Late last year, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian proposed four routes for high speed rail (HSR) into Sydney:
A high speed rail project Premier Gladys Berejiklian has committed to start work on if she wins the state election could cost $100 billion…
“A reasonable figure would be $100 billion in Australian dollars to build it,” [Committee for Sydney Director of Advocacy James Hulme] said…
Ms Berejiklian announced yesterday that the government would spend $4.6 million investigating four possible high speed rail routes that stretched to Canberra, Goulburn, Newcastle, Gosford, Wollongong and Nowra…
High speed rail would cut the commute time between Sydney and Canberra from over four hours to just one.
A report by the Committee for Sydney concluded that creating a greater connection between Sydney and these regional centres would lead to $75 billion in “housing affordability improvements”.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has been given a first-hand look at Germany’s high-speed rail network, which if adopted in the state, could slash commuting times to Sydney by 75 per cent…
She said she was impressed by the smooth-running service – which reaches speeds of 300km/h – and could provide a blueprint for a future new NSW network.
“It’s certainly much faster and much smoother (than compared with NSW),” she told 9News…
The high speed train completed the 600kms journey in less than four hours compared with six hours for a conventional service…
The NSW Government wants to start a similar service across the state, with the promise of faster commute times…
It has flagged four future high-speed rail serviceswithin 300 kms of Sydney that would slash travel times by 75 per cent…
The journey from Canberra to Sydney would take just one hour, while Sydney to Newcastle would be only 45 minutes and Sydney to Wollongong 30 minutes.
But the planned new service has not been costed and Ms Berejiklian admits it could take years to build.
Gladys’ HSR vision contains a major roadblock: the massive cost of getting from the outskirts of Sydney into the CBD.
These trains are not compatible with suburban commuter trains unless they slow to the same slow speeds due to alignment and congestion, in which case they are no longer HSR.
Further, the current commuter train system in Sydney is already at capacity and cannot cope with existing demands, let alone imposing a HSR network.
This means HSR would need to be separated from the existing commuter network via new train lines and stations.
And since Sydney is already build-out, this would necessarily require acquiring some of the most expensive capital city real estate in the world or tunnelling under it, either of which would cost a small fortune. Moreover, the geography north of Sydney is incredibly hilly, thus requiring a series of expensive additional tunnels.
Indeed, the German representative in the 9News videostated that it needed to build its HSR line from scratch:
“Basically, we built a completely new stretch of track. Only by having a completely new line built we were really able to straighten the line and achieve higher speeds”.
Finally, the claim by the Committee of Sydney that creating a greater connection between Sydney and these regional centres would lead to $75 billion in “housing affordability improvements” is laughable.
Housing affordability could be ‘solved’ with the stroke of a pen and at zero cost to taxpayers by slashing immigration. As noted by the NSW Treasury in November: (PAYWALL: AFR: ‘Lower migration will reduce house prices, NSW warned’.
Housing Prices and Migration Flows, a NSW Treasury document obtained by The Australian Financial Review, shows Sydney and national house prices would be lower than the forecast trajectory due to fewer migrants.
Under one scenario modelled, a temporary reduction in annual net overseas migration to Australia of 64,000 over five years would cause national house prices to be 7.8 per cent lower and NSW house prices to be 6.8 per cent weaker than a business-as-usual “baseline”.
*Insteadof making Sydney’s population roughly double in 50 years by force-feeding mass immigration, how about slashing Australia’s immigration intake back to the historical average of 70,000 from circa 200,000 currently, thereby forestalling the need for expensive new infrastructure projects like HSR?
IT would appear that Ralan Group and the NSW Liberal Government have a history shared back to 2014 …. ‘Labor shadow minister Adam Searle told the February 12 protest that legislation to establish a building trust fund was passed through the NSW parliament nearly six months ago, but “the state government has not proclaimed the act.” ‘
Related Article shared recently on the Ralan Group.
Steve Nolan’s collapse affects about 200 workers and their families.
A builder who donated $200,000 to the Liberal Party last year has gone into administration owing sub-contractors and suppliers an estimated $30 million.
The collapse of Steve Nolan Constructions affects five building sites in the northern suburbs of Lindfield, St Leonards, Roseville and Gordon, where apartment blocks are being built for developer, the Ralan Group.
The company’s collapse could have a domino effect on the sub-contractors involved, with some of the small businesses owed as much as $2 million. The collapse affects about 200 workers and their families, who are also set to lose wages and entitlements as a result of Nolan’s failure to pay, said the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU) NSW Construction branch.
About 50 workers rallied outside the Chatswood offices of Ralan Group on February 12, calling on the developer to pay money owed to contractors and workers.
CFMEU NSW construction branch assistant state secretary Rob Kera says Steve Nolan Constructions had failed to pay sub-contractors on the sites for the past few months.
*”Now we have been told Ralan Group is telling subbies to forget about the money they are owed and to just finish the job and they’ll pay them from here on,”
*Kera said. “It is outrageous to suggest that family-owned businesses suck up a $2 million loss while Ralan Group seeks to make millions of profit from the rampant housing market in Sydney.
“It is not good enough, and the CFMEU is calling on the Ralan Group to pay the debts that are owed.”
*Kera says it again highlights the urgent need for the Barry O’Farrell state government to move on the recommendations of the Collins Inquiry that called for mandatory trust funds for all development projects over $1 million.
*”Almost a year to the day that Bruce Collins QC made his recommendations on how to protect workers and sub-contractors caught in company collapses, the O’Farrell government has yet to act on major recommendations. Here we have another case where small construction businesses will go to the wall because this government continues to fiddle while Rome burns.”
*Labor shadow minister Adam Searle told the February 12 protest that legislation to establish a building trust fund was passed through the NSW parliament nearly six months ago, but “the state government has not proclaimed the act.”
The campaign to demand that Ralan Group pay the money owed to sub-contractors will continue, organisers told the workers.
“Many MPs have a concern about Australian university campuses and whether they’re both a bastion for free speech, which they need to be, but more critically the role that foreign influences like the Confucius Institutes are having — any influence over curriculum and of course the influence of foreign governments on protests,” Mr Wilson told ABC Radio.
“What we know is that around the world the influence of embassies and consulates from foreign governments can sometimes be an influence for domestic protests and we have to make sure that isn’t occurring.“
Queensland LNP senator Amanda Stoker said she believed universities were battling through a “crisis of leadership” on foreign influence.
The Canberra air was falling towards freezing when Scott Morrison walked to the apartment he shared with his closest allies for a Sunday night meeting that would define his future. It was late on August 19, 2018, and Morrison had left Parliament House moments earlier with his federal cabinet colleagues struggling to contain a crisis. He entered the modern flat, his home away from home when Parliament was sitting, to find his friends already preparing for an upheaval that would remake the government.
Morrison shut the door on the Canberra winter to join his two flatmates and fellow Liberal MPs, Steve Irons and Stuart Robert, and their tactical whiz Alex Hawke, the man they considered their “spear-thrower” because he was so brutally effective at marshalling numbers for a ballot.
They talked past midnight as they considered the deadly manoeuvres against the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, and the brazen claim, spreading through the media, that Peter Dutton, the Home Affairs Minister, already had the numbers to secure the ultimate prize in Australian politics.
*Hawke, a former army reservist who deployed his conservative Liberal Party faction like a battalion, vented his frustration at the way Dutton and his followers were dictating the terms of an imminent leadership spill. “They’re ahead of us,” he said. “We should have been expecting this.” He was anxious at the speed with which Dutton and his allies were briefing journalists and courting backbenchers. Hawke felt he should have been alive to the manoeuvring earlier.
*Robert, who had come to politics after careers as an army officer and recruitment executive, believed the divisions within the government had become so great that a leadership spill was inevitable. Malcolm is a dead man walking, he thought. Robert had initially prospered under Turnbull’s leadership, rising to Minister for Human Services, only to be dumped after a scandal over his private visit to China to attend a mining deal in Beijing involving a Liberal Party donor.
