Wednesday 7 November 2012

Barack Obama's victory speech – full text

US president addresses supporters in Chicago after decisively winning a second term

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much. (Sustained cheers, applause.)
Tonight, more than 200 years after a former colony won the right to determine its own destiny, the task of perfecting our union moves forward. (Cheers, applause.)

It moves forward because of you. It moves forward because you reaffirmed the spirit that has triumphed over war and depression, the spirit that has lifted this country from the depths of despair to the great heights of hope, the belief that while each of us will pursue our own individual dreams, we are an American family, and we rise or fall together as one nation and as one people. (Cheers, applause.)

Tonight, in this election, you, the American people, reminded us that while our road has been hard, while our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back, and we know in our hearts that for the United States of America, the best is yet to come.

(Cheers, applause.) I want to thank every American who participated in this election. (Cheers, applause.) Whether you voted for the very first time (cheers) or waited in line for a very long time (cheers) – by the way, we have to fix that – (cheers, applause) – whether you pounded the pavement or picked up the phone (cheers, applause), whether you held an Obama sign or a Romney sign, you made your voice heard and you made a difference. (Cheers, applause.)

I just spoke with Governor Romney and I congratulated him and Paul Ryan on a hard-fought campaign. (Cheers, applause.) We may have battled fiercely, but it's only because we love this country deeply and we care so strongly about its future. From George to Lenore to their son Mitt, the Romney family has chosen to give back to America through public service. And that is a legacy that we honour and applaud tonight. (Cheers, applause.) In the weeks ahead, I also look forward to sitting down with Governor Romney to talk about where we can work together to move this country forward.
(Cheers, applause.)

I want to thank my friend and partner of the last four years, America's happy warrior, the best vice-president anybody could ever hope for, Joe Biden. (Cheers, applause.) And I wouldn't be the man I am today without the woman who agreed to marry me 20 years ago. (Cheers, applause.) Let me say this publicly. Michelle, I have never loved you more. (Cheers, applause.) I have never been prouder to watch the rest of America fall in love with you too as our nation's first lady. (Cheers, applause.)

Sasha and Malia – (cheers, applause) – before our very eyes, you're growing up to become two strong, smart, beautiful young women, just like your mom. (Cheers, applause.) And I am so proud of you guys. But I will say that, for now, one dog's probably enough. (Laughter.) To the best campaign team and volunteers in the history of politics – (cheers, applause) – the best – the best ever – (cheers, applause) – some of you were new this time around, and some of you have been at my side since the very beginning.
(Cheers, applause.)

But all of you are family. No matter what you do or where you go from here, you will carry the memory of the history we made together. (Cheers, applause.) And you will have the lifelong appreciation of a grateful president. Thank you for believing all the way – (cheers, applause) – to every hill, to every valley. (Cheers, applause.) You lifted me up the whole day, and I will always be grateful for everything that you've done and all the incredible work that you've put in. (Cheers, applause.)

I know that political campaigns can sometimes seem small, even silly. And that provides plenty of fodder for the cynics who tell us that politics is nothing more than a contest of egos or the domain of special interests. But if you ever get the chance to talk to folks who turned out at our rallies and crowded along a rope line in a high school gym or – or saw folks working late at a campaign office in some tiny county far away from home, you'll discover something else.

You'll hear the determination in the voice of a young field organiser who's working his way through college and wants to make sure every child has that same opportunity. (Cheers, applause.) You'll hear the pride in the voice of a volunteer who's going door to door because her brother was finally hired when the local auto plant added another shift. (Cheers, applause.)

You'll hear the deep patriotism in the voice of a military spouse who's working the phones late at night to make sure that no one who fights for this country ever has to fight for a job or a roof over their head when they come home. (Cheers, applause.)

That's why we do this. That's what politics can be. That's why elections matter. It's not small, it's big. It's important. Democracy in a nation of 300 million can be noisy and messy and complicated. We have our own opinions. Each of us has deeply held beliefs. And when we go through tough times, when we make big decisions as a country, it necessarily stirs passions, stirs up controversy. That won't change after tonight. And it shouldn't. These arguments we have are a mark of our liberty, and we can never forget that as we speak, people in distant nations are risking their lives right now just for a chance to argue about the issues that matter – (cheers, applause) – the chance to cast their ballots like we did today.

But despite all our differences, most of us share certain hopes for America's future. We want our kids to grow up in a country where they have access to the best schools and the best teachers – (cheers, applause) – a country that lives up to its legacy as the global leader in technology and discovery and innovation – (scattered cheers, applause) – with all of the good jobs and new businesses that follow.

We want our children to live in an America that isn't burdened by debt, that isn't weakened up by inequality, that isn't threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet. (Cheers, applause.) We want to pass on a country that's safe and respected and admired around the world, a nation that is defended by the strongest military on Earth and the best troops this – this world has ever known – (cheers, applause) – but also a country that moves with confidence beyond this time of war to shape a peace that is built on the promise of freedom and dignity for every human being.

We believe in a generous America, in a compassionate America, in a tolerant America open to the dreams of an immigrant's daughter who studies in our schools and pledges to our flag – (cheers, applause) – to the young boy on the south side of Chicago who sees a life beyond the nearest street corner – (cheers, applause) – to the furniture worker's child in North Carolina who wants to become a doctor or a scientist, an engineer or an entrepreneur, a diplomat or even a president.

That's the – (cheers, applause) – that's the future we hope for. (Cheers, applause.) That's the vision we share. That's where we need to go – forward. (Cheers, applause.) That's where we need to go. (Cheers, applause.) Now, we will disagree, sometimes fiercely, about how to get there. As it has for more than two centuries, progress will come in fits and starts. It's not always a straight line. It's not always a smooth path. By itself, the recognition that we have common hopes and dreams won't end all the gridlock, resolve all our problems or substitute for the painstaking work of building consensus and making the difficult compromises needed to move this country forward.

