Without change, Abbott’s a dead man walking

Drum_newTony Abbott’s long-awaited address to the National Press Club today has become much more about his own survival than a rebalancing of his Government’s wobbly electoral prospects.

Weekly column for The Drum.

Queensland election – enrol now (by Sat 10 Jan 2015)

855405-120316-lobbeckeApparently there’s a bit of confusion about enrolling to vote in the Queensland state election that will be held on 31 January 2015.

So here’s a few tips.

  1. If you live in Queensland and want to vote in the election, you can get on to the electoral roll right up until the night before the election, but if you want your name to appear on the printed electoral roll you need to register by 5pm this Saturday, 10 January 2015.
  2. If you’re not sure that you’re on the electoral roll, you can check here.
  3. If you’ve moved to a different address since the last Queensland election, you can update your address details here.
  4. If you want to enrol, you can do so here, but keep in mind that you will need to confirm your identity using your driver’s licence or Australian passport number or have someone who is enrolled confirm your identity.
  5. If you’re 17 at the moment but will be 18 on or before election day (31 January 2015), you can also enrol now.
  6. If you have other questions about enrolling to vote in the Queensland election on 31 January 2015, you may find the answer here. Otherwise, you can ask the Australian Electoral Commission using this contact page.

Abbott has six months to get it right

Drum_newIt’s too early to tell whether Abbott will make it through 2015 as Prime Minister but there are three – maybe four – upcoming tests of his survival.

Weekly column for The Drum.

Like a criminal in the dock, Hockey insults our intelligence

Like a criminal in the dock: there’s no other way to describe how Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey appeared at his press conference today, delivering the Coalition’s long-awaited policy costings.

The man most likely to be in charge of the country’s finances next week showed all the telltale signs of a guilty party: sweating profusely, covering his mouth and constantly dropping his gaze to the floor as he devised his answers.

In a world where perception is fact, and appearance guides perception – particularly during an election when this is exponentially the case – Hockey epitomised the complete opposite of the economic competence he was trying to convey. And on which much of the Coalition’s campaign has been built.

Yet there was little wonder why Hockey looked guilty and ashamed, for he had just produced a mere eight pages of costings for the Coalition’s sixty policies and the means by which they would pay for them.

Eight pages.

What a slap in the face for the (admittedly small in number) Australian voters who are genuinely interested in what a policy might cost and how that cost would be offset elsewhere. I’m accustomed to voters being treated like ignorant fools by politicians, their staff and their campaign teams, but this tactic is one of the greatest insults to our intelligence that I can recall.

I’m not suggesting the Coalition’s costings are material to the election outcome. Voters have pretty much decided to choose the Liberal brand and at this stage it would require something like Abbott being caught with the proverbial goat for them to be persuaded otherwise.

I’m not even particularly fazed by the last minute release of the costings, considering the tactic has been employed by Opposition Leaders from both sides for at least the past four federal elections.

No, what gets MY goat is the contemptuous lack of anything that appears to be detail in the costings document – there’s not even a superficial attempt to satisfy those of us who want more than lowest common denominator information.

I wasn’t expecting the Coalition to produce an alternate version of the Federal Budget Papers, but I did expect a greater breakdown of the spending initiatives and the savings. How hard can it be to slap all the policies together in one publication accompanied by their costings? (That’s a rhetorical question – I know it’s not that hard).

The Coalition missed an opportunity today to shake the cynicism of a few doubting Thomases. A professional-looking publication showing a costings breakdown for every policy and the accompanying savings would have set the tone for the first week of a new Abbott Government, conveying: they’re professional and they’re competent.

Today’s exposition by Joe Hockey from the witness box has done just the opposite, conveying: they’re shonky and they’re hiding something.

No jackpot for Rudd at Rooty Hill

PokiesHere’s my take for Guardian Australia on last night’s Peoples’ Forum at Rooty Hill RSL Club and Kevin Rudd’s strategy to shorten Tony Abbott’s lead on economic competency.

Weekly election column for ABC The Drum

The DrumI’m thrilled to have been offered a weekly column at ABC’s The Drum during the federal election campaign.

Here’s the first piece, in which I look at Rudd and Abbott’s first election speeches and divine what they suggest are the main drivers for this election.

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