Keystone Copout: Labor Abuses High Court To Evade Rorts Probe

VICTORIAN LABOR’S ethically bankrupt 2014 campaign will drag on into yet another year, with the Andrews government to seek a High Court injunction to kibosh an Ombudsman’s inquiry into whether Labor rorted public resources by sending electorate staff to marginal seats to campaign for ALP candidates. The move is an abuse of process, further underlining the hypocrisy of a rotten regime elected on a premise that is tantamount to fraud.

There are those readers who object to my characterisation of the ALP — and the union thugs and henchmen who bankroll it — as “filth,” but when it comes to Labor’s Victorian division and the government it formed after the 2014 state election on a platform that has proven tantamount to a fraud, that loathsome party’s depravity appears to know few boundaries these days.

I am talking — this time — about the risible scheme cooked up and carried out by Labor from opposition, at the 2014 state election, to redeploy electorate staff in safely Labor-held seats to campaign for ALP candidates in marginal Coalition electorates, which on any reasonable interpretation cannot be said to pass the so-called “pub test” even if (as idiot savant and Premier Daniel Andrews claims) the grimy plot complied with Parliamentary guidelines.

First things first: for those unfamiliar with the background to this issue or with this latest development yesterday, some background reading may be accessed here and here; the obvious observation to make is that having been referred to the Ombudsman by Victoria’s Upper House for an investigation of the scheme to take place — an action upheld in the Supreme Court last year, and subsequently by Victoria’s Court of Appeal — the Andrews government’s mooted application to the High Court for an injunction has the distinct reek of corruption emanating from it.

(Having grown up in Queensland and watched the excesses of the Bjelke-Petersen regime play out in real time, it’s not an overreach to say so).

But the news that Victorian Labor is desperate to evade scrutiny over what any fair-minded individual could only describe as a rort ought to surprise nobody; after all, the present state government won power after waging one of the dirtiest and most ethically bankrupt campaigns in Australian political history, and having made it nearly two-thirds the way through a four-year term by governing with a similarly brazen outlook, any expectation it might conduct itself with a bit of decency now would be a forlorn hope indeed.

After all, this is a party that co-opted CFMEU brutes to masquerade as emergency services workers to harass and bully people into voting for it; had “nurses” telemarket the old, the frail and the sick to scare them shitless with jumped-up lies about the Liberal Party’s record and plans in the Health portfolio; and has to date saddled Victorian taxpayers with a compensation bill of more than a billion dollars for cancelling the contract to build Melbourne’s much-needed East-West Link, despite solemn promises the contract “wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on” and that “not one cent” of compensation would be payable for abandoning the road project.

And that’s just for starters.

But the running saga of another of the Victorian ALP’s power-crazed stunts — sending taxpayer-funded staff into marginal Coalition electorates as campaign workers — can only be viewed through the prism of the rest of its sordid, dishonest election campaign; Andrews has never explained how this was compliant with parliamentary guidelines despite his claims to that effect, and neither has a single member of his government.

Not even under parliamentary privilege, where they can evade prosecution for lying about it: the inescapable conclusion is therefore that no such compliance exists, and Andrews and his goons know it.

I’m not partisan enough or naive enough to insult readers’ intelligence by suggesting the Upper House’s decision to refer the government to the Ombudsman isn’t, viewed one way, a stunt of its own; after all, this is how opposition politicians play, and both the Coalition and the Communist Party Greens who between them control the Legislative Council stand to gain from any opprobrium that can be attached to Labor over this issue.

And it goes without saying that this entire episode — irrespective of who committed the offence, or who it is baying for blood over it — is merely the latest tawdry example in a seemingly endless recent sequence as to why politics, and politicians, are held in such contempt by the voting public.

But in a breathtaking hypocrisy, it was Labor — then in opposition under first the hapless John Brumby, and later the amiable boofhead Steve Bracks — which, in 1999, made the Kennett government’s emasculation of the Ombudsman an issue that rightly generated community outrage; yet today, Labor’s Attorney-General, Martin Pakula, is quoted in the Herald Sun article I’ve linked as saying that the Court of Appeal’s decision to allow the Ombudsman’s inquiry into allegations against the ALP to stand accords Parliament “too much power to require the Ombudsman to probe any matter.”

So let’s dispense with the mock outrage, and nudge the discussion back into the real world.

