Keeping Kate: Newman, LNP Set To Lose Ashgrove

CAMPBELL NEWMAN’S WORST NIGHTMARE emerged from a meeting of ALP members in Ashgrove yesterday, with the announcement that former member and Bligh government minister, Kate Jones, will recontest the seat for Labor at the looming Queensland state election. With Jones’ preselection virtually guaranteed and Newman adamant he will not seek a safer seat to contest, the Premier’s brief parliamentary career looks to be over.

Shortly after the watershed state election in Queensland in March 2012 that swept the LNP under Campbell Newman to power, virtually eliminating Queensland Labor in the process, I wrote in this column that if Newman ran a capable government and provided effective representation as a strong local member in a marginal electorate, he would stand a very good chance of doubling the margin of the victory he recorded over the ALP’s popular Kate Jones, an effective MP whose “Keep Kate” campaign in Ashgrove drastically limited the swing to the conservatives in that seat.

KEEPING KATE: Kate Jones appears set to return to Parliament in Queensland. (Picture: Courier Mail)

Yet as readers know, I’ve had a niggling — and unpleasant — feeling that the unmistakable whiff of a one-term regime has emanated from the Newman administration since about six months after it was first elected, and whilst it ought to be a theoretical absurdity that a first-term government elected with nearly two-thirds of the two-party vote should be contemplating its electoral mortality less than three years later, this is the position in which the merged LNP in Queensland finds itself.

As any watcher of politics, polls and electoral behaviour knows, nothing is ever certain until the final votes are tallied; yet just as the LNP may or may not continue in office after the imminent election, it now seems all but certain that it will be under a new leader unless it does something — and quickly — that it has thus far avoided like the plague.

The news yesterday that former Ashgrove MP Kate Jones will recontest the electorate she lost to Newman all but seals a Labor win in a key seat, in a contest as symbolic as it is a simple race for one of the 45 seats required to form a government in Queensland; I have long thought it likely that Labor would recover this electorate, and have said as much in this column that were Jones to nominate, an ALP gain in Ashgrove would become a formality.

I have never been able to warm to Jones, for the rather cruel and superficial reason that she looks virtually identical to an individual from my past whom I will simply describe as “the wrong girl.”

But I know quite a number of people who live in that particular electorate — some of whom are conservative voters of decades’ standing — and aside from the most abjectly partisan LNP adherents, nobody has anything bad to say about her. In fact, she is seen as “their Kate:” the nice girl making her way who, regrettably, had to be sacrificed on the altar of electoral expediency in the interests of ensuring Queensland got rid of its despised Labor government once and for all in 2012.

In some respects it doesn’t matter how effective or otherwise Newman has been as the member for Ashgrove.

This electorate was always going to be the number one target for Queensland Labor; despite there being 15 more winnable LNP seats on the electoral pendulum below Ashgrove, eliminating Newman from this district was always going to be the ALP’s top priority. And Kate Jones, if she stood, was always going to be an unbackable favourite to beat him.

Despite winning Ashgrove with a 12.8% swing in 2012, Newman’s margin after preferences was just 5.7%; this was at the absolute zenith of LNP support, and a buffer of 5.7%, in the absence of the goodwill required to consolidate it, is unlikely to be adequate to withstand any statewide correction that placed the electoral contest on a more even footing.

There is an argument to suggest that Ashgrove — with its pockets of high affluence and middle-class core — should be the kind of natural conservative state seat that should never have been lost to the Queensland Coalition in the first place, and I too have made that argument in this column in years past.

But the seat also contains a disproportionate number of public servants, teachers, nurses and emergency service workers — the very constituencies the ALP, and its cronies in the union movement, have spent three years whipping into an unbridled frenzy: sometimes with good reason, but mostly just because they can.

Newman has led a government that has become deeply unpopular and, despite his own personal approval numbers collapsing in virtually every published opinion poll, remains competitive overall more by an accident of circumstance than by good management; the existence of the Palmer United Party drains primary vote support from the LNP tally, and notional preference allocations for the purposes of generating opinion poll findings return more than half of these to the LNP on the two-party measure.

Labor, too, has recovered some of the support it lost in 2012, which partly underpins the movement against the LNP as well.

But as I have often reminded readers, 53.6% after preferences was insufficient to secure the Coalition a majority at the state election of 1995; today, the LNP is recording about 52%. It might win an election on that level of support, or it might not.

Whether it does or doesn’t, it still amounts to a swing against the government of 13%: more than double the margin Newman currently enjoys in Ashgrove. And whilst published individual seat polling is relatively sparse, the most recent to be conducted in Ashgrove — by ReachTEL — sees Newman trail Jones, 36-51, on primary vote support (having not seen its two-party findings, I’d guesstimate that particular picture would look something like a 59-41 ALP win if a Communist Greens candidate is also included). Such an outcome is consistent with the bulk of other polling conducted in Ashgrove over the past year or so.

Campbell Newman has been insistent that he will not countenance the transfer to a more winnable seat.

Perhaps this is posturing; perhaps he — and those in the LNP’s inner sanctum — feels that by simply standing firm, Jones and Labor can be worn down, the voters grudgingly won back, and the seat held, if even by a whisker.

Perhaps Newman is resigned to his fate, and content to leave Parliament ignominiously after a single term as Premier, although I highly doubt it: anyone who knows anything about the man would know this is not how he operates.

Yet for whatever reason, Newman appears to be boxed in, and whilst I appreciate that some of those in control of the LNP will not be amused for me putting this so bluntly, the strategy of battening down the hatches and trying to ride out the imminent tornado that is Jones in Ashgrove is a recipe only for defeat.

I have made the case a few times in relation to where I see Newman’s personal election prospects sitting and the scenarios they conjure; this piece in June ostensibly tackled the unforgivable rise in support for Clive Palmer in Queensland, but what I had to say on Newman, Ashgrove, the LNP leadership and Bruce-bloody-Flegg in Moggill is even more pertinent now than it was then.

Any claim that Newman will beat Jones in Ashgrove is ridiculous. It is not going to happen. This is not political denialism or some hare-brained pronouncement.

If the LNP proceeds on the basis Newman will hold his seat and be re-elected to office in Queensland, then election night will be an unpleasant event indeed for that party.

It’s time for a few hard calls.

