Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Australian govt. finally wins majority after fierce election fight

Australia's ruling conservatives finally secured a parliamentary majority following a protracted election vote count, projections showed Monday.

The incumbent Liberal/National coalition, which declared victory on Sunday after the Labor opposition conceded defeat eight days after national polls, secured 76 seats in the 150-seat lower House of Representatives, according to national broadcaster ABC.

The tightly contested July 2 election followed three years of turbulence in Canberra, where two sitting prime ministers were deposed by their own parties in a "revolving door" of leaders.

The ABC projections said the coalition secured two additional seats in Queensland, where just hundreds of votes divided the two major parties, in an election in which populist minor parties and independents won more representation in parliament.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull acknowledged the challenges his conservative bloc faced in the new parliament Sunday and promised to value the agendas of everyone who was elected, even if they held views contrary to his party.

"It is my commitment to work in every way possible to ensure that the crossbenchers (members from minor parties and independents) feel that they have access to all of the information they need and all of the resources they need to be able to play their role in this Parliament," he told reporters in Sydney.

Despite the projections of a lower house majority, Turnbull is likely to face opposition in the upper house Senate over a key part of his government's May budget -- multi-billion-dollar corporate tax cuts to shore up an economy shifting away from a dependence on mining investment.

Australian elections, held every three years, usually sees the incumbent government given more than one term of rule.

But last Saturday's vote showed how close the Labor opposition, led by former union leader Bill Shorten, was to returning to power just three years after being ousted.

Turnbull is expected to swear in his new cabinet next week with the Governor-General Peter Cosgrove, who is currently in France for Bastille Day commemorations.


Journalists out of touch in deceptive election campaign

The debasement of Australia’s political and media culture was on full show this past week: some politicians are prepared to say black is white in the sure knowledge many journalists will not call them out.

As if to highlight the folly­, the Standard & Poor’s agency last Thursday placed the nation’s AAA credit rating on negative watch.

All week journalists from the national broadcaster and much of the print and commercial electronic media seemed to agree with Bill Shorten that Labor’s dishonest Medicare scare had shown up the Coalition for being out of touch with voters.

Even Malcolm Turnbull kicked this along, saying on Tuesday that the government had left fertile ground for the scare in its 2014 budget. Yet S&P shows it is Labor, the Greens and their voters who are out of touch with reality.

This is the price the nation is paying for a collapse in media business models and the triumph of US-style negative campaign politics.

The 2014 budget recommended a small Medicare co-­payment of exactly the kind Labor wanted to introduce under former prime minister Bob Hawke 25 years ago. It was the only budget since 2010 that sought to deal with the issue S&P is warning about.

If Australia is to answer the challenge it will need to wind back much of the excessive government largesse built into the budget by John Howard and Peter Costello during the first round of the China boom between 2004 and 2007.

Once upon a time national leaders could advocate for difficult policy changes that would make some voters worse off.

Leaders in the press gallery once would press the cause of reform in the national interest.

But now about half of all Australian voters receive more in government payments than they shell out in tax. Young journalists push the cause of higher welfare as though they were social workers.

Nor are most media organisations doing the on-the-ground reporting work they did in previous decades. How did so few people pick the return of the One Nation vote in regional Queensland? And why was Pauline Hanson given celebrity status on so many television programs?

Many senior journalists have had to admit they read this campaign wrongly. Even now none seems to have realised their oracle, pollster Textor Crosby, road-tested an almost identical positive campaign at the last Queensland election, when Campbell Newman lost government in 2015 after a 78 seats to seven landslide in 2012.

Despite polling close to 50:50 for months and a trend moving in Shorten’s favour, many journalists were happy to accept the line from “Coalition sources” that the government was on track to hold its marginal seats.

Time for some home truths for reporters, editors and news ­directors: every time a left wing jour­nalist or Labor MP claims the budget has deteriorated more ­rapidly since the Coalition took power, remember this.

Wayne Swan, who in his 2012 budget speech claimed to be announcing four surpluses, never faced falling revenue after the GFC. He was simply unable to contain spending growth, which was rising even faster than his booming China receipts. What he called revenue writedowns were actually rises of 6 per cent or more a year, but less than his overly optimistic forecasts of 8 per cent-plus a year.

