Australian Senator wants a rich well-hung Senator

July 23rd, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Any complaints about our MPs look trivial in comparison to some of the loons in Australia.

TVNZ reports:

An Australian politician has raised eyebrows after revealing her two requirements in a partner.

Palmer United Senator Jacqui Lambie told Tasmania’s Heart 107.3’s radio station she has only two requirements in a man, they must be wealthy and well-endowed.

“They must have heaps of cash and they’ve got to have a package between their legs, let’s be honest,” Ms Lambie said.

“I don’t need them to speak, they don’t even need to speak.”

Ms Lambie, a 43-year-old mother of two, was then introduced to a 22-year-old listener named Jamie, who called into the radio show to express his interest in dating her.

“Do you have plenty of cash?” asked Ms Lambie.

“I’m just a bit concerned that at 22 years of age and living in Tasmania you might not be quite there yet?”

Jamie then assured her he does have plenty of cash.

Ms Lambie then asked: “Are you well-hung?”

Jamie assured her he is & “like a donkey”.

The pair have agreed to go on a date.

Funnily enough Senator Lambie opposes gay marriage on the grounds it compromises Australiam morals.


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Australian views

June 6th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Some very interesting data in the annual poll by the Lowy Institute on views held by Australians. Some extracts:

  • 31% say best friend in Asia is China, 28% Japan, 12% Singapore. I wonder how Kiwis would answer that question?
  • 65% say acceptable for Australia to spy on China, and 51% say on New Zealand.
  • The biggest critical threats to Australia’s vital interests are terrorism 65%, nuclear proliferation 64%, Iran’s nuclear programme 53%, cyber attacks 51%, asylum seekers 48%, climate change 46%
  • 71% support the Government turning back boats, when safe to do so. 59% support off shore processing. 42% support an outright ban on asylum seekers coming by boat being allowed to settle in Australia
  • Given a polar choice, 53% would choose a good democracy and 42% a strong economy if it is one but not the other.
  • 52% say alliance with US is very important and 78% say very or fairly important
  • On a warmth scale from 0 to 100, NZ is country Australians feel most warm about at 84 degrees. North Korea is bottom at 29 degrees. Obviously Gareth Morgan needs to do a tour of Australia extolling how great they are. Canada is 81, US 71, France 71, Japan 67, China 60.
  • Only 22% say Australia should be its current population of 23 million, or less. 42% say target should be 30 million, and 34% say 40 million or more.
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The Australian Budget

May 14th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Australian Budget yesterday was a great example of what happens when previous Governments don’t get spending under control and the deficit gets so large.

As we are about to hit surplus. Australia has a $30 billion deficit.

Some of the Government Budget decisions include:

  • The government will axe 16,500 jobs over three years, by cutting 230 bureaucratic programs and 70 government agencies.
  • A temporary tax increase on those earning over $180,000
  • A cut in tertiary education subsidies by 20%
  • A lower repayment threshold and higher interest rate on student loans
  • Increase in pension age to 70
  • A part charge for seeing a GP



Maybe Australia needs some welfare reform also

May 12th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Adelaide Advertiser reports:

The Advertiser revealed on Thursday that there are a whopping 7313 Australians who receive the disabled pension but don’t live in Australia.

Many of them live in holiday destinations such as Bali and Thailand, where the $813 dollars they receive from the taxpayer every fortnight goes much further in the form of rupiah or baht.

More than 1200 of them are in Greece, nursing the kind of injuries which are so permanently debilitating that they apparently prevent them from ever re-entering the workforce, yet not from jumping on a 30-hour economy class flight to Europe and a ferry ride to the island of their choice.

Almost 1000 of them are over the ditch in New Zealand, just a stone’s throw from the country which is kindly subsidising their existence. …

The purse for this largesse is sizeable, coming in at $99.9 million a year. And at a time when the nation has been put on notice that the age of entitlement is over, it is a stellar example of how witless governments are when it comes to reining in unjustifiable drains on revenue, yet so adept at creating new streams of revenue by launching another assault on the people who are actually working.

The way it works now is an insult to people with genuine and permanent disabilities, exploding as it has from 500,000 to 800,000 recipients in less than two decades, its annual bill careening towards $15 billion.

The rule of thumb for government should be to provide generous support for those who genuinely cannot work.

It should also involve the ruthless denial of assistance to those who simply choose not to work, and who hide behind confected conditions to opt out of a contributive life, even heading overseas to bludge in a more agreeable climate where the beers are cheaper.

A good summary those last two paragraphs.

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The Australian fiscal crisis

May 2nd, 2014 at 9:13 am by David Farrar

Australia gives us a good picture of what NZ might be facing if we had continued with massing increases in spending, as proposed by Labour.

Australia, like NZ once did, faces a structural or permanent deficit. Turning it around will not be a quick thing. An Audit Commission has just identified 86 ways to reduce spending by $70 billion a year – which would get the Government back into surplus by 2023.

The recommendations are large, and many will not be politically palatable. They include:

  • End of universal health care and a $15 charge for doctors visits
  • Cutting 15,000 public service jobs and selling state-owned assets
  • Slower rollout of the NDIS and raising the pension age to 70, while including the family home in means testing for the aged pension.
  • Abolish seven Commonwealth agencies, merge 35 and privatise nine
  • Reject paid parental leave in favour of focusing on child care
  • Strip the dole from young unemployed people who don’t move to areas with jobs and freeze the minimum wage for 10 years

As I said, some quite unpalatable. But both the Government and the Opposition will have to produce their own policies on how to get back into surplus.

