Saturday, November 03, 2012

Sat 3rd Nov Todays News

Happy birthday and many happy returns Betty Nguyen,Petra BorĂ©n Supparo and Allan Ng. Born on the same day across the years. Remember, birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.


2GB shows you may have missed

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER032012(7:28pm)


Krogers ram Carr

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER032012(1:40pm)

Senator Helen Kroger is furious with Foreign Minister Bob Carr for mocking her two sons simply to dodge scrutiny over government funding of an organisation linked to terroris.
Is it because the childless Carr is inexperienced in this area that he’d stoop so low?
We all know that politics is a game that is often played with a very hard ball, but none of us expect our political opponents to turn on our families and loved ones to score a political point…
For the first time in my Senate career, family members have been targeted in a blatant attempt to divert attention away from Government failures.

During Question Time, Senator Eric Abetz, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, questioned the Foreign Minister, Senator Bob Carr, in relation to alleged links between an AusAID funded organisation and a terrorist group. Bob Carr, always quick to jump to the Prime Minister’s defence in the face of mistakenly-labelled misogyny, launched an assault on my two sons.

It has been widely reported that Shurat HaDin, the Israeli Law Center, is concerned that a not-for-profit group, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), has links to proscribed terror organisation, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

As of May 2012, the UAWC had received $4.7 million from AusAID. Many of us in Canberra, from both sides of Parliament, were concerned by Shurat HaDin’s allegations. This is even more serious as, of course, AusAID is a government agency that is funded by Australian taxpayers....
The Government has confirmed that Bashir al Kheri, a PFLP leader who has served 15 years for a bombing in West Jerusalem, was Chairman of the UAWC Board between 2008 and 2009....

The Coalition Senate team has extensively questioned the Government over the potential misuse of taxpayers’ money to fund a terrorist-affiliated group…

Instead of providing relevant and objective information to support his answer, the Foreign Minister instead chose to insinuate that my sons, who had volunteered their summer holidays to intern at Shurat HaDin, were somehow implicated in this matter…

I hand-delivered a letter to the Prime Minister to ensure she was aware of the reprehensible comments that Senator Carr made. I expressed my disgust at Senator Carr using my children as a shield to avoid scrutiny of his portfolio. It sets a dangerous precedent when the Prime Minister allows the institution of motherhood to be abused.
Michael Kroger, father of the two young men, both students, was even more scathing of “that coward” and “that grub” Carr:


Bolt Report tomorrow. Could be a crowded studio

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER032012(12:47pm)

Questions for Gillard on her union scandal, Slipper’s new perk, Labor’s former president quits the party and more. With Michael Kroger, Bruce Hawker and the Opposition Leader in the Senate, Eric Abetz.
We’ve also asked Bill Shorten and other Labor Ministers to join us. Trade Minister Craig Emerson has been given several invitations since he warned he might have to ”storm the studio” to get on. Julia Gillard has a standing invitation. So we could have a very crowded studio for the weekend’s most widely viewed political talk show on television.
Feel free to remind Emerson the door to our studio is open.
On Channel 10 at 10am and 4.30pm. 


Boats, boats

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER032012(12:39pm)

 Boat people policy
More than 2200 boat people arrived last month. The Government’s boat people policies have collapsed.
This month is starting off little better. Last night


Minister threatens to sue man propping up government

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER032012(11:05am)

