Why Same Sex Marriage Is Now an Election Issue

As promised, Tony Abbott put the proposal of same sex marriage to the party room. But not his own party room where in all probability the motion would have been lost anyway.  But quite cleverly or perhaps fearfully, the PM put it to the joint LNP party room. In doing that, he knew the same sex marriage would be lost as most National party members and senators are against the idea.  Perhaps in gratitude, Warren Truss could stand aside and nominate Tony Abbott as the new leader.

And then once that was concluded, Abbott equivocated. He had stated that parliament should decide the issue, after the Irish referendum. Now after circumventing his party as well, he suggested a referendum or plebiscite.  A referendum would be unnecessary and a plebiscite could be easily ignored.

But with a private member’s bill on same-sex marriage shortly to be introduced into the House of Representatives and perhaps the revival of a Senate bill, Abbott’s manoeuvres have only bought him time. He believes that his tactics have ensured that the issue will be put aside perhaps until the next election or beyond.

But strategically, he has failed to see the long-term effect of his actions. He has offended senior members of his cabinet who are publicly disagreeing with his actions. Now he may threaten them with dismissal if they cross the floor and vote for the legislation but that will only create more and more publicity and a greater backlash. That could create a revolt within his party and another leadership spill. But that can be addressed tactically as he has done in the past.

But strategically, Abbott has failed to realise the following. His divisive actions with regard to same sex marriage has created an election issue.

In non-rainbow colours, the choice is clear…

A vote for the National party and the other conservative party (now now longer a Liberal party) will ensure there will be no same-sex marriage.




Reducing Penalty Rates works against the Laws of Supply and Demand

Jenna Price in her article on penalty rates nails it with those fatal words… price signal.

Penalty rates are a price signal. That signal signifies a scarce supply of labour. That scarcity occurs as not everyone is able or willing, regardless of what the Prime Minister says, of working weekends, public holidays, night-shift or 24 by 7.

By the laws of supply and demand, the only way a scarce supply will satisfy an increased demand is through paying a higher price. Only increased prices will be the incentive a scarce labour force require to satisfy the greater demand of working out-of-hours.

Which means by the laws of supply and demand, that paying people less to work out-of-hours will lead to… less people working out of hours!

One would think that the business people supporting cutting penalty rates would actually understand the laws of supply and demand. Apparently not.

The Government of Gobbledygook

After the week in politics, I realised how much I miss Yes Minister (and Yes Prime Minister too!). I especially miss Sir Humphrey Appleby.

Ostensibly Appleby often spoke in riddles,paradoxes and contradictions. His self articulation was comprised of and constituted obfuscation and circumlocution both written and verbal.1249432_54026452

Yet given the fullness of time, as he would say, it was possible to make sense of what he said. Certainly he made more sense than at times nearly indecipherable academic writing I encountered as a student and the business speak I encountered as a technical writer and trainer. Again in the extended fullness of time, I managed to make sense of both.

Appleby was a master of rhetoric. He knew his content (too well), his purpose (power) and his audience. As a result he often prevailed over Jim Hacker.

Unlike the Government. Here are only a few examples.

We’ve had Matthias Corman say there will be no cuts to the ABC despite Mark Scott’s view. We’ve had Malcolm Turnbull carefully craft words to defend Tony Abbott’s pre-election promises. Without too much effort I could find many more.

Despite what Andrew Bolt says, the Government lacks purpose, has lost connection with its audience and cannot express even simple let alone complex content. As Michelle Grattan points out in this article and also Katherine Murphy‘s comments regarding the ABC and climate change, the government has become inarticulate and incoherent.

In other words, not to put too fine a point on it, we have a government of gobbledygook.












Earn or Learn : The Government’s Misunderstood Purpose of Education

There has been much upset and anger at the Government instigated changes to education:

  • University fee increases.
  • University debt interest increase.
  • University HECS proportion increase.
  • Commercialisation of universities.

The proponents chant earn or learn, competition will work its magic, fees will be less and new university places will be created.

The opponents are derided as leaners, bludgers, selfish thugs and bullies.

Now that the name-calling has begun, there can be no argument.


That’s not the real argument.

That’s not the real debate.

Separately the above changes are disquieting.

Together the above changes show the Federal Government and its associated interest groups don’t understand the real purpose of education.

Earn or Learn : The Misunderstood Purpose of Education

We’re being told through the post-Budget earn and learn mantra that the purpose of education is to get a job. Easily said from a comfortable corporate armchair. Especially given the assumption that there’s enough educational capacity for those who want to learn and there are enough jobs for those who have learnt. Neither are true: in general, there are more unemployed than can be educated and there are less jobs for those who have the correct education.

The purpose of education is not to just get a job. If that was the case education would be purely pedagogical, utilising knowledge and skills for a specific predetermined purpose. Andragogy or adult learning as we know it would not exist. How then could anyone explain how adults and children too of their own accord become self-taught experts in subjects that may or may not be part of the school curriculum without regard to the possibility of being employed.

