Australian politics, society & culture

Friday, 24th October 2014

Free to charge

Fairfax has an exclusive report this morning confirming that the Abbott government is prepared to concede on almost all of its proposed reforms to higher education if the Senate agrees to pass legislation deregulating university fees. But even that amendment – which will further entrench the hierarchy within the university sector by advantaging the Group of Eight institutions, allowing them to charge students what they like – may look mean and unnecessarily divisive when considered in the context of the Whitlam government's free university education reforms, much discussed this week.

The Abbott government's entire budget is now in danger of being cast as an attempt to reverse a number of Whitlam’s reforms. Many of those reforms – to education access, to health insurance, to social security – became such important components of the social contract that attempts to chip away at them are now fraught with political danger.

This week’s spirit of reflection has reminded the political nation that governments can be expansive and visionary. Perhaps it’s time, now, for the Labor Opposition to begin outlining its own vision for the nation’s future.

Russell Marks
Politicoz Editor

Sign up to get Politicoz delivered
to your email address every weekday at lunch time.

Changes to the Renewable Energy Target

Compromise on RET now more likely: “Officially, the opposition has indicated it would not support any cut to the target which would put clean energy jobs at risk, but talks between Environment Minister Greg Hunt and Labor's resources spokesman Gary Gray are proceeding towards a compromise.” (Mark Kenny, The Age)

Wind turbine maker sacks 100 workers, blaming renewable policy uncertainty: “Steve Garner, general manager at Keppel Prince, said the cause of the redundancies was ‘purely and simply the RET and all the uncertainty about where it is heading.’” (Lenore Taylor, The Guardian)

Planned cut to renewable energy target a “free kick” for fossil fuels: “Dylan McConnell, a research fellow at the Melbourne Energy Institute, said that ‘shifting the goalposts will decimate the large-scale renewable industry’ and endanger more than A$10 billion of investment.” (Michael Hopkin, The Conversation)

National security

Surveillance, intelligence and accountability: An Australian story: “But now agencies are again seeking additional powers to meet the current enhanced threat of terrorism. If security powers are to be extended, scrutiny and oversight must again keep pace.” (John Faulkner, Australian Financial Review)

Are we peddling fear just for the sake of it? “When does the rhetoric of politicians cross the boundaries from sensible public safety and security warnings to fear for the sake of it?” (Barrie Cassidy, The Drum)  

Leadership speculation

Barnaby Joyce as Deputy Prime Minister – a thought for the future: “There is an expectation within the party that Deputy Prime Minister Truss, 66, will not contest the next election, something on which he is not commenting.” (Michelle Grattan, The Conversation)

Christopher Pyne slips up while playing down Julie Bishop as potential leader: “I want her to be PM for 10 years.” (Latika Bourke, The Sydney Morning Herald)

Deaths in custody

Aboriginal man dies in Casuarina Prison as hundreds rally around WA to protest deaths in custody: “It's devastating and the government knows this – that there is something terribly wrong with our system, particularly in relation to prisons, but also in police custody.” (ABC News)


Tony Abbott admits Ebola help sought by US, Britain, Africa: “Yes, our partners and allies would like us to do more and we are carefully considering those requests,’ Mr Abbott said.” (Stefanie Balogh, The Australian)