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Disruptive marketing …

October 18th, 2007

… is one of those buzzphrases that is in the air in business schools, and since I’m located right next to the business school here at UQ I tend to be exposed to them.

Economists have their own buzzphrases and are not usually inclined to adopt those of marketing, but I must say this term seems apposite to Howard’s approach to the campaign. Starting from behind (but with the notional advantage of incumbency) he’s making up new rules and then demanding that Rudd adhere to them.

On tax, for example, the standard occasion to release what will presumably be the biggest single policy initiative of the campaign would be the policy speech (hence the name). Howard released his on the first day, then demanded that Rudd follow suit. Similarly, Howard has proposed a totally new format for a debate, effectively killing off the debate as it’s been understood, and is now trying the “empty chair” ploy on Rudd, saying he’ll go ahead with or without him.

It makes a certain kind of sense, but the obvious thing for the market leader (there I go again!) to do is to ignore it.,

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  1. October 18th, 2007 at 09:31 | #1

    John, The tax move was smart – it is attractive and cramps Rudd’s style.

    Neither Rudd nor you were ready to say much. Why? Isn’t it the key policy? The difficulty is not that Labor supporters don’t have ideas on tax – they sure do. Its the politics.

    The only defence for not having a response I have seen is that new Treasury data was released with the announcement and Labor needed to rethink.

    And if Rudd refuses to debate….

    JWH is making a fight of this – he must be as you and many others are dispensing advice on how Rudd should deal with him.

  2. Leinad
    October 18th, 2007 at 09:57 | #2

    Longer Harry: the only defense Labor have for not immediately releasing a policy right after the Liberals who trail them by a ridiculous amount (as they have all year) is that a load of data that the libs have had for weeks and used to fine tune their own tax policy has also been released.

    C’mon, listen to yourself, man. You’re seperated from the ideological warriors over at the http://www.pollbludger.com comments by better spelling and punctuation.

    There isn’t obligation on Labor , or any other party, to release their policys at any time other than that of their choosing. The Libs are desperately trying to make an issue here after blinking first and in a big way. This is a 6.8 week campaign, there’s all the time in the world and Labor of all parties have no need to feel the rush.

  3. mugwump
    October 18th, 2007 at 10:23 | #3

    I saw a media bite of Howard last night

    This is a campaign for the leadership of this country. Mr Rudd needs to stop whining and grow up.

    Or words to that effect. So true. I have never been able to shake my impression of Rudd as that unpopular kid who rushes off to tell the teacher everytime someone picks on him, rather than sort it out in the time-honored fashion. I felt sorry for those kids at school, but I didn’t like them.

    The Libs opened with the campaign equivalent of a king hit. Remarkably, they’ve gained a bit of momentum with the electorate and media, after trailing for so long in the polls. Great strategy.

    Come on Labor, show us what you’ve got.

  4. Bob
    October 18th, 2007 at 10:33 | #4

    The thing I struggle with is what the tax cut policy is a policy for. As a nation it’s pretty unclear what Australia gets for this policy. Individual taxpayers will have returned to them money the government apparently doesn’t need. But it seems to me we do need to allocate money to things like skills and education, infrastructure, shifts in energy use, health, aged care, improved income support. That Messrs Howard and Costello see a political opportunity in handing back $34b doesn’t mean Messrs Rudd and Swan have to match it. If they have policy proposals that cost money, I’m interested to consider those proposals. If they don’t, let them hand back what they can’t use. A tax cut isn’t a policy, it’s a ploy. I can wait six weeks for all the policy to be paraded before us and then see where the tax cuts fit in.

  5. October 18th, 2007 at 11:27 | #5

    Note that Kenneth Davidson in The Age this morning claims the cuts only restore the effects of bracket creep.

    If that’s true then opposing the cuts suggests you want an increase in taxes. If anything the case is for larger cuts.

    I am interested in Kevin Rudd’s response.

  6. Oz
    October 18th, 2007 at 12:07 | #6

    Both leaders have scored early points in my view. Rudd by not being tricked into playing ‘follow-the-leader’ on tax policy, and Howard by his pre-emptive strike on Labor’s ‘New Leadership’ slogan, ie:(“we don’t need new leadership or old leadership; we need the right leadership”).

