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April 7th, 2015

A new sandpit for long side discussions, idees fixes and so on. Unless directly responding to the OP, all discussions of nuclear power, MMT and conspiracy theories should be directed to sandpits (or, if none is open, message boards).

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  1. J-D
    April 7th, 2015 at 11:49 | #1



    I asserted proposition Y.

    In support of this proposition I asserted that there are no examples that fit description X.

    You write that X is something I proposed. That is a misunderstanding.

    You seem to agree with me that there are no examples that fit description X, but you also seem to think that somehow shows that I am wrong. It does not.

    Are you perhaps having difficulty telling the difference between X and Y?

  2. Ivor
    April 7th, 2015 at 23:52 | #2

    X ???

    Y ???


  3. J-D
    April 8th, 2015 at 07:07 | #3


    Yes, that’s right. Are you still having difficulty telling them apart?

  4. Ivor
    April 8th, 2015 at 09:21 | #4



    Just more, endless, erroneous suggestions.

  5. J-D
    April 8th, 2015 at 11:18 | #5


    So you can tell X and Y apart? Well, that’s excellent. Is there anything else I can help you with?

  6. Ivor
    April 8th, 2015 at 11:26 | #6


    No – you are not qualified.

  7. J-D
    April 8th, 2015 at 11:59 | #7


    You may be right about that.

  8. April 9th, 2015 at 18:16 | #8

    Digging a channel to let sea waster into Kati Thanda – Lake Eyre was mentioned in another thread. This should resultin in Super Kati Thanda – Lake Eyre Sea being created which would be considerably larger than the current lake, or would be once salt deposits retard the movement of water through the plain. Assuming a wide covered channel, or magic one, it would take about 200 years for whole area to turn into a dry salt deposit wasteland with salt piled high enough to stop water flowing in. In that 200 years, since rainfall is nowhere near enough to flush salt water out, we would have massive spreading sality through the groundwater. But you know, it might not be that bad. In a few thousand years things might be back to the way they were. If there are still ice caps. If they melt then the artificial sea could keep filling for some time. Probably wouldn’t be that long before it became non-artificial.

    There are probably better ways to make central Australia greener. Currently water that falls there either evaporates or enters ground water. Mostly it evaporates. To increase the biomass we need to increase the amount of water that passes through a plant before evaporating. The most effective way I can think of to do this is to change the characteristics of the soil. Adding biochar (or just char for the non-funky) is the most obvious way to do this. It can be added in rows against the natural flow of water across the ground when it rains so that the plants that grow in the improved soil will slow the flow of water, giving it more time to sink into the ground and into the water holding biochar while also limiting soil erosion. It’s best to avoid using biochar where conditions are so bad no plants will normally grow, as it darkens the soil and increase ground temperature if there is no plant cover. But biochar doesn’t have to be used. Kitty litter, chunks of termite mounds, pieces of old sponge, it’s all good. Or sometimes bad.

  9. John Quiggin
    April 11th, 2015 at 15:19 | #9

    Summing up on the “what did LtG really predict?” issue, it’s clear that
    * the modelling runs were mostly over fairly long periods, though reported in ways that make it hard to pin down a specific timescale
    * the marketing hype surrounding LtG centred on claims of imminent collapse (a few decades at the most)
    * LtG advocates like Graham Turner have reinforced this interpretation, having issued, and maintained a prediction of collapse, driven by resource scarcity, beginning in 2015, that is, now

    So, the idea that LtG predicted collapse over a timeframe of a few decades may or may not be right, but it is one propagated by LtG advocates, and not some kind of fabrication by rightwing opponents.

  10. April 11th, 2015 at 17:07 | #10

    I would like someone who thinks Australians are going to die in the next 100 or so years from running out of one or more resources to actually make an attempt to convince me there is a resource we will run out of in that time that will kill people here. And I don’t want people to provide links to studies or just assure me that this is the case, I want them to name one resource they think we’re going to run out of and personally explain, using English sentences at a level I can understand, why Australians are going to die as a result. For example: “I think we are going to run out of ________ in the next 100 years and I think this will result in Australians dying because ________.”

    I am curious because I am not aware of any resource that we will either run out of in that time or which we do not currently have adequate substitutes for.

  11. jungney
    April 11th, 2015 at 17:33 | #11

    @Ronald Brak
    ” For example: “I think we are going to run out of ________ in the next 100 years and I think this will result in Australians dying because ________.”

    For example: “I think we are going to run out of water in the next 100 years and I think this will result in Australians dying because thirst.”

    Scientifically speaking, thirst is properly known as dehydration.

  12. Donald Oats
    April 11th, 2015 at 18:01 | #12

    What in tarnation is wrong with American police? I have seen half a dozen recent videos of different states’ police either beating seven shades of colour out of someone they’ve caught, or shooting them in the back at a distance, or shooting them in the front when they are clearly no threat, just a major irritation.

    Although there is undoubtedly some racist attitudes behind some of these cases, there are plenty of mixed-race or same race examples too. What is clear is that in contexts where substantial or potentially lethal force is unwarranted, the police have chosen to go in for maximum damage. What is provoking this aggression, why do they feel it isn’t deviant behaviour to beat the stuffing out of an already subdued suspect—suspect being a key word here, not that beating a convicted criminal is sanctioned either. The video I linked to above shows that the cops didn’t feel constrained by the presence of the other officers, they joined in with some gusto.

  13. April 11th, 2015 at 18:06 | #13

    Thank you Jungney. Now make me believe you. How is it possible for Australians to die of thirst when currently Australian water use is approximately 1,000 liters per person per day and it only takes a few liters a day to keep someone alive? Even if water availability fell by half we’d still have about 500 liters per person per day. How is it possible for Australians to die of a lack of water when Adelaide’s single desalination plant alone is capable of producing enough drinking water to sustain *places pinky in corner of mouth* 100 million people? When more than enough rainwater falls on our roofs alone to sustain all Australians? When no matter what climatic changes Australia experiences, rainfall can only be reduced, not stopped, and rainfall alone on our roofs will always be sufficient to keep us alive? Even if rainfall levels plummeted so that Australian roofs only received an average of 400 mm a year, residential roofspace alone would be enough to capture 20,000 liters of per person per year, or over 50 liters per person per day.

    I’m afraid, no wait, I’m relieved that Australians dying from a lack of water is completely implausible.

  14. Megan
    April 11th, 2015 at 18:53 | #14

    “How is it possible for Australians to die of thirst….?”

    You’re right it couldn’t possibly happen, after all Adelaide has enough water to sustain 100 million people.

    Somebody should have told these guys (January 2015):

    The body of a 39-year-old truck driver from Perth was found in Murchison, outback Western Australia, recently. It is believed the man, who has been named as Clayton Miller, was delivering water tanks to a private property near Meekatharra when his truck became bogged on a private unsealed road.

    Carrying just 1.5 litres of water, the driver set out on foot to get help. According to newspaper reports, he was nearly within sight of a local homestead before he decided to turn back and return to his truck.

    Local station manager Simon Broad told media he found the man’s body just 1.1 kilometres from his truck. The man had walked approximately 25 kilometres in 46-degree heat.

    The death comes just two weeks after a 60-year-old man died after leaving his stricken vehicle near Wiluna, in WA’s Goldfields region. He is believed to have walked around 50 kilometres in 40-degree heat before he succumbed to the extreme conditions.

  15. April 11th, 2015 at 19:11 | #15

    Megan, I don’t think that tragedy was actually a result of Australia running out of water resources. I think Murchison has pretty dry since European invasettleion.

