The chooks come home to roost

who thinks that new Queensland premier, Campbell Newman, did not rise yesterday
and kick the living daylights out of his dog (always assuming he does have a
dog and also lacks the sensitivities of an animal lover) does not appreciate
his current frustration.

He would
have just been made aware of the resignation from his Liberal National Party (LNP)
of a senior member of his parliamentary team who has ratted and joined forces
with the renegade Katter’s Australian Party.  And, if you don’t know who they are, think of a bunch of
rednecks with weird ideas who think they’re normal and the rest of us are all

Hopper jumped ship because he says ‘the bush’ is being neglected by the LNP.
His prima facie beef is that there are no Ministers representing electorates
west of the spine of Queensland, the Great Dividing Range. This much is true
and, again prima facie, suggests a distortion of priorities. Yet, as always,
things may not be quite what they seem.

subtext of Hopper’s resignation is that the LNP is fracturing along its
faultlines: the party is an amalgam of the former Liberal and National parties
who merged four years ago.  Hopper
would have us believe the city-centric Liberals are ganging-up on the rural-oriented

thesis may well be accurate. There are certainly sufficient tensions within the
LNP to give it credence. Yet, equally, Hopper and several similarly
disenchanted parliamentary colleagues are smarting that they missed-out on the
spoils of office since the LNP gained government just over half a year ago. He
and his colleagues all fancied themselves as Ministers with all the attendant
perks, power and privilege that go with high office.

There are
few people so disaffected as those who believe their true abilities have been
slighted by lesser individuals. Unable to cope with reality, they blame
everyone else for their loss of self-esteem. Not much can be done about it and
this game has a way to run yet.

What is
interesting is the impact it will have on premier Campbell Newman.

He rose
to prominence as Lord Mayor of the Queensland capital Brisbane, a major city
and one of the larger local government areas in the world. Yet the catapult
from city hall to state government is a wild ride. Put it this way: Newman
managed a budget of some $3 billion in Brisbane. The Queensland equivalent is
$43 billion.  A far bigger
challenge encompassing far more problems, many of them intractable.

Add to
this Newman’s inexperience at the state level. He created parliamentary history
by assuming the state premiership without having served in the parliament
previously. An unorthodox and unprecedented situation.

The size
of the victory achieved by Newman and the LNP was also unprecedented. It gave
him a massive backbench of mostly egotistical representatives and far too few
baubles to keep them all happy. Disaffection was predetermined.

vital element of this volatile mix was the LNP’s inexperience in government. A
predecessor party had served little more than two years out of the past twenty.
This new government is regrettably unfamiliar with governing. Many of its key
advisers, including in the Premier’s Office, lack direct experience in running
a government. It is a very costly deficiency.

The result
has been a series of minor scandals that have cost two ministers their jobs and
another couple barely keeping their heads above water.

The major
challenge for Newman is to assert his authority. He is not shy in demonstrating
his dominance but that is not what is needed now. He needs to exhibit real
political smarts and they have not been on show so far in his term.

government is not in crisis but is drifting ever closer to the edge of a very
deep drop. Newman needs a circuit-breaker but seems unable to create one. This
is a defining period for him and he is not inspiring confidence. His troops
will become seriously restless if they do not see their leader able to cope
with the challenges better than he has been.

polls indicate Queenslanders are feeling similarly uneasy. This is a
make-or-break time for a government that initially looked set to serve several
consecutive terms.

David M. Russell is a professional communicator with a passion for good governance. His personal blog can be found at:

Democracy damns us with governments we deserve


There would be almost
universal acceptance that an athlete who did not practice would be,
axiomatically, unfit for duty. If you don’t attempt to perfect your skills you
cannot expect them to be of a winning standard.

It seems such a simple and
straightforward proposition. So, how come we expect parliamentarians to be far
more gifted than elite athletes? It is a farcical and excessively costly
mistake and one we are seeing played out damagingly in the Queensland
Parliament currently.

The new Liberal National
Party administration of Premier Campbell Newman is displaying all the finesse
of a drunken sailor attempting to dance a fandango on a wet and slippery
bar-room floor. It ain’t a pretty sight.