    So my philosophy is: sit back and enjoy the Anderssen and Kieseritzky of politics fighting for our attention; it will be the only time for the next 3 years that either will care what we think.

  7. Anna K
    October 18th, 2007 at 12:17 | #7

    Since when did party politics have rules of engagement?

    All looks like fair game to me. I just hope that the ALP is up for it.

    They should employ some psychologists on the campaign team

  8. observa
    October 18th, 2007 at 12:28 | #8

    From News MSN-
    ‘Campaigning in Brisbane, Mr Howard said Mr Rudd’s complaints about being attacked were “extraordinary”.
    “Can I just say to Mr Rudd: grow up,” Mr Howard said.
    “It’s a contest for the heart and minds of the Australian people and of course we will point out that 70 per cent of a Labor ministry would be composed of former trade union officials.
    “It’s not negative, it’s not dirty, it’s not personal, it’s true.”‘

    He’s a formidable campaigner. That ‘grow up’ line cut right through the long, slow drip of Rudd that Howard was old, tired and it’s time. So you reckon I’m too old for the job do you junior, jump in the ring then boyoh, was the message loud and clear. I’ll be ringside in the Great Hall and bring your tax policy. Masterful stuff from the old warhorse.

    “It’s not negative, it’s not dirty, it’s not personal, it’s true.”
    And with that he’s begun the comparison of the two teams. Up til now Rudd has only been measured against Lithium and the Beazer, but that is all changing fast in the campaign glare. Smart money would still be on Rudd and Labor, but you wouldn’t put your house on it just yet.

  9. mugwump
    October 18th, 2007 at 12:49 | #9

    I can’t understand how anyone in their right mind would vote for a party comprised of 70% trade unionists. Especially as the remaining 30% are party apparatchiks or ex public servants.

    Is there anyone in Labor who has ever held a real job? Started a business? Anyone?

  10. mugwump
    October 18th, 2007 at 12:56 | #10

    An independent authority should set the ground rules for all prime ministerial election debates, federal Labor leader Kevin Rudd says.

    Ya Kevin, just what we need, another government busybody. He simply can’t function without a teacher to tattle to.

    I see your true colours shining through…

  11. The Doctor
    October 18th, 2007 at 13:02 | #11

    Oz, I think the better analogy would be Anderssen and Morphy, at least for this round.

    Mugwump, I am glad you think that the pack of irresponsible, lying lawyers (who give sharks and snakes a bad name) are better than people who deal with the coalface.

  12. mugwump
    October 18th, 2007 at 13:16 | #12

    Doctor, when was the last time you saw a trade unionist deal with anything other than his own influence?

  13. Leinad
    October 18th, 2007 at 14:08 | #13

    mugwump: oh there was some company with, like, asbestos or something. You may have heard of it…

  14. Leinad
    October 18th, 2007 at 14:09 | #14

    BREAKING NEWS: Liberal Party discovers Labor’s Secret Trade Union Past! 0_o

  15. mugwump
    October 18th, 2007 at 14:24 | #15

    great, we’re electing the party for beating up on Hardies. Even the Greens are broader than that.

  16. John Bignucolo
    October 18th, 2007 at 15:20 | #16

    > great, we’re electing the party for beating up on Hardies. Even the Greens are broader than that.

    What an absolutely pathetic and dishonest response. You’re bound to go a long way in conservative politics.

    The NSW Special Commission of Inquiry into James Hardie’s behaviour would never have occurred but for the actions of the trade unions. It was hrad enough to get the Carr government on board. No conservative government would have appointed a commission of inquiry. The Federal government was completely uninterested. The outcomes achieved for sufferers of asbestos-related illnesses would never have occurred but for the grit and determination of the trade union movement.

    By all means, criticise the unions for their shortcomings and mistabkes, but to simply parrot conservative talking points, then when someone points out the fatuousness of your statements, reply with “hey look at the pretty beads over there”, marks you as a tool of the first order.

  17. melanie
    October 18th, 2007 at 16:17 | #17

    I had a letter the other day, the envelope of which was printed with the official coat of arms and something about the election. I thought it must be from the Electoral Commission, but it was just a ‘vote for me’ sheet from Joe Hockey. That strikes me as real desperation.

    At a tangent: according to the OECD data reported on in the newspapers today Australia has the 8th lowest tax burdent (% of GDP) out of 30 member countries. The US is one of the 7 countries below us in the table, but see “Bad Teeth” and the various links.

