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Monday Message Board

July 8th, 2013

It’s time for another Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topic. As usual, civilised discussion and no coarse language. Lengthy side discussions to the sandpits, please.

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  1. kevin1
    July 8th, 2013 at 21:40 | #1

    Good to see Paul Barry back in the chair at Media Watch tonight, starting with a full frontal attack on Murdoch’s lying. Different to the previous guy’s approach of media “bloopers” and exposing pygmies for being…..well, pygmies. Who would have thunk it?

    A nice illustration of the two variants of media critique: exposing personal deficits, or going to the root of the problem (a euphemism for “radical”). Which one promotes social improvement?

  2. kevin1
    July 8th, 2013 at 21:56 | #2

    How about some perspectives on Albo? Rudd is said to be a dag, but he is one who tries to project a personal style; Albo is back to the 1950’s. Think Eddie Ward, Calwell, Fred Daly (hmm, all of the left like him). No style at all, just pure substance. And enormous internal party respect for it. What does that say?

    I recall someone saying “It’s better to have character, than to be a character.” The fake value system of contemporary bourgeois society takes the opposite view.

  3. Jim Rose
    July 8th, 2013 at 22:02 | #3

    the Rudd of old is back: reform NSW labor in 30 days, reform federal labor in 14 days within an elected leader.

    announcements left, right and centre, but kevin747b is yet to state his vision.

  4. July 8th, 2013 at 22:44 | #4

    Rudd has announced plans to make new rules on how Labor changes leaders. The scary bit is that an incumbent leader can only be replaced if 75% of federal ALP members are against them, *and* they have brought the party into disrepute.

    Rudd is making sure that a successful leader can’t be chucked out. And I’m pretty sure he’s thinking of himself. And his timing is perfect – propose the change at a time when the party is under pressure to present a unified front, and members will feel that as good team players they can’t speak openly about the measure.

    That would be good politics if it was for the good of the country. But it seems purely selfish to me.

    Anyone have a more generous way of looking at this?

  5. TerjeP
    July 8th, 2013 at 23:28 | #5

    Interesting to ponder how a political party would function if 74% of the MP’s hated the leader. I suppose they could always go on strike.

    That said I’m almost tempted to like the reform as an overall package.

  6. Alan
    July 8th, 2013 at 23:33 | #6

    It’s pretty standard for democratic parties to elect their leaders democratically. As far as I know the major parties in Australia and New Zealand are the only examples where the leader is elected exclusively by caucus. Canadian parties hold a ballot of all party members. The UK labour party has a 3-way electoral college of MPs, unions, and branches. Equally, ours are the only parties where the leader can be sacked by a simple majority of caucus. In the UK it takes a vote of the full national conference to remove a sitting prime minister.

    I don’t see these reforms as scary at all. They make the party the property of its members and supporters, not the princelings of the factions. That strikes me as a very good thing.

  7. July 8th, 2013 at 23:36 | #7

    @John Brookes

    I’ll have a try, if I may (as a non-partisan).

    “We”, the Australian electorate, were mighty peeved that the faceless pie-faces secretly decided to ditch the PM. The ostensible reason – poor polling – was so obviously false (especially in light of worse polling and no similar action from the same pie-faces) that “we” got very peeved, again, when the same rules were not applied. “We” were also very peeved that the ALP ‘lurched to the right on refugees’ and other issues.

    Don’t be confused (assuming you are an ALP fan/member/voter) that “we” like Rudd. We don’t.

    But we know what we hate and can’t abide.

    If Rudd uses this position to try to make sure that the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd circus doesn’t happen again I doubt you’ll find too many non-partisan Australians getting upset about it.

    “We” prefer to sack our PMs ourselves, thank you.

  8. Alan
    July 8th, 2013 at 23:44 | #8

    Overeager to hit the button. I would hope the Rudd reforms include reasonable notice of a challenge. Since 2010 we have repeatedly seen challenges called on ludicrously short notice, twice only a few hours, and that cannot make for good decisions.

  9. July 9th, 2013 at 00:48 | #9

    OK, maybe I’m too suspicious, but if the majority of MP’s don’t want the current leader, then I can’t see why he/she can’t be sacked. And even though I’m a Labor voter, Rudd scares me.

