Murdoch pledges fealty to US in recent speech.

iStock_000020591230_Medium Cutdown



If there were ever any doubt as to which side of the Pacific media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s heart lies, it surely evaporated during Monday’s address at the Hudson Institute in Washington DC. As reported in his eponymously titled Australian newspaper today (, Murdoch notes “I was an American before I became one. I was born in Australia ……..but am now an American.” So every time you read anything of a political nature in ‘The Australian’ or any other Murdoch medium, you might be forgiven for assuming it has been shrink-wrapped in an American flag. Perhaps this comes as no surprise to the Brics, Asia, Africa or South America; may be not even to the Brits who know him as “the Dirty Digger”. But it may be something of a wake-up call for us in Australia. Somehow such patriotic exuberance must leave even the most supportive of Mr Murdoch’s local ‘mates’ wondering whether he should be acquiring any more of the Australian media scene without a disclaimer?

As a supposedly independent nation, surely Australian media, however Marxist or Fascist in taint, at least believe that what they project is for Australia’s good rather than for any other nation. Otherwise be aware that what is written by foreign owned media could be little more than propaganda for their masters.

It would seem worthwhile that this test be applied in all cases but in particular to any digital or ink-based offerings associated with this American proprietor.


A leader can get away with being disliked in Opposition but not in government.

beatnick_king_by_celestialess-d3ere9r Bohemian

When a government is bad, any Opposition party can get itself elected even if its leader is unpopular (e.g. Abbott). But it is a different story once elected because an unpopular leader becomes the face of the party and makes the party in his likeness i.e. unpopular. This is exactly what happened to the LNP government in its first two years. Within three months of winning power, its 7% election margin had turned into a 7% deficit and largely remained there until the then leader got the 'Martin Place crisis' which almost elevated him to the status of the equally unpopular Labor Party Opposition leader. This was his cue to introduce as much draconian legislation as possible and he was well on his way when he was finally stopped.

Now an extremely unpopular French President has decided he won’t let his present crisis go to waste and appears to be scapegoating the Islamic world in general and Syria in particular (which is itself fighting the Islamists for its very survival). Scaremongering is being applied liberally particularly by the conservative media and their call out boys. State of emergency laws are being invoked and curtailments to liberté and egalité are being pushed onto the French while other equally unpopular Western leaders appear to be in lock step.

Like Turnbull, Obama and the US State Department appear to be wrestling with the Pentagon hawks and their Neocon buddies “itching” for a stand up drag ‘em out war. But these don’t go so well for the US. Not counting WW1 which it was late to; or WW2 which was won with the aid of Germany’s own technology; every other war or invasion the US has instigated could hardly be clocked up as ‘one for the gipper’. These heavy-loss, no win wars have been going on since the Alamo. Even one time Chihuahuan Governor Pancho Villa, held out against US Army raids into Northern Mexico for nine months in 1916 before General pershing was recalled to “assist” in the European war. Then there was Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and on and on. The only winners have been the arms salesmen. Hey! Wait a minute!

My point is that Islam can no more be held accountable for fanatical Islamists than can Christianity for fanatical Christian sects advocating a similar approach to non-believers. All I know is the innocent cop it every time while the demons are allowed to run amok. Isis is a criminal cabal not a sect and not a movement. It is a magnet for every dispossessed adventure seeker in the world and needs to be shut down. Surely the world could handle this if it were serious?

But when your only glimpse of success is enveloped in the smell of gun powder, many opt to close their minds to the consequences for the innocent. A murder in Martin Place by a deranged and delusional individual, who also happened to be a multi-faith Islamist sometimes appearing for the Sunni side and other times on the Shia side of a conflict, and whose background was and still is obviously “protected”, is no basis for holding power in my view.



The TPP- Has Australia been hoodwinked again by more wily competitors?

beatnick_king_by_celestialess-d3ere9r Bohemian

Made in America

The New Zealand government was first to release the 30 chapters that comprise the text of the up till now secret Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement . The agreement — brings together Australia, the US, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Vietnam, Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore .

It has subsequently been released by other countries, including the United States, which according to the popular blog, has a logo that would probably cause the other party countries to raise an eyebrow (the TPP is “made in America” boasts the logo above).

I think the PM better take a look at the fine print now it’s available!

