Tag Archives: Abbott

Gillard & Abbott are Vapid

A pretty reasonable assessment. Gillard is one of the most vapid political leaders this country has had. The supreme irony is that Abbott is also one of the most vapid political leaders this country has had. Very different from each other, of course, but rather than one highlighting the lack of the other, they seem to complement each other in their posturing, their lack of credibility and simple, self-obsessed desire to be prime minister.

While the polls, led on by media snippets, wax and wane based on whatever minor mood those being polled are in, and while the pundits scarcely rise above anything other than surprise at both leaders’ inabilities, the public seem to just bump from one opinion to the other without foresight or political imagination. That’s what is really lacking in public discussion right now. This is the age of mediocrity and worse.

I find this statement impossible to argue with. It is a response to Malcolm Farnsworth piece on Unleashed by an Andrew McIntosh.

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Tony Windsor Remembers 2004

This is what I wrote at the time

(it’s long):

Below is all the evidence that is freely accessible in the public domain about the alleged bribery scandal involving Independent Member for New England Tony Windsor, New South Wales National Senator Sandy MacDonald, Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson and Tamworth businessman Greg Maguire. Some evidence is also provided by Tamworth Mayor Councillor Treloar in Mr Maguire’s name.

The dates are at the bottom of the statements, the day they were made or published. For non-Australian readers they are in day, month, year order.

PARLIAMENTARY STATEMENT BY TONY WINDSOR

Mr Speaker, the House would be aware that the Australian Federal Police have referred an alleged breach of the Commonwealth Electoral Act to the DPP for determination relating to an inducement offered to me not to stand for re-election at the election just held. The House would also know that the Prime Minister has called on me to name the names of those people involved in the attempt to bribe me.
I would like to place on record Mr Speaker an account of a meeting that took place on the 19th of May, 2004 at 10:30am at the office of Tamworth businessman, Mr Greg Maguire, in the Powerhouse Motorcycle Museum. The meeting was attended by Mr Maguire, Mr Steven Hall – my campaign co-chairman, Miss Helen Tickle – my campaign secretary and myself. I have had many meetings with Mr Maguire in the past relating to the development of the Australian equine and livestock centre, and Mr Maguire has also assisted with advice during previous election campaigns.
It was assumed that the meeting was to be about the upcoming election, and progress that Mr Maguire had made in relation to the equine centre concept, and planning which was being developed from federal funding. (Margo: For a photo of Ando, Macdonald and Maguire see here.)
Prior to that issue being raised, Mr Maguire indicated that he had spent four to five hours the night before in the company of the Deputy Prime Minister, John Anderson, and the National Party Senator, Senator Sandy MacDonald, and a black-haired woman whose name he did not recall. (Margo: a staffer of John Anderson.) Mr Maguire made a number of points regarding the previous night’s meeting, and I would like to go through those points.
John Anderson was paranoid about me and the demise of the Nationals and the rise of Independents. Mr Anderson asked Mr Maguire to meet with me and give me some messages which Mr Maguire was then doing. Mr Anderson said that if I tried to get any credit for the funding of the Equine and Livestock Centre that the funding would not take place. Mr Anderson was also concerned about my continued association with the Australian Equine and Livestock Centre given my political position.
Mr Anderson and Senator MacDonald asked Mr Maguire what it would take to get me not to stand for re-election, and indicated that there could be another career for me outside politics, such as a diplomatic post or trade appointment, if I didn’t stand for the seat of New England.
Senator MacDonald said, offer him whatever it takes, we can deliver. One of them also said, and I quote, “the government makes about 500 political appointments, it can be done”. Senator MacDonald also said, Windsor has a pension, why does he want to hang around anyway – apparently referring to my 10 years in the state parliament.
My response to Mr Maguire was, Greg (and I know Greg Maguire quite well), Greg, you should know, I’m (and there was an expletive put in here), I’m offended by that, and you should know full well that I would not consider any such appointment.
Mr Maguire replied, I know mate, I have just been asked to deliver the message. My response was, I cannot understand these guys and the lengths that they will go to get rid of me, and to think that I would even consider such an offer. I apologised to Miss Tickle for my swearing.
My further comment to Mr Maguire was, I believe, and I still do believe this, I believe this is an act of stupidity and desperation to regain the seat. Tell Anderson and MacDonald I am not interested.
Mr Maguire responded, I still want you to get in touch with Anderson. Anderson is saying you won’t talk to him, to which I agreed, and the conversation took place in this very spot a couple of weeks later.
I believe that Mr Maguire was acting only as a messenger for John Anderson and Sandy MacDonald. The matter became public knowledge as a result of discussions I had with Tony Vermeer of the Sunday Telegraph relating to my role in a hung parliament. The matter was subsequently mentioned in an article by this journalist in the Sunday Telegraph 19 September, 2004.
I would like to point out Mr Speaker that Mr Maguire is a very well regarded businessman in Tamworth and has been the prime mover in promoting the concept of the Australian Equine and Livestock Centre, and I congratulate him on his success –

