Daniel Andrews Responsible For Bourke Street Slaughter

WE’LL SAY it plainly: culpability for yesterday’s tragedy in the Melbourne CBD — a recidivist criminal with a history of armed violence going on a rampage in a car, killing four people and injuring dozens — rests squarely with Daniel Andrews; after two years in office, presiding over ballooning rates of violent crime that are the logical consequence of a lax and cavalier attitude to punishing criminals, his government has blood on its hands.

By now, everyone in Australia knows about the sickening incident that occurred in the Melbourne CBD yesterday afternoon; it is a tragic outrage and — the resolve of decent people permitting — ought to represent a line in the sand when it comes to butt-covering and “smart answers” to bat responsibility away from Daniel Andrews and his loathsome, incompetent state government.

I want to begin by extending condolences to the families who have lost loved ones — and wishes for a full recovery to those who have been seriously injured — in a mass slaughter event that could have been avoided if platitudes like “jail is a last resort” and misplaced concerns about the rights of criminals were dispensed with.

In addition to two adults who lost their lives, as 26-year-old Dimitrious Gargasoulas allegedly drove at pedestrians in Bourke Street to murder and maim as many people as possible, a 10-year-old child has been killed. A fourth victim has also died, although at the time of writing details are unavailable.

The alleged offender is said to have a history of mental illness and a long history of violent behaviour, and it is very nice that social workers and other do-gooders saw to it that he wasn’t deprived of his liberty.

Who took the rights and welfare of the public — including an innocent child — into account?

There are certain obligations the state — irrespective of which theory of political ideology one subscribes to — must discharge on behalf of its citizens; paramount among these is to preserve order and to uphold the rule of law: for without order under the rule of law, the freedom of ordinary folk to safely go about their lives, with confidence they will not be attacked or robbed or murdered, is impossible to guarantee.

In this instance, the inability of Police to at first detain, and later shoot (or otherwise thwart) the alleged offender, is a failure of governance for which responsibility can and must be sheeted home to Premier Daniel Andrews, his government, and any public official who had direct oversight of a sequence of events that permitted Gargasoulas to be free to commit the atrocity that took place in Melbourne yesterday.

Police Media commented that Gargasoulas had “repeatedly become known to (them) in recent weeks,” and references to a shooting incident last month involving Gargasoulas were also made, in a segment aired by Melbourne radio station 3AW late yesterday afternoon; on that basis alone, the guy should have been in gaol where he could pose no further risk to public safety.

It has also emerged that at 2am yesterday morning, Gargasoulas allegedly stabbed his brother in the chest and head at a house in the inner city suburb of Windsor; homicide investigators were called to that incident.

Another detail that filtered out last night, thanks to the efforts of journalists, is that Gargasoulas has a long history of violent behaviour.

So just how is it that he was free, at 1.45pm yesterday, to commence doing burnouts at the intersection of Flinders Street and Swanston Street before driving down the Bourke Street Mall, mowing people down as they scrambled for cover, and proceeding across Elizabeth Street before finally being rammed by Police several blocks further up Bourke Street?

Seasoned former journalist Senator Derryn Hinch — as plugged in as ever to what goes on in Melbourne — tweeted last night that his sources had told him that Police had seven opportunities to ram the car before it embarked on its deadly rampage down Bourke Street, but were denied permission to do so. By whom?

And whilst this is a perennial question of any victim of crime — especially those who have had a friend or family member killed by a known violent offender on bail or parole — on precisely what grounds did psychologists, social workers or other “experts” who found that Gargasoulas was no risk to public safety arrive at that conclusion?

This horrific episode throws up hard questions. The Victorian public will be lucky if it ever receives straight answers to them.

As indelicate as it may be to say so, the government of Victoria has blood on its hands: the Premier, his ministers, and whoever was in operational command yesterday are very heavily culpable.

On Daniel Andrews’ watch in Victoria, we are witnessing in real time an attempt by an elected government to use the High Court — arguably in an abuse of process — to avoid an inquiry into allegations that boil down to a question of whether its actions in sequestering parliamentary resources for electoral gain amounts to official misconduct: it isn’t a good look, and whilst it isn’t directly relevant to yesterday’s events, it forms part of the backdrop I will sketch out.

The insidious slither of the PC agenda of the Left — this time into penalties, sentences, and what we might term “incarceration practices” — sees more humane and considerate treatment of criminals than their victims; the mantra of jail being last resort is applied ever more widely, and it seems there is no end to dangerous criminals being released into the community whilst awaiting trial or in short order after serving a token sentence.

There seems no end, too, to the odious practice of finding grounds for special consideration for these vermin to use to extract watered-down penalties: Gargasoulas has been widely reported to be mentally ill; the reaction of the bleeding heart do-gooder regime is to say “there, there…we can’t lock you up if you’re sick.”

Meanwhile, this special treatment is repaid all too often, on undeserved and unjustified bail or parole releases, with wanton violence and/or murder — in this case, both — and Andrews’ government, elected at about the time a wave of public anger over criminals on release committing fresh crimes was forcing change, has failed to deliver on the expectations and outcomes demanded of it.

Whether it is APEX thugs terrorising Melbourne, or gangs of Sudanese youth perpetrating a rising number of home invasions, carjackings, and assaults against the person, or the drug-fuelled violence that is the consequence of a methamphetamine epidemic and rampant availability of other illicit drugs, what was once the safest state in Australia now ranks among the most dangerous.

Speaking of the Sudanese, most of their number are decent people; but in Daniel Andrews’ Victoria, it is verboten to identify the scum in their midst terrorising old ladies in their homes and perpetrating violence against ordinary decent folk as Sudanese: to do so is fatuously said to be “racist.”

