Hu you gonna call?

Not Kevin Rudd evidently.

Despite the PM’s so called “special relationship” with China, and his self-professed title as a “diplomat” it seems as though the PM carries as influence as a wet rag in Chinese diplomatic circles.

The Federal Government is still no closer to extracting more information from China about the arrest of Australian mining executive Stern Hu. Chinese born Mr Hu and his three Rio Tinto colleagues were arrested last Sunday for allegedly spying and stealing state secrets.

China’s acting ambassador to Australia was called into the Foreign Affairs Department again yesterday but the Foreign Affairs Minister admits no more detail has been forthcoming.

This report from ABC’s AM Chief political correspondent Lyndal Curtis:

LYNDAL CURTIS: Three times the Government has sought to extract more information from China’s acting ambassador to Australia and it’s still no closer to answers to its questions.

STEPHEN SMITH: No, and that is why we pressed them both in Canberra and in Beijing but I have made the point in recent days despite some people thinking that somehow this difficult issue can be magically solved by one phone call, this is a difficult and complex case. It requires constant attention which is what we are giving it.

LYNDAL CURTIS: Australian officials were able to see Mr Hu last week but under the consular agreement struck with China they won’t be able to see him again for another month.

The Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith has told Radio National the Government’s priority is getting detailed information on the charges that may be facing Mr Hu.

STEPHEN SMITH: To enable us to, in our view, try and protect Mr Hu’s interests, we need to have more detail about that and more precise detail about it and that is what we are pressing Chinese officials for.

LYNDAL CURTIS: And he’s not happy that Australian ministers have been reduced to scouring Chinese newspapers and websites for information.

STEPHEN SMITH: I have made it crystal clear, as have our officials, that I would have much preferred that this information be given to us through the normal diplomatic channels and you can be reliably assured that that is a point that has been made in the last 24 hours to Chinese officials both here and in Beijing.

LYNDAL CURTIS: While Mr Smith and the Trade Minister Simon Crean are trying to separate the detention of Mr Hu from the broader economic and trade relationship between the countries, one former ambassador to China, Ross Garnaut believes the episode may do wider damage.

ROSS GARNAUT: It is going to be an episode that does do damage to China and its international partners. It’s in all of our interests that that be handled with great sensitivity within and without China.

I have no doubt that within China there will be concerns about the international business response.

LYNDAL CURTIS: Stephen Smith has rejected the Opposition’s continuing calls that either he or the Prime Minster pick up the phone to speak to their counterparts in China. He says the Government is being methodical and proportionate and isn’t giving up on Mr Hu but the Coalition’s defence spokesman David Johnston has told ABC TV the Government’s performance isn’t nearly good enough.

DAVID JOHNSTON: The Prime Minister proclaims that he has a special relationship. He is a diplomat. What have we seen from this government with respect to resolving this man’s plight? I just think it is absolutely outrageous and I just cannot believe we are sitting back allegedly, quietly manoeuvring behind the scenes.

The Liberal Party deserves to win the Next Election

Federal Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull says that the Coalition “deserves” to win the next election.

It’s a remarkable observation for someone who had to flee the country to the comparatively less hostile environment of Afghanistan earlier this week.

Despite maintaining a veneer of self-assured confidence, there is no denying that Malcolm Turnbull has suffered a monumentous blow to his credibility and position as Leader of The Opposition.

The trip to Afghanistan was a pointless exercise in itself and a complete waste of tax-payers money, however Malcolm, obviously buoyed with same false sense of bravado and military confidence that comes hand-in-hand with donning a bullet-proof vest and “roughing it” with the soldiers has declared that he can win the next election.

“We will turn it around on election day, that’s our commitment”

“We can win this next election and we should win the next election” he said.

It’s an interesting choice of words. “Should win the next election” infers that the Liberal party has done something to “deserve” to be in an election-winning position.

Of course the reality is a vastly different situation altogether.

Can anyone recall, in recent months, anything that the Liberal party has announced as legitimate and alternative strategies and initiatives that it would do differently from the Federal Labor Government in terms of responding to the GFC, housing affordability, unemployment or nation building?

Despite murmurings to the contrary, Liberal party members are maintaining that Turnbull continues to receive their support as the party leader. He is after all, perhaps the most moderate senior figure.

However one can’t help but feel that the Liberal party is suffering from a severe identity crisis.

They are a party torn between the far right conservatism of the Howard years represented today in personalities like Tony Abbott, who for all intents and purposes, shouldn’t be let loose anywhere near a microphone or journalist, and the more moderate Turnbull who represents the affluent, forward thinking and contemporary mindset of the seat of Wentworth.

The elephant in the room (quite literally) is Joe Hockey. Clearly he sees himself as leadership potential, and despite my own personal opinion of the man, is actually perceived by some as quite likeable, or “avuncular” so we are told.

However, one thing is clear, if Turnbull’s ratings are not resurrected in the polls in the next few months then his position and the relevance of the Liberal party overall, will become increasingly tenuous.