Time expired

*

PARLIAMENTARY STATEMENT BY JOHN ANDERSON

Mr Speaker, look briefly I just want to say that I completely repudiate the Member for New England’s allegations of improper inducements offered indirectly by Senator Macdonald and me earlier this year.
I would make the first point that there was no meeting on the 18th May “ I was in Qld, Bundaberg on the evening of the 18th. Now I have on three or four occasions met Mr Maguire. In total I doubt that I have spent four or five hours with him but I want to make it very plain that at those meetings neither I nor the one in which Senator Macdonald was present gave him any indications or authorisation to suggest to the Member for New England
Any indication or authorisation or any indication of any nature whatsoever that he might be offered some inducement in return for not running for the seat of New England. Mr Speaker, I cannot know what representations Mr Maguire might have made to the meeting that apparently took place on the 19th May, but I can know that he had no authority whatsoever, implied, nuanced or whatever from me or from Senator Macdonald to stand aside in return for some inducement.
Now I understand the police have interviewed a number of people in regard to this matter. They have not the member of my staff who was in attendance at the meeting that Senator Macdonald and I had with Mr Maguire, they have not interviewed Senator Macdonald and they have not interviewed me. The matter is of course, for them to take forward if they believe there is a case that has to be answered by anyone.
Mr Speaker my position is quite simple in this matter, I repudiate completely the claims. I do not engage in corrupt behaviour. So far as I am aware at all times I have maintained what I believe to be both the law and the spirit of the law in relation to Australia’s electoral matters. I think that matters, I it’s important. I think people who know me, know that I think those things are important.
I said during the campaign that I would not do it, I haven’t done it, and I would certainly not authorise anyone else to make those sorts of offers on my part “ I said that during the campaign, I repeat it now. That is so far as I am concerned all that I intend saying on the matter.

SENATOR MACDONALD’S PRESS RELEASE, ISSUED AFTER ANDERSON’S DENIAL

The allegations made by Mr Windsor under the protection of parliamentary privilege are untrue and highly defamatory. They are a smear on me, the Deputy Prime Minister and my Party.
I am in no position to offer Mr Windsor any inducement, nor did I.
I understand his allegations are under investigation by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the matter should remain with them. At no stage have I been approached by the AFP.

17/11/04

“At no stage does he believe he was acting for John Anderson,” Tamworth mayor James Treloar told the Nine Network’s A Current Affair.

18/11/04

Treloar: “He went back, he spoke to Tony Windsor, he just said: ‘Tony, you can’t deliver this, the only people who can deliver it are the government. As a good mate of yours I find you becoming very ineffectual as the independent member. Is it time to move on?’,” Mr Treloar said.

“Unfortunately that seems to have been misconstrued and Greg’s very concerned about it now.”

18/11/04

Anderson: “Did I suggest to Senator Macdonald that we ought to try to find him a posting?’ Mr Anderson told parliament.
“Let me be absolutely frank … I don’t believe that the member for New England would make a suitable diplomat overseas in the first place. In the second place it would have been corrupt and wrong and I wouldn’t have done it.”

