Archive for the ‘International Politics’ Category

September Public Polls

October 6th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar


Just published the monthly polling newsletter. The executive summary is:

There were three political voting polls in September – a Roy Morgan, a One News Colmar Brunton and a 3 News Reid Research.

 The average of the public polls has National 14% ahead of Labour in September, down 8% from August back to what it was in July. The current seat projection is centre-right 58 seats, centre-left 54 which would see NZ First holding the balance of power.

We show the current New Zealand poll averages for party vote, country direction and preferred PM compared to three months ago, a year ago, three years ago and nine years ago. This allows easy comparisons between terms and Governments.

In the United States Hillary Clinton’s favourability continues to drop, reaching -13%. Donald Trump also has falling favourability hitting -20%. Both Clinton and Trump remains the leaders in the polls for their nominations though.

In the UK Jeremy Corbyn faces considerable challenges with 32% of Labour voters saying they think David Cameron would be a better Prime Minister than Corbyn. Personal beliefs of Corbyn such as withdrawing from NATO have only 9% support. Also in a significant change there is now a plurality in favour of leaving the EU, in the wake of the refugee crisis.

In Australia Malcolm Turnbull has a honeymoon. The Coalition has gained a net 10% on the two party preferred vote. Turnbull has a net approval rating of +34% compared to his predecessor Abbott who had -33% and Opposition Leader Shorten on -25%.

In Canada a fairy dramatic change with the campaign underway, seeing the Conservatives gain 5% and retake the lead. However projections still have them well off getting a majority.

We also carry details of polls on the NZ Flag, private prisons, Labour Deputy Leadership, foreign investment, the TPP plus the normal business and consumer confidence polls.

This newsletter is normally only available by e-mail.  If you would like to receive future issues, please go to to subscribe yourself.


TPP negotiations concluded

October 6th, 2015 at 6:50 am by David Farrar

It’s taken eight years, but the TPP negotiations have now been concluded. They started under Labour and Phil Goff in early 2008 and it has expanded from five countries (the original P4 and USA) to 12 countries, with another six saying they may join also.

Before I look at the substance, I think it is worth reflecting that just getting an agreement is significant. The Doha round of WTO multi-lateral negotiations has been going on for 15 years, and is far from complete (and may never complete). This is the largest trade agreement since the Uruguay round completed in 1994.

The New Zealand Government has had many negotiators working on this for the last eight years – from MFAT, and from other agencies such as MBIE. This has been their life month in and month out with 19 rounds of negotiations.and 23 meetings of chief negotiators and/or ministers. I’ve got to meet a few of them over the years and they’re extremely dedicated and effective public servants, who will be very pleased to see this work complete.

In terms of the substance, there seem to be three broad themes.

  1. Eventual elimination of all tariffs in all industries except beef and dairy
  2. Minor concessions from Canada on dairy but better deal with Japan on beef (tariff dropping from 40% to 9%)
  3. Most of the potentially “bad” stuff has been resisted (change to Pharmac model, the US demands on ISP liability for copyright, tobacco companies can’t use ISDS provisions)

This is not a gold plated deal, as was the aspiration. Canada and Japan especially have been unwilling to fully open up their markets to competition. Canada has almost a soviet style dairy system where a 30 cow farm has a quota worth $1 million. Some cows sell for almost $200,000 due to the law restricting either domestic or international competition. So incumbents quota owners fight hard against losing their quota, just as taxi firms fight hard against Uber.

With the benefit of hindsight, it may have been better to not allow Canada and Japan to join the TPP. They promised in joining that they understood the aim was the elimination of all tariffs. But their domestic pressures were too great. However the argument to have them in, is that the US would have been less able to get fast track approval through Congress without those two large economies as part of the deal.