The purpose of education is not to just get a job. If that was the case then anyone who finishes a qualification and then gets a job has all the knowledge and skills required. They have the qualification, they don’t need to learn any further. But from personal experience and existing research, much education (up to 70%) occurs on the job. Which means the employee is still learning despite attaining the right qualification.

The purpose of education is not to just get a job. If that was the case then the Greeks, Romans, Chinese, Arabs, just to name a few or during the Renaissance or the start of the adult educational movement, would not have learnt and then recorded much more knowledge and skills than was required to fulfil just a job. And here is a clue.

The purpose of education is not to just get a job. If that was the case then there would be no opponents to third-world girls and women being educated. After all better schooled girls and women would make better mothers and wives. And in the opposition to women being educated whether in Nigeria, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, etc lies the clue.

Beyond a Job: The Real Purpose Of Education

The purpose of education is not to just get a job.

  • The purpose of education is to learn new knowledge and skills and create new opportunities for yourself that you never thought existed. Ask any self-taught expert.
  • The purpose of education is to learn and educate others. Wherever and whenever with whoever. Whether it’s in the workplace or home or community. And learn from others. Anyone who has ever taught anyone anything knows implicitly that every learner is a teacher and every teacher a learner. Ask any adult educator, they’re still learning.
  • The purpose of education is to create new ideas and concepts to create opportunities for others that no-one though existed. Wherever and whenever with whoever. Ask any artist or entrepreneur.
  • But the real purpose of education is to change yourself. And others. And the world.




Abbott After 100 Days : Policies versus the Pamphlett

There has been much written about the Abbott Government and its achievements in its first 100 days.

They’ve even brought out a pamphlett of their achievements.

But if one had studied their election pamphlett, the clues to their performance were already there.

And the giveaway is mainly in the presentation and only some of the content! Which describes the last 100 days!

The introduction stated the election was still on September 14. Perhaps a government out-of-date with voter expectations. Or perhaps a government looking forward to an election after September 7.

The document uses quotes inconsistently. There are double quotes on page 4 and single quotes on page 8. Maybe they knew there would be problems remembering who said what and when.

The document also uses numbering inconsistently with a full stop after last point on page 9 but no full stops anywhere else. An omen that they would have some issues around policy prioritisation.

Use of semi colons at the end of bullet points and the use of commas elsewhere. A portent of a possible policy backflip perhaps.

Misspelling on page 5 Australian. The LNP perhaps are unsure about this country’s place in the world.

Yes it was all there in black and blue in the pamphlett.

To misquote Bob Hawke, if you can’t format your documents properly you can’t govern the country.

Don’t Ask Tony These Questions!

We’ve seen quite a lot of Tony Abbott walking away from questions…

Here ‘s how to make him stay. Don’t ask about:

Of course this is not an exhaustive list!

Of course, it will be added to to ensure that Tony Abbott does stay and does answer questions.


Tony Abbott’s Director of Policy Is No Spy

Much has been written and said about the incident between Peter van Onselen and Dr Mark Roberts.
But there is another side to all of this.
It isn’t that we’ve found out that Tony Abbott has a Director of Policy. That’s way too trite.
It is the offer allegedly made to Peter van Onselen. According to his twitter account the following conversation took place:
No secret meetings, dead letter drops, microdots, intermediaries, just an open admission to provide information in exchange to hush up a conversation.
John Le Carre would describe his tradecraft as appalling. He is no spy. Peter van Onselen made a wise choice.

The LNP Know Nothings : Criticism Without A Solution

If you examine politics sooner or later one finds some trends that repeat themselves.

English: Flag of the Know Nothing or American ...

English: Flag of the Know Nothing or American party, c1850 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of these is the LNP’s approach to politics.

It is almost completely negative and oppositional.

But it is not the first time that this approach has been tried and failed. Let me take you back in time.

When One Nation first appeared on the Australian political landscape in the late 90s, Bob Carr wrote an article comparing them to the failed conservative American Party of the nineteenth century.

The American Party members were known as the Know Nothings! And Carr drew the same comparison with One Nation.

Both One Nation and the American Party failed politically as they were completely negative and made promises that they failed to deliver.

That comparison now even more accurately describes the LNP’s approach to politics.

Every question asked is steered back to the current negative talking point. And any promises made, for example, stop the boats, more jobs, etc, etc aren’t explained in detail if at all.

What detail given is scarce. Examples of this abound, Greg Hunt‘s interview regarding Direct Action on Lateline, Scott Morrison‘s interviews regarding immigration, Joe Hockey‘s interviews regarding the economy, Tony Abbott‘s recent comments regarding the Gonski reforms and education funding, Tony Abbott’s comments regarding funding infrastructure, etc.

In truth it is boring know-nothing politics.

