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Monday Message Board

July 22nd, 2014

It’s time for another Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.

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  1. James
    July 22nd, 2014 at 18:55 | #1

    While the world has change immensely since the writing of the Australian constitution, the foresight shown by the framers has proven to be remarkably durable. However, one glaring omission is that our forefathers did not foresee a country so wealthy that the government itself could be captured by the holders of that wealth.

    I therefore propose, in the spirit of new management practice, that a single KPI be added to our constitution for our parliamentary representatives. Since we are a Commonwealth, that KPI should reflect the desire that our federal parliament rule for all in sharing that common wealth, without restricting in any way the means of acquiring such result.

    My modest proposal is that if the 5 year moving average of the Gini coefficient deteriorates over the life of a parliament that 20% of all sittings members, by party affiliation list, retire from their seats in the forth-coming election.

    A few points to note. Firstly, limiting terms is not new to democracies in general. An example would be the term limit on presidents around the globe, including our neighbour Indonesia and our ally the US. Secondly, the mechanism for determining the Gini coefficient would be independent. This is also not a new concept to our democracy, as in the independent determination of the interest rate by the Reserve Bank.

    While this may sound very Picketty, as opposed to his solution of some form of ‘wealth tax’ this proposal would not in any way prescribe to the parliament how the result should be achieved. It would merely require that whether wealth is increasing or declining, that the distribution of that wealth should be mirrored by the wellbeing of all who reside in the Commonwealth of Australia.

  2. Watkin Tench
    July 22nd, 2014 at 19:02 | #2

    Earthy walking class women rock. I think I’m in love with Jacqui Lambie.

  3. Watkin Tench
    July 22nd, 2014 at 19:05 | #3

    Working class I mean, not that I have anything against walkers either.

  4. July 22nd, 2014 at 21:58 | #4

    Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed the Coalition seem to be going full retard political on the MH17 thing?

    Exhibit A
    Exhibit B
    Exhibit C

  5. July 23rd, 2014 at 03:43 | #5

    Hello from British Columbia!

    Over here, LNG is all the rage. Nothing has gotten a final investment decision yet, but our provincial government is fully behind it, and has been manufacturing a wide array of dubious claims in support of an LNG export industry.

    I’m wondering if you know of any useful/critical resources about the Australian context of LNG development, particularly in regards to employment but public policy more broadly. Please email. Thanks!

  6. Julie Thomas
    July 23rd, 2014 at 07:00 | #6

    @Watkin Tench

    Oh yes Jaqui has so much more class than Sarah Palin.

    I’m expecting Planet Janet or Dame Slap, otherwise known as Janet Albrechtsen, to do an article on her and what a wonderful representative she is for the real women of Australia, just as she did for Sarah Palin a few years ago.

    This hilarious piece of foolishness and hero worship on Janet’s part can be found on the RN website. I also wonder when Janet will do an update and let us know how if she still admires the chutzpah of ignorant women.

  7. calyptorhynchus
    July 23rd, 2014 at 09:26 | #7

    Is it just me or has Joe Hockey completely disappeared from public view since the Budget cigars incident? I’m not complaining of course, just asking.

  8. July 23rd, 2014 at 11:00 | #8

    @Marc Lee
    Marc Lee, Canada is too late. Oh, I could be wrong about this. Demand for LNG could be higher than I expect. But with Australia’s new LNG export capacity about to come online soon, a lot of demand will be met. Japan is now installing a very large amount of solar capacity and each watt of PV represents LNG that won’t be burned. China is now installing solar PV for about $1 US a watt. And non-industrial natural gas use is being eliminated in Australia as it is more profitable to export it than to burn it and the same technologies that make it easy to replace gas use in Australia can also be used in its LNG export markets. I just installed solar on my parents’ roof for about $2 US a watt before subsidy and at that price solar will provide electrical energy at a lower cost than imported LNG anywhere in the world. The cost of solar continues to fall and can only be stopped by government fiat. Evil government fiat.

