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Analysis and Comment (253)

New Indonesian president Joko Widodo’s still unsure about attending the G20 Summit in Brisbane. New Indonesian president Joko Widodo’s still unsure about attending the G20 Summit in Brisbane. AAP Image/Eka Nickmatulhuda

To G or Not to G(20): that’s the question for Indonesia’s new president

Australian prime minister Tony Abbott met with newly sworn Indonesian president Joko Widodo after his inauguration in Jakarta, inviting him to attend the G20 Summit in Brisbane. But Jokowi, as the new…
Tony Abbott arrives in Jakarta to attend the inauguration of Joko Widodo as Indonesia’s new president. Tony Abbott arrives in Jakarta to attend the inauguration of Joko Widodo as Indonesia’s new president. AAP/Eka Nickmatulhuda

Q&A: Abbott’s hand of friendship to Indonesia’s new president

Australian prime minister Tony Abbott is joining in a big party in Indonesia. Indonesia’s new president and vice-president are being inaugurated today. Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Jusuf “JK” Kalla are being…
Universities in the US have led the divestment charge - the ANU is leading the Australian movement. Universities in the US have led the divestment charge - the ANU is leading the Australian movement. Light Brigading/Flickr

Divestment backlash shows companies need to improve sustainability reporting

Tony Abbott’s criticisms of the ANU’s divestment decision will come back to bite him. The tide of change is such that Vice-Chancellor Ian Young and the ANU Council will be seen as leaders. Others will…
Tony Abbott was quick to offer assistance to the US for the action against IS, but has not been so forthcoming on helping with Ebola. Tony Abbott was quick to offer assistance to the US for the action against IS, but has not been so forthcoming on helping with Ebola. AAP/Tracey Nearmy

Grattan on Friday: Tony, pick up the phone to Barack on Ebola

Here’s a thought for Tony Abbott. Why doesn’t he ring up Barack Obama and David Cameron and ask them to help remove the impediment that’s apparently stopping the Australian government providing assistance…
Opening a mine in Queensland this week, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said coal was “good for humanity”. Opening a mine in Queensland this week, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said coal was “good for humanity”. Dan Peled/AAP

Abbott’s G20 agenda: climate still the elephant in the room

News emerging from Washington last week suggests climate change may amount to more than an FAQ in the appendices of this November’s G20 leaders' summit agenda. President Obama’s deputy national security…
Religious leaders have come together to promote community harmony, but some political and media agendas have encouraged Islamophobia. Religious leaders have come together to promote community harmony, but some political and media agendas have encouraged Islamophobia. AAP/Tracey Nearmy

Politicians and media let us down in fight to curb rising Islamophobia

Many incidents of violence and harassment directed at Australian Muslims have been reported recently. These are visible confirmation of fears expressed by their community, that support for the government’s…
Has testing prospective citizens on Australian values increased social cohesion? Has testing prospective citizens on Australian values increased social cohesion? Glenn Hunt/AAP

Is the Australian citizenship test failing ‘Team Australia’?

Today, October 1, the Australian citizenship test turns seven. This is the official test that determines if a migrant can become an Australian citizen. It is a good time to evaluate its performance. The…
Tony Abbott and his ministers are presenting ‘Team Australia’ as a national response to the global terrorism threat. Tony Abbott and his ministers are presenting ‘Team Australia’ as a national response to the global terrorism threat. AAP/David Crosling

‘Team Australia’: a nationalism framed in terms of external threats

Tony Abbott’s “Team Australia” is a confusing concept. The latest image of Australian nationalism is headed by a staunch monarchist who campaigned against a local head of state. The same “captain” recently…
Leader of the pack: Djalu Gurruwiwi of the Galpu clan leads younger performers at the 2013 Garma Festival in Arnhem Land. Leader of the pack: Djalu Gurruwiwi of the Galpu clan leads younger performers at the 2013 Garma Festival in Arnhem Land. AAP Image/Youthu Yindi Foundation

Listen to your elders: inviting Aboriginal parents back to school

Tony Abbott is spending this week in North East Arnhem Land, part of his long-held hope “to be not just the Prime Minister but the Prime Minister for Aboriginal Affairs”. We asked our experts: what stories…
Prime Minister Tony Abbott, with Air Chief Marshal Mark Binski, announces Australia will send 600 military personnel to the Middle East. Prime Minister Tony Abbott, with Air Chief Marshal Mark Binski, announces Australia will send 600 military personnel to the Middle East. AAP

Q&A: How Australia has moved faster to fight Islamic State

How much has Australia committed to fighting Islamic State? Australia has pledged 600 military personnel and up to eight Super Hornets, which is expected to cost up to $500 million per year. There has…
The Sunday Age on the morning after Gough Whitlam’s 1972 election victory. The Sunday Age on the morning after Gough Whitlam’s 1972 election victory.

From Whitlam to Abbott, Australian Prime Ministers' first year in power

The following was delivered as the 2014 Dean Jaensch Lecture at Flinders University, September 16. In opposition, Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott were fond of comparing their battles to become the nation’s…
If you’re born underweight, like this little baby on the left, it can make a world of difference to your lifelong health. If you’re born underweight, like this little baby on the left, it can make a world of difference to your lifelong health. Menzies Health

Australia’s 7 Up: the revealing study tracking babies to adults

Tony Abbott is spending this week in North-East Arnhem Land, part of his long-held hope “to be not just the Prime Minister but the Prime Minister for Aboriginal Affairs”. We asked our experts: what stories…
Indigenous land management jobs have been a popular, growing area of employment in recent years. Indigenous land management jobs have been a popular, growing area of employment in recent years. AAP Image/Peter Eve

Would you risk losing your home for a few weeks of work?

Tony Abbott is spending this week in North-East Arnhem Land, part of his long-held hope “to be not just the Prime Minister but the Prime Minister for Aboriginal Affairs”. We asked our experts: what stories…
There’s a long-term shift underway in Australia that all politicians should be watching. There’s a long-term shift underway in Australia that all politicians should be watching. AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy

Indigenous Australia’s rapid rise is shifting money and votes

Tony Abbott is spending this week in North-East Arnhem Land, part of his long-held hope “to be not just the Prime Minister but the Prime Minister for Aboriginal Affairs”. We asked our experts: what stories…
A still from the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s award-winning Be Deadly Online campaign. A still from the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s award-winning Be Deadly Online campaign. ACMAcybersmart/YouTube

Well-connected Indigenous kids keen to tap new ways to save lives

Tony Abbott is spending this week in North-East Arnhem Land, part of his long-held hope “to be not just the Prime Minister but the Prime Minister for Aboriginal Affairs”. We asked our experts: what stories…
Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion with students in the Tiwi Islands, Northern Territory. Research shows acting on overcrowded housing could greatly improve Indigenous kids' school attendance in remote communities. Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion with students in the Tiwi Islands, Northern Territory. Research shows acting on overcrowded housing could greatly improve Indigenous kids' school attendance in remote communities. AAP/Neda Vanovac

How crowded homes can lead to empty schools in the bush

Tony Abbott is spending this week in North East Arnhem Land, part of his long-held hope “to be not just the Prime Minister but the Prime Minister for Aboriginal Affairs”. We asked our experts: what stories…
Prime Minister Tony Abbott (back left) with elder Wendy Marika (back centre) during a Welcome to Country ceremony on his arrival at Yirrkala on the Gove Peninsula in North East Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, yesterday. Prime Minister Tony Abbott (back left) with elder Wendy Marika (back centre) during a Welcome to Country ceremony on his arrival at Yirrkala on the Gove Peninsula in North East Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, yesterday. AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy

‘PM for Aboriginal Affairs’ Abbott faces his biggest hearing test

Tony Abbott is spending this week in North East Arnhem Land, part of his long-held hope “to be not just the Prime Minister but the Prime Minister for Aboriginal Affairs”. We asked our experts: what stories…
Tony Abbott and Narendra Modi have an active shared interest in building a closer Australia-India relationship. Tony Abbott and Narendra Modi have an active shared interest in building a closer Australia-India relationship. EPA

Australia’s India gambit, the final step in wooing Asia’s key players

During his first year in office, Prime Minister Tony Abbott has conducted a surprisingly energetic and focused foreign policy. Economic diplomacy is one of its principal tools with business delegations…
If refused re-entry, foreign fighters such as Australian Mohamed Elomar are likely to become professional jihadists for life. If refused re-entry, foreign fighters such as Australian Mohamed Elomar are likely to become professional jihadists for life. Facebook

If blocked from returning home, where will Australia’s jihadists go?

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has spent recent weeks attempting to rally support for mooted anti-terror laws that would block the return of Australian jihadists fighting alongside Islamic State (IS) in Syria…
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and US Secretary of State John Kerry after the annual Australia-US security talks in Sydney last month. Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and US Secretary of State John Kerry after the annual Australia-US security talks in Sydney last month. AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts

Ghosts of 2003: US, Australia and allies face tough choices in Iraq

Australia has announced that it will take its place among the US-led coalition of states in military operations against Islamic State in Iraq. Responding to a request from the US President, Australia has…
Bill Shorten needs to define a positive story for Labor that goes beyond the constant whining about the government’s broken promises. 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 first year of Tony Abbott’s prime ministership has been marred by too much tribalism. The first year of Tony Abbott’s prime ministership has been marred by too much tribalism. AAP/Lukas Coch

Grattan on Friday: Tony Abbott’s year of living ideologically

Tony Abbott promised a government of no surprises but has delivered a year chock-full of them. A prime minister expected to lean to caution has thrown it to the winds. A leader without a cushion of popularity…
In the same week Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is to visit India, Indian PM Modi has visited Japan. In the same week Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is to visit India, Indian PM Modi has visited Japan. Toru Hanai/EPA/AAP

Abbott in India: the Asian Century won’t be all about China

Despite recent slumps in economic growth (now at just over 5.4% compared to 10.3% in 2010), former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh this year handed the new Prime Minister Narendra Modi a much more…
Today’s young Australians are the smiling symbols of the embrace of multicultural identity, the nation’s defining moment. Today’s young Australians are the smiling symbols of the embrace of multicultural identity, the nation’s defining moment. Flickr/DIBP Images, Faces of Australia

Modern Australia’s defining moment came long after First Fleet

The culture wars that dominated the narrative during John Howard’s prime ministership have returned with the ascension of his self-described “political love child”, Tony Abbott. While Abbott is sometimes…
Tony Abbott’s visit to India will focus on the sale of uranium more so than a shared love of cricket. Tony Abbott’s visit to India will focus on the sale of uranium more so than a shared love of cricket. AAP

Abbott’s visit to take Australia-India relations beyond cricket

Australian prime minister Tony Abbott will visit India this week, his first trip to the country since Narendra Modi took office. On the agenda will be a range of issues important to India and Australia…
The Abbott government has appointed several people with business backgrounds, such as Tony Shepherd (left), to key inquiries in its first year in office. 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…
Tony Abbott has the support of business leaders, but will it last? Tony Abbott has the support of business leaders, but will it last? Nikki Short/AAP

The Abbott economy at one: open for business, closed to real reform

In his victory speech on election night last September, prime minister Tony Abbott declared Australia was “under new management and … once more open for business”. There were, of course, specific promises…
Prime Minister Tony Abbott is a fan of big road projects. Prime Minister Tony Abbott is a fan of big road projects. Dan Peled/AAP

One year on, infrastructure prime minister still poised with a shovel

When Australian prime minister Tony Abbott came into office last year his aim was to be remembered as the “infrastructure prime minister”. In the Coalition’s September 2013 policy to “Deliver the Infrastructure…
When faced with an economic policy agenda, the public must be persuaded on two fronts: that it is justified both by evidence and morally. When faced with an economic policy agenda, the public must be persuaded on two fronts: that it is justified both by evidence and morally. AAP/Paul Miller

The government can sell the budget if it gets its story straight

It is now more than three months since the Abbott government released its first budget. Amid the subsequent wrangling over controversial measures such as the A$7 GP co-payment and re-indexing the fuel…
In his response to MH17, prime minister Tony Abbott acted according to some personal and cultural expectations of leadership. In his response to MH17, prime minister Tony Abbott acted according to some personal and cultural expectations of leadership. AAP/Alan Porritt

Abbott’s leadership role models serve him well in MH17 crisis

It was the bloodshot eyes that conveyed to one journalist the strain and weariness weighing upon prime minister Tony Abbott as he dealt with the MH17 tragedy. Australians learned of the office naps between…
Many parties have a vested interest in shaping the way we remember the Great War ahead of its centenary, but some are more equal than others. Many parties have a vested interest in shaping the way we remember the Great War ahead of its centenary, but some are more equal than others. EPA/Thomas Bregardis

Who owns the myths and legends of the Great War centenary?

