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Monthly Archives: August 2013

So, it transpires that Rudd’s rudeness to Lily Fontana, the make-up lady at Broncos, prior to the leaders’ debate was that Rudd DIDN’T speak to her, not that he abused or verbally belittled her.

My source is the level-headed Andrew Probyn on Insiders this morning, hardly a rabid Ruddite. So Rudd said nothing to Ms Fontana at all. Well Rudd was just about to go out and speak for his life. I think he can be excused for choosing to remaining focused and collecting his thoughts and letting Ms. Fontana get on with her job.

Its just a rather artificial blow up.

And Abbott’s shut up turns out to be pre-meditated. Watch him on the vid. Abbott is not angry or harassed at all. He coolly smiles as he delivers the shut up. His eyes and confident expression clearly state gotcha. In the week that followed a phalanx of high profile Libs (Kroger, Pyne, Hockey etc) are all out there on message – Rudd talks too much.

So was Ms. Fontana’s social media complaint against Rudd also pre-meditated ? Hmmm. The Libs were certainly well-prepared with their Arrogant Rudd Its A Pattern schtick. But they would be. In itself that doesn’t prove anything.

But, to me, it feels like a set-up.

So What Would You Like To Talk About ?

Well I would like to talk about what Rudd was talking about: Abbott’s $30bn of undisclosed costings. And that $30bn, if Abbott can find them, does not balance the budget or put it into surplus. It just gets him on an even fiscal keel with the ALP.

This sort of budget thing was once considered important. I am very frustrated that Abbott looks like getting away with such a massive undisclosure of his plans.

Look, let’s take Paid Parental Leave. The Greens, who have a very similar policy to the Libs, last week released their fully-costed breakdown. The Libs haven’t. Now I thought it was supposed to be The Greens who are hypocritical, financially incompetent, secretive fringe loonies who at all times try to avoid scrutiny.

That’s a myth of course.

Janet Albrechtson of The UnAustralian is very fond of saying that her newspaper’s unrelenting misrepresentation of The Greens is nothing more than proper responsible scrutiny.

Well her colleague, David Uren, in the absence of LNP figures had to use Green’s figure to attempt to cost the Libs scheme. His finding – they are $2.5bn short, which Uren described as costed.

Janet – let’s have some scrutiny. How about starting with the fact that Business groups are unanimously opposed to it. That’s the Business Council Of Australia, the Small And Medium Enterprise Association and the Australian Retailers Association to name three statements I have read. How about reporting that the SME Assoc. expects big firms to pass on the PPL costs as price rises to small business which will then be passed on to consumers ? Their statement has become UnGoogleable, but here’s similar sentiments from The Council of Small Businesses of Australia and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry summarized on the Company News site Smart Company.

“This could be crippling for SME retailers,” [ARA Chief executive] Zimmerman said.

Banks have said they will pass on the PPL costs. That’s the great Hockey no-no of upward pressure on interest rates. In fact, the Libs policy could see rates on commercial (business) loans to Small Business rise by 0.25%. LNP – we understand small business, yes ?

How about the views of James Thomson, editor of BRW, that firms will avoid growing their business beyond the $5m per year PPL threshold in order to avoid the impost. He says PPL is a tax on growth.

Or maybe Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox who says the LNP PPL will lead to job losses and price increases for consumers.

Or Sydney-based commercialisation manager Karina Grados who says the LNP scheme will lead to pay cuts? Seems logical.

That’ll do for a start. And while you’re there, why is it that after three years of gestating this signature policy, Joe Hockey had no firm idea of its funding sources. I say Hockey is not serious about the policy.

Nick Minchin was recently saying that Abbott’s PPL would not pass the Senate. I don’t think the LNP are serious about implementing this scheme and I don’t think Australians will see this PPL. Abbott says he has the convert’s zeal for his gigantic PPL. Yeah, well that has echoes of The Real Julia. Like John Howard said, if you’re genuine, you don’t have to run around telling everyone that you’re genuine.

The LNP say their PPL is a magnificent productivity measure. Really ? If so, it should be introduced immediately and not two years hence. Why wait two years to commence a superb productivity improvement ? Doesn’t make sense. This LNP PPL is a con. We’ll never see it.

