Hung Parliament after Liberal seat loss in Australia

Things just got even tougher for the Liberals in Australia after they lost a by-election in the Wentworth electorate after ex-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull exited Parliament.

The Liberals had been clinging to a one seat majority, but Australia now has a hung Parliament.

news.com.au – Independent Kerryn Phelps claims victory over Liberal candidate Dave Sharma for Malcolm Turnbull’s seat of Wentworth

Independent Kerryn Phelps is ahead on the two-candidate preferred vote by 54.39 per cent compared to Liberal candidate Dave Sharma on 45.61 per cent.

Dr Phelps has 17,500 primary votes compared to Mr Sharma’s 20,712 votes.

ABC election analyst Antony Green said about 80 per cent of preferences from other candidates were going to Dr Phelps and so she should win easily. He called the by-election in her favour about 7.15pm, not long after polling booths closed at 6pm.

It’s the first time in its 117-year history that the Liberals have lost the Wentworth seat and commentators are already predicting it will spell chaos within the party, and Malcolm Turnbull will be blamed.

There was a 27 per cent swing away from the Liberal Party, the biggest swing against a government in a by-election in the history of federal parliament.

It means the Morrison Government will lose its one-seat majority and Australia now has a hung parliament. The Liberal Party will have to work with crossbenchers to get its legislation passed.

Talk about a rock star reception

Kerryn Phelps was greeted by a roar of jubilation as she arrived at her victory party at North Bondi Surf Life Savers club, and the noise didn’t die down for five minutes.

Dr Phelps took her time moving to the front of the room, stopping to hug and high five supporters. At several points she even broke out dancing, and an impromptu moshpit promptly formed around her.

“I am humbled by this privilege and I just want to say thank you, thank you, thank you,” she said, before descending back into the crowd.

Scott Morrison’s speech slammed

Morrison is the current Liberal leader and Prime Minister.

While the Prime Minister’s speech to Liberal supporters at Dave Sharma’s election party was heartily cheered, it has not gone down well on social media.

Many said it showed a lack of humility and that Mr Morrison had not understood the message from voters.

In contrast, Mr Sharma’s speech was praised for being gracious and respectful.

Mr Morrison’s defiant speech drew frequent heckles from the rowdier attendees.

Beaten Liberal candidate Dave Sharma got a more respectful reception, perhaps because his speech was notably magnanimous — not only towards Dr Phelps, but towards the old member of Wentworth, Malcolm Turnbull.

Loss will be blamed on Malcolm Turnbull

The disastrous by-election result for the Liberal Party is already being blamed on the former prime minister and Wentworth MP.

Mr Turnbull was noticeably absent from the campaign and his son was openly encouraging people to vote for Kerryn Phelps.

Australian associate editor Chris Kenny said he thought the repercussions of the loss would be extraordinary.

“There’s going to be incredible turmoil within the Liberal Party as the blame game plays out,” he told Sky News.

“I think Malcolm Turnbull’s reputation is going to be absolutely trashed.”

I think that the Liberal Party needs to bear a lot of responsibility for the blame, but politicians are known for often not acknowledging their own failings. They probably don’t see their own failings.

But this is a big failure for the Liberals.

news.com.au – Voters scoff at Liberal Party’s tactical blunder in Wentworth

THE Liberal Party appears to have made a catastrophic tactical blunder in the Wentworth by-election.

Its core argument to voters was obvious to anyone who visited a polling station today. Huge signs warned of the consequences that would follow a victory for independent Kerryn Phelps, saying Labor would ultimately benefit.

“Labor + Phelps, don’t risk it,” the most common poster read.

The implication, hammered into voters heads all week by Liberal candidate Dave Sharma, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and even retired party legend John Howard, was that Dr Phelps would cause chaos in parliament.

In other words, the biggest reason to vote Liberal was “stability”.

The Australian Liberals are about as stable as a Jami-Lee Ross.

Dysfunctional democracies

There seems to be growing dysfunction in democracies with important associations with New Zealand.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom continues to struggle with it’s exit from the European Union after a controversial referendum in 2016 chose Brexit by a fairly close margin. It is claimed that the referendum was unduly affected by social media manipulation similar to what happened in the US election, also in 2016.

Prime Minister Theresa May made a disastrous decision to have a snap election and seems to have gone downhill from there. Her Conservative Party has been in a close contest with the opposing Labour Party in the polls for some time, largely because of the arguably equally unpopular leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Not only does UK politics look in dire straits, their future as a country, especially as a trading nation, looks precarious. They are struggling to sort out an exit of the European Union, and that is delaying attempts to negotiate with alternate trade partners.

