31 October 2006

Why Carl Scully failed

The sacking of NSW Police Minister Carl Scully is an illustration of the sort of person who is fooling political parties, journalists and 'political professionals' about what makes a useful minister.

Scully was a micromanager whose interference warped the management of the public sector organisations. How many times did he "announce" the Parramatta to Chatswood rail line - 40? 50? How may halfwitted press gallery journos traipsed out to some point on that shrinking line to hear him talk more and more about less and less? As Police Minister he stuffed reform of the Police Service because Alan Jones asked him to, and overlooked the more-than-competent Clive Small for the quiet man who'd shine the light that shone from his ministerial arse straight back at him.

Scully didn't just fail last week. His whole ministerial career has been a study in failure. Once all those infrastructure projects initiated by the Liberals had been completed he was pretty much stuck for ideas. All that remained was all he had - the repellent personality, blame-everyone-for-the-bad-stuff-hog-the-credit: Keating with learning disabilities.

Scully's aim in public life was to tweak public institutions so that credit for public services reflected not on the providers but on himself. His end came when he was handed a report written by a grown-up about serious, institutional, dry-but-important policy issues, and all Scully could do was fudge and spin. That's all politicians (and I include union apparatchiks here) of his generation have been taught to do. Federal Liberals of this generation don't need the tweaking skills because PM's office will supply you with those, thanks very much (except Brendan Nelson, who developed his tweaking skills independently, and Tony Abbott, a man in breach of the law unto himself). The issues in that report Scully lied about are still important, they still have to be dealt with, but nobody is going to be dealing with them between now and after the next State Budget.

In 11 years in Opposition, this is only the Liberals' second scalp (the first, trivia fans, was Ron Dyer. The Shadow Minister responsible for that has lost preselection). When they first lost office they kept bleating that all would be well again if only they could tweak the PR a bit more effectively. This was the wrong approach, of course, but being in PR means that whenever you're wrong it's never your fault. That's why all the smart people are in PR and, increasingly, all the dills are in politics.

You can't tweak the PR so that credit reflects on pollies rather than service providers. All societies need teachers, nurses, police and firies, and every society that has to choose between them and elected politicians never chooses the latter. If you're not interested in service provision then state politics isn't for you.

Labor wins state elections because they seem to like the dull work of service provision, and aren't too fussy about the remuneration package. Nobody votes for John Watkins or Eric Ripper because they're dynamic or smooth, they vote for them because they seem to plough ahead and get kids taught, sick people tended to and buses to run on time. The Liberals can't get past the impression that they'd rather be somewhere else, strutting around a local council or falling into line in Canberra.

Peter Debnam couldn't run a bath, and NSW voters can see that - but if the NSW Government had any sense they'd get Jillian Skinner and Gladys Berejiklian to run the health system. The current minister, if he were any more of a corpse, would be waiting to be misplaced by an incompetent hospital administrator and covered up in a coffin made from a papier-mache of his worthless press releases. Skinner and Berejiklian's quiet, policy-focussed competence is a stark contrast from Scully's noisy failure. However, it is Scully rather than the other two who provides the model for aspiring pollies to follow. Kim Beazley's aw-poor-Carl was the worst thing he could have done - Beazley associated himself with a popular joke and polling poison, without having the guts to ask his mate to come on down to Canberra and become the next Laurie Brereton.

If you kick people when they're down you drive the message home. Besides, I kicked him while he was up and he didn't seem to mind.

30 October 2006

School chaplains

It's true that the separation of faith and state benefits both. It's also true that policy formulated in reaction to "political correctness" is poor policy. "Political correctness" is irrelevant, it's a bogey used to keep all those old Marxists in line on the right wing; they may have changed their plumage but they still need a bit of dialectic to let them know what colours they're fighting under these days. The chaplaincy program is designed for them, not anyone else.

When a teenager goes to their school chaplain and says that he/she is pregnant/gay, and receives not support and advice but a blast of hellfire-and-brimstone, this whole program will dissolve in a storm of recriminations. Hopefully it will collapse well before then. It's not clear why I should have to pay the Anglican church to appoint an Anglican chaplain to an Anglican school. Any school that had appointed Sheik El-Hilaly would be in a tricky position right now. Invoking the recent deaths of those teenagers from Lismore is really plumbing new depths, and shows just how shallow and badly-thought-out this policy is.