But that common bond is where we must begin. Our economy is recovering. A decade of war is ending. (Cheers, applause.) A long campaign is now over. (Cheers, applause.) And whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you. I have learned from you. And you've made me a better president. And with your stories and your struggles, I return to the White House more determined and more inspired than ever about the work there is to do and the future that lies ahead. (Cheers, applause.)

Tonight you voted for action, not politics as usual. (Cheers, applause.) You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours. And in the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together – reducing our deficit, reforming our tax code, fixing our immigration system, freeing ourselves from foreign oil. We've got more work to do. (Cheers, applause.)

But that doesn't mean your work is done. The role of citizens in our democracy does not end with your vote. America's never been about what can be done for us; it's about what can be done by us together, through the hard and frustrating but necessary work of self-government. (Cheers, applause.) That's the principle we were founded on. This country has more wealth than any nation, but that's not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military in history, but that's not what makes us strong. Our university, our culture are all the envy of the world, but that's not what keeps the world coming to our shores.

What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on Earth, the belief that our destiny is shared – (cheers, applause) – that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations, so that the freedom which so many Americans have fought for and died for come with responsibilities as well as rights, and among those are love and charity and duty and patriotism. That's what makes America great. (Cheers, applause.)

I am hopeful tonight because I have seen this spirit at work in America. I've seen it in the family business whose owners would rather cut their own pay than lay off their neighbours and in the workers who would rather cut back their hours than see a friend lose a job. I've seen it in the soldiers who re-enlist after losing a limb and in those Seals who charged up the stairs into darkness and danger because they knew there was a buddy behind them watching their back. (Cheers, applause.) I've seen it on the shores of New Jersey and New York, where leaders from every party and level of government have swept aside their differences to help a community rebuild from the wreckage of a terrible storm. (Cheers, applause.)

And I saw it just the other day in Mentor, Ohio, where a father told the story of his eight-year-old daughter whose long battle with leukaemia nearly cost their family everything had it not been for healthcare reform passing just a few months before the insurance company was about to stop paying for her care. (Cheers, applause.) I had an opportunity to not just talk to the father but meet this incredible daughter of his. And when he spoke to the crowd, listening to that father's story, every parent in that room had tears in their eyes because we knew that little girl could be our own.

And I know that every American wants her future to be just as bright. That's who we are. That's the country I'm so proud to lead as your president. (Cheers, applause.) And tonight, despite all the hardship we've been through, despite all the frustrations of Washington, I've never been more hopeful about our future. (Cheers, applause.) I have never been more hopeful about America. And I ask you to sustain that hope.

[Audience member: "We got your back, Mr President!"] I'm not talking about blind optimism, the kind of hope that just ignores the enormity of the tasks ahead or the road blocks that stand in our path. I'm not talking about the wishful idealism that allows us to just sit on the sidelines or shirk from a fight. I have always believed that hope is that stubborn thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us so long as we have the courage to keep reaching, to keep working, to keep fighting. (Cheers, applause.)

America, I believe we can build on the progress we've made and continue to fight for new jobs and new opportunities and new security for the middle class. I believe we can keep the promise of our founding, the idea that if you're willing to work hard, it doesn't matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love. It doesn't matter whether you're black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, abled, disabled, gay or straight. (Cheers, applause.) You can make it here in America if you're willing to try.
(Cheers, applause.)

I believe we can seize this future together because we are not as divided as our politics suggests. We're not as cynical as the pundits believe. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are, and forever will be, the United States of America. (Cheers, applause.)

And together, with your help and God's grace, we will continue our journey forward and remind the world just why it is that we live in the greatest nation on earth. (Cheers, applause.) Thank you, America. (Cheers, applause.) God bless you. God bless these United States. (Cheers, applause.)

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Monday 15 October 2012

Baumgartner free fall
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Warriors still maintain rage

NEARLY 40 years after governor-general John Kerr dismissed the Whitlam government, Graham Freudenberg -- Gough Whitlam's speechwriter, adviser and confidant -- is still angry. 

But now his anger is tempered by regret and quelled by the revelations in Kerr's papers confirming the dismissal was conceived in deceit and executed by ambush. "It is my great regret," Freudenberg tells me for this column, "that in all the speeches and statements I drafted for Gough during the crisis, I didn't write something about the governor-general's role in our system of government. If I had, it may have influenced the way Kerr acted."

David Smith, the governor-general's official secretary, who read the proclamation dissolving parliament on the steps of Parliament House, drawing the crisis to a close, confirms via correspondence that he remains steadfast in his view that Kerr acted correctly in discharging his responsibilities.

Last week's three-part series on the Kerr papers -- unpublished handwritten notes, typed memos, correspondence and a secret journal co-written with Paul Kelly and published in The Australian -- has generated a strong response from several important figures involved in Australia's greatest political crisis. Kerr feared being replaced by a compliant governor-general who would follow the prime minister's wishes. He believed this was Whitlam's "strategy".

He told Buckingham Palace of this fear. However, he was counselled that the Queen would follow Whitlam's advice. He used this knowledge to keep his thoughts and plans secret from Whitlam. Kerr told the palace that Whitlam was an inflexible and unreasonable man. He canvassed dismissal before November 11. Later, he justified his actions by arguing Whitlam was planning to remove him.

He also told opposition leader Malcolm Fraser that he feared recall and that he would consider using the reserve power of dismissal. For Fraser, whose strategy was based on Kerr acting to resolve the crisis, this was valuable information. Fraser denies being told this. But after this discussion with Kerr, he argued publicly that Kerr had an independent role to play and he would accept Kerr's decision if he intervened. "The prospect of recalling Kerr was never on our mind," Freudenberg says. "We never canvassed recall because we never calculated that Kerr would act deceitfully."

Whitlam maintains that if he had recalled Kerr, he would be as vilified as the governor-general later was.
Kerr reveals -- a fact not disclosed until this column -- that it was Fraser who urged him to read a legal opinion written by Liberal MP Bob Ellicott. That opinion argued Kerr should use the reserve power to dismiss Whitlam. Fraser organised for Kerr to get a copy of the document.

