Friday, 28 August 2015

Unintended Overreach or the Shape of Things to Come?

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Australian Border Force (ABF) Roman Quaedvlieg and Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton at the ABF swearing-in ceremony at the Parliament House (Source: Australian Border Force)
Unintended overreach of the shape of things to come? This is the question arises from this weekend's now-cancelled Operation Fortitude, a multi-agency operation slated to involve Victoria Police, authorised officers from Metro Trains, Yarra Trams and Taxi Services Commission, the Sheriff's Office and, infamously, the paramilitary Australian Border Force. This operation was intended to "crack down" on "anti-social behaviour" and, as Orwellian as that sounds, seems to be an accepted part of policing today.

But the morning press release that unleashed a torrent of derision and fury on the Interwebs quoted Border Force regional chief for Victoria and Tasmania Don Smith. It said ABF officers would be positioned "at various locations around the CBD speaking with any individual we cross paths with".

There isn't much room for ambiguity in that statement. Far from the usual targeted intelligence-based operations undertaken by the erstwhile Immigration Department, this sounded an awful lot like stopping people in the street and asking "papers, please".

Over 3 1/2 hours after the Australian Border Force became #BorderFarce, the agency finally issued a clarifying statement, directly at odds with their illegal, bare-chested first release:

With a press conference (or "media opportunity" as Victoria Police termed it) scheduled for 2pm at Melbourne's Flinders Street Station, a crowd formed to protest the operation. With a spontaneous protest not the best sight to support their message, Victoria Police cancelled their "media opportunity", followed shortly thereafter by the entire operation. People power won.

So what went wrong?

Joint agency operations are not new and usually not that controversial. For example, Operation Rasper, Operation Mermaid and its inventively-titled sequel Operation Mermaid II are joint-operations that involved a range of agencies including Victoria Police, Sheriff's Office, the Environmental Protection Agency, VicRoads, and yes, the Department of Immigration.

Such operations are important for not only catching out offenders, but for building relationships between the various state and federal agencies – just look at the lead up to the 9/11 attacks if you want an example of what happens when agencies don't play nice. Operation Mermaid II, for example, caught up to nine alleged illegal immigrants.

In these operations, the Department of Immigration (one half of today's quasi-military Australian Border Force) ran checks on individuals after they were cited for other unrelated issues. This is a fairly non-controversial use of power and one most Australians would be comfortable with.

But the ABF's initial press release showed no such concern for comfort. It reached into territory that was at best, menacing, at worst, illegal. The ABF has no legal authority to invade a major city and ask for people's citizenship documents. Now, being the generous person I am, we can probably assume that was never the intent of the ABF, but it does raise questions as to why a forceful statement was authorised for release. As the ABF was intended to be a junior partner in Operation Fortitude, perhaps the release was merely designed to capture some media attention? Who knows. No doubt this will be a subject of intense scrutiny over the next couple of days.

So this was just a big misunderstanding then? Maybe. ABF Commissioner Quaedvlieg attempted to explain the whole thing away as a misunderstanding due to a "clumsily worded" press release: "There was never any intent for the Australian Border Force to proactively go out and seek immigration breaches out in Melbourne city."

But he would not be drawn on questionable legality of Ron Smith's quote in the original release, saying that, in context "it makes absolute, perfect, legitimate sense". What? What context? It's a press release, isn't that all the context you need? Nobody was misquoting Smith, the whole purpose of a press release is to provide all the context necessary. In what "context" does it make "absolute, perfect, legitimate sense"?

This is a question that will be asked repeatedly, no doubt, over the next few days. With the government's political capital well and truly in deficit, the secretive Australian Border Force will have little cover from its ministerial masters. Maybe, just maybe, we will get a couple of full and frank answers.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Welcome To Australia, Huffington Post! Please Leave That Pseudoscience Nonsense At The Door

~Originally published at

The Huffington Post has finally arrived in Australia — and while our mainstream media will certainly benefit from more diversity, we may have reason to be afraid. Not just because of the brand’s infamous embrace of clickbait (we’re all guilty), or even its questionable practice of sourcing content from unpaid bloggers.

No: in a country where the CSIRO’s funding is free-falling, and science is routinely under attack from elected officials, of greatest concern to me is the Huffington Post’s uncritical promotion of pseudoscience and quackery.

