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Ooh Ah James McGrath

When Queensland Liberal Senator James McGrath gave his maiden speech in July last year, Doug Cameron described him as a “fruit loop ” and a “Tea Party extremist.” Perhaps the best appraisal of the speech was by James Colley in his article “Senator James McGrath Is Your Newest Reason To Swear Loudly At The TV.” (worth the read)

The newly elected Senator wasted no time in dramatically outlining his priorities branding himself as a crusader against tyranny.

“The ‘Hundred Years War against Tyranny’ continues today on three fronts: first of all Islamist fundamentalism intent on caliphates destroying Western civilisation, especially religious freedom; secondly, democratic governments restricting freedom of speech and association, betraying hundreds of years of liberty; and, finally, leftists delegitimising all views other than their own, especially in media and education.

Whether I serve here for 16 days or 16 years, I shall always judge myself on how I have battled against tyranny and fought for the axis of enlightenment—that is, liberty of the individual, a free market, small government and low taxes. I will let others badge and brand and box me, as, in my great broad church that is the Liberal Party, my pew is a moveable feast. I have campaigned against dictator-loving Islamist fundamentalists in the Maldives; Sinn Fein- and PLO-supporting Labour candidates in London; and godless rebranded communists in Mongolia—not to mention the Queensland branch of the Australian Labor Party!

My life has not been about the pursuit or gain of power but to confiscate power back from government to free people.

From the dockyards of Kronstat to the editorial desk of The Age, the Left always want to control and brutalise. By restricting freedom of speech, they are building Australian gulags for words and thoughts.”

But apparently this freedom does not extend to the ABC who McGrath threatened during his speech saying

“I want to support the ABC. I like the ABC. Yet while it continues to represent only inner-city leftist views, and funded by our taxes, it is in danger of losing its social licence to operate. I am calling for a review of the ABC’s charter. And if they fail to make inroads to restore balance, then the ABC should be sold and replaced by a regional and rural broadcasting service. In the meantime, Triple J, because of its demographic dominance and clear ability to stand on its own, should be immediately sold.”

McGrath is now back in the news bemoaning the supposed bias of the ABC’s Q&A programme.

Q&A is the only television program where members of the public can directly ask questions of our elected representatives. The topics and panel members are usually chosen in response to concerns raised on social media, or events such as the budget or the writer’s festival, or to coincide with the visit of different experts or celebrities.

We have a chance to watch the body language, to see rare glimpses of unscripted responses, to hear differing views from other members of the panel.

The program is usually broadcast from the ABC’s studios in the Sydney suburb of Ultimo. Anyone wishing to be in the audience can fill in a form on the program’s website, which as well as asking for contact details, asks some questions relating to the applicant’s political views to help “select a diverse and well-balanced audience”.

Perhaps people from the right of politics are not the questioning kind or have no interest in taking part in something on the ABC. They most certainly are invited.

The most frequently-appearing panellists on Q&A, as of 9 March 2015, were

Coalition: (Total 149)

Christopher Pyne (21), Malcolm Turnbull (21), Barnaby Joyce (16), George Brandis (15), Joe Hockey (14), Julie Bishop (12), Greg Hunt (11), Sophie Mirabella (11), Amanda Vanstone (10), Kelly O’Dwyer (10), Tony Abbott (8)

Labor: (Total 112)

Tanya Plibersek (21), Bill Shorten (16), Penny Wong (14), Craig Emerson (12), Graham Richardson (12), Chris Bowen (11), Tony Burke (9), Kate Ellis (9), Lindsay Tanner (8)

Minor parties:

Christine Milne (10), Clive Palmer (8)

The Australian:

Janet Albrechtsen (12), Greg Sheridan (11), Judith Sloan (9)

The Guardian:

David Marr (9)


Germaine Greer (9)

By my count, that is 189 appearances from the right and 140 from the left.

Maths isn’t the only questionable thing about Senator McGrath.

McGrath spent his earliest political days as a teenager, doing volunteer campaign work for the Liberals in the seat of Toowoomba North. “One of those nerdy kids who are right into politics”, he joined the Young Liberals, who he describes as the “true bearers of the flame of liberty and freedom”, while he studied law at Griffith University.

After working on the unsuccessful Liberal campaign in the 2002 South Australian state election, McGrath eventually ended up director of political strategy for Boris Johnson in his successful bid in 2008 to become mayor of London.

Following the election on May 1, McGrath became Johnson’s chief political advisor in office, but it was less than two months before he was sacked.

Johnson had an uneasy relationship with the city’s black community having, as a journalist, previously described black Londoners as “picanninies” and “Africans and their watermelon smiles”.

When, in an interview, it was suggested to McGrath that some black Britons might leave the country if Mr Johnson became mayor, he responded: “Let them go if they don’t like it here.”

McGrath was sacked soon after the matter became public.