Freudenberg regrets that Whitlam never strongly countered the Ellicott view, which was being advocated by Fraser to Kerr, with a different interpretation of the governor-general's powers. "In speeches, I avoided the argument about an independent role for the governor-general because Kerr had never indicated to Whitlam that he thought there was an independent role," he says.

Arguments on the reserve powers prepared by solicitor-general Maurice Byers were largely left out of the prime minister's speeches. Attorney-general Kep Enderby delivered to Kerr what was supposed to be a joint opinion between him and Byers urging caution in exercising the reserve powers. But when he presented it to Kerr, he did not sign it, scrawled "draft" across the top and crossed out Byers's signature. "There was no joint opinion," Smith insists, "and in reality there was no opinion at all given to the governor-general."

Kerr, who had firm views about the reserve powers, sought advice and assurance elsewhere. He describes an influential "arch of advice". High Court judge Anthony Mason was the "keystone", who counselled Kerr extensively in secret. The arch included Ellicott and chief justice Garfield Barwick, who gave Kerr formal advice on the reserve powers.

Kerr's papers implicate another High Court judge, Ninian Stephen, as a party to the dismissal. Kerr writes that Stephen knew of the dismissal in advance and sighted Barwick's advice. Stephen denies this."If these judges were convinced of the integrity and propriety of their actions, then why didn't they reveal their role at the time?" Freudenberg asks. Given many of Kerr's confidants, like himself and Whitlam, came from the Sydney Bar, Freudenberg says: "The Sydney Bar did over one of their own."

The Kerr papers reveal a second crisis in the afternoon of November 11, which threatened to unravel the dismissal. Before Kerr dissolved parliament for an election, Clarence Harders, the secretary of the Attorney-General's Department, questioned Kerr's exercise of the reserve powers given that the house had voted no-confidence in Fraser. A week later, Harders eyeballed Kerr and told him the dismissal was unjustified.
"Harders the private person and Labor supporter may not have approved of the dismissal," Smith says, "but in the afternoon of November 11, Harders the law officer advised that what the governor-general was doing in dissolving parliament and ordering an election was lawful. Harders changed his mind between November 11 and November 17, but never said why."

Earlier, in the Senate, supply was passed. A note prepared by the Senate liaison officer outlines how, if Labor did not move that supply be passed, it could have been delayed until the following day. This would mean Fraser had failed to fulfil the terms of his commission as caretaker prime minister. If Whitlam had thought about contingency planning in the event of dismissal or had acted quickly on November 11 to consider what actions he could take to thwart Kerr, the dismissal could have unravelled that afternoon. But Whitlam misjudged the nature of the crisis. He misread Kerr's psychology. He did not counter Fraser's political strategy. He undertook no contingency planning. And, when there may have been an opportunity to undo the dismissal that afternoon, he did nothing.

"We were like stunned mullets," Freudenberg concedes. "We were completely useless. We didn't pay any attention to the Senate. We should have been considering our options." The crisis was as much about the Constitution and convention as it was about personalities, politics and power. For the ageing warriors of the dismissal, the controversy of Remembrance Day 1975 will never fade.
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Saturday 13 October 2012

How Tony Abbott laboured over choice of party

How Tony Abbott laboured over choice of party

BA Santamaria
Tony Abbott's mentor, B.A. 'Bob' Santamaria. Source: Supplied
NEWLY discovered letters that Tony Abbott wrote to his Melbourne-based mentor B.A. "Bob" Santamaria illuminate his inner struggle to decide which major political party to join. 

They show that the person we know as a roguish right-winger during his university days and now as a highly combative Opposition Leader could have ended up a Labor MP.

In his 1994 inaugural parliamentary speech, Abbott described Santamaria as the person who first sparked his interest in politics. This was in the mid-1970s, when Abbott's power base in student politics was the Democratic Club at Sydney University, which was affiliated with Santamaria's National Civic Council.
In 2007, Abbott, then health minister in the Howard government, visited the State Library of Victoria - where 150 boxes of Santamaria's records and correspondences are housed - to launch the second of two books of documents about Santamaria's career. Only part of the Abbott-Santamaria interaction took the form of letters but those that survive are precious. This especially applies to some letters written in 1986 and 1987 - a crucial period in Abbott's life as he moved from the world of NCC true believers into mainstream party politics.

The first pertinent document - dated March 7, 1986 - was written when Abbott, then training for the Catholic priesthood, was working at Our Lady of the Way parish at Emu Plains in Sydney's west. He was an unhappy trainee who needed to be re-energised by Santamaria's zealous criticism of modern social and political trends. In this epistle, he congratulated Santamaria on "a marvellous speech which stirred and inspired many and impressed even those who are not normally sympathetic".

The next surviving letter - dated April 21, 1987 - was just a month after Abbott had abandoned his plan to join the priesthood. Written from the home of Abbott's parents in Sydney's northern St Ives, it indicates that Santamaria had offered him a paid position as organiser with the Council for the National Interest in Melbourne. The CNI was a body to promote discussion on defence and foreign policy that Santamaria recently had helped to set up. He saw it developing into a national political organisation under Abbott's dynamic leadership.

Abbott declined Santamaria's offer. Things would be different if he were still 21 and fresh out of university, or 35 with an established professional reputation. But this was not the case. He had just dropped out of the priesthood and could no longer risk "another great gamble". His life to date, Abbott wrote, combined "much promise but little actual performance". He believed that the time had come for him to build a career so that he could show a future wife and employer that he was solid and dependable.

Abbott told Santamaria that the Bulletin had made him an offer of a job as a journalist that he could not refuse. He felt he could do more to advance the values of the NCC by writing for the Bulletin as opposed to working directly with Santamaria in Melbourne. Although Abbott quickly gained attention writing for the Bulletin, he soon felt discontented again. He was still living with his parents at the end of 1987 when he wrote his next surviving letter to Santamaria.

In it, Abbott confessed he was sick of the NCC criticising unwelcome social and political trends from the sidelines. He wanted to change society by working from within. This meant sharing the fears and concerns of the "common herd". It was crucial to "make the compromises that life requires, be wrong, get blood on one's hands - but at least be in it".

For "vigorous, self-starting people" such as himself, the real issue was to secure a direct parliamentary presence. NCC people needed to "coalesce around leading individuals in the major parties".
But which of the major parties was the more suitable?

Labor's previous 30 years of hostility to Santamaria weighed against it but Abbott wrote, "our roots and the origins of our political culture are there". But if the ALP was not "dominated" by Santamaria-style ideas, it would succumb to "the grip of the Left or of soulless pragmatists". This was intolerable.

However, the Liberal Party was just as problematic. It was "without soul, direction or inspiring leadership", while its members were divided between "surviving trendies and the more or less simple-minded advocates of the free market".

The Liberal Party's mixture of "hand-wringing indecision or inappropriate economic Ramboism and perhaps their lack of political professionalism" struck Abbott as a fatal combination. The choice on offer was bleak. "To join either existing party involves holding one's nose," he wrote. "Either way would upset some. But to do nothing dooms us to extinction." For a while, the choice for Abbott seemed to be the ALP. The NSW Labor government led by right-wing stalwart Barrie Unsworth was due to fight an election in March 1988 and this was surely "a window of opportunity" to be exploited.

In a careful but forceful reply, Santamaria rejected the suggestion of the NCC "going back to our Labor origins in an organised way, as our central strategy". Santamaria noted that Catholics had largely run the NSW ALP since the 1950s but that the only result of Catholic influence in Labor governments, both in NSW and federally, had been "jobs for the boys".

Santamaria also was dismissive of "the reptilian Liberals", who lacked the capacity to win or wield power.
So perhaps Abbott was not so wrong after all. Santamaria did not doubt that, in the person of young Tony, there was an opportunity for "a real apostolate in Labor ranks". Significantly, as a result of the 1987 correspondence, Abbott felt free to embrace mainstream party politics.

It is already known that Abbott voted for the ALP in the 1988 NSW election and that Bob Carr and Johnno Johnson tried to recruit him as a member of their NSW Right faction. Yet, at this stage, the two major parties seemed equally unlovely in his estimation. This meant that it wasn't difficult to switch from one to the other. In 1990, Abbott became press secretary to Liberal leader John Hewson, even though Hewson surely embodied the "economic Ramboism" Abbott had so recently dismissed.

Hewson's defeat in the unlosable election of 1993 did not force Abbott to reorder his priorities. As demonstrated by his correspondence, Abbott was already wary of puritanical zeal. Forced to choose between Santamaria-like zealotry and actual political power, Abbott was going to opt for power. Compromise had ceased to be a dirty word.

From 1987 onwards, Abbott, with Santamaria's reluctant blessing, embraced pragmatism. Provided that it was not "soulless", pragmatism and political accommodation were absolutely OK. It will be in the same pragmatic, yet forceful, spirit that Abbott, as leader of the Liberal Party, will fight and most likely win the next federal election. But how different things could have been!

The authors wish to acknowledge the assistance of Geoffrey Browne.
Ross Fitzgerald and Stephen Holt are co-authors of Alan "The Red Fox" Reid, published by The University of NSW Press 
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Thursday 11 October 2012

Farewell to Lionel Bowen

Invisible MP the very model of a loyal deputy

Date  Don Woolford
Lionel Bowen Born December 28, 1922; Died April 1, 2012

Man of character ... Lionel Brown with then Prime Minister Bob Hawke in Newcastle, 1989. Man of character ... Lionel Brown with then Prime Minister Bob Hawke in Newcastle, 1989.
Lionel Bowen was the most invisible of Australia's major politicians.

He was a senior minister in the Whitlam and Hawke governments. He went close to becoming Labor leader and was the very model of a loyal deputy leader.

Yet the man was so personally modest and self-effacing he was scarcely known outside politics and the Randwick racecourse.

Lionel Bowen served as attorney-general and deputy prime minister. Lionel Bowen served as attorney-general and deputy prime minister. Photo: Robert Pearce Within politics, however, he was highly respected for his loyalty, shrewdness, longevity and humour.
Lionel Frost Bowen, who died yesterday aged 89, was born in the inner Sydney suburb of Ultimo on December 28, 1922. It was a difficult upbringing. His father left when he was 10 and his mother also had to look after her invalid brother and elderly mother while working as a cleaner.

They lived in rented houses in Redfern and Kensington, the latter only a walk from Randwick racecourse. Later he bought the Kensington house and, with his wife Claire, lived in it throughout his career. It was extended as their family grew to five sons and three daughters but remained so modest a Commonwealth driver couldn't believe the deputy PM lived there.

Bowen left school at 14 but later matriculated at night school and completed a law degree at Sydney University. While a solicitor, he had several terms as mayor of Randwick and in 1962 entered the NSW Parliament. Seven years later he enter federal politics as the member for Kingsford Smith, which remained his seat until he retired in 1990.

He was a member of the powerful NSW Right but was never a big factional player. On some issues, particularly protection, he was closer to the left, yet on social issues he was conservative. Some regarded him as essentially a loner. However, when Labor came to power in 1972 under Gough Whitlam, he had the numbers and respect to be elected by caucus to the ministry.

Whitlam was not an early admirer, judging from Bowen's description of his meeting with the new prime minister and his deputy Lance Barnard over the portfolio he would be given.
Whitlam: ''Well, Bowen, you made it.''
Bowen: ''Not bloody thanks to you.''
Whitlam: ''What do you want?''
Bowen: ''Housing.''
Whitlam: ''You can't have housing. You can have Papua New Guinea.''
Bowen: ''I don't want Papua New Guinea.''
Whitlam: ''Well, there's nothing else.''
Barnard: ''Well, you can have the post office.''
Bowen: ''Well, give us the bloody post office.''

Whitlam would change his view, however, and Bowen went on to become special minister of state and manufacturing industry minister. But one of his finest moments came by accident when he stood in for the ill education minister, Kim Beazley senior, to manage the passage of legislation providing funding for non-government schools.

Bowen took over as the opposition moved amendments in the Senate that would have destroyed the bill.
He went on the attack, threatening an election and bluffing the Country Party into crossing the floor.
Whitlam told him, ''Comrade, this is terrific, perhaps you can be my successor.''

He tried twice. After the 1975 slaughter, he ran against Whitlam to stake his claim and lost heavily. After Whitlam was again beaten in 1977, he and Bill Hayden contested the leadership. Hayden won 36-28. Bowen was elected deputy. He'd have liked to have been leader, been PM. But he was philosophical about it. ''That's the way the game turns out,'' he once said. ''I would have liked the top job but the numbers weren't there.''

While Bowen didn't think highly of Hayden, he said nothing publicly or privately against his leader as Bob Hawke started his push for the top job. Nor was he impressed by the flashiness of Labor's new star, saying, ''If we want a film star as leader, why don't we go all the way and import Jane Fonda?''

Finally, however, he accepted that Labor's prospects were better under Hawke and it was he who, with Hawke and John Button, had the final emotional meeting with Hayden in which a succession deal was hammered out. Bowen was a loser from this as he coveted foreign affairs and as deputy could normally have claimed it. But getting the portfolio was part of Hayden's price for going quietly, and Bowen finally conceded.

When Hawke won government Bowen remained deputy, first taking trade and then becoming attorney-general. At that stage he was planning to retire at the end of 1987, to be replaced in Kingsford Smith by Bob Carr. However NSW premier Barrie Unsworth wanted Carr in his team for another term. Hawke also wanted Bowen to stay as a buffer against the thrusting Paul Keating. So Bowen stayed for another term.

He finally retired in 1990 and was replaced by Keating replaced as deputy. His specific achievements over such a long period may have been relatively thin. But he provided the glue of decency, stability and good humour in a cauldron of egos and ambitions.

Hawke said he was the ideal deputy, whose loyalty was absolute. ''An affable, active, shrewd man, with a delightful, self-effacing humour and an uncanny capacity for accurately judging character,'' Hawke wrote in his memoir. Hawke's only public criticism was Bowen's record of tipping race winners. Hawke, who was less than modest about his own ability to judge horses, may have been unfair. Bowen did okay.

Fellow minister Michael Duffy said of his great mate, ''If all politicians, particularly ministers, had such a lack of pretension and conducted themselves as well as Lionel, politicians would be thought a lot more of in the community.'' AAP
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Gough Whitlam just had to ask the Queen to sack John Kerr

ON the eve of the 1975 constitutional crisis, Buckingham Palace signalled that the Queen would remove governor-general John Kerr if prime minister Gough Whitlam asked her to. 

This advice was given by the Queen's private secretary, Martin Charteris, in a letter to the governor-general in early October 1975, five weeks before the November 11 dismissal. It made clear that the Queen would follow the advice of her prime minister. This meant sacrificing Sir John if required.

The governor-general wrote in his journal that he was not surprised to hear the Queen's position, but Sir Martin's letter reinforced his predetermined decision to make any dismissal of Mr Whitlam a secret affair.
The Kerr papers, recently released from the National Archives, reveal Sir John's main obsession: his determination to prevent Mr Whitlam saving himself by the appointment of a more compliant governor-general, unwilling to exercise the dismissal power. The new documents contain extracts of Sir John's letters to Buckingham Palace keeping the Queen informed of the crisis.

In an October 17 letter, the day after the budget was blocked, he tells the Queen that at a dinner the previous night for Malaysia's prime minister, Tun Abdul Razak, Mr Whitlam had raised the possibility of Sir John's dismissal.

In an extraordinary and new account of this dinner, Sir John reveals he told opposition leader Malcolm Fraser that night of his fear that he might be removed. "He (Mr Fraser) said it was inconceivable," Sir John wrote. "I replied it was a matter nevertheless to be thought about. "His reaction was to say the Queen would never permit it. "I told him that that question was one I preferred not to discuss."It was all most unlikely but he (Mr Fraser) would have to make up his own mind about it."

In short, at the outset of the crisis, the governor-general was alerting Mr Fraser to how much he distrusted Mr Whitlam. For Mr Fraser, it was vital intelligence. Even more extraordinary is how Sir John explained his motive for this warning. He wrote: "I did this out of fairness because he (Mr Fraser) could be badly caught by ending up with a governor-general who would not even consider ever using the reserve power, however bad the situation was."

It is a recurring theme in the Kerr papers - Sir John believes he had a duty to deceive Mr Whitlam in order to secure an effective dismissal.The new revelations are contained in a series of notes and letters from Sir John and a 150-page, hand-written journal he penned from Surrey in early 1980.

In September 1975, the month before the budget was blocked, at the Papua New Guinea independence celebration, Sir John raised with the Prince of Wales his deepest fear - that, needing to exercise the reserve powers, he might face "the risk of recall".

A young Prince Charles was sympathetic to Sir John and suggested "the Queen should not have to accept advice that you should be recalled". But this was not the official view of the palace. Upon his return to London, according to the Kerr journal, the prince spoke to Sir Martin, who wrote to Sir John.

Sir Martin's letter is not in the file. It is referenced in Kerr's journal, which says: "Martin said he should tell me that if the kind of contingency in mind were to develop, although the Queen would try to delay things, in the end she would have to take the Prime Minister's advice."

It is a letter from a palace that wants to assist the governor-general but knows and accepts it must act on the prime minister's advice. There is no sense in the documents of the palace giving Sir John an "in-advance" consent to dismiss Mr Whitlam. In his journal, Sir John reveals his deepest feelings about the dismissal. He said he decided to act decisively and the phrase "act by stealth" described exactly "what I decided from September on I would have to do".
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Tuesday 9 October 2012

IMF | Global Outlook

World Economic Outlook (WEO)

Growth Resuming, Dangers Remain

April 2012

The April 2012 edition of the World Economic Outlook assesses the prospects for the global economy, which has gradually strengthened after a major setback during 2011. The threat of a sharp global slowdown eased with improved activity in the United States and better policies in the euro area. Weak recovery will likely resume in the major advanced economies, and activity will remain relatively solid in most emerging and developing economies. However, recent improvements are very fragile. Policymakers must calibrate policies to support growth in the near term and must implement fundamental changes to achieve healthy growth in the medium term. Chapter 3 examines how policies directed at real estate markets can accelerate the improvement of household balance sheets and thus support otherwise anemic consumption. Chapter 4 examines how swings in commodity prices affect commodity exporting economies, many of which have experienced a decade of good growth. With commodity prices unlikely to continue growing at the recent elevated pace, however, these economies may have to adapt their fiscal and other policies to lower potential output growth in the future.

