriously.

(Those who haven’t been following the situation can get some background here and here).

I simply point out that at some point Rudd has got to either abandon this ridiculous pursuit of slaking of his ego, or have someone — the electorate on 7 September — do it for him.

One of the more fortuitous consequences of Labor’s increasingly likely defeat in nine days’ time is that this lunatic, with his penchant for traipsing around the world making a fool of both himself and this country, will be involuntarily restrained from ever doing so again in the name of the Commonwealth of Australia and/or its citizens.

Which is just as well, because what is going on in Syria at present is no joke.

Far from it.

For the first time in decades, the West (in the classic sense) — the US and its allies, such as the UK, France, and others — appear certain to militarily strike a country with close ties to and a deep alliance with Russia.

It is inarguable that any use of chemical weapons (or any other weapons of mass destruction, for that matter) represents a moral outrage and an absolute expression of human barbarism that cannot and should not go unpunished.

The problem is that Russia is sticking close to the besieged al-Assad regime in Syria; publicly, it denies that any use of chemical weapons has even taken place, and has given every indication thus far that it is prepared to defend its ally.

Ominously, Syria — along with Iran — was nominated by Russian Prime Minister Dimity Medvedev last year, when he was President, as a global flashpoint from which any military conflict could escalate into a nuclear war. We talked about this at the time.

This isn’t kid glove stuff, or a game; it’s real, earnest, and potentially lethal.

If there is any substance to the rumours that Rudd is considering using it as the pretext to attend at G20, I think fundamental questions must be asked of his suitability for office.

I don’t seriously think there is much likelihood of Russia responding to a Western attack on Syria with the use of nuclear weapons, just to be clear on the point.

But it has persistently and consistently warned of unspecified “catastrophic consequences” that would follow any US-led military strike on Syria; and over the past few years generally — and especially since the return of Vladimir Putin to the Kremlin last year — the general tone of Russia’s communications with the West has grown decidedly more bellicose.

It is also well known that relations between Putin and Barack Obama are frosty, to say the least, and have been for some time.

None of this, of course, should dissuade the West from intervening; reliance on the United Nations Security Council — a forum long used by Russia and China to flex their muscles and frustrate the US — for authorisation to act would seem an abject waste of time.

Some would interpret my remark on the UNSC as tantamount to the advocacy of a flagrant disregard for international law, and they are entitled to their view.

But the fact remains that in an increasingly multipolar world, the United Nations has to a large degree passed its use-by date, and any body of “law” that would shield a regime that uses chemical weapons on its own people — if only by virtue of a vote of veto by one of its members, acting in its vested interests — is morally obsolete anyway.

Whether the US launches a strike on Syria or not, and what (if any) retaliatory measures the Russians undertake, will occur irrespective of anything Australia says or does.

Which brings me back to Kevin Rudd.

Anyone whose only possible path to re-election seems to be to lie (and lie blatantly) about his opponent’s policies can hardly be deemed a fit or proper person to engage in diplomacy on Australia’s behalf and on such a delicate issue; there goes one justification.

Rudd’s foreign minister, Bob Carr, has in any case ruled out any possibility of committing Australian troops to a US-led military effort; there goes another.

And there is no case to justify Rudd’s attendance in St Petersburg on account of Australia’s recent elevation to a temporary seat on the UN Security Council: the G20 has nothing to do with the United Nations, and in any case, even if it did, Australia would play an insignificant role indeed in any proceedings of real consequence.

The simple fact is that Rudd — if he goes to Russia — will have decided to use the dreadful events of the past week in Syria, and the attendant prospective consequences of their aftermath, to justify one more ride in the VIP RAAF jet, and for no better reason than to get some footage into the evening news in Australia a few hours before polling booths open.

Frankly, in those circumstances, Rudd would prove once and for all what a contemptible specimen he is; at a time of international crisis and the real danger of a wider conflagration, that such a cheap stunt would motivate simpering expressions of concern and talk of “helping” to justify the field trip would be reprehensible, to say the least.

Perhaps Rudd might reason that if he’s in Russia, he’d be spared the ignominy of having to make an embarrassing concession speech when — as seems increasingly certain — the ALP loses on 7 September, and loses very badly indeed.

Even so, this is an abominable idea of the lowest conceivable order, and — should he pursue it — then Rudd deserves, politically at least, to be absolutely crucified.

Sensitive Petal: Rude Rudd’s “Hurt” Makes Him Fair Game

YOU CAN’T have it both ways; treating all and sundry as mere plebeians and shit beneath your feet, then claiming to be “hurt” when called on it. Yet Kevin Rudd seeks to do just that, and in so doing waves a red rag at every individual he has ever roughed up or abused in almost 25 years in public life.