Liberal leader Matthew Guy is little better, and I’m told he has privately had screaming matches with Liberals who have called the Sudanese gangs out as “Sudanese” on the basis they are “off message.” This apparently bipartisan approach to failing to call law and order problems for what they are is delusional. Those who are in on the act, to use the vernacular, have their heads up their arses.

And then there’s the small matter of the even smaller sentences that are actually served by those dangerous criminals who end up in jail at all.

The point is that having governed Victoria for almost 14 of the last 18 years, the ALP is heavily and disproportionately responsible for the law and order regime in force in this state.

Having now served in office for almost two-thirds of the four-year term to which it was elected in November 2014, the Andrews government does not have the dubious luxury of blaming the opposition or attempting to deny there is a crime problem in Victoria that is spiralling out of control.

The only parties to what happened in Melbourne yesterday who are blameless are those frontline Police who were simply obeying orders; these tireless law enforcement officers deserve respect for what they do. Notwithstanding the very real issues at play here and the tragic manifestation of them we saw yesterday, the Victorian community owes these people a debt of gratitude.

If it is true, as Hinch reported, that Police were forbidden to capitalise on seven opportunities to ram Gargasoulas’ car off the road before he went on his slaughter spree, then whoever gave the orders not to intervene should be dismissed.

Andrews, for his part, has spent two years explaining away the rocketing crime rate with unconvincing rhetoric and creative interpretations of official statistics for no better reason than cynical politicking, but there is a deadly flaw in doing so. The position of the Andrews government is that crime is well under control, and that Victorians have never been safer. Yesterday’s events prove they are not. The fact that Gargasoulas’ background contains all the elements of foreseeable risk compounds the fault of the state government.

In other words, you can’t have it both ways. If the principle of responsible government means anything at all to Daniel Andrews, his first order of business on Monday must be to sack Police minister Lisa Neville. His second should be to tender his own resignation. If former NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell can be forced to resign over an undeclared gift of a bottle of wine, then four deaths and dozens of people hurt, in an incident that could have been avoided through rigorous policy and governance, makes O’Farrell’s misdemeanours pale by comparison.

I would be unsurprised if, in due course, the survivors and the families of the deceased launched a class action against the state of Victoria for compensation; the liability to the Victorian taxpayer could run into the tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars. The realist in me says they would be entitled to the money. The cynic says they will never see it. So morally bankrupt is the Andrews government that even if a judicial inquiry led to an obligation to pay, the government would probably fight that all the way to the High Court too.

In practice, the senseless slaughter and the circumstances that led to it will take years to unpick. The trauma will similarly last for years.

But the buck stops with the government, where law enforcement is concerned.

Mentally ill or not, or premeditated in his actions or not, the alleged offender Gargasoulas’ history is a veritable road map to an individual who should never have been released into the community: but he was, and with tragic consequences.

Nothing is going to bring back the dead, and nothing is going to ever make it quite right for those who were hurt — or, come to think of it, for many of those who were bystanders and simply witnessed the dreadful actions that were committed in central Melbourne at lunchtime yesterday.

But Daniel Andrews must be held responsible for what happened in Melbourne yesterday; it is the failed policies and maladministration of his government that led directly to the tragic events that took place on Bourke Street, and responsibility demands that consequences follow.

A shred of decency would see Daniel Andrews dismiss his minister, and resign himself shortly thereafter. But Andrews, like the government he leads, has no sense of public decency whatsoever, which means all care will be taken to protect the rights of the alleged offender — and the victims, in all likelihood, will be given the shaft.


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.


Daniel Andrews Has No Right To Change Asylum Seeker Policy

NEWS Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews “offered” to house, educate, medicate and throw welfare at 267 asylum seekers cleared by the High Court to return to Nauru is an outrage; Australia’s border regime has been repeatedly endorsed by voters, and the consequences of changing it can be seen with a quick glance at Europe. Andrews should concentrate on running Victoria, a task at which he is proving spectacularly, but unsurprisingly, inept.

No doubt the Chardonnay drunks and the finger shakers and the bleeding heart bullshit artists of the Australian Left are quietly congratulating themselves tonight, but the other 95% of the population should be alarmed — and outraged.

And if ever an ostensibly innocuous gesture represented the thin edge of the wedge, this is it.

The news that Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has written to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull with an “offer” to house, educate, medicate and throw welfare money at 267 asylum seekers facing return to Nauru — in the wake of this week’s High Court ruling that mandatory detention of asylum seekers on that island is constitutional — must be condemned in the strongest possible terms, and not just for the obvious reasons upon which those compassion babblers from the Left will seek to justify it.

You’d think the ALP and the Communist Party Greens would have learned their lesson by now, but apparently not.

When Labor managed to sweep away its detested, loathed, hated Howard government in late 2007 — described by some in its ranks as “evil” — one of the first things the Rudd government did, with the explicit support of the Greens, was to abolish the highly successful “Pacific Solution:” that suite of policies that brought the arrival of asylum seekers by sea to a total halt.

The next thing anyone knew, 50,000 asylum seekers were arriving every year — in addition to well over a thousand who didn’t survive the journey, drowning en route at sea — with the costs of (you guessed it) housing, educating, medicating and throwing welfare money at them running to well in excess of $10bn per year.

The longer it went on, the faster the boat arrivals came; the more it cost, the more people turned up as word spread back to the Middle East that Australia was a soft touch that would let anyone claiming to be a refugee into the country: so long as they made it through the trip.

