Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Federal Labor To Invest $23 Million In Health Services for Clarence Valley

Federal Labor announced today that it would invest $23 million in Grafton without conditions attached. This measure forms part of Federal Labor's $2.5 billion health and hospitals reform plan.

Labor promises that this funding will include:
"$5 million for a new GP Super Clinic - to take pressure off Grafton Base Hospital; and
$18 million for capital upgrades at Grafton Base Hospital.
The $18 million for the redevelopment of Grafton Base Hospital is to help upgrade the emergency department and complete three new operating theatres.
Federal Labor has chosen Grafton for a GP Super Clinic because of recognised shortages of general practitioners in the region.
Unlike Mr Howard, Federal Labor will not require much needed funds to be spent on additional bureaucrats or a hospital board."

This is very welcome news for a local government area whose demographics contain a significant number of people on low incomes and a very high percentage of elderly residents, both groups heavily reliant on Medicare and with limited transport options.
Bravo Labor!

Full Federal Labor media release:

http://www.alp.org.au/media/1007/mshealoo311.php

Campaign Day 17

Still trying to figure out why the Deputy Prime Minister Mark Vaile seems to be questioning the very existence of climate change - after all the information his government has received confirming that Australia was in for a torrid time. Until now I hadn't realised the man probably has a few kangaroos loose in the top paddock. Should have remembered the Nationals performance when the AWB scandal broke.

The 2007 Treasurers Debate - Costello 0 Swann 0 The Worm 1

Yesterday's National Press Club-sponsored debate between Treasurer Peter Costello and Shadow-Treasurer Wayne Swann clearly showed that the now famous Worm was more interesting than Swann and a lot more honest than Costello.
 
Nevertheless, Wayne Swann acquitted himself reasonably well after a nervous start and didn't present as the financial bogeyman previously predicted by the Coalition.
Costello disappointed as he danced around one question and like his leader harked back to the past rather than outlining a solid vision for the future. The phrase 'financial tsunami' was conspicuously absent from his vocabulary during the debate. While his straight-faced assertion of constant solidarity with John Howard was very amusing.
 
The Age discusses the debate:
 

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Exclusive Brethren's easy access to the PM's ear

Getting access to PM Howard and Ministers in the Coalition government is, for most people, not an easy task, but members of the Exclusive Brethren don't seem to have such troubles.



What's so special about them?



Perhaps the ABC's reports that "a former member of the Exclusive Brethren has revealed the secretive religious sect has been transferring large sums of money across the world, possibly to fund political campaigns in Australia and the US" provides an explanation as to why thet get 'special treatment'.

The full report is at http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/10/15/2059279.htm?site=elections/federal/2007



On October 15, ABC TV's Four Corners provided an informative examination of the machinations of the Exclusive Brethren. See the program at

http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/special_eds/20071015/brethren/default.htm



Are the Exclusive Brethren on the nose, or what?



PM Howard and his Ministers who have provided Exclusive Brethren members with easy access to them defend their actions by saying that the EB are like any other constituents and have the right of access to elected representatives. Sure, but why do they get to the front of the queue so easily AND so often? Something ain't right!

Those two major election campaigns


From The Daily Verdict at:
http://www.crikey.com.au/

Latest Newspoll: 30 October 2007

Newspoll released its latest polling this morning. Labor stands at 54% and the Coalition at 46% on a two-party preferred count.
According to Possum Pollytics fluctuations in the minor party vote estimates are a factor in the volatility of the two-party preferred figures over the last 10 months.
There is scant good news in this latest poll for either the Libs or Nats, as Labor continues to hold a fairly steady lead on both primary and TTP points.
Most political commentators are saying that the Howard team will still lose badly come November 24.
Over the next couple of weeks we can confidently expect that more money will be thrown at the electorate by John Howard as he tries to buy more votes to improve his chance of re-election.

Campaign Day 16

Every time I turn on the tellie there's Sue Page telling me that the Nationals team will 'get the balance right between the environment, development and tourism'.
Er, Sue - wouldn't you have to be in local government to have a genuine stab at this?
Or are you signalling that the Nationals intend a putsch against North Coast councils?

Monday, 29 October 2007

John Howard, the I-never-said-it-I-didn't-promise-it-wasn't-me Prime Minister

During the first three weeks of this election campaign John Howard has clearly demonstrated that he finds it impossible to own up to past mistakes and take responsibility for the results of his own actions.
 
This reached the far heights of absurdity when he repeatedly sought to rewrite the history of his interest rates promise at the 2004 election and when he attempted a clumsy duck 'n' weave over that Kyoto question.
 
Howard's non-core promises have become a bitter joke for many Australians. His former election policy platforms are littered with broken promises.
 
So perhaps it is time to recall his victory speeches from past years to decide if he lived up to the words and spirit of his expressed sentiments.
 
Here's a sample from the 9 October 2004 election victory speech:
"To be the prime minister of Australia is undoubtedly the greatest privilege that can come the way of any person. I will never forget, I will never loss contact with, I'll never misunderstand the nature of the honour and the privilege that's been given to me."
 
To judge for yourself trawl through other campaign transcripts at:

Are some MPs trying to make a little on the side?

A report out of West Australia alleges that MPs are betting on the November federal election results.
 
While in South Australia the Coalition shows that it is not just Cabinet solidarity which is fraying at the edges.
The Murray Valley Standard article:
 
This is a l-o-n-g election campaign. Obviously wearing on candidates and stretching the tolerance of voters.

Chris Gulaptis gets serve from local voter

Letter to the Editor in The Daily Examiner today.
 
"Campaign
 
INTO my mailbox last week came a letter that made me wish the election were on tomorrow.
  The Nationals candidate for Page (Casino and Lismore, Ballina, Grafton and all the towns in between) writes that he offers a 'country focus'.
  But I ask him, after 11 years in office where is the completed Pacific Highway, where is the funding for rural education and decent health and dental services?
  The Nationals candidate for Page writes that he will focus on water but his party said it will dam the Clarence.
  His glossy green and gold brochure explains that we should look forward to a Howard/Vaile team but we all know that we will have a Costello.
  This Nationals man goes on to vilify unions, but they are the only group uniquely organised to combat the excesses of the National's extreme WorkChoices legislation.
  He tells me that young people will get better services.
  A trip to Iran perhaps?
  Why would anyone vote for Mr. Howard and the Nationals?
  Oh yes that's right...they'll keep interest rates down.
 
 PETER LANYON
 Lillian Rock"

Howard Government not impressing most mums

"FIFTY-five per cent of women do not believe the level of support for women with children has progressed in the past 10 years under the Howard Government, a survey released today shows. The survey by The Heat Group, a leading marketer to women, also found 25 per cent of women surveyed would happily have a third child if the Government recognised the critical need for support."
Full News.com.au story:
 http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,22666055-29277,00.html

Why Howard's fear campaign hits all the wrong buttons.

The Coalition camp thought it was on a winner when it began its election campaigning almost nine months before the polling date was declared. 
It also thought that it would replicate its past success with fear and smear tactics, forgetting that these rely on the short, sharp shock factor for maximum effectiveness.
 
