Occident Prone

Welcome to Australia’s wild West

Posts Tagged ‘Liberals’

Ellison resignation ends Howard era, really this time

Posted by occidentprone on September 17, 2008

WA Liberal Senator Chris Ellison and former Howard government minister is quitting politics.

The West Australian senator said he wanted to make way for new blood on the opposition front bench and was keen to spend more time with his family, including his three young children.

He said he would immediately move to the opposition back bench and decide in the coming months when to leave parliament. (Source: The West)

The fact that Malcolm Turnbull became federal Liberal leader yesterday has nothing to do with it he insists. Turnbull is famously a republican and Ellison famously a monarchist. Both famously have double-L in their names.

You can find Senator Ellison’s rollicking resume on his parliamentary website.

Posted in Australian politics, 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.

Posted in Politics, West Australian politics | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

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.

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

Let’s look closely at Colin’s waterworks

Posted by occidentprone on August 6, 2008

It didn’t take long – Colin’s pipe dream has been resurrected along with Barnett himself. Colin’s Conduit, Colin’s Colon, Barnett’s Shaft – get ready for the puns and headline shorthand.

The Australian says the reheated Liberal leader: 

… has indicated he will revisit plans for a Kimberley-Perth canal in preparing policies for the next election.

Mr Barnett, who was elected unopposed to the parliamentary Liberal Party leadership today, was widely blamed for the opposition’s loss at the 2005 election after he made an uncosted pledge to build a canal to carry water from the Kimberley to Perth.

Mr Barnett took responsibility for the gaffe and quit the leadership shortly after the Gallop Government was returned with its majority intact.

After the party room today unanimously chose him to become the fourth Liberal leader in the fifth leadership change since the election, Mr Barnett did not rule out reviving the canal scheme.

“Let me say that at the time of the last election I made a mistake in the way the issue was handled,” Mr Barnett said at his first press conference as the reinstated Liberal leader.

“But can I also say that since the last election water has become the most important issue for Australia, indeed many parts of the world.

“WA, unlike other states, has the capacity to develop an integrated water supply system to provide water security for this state for another 100 years.”

Asked if that meant the multi-billion-dollar, 3700km covered canal was back on the Liberal agenda, Mr Barnett said any major project needed to be “a long-term, well thought out, well costed and considered project”.

“But we can do this,” he said.

Interesting development – or lack of development if you’re talking Barnett’s policies. But he’s right that water is now a big issue so maybe the masses are more willing to suspend their  disbelief for a bit. After all, we rely on a gas pipeline from the north to the south.

Posted in Perth, Politics, West Australian politics | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

NCB wails for what might have been

Posted by occidentprone on August 5, 2008

That ghost of Liberals past, Noel Crichton-Browne, reared his head today in the form of an article on the State Liberal leadership for Crikey. Not so much a think piece as a lament.

Had Buswell not cast his vote for Omodei, Omodei would never have been leader and would not consequently have harboured the bitterness and rage from his own sacking which poisoned Buswell’s leadership. Had time shown Birney not to be up to the job, Buswell would have naturally inherited the position without bitterness or rancour.

The political tragedy for the Western Australian Liberal Party is that it has lost a leader of high intellect, excellent debating skills and good presentation destroyed by school boy misbehaviour.

A tragedy you say? High intellect?

And where does NCB fit in – headmaster to Buswell’s naughty schoolboy? Guidance counsellor?

Buswell, once shire president of Busselton, had meetings with NCB  but in 2006 he denied that he had been threatened by him in relation to the Canal Rocks development. Read more about the Canal Rocks melodrama at the ABC’s 7.30 Report.

Here’s an extract from ABC Perth’s flagship TV current affairs show, Flatline, oops I mean Stateline, in February this year, soon after Buswell became leader:

REBECCA CARMODY: And people have been making suggestions all week that different people wield unhealthy influence within the Liberal Party.

Did Mr Crichton-Browne assist in your preselection?

TROY BUSWELL: No, Rebecca. I was preselected back in 2003 for the Liberal Party. And I would like to think that I was preselected at that time on my own merits by a group of independently minded people.