Mr Johnson said in a statement that if Mr McGrath had stayed, his comments would have provided “ammunition” for critics of his mayoralty.

McGrath didn’t return straight away to Australia, instead running a successful 2008 election campaign in the Maldives and an unsuccessful one in Sri Lanka in 2009.

Amidst widespread pre-poll violence, allegations of vote-tampering and intimidation in the Sri Lankan election, Mr McGrath, who was working as a campaign adviser to the opposition, blamed Rajapaksa’s domination of election coverage on Government-owned media.

”The coverage Rajapaksa got on state media just destroyed us,” he said.

I would have thought the intimidation and alleged fraud may have been greater concerns but, for a man who mentioned Mark Textor as a teacher and mentor in his maiden speech, I suppose it’s all about the ads.

In 2010, Brian Loughnane suggested McGrath for the job of running the LNP’s federal campaign in Queensland.

In 2011 the then 38 year old campaign director was revealed as the architect behind a scheme to pay disgruntled former Labor staffer and candidate Robert Hough for dirt on government MPs.

The LNP dirt file detailed a minister’s epilepsy and childhood adoption, claims about some politicians’ sexuality, sex lives, drinking habits and health matters, and included details of the schools of the children of government MPs.

Senior LNP figures including president Bruce McIver and aspiring premier Campbell Newman denied knowing about the dirt files until The Courier-Mail raised the matter.

They said LNP campaign director James McGrath and state director Michael O’Dwyer had been “strongly reprimanded” for commissioning the $3075 research but would not be sacked.

The saga came after Mr Newman had accused Labor of unleashing a dirt unit against him and his family after weeks of attention focused on his personal financial interests.

He labelled Premier Anna Bligh as a “sleaze bucket” and said the state was run by “drunks, punks and desperadoes”.

The message seems to be financial dealings are sacrosanct but personal gossip is an acceptable weapon.

Far from this shameful episode ending McGrath’s political career as many suggested it would, we now see him elected to the Federal Senate where he is pushing for the GST to be raised to 15% and broadened to “cover everything”, the abolition of payroll tax and the reduction of company tax, the abolition of the federal departments of health and education, with universities also to be run at a state level, the abolition of compulsory student unionism, and the repeal of Section 18C of the RDA.

“Each year, I will be compiling my own red-tape report to keep my government and my party on the Hayek road—away from serfdom and towards lower regulation, lower taxes and smaller government.”

I will close with the words of Doug Cameron who was “gobsmacked” by Senator McGrath’s maiden speech.

“These are the people that are supposed to be the high-calibre Liberals. If this is the high-calibre Liberals I’d hate to go to a Liberal party branch in Queensland and see the low-lifes in operation.”


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  1. johnlord2013

    “There’s nothing like the certainty of a closed mind”

  2. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    In McGrath’s ideals of good governance, I’m surprised he hasn’t included the right to bear arms. He sounds insane enough to believe in that too.

  3. Kaye Lee

    People like James McGrath and Joe Bullock are the reason we should vote below the line in Senate elections

  4. Keitha Granville

    Sounds like he would fit right in with the current Federal parliamentary Liberal party. I reckon they’ll be fitting him for a seat in the lower house asap. Or even a portfolio ?

  5. kerri

    This guy defines RWNJ!!! I note however that he is for lower taxes but wants GST higher nad on everything!
    Who on earth votes for these lunatics?? Do we have a serious problem with politicians presenting as one thing to get elected then switching to thier true selves once in power or do we really have voters this mind bogglingly stupid?

  6. Jexpat

    Just another cowardly, innumerate bigot & grifter.

    A teabagger indeed.

  7. totaram

    “Do we have a serious problem with politicians presenting as one thing to get elected then switching to their true selves once in power or do we really have voters this mind bogglingly stupid?”

    Both, seems the correct answer, as they are not mutually exclusive.

  8. stephentardrew

    You are in the minority dummy so go play with yourself.

    You know democracy and all that.

  9. Kaye Lee

    He was number 2 on the Queensland Liberal Party ticket behind Ian McDonald and was the third Senator elected. The last Liberal Senator elected for Queensland (at number 6 behind Glenn Lazarus at 4) was Matthew Canavan who was Barnaby Joyce’s former chief of staff.

    At least they voted out Newman.

  10. Kaye Lee

    Ian MacDonald is, of course, the Senator who wore a hi-vis mining vest into the Senate. Check out Scott Ludlum’s reaction

    This Idiot Senator Wore A Hi-Vis Mining Vest In Parliament And Got Torn To Bits By Everybody

    He is also the guy that got dumped from the ministry who then dumped on control-freak Peta Credlin.–accused-of-pulling-coalition-strings-20131204-2yqte.html

    He is now Father of the Senate having been a Senator for 25 years.