Is Newman leaving Parliament anyway at this election? If the answer is yes, the LNP has to work out — now, not a month from polling day — who it is presenting as its new candidate for the Premiership, and close ranks around that individual. To me, the only credible replacement candidate is Treasurer Tim Nicholls. If this is the intended course of events, the LNP has to get its story straight, and stick to it.

If the answer is no, it must find a way to get rid of Flegg once and for all in Moggill, and run Newman as its candidate in his place; Flegg passed his political use-by date on the first day of the 2006 state election campaign, was a disaster as a Newman government minister, and it is an indictment on Queensland’s conservatives that he is still the endorsed candidate for their safest and most secure seat in Brisbane.

Any other position announced by the LNP I’m afraid simply doesn’t cut any ice. But very quickly, if a “third option” is to find someone else to push out of their seat instead of Flegg, here’s a very sobering thought for the LNP hierarchy to consider.

There is a huge swing against Newman’s government on its way; nobody knows whether the government will survive, what the distribution of the swing will look like geographically, or how much of the new territory won three years ago will be lost.

But just six years ago, the only seats the party held in Brisbane — apart from Flegg’s seat of Moggill and Nicholls’ seat of Clayfield — were Aspley and Indooroopilly, both of which are natural conservative electorates, but which had both just been reclaimed after multiple terms in the hands of ALP MPs.

There is no guarantee that any other seat Newman transferred to in Brisbane is a certain LNP win in the prevailing climate; and moving him to, say, Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast opens a whole other can of worms (Newman. Brisbane. Imposter.) for the ALP to raise merry hell around.

Either Flegg gets the flick at the hands of his own party, or Newman gets the flick at the hands of Ashgrove’s voters.

Some choice? This is the consequence of Kate Jones’ announcement that she will return to Parliament at the coming election.

And “return” she will. It would be foolish for anyone in the LNP to think otherwise.


An AFL Grand Final Public Holiday? It’s Just A Dumb Ruse

THAT “ONE DAY IN SEPTEMBER” — an event hard-wired into the DNA of sports mad Melbourne — is today, and as he has for the past three years puerile brat and state Labor leader Daniel “Dan” Andrews is politicising it, seeking to exploit the AFL Grand Final in a cynical grab for the votes of football tragics. This cack-brained plan is just dumb, and is so bad as to beggar belief. The idiocy of this extends far beyond the borders of the state of Victoria.

I trust readers will forgive me today, but in publishing this column over the past few years I have learnt that this is one day of the year that few people are all that interested in hard politics — whether there is much happening or not — and so I thought it an opportune time to talk about something local in Victoria ahead of the November state election that intersects with one of the great annual days in Australian sport: the AFL Grand Final.

And my remarks today, whilst deadly serious insofar as actual electoral politics is concerned, will be rather more light-hearted than is usually the case.

Each year for the past three years, the dopey fool who leads state Labor in Victoria, Daniel Andrews — whose latest “man of the people” initiative is to insist that people should now call him “Dan” — has engaged in an annual ritual of cynical populism in promising that if elected to government, the ALP will legislate a statewide public holiday for the Grand Final.

To fall the day before the game, on the Friday, to coincide with the Grand Final Parade through central Melbourne. Or, bizarrely, to fall the Monday after.

Andrews argues that the Grand Final attracts 30,000 interstate visitors to Melbourne each year, adding $40 million to the state’s economy: assertions that find common ground with the Coalition.

But the Liberals — backed by the state Treasury — have also shown that adding a public holiday would cost the state $1.6 billion in lost productivity, with an additional $200 million impost on retail, hospitality and tourism businesses forced to pay penalty rates on a day that frankly, cannot be justified being made into a public holiday at all (and I’m assuming we’re really talking about the Friday before the game; the idea of a public holiday two days after the event is even more ridiculous than the idea of having one for it at all).

In fact, let’s start with the date itself; gazetting a Saturday, other than Easter or Christmas, a public holiday makes no sense, even if Andrews thinks making this one will gift him the common touch by deifying a day many Melburnians believe is “sacred,” which is why we’re talking about the Friday prior or the Monday after.

There’s an additional problem with all three days — the Friday, the Saturday and the Monday — in that some or all of them usually fall within the school holiday period in Victoria, when many families are already off work, but never mind that. Dopey Dan never lets inconvenient practicalities get in the way of cynical politics.

There would seem little point having a public holiday two days after the Grand Final, so that makes the Grand Final Parade the only “hook” of any substance on which to hang this silly idea. A two-hour procession through central Melbourne, which disrupts inner-city traffic for several hours and wreaks enough havoc for city workers as it is, is hardly a weighty enough event to justify a holiday for it.

Dopey Dan has committed Labor to making a Grand Final public holiday a statewide event, rather than one confined to Melbourne; it’s a noble sentiment that Labor’s shadow Sports minister John Eren should suggest that “people in regional areas could have BBQs, they could have luncheons, pubs and clubs would be full” but I’m yet to find any evidence that the Parade is “event” enough for people in regional Victoria (or even in Melbourne) to have activities on a similar size and scale the very day before they do it for the Grand Final itself.

Then again, Labor is terrified that the remnants of its regional seat gains from the 2002 election will be lost in nine weeks’ time and its prospects of returning to government with them, which perhaps explains why voters in the state’s outer extremities are being promised a public holiday for something going on in Melbourne.

Labor has also tried to justify its pledge with the tacky contention that there is a “six month drought” of long weekends in Victoria between the Queen’s Birthday in June and Christmas; I’ll come back to that in a bit, but this “problem” could easily be solved by moving the Labour Day holiday to October, when it is observed in most other Australian states.

Not that you’d expect a Labor government, with its May Day rhetoric and slavering to militant unions — especially in Victoria — to ever sanction that.

But where this dumb idea from Dopey Dan can really do more damage than any cynical political benefit to Labor could ever outweigh is in the rest of the country, where the AFL seeks to grow the game, and in territory that in some cases is barely better than openly hostile.

A public holiday, limited to Victoria, for the “national game” stands to drive a lot of resentment toward the AFL — even as a state government initiative — and reinforce the perception that Australian football is completely skewed toward Melbourne which, by virtue of ten of the 18 teams being based in Victoria, it inevitably is to some extent anyway.

It might not faze those who live in the other “traditional” football states of Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania, although the AFL itself has managed to enrage many in Tasmania by trying to create a team in the boondocks of Western Sydney, where no AFL side would ever survive without the millions of dollars the League is pumping in to artificially sustain one, before admitting a Tasmanian side to the competition.

