Saturday’s good reading and listening for the weekend

What people in other forums are saying about public policy


NAIDOC Week

Dr Charles Perkins Memorial Oration

In a ceremony at the Great Hall of the University of Sydney, Pat Turner has delivered the twentieth Dr Charles Perkins Memorial Oration. She calls it “Charlie’s lessons and legacy”, and uses Perkins’ work as a model for those seeking social justice, particularly indigenous people. To achieve change you must be both inside the tent and outside the tent.

Her 30-minute speech is bracketed with a number of short presentations celebrating Perkins’ life and achievements. (The ceremony is one hour in all – the whole event is worth watching because it gives context to Pat Turner’s speech.)


The US election

There is a huge swathe of commentary on the election. We have chosen a few that pick up some of the main issues people are writing about.

A rising blue tide confronted by a rising red tide

Wiliam Bowe draws our attention to a graphic that allows us to follow the geographic distribution of the presidential vote. It’s the 2020 National Popular Vote Tracker prepared by the Cook Political Report.  The default map shows current results – nothing new to election watchers. But you can choose ”Swing vs 2016 margin”, and America becomes a sea of blue, with just a few pink islands and two red islands: New York, where Trump enjoyed a 10 per cent swing from a low 2016 base and low turnout, and Alaska, where lots of weird stuff happens.

Biden’s team did well, but they did not reckon on Trump’s success in getting his base out to vote – a base that’s obviously much larger than the number who came out to vote for him in 2016.

A tough time for Biden

Most commentators point to problems the Biden administration will face in office, with a stacked Supreme Court and a probable Republican-controlled Senate, likely to work against much of the Democrats’ platform. The prominent law professor Eric Posner (author of The demagogue’s playbook: The battle for American democracy from the founders to Trump), writes that public opinion will not necessarily be on Biden’s side either – Biden’s precarious victory in Project Syndicate. Trump is managing to persuade Republican voters that Biden stole the election, and in office he will have to deal with factions within his own party. (We might recall that in our own country, because Malcolm Fraser displaced Whitlam through deception, his administration never achieved the legitimacy it sought.) Posner warns Biden that  “like Obama before him, he will quickly learn that you cannot win over those who despise you”.

Is Biden too weak in his convictions?

Yanis Varoufakis – Greece’s former finance minister and economics professor at the University of Sydney – has written in the Guardian Hoping for a return to normal after Trump? That’s the last thing we need. He warns that voters may be turned off by his meagre ambition.

In 2008, with the financial crisis (“the great recession”), the postwar social contract that had held America together finally shattered. Trump was able to appeal to those whose wages stagnated and whose jobs became more precarious while the ruling class bailed itself out on government funds.

The tragedy of progressives is that Trump’s supporters are not entirely wrong. The Democratic party has demonstrated time and again its determination to prevent any challenge to the powerful that are responsible for the pain, anger and humiliation that propelled Trump to the White House. Democrats can talk until the cows come home about racial justice, the need for more women in positions of power, the rights of the LGBT community etc. But, the moment politicians like Bernie Sanders threaten to challenge the power structures that keep black Americans, women, minorities and the poor in society’s margins, they go all out to stop them.

Perhaps Biden is the person for our times

Biden does not fit the mould of the modern president, and that could be the very reason he is the person for these troubled times, because it would be a break from “the notion of leadership as cult of personality”, writes John Harris, former editor of Politico: How life-sized Joe Biden could be a larger-than-life president. Harris draws our attention to the way Biden engages with the electorate: “Biden naturally defaults to ‘we’ rather than ‘me’”.

If Biden establishes himself as ideological broker, rather than ideologue, if he restores in Washington an instinct for shared responsibility rather than an instinct for remorseless conflict, that would indeed be a formula for a great presidency. He would change the way people think of the office, and change the way Americans look at their country, in ways that would outlast his tenure.

Trump is not just a passing phenomenon

America’s next authoritarian will be much more competent is an article by Zeynep Tufekci, in The Atlantic. “… the real message of this election is not that Trump lost and Democrats triumphed. It’s that a weak and untalented politician lost, while the rest of his party has completely entrenched its power over every other branch of government: the perfect setup for a talented right-wing populist to sweep into office in 2024.”