Meanwhile in NZ, we will hopefully have a Budget in three weeks showing a return to surplus next year.


A bottle of Grange ends O’Farrell’s premiership

April 16th, 2014 at 2:15 pm by Jadis

Well the Duke and Duchess are touching down in Australia amidst a political storm.  Barry O’Farrell, Premier of New South Wales has just resigned. O’Farrell’s statement to media says:

“I’ve been advised overnight that this morning at ICAC a thank you note from me in relation to the bottle of wine will be presented. I still can’t recall the receipt of a gift of a bottle of 1959 Grange, I can’t explain what happened to that bottle of wine. But I do accept that there is a thank you note signed by me and as someone who believes in accountability, in responsibility, I accept the consequences of my actions.

“The evidence I gave to the independent commission against corruption yesterday was evidence to the best of my knowledge. I believe it to be truthful and as I said yesterday it’s important that citizens deal with police, deal with the courts and deal with watchdogs like ICAC in a truthful fashion.

“In no way did I seek to mislead, wilfully or otherwise, the Independent Commission Against Corruption. But this has clearly been a significant memory fail on my part, albeit within weeks of coming to office, but I accept the  consequences of my actions. And that is that as soon as I can organise a meeting of the parliamentary Liberal party for next week I will be resigning the position and enabling a new Liberal leader to be elected, someone who will then become the Premier of NSW.

“Whilst I’m sure you have questions, I don’t think this is the time for those questions to be dealt with. There will be other occasions for those questions to be dealt with. But what’s important here is that again I’m seeking to support  the process of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, a body that I’ve always supported throughout my career. I’ve accepted that I’ve had a massive memory fail, I still can’t explain either the arrival of a gift that I have no recollection of or its absence, which I certainly still can’t fathom.   “But I accept the consequences. In an orderly way, a new leader will be elected to take on the position of Premier of NSW.”

So it was the bottle (wherever it may be) and his own thank you note that did it.

o'farrell note

Now the fun part.  Who will be the next Premier?  My pick is Mike Baird.

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Japan loses

March 31st, 2014 at 11:00 pm by David Farrar

Australia (with support from New Zealand) has won against Japan in the International Court of Justice with a 12-4 ruling that Japan’s whaling programme is not scientific research and it has stated that Japan should not issue any further permits.

The decisions of the ICJ are final and can not be appealed. Of course a state could refuse to implement them, but the reputational loss would be massive.

Japan may halt their whaling programme entirely, or try and create a new “scientific” programme in the future. It has been suggested in the past that they wanted to end it anyway, but didn’t want to be seen giving into the quasi-terrorism of Sea Shepherd. So hopefully they will accept the court ruling, abandon the pretense that the whaling was for scientific purposes and cease operations. That would be a good thing.

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Two state elections this weekend

March 12th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Two state elections this weekend in Australia – South Australia and Tasmania.

If Labor lose office in both elections then they will be out of power in every state and at the federal level. Their one hold out will be the Australian Capital Territory.

In South Australia they currently have 26 out of 44 seats.  The latest TPP poll has the Coalition 8% ahead which could see Labor lose as many as 11 seats.

In Tasmania the Liberals are on 47%, Labor 24% and Greens 18%. The current projections are Labor to go from 10 to six seats, Liberals from 10 to 14, Greens from five to four and Palmer from zero to one.

Tasmania will be especially interesting as Labor have been in power for so long there, but the Labor-Greens coalition Government became massively unpopular with voters and the backlash looks like it will be significant.


A royal commission into union corruption in Australia

February 12th, 2014 at 6:38 am by David Farrar reports:

THE GOVERNMENT today announced a well-funded royal commission which will spend at least 12 months probing trade union secrets and corruption in the building industry going back a quarter of a century.

The inquiry into building industry and union criminal practices will be a sword cutting both ways, the Government said today in a warning to both trade unions and employers.

The powerful royal commission by former High Court judge John Dyson Heydon will highlight dodgy deals which Attorney-General George Brandis today said were “widespread, systemic and ingrained across a range of institutions”.

Findings would be passed on to police for possible prosecutions.

Employment Minister Eric Abetz said: “This is a sword that will cut both ways and we are determined to ensure that the rule of law exists in our construction sector.”

This is well overdue. Almost every week there has been a story detailing more corrupt activity in certain Australian unions, with prosecutions occurring in some high profile cases. The problem seems systemic, not just about a few isolated individuals.

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The flip side of protectionism

February 5th, 2014 at 6:31 am by David Farrar

Tracy Watkins at Stuff reports:

Spurred on by an aggressive Buy Australia campaign, the big Australian supermarkets are systematically stripping their shelves of New Zealand-produced goods sold under their ‘‘house brand’’ labels, in a move that threatens hundreds of millions  of dollars worth of exports.

Now hands up all those who have been saying that we should have a Buy NZ campaign, and that the NZ Government should only deal with NZ companies?

Protectionism is bad for New Zealand. Consumers pay more, and exporters get shut out.

Key will raise the issue in his meeting with Abbott in Sydney this week and it is understood the Government has received advice the move could be in breach of the decades-old Closer Economic Relations agreement with Australia.

One option would be for the Government to lodge a formal objection but sources say the situation is complicated by the fact that CER is a government-to-government agreement, and it is not ‘‘straight forward’’ whether supermarkets are captured by that process.

With respect, I think it is straight forward. Private supermarkets are not captured. CER is an agreement between Governments.