What Oakeshott said was clumsily expressed and falsely suggested gross impropriety, but I’m very much against using courts in ways that stifle frank debate. More pressing politically, though, is how this affects Oakeshott’s support for Labor: 
[Independent MP Rob] Oakeshott has been threatened legally by the Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson, after comments Mr Oakeshott made to The Sydney Morning Herald last week after it was revealed the mining tax would make next to no revenue in its first three months.
Mr Oakeshott, whose support is vital to keeping Labor in power and Mr Ferguson in his job, has reacted angrily to the legal letter, which he received on Thursday, describing it as ‘’stupid’’… Mr Oakeshott is furious at Mr Ferguson’s legal action, given all he has endured for putting Labor in power and keeping it there…
Mr Ferguson is demanding from Mr Oakeshott a private written apology and is reserving his right to go further ‘’to protect his rights and to seek compensation for the damage which he has suffered, including the commencement of defamation proceedings in the Supreme Court of NSW’’.
Mr Oakeshott’s position as a federal MP does not cover him legally and he would be personally liable for all expenses and any damages that may be awarded…
Mr Oakeshott supports taking the MRRT back to Parliament after reports it would make no revenue in its first three months… [D]etractors blamed generous deductions the miners can claim against their MRRT liability. Mr Oakeshott questioned the deductions and Mr Ferguson’s role during negotiations…
The legal threat came as broader tensions emerged between the government and the two key independents, Mr Oakeshott and Tony Windsor… [who on Thursday] told the government it risked losing their vote on savings measures in the midyear budget update, as well as broader polices including the newly revised Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
Ferguson has now dropped his threat. I suspect Gillard and John McTernan went nuclear.  Gillard today said Ferguson no longer thought suing Oakeshott was appropriate:
I had the opportunity to speak to Minister Ferguson this morning.
One day Ferguson will blow the whistle on this mob. I just wished he’d speak out more. But for now it seems that mates of the Government are cut slack.


Let’s see Canberra’s power bills by 2020. And no cheating

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER032012(8:27am)

True, Canberra is not a manufacturing heartland, crucially dependent on cheap power. But I nevertheless look forward to Canberra being made to suffer the full consequences of this clause of Labor’s power sharing deal with the ACT Greens, and urge it not to cheat by importing sinful gas or coal-fired power for when the sun doesn’t shine and wind doesn’t blow: 
Of course, it’s easier for Canberra than other states to go renewable when it can grab a bit of hydro power from the dams the Greens now oppose.
(Thanks to reader Peter.)


Swan and the heart of Oakes

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER032012(7:44am)

Laurie Oakes’ strange admiration for Treasurer Wayne Swan has survived so much.
Take last week, when Swan confessed he’d run out of money in a mining boom, announced he needed another $10.5 billion, caused inflation to jump with his carbon tax, claimed extra taxes were “savings”, had business blast his attempt to trick them over his promised cut in company tax and - oops - found he’d invented a mining tax that didn’t raise a dime, Oakes summed up Swan’s litany of disaster with just two references in his column to the fumbling Treasurer:
The measures are part of Treasurer Wayne Swan’s effort to bring the Budget back to surplus this financial year....  Swan - to his credit - has at least started the process of curtailing middle-class welfare in a number of areas.
Yes, praise.
This week was little better for Swan. He falsely denied miners could not claim huge credits that would slash future revenue from his mining tax, and dropped a long-standing promise to return the Budget to surplus this year.
Did the scales finally fall from Oakes’ eyes? Not at all. The start of Oakes’ column this week:
Relevance to Australia of Swan happening to be in the US on election day?
Relevance to Australia of Swan spending too much, breaking promises and bungling taxes?
True, Oakes cannot ignore something so fundamental as the breaking of a promise made some 150 times to finally return a Budget that’s in surplus. But it’s presented deep in the column, after several paragraphs on Swan’s far-sightedness, not as the consequence of the Government recklessly blowing $100 billion a year in extra spending than it did just five years ago, but as the responsible reaction of a dutiful Government to forces beyond its control:
Julia Gillard and Swan have been forced by developments in Europe and concerns about the US economy to start hedging on their promise to deliver a Budget surplus this financial year.
Swan couldn’t have written it better himself.
But you are right. What is an Oakes column without a ritual savaging of Tony Abbott, who is just the Opposition Leader and not at all to blame for the financial chaos presided over by Oakes’ mate.  And Oakes delivers:
Suddenly, shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey is everywhere - even at Abbott’s side during media events, to bolster the Coalition’s economic credibility.

Part of the reason is probably explained by some poll findings that came into my hands yesterday - an extract from a report prepared within the last week by UMR Research, the company that does polling for Labor.

People in the survey were asked: “Do you have confidence in Tony Abbott’s ability to handle Australia’s economy?”

In a result that will worry the Liberals if it is reflected in their own polling, 55 per cent said “No”, 32 per cent said “Yes” and 13 per cent were unsure.
Wow. What a scoop. Negative Labor polling on Abbott.
It takes years of experience to wangle such damaging stuff out of Labor.
(Thanks to reader Peter.) 


