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Analysis and Comment (298)

Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese worries that a depleted press gallery is affecting the quality of political reporting. Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese worries that a depleted press gallery is affecting the quality of political reporting. AAP/Lukas Coch

Quality of politics and political reporting is a two-way street

Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese recently bemoaned the decline in the quality of political reporting in Australia. Albanese is not the first current or ex-politician to question the standard of reporting…
An IEA legacy on the stairs at 10 Downing Street? An IEA legacy on the stairs at 10 Downing Street? The Prime Minister's Office

How the free-market ideology of IEA has gained political ground

The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) is enjoying another moment in the sun. Australian politics is starting to move to the beat of its drum as Treasurer Joe Hockey talks about an “end to the age of…
Federal MP Clive Palmer vowed to block the budget’s ‘horrific cuts’ in his Queensland Media Club address this week. Federal MP Clive Palmer vowed to block the budget’s ‘horrific cuts’ in his Queensland Media Club address this week. AAP/Dan Peled

Populist Palmer drops his jester act to appeal to middle Australia

It looks like there’s a new Clive Palmer in town. At Monday’s Queensland Media Club lunch in Brisbane, where the Palmer United Party (PUP) leader talked down the federal budget and spruiked his own ideas…
Christopher Pyne wants to purge the national curriculum of political ‘bias’, but the curriculum is nearly party-politics free. Christopher Pyne wants to purge the national curriculum of political ‘bias’, but the curriculum is nearly party-politics free. AAP/Dan Peled

A lesson for Christopher Pyne: kids hate political history

Announcing his review into the national curriculum late last week, education minister Christopher Pyne said that the government fears it has a partisan leaning towards leftist politics and doesn’t recognise…
The government needs nearly all of the 22 votes that National Party leader Warren Truss can deliver to guarantee passage of its legislation. The government needs nearly all of the 22 votes that National Party leader Warren Truss can deliver to guarantee passage of its legislation. AAP Image/Dan Peled

Libs vs Nats: GrainCorp stoush shows cracks run deep in the Coalition

Socrates once observed that no-one could be a statesman if they were entirely ignorant of the problem of wheat. Once again wheat – or, more precisely, grain handling and the sale of GrainCorp – is drawing…
Kevin Rudd leaves parliament with his future as uncertain as his legacy. Kevin Rudd leaves parliament with his future as uncertain as his legacy. AAP/Daniel Munoz

The Rudd legacy: we need to talk about Kevin … or do we?

Should we care about Kevin Rudd’s legacy? Will anyone care? Australian political historians gaze with envy at the United States, where past presidents are revered and books about the “founding fathers…
Nationals, Labor and Indonesians are complicating Abbott’s early days. Nationals, Labor and Indonesians are complicating Abbott’s early days. AAP Image/Jane Dempster

Grattan on Friday: When you actually have to do it, governing doesn’t seem so easy

Tony Abbott must be thinking: thank goodness for the “honeymoon”. It is helping lessen the public impact of some quite serious early problems his government is having. Abbott is assisted not just by the…
The new opposition leader, Bill Shorten, has very little leverage over the government. The new opposition leader, Bill Shorten, has very little leverage over the government. AAP Image/Lukas Coch

Punching, prodding and blocking: the opposition’s changing role in politics

Australian parliamentary politics has always had a reputation for a certain rough and tumble. In the 1850s, British economist William Stanley Jevons commented on the rowdiness of the proceedings of the…
Julia Gillard has returned to the public spotlight just months after she was deposed as prime minister, and will likely remain front-and-centre in public life. Julia Gillard has returned to the public spotlight just months after she was deposed as prime minister, and will likely remain front-and-centre in public life. AAP/Dan Himbrechts

Life after the prime ministership: a trek through history

Former prime minister Julia Gillard has returned to the spotlight after maintaining a dignified silence since her removal as Labor leader in June. Since the defeat of the federal Labor government, she…
A vote for Clive Palmer is a vote for giant, animatronic dinosaurs. A vote for Clive Palmer is a vote for giant, animatronic dinosaurs. AAP/Dave Hunt

Australia: land of eccentric election candidates

Here’s a sentence you probably won’t hear again for a while: when I lived in the UK, I couldn’t get over how constructive and intelligent British politics was. Having come from Australia, where Question…
Do the math. Higher education is important to Australian voters. Do the math. Higher education is important to Australian voters. University image from www.shutterstock.com

Is higher education a vote changer?

There are no votes in higher education, right? One former cabinet minister would refer to universities as “the dogs” - because if you kick ‘em, they just roll over. Conventional wisdom has long told us…
Is there a better way to face the challenges of the future? Is there a better way to face the challenges of the future? Clown image from www.shutterstock.com

Forget the Sideshow: Australia needs better decision-making for a better future

As a nation we pay too much attention to the sensational and the short-term. Whether it’s a social media spat, a gaffe in question time, or a political interview that runs off the rails – our national…
Julia Gillard has taken Tony Abbott and the Liberals to task for gender bias, but what about her own stance on gay marriage? Julia Gillard has taken Tony Abbott and the Liberals to task for gender bias, but what about her own stance on gay marriage? AAP/Lukas Coch

As a gay man, I will not be lectured on discrimination by Julia Gillard

Julia Gillard has had a rough few days. More accurately weeks, well, months. Let’s face it, years. And at the centre of so many of her travails has been debate about her gender. She’s been called a witch…
Gillard’s personal resilience is remarkable, whatever one thinks of her political nous. Gillard’s personal resilience is remarkable, whatever one thinks of her political nous. AAP/Alan Porritt

Grattan on Friday: Crazy days, and more to come before it’s over

Parliament is up for a week, before its final fortnight session of the term. Labor MPs are dreading those last two weeks. If they are anything like the past few days, they’ll be disastrous. “Febrile” and…
While reporters' political biases are always hotly debated, other biases remain - including too few voices from diverse backgrounds. While reporters' political biases are always hotly debated, other biases remain - including too few voices from diverse backgrounds. AAP/Alan Porritt

Whose views skew the news? Media chiefs ready to vote out Labor, while reporters lean left

Most Australian journalists describe themselves as left-wing, yet amongst those who wield the real power in the country’s newsrooms, the Coalition holds a winning lead. But while the media’s political…
Nicola Roxon announces she is leaving parliament. The race to fill the vacancy in her seat of Gellibrand illustrates many of the challenges faced by Labor. Nicola Roxon announces she is leaving parliament. The race to fill the vacancy in her seat of Gellibrand illustrates many of the challenges faced by Labor. AAP/Alan Porrit

Home is where the vote is: should politicians live in the seats they represent?

Can someone provide effective representation for a community if they live outside the boundaries of the district they hope to represent? Or more bluntly, should a member of parliament not only live in…
The remaining A$3.5 billion needed to fully fund the NDIS will still need to be found from other sources. The remaining A$3.5 billion needed to fully fund the NDIS will still need to be found from other sources. Image from shutterstock.com

Coalition support for levy just a step along the road to an NDIS

The announcement that opposition leader Tony Abbott will support a 0.5% increase to the Medicare Levy to fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) takes the politics out of about half the additional…
Certainty of funding is important and that’s why an income tax levy or premium is the way to go. Certainty of funding is important and that’s why an income tax levy or premium is the way to go. Image from shutterstock.com

Increasing income tax the right choice for a sustainable NDIS

While an income tax increase may be hard to sell to some people in the community in the lead-up to a federal election, it’s the right choice for a sustainable National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS…
Soon after revealing his plans to build a replica Titanic, Clive Palmer has set his sights on becoming Australian Prime Minister. Soon after revealing his plans to build a replica Titanic, Clive Palmer has set his sights on becoming Australian Prime Minister. EPA/Jason Szenes

Titanic ambitions: Palmer’s federal push shouldn’t be lightly dismissed

Queensland has a habit of raising the eyebrows of our southern cousins when it comes to politics “our way”. Visits to friends and family down south always have required explanations about Joh Bjelke-Petersen…
British PM Margaret Thatcher meets with her Australian counterpart Malcolm Fraser in 1979 - what was her lasting effect on politics here? British PM Margaret Thatcher meets with her Australian counterpart Malcolm Fraser in 1979 - what was her lasting effect on politics here? AAP/National Archives

Both left and right: Thatcher’s undeniable influence on Australian politics

Margaret Thatcher’s years as British prime minister from 1979 to 1990 coincided with an era of political upheaval in Australia. The exhaustion of Malcolm Fraser’s “Menziesian” liberalism was followed by…
Julian Assange needs to consider his Australian senate run as more than just a ticket out of the Ecuadorian embassy. Julian Assange needs to consider his Australian senate run as more than just a ticket out of the Ecuadorian embassy. EPA/Kerim Okten

Senate run must be more than a get-out-of-jail card for Assange

Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks Party is gathering momentum ahead of this year’s federal election. Prominent barrister and political figure Greg Barns has been announced as the party’s national campaign director…
The sensible thing for Tony Abbott to do would be make himself as small a target as possible as the election draws near - but sooner or later he will need to put forward some detailed policies. The sensible thing for Tony Abbott to do would be make himself as small a target as possible as the election draws near - but sooner or later he will need to put forward some detailed policies. AAP/Lukas Coch

Never mind the leadership, what about the Opposition?

When Tony Abbott became leader of the Liberal Party by just one vote in December 2009 he saved the Liberal Party and non-Labor cause nationally from annihilation. Kevin Rudd as prime minister was riding…
No blood was spilt today in parliament, but we still had a leadership spill. No blood was spilt today in parliament, but we still had a leadership spill. Spill image from www.shutterstock.com

Explainer: how does a leadership spill work?

After a harrowing day in parliament, the Labor party saw a leadership spill and Prime Minister Gillard was returned as leader. The only thing was… no one contested the top spot and Julia Gillard’s name…
Julia Gillard emerges triumphant after challenging Kevin Rudd for the leadership in 2010. She has survived two subsequent threats to her leadership since. Is this the new normal for Australian politics? Julia Gillard emerges triumphant after challenging Kevin Rudd for the leadership in 2010. She has survived two subsequent threats to her leadership since. Is this the new normal for Australian politics? AAP/Alan Porritt

Julia Gillard may have won the vote, but the ALP remains desperately dysfunctional

Julia Gillard lives to fight another day, having being reelected unopposed at this afternoon’s caucus meeting. While Rudd declared he would not nominate for the leadership this time, the destablisation…
Simon Crean has called for a spill of all leadership positions. Simon Crean has called for a spill of all leadership positions. AAP

Crean fires the gun on leadership: ‘I don’t want any more games’

Julia Gillard has called a ballot for the leadership at 4:30pm. Gillard announced the ballot at the start of question time. “In the meantime, give it your best shot,” she told the house. Veteran Labor…
Julia Gillard’s tour of the western suburbs of Sydney is a shining example of politics and media merging into “stunt”. Julia Gillard’s tour of the western suburbs of Sydney is a shining example of politics and media merging into “stunt”. AAP/Paul Miller

Mug punters: the people and their relationship with politics and the media

We live in an era of expanded media and accelerated news cycles, in which citizens have access to more information, and more opportunities to participate in the public sphere, than ever before in human…
Terry Mills has been ousted as Chief Minister of the Northern Territory by Adam Giles. Terry Mills has been ousted as Chief Minister of the Northern Territory by Adam Giles. AAP

Darwinian politics: it’s survival of the fittest for the top job in the Territory

It’s a fact up north that our governments habitually overthrow their Chief Ministers. By my estimation, five of the nine (now 10) Chief Ministers have been ousted by their party colleagues rather than…
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy’s media reforms have been called an attack on freedom of speech, but is the criticism deserved? Communications Minister Stephen Conroy’s media reforms have been called an attack on freedom of speech, but is the criticism deserved? AAP/Lukas Coch

Media reform: hysterical attacks on weak Conroy suggestions tell the real story

The ongoing criticism in the major news media of Communication Minister Stephen Conroy’s very soft and watery proposed media reforms is predictable but still breathtaking. Conroy’s proposals go nowhere…
Former Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu’s resignation could trigger a constitutional crisis for the state government. Former Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu’s resignation could trigger a constitutional crisis for the state government. Julian Smith/AAP

Baillieu: Victorian uncertainty may lead to constitutional confusion

The dramatic resignation of Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu may have surprised many but cannot be considered altogether unexpected. A year that began poorly for the now ex-Premier yesterday completely overwhelmed…
Adam Bandt celebrating his 2010 election success as the federal member for Melbourne. Adam Bandt celebrating his 2010 election success as the federal member for Melbourne. Julian Smith/AAP

In Conversation: Douglas Hilton and Adam Bandt MP

Adam Bandt is the first Australian Greens MP to win a seat in the House of Representatives at a federal election. And while the seat of Melbourne, which takes in the inner suburbs and CBD of the nation’s…
Adam Bandt is the first Australian Greens MP to win a seat in the House of Representatives at a federal election. Adam Bandt is the first Australian Greens MP to win a seat in the House of Representatives at a federal election. Alan Porritt/AAP

Adam Bandt and Doug Hilton In Conversation - full transcript

Doug Hilton: I’m the director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research and I have with me today Adam Bandt, the Greens' member for Melbourne. Why don’t you start by outlining your background…
Julia Gillard should make her diary of appointments and visits public according to the Information Commissioner. Julia Gillard should make her diary of appointments and visits public according to the Information Commissioner. AAP/Dave Hunt

Gillard’s diaries are a matter of public interest

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has been encouraged to be more open and accountable to the Australian public by releasing her official meeting diary. Although Gillard is not legally required to, Freedom of…
Australian Greens leader Senator Christine Milne called for an end to the ALP and Greens alliance during a National Press Club speech. Australian Greens leader Senator Christine Milne called for an end to the ALP and Greens alliance during a National Press Club speech. Alan Porritt/AAP

The end of the ALP/Green alliance is all sound and fury

The termination of the ALP/Green alliance has been characterised by some sections of the media and the commentariat as a “divorce”. The language is interesting because it implies that there was genuine…
Happier times: prime minister Julia Gillard and former Greens leader Bob Brown’s agreement has largely been upheld. Happier times: prime minister Julia Gillard and former Greens leader Bob Brown’s agreement has largely been upheld. Alan Porritt/AAP

Government didn’t walk away from the Greens, but Milne needed to ditch Labor

Greens leader Christine Milne’s announcement yesterday that the alliance between the Greens and Labor was over had more symbolic than practical implications for Australian politics. Senator Milne vowed…
Julia Gillard’s early announcement of the election date has sparked a debate on fixed terms. Julia Gillard’s early announcement of the election date has sparked a debate on fixed terms. AAP/Julian Smith

It’s time for a debate on federal fixed terms

When prime minister Julia Gillard announced last month the nation would go to the polls on September 14, she made political history and caught the nation off guard. She also sparked renewed debate about…
Julia Gillard has called a September election, will we be able to tell the difference between governing and campaigning? Julia Gillard has called a September election, will we be able to tell the difference between governing and campaigning? AAP/Alan Porrit

Governing in a campaign year: what next for policy in 2013?