Given that public policy isn't this government's strong point, I'll have the tax break thanks Peter.

27 October 2006

What happened to the NSW Labor Right?

In my day, the Sussex Street Right in NSW was Australia's most effective and fearsome political machine. It decided who was going to be PM and Premier and shut the Left out of every decision-making role, leaving them with the crumbs from the feast if they were lucky.

These days, they are a shadow of their former selves. If you dig a bit deeper into NSW Labor politics you'll see how much trouble the Right are in.

The Carr Government's best Minister was John Watkins, and he should have become Premier. Watkins is detail-focused with a sense of perspective; he's businesslike without being cold, personable but not oily. Watkins was not even considered because, oops, he's in the wrong faction. For the moment.

Shakespeare wrote that sweet are the uses of adversity, and the NSW Labor Left are in a sweet position. They haven't all pissed off and joined the Communists or the Greens and the fight has made them stronger. They've put forward quality people which can only stand them in good stead going forward. NSW may have a Labor Left Premier before it gets a Liberal one.

On the Federal level, the only reason why Labor is led by Kim Beazley is because John Faulkner won't make himself available. The NSW Labor right had no candidate in the recent battle for Labor's Federal Presidency. They were lukewarm on Rann who in turn saw no reason to suck up to Sussex Street. They were embarrassed that Crean was running at all. This ballot killed the idea that Mark Arbib has anything like the clout of Graham Richardson in his pomp. The aborted career of Mark Latham, a Sussex Street scion, and the coming defeat of Kim Beazley next year will cement the decline of the faction generally and Arbib in particular. Get out now Mark and ask for some career tips from Gary Gray, or CrosbyTextor.

The fact that Michael Egan tapped Iemma on the shoulder should have ruled him out. Iemma has all of the impact of Barrie Unsworth but no sense of policy. Like Steve Bracks, he'd rather do nothing than do anything controversial. Like a political hack he's bored answering questions: Iemma's been raised to believe that answering questions as a democratically-elected leader is somehow a departure from his real job. If Brogden was still Liberal leader he'd be running rings around Iemma: public servants seeking to survive a change of government would be leaking like mad, and the Birnam Wood that is the NSW Police would be in open revolt.

Of Scully, more in a future post. In the longer term, compare the Right's most recent state parliamentary leadership contest (Dull vs Sparkles) and the Left's (Watkins vs Tebbutt) and the difference between the two factions is clear.

The big areas of state government are Health, Education, Transport and Laura Norder. The Education Minister, Carmel Tebbutt, is from the Left. The Attorney General and Environment Minister, Bob Debus, is from the Left. The Minister for both Transport and Police is John Watkins, is from the Left. Do you see a pattern here? A whole bunch of ALP Right candidates and ALP head office wide boys are depending upon a bunch of Lefties.

Watkins has a "deputy minister" in the Right's Eric Roozendaal, but so what? This is a face-saving exercise on the Right's part, he might be keeping an eye on the Left but the policy is going over his head. He might be a big man in the back rooms but in person he oozes voter-repellent, and like Scully he's a crap minister because he has no sense of policy beyond the headlines. The Health Minister, John Hatzistergos, is a Right winger who spends all his time apologising for this week's balls-up: he has that Phillip Ruddock winner's pallour. How weak is Hats? So weak that even the Opposition have him on the ropes, and have opened the government's only substantial vulnerability. Neville Wran would have wrung his neck by now.

Iemma will probably replace both Roozendaal and Hatszistergos with members of the Left (yes, I am assuming Labor will be re-elected in March). Clearly, he could do worse. The future of the Labor Party in NSW is facing a fundamental longterm shift.

23 October 2006

The Democrats have a future

Stop that laughter at once! The Australian Democrats do have a future, just not at this election.

The Dems tend to do best when a government changes, and people hedged their bets with them rather than giving a new government carte blanche. Thanks to Kim Beazley there won't be a change of government at the next election, and their leader Lyn Allison has hardly established much of a profile for them.
The next election will see the last four Democrats go to election. There are six places in each state at every half-Senate election, and the major parties take two places each. The other two will be contested by the majors, as well as Family First and the Greens, which will push the Dems to the sidelines if not offstage altogether:

  • Natasha Stott Despoja (SA) and Andrew Murray (WA) are retiring. Murray was a conscientious reviewer of the workings of government, and example of how a house of review should work. Stott Despoja was their showiest show-pony with no achievements beyond the personal after eleven years. Neither will be replaced by a candidate with a remote chance of winning.