When prime minister Tony Abbott declared at Villers-Bretonneux that “no place on earth has been more densely sown with Australian sacrifice than these fields in France”, Australian attention focused again…
Some unhappy state Liberals are pointing to an unpopular federal government and its budget as the source of their electoral woes. 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…
Tony Abbott has been determined to meet the requirements as the leader of a country in mourning. Tony Abbott has been determined to meet the requirements as the leader of a country in mourning. AAP/Alan Porritt

Grattan on Friday: Abbott has been determined to leave nothing undone in the MH17 tragedy

A week ago Tony Abbott caught the mood of the nation when he quickly adopted the toughest rhetoric in denouncing those responsible for downing MH17, with the loss of many Australian lives. A week later…
The government has manoeuvred itself into a position where its bluster has made it vulnerable to Clive Palmer’s bluster in the Senate. 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…
Australia has led the international community in condemning the downing of flight MH17 and the handling of the victims' bodies. Australia has led the international community in condemning the downing of flight MH17 and the handling of the victims' bodies. EPA/Robert Ghement

Global law and decency: our double standards on MH17 and asylum seekers

Following the shocking news of the destruction of flight MH17, foreign minister Julie Bishop wasted no time in boarding a plane for the United Nations in New York. Australian diplomats engaged in intense…
Tony Abbott’s responses to Indonesian concerns about spying suggested a weak understanding of president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s different cultural milieu. Tony Abbott’s responses to Indonesian concerns about spying suggested a weak understanding of president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s different cultural milieu. EPA/Tanaya Pramudita

Cultural intelligence key to future of Australia-Indonesia relationship

The official result in Indonesia’s presidential election contest between Joko Widodo and Prabowo Subianto is still some days away, with both claiming victory. But no matter who the next president is, there…
Even before it was born, the carbon price had plenty of friends – and lots of enemies. Even before it was born, the carbon price had plenty of friends – and lots of enemies. Shutterstock

Obituary: Australia’s carbon price

The Carbon Pricing Mechanism, known to its friends as the carbon price and its critics as the carbon tax, passed away today in Canberra, aged two, after a long battle with slogans. While it won praise…
Public support for change that would enable Tony Abbott’s sister Christine (right) to marry her same-sex partner is much stronger than for ‘axing the tax’, but the PM is selectively deaf to the people’s voice. Public support for change that would enable Tony Abbott’s sister Christine (right) to marry her same-sex partner is much stronger than for ‘axing the tax’, but the PM is selectively deaf to the people’s voice. AAP/Joe Castro

Beyond hypocrisy to absurdity: the fortunes of same-sex marriage

Disaffection with Australian politics seems visceral and entrenched. An Essential poll in late June found that only 25% of those polled had trust in the federal parliament. Discussing this poll, Michelle…
The B20 and G20 agendas are both focused on economic growth, but Prime Minister Tony Abbott wants to avoid linking climate policy to the agenda. The B20 and G20 agendas are both focused on economic growth, but Prime Minister Tony Abbott wants to avoid linking climate policy to the agenda. Aman Sharma/AAP

Abbott stands alone on climate policy and economic growth

In a speech delivered at ANU in April last year, then shadow environment minister Greg Hunt looked toward Australia’s host role for the G20 during 2014. Regarding climate policy he said Australia should…
The Palmer United Party, including new Senator Jacqui Lambie, is unlikely to support unpopular but necessary tax reform. The Palmer United Party, including new Senator Jacqui Lambie, is unlikely to support unpopular but necessary tax reform. Lukas Coch/AAP

The new Senate looms as a disaster for tax reform

It’s unlikely “The Political Sayings of Malcolm Fraser” is a well-thumbed volume in Tony Abbott’s library. Yet this week, in the wake of the Senate throwing his government’s budget plans into disarray…
It is quite clear that Abbott is a western traditionalist when it comes to his interest in the past. It is quite clear that Abbott is a western traditionalist when it comes to his interest in the past. Dean Lewins/ AAP

Tony Abbott’s history

Wherever does our prime minister get his technique for historical analysis? Just before last week’s chaotic carbon tax repeal scenes in Canberra, prime minister Tony Abbott offended the People’s Republic…
There have been instances of successful federalism - how do we return to these? There have been instances of successful federalism - how do we return to these? Flickr/monkeyc.net

How we can reinvigorate the Australian Federation

When our two major levels of government work in partnership, our Federation can function well. The standout period for cooperative federalism was the Hawke/Keating term of government, producing the National…
Not since 1993 has a government managed to arouse such sustained voter antagonism with its budget. 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…
About 5% of the Tasmanian Wilderness could delisted as a World Heritage area, if an Australian government request wins international approval. About 5% of the Tasmanian Wilderness could delisted as a World Heritage area, if an Australian government request wins international approval. Ta Ann Truths/Flickr

Australia sends mixed messages on iconic World Heritage areas

This week, experts will debate the future of two of Australia’s World Heritage areas, the Tasmanian Wilderness and the Great Barrier Reef, at a meeting in Doha, Qatar. The world will be watching, as it…
Tony Abbott and Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper are waving the flag of climate sabotage. Tony Abbott and Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper are waving the flag of climate sabotage. AAP Image/Australian Government

No surprises: Canada and Australia are behind on climate

On tour in North America, Prime Minister Tony Abbott has forged an alliance with the Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper on climate change. Both champion climate policies that don’t put a price on carbon…
The Abbott government is at risk of sullying its international reputation if it fails to acknowledge the seriousness of climate change as a global issue. The Abbott government is at risk of sullying its international reputation if it fails to acknowledge the seriousness of climate change as a global issue. AAP/Yuli Seperi

Missteps on climate change could cost Australian diplomacy dearly

Tony Abbott will arrive in the US this week for his first face-to-face meeting with US president Barack Obama in Washington since becoming prime minister. It comes at an important time: Australia is to…
Facing wicked problems, can Tony Abbott deliver leadership that is ‘about vision, about people buying in, about empowerment and, most of all, producing useful change’? Facing wicked problems, can Tony Abbott deliver leadership that is ‘about vision, about people buying in, about empowerment and, most of all, producing useful change’? AAP/Lukas Coch

Leadership: what it is (and isn’t)

Despite our familiarity with – and craving for – leadership, its precise meaning is often elusive and resistant to consensual definition. Partly because of this, actions that are adjudged as exemplary…
There’s been a lot of commentary around Abbott’s wink yesterday, but is a wink really that ambiguous? There’s been a lot of commentary around Abbott’s wink yesterday, but is a wink really that ambiguous? YouTube

Think before you wink: the fuss over Tony’s unguarded moment

During a radio show yesterday, Prime Minister Tony Abbott winked. In and of itself, this is hardly a newsworthy event. The context of the wink, though, appears to have made all the difference in making…
The two most prolific meanings for wink are those referring to sleep and that thing Tony did. The two most prolific meanings for wink are those referring to sleep and that thing Tony did. lintmachine

One man’s wink is another’s winken – what did Abbott do?

Tony Abbott isn’t the first pollie to get into trouble with a wink. He’s now in good company with American Tea Party darling Sarah Palin. Palin’s notorious winks left voters in the 2008 American campaign…
For a while, it was possible that Tony Abbott would be a transformative leader on Indigenous policy, but he has thus far not lived up to that promise. For a while, it was possible that Tony Abbott would be a transformative leader on Indigenous policy, but he has thus far not lived up to that promise. AAP/Alan Porritt

Abbott is quietly failing on his ‘PM for Aboriginal affairs’ promise

Despite prime minister Tony Abbott’s apparent passion for Indigenous affairs, last week’s federal budget – his government’s first – shows he has followed a well-trodden political path. This path leads…
The federal budget shows that Tony Abbott is now committed to a strong division of responsibility between the Commonwealth and the states, rather than a more centralised model. The federal budget shows that Tony Abbott is now committed to a strong division of responsibility between the Commonwealth and the states, rather than a more centralised model. AAP/Alan Porritt

Abbott draws up new battlelines in the fight over federalism

When treasurer Joe Hockey detailed his first budget on Tuesday, the announcement that the states and territories were to be stripped of A$80 billion in federal health and education funding agreed to with…
Successive governments of both sides have failed to answer the fundamental questions of what it is that government should actually do and how it should go about doing it. Successive governments of both sides have failed to answer the fundamental questions of what it is that government should actually do and how it should go about doing it. AAP/Lukas Coch

Federal budget 2014: the road to a lean, mean government

Treasurer Joe Hockey’s first federal budget set out a vision of a smaller, less intrusive role for government. The sentiment can hardly be a surprise; prime minister Tony Abbott has long championed the…
Treasurer Joe Hockey’s first budget is a clear-headed and deliberate essay in creating a new sort of Australia. Treasurer Joe Hockey’s first budget is a clear-headed and deliberate essay in creating a new sort of Australia. AAP/Lukas Coch

Hockey’s first budget redefines the role of government in Australia

In 2012, then-opposition treasury spokesman Joe Hockey gave a speech in which he declared that the age of entitlement had to end. But he did not deliver it to a domestic audience. Instead, he went to the…
Treasurer Joe Hockey and finance minister Mathias Cormann face a difficult sell for the Abbott government’s tough first budget. 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…
The drive to privatise was popular during the Howard era. The drive to privatise was popular during the Howard era. Alan Porritt/AAP

Asset recycling scheme looks more like policy recycling

The Abbott government is about to unveil a new A$10 billion infrastructure package in its first budget. Apparently it is to be funded by a “special immediate measure” in the form of a levy imposed on high-income…
In the lead-up to the budget, Labor and its leader Bill Shorten seem strangely absent from debates about the purpose of government. In the lead-up to the budget, Labor and its leader Bill Shorten seem strangely absent from debates about the purpose of government. AAP/Paul Miller

Shorten, Abbott and the trap of being a negative opposition

Bill Shorten has clearly taken Tony Abbott as his role model as opposition leader. Shorten’s refrain of “broken promises” and “no more taxes” has an eerie ring of familiarity to it, and risks turning the…
Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono may have been Australia’s ‘best friend’ in southeast Asia, but not any more. Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono may have been Australia’s ‘best friend’ in southeast Asia, but not any more. EPA/Adi Weda

Abbott spurning Indonesia’s invite confirms relationship troubles

Australian prime minister Tony Abbott’s decision not to accept Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s invitation to meet at the Open Government Partnership forum Yudhoyono is chairing in Bali…
The states have signed on to a capital recycling deal but finding projects to apply it to could prove challenging. The states have signed on to a capital recycling deal but finding projects to apply it to could prove challenging. Alan Porritt/AAP