The Telegraph: Theresa May is showing how thorny a ‘clean Brexit’ could be so voters reconsider her plan

The Telegraph: Who do you think should be the next leader of the Conservative Party?

Over the past few months notable Conservative politicians and outside voices have questioned Theresa May’s ability to lead the party through Brexit and beyond. This in turn has cast doubt over the stability and longevity of the Prime Minister’s position in the top job.

 

United States

Who is in the most disarray, the Republicans or the Democrats? Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton deserved to lose the 2016 presidential election, and it’s arguable that the worst person won.

Trump has had some short term wins with some policies, especially with huge tax cuts, but the effects of resulting huger debts may case major problems in the future, especially if the record length bull run in the markets hiccups, as it inevitably will at some stage. the odds are that that will be soonish.

Trump has had a shambolic approach to trade ‘negotiations’, and a high risk approach to international relations. He often seems to work (or tweet) at odds with his top officials, and has questionable inclinations towards appeasement with Russia (while his country increases sanctions for interference in their democracy).

National Security Adviser John Bolton: U.S. sanctions to stay until Russia changes its behavior

Trump’s claims of great success in his meeting with Kim Yong Un seem to have been premature: Trump says Pompeo won’t go to North Korea, criticizes denuclearization progress

And his potential legal problems grow. Graham: Trump Will “Very Likely” Fire Sessions After Midterms – sacking everyone who won’t support his attempts at interference is unlikely to save him in the long run.

Much of the world watches in wonder at what the most powerful democracy in the world has become.

While many stupid and troubling things are by Trump there’s hope that his big mouth and little fingers won’t work there way towards the big button – however there are risks that Trump might escalate attempts to divert from all his problems by choosing a military sideshow, a common ploy of tyrants who can make their people revere them.

But the Democrats look in disarray after the disastrous Clinton presidential campaign. Hillary may be considering another shot at the presidency, which would likely dismay many, and there is no clear alternative (although in US politics it’s a long time until the next presidential election (2020). Trump was just an unlikely contender in a crowd of wannabe candidates two years before he won.

Australia

Our relatively) close neighbours the Aussies have a new Prime Minister that most Kiwis are unlikely to have heard of (Scott Morrison, after two leadership votes in a week. The deposing of Malcolm Turnbull adds to the procession of Australian Prime Ministers who have failed to see out a term in office.

See Out with the not very old Aussie PM, in with the new.

The change of leadership looks like a bit of a move right, but looks likely to be tested at an election soon, if Turnbull resigns and the Government loses it’s one seat majority.

Labour’s left has been riven by ructions in the not very distant past.

Depressing

This could be quite depressing for those who yearn for healthy democracies and competent politicians and parties. Is democracy self imploding, or can it recover?

Meanwhile, New Zealand

Here we have a three party government that has it’s challenges, and it’s critics, but the big local political stories of the week have been about the leak of expenses details several days before they were due to be released, and the semi-demotion of a Minister who didn’t properly record or advise having a meeting with someone who could potentially be a big benefit to the country.

Out with the not very old Aussie PM, in with the new

Our relatively) close neighbours the Aussies have a new Prime Minister that most Kiwis are unlikely to have heard of (Scott Morrison, after two leadership votes in a week. The deposing of Malcolm Turnbull adds to the procession of Australian Prime Ministers who have failed to see out a term in office, earning Canberra the label of “the coup capital of the Pacific”.

Guardian: Australia’s new PM is Scott Morrison as moderate Malcolm Turnbull is forced out

Australia has a new prime minister in Scott Morrison – the socially conservative architect of Australia’s hardline anti-asylum seeker policies – after he mounted a late challenge during a drawn-out struggle for power in the governing Liberal party.

On Friday, incumbent Malcolm Turnbull failed in his attempt to stare down a challenge from hard right MP Peter Dutton, with insurgents in his party gathering enough signatures to call for a “spill” – or leadership contest.

There appears no end in sight to the civil war consuming the ruling Liberal-led coalition government. The country may be headed to an election, with Turnbull saying he will not stay in parliament. His resignation in between general elections would erase the government’s single-seat majority in the House of Representatives.

Australia has now had five prime ministers in just over five years. Since 2010, four prime ministers have lost office, not at the ballot box, but torn down by their own parties, earning Canberra the unhappy appellation “the coup capital of the Pacific”.

So who is Scott Morrison?