What appears to be going on was predicted by David Korten in his 1995 book, When Corporations Rule The World or the coming “corporate coup d’état.” This corporate coup includes the privatisation and offshoring of the judicial function delegated to the US court system in the Constitution or to any other nation's sovereign court system, through Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions that strengthen existing ISDS procedures. The ISDS was deliberately omitted from the Howard Government's US-Australia FTA but is back bigger and better in this treaty giving foreign firms a special right to apply to a secretive tribunal of highly paid corporate lawyers for compensation whenever the government passes a law to do things that hurt corporate profits. According to Minister Robb, he has negotiated just for Australia some exceptions. How workable those riders are likely to be needs to be tested in coming weeks. The so called 'independent arbitrators' are paid handsomely by the hour which gives them little incentive to dismiss cases. The lack of any requirement to consider precedent gives wide scope for creative judgments – the sort of arbitrary edicts notable in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

To date, the highest ISDS award I understand to be USD2.3 billion to Occidental Oil against “US enemy” the government of Ecuador, over its termination of an oil-concession contract, although the termination was apparently legal. Under the TPP, however, even larger and more unpredictable judgments can be anticipated, since the sort of “investment” it protects includes not just “the commitment of capital or other resources” but the expectation of gain or profit.

That means the rights of corporations extend not merely to their factories and other “capital” but to the profits they expect to receive. The mere threat of a massive damage award for impacting “expected corporate profits” could be enough to discourage prospective legislation by lawmakers particularly for smaller nations.

I wonder whether those Asian nations apparently anxious to sign up are aware of the openings this agreement provides for US corporations in particular. Let’s stick with the bi-lateral FTA's thanks. I think we can manage those' and stay clear of deals which involve increased power for global corporations. Australia's FTA with the US has been one of our least valuable financially from what I can see and one which has placed us further into the negative on trade. If this TPP goes through, I believe that some US corporations will ensure GMO’s are forced on us along with the introduction or continuance of highly controversial agricultural chemicals and dubious pharmaceuticals. And if we don’t like it we will be sued in an offshore tribunal. Bilaterals are manageable – treaties are binding and could amount to a takeover if not carefully considered. I am far more cynical than the Trade Minister in this regard.

We may be a modern day David but Goliath is a whole lot bigger 3000 years on!


Turnbull surges but Libs still fighting Abbott Legacy


Abbott on the Ropes Grouped

“The Spoiler”: On the ropes, but is he still fighting the future!                                                         

Phillip Hudson writing in the Australian yesterday (October 12, 2015) noted that while the new Prime Minister is going from strength to strength, the party is treading water. The Essential Poll out today essentially says the same thing. Turnbull’s personal rating is going north but the Coalition has not improved its position since immediately after his ascension and may have even slipped fractionally. Could this be the result of “the Spoiler” still being in town; on the ropes but not out of the contest thanks to persistent niggling from the shock jocks and Murdoch Empire warlords who cannot accept that their views went unheeded? As the new PM preaches the virtues of collaboration, debate and collegiate intercourse, will the former PM slip back into the comfy shoes of the leader of the oppositio?

So what’s going on? As far as I can work out, in classic spoiler style, the former PM went around the traps telling people that nothing had changed under Turnbull and that the new PM was largely locked into his platform; you know the platform behind the loss of 30 consecutive Newspolls at an average deficit of around six points; notwithstanding the public’s equivalent level of disdain for the Opposition leader. The same platform that the LNP couldn’t get through the Senate during their first 18 months was unlikely to be so in the remaining 18 months of custodianship given a souring relationship with the cross benches. So the Parliament was in an ongoing stalemate and a general malaise was taking hold in the community at large as well as in business. This was manifested in increasing cynicism, even among the media if that were possible, leading to a sense of resignation toward and unpleasant future for us.

Then, with the elevation of Turnbull, there was instantly more hope in the hearts of the people coupled with a desire to want to believe Australia could break free from this downward spiral sentence. But the answer does not lie in the old 20th century Abbott policies nor does it lie in top of the head tilts at 21st century “technoscramble”.

The 21st century solution involves technological change to be sure but in the context of social and spiritual advancement and with that platform, the country will move forward at a rapid pace having the spiritual strength and social safety net to embrace grand technology and the challenges it will bring to all of our lives and futures. But we must also be brave enough to reject pointless and intrusive technology which is little more than a profit opportunity for its designers.

We are seeing some of this new thinking at work already in dealing with the challenge of radicalisation of Muslim youth but much more is needed in this area. It is not just about the Islamic community but all people. There must be not only a respect for women, for religion and culture so long as it is not against our laws, but there must be also be respect for the old, the weak – all people as part of a world we share. We need to recognise that we as spiritual beings cannot be bought off with geegaws and whirlygigs when a sense of fulfilment and meaning will deliver so much more. If we are to be a great country we must believe in ourselves as human beings capable of caring for others as much as achieving greatness financially, socially and spiritually.

There have been stumbles with the new government because it is very early days and as you would expect, everybody is waving their main issue at the PM and his team with equal vigour, but a priority list must be set urgently or no headway can be made.