The question is, in the context of a Government that has been universally praised by economists from around the world for its response to the GFC, does the Liberal Opposition really have anything left to offer?

By all accounts, their hugely unnsuccessful attack on the Prime Minister over the entire ute-gate affair would suggest that perhaps the answer is “no.”

Turnbull’s Swan Song

Join us for the continuing saga of Ute-Gate and the up-to-the-minute unbridled, unopinionated and truly effervescent commentary that only the Blogocrats can provide…

With his credibility in tatters, Opposition Leader, Malcolm Turnbull is fighting for his political life after conceding that Kevin Rudd no longer has a case to answer following the AFP’s finding that The Liberal party’s key piece of “evidence” an email, is a fake.

The Liberal Party has now focused their attention on the conduct of the Federal Treasurer, Wayne Swan, however the further they go, the more desperate they appear..

Is that Amanda Vandstone I can hear singing from afar?

Friday Frolykz

Hi everyone,

I’ve opened up the shop early today, cos I’ll be flying off to Melbourne shortly to attend the Blogocrats Pty Ltd inaugural meeting of WCPs.

Actually I’ll be going to see the Salvidor Dali exhibition, Wicked and have dinner at George the Car Thief’s restaurant The Press Club.

In breaking news, Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan has accused Sir Malcolm Turnbull of threatening a government staffer. Can’t wait to find out more of the juicey details on that one!

There’s also a bit of hoo-ha going on about how Prime Minister Kev was part of a now “mysterious” and sinister group called “club 51.”

Sounds like a bit of an S&M club. I wonder if Alexander Downer’s a member?

Speaking of men behaving badly, liberal staffer Anthony Scrinis has also fallen on his sword after feeling up a number of women’s breasts at Parliament’s mid-winter ball. Apparantly he was seen floundering about the dance floor staggering from boob to boob.

One woman claimed that when she told him he couldn’t touch her breasts, he replied: “Well if I can’t grab your boobs I’m going to go grab someone else’s.” Before that, Mr Scrinis was heckling the speeches and comedians.

What a class act!

On another note, it looks like we’re on our way to half a million hits! Who would’ve thunk it??

Remember to check out Tom’s Footy preview and Scaper has a guest post on an Alternative ETS strategy…

toodle-pip!

reb

The Prime Minister is on Top of Things.

Now it might just be me, which typically it usually is, but I am growing a tad tired of Kevin Rudd’s increasing tendency towards providing a running commentary on things that are so fundamentally irrelevant to his primary role of running the country.

While many people are worried about where their next pay packet is coming from and whether they can afford to pay the bills and feed the family, our little “prince of politics” is fannying about positively glistening with feigned outrage over matters that are usually constrained to the rightful domains of women’s magazines.

The little tit-for-tat exchange between Tracy Grimshaw and Gordon Ramsay earlier this week for example, was, apparently, of significant national importance to warrant the Prime Minister’s intervention in news bulletins that are currently making headline news around the world with peach cheeks declaring Gordon Ramsay “a new form of low life.“

Even the Deputy PM, Julia Gillard felt it necessary to voice her disgust in the escalating national security drama of “the chef and the show host” by adding:

“I understand from the publicity that Gordon Ramsay is a good chef,” Ms Gillard said. “I think perhaps what he should do is confine himself to the kitchen and make nice things for people to eat rather than make public comments about others.”

“Nice things to eat?” Well said Julia. Thanks for your contribution to this signficant issue of international current affairs.

As perhaps the nation’s two most important officeholders, I’m glad to see that the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister have their attention firmly focused on the issues that matter.

Sadly however, the matter doesn’t rest there.

In another startling revelation, this week Woman’s Day magazine published photographs of the Prime Minister’s wife Therese Rudd exercising in the gym. Big deal you might think.

Well, you’d be wrong. Once again traversing into the now familiar territory of Women’s rags turf, the PM started up again with more feigned disgust:

“Most women in Australia would feel that they should have some privacy when they go to the gym,” Mr Rudd said.

“If magazines choose to photograph people training at the gym through their cameras without their consent, well, I presume it’s a matter for those magazines.”

Feeling that the PM might be on to something with this new style of “new idea” commentary, the Opposition Leader, Sir Malcolm Turnbull went even further than Mr Rudd, describing the photos as an “unfortunate invasion of privacy”.

Clearly this is a matter of national significance that we should all be concerned about.

And just as you were beginning to wonder whether things couldn’t get any more absurd, they did.

Following criticism that his frontbench re-shuffle heralded a predominantly male line-up of factional heavyweights, the PM dismissed the claims with an unusual term “fair shake of the sauce bottle, mate.”

Kevin clearly thought he was onto a winner here, so much so, that he used the term three times during an interview on sky news.

In his defence, he is from Queensland, but is “fair shake of the sauce bottle” really the sort of thing that we want our nation’s highest elected office-holder to have beamed around the world as Australia’s take on issues of major political significance?

It seems the Kevin Rudd we know today is a far cry from the man we knew 18 months ago as Kevin 07.

But it’s nice to know he’s on top of the issues that really matter to ordinary Australians.

