I lately lost a preposition
It hid, I thought, beneath my chair
And angrily I cried “Perdition,
Up from down in under there”
Correctness is my vade mecum
And straggling phrases I abhor,
And yet I wondered, what should he come
Up from down in under for?
What a wonderful little verse is that. Such clever rhymes: “preposition” with “perdition”; “mecum” with “he come”. And how erudite, with the little bit of Latin in there. And, above all, how instructive, as it relates to parts of speech.
So, the Abbott Government has beaten a tactical retreat in its class war.
Shortly before the first Question Time of the last sitting period of federal parliament for the year, Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his hapless, hopeless Minister for Education, Christopher Pyne, held a press conference to announce they were reversing themselves yet again on the subject of schools funding.
That makes four policy positions in exactly four months. A double flip-flop.
Let’s count them. Read more
If Big Tobacco’s ongoing legal onslaught against the Australian government is intended to intimidate other countries considering plain-packaging laws, it’s not working. Not according to the architect of Ireland’s incoming plain-pack scheme, at least.
“It makes me more determined,” Irish Health Minister Dr James Reilly tells The Global Mail.
“It indicates to me that the tobacco industry know [plain packaging] is going to work, and that’s why they fear it.”
Draft legislation modelled on Australia’s plain-packaging laws was approved by the Irish cabinet in November, clearing the way for a bill to be introduced into Ireland’s national parliament, the Oireachtas, early next year. Read more
The Global Mail’s director of photography is a finalist for the National Photographic Portrait Prize 2014, for an image shot in May of the man who would soon be Prime Minister, Tony Abbott. We asked Mike Bowers to explain his thinking behind the making of this portrait.
Former Labor leader Kim Beazley never spoke so impressively as in defeat. And that was never more apparent than on election night in 2001.
Six months out from the November 10 election, Beazley and the Labor Party had looked nearly certain to take government from Prime Minister John Howard’s Coalition. Labor was way ahead in the public opinion polls – Nielsen showed them in front, in two-party preferred terms, by 60 to 40 through April, and 57 to 43 at the end of May.
Revelations on Monday that Australian spies successfully tapped the phone of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and those of his wife and inner circle, have unsurprisingly been the cause of much chatter in parliament.
But if “Indonesia” features heavily in Hansard transcripts this week, that’s not exceptional. Prime Minister Tony Abbott hasrepeatedly assured our northern neighbour that Australia’s relationship with Indonesia is “the single most important [one] we have”. And if mentions in parliament are any measure of a country’s importance in Australian eyes, then Hansard certainly bears out the PM’s sentiment.
Shrift is a word you don’t hear much these days, and almost never hear by itself; only in association with another word, “short”.
Originally, the dictionary tells me, shrift referred to absolution given by a priest. But short shrift has come to mean something else. When you give something or someone short shrift, you treat them carelessly, or with scant attention. Or worse, with a kind of haughty disregard.
I was minded to look the expression up, while trawling around online for news about Australia’s deteriorating relations with Indonesia, and noticing a headline from The New Zealand Herald: “Outrage as Jakarta gets short shrift.” Read more
Not all conservatives are stupid, but most stupid people are conservative.
So said John Stuart Mill, who is generally credited as being one of the fathers of modern liberalism, one who stood for the liberty of the individual against the power of the state.
Now, I quote Mill not to endorse the comment, although many admirable people have done so over the past couple of centuries.
I quote him to make the point that it appears the powers that be within the ironically named Liberal Party of Australia not only endorse Mill’s aphorism, but believe there is political capital to be made from appealing to stupidity.
We could cite many examples, but let’s focus on just one; one which can be found on page 11 of a document released in August 2013, entitled The Coalition’s Policy for a Regional Deterrence Framework to Combat People Smuggling.
Among the various measures outlined in the document, was this gem:
“[A] capped boat buy-back scheme that will provide an incentive for owners of decrepit and dangerously unsafe boats to sell their boats to government officials rather than people smugglers.” Read more
Hypocrisy and politics go hand in glove, that’s axiomatic. But there are degrees of hypocrisy, as the first actual day of business of the 44th Parliament showed.
Let’s start from the least of examples and work up, shall we?
And the least of it was name-calling. Our example here actually starts on the previous day, Tuesday, when the new manager of Opposition business in the house, Tony Burke, zinged one off the new Speaker, Bronwyn Bishop.
He compared the ascension of the highly partisan Bishop to the supposedly neutral position of Speaker to one of the plot twists in the Harry Potter story Read more