Wednesday, May 25, 2016


Been a hectic few weeks with a lot of international travel finishing off in Queensland 'hotting out' at Ellis Beach north of Cairns.    Some thoughts on political developments on the UK, the US and Oz with three important votes coming up in the next little while.

In the UK the polls re Brexit have tightened up to the point where it's too close to call.   One thing for sure.   If the vote is for 'Out' then David Cameron is a goner with Boris Johnson likely to take his place.   Certainly an Out vote would see the UK sailing into uncharted waters with the law of unintended consequences likely to be very much in play.   But what really surprised me was Winston Peters' speech to the House of Lords promoting Brexit.   In making that speech he broke a cardinal rule of politics which has it that politicians comment on another countries domestic politics at their peril.   To do so as a guest in their own Parliament shows an arrogance and a contempt for convention beyond belief.   Clearly Peters is happy to disregard the rules in order to generate a headline but one can only imagine his reaction if a UK politician had dared to argue in the New Zealand Parliament at the time of the flag referendum that voters should exert their independence.    But even more amazing was that Peters, in his speech, advocated a return to Imperial Preference as a way forward for the UK post Brexit ... talk about a great leap backwards to the 1950s and let's be very clear, when Peters talks about Imperial Preference he means the old White Commonwealth as if that still exists ... no 'darkie' nations need apply.   Whatever the outcome my sources tell me that Winston Peters is damaged goods in the UK.

I look forward to Lord Egbut's sage comment on Brexit and beyond.

Can I preface my next remarks by stating yet again that if Trump and Clinton is the best that the USA can come up with then that country is in a whole heap of trouble.   But the reality is that it's Trump vs Clinton (almost) unless Bernie Sanders' wet dream of the 'Black Swan' scenario comes into play where Clinton is indicted and forced to step down and he gets the nomination by default ... perhaps that's why he's still hanging in there.  In that respect it was interesting that Clinton has argued that the FBI was conducting a 'review' of matters surrounding her use of a private e-mail server while Secretary of State only to be slapped down by the FBI who said they were conducting an investigation because 'that's what the FBI is mandated to do'.  

Another fascinating (for me) byplay to Clinton's bid for the nomination is the suggestion that she might pick Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) as her running mate. Warren is on the liberal (progressive) wing of the Party in the mold of Sanders with the rationale being that she would help lock in the Sanders vote.   That aside, I think it would be a very big call, even for the Democrats, to go with an all female ticket.    I note too that Senator Harry Reid, their Minority leader in the Senate has moved to poor cold water on the proposal pointing out that Warren's election would see her replacement appointed by the Republican Governor of Massachusetts and likely to be a Republican thereby depriving the Democrats of one vote in the Senate.  

We hear a lot in the media about possible defections from the Republican Camp to the Democrats and 'stay at home' Republican voters but not too much about the reverse although polls have it that upwards of 35% of those who voted for Sanders in the Democratic primaries and caucuses could defect to Trump such is the loathing of establishment politicians from both sides.   In the US I had the opportunity of discussing this with an old friend of mine from the Vietnam conflict who now serves in Congress as a member of the 'Blue Dog' (conservative) Democrat caucus.   His view is that all bets are off because there are new forces in play that politicians like him don't really have a handle on ... that the election will be determined in three/four key States including Ohio and Florida. Whatever ... the latest polls are interesting.  Three days ago (Sunday 22 May) NBC News and the Wall Street Journal had it at as Clinton 46% vs Trump 43% (Clinton plus 3%) while ABC News and the Washington Post had it as Trump 46% vs Clinton 44% (Trump plus 2%).  

A week in politics is a long time ... five plus months an eternity.   Fascinating.

On to Oz.   IMHO Turnbull has made a huge mistake in going for a long drawn out campaign.   Gives Shorten more time in the limelight and, while that could cut both ways, on balance I think Turnbull will regret his decision.   That Labor will win seats is a given.   The real question is whether they will win enough to form a Government.   I think they will fall short.   A major factor is the virtual demise of the Palmer United Party which was a spoiler last time round.  Clive Palmer, who holds the seat of Fairfax, is standing down and facing investigation concerning the siphoning off of money from his now collapsed Queensland Nickel Refinery business.   The Liberals will regain that seat and it is unlikely the PUP will win any Senate seats (last time round they won three but two of their Senators - Glen Lazarus and Jacqui Lambie [remembered for her memorable interview - I'm looking for a man with lotsa dosh, big 'equipment' who knows how to shut his mouth] subsequently went Independent leaving the Party with only a single Senator, Dio Wang [who] from WA).

