Occident Prone

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Posts Tagged ‘WA politics’

Don’t misunderestimate the recession

Posted by occidentprone on September 25, 2008

George W Bush grasps the seriousness of the financial crisis crunching the globe.

“We are in the midst of a serious financial crisis,” he said before hosting unprecedented crisis talks. “Our entire economy is in danger.” (Source: The Australian)

On ABC:

“There has been a widespread loss of confidence and major sectors of America’s financial system are at risk of shutting down,” Mr Bush told the nation from the White House, using some of the bleakest language of the crisis so far.

“The government’s top economic experts warn that without immediate action by Congress, America could slip into a financial panic and a distressing scenario would unfold,” Mr Bush said, in a rare televised appearance.

“With the situation becoming more precarious by the day, I faced a choice – to step in with dramatic government action, or to stand back and allow the irresponsible actions of some to undermine the financial security of all,” he said.

Mr Bush – finally taking a front and centre role in crisis – listed the prospect that more banks could fail and the possibility the US economy could be driven into recession as more reasons that the massive rescue must be approved.

He punched home the message by referring to the impact such a scenario would have on the lives of ordinary Americans and acknowledging the validity , saying that while tens of thousands of people had have lost their homes.

Acknowledging deep American anger that such huge sums of money – amounting to five per cent of American GDP – are being contemplated for those who created the financial strife in the first place, Mr Bush said that nevertheless, not acting now would cost Americans much more later.

Bush’s heir hopeful, John McCain has suspended his election campaign with all the gravity the Republican war veteran can muster.

His opponent Barack Obama says this is the time presidential candidates (you know, those wanting to be President of the United States of America) should start talking about the economy.

McCain is backed into a corner with Sarah Palin as his running mate. She has shown zero capacity for original, analytical thought and between the pair of them, they seem to have trouble pronouncing economy, for all they have avoided the topic.

I have avoided discussing the American campaign as my blog is predominantly about West Australian, and to a lesser degree Australian, current affairs but as the characters develop more and the financial crisis threatens to engulf all of us, I’m wading in. Since late 2006, I have listened to podcasts from Slate magazine and The New Yorker, so that they have become a weekly serial of heroes and villains and jesters all culminating in a series finale in November. (Although if I hear the word ‘narrative’ to describe a current affairs event one more time I’ll scream – and that means you too Crikey crew.)

So I’m trying to draw some meaningful lesson from across the Pacific that we can apply here. And my main concern is this: Please let’s never get in the situation they have in America where a VP candidate (Palin) is allowed to build a cult following without facing questions from the press. No person running for any office, let alone high office, should be unaccountable – BEFORE THEY’RE EVEN ELECTED.

We saw a little of the cult of personality in the Kevin O7 election last year and our leaders face off first as characters, then politicians with policies (think Nelson v Turnbull last week and Buswell for much of this year). But to allow a candidate escape questioning and scrutiny – from reporters or bloggers or voters or anyone – is totally insane. You get what you deserve if you let this happen.

Back to McCain. Slate’s John Dickerson had this to say:

John McCain has launched his second Hail Mary pass in a month. On Wednesday he called for a suspension of the presidential campaign—no events, no ads, and no debate Friday—so that he and Barack Obama can head to Washington to forge a bipartisan solution. Even more than his selection of Sarah Palin as running mate, this gambit feels like a wild improvisation someone in the McCain team mapped out on his chest: OK, you run to the fire hydrant, cut left, and then when he gets to the Buick, John, you heave it.

Dickerson might overuse the word narrative but he knows how to put politics into language we understand.

Posted in Australian politics, Foreign affairs, Media, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

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.

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

You call that a black hole?

Posted by occidentprone on September 12, 2008

The big news around the world at the moment is the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, which is taking us all into the unknown with experiments in smashing particles. It aimed to re-enact the conditions which brought the Big Bang about.  The scaredy cats feared it would end (or begin) with a black hole, sucking away life as we know it.

Which brings us to election results in Western Australia.

Talk about our universe collapsing in on itself. (Apologies to real physicists for borrowing the terminology without a nano of understanding.) 

Voters and other uninterested parties are waiting till Sunday when we might know who which party (or parties or rabble of inependents) will be leading the state until the next election (which might not be that far away so steel yourselves).

WA’s own ball of kinetic energy, Brendan Grylls, is defying the laws of physics, and democracy, by holding the big boys by the dark matter until they concede to his demands – the main one being that WA apportion a quarter of its resources riches to country areas.

Fair enough.

But does he mean all of WA outside Perth? Does he mean just the poorly neglected pockets of the state? Does he mean just the man-on-the-land constituency of the Nationals? 

Will he demand adequate treatment and resources and infrastructure so badly required in Aboriginal communities so that they might have lower mortality and infant mortality, improved health, justice and education just to close the disgusting gap with their white counterparts?

Grylls showed promise in his maiden speech in Parliament that he shared these concerns so let’s hope he comes through if the big boys (currently sooking behind the drinking fountain) come through on a Nationals deal.

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

Games are over, time to get serious

Posted by occidentprone on August 27, 2008

After two weeks spent presiding over Olympic fencing, dusting chalk from gymnasts and a stint in a re-education camp, this blogger is back. 

The biggest challenge of the Games was trying to assess why the Chinese Central Government’s nationalistic party-speak and tight stage management of every facet was bad and Australia’s jingoistic and patriotic jargon – from media, athletes, Rudd, Coates, the neighbours and colleagues – was good.

The games and everything they symbolise have been raked over by smarter people than me so I’ll leave it to the experts and instead explore what I’ve missed in the interim.