Capital recycling plan good in theory, difficult in practice

The provision of new infrastructure is a high priority for the Abbott government. It is a worthy cause. New infrastructure will ensure we remain competitive in the international market. Reducing logistics…
Unless things have changed greatly in the last eight years, it would seem that the ABC has little to fear from a review of its efficiency. Unless things have changed greatly in the last eight years, it would seem that the ABC has little to fear from a review of its efficiency. AAP/Tracey Nearmy

ABC efficiency review must not be a stealth attack on effectiveness

Due to Australia’s small population and high concentration of few media voices, public broadcasters play a pivotal role in shaping the media ecosystem and cultural landscape. With the ABC and SBS under…
Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and Joe Hockey are among the federal politicians to have softened up the ground for funding cuts to the ABC. Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and Joe Hockey are among the federal politicians to have softened up the ground for funding cuts to the ABC. AAP/Daniel Munoz

Crude tone of attacks is new, but softening up the ABC for cuts isn’t

Due to Australia’s small population and high concentration of few media voices, public broadcasters play a pivotal role in shaping the media ecosystem and cultural landscape. With the ABC and SBS under…
Signing a Economic Partnership Agreement with Japan was the highlight of Tony Abbott’s whirlwind northeast Asia trip, which also took in China and South Korea. Signing a Economic Partnership Agreement with Japan was the highlight of Tony Abbott’s whirlwind northeast Asia trip, which also took in China and South Korea. EPA/Kimmasa Mayama

Abbott’s Asia trip comes off – for now

Prime minister Tony Abbott’s diplomatic and trade mission to northeast Asia can be hailed as a success. Overall, it met its main objectives. The trip has strengthened the already deepening relationship…
Projects such as the recently-opened Shenzhen North Station in China, serves up Australia some lessons - if we’re willing to listen. Projects such as the recently-opened Shenzhen North Station in China, serves up Australia some lessons - if we’re willing to listen. Chris Hale

Time for Australia to consider Asian lessons on city infrastructure

As prime minister Tony Abbott completes a whistle-stop tour of Asia, Australia’s “place in Asia” is an ongoing discussion. Abbott hailed the “shared values” that enabled Australia’s free trade deal with…
Back in 2003 as Workplace Relations Minister Tony Abbott was already providing comedy gold. Back in 2003 as Workplace Relations Minister Tony Abbott was already providing comedy gold. AAP/ Alan Porritt

What’s so funny about right-leaning politicians, said the Abbott to the Bishop

Spoiler alert: This article is not very funny. At first glance, Australian PM Tony Abbott is God’s gift to political comedy. Like George Bush Jr he gives at the personal level: his swimmers and his vocal…
Largely lost in the politics of Tony Abbott’s campaign to ‘stop the boats’ is the fate of refugees. Largely lost in the politics of Tony Abbott’s campaign to ‘stop the boats’ is the fate of refugees. AAP/Ava Benny-Morrison

From Darfur to Cipayung: refugees are left stranded

The Abbott government has celebrated the 100th day without any asylum seeker boats reaching Australian territory. This is the result of policies that favour the protection of borders rather than of people…
Tony Abbott has declared Japan, under prime minister Shinzo Abe, as Australia’s ‘best friend in Asia’. But this might come at a cost as Abbott seeks to close a FTA with China. Tony Abbott has declared Japan, under prime minister Shinzo Abe, as Australia’s ‘best friend in Asia’. But this might come at a cost as Abbott seeks to close a FTA with China. EPA/Mast Irham

Abbott’s pursuit of Japan risks a free trade agreement with China

Prime minister Tony Abbott will be hoping the Japanese leg of his ambitious trade trip to northeast Asia can replicate the success of securing a free trade agreement (FTA) with South Korea. The close relations…
Tony Abbott has had a tumultuous first few months as prime minister. Tony Abbott has had a tumultuous first few months as prime minister. AAP/Alan Porritt

Grattan on Friday: In Conversation with Tony Abbott

Tony Abbott has been in office six months, and this week marks 20 years since he was elected to parliament. On Thursday he sat down with The Conversation in his Parliament House office to talk about settling…
Lake Judd, in Tasmania’s Southwest National Park. Lake Judd, in Tasmania’s Southwest National Park. JJ Harrison/Wikimedia Commons

Abbott’s half right: our national parks are good but not perfect

Prime Minister Tony Abbott this week told a timber industry dinner that he doesn’t think national parks should be a growth industry: “We have quite enough national parks. We have quite enough locked up…
Abbott: One rule for farmers, another for manufacturers. Abbott: One rule for farmers, another for manufacturers. Andrew Meares/AAP

Moving beyond the agriculture of entitlement

The announcement of drought relief funding for farmers by an Australian prime minister would not normally be a cause for surprise. But last week’s A$324 million drought package comes amid a concerted push…
Qantas is investing in a loss-making strategy, and there’s no easy way out. Qantas is investing in a loss-making strategy, and there’s no easy way out. Dave Hunt/AAP

Qantas can bleed now or later, but capacity war must end

Tony Abbott has thrown a curve ball at Qantas in refusing to offer up the debt guarantee it wanted, but seeking to abolish Part 3 of the Qantas Sale Act in its entirety. This opens the door to foreign…
What are the key issues the parties will campaign on in the almost-certain WA Senate re-vote? What are the key issues the parties will campaign on in the almost-certain WA Senate re-vote? AAP/Paul Miller

What issues will a WA Senate re-vote be fought on?

It appears certain that Western Australians will vote in fresh Senate elections later this year. Following the initial vote last September and the recount – when 1375 votes were unable to be located…
Closing the gap in statistical disadvantage is now the dominant way of framing the relationship between Indigenous and settler Australia, But is it the right way? Closing the gap in statistical disadvantage is now the dominant way of framing the relationship between Indigenous and settler Australia, But is it the right way? AAP/Marianna Massey

Indigenous affairs: close the gap, but open the conversation

The sixth annual Closing the Gap statement, delivered to federal parliament earlier this week, had the same message as previous years. There is some progress, some regress and more work needed to achieve…
Prime Minister Tony Abbott is betting the rapid demise of Australia’s automotive sector can be contained politically. Prime Minister Tony Abbott is betting the rapid demise of Australia’s automotive sector can be contained politically. Alan Porritt/AAP

Managed decline to rapid demise: Abbott’s car industry gamble

For the past 30 years, Australian automotive industry policies can be characterised as managed decline. Beginning in the 1980s with the Button Plan, the aim of policy was to consolidate the industry and…
Within eight months of taking office, South Korean president Park Geun-Hye embraced her predecessor’s green growth strategy and now champions the so-called Green Growth 2.0 policies. Within eight months of taking office, South Korean president Park Geun-Hye embraced her predecessor’s green growth strategy and now champions the so-called Green Growth 2.0 policies. EPA/Kim Min-Hee

Green Growth: rebooted in South Korea, booted out in Australia

Like Australia, South Korea had a change of government last year. And like Australia’s, Korea’s new government was keen to distance itself from its predecessors' legacies – particularly its “Green Growth…
Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s free market, small government leaning overlooks the real issue of social inequality. Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s free market, small government leaning overlooks the real issue of social inequality. Lukas Coch/AAP

Why Abbott can’t delete ‘society’ from his economic growth script

Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s address to the World Economic Forum in January delivered a plain, pragmatic message. The best remedy for the uneven recovery of the world economy, according to Abbott, is a…
Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane have drawn a line in the sand on industry assistance…or have they? Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane have drawn a line in the sand on industry assistance…or have they? Alan Porritt/AAP

SPC Ardmona decision is fiscal policy disguised as industry policy

Announcing the decision to refuse assistance to SPC Ardmona, Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane said: “I think it is a clear delineation of where this government believes we need to go with industry policy…
A down-to-earth bloke with a CV to make some other leaders blush, Peter Cosgrove was made to be a modern governor-general. A down-to-earth bloke with a CV to make some other leaders blush, Peter Cosgrove was made to be a modern governor-general. AAP/Dave Hunt

Peter Cosgrove, groomed by a life of service to be our GG

In racing terms, there are favourites, odds-on favourites and unbackable favourites. Then there is Peter Cosgrove. About the only person not certain over the past three months that Cosgrove would be appointed…
Tony Abbott’s small government message played well to a WEF audience. Tony Abbott’s small government message played well to a WEF audience. AAP

Abbott’s message to the world: governments should stand back

As widely anticipated, prime minister Tony Abbott’s speech to the World Economic forum (WEF) stressed the absolute centrality of the private sector as an engine of economic growth. Outlining Australia’s…
Finishing touches go on at the World Economic Forum, where Tony Abbott will outline his G20 agenda. Finishing touches go on at the World Economic Forum, where Tony Abbott will outline his G20 agenda. AAP

Davos diplomacy: Abbott sells G20 Summit to world leaders

When prime minister Tony Abbott delivers his speech outlining “Australia’s Vision for the G20” at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland on Thursday, he will have the attention of some of…
Should Australia change tack on its relationship with Indonesia and start keeping the nation at ‘arm’s length’? Should Australia change tack on its relationship with Indonesia and start keeping the nation at ‘arm’s length’? EPA/Romeo Gacad

Fatal attraction: is our relationship with Indonesia worth the trouble?

The decision by the Australian government to turn asylum seeker boats back into Indonesia’s territorial waters and its ports was always a high-risk game. It is no surprise that it has ended in a serious…
Former prime minister Paul Keating argued governments need to use their political capital to drive reform. But this is becoming increasingly difficult in a poll-driven political climate. Former prime minister Paul Keating argued governments need to use their political capital to drive reform. But this is becoming increasingly difficult in a poll-driven political climate. AAP/Paul Miller

Keating, reform and the difficult notion of ‘political capital’

Throughout Keating, a series of interviews that finished airing on the ABC earlier this month, the former prime minister makes reference to the notion of political capital in relation to the Labor government…
Business Council of Australia and now National Commission of Audit head Tony Shepherd is unlikely to make recommendations that don’t fit with the Coalition’s agenda. Business Council of Australia and now National Commission of Audit head Tony Shepherd is unlikely to make recommendations that don’t fit with the Coalition’s agenda. Nikki Short/AAP

Beware the veil of independence in government reviews

The Abbott Coalition government, like the incoming Labor government before it, has marked the beginning of its term with a raft of reviews, including the wide ranging National Commission of Audit. Given…
Tony Abbott has faced many unexpected difficulties in his first 100 days. Tony Abbott has faced many unexpected difficulties in his first 100 days. AAP/Daniel Munoz

Grattan on Friday: 100 days and the ‘adults’ still have a lot of growing up to do

It is just 100 days on Monday since the election, but the Abbott government lacks that air of excitement that power often brings. Rather, it is staggering towards Christmas, mugged by moving from rhetoric…
The school funding row left NSW premier Barry O'Farrell and prime minister Tony Abbott with fences to mend ahead of Abbott’s first COAG meeting. The school funding row left NSW premier Barry O'Farrell and prime minister Tony Abbott with fences to mend ahead of Abbott’s first COAG meeting. AAP/Paul Miller

Herding cats: Tony Abbott’s challenges for his first COAG

Personality matters in Commonwealth-state relations. A change of leader always brings with it a different approach to managing the relationship between the jurisdictions that make up the Australian federation…
What now for Holden workers? What now for Holden workers? Julian Smith/AAP

Walking away from Holden: Abbott finishes what Hewson started

“Building cars in Australia is just not sustainable.” That was GM Holden managing director Mike Devereux, announcing the closure of Holden. Ominous words for Toyota as well. Toyota responded that Holden’s…
Tony Abbott’s government has lacked the assured certainty the Coalition showed in winning office. Tony Abbott’s government has lacked the assured certainty the Coalition showed in winning office. AAP/Stefan Postles

What’s going on with the Abbott government?