Still, all might have been well in the Coalition camp if it hadn't also decided to 'focus the fear' on trade union power and membership.
 
Lulled by all that talk of declining union membership, it forgot to look at history. Union membership was running at about 1 million in the 1940s, 1.6 million in the 1950s, 2.4 million in the 1970s and 3 million in the early 1990s. This means that there are a great many Australian households where either Mum, Dad, Uncle, Grandad or Great-Grandad are or were at one time union members.
 
So when the media is saturated with negative anti-union ads this far out from polling day, ordinary Australians have had time to recall that they were actually rather fond of Great-Grandad and that he was an honest, upright man.Then turn baleful eyes on those politicians suggesting otherwise.
 
I wonder whose stupid idea it was to attack the rellies?

Twister leaves trail of destruction - Lismore declared natural disaster zone


ABC North Coast radio has announced the declaration of a natural disaster area in the Lismore district due to severe storm damage.

Twister as it approaches Dunoon on the NSW North Coast.


The Northern Star describes twister:
http://www.northernstar.com.au/localnews/storydisplay.cfm?storyid=3753461&thesection=localnews&
thesubsection=&thesecondsubsection=

YouTubers a real worry for Lib campaign

In The Australian this morning one view is that the Coalition is casting about for someone to blame.
 
"Still trailing in the opinion polls, some Liberals are blaming the Prime Minister's fixation with the past and the Coalition's conflicting messages for neutralising some good days for the Government's campaign. 
Liberal insiders are concerned that voters are being confused by "enthusiastic amateurs" putting their own guerilla campaign advertising and messages on YouTube and other websites." 
 
Psst, Mr. Liberal Insider. I don't think many voters are confused. Amused maybe. Watching the political debate being taken out of your hands and those of your main rivals is the only refreshing aspect of this long election campaign.

The Australian on YouTube, polls and disquieting campaigns:
 http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,22663800-601,00.html

A little gratuitous gay bashing by Liberal candidate

I won't dignify this nonsense with a quote. Go look at the ill-founded and misinformed words of the Liberal candidate for Lalor for yourself.
The Age article yesterday:
 http://www.theage.com.au/news/federalelection2007news/homosexuality-a-perversion-says-lib-candidate/2007/10/27/1192941402698.html

Campaign Day 15

Noticed what John Howard is not mentioning this election? His grand plan for a national identity card masquerading as the Access smart card.
Not one word. Rather similar to the situation at the last election when Work Choices conveniently slipped his mind.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Has Australia stopped listening to Howard & Co?

According to Possum Comitatus the current four poll average sees Labor at 55.25% against a Coalition at 44.75%. With the posited current uniform swing resulting in a Parliament composed of 94 Labor seats and 56 non-Labor seats.
Yesterday The Australian observed that: "The mood has simply shifted: a hard political decision was needed and is being made without rancour or sentimentality. Politicians have to make hard decisions and at other times voters do."
Smart money is also now being laid on a Labor victory.
In light of the lack of significant poll bounce from Howard's election cash giveaway, the question has to be asked - is Australia no longer listening to the Prime Minister?
Have we all been asked to swallow one Coalition political lie too many and have therefore grown distrusting or resentful?
Or is it that we are simply seeking change for change sake?
I'm sure that Howard & Co. are attempting to comfort themselves with the latter explanation, but I suspect that many Australians are uncomfortable with the increasingly rigid, right-wing Australia that eleven years of John Howard has produced and are quietly wishing the man away.
 
The latest from Possum Polytics:
The Australian full article:

Campaign Day 14

Well blow me down with a feather.
John Howard finally admits the "keep interest rates at record lows" ad from his last election campaign was dishonest and had to be taken off air.
Then Joe Hockey blurts out that the current Coalition campaign against Labor's industrial relations policy is actually a fear campaign.
But what is truly amazing is that either bloke would think for a minute that we didn't already know this. Rabbits, both of them.

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Why Gloria Jean's coffee doesn't taste too good

Paul MacDermott on The Sideshow (ABC TV, October 27) provided a hint as to why Gloria Jean's coffee tastes so poorly. MacDermott said that Hillsong Church members denied rigging Australian Idol because they were too busy rigging the Australian election.

When thinking about Hillsong ... add Gloria Jean's to your thoughts.

http://www.journeyonline.com.au/showArticle.php?categoryId=1&articleId=692

Another of Howard's little secrets: Kyoto

News.com.au reports today that PM Howard is refusing to deny Cabinet considered but rejected a proposal to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on climate change just six weeks ago.

ABC TV news is reporting Malcom Turnbull unsuccessfully tried to convince Prime Minister John Howard to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

Read the report http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,22657337-29277,00.html

Watch ABC TV news
http://www.abc.net.au/reslib/200710/r194870_739472.asx

So, what should be made of this news? Yet again, there's disquiet in the Coalition camp.

NSW North Coast lashed by severe storms

News today on yesterday's storms:
"Large hailstones and destructive winds battered the north coast towns of Dunoon, Grafton, Byron Bay and Mullumbimby late yesterday afternoon.
Dunoon, 10km north of Lismore, was the hardest hit.
A Country Energy spokesman said 30 crew members were working today to restore power to 75 homes in the small town, where 20 houses have severe roof damage.
The spokesman said power should be restored to Dunoon by 3pm (AEST)."

Full News.com.au article:

Labor's new Freedom of Information policy

Yesterday Federal Labor announced a re-vamping of Freedom of Information and Privacy legislation if it wins government. Not perfect, but better than the Howard Government's long rort of the terms 'transparency' and 'accountability'.
Journalists should welcome this attempt to protect them from punitive harassment by government.
The Australian Law Reform Commission might also reasonably expect a less obstructive response to its own recommendations.
 
This is what a Rudd Labor Government says it will do:
  • Bring together the functions of privacy protection and freedom of information in an Office of the Information Commissioner – to streamline and fast-track information policy across government;
  • Preserve the existing role of the Privacy Commissioner – to protect individual privacy;
  • Abolish conclusive (non-reviewable) certificates from the FOI process – which stymie genuine requests by allowing Ministers to arbitrarily deny the release of information – For example, Treasurer Peter Costello refused to release information on income tax bracket creep and data on the First Time Home Owners scheme;
  • Support reasonable changes to current journalist shield laws to protect their sources and ensure that a responsible journalist is never again prosecuted for a story that is "merely embarrassing" to a government;
  • Pursue national reform of suppression orders in court proceedings through the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General; and
  • Provide best-practice legislation and expansion of protection for public interest disclosure whistleblowers protecting them from retribution – such as the customs officer, Mr Alan Kessing, who blew the whistle on organised crime, lax airport security and inadequate policing.

"Background – FOI refusals – full or in part
In the period 1997-98 to 2005-06, the Howard Government refused full access to 75, 064 information requests; of those 57,975 were refused in part and 17,089 refused completely.

In the period 2005-06, the Howard Government refused full access to 8,655 information requests; of those 6,298 refused in part and 2,357 were refused completely"

ALP media release:
Executive Summary of Labor's Information Policy:
Full policy document:

"The Age" on Page

The Age yesterday on the Liberals struggle for traditional heartland.

