Posts Tagged ‘Julia Gillard


Dislclaimer: if you don’t like these opinions, I have others

Yesterday’s events were fascinating to watch. Barrie Cassidy called the spill two weeks ago on Insiders. Watch a pair of horses manoeuvring for first place can be more absorbing than watching a field of ten.

Whether a petition was circulated or not, Julia Gillard sniffed the wind and moved to end the saga once and for all, setting absolute sequelae for winner and loser. To Kevin Rudd’s credit, he agreed to the terms set out. The loser would exit this time. No, really.

The spill itself was a slow self-fulfilling prophecy. When Bill Shorten switched camps, it was confirmed. The stakes are so high that he saw fit to torch his short, medium and possibly long term leadership aspirations. To her great integrity, Julia GIllard was true to her word and immediately vacated the post without rancour or the sobfest that accompanied Kevin Rudd’s deposition in 2010. Then again, she had more time to compose herself. This spill had the same slow inevitability of the planet Melancholia contacting earth and destroying all on it.

Anyone who thought that Kevin Rudd was willing time to pass while sitting in the ‘nether regions’ as he termed it was seriously mistaken. His sound performance in Question Time yesterday was an clear message to the coalition that they will actually have to work for this. In the still likely event that we wake up to an Abbott government, the majority will be smaller, their mandate less overwhelming than anticipated in the last 6-12 months.

As the myriad post mortems on the Gillard period fill the web, the following were my conclusions:

The whole misogyny issue over the last 24 months has been overemphasized by the left and predictably dismissed by conservative commentators. Some of the twitter chat (of which I am a sad, sad addict) has brought up some overly emulsified emotional claptrap by blind GIllardistas who fail to see her flaws as a prime minister but instead only the attacks on her on the basis of gender by Alan Jones, Graham Morris, and numerous others. This is not to say that the said attacks were acceptable. Far from it. They were vile, sexist remarks from a bygone era when men were men and men were stupid. However it should always be possible to dissect the latter from the former.

Solely by virtue of her sex, it read like an absolute division by gender lines. I am certain there were feminists who found her decision to address the Australian Christian Lobby or as an atheist, to claim that her strong morals were from her Baptist upbringing as nothing short of bizarre. Did she speak for all women? Of course not, but not all men felt she didn’t speak for them either.

Pledging ongoing support (and tax payer funds) for the National School Chaplaincy Program is something I will never agree with, and logic prevailed with Ron Williams’ successful challenge in the High Court. Whether a believer, agnostic or atheist, placing the mental health of all children in the hands of one religious approach was simply an incomprehensible path to take, unless of course you are rather a fanatic.
Her stance on gay marriage was interesting given her justification of ‘traditional values’ that had roots in a Baptist upbringing, despite declaring herself to be an atheist.

Women are and have been for years ready and able to assume and execute positions of high office, despite Tony’s Abbott’s comical assertions of physiological difference. Australian though, to our detriment, was not ready for a female PM. This backlash from the aforementioned contrarians and others shaped Julia Gillard as much as she shaped the nation during her tenure.

On the evidence that she managed to oversee 485 passed bills (87% of these bipartisan) in a hung parliament speaks volumes for her tenacity in the face of the nauseating behaviour of Tony Abbott, Christopher Pyne et al who have spent valuable time with points of order, suspensions of standing orders and other means to simply enforce an early poll. The consumption of Question Time in the last sitting of 2012 by Julie Bishop’s wild goose chase on matters AWU was a blatant abuse of parliamentary resources, as were the almost comical volumes of electricity bills illustrating the carbon price’s immense adverse effect. Clive Palmer’s revelations on his meetings with Joe Hockey and Mal Brough show how intent the Liberal Party was to destroy the GIllard government by whatever means.

Should the ALP, as is likely, lose with an admirable swing (whatever that equals), or pull off a Keating, they can thank Gillard for tenacity in navigating through hostile waters. They can also thank her for committing to infrastructure, education and most importantly the NDIS as a worthy legacy. It is a great shame that both herself and her party could not sell those positive messages to the people. How much of that is mainstream Murdoch media and how much is the ALP’s doing is an argument that will never be won.

