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Canberra Observed

This Month

The longer Chalmers leaves it, the harder EV charging will be to fix

What are the Greens going to demand be spent when the fuel excise runs out? And do they not realise that just because a car is battery powered, it will still need a road?

  • Phillip Coorey
Despite misgivings by some in the party, the PM kept his word.

Plan is to move on quickly from the referendum defeat

Pumping up its national security bona fides is not in Labor’s DNA. It needs to be.

  • Phillip Coorey


Outgoing Victorian Premier Dan Andrews:

To claw back power, the Libs need to stop being a hot mess

The Liberal party has swung to the hard right in some states - leaving Labor with the advantage. And accountability has suffered.

  • Phillip Coorey
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton.

Dutton’s nuclear plans are getting under Labor’s skin

Advocating nuclear power these days is about as passe as a politician admitting they once smoked pot.

  • Phillip Coorey
Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, buoyed by her success campaigning against the Voice, says she wants to turn her focus to transgender issues next.

Focus begins to shift to the consequences of a No vote

The Yes case has been outplayed not by Peter Dutton but Aboriginal Liberal-Nationals senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, who was not factored in as a threat at the start of the process.

  • Phillip Coorey
“Welcome to the trip to hell’: Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and partner Jodie Haydon arrive in Jakarta for the ASEAN Summit.

Prime minister takes off as midterm headwinds hit at home

Every first-term government since Whitlam has gone backwards at their next election. It’s a sobering statistic for a government with a three-seat majority.

  • Phillip Coorey



Ken Henry has a dire warning on this forgotten issue

Ken Henry’s environmental warnings are arguably more dire, more imminent, more urgent, more troublesome and a great deal less hypothetical than the need to address a gradually shifting tax base.

  • Phillip Coorey
Treasurer Jim Chalmers: “there’s a risk aversion that Keating never had.”

Jim’s pilot light of purpose is yet to fully ignite

The release of the Intergenerational Report has been accompanied by a level of intellectual preening from the treasurer, who hopes one day to be leader.

  • Phillip Coorey
“Don’t mess it up”: rime Minister Anthony Albanese during his opening speech to the ALP National Conference.

PM’s message an important reminder of Labor’s fragile hold on power

It is not inconceivable that right now, Labor is notionally in minority government.

  • Phillip Coorey
“The arc of history bends slowly towards justice.“: Former prime minister Kevin Rudd during the unveiling of his official portrait by Ralph Heimans (left), at Parliament House in Canberra.

Baseless fears about Rudd’s apology give hope for the Voice

A year ago, the prime minister was hamming it up alongside Shaq. The mood is far more sober now.

  • Phillip Coorey

Australians are owed a royal commission into the pandemic

A proper commission of inquiry should not be conceived with payback in mind but with a view to how things could be done better the next time.

  • Phillip Coorey


With a reinvigorated and disciplined Noel Pearson riding shotgun, maybe history will be defied.

Down but not out, the Voice could still be heard

Tony Abbott says the Yes campaign could yet “buy” the referendum with a short, well-funded campaign. Strip away the pejoratives, and he’s not far off.

  • Phillip Coorey
“It was the most Andrews thing ever,” noted one Labor source.

Dan knows best, regardless of the collateral damage

At some stage in this country, the definition of “good politics” needs to be expanded beyond doing what it takes to win elections. Legacy should also matter.

  • Phillip Coorey

The Voice risks becoming a lightning rod for broader discontent

The conundrum for Anthony Albanese is that the more he talks about the Voice, the crankier a large demographic of voters becomes. At the same time, it is not in his political interest for it to fail. Far from it.

  • Phillip Coorey
Robo-debt royal commissioner Catherine Holmes.

Canberra readies for its robo-debt day of reckoning

Friday’s royal commission report is expected to be an unvarnished take-down of big government at its worst.

  • Tom Burton


There is controversy over the decision by ICAC to label Berejiklian “seriously corrupt” but not regard her misdeeds as serious enough to warrant any criminal proceedings.

Like it or not, the NACC risks being weaponised

Let us hope the new National Anti-Corruption Commission does not become a case of be careful what you wish for.

  • Phillip Coorey
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese

Proxy housing battle pits Albanese against his younger self

The prime minister once professed “I like fighting Tories, it’s what I do” but, make no mistake, the Greens annoy him even more. He loathes them.

  • Phillip Coorey
 Finance Minister Katy Gallagher was forced to come clean.

There are no winners from the Brittany Higgins affair

Deciding to pursue a rape allegation through the media and the parliament was always going to end up a circus. And a nasty one at that.

  • Phillip Coorey
Blame game: sentiment was already starting to shift before Philip Lowe’s public clashes with Jim Chalmers this week.

RBA governor is an inconvenient truth teller for Labor

With his tenure up in September, Philip Lowe left little doubt this week he would go down swinging.

  • Phillip Coorey
Lowe’s large number of public appearances have been good for transparency but increased the risk of error and contradiction.

Replacing Lowe for a fresh start at the RBA is not as easy as it seems

Jim Chalmers must weigh up repairing the institution’s reputation with the potential for suspicions about the independence of the replacement if they change tack.

  • Phillip Coorey