Good question

I was planning a long post on the Credlin v O’Dwyer story – but this morning I saw an op-ed by Peta Credlin in The Australian that makes a lot of what I wanted to argue somewhat moot (or more moot than usual).

Peta Credlin asks a good question – and answers it too:

How is it that O’Dwyer, a Cabinet minister with youth on her side, is even vulnerable to challenge in the first place? As recent Liberal Party elections show, O’Dwyer’s faction was roundly trounced after trying to unseat Michael Kroger as Victorian president. There’s even chatter that she no longer has the numbers in her own branches. I don’t know about that but what I do know is that she was responsible for superannuation reforms that incensed Coalition supporters and as Andrew Robb’s report attests, contributed to the government’s loss of 14 seats last July.

To be fair – Kelly O’Dwyer was not, and is not, solely responsible for that much-hated superannuation reform. I have not heard that the policy was her idea or initiative. She was the minister responsible for overall policy development and guiding the policy through the Parliament.

But she did make a huge mistake.

As Grace Collier explains:

In March this year, O’Dwyer said: “No one has a right to a super tax concession. It is a gift that the government should only provide when it makes sense.”

A gift. Letting people keep their own money is now considered a gift by a Liberal government.

Over the last few days we’ve seen media reports that a group of “millionaires” (a smear that is quickly losing its bite – it is so easy to be a millionaire these days with property prices being what they are and compulsory super) are trying to unseat Kelly O’Dwyer.

So here is where I differ from Peta Credlin:

… I’ve always taken a dim view of challenging sitting members. … Knifing games — whether in Higgins or Canberra — are part of the reason the Coalition is struggling in the polls and supporters are angry.

Well – yes. I put it you, however, that most people are not so much angry about the knifing in Canberra per se, as opposed to the fact that the knifing doesn’t seem to have improved the Coalition’s poor performance. (Those who are angry about the knifing per se seem to congregate here at the Cat, The Spectator, and Quadrant.) Had the Coalition begun treating its supporters with a bit more respect, and less contempt, the knifing would have been quickly forgiven and forgotten.

That is the point – the Coalition does not respect its supporters. We have in Canberra a group of individuals who will not take advice. If you cannot speak with politicians you have to challenge them. There are several mechanisms for doing so:

  • don’t donate money
  • don’t donate time
  • don’t vote for them
  • campaign against them
  • run against them in their seat
  • challenge them from within the party.

In a democracy these are all legitimate forms of protest and political engagement. In fact, in a representative democracy, this is exactly how the system has evolved to operate.  This is what we are seeing happen against the Coalition (the Liberals in particular, I think). They should give some thought as to why that is happening.

As an aside – I loved this backhander:

I made my position very clear to the journalist who first raised it with me on Friday, in my own News Corp column on Sunday and later that morning on air during Sky’s Agenda program. Despite this, a couple of professional Credlin critics have still tried to argue I’m at fault for failing to shut this story down (one might want to watch his own show for a start).

Ouch. Smack down.

Posted in Politics | 13 Comments

Q&A Forum: April 24, 2017

Posted in Open Forum | 74 Comments

David Leyonhjelm on wages and penalties

There are around 524,000 Australians currently looking for full-time jobs, plus a further 224,000 looking for part-time work.

As many of these people know only too well, the unemployment benefit for those over 22 is $535.60 a fortnight for singles and $483.60 for those ‘partnered’. For those under 18 and living with their parents, the benefit is $239.50 a fortnight.

The only obligation on those receiving this money is to look for a job. But if the money was actually payment for working a 38 hour week, it would equate to an hourly rate of $7.05, $6.36 and $3.15 respectively.

If the people receiving these benefits were to be offered double these amounts, on condition they work for it, a good number would accept. To many people, such a boost in income would be pretty attractive and work is no deterrent. To those barely scraping by, it would be especially appealing.

However, if they were to accept a job on that basis, all hell would break loose. Their employer would be vilified, prosecuted and fined for ‘exploiting’ them, and in due course they would receive additional money to compensate for their exploitation. Needless to say, no other employer would make a similar offer.

Simply put, you can be paid a fairly miserable amount for doing nothing, but you cannot be paid more than double that for doing something. If that sounds stupid, it’s because it is.

Australia has one of the highest minimum wages in the world. Australians are not allowed to take a full time job unless it pays at least $17.70 per hour or $672.70 per 38 hour week (before tax). Casual employees covered by the national minimum wage also get at least a 25 per cent casual loading. If they are asked to work on a Sunday where the award imposes a penalty rate of 175%, it could be more like $31 an hour.

Among the thousands of Australians who would love to have paid work are many of our most vulnerable socio-economic groups; those just out of school, just out of jail, age and disability support pensioners, former carers, sole parents and refugees.

