Archive for November 2007
Just to explain that last part – Brendan Nelson has beaten Malcolm Turnbull 45 – 42, gaining the right to be the next Liberal leader to be deposed.
On to much more important things – news is just coming out of Canberra regarding the new ministerial appointments selected by PM Kevin Rudd.
According to the rolling report being updated throughout the afternoon at The Age:
He is believed to have dropped Laurie Ferguson, Kate Lundy, Jan McLucas, Kerry O’Brien, Arch Bevis and Bob McMullan, sources confirmed.
In their place, he has appointed ALP national president John Faulkner, former NSW minister Bob Debus, Kate Ellis, Justine Elliot, Warren Snowdon and Brendan O’Connor, Labor sources say.
Kerry O’Brien – the Tasmanian boofhead, not the awesome journalist – is out! This is great news as it means one less militant voice in the senior ranks screaming for the deforestation, pulping and burning of Tasmania. Good start! Apparently the environment portfolio has been split in two – probably environment and climate change – and Peter Garrett has likely remained part of that, with the latest news suggesting that the climate change portfolio will be held by Penny Wong.
Simon Crean looks set to be Trade Minister. Stephen Smith likely to take the crucial portfolio of Foreign Affairs. Maxine McKew, Greg Combet, and Bill Shorten all to pick up important postings as Parliamentary Secretaries – a significant position for newcomers, teaching them the ropes and giving them intensive experience to prepare them for the prospect of ministries down the road. Read the rest of this entry »
Silver-tongued Bob Ellis has freshly penned a perfect post mortem for the election we never need have again and for the departure of that little weasel who we’ll never have to vote out again. It starts like this:
And so it goes; and went.
And what did we learn?
Maxine, Mike Kelly, Bob Debus, Malcolm Turnbull, Tony Windsor showed good candidates help, whatever the swing. Mike Bailey, Rodney Cox, Peter Tinley showed good candidates don’t always win if the swing they need is too large. Mal Brough showed even vast talent goes down to defeat when a huge swing is on. Nicole Cornes, George Newhouse, Karen Chijoff, John Howard showed really bad, dead-cat candidates lose, whatever the swing.
And it just gets better from there – definitely worth a read, especially for anyone who feels the glow from Saturday may be fading, and for anyone unsure as to what there is to be pleased about.
On the other side of the world, Tasmania’s proudest export, novelist Richard Flanagan (of Geoffrey Cousins-influencing fame – the environmental activist millionaire, not the snorting hero) has just had a fresh piece published in the highly respected UK Guardian newspaper. Flanagan’s deft bluntness with language, his passion for forest ecosystems, and his disdain for malignant governance are a deadly team and well worth seeing in action. He translates Australian politics for the rest of the planet in the first tree-free piece he has written in some time:
At the end of his concession speech, Howard claimed to have left Australia prouder, stronger and more prosperous. But it didn’t feel that way. It felt like it had been a lost decade. It felt like the country was frightened, unsure of what it now is, unready for the great changes it must make, and ill-fitted for the robust debates it must have.
There was a strange sense that Australia, which had seemed so often to sleepwalk, mesmerised, through the past 11 years, had suddenly woken up. But where it might go and what it might do and be, no one any longer knew.
This week, the new Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, has also promised a full and substantial apology to Aboriginal Australians and particularly the Stolen Generations. He has foreshadowed a period of thorough and broad consultation with indigenous leaders and communities to ensure that the message – which he has affirmed will categorically contain the word ‘Sorry’ – be properly expressed. This is truly fantastic news and promises a radically sounder foundation for future development of Australian culture than the one that has been laid over the last 11 years.
I personally hope that from the era of ‘Sorry’ it will be a natural progression to an era of ‘Thankyou’. As much as Australia is this richly diverse melting pot, there is a core of what it is to be Australian that wouldn’t be there if this land actually had been vacant when James Cook declared it to be such. Where’d your nasal twang come from, eh?
And without meaning to harp on the negatives or be hateful to the elevated oil stain now wiped from our windscreens, Phillip Adams at The Australian has written a farewell which stands out from almost all others thanks to the unique perspective of an anecdote starring Nelson Mandela, Malcolm Fraser, and – you guessed it – John ‘Oil Stain’ Howard.
