The Last Gasp is a wry take on the week’s biggest stories, every week. This week, the ALP makes it clear exactly who its friends are, global banks are hit with allegations of greed and Tony Abbott sticks up for fishmongers.
It’s not easy
Labor went on the warpath this week, taking no prisoners in a battle against a staunch political rival – but not the one you’d expect. It was Greens that were the target of the attack, apparently spearheaded by Labor heavyweights Sam Dastyari and Paul Howes. The debate went all the way up to Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan, who accused the Greens of sometimes being extreme in policy making, similar to the Liberal and National parties. But he denied Labor had launched a concerted campaign – which the public may have bought, had the correction not come after an unrelenting crusade pursued against the minor party over several days. Maybe he expects us to believe that everyone involved in the ALP woke up on Monday morning and just decided, independently but simultaneously, that they hated the far left?
As the week went on, the Greens hit back, accusing the ALP of having no values. But that just seemed to enrage the ALP further. Dastyari attacked the minor party (independently, of course, and certainly not part of some concerted campaign) calling them cold and cynical. Which is fair enough, given the rest of Australian politics is otherwise full of warmth and good wishes. On the sidelines of the stoush, independent MP Rob Oakeshott urged the combatants to sort out their disagreements in the interests of government stability. This led to the first sign of solidarity between the Greens and the ALP for the entire week, with both parties agreeing to ignore Rob Oakeshott.
Your industry is bad and you should feel bad
Respected American economist Nouriel Roubini waded into interesting territory this week, calling for big banks to be broken up, labelling the institutions inherently greedy, and enraging an industry otherwise recognised for its outstanding virtue. Roubini said during a television interview that that the latest Libor scandal surrounding British lender Barclays shows that "nothing has changed” in the industry since the global financial crisis. Banking sources reportedly denied the claims, insisting that they now care even less what the outside world think of their activities.
Won’t somebody think of the fish?
Just in case you didn’t notice: the Coalition thinks the carbon tax is bad! The opposition has added seafood to the list of industries to be ravaged by the government’s carbon pollution reduction scheme, with opposition leader Tony Abbott and shadow small business minister Bruce Billson spending a morning at the Melbourne fish markets to draw much-needed attention to the levy. The Libs are expected to cover a broad range of industries and products hit by the CPRS in the lead up to next year’s election. Abbott is already believed to have contacted former Liberal leader John Hewson concerning its affect on birthday cakes.
Full of it
It’s been a while since we have a good Abbott gaffe but this one takes us back to the classic days of the Mad Monk. The opposition leader told Perth radio this week that boat people attempting to enter the country illegally were not acting in a very Christian manner. It’s a bold statement considering most of the asylum seekers seen recently come from countries including Afghanistan and Indonesia, not exactly strongholds of Jesuitism.
And you thought the cavalcade of puns surrounding Billabong was bad. Darryl Lea certainly took the chocolates this week, with every media outlet battling to get uniquely painful play on words printed. Lucky this column would never resort to that. The confectionary group has been placed in administration, another victim of Australia's struggling retail sector. Entrepreneur Dick Smith put the blame squarely at the feet of supermarket giants, claiming they had cornered the family-owned company out of the market. Smith ruled himself out as a white knight for the confectionary maker, and instead said billionaire mining magnate Clive Palmer should come to the rescue. Which makes sense, as the guy likely enjoys his chocolate.
An inconvenient cough
Resources Minister Martin Ferguson has gone into bat for the coal seam gas sector, saying gas wells on farms are no different to installing wind turbines. Which is correct, except for, you know, the alleged severe effects CSG has on the surrounding environment and people’s health. In Ferguson's defence, the Queensland government said later in the week that only two people have visited medical authorities claiming to be suffering side-effects from CSG mining. Only two! Those are fantastic odds.
Kids, kids. You’re both just… awful
As if weeks of saturated media coverage of the asinine pastime of ‘rugby league’ weren’t enough, the tedious rivalry between New South Wales and Queensland has reared its ugly head again. This time, the debate centres on a G20 meeting, headed for Australia in 2014, and whether Brisbane should have been awarded the meeting over Sydney. Accusations have flown claiming the move is a cynical attempt by the federal government to stem its falling support in Queensland. Experts have doubted the claims, noting that even the ALP could see such a move as the equivalent of closing the gate after the horse has not only bolted, but quite possibly was the glue that held the Brisbane application together.
– New telco rules proposed by the Australian Communications and Media Authority, aimed at curbing surprise charges in the industry, were revealed this week. Representatives of the sector have slammed the rules, reportedly noting they will make it almost impossible to stooge consumers out of their money.
– A British survey found this week that a quarter of financial executives on both sides of the Atlantic believe that unethical or illegal conduct is necessary to succeed in the industry. There’s nothing funny about this, it’s just disgusting.
– And finally, Telstra has denied interest in taking over Nine Entertainment, reportedly claiming no one in their right mind would touch that joint with a 40-foot pole.