  16. Megan
    April 11th, 2015 at 19:18 | #16

    Of course it isn’t.

    I was just making the point that having lots of water in some places is no guarantee that everybody in Australia will always have enough to live.

  17. Ikonoclast
    April 11th, 2015 at 22:41 | #17

    @John Quiggin

    The original book supports a broad prediction that without a change in BAU by 2000 and without significant technological advances then we could run into overshoot and decline or collapse problems anywhere after 2035 and before 2100. That is very broad and the authors themselves were careful to put many hedges and caveats on their work. The authors also explicitly disavowed direct prediction-making by themselves and limited their discussions to various “runs” of the model as hypothetical outcomes with different parameters. They always said that other factors, different future decisions and different future technologies could change assumptions and thus trajectories.

    The updates of the work have shown the original LTG predictions to be well on track. This strengthens confidence that the model is robust. What did not happen by 2000 was a change in BAU. We did not move from excess consumerism and very profligate and ecology/climate damaging use of resources including fossil fuels. Indeed, we intensified wanton consumption along with destruction and war. What did change was technology. Advances in some areas did exceed most expecations. Significant improvements have occurred especially with renewable energy.

    The above two outcomes (no change in an excessive consumption BAU system coupled with better than expected technology outcomes) have probably roughly cancelled each other. This might be a reason why the original predictions are still on track.

    The claims in various quarters that the original LTG book predicted disaster or collapse by 2000 were false and remain false. These claims were and are routinely made to discredit the work and to protect vested interests with the greatest stake in BAU. To believe that the vested interests that denied the tobacco-cancer link and that deny climate change to this day, did not also work at discrediting another threat to BAU namely the LTG thesis, is to be both naive and to elide the considerable history of attacks on it by right-wing (capitalist) interests.

    I note you J.Q. have retreated from your explicit repetition of the false claim about the 2000 prediction date. Now you retreat to another indefensible position IMO; namely that there was not only no right-wing campaign to discredit the LTG study but that the left-wing (or greens?) are mainly responsible for the fabrication of the myth of the 2000 prediction.

    It may well be the case that doomsters like me are too “previous”. I have been predicting about a 2015 to 2025 peak in global GDP (but never a 2000 collapse for which you will have to take my word). Technically, we will have to wait until 2025 to prove me wrong and until about 2035 to 2055 to prove the original LTG “predictions” wrong. The updates of the report are now showing the authors are more likely to be correct than me. The graphs are tracking closer to their graphical “predictions” than my claims. I seem to have underestimated (under-guesstimated really) technology and substitution improvements. On the other hand, my other predictions that greed, over-consumption, war and general human blindness and stupidity would continue to play a large and damaging role… well these predictions have indeed been well and truly met.

    My own bias is to suspect that the LTG authors were just being very careful when disavowing outright prediction. Part of this carefulness was no doubt scientific caution but understandably they were probably also being cautious for the sake of their careers and reputations. The right-wing BAU mob are very good at destroying anyone who disagrees with them or bears bad tidings about fundamental problems with the system.

    The fundamental thesis (that growth cannot continue endlessly in a finite system) is sound. The signs that we are close to the real limits (climate change, species extinctions, sea level rise, ocean acidification and dying oceans, deforesation, peak conventional oil, nitrogen cycle disruption etc.) are all around us. It appears you and I will remain poles apart on this issue. I continue to maintain that LTG denial is as bad as climate change denial and just as dangerous for us.

  18. Megan
    April 12th, 2015 at 00:54 | #18


    I haven’t read the book.

    I get the general idea, which seems so obvious as to be beyond the need for discussion – i.e. we live in an enclosed world where we have a fixed amount of resources and a fixed biosphere to live within.

    But, do the authors talk at all about financial shenanigans like the US dollar going of the gold standard and becoming totally fictional while remaining the ‘world’s reserve currency’?

    It seems to me that a huge amount of what we call “growth” (such as the fact that anyone who bought a house ten years ago has now doubled the value of that house) is really a fictional concept based on the idea that we can just produce more debt so that ‘demand’ will cause that house price to double again. And so on…

  19. Ikonoclast
    April 12th, 2015 at 05:38 | #19


    “I get the general idea, which seems so obvious as to be beyond the need for discussion – i.e. we live in an enclosed world where we have a fixed amount of resources and a fixed biosphere to live within.”

    That’s a wonderful expression of it. It is indeed now so obvious that it should be beyond the need for discussion. Of course, like so many perfectly obvious ideas it isn’t obvious until a certain level of human knowledge is reached and then the obvious and elegant idea is pointed out by someone for the first time. Then of course the denialists and quasi-religious acolytes of endless growth rise up and claim the cornucopia is infinite.

    There is indeed a real economy and a fictional (financial) economy. The real economy is real stuff. The authors of Limits to Growth dealt with the real economy of real stuff. Wikipedia notes that “Five variables were examined in the original model. These variables are: world population, industrialization, pollution, food production, and resource depletion.” At the risk of pointing out the obvious, each of these components is made out of real stuff; humans, industrial products, waste, food and physical resources.

    I very much like your statement that: “It seems to me that a huge amount of what we call “growth” (such as the fact that anyone who bought a house ten years ago has now doubled the value of that house) is really a fictional concept…” This is so true at the everyday level. How it factors in at the formal GDP calculation level I am not sure. Maybe the economists could tell us. A house built ten years ago is not part of GDP calculation in the current year, I would guess. But a house built this year is. If house/land prices are heavily inflated as they have been over the last decade or two in Australia, then the house built this year is, I assume, accorded this inflated value and thus we do get a kind of inflation or fictionalisation of GDP.

    What really matters is real stuff (real matter, real energy). Money in all its forms, except perhaps commodity money, is of course entirely fictional. This is not an argument that we should go back to commodity money by the way. To resume the argument, what really matters is real stuff. Many real houses today are bigger (more and bigger rooms) and have better wiring and plumbing than houses built one or two generations ago. On the other hand, many houses built one or two generations ago often had beautiful and strong hardwood timbers as flooring and framing. House today often have light radiata pine framing and while hardwood flooring still exists it is much rarer in new homes and the floor planks are shorter and of lower quality. All the big, good trees are long gone in many natural forests or the forests themselves are gone.

    Many houses built a generation or two ago will endure longer (if not demolished) than houses built today. So yes indeed, there is much that is fictional and ephemeral about our current wonderful claimed GDP numbers. At the same time, there is much that is still real and better about our current economy. Automobiles are much better, much more reliable, much safer, more fuel efficient and so on. But taking that thought a step further, in world of limited resources, building all these wonderful cars is actually a big, wasteful mistake and we are trashing our climate with them.

    If we properly offset our GDP with a capital calculation of the damage we have done to the environment and resources we have depleted, i.e. damage and loss of natural capital, then our much vaunted GDP and “wealth” would appear more realistically modest. Yes, we are fooling ourselves.

    There will be more and more lies told in the next few years or even decades (if the final bubble lasts that long) about how wealthy we all are. But the next great economic crash combined with an ecological crash will wipe out much of that fictional value. Then the stated fictional wealth on the ledger will better match the dearth of real stuff in a resource depleted and very ecologically sick world.

