Is this the end of government by major parties?

PERIL: The Morrison government is completely missing the messages from Kerryn Phelps’ byelection win. Picture: Alex EllinghausenThere is widespread and growing dissatisfaction with – and disappointment in – our politicians and political system.

Increasingly, politicians are not trusted nor believed. They are seen as mostly self-absorbed, “in it for themselves”, willing to put personal and vested interests ahead of the national interest. They will say or do whatever it takesto win the media on any day, and to hopefully win the next election.

As a consequence, government and governance is increasingly poor and not generally seen as addressing the needs, or matching the aspirations, of voters.

The system seems unable to deal with the daily challenges faced by voters in meeting mounting costs of living, let alone the bigger, longer-termchallenges facing our nation economically, socially, environmentallyand geopolitically. These issues are mostly left to drift. In the end, they become much harder to deal with. Solutions will probably cost more, and require much more adjustment.

To be specific, governments are not offering solutionsto the major elements of the costs of living – housing affordability/accessibility, power costs, medical insurance, child and aged careand so on – just very limited tax relief– and are certainly kicking the bigger challenges ofclimate, tax, education, health, ageing, defenceand infrastructure reform down the road.

All this domestic policy drift and neglect is occurring at a time where our economic prospects are constrained by the most unpredictable global environment in many decades.Most importantly, emerging trade warsand the accelerating risk of another global financial crisis andpossible world recession, in turn severely complicated by global migration pressuresand geopolitical tensions. All suggesting the imperative of a complete rethink and reset of our foreign, defence and economic strategies against a redefinition of our national interests.

It should not be surprising that voters here, and in many other countries, have started to lose confidence in major political parties, turning instead to support minor, more policy specific, parties and independents, in the increasingly desperate hope that things might change.

These trends have been evident in virtually every European election in the last several years, and of course gave the world Donald Trumpin the hope that he would drain the Washington swampand Make America Great Again. He has certainly disruptedthe traditional US political parties, and the whole political system – with very significant consequences for much of the rest of the world – but will undoubtedly fall well short of “greatness”or, in the end, actually satisfying the needs, hopes, and aspirations of his supporters.

Here, in , 1 in 3 voters didn’t vote either LNP or ALP in the last federal election, and the trend away from the major parties has continued in the recent byelections. The most notable was the win by independent Kerryn Phelps in the recent Wentworth byelection, previously a blue-ribbon Liberal seat.

While the messages from the Phelps’ win are being ignored by the Morrison Government – somehow mostly blaming Malcolm Turnbull –Phelps ran on the key issues of integrity in government, climateand refugees, tapping into significant voter concern about the irresponsible neglect and failures by the major parties on these issues.

When you recognise broader voter concernson both issues, and about the performance of their sitting members, expectthat the coming Victorian and NSW elections, and the next federal election in about 6-7 months, willsee this trend away from LNP/ALPcontinue. There is a lot of activity alreadyfor high-profile independentsto challenge the likes of Tony Abbott in Warringah, and rumblings of the formation of new minor political parties/movements, although time is short.

Of course, the key question is whether this trend away from major parties will result in better government, either by forcing change in the policies and practices of the major parties, or by these independents and minor parties playing a constructive role to improve government.

So much needs to be done to reform our politics – everything from the attraction of better candidates through campaign funding, improved transparency and accountability of lobbying influence, policy development and implementation. All against a genuine and honest assessment of our national interest.

John Hewson is a professor at the Crawford School of Public Policy, ANU, and a former Liberal opposition leader.

NRL DRAWKnights favoured by a host of early season home games as they bid to break their finals drought in 2019

Jubilation: A scene Knights fans will be hoping they see a lot more of in 2019 with the club handed a host of early season home games to kick off the season. Picture: AAP.

Newcastle Knights coach Nathan Brown says a glut of earlyhome games next season will give his side the perfect chance to “jump out of the blocks” in their bid to finally break their finals drought in 2019.

The NRL released its draw for nextseason yesterday with the Knights set to playfive of their openingseven games at McDonald Jones Stadium.

