Red Alert

Posts Tagged ‘David Cameron’

The right wing agenda

Posted by on May 22nd, 2013

*Update to post. It’s fair enough that the comments are focussing on why I’m not support this or that. I highlighted and bolded one issue that I could definitely support. I didn’t highlight others that I thought needed discussion because I didn’t outright support them. But have subsequently done so. I do however think the discussion should be about the impact of the agenda and not about what I think.

On the 4 April, in the great stone-and-glass National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, luminaries descended to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), Australia’s leading free-market think-tank.

Tickets to the gala dinner cost a minimum of AU$500 (£340) per head, and an auction to raise funds for the IPA featured prizes including a guided tour of the Reagan Ranch in California and a behind the scenes Fox News “experience” in New York City, including a meeting with host Bill O’Reilly . Among the speakers were Rupert Murdoch, journalist Andrew Bolt, billionaire mining magnate Gina Rinehart, and a man named Tony Abbott, Leader of the Opposition.

Tony Abbott, Gina Rinehart and Rupert Murdoch took turns sharing the stage. Andrew Bolt (a conservative columnist for the Melbourne Herald Sun) was MC. By accounts, Abbott praised his fellow key-note speakers, especially Murdoch, and promised the crowd a “big yes” to many of the think tank’s list of 75 policies to radically transform Australia.

It is worth remembering that Tony Abbott and his conservative Liberal Party, David Cameron and the UK Conservatives and John Key and the National Party are all advised by the PR gurus Crosby Textor.

It’s also important to note that this dinner and the following ideas were the brain children of a right wing think tank. But it’s no coincidence that these three men and their parties share much of the following agenda. I wonder how many of these ideas (which have relevance here) will find their way into National’s agenda if they win another government term? I have marked the  ideas which I think have merit.

  • Means-test Medicare
  • Eliminate family tax benefits
  • Abandon the paid parental leave scheme
  • Abolish the Baby Bonus
  • Abolish the First Home Owners’ Grant
  • Repeal plain packaging for cigarettes and rule it out for all other products, including alcohol and fast food
  • Repeal the alcopops tax
  • Reject proposals for compulsory food and alcohol labelling
  • Repeal the Fair Work Act
  • Allow individuals and employers to negotiate directly terms of employment that suit them
  • Introduce a single rate of income tax
  • Return income taxing powers to the states
  • Cut company tax to 25 per cent
  • Cease subsidising the car industry
  • Abolish the Foreign Investment Review Board
  • Abolish the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
  • Abolish the Office for Film and Literature Classification
  • End local content requirements for Australian television stations
  • Break up the ABC and put out to tender each individual function
  • Devolve environmental approvals for major projects to the states
  • End mandatory disclosures on political donations
  • End all corporate welfare and subsidies by closing the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education
  • Immediately halt construction of the National Broadband Network and  privatise any sections that have already been built
  • Privatise Australia Post, Medibank and SBS
  • Halve the size of the Coalition front bench from 32 to 16
  • Reduce the size of the public service from current levels of more than 260,000 to at least the 2001 low of 212,784
  • Slash top public servant salaries
  • Force government agencies to put all of their spending online in a searchable database
  • Repeal the carbon tax, and don’t replace it (if it is replaced by another costly scheme, most of the benefits will be undone).
  • Abolish the Department of Climate Change
  • Abolish the Clean Energy Fund and repeal the renewable energy target
  • Withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol
  • Repeal the mining tax
  • Privatise the CSIRO and the Snowy-Hydro Scheme
  • Abolish the Commonwealth Grants Commission
  • Introduce fee competition to Australian universities
  • Means test tertiary student loans
  • Repeal the National Curriculum
  • Introduce competing private secondary school curricula
  • Reintroduce voluntary student unionism at universities
  • Introduce a voucher scheme for secondary schools
  • Abolish the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)
  • Eliminate ‘balance’ laws for radio and television broadcasters
  • Abolish television spectrum licensing and devolve spectrum management to the common law
  • Eliminate media ownership restrictions
  • Cease funding the Australia Network
  • Rule out government-supported or mandated internet censorship
  • End public funding to political parties
  • Introduce voluntary voting
  • End media blackout in final days of election campaigns
  • Formalise a one-in, one-out approach to regulatory reduction
  • Legislate a cap on government spending and tax as a % of GDP
  • Legislate a balanced budget amendment which limits the size of budget deficits and the period the government can be in deficit
  • Allow people to opt out of superannuation in exchange for promising to forgo any government income support in retirement
  • Encourage independent contracting by overturning new regulations designed to punish contractors
  • End all hidden protectionist measures, such as preferences for local manufacturers in government tendering
  • Remove all tariff and non-tariff barriers to international trade
  • Remove anti-dumping laws
  • Deregulate the parallel importation of books
  • End preferences for Industry Super Funds in workplace laws
  • Privatise the Australian Institute of Sport
  • Rule out federal funding for 2018 Commonwealth Games
  • End all public subsidies to sport and the arts
  • Eliminate the National Preventative Health Agency
  • End all government funded ‘Nanny State’ advertising
  • De-fund Harmony Day and close the Office for Youth
  • Repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act
  • Allow the Northern Territory to become a state
  • Introduce a special economic zone for northern Australia including:
    a) Lower personal income tax for residents
    b) Significantly expanded 457 Visa programs for workers
    c) Encourage the construction of dams.