REBECCA CARMODY: Do you recall the last conversation you had with Mr Crichton-Browne? When was that?

TROY BUSWELL: The last time I spoke to Noel Crichton-Browne was in the back half of 2006, so going back almost 18 months now.

Why is Crichton-Browne a dirty word? He was expelled from the Liberal Party in 1995 for a series of incidents, including allegations of sexual harassment and threats.

The Australian claims a whiff of intrigue and that a small group of senior Libs were behind getting Buswell to step down. But it doesn’t name them. Small group of powerbrokers pulling strings in a political party? Hardly intriguing and hardly news.

Meanwhile, Colin Barnett has confirmed he wants the leadership back and is expected to take the reins tomorrow. No one is expected to oppose him for the leadership but Deidre Willmott is standing between him and his seat (no Liberal seat jokes please).

After all, Barnett did say he was retiring but I guess a grumpy old bloke can change his mind, even if it is at the expense of new blood and potential talent. The Libs have got that in spades so where’s the harm, right?

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

Buswell’s gone … now what?

Posted by occidentprone on August 4, 2008

Troy Buswell has quit as leader of the WA opposition. He’s learnt the meaning of the word ‘opposition’ this past few weeks with backbenchers, a former leader and the state’s daily all working against him and working towards this moment. 

Colin Barnett, who failed to set the electorate alight with his personality – and that was against Geoff Gallop – is waiting in the wings. Buswell is in his first term, while Barnett has been a politician for 18 years. 

Earlier today, Liberal forces revealed that Mr Buswell saw internal party polling on Friday night which showed him that the Liberals would be devastated under his leadership at the next election.

It is understood Mr Buswell decided to stand down regardless of whether Mr Barnett can be persuaded to lead the party.

The polling is believed to to mirror a recent WestPoll which showed that the Liberal Party would be competitive at an election under Mr Barnett.

However high profile lawyer Deidre Willmott appears to be standing in the way of Mr Barnett’s return. The political hopeful has already been endorsed for Mr Barnett’s blue ribbon seat of Cottesloe and sources say she is “refusing to budge”.

It is understood party officials are trying to persaude her this morning to put her political career on hold for the sake of the party.

If Ms Willmott insists on retaining her endorsement, it is possible that deputy leader Kim Hames or Treasurey spokesman Steve Thomas would step up for the top job. (Source: The West Australian)

Buswell told media today he was not ‘unelectable’ but that the Libs had a better chance with a change.

Some background from the ABC

Mr Buswell’s leadership deeply divided the party during his six months at the helm.

He has survived two leadership spill motions this year.

They followed revelations of inappropriate behaviour towards female staff members at State Parliament in Western Australia.

In February this year he publicly apologised after admitting to snapping the bra strap of a Labor staff member during a drunken night at Parliament last year.

In May, he initially refused to be drawn on accusations that he sniffed the chair of a female Liberal staff member, then fought back tears when he eventually confessed.

The incident drew national and international media attention and senior Liberal MPs were reportedly furious with Mr Buswell for his behaviour.

He narrowly won a leadership spill in early May and shortly afterwards sacked former Liberal leader Paul Omodei, saying he would not tolerate public attacks.

Another leadership plot was hatched in June and Mr Buswell again retained his job.

However Mr Buswell and the Liberal Party have suffered in the polls and many Liberal MPs seem concerned the party would be decimated at the next election if he remained leader.

Speculation is mounting that Premier Alan Carpenter will call an election soon.

So now what? The anti-Buswell camp have got what they wanted after summoning all their backbiting, white-anting passive-aggressive superpowers but what’s the alternative? 

Buswell was the fourth opposition leader since the last election. That points to something and here’s a hint, its not depth of talent.

So with an election soon, can the opposition to learn the meaning of the word ‘opposition’ and stick it to the government?