From here we are faced with a government that should have been returned on the sole achievement of positive jobs growth, avoiding a recession and achieving triple A ratings. But along the way there the disasters of pink batts and shall we say, rather non-selective approach to stimulus cheques. They have failed to address the highly complex problem of people smuggled to our shores. It has spent an ostentatious amount of time looking at itself rather than managing the ‘economy in transition’ that seems to be the line of the moment. If anything, the move to Rudd will hopefully refocus those remaining MPs who haven’t resigned or who are not resigned to defeat to put in one last effort.

But we have an opposition who has expended much of its intellectual and parliamentary resources trying to knock a house down instead of outlining how they would design it better. SInce Kevin Rudd PM v 2.0, Coalition MPs have been swift to outline policies released thus far, with Malcolm Turnbull at pains this morning to outline the Coalition’s vast roll call of policy announcements. A slower NBN, repealing  the carbon price and mining tax and a paid parental leave scheme that has business folk unsettled hardly sells as an array of policies. Nor does saying ‘we are not them’.

What we have now is a coalition that will have to work for the right to govern instead of the three columns of no, a pamphlet of aspiration and an as yet unknown algorithm to manage the economy. Given that Australia votes out governments (with the exception of Whitlam), this will probably suffice on polling day. The only worse in prospect than a hung parliament is a massive mandate for either party.


A simple analogy.

A family live in what was once an exciting house. It functioned well and seemed a right fit at the time.

Then little things start to stop working. The weatherboard panels have begun to rot and the water goes cold when you want hot and vice versa.

The area changes as your street becomes a major thoroughfare and you start to question your purchase with every intake of smog concentrated air.

The decision’s made easier when some of the local stoners take up residence on your nature strip.

A new estate offering an escape from this chronology of annoyances presents itself. New and safe, green and serene, but with few details beyond this attractive shopping smell.

When you chip away with some questions, you are simply told you won’t be sorry and asked if you really want to stay where you are.

You commit to an unknown change of circumstances simply on the promise that at least it’s not what you have now.

As we count down the 199 days before we decide whether to vote out the Gillard government, Australia is presented with a similar choice to the scenario above.

Phase one of Operation Abbott has fulfilled its objectives of discrediting and delaying the ALP’s legislative process through destructive, combative and often frivolous means. I have lost count of Opposition Managerial abuses of points of order and how many times the Member for Cook has been booted from Question Time. Quite apart from bad behaviour, it would have been redeeming, if only a little, had the Shadow Ministers for say Education and Foreign Affairs asked questions relevant to their portfolios instead of the latter consuming all of 2012’s final Question Time fixated on the PM’s AWU involvement and the former had asked a question relating to Gonski.

Phase Two sees a supposed change in the LNP MO. Primarily through a cuddlier and less combative Tony Abbott who at times looks like paid Sam Newman a visit for botox advice and then rolled in a barrel of Cheezels. There seems to be no accompanying slow drip of policy details, other than the repeal, reverse, rinse and repeat mantra. 

The Government has, to quote the PM, lost its way. Numerous articles have canvassed this and the polls reflect just how on the nose it really is. Despite steering Australia through the GFC, they remain destined to a slashed representation in the Lower House, with many good minds set to be wasted in a two to three term opposition. Stay with Julia Gillard and things stand as they are. Rewind to Kevin Rudd and the contempt will only boil over more. As Tony Strangio writes, this Messiah worship and a shift from leader-centred politics (as opposed to politics-centred leaders) has only weakened the ALP’s chances of a shock win on September 14.

So if we then move to the estate in the analogy above, what do we expect? If the LNP are on track for a landslide, is it any less important that we ask the strong favourites to outline their vision? They have relied heavily on the anyone but the ALP rote message. They owe us more. Tony Abbott is obliged, if not by any political or legal imperative, but by his contract with the Australian people to outline what he intends to do.