While three of their first four are against top eight sides from last season, Brown admitted the prospect of playing in front of packed houses in Newcastle early on should give his side plenty of confidence.

“We are going to need to jump out of the blocks from the get-gobut having so many home games early on certainly gives us the chance to make a real solid start,”Brown said.

“The draw is never going to be perfect for any team and we are all going to face obstacles at various stages. But overall, we are pretty happy.

“There is only the one five day turnaround which is a plus for us and now that it[the draw] is out, we can start doing some real planningaround it.”

As expected, new recruits and former Cronullaplayers Jesse Ramien and Edrick Lee won’t have long to wait to take on their old club with the Knights to face the Sharks in the opening round on March 15.

The game is one of only two Friday 6 pm matches the Knights will play at McDonald Jones Stadium. The other is in round 19 against the Tigers on July 26.

The Sharks’ clash shapes as a real litmus test for the Knights first up.

Cronulla has become a bogey side in recent years, winning their past eight straight against the Knights, many of them convincingly.

Newcastle will feature in four Channel Nine free-to-air matches, three of them at McDonald Jones Stadium.

The first is against the Parramatta Eels in round 7on Sunday, April 28 followed by Friday night clashes against the Sydney Roosters [Rd 11-May 24] and the Bulldogs [Rd 17-July 12].

Their final round game against Penrith at Panthers Stadium will also be a Channel Nine game on Sunday, September 18.

Anyone’s guess how the Knights will perform in 2019 –Robert DillonToohey’s News –Injured Knights star’s rapid improvementNathan Ross’s clouded future at the KnightsAs predicted, McDonald Jones Stadium will host just two Sunday games next season –a 6.10 pm clash against the Dragons in round 4 on April 7 and the Parramatta Eels’ round 7 game.

Old Boys Day will be celebrated inround 24 on Saturday, August 31 with the clash against the Gold Coast Titans.

After taking on the Wests Tigers in Tamworth last season, the Knights will again be heading to the bush for a premiership match.

St George Illawarra will host the Knights in Mudgee in round 10 on Sunday, May 19 while their Magic Round opponent at Suncorp Stadium will be the Bulldogs on Saturday, May 11.

The Knights toughest stretch will be a four game block from round 8 to 11 when they meet the Warriors, Bulldogs and Dragons away before facing a five day turnaround into the Sydney Roosters on May 24.

Gattellari on trial accused of Medich plot

Prisoner Lucky Gattellari demanded up to $50 million from his former friend Ron Medich in relation to what evidence he would give at Medich’s murder prosecution, a Sydney jury has been told.

Gattellari, 68, has pleaded not guilty in the NSW District Court to two counts of conspiracy to defraud, involving plots in 2013 and 2014 to demand money from Medich, who had been arrested for the 2009 murder of businessman Michael McGurk.

Gattellari’s one-time cellmate, Shayne Hatfield, 53, and Hatfield’s former partner, Linda Monfrooy, 55, have denied being part of the 2014 plot.

Opening the Crown case on Thursday, prosecutor Darren Robinson said the evidence would disclose “a continuing objective” by Gattellari to obtain money through approaches to Medich’s family regarding evidence he would give in Medich’s prosecution for murder.

He referred to two documents given to Medich’s brother on May 12 in 2014.

One “referred to a history of demands, including the initial request for $1 million, a subsequent request for $10 million, which then went to $15 million, and a present demand for $30 million, which would go to $50 million after the 15th of May”.

Mr Robinson said the 2013 approach involved Gattellari, his brother Frank and Robert McCarthy, who had been in jail with Gattellari but was released in May 2013.

Lucky Gattellari allegedly told McCarthy: “I’ll ask him to pay some money and let him believe that I’ll help him at court … but I’ll never help him at court.”

The 2014 approach allegedly involved the Gattellari brothers, Hatfield and Monfrooy, using Glen McNamara and Roger Rogerson – who were both later arrested for murder – and Joseph Prestia.

Mr Robinson said Lucky Gattellari was charged over Mr McGurk’s murder in October 2010 and was told by his QC that he could expect legal costs to be $1 million.