The simple truth seems to be that Victorian Labor — in its mad lust for power at any price imaginable, backed by the utter thuggery and bastardry of its Trades Hall chums — appears to have taken it upon itself to fortify its filthy campaign of lies and deceit by misusing the resources allocated to it for electorate purposes to provide an additional bulwark against Denis Napthine’s government in the seats it needed to win to secure office.

That’s the charge: and given Andrews and his mates have not only admitted the practice occurred, but insisted (without substantiation) that the practice was legal, those allegations must be tested.

To this end, Labor’s intended recourse to the High Court, in a desperate last stand to try to shut the Ombudsman’s investigation down, not only smacks of panic but can only be characterised as an abuse of process.

Like everything about the Andrews government, this episode serves to highlight the decaying and rotten foundations upon which it is built: and Victorians, and Australians in other states watching the goings-on in Spring Street, are justified in feeling disgusted by yet another elected government caught out playing fast and loose with resources paid for by an over-taxed public that has yet again been taken for granted.

As for the opposition Liberal Party, two points must be made.

One, if — as the Andrews government defence seems to imply — “they’re all at it too,” then miscreant Liberal MPs must also be subjected to rigorous scrutiny; if Labor has evidence of similar practices being employed by the Liberals or the Greens, as it claims, it must produce it. The fact it has failed to do so, however, is strongly indicative that “they’re all at it too” is just an attempt to deflect blame by smearing others, and Andrews has exhibited a contemptible lack of leadership by permitting such baseless accusations to be made.

But two, if — after everything Andrews Labor has gifted them to work with, the staff rorts probe we’re talking about today notwithstanding — they remain unable to puncture the ALP’s election-winning lead in reputable opinion polling, then the Liberals have a problem.

This column enthusiastically endorsed Matthew Guy as leader in the aftermath of the 2014 election, and we remain hopeful he can turn the Coalition’s fortunes. But if it continues to trail badly in another 12 months’ time, some hard decisions will need to be made.

After all, an honest assessment of the Andrews government already shows it unfit to hold office. To allow its re-election late next year through poor leadership and a misfiring political apparatus would be nothing short of unforgivable.

Labor has already reaped the fruits of the intellectual fraud it foisted on Victoria in 2014. It is the Liberals’ responsibility to ensure it doesn’t happen a second time.

 

Gay Marriage: High Court Decision Should Surprise Nobody

THE HIGH COURT has struck out the ACT’s same sex marriage laws less than a week after they came into effect; the Commonwealth’s challenge to these laws was extraordinary in that virtually everyone knew what the outcome would be before the competing arguments were even presented. No grievous wrong has been committed here. Rather, the Court has upheld the laws of the land.

Remembering there is more going on in Australia at present than the departure of Holden I wanted to comment on the ruling that the ACT’s same sex laws are unconstitutional, although I intend to keep my remarks to the point: there are other issues to canvass, and I will return to some of these later today and over the weekend.

It should be observed — in the interests of clarity, and in spite of what some of the more contemptible gay marriage advocates proclaim — yesterdays’s decision in the High Court to strike these laws out has nothing to do with homophobia, or intolerance, or prejudice, or bigotry.

The ALP-Greens administration in the ACT introduced and passed laws to enable gay marriage to take place in full knowledge of the fact such a move would almost certainly be invalidated on constitutional grounds: only the Commonwealth has powers to make laws in regard to marriage in Australia.

That judgement, unsurprisingly, was unanimous.

Irrespective of one’s position on this issue, or whether one has any personal stake in its outcome (and I don’t), I have opined previously that this is a campaign that has been shanghaied away from the gay lobby per se and prosecuted instead largely (but not exclusively) by the activists of the hard Left.

Prosecuted with silly, meaningless marketing slogans such as “equal love” and “marriage equality” that aside from anything of substance completely miss the point.

Anyone opposing the legalisation of gay marriage is increasingly decried as a bigot, or a troglodyte, or a weirdo eccentric: usually with complete dismissal of the reasoning behind such opposition, and more often than not by people who are not gay and who therefore have no direct stake (spare me the “friends and siblings” justification) in the outcome of the debate.

These points are about to become more pertinent as the pressure now bears down on the federal government to allow its MPs a conscience vote on the issue, and I raise them because the wild agitators of the Left are doing the cause of their gay friends irreparable damage by virtue of their conduct.