The Coalition faced real declining revenue because of the collapse of iron ore and coal prices in 2014-15. Don’t let commentators claim Turnbull’s problem is he sold out his progressive policies on gay marriage and global warming. The count shows he lost nearly a million votes on his right flank.

It has been very likely since early last week that the Coalition would form a majority government on the back of pre-poll and postal votes lodged before the Medicare lie. Don’t let Labor spin you about this.

Shorten is being allowed to frame the election as a triumph despite a likely loss by up to 10 seats. Don’t report Shorten’s ­spurious claims about an early election. He is using that claim to keep his own troops in line.

News editors need to insist their journalists call out falsehoods in press conferences. Both Shorten and his Treasury spokesman Chris Bowen have previously advocated corporate tax cuts. They went to the election with higher deficits, higher spending and higher borrowing. How can reporters all last week have allowed Labor MPs to warn of imminent budget blocking tactics when only a week earlier Labor accepted $30 billion of so-called zombie cuts? Will reporters now let Labor get away with blocking savings it counted in its own election costings?

Do reporters know the Medicare rebate freeze Shorten claims is the basis for his Medicare scare was introduced by Labor in its 2013 budget? Are reporters going to let Labor continue to claim the government, which has presided over the highest bulk-billing rates in the history of Medicare, has cut $57bn from health when Labor ­itself only committed $2bn more to health than the Coalition?

Labor lost the election. Its primary vote, at 35.2 per cent, is its second lowest since World War II. Not only did it need a lie to save its primary, in truth it owes much of its position to Kevin Rudd, who in 2013 saved at least 15 seats that would have fallen under Julia ­Gillard.

As Simon Benson pointed out in Friday’s Sydney Daily Telegraph, this election is analogous to John Howard’s narrow 1998 GST election win. Howard went on to win in 2001 and 2004. It is not similar to Julia Gillard’s 2010 election win when she and Abbott both secured 72 seats.

Finally, don’t let reporters make themselves feel good by going to war with Pauline Hanson. As editor-in-chief of Queensland Newspapers when One Nation won 11 seats and 24 per cent of the vote at the 1998 state election, one thing I know from leaked Labor polling is that Hanson’s vote rises when she is subject to hostile, hectoring interviews like those by Maxine McKew and Ray Martin in the last week of that campaign. Her vote doubled over the course of the week.


Australian federal election 2016: Coalition hopes of passing the ABCC bills are growing - and Pauline Hanson could hold the key

Coalition hopes are rising that it will be able to claim the votes needed to re-establish the construction watchdog and set up a Registered Organisations commission, while Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull finally won the 76 seats needed to form majority government.

The Queensland seats of Flynn and Capricornia fell on Monday to the Coalition, meaning he will not have to rely on the lower house crossbench MPs to govern.

Labor claimed the West Australian seat of Cowan and these results took the Coalition to 76 seats, Labor to 67, with five MPs on the crossbench and two undecided.

In the Senate, ABC election analyst Antony Green told Fairfax Media it was likely there would be 30 Coalition senators to be elected, 27 Labor senators, eight Greens senators, three Xenophon senators, three Hanson senators, and independents Jacqui Lambie and Derryn Hinch - with three Senate spots in NSW, Queensland and WA undecided.

Coalition strategists had initially feared that re-establishing the Howard-era Australian Building and Construction Commission and setting up the Registered Organisations commission to monitor union governance, which provided the double dissolution trigger, would be more difficult because of the likely expansion of the Senate crossbench and the loss of about a dozen Coalition MPs in the lower house

But government insiders now believe they may be able to lock in at least 112 of the 114 votes needed and, depending on the results in the two undecided lower house seats of Hindmarsh and Herbert and three Senate seats, the bills are a good chance to pass in a joint sitting.

Senator-elect Pauline Hanson and her two colleagues are likely to have a key say in deciding the fate of the laws.

To pass a bill in a joint sitting, 114 of 226 MPs from the combined houses must vote for the law.

