The boring Senate

The election is only 3 weeks old and already you’re boring me witless over the Coalition’s control of the Senate due in July next year.

For crying out loud, isn’t democracy allowed to include the prospect of change occurring every now and then. So what if we’re going to have a Howard controlled Senate? Within 30 months of his government taking control of both houses, the next federal election will be upon us. If Howard (or Costello) abuse their increased powers over that 30 month period, the people will have a chance to do to the current Coalition government what they did to the ALP governments of 1975 and 1996, and to the Fraser government of 1983: throw them out.

I’m looking forward to the two and a half years of hopefully decisive government, starting in July. I’m keen to see changes to our industrial relations laws, for example. I may be concerned that Abbott and his supporters will try to change Australia in the same way that Bush has changed the USA, with a marked policy lurch towards the political and religious right.

But, concerned or not, I know that I’ll have the chance in November 2007 or thereabouts to cast my vote to retain or remove the Coalition government. In the intervening period, democracy will prevail and the Australian people will either like or dislike what the Coalition government does with its 30 month control of both houses of Parliament.

Sadly, some of your contributors – especially Christian Kerr – seem to be criticising one of the major strengths of our democracy: the ability of a legally elected government to govern in its own right for a relatively short period of time. Great! If it isn’t liked by the electorate, it won’t be allowed to continue beyond the next election and the new government will then be able to turn back the IR changes, buy back Telstra and return Australia closer to the political centre, if it so chooses.

Bernie Masters
Independent MP for Vasse (WA)

Comparing election results

I’m really not sure how useful it is to compare various election results – perhaps you can, but what is its worth? But if you want to, perhaps a reasonable election to compare the 2004 one to is the 1987 election. In that election the opposition went backwards in seats (but not in votes), and the ALP govt had been in a bit of trouble. Fortunately for the ALP, “Joh for PM” appeared and off they went to an election.

Where’s the intelligent commentary? Often it’s not very informative or useful!

On a similar note, yesterday’s Daily Telegraph had this whopper (which I’m paraphrasing) “After winning 39 seats in the Senate, the Coalition will have 38 votes to 37 (for all others) after electing a Liberal President”. As anyone interested in federal politics would know, the President of the Senate always has a vote (unlike the Speaker of the House of Reps), so the Coalition will have 39 votes to 37 votes, a (doubled?) margin. But given the rag, is this nitpicking?

I remember in January 2001 that one of the so-called intelligent papers ran the line that Australia was one of the few democratic federations in the world to have lasted for quite a while, along with the USA and Canada. Of course, Canada is a confederation, not a federation. The standard of political commentary is sometimes scandalous.


Clever Bin Laden

What most commentators seem to have missed is that Osama Bin Laden wants Bush to be re-elected. Why shouldn’t he? Bush is the greatest friend terrorists have. Almost single-handed he has destroyed the image of the US around the world – a remarkable achievement considering the 9/11 sympathy – and has arguably done more damage to the American economy than any terrorist strike could ever do. At the same time Bush need Bin Laden because it distracts attention form his domestic failures.

Maelor Himbury
Niddrie, VIC

Charles Richardson’s US election predictions

Below is a quote from Charles Richardson’s US election predictions:

“The Democrats are becoming more the party of the educated, the secular and the cosmopolitan, while their opponents attract the ignorant, the nativists and the fundamentalists. This is bad news for John Kerry: as Thoreau asked, “when were the good and the brave ever in a majority?”

Since they make up more than 1/3 of votes to Democrats I was wondering where would blacks and hispanics fit in the three Democrat categories?

Since small business owners and their families make up 1/3 of votes to Republicans where would you categorize them in the three Republican categories?

Post election ramblings

Experts abound and revisionism is rife. So a few observations of my own:

As leader Latham has a right and a responsibility to appoint shadow ministers and staff that, in his judgement, give the ALP the best shot. Consider this, however, how many shadow ministers and their staff have actual experience in Government?? The answer of course is pretty close to zero! This makes the task of tackling an established government pretty difficult on the process of government. Languishing on the backbench is a wealth of experience that will undoubtedly be under-utilised. Apart from Latham’s COS Thompson the staffing profile appears to be that of apparatchiks with apparently limited life (and definitely limited government) experience. In short to challenge a government you need to know how a government works. Those pearls of wisdom from Ministers aren’t thought up in the shower but are rather the result of the application of substantial tax payer funds in central policy departments.