After dismantling the Carbon Price mechanism and the farcical MRRT, what then in terms of raising the revenue to backfill the void?

What tax measures does he see as appropriate in this landscape, both direct and indirect?

What educational measures will he implement from the Gonski report?

How does this Direct Action measure we first heard of 3 years ago work?

How fast will our broadband be?

Is Workchoices under that or another name really dead, buried etc? (ie what does a flexible labour market really mean for those in it?)

Many, many questions. For every day that the LNP play the small target game, the media will slowly speculate, only making the job of selling the message more difficult. Since Tony Abbott’s double spook effort with Leigh Sales and Lisa Wilkinson, he has been reluctant to appear anywhere. Or rather, Peta Credlin has told him not to.

The ALP’s best  media strategy would be to play the numerous Abbott moments on a loop, and God knows the man has been generous in his contributions. And for everyday he remains under cover, on Peta Credlin’s tight leash, these are the things we will associate with him. It is time for him to stand in the spotlight and provide either more LOLs or some leadership and vision. If he is as equipped with Economics/Law degrees and a Rhodes Scholarship, then this should be the minimum requirement.

All yours, Tony and friends.

I posted my resignation to the ALP’s electoral fate last July. One writes these things often with fingers crossed that fortunes will change and that the LNP and all that comes with it will not prevail. The Gillard led government would perhaps, largely on the back of deep unpopularity of Tony Abbott, earn a second chance it hardly deserved.

The LNP has had some degree of wind assistance via the mainstream media and some success in lying low post AshbySlipperRaresGate. While its AWU attacks failed to bear fruit, the Obeid NSW fiasco has provided enough public scorn of the image of unions and ALP corrupted, and that with little effort on behalf of the Shadow Foreign Minister (Julie Bishop in case you had forgotten).

When Paul Keating trailed John Hewson in 1993, he had some good fortune in watching the latter tangle himself in a purist economic vision that failed to translate past a chook or birthday cake, and with persistence and luck came the ‘sweetest victory’ of them all.

The last straw seems to be the recent underwhelming return on the MRRT. A paltry $126M return in its first 6 months seems to indicate that the forecasted $2B return over its first 2 years is, to put it mildly, unrealistic. The loophole of credits to mining companies for state royalties paid against any MRRT money has upset the independents and Greens (Rob Oakeshott in particular) to the point of a mooted amendment to the tax to close this loophole. Hardly an ideal scenario for the ALP heading into the never ending election campaign. Factor in more pissing in the tent by former PM Kevin Rudd and you have more ammo for an opposition that has done little heavy lifting in attacking the ALP’s execution of policy. I even found myself agreeing with George Brandis (yes, read it again it’s true) on Q and A last night as he reminded Chris Evans that ‘it was you that designed it’. Nowhere to run. And just quietly, when I agree on anything said by Brandis in criticism on the ALP, it is game over. You could even argue, as Rhys Muldoon tweeted cheekily, that the MRRT was effectively whatever number Marius Kloppers wrote on the back of a napkin. To change the MRRT now though appears to concede poor original planning (while keeping the Rudd fires burning), while staying put appears pig headed. It’s either a shit sandwich with white bread or one with wholemeal.

For all the discontent, scaremongering and protests the watered down version created, it would have been worth the opposition and vitriol to ram the Rudd version through to at least generate some return to shut the opposition up and limit their arguments to partisan policy lines.

This government has passed many good pieces of legislation under difficult conditions. It reacted quickly and appropriately to the GFC which the LNP remains amnesiac to, maintained sound economic KPIs that still makes other OECD nations envious only to fluff their lines again and again. Poor economic KPIs, with interest rates and unemployment high mean your hands are tied. To not navigate through the electoral period with what Joe Hockey described as  ‘good numbers’  is the real tragedy of this government.

There seems no other path than mutual scare campaigns, with the LNP afforded enough momentum to issue costings late in the process and without due consideration and scrutiny.

