Archive for the ‘Australian Politics’ Category

Stop The Levy

January 27, 2011

Just in case anyone hasn’t already seen it from my spamming, have just set up www.stopthelevy.com, which is to be an online petition to stop Labor’s newest tax to make up for its chronic overspending.

I’m sure I don’t need to convince any of you about how disastrous this would be, or go into the severely deleterious effects it will have on our economy, so, I’ll just ask you to check out the site, Follow it on Twitter, and “like” it on Facebook. And spread it to all your friends.

Thanks!

Advertisements

Moore Mad Marxist Mayhem

October 15, 2010

As the more perceptive of you might have noticed, I was a little irked the other day having read the most recent writ issued by Her Royal Majesty of Mao-ness, Mayor Moore’s micromanaging mandate that every private home need have a bicycle spot as “part of the city’s effort to encourage cycling” (as well as regulating balcony sizes &c.).

Ms. Moore’s predication towards obsessive regulation, and her general antipathy towards freedom, is rather well known – one only need open the paper on any given day to see her latest edict (yesterday – even further restrictions designed to throttle the hotel industry), but it is the obsession of this 80 year old motorist (yes, she doesn’t bike, she has a taxpayer-funded car) with cycling that I wish to take up today, as it is particularly timely due to recent proposals for a congestion tax to help ease the shocking gridlock in Sydney’s CBD.

As some of you may know, I was back in Australia to in August, and travelling to the city, I was rather surprised by the increased traffic. As I had the good fortune to be travelling with my mother, I decided to ask her what was going on. “Bloody Clover Moore” was the response. Upon further investigation, my mother, who, I have no qualms in catogorising as a socialist criminal (if you are reading, love you mum!), decided to inform me that in her great wisdom, Mayor Moore decided to tear up huge swathes of highway in Sydney, and replace it with bicycle lanes.  Which no-one uses. And cost $76 million dollars. (more…)

Heh

September 29, 2010

From Wyatt Roy’s facebook wall:

I mean sure, he’s young,  but still, a bit harsh don’t you think? 🙂

What the GOP Can Learn From Australia’s Conservatives

August 25, 2010

I have a piece up at the Daily Caller (apparently they’ll accept any old rubbish these days!)  on what the GOP can learn from Australia’s election:

As Australia awaits the results of its federal election, one fact emerges crystal clear: irrespective of who becomes prime minister, this was a historic win for conservatives, and a harbinger of things to come across the world, with a powerful lesson for all GOP candidates coming into the midterms.

After riding the crest of hope and change to election in 2007, Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd seemed unstoppable.  The (conservative) Liberal Party was in disarray, and the media was unanimous in its prescription: the only way for the Liberals to survive was to “modernize” by abandoning their conservative ideology and “move forward” by embracing policies like cap and trade.

These forces calling for “modernization” found their standard-bearer in Goldman Sachs executive-turned-politician Malcolm Turnbull, who, after months of agitation, succeeded in winning leadership of the Liberal Party and, cheered on by the commentariat, quickly set about reshaping the Liberal Party in a more progressive direction, making cap and trade his signature issue. Clearly, the media proclaimed, his was the way forward; the future of “conservative” politics. Yet the conventional wisdom was wrong. Poll numbers for the Liberals plummeted. Had an election been called, the Liberal Party would have been annihilated. The situation was so dire, the Liberal Party’s very survival was in jeopardy. Yet the elite consensus remained clear and unchanging: as bad as things were, they would only get worse if Turnbull was replaced. “Moderation” was the only way forward.

Yet, in November 2009, on the eve of the cap and trade Senate vote, the Liberal Party decided to do the unthinkable. They replaced Malcolm Turnbull with hard-line conservative Tony Abbott in an unprecedented leadership coup, turning the party back to conservatism and defeating cap and trade in the process. Again, the media verdict was unanimous — this would be the death knell of the Liberal Party. Within a year, “you would be able to fit every Liberal member into a phone booth.” “Tony Abbott + unelectable” comes up with 15,000 hits on Google. Again, the media elite were wrong.

You can read the rest here.

Tim’s NSW Senate Below The Line Vote UPDATED

August 20, 2010

Please find below an updated version of my NSW Senate how to vote.

