[Press release follows]
Yellow-cake John: Australia quietly signs up to nuclear club
Canberra, Monday 17 September 2007
Australian Greens Climate Change
Spokesperson, Senator Christine Milne, today condemned the Howard
Government's action in signing up to the Global Nuclear Energy
Partnership overnight, without making any public announcement of that
Senator Milne said "In the dying days of his Government, John Howard has
signed up to George Bush's Global Nuclear Energy Partnership at a
meeting in Austria, seemingly without any public statements that he has
"GNEP is a truly Orwellian idea - spreading nuclear technology and
resources in the name of preventing nuclear weapons proliferation. It
can and will only make the world a more dangerous place by making the
ingredients for nuclear weapons available to more countries around the
"Having signed onto GNEP with barely a word to the Australian people,
John Howard must now come forward and explain what he has signed us up
for. Will we now be required to store the world's nuclear waste?
"This is a major public debate in Canada, where fears that becoming a
global nuclear waste dump would be a requirement under GNEP have thus
far made them hesitate before agreeing to join the club.
"The decision to sign onto the GNEP agreement overnight has put nuclear
issues fairly and squarely on the election agenda.
"Kevin Rudd must now step forward and commit to repudiating this
agreement if he wins the looming election."
Contact: Tim Hollo on 0437 587 562
Media and Communications Adviser
Senator Christine Milne
Phone: + 61 (0) 2 6277 3063
Mobile: + 61 (0) 437 587 562
By Glenn Cordingley | September 17, 2007
MORE than 120 scientists have appealed to federal Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull not to approve Tasmania's pulp mill at its planned location until further research is carried out.
The 128 experts have sent a signed statement to Mr Turnbull calling for a fully integrated independent assessment of the $2 billion Gunns Ltd project in the Tamar Valley, north of Launceston.
One of the signatories, Dr Francisco Neira, a research scientist at the Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute, says a detailed study along the Tamar estuary should be undertaken for at least one year.
The scientists represent fields including chemistry, zoology, botany, oceanography, atmospheric science, marine biology and environmental impact assessment.
They say key issues were left unexplained when Gunns withdrew the project from scrutiny of the state's independent Resource Planning and Development Commission in March this year, citing delays and escalating costs.
Premier Paul Lennon reacted by introducing a fast-track assessment process of the mill through state parliament.
The project has now been approved by Tasmania's parliament, but still needs federal environmental approval.
Mr Turnbull has delayed his own decision until a federal report is compiled by Chief Scientist Jim Peacock into what possible effects the proposal could have on marine waters and migratory and threatened species.
The results could be known as early as this week.
The scientists are concerned over the mill's "dumping of 64,000 tonnes of effluent per day in the Bass Strait", its impact on forests for wood supply, and air pollution in the Tamar Valley.
Dr Neira said there were "serious concerns with the state's fast-track assessment".
"Gunns and the Tasmanian Government have failed to properly assess the impacts of the pulp mill's effluents on the marine environment and the Tamar estuary," Dr Neira said.
He said studies along the estuary's length should be carried out for at least one year "to ascertain what impacts the mill may have on this highly sensitive estuarine ecosystem".
Dr Neira said the Tamar estuary acted as a breeding and/or nursery ground for numerous fish species including anchovy, flathead, yellow-eyed mullet and Australian salmon.
He said atmospheric experts had expressed concerns over the mill's location in the Tamar Valley "whose well-known inversion layer can trap air pollution for days at a time".
The ABC is reporting an 8 point swing back to the Howard led federal Coalition government. And see here too at Sydney Telegraph Government claws back poll support which to our mind is actually a 4 point swing off the ALP to the Govt from 59:41 to 55:45.
We interviewed two centre right type voters, regionally based growers, at the Organic Food Market in Marrickville yesterday on Sunday. They sounded upbeat about the co prime ministership arrangement of officially nominating Peter Costello as the next Prime Minister if the Howard Government is re elected.
"It's good" the grower said, "It's an orderly change."