For every opposition, the prospect of taking office – attaining politics’ ultimate prize, often after years of hard grind – can be relied upon to drown out the little noises of self-doubt and self-criticism…
Tony Abbott has announced his priorities for the G20 in Brisbane next year. Tony Abbott has announced his priorities for the G20 in Brisbane next year. AAP

Delivering growth but protecting economies: our G20 conundrum

With Russia handing the G20 host baton to Australia this month, and combined with our UN Security Council seat, the biggest year of Australian diplomacy begins. Prime Minister Tony Abbott had a backdrop…
Australia must develop a stable, close and mutually respectful relationship with Indonesia, its government, its leaders, and its people. Australia must develop a stable, close and mutually respectful relationship with Indonesia, its government, its leaders, and its people. EPA/Adi Weda

Our politicians have failed yet again – it’s time we fixed the mess with Indonesia

Every so often over the last 50 years, Australia’s relations with Indonesia have hit stormy waters. The present tensions over the spying scandal may not be the most serious, but they are serious enough…
What’s behind the public, media and political response in Indonesia to the revelations of the extent of Australia’s spying activities? What’s behind the public, media and political response in Indonesia to the revelations of the extent of Australia’s spying activities? AAP/Eka Nickmatulhuda

On the ground: the Indonesian response to the spying saga

Expressions of public outrage in Indonesia at allegations Australia had engaged in the phone tapping of Indonesian politicians – including president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, his wife and Cabinet members…
Tony Abbott needs to learn a thing or two about Indonesian culture if he’s to have a successful working relationship with his Indonesian counterpart. Tony Abbott needs to learn a thing or two about Indonesian culture if he’s to have a successful working relationship with his Indonesian counterpart. EPA/Made Nagi

Saving face: lessons for Abbott on working with Indonesia

There’s a widespread perception in Australia that Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s reaction to Australia’s phone tapping is all about playing domestic politics in Yudhoyono’s home country…
Should Tony Abbott follow Barack Obama’s example and apologise personally to Indonesia leaders over the spying scandal, as Obama did to Angela Merkel? Should Tony Abbott follow Barack Obama’s example and apologise personally to Indonesia leaders over the spying scandal, as Obama did to Angela Merkel? EPA/Andrew Harrer

Spying scandal: Obama, Abbott and why sorry is the hardest word to say

The contrast between Australian prime minister Tony Abbott’s self-defeating response to spying allegations with Indonesia and US president Barack Obama’s reaction to smooth its similar row with Germany…
It is sensible to keep an eye on our friends in order to manage risk. It is sensible to keep an eye on our friends in order to manage risk. Image from shutterstock.com

I spy, you spy, we all spy – but is it legal?

The specifics of whose phone was tapped and when may be new to Indonesia but the fact that Australia monitored its close friend’s activities will not be a surprise. Governments have been watching each…
For the Australian Signals Directorate – as with all organisations in the spying business – the secret of success is in keeping your success secret. For the Australian Signals Directorate – as with all organisations in the spying business – the secret of success is in keeping your success secret. AAP/Lukas Coch

Protecting secrets: inside Australia’s mysterious spy agency

Much like in the movie Casablanca, there is much huffing and shaking of heads about activities of the nation’s electronic spy agency, the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), after allegations emerged…
The Guardian and ABC’s case to publish information about Australia’s phone tapping is a defensible one. The Guardian and ABC’s case to publish information about Australia’s phone tapping is a defensible one. EPA/Adi Weda

To publish, or not to publish? The ethics of reporting spying

Were The Guardian Australia and the ABC ethically justified in publishing leaked classified material showing Australia tapped the telephones of Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, his wife…
Reports from Jakarta suggest Indonesia may be moving to review all aspects of its relationship to Australia. Reports from Jakarta suggest Indonesia may be moving to review all aspects of its relationship to Australia. EPA/Adi Weda

Australia-Indonesia spy standoff more than just ‘gestural’ politics

The revelations that Australia was spying on its “best friends” in Indonesia have rocked Indonesia-Australia relations. Indonesian foreign minister Marty Natalegawa has withdrawn the country’s ambassador…
Swapping asylum seekers for refugees is unlikely to be the panacea that the federal government hopes it will be. Swapping asylum seekers for refugees is unlikely to be the panacea that the federal government hopes it will be. AAP

Outsourcing refugee policy: the Australia-Indonesia ‘people swap’

For those of us with a long enough memory of asylum politics, discussion this week of a “people swap” deal between Indonesia and Australia harks back to earlier plans by the then-Labor government to exchange…
Australia has refused to join Canada and India in boycotting CHOGM in Sri Lanka over human rights abuses. Australia has refused to join Canada and India in boycotting CHOGM in Sri Lanka over human rights abuses. EPA

Australia’s CHOGM dilemma: addressing human rights abuses in Sri Lanka

Australian prime minister Tony Abbott announced earlier this week that he would not join his Canadian, Indian and Mauritian counterparts in boycotting the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM…
What are Australia’s legal and moral responsibilities under the relevant conventions and the law of the sea to rescue and ‘turn back’ asylum seeker boats? What are Australia’s legal and moral responsibilities under the relevant conventions and the law of the sea to rescue and ‘turn back’ asylum seeker boats? AAP

Explainer: the law of the sea and asylum seekers

Prime minister Tony Abbott said on Monday he expects Jakarta to take responsibility for the asylum seekers that Australian authorities rescue in Indonesia’s search and rescue zone. He claims this is the…
Tony Abbott was a formidable opposition leader but how effective will the Abbott-led Coalition be in government? Tony Abbott was a formidable opposition leader but how effective will the Abbott-led Coalition be in government? AAP Image/Joe Castro

Ready, aim, fire! Australia’s new parliament begins

Just over two months ago Tony Abbott led the Coalition to victory and became Australia’s 28th prime minister. When the new parliament begins today, his side will sit on the government benches for the first…
There is no better example of the debasement of Australian political discourse and process than that which has surrounded action on climate change. There is no better example of the debasement of Australian political discourse and process than that which has surrounded action on climate change. AAP/Alan Porritt

A values deficit, toxic politics, and the climate change debacle

We live in an age of unprecedented prosperity, in which the major influences have been secularism, materialism, utilitarianism, urbanisation, remoteness from nature, institutional failure (especially in…
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…
What does the future hold for multiculturalism in Australia under an Abbott government? What does the future hold for multiculturalism in Australia under an Abbott government? betta design

Does Murdoch’s multiculturalism light Abbott’s path to the future?

Rupert Murdoch’s Lowy lecture last week celebrated Australia as a multicultural and migrant society, a place where “multiculturalism is not relativism, and tolerance is not indifference” and there is “an…
Environment minister Greg Hunt and prime minister Tiny Abbott are keen to repeal the carbon tax as soon as parliament sits - but it may prove harder than they thought. Environment minister Greg Hunt and prime minister Tiny Abbott are keen to repeal the carbon tax as soon as parliament sits - but it may prove harder than they thought. AAP/Alan Porritt

Carbon tax showdown: the rocky road ahead for Abbott

The Coalition will introduce its draft bill to repeal the Clean Energy Act into parliament next week. The bill would effectively remove the current carbon tax and its planned replacement, an emissions…
Tony Abbott’s interview with the Washington Post has revived Abbott’s problem of loose lips - but this time, it’s on the international stage. Tony Abbott’s interview with the Washington Post has revived Abbott’s problem of loose lips - but this time, it’s on the international stage. AAP/Matthew Newton

Abbott’s belligerence: putting in the boot or kicking himself?

The words won’t rank with the oratorical flourishes of great leaders but I can’t remember Churchill or Roosevelt describing anybody as “wacko”. When prime minister Tony Abbott uttered this word in an interview…
The business community may try to get as much out of Tony Abbott as possible, but do they recognise the clear differences between a CEO and a prime minister? The business community may try to get as much out of Tony Abbott as possible, but do they recognise the clear differences between a CEO and a prime minister? AAP/Bianca De Marchi

Beware PM, CEOs don’t get politics

The recent demands of business leaders for prime minister Tony Abbott to immediately reform the industrial relations system, rather than wait three years, should serve as yet another reminder of why corporate…
What are the constitutional and political issues for Tony Abbott to consider around double dissolution elections? What are the constitutional and political issues for Tony Abbott to consider around double dissolution elections? AAP/Alan Porritt

Explainer: what are double dissolutions and how do they work?

Prime minister Tony Abbott has indicated (again) that he is willing to set in motion the procedures necessary to call a double dissolution election, in order to force the repeal of the carbon tax through…
Tony Abbott described Shinzo Abe’s Japan as Australia’s ‘closest friend in Asia’. But how might Abbott’s bold declaration affect our relationship in the region? Tony Abbott described Shinzo Abe’s Japan as Australia’s ‘closest friend in Asia’. But how might Abbott’s bold declaration affect our relationship in the region? AAP/Karlis Salna

Politics of the ‘closest friend’: Abbott, Japan and the Asia-Pacific

At the joint Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-East Asia summit just held in Brunei, prime minister Tony Abbott hailed Japan as Australia’s “closest friend in Asia”. Abbott invited Japanese…
Parliament provides allowances to assist members and senators carry out their duties but should it include going to the football? Parliament provides allowances to assist members and senators carry out their duties but should it include going to the football? AAP Image/David Crosling

Allowances or open entitlements? When politicians play and taxpayers pay

Federal politicians can rack up relatively large bills in going about their day-to-day duties. In the last six months of 2012, Julia Gillard had allowances totalling A$647,000 – that’s nearly three times…
Are Tony Abbott’s early ‘missteps’ on media management - which some have criticised him for - more about co-ordination than control? Are Tony Abbott’s early ‘missteps’ on media management - which some have criticised him for - more about co-ordination than control? AAP/Alan Porritt

Feeding the chooks: Abbott, Howard and media management

Is Tony Abbott really trying to gag his ministers when, under the Howard government, he and his ministerial colleagues enjoyed relative freedom to handle media interviews and issue press releases? This…
Tony Abbott has faced hard questions in recent days over his travel expenses, but does this reflect a wider integrity problem for our politicians? Tony Abbott has faced hard questions in recent days over his travel expenses, but does this reflect a wider integrity problem for our politicians? AAP/Adam Gartrell

Entitlements scandal highlights need to enhance parliamentary integrity

The recent revelations around the inappropriate use of travel entitlements by federal MPs reflect a broader problem of the lack of accountability in parliamentarians' public life. But this scandal is nothing…
Survivors of last week’s Lampedusa boat sinking, which is estimated to have left hundreds of African migrants dead. What can Australia learn from the tragedy? Survivors of last week’s Lampedusa boat sinking, which is estimated to have left hundreds of African migrants dead. What can Australia learn from the tragedy? EPA/Ettore Ferrari

The Lampedusa asylum tragedy and the lessons for Australia

The recent event of yet another boat sinking off the coast of Lampedusa in Italy resulted in the death of hundreds of migrants with still more unaccounted for. Despite the tyranny of distance, the incident…
Tony Abbott has vowed to strengthen Australia’s ties with China, including a potential free trade agreement with the growing superpower. Tony Abbott has vowed to strengthen Australia’s ties with China, including a potential free trade agreement with the growing superpower. AAP/Dan Himbrechts

Middle power meets Middle Kingdom: Abbott looks to China

Tony Abbott’s initial forays into foreign relations are exceeding expectations. True, the bar was set pretty low for many critics, but the new team is clearly intent on sending positive signals about the…
Three West Papuan activists ‘took refuge’ in Australia’s consulate in Bali on the weekend. What is the actual state of play in the troubled region? Three West Papuan activists ‘took refuge’ in Australia’s consulate in Bali on the weekend. What is the actual state of play in the troubled region? EPA/Bagus Indahono

Will Australia take a stand on West Papua?