  11. banistersmind

    Sadly, I fear that the majority of Australians are indeed the very lunatics we fear them to be, if idiots like this McGrath fellow can get a leg up.

    Australia really is lost.

  12. stephentardrew

    Pajama Child.

    Left or right is a personal democratic right to an opinion not a bias.

    Your grasp of logic is astoundingly poor.

    Your grasp of democracy is even worse.

    Ergo you are of no relevance to this discussion.

  13. Anomander

    Testament to the stupidity of the Australian voting public.

  14. Loz

    Who on earth voted for this imbecile?

  15. Salstarat

    Queensland and Western Australia have always been the breeding ground for crass, dumbed down, bible bashing bogans. Queensland has redeemed itself by kicking out the ferociously corrupt Newman but these stark staring idiots keep popping up in Queensland and WA like a recurring STD! WA is the Bible Belt of Australia .. A State where it’s horrific racist maltreatment of aborigines and its backward parochial xenophobia is only matched by its complete disregard for their environment and it’s ability to sell off every asset they have to foreign investment … The largest gold mine in the world at Kalgoorlie is now owned by Canadian and American interests with nothing of any benefit coming back to Australia! The Oligarchical neoliberals like McGrath, are as mad as cut snakes, thoroughly bad and totally dangerous but the red neck, gormless fools in WA and Qld keep voting them back in over and over again! Wake up!

  16. Kaye Lee

    Senator Arthur Sinodinos said he did not believe Q&A focussed enough on macroeconomic issues.

    Does he really think that’s what most Australians want to ask about? We all know the script about “Layboor’s debt and deficit disaster” thanks to the Cormann doll who says it regardless of what you say to him. (He reminds me of those dolls with a string in their back who only have a certain number of phrases to say over and over).

    It is up to the people to decide the questions on the Q&A show, not for the politicians to demand another stage for their theatrical rhetoric.

  17. Kaye Lee

    That’s debatable. For him to even put his hand up the Liberal Party had to endorse him. Do the Qld LNP count as earthlings?

  18. Jexpat

    Loz wrote “Who on earth voted for this imbecile?

    Almost no one. They voted for his party, of which is increasingly rife with imbeciles like this who were largely flying under the radar, thanks to the efforts (and non-efforts) of our corporate media and the very ABC that they so despise.

  19. Kaye Lee

    The Queensland Young Liberals, a group lauded by McGrath, proposed that there be random illicit drug testing for long term unemployed and welfare recipients, removing Australian content quotas for free-to-air television, and a return of cracker night.

    They had the support of Senator Ian MacDonald who believes the handling of fireworks could teach parents and children to be more careful and take responsibility.

    “I don’t want to confess that I’m old enough to have remembered when we had Guy Fawkes night, but it was great fun,” he said.

    Well I am old enough…it was NEVER called Guy Fawkes night…..and I remember the kid next door getting blinded, I remember the paddock across the street being set alight, I remember the burns we all got trying to hold a bunger for too long before you hurled it at your brother, I remember the tormented animals and the blown up letter boxes.

    But that’s Young Liberals (and Queensland Senators) for you.

  20. Jexpat

    In the case of explosive fireworks, the elbow may be all that’s left.

  21. David

    Of course the pompous, arrogant Abbott Puppet in the ABC MD Scott is doing nothing to counter that false perception of a left leaning Corporation, because it suits both of them.

  22. Jexpat


    His predecessor, Maurice Newman, was -and remains, even more impressive.

  23. Jexpat

    You’re talking to someone who’s lived a considerable amount of time in the US, so you can’t pass that bulldust off so easily..

    M-80’s, M-100’s and cherry bombs, etc. will certainly can and do take hands off.

    Others, like black cat “ladyfingers” or bottle rockets simply blind. And start bushfires.

    As to firearms, let’s just say that we’re fortunate that Howard had the good sense to act when he did- otherwise we’d be seeing impressive demonstrations of their destructive power and relative risks on a weekly- if not daily basis.

  24. Andreas Bimba

    I really think the answer for Australia is to abandon the failed two party system and go to a multi party system that more closely reflects the diversity of our society.

    The Queesland Liberals seem to have chosen the American right wing evangelist path but I can’t see small ‘l’ Liberals in the southern states adopting this form of moronism for long.

    Similarly Labor should split into progressive/working people and neo-liberal/pro business halves.

    The Greens would also benefit by having progressive Green, working class Green and conservative Green loosely allied parties.

    A multi party system would mean that political parties would need to appeal to a segment of the electorate, not just to the swinging voter which is what Labor and the Conservatives do now.

    Proportional representation voting for the lower houses of our parliaments would however be necessary for small parties to survive for the long term. The Tasmanian Hare-Clarke voting system that had 7 (now 5) local members per seat where each seat has about 7 times the number of residents may be a good choice for all of Australia.

