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[24 Jan 2015 | One Comment | 173 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 | 51 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 | 24 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 | 42 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 …

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[20 Dec 2014 | No Comment | 12 views ]

AS an alcoholic teenager living in the petit-bourgeois Melbourne suburb of East Brighton, my idea of a good Saturday night was to go on my own, armed with a flagon of claret, to the Brighton Cemetery.
There I would sit in front of Adam Lindsay Gordon’s obelisk reading his best-known verse: “Life is only froth and bubble / Two things stand like stone / Kindness in another’s trouble / Courage in your own.”
These days I find it revealing that, of all the people buried in the cemetery, I wasn’t attracted to …

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[1 Dec 2014 | One Comment | 35 views ]

Australia’s Group of Eight (Go8) universities are all in capital cities. Victoria and NSW each have two Go8 universities, while the other states and territories, except for Tasmania and the Northern Territory, each have only one. Tasmania and the NT have none.
The richest pickings for universities are in the large capital cities where most Australians live. This will be even more the case following fee deregulation. Several regional and smaller universities have sought to cash in on the big city market with mini-campuses. Central Queensland University, for example, has mini-campuses …

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[22 Nov 2014 | No Comment | 33 views ]

VICTORIANS go to the polls next Saturday to elect a new government and the bookies have Labor as odds on favourites to win. However an even shorter-priced bet is that neither the Coalition nor Labor will have control of the Victorian upper house. This may well reside with a small party and possibly a religious one.
Saturday could be one of the most crucial upper house state elections that Australia has seen for many years. This is because it comes at a time when a clutch of progressive social issues are …