Last week, prime minister Julia Gillard told the Australian public they’d be able to tell the difference between campaigning and governing during this election year. Over the following days, which saw…
Western Australians are heading to the polls twice this year. Western Australians are heading to the polls twice this year. Jay-Oh

Western Australia: two elections for the price of two

If the thought of one election campaign is your worst nightmare, then pity the West Australians. When Julia Gillard announced a September federal election it meant two campaigns being run simultaneously…
Nicola Roxon, Julia Gillard and Chris Evans leave the stage after the press conference announcing the departure of the two former senior ministers. Nicola Roxon, Julia Gillard and Chris Evans leave the stage after the press conference announcing the departure of the two former senior ministers. AAP/Alan Porritt

Would Roxon and Evans have resigned if Labor had greater purpose?

Much of the commentary surrounding the resignations of Nicola Roxon and Chris Evans has interpreted the departures as yet another episode in the neverending disaster that is the Rudd-Gillard government…
Australia is one of the only countries in the democratic world that doesn’t require political parties to report electoral expenditure. Australia is one of the only countries in the democratic world that doesn’t require political parties to report electoral expenditure. Flickr/Mindful One

Identifying political donors is only half the transparency story this election year

The release of political donation data from 2011—2012 has predictably generated headlines about who paid what to which Australian political parties over the past year. In line with the Commonwealth Electoral…
Former Higher Education Minister Chris Evans announces his resignation in Canberra. Former Higher Education Minister Chris Evans announces his resignation in Canberra. AAP/Alan Porrit

Roxon and Evans resign - much ado about nothing

The Gillard government has lost two important figures that contributed much to the Labor administration. Chris Evans, leader of the party in the Senate, and Attorney General, Nicola Roxon, both announced…
Julia Gillard has taken a punt on a long campaign. Julia Gillard has taken a punt on a long campaign. AAP/Alan Porritt

Election 2013: Julia Gillard’s September gamble

Julia Gillard is an Australian political pioneer in many ways. She was the first female prime minister, she led the first minority government in the post-war period and recently moved to appoint the first…
Too much has been made of the IMF’s report that shows John Howard’s government was fiscally profligate. Too much has been made of the IMF’s report that shows John Howard’s government was fiscally profligate. AAP/Sergio Dionisio

Was John Howard really fiscally profligate?

A recent publication by the International Monetary Fund provides examines government fiscal policy in 55 major economies. The report employs the rather loaded terminology of “prudence” or “profligacy…
The region has changed a lot in 100 years, but old anxieties remain. The region has changed a lot in 100 years, but old anxieties remain. The New Student's Reference Work

One hundred years of regional anxiety: how our leaders have talked about Asia

It seems 2012 was all about Asia: from the Australia in the Asian Century White Paper, to the possible repercussions of the Obama administration’s “Pacific turn”, and the continued rise of China. These…
Has it been a particularly bad year for Australian politics? Has it been a particularly bad year for Australian politics? AAP Image/Lukas Coch

All out war: the year that was in Australian politics

The political year has been characterised by many commentators as a grisly one, full of aggressive personal abuse and character assassination. A prime example was the vituperative final week of parliamentary…
Does Julia Gillard really love cricket? The law of sport and politics says she must. Does Julia Gillard really love cricket? The law of sport and politics says she must. AAP/Andrew Taylor

Fake it till you make it: why Australian politicians ‘love’ sport

It was the last sitting day of the federal parliament for the year. Opposition leader Tony Abbott was suggesting that prime minister Julia Gillard was a criminal, who in turn was rehearsing her lines that…
Has the time come for Paul Keating to put the geo-political cue in the rack? Has the time come for Paul Keating to put the geo-political cue in the rack? AAP Image/Guy Wilmot

Doing us slowly: why Paul Keating’s legacy is killing the current government

In charting how Australia has influence in its foreign policy, the figure of Paul John Keating rightly looms large. Yet his recent speech is less effective as a call for greater independence from the USA…
Debates can change a campaign, as the US experience has shown. Debates can change a campaign, as the US experience has shown. EPA/Rick Wilking

Leaders debates matter – let’s get serious about them in Australia

Only a month ago the outcome of the US presidential election was seen my most commentators as being a question of the margin of President Barack Obama’s victory. But then the television debates intervened…
Julia Gillard meets the govenor general after winning the 2010 election. Can she repeat the trick next year? Julia Gillard meets the govenor general after winning the 2010 election. Can she repeat the trick next year? AAP/David Foote

Sweetest of them all: how Julia Gillard won the 2013 election

From the time the carbon tax policy was unveiled in February 2011 until its implementation on July 1, the unchallenged consensus of the Canberra press gallery was that a Tony Abbott prime ministership…
Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd in parliament shortly after the 2010 federal election. Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd in parliament shortly after the 2010 federal election. AAP/Alan Porritt

Maxine McKew In Conversation: full transcript

Dennis Altman I’m going to start by quoting you when you say, talking about your career as a journalist, particularly a radio and television journalist, that “there was plenty of robust exchanges but my…
The ACT election result has produced another hung parliament. ALP leader Kate Gallagher is waiting to find out if she’ll lead it. The ACT election result has produced another hung parliament. ALP leader Kate Gallagher is waiting to find out if she’ll lead it. AAP/Alan Porritt

ACT election swing no killer blow for the Greens

As numbers from polling booths across the ACT started to go up on the big screen in the tally room on Saturday night the first and most obvious trend was a huge swing to the Liberals and a correlative…
If someone got access to your personal information, wouldn’t you want to know? If someone got access to your personal information, wouldn’t you want to know? subcircle/Flickr

‘You’ve been hacked’: why data-breach reporting should be mandatory

In an age of Facebook, eBay and online banking, data privacy is becoming more important than ever before. The majority of Australians have personal information stored online with a range of organisations…
Macquarie is changing its definition of misogyny… but it still applies to the leader of the opposition. Macquarie is changing its definition of misogyny… but it still applies to the leader of the opposition. AAP/Pan Macmillan

Tony Abbott is a misogynist, however the dictionary defines it

As an academic, I often become obsessed with the meaning of words. They lure me in with their conceptual promise, and then I get hooked and tangled on distinctions and disciplinary nuance. Perhaps unsurprisingly…
Are cuts the best way to achieve efficient Government? Are cuts the best way to achieve efficient Government? Joe Castro / AAP

Slash, burn and churn: public service cuts miss the mark

I was sitting in a session at the Institute of Public Administration Congress recently where Greg Hywood, the CEO of Fairfax, boldly announced that the public sector simply did not understand cuts. Not…
Prime Minister Julia Gillard in parliament - has the Slipper resignation cost her political momentum? Prime Minister Julia Gillard in parliament - has the Slipper resignation cost her political momentum? AAP/Alan Porritt

Sinking the Slipper: Labor is its own worst enemy

The Gillard government could have been forgiven for believing an electoral renaissance was underway. But just as it appeared the prime minister was going to cruise to the end of the year, the government…
Julia Gillard attacked Tony Abbott’s past comments about women in a passionate speech during Question Time. Julia Gillard attacked Tony Abbott’s past comments about women in a passionate speech during Question Time. AAP/Lukas Coch

Julia Gillard hits back at a long history of sexism in parliament

Peter Slipper has resigned. The sexist text messages mentioning female genitalia published as part of a civil court case were suddenly the bridge too far for Her Majesty’s Opposition. But the Opposition…
Tony Abbott greets Liberal MP Kelly O'Dwyer before an event in Melbourne. Does the Opposition Leader have an issue with women? Tony Abbott greets Liberal MP Kelly O'Dwyer before an event in Melbourne. Does the Opposition Leader have an issue with women? AAP/David Crosling

Tony Abbott and women: how both sides have played the gender card

In a discussion with ABC journalist Emma Alberici on Lateline last week, Liberal MP Kelly O’Dwyer defended Tony Abbott from attacks by Labor ministers who criticised his attitudes towards women. In the…
Former Prime Minister John Howard is misinformed about the Australian history curriculum. Former Prime Minister John Howard is misinformed about the Australian history curriculum. AAP Image/Julian Smith

Howard’s history repeating: curriculum complaints nothing new

There is a great deal of derogatory, evidence-free and ill-informed opinion about how history is taught in Australian schools. But these tired arguments are so often repeated that we can actually put them…
The families of the interned men of the Caminiti clan in Queensland, circa 1940. The families of the interned men of the Caminiti clan in Queensland, circa 1940. Supplied

When ethnicity counts: civilian internment in Australia during WW2

When Fascist Italy declared war on Britain in mid-1940, almost 5,000 Italians living in Australia were imprisoned in internment camps. Few Italian families escaped the human cost of detention as “enemy…
Cory Bernardi making his now infamous comments on gay marriage in the Australian Senate last night. Cory Bernardi making his now infamous comments on gay marriage in the Australian Senate last night. ABC News

Bernardi slips down the political slope with bestial comments on marriage

South Australian Senator Cory Bernardi’s comments about gay marriage have caused an uproar. Today he was forced to step down from his position as parliamentary secretary to Tony Abbott. But are they representative…
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s conduct as a student politician is under scrutiny after the release of the new Quarterly Essay. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s conduct as a student politician is under scrutiny after the release of the new Quarterly Essay. AAP/Lukas Coch

Much ado Abbott nothing: Marr’s Quarterly Essay misses the mark

There is a limit to what any writer can do in 20,000 words, so not too much should be expected of the essays in the Quarterly Essay series. Nevertheless, a number of them have been influential, including…
Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan, pictured at the ALP state conference in Queensland on Sunday, finally have something to smile about. Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan, pictured at the ALP state conference in Queensland on Sunday, finally have something to smile about.

ALP should ride the poll bump and leave the Greens alone

This week’s Newspoll and Age/Nielsen poll make interesting reading in the wake of last week’s debate over the relationship between the Labor and the Greens. According to Newspoll, support for Labor has…
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman congratulates Treaurer Tim Nicholls after handing down the first LNP budget in 14 years. Queensland Premier Campbell Newman congratulates Treaurer Tim Nicholls after handing down the first LNP budget in 14 years. AAP/Dave Hunt

Politically sharp Queensland budget might cut both ways for Newman

As budgets go we’ve seen tougher, but not often. The first appropriation bill of the Queensland’s new Liberal-National government – the first non-Labor budget in 14 years – was always going to be austere…
Malcolm Turnbull calls time on Question Time. Malcolm Turnbull calls time on Question Time. (AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Question Time: don’t change the contest we want to watch

Malcolm Turnbull’s call to change Question Time is admirable. He has proposed looking to the British system, where the Prime Minister is only required to answer questions one day a week, giving other ministers…
We’ve had the big announcement on schools funding, but now comes the political reality. We’ve had the big announcement on schools funding, but now comes the political reality. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

State stoush: the Gonski reforms and the political battle ahead

The battle over the future of Australia’s school funding arrangements has started in earnest. Outlining the government’s response to the landmark Gonski Review, Prime Minister Gillard spoke of a national…
The Gillard response to the Gonski review was a disappointment and could have been much more. The Gillard response to the Gonski review was a disappointment and could have been much more. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

No detail, all strategy and an opportunity lost on Gonski reforms

Yesterday the Prime Minister announced the government will introduce some of the recommendations of the Gonski Review, including a new model for funding schools. Many commentators criticised the announcement…
Prime Minister Julia Gillard speaking at the National Press Club yesterday signalled serious changes to the states' role in education. Prime Minister Julia Gillard speaking at the National Press Club yesterday signalled serious changes to the states' role in education. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

The real agenda behind Gillard’s Gonski response

After the government’s response to the Gonski report on schools funding, it’s worth looking at not only what was in the announcement but what wasn’t. Prime Minister Julia Gillard offered no indication…
Both political parties are lining up their elections strategies now, even though an election could still be a year away. Both political parties are lining up their elections strategies now, even though an election could still be a year away. AAP Image/Lukas Coch

Feels like an election year? Here’s why

The former British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson famously said a week is a long time in politics. If this is the case, then you have to wonder how long it will feel if the current Parliament runs it full…
There was cause for new NT chief minister Terry Mills to cheer this weekend, but political debate continues to suffer in Australia. There was cause for new NT chief minister Terry Mills to cheer this weekend, but political debate continues to suffer in Australia. AAP