Posted in Perth, Politics, West Australian politics | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Give the Liberals a bullet

Posted by occidentprone on July 23, 2008

The Liberals are a mess. From the backbench an old blue-blood threatens the leader, says he’ll quit and jeopardises stability. Today’s leader fears for his tenure, made all the worse by bad press and poor polls. Meanwhile, the Labor government has a blank cheque to do whatever it wants because voters can’t stomach the alternative.

WA Libs or the federal party? Well, both.

In the west, Troy Buswell had a meeting with former leader Colin Barnett “as speculation grew of a change in the Liberal leadership before the looming State election”, according to The West.

With Mr Barnett declaring that the “door was still ajar” for him to return to the leadership, Mr Buswell refused to reveal what was discussed at the hour-long meeting in Mr Barnett’s Stirling Highway office.

On a day when senior Liberals split over who should lead the party to the election in the wake of a damning Westpoll that put Mr Buswell’s standing as preferred premier at just 12 per cent, the Opposition Leader was adamant he would not stand aside for Mr Barnett.

After the meeting, which Mr Buswell said was organised on Monday and before columnist Paul Murray called in The West Australian for the Vasse MP to step aside, Mr Buswell said it was still “his understanding” that Mr Barnett intended to retire at the coming election.

“As far as I’m concerned, it was a private conversation and I don’t feel compelled to discuss it with The West Australian,” Mr Buswell said. “It was a wide-ranging conversation.”

Earlier, Mr Barnett accepted that he had not fully closed the door on a return to the leadership despite announcing his retirement and the party endorsing former Chamber of Commerce and Industry lawyer Deidre Willmott for his seat of Cottesloe.

It’s a spooky parallel of what’s happening in Canberra. Brendan Nelson scoffs at any suggestion he’s ready to stand aside as leader for Peter Costello, says The Australian.

Couldabeen Costello would be on the frontbench “with a bullet”, Nelson says. Curious choice of words from Nelson. As a doctor and ex defence minister he is surely across the damage bullets can do.

With some Costello supporters fanning suggestions in recent days that he would stay on and seek the Liberal Party leadership, Dr Nelson told The Australian he intended to lead the Opposition to the next federal election, due in 2010.

He said Mr Costello was entitled to announce his future in his own time.

“He and his family have earned the right to make a decision which is in their best interest and that of the people of(his electorate of) Higgins,” Dr Nelson said.

“Peter will announce his decision in due course. I will be very happy if Peter chooses to stay, but I will respect his decision if he chooses to go.

Nelson says all this while whistling “I’m not scared, what a beautiful day”.

What is it with the Libs letting the party haemorrhage in the polls while dithering over leadership? A good leader is worth gold but if you haven’t got that, go for stability, loyalty, unity. Voters love these things too.

Posted in Australian politics, Politics, West Australian politics | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Troy who?

Posted by occidentprone on July 9, 2008

Liberal heavyweights were in Perth last night as ex PM John Howard gave the gracious farewell speech we’ve all been waiting for.

Howard’s craw aside, WA’s most senior Liberal Troy Buswell – remember him, leader of the opposition – was either snubbed or dismissed as an unknown on the federal Lib radar, depending on the media you read.

The West Australian‘s paper edition (but not on its website) said Alexander Downer passed comment that he didn’t know Buswell and The Australian said he was ignored altogether:

Although a state election is looming, the party’s scandal-plagued West Australian leader Troy Buswell was all but ignored. Seated several tables away from Mr Howard, he did not rate a comment from any of the Liberal stalwarts who took the stage, including deputy federal Liberal leader Julie Bishop and retiring former foreign minister Alexander Downer.

Is the national tier of the party deliberately distancing itself from Buswell because they don’t want to be tainted by his poor behaviour?

Or do they think he’ll not last long enough to be a real player (that is, in government)?

Or is the rarefied Canberra air such that the state parties don’t rate?

Or have Howard and Downer forgotten about politics already and are looking to other enriching experiences (even though Downer is still an MP)?

If I were Buswell I would be taking this very personally.

Posted in Australian politics, Perth, Politics, West Australian politics | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Libs want some Ruddy help

Posted by occidentprone on June 19, 2008

WA Libs are accusing the prime minister of not doing enough to aid WA in its hour of cold and darkness, says ABC. Fair call.