By the way, the Productivity Commission disagrees with the LNP’s rather glorious assessment of its PPL, saying that PPL for high wage earners leads to very few and highly expensive labour supply benefits. The Commissionnotes that a PPL assisting lower incone earners, as the currently existing ALP one does, is where the productivity action is.

Payment at a flat rate would mean that the labour supply effects would be greatest for lower income, less skilled women — precisely those who are most responsive to wage subsidies and who are least likely to have privately negotiated paid parental leave. Full replacement wages for highly educated, well paid women would be very costly for taxpayers and, given their high level of attachment to the labour force and a high level of private provision of paid parental leave, would have few incremental labour supply benefits.

Look, I’m not saying that The UnAustralian has not reported any of these views. But it certainly has not given them prominence. Its the difference between a Page 1 Headline screaming Tax On Growth and a page 7 eight-para story saying PPL Costed.

Imagine The Greens still had their PPL current scheme and the LNP didn’t.

There would be Scrutiny. On Page 1. Every day.

Just listening to some BBC World Service documentaries about Iraq 10 years after the Invasion.

Many Iraqis hate what the Americans did to them.
Its very easy to find local Iraqis who think that Iraq today would be better under Saddam.
Every month since the invasion 2,000 Iraqis have died in sectarian violence.
Up until at least 2008, families in some regions simply did not go outside.
That means children spend their whole lives indoors – no football in the street, no riding on bikes, no going outside. Listen to a kid talk about it at 4:50 into this audio.

Yes of course you can go outside but a truck might drive by with a heavy machine gun mounted on it and just gun you down indiscriminately. You and your friends.

You can buy a Chevrolet or even a Cadillac in Baghdad. Business is quite good apparently. Explosions in the shopping district in the immediate vicinity are down(!) to two a week. Let’s go shopping. Probably won’t get killed. Listen here at 18:00 mins in.
But Saddam. This was a guy who was willing to drain the fertile southern marshes of Iraq and turn them into a dustbowl, just to chase down his enemies.

Maniac. Madman.

Sooner or later he would have fallen and the sectarian violence unleashed in any case.

The American invasion, done simply for Oil, money and power, simply uncorked the civil war sooner than would have otherwise happened. And they did that while irradiating the population with their depleted Uranium weapons dust, occasionally massacring a city like Fallujah with all inhabitants included, bombing everything and killing everybody.

But the sectarian violence which followed would have happened anyway.

Better under Saddam ? Probably yes. Temporarily.

A common criticism of the Gillard/Swan ALP governments is that it has deliberately chosen over-optimistic forecasts of economic performance and that this is the reason why promised surpluses have never materialized and why the May 2013 Budget bottom line needed to be revised $12bn downwards just three months later in the August Economic Statement.

In fact this criticism, which originated as a political strategy by Joe Hockey to smear the ALP – listen to the MP3 embedded on the page – has become accepted fact in much of the electorate and is seen as further proof of the supposedly inherent dishonesty of the ALP.

A supplementary criticism has also gained popular appeal that, as most recently evidenced by the horrendous August revision, Treasury figures are proven to be ridiculously inaccurate, always wrong, and that therefore Joe Hockey and LNP are free to use whatever figures they choose in order to frame their alternative budget and campaign promise costings. Naturally this assists the LNP a great deal in their election campaigning.

Where Did The $33 Billion Go ?

It is indeed puzzling to the garden variety voter such as myself why the official 2013-2014 Budget delivered in May was redundant and proven so far wrong within three months. An explanation is necessary.

So I had a bit of a look into it, and I am currently satisfied that the ALP has not deliberately chosen over-estimates and has therefore not been engaged in deceit of the electorate.

New Data, New Figures

The short story is that after the May budget, the Treasury received new data about global and domestic economic conditions. These forced a revision of the May budget. New data, new figures.

One month before the August Economic Statement in which the $33bn revenue write-down over four years was announced, The Australian ran a story by David Uren Treasury to revise down growth forecasts in which various world and domestic economic data were summarized.