Morrison was treasurer in Turnbull’s administration, and before that, as immigration minister, he was behind Australia’s controversial hardline asylum-seeker policies – including indefinite detention on remote foreign islands.

So that stain on Australia’s reputation may not end before the next election at least.

The son of a policeman and an active member of a Sydney Pentecostal evangelical megachurch, Morrison wears his political ambition and his conservative credentials proudly.

He voted no in Australia’s plebiscite on same-sex marriage, listed “church” as one of his interests in his Who’s Who report, and regards former prime minister John Howard as his political inspiration.

Before his election to parliament in 2007 he was a factional kingpin in the rightwing of the New South Wales Liberal party.

Maybe less right wing than the twice-in-a-week unsuccessful Peter Dutton, but Morrison looks like a move right at a time when they might be heading into an election that may be determined by voters in between the major parties.

Turnbull has sounded some warnings.

In his valedictory speech, Turnbull sounded a warning against the rising tide of populist anti-immigration political rhetoric, promoted from within his own party. “We are the most successful multicultural society in the world, and I have always defended that and advanced that as one of our greatest assets,” he said. “We must never allow the politics of race or division or of setting Australians against each other to become part of our political culture.”

Turnbull also made another thinly veiled swipe at actors “outside the parliament” undermining his leadership – widely interpreted as an attack on the influence of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation newspapers and TV channels, which have consistently campaigned against him.

We are likely to go back to largely ignoring Aussie politics until the next democratic dumping, be it by general election (that mightn’t be far away) or by caucus.

Australian leadership spill looks inevitable, three lining up

A tumultuous day in Australian politics yesterday, with a the second Liberal leadership vote looking likely in a week now. Malcolm Turnbull looks like dead leader stumbling.

News.com.au: Peter Dutton needs just one signature to secure leadership spill

PETER Dutton is only one signature away from securing a leadership spill to oust Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, according to a Liberal MP.

Mr Dutton’s supporters say he now has more than 40 signatures in his favour in a petition to Mr Turnbull to call a spill that’s been circling Parliament House since last night.

Speaking to reporters outside parliament earlier this evening, Liberal member for McPherson Karen Andrews said she understands only “one more signature is required”.

Ms Andrews, who signed the petition herself, noted that she wasn’t necessarily going to back Mr Dutton.

“But I will not stand by after having Parliament adjourned today to have this matter not concluded tomorrow. I understand that only one more signature is required,” she said.

The former home affairs minister needs 43 signatures for Mr Turnbull to call a party room meeting.

But the Prime Minister has left Parliament House for the day — and it’s understood he hasn’t received a petition.

Mr Turnbull today said he would call a special party room meeting at midday tomorrow if a letter requesting one, signed by a majority of MPs, was presented to him. The embattled leader said he would move a spill motion, and if it was carried, that he wouldn’t stand as a candidate for the top job, and resign both as prime minister and as a member of parliament.

That would leave Turnbull’s replacement leader with a poisoned chalice, probably a hung parliament.

But the controversial Peter Dutton isn’t the only challenger. Treasurer Scott Morrison and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop have also indicated they would put themselves forward.

Roy Morgan snap poll:

Liberal Leadership contenders vs. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten

  • Julie Bishop (64%) cf. Bill Shorten (36%)
  • Malcolm Turnbull (54%) cf. Bill Shorten (46%)
  • Bill Shorten (50.5%) cf. Scott Morrison (49.5%)
  • Bill Shorten (62%) cf. Peter Dutton (38%)

All ‘can’t say’ and ‘don’t know’ responses have been removed from these results to make them directly comparable.

Analysis by Party – Bishop leads easily amongst L-NP & Ind./Others supporters, Shorten ahead with ALP & Greens supporters

  • L-NP supporters: Bishop 87% cf. Shorten 13%. Lead to Ms. Bishop 74%;
  • ALP supporters: Shorten 59.5% cf. Bishop 40.5%. Lead to Ms. Bishop 19%;
  • Greens supporters: Shorten 56.5% cf. Bishop 43.5%. Lead to Ms. Bishop 13%;
  • Ind./Others supporters: Bishop 70.5% cf. Shorten 29.5%. Lead to Ms. Bishop 41%.

Seems like an easy choice for the Liberals, if they care about the poll results.

I think Dutton would be dire, and Bishop looks a good prospect – but it depends on what sort of support she would get from the Liberal caucus.

And to avoid her being forced into an immediate election it would require a change of mind by Turnbull about quitting.

But perhaps an election would be needed regardless.