Cast out of the ministry, he had everything to gain from a leadership change. Robert calculated Dutton would move that week, most likely on Tuesday morning when the Liberals held their weekly gathering in their party room, and Australia would have a new prime minister. The implications were obvious. Morrison had to be ready to move.
The Morrison Government was born at this moment. Within days, Turnbull was holding a ballot on his own job, Dutton was bulldozing his way towards power and the Parliament was adjourned to allow the Liberal Party to wage its civil war.
The week would end with Morrison being declared the “accidental” prime minister. Except he wasn’t. Every step in his ascension could be traced to this Sunday night conferencewith the allies who would corral the numbers to make him leader.
Morrison would distance himself from their handiwork, even as he shared his victory with them.
Political correspondent David Crowe’s new book Venom reveals more details about the 2018 leadership spill and the role Scott Morrison played in bringing down a PM.
Australians were left to wonder just how this new leader had climbed through the rubble of that chaotic week, when Liberals tore down their own government and unleashed fury on themselves, and emerged to claim he had clean hands.
It was political mastery of a kind unseen in Canberra for more than a decade, and it explains why some Liberals see Morrison, 51, as the natural successor to John Howard. Christian. Conservative. Ordinary, perhaps. But crafty, too. And cunning. That is why the leadership convulsion that brought Morrison to power, one year ago this week, will have a lasting fascination in Australian politics.
Those who triumphed with Morrison are loath to speak publicly about how they did it, while those who tasted defeat with Dutton are reluctant to admit their incompetence.
In writing my book on these times, Venom: Vendettas, Betrayals and the Price of Power, I found the events littered with false storylines. The biggest was that the Dutton and Morrison camps only launched their campaigns for power after Turnbull stunned them with a sudden ballot on his own position, the critical point on the morning of Tuesday, August 21. Yet both camps were preparing long beforehand.
The four men who met that Sunday night were and remain one of the tightest groups in the Liberal Party.
Morrison and his friends had all entered Parliament in the same year, 2007, and attended Bible study and prayers every Tuesday night when in Canberra. There was no uneasiness here with Morrison’s Pentecostal faith. Their shared belief bound the four together in a world where so many politicians could change their allegiances with the weather or the polls. They were a small group but totally loyal to each other – and absolutely disciplined in a crisis.
Morrison, Robert, Hawke and Irons had worked together through the schisms of their party over more than a decade.
Robert had spoken of his friend as a future prime minister as far back as 2013, according to ministers who had watched the Morrison crew with suspicion.
Some of Morrison’s biggest supporters had asked him to replace Tony Abbott in 2015, when the knighthood for Prince Philip had shaken their confidence in him and triggered a desperate search for an alternative, but Morrison had played a longer game. Sure in the knowledge he would be treasurer in a Turnbull government, Morrison left Abbott to his fate when the leadership ballot came in September 2015. He had turned down Abbott’s invitation to run for the deputy’s position. He had voted for Abbott, in a public show of loyalty, while his friends threw all their force behind Turnbull. Now, not even three years later, the same ambiguity emerged over Morrison’s loyalties – only this time he would not leave the leadership for others.
As morning broke after their Sunday night conference, Morrison and his friends watched for any manoeuvre that would bring on a challenge. It did not take long for one to emerge. One of Dutton’s longstanding friends, fellow Queenslander Luke Howarth, spoke to colleagues on Monday night and again on Tuesday morning about his intention to call on Turnbull to resign.
Robert thought of this as what the army called a “feint” – a ploy to weaken Turnbull without needing Dutton to declare his hand and mount a challenge.
Meanwhile, Turnbull studied the options to corner his opponents. He knew Howarth would try to provoke him in the party room and had no intention of allowing it. Turnbull would not sit meekly while backbenchers turned to Dutton. He was awake before dawn that Tuesday to put his plan to those he could trust. He sent a message to his principal private secretary, Sally Cray, at 5.34am: Are you up?They spoke soon afterwards about a plan Turnbull had already put to his wife, Lucy, to force his opponent into the open.
Turnbull wanted to call a leadership ballot on his own terms. He would use the Liberal meeting at nine o’clock that morning to tell colleagues the time had come to settle the doubts over his position.
This meant declaring the leadership open and allowing a call for candidates. One option for the entire parliamentary party was to show loyalty and confirm Turnbull in his position.
But Turnbull was also inviting danger. A vote would be held if an alternative candidate rose.
Turnbull had only a few hours before the meeting to call his colleagues and test their views. Telling them of his plan would go too far because the word would reach Dutton and his supporters. The conversations, in about 20 phone calls, were general but the question was obvious. Would you support me? Turnbull seemed confident he had a majority.
“I believe you are with Dutton,” Turnbull told Robert when he called him at 7.13am. Robert rubbished the idea. He told Turnbull the Morrison group was behind him. “We’re all supporting you,” he said.
The reality was not so simple – some members of the wider Morrison bloc were quietly prepared to vote for Dutton. They were giving up on Turnbull after his long slump in the opinion polls, his inability to unify the party on policies such as climate change and his failed campaign to win the Longman byelection in Queensland weeks earlier. But Robert’s assurance eased Turnbull’s mind.
In another call, Turnbull told Hawke he believed he had support from more than 50 of the 85 members of the Liberal party room.Hawke told him this was wrong and his support was only in the high 40s – dangerously close to failure. How could Hawke be so sure? The PM and his team were not the only ones counting the numbers.
At 9am, Turnbull stood at the front of the party room in his position as leader and chair of the meeting. He spoke briefly – so briefly, in fact, that MPs had trouble remembering his words.
Then came the thunderbolt: he wanted a vote on the leadership to stop the speculation. Howarth began to stand to make the speech he had been preparing all night, but he was too late. Turnbull had started the formal process for a ballot. There were no speeches at a time like this: party tradition dictated a vote with few words. In a symbolic demonstration that the leadership was vacant, Turnbull left his place at the front of the room, his traditional location facing the assembled MPs, and walked to a seat in the front row.
There was a call for nominations. Turnbull stood. There was a pause. Dutton rose from his chair. There was a groan from some in the room. This moment shattered the fragile concord that kept the government together. Watching this without saying a word, some cabinet ministers were utterly shocked despite the long period of speculation and positioning toward exactly this decision.
Liberals waited with a sense of dread until the numbers came: 48 votes for Turnbull, 35 for Dutton. A murmur seemed to go around the room, as if a collective thought was given voice. Only eight votes in it. There were 85 Liberals in the party room but one had abstained and another was absent.
A second challenge was almost certain now that Dutton had made his fateful decision and the numbers were so close. Everyone knew it. History showed that challengers who failed at first could retreat to the backbench and strike again, just as Paul Keating had done against Bob Hawke decades earlier.
For Dutton, there was no turning back. He would look weak to his conservative colleagues, and his barrackers in the media, if he gave up now. Liberals dispersed quickly and the opposing camps weighed up their options in this dangerous new dynamic.
The Morrison camp gathered immediately in Alex Hawke’s office. Into the room came Robert, Irons and others, all of them knowing this ballot settled nothing. Hawke suspected at first that Dutton would challenge again in a fortnight, but he soon thought again. Hawke began to war game a second ballot to be held within days. He formalised his preparations with a WhatsApp messaging group, called The Project, with a membership that included Morrison, Hawke, Robert, Irons, and others over time.
There was no doubt some of Morrison’s supporters helped bring on this crisis. Members of the group estimated five of their 15 had deserted Turnbull and sided with Dutton in the Tuesday vote.
The Morrison camp portrayed the votes for Dutton that morning as spontaneous.To others they looked strategic – and devastating for Turnbull.
“Votes were split and spread and there was nothing co-ordinated,” Robert said later. “It was more shock than anything. When you spring it on people, they don’t have time to think. Nobody had planned anything because nobody thought he would be so stupid as to call a spill.”