Why didn’t Gillard warn her client of the scam?

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER032012(7:38am)

 The AWU scandal
Why didn’t Julia Gillard tell police - or at least her union client - about the slush fund she’d helped to set up and what her boyfriend then did with it?
Documents examined by The Weekend Australian show that at the time of the sale in February 1996 the leadership of the AWU, Bill Ludwig and Ian Cambridge, still had no inkling that a slush fund bearing the union’s name had ever been established.
The AWU heavyweights could not take legal action to stop the sale because they lacked any knowledge of either the slush fund or of the terrace house that had been purchased by the slush fund.
The AWU was the client of Ms Gillard and of her employer, Slater & Gordon. However, the slush fund that bore the name of the union was never disclosed to the union heads by either the solicitor or her firm.
This is despite Ms Gillard having been closely questioned six months earlier - in September 1995 - by Slater & Gordon head Peter Gordon about the slush fund, the related fraud claims involving her then boyfriend, AWU official Bruce Wilson, and the terrace house in Fitzroy. The firm’s serious concerns after its own internal probe led to the AWU, Mr Wilson and fellow official Ralph Blewitt being abruptly dropped as clients of Slater & Gordon, and Ms Gillard leaving her job in September 1995.
Something stinks.
(Thanks to readers Peter, AP and others.)


It’s Obama or America

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER032012(6:33am)

An Obama second term means that the movement toward European-style social democracy continues, in part by legislation, in part by executive decree. The American experiment — the more individualistic, energetic, innovative, risk-taking model of democratic governance — continues to recede, yielding to the supervised life of the entitlement state.
If Obama loses, however, his presidency becomes a historical parenthesis, a passing interlude of overreaching hyper-liberalism, rejected by a center-right country that is 80 percent nonliberal.
Should they summon the skill and dexterity, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan could guide the country to the restoration of a more austere and modest government with more restrained entitlements and a more equitable and efficient tax code…
Every four years we are told that the coming election is the most important of one’s life. This time it might actually be true. At stake is the relation between citizen and state, the very nature of the American social contract.
It seems many to leave are white professionals who really did believe that stuff about uniting America, not dividing. But the black vote is sticking like glue, like it was about race - or dependency.


Labor’s dud minng tax leaves it owing, not owed

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER032012(6:13am)

The Gillard Government’s new mining tax didn’t raise a dollar in its first three months. Even worse, the miners are nevertheless racking up credits that will slash any future taxes they must pay:
Under the federal government’s MRRT arrangements, all royalties on iron ore and coal will be rebated by the commonwealth as a credit against current or future mining tax liabilities....
[But] crediting royalties against MRRT payments creates the extraordinary situation whereby when no tax is paid the commonwealth has a liability on its books if miners ever do start paying the tax.
In fact, it’s a growing liability because the royalties credits keep accumulating while the miners don’t pay the MRRT and, on top of that, unclaimed credits attract 10 per cent compound interest....
If all of the above were not enough, it seems that Swan doesn’t even understand the mining tax arrangements he is responsible for. Asked in question time on Wednesday about the heads of agreement with the big three miners that stipulated unused credit for royalties could be carried forward, the Treasurer replied: “The fact is that unused royalties are not transferable, nor are they creditable.” Swan was only half right. It’s true that they can’t be transferred between mining projects, but they most certainly are creditable against future MRRT payments. You would have thought the Treasurer would have known that.
Indeed, this is a tax that could theoretically end up with the Government owing miners billions, and not the other way around. And the Government which designed it is now presiding over a black hole in its Budget....
Incompetents and desperadoes.


