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Alan Bond threatens old haunts

Posted by occidentprone on September 21, 2008

Alan Carpenter was haunted by Brian Burke. Now Colin Barnett could face the spectre of Alan Bond moving from past to present.

The page 1 headline in The Sunday Times today read: “Bondy’s back – and reveals he wants to stay for good this time.” 

Inside Bond made a comment that “I will be back here full time in about 12 months”. Maybe he said it in passing, maybe it’s something he’s thought about seriously. Anyway, the paper made it into it’s big story for the week though it’s not on the website so maybe they’ve since changed their mind.

The people most haunted by Bond are the shareholders who were ruined after their trust in Bond in the 80s and early 90s. But like any master of reinvention, he’s shed that skin. He told the Sunday Times

“I think you go through life  and learn many lessons. And I think today I am a better businessman than I was then even, because you get the yin and yang.

There was a downturn in the economy, the banks that were lending to us went broke, a number went at the same time.

Unfortunately, because I was one of the highest profiles, I took a lot of the flak.

If your gearing is too high, as it is around the world with a lot of people, you are going to get hurt at some stage if the music stops.”

Unless you are a crook, of course.

I like the stuff about yin and yang. I wonder if Bond’s earthy yearning for home, where he and Di Bliss have a house at Cottesloe, has anything to do with the fact WA’s going gangbusters and there’s gold in them thar suckers.

Another Sunday Times non-story or not, there’s an interesting hypothetical.

What if Bond comes back? Is it a metaphor for the bad old days of big business rorts, just as Burke was a symbol of political rorts. Labor thought it had exorcised its demons then let Burke back in. And how did that turn for you Mr Carpenter?

Bond had been keeping a low profile but then he popped up on the BRW rich list this year and this week showed up to celebrate some old yachting victory. As we’ve said before, he deserves recognition for all he’s contributed to the people of this state.

The Barnett government has already waved the flag for development so it’s like the 80s all over again. Complete with ghosts of crimes past.

 


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Liberals haven’t lost their love of development

Posted by occidentprone on September 19, 2008

The Liberal Government hasn’t even been sworn in in WA and already they’re talking of putting an exclusive housing development at Fremantle port.

Ahh, back to the good old days where any old dead spot – like say the historic and still quite useful Freo docks – can be sold off and given up for flash apartments. Transport minister-elect Simon O’Brien wants to phase out that boring, stinky old cargo business at the port and shift business south to Kwinana.

The West Australian reports:

“Planning will commence very soon for a strategic renewal of our container shipping facilities away from North Quay to new facilities at James Point,” Mr O’Brien said.

Mr O’Brien said the government would be looking to redevelop the land at North Fremantle freed up by the move, possibly in conjunction with the developers of the North Port Quay proposal because of the synergies between the two projects.

“Whether we ultimately have a sea bed reclamation of the type that’s been proposed by the North Port Quay developers remains to be seen,” he said.

Quay spokesman Greg Poland said the consortium welcomed the opportunity to take the concept to the approvals stage.

Also beating down the new minister’s door will be the Len Buckeridge-led James Point Consortium, which has plans to build a port near Kwinana.

The private port, stalled by the Carpenter Government while it developed its plans for an island port, was given approval by the Court government.

Consortium spokesman Hans Moonen said a meeting with Mr O’Brien had been sought to discuss whether the new Kwinana port could be a private development or a joint venture with the government.

But Fremantle mayor Peter Tagliaferri said the new government was planning to relocate a multi-billion-dollar asset to Kwinana without having done any studies to support it.

“It’s not that simple, they’ve got leases in place with the stevedores until 2017 and (the equivalent of) 10 per cent of the gross domestic product of the country in cargo coming through that port each year,” he said.

Fremantle Society president Ian Alexander said while the port was still important for jobs and the local economy it was also important that the role of Fremantle as a port for more than a century was recognised and people did not want to see it become a “boutique port” for cruise ships.

Mr O’Brien said he would seek to consult widely over the plans.

“There’s a lot of sensitivity about change but I respect Fremantle as one of the great trade centres and historical centres,” he said.

It’s a win-win situation really. More prestige apartments in Fremantle – yay – and more jobs in the Labor marginal seat of Kwinana – double yay.

* Read more about Kwinana at Kwinana from the Inside.

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Labor goes the safe option

Posted by occidentprone on September 16, 2008

It’s coronation day for oppositions in Australia today. Eric Ripper has been dubbed leader of the ALP opposition in WA, just hours after Malcolm Turnbull won for the Libs federally.

Eric-the-Safe, they call him.

Former Western Australian treasurer Eric Ripper has been appointed leader of the WA Labor party.

Kwinana MP Roger Cook, who survived a knife-edge win over Independent Carol Adams, is Mr Ripper’s deputy.

Former premier Alan Carpenter resigned as leader after the Nationals backed the Liberals to form government after the September 6 election resulted in a hung parliament.

Mr Ripper, from the centre faction, yesterday gained the support of the powerful right faction, and is seen by some as a “safe pair of hands” to guide Labor into opposition. 