"Other Coalition seats under threat are Dobell on the central coast, Eden-Monaro — the New Hampshire of Australian elections — bordering the ACT, and Page on the north coast, held by the retiring National MP Ian Causley. Although he leaves a comfortable 5.5 per cent margin, an influx of seachange retirees has radically changed the demographic make-up, pushing climate-change issues to the fore."

http://www.theage.com.au/news/federalelection2007news/libs-struggle-for-heartland/2007/10/25/1192941243841.html?page=fullpage#contentSwap1

It's the C-L-I-M-A-T-E, you idiots!

Findings in the United Nations GEO 4 report released on 25 October 2007 have huge implications for Australia.
 
These findings tell us that climate change is occurring faster than originally anticipated and that we have all talked for too long without doing anything significant about addressing either root causes, mitigation or adaptation measures.
 
The CSIRO informed us only a few months ago that the NSW North Coast could expect higher temperatures, changes to rainfall patterns, less surface and underground freshwater, more severe storms, stronger flooding and seawater eating into some of our populated coastal areas.
Not in two hundred years, not in one hundred years, not in fifty years, but anytime from now on.
 
Yet Howard, Costello & Co. want to focus on the supposed financial tsunami which will overwhelm us if Labor's industrial policies come into play. Almost as an afterthought yesterday the Prime Minister released a promise of renewable energy funding which only plays catch up to where Australia's fledgling renewable energy industries should have been a decade ago.
 
Brief one-liners on the environment from local Nationals candidates do nothing to instil confidence in any future Coalition response either.
 
Federal Labor may not have covered itself in climate change glory so far in the campaign, but at least it has consistently recognised the urgency of our position and is likely to be able to successfully carry off a true national response to the now almost unavoidable climate change impacts we can expect.

Friday, 26 October 2007

Campaign Day 12

It seems that during this election campaign the North Coast is awash with visiting political heavies from the major political parties.
Howard, Vaile, Downer, Abetz, Rudd, Albanese, Garrett, to name but a few.
Where were they all between elections? Or didn't we matter then?
Even our own sitting members rarely visited parts of their electorates during the last four years.

Did you know? #2

There are 13,645,073 people now enrolled to vote at the Federal Election on 24 November.
A whopping 2,558,475 of these are voters 65 years of age and older and 15,646 are young people who will turn 18  by election day.
New South Wales has 4,495,336 voters enrolled.

North Coast life in Howard's lucky country

The Northern Rivers Echo reports on the facts of life for many North Coast residents.
On Lismore Neighbourhood Centre foodbank:
 
The situation in the Lismore area is mirrored up and down the coast in varying degree. No work or too few part-time hours of work, inadequate pensions or benefits, high rents, rising food and transport costs make life hard for many.
From Coffs to the Tweed this morning many breakfast tables have little or no food on them.
 
It is so very easy for politicians cushioned by their parliamentary pay packets, political commentators safe in their media towers and working professionals with steady incomes to underestimate the level of quiet desperation that exists on the NSW North Coast.
Whenever these groups get an inkling they usually call for debate, investigation or their own re-election.
 
But economic dynamics and social disadvantage have been studied and talkfested to death. What is needed is practical response.
 
When John Howard became Prime Minister the North Coast socio-economic profile was similar to what it is today, yet under Howard and despite national growth the divide between rich and poor in this country has widened and our region still suffers structural inequality.
 
Being poor on the North Coast is both personal and political.                             
Use your vote wisely.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Who is the laziest, most indolent, unimaginative treasurer in Australia's post-war history?

Former PM Paul Keating gave Peter Costello a real serve today. Speaking at the opening of Greg Combet's campaign to hold the Newcastle seat of Charlton for Labor, Keating described Costello as the "laziest, most indolent, unimaginative treasurer in our post-war history".

Q: What does that really mean?
A: Costello rates lower than Howard.


Read The Age's report on this at: http://www.theage.com.au/news/National/Menzies-was-trade-union-hero-Keating/2007/10/25/1192941212040.html

Campaign Day 11

John Howard and Peter Costello have been in the news warning Australians that we should all be afraid of recession under Labor. Fair crack of the whip! I'm already supposed to be afraid of boat people, al Qaeda, weapons of mass destruction, Iraq, Korea, Iran, Aboriginals with unfettered access to their own welfare payments and Sudanese refugees - I don't have room for any more of your fears.  

Nationals Chris Gulaptis plays 'me too'

Nationals candidate, Chris Gulaptis has come out against nuclear power plants being established in the Page electorate.
 
"Mr Gulaptis yesterday became the latest Coalition figure to speak out against nuclear power with a single line at the bottom of a statement spruiking the Howard Government's record on green and renewable energy sources. "Along with a vast majority of locals I do not support nuclear power," the statement said."
 
Unfortunately Chris Gulaptis would be rightly viewed as a political lightweight by a re-elected John Howard and a vote for Gulaptis would not protect this electorate from Howard's nuclear energy policy.
 

Possum Comitatus on the 'coalition of the stiffed'

Selected quotes Possum Comitatus yesterday in Crikey.com.au:
 "The "It's Time" factor seems to be on the tips of politically fashionable lips everywhere at the moment, but what is interesting with the whole "It's Time" thing is the underlying dynamics of it that have been going on over the last six years or so. One of the more well argued theories about the Howard government is that there has been two Howard governments, the one that went from 1996 through to the Ryan by-election of 2001, and the one we've had since. The former was the fiscally prudent, measured and relatively cautious government, the latter is the big spending, whatever it takes, wedge first and clean up the mess later government. The Responsible vs. Populist faces of the Howard administration writ large. ------People have good memories when it comes to being on the wrong side of a wedge, the losing side of a porkbarrel or the neglected side of a voting demographic. That alone reduces the long term power of the populist approach. People remember when they've been screwed far more than they remember when they've been electorally smooched."

John Howard - a tired political whore

Think the post title too harsh? Nah.
After spending years attempting ways to bring the Disability Support Pension down to the level of unemployment benefits and consistently refusing to grant the utilities allowance to disabled pensioners, now John Howard is afraid he might lose this election he begins to throw money at those people on a full disabled pension.
Political whore - you bet!
Sydney Morning Herald article:
 http://www.smh.com.au/news/federalelection2007news/howard-resorts-to-the-oldest-trick-in-book/2007/10/23/1192941065553.html

How they're doing on climate change policy

The Australian Conservation Foundation and Climate Institute were reported in The Age yesterday as rating the Coalition at 23% and Labor at 40% on their respective climate change policies released so far in the election campaign.
 
According to the newspaper, Kevin Rudd "at least sports several more coats of green than Mr Howard's instant-dry single layer."
 
John Howard's minimalist approach to tackling climate change continues, his pledge to use revenue raised (from yet to be fully-defined and implemented emissions trading scheme) to assist low income earners is only tinkering at the edges.
 
On past performance, Howard is likely to drag his heels on this emissions trading scheme if re-elected.
 