Since its inception in 2005, the Huffington Post has provided a platform for anti-vaccine activists, new age spiritualists and other types of scientific illiteracy dressed up as genuine news. While media outlets sprouting the virtues of miracle diets and cures is nothing new, HuffPo’s massive world-wide reach and agenda-setting aspirations made its scientific illiteracy particularly concerning at the time. And although the publication’s embrace of pseudoscience has moderated in recent years, it’s worth taking a closer look at its recent past to be wary of what its Australian edition might bring.
The (Unvaccinated) Birth Of The Huffington Post

Arianna Huffington was a failed gubernatorial candidate and political divorcee when she founded the Huffington Post in 2005. A vanity exercise in the nascent blogosphere, it became a home for liberal politics and vitriolic pieces attacking key figures in the Bush administration. Huffington, formerly a Republican through personal belief and marriage, alienated many of her friends by her political conversion to the left — she even went so far as to ask her daughter Isabella to choose a new godmother (Isabella’s first godmother was appointed Secretary of Labor by Bush).

Shortly after HuffPo’s launch, some science bloggers noticed a disturbing trend in its coverage of health issues. Anti-vaccination activists such as Janet Grillo, Jay Gordon and David Kirby dominated the outlet’s “health” coverage; between them they published pieces supporting the long-discredited “link” between vaccines and autism, scare-mongering over pesticides (“parks and school ball fields are sprayed with chemicals so toxic they should be illegal”), and promoting the “Pharma-Political Complex” that apparently wants to harm all the children (presumably to sell them drugs to make them better or something).

These bylines were soon joined by the doyen of disinformation Jenny McCarthy, an actor and TV host who’s now infamous for leading the anti-vaccination movement, and her painfully unfunny then-boyfriend Jim Carrey. They both repeated the usual claims that “toxic” ingredients of the “lucrative vaccine program” are “causing autism and other disorders (Aspergers, ADD, ADHD)”. Of course there is no credible evidence to support this or any other of their claims; in fact there is plenty of evidence to the contrary. But in the world of the anti-vaxxer, contrary evidence isn’t valid, because it comes from government health organisations who are ‘in on it’ too.

(A quick debunk of the anti-vaccination movement: the vaccine ingredient anti-vaxxers claim causes autism – mercury – is not present in scheduled childhood vaccines. Thimerosal, a preservative used in some other vaccines, does indeed contain mercury, but in the form of an ethylmercury which is easily filtered out by your body. All this, however, is moot. Even if children are given vaccines that contain thimerosal, there is no known link between mercury and autism. None. The exact cause (or causes) of autism remain unknown, but what we do know is that vaccines are not to blame.)
The Sickness Of “Wellness”

Alas, HuffPo did not confine its anti-science stance to a few ill-advised stories on vaccines. In 2009 they devoted an entire section to “wellness”, edited by homeopath and licenced acupuncturist “Dr” Patricia Fitzgerald. Contrary to her title, “Dr” Fitzgerald was not a licenced medical practitioner, but rather held a doctorate in homeopathy. Unfortunately, this didn’t stop her offering dud medical advice, promoting ineffective “detox” routines while also having nice things to say about Jenny McCarthy.

Then it got worse. “Quantum healer” and self-help millionaire Deepak Chopra became a contributor, as did Kim Evans, who wrote that antibiotics are responsible for cancer, and that all cancers are fungi and can be treated with baking soda. Yep, you won’t believe what THEY don’t want you to know, dear sheeple.

There wasn’t a shred of credible evidence to support these astonishing claims either — only the assumption that Big Government, Big Pharma or Big Pineapple was out to get you. By 2010, the height of HuffPo’s questionable relationship with science, the site garnered around 28 million unique views per month. In 2011, AOL acquired the Huffington Post for $315 million. Since then it has only grown in size and audience to become the most popular blog in the world, claiming to attract some 100 million visitors per month. That’s a big global audience to be selling garbage science to.

But the web fought back. The same internet that helped propagate HuffPo also hosted a new generation of science-literate blogs and websites such as Science-Based Medicine, Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy and ScienceBlogs, among many others. The condemnation from these bloggers was swift, universal and derisive.