The left faction reportedly met all day yesterday and was leaning towards supporting outgoing planning and infrastructure minister Alannah MacTiernan, also from the centre faction. (Source: PerthNow

Roger Cook must have been a last-minute nomination since he didn’t even have the seat two days ago. Instead the independent Carol Adams was having meetings at Parliament and rubbing Labor’s nose in it until a last-minute sprint saw Labor win.

Posted in Perth, Politics, West Australian politics | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

Oh for the opposition life

Posted by occidentprone on September 15, 2008

This is one worry off Carps’ mind:

Four co-workers from Alan Carpenter’s electorate office are celebrating a $2 million lotto win, on the same weekend as Mr Carpenter resigned as labor leader.

The colleagues say the former Premier was thrilled to hear of the win, and timing could not have been better.

“I’ve never heard him so happy, he was thrilled for us.” said one of the group.

The electorate office syndicate has been running for about five years.

“This is a load off our minds, the timing couldn’t have been better,” said one. (Source: ABC)

Meantime, let’s do the guess-the-new-leader game.

Not sure she’d want the job but Alannah McTiernan would be fantastic. She’s got my vote.

But for stability until the run-up to the next election, Eric Ripper would probably get caucus support. Then a switcheroo in the lead-up to the next poll with a little more flash and profile.

Posted in Perth, Politics, West Australian politics | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

What a day

Posted by occidentprone on September 15, 2008

In the last 24 hours in WA:

• The Nationals have handed minority government to the Liberals by siding with them in a non-coalition coalition.

• Alan Carpenter has resigned as opposition leader-elect and Labor has yet to appoint a new leader.

• The seat of Kwinana has been wrenched from the hands of the former Labor, formerly gleeful independent Carol Adams and awarded to Labor’s Roger Cook.

• 1100 votes in the seat of Geraldton have been declared missing (possibly dead) and the snafu might cause a byelection.

• Political analyst Peter van Onselen was hospitalised for over-exposure after being cited an unhealthy number of times. He is under observation in the rent-a-quote ward for elevated opinion levels. He is not to blame for his condition, it is a systemic problem that we must all look at.

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Barnett’s glad bag

Posted by occidentprone on September 14, 2008

Now we get to the nitty gritty. What can we expect from a conservative government, the first such state government in Australia for some years?

PerthNow says:

Mr Barnett is determined to focus on “bread and butter” issues that affect people every day, according to friends and party sources who are close to him. 

As a priority in its first 100 days, a Liberal-National coalition would: 

* Finalise plans to deliver $250 million in tax cuts to WA families and small businesses. 
* Give courts more power to stop anti-social behaviour. 
* Toughen penalties against hoons. 
* Strike a new pay deal with teachers. 
* Legislate to save Royal Perth Hospital. 
* Inject $10 million to reduce surgery waiting times. 

As this blog went AWOL during the election campaign we’re playing catch-up now on Liberal policy and promises.

Let’s just pick up on the Save RPH thing. The Fiona Stanley Hospital, still years from opening, cannot find enough staff, including specialist doctors, to work there. How the blazes are they going to recruit if RPH stays open? Let alone the other costs of maintaining the two campuses. $10 million on cutting surgery waiting times isn’t going to go very far at all.

And tax cuts? If people voted against the Carpenter government because they squandered the proceeds of the boom with little to show then what are tax cuts going to do?

Between more sandwich-and-milkshake sweeteners and the Nationals’ deal to whisk $675 million into rural areas what is Barnett expecting to buy with the coins left over?

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What now for Labor?

Posted by occidentprone on September 14, 2008

Alan Carpenter and Labor have lost government but still have their principles sort of intact. True, they tried to do all sorts of deals with the Nationals in order to cling to government but in the end the Libs could sell out more.

And a minority government with a partner which says it will vote against the government without losing sleep has got to be a stressful proposition.

Carpenter’s tenure is surely fragile, given the blame heaped on him in the last week –  he’s a control freak who doesn’t consult, and so on. (Funnily Barnett – and even Rudd – are accused of the same thing but they’re winners so what does it matter?)

Labor must suck it up now and be a good opposition. We haven’t had one of those for some time on a state or federal level so some of you kids mightn’t know what an opposition is sposed to do. The Barnett-Birney-Omodei-Buswell-Barnett Liberals failed dismally to land any punches which is why they are not governing in their own right.

But Labor’s Carpenter, McGinty and McTiernan are among the aggressive performers who can bring every misstep into sharp relief. And this new government-by-committee is bound to trip up a lot.

Complaints of a minority government have been that they won’t be able to do much in power. The Libs had better not squander the state’s riches right now, they had better not be cowed into doing nothing for an entire term. 

And Labor had better bring them to account, and not just clock-watch until the next election.

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And the winner is … Colin Barnett

Posted by occidentprone on September 14, 2008

Finally, WA has a government. Fairy godmother Brendon Grylls has anointed Colin Barnett and the Liberals to run the State for the next little bit.

WA Today reports: 

Nationals leader Brendon Grylls announced he would form a coalition with the Liberals after the Nationals State Council meeting this morning.