It stated that new data relating to the major emerging economies Brazil, Russia, India and China had shown growth in these nations to be lower than expected, as were international commodity prices. None of this was regarded as a revelation of deliberately false over-estimation in the May budget and in fact it was noted that:

Treasury’s budget forecasts that Australia’s growth would average 2.75 per cent this year and 3 per cent next still tally with many private-sector estimates

In making the August Statement, Treasurer Bowen fingered three causes: lower than expected global growth, especially in China, lower commodity prices and lower than expected wages growth in Australia. The hiatus in global growth is forecast to cut nominal GDP growth from 5% to 3.75%, reducing real GDP growth from 2.75% to 2.5%.

Chinese Growth Rates and Credit Policy

Treasury’s forecasts of Chinese growth in the May budget were in line with those shared by most forecasters. ICIS, the world’s largest private sector forecaster of petrochemical commodity prices states that

Even as recently as May the conventional view… was that China’s economic growth would accelerate rather than decelerate in 2013.

Treasury explained the revenue write-down in large part due to policy actions taken by China taken after May, most particularly a tightening of credit controls within China.

The more moderate growth outlook for China reflects an expectation that recent policy actions to address growing risks in China’s financial system will mean a less supportive credit environment than assumed at budget[time].

Treasury applauded China’s actions but noted its deflationary effect:

While contributing to a more stable and efficient financial system, and hence more sustainable medium- to longer-term growth, tighter credit conditions are likely to weigh on China’s economic activity in the near term.

Almost No-one Correctly Forecast Terms Of Trade Deterioration

It is true that Treasury was far more optimistic than Australian private sector economists in their forecast of Terms of Trade for 2013-2014.

Alan Kohler on Inside Business Sunday on August 4th showed that the severity of the deterioration in commodity prices post-May Budget was unexpected by everyone, even private sector experts.

Kohler noted that the Budget forecast a decline in the terms of trade of 0.75 per cent. Kohler then compared that to the forecast of market economists which was a fall of about 2.5 per cent and stated they were wrong too. The severe fall caught everyone out.

Treasury’s now at minus 5.75 per cent for the terms of trade, roughly the same as the market.

The National Australia Bank is also generally supportive of the Treasury view of the sudden deterioration on commodity prices being linked to recent (post-May) developments in the Chinese economy here

..partial indicators of the economy have generally remained disappointing. The situation was further compounded by the recent disruptions to China’s financial markets.

But Treasury Is Still Hopeless

While Kohler’s program demonstrated that the sudden deterioration in commodity prices, and hence a major input into the revision of the revenue of the August Economic Statement was a surprise to most forecasters, his guests went on to claim that the Treasury’s recent record on economic forecasting is poor and indeed hopeless.

CLIFFORD BENNET, CHIEF ECONOMIST, WHITE CRANE REPORT GROUP: Well I think everyone’s record in the private sector is probably better than Treasury’s, to be honest. And it’s not something new, it’s been something that’s gone on for years. And I think there seems to be a pattern of extrapolating recent short term data into the long term, which needs to be looked at.

The views of Kohler’s guests are not shared by all forecasters.

For example, Treasury’s forecasts for nominal GDP growth of 5% in 2013-14 (revised downwards by Treasurer Bowen to 3.75% in the August Economic Update) and 5% in 2014-15 are consistent with those of private economists. Citibank predicted 5.5% in 2013-14; Bank of America Merrill Lynch predicted 4.0% in 2013-14 and 5.1% the year after; Goldman Sachs predicted 3.5% for 2013-2014 and 5.1% the next year.

A review of Treasury forecasts for the 10 years ending November 2012 showed that Treasury’s forecasts compare well to others, such as those from Access Economics and the Reserve Bank. They also were about as accurate as other international forecasters.

The private sector group Consensus Economics, which compares about 20 or so Australian forecasting groups, also shows that Treasury forecasts tend to sit in the middle of the pack.

Of direct relevance to Hockey’s slur that the ALP this year deliberately chose misleading figures to hide economic data, the review of Treasury forecasting showed that during the recession in the early 1990s, Treasury’s forecasts also didn’t anticipate that downturn or fall in tax revenue. In other words Treasury has a consistent record of underestimating both downturns and upswings. There is nothing sinister about Treasury figures in this or about any government’s use of them, though many challenge the assumptions and inputs into Treasury modelling.