Robert was able to send a text message to Morrison during the meeting but he denied trying to add to the numbers for Dutton. His account, long after the events, was that he had been waiting for Howarth to launch a denunciation of the leader and did not expect the leader to call a vote. “Malcolm established a crisis,” Robert said. “Dutton was trying to establish one. Malcolm established it for him. It wasn’t just a mistake. It was a horrendous mistake.”
Morrison’s group had the opportunity to encourage the Dutton challenge, weaken Turnbull and clear the way for their preferredleader to emerge.
Turnbull had arranged by 8.30am to tell the chief whip to prepare for a ballot, a piece of strategic information of immense value that morning.
The fact that one of Morrison’s allies, Bert van Manen, was a deputy whip, and therefore had access to more information than others, only deepened the suspicions that Morrison’s allies came to the ballot with an intent to force change. This required a level of co-ordination they all dismissed. Yet there was no question that about five of them – the precise number was conjecture – had helped tip the party room over the edge.
One Liberal encountered Irons in a Parliament House corridor in the hours after the vote. The Morrison ally did not look unhappy at the day’s events. “You know this is just the start. It’s not over,” he said.
One man had more power than most to control this agitated party room. The Finance Minister, Mathias Cormann, was shocked and angry at Turnbull’s tactics. Cormann, a man who had arrived from Belgium decades earlier and worked his way to the top of Australian politics, was one of the government’s most senior and reliable ministers, yet he struggled now to choose between stability or revolt.
Cormann and Dutton were so close they walked every morning at dawn when Parliament was sitting so they could keep fit and talk politics on their way up Canberra’s Red Hill. This made Cormann the natural intermediary to broker a peace agreement between the two leadership contenders, but the negotiations ended in an impasse over whether Dutton might serve as Turnbull’s deputy. It was an idea that appealed to Cormann but led to recriminations later when Dutton and Turnbull each accused the other of suggesting it first.
Sally Cray implored Cormann to steady the ship. As a confidante who had worked for Turnbull for years, in government or not, she was loyal to him at every stage. She and her fellow adviser, David Bold, made a crucial visit to Cormann to try to keep the government together.
This meeting, never before disclosed, was the final effort to prevent Cormann abandoning Turnbull and supporting a second challenge. It came at a critical stage when Morrison’s allies were persuading their colleagues to support him as an alternative leader.
Cray sent a message to Cormann to argue against the idea that Turnbull should resign to allow an orderly transition to the declared challenger. You do know if MT resigns that ScoMo will win, she wrote to Cormann at 10.56am on Wednesday.
The Prime Minister’s allies were still confident he had enough support to see off another challenge from Dutton in a second ballot that week, but they also calculated the party room would elect Morrison over Dutton if given the choice. The Home Affairs Minister was the hard face of controversial policies, not least offshore detention for asylum seekers, and considered too divisive for many Liberals outside his home state of Queensland.
Cray and Bold visited Cormann in his office that Wednesday to urge him to be more sceptical of Dutton’s claims. Cormann offered a simple message: I can’t hold back the tide. Cormann thought Turnbull was finished because the party was riven – and because Dutton would not stop.
It was 11.11am. Within the hour Cormann would visit Turnbull to tell him he should resign and allow Dutton to take his place. This was the vital moment when the energy and discipline of the Morrison camp put the leadership within reach. Morrison’s allies were moving more quickly than the Dutton camp had calculated. Robert told Morrison he could not stand on the sidelines. “The national interest requires you to run,” he said. “They’re coming after Malcolm. It doesn’t stop.”
Morrison did not want to authorise an open attempt to gain votes. He did not give “permission” for a recruitment drive, but his closest friends in Parliament did not need to wait for his blessing.
The leadership rivals circled each other while a media debate raged over the government’s chaos. The idea of a combined ticket, with Dutton and Morrison joining forces, came up briefly on Thursday morning when the two men met in the office of Christopher Pyne, the leader of the moderate wing.
Dutton put the question: “Is there an agreement to be struck here or not?” The numbers gave Dutton an advantage, given his conservative bloc numbered at least twice that of Morrison’s personal following, but neither man was interested in serving as the other’s deputy. There was no bond between them.Morrison had kept his distance from Dutton for years.
United, they could claim an easy victory. As rivals, they could not be sure of their chances.
Their conversation ended and they went their separate ways. Dutton had to find more supporters while preventing anyone deserting his cause.
Morrison could only succeed if he had the moderate wing of the party by his side, an unlikely prospect when so many moderates recoiled from his conservative social views – like the fact he’d not voted for same-sex marriage even when it was approved by the Australian public in a postal survey, while more pragmatic ministers like Dutton voted in Parliament to put the national “Yes” vote into effect.
Again, though, Morrison confounded his rivals. He not only secured support from Pyne and the moderates, but convinced one of Turnbull’s own allies to help.
Craig Laundy, heir to a pub empire stretching from Sydney to country NSW, felt wretched as he watched his colleagues desert their Prime Minister.
Laundy had helped elevate Turnbull in 2015 and would support him to the end, but he also wanted to ensure Dutton did not prevail. That meant helping Morrison.
Laundy joined a war council in Hawke’s office on the afternoon of Thursday, August 23. In the room were Robert, Irons, van Manen and other Morrison supporters.
Name by name, Hawke and Robert read out a list of MPs and discussed how they thought they had voted in the secret ballot on Tuesday and how they might vote in a second challenge.
Laundy found himself disagreeing over the names they claimed had voted for Dutton but would switch to Morrison. He told the group that one MP they mentioned was “100 per cent” with Turnbull on Tuesday.
Robert disagreed with a smile. “You’ve now worked out we haven’t always been on the same team,” he said, in Laundy’s account of this exchange.
Laundy fell silent. He pondered how this group could be so sure they had a cohort of MPs who would vote for Dutton in one ballot and move to Morrison a few days later.
“I felt sick in the guts,” he said later. “It would be fair to say I was in shock.”
He walked back to the Prime Minister’s suite, entered Cray’s office, shut the door behind him and spoke: “We’ve been played.” Laundy believed the Morrison lieutenants were not just speculating on names but knew with precision that a group of MPs had backed Dutton when they were loyal to Morrison.
This explained why the support for Turnbull was softer on Tuesday than Laundy had expected and why Dutton had gained 35 votes when his opponents thought he could not secure more than 30.
From this sprang the suspicion that Morrison had given his supporters approval, either tacit or explicit, to abandon the PM.
“I wasn’t shocked,” Cray said of this moment when asked about it later. “It was just confirmation of something I already sensed.” Bold, who was also in the office when Laundy returned from the meeting, had the same response. “It wasn’t like it came as a complete surprise,” he said later. They had all seen Morrison profess loyalty to Abbott as leader in 2015 when his supporters voted for the challenger.
*Why would he not do it again?
Robert denied trying to co-ordinate votes on Tuesday to build up Dutton’s numbers and make a second challenge inevitable. “The idea that you could inflate the numbers on a snap call is nuts,” he said. Even so, Morrison’s lieutenants had planned carefully to build their numbers while Turnbull was still leader.
Robert saw this as seeking the best outcome for the party: Morrison as prime minister.
To others it looked like treachery – and they claimed more proof of it when some of Morrison’s supporters, those who claimed to be with Turnbull, signed a petition to force the second ballot once it was clear Morrison was running.
The second ballot, held at lunchtime on Friday, shattered Laundy and other Turnbull allies.
Themotion to remove the Prime Minister was carried by 45 to 40 votes.
*Turnbull had lost by a margin so narrow it shocked many of those in the room. Three votes were enough to make the difference. The big lie of the week, that Turnbull had lost his majority days earlier, was exposed. He would have kept his majority if Cormann and other ministers, such as Mitch Fifield and Michaelia Cash, had stood by him.
It would have been a narrow majority, not enough to prevent another battering from Dutton, but it might have given Turnbull time.
