Happy new year: day two

Light holiday reading:

• “Carlton’s lone classical liberal”, Andrew Norton, weighs in on Liberal hyperbole over third party political campaigns. New Mayo MP Jamie Briggs reckons these to be a “cancer in our democracy” due to the efforts of GetUp! and the ACTU at the last election. Briggs argues that “Australians are entitled to know who is behind the campaigns, how much is being spent and where the money is coming from”, evidently having failed to notice that such groups are indeed required to provide annual disclosure of receipts, expenditure and debts. However, in an interesting discussion at Larvatus Prodeo, Norton also argues that lowering the donation disclosure threshold from $10,000 to $1000 (as proposed by a bill currently before a Senate committee due to report on June 30) could theoretically catch independent political blogs in a “massive compliance net” thanks to a loose definition of “persons or organisations expressing views by any means on candidates or election issues”. Elsewhere, The Australian’s Janet Albrechtsen tugs at the heart strings by complaining the disclosure amendments are designed to cut donations to the Liberal Party (from which you can readily infer why the Howard government used its Senate majority to jack the threshold up from $1500 to $10,000 in the first place). More substantially, she argues that “the nature of third-party campaigns in Australia is such that if we ban or cap donations (except by individuals) and allow third-party campaigns by unions to continue unabated, the political field is skewed against one side: the conservatives” – particularly in light of government plans to scrap tax deductibility of party donations while maintaining it for union dues and levies.

• “Dotcom millionaire” Evan Thornley has made himself popular in Labor circles by pulling the plug on his political career on the eve of his anticipated promotion to the Victorian state cabinet. The talk around Thornley was that he viewed his state political career as a stepping stone to federal politics via Simon Crean’s seat of Hotham, beyond which his ambitions were apparently without limit. His entirely unheralded decision to “pursue opportunities outside of political life” has inevitably fuelled all manner of speculation, most of it involving his financial wellbeing. It has also created a vacancy for his upper house seat for the Southern Metropolitan region. The Age reports that the new upper house system instituted at the last election “has created an anomaly for Labor, as party rules do not specify how preselection for an upper house vacancy should be conducted”:

Party sources said the anomoly was expected to be tackled by rule makers in May 2009 before preselections began in earnest for the 2010 election. But Mr Thornley’s shock departure – which sources from both major factions of Victorian Labor described as the most bizarre incident they had ever witnessed in politics – could force the anomaly to be dealt with sooner. While some within Labor believe the rules offer no guidance over preselection, others say the spirit of preselection processes in the lower house should also be adopted for the upper house. Under that scenario, Mr Thornley’s replacement in the Southern Metropolitan electorate would be decided 50:50 by a ballot of ALP branch members and a central selection panel. Many expect Labor’s national executive to ultimately choose his replacement but all agreed it was too early to speculate on the names of likely candidates.

A commenter at Andrew Landeryou’s VexNews writes:

The Left were promised Thornley’s spot but they agreed not to insist as Thornley was then non aligned. Thornley then joined Labor Unity. They left will claim they are entitled to fill Thornley’s vacancy. Labor Unity will most likely want it and there will be an internal facional brawl like Kororoit. Then Mr Dearricott’s non-aligned group will claim their right to the vacancy. A strong tip tonight is that (former Brimbank mayor) Natalie Suleyman is a favourite for the position.

Another hopeful is said to be Dick Gross, former Municipal Association of Victoria president and Port Phillip councillor defeated in recent elections in a “resident revolt over his support for the St Kilda triangle development”. There is also the question of the political future of Theo Theophanous, charged on Christmas Eve with rape. An end to Theophanous’s political career would create another upper house vacancy in Northern Metropolitan. In lieu of Evan Thornley, Theophanous’s position as Industry and Trade Minister has been filled by Martin Pakula, previously best known for his failed preselection bid against Simon Crean in Hotham ahead of the last federal election.

Michelle Grattan of The Age reports that the Victorian Liberals are “set to reluctantly give the Nationals the number two spot on a joint Senate ticket for the 2010 election”. This would continue an agreement initiated after the 1987 double dissolution election giving the Nationals the unwinnable fourth and safe second seats at alternating elections. The party’s seat in the Senate has been held since 1993 by Julian McGauran, who quit the party for the Liberals in January 2006. One possible explanation for the move was that he did not expect the Liberals would continue with the existing joint ticket arrangement, which as Grattan explains is widely opposed within the party. It had long been thought that the Nationals had been able to negotiate the joint ticket partly because the McGauran family helped delivered it preferences from the Democratic Labor Party, whom they had assisted in legal action to prevent its deregistration. The Nationals’ apparent success in keeping the arrangement going might suggest otherwise. However, another possibility is that McGauran thought his prospects of winning Liberal preselection less unlikely than those of keeping his place with the Nationals. McGauran had an uncomfortably narrow preselection win ahead of the 2004 election over Darren Chester, now the member for Gippsland, and his family’s clout might have been further weakened since by brother Peter’s departure from politics.

• Labor’s Mark Dreyfus, chairman of the House of Representatives Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, says he hopes the government will “soon” announce a non-binding plebiscite to test opinion on a republic before the federal election.

Robert Taylor of The West Australian has an interesting overview of the new entrants to the WA state parliament.

UPDATE (3/1/09): Malcolm Mackerras reviews the Queensland state redistribution and offers his prediction for the election to be held some time this year, namely an 11 seat Labor majority from an even split on two-party preferred.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

619 comments on “Happy new year: day two”

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  1. So Johnny’s in Washington! Can finally Johnny afford to take ‘the Jeanette’ to a decent frock shop!!!!! I have SO MANY Transsexual friends who KNOW HOW TO DRESS!!!! Thank God the Howards are not meeting the Obamas because MICHELLE KNOWS How TO Dress!!!!!!