It would be easy to label
Newman The Nepotist even if he has not (so far, did someone say?) been directly
guilty of the practice himself. Perhaps Campbell the Cronyist will have to
suffice given his placement of former mate Michael Caltabiano into the
Director-Generalship of the Department of Transport and Main Roads.

Overlook the appearance of
cronyism, the Premier, urged his flock back then. This man will deliver value
for money, he pledged. Until it all spectacularly exploded in his face and
taxpayers are forking out around a million dollars to cover Caltabiano’s period
in the sin bin and the cost of replacement players in a charade of musical
chairs that simply sounds cacophonous. How’s that working for you, premier? Not
doing much for us, mate.

Two Ministers have been
forced to quit (or voluntarily resigned as one would have us believe) in the
first eight months of this new government. And several others have skated on
ice so thin it almost produced waves.

And voters are still agog
at how many members of one Minister’s family could find such lucrative
employment in and around and on the teat of government. And they reckon it’s
not who you know. Yeah, right!

The offensive whiff of
scandal must be starting to nauseate those optimistic reformers who hoped so
longingly that a new government would set standards infinitely higher than the
besmirched set that guided the previous several Labor administrations.

Who thought anyone could go
lower than passing a law to allow parliamentarians to lie to parliament? We’ll
have to wait and see but on present indicators we may even be able to hold our

The sad aspect of the
Newman ministry’s baptism of administration is that so much of the pain could
have been avoided if the key players had a sound familiarity with governing.
But when you spend more than 90% of the past twenty years languishing in
Opposition, your skills at ruling become very rusty.

Such is the price of
democracy wherein voters judged the Liberals and Nationals to be unfit to
govern for so long, trusting labor instead. But you would have thought those
sitting opposite would have taken far greater notice of their opponent’s
mistakes and pledged solemnly to themselves to do far better when they got
their hands on the levers of power. Guess they just dozed the days away.

Worse is that these new
Ministers were not given intensive initiation into their administrative roles
and the expectations of them before they started to believe they were born to

Good government demands
familiarity with the burdens of administering well. Lengthy periods in
government or opposition substantially diminish the prospects of quality
governance. That is but one of the many flaws that make democracy sparkle in a
wickedly warped way.

But the incumbents should
realise that elections roll around very quickly and voters have surely
demonstrated their willingness to jettison those found wanting. Judgment Day

David M. Russell is a professional communicator with a passion for good governance. His personal blog can be found at:

A dangerous addiction to discipline

D.RussellMany Abbott supporters will hope, and pray, that Tony reads David's article and notes a growing concern about his ability to be an assertive leader capable of victory. While voters admire and appreciate his "gentlemanly" approach to the sordid realm of politics, they are also keenly aware that "nice guys do come last!" That is the sad truth of it all.

Australia’s alternative Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, has come under renewed scrutiny in recent weeks as a bemused electorate wonders what we have to do to get leaders we actually admire.

We don’t particularly like Prime Minister Julia Gillard and we think her administration is rather lacking in capabilities and competence. But when we run our eye over the alternative team we suffer an involuntary shudder as well. And, the Greens? Well, you’re basically either in love with them or think they’re mad, bad and dangerous.

All of them reckon they’re great but no matter how hard we look, we cannot see much in the way of proof. Certainly it’s a real a difficulty for those in opposition, but this lot have been under the microscope for a couple of years now and we are still trying to find a silver lining.

Things have become so deflating that people are starting to ask for policy debate. Seriously, how bad can politics get when Aussies are so disenchanted with the theatre of leadership that discussing policy seems like a more entertaining alternative?

And, much of this swings on Tony Abbott. When the nation was presented with a hung parliament at the last election, the Opposition Leader got into full swing. He raised merry hell the length and the breadth of the country, protesting that Labor had failed to win enough votes to secure legitimacy and that we needed him to save us.

Labor leader, Julia Gillard, spent her time wooing the independents until she had their support and became Prime Minister. That her wheeling and dealing cost taxpayers billions of dollars to prop up the independents’ sectional interests should not be forgotten when the next vote comes around.

