Category Archives: Tactics

8 August 2017: Opportunity for Government, or for Litigation?

Federal Parliament House

Australia is supposed to have seventy-six Senators: right now we have no more than seventy-four, possibly only seventy-two, and possibly far fewer, because of application of s44 of the Australian Constitution.  And when Parliament resumes on 8 August, expect political and legal fireworks.

This reduced number of Senators is important, because it might make it easier for the Government to get their legislation passed.

Here’s why: while Australia’s Liberal National Party Coalition government has the support of a majority in the House of Representatives, no legislation can pass without the support of a majority in the Senate, where the Government is in a minority. This means all legislation which passes through the Senate, and subsequently becomes law, must garner support from non-government parties, and with fewer Senators the total number of Senators required to support legislation reduces.

If we indeed have 74 Senators,

  • 29 are from the Coalition,
  • 26 are from Labor,
  • 7 from the Greens,
  • 4 are from One Nation,
  • 3 from the Xenophon Team, and
  • one each are from the Liberal Democrats (Leynholm), Justice Party (Hinch), Australian Conservatives (Bernardi), Jacqui Lambie Network, and independent Gichuhi (who is ex-Family First).

With only seventy-four Senate votes in play, to secure Senate passage of government legislation, the Liberal National Party Government needs nine votes from amongst the 19 cross-benchers; Labor needs 12 to block the passage of any legislation, or pass their own resolutions.

The Government now needs the support of one less non-Government Senator than before, to see legislation passed, and this situation will continue for months as the process of replacing ineligible Senators isn’t quick – see https://ethicalconsultingservices.wordpress.com/2017/07/17/ludlam-senate/.  This presents the Government with opportunities to advance unpopular legislation through the Senate – the two ineligible “Senators” are seen as more likely to have opposed components of the Government’s legislative program.

Malcolm Roberts

We are down to no more than seventy-four Senators because two Greens Party Senators have acknowledged they are ineligible – see www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/queensland-government/queensland-greens-senator-larissa-waters-resigns-over-dual-citizenship/news-story/ecb99e946835145fd8f6dacdbf55e131.  We may have only seventy-two Senators because detailed questions have been raised about the eligibility of two others – see www.brisbanetimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/malcolm-roberts-expert-anne-twomey-believes-one-nation-senator-may-have-breached-constitution-20170727-gxkeol.html and www.brisbanetimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/the-dissenting-argument-from-a-former-governorgeneral-that-could-save-matt-canavans-skin-20170727-gxjxkr.html.

Matthew Canavan

Both Senators Roberts (One Nation Party) and Canavan (Liberal National Party) say they are eligible.  There’s no doubt this will be tested in the Court of Disputed Returns – probably at the same time as determinations are made about Larissa Waters’ and Scott Ludlum’s replacements.

The Australian Senate resumes on 8 August 2017, and we can be very sure if either Senator Roberts or Senator Canavan seek to exercise a vote, or perhaps even take their seat, someone is going to go to Court, claim those Senators are ineligible, and seek via legal action to stop them acting as a Senator.

And to add to the potential for chaos, while it is a typically over-blown and under-researched article, the Australian newspaper has questioned the eligibility of 21 Members of Parliament further, from all of the Liberal Party, the National Party, and Australian Labor Party: www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/mp-dual-nationality-fiasco-extends-to-bloodlines/news-story/5ad03ba3d47cf4eae0a5b1066ea5c59b?login=1 (paywalled).

In the House of Representatives, the Government has only a one-seat majority – should any one Government member* in the House acknowledge ineligibility, or be found ineligible, they will lose their working majority in the House, the capacity of the Government to govern at all becomes questionable, and we may be headed to a very early election.

By 8 August, all of our Parliamentary parties need to have their plans in place for how to react: because the success of the Government’s legislative program, or the very existence of the Turnbull Government, might hinge on the outcome, there’s little hope of bipartisanship.

Here’s a link to information on the Australian Electoral Commission website explaining eligibility laws: www.aec.gov.au/About_AEC/Publications/backgrounders/constitutional-disqual-intending-candidates.htm

 

*  Or one more Government member than non-Government members.