Politics without passion: NT election another act in an uninspiring policy circus

Labor has just lost another election in Australia to the opposition in an electoral race that was dominated by negative messages, where both parties attempted unsuccessfully to differentiate themselves…
The final pieces of the historical puzzle around the 1975 Whitlam dismissal are not as sensational as they first seem. The final pieces of the historical puzzle around the 1975 Whitlam dismissal are not as sensational as they first seem. Image courtesy of National Archives of Australia. NAA: A6180, 13/11/75/33

Mason’s role in the 1975 dismissal ‘unprecedented’? Hardly …

Much hyperbole has been generated by the recent revelations concerning Sir Anthony Mason’s involvement in the 1975 dismissal, but for the most part it shows ignorance of the past. Earlier this week, The…
Country Liberal Party (CLP) leader Terry Mills (left) shakes hands with Northern Territory Chief Minister Paul Henderson ahead of an election debate in Darwin. Country Liberal Party (CLP) leader Terry Mills (left) shakes hands with Northern Territory Chief Minister Paul Henderson ahead of an election debate in Darwin. AAP/Xaiver La Canna

NT election: the build up to the storm

This week the Northern Territory News announced that by the end of the week we can expect the notorious “build up” that heralds the end of the dry season, to begin. Today the first clouds we have seen…
Julia Gillard yesterday blasted those on the internet for recycling rumours about her, part of what she calls a sexist campaign. Julia Gillard yesterday blasted those on the internet for recycling rumours about her, part of what she calls a sexist campaign. AAP Image/Lukas Coch

Misogynists and nut jobs: Gillard stares down blogosphere

Prime minister Julia Gillard took aim yesterday at the “misogynists” and “nut jobs” on the internet posting about her conduct 17 years ago while working as an industrial lawyer. The Prime Minister said…
In asylum seeker policy, the most punitive measures are the most politically acceptable. In asylum seeker policy, the most punitive measures are the most politically acceptable. AAP/Lukas Coch

For asylum seekers, ‘disincentives’ are the new deterrence

Remarkably, in all the 162 pages of the Houston panel’s report on asylum seekers, the word “deter” does not appear a single time. But this does not necessarily indicate a welcome move away from the deterrence-based…
The Houston panel - Paris Aristotle, Angus Houston and Michael L'Estrange - briefed the media on their findings yesterday afternoon. The Houston panel - Paris Aristotle, Angus Houston and Michael L'Estrange - briefed the media on their findings yesterday afternoon. AAP/Alan Porritt

Houston panel ignores the evidence on asylum seekers

The Report of the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers contains some threads of a genuine shift from the prevailing framework towards a more regulatory model for responding to asylum seekers. The panel has abandoned…
Joyous photos such as this one of Phyllis Siegel, 76, right, and Connie Kopelov, 84, marrying in New York could soon flood out of Tasmania. Joyous photos such as this one of Phyllis Siegel, 76, right, and Connie Kopelov, 84, marrying in New York could soon flood out of Tasmania. EPA/Michael Appleton

Tasmanian same-sex marriage push makes an honest nation of Australia

I personally experienced the full necessity for marriage equality only recently. In the sunny town of Lamego, Portugal, my dear friend Nina was married to her beloved Marcos. She was the first of my friends…
Fiona Patten is President of the Australian Sex Party and CEO of sex industry lobby group the EROS Foundation. Fiona Patten is President of the Australian Sex Party and CEO of sex industry lobby group the EROS Foundation. AAP/Julian Smith

Political party or lobby group? The dark side of the Australian Sex Party

“Vote for more sex!” Walking through the party pamphleteers to vote in Melbourne last week felt more like passing through a light-hearted student union ballot than a tightly contested state by-election…
Prime Minister Julia Gillard speaking at the release of the Gonski report in Canberra earlier this year. Prime Minister Julia Gillard speaking at the release of the Gonski report in Canberra earlier this year. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

From lukewarm to wedge issue: how Labor could use Gonski at the next election

After nearly six months on the policy bench, the Gillard Labor government is planning to release its response to the Gonski review into school funding. The government is still debating the reforms in cabinet…
Opposition education spokesman Christopher Pyne’s recent comments show his misunderstanding of curriculum. Opposition education spokesman Christopher Pyne’s recent comments show his misunderstanding of curriculum. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

A history of misinformation: Pyne spreads curriculum myths

On the ABC’s Q&A program on Monday night, Shadow Minister for Education Christopher Pyne was asked what the Liberal Party would do about the national (history) curriculum if they came to power. Pyne’s…
ALP candidate Jennifer Kanis (pictured) has won a narrow victory over favoured Greens candidate Cathy Oke. ALP candidate Jennifer Kanis (pictured) has won a narrow victory over favoured Greens candidate Cathy Oke. AAP/David Crosling

ALP claims victory in Melbourne, is it time to make nice with the Greens?

The outcome of the Melbourne by-election, in which Labor has claimed a narrow victory, reflected a disappointing performance from the Greens. At the 2010 state election Labor’s victory was dependent on…
Greens candidate Cathy Oke and deputy leader Adam Bandt will be hoping for a win this Saturday. Greens candidate Cathy Oke and deputy leader Adam Bandt will be hoping for a win this Saturday. AAP Image/Juolian Smith

Bronwyn piked on Melbourne, now the Greens are set to swoop

Thanks to the hubris of Bronwyn Pike, the Victorian Labor party is forced to contest a byelection this weekend it did not want or need. After years of opportunities provided by the Labor party to the former…
Former politician and economist John Hewson speaks to ANU’s Crawford School’s Bruce Chapman and Daniel Connell. Former politician and economist John Hewson speaks to ANU’s Crawford School’s Bruce Chapman and Daniel Connell.

John Hewson: tax reform doesn’t just mean lowering taxes

Welcome to the latest in our In Conversation series, between former politician and economist Dr John Hewson, Australian National University (ANU) Crawford School Director of Policy Impact Professor Bruce…
Is next week’s Melbourne state byelection a test for federal Labor? Is next week’s Melbourne state byelection a test for federal Labor? AAP Image/Joe Castro

Melbourne byelection: has a Labor stronghold gone Green?

The looming byelection in the state seat of Melbourne is set to have a national impact. With Greens candidate Cathy Oke strongly tipped to beat Labor’s Jennifer Kanis on 21 July - the first time the ALP…
Craig Emerson may be well regarded as Trade Minister, but he can’t sing. Craig Emerson may be well regarded as Trade Minister, but he can’t sing. AAP/Lukas Coch

Singing, dancing politicians: don’t do it, unless you can

It is a clear and incontrovertible case for the Deparment of Community Services and the public must immediately demand intervention. We cannot allow the suffering of the children to continue. I am of course…
Politics is more than just the daily tussle of the news cycle and soundbites. Politics is more than just the daily tussle of the news cycle and soundbites. AAP/Lukas Coch

Politics: it is everything you do and more

The term political junkie gets bandied about a great deal, but this addict has no problem in admitting his habit. It’s been a pure joy to be able to read, think and write about politics and government…
While politicians debated a bill in Canberra, 150 asylum seekers' lives were at risk. While politicians debated a bill in Canberra, 150 asylum seekers' lives were at risk. AAP/Australian Maritime Safety Authority

Six issues missing from the asylum seeker debate

When asylum seekers die at sea there are too many things we don’t want to talk about. Following the news of another asylum boat capsizing yesterday, at 2pm the federal Parliament began with a sombre and…
Opposition leader Tony Abbott is looking to the politics of the United Kingdom for policy inspiration. Opposition leader Tony Abbott is looking to the politics of the United Kingdom for policy inspiration. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

The influence of ‘Big Society’: Abbott borrows from UK conservatives

Earlier this month, opposition leader Tony Abbott presented the second instalment of the Liberal and National parties’ “Plan for Stronger Communities”, having already outlined elements of the plan at the…
Rinehart’s right-wing views may have a new outlet if her tilt at Fairfax is successful. Rinehart’s right-wing views may have a new outlet if her tilt at Fairfax is successful. AAP/PPR

Gina Rinehart, Fairfax and the ‘war’ politics of the Australian right

What a dream come true for Australia’s right-wingers. First of all they can point to Gina Rinehart’s wealth (“the richest woman in the world”) as a sign of Australia’s arrival as a capitalist power and…
The Menzies government was voted in with the help of the John Henry Austral ads. The Menzies government was voted in with the help of the John Henry Austral ads. National Library of Australia

Liberal Party ads from the 1940s speak today’s political language

After languishing in an archive box at Melbourne University for more than 20 years, an astonishing piece of Australian political history has recently been dusted off and digitised. The university has unearthed…
Old foes Gough Whitlam (left) and Malcolm Fraser (right) unite over modern issues. Old foes Gough Whitlam (left) and Malcolm Fraser (right) unite over modern issues. AAP/Bruce Postle

Malcolm Fraser: 2012 Gough Whitlam Oration

Politics, Independence and the National Interest: the legacy of power and how to achieve a peaceful Western Pacific I am honoured to be asked to make this speech. During the turbulent years of the 1970s…
Peter Slipper paid homage to tradition, but did not fulfil his moral responsibility to his electorate. Peter Slipper paid homage to tradition, but did not fulfil his moral responsibility to his electorate.

Modern politics is too clever by half … and we’re worse off for it

In 19th century Australia, democrats such as Henry Parkes could not emphasise too much how important it was to elect a Parliamentary representative who was honourable, decent and able to work on behalf…
We’ve had a glimpse into the world of Craig Thomson, but he’s trying to justify a view that no one outside the political game can understand. We’ve had a glimpse into the world of Craig Thomson, but he’s trying to justify a view that no one outside the political game can understand. AAP Image/Lukas Coch

All in the game: shining a light into the weird world of Craig Thomson

The ALP and the union movement have never liked scabs. But yesterday we witnessed a labour scab of a different sort as The Wound Formally Known As Craig Thomson continued to be bleed rather than heal…
Penny Wong’s rare moment of sincerity on Q&A betrayed the paucity of Australia’s political commentary. Penny Wong’s rare moment of sincerity on Q&A betrayed the paucity of Australia’s political commentary. ABC

Penny Wong, Joe Hockey and the dire state of political punditry

If there is a turning point in the Australian debate on same-sex marriage it may well be Penny Wong’s remarkable grace and honesty when answering Joe Hockey on last night’s Q&A. Wong was asked by host…
Labor is out of touch with the attitudes of 21st century Australians. Labor is out of touch with the attitudes of 21st century Australians. AAP/Dan Peled

‘Class warfare’ or not, Australia has moved on from Labor’s old-fashioned rhetoric

“Class warfare” is an emotive term that would seem to belong to a bygone age when there also existed, as in the minds of many people, something called the “class struggle”. It would seem strange that in…
Swan may be appealing to a voting bloc that doesn’t exist. Swan may be appealing to a voting bloc that doesn’t exist. AAP/Alan Porritt

Labor’s populist turn unlikely to succeed

The 2012 budget came at a particularly challenging time for Labor. The government has sought to achieve two distinct (if related) political goals: bolster Labor’s “economic management” credentials and…
Wayne Swan’s responsibility to the citizens of Lilley may conflict with his role of treasurer. So why don’t we separate them? Wayne Swan’s responsibility to the citizens of Lilley may conflict with his role of treasurer. So why don’t we separate them? AAP/Alan Porritt

Treasurer or Member for Lilley? Perhaps Wayne Swan doesn’t have to be both

Australia is on the eve of receiving one of its most anticipated budget announcements. Wayne Swan and the team within the Treasury have put together a pillar from which the Labor Party will draw strength…
Another free and fair Australian election - this time the recent Queensland state election - gets underway. Another free and fair Australian election - this time the recent Queensland state election - gets underway. AAP/Dan Peled

The benefits of deliberation in the political process

Is there a role for deliberation about electoral rules? For many, the answer would be “no”. For them, the notion of principled discussion informed by careful reflection is deeply incongruous with the grubby…
The line between traditional and new media has now blurred into indistinguishability. The line between traditional and new media has now blurred into indistinguishability. flickr/francescominciotti

Convergence Review: tame cat Press Council gets playmate

It should be easy for the Gillard Government to accept the recommendations of the Convergence Review. On the surface it seems all very sensible: a converged Press Council and Australian Communications…
Clive Palmer should probably stick to what he’s good at. Clive Palmer should probably stick to what he’s good at. AAP Image/Dan Peled

Forget contesting Lilley, Clive Palmer should stick to his day job

Mining magnate Clive Palmer has put his name forward to run for the Liberal National Party (LNP) against Treasurer Wayne Swan in the Queensland seat of Lilley at the next election. Palmer has been a vocal…
Australian Labor needs to refocus not on the “working class”, but on its core beliefs. Australian Labor needs to refocus not on the “working class”, but on its core beliefs. Dean Lewins

Labor’s future isn’t with the workers … but it might be with the Greens

Like Geoff Gallop I would like to believe the woes of the Gillard government are not also the death throes of the Labor Party, even after the debacle this weekend that saw Craig Thomson and Peter Slipper…
Julia Gillard faces the media after Craig Thomson’s suspension from the government benches. Julia Gillard faces the media after Craig Thomson’s suspension from the government benches. AAP/Lukas Coch

Going, going … have Peter Slipper and Craig Thomson finished the Gillard government?

