Jerusalem embassy: how a great FTA deal became an albatross

Since before the Wentworth by-election the Morrison government has been insisting it can put Australia’s embassy in Israel wherever it wants. But just as obviously, other countries can react to any decision to relocate the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in any way they want. It’s this second ‘obviously’ that seems to have escaped the architects of this reckless announcement. 

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Australia in the firing line as America goes to the polls

Australians usually take little notice of the US midterm elections, especially since they coincide with the Melbourne Cup celebrations. But this time, while racegoers and enthusiasts recover from the race that stops Australia, nothing will stop President Donald Trump if his party retains control of both houses of Congress. America’s most protectionist President of the post-war era will confidently pursue economic and trade policies that can only inflict further long-term damage on the global economy, including ours.

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Venezuela, here we come!

On 22 November 2017, a nation’s government legislated price controls in response to voter dissatisfaction with the rising cost of essential items. On 23 October 2018, the government of another nation announced it would require electricity suppliers to reduce their prices by the end of the year in response to voter dissatisfaction with the rising cost of electricity. The first country was Venezuela; the second was Australia. 

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When Left and Right ensure the centre cannot hold

Advertising a horse race on the Opera House sails, described by Scott Morrison as Sydney's "biggest billboard". What's next? The Emirates Harbour Bridge? Such a pity the traditional owners of Uluru didn't think of it first: they could have arranged lasers beaming Hard Rock Hotels and Casinos at every evening's sunset. If it's good for the economy it's good for the people, according to the Prime Minister and Premier Berejiklian, supported by the Labor opposition.

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Five ways to increase trust in Canberra

During last week, when I lamented the Muppet Show in Canberra, a tweeting critic challenged me to show some gumption and propose a series of reforms to revive Canberra’s standing. “In a tweet?” I queried. My twitter critic persisted: “I have always rated brevity very highly.” Bearing in mind that the most recent Edelman trust index shows a collapse of public trust in Australia’s government, I felt I should give a one-tweet reform agenda a crack.

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Abandoning emission cuts is bad for business

By abandoning any effort to achieve Australia's carbon emissions reduction target agreed at the Paris climate change convention, the Morrison government has sought short-term political gain at the long-term expense of the planet, the nation and business. While this will be cause for celebration among the Turnbull-slayers and a victory for the Abbott-inspired insurgency that demanded as sharp as possible a contest with Labor on energy policy, it has rapidly escalated sovereign risk for business.

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Forget about legislating emission cuts

If proof of the incapacity of the Coalition to deal with climate change was ever needed, it was provided absolutely in the shambles of toppling Malcolm Turnbull from the prime ministership. For the conservative wing of the Liberal Party this was a glorious victory. For investors seeking a predictable policy framework and for the majority of Australians who expect their parliament to guide Australia to a low-carbon future it is a bitter disappointment. 

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Why I Quit Sky News

Yesterday I quit Sky News after five years as a commentator. Giving airtime to neo-Nazi, Blair Cottrell, might be passed off as defending the right to free speech, but former chief minister of the Northern Territory, Adam Giles, was effusive in his praise, wrapping up the interview with: “Good luck. I hope it all goes well for you.” 

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Targeting Bill Shorten has rebounded on Malcolm Turnbull

In the aftermath of Saturday's byelection results Liberal ministers are taking comfort that they lost the Ryan byelection in 2001, suffering a 10 per cent swing, only to win the federal election resoundingly eight months later. It's true that one byelection result – or even five – won't predetermine the outcome of a general election, but it's not true that there's nothing to learn from Super Saturday.

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Taking the partisanship out of power

Policy, like politics, is the art of the possible. And it’s possible to get bipartisan agreement on a policy to achieve the elusive trilogy of electricity affordability, reliability and sustainability. But it will require an end to the hyper-partisanship that has destroyed previous, worthy efforts, such as the previous government’s emissions trading scheme. The only workable policy surviving a decade of climate wars is the National Energy Guarantee (NEG). 

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End the bipartisan slagging consensus in Canberra

Divisive public discourse and the dumbing down of policy debates into abusive slogans are dragging our nation backwards. They are not unique to Australia. It’s as if we are methodically working our way through the Donald Trump’s playbook. Every week the President of the United States and leader of the free world tweets hatred: “Shady James Comey”, “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer”, and his old favourite, “Crooked Hillary Clinton.” Really, is this truly making America great again? 

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Not every business failure is the banks' fault

Okay, now it’s getting ridiculous. The Banking Royal Commission has exposed some appalling behaviour by the banks, but not every poor decision of a customer is the bank’s fault. If an elderly parent goes guarantor for a loan there can be consequences if the loan is not repaid. That’s what going guarantor entails. If a couple on a modest income borrows a million dollars to buy properties and can’t service the loan, what is the bank supposed to do – say it’s alright, keep the money?

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Why the live sheep trade is at death's door

Most Australians have been appalled by the cruelty shown to sheep on not one but five voyages from Fremantle to the Middle East. Yet these were not isolated incidents. Countless sheep have perished over several decades, but only occasionally has incriminating footage emerged. To his credit, new agriculture minister, David Littleproud, has ordered a review into the standards applying to such shipments. But how independent is the minister’s review?

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Labor stuck in middle of two maddies: the Greens and the Coalition

The world has gone mad. Or at least Australia’s centre-right political parties and the Greens have gone mad. In scrambling to the right and the left in an effort to resolve their leadership tensions, the non-Labor parties are vacating the centre, where elections are won. Bill Shorten can position Labor as the party of the centre by demonstrating fiscal discipline, reassuring the electorate that Labor can manage the nation’s books. On this the election result will swing.

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