Climate Commission caught hyping Superstorm Sandy

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER032012(5:32am)

AUSTRALIA’S Climate Commission has misrepresented data from the leading US meteorological bureau to highlight a link between climate change and the severity of Superstorm Sandy which this week crippled New York.
In a statement on the disaster that hit North America on Monday, the federal government-sponsored Climate Commission said “all the evidence suggests that climate change exacerbated the severity of Hurricane Sandy”.
Matthew England, chairman of the commission’s Science Advisory Panel, said ... increased humidity, higher sea levels and warmer sea surface temperatures were all contributing to the severity of storms.
The commission quoted data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that “the temperature of the surface waters from which Sandy drew energy were three to five degrees warmer than average”.
However, senior NOAA climate scientist Martin Hoerling ... said the unusually warm waters were in areas where the background temperature was relatively cool. “So adding a few degrees Fahrenheit at that cool water temperature doesn’t matter too much for the intensity of a hurricane,” Dr Hoerling said…
Late yesterday, Professor England conceded the sea-surface temperature highlighted in the Climate Commission document was not significant....
Dr Hoerling said ... a storm surge at New York in 1821 was greater than that of Sandy. However, like the Climate Commission, he said rising sea levels could exacerbate the damage from big storms.
He said the record showed a rise in the total sea level of about 30cm over the past 150 years in New York.
But of course measurable man-made warming is argued to have occurred for less than half that period, and even militantly warmist scientists concede natural warming accounts for some of the rise even over the past three decades. So the contribution of man-made warming to that 30 centimetres would, even under global warming theory, be closer to 10cm - and quite probably less than.
If we can’t trust the Climate Commission to tell us the plain facts, why do we fund it? A million green groups will spread warmist hype for free.
So does Professor England get dragged to the re-education camp that Alan Jones was ordered to attend? Or is that kind of humiliation reserved only for sceptics?
A much straighter take from Professor Roger Pielke Jr, not a sceptic but luke-warmist professor of environmental studies at the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado at Boulder: 
One of the more reasonable discussion points to emerge from efforts to link Hurricane Sandy to the need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions focuses on the role that future sea level rise will have on making storm impacts worse. Logically, it would seem that if we can “halt the rise of the seas” then this would reduce future impacts from extreme events like Sandy.
The science of sea level rise, however, tells us that our ability to halt he rise of the seas is extremely limited, even under an (unrealistically) aggressive scenario of emissions reduction. Several years ago, in a GRL paper titled “How much climate change can be avoided by mitigation?” Warren Washington and colleagues asked how much impact aggressive mitigation would have on the climate system. Specifically, they looked at a set of climate model runs assuming stabilization of carbon dioxide at 450 ppm.
Here is what they concluded for sea level rise: 
[A]bout 8 cm of the sea level rise that would otherwise occur without mitigation would be averted. However, by the end of the century the sea level rise continues to increase and does not stabilize in both scenarios due to climate change commitment involving the thermal inertia of the oceans ...
Eight cm is about three inches. Three inches. Then sea level rise continues for centuries.
Though it seems logical to call for emissions reductions as a way to arrest sea level rise to reduce the impacts of hurricanes, recent research suggests that our ability to halt the rise of the seas is extremely limited. With respect to hurricanes, we have little option but to adapt, and improved adaptation makes good sense.
Efforts to use future hurricane damages to justify emissions reductions just don’t make much sense.
Why couldn’t our Climate Commission admit as much?
And Sandy, far from being a sign of a dangerously changed climate, is an exception in a milder one:
To put things into even starker perspective, consider that from August 1954 through August 1955, the East Coast saw three different storms make landfall—Carol, Hazel and Diane—that in 2012 each would have caused about twice as much damage as Sandy.
While it’s hardly mentioned in the media, the U.S. is currently in an extended and intense hurricane “drought.” The last Category 3 or stronger storm to make landfall was Wilma in 2005. The more than seven years since then is the longest such span in over a century.
Why couldn’t the Climate Commission mention that, either?
Another thing the Climate Commission should note: tropical cyclones in our own region have not increased in intensity or number, contrary to warmist predictions. The Bureau of Meteorology has not updated this chart for a while, but the pattern since shows no change: 
And here are some of the far stronger landfall hurricanes which have hit the coast that’s just seen off the storm called Sandy: 


Mundine quits Labor

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER032012(5:19am)