I look forward to Federal Labor's announcement of its renewable energy targets. With the NSW North Coast likely to feel the full impact of climate change sooner rather than later, renewable energy as a tool to combat climate change is increasingly important.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Campaign Day 10

Considered Howard's pledge to up pensioners utility allowance. Thought real hard. Decided - no, John, you can't buy this pensioner's vote.

One of the biggest local political whoppers of the season

"New tax cuts pledged by Federal Treasurer Peter Costello will disproportionately benefit North Coast residents because the reductions are skewed towards lower income earners who make up much of the local workforce, according to Page Nationals candidate Chris Gulaptis."
Full quote:
 
Why Chris Gulaptis would make such a statement beggars belief. Any increase in take-home pay for low income earners pales in comparison to the windfall Howard and Costello would be giving the big end of town with these new tax cuts.
 
Mr. Gulaptis himself, who in the past has bragged about a very comfortable income, would receive more money from these proposed tax cuts than the average North Coast worker.
 
Under this tax package, those North Coast residents with the lowest incomes (people whose sole income is a government pension or other payment) will not receive any relief from the disproportionate total amount of Federal GST they pay each fortnight.

Most marginal Liberal seat in Australia

According to The Age on Monday, only 60 voters in the South Australian seat of Kingston need to change their vote on 24 November for Labor's Amanda Rishworth to win.
Given Labor's consistently good showing in the opinion polls this would have to be the nearest thing to a certainty.
Ms. Rishworth is probably hunting for Canberra accommodation as we speak.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

The Retiring Member for Page

The ABC's Election Analyst Antony Green has provided a potted summary of the retiring Member for Page, Ian Causley (see below).

Interestingly, Green fails to mention the "all-round, A-1 contribution" Causley made to the Coalition's cause in NSW with his decision to resign from the NSW State parliament and move to the big end of politics in Canberra.

Causley resigned his position as the State Member for Clarence, stood for and was elected as the Federal Member for Page. It was a top decision and a great result for Ian personally, but his action allowed Labor's Harry Woods to be elected and fill the vacant spot he created in the NSW parliament.

So what? The election of Woods provided the Carr government with just the buffer it needed to ensure it was safely out of harm's reach from a Coalition opposition that could have been within a whisker, perhaps even a death bed's breath, of securing the reigns of government in NSW.

Causley has maintained his criticism of fellow Coalitionists for not providing him with a Federal ministerial position which he claims he was promised when he stood for and was elected to Federal parliament.

Perhaps, unlike Causley, others in the Coalition were perceptive enough to recognise the damage Causley's decision to move from State to Federal politics did to the Coalition's prospects at the state level and decided to reward him accordingly with a back bench spot.

However, like his fellow Nationals mates who have kowtowed to the Liberals, Causley was eventually provided with a reward for services rendered and given a job-for-the-boys position that provided him with a lot more pocket money than a poorly paid backbencher. Yes, that's right - - - - he was elevated to the position of Deputy Speaker - - - - a position that would keep him quiet and, hopefully, stop him running off and forming a small ginger group.

Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for the retiring Member for Page.



http://www.abc.net.au/elections/federal/2007/guide/departingmps.htm

Ian Causley (NAT)
Page (NSW)
67 year-old Causley was a cane grower and company director before being elected to the NSW Parliament in 1984. A Minister in both the Greiner and Fahey governments, he served as Minister for Natural Resources 1988-90, Water Resources 1990-91, Natural Resources again 1991-93, before moving to the Agriculture, Fisheries and Mines portfolio. He fought the 1991 NSW election with a brain tumour, being forced to take time off afterwards to recover from an operation. Transferring to Federal politics after the defeat of the Fahey government in 1995, he won Page back for the Nationals after two terms in Labor hands. In his eleven years in Federal Parliament, he has been one of the National Party's back-bench critics of various 'economic rationalist' reforms.

Campaign Day 8

Comparing the opinion polls and thinking - surely Howard is on his way out.

Howard heckled, again

News .com.au reports on the campaign trail this morning:
PRIME Minister John Howard has been heckled for the second day running during his early morning walk. Mr Howard is in Adelaide today and was walking along the banks of the River Torrens when a passing rower jeered him. "Bloody arsehole", the middle-aged man yelled at Mr Howard.------Yesterday, Mr Howard was enjoying his regular early morning walk along the shore of Canberra's Lake Burley Griffin when another walker shouted at him. "You're a disgrace, John," the man said."
 
Tut, tut, tut. Booed at not one but two footy grand finals and now this.
 
According to The Age, the Prime Minister's response to growing negative voter perception is to say, "I'm not going to change."
 
Think that attitude might be half the problem, John.

Nice sentiment from the Nationals candidate for Richmond, but..

The Courier Mail reported today:
"One Nationals candidate - Sue Page for the northern NSW seat of Richmond - yesterday vowed to continue to speak out against nuclear plants, despite Prime Minister John Howard's support for the power source as a way to tackle climate change. Dr Page opposes nuclear power stations or waste storage facilities on the north coast or anywhere else in Australia. Sitting alongside Mr Vaile - who is also leader of the federal Nationals - at Kingscliff yesterday, she defended her right to speak publicly when she disagreed with Coalition policy. "The Prime Minister is not the leader of my party," said Dr Page, arguing her stand against nuclear power reflects the views of the Richmond electorate."
 
Nice sentiment from this first time candidate. However, with no political capital to call on, Dr. Page would have a snowflake's chance of changing the position of a re-elected Howard Government on the issue of nuclear power.
 
NSW North Coast communities need to keep a wary eye on the nuclear power debate and consider their voting options now.

Inflation number could be the election decider in 2007

This is the first time that a rate rise has been mooted during a Federal Election campaign.
 
However, although financial heavy Goldman Sachs JB Were is concerned about inflationary pressures it is predicting that the Reserve Bank will try to avoid raising the interest rate during such a politically sensitive period.
 
Presumably that king hit on small business and working families is likely to come soon after polling day.
 
Coincidentally, until he first stood for election Malcolm Turnbull was a partner in the Goldman Sachs group.

Minties moments during the 2007 Election campaign

Letter to the Editor in The Daily Examiner today.

"Life's little ironies

THE 2007 Federal election campaign is already revealing some of life's little ironies.
In the 2001 Queens Birthday Honours list the Australian Government presented Janelle Saffin, the present Labor candidate for Page, with an award for volunteer work in East Timor. This award was signed by Prime Minister John Howard and the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
In the week the Howard Government launched its 'unionists under the bed' scare campaign, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Joe Hockey declared unions increasingly irrelevant and Health Minister Tony Abbot admitted he had been an active unionist.
Federal Treasurer Peter Costello, who briefly tried to resurrect the supposed Australian communist menace, was caught out on the internet: "It is a matter of record that in the period 1976-1980 Mr. Costello was a supporter of the Labor Party, compulsory student unionism, and student income support grants set at 120 per cent of the poverty line. He is on record as saying his faction in national student politics was "the democratic Left", expressed left-wing views on many issues when interviewed by student newspapers, and frequently attended self-described "Social Democrat" training programs along with many people who have since gone on to become trade union officials. Furthermore, during 1979 Mr. Costello and his faction were allied, firstly with the pro-Chinese communists to campaign for disaffiliation from the Australian Union of Students, and then with the Communist Party of Australia to push through structural changes to AUS at a Special Council of the organisation. At the same Special Council Mr. Costello stated his strong support for the AUS Women's Department, whose platform stated that it was "part of a continuing revolutionary process, the purpose of which is to attack patriarchy, racism, capitalism and the nature of society as a whole" . [http://larvatusprodeo.net,20.10.07].
Nationals candidate for Page, Chris Gulaptis who is campaigning in part on a need to protect the environment, had a meeting last week with Lismore Climate Action Group at which he demonstrated that he knows next to nothing about global warming [http://au.groups.yahoo.com].
I wonder how many other Minties moments this election will bring?