This must include an examination of waste and poor decision-making allowed to accumulate over the last 30-40 years where billions of savings reside as noted in this paper here.

As Hudson says, the Coalition and Labor two-party preferred using 2013 preferences are neck and neck but Turnbull is the preferred leader 57% to 19% with 24% uncommitted. It would be my surmise that many of that 24% would be prepared to come across once the worst memories of the Abbott era are shaken loose and the politics of collaboration (as is being espoused by the current Lord Mayor of Wollongong) comes to the fore. As some have found in our local government for some time, people want resolution not point-scoring and constant warfare. And they seem to be prepared to make trade-offs to achieve it.

General Wesley Clark explains why the US is in Syria.



Syrian Refugees

Syrian Refugees

On October 3, 2007, General Wesley Clark made an important speech at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco in which he explained how he came to learn that a faction in the US Pentagon had seized control and were planning to invade seven Middle Eastern countries in five years. Now everybody else knows except for the 80% of the West following the mainstream media.

The reason Clark details here and it is the reason the Russians decided to go into Syria. It is also the reason ISIS/ISIL/AL NUSRA/DAESH has quietened down appreciably since the Russians started bombing their locations. General Clark had just published a book entitled "A Time to Lead" and his speech at FORA TV appears to have been a pitch for the Democratic presidential nomination which was of course handed to Barack Obama.Evidently he misread the number of people interested in perpetual war on both sides of the political divide.



What is the vision for Australia?


 “If you don’t know where you’re going any road will take you there”

(George Harrison)[0]

According to Paul Kelly [1] “the issue is whether Abbott and Hockey can hold their budget strategy together. Obviously, the Senate onslaught of 2014 will not be repeated. Yet the jury remains out on how much damage will be done in parliament”.

It is this paper’s contention that the present government is guilty of the most unforgiveable of all political crimes. It has failed to offer the people a vision! It insists it has a plan but fails to articulate it. It assures us it has a direction but continuously changes it. It states that it cares for society’s most vulnerable yet consistently denigrates them. Political writers, academics and pundits continue to be critical of most actions that the government is taking largely due to an apparent lack of vision. Each announcement is looked upon an isolated issue rather than as a building block towards the realisation of a grand vision for the country. The government of South Africa has survived more than twenty years on a grand vision.

Each policy statement made by the present government, and for that matter the previous government, is an orphan left to fend for itself in the great Australian policy orphanage where positions are likely to move 180 degrees in the opposite direction if the going gets tough. Given the about-faces over the last 18 months, it doesn’t take that long for people to work out that those entrusted to run the place are taking them on a path to nowhere propelled by little more than a desire to retain power. This is what commentators like van Onselen[2], Kelly[3], Black[4], Kohler[5] and many others appear to have been alluding to for some time now. According to Kohler, to get Australia’s economic infrastructure stock back to the 65% of GDP that it was 30 years ago would require spending of $150bn. But bringing infrastructure above the line would be “too visionary” in his words.

A government preaching austerity and blaming a 'clueless Opposition' for its problems after 18 months in government just doesn't hold water. The public are entitled to ask, as should the clueless Opposition: “Where are you taking us?”

Except that their opposition is so weak, the present government would be reeling.

Lack of vision.

The public cannot be expected to come to grips with the nuts and bolts of every policy decision. They would prefer to hang their faith on an overarching vision that they can accept as the direction for Australia with which they are comfortable. It is unlikely their vision would be for a security state or as a leading actor in the war on terror as is being offered up at the present time in order to protect our way of life which is becoming increasingly absent any discernible direction. Not only is there no vision for the people, but also no vision for back benchers, front benchers, business, labour or anyone else. As a result the motivation for career politicians defaults to staying in power, manifestly obvious to both public and commentators given the '180’s' that the government has engineered over the last 18 months.

Social cohesion rather than divide and conquer.

Former Reserve Bank board member and respected academic economist Warwick McKibbin, writing in the Australian Financial Review[6] indicates that social cohesion is the goal not necessarily largesse to those most favoured. Recognising the harm in a divide and conquer mentality (e.g. Battlelines), the McKibbin thesis has the makings of a grand vision for the country. Instead, we presently have an adversarial approach to government i.e. to disrupt, destroy and disengage rather than to invest and grow.

A vision must be underpinned by trust.

Kelly³ raised the issue of trust as the core problem with this government in a recent article in the Australian. Our research suggests that the trust problem didn’t start with the present government – it just continued unabated. Kelly quotes pollster Mark Textor’s work for the Business Council of Australia reported by CEO, Catherine Livingstone in her presentation to the Canberra Press recently.[7]  According to that study “the public is deeply worried about the nation’s direction and condition, recognises the need for reform but has a profound distrust in the ability of the political class to make it work…. an increasingly troubled community, more ready to accept but distrustful of the political class and its ability to implement change on an even handed basis”.

