Category Archives: Australian Politics

Interest rates rise to 6.75 per cent

The Reserve Bank of Australia has lifted interest rates to an 11-year high of 6.75 per cent.

My question is: if the economy is going so well and both parties are suggesting that they are experts at managing the economy and keeping interest rates low, why are they both making huge election promises?

Answer: it wins votes.

But surely the Labor party could gain some ground on the question of their ability to run the economy, by ‘spending’ less on tax cuts and suggesting that the Liberal party’s sweeteners are economically irresponsible. Dah!

Meanwhile, I saw the interview John Howard did on 9am with David and Kim last week. This discussion was more influential than any other thing I have seen in the past year – even more so than a couple of Lateline interviews I’ve seen and the debate. If you like Howard, I would be spreading this one around!

Centophobia’s guide to voting in the Senate ’07

I’d like to begin by disclosing that I am a member of the Australian Democrats.

We are another step closer to the Federal Election with Senate preference flows being submitted last Saturday (3 Nov ’07).

Firstly, a brief description of the parties in the Senate contest (some of these parties are only running in certain states):

  • Labor: New Leadership, Education Revolution, Sorry, end WorkChoices, high-speed broadband, do something on Climate Change.
  • Liberal/National: More of the same, economic prosperity, lower interest rates, security, spending on roads.
  • The Greens: the environment and global warming, public education and health, indigenous health, ‘No to Nuclear’.
  • The Australian Democrats: human rights, equality for women and respect for aboriginal people, political accountability, international leadership.
  • Family First: health and well-being of the family.
  • One Nation: protectionist trade strategies, reduce immigration (especially from Asia), reduce benefits given to indigenous Australians
  • Pauline: reduce immigration, fixed parliamentary terms, inquiry into energy sources viability and environmental impact, give product aid rather than cash,
  • Climate Change Coalition: ratify Kyoto, reduce carbon emissions, oppose nuclear power, introduce emissions trading scheme.
  • Carers: funding for disability, aged care and mental health, increased recognition and support for carers.
  • What Women Want: female representation in Parliament, fairer workplace, paid maternity leave, affordable childcare, support as carers, choices in child birth, better post-natal care.
  • Non-Custodial Parents Party: prevent family breakdown, equal parenting in marriage and after divorce, protection of children after divorce, decreased government intervention, don’t support War in Iraq, free trade, globalisation, reduced emphasis on coal for energy.
  • Hear our Voice: ?
  • Conservative for Climate and Environment: responsible and economically responsible action on climate change.
  • Senator Online: no policy platform. Suggests that the Australian people who have access to the internet will vote on legislation and the majority opinion will be expressed by the candidate.
  • Socialist Alliance: end WorkChoices, environment, free health and education, public housing, end discrimination, defend the rights of Aboriginal Australians.
  • LDP (Liberty and Democracy Party): decreased government intervention, free trade, reduce tax, minimal public spending, individual freedoms.
  • Democratic Labor Party: social and economic justice, firmly against recognition of gay relationships, per capita education voucher, increased military spending, no tax on income saved or invested,
  • Australian Fishing and Lifestyle Party/The Fishing Party: They like fishing people! oppose bans or restrictions on recreational fishing in National Parks.
  • Australian Shooters Party: oppose The Greens policies to protect the environment – defend the right to own a firearm and 4WD in National Parks.
  • Citizens Electoral Council: protectionist trade policies, public assets over privatisation, range of assistance for family farmers, remove the GST, increased infrastructure spending and immigration.
  • Christian Democratic Party: ‘Christian values and ethics’, security for country and property, improved family life and protection of children (cough, cough), support for Christian education, (wait for it!) ‘legislation to guard life from all destructive forces’.
  • Independents: obviously each independent candidate has their own ideas and opinions. Therefore it is difficult for me to write about every independent candidate in the election.

If you vote above the line, the party you vote for will decide who they will give your vote to if they are knocked out of the contest. If you vote below the line, you are able to choose the order of parties that will get your vote if they are knocked out of the contest. Make sure to number ever box though if you are voting below the line, and make sure you display your ability to count.

I was having a discussion with my family about voting for minor parties in the Senate recently. I was suggesting that they vote for a minor party or independent in the Senate so that no matter which major party has control of the Lower House, the Senate would always be a second opportunity for policies to be discussed, and altered. My grandma however revealed a number of things about her political experience when she suggested matter-of-factly that “a vote for the Democrats, is a vote for Labor”. The two things being – her dislike of Labor, and her limited political knowledge (I’d like to point out that I don’t consider myself politically knowledgeable, I just have good googling skills). So is a vote for The Democrats a vote for Labor?

Order of preferences for Democrats in Queensland: Major premiseA vote for the Democrats is not a vote for Pauline!

We Like: Climate Change Coalition, Carers, What Women Want, independents, The Greens.
At least they are better than the Major Parties: Socialist Alliance, LDP, Senator Online, Australian Fishing and Lifestyle Party, independents, Labor, Liberal/Nationals.
Not in Hell: The Fishing Party, Democratic Labor Party, independents, Family First, Non-Custodial Parents Party, independents, Australian Shooters Party, Citizens Electoral Council, Christian Democratic Party, One Nation WA, Pauline.

Senator Andrew Bartlett explains:

In deciding our Senate preference ticket in Queensland, the Democrats used the following general principles as a guide to group the various parties:

  • smaller parties and independents who are sufficiently like-minded to justifiably put ahead of the Greens.
  • smaller parties and independent too philosophically different to be able to justify putting ahead of the Greens, but still okay enough to put ahead of the major parties.
  • smaller parties and independents who are basically too antithetical to Democrat philosophy to preference ahead of the major parties.

[..] Given the importance of ending the current situation where one major party controlled the Senate – and the appalling display of debauching due process which the Coalition had engaged since it gained that Senate control – we decided to put our preferences to Labor ahead of the Coalition.

In Queensland, an ‘above the line’ vote for the Democrats will be counted as a vote for Labor before it is can be counted as a vote for the Coalition (I have a limited understanding of how the counting process occurs and trying to explain it is even more difficult). However if I vote below the line, I am able to put Labor and the Coalition in any position I like. Therefore, a vote for the Democrats is not necessarily a vote for Labor. Moral of the story – just take the extra 10 seconds and vote below the line!

Check where your preferences will be going (if you vote above the line) : New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory.

It’s on!

Well the election has been called and I’m excited!

John Howard today announced that the Federal election will be held on November 24, 2007. The electoral role closes on Wednesday, so for those hundreds of thousands of Australians who aren’t enrolled, or are enrolled incorrectly, update your details now.

When making the announcement Mr Howard said that “… this country does not need new leadership; it does not need old leadership. It needs the right leadership.” He also said, that “… love me or loathe me, the Australian people know where I stand on all the major issues of importance to their future.”

What are the major issues that you are thinking about in the lead up to the election? What will influence your vote? Labor governments across the country, the War in Iraq, the environment, Aboriginal affairs, Work Choices?

Links to more electoral goodness: and

Therese don’t sell your baby!

There has been some trouble today about Kevin Rudd’s wife, Therese Rein. She apparently discovered something dodgy about the way her company was paying staff and then fixed it. How ridiculous!

Therese Rein apparently built her business from nothing, into a multi-million dollar company. The problem is that one of Ms Rein’s clients is the executive government.

Ms Rein’s company, Ingeus, has lucrative contracts with the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations worth about $58 million a year… (The Age)

Bugger. What a conundrum!
Don’t sell your baby Therese; I couldn’t. You both have to find a way to make it work…

If Rudd wins, and you are able to keep the company, it would be almost as inspirational as having a female Prime Minister.

Update 28 May 2007:

Democrats Senator, Andrew Bartlett writes:

“I’m appalled at the precedent set here. Right now women portfolioholders in all political parties in the federal parliament have husbands and partners with extensive business interests. The same goes for the male portfolioholders, in all political parties, whose wives and partners have businesses. In the recent past we’ve had Deputy Prime Ministers with farming businesses. These are not bad things, they are good things.”

“The last thing we should discourage is politicians being connected into the business world. Conflicts of interest can be managed. The important thing is that conflicts of interest are openly ethically and transparently managed under proper processes.”

"The cold reality is this - the job of businesspeople is to maximise the profit share. That always holds the potential for exploiting employees. Thats why you need fair workplace laws that are enforced."
I don't want people to think that I am part of the Democrats PR team, but Senator Bartlett does agree with me on this issue. The second point about business is so true. Ms Rein's company has every right to use the unfair IR laws to be unfair toward her employees. I'm sure a lot of businesses feel that the laws are unfair, but are they really going to turn up at the AGM and say, "Well we could have reduced labour costs this year by $500,000 but we thought it would be unfair".

Who cares about Rudd v Howard…

Democrats senator, Andrew Bartlett writes:

“… the make up of the Senate after the election will be influential on what sort of laws Australia ends up with in the event Mr Rudd gets elected.” – Bartlett Diaries

The Coalition has had the balance of power in the Senate since the 2004 election. The Senate has 76 seats and only half (38) will be up for election this year.
With such a small number of seats to be decided, and most of the country really unaware of the role of the Senate, there probably will be little change – the Coalition will most likely keep control.

