“Michael Jeffrey may well be everyone’s mate, but he is no one’s head
of state,” writes Gerard Henderson in the Sydney Morning Herald. The
Governor-General may believe that he fulfils “all the functions of a
head of state on a daily basis” and hopes all Australians “care more
about their mates, families and themselves” – and no doubt he’s also
“a good bloke” says Henderson – but that doesn’t mean he “meets the
republicans’ dream of an Australian mate for head of state. Rather,
Jeffrey represents Queen Elizabeth II, Australia’s head of state who
also happens to be Queen of Australia, in Australia.”

Unless something drastic is done, the South Australian Liberal Party
is “on a one-way trip to self-destruction in a little more than two
months,” says spin doctor Ian Smith in The Adelaide Advertiser.
The party needs a new look before the state election in two months’
time, then it needs to get out and “deliver believable, conservative scenarios for
the state presented in understandable materials.” Without treatment,
says Smith, “the condition is terminal.”

Finance Minister Nick Minchin’s decision to cut superannuation tax
over income tax is true sign of “intellectual standards, fairness and
decency” in a world where those who raise concerns about good policy
are often the target of bulling or attacks, says Tim Colebatch in The
Age
. He’s the “Ed Murrow of our tax debate” – standing up for what’s
right, rather than what’s popular. The Treasurer wants to use some of
his $10 billion surplus to cut the top income tax bracket, but “tax
reform is not just
about giving people more money, but about removing distortions that
damage the economy’s output, employment and our long-term
future.” This country does not need any more spending, “it needs more
savings.”

For the past 20 years the ALP has been “hijacked
by well-heeled, self-indulgent, morally vain and would-be authoritarian
activists,” and it has cost them four successive election defeats, and
their pain won’t stop there , says Peter Walsh in The Australian.
And
it’s the green lobby, with all their talk of global warming, that’s
entrapped the Labor party into believing Kyoto is the way forward. But
if rising atmospheric carbon dioxide “really is a problem that
threatens civilisation, Kyoto is not the answer”;
and nor is renewable energy. The answer to the emissions problem – if it
is a problem at all – is nuclear power. And Labor must ditch its
support for the green movement – a movement that “alienates” a large
body of its traditional voters – if it’s going to win power anytime
soon.

“Beneath Canada’s placid surface, the tectonic plates are shifting,”
says Andrew Coyne in the New York Times, and one of the “Western
world’s most enduring political dynasties is cracking up.” Canada’s
Liberal Party, who have famously held power longer than the communists
held power in the Soviet Union during the 20th century, is ready to
crumble, maybe at the hands of conservative leader Stephen Harper, and
maybe during Canada’s current election. Conservatives have been so far
from power for so long that many voters don’t recognise them, or what
they stand for, but if Harper makes it to power, he’ll need to remodel
“Canada’s outmoded democratic institutions.” Previous conservative
aspirants wanted to run the liberal machine for themselves, but Harper
“wants to dismantle it, piece by piece.”

In the wake of the latest Al Qaeda tape, is America “better off negotiating with Mr bin Laden?” asks Douglas A Borer in The Christian Science Monitor. Yes,
“revenge is the sweetest of our dark sweet dreams,” but if we kill him
it will only inflame Arab hatred towards America. So if the goal is to
scale back terrorism and attacks against the Western world, then “sooner
or later we are going to have to deal directly with terrorists,” says
Borer. If it doesn’t work there’s always a silver lining, for we can
say we tried and we failed and now we have a legitimate right to fight
back. Bin Laden’s truce is probably not genuine, but if we try to
negotiate we can show him to be the “bogus partner, thus undermining his undeniable legitimacy in parts of the Muslim world.”

In what had to be North Korea’s worst kept secret, Kim Jong Il made a
trip to China, and it fired up “speculation that he’s finally, really,
truly going to introduce substantive economic reforms to his nation,”
says Melanie Kirkpatrick in The Wall Street Journal
(subscription required), but any idea that the country is
“liberalising” runs counter to the evidence. It’s economy is under
pressure: two million died of famine in the late 90s; their black
market weapons trade is out of control; and outside information is
slowly seeping in. Kim Jong Il will provide no economic revolution for
his people because “his authority depends on his ability to control the
economy, keeping
his people shackled to the state for food, shelter and work. That’s the
ugly bottom-line.”

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