But while the benefits are less than what they could have been, it will still be a beneficial agreement for NZ. As Helen Clark said, you’d be basically nuts to walk away from a deal with 40% of the world’s economy. And the net benefit to the NZ economy through the tariff removals and overall agreement is (I understand) in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

There are always some dead rats to swallow in deals, but we appear to have avoided the larger nastier ones. When the full text is released in a month, we’ll have a clearer idea, but the US Trade Representative has a summary of each of the 30 chapters. The removal of tobacco companies from ISDS provisions will reassure many, the US failed to get much progress on extending drug patents, the Pharmac model is unchanged, and the early US demands on Internet and intellectual property issues (some of which were deeply concerning) appear to have fallen away, and the current chapter seems reasonably palatable. That is not to say there won’t be some stuff in there which we’d rather not have at all. For example the length of term of copyright looks set to be extended by 20 years. This is stupid, when in fact copyright terms (life + 50 years) are already too long in NZ. But from what I can see the negatives in the TPP are outweighed by the positives by a very considerable margin.

The FTA with China has been hugely beneficial to New Zealand. Parties such as NZ First and the Greens which opposed it should be embarrassed, as exports to China skyrocketed since the FTA, resulting in billions of extra dollars into the NZ economy. The history of our trade deals is that the benefits and increases in exports have almost always been far greater than anticipated.

UPDATE: The Beehive site has some details on the deal. The savings on tariffs, once full implemented by sector are:

  • Dairy $102 million
  • Meat $72 million
  • Fruit and vegetables $26 million
  • Other agriculture $18 million
  • Wine $10 million
  • Manufacturing $10 million
  • Forestry $9 million
  • Fish $8 million
  • Wool $4 million
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UK to vote soon on air strikes in Syria

October 5th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

MPs are moving towards a consensus in favour of military action against Islamic State in Syria, Philip Hammond has said.

Speaking at the Conservative party conference in Manchester, the foreign secretary declared there was a growing feeling in parliament that something must be done to tackle Isis in its Syrian stronghold as well as Iraq.

“We have made a very clear commitment that before we get involved in airstrikes in Syria – other than very targeted cases where we are dealing with direct threats to the UK – yes, we would come back to parliament and get the authorisation,” he told the BBC after addressing the main hall.

“And I think there is a sense that there is a beginning of consensus now in parliament that this has to be dealt with, that we have to take the fight with IS to Raqqa in Syria, rather than just attacking them in Iraq.”

His comments suggest the government is feeling more confident about calling a vote in the Commons, which David Cameron will only do if he knows he can win. The prime minister would need to rely on some Labour votes, given the number of his own party who would be likely to rebel.

Although the Labour conference voted not to support strikes without UN backing, many of the party’s MPs are known to be sympathetic to the government’s aims as long as a good case is made to parliament.

It will be fascinating to see how many Labour MPs vote in favour, and how many Conservative MPs vote against. The last time the Commons voted, the motion was lost. But it looks like the growing threat of ISIL has changed things.


Another terror attack in Australia

October 4th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar reports:

THE gunman who shot dead a police worker in Sydney was a 15-year-old boy of Iraqi-Kurdish background who was born in Iran and his actions were linked to terrorism, police say.

“We believe that his actions were politically motivated and therefore linked to terrorism,” NSW Police Commissioner, Andrew Scipione told reporters in Sydney

The teenager, a naturalised Australian who arrived with his family from Iran, had walked to the police headquarters in Charles Street from his home in North Parramatta before opening fire on a civilian police employee, who has been identified as Curtis Cheng.

Islamist inspired terrorist attacks are becoming a regular event in Australia. I hope I’m wrong, but it is probably just a matter of time until we get them here.


Another luddite city

October 3rd, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

AP reports:

The city that hosts next year’s Olympic Games has become the first in Brazil to ban the use of smartphone-based ride-hailing-applications like Uber.

Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes on Tuesday signed legislation recently passed by Rio’s city council banning Uber and similar technologies from operating in the city.

“Uber is forbidden,” Paes said after signing the bill. “We are open to discuss the matter, but it is forbidden.”

How preposterous. Corrupt legislators banning a service that their citizens wish to use, because they don’t want to get offside with a powerful industry.

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Key endorses Clark, not Rudd

October 2nd, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

At a meeting with Key in New York on Thursday (NZT), Clark said she would “neither confirm nor deny” she would be seeking the top job – “as was said about nuclear weapons for many years”.