  • Lyn Allison (Victoria): Family First will take the anti-pokies message away from Stephen Mayne. The Liberals do a better job of making the moderates feel involved than in any other state. The strength of the Labor left in Victoria will mean they won't try and shut out the Greens. Bye-bye Lyn.

  • Andrew Bartlett (Queensland): I wish him well but his chances are dim. Labor are on the nose at state level. The Liberals and Nationals are unlikely to repeat the four-card trick they pulled last time, especially if the Nats go with Boswell, and as changes to rural media and telecommunications become apparent over the coming year. This is the worst state for the Greens, and the state where anti-Green reactionaries are strongest; as Christian Kerr pointed out in Crikey today, Bartlett can persuade the majors that they could do worse than preference him. He has nothing to offer them in return but better-the-devil-you-know. Call the ambulance but keep the hearse warmed up.

The only chance the Democrats have for the future is if moderate liberals grow tired of waiting for scraps off Howard's plate and overwhelm the Democrats' small and unappealing membership. This will render the Howard Government stale and flat-footed in the face of a more vigorous ALP led by Gillard or Rudd. This environment of change will see moderates step forward in their own right as Democrats - provided they don't choose stupid candidates like Greg Barns or Sandra Kanck they should come back into Parliament to work with, but not for, the next Labor government. It will be a sign of success if they can go on to rack up sufficient achievements that Stott Despoja couldn't come back even if she wanted to.

22 October 2006

The unexamined story is not worth publishing

This is not a vision for Australia. This is a Beazley press release with a journalist's name at the top (and wouldn't you know it, that journalist is Jason Koutsoukis).

In the attached "Kim Beazley's Top 10":

  • points 1, 4 and 7 are utter wank. Ten years in Opposition and that's the best they can come up with?

  • point 2 is likely to be bullshit, and point 8 definitely is. There is no way any politician would honour those promises.So the SBS board will still be sacked with failed preselection candidates and jaded staffers looking for a change of scene? Where are the experts in new mobile multimedia technologies?

  • point 3: OK, so it's too early for details. How about some pilot programs in the Labor states you can point to as an indication of what you mean?

  • point 6: with a privatised Telstra, how are you going to do that? By asking Trujillo if he'll dig into his bonus? By asking the owneers of the next two biggest telcos, the governments of Singapore and New Zealand?

  • point 9: so, Howard's going to halve the number of national media networks, and Labor are going to give back an extra one (which they'll give to someone who'll say nice things about Labor)? What about an actual departure from Howard's frame of thinking? No exploration of new technologies? "We're going to look at the diversity issue, put all those issues into the pot, look at how all this operates … and then arrive at a conclusion." Oh, please. How long has this man been in politics? A serious journalist would have shredded that mealy-mouthed nonsense. Not good enough!

  • point 10: Sounds good but how does it fit with an overall vision of making Australia and Australians safe?

If ever a politician ought not to be taken on trust it's Kim Beazley. When you interview a politician Jason, think about what politicians generally and Beazley in particular have done, and ask some questions.

The fact that a politician has put out a press release is not a story. It's not even a reason for a story. If Jason Koutsoukis wants a job as a Beazley government press sec, he should not be using Opinion pieces in The Age as mortar for his castles in the air.

20 October 2006

Slow news

There's no such thing as a slow news day, just journalists looking in the wrong place. Imagine how different history would have been if the evil plans of Mohammed Atta had hit the papers on 10 September 2001.

You can tell it's a slow news day when you pay good money for a newspaper which features any of the following:

  • The Beaumont children

  • Brett & Wendy Whiteley

  • The Oz trials, and the otherwise irrelevant Richard Neville

  • Lady Sonia McMahon and that dress she wore to the White House that time

  • George Lazenby, who played James Bond once (this film is never on TV and is hard to get at video stores)

  • The Voyager disaster

  • John Lewthwaite

  • The murder of a gay academic in Adelaide which seems to have been witnessed by half that town - had he been dispatched during the halftime entertainment at a Crows match or in a lull at an Adelaide Oval Pura Cup match it could not be any less of a mystery

  • Germaine Greer and Robert Hughes, who used to live here once apparently

You have to worry about a people who regard gruesome death as a form of nostalgia.