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Thursday 4 October 2012

Family court orders that four sisters in custody case should return to Italy

Sisters custody battle
BACK TO ITALY: The four sisters in the Italian custody case have been ordered to return. Source: The Daily Telegraph
A JUDGE sending four Italian girls home against their wishes "sincerely hopes" their distraught mother will return with them after their father agreed not to lay criminal charges. 

Handing down his long-awaited decision, Family Court judge Colin Forrest said the "sporty" siblings were all "born in Italy" and "did not know life in Australia" before being wrongfully retained here.
"The four girls were all born in Italy, well adjusted, compliant, talented in sport and made it to Italian competitive level," Justice Forrest told a packed hearing yesterday.

In giving his reasons, Justice Forrest sought an assurance from the father, who was back in Italy, not to lay criminal charges now or in the future against his ex-wife "should she determine to return to Italy as I sincerely hope she does".

The father's Italian-speaking lawyers stepped out of the hearing room to call the father and explain the custody deal before Justice Forrest issued the warrant to return the girls.In a sign of the sensitivity of the case, Justice Forrest ordered lawyers for the relevant authorities to correct the spelling of one of the girls' names and to check their birth dates.

James Linklater-Steele, for the relevant authority, which is acting as the Sheriff to return the girls under The Hague Convention, said a federal police officer was waiting in the courtroom.Mr Linklater-Steele also asked for the girls' current location to be written down and not read aloud.The mother's lawyers failed to get another adjournment to seek a further stay."Every effort will be made to immediately return the children," Mr Linklater-Steele told Justice Forrest after he asked if the relevant authority would act "immediately" to send the girls back.

Justice Forrest told the hearing he did not "intend to grant a stay at this point in time" but said the mother "has her rights".The mother broke down as the return orders were made and family members tried to comfort her.
Justice Forrest gave her a few moments to compose herself before she wrote down the address her children were staying at.In a lengthy legal analysis, Justice Forrest rejected all three grounds argued by the mother for her daughters to remain in Australia.

Her arguments that it was "impractical" to send them back, that there were "exceptional circumstances" for them to stay, and it had been "12 months" since the return order was made were all rejected.But Justice Forrest found the girls had been significantly influenced by the mother and those around her, including "extremely inappropriate and bizarre" views of their maternal great grandmother.

He told the hearing that when Queensland police found them in hiding, the great grandmother declared in front of them, "How exciting. Who is going to play you in the movie? They will have to find a good little dark-headed actress to play you".

Justice Forrest told the court he did not want to trivialise the threats of self-harm made by the second eldest daughter but found it was more attention-seeking and she never intended to carry it out.He also found the lapse of 12 months under the legislation which would allow for a possible discharge of the return orders started at the point of the appeal in May, not June last year when return order was first made.

In his closing remarks, Justice Forrest indicated he would have used his discretion to send the girls back even if the mother's argument on the three legal points was successful."The evidence all points to the fact the girls all love their father, even if they do not want to return to Italy," Justice Forrest said.

Wednesday 3 October 2012

Australia Reserve Bank reduces bank rates

Rate cut signals end of boom, warns RBA

Reserve Bank
The Reserve Bank has cut interest rates to 3.25 per cent, a fall of 25 basis points. Source: The Australian
THE Reserve Bank is calling the end of Australia's resources boom next year, as mining projects are shelved or cancelled amid growing concern about the downturn in China.

The Reserve Bank yesterday cut the official cash rate by 0.25 percentage points to 3.25 per cent - taking cuts in the past five months to a full percentage point - as governor Glenn Stevens warned that weaker Chinese growth was affecting the rest of Asia and forcing a downgrade in Australia's growth outlook. "On the back of international developments, the growth outlook for next year looked a little weaker," Mr Stevens said.

Financial markets expect the Reserve Bank to follow yesterday's cut with a further 25-basis-point reduction at its board meeting on Melbourne Cup day next month, which would take official rates back to their low point during the global financial crisis.
The Reserve Bank is likely to trim its forecast for Australia's growth in its next economic review, due next month. However, Wayne Swan said the nation's economy was still growing at its trend rate and the government remained committed to its aim of returning the budget to surplus this financial year.

The Treasurer said the Reserve Bank's decision was a win for families struggling with mortgage costs and argued that the succession of interest rate cuts this year "have been made possible by our responsible budget policy".

Standard variable mortgages have come down by 55 basis points to 6.85 per cent since May and would fall to 6.6 per cent if banks passed on the full cut. This would represent a $150-a-month saving on a $300,000 mortgage since May. However, bank funding costs are under pressure. Ratecity, a firm that compares bank lending rates, said it did not expect many lenders to pass on the full 25-basis-points cut.

Mr Swan has repeatedly pointed to a continued multi-billion-dollar boom in resources industry investment despite the recent slump in commodity prices. Mr Stevens indicated that the sharp fall in commodity prices over the past few months was forcing resource companies to reconsider their investment plans. "The peak in resource investment is likely to occur next year, and may be at a lower level than earlier expected," he said in a statement that accompanied the rates decision.

Mr Stevens said Australia's terms of trade - export prices compared with import prices - had dropped 10 per cent and were likely to fall lower. Although iron ore prices had stabilised over the past month, coal prices had continued to fall. "Economic activity in Europe is contracting, while growth in the US remains modest," he said, adding "growth in China has also slowed, and uncertainty about near-term prospects is greater than it was some months ago".