Since forming government in 2010, the Gillard government has faced an uphill battle to assert its authority on the policy agenda. Initially, this was partly due to the fact that it relied on the Greens…
Rudd’s commitment to Australia’s bid for a UN security council seat must continue under Bob Carr. Rudd’s commitment to Australia’s bid for a UN security council seat must continue under Bob Carr. EPA/Jason Szenes

Australia shouldn’t give up on a UN security council seat

Now we have a new foreign minister, some have suggested it’s time for Australia to give up its bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. During his time as prime minister and foreign minister…
Accusations against Peter Slipper have prompted him to step aside as speaker. Accusations against Peter Slipper have prompted him to step aside as speaker. AAP Image/Penny Bradfield

Slipper saga begs the question – do we need a speaker at all?

Speaker of the House of Representatives Peter Slipper has stepped aside following allegations of sexual harassment and the misuse of cab-charge vouchers. Slipper’s former adviser James Ashby accused the…
Australian troops work with Afghan National Army forces in Uruzgan province in August 2011. Australian troops work with Afghan National Army forces in Uruzgan province in August 2011.

Mission accomplished? Australia withdraws from Afghanistan early

Prime minister Julia Gillard today announced the revised timetable for the withdrawal of Australian troops from Afghanistan. Within 12 to 18 months the majority of Australian military forces will leave…
Former prime ministers Gordon Brown and Kevin Rudd before the 2009 G20 summit. Former prime ministers Gordon Brown and Kevin Rudd before the 2009 G20 summit.

Kissing cousins: what the ALP can learn from UK Labour

What are political parties for? Do they exist only to win elections or are they for the benefit of members with process as important as outcome? These are the fundamental questions that former British…
All eyes are now on Christine Milne to see if she is up to filling the void left by former leader Bob Brown. All eyes are now on Christine Milne to see if she is up to filling the void left by former leader Bob Brown. AAP Image/Lukas Coch

Greens' future is bright under Christine Milne

Bob Brown’s decision to resign as leader of the Greens last Friday marks a new and interesting phase in the evolution and development of the Australian Greens. Brown’s exit from the Senate in June inevitably…
New Greens leader Christine Milne should learn from Bob Brown’s charismatic leadership. New Greens leader Christine Milne should learn from Bob Brown’s charismatic leadership. AAP/Alan Porritt

Portrait of a charismatic leader: putting Bob Brown in context

Australia has a long record of charismatic political leaders and Bob Brown is perhaps the most notable recent example, but unlike other leaders of this style he has demonstrated remarkable political skill…
Bob Brown says The Greens could form a future government, but they may have peaked already. Bob Brown says The Greens could form a future government, but they may have peaked already.

‘Outsiders and ratbags’: the Greens will struggle without Bob Brown

The exit of Bob Brown raises an interesting issue for the Australian Greens. Now the party’s charismatic founder has gone, what will happen to the party? Does it have a long-term future, and if so, what…
Bob Brown’s resignation seemed to even surprise members of his own party. Bob Brown’s resignation seemed to even surprise members of his own party. ABC News24

Bob Brown resigns: what next for the Greens?

In a surprise move, Senator Bob Brown has resigned as leader of the Australian Greens and has been replaced by his former deputy Christine Milne. Brown will step down from his Senate seat in June. He has…
Gillard may encounter some tough talk from Coalition MPs at today’s COAG meeting. Gillard may encounter some tough talk from Coalition MPs at today’s COAG meeting. AAP Image/Lukas Coch

COAG could hurt the Gillard Government

The Coalition state premiers going to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting today smell blood. The Gillard government is in a weak position with constant leadership speculation, the Craig…
The union scandal surrounding Labor MP Craig Thompson shows just why the Labor party should re-consider its relationship with the unions. The union scandal surrounding Labor MP Craig Thompson shows just why the Labor party should re-consider its relationship with the unions. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

The Health Services Union scandal and Labor’s unhappy political marriage

The Health Services Union’s scandal continues with calls for its national president to resign and moves to remove Kathy Jackson, the whistleblower who first revealed claims of credit card misuse, from…
Former Health Services Union head Craig Thomson represents a vital vote for the Gillard government. Former Health Services Union head Craig Thomson represents a vital vote for the Gillard government. AAP Image/Penny Bradfield

Health Services Union: why union members deserve better

The ACTU yesterday voted to suspend the Health Servives Union from affiliation until they can prove that issues of governance have been dealt with appropriately. Although it does seem to have been a slow…
Gillard shines when she is closer to voters, such as at this week’s community cabinet in Paramatta. Gillard shines when she is closer to voters, such as at this week’s community cabinet in Paramatta. AAP/Tracey Nearmy

Community cabinets could be the cure for Gillard’s communication conundrum

By all accounts, in person Prime Minister Julia Gillard is relaxed, funny, engaging and a good listener. Her ministers say she is tough, masters briefs well, leads, and takes decisions. On top of that…
Scientists and politicians rely on each other – so how best to develop that relationship? Scientists and politicians rely on each other – so how best to develop that relationship? mayhem

Scientists and policy-makers: it’s time to bridge the gap

“Our lack of ability to position our argument in the public means science has not influenced public debate as it should.” So said Australian National University’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Young at…
Perhaps finance minister Bill Shorten and the Labor party should shout a bit louder about superannuation. Perhaps finance minister Bill Shorten and the Labor party should shout a bit louder about superannuation. AAP Image/Lukas Coch

Compulsory super: it’s good, it works and we want more of it

Labor’s devastating Queensland election result has prompted much soul searching within the party and questions about its fundamental approach. Do voters even know what the Labor party stands for? Or is…
The Bligh led Labor party’s devastating defeat in Queensland could present difficulties for federal labor seats. The Bligh led Labor party’s devastating defeat in Queensland could present difficulties for federal labor seats. AAP/ Dan Peled

The lie of the land for Labor after the Queensland poll

The Queensland election can tell us a lot about Labor’s electoral future. There is no doubt that if the Queensland state election landslide against Labor were extrapolated to federal boundaries, the federal…
Former ALP Minister Barry Jones says the party needs significant reform. Former ALP Minister Barry Jones says the party needs significant reform. AAP

The decay of the political process

Queensland has developed a tradition of political swings that are far greater than the national average. Labor held only one Queensland House of Representatives seat in 1975 and in 1996 only two. The major…
Campbell Newman and close confidants Jeff Seeney (right) and Tim Nicholls at the first meeting on the LNP government. Campbell Newman and close confidants Jeff Seeney (right) and Tim Nicholls at the first meeting on the LNP government. AAP/Dan Peled

Queensland election: Labor on the wrong side of the boom

A lot of the coverage of the Queensland election has so far focused on the headline numbers. Admittedly, these are startling. The LNP will control 78 of 89 seats in the unicameral Parliament. Labor’s primary…
The LNP will win power, but Campbell Newman may not win his seat. The LNP will win power, but Campbell Newman may not win his seat.

Bligh will lose in Queensland, but it won’t be a wipeout

It’s long been said that Queensland is beautiful one day and perfect the next. But it has been a long time since Queensland politics reached these superlative heights. The state has been mired in controversies…
The Australian Sex Party was launched at Sexpo in 2008 by leader Fiona Patten. The Australian Sex Party was launched at Sexpo in 2008 by leader Fiona Patten. AAP/Julian Smith

Going native at Sexpo with the Australian Sex Party

“Where’s the party?" “Can I join?” “Is this legitimate?” These were just a few of the questions I was asked during my eight-hour shift as a volunteer for The Australian Sex Party (ASP) at their booth in…
Campbell Newman addresses workers during a campaign stop. Campbell Newman addresses workers during a campaign stop. AAP/Dan Peled

Is Campbell Newman’s Queensland election strategy in trouble?

The Liberal National Party chose an unconventional strategy when it decided make former Lord Mayor of Brisbane Campbell Newman its leader. Newman needs to win a seat in the Queensland parliament if he…
Chief of the Defence Force General David Hurley and Minister for Defence Stephen Smith respond to reviews into Defence’s culture and the Skype scandal. Chief of the Defence Force General David Hurley and Minister for Defence Stephen Smith respond to reviews into Defence’s culture and the Skype scandal. Defence media

ADFA Skype scandal: Smith’s reviews could help defence to change its culture

Defence minister Stephen Smith has released the findings of a series of reviews into last year’s ADFA sex scandal and the culture of the defence force. The scandal revolved around an incident in March…
Swan’s “fair go” message isn’t original, but it is clever. Swan’s “fair go” message isn’t original, but it is clever. AAP/Alan Porritt

What’s behind Wayne Swan’s ‘fair go’ message?

When they each ran significant chunks of the Australian mining industry in the 1970s, the late titans Sir George Fisher and Sir Maurice Mawby were often dismayed at the attacks politicians, and others…
Wayne Swan outlined his economic vision for Australia at the National Press Club today. Wayne Swan outlined his economic vision for Australia at the National Press Club today. AAP/Alan Porritt

Sorry Clive Palmer, Wayne Swan’s vision is better for Australia

Australians are in a unique place today – we are witnessing our democracy being called to account. The nature of Australian democracy is being debated by on the one hand, its Treasurer and on the other…
Bob Carr is Australia’s new foreign minister after a cabinet reshuffle by Julia Gillard. Bob Carr is Australia’s new foreign minister after a cabinet reshuffle by Julia Gillard. ABC News24

Cabinet reshuffle: Gareth Evans on Bob Carr

Prime Minister Julia Gillard today delivered a political surprise by announcing former NSW premier Bob Carr as Foreign Minister in her reshuffled cabinet. Carr takes over from Kevin Rudd, who returns to…
The level of political discourse is descending to new lows … but why? The level of political discourse is descending to new lows … but why? Garrettc

Doctor, doctor: why so few scientists in top government jobs?

Given the importance of science and technology to modern life, particularly in developed nations, why don’t we see more scientists in leading governmental positions? This dearth is particularly stark in…
Gillard had a strong performance after yesterday’s leadership ballot, but there’s still a long way to go. Gillard had a strong performance after yesterday’s leadership ballot, but there’s still a long way to go. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Cautious optimism for Gillard on one of Canberra’s strangest days

One of Julia Gillard’s better days in Australian politics was nonetheless brought to an unusual end yesterday with the resignation of Mark Arbib. The former right faction leader, who most recently served…
The process Labor uses to remove and replace parliamentary leaders contains some surprises. The process Labor uses to remove and replace parliamentary leaders contains some surprises. AAP/John Pryke

Labor leadership spill: the rules of the game

At 10am today, the Labor caucus will meet to settle the leadership battle between Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd. But how does the leadership selection process actually work? While the contest between Gillard…
Kevin Rudd and Therese Rein spend their Sunday morning at church rather than in front of a TV. Kevin Rudd and Therese Rein spend their Sunday morning at church rather than in front of a TV. AAP/Dave Hunt

Easy like a Sunday morning political TV show: how Kevin and Julia fared

Sunday mornings are special. Sure, 99% of the non-political world is sound asleep (or still attempting to make their way home after a night on the town), but for many political enthusiasts Sunday mornings…
Kevin Rudd is widely known on the international stage from his time as prime minister then foreign minister. Kevin Rudd is widely known on the international stage from his time as prime minister then foreign minister. AAP/David Foote

A foreign affair: where does Kevin Rudd’s resignation leave Australia on the world stage?

Kevin Rudd’s dramatic resignation as Foreign Minister yesterday has left Australia without a permanent cabinet level representative on the world stage. Trade Minister Craig Emerson will take over Rudd’s…
Kevin Rudd has announced he will stand down as Foreign Minister. Kevin Rudd has announced he will stand down as Foreign Minister. AAP

‘Ambitions to lead Labor’ as Kevin Rudd quits as Foreign Minister

Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has announced he will step down from his post, sparking immediate speculation about his next move and whether he will challenge Julia Gillard as Prime Minister. In a press conference…
Founder of Storm Financial, Emmanuel Cassimatis, speaks before a parliamentary inquiry. Founder of Storm Financial, Emmanuel Cassimatis, speaks before a parliamentary inquiry. AAP

Financial advice reform: have we learned enough from Storm?

