It has to be said that if Tony Abbott was the worst Prime Minister we have ever had then Malcolm Turnbull has to be the most gutless. What kind of leader would allow some right-wing ultra-fanatics to ride rough shod over his every decision? Decisions that, when as Opposition Leader, he felt strongly about.
Malcolm Turnbull has shown, albeit reluctantly, that he will take on his predecessor publicly, if he must.
Most of us have highly stereotypical, caricatured views of the parties’ respective strengths and weaknesses.
Income tax for the states. Really? Yes, really. That’s the plan Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is putting to the states and territories at the Council of Australian Governments meeting tomorrow in Canberra. The Coalition has been looking ragged for much of 2016, after walking back from tax reform in the shape of a higher goodsMore
Junaid Cheema discusses Turnbull’s approach of restoring confidence for the Muslim community and addressing the issues of extremism.
Human rights lawyer and prominent Jesuit priest Father Frank Brennan says ‘religious freedom’ should be legislated into same-sex marriage law
Malcolm Turnbull’s assertion that showing any compassion will result in adverse consequences for the nation is unsupported by the evidence, writes Jay Holstrom, dispelling some myths.
Malcolm Turnbull believes “pragmatism and compromise” is the key to Syria and the terrorism it fuels, as an unstated international consensus emerges which could see a temporary reprieve for the brutal dictator President Basharal-Assad, leaving him in place while a new power-sharing arrangement is constructed
Doors firmly closed with Tony Abbott as Prime Minister have mysteriously swung open.
‘This guy has got to go, and it has to happen before Christmas,’ Malcolm Turnbull said of Tony Abbott a month ago in conversation with colleagues.
Contributing editor-at-large Tess Lawrence hopes that the ascension of Malcolm Turnbull to the prime ministership will usher in a better and less brutal form of politics.
Comment: The delays and cost blowouts have been much worse under the Coalition.
By proposing new regulations to cover Australia’s media, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has started a war with cranky old press propagandist and pay TV monopolist Rupert Murdoch, writes Rodney E. Lever.
‘A government can no more regulate the news that it can regulate the weather. Hitler and Mussolini tried and look what happened to them?’
[Note: Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini were European dictators who exerted iron control over their media. In the end, Hitler shot himself in the head and Mussolini was last seen hanging from his feet outside a butcher shop in Italy.]
I wrote the above Tweet when I woke to Fran Kelly on the ABC passing on the news that Rupert Murdoch had entered the fray over a submission presented to Prime Minister Tony Abbott by his wily rival, Malcolm Turnbull.
The previous day, the whole story had appeared in the Fairfax-owned Australian Financial Review, also engaged heavily now in a battle with the Murdoch papers.
Of course, we all know that Rupert Murdoch himself has been personally regulating his own media from the moment his father died in 1952.
The 84 year old Rupert has employed the same strategies in Australia, Britain and the USA for the past 63 years, and any ambitions Turnbull might have to change anything is centred on Turnbull’s own desire to crush Abbott.
Regulating the media is as old a part of world politics as the media itself — from when in 1440 Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg, a blacksmith, launched his home made printing press in Germany and human beings soon began to read for the first time from printed paper.
Now, in 2015, on March 16 Murdoch tweeted to his half million followers the following:
What Turnbull wants to do is to give the existing Australian media (including TV Channel 9) an opportunity for greater sharing of stories and for easier merging with other TV stations. The overall plan would enable media companies to compete with unregulated digital enterprises, like Independent Australia and its various competitors.
What is not clear yet is whether the unregulated new sources would remain unregulated.
The Turnbull plan also covers matters like free to air sports coverage and the imminent entry of the U.S. Netflix service to Australia. It will offer a paid fee opportunity to watch current movies on the home TV.
The plan leaked from Abbott’s office so fast that the ink was barely dry and Murdoch in New York was informed of Turnbull’s plan only minutes later.
News has always been a problem for those who want to manipulate it to their own advantage and Rupert Murdoch is the master of that skill. His newspapers are losing money nearly as fast as his multiple other ventures in other parts of the world are bringing in profits.
His personal use of newspapers has always been the source of his power over governments, politicians and other and his business rivals — but has been rarely displayed in such force until today.
