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Monday Message Board

April 6th, 2009

Its time once again for Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topic. As usual, civilised discussion and no coarse language.

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  1. Michael of Summer Hill
    April 6th, 2009 at 18:35 | #1

    John, today the United Nations Human Rights Committee handed down a report finding Australia not complying with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and asks that the Federal Government redesign its ‘discriminatory’ intervention into Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory so that it complies with the ICCPR and the Racial Discrimination Act.

  2. April 6th, 2009 at 20:43 | #2

    The United Nations Human Rights Committee needs to have a serious look at itself.

  3. Smiley
    April 6th, 2009 at 21:34 | #3

    A “systemic ponzi scheme” is how Bill Moyers paraphrases a guy who should know in this interview. I really don’t know why a lot more people aren’t angry. I think that this comment sums up the situation pretty well.

  4. Ikonoclast
    April 6th, 2009 at 22:02 | #4

    “The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is a United Nations treaty based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, created in 1966 and entered into force on 23 March 1976. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights has been signed by 174 states. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is monitored by the Human Rights Committee.. ” From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

    The Human Rights Committe made a report on the actions of a signatory to the treaty. Australia is a signatory to the treaty, albeit with some declared reservations.

    For Steve at the Pub. In what sense should the United Nations Human Rights Committee have a serious look at itself? Should it not monitor the treaty? Should it not criticise Australia if it judges Australia is in breach as a signatory despite Australia’s having declared reservations on certain articles?

    Or should the United Nations Human Rights Committee have a serious look at itself because it does not agree with the opinions of Steve at the Pub?

  5. April 6th, 2009 at 22:40 | #5

    I don’t see these two things as mutually exclusive. The federal Government should redesign its ‘discriminatory’ intervention into Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory and the United Nations Human Rights Committee should have a serious look at itself.

  6. Ikonoclast
    April 7th, 2009 at 09:05 | #6

    SATP’s criticism of the UN Human Rights Committee is without apparent reason, cause, or justification; a gratuitous attack in other words. The colloquial phrasing “should have a serious look at itself” is the classic cheap shot of a person making an attack on another person or body without making the least effort to provide cogent reasons for the criticism. TerjeP’s support for SATP is of a piece.

    With respect to criticisms of attempts to develop an international human rights framework, the real impetus for such criticism is usually the desire to arrogate special rights to oneself; the chief of these ‘rights’ these being the right to oppress and rob other peoples at will for the purposes of self-enrichment. It’s a trait very common among neoliberals and capitalist libertarians.

  7. April 7th, 2009 at 10:21 | #7


    Your long-winded argument in the forum “Mont Pelerin in Iceland” has failed to answer my question in spite of your having taken over six months to provide that response. My question was:

    “… could you please provide us with a list of what you consider to be ‘free market’ successes of recent decades.”

    So, can I take it that you mean to include Australia in your list of neo-liberal ‘successes’?

    If so, I doubt if many would agree with you that the price we have paid, that is, having made our economy dependent on foreign investors and facing the buyout of our mineral resources by China(1), is a price worth that was worth paying for the having the cheaper phone calls, cheaper clothes, and cheaper imported electronic goods (supposedly due to operation of free market) and other trinkets.

    However, I still expected a somewhat longer list of countries in which the Friedmanite program of extensive privatisation, deregulation, reduction of taxes on the rich, and removal of legislative protections for workers has been applied and the economy has prospered as a result.

    If you can’t provide that list, then why won’t you admit that neo-liberal economics was never anyting more than a lie invented to dupe the public into allowing the wealthy corporate elites to enslave the rest of us?

    1. Also, I would be interested to know, whether or not you agree that the apparent necessity of Bowen residents to learn a foreign language in order to be able to obtain employment in a planned aluminium smelter to be operated by the Chinese is a symptom of colonisation? (See “Bowen a sure thing for Chalco” in the Townsville Bulletin of 26 June 2008):

    “… (Bowen) schools discussed the possibility of introducing the Chinese language into their curricula to expand job opportunities for students.”

    (See also “Stop the sell-off of Australia’s mineral wealth!” of 2 Apr 09.)

  8. smiths
    April 7th, 2009 at 10:27 | #8

    i agree ikono,

    if steve at the pub has any grounds for his coment he should state them, otherwise its very weak indeed

  9. Alice
    April 7th, 2009 at 11:15 | #9

    I agree. I think the intervention needs to have a look at itself. I cant think of a better intervention than closing the publicans down in some remote communities. They are profiting only from and poverty and welfare and misery and causing more of all three and this should have been done decades ago.