But Key is offering his wholehearted backing should she decide to throw her hat in the ring, saying Clark would be the best person for the job. 

“I’m doing everything I can and will do if she becomes the genuine runner for secretary general … I genuinely think she will be a great leader of he UN and hope she gets there.”

That included having a word in the ear of other world leaders including “one or two I play golf or hang with”, Key said – a reference to US President Barack Obama, who he has joined on the golf course previously.

Key said it would be huge for New Zealand if Clark won the job and the fact they were once rivals “wouldn’t stop me having a lot of pride in her” if she succeeded.

I think it will be someone from Eastern Europe, but if the regional rotation system breaks down, then of course we should back Clark. Regardless of your views of her as PM, having a NZer achieve the top UN job would be huge.

A rival challenger could be Australia’s Kevin Rudd, whose move to the US has fuelled speculation that he intends throwing his hat in the ring.

Key said he had heard the speculation but had not spoken to Rudd about it.

Asked if he would support Rudd’s bid Key said: “If he stood and no one else did we’d back him.”

Oh that is hilarious – we’d back Rudd if no one else stands. Laughing out loud. Talk about damning with faint praise.

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I’m on Australia’s side

October 1st, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

It could soon be time to introduce laws to treat Australians in New Zealand as poorly as Kiwis are received across the Tasman, the Maori Party says.

If this means deporting Australians who do serious crimes, I’m in favour.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop met New Zealand counterpart Murray McCully and Prime Minister John Key in New York this week.

Afterwards, she said the Australian Government would talk further about its policy of detaining and deporting non-Australian offenders who have served a prison sentence of a year or more. Ms Bishop said she would ask Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to speak to New Zealand Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse but gave no indication that the policy would be reviewed. That meeting has not been scheduled.

If Australia was deporting people for incredibly minor offences such as say one shoplifting offence after 30 years of living there, then that would be stupid. But to get a jail sentence of one year or more requires a relatively serious or persistent level of offending, and why would Australia want to keep criminals they don’t want to?

If you are a Kiwi living in Australia and don’t want to be deported back to NZ, then there’s two ways you can do that.

  1. Stop committing crimes
  2. Become an Australian citizen, which you can do after four years in Australia

A thaw with Fiji

October 1st, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The curtain has finally been drawn on a near decade-long freeze on top-level relations between New Zealand and Fiji.

Prime Minister John Key and his Fijian counterpart Frank Bainimarama on Tuesday (early Wednesday, NZ time) held a formal bilateral talk on the fringes of the United Nations general assembly  – the first since the military overthrow of Fiji’s elected government in 2006. …

After posing for photographs and having a quick chat about rugby Key and Bainimarama withdrew to a private room to continue their meeting, with talks expected to focus on Fiji’s role in the Pacific. They will also canvass the likelihood of a top-level visit by Key.

Relations between New Zealand and Fiji soured following the 2006 coup and diplomatic relations have only been restored since Bainimarama’s government was democratically elected in 2014.

Good to see relations heading back to normal. One can disapprove of the coup and the behaviour of the military Government. But by all accounts Fiji had fair democratic elections, and is functioning again under the rule of law. it will be good to have the two Governments working together.


New UN goals very vague

September 29th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

In 2000, the UN adopted eight Millennium Development Goals for 2000 to 2015. They were:

  • Goal 1: Eradicate Extreme Hunger and Poverty
  • Goal 2: Achieve Universal Primary Education
  • Goal 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women
  • Goal 4: Reduce Child Mortality
  • Goal 5: Improve Maternal Health
  • Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases
  • Goal 7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability
  • Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development

They were reasonably specific, and in most of the eight areas there has been significant progress, namely:

  • Goal 1: Eradicate Extreme Hunger and Poverty – down from 47% to 14%
  • Goal 2: Achieve Universal Primary Education – up from 83% to 91%
  • Goal 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women – ratio of girls to boys in education in Southern Asia up from 74 per 100 to 103.
  • Goal 4: Reduce Child Mortality – down from 90 per 1,000 to 43
  • Goal 5: Improve Maternal Health – maternal mortality rate down 45%
  • Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases – new HIV infections down 40%
  • Goal 7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability – 2.1 billion people have improved sanitation
  • Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development – ODA spending up 66%

Now I don’t think much of the progress is just because the UN made them a goal. It helps having the focus, but the reduction in extreme poverty for example is due to China and India embracing a more market economy.