But the code schism that separates Queensland and NSW from the rest of the country when it comes to football can only be riven wider by creating the perception that Melbourne (and Victoria) continue to get ever more out of the AFL that others do not receive; in Sydney (the embarrassment of the oxymoronic Greater Western Sydney “Giants” aside), the Sydney Swans might be able to fill the tiny SCG at home games, but filling a 45,000 seat stadium in a city of 4.4 million should be child’s play.

As for the 80,000 seat Stadium Australia at Homebush, where the Swans play some finals and home and away matches against bigger Victorian clubs, the AFL is flat out filling it at the best of times, and would stand no prospect of ever doing so were it not for the huge fan bases of big Melbourne clubs which are prepared to head north for a weekend to watch their teams play.

And as for Queensland…when I was growing up as a Carlton supporter in Brisbane in the 1970s and 1980s — well before God ever invented the Brisbane Bears — any admission of barracking for the Blues (or any side in the VFL, as it then was) routinely attracted accusations of homosexuality, mental retardation and the like.

I remember showing up to work at my restaurant management job three days after Carlton won the 1995 Premiership to spend the day doing stocktakes with a boss I had viscerally detested since the day he hired me; this bloke was many things (and “Mr Personality,” if you’re reading, you know who you are) but one of them was that he was football mad.

The “other” football. Rugby League. A game that never made much sense to me, but having grown up around it I treated it as white noise.

I never had much to talk to Mr Personality about — how do you talk to someone you find cretinous and objectionable in every conceivable sense? — but despite the fact I found him a loathsome creature I often tried; that Tuesday morning after the Blues won the flag, thinking football might spark conversation where nothing else had ever succeeded, was one of those times. “Hey, did you see Carlton won the flag?” I asked. “Kicked the living shit out of them!” I beamed triumphantly.

Mr Personality didn’t even look at me. “That’s a stupid game for fuckwits,” he replied.

End of conversation.

The reason I tell these anecdotes is because I don’t think attitudes in the Sunshine State have changed much; Brisbane people are great people but they are also bandwagon jumpers, which is why — when the Brisbane Lions were winning Premierships — colossal local support appeared for the Lions from nowhere, and when they stopped winning, it disappeared.

Now, the Lions struggle for members and revenue; young players desperately don’t want to be drafted there, and many of those who are leave as soon as they can; and the club has haemorrhaged millions in red ink since its last Premiership more than a decade ago.

For all the work the AFL has done trying to build the game in these hostile “frontier” markets, and for all the money it has disproportionately poured into teams in NSW and Queensland at direct cost to the traditional legacy clubs in Melbourne, Australian football will never be the pre-eminent code in those states.

But along comes Dopey Dan from Victorian Labor, with his Victorian-only public holiday for Grand Final Eve. The psychological signal this stupid idea would send would make those difficult northern markets just that bit more difficult.

If Andrews really wants another public holiday in Victoria (and assuming a Labor government would decline to reschedule Labour Day), then a more sensible thing to do would be to make the day before Melbourne Cup Day a public holiday: that Monday really is a waste of time in Melbourne each year, as half the business world shuts down and the other half shows up to twiddle its thumbs on a day that nothing gets done in Melbourne.

It would also give him a four-day long weekend to sell, and the notion of a “Spring Break” that could be used by students to freshen up for their final exams, or for families to grab a quick trip away in what is an often hectic lead-in toward Christmas.

The “One Day In September” is a day in Australian culture and folklore that rivals the Melbourne Cup in significance, or the Boxing Day Test, or even the Australian Open tennis final — not that Australians have won that, let alone dominated it, for decades now.

Dopey Dan and his public holiday for no other reason than trying to hitch the AFL logo to the ALP’s makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, and whether you follow an Australian football side or not, if you live and vote in Victoria, you should dismiss it for the joke it is.


AND ANOTHER THING: It wouldn’t be a special Grand Final column without some brief comment and a tip…

On one level I don’t really care who wins today; my beloved Carlton Football Club is not a participant, and that being the case I have no particular allegiance to either of the participating teams.

On another level, however, I have watched what coach Alastair Clarkson has done during his time at Hawthorn with great admiration, envy, and sometimes even awe; I think the Hawks are as worthy of being classified as one of the great football sides of the modern era as Geelong, Brisbane a decade ago, or the Carlton and Hawthorn sides of the 1980s and 1990s.

And despite living in Brisbane until I was 25, I’ve followed VFL/AFL football since I was a kid, and have no affection for interstate sides at all: unless they are playing against the hated Essendon Bombers, in which case I barrack for the interstate team on 100% of occasions.

The Sydney Swans boast a formidable playing list and some real superstars, like ex-Hawk Lance Franklin, but so they should when the AFL has shovelled millions of dollars into the club under the guise of one discretionary allowance or another that most other clubs — and none in Melbourne, except the nearly bankrupt — don’t get.

And whilst the Hawthorn list is ageing and perhaps on its last Premiership attempt in its current cycle, its glut of booming left-foot kickers and its own veritable superstars can more than hold their own against the team money, quite literally, has bought in the Harbour town.

Who do I hope will win? Hawthorn. It might be a traditionalist view, but I don’t like interstate sides winning AFL flags. Unless it’s against Essendon, of course, or Collingwood.

More seriously, who do I think will win? Hawthorn, by 28 points.


We’ll be back to proper politics — and our usual discussion — either later this evening or in the morning.



Endeavour Hills: Would-Be Cop Killer No “Martyr”

AN 18-YEAR-OLD terror suspect — who on Tuesday took two knives to a Melbourne Police station and hospitalised two officers with serious injuries, only to be shot dead for his trouble — is not a hero nor, as one senior Islamic State figure described him, a martyr; this was a criminal thug posing a clear danger to Police and being dealt with accordingly. Enforcement of the law transcends the wounded sensitivities of apologists for illegal acts.

A report in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph today — that Muslim terror suspect Numan Haider, who was shot and killed by Police after what can only be described as the attempted murder of two Police officers, has been hailed as the “first martyr” on Australian soil — is disturbing for many reasons, and emblematic of much that is wrong with attitudes in some quarters of Australian society to the real and growing risk brainwashed thugs pose in everyday Australian life.