    Nonetheless, the tax burden in all except 4 countries (leaving out Germany because of its changed situation) has increased since 1985. The various tax cuts that Costello has delivered have not reduced the tax burden on Australians for obvious reasons like bracket creep and it seems highly doubtful that the new proposal will either. Same is true of the Bush tax cuts.

  18. mugwump
    October 18th, 2007 at 16:17 | #18

    Gee Bignucolo, hit a sore spot did we?

    My point: Labor is 70% Unionists and 30% public sector/party apparatchiks at a time when the private sector in Australia is barely unionized at all.

    They may be experts on beating up on big companies for bad behaviour (or otherwise), but in every other respect they’re exceedingly unrepresentative.

  19. melanie
    October 18th, 2007 at 16:24 | #19

    Mugwump, where do the data come from. My impression of Labor politicians is that, like their Lib counterparts, they’re nearly all lawyers.

  20. mugwump
    October 18th, 2007 at 16:35 | #20

    melanie, I am quoting from memory – either in Lithium’s book or an Australian article that did the breakdown at the last election. I’ll dig up a reference when I have a moment, but things have only got worse since John Stone wrote this in 2002:

    Yet look at what a cloistered profession the parliamentary Labor Party has become. After Kim Beazley’s vigorous campaign in the 1998 election, Labor returned to parliament with a party of 96 members of vastly changed occupational backgrounds. Although one medical practitioner, one public servant and one engineer remained, no farmers or tradesmen did. There were two academics, two teachers and nine lawyers, but the social complexion had changed.

    What had replaced a broad spectrum of backgrounds was a new class of political operator who had been filtered through the net of ALP machine politics. Out of the 96 members, 53 came from jobs in party or union offices. These members described themselves variously as “administrators”, “officials” and “electoral officers”. There were also 10 former members of state parliaments and nine described as political consultants, advisers and lobbyists.

    Seventy-six of the 96 members had tertiary qualifications; a mere two had trade qualifications. Labor’s politicians have nearly all been to factional finishing school but not many have been to the school of hard knocks. The ALP has become truly professional and, in the process of professionalising itself, has lost much of its capacity to relate to the broader community and a lot of its charm.

  21. mugwump
    October 18th, 2007 at 16:38 | #21

    PIMF, John Button

  22. frankis
    October 18th, 2007 at 16:59 | #22

    Funnily enough it’s always been Howard that I’ve wished could “grow up”, and hearing his silly little comments to Rudd of course only makes me think “projection”.

  23. frankis
    October 18th, 2007 at 17:04 | #23

    Wow thanks for the edit there mugwump I was coming up with something really nasty to say about John Stone and worthless opinions (and hadn’t bothered to actually read the quote 🙂

  24. melanie
    October 18th, 2007 at 18:30 | #24

    Mugwump, I went to the parliamentary website.
    3.5% of the Australian workforce are in agriculture, forestry and fishery, but 20 percent of the current Ministry list farming or fishing among their previous occupations (and 25% of parliamentary secretaries). Half of these held office in various farmers’ unions and Andrew Robb’s only careers have been in a farmers’ union or as a party apparatchik.

    And I’m fairly sure that 43% of Australians are not lawyers.

    It turns out that only 23% of the shadow cabinet were lawyers. I could find only 33% who listed union official as part of their previous career, though admittedly two thirds of those had basically no other career, unless it was as a party apparatchik. But people who list ‘policy adviser’ or some other party postion are just as common in the Ministry – it would seem quite normal for somebody intent on a political career.

    Other occupations listed by shadow ministers were teacher, academic, public servant, singer, economist, superannuation fund manager, bank officer, electrician/small business operator, shop assistant, builders labourer and diplomat – altogether 57% of the shadow cabinet have been at the coalface.

    The Ministry list includes businessman, manager, doctor (and doctors’ union), military, banker, ship master, police officer, professional consultant, public servant, diplomat, teacher, shopkeeper, university bureaucrat – altogether 40% of the ministers.

    23% of the shadow ministry are female, compared with 13% of the ministry. Um, 51% of the population.

  25. Jill Rush
    October 18th, 2007 at 18:57 | #25

    I too listened to the “grow up” gibe and thought bullies in a school yard throw that kind of taunt at others. ( I might also add that I heard this same statement by a big loser in a previous election).