Recent commentary has compared the situation in West Papua to genocide and drawn parallels to East Timor. There seems to be little doubt that human rights abuses have occurred over a long period of time…
The new Senate will be dominated by an expanding crossbench of minor and microparty members. The new Senate will be dominated by an expanding crossbench of minor and microparty members. AAP/Alan Porritt

The 2013 Senate contest: Australia lurches to the right

With the official count of the Senate now completed, the implications of the contest and what it says about the mindset of the Australian body politic may now proceed. The key consequences of the half-Senate…
Tony Abbott’s first foreign trip to Indonesia yielded some return, but time will tell if his ‘Jakarta focus’ is a success. Tony Abbott’s first foreign trip to Indonesia yielded some return, but time will tell if his ‘Jakarta focus’ is a success. EPA/Adi Weda

Was Tony Abbott’s Jakarta trip a success? We’ll see

Evaluating the success of Tony Abbott’s first prime ministerial visit to Indonesia depends, of course, on what you saw as its objectives. Those with high hopes – that it would mark a breakthrough in discussions…
What does the future hold for young adults under a Coalition government? What does the future hold for young adults under a Coalition government? AAP/Julian Smith

Young people, employment and the Coalition’s regional challenge

The Coalition government has begun its term in office with some controversial policy proposals related to Australia’s international engagement. These include cuts to international aid, hardline responses…
Nationalistic politicking on both sides has set the scene for prime minister Tony Abbott’s first foreign trip abroad - to Indonesia. Nationalistic politicking on both sides has set the scene for prime minister Tony Abbott’s first foreign trip abroad - to Indonesia. EPA/Adi Weda

The politics of brinksmanship: Abbott heads to Indonesia

Running foreign policy on domestic agendas is always risky business. In the lead-up to the Australian federal election, the two main political parties locked themselves into a competition over who had…
Tony Abbott is seeking to define the terms in which his government will be understood by the public. Tony Abbott is seeking to define the terms in which his government will be understood by the public. AAP/Lukas Coch

Election 2013 and defining political success

Just when you thought it was safe to forget an otherwise forgettable election, there is one person who won’t let you. Tony Abbott wants to remind you in order to continue defining both the election and…
Many commentators criticised Tony Abbott’s ‘female-lite’ frontbench last week. How might it affect his carefully managed and marketed ‘brand’ from the campaign trail? Many commentators criticised Tony Abbott’s ‘female-lite’ frontbench last week. How might it affect his carefully managed and marketed ‘brand’ from the campaign trail? AAP/Lukas Coch

Marketing political brands: passionate punters need consistent messaging

In the last week, a number of political commentators have argued that newly-minted prime minister Tony Abbott’s frontbench is decidedly low on women. There is only one woman in Cabinet and an additional…
Cars stuck in traffic at an intersection. Cars stuck in traffic at an intersection. www.shutterstock.com/e2dan

Stuck in traffic: how to get our cities and economy moving

The strength of Australia’s economy depends on how well our cities function - yet right now, it’s as if we’re driving with the handbrake on. Cities are crucial to productivity. When they work well, they…
Where will Rupert Murdoch’s influential broadsheet The Australian focus its agenda now that there has been a change of government? Where will Rupert Murdoch’s influential broadsheet The Australian focus its agenda now that there has been a change of government? AAP/Dean Lewins

Now Abbott’s in, what will The Australian do?

How does a newspaper of strong ideological preferences - such as News Corp broadsheet The Australian - respond when there is a government in office that more closely shares its ideology than did the previous…
In one of his first acts in office, prime minister Tony Abbott axed three department heads, while treasury secretary Martin Parkinson (pictured) will depart next year. In one of his first acts in office, prime minister Tony Abbott axed three department heads, while treasury secretary Martin Parkinson (pictured) will depart next year. AAP/Saeed Khan

Abbott and the public service: where now on department heads?

Prime minister Tony Abbott’s decision to sack three departmental secretaries within hours of his swearing-in earlier this week has not attracted the same shock John Howard’s decision to sack six secretaries…
The ban on live cattle exports to Indonesia caused a major rift in relations. Can new governments in both nations repair the damage? The ban on live cattle exports to Indonesia caused a major rift in relations. Can new governments in both nations repair the damage? AAP/Animals Australia

Beef, boats and elections: what’s in store for the Australia-Indonesia relationship

Somehow, the debate on Indonesia-Australia relations has got stuck on Bali, beef and boats. While there is no point pretending that either beef or boats are about to disappear as issues any time soon…
A country that is more interested in sport than in politics is a ‘happy’ one, remarked prime minister Tony Abbott after his election success. A country that is more interested in sport than in politics is a ‘happy’ one, remarked prime minister Tony Abbott after his election success. AAP/Paul Miller

The nation decides - and sport is the winner

After the gladiatorial combat of the federal election campaign, prime minister-elect Tony Abbott appeared on Sunrise to call an Olympic-style truce. Happy is the country which is more interested in sport…
Amgen has found itself at the centre of the Australian body politic. Amgen has found itself at the centre of the Australian body politic. AAP/Paul Jeffers

Amgen and Abbott: who’s that on the PM’s cycling kit?

You may have noticed our Prime Minister Tony Abbott riding around in cycling kit with the Amgen logo across his chest, back and legs. Amgen is the principal sponsor of an Australian fundraising cycling…
If we weren’t all created equally with equal upbringings, should we scrap the concept of ‘merit’ in decision-making? If we weren’t all created equally with equal upbringings, should we scrap the concept of ‘merit’ in decision-making? shutterstock

What’s wrong with merit? Why ‘equal’ treatment does not reward the most deserving

Just one woman has been appointed to new prime minister Tony Abbott’s first Cabinet of 19. As a result, online forums have been abuzz with debate about gender representation in federal politics. A number…
Tony Abbott has said he wants to focus his foreign policy objectives in ‘Jakarta, not Geneva’. But how successful will he be? Tony Abbott has said he wants to focus his foreign policy objectives in ‘Jakarta, not Geneva’. But how successful will he be? EPA/Adi Weda

All politics is domestic: the Indonesian response to the federal election

Australia’s recent federal election was – as usual – won and lost primarily on domestic policy issues. Unlike his predecessor, new prime minister Tony Abbott made no claims to great expertise in foreign…
Prime minister-elect Tony Abbott has opted for experienced hands in naming his first Cabinet. Prime minister-elect Tony Abbott has opted for experienced hands in naming his first Cabinet. AAP/Alan Porritt

Abbott’s new Cabinet: steady as she goes

Prime minister-elect Tony Abbott has announced his new Cabinet and ministerial line-up. In keeping with previous Coalition and Labor governments, there will be an inner Cabinet of senior ministers and…
Now that it is all said and done, what did we learn about Australian politics in the 2013 federal election campaign? Now that it is all said and done, what did we learn about Australian politics in the 2013 federal election campaign? AAP/Alan Porritt

Virtue and vexation: the policy vacuum in the 2013 election

I have been around for a long time and involved in some terrible campaigns, but the policy vacuum in 2013 was the worst I can recall. There was no serious debate on issues, whether simple or complex, and…
Will the vexed asylum seeker issue continue to dominate Australian politics under an Abbott government? Will the vexed asylum seeker issue continue to dominate Australian politics under an Abbott government? AAP/Mark Cairn

Where to now for asylum seeker policy under Tony Abbott?

Asylum seeker policy experienced a rush of activity in the lead-up to the election. Behind the Abbott government’s bold promise to “stop the boats” in its first term of government is a series of specific…
Both the Labor and Liberals see infrastructure as a crucial economic driver; but Chinese investment in this area has been politicised. Both the Labor and Liberals see infrastructure as a crucial economic driver; but Chinese investment in this area has been politicised. AAP

Infrastructure prime minister must face Chinese elephant in room

Tony Abbott wants to be known as the infrastructure prime minister. He could be remembered for building roads and scrapping high-speed rail. But the role of Chinese finance and technical expertise in infrastructure…
Tony Abbott has promised to be a ‘prime minister for Indigenous affairs’. But what this actually means in terms of policy remains thus far unclear. Tony Abbott has promised to be a ‘prime minister for Indigenous affairs’. But what this actually means in terms of policy remains thus far unclear. AAP/Alan Porritt

Will Tony Abbott be a ‘prime minister for Aboriginal affairs’?

Recently, Australian Indigenous policy has been characterised by an unambitious bipartisanship. After one too many dramatic and unsuccessful initiatives, there is a sense of lowered expectations. New prime…
What’s in store for the higher education sector under the new coalition government? What’s in store for the higher education sector under the new coalition government? AAP Image/Alan Porritt

What next for universities under Abbott?

As the higher education sector begins to look to life under the 44th parliament, it might pause to consider the words of prime minister-elect Tony Abbott upon claiming victory last Saturday night: “The…
It’s smart of Abbott to prioritise Australia’s relationship with Indonesia but can he leave his ‘Anglosphere’ past behind? It’s smart of Abbott to prioritise Australia’s relationship with Indonesia but can he leave his ‘Anglosphere’ past behind? EPA/Adi Weda

‘Anglosphere’ or regional friend? Abbott’s foreign policy future

Many foreign policy observers are apprehensive about the election of Tony Abbott. A key concern is that his government may be liberal in name only and that we may see a return to the sorts of policies…
How well-placed is Tony Abbott’s new government to tackle the economic issues facing Australia, both domestically and internationally? How well-placed is Tony Abbott’s new government to tackle the economic issues facing Australia, both domestically and internationally? AAP/Rob Griffith

Tony Abbott: the situational Keynesian

Tony Abbott became prime minister on Saturday by promising to lead an adult government of competence and stability after years of Labor infighting and backflips. Policy details and bankable pledges were…
The Coalition government’s attitude towards the public service is unclear beyond its promise to cut 12,000 jobs. The Coalition government’s attitude towards the public service is unclear beyond its promise to cut 12,000 jobs. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Transition to government: what now for the public service?

Commonwealth public servants will have arrived at their offices this morning feeling a mix of relief and trepidation. Relief because the disorder and uncertainty of serving a divided and besieged minority…
Wherever the leaders went on the campaign trail the media followed. How can we assess the media’s performance? Wherever the leaders went on the campaign trail the media followed. How can we assess the media’s performance? AAP/Alan Porritt

Election 2013: the role of the media

In one sense, the Australian media did a good job under difficult circumstances in this election. The difficult part was how predictable the campaign was and the increasing inevitability of the outcome…
Election 2013 reminded us that television remains the most powerful medium despite the rise of social media. Election 2013 reminded us that television remains the most powerful medium despite the rise of social media. AAP/Alan Porritt

Preferred but not popular: did live TV tell the most important truth on election day?

