ethical advocacy
Abbott abroad
... Bull in a Chinese shop                                                  6 August 2012  Vol 7, Issue 11
In This Issue
Coalition bits and pieces
Lobbyists Corner
Burnside broadside
At last a policy debate - maybe
Systems Thinking - Shifting the Burden/Addiction
Systems Thinking - Shifting the Burden/Addiction

"Bound" Volumes


All issues of Advocacy Update have now been bookmarked and aggregated into their calendar year volumes.


You may read or download them through the links below. They provide a quirky and personal record of federal politics over this tumultouous period.


Volume 1 2006

Mr Toad  Mr Toad's  new  adventure

I recently observed that Clive Palmer reminds me of Toad of Toad Hall in the way he enthusiastically embraces new ventures and adventures with a Poop! Poop!   


Apart from being declared a National Living Treasure by the National Trust, he is an Adjunct Professor of Business at Deakin University, owns his own soccer team, several golf courses (including Coolum resort - more later), is having a full scale replica of RMS TITANIC built in china (with watertight bulkheads this time).  Oh yes, he also owns the world's largest deposits of some minerals through his company Mineralogy.


He is a major funder of the LNP and has political ambitions of his own - as yet unresolved.


According to the Sunshine Coast Daily, but denied by Palmer, he has plans to convert Coolum into a Jurassic Park by cloning some dinosaurs.


Now this is where I get interested!


Perhaps he could start with Joh and Flo. The Joh exhibit could show him feeding the chooks whilst explaining the meaning of the separation of powers. Flo of course would be cooking the pumpkin scones for the visitors.


The Russ Hinze exhibit would demontrate how to build roads (to his own front door) whilst simultaneously running the police force and gambling industries.


He could even clone some living "National" treasures. Barnaby Joyce kept in a secure cage for the safety of onlookers. Bob Katter demonstrating that there is life after the Nationals. And Campbell Newman showing what evolution can do to the Nationals' strain. 


I reckon Clive should be persuaded to go ahead with the idea, presuming of course that includes a clone of himself.


The Perils of political doorknocking!

Clive Palmer claims to have knocked on millions of doors in his life. I guess hyperbole just ain't what it used to be!


I myself knocked on many doors in my childhood as a lad in Lancashire. It was a game called "Knock on the door and run away". It entailed tying two adjacent door knobs (terraced houses) together then knocking on both doors and hiding to watch the fun as both occupants tried to open their door in vain!.


However the purpose of this item is to alert you to a very funny article in The New Statesman about

  • The naked skinhead
  • The dogman of Corby
  • The BNP man of Stoke, and
  • Dog owners (various)

Well worth a read and a cautionary tale for intending Palmer acolytes.


Scary predictions

SkyNews the other day commenting on a leaked internal ALP Poll said the Labor Party continues to bleed support,showing Labor would have no federal MPs from Queensland, the Northern Territory, Tasmania and Western Australia, if there had been an election last month.


It found Treasurer Wayne Swan, Special Minister of State Gary gray, Trade Minister Craig Emerson and Veterans Affairs Minister Warren Snowdon would also be at risk of losing their seats, and even former PM Kevin Rudd is in trouble.


Can-do LNP style

Whilst at the federal level the Coalition is talking of targeting "dole bludgers" and Pyne has taken aim at "underperforming teachers", in Queenland the Newman Government is reinventing what it's like to be in power.


So far, either in the parliamentary party or at the recent LNP conference they have:

  • Voted to scrap the AbStudy Scheme;
  • Dropped art and cultural assistance;
  • Made an art form of employing their own relatives;
  • Considered a ban on the teaching of climate science; and 
  • Sacked public servants by the thousand.

One of the newly-elected LNP Members, rookie Gold Coast LNP MP Verity Barton posted her views online. They included:

  • Sounds like you (a friend) encounter icky QR passengers often.
  • I don't even believe climate change exists.
  • Welfare for parents (single or coupled) just shouldn't exist. If you fall pregnant you've got nine months to save/budget.
  • Is Craig Emerson (Federal Minister for Trade) drinking? Or is he always just such a d---head?
  • If certain people want to reduce carbon emissions they should discourage flatulence and breathing by certain people (Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, Penny Wong).
  • Do not listen to the bogan when it says it doesn't care about politics, for it is lying to you.

Still an'all I guess we still get the Government we deserve.

Please feel free to quote from this newsletter (with attribution).


Also I invite you to forward it to colleagues and friends who may find it interesting.

Coalition foreign policy

I once wrote a letter to the editor here in Merimbula comparing Tony Abbott to a Dalmatian on beach and concluded that the only difference between "Spot" and Tony was that the dog was unable to change its spots. Abbott's recent foray into international affairs only confirmed this view of him.


Whilst in the US at the Australian American Leadership Dialogue (also attended by other politicians from both sides of politics) he fawned over Australia's relationship with the US and criticised the Australian Government for its Defence spending cuts. Cuts for which he and his Coalition had voted following the May budget!


This raises two issues. First he broke the convention that whilst overseas it is not good form to criticise your domestic opponents. Second his message on Defence cuts was inconsistent with reality.


He then took himself off to China to exercise his diplomatic skills with the world's largest nation. It wasn't Spot that debarked (the US term for leaving an aircraft but appropriate also for Spot) in Beijing. It was Taurus looking for the nearest China shop


He proceeded to lecture our largest trading partner on the dangers to Australia of Chinese investment in Australia as well as a small dose of "lift-your-game" on human rights. Thank Christ he doesn't speak Mandarin!