JUDITH M MELVILLE,
Yamba."

Latest Newspoll - Labor 58 Coalition 42 two-party preferred

"THERE'S more bad news for the Federal Government today with the latest opinion poll showing Labor opening up a huge election-winning lead.

As the second week of the election campaign kicks into full swing, a Newspoll out today shows Labor up two points to 58 per cent on the two-party preferred vote, and the coalition down two points to 42 per cent.

If this 16-point margin were repeated at the ballot box on November 24, the Government would be routed.

The poll, published in The Australian, found Labor leader Kevin Rudd increased his lead as preferred prime minister by two points to lead John Howard 50 per cent to 37.

Labor's primary vote rose three points to 51 per cent, while the coalition's dipped one point to 38 per cent.

The survey was conducted after Labor unveiled a tax policy last week that almost mirrored the Government's package of tax cuts released last Monday.

The Newspoll figures are even more remarkable in that they were taken before Sunday night's leaders' debate, which most commentators judged Mr Rudd to have won.

The poll is certain to send a shudder through Government ranks, as it shows Mr Howard has not just failed to achieve a bounce from a strong week of campaigning - he's actually gone backwards."

Full News.com.au article on latest Newspoll:
 http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,22633168-29277,00.html
 
Complete breakdown of The Australian Newspoll:
 

Monday, 22 October 2007

Truth as a 'convenience' during the 2007 Federal Election?

Despite The Daily Examiner reporting today that the Federal Minister for Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Eric Abetz  had recently informed the Clarence River Fishermen's Co-operative that a Howard-Vaile Government would never build a dam on the Clarence River, this post in A Clarence Valley Protest  places the senator's assurances in a less than favourable light.
 
"Today the Prime Minister released the C'wealth Water Commission first biennial assessment of the National Water Initiative.

This documents states that there should "be consideration all water supply options".
See:
http://www.nwc.gov.au/nwi/biennial_assessment/
overall_findings.cfm

It further recommends removal of '"policy bans" on any water supply option and require objective consideration of all options (including recycled water, desalination, rural-to-urban trade, new dams, inter-basin transfers, and cross-border transfers)'.
See:
http://www.nwc.gov.au/nwi/biennial_assessment/
recommendations_to_coag.cfm

It seems that no matter what the considered opinion of the Clarence Valley community is, in relation to the inadvisability of interbasin water transfer, the Howard Government will not be brooked in its desire to steal our freshwater.

Full copy of the Intergovernmental Agreement on a National Water Initiative:
http://www.nwc.gov.au/nwi/docs/
iga_national_water_initiative.pdf"

Morgan Poll on that debate

Most believe Kevin Rudd won leaders' debate

An overview of the reaction to the John Howard - Kevin Rudd debate: 
 http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,22626164-29277,00.html

Don't mention the war in 2007

Given the number of people on the NSW North Coast who publicly protested Australia's participation in the US war against Iraq, it is time that Nationals candidates in the Federal Election came clean and told us their personal positions on this war.
 
"Don't mention the war" just doesn't cut it with many in the electorate.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Election 2007 Leaders Debate: Rudd 1 Howard 0

From my personal perspective, John Howard came out at second best in tonight's televised Election 2007 Leaders Debate.
 
He failed because right from the start he bullied his way into overtime in defiance of set rules of the debate.
 
He failed because he spoke more in generalities than specifics.
 
He failed because he offered very little in the way of new policy, rather relying on his assessment of years past.
 
He failed because he allowed his suppressed anger to show throughout.
 
He failed because he refused to directly answer a number of questions.
 
He failed because he continued to under-estimate Kevin Rudd.
 
He failed because he repeatedly and erroneously stated that 70% of the ministry of a Labor government would be former trade union officials. 
 
He failed because he is a Prime Minister who has been too long in office.

Red faces all round for Howard camp

On 15 October 2007, when John Howard told ABC radio listeners that 70% of the ministry in a Labor government would be former trade union officials, he was relying on the fact that the spoken word contains a degree of deniability.
Unfortunately for the Prime Minister his claim has now made it into very specific campaign literature and Wayne Swan quite rightly points out that not only is this statistic wrong but that he has never been a union official as alleged.
Nor it seems have many Labor MPs who are likely to makeup the front bench if Labor forms government.
Mr. Howard should have made certain that his suspect claim remained oral - after all, we can all do the sums but might have decided that we were mistaken about what he had actually said.
Now we wait for the Leaders Debate to start tonight, with Howard's gaffe ringing in our ears courtesy of SBS World News.

Nationals go for youth vote in ads, but have they done the follow up and is the audience listening?

The Nationals have announced an election ad campaign targeting the Australian youth vote on YouTube. Describing those candidates featured as "young talent".


However on the YouTube YouthVote 2007 webpage today the site was still asking local Nationals candidates to provide campaign video clips.
Among those North Coast Nationals still being asked was, you guessed it, Chris Gulaptis.
One of those Nationals featured in the new campaign advertisements.

While on MySpace a search for Chris Gulaptis on a similar youth page brings up zero.

Word is that like many middleaged people the Nationals candidate for Page is barely computer literate. He is obviously relying on the group video to get his message across.
Nationals candidate for Richmond, Sue Page appears to be more on the ball and Internet savvy.

The group Nationals video is not exactly taking off - with YouTube listing less than two thousand video views.
To view campaign videos:
http://www.youtube.com/thenationals

Ronald Regan moment during the 2007 election campaign

Ronald Regan, before he ceased being US President, was becoming notorious for very public episodes of mental confusion and memory loss.
 
Last Saturday while addressing a crowd at the Granny Smith Festival in his own electorate of Bennelong, Prime Minister John Howard quite obviously forgot the who and where of his audience.
 
In full rhetorical flight he called on "Mr. Speaker". Thereby demonstrating that for one moment he thought he was still on his feet in the House of Representatives.
 
I guess that Labor candidate for Bennelong, Maxine McKew was lucky he didn't call a censure motion to curb her obvious enjoyment of this local festival.

Australia googles in election year

Ever wondered just how many times people may be searching for information about political party leaders in 2007?
 
Or how many times this year people were searching for mention of WorkChoices?
Google trends for WorkChoices:
 
Curious about how many Australian searchers are looking for articles on the Iraq war?
Google trends for Iraq War:

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Further to what a cop out

My previous post titled " Further to what a cop out. ..." contained a real howler. Yes, it should have been "Nationals' Chris Gulaptis cannot tell the time of day."

