24 June 2010

Backroom machinations lead to change of PM

As The New York Times put it succinctly

Party officials decided to replace Prime Minister Kevin Rudd with his deputy, Julia Gillard, who becomes the nation’s first female prime minister.

This came as a surprise. The Rudd government has clearly been in trouble with public opinion lately but I'd have thought (and hoped) that he and his inner circle would have been put on notice to improve. What has happened is a cabinet reshuffle with Mr Rudd ruthlessly dispatched (to where isn't quite clear) by a combination of Labor Party and union machinations with Julia Gillard, Wayne Swan etc moving up a notch or two.

I watched events unfold on TV, alternating between the ABC and Sky. The ABC had more people on the ground and in front of the camera (Kerry O'Brien a noteworthy exception); Sky used more voiceovers but, perhaps because it's used to covering events like this, IMO it gave the public broadcaster a good run for its money.

Both networks seemed to cover the day's major events, including Kevin Rudd's farewell speech.
His family stood by his side as he worked his way slowly, and with several lengthy pauses, through his notes. It left a bitter taste in my mouth: I tweeted suggesting that someone should pull the plug on him, not to stop him speaking but as an act of kindness if not mercy. While his words quite properly referred to what he considered his achievements, the images on the screen often reminded me of those of someone found guilty at a show trial in a dictatorship such as Stalin's Russia.

Has the combination of party factional and union ruthlessness and the media's hunger for good images brought us to this?

14 June 2010

Honours recipients support republic

Today is a public holiday in South Australia, ostensibly for the Queen's birthday.

As far as I can tell nobody who's entitled to the day off has refused the offer because of their republican principles. I expect that people (an increasing number) who rely on casual work may have opted to spend a day or part thereof at the coalface (or waiting on the bistro table) to help make ends meet.

Nor, to the best of my knowledge and belief, has anyone who was awarded an honour in the Queen's Birthday honours list which was published today rejected their award. But this hasn't stopped several of them from criticising our current constitutional arrangements .

It's easy to suggest other names who could (perhaps should) be included in the Honours list. Yet what strikes me, without naming recipients' names, is that it's easier to receive an award if you are either a prominent business person or a longserving officeholder in a (usually non profit) community based organisation who has acquiesced in the changes (supported by all major parties) which have made it easier for private sector (and often offshore) organisations to come in and take over government funded for services eg employment placement.

Perhaps it's time to create a Wiki Honours list where people can nominate prospective recipients without having to go through the labyrithine processes required to get one's name in the paper on Australia Day or the Queen's Birthday

Honours recipients support republic | Adelaide Now

04 June 2010

Victoria to get ICAC as Premier backflips: will SA follow suit?

I've been on a brief visit to Melbourne. Yesterday morning I was pleasantly surprised to see the story about Premier Brumby's "backflip" on the front page of The Age

Just six months out from the state poll, the Premier has dumped his staunch opposition to a commission and will install an anti-corruption system with sweeping powers to investigate police, members of parliament, public servants and judges.

But the new Victorian Integrity and Anti-Corruption Commission will hold most of its hearings in private and the new integrity system will curtail the powers of the Ombudsman.

Mr Brumby has long argued independent corruption commissions were a ''lawyers' picnic'' but yesterday said an integrity review by former senior public servant Elizabeth Proust calling for a commission had changed his mind.

The obvious question for South Australia is: will the Premier follow suit? As the last Rann man standing so it's hard to see him holding out for much longer.