The definition of marriage in Australia — as defined by the Commonwealth Marriage Act, and restated in their Honours’ judgement — provides that  “a marriage can be solemnised in Australia only between a man and a woman, and that a union solemnised in a foreign country between a same-sex couple must not be recognised as a marriage in Australia.”

This is the law of the land. It is this definition proponents of gay marriage seek to overturn. It is not the place of the High Court to make laws or to engage in so-called judicial activism. Their Honours have made the only decision the law makes available to them.

In the event MPs are given a conscience vote on the matter, it will be difficult to sway rusted-on social conservatives (or even waverers) by way of a horde of hooligans harassing “recalcitrant” MPs with empty slogans and accusing them of all manner of evils unless they toe the line of the marauding pack.

Readers will have heard me say that the conservative in me opposes gay marriage, but that the liberal in me says gay people should nonetheless be free to do among themselves as they choose; my view is that marriage is a biblical institution based on unions between a man and a woman that is given legal sanction in that form by the state in modern societies.

Some gay people don’t want marriage at all, regarding it as an “outdated” heterosexual institution that is irrelevant to them, and with which they have no truck.

There are 23 million other Australians whose view on the matter may reflect my own wholly, partially, or in no way whatsoever.

The point is that I believe it inevitable that the question will again surface in Parliament, and I actually do support Liberal Party MPs being given a conscience vote. I am certain the measure will still fail, just as I am certain the question will continue to be posed by advocates of “marriage reform” — an oxymoron if ever there was one in my view.

Ultimately, the issue will die off or be resolved at a referendum, and in the case of the latter, it will be killed once and for all: the pack on the Left may make a lot of noise, and be adept at insulting those who disagree with it, but it does not represent a majority of voters in my view — or anything remotely approaching it.

Whether it does or not, the stunt that was the same-sex marriage law in the ACT has been terminated: time, money (and dare I say, emotional capital in some quarters) has been needlessly wasted on an ill-advised quest that was doomed to fail from the outset.

ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell’s statement that the territory “had sent a clear message that Canberra would not tolerate inequality and discrimination” is fatuous, and cannot justify the means employed.

And for those who seek to purport to be outraged or victimised by the High Court decision to annul the ACT law, I have just two words: grow up.

This exercise was a question of law, not social reform, and anything other than a half-baked approach to it would have recognised the ACT was not the vehicle with which to pursue the matter. Smarter heads would have chosen a different course to do so.

 

Plain Packaging: Where There’s Smoke, There’s Furphies

OK, the disclaimer first: I’m a smoker; I’ve averaged a packet of cigarettes per day since I was 18. I don’t deny the health risks and implications, and I fervently hope my children never smoke. But as an anti-smoking initiative, plain packaging is a measure doomed to fail.

The cheers have gone up across the country this week, among health campaigners and anti-smokers alike, in the wake of the High Court finding against the tobacco companies’ claim that legislation to force cigarettes to be sold in plain wrappings — as opposed to branded packets — stripped them of their intellectual property without monetary compensation.

And I use the term “anti-smokers,” rather than “non-smokers,” because there’s a big, big difference: a non-smoker is a fairly self-explanatory creature, but an anti-smoker is often someone who takes all leave of their senses whenever the subject of tobacco crosses their line of sight, their auditory range, or their thought processes.

A prime example of just this phenomenon became evident this morning — in newspaper articles and talkback radio segments across Australia — as anti-smoker after anti-smoker sought to follow up “victory” in the High Court with ambit demands that the “logical next step” be taken — and for smoking to be banned in Australia altogether.

And those demands neatly highlight just how far, in the wrong direction, the whole public discussion — including the health debate — has travelled.

I think it’s reasonable to say that a large number — nay, a solid majority — of smokers genuinely regret ever having taken up the habit. I certainly do, and those who know me will have heard me say many times that the stupidest thing I ever did, aged 18 in 1990 — supposedly having cleared the great peer-pressured risk period of my secondary schooling years — was to buy a packet of cigarettes.

Yet by the same token, the adage “once a smoker, always a smoker” is very true: nicotine is the most addictive substance known to man, and it doesn’t take very many years for anyone who is or has been a regular smoker to embark on the first of what is often dozens of attempts to quit — only to relapse, for one reason or the other, after varying periods of time.

And most smokers enjoy smoking — if not all of the time, at least some of the time, even if such admissions appear to sit in awkward juxtaposition against any desire to quit or regret at ever having started — and again, I fit this category too.

