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Polly Peck
12 May, 2010  
Capital Offences

Outpouring of ennui at the return of Turnbull – freshly repackaged man of principle … Why do allegedly “moderate” Liberals sound so extreme? – The case of George (Soapie) Brandis … Quintet tunes-up … Attorney General’s big ticket budget items


imageNaturally, with federal parliament back in harness for the last session before the election, politics and politicians are on my mind.

The bumptious M. Turnbull has been lured by a wave of support to stay pat in the seat of Wentworth.

Living in that electorate myself I must say that this grief from the masses at the thought of losing the feline’s friend had missed me entirely.

Indifference shadowed by ennui is the mood I pick-up.

Malcolm’s rebadging of himself as a man of principle makes many a Wentworthite quietly nauseous.

After all, as Howard’s Minister for the Environment he gave the tick to Gunns’ excessively polluting pulp mill on the Tamar and had a strong greenie campaign against him at the last election.

As Leader of the Opp he was against everything from the tax on alchopops to Rudd’s economic stimulus.

He supported the ETS mainly because at the time it was hugely popular and he thought the Liberals would be in a hole forever if they opposed it.

Actually, for the entire period of Malcolm’s leadership his party was quite unelectable, particularly after his overreaching demand for Rudd’s resignation on the strength of Godwin Grech’s fabricated email.

There was also the unedifying bullying of the PM’s economic advisor Andrew Charlton at last year’s Press Gallery Ball. Can there be anything worse than bullying at a ball?

After the spill in the party room on December 1 he double-crossed that assiduous blockhead Joe Hockey by running against him, splitting the “moderate” vote and allowing the crazed Abbott to grab the leadership.

Turnbull, the principled saint, is just too much to swallow.

* * *

These days it’s difficult to tell the wet Libs from the far right crackpots.

imageWe are assured by press gallery hacks that George (Soapie) Brandis, the shadow AG, deputy Liberal leader in the Senate and Turnbull chum, is a “moderate”.

The Poisoned Dwarf and Walkley’s performer Glenn Milne got carried away at one stage describing Soap as …

“one of the finest institutional minds on either side of politics.”

Brandis actually looks straight out of the Nasty Party’s casting catalogue and most of his utterances are more in the vein of snarls.

His blustering, pompous barrister, performances at Senate Estimates have plain thinking citizens cringing. Last year he tried to torture Cathy Branson to death for allowing the Human Rights Commission to be represented at the UN Durban review conference of racism.

Needless to say, like all decent “moderates”, he is steadfastly opposed to a Charter of Rights.

imageHe also opposed the plans to rationalise the federal court system, on grounds that because both the Federal Court and the Federal Magistrates Court were Liberal government inventions they should never be tinkered with.

Indeed, he is such a “moderate” that ultra-conservative Western Australian Lib senator, Belgium born Mathias Cormann, ran against the Queenslander for deputy senate leader of the Libs.

The Libs had just elected as their senate leader Eric (Otto) Abetz, one of the creepiest creatures ever to get his tail on the parliamentary leather.

Wikipedia has more details about Otto.

To have Cormann as his deputy was a step too far into darkness, even for the lunar Libs.

All of this shuffling was due to the retirement of Turnbull’s nemesis Nick Minchin.

imageCormann’s (pic) platform was along the lines, that a vote for Brandis would only encourage that dangerous leftie Malcolm Turnbull to have another crack at the leadership.

Anyway, it was Minchin who stepped in and calmed things down, saving the day for Soapie, who pulled 18 votes as opposed to eight votes for Cormann and five for Ian Macdonald.

People also tell me with a straight face that Christopher (Poodle) Pine is a “moderate”.

The puzzle is why do these “moderates” sound and look so rabid?

* * *

Squeezed between his triumphant announcement of a human rights “framework” and his SCAG deliberations, Attorney General Robert McClelland zipped off to Washington for a round of glad-handing, cocktails and schmoozing.

The gathering is called the “Quintet meeting”.

It sounds like an ensemble of four strings and an oboe, but actually it’s a chinwag of attorneys general from the old “white” common law countries – UK, US, Canada, NZ and Australia.

Basically, it was all about waving the flag for national security, counter terrorism and countering violent extremism and organised crime.

imageNo wonder the tinted common law nations are not invited.

Potato Head announced that one of exciting outcomes of the meeting was a new “Quintet Organised Crime Group”, which will meet every year.

Clearly he means business. Fast forward to last night’s budget (May 11) and what do we find?

An additional allocation of $38.5 million to hunt down organised criminals. This all comes under the umbrella of yet another “framework” – the Organised Strategic Crime Framework.

Of that, $24 million will be ploughed into AUSTRAC’s “analytical technologies” and $14.5 to a new Criminal Intelligence Fusion Centre within the Australian Crime Commission.

The fusion centre will bring together wallahs from the ATO, AFP and Centrelink.

If organised crime is not enough of a headache, there’s violent extremism that has to be contended with.

Last night Treasurer Swan allocated $9.7 million to a package of measures to fight extremism. This complements an extra $77 million being splurged on things like the National Counter-Terrorism Committee, the Diversity and Social Cohesion program, the Human Rights Commission’s program of “building resilience in vulnerable communities” and ASIS.

All up national security is costing $4.3 billion (including things like border security, airport security, AFP and top-ups for defence).

A comparatively modest $154 million over four years has been allocated to legal aid for (alleged) crims – organised and disorganised.