It goes without saying that Haider is not “a martyr,” nor a hero of any kind; his actions were those of a criminal thug operating from a position of complete contempt for the lives of others and for Australian law, and whilst the death of any young person is a tragedy, the nature of the wounds he inflicted on the Police officers now recovering in hospital suggests the use of force against him was proportionate, reasonable, and warranted in the circumstances as they stood.

The fact that anyone — of any race or religion — would seek to uphold the death of an attempted murderer as any kind of victory or clarion call based on any set of formalised principles is indicative of the indecency and perversion of those principles; yet Abdul Salam Mahmoud has done precisely that, and it is to be hoped this dangerous “leader” of Islamic State is ignored by the impressionable and/or disaffected young Muslims his hateful creed is targeted to.

Mahmoud — who (surprise, surprise) also goes by a number of other names — claims not to belong to any militant Islamic group. Yet he has travelled to (and remains in) Syria, where he claims to be undertaking “humanitarian” work in an Islamic State-controlled city, and along with his rally call to others to emulate the deeds of Haider is believed to be working to mobilise violent reprisals in the wake of the opening US bombing sorties against Islamic State targets in the Middle East.

First things first: there are those in Australia who argue it is a violation of international law and human rights to advocate that someone like Mahmoud should be permanently denied re-entry to Australia; yet sovereign governments (including ours very recently) are within their rights to enact legislation designed to protect their people, and stripping someone like Mahmoud of his passport and/or his Australian citizenship (if he holds it) is the very least, literally, the Australian government can do.

For one thing, his utterances on the Haider matter, and on Islamic State actions more widely, show that he is more than capable of operating contrary to Australian interests, even from the confines of his Syrian bolt hole; for another, if he were to be left “stateless” as a result of rescinding the means for him to re-enter and/or subsequently remain in Australia, then it’s apparent that where he is, right now, is a destination of choice: not one of coercion.

And there are enough lawless types in Australian jails — and on Australian streets, courtesy of Courts that release dangerous offenders who should never be released — without adding to the problem by knowingly allowing those bent on destroying the Australian way of life to return here once they have left.

So let’s not entertain any delusions that the kid killed on Tuesday was “a martyr;” and let’s not allow the favoured mythology of the Left that he was “the real victim” in the piece to take root and fester.

I have been reading Piers Akerman’s piece — also in the Tele this morning — and he makes the case that Australia’s “publicly funded media” (read: the ABC and SBS) have portrayed violent Muslim bullies as victims on every occasion to date on which radicalised Muslim thugs have either engaged in violent rioting or other outrages in Australia, or whenever international terrorist atrocities linked directly to the likes of Al-Qaeda, such as the September 11 attacks and the Bali bombings, are committed.

Readers know that I ripped into the ABC over its #QandA programme this week; in that article I included a link to another from Miranda Devine, who pointed out that the entire debate on #QandA had been shanghaied and then dominated by two overbearing Muslim women, who exploited the platform gifted to them by the ABC with the unmistakable objective to either hoodwink viewers into believing that Muslims had no case to answer in relation to the escalation of domestic terrorism activity, or — if that failed — to plead victimisation and misunderstanding as absolving factors.

I don’t know how many times I can say that the proportion of the Muslim population in Australia that constitutes a problem is a small minority; it’s a case made by even those commentators in the mainstream who the Left and the apologists for this kind of outrage brand as the least tolerant people in Australia for calling a spade a spade: Piers Akerman is one of those, and — as usual — he nonetheless reiterates the same point in the article I have linked to this morning.

But minority or not, what happened in Endeavour Hills on Tuesday in the mortgage belt on Melbourne’s south-eastern outskirts cannot be considered in isolation from the points made by Piers, Miranda and so many others like them.

Piers in particular makes the point today that just as the Islamic Council of Victoria has refused to condemn Haider, political leaders have been reticent to state that Islam (or, at the minimum, elements within it) constitute a problem, and I would simply say that if the peak body of the Muslim community in this state refuses to condemn the attempted murder (or, if we’re dishing out any benefit of doubt, aggravated assault and grievous bodily harm) of two people by one of its members, then there is a very real problem here indeed.

This country is regularly (and rightly) described as a “nation of immigrants” and, to be sure, the tide of newcomers from all parts of the world continues; this is the best country in the world and it has made many, many people of different backgrounds welcome, but with the welcome mat comes obligations that simply aren’t being met by some of those who should stand to lose the most from failing to do so.

There is nothing to explain away when it comes to those who seek to thumb their nose at Australian law; there is no tolerance or sympathy due to those who would foment violence and terror in our society.

It is unfortunate that the majority of Muslims who want to do the right thing are unfairly tarnished by the deeds of those in their midst who refuse to do so, but if their communities harbour murderers and terrorists, then those unsavoury characters must be rooted out and dealt with — and without fear, favour or remorse.

Just like any other criminal miscreant, in any other branch of Australian society, would be.

Other groups who have come to this country have found little trouble in observing our laws and ways of life, and in times past those in immigrant communities who have fallen foul of the law have been punished by it: and their communities, far from seeking to excuse themselves from any connection to the wrongdoings of their members, have supported and co-operated with Australian authorities to the hilt.

If the Islamic Council of Victoria chooses not to condemn the 18-year-old Haiden, then that is its own choice.

But it cannot then subsequently complain with any credibility that its members are being targeted, and harassed, and vilified; it can’t have it both ways.  It is this very double standard that fuels resentment in the wider community, and fuels the notion that “minorities” like the Muslim community receive special and differential treatment to the majority. “Tolerance” and wilful blindness are not the same thing. The chardonnay drunks and compassion babblers of the Left are culpable in this regard.

And whilst it doesn’t make it right of course, when even the peak bodies in Australia’s Muslim communities refuse to stand in complete lockstep with Australian authorities when their members break the law, there is no moral high ground for them to occupy in the denunciation of the alleged misdeeds of others.

I’m sorry if that offends anyone but it’s that simple.

There is every indication that the rise of Islamic terrorism — which in reality is merely a pretext for vicious animals to rape and torture and kill whoever they like, using “Islam” as the pretext for doing so, and has nothing to do with the moderate Muslim community — will become a permanent and worsening feature of Western societies such as ours unless it is stamped out now, and stamped out quickly.

There is a disgusting irony in Mahmoud’s call to arms in retaliation for US bombing raids on Islamic State positions in Syria based on an exhortation about “how many more (Muslim) sisters should we wait to be abused, how many more lands do we want to see bombed, how many more children do you want to hear cry” when Islamic State, in establishing the territorial foothold it now occupies in the Middle East, raped the women and children, tortured the victims and killed anyone who stood in the way of their doing so.