Last Week in Queensland – 19 June 2017

The State budget dominated Queensland media* in the first half of last week, as did attacks under Parliamentary privilege on the integrity of Paul Pisisale, and the labelling of Caboolture as Australia’s dole bludger capital.

 

Queensland budget

 

Governing

Tony Fitzgerald (Photo: State Library)

 

Opposition and Crossbench

 

Politics

 

Community

Energy Minister Mark Bailey

 

Economy and Infrastructure

 

Parliament

Queensland’s Speaker Peter Wellington

 

Sleeper Issues?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* We’re not representing that this is a complete coverage of news in Queensland – it certainly isn’t, and it’s what we find interesting or important, and sometimes what’s unusual.  Some of the links will require subscriptions to read content.

 

Last Week in Queensland – 20 February 2017

last-week-logo-2Parole reform, abortion legislation, sugar industry’s future, LNP ready to snuggle with One Nation (but only so far), and Tim Nicholls apologises for the Government in which he was a leader … last week in Queensland*.

 

Governing

 

Opposition and Crossbench

 

Politics

 

Deputy Premier Jackie Trad

Deputy Premier Jackie Trad

Community

 

Economy and Infrastructure

 

Queensland's Speaker Wellington, retiring

Queensland’s Speaker Wellington, retiring

Parliament

  • Queensland’s Parliament has this coming week off, and next sits from Tuesday 28 February to Thursday 2 March
  • The Queensland Parliament’s summary of what’s new, including newly-introduced and passed legislation, is here www.parliament.qld.gov.au/work-of-assembly/whats-new
  • Federal Parliament sat for the last two weeks; the House of Representatives sits alone from Monday 27 February to Thursday 2 March, and then both upper and lower Houses sit next from Monday 20 March to Thursday 24 March

 

Sleeper Issues?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* We’re not representing that this is a complete coverage of news in Queensland – it certainly isn’t, and it’s what we find interesting or important, and sometimes what’s unusual.  Some of the links will require subscriptions to read content.

 

 

Last Week in Queensland – 6 February 2017

last-week-logo-2Dreadful family violence stories and the new US President, marginalised other news in Queensland, but Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party made plenty of news, as did impending changes at Queensland Rail.

 

Governing

 

Opposition and Crossbench

Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls

Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls

 

Politicshanson-van

 

Community

 

Economy and Infrastructure

Federal Urban Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher

Federal Urban Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher

 

Parliament

  • Queensland’s Parliament sits next week, from Tuesday 14 February to Thursday 16 February

    Federal Parliament House

    Federal Parliament House

  • The Queensland Parliament’s summary of what’s new, including newly-introduced and passed legislation, is here www.parliament.qld.gov.au/work-of-assembly/whats-new
  • Federal Parliament sits this week, from Tuesday 7 February to Thursday 9 February

 

Sleeper Issues?

 

 

 

 

 

 

* We’re not representing that this is a complete coverage of news in Queensland – it certainly isn’t, and it’s what we find interesting or important, and sometimes what’s unusual.  Some of the links will require subscriptions to read content.

 

 

Why Trump Won 2*

Today, this guy becomes US President

Today, this guy becomes US President

Almost every election victory involves stitching together a coalition, and Donald Trump did so successfully.

Asking why Donald Trump won is quite a different question from “why did Hillary Clinton lose?”, and that latter question will be addressed in another article soon.

The difference between Donald Trump’s victory and a defeat was very small: small margins in a small number of states.**

Because the margin was so narrow in those three or four states which Donald Trump won by small margins, many things, some big and some small, made the difference between a win and a loss.

Because so many events, activities, mistakes, and so on could each have driven the comparatively small margins by which Donald Trump secured victory, it means every commentator’s preferred reason(s) for victory can be claimed as THE reason for the result – everyone is right, and everyone wins a prize.

However there are bigger reasons why Donald Trump was able to secure victory, whilst so obviously unfit for the job. He should have been, by most criteria***, 30% behind and not just 2.2%.

