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. Ron @ 49

    Some Israelis might be ‘happy’ with what is happening. But there are many Israelis, but not a majority, who do not support what is happening.

  2. Just to get the wording right, I think that the Israeli Government believes that it is not in the self-interest of Israel to kill more Gazan civilians than it has to in order to achieve its primary objective, which is to kill enough of Hamas leaders, followers and infrastructure to enable an alternative, cowed, leadership to assume control in Gaza.

    A corollary of this is that it is important not to kill more civilians than can be avoided because civilian acquiesence will be required in the long run.

    It is therefore in the interests of Hamas to over-cook the egg on the number of civilian casaualties (and to claim that the Israeli Government deliberately kills civilians) and for the Israel government ot over-cook the egg on the avoidance of civilian deaths and the introduction of humanitarian aid. It is why Israel complains that Hamas hides amongst civilians in order to increase civilian casualities. It is why Hamas does so.

    Like all violent conflicts, it is a spin meisters’ paradise.

    It may also be that the timing of trying to achieve the Israeli objective has more to do with the looming election in Israel and the looming inaugeration of Obama but it may also be tied in with the formal end of the cease fire.

  3. William

    Thank you for the interesting link.

    Hyperbole aside and per square km concentrations aside, if you bomb a high-rise apartment block, you are basically bombing a very high concentration of people.

    Message to Hamas: If you are a leader (and in particular one who has urged the resumption of suicide bombing) and you live in a high rise apartment block, Israel is willing to destroy the apartment block and all the civilians in it, to kill you.

    Message to civilians: ditto.

  4. William at number 50 wrote:

    [Whatever else might be said about the Gaza conflict, it seems to me that “world’s most densely populated area” is hyperbole.]

    They mustn’t be talking about numerical density.

  5. Ron 43

    You are absolutely right. I remember reading some (rather grim) stuff on the capabilities of the weapons back in the first Gulf War (91) when this whole “collateral damage” meme started. When you allow for the potential inaccuracy of the weapons, and the lethal range of the blast, dropping a one tonne bomb, guided or not, into an urban area pretty much guarantees innocent deaths. You could easily kill somene 500 metres away. I would wonder aloud if current Israeli practice would meet the coalitions “rules of engagement” in Iraq or Afghanistan. I doubt it.

    With the new Israeli election coming up, I presume Livni is trying to appear tough to appease the hard-line right vote in Israel?

  6. Ron – further on the GFC

    I just found another interesting source, which contains some interestign charts. Number three is most interesting/disturbing because it indicates the risk fo a “second wave” of sub-prime defaults in 2010. This is something Obama will have to deal with fast – giving mortgage holders more security so they have less reason to walk away from their homes. I still think we will have started to recover then (2010) but who knows for the US? The rest of the world may have to learn to get along without the US (economy) for a while. Maybe time to look at longer term projects here, and more trade with India and China.

    As an aside, I have found the GFC difficult to understand compared to previous recessions, precisely ebcause so much information is missing. Because the CDO/CDS regime was not regulated adequately, there has not been adequate disclosure of risk or even actual losses. So you reach a conclusion you think is rational based on official data, then find out a few months later that it is incorrect because of embarrassing facts various banks have been sitting on.

    The Madoff scam is the latest example. In an industry that runs into trillions it is not that big a drama in itself. But how could it be undiscovered for so long? It makes official US SEC figues look worthless. Multiple persons must have either colluded or failed oversight duties for it to happen. I do not believe the “it was just Madoff” story. I remember talking to a friend who worked in the ta office after Brian Maher of “Bottom of the Harbor Scheme” fame was jailed. He said that several others had also been more quietly jailed, and that it was almsot impossibel for one person to set up such frauds without the knowing help of (at least) a lawyer, a banker and an accountant

  7. RE: Queensland.

    The fact that Mackerras predicts a Labor win should give the LNP heart.

    Besides that, so few seats have changed hands since 2001 and the TPP has been relatively static. I have a feeling there is a serious swing building up due to pent up voter discontent and it may just be enough to tip the LNP over the edge.

