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.



33 days to go

August 5th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A prime minister you can trust, or an opposition leader who’s fair dinkum.

Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott have kicked off their September 7 election campaigns by making personal appeals to Australia’s 14  million registered voters.

Rudd made his pre-election pitch in the same prime minister’s courtyard at Parliament House were three years ago he tearfully stepped down.

He made it clear this election is about unfinished business.Borrowing a line from former Liberal prime minister John Howard,  Rudd asked voters ‘‘who do you trust’’ to deal with the challenges presented by a faltering global economy.

He portrayed himself as the election underdog with a ‘‘steady  hand’’ and a positive plan for the future.

In contrast, he said Abbott was negative, immersed in ‘‘old politics’’ and three-word slogans.

Rudd also blatantly borrowed from US President Barack Obama by appealing to supporters to donate a few dollars to Labor to counter  the ‘‘few millionaires’’ bankrolling the Liberal-National coalition.

Making his pitch surrounded by portraits of past Liberal leaders in the opposition party room, Abbott kept to the script he’s been spruiking for three years.

He harked back to the ‘‘faceless men’’ who ousted Rudd in 2010, then turned on Julia Gillard this year, contrasting it to his stable leadership and team.

‘‘It’s really about who is more fair dinkum. Who can you rely on to build a better future?’’ Abbott said.

The national polls will be interesting, but more interesting will be the polls in marginal seats – especially those with retiring Labor MPs. Labor could tie with the Coalition on nationwide vote but still lose enough seats to lose office.


The Australian economy

May 24th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Greg Ansley at NZ Herald reports:

Unemployment rate of 5.5 per cent set to rise with more job losses in manufacturing sector Ford’s decision to shut down its production lines in Australia at the cost of thousands of jobs across the automotive industry has dealt another heavy blow to Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s ailing minority Government.

Although Ford’s exit has long been expected after 20 years of declining fortunes for the industry, the disappearance of its iconic Falcon is not only a heavy blow to the national psyche but will also further undermine voter perceptions of Labor’s economic credentials.

Ford’s announcement comes a week after a federal budget marked by major spending cuts and expectations of continued deficits, driving down consumer confidence and placing employment squarely in the spotlight for the September 14 election.

Luke Malpass wrote at Stuff how Australia is not living within its means:

A regular question in New Zealand and Australia is whether our respective nations succeed because of, or in spite of, our politicians.

As both nations’ Budgets were read this week, it was a story of two countries that have faced a vastly different set of circumstances over the past five years, and the choices both have made in light of that.

In 2008, Australia had a mining boom, rising wages and no debt. Its government had delivered consistent surpluses, tax cuts and targeted cash payments to targeted voter groups. Growth was assumed and household wealth doubled during the Howard years. It even avoided recession.

In contrast, New Zealand was lurching into debt, had a collapsed non- bank finance sector, a tradeables sector that had been squeezed for several years, a real recession in advance of the global recession, and a structural deficit

So when Finance Minister Bill English announced last Thursday that New Zealand is on track to record a budget surplus (albeit tiny) in 2014-15, it stood in stark contrast to Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan announcing his sixth budget deficit.

Unfortunately for Mr Swan, he had been promising a surplus for 2013 since 2009, and last year he announced “four years of surpluses” to begin this year. So his staggering A$19.4 billion deficit, with years of deficits ahead, was quite incomprehensible.

And recall how certain parties attacked every single act of spending restraint done by the Government over the last four and a half years.

Since Mr Swan has taken over as treasurer, tax revenue has increased by roughly the equivalent of New Zealand’s entire budget. Unfortunately, he and prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard spent all of the increase plus some, and are miffed because revenue did not increase at an even higher rate.

Yep. While NZ Labour’s plan are to bring in some new taxes, and hike spending.

Budgets are ultimately about choices. The Australian Government chose to run it close to the wind, increasing spending by as much as the most optimistic revenue forecasts would allow.

New Zealand made a very different and far more difficult set of choices. In 2008 the issues were obvious: productivity growth was poor, taxes too high – particularly at a relatively modest level of income – and the tax system had little internal integrity.