    I watched the ad about the unionists on TV last night and the point that was being made was unsubtle and violent. Again the bully idea was revisited.

    When Bill Shorten was mentioned I thought back to the great work he did in Beaconsfield last year and Greg Combet reminded me of the work on behalf of those with asbestosis.

    Australia had no problem electing a Trade unionist as the PM and keeping him there in preference to John Howard. Perhaps this is where the pathological hatred for trade unionists arises.

    The PM in releasing a tax bribe and then demanding that the opposition follow in his wake has also been handled in a bullying manner. Rudd was wise to wait as the bribe has been seen as not much by the electorate who have not joined in with the enthusiasm of the commentariat. More analysis has started to see it unravel at the edges.

    His demand for a 90 minute debate in the first week of the campaign on pay TV without a worm, when policies are still to be released and people would not be interested in watching for that length of time shows he is desperate. The PM is out of touch if he thinks that time poor families would watch him for an hour and a half on a valuable Sunday. It would give him the ability to say he had participated in a debate – but only if he can bully Rudd into attending.

    Rudd on the other hand can seize the initiative and make Howard look like the boy who threw a party and noone came.

  26. mugwump
    October 18th, 2007 at 22:35 | #26

    When Bill Shorten was mentioned I thought back to the great work he did in Beaconsfield last year

    I too remember Beaconsfield. Bill Shorten did 9/10 of sweet f*ck all, except for furthering Bill Shorten’s political career.

    So melanie, by your count, 10% of the current ministry have held an office in a (farmers) union, and one (1) can count no other career.

    How many in Labor can count no other career outside politics (and please exclude the invented careers like “I worked in my uncle’s fish and chip shop one summer”. Labor party members are dab hands and inventing working class credentials).

    And while “policy adviser” may be a natural occupation for someone intent on a political career, it is a terrible qualification for anyone seeking to be elected. First-hand experience of real life is essential.

  27. frankis
    October 18th, 2007 at 23:27 | #27

    The Prime Minister claims to have done some work as a boy in his dad’s petrol station, and he also worked for a time in a suburban solicitor’s office while living at home with his mum. I think it’s clear from his poor performance how ill-equipped for the high offices to which he’s been elected he was left by his lack of life experience, none of which is to say that he doesn’t have some respectable character qualities that would have allowed him to perform well enough in, let’s say, legal work. As often happens though he was promoted well beyond his level of competence.

  28. rog
    October 19th, 2007 at 07:52 | #28

    Memories of local member Kelly Hoare being unceremoniously dumped for ACTU secretary Greg Combet still rankle within the electorate – she is a single mum now out of a job and the ALP ‘s claims that WC is unfair dont quite ring true. The swing against the ALP in once safe seats in the recent state election was significant given the solid rusted on ALP support from the blue collar electorate. No loyalty shown for true believers!

  29. Tony Healy
    October 19th, 2007 at 09:25 | #29

    Regarding Bill Shorten’s work at the Beaconsfield mining disaster, he had been trying to get management to upgrade safety for 12 months prior to the disaster. Had management listened to him, the disaster and fatality would probably have been avoided.

    Also, and highlighting an extremely high level of trust and co-operative behaviour, Shorten refrained from referring to that work during the disaster, or from exploiting the situation afterwards.

    Those qualities would make a fine contribution to running Australia, in my view.

  30. mugwump
    October 19th, 2007 at 10:02 | #30

    Bill Shorten acts in the interests of Bill Shorten. I think href=”http://www.shine.com.au/pages/hereSay-ArticlesLawyers/june-06/article_04_Beaconsfield_Bill.html”>this take is closer to the truth.

    At Beaconsfield, the media, in particular broadcast media, had an insatiable appetite for up-to-date information as the story unfolded. In these situations there’s no time to research in any depth, develop contacts for leads, it’s all about getting the job done quickly and with a minimum of technical fuss.

    Bill Shorten has been around the media traps for years and knows this mantra well. But there was one problem, he had already flown the coop back to the mainland after hope had faded of finding any of the miner’s alive. When the call came through that Russell and Webb had actually survived against all the odds, Bill knew he had to act quickly. He reportedly called on a wealthy Australian business identity, who also happened to be a friend, and who also happened to own a private jet.