Well maybe. Or maybe the swing back to the government is because conservative voters (which we are not) like the idea of a change to Costello sooner rather than later?
9's Sunday show internet poll had 59% saying Howard should retire.
Mal Turnbull is airbrushing Howard from his newsletter too apparently: Turnbull flyer leaves out PM and Libs
The view on ABC is that Howard is now safe from any challenge in the Coalition party room tomorrow. Maybe so too. But is he electable? Time for a bigger change more like it.
Postscript #1 8am Tues 18th Sept
Fran Kelly on abc radio national just now with Treasurer but also "PM in waiting" was revealing for Peter Costello striking a chatty, amicable tone. In short the right kind of tone to appeal to the general public from a very low base of 18 per cent as preferred PM. So why so moderate and kind a tone? Whatever it is Peter Costello sounded like a man who has avoided a gallows, either as losing leader of the Coalition in a bloody, successful challenge in the party room today, or 'a never to be PM' frustrated wannabe. Has he avoided both now, or will Rudd spoil his party by winning the election? Even then Costello won't get the approbium. It looks like a close election for sure Howard v Rudd and all hands to the wheel in that federal election stoush.
Notice the flanking move via the Heiner affair in a speech by Senator Barnaby Joyce re yet more fallout of the dirty National Party Joh years back to 1990. A nasty corrupt murderous time in Qld that may have tainted the ALP during that time too? That effectively is the allegation back at Rudd who was chief of the Qld Premier's Dept back in 1990. Pretty old and desperate for the Coalition to trawl back so far? Probably.
Picture: From top left at University of Technology meeting of Sydney Alliance to Avert Desalination 12th Sept 2007: Vic Sims Aboriginal elder and singer of La Perouse, NSW Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell, Minister for Utilities Nathan Rees, Gary Blaschke of Botany Bay Catchment Alliance (also South West Environment Centre, No Port Enfield group), Sutherland/Kurnell community leaders.
On the weekend admirable Wendy Frew wrote up the new very big climate damaging Moolarben coal mine near Mudgee approved by the Iemma Govt. This adds to the outrageous Anvil Hill coal mine already approved by this NSW Govt.
Similarly the Iemma Govt promote a $2B desal dinosaur (DD) plant which will burn up precious renewable wind energy that should be replacing coal use not adding to energy use. The costs are likely to be much higher than the headline $1.76B as here
This huge extra energy demand, and nasty damage to Botany Bay is being ‘greenwashed’ with renewable energy as greenhouse emissions are allowed to climb higher.
Meanwhile the federal electioneering Rudd/Garrett ALP colleagues and their Climate Change Institute patronised by Bob Carr are grandstanding their climate change credentials. Not hard by contrast with Howard’s Coalition but it’s mostly a cynical wedge game. Rudd and Iemma are both all for coal mining. They reckon Greens MP Bob Brown has ‘rocks in his head’ opposing coal.
But Iemma unlike Rudd actually has to publicly approve the dangerous coal mines and extreme DD while dam capacity is at 60% (a 4 year supply). No wonder Iemma is not on the platform with Rudd these days. Indeed Sydney has 1.2 metres of rainfall a year also available to some degree for a smart government who can catch it at reasonable price (not the $6B claimed by Minister Rees). Water pipes are leaking at 1000 breaks a year in Sydney too. And so the farce of NSW governance rolls on.
It calls up the great political necessity for PR propaganda to confuse the punters something is really being done about climate change at State level while coal and DD actually rule policy.
So what do we get in the tv news 7, 9, 2 and Sunday press on Sept 16th 07? Exhortations from naked Iemma that ‘climate change is real’, and so he is supporting indefinite level 3 water restrictions: New water cuts here for decades. A climate change figleaf of responsibility for brand ALP in NSW far more interested in promoting an extra million city dwellers and business activity over the next 35 years, a time period beyond sensible forecasting. Ditto NSW Utilities Minister Nathan Rees. The figleaf is just not that big.