For example as the Australian Financial Review notes, Treasury currently uses a “structural or long-run” level for Terms Of Trade equal to the average from 2003-04 until 2015-16. This level is the same one used as the private sector firm Deloittes but its about 40 per cent higher than what the OECD uses in its structural budget analysis of Australia.

Finally on this and contrary to popular belief engendered by Hockey and the LNP, Treasury does not provide a range of figures for govt. to select from. It provides a single set of figures with which the government then frames its budgets. The entire pre-conception of Treasury serving up a smorgasboard of figures for government to choose from is just false. A deliberate lie by Hockey which has taken root in the mind of the polity. As Bernard Keane puts it:

Joe Hockey has claimed that Swan had cherrypicked from Treasury’s range of estimates. Hockey, who has been a junior minister in the Treasury portfolio, knows that’s a lie — Treasury does not serve up a range of budget forecasts for the Treasurer.

Here’s Head of Treasury, Dr. Martin Parkinson responding to Hockey’s falsehood on this matter.

“Let me be very clear: Treasury does not provide the Government with a range of numbers; Treasury provides its best professional estimate to the Government,” he said.

“In these circumstances, we in Treasury have struggled to keep pace, and the result has been large revisions to our economic and revenue forecasts,” he said.

“The result has been to undertake a comprehensive review of forecasts overseen by an independent panel.”

Summing Up

The $33bn in revenue write-down over four years is due to a revision downwards of nominal GDP growth in 2013-2014 from 5% to 3.75% and similar reductions through the four years. The Treasury estimate of GDP growth given in the May Budgetwas not unjustifiably optimistic and sits comfortably alongside estimates of some of the world’s major banks. Alongside this Treasury noted a sudden steep reduction in Terms Of Trade. It is true that the Terms Of Trade estimate by Treasury was significantly more optimistic than private sector forecasts. The combination of these two factors (GDP, Terms Of Trade) forced the production of the revised economic outlook in the August Economic Statement.

In short, Treasury received new data after the May budget which forced a write-down of forecast revenue. The new data was in relation to slower growth worldwide and, of particular relevance, China. Commodity prices fell sharply, well beyond nearly all forecasts, well more than double that of the consensus private sector estimate for this year.

Treasury forecasts for more than two decades show under-estimates of both upswings and downturns. This is a consistent record and not, as Joe Hockey and the LNP like to pretend, due to political interference. In general, Treasury estimates are often in the mid-range of the set of forecasts made by economists and various organisations, though since they GFC, as volatility continues, they have tended to be high, over-estimating growth and revenue.

In regard to the concept that the ALP has selected favourable estimates from a range of forecasts, this is an unashamed falsehood by Joe Hockey. Treasury does not provide a range of figures from which government may select. It simply provides a single set, which government then uses.

Finally, the Panel which reviewed Treasury forecasts over the past decade found the Australian Treasury to produce forecasts of good quality, better than the forecasts provided by other Developed economy Treasuries, but with an historical record of larger errors in more volatile economic conditions such as the GFC. That Panel included both private and public-sector experts including Mr. Peter Crone, Chief Economist and Director Policy, Business Council of Australia. Quite obviously Mr Crone is no slave of incorrigible public sector mentality and well able to critique Treasury forecasts from an ‘outsider’ perspective.

A Quick Case Study

[Text in this section drawn from The Mystery of Treasury’s Disappearing revenue: Parkinson explains by Bernard Keane and Glen Dyer at Crikey].

Wayne Swan was pilloried in 2011 and 2012 for non-materializing surpluses. The PEFO statement in 2010 underestimated 2012 revenue by an astonishing $53 billion.

The reason for the discrepency was that the exchange rate didn’t fall in response to deteriorating commodity prices – an eventuality never before seen and therefore not modelled.

The main culprit in this was that Australia’s AAA credit rating continued to attract demand despite falling Terms of Trade. Perversely, the strength of the Australian economy led to a revenue shortfall. Additionally, Treasury found that their model for company tax revenue did not adjust for certain factors such the lower rate of tax that mining companies pay because of their much higher deductions. The model was then tweaked to do so, but that didn’t help Swan in his hour of need.