18/11/04

“There is no more honest person in public life than John Anderson,” Mr Howard told reporters.
“He has my full confidence and my total support and he will be acting prime minister of Australia while I am out of the country.”

18/11/04

“The easy way for me would have been – and to protect Greg Maguire who’s in the hotspot right now – the easy way for me would have been to lie about that meeting,” Mr Windsor told parliament.
“But I wasn’t going to lie, I didn’t like doing it and it’s one of the reasons I’ve been reluctant to name the names because there are people who are going to be damaged by this who shouldn’t be.
“And the people who should be damaged will most probably be able to fly away, hiding behind the Chinese rule of an intermediary.”

18/11/04

Simon Crean: “I don’t question Mr Anderson’s integrity,” the former Labor leader said. “But nor do I question Mr Windsor’s. I know them both very well and I don’t question either of them.”

“Let me be absolutely frank,” Anderson told parliament. “I do not believe the member for New England would make a suitable diplomat overseas in the first place. In the second place, it would have been corrupt and wrong, and I would not have done it.”

19/11/04

Mr Maguire, who was said to be “very disappointed” by Mr Windsor’s actions, is today expected to strongly deny the claims made by Mr Windsor in parliament on Wednesday

19/11/04

“I believe I have nothing to answer for at all in this matter,” Mr Anderson told parliament.
“I am not the sort of person who offers these inducements.”

19/11/04

“I think it would be a great travesty of justice if the real villains in this case, the ones who are the architects of the message, were allowed to flutter off into the sunset, rather than the messenger,” Mr Windsor told parliament.

19/11/04

Treloar: “He has openly said, ‘I don’t know what they are all on about’,” Mr Treloar told The Australian.
“(Mr Maguire) was acting very much on his own in relation to the equine centre and he has just given me some comments in relation to what he said in his (AFP) statement.
“Tony Windsor first brought this up as a throwaway line to a Sunday journalist and he said something along the line of, ‘I’ve been offered many jobs’. That was a throwaway line and I think in the same context Greg Maguire had said to him, something to the effect of, ‘As an independent you’re not really being all that effective, why don’t you join a political party’.
“And I believe Tony (Windsor) said I would never join a political party again it would be unfair on the people who voted for me.”

19/11/04

Rudd: Independent MP Tony Windsor who has accused Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson of attempting to bribe him, was not the kind of man who would be given to “wild flights of fantasy”, a federal Labor frontbencher said.

Labor foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd said Mr Windsor struck him as a “straight up and down” kind of country bloke.

“His office has been near mine in parliament house, (and he) strikes me as a sort of straight up and down bush bloke, not given to wild flights of fancy,” Mr Rudd told Seven’s Sunrise.

“But, anyway, he’s made these very strong allegations.
“On the other hand what we’ve seen in the parliament this week is the Deputy Prime Minister being quite direct in his denials.
“The truth will (come) out in this.”
“I’d just much rather we got to the truth first, rather than setting benchmarks for pass or fail in all of this,” Mr Rudd said.

19/11/04

Mr Maguire, speaking to journalists in Tamworth in NSW, rejected outright what he called Mr Windsor’s “offensive and untrue” allegations that he, Mr Anderson and Nationals senator Sandy Macdonald were involved in a bribery plot.

But Mr Maguire said:”The reality of the meeting at the centre of the controversy is that Mr Windsor has responded badly to personal comments and criticisms about how he was becoming ineffective in his representation of the New England area.”

“The allegations now placed permanently on the parliamentary record, to my detriment, have no foundation in fact,” Mr Maguire said.

“Nor did those allegations, or the actual discussions, have any linkage – as alleged – to Mr Anderson or Mr Macdonald.”
“The actual comments, which will no doubt emerge in time, were Mr Windsor’s personal views expressed to a friend, now a past friend.”
“The most regretful aspect, from my perspective, will be the confirmation that politics has been put ahead of 10 years of mutual respect and mateship,” he said.

“Mr Windsor must seriously consider whether to remain on as the Member for New England in federal parliament.
“He should consider that before the parliament goes back next week.”

19/11/04

“I didn’t address this matter lightly. I don’t see it as a light matter at all,” Mr Windsor told ABC radio.