Without question, the most constructive means of lifting these and others out of poverty is to assist them to join the workforce.

On the other side of the ledger are thousands of Australian businesses that would be willing to take on these job seekers and pay them more than they currently receive on welfare, but not as much as the law demands. Yet no matter how poor their resume or how willing they are to work, they can only be employed if they are paid what the law demands.

When the Fair Work Commission recently ruled that certain penalty rates for Sundays were to be reduced, the howls of outrage only related to those who had a job. Nobody seemed to care about those who might get one as a result of the changes. It is much the same with the minimum wage.

The simple reality is that mandatory wage rates lead to unemployment. It is also true that reducing the minimum wage creates more jobs; this is shown by empirical evidence and also makes sense from first principles. For every business there is a point at which the cost of hiring additional people can be recouped through additional sales and profits.

It is not at all clear why we even need a minimum wage. A number of countries, including Austria, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy and Singapore, have no minimum wage. In the OECD, only Luxembourg and France have a higher minimum wage than Australia.

Far too many Australians are unable to reach the bottom rung of the job ladder and lift themselves out of poverty. We impose a bar on many needy and vulnerable people that is just too high for them to clear. The Australian credo of giving everyone a fair go might apply to those who have a job, but it certainly isn’t being applied to those who don’t. Those who most need a job are blocked because of claims that those with a job are more important.

It is time for sensible voices to help the underdog by removing the barriers that prevent them from getting a job and improving their lives.

David Leyonhjelm is a Senator for the Liberal Democrats

Posted in Guest Post | 42 Comments

Monday Forum: April 24, 2017

Posted in Open Forum | 585 Comments

International elections scorecards

And now in France.


And in other election-related news:

WASH POST SHOCK POLL: Trump still beats Clinton, 43%-40%...

While at the other end of the spectrum:

Merkel’s populist foes in disarray as Germany defies Trump surge…

That must be why having stability like in North Korea is so important.

FRENCH ELECTION UPDATE: This could explain quite a bit: The crisis sends in its calling card. The concluding para with all the ones before it worth your time:

An entire generation of Europeans is facing economic stagnation and internal cultural exile in their own countries. That is surely explosive and would normally lead obviously to what Spengler calls an extraordinarily dangerous French moment. What is truly scandalous is how long it has taken to recognize the smash. The crises of globalization is only belatedly being acknowledged after years of denial by the mainstream press. A Narrative that stubbornly characterized Brexit as an irrational aberration and Trump as joint product of Russian hacking and bigotry may now reluctantly face the fact that a genuine challenge to the world order now exists.

Posted in International | 65 Comments

Adversity is good for the soul

Read this if you can bear it: David Archibald’s WA election diary. This is how it starts:

I have had more than ten years before the mast fighting the global-warmers. Early on in that interminable campaign, when I talked to federal politicians on the subject their eyes would glaze over. I realized they had no interest in stopping the harm to the country. In fact, when a Perth businessman hired a private room in a restaurant so that a few real scientists could give a briefing to Julie Bishop and Mathias Cormann, the response of those two was “Change public opinion and we will follow public opinion.” No leadership, no sense of right and wrong, no inclination to do the right thing for the country if it meant the slightest bit of effort on their part, or risking any of their political capital.

It’s long but filled with the kinds of detail you only wish wasn’t true but should know about anyway.

Posted in Australian Story, Politics | 65 Comments

Know thine enemy

There is something so lacking in resolve among the supposed right side of the political spectrum that I am at a loss to understand how to get others to see what is right before their eyes. The left knows its own. They can tell from the phrases they all use, their uniformity of perspective on every issue, their inability to reason and make sense of a contrary argument, that they are part of that side of the political world. Comments on my post on John Brennan dealing with Guess who was “a supporter of the American Communist Party at the height of the Cold War” has led me to put up this post as a response.

The first of these comments is just empty rhetoric from some Democrat/Hillary troll (however he might deny it) and is hardly worth a moment’s thought. But given that I had been on the left in my youth, one of the many things I have learned is that the most perfect dye-marker of someone who no longer has those views is that they never leave anyone in doubt about the ways their political beliefs have changed by their unrelenting criticisms of the left. Brennan has never said a word to indicate he has changed his political beliefs and was appointed by Obama! If you think he was ideologically a different man in 2013 than he was in 1976, when he could not even bring himself to vote for Jimmy Carter for heaven’s sake, you really ought to rethink these things again.

This comment is purely incoherent:

You can’t have it both ways Kates. On one hand you are complaining that a pinko ran the CIA. On the other you defend Trump’s assertions that Putin’s Russia is no worse than the USA! Make up your mind (if that’s at all possible).

