April 2, 2019
From inside the budget lockup, The Conversation’s Business and Economics editor Peter Martin and political and economic journalist Tim Colebatch from Inside Story shared their reactions to the pre-election budget.
Martin said the budget featured a substantial tax cut “that goes back in time” and that while the government was forecasting “good times around the corner,” there has been barely any sign of them.
He also said he thought while the budget gives Labor an advantage, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is unlikely to be embarrassed by it in the future.
Colebatch told The Conversation it “was a modest budget” and that the spending measures were “really fairly restrained”.
“It recognises that the debate has shifted and people are less likely to be bought by big spending and more likely to be bought by the impression of fiscal reticence and control and delivering a budget surplus,” he said.
March 26, 2019
After more than two decades, Jenny Macklin is in her final days as an MP. Her legacies from her time as a Labor minister include parental leave and the landmark National Disability Insurance Scheme.
In this podcast she tells The Conversation a Labor government would fix “one of the worst” problems of the NDIS by abolishing the cap on the number of staff that could be employed in the agency. “There are other issues as well […] there’s problems with the pricing of services. There just hasn’t been the quick response that has been needed,” Macklin said.
She also speaks about the need to listen to and support Indigenous-led programs to close the gap, as well as implement measures to address increasing inequality in Australia.
March 4, 2019
The Australian Election Study, conducted by the Australian National University, has been running since 1987.
Its director Ian McAllister says one thing voters will want at this poll is stability.
McAllister says that for the first time in a long while, one of the major parties - Labor - has put forward some “very constructive policies”. But, he told The Conversation, Bill Shorten is very unpopular: he “ranks below any leader we’ve ever recorded across virtually every personal quality including things like trust, competence, integrity”.
McAllister says the Coalition’s challenge is that the Liberals haven’t been looking after their base.
He expects the election to highlight a “generational gap in voting” and probably a much higher level of “split-ticket voting” - people voting differently for the two houses.
March 1, 2019
The Sydney electorate of Warringah will be one of the most fascinating battlegrounds in the May election, with a high profile independent Zali Stegall challenging former prime minister Tony Abbott.
Despite the seat being on about 11 per cent, Abbott describes this as a “full on marginal seat campaign”.
Abbott is running hard on local issues. He says over-development and traffic congestion are the biggest issues and if reelected he is keen to use his position to be a “champion” for the Northern beaches tunnel. He’s trying to tone down his stridency, this week attempting to avoid being drawn to deeply into the row around the criminal conviction of Cardinal George Pell.
Steggall, a lawyer and former Olympian, is running against Abbott on a campaign that says Warringah voters want “a new voice”.
Keenly focused on climate change policy, Steggall is very critical of the government’s efforts and says even Labor’s energy policy “needs again to be toughened up.”
Steggall, who grew up and lives in the electorate, has only had Abbott as an MP and has never voted Liberal nor has she had voted Labor.
Pressed on who she had voted for, she told The Conversation she has mostly voted independent but “wouldn’t want to say never” to having voted Greens.
February 13, 2019
Independent MP Kerryn Phelps, who set the ball rolling for the medical transfers legislation, says its passage is “a remarkable exercise in cooperation”.
Phelps says that of the about 1000 people on Manus and Nauru “around 70 people require urgent medical evacuation” and “another couple of hundred will require transfer but not as urgently”.
She describes Scott Morrison’s proposal to reopen the Christmas Island detention facility as a “political statement”.
“What we need to do is to have a regional resettlement option for people who are currently on Manus and Nauru so they don’t have to become so sick that they have to be transferred to Australia to await resettlement somewhere else.”
A List of Ways to Die, Lee Rosevere, from Free Music Archive.
AAP Image/Lukas Coch
February 5, 2019
Deputy prime minister and Nationals leader Michael McCormack says the banking royal commission report contained a good outcome for farmers.
McCormack praised Nationals backbenchers Llew O’Brien, George Christensen and John “Wacka” Williams for their role in pushing for the commission, saying he was “really pleased” about major changes recommended in relation to agricultural loans.
Acknowledging the big challenges ahead for the Nationals at the election, he told The Conversation he is “not going to write Cowper off yet” - a Nationals NSW seat under siege from Rob Oakeshott, who was an independent for the seat of Lyne from 2008-2013.
With Williams retiring, McCormack says prospects for the NSW Nationals in the Senate are “difficult” and “it is yet to be decided” if the Nationals will run their own ticket in that state.
December 20, 2018
The Labor party has emerged from its three day national conference in Adelaide looking united and projecting itself as “ready to govern”.
Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek told The Conversation the ALP wants voters to see the party as “responsible and progressive”.
She says a Labor government would “work cooperatively with the trade union movement cause we share the same objective”.
“The union movement hasn’t got everything they wanted from the Labor party in this instance, but a lot of the changes we have made have been made better by the discussions that we’ve had over many months leading up to this conference,” she said.
On border security, Plibersek dismisses the use of three word slogans on both sides of the debate and argues “a more activist aid policy and more activist foreign policy” are needed to help asylum seekers.
December 12, 2018
Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese, a senior minister in the last Labor government and briefly deputy prime minister, is preparing to “hit the ground running” if the ALP wins next year’s election.
But meanwhile the opposition is concentrating on staying focused and on message, fully aware that things can always go wrong.
Speaking to The Conversation, Albanese wouldn’t comment on Bill Shorten’s unpopularity with voters, arguing instead that it’s a matter of whether the Labor team is “seen as worthy of election”.
Albanese predicts next week’s ALP national conference will be “very constructive”, dismissing concerns about divisions over boat turnbacks.
The debate is not focused on that, he said – rather the emphasis is on settling people from Nauru and Manus in third countries, dealing with those needing medical assistance, and co-operating in regional processing.
Asked about the ALP last week capitulating to the government over the encryption bill, Albanese said he wasn’t involved in the decision, which was “made by the leadership group”.
Always under pressure from the Greens in his own seat of Grayndler, Albanese predicts a “schism” in the “dysfunctional” party is imminent. A conflict between two tendencies in the NSW Greens could lead to a split “as soon as the March state election … two parties essentially running against each other trying to claim the same ground”.
November 28, 2018
Josh Frydenberg, who became treasurer and deputy Liberal leader in the tumultuous events of August, said the party has “big challenges”.
While the party is “disappointed” by this week’s defection of Julia Banks to the crossbench they “remain as a group focused on the challenges ahead. And we have big challenges, there’s no doubt about that.” He said he “absolutely” will be keeping in touch with Banks.
Frydenberg reiterates that the Liberal party is still a “broad church” and says he isn’t concerned about other MPs like Craig Kelly following Banks’ suit. “I know that Craig is a strong Liberal and that Craig will continue to put the government’s case.”
November 19, 2018
The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC) ended with no agreed communique and unresolved tensions between the United States and China on open display.
Lowy Institute’s Pacific Islands program director, Jonathan Pryke, who observed the forum in Port Moresby, said: “it is distressing for all parties that they weren’t able to find common ground. There is a fear that we’re losing the middle here.”
Pryke told The Conversation “the desire for a convergence of China into the international liberal order seems like a bit of a fantasy now.”
But he says “whilst the summit has left everyone on a pretty sour note” because of the state of the communique “it is still important for all the middle powers to find more ways in which they can communicate and work together to maintain this liberal order.”
On Australia partnering with America to develop a naval base on Manus, he said “the devil will be in the details … but it does send a strong symbolic message to China.”