19/11/04

Tamworthians on MaGuire-

IN Tamworth it seems, you either love Greg Maguire or you loathe him.

One local business person contacted yesterday declared he would not talk about Mr Maguire under any circumstances. Why, we ask? “Because anything I’d say you couldn’t print,” came the crisp reply.
Another person active in the local community and political scene disagrees completely, saying Maguire is absolutely terrific: “He’s very community-minded. He’s an excellent corporate citizen.”
Rod Richardson, owner of Euro Cafe in Tamworth, has known Maguire for the best part of 20 years.
“He is an impeccable businessman,” Mr Richardson said. “He does things that no one would have ever thought of doing here. He’s a dreamer.”

19/11/04

“I can tell you exactly what was said,” Cr Treloar said.
“Greg Maguire said to him: ‘Tony, I am trying to pull this equine centre together – you can’t deliver the money. You’re a good friend, a good mate, I’ve been on your campaigns, I’ve helped you raise funds, I’ve done all these things for you but you’re ineffective at the moment, why don’t you look at something else.’
“He (Mr Windsor) said ‘what are you talking about?’ (and Mr Maguire replied) ‘Why don’t you see if there’s some other job opportunities, take one of those overseas jobs or something’.”

“The poor bloke is flying a solicitor down from Brisbane to give him advice, because he said ‘at the end of the day I’ve been defamed, these people can do that with parliamentary privilege’,” Cr Treloar told AAP.

19/11/04

Windsor: Mr Windsor, the member for New England, said Mr Maguire approached him on May 19 on behalf of Mr Anderson and Nationals senator Sandy Macdonald, offering a diplomatic post or “whatever it takes” for him not to stand for his seat again.

19/11/04

The Herald said Mr Maguire would publicly reveal what he had already told police and close friends: “It was all my own idea. Anderson had nothing to do with it.

19/11/04

Treloar on Maguire: “At no stage does he believe he was acting for John Anderson,” Mr Treloar said.

19/11/04

“I didn’t address this matter lightly. I don’t see it as a light matter at all,” Mr Windsor told ABC radio.
“But I wasn’t prepared to lie about it.”

19/11/04

The MP for New England also brushed aside calls for his resignation, telling reporters in Tamworth: “People have been suggesting for many years that I vacate my seat in parliament.”

19/11/04

Mr Windsor stood by his allegations, despite Mr Maguire branding them as “offensive and untrue”.

19/11/04

“Read my Hansard,” Mr Windsor said.

“The key to this is a proper investigation. There have been allegations made, none of the players are arguing that there hasn’t been a meeting.

“The truth will really only come out when there is an investigation of all the evidence.”

“I always believed that if you know something’s right, and it’s true, you have to represent it and I’m not going to walk away from that.”

19/11/04

“The reality of the meeting at the centre of the controversy is that Mr Windsor has responded badly to personal comments and criticisms about how he was becoming ineffective in his representation of the New England area,” Mr Maguire told reporters in Tamworth.

“The allegations now placed permanently on the parliamentary record, to my detriment, have no foundation in fact,” Mr Maguire said.

“Nor did those allegations, or the actual discussions, have any linkage – as alleged – to Mr Anderson or Mr Macdonald.
“The actual comments, which will no doubt emerge in time, were Mr Windsor’s personal views expressed to a friend, now a past friend.”
“Mr Windsor must seriously consider whether to remain on as the Member for New England in federal parliament.
“He should consider that before the parliament goes back next week.”

19/11/04

So there you have it.  That’s all the evidence freely available and free of cost in the public domain. Is anyone guilty of anything you decide?

That’s what I wrote in November 2004.


And that is why Tony Windsor supported a Labor Government along with the NBN and to show his true independence as he has previously supported a Coalition minority Government in State politics

No Pressure for the Independents

Originally posted at OzForums by Aristotle

Colleagues and scholars from coast to coast and all the ships at sea (and the odd submarine),

Dateline: Australia, Federal Election 2010.