    He knew that taking a commercial flight with the obvious delay would not be an option if his goal was to be achieved. The media has no patience, they would wait for no man. They simply wanted their story and would have interviewed the next in line, perhaps the local mayor, who could probably deliver the same information. Launceston traffic control probably hadn’t seen a private jet land there in a while, just hours after the miners were found alive, Bill was back.

  31. mugwump
    October 19th, 2007 at 10:10 | #31

    hmm, try this link

  32. Tony Healy
    October 19th, 2007 at 10:14 | #32

    Yeh, but he could have run around shouting “I told you so.” He didn’t.

    Shorten is one of the few cases that demonstrates it’s possible to do an MBA without becoming a moron.

  33. mugwump
    October 19th, 2007 at 10:38 | #33

    Yeh, but he could have run around shouting “I told you so.� He didn’t.

    The piece I linked to has a less charitable (but IMO accurate) take on that too:

    Think of how different we would be perceiving Bill Shorten now if instead he’d been at the head of a picket line in a two week industrial dispute? Is that picture of an old, hardline, union aggressor what Bill Shorten wanted to paint himself as? Fairly obviously not.

    He had the opportunity many times to savage the safety record of the Beaconsfield mine, but chose not to, not because, as he claimed at the time, that “the focus is on the rescue and the welfare of the miners�. He knew that he would divide his growing attentive audience (voters) by going down that path. Remember his promise that “the safety issue would be dealt with at the appropriate time�, meaning after the rescue? The rescue is long since over, and yet very little has been made of the mine’s safety by the union, despite the urging of the media. Bill knows where his future lies, and butting heads with a struggling gold mine is not going to get him there.

    I am partial to a little Fake Steve myself. Shorten is certainly no moron.

  34. snuh
    October 19th, 2007 at 11:49 | #34

    “beating up on Hardies.”

    i liked that. hardies is a company that from about 1950 to about 1983 sold a product it knew would kill people if used as directed. of course it wouldn’t do to say that criticism of hardies was undeserved. which is why mugwump doesn’t say it, but merely implies it. because mugwump’s classy, you see.

  35. observa
    October 19th, 2007 at 12:33 | #35

    And lots of auto shops and motor repairers supplied and fitted asbestos brake linings until all govts banned their use at the end of 2002 and we didn’t hear a peep out of the unions or anyone else snuh. What’s so special about Hardies?

  36. gerard
    October 19th, 2007 at 12:36 | #36

    Typical anti-business drivel from snuh yet again. I guess you haven’t caught on to the elementary fact that has made capitalism the greatest wealth-generating system in history: a corporation’s first responsibility is to its shareholders. Why do you expect a business to behave like Amnesty International? The mountains of red-tape and so-called “health” and “safety” regulations imposed by freedom-hating, socialist industrial thugs on efficient, wealth-generating companies like James Hardie just serve to reduce overall growth and end up harming the everybody in the long run. Of course, the Unions will try to spin this into a story about saving innocent people’s lives, but it’s all smoke and mirrors designed to disguise what is really a naked power grab for control of our lives and our money (driven ultimately by envy of those who have succeeded through hard-work rather than sponging off the more productive). So why don’t you and your lot of bleeding-heart social parasites stop carping on about asbestos poisoning and go out and generate some wealth!

  37. snuh
    October 19th, 2007 at 14:12 | #37

    And lots of auto shops and motor repairers supplied and fitted asbestos brake linings until all govts banned their use at the end of 2002 and we didn’t hear a peep out of the unions or anyone else snuh.

    actually asbestos victims groups have long campaigned for (and finally in 2003 won) a total ban on the use of asbestos. the links between asbestos victims groups and unions are very strong — eg the asbestos diseases foundation operates out of the AMWU’s offices.

    the asbestos in brake linings is chrysotile (“white asbestos”), which is supposedly safer than other forms of asbestos such as amosite (“brown asbestos”) and crocidolite (“blue asbestos”, that stuff they mined at wittenoom). amosite and crocidolite have been banned for the last 20 years. chrysotile fibres are less curly and it is supposed that they are not as easily retained in the lungs as other asbestos fibres are.