For 23 years, Republican Party Members of Congress, bloggers, activists, and more, attacked Hillary Clinton. Regardless of the validity of those attacks, they constructed a consistent narrative about the character of Hillary Clinton, and built substantial distrust and dislike of her. That branding of Hillary Clinton was in place before she nominated, was present for the whole of the campaign, and was referenced often by many amongst Donald Trump’s supporters.  According to this narrative, she is an out-of-touch, remote elitist, focussed on her own advancement, and untrustworthy.

With many voters there was also a significant element of misogyny, synergising with the Republicans’ long-term branding of Hillary Clinton, which undoubtedly influenced their choice of candidates.

The Republican Party’s management of Hillary Clinton’s image, and the Trump campaign’s exploitation of that image, drove some voters towards Donald Trump, but also drove some voters, normally voting Democrat, to choose to abstain (see here about US voluntary voting).

The active things the Trump campaign deployed included the exploitation and maximisation of discontent: he branded himself as the voice of frustration, the voice of change, anti-elite, and anti-the system, which contrasted with Hillary Clinton’s image as part of “the system”.

His pivot to Republican orthodoxy, evident during the third presidential debate, was the point at which he began to win back the support of the Republican base, and their activists.

News articles are only now emerging which describe his under-the-radar campaign organisation, which to most commentators during the campaign did not appear to exist. Recent articles propose the data capabilities of the Trump campaign are competitive with the previously superior Democratic party machine, and the Obama campaign: while this may be the case, there is currently insufficient information in the public domain to allow a judgement.

The Trump campaign’s messaging was also effective: it was consistent, relentless, careful, and emotion-focused.

So Donald Trump was able to overcome what should have been unelectability, because

  • the Republican Party had invested cleverly in constructing his opponent’s image over the long-term, and the Trump campaign exploited that investment
  • his own campaign probably functioned more effectively than most people gave it credit for
  • his messaging was effective and delivered the voters he needed, and
  • he built a winning coalition of voters: most of the Republican base, and voters discontented with many elements of the American system of government.

 

* Just in time for inauguration day, this evaluation is based on observations from within the campaign and reading about it

** Hillary Clinton actually won the popular vote by around 2.2%.

*** We’re going to talk about those differing criteria in the coming article about the reasons for Hillary Clinton’s loss.

 

 

Last Week in Queensland – 16 January 2017

last-week-logo-2As most of Queensland suffered great humidity, dominating the news* last week was the defection of a former Liberal-National Party Minister Steve Dickson**, to the One Nation Party.

 

Governing

 

Opposition and Crossbench

One Nation MP, Steve Dickson

One Nation MP, Steve Dickson

 

Politics

Deputy Premier Jackie Trad, talking about daylight saving time this week

Deputy Premier Jackie Trad, talking about daylight saving time this week

Community

 

Economy and Infrastructure

 

ParliamentOpening Parliament 2015

  • Queensland’s Parliament next sits from Tuesday 14 February to Thursday 16 February
  • The Queensland Parliament’s summary of what’s new, including newly-introduced and passed legislation, is here www.parliament.qld.gov.au/work-of-assembly/whats-new
  • Federal Parliament next sits from Tuesday 7 February to Thursday 9 February

 

 

 

 

 

* We’re not representing that this is a complete coverage of news in Queensland – it certainly isn’t, and it’s what we find interesting or important, and sometimes what’s unusual.  Some of the links will require subscriptions to read content.

 

** Fascinatingly, at the time of writing, someone seems to have deleted his Ministerial portfolios from his Wikipedia entry.  He was appointed Minister for National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing in the Newman Government in April 2012.

 

 

Last Week in Queensland – 12 December 2016

steam-trainGovernment rail operator QR continued causing political pain for Labor, a tripartite deal to stimulate Townsville’s economy, and Adani’s Carmichael mine accelerate their planning, kept us talking* last week in Queensland.

 

Governing

 

The Opposition and Crossbench

MP for Cairns Billy Gordon

MP for Cairns Billy Gordon

 

Politics

 

Communitytownsville-logo

 

Economy and Infrastructure

 

 

ParliamentOpening Parliament 2015

  • Queensland’s Parliament has finished sitting for 2016, and next sits from Tuesday 14 February to Thursday 16 February
  • The Queensland Parliament’s summary of what’s new, including newly-introduced and passed legislation, is here www.parliament.qld.gov.au/work-of-assembly/whats-new
  • Federal Parliament has finished sitting for 2016, and next sits from Tuesday 7 February to Thursday 9 February

 

Sleeper Issues?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* We’re not representing that this is a complete coverage of news in Queensland – it certainly isn’t, and it’s what we find interesting or important, and sometimes what’s unusual.  Some of the links will require subscriptions to read content.

