A day in Australian politics.

OK, so here's a quick snap shot of what is loosely termed 'the opposition' of the Australian Federal Government, has to say about it today. Where to start? Well, why not check in with the designated permanent Opposition in both Houses of Parliament, the Australian Labor Party. Are you there Kim?

(sounds of high pitched wheezing for several seconds) Hello Kim?

BEAZLEY: Good to be with you again Jon and unexpected from my point of view. I would not have believed that we would be sitting here like this three months ago, but now we are.
FAINE: And welcome to Melbourne. Bad economic news for the Government, how high do you think interest rates are going to go?
BEAZLEY: I couldn't predict how high there going to go but I will say this that from my own point of view I would argue against raising interests rates. I don't think that Australian interest rates are particularly low, in fact by comparison internationally there're high, this will hurt business, there's no question about that. It's for the Government, not the opposition to tell us where interest rates are going and they won't say much.

Thanks for that Kim. I believed that the RBA controlled interest rates, but what would I know? Didn't you just say that YOU couldn't predict which way they were going, but expected the government to do so. If YOU were PM, what would your prediction be then?
So far, the ALP vent their spleen about a 0.25% interest rate rise. Who's next? Let's chat to that happy bunch of political misfits, the Australian Democrats. Lynn Allison is our next guest, she's this month's leader of her party. I wonder if she can make it to the end of March without a leadership spill. Oops, sorry, Lynn's busy, but Senators Bartlett and Cherry have some advice for the government. Over to you gents.

Senator Cherry: 'Costello should say sorry for rate rise'.
The Australian Democrats have called on Federal Treasurer, Peter Costello, to apologise to homeowners for today's increase in interest rates. The Reserve Bank today announced that official cash interest rates will immediately increase from 5.25% to 5.50% costing the average homeowner an additional $30 a month.

Uh, I'm....speechless....say sorry? That's priceless. Idiot. Next, Senator Bartlett.

Senator Bartlett: 'Vanstone's Skilled Migration Plan an Admission of Failure & Hypocrisy'
The Immigration Ministers reported push for a massive leap of 20,000 in the number of skilled migrants, is a sign this Government has failed badly in its handling of asylum seekers and in ensuring enough Australians have needed skills and training, according to the Australian Democrats.

"There are enormous skills amongst many of the refugees and family migrants which this Government has gone to such lengths to prevent from settling in Australia," Senator Bartlett, the Democrats Deputy Leader and Immigration spokesperson, said. "Australias immigration system discriminates against on the grounds of age, family status and disability, just to name a few. Skilled families with disabled children are stopped from settling here, as are many refugee families with needed skills. "After spending so long creating an image of being tough on migration, now this Government wants to open a selective floodgate to fix a mess of its own making," Senator Bartlett said. "Skills shortages are at the heart of the wages pressure which contributed to the interest rate rise."

Let's see if I can get this straight. We are short on skilled trades, allegedly to the tune of approximately 20,000 people. This drives house prices UP somehow. People have higher property equity, particularly housing investors, who consequently put more money into the economy. The RBA lifts interest rates to slow down collective spending, and prevent our economy expanding at a faster than expected rate.
The Democrats are complaining that filling the skill gap with migrants will do WHAT exactly? It's not THEIR migrants? You mean the government has the hide to specify what skills they require? And who can enter the country under work immigration visas? The nerve. The chutzpah. How dare they make decisions on the basis that they hold the balance of power in a democratically elected parliament!

Phew, touch and go there for awhile. Sort of lucky then that as of July 1st this year, both Houses of Parliament will be government controlled. Imagine the noise then! Have we missed anyone? That's right, my favourite fairy, the Bob Down Circus Troupe. What's new Bob?

Senator Bob Down: Government Immigration Shemozzle
The Howard Government’s failure to adequately fund public education including TAFE has left Australia short of skilled workers, Greens Senator Bob Brown said today. “The Howard policy of diversion of funding to private education rather than catering for plumbers, electricians and welders has failed,” Senator Brown said.

“The first place Amanda Vanstone should look for skilled workers is amongst the thousands of men and women holding temporary protection visas who desperately want to contribute to this nation. “Australia’s immigration policy is a costly shemozzle,” Senator Brown said.

Your right, Bob. The first place we should look IS amongst all those on temporary protection visas. And when it is discovered that there aren't a whole lot of legally qualified plumbers, electricians and welders amongst them, then what? Suggestion. Send them home. And isn't the funding of TAFE's a STATE responsibilty?

It's OK, Bob's still reeling from the fact that more than ever, Australian's think the national Greens movement has become a group of irrelevant whingers, spinning ever faster up it's own posterior. Once again, bring on July 01, 2005.

Next. Everyone's favourite nutjobs over at the Green Left Weekly. A quick scan of the headlines has the usual drivel plastered across the top. I'll try and interpret for the feeble minded amongst you. Contributor Pip takes up the cudgel against those neo-conservative fascist BASTARDS! Pip Hinman is an activist in the Sydney Stop the War Coalition and is a national co-convenor of Socialist Alliance’s anti-war working group. Just thought I'd let you know.

Various excerpts follow;
1. On February 24, the National Council of Churches in Australia criticised the troop increase, describing it as a “backward step”. “It sends the wrong signal to the Iraqi people and to many others in the Middle East and wider world, and compounds the many errors perpetrated by the so-called ‘coalition of the willing’ in Iraq”, said NCC spokesperson Dr Jon Inkpin.

Telephone and website polls also show majorities oppose the troop increase. A Channel Ten telephone poll of 17,000 people on February 23 showed 71% were opposed, as did a Sydney Morning Herald online poll of 20,000 on February 25. A survey by Sky television found 69% of people believed the government was pushed by the United States to send the extra troops.

(Ed: Why are socialists using the Church to back their arguments? When it's convenient. As for polls, don't get me started...)

2. Currently, most of Australia’s 950 troops in and around Iraq are in non-combat positions: they were protecting diplomatic staff (who have since moved into the heavily fortified Green Zone); or are stationed on naval vessels in the Persian Gulf; or are involved in training Iraqi police and security. To date, only one Australian soldier has been killed in Iraq.

Howard indicated on the ABC’s February 23 Lateline program that he had started to reconsider the question of Australia’s troop numbers after the “overwhelming success” of Iraqi elections. Others have pointed out that his own re-election victory, in which the debate over the Iraq war was sidelined, would also have influenced his decision.

(Ed: Pointless little things like facts always get in the way of a good story. A former RAAF C130 Navigator was killed in aircraft accident, cause of crash to be determined. He was serving with the UK forces as a full-time member)

3. Australians were overwhelmingly opposed to the invasion of the Iraq, but, when the huge February 14-16, 2003, demonstrations failed to stop the invasion, a big section of the anti-war movement retreated.

(Ed: No shit?!)

4. The Greens have been the only parliamentary party to maintain the call for all Australian troops to come home. Greens Senator Bob Brown criticised the extra troop announcement on February 22, and referred to the real intent of the Iraqi vote: “The winning coalition in the January Iraq elections campaigned strongly on a platform of getting occupation forces out of Iraq.”

(Ed: See here for how well the Greens garnered support amongst their supporters. Here's good too)

So, how are we going so far? All the opposition seem angry enough. Lots of vitriol. Heaps of foam specked sputterings. Indignation. (Say sorry? Priceless!) I didn't check the Australian news, because you read it pretty much all day, every day. If I'd checked the ABC, it would mean this post would just be a link to their home page. And Webdiary makes my eyes and brain hurt.

It's just another day in Oz politics.

Cross-posted at Bastards Inc.

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