To Labor and the Greens, however, this was the “compassionate” and “humane” way to deal with them.

By the time anyone at the Labor Party noticed there was a problem, this running sore had already filled millions of acres of opinion and comment in those organs of record so decried by the Left as illegitimate; every one else in Australia knew — and so did the good burghers at the Murdoch press — that whilst this country isn’t filled with cruel, hard-hearted arseholes, the capacity to cope with this level of unannounced immigration (many of whom were not “refugees” at all, but economic migrants seeking to jump the queue) had already far transcended Australia’s ability to do so.

And when the Labor government, by then led by Julia Gillard, tried to do something about it, there was an East Timor solution, a Malaysian solution, and a Regional Processing Centre: none of which ever happened, of course, and the suspicion the promises were nothing more than a macho PR exercise was borne out by the fact the East Timorese government made it known that the first they’d heard of any solution involving their country was when it was announced in the media.

Tony Abbott and his three-word-slogan opposition was looking like it was onto a winner with a pledge to Stop the Boats; naturally, when Rudd was reinstated to try to undo some of the looming electoral carnage his party faced for its misadventures in office, he solemnly declared, po-faced, that with Labor in office, no asylum seeker arriving by boat would ever be permitted to settle in Australia. Tony Abbott, by contrast, would start a war with Indonesia over the issue, he said.

The rest is history: the Liberal Party won the election; the Abbott government stopped the boats; no war with Indonesia was either in prospect nor occurred; but Labor and the Greens used their numbers in the Senate to frustrate and disrupt the reinstatement of the Pacific Solution — voting, for example, to disallow the reintroduction of temporary protection visas — and whilst the boats have stopped completely, the ALP and Greens still have not a shred of credibility on the issue.

Yes, you’d think the Left might have learned by now: Australian people will not tolerate an endless flow of largely economic migrants through open borders.

Not coincidentally, whilst these parties were in power, hundreds of children were placed into detention in Nauru: and as cynical as it might sound, it is tempting to regard this aspect of Labor’s mismanagement of the asylum problem as an investment in the day it was eventually booted out of government, for the ALP — and the wider Left, notably the Human Rights Commissioner, the contemptible Gillian Triggs — have played politics with children in detention ever since, seeking to hold the Coalition to account for a problem entirely of Labor’s and the Greens’ making.

This latest frolic on Andrews’ part — using the desperation of others for political ends — comes as the High Court struck down a bid this week to have mandatory detention on Nauru declared unconstitutional by a 6-1 majority; knowing no shame, part of the pretext for Andrews’ approach to the Prime Minister was that 37 babies born in Australia were among the 267 facing deportation to Nauru: claiming residency by right of birth has long been a tactical play of both asylum seekers and their advocates in the Australian establishment who think they know better than the rest of the country, and merely underlines exactly why it is necessary to stop it in its tracks.

According to Andrews’ office, the Victorian Premier’s letter was posted to Turnbull yesterday prior to its appearance in social media earlier today, and Turnbull’s people say they are yet to sight it; but given postal services between Melbourne and Canberra occur overnight at the minimum (and in this case, over a weekend) such a claim on Andrews’ part is fatuous: even if a paper copy was dispatched yesterday, it’s fairly clear the intention was to kick some sort of own goal on Twitter — and to force the PM to play catch-up on the hop and with no advance warning whatsoever.

The tactics are appalling. The claim that this stunt shows how “compassionate” Andrews and his government are is sickening.

Andrews’ letter was as follows:

Embedded image permalink

Embarrassingly, this document looks like campaign paraphernalia: it is jingoistic, pompous, and entirely innocent of any grounding in either common sense of the wishes of the Australian public.

“Victoria stands ready…” well, I don’t, and neither do a considerable number of intelligent, decent people in Melbourne I have been discussing this with today. Most are horrified, for far from being some magnanimous gesture of generosity, this is exactly the kind of thing tough immigration laws were repeatedly introduced to stamp out: and abandoned once already by a Labor-Greens cabal to disastrous effect, this silly stunt could well have the same practical outcome now — with consequences that would be nothing short of cataclysmic.

Triggs, for the non-existent value she represents to this country in exchange for an obscene monthly pay cheque, opined that children are scared at the idea of returning to Nauru — and therefore should remain in Australia — to which I say, what about their parents? It is not this country’s fault their parents put them in a position by which mandatory detention on Nauru is their fate for the foreseeable future. But the Left (and Triggs embodies it in all its repugnant malignancy) have never bothered themselves with the concept of personal responsibility.

If Victoria is permitted to get away with this — because Andrews “wants these children and families to call Victoria home,” and because sending them back to “a life of trauma” on Nauru “is not a fair solution” — then as sure as night follows day, Queensland will follow suit; once that happens, the ACT will try it on; and before you know it, and South Australia gets in on the act, every Labor-controlled state and territory jurisdiction will be running an illicit parallel immigration racket to undercut and sabotage the legal (and constitutional) one in place at the federal level.

It should be noted, of course, that immigration is a federal government responsibility: but if you are Andrews, the ALP and the Left generally, that doesn’t matter.

The end result of Andrews getting his way on this will be, with neither exaggeration nor hyperbole, to send the signal to people smugglers that Australia is once again open for business; and when that occurs, the flood of boats will resume: the only difference will be that instead of making for the Western Australian coast, the intended points of landfall will be in Victoria, and Far North Queensland, and along the Limestone Coast in SA.

And should that occur, a cursory glance in the direction of Europe is enough to send a shudder down the spines of all right-thinking folk: the 1.1 million asylum seekers who arrived in Germany last year are more or less tearing the place apart; another 50,000 arrived in January alone, and as one scribe today noted, 50,000 in a month actually represents a big slowdown.