  20. jungney
    April 12th, 2015 at 06:50 | #20

    @Ronald Brak
    Ronald, I wasn’t mounting a plausible argument. I was responding, tongue in cheek, to your silly question. The impending crisis will be multi-factorial. Not everyone will run out of the resources for living simultaneously. Those in camps, behind razor wire, ecological refugees, will run out of daily necessities first. Conditions on Nauru and Manus, where water, food, medical aid and sanitation are already very limited, illustrate the way that those deemed as surplus to requirements will be treated. Hell, Transfield Services has an excellent future running prison camps. If you look at conditions in refugee camps anywhere around the word right now you will see the future for everywhere.

  21. Ikonoclast
    April 12th, 2015 at 08:45 | #21


    Quite right that the crisis will be multi-factor. It will be multi-factor in both causes and effects

    Greece is a good example of where more and more countries are headed. Greece has wealth inequality problems, macroeconomic problems induced by the EU monetary setup, problems due to exhaustion of resources, problems due to corruption, problems due to a bloated military, problems due to a poorly structured economy and so on. It’s not an either/or situation. All of these factors contribute to Greece’s predicament.

    But exhaustion of resources, limits to growth and possible overshoot and collapse loom over everything. You can get everything else right and be lucky, like Australia is, but resource and environment collapse will still collapse your economy unless adequate changes and preparations are made. Most of us who comment on this blog know what needs to be done. I don’t need to list all the tasks again here.

    Suffice it to say that population growth and growth in material consumption need to cease and the physical economy needs to held at a sustainable plateau.

  22. jt
    April 12th, 2015 at 12:46 | #22

    I suppose Limits to Growth is a ideology that is needed and provided it doesn’t become an excuse for fatalism, it may have some utility as a spur to action. I’m thinking some bright sparks who have got in to solar tech may have been motivated to do so by environmental concerns.

    But I am at a loss to understand how Calvinist sermonising in the deep dark bowels of a blog with a modest readership is a gainful use of the scarcist resource of all, that being time.

    Just as importantly, the world still spends chump change on preparedness for future scarcity. The wealthy countries apparently spend six times as much on military technology research than on alternative energy research. Although billionaires have set up companies to pave the way for asteroid mining, the money involved is still chump change compared to the two or three trillion dollars frittered away on the Iraq and Afghan wars.

    If ever we do have a genuine scarcity scare, it will be possible to very rapidly increase needed research and capital investment at least one hundred fold.

    If push came to shove, we can do things like obtain our protein from low input sources like maggots, spiders and insects. The Cambodians learned this during the Pol Pot years, although not soon enough.

  23. April 12th, 2015 at 13:11 | #23

    Jungney, so are you of the opinion that Australians won’t die from a lack of resources in the next 100 years, but people in other countries will?

  24. jungney
    April 12th, 2015 at 14:10 | #24

    People in countries other than Australia are already dying from lack of specific resources such as water, food and shelter and have been doing so for some time.

    I don’t draw a difference between the ecological impact of global warming and the political and economic consequences. The chaos that has descended on Syria has its roots as much in the 2005 drought, apparently under the impact of climate change made worse than usual droughts, which drove massive dislocation in near famine conditions. This happened at the same time as refugees poured out of Iraq into Syria. The Iraq war history we know but the salient point was that it was US rapaciousness for resource (oil) control that created the political and military preconditions for this disaster.

    My recollection of the LTG argument is one that did place the issue of resource scarcity within a global political economy tending towards collapse subsequent to over exploitation of natural resources and inattention to the way that humans metabolize nature in order to secure our living. The Club’s argument appears to me to be sound. There may no be generalized resource scarcity but then anyone with a knowledge of ecology and history wouldn’t expect a generalized shortage even within a single national economy. Scarcity is always organized and usually along the veins of existing networks of power so that the poor and margnialized experience the greatest impact soonest.

    For example, there are currently fish in the sea despite the collapse of several major fisheries and apparently diminished returns in many other. The fact that we can buy fish in Australia, however, merely obscures the state of global fisheries rather than providing evidence that seafood is not a declining resource. It is for some.

    I think an argument could be made that Aboriginal Australians have already died through resource scarcity but this would mean extending adopting a political ecology framework in which things like respect and justice are counted as resources as in the same way raw materials. In any event, the famine that over took Sydney in 1789 impacted invader and local equally:

    They [Aborigines] are now much distressed for food, few fish are caught & I am told that many of them appear on the Beach where the Boats go to haul the Seins [trawling nets], very weak and anxious to eat the small fish, of which they made no account in the Summer nor can we give them much assistance as very few fish are now caught, & we have many sick. Arthur Phillip to Joseph Banks, 2 July, 1788.

    Frontier conflict, including Sydney, was often over water and food.

    There may not be an absolute shortage of any resource in Australia in the next hundred years or so. However, given how much human history has been driven by conflict over access to and control over the means of existence, a somewhat broader notion than ‘resources’, while there may be not absolute shortage there certainly will be conflict over the basics – food, water, shelter – as the climate change picks up speed.

  25. Megan
    April 12th, 2015 at 16:13 | #25

    Scott “Fluffy” Morrison should make up his mind.

    From today’s media release:

    The choice made by families not to immunise their children is not supported by public policy or medical research nor should such action be supported by taxpayers in the form of child care payments.

    Fair enough. Those Anti-Vaxxers cannot be tolerated with their dangerous anti-science beliefs.

    But then:

    Existing exemptions on…religious grounds will continue…

    Obviously some people’s superstitious – but strongly held – beliefs are to be respected whereas other’s are not.

    If he was serious he would remove all exemptions except medical.

  26. ZM
    April 12th, 2015 at 16:29 | #26


    “But, do the authors talk at all about financial shenanigans like the US dollar going of the gold standard and becoming totally fictional while remaining the ‘world’s reserve currency’?”

    I have only read a bit of the book, but my understanding is the model incorporates economic behavioural modelling – and it is economics that starts the collapse as more capital is put into non-renewable resource extraction as supplies dwindle, which takes financial resources away from other areas.

    I think the behavioural modelling is probably one of the weak spots, as it is more complex and changeable than physical renewable an non-renewable resource supplies.

    The New Scientist article I cited in the other thread interviews someone who is trying to update the modelling used. But one thing the article noted was there is a difficult balance in modelling work between having sufficient complexity in the models, and having too much complexity.

  27. Megan
    April 12th, 2015 at 17:39 | #27

    Today is the 40th anniversary of the US departure (helicopters taking off from the embassy) from Phnom Penh.

    For those living in Phnom Penh on April 12, 1975, the U.S. Embassy helicopters that took off on a one-way journey that day, carrying a few hundred foreigners and Cambodians to safety, signaled the end of civil war and the victory of the Khmer Rouge.

    Phnom Penh had been cut off from the rest of the country for some time. The only means of supply were planes landing at the city’s Pochentong Airport, which was under intense shelling. Food was scarce and prices were so exorbitant that, according to historian Michael Vickery, 8,000 people in the capital city were believed to have died of starvation in March 1975 alone.

    The US is a scourge.

  28. jungney
    April 12th, 2015 at 17:59 | #28

    Morrison is a member of the most dangerous and subversive church in Australia. He is, along with other members of Pentecostalist churches, according to their own doctine, accepting of the idea that speaking in tongues is evidence of the presence of christ. It is a moment of rapture and divine possession. These sorts of wing nut believers, of whom there are many who contribute personnel and money to the Liberal Party, constitute a vanguard of pre-modern ignorance determined to turn back the enlightenment. Needless to say most of their programs advantage a type of old testament patriarchal man.