When financial planning firm Storm Financial collapsed with $3 billion in investment losses, many of its investors were left destitute. A parliamentary joint committee inquiry into the company’s demise…
Kevin Rudd will only give a smug smile when asked about his designs on Julia Gillard’s job. Kevin Rudd will only give a smug smile when asked about his designs on Julia Gillard’s job. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Will he or won’t he? Why Kevin Rudd won’t give a straight answer on his leadership aspirations

Watching Kevin Rudd in his almost daily struggle to avoid giving a straight answer to questions about whether he’ll challenge Julia Gillard is as painful as listening to a smoker justify why they won’t…
Unimpressive: should our polticians be educated before they represent us? Unimpressive: should our polticians be educated before they represent us? AAP

If our underwhelming politicians don’t pass the test, perhaps its time to make them sit one

If the current leadership tussle in the labor party has demonstrated anything, it’s that politics in Australia is not the most impressive affair. And if we needed any further confirmation, we need only…
What’s gender got to do with it? We asked Cheryl Kernot. What’s gender got to do with it? We asked Cheryl Kernot. AAP/Julian Smith/Lukas Coch

Cheryl Kernot on politics, the media and female leadership

As one of the few women to have run a political party in this country Cheryl Kernot is well aware of the role gender plays in the Australian political landscape. In the wake of Bob Brown’s claim this week…
Tony Abbott says the end is near for the government, but can he bring it down? Tony Abbott says the end is near for the government, but can he bring it down? AAP/Alan Porritt

Explainer: motions of no confidence and the constitution

After declaring the Gillard government was entering its “endgame”, opposition leader Tony Abbott is believed to be preparing to table a motion of no confidence. Since Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie…
Mining magnate, Gina Rinehart is trying to buy more influence by becoming Fairfax media group’s largest shareholder. Mining magnate, Gina Rinehart is trying to buy more influence by becoming Fairfax media group’s largest shareholder. AAP Image/Tony McDonough

Does Gina Rinehart’s move on Fairfax make her an oligarch? Not yet …

Australia’s richest person Gina Rinehart has moved to increase her stake in Fairfax Media, owner of The Age, Sydney Morning Herald and a number of radio stations. Rinehart has already shown her desire…
The ugly side of Australia Day was starkly revealed yesterday. The ugly side of Australia Day was starkly revealed yesterday. AAP/Lukas Coch

It’s time to reassess Australia Day … and the Aboriginal Tent Embassy

Australia Day: cricket, beaches, prawns on the barbie, beer and a good dose of sunburn; a bit of jingoistic flag-waving, citizenship ceremonies and the conferring of awards to our most outstanding citizens…
Small business owners: a forgotten constituency for the Coalition and the ALP. Small business owners: a forgotten constituency for the Coalition and the ALP. oknovokght

Minister for Small Business? More like the Minister for Nothing

In December 2011, Prime Minister Julia Gillard reshuffled her ministry. Naturally, senior Cabinet posts and significant demotions attracted attention. Unnoticed was that small business received a new minister…
Queenslanders will get a chance to vote for either Premier Anna Bligh or leader of the LNP, Campbell Newman on March 24. Queenslanders will get a chance to vote for either Premier Anna Bligh or leader of the LNP, Campbell Newman on March 24. AAP image/John Pryke

Queensland election 2012: a likely win for Newman and the LNP

After much speculation, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has today announced the date of the up-coming state elections. The poll, now to be held on March 24, comes after a difficult year for the Bligh government…
The resources boom is political gold for Liberal premier Colin Barnett (second from left). The resources boom is political gold for Liberal premier Colin Barnett (second from left). AAP/Rebecca Le May

From boom to bust: why Labor can no longer win in the West

Last week’s change in the Western Australian ALP leadership ended the three-year tenure of the ousted Eric Ripper – quite a good innings for a modern opposition leader, even if he wasn’t granted the opportunity…
Andrew Wilkie has withdrawn his support for the Gillard government. Andrew Wilkie has withdrawn his support for the Gillard government. AAP/David Beniuk

Gillard bets the house while Wilkie walks over pokie reform

The Gillard government finds itself in the same position it held at the start of 2011. The withdrawal of support from independent Andrew Wilkie means that, like this time last year, the government holds…
Andrew Wilkie must decide whether to walk away from the Gillard government. Andrew Wilkie must decide whether to walk away from the Gillard government. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Gillard’s pokie rethink shows weakness while Wilkie wavers

As speculation about Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s commitment to gambling reform grows, Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie is weighing up the pros and cons of a compromise deal with the government. Wilkie…
Most Australians want to see a transparent, fair political system, but they’re not getting one. Most Australians want to see a transparent, fair political system, but they’re not getting one. Flickr/Michael Dawes

Follow the money: better rules on political funding needed

Whether you’re a cynic or an idealist, most of us believe there should be rules restraining big money in politics. But after a decade of stop-start debate on the issue, a Commonwealth parliamentary report…
The popularity of the Queen and the Royal Family mean the republic movement is going nowhere fast. The popularity of the Queen and the Royal Family mean the republic movement is going nowhere fast. AAP Image/Colin Murty

Time to move on: Roxon’s republic moment has already passed

Nicola Roxon, sworn in last week as the first law officer of the Australian Crown, reportedly plans to reignite the debate on Australia becoming a republic. Former prime minister, Paul Keating has also…
Senator Arthur Sinodinos makes his maiden speech earlier this year. Senator Arthur Sinodinos makes his maiden speech earlier this year. AAP/Alan Porritt

In Conversation: Senator Arthur Sinodinos

Welcome to this In Conversation between Liberal Senator Arthur Sinodinos and Macquarie University politics expert Craig Mark. Sinodinos is a political paradox: he’s the newest member of the Australian…
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has reshuffled her cabinet to try and refresh her image, but it won’t work. Prime Minister Julia Gillard has reshuffled her cabinet to try and refresh her image, but it won’t work. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Gillard’s reshuffle will not fool the voters

It might seem that the days before Christmas would be an odd time to announce a cabinet reshuffle, but for the Prime Minister it was the latest in a series of manoeuvres designed to help the government…
It’s time to recognise the first Australians in our constitution. It’s time to recognise the first Australians in our constitution. Flickr/Rusty Stewart

It’s time to recognise Indigenous Australia in our constitution

Last week, the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples concluded its deliberations on reform proposals. While we wait on the release of their final report…
Senator for South Australia Cory Bernardi has attracted controversy with some of his right wing views. Senator for South Australia Cory Bernardi has attracted controversy with some of his right wing views. www.corybernardi.com

In Conversation: Senator Cory Bernardi

Welcome to our In Conversation between Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi and Dr Timothy Lynch, lecturer in American politics at Melbourne University. Since being appointed to the Senate in 2006, the Senator…
Despite President Barack Obama’s charms, Australia must focus on China. Despite President Barack Obama’s charms, Australia must focus on China. AAP Image/ Scott Barbour

The US or China? Australia can’t afford to make mistakes

Australia’s recent fleeting love affair with President Barack Obama notwithstanding, Australia’s future lies with China and the North, not the Pacific and the East. This is not simply a matter of economics…
Italian-Australians deserve an apology for their mistreatment in internment camps in World War II. Italian-Australians deserve an apology for their mistreatment in internment camps in World War II. Australian War Memorial Collection

Why Australia must apologise to Italians interned during World War II

Last month, the South Australian parliament unanimously accepted a bi-partisan motion moved by Labor member, Tony Piccolo, to acknowledge the wrongful internment of Italian civilians living in Australia…
Foreign Minister Stephen Smith congratulates Julia Gillard after the vote changing ALP policy on the export of uranium to China was won. Foreign Minister Stephen Smith congratulates Julia Gillard after the vote changing ALP policy on the export of uranium to China was won. AAP/Dean Lewins

ALP National Conference: Where was the arms control debate over uranium exports to India?

On Sunday, the Australian Labor Party voted 206 to 185 in favour of changing one part of the party’s longstanding and non-negotiable platform on uranium exports: that recipient states must be members of…
First among equals - Julia Gillard votes on a policy issue at the ALP national conference this weekend. First among equals - Julia Gillard votes on a policy issue at the ALP national conference this weekend. AAP/Dean Lewins

ALP National Conference: Party reform the empty seat at the table

Potential reform of the Labor Party’s internal structure has been substantially limited, as the Right faction asserted its overall dominance of the weekend’s national conference. Prime Minister Julia Gillard…
Prime minister Julia Gillard faces challenges from all sides at this weekend’s ALP conference. Prime minister Julia Gillard faces challenges from all sides at this weekend’s ALP conference. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

ALP National Conference: Talking about the issues that really matter

After surviving a brutal political winter that many thought would be her last, Prime Minister Julia Gillard can be forgiven to looking forward to the summer holidays. But she shouldn’t let her guard down…
2500 US Marines will be deployed near Darwin in coming years, but we could also see an expanded American military presence elsewhere in northern Australia. 2500 US Marines will be deployed near Darwin in coming years, but we could also see an expanded American military presence elsewhere in northern Australia. AAP/Malone

History repeating: Australian military power in the Cocos Islands

Negotiations are underway that could see some the US military’s most advanced drone aircraft based on the Australian Indian Ocean territory of the Cocos Islands. Combined with discussions around having…
The Tsar Bomba nuclear test is the largest ever nuclear explosion recorded, measuring 50 megatons and generating a 64km high mushroom cloud. The Tsar Bomba nuclear test is the largest ever nuclear explosion recorded, measuring 50 megatons and generating a 64km high mushroom cloud. flickr/andy_z

Australia’s opportunity to develop an ethical uranium trade

As the Australian Labor Party contemplates opening sales of uranium to India, it would be wise for our policy-makers to think more broadly about the long-term possibilities for Australia as a provider…
Opposition leader Tony Abbott has had a good political year but is the political wind shifting against him? Opposition leader Tony Abbott has had a good political year but is the political wind shifting against him? AAP/Lukas Koch

Blue skies ahead? How Julia Gillard has enjoyed the change of political seasons

At the start of the year Prime Minister Julia Gillard promised that 2011 would be a year of “decision and delivery”. Despite such a grand vision, the majority of the year was a shocker for the government…
Spy agencies in Australia have a big job, but does the job match the budget? Spy agencies in Australia have a big job, but does the job match the budget? Flickr/ocularinvasion

Cloak and dollar: how much do security agencies in Australia really need?

In an era of evolving threats, judgment calls will continue to rely on the provision of accurate, timely intelligence. But this intelligence does not come cheap. In order to be well-prepared and well-organised…
Peter Slipper made an impact in his first day as Speaker. Peter Slipper made an impact in his first day as Speaker.

Speaker Slipper slips in as Gillard claims a tactical victory

The dramatic surprise resignation of Harry Jenkins as Speaker, on what was meant to be the final sitting day of the year for the House of Representatives (coincidentally also the fourth anniversary of…
Mussolini made the trains run on time. But having a strong leader is risky. Mussolini made the trains run on time. But having a strong leader is risky. Flickr/Galaxy FM

Forget politicians - be a dictator for a day and get the job done

“If I Ruled The World” was a tune made famous decades ago by English comedian and singer Harry Secombe who sang of making every day the first day of spring as well as other miraculous improvements. It…
Asylum seekers held in detention centres like Villawood have been protesting that the current system doesn’t work. Asylum seekers held in detention centres like Villawood have been protesting that the current system doesn’t work. AAP/Dean Lewins

Why Australia should abandon the Refugee Convention

With the collapse of offshore processing, and the likely increase in boat arrivals into a politically charged environment, a cross-road may have been reached regarding asylum policy in Australia. Now would…
Julia Gillard made a “special case” for exporting uranium to India. Julia Gillard made a “special case” for exporting uranium to India. EPA/Guillaume Horcajuelo

Uranium exports: The Indian view

Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s decision to overturn the Australian ban on exporting uranium is aimed at re-balancing our relationship with the world’s largest democracy and a rising economic power in the…
A warm welcome for the President from Julia Gillard and the Governor General, but Australia should take care not to give too much away to the Americans. AAP/Stuart McEvoy. A warm welcome for the President from Julia Gillard and the Governor General, but Australia should take care not to give too much away to the Americans. AAP/Stuart McEvoy.

Special relationship? Why Gillard needs to talk tough with Obama about US military base

It’s third time lucky for President Obama. He’s cancelled his trip to Australia twice before, but now he has finally made it to Canberra. Julia Gillard has struck up a friendship with the US President…
Julia Gillard has enjoyed mixing with Barack Obama on the foreign policy stage. Julia Gillard has enjoyed mixing with Barack Obama on the foreign policy stage. AAP/AusPic Howard Moffat

Should the Prime Minister and foreign policy mix?

When President Obama begins his long-awaited visit to Australia today, he’ll have a keen tour guide in Julia Gillard. They’ve developed an apparently firm friendship in recent months. But should the Prime…
There are fears that Australian uranium could be put to military uses by India. There are fears that Australian uranium could be put to military uses by India. AAP

Can the decision to export uranium to India heal a fractured relationship?

Prime Minister Julia Gillard today announced that the Australian Labor Party will debate its opposition to exporting uranium to India. India, which is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty…
Would you be out for a duck in the citizenship test? Would you be out for a duck in the citizenship test? Flickr/R@VITH

Aussie Aussie Aussie: Is the Australian citizenship test fair?