Whether you like it or not, the capacity of Western countries to absorb literally endless numbers of people who just don’t want to live in their own countries any more is actually quite limited; it is a question of resources, affordability, and the capacity to integrate new arrivals whilst preserving social structures and the cohesion of existing communities.

Whether you like it or not, and whether it is right or not, there is ample and growing evidence that when it comes to large numbers of Muslim asylum seekers — because that’s who we’re talking about, let’s be honest — this simply isn’t possible, and with no disrespect to the ones who simply want to live in peace, there are too many in their ranks who want to blow the place up and terrorise the women who live here to justify taking the risk on any of them.

And with the article from the Fairfax press I’ve linked today confirming that each asylum seeker would require at least $10,000 per annum in state support (a figure that seems suspiciously low, frankly) for the 267 in question here, the few million it would cost to have them mightn’t seem like much at first glance.

But where there are some, there are more — many, many more — and just as Labor swore in 2008 that its abolition of the Pacific Solution would not lead to a flood of asylum seekers (which it did, directly) it will make similarly empty pledges now.

There are three main points to make in closing.

One, the High Court — the highest in the land since Labor abolished the right of appeal to the Privy Council — has ruled that the intended handling of these people is constitutional: but just like personal responsibility or public opinion generally, the law is only of interest to the Left when it says what the Left wants it to say; for the Left, in the end, thinks it knows better than everyone. It doesn’t.

Two, just who in hell Daniel Andrews thinks he is — seeking to usurp immigration laws that are the domain of the Commonwealth — is anyone’s guess, but in trying to interfere in the fate of these 267 asylum seekers he is playing with a particularly dangerous barrel of dynamite. Asylum seekers, in the hundreds of thousands if not millions, will recommence their bombardment of Australia’s shores in a heartbeat if they think they will be received here; I, and dozens of other conservative commentators, said at the time of the 2013 election that if the flow of asylum seekers was not halted, millions more waited ready to test their luck. That contention has been proven in recent months in Europe. Germany and Sweden in particular are finding they have imported gang violence, the rape and other sexual assault of their country’s women, and a lawlessness that shows neither respect nor heed for Western values. We do not need this here. But this is the danger Andrews is flirting with as he grubbily tries to score a point against the federal Coalition on behalf of the Chardonnay drunks and finger shakers of the Left who urge him on.

And three, little over a year since winning office in Victoria, Andrews has pissed more than a billion dollars up against a post — cancelling the East-West Link he said the contract to build wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on, and that tearing it up would expose the state to no compensation — and has turned a $2bn budget surplus into a $250 million budget deficit in the space of a single financial year; beyond these dubious “achievements” there is nothing of any value to show for 14 months of Labor government in the Garden State.

Maybe Andrews should concentrate on his own job — running the State of Victoria — and leave federal matters to the federal government.

After all, the policies in place on immigration and asylum seekers were endorsed at the ballot box in 2001, 2004 and most recently in 2013; and after all, for a man who campaigned on putting an end to a “circus” he claimed had played for four years on Spring Street, the nicest thing you could say about Daniel Andrews is that he’s a clown — and he has proven it today with this stunt.


Victoria: Fire Union Demands Its 30 Pieces Of Silver From Labor

FLUSHED AND SMUG over its part in a filthy, reprehensible election campaign that won government for Labor — shredding the reputation of emergency services — the United Firefighters Union has made industrial demands on the state of Victoria of more than $1.5bn, including 30% pay rises over three years. The union wants its 30 pieces of silver for services rendered. Premier Daniel Andrews must pay the wages of sin or risk the wrath of the Devil.

Immediately after it was clear that Labor had narrowly won last year’s state election, I opined in this column that Victoria now had a complete moron as Premier; the conspiracy of events has taken little time to prove the assertion correct, with a labyrinth of poor judgement, incompetence, and sheer unbridled stupidity quickly laid bare as the foundation upon which his odious election victory was built.

There is an old adage that nothing comes of nothing; here in Australia, we like to say there’s no such thing as a free lunch. But whichever way you cut it, new Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is about to find out the hard way that everything comes at a price.

In the lead-up to the November election (and in some cases, over a period of years), public sector unions went to extraordinary lengths to help orchestrate the defeat of a first-term conservative government in Victoria, with trade unionists masquerading as nurses, ambulance drivers, hospital orderlies and firefighters taking and making calls in marginal Coalition electorates, doorknocking homes, manning polling booths, and visibly dragging hitherto respected essential service providers into the acrid cesspool of a flagrantly dishonest Labor election campaign.

I say “masquerading” for the simple reason that ample evidence existed prior to polling day that members of other unions with no ostensible connection whatsoever to the emergency services participated, wearing facsimiles of uniforms and fabricated sob-stories of professional mistreatment with which to regale the unsuspecting and the gullible.

Yet at the end of the day and irrespective of the bona fides of their participating “members,” the unions’ contribution to the Labor campaign effort was, as I said, flagrantly dishonest — it relied on the presentation of exaggerated and/or fictitious “problems” said to have been created by the Liberal Party, and perpetuated these for the express purpose of hoodwinking enough voters into a vote for Labor to bring about a change of government.

At the time, the central thread running through Labor’s campaign narrative was that the various voices that “courageously” spoke out against the Napthine government spoke on behalf of all Victorians; for every vandalised ambulance that drove around the state defaced by Labor’s political slogans, for every nurse who called people out of “concern” to discuss their health issues (when they were in fact peddling their own political agenda) and for every firefighter telling the story of shocking conditions and appalling resources, the unifying message was that only Labor could bring Victorians together — and that only Labor could solve these dreadful problems the Liberals, with their “hatred” of public services and their “obsession” with “cruel cuts,” had created.