    Alex Wolfe, who is a member of the Hillsong Church, a branch franchise of the Pentecostals, is a sitting Federal Liberal member. Check out the hatchet job on the tax free status of some environmental organisations, including FOE and Greenpeace, that the Libs have hatched and onto which they have set this wing nut xstian attack dog:


    This is a man who cannot speak other than in the snarls of a junkyard dog.

    The religious affiliation of the Liberals is no small concern. There is no doubt that the barking mad religious right of the US has infected, like herpes after a swingers party, the Liberal party. Two words: Cory Bernardi.

    I’ve no doubt that these nutters have established themselves within the corporate security state in Australia, in DFAT, Immigration (the enaction of cruel policies always requires a faith based certitude) and Social Services (or whatever it is called now) and Transfield Services who make a nice quid out of torturing refugees. They are growing in number and influence. It won’t be too long before we read that these sociopaths want to ease the path to death of Aboriginal Australians, who were, according to their lights, ‘destined’ to die out as a ‘species’. God alone knows what the religious commitments are within the Barnett government are in West Aussie, to agree to the ethnic cleansing of the bush and original Australians.

    Keep your eye on the dead side of Aussie culture. It’s nasty and potent.

  29. Donald Oats
    April 12th, 2015 at 21:49 | #29

    Yeah, I read that too. Politics has an internal logic of its own. Apparently, if I have strongly held (atheist) beliefs regarding vaccination of children, too bad; if I have strongly held (religious) beliefs, well that’s okay mate, don’t vax the kids. WTF?? If it is a public health issue, then only those children who have a medical condition which makes vaccination too risky shouldn’t be vaccinated. Still, I’ll give them some marks for at least trying to deal with the issue. Forcing people is likely to get the backs up a lot of ’em, however.

    The better option is to explain, explain, explain. Show parents the problems of shingles, polyneuropathy, post-polio syndrome, polio, brain damage from mumps and rubella, and give them the odds of these happening if their kids get infected, vs the odds of a complication due to the vaccination itself. I know people who have suffered ongoing shingles, and who have had polio; neither is pleasant, and in the case of polio, can paralyse you for life—if not fatal. Give these would-be objectors a free e-book “I can jump puddles”.

  30. Megan
    April 12th, 2015 at 22:07 | #30

    @Donald Oats

    Yes, I agree (and I’ve previously stated that view here) the correct answer is to explain.

    In his own media release he says that vaccination rates are at 97% and that kids are already required to get vaccinated under the current system:

    Immunisation requirements for the payment of FTB Part A end-of-year supplement will also be extended to include children of all ages. Currently, vaccination status is only checked at ages 1, 2 and 5 years.

    The current system was introduced by Howard in 1996 and “children” means up to age 16 (I think). Therefore, the obvious question is “What is the point of this ‘new’ piece of Fluffy’s nastiness apart from divisive dog-whistling aimed at a vanishingly small number of people and as a gee-up to the anti-anti-vaxxers?

  31. Megan
    April 12th, 2015 at 22:10 | #31


    “Amen” to that!

    (pun intended).

  32. J-D
    April 13th, 2015 at 16:27 | #32


    Staying at school to age 15 is not the same thing as completing secondary education. Secondary education is normally completed at age 16, 17, or 18, not at age 15.

  33. Ivor
    April 13th, 2015 at 18:09 | #33


    Does not answer the question.

    Does not try to address the question.


  34. J-D
    April 13th, 2015 at 18:47 | #34


    See the comment I posted to the original thread and the source linked to.

  35. John Quiggin
    April 13th, 2015 at 20:06 | #35

    @Ikonoklast: So you don’t mind rationing access by exam results (“standards”). It’s easy enough to restore the good old days on that basis.

    By the standards of the 1950s, when only a tiny fraction of the age cohort made it to uni, you would throw out around 90 per cent of current students, including all but the most able and determined from the working class. By the standards of the 1970s, maybe 50 per cent. Then it would be easy enough to afford free education for the rest.

    Do I have your proposal correct, or do you see something wrong here?

  36. Megan
    April 13th, 2015 at 20:56 | #36

    @John Quiggin
    and Ikon

    Sorry to butt in, but is “access” not “rationed” by “exam results” anyway?

    When I was a kid, you couldn’t go to uni (apart from “mature age student”) unless:
    1. you finished year 12;
    2. got a high enough score to get into the course; and (under the system in those days)
    3. there were enough “places” left in the course after higher scoring students got their spots.

    There was a system of “preferences” so that you might end up getting into a different course at the same uni or the same course at a different uni.

    I’m in favour of “free” government funding, but surely there should be a system – at least in the broadbrush sense – of T.E. “scores” based on some kind of entry exams/matriculation/HSC etc..?

    P.S. – in those days there were opportunities for people to “make up” into uni if they missed out on the first go and were really keen to get in. You could do year 12 again, you could do a TAFE course and if you got good enough marks that could translate into a sufficient “T.E.” score to get into uni. In those days it could be a long an arduous process but people could get into their desired course (e.g. Law, Accounting, Economics etc… even Medicine) with a lot of hard work even if their year 12 results weren’t high enough.

    P.P.S. – I’m pretty sure TAFE was very highly government subsidised.

  37. Ikonoclast
    April 13th, 2015 at 21:22 | #37

    @John Quiggin

    You are not interpreting my replies properly. I am in favour of the current domestic attendance rate at tertiary insitutions or even higher if justified. I am favour of this many (or more places) being made available for Australian citizens for free. Clearly places will never be limitless. What practical polcies will limit places?

    1. How ever many students meet the required academic entrance standards for each course should be considered as possible entrants depending on the criteria below. For starters, I assume you accept that there must be academic entrance standards.

    2. Capacity – Course should be filled to teaching capacity in the first instance. We both know one would need to write screeds about teaching capacity and how its need would be determined including as in point 3 below.

    3. Teaching capacity in turn needs to be continually set and reset year on year to turn out probably a small over-supply of all professionals we need in Australia.

    4. I would advocate gold-plating facilities and staff. For example, at the end of any mining boom the engineeing faculty would be turning out considerably more graduates than needed. There would be more engineering teaching staff than needed if class sizes were pared back for a while (say 5 years). I would advocate keeping all those staff (all that wanted to stay) through the teaching demand “slump”. Some of them would be moved to research, sabbaticals, textbook and materials production or whatever was needed. I would give them considerable latitude to choose which they wished to do.

    Again, I say you are not interpreting my replies properly. It ought to have been obvious after the large potential savings I mentioned on other arenas that I was envisaging an increase in funding and an increase in total places offered if entrance standards were met* and the need for professionals across the board was great enough. It is also clear I was advocating more humanities places (though not limitless obviously) not only on the basis of needs for teachers etc. but to some extent also on community need for personal enlightenment and education.

    I suspect you are willfully misunderstanding my posts and mis-representing my position. I am not sure why you do this though I have a few theories.

    * Note – Obviously entrance standards ought to be set at the standards that the convening professors determine are required so that a person has a realistic and reasonable chance of passing the course and becoming competent in the discipline.

  38. jt
    April 13th, 2015 at 22:29 | #38


    Given your lack of manners, I’m not why the good Professor even bothers picking through your repetitive and unimaginative word salads. Have you nothing better to do?

  39. jt
    April 13th, 2015 at 22:30 | #39


    Given your lack of manners, I’m not sure why the good Professor even bothers picking through your repetitive and unimaginative word salads. Have you nothing better to do?

  40. Ikonoclast
    April 14th, 2015 at 07:06 | #40


    Every string of words you don’t understand is word salad. You must live in a world of word salad.