Government was chomping its way through far too much of the national pie, crowding out private sector activity.

One important thing the New Zealand Government has done is tamp down expectations of spending increases, concentrating on core activities and not using government as a vehicle to give handouts to partisan coalitions of voter groups.

In fact much of the extra spending by National has gone in areas where there are not high pressure lobby groups demanding more money for themselves, but in areas that will promote economic growth such as tourism and science.

But there are still worrying signs. Both New Zealand and Australia have superannuation burdens set to grow immensely, and health and welfare spending continues to outstrip the ability of society to pay in the long term.

Yep. They will be the big challenges for the future.

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The “right wing agenda”

May 23rd, 2013 at 7:12 am by David Farrar

Clare Curran exposes at Red Alert the right wing agenda. It seems to be:

  1. Tony Abbott spoke at the 70th anniversary of the Institute of Public Affairs
  2. Tony Abbott is advised by Crosby Textor
  3. The NZ National Party is also advised by Crosby Textor
  4. Hence the NZ National Party plans to implement the policy agenda of the institute of Public Affairs

Clare goes on to list some of the policies that may find their way into National’s policy agenda here, which she disagrees with. They include:

  • Allow the Northern Territory to become a state
  • Introduce a special economic zone for northern Australia
  • Rule out federal funding for 2018 Commonwealth Games
  • Privatise the Australian Institute of Sport
  • Cease funding the Australia Network
  • Abolish the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)
  • Privatise the CSIRO and the Snowy-Hydro Scheme
  • Abolish the Commonwealth Grants Commission
  • Privatise Australia Post, Medibank and SBS
  • Halve the size of the Coalition front bench from 32 to 16
  • Break up the ABC and put out to tender each individual function
  • Abolish the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

I’m pretty sure we won’t see any of the above implemented in New Zealand. Well, we could try to implement them but Australia may not take too kindly to us passing laws on their behalf.

There is one policy Clare agrees with:

Force government agencies to put all of their spending online in a searchable database

That’s good to see, as I’ve been pushing this for some time. I would have thought Clare also supports:

Rule out government-supported or mandated internet censorship

As it happens I think many (not all) of the IPA’s policies are very laudable and sensible. Ones I especially like are:

  • Means-test Medicare
  • Abolish the Baby Bonus
  • Abolish the First Home Owners’ Grant
  • Repeal the alcopops tax
  • Allow individuals and employers to negotiate directly terms of employment that suit them
  • Introduce a single rate of income tax
  • Return income taxing powers to the states
  • Cut company tax to 25 per cent
  • Cease subsidising the car industry
  • Privatise Australia Post, Medibank and SBS
  • Halve the size of the Coalition front bench from 32 to 16
  • Reduce the size of the public service from current levels of more than 260,000 to at least the 2001 low of 212,784
  • Force government agencies to put all of their spending online in a searchable database
  • Repeal the mining tax
  • Introduce fee competition to Australian universities
  • Means test tertiary student loans
  • Reintroduce voluntary student unionism at universities
  • Introduce a voucher scheme for secondary schools
  • Rule out government-supported or mandated internet censorship
  • End public funding to political parties
  • Introduce voluntary voting
  • Legislate a cap on government spending and tax as a % of GDP
  • Legislate a balanced budget amendment which limits the size of budget deficits and the period the government can be in deficit
  • Allow people to opt out of superannuation in exchange for promising to forgo any government income support in retirement
  • Remove all tariff and non-tariff barriers to international trade
  • Deregulate the parallel importation of books
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$43 billion of cuts in Australian Budget

May 15th, 2013 at 7:56 am by David Farrar

As I’ve previously blogged, the Australian Government have been unable to get a path back to surplus, despite the mining boon and previously strong economic growth.

So yesterday’s Budget saw $43 billion of spending cuts and tax increases on the back of a $13 billion deficit for the upcoming year. This is what happens when you let spending get out of control.

Some of the major announcements:

  • Scrapping family tax benefits and bonuses $4.9b
  • A 15% surtax on super fund earnings over $100,000 a year

It will be interesting to compare and contrast the NZ and Australian budgets on Thursday.


