ethical advocacy
Deja Vu
 
... all over again                                       26 July 2013 Vol8 Issue1
In This Issue
Parliamentary Expenses
Press Gallery
Stop the Oats
Stop the Gonski?
A call to arms
Mr Abbott's "Plan"
ALP Leadership changes
A change in the weather?
Coalition Direct Action Plan
Operation Sovereign Borders

"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

Parliamentary Expenses

Former Liberal MHR and Speaker Peter Slipper has been hounded for over a year about an allegation that he fraudently misused Parliamentary expnses totalling $900 in visiting some wineries around Canberra.

 

More recently it was revealed that Mr Abbott had been required to repay over $9,000 to the Commonwealth for travel and accommodation claims made in the promotion of his book "Battlelines".

 

It has also been alleged that Mr Abbott claims expenses for the time he spends each year on his "Pollie Pedal" and other sporting events.

 

In Mr Abbott's case the "error" in claiming was resolved by repayment of the amount claimed. In Mr Slipper's case a $900 "error" has resulted in many thousands of dollars in legal costs.

 

Let's not forget that travel expenses are funded by Australian taxpayers.

 

In 1996 former Senator Nick Minchin was forced to repay $3,150 in travel allowances after admitting he breached a parliamentary convention during the election campaign. 

 

This procedure became known as the "Minchin Protocol" and was applied to Abbott's reimbursement. 

 

Slipper was denied this option because in his case the matter had been referred to the AFP by an individual whose identity so far remains hidden.

Press Gallery

For years the Canberra Press Gallery acted as a secret society, refusing to open themselves to public scrutiny; refusing even to acknowledge who its members were. In PR-land possession of the Press Gallery list was valuable currency.

 

Now, thanks to the persistent efforts of ex-Gallery journalist Margo Kingston, the fortress has been breached a a list of its members made public. It even has its own website from where the list can be   accessed at http://pressgallery.net.au/?page_id=10
Stop the Oats

In an amusing item on the official Liberal Party website Shadow Minister Sussan Ley makes the corny claim that "
Labor is a cereal offender on childcare rebate freeze". After several days it is still there - http://bit.ly/16fNBcl 


Stop the Gonski?

In an article in today's SMH Education Editor Josephine Tovey writes that Abbott may delay dumping of school funding reforms.

Tovey says that 
in a letter to principals sent on July 22, Mr Abbott and his education spokesman, Christopher Pyne, concede they may not be able to overturn the legislation as hoped.

 

''lf Labor and the Greens use the Parliament to stop our plan to delay the new model, the Coalition will allow it to operate for one year (until 2015) while we work out how to get the model right,'' they wrote.


''That will give all schools the chance to see the first-hand effect of Labor's plan for themselves and what it means to you.''

 

The full article is available at 

A call to arms

After an 8 month hibernation I have been coaxed out of my cave only to be shocked by the level of public debate over some very sensitive issues. It seems that distortion of the truth, bellicose language and lies have become the order of the day. Each time this happens we are diminished as a Nation.

 

It's not only politicians of all varieties who engage in reckless debate; Twitter seems to have become home to trolls, weirdos, journos and other Twitterocracy who feel the need to engage in completely distorted commentary on political issues. Many of the worst are cowards who hide behind the anonymity of a fake Twitter name and spew out their bile in industrial quantities.

 

Whether this behaviour is a consequence or cause of political rhetoric is beside the point. Manners, etiquette and other forms of civilised behaviour have been swept out and are now things of the past. 

Mr Abbott's "Plan"
Mr Abbott claims in his ubiquitous glossy brochure that his Plan offers "Real solutions for all Australians" under the banner of "Hope, Reward, Opportunity". It seems to me that his promises amount to:
  • restoring FBT privileges to the select few who have company or fleet vehicles, removing any requirement for them to justify the car's use for business purposes - funded by normal tax-paying mugs who pay full prices for their vehicles.
  • at the same time committing to remove subsidies to a floundering motor vehicle manufacturing industry.
  • a completely Swiss cheese plan to pay maternity leave at the mother's actual salary - up to $75000 for 6 months - or bugger all if you are a stay at home mother. This will be funded by a "great big tax" increase of 1.5% on the Company Tax.
  • removal of the Carbon price on our biggest polluters with consequential damage to the environment.
  • removal of the Mining Tax giving open slather to multi national offshore mining companies to reap super profits.
  • demolition of the school funding increases - already in place in some states and territories - saying that the current system is good enough.
  • undermining of Labor's attempts to resolve the asylum seeker problem by continually broadcasting that Australia has opened its borders - the worst thing for the coalition will be if the number of boats fall.
  • threatening Indonesia with gun-boat diplomacy by acting unilaterally to turn boats around on the high seas in contravention of the International Law of the Sea.
It is distressing to see avowed Christians such as Messrs Abbott, Morrison, Hockey and others demonstrating their lack of compassion and lying to a pliant media.
ALP Leadership changes

