Labor’s contempt for parliament shows through. Even a cursory glance at this morning’s front pages will tell you that Peter Slipper’s reign as speaker of the House of Representatives is going to be an eventful one. References to past indiscretions and current investigations into claims for expenses are not the ingredients for a peaceful time.
There was not much respect, nor dignity, shown for the highest parliamentary office in the land shown by the Sydney Daily Telegraph for example. Enlarged ears, a rats tail and barely visible photo-shopped whiskers are not designed to add gravitas.
Yet the Labor government knew this would be the kind of reception awaiting its choice as the new speaker after the resignation of Harry Jenkins. If parliament becomes a complete laughing stock — as it most probably will when it resumes next year — the government just doesn’t care.
The whole atttitude towards what happens in the House of Representatives these days is that it is nothing more than a necessary inconvenience in the way of getting on with running the country.
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Tackling the new income tax orthodoxy. Perhaps Australia had it right back in the 1960s and 1970s when the maximum personal income tax rate was over 60 percent without the rich having the benefit of dividend imputation. Certainly a recent paper by Nobel prize winning economist Peter Diamond would suggest that is the case.
In a paper written with Emmanuel Saez, Professor of Economics, University of California, Berkeley, Professor Diamond analyses the optimal tax rate on top earners and argues that this should be the rate that maximizes the revenue collected from them. The mathematics is a bit complicated to summarise here but seems to suggest that for the United States a top rate of 70% would fit the bill.
We did not hear much of that kind of talk at Australia’s recent federal tax forum presided over by Treasurer Wayne Swan. The Labor Party seems happy to go along with the prevailing wisdom that letting the rich pay less is better. The downward trend in maximum rates in this country is shown in this graph from the Henry Tax Review.
Anyone else and we’d call it blackmail. News of the World sent a video of former F1 chief Max Mosley participating in an alleged sado-masochistic orgy to the governing body of world motorsport after he dared to launch a legal challenge against the paper.
In evidence yesterday to Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry into press standards Mr Mosely said that News of the World publisher News International sent the “entire video” inviting the FIA to “show it to all members”. It was “several hours long” and sent on behalf of the company by its lawyers, Farrers.
The News of the World video was sent to the FIA in the week after it had splashed on a story headlined “F1 boss has sick Nazi orgy with five hookers”, which was originally published in March 2008. The tabloid released an edited version of the film on its website, without copy protection software “so the video was then copied all over the world”.
Mosley subsequently launched a legal action against what he described as a “straightforward invasion of privacy” and eventually won £60,000 in damages in the high court, the largest sum ever awarded by a UK court in a privacy case.
It is fear of just such tactics that has given the Murdoch empire such power over politicians and others throughout the world. To me it is simply a legalised form of blackmail.
Getting a bit precious. The do-gooder protectors have surely gone too far this time.
This ad, beautifully filmed by film maker Bruce Weber and starring Hailee Steinfeld in a wistful vision of 40s Americana, has been banned by Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority due to the positioning of Steinfeld “in a potentially hazardous situation sitting on a railway track, we concluded the ad was irresponsible and in breach of the Code in showing a child in a hazardous or dangerous situation.”
Sporting events are dangerous political venues. Further evidence that addressing the crowd at a sporting event can be a dangerous tactic for politicians. Here is Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin at the end of a martial arts bout between Russia’s Fedor Emelianenko and America’s Jeff “The Snowman” Monson:
An attempt by the prime ministerial spinners to claim the crowd was actively booing the defeated American has led to outrage on Russian social media sites.