Before the hibernation I remember an election being called but it’s hard to tell the poll stuff from the Olympics stuff, so entwined were the cliches. Backflips, poll vault, race-this-and-that.

Over the few weeks remaining before the election, I’ll be carbo-loading and sprint training to get on top of the WA election before we scratch our markings on ballots at the local primary school.

Meantime, send your thoughts, grievances, score cards.

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

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 »

Mysteries, mass media and mixed metaphors

Posted by occidentprone on August 6, 2008

It’s like the Twilight Zone here at the moment with the missing and mysterious filling the pages of the paper and websites this morning.

An inquest into the disappeared Kaz II crew is sitting in Townsville his week and has heard how three Yunderup men went missing off the Queensland coast last year. The catamaran has been called a ghost ship, with reporters yanking descriptives from their Mary Celeste imagery grab bag. But from inquest evidence in the last few days, it seems there were technical issues and nervous preparation before they set off.

One of two brothers fishing off Walpole is also missing this morning. The 82-year-old Manjimup man was fishing in Broke Inlet with his younger brother on Monday when they were swept out to sea. The 75-year-old swam to shore and searchers resumed the search for his brother this morning.

There has been a search of a different kind at a Chittering property for drug dealer Frank La Rosa who, with his wife Kim, is missing.

Frank La Rosa spent 12 years in jail for his part in a clandestine amphetamine factory and was due in court on further drug trafficking charges in July.

Police are treating his disappearance as suspicious, but have stopped short of describing the inquiry as a homicide investigation.

The property being searched today was once owned by La Rosa. (Source: ABC)

Elswhere, new Liberal leader Colin Barnett is missing the days of loyalty to the party, Varanus Island gas is back online but we are still longing for full gas, which won’t be back to pre-crisis levels till Christmas time, and we are all saying a teary farewell to our privacy as Street View is launched in Australia.

The media has been so outraged at Google’s latest venture that they’ve had to spell out exactly what sensitive landmarks will be exposed – Swanbourne Barracks, the WA police training centre, the PM’s house – to guarantee a free kick to Google and voyerism.

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

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 »

Plus ca change …

Posted by occidentprone on July 3, 2008

After a week at Promises Promises rehab learning anger management and gas minimisation techniques, I am back in action. There was lots of group where we shared our feelings and chanted “this is not my fault” and “someone else is to blame”  but no internet or newstainment.

So imagine my surprise to find Belinda Neal still drawing attention to herself on the news sites and more oxygen used on Apache developments. It’s enough to make you hit the bottle.

On the news news front:

Schapelle Corby has collapsed after an outing to a beautician. I’ve heard waxing can have that affect – and don’t get me started on electrolysis of facial hair. Actually someone with sensitive cuticles – and Schapelle is a delicate flower – can find pedicure a painful thing. Now, what to do with all the sick pedicurists lingering in Australian jails?

Channel 31 has found its white knight, a businessman who has stumped up dosh to keep community telly alive in Perth. “The station’s board believes the money will be enough to keep the station afloat for another 18 months, by which time it expects the Federal Government will be ready to switch it to the digital spectrum.” (Source: ABC)

WA Police allege that chasing Cabinet leaks is a low priority compared with … say … child abuse. According to The Australian: 

Police have been criticised over the April 30 raid on Perth’s Sunday Times newspaper, which was prompted by a complaint from the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

The raid, which at its peak involved more than 25 police officers, was recently labelled a “considerable overreaction” by Premier Alan Carpenter’s chief of staff Keiran Murphy in evidence to a parliamentary inquiry. It has also sparked friction between police and the Corruption and Crime Commission about the roles and responsibilities of both crime-fighting bodies.

Mr O’Callaghan said that following the high level of public debate over the raid, investigating cabinet leaks would probably no longer be a police priority.

“My view is that we probably should not have got involved in it in the first place,” he told the ABC.

“Now this whole thing has come to a head, and has been the subject of much public debate, in hindsight it looks like police would be better off not doing this sort of work at all.

“We will certainly triage it and prioritise whether it is something we will put at the top of our list or whether there are more important things to do.

“For argument’s sake, there are many child abuse cases to be investigated in Western Australia at the moment, and I think the community would rather us go after the perpetrators of those offences than try to track down leaks out of parliament or cabinet.”

Major Fraud Squad officers executed a search warrant on the newspaper after journalist Paul Lampathakis revealed a request from Treasurer Eric Ripper for $16 million to pay for campaign advertising.

Now that’s sobering.

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

Dan Sullivan finds his niche

Posted by occidentprone on June 22, 2008

Dan Sullivan said he wanted to offer a serious alternative to the Liberal Party in WA. 

Then he started the WA branch of Family First.

The political powerhouse is called WAFAMILYFIRST.COM. It’s all capital letters which spells SERIOUS ALTERNATIVE and with a dot com in the name which spells 21st century, you know, like computers and the interweb.

I’d love to ramble on about their robust economic policy blah blah blah but I’ve wasted enough minutes of my life already.

 

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

Will the last one out please turn off the lights?

Posted by occidentprone on June 16, 2008

Over the last few days, Troy Buswell has demoted John McGrath and Rob Johnson and given Graham Jacobs a stern talking to. At this rate the Liberal front bench will be just Troy and a bunch of empty seats. A chair sniffer’s delight.

Buswell has some real problems with discipline in his party. Do they really want to be in government? Surely not. Maybe they have some psychological problems with winning, like the Dockers did before the weekend. Because any party with a heartbeat could have beaten Labor a month back – and then we had a gas crisis and the state is cactus. 

And still the opposition doesn’t have a chance.

To the Libs: Will the last one out please turn off the lights – if they haven’t already gone out due to lack of power.

 

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