Morality tale #2

Posted by on August 14th, 2011

Social order, corporate dominance vs free speech and the taming of the internet. How important is this?

Can and should governments be able to shut down social media and disable citizens access to the internet during times of social unrest? And if they can do that, what else can they do? Have a read of this:

One of the anti-riot measures recently suggested by British PM David Cameron is to prevent rioters from using Twitter and other social networking websites. Such a tactic, which was slammed as a trick resorted to only by authoritarian governments in the past, has had a great impact on world media.

The bold measure indicates that Britain is at its wit’s end on how to stop the country’s worst riots in decades.

Cameron’s suggestion to block social networking websites smashes basic concepts of freedom of speech in the West, which always takes the moral high ground in criticizing the reluctant development of Internet freedom in developing countries.

The violence has brought a comprehensive and diverse influence on the whole of the West. Created by globalization and the development of the Internet, the headache of governance suffered by developing countries has now spread to their developed peers.

Democracy and freedom of speech should have their pragmatic connotations and denotations. The Chinese edition website of the Financial Times carried an article on Friday titled “What is the bottom line of freedom of speech?” Fanned by the rapid development of the Internet, the requirement for freedom of speech is trespassing the boundaries of the current political system in the West, it warned.

I wrote a post in January about this after the riots in Egypt when the government attempted to shut down the internet. Back then it seemed unthinkable that a western democracy would contemplate such a thing. But in the UK that’s what’s now being discussed.

There is a much wider context to this debate. It’s called net neutrality. And yes, it’s about power and vested interests. So watch out.

Net neutrality is the guiding principle that preserves the free and open Internet. Net Neutrality means that Internet service providers may not discriminate between different kinds of content and applications online. It guarantees a level playing field for all Web sites and Internet technologies. But all that could change.

I believe any government should be very very careful before it rushes out in the heat of the moment promising to shut down communication channel in order to preserve social order.  Doing that affects all of us. And some fundamental principles upon which our society and our political system is built.


Morality tale #1

Posted by on August 14th, 2011

Have come across some interesting pieces in the last couple of days on the issues arising from the UK riots.

The first was written by Peter Oborne, the Daily Telegraph’s chief political commentator.

He writes:

Something has gone horribly wrong in Britain. If we are ever to confront the problems which have been exposed in the past week, it is essential to bear in mind that they do not only exist in inner-city housing estates.

The culture of greed and impunity we are witnessing on our TV screens stretches right up into corporate boardrooms and the Cabinet. It embraces the police and large parts of our media. It is not just its damaged youth, but Britain itself that needs a moral reformation.

Read the rest here. He’s not very complimentary about politicians from both sides of the political spectrum.

Fair enough. We are all accountable. And politicians need to try to practice what they preach, while remembering that they too are human and subject to frailty.

But as Oborne writes, the double standards are extraordinary:

The Prime Minister showed no sign that he understood that something stank about yesterday’s Commons debate. He spoke of morality, but only as something which applies to the very poor: “We will restore a stronger sense of morality and responsibility – in every town, in every street and in every estate.” He appeared not to grasp that this should apply to the rich and powerful as well.

The tragic truth is that Mr Cameron is himself guilty of failing this test. It is scarcely six weeks since he jauntily turned up at the News International summer party, even though the media group was at the time subject to not one but two police investigations. Even more notoriously, he awarded a senior Downing Street job to the former News of the World editor Andy Coulson, even though he knew at the time that Coulson had resigned after criminal acts were committed under his editorship. The Prime Minister excused his wretched judgment by proclaiming that “everybody deserves a second chance”. It was very telling yesterday that he did not talk of second chances as he pledged exemplary punishment for the rioters and looters.

