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Monday Message Board

April 27th, 2015

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. Ivor
    April 27th, 2015 at 10:22 | #1

    Although it was originally based on the famous book, “Limits to Growth” it now appears that this is, finally, starting to occupy the minds of the more progressive elements in society.

    The ABC Ockham’s Razor program is a good example. I am tempted to post the whole transcript, but this would exceed the attention span of most bloggers.

    But here is the link:


    The real question is whether we can continue a capitalist economic system if there is a stationary or decreasing population?

    Obviously the population cannot continue forever simply because there is not enough land for people to stand on after 15 more doublings.

    Tough but true.

  2. Ikonoclast
    April 27th, 2015 at 12:04 | #2


    Broadly, I am in agreement with the message. The Erlichs’ formula requires modification I believe. Currently it stands as;

    I = PAT, or impact equals population times affluence times technology.

    It probably should be I = (PxAxDT)/(CTxSxE) or some such where the new terms are:

    DT = Dirty Technology (serious negative externalities).
    CT = Clean Technology (no serious negative externalities).
    S = Sustainable Substitutions.
    E = Efficiency gains.

    This is only a very, very rough attempt at modifying their formula but in principle we must admit that there are divisors as well as multipliers possible in the impact equation.

  3. John Mashey
    April 27th, 2015 at 12:57 | #3

    I see that Oz is acquiring an Australian Consensus Center i.e., Bjorn Lomborg.

    Somebody didn’t perform much due diligence I fear, but he’s all yours now, sad to say:


  4. Donald Oats
    April 27th, 2015 at 14:08 | #4

    @John Mashey
    Yeah, it was a “captain’s call”, something our Prime Minister Tony Abbott is fond of making. There are a lot of bemused ex-CSIRO scientists out there, sacked last year because of an alleged government budget emergency, and now the government stumps up $4 million cash to parachute Bjorn Lomborg in. It’s pretty hard to see this as anything but a political move by our “coal is good” Prime Minister.

    If only the slashed mental health charities could have $4 million parachuted in; if only the Indigenous literacy programs could see $4 million suitcases dropped off at the door; if only the de-funded regional health specialists could see a $4 million gift. If only.

  5. Ivor
    April 27th, 2015 at 14:23 | #5


    I tend to ignore pop-formula such as that one.

    The key reality is exponential growth.

    This is the core of capitalism (but not of socialism). The necessity of exponential growth of Capital, based on constant rate of profit, is what is forcing society to its own destruction.

    It is that simple.

  6. Florence nee Fed up
    April 27th, 2015 at 14:46 | #6

    This answer has nothing to do with economics or knowledge. My concept of Capitalism has always been one of boom and bust. Grows, destroys itself and new wave of capitalism emerges from the ashes. Depressions, in my uneducated belief is, are a part of the capital system. Yes, boom and bust. Therefore exponential growth is not needed. It is all about winners and losers. Never about the good of the people or nation.

  7. Florence nee Fed up
    April 27th, 2015 at 14:53 | #7

    Do not know if war and national disasters, causes capitalism to begin again, in relation to growth.

  8. Newtownian
    April 27th, 2015 at 18:43 | #8

    Ivor :
    I tend to ignore pop-formula such as that one.

    I=PAT is not a pop formula. It comes from legendary academic Paul Ehrlich who as still an excellent practicing biologist in his 80s know all about exponential growth, and his colleague John Holdren currently Obama’s Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. Holdren has also developed a variation to relate impacts to energy usage.

    At worst you could say its a metaphor but really all its saying is impact is a function/product of population affluence and technology.

    I=PAT is also a simple way to understand CO2 impacts – and how we need to control not simply emissions but their underlying causes, hence the importance of Limits to Growth.


    Separately its great to see you plugging the ABC talk based on Haydn’s book of the same name.

    A problem with LtG and I=PAT sustainability is its still mainly discussed with rare exceptions within the Ecological Economics community while more conventional (Environmental) Economists seem to sideline it that I’ve seen.

    An arguable exception is Tim Jackson’s Prosperity without Growth whose subtitle is in fact “The transition to a sustainable economy”. However if you look closely you will see a different beast to Haydn’s reflecting their different perspectives.