PZ Meyers of ScienceBlogs offered this gem:


Slowly, contributors with science and evidence on their side began to have a regular presence on HuffPo, with the site even launching a science section in 2012. While today’s HuffPo continues to publish articles on topics of questionable scientific validity including acupuncture, immune system “boosting”, detox diets, and anti-GMO food, there are also a few choice bylines with the all-important post-nominals “M.D.” to counter the hokum and provide real actual medical science.

The problem is that the two types of articles sit side by side, and it is very difficult for the lay reader to determine what is a good, evidence-based article and what is pseudoscientific rubbish. While this is great for the free expression of quacks everywhere, it does little to further science in the popular understanding.

Search HuffPo today for “vaccines+autism” and you’ll find a hodgepodge of pro and anti-vaccine articles with vague, clickbaited headlines and questionable contentions. Presenting vaccination as a “debate” with two equal sides is bad journalism at best, and life-endangering at worst. When it comes to childhood vaccinations, there is no debate; there are not two equal sides. There is evidence-based science and there is opinion. As Neil deGrasse Tyson argued on the Colbert Report, science doesn’t care what your opinion is: “It’s true whether or not you believe in it”. Vaccines are the most effective medical intervention in the history of humankind.

Should we hold out hope that the Australian edition of HuffPo will improve on its parent’s chequered past? Perhaps. Right out of the gate, they have published two decent pieces on mental health, one by noted adolescent psychologist Dr. Michael Carr-Gregg, and the other looking at a new Beyond Blue anxiety program. They have also published a piece promoting the healing properties of crystals (they help “clear and release old toxic emotions”, apparently). If we can continue this ratio of 2-1 good science-based medical articles to hokum, there might be hope yet.

The methods of science are not optional to understanding our world; they are mandatory. They consist of careful observation and rigorous intellectual honesty, and are the best ways to confront the world’s many and varied problems. In a recent interview with the ABC’s Lateline, Huffington stated that she supports the key tenets of “fairness, accuracy and fact checking” in journalism, along with the scientific consensus of anthropogenic global warming. I sorely hope she implores her news sites, with a global audience of tens of millions, to follow the same principles.

Friday, 21 August 2015

IMAX: The Last Picture Palace

IMAX Melbourne, Nikon F100, Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.4, Fujifilm Natura 1600

When Christopher Nolan’s space epic Interstellar returns to IMAX Melbourne for one last night this Sunday, it’ll be the end of an era. At the end of the screening, the massive IMAX GT 1570 film projector will be switched off for the last time; the 272kg platter of 1570 film Interstellar occupies packed up never to be seen on these shores again. As part of the third stage of the cinema’s “upgrade”, IMAX Melbourne is removing the film projector, along with the inferior twin-digital projection system, and replacing them both with the new 4K IMAX Laser projection system.

IMAX claims the new Laser ( “finger air quote”) system is a “quantum leap in cinema technology” that provides audiences with “the sharpest, brightest, clearest and most vivid digital images ever”. This is all, of course, marketing guff. Maybe it’s true, maybe it isn’t. As a film and film aficionado, my customary position is to be skeptical of IMAX’s lofty claims for the new system. After all, technology companies have been promising to make film obsolete since 1981’s Sony Mavica and its video floppy disk system (as if you'll ever need more than 490 lines of horizontal resolution!). It has taken three long decades for digital projection and capture to live up to its own rhetoric and even then, the resolution of 70mm IMAX film exceeds virtually all commercially-available digital capture devices. But I will resist the urge to critique the new system until I see it in action.

Interstellar, one of the boldest and most impressive science-fiction films this side of 2001: A Space Odyssey, is also likely to be the final feature film (partially) shot and projected in 70mm IMAX. The past few years have seen a number of films, particularly those of Christopher Nolan, utilise the format for key sequences. J.J. Abrams is continuing this trend, shooting at least one segment of Star Wars Episode VII on 70mm IMAX. Whether or not the film is released in 70mm IMAX for suitable screens is moot, Melbourne audiences will be seeing it projected via the new Laser system come December.

If there is to be a future for film, digital projection seems to be an inevitable part of it. Perhaps, for the multiplex, this is the best of both worlds: the organic nature of film capture paired with the adequate consistency of most digital projection. But for the world of IMAX and epic event cinema, the removal of capacity to project 1570 film will leave audiences all the poorer. I understand the practicalities of the situation – a projection system is only as good as the films available to present and there is a dwindling number of drawcard movies being shot and projected on 70mm IMAX film – but I still can't help feeling like something truly great is being lost.