As soon as it became clear that neither of the major parties was going to have a majority of members in the House of Representatives and therefore would not be able to form a government on their own, the political focus has turned to the three rural Independents – Tony Windsor, Rob Oakeshott and Bob Katter – and the role they will play in determining which party will form the next Australian government.

Various commentators, based in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, have professed to know what “type of people” live in these electorates and therefore how they would think and what they would like to see their members do with their votes.

This, of course, is pure speculation by these commentators.

Perhaps the people who would most know – and this is just a thought, mind you – are the three members who actually live in the electorates and have been repeatedly elected by the “type of people” who are their constituents.

Nevertheless, we have been presented with “research” which professes to clear up any confusion as to what the constituents of these three electorates would like their members to do.

On Wednesday August 25, News Limited papers published the results of a Galaxy poll of 600 voters in the rural Independents’ electorates of New England, Lyne and Kennedy, which found 52 per cent of the voters surveyed supporting a Coalition minority government compared to 36 per cent for a Labor minority government.

On Saturday August 28, The Australian newspaper published the results of a Newspoll poll of 1396 voters in the same seats and found similar results, with 54 per cent of voters supporting a Coalition minority government and 34 per cent a Labor minority government.

The Newspoll results also separated out the voters by the party or candidate they voted for in the 2010 election and found, unsurprisingly, 96 per cent of those who voted for the Coalition wanted to see a Coalition minority government and 95 per cent of those who voted for the Labor party wanted to see a Labor minority government.

But here’s the clincher, among those who voted for Tony Windsor, Rob Oakeshott and Bob Katter, 52 per cent suggested that the Independents should support a Coalition government and 34 per cent said they should support Labor.

So there you go, that’s the view of the “type of people” who live in these electorates and voted for an Independent – elect an Abbott minority government. The city based commentators were right and their view is supported by science.

But actually it’s not.

Neither the Galaxy or the Newspoll polls gave the respondents the full, and correct, range of options from which to choose.

While on the surface it appears that it is a binary choice between the Coalition and the ALP; it’s not that at all, as Tony Windsor himself put so clearly when interviewed by Barrie Cassidy on “The Insiders” yesterday,

BARRIE CASSIDY: What about the pressure of opinion polls that clearly show that your electorate prefers Tony Abbott? Are you feeling any pressure from those?

TONY WINDSOR: No not really. I spent a lot of time in the street on Friday and the big message to me was obviously congratulations which I appreciate, but that the electorate would back my judgement either way.

Obviously there’d be Labor people who’d be terribly disappointed if it was the Coalition and National Party voters, 20,000 of them, would be disappointed if I went the other way.

But I think they all recognise that this isn’t a situation of our doing and it’s not just about New England. It is about the governance of the nation and whether we can achieve something that’s relatively stable.

I think we can. But I think that has to be the objective, not the partisan politics of last Saturday. The election is over. The people couldn’t make a determination. They’re asking some others to do so. And I’m quite happy to play a role in that.

The correct and most helpful research that should have been conducted, if it really needed to be conducted at all, was to give the respondents all the options that are actually available to them.

The question should have been:

About the election result in the House of Representatives, which is likely to be a hung parliament, would you most prefer your local member, Tony Windsor, Rob Oakeshott, Bob Katter (as applicable) to:

a. Support an Abbott Coalition minority government

b. Support a Gillard Labor minority government

c. Exercise his own judgement irrespective of which party he chose to support

d. Undecided.

Note: To avoid distorting the results, these options would be rotated between the three different main responses so that no one option was asked first, second or third more often than any other, as is standard research practice.

What was missed in the Galaxy and Newspoll research, and was so simply explained by Tony Windsor, is that these members were elected as Independents to be Independents, and are acting as Independents in the national interest.

To be truly useful, the published research should have dealt with the realities of the political environment in which we find ourselves. As it stands, the published polling means very little.

It’s no wonder Tony Windsor says he is feeling little pressure from the polling results because, in the country quiet, he could clearly hear the true views of his constituents, something that, understandably, would be difficult to hear over the din of the big cities.