All in all, the LNP have failed the first rule of debating: first criticise, then provide a specific solution.

Until that changes, they are merely an opposition not an alternative government.

The Gonski Masterstroke (Still Confusing Christopher Pyne and Tony Abbott)

A month ago, I wrote a post on Gonski and here’s an update: 

Gonski infographic

But that is merely focussing on tactics instead of strategy. The reforms and their introduction are a strategic masterstroke for the following reasons:

  1. They are a clear and understandable reform to educational funding. The Gonski reforms mean that schools will be funded per student with extra to overcome disadvantage. Prior to Gonski, educational funding arrangements in Australia were incomprehensible.
  2. These reforms have been generally well received. There were protests regarding university funding changes (cutbacks or spending deferrals) made to finance these reforms. There have been some voices of dissent stating Gonski favours the haves over the have nots. But no educational counter revolution has occurred! The streets aren’t full of parents, teachers and students saying No to Gonski!
  3. Even in the ALP, where public versus private school funding has been a issue for decades, Gonski has laid the issue to rest. Because of Gonski, there will be no more hit lists as per Mark Latham in the 2004 Federal Election campaign.
  4. Most critically, the reforms have outflanked the LNP premiers, Tony Abbott and Christopher Pyne presenting them with an issue that they cannot circumvent.

The LNP Premiers’ Dilemma:

  • If the LNP Premiers sign up to Gonski they’re seen as supporting the Gillard ALP Government. Worse, they are prevented by the Gonski conditions from making cuts to education spending (already occurring in NSW, Victoria and Queensland). O’Farrell has stated that he is in favour of Gonski on its own merits.
  • If the LNP Premiers don’t sign up to Gonski, it automatically (and has now) becomes a Federal and State election issue. Anyone who votes for the Gonski reforms is automatically registering a protest vote against the burgeoning State education spending cuts and the current educational funding model.

Tony Abbott’s and Christopher Pyne’s Dilemma:

  • If they agree with Gonski they’re seen as supporting the Gillard ALP Government. Even if Abbott had agreed in principle with the Gonski reforms and said they were too expensive, he would still be seen as supporting the centrepiece of the Gillard ALP Government re-election platform.
  • If they disagree with Gonski and support the current educational funding model, the current squabbling will worsen as education spending cuts (State and possibly Federal) bite.
  • Unfortunately, the position Pyne and Abbott have chosen is to criticise Gonski and state that the present system is better and that topping it up will make it even so. Their response is confusing and unclear.

So why is the title of this article not misleading?

  • In time, at least the ALP State Premiers will sign up to the Gonski reforms.
  • Gonski is now an election issue because of Abbott’s and the LNP State Premiers’ (except NSW’s O’Farrell) refusal to engage.
  • Consequently, the IGiveAGonski grassroots campaign will continue up until September 14th and beyond if there is a change of Government.
  • Abbott, Pyne and the LNP Premiers alternative to Gonski is the existing incomprehensible funding model and spending cuts which is no policy at all.

This issue is not going away. And it hasn’t!

An Abbott Recession Or Worse?

History unlearned has an unfortunate habit of repeating itself.

Unfortunately, the present economic policies of the Abbott LNP will have historical long-term economic and social consequences.

The following ready reckoner and broad analysis sets out the short and long term consequences of an Abbott LNP government.  (Please note these commitments are not costed).

Short Term Consequences

Tax Reduction

Tax Neutral

Spending Increase

Spending Decreases

  • Unspecified (see below).

Long Term Consequences

Obviously, even on a superficial understanding of the economy and Government spending, these promises will have to be funded through as yet unspecified spending cuts and/or extensive privatisation. One of the policy think tanks aligned with the LNP has specified an extensive blueprint here. Further suggestions are here.

Whether the LNP implements such wide-ranging spending cuts and/or privatisation remains to be seen. But there will be long-term consequences.


Privatisation, unfortunately has a poor track record in the public sphere:

  1. Governments have a poor record of successful privatisation with increased costs and decreased efficiency of service delivery.
  2. Privatisation increases public revenue in the short-term and decreases revenue in the longer term.
  3. Privatisation increases costs to the public in the long-term (especially for electricity).

Spending Cuts

As for spending cuts, as most Government spending is Health, Education and Human Services, inevitably the axe will fall there. The long-term consequences will be:

  • Health cuts will not satisfy the existing and increased demand for services due to mental illness, an aging and increasing population, etc.
  • Education reductions will create future skills shortages.
  • Social security cuts will create even more long-term unemployed and homeless with resulting social dislocation.


The same policies of spending cuts and privatisation have created recession for:

Worst of all, the LNP has stated its commitment to a budget surplus. Such a commitment  retained during an induced recession, will be history repeating itself : the same policy that worsened the 1929 Depression and the same policies that have hurt Greece and Spain.

It (will be) much worse than we thought.