These double standards from Downing Street are symptomatic of widespread double standards at the very top of our society.

Someone tweeted this piece last night saying that what Peter Oborne has written is the moral compass for our time. I reckon there’s something in that.

Hat tip: LM


Damage control

Posted by on July 9th, 2011

Just watched an Australian (part Murdoch-owned) Sky News report where The (Murdoch-owned) Australian newspaper is forced to “deny” phone hacking activities aka those undertaken by the (Murdoch-owned) News of the World (NotW) newspaper.

Interesting.

And think I agree with the Telegraph editor David Hughes (did I say that?) who thinks that the decision to close News of the World is not only about protecting News International’s chief executive Rebekah Brooks:

“Most of all, this move is designed to ensure that News Corporation’s bid for BSkyB goes ahead. That is at the heart of Murdoch’s strategy, not the fate of Britain’s best-selling red top.

The BBC has gathered a series of opinions on it which is worth a look.

Murdoch’s decision to close NotW is all about damage control. It’s certainly a disaster for him re NotW. But there’s a much bigger play happening. UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s response today yesterday to call an inquiry into the phone hacking shows just how big that play is.

David Cameron is now very exposedAndy Coulson, his former press spokesman, has been arrested  in connection with allegations of corruption and phone hacking.

Cameron has been busy covering himself. Shows what can happen when those with the levers of power over-reach themselves.

It appears the NotW demise is the fall guy. I believe they will attempt to ensure that the BSkyB network remains in Murdoch hands , but events may overtake.

Chickens coming home to roost.

Makes you wonder about our patch.

Update: And this just takes the cake. Cameron, calling for an inquiry into the phone hacking, calls for the end of close relationship between politicians and the media. Only when it doesn’t suit!


London Calling #3 The Pursuit of Happiness

Posted by on November 16th, 2010

These are strange political times in the UK,  it seems that David Cameron’s Tory Government is about to implement one of the most interesting progressive policy ideas of recent times. Moving away from GDP as the only measure of a country’s success, to actually trying to measure people’s happiness and sense of well being.

Darien Fenton blogged about this last year and there has been interest in this idea for some time but it was the push by Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya Sen on behalf of Nicolas Sarkozy that has given it initiative over the last couple of years.  Essentially the Stiglitz concept is about developing measures for the value (and degradation) of all resources, physical and human.  They have proposed reporting on the state of the environment, the equality of incomes, the quality of public services, free services provided within a family or community and the contentment of ordinary citizens.  Its not just Stiglitz and Sarkozy of course, for example Simon Upton is leading some parallel work in the environment directorate at the OECD

 Just how much of this the Cameron government will take up is not yet known.  As the article above notes this is a tricky time in UK politics to be measuring the public mood in the face of massive budget cuts and increased charges.  So, good on them for looking at it.

Why is this important work? Because while GDP has the advantage of being a clear and consistent measure, and tells us about the economic value of goods and services generated in our country, it says nothing about the real impact of the economy and how it interacts with social, environmental and other goals.  After the global financial crisis it is clear that simple measures of economic growth can hide all manner of ills.  To put it another way, as the old story goes, there is nothing so good for GDP as a war.

Of course the ideas are not without their critics or weaknessses.  Some have suggested that if these measures are to become an international index it will put barriers in the path of developing countries achieving greater levels of development.  A major challenge will also be how to integrate a different measure into policy making and be able to demonstrate the links between particular policies and happiness. Moreover, the challenge still remains to create  the jobs that support environmental and social issues as well as more traditional economic goals.  But that is the big challenge of our times, and measuring a broader range of factors is a good first step.


TransTasman on Key

Posted by on May 13th, 2010

According to TransTasman, generally a blinkered supporter of the Nacts, this description of David Cameron from the Guardian could also be a portrait of John Key.

He travels ideology-lite, with pragmatism bred in the bone. When he has drifted into ideology… he has sounded wooden and waffly. When he has advocated a specific policy….he has been plodding. But when glad-handing his way across the political spectrum he is all thing to all men.


Smile and Wave- Its Spreading!

Posted by on May 12th, 2010

This from the Guardian this morning(UK time).

8.41am:
David Cameron arrived at Number 10 just before 8am. Asked how he was feeling he just smiled and gave a small wave, according to the Press Association.

Oh no, its spreading around the globe…. 

Next thing we know Cameron will be telling the world how “relaxed” he is.