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[9 Dec 2019 | No Comment | 67 views ]

by ROSS FITZGERALD
Winning a federal election the pundits thought he would lose makes Scott Morrison a first-rate politician. So far, though, he’s been much better at politics than policy. If he wants to be a first-rate prime minister, he’s going to need an agenda for government and it can’t just be modest tax cuts and prudent budget management. He has to tackle some of the big problems the country faces — and there’s none bigger than persistent drought.

Right now, the federal government is doing what it can to help struggling …

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[13 Nov 2019 | No Comment | 73 views ]

Where to now for Tony Abbott?
by ROSS FITZGERALD

Former prime minister Tony Abbott. Picture: AAP

    Tony Abbott’s colleagues ignominiously ended his prime ministership after just two years and his constituents humiliatingly ejected him from parliament with a 20 per cent swing; so why is the Liberal Party this week honouring his contribution to public life with a testimonial dinner even bigger than John Howard’s? Perhaps it’s because a politician who’s never lost is one who’s never really tried to make a difference.

READ MORE: Rock star reception for Abbott
Starting from his days …

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[13 Nov 2019 | No Comment | 59 views ]

The Useful and Much Abused Tony Abbott
by ROSS FITZGERALD

Tony Abbott’s colleagues ignominiously ended his prime ministership after just two years and his constituents humiliatingly ejected him from parliament with a 20 per cent swing. So why did the Liberal Party honour his contribution to public life with a testimonial dinner even bigger than John Howard’s? Perhaps it’s because a politician who’s never lost is one who’s never really tried to make a difference.
Starting from his days as a conservative student activist in the 1970s, Abbott has been one of those …

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[10 Oct 2019 | No Comment | 70 views ]

Scott Morrison’s Lowy speech was of historical importance
by ROSS FITZGERALD
Scott Morrison’s recent speech to the Lowy Institute was the most important prime ministerial foreign policy announcement in some years. This is because it acknowledged – for the first time – that we are now living in an era of strategic competition between the United States and China.  Indeed the PM was quite open about living in a new world of great power rivalry. It was a long-overdue recognition of a basic reality that virtually the whole Australian establishment has hitherto chosen …

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[19 Sep 2019 | No Comment | 60 views ]

by ROSS FITZGERALD
Just now, the Morrison government still seems secure. Its narrow but decisive win has shattered an opposition that had thought it was coasting to victory. The Labor Party is about to begin a civil war between green-left ideologues and old-fashioned pragmatists that the ideologues are likely to win, at least in the short-term. Even so, governments are expected to tackle problems, not just to play politics and in a host of areas, the Morrison government confronts practical challenges that it shows little sign of fixing.
The government has no …

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[16 Aug 2019 | No Comment | 53 views ]

by ROSS FITZGERALD
Australians’ greatest resource is not what’s under the ground but what’s between our ears. That’s so obvious when you think about it. The trouble is we rarely do. We endlessly ponder the challenges to our prosperity and security but take our education systems largely for granted. This even though a good grounding in the core culture, a sound grasp of the “three Rs”, and an unquenchable intellectual curiosity are the essential pre-requisites for our future well-being. If we are to continue to flourish, Australians must be at least …

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[17 Jun 2019 | No Comment | 56 views ]

The prolific and popular historian charts his own peripatetic past
BY ROSS FITZGERALD
Geoffrey Blainey’s long-awaited memoir, ‘Before I Forget’, is out ­tomorrow.

Blainey, one of Australia’s most popular, prolific and influential historians, was born in Melbourne on March 11, 1930. He was the second eldest of five children, born to a country schoolmistress and a Methodist minister who was an ardent teetotaller.
Much of Blainey’s relatively humble childhood was spent in country Victoria, ranging from Terang to Leongatha, Newtown (a suburb of Geelong near Corio Bay) to Ballarat, where he attended the local …

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[13 Jun 2019 | No Comment | 64 views ]

Libs must now lead
After the euphoria, where’s the dynamism?
ROSS FITZGERALD   
The euphoria is understandable. After trailing Labor in the polls throughout the last parliament, the Liberals can be forgiven a degree of triumphalism after their against-the-odds victory. But beware hubris. It was a narrow victory; and it could easily be different next time if the Liberals learn the wrong lessons from their win and Labor learns the right lessons from their loss.
Yes, the Liberals won because voters were alarmed at Labor’s soak-the-middle-class tax policies and Labor’s extreme climate policy. Average voters …

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[30 May 2019 | No Comment | 67 views ]

The PM navigated a tricky path to election victory. Now he must turn his attention to nailing his agenda.
BY ROSS FITZGERALD
Scott Morrison’s “quiet Australians”, like Sir Robert Menzies’ “forgotten people” and John Howard’s “battlers”, were the key to the federal election win and are at the heart of the Liberals’ electoral success. These “quiet Australians” are the people who preferred a Liberal government that had rolled two elected PMs to a Labor Party that was promising to steal their savings, increase their rent, reduce the …

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[17 May 2019 | No Comment | 86 views ]

by ROSS FITZGERALD

It’s depressing isn’t it?

Whatever the result of this election, Australia’s dismal decade of mediocre-to-poor government is likely to continue. Our economy is stagnating and our strategic environment is deteriorating. Yet none of what’s being offered by either side will make it significantly better and much will make it seriously worse. We have to have a government after tomorrow, and by a fair margin the Coalition one is preferable to the Labor alternative, but neither outcome will arrest what is becoming a period of long-term drift and decline.

By the …

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[29 Apr 2019 | No Comment | 82 views ]

by ROSS FITZGERALD

There’s much more at stake in Warringah than the future of a former prime minister

The battle for Warringah, normally a safe seat in northern Sydney, has become a struggle for the soul of the Liberal Party and a test of whether conservative politics can survive in modern Australia.

As anyone visiting Manly Beach on a Sunday morning or driving through Spit Road in the morning peak would know, GetUp, unions and former Labor operatives have blitzed the electorate, with hundreds of activists. The question is whether former Liberal …