NZ vs Australia

May 5th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Luke Malpass writes in the Australian Financial Review:

How exactly is it that New Zealand – a country that went into recession in early 2008, had a collapsed non-bank finance sector, didn’t have a mining boom, has a historically high dollar and had its second biggest city basically levelled by an earthquake – is on track to record a budget surplus as scheduled and on time in 2014-15? This question raises a second one: why is Australia not in this position?

I think we don’t give enough credit to the Government for the very challenging task they have had, where they had to both have an expansionary fiscal policy during the depths of the global recession, but also impose spending restraint so that the projected structural deficit would have a path towards becoming a surplus.

Australia has shown how easy it is to blow a projected surplus.

The odd thing about this is that Swan and his government perpetually cast themselves as victims: of a global downturn and an unappreciative public.

But in fact, a look across the Tasman shows Swan and Labor are victims only of their own appalling policy choices. Overall Kiwi growth is at about 3 per cent – NZ grew 1.5 per cent last quarter alone. Unemployment and welfare numbers are dropping, virtually every export sector, including manufacturing has been growing. Businesses everywhere are complaining they can’t get skilled labour.

The growth in Australia is hugely variable. Western Australia has been growing faster than China. Queensland has had strong growth. But the larger states of Victoria and New South Wales were actually contracting for a while.

The Gillard government is now in the ridiculous situation that despite revenue increases since 2010, historically high terms of trade, and relatively low unemployment, any surplus has been shunted away into the future. Comparatively, New Zealand, despite relatively poor growth until recently, no mining boom and an enormous earthquake, will complete a bigger surplus than expected, earlier than forecast.

Go New Zealand!

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April 26th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Tony Alexander from BNZ writes:

Against the Australian currency the NZD has risen firmly in recent weeks and now sits at its highest level since October 2009. This movement upward from 80 cents a month ago is based upon a number of things. …

Third, the fiscal track in NZ is surprising on the positive side with revenue inflows running ahead of expectations this year. In contrast in Australia the Treasurer Wayne Swan has had to make a very embarrassing climb-down from his position that fiscal surplus would be achieved in 2013/14 no matter what. Now he speaks in terms of a surplus not appearing for many years. Commentators are noting that a Federal Labour government in Australia has not produced a surplus since 1989, there is growing criticism of the never-ending spending promises being made, and this week Standard and Poors warned that they could cut Australia’s rating in five years’ time.

That is a fascinating statistic. No surplus since 1989.

Fourth, Australia’s currency is more strongly assessed as being tied to growth prospects in China than the NZD.

Fifth, as China grows the expectation is that NZ will benefit more than Australia from here on out because of strong food demand compared with past strong demand for coal and iron ore.

Hopefully the demand will hold up. As unemployment in Spain hits 27%, Europe is going to remain a basket case for some time.


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No wonder the ACTU is worried

April 7th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar reports:

THE Australian labour movement will wage a pre-emptive strike against the federal opposition as the election nears, ACTU boss Ged Kearney says.

This means spend a shitload of money. They’ll need to as the latest poll projects 109 seats for the Coalition and just 36 for Labor.

In a candid address to a NSW Teacher’s Federation conference in Sydney on Saturday, Ms Kearney indicated the ACTU was bracing for a coalition win on September 14 and a royal commission into union corruption.

That could be devastating for them.

“The royal commission is coming – because of the HSU, because of the whole slush fund stuff, they will come at us with lawyers and barristers and queen’s counsels and they will try to send us broke,” she said.

They should welcome a Royal Commission to clean their mess up.


The trans-Tasman relationship

March 25th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Tracy Watkins at Stuff reports:

Seated across from each other in a New York restaurant they made for an unlikely couple.

On one side of the table was John Howard, one of Australia’s most successful prime ministers; darling of the political Right, bogeyman of the Left after taking the role as America’s deputy sheriff in the Pacific, and becoming the villain in the Tampa affair.

His lunch companion was Helen Clark, the socially liberal former New Zealand prime minister, a flag-flying Iraq war opponent, standard bearer for the Left-wing social democratic movement – and the woman who even now, four years on from losing the election, can spark visceral dislike among many on the Right.