I will be watching two seats closely.   First, the seat of Batman in Victoria.   This is Labor's safest seat held by the David Feeney, their Shadow Minister for Veterans' Affairs with a 10.3% advantage over the Greens last time round on the two party preferred vote.    Fenney is in real trouble.   Just last week he was 'outed' as failing to declare a $2.3m investment property he owns on the register of Members Pecuniary Interests (ffs ... back in 2014, Barry O'Farrell, Premier of NSW, was forced to resign over his failure to declare a bottle of wine he received as a gift) neither did a declare a $1m+ apartment in Canberra (owned by his wife's Trust) that he lives in when Parliament is sitting while claiming a $271 per night 'travelling allowance' from the taxpayer.   It gets worse.   Feeney has long railed against property investors using 'negative gearing' as a means in minimising ones tax liability.   It is now revealed the Feeney has an extensive property portfolio where all the properties are negatively geared.   Clearly Feeney doesn't 'do' hypocrisy.   The Greens are targeting Batman and are concentrating their efforts in Victoria on that seat and the one other (Melbourne) which they already hold.   Labor is going apoplectic at the thought that the Liberals may Preference the Greens ahead of Labor to help them win the seat ... ffs (again)  quelle suprise.

The second seat I'll be watching is the New England seat won last time by Barnaby Joyce, the Nationals Deputy Leader, over the turncoat Tony Windsor, once National, later Independent whose vote helped prop up the Gillard Labor Government.   Windsor is contesting the seat yet again.    Knocking off Joyce would be a big call and I suspect he won't make it but, if he does, I can't see the L-NP coalition relying on his vote such is the enmity between them.

Two final points.   Both Parties are promising money like it's going out of fashion while ignoring the state of the books.    No-one really believes that Oz will be back in surplus in five years time.   The budget deficit for the coming FY is projected at $37.08b and likely to worsen before it gets better.    Finally, the many 'informed' Australians I spoke to look to the way New Zealand is performing with a mixture of admiration and envy.

The 'left' here will scoff but that's the reality.

Good to be home.   In Wellington on Thursday for the swearing in of my colleague, Judge Kelly.



Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Welcome home, Vet.

"with a mixture of admiration and envy."

It's the difference between having people of character in one country's parliament and brazen opportunists in that of the other.

The sad thing is, Australians expect the handouts even when there is no money to pay for them. They've been living off the back of mining companies for too long.

gravedodger said...

The way it is going how many of those nervous nellies who gave Tony Abbott the arse card will want him to again lead them out of the Wilderness, as there is little else to do that job after Turncoat has delivered them a one term defeat.
Bishop x 2, Brandis, and the other morons who forgot the lessons of history in a remarkable 18 months will have time to wallow in their trough of despair while TA watches it all turn to dust while the unthinkable Shorton Brains wins the unwinnable election.

All the time the deficit debt burden just keeps on burgeoning.

Anonymous said...

Currently in the UK and I have never experienced the depth of feeling, debate and divisiveness of this referendum anytime in my life.

It is utter madness and forty years to late to exit with dignity as almost all of daily life is inextricably linked to Europe and will take a decade to unravel. From the 30's to the 60's British farming was on it's knees and the most inefficient in Europe due to the Commonwealth food chain...why invest when your Empire can supply cheaper.

Now due to the EU quota system British farming is up there with the best, highly competitive and employs millions in it;s food processing factories and on the land...all that will be lost if trade deals are struck with the Old Commonwealth as all they have to offer is agricultural products.

When Austria unilaterally closed it's borders a few months ago the UE cut off it's funding for universities and almost instantly big research project were halted and thousands of people were laid off and others went without pay. The border closure was a knee jerk political decision and was totally unnecessary.

But that charlatan Boris Johnson and his brexiteers are playing on the electorates emotions of an independent Britain with Spitfires over the white cliffs of Dover and Johnny Foreigner safely tucked away on the other side of the moat,....utter drivel.

Even my well balanced friends seem to have this myopic view that Britain will muddle through..... Winston who???