There is new information to be uncovered in each of these I'm sure, but SND articles don't bother or falsely promise new information or even fresh thinking. The new angles suggested by the recent ABC program on Bogle/Chandler may justify warming over this old chestnut. Trashy tabloids will bring in a 'psychic' to revivify such stories: at least they're trying.

Why not run one of those long think pieces editors are too scared to run during more tumultuous times? Why not have a look at some issue that's been bugging you for ages? Why not tunnel behind some content provider who airily dismissed a seemingly sound line of enquiry with a simple "I reject that"? (Any journalist who drops a line of enquiry in response to this fatuous statement should be sacked and barred for ten years from writing anything more substantial than a coffee order). Only when the slow-boes running titanic media organisations realise there's no such thing as a slow news day will you see any sort of resurgence or value creeping (back) into the Australian media.

19 October 2006

Cutting and running

Cutting and running: sound political and military strategy in the right circumstances.

Imagine how different the Gallipoli legend would been had Churchill left the Anzacs there to have been completely wiped out by about mid-1916 or so.

Picture the British Expeditionary Force in Europe, 1940, forced back to Dunkirk by overwhelming German force. Now imagine Chamberlain wittering about staying the course, not cutting and running, the British public witnessing a massacre of their army within sight of their homeland with their powerful Navy standing by. This would have delayed the defeat of Nazism indefinitely.

Had Gordon Bennett had arranged for all Australian troops to have been withdrawn from Singapore before the Japanese invaded in 1942, the man would be a national hero.

There was no "cut and run" crap at Kapyong, and rightly so.

The war on fake militant Islam is real, and has to be fought - but I am not trying to claim this conflict is like conflicts in the past. The point here is the correct application of military force. Not every front is worth engaging, particularly if it is favourable to the enemy. The allied occupation of Iraq is doing little to build a sustainably peaceful country there, and the militants grow stronger every day.

The idea that supporting withdrawal from Iraq means you underestimate the threat we face from fake miilitant Islam is rubbish. It's a false dichotomy. The political and military leaders who faced up to the reality of Dunkirk and did what had to be done could not be accused of 'giving in to the Nazis'. Those who oversaw Dunkirk were there at D-Day, and were still there when the mighty machine that blew them away from Europe in 1940 lay crushed and broken five years later.

At last the serious reviews of the effectiveness of this battle front are taking place. Let's hope we can be more effective in fighting fake militant Islam than we have been by providing target practice in Iraq, whether by applying military force elsewhere or by the sort of longterm jamming methods that the Brits used to wreck the IRA.

09 October 2006

Secondary importance

Both Federal Education Minister Julie Bishop and Labor pie-eater Craig Emerson have demonstrated a firm grasp on the wrong end of the stick in the debate on secondary education.

This issue flares on different fronts from time to time, and though it's a big issue it's all the same. Kids today, they:

  • Can't spell/don't understand grammar;

  • Are menaces on the road;

  • Don't know the first thing about Australian history;

  • Are mathematical/ scientific ignoramuses;

  • Must be afraid of the hard work needed to make it in a trade;

  • Provide dreadful service in shops;

  • Listen to crappy music and have no appreciation of Fine Arts;

  • Are too fat;

  • Are surly and disrespectful of older people;

  • Have no idea how to look presentable;

  • etc.

These are features of the same debate: what is secondary education for?

The purpose of primary education was never in doubt. Basic literacy and numeracy is the essential foundation for both the acquisition of skills and the enrichment of young minds, depending on your view of kids as future employees or citizens. This area has received close attention and funding from government in recent years.

Tertiary education, for all its ups and downs, also has a clear role. It must train people for workplace-related skills which change constantly, and to absorb the timeless learning from millenia of civilisation. It must train people to be skeptical while still being capable of action - including the ability to do that which one has not explicitly been asked to do. It is a massive export industry in itself and its contribution to other parts of the economy is enormous. This is likely to be the case into the future so far as we can tell from this angle.

Secondary education involves taking students from primary to tertiary education. That's it, really. It can't be as universal as primary education, for in secondary education we see divergent individuals emerging. It can't be as flexible as tertiary education, because kids need standards and they haven't entered the workforce that would reward such flexibility. It offers sufficient training for some jobs - low-value, low-income jobs, jobs that may serve to get kids through tertiary education or may be a poverty trap for those who take them instead of tertiary education. It's everything, and nothing, and anyone in such a position is acutely vulnerable to anyone who wants to take a shot at them.

