Smoke and mirrors with refugees

It was kick-a-refugee week again in Australia last week. Whether the Coalition or Labor is in power, it is the same smoke-and-mirrors game. Get demonstrably tough on a few refugees to distract attention from the massive, unsustainable surge in overall immigration.

Belt up a few people who come in by boat and ignore the hundreds of thousands of people arriving by air with visas that they hope one day to turn into permanent residency.

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Scandalous maladministration

If you watch only one TV series in the next few months, make it Mr Bates vs The Post Office. On one level it is an engaging human story. On another it exemplifies much of what has gone wrong with public administration in Westminster-based liberal democracies in the past 45 years.

The saga began in 1999 and it is still going on.

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Make politicians pay for falsity

For me this is heresy, but here we go. I think the authors of the CSIRO report on the costs of electricity in Australia, GenCost, should sue Opposition Leader Peter Dutton for defamation.

In my decades of journalism, I have constantly railed against the defamation law as a damnable impediment to free speech; to the exposure of political malfeasance; and to democratic principle itself because without a well-informed electorate there can be no democracy.

But the boot is now well and truly on the other foot.

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Spare us policy thought bubbles

After being clobbered in the Dunkley by-election for delivering hysterical exaggerations amid an absence of policy and the non-appearance of senior Coalition figures at critical times, the Coalition is now turning to policy.

But if the thought bubbles popping out of the primordial sludge are any guide, especially on energy and housing, please spare us. 

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Dunkley: lessons out of the ordinary

The main lesson from the Dunkley by-election is not that with an average swing nothing much happened, but rather that there are a lot of lessons.

Let’s take the Coalition side first. The Liberal candidate got 6.6 percentage points more vote than last time. Sounds good, but . . . . Palmer’s UAP (5.5 percent last time); Hanson’s One Nation (2.8) and the Liberal Democrats (2.5) did not stand. 

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A right to be misinformed?

This weekend’s Dunkley by-election is bringing misleading political advertising down to a new low.

It is part of a two-decade trend of allowing self-interested publishers get away with lying and misleading, while truth-seeking publishers continue to be hampered by the legal system at every turn. Can the trend – which essentially coincided with the rise of easy self-publication on the internet – be reversed?

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Australians’ well-being is falling

Australia is turning into a nation of mean, bad, tax-deducting landlords, and if this month’s publication of MPs’ pecuniary interests is any guide, nothing will ever be done about it.

Only three of the 151 Members of the House of Representatives are renters who own no residential property, less than 2 per cent, compared to 30 per cent nationwide.

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China, terrorism and the rule of law

Most governments, especially western democratic ones, say they will not deal with terrorists. It only encourages further violence, they argue. There are occasional exceptions, of course, for some terrorists who do not wield AK47s nor carry suicide bombs.

If the terrorist is dressed in a suit and tie and his name is Xi Jinping, dialogue and trade continue.

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Intrinstically corrupting

After the Australian Electoral Commission released the 2022-23 political-donation data various think tanks and media commentators painted a picture of corporate Australia sloshing vast amounts of money into the coffers of the major parties to make sure that the bidding of big business is done.

And further that much of it is opaque; cannot be traced; and is only made public months after the money has been handed over.

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Can we bet on PM doing something

The week that sees Australia’s biggest lottery jackpot in history on offer is perhaps the wrong time to talk about gambling. But Prime Minister Albanese’s determination with the cost of living and tax to “do something about it”, should augur well for the Government’s response to the parliamentary committee’s gambling report.

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