On the Victorian Liberal Party’s election post-mortem
Paul Dwerryhouse writes: Re. “What killed the Napthine goverment?” (yesterday). As usual, the Victorian Liberal Party have managed to blame public servants and the media — everyone but themselves — for their 2014 election loss. They campaigned on a platform of fixing and expanding Melbourne’s public transport, including building desperately needed railway lines to Doncaster and Rowville, and instead threw this plan out, and committed themselves to building an expensive tollway tunnel that nobody wanted and was guaranteed to upset residents of inner Melbourne.
It was clear from the close result of the 2010 election that Melburnians were only lukewarm about returning the Liberal Party to power, and were only willing to do so with the moderate Ted Baillieu as Premier, promising to fix the trains. Dumping Baillieu and replacing him with the uninspiring Denis Napthine, a man from the outermost regions of Victoria, hundreds of kilometres from Melbourne, broke this pact. Napthine’s sole contribution to defending his road plan seemed to be that it was a “game changer”, as he repeated regularly when interviewed, and being from the country, did not appear to acknowledge the importance of the role of mass transit in Melbourne. The lesson for the Victorian Liberals is quite obvious: fix the trains, and don’t dump the only person in your party whom the public trust.
On Abbott’s time to go
Niall Clugston writes: Re. “Let Tony go” (yesterday). In a few paragraphs, Crikey’s editorial attempts a monumental rewriting of history: “Rudd never lost the support of the people, merely of the factions. Abbott, meanwhile, was never liked by the public, barely tolerated by his party, and loathed by large sections of both after the 2014 budget.” In fact, Rudd lost office amid plummeting opinion polls, following a series of controversies such as the home insulation scheme and the mining tax, none of which were caused by factional warfare. Support in the Labor caucus went to Gillard, a member of the Left, not on factional lines, but on the hope she would win the next election, which she did. If Abbott, on the other hand, was so unpopular, he would never have triumphed over other leadership contenders, including Turnbull, and never won the following election. Crikey, like most of the media, is blinded by its personal support for the liberal Liberal, Malcolm Turnbull. Turnbull is yet another politician who has come to the leadership on shaky party support and a transient wave of public popularity. There is nothing “delusional” about Lazarus’s love-child biding his time for a comeback.
On climate sceptics
Adam Rope writes: Re. “Meet the govt climate sceptics who have Turnbull by the short’n’curlies” (yesterday). I had a Twitter conversation with Dennis Jensen MP about AGW, and “the pause”, a little over a month ago. During this chat he advised that “I choose data over models, where you trust models even when data invalidates them” and then claimed “97% of GCMs (Global Climate Models) used by IPCC failed to predict pause”, which is scientifically incorrect, but huge on denialist blogs. When I asked Jensen to provide a credible scientific source for his claims about a pause, he gave “Hans von Storch et al (2013), “Can climate models explain the recent stagnation in global warming?”. Which, as I pointed out at the time, is “One paper, using a short time period from peak El Nino year to claim no warming”, it was also “not peer reviewed”, and “not published in credible journal”. When asked for more credible scientific papers, perhaps not claiming a fictitious ‘pause’ because the data used did not start at cherry-picked peak El Nino year, Jensen claimed I rejected the paper because it “disagrees with your prejudice”. So that’s climate change science for you, from a Liberal MP’s standpoint. A paper that doesn’t meet standard scientific criteria, but matches your ideology, is obviously the only correct one.
On GST reform
Roy Ramage writes: Re. “How to raise the GST without screwing the poor” (yesterday). Forget GST and try a 0.21% tax on all Australian financial transactions. One of the things Australia does well, is the the Australian Financial Markets Report (AFMR) which provides detailed data for all Australian financial transactions. The 2014-2015, total is AUD 135.2 trillion — up 7.2% on 2013-2014. The figures are available for download and make for interesting reading. The numbers completely overshadow Australia’s total tax revenue. As the total monies are almost entirely sheeted home to those that can afford to move such sums, a 0.21% universal transaction tax would solve all the delicate questions on who can and who can not afford GST. Our entire tax system could be replaced with such a tax.
On Freedom Boy and freedom of religion
Helen Mackenzie writes: Re. “The adventures of Freedom Boy and the Scientologists” (yesterday). Contrary to Guy Rundle’s assertion the Australian census does have an option of “No Religion”. In 2011, 22.3% ticked that box making it second only to the 25.3% who reported that they were Catholics. In total 59.5% identified as Christian, 2.5% as Buddhist, 2.2% as Muslim, 1.3% as Hindu and 0.5% as Jewish.