Anthony Albanese on Labor’s National Conference

May 23, 2018

Labor is facing tough tests in coming byelections in its narrowly held seats of Longman in Queensland and Braddon in Tasmania.

Later on, managing the ALP national conference will be a challenge for Bill Shorten who will be anxious to avoid damaging displays of division over controversial issues.

Labor Frontbencher Anthony Albanese is putting on a confident face about the byelections. On the conference, he predicts there will not be a "substantial change" in Labor's refugee policy. On the issue of recognition of Palestine, another sensitive issue within the party, he says "if you support a two-state solution then by definition one of those states will be Palestine."

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Dean Smith on the pros and risks of new religious freedom protections

May 22, 2018

The Liberal party is currently fighting fires on various fronts - from a revolt on the live sheep trade to preselection power struggles.

Western Australia Liberal Senator Dean Smith is putting up another push, as he challenges the decision not to run Liberal candidates in the two WA byelections.

In this podcast he also speaks about the need for rigorous debate on religious freedoms, diversity in the Liberal party, and his opposition to  constitutional reform of section 44.

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Politics podcast: Mathias Cormann and Jim Chalmers on Budget 2018

May 9, 2018

With the government's election focused budget released it's now a tax showdown between the two sides.

Finance minister Mathias Cormann says the government is committed to the whole of their seven-year personal tax relief plan and is determined the three-part package not be broken up.

Meanwhile, shadow finance minister Jim Chalmers says Labor is disappointed with the government's inflexibility on their tax plan. "It's a real shame that they're saying that they will hold those lower and middle income earners hostage for the rest of the package."

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Tim Colebatch on the 2018 budget

May 8, 2018

From inside the lockup political and economic journalist Tim Colebatch speaks to Michelle Grattan about his assessment of the budget.

He says the income tax cuts are “well targeted” and that he can’t see any “significant negatives” from the budget. However Colebatch is “surprised the government hasn’t made more effort to find other sources of compensating tax income or making bigger spending cuts in areas where they thought there was waste”.

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Chris Bowen on the budget and Labor’s policies

May 2, 2018

Ahead of Tuesday’s budget that will unveil the goverment’s tax cut plans, the Coalition is painting Labor as the big taxing party, while the ALP is attacking the government’s push to cut company tax for big business. Meanwhile the Business Council of Australia is taking its message to the public with a grassroots campaign.

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen tells The Conversation he accepts that big business will “lobby on their own path”. “Clearly we have a difference of view with the Business Council,” he says, though not with every member of it. “Some members of the Business Council say they don’t see the business tax cut as a business priority.”

On budget repair, Bowen he says that “getting back to budget balance is very, very important, and not just budget balance but a good healthy budget surplus of at least 1% of GDP.”

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Robert Kelly on the Korean summits

April 24, 2018

Professor Robert E Kelly from the Department of Political Science and Diplomacy at Pusan University is pessimistic about how much the upcoming Korean summits will achieve.

He told The Conversation that the Trump-Kim summit is likely "to be a bust" because the Americans aren't prepared for the negotiations, while the summit between the two Koreas is more important for issues of economic cooperation and military transparency.

On the reunification of Korea, Kelly says while he wouldn't put a timeline on it he would "be amazed if North Korea would hang on in perpetuity - it's just not designed to deal with modernity."

Robert E Kelly will be appearing in Canberra as part of the Lowy Lecture Series on Wednesday May 2 and at the Sydney Writers' Festival from Friday May 4 - Sunday May 6.

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Clive Hamilton and Richard Rigby on Chinese influence in Australia

April 12, 2018

The Australia-China relationship is again in the headlines, with reports of strains between the two countries, resulting in federal ministers who want to visit finding it hard to get visas.

China is reacting against the Australian government’s rhetoric and especially its legislation, now before parliament, to combat foreign interference in Australian politics.

Malcolm Turnbull plays down the issue but admits “there is certainly some tension”, in the wake of the move on foreign interference.

In this podcast, Charles Sturt University’s Clive Hamilton talks about his controversial book Silent Invasion, in which he alleges a high level of penetration by Chinese officialdom into Australian institutions.

On the flip side, the Australian National University’s Richard Rigby is confident Australian institutions are strong enough to head off any dangers.

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Politics podcast: Michael Keating on a Fair Share

April 5, 2018

With the debate about equality heating up ahead of the federal election, Dr Michael Keating, the former head of three federal government departments, warns that while past economic reforms have served Australia well, there’s a risk some people may be left behind if we don’t “change the debate”.

A new book co-authored by University of Queensland Political Economy Professor Stephen Bell and Keating called Fair Share identifies lagging wages, low taxation and technological change as causes of inequality, and outlines comprehensive policy solutions for addressing these.

Keating told The Conversation that taxation revenue will need to rise by another 3 percentage points of GDP in the next three decades.

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John Blaxland on Australia’s expulsion of Russian spies

March 28, 2018

As Russian Ambassador Grigory Logvinov and Foreign minister Julie Bishop trade verbal blows, ANU professor John Blaxland says the expulsion of two Russian spies from Australia will have a significant effect on Russia’s espionage here.

Blaxland told The Conversation that ideologically we’re not seeing a new Cold War but the interconnectedness of the world means that activities by Russia create new vulnerabilities. “In some ways the threat is as great, if not greater.”

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Sarah Hanson-Young on the Greens Batman setback

March 20, 2018

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young has strongly backed party leader Richard Di Natale’s push to purge those who leaked against candidate Alex Bhathal in the Batman byelection.

Hanson-Young told The Conversation it was clear that the party infighting played on the minds of voters. “I don’t think there’s a place for people who want to undermine our party like that. This selfish act by a small number of people in Victoria has ramifications for all of us … because of that these individuals need to face the consequences.”

On the future of the Greens, Hanson-Young admitted that while nobody could match Bob Brown’s legacy, it was important the party get behind Di Natale’s leadership - which has been criticised by some Greens figures outside parliament.

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