The Liberals walked from their party room in a state of exhaustion, some of them gutted by the infighting, while others were relieved at the rise of their new leader.
Dutton and Cormann were stony-faced as they left the room. Cormann was diminished. The Liberals who had trusted his judgment wondered how he had misread the support for Dutton and brought on a stampede. Was he really the safe pair of hands they had thought?
The Morrison allies who outsmarted the Dutton camp now assumed positions of influence in the new regime.
Hawke became Special Minister of State, Robert became Assistant Treasurer and Irons was named an assistant minister.
There were smiles as the new ministers were sworn in, but most Liberals braced for an election disaster. Morrison alone conveyed total confidence in his capacity to win.Voters flayed the government in the published polls but the Liberal Party’s polling showed a slim chance of success: a narrow path to victory to be studied in dozens of meetings over months.
Like a goat track to a summit, the path was so difficult it could only be traversed in the best weather. The Coalition would need to win at least two seats from Labor, stem its losses in Melbourne and hold ground in Queensland and Western Australia. All this seemed unlikely, even outlandish, when the research was so dire, but there was only one way forward. The climb began.
Josh Frydenberg, declared the deputy leader with a thumping majority, chose the Treasury portfolio and tried to calm a rattled party room. He invited Morrison and his wife, Jenny, to dinner at his Melbourne home with his wife, Amy. Even small things like a home-cooked meal meant something after the hostilities of August.
Political leaders and their deputies are not always close but the two new leaders worked at it, to the point where Morrison asked Frydenberg to stay in a spare room in Kirribilli House when in Sydney for work.
Yet the words that defined the outcome were those of Morrison himself. The difference was not in the number of seats won but in the expectations for each leader.
Morrison appeared before a cheering crowd at midnight to declare the result was a win for the “quiet Australians” who aspired to work hard and do better in life.
Nobody could be sure who these quiet Australians were – by income, suburb, profession or belief – because they could be anybody and everybody.
Morrison, the cunning politician and suburban everyman, claimed the victory for a group of supporters only he could define.
This was a victory to savour for Morrison and the tight group of friends who had put him on his path to the prime ministership on that Sunday night the previous winter. They had shown themselves to be a political unit that could outmanoeuvre any opponent.
*Abbott was voted out of Parliament, while Turnbull left to write his memoirs. Dutton and Cormann kept their positions but lost power and prestige.All had fallen or failed, while the Morrison crew had prospered at every stage.
Robert rose to cabinet, Irons moved on to the frontbench’s lower rungs and Hawke gained a ministry with responsibilities in defence and the Pacific.
Morrison himself cemented his hold on power by amending the Liberal rules for spills. Any leader who wins an election can only be removed by a “super majority” of 66 per cent of the party room, up from a simple majority.
Perhaps this will end the cycle. Perhaps it will give dissenters a more challenging target when fostering unrest. No rule can stop a subterranean conflict. Given a higher threshold, those intent on their own advancement might resort to more vicious tactics, more public disloyalty, more briefing to the media, more aggression to achieve their ends. The rules adjust the price of power, not the hunger for it.
David Crowe is chief political correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. His book Venom: Vendettas, Betrayals and the Price of Power (HarperCollins, $35) is out August 19. Click here for more information.
GetUp and very many supporters hit back .. and remind the PM … of all that has been stuffed up …
SOME gems from among the comments … 584 at last count!
-I wouldn’t worry about
GetUp Scotty, I’d worry about the general public.
– Morrison’s outrage
against GetUp is that long-noted loathing of the ‘petty bourgeois’ against any
who would want to unsettle the status quo, especially if they’re from the
undeserving ranks of the great unwashed (i.e., the left). The mess he made of
the Pacific Forum is proof that the urgent global issues of our day are way
above his head, hence his attempts to make us turn inwards to our own little
worlds. And the empty words he uses to cover up are so transparent. We need
someone who has what it takes!
-This is a very worrying development, but it is also a distraction (like A Jones’ sock comment) from the policy failures of the Liberal-IPA coalition. I do not have anything to do with Getup! and they do not figure in my cogitations. They are irrelevant. I also think that the influence of groups like Getup! is over blown. The reason? They lack the clandestine access to power of groups like the IPA, which refuse to reveal their funders and membership, Unlike Getup! which is transparent. The Liberal party is merely the political arm of the IPA.
In a democracy any group can have a rant. But it must face scrutiny. As it stands, the IPA and the plethora of other right and extreme right “think” tanks do not.
The Liberals want to stop scrutiny. They use the instruments of state to attack their opponents (the AFP (M Cash), ASIO, Parliamentary committees – (T Wilson?). As for accusing Getup! of being misogynistic – well any member of the Liberal party would know about that. I really do fear for our democracy now.
-While you’re at it Morrison you can “treat” The
Institute of Public Affairs, The Mining Council & various other
Conservative organisations as arms of the Liberal Party…
…Hey, why not include News
Corp & the United Australia Party as well.
-Australians “have a go” through GetUp , now theyre going to get a “going over” by Morrison.
Or so he thinks.
Someone far smarter and more astute than Morrison may whisper in his ear about the absolute political stupidity of this idea.
Does Morrison really think that this obvious diversionary attack on GetUp will interest most Australians , who are daily confronted with issues which are much more pressing and which are not being addressed by this government?
The next election is supposedly 3 years away.
But go ahead Morrison , go after GetUp, then go after the IPA, and Advance Australia and any other group which involves itself in politics in Australia these days. See how much more public money your Liberal Party can waste on its ideological agenda.
Someone in the right wing of the LNP are still smarting and very upset that their erstwhile leader was shot down in flames and lost his seat at the last election , arent they?
Gee I wonder who that could be?
GetUp hits back at ‘extraordinary attack’ by the PM
Left-wing lobby group GetUp has slammed Scott Morrison for an “undemocratic attack” on the organisation, after the Prime Minister announced a new crackdown aimed at curtailing its influence before the next federal election.
Mr Morrison wants the group to be treated as an arm of Labor and the Greens and subjected to the same laws that apply to political parties.
“GetUp have to be accountable for what they say and do,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the Liberal party conference on Saturday.
“They want to be in the political space, fine, call yourself a political party. You’re against the Liberal party, we get that, that’s okay there’s no problem with that – just don’t pretend you’re independent.”
The Prime Minister would not give details of how he planned to revisit the question of GetUp’s electoral status, saying only that the government would “have more to say about it as time goes on”.
Mr Oosting said that forcing the AEC to investigate the group again would be “a political stitch-up and a waste of public money”.
“Politics belongs to everyone,” he said.
Mr Morrison said Australians knew where Liberals stood but that GetUp had not been “straight up” with the public, saying the group was now “a wolf in wolf’s clothing” after its actions in the federal election campaign.
Backbench MP Nicolle Flint recently accused GetUp and unions of “creating an environment” where abuse, harassment, intimidation and even stalking became the “new normal” in South Australian politics, but did not offer any direct evidence that GetUp officials had directly carried out that behaviour.
And he sought to link the group with an “anti-Semitic attack” on Treasurer Josh Frydenberg,although GetUp has condemned a legal challenge to the Kooyong MP’s constitutional eligibility – based on the Hungarian citizenship of his mother, who fled the Holocaust – as “beyond offensive”.
Mr Oosting said none of the events the Prime Minister referred to could be “fairly be attributed to GetUp or our supporters”.
“There is no evidence – that’s why the AEC has ruled on three occasions in our favour,” he said.
“The Prime Minister is levelling extraordinary attacks on everyday people who participated in politics this election.”
Senior Labor frontbencher Mark Butler said GetUp was “very clearly not a political party” and blamed the ongoing scrutiny on “an obsession within the hard-right of the Coalition party room”.
“They’re not running candidates,” Mr Butler said in Adelaide on Saturday.
“There are a range of other third parties that participate in Australia’s democracy and they should all be subject to appropriate regulation.”