These others, however, make a valid point, I suppose, but seem to be merely a preference to do nothing even as a three-alarm fire is raging right before them. Those asking that we investigate further whether the beliefs that John Brennan hold have changed in a more benign direction are, I’m afraid, forms of rhetorical junk. What genuine point do they make unless they have some reason to think that if we spent time and effort looking more closely at Brennan’s current views something else might turn up?

Christopher Hitchens was a Trotskyist around the same time.

Steve do you agree with what you thought in 1976?

The traffic from left to right is very thin. With no exception I can think of, all of the people I associated with in my student days have not changed their politics in any way other than to follow whatever the modern fashion might be. To remain friends, we just have to stay off certain topics, which is all right since I see them only every year or so at the most. I have a friend from my university days who went on to become Vice-President of a major Canadian insurance company, but when he retired he immediately went back to overtly expressing the political beliefs of his (and my) youth, beginning his instant return to the far left by reading every Chomsky book he could find. No doubt almost every corporate boardroom has imbeciles just like him. There is no country that would not be turned into Venezuela if these people had their way. They are as unable to understand the workings of a free market as they are to understand how hydrogen and oxygen turn into water.

If after eight years you still want to give Obama the benefit of the doubt, and John Brennan along with him, I cannot think what can be done to make you see how you are playing into the hands of the left assuming you are not actually part of the left already. And to be quite honest, I am anyway unable to distinguish as a matter of practical politics most of them from these leftist loons, although I am willing to hear in what way I may be wrong.

And having written the above, I have now come across this: Where is the Republican attack machine? It is directed at the impending shutdown of the American government when Congress refuses to pass a spending bill, but this is the serious point that has much wider implications:

Democrats are always so much better at spinning their nonsense than Republicans are. They whine, attack, and rally the troops every time there’s a big battle to be fought, while Republicans think somehow people will come around to their point of view. And Democrats do it in an organized fashion guided by a well thought out, long-term plan that nevertheless seems spontaneous. Republicans focus solely on today’s news cycle and think they can win the PR war via President Trump’s tweets.

It is in part because they have no widespread media vehicles to express their views. It is in part because most people are addicted to other people’s money. It is in part because whatever the label, most people are socialists of one kind or another with no deep personal attachments either to individual freedom or a market economy. And the same may be said for many of the politicians representing the parties of the so-called right.

Posted in Politics, Politics of the Left | 52 Comments

Open Forum: April 22, 2017

Posted in Open Forum | 1,494 Comments

Marching for science?

Hurry to reserve a good place! Please contact us ([email protected]) if you would like to reserve a place at the front for clear viewing.

Send in the clowns! A nice commentary by Roger Franklin.

Raining on the parade, a gory (sorry) history of the great Modern Myth of Looming Environmental Catastrophe.

The environmentalist strand began in 1972, with the UN Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm. Olof Palme, the controversial Swedish socialist prime minister, was host. Maurice Strong, who will appear repeatedly in what follows, was secretary general. The conference produced a Declaration and an Action Plan; but, perhaps more importantly, it led to the creation of the UN Environment Programme, with Strong as its first director.

And the rest is history.

A lengthy rejoinder to many of the myths that are getting the folk into the streets tomorrow.

Posted in Global warming and climate change policy, Rafe | 37 Comments

Call for Applicants – President of the Australian Human Rights Commission

Not a joke.

The Attorney Genera’s Department has made a call for applicants.  The job description is below, but it seems to be missing some of the key competencies of the current President.

Mark Latham – if you are listening.  Please throw your hat in for this one.

Job description


Applications are sought from suitably qualified persons for appointment to the statutory position of President of the Australian Human Rights Commission (the Commission). Please note that this position is established by, and the occupant employed under, the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (the Act).

The Commission’s functions are outlined in the Act and other Commonwealth anti-discrimination legislation. They include promoting community awareness of human rights, investigating human rights issues of national importance, conciliating complaints of unlawful discrimination, reviewing legislation for compliance with human rights, and advising the Government on legislation and policy relating to human rights.

Applicants should have significant experience with human rights issues. Although they should have a familiarity with the Act and with Commonwealth anti-discrimination law, it is not a requirement that applicants be legally qualified. Fields of professional experience may include the law and other professions, government, public policy, NGOs, academia, the media and the private sector.

Applicants should have the capacity to lead and manage a large and complex organisation. They should have a capacity to deal with dispute-resolution, in furtherance of the Commission’s complaint-handling function. The role of the President also involves public advocacy of human rights issues, working constructively with Government to advance human rights issues, and being accountable to the Parliament through its committees.

The position of President is a statutory position in respect of which remuneration and allowances are determined by the Commonwealth Remuneration Tribunal.

Posted in Uncategorized | 28 Comments