  2. [I also have a life]

    Harry baby, yes, we are amigos are simply dead men and woman walking.

    [I have a job which requires my attention]

    and i? just try to build a global business

  3. While I’ve got a minute, way back on another thread, Gary Bruce asked why I thought the ETS was going to skew the economy. If you’re around or drop in, Gary, it’s giving money to industries such as coal and aluminium, from the tax payer, that I think is the problem. I mean you’ve got to ask yourself, the gov’t gets Henry to review the tax system and how to reform it, at the same time the proposed ETS is going to embark on a vast churn from tax payers to the big emitters?

  4. Well, Finns. Good on you with the global business. Hope you succeed. My stuff is a bit more local, the sad, the mad and the bad.

  5. Finns
    Satyam will I believe open a can of worms regarding IT outsourcing and software spend by both Corp. and Gvt. entities, realistically this is the tip of the iceberg.


    I wonder if the howard”s will get to meet the Obama’s, 🙁

  6. From today’s Crikey, (I am not sure if it is accurate):

    ‘Malcolm Turnbull’s office is not a happy place to work. There have been many recent staff movements out of the office. More are coming. Turnbull is a serial offender — he regularly implodes and abuses people.’

    *grins* A RuddBull Convergence?

  7. HSO

    [the sad, the mad and the bad]

    Are you sure you don’t work on a Burns Unit? Those are the three categories we place our patients into. The ones who don’t fit into one before their burn always fit into one after. 🙁

  8. The Howards may meet the Obamas if Barak turns up at Blair House unannounced on the morning of the medal ceremony. (Having drained a bottle of Southern Comfort and plucked a billiard cue off the wall at the Hay-Adams. Michelle will be on his shoulder holding a lame duck.)

  9. Gus, this Satyam stuff is going to be huge.

    The CFO is reported to have tried to commit suicide.

    [HYDERABAD: Srinivas Vadlamani, the chief financial officer of Satyam, who is also allegedly involved in the IT company’s financial fraud, attempted suicide early this morning, say market sources. He is, however, safe, sources add. ]


    Actually, there is another FRAUD that Raju was trying to commit which has not been widely reported. There was deal that he was trying to get Satyam to buy two companies that his sons owned. The purchase price was almost identical to the amount that he has fudged. The deal was rejected by Satyam shareholders and the Board.

    Because the price was inflated and the appearance of nepotism. What they are saying now is that the deal was a way for Raju to hide the non existent cash in the bank. So if the sales has gone through, there will be no actual money pass from Satyam to his son companies, as it will be in the family and no one will know. But it will allow Raju to claim that the “cash” has been used to buy his son companies.

  10. Finns
    perhaps we should call The GFC the Global Fraud Case(s)

    also i feel it will be how history judges Howard/Bush/Blair- FRAUDS

  11. Boerwar 610, Oh those poor sensitive Liberal staffers!!!!! I have been abused most of my 52 years!!!!! They need to harden up for what ever those conservatives Do?????

  12. [Boerwar 610, Oh those poor sensitive Liberal staffers!!!!! I have been abused most of my 52 years!!!!! They need to harden up for what ever those conservatives Do?????]

    There also stories from “Disgruntled Labor Staffers” which also get trotted out saying the same thing. If Staffers of ALL Political Parties can’t hack the argy-bargy of working for a pollie, then really they should be looking for a job somewhere else.

  13. Gus, from Crikey, subs required. I was right, Satyam does have over 1000 employees in OZ.

    [The murky “truth” behind Satyam – The implications of the Satyam accounting fraud scandal have not been fully appreciated.

    Already clients and advisors around the world are distancing themselves from the firm, which received an incredible letter from chairman Ramalinga Raju, admitting to overstating the company’s cash position and systematically fiddling with other accounts over a period of several years. Satyam’s corporate advisors Merrill Lynch terminated its relationship on Wednesday, saying that it had found material accounting irregularities with its contract.

    Satyam’s clients include NAB, Telstra and Qantas. Westpac, Optus, Suncorp, Coles, Medibank Private and Seek.com also do work with the Hyderabad-headquartered firm. In Australia, Satyam was readying to build a $75 million IT centre with Geelong’s Deakin University. The software development and training centre, which was expected to create 1,400 jobs for the Victorian city, may now be in jeopardy. Satyam currently employs 1,700 people in Australia out of a global workforce of 53,000. Its local spokesman was unable to provide details of other local clients or projects.

    NAB is perhaps more at risk than most, having outsourced positions to India after working with Satyam for several years. Satyam was selected by NAB from a competitive pool of contractors, but the offshoring was a controversial decision at the time and one that IT staff inside the Melbourne-based bank described as “very risky.”

    Satyam nevertheless won the contract. Satyam was recently banned from dealing with the World Bank due to allegations of bribery and improper invoicing. ]

  14. [I mean you’ve got to ask yourself, the gov’t gets Henry to review the tax system and how to reform it, at the same time the proposed ETS is going to embark on a vast churn from tax payers to the big emitters?]
    Thanks HSO. I’m still not sure why those two actions are contradictory, if that’s your point, or how that skews the system. A review may mean a different way of taxing or taxing different people to a greater or lesser extent, not necessarily an overall reduction in the tax take. The review maybe taking the ETS into account.
    Although in its purest form the ETS should give nothing to anyone, I’m not so sure giving no compensation is the way to go politically. Nor am I sure of the effects it would have on the economy. I suspect not positive.

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