Our findings support BCA conclusions 100%. Of course to be accepted, trust in those proposing the change is imperative. It is not there at the moment so the entire system is in limbo.

No discernible strategy really means no vision.                                                                                                                                                      

The conclusion Textor reaches is that "the Abbott government has no discernible strategy to manage the economic challenges, just a government talking with reference to silos about the budget deficit or welfare or parental leave." We would go further. What the BCA report fails to say however, and also what Kelly fails to make clear is that the government has no vision about where it wants to take us all which is why the “silos of favour” are forever attacked and will continue to be attacked. It is more than just a big picture; it is a vision for us all to grasp and then buy into for the good of the nation as well as ourselves.

It is harder to fight a big idea than a specific policy and the government just doesn’t get it.

The lost chance.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The LNP had the chance to make a difference in its first six months but it sat on its hands. They had been warned. Back in October 2013, writing for the Australian, Janet Albrechtson made the following observation:

“Tony Abbott has a massive opportunity to right the ship by pushing the reset button on entitlements.” …. Then continues: “More to the point however, is what will we be saying about the Abbott government three or even six years from now and whether the opportunities afforded by a major victory are taken?” So is it a leadership issue that we are dealing with in 2015?

What are the qualities of a great leader?

What are the Australian people looking for – indeed hoping for? No matter which side of politics, their expectations are remarkably consistent. Prior to the 2013 election, Australian Opinion Research8 asked a representative sample of 5360 Australians 18+ what were the most desirable qualities of any future Australian leader? The results appear below:

What are the most desirable qualities for a leader[8] according to all those surveyed are in order:



All Respondents


Liberal Fencesitters (%)




Placing Australia’s interests above all others



 Prepared to take tough decisions despite criticism






     Prepared to admit when wrong






     Excellent Manager of Finances



     Concerned for the weaker members   of society of society




It is unlikely that any politician of the left or right is seen by the pubic as epitomising these characteristics today although there may be some who could.

Following this 2013 ranking, the image of each of the Opposition leader and the then Prime Minister were rated by the Australian Opjnion Research respondents in terms of those same traits identified as most important in a leader. The results for Rudd and Abbott were as follows:

Rudd V Abbott with Fencesitters


So immediately prior to the 2013 election, Tony Abbott was seen by LNP Fencesitters (swing voters) as:


  • Less honourable than Rudd
  • Not as strong as Rudd
  • More calculating than Rudd
  • Less trustworthy than Rudd
  • More arrogant than Rudd
  • Less intelligent than Rudd
  • Less positive than Rudd
  • More likely to be out for himself than Rudd
  • More likely to sell us out than Rudd


Whether these perceptions were real or imagined, true or otherwise, the LNP was still ahead of the encumbent Labor government by several points on a two party preferred basis lending credibility to the view that the public were voting Labor out of office – not for the Liberal leader.

The issue of trust continues to be a real roadblock for achieving anything in the present climate and unless there is some sea change, it is unlikely to go away any time soon irrespective of the current bout of “tradie love" on display. The present round of generosity superficially at least, is more likely to lead to a 'grab it while you can' attitude from its beneficiaries rather than regarding it as some positive development toward a direction for the country.

Notwithstanding the preceding, if anybody had followed the advice offered by Malcolm Turnbull in his speech to the International CEO’s Forum in Melbourne four years ago[9], we may not have been in the predicament we are now facing. Moreover, the Turnbull speech hinted at some kind of vision for the country, albeit economic in substance rather than sociologically driven. Here are some key points made by Turnbull that are being put forward by leading commentators today such as McKibbin6 and Kohler’s5 when commenting on the recent budget:

“Let me turn to the current boom. We all understand it is being driven by rapid growth, urbanisation and rising living standards in Asia (particularly China and India) which have expanded the global appetite for resources and other commodities. Leaving aside the contentious matter of how resources should be taxed, which has been discussed extensively over the past year, several related questions arise from all this:

  • The lesson is that the global economy is changing more quickly than ever before, often in quite unexpected ways. There is no room for complacency because the next shift may present adversity rather than opportunity.
  • And how can public policy make our economy more flexible and structural adjustments less disruptive?
  • What should we do with the large boost to national income we are currently experiencing – should it be saved or spent – by the public or private sector and over what time horizon?
  • How long will the current boom persist, and how will Australia’s economic prospects look at its conclusion? It seems very likely that a fairly large part of the recent gains will be relatively short-lived. The next year or so may be as good as it gets.
  • On balance, I believe that the time has come for Australia to create a new (additional) sovereign wealth fund.
  • Needless to say investments in infrastructure should always be subject to a rigorous cost-benefit analysis. The investment rules for such a fund would need to be very clearly articulated with a strong and accountable governance regime. The Future Fund is a good precedent.
  • Treasury papers calculate that the resources boom generated revenue windfalls of approximately $65 billion during Labor’s first three years. Of course every cent and more was spent. Treasury also projects another $30 billion will be tipped into the coffers by the boom in 2011-12 – but when Wayne Swan delivers the 2011-12 Budget on May 10, you can safely bet every cent of that will be spent too.
  • I believe that a project of this kind would be very much in the spirit of the times. As the unhappy retailers constantly remind us, Australians are reducing debt and saving more. We know that our good economic fortunes are in very large measure a consequence of developments in other countries and we know that the world we live in is not becoming any less volatile or more predictable.
  • Nonetheless, according to the forward estimates, we are many years away from being debt-free, despite the resources boom. Indeed, Treasury estimates the Budget will not return to structural surplus until 2019-20 – more than a decade after the brief downturn the Government uses to justify its profligacy, and despite windfall revenues from the highest sustained commodity prices in history.


Coming Clean with the Australian People

Clearly Turnbull’s 2011 speech on coming clean with the Australian people would have been a step in the right direction if our research is anything to go by. The results of the Australian Opinion Research (AOR) pre-election survey 2013, explain Textor’s BCA findings in some depth.8

It needs to be noted that this paper is not taking sides. The public felt no more trusting of the Labor government in 2013 than they do the Coalition today. The Australian Opinion Research survey involved responses from a representative national cross section of 5360 Australians 18 years and over and recorded the following somewhat alarming findings inrelation to trust in government and other major institutions:

  • 79% of people believe that people generally are feeling more and more powerless against big corporations and special interests groups which may also explain why…
  • 75% of people believe that most politicians are more concerned with corporate interests than they are with the people who elected them and when it comes to mining…
  • 62% believe some well-known politicians take their orders from corporations and the same percentage (61%) believe that some well-known politicians take their orders from the unions
  • Only 16% believe that the government will do the right thing by the people as far as coal seam gas is concerned.
  • 67% of those surveyed believe that doctors are frequently influenced by the marketing and PR from drug companies to recommend drugs as the best solution to a problem a patient reports.
  • 46% believe that “Big Pharma” is corrupt and has far too much influence over the medical profession.
  • Only 16% of people believe that there is absolutely no risk attached to GMO foods and …
  • 65% believe that local markets are springing up around the suburbs in many western cities as people react against the takeover of the food chain by major supermarkets.


International Policy – Beware of foreign entanglements.

Malcolm Fraser’s recent book Dangerous Allies[10] speaks of a need to review our relationships with our great and powerful friends and to focus on our own backyard. Even veteran reporter Robert Gottliebson13 has joined the debate What was once a necessity (to attach to the major power) became an ‘insecurity’ and is now a liability according to Fraser. Australian Opinion Research findings[11] again provide strong support for Fraser’s conclusions delivering the following barbecue stoppers from its 2013 pre-election survey of 5360 Australians:

  • 46% of those surveyed believe (which is more than who don’t believe) that in recent years Australia has allowed itself to become entangled in the American war machine which could have serious repercussions for our relationship with China.
  • 43% believe the USA (which is more than who don’t believe) largely controls Australia's foreign policy and
  • 34% believe the Wikileaks report (which is more than who don’t believe) that indicates some Australian union officials have been identified as foreign intelligence assets. (42% don’t know).
  • 63% believe that the government spends most of its time trying to keep the truth from the people. And perhaps even more alarming…
  • 79% of Australians believe people are feeling increasingly powerless against big corporations and special interest groups
  • 60% of respondents believe we should treat the US and China equally in all dealings.

Australia has a great story to tell as a modern generous nation despite the ever increasing pressure to think only of oneself and one’s own interests. Two years ago Australia was ranked by the Economist Intelligence Unit #2 inthe world in terms of the best country in which to be born.

The Economist Intelligence Unit in 2013 rated Australia the second best country in which to be born.

The Economist Survey Australia

Australia is also the most generous when it comes to minimum wages.

Australia is also more generous to its people than any other nation based on its minimum wage. According to an OECD report from May 2015[12], it takes less hours work at the minimum wage in Australia to cross the poverty line than any other country with a minimum wage system.

Hourly minimum wage before and after taxes, 2013, in US dollars at purchasing power parities and nett minimum wages.