Labour’s economic development spokesman Shane Jones said  it was ‘‘essential’’ Key raise the plight of New Zealand food producers who were being ‘‘monstered’’ by the Australian supermarkets, who controlled 80 per cent of the market.

‘‘They are victimising Kiwi businesses and have created a culture of fear and menace. I have been told New Zealand food producers were warned not to complain about their poor treatment publicly or they would be blacklisted.’’

Is this the same Labour Party that has spent five years insisting that the New Zealand Government should discriminate against Australian businesses, and only let NZ companies win tenders? Isn’t it hypocrisy to complain when Australian businesses do exactly what they advocate?

My consistent view is that quality and price, rather than country of origin, are what you should decide things on. Only if the quality and price are identical or at least similar, should you then take into account country of origin.

But Woolworths Australia is a private company. If they think their customers want to pay more for inferior Australian food, then they can decide to use Australian suppliers only. I think it is a bad business decision, but it is their decision to make.

Where there could be an issue under CER is if the Australian Government is encouraging such protectionism. But I’ve not seen any details in this story that states they are.

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NZ vs Australia economy

February 3rd, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

News Ltd economics reporter Jessica Irvine writes:

Our sporting teams may be locked in bitter rivalry: Wallabies vs. All Blacks; Diamonds vs. Silver Ferns.

But in the battle for economic supremacy, New Zealand is set to reign supreme.

While the Australian economy dominated over the past two decades, the tables are turning.

Australia survived the GFC with our two decade unbroken growth record intact, while New Zealand plunged into a year and a half long recession, before a deadly earthquake levelled its second biggest city of Christchurch in 2011.

But things have turned a corner for the New Zealand economy, says Saul Eslake, the chief economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

“The situation has now changed. As we move into 2014 the New Zealand economy does so gathering momentum whereas the Australian economy is clearly limping and will continue to do so,” Eslake explains.

And the migration patterns are changing.

Could the flood of New Zealanders to our shores be about to reverse?

Better jobs prospects at home are already reducing migration flows to Australia, says Eslake.

“I think that is already evident in NZ’s own migration patterns, which show net emigration having fallen quite significantly.”

New Zealand’s economy expanded 3.5 per cent over the year to last September, outpacing growth in the Australian economy of just 2.3 per cent.

As a result, getting a job in Australia is getting harder while getting a job in New Zealand is getting easier.

New Zealand’s jobless rate dropped sharply from 7.2 per cent to 6.2 per cent, while Australia’s climbed from 5.4 per cent to 5.8 per cent.

Hopefully our rate will drop below 6%.

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Guest Post: Blake Crayton-Brown on Liberal Democratic Party Senator-elect David Leyonhjelm

October 9th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

David Leyonhjelm has been elected to the Australian Senate representing the libertarian leaning Liberal Democratic Party. Blake Crayton-Brown has interviewed him and written a profile of him:

Having received over 9.5% of the Senate vote in New South Wales, the Liberal Democratic Party’s David Leyonhjelm has won election to the Australian Senate, with his six year term to begin next July. The 61-year-old agribusiness consultant and former vet has at different times in his life been a member of both the Labor and Liberal parties and doesn’t hesitate in identifying himself as a libertarian. I spoke recently to David and he was candid about his expectations of the new Parliament and the difficulties he has faced getting the party’s message out.

With the balance of power in the Senate swinging from The Greens to a disparate group of minor parties (including three Senators from the Palmer United Party), David recognises that he and his fellow crossbenchers will have a significant degree of leverage. Although he feels that the Liberals ‘are still in denial’ about needing his vote, he imagines that the Coalition will want to keep as much of the crossbench on side as possible. He won’t rule out wandering off and supporting Labor and The Greens from time to time, arguing that as one person, the best way for him to make a difference is by leveraging the fact that the Government needs his vote.

David is optimistic about being able to work constructively with his fellow crossbenchers and has already spoken with SA independent Nick Xenophon. He hopes that the crossbench can be reasonably pragmatic so that even if they have to take small steps back at times, they’ll ‘take big steps forward’. Unlike many libertarians I’ve encountered in New Zealand and Australia, he clearly understands the need to pick his battles, understands practical politics and has himself vowed to be practical.

Having seen the difficulties faced by the Act Party following its confidence and supply agreement with National in New Zealand, David wants to avoid the LDP getting into a position where it is limited in its ability to criticise the Government. Vowing to ‘well and truly’ vote against any ‘egregious statist sins’ the Coalition Government may entertain, the LDP is seeking to make it clear that ‘the Government is the Government and that we’re the Liberal Democrats and they’re not the same thing’. Despite wanting to make such a distinction, David feels there is ‘a degree of sympathy’ within the Liberal Party for the LDP’s small government position and thinks they may even be able to set the agenda at times, not unlike the Act Party taking the lead on charter schools.

The LDP advocates for what it terms ‘free immigration agreements’ such as the arrangement between Australia and New Zealand – David explaining that he doesn’t believe that such agreements should have to conform to a ‘cookie cutter formula’ and sees no reason why New Zealanders in Australia shouldn’t be eligible to entitlements that Australians can receive in New Zealand. Although he doesn’t want to see people bleeding in the streets and is in favour of some emergency assistance being available, David’s general principle would see non-citizens ineligible for welfare unless under a free immigration agreement with reciprocal arrangements.