The decision came after intense discussions between the Nationals state executive yesterday as to which of the major parties it would direct its balance of power to, enabling them to form government.

Mr Grylls said “The Nationals have agreed to negotiate combined power with the Liberal government.”

He drove a hard bargain with both of the major parties to ensure his ‘royalties for regions’ policy was implemented.

The policy will see more than $2 billion in royalties flow back to the regions in the form of infrastructure and services.

Mr Grylls’ announcement came after Nationals senator Barnaby Joyce an alliance with Labor would have ramifications for the Nationals. (Source: WA Today)

Now we know.

From The West Australian:

Colin Barnett’s stunning political comeback has been completed with the National Party today deciding to help the Liberals form a minority government. 

The Liberals won 24 seats in the September 6 election. They will be able to form government with 30 seats in the Lower House by using four seats won by the Nationals and two independent Liberal seats.

Mr Grylls told reporters the decision came after 25 hours of talk, and said the Nationals had two “very good” proposals from both Labor and the Liberals.

He said the Nationals weighed up the proposals and the numbers from last weekend’s vote count before arriving at their decision.

“I take my independent stance as the most important thing I have to officer regional WA,” Mr Grylls said.

Mr Grylls said he was not prepared to go into a traditional coalition with the Liberals, and said that National Party MPs would reserve the right to vote against the government.

The decision on who might lead is over but the details of what else the Libs had to compromise on to seal the deal is yet to emerge.

Any guesses?

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Party favours

Posted by occidentprone on September 13, 2008

From nail-bitingly exciting to teeth-grindingly outlandish, The Sunday Times is reporting that the Liberals are considering an unelected person for a cabinet post if they are in government.

All perfectly within the rules and with precedents in Australia. All above board, in theory.

The person they want to co-opt is Deidre Willmott. Ring any bells?

There are serious discussions about giving Deidre Willmott — the economist who missed out on the plum seat of Cottesloe when Mr Barnett was elevated to the leadership — a seat at the cabinet table. 

Technically, Ms Willmott cannot be called a minister, but she can play an equally important role.

The Commonwealth Constitution does not allow the American, presidential-style of hand-picking cabinet members in the Federal Government, but there is nothing to prevent it at state level. 

It is not unprecedented. 

South Australian Premier Mike Rann appointed two eminent people from outside parliament to his cabinet’s executive committee. 

Senior lecturer in constitutional law at Edith Cowan University, Ainslie van Onselen, said such a move would be unconventional under the Westminster system of government, but was legally sound. 

“There is nothing in the WA constitution that would prevent a premier from appointing non-parliamentarians on the executive committee of cabinet or even sitting in cabinet,” Ms van Onselen said. 

“By convention, members of the cabinet normally come from the legislature, but that is an unwritten convention.” (Source: PerthNow)

Interesting development. If this is true (and we are talking The Sunday Times here so it remains to be seen) where does Colin Barnett get off telling the Nationals they should not side with Labor because the people had voted with their, um, votes to be rid of the ALP. And yet, he doesn’t need to bow to the will of the people when it comes to who he puts in cabinet. 

I’m all for bringing in experts for a talented cabinet – MP or not. And Willmott is by all accounts a talented individual with a proven track record. But this smacks of cronyism and untoward rewards.

Really, does Barnett think the voters cannot see through this?

First he shafts Willmott by reneging on a promise to quit and hand his plum seat to her, then he shafts the electorate by using cabinet posts as trinkets for favours.

Maybe it’s mischievous muckraking, but it’s just so crazy …

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More poll dancing

Posted by occidentprone on September 13, 2008

The runes are pointing to a conservative coalition taking the helm in WA.

The ABC reports concern among National MPs about an unholy alliance with the ALP. And then there’s pressure from Colin Barnett and the Liberals who claim the voters sent an anti-Labor mandate and therefore there’s nothing the Nats can do but side with Barnett for a conservative coalition. 

Barnett would do well to remember that the voters might have swung AGAINST Labor, but they didn’t swing FOR the Liberals enough for them to govern outright. If that’s what they wanted, that’s what they would have done.

The voters, in Barnett’s mind are apparently some amorphous mass tilting in the same direction like a school of minnows,  had enough concerns about the Liberal rabble not to hand command of the whole state over to them.

Now, we wait until tomorrow to find out what direction we’ll all be swimming in for the next few years.

 

Incidentally, reading election results booth by booth on the Electoral Commission makes for interesting time-wasting if you really have nothing better to do and you have an active imagination. For example, in the seat of Eyre, in the booth of the Dalyup Progress Association Hall, there were 109 votes cast and 1 vote for the Greens candidate. And they call themselves a progress association!

Some earnest writers festival workshop somewhere could probably even make an exercise of it: Imagine that one voter. An out-of-towner? A short-stay tree planter? Was he run out of town?

Like court gags to prevent juveniles and victims being identified in small communities, so too should the Electoral Commission merge the results of a few booths to prevent weirdo greenies being hunted down and shot (or rabid communities being embarrassed for that matter).

Posted in Perth, Politics, West Australian politics | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »