Modia Minotaur

Trawling the airwaves to spare you the agony!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Another Star drops off the Stick

After a flurry of mixed messages from the political punditry, it now appears increasingly likely that former ACTU inamorata and sitting member Jennie George may become a victim of "Super Saturday", as the ALP production-line preselection slaughterhouse has become known.
As late as yesterday, most commentators were smugly opining that dead-cert Greg Combet would be slipping comfortably into the Green Room to further extend the ranks of ACTU retirees, but some are not so sure. The surprise inclusion of Ms George's seat of Throsby in the Saturday list, and that nothing approaching a ringing endorsement of her has come from former factional allies, seems to suggest that her days may be numbered.
If this does happen, she will be the third female MP to be shown the door, and this must surely hit the tripwire on Labor's Affirmative Action plan.
A likely profile for her replacement? Right Wing, Celebrity, Female.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Young and the Odious

You might have assumed that the NSW Election was a point of crisis for the far-right in the NSW Liberal Party. Their endorsed leader, Peter Debnam (remember him?) was demoted and replaced by the relatively moderate Barry O'Farrell, who instantly set about making clear his belief that the machinations of David Clarke and his ilk were no longer welcome in the NSW Liberal Party, and had never been welcomed by the greater public.

It would have been nice to think that this would be the last we see of this troubling epoch in NSW politics. The powerbrokers, broken and defeated, are left to slink into the darker corners of history, tails between their legs, to allow true party democracy to be restored.

If only.

This week's announcement that the notorious Alex Hawke plans to challenge long-term plodder Alan Cadman for the seat of Lindsay was certainly a suprise - but it was a very unpleasant one. To get an idea of Hawke, I'll yet again link Chloe Hooper's article in which he plays a starring role, , and remind you that former Liberal leader John Brogden took the quite extraordinary step of personally naming Hawke, the instigator of the right-wing takeover of the traditionally moderate Young Liberals - as one of the instigators of his political demise. Hawke is at the vanguard of a very unpleasant and anti-democratic trend.

As this week's fascinating episode of Four Corners revealed, such people do not enter politics has nothing to do with the basic interest in improving society that is held by the majority of politicians; even nothing to do with advancing the principles held by a particular party - but instead, everything to do with the gaining and wielding of personal power and the serving of personal agendas.

I've said it before, and it's worth reiterating - such a trend is a serious threat to our political system. This is true enough on a State basis, but even more concerning should it spread to Federal politics. I predicted right-wing challenges on moderate MPs - the notion of challenging long-serving but unspectacular MPs in safe seats provides a much quicker path to power. It will be interesting to see whether the situation is duplicated in similar seats as further Federal preselections open.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Lieutenant takes the Mission

Todays Sydney Morning Herald carried what appeared, at first glance , to be an encouraging report on John Brogden's life after politics.
The article detailed how Mr Brogden has been able to stare down his personal demons and undertake a worthwhile public duty fronting Lifeline, and speaking candidly about recovering from the debilitating illness of depression.
However, a line at the end of the article, almost an afterthought, brought me abruptly back to reality:
"Alex Hawke, whom Mr Brogden accused of undermining him before his resignation, is a surprise candidate for preselection in the federal seat of Mitchell. The lieutenant to the Liberal right-wing powerbroker David Clarke will stand against the sitting Liberal, Alan Cadman".

This is very disturbing news.

Despite holding one of the safest Liberal seats in the nation, and being second only to Phillip Ruddock in length of Parliamentary service, Mr Cadman has struggled in the past to retain his preselection, securing it by a mere 3 votes in 2004.
One would hope that Mr Clarkes particularly noisome cadre, whose last public performance was to bludgeon to death any chance that the Liberals may have had to win the NSW election, will be denied the opportunity to present their poster-boy for election to Federal Parliament.