I only hope that there is a birthday cake, 2013 style.

Politicalexicon (The electoral non sequitur edition)_January 2013 Edition

With the 2013 election called and what will feel like a decade until polling day, I thought a refresher on the terms you are likely to encounter before and during the campaign would be helpful.

Twitter   The newest way to effectively share your wisdom or expose your stupidity. No one is immune. So dangerous that Liberal Party backbenchers have been banned from tweeting leading up to the 2013 poll lest they cough up policy. Biggest time waster since the slinky. Underestimated by the LNP at their peril. Will probably explode at 9.30pm on election night.

Facebook   Excuse me?

Wind Assistance   Mainstream media’s predilection for ignoring actual policy details and analysis of the incumbent, in favour of fluffing the persona of an aggressive man’s man with a popularity lower than syphillis. See also Newsfilth, The ABC.

Border Protection   A term dating back to the golden days of JW Howard. Involves pandering to true southern cross adorned Strayans that may or may not inhabit the seat of Cook. Both parties competing for the vote of Boganistan in a battle to the bottom given that the aforementioned Strayans seemingly carry clout. See also Fuck Off We’re Full

Gotcha   A gotcha can be mild (@greghuntmp being called out for climate change denial despite his A Tax To Make The Polluter Pay thesis) or downright stupid (@bernardgaynor tweeting that he would not send his children to a school with gay/lesbian teachers). See also gaffe.

Industrial Relations   A more flexible (read $2/day) workplace is needed for international competitiveness, argues the opposition, while the ALP government have a clear agenda to keep worker’s rights protected. The main divider between the two parties. Don’t mention the words Work and Choices together.

Specs Appeal   Notwithstanding (shock horror!) that people who have reached a significant political station usually require glasses, the media’s scraping of the barrel for stories includes what specs our pollies are wearing. Recent optical forays from Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott though are rumoured to have influenced John Faulkner’s decision to retire from politics.

Gaffe   Part of the Venn diagram relationship linking own goals to gotchas, gaffes. These proliferate as the stakes get higher. Examples include:

Joe Hockey’s ‘Go to hell’ interview

Andrew Laming’s tweet

Steve Gibbons tweet

Cory Bernardi’s senate speech

Jenny Macklin’s ‘live on $35 a day’

After the froth and bubble from the media, things usually settle down as people realise that we are, well, flawed to put it nicely.

Elephant In The Room   Subject/s that demand answering but remain mute. For the coalition these include Ashby/Brough currently, and Slipper/Thomson as a past example.

Slim Majority   A nice novelty that arguably caused the current parliamentary disquiet. Ironic given that people outside the major political frameworks got through to the lower house and have the balance of power. Not so ironic that Tony Abbott has been spitting the dummy ever since.

Baby Kissing   No, no and no.

Stunt   Any act  undertaken by a politician with the sole criterion that its duration lasts as long as a camera flash. Such activities include gutting fish, driving trucks, sandbagging (1 whole bag), baby kissing, posing in a CFA firesuit and welding without appropriate safety goggles (while espousing the importance of work safety). Catnip for Herald Sun, The Telegraph & Channel 9.

Marginal Seats  Any seat where a 6% or greater swing equals a change of party. In this case, this means 26 seats the ALP could lose. Let’s just say that there will be likely be less marginal seats after this poll than we currently have. See also sphincter tightening.

The ABC   One of the last remaining media institutions that actually probe either party to explain themselves. eg Leigh Sales v Tony Abbott. Once a bastion of progressive politics, now bending over backwards to accommodate LNP views/biases, especially on The Drum. Slowly being infiltrated by moles. As a guide, only trust interviews conducted by redheads.

Great Debates   A clear misnomer. The PM and Opposition Leader share time equally while shit canning each other. Constructive policy debate will more likely be found on an episode of Yo! Gabba Gabba than here. Expect the worm to be benched and a live SMS/tweet poll to be used. That and some hellishly annoying KFC ads featuring the tattooed Yank brothers no one asked for.