Tony Abbott and Kevin Rudd knew what to expect yesterday - with one exception. Both candidates were savagely heckled at polling stations. This morning Abbott is smiling about victory. He should be pondering…
We all know what’s happened, but what happens next? We all know what’s happened, but what happens next? Mitch Duncan/AAP

Election 2013 results and the future: experts respond

Australia has elected a Coalition government. So what will this mean for key policy areas? Our experts take a closer look at what’s in store for business, the economy, the environment, the National Broadband…
The numbers of yesterday’s federal election don’t make for good reading for Kevin Rudd and the ALP, with Tony Abbott and the Coalition sweeping to power. The numbers of yesterday’s federal election don’t make for good reading for Kevin Rudd and the ALP, with Tony Abbott and the Coalition sweeping to power. AAP/Dan Peled

By the numbers: winners and losers of the election

The results are in. At yesterday’s federal election, the combined Liberal-National Coalition vote was 45.3% to Labor’s 33.8% in the lower house. This was a primary vote swing to the Coalition of 1.6% and…
Everyone has views on the new prime minister, but who is the man behind the headlines? Everyone has views on the new prime minister, but who is the man behind the headlines? Dean Lewins/AAP

The Tony Abbott I know

As a public personality, our new prime minister is an involuntary paradox. On the one hand, Tony Abbott is one of the most discussed people in Australia. On the other, much of the discussion is so ill-informed…
After nearly being consigned to the dustbin of political history, Tony Abbott is now Prime Minister of Australia. After nearly being consigned to the dustbin of political history, Tony Abbott is now Prime Minister of Australia. AAP/Dean Lewins

Prime minister Abbott: the master of opposition gets his chance

Not so long ago, Tony Abbott looked washed up. In 2007, while other ministers wanted to replace John Howard as the captain of the Coalition’s sinking ship, Abbott stood resolutely by his political hero…
The Australian Coalition arrangement is set apart from coalitions elsewhere by its ongoing nature, even in opposition, and the fact that the parties go into elections with a common election platform. The Australian Coalition arrangement is set apart from coalitions elsewhere by its ongoing nature, even in opposition, and the fact that the parties go into elections with a common election platform. AAP

Minority government likely to continue after Saturday

Much has been made of the ‘unusual’ nature of the minority Labor government over the past three years and there has been a sense that Australia is better off without it; that we need a return to the stability…
Kevin Rudd follows a long line of male politicians exercising as part of their pitch to voters. What does this tell us about masculinity, the media and politics? Kevin Rudd follows a long line of male politicians exercising as part of their pitch to voters. What does this tell us about masculinity, the media and politics? AAP/Lyndon Mechielsen

We can work it out: television and the pumped-up politics of the election

Nothing summarised a bad week - indeed, a bad election campaign - for prime minister Kevin Rudd better than Tuesday’s Brisbane workout. A camera-friendly “power walk” was interrupted by insults from larrikin…
What’s on the agenda in our final pre-election podcast? What’s on the agenda in our final pre-election podcast? AAP/Alan Porritt

Election 2013 Podcast: Dennis Altman, Marilyn Lake

Welcome to the fifth of The Conversation’s Election 2013 podcasts. Each week The Conversation will be sitting down with Australia’s top political minds to discuss all things election as we gear up for…
Workers install a fibre optic cable for the government’s National Broadband Network (NBN). Workers install a fibre optic cable for the government’s National Broadband Network (NBN).

FactCheck: will the NBN take another 20 years to complete?

“At the current rate of roll-out, the National Broadband Network (NBN) won’t cover the whole country for 20 years.” – Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, National Press Club, 11 August. The above claim on the…
Bali remains a popular tourist destination for Australians. But what do we really think about Indonesia? Bali remains a popular tourist destination for Australians. But what do we really think about Indonesia? Chong Eileen

Same old stereotypes of Indonesia - and our politicians aren’t helping

Indonesia is one of Australia’s closest neighbours, but attitudes towards our southeast Asian counterparts are far from neighbourly. A recently released Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) report…
Tony Abbott has promised not to cut areas such as health, education and payments to the poor and disadvantaged, but a Commission of Audit report traditionally trumps such Liberal National Party promises. Tony Abbott has promised not to cut areas such as health, education and payments to the poor and disadvantaged, but a Commission of Audit report traditionally trumps such Liberal National Party promises. AAP

Hidden in plain sight: commission cuts and non-core promises

There has been much, and justified, criticism, of Tony Abbott’s decision to conceal the costings of his policies until two days before the election, when the electronic media blackout will be in place…
Recent reports reveal that the cost of environmental damage far outweighs the cost of business model restructuring. Recent reports reveal that the cost of environmental damage far outweighs the cost of business model restructuring. Image from www.shutterstock.com

Dollar signs of the times: how our politicians are costing the Earth

One of the most depressing and puzzling features of the current election campaign is the lack of emphasis on the costs that environmental risks pose to industry and business. Australian politicians appear…
Both Tony Abbott and Kevin Rudd have been busy visiting manufacturing facilities during the election campaign. However neither is promising inspiring economic policy. Both Tony Abbott and Kevin Rudd have been busy visiting manufacturing facilities during the election campaign. However neither is promising inspiring economic policy. AAP/Julian Smith

Election 2013 Essays: It’s the economy, stupid

Election 2013 Essays: As the federal election campaign draws to a close, The Conversation asked eminent thinkers to reflect on the state of the nation and the challenges Australia – and whichever party…
Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott will both appear on ABC TV show Kitchen Cabinet in the final week of the campaign. But who is more advantaged by the reality TV and the politics of cooking? Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott will both appear on ABC TV show Kitchen Cabinet in the final week of the campaign. But who is more advantaged by the reality TV and the politics of cooking? AAP/ABC

Kevin’s Kitchen Nightmare: Rudd, Abbott and the politics of cooking

The penultimate act in this year’s election drama will be … a cook-off. This campaign has largely steered away from “entertaining politics”, but at the last hurdle, Messrs Rudd and Abbott have fallen for…
Whoever wins the federal election on Saturday will also be able to serve as president of the UN Security Council during Australia’s month-long stint. Whoever wins the federal election on Saturday will also be able to serve as president of the UN Security Council during Australia’s month-long stint. EPA/Peter Foley

This Saturday, Australians will finally elect a president

Australia is now President of the United Nations Security Council. Throughout September, Australia will set the council’s agenda and chair its meetings. But what will this Saturday’s federal election result…
Prime minister Kevin Rudd has tried to use social media to his advantage during the election campaign - but it has also been used against him, too. How powerful is it? Prime minister Kevin Rudd has tried to use social media to his advantage during the election campaign - but it has also been used against him, too. How powerful is it? @KRuddMP

Can social media swing votes in this election campaign?

As journalism professor David Maguire noted at the start of this campaign, prime minister Kevin Rudd has had such limited time in which to develop a social media strategy that he has “parachuted” in some…
Smile, it’s time for our fourth election podcast - a special edition straight from Queensland. Smile, it’s time for our fourth election podcast - a special edition straight from Queensland. AAP/Lukas Coch

Election 2013 Podcast: Tracey Arklay, John Harrison

Welcome to the fourth of The Conversation’s Election 2013 podcasts. Each week The Conversation will be sitting down with Australia’s top political minds to discuss all things election as we gear up for…
It wasn’t Rudd or Abbott who won the final televised debate of the election campaign - it was the ‘old media’ form of television, proving its power. It wasn’t Rudd or Abbott who won the final televised debate of the election campaign - it was the ‘old media’ form of television, proving its power. AAP/Alan Porritt

People’s forum: the winner is … television

I’ve written about Ian: the ordinary bloke who stole the show at the final people’s forum by flustering Tony Abbott and Kevin Rudd, and enraging the watching audience all at the same time. At face value…
Research on work and family policies support an approach that responds to the intensive demands of early childhood, as well as birth. Research on work and family policies support an approach that responds to the intensive demands of early childhood, as well as birth. Image from www.shutterstock.com

A family affair - good policy is more than paid parental leave

When the Labor government introduced a national paid parental leave (PPL) scheme on 1 January, 2011, it was late to the international party. The International Labour Organisation had been recommending…
Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott have faced off in a televised debate for the third and final time this election campaign. Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott have faced off in a televised debate for the third and final time this election campaign. AAP/Lukas Coch

Rooty Hill people’s forum: experts respond

Prime minister Kevin Rudd and opposition leader Tony Abbott faced off tonight for the third time in the 2013 election campaign at the Rooty Hill RSL Club in Sydney’s western suburbs. In the town hall-style…
Does Labor’s most recent attack ad pass the truth test? Does Labor’s most recent attack ad pass the truth test? Labor Party

FactCheck: Labor’s ‘If Abbott wins, you lose’ attack ad

Election FactCheck is checking key claims in political advertisements. Here we look at the “If Tony Abbott Wins, You Lose” ad from Labor. Families will lose the Schoolkids Bonus The Coalition has made…
The Coalition’s has proposed to return to temporary protection visas to clear the backlog of asylum seekers awaiting processing in Australia. The Coalition’s has proposed to return to temporary protection visas to clear the backlog of asylum seekers awaiting processing in Australia. AAP/Steve Lillebuen

Back to the future on temporary protection visas

For me, the TPV is a prison. Our life is without hope, or purpose. The simplest thing that a person wants in his life is hope. Without hope, life is meaningless. - Iraqi temporary protection visa holder…
A still from an ALP advertisement. Which party is spending more to get the message across? A still from an ALP advertisement. Which party is spending more to get the message across?

FactCheck: does Labor massively outspend the Coalition during election campaigns?

“In every recent election, state and federal, the Labor Party has massively outspent the Coalition and this election is going to be no exception.” - Opposition leader Tony Abbott, press conference, 21…
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott during a visit to St Vincents Hospital in Sydney, on the day the Coalition released its health policy. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott during a visit to St Vincents Hospital in Sydney, on the day the Coalition released its health policy. Alan Porritt/AAP

Coalition health policy is all barbs and no risks

The Coalition’s Policy to Support Australia’s Health System is a cautious document, despite shadow health minister Peter Dutton’s promise of a “cracker of a health policy”. Tony Abbott set the scene at…
Pass the mic Kevin, it’s time for our special Sydney podcast. Pass the mic Kevin, it’s time for our special Sydney podcast. AAP/Alan Porritt

Election 2013 Podcast: Mark Rolfe, Roy Green

Welcome to the third of The Conversation’s Election 2013 podcasts. Each week The Conversation will be sitting down with Australia’s top political minds to discuss all things election as we gear up for…
Tony Abbott may have subconsciously revived the gender debate in Australian politics when he asked if Kevin Rudd ever ‘shuts up’ in last night’s debate. Tony Abbott may have subconsciously revived the gender debate in Australian politics when he asked if Kevin Rudd ever ‘shuts up’ in last night’s debate. AAP/Alan Porritt

Don’t these guys ever shut up? How Tony Abbott reignited the gender debate without realising it

Opposition leader Tony Abbott seems to have done the job. Some judges reckon the Oxford boxing blue endured nothing worse than a split decision points loss. Others credit him with delivering a “knockout…
We could have better leaders' debates in Australia if reforms were agreed to by both sides. We could have better leaders' debates in Australia if reforms were agreed to by both sides. AAP/Lukas Coch

Australia deserves better leaders' debates - and here’s how we can do it

By accident more than design, it seems that Australia - like the United States and the United Kingdom - will have three prime ministerial debates prior to the election. At the end of last night’s debate…
Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott have faced off in a second debate - this time, a ‘people’s forum’ in front of 100 undecided voters. Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott have faced off in a second debate - this time, a ‘people’s forum’ in front of 100 undecided voters. AAP/Lukas Coch

Rudd vs Abbott people’s forum: experts respond

Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott have met in a “town hall” style leaders' debate at the Broncos Leagues Club in Brisbane. Abbott and Rudd took questions from an audience of 100 undecided voters on issues from…
Tony Abbott has promised a new way forward for federal-state relations if the Coalition wins government. But will he find the federal lever of power too tempting not to pull? Tony Abbott has promised a new way forward for federal-state relations if the Coalition wins government. But will he find the federal lever of power too tempting not to pull? AAP/Alan Porritt

Federal-state reform: is Abbott offering the real deal?

Opposition leader Tony Abbott announced on the weekend that a government he leads would adopt a new approach to relations between the Commonwealth and the states. He has promised to meet with the state…
Tony Abbott hopes his paid parental leave policy will lead to a baby boom. Is he right? Tony Abbott hopes his paid parental leave policy will lead to a baby boom. Is he right? AAP/David Crosling

Abbott shouldn’t get his hopes up about a parental leave-induced baby boom

Opposition leader Tony Abbott has said he hopes the recently announced Coalition paid parental leave (PPL) scheme will lead to a baby boom. Such hopes are consistent with his earlier expression of support…
Neither party should lose sight of Indigenous issues ahead of the federal election. Neither party should lose sight of Indigenous issues ahead of the federal election. AAP

Explainer: Indigenous policy and the 2013 federal election

With the federal election in our sights, we are reminded of the long journey ahead in addressing past wrongs and present challenges for Australia’s Indigenous peoples. Historically, the similarities outweigh…
The act of kissing a baby is a key plank of what campaign strategists and commentators consider to be ‘retail politics’. The act of kissing a baby is a key plank of what campaign strategists and commentators consider to be ‘retail politics’. AAP/Alan Porritt

Explainer: what is retail politics?