Whatever his qualities, Tony Abbott is not and never will be a diplomat. Someone needs to tell him that.


So the USA and China are now added to Malaysia, Indonesia and Afghanistan as countries which need to pull up their socks.


Ex Coalition MP, the bumptious would-be bull, Alexander Downer has helped things along. On Afghanistan he said recently that as we were there fighting for their country, they have a duty not to seek refugee status but owe it to their country to stay and tough it out. Not bad for a person to whom toughing it out means getting to the end of his creme brulee and asking for seconds.


Downer also gave Abbott the tip on Indonesia - we just turned them round and sometimes I even told the Indonesian Foreign Minister about it later!! To hell with the Indonesian position that they are not the source of the refugees - just a staging post. When Abbott was quizzed on his "turn back the boats" to a place which is not a signatory to the UNHCR Convention, he just said that we are sending them back to where they came from. 


But Tony, are we sending them back via the front door like Christians do?


Bloody Christians!!


Then on Malaysia, the Coalition has banked enough Malaysian anger with their insulting remarks about Malaysia's beastly treatment of refugees to last several terms of offfice. 


If Australia had just a small percentage of the refugee problem faced by Malaysia - maybe (but perhaps not) - the Coalition might have a different view.   

Scenario Planning - Case Study

scenario planning

The scenario planning process inverts the normal mode of investigation by ending with the beginning in mind! The theory is that by imagining yourself in several alternative future outcomes, it is easier to see how you ended up "here". It also allows you to mark waypoints (a reference point in physical space used for purposes of navigation) which will give you the ability to see which path you are on and to take either corrective or reinforcement action.


So, the diagram I prepared for real-time planning exercises some years ago is based on the following processes:

  • The purpose of the exercise is to answer the "Key Question" (red diamond). The Key Question should be generated by those involved in the exercise - it should be clear, unambiguous and practical.
  • Second, the Key External Stakeholders should be identified along with their interests in the Key Question you have identified. 
  • By internal discussion or by internal on-line survey,  you should investigate and describe what impact these external stakeholder factors could have on the Key Question.
  • The third "column" of the process summarises the external impact of forces on your Key Question:
    • First the micro factors identified in  the stakeholder analysis. Many of these will be open to influence along the way.
    • The yellow box represents the fixed external macro factors over which you will have no control - for example international economic factors. Whilst you may have no control, you should nevertheless identify and to the extent possible, quantify them.
    • The Blue Box is where the job becomes difficult. Identify the two greatest Key Unpredictable Driving Forces which could impact on your Key Question.
  •  So the process has led us to look internally, then at issues over which we have some control, then factors beyond our control, and finally the Great Unknowns.
This lead us to the nub of the exercise. Using the two key unpredictable driving forces we produce a 2x2 matrix within which we will summarise potential futures based on the planning process we have conducted.


Scenario outcomes

The final step in the exercise is to position yourself at each "destination" scenario. Describe what it looks like, how it feels. Look back to the starting point and analyse what events brought you to this destination. Were there any crossroads which might have led elsewhere. Having completed this, you then need to convert the scenario into an action plan to either encourage progress towards the destination or preventive action to prevent it from happening.


(If you would like to talk to me about facilitating your own scenario planning exercise, email me at 


Big stink over carbon tax

So far so good - the carbon tax is in place and the sky hasn't fallen in - phew!


A few well-meaning businesses have been caught telling porkies - falsely blaming price rises on the carbon tax. But hey in a free enterprise economy you make money as best you can eh? 


I recently saw the diagram below which compares the effect of the carbon tax alongside other taxes we already pay. Published by the Australia Institute 

- the table gives perspective to an otherwise irrational debate.

great big new tax  

Notice that the price is less than the compensation. Notice also that the tax is less than alcohol and tobacco taxes.

Abbott Deceit 

The ALP has produced an amusing little tome called

Abbott's Little Book of deceit on Carbon Pricing. Apart from being predictable it does expose some inconsistencies and contradictions in Abbott's commentary on the topic.


What seems to have escaped any real scrutiny by a lazy, headline hungry media are the Coalitions "Direct Action" plans for climate control. 


A recent article in The National Times by Lenore Taylor refers to Departmental advice which says that the Coalition's climate change policy could end up costing an extra $24 billion if ''Direct Action'' fails to achieve its assumed ambitious greenhouse emissions reductions from soil carbon and tree planting.


The Coalition says it will pay just $10.5 billion over 10 years to achieve the same emission reduction target as Labor - 5 per cent by 2020 - through a competitive grant scheme that envisages 60 per cent of Australia's task would be achieved through storing carbon in the soil. 



Bugger the silver lining - show me the cloud

Australia seems to have fallen into a trough of imagined bad luck. Despite our position at the head of lucky nations - we continue to look for the bad in everything. This is now being exacerbated by our Olympic "failure". I'm surprised that no has yet blamed the medal drought on the carbon tax!


To cheer you all up, read the recent speech by RBA Governor Glenn Stevens "The Lucky Country"


Apart from his speech, just one chart said it all for me.


Real GDP

What is it that's got into our psyches that we can't apparently see reality any more. 


Well - there's never a shortage of news to pad out the columns of this little newsletter. I hope my articles make you think - even challenge your assumptions.

As always - feedback is most welcome. 

Cheers for now
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