Costings   Where the eager-as-pie opposition attempt to reconcile rhetoric and aspirations with numbers. A bit like trying to mix cordial with crude oil and seeing through it.

Newsfilth   In the main, a triumvirate of The Australian, The Daily Telegraph & The Herald Sun. Interested in running the agenda for Rupert Murdoch and nothing else.

Sphincter Tightening   Anyone in an ALP  seat with a margin of 6% or less.

Mackerras Pendulum A handy do it yourself way to see which seats will matter the most. Much more useful than watching the Kroger & Richo shitfest.

Left/Right   An obsolete term for political parties’ traditional viewpoints and execution on core issues. eg The ALP is progressive on education/health but defiantly alienates gay/lesbian folk from marriage. Also leans in competition for nastiness when it comes to refugees. Left and right are more mixed than ever within parties as well as people.

The IPA   A think tank espousing small government and free market theory. Proposed a 75 point wishlist for Tony Abbott to implement on Australia so as to have the same magnitude of change that Gough did, albeit in a vastly different political direction. Prickly when asked anything, especially on twitter. Likes inhabiting the ABC whilst ironically claiming it is a leftist mouthpiece.

Antony Green   Revered figure amongst politicomathematical tragics, actuaries and nerdy female groupies who slobber over their pizzas on election nights. Distills polls, local factors and electoral trends so you don’t have to.

Preferences   Far too complex an issue for this humble piss take to cover completely. Suffice to say the major parties will put each other last, and then anyone they mutually loathe next to last.

Fiscally Responsible   We’ll cut, no, raze education, health and anything else that does not fit with our constituents’ desires to get the business sector all aroused and moist.

Class Warfare   If rhetoric represents cuts of meat, class warfare is tripe. Trotted out (sic) where a party wants to make their policy distinct from the other. Main culprit: Wayne Swann.

Pissing On Your Shoes   A classic Australian trick as executed by Tony Abbott at his National Press Conference love-in on the 31/1/2013: “Look I have nothing against the Unions”

Trolls   More often than not, people who need a job, a life and probably less alcohol. Characterised by unsolicited snark and usually highly sensitive themselves. Sensitive enough to block anyone who dares question their tweets.

GFC   Almost made the rest of the world carpet itself to death. Curiously forgotten here.

Own Goals   These inexplicable brain freezes vary in duration and impact. Usually even out between the ALP & LNP but some have held more gravity than others.

Pundits   A wide term defining anyone a channel can get to express their gut feelings, inanities and in some cases, incisive analysis. Some appeal come from the Grumpy Old Men aura surrounding the Kroger v Richo banter, while others who take election night seriously look elsewhere. It is surprise that the word stupid lives inside it. For the purposes of definition only, Andrew Bolt and Piers Akerman are pundits. As well as clowns.

Life-raft Jumpers   Political figures who announce their retirement in the last year of government with the knowledge that the party’s fortunes are well and truly trucked.

Political Wilderness   see ALP 1996-2006, LNP 1983-1996

Caretaker Mode   A period (starting from the dissolution of parliament by the governor-general and ending with the swearing in of a new ministry post election) where the incumbent operates hard and fast rules, desisting from any major appointments, international visits, policy decisions or legislation. Coincides with the period of pork barrelling  baby kissing, faux debates, staged managed opportunities and much sought after gotcha opportunities by the failed fourth estate.

Repeal   What the opposition will seek to do to the Carbon Price, the MRRT, as well as the 18K tax threshold that is seemingly close to the liberal ideal of lower personal taxes. With so much time repealing, one expects Tony Abbott to ask for a double term to fit the above in and actually propose and implement his vision.

Political Cartoonists   Geniuses who can capture & express political ideas, fallacies and hypocrisies in less words than in this sentience. Best examples are Tandberg, Nicholson and the King of them all, Bill Leak. Try and get your hands on Leak’s 2007 election series. They are the Vermeer of our times.

leak 1

Feel free to suggest more terms and definitions if you wish in comments below, or to my twitter handle @PAforClive.