But it is not a bad thing for there to be specific development goals, rather than have no co-ordination or targets. So the MDGs generally have been a good thing.

But the 17 new goals to replace this seem like waffle which are so broad, they won’t actually provide any focus. The 17 new goals are:

  • 1. No Poverty
  • 2. No Hunger
  • 3. Good Health and Well-being
  • 4. Quality Education
  • 5. Gender Equality
  • 6. Clean Water and Sanitation
  • 7. Affordable and Clean Energy
  • 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • 9. Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • 10. Reduce Inequalities
  • 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 12. Responsible Consumption and Production
  • 13. Climate Action
  • 14. “Life Below Water”
  • 15. Life on Land
  • 16. “Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions”
  • 17. Partnerships For the Goals

Take the targets for Goal 5. There is no hard measures there. Just aspirational statements about ending all forms of discrimination against all women. Well we know that isn’t going to happen in any country with sharia law.

If I do a comparison back to NZ, the health system here under Labour had almost 100 goals, targets and aims. And it was shambolic. National introduced just six to eight specific but achievable targets and the health system and staff have done a great job of achieving them. Fewer goals with specific targets is better than lots of goals.

So I think the 17 global goals will be far far less effective than the MDGs they are replacing. And that is a pity.


The challenge for Corbyn

September 29th, 2015 at 11:05 am by David Farrar


This poll from the New Statesman shows very well the difference between appealing to the base, appealing to your own voters and appealing to potential voters for your party.

Corbyn supporters are very left wing. Only 20% think competition is good, 67% want more taxes, 65% want private schools abolished and 65% want to abolish the monarchy.

Now even among firm Labour voters, their views are quite different. 38% support markets, only 38% support higher taxes, and 42% want private schools abolished.

But go out to the potential voters UK Labour needs to win, and there 58% support competition, only 19% want higher taxes and only 25% want private schools gone.

So how can Corbyn’s policies win Labour an election? Stuffed if I know.

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UK Labour Shadow Minister wants to campaign against eating meat!

September 25th, 2015 at 1:35 pm by David Farrar

Just as you think they can’t get more lunatic, they do.

The Guardian reports:

The new shadow environment secretary believes meat should be treated in the same way as tobacco, with public campaigns to stop people eating it, according to an interview she gave to a vegan magazine. …

“I really believe that meat should be treated in exactly the same way as tobacco with public campaigns to stop people eating it.”

This is not some obscure backbench MP. This is their shadow environment secretary. Absolutely bonkers.


I love British humour

September 24th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar



Can the EU force countries to take refugees?

September 24th, 2015 at 11:21 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The European Union approved a plan on Tuesday (Wednesday NZ Time) to share out 120,000 refugees across its 28 states, overriding vehement opposition from four ex-communist eastern nations.

Diplomats said interior ministers meeting in Brussels had voted to launch the scheme, backed by Germany and other big powers, in order to tackle the continent’s worst refugee crisis since World War Two.

The Czech minister tweeted that he had voted against, along with colleagues from Slovakia, Romania and Hungary, with Finland abstaining.

So being a member of the EU now means other countries decide your refugee quota for you.  What will they do if countries refuse?

At present most in the UK want to remain in the EU, but how the EU deals with this issue may change that.

Prague had earlier warned that any attempt to impose such a scheme would be unworkable and could end in “big ridicule” for governments and EU authorities.

“We will soon realise that the emperor has no clothes. Common sense lost today,” Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec tweeted after the vote.

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said pushing through the quota system had “nonsensically” caused a deep rift over a highly sensitive issue and that, “as long as I am prime minister”, Slovakia would not implement a quota.

And worse:

“If we fail to find the right solution in the long term, the migrant crisis could truly threaten the existence of the European Union. But I am not a pessimist, I believe that we will find joint measures,” Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar told Reuters in an interview.