In August, the Reserve Bank projected that resource investment would peak at 9 per cent of gross domestic product sometime next financial year, but now anticipates a weaker peak in 2013, roughly six months earlier.
Phil O'Donaghoe, a Deutsche Bank senior economist, said the rate cut reflected a desire to shore up the non-resource sector. He said slowing economic growth would make it more difficult for the government to achieve a budget surplus.

Joe Hockey, opposition Treasury spokesman, said Australia could no longer rely on record high commodity prices to boost economic growth and the budget bottom line. He said the rate cut reflected weakness in the economy and noted that Mr Swan had previously described the 3 per cent interest rate reached during the global financial crisis as an "emergency level".

Mr Swan conceded that Australia's lower commodity prices, a higher Australian dollar and heightened global uncertainty had contributed to the bank's decision: "But we should also keep a very keen eye on our fundamental strengths: low official interest rates, contained inflation, solid growth, low unemployment, healthy consumption and a very big pipeline of investment."

Westpac chief economist Bill Evans said the RBA had become more downbeat about the labour market, where jobs growth had remained weak despite a relatively low unemployment rate. The bank had shifted its focus from containing potential price pressure from the mining boom to stimulating struggling construction and retail sectors. Most economists had expected the RBA to wait until next month before cutting rates. The bank's statement once again said the exchange rate "remained higher than might have been expected" given the fall in export prices.

The Australian dollar slumped more than half a cent to US103.4c against the US dollar following yesterday's cut. "We suspect the RBA is likely to continue to be surprised by the resilience in the Australian dollar," Mr O'Donaghoe said. Recent rate cuts have had little lasting impact on the dollar's value. Financial markets are trading on the basis that there is a 73 per cent chance of a follow-up rate cut next month.

However, Mr Stevens's statement gave no clues, simply commenting that the weaker global outlook meant that monetary policy could now be "more accommodative". Innes Willox, chief executive of the Australian Industry Group, welcomed the move, reflecting ongoing concerns among unions and businesses that the economy was weaker than official statistics suggested and Australia's currency was stubbornly high, partly because local interest rates were high compared to other countries.

"This rate cut will hopefully give a shot in the arm to key employing industries across the economy, including manufacturing, construction and services," he added. Greg Evans, head of policy at the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that the cut would "boost consumer confidence, take pressure off household budgets and ease business borrowing costs".

Attention will now turn to how much of the rate cut the major banks will pass on to mortgage rates, which Mr Stevens said had "for some months been below their medium-term averages". Wilhelm Harnisch, chief executive of the Master Builders Association, said it was "now up to the commercial banks to do their bit and pass on these rate cuts in full to their customers, small businesses and homebuyers to help stimulate the economy".

The Reserve's third cut this year, one percentage point in total, brings official rates to their lowest level since late 2009. But the gap between the official interest rate and mortgage rates has increased by about 1.5 percentage points since then, as banks have withheld some of the cuts rather than pass them on to borrowers or increased rates independently of Reserve Bank movements.

"A more competitive market for deposits and tougher wholesale funding conditions for Australia's major banks is the explanation," Mr O'Donaghoe said.National Seniors chief executive Michael O'Neill said that the downward movement in rates had come as a shock to older Australians, many of whom relied on fixed income from deposits.

Saturday 29 September 2012

US, Israel in "full agreement" on nuclear Iran

Updated 4 minutes ago
Obama, Netanyahu hold Iran nuclear talks

After being criticised for not meeting Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York earlier this week, the White House has revealed president Barack Obama has spoken to him on the phone.

The White House says the two leaders are in full agreement on the "shared goal" of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

The conversation came as the United States removed an Iranian opposition group from its list of designated terror groups.

The White House said two men spoke for 20 minutes after a colourful United Nations speech by the Israeli leader, where he held up a picture of a lit bomb and drew a red line to underscore his push for a clearer ultimatum to be delivered to Tehran.

During his speech to the 193-member UN assembly, Mr Netanyahu did not mention Israel's threats to stage a unilateral attack, but said Iran's uranium enrichment plants were a credible "target".

Israel's prime minister Netanyahu points to a red line he draw on a graph of a bomb used to represent Iran's nuke program

"At this late hour, there is only one way to peacefully prevent Iran from getting atomic bombs - and that's by placing a clear red line on Iran's nuclear weapons program," he said.

Mr Obama and Mr Netanyahu "underscored that they are in full agreement on the shared goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon," said a White House statement. They "took note of the close cooperation and coordination" between the United States and Israel on "the threat posed by Iran" and agreed to continue regular consultations, the statement added.

The two have had an awkward relationship, particularly over how far to go against Iran. But Netanyahu welcomed Obama's vow at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday to "do what we must" to stop an Iranian bomb, the White House said. White House officials say they agreed to continue regular consultations.
Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, has also spoken to Mr Netanyahu.

Without naming Israel or the US, Iran's foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Friday his country has been a victim of "nuclear terrorism". Mr Salehi said the Security Council, which has passed four rounds of sanctions against Iran's uranium enrichment, should stop using nuclear weapons fears "as a pretext to act as a legislative body".

'Terror' group de-listed

The US has announced the removal of an Iranian opposition group based abroad, the People's Mujahedeen of Iran, from its blacklist of designated terror groups after years of intense lobbying.

The move, ending a complex legal battle fought through US and European courts, came just days ahead of an October 1 deadline set by a US appeals court by which secretary of state Hillary Clinton had to decide on the fate of the group.

"The secretary of state has decided, consistent with the law, to revoke the designation of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) and its aliases as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO) under the Immigration and Nationality Act and to delist the MEK as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist," the State Department said in a statement.

"Property and interests in property in the United States or within the possession or control of US persons will no longer be blocked, and US entities may engage in transactions with the MEK without obtaining a license."
The MEK, whose leadership is based in Paris, has invested much money and years of intense lobbying to be taken off the list.

The left-wing group was founded in the 1960s to oppose the shah of Iran, and after the 1979 Islamic revolution that ousted him it took up arms against Iran's clerical rulers.