  9. sunshine
    July 23rd, 2014 at 16:32 | #9

    Conservative bread and butter when in polling trouble is to look for a war to go to. If no actual boots on ground is available then rhetorical war will do. Abbott has said he wants to guard the site with our police ,or some ‘other kind of force’. I’m hearing ‘operation bring them home’ being said. Military people sent to oversee things . This disaster is a gift from heaven for the Government. Conservatives specialise in protecting us from external threats .They are reveling in it ,hardly able to contain their excitement.

    Plenty of confused rhetoric in the Murdoch press 1) OTT grieving juxtaposed with inappropriate ghoulish descriptions of the dead ,2) urging Aussies to realise we can be world leaders in this attack on the Kremlin juxtaposed with telling us we cant lead on climate action 3) OTT grieving juxtaposed with the usual complete lack of empathy for non-Australians. The big question in todays Herald Sun is ‘how can we begin to explain this to our children when they ask what is going on ?’. ie; us = innocent and naive ,them = savages beyond reason.

    I feel like a bit of an un-Australian heretic now, but this over blown massive outpouring of emotion seems also designed to show we Aussies arent really the callous types we are afraid we may be becoming. It all seems bigoted and inward looking .

  10. Ikonoclast
    July 23rd, 2014 at 17:10 | #10


    Agree with you sunshine. And in relation to just the Australian numbers, every one to two weeks we lose that many Australians to car accidents plus suicides. Where is all the conspicuous grieving and the flags at half mast for those people?

  11. July 23rd, 2014 at 20:21 | #11

    The other big juxtaposition at the moment is between the denouncment of reckless violence killing civilians in Ukraine while Israel is killing off Gaza’s civilians by the plane load.

    The conspiracy orientated parts of my mind are wondering if the comments from Abbott about getting an international force in there is more of an indirect message to Russia on behalf of the US/Europe for Russia to GTFO before the West comes in.

  12. July 23rd, 2014 at 20:25 | #12


    I suspect he is trying to keep his head down publically and within the party given how unpopular his ideas have proven to be.

  13. July 23rd, 2014 at 21:17 | #13

    In view of some recent comments we’ve had on this site, this gave me a laugh

    Ours is a complex field, and a growing number of economists are acknowledging that the theory sitting behind mainstream economics is mostly rubbish.

  14. July 23rd, 2014 at 21:19 | #14

    And the source of this – economists debunking all the key economic messages of the Abbott government

    Dear goddess, how long do we have to put up with this government?

  15. Watkin Tench
    July 23rd, 2014 at 22:14 | #15

    The Carbon Price law is based on the principles of mainstream environmental economics in regards to tradaeable pollution permits.

    If mainstream economics is bunk, then the permit system set up by the repealed carbon price legislation must also be bunk.

    This really is elementary logic and reasoning.

    Someone will not be getting a cookie today.

  16. rog
    July 23rd, 2014 at 22:54 | #16

    According to this report a deal was made between Malaysia and the separatists over MH17 and the deal had absolutely nothing to do with Abbott and/or J Bishop.


  17. calyptorhynchus
    July 24th, 2014 at 08:52 | #17

    Though I see he’s now popped upo again to spruik his biography. A biography, and he’s achieved what? That’s chutzpah.

  18. Ikonoclast
    July 24th, 2014 at 09:00 | #18


    Our system is expressly designed to give us no choice. Both major parties are pro-capitalist. They get donations from capitalists and do what the capitalists ask them to do. They are completely captured by capital. In any case, ask yourself if the USA would ever permit a genuinely left-wing government in Australia.

  19. sunshine
    July 24th, 2014 at 09:32 | #19

    Julie Bishop said today that ,although they did not know who was in each coffin as it arrived, each was being received ‘as if it contained an Australian’ .I dont think the spectacular nature of the crash alone accounts for the magnitude of the public/media/government grief/outrage reaction. It look like, 1)we are doing some of the heavy hitting for NATO ,2)Conservatives are scoring political points, 3)OTT caring for our own =flip-side of bigotry and racism.

