The School of Athens

The School of Athens
The School of Athens by Raphael (click on picture to view short documentary from Columbia University)

Friday, 8 December 2017

Tribute to Bill Hayden, advocate for gay, sorry, human rights

Fellow citizens,

Following yesterday's historic passing of the Same-Sex Marriage legislation, I thought it important to recognise the efforts of Bill Hayden in arriving at this long overdue reform.

From Mark Kenny's article in the SMH, September 30, 2017 "Bill Hayden, the most visionary PM we never had, says Paul Keating."

"Most younger Australians campaigning for marriage equality in 2017 would not know Hayden from Adam. Incredulous at the glacial pace of change, even fewer would know that way back in 1967, it was Hayden, now 84 and infirm, who was pushing forward, largely by himself within federal Labor, to repeal dehumanising laws which rendered homosexual love illegal."

"Even now in 2017, it is not uncommon for embarrassed Labor MPs to explain their denial in parliamentary votes as a "journey" – the unspoken point being it might have harmed their career prospects. But consider this. The former social security minister, treasurer, opposition leader, foreign minister, and ultimately governor-general, achieved all of that after he spoke out, long before he was leader, long before there was a majority within Labor, long before it was fashionable to do so."


"People want something better"

Fellow citizens,

Yesterday was an important day in Australia's history.

The Same Sex Marriage Bill passed the lower house and will become law.

Assisted Dying legislation passed the Victorian Parliament recently. Another important day.

There was a time when Australia might have led the world on these two important social reforms, yet the reactionary prime ministers John Howard and Tony Abbott ensured this didn't occur.

However, both reforms have now occurred.

Much to the delight of the majority of the Australian population.

There is still much that needs to be done with respect to Indigenous recognition and a much more humane treatment of refugees and asylum seekers.

But it seems we are starting, after a long torpor, to finally embrace our better character.

To quote Noel Pearson:

"The silent majority of Australia is not as mean, is not as short-sighted, is not as mean-spirited as people would have us believe."

"I think the same-sex marriage debate has shown us very clearly that the silent majority of Australia is actually … generous, very fair-minded and actually want to bequeath our children something better than we have — particularly in relation to Indigenous peoples and the relationship they have with the rest of the country and their place in Australian society."

"People want something better."

Yes...yes, they do.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Coalition's problems started four years ago

Fellow citizens,

I am often bemused by the regular media reporting that starts with "Tony Abbott says...." or "Peta Credlin says..." and then drones on to illuminate us with their dazzling thoughts.

As if either of them have some brilliant political insight that mandates that we mere mortals must stop all activity and then bow and scrape and genuflect in the presence of their great wisdom.

What has been forgotten is that these two giants of politics oversaw the breathtaking collapse of support (within three months) of the election of the Coalition Government in September 2013 from which it has not recovered.

Apart from a brief reprieve when Malcolm Turnbull was installed as leader in October 2015 - which, in the end, only boosted the Coalition's position sufficiently to enable it to scrape home at the 2016 election - the Coalition has trailed the ALP in the polls.

(See below: Graph 1 two party preferred 2013 - 2016 and Graph 2 two party preferred 2016 - 2017).

What has also been forgotten is that the Coalition was essentially gifted an election victory in 2013 thanks largely to ALP incompetence in February 2011 in the handling of the announcement of what should have been a very straightforward policy - the now dreaded "Carbon Tax" - and three years of ALP instability and infighting thanks to the schism that developed within the party following the ousting of Kevin Rudd in 2010.

Abbott and Credlin are not political geniuses, they were just in the right place at the right time for an opposition and they took full advantage of it.

When it came to governing (which is after all why a party is elected to office) they had no idea. And still don't.

So please, enough reporting verbatim what they have to say. I'd much prefer to listen to...well, just about anyone else. Anyone else. Oh, except him...

Graph 1: Two party preferred 2013 - 2016

Graph 2: Two party preferred 2016 - 2017

 (Source: Ulysses - Wikipedia)

Monday, 20 November 2017

The chutzpah is and contrast

Fellow citizens,

At the 1998 Federal Election the Coalition attracted only 49% of the two-party preferred vote yet won enough seats to give it a majority in the House of Representatives and therefore the ability to form a government.

A clear majority of Australians voted against returning the Howard Government yet John Howard claimed this on the night of the election:

"We now have a mandate to implement the policies that we took to the Australian people".

At the 2017 Same Sex Marriage Survey, the NO case attracted only 38.4% of the votes of the 79.5% of eligible voters who participated.

A substantial majority, 61.6%, voted YES, dwarfing any two-party preferred vote of any winning party at any federal election (FYI Malcolm Fraser's crushing 1975 victory attracted 55.7%) yet Eric Abetz now claims this:

"NO voters exceeded the primary vote being enjoyed by the Coalition...I would like to see a greater embrace of those who voted NO."

Oy vey!

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Lest we ever forget this...

Fellow citizens,

Liberal MP Kevin Andrews says a Jewish baker should be able to refuse to serve a Muslim couple and vice versa.

He made the comments while arguing bakers should be able to refuse services to same-sex couples for a wedding if they held a religious view against same-sex marriage.

Asked if a Jewish baker should be able to deny a Muslim couple a cake, he said: “Why not?”. [SBS]

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

The State of Play: Déjà vu all over again

Colleagues and scholars from coast to coast, across Bass Strait and all the ships at sea.

Dateline: Australia, Federal Politics, Polling.

As at the end of October 2017, this is how the polling numbers compare to the final polls under Tony Abbott.

The key points are:

The Coalition's primary vote is at 35.5% (2.5% lower than when Abbott was last Prime Minister).

The ALP's primary vote is at 37% (0.2% lower than when Abbott was last Prime Minister).

The Greens' primary vote is at 10% (3.6% lower than when Abbott was last Prime Minister).

The Others Group primary vote is at 17.5% (6.3% higher than when Abbott was last Prime Minister). One Nation accounts for 8% of that Others' 17.5%.

In Two Party Preferred terms, the Coalition's vote is at 46.2% (essentially in the same position as when Abbott was last Prime Minister).

In pure two party preferred numbers, when Malcolm Turnbull replaced Tony Abbott as Prime Minister about 1,000,000 voters switched from the ALP to the Coalition.

Now those voters have all switched back.

What goes around...

Primary votes as at end October 2017 %

Last Polls Abbott
Current Polls Turnbull

Two party preferred votes as at end October 2017 %
Last Polls Abbott
Current Polls Turnbull

Friday, 20 October 2017

NZ election result explained

Fellow citizens,

The New Zealand election result explained.

The Labour Party, NZ First Party and the Green Party attracted 50.4% of the vote; the National Party attracted 44.4%.

Labour, NZ First and the Greens hold 63 seats in a parliament of 120; the National Party holds 56 seats.

While National attracted the biggest number of votes for any one party, a majority of New Zealanders did not vote for them and so it is not unreasonable that a coalition of other parties (who did command a majority of votes) form the NZ government.


2017 General Election - Official Result


Nationwide Party Votes Results


Percentage of vote

Party Votes% of VotesElectorate SeatsList SeatsTotal seats
National Party1,152,07544.4411556
Labour Party956,18436.9291746
New Zealand First Party186,7067.2-99
Green Party162,4436.3-88
ACT New Zealand13,0750.51-1
The Opportunities Party (TOP)63,2612.4---
Māori Party30,5801.2---
Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party8,0750.3---
New Zealand People's Party1,8900.1---
United Future1,7820.1---
NZ Outdoors Party1,6200.1---
Democrats for Social Credit8060.0---
Internet Party4990.0---

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