July 2nd 2016


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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY CFA dispute may end up burning Victorian Labor electorally

CANBERRA OBSERVED July 2: Independence Day or Groundhog Day?

EDITORIAL Expect shockwaves as Britain votes on EU exit

CLIMATE CHANGE Coral bleaching way overdone by reef saviours

EUTHANASIA Victorian report closer to truth in dissenting voices

FOREIGN AFFAIRS Trump v Clinton race revealing of state of U.S.

SEXUAL POLITICS Transgenderism and the triumph of marketing

EDUCATION Deconstruction and other rot at school

POLITICS AND ECONOMICS Two heretics: Hilaire Belloc and R.H. Tawney

FREE SPEECH From disagreement to discrimination: section 18C

LITERATURE Tolkien, Golding and Hell

SOCIETY New lease on life for freedom machine

MUSIC AND ENTERTAINMENT Talent shows grind down singers, grind out drivel

CINEMA Puppet people pull the plug: Me Before You

BOOK REVIEW HOMOSEXUALITY, MARRIAGE AND SOCIETY

BOOK REVIEW Friendship under fire

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CANBERRA OBSERVED
July 2: Independence Day or Groundhog Day?




News Weekly, July 2, 2016

It is astonishing to think that Australia could find itself back in the muddled era when team Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott controlled Federal Parliament, yet political analysts are suddenly speaking as if it is a real prospect.

 

Popping up all over again.

In an election that many say will be close, and in which it is unlikely that Labor will win all the seats it needs to govern in its own right, the next most likely prospect will be a hung parliament.

 

Four crossbench MPs – the Greens’ Adam Bandt, Queensland’s Bob Katter, Tasmanian Andrew Wilkie and Victorian Cathy McGowan – have strong prospects of being returned. But another Green MP in the Melbourne seat of Batman, and a Nick Xenophon Team MP in South Australia could also join them.

And then there are the old kingmakers (or rather queenmakers), Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott.

The pair, both former Nationals, turned their backs on their conservative voting electorates in 2010 to side with Julia Gillard and the Greens – a decision that ushered in a period of perverse policies and misguided decisions including lax border protection, the carbon tax, the mining tax, the Craig Thomson and Peter Slipper scandals, and the live cattle ban.

Mr Windsor is running against Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce in his former seat of New England, and has been campaigning for many months with the support of an amalgam of left and environmental groups.

Most pundits believe Mr Joyce will get over the line, but the result will be close and a Windsor victory cannot be discounted.

By contrast, Mr Oakeshott decided virtually on the last possible day to put his name forward for the seat of Cowper in northern New South Wales held by the Nationals’ Luke Hartsuyker.

Mr Oakeshott’s late entry and his lack of campaign structure would normally count against his chances of taking the seat, but anything is possible in a three-cornered contest.

Early reports suggest Mr Oakeshott was polling 20 per cent of voters.

Should there be a hung parliament (and putting aside the catastrophe for the Nationals should Mr Joyce be defeated), the wily Mr Windsor would, as he did last time, lead the rump of independents. Mr Windsor’s policies have become more entrenched with Labor and the Greens since he left Parliament.

Both Mr Oakeshott and Mr Windsor want to put a price on carbon should they be re-elected.

“One of the main reasons I’m running again for parliament is climate change. The last three years in Australia have seen a decline in focus on serious climate action by the national government, [and] I am determined to do what I can to make sure this does not continue,” Mr Windsor has said.

Both Mr Windsor and Mr Oakeshott acknowledge that the pact they signed with Labor was damaging to them, and both say they don’t need to do the same thing again. But they will have to side with one party or another, but so far neither has declared his hand.

However, the amount of resources and in-kind support unions and the Labor Party have thrown at the independents will make them beholden to them.

The Australian newspaper reported that the Maritime Union of Australia was assisting Mr Windsor in New England, while the Queensland Council of Unions was directly supporting Queensland independent Senator Glenn Lazarus.

The Australian Parliament has been in a state of policy gridlock for the past three terms. The Rudd-Gillard-Rudd era, followed by the Abbott-Turnbull era have been characterised by political disunity on both sides, inflamed by minor players exerting an influence totally out of proportion to their representation. Worse, the independents have sided with the Labor Party and the Greens to thwart the Coalition at every point.

Malcolm Turnbull called a rare double dissolution to break this logjam, hoping to break free of the difficulties of his three predecessors.

Unfortunately, it seems it won’t be successful. Certainly in the Senate the Nick Xenophon Team, Pauline Hanson and others will have control of legislation in the upper house. But the independents could hold the House of Representatives to ransom as well.

Hopefully, the Australian people will realise in the final days of the long election campaign that another three years of obstructionism, parochialism and chaos is the last thing their country needs in uncertain times.




























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