Labor Party Reform and Australian Democracy
Australian society and our model of democracy have been well served by a two party system, where the Australian Labor Party and the Liberal and National parties in Coalition compete for the right to govern. Our system is robust enough to accommodate the rise and role of independents and smaller parties like the Green political party. But make no mistake, our successful model has to date depended on two strong, competitive political blocs - the Labor Party and the conservatives. The fortunes [...]
Sydney Ferry services quietly privatised
Three former Labor Premiers and at least one transport minister will be more than a little surprised at the deal struck between the O’Farrell Government and unions to privatise Sydney ferry services.
Former Premier Morris Iemma commissioned work on the privatisation option back in 2008. Submissions were called from private sector operators under Nathan Rees in 2009. Privatisation was knocked on the head by Kristina Keneally in the face of stern opposition from unions in [...]
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CSG expert committee an opportunity not an impasse
Most Australians don’t yet know much, if anything at all, about the coal seam gas industry. But what they are hearing now and loudly is that CSG poses a risk to underground water and troubles rural communities and environmentalists alike.
The process that troubles people most is known as ‘fracking’ in which water and chemicals are pumped under high pressure into coal seams to break up the rock and release the gas for extraction. Critics argue this risks the availability [...]
Minority tyranny, the Greens and the Mining Tax
I get nervous when the Green political party starts issuing ultimatums and threatening to act petulantly when important legislation is before the national parliament.
This morning the Green political party's leader, Bob Brown, threatened to reject the Gillard Government's Minerals Resource Rent Tax legislation if it is amended and projected [...]
Environment needs a competent advocate, not more bad days
After only eight months in the job, Environment Minister Robyn Parker is almost on her last legs. The simple truth is, if the O’Farrell Government were a little older, if it were already starting to look a little dog-eared, Parker would no longer be a minister.
The Minister’s failure to respond quickly and adequately to the first Orica [...]
Obama's visit: time to reassess our relationship with the United States
President Obama's visit to Australia provides us with a good opportunity to assess how the relationship between our two countries has developed over the years.
It is also an appropriate time to pause and consider how that relationship is starting to become more complex as China asserts itself as our most important trading partner and the key to our future prosperity.
Presidential visits are rare and exciting events for Australians. I suspect that the attendant [...]
Ethics? Not here.
When Barry O'Farrell said he'd keep ethics classes going in NSW schools before this year’s election I thought good on him.
Some church leaders and followers had been most put out by the thought that ethics could be taught by anyone other than themselves - outside a religious context. They wanted it quashed - most certainly never offered in competition to scripture in schools. They even suggested it was discriminatory not to make it available to all students, but of course, [...]
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The bitter sweet taste for Labor on carbon tax win
After four long years, the Australian Parliament has finally passed legislation to put a price on carbon emissions.
So, congratulations to the Gillard Government for pressing ahead with this significant reform to the Australian economy and for demonstrating a commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Australia now joins many other nations operating with a carbon tax and joins an even longer list of countries participating in emissions trading schemes, [...]
Crunch time looms for tax on mining super profits
It’s close to crunch time for the Gillard Government’s Minerals Resource Rent Tax, (MRRT).
The legislation is now under consideration by the Parliament and the votes of key independent MPs Tony Windsor and Andrew Wilkie will be critical to its passage. Neither of these votes is tied up yet, with Tony Windsor wanting more action from the government to determine the environmental safety of and protocols for extracting coal seam gas before the industry is permitted further [...]
Burning Qantas in order to save it?
On Saturday afternoon, without any warning, tens of thousands of international and domestic Qantas passengers had their travel plans turned upside down. In Australia and at international terminals around the world, thousands of shocked, angry, inconvenienced and bewildered passengers were stranded.
Departure gates were filled with expectant travellers who were turned away. Already boarded aircraft were emptied. Some passengers were found accommodation. But on the whole, most [...]