    Iko -related to a comment of yours from a while ago you will be interested to know that using gene science a link has been shown between the auto immune system and schizophrenia ,ie; that it may be an auto immune disease.

    Todays Age poll has the Greens at 16%.

  20. Paul Norton
    July 24th, 2014 at 15:03 | #20

    Sunshine @19, further to your first point, there was a piece by Paul Kelly in the Murdoch fishwrapper yesterday (which I accessed via my employer’s subscription). One of the points he made is that Australia, unlike most of the NATO members, is largely immune to potential retaliatory measures by Russia, and that this could be why Australia has been prominent in the international response.

  21. kevin1
    July 25th, 2014 at 13:02 | #21


    OTT grieving juxtaposed with the usual complete lack of empathy for non-Australians.

    Don’t worry, crass human foibles are ubiquitous. From the (respected) Guardian today in article about Air Algerie plane crash:

    Seven days ago Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 on board – including 193 Dutch citizens, 10 Britons, four Germans, four Belgians as well as dozens of Malaysians, Australians and Indonesians

  22. Andrew Strang
    July 25th, 2014 at 14:07 | #22

    Also regarding the MH17 tragedy, the image here about US concern is now circulating on Facebook –

  23. Andrew Strang
    July 25th, 2014 at 14:08 | #23

  24. Andrew Strang
    July 25th, 2014 at 14:13 | #24

    … sorry the link isn’t appearing but it refers to the downing of the Iran Air plane by the US in 1988 – see stopmakingsense.org

  25. Andrew Strang
  26. alfred venison
    July 25th, 2014 at 15:44 | #26

    i like that, Andrew Strang. the second line resonates with me today: “i don’t care what the facts are”. -a.v.

  27. ZM
    July 26th, 2014 at 20:17 | #27

    “most of all … Unlike humans [robots] don’t pretend they’re listening to you: they really do.”

    The Age subeditors these days apparently have a very odd understanding of the word ‘listen’

  28. Fran Barlow
    July 27th, 2014 at 00:08 | #28

    Dreadful if true:


    It is claimed that the US is pulling aid to El Salvador for refusal to accept Monsanto seeds.

  29. Megan
    July 27th, 2014 at 00:28 | #29

    The very best ‘evidence’ put forward so far by the US on MH17 is “some social media reports”.

    Search for “White House MH17 briefing” + “social media” and there is a video of the press conference at which the White House representative states that. She also mentions “common sense”.

    Meanwhile the Russians have at least put out some evidence including some that appears to show a Ukrainian fighter climbing toward MH17 just before the crash.

    The best we have so far from the US is: “Social Media said it”, “Putin is culpable”, “common sense” and variations of “trust us, we know”.

    WMD in wagons, anyone?

  30. J-D
    July 27th, 2014 at 08:38 | #30
  31. J-D
  32. Fran Barlow
    July 27th, 2014 at 09:07 | #32

    This link offers a further perspective on MH17 — told from the relatively unheard if perspective of those in the villages underneath the ‘fall out’ from this atrocity.


    Caution: this is not a read one should attempt prior to eating food, or by those wishing to think happy thoughts amid human loss.

  33. Megan
    July 27th, 2014 at 09:20 | #33

    What evidence?

    The best the first does is: “Mr. Foster said the two most likely causes were an engine explosion or an exploding missile.” (from looking at photos of a piece of damaged metal – then he suggests favouring the latter based on similarity in sizes of the holes in the metal). That is “evidence” of damage and doesn’t really take things any further.

    The second article, also based on the same photo has the first expert saying”This very much looks like damage from a fragmentation warhead.”

    Second expert, a PhD in war studies and an MA in history, says: “Those tiny fragmentations looks just like the surface-to-air SA-11 to me.”

    Third expert is partially quoted from another news paper: He ‘…said this was the kind of damage expected from “a high explosive fragmentation warhead”.’

    Fourth expert: “The size of the shrapnel holes is consistent with what one might expect to see from an SA-11 hit. However, it is difficult to assess the total blast pattern with such a small fragment of fuselage.”

