Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Travel entitlements, cheating and gay marriage

Today's post provides an update on some of the matters I have covered earlier.

The dispute over Federal Parliamentary  travel entitlements (Monday Forum - Bronwyn Bishop and Parliamentary Entitlements) drags on. Now at local level it has embroiled Member For New England and Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce - Barnaby's $75,000 spend on charter flights. Mr Joyce needs this like a hole in the head when he is facing conflict over mining on the Liverpool Plains and the prospective return of former member Tony Windsor as challenger.

The problem of cheating at Australian school or university has been around for a while. I think I first wrote on it back in 2007. Now it's surfaced again in this piece by Alexandra Smith, The lengths university students will go to cheat. I had a wry grin at the the way that those involved in assisting students to cheat were then dobbing the students in for non-payment, I would have thought that if you were going to pay someone to assist you to cheat, you really should pay them!

Looking back at the 2007 posts (Banner Headline: ICAC exposes corruption risks in HCS take-home assessments and then ICAC and the NSW HSC - the Legalisation of Australian Life). one of my concerns lay in the way that I thought that the NSW Independent Commission was going outside its mandate. Then I wrote:
Am I wrong in finding it strange that the State's peak anti-corruption body should carry as the lead story in its house paper a matter that involves no official corruption at all - there is no suggestion that there were bribes to officials - and is is any event a matter first for the education system to correct?
In talking to people at the time, I found to my surprise that I was very much in a minority in that the first reaction of many when I talked about the issue was simply so-what. They could not see a problem. Now as it happened, there was a problem in ICAC attitudes that led to the Margaret Cunneen case where the High Court ruled that ICAC had exceeded its powers, leading to a review of the body. The subsequent NSW Government decision on the review reinstated some of those powers, but also ring-fenced ICAC to more serious cases.

In July, in I support gay marriage: let's push I came off the fence on this issue. My sympathies were pretty clear earlier, but I had wanted a cautious approach to allow for time to change. Then, after the Ireland vote and Australian reactions, I thought that it was time to change my position. I underestimated the continuing strength of the opposition. That's actually easy to do since most of the people I mix with are in favour. I'm normally very conscious of this type of bias. 

 I don't fully understand Mr Abbott's tactics on this matter. It's created another distraction. However, my feeling is that in the end he just felt that he had no choice but to bring the matter forward given the dynamics involved inside and outside the Party. For those outside Australia, this report will give you a feel for the complexities involved.  

I had intended to also comment today on the Australian Government's emission reduction targets plus provide s further update on economic dynamics, but I fear that I am out of time.   


8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I do hope that your capitalising 'He', meaning Abbott is either just a typo or a Freudian slip. Despite his own possible ideas to the contrary, he is not a member of the Trinity. I doubt they'd have him, even if he (note lower case)came gift wrapped.

Jim Belshaw said...

Correction made!

Winton Bates said...

Jim, we had a discussion some months ago about the debating tactics used by Tony Abott and others trained by the Jesuits. Mr Abbott has just provided us with a good example.
Our national leader made a big play yesterday that he was keeping faith with the electorate in his position opposing a free vote on gay marriage. However, we know from his past behaviour that keeping faith with the electorate is a relatively minor consideration for Mr Abbott. It is convenient for him to pretend to be concerned about keeping faith with the electorate on this matter, so he pretends that he views this to be of great moral significance.
As far as people like Tony Abbott are concerned, politics is about debating tactics. Any argument will do as long as it helps you to stay in power, so that you can further the ultimate objective.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Winton, and also I don't see how the deferral to after the next election constitutes your "bringing the matter forward"?

Other updates of past posts:

On the 'nanny state': now 60 submissions including none by JB esq. - of the half dozen or so not concerning the burning issue of bike helmets I recommend a read of #47 and #49 as being quite informative. Aside: maybe Mr Abbott could have a second referendum question on bloody bike helmets, gay or otherwise?

On your plump women post: this link is interesting, I thought - https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonkblog/wp/2015/08/11/the-absurdity-of-womens-clothing-sizes-in-one-chart/?tid=trending_strip_5

Have a nice day (and do read at least #47)

kvd

Jim Belshaw said...

Good morning, Winton, kvd. I'm still not sure about the PM's strategy, but your conclusion may be right. I suspect in simplest terms that Mr Abbott was under pressure, that bringing the matter forward just relates to the Coalition and specifically those within the Coalition on the conservative side. From their viewpoint, the outcome may be the best way of preventing change. However, as Mr Turnbull has observed, the outcome guarantees that the issue will be a central political question over the next two years. Who would have thought it?

A key problem here is that we are dealing with a question of conflicting values.

kvd, I laughed at the Washington Post piece, but it is a very interesting piece of social observation.

Ah, that submission! Perhaps at the weekend. I know that I am running out of time. Glad that you are monitoring for me. Read both submissions you pointed me to and especially 47. I found Philip Rabl's arguments a little complex. I know where he is coming from, but he ignores (among other things) the question of externalities.

Would be interested in Winton's reaction to it - http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Economics/Personal_choice/Submissions

Winton Bates said...

Jim
I should be more interested in the nanny state inquiry than I am. Objecting to nannies is a bit futile because it tends to make them more determined to enforce the rules.

I liked kvd's comment about the possibility of a bicycle helmet referendum.

marcellous said...

On the gay marriage thing, I think TA's approach is just to defer by any tactic and in that way oppose. The suggestion of a plebiscite or (more improbable but attractive as a blocking strategy) a referendum is inconsistent with the approach Abbott took when, in the immediate wake of the Irish decision, he let it be known that the decision needed to be owned by the parliament (which was why a Labor-sponsored resolution was unacceptable).

Now we read the plebiscite idea was Julie Bishop's statespersonlike face-saving-for-everybody intervention at the end of the (joint-) party room meeting. Trimming more than statespersonlike, in my opinion, and quite possibly a put-up job. It's not as if the amendment to the Marriage Act which has statutorily entrenched the traditional common-law (and in that sense changeable over time) definition of marriage and the compulsory insertion of wording proclaiming that was itself endorsed by any referendum or plebiscite.

But yes, of course now we need to have a referendum or plebiscite to rescind compulsory bike helmets - and if either were to fail, then there could be no question of parliament ever considering the issue. (Actually that's probably a states issue really, but hey, who cares about the details?)

But back to gay marriage, you have to ask, apart from preventing/postponing it (which I expect is Abbott's genuine predisposition - he's not simply pandering to his conservative support base) is the present proposal (not that there strictly is one) really good politics for the Liberal Party? You have to wonder.

Jim Belshaw said...

Sorry for the delay in responding, marcellous. I think that you are right: the plebiscite idea reflected internal party divisions. I may be wrong, but I think that the decisions, if we can call them that, not only sucked the immediate political oxygen, but created an enduring issue. I accept that the Coalition has an internal problem, but the more I think about it, the more it strikes me as yet another process failure on Mr Abbott's part. It's really an issue that should have gone to Cabinet first.