I was originally going to write a short post on an article appearing in the Canberra Times yesterday, of all places; it seems even traditional Labor friends like Uncle Fairfax have little time for Heavy Kevvie, and the article — accessed here — is a compelling little read about the self-obsessed and downright deluded little world in which he lives.

Seven years after he first became Labor leader (and with many years prior to that in and around the public eye) it’s surprising anyone still feels the need to say this: Kevin Rudd’s greatest strength is the ignorance of most of the electorate of his true nature, and his greatest weakness is the risk they will find out, en masse, soon enough to turn on him.

There is, of course, 10 days to go until polling day.

And it’s relevant because in the wake of the latest manifestation of his true nature as a pig of an individual — almost reducing a Sky News makeup artist to tears ahead of a “community forum” in Brisbane last week — Rudd has apparently judged it necessary to start talking about what a decent chap he really is.

It’s dangerous ground to tread, and not just because of the ghoulish memories of the “real Julia” debacle it conjures up.

A report in Melbourne’s Herald Sun yesterday quotes an interview Rudd did with the Seven Network, in which he says that “commentary” to the effect that he has a “rude personality” is hurtful to both him and to his family.

The poor petal…”Toughen up, Buttercup” would seem apt advice to a man who has not only spent 24 active years in politics and government, but who is — by repute — a master of the art of dishing out what he is incapable of taking.

Seeking to refute the notion that he is a rude man, Rudd said “anyone who has worked with me closely for a period of time will have a conclusion that is vastly different to what is run in Liberal Party political advertisements.”

Well, published by the Liberal Party the advertisements to which he alludes (like this) may well have been; the problem for Rudd is that the entire content of those advertisements has been provided, publicly and on the record, by his own closest colleagues.

Just like this sterling effort was, too, although nobody seems keen to admit leaking it.

With no apparent irony, Rudd said he hoped the Australian public would not be fooled.

And that would seem a vain hope indeed, because there is far too much evidence on the record to the contrary, and very little of it derives from Liberal Party TVCs.

Like the time he reduced a stewardess on a RAAF flight to tears for bringing him the wrong meal.

Like the time he was thrown out of a strip bar in New York, intoxicated, for alleged improper conduct.

Like the time he constructively described the Chinese leadership — with whom he has spent years trying to ingratiate himself with on the basis that he speaks their language — as “rat fuckers,” which they learned of in short order.

Indeed, like the time he deeply upset a makeup artist in Brisbane; Rudd says it was a “misunderstanding” and that the lady in question deleted the Facebook post that started the furore. But such a justification ignores the fact the post was removed only after senior Sky News figures pressed her to do so.

I’ve only ever laid eyes on Rudd in the flesh once; 20 years ago I saw him, at lunchtime, shoulder his way ahead of about 15 people to get served quickly at the cafe under Education House in Brisbane. Even then people knew who he was, and even that day the muttered consensus was along the lines of “what an arsehole.”

But plenty of other pointers to what Rudd is really like derive from those very people who — in Rudd’s own words — have worked with him closely for a period of time.

The endlessly revolving door on his office, for starters, with an unprecedented turnover of Prime Ministerial staff, is not suggestive of an amiable taskmaster.

Indeed, the stories of staff being driven into the ground over 12, 14, 16 hour days on Rudd’s first stint as PM are commonly known.

There would be no Liberal Party TVCs featuring the bulk of his most senior ministerial colleagues if there was nothing behind their damning indictments, in unison, of Rudd.

And the fact no fewer than nine ministers walked out of the Cabinet within 24 hours of Rudd’s reconfirmation as Labor leader does nothing to dispel their views in favour of his: one could be passed off as a dummy spit, two maybe. But a third of the ministry?

Even during this campaign, there are plenty of stories of Rudd keeping people waiting for hours at a time and in some instances simply failing to show up for arranged meetings and events — sometimes after first digging them out of bed in the small hours or the morning.

It goes without saying that in complaining about people having the temerity to air their views of him — which is no more than he deserves — Rudd has made himself into a target.

Nobody questions the humanity of either Rudd himself or of his family.

But in squawking — to use the vernacular — he’s shown a soft underbelly and a thin skin, which sit alongside his notoriously fragile glass jaw and a famed and volcanic temper.

He is now fair game for anyone who has worked with him — colleagues, associates, staffers — who harbours a real grievance against him to now step forward.

To date, it is universally acknowledged that Julia Gillard and those loyal to her have shown remarkable restraint during the election campaign.

Some of them might not feel so constrained now.

Rudd has waved the red rag at the bull, so to speak, and the cocky taunts about how decent and courteous and charming he is will only enrage the beast even further.

It will be interesting to see if any of the (significant number of) people Rudd has rubbed the wrong way over the years now emerge from the woodwork to tip a bucket over him.