The reason for the opposition:

Eastern states with no tradition of integrating large numbers of Muslims are anxious about the impact on their societies and keen to avoid any signal that might encourage even more desperate people to set sail across the Mediterranean for Europe.

This is the same issue Australia has had. If you don’t take a hard line, then you encourage hundreds of thousands more to set sail.

Countries should take refugees – but from the refugee camps through the UNHCR system. Encouraging people to set sail to Europe will only end badly.

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Hehir on voter dissatisfaction

September 22nd, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

At first blush, a frugal and soft-spoken British socialist who bicycles to work has little in common with an ostentatious American billionaire with gold-plated seatbelt buckles on his private jet. And the differences between Donald Trump and Jeremy Corbyn don’t end at wealth and lifestyle.

Trump is an overgrown wide boy with an eye for the chance. Sensing that the biggest prize in world politics is within grasping distance, he has thrown off his image as a pragmatic liberal to claim the mantle of populist conservative hero. And it is a real feat of the man’s ability as an entertainer and sheer brazenness that he has been able to do this despite a history of crony capitalism very much at odds with the Republican grassroots.

Corbyn, on the other hand, has become Britain’s Leader of the Opposition through a long career  of principled politics. It is true that the principles in question tend to be either backwards (in the case of economics), naïve (in matters of national security) or repellent (in relation to terrorist groups like the IRA, Hamas and Hezbollah).  However, we are talking about a man who divorced his wife over his opposition to their son going to an academically selective grammar school. Whatever else Corbyn is, he is no hypocrite.

One is a phony, the other a puritan. Both, however, have something very important in common. Each owes their ascendancy to a constituency with growing dissatisfaction with electoral politics.

The same goes for Bernie Sanders. When people get disillusioned with the mainstream, they go for the extremes.

Another significant factor in the rise of Trump has to be the fact that this is his first election. Unlike some of his rivals, this means he is untainted by the disappointing compromises that inevitably come with governing. It is no coincidence that the other frontrunners for the Republican nomination are the brilliant neurosurgeon Ben Carson and glass-ceiling shattering CEO Carly Fiorina – neither of whom has ever held elected office.

When you have no record in government, you can’t have it judged against you.

In the same way that Trump’s unapologetic braggadocio appeals to those who consider their party spineless, Corbyn’s undiluted socialism has won over the middle class radicals who think Labour lost because it was somehow too centrist (actual working class voters have trended rightwards for some decades). Corbyn is popular with his supporters because he tells them (and himself) what they want to hear. As a veteran backbencher that has never held ministerial office, he is also unstained by the disappointments of government.

I think he has never ever held even a shadow junior role.

The prospect of the White House being garishly renovated in Trump’s vulgar style is enough to make one shudder. To be honest, however, I would probably take a hypocrite like Trump over a zealot like Corbyn most days of the week. Whatever his real views are, you get the feeling that Trump will cut a deal with anyone and will ditch his supporters the moment it suits him.

Corbyn, on the other hand, has actually said he could not be friends with someone who does not share his narrow worldview. That is an amazing statement. It is one that very few people – even those with strong political beliefs – would ever make.

That is the mark of the true zealot.

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Don’t Tell Winston

September 22nd, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Winston recently said we should only let in female refugees and children, and send the men back to fight in Syria. He seemsto think women can’t and don’t fight in wars.

Well read this report from Time Magazine:

A colorful scarf is all that is left of Cicek Derek, who was 17 when she died a few months ago in the besieged city of Kobani, Syria, where her compatriots were unable to retrieve her body.

Cicek was one of hundreds of young Kurdish female soldiers who have taken up the fight against ISIS. They’re part of the YPJ, or Women’s Protection Unit, an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a Kurdish nationalist movement that has long fought a war of independence against Turkey.

Now the PKK and other Kurdish groups are at the forefront of the battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, a militant group that would severely curtail the rights of women. It’s fitting that ISIS will be facing off against female fighters like 18-year-old Zilan Orkesh, who left her small village on the Turkish-Syrian border to join YPJ in 2011. When she killed an ISIS fighter for the first time, she began cheering loudly, hoping the sound would reach the ears of other jihadis. “I wanted to let them know that their worst nightmare had come true,” she says. “Their friend had been killed by a woman.”

