Malcolm Turnbull’s Speech On Republican Virtues: Truth, Leadership & Responsibility

Malcolm Turnbull has delivered a speech on truth, leadership and responsibility in which he argues that there is a “deficit of trust” in the Australian political system.

Malcolm TurnbullThe speech is likely to cause a stir in the Liberal Party. By implication, Turnbull takes a swipe at his 1990s monarchists opponents, John Howard and Tony Abbott, over their campaign of “utterly dishonest misinformation” during the Republic referendum campaign.

Turnbull is dismissive of climate change denialists and the shock jocks who promote them. Again by implication, he attacks Alan Jones and others: “Dumbing down complex issues into sound bites, misrepresenting your or your opponent’s policy does not respect ‘Struggle Street’, it treats its residents with contempt.”

Turnbull is critical of Question Time in parliament. He says of the Opposition’s approach: “For the last two years the questions from the Opposition have been almost entirely focussed on people smuggling and the carbon tax. Are they really the only important issues facing Australia? A regular viewer of Question Time would be excused for thinking they were.”

Whilst Turnbull says the problem with Question Time is its focus on the Prime Minister, his comments will most likely be seen as a criticism of Abbott’s parliamentary tactics.

Text of Malcolm Turnbull’s George Winterton Lecture at the University of Western Australia.

Republican virtues: Truth, leadership and responsibility.

Tonight’s lecture honours the memory of a most virtuous republican, our friend George Winterton, who despite the inestimable love and prayers of his wife, Rosalind, died in 2008 at the far too young age of 61.

My topic for this lecture is “Republican virtues – truth, leadership and responsibility.”

I will weave together a little about the republican debate in which George and I were generally comrades in arms (although at times comrades at arms length) with some reflections on the decline of the news media, the not unrelated coarsening in the dialogue between politicians and those who elect them about choices and challenges we face as a community, and the resulting dismay with which far too many Australians currently view their parliaments.


The visitor to Washington DC is quickly reminded that the founders of the American Republic were fascinated, intoxicated perhaps, with another republic, Rome.

Jefferson, entranced with a Roman temple in Nimes writes to his friend Madame de Tesse. “Here I am madam gazing whole hours at the maison quaree like a lover at his mistress.”

But it was not just the architecture of Rome that inspired the founders. Rejecting the British monarchy which oppressed them, and apprehensive of unbridled democracy, they appealed to the example of the noble Romans, the republican Romans, Cincinnatus, Fabius, Cato – men who had selflessly served the state and defended the rights of the people against tyranny just as the Pilgrims had opposed the established church.

Although separated by two thousand years, but very much alive in the libraries of New England, Puritans and Romans fused in the American imagination as a republic of virtue.

The American revolutionaries, common lawyers after all, reached back to a lost republic just as they were creating a brave new world of their own.

We will not linger tonight to debate again which virtues were republican or how they could be reflected in a constitution or whether, indeed, Jefferson was right in equating republican virtue with free farmers whose sturdy arcadian independence he contrasted with the wage slaves of the factories and emporiums of the city. [Read more…]

Horror Movie: Craig Emerson Sings ‘Whyalla Wipeout’

On the second day of the carbon tax, Trade Minister Craig Emerson has delivered an extraordinary performance during an interview on ABC television.

To the tune of the Skyhooks song “Horror Movie”, Emerson sang a ditty he called “Whyalla Wipeout”, a song intended to satirise the Opposition’s scare campaign against carbon pricing.

Emerson came to his television interview with recorded music backing apparently operated by his press secretary.

The Case For Carbon Pricing – Treasurer’s Economic Note

Every Sunday, Treasurer Wayne Swan publishes an Economic Note dealing with issues of the day.

Today’s Note deals with the carbon pricing scheme that begins operation next weekend. It’s a well-argued piece that highlights the abject political failure of the government to prosecute its case with the electorate.

By all accounts, former prime minister Kevin Rudd was prevailed upon by Swan and Julia Gillard to drop the Emissions Trading Scheme in 2010. Since then, Gillard’s unconvincing meanderings on the issue, of which the alleged carbon tax ‘lie’ is just one element, have seen the government’s credibility on climate change issues destroyed.

Despite attempts to blame Opposition Leader Abbott and the media, the failure is a political one by a government that lacks the personnel with the political skills to build community support for its programs.

Treasurer’s economic note

I’ve always believed that markets offer the most effective way to create prosperity across the economy. Individuals and businesses make their own decisions about what to buy and what to sell, how much to spend and how much to invest, and where their time, energy and money is directed. This is the best way to encourage investment, drive growth and generate jobs. But of course markets are far from perfect. They don’t always work as they should. That’s why we need laws and regulations to try to make markets work for everybody. One example is pollution. At the moment, big polluters in Australia can release as much carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere as they want. They don’t pay a cent. The real cost of this pollution is borne by all of society. And ultimately – without necessary action – it will be a cost paid by our children, grandchildren and future generations. [Read more…]

Carbon Tax Ads Without The Carbon Tax

The Gillard government’s campaign to promote the “Household Assistance Package” has begun with the airing of television advertisements.