The embarrassment of State Labor contrasting with pro Kyoto Protocol federal Labor is acute. At both levels of team ALP they support coal and overdevelopment and federally simply want to wedge Howard’s Liberal National Coalition, like Carr did Fahey at state level in a close contest in 1995 via wilderness forests. But just like ongoing woodchipping of forests today, the ALP green is surface deep on climate protection in 2007. Hence the level 3 PR figleaf: It just became too hard to justify a $2B DD conversion of sea water and let people piss it away unrestricted.
But you can’t fool all the people all the time as demonstrated by a public meeting held at the UTS in the CBD last week. A feisty mob of 200 friends of Botany Bay from Kurnell to La Perouse, Sutherland Shire and west to Chullora campaigned against the $2B desalination boondoggle for the construction and overdevelopment sector who donate big time to the ALP in NSW.
And their case against the DD has some political dynamite of interest to the State opposition. At the meeting were leader Barry O’Farrell, MP Malcolm Kerr, upper house MP Ficara , John Kaye MLC (Greens), Professor Stuart White of Institute for Sustainable Futures, green ngo champion Gary Blaschke, and in particular local Aboriginal elder Vic Sims. Vic is a highly respected artist and was incredibly charming with anecdotes about seeing a whale shark in the Bay as a child. The apology by Gary Blaschke from the podium for "stuffing up the Bay" to Vic Simms with eye contact from the front row was a profound moment.
Other letters of protest against the DD came from Bruce Baird MP, Lord Mayor Clover Moore, as well as news that Federal Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull is looking into vandalism of international heritage values in the Bay. Not surprisingly responsible minister Rees also fronted the meeting for a bollocking and argued his case as best he could. Neither Premier Iemma or federal MP Peter Garrett responded to invitations.
The green groups have delivered 40,000 leaflets recently (17K by this writer) informing the public of annual increase of water bills of over $100 - an underestimate actually, more like $130 pa - to subsidise the desal project not needed for at least 4 years. Prof White pointed out with demand management and wise water restrictions between level 3 and 4, we just don’t need the dinosaur at all … unless you believe in hyper development of Sydney, controlled by developers.
As Prof White told the meeting the cost of the DD is a lot of schools and hospitals, and its funny how all round Australia Premiers are retiring after signing desal contracts. Some gold watch.
Picture: Protesters at Premier Morris Iemma's election launch in early 2007, concerned about a state govt overdevelopment in the sensitive seat of ...Bennelong. Meanwhile Howard swears to stand by Bennelong
Author’s general introductory note (skip this if you know this regular weekly column):
This is not a well packaged story. It’s a contemporaneous traverse of the Sunday television free to air political talkies indicating the agenda of Establishment interests: Better to know ones rivals and allies in Big Politics and Big Media.
Indeed it’s the tv version monitoring task similar to what Nelson Mandela refers to here in his book Long Walk to Freedom (1994, Abacus) written in Robben Island prison (where he was meant to die like other African resister chiefs of history in the 19C), at page 208
“..newspapers are only a shadow of reality; their information is important to a freedom fighter not because it reveals the truth, but because it discloses the biases and perceptions of both those who produce the paper and those who read it.”
Just substitute ‘Sunday tv political talkie shows’ for "newspapers" in the quote above.
For actual transcripts go to web sites quoted below except with Riley Diary on 7. And note transcripts don’t really give you the image content value.
- We noticed on the vision last night Rudd, and the night before, with no NSW State Premier within cooee, perhaps to avoid protesters like those pictured above. Or here below at the ALP National Conference. Pesky protesters about real stuff. Don't they know they didn't pay for the best democracy money can buy:
- On reflection it looks like Ruddy (Rudd's bold challenge)
is trying to spook the Coalition about the proximity of the election, they being on tenderhooks if and when Newspoll dumps on PM Howard next Tuesday 18th Sept and his backbench really stares at the political abyss for real. More here via The Curmudgeon (we do love)
- Fallout for the Iemma/Howard law and order tub thump after APEC continued to dribble in the suburban freebies via front pager sympathetic to the protesters in the Earlwood/Canterbury Valley Times Sept 13 07, and News Ltd owned The Glebe at page 7 13 Sept picture story re Daniel Jones prominent in SBS Dateline coverage pre big rally, and an impressive young bloke too.