Red Herring: Kevin Rudd’s High Speed Train To Nowhere

FOR A GOVERNMENT with a truly shocking record when it comes to projects, budgets and commercial projections, Kevin Rudd’s promise that a high speed rail link between Brisbane and Melbourne will be built by 2058 is ridiculous. This is election campaign dross at its most crass, and deserves to be ignored.

First things first: I think the idea of a bullet train network down the country’s eastern seaboard is a brilliant one in principle, and one which could be extended west; the idea of a train trip to Sydney in a little over two hours opens all kinds of possibilities — including, for example, interstate job commuting and an explosion in domestic tourism.

I have been reading a report in The Australian which details an apparent ALP election promise to build such a network, announced today by Rudd and his deputy Anthony Albanese, and I have to say it is easily the most ridiculous, pie-in-the-sky excuse for a silly election eve stunt I have come across in more than 25 years of watching Australian politics.

Rudd’s immediate promise — as I can ascertain — is that if he wins the election he will pass legislation to reserve land for a rail corridor between Brisbane and Melbourne, via Sydney and Canberra, and spend $52 million on a new bureaucracy to “finalise station locations and to develop a business case.”

(More Canberra bureaucrats with backsides the shape of their chairs…just what we need.)

Beyond this, the whole thing is little more than hyperbole.

Thanks to the flat topography of the country’s inland, the smartest place to run the rail lines would be well away from coastal areas with branch lines to places like Sydney and Canberra; this runs up the coast by the sound of it, meaning sparse available land will be exponentially more expensive to acquire — to say nothing of the routes being longer.

On the Melbourne to Sydney leg, the train would stop in Shepparton, Albury-Wodonga, Wagga Wagga, Canberra, the Southern Highlands…and no doubt all the other places in the “I’ve Been Everywhere” song too (try this while you read on).

The point: with so many stops it’s difficult to envisage how truly meaningful efficiencies of time can be realised.

It is said to cost $114 billion in today’s dollars, which in Labor Party terms means closer to $500 billion.

Albanese — rather helpfully — suggests the project will return $2.10 for every dollar invested. “This is a project that stacks up,” he said.

Given Labor’s experience to date with the National Broadband Network, however — with costs already ballooning out to almost $100 billion from an initial projection of $37 billion — this sort of assertion of commercial feasibility is a dangerous one for Labor types to make.

The proposal satisfies what Paul Keating termed “the vision thing,” with the rider that the vision required needs to be unlimited in case the eventual destination is never sighted.

But there’s more to this latest cack-brained Labor Party announcement than just that.

There’s something for Communist Party Greens voters, with the contention that “this is about a low-carbon, high-productivity future” with no elaboration as to how it might be about either.

There’s something for a) the business community and b) anyone worried about the end of the mining boom, with Albanese stating it would create 10,000 jobs during construction. But in a country of 25 million people, so what?

There’s something to allow Labor to avoid the politically hazardous decision to bite the bullet and build Sydney’s second airport at Badgery’s Creek, with the unbelievable claim that such a rail network would absorb up to 40% of airline travellers across the equivalent air routes it covers.

And there’s something to have a laugh about, too, with the government’s early proposals calling for a 67km tunnel to provide access to the Sydney CBD. Yeah, right.

It is true that so-called “nation building” projects of this nature are exactly the sort of infrastructure governments of all political stripes ought to be embarking on.

This, however — replete with a litany of delivery dates including 2030, 2035 and 2058, take your pick — is precisely the kind of stunt the ALP now appears driven to resort to, in a clear attempt to bamboozle voters with bullshit over an unbelievable scheme unlikely to ever see a sod turned, let alone constructed in its entirety.

And of course, far from offering something voters could hold the government accountable to, the likelihood of Rudd being dead (or alive at age 73) by the first of those dates in 2030 would seem to absolve he and his cohorts of all responsibility.

Exactly, I’m sure, as it’s intended to.

Ten out of ten for “the vision thing,” but this garbage — clearly — doesn’t stack up, the earnest protestations of Anthony Albanese to the contrary notwithstanding.

And for the record: the Greens are critical, on the curious basis that they were years ahead of the ALP in advocating such a rail link, and with the inference this is all too late now.

Read into that whatever you like, but it seems to typify the turbidity and opacity of thought that is characteristic of Greens policy nowadays.

 

Newspoll, Two Weeks Out: Coalition Ahead 53-47

LESS THAN a fortnight until polling day, Newspoll’s weekly election opinion poll is out; with the Coalition still ahead by a 53-47 margin it represents bad news for Kevin Rudd and the Labor Party, signalling that whatever minor wins Rudd may have had in the past week, only a miracle can save him now.

