Trumble, mumble, stumble crumble: #MarriageEquality plebiscite fiasco

August 10, 2017

The strategy of the marriage equality opponents in the Coalition is to retain the conservative status quo at all costs, says Dr Martin Hirst.

THE OPPONENTS of marriage equality came a step closer to blocking the popular move yesterday when Liberal Party MPs decided by an overwhelming majority to stick to a policy of deflecting, pretending and ignoring good sense and common sense.

Good sense should have informed them that bringing the matter forward for a free conscience vote in both houses of Parliament is what the vast majority of Australians want them to do.

Common sense should have told them that sticking to the time-wasting and false “promise” of an expensive, but non-binding plebiscite on the issue would make Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull look weak, embolden his conservative opponents in the party and proven – once again – that the Liberals are a party of reaction, blocking and bigotry, not the hopeful, social progressives Malcolm desperately wants his dwindling band of supporters to believe in.

The position adopted 28 to 7 in the Liberals’ party room was to put the non-binding plebiscite position to the Senate again with the Plan B option being an even less legitimate non-compulsory and non-binding postal vote.

This strategy seems like a rotten compromise. It is. It represents Malcolm the Appeaser at his unprincipled worst. It is a terrible plan that has the fulsome support of all the opponents of same sex union. They are the real winners; everyone else, including Turnbull, is a loser.

Just take a moment to really think through what the Liberals endorsed last night:

  • Plan A represents an idea to the Senate that it has already rejected as unworkable, unnecessary and stupid, and which the ALP, the Greens and enough cross-benchers to sink it have already said they will block.
  • Plan B is to threaten a really awful Plan B – the postal vote – in an attempt to force reluctant senators to back Plan A ‘or else’.

It’s like holding a gun to your own head during a bank robbery while high on crack cocaine and threatening to shoot the puppy unless the bank-teller gives you all the five-cent pieces. And the bank-teller be like Mate, here’s all the rolls of zacs I’ve got. It comes to seven dollars, go buy an ice cream.

Read the rest of this story at Independent Australia

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I’m back in the Press Gallery – Now what?

April 25, 2017

Political editor Dr Martin Hirst talks about being back in the Press Gallery on behalf of IA.

We’ve done it. IA has gained a place in the Canberra Press Gallery. After months of work, putting together our submission, seeking endorsements from IA subscribers and current members of the Gallery, and preparing a portfolio of my work to be scrutinised by the committee.

In the four days our GoFundMe campaign has been live we’ve already reached 75 per cent of our initial goal of $10,000.

Thanks very much to everyone who’s donated so far and to all of you who will donate. With just a little more help, it looks like we will be in Canberra for the Budget session in May.

Originally published on Independent Australia as Rejoining the Press Gallery

From application to attending

Getting back into the game was a labour of love for me. I was curious about my chances of getting back into the Press Gallery after such a long absence and on behalf of an upstart media outfit that makes friends and enemies quickly and in almost equal measure. (I’m sure we have more friends than enemies, judging your generosity so far.)

So now I’m pleased, but also apprehensive. If you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear from you.

I was only a bit confident about the outcome at first. I knew our application was pretty good and that it ticked all the Gallery’s required boxes, but that was no guarantee they’d accept it.

We applied under the rules for ‘Freelancers, Bloggers and New Organisations’, which required us to get endorsements from existing members of the Gallery. And I’d like to thank the Gallery members who endorsed our application.

I don’t know, but our path may have been made a little easier by the fact that I have previously held Gallery accreditation. I worked as a correspondent for SBS for nearly three years from 1990 to 1993, so I had experience and some credibility perhaps.

Anyway, we’re in.

I was in Canberra on the 28th and 29th of March to collect my yellow pass from the Security Pass Office and took the opportunity to escort managing editor Dave Donovan and Sydney bureau chief Ross Jones around the building.

It was quite a nostalgic trip for me and it took me all afternoon to familiarise myself with all the routes around the non-public parts of Parliament House.

It reminded me that one of the missions we have in being in the Gallery is to show you what’s behind the curtain.

A lot of the important centres of power in Canberra are hidden in plain sight. The non-public parts of the Parliament building, like George Brandis’ diaries, hold a lot of secrets that they are unwilling to share with the public.

Unfortunately, IA’s presence in the Gallery is upsetting for some NewsCorpse scribblers. I’m not going to link to their spiteful drivel and the only comment I’ve got is “Suck it up children.”