  25. Andreas Bimba

    Here’s a video on the Hare-Clark voting system and it’s used in Tasmania and the ACT state/territory elections.

  26. Kaye Lee

    Eliminate question time and perhaps even debating time for legislation. Make a working committee with proportional representation of the vote who accepts submissions, listens to advice, reaches interim consensus before going back to their parties and electorate for further questions, then presents a draft legislation – so when legislation comes up it has some chance of getting through.

    We have to get the politics out and the governing in. One party should NOT be the sole governing party.

    In Switzerland they don’t have a permanent head of state – they take turns. The Swiss Federal Council is a seven-member executive council that heads the federal administration, operating as a combination cabinet and collective presidency. The largely ceremonial President and Vice President of the Confederation are elected by the Federal Assembly from among the members of the Federal Council for one-year terms that run concurrently. The President has almost no powers over and above his or her six colleagues, but undertakes representative functions normally performed by a president or prime minister in single-executive systems. The Swiss government has been a coalition of the four major political parties since 1959, each party having a number of seats that roughly reflects its share of electorate and representation in the federal parliament.

    If we had a 20 person executive (our population is a bit less than 3 times that of Switzerland), based on the total number of votes per party at the 2013 election, the executive would be comprised of 7 Labor, 6 Liberal, 2 LNP, 1 National Party, 2 Green, 1 PUP, and 1 from Others. If no-one wore the crown and we had proportional representation in the executive, it could be productive.

    More about Swiss system here….

  27. Kaye Lee

    You are, however, deliberately provocative…..a shit stirrer

  28. stephentardrew

    Now Kaye not so much of the stirrer.

  29. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    I like your thinking Andreas Bimba re: Hare-Clark voting system. I also like what your saying Kaye Lee re: the Swiss system.

    I’ve developed a strong interest in proportional democratic representative government also and the Danish system provides food for thought.

    Neither the degenerate LNP or disappointing Labor parties are up to the standard of good governance on the own any more and Australia needs minority parties to have higher proportional parts in the decision making processes of policies and legislation.

  30. Andreas Bimba

    Kaye, in regard to the Swiss government system I suppose we had something similar during the 2nd world war where the parties formed a joint government.

    In the long term fairly static coalition governments may stagnate but the Swiss system must somehow cut out the dead wood. I’m not too keen on not having parliamentary debate on legislation though.

    A multi party system with a good form of proportional representation voting would be much closer to our current system and be more likely to gain electoral support.

    Jennifer some of your earlier writings led me towards this line of thinking.

  31. lawrencewinder

    The coarseness, baseness and sheer vile nature of these nouveau liarbrils is quite astounding. The brutality of their message and demeanour, and the effrontery in proselytising a one dimensional world view as something new only indicates how little they have crawled from the cave.

  32. Eli nes

    It was terrific that Windsor and Oakeschott took their chance to reform the parliament perfectly with a powerful PM whose only weakness was her gender. It was sad that the opposition to her as a woman who lied was perfect for the morning tabloids and the morning show autocue journalists. It was sadder when she attacked Abbutt personally only once with great success and then got on with the job without any forays into hand to hand combat. The anti-labor fervour was concentrated in the media and qed.
    The culmination was abbutt’s mates homophobic Bullock and crazy McGrath. It is ‘delicious’ irony that the opposition to senator McGrath is Jacqui and Glenn ‘for whom I am extremely grateful!!!
    I have long thought that we should be able to combine below the line preferences for as many as we want then mark the next consecutive number above the line thereby creating your own preferences and would have allowed labor voters to circumvent the idiots who put bullock above pratt.

  33. Denisio Fabuloso

    Gawd… I’m just so tired of these whinging mediocre right wing neo liberal whiners. Same old visionless ideological vomitous drivel. Beyond tiresome. Off to take some Brown Acid. Its a real step up after reading about these whiney turds.

  34. FreeThinker


    Maybe no-one has said this to you before, but you have a severe case of political halitosis.

    Seriously, you will not persuade anyone here to listen to your views, when your mouth is so constantly, wide open.

    Fortunately, there is a solution, though like every Important skill, it takes lots of practice.

    You just need to learn to dip your tongue into your brain before you speak.

  35. kerri

    But, FreeThinker, that would make Jammy a contortionist?

  36. diannaart

    I am hangin’ out to vote for the Libs again, just like I did at age 18 when I voted for the first and, it turned out, last time for a conservative party.

    I am soooo waiting for the LNP to achieve something good for Australia, like investing in 21st technology, stop lying, assess mining against damage to environment, stop lying, actually put some money into welfare concerns instead of of mouthing off, stop lying, work at finding revenue that does not involve harming the poorest or just stop lying.

    It may not happen overnight…. or at all. But I can dream.

  37. crypt0

    Has James McGrath ever had a real job, or is he just a political hack who has ascended to the giddy heights of “professional” politician ?

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