So early in this piece — even if I write from the unsexy side of the argument as a smoker — I would like to think there is still a reasonable degree of balance on display here.

But on the headline question, it is precisely my views as a smoker that are most relevant: would cigarettes sold in a drab olive-green packet, plastered with pictures of diseased organs and health warnings, with a brand printed in the same small font as all other cigarette brands, motivate me to stop smoking?

No. Not at all. Not for a moment. And I will tell you why this over-hyped measure is likely to be utterly useless in reducing overall smoking rates in Australia as well.

The simplistic answer is that there is nothing at all new in the changes to cigarette packaging being forced on the tobacco industry; for starters, there have been Government Health Warnings on cigarette packets for decades. We grow immune to seeing them, and don’t bother reading them. Not all of us are stupid — we know the potential dangers and we continue to smoke. After a while, there’s no further impetus to continue to read all about it.

It’s the same with the pictures of diseased organs; they, too, have graced the packets cigarettes are sold in for many years. It is true that when these were initially introduced, an instant –albeit small — reduction in the overall smoking rate occurred. But any shock value such images carried very quickly wore off, and most smokers have become just as desensitised to them as they have to the printed warnings that accompany them.

And as for reducing all portions of a cigarette packet not devoted to health warnings and/or interesting pictures to a plain green colour, I can’t think of a more ridiculous or less propitious measure being introduced that would cause anyone to stop smoking.

The vast, overwhelming majority of smokers are brand loyal to a degree most marketers can only dream of; even after 20 years of the near-universal absence of any form of tobacco advertising in Australia, cigarette brands routinely fill six or seven of the 10 top-selling brands of product sold at retail level in Australia.

Those brands will still be identifiable to smokers and thus remain available for ease of purchase, courtesy of a template provision in the plain packaging legislation for the brand and variety of cigarettes to continue to be displayed on the packet itself.

Objectively, and in light of the points I have made so far, what is the counter-argument? There isn’t one. The whole exercise, to my mind, is mostly about the anti-smoking lobby being seen to be doing something as opposed to actually doing something that might achieve its aims.

And before anyone asks why, if plain packaging is so ineffective as a measure to cut smoking rates that the tobacco conglomerates went to the High Court to stop its introduction, I would make the simple observation that the case at law won by the federal government in the High Court this week was based on an argument over intellectual property, not on the merits or evils of smoking.

And anyone who thinks curious/rebellious teenagers won’t buy cigarettes just because they come in a green packet after 1 December is an imbecile. Pure and simple.

Part of the problem — and an element in the sheer farce of this latest do-gooder, nanny-state initiative — is that cigarettes and tobacco products generally remain legal in Australia, and consequently may be sold, purchased and used in this country on a lawful basis.

Already, as mentioned earlier, the anti-smoker lobby is already yelling for these products to be outlawed in the wake of a constitutional challenge to the validity of plain packaging laws being dismissed. But prohibition — as the US found so painfully, where alcohol was involved — simply creates underground black markets, and causes far more trouble in terms of law enforcement, public corruption and the restriction of supply than the original intention of the measure warrants.

Readers will note that I make no denial of the health risks associated with smoking; to do so is unnecessary.

But smokers have not been completely unforthcoming, either; and in doing so, often the concession of the smoker is rewarded simply with deception.

For example, in the early to mid 1990s — when so-called “sin taxes” were being applied to cigarettes — such taxes were “sold” to smokers as being the advance payment on the healthcare they may require later in life as a result of their addiction to cigarettes.

In the time I have been a smoker, I have seen the price of a packet of cigarettes rise from $2.20 to $17; most of this increase — even accounting for inflation — consists of the rising tax take on the basis the sin taxes were introduced.

Now, public health officials warn that smokers may be refused treatment in public facilities altogether, despite the tax dollars they have forked out on the basis they were paying for precisely that.

And that doesn’t take into account the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars many smokers pay in Medicare levies in a lifetime, either.

Could it be that smokers are simply a convenient source of consolidated revenue?

Smokers have been prepared — mostly with good humour — to leave their habit outside when it comes to offices, shopping centres, sporting venues, airports and aeroplanes, restaurants and (with some gripes) pubs and clubs. To name a few.

Now, they get chastised for smoking in the open air adjacent to such places.