Mates? Of course, says Howard, after they caught up recently for a chinwag in New York.

“We don’t just exchange Christmas cards.”

It reflects well on both Howard and Clark that they worked well together, despite being from different sides of the political spectrum.

 But historic and geographical ties have not always been enough to put the relationship on a friendly footing. Before Howard and Clark it was Lange and Hawke, Muldoon and Fraser. Tension, backstabbing, and suspicion reigned.

Fraser was an idiot, and Muldoon a bully. Hawke thought Lange was a flake, and he was right. There was also Bolger and Keating – Keating was just simply untrustworthy.

Gillard and Key, again polar opposites politically, have forged even stronger bonds than Clark and Howard.

Key says getting the personal dynamics in the relationship right is “critical”. With Gillard, it helps that their partners get on as well.

Once all the official business was out of the way during their two-day summit in Queenstown last month, Key and Gillard escaped to the exclusive Millbrook resort for dinner with partners Bronagh and Tim. They did the same in Melbourne last year.

“We have a no officials, casual dinner, have a drink together,” Key said.

A good relationship between leaders is no guarantee of success, but it is almost a precursor.

The big unknown is a possible Tony Abbott government – though he and Key have already struck up a good relationship, and speak to each other regularly.

Howard, meanwhile, is confident Abbot can only be good for New Zealand.

“He’s got a good start. His wife is a New Zealander.”

Heh, that may be useful.

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An Australian election calculator

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

Antony Green has launched his 2013 election calculator. Antony is the premier election analyst in Australia.

It makes predictions for all 150 seats on the basis of either the swing or two party preferred vote. But it has some additional nifty features.

  • Can select the results from a recent poll
  • Can set individual swings for each state (and swings do not tend to be uniform across the country)
  • Can factor in retiring MPs
  • Can over-ride the projected result in a few marginal seats

On the latest (Neilsen) poll Labor is projected to lose 25 seats and win 47 while the Coalition is projected to gain 25 seats and win 98.

On the best poll to date for the Coalition, they would win 110 seats to 35 for Labor.

One can see why some of the Labor MP are thinking the unthinkable and Rudd may challenge again.

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Labor punished in Western Australia

March 10th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Normally Oppositions gain seats and Governments lose seats in elections. Not so in yesterday’s Western Australia election.

Of 59 seats, the 2008 election resulted in the Liberals had 24 seats, their partners in the Nationals had 4 seats, Labor had 28 seats and there were three Independents. The Liberals won the two-party preferred vote by 51.8% to 48.2%. So it was a Liberal minority government.

The Liberals have had an 8.8% increase in their primary vote and are projected to go from 24 seats to 33, making them a majority Government. The Nationals picked up one seat also so combined they will have 40 out of 59 seats – a two thirds majority. Labor have been slaughtered going from 28 to 19 seats. Such a slaughter is not unheard of for an incumbent Government (like in Queensland) but is even rarer for an opposition.

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Madness takes many forms

March 7th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Greg Ansley at NZ Herald reports:

Next week Daniel Nalliah will be taking his crusade against Muslim immigration and multiculturalism to the Australian Islamic Peace Conference at the Melbourne Showgrounds.

In the meantime he will be plugging democracy and the nation’s “Judeo-Christian heritage”, protecting the nuclear family, urging the pruning of big government and pushing for tax to be cut to the barest possible minimums.

Nalliah, a Sri Lankan-born fire and brimstone preacher who claims to have resurrected three people and to have been instructed to head down under by Jesus, is the leader of the nation’s newest political party.

Just another charlatan and mad fraudster.

He claimed Victoria’s disastrous Black Saturday fires was a retribution for the passage of new abortion laws, and lambasted Prime Minister Julia Gillard for “living in sin”

Yes Gillard should remain a virgin, as she is unmarried.

During the launch Nalliah called for the end of a multicultural Australia, a reduction in the intake of Muslim immigrants, and the defence of Judeo-Christian culture.

He is from Sir Lanka himself. I’d say if they are to reduce immigration, they should have started with him.

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