Tony Abbott was left frustrated and cranky: the man whose destiny was denied by a whisker. And he gave vent to his frustrations with a vengeance. He did what his role dictated—he opposed. Relentlessly, manically, and effectively, it must be said. Julia Gillard’s supposed legitimacy crumbled like a stale biscuit. But her numbers held. And Tony kept repeating his mantra like an old, broken record. Until, as one does, we tuned it out. If you can’t turn down an intrusive and insistent noise, you simply adjust your hearing until you fade it into the background.

Which is the bind Tony finds himself currently, incapable of escaping. His determination to remain fixated on that, which initially delivered him success, is now causing grief. So one-dimensional is his role-playing that even Gillard has been able to turn it back on him and lambast him as a thug; a sexist, misogynist one at that.

He’s not, really, and the potential proof of that is to consider how Abbott would be opposing Kevin Rudd if he were still Labor leader and Prime Minister. The carping criticism of the Opposition Leader would be just the same. Gillard is simply fortunate that she can use her gender to great effect in highlighting the serious deficiencies in Abbott’s approach.

So, can he change?

The odds are not good, because when we examine the core values of Abbott – and his lifestyle – we can portend how he would be as Prime Minister.

Tony is a rabid fitness freak. He is obsessed with it. It is what gets him out of bed in the dark every single day without fail to cycle up a near-mountain no matter the weather conditions. And, in the national capital, they are rarely that pleasant at that time of the day. Not that it matters where Tony is, he still exercises. More than most humans can do, marathons and ultra marathons. He has nothing left to prove.

But still he does it with manic determination and, it can be said, a religious fervour. It is this self-flagellating discipline that is Abbott’s defining characteristic. He can no more relax his fitness regimen than he could denounce his God. And that is the nub of the problem.

For all his intelligence and, even, personability, Abbott is unidimensional. To an extent that is alien to the vast majority of Australians. He is an addict to the endorphins released by his exercise. He knows no other way to gain the same satisfaction and he will sacrifice almost anything to get his fix.

He plays politics the same way. Ruthlessly determined, utterly fixated on the goal, and willing to push himself to lengths others simply cannot comprehend.

Which leaves him the odd man out. We simply do not understand him. Even if we accept him for what he is, we cannot come to grips with him. His determination to win at any cost is not a quality that Australians find attractive. Oh, we love to win, make no mistake. But we can lose with a shrug of the shoulders and a belief that next time, we might be victorious.

Tony doesn’t get that and we don’t get Tony. Something has to give. One side, or the other, needs to change. The polls are suggesting it will not be the majority of voters who are willing to change their views. Which leaves Tony with the sternest challenge yet to his defining beliefs. Can the conviction politician modify his articles of faith? The fate of the nation hangs in the balance.

David M. Russell is a professional communicator with a passion for good governance. His personal blog can be found at:

Dirty, rotten, stinking scoundrels

David russell

David Russell once again presents his strong views about our politicians. Especially those rejected by the electorate. Readers will note David's contempt for them as they unite to further suckle the bosom of the public purse. Their last binge on the taxpayers' account has proved insufficient – greed, not withstanding.

The bare-faced cheek of some people is almost
beyond belief.  Their arrogance is
so outrageous you wonder how they can live with themselves. Then again,
politicians have never been noted for their reticence, humility or altruism.

Even so, a new entrant in the scandalously
greedy class has just emerged. The members call themselves The Association of
Former MPs of the Parliament of Australia, no doubt creating another idiotic
acronym, (AFMPPA). Did they not understand what happened when we voted them
out? They were stuff-ups and we no longer wanted them to represent us so we got
rid of them. Or so we thought.

But the lure of easy money has aroused them
from their retirement torpor. They are planning a High Court challenge in an
attempt to regain lurks and perks that were wound-back as part of reforms
ushered through the current parliament earlier this year.

Their entitlement to a lifetime Gold Pass for
free travel was reduced from 25 domestic flights a year to a mere ten, one trip
every five weeks. Superannuation entitlements were also reduced. Bear in mind
that just one of these former MPs – and his family – took 55 free flights in
the last six months of 2011. That makes their sense of entitlement look like a
Buddhist monk with a clothes-basket for a begging bowl.

There are some 400 of these greedy little rats
who are already on generous pensions and unbelievably generous superannuation.
But too much is never enough for some people. Perhaps they should rename
themselves, The Peter Slipper Profligates Foundation, (TPSPF).