    That said Jackson is currently working with a well known Canadian ecological economist Peter Victor. One hopes they can help kick start the integration of ecological economics into the mainstream which is so badly needed and perhaps intrigue $Ikonoclast.

    And maybe in the interim John might beguile us with a comparison of Prosperity without Growth with Haydn’s take, he not being a newcomer to this razor wire fence.

  9. jungney
    April 27th, 2015 at 19:38 | #9

    @John Mashey
    We are acquiring a Lomborg Confusionista Centre. Just in time too as his interest in the quality of semen, sperm counts and quantity of ejaculate relative to frequency of masturbation and intercourse is exactly what Australia needs right now. See p 240 of ‘The Skeptical Environmentalist’ for totes TMI. The Danes, ya’ gotta love ’em.

  10. hc
    April 27th, 2015 at 22:11 | #10

    Could I just mention the disastrous situation in Nepal? I have worked there recently and know a little of the political situation there.

    Nepal is one of the poorest countries. It has not had stable central or local government for many years. It is in about as bad a position as any country I can imagine to handle this earthquake disaster – the lack of infrastructure and cohesive government a real constraint. The deaths, destruction of families and household property and the devastation of centuries old historical institutions is a crushing blow to a country that was already doing it very hard.

    Despite its problems the Nepalese are among the kindest, most welcoming citizens I have ever encountered. They will bounce back from this disaster but it will take a lot of time and much foreign aid effort. Foreign aid needs will extend well beyond the initial period of addressing this disaster. The immediate need, of course, is for cash.

  11. Ivor
    April 27th, 2015 at 22:13 | #11


    I half agree with you, but ..

    I have the same concerns over the SETI Drake equation. It pretends to offer an understanding that is actually not there. These devices, in different fields, are more emotional, subjective, politically distorted or just naïve, than useful.

    You may see some conceptual problems with Ehrlich’s formula when you try to put dimensions to each side of the equation.

    Tim Jackson, essentially follows the Cobb-Douglas structure where growth is implicit. He just wants to insert his factor “E” as well as the usual K and L. [pg 210-11]

    His understanding of capitalism is naïve [p200] and his understanding of options is inadequate. In fact he says:

    Exploring these otions in detail is beyond the scope of this book


    However “options” is what the world needs.

  12. Sancho
    April 29th, 2015 at 16:05 | #12

    In the aftermath of the executions, The Australian is pushing hard on Indonesia and I can’t guess their angle. Any other time The Oz is indifferent, if not supportive, toward punishing drug traffickers and of the death penalty itself.

    What’s their game? Setting the stage for the PM to get all shirt-fronty and look like leader in a showndown with Indonesia?

  13. Debbieanne
    April 29th, 2015 at 17:39 | #13

    That can’t/won’t end well!

  14. Megan
    April 29th, 2015 at 18:49 | #14


    My guess is that it is nothing more than cynical posturing for domestic political consumption.

    If they were seriously upset Australia would stop training Indonesia’s death squad, Kopassus.

  15. Sancho
    April 29th, 2015 at 19:36 | #15

    The Oz is an entirely ideological operation. I can’t see them going against type just for a quick bit of populism.

    My best bet is the Liberal Party and NewsCorp decided they could use the executions as a bit of political theatre about patriotism and generate a narrative about a regional bad guy to focus attention on when the government flounders next.

    You know, with us or against us, axes of evil…all the stuff the US did a decade ago, which seems to be the current government’s blueprint for here.

  16. Megan
    April 29th, 2015 at 20:46 | #16

    Yes, I wasn’t suggesting that News Corp was going rogue – I meant by “cynical posturing for domestic political consumption” pretty much what you said (LNP and Murdoch singing from the same song-sheet but purely cynically).

  17. Donald Oats
    April 30th, 2015 at 12:49 | #17

    Today, it is revealed that the Abbottians removed the statement of opposition to the death penalty from the high level guidelines that the AFP operate under: the Abbottians claim they did it so the AFP wouldn’t be constrained from international cooperation against terror plots—meaning they think it’s okay to execute terrorists.