    What’s so special about Hardies?

    two things: (1) unlike most companies that used asbestos, hardies actually knew (not, they should have known; they actually knew) about the health risks of asbestos.

    and (2) in an attempt to avoid the liabilities generated by their behaviour, hardies moved offshore and stripped its remaining australian companies of assets (leaving a victims’ fund behind which, surprise, it knew didn’t have anywhere near the money needed to meet future claims).

    hardies wasn’t always enemy number 1 of asbestos victims groups. it used to be CSR, who similarly tried various corporate shell games to escape their liabilities, before finally giving up in the early 1990s.

  38. mugwump
    October 19th, 2007 at 15:00 | #38

    of course it wouldn’t do to say that criticism of hardies was undeserved. which is why mugwump doesn’t say it, but merely implies it. because mugwump’s classy, you see.

    Hardies are c*nts. Happy?

  39. melanie
    October 19th, 2007 at 15:57 | #39

    Mugwump, I count 6 shadow ministers (20%) who’ve had no career outside the union or politics and 2 ministers (some of them did spend a couple of years as articled clerks).

  40. melanie
    October 19th, 2007 at 16:02 | #40

    gerard, I think you make a good case for the important role unions have to play. Since business only looks after its shareholders who will look after the rest of us?

  41. mugwump
    October 19th, 2007 at 16:33 | #41

    Since business only looks after its shareholders who will look after the rest of us?

    That depends who “the rest of us” is. Since most Australians are shareholders through super, business is doing a good job of looking after most of us.

    The unions only care about their members: 15% of the private sector and public servants. The unemployed and 85% of the private sector – who generate the taxes that pay the public servants – are of no interest to the unions.

    Since the Labor party is the political wing of the union movement, a vote for Labor is a vote against 85% of the private sector and a vote against the unemployed.

  42. gerard
    October 19th, 2007 at 20:48 | #42

    melanie, I guess the point I was trying to make is that a handful of workers or consumers suffering injury or death, slow and agonizing as it may be, is a small price to pay for the individual liberty that only unbridled free-market capitalism can provide us with.

    at any rate, if these precious workers were so valuable to society, they would have raised the venture capital to start their own companies. they should be grateful that their employers provided them with support at all – do they think the world owes them a living?

    in fact, the unions unrelenting campaign to make their members work ever less productive and ever more expensive just provides a social disincentive against free enterprise and thereby reduces overall economic welfare.

    as for who will look out for the rest of us – well, I think that a cursory glance at history should answer your question. Every single improvement in wages and conditions in the workplace has been a result of the natural benevolence of shareholders and management satisfied with profits unrestrained by Nanny State interference or industrial blackmail carried out by the mafias known as ‘unions’.

  43. melanie
    October 19th, 2007 at 21:39 | #43

    “they should be grateful that their employers provided them with support at all”

    I think you’re pulling my leg 😉

    I think it would be a great idea for the private sector to survive without any employees. They’d obviously do really well.

  44. melanie
    October 19th, 2007 at 21:45 | #44

    Mugwump, You’re right of course. Now I’m worried about why I’ve never had even a single notice of AGM from my super fund, let alone from the firms that it invests in.

  45. Razor
    October 19th, 2007 at 22:31 | #45

    melanie – your super fund is a Trust, not a company. No AGMs for beneficiaries – the Trustees know best!

  46. mugwump
    October 19th, 2007 at 22:40 | #46

    Razor, ever heard of super choice? A liberal govt initiative. No-one is forcing you to stick with the same fund.

    What is wrong with you people? Is helplessness a hereditary trait or is it learned?

    OT, if you haven’t yet seen it, some light relief

  47. observa
    October 19th, 2007 at 23:36 | #47

    snuh, spare me the justification for the union lynch mob with JH. There was no overarching principle involved, or any real justice in that piece of visceral emotional knees up for the usual suspects. They just mugged (lynched?) a handy, ready cash cow, because it was administratively impossible to go after all the consumers who had absconded with the cheap private cost, while the the true social costs were borne later, while the hypocrites turned a blind eye to the deposits of millions of brake shoes being poured into the environment for another couple of decades after Hardies desisted. Hardies were in exactly the same epidemiological boat as the fossil fuel industries are today. Let me put it to you this way snuh. When should the fossil fuel industry turn out the lights and all go home? Should they have done it immediately the IPCC and Stern Report came down, or after watching An Inconvenient Truth? Everybody out, right down to the last part timer uni student manning the till at the local servo eh? I’ll leave you to ponder that while you cycle or walk to work, if the boss still has any. Perhaps JQ can help you out with the answer. He’s an intelligent sensitive fellow by all accounts. Economist too.