Describing himself as ‘kind of a home grown first principles libertarian’ he says he has resented being told what to do his whole life and that ‘as my wife will attest, the best way to get me to do the opposite is to tell me I have to do something’. Having failed to register for national service, he says he would have been subject to automatic call-up if the Government hadn’t changed in 1972. David says it was ‘just reprehensible that people could be dragged off against their will into the military, even without the fact that they might then get sent off to Vietnam and shot’. It was such a ‘loathsome’ example of government compulsion that he considers it the first real influence on his political philosophy. Although citing John Stuart Mill and more recently, Milton Freidman as influences, it’s evident that it is his own experiences that have most significantly shaped his outlook. David pointed out that he remembers when abortion was illegal and when people he knew had to battle abortion laws to have choice. He’s frustrated that smoking marijuana is still illegal when ‘we all did it when we were youngsters’ and that police are still ‘running around the place pretending that they’re doing something useful for society by arresting people with marijuana in their possession’. It’s absurd he says.

I asked him about the media coverage he and the LDP had received around the election and whether he was concerned about gaining a reputation as ‘the gun-slinging Senator’ given that a significant amount of coverage focused on the firearms policies. David explained that a week or so before the election, the Liberal Party in NSW panicked, thinking the LDP would ‘steal the seat off their guy Arthur Sinodinos’ who was ranked third on the Coalition ticket. He says that the Coalition decided they needed to head off the LDP’s vote, ‘so they went to the media, friendly sources in the media and said we’d like you to do something about this party with the word Liberal in its name’. He says The Daily Telegraph then published photos of him and the party president advocating firearm change laws with the intention of discouraging people from voting for them by accident because they were first on the ticket. David says that after the election, ‘the media was all over me like a rash’ with their agenda already set by the newspaper ‘which said we’re basically gun nuts’. Despite trying to interest the press in the LDP’s policies on low tax, reduced expenditure and fiscal responsibility, what appeared most in the news were invariably his answers to the questions on guns. Although David is a fierce advocate for reform to firearms laws, he equally doesn’t want the LDP to be known only as the party that supports more liberal gun laws.

In an unpredictable looking Senate crossbench, the LDP’s first ever elected federal member looks set to be both a blessing and a curse for the Abbott Government. Having sworn not to vote for measures that will increase taxation or reduce freedom, David has drawn a line in the sand ahead of his dealings with the Coalition. Provided he sticks to his principles and doesn’t gain a reputation as ‘the Senator for guns’, David Leyonhjelm could well be the first homegrown figurehead for a libertarian renaissance in Australia. It no longer seems one can write off the Liberal Democratic Party.

I think it is great Australia has a libertarian Senator (after July 2014). Would be good to have more libertarian-leaning MPs in the New Zealand Parliament.

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Coalition looks set to win three more seats

September 14th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The ABC is now forecasting that the Coalition will win 92 seats, up from 89 on election night. Labor is down to 54. That is barely above the worst predictions under Gillard.

Shorten and Labo are standing for the Labor leadership. There is a rumour that Rudd thinks the next election is unwinnable, and he will stay on so he can try for the leadership again after 2016! It is ironic that Shorten, the former ACTU boss, is placed in the right faction of Labor. Could you imagine a trade union boss in NZ being seen to be on teh right of a Labour caucus? :-)

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The Australian Senate

September 9th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The AFR reports:

The ABC’s Antony Green is forecasting a Senate with 33 Liberal/National seats, 25 Labor, 10 Greens, one Democratic Labour Party and seven “others”.

The counting in the Senate can take up to four weeks but at the moment those “others” are Democratic Liberal Party in NSW, Palmer United Party in Queensland and Tasmania, Independent Nick Xenophon and a Family First candidate in South Australia, Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party in Victoria and Australian Sports Party in Western Australia.

So, even though the Liberals haven’t gained control of the Senate, they will have a conservative right-leaning cross bench who will support his aim of getting rid of the carbon and mining tax.

What a mess. They will be able to pass laws, but imagine the trade offs. The motoring party and the sports party! Their Senate STV voting system is pretty fucked. The number of first preference votes for the Australian Sports Party in WA was 225 out of a million!

You need 39 votes to pass the Senate, so they need six out of seven independents. Would be worse if they needed all seven as each one could hold out for the maximum pork.


Under new management

September 8th, 2013 at 6:24 am by David Farrar

Tony Abbott declared last night that Australia is now under new management and open for business. The Coalition have won with one of the largest margins in recent times – yet no a total bloodbath.

The latest ABC projection is Coalition 89 (+10), Labor 51 (-10), Greens 1 (nc), Independents 2 (-2). That is just below the 1996 result for Howard where they got 94 seats.

By state it was like this:

  • ACT – Labor 2 (nc)
  • NSW – Libs 21 (+5), Nats 7 (+3), Labor 18 (-6), Independents 0 (-2)
  • NT – Country Libs 1 (nc), Labor 1 (nc)
  • Queensland – LNP 21 (nc), Labor 7 (-1), Palmer 1 (+1), Katter 1 (+1)
  • South Australia Libs 6 (+1), Lab 5 (-1)
  • Tasmania Libs 3 (+3), Labor 1 (-3), Ind 1 (nc)
  • Victoria Libs 15 (+3), Nats 2 (nc), Labor 19 (-3), Greens 1 (nc)
  • WA – Libs 12 (+1), Nats 0 (-1), Labor 3 (nc)

Still a dozen seats in play so these may change.

The primary vote has been Coalition 45.3% (+1.6%), Labor 33.8% (-4.1%), Greens 8.4% (-3.3%), Palmer United 5.6% (+5.6%), Family First 1.3% (-0.9%), Katter 1.0% (+0.7%).