  8. Patrick, I wonder if Mackerras picked Labor to win the last 3 Queensland elections. I’m tipping he did and so I’m tipping he’s three from three. Not a bad record that.
    Had a look at the latest Newspoll?

  9. Mackerras’s prognostications remind me of the tribe in Africa that prayed for rain every single day during a terrible drought . After two years it finally rained and they credited God for their good fortune.

  10. Ah, so Mackerras never picks the Libs. Is that your argument Patrick? Hence he must be right sometimes? Again, I’m willing to bet that is incorrect.

  11. Mackerras has correctly picked the result of every federal election since at least 1990, including 1993 which most people got wrong. At state level – yes, he probably has tipped Labor to win most or every time in the last 10 years or so. Silly him.

  12. Ron I totally agree over the situation in the middle east. As I said in the last thread, I am completely unbiased, open minded and independent.

    Israel has crossed the line. They are a DISGRACE!

  13. Mackerras indeed gets things wrong occasionally, but this idea that he always does so in favour of Labor hasn’t the slightest foundation in reality. Indeed, it seems his last celebrated failure was calling the 1987 election for the Coalition during early counting.

  14. I would contribute money to supply Palestine with the same quantity of weapons. They can both have it out once and for all, or they can have peace. In the end you will get peace.

    The way things are at present, you will NEVER have peace.

  15. Williams chart shows Gaza th 16th most denseley populated city on earth , not no 1

    So when you drop one ton bombs on th 16th most dense populated city on earth , you ar knowingly and deliberately killing numerous inocent civilians so to kill one Hamas person

    That is a war crime under th UN , its premeditated mass murder of civilian children
    BTF , what gives th invader Israel th right to assassinate Hamas leaders anyway

    In 2006 , Israel over 3 weeks repeatedey bombed th soivereign & democratic Country of Lebanon back to th stone ages killing thousands of innocent civilians over th death of 3 solders

    This is 21st Centry barbarians , invaders …with Israel ignoring every UN resolution since 1967 to withdraw Th Palestiniens problam is they ar muslims instead of Roman Catholics….and there’s no Saudi oil wells there So we just pick & chose which UN resulution we and th West take notice of , and and just where is th Worlds liberal progressive Media’s condemnation and standards …just silense , whilst bombs rain

  16. Ron who broke the cease fire?? who fired first???

    It wasn’t Israel it was Hamas…

    The Israelis should eliminate Hamas in a ground offensive and if a couple of eggs get broken along the way soo be it but having Hamas liquidated will be one mighty fine omelet.

    We shouldnt be giving any money to Hamas, Gazans or the PLO in the West Bank…how about giving it to the Solomon Islands or East Timor???

  17. “Ron who broke the cease fire?? who fired first??? ”

    You don’t “get it”

    Israel ar invaders , they ar occupying non Israeli land since 1967 according to 99% of th UN and by UN resoluton

    Now tell me th UN and 99% of countrys on this earth ar wrong

  18. Glen,

    Who broke the cease fire? Who fired first?

    How do you know it wasn’t Israel. Don’t put your money on it, you could get surprised!

    Solution: Confiscate Israel’s weapons or supply the Palestinians with the same amount.

  19. Ron what do you say if we bought the two homes around Glen’s house, and then we started shrinking his boundaries. If he complains we will belt him over the head and the cops won’t do anything because they are on our side.

  20. Centre if i’d had the chance to make a fair deal with you beforehand and i rejected it out of hand then yes it would be my tough luck.

    Ron the Palestinians could have had a State in 1948…they just got greedy!

  21. Glen “Ron the Palestinians could have had a State in 1948…they just got greedy!”

    Now now glen…you ar back pedalling ..back to 48 …and down hill which is worse

    EVERY Libweral Leader from Gorton on agrees with me…Israel ar occupying non Israeli land since 1967 and should withdraw Now you ar not going to disagree with Gorton , Mccmahon , Sneeden , Fraser , Peacock and Howard ar you

    now when you hav an invader , you resist….th invader can NOT (as Israel) demands require th resistance to stop firing bullets at th invader before th invader is prepared to withdraw !!….and in meantime invader justs bombs kids

  22. Glen

    AFAIK who broke the ceasefire is beside the point. My understanding is that international law says that any military response is supposed to be proportionate. Israel’s military response is clearly disproportionate to the rockets fired and therefore breaches international law. Here is a Q&A at the BBC on this topic which was posted in 2006 and is sadly still relevant:

    If you don’t care about international law or proportionate responses and support Israel here then to be unbiased you would have to support Russia in Georgia too. Is that your position Glen?

    Israel gets away with this not because their position is legitimate, but because Jewish voters in the US loby to have any punitive measures vetoed in the UN.

  23. [The Israelis should eliminate Hamas in a ground offensive and if a couple of eggs get broken along the way soo be it ….]
    That statement reminds me of a radio commentator who described the innocent victims killed in Iraq as ‘collateral damage’. What a bloody disgrace.

  24. Quite apart from the illegality and unethical nature of any such invasion of Gaza by Israel, does anyone really think it will stop attacks from terrorists on Israel in future? Just as the invasion of Lebanon spawned a generation fo suicide bombers, this one will do the same. Haven’t we learnt anything after Iraq?

    Is Glen the new Rumsfeld?

  25. I take it Glen it wouldn’t bother you if your better half, children, parents or friends were one or more of those “eggs” in the making of that “omelot”?

  26. Gary Bruce…

    Gazans would be better off under the PLO than Hamas…the PLO at least talk peace Hamas would never accept peace because they draw their strength from constantly being in conflict with israel…

    Not if you were killing targets of value Gary no…war is terrible but if you are going to fight you must fight to win…

    Hamas could have stayed with the cease fire…they broke it and now must suffer the consequences and rightfully so…

    If Israel is smart they’ll push Hamas into the sea and eliminate them once and for all and install the PLO in Gaza again…

    Gaza is not Lebanon i dont think the Israelis could lose a fight there.

  27. Bob, anyone has to be a “better half” to Glen. Some of his recent views on the homeless and this recent statement have really put a large hole in the respect I once had for him. Anyone who has these attitudes has the moral fibre of a gnat IMHO.

  28. Gary im glad you view a conservative with such glowing reverence…

    I dont like war but there wont be peace in Palestine if Hamas is running Gaza and so destroying Hamas is a necessary evil…

    Your guilty conscience may force you to vote left, but deep down inside you secretly long for a cold-hearted conservative to lower taxes, brutalize criminals, and rule you like a king….jj!

  29. This is what dosen’t make sense. Why would you pick a fight that you can’t possibly win? Why would you pick a fight where you can be destroyed?

    I would bet that Israel either directly or indirectly started it. They have MORE to gain by doing so.

  30. Glen, you can argue the rights and wrongs of the Middle East all you like. That is not my beef. I’m more interested in a mindset that can brush off innocent people dying with terms like “eggs” or ‘collateral damage’. That’s the real worry. No wonder we have bloody wars.

  31. The sad thing about war is that there always is collateral damage…but you cannot change this…keeping Hamas in power would consign more people to their deaths and if you must know Israel did warn several Palestinians that their houses would be targets but they took the decision to die or put more civilians in them for more casualties…

  32. [Your guilty conscience may force you to vote left, but deep down inside you secretly long for a cold-hearted conservative to lower taxes, brutalize criminals, and rule you like a king….jj!]
    My conscience is clear Glen. I just hope you can sleep at night.
    Conservatives want to lower taxes all right, for the rich, but don’t want to help people in need. They want to brutalize all right but not necessarily those that are criminals and they want to rule over people all right – it’s called the born to rule syndrome. Glen, that sentence sums up everything I detest about the conservative view of the world.