I wish to note that I not recommending you follow this, and formally and explicitly state I urge everyone to simply vote 1 Above The Line for the Liberal/National Joint Ticket, which is Group AA. I am not recommending people vote this way. The reason I am voting this way is simply because 1)I find it fun and 2) I wish to make a statement (however small). I must stress that, under every preference model I have done that I find even remotely realistic, my votes under this numbering will still transfer, at full value, to the Coalition.

A few changes since my last one:

*I’ve bumped up Pape to number 1, simply because I looked into him more, and liked what he stands for. Plus, the LDP’s#1 history with Liberals for Forests leaves me with a somewhat uncomfortable feeling

*Family First have been bumped down for wanting a National Alcohol Commissioner

*The Secular Party has been bumped up because they’re still less communist than the Sex Party (why some people think that it’s libertarian is beyond me – enforced affirmative action in federal Parliament? give me a break!),

*I’ve pushed a few independents down on finding out they are effectivly neo-Nazi’s (the Hodges ones).. The disendorsed Liberal (David Barker) has been bumped down for political stupidity more than anything else, and Cheryl Kernot has been bumped down because, well, it’s Cheryl Kernot (switching political parties simply because you’re f**king someone in another one is simply unforgivable).

*Bumped up Hugh McDermott on JH’s advice, and also bumped up the Democrats, because JH is right in that in NSW at least they are attempting to become rather less anti-freedom than they were a few years ago.

*Communists are still ahead of Labor and The Greens because at least they’re honest.

*Bumped up Fiona Nash because obviously with her seat being the one in doubt in NSW, I’d prefer vote to go to her at full value and not at a fraction

So, here goes!

1 Independent (Ungrouped) PAPE Bryan 2 Liberal Democrats (LDP) (AF1) DRUERY Glenn 3 Liberal (AA1) FIERRAVANTI-WELLS Concetta 4 Liberal Democrats (LDP) (AF2) GABB Lucy 5 Liberal Democrats (LDP) (AF3) STITT Peter 6 The Climate Sceptics (M1) KOUTALIANOS Bill 7 The Climate Sceptics (M2) BROWN Geoffrey 8 Liberal (AA4) HUGHES Hollie 12 Nationals (AA3) NASH Fiona 9 Liberal (AA2) HEFFERNAN William 10 Shooters And Fishers (O1) MUIRHEAD Jim Gerard 11 Shooters And Fishers (O2) McGLASHAN Alistair David 13 Nationals (AA5) DENNIS Joe 14 Liberal (AA6) BILIC George 15 Non-Custodial Parents Party (Equal Parenting) (U1) THOMPSON Andy 16 Non-Custodial Parents Party (Equal Parenting) (U2) FOSTER Roland 17 Building Australia (E1) BROWN Ray 18 Building Australia (E2) O’DONNELL Michael 19 Senator On-Line (F1) BAS Wes 20 Senator On-Line (F2) ROACH Brianna 21 Family First (V1) SWANE Greg 22 Family First (V2) LAMB Phil 23 Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group) (Z1) GREEN Paul 24 Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group) (Z2) PEEBLES Robyn 25 Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group) (Z3) NILE Elaine 26 Carers Alliance (Y1) CARTER Marylou 27 Carers Alliance (Y2) BUCKWALTER Maree 28 Australian Democrats (J1) CLANCY Fiona 29 Australian Democrats (J2) MITCHELL Jen 30 Secular Party Of Australia (N1) BRYCE Ian 31 Secular Party Of Australia (N2) WARREN Lyle Richard 32 Australian Sex Party (Q1) LEISHMAN Marianne 33 Australian Sex Party (Q2) CAMPBELL Huw 34 Australian Sex Party (Q3) ZIMMERMAN Larissa 35 Democratic Labor Party (DLP) Of Australia (P1) McCAFFREY Simon Thomas 36 Democratic Labor Party (DLP) Of Australia (P2) CULLEN Martin 37 Independent (X1) STEFANAC Jennifer 38 Independent (X2) COOLEY Tucky Tania 39 Independent (D2) FOLKES Nick 40 Independent (H1) BLOOM Nadia 41 Independent (H2) IRELAND Bede 42 Independent (L1) BELGRAVE Leon Adrian 43 Independent (L2) BEREGSZASZI Janos 44 Independent (B2) FRIER Bob 45 Independent (C1) ROBINSON Tony 46 Independent (C2) SELBY Noel 47 Independent (AE2) CANT Simon 48 Independent (R2) ZUREIK S G 49 Independent (AB1) ECKFORD Michael 50 Independent (AB2) STEVENS Criselee 51 Independent (K1) SAMPSON Meg 52 Independent (K2) HINCHCLIFFE J 53 Independent (T1) BOURKE William 54 Independent (T2) O’CONNOR Mark 55 Independent (Ungrouped) RICHARDSON Hamish 56 Independent (Ungrouped) HOOPER Norman H Joseph 57 Independent (Ungrouped) SCOTT-IRVING Stewart 58 Independent (Ungrouped) WHALAN Andrew 59 Labor (W6) McDERMOTT Hugh 60 One Nation (AC1) WEBBER Andrew 61 One Nation (AC2) BRETT John 62 Independent (AE1) KERNOT Cheryl 63 Independent (R1) BARKER David 64 Citizens Electoral Council Of Australia (I2) McCAFFREY Ian David 65 Citizens Electoral Council Of Australia (I1) BUTLER Robert H 66 Independent (D1) HODGES Darrin 67 Independent (B1) HODGES Robert 68 Socialist Equality Party (S2) ZABALA Gabriela 69 Socialist Equality Party (S1) BEAMS Nick 70 Communist (G2) KELLAWAY Brenda Anne 71 Communist (G1) LAWLER Geoff 72 Socialist Alliance (A2) ISKANDER Soubhi 73 Socialist Alliance (A1) EVANS Rachel 74 Labor (W1) FAULKNER John 75 Labor (W2) THISTLETHWAITE Matthew 76 Labor (W3) HUTCHINS Steve 77 Labor (W4) MURNAIN Anne 78 Labor (W5) SEATON Fiona 79 The Greens (AD6) KANAK Dominic Wy 80 The Greens (AD5) MORRISSEY Simone 81 The Greens (AD4) SWIFT Harriett 82 The Greens (AD3) JEGATHEESWARAN Brami 83 The Greens (AD2) McILROY Keith 84 The Greens (AD1) RHIANNON Lee