The ads focus on the compensation payments which formed part of the Clean Energy Future legislation but they make no mention of the carbon price.

The Critical Decade: NSW Climate Change Report Released

The Climate Commission has released a report on New South Wales climate impacts and opportunities.

Climate commissioners Tim Flannery, Will Steffen and Lesley Hughes spoke to the media about their report.

  • Listen to the media conference:

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  • Download ‘The Critical Decade’ report (PDF)

This is the Climate Commission’s summary of its report, ‘The Critical Decade’.

New South Wales (NSW) is home to over a third of Australians, 31% of the national economy and is highly vulnerable to climate change. Scientists are concerned that climate change is increasing the risk of hot weather, heatwaves, and bushfires, and changing the patterns of drought and heavy rainfall. A changing climate is costly, putting pressure on human health, agriculture, infrastructure and the natural environment.

NSW is becoming hotter and drier. Record-breaking hot days have more than doubled across Australia since 1960 and heatwaves in the greater Sydney region, especially in the western suburbs, have increased in duration and intensity. [Read more…]

Abbott: The Coalition’s Plan For A Cleaner Environment

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has delivered what the Liberal Party describes as a “landmark speech” on the environment.

Tony AbbottAddressing the Australian Industry Group in Brisbane, Abbott said the Coalition “supports sensible measures to reduce carbon dioxide emissions..but will never accept the proposition that you could save the environment by killing the economy.”

Abbott said: “Today, I’m stating what the Coalition will stand for as well as what the Coalition has stood against. We support direct action that will reduce emissions, not just make them more expensive. We support the creation of a Green Army marching to the rescue of Australia’s degraded waterways, wetlands, and native vegetation.” [Read more…]

Carbon Tax Legislation Becomes Law

Royal Assent has been given to the Gillard government’s Clean Energy Future legislation.

The legislation, a package of 21 bills, introduces a carbon tax and associated measures.

Text of media release from Treasurer Wayne Swan, Climate Change Minister Greg Combet, and Families Minister Jenny Macklin:

Clean Energy Reforms Receive Royal Assent

The Gillard Government welcome the Royal Assent of a further 21 bills of the Clean Energy Future Legislative Package and the proclamation of their commencement dates.

The completion of this process means that the Government has the central legislative pieces in place to deliver a clean energy future for Australia.

The Clean Energy Act 2011, Clean Energy (Household Assistance Amendments) Act 2011, Steel Transformation Plan Act 2011 and Australian Renewable Energy Agency Act 2011 and 17 related bills have all now received Royal Assent. [Read more…]

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Turnbull Condemns Rejection Of Climate Science

Malcolm Turnbull has delivered a speech pleading for the science of climate change to be respected.

  • Listen to Malcolm Turnbull’s speech:

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This is the prepared text of Malcolm Turnbull’s speech to the Virginia Chadwick Foundation.

Malcolm Turnbull delivers the inaugural Virginia Chadwick Foundation speechThis Foundation commemorates the life and work of Virginia Chadwick, one of Australia’s most influential female parliamentarians and a strong friend of the environment. Let me say a few words about her at the outset.

She was a teacher before she presumably decided her charges were not unruly enough and so entered the NSW Parliament – better known as the Macquarie Street Bear Pit! John Fahey the former Liberal Premier of this State and Federal Finance Minister remembers that place very well!

Virginia was elected to the NSW Legislative Council representing the Liberal Party in 1978 at the age of 33. Over 21 years at Macquarie Street she blazed a trail for others to follow: she was the first female president of the NSW Legislative Council, first female Opposition Whip, first female Liberal minister and first female NSW Education minister. [Read more…]

Selling The Carbon Tax: Less Is More

Julia Gillard should have stayed in bed this week, for all the good her carbon tax campaigning did.

In fact, she ought to just shut up about the carbon tax and get on with something else.

This week smacks of the same hopeless political strategy that Rudd and Gillard have fallen for before, the strategy that says you have to run around the country like a maniac and never shut up.

It’s also the strategy that gives Tony Abbott a daily free kick as the media treat the circus like an election campaign and give him equal time.

Take Gillard’s appearance at the National Press Club yesterday. Her speech on climate change was quite good, but it was overshadowed by the personal development lecture from the Unley High school girl.

Last night’s television pictures duly centred on Gillard’s teary moment and her injunction to the press gallery to “stop writing crap”. Forget about any coverage of the economic imperatives of the carbon tax.

That argument was left to Paul Keating who, in 20 minutes on Lateline, managed to put the case better than any minister in the Government has managed for years. In that inimitable style of his, Keating positioned the tax as a necessary response to a transformative need in the economy. As an advocate, he shamed the Government with his easy command of striking political imagery. [Read more…]