The problem of secondary education is basically the problem of its target market, adolescents. Adolescents are not to be entrusted with the full rights and responsibilities of adults. Adolescents are not to be merely kept in line and instilled with facts and motor skills like children. Individual learning styles become more apparent during this time, and mishandling can limit people's potential as it expands that of others.

Take the teaching of Australian history:

  • In a primary sense, it is important that people know basic facts about (deep breath): traditional Aboriginal society; both the economic/political expansion and deplorable social conditions of eighteenth-century British society; the settlement of Sydney, and from there the settlement and exploitation of land (and yes, the alienation of Aborigines from it); gold rushes; political developments leading to Federation; Gallipoli in particular and Australia's participation in war generally; the rise and decline of White Australia; and the postwar developments leading to modern Australia which help explain why Granny's constantly astonished about things kids take for granted.

  • In tertiary terms it is perfectly valid to be entrusted with original sources and to understand various perspectives on what they might mean, including brand-name tools from Deleuze, Marx or whomever.

The primary knowledge is good for little more than answering quizzes, or for instilling predictable reactions when certain facts are invoked from time to time. The tertiary tools are inadequate because no tool is ever adequate: an adjustable spanner is a tool that can be used in car repairs, but it cannot fix all car-related problems, nor all other problems, and not is it a substitute for the vehicle on which it operates as the theorists would claim.

It is a bugger of a job, then, to build an understanding of Australian history strong enough to survive the dousing and filtering of history, to nurture an effection for the subject that will carry the student across the arid terrain of theory. It is entirely appropriate to teach kids that different people have different ways of looking at things, and that it is possible to anticipate and even participate in debates across society.

It is not helpful to those faced with this job to be wittering on about Maoism as though it were a real and present force in modern society, nor to insist that hammering square pegs into round holes is simply a matter of the right hammer and the right amount of force. At about the time that leftists were being encouraged to do a long march through the instutions, Tiny Tim was having people tiptoe through the tulips, and the effects on the education system of both journeys are about the same. The sort of beef-witted individual who is good for nothing but state politics regards secondary education as a service for keeping adolescents off the streets is unable to address questions about what secondary education is for. This crap about Maoists is an attempt to give them a relevance they just don't have. It is terribly important that such individuals not be entrusted with government.

Leaving school before one's secondary education is complete need be no tragedy in an era of lifelong learning. Keeping students in secondary education while its fundamental purpose is unclear is too much to expect. The key question is to build a bridge between primary understandings and tertiary applications, and no sensible person believes that Bishop, Emerson or anyone else prominent in state or federal politics can be of any help whatsoever.

Update: Kevin Donnelly says;
The impact of the cultural Left on education has been profound. Competition and failure are banned. Feminists attack traditional texts such as Romeo and Juliet as enforcing gender stereotypes. In history teaching, instead of focusing on significant historical events and figures and celebrating past milestones, the focus is on victim groups, such as women, migrants and Aborigines.

Rubbish! The impact of the cultural left is non-existant. Competition and failure are real presences in the lives of young people, more so in a less bucolic environment than the one in which Kevin grew up. Teachers that go over the facts and explain how different people view things differently are ultimately doing kids a favour.

How ironic that Kevin chose, of all texts, Romeo & Juliet. Two dysfunctional young people at the heart of that story can only demonstrate the irrelevance of the adult storm going on around them by their own extinction. If people like Kevin could get over themselves and their feuds of old for long enough they could realise that it's stupid to claim that such a complex, wide-ranging and widely popular work can only be taught one way to everyone. If Kevin wants to use the pages of the Oz for this purpose, fine; but he must stop misleading people about the nature of education. This idea of a big lie to spur people to the barricades is so 1968.

04 October 2006

Bored stupid with poor opinion pieces

Every 18 months to two years you find a story like this. The journalist had nothing else to write about, and his well-cultivated sources had nothing to feed him but how they were as bored as he was. Thankfully, he left it to the end of the article to make the feeble ejaculation: "it's sure to be interesting watching all the Coalition hopefuls trying to get the PM's attention as they jockey for position", a claim that would be false advertising had it been up front.