As Islamic State has rape as a policy, with the only role for women to be to breed, great to see this. I imagine the shame for an ISIL fighter to be killed by a woman would be great.


Corbyn appoints a convicted arsonist as his shadow education secretary

September 22nd, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Spectator reports:

Given that Jeremy Corbyn is a Hamas sympathiser with an IRA sympathiser as his Shadow Chancellor, I imagine he didn’t think too much about promoting a little-known Scot named Mike Watson. He is a Labour peer, who now takes a place in Corbyn’s frontbench as education spokesman. He is also a convicted arsonist, who quit the Scottish Parliament in disgrace after being caught drunkenly setting fire to a set of curtains during the Scottish Politician of the Year ceremony 2004. He was sentenced to 20 months in prison, whichhe served in HMP Edinburgh.


So if UK Labour win the election the PM will be someone who calls Hamas and Hezbollah friends, the Chancellor will be someone who has praised the bravery of the IRA and the Education Secretary will be a convicted arsonist.

At what point does David Cameron step out of the shower and say he’s just had the most strange dream, like an episode of Dallas?


Oink Oink

September 21st, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A new biography claims Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron once put a “private part of his anatomy” into a dead pig’s mouth.

According to the Daily Mail Mr Cameron carried out the act as a student at Oxford University during a bizarre initiation ritual.

A distinguished Oxford contemporary claims Mr Cameron took part in the ritual during an event organised by the Piers Gaveston Society, a dining club at Oxford.

The source, who himself is now an MP, first made the allegation in June 2014 and has since repeated them. He even claims photographic evidence of the alleged act exists.

A private part? His toe?

Won’t be a fun day to be the PM’s Press Secretary – or the PM.

Having said all that, I’m very skeptical of claims by anonymous sources, especially claims of photographic evidence. If there was evidence, I’m almost certain it would have emerged years ago.

In the 1990s a number of NZ publications alluded to a claimed encounter between a NZ MP and a rent boy. I heard dozens of times that there were photos of video footage from an alley way. But you know what – there wasn’t. They never emerged, and it was just a smear job with no substance.

Unless someone is willing to go on the record as a first hand witness, then I think it is just a load of trotters.


Changes in Australia

September 21st, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

First the new Turnbull Ministry:

TWO women will be in charge of Australia’s foreign front line with the appointment of Marise Payne as the nation’s first female Defence Minister.

She will work alongside the first woman Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in the “renewal” ministry announced by new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

But they won’t be sitting near Joe Hockey who didn’t want a portfolio and will quit Parliament after 20 years an MP and seven as a minister. …

For the first time in two years the minister looking after women’s issues will be a woman, West Australian senator Michaelia Cash, who also will be Minister for Employment. Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott had given himself that post of Minister for Women.

Kelly O’Dwyer will be the Small Business Minister and Assistant Treasurer, and also will sit in cabinet.

Five women, including incumbent Health Minister Sussan Ley, will have cabinet rank. …

Key postings include: Scott Morrison as Treasurer; Christopher Pyne Industry, Innovation and Science.

The significant promotions include Simon Birmingham to Education and Training, which will include child care; newcomer Christian Porter, a former senior minister in Western Australian Government, will be Minster for Social Services; Mitch Fifield to Minister for Communication and the Arts; Josh Frydenberg as Minster for Resources, Energy and Northern Australia. George Brandis will remain Attorney-General, Peter Dutton Immigration Minister, Mathias Cormann Finance Minister and 25-year-old Wyatt Roy has been made a junior minister for innovation.

Prime Minister Turnbull used his convincing victory over Tony Abbott to do more than refresh the age and gender make-up of the ministry. He set new priorities.

Junior minister Jamie Briggs has been given the job of planning to improve the livability and economic efficiency of our biggest cities. Tony Abbott did not believe the Federal Government had that job.

The powerful post of Cabinet Secretary has been revived for Arthur Sinodinos. Mr Turnbull said the “gold standard of good Coalition cabinet government” was when Senator Sinodinos was chief of staff to Liberal Prime Minister John Howard.