- Which calls up the NSW Police Media Unit prize for Talking Turkeys in the The Media supplement, inhouse media industry bible:
- Speaking of jelly backs, we notice Jeff Angel director of Total Environment Centre oft in the news seems to have found his voice regarding cosy secretive govt committee processes (eg renewable energy), and seems indeed to be singing like a bird about Part 3A repeal of planning and environmental protections (a prominent lead letter in the SMH a week or two back: See Rule rides roughshod over community voices in decision-making ... signing for some 50 groups as distinct from say the 120 member groups of the Nature Conservation Council and non aligned groups like Greenpeace and this writer's small network). Angel is often on abc radio and Stateline last Friday here in NSW (By Any Other Name ) again attacking the ALP State govt. But it all looks too little too late and face saving to this writer as regards Angel's past collaboration.
It seems too much of a coincidence such new found back bone coming after SAM here writing a withering, and we think accurate piece about Angel's 10 year history of giving comfort to the Carr led ALP in NSW (he famously wrote in the SMH in 2002 that Carr was the greenest premier in the history of Australia). Yet Angel's complaints now source from Carr's governance (including Carr's Part 3A) and Angel helping achieve such a disastrous majority for Carr in 1999 and 2003:
This process no doubt self aggrandised Angel's status and role, but at the immeasurable expense of the NSW and Australian environment in terms of land clearing (about 2M ha in NSW alone), woodchipping (at least 10M tonnes natural forest onging in NSW, 80M nationally) especially in East Gippsland but exported out of Eden, cyanide mines at Timbarra and Lake Cowal, failure to really deliver a 'green' Olympics, and any number of other depredations. And that's not counting corrupted governance of the NSW ngo green sector itself. Just ask Noel Plumb ex CEO of National Parks Assocation and a swathe of mid rank green campaigners. Angel till now has been the Howard of the NSW green movement. Ruthless. Which is why the Green Party is an essential contrast.
- Surprisingly turgid article by James Woodford, Jeff Angel protege and NSW ALP groupie about how to write fiction - for 10 year olds? p53, August 26 2007 Sun Herald. Woodford has been absent Fairfax media for quite a few months now.
- Naomi Klein has a very tightly written piece in the Good Weekend presently, updating what JK Galbraith called the "military industrial complex" which bleeds the social services budget of the USA dry to promote it's "disaster economy" as Klein denotes it. How true. Some stats - in 2001 there were 2 security oriented lobby firms in the USA and in mid 2006 there were 543 linking legislators to venture capital. Another - as of December 2006 there were 205 of 245 that could be tracked out of a total of 360 released from Gitmo had been totally cleared by their home countries of any terrorism. She laments the commercialisation of security for lacking real democratic rigour, but methinks JK Galbraith sadly has been here before too.
- Same Good Weekend has a funny piece on Shrek, err IR Minister Joe Hockey who prefers to "observe pain" not live pain, hence the hard days work on the back of a quad bike looking at the view? Quite obviously a spoiled youngest child and cowardly about his real wet liberal values under the Howard regime. Sad really.
- Amusing to notice the Daily Telegaph acknowledging Howard's "hubris" in the Saturday editorial after the PM has put a daisy cutter through the Liberal Party organisation such that he owns all good news and thus still a 49% personal approval rating. All it signifies is he will be last to drown, such that Warren's cartoon has Howard as a toss up "can't win with/without him" on a coin. Truth to tell Howard is a tosser.
- Not that Rudd is less so if Mike Steketee in his book review "The Steel in Rudd" Australian Literary Review July 4 2007 p10 is to be believed" "determined ....innate conservatism ... humility ... didn't come naturally ....accepts where power lies ....never challenged anything [as a student] ... pragmatic". A perfect PM for a convict/survivor society?