  41. Ikonoclast
    April 14th, 2015 at 07:51 | #41

    The HECS-HELP scheme is bizarre and unnecessary. Clearly, the resources for tertiary education (financial and real resources) are made available up front. That is to say the federal government makes the allocations out of current budgets and real resources are purchased with these allocations. The students then incur a debt for repayment at an indeterminate time in the future. The debt is essentially of the form of a future conditional and additional tax obligation.

    There are a number of reasons why the debt might never be repaid. The student might die. The student might never get a job. The student might never get a job that pays well enough.

    How does this future tax/repayment obligation help the government frame a budget now? There is no genuine fiscal sense in which it helps a government to frame a budget now. The current deficit or surplus depends only on current taxes and current expenditures. The “help” to any budget line can only come in the future when the tax/repayment is made. This “help” is dubious in any case as the economic needs that would drive the framing of a future budget are as yet unknown. It might be the case that an economic stimulus is needed at that future time or times in which case the higher tax obligations of HECS/HELP repayers would have to be offset by some other component in a deficit budget.

    It is quite possible that many HECS/HELP debts or taxes will never be repaid under current rules. The HECS/HELP system like so many aspects of current economics is based upon an assumption of endless growth. The real case will be that economic growth will cease at some point and based on limits to growth modelling it will very likely overshoot and collapse. Many HECS/HELP debts are likely to never be repaid because many of the graduates will never achieve the lifelong earning levels necessary to repay the debts under current conditions.

    The wisest course of action would be to simply continue making the current necessary budget allocations for tertiary education (at least), to discontinue the scheme and to forgive all future HECS/HELP debts.

    Future budgets can make up the tax shortfalls (if any) by abolishing fossil fuel subsidies, corporate welfare and negative gearing. It really is that simple.

  42. John Quiggin
    April 14th, 2015 at 08:08 | #42

    “Clearly places will never be limitless.”

    Why do you (and, I think Megan) assume this? We’ve had universal school education for more than a century, and limitless access to the final years of high school for many decades. The expansion of universities has brought us to the point where most young people who want a place can find one, although access is still limited.

    Rather than going back to the elitist past, I want to push forward to universal access to post-secondary (University/TAFE) education. We are close enough that this doesn’t require magically finding vast amounts of extra money, though of course it would cost more than we are spending now.

  43. J-D
    April 14th, 2015 at 08:25 | #43


    I posted a link earlier to a reliable official source in a comment which is still in moderation because it has two links in it (so I won’t post it as a link again in this comment to avoid sending this one to moderation also):

    http www governmentschools det nsw edu au facts division shtm

    From that source:

    1962  First year of Wyndham Scheme, which introduced a 6-year High School course. ‘Forms’ gradually replaced ‘Years’. Forms 1 to 4 were a prelude to the School Certificate examination and Forms 5 and 6 to the Higher School Certificate examination. The first Form 4 emerged in 1965 and the first Form 6 in 1967.

    Since the 1960s (in New South Wales), the High School course has been a six-year course. It was not compulsory for students to complete the full course — it still isn’t. But leaving a course before you complete it (with permission or without) is not the same thing as completing the course. Students who received the School Certificate did so without completing the six-year high school course.

    All this, however, is irrelevant to the basic essence of the point I was actually making. The graph I cited earlier shows a steep climb between 1982 and 1992 and this remains true no matter what terms are used to describe the statistic being measured in that graph. You want to call it something different from what I call it, or what the Australian Bureau of Statistics calls it? You don’t agree that it’s a measure of students completing their secondary education, but actually a measure of something different? Fine. But whatever you call the statistic being measured, it went up from well under one-third in 1982 to well over two-thirds in 1992. Moreover, it is a statistic relevant to the subject of the size of the population entering (or seeking to enter) university education which, in case you have forgotten, was the subject originally under discussion. John Quiggin and Ikonoclast were discussing the subject of entry to university education in relation to resourcing of university education. If you want to discuss some other statistic that has no relation to entry to university education, that also has no relevance to the subject that was previously under discussion. I wasn’t trying to change the subject. You are, for no good reason.

  44. J-D
    April 14th, 2015 at 08:44 | #44


    Repayments under the HECS-HELP scheme are being made now. HECS-HELP repayments are part of this year’s budget, not just the budgets of future years. Obviously some of the debts being incurred this year will be repaid only in future years — and in some cases not at all — but some debts incurred in previous years are being repaid this year. The rate of inflow of funds from repayments was something that could only be estimated when the scheme was established — although estimates definitely were made then in order to help design the scheme — but after twenty-five years of experience there’s plenty of data to provide the basis for better estimates. The government has a good idea how much money it will receive in HECS-HELP repayments this year, and how much next year also — as good an idea as it has of anything else in the budget. (You’re not suggesting that it’s a bad idea to draw up budgets because the future is uncertain, are you?)

    (And that’s without saying anything about the substantial proportion who pay upfront, a designed-in feature of the scheme from the beginning.)

  45. Ivor
    April 14th, 2015 at 09:05 | #45


    Everyone is aware of that.

    My query was very simple; What was the evidence for the claim that:

    In the pre-Whitlam era less than one-third of all school students completed secondary education.

    Instead we received everything but.

    The correct answer would have been that;

    In the pre-Whitlam era less than one-third of all school students continued into senior years, or:

    In the pre-Whitlam era less than one-third of all school students matriculated.

    In 192, most students obviously completed their secondary education either when they reached school-leaving age, or later when they gained the school certificate.

    Similarly in higher education.

    In 1972, most students completed their higher education after leaving with a pass degree. You cannot say they did not complete their higher education simply because a minority went on to do Honours, or Masters.

    Where there are different exit points you cannot accuse people who receiving different qualifications of “not completing their education”.

    Most people with bachelor degrees would feel that they certainly successfully completed their higher education – and this certainly applied in pre-Whitlam days.

    Similarly, the thousands who worked in the lower divisions of the public service with school certificates and leaving certificates would certainly have the right to say that they completed secondary education.


  46. Ikonoclast
    April 14th, 2015 at 10:28 | #46

    @John Quiggin

    You persist in deliberately misunderstanding and mis-characterising my position. One could offer limitless tertiary places in the theoretical sense. In the practical sense unless you have zero academic standards some people will be limited by lack of intellectual and other abilities to complete any tertiary course or some particular tertiary courses. Are you proposing zero academic standards for entrance?

    There is also the issue of over-supply. Are you proposing to train as many as engineers and doctors etc. who wish to train regardless of any possibility of over-supply? I suspect one could make arguments for doing this so I am open on this second question.

    Overall, I think you are just yanking my chain. If you don’t want a serious debate just say so m8. if you want me to stop posting on this blog just say so or ban me if you wish.

  47. Megan
    April 14th, 2015 at 10:33 | #47

    @John Quiggin

    I want to push forward to universal access to post-secondary (University/TAFE) education

    I hadn’t realised that. Sounds like a good idea.

    So everyone who wants to attempt a degree or trade certificate etc.. gets to have a go, and it is fully funded (or very highly funded) by the government?

    I’d be a supporter of that, on the proviso that we have “standards” at the end point to give us high quality graduates.

  48. J-D
    April 14th, 2015 at 10:38 | #48


    I’m not ‘accusing’ anybody of anything. To say that somebody has not completed a course of education is not an ‘accusation’. Dropping out of a course of education is not a bad thing (or at any rate it’s not always a bad thing). My nephew did not complete his high school education. He’s doing just fine. Stating the fact is an observation about him, not an accusation.