I believe that we really need the coalition to loose one or two seats so the balance of power is left with the Democrats, Family First and the Greens. Otherwise the Liberal/National coalition will still have the final say on any new legislation the Labor government may introduce – including IR changes, nuclear energy and environmental conservation. This week, a lot of people are probably saying Mr Heffernan should be the one to boot out (because of his lovely remarks about Julia Gillard). Unfortunately his term doesn’t end until 2011.

So who cares about Howard and Rudd, who is going to win in the Senate?

ag: , , ,

Joe Hockey is an idiot… (not personally > I don’t know him)

Joe Hockey was on Sunday this morning. He talked about Kevin Rudd and his regular appearance on Sunrise as well as the ‘outrageous’ amount of money the Labor Party will spend between now and the election in November.

Joe tried to suggest that Rudd’s appearances on Sunrise are no longer appropriate because he is the Opposition Leader. However he defended his own appearances. Why is it acceptable for a minister of Parliament to appear regularly on a light, entertaining morning show but not for the opposition leader?

He also suggested that the Labor party will spend around $100 million leading up to the election ($88 million from the unions and $12 million from the state Labor branches). This continues the governments attack on the Labor party for being ‘ruled by the union’s’. Meanwhile the Federal Government has been described as the biggest advertising spender in Australian political history – (see quote below from SHM – 2005).

“Crikey! Remember crocodile hunter Steve Irwin bobbing about on your TV screen a year or so back warning you not to bring any plants or animals into the country?

“You paid for that ad. Irwin received a $175,000 appearance fee for one day of filming, a recent Senate estimates committee revealed, and the Quarantine Matters campaign cost $5.3 million.

“Yet it was a comparatively cheap campaign for the Federal Government, which is the biggest advertising spender in Australian political history, and a significant player when compared with the corporate sector.

“Federal Government spending on advertising jumped by nearly $70 million last financial year [2004-05] to $170 million, according to Opposition figures released this week.” – Stephanie Peatling, Sydney Morning Herald, 12 Mar 2005, p.19.

Joe said the government’s spending of millions of dollars of taxpayer’s money is necessary to let people know about the policies they are putting forward. I tend to agree. However…

  1. the Constitution allows political parties to advertising as much as they like,
  2. the Labor party is spending about half the amount the government is spending (according to the quote above), and
  3. the Labor party isn’t spending taxpayers money > unlike taxpayers, a union member can choose to leave the union if they disagree with this use of their money.

Get over it Joe… Move on…

, , , ,

Hicks guilty of fighting for two hours and never firing his gun…

What he did…

“… Hicks acknowledged that he trained with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and fought with its forces against US allies in Afghanistan in late 2001 for two hours and then sold his gun to raise cab fare and tried to flee to Pakistan.” (ABC article)


“Hicks admitted he had trained with al-Qaeda, fought with the Taliban and that a friend of his believed he had approved of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. ” (BT Article)

How he gets punished…

Five years of Hell on Earth


Seven years in jail (in Australia)


“Hicks’s plea agreement bars him from speaking to the media for one year and says if he ever sells the rights to his story, the Australian Government will get the money.” He was also banned from taking legal action against the United States. Hicks had previously said he was abused by the US military but said in his plea agreement he had “never been illegally treated while in US custody”.” (ABC article)

Sounds fair to me…

And who can we thank for ending this madness – JOHN HOWARD who is pissing his pants about the next FEDERAL ELECTION. Rudd has already achieved so much…

tag: , , , , , ,

What the Prime Minister could and should say next Australia Day…

The Honourable John Howard, Prime Minister of Australia, 26 January 2008:

Australia Day has always been an occasion when all Australian celebrate the amazing country we live in. We gather together to celebrate the prosperity and the freedom of our country.

“However, we forget that the land we now stand on has always been the land of Australia’s aboriginal people. These people have a deep emotional and spiritual association with this land and it is time that we reflected on the feelings of these aboriginal people.

“From this day forward, part of every Australia Day celebration around the country, will also include a short moment of silence to remember that since white settlement, the local inhabitants of this land have been disadvantaged. They have been locked away, forced into slavery and treated as second class citizens. So while the rest of us celebrate, these locals have been mourning the loss of their culture; their heritage.

“So let us now pause and reflect on this fact…”

Now that wasn’t so hard was it?

tag: , , , ,

Centophobia is the newest Democrats member…

Democrat SenatorsI just joined the Australian Democrats.