  48. observa
    October 20th, 2007 at 00:34 | #48

    snuh is the kind of fellow who buys a badge and a green bag from the ‘Ban the Bag’ demonstrators at Woollies and quickly stuffs the couple of packets of bin-liners and the roll of Gladwrap his missus sent him for into same and proudly rushes home to tell her what a tremendous emotional experience it’s all been, with people making a difference.

  49. observa
    October 20th, 2007 at 00:44 | #49

    Only to find he forgot the toilet paper and he’s in the proverbial…

  50. Jill Rush
    October 20th, 2007 at 01:25 | #50

    Observa – I think you have breached the rules of postings making such a personal attack on snuh.

    The reason that the union went to the company for compensation was because they put a product out into the marketplace knowing that it was unsafe. The consumers didn’t have that level of knowledge.

    Unions have provided good leaders for this country and have provided a balance to employers who otherwise may have forgatten that workers need to eat and have shelter and rest.

    The demonisation of unionists overlooks that fact that whilst the Exclusive Brethren is 13,000 people unionists make up 2000,000. Many of these unionists voted Liberal in the past – but after Workchoices, which the union has explained to people, these workers have been lost to Howard. Interesting that the government can spend over a hundred million dollars and people still know that the legislation isn’t any good.

  51. observa
    October 20th, 2007 at 10:37 | #51

    “I think you have breached the rules of postings making such a personal attack on snuh.”
    Yeah I was having one of my acid Tim Blair moments. Apologies snuh. We’re all guilty of overreacting to symptoms which push our buttons from time to time, when there’s a larger issue bubbling along under the surface unaddressed.
    In that regard JH execs squibbed the opportunity to stand up for the overarching principle that we as a society shouldn’t be hypocritical about the problems of epidemiological risk, as distinct from taking known engineering or technical risk. They didn’t and as far as I’m concerned got everything they deserved.

    By the time it came to pay the piper with asbestos(the true social cost), the JH entity was no longer the appropriate vehicle to go after. Real culprits had either been planted, or going after the occupants of nursing homes, would not have been a good look and besides, most of the private consumers had long absconded with the cheap private costs of asbestos products. JH execs could have easily rustled up the facts on employees service and shareholder longevity to amply demonstrate that fact and then asked- what about asbestos brake linings for the last couple of decades you lot?

    We can see the hypocrisy and smug 20/20 hindsight of what was really a witch hunt, in the same epidemiological dilemma of GW right now. That’s why we all need to be clear about a sound overarching constitutional rule here. Until such time as wea as a society, democratically decide to proscribe, or ban an activity or product, there should be no retrospective liability for those who seel, deal or use same.

  52. melanie
    October 20th, 2007 at 11:12 | #52

    Observa, you’re grabbing at straws. There are plenty of legal precedents for retrospective damages in cases where people knowingly sold something that caused damage to others, even if the nature of the product was not widely known at the time.

  53. observa
    October 20th, 2007 at 14:51 | #53

    There are legal precedents for hanging, drawing and quartering too Melanie but…? If you firmly believe I’m grabbing at straws, please feel free to answer my question re GW. When should the fossil fuel industry turn out the lights? Already?I put it to you that they(really we as consumers and voters)should continue doing exactly what they are doing until such time as we legislate otherwise and noone should be retrospectively sued for current business as usual. Anything else is lunacy.

  54. observa
    October 20th, 2007 at 15:00 | #54

    Basically if you put Al Gore fans in the position of past Hardies execs, workers and consumers and put the word on them about their current behaviour, there is stony silence. Ipso facto you’re as guilty as they were eh? When and where can your children begin to sue for damages, with your own lofty, legal precedents in mind? Lunacy.

  55. snuh
    October 21st, 2007 at 13:04 | #55

    We can see the hypocrisy and smug 20/20 hindsight of what was really a witch hunt…

    whatever observa. i’ve already said the thing i thought most offensive about james hardie’s conduct was that they’ve actually known since 1950 that the product they sold was lethal. hence no issue of the benefit of “hindsight” is raised.

    fwiw, i detest militant anti-plastic baggers, but try to avoid their use myself.

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