Macklin / Wish them luck as you wave them goodbye…

A FOND farewell to the Feds this last week as they wrapped up a busy year with the passing of the building industry’s “cop on the beat” and the backpacker tax.

Robert Macklin

Robert Macklin.

It was a good win for PM Malcolm Turnbull and, boy, did he need it. Until then, 2016 had been downhill all the way.

His approval rating had crashed, he’d almost lost the election and his nasty nemesis was making noisy demands to return to the Cabinet. But by all accounts, the key to his legislative triumph was Workplace Relations and Employment Minister Michaelia Cash. She did what women do best – negotiated a compromise that finally brought the Greens to the party and broke the backpacker logjam.

The days of the “dictatorship of the majority” are over. Henceforth compromise rules; and a mighty good thing it is, too.

MUCH less desirable is the fencing that will soon surround the sloping lawns atop the Parliament. The fence is ridiculous in these days of “eye-in-the-sky” surveillance that monitors a one-metre resolution of activity on the parliamentary greensward. And it might have been avoided but for the idiotic protesters who staged two demos against offshore detentions just as the government did the deal to send the refugees to America.
EXCELLENT news from Qatar that they’re joining Singapore Airlines to provide direct flights from Canberra International. However, we’re told that at least one Chinese carrier will get in ahead of them, courtesy of CM Andrew Barr’s own “pivot” to Asia.
SPEAKING of which, as president-elect Daffy Donald slowly announces his Cabinet, it seems the last thing on his mind is his predecessor’s much vaunted defensive “pivot” to the region. And as our own Defence Department struggles to accommodate two ministerial egos from Marise Payne and Christopher Pyne, the mainstay of the show, secretary Dennis Richardson is planning to retire in 2017. One of our finest mandarins of the old school, he will be sorely missed.
SO too, in another arena, will almost all of Radio National’s music programs which have been slashed by new ABC boss Michelle Guthrie. However, we’re told the decision is not final, so protests will be read and listened to. Not so with TV’s science program “Catalyst” – no reprieve for scholarship in this post-truth era.

WARMEST congrats to Dr Marie-Louise Ayres, the new director general of the National Library, our premier cultural institution. Ironically, she was the driving force behind the wonderful Trove archive of newspaper cuttings that itself is slated for cuts under the government’s so-called “efficiency dividend”.

HOPE you caught that fascinating series “First Contact” on SBS featuring six minor celebrities exploring the Aboriginal experience across the continent, including the amazing outback Aboriginal jail and rehab centre near Derby, WA. There is much to be done before the First Australians attain their rightful place in the national hierarchy. Unfortunately, the viewing audience for “First Contact” was miniscule. What’s really needed is our own Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
FINALLY, ACT auditor-general Maxine Cooper decided Andrew Barr’s pre-election appointment of veteran Lib Brendan Smyth as Commissioner for International Engagement “lacked transparency”. Really? Most of us thought it was about as politically transparent as it gets!
robert@robertmacklin.com

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