You can follow Rodney on Twitter @RodneyELever.
Syndicated radio host Michael Berry commented on the beating of a teenage girl at a New York City restaurant by saying, “You know why white lives matter? Because that’s what white people believe. The dirty little secret is, black people don’t believe that black lives matter.”
On the March 12 edition of his Houston-based show, Berry described video footage of the beating, in which four girls attacked a 15-year-old girl at a McDonald’s in Brooklyn. At first, Berry claimed, “I’m not going to tell y’all the skin color because it’s not relevant.” After delivering his description of the brutal attack, Berry asserted that “you can blame this problem on anything other than the root cause. But the reality — and this is what makes people so uncomfortable with our show — is this one fact that we are about to state. We have people living in our country who are savages. Absolutely, positively savages. To engage in this kind of behavior.”
Berry, who calls himself the “czar of talk radio,” has a daily show on Houston’s KTRH, an iHeartRadio radio station that airs on several other iHeartRadio affiliates around the country. He was No. 28 on Talkers Magazine‘s 2014 Heavy Hundred.
Berry has hosted several Republican politicians on his show including Sen. Ted Cruz (TX), who posted his interview with Berry on his Senate website, and current Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who appeared on Berry’s show while running for governor in 2013. In 2010, Berry interviewed former President George W. Bush.
Full transcript (emphasis added):
BERRY: I just posted a video. Four teens viciously beat — four teen girls viciously beat another girl in a Brooklyn McDonald’s as the crowd cheers. I’m not going to tell y’all the skin color because it’s not relevant. And you have no idea who it would be. As a McDonald’s full of people watches, four girls beat another girl so savagely. As one is pounding, another’s pulling the hair, another’s just taking — stepping back and — shot and step back, and a shot and step back, because she doesn’t want to actually have to get hit. They get her on the ground, and they proceed — I mean, it’s — they don’t kick her like you would kick from — you know, they don’t have a six-inch draw back. They don’t kick her like you’re kicking an extra point. No, no, they size it up like they’re trying to beat Tom Dempsey’s record. They get a running start. Wham, into the body. And this girl — I mean, in fairness to this girl, I doubt this is the first beat down she’s had, because four of them are pounding on her, and she steadily — just everything she can to hold her own. She’s 15 years old.
Now, somewhere, somehow, you can blame this problem on anything other than the root cause. But the reality — and this is what makes people so uncomfortable with our show — is this one fact that we are about to state. We have people living in our country who are savages. Absolutely, positively savages. To engage in this kind of behavior.
You’ll see the video. She’s thrown to the ground. The girls kick her, stomp her, and they’re calling her the B-word the whole time because somehow, you know, that — it’s important that you also say words when you’re doing it. And then a whole McDonald’s full — they’re loving it. She ends up — she’s cowering under a table. Finally, [at] some point, two dudes I guess felt like, “Well, I guess we better do something.” They grab her and get her out of there, but it’s probably 90 seconds, two minutes of just beating, just beating before it’s done.
Community activist Tony Herbert said, “The tenacity of placing something on video, to shoot a young lady being beat down by six or seven young women is ludicrous in our community.” Now, why they always got to bring Luda into this? He says, “The message has to be sent very clearly that this kind of violence will not be tolerated, whether in a mall or in restaurants, are [sic] those involved should turn themselves into authorities immediately.”
The owner of the franchise, Paul Goodman, said, “This was a really horrible incident, but one thing that can water down the terrible vision everyone just watched is a 20-pack of delicious Chicken McNuggets with your choice of sauce, a small, medium, or large fry, and a soft drink. Violence is very sad, but McDonald’s for lunch is always a happy decision. Black lives matter.”
OK, maybe he didn’t say that, but it would have been nice if he did. If maybe he had also stated that black lives matter. You know what‘s interesting is, you know, of course, you don’t need to say, “White lives matter.“ Because white people don’t walk up to white people, put a gun to their head, and blow them away. White people don’t drive past the home of other white people — or black people, for that matter — white people don’t drive past the home of other white people and shoot into the window, knowing there are children inside. White people don’t walk into a McDonald’s, and four, five, six, seven, eight, 10 of them beat the snot out of somebody for minutes on end. While everybody else cheers, hoots, hollers, and films it. WorldStar. Yeah.