- AAP story in Resources within Career section of the Australian every week p10 sept 15 re Robert Purves's Environment Business Australia re binding targets on climate change.
Meet the Press
Hockey IR minister with compere Paul Bongiorno. Displays his Howard loyalty despite Sunday Age story Speculation won't peter out about Costello ascension still quite possible this Tuesday re next Newspoll.
Avuncular Joe but mostly waffle.
First adbreak IR advert by unions against Howard extreme system, they say.
Jennifer Hewitt now with The Australian, and Mark someone Adeliade Advertiser both News Ltd folks.
Good question re Joe happy to be fall guy on IR? He really does look like Shrek. Amusing but is it ministerial? Not really.
Hewitt drives in the nails on Costello/Howard oscilliations as per disturbing vivisection cartoon by Moir yesterday.
Next guest is John Conner who in fact is aspiring ALP politician like Peter Garrett by the judge of the funding sources, Carr involvement in same Climate Institute, just as Carr used forest protection to drive a wedge on Liberal National Party in NSW then trashed them like this at Badja 2007, which Conner helped to facilitate when CEO of NSW Nature Conservation Council, hand in glove with ... Jeff Angel.
Footage of Garrett claiming hypocrisy. Ironic given his own failure on Tas pulp mill.
Conner sings a slick song re Kyoto, like a lawyer looks at the questioner?, not the camera so all we are seeing is a profile. Now to front with panel. Strong grasp of his subject, and progressive setting. Handles Hewitt bouncer easily. Very fluid talker, even a little haughty (before a fall?). Looks and sounds like ALP pollie material after this interview. After the wedge has worked, with not one less coal mine. Camera out take has chatting going strong because climate change really is the wedge despite piss weak ALP, and inevitable post election sleaze - like the Tas pulp mill (subject of a Sydney) conference Balmain Town Hall yesterday.
Transcript in due course www.ten.com.au/meetthepress
7 Weekend Sunrise, 8.35-40 am Riley Diary -
Howard leadership, Python allusion we used earlier this week, very gross and bloody re only a flesh wound, blood spirting from stump(s). "Your a looney". 'Team work' with cartoon music.
Savage satire. Frightening politics.
Again Don Bradman allusion we also have sledged, team won but he got a duck and footage of Howard lousy bowling style.
Q & A Howard stay on backbench is incredulous.
Julia Gillard as Deputy Opposition leader is talent. Trawls Coalition leadership travails notes uncertainty point as the real crux of the problem for Howard, Costello and Coalition generally.
Claims Costello in lock step with Howard, worse on IR, lack policy like ALP as per question time in Parliament last week. Vote for Rudd is really a vote for him. Declines Carr triumphalism.
Panel Fran Kelly (abc radio national), Glen Milne (News Ltd) both very acute. Misha Schubert Age also clever.
The 'Howard/Costello leadership' - co joined - "Coward leadership" is the Glen Milne line, ouch.
Misha also reckons Costello is more problematic for the ALP with Howard’s measure.
Similar to 9 slow mo deconstruction of the power transfer, as the big power cogs turn from Howard to Costello in the minds of hundreds of thousands of viewers in a mind meld with the show’s script, and not pushed but holding hands, like Oakes and Costello on 9 at roughly the same time similarly taking hundreds of thousands of viewers.
Very interesting, not seen such a consensus in footage in real time before.
Milne says PM is being airbrushed out of local MP campaigns according to his advice. Fran Kelly says Coalitino morale down. Tips housing affordability policy emergence. Misha schubert quietly says policy emergence on early childhood. And Milne says Textor Cosby will meet on when to call election (? not sure I got that).
Home page is http://www.abc.net.au/insiders/
Costello with Laurie Oakes. Diumvirate? Costello leaves open he can be drafted, words show he won’t challenge if newspoll is bad on Tuesday. Won’t break his word to Howard to run with him as his deputy. But if Howard loses his job, he has to reconsider obviously. He will be released from that word as his bond.
