When it comes to housing, Australia and Berlin are worlds apart. In Australia, as in much of the English-speaking world, housing is treated as primarily a vehicle for investment and wealth creation, a state of affairs which began with the privately-financed speculative building of colonial times, and is firmly entrenched in the culture; 70% of Australians own their own homes, and the “Australian Dream” is still widely held to be home ownership, though these days the home may well be a trendy inner-city apartment rather than the traditional bungalow on a quarter-acre block. In Berlin, however, the vast majority of residents are renters, and they have considerable political clout, as they have had for decades. [more inside]
A short explanation of why an Australian state's parliament officially declared Eddie McGuire to be a boofhead. [more inside]
Gough Whitlam, the progressive Labor prime minister of Australia from 1972 to 1975, has died aged 98. [more inside]
We Made Young Liberals And Young Labor Date Each Other Vice Australia: "Who are those students who join political clubs at university? They wear suits, push flyers, and disagree by default, but what makes them tick? To find out we paired them up with the people they disagree with most—students from opposing parties—and made them go on dates with each other."
First world war – a century on, time to hail the peacemakers "On the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War, we should remember those who tried to stop a catastrophe" [more inside]
Today the High Court of Australia ruled (Williams v Commonwealth of Australia  HCA 23) for the second time that Commonwealth funding of school chaplains was unconstitutional. This is in direct contradiction of the Abbott government's recent budget moves to totally defund secular counsellors in favour of a $244M school chaplaincy program[me]. [more inside]
Australia's 2014-2015 budget was just released. Amongst the casualties: television, young people (and the organisations that help them) and old people, tech startups, postgraduate students, people with disabilities and anyone seeking medical care, foreign aid, Indigenous people, the arts, renewable energy, and the environment. However, if you are in defence, mining, or Indonesian immigration, you should be fine.
The Three Languages of Arts and Cultural Funding : It is a truth universally acknowledged that the public funding of arts and culture will cause political strife. Reasonable people just do not agree on this, and can be surprisingly quick to accuse others of ideological warmongering. An Australian application of The Three Languages of Politics [interview: podcast and transcript] by Arnold Kling. Via The Conversation.
Since winning government in September 2013 (previously) Australia's conservative Coalition Government has been causing controversy, recently leading to nationwide protests (previously). Undaunted, this week the Coalition voiced support for the rights of bigots (more on that issue here), and reintroduced Knights and Dames. So, where's a depressed politics junkie to turn? To comedy, of course! After a successful crowdfunding campaign, satirical political comedy collective A Rational Fear are producing a 10 week season of Australian political comedy. [more inside]
When Australian prime minister Tony Abbott paused on the lawn of Parliament House to engage a group of high school students in conversation, he may have been hoping to impress some future voters. However, the questions fired at him by the 14-year-olds - about asylum seekers, gay marriage and why he has appointed himself Minister for Women - seemed to take him aback (warning: camera is level with Abbott's crotch.) The students involved later participated in the March in March – a series of protests against current government policies which took place in 29 locations across Australia over three days. Despite over 100,000 turning out, the protests was little coverage by mainstream media – leading to criticism even from within the media’s own ranks.
Hard right Conservative South Australian Senator Cory Bernardi, who in 2012 year was removed as parliamentary secretary and opposition whip to Tony Abbott as a result of arguing that same-sex marriages would lead to legalised polygamy and bestiality, is no stranger to controversy. A noted climate change sceptic, and critic of both Islam and publicly-funded broadcasting, Bernardi has just published his manifesto -- The Conservative Revolution -- calling for "a reversal back to sanity and reason". Reviews on Amazon have been less than favourable, but his book has put contentious issues such as abortion, the structure of the modern family and WorkChoices firmly at centrestage as the unpopular conservative government seeks to reconnect with voters who so comprehensively removed the Labor Party from Government in September 2013. Some argue that the danger in Bernardi's comments is that they shift the goalposts on what is considered outrageous, and re-ignite the culture wars. Or is it too late? The Prime Minister has again been forced to distance himself from Bernardi's views, and Warren Entch has criticised him for his "gay obsession". In 2012 the Global Mail called him Australia's Sarah Palin, but he also shares the Six Fs philosophy of Rick Santorum: Faith, Family, Flag, Free enterprise, Federation and Freedom.
Peter Hartcher, political editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, tells the story of the self-immolation of the Australian Labor party and the political destruction of two prime ministers, in a five part series: Meltdown. [more inside]
Australia goes to the polls tomorrow. Want the skinny on three word slogans? Want to know about the fabled voters of 'middle Australia'? Are you confused about preferential voting? Aussie comedian Dan Ilic has you covered with #C@%TASTROPHE 2013: Guide to the Election. [more inside]
Australian Federal Election time is heading into high gear now that the official list of candidates has been finalised—and it is a long one! With a record number of candidates in the 2013 election, it can be awfully tempting to just vote above the line for the Senate, especially as many believe that voting below the line means wasting your vote. Thankfully, Dennis the Election Koala is here to explain why you can't waste your vote. (It also makes a good intro to preferential voting for those still mystified by it.) [more inside]
Former Labor leader and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd defeated her in a Labor Party leadership spill, 57-45, on Wednesday. The result has triggered a wave of cabinet resignations, including that of the erstwhile Midnight Oiler and Minister for School Education, Minister for Early Childhood and Youth, Peter Garrett. Previously.