Gross and Net Wage OECD 2015

Weekly working hours needed at minimum-wage to move above a relative poverty line, 2013

OECD 2015 Data Minimum Wage

Banish uncertainty!

As Warwick McKibbin notes given the present level of uncertainty, “uncertainty damages economic growth because it reduces investment. Global uncertainty is high. A core role of government is not to increase this uncertainty and where possible to enable individuals to manage uncertainty when markets fail to do so.” 6

Vision requires a strong belief in a future direction and an ability to take the public with you. With that, individual policies become less important. Without, individual policies are a ready target for all detractors.

According to McKibbin, core spending programmes should be based on robust revenue stream, otherwise sharp movements in revenue will lead to ad hoc shifts in spending programs or tax arrangements. "Rather than focus on the winners and losers which is what a political budget encourages, the budget should be evaluated relative to the type of fiscal policy that Australia needs to sustain economic growth and maintain social cohesion."


A leader with vision if they so desired, could inspire this country to take risks again; not with cash incentives but with a belief in the nation and what it represents, namely a trust that the leader “has their back” and a desire to protect the uniqueness of this country borne out of a convict population which proved it could make good if it had the chance.  We all want to feel confident about moving forward. And, despite all of the rhetoric, Australia is still the fairest country in the world according to the latest OECD data. If we can believe that, it will inspire people to focus on building the nation together. But – first we have to know where we are going and that would appear to be some challenge.

So where is the leader who will tell us!


See also from Checkmate Analytics and Institute for 21st Century Problem Solving:

“Government continues its journey south”,

“Privatisation or how to lose an election”,

“Coalition going south for winter”,

 “The 21st century is as different from the 20th as the 20th is from the Dark Ages”,

“USA V China and Aussie preference for neutrality”,

“The Impact of legislative changes over the last five years on childcare and early learning in Australia” ,

“Impact of legislative changes on childcare – overview”,

Gonski Futures – Spotlight on the Gonski Report as it has been sold.

The role of “Poster Schools” in funding a fairer, more cost effective education system.

“Abbott doesn’t need to be liked – Rudd does”,

“New survey shows Australians wary of genetically modified foods”,

“Coal seam gas industry has domestic and international hurdles ahead”,

“The next three years of Liberal stewardship”,

“Doctors most trusted but manipulated by Big Pharma”,

Liberal National government acting in sync with public sentiment on national sovereignty.

Families will cost the Abbott Government the next election. Checkmate Analytics (Restricted) January, 2015.


(0)George Harrison, Song: Any Road, Album: Brainwashed, 2003.

[1] “Abbott-Shorten conflicts clear after 2015 budget”, Paul Kelly, The Australian, May 16, 2015.

[2] “Abbott, Hockey, Rudd, Gillard and Shorten exemplify policy paralysis”, Peter van Onselen, The Australian, May 9,  2015.



[3] “Democracy under threat as trust in system broken”, Paul Kelly, The Australian, May 4, 2015



[4] “Budget 2015: Blueprint a winner for Abbott in pubs and polls”, John Black, The Australian, May 16, 2015


[5] “The Budget’s dirty little secret” Alan Kohler, the Business Spectator, May13, 2015


[6] “Stakes alarmingly high in Hockey’s economic gamble”, Warwick McKibbin, Australian Financial Review, May14, 2015.




9] Published on: April 08, 2011Speech by Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP to the International CEO’s Forum – Melbourne, April 7, 2011.


[10] Dangerous Allies, Fraser Malcolm with Cain Roberts, Melbourne University Press, 2014.


[11] Australian Opinion Research Report


[12] “Focus on Minimum wages after the crisis: Making them pay”, OECD Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs, May 2015.

(13) "Australia must wake up to the looming risk in Asia", Robert Gottliebson, Business Spectator, 22nd May 2015



























Coalition going south for winter!



Five Quarters Post Election Rudd (Nov 2007

When Rudd won power for Labor in 2007, he posted the same percentage of the vote as Abbott in 2013. If we average the published Newspoll data for the period into quarterly ‘two-party preferred’ numbers, it is evident that Rudd’s government enjoyed a surge upward in his first quarter as PM, most of which he managed to hold for eight consecutive quarters thereafter. And, even after reportedly alienating half of his Labor colleagues along with many others in the immediate vicinity, Rudd still held well over 50% of the vote at the time he was deposed.  

His departure ushered in a Disney-like period of crises (real and imagined), shameless posturing and fairy tales some call the “Spin and Misogyny era”. What were once healthy ratings bequeathed to his successor, after one quarter began dropping much like that which the Coalition is experiencing.  The then Gillard government gave the impression it was out of control, relying on ad hoc actions to keep the show on the road day to day. Short of the misogyny blip, the Labor government stumbled along on a largely downward trajectory until the inevitable occurred in 2013.