A real journalist would have interrogated his sources a bit more carefully. Look at all those identified as promising talent: too many Victorians (no bad thing for Age readers perhaps), but think about it people: there is no good reason why the country would consent to be governed by Victorians, and anyone on that list with genuine political talent would see that. If they're so hot, maybe some of them should go into state politics, eh? Surely that great sucking vacuum on Spring Street should draw a few of them in.

What would be better for your political career: cruise around Canberra whinging for the next ten years, or do the hard yards in bringing down a Labor Government, become an actual Minister in a realm not dependent on Howard, and switch to Canberra with a bit of substance behind you? Worked for John Fahey. John Brumby was quite a promising backbencher in the Hawke government; he never had a chance of becoming Federal Treasurer, now he's Premier of Victoria in all but name. An ambitious politician could do worse, and it seems many are.

"What we don't lack is talent," one ambitious backbencher told The Sunday Age last week. "To be fair to Howard, though, the best line-up does not necessarily include the brightest people, and over the years he has managed to balance state interests effectively, and justly reward the hard workers who have held on to difficult seats and basically delivered us government.

"But that doesn't mean I am not sitting here getting mightily frustrated thinking about what could have been, and I am not the only who is thinking like that."

So, the consequences of promoting others have led to a decade in government, while the consequences for leaving you where you are ... see? This peanut is crying out for a bit of career advice and poor Jason treats him/her like a martyr. Piss off and do something else. You too, Koutsoukis. What about one o those million-dollar CEO jobs you benchmark yourselves against?

So Jim Lloyd's boring, eh? It's folk like him who are holding the ramparts of exurbia for the Coalition, which is more than can be said for Michael Ronaldson in Ballarat (and who would win a dull-off between Ronaldson and Lloyd? Would you want to be there? Let's send Jason Koutsoukis in there to tell us all about it, he obviously has nothing better to do). Lloyd is Minister for Local Government and Roads, for goodness sake. It's not like he's in charge of T3 or WorkChoices or the Budget.

As for the other 'talent' named, Mitch Fifield could smug for Australia but other evidence of his ministerial talent is not overwhelming (if it is, Jason, show us where we might find it). Sophie Mirabella is prone to mad outbursts, a political accident waiting to happen. So is Guy Barnett and he's a Bible-basher - wait for Minister Barnett to put the boot into publicly-funded abortion or institutions that protect pedophiles and we'll see how much 'talent' he has. Michael Keenan and Marise Payne have about as much future beyond this election as Bob Sercombe (unless they switch to state politics, q. v.). Chris Pyne and David Fawcett come from a small state with too many ministers as it is (Federal ministers, that is), and Pyne is not a personality you put in front of swinging voters. Malcolm Turnbull has raised the media profile of national water issues, but you'd expect he'd have some other, actual achievements by now (apart from spiking the Toowoomba recycling initiative)?

It's not good enough to say the natives are restless. In fact, it's not even adequate. If you're going to do an opinion piece, don't just be a cypher. Would Australia really be governed differently with these guys up front? Would it be governed better? Why are they being paid more, to shut them up?

"[Environment Minister Ian Campbell has] gone native," said one Liberal Party insider last week. "Almost barmy. I'm expecting we'll soon have to send in the rescue team to bring him back to civilisation."

And what would the 'rescue team' find once that happens? Real problems that Liberals prefer to gloss over, can't be arsed about, or fear having to defend in front of mining lobbyists? If this can happen to Campbell - a long-frustrated backbencher himself a few years ago - maybe it could happen to anyone in that job, except perhaps that goose from Darwin.

Health Minister Tony Abbott is clearly out of sorts and would surely benefit from a portfolio where his own personal moral beliefs did not interfere to such a degree with his day-to-day decision-making duties.

Um, like what?
  • He's not a detail man, so Attorney General, Treasury or Defence would expose his weaknesses too cruelly.

  • He's no diplomat, so no job involving foreigners: Foreign Affairs, Trade, Immigration, Defence.

His whole political position has been about social policy and its place in the culture wars, so now we see a social policy job is too much for him? If only Liberal preselectors had seen that sooner.

  • Family and Community Services? Nah, kicking Aborigines and single mothers.

  • Education? He'd get sidetracked by student politics and serious issues like trades training and scientific innovation would be too hard for the boy (then there's all that stuff about bioscience and the Vatican again!).

The Nats have got Transport to themselves. Bugger! There's only one thing to do: stick a fork in him, he's done. David Clarke won't have him in State politics and he'd consider it beneath him anyway.