Mr Oosting said GetUp members were “teachers and nurses, mums and dads, students and pensioners” who had spent the election campaign having “heart to heart conversations” with voters.
“Afraid of being challenged or held to account on having no policy on climate change and the lack of support for raising Newstart, [Mr Morrison] is trying to shut down democratic participation, slurring the name of everyday people participating in our politics.
“This would be the fourth attempt by the hard right to shut down independent grassroots campaigning.”
For the past two decades, Australia has been in an apartment building boom.
Governments have got out of the way, removing red tape and introducing private certification for an industry that’s worth more than $141 billion*.
But when Sydney’s Opal and Mascot Towers were evacuated because of structural cracking, the issue of defective high-rises was laid bare.
Experts have told Four Corners that the problem stretches across the country and many apartments built in the last 20 years are likely to contain some kind of defect.
So how bad could the problem be in your state? 667,394
There have been 667,394 apartments, flats or units built nationwide from the end of 2000 up until March this year, according to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
*A study by Deakin and Griffith universities also surveyed buildings in Australia’s east coast states and found more than 70 per cent had at least one defect. All were built after 2003.
The Griffith-Deakin study’s co-author, Dr Nicole Johnston, told Four Corners high-rise defects were a problem in every state and territory.
“It’s systemic and it’s infecting lots of buildings across the landscape, in all parts of the country. It’s very clear and it’s very prominent, and we’ve got a serious problem here,” she said.
“I think it’s irresponsible for any government to pretend like this is not happening in their state.”
There have been 259,580 new apartments built in NSW since 2000, according to the ABS figures.
*Ninety-seven per cent of buildings in New South Wales surveyed in the Griffith-Deakin study had at least one defect in multiple locations. The study looked at buildings built between 2003 and 2018.
*The study found that the most common type of defect was waterproofing, followed by fire safety systems.
There have been 174,896 new apartments built in Victoria since 2000, according to the ABS.
The Griffith-Deakin study looked at buildings built there between 2008 and 2017 and found that 74 per cent had defects.
There have been 143,704 new apartments built in Queensland since 2000.
The Griffith-Deakin study looked at a selection of buildings built between 2008 and 2017 in Queensland and found that 71 per cent had defects.
*Dr Johnston said when defects were found, they were generally a chronic problem across a building.
*“It’s not isolated to one type or one part of the building. It’s across multiple areas in relation to how the building is being constructed,” she said.
There have been 39,680 new apartments built in Western Australia since 2000.
*The CEO of the Property Council of Australia, Ken Morrison, is not surprised that so many apartment buildings around the country are likely to have defects.
“When you’re doing something very complicated like building a high-rise apartment building, there are going to be things which need to get fixed up,” he said
There have been 14,418 new apartments built in South Australia since 2000.
In Tasmania there have been 1,849.
And in the ACT there have been 26,116.
In the Northern Territory there have been 7,150 new apartments built since 2000.
A structural engineer, John Scott, is facing a building inquiry after nine buildings in Darwin and Palmerston were found to not comply with national construction standards.
Right now, there are plans to build close to 140,000 more apartments around the country.
*There is no guarantee these new developments will be built under the stricter regulations recommended in a report by lawyer Bronwyn Weir and former senior public servant Peter Shergold, commissioned by Australian state and federal building ministers.
The report’s 24 recommendations included a crackdown on private certification, and registration of everyone involved in the building process.
Let the World know they are liars Hong Kong Rally defies Beijing’s Threat
Hong Kong: Thousands marched in the rain with teachers towards Hong
Kong’s government house on Saturday, after an undeterred crowd of 60,000 people
chanted “Freedom for Hong Kong” at a rally in the business district on Friday
The Independent Police
Complaints Council said it had received 2000 complaints about police handling
of the ongoing protests, and 24,000 photos, videos and other evidence.
An anti-Hong Kong democracy rally turned ugly in Sydney’s CBD on Saturday, with protesters shouting jingoistic slogans and two men escorted away under police protection after they were confronted by rally attendees.
*Theprotesters, most of them believed to be migrants from mainland China, attended the rally to support Beijing’s policies in Hong Kong. The group gathered at Belmore Park about noon and marched to Sydney Town Hall, chanting “long live China”, with attendance estimates varying from 200 to 3000.
*During the protest, an elderly man holding a sign supporting freedom in Hong Kong was escorted away by police after being surrounded and verbally abused by mainland protesters.
**“He’s being protected by the police, otherwise we’d beat him to death,” a woman said in Mandarin as others cursed at him “Traitor! Traitor!”
*A man holding a Taiwanese flag was confronted by rally attendees at the tail end of the event and appeared to be grabbed around the neck by another man before he fell to the ground.
Police later broke up the fracas and escorted the man to safety.
Police said one person at the rally was taken into custody to prevent a breach of the peace and was released without charge.
*A Sydney resident who attended the rally but did not give his name, said: “Only one incident occurred where someone tried to spread disinformation but they were kicked out by the Chinese community.”
It comes after two men were moved on from protests in Melbourne today and scuffles broke out between pro and anti-democracy protesters in that city on Friday night.
*During the rally, the crowd named individual student leaders in Hong Kong and called for a crackdown. The crowd cheered: “Those in Hong Kong who don’t love HK, get the f— out! If you don’t love China, you’re our enemy! Isolate them! Get the f— out!”
*In response, someone shouted: “Hong Kong separatists are c—s!”
Many who participated in the rally were well-dressed young students angered by the protests in Hong Kong and reactions in Australia. They dubbed their rally “Hong Kong No Riot“, holding pictures of what they called “riots” in Hong Kong and condemned those in Australia who support the “rioters”.
*The organisers, including a man named Liang Junshen (Jack) who said he was a former university student in Sydney, took weeks to purchase the Chinese flags and design posters.
*However, a group on WeChat (a Chinese messaging app) where participants were mobilised was taken down days before the rally following heated political discussions that triggered concerns from Chinese censors.
Mr Liang said he was in meetings with other leaders of the rally, but denied that they had any political affiliations or was connected to Chinese officials.
*Familiar faces from previous pro-China protests were at today’s rally: a young Chinese couple who spoke at the rally had attempted to disrupt a talk at Sydney University earlier this year about China’s mass detention of the Uighur people.
*Another protester who told the crowd “if you are a separatist, I wish death upon your father”, played an active role in another pro-China rally in 2017 that was reportedly organised by the Chinese consulate in Sydney.
*A post from the state-owned Chinese newspaper The People’s Daily on Twitterportrayed the protest as a peaceful and cheerful event and posts on WeChat cast it in a similarly positive light.
*The Chinese Ambassador to Australia Cheng Jingye issued a statement on the morning of the protests in Sydney, describing protesters in Hong Kong as exhibiting “radical, violent and illegal behaviours”.
“Their behaviours have grossly trampled on the rule of law and social order in Hong Kong, seriously threatened the local residents’ life and safety, severely jeopardised Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability. No responsible government would sit idly by,” the ambassador said.
*“Hong Kong affairs are solely the internal affairs of China.”
The rally on Friday saw people supporting Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters clash with Chinese nationalists, with videos posted to social media showing the rival groups pushing one another before being separated by police.
The event was estimated to have attracted about a thousand people at its peak.
More rallies from both sides of the divide are expected in the coming weeks.
‘Our Sovereignty, our freedoms will be diminished’ … this it would seem is happening with our Title
Deeds being Our biggest EXPORT!
Does it not seem that through poooor government policies allowing so much Visa manipulation by inviting temporary Visa holders including Students, PhD Student, Investors, 10 Year Visa, Family, Parent, Guardian, Skilled Workers (formerly 457 and others) to buy our real estate to gain a Permanent Residency Visa … to boost the coffers of the residential development sector and State Governmentstamp duty coffers … that the Chinese Diaspora has grown disproportionately large? Like a Trojan Horse …
For those xenophobia phobes among us who leap upon anyone who is observant and who speaks their mind, and calls them out for racism … we recommend you read this article! We have highlighted passages!