And in a particularly odious trend I have noticed emerging of recent times, people who pass in the street — often in situations where prevailing conditions mean smoke has dissipated before it can even reach them — pretend to cough and retch and carry on at the mere sight of a cigarette. It is far more a reflection upon the noxious individuals who engage in this type of insidious and offensive behaviour than it will ever be upon someone smoking a cigarette.

The point is that a lot of what the anti-smoking lobby does now has reached the point at which it is actually counter-productive in cutting the rate of smoking in Australia.

And the easiest way to get a smoker to dig in and actively commit to continue smoking is to sermonise, assert that you know better, and to present as some morally superior being simply because you don’t smoke.

For all of these reasons — and there are others — selling plainly packaged tobacco products won’t make a jot of difference to the number of smokers in this country.

But I’d like to ask some really unfashionable questions as well:

Why is the FAT PERSON — often at far greater risk of health problems than a smoker, and potentially a greater burden on the health budget and for many years more — untaxed, unvilified, and unencumbered with the sort of shock-and-shame campaigns smokers are routinely hit with?

Why is the ALCOHOLIC — arguably an exponentially greater health risk than the smoker, as well as a source of domestic violence, shattered families, death to others on the roads and so forth — generally offered support and rehabilitation and endless medical treatment without the odium accorded the smoker, when the alcoholic is arguably the far greater public health risk?

Why is the GAMBLER — perhaps a mental health case rather than a cancer case, sure; but often a thief, a fraudster, a wrecker of families, and a poverty agent — not vilified, but supported by society?

And why is the ILLICIT DRUG USER the focus of so many rehabilitation programs, harm minimisation strategies, support services, the recipient of so much costly medical treatment and often the recipient of a smack on the wrist for breaking the law, without the vilification meted out to the smoker?

Readers, I ask these questions and raise all of the points in this article not to justify smoking — and certainly not to deny the links the habit has to ill-health — but merely to point out the disproportionate nature of the anti-smoking effort, the singling out of smokers whilst leaving other groups virtually undisturbed, and to show that at some point, people need to simply be allowed to make their own decisions and that there is a limit to the amount of nanny-state enforcement that will have any effect.

It is for all of these reasons that I can assure you that cigarettes sold in plain packaging — if, indeed, those regulations come into force in December as scheduled — will make no difference to the rate of smoking in Australia whatsoever.

Earth To Julia: It’s Time To Go, And For Pity’s Sake, Go Now

Constitutional considerations aside, the ruling of the Full Bench of the High Court against the Gillard Government’s “Malaysia Solution” on asylum seekers is surely the final blow to its credibility.

The experiment is over; it has been an abject and unmitigated failure.

The decision by the Full Bench of the High Court to effectively disallow Julia Gillard’s “Malaysia Solution” on people-smuggled refugee applicants surely kicks out the last remaining moral crutch on which the legitimacy of her government rested.

If, indeed, there was a crutch remaining at all.

The “Malaysia Solution” was crafted with one eye on the conservative majority of the Australian public, and the other on her Communist mates in the Greens.

In the end it achieved nothing, pleased nobody, and should signal the end of her government.

This was the issue Julia Gillard promised would define her government; she would fix asylum seeker policy, and fix it in a way Australians would accept.

But it didn’t fix anything.

Australia finds itself with a government that promises everything, but delivers nothing.

And the things it really seeks to deliver are those that are almost perfect anathema to its citizens.

We know, obviously, that Gillard is pledged to introduce a carbon tax in the face of unprecedented public hatred for the measure.

We know, too, that she is committed to taxing hell out of the mining sector, despite the sovereign risks involved, and despite the indisputable fact that the minerals and energy sector is the only thing holding Australia out of a severe recession.

These programs — the merits or otherwise not for discussion in the context of this article — are the price Gillard must pay, slavishly and with usurious interest, for the support of her Communist associates in the Greens.

Never mind the Australian public.

The wishes of the VOTING PUBLIC are irrelevant, compared to a grubby little deal to clutch onto power, as if it were a straw in a cyclonic wind.

And this contempt is not merely confined to the electors on whom Gillard’s fate rests.

Following the High Court’s torpedo of the government’s “Malaysia Solution” Gillard went on an unprecedented and highly disrespectful attack against the Court, and in particular singling out the Chief Justice, effectively accusing him of variable standards, and effectively accusing the rest of the bench of complicity.