Why Australia hates thinkers, an essay on anti-intellectualism in today's Australia and the populist hostility to “intellectual elites”, by Alecia Simmonds.
Antony Green's Election Calculator Compare your own predictions with Antony Green’s. Handy list of recent past polls to see just what sort of caning the Gillard government might be in for. Probably more fun for coalition voters than Labor voters.
The plot is thickening in the lead-up to the Australian national elections. "'I said a week or so ago everyone should take a long cold shower,' Mr Rudd told Channel Seven on Friday morning. 'What I'd say to Malcolm and you Joe (Hockey) is it's time to jump in the ice bath'." [more inside]
A new MP, Gloria De Piero was taken aback by how many people despised her because of her new profession. So she took to the streets to find out why. [more inside]
"I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man, I will not. And the Government will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man. Not now, not ever. The Leader of the Opposition says that people who hold sexist views and who are misogynists are not appropriate for high office. Well, I hope the Leader of the Opposition has got a piece of paper and he is writing out his resignation." - The Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, takes the Leader of the Opposition to task over his sexist views (link includes extracts and video of full fifteen minute speech) [more inside]
The Political Persecution of Australia’s First Female Prime Minister "Can it really be the case that a tax – a carbon tax – could spur so many people to such levels of hatred? I find that impossible to believe, so I have to conclude that the persecution of Julia Gillard has to be about something else." Warning - some text and imagery may be NSFW or offensive - a "Vanilla" version is available
A Government-convened expert group has suggested that Australia return to the so-called Pacific Solution to deal with its asylum-seeker conundrum, and break a political impasse. [more inside]
Yesterday Australia joined many developed nations in putting a price on carbon pollution (fixed at $23/tonne CO2e for three years) (prev). Despite extensive compensation, this moderate economic reform has proved enormously unpopular ("based on a lie") and is expected to be repealed if/when the Federal Opposition are returned to government.
Being a charismatic young leader himself, gifted in bringing together animals from all walks of life (some had even called him the first zebra king), Mufasa related to Clinton’s first term. Like the Clintons, Mufasa was also a passionate advocate for universal healthcare since witnessing the positive impact of Rafiki’s healing powers for the animal kingdom.How Would They Vote is a US/Australia focused blog tracing the political awakenings and inclinations of characters from popular culture. Find out about Optimus Prime's anti-environmentalism, which of The Breakfast Club voted Dukakis, and what the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles really think of Herman Cain.
Australian Exceptionalism "Let that phrase roll off your tongue... now stop laughing if you can." [more inside]
Australian Labor Party's 46th National Conference starts today in Sydney. Key agenda items - Gay marriage, refugees, and Uranium sale to India. Follow it live.
A progressive Australian political advocacy group have produced a 2-minute advertisement showing their support of Marriage Equality Down Under. Warning: May pull heartstrings. [more inside]
"But there is a broader disquiet in the community which is surely correlated with the current impasse in our politics and media. It is, I believe, a real sense of a loss of legitimacy, a loss of belief in the validity of the institutions that control our nation and over which ordinary citizens have little influence and zero control."A naughty boy's weakening grip on power could spark a constitutional crisis in Australian federal politics. Here's a good time line. There are many Australian's who can remember the scandalous constitutional crisis of 1975 when Queen Elizabeth's representative sacked the Prime Minister – which unbelievably included a comedian interviewing all the major players on the steps of Parliament House as the drama unfolded. It later turned out that the CIA masterminded the whole thing.
You probably haven't heard of Gina Rinehart. However, she's Australia's richest person and will quite possibly be the world's richest person in a few short years. Her currently limited political activity appears primarily directed at maintaining profitability, avoiding taxes and stopping a price on carbon pollution.
"Despite promises that the 43rd Parliament would be kindlier and gentler, it has been characterised by vitriol in question time, a Prime Minister labelled a liar - and outside Parliament, a bitch - and an Opposition Leader called an extremist. Both sides complain the other is mean." [So much for kinder, gentler politics]
We care about climate change, but we hate the idea of having to do anything about it. Professor of Public Ethics at CAPPE, Clive Hamilton (also author of Requiem for a Species and Affluenza), tells it like it is on climate change policy in Australia.
Mr Controversial (video, transcript): an in-depth report by Dateline (SBS One, Australia) on Geert Wilders, and the most comprehensive English-language profile of him I have seen to date.
The people have
spoken mumbled a bit. The Australian Federal election held last Saturday has produced an extraordinary result. A minority government with the support of 1 Green and (maybe) 4 very independent independents will should result, but which way will it fall, left or right? Every Westminster-style government, claimed to produce strong stable majorities, now has a hung parliament.