Can Rudd Win ?

Bottom Line: No
The swing is away from the ALP except in Queensland (and possibly – late mail – WA). And the ALP will not get enough out of Queensland to counter losses in other states.


Some useful stuff-ups by the Libs in the last few days could dampen the swing. And Rudd has pulled some useful tactical moves (support for Marriage Equality and recruitment of Beattie) which will help him. And Abbott with his suppository of all wisdom and sex-appeal comments on consecutive days is building a pleasing charisma of imbecility around the LNP.

The LNP are doing the headless chook on Treasury figures and the GST, now treating the PEFO figures with caution after seemingly settling on their accuracy after rejecting them as fabrications and before that stating they are indispensable to proper debate. On the GST, Abbott’s No changes. Full Stop. End of story. continues to contrast with Sinodinos’ not in the first term characterization.

Shame that Rudd performed so poorly in the first leaders’ debate. But I digress.

For the starting point of my electoral state of play I am using the Morgan Poll of August 2-4 which has the latest state-by-state breakdown including trends. I like Morgan for two reasons. First, it polls by mixed-mode instead of relying exclusively on land lines like most others do, which under-represents the under-30’s vote. Second, it allocates preferences by actually asking respondents what they will do rather than allocating them on the 2010 result.

I then make some adjustments to Morgan based on wot Antony Green sez and my own highly subjective opinions.

1. NSW

Morgan showing swing to ALP of 3.2%.

Sorry Morgan. That’s a bridge too far for me. I can’t believe the NSW corruption scandals and Asylum-seeker frenzy will not lose the ALP votes. I’ll guess that the swing will be to the Libs and it will be 2.5%. Nathan Rees said on The Drum (I think it was 22nd July) that the Obeid corruption scandals would cost the ALP 3%. I’ll just basically award that as a swing even though Rees means something different to that. That gives the Libs 53.7% 2PP.

I’m also awarding Dobell to the Libs as I think Craig Thompson has been irredeemably tarnished. The Libs need 5.1% to win Dobell and I think they’ll get it.

Result: ALP lose 7 seats. The four most marginal Western Suburbs seats plus the two seats formerly occupied by Oakeshott and Windsor plus Dobell.

2. Victoria

Morgan showing a swing to LNP of 1.8% which gives the Libs 46.5%.

That feels low to me. The Gillard local hero factor is gone and I can’t really see the Libs getting less than 48% anywhere except the ACT and maybe TAS, plus Rudd announced a FBT tax crackdown on cars with potential implications for the Vic car industry and component makers.

Rudd has tried to sweeten this by offering $200m to the car industry and the LNP has not yet responded in kind. But I think that severe nervousness in the blue-collar workers will cause them to run like the plague from Rudd’s FBT crack-down. Heck, their colleagues in Sth Aust just voted for a three-year wage freeze. How much do you expect the blueys to take?

I’m giving the LNP 50% 2PP. I think that’s reasonable. That’s a swing of 5.3%

Result: ALP lose 3 seats

Interestingly, both major parties are basing themselves in Victoria for this election. To get a 4th seat the Libs need 5.8% swing, that’s Chisholm held by Anna Burke whose performance as Speaker was brilliant. ALP wont lose that one. After THAT is the seat of Bruce for which the Libs need 7.2%. Nah.

3. Queensland

Morgan showing a swing to ALP of 5.1%.

Return of Rudd local hero. Queenslanders would vote for a toaster if it came from Queensland.

A 5.1% swing would give the ALP 9 seats. From that I will deduct Fisher, currently held by Peter Slipper, on the basis that Longman is a fake marginal according to psephology monomaniacs such as Dr Kevin Bonham. In short, Slipper’s personal unpopularity PRIOR TO this term dragged the margin closer to the ALP.

With him out of the way, the LNP will poll better there.

Yes, the LNP candidate for Fisher is Mal Brough whom a judge said abused legal process in order to destroy Peter Slipper for personal political gain and he should be unelectable, but the media have chosen to basically ignore Brough’s behaviour. So the LNP will retain Fisher.

