Federal politics

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Few other world leaders are as enthusiastic as Tony Abbott in endorsing coal as ‘good for humanity’. AAP/Dan Peled

Zombie politics vs climate action: will the coming election focus on our future?

Australia's failure to lead on climate action marks a stark shift in political priorities in the past decade. The government is all about immediate economic returns whatever the long-term costs.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten has levelled with Tony Abbott as preferred prime minister, according to Newspoll. Tracey Nearmy/AAP

Labor improves lead in Newspoll, as cabinet looks at carbon targets

The opposition has widened its two-party lead over the Coalition in Newspoll as MPs return for a new parliamentary session rocked by voters' anger over parliamentary entitlements.
The scandal surrounding Bronwyn Bishop’s entitlements may not have ended with her resignation as Speaker. AAP/Lukas Coch

Bishop resignation won’t end impact on Coalition

Combined, the nature of the controversy, Bishop’s behaviour as Speaker, and the way she and her party dealt with the issue created the perfect storm for a damaging scandal.
Why me? Bronwyn Bishop’s ‘Choppergate’ scandal has taken off for two reasons: it created an image in the public mind and it feeds into an underlying perception. AAP/Mick Tsikas

Why, among so many issues, Bronwyn Bishop’s helicopter trip gets our attention

To last a long time, issues need to provide a vivid image. The image of a woman dressed up to the nines with a bouffant hairdo riding in a helicopter is a very vivid one.
Bill Shorten’s support – and that of his party – is almost entirely a function of public perceptions of Tony Abbott’s performance. AAP/Nikki Short

Shorten’s trust deficit is limiting Labor’s opportunities

Bill Shorten has neither built the profile nor provided the performance that renders him prime minister-in-waiting rather than fragile whinger-in-chief.
Tony Abbott risks having same-sex marriage used against him electorally – just as his Liberal Party once tried to use it against Labor. AAP/Mick Tsikas

Why Australia is so far behind the times on same-sex marriage

As opposition leader Bill Shorten prepares to introduce an amendment on Monday to the Marriage Act to legalise same-sex marriage, why has Australia lagged so far behind?
In his first budget and in opposition, Joe Hockey’s single-minded focus was on cutting the budget debt and deficits. For his second budget he’s telling a different story. AAP/Paul Miller

Debt disaster is so last year – now Hockey’s giving a helping hand

Joe Hockey's first budget was a declaration of ideological belief. The second is about political survival and depends on breathing life back into the economy -- the ideological urgency can wait.
Power shift: Richard Di Natale’s elevation as the new Greens' leader, replacing Tasmanian Christine Milne, marks the rise of the Victorian Greens. Mick Tsikas/AAP

Greens' leadership shifts from Tasmania to the greenest state

The balance of power in Australian green politics has shifted with the choice of Victorian Senator Richard Di Natale as Greens' leader – and the speed of the change is a lesson for other parties.
The Abbott government is running out of time to try to come up with new ideas and refresh its reason for being. AAP/Tracey Nearmy

Lacking an agenda, the Abbott government’s time is running out

When it comes to producing a comprehensive, far-reaching policy regime – a coherent vision for Australia’s society and economy and how to turn it into reality – the government is only getting started.
Australian and Canadian prime ministers Tony Abbott and Stephen Harper operate in political cultures where all-out warfare is now the norm. AAP/Steve Christo

Canada and Australia share a political culture of conflict

In recent years, a political "state of nature" has replaced what had been the civilised practice of political life in Australia.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott confers with his chief of staff, Peta Credlin, during question time. AAP/Lukas Coch

Why Credlin is seen to have gone too far as PM’s right-hand woman

Peta Credlin is in the classic "double bind" of all women in power: if they take charge, they transgress the gendered expectations that "female qualities" are best suited to a supporting role.
The Abbott government’s expedited passage of national security laws in 2014 demonstrated an underlying disrespect for the legislative process. AAP/Nikki Short

‘Good government’ gets lost in the pursuit of national security

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has made two key pledges in recent weeks – to begin “good government” and to no longer give “the benefit of doubt” to people suspected of planning terrorist activities in Australia…
Joe Hockey’s 2012 ‘age of entitlement’ speech was unusually candid, but as treasurer he has shied away from tackling the tax perks that burden the budget. AAP/Lukas Coch

Calls for clear political narratives ultimately demand greater honesty

Whenever an Australian government runs into trouble we hear calls for a clearer narrative. The latest contribution comes in a thoughtful article from Waleed Aly. Aly points to the similar undermining of…
Tony Abbott is offering logical evidence and emotional appeals, but the rhetorical problem is his own loss of credibility and authority. AAP/Mick Tsikas

The prime ministerial promise to change: can it work?

“Is it me?” That was the question John Howard reportedly asked his cabinet colleagues as his government remained stubbornly behind in the polls in 2007. One of those colleagues, Tony Abbott, now confronts…
John Howard sealed his fate by going too far with WorkChoices, but he got the balance right and succeeded with the GST reform. AAP/Andrew Brownbill

Why not listen to the people for a solution to the reform stalemate?

The distinction between the global and the local is collapsing under the pressure of climate change, economic restructuring, global migration and jihadism on the one hand and the populist and information…
Unlike in Queensland, NSW Premier Mike Baird will not be able to keep Tony Abbott away from the campaign trail. AAP/Dan Himbrechts

Making Abbott invisible in NSW campaign will prove difficult

The major political parties are only days away from launching their campaigns for this year’s New South Wales state election, to be held on March 28. As state political issues that don’t involve the Independent…

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