Trump won’t be the last American populist is written by Daron Acemoglu, in Foreign Affairs. The conditions for another right-wing populist have been simmering for decades. In America “vast inequalities have opened in the last four decades between the highly educated and the rest and between capital and labor”. At the same time trust in political institutions has collapsed and the old political order has unravelled. Although most strongly manifest in America, these conditions are global, having contributed to the election of right-wing populist governments in Brazil, the UK, Turkey, India, Hungary, the Philippines and Poland.

Trump’s post-election behaviour – “his parting gift to autocrats around the world”

Andrew Higgins, the Moscow bureau chief of the New York Times, likens  Trump’s refusal to accept his loss to similar behaviour by dictators like Belorussia’s Aleksandr Lukashenko – Trump’s post-election tactics put him in unsavory company.

Among the anti-democratic tactics Mr. Trump has adopted are some that were commonly employed by leaders like Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela and Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia — refusing to concede defeat and hurling unfounded accusations of electoral fraud. The tactics also include undermining confidence in democratic institutions and the courts, attacking the press and vilifying opponents.

Even though Trump will have to concede, the damage he has wrought is lasting, because his behaviour lends support to those in other countries who seek to delegitimise election processes.


The Biden presidency and Australia

The Australia-US Alliance – Biden may have a few other matters on his mind

On Saturday Extra Geraldine Doogue interviewed Allan Gyngell, National President of the Australian Institute of International Affairs and former head of the ONA, and Peter Leahy, Chief of Army from 2002 to 2008, about the Australia-US Alliance.

Biden will probably appoint capable and professional people to the Defense Department and will conduct foreign policy more sanely than Trump. But he has rather a lot of work to do at home, bringing together a divided nation, dealing with a deadly virus that the outgoing government has allowed to run rampant, and fixing a structurally weak economy that cannot pay a decent wage to most of its citizens. And the Pacific will not be on the top of his foreign and defence policy concerns: there’s NATO, Iran, the Middle East, South America … Rather a lot of bad relations to fix up.

We cannot rely on our “great and powerful friend”. ANZUS is only an alliance: it is not a mutual defence pact like NATO. As a small military power we must be more involved in regional defence arrangements with countries such as Indonesia, Japan and Vietnam, and we should not forget that we face not only the Pacific Ocean but also the Indian Ocean.   (17 minutes)

We need more regional cooperation

Writing in Inside Story, Adam Triggs observes, as most Australians would, that Trump’s administration was bad for Australia: Time to end Australia’s American dependency. The international institutions he has damaged – the WTO, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and the WHO – are all important for middle-sized powers such as Australia.

But there is only so much Biden can do to fix America’s ills.  The country has a lot of work to do domestically – addressing widening inequality and disadvantage – before it can once again take its place as a defender of a liberal and peaceful world order. (Dare we say to “make America great again”?)

Triggs suggests that rather than waiting and hoping for America to re-engage with the world, we need to strengthen trade and financial links in our own region, and to bring China and America into regional agreements much as possible.


China

Do we understand China?

Phillip Adams, on Late Night Live, discusses China’s place in the world with Geoff Raby, former Australian Ambassador to China –  China’s grand strategy and Australia’s response.  We must not yield to the “China threat industry” – the political forces, many of which are in America, that posit a binary choice in dealing with China, asserting it must be one of sycophantic dependency or outright hostility. Instead it should be governed by conventional diplomacy based on interests.

Raby urges us to see China’s place in the world through Chinese eyes.  Even though it is militarily strong, and will soon have an economy larger than America’s, its power in the world arena, particularly its soft power, is limited.  And its policy priorities are internal – mainly to do with holding the country together.

Australia’s policy approach to China has been gauche and offensive. Of course we should call out China for its treatment of Uyghurs, but when we criticize China we should do so in ways that are effective. Some of our diplomatic moves, such as being the first country to call for an inquiry into the origins of Covid-19, or singling out China in our foreign interference laws, have been counterproductive.  (19 minutes)

Raby is author of China’s Grand Strategy and Australia’s Future in the New Global Order.

Has China fibbed about its age?

It serves the interests of the Chinese Government if we think of China as a single civilization with a 5000-year history, but on the ABC’s Saturday Extra Bill Hayton of the Chatham House Asia Pacific Program points out that this is an image constructed by nationalists in the 19th century: China is not what it seems. There have been civilizations dating back 5000 years in the land area of modern China, but they had their own languages and cultures. The idea of a 5000-year-old united and geographically-defined China is a convenient myth for the present Chinese Government. Hayton is author of The invention of China.


The Coalition’s war on renewable energy

We don’t need all that bloody gas

The Australia Institute has published Hugh Saddler’s National Energy Emissions Audit Report for August and September. His report debunks the idea that the fall in fossil fuel use in the National Energy Market has been due to reduced economic activity during the pandemic. In fact most of the recent reduction in fossil fuel use has resulted from wind and solar displacing coal.

Saddler points out, as do many other experts, that Australia does not need any more coal, gas or hydro (as distinct from pumped hydro) to provide a reliable and affordable electricity supply, and that any increased reliance on gas can only increase the price of electricity.

As Tony Woods of the Grattan Institute said on the ABC’s 730 Report, “the wish that gas prices would one day be as cheap as they used to be, is almost certainly a doomed wish”. The Coalition has over-reacted to what it sees as a short-term supply shortage, and is obsessed with keeping coal-fired power stations running. Is gas the energy answer? (8 minutes)

Saddler also notes that because of the increasing uptake of rooftop solar, the minimum demand on the grid, which used to occur in the small hours of the morning, now falls in the middle of the day. (But electricity “retailers”, locked into thinking from 100 years back and into the idea of “baseload” supply, still offer households off-peak tariffs at nighttime rather than around midday.)

Listen to the bankers

Unleashed from the deadening hand of Trump’s ideological censorship, Lael Brainard, a member of the US Federal Reserve Board of Governors, has addressed the economic importance of dealing with climate change – Why climate change matters for monetary policy and financial stability. Private companies, particularly in industries such as insurance, are working to understand climate-related risk, but uncertainty about government policies adds to the difficulty of central banks using their policy levers to achieve economic and financial stability.

State of the climate – it’s getting hotter and drier in our farming zones

The Bureau of Meteorology-CSIRO State of the Climate Report was released on Friday.  As the media has mentioned, it’s getting hotter: we can expect more summers like the 2019-20 scorcher.

Most significant are the high rate of warming in the last 50 years, and the consequences in terms of reduced rainfall in our farming zones in both southwest and southeast Australia. We can expect “continued decrease in cool season rainfall across many regions of southern and eastern Australia, likely leading to more time in drought, yet more intense, short duration heavy rainfall events”.


Unemployment benefits and other economic issues

The rollercoaster of unemployment benefits

In March, in response to the pandemic, the unemployment benefit (“JobSeeker”) was temporarily boosted from its base of $283 a week with a $275 supplement to last until January 1.  The supplement was subsequently dropped to $125 a week, from September to December. The latest adjustment sees the boost cut to $75 a week from January to March, at which stage the unemployment benefit will fall back to $283 a week. (Presumably the ghastly name “JobSeeker” will endure).

The Victorian Council of Social Services has published a rigorous study Social policy during the coronavirus recession: a fairytale with an unhappy ending?. It compares the poverty line for various household types (single, couple, children etc) with the level of “JobSeeker” payments over four periods:

April, before any supplement;

June – September, with the $275 supplement;

October – December, with the $125 supplement;

January – March, with the $75 supplement.

Its main finding is that during the peak June – September period, the average incomes of all categories of “JobSeeker” recipients were lifted above the poverty line. VCOSS summarises it on their web page Did we just end poverty, and then let it return? To quote VCOSS CEO Emma King:

For a brief moment, and for a lucky few, we eradicated poverty. For those magic months, people previously doing it tough could buy healthy food and pay their bills without stress. In non-COVID times, these settings would have also allowed people to look for work without worrying about their next meal. It proves ending poverty isn’t a pipe dream. It’s achievable. It’s absolutely heart-breaking the Federal Government is planning to plunge thousands of Victorians back below the poverty line.

The study’s lead researcher, David Hayward of RMIT says “The report warns we’re poised not to capitalise on this good work, but instead to let people slip back below the poverty line”.

The report is rich in data. Most telling is a set of maps showing Centrelink, “JobSeeker” and “JobKeeper” benefits and poverty rates across Melbourne’s regions. The regions with the highest rates of social security transfers and the highest rates of poverty have been the areas with the highest and most intractable rates of Covid-19 during the state’s second wave.

Not all credit for a temporary relief from poverty goes to the boosted unemployment benefit. Closure of gambling dens also put money back into Victorians’ pockets – probably around $200 million a month.  And there was an increase in household savings: for a brief moment the poor had the dignity of having a few bob in the bank and of not needing to beg from landlords and utility companies for credit extensions.