2012 is enjoying its Christmas Party.

Those not attending have reclined to the room of mirrors with a soothing balm for the parts that hurt, some facing away from their own reflection. Others choose to party on,  avoiding their own reflection, either due to a willingness to adhere to their MO no matter the cost or because they are simply inept at the whole awareness thing.

Some sip their drink discretely without making a scene, knowing that they have dodged a few.

The year essentially saw the escalated tensions of minority government, with the Abbott led opposition clearly focused on destabilizing government function by whatever means possible, both in and out of Parliament House. There were more points of order and suspensions of standing orders than the collective brain freezes of Ray Hadley, Kyle Sandilands and Alan Jones – some tally. Still, the government survived the cringeworthy own goal of the inevitable Rudd challenge as well as the opposition shenanigans to pass not only the carbon price, but other legislation, most notably the plain cigarette packaging that had been coming for years, and a NDIS scheme that even conservative states could agree on. In principle. And that includes a premier who sees fit to cut funding for whooping cough vaccinations and who thinks the jury is out on the benefits of fluoride in water.

Regretfully, the government’s policies on asylum seekers can at best be described as uncertain and too clever by half. This year was the first time I had heard of a country excising itself from its own migration zone. The absurdity of this was rightly pilloried by opposition and media alike.

The first half of the year’s parliament was dominated by the concerted assault on the carbon price/tax (semantics depending on your political persuasion). Reams of power bills and reports favourable to the opposition agenda were flourished with the a-ha of an FM gotcha call as Abbott tried feverishly to prosecute the cause of no carbon tax, lest it create a python squeeze on the economy. The cobra was also employed metaphorically without consent. Many fauna, I presume, felt relieved not to be dragged into the method in Abbott’s madness. While many reminded Tony of his own advocating of a carbon tax, the leader of the opposition pushed on, visiting businesses dressed in hard hat, fluoro jacket, gloves, ready for the task (someone else’s) at hand. Gutting fish, welding, there was nothing our Tony wouldn’t do to press his claim for the destructive impact of the carbon price to come.

On July 1, when Whyalla was confirmed as still present, we even had the folly of ALP folk to endure (yes, I am referring to Craig Emerson’s butchered Shyhooks adaptation). Though for any ALP ‘moments’ the Coalition was happy to oblige with some and then more. Tony Abbott had himself thrown out of question time on August 20, coalition members proclaimed that a leg of lamb would cost a pineapple (the currency euphemism not the fruit), and Greg Hunt went all amnesiac about his thesis on, yes, a tax to make the polluter pay, which Peter Martin expertly dissected way back in March of 2011.

When the carbon tax came to being, the coalition stayed with the tactic of procuring any codger’s power bill to illustrate the serpentine effect previously alluded to by waving these during question time. The ALP had smartly educated the public that were prepared to listen that a 7% price increase was expected. This would be offset by income tax threshold changes and other indirect measures. This message, along with the often shrill and repetitive power bill waving during question time bore little fruit. Soon the coalition kept to the line that it was a bad tax and one that would be repealed in Tony Abbott’s own blood. Subtle promises.

When this attack petered out, and the fauna unwillingly trapped in the coalition’s strategy were placed back where they belonged, the coalition turned to the role of Julia Gillard in the incorporation of an AWU Workplace Reform Association. The entity would defraud the union, with a slush fund for re-election of union officials, and $100K being used to renovate the house of Gillard’s then boyfriend, Bruce Wilson. After much sifting, a proactive 45 minute presser held by the PM, and a persistent yet soporific attempt to pin the PM during Question Time, it appeared that while the PM may have been a sloppy lawyer at that time, she did not act unethically. Many lawyers piped up on radios saying that they had done work often for people as a favour and never opened a file. Even so, the opposition spent the entirety of the last week’s Question Time asking AWU related questions of the PM, all via Julie Bishop. The huff and puff only saw the opposition’s polls wane and the ‘there are questions to be answered’ line blowing weakly in the wind, and all without a specific allegation for the PM to address.