It was, of course, the biggest pile of horse shit ever passed off as an election campaign narrative in this country (although there has been plenty of competition for that particular mantle, from all sides of the political spectrum, for decades).

But in news that will come as no surprise to anyone with a brain, it now seems at least one of the unions wanted something for its trouble.

Reports emerged yesterday that the United Firefighters Union had served the Country Fire Authority with a list of demands which would inflict a $1.5bn hit to the CFA’s bottom line over the life of a new three-year agreement; the CFA’s Melbourne affiliate the Metropolitan Fire Board is yet to receive an industrial demand from the UFU, but is said to expect this to occur imminently.

The UFU’s ransom note to the CFA demands 30% pay rises for its workers over three years; a ridiculous and totally unjustifiable claim that any CFA employee who works 20 minutes or more of overtime be paid the equivalent of eight hours’ extra pay; various perks such as the refund of tolls incurred in driving to and from work and taxpayer-funded childcare places; and the demand for a series of veto provisions that would, in effect, hand control of this state sector workplace over to the UFU — thus ceding control over the CFA squarely to the union movement.

Prior to the election, anyone with the temerity to point out that these unions were speaking for themselves — not for “all Victorians” — was shouted down; accused of showing “disrespect” to those who perform such vital functions as manning ambulances and fire stations and hospitals, we were told in no uncertain terms that we belonged in the gutter, that our objections showed how out of touch we were, and that the Liberal government we sought to shield from such outrageously deceptive tactics deserved the defeat the unions and Labor were working to inflict upon it.

How the worm turns.

All of this creates a major headache for Daniel Andrews, who might have been clever enough by half to navigate an election campaign, but who is fast being revealed as completely and hopelessly out of his depth as “Premier” of Victoria.

As of yesterday, the UFU has demanded $1.5bn and effective control of the Country Fire Authority.

A similar demand — in financial quantum and effective control — will seemingly hit the MFB within days.

The ambulance union won’t pose a headache for the Andrews government, striking a deal less than a week after the election that is almost identical to one its leaders agreed to on a handshake with the Napthine government but reneged on prior to signing, a month from polling day, for the fairly obvious reason that it could do another month of damage to the Liberal Party it so clearly detests by refusing to co-operate.

But the nurses will want their pound of flesh early in the Andrews government’s term; having been right in the thick of the election campaign action, there is no reason to think the demands of their unions will be any less outrageous than what we are now seeing from the UFU.

The Health Services Union is likely to want a cut of the action for non-nursing staff it represents in hospitals, too, and this is likely to hit the state budget every bit as hard as the rest of the ambit pay claims now being presented as reimbursement for “services rendered to the state ALP.

All of this comes before the CFMEU — that militant, violent union so deeply intertwined with Victorian Labor’s and Daniel Andrews’ political DNA — even steps into the ring to press its claims for favours.

And it’s fairly clear that far from his solemn pledges of sober economic management and sound stewardship of the state budget, Daniel Andrews will shortly be facing cumulative wage demands of five to ten billion dollars over three years: ambit, yes, indefensible, certainly; but even if those claims end up being settled on half the money sought, the impact on Victoria’s finances will be disastrous — and set the state right back on the path to the early 1990s and the mess made of it by “legendary” ALP premier John Cain, who was forced from office in disgrace.

The problem, of course, is that the unions have got Andrews by the balls.

The Premier now faces an invidious choice: to capitulate to the ridiculous demands of the unions that arguably shoehorned him into the Premier’s office on a lie, doing untold damage to the state in the process; or to bite the hand that feeds him, and tell the unions — as they surely should be told — to fuck off, and to tell their stories walking.

In short, Andrews must pay the wages of sin, lest he risk facing the wrath of the Devil.

If Daniel Andrews didn’t see this coming last year — as he was accepting all the “free” help on offer from his union mates to get rid of the hated Tories — then he really is too stupid to be Premier of Victoria, as this column (and hundreds of thousands, if not millions) of Liberal voters in this state suspected all along.

The invoice for 30 pieces of silver has landed on the Premier’s desk; irrespective of whether he pays up, it is likely to cost him very dearly indeed.

It’s not as if this is the only primed explosive Andrews will have to defuse quickly, either; some of Labor’s election commitments are undeliverable and some — on Transport — are yet to see the light of day three months after his solemn election-eve declarations that they were “shovel ready.”

And whilst the subject of money is on the table, Andrews is simultaneously facing another searing choice: to legislate Victoria out of the contract to build the East-West Link — effectively ripping off the companies contracted to build it — or to cough up the $1.2bn in compensation the contract (which Andrews solemnly claimed in opposition “wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on”) obliges the state of Victoria to pay as the price for abandoning the project altogether.

Either way, it’s hardly an auspicious start, and this column will rigorously scrutinise the Andrews government and hold it to account: I do not believe Victorian Labor has any mandate in office to do anything other than not build the East-West Link, and so incompetent is the ALP that even that election promise will cost the state — monetarily and in terms of road congestion, pollution, lost jobs and lost productivity — for decades.

The complete moron now ensconced in the Premier’s suites in Treasury Place is showing his stripes. Already, the poor judgement and incompetence that characterises his government has become impossible to defend or to explain away, even for Labor’s most seasoned — and fork-tongued — of spinmeisters.


