August 16th 2008

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Solzhenitsyn, towering 20th-century prophet

EDITORIAL: Australia's faltering economy: a way out

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Does Peter Costello have what it takes?

BANKING: Bendigo Bank praised by Reserve Bank governor

INTERNATIONAL TRADE: Why the Doha trade round collapsed

FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Plum postings for Australia's new aristocracy

RADICAL ENVIRONMENTALISM: Animal rights fanatics threatening our exports

INTERNET: ISP-level porn filtering moves a step closer

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Musical chairs

EDUCATION: An education system worth fighting for

WESTERN AUSTRALIA: Opportunities for minor parties in WA election

UNITED KINGDOM: London transport bomb plot trial collapses

SPECIAL FEATURE: 1968 Prague Spring remembered

CINEMA: The Dark Knight - Heath Ledger's 'creepy and mesmerising' finale


BOOKS: THE GREAT ARAB CONQUESTS: How the spread of Islam changed the world we live in, by Hugh Kennedy

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Musical chairs

by Max Teichmann

News Weekly, August 16, 2008
Musical chairs

Our conservatives appear to have handled their succession problem very well. The period after defeat, and the removal of the long-time leader, is a potent source of splits and factions in a newly defeated party. These do not appear to have occurred.

The Liberals kept their heads, and elected an interim leader who would take the flak while the party reorganised itself. This Brendan Nelson has done, although the Liberal ability to remobilise and recharge their batteries is being greatly encouraged by the serial mistakes of the new government. These serial mistakes have finished up whetting the appetite of the likes of Peter Costello.

The choice of Brendan Nelson was sensible - Turnbull would be a possible source of division, and once elected would not leave readily. So Nelson, who would, has simultaneously kept out Turnbull, and warmed the seat for Costello.

On the way, Turnbull has discovered, as Costello did vis-à-vis Howard earlier on, that he hasn't the numbers and won't get them. Unless our economy and financial system were to pick up a lot, Labor is going to have a possibly torrid time in the house from now on, with Costello the arch-persecutor. I doubt if the Olympics are going to help out.

As for the media's plaintive demands for Nelson to step down or "face the party" - pathetic attempts to disrupt the Liberal's schedule - we understand the motives; but did we have to have it every day, ad nauseum?

And now Peter Costello is being ordered to "face the party", "declare his hand". By whom? The usual bar-flies. Politics is no longer done this way.

- Max Teichmann

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