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Articles in the Columns Category

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[3 Dec 2016 | One Comment | 19 views ]

Recent opinion polls on intended voting patterns relative to federal politics in Australia have been at once fascinating and deeply uncertain.
It is clear that a significant percentage of former Liberal/National voters have departed to support Pauline Hanson’s One Nation. Such a move was entirely predictable. Many Australian voters hold deeply conservative views. There were sufficient of them at the Federal election before last to give Tony Abbott victory with a large majority.
Yet within the first term of that government Abbott was deposed, not by voters but by members of his …

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[24 Nov 2016 | One Comment | 33 views ]

How many punters missed the bravura performance of former NSW State National Party parliamentary deputy leader Adrian Piccoli on Thursday November 16? Television news services and the front page of ‘The Sydney Morning Herald’ displayed Piccoli on the floor of the House lambasting the state’s Labor opposition regarding their preferencing the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party at the recent by-election for the seat of Orange.
As a result of a record 34 per cent swing against it, the National Party have lost this hitherto blue-ribbon seat to the Shooters, Fishers and …

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[16 Nov 2016 | One Comment | 20 views ]

It got less attention but something else significant happened on election night in America. As Donald Trump was being made President-elect, citizens in four states – California, Massachusetts, Nevada and Maine – voted to tax and regulate recreational cannabis. As well, voters in Florida, North Dakota and Arkansas approved medical marijuana initiatives, while voters in Montana rolled back restrictions on an existing medical marijuana law.
This means that eight American states out of 50 have now voted to regulate cannabis and 28 states out of 50 have now either voted for …

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[5 Nov 2016 | One Comment | 32 views ]

There are five reasons why Malcolm Turnbull should restore Tony Abbott to federal cabinet.
First and foremost, he’d do a very good job in a government that’s seriously short of ministerial star power. Under John Howard, Abbott was the employment minister who made the Job Network a success and Work for the Dole a reality. He was the workplace relations minister who established the Cole Royal Commission as a prelude to the ABCC. He was the health minister who ended the medical indemnity crisis, restored bulk-billing, doubled medical research funding, …

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[28 Oct 2016 | One Comment | 21 views ]

Last month, the entire state of South Australia was blacked out for 24 hours because wind turbines shut down and the interconnector to Victoria’s electricity grid broke down. People were stuck in lifts, traffic lights stopped working, and businesses closed because renewable energy is inherently unreliable and back-up systems couldn’t cope. Unfortunately, much more expensive and much less reliable power is Australia’s future under the Labor Party’s renewable energy policy at state and federal levels.
Given the current state of technology, Labor’s commitment to a national 50 per cent renewable energy …

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[15 Oct 2016 | 2 Comments | 37 views ]

In good times and in bad, the federal government’s duty is clear: to keep our country safe and to maximise Australians’ ability to get ahead. This is never easy and could get even harder under an America led by Donald Trump or more likely by a second president Clinton, especially economically.
So, with China inexorably moving to dominate our region; with the Islamist contagion checked on the battlefields of the Middle East but not in the hearts of tens of millions of Muslims; with Russia dangerously destabilising Eastern Europe; and with …

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[2 Oct 2016 | 3 Comments | 85 views ]

A former Liberal premier of NSW used to tell confidants that his state was basically Labor and the only way for the Liberals to win was to have Labor values but Liberal competence. I doubt that Prime Minister Turnbull has thought that deeply about this but the only way he will win the next election is if his NSW ex-colleague’s dictum applies to the whole country.
The Turnbull government is said to have had its best fortnight yet but its three cited achievements: a superannuation compromise, some modest savings measures and …

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[22 Sep 2016 | 2 Comments | 52 views ]

Ever since having seen my late mother suffer so much when all she wanted was to slip away peacefully, I have been a strong public advocate, for others and for myself, of Dying with Dignity.
After a long struggle in the 1990s with a series of hospital physicians, my mother, Edna Fitzgerald (nee Beecher) of 41 Charles Street, East Brighton, in suburban Melbourne, eventually died in her mid-80s.
A few years before her death, due to a combination of glaucoma and cataracts, my mother went blind. She was then hospitalised in Melbourne …

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[15 Sep 2016 | 2 Comments | 50 views ]

The best Malcolm Turnbull could say of his first anniversary as prime minister was “so far so good”. It’s hardly a ringing endorsement. So far, his only real achievement is not quite losing the election to Bill Shorten. And this week, for the first time, the Labor leader’s net Newspoll unpopularity was better than the Prime Minister’s.
Along the Parliament House corridors, Labor MPs are now displaying in their office windows caricatures of a glum Malcolm Turnbull with the caption “fizza”. As a gay-marriage, climate change and republic-supporting man of …

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[3 Sep 2016 | 2 Comments | 199 views ]

When Robert Menzies lost power in 1941 after having headed an ineffective federal government for just two years, no one gave him a chance of again being prime minister. Yet in 1949 Menzies was not only re-elected, but remained in power for 18 years – a record term.
Bearing this in mind, what are the odds of a comeback by Tony Abbott?
If Liberal MPs weren’t loyal to a leader who won eight seats from Labor at his first election and a further 17 seats at his second, they’re quite capable of …

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[24 Aug 2016 | One Comment | 67 views ]

Malcolm Turnbull’s friends and supporters thought that once he was prime minister in his own right, all would be well. The dithering and the waffling would stop and he’d be the leader everyone hoped for when he seized the prime ministership from Tony Abbott.
Maybe the narrowest of wins has shattered Turnbull’s self-confidence. One Liberal campaign insider is now describing him to confidants as a “broken man”. Effective leaders learn from setbacks; they’re not overwhelmed by them. But, on the evidence so far, our country is in for three years …