Gillard is a lawyer, and her remarks were obviously considered. Yet so inflammatory were they against the Court, and so obviously provocative and intransigent were they in their intent, I wonder openly whether they were in contempt of the High Court.

Never mind the bit about the separation of powers under Westminster…

And never mind the fact the Chief Justice was an appointee of the Rudd government, and therefore of the ALP. What does Gillard think this is? 1975? Even then, Sir John Kerr (ALP man)  and Sir Garfield Barwick (Liberal man) acted impeccably, in the interests of Australia, however much Labor types might bleat.

And acting in the interests of Australia, despite solemn protestations to the contrary, is neither the strong suit of this government nor of its Prime Minister.

Add into all of this the recent scandal a la Craig Thomson and the prostitute credit card saga, in which it seems everyone in the ALP and the unions are entitled to cover each other’s arses, but in which external query is met with glib words, smug denials, and smart answers.

Glib, smug and smart enough to be rightly construed as a creditable attempt to avoid justice, prosecution, and enforcement of various sections of the Electoral Act and the Constitution.

Add in again the increasingly shrill attacks against News Limited, its newspapers, and its journalists.

First we had Bob Brown complaining that News’ papers didn’t give him a fair go; then we had threats of inquiries into that company’s publications based on goings-on in Britain (nothing to do with us); and now reports the Prime Minister personally saw to it that an article unsatisfactory to her this week was pulled at the end of a phone call.

That’s what defamation laws are for, Prime Minister — if, indeed, the article was defamatory.

So we now also have attempts to muzzle the media too — no doubt also cheered along by Bob Brown’s band of Communists.

All the while, her government — and that of predecessor Rudd, which she can’t run away from — has presided over such policy successes as the Pink Batts fiasco, “Building the Education Revolution,” “Green Loans,” and wasted billions of dollars on abortive programs such as the much-vaunted “Cash for Clunkers” scheme.

We have a government which has gone from virtually zero debt to $200 billion in four years, and which currently wants to increase that to $250 billion. “Nothing by world standards!” the apologists cry.

a) We’re governed by our own standards, thank you; b) it might be small by world standards — now; and c) it’s also the thin edge of the wedge, and if anyone doubts that then — again — go and look what Labour did to Britain and what is happening there now to try to fix the damage.

I reiterate: it’s the thin edge of the wedge.

Consumer confidence is near all-time lows; retail spending is extremely sluggish; the housing market and the stock market are poised to nosedive, and there aren’t a lot of everyday people exuding untrammelled confidence in the state of the country.

Above all, though, people are angry — very, very angry.

Constitutionally, of course, governance is proper and stable, but there is a moral dimension, which transcends law, the constitution, and even politics.

And it’s this: when the citizens are, by every conceivable and measurable index, so opposed to a government that nearly two-thirds are hellbent on an election (not a revolution, mind, just an opportunity to have their say), and when the government lurches from crisis to crisis, mired in everything from sex-and-sleaze scandals to the legal and constitutional failures of its own policy debacles, then surely — surely — there is an obligation on a Prime Minister.

The Red And The Blue calls on Julia Gillard to resign her commission, and those of her ministers, and to submit her government to the judgement of the people.

If she is right — if her political and policy case is meritorious, and if her judgements are sound — she will be re-elected.

But Australia faces, without a circuit-breaker, at least two more years of this.

The longer it drags on unresolved, the worse it will get, the angrier people will become, and the harder the eventual electoral retribution will be against those who allow its perpetuation.

The Red And The Blue also calls on Tony Windsor — easily the most intelligent and most reasonable of the Labor-aligned Independents — to rethink his support for Gillard.

After all, whether right or wrong, Windsor — alone of the Independents backing Gillard — at least sounds credible when he says he wants to do the right thing.

Support for a no-confidence vote against the government, thus triggering an election, might even have the happy consequence of him saving his seat.

Either way, the time has arrived for this government to go, and to go one way or the other. It has no moral or political authority remaining, and Gillard specifically has never enjoyed the unqualified support of the Australian electorate.

Even Graham Richardson — once the ultimate supremo of ALP factional politics, power, and strategy — makes no bones about the fact Gillard and the ALP are spent.

It is time for Gillard to place herself before the people, and for the good of the country.

Then — and only then — might good will out.

This has all gone on long enough. It can’t be allowed to go any longer.

For pity’s sake, Prime Minister, go.

And go now!