So here's to IMAX and the crazy people who made it possible including inventors Graeme Ferguson, Roman Kroitor, Robert Kerr, and William C. Shaw; IMAX cinematographers James Neihouse, David Breashears; IMAX director and developer Greg MacGillivray and more recent notables such as Christopher Nolan. The cinema is far richer and more powerful for your efforts and I can't wait to sit down, strap myself in and watch the fruits of your labours one last time.

ELCAN (Ernst Leitz Canada) IMAX projection lens. German-born know-how made in Canada – optics without compromise. Source: For the Love of Film – Interstellar IMAX® Featurette 

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

We Shouldn’t Be So Ready To Give Up On Two-Party Politics

Updated version of a previous article as published in Junkee, 30 July 2015

It seems we can hardly go a day without hitting an “all-new low” in Australian politics. The conventional wisdom is that this terrible state of affairs is so terrible that now is indeed the worst period in our political history. Ever.

But while some of this gnashing of teeth is rightly warranted – particularly when it comes down to the demonisation of refugees – it might be beneficial to cool our jets, and look at the situation rationally. Yes, much of the current political debate is pretty ordinary; some of it’s downright shitty. But has Australia ever really enjoyed an era of enlightened political exchange?

I’m going to put forward an entirely unpopular idea: the frightfully unsexy two-party system has provided Australia with largely dependable (if sometimes uninspiring) governance, and should continue to do so. The way to fix our current malaise is not to destroy the two party system — as has been regularly suggested in the subtext of a variety of Junkee articles recently penned by Alex McKinnon and Jane Gilmore — but to reinvigorate it.

Despite loud protestations to the contrary, the vast majority of the electorate still votes for one of the two major parties. Come next election day, you can bet around 80% of voters will mark “1” in the Labor or Liberal/National box. This figure jumps as high as 90% if you include the Greens. Given our alleged distaste and distrust for political parties, you’d expect this figure to have plummeted over the past decade. It hasn’t.

Hardly a system on shaky ground.

But only an ignorant fool would say political parties are in rude health. Hardly anybody trusts them, their memberships have been declining for decades and, as Richard Cooke noted in a brilliant piece in The Monthly, there exists a fundamental disconnect between the political class who claim to represent us and our desires for the country.

Sometimes this separation is a good thing: public opinion was vehemently against Malcolm Fraser’s Vietnamese refugee migration policy, but Fraser thankfully stuck to his guns and ignored the electorate. At other times, the dismissal of public opinion is a bad thing: marriage equality, the Iraq War… Take your pick.

Given the behaviour of Abbott and his band of moral delinquents, it’s completely understandable that many want do away with the two-party system, viewing it as the cause of our malaise. For some, Labor is not a real alternative — but is a parliament untouched by political parties a better solution?

#ALPConf2015: What Progressives Get Wrong About The Labor Party
Full disclosure: I am a paid-up, card-carrying member of the Australian Labor Party, but I don’t work for the Labor Party or any associated entity.

I’m not one of those shiny-suited twenty-somethings that Junkee’s Alex McKinnon described in his ALP Conference coverage last week, who dream of preselection in a safe seat (not that there’s anything wrong with ambition). I am, if there can be such a thing, a common or garden-variety party member who likes getting together with a few mates and talking about the state of affairs.

The ALP National Conference provided a great opportunity to do that. As a first time attendee, it was great to walk among political giants. Walking through the foyer, one is as likely to run into a local branch member as they are a former state premier.

I can understand how some of the party conventions may appear strange or even quaint to outsiders, but to me they’re not really the cause for the public confusion or mass panic that McKinnon was suggesting.

Alex McKinnon argues that, like a totalitarian entity, “[a]bove all, the good of the Party comes first”. This is largely true, but it’s less ominous that it sounds. All political parties — indeed most institutions, private and public — operate this way.

Political parties in government or opposition are next to useless if they’re not united. One need only look at the decade-long Liberal leadership spat between John Howard and Andrew Peacock, or the more recent Rudd/Gillard killing season to understand how destructive broken parties can be. Disunity is death; unity a requirement for success.