Former Labor national president Warren Mundine has two changes of heart, only one involving an operation: 
WHEN Warren Mundine’s Labor Party membership renewal forms arrived this August, the former national president ignored the email.
“There was a time when I thought I’d go to the grave with my ALP membership in my pocket. I nearly did. But I’m over bullshit. I saw that we could end the disparity between indigenous and non-indigenous Australia within a generation. And I believed (government) policies were never going to do it.
“It became more about the politics than actually achieving anything. And I began to start losing faith."…
Mr Mundine, who heads Pilbara mining baron Andrew Forrest’s indigenous charity Generation One, has been a union member since the age of 17, and was always a strong supporter of what he called “Hawke-Keating Labor, where it was about economic development, and progress, and working with unions to get good outcomes for everyone”.
He said a major source of frustration was the fact that the Liberal Party had managed to get two Aboriginal representatives elected at the federal level - one in the House, and one in the Senate - while the ALP, in a history spanning more than 100 years, had failed to put a single Aboriginal representative into the federal parliament, or indeed, into a winnable seat…
“Who ever thought Aborigines would be elected into the Northern Territory parliament under a conservative banner? But that’s what happened earlier this year: they got four Aborigines in the parliament, all of them conservative.”
Mr Mundine put his hand up to become Labor’s first federal indigenous parliamentarian when Mark Arbib quit the Senate in March. The ALP put Bob Carr into the seat. Asked if he could now see himself voting for the Liberal Party, Mr Mundine said: “Of course I can. Absolutely.”
Mundine has been a valued panelist on my show. It’s a tragedy Labor cannot fit in a man of his earthy pragmatism:


Fiddling and fudging as our future burns

Andrew BoltNOVEMBER032012(5:03am)

Paul Kelly sums up the warnings of this week’s Economic and Social Outlook Conference:
The messages are that Australia needs to get greater intellectual honesty into its public debate: it needs more public sector savings, genuine tax reform, retention of a disciplined budget in the teeth of huge new spending pledges and a revised approach to productivity if living standards are to be enhanced.
There’s a dishonest debate about stuff like paying for massive political promises? Surprise, anyone?
Kelly lists some of the challenges identified: 
Melbourne Institute director Deborah Cobb-Clark said the youth unemployment rate was stuck at 12 per cent, long-term unemployment was a growing problem and more people had legitimate claims on the social safety net. Yet the era of large surpluses seemed over....
[Economist Ross] Garnaut warned Labor against surrendering the 2012-13 budget surplus goal.... because “once you breach the barrier there’s no easy limit on expansion of the deficit”.
But the standout speech… came from [Gary] Banks in his swansong after 15 years as chairman of the Productivity Commission....  He attacks remaining tariffs and huge industry subsidies “that cannot deliver demonstrable net social benefits” but cost taxpayers $9bn annually. He targets “green technology” scams worth more than $3bn, government procurement preferences to favour local suppliers, pharmacy ownership restrictions, taxi licence quotas, Labor’s shipping protectionist policies, its ban on parallel book imports and calls for another round of competition reforms.
Banks ... wants transparent cost-benefit analysis before major infrastructure projects (think NBN among others)…
Addressing ALP and trade support for re-regulation of the IR system, Banks said: “Recently I found myself being condemned by union leaders for suggesting that such regulations should be treated no differently to other areas of social regulation that have potentially adverse economic impact.” This is the entire point…
He warns of areas where regulation may inhibit productivity: native vegetation, heritage regulations, renewable energy targets, stamp duties, planning and zoning controls, rural water and waste management.
So where might we find that lack of honesty in public debate Kelly mentioned?
Contrary to much analysis at [the] conference, [Treasurer Wayne] Swan said the “structural saves” Labor has made in the mid-year review meant net debt could return to zero in 2020-21. This is a remarkable claim. Indeed, it was the trigger for questioning of the Treasurer because it seems to conflict with Treasury analysis. In order to eliminate debt by 2020 the budget must run large surpluses when the current outlook is for long-run thin surpluses.


What we can learn from the US election

Miranda Devine – Saturday, November 03, 2012 (2:01pm)