  10. Alice
    April 7th, 2009 at 11:28 | #10

    Actually I can think of a better intervention – its to do with the severe paucity of housing, health and education expenditure directed to indigenous communities in their communities, under JH over ten years. It urgently needs correcting along with increasing the number of helpers on the ground and avoiding the duplication of efforts by sending the army in and flying “specialist” up for weekends at great expense – a huge waste of resources that would have been better spent on the ground. I would place my trust in a nurse’s view who worked with aboriginal communities over many years against Coalition media spin.


  11. Kevin Cox
    April 7th, 2009 at 16:31 | #11

    The government can fund the broadband network and give the economy an immediate stimulus without going into debt.

    To do this the government issues every citizen in Australia with shares in the new Company with a face value of $2500. Anyone who wants the shares registers to obtain them. Many people will keep them and many people will sell them for whatever the market will pay them. Probably most will sell. This will create an immediate stimulus to the economy. The company will have a large amount of shares and when it needs some funds it will convert some of the shares to cash by asking the Reserve Bank to issue it with zero interest new money. This increases the money supply but only as assets are created to back the money. Because the money in the company will be spent on producing an earning asset this will not be inflationary. Thus the government can at one stroke solve the ownership problem of the new company, stimulate the economy, and solve the broadband infrastructure.

  12. Michael of Summer Hill
    April 7th, 2009 at 17:28 | #12

    John, last month the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s office says it received some 600 plus complaints in regards to the federal intervention and other Indigenous programs since opening the Northern Territory office just over a year ago. Who’s kidding who.

  13. Socrates
    April 7th, 2009 at 18:50 | #13


    They just said on Nine news that the broadband network would be partly funded by infrastrucutre bonds to be sold by government to individuals. Govt will then sell out its 51% share in the network five years later. Close to your suggestion – should work well for what will be as you say an obviously profitable assett.

  14. Ikonoclast
    April 7th, 2009 at 19:29 | #14

    It proves (once again) that when you need serious nation building infrastructure only the government can be depended on to organise it. The market is of little use in that regard.

  15. Alice
    April 7th, 2009 at 19:43 | #15

    I think they should keep their share longer. All they got from selling telstra – the logical builder if the government still owned it – was trouble.

  16. rog
    April 7th, 2009 at 20:07 | #16

    “I think they should keep their share longer”

    Who are “they” Alice?

    After bashing the market it will be interesting to see what price the market will pay Rudd for his project.

    When all the sums are done – the logical builder is still Telstra.

  17. James of FNQ
    April 7th, 2009 at 21:31 | #17

    The sell off of the nations telecommunications infrastructure by past governments has proved disastrous for most consumers on the fringes and outside capital cities. The competition to TELSTRA have proved themselves inadequate to provide the resources required for a country the size and demographic of Australia. Government should have stepped in long before now to restore some form of reasonable service to all australians not just those that provide the most profit. Many city dwellers suffer the same as those in rural areas from abysmal communications and service from the cretins we have providing this essential service for a modern society.

  18. Alice
    April 7th, 2009 at 21:48 | #18

    Im pretty disgusted at the liberals for opposing the plan for the government to issue bonds to build the telecommunications infrastructure, on the basis they “dont like legislation.” The Coalition dont actually have a plan to do anything. They have no plans for any intervention in the market (no plans to act when necessary) and Telstra’s arrogance since it was privatised showed it had no inclination or desire to participate or co-operate with allowing competition on the lines (so much for the full privatisation of Telstra). Telstra should be the logical builder but Sol Trujillo wouldnt play ball and the government had no control, and Sol left taking his absurd salary with him after a mere few years and an insult / joke of a tender. The coalition obviously expects the telecommunications infrastructure roll out to fall out of the sky like they expect all other infrastructure needs to fall from the sky while they advocate nothing at all (no intervention, no separation of the retail and wholesale arms of Telstra, no planning whatsoever).

    In fact what do they suggest they would actually do as a government? Nothing except oppose everything a responsible government should do in these dreadful economic circumstances. The Coalition is hopelessly lost in their market fundamentalism.

    After this I expect Malcolm Turbulls rating to sink even lower and Rudds to go even higher (if that is at all possible). The Coalition refuse to listen to what the electorate wants and only want to listen to the hard heads in their own ranks.