The VCOSS study has been a major research undertaking. Others have commented on the government’s meanness. The Brotherhood of St Laurence, for example, calls the reversion to the inadequate unemployment benefit a cause for dismay.

The spatial economic impact of Covid-19

The data analysis firm Taylor Fry has produced an interactive map showing the financial impact of Covid-19 by postcode and over time – from March onwards.

For example, if you look at data for 10 October (its latest data point), you will see unsurprisingly that Victoria has been the most negatively affected state.  But when we drill into more detail we can see that western Victoria, and adjacent parts of South Australia, were among the worst affected regions. Within Melbourne the northern suburban regions were badly affected, but Melbourne city, Fitzroy and Parkville came off fairly lightly.

Within Sydney the western suburbs were more badly affected than the mid-inner regions; Adelaide as a whole seems to have come off reasonably unscathed; some of the worst affected areas are in outback Western Australia. And so on.

(Such fine-grained spatial economic data is always useful, particularly in relation to our large and sprawled cities. Unfortunately most journalists fall into the lazy habit of using the term “regional” to refer only to non-metropolitan Australia, ignoring the distinct and varied regions within our cities.)

The government’s employment incentive scheme is too restrictive

The Grattan Institute has published its assessment of the government’s ”JobMaker” scheme, a subsidy for employers to take on people under 35 who are currently drawing unemployment benefits (“JobSeeker” to use the  Coalition’s Newspeak) – JobMaker needs to be far more ambitious.

It is critical  of the constraints on the scheme, particularly its exclusion of older unemployed workers: about 800 000 of Australia’s unemployed are older than 35. “JobMaker” will not apply to those who are unemployed but are not receiving unemployment benefits, and it has too many opportunities for firms to game the system.

When the Grattan Institute’s assessment was published the enabling legislation for JobMaker was held up in the Senate, after Labor, the Greens, One Nation, Rex Patrick and Jacqui Lambie had teamed up to insist on safeguards to prevent employers taking advantage of its incentives by sacking an older worker and hiring a younger one.  But under pressure from the Government One Nation has dropped its opposition and the legislation has now passed.  (Once again, we don’t know what political deals Morrison has done with Hanson to secure this cooperation.)

Because ASIC has been an ineffectual regulator it should be made even more ineffectual

There is a convoluted argument, convenient for those who claim to speak for the business community, that because ASIC cannot regulate its own executives, and has failed so many court cases against corporations, that its powers should be clipped.

Helen Bird of Swinburne Law School, scrutinises this illogical argument: Follow the money in Inside Story. For a start ASIC’s internal problems are unrelated to its external work, and it is a convenient myth that ASIC inevitably fails when it takes on shonky corporations.

The 2018 commission into the finance sector did indeed find that ASIC has been too cosy with regulated firms, using so-called “enforceable undertakings” to deal with errant firms. But largely on Justice Hayne’s recommendations ASIC has become much more assertive. “The cooperative mode of regulation favoured by corporate Australia changed overnight”.  While ASIC’s critics want only to discuss its failures, “so far this year, it has logged wins against the NAB, Westpac, AMP, the Commonwealth Bank, MFS, OTC and Emmanuel and Julie Cassimatis, directors of Storm Financial”.

Bird concludes that ASIC “should be given a chance to do its work without a constant mood of crisis, especially when that crisis seems to be entirely generated by questionable self-interest”.


Education – lost opportunities

A generation slipping behind

Linda Galligan and Megan Axelsen of the University of Southern Queensland, and Deborah King of the University of Melbourne, point out that fewer Year 11 and 12 students are taking high school mathematics subjects, or if they do study mathematics they are taking thinned-down courses that omit basic skills such as algebra and calculus.  While international comparisons are difficult, what data we have (PISA and TIMSS) indicates that mathematical achievement scores for 15-16-year-olds have been declining, and that the ranking between Australia and the top-performing countries is widening.  Fewer Australians are taking advanced maths in Year 12. We can learn from countries doing it better, in The Conversation.

(Businesspeople are concerned about our falling mathematical standards in relation to our need for STEM skills. Presumably the government is more relaxed, because a more  mathematically literate population would surely be able to consider more critically the misuse of data on climate change and economic performance practised by the Coalition and by mathematically challenged journalists.)