    A week after statements of certainty as to exact locations, cause and culprits were made by the US and reported uncritically in the media the best evidence the US officially presents is “social media” and “look, we just know”. They must have reams of evidence and they haven’t even given any reason for not using any of it to support their assertions of certainty. The media could be seeking this out, even demanding it, rather than pushing essentially armchair analysis.

    The press conference I was thinking of was held by Marie Harf from the White House and the exchange is with AP’s Matt Lee.

  34. J-D
    July 27th, 2014 at 15:11 | #34


    I did not intend to suggest that I am certain about causes, locations, or culprits; I did not intend to suggest that the evidence reported in those two articles was conclusive. I suggest that the evidence reported in those two articles has some weight and, to the extent that it can be relied on, tends to favour the conclusion that the plane was brought down by a surface-to-air missile over the conclusion that it was shot down by another plane, although it’s possible it could be outweighed by stronger evidence for a different conclusion. You wrote earlier that ‘the Russians have at least put out some evidence including some that appears to show a Ukrainian fighter climbing toward MH17 just before the crash’. What evidence was that? how would you weigh that evidence against the weight of the evidence in favour of the surface-to-air missile hypothesis?

  35. J-D
    July 27th, 2014 at 15:14 | #35


    If it’s correct to say that the press conference you’re referring to presented no worthwhile evidence relevant to what happened to the plane, then it follows from that that study of that press conference is of no use in drawing reasonable conclusions about what happened to the plane.

  36. Megan
    July 27th, 2014 at 16:35 | #36

    Eternal moderation doesn’t want me to post (even a neutered) link to the “vesti” video of the Russian press conference.

  37. July 27th, 2014 at 17:55 | #37

    @Fran Barlow
    Fran I read that article and it is extraordinarily powerful. I won’t quote from it for the same reasons you mentioned – not an easy read – but in a way it is the sort of thing we all should read, before commenting on this subject.

  38. Megan
    July 27th, 2014 at 18:03 | #38

    To see the press conference:

    after “vesti” put ” . “, then:


  39. Ned Kelly
    July 27th, 2014 at 19:55 | #39

    Telling lies about Monsanto is a stock standard organic food industry tactic.

    The organic industry in the US is worth many billions of dollars and they have a vested interest in generating an irrational climate of fear concerning GMO and Monsanto. Without this climate of fear, consumers wouldn’t be willing to pay the 30% to 100% organic food price premium.

    The US responds to the fearmongering here: http://monsantoblog.eu/monsanto-el-salvador-seeds-and-u-s-foreign-aid-policy-the-facts/

    It would be nice if the anti-science useful idiots on the Left would stop spreading the same tired old lies.

  40. Fran Barlow
    July 27th, 2014 at 20:51 | #40

    @Ned Kelly

    Just reading the article carefully, Monsanto offers no reason for thinking that El Salvador could opt out of GM seed if it wanted to. It sounds as if this could be the food equivalent of BAT citing global trade neutrality to bar plain packaging on tobacco.

    I’m ready to believe that people in organic marketing may well see exaggerating fears of GMO as serving their interest, but I’d be surprised if the far better resourced Monsanto couldn’t out-lie them ten-to-one.

    For the record, I pay a premium to buy organic foods. I pay that because I want to support organic food producers. I suspect that is less harmful for the environment, even if it is of no net value to my health. I also don’t like helping out big business, and try to avoid doing so whenever this is practicable. I’ e also heard that companies in GM are at best reckless about restraining cross-contamination with organic farmers, knowing full well that cross contamination can permit them to be sued and destroys the value of the organic producer’s product.

    I don’t have to be certain organics are better for you, or taste better or are even better for the environment, though they probably are. It’s enough that big business thinks it’s in its interests to push GMOs for me to set a very high standard of proof that each GMO serves utility and is compatible with consumer choice.

  41. alfred venison
    July 27th, 2014 at 21:11 | #41

    Washington security expert Anthony Cordesman, from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, wrote in a report that while the use of an SA-11 or SA-17 radar-guided missile seemed likely, determining whether it was fired by pro-Russian rebels or by Ukrainian or Russian armed forces would be problematic.