Ron Medich’s son, Peter, gave evidence on Thursday saying Gattellari’s son approached him asking for $1 million to be put into the trust account of Gattellari’s lawyers.

If the money was not put in the account Gattellari “was rolling my father and would say he was involved in the crime”, Peter Medich said.

After the money was not paid, Mr Medich said he met with Robert McCarthy who told him his father was “in a lot of trouble” and would go to jail unless he moved forward with what was written in a note he handed him.

The note said: “The evidence against you is not worth a cracker without my testimony.”

“You should have paid the $1 million when I asked you and you would not be in this mess … I would never have involved you.”

The note went on to say that Ron Medich was required to pay $10 million and the author would “throw his testimony against my father at trial”.

The trial continues before Judge Penelope Hock.

Katter kicks Anning out of his party

Katter’s n Party senator Fraser Anning has been booted out of the party over what they describe as his appeals to racism.

Senator Anning, who left Pauline Hanson’s One Nation before joining Bob Katter’s party, has called for an end to Muslim migration and wants a return to a “European Christian” immigration program.

“We announce the termination of his endorsement by the KAP,” Mr Katter said, quoting a statement by party federal president Shane Paulger on Thursday.

Mr Katter said the party’s decision had been unanimous.

Mr Paulger said in the statement the party’s immigration policy was clear – that persecuted minorities such as Christians, Jews and Sikhs should have priority when it comes to immigration to from the Middle East and North Africa.

And that there should be no restrictions on entry from Pacific islanders.

“But the party cannot and will not have any representative from our executive, members of parliament, senators or candidates dividing along racial ‘Europeans’ and ‘non-Europeans’ divides,” Mr Paulger said.

“In spite of the most severe and clear warnings, Senator Anning has continued down this pathway and consequently we announce the termination of his endorsement by the KAP.

“Clearly Fraser wants the freedom to pursue his crusade. And we think it is best for he and the party to give him this freedom.”

Senator Anning entered parliament as a replacement for One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts, who was disqualified from parliament over dual citizenship.

He made a chaotic start to his political career, with Pauline Hanson kicking him out of the party on his first day as a senator when he refused to step aside and allow Mr Roberts’ return.

After sitting as an independent in a loose alliance with other right-wing crossbenchers, he joined KAP in June.

The little-known senator made the headlines in August when his maiden speech was widely condemned as racist.

NSW auditor general report shows infrastructure spending shortfall in regional NSW

The NSWopposition has criticised the stategovernment for failing to reach its30 per cent benchmark for infrastructure spending in regional areas in relation tomoneyfrom the Restart NSW Fund.

But the government says the 30 per cent target applies to the life of the fund and isn’t an annual benchmark.

An auditor general report on the state’s finances released last week showed spending on regional infrastructure was 17.2 per cent for the 2017/18 financial year, up from 14 per cent the previous 12 months.

The report indicated18.5 per cent of Restart NSW Fund money was spent on infrastructure in regional areas in the six years to June 30, 2018.

The findinghas prompted a scathing response from Muswellbrook mayor and Country Labor’s state election candidate for the Upper Hunter Martin Rush, who said the resultwas“a cruel joke” by the government.

“Every year they say they are going to deliver and every year they string the community along,” he said.

“Now we learn that the Liberals and Nationals have blown $122 million on the sale of the Snowy Hydro – money that could have been spent on schools, hospitals and roads.”

The opposition has promised to funnel all of its share of the Snowy Hydro money to regional NSW if elected next year.

When asked about the criticism, Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said: “The 30 per cent target is to be met over the life of Restart NSW and is not an annual target.”

Shadow treasurer Ryan Park said the Upper Hunter and other regional areas were being neglected while the government focused on Sydney-centric projects.

“Despite big promises to help out regional areas, the Berejiklian-Barilaro government just can’t seem to hit that magic 30 per cent for investment in their infrastructure,” he said.

In news today October 25, 2018:

‘Boon for tourism’ as tenders awarded for Darby Plaza‘Terrifying’ Marist child sex offender guilty againHunter women vow to reclaim the night in marchesThieves cut and steal a kilometre of power line at Tomago