Australian politics, society & culture

Mungo MacCallum

Mungo MacCallum's picture

Mungo MacCallum is a political journalist and commentator. His books include Run Johnny Run, Poll Dancing, and Punch and Judy. Visit his blog, The View from Billinudgel.

Another bucket of money spent on a lengthy and divisive campaign in a far flung corner of the continent in order to select six seat warmers from a field of 77 has-beens and never-will-be's, a four week distraction allowing the government to hide the vitally important economic audit report of the Productivity Commission from the Opposition, the media and the public – just in case it...
It was inevitable that sooner or later Labor would be forced to move against Tony Abbott’s chosen speaker, Bronwyn Bishop, and last week the no-confidence motion finally came. Of course it failed on the numbers, but that does not mean that it was futile gesture; in the interest not just of itself but of the parliament as a whole it was time, perhaps past time, for the opposition to take a...
Has there ever been a more blatant, more cynical piece of political opportunism than Tony Abbott’s Royal Commission into pink batts? The Home Insulation Program, as it was more formally known, was actually running some five years ago and was closed down a year later. Since then there have been coronial enquiries, inquests, administrative investigations and a full government audit report...
The organisers of March in March are understandably chuffed. The weekend saw demonstrations numbering many thousands in the cities and bigger than expected crowds in many of the regions. For an event arranged at short notice and built from the grass roots, it was an impressive result. But it should be put in its context. The most successful Australian protests of modern times were undoubtedly the...
Just when we thought that Tony Abbott was making a genuine, if belated, attempt to shed his identity as Dr No, the prophet of negativity, his old instincts have come roaring back. Not content with promising to abolish the carbon and mining taxes, to dump the science ministry and the Climate Commission and remove the schoolkids’ bonus and the low income superannuation contribution (and that...
Tony Abbott just doesn’t get it. The accusation against his Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash is not just one of parliamentary jaywalking: a momentary lapse of diligence in observing the ministerial code of conduct, or the inadvertent and short-lived misleading of parliament as a result. The accusation is that her office corrupted – and the word is chosen carefully and deliberately...
So Joe Hockey thinks the age of entitlement is over. Not for Alexander Downer it isn’t; entitlement has been part of the Downer genome for generations, and it will take more than the upstart son of an Armenian to end it. As the nearest thing to a hereditary Adelaide aristocracy, the Downers have always demanded and usually received as their birthright what they could never have achieved by...
There is no need to doubt Tony Abbott’s sincerity when it comes to indigenous affairs; his quasi-religious conversion to the cause rings entirely true, as does his determination to make a real difference in the area during his time in office. His annual report on closing the gap to parliament last week was arguably his best piece of oratory to date, with only one slip into political point...
The long-awaited by-election for Kevin Rudd’s old seat of Griffith went pretty much as predicted: Terri Butler held it for Labor, but not without a tough and expensive fight and more than few anxious moments. The result, however, is being spun by both sides into some kind of epic vindication of their positions, those of their respective parties and a pointer to the future of Australian...
Tony Abbott is taking his time before announcing his next campaign, which is to be a fully-fledged Royal Commission into the trades unions – their corruption, their violence, their bad table manners and their general Un-Australianness. We know this for certain because we were told it last week in the Australian by Dennis Shanahan, whose attachment to Abbott long ago ceased to be merely...
Australia’s social welfare bill is unsustainable. Everyone knows it, and what’s more it is going to get more unsustainable as the population ages and a smaller proportion are actually in the workforce and paying taxes. So clearly something has to be done about it, and cometh the hour, cometh the man – the man being our seriously unlovable Minister for Social Service, Kevin...
We are constantly being told that our defence forces are underfunded but this is ridiculous. It now looks as if we will have to run a few chook raffles to fund the purchase of a compass and set of charts for the Royal Australian Navy or at least a sextant and an astrolabe to tide them over until they can afford a proper GPS. It is almost beyond belief that our finest military vessels, engaged in...
It is still not clear why Tony Abbott seems determined to trash Australia’s hard-won reputation as a good citizen of the world, but there can be no doubt that he no longer cares what our erstwhile friends and neighbours think of us – provided that he can achieve his short term domestic objectives. First there was the casual dismissal of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s...
In spite of the lavish praise from Tony Abbott’s bestie, the Australian’s foreign editor Greg Sheridan, it is now clear that our neophyte Prime Minister still has a lot to do before relations with Indonesia return to anything like normal. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has let it be know that while Abbott’s formal reply to his demand for an explanation of the tapping of...
You have to give it to Tony Abbott – he thinks big. Not satisfied with having put a wrecking ball through the relationship with Australia’s best friend in the neighbourhood, he has also set out to destroy Australia’s hard-won reputation as a concerned and responsible international citizen. The stridency and contempt with which his government treated the Warsaw conference on...
The National Party’s unobtrusive leader, Warren Truss, is not one for public posturing; on the rare occasions he breaks cover, he usually lives up to his name in trying to soothe and heal ruptures within the Coalition. So it is a surprise to see and hear him suddenly becoming assertive and uncompromising on behalf of his members. Perhaps driven by the appearance of the ambitious Barnaby...
Tony Abbott was never looking forward to the recall of parliament, which is why he has put it off for as long as possible. In opposition, parliament was his natural habitat: he could treat it as an arena, a fighting ground where he could rant and bully, kick and gouge. But as prime minister, he will have to take a more measured approach, to deal with complex issues through more than three word...
Bob Carr has copped a bit of justifiable stick for announcing his resignation from the Senate just six weeks after being elected for a six year term but it was hardly a surprise: despite his protestations to the contrary, it was always obvious that the silken-voiced former premier was there for a good time, not a long time. Having spent seven grinding years as Opposition leader in New...