Source: Julie Bishop easily preferred to Bill Shorten as PM, virtual dead-heat between Morrison & Shorten while Shorten leads Dutton clearly

More details here.

Aussie update – leadership mess continues

It looks like political chaos in Australia.

Winston Peters visited in the middle of the leadership mess.

Newshub: Winston Peters foils Julie Bishop’s attempts to end press conference

Winston Peters foiled Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s attempts to end a joint press conference on Wednesday afternoon, and cracked a joke about leadership spills.

Ms Bishop told reporters she’d take one last question, and was asked by a reporter whether she was “working the phones” like Peter Dutton – who yesterday lost a leadership contest to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

“I have been in a meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand and Winston can attest that during that meeting I’ve not made one phone call,” Ms Bishop said.

Mr Peters said earlier in the press conference that no matter the outcome on the leadership front, “we want to see Australia a strong, helpful leadership influence in the Pacific upon which we rely.”

“We depend upon Australia more than you depend upon us but that said, our two countries are seriously significant in how the future of this part of the world turns out.”

But even then he wasn’t finished, making a final comment:

“As a politician when you go into a spill you’ve got to take your abacus, thank you very much.”

But that wasn’t the final say on that.

And ikt’s certainly not the last say on a bloody political mess:

Australian politics: breaking, breaking, breaking

11:20 am

11:33 am

: Malcolm Turnbull has won back Australia’s leadership after declaring it vacant

11;55 am

: Malcolm Turnbull’s rival Peter Dutton has quit Cabinet after failing to win a challenge for Australia’s leadership

Is this the future of Australia?

Some people and groups of people try to take things too far.

And some people and groups of people over-react.

There’s no way the Aussies can take away our ANZAC Day.

The Molyneux-Southern Australasian speaking tour

The speaking event involving Stefan Molyneux and Lauren Southern was quickly canned in Auckland after mayor Phil Goff decided that he not only didn’t want to listen to the two Canadians, but he also didn’t want anyone else listening to them at council owned venues.

But it looks like the Australian leg of the tour is still on – with tickets ranging between $79 and $749  – the top price for ‘a once in a lifetime opportunity to break bread at an intimate function prior to the main event that evening with not one but two of the most influential Alt Media personalities of our generation’.  I’d never heard of them so don’t know how influential they are.

The tour blurb at Axiomatic Events:

“Australia is at a crossroads…”

Axiomatic is proud to bring Alt Media commentators and conservative activists STEFAN MOLYNEUX & LAUREN SOUTHERN to Australia and New Zealand in 2018 for a free speech evening of stories, opinions, inspiration and Q&A.

Stefan Molyneux is the host of Freedomain Radio, the largest and most popular philosophy show in the world, with half a billion views, downloads and book sales. He is an in-demand public speaker, best-selling author and incisive interviewer. Stefan Molyneux has hosted many public intellectuals and debates on his show, from Noam Chomsky to Jordan Peterson.

Rejecting left/right political clichés, Stefan Molyneux builds rational arguments from first principles, combining a respect for self-ownership with the morality of the non-aggression principle to build a truly peaceful vision for humanity’s future. From peaceful parenting to politics, from objective ethics to emotions, Stefan Molyneux brings the clarity and passion of philosophy to a wide variety of personal, political and social challenges.

Lauren Southern is a Canadian journalist, political activist, documentary filmmaker and best selling author. She is well known for her commentary on feminism, free speech, and immigration.  Whether it’s the riots in Berkeley, Slut Walk in LA, Black Lives Matter uprising in Milwaukee, and most recently the farm murders in South Africa.

In 2015 Lauren ran as a Libertarian Party candidate in the Canadian federal election. Soon after, she was hired by Rebel Media, where she worked until March 2017. Since then, she has been working independently through her YouTube channel which has over a half million followers. Known for her fearless reporting, she  tackles stories that the mainstream media refuses to cover.  She is a lover of freedom and hedgehogs.

Tickets:

  • $79 general admission to “hear speeches by world leading commentators and justice activists”
  • $99 early admission (a few minutes early to get better seats)
  • $199 meet & greet ‘strictly limited to 40 people at each event for half an hour backstage access prior to the show’
  • $499 VIP meet & greet “10 people will get to spend an extra 15 minutes in the Meet & Greet, plus get a swag of personally signed, awesome merchandise”
  • $749 dinner and early admission “opportunity to break bread at an intimate function prior to the main event that evening with not one but two of the most influential Alt Media personalities of our generation”

I wouldn’t be surprised if ticket sales were a factor in the quick cancellation of the Auckland event.