    Mr Cordesman suggested that any of these three parties might have opened fire in an area of high tension, believing their target to be hostile rather than a civilian aircraft.

    Noting in 1988 that the US navy shot down an Iranian airliner that Washington said was mistaken for a warplane, he said: “Human error does happen, particularly when both sides may be on the edge of overreacting and have virtually no real operational experience.”

    “The fact this is a horrible human tragedy should not lead to rushed judgment as to motive, guilt, or intent.”

    [ anthony cordesman, 2014-07-19 ]

  42. Megan
    July 27th, 2014 at 23:10 | #42

    To be clear:

    I haven’t pushed any hypothesis about the details of the crash.

    I have been calling for critical analysis of the “story”, especially as fed to us by the establishment media and political class.

    I have noted that, whereas the Russian military has put out some evidence they say they have, the US has made unsubstantiated allegations and statements of “fact” apparently relying on nothing more than ‘social media’.

    There has been – as I see it – some heavy back-peddling on the aggressive assertions. Australia has gone from “armed soldiers will go to Ukraine” to “unarmed federal police”.

    Hopefully cooler heads somewhere have prevailed.

  43. J-D
    July 28th, 2014 at 07:56 | #43


    I’m having trouble seeing the difference between ‘saying you have evidence’ and ‘making unsubstantiated allegations’; and if critical analysis of stories is important, it seems to me that should apply to Russian stories as much as to US stories.

  44. alfred venison
    July 28th, 2014 at 08:23 | #44

    for the record: i didn’t think you were. but clearly one won’t determine who launched it from the wreckage alone. however, if everyone put their radar scans on the table in the spirit of inquiry it’d be a different matter. -a.v.

  45. Megan
    July 28th, 2014 at 09:23 | #45


    The difference here is between producing evidence and not producing evidence.

  46. J-D
    July 28th, 2014 at 18:49 | #46


    You wrote ‘the Russian military has put out some evidence they say they have’ (emphasis added by me). If they say they have it, do you take their word for it?

  47. Megan
    July 28th, 2014 at 19:37 | #47


    Are you serious? They put it out, by definition that is proof that they “have it”.

    Whereas Marie Harf was at it again at the last press conference, telling journalists that the US has evidence (this time of artillery being fired into Ukraine from Russia – nothing to do with MH17 but a handy diversionary tactic) but we can’t see it because it’s secret.

  48. J-D
    July 28th, 2014 at 20:19 | #48


    They put ‘it’ out? They put what out?

  49. Megan
    July 28th, 2014 at 20:59 | #49


    You must have missed #38:

    To see the press conference:

    after “vesti” put ” . “, then:


    Put that together, go and spend 30 minutes watching it.

    It isn’t a link to second hand armchair analysis and hearsay. It is the Russian press conference where they presented the evidence we’ve been talking about.

  50. J-D
    July 29th, 2014 at 07:05 | #50


    No, I didn’t miss it. I watched the whole thing. I saw a series of pictures presented and I heard it said that these were pictures of events. Does a picture of a plane near another plane constitute evidence that two planes were physically near each other at a particular place and time? In my childhood I drew several pictures of planes near each other. Admittedly my graphical skill was nowhere near that of whoever constructed the pictures in that video, but I’m not clear on how that makes a difference.

    I think possibly you have not fully appreciated how subtle a concept ‘evidence’ is. In the most general sense, everything is evidence. What you write is evidence, what I write is evidence, what official US spokespeople say is evidence: the question is, of what is it evidence? It’s only by specifying a conclusion that (you think) that video supports that you can give full meaning to any description of its contents as evidence.

  51. J-D
    July 29th, 2014 at 21:58 | #51

    On further reflection, it occurs to me that it is reasonable to expect the Russian authorities to have better access than the US authorities to information from air traffic control towers and radar stations on Russian territory. It is not clear to me that there is any relevant larger conclusion about contrasts between Russia and the US that would be supported by this observation.

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