Stunts, Punts and Politics…

Things have descended into a bit of “show and tell” this week in the engine room of democracy.

Earlier on in the week, we had Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, holding up laminated pictures of tractors and diggers ostensibly to demonstrate that tangible work was indeed being carried out on the infrastructure spending that the Government has allocated as part of its nation building strategy.

Mr Rudd pointed out, much to the chagrin of the Opposition, that while the Opposition were determined to oppose much of this expenditure in Parliament, local members of the Liberal party were quite happy to be photographed on-site where the on the ground developments were taking place.

Happy snaps of Liberal members attending launch projects were presented by Mr Rudd which sent the Opposition into a frenzy of howls of derision, clearly miffed at being unequivocally caught out.

There are around 35,000 of these building projects across the country, so this show-and-tell thing could go on for a while.

Wads of “evidence” of these tangible projects were waved in the air by Mr Rudd, while the Opposition became increasingly frustrated with the whole idea that they were beginning to look obstructionist and immature.

Nevertheless, and not to be outdone, Joe Hockey also turned up to school with his show and tell homework, being an oversized laminated “Ruddbank credit card,” and then later in the week a multiple page chart, held loosely together with sticky tape apparently illustrating the level of Government debt that is expected in the years ahead.

Despite claiming that Mr Rudd was playing with “silly props, and all sorts of antics which were quite demeaning of the office of Prime Minister,” Julie Bishop was quite happy to assist the not-so-avuncular Joe Hockey unfold his own “silly props.”

Eventually the Speaker decided he’d had enough and objected.

“Outrageous!” screamed an apoplectic Joe Hockey.

The Speaker signalled that posters on their own were acceptable, but posters taped together were not.

So a rather large pair of orange scissors was found and given to Big Joe, who, somewhat deflated (metaphorically speaking), set about hacking up his homework, while muttering something about economic incompetence and bitter and twisted old Speakers.

The Opposition is also hell bent on continuing its losing streak to nothing by focusing on another subject that no one else really gives a toss about.

That being the appointment or non-appointment of some guy called Hugh Borrowman who could or couldn’t be the ambassador to Berlin because he could or couldn’t speak German.

Who cares? The Liberal party apparently.

So much so, that when the PM was asked about this appointment, or non-appointment as the case may be, it compelled the Liberal leader for Bowman, Andrew Laming to yell out “You’re a bottom dweller..!!”

The relevance of the remark clearly lost on everyone else in the room.

Curiously the Opposition refuse to be drawn on precisely what figure the deficit ought to be, despite their relentless criticism of the Government’s spending.

Could it be that they’re bereft of any original thought, and have just returned to their traditional playground of fear and smear? It certainly looks like it.

Kevin Rudd Talks to God Everyday.

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In the latest revelation in the unravelling of the PM’s constitution, it’s been revealed that the PM, Kevin Rudd talks to God every day.

Now there’s nothing unusual about this.

In fact, many well-respected, articulate and otherwise intelligent world leaders from all walks of life, have relied on heavenly advice when it comes to carrying out their day-to-day political responsibilities.

And fair enough too.

Former Prime Minister, John Howard, for example, was (and probably still is by all accounts) a devout Christian, and enjoyed a close relationship with George Pell (until they fell out over WorkChoices). Now they hate each other. But that’s another story…

Likewise the hugely popular US President George W Bush claimed to have a direct line to the divine from the Oval Office and went hell bent into the immensely successful war in Iraq firmly believing that “God was on his side”. And who would doubt him.

Following recent reports that Kevin Rudd might be a tad vain, The Courier Mail reports that Kev has to remind himself on a daily basis that “it’s not all about me.”

“When I manage to remember that principle . . . I’m much the better person for it,” said Mr Rudd.

Mr Rudd told the Salvation Army’s War Cry his preferred book of daily devotionals was “My Utmost for His Highest”, which features some spiritual “truths” for every day of the year.

“I work out of that and the scriptural readings upon which each day’s devotions are based,” he said.

“And I try very, very hard to reflect on that before I get stuck into the day.”

And who can blame him?

The only question I have, is, if Kevin Rudd talks to God every day, then what does God say back?

Surely it’s a fair question. And personally I’d like to know.

Even if it’s just inconsequential things like “I’m not sure if that tie matches those cufflinks,” or “perhaps you really ought to cut down on salt,” the fact that he is receiving divine counsel and “tips from the top” is something we really ought to know about.

I mean, I don’t really care about the trivial stuff, but if God tells Kevin to nuke Campbelltown for example, and let’s face it, who wouldn’t in their right mind, then I think the public ought to know where the PM’s getting his advice from before we read about the nuclear fallout in the day after tomorrow’s gazette.

Of course, talking to God is really like talking to an imaginary friend. A friend that probably looks a lot like Humpty Dumpty and just looks straight back at you with a blank stare.

I used to have an imaginary friend, but we had a disagreement over religion so I killed him.

Now we just have to depend on my own fickle judgement and limited common sense..

May God have mercy on us all.