Shaking hands. Kissing babies. Throwing snags on the barbie, or wandering through a suburban shopping centre. These are the familiar scenes of “retail politics”, a campaign style in which candidates sell…
What do the various responses to Tony Abbott’s ‘sex appeal’ comment say about the role of gender in politics? What do the various responses to Tony Abbott’s ‘sex appeal’ comment say about the role of gender in politics? AAP/Alan Porritt

She’s got it: responses to Tony Abbott’s ‘sex appeal’ comments

Since opposition leader Tony Abbott’s self-described “daggy dad” comments about Liberal candidate Fiona Scott’s sex appeal, gender issues have re-emerged in Australian politics. Labor frontbenchers claim…
Tony Abbott’s campaign ‘gaffes’ are on the agenda in the second of our election podcasts. Tony Abbott’s campaign ‘gaffes’ are on the agenda in the second of our election podcasts. AAP/Alan Porritt

Election 2013 Podcast: Jill Singer, Geoffrey Robinson

Welcome to the second of The Conversation’s Election 2013 podcasts. Each week The Conversation will be sitting down with Australia’s top political minds to discuss all things election as we gear up for…
From the Liberals' perspective, preferencing against the Greens is a highly practical and sensible tactic. From the Liberals' perspective, preferencing against the Greens is a highly practical and sensible tactic. AAP/Alan Porritt

The power of Liberal preferences: how will it impact on the Greens?

Today’s announcement by the Liberal Party that they will preference against the Greens at this year’s federal election should hardly come as a surprise. There has been endless speculation that the Liberals…
The first televised leaders' debate between Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott of the election campaign focused predominantly on economic issues. The first televised leaders' debate between Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott of the election campaign focused predominantly on economic issues. AAP/Alan Porritt

Leaders' debate: experts respond

Prime minister Kevin Rudd and opposition leader Tony Abbott have faced off in the first televised leaders' debate of the 2013 election campaign. In a debate largely framed by the economic issues, Rudd…
Kevin Rudd with a chart showing our net debt per capita. Kevin Rudd with a chart showing our net debt per capita.

FactCheck: is our debt and deficit going the way of the disasters in Europe?

“Mr Rudd can stand up and show us his chart and demonstrate that by comparison with some other countries, Australia’s debt and deficit position is not so bad. But it’s not what we’ve done, it’s where we’ve…
The election campaign for Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott has begun. Tune into our weekly podcasts for the best analysis of the week’s events. The election campaign for Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott has begun. Tune into our weekly podcasts for the best analysis of the week’s events.

Election 2013 Podcast: Stephanie Brookes, Brian Galligan

Welcome to the first of The Conversation’s Election 2013 podcasts. Each week The Conversation will be sitting down with Australia’s top political minds to discuss all things election as we gear up for…
The last few years in Australian politics have seen the rise of a new definition of ‘lying’. The last few years in Australian politics have seen the rise of a new definition of ‘lying’. AAP/Lukas Coch

Redefining the lie: politics and porkies

Lie (v.) (1) To make a politically unpopular statement; (2) [retrospectively applied] To make a statement which appears inconsistent with a more recent statement, indicating that its maker has changed…
Kevin Rudd may be king of the kids, but how does his Better Schools policy compare with the original Gonski review of schools funding? Kevin Rudd may be king of the kids, but how does his Better Schools policy compare with the original Gonski review of schools funding? AAP/James Elby

Gonski watered down: how does the current policy compare?

It’s been a very long road for those wanting school funding reform. But it looks as though now the government version of the Gonski review is here to stay. Five states and territories are now on board…
Kevin Rudd is fighting another election. Just like the other elections, this is the most important since the last one. Kevin Rudd is fighting another election. Just like the other elections, this is the most important since the last one. AAP/Alan Porritt

Election 2013: the campaign that never ended

It’s an exquisitely portentous cliché, the one that is always trotted out at each Australian election: this is the most important election in a generation, or since World War Two, or the advent of television…
Opposition leader Tony Abbott and immigration spokesman Scott Morrison hope Australian voters prefer their policy. Opposition leader Tony Abbott and immigration spokesman Scott Morrison hope Australian voters prefer their policy. AAP/Dan Peled

Tough guys: Operation Sovereign Borders vs the PNG Solution

Just when you thought being “tough on borders” couldn’t get any more serious, along comes the Coalition’s Operation Sovereign Borders. It’s got all the right elements of a plan: it’s an operation (with…
How long does it take to get a mine approved in Australia? How long does it take to get a mine approved in Australia? APH

FactCheck: does it take three years to get approval for a mine?

“Just to get the regulatory approvals [to start a mine] takes more than three years. Six years ago it took less than 12 months… Australian investors are fleeing this country to invest in more stable countries…
Just how much co-operation can Tony Abbott expect from Indonesia leaders on his plan to turn back asylum seeker boats? Just how much co-operation can Tony Abbott expect from Indonesia leaders on his plan to turn back asylum seeker boats? EPA/Adi Weda

Does Indonesia care about turning back the boats?

In the coming days, prime minister Kevin Rudd will visit Indonesia to discuss asylum seeker policy with Indonesian officials, including Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Rudd’s visit will…
Tony Abbott has a history of supporting medical research since his time as health minister under John Howard. Tony Abbott has a history of supporting medical research since his time as health minister under John Howard. Paul Miller/AAP

Coalition policy aims to protect and streamline medical research

The Coalition’s Policy to Protect and Streamline Health and Medical Research Funding is one of the first documents off the blocks this election. Short and sweet, it is designed to appeal to medical researchers…
Now that the Labor leadership issue has been resolved once and for all, the attention will soon turn to the opposition’s attempts to win government at the election. Now that the Labor leadership issue has been resolved once and for all, the attention will soon turn to the opposition’s attempts to win government at the election. AAP/Alan Porritt

Back to the opposition: bring on the policies

With such unprecedented turmoil inside the Labor Party over leadership it is not surprising that we have all forgotten about the opposition. You know, the government-in-waiting, the other mob, the Coalition…
Buying power doesn’t always stack up as the best measurement for who we are and how far we’ve come. Buying power doesn’t always stack up as the best measurement for who we are and how far we’ve come. Shutterstock/ MaleWitch

More pie in the sky - economic progress no slice of life

In the verbal volley between Gillard and Abbott, Swan and Hockey, there is a conversation that we are not hearing. It bubbles below the consciousness of mainstream Australia, a conversation that is old…
If Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott continue to lead their parties at the upcoming federal election, we should see a focus on policy, not personality politics. If Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott continue to lead their parties at the upcoming federal election, we should see a focus on policy, not personality politics. AAP/Alan Porritt

Rudd, Gillard or Abbott … do leaders really matter in Australian election campaigns?

Leadership speculation grips Canberra again. With opinion polls pointing to a landslide Coalition victory in September, there are reports that Labor MPs may look to oust prime minister Julia Gillard in…
Tony Abbott’s credibility has taken a blow this week, after going back on the electoral funding legislation. Tony Abbott’s credibility has taken a blow this week, after going back on the electoral funding legislation. AAP/Lukas Coch

Grattan on Friday: Could John Faulkner get the last laugh?

It was an extraordinary moment. Tony Abbott, overcome with emotion, as he paid a tribute to Martin Ferguson, after Labor’s former resources minister announced he would leave parliament at the election…
Smaller piece of the pie: low income workers will suffer under a Coalition pledge to discontinue a superannuation top-up scheme directed at those earning less than $37,000 a year. Smaller piece of the pie: low income workers will suffer under a Coalition pledge to discontinue a superannuation top-up scheme directed at those earning less than $37,000 a year.

Abbott is not playing fair – Removing super contribution will hurt working poor

Opposition leader Tony Abbott’s budget reply pledge to discontinue the Low Income Earners Superannuation Contribution (LISC) will hit the retirement savings of thousands of low-paid Australian workers…
Tony Abbott’s budget reply was a considered economic strategy amid fiscally challenging times for Australia. Tony Abbott’s budget reply was a considered economic strategy amid fiscally challenging times for Australia.

Strong rhetoric underpins Abbott’s budget strategy

In last night’s budget reply, Tony Abbott crowed he will “put the house back in order” and that the “budget will be in better hands under a Coalition government than under Labor”. It was a very measured…
In his budget reply speech, Tony Abbott made the unpredicted announcement that he would maintain carbon tax compensation but still abolish the tax. In his budget reply speech, Tony Abbott made the unpredicted announcement that he would maintain carbon tax compensation but still abolish the tax. AAP/Alan Porritt

Abbott’s balancing act: keeping the compensation while axing the carbon tax

In his federal budget reply speech, opposition leader Tony Abbott announced that a putative coalition government would maintain the revised tax-free threshold and other associated carbon tax compensation…
Opposition leader Tony Abbott plans to move a motion of no confidence in the government - but he faces constitutional and conventional hurdles in his attempts to hold an early election. Opposition leader Tony Abbott plans to move a motion of no confidence in the government - but he faces constitutional and conventional hurdles in his attempts to hold an early election. AAP/Lukas Coch

Would a no confidence vote in Julia Gillard create even more confusion in Canberra?

Opposition leader Tony Abbott has confirmed he plans to move a motion of no confidence against Julia Gillard’s government in the next two parliamentary sitting weeks. But in the event a no confidence motion…
Tony Abbott’s industrial relations policy launch attempts to neutralise Labor’s advantage and bed down fears of a resurgence of WorkChoices. Tony Abbott’s industrial relations policy launch attempts to neutralise Labor’s advantage and bed down fears of a resurgence of WorkChoices.

The end of the IR wars? Coalition moves to neutralise Labor

Industrial relations is the one area of public policy that traditionally marks a major fault line between the Coalition parties and Labor. It is also one area of policy where neither side finds it easy…
Opposition leader Tony Abbott at the launch of his politically cautious industrial relations policy today in Sydney. Opposition leader Tony Abbott at the launch of his politically cautious industrial relations policy today in Sydney. AAP/Paul Miller

Abbott announces soft touch workplace policy

Unions' power would be curbed under an Abbott government, with more restrictions put on their right of entry to workplaces and a time limit imposed for concluding “greenfield agreements” for new projects…
Opposition leader Tony Abbott is under pressure to drop his signature paid parental leave scheme ahead of this year’s federal election. Opposition leader Tony Abbott is under pressure to drop his signature paid parental leave scheme ahead of this year’s federal election. AAP/Dave Hunt

Are feminists opposing Abbott’s paid parental leave scheme on personality grounds only?

There is an odd consensus emerging between conservative Liberals opposed to their own leader’s paid parental leave scheme and defenders of the Gillard government’s version of the same policy. Into the…
Liberal moderate Mal Washer has called on Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey to explain their commitment to the paid parental leave scheme. Liberal moderate Mal Washer has called on Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey to explain their commitment to the paid parental leave scheme. AAP/Alan Porritt

Prominent Liberal calls on Abbott to front party room on paid parental leave

The row over Tony Abbott’s controversial paid parental leave scheme has widened with prominent Liberal moderate Mal Washer calling on the opposition leader and shadow treasurer to explain to the party…
Will free-marketeers like the IPA be disappointed by an Abbott government? Will free-marketeers like the IPA be disappointed by an Abbott government? AAP/Lukas Coch

A big fat yes? Or will Tony Abbott leave the IPA crying at the altar?

