Tuesday, September 10, 2013

How come the survival of the ALP in Queensland and Western Australia?

Since nobody else seems to be addressing this, I will say something.

The recent landslide to the conservatives in the Australian federal elections was almost entirely the work of voters in NSW and Victoria.  Very little changed in Queensland and Western Australia and the South Australian results were dominated by a quite different landslide  -- to the Independent Senator Nick Xenophon.  The mind boggles about what might have happened if Xenophon had stood candidates in the lower house.

Part of the answer in both Queensland and Western Australia is that the Conservatives were already dominant in those two States.  For instance, Labor had 8 seats in Queensland before the election while the LNP had 20 seats before the election in Queensland.  So Labor were already down to a hard core there.

But what about the public opinion poll results?  Most of them showed Labor doing much worse than in fact happened.  I think that we were sold a PUP there (forgive the pun).  Clive Palmer's PUP party was the dark horse:  Lots of people who said they would vote for the LNP decided at the last minute  to vote for an independent conservative candidate  -- and Palmer is that to a degree.  So the polls weren't wrong if you lump together the  LNP and PUP as the conservative vote.

The sad thing is the preference deal Palmer did with the Greens in the Senate.  His preferences will probably install another Green Senator for Queensland.  That should upset a lot of his voters.  Nominally conservative independents Oakeshott and Windsor betrayed their voters last time around and Palmer may do similarly this time  -- JR

Tony Abbott sets a hot pace on his first day as Prime Minister

JUST 12 hours after claiming a historic election win, Tony Abbott was straight into briefings in which he discussed border security, the economy and scrapping the carbon tax.

The Prime Minister-elect headed to the Commonwealth Parliament Office in Sydney after emerging from his home at 6.30am -- a late start by Mr Abbott's standards, barefoot and in lycra -- ready for his routine morning exercise.

Mr Abbott rode with a group of long-time friends and then spent some time with his family at home.

Having declared the Sunday after an election "a working day", Mr Abbott arrived at his Sydney office about 9.30am ahead of a briefing with Dr Ian Watt, the head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

"It is important that a new government gets down to business pretty quickly because we have got a strong agenda and it is very important that we move swiftly and purposefully to implement our agenda," Mr Abbott said.

"Obviously, a very early item of business is scrapping the carbon tax. There's border security, there is economic security and the people expect, quite rightly, that the incoming government will build a strong and prosperous economy for a safe and secure Australia."

Mr Abbott promised to begin moves to scrap the carbon tax within his first week as Prime Minister.

He will get power to give such orders and implement his first 100 days program once he is sworn in by Governor-general Quentin Bryce in a ceremony expected late this week or early next week at the latest.

The Coalition has also promised to reduce the flow of boats within its first three months in office.

It came as the first boat arrived within 24 hours of the Coalition taking power, with Customs intercepting the vessel, carrying 88 passengers and two crew, north-west of Darwin.

Once sworn in, the new Government will also move to scrap the Schoolkids Bonus payments of up to $820 a child and to abolish the mining tax.

Following the briefing with Dr Watt, Mr Abbott had meetings with the head of Treasury Martin Parkinson and Finance chief David Tune.

The two men distanced themselves from former prime minister Kevin Rudd's use of Treasury advice to claim a hole in Coalition costings in an intervention that proved devastating for Labor's credibility during the election campaign.

Late yesterday, Mr Abbott received a briefing on Syria from Defence Force commander David Hurley and Department of Foreign Affairs chief Peter Varghese.

Following a phone hook-up with his leadership team, he was due to attend a function to thank his staff before going home to spend the night with his family.

Mr Abbott's sister Christine Forster said his barefoot and understated start to the day illustrated the style she believed her brother would adopt as Prime Minister.

"He is a very ordinary fellow in a lot of ways. He is very no nonsense," she said yesterday.

"I don't think he is going to be a lot of hype and hoopla in the way he goes about the job of leading the country.

"He will be very down to earth, he will be hard working, I think he will be the opposite to the hype we have seen for the past three years."

The first world leader to call Mr Abbott after his election win was British Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron who phoned on Saturday night.

"The Prime Minister offered his warmest congratulations to Prime Minister-elect Abbott and spoke of the very strong links between the two countries," Downing Street said.

"Prime Minister-elect Abbott stressed his full support for the UK, saying he looked forward to the closest possible cooperation."New Zealand Prime Minister John Key and Canadian PM Stephen Harper called yesterday morning.


