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Odd one out? Jacqui Lambie walks past her Palmer United Party colleagues earlier this week. AAP/Lukas Coch

Lacking a unifying purpose or policies, PUP is falling apart

After holding itself together for four-and-a-half months, potentially fatal cracks are appearing in the Palmer United Party (PUP). With fellow senators claiming that she refuses to attend party meetings…
The pragmatic Tony Abbott some expected of him as prime minister has begun to emerge, but Joe Hockey is still on a course of crash or crash through. AAP/Alan Porritt

Government may be learning from mistakes, except for slow learners

A few days ago in a tutorial on political leadership, a student asked me, given my past professional contact with Tony Abbott, if the prime minister has what it takes to be a long-term success in the job…
Australian Federal Police officers outside Parliament House in Canberra today. The AFP is set to take over Parliament House security after ‘chatter’ about a possible terrorist attack. AAP Image/Lukas Coch

Parliament ramps up security, only months after scaling it back

Liberal senator Bill Heffernan has had the last laugh on the serious question of security at Australia’s Parliament. Earlier this year, security was slackened in a bid to save A$400,000. MPs' staff and…
Bill Shorten needs to define a positive story for Labor that goes beyond the constant whining about the government’s broken promises. AAP/Alan Porritt

As the party faithful drift away, can Bill Shorten reinvent Labor?

Bill Shorten, who seemed so impressive as a union leader and minister, is shaping up as the least inspiring opposition leader since Alexander Downer. In foreign affairs, Shorten’s fear of repeating Mark…
The Abbott government has appointed several people with business backgrounds, such as Tony Shepherd (left), to key inquiries in its first year in office. AAP/Nikki Short

Coalition’s appointments are part of a bigger pattern in policy advice

Since coming to office, the Abbott government has initiated a wide range of reviews into policy areas such as the national school curriculum and the Renewable Energy Target. Some commentators have argued…
The Abbott government is all for free speech except when the speakers are green activists like Mackay Conservation Group’s Ellen Roberts. AAP/Dan Peled

Step by step, conservative forces move to silence NGOs' voices

The federal Liberal Party, government ministers, Coalition MPs, the Minerals Council of Australia and the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) are targeting the advocacy role of Australia’s environmental…
In its first year in office, the Abbott government has been revealed as utterly tone-deaf when it comes to matters of political ideology. AAP/Lukas Coch

Oh, what a lovely culture war! Team Abbott’s ideological battle

As we approach the first anniversary of the Abbott government coming to office, The Conversation is examining how the Coalition has fared in remaking Australia and keeping its election promises. Labor…
Tony Abbott’s smiling now, but if his hold on the leadership weakens some say the Coalition should go back to Malcolm Turnbull. AAP/Gary Schafer

Why spin trumps policy – until we build a new system of substance

Spin is widely seen as the scourge of contemporary politics. We rail at politicians who seem more intent on appearing to act, rather than coming up with and pushing through important policy decisions…
Some unhappy state Liberals are pointing to an unpopular federal government and its budget as the source of their electoral woes. AAP/Joe Castro

Are voters set to stop giving first-term leaders a second chance?

In today’s politics, few governments are ever safe. Even freshly minted administrations now age at an incredible speed. The most casual observer will know how much trouble the Abbott government finds itself…
The government has manoeuvred itself into a position where its bluster has made it vulnerable to Clive Palmer’s bluster in the Senate. AAP/Lukas Coch

Early missteps show Abbott needs a plan B to deal with the Senate

Last week, television news presented grabs of former prime minister John Howard arriving in Canberra. It is unknown if Howard was there to share his wisdom with Coalition MPs on how to deal with minor…
Referring long-term issues to ‘depoliticised’ processes such as commissions of audit does not solve the challenges of political management for governments. AAP/Lukas Coch

To revive long-term democratic thinking we have to innovate

The 2014 federal budget was informed by the need to think long term and was accompanied by austerity rhetoric. Regardless of where you stand on the merit of austerity policy in affecting economic recovery…
The Abbott government continues to have difficulty selling its difficult budget message. AAP/David Crosling

New poll hit for Abbott

The Abbott government has slumped back to its post-budget low, trailing Labor 45-55% on a two-party basis, in today’s Newspoll…
By working collaboratively with the new crossbench senators, the government could expand its thinking and avoid being captured by a narrow worldview. AAP/Lukas Coch

The new Senate could be Abbott’s obstacle – or an opportunity

From today, Australia has a new-look Senate. Twelve new and 64 returning senators will take their seats on the red chamber’s plush leather benches for next week’s sitting. With them comes a major shift…
Not since 1993 has a government managed to arouse such sustained voter antagonism with its budget. AAP/Alan Porritt

Five weeks on, deal-breaker for voters has shades of ‘93 budget

Five weeks after its release, treasurer Joe Hockey’s first federal budget is proving to be a remarkably durable political and media commodity, and not in ways that portend well for the Abbott government…
Higher-income Americans are much more likely to vote than the poor, which reduces political parties' incentive to tackle inequality. EPA/Michael Reynolds

Failing union of capitalism and democracy fuels rise in inequality

Recent weeks have been all about elections and broken promises: from early April to mid-May, half-a-billion Indians went to the polls in what many described an astonishing display of democratic prowess…
Joe Hockey’s budget speech forgot the age-old rules of rhetoric, which he needed to observe if he wanted to control ‘the narrative’. Lukas Coch/AAP

In government, a mantra is not enough to control the narrative

The annual federal budget speech is the one required speech of the Australian political calendar. And it goes all the way back to Federation. It’s Australia’s equivalent of the State of the Union address…
Opposition leader Bill Shorten attacked the government’s budget as ‘ideological’, but his own vision in the battle of ideas is far less clear. AAP/Alan Porritt

Shorten’s budget in reply: will it reshape voters' memories?

Opposition leader Bill Shorten was emphatic in his budget in reply that the Abbott government’s first budget was an “attack” on the Australian way of life. In his speech on the floor of parliament last…
Treasurer Joe Hockey and finance minister Mathias Cormann face a difficult sell for the Abbott government’s tough first budget. AAP/Alan Porritt

Federal budget 2014: political experts react

The Abbott government is hoping an A$11.6 billion infrastructure spending package, combined with a $20 billion medical research fund, will help soften the blow of widespread tightening of health and welfare…

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