When the Coalition came to power in 2013 Tony Abbot proclaimed confidently that finally the adults were back in control and we could all rest easy. These same adults then watched as their victory margin evaporated soon after leaving no trace of a honeymoon period at all. Worse, their numbers are still dropping.  

NB:Two party preferred Labor (Rudd) V Coalition (Abbott) Source: Newspoll  stats for federal voting preferences -House Reps post 2007 election (see website).Rounding down in all cases. Averaging for the ten quarters  of Rudd Prime Ministership and five quarters of Abbott’s tenure.

So what happened? Unlike the spin cycle on the Gillard machine the new team switched to the ”we know best” approach and apparently knowing what was required was all the explanation the public needed or were going to get from them. So while the "kids" had been deceitful, mistrustful and foolhardy, the new “adults” appeared secretive and condescending and to some arrogant. My experience in political research suggests that Aussies don’t like being talked down to; not only by their great and powerful friends, but even more so by their own leaders.

And this is borne out in the statistics. After just one quarter in the seat, the government’s margin over the Opposition on a two party preferred basis had slipped to just 2%. After a second quarter, it had fallen into the negative (-4%) and has continued south ever since. By December 2014, the marginhad crashed to a negative 8% (-8%), the September uptick notwithstanding.  

Imagine if Labor were led by even a semi-charismatic spokesperson? However, just as the electorate did not vote for Abbott but the Coalition in the 2013 election, the same could be argued of the current Opposition leader. The Coalition’s present problem is largely of its making and if not its fault, it is being blamed for it nonetheless. Abbott has always been a low scorer in the popularity stakes. Both PM and leader of the Opposition manage to keep politics uninspiring at best if their personal ratings are anything to go by. As pointed out earlier, the people are blaming the entire government for messing up, not just Abbott who had almost as many detractors before the election yet the government managed to post a win as convincing as Rudd’s victory against Howard in 2007.

Susan Ley is an effective operator with the human touch but her inclusion in the inner circle is but a dolly step back to the path of redemption. She adds a splash of colour to an otherwise sombre religious canvas but one splash of colour does not the Renaissance make.

Rome - paint of Last super of Christ form church

On that other matter of note, the people of Queensland are just about to show the present Qld Liberal government, which won in one of the greatest landslides ever how well arrogance sits with Aussies. There is nothing at this stage that leads me to think that the electorate isn’t capable of doing exactly the same thing to their federal counterparts should there be an election any time sooner or later.

The 21st century is as different from the 20th as the 20th is from the Dark Ages.


businessman working with virtual screen

The 21st century is as different from the 20th century as the 20th century is to the Dark Ages. We are facing unprecedented change through technology so advanced we can barely imagine it. Technology that declares man is no longer needed for any but the most advanced and sophisticated activities as well as our most human of activities. Unprecedented replacement of human effort by robots in the name of efficiency has delivered both economic and psychological poverty on all but those most prepared or predisposed and this has only just begun. Without any thought of the possible consequences of this massive change being downloaded on the peoples of the world, we are changing the way we educate, communicate, feed and repair each other. Much of humanity is being left redundant with little hope of ever finding a place of meaning in this "brave new world" without being robotised in soime way if we are to believe writer and darling of the technology set Ray Kurzweil ("The Singularity is Near"). But I don't want a lobotomy Ray!

The only areas this century in which robots are unlikely to put humans out of work are the fields of ideas and networking. It is here that humanity must focus if it is to survive an onslaught that no one has any idea how it is going to end.

From a corporate perspective, business first had to deal with off-shoring of manufacturing, then service industries and finally professional services. But this is merely an interim step to a world where technology will control all of these processes directly with the aid of advanced surveillance, 3D printing, computerised intelligent sales and survey systems, robot waiters, online tutors and coursework, medical advice, legal advice and training in just about any subject you can imagine. The businesses you run will be involved in vastly different activities including human companionship, mentoring and personal support as well as organisation of community activities and politics as well as interfaces with the technology.

The traditional business model that operated throughout the 20th century is no longer any guarantee of success. The internet and other technologies are in the process of changing everything sociologically, culturally and psychologically as well as technologically. Media usage will never be the same and media companies have no answer to the evolving tribal model of media usage. The 20th century business model was principally about product, price, distribution and sales and marketing but the world has moved on. Those issues are still important but they are not the whole story. The customer may be king but they may not be the ones deciding your future as an organisation. The challenges are more unwieldy and more diverse.