  33. Glen “Hamas could have stayed with the cease fire”

    So if we Aussies were invaded and th invader Indonesia was still here after 42 years , we aussies also should agree to a ceasefire with Indonesa…rather than resisting and trying to force them out

    Then we they drop one ton bombs on our Leders Rudd & Turnbulls homes killing not just Rudd and Trunbull..but also there wives and kids …just continue with that wondeful ceasefire legitimising th invaders presense , rather than resisting

    Israel illegaly occupys per th UN charter and has broken numerous anti Geneva and UN war crime conventions It does so ONLY because most powerful country on earth military and econamicly suports them and vetoes any UN sanctons , due to th NRA politcal power equivalent …th US j.wish lobby

    So israel not only has invaded and occupied , and amnnexed land and made illegal settlements , it then bombs th wives and kids of th resisters !!!….breeding M/E hatred of USA as well as of Israel ….sooner or later one of these rogue States will get WMD’s…then use them…and people will wonder why

    But Israel does not care because reality is this is an Israeli “religous land acquisiton war”….to annex Arab east Juralesm as they’re doing with suburbs being built…AND building illegal settlements on non israeli land That is NOT an invader who is leaving , he is intending staying to permanently occupy I’m not sure th naive USA understand that or that there policy breeds of continud M/E hatred

    Glen , when you ar invaded , you resist , and you never stop resisting until invader leaves IF people want peace , then that is th simple answer, but Israel’s Agenda is to stay proved by there settlements And defending collateral damage from dropping bombs by an invader on dense civilian cties as OK is never ok in my book Just wish Western Media had courage to say so

  34. Joe Biden said that Obama will be tested. It came sooner than expected. But it did not come from Iran, it did not come from Al-Kay-Da, it did not come from the Evil Empire, it came from a friendly fire. Oh well, someone did say that life was not meant to be easy.

    [Israel’s Gigantic Blunder……. As a matter of fact, the cease-fire did not collapse, because there was no real cease-fire to start with. …….It would be more accurate to call it “the Election War.”…….. Barak and Tzipi Livni are now resorting to the same old trick. According to the polls, Barak’s predicted election result rose within 48 hours by five Knesset seats. About 80 dead Palestinians for each seat. But it is difficult to walk on a pile of dead bodies. The success may evaporate in a minute if the war comes to be considered by the Israeli public as a failure. For example, if the rockets continue to hit Beersheba, or if the ground attack leads to heavy Israeli casualties.

    The timing was chosen meticulously from another angle too. The attack started two days after Christmas, when American and European leaders are on holiday until after New Year. The calculation: even if somebody wanted to try and stop the war, no one would give up his holiday. That ensured several days free from outside pressures.

    Another reason for the timing: these are George Bush’s last days in the White House. This blood-soaked moron could be expected to support the war enthusiastically, as indeed he did. Barack Obama has not yet entered office and had a ready made pretext for keeping silent: “there is only one President”. The silence does not bode well for the term of president Obama.]


    btw: can we not start the new year with another round Amigo Ronnie bashing

  35. Okay kids, we’ve all said our piece on Gaza now. For future reference, I’m not saying the subject is banned across the board, but such is its divisiveness that I do require discussions to be intelligent and constructive (i.e. nothing at all like this one).

  36. 93 Glen – fair enough Glen. I have not watched one episode of The Simpson’s. However many a true word said in jest. The fact that I didn’t pick it as a joke says a lot of how far down the murky track conservatives around the world have travelled, don’t you think?

  37. Ron the simple matter of the fact is that Palestine would have been in its 61st year of nationhood had they accepted the 1948 partition…they didnt accept and so look at what they are left with now?

    Gaza would have been connected to the West Banks and the Palestinians would have had 43% of the land and Israel 56%…it was a deal they should have accepted but failed to do because of pride fools pride IMHO.

  38. “The sad thing about war is that there always is collateral damage…but you cannot change this…”

    That’s like saying, the sad thing about shooting someone is that they usually die… but you cannot change this…

    Huh? How about, don’t shoot them!

    And i’m with William on this. Go to whirlpool or somewhere else to discuss Gaza. This site is for Australian politics.

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