The Australian citizenship test has just turned four. Its birthday passed without fanfare but this is not surprising. Soon after its introduction, a Labor government review addressed early concerns that…
Don’t dismiss Bob Katter’s Australia Party. It’s going places. Don’t dismiss Bob Katter’s Australia Party. It’s going places. AAP/Tracy Nearmy

Don’t write off the Mad Katter’s Tea Party

It would be foolish for anyone to underestimate Bob Katter’s Australia Party. Its brand of socially conservative views blended with economic and trade protectionism are not “far right” but rather proven…
Australia would do better to shed light on Indian affairs. Media coverage of the country is dominated by corruption scandals, terrorism or cultural festivals like Diwali. Australia would do better to shed light on Indian affairs. Media coverage of the country is dominated by corruption scandals, terrorism or cultural festivals like Diwali. EPA/Sanjeev Gupta

Connection with India vital to Australia’s future

CHOGM As Julia Gillard chairs the Commonwealth Heads of Government in Perth, she would do well to pay special attention to her Indian colleague at the table, Vice-President Hamid Ansari. Brian Stoddart…
Shooty Vikadan died in Villawood Detention Centre before the Commonwealth Ombudsman could review his case. Shooty Vikadan died in Villawood Detention Centre before the Commonwealth Ombudsman could review his case. AAP/Torsten Blackwood

Dead refugee caught in ‘legal limbo’ between government agencies

The asylum seeker who committed suicide in Villawood detention centre this week should have been interviewed by the Commonwealth Ombudsman to establish whether he should have been released into the community…
Unhappy with politics in this country? You’re not the only one. Unhappy with politics in this country? You’re not the only one. AAP/Alan Porritt

Gilliard Government marked down in ‘could do better’ democracy report

Australians are more dissatisfied with the way democracy works now than they were after the Rudd government was elected, a poll has found. According to the ANU poll of 2001 people, there has been a 13…
Opposition leader Tony Abbott has signalled a shift towards Japan in our foreign and trade policy - but is this the right direction?. Opposition leader Tony Abbott has signalled a shift towards Japan in our foreign and trade policy - but is this the right direction?. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Politics, not economics may be at the heart of Abbott’s Japan focus

Opposition leader Tony Abbott’s comments in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian newspapers point to a shift in Coalition trade policy that would give Japan higher priority over China. So why would…
Mike Rann waves goodbye on his last day in office at Parliament House in Adelaide. Mike Rann waves goodbye on his last day in office at Parliament House in Adelaide. AAP/James Baker

Mike Rann’s legacy in South Australia

Mike Rann has handed the South Australian Premiership to Jay Weatherill, after nine years in the State’s top job. Labor Party power brokers tapped the man who had led their party for 17 years on the shoulder…
Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd celebrated the government’s carbon tax success, but she doesn’t have much reason to celebrate. Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd celebrated the government’s carbon tax success, but she doesn’t have much reason to celebrate. AAP/Alan Porritt

Gillard’s political migration: one step forward, two steps back

Last week demonstrated how fast fortunes may change in politics. Just as the government thought it could get onto the front foot, it experienced a significant setback by not being able to make changes…
Julia Gillard and her Immigration Minister Chris Bowen haven’t had the best of weeks. Julia Gillard and her Immigration Minister Chris Bowen haven’t had the best of weeks. AAP/Alan Porritt

Asylum seekers to be processed onshore as PM weighs up a long week in politics

The Malaysia Solution isn’t quite dead, but its vital signs are certainly not good. With a steely look in her eye, and barely concealed anger, Julia Gillard blamed Opposition Leader Tony Abbott for “trashing…
Without reform of the Migration Act, the governments plan for processing refugees offshore would be in tatters. Without reform of the Migration Act, the governments plan for processing refugees offshore would be in tatters. AFP/Saeed Khan

A cynical Migration Bill ignores Australia’s international obligations

Later today the Australian Government plans to put the Migration Legislation Amendment (Offshore Processing and Other Measures) Bill 2011 to a vote in the House of Representatives. Without it, the government’s…
Julia Gillard has to strike a balance between forging meaningful links with Asian countries, and managing relationships with older allies. Julia Gillard has to strike a balance between forging meaningful links with Asian countries, and managing relationships with older allies. EPA/Rungroj Yongrit

The ‘lucky, lazy country’ shows how not to win friends in Asia

AUSTRALIA IN ASIA: In the third part of our series, former diplomat Alison Broinowski of the Australian National University examines our rocky relationship with our Asian neighbours. “Australia hasn’t…
Former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser is ‘uneasy’ about Liberal leader Tony Abbott because he is unpredictable. Former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser is ‘uneasy’ about Liberal leader Tony Abbott because he is unpredictable. AAP

Malcolm Fraser: ‘we have lost our way’

Welcome to our “In Conversation” between former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser and Melbourne University political scientist Professor Robyn Eckersley. First elected to Federal parliament in 1955, Fraser…
Prime Minister Julia Gillard and opposition leader Tony Abbott are not doing Australian politics any favours. Prime Minister Julia Gillard and opposition leader Tony Abbott are not doing Australian politics any favours. AAP

How can Australia’s politics be improved?

Imagine a country in which politics is not a struggle among ambitious individuals for power, but the community’s way of resolving conflicts and advancing its common interests. Voters are well-educated…
Barack Obama’s web campaign helped him win the presidency. Parties should learn from it. Barack Obama’s web campaign helped him win the presidency. Parties should learn from it. Flickr/Scorpions and Centaurs

Democracy.net: How to create better political engagement

The increasing spread of information and communication technology has changed just about every aspect of Australian society – except democracy. The opportunities to engage citizens in the democratic process…
Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond made a roaring success of minority government. Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond made a roaring success of minority government. AAP

Scottish Enlightenment: How Julia Gillard could learn to make minority government work

In Anglo-American democracies at least, having a “minority government” is often regarded as an undesirable state of affairs. Canada may have had considerable experience of the phenomenon, New Zealand learnt…
Andrew Bolt has a presence across a variety of media platforms. Andrew Bolt has a presence across a variety of media platforms. AAP

Andrew Bolt, racism and the internet

Already the Libertarian Right have begun to marshal their traditional arguments to cover Andrew Bolt’s disgrace by the Federal Court. Bolt himself has screeched freedom of speech in the wake of his ascerbic…
Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard are not seeing eye to eye on pairing. Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard are not seeing eye to eye on pairing. AAP/Alan Porritt

Petty politics: The perils of parliamentary pairing

The decision last month by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott to severely restrict the practice of “pairing” votes in Parliament is another demonstration of the fractious and polarised state of federal politics…
Gillard is trying to re-cast her party building on the tradition of great ALP leaders John Curtin and Ben Chifley. Gillard is trying to re-cast her party building on the tradition of great ALP leaders John Curtin and Ben Chifley. AAP/Alan Porritt

The light on the hill has been extinguished: does Julia Gillard have the spark Labor needs?

Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s rally to the Labor faithful on Friday called for party reform. It’s become a familiar pattern of introspection within the ALP, starting with the Hawke Wran Review in 2002…
The Murdoch crisis in the UK raises many questions about media ownership in Australia. The Murdoch crisis in the UK raises many questions about media ownership in Australia. AAP/William West

Media ownership matters: why politicians need to take on proprietors

The Gillard Government’s media inquiry is to disregard the crucial issues of bias and concentration of media ownership, despite Bob Brown’s demands for wider terms of reference. This is, at best, misled…
At Home With Julia follows the tradition of poking fun at politicians' personal lives. At Home With Julia follows the tradition of poking fun at politicians' personal lives. ABC Television publicity

Getting personal in At Home With Julia: The tradition of satire

I was waiting for her to say “he touched me in nooks and in unexplored crannies I never knew I had” but it was not to be. For the rest of the episode, however, the lead in At Home With Julia sounded like…
Julia Gillard could face another awkward moment if Kevin Rudd moves against her next year. Julia Gillard could face another awkward moment if Kevin Rudd moves against her next year. AAP/Alan Porritt

Rudd leads Labor in 2012? Don’t rule it out

Kevin Rudd’s presence as Foreign Minister has been a constant reminder that Julia Gillard’s ascension to Prime Minister was never fully accepted in the electorate, a perception confirmed by the 2010 election…
Senator Nick Xenophon has used parliamentary privilege to name an alleged sex offender. Senator Nick Xenophon has used parliamentary privilege to name an alleged sex offender. AAP

Nick Xenophon and the shield of parliamentary privilege

Senator Nick Xenophon has caused controversy after claiming a South Australian priest is a sex offender. Speaking in the Senate - and thus under the legal shield of parliamentary privilege - Xenophon revealed…
Julia Gillard is portrayed sympathetically in the new ABC satire. Julia Gillard is portrayed sympathetically in the new ABC satire. ABC Television publicity

‘At Home With Julia’ exposes obsession with personality over policy

Does the ABC’s new hit series At Home With Julia demonstrate an unreconstructed sexism in Australian political satire? Should we be cringing at our cultural immaturity again? If the 2010 Election (or subsequent…
Former Prime Minister John Howard with his then chief of staff Arthur Sinodinos. Former Prime Minister John Howard with his then chief of staff Arthur Sinodinos. AAP

From chief of staff to Senator: the rise and rise of Arthur Sinodinos

Arthur Sinodinos has long been mooted as a potential successor to retiring former Howard minister, Senator Helen Coonan. Now that Sinodinos - long serving chief of staff to former Primer Minister John…
Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey wants the Opposition’s policies privately costed. Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey wants the Opposition’s policies privately costed. AAP

Costing the promises: what is a Parliamentary Budget Office?

Federal parliament has begun debating the merits of a new independent unit which would cost election promises and policies for all parliamentarians. But one of the more controversial aspects of the Gillard…
The State premiers and Prime Minister, Julia Gillard meet at the Council of Australian Governments (AAP/Alan Porritt) The State premiers and Prime Minister, Julia Gillard meet at the Council of Australian Governments (AAP/Alan Porritt)

Who is responsible for the elephant in the room? An argument for federalism

There is an old joke in Canada, one that every university student is told early in the Introduction to Politics class. It goes like this: three students - one British, one French, and a Canadian - are…
Prime Minister Julia Gillard wants Tony Abbott to put up or shut up on offshore processing. Prime Minister Julia Gillard wants Tony Abbott to put up or shut up on offshore processing. AAP

Malaysian Solution 2.0: Gillard turns heat on Abbott for offshore processing

Prime Minister Julia Gillard today announced the Government would seek to legislate in order to revive the “Malaysian Solution” ruled illegal by the High Court earlier this month. The plan would see Australia…
Party activists may be passionate, but they’re dwindling in number. Party activists may be passionate, but they’re dwindling in number. AAP/Dean Lewins

Losing the faith: Can political parties recapture the public imagination?

Around the western world, political parties have lost their appeal. Membership of major parties has declined dramatically, while our willingness to vote for one party throughout our adult lives has collapsed…
There needs to be reform of the Australian party system. There needs to be reform of the Australian party system. Flickr/David Drexler

The case for transparent funding and better regulation of political parties

Political parties dominate Australian politics. Their centrality is often accompanied by cynicism about their role and purposes. The perception often is that the principal role of political parties is…
US sailors load cluster bombs onto an aircraft before an attack on targets in Afghanistan. US sailors load cluster bombs onto an aircraft before an attack on targets in Afghanistan. AAP

Australia’s cluster bomb conundrum

Cluster bombs are currently the subject of considerable humanitarian concern internationally because of their indiscriminate effect. Every year, thousands of civilians, many of them children, are killed…
The government is ignoring protests against income management, and evidence it doesn’t work. The government is ignoring protests against income management, and evidence it doesn’t work. AAP/Larine Statham

Government ignores evidence of policy failure on Aboriginal issues

The government is ignoring evidence that income management in Aboriginal communities isn’t working. Despite a raft of studies showing it isn’t changing behaviour or significantly improving people’s life…
Tony Blair pulled back the curtain on the relationship between journalists and politicians.. Tony Blair pulled back the curtain on the relationship between journalists and politicians.. AAP/Julian Smith

The hidden media powers that undermine democracy

MEDIA & DEMOCRACY: On the final day of The Conversation’s series on how the media influences the way our representatives develop policy, John Keane examines how the relationships between politicians…
There should be more regulation of third parties to help preserve Australian democracy. AAP/Alan Porritt. There should be more regulation of third parties to help preserve Australian democracy. AAP/Alan Porritt.

Big money politics: why we need third party regulation

MEDIA & DEMOCRACY: In the latest instalment of The Conversation’s week-long series on how the media influences the way our representatives develop policy, Marian Sawer examines the need to regulate…
Too much regulation of third parties like GetUp! will hurt democracy. Too much regulation of third parties like GetUp! will hurt democracy. Paul Miller AAP

Power imbalance: why we don’t need more third party regulation

MEDIA & DEMOCRACY: In the latest instalment of The Conversation’s week-long series on how the media influences the way our representatives develop policy, Andrew Norton says there’s no need to regulate…
Julia Gillard inherited a failing government, and made it worse. Julia Gillard inherited a failing government, and made it worse. AAP/Lukas Coch

Luckless Labor’s Malaysia failure

The American comedian WC Fields once joked that the best advice in business was “never give a sucker an even break”. Now the High Court has rejected the government’s deal with Malaysia to swap asylum seekers…
Karl Rove was never far from President George W Bush’s side. Karl Rove was never far from President George W Bush’s side. AFP/Stephen Jaffe

Spinning it: the power and influence of the government advisor

MEDIA & DEMOCRACY: Today, Anne Tiernan looks at how voters have become consumers of political marketing, as part of The Conversation’s week-long series on how the media influences the way our representatives…
Cate Blanchett is among the celebrities pressed into service to persuade us on political issues. Cate Blanchett is among the celebrities pressed into service to persuade us on political issues. AAP/WWF

Selling the political message: What makes a good advert?