More funds for indoor equestrian centres in private schools

Writing in Michael West Media, Trevor Cobbold of Save our Schools takes us through the figures on Commonwealth funding for public, independent and Catholic schools –  Going Going, Gonski: public schools finally abandoned for the elite:

With its blatant favouritism, the Morrison Government has completed the demolition of the Gonski funding model that began with the Abbott and Turnbull governments. Those governments ditched the large funding increase for 2018 and 2019 that was planned under the original Gonski funding model, an increase that would have mainly benefitted public schools.


Australia’s trend to authoritarianism

Darkness at noon – the secret trial of Bernard Collaery

While we congratulate ourselves on having a more robust democracy than the US – hardly a demanding hurdle – Bernard Collaery reminds us that in our own country he is subject to a secret trial for his having been defence lawyer for “Witness K” – a loyal public servant who is “treacherously backgrounded in Canberra as an employee disgruntled by non-promotion in the same way that Moscow used to refer to its defectors”.

“With the door shut, the CCTV shrouded, the court transcription service displaced by an agency recorder, the secret trials in Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon came back to mind.”

His Time for reform — Sanctuary speech, delivered as the Annual Human Rights Lecture at the University of New England, takes us through the postwar history of Australia’s relationship with its neighbours. The Curtin, Chifley and Menzies governments embraced the decolonisation spirit of the Atlantic Charter – “a sense of decency prevailed in Canberra”.  But that gave way to a form of nationalism that placed Australia’s commercial interest – or more correctly the interests of foreign firms with a stake in resources controlled by Australia – ahead of development goals.  It’s also about the general deterioration of the intellectual and moral standards of our present-day public servants, (who don’t even stand up against the misappropriation of sport grants, let alone against fundamental breaches of legal principles).

How unlike the Curtin, Chifley and Menzies eminent support crews are some of our current intense, narrow and often prescriptive senior bureaucrats. Now there is little accountability. Courage too is in short supply with a lonely under-funded Commonwealth Auditor-General being left as full-back for a bureaucracy often either too gutless, risk averse or intimidated to tackle their own Ministers.

Warning to business and to independent authorities – don’t publicly disagree with the Ruling Party

David Littleproud, a senior minister in the Morrison Government, went on a holy war when the ANZ Bank, in order to protect its customers and shareholders from some of the risks of climate change, decided to limit its exposure to fossil fuels. Laura Tingle recounts that he threatened to revoke government guarantees for ANZ bank deposits in revenge: It’s not just public servants feeling the ire of the Morrison Government.

Tingle points out that in similar style, Morrison has said he is “disappointed” by the Auditor having exposed the land deal at Badgerys Creek – as if the ANAO is a branch of executive government rather than an independent body accountable to Parliament.

She notes that in the US Trump has set out, with some success, to bring that country’s independent institutions under his control and refuses to accept accountability for his actions. But “the arrogant approach of our Prime Minister and his Government to feeling so little accountability, or respect for transparency, should be of equal concern here.”

Political horror – former Liberal and Labor Prime Ministers agree on fundamental issues

Unsurprisingly, Sunday morning’s Insiders was devoted to the Biden victory.  The first 23 minutes was given to clips of street scenes and political statements by Biden and Trump.

But then they called on Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull for comment, and the discussion turned to three issues where a Biden presidency will have significant implications for Australian policy: climate change, relations with China, and the political reach of the Murdoch media, now that “Murdoch’s man in the White House has been defeated” (to quote Turnbull).

In their 25-minute discussion it is hard to find any points of disagreement between them on any of these three issues. In his criticism of Morrison for his failure on climate change Rudd is only a shade more vehement than Turnbull (both had their own backdowns when they were prime ministers).

If you stay tuned in past the Rudd-Turnbull session (which ends at 48 minutes) you will hear Peter Hartcher, Lenore Taylor and Stan Grant join with David Speers in assessing the likely policy path of the Biden administration.  Grant, conscious of the political and cultural constraints facing Biden, is somewhat less sanguine than Hartcher and Taylor.


The pandemic’s progress

Australia – not much to see here

Over the last two weeks 108 new cases of Covid-19 have been recorded in Australia.  Of these all but 12 (11 in New South Wales and 1 in South Australia) have been travellers in hotel quarantine. Quoting epidemiologists (Hassan Vally, Catherine Bennett), the ABC journalist Catherine Hanrahan suggests that coronavirus could disappear if New South Wales and Victoria maintain control.