Result: ALP gain 8 seats.

4. Western Australia

Morgan showing a swing to LNP of 2.1% giving 2PP 58.5%, but I think Barnett’s recent arrogance will create a swing away from the Libs good enough for one seat to go over to the ALP.

The 58.5% reported by Morgan last fortnight seems fair. WA is owned by the LNP at the moment, so they are already working off a high base with further gains hard to come by.

The next available seat is Brand, held by Gary Gray on a 3.6% margin. It seems a bit too much for the LNP to get especially since the Barnett LNP State government has just unashamedly broken some election promises and said that its no big deal that they have done so.

Barnett had to back flip on an sudden halving of the pay-in tariff for solar power fed by households back into the electricity grid and then ramped up various other taxes and charges. He has admitted WA has budget troubles after a dozen years of unprecedented boom. Not a good look.

Said Mr. Barnett, gobsmackingly:

the community doesn’t study election commitments and shouldn’t expect all of the pledges to be adhered to.

Barnett must be ignoring his medication to spout a line like that; especially after three years of the Ju-Liar meme on her broken Carbon Tax promise and Abbott all week tip-toeing around definite commitments to anything using the wafer-thin excuse of probity.

Then another Sandgroper, Don Randall, the Federal MP for Canning said that a Tony Abbott-led government may have to consider reversing election promises, with figures expected to show the poor state of the Federal Budget. Oops. That was a rather unfortunate confirmation of the transparently obvious costings-free strategy being run by the Libs.

Gray is high-profile. Brand would be hard to win anyway and is outside the reported swing. Barnett’s arrogant comments have cooked it. Brand will be retained.

But in fact, Barnett’s liberties with his election promises and the pre-selection of a strong ALP candidate in the seat of Perth have led two WA analysts to say the ALP is dead certain to pick up either or both of Hasluck and Perth.

OK. I’ll go with that.

Result: ALP gain 1 seat in WA

5. South Australia

Morgan is showing a 5.7% swing to LNP, giving them 52.5% 2PP. That’s not enough for the Libs to gain the most marginal ALP seat on offer which is Hindmarsh on 6.1%, and the sitting MP, Steve Georgianis is a respected local MP with a good personal following.

Having said that, the psephologists say that a couple of SA seats may be vulnerable to higher swings as the LNP basically ran dead in most electorates there in the past two elections to sandbag the more marginal seats of Boothby and Sturt.

So the LNP would be hoping for Adelaide (held by Sports Minister Kym Ellis 7.5%) and Wakefield (10.5%).

I’ll stick with Morgan

Result: No change in SA

6. Tasmania

Morgan is showing a 1% swing to LNP, giving them 41% 2PP.

No. Too low. Tas has the highest unemployment rate in the nation, around 9%. I think they’ll be twitchy. Plus Antony Green sez that the Tas State ALP/Green alliance govt. is on the nose. He is foreshadowing a 2 seat loss for the ALP, implying a swing of 7.5% and Lib 2PP of 53.1%.

I’ll go with AG.

Result: ALP lose 2 seats and Wilkie to retain Denison.

7. Northern Territory

No breakdown by Morgan.

A large number of local issues are running against the ALP, not least lingering anger at the interruption of live cattle exports in June 2011. Also, the ALP’s continuation of a LNP policy, John Howard’s ‘Intervention’, is causing the ALP to bleed votes as Aboriginal communities protest against arrogant and heavy-handed govt. intervention and the loss of self-determination. Lingiari voters are also less than impressed with the idea of establishing a nuclear waste dump near Tennant Creek on Aboriginal traditional land. The LNP have organised and campaigned very well in the NT. I think they’ll pick up Lingiari.

I am relying here on the very good analysis by Rolf Gerritson at The Conversation.

Result: ALP lose 1 seat.

8. ACT

No breakdown by Morgan.
This place is ALP gold.

Result: No change in ACT


ALP lose 4 seats, Independents lose 2 seats, LNP gain 6 seats.
LNP: 79 seats
ALP: 68 seats
Other: 3 – Wilkie, Katter, Bandt

Two possible adjustments:
Doofus factor to cost the Libs Greenway as it cost the ALP Boothby in South Australia in 2007.