Costello sings the govt (ie his own) virtues on economic credentials.
LO teases out the confusing situation of who has finality on policy settings.
LO coauthor policies? Costello labours responses around Treasurer costing as usual and team work. Mouths all the words but sounds very problematic.
LO, supporters worry PC will be tainted if lose the election. PC says that’s the way it works in Cabinet system.
It’s a slow pace scary dangerous interview you can hear the rusty cogs of changeover from Howard to Costello turn against age and time and grime for lack of use. But turn they do.
Costello livens up what he stands for, strong economy, education, enfranchising people etc etc. Fluid, positive lively animated.
LO uses co-prime minister tag, Costello doesn’t blink and answers accepting the tag. The slow big cog turns another half wheel.
Costello goes on with his economic soliloquy re future funding etc.
LO delicately asks what he would do as prime minister. Costello again answers accepting the tag, as ostensible prime minister. The big cog turns another half wheel. Like backing a giant truck into a narrow drive. They both look at eachother knowingly at the transfer of power symbolism on the screen.
Last week poll had 59% surprisingly vote Howard should stand down as PM.
Feature story on alcohol drugs.
The Composter #1 Sept 07 – a newsletter for Addison Rd Community Centre (ARC) visitors only fit for the composter … after reading of course. Circulation - 200
Adios General Manager Ian Laird, overall good job
Ian resigned last Wed 12/9. On his watch of 18 months we noticed:
- new water tanks (4)
- new access paths (2) and crossings (2)
- new ute, no more unregistered dodgies on site
- functional website for the ARC – google ‘Addison Rd Centre’
- new computer server
- normalising lease rentals on pro rata area basis
- new pocket gardens
- mulching and more mulching and more …
- new anchor tenancy Children’s Services Central
But perhaps best of all the weakening of the ‘old boy culture’ as one female tenant implied last week while TC trawled the compost.
ARC still needs a sense of humus
There’s a new composter at ARC near hut 28 and Conservation Volunteers. Hooray. It’s a 2.5m long, 1.5m wide brute. Bring it on eg bay 2 and 3. Be proud of your compost. Embrace the inner compost. ARC has lost top soil for decades. Time to stop, nay reverse this sadness with mulch and other measures like better gutters, swales (bumps) to slow run off, new turf blah blah.
Fruit and veg dumpers … we know where you live
Last Sunday rotting fruit and veg was dumped at ARC. Dumping is not composting which requires layering and covering. If we catch you we will have to compost you. But worse it rotted for 4 days. Hello, grounds staff? 15 minute job on a Monday do yer think?
Market visitors – ‘you vill separate your waste’
Okay so the world is going to hell in a handbasket. Let’s ignore that and get our own market waste on track while enjoying great food and coffee and fun stuff. TC is going to guide and advise visitors to SEPARATE THEIR WASTE this Sunday at the market. God be merciful.
Did you know?
The ARC is not owned by Marrickville Council. It’s a state govt lease of some 3.4ha for 50 years with 42 tenants with a community board. Yes it does have an MC rep and 2 MC tenants but it’s only a strand of many. ARC is also the epitome of parish pump, aspirant pollies like moths to the flame, lovable, and disgraceful can of worms, Sometimes all at once. It also belongs to YOU dear reader.
ARC governance – always a moving feast
- Are the Board meeting minutes online and available to the public like Local Councils do? If not why not?
- Who indeed is the editor of the ARC website these days? Name, rank, serial number? Any history with ARC at all?
- Who will malcontents and crazies have to beat up now stabiliser Ian Laird has taken his bat and ball to greener fields? May God be with you new GM.
- who is/ not paying rent? Fair trade for social capital? Who decides?
- Who really decides what goes on the big street sign?
AGM season is approaching again, don’t you worry about that, chook.
We hear it's in October sometime but how would you know? Who will have the conch in 2008? The Don and his Ethnic Praetorian guard? The Meredith Burgman All Stars? The Struggling Greens? The Maddies at TC. Or the fixers and straights? Ain’t democracy grand.