A narrow debate win. A brouhaha over alleged rudeness to a makeup girl. A campaign narrative built on lies and deception. An international crisis in Syria. A murky pretext for a taxpayer flight to film some easy TV footage. And the chaotic sense nothing has changed.

Good, bad and cringeworthy, the past week has centred on the Prime Minister; I sense the cycle has turned again as it starts anew, with the Liberals’ impressive campaign launch today, but for now, the meagre flicker in the latest Newspoll at least shows people are listening — even if they still intend to deliver Labor a whack at the polls in 12 days’ time.

The latest weekly Newspoll to be published in tomorrow’s issue of The Australian finds the ALP gaining one point, after preferences; it now trails the Coalition 47-53, which would of course spell a hefty defeat if replicated on 7 September.

Ominously for the ALP, 53-47 seems to be the latest marker at which the Coalition lead now appears to average across the reputable polls; whilst Labor gains a little here, it does rather look like the certainty of its defeat is beginning to firm up.

Newspoll finds primary vote support for the ALP up three points, to 37%; support for the Coalition is unchanged on 47%, with the Greens also unchanged on 9% and “Others” down 3% this week to sit at 7%.

The apparent polarisation of the vote these numbers suggest comes as little surprise; most observers have long expected this election to be difficult for small parties and independents as the electorate does indeed polarise around the two major parties and a decisive result.

We will however need to monitor the other polls as well as further Newspolls to see if this is the commencement of a late trend in survey findings.

One point I would make, however, centres on the two-party split: for Labor to pick up three points on primary support but just one after an allocation of preferences, this poll suggests what we expected — that last week’s 54-46 had actually been rounded down to 54% for the Coalition on the two-party result.

So whilst Labor appears to have made up some ground this week, it’s perhaps a larger movement than these polls reflect at face value.

The personal approval and “preferred PM” numbers are a bit of a mixed bag, and whilst they don’t really offer Labor succour, they will at least provide the ALP breathing space in that the unabated decline seems to have at least paused as the election draws nigh.

Kevin Rudd sees his approval rating recover by one point this week, to 36%, with his disapproval falling by two points to 52%; Abbott, by contrast, finds his personal numbers in the best position they have been for a long time now, with 42% (+1%) of Newspoll respondents approving of his performance, and 49% (-2%) disapproving.

Yet on the “preferred Prime Minister” measure, Rudd gains a point and Abbott drops one, with Rudd now leading on the question by 44% to 40%.

It leaves Rudd wallowing in personal approval numbers that nine months ago would have made Abbott look good on the question, whilst Abbott’s numbers now border on outright acceptability for an opposition leader of four years’ standing.

And despite the fact Rudd seeks to position himself in this campaign as the underdog and as a virtual opposition leader, his lead on the “preferred PM” question is no disaster for Abbott given it’s a tough marker for an opposition leader to head, and as Rudd at least has attempted to be seen to exercise some of the power of incumbency (unlike Gillard).

I don’t see that these numbers change all that much, and — as we’ve already noted — they simply reinforce the new aggregate level of the various polls over the past week that seems to have settled with the opposition six points clear of the government.

Is this the beginning of a clawback of support for the ALP?

I doubt it; whilst Rudd has had some shocking publicity in the past week he has also had a couple of wins — unlike the first two weeks of the campaign — and I think it more likely the “pause” in Labor’s descent probably reflects that.

It is also too early to say whether this level represents the plateau on which the eventual vote proportions will fall; there is 12 days to go, and as has been well documented across all media, both sides have an avalanche of media advertising ready to roll in the run toward the final week of the campaign.

I think when we look at the numbers over the next week, including Newspoll late next Sunday night, there will be a clearer sense of what the eventual result might look like.

In the meantime, the Coalition can afford to be confident, if not comfortable, with the way their campaign is progressing, but by no means complacent.

I have said many times now that one relatively significant gaffe — especially in the late stages of the campaign we are now entering — could be all that is required to deal the ALP back into the game in a serious fashion.

I do think the Coalition will win this election, win it strongly, and that assessment remains unchanged.

I also think, however, that despite not being required to do so — and in spite of Labor releasing costings after 5pm on the final day of campaigning at both the 2010 and 2013 elections — the Coalition should now release the costings and savings of its election commitments in full.

Labor has little of any significance or credibility to work with as it seeks to dislodge votes from the Coalition pile, but one thing it has is a scare campaign around “black holes” — even if these are dishonest at best, and blatant lying at worst.

Releasing the costings now would remove that option from Labor, and even if Labor’s response were to continue finding “holes” in the numbers provided by the Liberals, the blowtorch would then fall squarely onto the ALP, which will release costings at its peril, and drag that process out to a similarly obscene time as they were provided three years ago.