The estimated cost to taxpayers of a
successful legal challenge is estimated to run into hundreds of millions of
dollars. But, wait for it; these deluded tragics actually expect taxpayers to
fund that legal challenge. Bloody hell.

I tell you, Australians are noted for being a
pretty easy-going lot but something like this could just foment a revolution.
There’d be no shortage of willing voters ready to leap the barricades and
demonstrate in a visceral way our love and admiration for politicians.

You have to wonder, though, how some people
can be so removed from reality. These brazen usurpers are has-beens, shunned by
the electorate, but appear unable to grasp that rejection. Some kindly name it
relevance deprivation. So, let this be blunt message to the AFMPPA. We got rid
of you because we didn’t like you, we still don’t like you and we find this
initiative not only objectionable, but totally reprehensible.

Honestly, there are racketeers and bank robbers
who have more decency than is being shown by these shameless creatures. And
anyone who believes my words are harsh should know that my true sentiments are
more potent than those expressed here.

Acknowledgement: Steve Lewis, The Courier-Mail.

David M. Russell is a professional communicator with a passion for good governance. His personal blog can be found at:

Tony Abbott, you’re a goose!

David russellDavid Russell pulls no punches in description of Tony Abbott's obsession with Julia Gillard. Many will agree that Tony needs to do more if is he is to win the next election.

How dumb do you have to be to let Julia Gillard beat you? Well, deposed Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is still smarting over that issue and for the life of him cannot work out how things went so badly wrong. At the last election, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott reckoned he had her on toast but the electorate was in two minds and delivered a hung parliament.

Gillard managed to cling to power and despite some tantalisingly close tumbles has managed to avoid slipping over the edge into the abyss. All the while the opinion polls demonstrate very clearly that we do not particularly like her and most of us don’t trust her.

So, what did Tony Abbott have to do to become Prime Minister? Maintain some reasonable pressure on his damned-near vanquished opponent and not offend anyone. Not rocket science. Barely even Politics 101. But, as recent events have shown, way beyond Tony Abbott’s capacity to master.

You’re a goose, Tony. I regret this is so because when the privileged few get to hear you speak live, it’s a most pleasant experience. You are smart, personable, intelligent and convincing.

But as a media personality and parliamentary performer, you’re a train wreck. Seriously, mate.

If you don’t wise up real damned quick, Tones, you’re for the scrapheap. And, truth be known, there will be far fewer mourn your passing than do KRudd. That one I can’t figure out, I confess, but it’s a true story nonetheless.

You just could not take your foot off her jugular, could you? Just would not let go.

Tony, we Aussies don’t like that. It’s not our way. That said it’s beyond question that we Aussie males are fairly often ham-fisted in our relations with women. A bit blunt and frequently forward. But when it comes to the treatment of women in public, there is a line we prefer not to be crossed. You have trampled that line into the dust. Again, and again, and again.

And many of us can’t work out why.  You are highly disciplined (in other areas of your life), intelligent, charming, courteous and considerate. But you have developed a blind spot towards Julia Gillard that is not any longer excusable. She has trumped you and it merely remains to be seen how quickly the hand ends.

It is frustratingly strange because most non-partisan voters don’t appear to think you are demeaning of women or misogynist. They just recognise that you simply cannot get past Julia Gillard being PM. Hey, it is not a turn-on for most of the rest of us either but we have learned to live with it for as long as it takes. That is all you had to do – but you could not.

By contrast, your delightful wife, Margie, is an absolute winner. We respond really well to her. Partly because we can tell she would never lower herself to the rather tatty world of life as a politician. That she believes in you as sincerely and deeply as she does is the best thing in your favour. But you have let down your own wife (and daughters) by your obsessive behaviour towards the Prime Minister.

It really is an unpardonable sin because – no matter how poorly performing this government is – Julia Gillard may now well lead Labor to another election victory. Because of you!

Disgraced Governor-General John Kerr was, and remains, reviled by a large segment of the nation. If Labor gets back because of you and your blind spot for Julia Gillard, Kerr may appear as a saint by comparison.

You are so close to being out of time, Tony.