It makes any pretence to legitimacy of the propaganda flowing out of insurgent Muslim mouthpieces in Syria and Iraq, and intended to fire up Islamic fervour to do the same thing in countries like Australia, ring very hollow indeed.

Was the would-be cop killer a victim? I’d argue any 18-year-old knows the difference between right and wrong. He is said to have been from a good, middle class Afghani family. None of the media coverage of the Endeavour Hills incident suggests he was otherwise mentally impaired. If he was motivated to try to kill a couple of policemen as a result of attempts to radicalise Muslim youths, I would contend he was capable of making his own choice.

The last thing this kid was is a victim.

Those who would hold him up as a martyr — or seek to emulate and expand on this “first strike” against the West in Australia — should be rounded up and either jailed or thrown out of the country; and steps taken to ensure that those cheering this enterprise on from the distant sidelines of the Middle East never set foot on Australian soil again: irrespective of whose feelings get hurt in doing so.

Faced with a heightened threat of terrorist atrocities on Australian soil, the rule of law takes precedence over the finger-shakers and outrage merchants of the Left who would leave the perpetrators well alone because “minorities” deserve “tolerance.”

And far from the denialist position of downplaying the actions of Haiden, the Islamic community taking the lead — rather than being prodded into mild and reluctant statements of reprimand of its own — would do more good than harm.


“Known Knowns”: Rudd, Gillard Renew Hostilities

THERE ARE THINGS in life that are certain: death, taxes, and internecine ALP leadership fighting; the so-called “tell all” interview might have been nothing of the sort, but Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd are finding other ways to renew their bickering and squabbling — only this time, in the harsh glare of public scrutiny. There is nothing new in any of this. But in putting their petty hatreds ahead of their party, any cost will be borne by the ALP.

After 12 long years in Opposition, Labor was desperate to win an election; yet the publicly jubilant leadership team of Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard that was victorious the night of 24 November 2007 — vanquishing the second-longest serving and arguably best Prime Minister in Australia’s history — concealed a fundamental, and ultimately fatal, flaw.

Simply stated, one couldn’t win an election without the other. And remember, Gillard technically lost in 2010.

One was a psychotic megalomaniac; the other viewed as deeply untrustworthy. One wore a carefully constructed public face that masked a fractious and volatile character deeply despised by most of his MPs; the other was seen as more substantial, but “probably” unelectable on her own as the standard-bearer of Labor’s Left. One was a chaotic imbecile who managed to win over swinging voters; the other was the smiling face of socialism unilaterally detested by most voters beyond the reaches of the ALP’s core vote.

The contrast — whilst an irresistible experiment, to Labor strategists, predicated on each cancelling out the other’s faults — was stark. A more likely end destination for this particular journey was electoral catastrophe, and one way or another it seemed inevitable that the duo would find the most destructive means possible by which to arrive at it.

UNITED THEY STOOD…Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, December 2007. (Picture: Herald Sun)

The day after the 2007 election I received a phone call from an old political crony in Brisbane; he wanted to know how long I thought it would take for the “fun and games” to start. I said I’d give it twelve months; my associate thought six more likely.

As we know, the Rudd government kept the wheels on for longer than either of us foresaw — probably with the perverse assistance of the global financial crisis — but the materialisation of a vicious and highly personal war over the ALP leadership came soon enough, and when it did, a scriptwriter could not have penned a more compelling storyline.

As we took a moment to remark upon on Tuesday — for a moment was all it deserved — the so-called “tell all” interview given by Julia Gillard to the Nine network’s Ray Martin was a nothing piece; a bit of vacuous claptrap with very little to justify what had been written all over the packet.

Her book, however — ostensibly the reason for the timing of the interview — is another matter altogether, and Gillard doesn’t hold back. I haven’t read the thing and probably won’t bother; as explosive as much of what she covers may be, there is little in it that is unknown. But as a red rag to the bullish and bellicose Rudd, it seems to have scored a direct hit.

Kevin Rudd was a deeply flawed individual because of a difficult childhood. He could never get enough “love” to replace that of his father. He was a menacing bully who was neither up to being Prime Minister, nor able to cope with the job once he had it. And of course, the accusations of treachery, duplicity and sabotage of her leadership, once she had enacted the coup against him, flow from Gillard in a torrent.

Rudd — not to be outdone by the individual who terminated his initial stint in the Prime Ministership and apparently hellbent on pursuing a grudge, despite voluminous public assurances to the contrary — has returned fire in recent days.

Julia Gillard was a plotter, a backstabber, and a treacherously Machiavellian character (or Lady Macbeth type) who presented as a coup d’etat the long-term planning, with “faceless men” including Bill Shorten, of his overthrow as Prime Minister in a move that “ripped the (Labor) Party apart.”

I could go on a bit about the specifics, who’s said what, who did what to whom, and all the tantalisingly juicy details of precisely how this crippled the ALP at the time. But there seems little point: none of what is being broadcast this week — again — is remotely surprising to anyone who turned on a TV set or read a newspaper during Labor’s ill-fated and incompetent stint in government.

None of this is new. All of the so-called revelations are “known knowns:” and as satisfying as it is on one level to see Labor’s only federal success story in 20 years tearing at its own throat with renewed fervour, the accusations and counter-accusations have ceased to even matter, let alone achieve anything.

Rudd was right: the leadership change ripped the party apart. But what he fails to mention is that his own leadership of the party commenced that process, as the irreconcilable and incompatible pairing of himself with Gillard as a “team” inevitably developed structural fatigue, then stress cracking, before finally being rent asunder by the consequences of his own shortcomings as Prime Minister and Labor leader.

That’s not to say Gillard is blameless — far from it; after all, it takes two to tango. But what happened — to each of them as Prime Minister, and to the ALP under their stewardship — was inevitable to all but the most pliant Labor supporters from the moment they were elevated to the fore.

The great risk in all of this renewed skirmishing lies in the unwanted distraction it lobs into the lap of present Labor “leader” Bill Shorten, and the attendant prospect for renewed hostilities on a wider basis that distract Labor from the job at hand and plunge it into a fresh round of internal recriminations.

It’s not as if Shorten hasn’t got enough to contend with as it is, notwithstanding the fact he’s probably the ALP’s single greatest electoral impediment.