Marriage Equality causes an avalanche in Under 25 vote and helps retain one or more seats.

There is a realistic possibility of a Marriage Equality bite in this election as Abbott gaffes his way through the issue, saying just today that the issue is simultaneously a vapid, merely trendy fashion while also being very important.

Abbott is at present producing the flaky campaign Left-Liberal commentators expected in 2010 but didn’t get from him. In three days now we have three flakes: suppository, sex appeal and trendy marriage equality. Nice. Nice.

What The ALP Need To Win.

They require 6 more seats and Green support from Adam Brandt in Melbourne.

So they need to:
hold Tasmania and NT
plus keep NSW swing to 1.0% (retain Banks, Lindsay; lose Robertson)
plus pinch Greenway by Doofus factor.
or allow 1.4% swing (retain Banks; lose Lindsay, Robertson) and also retain Dobell (Craig Thompson’s seat) and pinch Greenway by Doofus factor

i.e. must retain nearly all of the highly marginal seats in Western Sydney.
which implies Libs must poll 52.2 or less in NSW (52.6 if Dobell is retained) and get lucky in Greenway.

Too hard.

Australia – meet your new Prime Minister, Tony Abbott.

In 1933 a party of policemen set out from Darwin to question some Arnhem Land Aboriginal people over the deaths of five Japanese at Caledon Bay the previous year.

On the way, still 100 miles from Caledon Bay, the police passed near an encampment of an Aboriginal clan not connected to the incident. The police took the opportunity to enter the camp for the express purpose of raping the Aboriginal women there. They did so, but were interrupted in the very act by the returning Aboriginal husbands, brothers and sons.

A policeman was speared to death.

The much-respected Aboriginal leader, Dhakkiyer, openly stated he had thrown the lethal spear in defence of his wife, voluntarily travelled to Darwin to face trial and was sentenced to death. The patently absurd conviction resulted in popular protest in the Southern capitals of Melbourne and Sydney and the case was appealed to the High Court which overturned the verdict.

Dhakkiyer subsequently disappeared in police custody and was never seen again.

Dhakkiyer’s son, an eyewitness to the event where Dhakkiyer speared the policeman was still alive a few years ago.

It was common knowledge in Darwin in the 1930’s and until the 1950’s that Dhakkiyer had been shot by the police while in their custody and then dumped in Darwin Harbour.

But the truth of this matter has never been admitted.

The grotesque mistrial of Dhakkiyer is a judicial killing, by which I mean a deliberate attempt by the judge, Justice Wells and the legal system to murder Dhakkiyer by false conviction. Dhakkiyer’s reprieve by the High Court was then overturned by the Darwin police who completed the murder at first opportunity.

I would say that the unconfessed murder of Dhakkiyer and the concealment of his body warrants a Judicial Inquiry.

For the people of Arnhem Land, Dhakkiyer’s murder by the State and its agents is not considered a long-ago incident of regret or a rather superficial blemish on an otherwise exemplary record. In Blue Mud Bay Dhakkiyer’s murder is today’s news as they daily live in the pain of his murder and the irretrievable loss of his cultural knowledge which had not yet been passed on and they are still today actively seeking explanation, justification, justice.

Why should they not have it ?

Tony Abbott has in recent times called for a Judicial Inquiry into Julia Gillard’s association with corrupt union officials although he cannot even name the crime that she is supposed to have committed and although in any case the related events occurred before Gillard was an MP let alone Prime Minister. Abbott has also called for a Judical Inquiry into deaths from fires resulting from insulation installations under Kevin Rudd’s Pink Batts scheme.

Judical Inquiry this, Judicial Inquiry that.

Plainly Abbott is not at all concerned with justice, wrong-doing or otherwise in relation to these events. He’s just trying to destroy his political opponents by the machinery of the legal system, much in common with (In)Justice Wells who, unconcerned with justice or facts, simply desired to avenge the spearing of a white policeman.

Abbott is making much of his regular visits to Arnhem Land as he asserts concern for Aboriginal welfare and reconciliation by the mechanism of commercial development of Aboriginal lands. Forgive me if I think his concern is much more for the latter than the former.