Even though results may not be known for several days yet, we can acknowledge the outstanding work of the Australian Electoral Commission. (Previously).
Julia Gillard has become Australia's first female Prime Minister in stunning fashion, after toppling Kevin Rudd as leader of the ruling Labor Party. [more inside]
As reported a few hours ago in The Australian, the right wing faction of the Australian Labor Party rolls on Rudd and a caucus meeting is scheduled for 9 tomorrow morning, where it's predicted that he'll lose the ballot. One senior party source said: "This crypto-facist made no effort to build a base within the party and now his only faction - Newspoll - has deserted him. He is gone."
Australia's emissions trading scheme, the "Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme", is being debated in the Senate today. [more inside]
Former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating provides some observations on the GFC, including suggestions that the USA could become a defaulter, and identifying a need for a new international settlement to replace Bretton Woods. [more inside]
Former Australian Prime Minister John Howard was booted out in the 2007 elections. He had been Prime Minister for 11 years and in that time he had taken the country to war and divided the country on issues like Aboriginal reconciliation and workplace reforms. The Howard Years, a four part documentary originally screened on the ABC, is now online and available to view for free and takes a detailed look at the legacy of his Prime Ministership. The four part series explores in greater detail than ever before Howard's fractured relationship with his deputy and heir apparent, Peter Costello, and also contains some startling revelations from Howard Government ministers that many candidly admit they would never have told you while they were still in Government.
Australian dock workers will stop work for a minute today to remember the Patrick stevedores dispute, an industrial dispute that involved the stevedoring corporation Patricks, the Howard government and the Maritime Union of Australia. A landmark event in Australian political and legal history, the dispute saw dock workers stand "in the first line against the Howard government and the Patrick corporation that was seeking to remove their legal rights, their right to go to work [and] the right to collective bargaining." In its wake, the event generated debate about the role of unions in Australia, an alleged conspiracy between Patricks and the former Howard Government and even spawned a controversial TV mini-series, Bastard Boys. For more history and analysis of the dispute, you can read about it from the view of the MUA or this account but for the definitive analysis see here.
Australia Votes. Polls have been predicting a Labor win for the past few weeks, and it's beginning to look like it just might happen. But that's not the real sport. [more inside]
Senator On-Line (‘SOL’) is a truly democratic party which will allow everyone on the Australian Electoral roll who has access to the internet to vote on every Bill put to Parliament and have its Senators vote in accordance with a clear majority view. They will be running candidates for the upcoming federal Upper House (Senate) elections.
The Soapbox is a collection of photographs, texts of speeches, transcripts of debates and political ads from Australian election campaigns (both State and Federal) from 1901 to the present day. More materials will be added when they become available.
And we're off! Prime Minister John Howard has set the date for the Australian Federal election as November 24th, meaning we're up for a long six-week campaign. With Kevin Rudd leading the PM by between 16 to 18 points (depending on who you read) in recent opinion polls, this election seems the most likely to provide a change of Government since Howard was first elected 11 years ago. Antony Green's usual excellent election guide is up and running here, along with an excellent calculator which shows which seats are up for grabs dependent on a 2 party preferred swing. You might also want to check out the Vote-O-Matic, a fun but entirely disposable quiz which aims to help you decide who you'll vote for. [more inside]
Google launches a site dedicated to the upcoming Australian Federal Election with Youtube channels from each party, electoral boundaries integrated into Google Maps, a search engine to allow you to view what each candidate has said on a range of issues, from immigration to interest rates, news from your electorate, and graphs of media activity on candidates and issues. Australians have been lacking a comprehensive political resource like the UK's The Work For You, and Google has brought it one step closer. Unfortunately, many of the resources are in the form of gadgets you add to your iGoogle homepage, rather than standalone applications.
People vandalising Wikipedia is hardly a new thing but now even the office of the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, is getting into the act. Website Wiki-Scanner (previously) has traced several edits to Wikipedia articles by the Prime Ministers staff, according to Australian newspaper The Courier Mail. And they aren't confined solely to the Wikipedia entry on the PM himself; there was even an act of vandalism on a martial-arts related entry, in which one of Howard's ministerial staffers wrote, “Poo bum dicky wee wee” on the page. Not good news on the eve of a federal election that the PM is largely expected to lose. Meanwhile, 'new media' is being put to good use at Opposition leader Kevin Rudd's website, Kevin07, where a recent blog entry compiles Youtube's 'best' political videos. Hours of fun for the whole family!
Cabinet: The Movie. Starring Australian PM John Howard and a bunch of chickens. [more inside]
As the countdown to the Australian federal election continues ever onward, the key issue looks set to be industrial relations. The incumbent Howard Government's WorkChoices laws (now re-branded due to their increasing unpopularity) have seen the poll figures for challenger Kevin Rudd go up and up and up. But even as the Government prepares to unleash a major advertisement spree in an attempt to sell the alleged benefits of Work Choices, the new laws have come under attack from the most unlikely of places; popular prime time TV soap McLeod's Daughters, which last night aired this thinly veiled assault (youtube) on the central element of WorkChoices, AWAs.
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