Any questions? 🙂

How I Plan To Vote In The Senate

August 2, 2010

Unfortunately for us hacks, there are only 84 Senate candidates in NSW for us to number if we vote below the line. Very sad; was much more fun under the old rules with 250 or so.

Anyway, here’s a very, very, very tentative list of how I plan to order my vote. Feel free to convince me to otherwise (particularly if anyone knows anything about any of the indies).

Also, The Communist Party is fielding candidates again! Wee!

1 Liberal Democrats (LDP) (AF1) DRUERY Glenn 2 Liberal (AA1) FIERRAVANTI-WELLS Concetta 3 Independent (Ungrouped) PAPE Bryan 4 Liberal Democrats (LDP) (AF2) GABB Lucy 5 Liberal Democrats (LDP) (AF3) STITT Peter 6 The Climate Sceptics (M1) KOUTALIANOS Bill 7 The Climate Sceptics (M2) BROWN Geoffrey 8 Liberal (AA4) HUGHES Hollie 9 Liberal (AA2) HEFFERNAN William 10 Shooters And Fishers (O1) MUIRHEAD Jim Gerard 11 Shooters And Fishers (O2) McGLASHAN Alistair David 12 Nationals (AA3) NASH Fiona 13 Nationals (AA5) DENNIS Joe 14 Liberal (AA6) BILIC George 15 Non-Custodial Parents Party (Equal Parenting) (U1) THOMPSON Andy 16 Non-Custodial Parents Party (Equal Parenting) (U2) FOSTER Roland 17 Family First (V1) SWANE Greg 18 Family First (V2) LAMB Phil 19 Building Australia (E1) BROWN Ray 20 Building Australia (E2) O’DONNELL Michael 21 Senator On-Line (F1) BAS Wes 22 Senator On-Line (F2) ROACH Brianna 23 Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group) (Z1) GREEN Paul 24 Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group) (Z2) PEEBLES Robyn 25 Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group) (Z3) NILE Elaine 26 Australian Sex Party (Q1) LEISHMAN Marianne 27 Australian Sex Party (Q2) CAMPBELL Huw 28 Australian Sex Party (Q3) ZIMMERMAN Larissa 29 Carers Alliance (Y1) CARTER Marylou 30 Carers Alliance (Y2) BUCKWALTER Maree 31 Democratic Labor Party (DLP) Of Australia (P1) McCAFFREY Simon Thomas 32 Democratic Labor Party (DLP) Of Australia (P2) CULLEN Martin 33 Australian Democrats (J1) CLANCY Fiona 34 Australian Democrats (J2) MITCHELL Jen 35 Secular Party Of Australia (N1) BRYCE Ian 36 Secular Party Of Australia (N2) WARREN Lyle Richard 37 Independent (X1) STEFANAC Jennifer 38 Independent (X2) COOLEY Tucky Tania 39 Independent (D1) HODGES Darrin 40 Independent (D2) FOLKES Nick 41 Independent (H1) BLOOM Nadia 42 Independent (H2) IRELAND Bede 43 Independent (L1) BELGRAVE Leon Adrian 44 Independent (L2) BEREGSZASZI Janos 45 Independent (B1) HODGES Robert 46 Independent (B2) FRIER Bob 47 Independent (C1) ROBINSON Tony 48 Independent (C2) SELBY Noel 49 Independent (AE1) KERNOT Cheryl 50 Independent (AE2) CANT Simon 51 Independent (R1) BARKER David 52 Independent (R2) ZUREIK S G 53 Independent (AB1) ECKFORD Michael 54 Independent (AB2) STEVENS Criselee 55 Independent (K1) SAMPSON Meg 56 Independent (K2) HINCHCLIFFE J 57 Independent (T1) BOURKE William 58 Independent (T2) O’CONNOR Mark 59 Independent (Ungrouped) RICHARDSON Hamish 60 Independent (Ungrouped) HOOPER Norman H Joseph 61 Independent (Ungrouped) SCOTT-IRVING