Tag Archives: australia

Are we fiddling while Australia burns?


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The good news for Australia is that temperatures have fallen and rain is forecast.

I was born and brought up in Australia, so can imagine all too vividly what it is like to live through the horror of out of control bushfires. I’ve seen one from a distance, and even though I was safe it was frightening. Having to flee to the nearest beach in order to save yourself from burning to death is terrible to contemplate.

Although bushfires have always been part of the Australian experience, the number and intensity of the fires has increased. In the 1950s and 60s we had bush fires, but no ‘bush fire season’, as there is now.

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Two earthly halves locked in a downward spiral

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Jeremy Clarkson recently became a climate change believer when he experienced a dry lake in Cambodia.

I recently experienced something of the bush fire season in Australia. As well as all-pervasive smoke in most of Queensland and New South Wales, ABC Radio news is a constant stream of news on the bush fires – hundreds of them raging all the time. And it is still their spring.

Without trying to rehearse the dangers of climate change, I have one particular fear.

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Rejoice for Australia! But referendums on social issues must not be the new normal

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The majority of Australians have backed equal marriage in a postal vote survey: 61.5% of Aussies endorsed the rights of LGBT+ citizens. It is now over to the Australian parliament to implement the will of the people.

LGBT+ Aussies and allies rejoice after a deserved victory. But it is sad that this referendum had to happen at all.

I realise that to most, holding the referendum was just sensible politics and a civilised means to settle a debate in a democracy. But this vote really was petty: someone’s private relationship is neither a political or democratic concern. It’s not something to be deliberated on by the masses; you’re dealing with people’s profound personal identities and relationships – things that are fundamental to their lives.  Someone’s basic right to exist as themselves in society is not another ‘issue of the day’.

It is completely mad that an anonymous same-sex couple living somewhere in Australia who want to get married had to consult the entire voting population of the country.

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Joy after “overwhelming” Australian vote for equal marriage


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The BBC reports:

Australians have overwhelmingly voted in favour of legalising same-sex marriage in a historic poll.

The non-binding postal vote showed 61.6% of people favour allowing same-sex couples to wed, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said.

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Update on that Australian constitutional crisis sparked by the blog of a former Lib Dem candidate…

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Further to my blog this morning, many thanks to William Summers, who has got in touch from Melbourne. He’s sent us the link to the original blog post which led to the Australian Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce, being ruled as ineligible to hold office, turning the Australian government into a minority one. Here is the link to the post.

As a recap, William Summers was the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Norfolk North West in 2010, and worked for Norman Lamb as an assistant. He now lives in Melbourne, Australia.

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Leaving Europe so we can adopt Aussie-style immigration rules won’t solve a thing

 

Nigel Farage told the media last year, “I am saying that if we have an Australian-style points system, immigration would not be a problem.” He made the point again earlier this month, speaking to Sky News.

The fact that inside the European Union we can’t adopt a more restrictive Australian-style points immigration system is for many the single biggest reason there is to leave the EU. Rid ourselves of the shackles of Brussels, crack down, and, as Farage himself said, “immigration would not be a problem.”

It’s a point summed up by their migration spokesman, Stephen Woolfe MEP: “To restore Britain’s borders, we need to leave the EU & implement a fair & ethical Australian style points based system.”

Well, I’m on holiday in Australia this week, and I’ve been reading the papers. And one thing I can definitely say is that an Australian-style points system is no silver bullet when it comes to immigration.

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Edward McMillan-Scott MEP writes… 100 years on from World War I, let’s remember the EU’s role in spreading peace and democracy

Anzac day License Some rights reserved by Ian McKenzieToday is Anzac Day, when we remember those Australians and New Zealanders who fell fighting during the First World War side by side with British soldiers, and the senseless sacrifices of millions of men and women who died across Europe and the rest of the world.

This year will see the one hundredth year anniversary of the First World War and it should give us time to pause and reflect on the tragedies of the first half of the twentieth-century.

As we do …

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Opinion: Lessons from the failure of centre-liberal politics in Australia

Australian DemocratsIn an island not so far away, in a time not so long ago, a socially liberal centrist party met its end under circumstances eerily similar to those the Liberal Democrats now find themselves in. The sudden demise of the Australian Democrats is a tale from the antipodes that holds several lessons for the Lib Dems.

The Australian Democrats were the 3rd force in Australian politics between 1977 and 2008, frequently holding the balance of power in Australia’s elected upper house and achieving election at the state and local council level. They played a lead role in many of the civil liberties, environmental protection and democratic reform battles in Australia during that time. At their height in the late 1990s, the Democrats were vital for the conservative government of John Howard to pass its legislation in the upper house.

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LDVideo: Australian PM Gillard in political put-down of the decade

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A postcard from… Australia

From reading The Australian during an antipodean holiday over the last three weeks, a few national Australian issues stand out:

The state of the Australian government

There are great paralells with the UK here in terms of the actual form of the government. Both countries had elections in 2010 where no party had an overall majority. Despite her many faults, Julia Gillard has been remarkably successful in holding together her government, some might saying “clinging on by her fingernails”, relying on a handful of independent MPs and

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Stephen Williams MP writes: How to damage tobacco brands

The Australian Senate has just passed landmark legislation in the long fight to prevent young people from starting smoking. From next July, all cigarette packs sold in Australia will look the same: a murky green box with big health warnings and the brand name in a standard font. The tobacco industry desperately fought the plans with millions spent on adverts, dubious research, front groups and legal action. But despite their unprecedented campaign, the idea is widely supported by the public and was passed unanimously in the Australian House of Representatives.

Now it’s our turn. The Coalition Government understands …

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You’ve got to love Australian election lawyers

Whoever wrote Section 245(1) of the 1918 Commonwealth Electoral Act, I salute you.

PenguinsNot only did you add in a provision that the legal obligation to vote in Australian elections does not apply to people who are not qualified to vote, you also added in a provision that being dead is a legally acceptable reason not to vote.

A triumph of legal generosity.

And now, excuse me whilst I go and read Part XVII, “Special Provisions Relating To The Polling In Antarctica”. (I want to find out how to become an Assistant Antarctic …

Posted in Election law | 3 Comments
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