But one of these former Prime Ministers is 57 years old; the other is 52. It is time for them to start to behave like it, and to leave the train wreck that was the government they shared — in unity and in the bitterest of division — smouldering in whatever field it landed when it jumped the tracks and destroyed the political careers of both of them.


Their ABC: Shameful #QandA Farce Deserves To Be Axed

IT MAY BE INDELICATE to be so blunt, given that I am — once again — ripping into a sinecure of the Left that the Left itself tries to protect by painting the ABC as a favourite whipping post for conservatives across the country; but the nihilistic farce of “Adventures in Democracy” that is the #QandA programme is a national disgrace. The public broadcaster has no moral or intellectual right to propagate its insidious agenda. #QandA should be axed.

At first, it’s amusing, because no rational person can believe other rational people could possibly spout such drivel.

But if you watch the ABC’s #QandA programme often enough, and for long enough, it becomes all too clear that the villains in this particular drama are in deadly earnest: their pronouncements, forged on the lunatic Left and utterly divorced from any meaningful basis in reality, are enacted in a heavily biased forum and served up by the taxpayer-funded broadcaster as factual content.

(And if you don’t believe the ABC categorises #QandA as “factual” rather than “entertainment,” click here).

Readers know that I watch #QandA religiously every week; not because I agree with it, but because it’s a useful window on the matters presently occupying the thought leaders of the Left, although the longer you watch it the angrier it should make you — unless, of course, you’re one of the slavering left-wing sycophants who finds common ground with a stacked panel of imbeciles, most of whom have their heads wedged so far up their own backsides that they mistake the reverse view of their tonsils for reality.

Since the presentation of yet more mindless twaddle on Monday night — in essence, one hour of attempts to rationalise away the unbridled outrages of Islamic State, the very real and heightened threat of terrorist attacks in Australia, and a stultifying attempt to assert the case that Muslims have absolutely nothing to do with either — I have been stewing, I will confess, and getting very angry that yet more of this bullshit is being funded and disseminated from the taxes paid by ordinary and hard-working Australians.

For those who missed the latest episode of #QandA, knock yourselves out: you can view it here.

This is now the fourth time I have been moved to tear into #QandA in this column in as many weeks, and it’s something I am acutely conscious of; the purpose of The Red And The Blue is not to simply belt the can over a narrow set of issues at every opportunity, but to comment on as broad a selection of political matters as possible, and in a way that enables those who don’t share the highly detailed and intricate love of politics that I do to participate in discussion on rather less complicated ground.

Four articles on one TV show in four weeks tells me there’s a problem.

And so I want to share an article appearing in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph today; it’s by one of my favourite conservative commentators, Miranda Devine, and I think Miranda’s perspective — approached from a different angle to the way I handle these things, but essentially arriving at the same conclusions — says most of what I would say about Monday’s episode myself, and I strongly urge readers to check it out.

(Anyone who wants to review the material I have previously written about #QandA can do so by clicking the #QandA tag in the list to the right of their screen, and a vignette of the articles will open — including this on another unmitigated outrage the ABC permitted #QandA to commit on the taxpayer dollar).

With Miranda dissecting Monday’s show (and an article from The Australian has also appeared online, literally as I’m checking this in readiness to hit “publish”), I want to talk about #QandA in more general terms.

I think the time has come for this indecent piece of idiocy to be axed.

There are those who will defend #QandA on the basis that free speech should be heard, and that the ABC — as a “national” broadcaster — is the ideal place for non-mainstream views to be given the airtime that would otherwise be unforthcoming in more commercially based media (which really means, with this defence usually coming from the Left, that the Murdoch press would not publish them).

It’s the kind of attempted wedge designed to back people like me, and Miranda, and every other conservative, liberal and/or libertarian voice in the country into a corner: we cherish free speech! How can we possibly champion the silencing of different views? Didn’t we advocate the abolition of section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act to allow the airing of views we now seek to silence?

This type of approach — contemptible as it is — is emblematic of the hypocrisy of the Left, which itself made so much noise in friendly media (including the ABC) that it was virtually impossible to proceed with the repeal of S18c. But at the same time it is working to stifle the views of anyone or anything it disagrees with, it demands airtime and exposure as a right from the ABC that it simply refuses should be granted to those with a different outlook.

And in any case, my view of “their ABC” where free speech is concerned is very simple: either everyone’s opinions and beliefs are given airtime in equal measure, or nobody’s are; I acknowledge that in a democratic country a state-run broadcaster has a role to play in facilitating quality discussion and debate, but it is this critical point on which the entire thing falls down.

#QandA makes the most tokenistic attempt imaginable at giving some semblance of impartiality; every week — at the commencement of each episode — it flashes a statement to screen asserting that the composition of the audience correlates with the present standing of the major political parties in current opinion polling. Nobody has any way of verifying this claim. But even if the methodology is followed, what is served up during the programme illustrates just how pointless the exercise is.

The #QandA panels — invariably skewed at least 4-2 in favour of the Left, and usually by a margin of 5-1 — spend an hour each week examining topics that never have anything to do with a conservative agenda, or any other agenda aside from that of the Left.

Its panellists (and host Tony Jones is no “impartial” moderator) routinely slap down, bully, drown out or otherwise obscure anything the token presence from the Right might have to say; this week it was Justice minister Michael Keenan. Famously, it was once former Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella as regularly as the ABC could get her on before she lost her seat in Parliament, and the Twitter gnomes of the Left would revel in the siege she would invariably face. But whoever attends from the Right — with the exception of Malcolm Turnbull, if he counts as being from “the Right” — the treatment is always the same.

Nothing — aside from the sanctimonious edicts of the Left — is allowed to stand unchallenged.

And even the questions featured are tainted, with an ABC producer vetting public submissions of these to ensure “a fit” with the planned theme for each episode. Unsurprisingly, virtually every question is framed either from a position sympathetic to the Left or with a get-the-Right slant attached to it.

The simple fact is that #QandA is nothing more than a free, 60 minute open platform provided every week by the ABC to the hard Left of Australian politics.

I don’t have a problem with the Left having its own 60 minute broadcasts, mind you. But to have them, the Left should pay for them; or at the very least, in #QandA‘s case, they should be moved onto SBS where they can be made conditional on the selling of advertising revenue and commercial sponsorships to fully cover the costs involved: no money, no soapbox from which to spruik their odious propaganda.