In a range of scenarios being war-gamed inside the Turnbull government, the Coalition believes it is possible it could claim 79 votes from lower house MPs, including up to 77 of its own MPs, independent Cathy McGowan, who backed the bills in the last Parliament and Xenophon MP Rebekha Sharkie, as well 30 of its own senators and the three Xenophon senators.

NXT party leader Nick Xenophon has flagged support for the laws, subject to amendments. That would lock in 112 votes of the 114 votes required for an absolute majority - and mean that two more votes from any of the three One Nation senators and independent Derryn Hinch would be needed to pass the laws.

There is also a chance NSW Liberal Democratic senator David Leyonhjelm, who backs the laws, will be re-elected, while a Nationals senator in Western Australia may also be elected.

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson told Fairfax Media on Monday that she wanted a briefing on the two bills before making up her mind. "I will need to have a look at the legislation, talk to all parties and until I have done that I won't make up my mind."

Mr Hinch said he would talk to both sides before making up his mind on the bills.

Employment Minister Michaelia Cash said that "nothing has altered the government's commitment to these two pieces of legislation – their passage through the Parliament will deliver significant benefits to all Australians and they therefore remain priorities for the Turnbull Coalition."


Muslim savagery in action in Australia

Zandipour is an Iranian surname so the offender is almost certainly Muslim

A SIX second attack has turned into at least 16 years behind bars for killer Kyle Sirious Zandipour.

He was found guilty of murdering Melbourne University student Joshua Hardy in 2014 outside a McDonald’s restaurant on St Kilda Road in Melbourne.

He stomped on Joshua’s head and bashed him to death, in an attack the court heard only lasted six seconds.

Zandipour was sentenced to a maximum of 20 years on Tuesday — with a non-parole period of 16 years — by Victorian Supreme Court Justice Karin Emerton.

Zandipour, 29, was a Melbourne banker when he saw Joshua, 21, at the fast food restaurant.

Joshua was at a 21st in October 2014, and was in the taxi home when he decided to detour for a late night snack at McDonald’s.

He asked to borrow a phone from one of Zandipour’s friends and was pushed away.  Zandipour, who had never met Mr Hardy before, then threw him on the ground and stomped on him. The court was told it was a “truly frightening display of violence”.

Joshua’s father, David Hardy, said moments of madness could have undying consequences.  “Two young lives are shattered. Friends and family of all involved are broken,” he said.

“Everybody loses when it comes to social violence, so please step back and think because actions have consequences. Tragic and devastating consequences for all involved.”

Zandipour pleaded not guilty to murder but was found guilty by a Supreme Court jury in May.


Hive of innovation found at Australian and NZ universities

A world-first study on innovation in Higher Education by the Australian Innovation Research Centre (AIRC) at University of Tasmania and the LH Martin Institute at University of Melbourne, has shown that Australian and New Zealand universities are prolific innovators.

The report, based on a comprehensive survey investigating the managerial and administrative functions of 39 Australian and six New Zealand universities has found that the majority of universities have implemented significant innovative measures in the last two years.

These include implementing faster processes for service and providing better support for students and teaching and learning activities.

Professor Leo Goedegebuure of the LH Martin Institute, co-author of the report, said that the high innovation rate is very similar to the results of other surveys of public sector organisations in Europe and Australia.

“Universities give a great deal of importance to improving the student experience, which is the largest reason given for innovating and trying new approaches.”

Professor Anthony Arundel of the AIRC, the other co-author, explained that the type of innovation also depends on the function.

“For inward facing functions like human resources and financial services, the biggest drive for innovation is the need to do more with the same amount of resources.

“While for outward facing functions like marketing and communication, the biggest motivation is to improve the student experience and their university’s brand or reputation”.

The report also found that innovation depends on the organisation’s culture. The research identified a link between senior executive support for a positive innovation culture and the percentage of staff involved in innovation.

According to Professor Goedegebuure, the research paints a different picture to what is typically thought of about the sector.

“The report shows that universities are very serious about process and product innovation, and that a lot of effort is being placed on doing the right things with the public resources they receive.”

“It also shows our universities adopting state-of-the-art methods, being open and collaborative, which in turn suggests that we have the capability to play a key role in a new, knowledge-based economy”.

Press release

Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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