The School of Athens

The School of Athens
The School of Athens by Raphael (click on picture to view short documentary from Columbia University)

Thursday, 26 February 2015

The Abbott Prime Ministership: In his own words

Colleagues and scholars from coast to coast, across Bass Strait and all the ships at sea.

Dateline: Australia, Federal Politics, February 2015.

The Prime Minister has used the following phrases repeatedly and quite forcefully, even aggressively, in the last few days: 

1. "the benefit of the doubt" 

2. "taken for mugs" 

3. "lost confidence"

Three phrases that accurately describe the public's chronological view of him since the 2013 election:

When we elected you we gave you "the benefit of the doubt" but soon we found we were "taken for mugs" and now we have "lost confidence" in you.

Rather extraordinary coincidence?



Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Compare and contrast

Colleagues and scholars from coast to coast, across Bass Strait and all the ships at sea.

Dateline: Australia, Politics, February 2015.

Compare and contrast.

The Queensland State Government Ministry, sworn in February 2015.


The Australian Federal Government Ministry, sworn in September 2013.



Sunday, 15 February 2015

L'amour, l'amour, toujours l'amour

Fellow citizens, a Sunday special.

Perfect for St Valentine's Day weekend. Three beautiful love themes.

Music to melt the hardest of hearts and dissolve the stoniest of souls.

Theme from Summer of '42 by Michel Legrand YouTube link here


Theme from Love Story by Francis Lai YouTube link here 


Love theme from Romeo and Juliet by Nino Rota YouTube Link here




Friday, 13 February 2015

Death penalty is dinosaur thinking

Fellow citizens,

While ever the death penalty exists anywhere in the world, it is evidence that the human species has yet to fully evolve from our reptilian past.

While the 10km wide asteroid that hit the Earth 65 million years ago wiped out the dinosaurs in body, their minds remain inside us.




Wednesday, 11 February 2015

A graphically unsatisfactory story

Colleagues and scholars from coast to coast, across Bass Strait and all the ships at sea.

Dateline: Australia, Federal Politics, February 2015.

This is the graphic representation of Tony Abbott's monthly satisfaction ratings since becoming Prime Minister (as measured by Newspoll).

Graphic indeed.



Tuesday, 10 February 2015

A plan for Australia

Colleagues and scholars from coast to coast, across Bass Strait and all the ships at sea.

Dateline: Australia, Federal Politics, February 2015.

"We will release our policies in good time before the next election." The familiar refrain from the 'clever' politician. Then, in truth, as little as possible is released before the election.

Politics 101: Say whatever is required to get elected and once in power you will be free to implement your agenda.

How well is that working out for the Abbott Government?

The Australian body politic has been scarred, and scared, by the 1993 'unlosable' election, in which the release of 'Fightback' by the Coalition Opposition well over a year before the election is believed to have doomed it to a fifth straight election loss. Since then the 'small target' strategy has been the one of choice.

Unfortunately, that strategy takes the public for fools and its use has not helped the progression of the nation. Hence we find ourselves in the current less than satisfactory situation.

How do we retrieve ourselves from this place? 

Both major parties actually need to set an agenda for the nation that they present to the public when seeking election.  This starts with a clear vision for the nation and then a very clear plan on how that vision will be realised.

This is how they should approach it.


1 - The Vision

Before they embark on anything, the party and all its politicians need to be able to clearly articulate its philosophy.

What is the party's guiding philosophy?

If the politicians are struggling to come up with an answer, which would be a real problem but not a surprise, then they need to answer these questions first:

What do you believe in?  What values do you hold dear? Why did you enter politics?  What is it you wanted to achieve? Where do see the nation being in ten and twenty year's time?

These should not be difficult questions to answer and therefore the guiding philosophy of the party should reflect these answers and thus be very easy to describe.

From this a clear vision for the nation can be articulated.

2 - The Policy Agenda

Based on this vision, the policy development then takes place to implement it and should proceed as follows:

Ask the following questions:  Where are we now?  Where are we going?  How do we get there? 

a) - Where are we now? 

This would be an audit of the current situation in every area of government responsibility.  

Clearly there have already been any number of reviews conducted in many portfolios and so it should not be too difficult to answer this question.  Indeed, one would think that if there were any decent "debate", the current situation in each portfolio would be all too clear.

b) - Where are we going?

Then based on the current position, the party would need to determine the objectives it would want to achieve in each of these government areas of responsibility in line with the party's vision. 

This would be a three-step process:

Step 1 - within each portfolio, prioritise the objectives into the following categories: those you "must achieve"; those you would "like to achieve"; and those you would "love to achieve". 

Step 2 - consider the budget situation and what needs to be addressed in the financial portfolios of Treasury and Finance, namely how to deal with the structural problem of the Federal Government's budget.  That is, too much committed expenditure (over allocated in the good years of the last decade) and not enough revenue in the future to pay for it.  