  19. observa
    April 7th, 2009 at 22:45 | #19

    If you can restate this point without snark, please do so

  20. observa
    April 7th, 2009 at 23:13 | #20

    If you can restate this point without snark, please do so

  21. April 8th, 2009 at 01:19 | #21

    James of FNQ,

    I agree. The disaster of privatisation was anticipated in almost every regard except for profitability.

    It is quite chilling to contemplate that if Trujillo hadn’t so miserably served Telstra’s own shareholders as well as its customers, its workforce and the Australian taxpayer, he just might have been judged a success as the success of privatisation was being judged by the newsmedia on Telstra’s share price almost ot the exlusion of all other considerations.

    For my part I did what I could to stop privatisation. See, for example, “Community group calls for boycott of T3 and judicial inquiry into Telstra mismanagement” of 4 October 2006.

    Also I stood as an independent candidate in the recent Queensland elections to raise the issue of privatisation.

    The Queensland ‘Labor’ Government has a particularly bad record of any state of selling off the family to balance its budget.

    Perhaps this sudden and welcome turnaround by the Federal Government may spur the Queensland Government to desist with privatisation.

  22. Kevin Cox
    April 8th, 2009 at 02:49 | #22

    13 Socrates
    The main problem with the financial system is the way we increase the money supply. By doing it the way I suggest this will increase the money supply without creating a loan. Please read http://stableproductivemoney.wordpress.com/2009/04/03/increasing-the-money-supply-without-loans/ This will help ease the credit crisis and is a much better way of stimulating the economy than handing out cheques to be spent on consumption goods.

    By selling bonds it will mean that the broadband company will have to pay interest on the bonds and that means that users of the network will have to pay higher prices. The whole idea of the broadband network is to provide infrastructure at a reasonable price for all Australians and if you remove the capital cost then the last mile becomes very cheap. This means we can have broadband at very low prices which will increase productivity because the price of communications will drop.

    If the last mile is already in place, such as in Canberra with Transact, then those assets can be purchased from TransACT with shares in the new broadband company. Similarly Telstra in those places where fibre is to the home can be given shares of equivalent value. This would accelerate the introduction of broadband through existing Telstra infrastructure as they would soon put in the 30 meters of fibre from a box along my street to my home and increase my broadband speed by 100 times.

    As long as the company ONLY owns and builds infrastructure and does not get into selling what is sent along the wires then this will give us the worlds cheapest communications infrastructure with all the economic benefits that will come from low priced communications.

    Giving shares to both the general population and to those whose assets can be used as part of the network is the fairest way of dividing up the ownership of the new asset created by simply increasing the money supply.

  23. rog
    April 8th, 2009 at 08:01 | #23

    I think the correct phrase is increase my broadband speed by up to 100 times.

    Rudd has signaled private participation in the new NBN but after past PPP debacles, including ongoing sabre rattling with telstra over separation, it is doubtful that the private sector will relish any chance to invest with the Govt.

    This is really a terrible mess and it is all due to decades of political mismanagement.

  24. PB
    April 8th, 2009 at 08:39 | #24

    rog says (#16) “When all the sums are done – the logical builder is still Telstra.”

    Not sure this is true rog. Telstra, like most telcos in Australia nowadays, are only network operators, not network builders. The technical expertise to evaluate network technologies and implement them has been lost over the past decade – largely handed over to their suppliers. If Telstra were handed the job of building this network, they would in turn hand it over to someone like Alcatel, Ericsson or Cisco.

    Telstra own the copper between premises and the exchange and were going to make damn sure that if they didn’t build a FttN network no one would. By setting up a new company that does not use Telstra’s copper, they are effectively shut out.

    Consequently, I was surprised to see Telstra’s share price go up after this announcement. I think when the market realises that Telstra now has nothing to offer in building this network – no technical expertise, no copper, and the same operational expertise as the other telcos – I think its price will take a dive.

    (But then what would I know? I’ve still got 400 TLS shares that I should have sold a decade ago…)

  25. PeterM
    April 8th, 2009 at 10:03 | #25

    PD # 24. I agree completely with you on Telstra capability to build out a new fibre network. Telstra has become a hollow shell. There are some people with real expertise who have managed to avoid the head cutters by hiding in the organisation but one the whole they are basically completely captive of a small set of multinational suppliers with close links to the senior executive cadre.