Abbott actually opened his election campaign in Arnhem Land and promised the establishment of an Indigenous Advisory Council. During this visit Mr Abbott said:

it is very important that white fellas and black fellas open their hearts to one another

Who could disagree ?

In the words of Dhakkiyer’s nephew:

I like to know about a story from you – your mouth, your heart, your feeling your way of looking at it

Dhakkiyer’s nephew, though, is talking about justice in regard to an unconfessed murder. Does Mr. Abbott’s open heart traverse the same landscape as Dhakkiyer’s relatives? Could that open heart extend to truth in the matter of judicial killings by the white State against Aboriginal persons ? Or is that just another matter of importance to merely a few people with not nearly the imperative of commerce ?

Hey look let’s not open old wounds, let the old dogs lie undisturbed in their sleep, it’s a can of worms, just forget it, move on, cant fix it now, its so long ago. But Julia Gillard 21 years ago living with a corrupt union official ? Oh yes, please proceed very important, necessary, justice must be served, its for the people.

Are Judicial Reviews merely a tool for personal advantage, to destroy one’s opponents in the service of personal ambition, to gain and maintain political power ? Such misuse of the judiciary is a hallmark of totalitarian states, as is the creation of citizen-informer networks such as those proposed by Abbott’s colleaugue, Scott Morrison.

Dhakkiyer was a leader of the Yolngu people. The Garma Festival in Arnhem Land, where Tony Abbott made his call for open hearts is a celebration of Yolngu culture and tradition. As Abbott made his call for open hearts he stood on the very footfalls of Dhakkiyer.

OK. Yes. Let’s have some Judicial Reviews.
Let’s see where your heart is

Where is he ? Who kill him ?
I like to know about a story from you – your mouth, your heart, your feeling your way of looking at it. I want to know. From you people.
Tell us the truth where you buried him.

I asked everyone who had been around Darwin in the 1930’s what they thought had happened to Dhakkiyer and almost invariably they say the police took him out into Darwin Harbour and shot him. – Ted Egan, Justice Of Their Own

In 1934 the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory sentenced Yolngu Clan Leader Dhakiyerr Wirrpanda to death for spearing a policeman. The controversial verdict was subsequently overturned by the High Court amid large-scale protests in Sydney and Melbourne. Dhakkiyer subsequently disappeared while in Police Custody.

He tried for the people. They shot him for the people. For his old people. That his mercy for Dhakkiyer taking all the way to the court. Sitting there no English no understanding just saying like this somebody else have to interperet English the wrong way and making him disappear.

Making him disappear! I am talking strongly because I am the last family and the son of Dhakkiyer. If he broke one little law inside that goal I want them to tell us. I want information from them. Let us know. Because it is true out of my heart, out of my knowledge comes out whatever I do. Keep me reminds back to Dhakkiyer.

I should be with my father. I should be with my father. Just because he left half of his knowlege for us. He left half of the knowledge for us. The full knowledge was taken to Darwin and was just disappeared. Thats what I’m looking and what my family are looking at.

We are looking at very strongly finding where he is.

Some people say they shot him near a railway line in Darwin. Some people say say they shot him and buried him there. Some people are saying that he was carried away to the Darwin wharf and thrown into the sea. Which make me and my family very upset. Throwing man like him, throwing man who is strong leader like him! Honest leader like him! Throwing him to the fish throwing like dog, throwing him like a cow or something for the crocodile, for the rock cod to eat him up. Full black warrior which make our culture strong

We’ve been waiting waiting waiting waiting until today still waiting we heard lots of story about my uncle. I dont know where is he, who kill him, what it is you people have been doing to my uncle. I like to know about a story from you – your mouth, your heart, your feeling your way of looking at it. I want to know where is he, where is he. In here ? In the water, sea, or in the mud. Where is he ? I want to know from you people so I can tell my people in here.

We are not happy. We are not satisfied about books story books writing in a book telling a lie covering yourself. I want to know about true story.

So please. We want our father back. So please tell us the truth where you buried him.


The text above is a transcript from the documentary Tuckier (Dhakiyarr) v the King and Territory by Tom Murray of Macquarie University.