You know why white lives matter? Because that’s what white people believe. The dirty little secret is, black people don’t believe that black lives matter.
“But Michael, the guy that works at my company, he’s the general manager, and he’s” — that’s not who I’m talking about. Chris Rock has made very clear there are different types of black people. And the general manager at your company, who’s black and a super-nice guy, doesn’t want to live amongst that either.
But we can’t deny the influence that this subculture is having on our society. You can go and hide behind your gates. Y‘all can hire a guard at night. But eventually, a Trayvon Martin‘s going to come walking through your yard, at night, on suspension from school. Because his dad has a good job, and he lives there. And he lives in a world of thuggery, and his dad doesn’t. That‘s actually — that was the case there. But he was a thug, who went to school with other thugs.
If the motion to spill the leadership of the Liberal Party leadership succeeds, the main prospect as a challenger is and has always been Malcolm Turnbull, who has transformed himself to a milder, more patient and less pushy political figure, writes Annabel Crabb.
From the jungly commando warfare that has occupied the Coalition over the last two torrid weeks, a familiar battle-cry has now clearly emerged: “If it leads, we can kill it.”
This afternoon, two WA backbenchers have posted their intention to move, on Tuesday, for a spill of the Liberal Party leadership, five-and-a-bit years and two elections and four prime ministers on from its memorable capture by Tony Abbott with the heart-stopping margin of one single vote.
The message: No leader is safe any more. Not in their first term, not ever. The threat has evolved.
Internecine political warfare has changed a lot. In the old days, it was slower. You’d start off with a challenger and go from there. Sometimes, you’d start with a challenger – Peter Costello, say – and then nothing would happen for eight years.
On one memorable occasion in 2007, John Howard even asked his Cabinet whether they thought he should go. By the time they answered (“Yes”), he was out of his consultative patch and the moment was lost.
These days, you don’t even need to start with a challenger.
These days, dissatisfaction plus a multi-headed media hydra will get you to crisis point even if – as in this present situation – none of the purported leadership alternatives has sought to bring things to a head.
Can Tony Abbott survive on Tuesday? Possibly. Can he survive long-term? Hmmm. Put it this way: Barnaby Joyce last week bet his house on Tony Abbott still leading the Coalition at the next election. He would want to be checking his mortgage insurance.
Mr Abbott has just made a terse appearance at Sydney’s Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices to declare that he and his deputy, Julie Bishop, have spoken and have agreed to stand together – leader and deputy – to contest any motion to spill.
“We are not the Labor Party,” he further and uncontroversially declared, before disappearing from the shortest press conference I can ever recall seeing.
Ms Bishop’s absence from her leader’s side does not necessarily mean that she has been tied up somewhere by Peta Credlin; she has been in Adelaide, playing awkwardly with preschoolers in the company of a sub-ebullient Christopher Pyne.
The question of whether Ms Bishop’s support would continue in the event that the spill motion succeeds is still unanswered.
But the full support of Ms Bishop has never, in any event, been a guarantor of ballot triumph; she supported Brendan Nelson all the way to his defeat in 2008, and she supported his successor, Malcolm Turnbull, right up to the point at which he was knocked over by Mr Abbott in late 2009.
In any event, the main prospect as a challenger is and – realistically – has always been Malcolm Bligh Turnbull.
He has not declared himself to be a candidate. He has been studiously cautious about canvassing the issue with colleagues.
If internecine political warfare has changed, then Malcolm Turnbull is one jungle-dweller who has evolved as effortlessly as Schwarzenegger.
The old Malcolm, who strutted and fretted under Brendan Nelson’s leadership and whose ambition to take over was so red-hot it was palpable across a crowded room, is nowhere to be seen these days.
New Malcolm is milder, more patient, less pushy. Less prickly; the “metadata” fiasco, which last year saw the PM and George Brandis both stumble rather badly on some technical detail within Turnbull’s portfolio rather than just doing the obvious thing and including him in the discussion, would have sent Old Malcolm into Rage Orbit. But he helped to fix the situation, and refrained from making a fuss.
Internally, Turnbull has been reported as encouraging colleagues to give the PM more time. That in itself is not a qualification for saintliness; more time would suit Turnbull.
