Michael Gawenda

Hapless Shorten is trapped in a Rudd-Gillard time warp

Bill Shorten had a prime opportunity to sell the ETS plan Labor would take to the next election, but Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd got in his way.

On the IS debate, Labor is missing in action

The absence of parliamentary debate about Australia's involvement in the IS intervention means that unqualified assertions made by Tony Abbott and the Greens are going unchallenged.

Can Shorten do the hard yards to bring Labor back?

The damage Labor inflicted upon itself during the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd years has left a disruptive legacy for Bill Shorten to tackle. He must be more than an Abbott-style opposition leader.

Not even cabinet knows the 'real' Abbott

The Prime Minister’s humiliating rebuke of two senior ministers suggests a worrying lack of understanding about what he really stands for, if anything.

The real reason Abbott broke his promise on section 18C

As the conflict in Gaza escalates, the timing of a repeal of section 18C of the Racial Discrimation Act could not have been worse for the government. It is unlikely to be revisited anytime soon.

Searching for the ‘real’ Tony Abbott

The MH17 tragedy has led some commentators to focus on the Prime Minister’s ‘true’ character – forgetting that we’ve played this fruitless game before.

Abbott’s unpopularity is a matter of trust

If only the government had done a better job at communicating the fiscal crisis; if only the ABC were more supportive. Alas, neither of these is Tony Abbott’s real problem.

Labor must find its missing moral backbone

While Tony Abbott makes false connections between asylum seekers and homegrown jihadists, Labor remains silent. In doing so, it is dooming itself to political irrelevance.

The Liberals' radical turn on climate change

Five years ago, a near majority of the Liberal Party accepted the scientific consensus on climate change, but under Tony Abbott the party has taken a radically ideological path, isolating dissenters like Malcolm Turnbull.

Dead and buried: Abbott's life after Howard

Having turned against John Howard's policies, Tony Abbott is on a long journey away from his 'spiritual father'. Where is he headed?

The peril in promises made to be broken

It's impossible the so-called fiscal crisis was a post-election shock to Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey. Whether or not their new policies are in Australia’s interest, election campaigns have become destructive.

A historic tax increase signals Australia's new direction

Joe Hockey's 'temporary levy' may well become permanent as it opens the door to full debate on economic inequality and its political consequences.

Capitalism's not what it used to be

As debate grows in the US about jobs, wages and distribution of capital, Australian politicians have yet to fully articulate their response to a time of major technological and economic change.

Why Andrew Bolt's distress is truly uncomfortable

That Andrew Bolt had expected more support from Jewish leaders for his free speech campaign suggests uncomfortable things in the context of the debate over section 18C.

The entitlement of card-carrying boomers

There's little evidence Joe Hockey's 'end of entitlement' mantra applies to the boomer generation. In a sense, health card privileges reveal the confusion and timidity of that debate.

Hate is not a dirty word

As long as they don't incite violence, people should still be free to express repugnant views. It doesn't follow that this will give racism any sort of legitimacy.

Time for Abbott's 'banana republic' moment

Australia's growing fear of the future makes it a strange time for the government to see a polling honeymoon. Is Tony Abbott capable of levelling with Australians about what's next?

The dubious virtues of Abbott's revolution

The Liberal Party is on a radical mission to re-define itself, for the first time in history, as a true party of small government, self-reliance and 'private virtue'… seemingly, no matter what the costs.

Nelson is the ghost in Shorten's mirror

Brendan Nelson's brief tenure heading the Liberal Party shows the fate of opposition leaders with the type of mild, insipid manners Bill Shorten has suddenly adopted.

Lessons in liberalism from New York's left turn

New York's new mayor, Bill de Blasio, promises to tackle the city's growing inequality by taxing the ultra-rich. Australian politicians should take note of the huge support for his liberal agenda.