Kevin Rudd’s concession speech was terrible. Long, rambling, resembling a victory speech, all about him and disgracefully not once did he mention Julia Gillard. He talked as if he had been Prime Minister for the last three years. He retained his seat but announced he will not contest the Labor Party leadership. More than one person quipped how they had heard him say that before! But finally it looks like he is gone. I’d say Bill Shorten is the likely new leader, but time will tell.

Time will also tell how Tony Abbott will do. A prediction that one day Abbott will be PM in 2007 would have seen you laughed out of the room. He has run a disciplined campaign and team over the last four or so years. However it was very much a rejection of Labor than an endorsement of Abbott. They have a large enough majority that I’d expect they’ll serve at least two terms.

The tight preferencing between minor parties appears to have delivered them a lot of Senate seats, so that will be a major challenge for the Abbott Government.

Also Clive Palmer has got elected to the House. He appears to be stark raving mad, so that also adds an unpredictable factor.

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2013 Australian election thread

September 7th, 2013 at 7:14 pm by David Farrar

The exit polls to date show there will clearly be a change of Government. Roy Morgan currently has it as:

  • Coalition 42.5%
  • ALP 33.5%
  • Greens 11.5%
  • Palmer 5.0%

On a TPP basis they have Coalition 52% to 48%. That would see the Coalition with 83 seats to 60. If Palmer preferences go more strongly towards the Coalition then they say it is 53.5% to 46.5% and 88 seats to 59.

The Sky News/Newspoll exit poll has it 53% to 47% for the Coalition TPP and projects Coalition 97 seats (+25), Labor 51 seats (-21), Greens 0 (-1) and Independents 2 (-3). Their primary vote is Coalition 45%, Labor 36%, Greens 8%.

These are just exit polls. Actual results should start around 8 pm. It is possible that Labor could lose every seat in Queensland including Rudd’s. His seat is being tagged too close to call on the exit poll. Do remember that exit polls can of course be wrong if they are taken in unrepresentative polling booths. Also seat projections are based on linear swings, and normally there is considerable variability from one seat to another in how much they swing. So don’t jump to any conclusions before we actually get some results in.

I’ll try to update this post when there is significant news, but will mainly be tweeting.

UPDATE: And it’s all over. Sky News now has it Coalition 76 and Labor 46. Abbott is now PM-Elect!

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Not a bad ad

September 7th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

No a bad ad for Bob Katter. Won’t work with most people, but well aimed at his target voters. Will be interesting to see how he does in a few hours.

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The top 5 issues in the Australian media

September 7th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

iSentia report on the top five issues at the end of august in Australia. They were:

  1. Paid parental leave
  2. Garden Island naval base
  3. Syria conflict
  4. High-speed rail plans
  5. Third televised leaders debate

The Coalition’s paid parental leave scheme is a massive bribe which is badly targeted and unaffordable. I hope no one advocates it is adopted here!


The 2013 Australian election

September 6th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Australia goes to the polls tomorrow and it is all but certain that Labor will lose office. They will be the first Government not to get three terms since Labor under Whitlam from 1972 to 1975. Most Australia Governments are long-lasting:

  1. Coalition 1949 – 1972, 23 years
  2. Labor 1972 – 75, 3 years
  3. Coalition 1975 – 1983, 8 years
  4. Labor 1983 – 1996, 13 years
  5. Coalition 1996 – 2007, 11 years
  6. Labor 2007 – 2013, 6 years

The latest polls average the Coalition on 53% and Labor 47% on the two party preferred.  This would see the Coalition win 86 out of 150 seats according to an electoral calculator. It may end up more than that though. On primary vote Labor is averaging just 35% and it depends if minor party voters preference them as strongly as they say they will. The Coalition is more likely to win more than 86 seats, than less, in my opinion. But a complicating factor is how Katter and Palmer parties go in Queensland especially. Bob Katter is merely eccentric wile Clive Palmer appears to be actually stark raving mad, with his claims Wendi Deng spies on Rupert Murdoch for Chinese intelligence..

Also of interest is that Tony Abbott is now Preferred PM, narrowly, in the most recent polls. Rare for an opposition leader to achieve this. He even has a 2% lead amongst women in the latest poll. This is less a vote of confidence in Abbott than fading confidence in Rudd. Abbott’s performance has been generally disciplined but also erratic and how he will perform as PM is far from known.

The key states to watch are NSW, Victoria, Queensland and even Tasmania. Labor looks likely to lose seven seats in NSW, a couple in Victoria and three in Tasmania. Queensland may see Labor lose no seats, but if they do start losing seats in Queensland also then it is a massacre.

To some degree the real race is in the Senate. We are unlikely to know for a week or so how that has gone, as the priority on election night is the House count that determines the Government. But indications are that preference deals between very small parties will probably be effective and the Coalition may in fact lose seats in the Senate. Winning a majority there looks very difficult. That means that a Labor opposition will have to decide whether to block some of the Coalition’s policies such as repealing the carbon tax, or risk a double dissolution election in the future.

The Age has commented:

  • One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has a serious chance of defeating the Liberals’ intended finance minister, Senator Arthur Sinodinos, for one of the two final seats in NSW.
  • Family First, which won a Senate seat in Victoria in 2004 with 1.9 per cent of the vote, could do it again, with their lead candidate Ashley Fenn rated a 50/50 chance of unseating Liberal senator Helen Kroger.
  • The Coalition is odds on to lose a further seat in Queensland, probably to country singer James Blundell of Way Out West fame, running for Bob Katter’s Australia Party, but possibly to the Australian Fishing and Lifestyle Party, One Nation or the Australian Christians.
  • In South Australia, the No Carbon Tax Climate Sceptics are given a strong chance of unseating prominent Green Sarah Hanson-Young, even if they get as little as 0.15 per cent of the vote.