I wanted to support them because I think it is important that someone other than the government of the day has the balance of power in the Senate. This way they can take the hard edge off legislation or negotiate deals with the government. Otherwise the government can simply pass anything it likes into law without any negotiations.

An example of this is the GST. To my knowledge, the Democrats rejected the legislation in the Senate until the government agreed to remove the tax from ‘everyday items’ like bread, meat and fruit and vegetables. This isn’t a huge, life changing achievement but I think in an age of terrorism, racism and fear, we need someone in the Senate protecting our freedoms and privacy.

Check out the Democrat’s campaigns on: the national ID card, fuel, aboriginal people, climate change and the nuclear industry.

The rights of homosexual citizens…

Earlier this week the Prime Minister’s office revealed they were preparing a submission to review the rights of homosexual couples (ABC). Conveniently revealed during Syndey’s annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (the PM is a clever little fella), the laws would give citizens in same-sex relationships equal rights as people in heterosexual unions, in areas such as superannuation, tax and welfare.

However, the Prime Minister has twice rejected ACT legislation which would have recognised civil unions. This state legislation would have given homosexual couples the same rights as heterosexual couples and would have recognised their relationship as a legal union (Your Guide: Canberra, IBN News). It seems the Prime Minister, while recognising that homosexuals shouldn’t be financial disadvantaged, doesn’t believe he has any obligation to correct social inequality.

In the Prime Ministers words:

Well I don’t criticise gay people for that lifestyle, that’s their choice. What I do say, and I don’t apologise for saying, is that there are certain benchmark institutions in our society that ought to be defended and promoted and marriage is one of them and the reason I don’t support gay marriage is that I think it in different ways reduces the status of marriage as so commonly understood in our society, that is partly influenced by the Judeo-Christian tradition of our society, it’s also influenced by other things as well, it’s not only people of the Judeo-Christian tradition, which is obviously the dominant one in our country, who hold that view, others hold it as well, but there has to be a point at which you stand up for certain benchmark institutions. I don’t think that’s intolerant, I think it’s common sense because they contribute to the continuity and the stability of society. (emphasis added: Radio Interview: 891)

Lifestyle choice? Defend Marriage from what? Benchmark institutions? That gays would corrupt, corrode? Reduce the status of marriage?

The Prime Minister believes that the institution of marriage is far more important than the rights set out by the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He thinks that because we are influenced by Judeo-Christian tradition, people are allowed to be discriminated against for the stability of society (which happens to be exactly the same argument Mr Bush uses).

Why does the Prime Minister believe that if 5-10% of the population married within their gender the whole institution of marriage and society at large would crumble to its knees? Heterosexuals have done a pretty good job of recking the institution of marriage on their own – Hollywood stars stay married for about the same time it takes to tie my shoelaces.

The Prime Minister’s reason for defending marriage is also a dangerous one. He cannot say that because our society was based on a religion which had certain values, that we can forsake the rights of citizens which don’t fit with that religion. The Christian religion didn’t value women, yet society hasn’t crumbled because women are allowed to vote or have the freedom to choose a career. Many Muslim countries restrict women’s rights. Does that mean because the Muslim religion allows this discrimination we shouldn’t be concerned?

Would society really crumble because gays and lesbians were allowed to marry?

tag: , , , , , , ,

Read my essay on the rights of homosexuals in Australia.

Labor just got my vote…

Not that they didn’t already. Today the Sydney Morning Herald reports:

The Opposition Leader will call for “nothing less than a revolution in education” and warn that Australia’s prosperity will hit the wall unless the quality and funding of education – from childhood to adulthood – is raised substantially.

Totally agree with this… Education would be my first priority if I were in government. From improving the uninspiring physical environment of state schools, to paying teachers a decent wage to attract the best and improve the status of teaching as a career; from offering better childcare and early childhood education so that mothers can realistically re-enter the workforce; from universities which only offer mass-produced business and engineering degrees, rather than specialised and customised degrees… the whole thing needs major work.
Where will the money come from? Well, I read something months ago which said that if the money in the ‘Future Fund’ was invested in education, the government would earn a similar return. So there is definitely the money available for a ‘revolution’.

Birth Rate / Women in the Workforce

One of the problems with the baby bonus is it encourages people with low incomes to have children which they cannot realistically support. Offering world-class childcare to children from a very young age may encourage parents with higher incomes (and some chance to independently support them over the long term) to have children and give women a way to return to the workforce without feeling like they are disadvantaging or betraying their children.

What I am suggesting here is childcare, early childhood education, after-school programs and perhaps even later finishing times for high-school students, which would allow couples to consider having children and a career at the same time rather than waiting until later in life and allowing mothers (and fathers) to return to full-time work.