Stewart 62 Independent (Ungrouped) WHALAN Andrew 63 One Nation (AC1) WEBBER Andrew 64 One Nation (AC2) BRETT John 65 Citizens Electoral Council Of Australia (I1) BUTLER Robert H 66 Citizens Electoral Council Of Australia (I2) McCAFFREY Ian David 67 Socialist Equality Party (S1) BEAMS Nick 68 Socialist Equality Party (S2) ZABALA Gabriela 69 Communist (G1) LAWLER Geoff 70 Communist (G2) KELLAWAY Brenda Anne 71 Socialist Alliance (A1) EVANS Rachel 72 Socialist Alliance (A2) ISKANDER Soubhi 73 Labor (W1) FAULKNER John 74 Labor (W2) THISTLETHWAITE Matthew 75 Labor (W3) HUTCHINS Steve 76 Labor (W4) MURNAIN Anne 77 Labor (W5) SEATON Fiona 78 Labor (W6) McDERMOTT Hugh 79 The Greens (AD6) KANAK Dominic Wy 80 The Greens (AD5) MORRISSEY Simone 81 The Greens (AD4) SWIFT Harriett 82 The Greens (AD3) JEGATHEESWARAN Brami 83 The Greens (AD2) McILROY Keith 84 The Greens (AD1) RHIANNON Lee

WorkChoices & Bad Writing

July 20, 2010

One of the challenges that writers face is the experience that when you write something, and then read it back to yourself, you realise that it is utter s**t and all your work has been for nought. Such a thing happens quite often. What makes it worse, however, is the fact that writers often appreciate the deficiencies in their work, often understand the flaws once pointed out, and yet can not work out why, nor can work out what, precisely, is wrong with your piece overall. This happens to me quite often, to be honest. On so many nights I write something, feel quite proud of it, and then read it back to myself, and realise that it is drivel so poor that it is unacceptable to publish even by my own (very) low standards.

There are, of course, numerous workarounds to this. I oft impose upon anyone I know who is unfortunate enough to be online at that time to glance through my articles before publication and offer constructive criticism (I suspect there are quite a few people online right now who have placed me upon ‘invisible’ because of this!) The problem with such a method, however, is that many persons from who I ask for assistance, claiming to be friends of mine, remain overly-reluctant to be properly critical (something, it would seem, that springs out of some misplaced feeling of ‘niceness’ they would seem to feel towards my “feelings”).

My usual procedure in such cases is simply to delete my ramblings and start anew the next day, or, at the least, save them in that “to be finishied later” file that is now taking up most of my hard drive.

But today I thought I would try something different. Rather than simply filing away something s**t, find below an article I wrote this evening that I am genuinely ashamed of. It is an article which I know  falls flat on every level. Yet I can not put my figure upon why. I know without doubt that this sux, yet I do not know the reason. For sure something is wrong – the structure, just to begin, seems considerably wonky, but what is the real story? Why is it not working? Normally, I would simply delete and start anew. But this time – you tell me!