 

 

US Elections – How Donald Trump Won

hill-and-donCompare Michigan and Pennsylvania.  Donald Trump clearly won the latter through a massive turnout of rarely-votes in the middle of the state (see www.philly.com/philly/infographics/400507161.html) and appears to have won the former by winning over previous Democrat voters (see www.lansingstatejournal.com/story/news/local/michigan/2016/11/11/donald-trump-michigan-counties-clinton/93641908/) – though more analysis will give a better picture.

That’s two entirely different ways of winning, in two important states.

Obama in the contested 2008 Primary had a successful State-by-State win plan: did Trump have the same in 2016?  These different patterns in two critical states suggest perhaps he did.

Kellyanne Conway was his final campaign manager http://www.news.com.au/finance/work/leaders/the-woman-who-made-president-trump/news-story/766f339657fcb2429068b200adf166b5 and deserves major credit for his victory, but she took over only a scant 12 weeks out from election day – could she have created and executed such a state-by-state plan in so short a time?  Her predecessors, incompetent and possibly corrupt, seem unlikely to have had such insight and coherence.

Insider-tell-all books after the 2008 and 2012 election cycle answered many questions about internal strategy development – the 2016 version may tell us whether there was such a plan, or whether luck and happenstance played a bigger part.

However, Kellyanne achieved in less than three months something much more formidable: she created a new candidate and a new election, and hence a winning coalition, by taming Trump.

Before the Presidential Debates, Trump had set about making himself the outsider who could upturn politics-as-usual and fix a failed system.  His plain speaking, deliberately provocative and deliberately different from Republican orthodoxy, had built a loyal following amongst those alienated from the “American Dream”, but failed to broadly inspire evangelical Christians, and alienated moderate Republicans.  His support, lacking those two components of the Republican base, was insufficient for victory.

Just prior to the October 19 third debate, his language moderated, his insults decreased, and the content of his ad-hoc statements became more coherent.  At the third debate, he pivoted, pressed the case for the Republican Right’s hot-button policies, and they flocked to his banner.  Post-debate, he became increasingly a more polished and less alienating candidate.  Some of the moderate Republicans, contemplating voting for Hillary, moved back to the fold.

To the Republican base, Trump now looked – more-or-less – like a Republican.

Quite suddenly, the Clinton campaign faced a different candidate, who now led a coalition of the disaffected and the Republican base, to which they had no adequate counter.  It’s not even clear they noticed the new candidate.

 

 

(Half of Ethical Consulting Services (Mike) has been embedded in the campaign since mid-October.)

 

 

US Elections – 3 Phases, Now

hill-and-donThe future of this US Election cycle divides neatly into three phases:

  • between now and the close of polls;
  • from election night to the new President’s inauguration on 20 January 2017; and
  • after inauguration.

Phase 1 – up to close of polls

The next seven days will see a recently-better-controlled and more-focussed Donald Trump try to build on his gains of the last two weeks: victory is probably beyond his reach, but he’s now about saving the Republican Party from electoral devastation.

We’ll see Republicans actively campaign to suppress Democrat votes, and intimidate Democrats at polling places.

Will Hillary’s current lead, and voter revulsion at Trump, translate into effective Democrat control of Congress?

In the last two weeks, Hillary has slipped back in the polls by about 3%** nationally and if this trend continues through the week it will be a much tighter election (see http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/on-a-scale-of-1-to-10-how-much-should-democrats-panic/) and a much-reduced chance of coat-tails for the Democrats.

Phase 2 – election night to inauguration

A lot can happen between the TV networks*** declaring a winner on election night, and the Inauguration on 20 January 2017.  In 1861, most of the Confederacy announced their secession between Abraham Lincoln’s victory and his inauguration*, for example.