It’s true that #QandA has broadcast some episodes worthy of merit; its deployment of a studio filled with school students to hold Kevin Rudd to account in early 2010 over his government’s perceived betrayal of the youngest voters who bought into the mania of his “Kevin ’07” campaign was one, although a cynic might have subsequently believed it part of a careful strategy to orchestrate Rudd’s overthrow in favour of Julia Gillard, the Labor MP held to be the spiritual leader of the “true” Left at that time.

Throwing Treasurer Joe Hockey to the #QandA wolves over his federal budget, ironically, was another, as Hockey turned in his best (and to date only) effective performance selling the measures in the budget, the rationale for their inclusion, and debunking some of the myths spread and allowed to take root by irresponsible Labor and Greens MPs who ought to have known better.

And some of its pre-election programmes, one-on-one with individual senior MPs on both sides, have been worthwhile.

But these — to use the Ford Fairlane analogy — are mere islands of reality in an ocean of diarrhoea whose waves and undercurrents are almost invariably fouled by the rank partisanship, hatred of conservatism, and — dare I say it — the sheer anti-Australianism of the hard Left.

If a #QandA programme was convened featuring Andrew Bolt as a moderator, Miranda Devine and Piers Akerman as press panellists, with (say) Kevin Andrews and Eric Abetz facing down Christine Milne in a “themed” discussion around the importance of traditional social values, competent governance and the benefits of international trade, does anyone seriously think that the resulting brutalisation of the views offered up by the token panellist from the Left would spark anything other than a national political outrage?

Of course it would, and so it should when it comes to #QandA.

This reprehensible programme is not an “Adventure in Democracy,” as it bills itself: it has nothing to do with democracy at all.

And it’s paid for by ordinary Australians who expect decency and balance from a broadcaster they rightfully expect to be able to trust.

In this sense, #QandA represents a dereliction on the ABC’s part of its responsibility to its shareholders: the Australian public.

The problem is getting worse, and whilst it’s amusing to get on Twitter under the auspices of “Leftie baiting” and spend an hour each week poking the trolls of the Left in the eye over the ridiculous and patently unrealistic nonsense it represents, #QandA does not merit its place on the national broadcaster’s slate of content.

It is a shameful and despicable misappropriation of public money for the blatant advantage of the Left in both its political and social formulations, and it has gone on for long enough.

The time has come for #QandA to be axed. Australian democracy will be none the worse for its absence.

As Kerry Packer once famously said — of a dubious programme on his own network that, on balance, was intellectually superior to #QandA — it is time to get that shit off the air.


Vacuous Drivel: No Reason To Watch “The Gillard Interview”

THE ONLY REASON for passing any comment on “The Julia Gillard Interview” — conducted by Ray Martin and aired by Channel 9 earlier this evening — is because if I didn’t, someone would have a gripe about the fact I’d overlooked it. Julia Gillard was a terrible Prime Minister and her government will never be missed, but as a deep political expose this was a good excuse for “a chat” with the former PM. If, that is, you could be bothered.

No doubt some will disagree with me — and perhaps I keep too close a finger on the political pulse to have seen anything remarkable about it — but the much-hyped, much vaunted, you-beaut “exclusive tell all interview” with former Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Channel 9 tonight was, not to put too fine a point on it, nothing more than vacuous drivel.

For those who haven’t already seen it, you can do so here, but be warned: it’s 40 minutes of your life you’ll never get back.

Readers know I thought Gillard was a dreadful Prime Minister; wooden and robotic, hers was an impersonal execution of an agenda with little popular support and often, no mandate; hypocritical, dishonest and bathed in sanctimony, her scandal-ridden administration — beholden to the Communist Party Greens and two turncoat conservative Independents like a puppet on a string — lurched from crisis to crisis and was seemingly destined to stagger into electoral oblivion at the hands of voters. Instead, it staggered into the extinction of a successful leadership coup by the man she deposed in the first place, Kevin Rudd.

Be all that as it may, Gillard at a personal level is well-known by repute to be a warm, funny and engaging individual; this is what was on display in the Martin interview.

And very little else.

Contrary to its billing as a “tell all,” there were no bombshells in this piece; and to the extent Gillard had anything to say at all about some of the more contentious aspects of her time in office — the misogyny uproar, the Craig Thomson scandal, her successful coup against Kevin Rudd, the 2010 election, her bitter feud with Alan Jones, to name a few — nothing was included in this interview that hasn’t already been in the public domain for a very long time.

Indeed, the interview was remarkable only for what it failed to touch upon: the Peter Slipper fiasco, the allegations surrounding the AWU scandal in any meaningful sense, the broken promise on a carbon tax that terminated the public legitimacy of Labor in office, the feuds with key cabinet colleagues such as Bob Carr, or the destruction of the allegiances of decades, as was the case with Simon Crean.

If viewers were looking to get in “a chat” with Julia Gillard — “the woman after politics,” in effect — they might have found something interesting in this piece, which would have sat well as a multimedia companion piece to an article in Woman’s Day, or New Idea, or any of the other ghastly trash rags in the genre aimed at feeding mindless titillating vomitus to a readership bereft of any real depth in their lives.

For once, Gillard cannot be criticised: this was a Nine Network presentation by a friendly journalist in Ray Martin, and as a sympathy piece, it showed.

In truth, this whole thing was nothing more than vacuous drivel: inoffensive and saccharine, certainly, but containing virtually nothing of substance whatsoever, and nothing that could live up to the billing of a “tell all” of any importance.

There will be other, more consequential matters, for us to resume our discussion around in the morning.

Oh, and if you haven’t clicked on the link to the interview yet, it’s probably best that you don’t bother…

Newspoll: Big Coalition Gains, But Labor Leads 51-49

WITH NATIONAL SECURITY again central to the national political discussion, courtesy of ISIS and the heightened threat of terrorist attacks on Australian soil — and in the ongoing aftermath of the MH17 disaster in July — the Prime Minister and the Coalition have recorded significant improvements in their position in today’s Newspoll; despite narrowly trailing the ALP, the question is whether the gains are illusory, or can be held and built upon.

It’s been some little time since we’ve picked apart an opinion poll in this column; not because I don’t like the messages emanating from them — federal polls we’ve missed have moved for as well as against the Coalition, and the last polling-based article I published a month ago was an omnibus piece that reflected poorly on all parties — but because there has been a fair bit going on. Even now, there were several other issues I’ve spent an hour deciding which to focus on this morning (and at least one of these might surface in an additional piece later in the day).