David M. Russell is a professional communicator with a passion for good governance. His personal blog can be found at

Half Full Glasses

David-Russell David Russell explains why Australians are unhappy with our government: 

It is fascinating how often the commentariat takes the Australian people for mugs. Like this past week when the number-crunchers determined that our national economy was performing better than anybody had really expected.

Growth figures showed our engine of growth was powering along at a rate of 4.3 % per annum. This puts us in the top bracket of the league table for the whole world and, certainly, is better than a kick in the crotch. But then we were berated by a number of senior commentators who tried to determine why we could not be happy when the economy was simply powering along. Their fulcrum was the exhortation by Reserve Bank of Australia Governor, Glenn Stevens, exhorting us to see our glass as half full and not half empty.

So, what are commentators missing when they berate us for being sad-sack curmudgeons instead of joyfully giddy innocents who can’t grasp the big picture?

Well, the fact they seem to ignore is that the Australian people are not as simple or naive as they so frequently like to imagine. The simple fact may just be that the people are cleverer than the so-called intelligentsia would dare to dream.

There are several factors at play. First is that while the national economy may be going comparatively gang-busters we do not accept that the current federal government is the architect of its sound functioning. Most Australians just want this government gone. They do not have faith in it and they resoundingly dismiss its competence. The national mindset appears to be overwhelmingly that we believe the economy is doing fine in spite of the Gillard administration and not because of it.

The other reality overlooked is that while things may be doing just fine – statistically – here at home, we are not stupid enough to discount the frightening financial turmoil in Europe, the economic torpor in the USA and UK, and the intractable belligerence that bedevils the Middle East and other military hotspots like Afghanistan and Pakistan. The commentators – and federal Treasurer Wayne Swan – would have us believe we are miserably misanthropic in not recognising the good fortune of having a strong domestic economy. But perhaps the reality is that we are simply sensibly cautious in recognising that a threatening global catastrophe could change everything in the blink of a stockmarket frenzy.

In an era of globalisation we have learned that no nation is an island and we are just as much hostage to events in far-flung corners of the world as we are to the temper tantrums of local politics. Our perceived pessimism is merely pragmatic prudence.

There is a sad corollary which is that Australians are not so much intrinsically pessimistic about our national future but deeply disillusioned with our governance: which includes both government and opposition. Those who exhort us to feel good about ourselves ought to get their own houses in order and give us valid reasons for optimism. Because at the moment they are simply robbing us of the will to live.

David M. Russell is a professional communicator with a passion for good governance. His personal blog can be found at

The Letter Of The Law

David-Russell David Russell argues that our political leaders need to aquire ethics and values, and another legalistic "code" is a step in the wrong direction: 

The question was asked recently as to why federal parliamentarians do not have a formal code of conduct. The issue emerged in the wake of the allegations levelled at Craig Thomson and Peter Slipper about the performance of their duties.

Now, admittedly, the Thomson allegations relate to his activities prior to election as a Member of Parliament but, given they include suggestions he utilised some $250,000 of union funds that were not his own to fund his election campaign, most people would regard it as a pertinent overlap.

What initially proved compelling political theatre as the lurid and sensational claims  about both MPs were made public by an excited media pack has become nauseating as we witness interminable attempts to prove or disprove culpability. The prevarication, posturing and pragmatism that has characterised most of those caught-up in these dramas has fomented a wave of public revulsion that all this has happened with, effectively, public money.

The frustrating aspect to the scandal is the almost complete focus on whether either man has actually broken the law. If they have, certain penalties will surely flow and a clear pathway to conclusion will likely have been determined.

But that is not the burning issue. It matters not, in the ultimate scheme of things, whether Peter Slipper as a Member of Parliament or as Speaker of the House of Representatives never once breached the regulations governing the use of taxis and hire cars. Similarly,  whether he remained strictly within entitlement for his extensive overseas and domestic travel is not the core issue.

What matters to taxpayers – and what makes them even angrier about the blame-shaming and buck-passing that has shrouded these incidents – is that Slipper has blatantly abused his moral entitlements. Even if every single journey he has ever made is entirely legal, most voters believe he has rorted the system.