To reiterate Latham does have a right and responsibility to appoint shadow ministers and staff that, in his judgement, give the ALP the best shot. But in management theory the best approach is to refresh while retaining the best of the old.

McMullan and Beazley on the backbench? Latham using up political capital to keep Crean?? Please!

From a former senior staffer during the Hawke and Keating years.

Ben Oquist is a great big green hypocrite

“Oh, we didn’t get a set in Queensland because the Democrats preference Families First, boo hoo. We would have if the nasty bastard Dems had done the right thing by us and preferenced us in Qld. Oh, sob, beat chest and forehead with beads.”

Which minor party was determined to wipe out which other minor party with the balance of power in the senate so they could rush through legislation giving free sex change operations to over 75s? The Greens.

You get preferences when you give them, Beny Boy. Don’t cry foul with the Dems because they chose not to give as good as they didn’t get themselves. I don’t like them, but when it comes to not preferencing your mob, I’ll defend to the death the Dems’ right to not preference the Greens. Particularly YOUR Greens, Ben.

Qld Liberal Chick and Arch Conservative

George Negus and antiques

Dear Terry Television, an excellent piece on the unfathomable decision by the ABC to cut George Negus. I don’t watch him often but when I have it was surprising and interesting to say the least.

You are right about antiques shows though. Britain has the excellent ‘antiques roadshow’ and the slightly less excellent but thoroughly amusing (and sartorially resplendent) ‘bargain hunt’ both of which show on Foxtel’s lifestyle channel. When I want excitement in the antiques department I always like to watch antiques roadshow. Their experts, real experts not trumped up TV celebrities, all have personality and the format (the public brings in its antiques for appraisal to a moving roadshow) is excellent – sometimes very surprising historical discoveries are made on these shows. You get a good mixture of the modern (1920s – 1960s) to the Victorian and Georgian and older in a wide class of objects. Australia could never hope to match such a rich tapestry. It will be a snooze fest. Witness the American version which is obsessed primarily with the monetary value of the object, not its history.


Terry Television on Denton

“It may not be rocket science, but many people, in and out of television still don’t understand that people watch current affairs and chat shows to hear the interviewees talk, not to hear and watch the interviewers dominate the show. It is a very fine line that people like Denton and O’Brien must walk.”

Just a quick response (or addition?) to the article on Denton’s enough rope. Far from being ‘rocket science’, interviewing well is a skill and can be aptly described as an art far more complex than the tangible and consistent nature of explosives and aerodynamics. Denton’s success rate is far from 100%, but in comparison to other TV interviewers he shows a consistent knack for opening people, even hostile people, up. As a social worker working in the Justice system it is a fairly important function of ours to be able to quickly establish rapport and in a limited time extract (interesting) information. It is also a difficult task to allow people to represent themselves as ‘fairly’ in their mind and in the minds of the detractors which Denton often manages. The interview with Bill Clinton may have taken the technique to sickeningly sycophantic levels but generally he balances unconditional positive regard with an aversion to bullshit quite well.

Defo damages v Personal Injury Damages

Hello, what is your problem with personal injury lawyers and plaintiffs when the most a most extreme case of personal injury (say 70% 3rd degree burns or quadriplegia) can receive for pain and suffering is about $300,000. Compared with the verdicts in defamation it is a sad joke.

It is good to see a wronged defo plaintiff vindicated but in this country a victim of the most gross negligence and serious injury can end up with zero pain and suffering. eg in Victoria you could have an oral surgeon slash nerves in your face and you would receive zero damages even though it would cause lifelong pain and humiliation. This is because the insurers persuaded the finance minister that only people who satisfy a guide book that does not include dental injuries or facial injuries other than scarring. Other shocking injuries causing lifetime disabilities also attract little or no compensation.

It is time that the con was exposed and reversed. Insurers can afford to pay proper compensation but their barrackers in the media like you were too hearing the spin about ‘death of fun’ to realise who was really having a fun time. Bloated profits and still rising premiums prove it.

Proud to be a common lawyer

Archie Ambulancechaser