World's Best Practice

With so little praise lavished on Australia's immigration system, the almost-terminally punctilious Kevin Andrews must be beside himself at this item from the UK.
The somewhat tongue-in-cheek article does highlight some little understood facts about "who comes to this country, and the manner in which they come".
I can sense the palpable relief sweeping the populace that the chronic hairdresser shortage is being addressed, and finally some serious attention is being paid to skilling a workforce that can artfully turn your favourite companion moggie into a footstool.
Still, as UK Immigration Minister Liam Byrne points out, this will serve as the model for the UK system to be introduced next year, and imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Paratroopers suit up

Amongst the usual done deals and media puff that are part and parcel of the ALP National Conference, one under-reported decision warrants further scrutiny.

The decision to allow the ALP Federal Executive to appoint candidates to NSW seats was neither unexpected nor overly contentious, with many precedents in the recent past. Some high profile Walk-Up-Starts, notably Maxine McKew, have already strapped on the Kevlar for their drop into significant seats, however the list issued today naming those seats which are subject to nomination rather than preselection makes interesting reading.

No surprises that the seats of Blaxland, Charlton, Eden-Monaro, Fowler and Wentworth are on that list, as the overtures to the likes of Greg Combet, George Newhouse, Colonel Mike Kelly and Bernie Riordan are well documented. Two seats, however are a little surprising, they being Throsby and Hughes.
Throsby is held by former teacher and ACTU gaffer Jennie George by a more than respectable margin and has to date not been suggested as a landing point for any of the Parachute Corps new recruits. Even stranger is the seat of Hughes, currently held by the laughable Danna Vale and it is here that at least one intriguing possibility emerges.

Given the Prime Minister's devotion to cricket, is it possible that a much capped former player (and Hughes resident) has been successfully implored to pad up for ALP, and help put the PM back in the pavilion?

Into the Breach

With the venerable Minotaur charged with the task of bedding down a new Government, Pete has forsaken the working-class charm of Milltown to keep Modia Minotaur open for business.
So, with nets set, gaffs ready and crew at their posts, let's trawl the already thickening media swill for some issues worthy of comment

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Shutters Up

Clearly, I haven't been updating as much as I'd like to, but my lack of time and new job are leading me to question whether I'll be able to keep maintaining poor old Modia Minotaur at all (sniff ... ), and certainly, to consider new ways of keeping the show on the road in the meantime. I have asked a guest blogger to step in for the moment. He should be up and posting within a few days - please make him welcome.

Monday, April 16, 2007

One Baird In, One Baird Out

Veteran Liberal MP Bruce Baird has announced that he plans to retire at the next election. His announcement comes a matter of weeks after his son, Michael Baird, took the seat of Manly from independent David Barr and followed his father, a former Deputy Leader and Transport Minister, into NSW politics.

Baird must be confident in two things - firstly, that Peter Costello is unlikely to assume the Liberal leadership any time soon, given that Costello's ascendancy would have given him his best chance of attaining a Federal ministry after fourteen years on the back bench.

Secondly - and he seems quite open about this - Baird suspected his pre-selection would have been challenged before the election. This is notable in that Baird is acknowledged as the senior statesman of the Liberal moderates and, as such, first in the firing line of pre-selection challenges. As pre-selections take place in the next few months, it will be extremely interesting - and telling - to observe who else is either subjected to such challenges or steps down in anticipation of them; including Judi Moylan, Marise Payne and perhaps even Baird's neighbour in the seat of Hughes, Danna Vale (who, when she isn't digging up Gallipoli, occasionally has some sensible and reasonable things to say). Vale and Baird hold their seats by comfortable margins, but that's rarely the point when such pre-selection challenges take place.

Petro Georgiou is a notable absence from the above list - but let's not forget that Georgiou, considered at severe risk of losing his pre-selection to former Alexander Downer staffer Josh Frydenberg, ended up romping in over his young turk challenger.

It's entirely possible that a number of young and ambitious locals are currently drumming up support amongst influential figures in order to challenge the moderates.

Howard has previously been very talented at painting the Liberal Party as a `broad church'; at letting dissidents such as Vale and Georgiou off the leash every now and then (in the phenomenon American political observers are now referring to as `catch and release' ). A monochrome party makes for a church that is decidedly less broad, with a support base likewise.