Oh, and factions? I could probably write a whole thing on factions, but they’re really not as mysterious as he makes out. The political science literature defines factions as sub-parties within parties. Rather than being the source of constant conflict that is frequently claimed, formal factionalism can be a source of order and stability, public fracas notwithstanding.

Factions are an inevitable part of social life. In any grouping, we find ourselves drawn towards like-minded individuals in order to achieve our goals within the broader organisation. The Labor Party is no different, except that our factions are formalised.

Yes, factional politics can be destructive and they should be kept in check, but Labor’s factional fracas are no more damaging than similar power struggles in non-Labor parties. Arguably, there is more reason to be concerned about the opaque personality-driven factional tendencies within the Liberal Party and the Greens than the nakedly obvious demarcations within Labor — but the public don’t seem to see it that way.

Do not be afraid of the organisational structure of the Australian Labor Party. It’s really not that terrifying or incomprehensible.

Two Parties Preferred: Why More Independent Representatives In Parliament Is Not The Best Idea
Like it or not, two-party politics is the natural state of affairs in the House of Representatives, where government is formed. It has been this way since 1910, when non-Labor parties united to fight the emerging ALP after a period of unstable minority governments. The ALP, unlike other parties of the day, steadily increased its vote through party unity and discipline, forming the first majority federal government in Australian history at the 1910 election.

As we saw from the 43rd Parliament, minority government isn’t necessarily unworkable, but it was clear to non-Labor MPs early in the last century that a formal party structure is necessary to win elections and achieve their policy goals. These two groupings — Labor and non-Labor — have dominated Australian politics ever since.

We often forget that the point of politics is, at its core, to win elections. It may sound cynical, but without power, the best policies are doomed to remain little more than a thought bubble. And while Junkee readers might not agree with specific Labor Party policies, it remains the only progressive party with a realistic chance of winning elections and implementing policies.

This is the fundamental reality of our system. Minor parties and independent candidates, including the Greens, almost never win House of Representatives seats — and without those seats, they have no ability to implement the policies they put forward. Sure, some voters might favour minor parties in the hope they can “hold the government to account”, but this is a fairly abstract and nebulous idea with no guarantee of an outcome, and has almost no effect in electing members of the House of Representatives.

Complain as you might about the electoral system, but it is what it is — and a change in systems, such as proportional representation, isn’t likely to occur. Parties have to work within the framework provided and, for better or for worse, this makes the two major parties our best hope for political change. This reality makes it even more important to have strong, representative parties that reflect the desires of all Australians.

As Jane Gilmore correctly notes, the 43rd ‘minority’ Parliament was a particularly productive one, despite the perpetual droning (and mad running skilz) of the Abbott opposition. Complex and important legislation was debated and negotiated through the House and Senate with remarkable deftness.

In particular, independent MPs Tony Windsor, Rob Oakshott and Andrew Wilkie (all former major party members) represented their electorates and the national interest with great integrity. Therefore, Jane’s suggestion that we find more quality independent candidates to run is a good idea, yeah?

Hold up there.

Our electoral system tends to favour a two-party outcome, and our hybrid ‘Washminster’ system of responsible government is a majoritarian system. Put simply, our parliament is designed to work best with a clear majority government, and clear minority opposition.

The certainty afforded by our system means the major parties can make policy announcements and promises knowing that they’ll be in a position to implement them should they win government. An independent MP, on the other hand, cannot. Sure, they can make all sorts of promises about sticking it to those out-of-touch latté-swilling, craft beer-drinking city folk, but ultimately they have no way of implementing promises if they win.

Let’s remember, the great nation-building policies of the 43rd Parliament didn’t come from the independent MPs; they largely originated from the Labor government who could count on the power of executive office to implement them.

And herein lies another problem with independent MPs: For every thoughtful and erudite Windsor or Oakshott, there are hardline conservatives like Pauline Hanson or Brian Harradine who find their way into parliament.

Harradine was a Catholic conservative senator who represented Tasmania in the Senate for thirty years, until 2005. He opposed abortion, stem-cell research and pretty much anything that constituted modernity. In a case of the independent MP tail wagging the governmental dog, Harradine ensured the abortion pill RU486 was not imported into the country, and that Australian foreign aid never funded family planning involving abortion advice.