Of course it hasn’t disappeared: there are still 73 active cases in Australia – mainly returned travellers, and with their number being ramped up to get people home by Christmas there remains the possibility that the virus will escape from hotel quarantine. The virus is still being picked up in sewage in places. And there is also the possibility – the probability – that the virus is lurking in people manifesting no symptoms.  But whatever we call it – eradication, aggressive suppression – if we pull off effective eradication in Australia it will be an impressive achievement, and most credit goes to the New South Wales and Victorian premiers, who, in National Cabinet back in March, stood up against Morrison who was  unenthusiastic about taking strong action.

Our part of the world

The table below is an update of the one we ran in August, covering countries in our region, and the US and UK – countries with which we often compare our performance on other matters.  For the most part we’re in relatively safe company: even the worst afflicted countries in our region are doing much better so far than the US and the UK. For some of the countries with less developed public health systems these figures may understate the extent they have been affected with Covid-19.

Note that our table does not show some small Pacific islands. It has been reported that Vanuatu has just recorded its first case.

Europe and America

In the US case numbers are still rising steeply, and in terms of new cases per day it has passed the UK. And note that the graph shows a seven-day average: figures for the last few days would put the country off the scale. But a number of European countries are ahead of the USA: the Czech Republic holds the European first place with just on 900 new cases a day per million population.

On the other end of the European scale, Ireland’s Victoria-style lockdown seems to be producing results. Two weeks ago its daily rate of new infections was 188 per million; it is now down to 82 per million. A few other European countries seem to be coming off their highs, but not as effectively as Ireland.

Slovakia stands out for a different approach: this country of 5.5 million is endeavouring to test every adult to bring down its daily infection rate from its present 400 or so per million. Because its test can produce false negatives, some people with the virus will slip through the net and won’t quarantine: it’s not perfect. But it will be interesting to see if it brings down the virus’s reproduction rate.

We should also mention Sweden, still the model for right-wing libertarians who believe the virus should be allowed to spread relatively uncontrolled in the hope of achieving herd immunity. It was holding a reasonably low new case rate until recently – about 50 new cases a day per million people – but in its latest wave the rate has shot up steeply to around 400. Even if catching the virus confers immunity (unlikely), at the present rate of infection it would take about 20 years for the country to achieve herd immunity.

Sources

Sources of generally reliable information and analysis about Covid-19 are on a separate web page. This week the Economist has a special feature on Europe as many countries re-enter lockdown. Notable from its map are the comparatively good performance of Germany and most Nordic countries (but still bad by Asian standards) and the concentration of cases in northern England.


Public ideas

Who has political influence?

The rich obviously.

But it’s not so obvious. Public choice theory – popular in Australian universities – suggests that policy in democracies is determined by the preferences of the median voter. A platform crafted around public choice theory should secure the votes of 50.000001 per cent of the electorate. Other theories are based on the competing interests of pressure groups: as pressure groups rise and fall in their strength, so do their interests become satisfied or neglected in parties’ platforms.

Writing for the Institute for New Economic Thinking, Thomas Ferguson of the University of Massachusetts explains a research paper (linked in his article) reporting the work of Shawn McGuire and Charles Delahunt who applied what they claim to be more robust data-analysis techniques to data collected for earlier studies. Affluent authoritarianism: McGuire and Delahunt’s new evidence on public opinion and policy. Their finding is that the strongest factor explaining public policy in the US is the set of personal interests of those in the top 10 per cent income bracket. Forget pressure groups or the ultra-rich. They could find no other strong explanatory variables.


Polls and surveys

Newspoll – nothing much happening

The main item on William Bowe’s Poll Bludger this week is a report on the most recent Newspoll, showing a 51:49 TPP vote in favour of the Coalition. The Coalition primary vote is 43 per cent (41 percent at last year’s election), and Labor’s is 34 per cent (33 percent at the election).  Morrison maintains a strong lead over Albanese on personal approval and as preferred prime minister.


After the polls

Celebrations in the streets

Let’s finish this week with photos from The Atlantic of Americans celebrating in the streets.


Watch out tomorrow, Sunday, for Peter Sainsbury’s Sunday environment round up

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Ian McAuley is a retired lecturer in public finance at the University of Canberra and a Fellow of the Centre for Policy Development.

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