The victor’s speech matters – it sets the tone for their transition – as does the speech of the vanquished.  Will Hillary lay out a plan to heal the divisions made strikingly evident by this campaign?  Will Trump try to mobilise his supporters to defy US democracy and challenge Hillary’s legitimacy?

Will the new President have a supportive Congress to speed up and smooth their appointment of senior staff and transition to leadership?

Phase 3 – after inauguration

After they are inaugurated on 20 January 2017, the new President at last will begin the absurdly slow and complicated process of appointing senior Government officials.

Will ongoing challenges to the legitimacy of the new President undermine their capacity to govern and to lead?  Can the kind of illegitimate claims of “rigging” made by Trump be sustained beyond the short term?

Will the Republican Party’s grown-ups, so lacking in presence and responsibility for well over a decade, decide to take their Party leadership back from those who facilitated Trump, or do they lack the integrity?  If Trump wins, he’ll remake the Republican Party, and seek to remake the US, in his own image: there will be no room for more moderate voices, and the world will struggle to know how to respond.

 

* In March – these days it’s in January.

** as at 2 November 2016

*** Yes, on election night the TV networks call the shots.  The result isn’t formally declared until the Electoral College reports to Congress and Congress votes on their report at 1.00 pm on 6 January 2017.

 

Ethical Consulting Services’ Mike Smith is embedded in the US Presidential Elections until Election Day.

 

 

US Elections – The Coward’s Pivot

hill-and-donThe third US Presidential debate yesterday was fascinating for many reasons, but most of all because it revealed Donald Trump, like all bullies, to be a coward; it also showed he’s capable of rational desperation.

Donald Trump performs better each debate – he’s better briefed, more mannerly, and more rational.  More of his sentences are completed.  Hillary Clinton continues to display superior intelligence, depth, understanding, and thoughtfulness.

The big debate take-away:

It’s been proven time and again: if you must commit resources to activating your base your campaign is in trouble: someone has persuaded Trump, because his campaign is so desperately failing, he must proclaim conservative Christian orthodoxy, and gun-ownership focussed orthodoxy, to persuade Republicans to bother to vote for him.  His debate performance wasn’t appealing to middle America – undecided, moderate and independent – when he talked so strongly about opposing abortion and stacking the US Supreme Court; he was talking to the Republicans who’ve seen him as a hypocritical libertine and dangerous bully, and weren’t voting for him.

Without them, he won’t just lose on November 8, he will be devastated, and the Republican Party’s other candidates with him.  Without them, the Democratic Party must take control of the Senate and the House of Representatives, and many of the State legislatures and Governorships that are up for election on the same day.

He is indeed a narcissistic libertine; he has certainly previously supported abortion rights; he’s a very recent and probably temporary convert to this kind of conservative agenda, and it has come at the cost of keeping the True Donald in the public eye.  At the end, lacking the courage of his own convictions, he’s prepared to adopt someone else’s.

His mealy-mouthed, half-unsaid, half-demand that a Supreme Court appointed by him should reverse Roe v. Wade, the most important Court decision about reproductive rights and obligations in US history, will have satisfied only the so-called right-to-life movement.  He lacked the courage to unequivocally say he wanted it overturned … he took the coward’s approach of trying to conceal the promises he’s made to the Evangelical Christian Right.

There was a flash or two of the Real Donald, the bully strip-mining the hurt and pain of communities outside the economic and social elites: he’s contemplating refusing to concede defeat if he loses, suggesting fraud on a massive scale, and implicitly threatening to use his campaign to destabilise Clinton’s legitimacy, and the legitimacy of the electoral system, beyond Election Day*.

Before the debate, Trump’s surrogates and advocates talked about him pivoting his campaign, away from the confused melange of messages past, and towards a “Drain the Washington Swamp” theme.  This debate performance, in contrast, was a pivot towards trying to save the down-ticket Republicans from the expected Clinton coat-tails.

 

Ethical Consulting Services partner Mike Smith is embedded within the US Presidential campaign, until US election day on 8 November.

 

  • The next day, appreciating the furore, and harm to his aspirations, this had caused, he issues a typically weaselly non-retraction that he’ll claim as a retraction when convenient.