But for all that, the 51-49 lead Newspoll — appearing in The Australian today — records simply takes us back to the exact margin it found that last time I wrote about polling, and whilst I’m going to refer to movements from the survey I missed a fortnight ago, at least today there’s something significant enough to warrant talking about it (ahead of more from Scotland, or the fallout from last week’s referendum in Westminster, or more on Islamic State, or Peter Slipper and the penultimate act in the drama of his legal woes).

It is conventional wisdom, in Australia, that national security issues are — alongside strong and competent economic management — the political trump suit of the Liberal Party; with these things very much occupying a central focus in national (and international) affairs in recent times, it comes as little surprise that today’s Newspoll finds a significant movement toward the Coalition in the sentiments of its respondents.

Still trailing Labor after preferences, it is clear the Coalition still has some work to do in retrieving the winning position arguably squandered by its handling of the federal budget. Yet should the focus on security, terrorism and associated issues persist, the surprise would take form if later Newspolls failed to find the Coalition back in front.

Today, Newspoll finds primary vote support for the Coalition rising two points in a fortnight to 41%; it sees the ALP drop a point to 34%, with the Communist Party Greens at 11% (-3%) and “Others” (including the Palmer United Party) rising two points, to 14%.

After preferences, this produces the headline 51-49 Labor lead — a movement of one point to the Coalition — on the two-party measure. This in itself raises the question of whether the methodology is a little out, or whether Palmer-inclined respondents are nominating preferences favouring Labor (which most commentators, in me, believe is the case).

The old stock-standard 75-25 allocation of Greens support to the ALP and a 50-50 split of “Others” would actually see the Coalition at 50.5% on these numbers, and this gives further weight to the view that Clive Palmer’s rhetoric about the Abbott government owing its position on the Treasury benches to his party’s preferences is rubbish.

(Palmer is an instrument of the ALP in virtually every sense bar his explicitly stated intentions, whether he likes it or not).

Even so, Labor’s primary vote support is now less than a percentage point higher than it was at the landslide defeat it suffered last year, and whilst 51% of the vote might win an election depending on where the votes actually fell, it would be foolhardy for the ALP to bank on it.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott sees his own standing improve significantly in this survey, and this reinforces the Coalition’s ownership of national security given the excellent leadership he has shown — a point acknowledged (if grudgingly in some quarters) across most of the commentariat.

Abbott’s approval rating among Newspoll respondents rises by six points in this survey to 41%, with disapproval falling two points to 52%; it may or may not be significant that the PM’s support has risen mostly from undecided respondents forming a view, but either way, it sees Abbott at his best personal standing this year.

Opposition “leader” Bill Shorten benefits too, but only a little; his approval number rises two points to 38%, with disapproval remaining stagnant at 43%. I have said previously that Shorten’s standing is really no better than Abbott’s despite his lofty estimation of himself, and this proves it; it would be unkind to say that the lift in his numbers here is merely attributable to his explicit backing of Abbott’s position on Islamic State and the Ukraine/Russia/MH17 fiasco.

And on the “preferred Prime Minister” measure, Abbott (41%, +4%) now leads Shorten (37%, unch).

Readers can access the Newspoll tables here.

If we accept the Newspoll picture is an accurate reflection of the national mood — and we will find out soon enough, as the other polls publish findings that either corroborate or dispute it — then for once, it is an evolving product of constantly changing issues whose nett effect remains unclear.

Over the past month, national security has undoubtedly resumed its place at the core of political debate, with the atrocities in the Middle East supplemented with a real and emerging threat of terrorist attacks in Australia: the dramatic arrests last week, and the highly explicit nature of the plots they foiled, underline this.

And the issue of Russia and Ukraine, whilst not as prominent as it was a month ago, nonetheless percolates away in the background; it needs to be remembered that Russian President Vladimir Putin not so long ago made a barely veiled threat to respond to any use of force by “outsiders” with nuclear arms, and whilst nobody really takes such a threat seriously (at least not for now), the extent to which it might be a slow burn factor in the government’s favour is unknown.

We have seen the Palmer United Party give its best impersonation of an anarchist movement, with its leader ripping into the Chinese government, and his halfwit deputy advocating a nuclear strike against it (among other own goals from the foot of Jacqui Lambie, which remains otherwise permanently parked in her mouth). There is no way of knowing whether, and how greatly, these incidents have affected Newspoll’s overall findings.

A similarly unquantifiable factor at odds with Labor’s prospects comes in the form of the Heydon commission into the trade union movement; as we discussed last week, Labor “leader” Bill Shorten is now finding himself adversely named in evidence given at the commission’s sessions, and what impact — if any — this is beginning to exert on Labor’s poll standing cannot be ascertained at this point with any confidence.

I actually find it surprising (like I did a month ago, when Abbott’s handling of the MH17 atrocity won international plaudits for his leadership) that the Coalition isn’t ahead of Labor yet: not in Newspoll, or in any of the reputable surveys carried out by other polling companies.

But there are two intangibles of diametrically opposed factors that will be the most interesting to watch.

The first, of course, is whether the Coalition retains the momentum this poll records, and whether it translates into further gains and/or spills over into the other polls; the Howard government effectively doubled its electoral lifespan by way of a snap shift in voter sentiment in its favour in August and September 2001, as the MV Tampa brought border security to the fore as an election issue, and as terrorists wreaked so much carnage in the USA on 11 September of that year.

Movement to the Coalition now, properly managed and harnessed, could at the very least seal the next election for Abbott, even if it remains two years away; and the prospect of building sustained political and electoral success on the back of national security credentials in the way Howard did will be exercising the minds of government strategists.

The other intangible is the obvious one: Joe Hockey’s abominably conceived budget, which is safe to say simply wasn’t sold to the public: this has been pushed into the background by the flow of events in recent weeks.

Yet if any single factor is capable of derailing the Abbott government’s political recovery, that budget is the one; and were it to do so a second time this year, the arguments for abandoning it in favour of a fresh attempt next year — and for moving Hockey out of the Treasury portfolio at the same time — would become almost irresistible.

Irresistible, that is, if government strategists recognise the problem which — based on the government’s overall efforts with its budget that continue even now — it seems highly unlikely that they do.