With his controversial op-ed, Liberal backbencher Andrew Hastie set off a debate that has riven Canberra along unexpected lines. By Mike Seccombe.
HOW THE CHINA QUESTION SPLIT AUSTRALIAN POLITICS
At first Clive Hamilton did not understand the significance of what was said to him at the end of an interview he conducted for his controversial 2018 book, Silent Invasion: China’s Influence in Australia.
The interviewee was John Garnaut, a former China correspondent for the Fairfax newspapers, who would later work for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and compile, with ASIO, a classified report on the extent of Chinese influence in Australia.
Hamilton recalls that Garnaut “was one of the first people I spoke with. At the end of our meeting, he said, ‘You know, it’s important that you are writing this book, Clive.’
“I asked why, and he said, ‘Because you are from the left.’ I only understood what he meant after the book was published.”
By virtue of his background, Hamilton thought he had been inoculated to some extent against such criticism. He was, and says he still is, “proudly of the left”. His previous books championed environmentalism, debunked the climate deniers, challenged consumer capitalism and assailed the Howard government for its “systematic” dismantling of democratic institutions and its efforts to stifle dissent.
He was the founding executive director of the progressive think tank The Australia Institute and ran for federal parliament for the Greens in 2009 in the Higgins byelection, where he scored 32.4 per cent of the vote. He could not be accused of being in league with the Americans or the right-wing establishment. He had never before in his career been accused of xenophobia or racism.
By his description though, he found himself “leapt upon” by people he once thought of as being broadly on his side of the ideological divide.
“The multicultural warriors, headkickers from the right of the Labor Party, old comrades from the University of Sydney, that section of the left motivated by anti-Americanism and what I call xenophobia phobia – the fear of being accused of being racist,” he says.
*Of particular concern to Hamilton, still a member of the Greens, was that a section of his own party – the hard left “aligned with [former senator] Lee Rhiannon” – was and still is hostile to the ideas expressed in his book. He says, “They fall into the trap of accepting that any attack on the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] is an attack on the Chinese people.”
*As disconcerting as his sudden opponents, says Hamilton, were his sudden champions, many of them people with extreme right-wing views.
“Talk about strange bedfellows,” he says. “I never thought, for example, that I would appear on Andrew Bolt’s show, but I did – a couple of times.”
It was all very strange, and it has lately become stranger. Now we find Hamilton defending Andrew Hastie – former SAS soldier, committed Christian, former Tony Abbott acolyte within the Liberal Party’s hard right, an opponent of same-sex marriage and climate action – over his opinion piece in the Nine newspapers, likening China under Xi Jinping to Germany under Hitler.
“I thought Hastie’s remarks were necessary, and important coming from him … carrying the authority of his chairmanship of the PJCIS [parliamentary joint committee on intelligence and security],” Hamilton tells The Saturday Paper.
This is remarkable of itself, but even more remarkable is the fact that all across the political landscape, people are suddenly crossing the lines of ideology and party solidarity on the question of China.
Namely, how Australia should approach its relationship with the rising superpower under the leadership of President Xi.
“I AM PARTICULARLY CONCERNED ABOUT WHAT’S HAPPENING IN HONG KONG AND IN XINJIANG. BUT IT ALL NEEDS TO BE PUT INTO PERSPECTIVE. THERE IS A TENDENCY TO LINK ALL THESE ISSUES – OF WHICH THERE ARE MANY – INTO A COMMON STORY.”
Look at what has happened during the past couple of weeks, starting with Hastie’s August 8 op-ed, in which he warned against our longstanding and comfortable assumption “that economic liberalisation would naturally lead to democratisation in China”.
“That intellectual failure makes us institutionally weak,” he wrote. “If we don’t understand the challenge ahead for our civil society, in our parliaments, in our universities, in our private enterprises, in our charities – our little platoons – then choices will be made for us. Our sovereignty, our freedoms, will be diminished.
“… This was our Maginot Line. It would keep us safe, just as the French believed their series of steel and concrete forts would guard them against the German advance in 1940.”
Hastie suggested that Xi’s agenda was no less than the destruction of Western capitalism and democracy.
It was alarming – some would say alarmist – stuff, particularly because it came from the chair of the PJCIS, who was therefore privy to the thinking of Australia’s security establishment.
Hastie was quickly slapped down by people on his own side. The Christian soldier’s fellow Western Australian and political mentor, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, called the comments “clumsy and inappropriate”. Another senior Western Australian, Attorney-General Christian Porter, also demurred, saying Hastie was guilty of “oversimplifying” a complex relationship.
Trade Minister Simon Birmingham was less blunt but equally clear on ABC TV last Sunday, imploring any of his colleagues contemplating the airing of their views on sensitive foreign policy issues to ask themselves if such airing was “necessary” or “helpful”.
“There are a range of ways in which any of us can contribute, and we can do that with direct discussion with ministers and with leadership in backbench committees and other ways,” Birmingham said.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne offered soothing prattle: “There are many opportunities for both Australia and China in our bilateral relationship. It’s an important relationship underpinned by a comprehensive strategic partnership and a free trade agreement, and it benefits both countries.”
Though she acknowledged there were “differences from time to time”, Australia could “continue to manage the relationship in Australia’s best interests while protecting our sovereignty and adhering to our values”.
Despite these efforts to put a lid on it, though, Hastie found significant internal support. Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton suggested that as PJCIS chair, Hastie knew what he was talking about.
Dutton emphasised the need for Australia to guard its “sovereign right as a nation”, against external threats.
“We need to recognise the fact there is a lot happening in the cyber space at the moment, foreign interference is at an all-time high in our country.”
Dave Sharma, a backbencher who is also a former diplomat and foreign-policy wonk, and seen as a rising star in the Liberal Party, also backed Hastie, saying he was “right to ring the bell” and to “warn that our greatest vulnerability lies in our thinking”.
“Our strategy and thinking needs to reflect this shift, which is basically Hastie’s point – that we need to remove the blinkers from our eyes, recognise reality for what it is, and act accordingly,” Sharma said.
In response to this split in his party, Scott Morrison, the son of a policeman, offered variations on the old copper’s cliché: “There’s nothing to see here, folks. Move on.”
Hastie was saying “nothing new”, insisted the prime minister, noting pointedly that Hastie is “of course, not a minister”. Morrison was sure there would be no blowback from Beijing.
*Well, not yet at least, in a material sense. But the language from the Chinese embassy was ominous.
“We strongly deplore the Australian federal MP Andrew Hastie’s rhetoric on ‘China threat’ which lays bare his Cold War mentality and ideological bias,” the embassy said in a statement.*
“History has proven and will continue to prove that China’s peaceful development is an opportunity, not a threat to the world.”
Australian politicians need to view China’s development in “an objective and rational way” and promote trust “instead of doing the opposite”.
As might be expected, the Labor opposition sought to highlight the government’s discomfiture. The shadow minister for foreign affairs, Penny Wong, called for Morrison to control his troops, and ensure a “disciplined and consistent approach to the management of Australia’s relationship with China”, rather than “pandering” to his backbench.
“This government has a history of its members making ill-advised and unnecessarily inflammatory statements. This is far too important to our national interest,” Wong said.
TheLabor premiers of Western Australia and Queensland – the two big resource states – also weighed in with criticisms of Hastie.
But Labor’s attack was blunted by the reality that some in its own ranks, most notably the deputy chair of the PJCIS, Anthony Byrne, backed Hastie.
*Byrne said the concerns expressed were shared on both sides of the parliament and agreed “that we’re facing – and I think our intelligence agencies are saying – that we’re facing an unprecedented level of attempts to subvert our democracy through foreign interference and espionage”.
*And another prominent Labor figure,Senator Kimberley Kitching, joined Hastie in inviting all federal politicians to join a new group, anodynely and somewhat comically called the Parliamentary Friends of Democracy. You would hope all our democratically elected representatives are friends of democracy.