MEDIA & DEMOCRACY: This afternoon, Andrew Hughes examines which recent political adverts have been a success, as part of The Conversation’s week-long series on how the media influences the way our…
Kevin Rudd used to manage his brand well, but was toppled after an advertising campaign against him. Kevin Rudd used to manage his brand well, but was toppled after an advertising campaign against him. AAP/YouTube

Democracy is dead, long live political marketing

MEDIA & DEMOCRACY: Today, Andrew Hughes looks at how voters have become consumers of political marketing, as part of The Conversation’s week-long series on how the media influences the way our representatives…
Celebrities may inspire and help advertise products, but they have no place in politics. Celebrities may inspire and help advertise products, but they have no place in politics. AAP Image/Paul Miller

Forget the fantasy politics – advertising is no substitute for debate

MEDIA & DEMOCRACY: Today, The Conversation launches a week-long series, looking at how the media influences the way our representatives develop policy. Robin Canniford explains why advertising spin…
Australia dispersed refugees who were rescued by the Tampa, and its policies haven’t improved. Australia dispersed refugees who were rescued by the Tampa, and its policies haven’t improved. AAP/Wallenius Wilhelmsen

Australia’s human rights record has not improved since the Tampa

The dramatic rescue of more than 400 asylum seekers by the Norwegian vessel, the Tampa, ten years ago set in train a series of events that has since caused immense suffering to so many. It is surely now…
Defence policy in Australia will have undergone radical change by 2050. Defence policy in Australia will have undergone radical change by 2050. AAP

2050: Australian decision making

AUSTRALIA 2050 – So let’s imagine it’s the midpoint of the 21st century and Australia is enjoying its third decade as a recognised innovator in democracy. Australia routinely initiates global conversations…
Embattled Labor MP Craig Thomson may lose his seat, but this doesn’t necessarily mean Labor will lose government. Embattled Labor MP Craig Thomson may lose his seat, but this doesn’t necessarily mean Labor will lose government. AAP

Why Labor can’t afford to lose Craig Thomson … or any MP

The Gillard Government relies on a wafer thin majority in the House of Representatives in order to pass legislation. The Coalition opposition has already said it will not provide “pairs” for government…
Prime Minister GIllard launches the Australian Multicultural Council in Canberra. Prime Minister GIllard launches the Australian Multicultural Council in Canberra. AAP

The politics of the Australian Multicultural Council

Multiculturalism may not be flavour of the month, but the launch by Prime Minister Gillard on Monday of the Australian Multicultural Council (AMC) marks a step forward in a policy project restarted by…
Not a deterrent? This boat arrived on Christmas Island after the “Malaysia solution” deal was finalised. Not a deterrent? This boat arrived on Christmas Island after the “Malaysia solution” deal was finalised. AAP/Josh Jerga

There are better alternatives to the ‘Malaysia solution’

The government’s controversial “Malaysia solution”, in which Australia “swaps” refugees with Malaysia is being challenged in the High Court this week. Asylum seekers are being backed by the Australian…
Rob Oakeshott MP tells Professor John Warhurst why he decided to free himself from party constraints. Rob Oakeshott MP tells Professor John Warhurst why he decided to free himself from party constraints. AAP

Oakeshott on the treason of party discipline

For the latest in our In Conversation series, Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the Australian National University, John Warhurst spoke with the Independent member for the NSW seat of Lyne, Rob…
Spoilt for choice: neither Tony Abbott nor Julia Gillard are inspiring climate leaders. Spoilt for choice: neither Tony Abbott nor Julia Gillard are inspiring climate leaders. AAP

The courage to lead: Gillard, Abbott and the climate change conundrum

Both Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott have staked their political futures on their climate policies. So perhaps they should also be asking what the hallmarks are of a climate leader? The German political…
Can political debates be won with a chequebook instead of politicians' backing? Can political debates be won with a chequebook instead of politicians' backing? AAP

Hearts and minds: how industry ad campaigns work

The mining industry, led by the Minerals Council of Australia, has written to members asking for funds to under take a new advertising campaign to attack the carbon tax. In his letter to members, Minerals…
Are organisations like GetUp the future of Australian policy development? Are organisations like GetUp the future of Australian policy development? AAP

The rise of think tanks in Australian politics

Over the previous two decades, a plethora of advocacy organisations have emerged seeking to engage and inform the public on political issues. Some of these entities, such as Get-Up, are self-funded bodies…
Can social media temper growing public antipathy towards political parties? Can social media temper growing public antipathy towards political parties? Mandel Ngan/AFP

A new way to engage? Obama’s ‘Twitter townhall’ comes to Australia

On Tuesday, the ACT government held Australia’s first virtual community cabinet using Twitter. Four ministers faced a barrage of tweets in an hour long question and answer session held with the electorate…
Norwegian soldiers stand in front the government building bombed by Anders Breivik. Norwegian soldiers stand in front the government building bombed by Anders Breivik. AAP

Anders Breivik, Australian anti-multiculturalists and the threat to social cohesion

The discovery of an Australian link to the horrifying murders of dozens of people by Anders Breivik in Norway has demonstrated the reach of connection in today’s globalised world. As a result of the ability…
Malaysia’s history with human rights spells disaster for its refugee deal with Australia AAP Image/Karlis Salna. Malaysia’s history with human rights spells disaster for its refugee deal with Australia AAP Image/Karlis Salna.

Malaysian refugee swap spells human rights disaster

On Monday, Australia and Malaysia signed a deal that will mean 800 refugees that have arrived in Australia will be swapped with 4,000 verified refugees from Malaysia. This deal from both Australian and…
Academics should talk more openly about their research and help influence public policy AAP. Academics should talk more openly about their research and help influence public policy AAP.

Why academics should get involved in public debate

Raymond Da Silva Rosa’s article, also published on The Conversation, kindly refers to my recent piece in the Australian Literary Review, which examined why generally academics exert so little impact on…
Are these the sorts of speakers you go to a university to hear? AAP. Are these the sorts of speakers you go to a university to hear? AAP.

Why academics should steer clear of public debate

The most important issue raised by Lord Monckton’s controversial appearance on two Western Australian campuses is not the limit of free speech or Monckton’s scientific competence. Rather it is whether…
Julia Gillard was confronted by a shopper about the government’s carbon tax. Julia Gillard was confronted by a shopper about the government’s carbon tax. AAP/Patrick Hamilton

Gillard’s carbon tax fightback evens up the playing field

Before the details of the carbon tax were released this week, the government was fighting with one hand tied behind its back. Sometimes it looked like it had both hands and feet manacled as Prime Minister…
India will need to look after its own slum areas, now Australia is starting to withdraw aid. India will need to look after its own slum areas, now Australia is starting to withdraw aid. Flickr/lecercle

Putting money where it matters: why Australian aid needs to be in urban areas

The Australian aid program is a multi-million dollar enterprise. It has doubled in size over the past five years to $4,836 million in the current budget, and it’s still growing. A comprehensive look at…
Australians don’t know enough about Indonesia to judge its farming practices. Australians don’t know enough about Indonesia to judge its farming practices. AFP/Sonny Tumbelaka

Why being a better neighbour could ease our biggest political problems

We need to learn more about the countries we are exporting livestock to, or swapping refugees with. Two recent publicly-funded television documentaries have revealed just how little most Australians know…
Julia Gillard and Jenny Macklin announce the consultation paper, which is only in English. Julia Gillard and Jenny Macklin announce the consultation paper, which is only in English. AAP/Alan Porritt

The Intervention: Government’s refusal to consult damages community relations

The federal government’s consultation process on the next phase of the “Intervention” in the Northern Territory is excluding those to whom it matters most: Indigenous communities. The “Intervention” was…
No magic bullet for Defence’s procurement problem AFP/Paul Crock. No magic bullet for Defence’s procurement problem AFP/Paul Crock.

Why Australia’s defence procurement is lacking military precision

There is a certain security in the way Australia handles its national security – you can always expect future failures. It’s never too long before there’s a problem, drawing public attention and justifying…
Action-man Abbott bonding with the working man AAP. Action-man Abbott bonding with the working man AAP.

Reith’s wrong: exhuming WorkChoices would be a grave mistake

Peter Reith’s recent column in The Age arguing that the Liberals need to revisit and radically change their industrial relations policy explains precisely why Tony Abbott did not support him for Liberal…
Workers will see a percentage increase in their pay packet from today. Workers will see a percentage increase in their pay packet from today. AAP/Greg Wood

Explainer: What the new minimum wage really means for workers

Fair Work Australia’s annual wage determination takes effect today. Importantly, we’re set to see award wages rise not by a single dollar sum, as in the past, but by 3.4%. This goes someway to addressing…
Brown talking up the Green’s role in the new Senate AAP/Alan Porritt. Brown talking up the Green’s role in the new Senate AAP/Alan Porritt.

Face off: is the Senate the new governing house of our parliament?

One hundred and ten years after Federation, the Senate today helps to ensure that the Australian Parliament more closely reflects the will of the people. But despite assurances by Bob Brown in his speech…
Pupils at this charter school appreciate President Obama’s support, but it’s not the only option. Pupils at this charter school appreciate President Obama’s support, but it’s not the only option. Flickr/The White House

Don’t play the market when it comes to children’s education

Education policy in the United States is paved with some glaring failures. Despite this, many Australian reformers are looking west for inspiration, as the Gonski review of education funding is carried…
Tony Abbott changed allegiance to Alan Stockdale just before the vote. Tony Abbott changed allegiance to Alan Stockdale just before the vote. AAP/Alan Porritt

Don’t go changing: Stockdale still president as Liberals go for status quo

Former Howard Government minister Peter Reith took a gamble when running a reform agenda for the Liberal federal president not long from an election. He lost the punt but only just. The race raised larger…
Politicians would do well to ask the people for their views on climate change. Politicians would do well to ask the people for their views on climate change. AAP/Greg Wood

A novel idea on climate change: ask the people

The conduct of the Australian climate change debate was probably not what John Maynard Keynes had in mind when he proclaimed “words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assaults of thoughts on the…
Are talkback radio hosts or Julia Gillard leading debate in areas like immigration and the mining tax? Are talkback radio hosts or Julia Gillard leading debate in areas like immigration and the mining tax? AAP

Immigration: does government or the media decide Australia’s policy?

The release of figures today showing a dramatic fall in immigration numbers prompts the question of whether certain sections of the media are influencing government policy. Are Australian politicians allowing…
20% of people who saw the footage of animal abuse thought it was too graphic. 20% of people who saw the footage of animal abuse thought it was too graphic. AFP/Ho/ABC/Four Corners

Why we need an independent view of live animal exports

The decision by Animals Australia/RSPCA to allow their footage of slaughter of cattle and sheep overseas raises interesting questions about how animal welfare should be managed in this country. Was it…
Participants in “Go back to where you came from” had their attitudes towards refugees challenged. Participants in “Go back to where you came from” had their attitudes towards refugees challenged. SBS: Go back to where you came from

Go back to where you came from: Reality TV encounters the refugee crisis

Tonight, during World Refugee Week, SBS One premieres Go Back to Where You Came From. Over three nights the series plunges six Australian participants into the intense fear and desperation of the refugee/asylum…
The hospitality of the Pacific people is well-known, but they need help to lift themselves out of poverty. The hospitality of the Pacific people is well-known, but they need help to lift themselves out of poverty. AAP/Torsten Blackwood

Australian aid isn’t getting to where it needs to be

It’s easy for the tourists thrilled by the beauty of the Pacific Islands to miss the flourishing squatter settlements just away from their resorts and buzzing nightlife. Many of the friendly islanders…
ALP stalwart Senator John Faulkner’s recommendations do not go far enough. ALP stalwart Senator John Faulkner’s recommendations do not go far enough. AAP

Tear down that wall, Senator Faulkner

Let’s get serious, Senator Faulkner, the problem is the process of candidate selection. John Faulkner’s excellent speech last night describes a process of ALP decline that has been underway for most of…
The Gonski review presents the Government a once in a generation chance to review school funding. The Gonski review presents the Government a once in a generation chance to review school funding. AAP

Unfair funding is turning public schools into ‘sinks of disadvantage’

The current debate about government funding to private schools is misdirected. The issue is (or should be) not at what level should private schools be funded, but whether they are entitled to any funding…
It’s time to give people a hand up through welfare. It’s time to give people a hand up through welfare. Flickr/sidkid

How to get welfare to actually work

As a senior public servant I became increasingly frustrated that too many government initiatives, always well meant and often well implemented, simply ended up compounding the problem of passivity and…
During a leadership vacuum on environmental policy, Cate Blanchett was heavily criticised for supporting a carbon tax. During a leadership vacuum on environmental policy, Cate Blanchett was heavily criticised for supporting a carbon tax. AFP/Say Yes Australia

We shouldn’t blame Carbon Cate for politicians' failure to lead on the environment

As the International Energy Agency says the world faces a bleak future as emissions fail to fall at a fast enough rate to combat climate change, the challenge is on for governments to act globally, but…
It’s time to look seriously at changing our constitution. An apology is not enough. It’s time to look seriously at changing our constitution. An apology is not enough. AAP/Dave Hunt

Indigenous Australians the key to a strong Constitution

There is unfinished business in Australia, and it’s time to start a serious conversation about resolving it. We need to talk about the planned referendum on Indigenous recognition in the Australian Constitution…
Cate Blanchett lends her star power to the ‘Say Yes’ campaign: but is it a good fit? Cate Blanchett lends her star power to the ‘Say Yes’ campaign: but is it a good fit? AAP

‘Carbon Cate’ and the double-edged sword of celebrity endorsement

Cate Blanchett possibly got more than she bargained for this week when she was caught up in a backlash over her appearance in a campaign calling for Australians to support a carbon price. Blanchett, a…
The government says it’s on track to release all children asylum seekers in detention soon, but other policies need to be changed urgently. The government says it’s on track to release all children asylum seekers in detention soon, but other policies need to be changed urgently. Flickr/Takver

Australia’s wake up call from the UN: Yes, we’re a racist country

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights says Australia is racist. And she’s right. Racial discrimination in Australia is not idiosyncratic; it is enshrined in laws, policies and practices…
Australia has one of the lowest poverty rates for families in work in the OECD. Australia has one of the lowest poverty rates for families in work in the OECD. Flickr/adwriter

For richer or poorer: the delicate art of messing with middle class welfare

One of the most hotly debated features of Budget 2011 was the freezing of thresholds for some family payments. This has been described positively as a “war on middle class welfare” and negatively as punishing…
Some of what Lindsay Tanner decries as a “sideshow” is of genuine public interest. Some of what Lindsay Tanner decries as a “sideshow” is of genuine public interest. AAP

When the sideshow becomes the main game

Lindsay Tanner isn’t the first politician to attack the media after leaving office, and he won’t be the last. One might say it comes with the territory; the politician’s belief that if only the media had…
An Arakwal man performs the welcome to country ceremony in Byron Bay. It’s a sight which will be less common now in Victoria. An Arakwal man performs the welcome to country ceremony in Byron Bay. It’s a sight which will be less common now in Victoria. AAP/Torsten Blackwood

Welcome to country. Please show some respect

The recent decision by Victorian Premier, Ted Baillieu to drop the protocol for government ministers to “acknowledge country” and thereby recognise Indigenous Australian custodianship does not sit well…
Karl Bitar should be open about his contacts with government in his new role. Karl Bitar should be open about his contacts with government in his new role. AAP/Danny Rose

Fair game? Why Karl Bitar lobbying for Crown is undemocratic

The former National Secretary of the Australian Labor Party, Karl Bitar, has been appointed Head of Government Affairs for Crown Ltd, operators of Melbourne’s Crown Casino and Perth’s Burswood. It’s a…
The poorly paid aged care sector is a barometer of collective bargaining efforts. The poorly paid aged care sector is a barometer of collective bargaining efforts. Elliott Brown/Flickr

Can collective bargaining really lift workers out of low wages?