    However, they do have ownership of set of well-engineered ducts and conduits in urban areas that will be expensive for the new corporation to replicate. I suspect they will need to do a deal with Telstra for the use of this infrastructure. (I believe it was Telstra’s reluctance to reveal details of this infrastructure that was one of the reasons for the delay in the production of the Network to the Node request for tender.) Maybe this is the reason for the Telstra price rise.

  26. PB
    April 8th, 2009 at 12:33 | #26

    Peter M said (#25) “However, they do have ownership of set of well-engineered ducts and conduits in urban areas that will be expensive for the new corporation to replicate.”

    I wondered about the ducting. I thought there was some caveat on it allowing its use by other organisations. But you may be right. Nevertheless, if the only leverage they have is some keys to some tunnels, it’s a bit of come-down.

  27. observa
    April 8th, 2009 at 13:25 | #27

    OK I’ll be good with the snark, albeit I notice it elicited an immediate post in defense of the Rudd Govt’s first big foray into the new ‘social democracy’ John. I’m skeptical of that and believe it’s simply middle class pork dressed up as imperative national infrastructure.

    That said we need to go back over some recent history here to discern the facts of the matter. Essentially the Howard Govt believed telecommunications technology was moving too fast to be left to public servants to protect taxpayer interests and hence privatisation. In particular here, recall the coming of wireless(3G and soon 4G) and pilot testing like Misubishi Electric with 500 households in Hobart using the existing electricity grid (whatever happened to that?)Labor who had privatised Qantas and the Comm Bank in Govt, were clearly outraged by such a move and played spoiler, in much the same way as it did in SA with electricity privatisation, when with the Keating Competition reform gun to its head, the Olsen Govt at the time(also facing Labor’s State Bank fiscal nightmare), mooted privatisation. In SA’s case they split the poles and wires delivery from the power generation, but facing concerted spoiling action and criticism, artificially inflated the poles and wires side of the equation(some estimates put that at 3.5 times true worth), in order to deflect that criticism. As there’s no such thing as a free lunch, that would have ramifications for any new add-ons to the grid at true marginal cost, like my mate recently paying $17,500 to put power on to a 3 unit development(street needs a transformer upgrade). Since power privatisation cost the Olsen Govt the next election, no doubt Howard had learned the lesson and privatised Telstra lock stock and barrel. Naturally Federal Labor had its chance to split wholesale delivery infrastructure from the retail service, in a bipartisan way but you know how it is and here we all are. Actually, here’s a Federal Labor Govt with the rod of their own making, who can’t get over the obvious, that Telstra is no longer its political plaything to cross-subsidise the bush. Well, not without pushing Telstra shareholders around by legislative fiat, a course that will have serious ramifications for any overtures to private investors in future.

    With that background in mind, Labor’s election promise of $4.7 bill subsidy for a private FTTN tenderer for 98% of the population, was always flogging a dead parrot as Alan Kohler succinctly put it and the GFC would simply put a few more nails in its feet for good measure. When the three amigos stated the obvious from Telstra’s point of view, Labor was between a rock and a hard place, with Conroy still talking up the parrot to the other prospective carriers. They did the dutiful thing and listened attentively and then told him what the three amigos said. Hence the massive backflip, $43 mill in taxpayer dough and only 90% coverage now. Already Govt ministers are ducking and weaving on how much taxpayers can expect private investment to take on some of that massive risk.

    So where are the punters at right now? Well basically they want the same superfast broadband they get at work, for the kids at home on Myspace and Youtube, etc and preferably for the same price they get at work. All the carriers know that they’re only prepared to pay ADSL prices at home and that’s what they lagely get. That’s why no other carrier/consortium was prepared to punt on their own fibre network, preferring to piggyback off Telstra’s inherited copper. With a new Labor Govt offering some taxpayer billions they pricked up their ears before working it was dead parrot sales pitch, particularly as Telstra was off planning to pick the eyes out of SE Oz with a 100MB/sec hybrid add-on to their Foxtel network.