Lord Egbut Nobacon

The Veteran said...

Thank you Egbut. At least Johnson has a right to an expressed view. Peters doesn't. Reading between the lines it would appear that you are beginning to doubt your earlier view that the 'In' vote would win in spades ... interested in your assessment as to what might have been the game changer ... unrestricted immigration from other (less desirable) EU Counties; the EU Court of Justice able to overrule the UK Courts; a certain 'Little England' mentality in the Shires; a latent Enoch 'Powellism' .... What?

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

When it's all over they'll blame it on Frau Merkell. There will be a whole new series of John Cleese skits to celebrate.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Legbut, maybe the political establishment is about to be trumped by a population sick of interference from Brussels and of authorities who seem more interested in appeasing Muslims than administering the law even handedly.

Anonymous said...

Veteran.....there is lot of nonsense talked about immigration and emigration just as people confuse refugees and illegal economic migrants. The freedom to move around Europe is so well established now it will make little difference to the figures, My UK dentist is Romanian and my favourite barmaid is a cheeky little Latvian girl. My tree surgeon in France is English and my doctor is Mauritian.

If a person has skills they use them at the best price and soon as they have made their money they are all off home, even the lowest skilled person will find work in the Asparagus or strawberry fields but are terribly used. It is established that most legal East Europeans do eventually go home, even the poles, This has been happening for thirty years it's not new.

On the the other hand illegals from the African continent are working on the black, (pun intended) no National insurance no income tax and when they are eventualy caught they usually are deported.

At the moment they mostly are safely on the other side of the channel where the UK border is. On Brexit if the French get funny border controls could move to Dover which is ill equipped to deal with the problem. 50,000 cars, trucks and buses use the ports everyday and without disrupting economic activity and cause 10 mile tail backs you cannot secure the border. A Eurotunnel train runs every 10 minutes for cars and another every 10 minutes for trucks 24/7 365days. On top of that you have eight RORO ferries plying the waters. At the moment it seems to work well but if the Brits lose Calais then the shit will hit the whirling blades.

As for Peters he is perfectly entitled to express his views in the House of Lords, Obama did and Cameron has commented on Drumpf as has the New London mayor.

Lord Egbut

The Veteran said...

Egbut ... thanks for that. We will know the result in less than than a month but I agree the implications of Brexit are many and not overly understood. Clearly We will have to disagree on Peters. His ill-judged speech broke all the diplomatic norms and I pose the question yet again ... does anything think that Peters would have not gone apoplectic if say Corbyn in a speech to our Parliament had urged voters to back changing the flag in our referendum.

Anonymous said...

Never thought I'd say this, but thank you Egbut for your informed comments.

Karma, though, is a bit rough. Post war rationing of goods in the Commonwealth continued for years to help Britain, then the EU turned up and we were treated like the proverbial red-haired bastard step child. We even treated the best cash on the barrel customer, the Soviet bloc, like a leper - because of western solidarity. I feel for the UK food industry if they leave Europe, but like us, they will adapt and survive.


Alan Hancox said...

Veteran, you said Trump would not be the nominee, well he is, he has reached the delegate count, is now at 1237. There is a huge movement toward Trump, the 'blue dog' democrats are now supporting him, he will win in an avalanche in November and the world will be a better place for it despite what the naysayers opine.

The Veteran said...

Alan ... I said I hoped Trump wouldn't be the nominee and same re Clinton. America deserves better.
But clearly Trump is and Clinton could/should be. My 'Blue Dog' Congressman friend had it about right when he said that there was something happening out there in voter land that was leaving him as a seasoned pro gasping in the wake.

Trump could well be President ... for me a scary thought.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Nowhere near as scary or potentially disastrous as four years of Clinton.

paul scott said...

Agree with Adolf. ABC. Take the plunge USA get rid of the rotten system. Mind you, I wouldn't want to book into a Trump hotel this November. A lot of property to protect. Need the entire military complex.

paul scott said...

I meant to say that Veteran, has an impressive knowledge of Oz politic. I was in Australia when that sod Windsor and his publicity shy mate Oakeshit, screwed the chances of a Nat Liberal Government in 2011. I heard the news from a little pub in an inland place called Clermiston.
Bob Katter held his ground. I visited his town also Charters towers.