Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Gas pipeline monkey's curly tale

I’ve said it before but it’s worth saying again: for whatever reason, Nationals Leader and Regional Development Minister Brendon Grylls is an uncommonly impatient politician. And his willingness to compromise process for outcome is why he and Premier Colin Barnett often come to blows.

A case in point is Monday’s post-Cabinet announcement that the Government will almost deliver on its election promise and probably build (but not this term) a Bunbury to Albany gas pipeline.

Back in August 2008 when Colin Barnett was the again new Leader of the Opposition and the Libs thought they had a chance of winning back Albany, it was a Liberal Party policy to spend $225 million on starting the project this term if elected. We know Albany stayed in Labor’s hands in 2008 but is now seen as “winnable” by both the Liberals and the Nationals in 2013. The lack of a formal coalition means both Parties are fielding a Candidate next year and consequently, the ability to tick off on a pipeline – any pipeline – before then is critical to both the Liberal and National “Vote for us because we deliver for Albany” message.

And that dynamic explains why one of the strongest champions of the pipeline in Government became Brendon Grylls.
Indeed, as Chief of Staff to the Energy Minister I recall a number of meetings and communications with Minister Grylls himself, urging me to...

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Friday, October 19, 2012

Constable: “What is going on?”

Sometimes it would be better for the reputation of our Parliament if there was a little less time allocated to debate.

I know that sounds like I’m advocating for less accountability. I’m not.

Of course there should be enough time for everyone willing and able to contribute meaningfully to do so, but the fact is for various reasons, Members are often told to draw out (waste time) discussion. Sometimes this happens for very clever strategic reasons and other times it is as simple (and disappointing) as there not being enough business being ready to transact.

Beside the raw cost of operating an inefficient Parliament, the biggest problem of Members treading water is that after a little while, they tend to start arguing with themselves. Sounds odd, but when humans are asked to speak for 20 minutes on a particular topic ...

More at: Constable: “What is going on?”

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sex offender register to offer live GPS tracking* (coming soon)

*Fortunately, we aren’t quite there yet but given the trajectory the current Government is taking with its law and order policies, this headline almost certainly exists in our future.

You don’t believe me? Think about it.

Only two days after the launch of the slippery-slope public sex-offender register, the Minister for Corrective Services announced a Bill that would allow a Court to order GPS tracking of sex offenders. While this one has my full support (primarily because it will put the decision to monitor in the appropriate hands of the Judiciary), once it’s up and running...

Read the rest here: Sex offender register to offer live GPS tracking* (coming soon)

Government shoots for ALP plan and hits own foot

There was a fair bit of “Gotcha” being tossed around during question time in Parliament yesterday.

But sadly for the Government, the Dorothy Dix question designed to discredit Labor’s electricity tariff policy left the QBF wondering if the vitriolic response actually caused a bigger problem for the Government.

Here was the question Joe Francis, the Member for Jandakot asked his colleague Treasurer Troy Buswell:

"Like my colleagues on this side of the house, I am deeply concerned about...

Read the rest here: Government shoots for ALP plan and hits own foot

Friday, October 12, 2012

WALGA gets publicly political

The WA Local Government Association has a long and proud history of defending it’s members politically, but in the experience of the QBF, that defense has typically happened behind closed doors. As Chief of Staff to two Ministers, I was often involved in ‘robust’ discussions with WALGA about various Government policy issues – but again, like many sensible lobby groups, those issues were addressed away from the glare of the public.

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'Partner' pressures Gov't to overturn decision

For minority partners, the Nationals do punch above their weight.

After a couple of months of public debate and some open hostility, the Government (well, the Liberal part of it anyway) has decided to keep Tier 3 railway lines operating, much to the pleasure of the other part of the Government:

The rest at: 'Partner' pressures Gov't to overturn decision

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Premier's spin team delivers... in the short term at least

It looks like the Premier’s investment in spin doctors has paid off. Presumably the six or so “strategic communications” staff in his office had something to do with avoiding what could have easily been a very messy mixed message yesterday.

You see, while the Premier was being quoted in this Daniel Mercer article in the West Australian newspaper saying the Gillard Government “should drop” its planned renewable energy target, Ministers Grylls, Collier and Marmion published a media statement trumpeting the official opening of the Greenough River Solar Farm – without any mention of how the project might contribute toward WA’s part of the Commonwealth’s renewable target.

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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Police Commissioner offers more policy advice

In yesterday’s article Top Cop shooting from the hip (again), I highlighted Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan’s apparent ability to do what many of his peers are forbidden from doing: publicly discussing issues of policy. Indeed, Mr O’Callaghan appears to be almost totally unencumbered when talking to his employers via the media across a number of portfolio areas.
This is of particular interest to the QBF because he distinctly recalls being told by the Premier’s right hand man in a weekly meeting of Chiefs of Staff that public servants talking publicly about government policy would not be tolerated. That warning shot was specific to a utility boss who had publicly answered some speculative questions, but the message to me and the other 16 Ministerial underlings...

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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Early end to Parliament?

I know, I know… out on a limb again. But humour me and see if you reckon my little theory is at least plausible.

Currently, the Legislative Assembly is scheduled to last sit on Thursday 15 November and the Council is due to rise for the last time in this session two weeks later on Thursday 29 November. In total, that means 4 more weeks (12 sitting days) of the Lower House and 5 weeks (15 sitting days) of the Upper House. The idea behind the LC sitting a week longer is that they will need that time to tidy up (pass) any Bills sent up from the LA before the March election.

But after seeing the Carpenter Government’s early election contributing to its downfall in 2008, why would Premier Barnett risk...

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