Archive | March, 2010

Labour’s Australian sister party makes significant gains against Conservative Coalition

29 Mar

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s Australian Labor Party has made significant gains against Tony Abbott’s Coalition in a recent poll.

Despite Abbott’s strong showing in an Australian Iron Man competition on the weekend (and you thought Boris Johnson looked silly on a bike), he hasn’t been able to keep up his momentum in political circles that at one stage saw Rudd’s lead down to only 4 points. In the Australian newspaper, according to the latest Newspoll survey, conducted exclusively for The Australian last weekend, Labor’s primary vote jumped four percentage points to 43 per cent and the Coalition’s primary support fell three points to 38 per cent, a clear election-winning lead on a two-party-preferred basis of 56 per cent for the Rudd government and 44 per cent for the Coalition.

This is a significant lead and is a clear indication that Abbott’s honeymoon may well be over.

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What’s wrong with modern Conservatism?

24 Mar

An article in the Washington Post by E.J. Dionne Jr. , a liberal in the American sense of the word, has raised a number of issues about the current state of conservatism. He correctly points out that conservatism is incredibly important for democracy, and conservatives have made vital contributions for three reasons. I suggest you read his article here for more.

Of course he is right and it is the beauty of our democracy that both the left and right can be represented in our Parliament.

But Dionne goes on to say that the current state of conservatism is dangerous. The Republicans are currently the party of no and are blocking almost everything they can, so much so, that the Democrats have used a Budget Resolution vote, normally used to pass cost saving bills. This say no at any cost oppositional politics is not beneficial to anyone.

Australia is in a similar position at the moment. Kevin Rudd, the Prime Minister and Leader of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) is up against a hostile Senate and a negative Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott. One example is the Emissions Trading Scheme policy that the senate has voted down twice in Australia. Abbott gained the Leadership after a Leadership spill over the second ETS vote, ending the then Coalition policy.

For a while, the Coalition didn’t have a clear policy, but said it would vote against any ALP bill presented. It wasn’t until 2-3 months later that the Coalition came out with an environmental policy, but the policy, with Abbott’s admission, “won’t have every ‘i’ dotted and ‘t’ crossed.” So the Coalition are effectively fighting Labor, but without anything as an alternative.

All-in-all, UK Conservatives aren’t nearly as bad, although, I have a feeling that it may be due to the Westminster system more than anything else. With an unelected upper-house, that rarely other than a few ping-pong bills, really causes a stir. Oppositions will therefore vote against the Government, without fear of being painted too-badly as the bill will generally get through given sufficient time. Although Cameron’s recent interview in regards to Conservative voting policy towards gay rights may prove to be an issue.

I’m not sure what can be done about this as it is a trap that parties fall into whenever they are in opposition to look strong and appease their base. Don’t get me wrong, liberal and progressive style parties often make a similar partisan decision when they are in opposition but Conservatives, as an obvious rule, don’t want to modernise and that includes their own party. Change is difficult and only elections can make an immediate change, but it is important that the ying and yang of politics is restored.

My weekend, from the sublime to the ridiculous (warning graphic images)

23 Mar

The weekend started well last friday when I was at a wedding at the same venue as the English Rugby Team’s training ground where I met Martin Johnson. Even though I’m Australian and I’m trained to hate, it was pretty cool although I felt slightly ridiculous about about wanting a photo with one of the more well known members of the team. Johnny Wilkinson saw the bride and said “are you sure?” which I know was a buzz for the her.

But on Saturday night, a day after the wedding, I started to get some stomach cramps and by bed time, I was in agony. About 3 in the morning, I called my NHS direct who were able to confirm it wasn’t a stroke, heart attack or meningococcal disease (no shit Sherlock) and a nurse would call imminently. It was pretty obvious for even me that I had something wrong with my appendix and I called my father in Australia who is a Doctor. He suggested I go to hospital and we did.

While I was sitting in A&E, about 4 hours after I called NHS direct, the nurse called me. I told her I was already in A&E and her help, that was needed 4 hours ago, was no longer required and that the wait was ridiculous. I then went into see a doctor and he referred me up to the ward where I remained for another 36 hours, not knowing if I was to go under the knife. The nurses were great as were the doctors, although I am the worst patient on earth and was constantly pissed of that a) I didn’t know whether I was going to be cut-up b) no one was telling me anything, mainly because it is a wait and see affliction c) I was imprisoned on a drip d) I was in ridiculous amounts of pain.