However, whilst thinking about my error the following little ripper came to mind.

Below is the first release of the Gulaptis webpage. Take a look at it and see how little polish the Nationals' candidate had when he first went to the world wide web. The candidate, or his mates, could not get his name right.

Copywrite (???) 2007 Chris Gulapolis (???) ....!!!!

Would the real candidate please stand up.


***********************************
"My priorities are local issues and family values. I will fight for local infrastructure including the Pacific Highway upgrade and better local health services. Local residents deserve continued strong local representation in the Federal Government."
- Chris Gulaptis


About Chris
Chris Gulaptis is 53 years old, he is married to Vicki, a local fitness instructor, and they have two adult sons. The Gulaptis family have lived in the Clarence Valley for the past 27 years. Chris is a qualified surveyor, he has run is own small business and currently works as a consultant for local firm Aspect North. Chris is a former Mayor of Maclean and currently serves as a Clarence Valley Councillor. He has topped the polls in every election he has contested. He has played an active role in the community since 1998, when he became President of the Maclean High School P & C.

Other organisations he has been involved with include:
President of the Institute of Surveyors NSW - North Coast Branch 1997 - 1998
Chair of the North Coast Computer Project (2003 - current)
Director of the Grafton Regional Gallery Foundation (2004 - current)
Member of Clarence Ahead (2004 - current)
Member of the Northern Rivers Area Consultative Committee (2004 - current)
Patron of the Maclean Show Society (since 2004)
Patron of the Lower Clarence Cricket Association (since 2004)
Patron of the Clarence Valley Seniors Club (since 2006)

What the Daily Examiner says
"...[Chris Gulaptis] is fiercely loyal to the conservative cause, does not run from a fight as is even seen as charismatic. "He helped relocated a bat colony from Maclean High School, took on the former Carr government ... and has managed re-election campaigns for Mr Causley and Steve Cansdell, both of whom won handsomely."
- Daily Examiner, 3 April 2007

A word from Ian Causley MP
"I am delighted the local Nationals have picked Chris Gulaptis to run for the electorate I have represented for the past 11 years. "Chris is a committed family man, a great community leader, and never gives up until the job is done.

"Is it vital that we keep Page in conservative hands. If Labor wins Page, Labor will also win power in Canberra.
"That would mean Coast-to-Coast Labor Governments, neglect of country residents, and the possibility of an increase in the rate of the GST.
"I encourage you to support Crhist Gulaptis at the forhtcoming federal election."
- Ian Causley MP
Copywrite 2007 Chris Gulapolis. Designed by
voteright.com.au Hosted by hostright.com.au

Chris Gulaptis - IR voting record

Election campaign material on Nationals candidate for Page, Chris Gulaptis and his support for WorkChoices.
 http://www.votingrecord.com.au/download/now/gulaptis_a4_factsheet.pdf

Climate change not a big issue, says Gulaptis

Nationals candidate for Page, Chris Gulaptis recently told Lismore Climate Action Group that climate change was not a big issue in the minds of his electorate.
 
At The Big Switch Chris Gulaptis rates zero on its climate rating scale and the Nationals rate 0.8 out of 5.
 
If you think that the candidate is out of touch with the electorate on this issue, tell him. 
 

What a cop out! Nationals' Chris Gulaptis cannot tell the time of day.

In a very rare moment of honesty, the National Party's Chris Gulaptis has admitted to something that many local residents have long suspected. Quite simply, when it comes to climate change (Howard's euphemism for global warming) Gulaptis doesn't know, but (and this is even sadder) more to the point, he obviously doesn't care enough to do his basic homework.

Would you have this bloke ,who doesn't have the intellect or nous to secure the position of runner-up in a used car salesman's competition as your local rep in the big house? Not bloody likely!

Friday, 19 October 2007

First time voter enrolment deadline - special categories

According to an Australian Electoral Commission media release today, two categories of new voters have until 8pm on Tuesday 23 October 2007 to return their completed electoral roll applications.
 
These special cases are:
  1. Any young Australians turning 18 yrs of age between 18 October 2007
    and 24 November 2007
  2. Anyone over 18 yrs of age who is notified by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship that they will be granted a certificate of Australian citizenship between  18 October 2007 and Friday 23 November 2007

The Greens come out for pensioners

In the Coffs Coast Advocate today, Senator Bob Brown and The Greens candidate for Cowper, John Carty urged both the Coalition and Labor to pledge an increase in the aged pension and carers allowance.
Pointing out that a full aged pension of $268 a week is not luxury living and barely covers the essentials.
They're right. Unfortunately no-one mentioned the plight of people on full disability pensions.
Full story:
 http://www.coffscoastadvocate.com.au/localnews/storydisplay.cfm?storyid=3752414&thesection=localnews&thesubsection=&thesecondsubsection=

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Pointy End vs Round End - Federal Election 2007

The Howard Government has been busy this week chanting a scare mantra concerning the number of former unionists it allegedly finds hiding under Federal Labor's bed.

Now in February last year the Department of Parliamentary Services published a research note which stated that the makeup of Government and Opposition benches were remarkably similar.

It found that the 41st Parliament was generally middle-aged, well-educated and mostly male, with many having worked in politics-related occupations immediately before their election.

The research found that:
The Coalition has a total of 126 members of Parliament
Labor has a total of 88 members of Parliament
Labor members have more 'general' qualifications than their Coalition counterparts (36% to 23%)
Coalition members have more 'law' qualifications than their Labor counterparts (23% to 18%)
Labor members have more 'education' qualifications than their Coalition counterparts (17% to 6%)
An equal number of Labor and Coalition members have economic qualifications.

As to the exact number of both Labor and Coalition members who have belonged to a union:

Full Research Note:
http://www.aph.gov.au/library/pubs/RN/2005-06/06rn24.pdf

Oh dear, it's those interest rates again

Hard on the heels of the Howard-Costello announcement of a $34 billion tax cut plan, some leading economists and the ANZ Bank are predicting these cuts will put upward pressure on demand, prices, inflation and almost inevitably, interest rates.

Last Tuesday The Australian reported that financial markets believe that there is a 47% chance that interest rates will rise before the end of the year. Again.

Yeah. Just what we all wanted for Christmas, John.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Crikey on the Great Election Debate(s)

In Crikey.com.au today, Guy Rundles' amusing take on the ongoing debate about that election debate and how many debates there will be.

"SCENARIO 1: Rudd knuckles under for a clear loss, being Howard's bitch. There's no sign that is going to happen.

SCENARIO 2: Rudd holds to his principle. Howard backs down sometime later this week. Rudd wins.

SCENARIO 3: Howard does the whole shebang at the great hall of parliament, talking to 200 stooges for ninety minutes, as always without notes, rambling round and round a few key points like a bumble bee approaching a flower. The farce remains unbroadcast. It's an old man talking in a half empty hall on a Sunday night.

SCENARIO 4: He does the whole thing, ABC TV dutifully televises this making it the more most boring show since MDA . People tune in to watch an old man talking to himself for 90 minutes. It becomes a classic piece of mad performance art."

