Monday, August 5, 2013


Originally Posted 5th August 2013

Welcome to Day 1 of the semi-regular poliwonk festival known as the Election Campaign. It's a glorious time for fans of political contests, particularly if you disregard the notion that the winner gets to be The Government for the next three years. Block out the consequences of those nasty policies and an election is sport, plain and simple.

As with sport, though, every member of the team must be clear - crystal clear - on the the strategy. Every single member must know their role and responsibility, and be warmed up and ready to play the moment the whistle blows.

The Prime Minister blew the whistle yesterday. It's Game On...And that's enough of the sporting metaphors.

Brian Loughnane, Federal Director of the Liberal Party, has experienced the full gamut of emotion today. Breakfast must've been buoyant with two polls both delivering the Coalition a 52-48 2PP lead. But then Joe Hockey opened his gob and suggested that if the Reserve Bank cuts interest rates tomorrow, it's bad.

"The fact of the matter is, we should not be in a position where interest rates are being cut, because the economy should be growing faster. That's what the government said was going to happen. And they got it wrong. And they keep getting it wrong, because you do not tax your wage prosperity.”

I'm sure that Joe Hockey didn't mean to suggest that Aussie battlers in western Sydney would benefit from higher interest rates, but this is a federal election campaign, and the man who wants to be the next treasurer of Australia simply can't afford to make stupid gaffes like that. 

It got worse when Liberal candidate for Greenway, Jaymes Diaz, flaked in front of Channel Ten's news cameras. It's not his first campaign, but on Day 1, this performance is nothing short of tragedy...and it's not his first campaign.

But - to return to another tortured sports metaphor for a moment - it was the team captain who really stepped up to show his team how to campaign. 

First, he threw some carbon tax figures through the meat grinder he was inspecting at JBS Australia. It was another one of Tony's trademark hi-viz and hard-hat or hair-net appearances, and he announced that his first priority as Prime Minister would be to scrap the Carbon Tax. Apparently the campaign that didn't get him elected last time is stronger the second time around. 

Unfortunately, it slipped his mind that he had opposed a grant that gave the factory $4.4 million dollars, which was saving the company $1.1 million in power costs each year and helping JBS Australia to lower its carbon emissions by up to 81 per cent. Lucky for Mr Abbott, local ALP member Shayne Neumann was there to remind him. Perhaps Mr Abbott didn't want to mention that he opposed a measure because it is proof that the Carbon Tax is working as it was designed to work. 

My personal favourite from Day 1 was news that Mr Abbott had attended an event this evening in Western Sydney, where 500 Muslims were celebrating Eid el-Fitr, the end of Ramadan. Mr Abbott, whose signature slogan "Stop he Boats" refers primarily to boats carrying Muslim asylum seekers, spoke of multicultural Australia as "beacon of hope to a troubled and divided world".

My irony detector was going off like a frog in a sock. 

He continued:

"I am the sworn enemy for anyone who seeks to divide Australian over Australian on issues of class, gender, birth place, race and particularly over faith. I believe that all religious faiths seek to come to grips with the complexity of human condition. We have to respect the specialness of that faith to every person."

Despite the obvious grammatical...aahhh...challenges, it's a surprisingly inclusive sentiment from a man who was almost a Catholic priest. In fact, its downright lefty! Perhaps Mr Abbott meant to that we should be a less beacon-like...?

For now, I invite you to enjoy the cultural, religious and racial diversity of the Liberal Party's first official advertisement of the campaign, which was played at least eleventy-seven times today on Sky News Australia. 

Behold, New Hope.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Hockey One

Originally Posted 1st August 2013

When did Joe Hockey change from the avuncular bloke from the Liberal Party into Joe Hockey, master meanie, ham-fisted politician, crazy man? Was it about the time that he realised he’d never be Prime Minister? Or was it when the reality of serving alongside Tony Abbott sunk in? Whenever it was, it was one of those insidious things that happens while your head is turned.

And here we are, with the man who thinks he will be federal treasurer, criticising the proposed increase in tobacco excise because he believes it’s been proposed to financial gain, not to benefit the health of the nation.

Honestly Joe, who cares? Increase the tobacco excise and hit two targets with the same shot. Doesn’t that sound like good policy? Joe even mentioned that the increased cost of smokes would hurt the cost of living for low income Aussies addicted to smokes. That didn’t seem to be an issue during the Howard years, when the cost of living was increasing and the pension failed to keep pace.

If I was as cynical as Joe, I’d suggest that all this blustering this morning is more about protecting the Liberal Party’s close relationship with Big Tobacco, who contributes an obscene amount of money to the Liberal Party. If I was cynical…

I still think that Joe Hockey is basically a good guy, but the angst of being in opposition, the torture of sitting opposite a female Prime Minister, the persistent smell of failure of being on the lesser side of a hung parliament has left such a bitter taste in the mouths of Liberals that even cheerful Joe was not immune.

Now it’s all snide little digs here and bitchy retweets there…and when there are no easy targets, he fabricates. There’s this, for example, from earlier this week.

@JoeHockey: Seriously a delay on the election timing is a joke. Aussies are fed up with the games from Labor on election date.
Australians are used to having about 5-6 weeks’ notice prior to an election. When Ms Gillard announced the election date eight months before the date, it was a new precedent. Aussies aren’t fed up; this is nothing more than a continuation of the Liberal catch-cry we’ve been hearing since September 2010. We get it; the Coalition wants an election now. But Joe Hockey can sit back down again; the Prime Minister calls the election, the Opposition doesn’t. And he knows that. He was just being vicious.

That wasn’t the only questionable tweet from Joe Hockey in the past this week. There was also this gem:

@JoeHockey: Another pro-ALP Politifact report – it’s just co-incidence! But too hard for Politifact to check #krudd claim of $380pa benefit of ETS!

Let’s take the first part of this tweet. Clearly Mr Hockey feels that there is a pro-ALP bias to Politifact Australia’s fact-checking results. That’s pretty standard response from right wing trolls, but I expected better from Mr Hockey.

Unless, of course, there is a left wing partiality that is skewing Politifact Australia’s interpretation of facts. On checking all of the rulings handed down by Politifact Australia since they started their operation in Australia, I found this.

Both the ALP and the Coalition have been fact-checked in excess of thirty times each, and both show a disturbing distribution which ranges from True all the way to False, and in one case, Pants on Fire. The chart below displays the rulings – lots of green is good; lots of orange is not good. Both major parties are showing a lot of both.

Just a quick visual check here indicates no bias towards the ALP that I can see. Can Joe Hockey see something that I can't - or is he just making it up?