ARC needs a café weekdays
The ARC needs a café. We have studied the question for years. It should be open from 11 till 2, Tues-Fri as a trial. It could be a mobile cart, or even the old tool shed. Visitors want a refreshment and sit down neutral space. All the tenants have their own kitchenette so they don’t mix, share, synthesise or time out as much as they could/should for greater effectiveness. So obvious, like composting but a hurdle still. We remember no lines in the carpark was normal once too.
Memo PM Howard – ‘let me have fat and sleek men around me, Cassius has a lean and hungry look’
Got a cute story?
Call us on 0410 558838 and you can contribute to next month’s compost pile.
Costello is not the problem for the Govt that the ALP can so readily exploit as a negative given his strong economic reputation (right or wrong), the real downer for the govt and why the polls will go south again soon, and why the so called ALP 'attack' tv adverts (but really fair critique) will work is that this PM is indecisive. When will this PM retire, why won't he commit to 3 years, why can't he be certain (as McKew points out) for such an important job?
Howard flushed out on the devastating polling, is too cute to claim in parliament yesterday an honest virtue by admitting he will retire, when it is really a necessity (despite contrast with ALP premiers keeping their plans quiet until retirement day - eg Beattie), and this 'virtue' doesn't really wash or resonate because those ALP premierships were not relinquished for age driven reasons, or fatal govt polling reasons, or covert defacto Cabinet meetings.
And the PM's job is the big cheese by comparison to the premiers and he really controls the money in our democracy.
That's why indecision is far more fatal at that level. People know the States are the smaller game/dynamic by comparison, but PM of the country has to be safe, secure, reliable, not indecisive, uncertain, aging, or as the Sydney Telegraph put it ...dithering.
In conclusion, it's the uncertainty, not Costello, that is the Govt's problem. Senator Joyce is right - Costello is stereotyped as the unpopular Treasurer but such a mould is made to be broken, and one wit in that electorate pointed out PC hasn't been "tested" because he's not in the chair for real - the same logic Howard uses to claim polls will bounce once it's the election for real.
Which alternative 'reality' the Coalition Party room believes will decide their fate as Government and/or Opposition. Howard's plea to keep hold of their "political understandings" flies in the face of the real polls which have stabilised against him, and along with that the broadsheet flagship of News Ltd. Thus the Coalition have the shock on the head from their own side of conservative media, now reality must follow ... but how long will it take? Methinks the defacto Cabinet meeting in Downer's hotel room shows in their hearts they know. And Howard surely knows too.
Howard going doesn't have much to do with being a Howard Hater as Alan Jones claimed this morning on 2GB (read above re the distinction between retiring premiers versus retiring PMs). The message to go is from diverse quarters and it's real. Howard is ill suited to a new generation of problems not least dangerous climate change, emergence of China as an economic collosus, reform of the federation etc. You can't 'fatten a pig on market day'.
When your rivals like MP Julia Gilliard start praising your earlier career on East Timor and gun controls by way of contrast with your later career say of attacking workers conditions (despite no electoral mandate) to vainly champion the interests of big business on so called lack of pace on real 'reform', well everyone can see the poor governance, that Howard is tired and needs to let go. You need to let go John. The hardest thing and the wisest thing.
You know that old fable about never feeding a crocodile because they are always hungry? Once you start you just have to keep feeding it until the hand itself is inside the jaws and the rest quickly follows.
The Greens/greenies know the metaphor well because it's what the two major parties say about offering appeasing policy on say forest protection: The Greens are never satisfied and the crocodile will just want more forest to lock up after that. That's Wilson Tuckey with that acute comment, because yes the Greens do want a sustainable society, and there's nothing wrong with that either. Bob Carr called it the wolves with lambent eyes looking up for more chunks of meat after the meal seconds earlier (of some forest protection). Tuckey/Carr - same resource politicians in essence.