  10. Alan
    July 9th, 2013 at 02:34 | #10

    The very good reason why a simple majority of MPs should not be able to sack the leader is that caucus allowed itself to be panicked into the 2010 disaster and then took 3 years to undo its mistake. You should also remember that the Australian Democrats managed to destroy themselves by their caucus trying to undo the party ballot for leader. The British Labour Party has never removed a leader. The Australian Labour Party has removed three prime ministers since 1990 and frankly I lost count of the number of opposition leaders during the Howard years.

  11. Ikonoclast
    July 9th, 2013 at 07:13 | #11

    Parliamentary democracy and party democracy are not enough. Until workplaces are democratised we will not have true democracy. Workplaces must be run by the workers. Management and reward for effort must both be democratised. The separate managerial and profit-taking classes need to be abolished as classes and rehabilitated as democratic, working people.

  12. Alan
    July 9th, 2013 at 10:01 | #12

    @Ikonoclast

    I agree on industrial democracy and while I support the Rudd reforms I do not think they go far enough on party democracy.

    I’d support amending the Australian constitution (which I accept is not about to happen) so that leaders be elected by a ballot of all party members, that candidates be pre-selected by a ballot of all party members in the relevant electorate, and that conferences be elected in the same way. I’d treat individual union members as party members in these elections.

  13. pablo
    July 9th, 2013 at 10:34 | #13

    I just wish there was a bit of Rex Connor about Albo. You can’t imagine big Rex sitting on a Very Fast Train proposal for serious infrastructure for too long. He’d have at least explored a bit of OPEC loan funding to pay for it…without telling anyone of course. @kevin1

  14. phoenix
    July 9th, 2013 at 12:40 | #14

    It looks like KRudd could be around for a lot longer than many people think, as the latest News poll shows his popularity as preferred PM is streaking away from RAbbotts. Also the two party prefered is now 50/50.

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/polling

  15. TerjeP
    July 9th, 2013 at 13:41 | #15

    You should also remember that the Australian Democrats managed to destroy themselves by their caucus trying to undo the party ballot for leader.

    Maybe that’s how the ALP will one day end itself.

  16. July 9th, 2013 at 15:59 | #16

    http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-scotus-employees-20130706,0,2060456.story

    Courtesy to Corey Robin and Crooked Timber. I hope we can stop following US’ trail before cases like these happen here.

  17. Jim Rose
    July 9th, 2013 at 17:11 | #17

    Are the unions cut out of the vote?

    branch stacking will take on a whole new meaning.

    British labor already has had problems with unpopular leaders such as Brown towards the end who would not stand down on the eve an election he could not win.

    opposition parties go through several leaders in their first two terms out of office.

    The principle of member participation is sound but how to do it is a struggle.

    NZ labor has moved to an UK style electoral college

  18. Mel
    July 13th, 2013 at 14:55 | #18

    Apparently Rudd wants to increase coal seam gas production. I haven’t paid any attention so far to the CSG debate. Is CSG OK or not? How does it compare to the alternative energy sources re GHG emissions?

    Anyone know?

  19. July 13th, 2013 at 18:18 | #19

    @Mel

    Fracking is mostly bad (eg: see “Gasland”) it uses huge amounts of water (in our case from ancient and vital aquifers) it injects and withdraws harmful chemicals (roughly grouped as BTEX) vast amounts of wastewater containing lots of salts have to be disposed of as a byproduct and it causes earthquakes.

    Burning CSG produces about half the GHG of burning coal. Fugitive emissions from the mining and handling processes can make it ultimately as GHG as coal. Another GHG issue is that it simply adds to rather than replaces coal.

    Economically it is a scam. The depletion rates are ridiculously high, something like 80% after the first year for each well – so enormous numbers of wells will produce a large volume for a short time and lower and lower volumes each year. They call it the “Red Queen” effect, running faster and faster just to stay in the same place.

    Another thing to keep an eye on is alleged royalties. In Qld the producer gets to write off all costs up to (from memory) the port and even then royalties are rigged against the State (I’d have to look up the details but you can find it in the Act).