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Breaking a bad law is an act of conscience, not a crime

March 22, 2017

Show me an unjust law and I’ll happily break it

What precious snowflakes Australian political journalists are. Bernard Keane has written an excellent piece in Crikey about the hypocrisy of reporters “tut tutting” the new ACTU (and first female) secretary, Sally McManus, for suggesting that breaking an unjust law was something she – and the trade union movement – would be prepared to do.

Keane points out that reporters who regularly publish stories from leaked documents are breaking the law. He skewered Turnbull and the Liberals by pointing out that the whole of the NSW branch of the party contravened political donation laws and he noted that employers (bosses) regularly flout the tax laws, the employment law and occupational health and safety regulations in pursuit of profit.

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Where’s #FreeSpeech Bill when we need him?

February 13, 2017

The Australian’s highly-phobic cartoonist Bill Leak usually has plenty to say about freedom of speech and freedom of expression. He’s always in the frontline and mounting the Holt Street barricades whenever there’s a call to arms over some egregious complaint against his master’s voice.

You can’t silence Bleak when there’s gay Nazis to be mown down, or when a politically-correct snowflake “victim” demands equal rights, or a Muslim family claims institutional racism.

“Certainly a BLeak view”. Screenshot and artwork by @ethicalmartini

Therefore, I find it strange that he’s been eerily silent recently about the plight of fellow cartoonists who are feeling the sting of an unjust law.

The Cartoonist Rights Network International (@CRNetint on Twitter) is currently featuring three incarcerated cartoonists on its homepage:

Zunar (Image courtesy of CRNI)

(1) Zunar, a Malaysian cartoonist currently challenging state-sponsored censorship on multiple fronts. He is subject to a travel ban, is facing multiple charges of sedition, and suffers continual harassment by police and supporters of the government.

Drawing of Musa Kart from an exhibition in his honour (Used with permission)

(2) Turkish political cartoonist and Courage in Editorial Cartoon Award winner Musa Kart, who has spent over 100 days in custody after he and several colleagues from Cumhuriyet newspaper were arrested and charged with ‘crimes on behalf of the Fethullahist Terror Organisation and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)‘.

(3) The winner of the 2016 Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award Eaten Fish, who is currently held in an Australian refugee rendition camp in Papua New Guinea and who has been on a hunger strike for over 10 days.

Cartoon by Glen Le Lievre in support of Eaten Fish (Used with permission of artist)

Dave Pope is one of many international cartoonists who has drawn a powerful cartoon in support of Musa Kart as part of the CRNI’s campaign to have all three cartoonists released.

(Cartoon used with the permission of artist, David Pope)

Mr Eaten Fish is dying on Manus Island

The dire situation of Eaten Fish is yet another Manus Island horror story.

Eaten is close to death. He has been on a hunger strike because the authorities on Manus Island (which is part of Papua New Guinea) refuse to deal with his serious allegations of sexual and physical assault. He weighs only 48 kilos. The guards have told him he is to be returned to the compound where he is unsafe.

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Malcolm v Gough: Who is/was Australia’s worst Prime Minister?

August 12, 2016

It has been a stable myth of Australian politics for nearly half a century, but was the Whitlam government of 1972-1975 the “worst” in Australian history?

I don’t think so and believe we can now safely make the claim that Whitlam’s record of so-called disaster is about to be overshadowed by the ongoing disaster that the Abbott-Turnbull government appears to be.

Perhaps we might even be so bold as to suggest that Turnbull’s legacy will be his ham-fisted attempts to dismantle some of the major reforms of the Whitlam period.

Was Whitlam really “that bad”?

All the aging so-calledsuperstars” of Australian political journalism would agree that Whitlam’s crash or crash through demeanour was at times rash or ill-considered. They would also chime in that Whitlam’s cabinet was the most incompetent of all time. Laurie Oakes, Paul Kelly and several others have written books on the Whitlam government and its dismissal that paint a picture of disaster and ill-considerd policy.

They would point to the Khemlani loans affair, Jim Cairns’ sexual affair with Juni Morosi, the debacle of some economic policies and a general air of chaos, then they would claim that Whitlam and the ALP were out of their depth, not ready to govern and lacking in individual talent or vision. They would argue that Whitlam’s dismissal by the governor-general was justified.

It wasn’t really until Whitlam’s death that the achievements of his government were properly acknowledged and celebrated.

whitlam vincent

Gough Whitlam and Vincent Lingari at the birth of the land rights movement in 1975

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Can Labor win? It ain’t gonna be easy, but it ain’t impossible either

May 29, 2016

For the last few days I’ve been allowing myself to think that Bill Shorten can actually beat the Fizza on July 2nd.