MOVIE director Oliver Stone claims Hurricane Sandy, which hit the north-east coast of the United States last week, was Mother Nature casting an early vote in Tuesday’s election.
And Her verdict? A pox on both their houses.
The storm was “punishment” for President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney because they have not addressed climate change in the campaign, he said.
Ridiculous though the claim is, yesterday’s opinion polls, showing Romney’s momentum has stalled, suggest the storm has been a Godsend for Obama, allowing him to appear presidential, non-partisan, and engaged.
He has edged ahead of Romney, 47.5 percent to 47.2 percent in the Real Clear Politics average of national polls.
Obama has been bounding around in his Air Force One bomber jacket, taking on the role of “First Father”, hugging storm victims in hard-hit New Jersey and being embraced by his new best friend, Republican governor Chris Christie, who Romney supporters accuse of throwing their man “under the bus”.
Romney meanwhile, was sidelined for three days, reduced to organizing canned food drives at subdued rallies.
But where it counts, in the marginal or “swing” states, Romney may already have achieved enough, simply by not being the monster his enemies have claimed, especially to women.
If Obama loses, his “war against women” campaign theme will have been his greatest miscalculation, and one with lessons for Australia.
Of course, it was always going to be a big ask for voters to dump their first black president, halfway through his possible reign.
The economy is key, with the unemployment rate creeping up a point yesterday to 7.9 percent, the worst of any president since the Great Depression, though improving job growth hints at a recovery.
And, while Obama hasn’t done much to improve the economy, his job approval rating is stable at 50 percent and there is sympathy for the idea he inherited a basketcase.
But this isn’t an ordinary election. Both camps have cast it as a moment in history that will determine America’s future character, a contest over how much control government should have in individual lives.
It’s important for Australia, too, both economically and intellectually. If Obama wins, his social democratic compact will be in the ascendancy, seeming to vindicate the path Julia Gillard has chosen.
Like Gillard, Obama believes in big government solving problems, whereas Romney promises to free people of government bureaucracy to create their own prosperity.
The choice is stark, and yesterday both sides were claiming victory.
The New York Times’ FiveThirtyEight blog was predicting an Obama win with a certainty close to 80 percent.
Former Clinton strategist Dick Morris tipped a Romney “landslide”, saying polls have underestimated his appeal in the big “swing” states.
It is in those states where the election will be decided and where advertising dollars are being lavished this weekend.
The president is not chosen directly by the people but by the so-called Electoral College, in which each of America’s 50 states is assigned votes based partly on the size of its population.
The reason we hear a lot about a “swing” state like Ohio is because it has 18 Electoral College votes, compared to, say, New Hampshire, with four.
The winner must get 270 Electoral College votes. Yesterday, Obama had 201 in the bag, and Romney had 191, with 146 votes up for grabs, according to Real Clear Politics.
Romney’s unexpected success has led to panic in the Obama camp, and highlighted its crucial mistake: excessive demonisation.
Once voters took a closer look, they saw Romney as benign, compassionate, even humble, not a heartless plutocrat acting for the top one percent of rich people. They saw him trying to uphold Christian virtues, not as a religious extremist on a crusade to force women back to the Dark Ages.
Central to Obama’s campaign has been the idea that Romney is waging a “war on women”, based on the dog whistle that he is a Mormon with conservative social views.
It boils women down to their “ladyparts” , with attack ads preoccupied with abortion, featuring female celebrities sneering at Romney’s backwardness.
“Vote like your ladyparts depend on it,” said one Obama online ad.
Another tasteless ad aimed at young women likened voting for the first time to losing your virginity, and if you’re going to do it, you should choose someone “cool” like Obama.
Another ad, titled “The Life of Julia” depicted women as cradle to grave dependents of the government – hardly a feminist message.
In any case, the strategy has backfired, as Romney has closed the gender gap, after being 16 points behind Obama with women a month ago.
His ads feature real women who have worked with him, and describe him as fair, consultative, and sensitive to the work-life balance.
Most importantly, they say he turned around the Massachusetts economy, erasing a $3 billion deficit without new taxes or more debt, a feat that resonates just as much with women.
Romney’s governorship of strongly Democrat Massachusetts holds the promise that he is a conciliator who could work with opponents to remove the partisan gridlock that has dogged Obama.
Whatever the outcome on Tuesday, there are lessons for Australia.
For Gillard, beware lazy characterisations of women as one-dimensional creatures obsessed with reproductive rights and clueless about the economy.
For Abbott, Romney defied expectations by maintaining a genial equanimity, despite attempts to demonise him. He emerged a bigger man, calm, steady and someone voters could trust.
And finally, huge audiences for the three presidential debates showed that the public craves meaningful policy and character information about political candidates. Australian voters deserve as much.