A smart reshuffle that has even won praise from Turnbull critic Andrew Bolt.

Meanwhile Abbott went out the way I’d want to also:

The former Prime Minister reportedly went straight to the pub with his loyal staffers after losing the Liberal leadership to Malcolm Turnbull, celebrating his freedom with a wild night of partying.

According to the Sunday Telegraph, Mr Abbott even danced with his shirt off, although one witness said it was a short-lived manoeuvrer, that “it came off, but it was back on pretty quickly”.

A marble coffee table in the PM’s suite was apparently smashed during the wild night and staffers even took souvenir shards.

I’ve been to similiar occasions after leadership coups in National. Very long messy nights!

And the Libs retained Canning:

LIBERAL candidate Andrew Hastie has comfortably won the Canning by-election in Western Australia.

With more than 61 per cent of ballot papers counted late on Saturday night, the former SAS captain had achieved more than 55 per cent of votes on a two-candidate preferred basis.

This represented about a six per cent swing towards Labor.

The recent public polls had the swing at 10%, so this exceeded expectations.

These changes do not mean the Coalition will win the next election, but means they now have a decent chance of being competitive.


Australian Financial Review Op Ed

September 18th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

After new Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said that he hoped to emulate the political style of John Key, the Australian Financial review asked me to do an opinion piece on how Key has been successful, in contrast to Abbott and others. It was published yesterday. You can read it here or it is embedded below.

DPF Oped

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Tenure of post WWII Australian PMs

September 17th, 2015 at 1:44 pm by David Farrar

Fascinating to look at the length of tenure of Australian PM since WWII:

  1. Robert Menzies 16 years (retired)
  2. Harold Holt 2 years (died)
  3. John Gorton 3 years (rolled)
  4. Billy McMahon 2 years (defeated)
  5. Gough Whitlam 3 years (defeated/sacked)
  6. Malcolm Fraser 8 years (defeated)
  7. Bob Hawke 9 years (rolled)
  8. Paul Keating 4 years (defeated)
  9. John Howard 12 years (defeated)
  10. Kevin Rudd 2.5 years (rolled)
  11. Julia Gillard 3 years (rolled)
  12. Kevin Rudd 0.25 years (defeated)
  13. Tony Abbott 2 years (rolled)

So you had the Menzies era, then a series of short-term PMs. Then from Fraser to Howard you have huge stability, and since Howard no Prime Minister elected at one election has survived until the next!


Meet the new UK Shadow Chancellor

September 17th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Jeremy Corbyn has chosen as Shadow Chancellor possibly the only MP to the left of him.

Here are some quotes from John McDonnell:

It’s about time we started honouring those people involved in the armed struggle. It was the bombs and bullets and sacrifice made by the likes of Bobby Sands that brought Britain to the negotiating table. The peace we have now is due to the action of the IRA.”

Go the IRA!

Because of the bravery of the IRA and people like Bobby Sands we now have a peace process.

The brave Bobby Sands who blew up the Balmoral Furniture Company in Dunmurry. And the brave IRA who killed 500 to 600 civilians, including some young children.

he wished he could “go back to the 1980s and assassinate Thatcher”

A real democrat.

“In the first week of a Labour government, democratic control of the major economic decisions would be restored by ending the Bank of England’s control over interest rates and bringing the nationalised and subsidised banks under direct control to force them to lend and invest their resources to modernise our economy and put people back to work.”

No more independent reserve bank.

“I was up in Liverpool a fortnight ago, where Alec McFadden, one of our [union] organisers, launched the Sack Esther McVey Day on her birthday.

“I spoke at a packed public meeting … there was a whole group in the audience that completely kicked off quite critical of the whole concept, because they were arguing: ‘Why are [we] sacking her? Why aren’t we lynching the bastard?”’

He seems to often advocate violence against women he disagrees with. A charming man.

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This is an attack ad!

September 16th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Conservatives are wasting no time.