Mr Rudd took the following changes to Party procedures to a special meeting of Caucus held in Balmain a few days ago. Caucus adopted all proposals with the exception of reducing the requirement for calling a petition from 75 to 60% of Caucus Members.

 
 
1. Federal parliamentary leader to be elected jointly by Labor members across the nation (50%) and votes by Federal caucus members (50%).

2. Elections will occur under the following circumstances - after an election where the Labor Party does not form govt; on resignation of leader; permanent physical incapacity of the leader; 75% of caucus members sign a petition calling for a leadership vote. If the leader takes govt to an election and is returned, that leader remains leader for the full term.

3. Candidates for leadership nominated by minimum 20% of membership of Labor party.

4. Eligibility to vote will be the same as that of election for national ALP president.

5. Elections for leader will not take no longer than 30 days.

A change in the weather?

 

8 Months ago when I wrote the last issue of AU I noted that "Today's Newspoll, for the second time in a fortnight shows the two-party preferred federal voting intentions running at 50:50. "

 

Labor's Primary vote was up to 36% and the Coalition's down to 41%. 58% of those polled disapproved of Abbott's performance.

 

This demonstrates the truth of "What goes around comes around" with Rudd playing catch up after many months of disastrous polling for he Government.

 

Given that there will be no Tally Room on Election night it will be interesting to see what effort the channels go to to report on the vote count.

 

It is well worth visiting the Anthony Green Election Guide on the ABC website at http://bit.ly/12Mzjy0 to mine his data.

Coalition Direct Action Plan

With Mr Rudd's announcement last week to "terminate" the carbon tax and bring on an ETS one year early, this has focussed some attention on the Coalition's alternative climate change solution - a Direct Action Plan. Malcolm Turnbull said recently that the DAP is only a short term plan - so the question remains, what will happen after that initiative ends?

Lenore Taylor, Political Editor of the new Guardian Australia newspaper made some interesting observations on 9 July and posed some questions she believes the Coalition needs to answer. The article is available at 
 gu.com/p/3h6y3/tw. Her five questions are:

1. Global warming is a long-term problem that requires long-term solutions. Does the Coalition think Direct Action could work for longer than a few years or for an emissions reduction target tougher than 5%? Does the Coalition even have a policy for the long term?
2. How much money is allocated to the Direct Action fund to meet the 2020 target?
3. Would Direct Action reduce or even contain emissions from electricity generation, which represented about 35% of Australia's total emissions?
4. Will 60% of emission reductions still come from soil?
5. How will the Coalition determine the starting point for the emission reductions it is rewarding?

So far there is no sign that the Coalition intends to answer any of these questions.

Operation Sovereign Borders 

Jack Sparrow In another Coalition Ripping Yarn Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and his leadership team yesterday announce that the Coalition policy on border control would be placed in the hands of a 3-Star General who would answer directly to the Minister for Immigration. 

The announcement immediately drew responses from current and retired senior military officers. Current CDF General Hurley made it clear he had not provided any advice to the Coalition on the matter. He added that in the event there were to be such a policy he would expect Defence to be consulted. It seems the idea has been developed by retired General Jim Molan who appears to have hitched his wagon to the Coalition. Retired CDF Chief, Admiral Chris Barrie has also thrown cold water on the idea.

Perhaps the most significant response has come from the Australian Defence Association which raises three areas of concern with the proposal:
  1. Risk of appearing to "militarise" a civil matter;
  2. Care needed when using the ADF to supplement civil law enforcement; and
  3. Military leadership.

On the third issue the ADA says "There is surely little or no need for the measures described in Operation Sovereign Borders to be necessarily led by a military officer, either on secondment or as part of his or her military duties directly. If military expertise is considered essential, perhaps a former military officer would be better. "

 

The issue of chain of command would set a precedent for Defence with a General independent of the chain and answering to a elected politician.

 

The full ADA response can be accessed at http://bit.ly/14NRhFJ 

 


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