This is what the Independents are thinking

“Certainly, Gentlemen, it ought to be the happiness and glory of a representative to live in the strictest union, the closest correspondence, and the most unreserved communication with his constituents. Their wishes ought to have great weight with him; their opinions high respect; their business unremitted attention.

But his unbiased opinion, his mature judgment, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you, to any man, or to any set of men living. These he does not derive from your pleasure. No, nor from the law and the Constitution. They are a trust from Providence, for the abuse of which he is deeply answerable. Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion”.

Edmund Burke, Conservative

Just thought you all may have missed it in the last post.

Returning to Representation

What a brilliant election result! Democracy delivered as democracy is intended. There is or will be a balance of power in both houses of parliament which should by rights produce proper scrutiny of public policy and amend and curb the excess of ideology of the major parties.

This is what the late Peter Andren MP had to say to Australia via Online Opinion in 2002. I don’t agree with it all but I am sympathetic to nearly all of it.

Continue reading

Parental Leave Wars

Mark Bahnisch writes on Unleashed:

The Government’s scheme would pay eligible recipients the adult federal minimum wage ($543.78) for 18 weeks. Other benefits and transfers available would provide support equivalent to six months.

Abbott’s scheme would pay someone on $150 000 a year $75 000 for six months. (The full replacement of the wage being the reason why his plan would cost close to $3 billion dollars rather than the government’s $300 million a year). But someone on less than the current minimum wage would presumably only receive what they earn.

The article goes on to link to the original Larvatus Prodeo post which in turn links to the original Tony Abbott speech.  I attempted to follow that link today and got a 404 error.

However, a quick search of the Liberal Party site from there linked me to something called Direct Action Plan on Paid Parental Leave.  It says:

The Coalition’s Paid Parental Leave scheme will:

  • provide primary carers with 26 weeks paid parental leave, at full replacement pay (up to a maximum salary of $150,000 per annum) or the Federal minimum wage, whichever is greater;
  • be available to all employees in the public and private sector, including contractors and the self-employed; and
  • include superannuation contributions at the mandatory rate of nine per cent.

Carers will not have to be working full-time to access the Coalition’s Paid Parental Leave scheme because it uses the same ‘work-test’ as the government’s proposal which requires:

  • an average of at least one conventional day of paid work a week;
  • over a ‘continuous qualifying period’ which amounts to a least 10 months of the 13 months prior to the expected date of birth.

It shows that those earning less than minimum wage will receive minimum wage on parental leave. It also shows at the very least, the political bare bones of the package shows that the Tony Abbott Coalition’s plan is superior to the one offered under the Rudd government for the parents that would receive parental leave.

Abbott’s Climate Change Policy A Fizzer

It can be read here (pdf) if you have the stomach for it.

This will be achieved without new or increased taxes on Australian industries or increased costs to Australian households and families.

This is the key phrase in the entire policy.  The question then becomes how will they pay for the policy?  After all another statement is:

Our policy will cost $3.2 billion over 4 years, while the ETS costs $40.6 billion over the first four years.

So Abbott’s policy is to find $3.2 billion over 4 years, that’s $800 million a year without any new taxes and without any increased costs.  Surely this shows Abbott and perhaps the Coalition itself are living in a fantasy land.

Barnaby Joyce, Shadow Finance Minister gives the game away on Lateline:

LEIGH SALES: Tony Abbott says the Coalition needs to find $3.2 billion over four years in the Budget to find this. As Finance Minister, where will some of those savings come from?

BARNABY JOYCE: A whole range of issues. I’m too willing to drill into the figures, but let Mr Swan show me the mechanism of how we are going to do it.

Tony Abbott’s Coalition will find “those savings” by cutting back expenditures in other areas of the Budget but they are incapable of saying where as Senator Joyce makes clear.  It does not matter where in the Budget these expenditures are cut, it will result in “increased costs to Australian households and families.”

The only way this proposal and the other proposal in Abbott’s Environment and Climate Change policy can be made tenable is by deficit spending.  Tony Abbott has all ready argued against the current stimulus spending which has taken the budget into deficit as has Barnaby Joyce.

So, either the policy is not credible or the coalition is ignorant to the hypocrisy within their policy.