Friday, August 27, 2010

Complexities of Australia's Senate system mean that Gillard can't win

Fielding is a Christian Senator and is very hostile to Labor. And Julia's atheism and living arrangements with her bisexual lover no doubt horrify him even more than when Rudd was in charge. He was also instrumental in seeing that Rudd could get nothing major through the Senate.

So even if Julia gets all her other ducks in a row, Fielding can block Labor for nearly a year. An Abbott government, on the other hand would have little trouble from Fielding -- if only because Abbott is a sincerely committed Christian

Abbott has said that he would not block supply (the budget) to a Labor government but that leaves open blocking everything else

The Senate is emerging as a new threat to a stable minority government. Steve Fielding is threatening to put a Labor government in gridlock next year and Nick Xenophon is vowing to force a new national crackdown on poker machines.

Victorian Senator Fielding, who can hold the Senate to ransom until July 1 next year by voting with the Coalition, has declared the "voters are not happy with Labor", and he has to decide whether to block everything it does.

The new challenge to the attempts by Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott to form minority governments comes as it emerges that the Coalition will almost certainly have 73 lower house seats and Labor 72 after the Liberals retained Hasluck, appeared to have won Brisbane but failed to pick up Corangamite.

As the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader continue to negotiate with the three independents in the House of Representatives to form a minority government, Family First's Senator Fielding, who is facing defeat, has warned he has to decide whether Labor deserves a second term. Senator Fielding has warned that stable government depends upon the ability of the Senate to function as well as the House of Representatives.

The pressure from independent senators came as Mr Abbott was attacked by the three independent MPs he hopes to woo for refusing to submit his policies to Treasury for costing. Mr Abbott yesterday cited a Treasury leak during the campaign as a reason for not agreeing to the independents' request for the costings.

The three independents are claiming their prime aim is to choose the side with the best chance of forming a stable, long-term government and insisting the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader guarantee serving a full term.

Senator Fielding said yesterday there could not be stable government up to July 1 next year if the Senate was deadlocked. "The Australian people have decided they don't want Labor returned for a further three years. The voters are clearly not happy with Labor," Senator Fielding told The Australian yesterday.

Senator Fielding said he was "keen to work out stable government". "At the end of the day, one of the two major parties has to form government, not some half-baked dream of power-sharing," he said. "You need to know who is to be held responsible for government decisions."

In the current upper house, Senator Fielding has the power to neutralise the government's agenda by joining his single vote to the Coalition. "I have to ask, is Labor worthy of a second term?" Senator Fielding said. "Obviously without the Senate, you can't form stable government and there is one year . . . to be served under the present Senate."

Labor does not control the upper house, which has 32 Labor senators, 37 Coalition, five Greens, Senator Xenophon and Senator Fielding. If Senator Xenophon, Senator Fielding or the Greens join the Coalition in a vote, they can negate government motions.

The new Senate, with the expected nine Greens senators holding the clear balance of power, does not sit until July 1 next year.


Universities teach knowledge but not wisdom (?)

What a lot of Stalinist crap! Who is to say what wisdom is? Some people think global warming is wisdom. I think the Bible is humanity's greatest store of wisdom. So is the Bible going to be taught to all university students? Fat chance!

Schwartz has always had grandiose and only semi-coherent ideas and has been dogged by controversy wherever he went. I would diagnose him as an egomaniac, if not a psychopath

MODERN universities are neglecting the teaching of wisdom to the detriment of its students, says vice-chancellor Steven Schwartz.

In his second annual lecture last night, the vice-chancellor of Macquarie University argued that worldwide the higher education sector was focused on teaching practical skills necessary for a career, with disastrous results. The financial crisis, the parliamentary expenses scandal in Britain and the home insulation program were cited as evidence of educated leaders making choices lacking in wisdom.

Professor Schwartz said a fixation with money had led to the decline in teaching students how to think broadly. "We once were about character building but now we are about money," he said at the university's North Ryde campus.

He said university courses had become more vocational with courses in golf-course management or hairdressing-salon management alongside the traditional subjects of law and pharmacy.

Professor Schwartz used the lecture to unveil a proposal to allow final year students at Macquarie to tie together the theoretical and practical sides of what they have learnt.

One of these capstone courses will be called "Practical wisdom", which the vice-chancellor nominated himself to teach. All new students will also be required to study both science and arts to broaden their education.

Dom Thurbon, a panellist for the lecture, said the premise forwarded by the vice-chancellor was an attractive but dangerous generalisation. He said the wisdom gained by a student depended on several factors such as degree choice and exposure to certain teachers.

"There is a a trend, however, towards a more instrumentalist view of education," said Mr Thurbon, the co-founder of ChangeLabs, an organisation that builds large-scale education and behaviour-change programs.

"The drive to commercially ready degrees means less time is spent on broad philosophical underpinnings of education. Ironically industry is genuinely needing people with a cross-functional expertise."


Hiring of all overseas nurses stopped by dithering new Federal bureaucracy

Dozens of nurses are unable to start work in Queensland because of bureaucratic red tape delaying processing of their registrations. Despite a shortage of nurses across the country, English migrant Ann-Marie Rossiter has been forced to wait more than four months for her registration application to be processed so she can begin work as a registered nurse.

The newly created Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency took over in July as the national body responsible for the registration of health professionals, after statewide organisations including the Queensland Nursing Council were shut down.

Queensland Nurses Union assistant secretary Beth Mohle said she had received "dozens" of complaints from nurses in Queensland about the registration processing problems. "It's absolutely unacceptable, it's nonsensical . . . the processing shouldn't take very long at all," she said. "It's actually having an impact on the workforce and it's delaying big cohorts of people potentially coming from overseas to work in regional and rural hospitals."

Ms Rossiter, 27, who lives at Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast, said she accepted a job at Nambour Hospital as a registered nurse but red tape has stopped her dead in her tracks to start her job. "I'm frustrated and I'm really disappointed as well," she said. "I feel let down. I was meant to start my job at Nambour Hospital on July 22 but I haven't been able to.

"Because I have a job at the hospital as a registered nurse they felt really sorry for me and they got me a job on the casual pool as a nursing assistant while I waited for my registration."

Ms Rossiter said she initially applied for registration with the QNC, but her application was not processed before they shut down so she was told to reapply through AHPRA.

An AHPRA spokeswoman yesterday defended the delay and said a consistent criteria to assess applications for overseas-qualified nurses would be completed this week. She said once a framework was established AHPRA would begin processing applications from next week.

AHPRA came under fire from the nurses' union this month after Australian citizen Gerard Kellett was told he must pass an English language test to be eligible for registration. The union has urged Health Minister Paul Lucas to act on the registration issues.


Victoria’s Jewish community leaders slam the bias at Australia's most Leftist major newspaper

Jewish Community Council of Victoria President John Searle and Zionist Council of Victoria President Dr Danny Lamm have again strongly criticised Melbourne broadsheet The Age for its ongoing anti-Israel bias over a number of years.

The leaders of Victoria’s peak Jewish bodies jointly observed that during the tenure of Andrew Jaspan and particularly that of his successor Paul Ramadge, The Age had increasingly engaged in a war of words against Israel. Apart from steering its readership to a more anti-Israel position, Searle and Lamm consider that The Age’s strident line had also had the hopefully unintended by-product of legitimising antisemitism in this country.

“There is no particular reporting or opinion piece that has prompted our criticism at this time. Frankly, our community has simply just had enough of The Age’s lack of balance”, Searle noted. ”Despite our best efforts to present Israel’s case, there have been too many instances of anti-Israel statements to count, ranging from the blatant such as Michael Backman’s ugly smear job in 2009 to the more subtle and insidious”, Searle continued.

“An example of the latter includes a recent article reprinted from The UK’s The Daily Telegraph which stated “Netanyahu will come under fierce pressure from Obama to extend a 10-month freeze on Jewish settlements in the West Bank”. The Age’s version made the following insertions “illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank” (The Age, 070710). Such changes make a world of difference.”

“We make this statement with regret”, Lamm continued. “However we have spoken to Mr Ramadge on a number of occasions, both privately and in public forums. While he is adept at making the right noises about The Age’s impartiality, his follow through leaves a great deal to be desired. We believe that The Age’s record speaks for itself. Quite simply The Age is not a friend of our community.”

A recent matter of concern was the reportage of Israel’s response to a flotilla of so-called peace activists that broached Israel’s territorial waters in an attempt to reach Hamas-ruled Gaza. The ZCV and JCCV addressed strong letters of complaint to Mr Ramadge which were ignored. Searle’s subsequent phone call to Ramadge was not returned.

As Searle concluded in his letter, “The JCCV has had ongoing communication with you for a number of years on The Age’s bias. Predictably you have consistently stated that The Age is even-handed and that your door is always open to the Jewish community. I will remind you that these were your exact words when you addressed an audience at the Beth Weizmann Jewish Community Centre on 5 October 2009. You soberly assured audience members that The Age was interested in their concerns and that you would always be responsive to them. In this regard, I will also remind you that you took certain such concerns away with you.

To this day, you have not responded, despite our follow-up request that you do so. And indeed, I am still awaiting your reply to my telephone call to you of 4 June 2010. Your attitude bespeaks scant respect for the Jewish community.

I am not requesting your response to this letter – because frankly your assurances are no longer seen as credible by our community – other than a clear policy change to even-handedness as evidenced in The Age’s future content. Until this is forthcoming I have no doubt that those of your readers who value Israel receiving a fair go will dwindle even further.”

Both Searle and Lamm concluded that the JCCV and ZCV will continue to monitor The Age and take any steps they consider appropriate.


Polished Abbott rises in stature

The alternative PM made fools of those who doubted him

Janet Albrechtsen

TONY Abbott is "unelectable". He will "reduce the party to a reactionary rump". "No one thinks Abbott can win in 2010; he would be doing well if he held the line." The Liberals' choice represents the "spirit of kamikaze fundamentalism". The Liberal Party has chosen "the least electable" candidate. The Liberal Party will likely face "a lengthy period in the wilderness of opposition".

Huh? Anyone want to repeat these observations now?

Even clever commentators can be blinded by orthodoxy. So, too, the hardheads in the Labor Party and the union movement who thought Julia Gillard would secure a slam-dunk election win over Abbott. Post a YouTube video about the freaky Addams Family, trot out Work Choices, and voters would side with Labor. Coalition members muttered similar things among themselves.

The Opposition Leader has confounded them all. Even if the Coalition fails to form a minority government, this election is about the rise and rise of an eminently electable Abbott, and the demise of brand Labor.

Those who prefer to underestimate Abbott will explain his success as a case of timing and lashings of good luck. And maybe a little talent. State Labor governments on the nose in NSW and Queensland. Howard battlers unhappy with a dud leader in Kevin Rudd. A brutal execution that upset the electorate. Leaks that spelled disunity in government.

But it was far more than that. Abbott's success is about Abbott.

NSW voters have endured a rotten state Labor government and ineffective premiers for years. With no meaningful opposition, there was nowhere for voters to go. Abbott pulled together a united, effective federal opposition. So effective that he started pulling the strings of those powerful Labor strategists who, in turn, pull the strings of the Prime Minister.

When Abbott spurned an emissions trading system, Labor strategists forced Rudd to dance to Abbott's tune. But the story didn't unfold as Labor planned.

The contrast between the Liberal conviction politician and the Labor Prime Minister who ditched the "greatest moral issue of our time" became too great. Abbott's spectacular rise caused Rudd's equally spectacular demise. Factional bosses in Canberra copied the NSW brutal model of politics. Execute the leader. Put in a new face. It had worked for Sussex Street for years. Gillard's elevation would fix everything. Feisty and female, Gillard would unnerve Abbott.

Except she didn't. Abbott was still pulling the policy strings. The new Prime Minister started mimicking the Opposition Leader, darting over to the conservative side on everything from border protection, offshore processing and climate change. When Abbott went all progressive with his generous paternity leave policy, Gillard tried to follow. But still Abbott, not Labor, was in control of the plot. The Opposition Leader didn't implode as Labor, and some Liberals, assumed he would. He was no Mark Latham as Labor, and some Liberals, had assumed he was. Instead, Abbott's success in the polls was unnerving the hardheads in Labor and surprising the doubters in his own party. Gillard turned into an overly cautious, two-dimensional character only marginally more credible than robotic Rudd.

Not even the outbreak of the "real Julia" could stop Abbott reclaiming the Howard battlers. Consider Abbott's success in numbers. While the count continues, Labor's loss is already historic. Not since 1931, off the back of the Depression, has the Australian electorate denied a first-term government another term. The history buffs said it wouldn't happen. Abbott made sure it did.

In the seats that matter, the Howard battlers turned away from Labor, with its primary vote falling by 6.4 per cent in NSW and 8.9 per cent in Queensland. Even in seats Labor held, margins have been slashed. Anthony Albanese's safe seat of Grayndler, once on a margin of 25 per cent, has been cut to 2.5 per cent. Peter Garrett's cosy 13.3 per cent margin in Kingsford-Smith is down to about 5 per cent.

For the Coalition to come so close to winning government with the seats so far evenly divided is equally historic.

"Something went right for the Coalition" said Barrie Cassidy on Sunday morning. That something is Abbott. When he won the leadership by a single vote, many predicted trouble. The Sydney Morning Herald's David Marr suggested the party "photographer shouldn't tarry" as Abbott's framed face would be replaced by another leader soon enough. Instead, Abbott did what those before him failed to do. He united the party. And he, not Brendan Nelson or Malcolm Turnbull, started to look like a credible alternative prime minister.

With due respect to Turnbull, the Coalition pushing an emissions trading system would not have won seats in Macarthur or Macquarie, or Longman, or Flynn, or Forde, or Dawson; seats picked up by the Coalition. Turnbull chose to martyr himself on climate change, an issue Rudd, Gillard and Labor strategists dropped. Much of the world has dropped it too. Anyone remember Copenhagen? Anyone following what's happening or not happening in the US on climate change? Abbott was responsible for changing the politics of climate change in Australia, putting it back in the real world.

While Abbott was right to tell his supporters on Saturday night that there was no room for triumphalism, he was correct to point out that the Coalition was back in business. By contrast, Labor is a hotbed of vituperation and recriminations. NSW Premier Kristina Keneally blamed Rudd and his undelivered promises for the poor NSW poll results. Gillard blamed the Labor governments in NSW and Queensland even before the campaign ended, pleading with voters to punish them, not her. The factional bosses and Gillard supporters blamed the leaks from the Rudd camp.

Others were closer to the mark. Former premier Morris Iemma says ALP national secretary Karl Bitar should be flipping hamburgers over the hopeless strategy from Sussex Street. No wonder Mark Arbib has gone into hiding, failing to show at ABC1's Q&A on Monday.

At some point, Labor may wake up to its failings. While much has been said, in time tomes will surely be written about the ALP machine's obsession with poll-driven policy and quick-draw political assassinations, its failure to manage a burned leader and its own hubris. It treated voters as mugs with ill-conceived policies, promises that stretched credulity and confused messages about a party that lost its way only to request help from its assassinated leader. And even more hubris when it underestimated its new Liberal opponent. If Labor does take a good long at itself after the election, Abbott can take the credit for that, too. Meanwhile Abbott must hope people keep underestimating him.


1 comment:

Paul said...

The new National Nursing Registration came with a massive increase in fees, and lots more less than necessary professional hoops to jump through. Nurses routinely aim for bureaucratic type positions far from the bedside as their fave career move, and academia particularly has brought mana from Heaven for the indolent self-important among us. The National Regitration Body is already shaping up as a triumph of forms over substance. Speaking of forms, you'd be amazed how many nurses get offlined in QH to do "project work" which usually invloves creating forms to be filled out, updated daily etc.

BTW Queensland Health pay bungling continues at the same level of intensity. Media has clearly lost interest, but nothing has changed.