Kevin Rudd slammed by Bill Glasson for gloating over Griffith victory in concession speech

LNP star candidate Bill Glasson has labelled Kevin Rudd churlish, sanctimonious, disrespectful and a smart-arse after the deposed prime minister used his concession speech to brag about victory in his own seat.

Giving his speech on Saturday night, Mr Rudd said: "It would be un-prime ministerial of me to say, 'Bill Glasson, eat your heart out,' so I won't."

Mr Rudd's primary vote in his seat of Griffith was more than 1000 behind that of the Dr Glasson at last count, but the former prime minister will hold on to his seat as a result of preferences.

His primary vote was sitting at just over 27,700 and Dr Glasson's at 28,900-plus with about 73 per cent of the vote counted.

Dr Glasson, who is returning to work as an ophthalmologist, described Mr Rudd's parting shot at him as "disrespectful" and said it showed a lack of humility.  "I thought that was rather churlish," he said.

He added he may consider running for the seat again if Mr Rudd walked away from politics.  However he would be less likely to have another go if he was forced to wait three years to do so.

"If he's going to pull a by-election sort of short term, it could possibly interest me," he said.  "If he's going to go the three years - and I do hope he goes three years for the sake of the people of Griffith - then I'd have to look at the situation then."

The political newcomer said he believed the LNP had delivered Mr Rudd "a good kick in the pants" through its primary vote in Griffith.  "So he doesn't need to be too sanctimonious with his sort of smart-arse comment last night," he said.

Dr Glasson said that both camps had always "treated each other with respect", with volunteers getting along well.

"I was more disappointed last night, not so much for myself - because I suppose I expected that to beat him was unrealistic - but I was disappointed for my team because they had worked so hard," he said.

Griffith was one of many Queensland Labor seats the party managed to retain at the weekend.


An Australian government friendlier to Israel

by Isi Leibler, formerly a prominent member of the Australian Jewish community  -- now based in Israel

Australia’s election results are good news for the Israel-Australia relationship. Labor party incumbent Kevin Rudd, who held office for less than three months following a coup against former prime minister Julia Gillard, lost by a landslide, bringing an end to six years of Labor government. Rudd is a political chameleon who abandoned Australia’s long-standing pro-Israel position when he previously served as prime minister from 2007 to 2010.

The victorious Tony Abbott of the center-right Liberal party is an outspoken friend of the Jewish state.

He has pledged to improve relations with Israel, toughen the government’s approach toward terrorist organizations and end financial support for organizations connected to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaign against Israel. These results therefore represent a sea change in Israel-Australia relations.

Before assuming office in 2007, prime minister Rudd portrayed himself as a Christian Zionist. But in office, he launched a campaign to downgrade Australia’s relationship with Israel. He reduced Australian support for Israel at the UN and adopted policies akin to those of hostile European countries.

Gillard, who displaced him in 2010, made efforts to revive the friendly relations with Israel. But after Bob Carr was appointed foreign minister in March 2012, the relationship again began to decline.

Carr, a former state premier, was a founding member of the parliamentary Labor Friends of Israel and had previously been considered a friend of the Jewish community. However, in 2003, he awarded the Sydney Peace Prize to Palestinian propagandist Hannah Ashrawi, and since then has become increasingly critical, insisting that he understood better than Israelis what was in their best interest.

After visiting Israel in August 2012, Carr intensified the campaign to solicit support for Australia’s UN Security Council candidature by cozying up to Arab governments, even sending a delegation to Iran.

Distancing Australia from Israel was obviously crucial to win the Arab vote and he succeeded in compelling prime minister Gillard to reverse her decision to vote against accepting the Palestinian Authority as a member state at the UN General Assembly, stating: “I don’t apologize for the fact that Australia has interests in the Arab world. If we had voted no, that would have been a heavy blow to our interests in over 20 countries. The truth is they all see this as a bedrock issue.”

Foreign Minister Carr stunned the Australian Jewish community a few weeks ago when he told Muslims at a Sydney mosque, “I’ve been to Ramallah, I’ve spoken to the Palestinian leadership, and we support their aspirations to have a Palestinian state in the context of a Middle East peace... we say unequivocally: All settlements on Palestinian land are illegal under international law and should cease.”