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The pessimism of the left in the UK

September 15th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Allister Heath writes:

This earthquake in social attitudes, the key to our political landscape,was captured in a little-noticed poll of 12,000 voters on election day by Lord Ashcroft, the Tory peer. The vast majority – 71 per cent – of Tory voters sensibly agreed that “overall, life in Britain is better than it was 30 years ago”. Shockingly, despite the substantial improvements to medical technology, incomes and life expectancy of the past 30 years, 51 per cent of Labour supporters disagreed. To them, 1985 was a better time, despite the unavailability of so many of the goods and services we now take for granted, the violent strikes, the Brixton race riots, the discrimination, the limited opportunities for women and of course the crippling 11.4 per cent rate of unemployment. …

Their pessimism is thus self-reinforcing. Lord Ashcroft’s poll shows that most Tories agree that “for most children growing up in Britain today, life will be better than it was for their parents”; yet 67 per cent of Labour supporters believe the opposite. While 86 per cent of Tories agree that “if you work hard, it is possible to be very successful in Britain no matter what your background”, 62 per cent of Labour voters take the opposite view. The world must look like a very bleak place to Corbynites.

On almost every important indicator things are better today in most countries than 30 years ago. Incomes are higher, people live longer, fewer children die.

In terms of recreation and entertainment we have infintely more choice – channels, stations, the Internet, games etc.

Air travel is no longer the preserve of the wealthy. Cars are safer, better and cheaper

Our medical knowledge is so much better than 30 years ago, and many things that used to kill you, don’t now.

We now have more computing power in our phones than almost any computer in the world had 30 years ago.

Crime and murder rates are much lower.

The world is no longer at risk of global nuclear war.

Many more homes are insulated

Services such as GPS maps that used to cost hundreds of dollars are now free.

The Internet.

Far fewer people die from smoking today.

And so on.

Is every single aspect of life today better than 30 years ago. Of course not. But in dozens and dozens of ways, and ways that matter to people, it is much better.

To those who claim it really was better 30 years ago, I wonder how many would be willing to go back in time and give up 2015 for 1985.

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Turnbull praises Key

September 15th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Audrey Young reports:

After it was confirmed late last night that Malcolm Turnbull would be the new Prime Minister of Australia, John Key said something he could only have hoped was true.

“I am confident our close and critical relationship with Australia will continue unchecked with the change of Prime Minister.”

By the end of Turnbull’s first press conference as leader, Key could be genuinely confident. New Zealand had a leader whose style should be emulated, Turnbull was saying. You have to be able to bring people with you by respecting their intelligence in the way you explain things. “Let me point to just one international leader – John Key, for example”

Key had been able to achieve significant economic reforms by doing just that: “By explaining complex issues and then making the case for them.”

Key managed to win the 2011 election despite a policy of partial asset sales. That is because he spent a year making the case for them. They were never popular, but they were accepted – people understood why the Government was doing them – even if they disagreed.

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Many NZ views on Corbyn

September 15th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Spinoff has views of the election of socialist Jeremy Corbyn as UK Labour Leader by a couple of dozen people. Some interesting comments:

Jim Anderton

Jeremy Corbyn represents a return to the politics of inclusion, egalitarianism and the principles of social and economic justice required of a fair society. The outrageous and ever increasing gap between the rich and the poor, with the resulting crisis of rising child poverty and social dislocation, is increasingly seen as simply unacceptable to more and more people throughout the world.

Hopefully Jeremy has better luck with his caucus than Jim did with his.

Jacinda Ardern

I wonder whether the question might be, what can the UK Labour Party learn from the NZ experience?

What can they learn? How to lose three elections in a row, and have your vote share drop every time!

James Shaw

I am unconvinced that the generally accepted wisdom – that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour is unelectable – will hold out in reality. The Obama ’08 campaign, Syriza in Greece, Podemos in Spain and others, show that many people are desperate for hope and change in the face of growing inequality and a sense that their own and their children’s futures are being sold down the river.

Oh dear. Not sure Obama would like the comparison to Syriza. And how is Syriza working out for Greece?

Helen Kelly

I think he will do very well and create new space for alternative policies including fiscal policies. I think the party will swing behind him and if they can organise those that recently joined, they will have a new invigorated movement come the next election.

Comrade Kelly predicts glorious triumph.


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