Liberal Senator David Johnson has accused both the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Western Australian Premier Alan Carpenter of inaction over the crisis.

Senator Johnson says Mr Rudd should confirm if the Government has the constitutional authority to enact the Liquid Fuels and Emergency Act.

“If we’re on solid ground there should be an emergency declared,” he said.

The Senators and MPs also called for the price of diesel to be stabilised to ease demand for gas and for gas energy users to be switched to diesel so gas can be freed up for small and medium business use.

I  haven’t read all of the Liquid Fuels and Emergency Act, I got confused with all the roman numerals, so I’m not sure what it means for us.  But Kevin Rudd doesn’t have time to be worrying about boring old gas crises and something-or-other Act, now that he’s started packing for the Olympics. Much more important stuff on the horizon.

The Australian reports on Rudd’s perspective:

The concerns of business were echoed in Canberra yesterday, with Kevin Rudd saying: “Given WA’s crucial significance to the overall performance of the Australian economy, there will be wash-through for us all on this over time, but in WA right now it’s being felt directly.”

… Carpenter said yesterday he had briefed the Prime Minister and was confident Mr Rudd was prepared to assist.

Mr Carpenter said his first priority was getting federal support for people who were put out of work but did not normally qualify for Centrelink assistance.

He gave no details of changes being put in place.

The pair discussed the national strategic fuel supplies stored at Garden Island, south of Perth, but Mr Carpenter said it was not yet necessary to seek access to them.

“We have to make sure we don’t do that pre-emptively or unnecessarily, because those fuel supplies are exactly as they are described – they are strategic national fuel supplies normally there because of disaster or a complete breakdown in the liquid fuel supply,” he said.

Mr Rudd said the Defence Minister had the power to make available extra diesel supplies for power stations in the west.

“We will invoke the provisions of the Liquid Fuel Emergency Act if required,” he told parliament yesterday. “This act provides the Australian Government with the authority to prepare for and manage a national liquid fuel supply emergency.

“During such a situation, the Minister for Resources and Energy can control the production, transfer and stock levels of crude and liquid fuel.

“We … are advised by the (WA) Premier that action involving the invocation of that act is not required at this time.”

 

 

A postscript to Carpenter’s power appealathon the other day. If we are all cutting our power reduction, why did he appear on TV? He should have had a letterbox drop. Or posted notices on all those soon-to-be redundant power poles. 

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

The Birney experiment revisited

Posted by occidentprone on June 17, 2008

Say it isn’t so. The Liberals could be about to nominate Matt Birney as leader, says ABC. And Libs are disgruntled because Troy Buswell is immature? Then your real disappointments await.

The Western Australian Liberal leader, Troy Buswell, is again under challenge with the Upper House MP Anthony Fels confirming he will move a spill motion against Mr Buswell at a party room meeting this morning.

The Liberal Party has been riven by infighting in the past few months, and Mr Buswell survived a spill motion by just three votes only six weeks ago, after he admitted sniffing the chair of a female staffer.

Mr Fels says he will nominate the former leader Matt Birney for the leadership position, and expects him to be elected.

“We have the numbers and the numbers are going to support the spill, that’s already known so I would expect by 9, shortly after 9.30am this morning there would be a vacancy there and shortly there after Matt Birney will be elected leader of the Liberal Party,” he said.

Fels told The West Australian he had another agenda:

Mr Fels, who has been dumped as an endorsed Liberal candidate for the next election, admitted his own personal interest in having Mr Buswell removed as leader.

Fair enough – but Birney? At least Buswell has a degree of intellectual weight and is a good performer in Parliament. I’m not endorsing him but if there’s anyone he looks good against, it’s Birney.

It’s good timing too as the Pope is coming to Australia next month. Remember when Birney suggested the Pope had a partner?

And took his then girlfriend (now wife) on a taxpayer’s overseas jaunt? Altering his shares register without telling anyone? A close call with an RBT?

And that he said he was quitting last year?

We will see after the spill meeting.

Read more about Birney in a Stateline piece here.

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