But he was also a conviction politician with Catholic social values, refusing to support the GST, opposing the Iraq War and securing a $350mil payment for Tasmania. Harradine’s curious mix of values demonstrates the challenge of finding suitable candidates. Oh, and need we mention Bob Katter?

Here’s how I see increased independent representation in parliament working out: it would likely be a melting pot of conservatives and progressives, just as today’s parliament is. We can assume they would have campaigned on issues near and dear to them, promising better services, a new road and a school or something, sometimes with no plan to implement them. If elected, these independents might then offer to support a major party to form government in exchange for projects in their electorates. Some might call this pork barrelling.

In order to maximise power, like-minded independents would then be wise to band together to form a voting bloc. Perhaps one MP would offer support for another’s bill in exchange for support on their own. They might lunch together, informally talking about events of the day. Who knows, they might even formalise an agreement and before you know it you’ve got a brand-new political party — precisely of the type this whole idea was trying to avoid.

What would be achieved in such a parliament? My guess is not a lot. Our august parliamentary system is designed around a majority to get shit done. As the 43rd Parliament demonstrated, the electorate doesn’t take well to the horse-trading of minority government. This isn’t Abbottesque fear mongering; it’s a political and constitutional fact. Our two major parties, with a workable majority, therefore remain the best basis for transformation of our political debate.

I share much of Jane Gilmore’s frustration with politics, but it is not the system I am frustrated with: it’s the party members themselves. There is a gap between the political class who claim to represent us and our desires for the country. We need to bridge that gap.

Party Over Here
As fellow Labor member Luke Mansillo argued in The Guardian recently, “people need to participate in party politics to get the parties they want … if you want a more progressive Labor party, make it”. While this may come across as terribly naive, it’s actually more pragmatic than you might think. Parties need people because parties are people.

Although our major parties dominate electoral politics, ordinary membership of these organisations has been declining for decades. Neither party publishes verifiable figures, but leaked figures put the ALP’s membership at around 54,000 nationally and the Liberal Party at around 40-45,000 (although the Liberals claim double this). Not much chop considering a couple of local sport(s) teams could more than account for the nation’s major party membership and have enough left over to start another one.

This decline in membership has left the parties without the diversity of membership required to best serve the country. So how can we fix the situation? Simple: go and join a major political party. Instead of signing a petition, sign a membership form and pay your dues. Go and bolster their terminal membership with ordinary people like yourselves, and ensure that they don’t fall prey to undue sectional and special interests.

GetUp! claims a membership of 800,000 mostly young and politically engaged people. Imagine if even 10 per cent of that group signed up to the Labor Party today? 80,000 new progressive members would reinvigorate the party unlike any drawn out rules committee changes ever could. Hell — imagine if more thoughtful, non-reactionary conservatives (if that’s not an oxymoron) joined the Liberal Party?

Instead of finding many cats to herd across the wilds of this brown land, I plead that you do this seemingly non-radical act. Because while you might not like either of them, the two major political parties are the most viable vehicle for actual political change.

Thanks to the good folk at Junkee for affording me a platform

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

The Broad Church and the Myth of the Conscience Vote

With Tony Abbott getting his way in the coalition party room, there remains little chance of the cross-party same sex marriage bill seeing the light of day this parliament.

This outcome is, of course, a blow to the immediate campaign for marriage equality, but does little to stop its inevitability. In reality, the decision only adds weight to the almost universal perception that the coalition is 'out of touch' with voters, regardless of how much stock they may personally put in same-sex marriage.

And it finally puts paid to the myth that the Liberal Party is the party of individual choice.

Throughout the years, Liberal MPs have been always proud to claim theirs is the party of conscience. Unlike the other mob across the chamber, the high-minded Liberal MP is never bound by pledges of group solidarity or of strict party discipline.

No siree Bob (Menzies), the Liberal MP is allowed to think for himself (sic) in a "broad-church" party where "every a conscience vote".

Except when it isn't, which is most of the time. Whatever philosophical high-ground the Liberal Party claims in theory has never manifested itself in practice. John Howard rarely promoted the so-called "wets" in his party, preferring reactive social conservatives to individual thinkers.

There were, of course, exceptions, but they only proved the rule. Just look at Petro Georgiou's parliamentary career post-1996.

This is the situation the Liberal Party finds itself in now. It is a party that has been damaged by not adhering to popular will, common sense or its own notional philosophical tenets.