But as Government and Opposition play games impinging on the bigger scheme – who gets to rule the nation – the abuse of ethical practice rates barely a mention anywhere.

The same goes for Thomson. He is, without question, entitled to the presumption of innocence when it comes to breaching the law. He is, without question, entitled to defend any charges that may arise and be granted full protection of due process.

But voters have unquestionably condemned him for flouting all accepted conventions about what standards of behaviour are morally appropriate for a Member of Parliament.

It is clear from the attitudes and statements of both these MPs that they resile from any sense of shame that they have flouted public expectations about a natural code of conduct for parliamentarians. Their actions are deemed morally reprehensible by a very large segment of the population but they refuse to act accordingly.

This makes is abundantly clear that a formal code of conduct would have little prospect of curtailing such abusive of privilege. A draft code was in fact developed and circulated not long ago but it ran to some 90 pages. Such complexity only aids and abets those who have only sufficient conscience to find loopholes to exploit.

What is needed is for our parliaments to demand moral and ethical behaviour and stop playing semantics with the letter of the laws they write.

David M. Russell is a professional communicator with a passion for good governance. His personal blog can be found at

Hasten Slowly

David-Russell David Russell no-doubt controversially argues that it might be time for the Coalition to change tack and lay off attacking Labor: 

There are many who so thoroughly dislike  the Gillard Labor Government (or, perhaps, just the Australian Labor Party, per se) who will not like the following viewpoint. But it may still have validity.

The issue is the simmering determination of many key MPs in the federal Liberal-National Coalition to seize the reins of power at the earliest possible moment. They view the performance of the Gillard administration with such distaste and disdain that they are inclined to take any possible advantage to end its rule prematurely.

They believe fervently that they would be doing the nation a favour to rid us of Labor and it is hard not to disagree. Quality governance and the Gillard track record are oxymoronic terms.

Yet, patience is so often such a wonderful virtue.

Imagine if the Coalition maintained a steady pressure on the government but took a substantial step back from constantly conveying a climate of crisis about its performance.  The sky would not fall in and life would go on pretty much as normal.

Would Labor’s chances of winning the next election be substantially enhanced by such a strategy? There are no guarantees but such is the visceral antipathy to Julia Gillard  that it is very difficult to imagine a revival. Would a Rudd return restore Labor’s electoral prospects? Hardly likely given the advertising ammunition available to the Coalition from the trouncing of Rudd’s most recent leadership bid. No-one else in Labor’s wings appears to stand a snowflake’s chance in hell.

So, what spoils are at stake?

On its present course, the Coalition seems likely to go to the polls perceived as a carping critic whose greatest claim to fame is that the other guys are so bad, we look good by contrast. Yes, it will work given just how appallingly Labor is governing. But the risk is that the electorate will not see that as deserving of a strong mandate. The corollary is a Coalition administration with sufficient numbers for one or maybe two terms.

Time is running out for the Coalition to demonstrate its positive side (it does have one, doesn’t it?) and to canvass a detailed program of reform capable of attracting a major mandate in its own right. Such a result could generate a vote of confidence that would have the Coalition in office for three terms with a good chance of a fourth.

Certainly the opinion polls suggest Labor will be decimated regardless. But if the electorate decides the Coalition is demonstrating a similar lack of positive values as Labor has been doing it may well decide to cast a pox on both their houses. And three short years in office may suddenly seem like fool’s gold and the squandering of a once-in-a-generation opportunity.

There IS a difference between not giving a sucker an even break and keeping one’s foot on an opponents’ throat to the extent that it is like washboarding. Aussies have never liked bullies.

David M. Russell is a professional communicator with a passion for good governance. His personal blog can be found at

Emmo’s songsheet

David-Russell David Russell looks at Craig Emerson's recent piece in the Wewkend Australian: 

Pity poor Craig Emerson, Labor’s Minister for Trade and Competitiveness. No matter how hard he tries to tell us that Labor is our salvation, he just can’t get the words and the music right.

In The Weekend Australian he opened an opinion piece with the fateful words: “With a mining tax and a carbon tax starting on July 1, get ready for assertions that Gillard Labor is the highest taxing government in Australia’s history.”

