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[28 Feb 2015 | No Comment | 19 views ]

IF the old saying of “follow the money” is any indication, this year will be a roller coaster for the medical marijuana movement.
Late last month, an Initial Public Offering for a company touted as “Australia’s first medical marijuana stock” was wildly oversubscribed and the issue price of 20c a share looked like a bargain as within days the stock headed towards $1.
Despite the prospectus going to considerable lengths to explain the highly speculative nature of the venture, there was little restraint. After opening at 20c, the stock soon reached 92c …

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[14 Feb 2015 | One Comment | 23 views ]

IN some ways it is not surprising that the new Opposition Leader in NSW, Luke Foley (who admits to twice having been found guilty of drink driving), has leapt on to the bandwagon by declaring “a war on ice” as one of his key policies for the state election on March 28.
Ice is indeed a nasty drug that lately has been catching the headlines, but it is important to understand that the drug causing most harm is alcohol.
This is why the trial legislation introduced in NSW in January last year …

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[31 Jan 2015 | One Comment | 39 views ]

IN the one-house 89-seat Queensland Parliament, Premier Campbell Newman’s Liberal-National Party holds 73 seats and the ALP a mere nine. This was after Labor won two by-elections to add to the abysmal seven seats it gained at the last state election in 2012.
Hence, despite considerable voter dissatisfaction with the conservative state government and with the federal Coalition, don’t be surprised if the LNP wins today’s Queensland election with more than a few seats to spare.
But even though he may have clawed back some ground, it is possible the autocratic Newman …

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[24 Jan 2015 | One Comment | 198 views ]

SHORTLY before the Victorian election in November, I predicted in this newspaper that the Australian Sex Party’s Fiona Patten would be elected to the Legislative Council. I said this would follow a fierce struggle with the religious party, Family First, in the Northern Metropolitan region.
It happened. Not only did the Sex Party win a seat in Northern Metro but it missed out on winning a second one in South East Metro by a mere 230 votes. With 50 per cent of the vote counted, Family First and the Sex Party …

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[10 Jan 2015 | No Comment | 12 views ]

THE fact is Joe Hockey’s future as federal Treasurer is intimately tied to Tony Abbott’s success as Prime Minister. This means these two seasoned political warhorses have a mutual interest in turning around the opinion polls and cementing their jobs.
Importantly, Abbott’s appointment of the up-and-coming, hardworking and intelligent MP for Kooyong, Josh Frydenberg, as the new Assistant Treasurer has afforded Hockey (and also Mathias Cormann) an opportunity to combine their complementary skills to sell the government’s economic message more effectively.
Frydenberg will also join the frontline in question time and more …

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[3 Jan 2015 | No Comment | 53 views ]

BELIEVE me: despite recent polls, unless Bill Shorten changes from being a faceless man who seems to stand for little, he will not win the next federal election. His media appearances have been uniformly bland and uninspiring, largely comprising negative words with little positive substance. However, because of Kevin Rudd’s “reforms” to the method of choosing federal Labor leaders, unless Shorten resigns it will be extremely difficult to replace him as Labor leader.
To roll Shorten would require the support of at least 60 per cent of federal caucus. This would …

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[29 Dec 2014 | 2 Comments | 28 views ]

ON January 5, a new state Labor leader will be elected in NSW. Had rank-and-file members had a vote, deputy leader Linda Burney would almost certainly have run and, in my opinion, would have walked it in.
Unfortunately the Labor caucus alone will decide the NSW leadership, because a plebiscite cannot be held within six months of a state election.
The ALP introduced a vote for members in the election of its national parliamentary leader. Burney’s mentor, the Labor Left’s national leader Anthony Albanese, trounced Bill Shorten by a margin of nearly …

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[27 Dec 2014 | No Comment | 44 views ]

AT this time of year, many Australians find themselves in trouble with the booze. But the silly season merely accentuates what is already a massive problem.
Why, then, do our governments respond so inadequately to helping people addicted to alcohol and other drugs?
Private, non-government org­anisations and government-funded treatment centres don’t have the capacity to deal with the demand for intensive alcohol and drug treatment.
This is despite the fact governments at all levels know that funding such treatment saves the community much more than it costs. Sadly, there are few votes in …

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[20 Dec 2014 | No Comment | 14 views ]

Tony Abbott has achieved plenty in his first year, thanks to some of his key ministers. Ross Fitzgerald rates them.
This year, despite his many critics, and despite the fact that the federal budget is very much a work in progress, Prime Minister Tony Abbott managed to get rid of the carbon tax, stop the boats, keep his parliamentary team relatively stable, and make considerable progress with infrastructure reform and deregulation.
This was achieved with the aid of some key ministers and of one parliamentary secretary in particular.
The strongest ministerial performer is …