From the first Monday of December – nine days after his victory – Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will be attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali. 11 days, 198 countries, and 10,000 delegates; thanks to 3,000 journalists in attendance, the whole world actually will be watching.
Forecasting change from a third of a world away the UK’s Guardian newspaper last week ran two lengthy feature stories – one aptly titled ‘It’s the environment, John’, the other characterizing “the world’s first climate change election”.
Most Australians are keenly aware of pressured environments and impacts of climate change. Yet for many who wonder what they can do to actively help, answers such as ‘buy a Prius’ or ‘use a washing line’ have offered little real incentive. Their collective vote, however, must surely be one of the single biggest acts of grassroots environmentalism in Australian history.
Thanks perhaps to a distracted or tentative media, many Australians don’t yet realize what a dramatic climate change U-turn this country has just taken. But it puts the country on course to joining Kyoto and, more immediately, the far-from-ordinary climate conference in Bali.
It is expected that our representatives will deposit a letter with the peak body, signed by Rudd and committing to fully ratify Kyoto. Australia will be joining a global community in crisis, rather than complaining from the sidelines and, perhaps more significantly, America will be left as the sole developed nation opposed to ratification – an outright pariah at last. Read the rest of this entry »
O my lord – how good are the opinion pieces at Harpers? Scott Horton has written a great piece, “The Bush Touch: turning friends into enemies“. Here’s an excerpt tracking the increasing sway held over foreign politicians by the charismatic visionary.
One by one the leaders on the world stage who put their faith in Bush and thoughtlessly did his bidding have fallen in disgrace, usually rejected by their own voters. The first to go were Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi and Spain’s José María Aznar. Then Britain’s Tony Blair was forced to surrender 10 Downing Street to his Chancellor of the Exchequer, to give Labour a fighting chance to hold a majority in the next election. In the last week, Jarosław Kaczyński, a conservative ally in Poland fell, and over the weekend, Bush’s most faithful follower in the entire pack, the veritable boot-licker John Howard of Australia. In each case, the association with George W. Bush was electoral cyanide to voters back home.
Horton has written extensively about the politics and human rights abuses of the Iraq invasion and is one of a number of journalistic voices warning against an attack on Iran, which will be dressed up under the justification ‘preemptive’. He is a lawyer, specializing (I believe) in human rights. He may also be a Jedi.
And although it sort of raises the cartoon bar foreverl out of reach, I had to repost this one by Mr. Fish because it’s just bogglingly good on so many levels.
Stigmata and a machine gun. Swoon. Something else I just realized – since Howard officially lost his seat today, he can now be officially compared to the only other Australian Prime Minister to suffer such ignominy: Stanley Bruce in 1928. 29? Whatever.
Point is, analysts have drawn the parallel that Bruce also pushed for unpopular industrial conditions for workers, with the difference being that his economy was in a shambles, while Howard’s going out with the numbers looking healthy. But check this out – I don’t think that there has ever been an Australian Prime Minister with two first names who hasn’t ended up getting their face stomped by the Australian people.
Stanley. Bruce. John. Howard. Sacked. Bye. Think about it.
By any objective measure, the vote in most of Australia was heavily influenced by Green preferences and should be seen as a call to the Rudd Government to consider a more environmentally friendly way to deal with this issue of the pulp mill.
– Dr Warwick Raverty, 26th November, 2007
It is certain that under Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (*aahhh*) Australia will be an international citizen like never before. A veritable treasure trove of global possibilities now lie across the sea. Ironically, so shall his first major domestic challenge.
Barely had the Rudd victory been declared on Saturday than Greens Senator Bob Brown, surrounded by cheering supporters and green ‘no pulp mill’ triangles, declared the result a vote against the proposed Gunns pulp mill.
“From Bass to Bennelong to Bowman, this pulp mill has had an influence,” Senator Brown said. “And the pulp mill was the single most defining environmental issue which has made this huge swing against the government to the Greens.”
The eviction of the Coalition government was partially rejection of a government that approved the pulp mill. The difficulty is that a vote – primary or preferential – for Federal Labor was still a vote for a party that supported the pulp mill. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s official. Maxine McKew (rhymes with ‘truck shoe’ in case you’re wondering) has ousted John Howard from the North Shore seat of Bennelong, which he has held for 33 years.
He could always challenge for the Victorian seat of Higgins. Should be up for grabs as soon as Goldman Sachs makes Peter Costello an offer.