Victorian Liberals: We Back Michael Kroger As State President

THE NEWS that the former President of the Victorian division of the Liberal Party, Michael Kroger, will contest the role when it falls vacant in March is to be welcomed, applauded, and heartily endorsed; at a time the Liberals’ stocks have rarely been lower in the state once hailed as the “jewel” in its crown, we believe Mr Kroger is the likeliest candidate to enact reforms that will refocus the party on its primary purpose: to win elections.

50 days ago, the Liberal Party in Victoria lost government — after a single term — and with it, notched up its seventh defeat from the ten state elections held from 1982 until now.

That dubious achievement was recorded barely a year after the Victorian Liberal candidates — for the ninth time in 12 federal elections over the same period — failed to carry a majority of seats in Victoria despite the Liberal Party forming government nationally after five of those elections; one of the three majorities it scored in Victoria (in 1990) occurred largely as a result of state factors: one of the few genuine instances of an election result at one level of government being unquestionably influenced by goings-on at another.

Regular readers will have seen the blistering critique I published in this column one day after the embarrassing state election defeat last year, and with the benefit of the hindsight provided by even the seven weeks that have since elapsed, there is nothing in that assessment that I believe to be at all in error.

If anything — and with Liberal-led administrations in other jurisdictions and federally experiencing almost identical problems to varying degrees — the urgency to tackle those issues in the Party’s home state have grown even more pressing during that time.

With these observations in mind, I read with interest yesterday that the current President of the party’s Victorian division, Tony Snell, will not recontest the post at the meeting of State Council on 28 March; the declared candidates for the position are recently-retired upper house MP Andrea Coote (backed by state leader Matthew Guy) and former President Michael Kroger.

This column enthusiastically endorses Michael Kroger to return as state President.

Speaking as a rank-and-file branch member of the Liberal Party in Melbourne (and where factional considerations are concerned, completely unaligned) I have unswervingly, over a 25-year period, been prepared to work with anyone with the best interests of the Liberal Party at heart: and on this occasion, there appears to be two very good candidates who fully satisfy that brief.

Coote — a sporadic attendee at branch meetings in my area as an MP, whom I know (albeit not well) and who I hold in high regard — is an impressive and highly capable individual, and with many years’ recent first-hand experience in state politics would in ordinary circumstances seem an excellent choice to become the party’s state President.

But at a time when the Liberal Party’s standing in its own birthplace — the state Liberals boasted for decades was the “jewel” in their party’s crown — is nothing short of abysmal, its Victorian division needs a restructure, not a representative: and having performed in this role once before, delivering reforms that arguably led to the party’s only time in the sun in this state for more than 30 years, it is Kroger who stands out as the obvious, and only, candidate for the job.

I have no doubt Coote is more than able to discharge the role of state President of the party.

But so urgent is the remedial work to be effected upon it that it is critical the job is done properly the first time; and however cruelly, unfairly or otherwise in respect to Ms Coote, it is Mr Kroger’s past record that offers the best guarantee that this malfunctioning branch of a great political institution is whacked back into shape.

Kroger — President in the late 1980s and early 1990s — remains a controversial and polarising figure, and it is a monument to him of sorts that even now, the Liberal Party in Victoria is still often characterised as being split between Kennett and Kroger/Costello camps, although these demarcations have understandably blurred and broken down with time.

But the changes he was instrumental in seeing made in his earlier iteration in the post — tearing down antiquated organisational structures, overhauling and modernising preselection processes, orchestrating the removal of a great deal of deadwood from the ranks of the party’s elected representatives, and providing the party with mechanisms to better manage is political and organisational affairs — arguably underwrote what might have been a second golden era for the Victorian Liberals that has been progressively squandered in his absence.

Some have argued that the gain of nine Labor-held seats at the federal election of 1990 was merely attributable to the rancid, decaying government of John Cain that then held office in Spring Street; the fact remains that the organisational structures introduced by Kroger enabled the Liberal Party to fully capitalise and maximise their political advantage, and the Liberals’ haul of 24 of the (then) 38 federal seats in Victoria has not been bettered, or even equalled, since then: even at elections the party won in landslides in 1996, 2004, and 2013.

Similarly, the election of a Liberal government in 1992 was always likely to be a given, so decrepit and incompetent was the ALP incumbent the party faced, led by Joan Kirner after Cain’s departure from office.

Yet again, it is uncertain (or even unlikely) that the stellar win recorded by Jeff Kennett at the 1992 election could have been achieved with equivalent magnitude had Kroger’s reformation of the Liberals as a political fighting unit and professional electoral outfit not first taken place.

As a Brisbane boy still living in Queensland at the time, many of my contemporaries in the Liberal Party there were wont to regard what Kroger had achieved with great admiration and, indeed, awe: our own division of the party had never really fired a bullet — at the state level, at least — and to say we were impressed would be to understate the matter.

Many of us were regular visitors in Melbourne and some of us moved here permanently; some of those earlier contemporaries were and are in business with Kroger; others have worked with or for him, either in the companies he runs, inside the Liberal Party, or both.

For my part, I have only ever met him once, and then only as a fleeting pleasantry at the state funeral for former Premier Lindsay Thompson; unlike Coote I am unable to provide opinion on Kroger personally and I do not seek to do so.

But the bottom line is that political parties exist to win elections; stripped of fanfare and exposed as what they are in brutally blunt terms, they serve no other purpose whatsoever. The fellowships and friendships and coteries and committees that spring from them can be a great thing, but in the absence of the primary driving mission they would not exist at all.

And from elections wins — irrespective of your political stripe or ideological disposition — the delivery and implementation of policy and its consequent impacts are made possible.