    I have explained at some length what I meant by my original comment and the sources it is based on. But you aren’t interested in discussing what I actually meant, you just want to complain about the particular form of words I used to express that meaning. Why?

  49. J-D
    April 14th, 2015 at 10:49 | #49


    Obviously entrance standards ought to be set at the standards that the convening professors determine are required so that a person has a realistic and reasonable chance of passing the course and becoming competent in the discipline.

    Maybe it would be a good idea if things worked like that (then again, maybe it wouldn’t). Good idea or bad idea, it’s not the way things actually do work now. For most Australian university courses, there is no fixed minimum standard of academic achievement that is a qualification for entry. Most Australian university students are admitted to their courses on the basis of an ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank), and a particular ATAR value does not correspond to any fixed standard of academic achievement.

  50. Ikonoclast
    April 14th, 2015 at 10:52 | #50


    I agree that universal access to post-secondary education is a good idea. I support it. I also support the idea that this access should be entirely free of fees in the public system just as access to primary and secondary education is free of fees. Of course, even public education is not entirely free. There are issues like textbook and stationary costs and minor levies of various kinds. We all know this.

    While access is universal, there must be academic entrance standards and continuing academic standards. These standards will mean access is not limitless in practice. I await J.Q.’s next inventive misunderstanding of my position with amused anticipation.

  51. Ivor
    April 14th, 2015 at 12:16 | #51


    What you meant was wrong. It lacks rigor. It implies something at variance with reality.

    If you tell someone with a Bachelors degree that they did not complete higher education – they may well regard this as a rude accusation.

    Similarly with school leaving certificates holders.

    This is up to the beholder – not the originator.

  52. jt
    April 14th, 2015 at 13:10 | #52


    Gawd I hope you don’t have kids. Your tanties are embarrassing. I’m not sure why the good Professor, who is your intellectual superior by many orders of magnitude, puts up with it.

  53. Tim Macknay
    April 14th, 2015 at 14:00 | #53

    A lot of your comments seem to be personal insults. Have you read this blog’s discussion policy?

  54. John Quiggin
    April 14th, 2015 at 14:16 | #54

    Yes, jt, I was just about to pull you up on that. Absolutely no further critical remarks about other commenters (no matter how mild you perceive them to be)

  55. John Quiggin
    April 14th, 2015 at 14:19 | #55

    To restate, existing “standards” aren’t designed to check ability to do the course. They are designed to ration a limited number of places. Unis pride themselves on boosting demand so that they can set the limit higher.

    I have no problem with course prerequisites which are, of course, a standard part of the system at every level. If you don’t do well enough in your course to go on, you are held back and required to repeat it.

  56. John Quiggin
    April 14th, 2015 at 14:34 | #56

    On another point, there has never been a general attempt to match the number of places in particular degrees to the demand for the workers in question. The one recent attempt to do that, restricting the number of doctors in the early 1990s, was a total disaster. No one has the knowledge to do this, and in any case, most people end up doing something other than what their degree name might suggest to the unwary.

    Of course, back in the day, there was a clear assumption that most kids should get the minimum education, and be turfed out at the end of Year 10, rather than create an oversupply of white-collar employees or, worse still, workers with ideas above their station.

    The idea that education policy should look back to the past for inspiration is both wrong and elitist.

  57. Megan
    April 14th, 2015 at 14:51 | #57

    @John Quiggin

    The idea that education policy should look back to the past for inspiration is both wrong and elitist.

    Speaking for myself, that wasn’t at all what my initial post on the thread said. It is a mischaracterization.

    In a nutshell: the point made in the OP was that privatized free-market for-profit tertiary education (the direction Australia has been taken in) was a complete failure. It was stated that, however, the answer wasn’t to go back to the “past”.

    My initial question was directed at that last bit. In other words, the system we got after lots of “reform” of the system how it used to be is a failure – so if we wanted to fix the failed system at the very least going back to the way it was before the neo-liberals messed it up seems at least an improvement.

    On the other hand, as JQ clarified above, it is an even better idea to skip that step and just go directly to “free” universally available unrestricted access for all to at least attempt a tertiary qualification or trade.

    I don’t disagree with that, my issue was with the general idea (not just on education but every other sphere which neo-liberalism has infected deleteriously) that “we can’t go back to how it was”.

  58. Ikonoclast
    April 14th, 2015 at 15:12 | #58

    A statement that tertiary education should be fee free as it was in the Whitlam is not the same as saying everything about tertiary education should be as it was in the Whitlam era. I don’t see how that misconstruction can be placed on it. Clearly, even in the Whitlam era, Australia was still attempting to increase tertiary education intakes from a very low historical base.

    “The idea that education policy should look back to the past for inspiration is both wrong and elitist.” This is only the case if you misconstrue that looking at one element and taking it as an inspiration is the same as looking back and saying absolutely everything now should be set back as it was then. Again this is a misconstruction.

    I have made it patently clear I want to see a fee free tertiary system funded at or above current intake levels. I have made it patently clear I want this system to be universal (available to all citizens) with entry based solely on course pre-requisites (to use J.Q.’s terminology). I have made it patently clear that I would see funding problems (if any) overcome by progressive measures like removing fossil fuel subsidies, removing negative gearing and removing corporate welfare. I made it patently clear I was open to argument and/or persuasion on the idea of attempting to match graduate professionals to projected economic need. I accept J.Q.’s argument on that proposition.

    I am not sure how much clearer I can be. How all this makes me wrong and elitist (from a left-ish democratic-soc perspective) I am at a loss to know.

  59. J-D
    April 14th, 2015 at 15:37 | #59


    Even if an accurate statement is rude that does not stop it from being accurate.

    High school education in New South Wales consists of six years, and has done since the 1960s: I make that statement on the authority of the source I cited previously, and I haven’t seen you cite any more reliable source.

  60. Ikonoclast
    April 15th, 2015 at 07:57 | #60

    I see Dr. Karl has backed away from the flawed Intergenerational Report.


    I was a strident critic of Dr. Karl for promoting that report (though I voiced that criticism only on this blog site). Whatever his faults and mistakes (and we all have them), I give him credit for seeing his mistake in this case and admitting to it.

  61. jungney
    April 16th, 2015 at 11:56 | #61

    I’ll need proof as Dr Karl is the type of person who can go into a revolving door behind you and come out in front.

  62. Donald Oats
    April 16th, 2015 at 21:06 | #62

    Ten refugees have given up all hope of settlement in Australia, and are going to be resettled in Cambodia, given a bank account with some cash, health insurance, and some assistance in learning the language(s), and support by a case officer who will be co-located in Cambodia.

    This strikes me as bizarre: if these people are of sufficient veracity to be accepted in Cambodia, and for the Australian government to provide financial and other assistance in Cambodia, then why aren’t these individuals just the kind of people Australia could safely welcome?

  63. alfred venison
  64. Megan
    April 16th, 2015 at 21:20 | #64

    @Donald Oats

    Because our fascist duopoly political class has decided that “they” must not be able to come here under any circumstances whatsoever.

    Informed public opinion is against Australia’s treatment of refugees by the duopoly, but because we don’t have a functioning democracy we are going to get more of this.

    I listened to today’s Senate Committee on the new amendments to the Immigration law which will give absolute immunity for the killing of refugees in our concentration camps.

    We need to ask ourselves: “Am I doing everything I can to stop this?”

  65. Megan
    April 16th, 2015 at 21:36 | #65

    Just in case anyone wants to suggest that is hyperbole, here is the proposed amendment.

