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[21 Jul 2014 | No Comment | 9 views ]

Campbell Newman’s iron grip on Queensland government is now looking decidedly limp-wristed following the disastrous Stafford byelection result.
The Premier’s Liberal National Party suffered an 18.6 per cent swing in the Brisbane bayside electorate, Labor’s victory giving it a ninth MP in the Queensland Parliament.
Historian Ross Fitzgerald predicted Mr Newman would definitely lose his own seat of Ashgrove at the Queensland election, expected within 11 months.
”‘When they say the swing is on in Queensland, it goes bananas. And historically, it is most certainly is on,’’ Professor Fitzgerald said.
‘‘The Premier won the …

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[19 Jul 2014 | One Comment | 35 views ]

AS many Australians, including federal Attorney-General George Brandis, are now fully starting to realise, protecting free speech and freedom of expression is an uphill struggle that needs to be fought over and over again.
These days in this country, as in much of the West, fewer and fewer people actually believe in freedom of speech. They may believe in freedom of speech for themselves, but they tend not to believe in freedom of speech and expression of opinion that contravenes their own deeply held beliefs, be they religious, political, racial or …

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[5 Jul 2014 | 2 Comments | 23 views ]

THE democratic process in Australia is driven by two competing, often conflicting, imperatives. Governments are often faced with critical decisions for the long-term good that are potentially unpopular in the short term.
For politicians it would seem there is little point in making decisions for the long-term national good if it results in an election loss, with an incoming government reversing any gains. In recent history two federal governments have managed the competing demands of the short-term electoral cycle and the longer-term national interest.
The Hawke-Keating government floated the Australian dollar to …

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[21 Jun 2014 | No Comment | 14 views ]

THIS afternoon, in a do-or-die struggle at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground, my beloved Collingwood battles against the injury-wracked Hawthorn — who last year won the AFL grand final.
The task of the Hawks today will be made more difficult by the prolonged absence of their senior coach, Alastair Clarkson, who is suffering from a rare auto-immune condition, called Guillain-Barre syndrome.
From as long as I can remember I was taught that Aussie Rules was of the utmost importance to our family life and to life in general.
Indeed, although I couldn’t have …

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[9 Jun 2014 | No Comment | 68 views ]

PROBABLY Australia’s most celebrated teetotaller will toast his Order of Australia in the same style he has his long list of other achievements in the past 44 years.
“I’ll be going to an AA meeting at 8pm, to give thanks from whence it all has come,” academic and author Ross Fitzgerald laughs as he tells ‘The Australian’.
“Had I not stopped drinking and using all other drugs from Australia Day 1970, I wouldn’t have been around to do the work that the award’s about.
“I stopped at 24, if I hadn’t, I probably …

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[7 Jun 2014 | One Comment | 23 views ]

WITH a new federal upper house due to convene on July 1, minor parties will be in the spotlight. Five minor parties, plus Nick Xenophon, will be represented in the new Senate and will hold the balance of power between them. The voting blocks that form out of these parties will not only determine the fate of Tony Abbott’s first budget but they could give us an insight into just how far the Senate may change in future years.
The days of the Senate being a house of review where senators …

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[24 May 2014 | No Comment | 55 views ]

SOON Queensland will again dominate our political agenda. In the next nine months, Queenslanders will go to the polls in an election that will be a referendum on the performance of Premier Campbell Newman’s first term in office.
Although no one seriously ­expects the Liberal National Party to lose, political interest will focus on just how many seats, out of its record majority, that the Queensland government will retain.
Newman has the advantage of presiding over a traditionally conservative state, but he would do well to study Queensland’s history as he ponders …

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[10 May 2014 | No Comment | 15 views ]

AUSTRALIA’S political orthodoxy may be heading for a shake-up, with rising volatility in the electorate combining with a slowing economy to create difficulties for the major political parties.
The declining dominance of our so-called two-party system has been predicted many times, most notably when new parties rise to prominence.
The Australian Democrats, founded by ex-Liberal Don Chipp, once appeared likely to remain a long-term force, based on its platform of “keeping the bastards honest”.
Pauline Hanson also exploited cynicism about the major parties when she founded One Nation, which for a short time …

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[26 Apr 2014 | One Comment | 78 views ]

Rather than being pilloried, federal Attorney-General George Brandis deserves praise for attempting to protect and enhance free speech and freedom of public discussion, including the expression of unpopular and un­palatable ideas.
Releasing his draft proposals, Brandis said that the current section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act had the effect of stifling public discussion: “Those three words — offend, insult, humiliate — describe what has sometimes been called hurt feelings.”
Brandis is surely right in arguing that it is not the role of government to ban speech merely because it might hurt …