  20. Hermit
    July 13th, 2013 at 23:22 | #20

    The more things change the more they stay the same. Rudd wants to axe the giveaway riddled $24 carbon price for something in the $6-$10 range that almost certainly has much bigger giveaways. Echoes of CPRS one day nothing the next.

    Subcritical black coal generation creates about a tonne of CO2 per megawatt hour of electricity. Combined cycle gas can get down to 0.42 tonnes for that Mwh. Some say if the gas source like coal seam is leaky the advantage is erased due to unburnt methane’s 25X warming effect over CO2. If gas saves 50% of CO2 over coal burning but is associated with 2% leakage then 50% + (25 X 2%) gets us back to line ball.

    I think a massive blunder has been created by thinking Gladstone could eventually support four LNG plants (using conventional natgas and CSG) and exports to rival Qatar. We won’t have enough for ourselves within a decade. The new low-or-no carbon price puts coal well back in the hunt.

  21. Fran Barlow
    July 14th, 2013 at 08:37 | #21

    Shortly after the Sandy Hook massacre I began posting data in various places about gun deaths in America. Slate.com’s Chris Kirk and Dan Kois have been running an excellent crowd-sourced site accounting for reported gun deaths in the USA. As they point out, “the answer to the simple question” {how many gun deaths have there been in America since Sandy Hook on 14/12/12) “is surprisingly hard to come by”. Suicides, which account for about 60% of gun deaths, commonly go unreported.

    With that caveat in mind, it turns out that at least 6106 people have died from firearms since Sandy Hook, a daily average of more than 33. That substantially exceeds the number killed at Sandy Hook on that dreadful day.

    Kirk & Kois say that CDC figures suggest that more than 18,000 people have dies by firearm discharge since that day — just under 100 per day.

    Of the Slate figures, 306 were teens, and 119 were pre-teen children.

    The overwhelming majority of deaths (about 80%) were males.

    I submit that no terrorist can get within cooee of this sort of carnage on a daily basis, and yet, the US right stands defiant in its determination that the system settings permitting this slaughter should be left in place. It really does show how low in priority the safety of their own citizens stands for them — and contrary to their bleating, why “national security” really is a thin veil for manipulating and controlling the population in the service of the elite.

    Between the “war on terror” and the “war on drugs” the US government is surely the most clear and present danger to the safety of the American public as a whole. Here is a regime that murders people abroad with drones, abuses those who reveal its duplicity, spies on its own populace without good cause and whose most “patriotic” say that the population ought to have so little trust in each other that staying armed to the teeth with lethal weapons and turning your police into paramilitaries is the best way to remain free, even if it gets you the equivalent of a near record spree killing per day and then some.

    It’s shameful, really.

  22. kevin1
    July 14th, 2013 at 09:02 | #22

    @Fran Barlow
    I agree, but this and their external militarism, gives a salutary lesson to the rest of the world that the US is not divinely inspired to lead, and is a deeply flawed country. They contribute by negative example to the reaction against their ideology.

    Sad that their people who reject all this are afflicted by their country choosing to foul its own nest. I suppose it’s more politically polarised than ever, but it’d be interesting to know the net effect in the US of globalism in increasing awareness (ie. is there a higher incidence of rational and humanistic thinking.) I suspect the Pew polling people have done something on this, but I don’t know what it says.

  23. Fran Barlow
    July 14th, 2013 at 09:26 | #23

    @Hermit

    At the very least, if PMKR is to move rapidly to the floating price he should

    a) cease granting all free permits
    b) remove all fossil fuel rebates and subsidies
    c) abandon all support for CC&S
    d) begin making fossil hydrocarbon fuel and heat inputs to business processes non-deductible with a view to phasing these out entirely by 2020
    e) set a cap of not less than 20% below 1990 by 2020 in issuing permits

  24. Mel
    July 14th, 2013 at 10:07 | #24

    Thanks, Megan.

  25. Jim Rose
  26. Hermit
    July 14th, 2013 at 15:48 | #26

    @Fran Barlow
    More or less agree. It’s a bit hard for a brickworks or bakery to replace gas which should be a legit business expense. As to the cap reduction I suggest 1.6% pa consistent with the avowed 80% cuts years 2000-2050 so the 2020 cap works out at 32% below 2000 emissions.

    This issue needs a separate thread as there are many facets to it.

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