Labor’s post-WorkChoices industrial relations regime has come under renewed scrutiny in the past week, following Fair Work Australia’s recognition that community sector workers were being underpaid due…
Turnbull made his position clear on the ABC’s Lateline. Turnbull made his position clear on the ABC’s Lateline.

Party line or Lateline? Turnbull’s Tory temptation

Malcolm Turnbull created a stir on Lateline last night by criticising opposition climate policy. The opposition spokesman for communications and former leader of the party implied that Tony Abbott’s “direct…
Julia Gillard’s gender matters, but it also depends on which gender is listening. Julia Gillard’s gender matters, but it also depends on which gender is listening. AAP

When Julia talks, does her gender speak louder?

How does gender affect the way people perceive Julia Gillard’s communication style? Australians’ responses to Julia Gillard seem complex and ambiguous, embodying the contradictions involved in how women…
Is the Prime Minister’s delivery interfering with her message? Is the Prime Minister’s delivery interfering with her message? Yonhap/AAPIMAGE

Nervous not nasal, misunderstood not misleading – Julia’s just trying too hard

Julia Gillard’s time as Prime Minister has been dogged by much personal scrutiny – of her dress, her partner, her hair and her speech. Julia’s ability as a negotiator is well known in the halls of power…
Julia Gillard has to communicate her government’s reason for being. Julia Gillard has to communicate her government’s reason for being. AAP

Dear Prime Minister: we want stories, not lessons

Former US presidential speechwriter, the late William Safire, outlined the components of a perfect political speech as follows: “tell ‘em what you’re going to tell ‘em – then tell ‘em – then tell ‘em what…
Julia Gillard’s brand was tarnished when she rolled Kevin Rudd. Julia Gillard’s brand was tarnished when she rolled Kevin Rudd. AAP/Mark Graham

Forget the quick fix – rebuilding trust is the way to restore Labor’s brand

Politics is a tricky business. Being in government is even trickier. But it should be pretty simple. It’s like any other business, isn’t it? It’s all just marketing. You find out what they want, you tell…
Julia Gillard needs a ‘circuit breaker’ to turn the polls around. Julia Gillard needs a ‘circuit breaker’ to turn the polls around. AAP/Andrew Taylor

A party in search of a story: why so few are listening to Labor

The Gillard Government just can’t sell its message. That was the view of independent MP Andrew Wilkie speaking on ABC Radio National this week. Recent opinion polls confirm the government has communication…
Personal credibility is what convinces voters. Personal credibility is what convinces voters. AAP/Alan Porritt

Abbott comes out swinging but is light on detail

As a boxer Tony Abbott had a limited but effective method described by some as “the whirling dervish”. He was full of energy and on the attack with arms swinging. It was a tactic that could work for the…
Tony Abbott presented an alternate vision instead of an alternative budget. Tony Abbott presented an alternate vision instead of an alternative budget. AAP/Alan Porritt

Abbott’s budget reply: alternate vision with just a hint of hit man

Tony Abbott has arguably outlined the most important public policy agenda for the next decade (no matter which side of politics forms government over that period). The major questions will now be: who…
About one in seven households earn more than $150,000. About one in seven households earn more than $150,000. AAP

‘Does $150,000 make me effluent, mum, or would I just be doing OK?’

Wayne Swan’s budget tightening measures have launched a fierce debate on what constitutes “middle class welfare”. And what income and wealth levels define the middle class. The Gillard government has imposed…
Balanced response: Tony Abbott’s budget speech should be thoughtful, not just critical. Balanced response: Tony Abbott’s budget speech should be thoughtful, not just critical.

Same old cycle - explaining our budget attention deficit

There is a sublime moment in the first series of The Thick of It, the brilliant British comedy TV series that satirised the inner workings of modern government, where the Minister for Social Affairs and…
Treasurer Wayne Swan supervises journalists examining his budget. His tax plans are a “fiscal illusion”. Treasurer Wayne Swan supervises journalists examining his budget. His tax plans are a “fiscal illusion”. AAP/Andrew Taylor

The trouble with ‘taxeaters’ (aka middle-class welfare recipients)

Thinking about tax policy gives individuals the opportunity to devise their own “great society”. As economics laureate James Buchanan explains “Many economists, along with other social scientists and social…
Wayne Swan and Julia Gillard’s budget focused on having Australia live “within its means.” Wayne Swan and Julia Gillard’s budget focused on having Australia live “within its means.” AAP/Alan Porritt

Julia Gillard’s budget grand narrative: if you work hard you won’t be left behind

When looking at the budget it’s useful to remember, in the cold light of day, that politics, at its most fundamental level, is about relationships of power. It is about conflict, both overt and covert…
The government’s targeting of welfare marks a significant policy shift. The government’s targeting of welfare marks a significant policy shift. AAP

How this budget put welfare to work

Apart from the reassuring signals to financial markets about the deficit reduction, the longer term significance of this year’s budget is about restructuring the relationship between welfare and work…
The Federal Budget hoopla is largely a symbolic gesture. The Federal Budget hoopla is largely a symbolic gesture. AAP

Reading Swan’s budget symbolism

Federal Budget night has become widely held as the most crucial event in Australia’s political calendar. After all, any statement of how more than $300 billion is going to be raised and a similar amount…
What problems? Wayne Swan meets British Chancellor George Osborne and Belgium’s Finance Minister Didier Reynders at April’s IMF meeting. What problems? Wayne Swan meets British Chancellor George Osborne and Belgium’s Finance Minister Didier Reynders at April’s IMF meeting. AAP

Why Wayne Swan is the envy of the world right now

Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan says he is set to deliver a tough budget. Julia Gillard remains committed to bringing government back to surplus by 2013. Budget day is an appropriate moment to ask how the…
Invest early for the best employment outcomes. Invest early for the best employment outcomes. AAP

Four ways to get people back into work

Tonight’s budget will bring major policy announcements directed at improving labour market outcomes for unemployed persons and welfare recipients. In her speech at the Sydney Institute on April 13, Julia…
aapone christmas island asylum seekers original. aapone christmas island asylum seekers original.

Refugees: Now we have the Malaysian solution, but what’s the problem?

If Julia Gillard’s “Malaysian solution” tells us anything, it’s that Tony Abbott’s stop-the-boats mantra has redefined the debate on refugees. The Prime Minister has previously committed to not doing any…
First Minister Alex Salmond has promised to hold a referendum on Scottish independence. First Minister Alex Salmond has promised to hold a referendum on Scottish independence. AAP

How Scottish elections could deliver an Australian republic

Australian republicans should watch the Scots. In the Scottish Parliamentary election held on 5 May, the Scottish National Party (SNP) secured an overall majority. Formerly in minority government in Scotland…
PM Julia Gillard says there’s only way the surplus should go. PM Julia Gillard says there’s only way the surplus should go. AAP

Federal Budget 2011: Do we need a budget surplus?

“The right thing to do with an economy that is moving towards full capacity and full strength is to deliver a budget surplus.“ - Prime Minister Julia Gillard In collaboration with The Drum, The Conversation…
Women are most likely to depend Centrelink payments. Women are most likely to depend Centrelink payments. AAP

How the surplus drains the gender balance

FEDERAL BUDGET 2011: In recent decades, the budget surplus has become a goal in itself and an obsession for governments. In the process, we have lost some perspective on what kind of social and economic…
“And then children, we returned the budget to surplus…” “And then children, we returned the budget to surplus…” AAP

Why Wayne and Julia are hooked on ‘deficit fetishism’

If pre-budget statements by Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan are an accurate guide, this year’s Federal Budget is shaping up as marking a change in the direction of Commonwealth taxing and spending priorities…
Our relationship with China has been marked by misunderstandings and spats. Our relationship with China has been marked by misunderstandings and spats. AAP

When it comes to China, we don’t get it

Prime Minister Julia Gillard returned from her visit to China last month having locked down a series of cooperation agreements between countries - including a $600 million iron ore deal - which many hope…
Julias Gillard has raised the issue of human rights with the Chinese. Julias Gillard has raised the issue of human rights with the Chinese. AAP

Australia’s B+ human rights record: good but must improve

Can Prime Minister Julia Gillard lecture China on its human rights record given the many failings observers see in Australia’s own treatment of vulnerable groups? Australia generally has a good human rights…
Could Kevin Rudd be Prime Minister again? Could Kevin Rudd be Prime Minister again? AAP

The comeback Kevin Rudd

Recent polls have shown a rise in public support for former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd returning to The Lodge. After an appearance on the ABC’s Q&A television show widely seen as possibly preparing…
Mentally ill Australians need help to return to the workforce. Mentally ill Australians need help to return to the workforce.

Tony Abbott’s head start in mental health

Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott today announced $430 million in to boost support mentally ill Australians in the workforce with employment services, research and professional development. It’s an…
Many jobs can be bad for your health. It’s important for the quality of work to improve before it can be seen as a universal good. Many jobs can be bad for your health. It’s important for the quality of work to improve before it can be seen as a universal good. Rafael Cavalcante/Flickr

A philosopher’s view: the benefits and dignity of work

In a recent speech presented at the Sydney Institute, Julia Gillard reaffirmed her commitment to welfare reform aimed at full employment. This was justified not by the need for the government to cut its…
Public disclosure on benefits of major infrastructure needs to be improved. Public disclosure on benefits of major infrastructure needs to be improved. AAP

Revealing true costs of public projects not so simple

Proposals by Opposition leader Tony Abbott and NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell for greater rigour in evaluating major projects are a step in the right direction when it comes to policy-making on infrastructure…
hi vis gillard. hi vis gillard. AAP

Gender, unemployment and unpaid work

In her paean to the virtues and benefits of paid work, Prime Minister Julia Gillard fails to acknowledge the complex intersections of paid and unpaid work in social and individual well being. Good jobs…
Pokies players can lose in excess of $1500 an hour. Pokies players can lose in excess of $1500 an hour. AAP

Death threats are a sideshow - Wilkie’s pokies plan will work

Once ‘un-Australian’ appears in any debate don’t expect rational argument or evidence. Look no further for proof than the advertising blitz by Clubs Australia and the Australian Hotels Association against…
Coalition welfare policy wrongly relies on the flawed Work of the Dole program. Coalition welfare policy wrongly relies on the flawed Work of the Dole program. AAP

Work for the Dole doesn’t work, so why is it Coalition policy?

Tony Abbott’s recently unveiled welfare reform package advocating a range of tough policies to push people into work has been described by Prime Minister Julia Gillard as ‘reheated'. You might expect that…
Australians will need to speak and understand Chinese. Australians will need to speak and understand Chinese. AFP / Philippe Lopez

Why every child under fifteen should learn to speak Chinese

No amount of AFL passes in the Oval Office during Prime Minister Gillard’s visit to Washington last month could disguise the real issue facing Australia, the US and the rest of the world: the rise of China…
According to Kevin Rudd cabinet was divided on the ETS. According to Kevin Rudd cabinet was divided on the ETS. AAP/Tracey Nearmy

Why Kevin Rudd isn’t perfect

Last night on the popular interactive current affairs program, Q&A, Kevin Rudd admitted that he isn’t perfect. Rudd told viewers and studio audience members that he was “wrong” to shelve the Emissions…
Don Bradman was the “greatest living Australian”, according to John Howard, and is so central to the country’s history, he features in the citizenship test. Don Bradman was the “greatest living Australian”, according to John Howard, and is so central to the country’s history, he features in the citizenship test. AAP Photo/ Mortlock Library of South Australia

Gillard government can remake history by adopting a neglected idea

Australia is in danger of forgetting its past. The government is starving history projects of their funding. And we have until Friday to try to stop the total abolition of the crucial Making History initiative…
An election victory is just the start of the Coalition’s “Contract with New South Wales”. An election victory is just the start of the Coalition’s “Contract with New South Wales”. AAP/Dean Lewins

State of NSW: A certain victory for the Coalition, but then the real work starts

All the signs point to a landslide victory for Barry O’Farrell and the Liberal National coalition tomorrow. Premier Kristina Keneally’s popularity has plummeted with only 30 per cent of voters satisfied…
Sydney’s Mardi Gras festival featured many campaigners for gay marriage. Sydney’s Mardi Gras festival featured many campaigners for gay marriage. AAP/Greg Wood

It’s politicians not punters who lost their nerve on gay marriage

Australia used to be one of the most tolerant places in the world. In the 1980s when the spectre of HIV and AIDS reached around the globe, the government funded campaigns to raise awareness of the virus…
offshoregas. offshoregas. AAP

The resources tax: back to the future?

Even as debate rages on how the Federal Government will legislate the Minerals Resource Rent Tax, it seems that as so often happens in politics, what is old is new again. Almost 23 years ago, off-shore…

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