  66. Megan
    April 17th, 2015 at 14:47 | #66

    The Navy is secretly, forcefully delivering a load of refugees to Vietnam according to the ‘West Australian’.

    What would happen if the ALP adopted a new and harsher anti-refugee policy involving live broadcasts of daily executions of, say, 10 refugees by machine gunning? It obviously wouldn’t affect the consciences of them or their voters.

  67. Donald Oats
    April 17th, 2015 at 20:34 | #67

    Apparently the Abbottians are looking at blocking VPNs, the purpose being to stop those pesky people purchasing video or music content cheaper than here in Oz. The Abbottians have failed to appreciate—or simply don’t care—that VPNs are also used for very legitimate purposes, especially for keeping confidential information…confidential. Or to extend a private network out into the wild world of the internet—virtually.

    The irony is that when people use a VPN to spoof their geo-location in order to purchase a movie/series they otherwise cannot get in Australia, the overseas media company complains that the Aussies are making the purchase…in…Australia; when the Australian Taxation Office finds the company has sent all its profits back to country Y, the company says that the parent company holds all the digital rights…in country Y, not in Australia, and so that’s where the buckets of digital cash are to be taxed.

    This is risible: if geo-location of physical customer determines the country-of-point-of-sale, then that’s also where the income should be taxed. Unbelievable.

  68. J-D
    April 18th, 2015 at 09:40 | #68


    That’s a good question.

    I can’t think of anything I can do to stop this. Can you think of anything I can do to stop this?

  69. Megan
    April 18th, 2015 at 11:52 | #69

    “Am I doing everything I can to stop this?”

    If it is to be stopped it will likely be because of many different factors or actions. Protests, non-violent direct action, civil disobedience, letter writing, discussing with and alerting others of the situation, using social media etc… – different people will want to do different things, whatever the individual is capable of or willing to try.

  70. Ivor
    April 18th, 2015 at 12:01 | #70

    Megan :

    What would happen if the ALP adopted a new and harsher anti-refugee policy involving live broadcasts of daily executions of, say, 10 refugees by machine gunning? It obviously wouldn’t affect the consciences of them or their voters.


    What would happen if Megan adopted a new and harsher anti-refugee policy involving live broadcasts of daily executions of, say, 10 refugees by machine gunning? It obviously wouldn’t affect her conscience or sect of voters.

  71. Megan
    April 18th, 2015 at 13:01 | #71


    The refugee who was bashed to death was put into offshore detention in a concentration camp opened by the ALP, under an ALP policy.

    The ALP doesn’t care about refugees, and in fact has a policy already which leads to their torture and deaths.

    “Crazy”, indeed.

  72. Ivor
    April 18th, 2015 at 13:19 | #72


    People in prisons unfortunately are bashed to death in a wide range of detention centres, jails and etc.

    As you know this is not ALP policy.

    It is not a policy involving live broadscasts of daily executions

    It does not involve machine gunning 10 refugees.

    And to suggest that such invented events would not affect ALP consciousness is a pure:


    Crazy indeed.

  73. Megan
    April 18th, 2015 at 15:00 | #73


    Are you suggesting there is a limit to the atrocities the ALP is willing to subject refugees to?

    I’ve seen no sign of it. Where do you suppose the limit is?

  74. Ivor
    April 18th, 2015 at 15:11 | #74


    Are you suggesting there is …..

    This sort of baiting is far too typical of this blog.

    As you knew when you wrote it – obviously, the answer was and is no.

  75. jt
    April 18th, 2015 at 16:00 | #75

    Essential Report, 8 July 2014, asked: ‘How would you rate the performance of the Federal Liberal/ National Government in handling the issue of asylum seekers arriving by boat?’ 41% indicated ‘good’, 18% ‘neither good nor poor’, 35% ‘poor’. Among Liberal/National voters, 76% rated the performance as ‘good’, 14% ‘neither good nor poor’, and 7% ‘poor’. This question was previously asked in March and the result represented a marginal increase is the proportion rating the performance as good (up from 39% to 41%), while the proportion rating poor declined (from 38% to 35%).

    A second question asked: ‘Do you think the Federal Liberal/ National Government is too tough or too soft on asylum seekers or is it taking the right approach?’ 27% responded ‘too tough’ (compared to 25% in March), 36% ‘taking the right approach’ (34% in March), 18% ‘too soft’ (a much higher 28% in March), and 18% ‘don’t know’ (13% in March). The ‘too tough’ option was indicated by 71% Greens voters, 46% Labor, and 5% Liberal/ National. ‘Taking the right approach was indicated by 7% Greens voters, 19% Labor, and 65% Liberal/ National.

    Democracy in action.

  76. Ivor
    April 18th, 2015 at 16:12 | #76


    Are you suggesting there is …..

    This sort of baiting is far too typical of this blog.

    As you knew when you wrote it – obviously, the answer was and is no.

  77. Megan
    April 18th, 2015 at 16:52 | #77


    So, in your view the ALP has gone absolutely as far as it is willing to go in the cruel and inhumane treatment of refugees and will go no further.

    I can’t see any basis for that view. The ALP has shown its willingness to be even crueler than the LNP previously.

  78. Ivor
    April 18th, 2015 at 17:00 | #78


    In your view …….

    This sort of baiting is far too typical of this blog.

    As you knew when you wrote it – the fabricated view you tried to hang around my neck is a black-propagandist fantasy of your own creation.

  79. Megan
    April 18th, 2015 at 17:11 | #79


    You obviously are aware of the ALP refugee policies that relate to incarceration of refugees.

    Maybe a direct question: Do you believe the ALP will alter those policies?

  80. Ivor
    April 18th, 2015 at 17:29 | #80


    This entirely depends on the strength of the ALP Left and progressives in the ALP and the various possibilities for changing mass community attitudes.

  81. Donald Oats
    April 18th, 2015 at 18:00 | #81

    Asylum seeker policy, in Australia, is broken. Many prisoners in Australia have better facilities, and they are convicted criminals. We don’t pack 30 prisoners to a room in domicile fashion, but for asylum seekers coming by boat we rack ’em and pack ’em. Some of these people will be in these facilities for longer than some criminals in prison, and yet they are packed into what should be last resort and extremely short term accommodation, the kind you might expect for flood or bushfire victims.

    Our government, and I don’t care who is in power on this, should take the asylum seeker issue and put it to a truly independent group to construct a workable policy that means we meet our international humanitarian obligations (rather than trying to legislate them away). No refoulment, no dodging our responsibilities. If the policy has some strategy for deterrence, or is a free-for-all, however that dial is set, it must not use people’s horrific misfortunes or maltreatment (in the camps) as a means of deterrence, whether deliberately or secondarily (i.e. incidentally). Surely some group of smart people can come up with something that could work and meet those minimal requirements?

  82. Megan
    April 18th, 2015 at 18:02 | #82


    I don’t hold any hope for anything “inside” the ALP.

    “Labor For Refugees” started in 2001 in response to the ‘Tampa’ affair, and they have remained staunch ALP supporters ever since – a period during which the ALP went from being opposed to offshore detention to implementing a policy of mandatory, indefinite, offshore detention and an absolute bar on settlement in Australia.

    The ALP policy is now even more cruel and inhumane than the worst treatment under Howard.

    I follow this closely and I see no hope whatsoever of improvement coming from within the ALP.

    To be in, or a supporter of, the ALP is to support those policies – the two things go together, they cannot be separated.