It looks unlikely but not impossible the Wikileaks party could even win a seat.

Here’s how the Senate may go, by state:

  • NSW – Coalition 3 (nc), Labor 2 (-1), third party 1 (+1)
  • Victoria – Coalition 2 (-1), Labor 2 (-1), Greens 1 (+1), third party 1 (+1)
  • Queensland – Coalition 3 (nc), Labor 2 (-1), Katter 1 (+1)
  • South Australia – Coalition 2 (nc), Labor 1 (-1), third parties 3 (+2)
  • Western Australia – Coalition 4 (+1), Labor 1 (-1), Greens 1 (nc)
  • Tasmania – Coalition 3 (nc), Labor 2 (nc), Greens 1 (nc)

Overall the Coalition need to win 5 seats to get a majority in the Senate, and this looks unlikely.

I’ll tweet ad eventually blog the election results on Saturday night, and also am on Q+A on Sunday morning discussing the Australian election, the Labour leadership race and Syria.


Rudd backfires

August 30th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar reports:

TWO of Australia’s most senior public servants have undermined Labor claims of a $10 billion black hole in Tony Abbott’s election costings, prompting Joe Hockey to call Kevin Rudd “a liar”.

In a dramatic and highly unusual move, the heads of Treasury and Finance issued a statement to distance themselves from claims the Coalition had a major financial hole in their election costings.

The intervention, just over a week from polling day, was welcomed by the Opposition, which has been under pressure to provide full details of its election costings, amid Labor claims of a major black hole.

Treasury head Martin Parkinson and Finance chief David Tune, in a joint statement, forced the Government on the defensive just hours after Prime Minister Kevin Rudd had publicly accused the Coalition of a $10 billion “fraud”. …

Dr Parkinson and Mr Tune, both of whom were at a secretaries’ retreat in Canberra when the PM made the attack on the Coalition, undermined the Government’s central claims.

“These costings were not prepared under the election costings commitments’ process outlined in the Charter of Budget Honesty Act 1998,” they said.

“At no stage prior to the caretaker period has either department costed Opposition policies.”

This is highly unusual, to have the Treasury Secretary contradict the Prime Minister. But good on them for protecting the neutrality of the public service.

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All over Rover?

August 29th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

They’ve had the third and final leaders debate in Australia and this is the result:

Sportsbet has declared the federal election a one-horse race and we’re paying out all bets on the Coalition nine days before Australia goes to the polls.

We’re so confident of a landslide Coalition victory for Tony Abbott and his team, we’ve paid out more than $1.5 million in bets to our members – a first in Australian federal election history.

I’ve never heard of this happening before.

Sportsbet got 147 of the 150 electorates right in 2010. They currently show as favourites Coalition for 90 seats, Labor for 56.

Tim Blair also has the best line of the campaign from Tony Abbott:

If you want to know my character, ask my colleagues. If you want to know Mr Rudd’s character, ask his colleagues.

Food for thought for some people in NZ Labour?



Australian robopolls

August 26th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Tim Colebatch at the Sydney Morning Herald reports:

If you believe the opinion polls, there must be two elections going on. One is the Federal election, where the established pollsters agree that the Coalition has established a small but growing lead, averaging 52-48 on their latest polls. That’s a swing of 2 per cent.

The second election seems to be taking place in individual seats. It’s brought to us by the new kids on the block, the robo-pollsters, who use automated phone calls to bombard us with surveys that report huge swings to the Coalition.

On Thursday, a Guardian Lonergan poll reported that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd stands to lose his own seat of Griffith in a 10.5 per cent swing against Labor. If you haven’t heard of Lonergan, it’s because they are brand new; their accuracy is untested.

But Lonergan is on a roll. Last week it stunned us by reporting that Labor’s other big name in Queensland, Peter Beattie, would lose Forde in a swing of 8.5 per cent to the Coalition. And it told us Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury stands to lose his western Sydney seat of Lindsay in a swing of 11 per cent.

Uh-huh. Lonergan’s own national poll reports only a 2 per cent swing against Labor. Yet in the three seats it polled individually, it found an average swing of 10 per cent. That’s huge, far bigger than we have seen in any Federal election since 1943.

Its Rudd poll came out as The Australian’s Newspoll reported a swing of 2 per cent to Labor in Queensland. Is there a swing to Labor in the other 28 seats in Queensland, but a landslide against it where Rudd and Beattie are standing? Maybe not.

It’s not just Lonergan. Another of the new kids using robo-polling, ReachTEL. shocked us last week with polls in four Sydney seats reporting an average swing against Labor of 10 per cent, with Treasurer Chris Bowen another big name heading for defeat.

Last month ReachTEL went polling in Tasmania, and reported swings against Labor of 11 per cent in Bass and Franklin, 14 per cent in Braddon and 17 per cent in Lyons. There’s a bit of a pattern here.

Last Saturday JWS Research polling in eight seats found an average 6 per cent against Labor, relatively modest by robopollster standards.

Yet the established polls with a strong track record such as Nielsen, Morgan, Newspoll and Galaxy on average report a swing of 2 per cent. All of them came within 2 per cent of the actual result last time.

Well, they and the robopollsters can’t both be right. Someone will be left looking pretty silly on election night.

I don’t think any pollster in NZ uses robopolls. Their advantage is they are cheap (no staff to pay!) and data is entered directly by the respondents (pushing buttons on phones) so analysis can be instant.