It is on this basis alone that this column welcomes, applauds and heartily endorses Michael Kroger to resume the Presidency of Victoria’s Liberals.

Should he succeed, he will have his work cut out.

A moribund secretariat at 104 Exhibition Street needs and deserves to be gutted and rebuilt from scratch; as in his first stint in the post, a swathe must be cut through the deadwood among the ranks of the party’s elected MPs; and an end — in this state at least — must come to the insidious practice of recycling individuals through executive organisational roles within the Liberal Party (or the augmentation of their ranks with similarly odious persons) who add little or no benefit to the party’s electoral interests, and whose chief activities centre on butt-covering and the prosecution of personal and factional vendettas instead of focusing on the main task: fighting and defeating the ALP at the polls.

There is much more I could say, but in the interests of concision I will try to be circumspect.

I wish to place on record, publicly, an offer to provide whatever assistance may be required and/or sought by Mr Kroger in prosecuting his campaign to resume as President of the Victorian Liberal Party, and note in doing so that I do not have any parliamentary ambitions to pursue.

I do, however, remain in contemplation of whether to continue my membership of the party when fees fall due in March, and should Kroger win the role as President, any inclination to leave it will be immediately abandoned: the kind of fundamental change I believe the party requires is precisely what Kroger as President would deliver.

I would urge all readers with membership of the Liberal Party (or networks that intersect with its membership) to actively help to facilitate Kroger’s election as President; after all, the Liberal Party remains a party for its members, and it is only through mobilisation that this opportunity for basic, structural and desperately needed change can be grasped.

It is the position of this column that in the face of the indisputable problems the Liberal Party faces in Victoria that Michael Kroger represents the very best option on offer to address them, and to begin the hard and at times unpalatable work of internal reform that will yield the electoral success we seek as Liberals in the longer run.

Now Kroger has declared — and especially if he wins — the cacophony of public outrage from all corners of the Left will become deafening: evidence, however perverse, that his resumption of the role at the apex of the Liberal Party in this state is a development they fear.

This alone, in isolation from any other consideration, is reason enough for a Kroger victory to be engineered as decisively and as resoundingly as possible.


Road To Nowhere: Victorian ALP’s Newest White Elephant

FRESHLY RESTORED to a position from which to resume its abject waste of taxpayer money, exhibit #101 from the Victorian ALP is the poorly contrived, so-called West Gate Distributor that formed part of its “alternative” to the East West Link, designed partly as a sop to the Greens and partly to try to ward them off in inner-city Labor seats. The road looks like what it is: a waste of money that will cause more problems than it purports to solve.

This morning’s post is on a more localised issue to get us going again after Christmas, and I trust everyone had a nice day yesterday wherever they spent it; the aggregated effect of a series of short nights’ sleep had its inevitable impact on me last night in the form of a very uncharacteristic 11 hours dead to the world: so much for the prospect of an article last night! In any case, here we are.

I particularly wanted to cover off on this today, having seen a report in the Herald Sun over my coffee earlier, and this is one of those times you don’t need to live in Melbourne (or know your way around it) to see that whatever else might be said of the ALP or its election win four weeks ago, it has managed to get away with selling Victorian voters an absolute lemon.

(UPDATED, 3.20pm: It seems new Premier Daniel Andrews — or “Dan” or whatever else he calls himself today — has been stung by criticism of Labor’s cack-brained truck road, with a defence of it now appearing in the same newspapers that saw fit to rubbish it earlier. His words on its behalf fail to justify it any further than the merits of the plan do at face value. And that, succinctly put, is not very far at all).

It seems that as the party with a completely hopeless track record of delivering major projects — think the broken promises of the 1999 and 2002 elections to build the Scoresby Freeway as just that, with Eastlink carrying a toll for the next 30 years; the absolute debacles of myki and the Wonthaggi desalination plant that were late and over budget and a cost to taxpayers in the tens of billions of dollars; or the $750 million wasted on the North-South Pipeline that is unlikely to ever deliver a drop of water — Labor has wasted little time getting back to business with its West Gate Distributor.

Its purported cost of $500 million — factored against state Labor’s record in government between 1999 and 2010 — should see Victorians out of pocket to the tune of at least $2 billion by the time its newest monetary mess has been fully made.

I must confess that today is the first time I have seen the proposed route for this abomination of a road project: and readers will quickly see that the flaws are immediately clear, although there are a few other considerations that may not be quite so readily obvious.

ROAD TO NOWHERE…the West Gate Distributor is an expensive fraud that should not be built. (Picture: Herald Sun)


So blinded, it seems, has Labor been by the political imperative to sandbag its inner Melbourne seats of Richmond, Northcote, Brunswick and Melbourne — the last of which was lost to the Communist Party Greens anyway — that it has been prepared to foist virtually any nonsense imaginable on what is perceives to be a gullible voting public under the auspices of “a solution” which is designed solely around its own interests, with nothing more than a one-fingered salute to any genuine consideration of the best interests of Melbourne and its future growth.

To be honest, my five-year-old daughter could have come up with this plan with a packet of felt tips and a sketch pad.

At face value, the concept of diverting trucks around the West Gate Bridge is not completely lacking in merit.

But as readers will note, this half-baked plan doesn’t even see the proposed road form a complete loop: it ends, literally, nowhere, failing to link up at the northern end with (what I think off the top of my head is) Fitzgerald Road in Laverton.

The road runs through suburbs including Yarraville, Spotswood and Seddon in other safe Labor electorates south of the Yarra, and if I was a voter in the seats of Williamstown or Altona, I’d be pretty angry that the ALP had sold me out in favour of its trendy inner-city territory in the Greens-leaning latte belt.