US voters need to put Romney in White House

Piers Akerman – Saturday, November 03, 2012 (6:16pm)

TUESDAY will be crunch time for the voters of America and the thoughts of many Gillard government supporters will be with them.
Incumbent President Barack Obama has failed to deliver on his 2008 promises, just as Prime Minister Julia Gillard has failed her 2010 promises.
In both the US and Australia, largely Left-leaning media organisations have played down the failures of leadership and attempted to drive attacks on the personalities of their challengers.
In the US, the Obama campaign has tried to discredit successful businessman and politician Mitt Romney with bitter attacks on his religion and his standing with women.
Ditto in Australia, where Labor has mounted an unprecedented and baseless campaign alleging that Opposition leader Tony Abbott is a misogynist and hinting darkly that his Catholicism affects his judgment.
Both Romney and Abbott have been pilloried for speaking the truth.
Last month, Obama voters made much of a frank response Romney gave to a supporter at a private gathering.
He had been asked how the election was shaping and replied: “Well, there are 47 per cent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what.
“There are 47 per cent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.
“That that’s an entitlement and government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. I mean, the president starts off with 48, 49 ... I mean, he starts off with a huge number.
“These are people who pay no income tax; 47 per cent of Americans pay no income tax.
“So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. He’ll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich.
“I mean, that’s what they sell every four years. And so my job is not to worry about those people.
“I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.
“What I have to do is convince the 5 to 10 per cent in the centre, that are independents, that are thoughtful, that look at voting one way or the other depending upon, in some cases, emotion, whether they like the guy or not, what he looks like.”
There were predictable media claims Romney was being disrespectful of low-income workers but the underlying truth about the spread of the entitlement mentality in the US was unchallenged. Yet Romney had the gumption to stand by his comments, though he admitted they were “not elegantly stated”. His campaign, he said, was “about helping people take more responsibility and becoming employed again, particularly those who don’t have work”.
Many Americans and Australians would see nothing wrong with his approach. As one chatroom commentator noted: “Did I miss something? Since when is what Romney said surprising? Isn’t this what we hear on discussion boards and forums, day in and day out from the Right? ‘You’re on welfare. You want a free handout. I work for a living, you don’t. You’re lazy. Get a job’.
“Who the hell thinks this is something new? The only thing new about it is hearing it being said in such stark terms from a presidential candidate in this day and age.”
Obama promised to lift poor Americans out of the welfare trap but there are now more people on food stamps than ever before.
Gillard’s record is just as bad, with more people on benefits and more long-term unemployed.
Obama inherited what he thought was a poorly-performing economy with annual deficits of around $US400 billion. Today they run at more than a trillion. Gillard inherited Treasurer Wayne Swan from her predecessor Kevin Rudd. As Treasurer, Swan has managed to convert a $70 billion surplus into a gross debt of more than $250 billion.
Obama’s budgets rely on the US printing more money and borrowing more cash from the Chinese. Gillard’s budgets rely on borrowing and money-shuffling accounting tricks.
Both leaders essentially believe in wealth redistribution through big central government.
During the 2008 campaign, Obama notoriously told Joe Wurzelbacher - Joe the Plumber - “when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody”. But the Obama experiment has failed Americans, just as the Rudd-Gillard experiment has failed Australians.
Obama’s monument to wealth redistribution is his Obamacare package that would centralise greater control of the American population in Washington. Gillard’s monument is the carbon tax that affects every Australian, not just the 500 “biggest polluters” she claimed when she introduced it. Both have been responsible for introducing green energy policies that have cost jobs and hobbled their economies.
Neither Obama nor Gillard understand how economies work or how wealth is created. Both think their respective federal governments are the solution, their opponents think they are part of the problem.
Neither leader has shown either a great interest in, or an understanding of, foreign policy.
On Obama’s watch, Osama bin Laden was killed by US troops but Obama tried to take credit for the operation. Gillard’s foreign forays from East Timor to Malaysia and Indonesia have been embarrassing.
Obama is running on promises of change, just as he did four years ago. His years in office offer little to recommend him.
Romney had an enviable career in private business and a laudable record as governor of Massachusetts. He can point to achievements.
America remains Australia’s most important international partner.
We need an America with a strong leader, Obama is not that person.

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