Australia’s Jewish community leaders condemned the statement and the AIJAC, the Australian Jewish lobby equivalent of AIPAC in the US, accused Carr of having “altered a long-standing bipartisan policy in Australia by repeatedly asserting a contentious and disputed legal claim... which... potentially undermines progress towards a negotiated two-state resolution to the conflict.”

Australia’s long-standing friendship with Israel dates back to Australian troops serving in Palestine in both world wars. From 1948 until recently, both the Labor and Liberal parties consistently allied themselves with the Jewish state (the only major aberration was prime minister Gough Whitlam’s hostility during the Yom Kippur War).

Both parties also supported broader Jewish concerns.

In 1962, Australia became the first country in the world to raise the issue of Soviet Jewry at the UN, condemning anti-Semitism and calling for the right of Jews to emigrate. Successive governments made major global contributions toward ameliorating the plight of Soviet Jews. Australia was directly involved in efforts to rescind the infamous 1975 UN resolution that equated Zionism with racism. It also served as an intermediary for Jewish leaders seeking to promote diplomatic relations between Israel and Asian countries.

Australian Jewry, which numbers approximately 120,000, includes the highest proportion of Holocaust survivors of any Diaspora community and is one of the most Zionist Jewish communities in the world. 15,000 Australians – more than 10 percent of the entire community – have made aliya and strengthen the relationship.

The “Lucky Country” enabled hard-working Jewish immigrants, many of whom were penniless Holocaust survivors, to prosper. While a Jewish underclass exists, a number emerged to become the leading commercial and industrial giants in the nation, many of whom were appointed to prominent roles in public life, including two governor-generals. The immigrants created a thriving Jewish cultural and religious community establishing a broad range of Jewish day schools ranging from Chabad to Reform.

Community leaders are united and do not hesitate to confront their government when they consider it biased or guilty of applying a double standard against Israel. The community can take much of the credit for its country’s historic support for Israel.

Traditionally, most Jews tended to support Labor rather than the Liberal party which was originally perceived as being aloof toward Jews and even anti- Semitic. However this has changed in recent years and Jews are more inclined to direct their support according to individual economic and social predilections.

This week’s election is a case in point. Even though Israel was not a major electoral issue, it is believed that because of the government’s hostility toward Israel, Australian Jewish voters went even further than the general public in expressing a broad lack of confidence in prime minister Rudd and the Labor leadership.

The community came out strongly for the Liberal party and Tony Abbott, who has been leader of the opposition in the House of Representatives since 2009. Abbott has been a passionate friend of Israel since his first visit to the country as a young man and subsequently as an MP prior to being elected leader of the party. He is a protégé of former prime minister John Howard, recognized as having been one of Israel’s greatest champions among world statesmen. It is anticipated that the new government headed by Abbot will foster robust support for Israel on par with that of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

It is also ironic that, whereas the former Labor government abandoned Israel in order to procure Arab support for its candidature to the UN Security Council, the Arabs will have effectively guaranteed the appointment of what will in all likelihood be the most pro-Israel government on the council.

The Australian Jewish community leaders now face the challenge of restoring Australia’s bipartisan policy towards Israel. Jewish organizations, particularly AIJAC, must focus their efforts on restoring ties with Labor leaders. Despite the powerful influence of 500,000 Muslims in a number of key electorates, most Labor MPs retain positive attitudes toward the Jewish state and the prospects for restoring Labor’s commitment to Israel are good.



Paul said...

I do find it amusing when people like Leibler call themselves Australians. Australia has been very useful to him and his ilk. Pity their respect for us isn't up with the respect they demand from us.

Stwfan v said...

Objection! Abbott is significantly more dangerous than Rudd. Rhodes Scholar, Jesuit trained, a consummate politician. Significantly more intelligent, much better actor, better disciplined. This is a great example of why I refuse to vote. To participate in the either/or farce is to lend it legitimacy it does not deserve. Abbott is no more a conservative than Rudd. The danger lies in his subtlety and acceptability. He might appear to be a great friend of Israel, but so will the Antichrist. No, Tony isn't him, but he'd be good mates with him. Better learn to look these gift horses in the mouth; and the lesser of two evils is still evil.

Paul said...

Seems to be a whole choir invisible of anti-Christs on the conservative side over the years, both here and in the US. Still waiting for one to actually shoot fire out of his eyes while laughing diabolically on election night. Now THAT would be worth coming for.