However the concern is that they become self-selecting, and hence not representative.

Traditional phone polling relies on the fact that because there is an actual human on the phone nicely asking you for a couple of minutes of your time, you will agree – even if not greatly interested in the topic.

I suspect with robopolls (and to a degree some Internet panel polls) that those with a higher degree of interest in an issue will stay on the line, and those less motivated will hang up as you are hanging up on a machine, not a person.

Hence it is not surprising that robo polls may be showing bigger swings against the Labor Government, as people are often more passionate about booting a Government out than keeping it in.

We’ll see of course come the election, but like the author I am sceptical of the massive swings being shown in some Labor held seats.

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Guest Post: New Zealanders living in Australia.

August 19th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

A guest post by Gary Lindsay:

As many of the readership probably already know, the rights of the 300,000-odd New Zealanders who have moved to Australia since the 26th of February 2001 have been in the news on this side of the Tasman in the last few days.  It’s primarily been driven by K-Rudd’s brother Greg, who put out a press release on Saturday saying that Aussies were “ungrateful bastards.”  As somebody who has personal experience of this situation, and who also has friends and families in the same situation, I’d like to put some facts about the problem out there, and also offer some solutions.

Some background first.  Prior to 1973 there was an informal arrangement between the two countries, and free movement between them.  In 1973 the situation was formalised with the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement.  On the 1st of July 1981 the requirement to carry passports was introduced by the Australian government.  In 1984 New Zealanders lost the right to register to vote in Australia (people who had previously registered can still vote).  On a side note, it might actually be unconstitutional to deny a New Zealander the right to vote in a federal election, since New Zealand is still defined as a state in the constitution of Australia (look at the definitions and clauses 8, 30, and 41) but it hasn’t been tested in court.  That’s another story.  On the 1st of September 1994 the Australian government introduced a new visa for New Zealanders, the subclass 444 visa, otherwise known as the “Special Category Visa.”  It was introduced because of a change in the Migration Act requiring all non-citizens to hold a visa.  Prior to the 1st September 1994 New Zealanders were considered “exempt non citizens” and were treated exactly the same as Australians, except for being allowed to vote.  The new 444 visa had no practical effect on New Zealanders moving to Australia, it simply grants a visa when there was no previous visa.  The visa was (and still is) granted at the border, with New Zealanders being processed the same as Australians at the border.  At the time it was convenient to class the visa as a “long term temporary” visa, since a new one is issued every time a New Zealander (who is not a citizen or on a different permanent residency visa) crosses the border.  For all practical purposes New Zealanders living in Australia were still considered permanent residents.

In 2001 the Howard government was under pressure to act on a public perception that deadshits from New Zealand were crossing the Tasman to live on the dole and smoke pot.  According to some sources, John Howard said at there was no such problem; however I have not been able to find a credible link to confirm that.  There was also a very real problem of people who were unable to gain Australian residency being granted New Zealand residency, becoming a citizen, and crossing the Tasman to live in Australia.  Despite negotiations between the two countries, the Clark government would not change its immigration policy (and I believe it still remains the same), so the Howard government made new New Zealand immigrants ineligible for welfare payments from the 26th of February 2001.  There are now two classes of 444 Special Category Visa.  If the New Zealander was in Australia or was temporarily absent from Australia (i.e. they usually lived there) on the 26th of February 2001 they are granted a Protected Special Category Visa, and if not they get a normal SCV.  The distinction is actually defined in the Social Security Act – the distinction is not mentioned in any migration law or regulation.  Since then, there have been several other benefits, such as disaster relief payments, that have been denied to New Zealanders because they are long term temporary residents and not permanent residents. 

Earlier this year the Gillard government announced the National Disability Insurance Scheme, which will pay a benefit to any person who is disabled.  It will be paid for by an additional levy on income tax.  But guess what?  444 visa holders have to pay the levy, but will never get access to a payout if they become disabled.  Other temporary visa holders, such as 457 (skilled temporary) visa holders, do not have to pay the levy.

The Australian government is inconsistent with how it treats people on unprotected 444 visas.  On one hand the Tax Office treats them as residents for tax purposes – that is, they have to pay exactly the same as an Australian on the same income.  The first home owner’s grant is available to all people on 444 visas.  New Zealanders get the same subsidy for tertiary education.  On the other hand, New Zealanders can’t borrow money through the HECS scheme to study at university.  Many welfare benefits are not available – the dole is not available at all, no matter how long that person has lived in Australia.  Unprotected 444 visa holders were unable to access the emergency payments for people who were caught out in the 2011 Brisbane floods.  An unprotected 444 visa holder cannot get a carer’s pension, even if the person they are caring for is an Australian.  On the other hand, if the person being cared for is an unprotected 444 holder, any other permanent resident or a citizen can get a carer’s pension.  In addition, a child born in Australia to two New Zealand parents is not automatically an Australian citizen until they have lived in Australia until age 11.  If a 444 visa holder wants to move to another country, he cannot cash out his compulsory super like other temporary residents (and permanent residents who cancel their visas) can.  Additionally, it is not possible for an unprotected 444 visa holder to access his or her super in a time of severe financial hardship since the criteria for severe financial hardship requires him to be on a Centrelink benefit, which is not possible because he is on an unprotected 444 visa!  As I mentioned, Australia will sometimes consider someone on an unprotected 444 visa a permanent resident; and as a temporary resident when it suits them.