ALP pledges $200,000 for Lismore homeless shelter

ABC North Coast radio on Janelle Saffin's announcement of Federal Labor's promise to assist with the establishment of a homeless shelter in Lismore:
 http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/10/17/2061512.htm?site=northcoast
 
It is interesting to note that, according to the NSW Parliament Hansard, in the June 2001 Queens Birthday Honours Janelle Saffin received an award from the Australian Government for her volunteer work in East Timor. The award was co-signed by the Prime Minister, John Howard and the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Division over PM's plan for Grafton Hospital

According to the Clarence Valley Review today, divisions are emerging over John Howard's conditional offer of $18 million to upgrade Grafton Hospital.
 
This is how I see the division breaking down:
* The Rural Doctors Association welcomed the offer, but are unhappy with health funding being politicised in this way.
* The NSW branch of the Australian Medical Association thinks that the State should not accept the offer. Presumably because it was dependant on reinstituting the local hospital board system.
* The NSW Health Minister said the State Government would not be forced into "committing to a structure which would see money wasted on a third tier of administration and bureaucracy."
* Nationals candidate for the seat of Page, Chris Gulaptis, is all for establishing a local hospital board. But what else would one expect but the party line.
* Nationals-leaning local government councillor and chair of the hospital's community committee, Shirley Adams, is all for the offer and a local board. Probably because she has high hopes of being board president.
* Grafton Hospital medical council chair, Dr. Alan Tyson, thinks that the offer should be accepted because that's what the community would expect. This view of course does not depend on his having canvassed Clarence Valley community opinion in any meaningful way.
* Labor candidate for the seat of Page, Janelle Saffin, points out that this one-off offer and the creation of a local hospital board would not bring in "another doctor, another nurse, another dollar, wouldn't treat another patient."
 
It's time ordinary people in the Clarence Valley had their say.

John Howard reaps personal benefit from new tax cut policy

News.com.au reported this morning that the National Tax and Accountants Association has calculated that if he stays on as Prime Minister John Howard would take home an additional $10,560 as a result of his recently announced tax package. A tax savings of $203 a week.
 
Now that's what I call blindly redistributing the national wealth.
 
Full article:

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Blogs as reliable as mainstream media - ACCC

News.com.au reports the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chairman's opinion on blogs:
"CONSUMERS who get their news from the internet are likely to trust a blog for reliability as much as a mainstream media site, the competition watchdog said today."
Full article:
 http://www.news.com.au/business/story/0,23636,22596284-31037,00.html

You know you matter when Howard's attack dog pounces

If anything confirms the belief that John Howard is worried about the election outcome in Page, it was an attack by his reputed ally Piers Akerman from The Daily "do you know the truth or do you read the" Telegraph.
 
In Monday's regular Telegraph  blog Mr. Akerman appears to feel that because Ms. Saffin has the previous experience of being elected to the NSW Parliament, she shouldn't offer herself for election to Federal Parliament this November.
 
Apparently John Howard would like voters to pick a complete novice as the Member for Page.

Albanese, Saffin and Sekfy visit the Clarence Valley

Tfhe Federal Opposition spokesman on water and infrastructure, Anthony Albanese, visited the Clarence Valley this week.
He was accompanied by Labor candidates Janelle Saffin (Page) and Paul Sekfy (Cowper).
Labor has restated its opposition to a Clarence dam and the establishment of nuclear power plants.
To help make our homes more water and energy efficient, Labor announced zero interest loans of $10,000 as well as a $500 rebate on the installation of grey water pipes.
While in the Clarence Valley they met with local government, industry and community organisation representatives.
Local media story on election promises:
http://www.dailyexaminer.com.au/localnews/storydisplay.cfm?storyid=3751994&thesection=localnews&thesubsection=&thesecondsubsection=

ALP's opposition to Clarence dam restated


ON the first day of the federal election campaign yesterday, Opposition spokesman on Infrastructure and Water, Anthony Albanese, Labor candidate for Page, Janelle Saffin, and Labor candidate for Cowper, Paul Sekfy, re-iterated Labor's commitment to not dam the Clarence River.

http://www.dailyexaminer.com.au/story/2007/10/16/apn-opposition-to-clarence-dam/

You can't buy us, John

Early morning callers to ABC North Coast radio this morning were unimpressed by John Howard's $34 billion tax cuts promise.
The majority of callers thought the money would be better spent on affordable housing, roads, public hospitals, agriculture, adapting to climate change, renewable energy and one caller raised the spectre of pressure on interest rates.
Do you think that the money set aside for tax cuts would be better spent on what North Coast communities need or would it do more good in the pockets of a lucky few?

North Coast facts

Exerpts from a North Coast profile according to the Water Week website:
  • The region's population is around 500,00 people.
  • The larger towns in the region are Grafton, Ballina, Casino, Coffs Harbour, Kempsey, Lismore, Murwillumbah, Port Macquarie, Tweed Heads.
  • 12 councils.
  • The Northern Rivers Catchment Management.
  • 7 State Government electorates.
  • 3130 active surface water licences.
  • 11,401 active groundwater (stock & domestic) licences.
  • 830 active groundwater (irrigation/commercial) licences.
  • 1 State Water Storage - Toonumbar Dam near Kyogle.
  • Over 300 Landcare Groups.
  • 7 Coastal Committees.
  • 40 estuaries under Estuary Management Committees.
For more details on North Coast water management:

Monday, 15 October 2007

One for all those election tragics out there

As many on the North Coast begin to consider hiding under the bed to escape the six week election campaign, coming as it does on top of the Howard Government's months of televised phoney campaigning, this one is for those true political tragics out there.
 
NEWSPOLL 12-14 October - national poll
Labor leading the Coalition on two-party preferred 56 to 44
Complete breakdown:
 

Election '07 - ladies and gentlemen, place your bets

For interested voters in the North Coast seat of Richmond.
On SportingBet as of 2pm 15 October 2007 straight bet odds for the seat of Richmond stood at:
Justine Elliot - ALP  1.10
Sue Page - NATS    4.50
Any other Candidate/Political party  21.00 

Nationals candidate pushes local hospital board without consultation

A 4 October 2007 NSW Nationals media release has the Federal Nationals candidate for Page, Chris Gulaptis stating:
"The Grafton Base Hospital Community Committee could easily become the Grafton Local Hospital Board in line with the Federal Government decision to reinstate local boards as a condition of next year's Health Care Agreement between Canberra and the States, according to Page Nationals candidate Chris Gulaptis. Mr Gulaptis was speaking outside Grafton Hospital alongside members of the Grafton Hospital Community Committee including President Shirley Adams, OAM, and Grafton Hospital Medical Staff Council boss Dr Alan Tyson. The Grafton Committee is perfectly set up to take over management of the hospital and secure its future,
Mr Gulaptis said."

Now wasn't that nice of Mr. Gulaptis. Not only does he anticipate that the Clarence Valley would be enthusiastically behind the idea of a local hospital board - he has even decided which people we would like on such a board.
Is this the way he would conduct community consultation if voters in Page sent him to Canberra?