Could have been a beautiful story. Truly. But before going to press Craig forgot to talk to that mythical someone who is coordinating Labor’s approach to domestic politics. The person who inspired Nikki Savva’s inspired critique of Labor’s spin doctoring on the carbon tax – fatefully in the same edition of The Weekend Australian.

Savva explained how Prime Minister Gillard and Treasurer Wayne Swan have resorted to the ultimate trick in Labor’s bag of political scheming foibles: ignore the truth and pretend it’s something else.

Savva catalogued with admirable finesse how the words ‘carbon tax’ has disappeared from Gillard and Swan’s lexicons. They have been supplanted by the term ‘carbon pricing’. Climate Change Minister Greg Combet, was also issued the same songsheet and he has sung sweetly about ‘the carbon pricing mechanism’. Curmudgeonly members of the commentariat have displayed their typical bitchy refusal to bow before The Great Spin Doctor in the Sky and have questioned these eminent representatives of the Australian electorate about their quibbling only to be met with a straight bat of price rather than tax.

Until Craig left his songsheet at home and blundered into print with an opening salvo that would have Labor’s apparatchiks vomiting their breakfasts by raising, in his opening paragraph, the very spectre of Gillard Labor being the highest taxing administration in Australia’s history. Oh, Craig, how could you?

Certainly Craig went on to intellectually propose the alternative viewpoint but all too little, too late. Could be a frosty reception at the next Caucus meeting, Craig. Just quietly, mate, the word tax has been removed from the hymnal.

And to think there will be former Labor MPs after the election who will wonder just what happened and why? Yeah, go figure, guys.

David M. Russell is a professional communicator with a passion for good governance. His personal blog can be found at

Labor’s Military Madness

David-Russell David Russell looks at Labor's Defence Cuts: 

Ya gotta love Labor’s new guru, Bob Carr. He strides into the Foreign Ministry like a prodigal son returned to save the whole disgraced family. Good luck with that, Bob! Still, he’s an enthusiastic son of a gun and worthy of a good deal of respect. But ya still gotta wonder just where his head is at.

So, he goes to China and makes a few small fluffs. Nothing catastrophic but just enough to ring some warning bells for his hosts.

Then, with a first class seat awaiting him, he takes off for Japan. And this is where he then lambasts his Chinese hosts for not being transparent about their military escalation. Bob softens his blow by saying that their economic rise is a good thing and the world can sleep tight at night coz building your military might is just what a growth-oriented nation would do. Of course.

In fact, he said: “A country that is growing economically and re-emerging as a great power in the world will seek to modernise its military in an appropriate fashion and this is happening with China.”

But, hold on a minute what: what’s the score with good old Australia? Well, clearly we are not a great power but we do get to exercise a degree off influence well ahead of our economic size and power and we fight in most of the conflicts going around the globe at any one time. All in the name of keeping our alliances tight, naturally.

So, Bob, how come your party is currently winding-back our military to a level not seen since before the Second World War? Just as our global influence arguably reaches a new peak on the basis of our quality economy, your colleagues emasculate our military, in defiance of your own mantra about global power projection?

What are we to assume, Bob? That we are a nothing nation that should resile from our global position of influence? That our sound economy can only be propped-up by dismantling our military apparatus? That we are suffering a unique form of Labor cultural cringe that says we should face the world cap in hand with our eyes cast meekly downwards?

Can we have it both ways, Bob? Or are you just posturing in a meaningless and embarrassing manner in just the same way that your Prime Minister and your Ministerial colleagues are doing domestically?

Spare us, please, from an egotistical man with real talent but who believes his own abilities are so damned good that he does not need to even establish a sound global strategic and tactical framework in which to articulate Labor’s approach to our place in the world. Then again, Labor’s view of power projection is so crippled that it believes it is okay to cosset ‘rogue nations’ like Slipper and Thomson to shore up its own position. On that basis, wait for Labor to propose an alliance with North Korea and Libya. Maybe it’s time for Carr to get off the jets and sit in an office for a wee while to work out just what he might be able to achieve while in office. This task has proved beyond the ability of his Prime Minister so don’t hold your breath waiting for Carr to deliver the goods. Just another in a very long line of this administration’s failures.

David M. Russell is a professional communicator with a passion for good governance. His personal blog can be found at