In a statement the head of the group, Maryam Rajavi, "welcomed and appreciated" the decision. "This has been the correct decision, albeit long overdue, in order to remove a major obstacle in the path of the Iranian people's efforts for democracy," Ms Rajavi said. "In the days and months ahead, we hope to better introduce ourselves and our goals to international community and the American people." But in its note about delisting the MEK, the State Department stressed that it had not forgotten the group's militant past. "With today's actions, the Department does not overlook or forget the MEK's past acts of terrorism, including its involvement in the killing of US citizens in Iran in the 1970s and an attack on US soil in 1992," it said. "The department also has serious concerns about the MEK as an organisation, particularly with regard to allegations of abuse committed against its own members."

The United States designated it a "foreign terrorist organisation" in 1997, putting it in a category that includes Al Qaeda, the Palestinian Hamas and Lebanon's Hezbollah. The State Department deems the MEK responsible for the deaths of Iranians as well as US soldiers and civilians from the 1970s into 2001.

Thursday 27 September 2012

First look at our potential new banknotes - and the untold tale behind their design

Designers were briefed to capture "characteristics of Australia" with "youthful" and "energetic design qualities". They were supplied with new portraits depicting the subjects on the notes at earlier moments in their lives.
Controversially, the Reserve Bank toyed with the idea of removing the Queen from the $5 note in favour of the father of Federation, Henry Parkes, and Australia's first female political candidate, Catherine Helen Spence, who featured on a commemorative $5 note in 2001. It is understood that the Reserve Bank decided to stay with the Queen and returned to the other existing portraits in the middle of last year.

In 2009, then Reserve Bank assistant governor Bob Rankin said it would be controversial to choose new portraits but there were "some good reasons" to change, including a legal threat by a descendant of indigenous author and inventor David Unaipon, whose likeness appears on the $50 note.

Unaipon's great nephew, Allan "Chirpy" Campbell, has alleged the Reserve Bank paid for permission to use the image to the late Melva Linda Carter, who had falsely claimed to be Unaipon's daughter. Mr Campbell said that he loved the newer portrait of his uncle. "It's deadly, but if they want to use it the Reserve Bank is going to have to renegotiate with the proper family," he said.

GALLERY: See the banknote designs

A spokesman for the Reserve Bank confirmed the existence of the banknote project in a statement to The Australian last night. "Australia has experienced relatively low levels of counterfeiting for many years," it said.
"To ensure that this remains the case, the bank has been working for some time on a program that will result in an upgrade of Australia's banknotes. These upgraded banknotes will incorporate a number of new security features but most of the existing design elements such as the colour, size and portraits on the current banknote series will be unchanged."

Emery, a respected Melbourne designer who worked on the current Australian polymer notes, confirmed that he and his team were collaborating with the bank to incorporate fresh artwork and a range of updated security features into the polymer currency, which was progressively introduced between 1988 and 2002.
The bank spokesman said it was expected that it would be several years before the first of the upgraded banknotes would be issued. Other denominations would be issued progressively in subsequent years, he said.

Emery said the project was on track and the Reserve Bank had made only minor adjustments to the designs it had approved for further development in 2010. Internal bank documents, obtained by The Australian, reveal that the bank was initially prepared to exclude Australian designers from working on the new series, opting instead for Swiss designer Alexander Fellmann, who asked for $464,000 to create a set of five banknotes.

Fellmann was recommended to the Reserve Bank by the Swiss-born chief executive of the bank's subsidiary Note Printing Australia, Bernhard Imbach, who lent his support to Fellmann's case. The Reserve Bank confirmed that Mr Imbach and Fellmann had worked together on the redesign of the Swiss banknote series in the 1990s. According to briefing notes of a March 2009 meeting, Mr Imbach told the bank that the costs of hiring Fellmann were "reasonable considering the costs of hiring another designer is much more costly".
According to internal bank memos, Mr Imbach estimated that the cost of acquiring the services of noted banknote designer Roger Pfund at 500,000-600,000 Swiss francs ($517,000-$617,000) "for one design".
The Australian has learned that in 2006 the Reserve Bank contracted Pfund to provide a quote for developing a "benchmark concept" for a new $50 note. His asking price was 35,000 Swiss francs. A former insider said Pfund was overlooked for further work on the project in preference to Fellmann despite his seniority.

Fellmann's first involvement in the NGB project was in 2008, when he produced a benchmark for the $50 note design. He charged $48,000. In a memo dated February 2009, a senior Reserve Bank manager, Tom Rohling, suggested NPA's estimate for Fellmann's costs was "10 times that of a single design, which is line with two full sets of designs". He warned there were "significant risks associated with relying on just one designer for the NGB. The cost of Fellmann's work is substantial, and there is no guarantee that the designs will prove acceptable to the bank," he wrote. "In addition there may be some damage to the bank's reputation if an Australian designer is excluded from the design process."

In March 2009, Mr Imbach's choice of Fellmann was overruled by the bank, and two other designers were invited to quote on producing concept designs. Amanda Jones, a former designer with NPA, told the bank she would charge $50,000 while Emery submitted a quote of $160,000. The Reserve Bank spokesman said the bank had undertaken "a fair and rigorous assessment of the designers". "These designers were chosen by the bank because they were experienced and well regarded in a highly specialised field," he said. "The overseas banknote designer's experience and his previous relationship with the CEO of NPA was disclosed to the bank's management at the time."

Fellmann later dropped his estimate by half to $249,000, which he said did not include the costs of "banknotisation", for which he would charge extra. According to a confidential Reserve Bank briefing note of August 2009, Jones reported to the bank that employees of NPA and its sister company Securency "had told her that her quote was considerably below that of the other two designers". This had raised concerns confidential details had been passed on. No action was taken over the suspected breach, an insider told The Australian. Contacted in Switzerland by The Australian, Fellmann declined to comment on his work, directing questions to the RBA.

A spokesman for Mr Imbach said he was on leave and could not respond to questions for a fortnight. In September 2009, when an RBA internal panel reviewed the preliminary work, Fellmann's designs were judged the weakest, the former insider said. They were rejected in mid-2010 but he was still paid nearly $300,000. The RBA confirmed the three designers were paid about $550,000 in total.
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