So I turn it over to you, dear readers. I assume most of you do not hold any form of loyalty bonds that would ensure you be nice to me, and as such are free to speak without restraint. What is wrong with this shockinly appaling blog post below, and how can I improve upon it? I did, after all, try to write something, and the fact it turned out badly is…well.. something I can not account for. So, do help me out 🙂

Do so, and I shall forever be in your debt. Let the piece begin!

“Many liberals hoped that with control of the Senate, Howard would move towards significant deregulation of the labour marke .Their hopes have been dashed. A golden opportunity has been lost for want of moral clarity and political courage

It is those you love that hurt you the most. How true this is in all our lives. Yet in no sphere is it more true than the political one.

As industrial relations (note to the silly and most-uneducated (tautology?) Americans who read this: IR = labour market) heats up as the prime election issue in Australia, let me say this: not only should we, as  those of the center-right, not be nostalgic about the WorkChoices regime, but rather, we should recognise and accept that no greater hurt was inflicted upon Australian conservatives than that particularly odious piece of legislation. Legislation that, in the popular press, has now become synonymous with conservative values. Legislation that cost the Coalition the 2007 election. Yet legislation that, at its core, was at odds with everything we believed in and set our movement back by decades.

I do not dispute WorkChoices well intentioned. I do not dispute that IR reform was needed. But what was done, with little forethought, and even less political acumen, ought never be forgotten. And, going into the 2010 election, removing ourselves from the toxic WorkChoices baggage was always essential.

Yesterday, Tony Abbott announced that a Coalition Government, if elected, shall not bring back WorkChoices. I unequivocally support this. Because WorkChoices did not only destroy the Coalition at the last election, it also destroyed conservative values. IR reform is desperately needed in Australia. Our economy is crying out for modernisation, whilst Labor seems desperate to drag us back to a 1950’s regime. I certainly support radical IR reform (and am somewhat disappointed with the Coalitions stance on this matter). Yet WorkChoices is not a way forward. Why? Because WorkChoices was not conservative.

It didn’t have to be that way. When the legislation was first mooted, it promised a “flexible, simple and fair system”,  to replace the joke our IR system was. We were promised it would re-introduce the market, and replace our ridiculously bureaucratic structure, with thousands of minimum wages depending on your specific occupation (for instance) with a simple and fair system.

And then we saw the legislation. And it was nothing of the sort. Thousands of pages of re-regulation (whereas the initial 1904 Conciliation and Arbitration Act was a mere 34 pages, its 2005 descendant toped 700, with a further 3731 explanatory notes lasting for 500 pages, not even including regulations. My printer ran out of ink twice trying to print the damn thing!), where de-regulation was needed. Conservative groups balked. When a motion was put forward to the Federal Council of the Australian Liberal Students’ Federation (a body generally considered the most ‘right’ of all Liberal Party affiliates) in support of WorkChoices, it lost by over 100 votes to –literally – only two votes in favour. The HR Nicholls Society,  the vanguard of free labour markets in Australia also attacked the legislation, its President saying it was “very much to Australia’s detriment”.

How did it come to this?

I had intended to initially write about the minute details of the legislation – indeed had written up a few thousand words on the topic – before I realised this was unnecessary. After all, much of the Act has been repealed, so what’s the point?

Rather, I simply wish to state that WorkChoices was a significant departure from over a century of political and constitutional thought by the ‘right’, and constituted an abandonment of the traditional Liberal values of Federalism and decentralisation. Ultimately, rather than deregulating the labor market, it simply re-regulated it in its own manner. And as much fun as creating a legal framework to f**k over Unions may be, it can not justify an overall betrayal of our principles.

I assume I do not need to go into how the WorkChoices regime, by stripping away the IR power of the states through and interpretation of the Corporation clause that could be described as dubious at best, goes against Liberal values, nor shall I go into how it gave the Federal Government powers to determine what company Directors could “eat for lunch”, or gave the Minister the power to literally fly around the country to settle disputes; power that the Kremlin would have been in awe of.  I take this as a given.

Rather, I just wish to belt everyone over the head with the fact that, despite the rhetoric of the Government, WorkChoices, rather than being a deregulation of the market, was little more than re-regulation. There was, after all, no change to the practice of government bodies telling an employer what he could pay his employee (note the contrast to the reform processes in New Zealand in the early 1990’s, which saw the wholesale abolition of existing collective institutions, and their replacement with new regulatory structures giving preference to individual contracting.) To the contrary, by trying to construct a system to shut out unions, whilst simultaneously not losing votes by appearing cruel, the changes make the whole system even more complex, with the introduction of new bodies, and new sources of standards, and, despite the Government’s rhetorical emphasis on reducing complexity and duplication, that simply added to the degree of regulatory complexity that has always characterised the Australian system.