Just when you thought this was stumps for the year, there was more. Justice Rares threw out the sexual harassment claim by James Ashby against former speaker Peter Slipper, claiming that it was ‘an abuse of process amounting to a political attack’. Tony Abbott, doing important things in London (and improving productivity by letting factory workers alone), said unreservedly that Mal Brough has acted ‘rightly at all times’, despite not having read the Rares judgement and despite over 100 mentions of Brough in Rares’ statement. It was telling that yet again, the coalition leader had not read reports that had some direct relevance to his agenda. As Laurie Oakes observed post Abbott’s ‘shit happens’ debacle: “as a politician, he is very flat footed when he gets into trouble”. Words that Abbott has lived by since his ascension into the role of leader. Do we really want a man who admits to have not read these and other seemingly important reports yet finds time for 50 Shades of Grey as our PM?

Misogyny, or at least male stupidity reached a critical mass this year. Take your pick, from the Alan Jones ‘died of shame’ gaffe to Graham Morris’ ‘cow’ comment on Leigh Sales to Tony Abbott’s repetition of the ‘died of shame’ term in question time, Julia Gillard had clearly stomached enough. She unleashed her tirade famously, which was lauded by most, even if the significance of her delivery was somewhat overestimated. Ultimately, it was the salvo that obviously many thought was coming to the opposition leader . In the fall out, and with wall punching allegations still nipping at his heels, Abbott brought out his wife Margie to redress the balance and show the real Tony. The usual darlings of the right dismissed the PM’s speech as simply redefining misogyny, with the ever amiable Piers Akerman offering scant regard for the speech. Surprise surprise. Meanwhile, Andrew Bolt kept on being, well, Bolt. Nevertheless, the coalition had their scalp, and Peter Slipper moved to the cross benches to join the disgraced but still be convicted Craig Thomson.

At year’s end, the ridiculous pipe dream of a budget surplus was no longer. A reduced tax take forced Wayne Swann’s hand. A stupid promise to make and maintain, a budget surplus didn’t even impress the usual business constituents who saw the maintenance of jobs through avoiding a contractionary policy stance as a far more crucial issue than being preened to by a party unable to produce a surplus. Boos all round, although Tony Abbott broke his London silence on the Ashby/Slipper judgement (and threatened to walk away from ABC & SKY hacks if Ashby/Slipper were brought up) to announce he would hound the government daily on their broken promise and in the same breath declaring the ‘it’s in our DNA’ core but non-core promise of a surplus in every year of a Liberal government. 

So we head into an election year with the middle year of the cycle dominated by at best an abrasive opposition and a government with good intentions but prevailing problems with execution. Media will be a crucial ingredient in 2013, with the mainstream media providing the opposition with some appreciated wind assistance. The incremental rise of internet journalism and social media, specifically twitter, will play a larger role than anyone on either side will concede. The Liberal Party’s ban on backbenchers tweeting is telling. They risk alienating a huge part of the electorate which is not, despite the imploring of conservatives, a lefty domain. Certainly Joe Hockey wishes the ban applied retrospectively after his dunderhead swipe at the PM for daring to visit her widow mother after the surplus concession.

A Merry Christmas to all, and may 2013 be kinder to all of us. But as it is an election year, fat chance. It will be a bruiser, and no one will be spared.


Some other highlights (please feel free to add your own and develop this further as a document of the year)


Tony Windsor tells Tony Abbott some home truths

John Laws interview with Leigh Sales

Rudd/Turnbull joining forces in a new political party?

Joe Hockey channels Cartman: ‘they can go to hell!

Simon Sheikh’s collapse on Q&A and Sophie Mirabella’s grand display of empathy

Political Cartoons

Andrew Dyson illustration - Surplus, for News. The Age. 20 December, 2012. Showing Wayne swan in a life raft named


Meme of 2012

A thank you to my good friend @evanbinos for the title and for those Gods of political cartoonists.