In their email, Kitching and Hastie darkly warned of the rise of “authoritarian regimes that use coercive means to pursue their strategic objectives” and encouraged their colleagues to “rise above party to defend the rule of law, democracy and the constituent freedoms that make Australia a special place to live”.
*It is clear that despite Morrison’s declaration there’s “nothing new” here, there is a great deal that is new, and the cross-party, cross-ideological outbreaks of the past couple of weeks are but a symptom of it.
Of course, it is true that Australia has long had concerns about Chinese government interference within our borders and in our region. As Richard McGregor, a China expert and fellow at the Lowy Institute, notes.
“Going back to 2012, we saw the banning of Huawei from involvement in the NBN, and more recently from the 5G communications network we passed foreign interference laws,” he says. “We’re doing the Pacific step-up, an internet cable to the Solomons, we’re planning a military base on Manus Island, we’re shoring up ties with Japan. We’ve increased the number of marines in Darwin.”
But things have become much pointier during the past couple of years.
*Under President Xi, says McGregor, the “nature of the Chinese government has become much more authoritarian.
“Xi Jinping’s China is richer than it has been for 150 years, much more powerful diplomatically, with greater military capability than ever. They can now do a lot of things they didn’t previously dare to do because they lacked the capability to do it.”
At the same time, the Trump administration in the United States has proved to be bellicose and erratic. Australia now finds itself in a precarious position – facing a trade war between our most powerful ally and our most important trading partner.
Things have changed very quickly, even if Morrison wants to say otherwise. His actions show it.
*This week at the Pacific Islands Forum in Tuvalu, the prime minister promised $500 million in extra funding to island states, as part of an increased effort to counter the Chinese influence. The money was earmarked for investment in renewable energy and “climate and disaster resilience”.
Tuvalu’s prime minister, Enele Sopoaga, dismissed Morrison’s announcement, labelling it “immoral” to give “money in a sense to people to shut up [and] not to talk about their rights to survive”.
*McGregor says the Australian government is certainly not “sitting on its hands”. Yet until Hastie’s op-ed, there was a reluctance to specifically identify China as its overriding concern.
“Politicians haven’t, at least publicly, been prepared to talk about China publicly or very often,” says Alex Joske, an analyst with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.
Instead, he says, they tended to talk about “abstract problems like foreign interference or authoritarian states, but not have detailed, specific statements about how China fits into that.
“It’s pretty clear that China is the main source of foreign interference and probably the main source of cyber espionage and technology they have in Australia.”
And while Joske is pleased that the government has recently taken action – he says the passage of foreign interference laws, for example, has made political parties more careful about whom they associate with and whose money they take – “serious issues” of domestic influence remain.
*One of the really important aspects of this is how we have overlooked Chinese–Australian media. There’s a disturbing number of groups seeking to represent the Chinese community that have come under the influence or have even been established by the CCP … and the main platform by which people receive information, WeChat.”
Joske’s concern about the influence of Communist Party propaganda among the Australian Chinese community has also come sharply into focus in the wake of the rising tensions in Hong Kong.
*Theconflict between pro-democracy demonstrators, police and pro-CCP forces in the former British colony has been all over the news for weeks. And it has flared on Australian university campuses, confrontations that have attracted the kind of media coverage not normally accorded to competing groups of student activists.
On Wednesday, The New York Times gave prominence to a piece by Louisa Lim, a senior lecturer at the Centre for Advancing Journalism at the University of Melbourne, under the headline “The Battle for Hong Kong Is Being Fought in Sydney and Vancouver”.
It detailed howBeijing was “weaponising” social media in its efforts to crush the protests in Hong Kong.
“The battle over Hong Kong is, in effect, being exported, pitting overseas Chinese communities against each other,” wrote Lim, enumerating how, during recent weeks, Lennon walls covered in messages of support for the pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong had been torn down by pro-Beijing students on campuses “from Auckland, New Zealand, to Vancouver, British Columbia, and from Hobart, Australia, to Harvard Square”.
*The piece mentioned, in particular, the confrontation between students at the University of Queensland, which became violent, and after which the Chinese consul-general in Brisbane, Xu Jie, issued a statement praising the “spontaneous patriotic behaviour of Chinese students”.
*There has been a lot of coverage, too, of other alleged avenues of Chinese Communist Party influence in Australia: the role of Confucius Institutes at Australian universities, among other groups.is week a newly elected Liberal MP, Gladys Liu, was outed by the ABC for her former role as chair of an organisation – the World Trade United Foundation – “affiliated with China’s efforts to exert influence on foreign governments and expatriate Chinese”.
*This week a newly elected Liberal MP, Gladys Liu, was outed by the ABC for her former role as chair of an organisation – the World Trade United Foundation – “affiliated with China’s efforts to exert influence on foreign governments and expatriate Chinese”.
In Clive Hamilton’s view, these are serious matters. “Events like these give pause to the public that is not formerly focused on the issue of CCP influence to say, ‘What the hell is going on?’ ” says Hamilton. “If you have a bunch of angry students who appear to be representing a dictatorial regime on one of our campuses, that fires people up, in a way that events in the South China Sea might not.”
Others see it very differently. David Brophy, senior lecturer in modern Chinese history at Sydney University, thinks the debate risks sliding into McCarthyism and racism.
He stresses that he is no apologist for the Chinese Communist Party.
“I’m very critical of the situation in China,” Brophy says. “I am particularly concerned about what’s happening in Hong Kong and in Xinjiang [where the Chinese government is engaged in a process of cultural genocide against the Muslim Uygur population].
“But it all needs to be put into perspective. There is a tendency to link all these issues – of which there are many – into a common story. If there’s a sense that the hundreds of thousands of Chinese students are part of some conspiracy to deprive us of our liberties and/or democracy, I can see that easily turning into something quite nasty.”
Brophy suggests such thinking is the obverse of Chinese propaganda that promotes the notion of conspiracy against it. He points to the “citizen panellist” on Monday’s episode of the ABC’s Q&A program, Li Shee Su, who suggested the Hong Kong demonstrators might be termed terrorists, and that foreign intelligence agencies were behind the protests. Many, including Hamilton, were concerned by Li’s rhetoric, which appeared to echo the propaganda in official Chinese media.
“I saw Li on Q&A,” says Brophy. “There’s no doubt he was expressing views that exist in the Chinese community, but equally there’s no doubt in my mind that a lot of this simply reflects a Chinese patriotism, a sense among the Chinese–Australian population that China doesn’t get a fair run in the Australian media.”
He has a point. As does Hamilton. It’s a difficult balancing act.
At least, though, such debate can be had. Unlike in Xi’s China.
This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Aug 17, 2019 as “How the China question split Australian politics”. Subscribe here.
IT would appear there has been a lot of planning and plotting for population growth & real estate by some in Sydney … over decades … and it really took off with the 2012 planning law changes … regardless of the amenity of Sydneysiders …
Key Points …
-within a year Melbourne’s population grew by 120,000, or 327 people a day
.Greater Sydney added 93,000 residents, or 256 people daily
-the 2 cities account for 40% of Australia’s 25 million
–270,000 temporary and permanent migrants will arrive in Australia in 2019
–not just road congestion; public transport overcrowding is tipped to grow five-fold
-heat island effect as concrete, apartments replace playing fields, parks, trees, gardens and the quarter acre block
-inner city schools were closed by govts in 1990s and early 2000s due to lack of demand
.now a large number of school children … where have they come from?
-the influx into inner, older suburbs is putting pressure on pipes; 75 even 100 years old; how soon before they burst?
DESPITE all of this … more and more want to live in our cities … it’s a global phenomenon … Vancouver, Seattle, London, Paris ….throughout Europe, Asia … is it because of China’s Millions of High Net Worth?
In Melbourne, the population in Tarneit, west of the city centre, has grown by 372 per cent – 23 times the national average of 16 per cent – and almost double that in nearby Truganina.