Whether such pre-selection will be nipped in the bud, or encouraged, or successful - as occurred in the NSW election - may say a lot about the character of what could be the next government (and yes, despite the current euphoria over Labor's polling, we can't lose sight of the notion that the government may still win after all).

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Farenheit Rises

Quentin Dempster's interview with new NSW Liberal leader Barry O'Farrell is a good demonstration of the truth behind The Chaser's mock headline - `Iemma Supports Debnam in Leadership Battle' (you'll have to wait to read the interview - Stateline has clearly become slack once more, but once it comes online it's well worth reading).

The fact that O'Farrell has not been elevated to the leadership before now just goes to show exactly how bloody minded the factional battles within the party are - fortunately, the new Shadow Cabinet suggests that the influence of David Clarke et al may be waning.

Despite the numerous moderates supplanted by Clarke-backed candidates in pre-selection, only one has made the shadow cabinet, in former Deputy DPP Greg Smith, who was named Shadow Attorney General, as was widely tipped. The other two debut MPs to make the shadow cabinet are the woman who almost missed out on a seat in parliament because of Smith's successful battle for Epping, Pru Goward; and Michael Baird, the son of Federal MP Bruce Baird. Both are acknowledged moderates.

O'Farrell has long been acknowledged as one of the best parliamentary performers - he's clear and forceful and, increasingly important in the current political climate, he doesn't give the impression that anyone else is behind him pulling the strings. Hopefully, he'll keep the government on its toes - not a bad thing.

Sunrise and False Dawn

When Kevin Rudd became Opposition Leader, I expected he would instantly step down from his long-running role on Channel 7's `Sunrise' - or, if he did not, that he would politely be asked to do so. Two representatives of two political parties doing a regular informal discussion is one thing; one of them being the leader of one of those parties is quite different. Nevertheless, Rudd kept his place in the cult-like organisation known as the `Sunrise family' (while its rival, Channel 9's `Today', duplicated the successful formula with a regular tete-a-tete between Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott). Holding on to this role was always ill-advised, and now, much like the Paul Gibson controversy (I'm glad I didn't have time to blog that, it was all just too depressing), someone has found a loophole.

A press gallery backlash is common when politicians refuse to make themselves as available as journalists would like. We saw exactly the same thing with Mark Latham, who was notoriously choosy about who he spoke with. The fact that Rudd was always so well known for being at the media's beck and call makes any reduction of access or excess media management all the starker.

Rudd's decision to join Sunrise was always an extremely canny move, as I've said before. It is both easy and foolish to remember that while you might be able to get meaty policy across on the 7.30 Report, the sort of people whose vote will change based not only on your policy, but by whether or not they actually know who you are, don't watch the 7.30 Report. Neville Wran was one of the first leaders to recognise the impact of the mass media, while Paul Keating was the first to use talkback radio as a tool of connection with the public.

However, Rudd's continued participation on the Sunrise show was risky not only because of the potential for such controversies as the one that is currently raging, but for Channel 7 itself - it risked the implied support for one party over another. As for Rudd, the notion of dedicating your early morning media time, by default, to one channel, is quite extraordinary when you think about it. Did the leak about the alleged false Dawn Service in Vietnam emanate from other members of the media from opposing organisations? Almost certainly.

My two predictions for the near future - first, Walt Secord, famous for heavying the media on behalf of Bob Carr and now Rudd's senior media advisor, will be told to change his heavy-handed style, or even ejected altogether in the long term. Second, Rudd will exit the Sunrise family, or at least become only an occasional guest.

Wow, What's The Time?

Logging on to my blog today, I had a bit of a Rip Van Winkle experience. I imagined the period after the election would be much more relaxed - it proved to be quite the opposite, what with a new job and the final semester of a Masters. Hence, the lights have been off at Modia Minotaur. I'm thinking of asking some guest bloggers to step in for the moment - but in the meantime, I apologise for my silence!