Judith Troeth on the Liberal party’s woman problem and asylum seekers

September 7, 2018

Former Victorian Liberal senator Judith Troeth is no stranger to speaking out forthrightly on issues, even when that goes against her party’s position.

In this podcast, Troeth says the party should adopt quotas to rectify the “abysmally low numbers” of Liberal women in parliament. “We should have quotas, but not forever … to get the numbers up”.

One of the group of moderates when she was in parliament (1993- 2011), Troeth is concerned about the party’s drift to the right. “Sometimes i feel as though i am standing on the extreme left … when everyone who knows me knows I’m certainly not”. She partly attributes the present situation to newer MPs being reluctant to rock the boat. Troeth’s advice to them? “Be brave and let your conscience be your mouth piece.”

On asylum seekers - an issue over which she confronted then prime minister John Howard - Troeth believes “quite strongly” that on humanitarian grounds people who have been processed and found to be refugees on Manus and Nauru should be allowed to come to Australia and stay.

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Barnaby Joyce at his provocative best

August 8, 2018

Barnaby Joyce has confirmed he could cross the floor on the federal legislation associated with the National Energy Guarantee. “Of course I could,” he says in an interview with The Conversation.

Joyce is out on the author’s circuit for his just-released book Weatherboard and Iron, which reprises the personal saga that took him from deputy prime minister to backbencher, as well as canvassing life in Canberra and policy issues.

On the NEG, he says in this podcast: “If it comes back from COAG and it’s absolutely untenable in regards to what happens to power prices and it forces even more misery onto people that can no longer afford power then I think you’re almost duty bound to leave that option [crossing the floor] up your sleeve.”

Asked whether the government should ditch its tax cuts for big business if it cannot get them through the Senate, Joyce says: “To be quite frank I’ve probably got a different view than some of my colleagues, in that I look at the company tax cuts and I say, well we have to also be internationally competitive.”

Provocatively, Joyce says the Nationals should run a candidate in the NSW Labor held seat of Eden-Monaro - which would mean contesting against a Liberal contender.

On future aspirations, Joyce makes it clear he would like to return to the frontbench after the election. “If I was offered that I would never knock it back,” he said. “In politics you should try to get to the point of most effect – because that’s how you bring the best outcome”.

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Wayne Swan on Labor’s byelection victories and beyond

August 1, 2018

Incoming Labor national president Wayne Swan has made it clear he will have an assertive voice in the role, as the party moves towards next year’s election.

While many in the ALP would like action on party reform, Swan says bluntly it’s not top of mind for him. “I made it very clear [in campaigning for the presidency] that party reform in the first instance was not my priority,” he says. “My priority is winning the battle of ideas.”

Looking to the rescheduled party conference in December, Swan acknowledges there will be battles on issues such as asylum seekers. But “we have to be mature about it – and I think the party will be”. “I think you’ve seen from the Labor party for the last five years a degree of unity of purpose that has been very strong, and I think that will shine through what will be very passionate debates at the national conference”.

Swan alleges that the Liberal party has been taken over by “tea party fanatics who are dedicated to actually trashing government as an institution”. He stops short of calling Malcolm Turnbull a “tea party fanatic” but says the Prime Minister is “dancing to the tune [of them] at every turn … people like Peter Dutton, people like the Institute of Public Affairs.”

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Dennis Atkins on the Longman byelection

July 26, 2018

After an eight-week campaign, Super Saturday is finally here. There are five byelections being held, but the race in Longman is one of two nail-biter contests that could go either way.

Dennis Atkins, the Courier Mail’s national affairs editor, says the mood in Longman is one of political exhaustion and that the result is anybody’s guess because of preference changes.

But Atkins says the LNP and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull could well be the winners regardless of the result. “If Shorten wins both the byelections he stays, and they regard Shorten as their best asset,” Atkins says. “If Shorten loses one or both of these byelections, then there is internal fighting in the Labor party and the Coalition will benefit from the appearance of disunity.”

Katharine Murphy ‘On Disruption’

July 5, 2018

A recording of a conversation with Katharine Murphy, the Political Editor of The Guardian Australlia about her new book 'On Disruption'. Murphy's book is about the dramatic changes that have taken place in the media and their implications, and is published by Melbourne University Press.

This conversation was hosted by Australian National University Crawford School of Public Policy and introduced by their Director, Professor Helen Sullivan.

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Tanya Plibersek on Labor’s taxing times

June 27, 2018

Deputy opposition leader Tanya Plibersek talks on Anthony Albanese's Whitlam oration, Bill Shorten's unexpected announcement on rolling back company tax for medium sized firms, the "tough" Braddon and Longman byelections - and really fires up about mobile phones and over connected children.

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Frances Adamson on being secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs

June 24, 2018

Frances Adamson is secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. She was previously international adviser to Malcolm Turnbull, and served as Australia’s ambassador in Beijing between 2011 and 2015.

This interview is published in partnership with The Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

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Attorney-General Christian Porter on a crowded agenda

June 20, 2018

Attorney-General Christian Porter says the response to the consultations for the national apology to victims of child sexual abuse has been very strong with a total of 167 attendees at consultation sessions so far. "There are further consultations coming up in Ballarat, Melbourne, Bendigo, Newcastle and Sydney ... it is a very important process and is going very well," he said.

Porter also says there's "some level of common sense" to suggestions that former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who set up the royal commission, should have a role in the apology. "I do think those things are best dealt with by exchange of letter or meetings directly between the Leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister."

In this interview Porter also speaks about foreign interference laws, elder abuse, the amalgamation of the Family and Federal Circuit courts, and why he rejects calls for change to section 44 of the constitution.

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Brotherhood of St Laurence’s Conny Lenneberg on Newstart, poverty and inequality

May 31, 2018

The Brotherhood of St Laurence has underway a campaign with the slogan “Share the Pie” highlighting the inadequacy of the Newstart allowance. The Brotherhood is also arguing the social safety net more generally is fraying.

Executive Director of The Brotherhood Conny Lenneberg spoke to The Conversation about the inequality created by the low level of Newstart, which hasn’t been boosted for many years.

She also pointed to the systemic barriers - such as disinvestment in the TAFE system and a scarcity of entry level jobs - which contribute to youth unemployment.

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Michael McCormack on Barnaby’s future, latte sippers and other matters

May 30, 2018

With yet another round of the Barnaby Joyce affair distracting the government, the next question will be whether the beleaguered MP runs again in his New England seat at the election.

In this interview with The Conversation, Nationals leader and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack pointedly avoids saying Joyce should do so.

“That’ll be a matter for him and that’ll be a matter for the National party in New England. That’ll be a matter for a branch to nominate him and then that’ll be a matter for the branch members in New England as to whether or not they decide if he nominates or if anybody else nominates,” McCormack says.

“Then it becomes a preselection process as to who they think would best represent them going forward”.

McCormack also speaks about the reception for the government’s tax plans in regional Australia, lashes out at those city-dwellers “sipping lattes” who’d close down live animal exports, and declares “trust me, I am no pushover for anybody”.

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