It’s a phenomenon that is stretching the urban fringe around the east coast, and sending inner-city suburbs such as Docklands and Waterloo skywards.
The two cities alone account for 40 per cent of Australia’s 25 million-strong population but planning has failed to keep pace with their growth – leaving schools, water, health and transport services creaking, and millions of commuters stuck in traffic or opting for a coastal change.
While some government MPs insist it will be focused on diverting migrants to the regions, others believe the inquiry’s broad terms of reference allow it to look deeply at infrastructure and population pressures across the country.
*The Morrison government has pledged to ease urban congestion by slashing the permanent intake by 30,000 places, but federal budget figures show more than 270,000 temporary and permanent migrants will arrive in Australia in 2019, up from 259,000 last year and an increase of 40,000 on what was forecast in last year’s budget.
EY’s global immigration leader, Wayne Parcell, says the time is right to revisit a migration program “that is heavily influenced by the old economy” and “historic migration settlement patterns of the mid-20th century that have now become more fluid”.
*One government MP was more blunt: “This is the chink in the population armour.”
Infrastructure Australia’s executive director of policy and research, Peter Colacino, says: “We need an idea of the country that we want and then define the steps to get there.”
“Rather than looking back and expecting the same to continue, the key is to look forward and to understand the type of country that we are likely to see because of the trends that we have identified.”
VIEW SOURCE LINK FOR AERIAL PHOTOS OF 2006 AND 2019
Take the experience of residents of Tarneit and Truganina, who can access the Melbourne central business district on either of two roads – the Princes Freeway or the M80 Ring Road via the Western Highway.
*It’s little better in Sydney. Workers in Parklea wanting to head north out of the city will face one of the most congested roads, the M2, while those in Waterloo will have a choice of roads-come-carparks on either the M1, the Eastern Distributor or the Cahill Expressway.
Worse still, by 2031, it will be much more common for peak congestion to be encountered in both directions on major routes in Sydney and Melbourne.
*And it’s not just congestion on the roads. Public transport overcrowding is tipped to grow five-fold, even with the current works under way in Sydney and Melbourne.
It all means fewer people will be able or willing to travel far to essential services or social infrastructure such as schools and hospitals.
*In Blacktown in Sydney’s west, where more than 53,000 people have moved in over the past decade, you can drop into a super GP for dialysis after doing your shopping. There are now 60 of them around the country.
Many more will be needed by 2031 to stop patients using hospitals when they aren’t essential and clogging up roads on the way there.
*In some cases, technological and societal changes are ahead of our existing infrastructure.
The advent of home shopping, particularly for groceries, is a boon for consumers who think there are better ways to spend a Saturday afternoon than plying the aisles of Coles or Woolworths.
*But the home delivery of bags of oranges, milk and breakfast cereal means an explosion in the number of trucks on our suburban roads. Those are roads that have, over the years, become increasingly narrow as councils have sought to maximise the number of properties in new suburbs.
That phenomenon has also created inner-city “heat islands” – suburbs with little tree cover and miles of concrete. The end of the quarter-acre block, and the large number of people moving into units, means the natural cooling elements of trees and parks are being lost.
Melbourne’s population growth
Percentage growth from 2006 to 2016
*Parts of Canterbury, Holroyd and Blacktown in Sydney all experience temperatures up to 6 degrees hotter than they should because they don’t have enough green space. The same is true of a vast stretch between Sunbury and Melton in Melbourne.
“This is because the heat of the sun is absorbed and not reflected by urban surfaces such as buildings, car parks and roads,” Infrastructure Australia found. “Human activities, such as traffic and the use of air conditioning, also increase the waste heat generated.”
*It’s not just clogged roads or standing-room only trams and buses that require a response. In some of our suburban schools, lines of demountable classrooms have replaced football fields and netball courts.
Since 2008, the number of schools with fewer than 300 students has fallen more than 10 per cent. The number with more than 300 students has climbed almost 12 per cent.
Between the 2016 and 2017 school years alone, the nation’s 6228 primary schools, 1408 secondary schools, 1336 combined schools and 472 specialist institutions added 51,000 students, pushing the student population above 3.9 million.
Infrastructure Australia noted that the demountables, many of which had been in place for a decade or longer, were a sign that current school capacity was inadequate for the projected demand in our largest cities.
Caught on the hop
Authorities have been caught on the hop. Particularly in the inner suburbs, where two-thirds of growth is now expected to occur.
The increase in unit living closer to city CBDs has meant a lift in demand for services in areas where state governments believed interest was falling away.
*”Some parts of inner Sydney and Melbourne currently have a large number of school-aged children but many schools were closed by governments in the 1990s and early 2000s due to a temporary lack of demand and an assumption that families would not reside in inner-city areas,” it found.
VIEW SOURCE LINK FOR AERIAL MAPS OF DOCKLANDS 2006 AND 2019
Docklands 2006 and 2019.
Source: Google Earth
*Something as vital to our cities as water is also suffering. Here, it’s a combination of growing population pressure, poor government policy, climate change and ageing infrastructure.
*The influx of people into inner, older suburbs is putting pressure on a network of pipes that can be up to 75 years old.
*”As our population grows, pressure grows and the system will eventually break,” Colciano says.
*For some residents, it will all become too much. A pattern is already emerging as flexible work allows more people to make a sea change to satellite areas like Torquay off the Great Ocean Road in Victoria and Thirroul close to Wollongong and an hour out of Sydney.
“We see people moving from our cities to small coastal communities so you have this kind of dual growth story of big cities and small coastal centres,” Colacino says.
The populations of Sydney and Melbourne have swelled over last decade, increasing pressure on infrastructure and transport.
“And with that there is just this changing need on the infrastructure network that is associated with it.“
That starts with distributing access to technology like the national broadband network evenly across income divides and geography.
“The digital inclusivity of our lowest-income quintile is one-third below the national average,” Infrastructure Australia found.
“New technologies are enabling substantial improvements to user experience and quality of life outcomes, but these benefits are not being shared by all Australians.”
“There is an unprecedented pressure on infrastructure services. The infrastructure boom is the new normal.“
Infrastructure Australia’s Romilly Madew
*Despite that trend, it’s nothing compared to the sheer volume of Australians who want to live in a handful of our major cities. Almost seven out of every 10 people live in our capital cities, with the proportion growing.
*Bernard Baffour, from the Australian National University’s School of Demography, notes it’s a global phenomenon.
Despite the traffic, the heat, the road rage and the difficulty of life in a big city, that’s what most of us want.
“People just want to live in the capital cities and you have to expect that’s what is going to continue to happen,” he says.
Grinding to a halt
Sydney’s most congested roads (user experience) 2031
AM PEAK TOP FIVE SLOWEST TRANSPORT CORRIDORS
Share of journey time due to congestion Delay per vehicle
1 North Sydney to Sydney CBD via Sydney Harbour Tunnel (S/B)84%19 mins
2 Mount Druitt to Westmead via M4 (E/B)75%25 mins
3 Liverpool to Sydney Airport via M5 (E/B)74%49 mins
4 Ashfield to Sydney CBD via City West Link / Anzac Bridge (E/B)73%27 min
5 Artarmon to Surry Hills via Pacific Highway / Sydney Harbour Bridge / Cahill Expressway / Eastern Distributor (S/B)72%25 mins
PM PEAK TOP FIVE SLOWEST TRANSPORT CORRIDORS
Share of journey time due to congestion
Delay per vehicle
Sydney CBD to North Sydney via Sydney Harbour Tunnel (N/B)
North Sydney to Sydney CBD via Sydney Harbour Tunnel (S/B)
Westmead to Eastern Creek via M4 (W/B)
Chatswood to Narraweena via Warringah Road (E/B)
Sydney CBD to Ashfield via Anzac Bridge / City West Link (W/B)
Note: N/B, S/B, W/B and E/B represent northbound, southbound, westbound and eastbound, respectively.