The thing that the architects of WorkChoices didn’t realise was that, fundamentally, it is freedom which encourages real entrepreneurship, and sustains economic growth. WorkChoices failed in this regard. It is worth remembering that when, upon introducing the legislation, John Howard stated that the proposals are “not radical” and that Australia’s labour market will still be more regulated that its British and NZ counterparts he was doubtlessly correct. The Act was little more than a further layering of regulation, with the introduction of new bodies, and new sources of standards. Despite the Government’s rhetorical emphasis on reducing complexity and duplication, WorkChoices ought never be viewed as anything other than adding to the degree of regulatory complexity that has always characterised the Australian system.

Tony Abbott is right to declare WorkChoices dead and buried.  Because what is needed is true reform. Reform to stop thousands of Australians being unemployed due to nonsensical minimum-wage regimes. Reform to allow an employer and employee to agree on a contract, without a government arbitrator interfering. Reform that will once again restore to the states their constitutional prerogatives.

Julia Gillard keeps talking about moving Australia Forward. Might I suggest we all take this opportunity to ensure that, rather than regressing to a 1950’s IR regime, we actually do so. But, in doing so, remember, as desperately as IR reform is needed, WorkChoices was never the answer.

I wish to very, very much stress that these are my own personal views, and do not reflect the opinion of the HR Nicholls Society, of which I am a member of the Board of Management.

Constitutional Federalism In Australia: A Brief History

July 6, 2010

Facilis descensus Averno, Sed revocare gradum, superasque evadere ad auras, Hoc opus, hic labor est” – In Defence Of Federalism, Chief Justice Harry Gibbs

It is hardly a great secret that Federalism & the Australian Constitution is a great passion of mine. Indeed, I freely admit that back in the day I would read rulings of the Griffith High Court – rulings that, in my mind, were not merely legal opinions, but works of beauty sublime – in my spare time, and that I still speak about the subject whenever I get the chance (I recall a few months ago – quite literally – putting a poor American to sleep with my rants on the matter). So I’m a Con Law geek. Deal with it.

In light of this, though, it is of great sorrow to me that of the few people remaining on our side of politics in Australia who remain committed to the core Liberal-conservative principle of Federalism, there is little understanding of how we got into our present morass, and that, outside of the membership of my beloved Samuel Griffiths Society (which ought really consider renaming itself to The Society of St. Jude), few are aware of how the High Court of Australia rode roughshod over the Australian constitution, and, in the course of 80 years, ripped up the Framers intentions, and turned very limited powers into a blank cheque for the Commonwealth.

I’ve also noticed that no real summary exists of how this occurred.  As such, I thought I would prepare a very brief history of Federalism in Australia, as seen through the few landmark cases which act as signposts to the Tartarus we are now in. Hopefully some of you will find it useful. (Also if people are interested, I may follow this up with a discussion on how the Australian Constitution was based primarily on the U.S. Constitution in terms of Federalism, and, more importantly, how even following Federation there were strong links between U.S. and Australian jurisprudence, to the effect that the Australian High Court adopted U.S. rulings carte blanche, but we shall see). I note that much of this post is adapted from an Independent Research Project I wrote at Law School, which, if you wish to download, you may here.

(more…)

Leadership & Character: The Fatal Flaws of Malcolm Bligh Turnbull

May 9, 2010

Five months have now elapsed since the end of Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership of the Liberal Party. Since then, in  a dramatic turnaround, polls have gone from showing a  60-40 2PP Labor electoral landslide in December, to Newspoll and Neilson both showing a Coalition lead.

With Mr. Turnbull deciding to re-contest the seat of Wentworth, the time has come to pen a few words of sober reflection on his downfall, in the sincere hope that as he continues his political career he shall learn from his mistakes, a chart a new course for the future

In my humble opinion, all of Mr. Turnbull’s mistakes can be distilled into two fatal flaws: a failure to understand the relationship between voters and politics, and a failure to understand the nature of leadership. These are flaws that go deeper than simply incorrect policy, or making a wrong decision. Rather, they go to the very room of the man, and his character.