    Welcome to Labor’s problem now. Basically it made a promise it couldn’t keep due to past politicking and refusal to face economic realities. Hence the shiny new parrot or breathtaking, bold infrastructure for the future. Which is it? Well they can ignore markets but not the marketplace. They have unlimited access to future taxpayer liability but still there’s that pesky marketplace. Firstly the marketplace is opting more and more for wireless internet and a mobile phone like my son. How good will 4G, 5, 6..etc be over the next decade or so of their rollout? Hmmm… Then there’s Telstra off picking the eyes out of the most profitable, high end, metro market in SE Oz. That presents an immediate problem for mandated FTTH. If they start from the extremities and work in that will leave the ADSL network intact to compete for the low end users, but that will starve profitability for the first few years and be unattractive to investors and invoke political criticism. OTOH to start at the metro end will smash existing ADSL investment, with competition ramifications and even if they do, Telstra will be competing hard in that fibre market to prevent any fat for cross-subsidising the bush. You can ignore markets but you can’t ignore the marketplace but they can belt Telstra shareholders to change that marketplace. That’s what real investment dough is watching very carefully right now, in conjunction with past salutary lessons like Brisconnect, the Sydney Tunnel and the like. Your move social democrats they’re saying.

  28. Oldskeptic
    April 8th, 2009 at 18:58 | #28

    Changing topics entirely .. and it is Wednesday. But anyone following Defence proposed purchases recently, especially RAAF ones?

    F-35, the great white hope, is starting to look like the Dreamliner (Boeing 787). A debacle that makes the old F-111 one look like a happy fairy story.

    And how many billions are we supposed to pony up for something that is starting to look like a WW2 Spitfire could take out.

    Now here is an area where the neo-liberals anti-Govt spending rhetoric could be right, defence. “Never is the History of Mankind, has so much money been wasted, by so many people, for so little impact”. Whoops forgot, NL’s love armament spending, the only socialism they really love.

  29. Alice
    April 8th, 2009 at 20:17 | #29

    28# Oldskeptic

    Last time I heard, the grossly inflated purchases made on the grossly inflated defence budget were all on US equipment (hardware) and hardly any on labour. Doesnt that make us in debt to the US for years….?? (probably under the Free Trade Agreement as well).

    Im sorry to appear snarky ( I reaaly cant jhelp it….Ive had years of feeling uncomfortable over the direction we were travelling) but JHs political ideologys glowed like beacon in a stormy night. Unfortunately the beacon wasnt pointing out to sea.

    Unfortunately also, I dont think we even got first rate equipment…that we will be paying off for years.

  30. Alice
    April 8th, 2009 at 20:19 | #30

    excuse spelling…tragic

  31. Alice
    April 8th, 2009 at 20:56 | #31

    27# Observa

    If the market wont deliver the telecommunications technology we need for the 21st century, then its a market failure and like the 1800s the government builds the communications network and we pay for it with our taxes…..no big deal (providing all are paying their fair share of taxes).

    I dont know why people even think with a population under 25 mill that a private provider is going to want to roll out infrastructure across this wide brown land…. (very wide).

    We in Australia always needed the government more than bigger populations with lesser transport and distance issues (and a larger naturally occurring consumer base).

    A social democracy is our (Australia’s) naturally most effective method of management in terms of economic growth and employment.

    We could wait forever otherwise…and the public debt will add anet benefit to growth.

    We have been too long trying to fit models made for different markets, to our economy, with its different characteristics, like a sqaure peg in a round hole.

  32. observa
    April 8th, 2009 at 23:05 | #32

    All I can say Alice is unlimited wants and limited means and on the latter point I note a report today Melb and Adelaide now have about one year’s supply of drinking water in the MDB. Perhaps you can think of a few more limited means that need delimiting with $43 bill worth of taxpayer resources. Struggletown, who can’t even afford ADSL at present, could too no doubt. However, if subsidised, superfast broadband is the only game in town for clawing back my taxes, then I’ll gladly join in the gaming. I’m ultimately a realist not a martyr for lost causes.

  33. April 9th, 2009 at 12:57 | #33

    test 2

  34. Donald Oats
    April 15th, 2009 at 16:24 | #34

    Living near Adelaide, all I can say is that historically, we have always had drinking water as long as I can remember. Ergo, we will have enough drinking water in the future too. Until we don’t. Then we blame all those greedy upstream states for pilfering our SA water. Damn cheek. Then again, it could be due to the drought (don’t call it Global Warming or Climate Change, whatever you do – a decade long drought is just a drought, get’em all the time, all of the time).
    In the meanwhile, we’ll keep on flushing our toilets with drinkable water…what a laff, arf, arf!

    What a historian in 2100 will make of this century, I don’t think we’ll come out of it smelling of roses.

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