In August 2012 the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), which bills itself as “Australia’s leading free market think tank,” urged opposition leader Tony Abbott to “be like Gough” in the IPA Review, proposing…
Governor-General Quentin Bryce’s term ends after the election. Is it in the purview of the Gillard government to announce her replacement? Governor-General Quentin Bryce’s term ends after the election. Is it in the purview of the Gillard government to announce her replacement? AAP/Lukas Coch

Taking care of the caretaker conventions

Could the Gillard government appoint a successor to the Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, to take up office in March 2014 when Bryce’s appointment expires? The press has reported that opposition leader…
Labor has traditionally had a strong support among female voters, but this could be set to change in 2013. Labor has traditionally had a strong support among female voters, but this could be set to change in 2013. AAP/Lukas Coch

Male and female voters: will there be a ‘gender gap’ in 2013?

A “gender dimension” now envelopes national politics unlike anything we have observed in the past. Julia Gillard’s popular but arguably unfair accusation that opposition leader Tony Abbott is a misogynist…
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s may want an election now, but claiming that is for ‘democracy’ reasons is misleading. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s may want an election now, but claiming that is for ‘democracy’ reasons is misleading. AAP/Lukas Coch

Political expediency, not democracy, behind Abbott’s election calls

Calls for general elections are often made by political parties when things are going well for them. That’s no secret. True to form, opposition leader Tony Abbott has made several appeals to prime minister…
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…
The election is Tony Abbott’s to lose. But will weakness with many female voters cost him and will his record come to haunt him on issues like abortion? The election is Tony Abbott’s to lose. But will weakness with many female voters cost him and will his record come to haunt him on issues like abortion? AAP/Lukas Coch

Re-inventing Tony: why Abbott’s attempt to woo women doesn’t bear scrutiny

Tony Abbott is trying to improve his image with many women. But as I found out when I met him recently, no makeover can erase his track record of public statements and actions, especially on issues of…
The Coalition looks set to only tinker around the edges of higher education policy. The Coalition looks set to only tinker around the edges of higher education policy. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Decoding Tony Abbott’s plans for universities

What should universities expect from a Coalition government if Tony Abbott wins the September election? In his address to the Universities Australia conference in Canberra, the signals were fairly reassuring…
Tony Abbott has been quiet on the subject of federalism recently. Tony Abbott has been quiet on the subject of federalism recently. AAP/Alan Porritt

Grattan on Friday: Abbott, a centralist at heart

Suddenly, everyone seems to be unloading about the state of federal-state relations and the problems of the Council of Australian Governments. COAG, where the prime minister, premiers and chief ministers…
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…
The prime minister has given the electorate seven and half months to tell her what they want. The prime minister has given the electorate seven and half months to tell her what they want. AAP/Alan Porrit

Community has seven months to put inequality back on the agenda

We have 226 days until the election, and are hearing lots of pious statements about having time for some serious policy debate. But we should use this time to move the policy debates well beyond what the…
When former leaders take the public stage, nostalgia hits for voters. When former leaders take the public stage, nostalgia hits for voters. ABCTV

A return to Rudd and Turnbull won’t raise the level of debate

Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull’s appearances on Q&A last night were always going to make a splash. High-profile media appearances by Rudd and Turnbull inevitably prompt speculation among the media…
Maxine McKew arrives to vote in the 2010 federal election. Maxine McKew arrives to vote in the 2010 federal election. AAP/Tracey Nearmy

Rudd as ‘swift and bold in his vision as Whitlam’ says McKew

The Rudd government came to power in 2007 with the reforming zeal of Gough Whitlam’s team more than three decades before, but was ultimately betrayed by a self-serving and brutal ALP machine according…
The notion that Abbott knows better than to attack abortion ignores his attempts to do so through Medicare. The notion that Abbott knows better than to attack abortion ignores his attempts to do so through Medicare. AAP/Lukas Coch

Let’s be clear on Tony Abbott’s attacks on abortion

As the dust from the allegations of sexism settles over the parliament, it’s time to clarify, once and for all, Tony Abbott’s actions on abortion. In his recent Quarterly Essay and in numerous interviews…
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…
Gillard gave a flawless performance. Gillard gave a flawless performance. AAP/Lukas Coch

Gillard’s misogyny speech looks even better than it reads

As the fallout from Julia Gillard’s speech on Tuesday afternoon dies down, I find myself watching the footage again and again. While her words were compelling, the sting in the Prime Minister’s performance…
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…
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…
The Coalition has ruled out increasing GST, despite calls from former Prime Minister John Howard for GST to apply to food. But could a policy change be in the wings? The Coalition has ruled out increasing GST, despite calls from former Prime Minister John Howard for GST to apply to food. But could a policy change be in the wings? AAP

Coalition must come clean on plans for GST

There is almost unanimous agreement among mainstream economists, tax experts, Treasury, business and even politicians (albeit very quietly) that the Goods and Services Tax will have to be increased and…
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…
BHP has blamed capital costs and market conditions for its decision to delay expansion of the Olympic Dam project. BHP has blamed capital costs and market conditions for its decision to delay expansion of the Olympic Dam project. AAP Image/BHP

Olympic Dam delay is not the end of the world for South Australia

The prospect of a four kilometre long and one kilometre deep open pit mine captures the imagination. Think about a chasm as deep as Mount Everest is high. It was going to take years to remove the overburden…
Is Tony Abbott’s blokey personality at risk of costing him votes among women? Is Tony Abbott’s blokey personality at risk of costing him votes among women? AAP

Does Tony Abbott have a problem with women? Labor certainly hopes to give him one

The Labor government appears to have a spring in its step. After months of poor polls and difficulty passing legislation, things now seem to be going Labor’s way. In recent weeks, the government has been…
Prime Minister Julia Gillard meets with the Chief of the Defence Force General David Hurley in Canberra. Prime Minister Julia Gillard meets with the Chief of the Defence Force General David Hurley in Canberra. AAP/Alan Porritt

The sad politics of the Houston Report on asylum seekers

Greeting the findings of the Houston expert panel on asylum seekers, The Australian front page exclaimed “At last, people put before politics”. This is, of course, ridiculous. The Malaysian solution would…
Tony Abbott finds himself caught between competing interests on his foreign investment policy. Tony Abbott finds himself caught between competing interests on his foreign investment policy. AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

Foreign investment debate re-opens old divides within the Coalition

Foreign investment, like any other policy, is a complex juggling act. A balance between welcoming foreign investment – without which Australia cannot survive – and protecting Australian interests in not…
Was Tony Abbott’s speech to the IPA a preview of the kind of government he and shadow Attorney General George Brandis will operate? Was Tony Abbott’s speech to the IPA a preview of the kind of government he and shadow Attorney General George Brandis will operate? AAP/Mick Tsivakis

Licensing hate: the possible consequences of Abbott’s racial vilification changes

As politics heightens in the decreasing count down to the 2013 Federal election, the opposition is laying its cards on the table. Always on the cards since the Institute for Public Affairs, a right-wing…
Tony Abbott has taken aim at Chinese investment that comes with government connections, arguing that such investment is not in Australia’s national interest. Tony Abbott has taken aim at Chinese investment that comes with government connections, arguing that such investment is not in Australia’s national interest. AAP

Dear Tony Abbott: block Chinese investment at your own risk

Opposition leader Tony Abbott made headlines recently when during a visit to China, he declared that “it would rarely be in Australia’s national interest to allow a foreign government or its agencies to…
Tony Abbott is seeking credibility on foreign policy issues, but his recent rhetoric on China has done him few favours. Tony Abbott is seeking credibility on foreign policy issues, but his recent rhetoric on China has done him few favours. AAP

Abbott’s stance on China needs to evolve with the times

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s recent overseas trip to help burnish his international credentials has revealed more of the potential direction of the Coalition’s foreign policy. Following his visit to…
Tony Abbott has pledged to repeal the carbon tax, but it may be more difficult than he thinks. Tony Abbott has pledged to repeal the carbon tax, but it may be more difficult than he thinks. AAP/David Crosling

Tony Abbott cannot escape the international climate game

What’s in a name? Well, like “Montague” and “Capulet” in Shakespeare’s play, names matter quite a lot in the tribal world of Australian climate politics. The notion of a “carbon tax” has struck a raw nerve…
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…
The coalition needs to tread more lightly when it comes to Indonesia. The coalition needs to tread more lightly when it comes to Indonesia. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Attention Tony Abbott: Indonesia wants collaboration, not confrontation

In his budget reply speech last week, opposition leader Tony Abbott said Indonesia was to be a “vital partner in Australia’s future”. He’s right, and for now, at the government-to-government level, Australia-Indonesia…
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…
Try telling sacked Toyota workers we live in a classless society. Try telling sacked Toyota workers we live in a classless society. AAP/Julian Smith

Class warfare in Australia? We should be so lucky

The idea that Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan have launched a “class war” in Australia through last week’s federal budget is a huge joke. I don’t believe The Australian’s editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell even…
Tony Abbot’s budget reply speech was rife with contradictions. Tony Abbot’s budget reply speech was rife with contradictions. AAP/Alan Porritt

Ghosts of ideologies past hover around Abbott’s budget reply

To quote American baseball manager Yogi Berra, it was “déjà vu all over again” last night when I listened to Tony Abbott’s budget reply. I was back in the 1970s but without the big-collared shirts and…
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…
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…
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…
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…
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…
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…
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…
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…
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…
Tony Abbott learnt the hard way that retro chic doesn’t extend to a 1970s sense of humour. Tony Abbott learnt the hard way that retro chic doesn’t extend to a 1970s sense of humour. AAP

The problem with jokes about Irishmen

Q: How do you confuse an Irishman? A: Put him in front of two shovels and ask him to take his pick Q: How do you get an Irishman on the roof? A: Tell him drinks are on the house. Q: Why did the Irishman…
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…
Tony Abbott says the carbon tax is “socialism by stealth”; but is it just “what’s in it for me” politics? Tony Abbott says the carbon tax is “socialism by stealth”; but is it just “what’s in it for me” politics? AAP

The ‘what’s in it for me?’ carbon tax debate that’s unlikely to create change

Opposition leader Tony Abbott claims the proposed carbon policy is “socialism by stealth”? I wish! I suspect we do need some emphasis on the common good and public benefits to counter the attempts to sell…
Peter Reith votes in the Liberal Federal presidency election. Peter Reith votes in the Liberal Federal presidency election. AAP

Peter Reith, Tony Abbott and the industrial relations maze

“Julia Gillard’s retrograde changes to workplace relations law are slowly burning our economy and in time the voices of embattled business will be heard across the country.” – Peter Reith, The Age, June…
A Melbourne picket line during the 1998 waterfront dispute. A Melbourne picket line during the 1998 waterfront dispute. Takver's Soapbox/Wikipedia

Peter Reith: ‘true believer’ or party pooper

After his failed attempt at winning the Liberal Party presidency, Peter Reith has become a liberated soul. As president he would be expected to avoid controversy, especially on policy issues. But now…
Few in the Liberal party are keen to see a potentially damaging return to the workplace debate. Few in the Liberal party are keen to see a potentially damaging return to the workplace debate. AAP

Party turmoil takes Reith off old Liberal wounds

With political debate dominated by carbon and mining taxes, the recent stirrings by Peter Reith about industrial relations may have come as a bit of a surprise – out of left field, if you will excuse the…
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…
Family not forgotten: Tony Abbott is congratulated following his budget reply. Family not forgotten: Tony Abbott is congratulated following his budget reply.

Middle class welfare: terrific politics, but terrible economics

“We are animated by but one desire — to do that which is best for Australia, and fair, just, and equitable to all the states, and to all classes and sections of our community." This quote comes from the…
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…

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