Depending on the budgetary circumstance, step 2 may impact greatly on step 1.  It may well see all the "love to achieve" and even "like to achieve" objectives postponed and may even require a re-examination of all the "must achieve" objectives in each portfolio, to re-prioritise those objectives across all portfolios leaving only the ones which are the most important to implementing the party's vision.

Step 3 - takes the final prioritised list of objectives following step 2 and proceeds with the "can achieve" objectives.  This is not an excuse to do nothing due to "budgetary constraints"; this is a realistic assessment of what is achievable given the current financial situation.

If the final list of "can achieve" objectives does not reflect any reasonable implementation of the party's vision, then you need to re-visit step 2 and re-prioritise and re-direct current spending and/or alter the current revenue sources (yes, change taxes if required - re visit the dusty pages of The Henry Tax Review) to meet the party's philosophical objectives.

Once determined in principle, these objectives should then be set out over a nine-year period (three terms).   

That is, having clear and measurable objectives, regarding outcomes and expenditure, for each 3-year term of government, and each individual year within each 3-year term. 

c) - How do we get there? 

This is where the party outlines in detail the strategies it intends to employ to achieve those objectives over the short, medium and long term.

The implementation phase is the most critical.

The key objectives should have comprehensive strategies developed that are well thought out and debated within the party and without, to ensure that the best implementation process will be employed.   

They should be clearly articulated in detail on a website (subject to any genuine commercial in confidence issues) and advertised in the press (using party funds) with the theme:  this is what we are intending to do over the next year, 2 years, 3 years and if you are happy with those results, re-elect us and then we could implement stage two over years 4, 5 and 6 in the second term, and if happy again, re-elect us again, and we could implement stage three over years 7, 8 and 9.

Then the communication strategy, which so dominates our current political process, would be driven by the guiding vision of the party and would explain to the public, cohesively and comprehensively, what you are intending to achieve and why - rather than responding every day to whatever the 'issue du jour' determines

If elected, the agenda is clear and your task would be to implement the strategies outlined with great commitment and enthusiasm.  The communication strategy would then be to convey to the public how the implementation is progressing and what changes, if any, needed to be made.

Obviously, over time, circumstances do change and therefore the objectives and strategies would also change, so it wouldn't be a static process. However, this approach would see an honest, straightforward and clear agenda for all to see and judge.

THAT is how you develop a plan for the nation.

Does anyone remember anything remotely like that in the last federal election? 

Something for the Australian political world to think about?

Sunday, 8 February 2015

All that glitters might not be greener grass

Colleagues and scholars from coast to coast, across Bass Strait and all the ships at sea.

Dateline: Australia, Federal Politics, February 2015.

No doubt all Liberal Party Members and Senators have been sobered by recent poll results and are perhaps awaiting tomorrow's Newspoll to enlighten them as to what to do about the Liberal Party leadership.

If the choice is to be between Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull, it might be instructive for them to know how both leaders compared on their Newspoll results when they were Opposition Leader.



Malcolm Turnbull was Opposition Leader for about 14 months. The following comparisons are for his 14-month period in the job and for the first 14 months of Tony Abbott's tenure (which included the 2010 election).

The Coalition two party preferred vote under Abbott averaged 48% (including achieving 49.8% and nearly winning government in the 2010 election) and under Turnbull it averaged 44%.

Abbott's average satisfaction rate was 42% and Turnbull's was 40%.

On both measures Abbott performed better than Turnbull, and this was before the electoral benefit of the backlash against the Gillard Government following the announcement that it was going to introduce a price on carbon.

14 months average as Opposition Leader (Newspoll)

Measure
 Abbott
 Turnbull
Two Party Preferred
48%
44%
Satisfaction Rate
42%
40%



These graphs illustrate how that played out over 14 months. 










I suspect those contemplating a change to Malcolm Turnbull will be hoping that he performs much better as a prime minister than he did as an opposition leader.



Blog Archive

Our home

Our home
Earthrise over the moon (click on picture to view film)

The pale blue dot

The pale blue dot
Earth viewed from Saturn (click on picture to view film clip)

Our neighbourhood

Our neighbourhood
The Solar System (click on picture to view film)

Our Home Galaxy

Our Home Galaxy
The Milky Way (click on picture to view film)

A sister galaxy

A sister galaxy
Andromeda (click on picture to view film)

Another sister galaxy

Another sister galaxy
Triangulum (click on picture to view short film clip)

The Local Group of Galaxies

The Local Group of Galaxies
Our Galactic Neighbourhood (click on picture to view film clip).

Our farthest view of the Universe

Our farthest view of the Universe
Hubble's farthest view (click on picture to view film clip)

The virgo super cluster of galaxies

The virgo super cluster of galaxies
Galaxies within 100 million light years (click on picture to view film clip)

Galaxies within 1 billion light years

Galaxies within 1 billion light years

Universe

Universe