  83. jt
    April 18th, 2015 at 18:21 | #83

    Community attitudes are correct and not in need of change. I disagree with the Coalition on 95% of issues but they have successfully stopped people trafficking and the deaths at sea that were a direct and obvious result of a pro-asylum seeker policy.

    My only criticism is that we should be accepting more people who are suffering in poor countries on humanitarian grounds. But we should not privilege middle class asylum seekers over the hungry and malnutritioned.

    Since 2000, over 1,500 people have died at sea while trying to get to Australia, according to the Australian Border Deaths Database. Not one asylum seeker has died at sea since the Abbott government came to power. The asylum seeker who died in PNG was not the Coalition’s fault.

    Morrison and Abbott may well deserve a Nobel Peace Prize for successfully smashing the people smuggling racket and saving lives.

    It would be immoral to implement the mass murder asylum seeker policies favoured by the Green Death Squads.

  84. Megan
    April 18th, 2015 at 18:48 | #84

    We have no idea how many asylum seekers have died at sea since the LNP took over.

    Could be hundreds, could be thousands…the secrecy means we’ll probably never know.

  85. Ivor
    April 18th, 2015 at 19:14 | #85


    There are a range of sectarian micro-groups who sprout that line.

    All their accusations, characterisations, baiting and provocations are false and self serving.

    Their understanding of Marxism, capitalism and the mass movement is little and their impact so minute that they amplify their voices to compensate but to such levels of stridency that they become further isolated.

    They then blame everyone but themselves.

  86. Megan
    April 18th, 2015 at 19:37 | #86


    There are a range of sectarian micro-groups who sprout that line.

    Sorry, I’m not clear on that, could you say what “line” you refer to?

  87. Ivor
    April 18th, 2015 at 20:50 | #87


    How strange – you recited it…

    To be in, or a supporter of, the ALP is to support those policies

  88. Megan
    April 18th, 2015 at 21:19 | #88


    OK, thanks. I had said a few things and I wasn’t clear which “line” your comment referred to.

    So, you disagree with that assertion?

    I want to be clear so that you don’t think I am misrepresenting your thoughts.

    Are you saying that supporting the ALP is possible without supporting their policy of mandatory, indefinite, offshore detention and no settlement in Australia?

  89. Ivor
    April 18th, 2015 at 21:27 | #89



  90. Megan
    April 18th, 2015 at 21:44 | #90


    I’ve expressed this view before on this topic:

    The ALP says “Can we have a cruel and inhumane refugee policy and still count on your support?” and the supporter you describe says “Yes.”

    And the ALP says: “Great. Thanks. We’ll keep that policy then.”

    In practice, supporting the ALP is support for the policy.

  91. Ivor
    April 18th, 2015 at 21:52 | #91


    The ALP never said:

    Can we have a cruel and inhumane refugee policy and still count on your support?

    This was deliberate political falsification.

    The ALP never said:

    Great. Thanks. We’ll keep that policy then.

    This was a deliberate political falsification.

  92. Megan
    April 18th, 2015 at 23:52 | #92


    The ALP refugee policy is as I have described it.

    How can you argue that supporting the ALP is possible without – in practice – supporting that policy?

  93. Ivor
    April 19th, 2015 at 00:23 | #93


    The ALP policy is not remotely as you described it.

    Nothing you have said matches anything in the ALP policy.

    Masses of people support the ALP.

  94. Megan
    April 19th, 2015 at 00:54 | #94


    The APH has a paper about the refugee policies of both duopoly parties on its website.

    An extract:

    In June 2013 Kevin Rudd was reinstated as Prime Minister and subsequently announced even tougher measures with the following significant changes to Australia’s asylum seeker policy:
    •all asylum seekers (not a selected few) who travelled to Australia by boat with no valid visa would be sent offshore for processing and resettlement
    •those found to be refugees would not be resettled in Australia
    •people found not to be refugees would be returned to their home country (or a country where they had a right of residence) or held in a transit facility indefinitely and
    •Australian Federal Police would pay rewards of up to $200,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of people organising people smuggling ventures to Australia.

    So, under this policy all, not just some, asylum seekers who arrived by boat would be transferred to PNG for processing and if found to be refugees could also be resettled there. The Prime Minister made it clear that they would never be resettled in Australia. A similar agreement was later signed with the Government of Nauru in August 2013.

    Here is how I described the policy [at #87]:

    mandatory, indefinite, offshore detention and no settlement in Australia

    Do you see that the ALP policy is exactly as I described it?

  95. Megan
    April 19th, 2015 at 01:07 | #95

    If you accept that fact, can you answer the question I asked:

    “How can you argue that supporting the ALP is possible without – in practice – supporting that policy?”

  96. Ivor
    April 19th, 2015 at 08:35 | #96


    If you operated honestly then you would have been arguably correct in describing the ALP’s policy under Rudd as “mandatory, indefinite, offshore detention and no settlement in Australia”.

    However your conduct was not this. You ran a dirty sectarian campaign of snide false political innuendo.

    Mandatory indefinite detention only applies to some refugees.

    Why did you deliberately ignore the other options in your attempted description?

  97. Ivor
    April 19th, 2015 at 08:51 | #97


    Why did you ignore the actual policy which contains at various points:

    Labor will explore options other than indefnite detention including third country resettlement to deal with refugees with adverse security assessments in a way that does not jeopardise Australia’s national security interests.

    To this end Labor will ensure that applications for refugee status are processed speedily, fairly and impartially based on individual merits

    Increasing the humanitarian intake of genuine refugees from source and transit countries creates an orderly pathway to resettlement in Australia and provides asylum seekers with an alternative to irregular boat travel to Australia.

    Access to protection in countries of frst asylum and transit will be supported so as to reduce pressure for dangerous irregular movement

    Those found to be owed Australia’s protection under the Refugee Convention and other
    international instruments will be given permanent protection under the Migration Act 1958 and will be provided with appropriate settlement support and services

    Labor recognises that sport is an important platform for social inclusion in the settlement of young migrants and refugees, and can provide opportunities for engagement with their local community.

    Labor is committed to ensuring all levels of sport in Australia are inclusive of culturally and linguistically diverse Australians.

  98. Ikonoclast
    April 19th, 2015 at 09:02 | #98


    What confidence does Labor’s recent history give us that they will implement any of these policies? I would say none?

    The first point is a cop-out. “Labor will explore options other than indefnite detention including third country resettlement to deal with refugees with adverse security assessments in a way that does not jeopardise Australia’s national security interests.”

    The correct required policy is clear. Receive and process all refugees promptly and properly in Australia as per the UN conventions we are signatory to. Settle genuine refugees and repatriate those not found genuine under UN guidlines. Put in adequate resources to expedite this. It really would be very simple.

    There is no need to “explore options”. That is neocon code for “We are going to drag our feet and we aren’t going to make any substantial changes on this policy. The options are already clear.

    I am with Megan on this one. Labor has zero economic and moral credibility just like the LNP. Voting for either major party is voting for extreme right-wing neocon policies. One has to vote Green or Socialist if one wants to oppose neoconservatism.

  99. Ivor
    April 19th, 2015 at 09:46 | #99


    Whether ALP policy is adequate, or the extent it is implemented by departments and contracts, or legislation etc is an entirely different matter compared to the to the odious conduct of Megan.

    Policy can change, practices can change, community attitudes can change.

    Sectarians never do.

  100. Megan
    April 19th, 2015 at 10:08 | #100


    The issue was whether by supporting the ALP a person is, in practical effect, supporting the ALP refugee policy.

    Do you support the ALP refugee policy (either the really existing one, or the one they say they will “explore” in the future)?

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