But today in the current politics de jour the crocodile is the damning polling against vain old man John Howard. The unchanging crushing reality of that polling means Howard has to appease the change/succession merchants in his own party .... to buy time.
Last week Howard reacted to that reality by sending trusty Alex Downer into the midst of the issue, just like he surely sent Geof Cousins/Heffernan into the midst of the Tas pulp mill issue to get control of it again, Howards agents pissing in opponents pockets while always supporting resource extraction his whole life.
This week Howard aka Rodent has glared down an open challenge, and when that didn't kill the crocodile, has fed the toothy beast a big chunk of meat today with an undefined, unreliable, unbelievable retirement sometime in the next 3 years. He won't even retire from Bennelong, maybe pulling strings still like the Mufti from Lakemba?
Howard's got no clothes. The Newspoll next Monday/Tuesday is the next act in this tragedy evolving into farce. Beazley was in the news yesterday saying Howard has until end of the week.
The next group of polls will be Pythonesque - it's only a flesh wound, blood spurting from the stump.
Minister Joe Hockey is on the abc AM show this morning 13th Sept 2007 with some real howlers:
1. universal support in the Cabinet for Prime Minister Howard - clearly not the case, expedient convenience given he won't go quietly. In other words papering over a huge chasm of disagreement, a brave face, for mutual self preservation of credibility in the short term.
2. John Howard is 'the Don Bradman of Australian Politics' - how vain is that? There was only one Don Bradman and Howard is not past Menzies by quite a way yet. Further Bradman was bowled out for a duck in his last innings short of a test 100 batting average. So it may not be the most helpful metaphor. All the polls are clear - Howard may well be out for a duck next election innnings, or a very low score.
Additionally, the more prominent Peter Costello is this next 4 days attacking the ALP Opposition, when combined with a bad poll for Howard next Tuesday, as well as Morgan etc before that, and the precursors for an execution of Howard's prime ministership will all be in place for real.
The backbench and Cabinet will have no reason to not just make the change and start rebuilding the electoral prospects of the Government on credible climate change, on extracting ourselves from Iraq, on dumping the 25 nuke reactors agenda, reconciliation values and sundry other dodgy Howard policies.
Postscript #2 14th Sept 2007
Costello is not the problem for the Govt, that the ALP can exploit as a negative given his strong economic reputation (right or wrong), the real downer for the govt and why the polls will go south again, and why the so called 'attack' tv adverts (but really fair critique) will work' is that this PM is indecisive. When will he retire, why won't he commit to 3 years, why can't he be certain (as McKew points out) for such an important job?
Howard now flushed out, can expediently claim in parliament yesterday an honest virtue (by contrast with ALP retired premiers keeping their plans quiet until the day - like Beattie recently), but it doesn't really wash or resonate because those jobs were not relinquished for age driven reasons, or fatal govt polling reasons. And the PM's job is the big cheese by comparison really controlling the money in our democracy.
That's why indecision ii far more fatal at that level. People know the States are the smaller game/dynamic by comparison, but PM of the country has to be safe, secure, reliable, not indecisive, uncertain, aging, or as the Sydney Telegraph put it ...dithering.
In conclusion, it's the uncertainty, not Costello that is the Govt's problem. Barnaby Joyce is right - Costello is stereotyped as unpopular Treasurer but such are made to be broken, and one wit in that electorate pointed out PC hasn't been "tested" because he's not in the chair for real - the same logic Howard uses to claim polls will bounce once its the election for real.
Which version the Coalition believes will decide their fate, even as an Opposition. Howard's plea to keep hold of their "political understandings" flies in the face of the polls which have stabilised against him, and along with it the broadsheet flagship of News Ltd. Now the Coalition have the shock on the head from their own side of conservative media, reality must follow ... but how long will it take? Methinks the defacto Cabinet meeting in Downer's hotel room shows in their hearts they know. It doesn't have much to do with being a Howard Hater as Alan Jones claimed this morning on 2GB (read above re the distinction between retiring premiers versus retiring PMs).