Eventually, on Monday afternoon the doctors said my appendix was settling down, so they let me out but I have to take it easy. So expect plenty of blogs over the next day and a half.

Anyway, below are some of the photos of my adventure and again, please note, one is maybe not for the squeamish.

The man is massive. I'm 6 foot 1 btw

It stung going in, but was worse coming out

I don't think I ever met my nurse "Sarah"

My wrist bracelets. I preferred the ones I got from Glastonbury

Like being on a long-haul flight, but with people stabbing me with needles

Like I'm Lindsay Lohan with an ankle locater

Greenpeace takes on Nestle

20 Mar

Greenpeace has taken on Nestle’s KitKat to highlight the use of palm oil in the Nestle product. The harvesting of palm oil has devastated the rainforests in Borneo, which also happens to be the only natural home of the Orangutan.

It’s a heavy ad, very visually intense. What are your thoughts? It is certainly going to be interesting to see how Nestle reacts.

My run-in with intolerance

20 Mar

We all know there is plenty of racism and intolerance out there. The BNP has two EU seats, numerous Councillors, the English Defence League holds regular rallies and extremist numbers are regularly going up – fact. But until last night, I’d never met true intolerance, I don’t run in circles where I would normally come across racists.

Yesterday however, I was at a very enjoyable wedding. But late in the evening, I was chatting with a guest and somehow the discussion got onto climate change. He discussed how he thought it was a load of old claptrap and just a con by the British Government to raise taxes. I obviously disagreed and said it was a global phenomenon and Government’s around the world were starting to take the threat seriously and I pointed out that even the US under Obama was starting to engage with the issue. This gentleman then started on Obama and I think the nicest of the many adjectives he used was to refer to Obama as a slave. His choice of words was abhorrent and ugly and I had no problems telling him so, but he didn’t see what he was doing was wrong. Instead of fighting him, I walked off, disgusted at his opinions.

This clown is a frightening example of a growing sector with society and it needs to be actively fought against. There is nothing that could change this person’s mind, nothing, but the danger is that his opinions spread to his children, friends and colleagues like a virus.

Politicians on both sides of the aisle need to work harder to and work together to stop this intolerance. Politicians should point out the benefits of immigration and of multiculturalism and end divisive talk of capping immigration and the dangers of unfettered population growth. People should realise that immigration has been vital and is important for a strong economy and people should embrace other cultures.I too am an immigrant in this country and I feel that I as well as many other immigrants make Britain stronger.

I feel it is impossible to legislate and condemn people for their thoughts, but it is important that we make intolerance die out. We need to educate children to learn to accept, we need to show people that they have nothing to fear. At the same time we need to encourage positive integration so people no longer fear the unknown. This is perhaps the greatest threat to our democracy and we need to fix it now, before it spreads even further.

Never hold an election when…

19 Mar

This weekend, there are State elections being held in South Australia and Tasmania. Those two important events, plus the discussion about the date of the UK election, although we all know it will be May 6, made me think about the unwritten rules of calling an election in Australia.

Some states and cities have fixed terms, so these rules don’t apply, but Federally and in Queensland, there is a guide as to when you should never, ever call an election. If you have a few more suggestions, let me know.

(For anyone reading this who isn’t Australian, all of our elections are held on a Saturday and of course, we have compulsory voting.)

  • Never hold an election for Rugby League or AFL Grand final weekend. No one cares about soccer, so that’s ok
  • Never hold an election during an ashes test, or the first test of any series to be honest
  • Never hold an election during the holidays or any long weekends
  • Never hold an election during school holidays in December or January (summer holidays)

Obama’s healthcare probably won’t go through this week

18 Mar

Barack Obama has just announced that he has postponed his trip to Australia until at least June, which doesn’t bode well for the immediate future of his healthcare bill.

His bill needs to go through, for the sake of his Presidency and the health of the American people, so he is staying home to lobby for votes. He was due to address a special joint-sitting of the Australian Parliament and had previously shortened his trip so that it was just the one night, but now it is off for a couple of months.

Presumably, he is also postponing his trip to Indonesia and Asia as well, so potentially this bill has also tarnished his position globally. This is very possibly why relations with Israel are struggling so badly.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has already, very cleverly, started to turn a negative into a political positive, by saying he feels an affinity with Obama as they are both facing significant problems with each other’s Senate. Rudd has been pointing out that the Liberal-National Coalition has been blocking significant legislation and Rudd and his cabinet has been calling opposition leader, Tony Abbott, Dr No.