There is already more than enough angst over the volume of heavy traffic through suburbs surrounding the industrial areas in Melbourne’s south-west without wilfully diverting 5,000 extra trucks per day through them, but never mind that. At the minimum, this could add an interesting electoral dynamic to the contest in those seats in 2018, especially in rapidly gentrifying Williamstown.

The road is to be subjected to tolls — at least, for once, Labor was upfront about that — but if the precedent of CityLink 15 years earlier has proven anything, it’s that truck drivers will go to inordinate lengths to avoid paying them.

Certainly, in some cases they have been unavoidable, such as in the tunnels that join the West Gate and Monash Freeways. But where there is a rat run to be found, no matter how obscure, a large number of truck drivers will use it: and that means even more heavy traffic through suburban streets in the electorates Labor has arrogantly assumed it will hold forever, and which it has clearly accorded second-tier status to below its prized inner-urban real estate in the inner north.

The six local councils affected by this road in Melbourne’s inner west are lined up against it.

The RACV is lined up against it.

And it seems rather self-evident that even if the West Gate Distributor succeeds in removing trucks from the West Gate Bridge — a dubious proposition indeed — all it will achieve is to create absolute chaos at the road interchange at the bridge’s southern end (and halfway around the Western Ring Road, too, if it ever occurs to anyone that it should at least rejoin the freeway in the north which, judging from the current plans, it hasn’t).

It is true that during Labor’s last period in office in Victoria under Steve Bracks and John Brumby it did not plunge the state into the ruinous financial abyss that its forbears in John Cain and Joan Kirner did in the 1980s and early 1990s.

It is also true that the reason for this was largely the regime of stifling and punitive increases in taxes, charges, fees and penalties it inflicted on the state’s residents that continue today.

But its inclination toward the sheer waste and misuse of public money remains undimmed, and this project is early proof of it.

In the end, Victoria’s new government seems content for the rest of Melbourne to grind to a gridlocked halt whilst it pursues its latest misadventure in major projects in the city’s south-west.

And this means that aside from the transport benefits and congestive relief the abandoned East-West Link would have delivered that at best will now have to wait for another change of government, Victorians are likely to suffer the double whammy of pouring additional billions of dollars into the state’s coffers to subsidise the Andrews government’s exploits.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Labor — in all its ugly glory — is back in charge in the Garden State.


Victoria: Results And Pendulum From State Election

WITH RESULTS NOW AVAILABLE in the 88 Lower house electorates from the state election held in Victoria a fortnight ago, an updated election pendulum is available — with the inferences and conclusions that will form the “sifting of the probabilities” for the next four years now able to be drawn. The Labor win is deceptively narrow. Liberals will need a solid swing to win the seven extra seats to form government.

This morning’s post really is a quick one; the ABC’s rightly renowned election guru Antony Green has posted an updated election pendulum for Victoria in the wake of the recent state election that saw Labor swept to power, and knowing this is a resource readers often come looking for following an election, I simply want to share it today.

At first glance, the Labor win looks quite modest, and in terms of seats it is; the ALP resumes office in Victoria with 47 seats in the lower house — a majority of 6 over all other parties — with 38 Coalition MPs (30 Liberals, 8 Nationals), two Communists Greens, and an Independent in Shepparton.

Yet using the notion of uniform swing, this “narrow” win shows the Coalition really needs quite a solid swing if it is to unseat new Premier Daniel Andrews in four years’ time: the eighth extra seat needed to fall, on a uniform swing, is Albert Park in Melbourne’s inner south, on a 3.0% margin; should the Liberals and Nationals not renew their Coalition agreement (which at time of writing is an obvious “unknowable unknown”), then the Liberals need an extra 15 seats to win in their own right — and looking up the table, that means everything up to and including Bellarine in the Geelong basin, and a 4.8% uniform movement to boot.

The Liberal Party last won outright majorities in 1992 and 1996 (in Coalition) and of course formed government in its own right after elections between (and including) 1955 and 1979, so the latter scenario — whilst improbable — certainly isn’t out of the question.

In both of those scenarios I have, of course, discounted Richmond, which despite is slender margin, is a Labor-Greens contest that is unlikely to ever be won by the Liberal Party.

Interestingly enough, the seats in the “sandbelt” in Melbourne’s south-east, along the eastern shore of Port Phillip Bay, which so much comment has focused on — Bentleigh, Carrum, Frankston and Mordialloc — would be the first to fall to the Liberals, and all would be retrieved on a swing of roughly 2%: enough to send the ALP into minority, all other things being equal, and suggestive of the fact Labor has its work cut out to hold them.

The politics of the Frankston train line are a double-edged sword: yes, the ALP has harnessed discontent over the slow pace of improvements along Melbourne’s busiest rail corridor, and the failure of the beaten government to deliver the promised station at Southland shopping centre didn’t help its efforts to hold them.

But the ALP is about to find out what it already should know: the kind of capital works needed to bring the line up to scratch are a slow boat indeed, and voters in these seats will punish it heavily if it is seen to have under-delivered by 2018.

I think the rest of this is self-explanatory and, as ever, we will likely feature the details of Antony’s pendulum quite a bit in our ongoing discussions over the state of play in Victoria.

As I said at the outset, this morning’s post is really about getting a resource to readers that I know is eagerly sought after, and shows up in search results throughout parliamentary terms at various points — so here it is.

I will probably have something a bit more topical to post late this evening: there is, after all, an awful lot going on at the moment…