The first is a mistake often made by “conservatives” in opposition: they see a poll that the public support something, and so refuse to fight this for fear of electoral loss. This cowardice was the reason Mr.  Turnbull primarily gave the partyroom for supporting the ETS: we would lose in a landslide if we opposed it. And, indeed, in December, 60% of Australiansdid support governmental action against “climate change”.

Rather than this being evidence of Australian support for an ETS, however, it was merely evidence for the fact that they were not shown the other side. How do we know this? Because since Mr. Abbott has taken a strong stance against it, now, just six months later, two-thirds of Australians doubt the existence of anthropogenic global warming.

This is the fundamental point Mr. Turnbull failed to grasp: good politicians don’t merely respond to opinion, they help shape it. A strong, concerted, principle-based campaign against bad policy will triumph, irrespective of what initial polls say.

No-where is this more evident than in the United States in what has occurred in the last year, where President Obama’s net approval rating has plummeted from +28, to a staggering -21 just after Obamacare was passed; a whopping 50 point turnaround. Indeed, healthcare is an instructive example: Initially, 72% of Americans supported President Obama’s healthcare takeover, after a concerted Republican campaign against it, 59% oppose it. But the same occurred with the so-called “stimulus”, and with cap & trade in the US: initial public support, a concerted conservative opposition, and then strong public opposition.

Having a backbone, and not being afraid of debate, or pushing unpopular views, is vital. And Mr. Turnbull – not just on the ETS, but on so much else, did not have the mettle to do so.

The second fatal flaw is even more fundamental, and is what ultimately cost him the leadership: his failure to realise that a leader is first and foremost a servant. Throughout the ETS debate, Mr. Turnbull demonstrated his complete, total, and utter misunderstanding of leadership, and the nature of The Party.

To be elected to any position of office is not a mark granting you dictatorial power. To the contrary, it is a position of servitude. The bonds of party loyalty that bind all members do not evaporate once you become leader, rather, they constrict you tighter. The key lesson to be learned: as you progress in an organisation, you gain not more freedom, but rather less. You become bound by the intangible forces of duty and loyalty.

In the weeks leading up to his downfall, Mr. Turnbull’s line was “I’m the leader, the party does what I tell it to”. Such a simplified – and indeed arrogant – view of leadership might work at Goldman Sachs, but not in the political sphere. To the contrary, it is the very antithesis of what makes a good leader. But it got even worse when Mr. Turnbull threatened a veritable Samson act, and effectively stated that if he was defeated, he would drag the Liberal Party down with him. In doing so, Mr. Turnbull committed the ultimate crime – that of treason. He demonstrated that his loyalty was not to the party, but rather only to himself. And when he walked out of a partyroom meeting that overwhelmingly opposed the ETS, declaring he did not care what the partyroom thought, that was the final straw. For in doing so he demonstrated himself not as a great leader, but rather, as little more than a petulant child.

Again, a failure of character.

As Mr. Turnbull continues his political career, it is my genuine wish he learns these two valuable lessons. After all, he certainly has the potential to make a positive contribution (in particular, some of his musings on reducing income tax are rather solid). But there is more to politics than simply having a few good ideas. Rather, success means understanding the value of principled opposition, and of the true nature of leadership. Because, the end of the day, Mr. Turnbull’s loss of leadership wasn’t about policy, it was about character.  Yet until Mr. Turnbull recognises this, and demonstrates he has changed his ways, I hold out few prospects for him indeed.

Why Nick Sowden Should NOT Have Been Expelled From The LNP

April 18, 2010

It would be fair to say that after Nick Sowden was expelled from the Liberal Party and I posted a rather spirited defense of him, I received a flurry of emails by persons wondering why on earth I would do such a thing. After all, the political history between me and Mr. Sowden would be described as bitterly acrimonious at best. What’s more, he is a self-proclaimed moderate, something I feel is a scourge upon the Liberal Party. He attacked the Tea Party movement in the United States (of which I am a part). Together with a few other malcontents, in the University of Queensland Student Union elections he worked with the Labor club against the Liberal ticket. And his personality and approach to politics is the polar opposite to mine.

Yet I stand by my previous comments. As much as I may differ with him personally, I strongly believe that he should not have been expelled from the Liberal National Party over this, and that a very damaging precedent that has been set. And, rather than this being something to laugh about, this is a very, very important issue. Because principle should triumph over personality. (more…)