I know it’s going to be tough. The odds are not necessarily in Bill’s favour and we cannot underplay the significance of an all out News Corpse attack on Labor over the next few weeks. We saw how successful this was in 2010 and 2013 and Murdoch’s hacks will pull out all stops to see Shorten defeated.

However, despite the obstacles, we could actually have a Labor government in the second half of 2016.

Share your opinion at the end of this post in the EM polldaddy poll of polls.

The math is not impossible, but it might take a few miracles.

The Fizza hits the streets

The Fizza hits the streets

In a way perhaps I’m just channeling the late Bob Ellis. He predicted a Shorten victory way back in December last year. At the time I was wishing, but not hopeful, but now I am convinced Turnbull cannot win on 2 July.

A few handfuls of votes is all it takes

To be honest, the prospect of beating Malcolm and his fizzas comes down to a few handfuls of votes in some key swing seats. Labor has to take back 17 seats and this requires a swing of around 4 per cent or a bit more. It’s not impossible for this to happen.

NSW Seats 2013 % swing to coalition Change required in two party preferred vote
Banks 3.28 2000 votes
Barton 7.1 500 votes
Dobell 5.75 700 votes
Eden-Monaro 4.85 500 votes
Lindsay 4.11 3000 votes
Page 6.71 2500 votes
Reid 3.53 500 votes
Robertson 4.0 3500 votes
Victoria Seats
Corangamite 4.22 4000 votes
Deakin 3.78 2600 votes
La Trobe 5.67 4000 votes
QLD seats
Capricorn 4.45 1600 votes
Petrie 3.04 500 votes
SA seats
Hindmarsh 7.97 2000 votes
Tasmania seats
Bass 10.78 3000 votes
Braddon 10.4 1500 votes
Lyons 13.51 800 votes

When you break it down like this even a seat like Lyons in Tasmania is winnable for Labor if around 800 electors change their vote from the coalition to Labor on a two-party preferred basis.

Lyons is an interesting example because according to the ABC’s swingometer, a swing of just 1.4 per cent to Labor would mean they win this seat. At 1.4 per cent Labor would also win Capricornia and Petrie in Queensland.

A swing of just 1.7 per cent would also give Labor the seat of Solomon in the Northern Territory. A swing of just 1.9 per cent means that Labor also gains Hindmarsh in South Australia.

A gain of 2.7 per cent in Braddon would give Labor its second Tasmanian seat. Only 2.8 per cent and the NSW seat of Banks returns to Labor.

Take the swing to an even three per cent and Labor wins nine seats including the bellwether of Eden-Monaro in NSW. Add just 0.3 per cent to that and the seats of Robertson and Page (NSW) and Deakin (Victoria) return to Labor. At 3.4 per cent Labor gains Macarthur and Reid in NSW.

Macarthur would be the first seat to change hands in 2016 that was not held by Labor before the last election. In other words, it would be a loss for Turnbull, not a seat regained by the ALP. Significantly, a uniform swing of 3.4 per cent to Labor would result in a nearly hung Parliament.

Labor would have 71 seats, the coalition 75 and four would be in the hands of independents. It is at this point that the 2016 election becomes very interesting.

A swing of 3.7 per cent would give Labor its second steal from the Coalition, delivering Bonner (Qld). It is worth noting that this would require about 4000 people to switch their votes from 2013.

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Politicising human rights – what a terrible thing to do

June 9, 2015

So, finally, in 2015 Australia the debate about human rights has become politicised.

 

It’s about time really, human rights should be a very political question. You know, discussing the politics of who does and who does not support universal human rights should be regular dinner time conversation in most normal families, or pub chatter for the more inebriated among us.

In any civilised country, one that prides itself on taking human rights seriously, the application or removal of those rights should be a matter of political discourse and close attention. Which, sadly, leads me to surmise that Australia today is losing some of its civility.

Our ability to have a sensible and sensitive conversation about the importance of human rights and to debate the failures (or the rare successes) of our government (of any stripe) in promoting human rights seems to be diminishing.

Instead the media thugs and government bullies are out to silence one of the last bastions of criticism of Australia’s uncivil and inhumane refugee policies and to shut down debate about the steady erosion of our rights through the over-reach of surveillance and through the fear-mongering around terrorism.

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