A quote to remember

John Howard when announcing the 2007 Federal Election:
"I take responsibility for everything that happens adversely under my watch and I am made accountable for those things when an election is held."

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Federal Election called for 24 November 2007

John Howard has fixed the date for the next federal election as 24 November 2007.
It's time to check your enrolment details are up to date.

According to an Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) press release today:
Those eligible to vote but who are not on the electoral roll must complete an enrolment form and return it to an AEC office by 8pm, Wednesday, 17 October.
Enrolled voters needing to update their address details must fill in a form and return it to an AEC office by 8pm Tuesday, 23 October.

Did you know?

* The Howard Government is reputed to be the highest taxing federal government in Australia's history.
Annual tax receipts now stand at about 25% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
With the Goods and Services Tax (GST) introduced by John Howard being paid by everyone, including pensioners and the unemployed who otherwise might not have a taxable income.

* Household savings were the highest and national unemployment figures the lowest under the Whitlam Government.

* The 2004-05 financial year saw Australia reach a record balance of trade financial deficit of $24.5 billion and last financial year's balance of trade deficit was $16.5 billion.

* Between 1999-2005 95% of the increase in Australia's energy production was from non-renewable energy sources and total renewable energy production fell by 6% during the same period.

* According to the Australian Government Antarctic Division most ice-shelves fringing the Antarctic Peninsular are showing signs of decline due to climate change.

Australia not so fair for people living on the NSW North Coast

According to the Northern Rivers Social Development Council there are 22,000 people (or 13% of the population over 15 years of age) living below the poverty line in this region during the current period of strong economic growth and record Federal budget surpluses. 
That's a lot of people in our area not sharing in Australia's wealth. Are you one of those missing out?
The full The Northern Rivers Echo article:
 http://www.echonews.com/index.php?page=View%20Article&article=17441&issue=287

Saturday, 13 October 2007

North Coast is an open secret with holidaymakers

On 13 October The Daily Examiner ran an article on the latest figures from Tourism Research Australia.
Visitor figures show that holidaymakers come to the NSW North Coast in higher numbers than to any other caravanning or camping destination in Australia.
Some visitors have been returning to the North Coast for up to twenty years.

We breed 'em big on the North Coast

ABC Online photo of hail stones which fell during the severe storms which lashed the NSW North Coast on 9 October.

Federal Election poll graph for 2006-2007


On 12 October Roy Morgan Research released this graph showing Federal two party-preferred polling results for 2006-2007.

Send your carbon footprint to Parliament

Here is a petition which lobbies in support of climate change action:
 http://www.changeclimatechange.org.au/ChangeCC/petition.aspx

Friday, 12 October 2007

Quote of the week

From an ABC Radio National interview last Monday:
"JOHN HOWARD: We're still in Government. It's not an election promise when you are still in Government."

Can you believe this man?

Last night John Howard was all over the TV telling us that he is sorry he hasn't been fully behind Reconciliation but he isn't sorry that he didn't say "Sorry" and, he won't be saying it now.
Can you believe this man?
He has virtually ignored indigenous issues until early this election year, with the exception of his attempts to white ant the Mabo decision.
He has also consistently tried to deny the historical reality of indigenous experience.
This year has seen the Howard Government create one piece of legislation which allows for a blatant grab at traditional owners' land and, another piece which has a provision which allows Centrelink to deny particular indigenous people the right to spend any money on cigarettes.
To do this the Prime Minister has had to turn the Racial Discrimination Act on its head.
Now John Howard wants to paint his persona over and present a different version of himself, in the hope that this country will re-elect his government.
Can you believe this man or is this man now unbelievable?

Thursday, 11 October 2007

How your electorate ranks in the run up to the Federal Election

Copy of a recent blog post from "A Clarence Valley Protest":
Ever wondered how many people in your electorate are connected to the Internet and, therefore might be reading a political blog or two?
Or how many 'persons of no religion' there are who may potentially be miffed by the Howard-Abbott brand of politico-religious philosophy?
Would the Howard-Andrews view of migration possibly impact in the electorate?
Read the Australian Parliamentary Library's 10 October 2007 research paper on electoral division rankings.
See link:
http://www.aph.gov.au/Library/pubs/RP/2007-08/08RP12.pdf?source=cmailer

Australian culture wars continue

What feels like the zillionth shot across the bows in the long running saga of Howard v States.
 http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,22567423-29277,00.html

Why local hospital boards may be bad for the North Coast

Last week the Federal Minister for Health, Tony Abbott announced that he intended to make the creation of 736 public hospital boards a condition of the next round of Commonwealth-State health funding agreements.
Since then the Centre for Policy Development has sent out an e-news letter raising doubts about the advisability of pursuing this course of action. Like other commentators, it raises concerns that such local boards may become lobby groups for particular interests regardless of community health needs as a whole or that by isolating public hospital funding from other health funding significant problems within a hospital system may in fact be increased.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Two out of three ain't bad

"North Coast NSW is flanked by the South Pacific Ocean and the Great Dividing Range. The verdant terrain contains massive waterways both fresh and salt and thus caters to all types of sport and recreation. The region is known for its natural wonders, relaxed lifestyle and sunshine. Well served by air, train and road, there's absolutely no excuse for not being able to get here."

This quote is from the website HolidayCoast and yes, we have sunshine and beautiful surroundings. Pity that our shrinking rail services sometimes make travel difficult for North Coast residents with the booking fee making it a little harder for local pensioners to afford a trip.Tourists may be able to get here but it is often difficult for locals to find suitable bus or train transport to specialist doctors who seem to have their consulting rooms further and further away from the North Coast hinterland or the Clarence Coast.

Some rivers are more equal than others

Yesterday, Malcolm Turnbull unequivocally stated that the Commonwealth would not dam the North Coast's Oxley River.
Today in Grafton, John Howard would not state that a re-elected Howard Government would not dam the Clarence River. No matter who asked him, or how they phrased their question, John Howard just could not say those words.
It seems that Mr. Howard believes that some North Coast rivers and dependant communities are more equal than others.

Climate change 'aready at danger point'

The Independent Climate Institute calls for an end to resistance to the Kyoto Protocol.

"Mr Jackson said the nation could play a major role in speeding up global climate change talks by ending its resistance to the Kyoto Protocol.
"The key barrier to getting a solid and effective international agreement at the moment is Australia and the US.......
It's really up to Australian and US policy makers to take this on board and actually get behind the Kyoto framework because that's the only effective response that we've actually got.
"We can't wait to try and renegotiate another agreement, the climate just doesn't allow us another 10 years."
[www.news.com.au,"Climate change 'already at danger point'",09.10.07]

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

A genuine Howard hugger

David Barnett, sometime Howard biographer, crying out in Unleashed at abc.net.au:
"The destruction of John Howard's properly earned reputation as one of the greatest prime ministers the country has ever had - perhaps the greatest - is now well underway........
Howard faces more than the prospect of loss of office and perhaps the loss of his seat. He faces oblivion at the hands of Stalinist historians. The prospect - the certainty - is that a process of rewriting history already begun will continue until the great achievements of a great government and a great prime minister will disappear from the record."
Don't you just love the absurdity of this perspective on John Winston Howard?