But if you really want to listen to them live you can book tickets for Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, Sydney or Brisbane for later this month.

US-China trade war escalates

The on again, off again trade war between the US and China is escalating, with more tariff threats from both countries.

Trump aims to hit China as tit-for-tat tariff war erupts

A top U.S. trade adviser said China has underestimated President Trump’s resolve to press ahead with tariffs, in comments that undercut the chances of settling a looming trade war between the economic superpowers.

The threat of a growing trade conflict with China hit financial markets hard, with Beijing vowing a firm response after Trump on Monday said he would implement tariffs on an additional $200 billion of imports from China if Beijing went ahead with reprisals over an initial set of U.S. tariffs.

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, a sharp critic of Chinese trade actions, said China has more to lose from any trade war.

“The fundamental reality is that talk is cheap,” Navarro told reporters on a conference call, again accusing China of “predatory” trade policies.

When it comes to stoking a major trade war talk could be quite expensive to both countries, and potentially to others including New Zealand.

The threat of new tariffs against China pits the world’s two largest economies against each other and looks set to disrupt global supply chains for the tech and auto industries, two sectors that rely heavily on outsourced components.

In total, Trump has now threatened up to $450 billion in Chinese imports with tariffs, including another $200 billion in Chinese goods if Beijing retaliates after the step Trump announced on Monday.

Mounting concerns over the U.S.-China dispute sent global stock markets skidding and weakened both the dollar and the Chinese yuan on Tuesday. Shanghai stocks plunged to two-year lows.

The Dow Jones is still trading in the US Tuesday and is currently down 1.18% for the day. That isn’t a drastic drop.

This could all have significant impact in this part of the world – From the Aussie to soybeans and cars: what’s at risk in a trade war?

The Aussie dollar takes a thumping, soybean prices swing and German carmaker shares are stuck in reverse.

Countries with open economies reliant on global trade are most at risk when disputes over international commerce hit.

The Australian dollar ticks those boxes. Australia counts China as its biggest trading partner and its currency is heavily correlated to global growth. Many investors see the currency, known as the Aussie, as a better global trade bellwether than the Canadian dollar, which has been buffeted by negotiations over NAFTA, the North American trade pact.

This week, the Aussie fell to its lowest level in 13 months, and the positioning of options signal more weakness ahead.

If Australia is badly affected that must have an impact here. New Zealand is also at risk directly with US and Chinese trade upheaval.

EU to start trade talks with New Zealand, Australia

The European Union has announced it will open trade talks with new Zealand and Australia in June.

Reuters: EU agrees to start Australia, New Zealand trade talks

European Union countries cleared the way on Tuesday for the bloc to begin free trade talks with Australia and New Zealand in a drive to forge new alliances as trade tensions with the United States increase.

The European Commission, which negotiates on behalf of the 28 EU members, said EU trade chief Cecilia Malmstrom would visit both countries to open talks in June before negotiators convene in Brussels in July for a first round of discussions.

The EU forecasts that ambitious and comprehensive agreements could boost its exports to the two countries by a third in the long term, although there are caveats about opening up EU markets to farm produce such as butter and beef.

The bloc is the third largest trade partner of both Australia and New Zealand.

Trade Minister David Parker: EU and New Zealand to start free trade talks

A free trade deal between New Zealand and the European Union (EU) has taken a major step forward with the announcement overnight that the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council has approved its negotiating mandate.

Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker has welcomed the news, saying it opens the way for a free trade deal with one of the largest economies in the world that will boost jobs and incomes.

“Credit must go to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern whose strong advocacy for New Zealand’s interests during her recent trip to Europe helped tip the balance,” David Parker said.

“It is also an endorsement of our strong backing for the talks as the next priority on our extensive free trade agenda, that includes the CPTPP, the Pacific Alliance and RCEP.

“These negotiations offer significant economic gains for New Zealand and the EU. They are an example of like-minded countries working together at a time when the world faces a rising tide of protectionism,” David Parker said.

“The EU is our third largest trading partner, with two-way trade worth more than $20 billion. Even excluding the UK, our trade with the EU is worth about $16 billion annually.

“Our recently-announced inclusive and progressive Trade for All agenda aims to benefit all citizens – an approach in line with the EU.

“At the start of negotiations, we’ll be releasing a package of information outlining our negotiating priorities for this agreement and how we will be engaging with New Zealanders as negotiations progress,” David Parker said.

A good step in the right direction with the EU on trade, but with 28 countries involved it will take some time to negotiate and approve, if successful.