You now need to examine not only what your customers and prospects think but also what those who don’t buy your products and services think and how they might react to what you are doing. This spills over into political implications and also media considerations. By that we mean how your plans are likely to play out in the non-traditional media even more than in the increasingly less relevant and less credible mainstream media. Perhaps some of the best examples of that at the moment are happening in the area of coal seam gas and mining and energy generally; although soon to emerge will be an spectrum of other issues attached to food safety, water sovereignty, privatisation of education and health, the grocery monopoly, the potential health risks attached to wireless telephony and electromagnetic radiation generally, environmental fragility and so on.  Ultimately public trust of government and big corporations comes into this and under this umbrella are a bucketload of nasties.

Understanding the social impact of your actions as well as the attendant political considerations will be of great help in sorting out your business model in the 21st century, not to mention the way media works with both customers and detractors. MindMap is one example of this in action.

In the Name of Efficiency the Value Add is Doomed.


More and more I am conscious of faceless corporations sucking the “humanity” out of the system in the name of efficiency. This is particularly evident when it comes to the notion of value add. You know that special contribution that makes things special or compelling, that burst of energy from nowhere, the X factor as that eponymous TV show insists. But there is no place for value-add in a “corporatocracy”  because there can be no KPI (i.e. a key performance indicator must be quantifiable). "Efficiency" doesn't appear to recognise value-add and in a top down world, you provide what you are asked to provide …. nothing more – nothing less.

Recently I read a story about an efficient local firm that appeared to be buying screws from five different suppliers at varying price points. How could that be efficient asked the writer who had been a part time employee at the local manufacturing business. This is the reason local businesses cannot compete he ventured. But the reason that this writer’s old employer bought screws from five different suppliers may have had more to do with keeping them all in business and the town going than raw cost efficiency. He may have had to face several of the suppliers at the local golf club every Saturday or at the local business man’s club on Tuesday evenings. Whatever the reason, it made sense outside of the brutality of efficiency at any cost. Before 1971, and the rise of BigCorp, local business people would not be actively seeking to put half the township out of a job for the sake of a 5% improvement in efficiency because the shareholders were more than likely his family. These feelings are human and these decisions are made with the community in mind. Where has that humanity gone? Why are we making decisions affecting people's lives purely on the basis of "efficiency" although I find it hard to believe that putting half a town out of work by buying off-shore screws or screwing the local suppliers down to a point where they go out of business, could ever be really that efficient in a community sense. Efficiency is the enemy of humanity if you want my honest opinion folks! Not that I am championing inefficiency .. just a little caring for our communities and our fellow workers maybe. Ah that was before the “great globalism” took root all in the name of greater efficiency. Bollocks I say! We were warned about this by Sir James Goldsmith in “The Trap” back in the early nineties although it had been planned well before then. Global-mindedness – yep, all for it! Globalism ..that's just a screw job for the fat cats. An uncaring system predicated on the creation of credit to deliver wealth is constantly demanding economic growth and that economic growth must come at any cost. In contrast, a system based on savings does not necessarily need growth to be successful. In the face of a seemingly endless array of corporate silos and all of their associated intrigues, we have inefficiency justifying itself in the name of efficiency. Nuts!

When it comes to dealing with the US and China, Australians say “treat them equally”.


The United States has a number of major military and intelligence bases in Australia. Perhaps the best known are Pine Gap near Alice Springs and Northwest Cape which it is argued would be prime targets for any potential US enemy. Since 2013, Australia has also hosted a rotation of up to 2500 US marines through its Darwin military base. More and more it would appear that the US and Australian military are intertwined. For some this may be a good thing but former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, in his new book Dangerous Allies, says it may be a bit too close for comfort. He advocates a much more neutral stance. Former foreign Minister Bob Carr says this may not be that easy to do given the close nature of the Australia-US relationship these days.

A majority of Australians appear to feel a little uneasy about this situation with 46% saying in a major survey we carried out last year that they believe “in recent years Australia has allowed itself to become entangled in the US war machine which could have serious repercussions for our relationship with China” whereas 35%  said they don’t believe that statement. 19% said they don’t know or didn't want to know.[1]

From an earlier survey carried out between September 2012 and March 2013 on a sample of 10,655 respondents nationally[2], six in ten (61%) said they preferred Australia to treat the USA and China equally with the remainder responding as follows:

75% USA 25% China         14%

Don’t Know                        14%

100% toward USA              3%

75% China 25% USA          7%

100% toward China             1%

It would appear that most Australians have mixed feelings on how to deal with these two super powers.




[1] Survey taken by Australian Opinion Research online in July 2013 based on a representative sample of 1048 respondents nationwide.


[2] Respondents were asked “How should Australia deal with America and China and invited to choose from the options detailed above. Sample size 10655, Survey period June 2012 – March 2013.Conducted by Australian Opinion Research.