Furthermore, it is not possible to apply to be an Australian citizen if you are on an unprotected 444 visa.  To get citizenship you need to have lived in Australia for two of the previous five years, with one of those years being on a permanent residency visa.  If it was possible to obtain citizenship this wouldn’t even be a discussion – the answer would be “apply for citizenship and shut up.”  That is exactly what most would do, if it was possible.

The only option for obtaining citizenship is to become a permanent resident first.  In the interests of full disclosure, it *might* be possible for me to get a 186 employer nominated permanent visa (it was initially intended as the next stage for 457 visa holders).  I will have to get my employer on board to make it happen.  I am planning on discussing it with my supervisor this week.  Having recently graduated with a masters’ degree in geotechnical engineering I might also be able to get the 175 independent skilled migrant visa; however that will require leaving my stable and well paying job as an exploration geologist to become a graduate engineer.  I have enough points to do it, but “geologist” is not on the Skilled Occupation List but “engineer” is.  Both those visas cost over $3000.  I am one of the lucky ones.  There are many others who cannot get a permanent visa at all, including people who run their own businesses.  These people have chosen to make Australia their home, they live and work here, but there is no option for them to make it formal.

Many people will be thinking “well, you knew about that when you moved there.”  Yes, I did.  And yes, Australia offers a better lifestyle for many New Zealanders than New Zealand does.  But after six years, it has begun to grate on me.  It pisses me off that there’s yet another government scheme that I have to pay for (the NDIS) but won’t ever be able to access – I have private insurance to cover that (and to be honest, I think that if Australians insured against it then we wouldn’t need the NDIS, but that’s a discussion for another day).  It annoys me that I pay a shitload of tax every year and have no say in how it is spent.  It further annoys me that I am paying tax so that deadshit Australians can live on the dole and bitch about how New Zealanders should go home.  It also annoys me that there are thousands of Australians who say things like “we should be giving jobs to our own first” when those people without jobs either don’t want to work or are too useless to show up to work.  If you don’t believe me, read the comments from the Courier Mail article (first hyperlink).
I have some ideas for solutions to this problem.  The bit from here on in is entirely my opinion.
Ideally, 444 visa holders could become “protected” after (say) five years of living and supporting themselves in Australia, which would allow them apply for citizenship.  Alternatively a new permanent visa could be created for 444 visa holders to apply for after they’ve been in the country for a certain amount of time, much like the 186 visa is available for 457 visa holders.
The 444 visa could be restricted to people who were New Zealanders at birth, which would remove the original rationale for the change.
The New Zealand government could make their immigration policy more compatible with Australia’s.
The Australian government could give 444 visa holders the right to vote.  That won’t happen unless there’s a high court decision that the current arrangement is unconstitutional, or there is a simultaneous change to the status quo, since kiwis will vote for whoever will serve their purpose best.  The second option won’t happen because there are probably a million Australian voters who disagree with that.

Additionally, the New Zealand political parties should be paying more attention to New Zealanders living in Australia.  There are about 600,000 living here (the additional 300,000 have protected 444 visas and don’t have the problems I have been talking about).  Most of them still have the right to vote in New Zealand, since the only requirement is to return to New Zealand once every three years.  Those 600,000 people are the equivalent to the population of eleven New Zealand electorates.  That is a shitload of constituents who are basically ignored.  At the very least, the New Zealand government should be actively and publicly pressuring the Australian government to give unprotected 444 visa holders a pathway to citizenship.
Additionally, I would like to see list MPs based in Gold Coast (where 50% of the population originate from New Zealand), Sydney (where there are 150-200,000 New Zealanders), and Perth (about the same).  Their role would be to lobby the federal and state governments in Australia, and to represent the interests of ex-pats in parliament in New Zealand.

I hope that this op-ed has helped to highlight the legal issues that New Zealand migrants to Australia have.   I still think it is worth living here, however it’d be nice to be able to call myself an Australian and to be able to have a say in how the thousands of dollars I am required to give Canberra each year are spent.



Rudd cheats twice

August 12th, 2013 at 6:59 am by David Farrar

Things are not going well for Kevin Rudd. First of all it seems he cheated in the election debate last night. The debate rules said the leaders could have a pen and paper only – and no other documentation or props. Yet Rudd had detailed notes on various topics which he referred to.

The rule may be silly, but if you agree to them you stick to them. It is cheating if one side is using notes, and the other is not.

The more significant cheating is Labor’s using taxpayer funds for their election campaign. The Government is spending millions of taxpayer dollars promoting their new boat people policy. The constitutional caretaker conventions clearly state that during an election campaign, and advertising of controversial policies must cease.

The Finance Department told the relevant Government Departments to halt the advertising campaign, but Ministers intervened and  over-ruled the Finance Department. The head of the DPMC has said he is powerless to do anything as “the Department does not have the power to enforce the observance of the conventions

Taxpayers are funding this $30 million campaign, during the election period. It is outrageous but typical of left parties who view taxpayer money as their own. We have own own experience with Labour’s pledge cards.

Meanwhile Tony Abbott took part in a 14 km road race – as a guide to a blind triathlete! I like most think it was a pretty cynical election stunt – but to be fair he has acted as a guide for blind runners before.

The real good news of the last week is that Abbott has declared he will not wear his budgie smugglers during the election campaign!

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Oh dear

August 8th, 2013 at 2:56 pm by David Farrar

Read about One Nation candidate Stephanie Banister. She thinks:

  • Islam is a country
  • Thinks Jews worship Jesus Christ
  • Praised the National Disability Insurance Scheme as “working at the moment” even though it doesn’t start until 2016

She may be an MP in a month! Probably not though.