We’ve known for some time that the Good Ship Abbott was in trouble, and with MPs now seemingly jostling for position could it be a case of man overboard? Paula Matthewson writes.
That sound you hear is the whisper of Liberal Party MPs carefully shuffling around a Prime Minister who’s taken on water and is listing dangerously.
They’re hoping to avoid being dragged down with him into the dark waters of electoral opprobrium and are eyeing those who hope to replace the PM as potential lifeboats.
We’ve known for some time that the Good Ship Abbott was in trouble, partly because it was constructed using shonky policies and shattered expectations, but also because it was steered with the reckless abandon that comes from political hubris mixed with a misguided sense of entitlement.
The summer break provided an opportunity to put the ship in dry dock, replace the defective policies and adjust the political navigation system. At least that was the point of Tony Abbott’s “reset” press conference and the ministry reshuffle conducted late last year.
However, it would appear that no such reset actually took place. Instead Abbott pressed on, continuing to make poor political decisions like the no-media visit to Iraq while bushfires raged in three Australian states, and even worse policy decisions like the unannounced $20 cut to the Medicare rebate.
Now a leak about the Medicare cut from the Cabinet’s expenditure review committee over the weekend suggests hope is fading fast for HMAS Abbott to be successfully refloated, and that the decks are being cleared for a regime change.
Ministers are already jostling to be in the new leadership line-up, and the weekend’s leak flags that Joe Hockey, the one-time heir-apparent but now only the beleaguered Treasurer, wants to be back in contention. It would also appear Hockey is unafraid to tarnish the PM’s reputation while seeking to rehabilitate his own.
According to a newspaper report of the leak, Hockey and then health minister Peter Dutton “opposed the move during a ‘heated’ exchange with the Prime Minister” but the PM insisted on the $20 cut the Medicare rebate for short GP consults, which apparently were “developed by the Prime Minister’s Office and then costed by the Department of Finance and Health”.
This isn’t the first time efforts have been made to shift responsibility for the budget from Hockey to Abbott, particularly by drawing attention to the PM’s insistence on chairing every meeting of the Expenditure Review Committee as it put the budget together.
One well-briefed commentator wrote around that time:
The core problem with the budget is the design, and responsibility for design faults ultimately lands at the feet of the Prime Minister … Abbott used his authority to take charge of the Government’s first budget, yet he seems to be using his political skills to sidestep responsibility, leaving ownership of the document with Hockey.
Since then, the Abbott Government has begun to leak like a scuttled dinghy. Political observers have been treated to a flotilla of leaks to the media, seemingly to position ministers impatient for promotion in the best possible light, or put the case for one ambitious backbencher over another.
It would seem not even the Prime Minister’s Office has been above such shenanigans, appearing to provide leaks to the media at various times to rein in potential leadership contenders such as Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.
Another recent leak, aimed at the Treasurer and suspected to also have come from the Prime Minister’s Office, was described by one press gallery stalwart as exposing the disunity, paranoia and distrust that currently exists at the highest levels of the Government.
This latest leak in Hockey’s favour won’t change the perception of omnishambles, nor will it dissuade voters from booting out the Abbott Government as swiftly as the Rudd-Gillard one if the rot is not soon arrested.
This certainty is what occupies the minds of the shuffling MPs.
The only factor that remains in Abbott’s favour is that there’s no clear front-runner to replace him. Traditionally the leadership team is agreed mostly between NSW and Victorian MPs because combined they have the most votes in the party room. Hockey re-entering the field complicates matters, but at least gives NSW MPs another option other than the invidious choice between the left’s darling, Malcolm Turnbull, and the hard-right’s poster boy, Scott Morrison. Victoria doesn’t have a leadership contender but could supply an able deputy.
And at this point it’s anyone’s guess what deals the Western Australians might do with NSW or Victorian MPs to put Bishop into the top job.
What is clear is that now Abbott has apparently single-handedly botched the “reset”, he’ll likely be deemed unseaworthy and slated for a visit to the ships’ graveyard, perhaps by mid-year.
Meantime we can expect to see a veritable ocean of leaks to the media and other forms of self-promotion as the contenders set their spyglasses on the leadership and set sail for what is guaranteed to be a deceptively perilous journey.