    In other words, their opposition to the death penalty is conditional, depending on the nature of the crime. Now, in the situation where a mass murder by a would-be terrorist is known to be in the pipeline, I’m pretty confident that even with the previous statement of opposition to the death penalty, the AFP would have had the necessary freedom to say, on balance, we have to take into account the lives at risk if we do not cooperate internationally, so yes we will cooperate—even though it might put the would-be terrorist at risk of receiving the death penalty. And even if they didn’t have that freedom, I’m sure they could put the situation to the minister of the day, quickly and expeditiously, to get a clearance to act.

    In other words, removing the statement was a symbolic act, signalling the AFP to be free to risk the death penalty being applied to Australians who are convicted of some capital crime when overseas.

  18. Sancho
    April 30th, 2015 at 14:39 | #18

    Show me a group of Australian death penalty supporters and I’ll show you a group of LNP voters. The claim that capital punishment is abhorrent to a conservative government is breathtaking in its chutzpah, and that demonstrates it.

    Just think: if the police hasn’t been given the okay to expose Australians to the death penalty, there’d be no executions to leverage for political gain now.

  19. Tim Macknay
    April 30th, 2015 at 16:18 | #19

    Barnaby Joyce has come out in favour of the death penalty, arguing there should be a “debate” about it in Australia. Christ, what a troglodyte.

  20. Doug
    April 30th, 2015 at 18:46 | #20

    Worth keeping an eye on the court case in Qld on the Carmichael mine – the testimony of the Adani financial controller was breathtaking in its vagueness and obfuscation. Why would a bank lend money to such an incompetent company?http://www.theage.com.au/business/comment-and-analysis/adani-mining-feels-heat-over-14b-galilee-basin-coal-mine-gap-20150427-1mud1h.html

  21. zoot
    April 30th, 2015 at 20:24 | #21

    @Tim Macknay

    Barnaby Joyce has come out in favour of the death penalty, arguing there should be a “debate” about it in Australia.

    I was under the impression we had that debate years ago. Mr Joyce can’t have been paying attention.

  22. Megan
    April 30th, 2015 at 23:32 | #22


    I’m absolutely against capital punishment.

    However, if we’re going to have a “debate” I’d introduce the suggestion that if it were introduced the first up to the plate should be the people from the ALP who re-opened our refugee concentration camps and allowed the privatised abuse of children for profit and ideological ends.

    Not so fast Barnaby, next up would be the LNP people who continued it.

    Taking us into illegal wars of aggression (a la Nuremburg trials) could follow – ‘Hello’ John Howard.

    Hypocrites should really be careful what they wish for.

  23. jungney
    May 1st, 2015 at 09:03 | #23

    It appears that the rabbit hole has deepened in libertarian land: Leyonhjelm has apparently employed one Helen Darville, previously Helen Demidenko and author of ‘The Hand That Signed The Paper’. She has an article at the Gruad, utterly intellectually bereft, citing a preposterous cast of characters, in favour of ‘the right to offend’ instead of the right to free speech.


    But watch that space: libertarian space cadet advised by exposed fraud. Should be good.

  24. matt
    May 1st, 2015 at 09:45 | #24


    “absolutely happy to cap my production right now” … “and we’ll find the iron ore price goes straight back up to $US70, $US80, $US90”.

    “I’m happy to put that challenge out there – let’s cap our production right here and start acting like grown-ups,”


    Initial response –

    “Attempting to cap pricing or fix pricing, even making the attempt, is illegal,”

    Considered response –

    “The ACCC has taken into account Fortescue’s position that Mr Forrest’s comments were made “off-the-cuff” in response to audience questions, were hypothetical and intended to encourage a policy debate about the long-term future of the iron ore industry,”

    PATHETIC. I am not saying punitive measures are warranted – I don’t know the rules – but surely the reasons above cannot be the basis of a decision.

  25. Troy Prideaux
    May 1st, 2015 at 10:34 | #25

    Where’s the case for prosecution? I can’t see any flaws or inconsistencies with the explanation? How can you prosecute someone for just making a statement? Not only is there no case, the ACCC have lost numerous high profile cases where there was actually a case wasting countless millions of taxpayer dollars in the process. So we should waste more?
    Let’s also get some perspective here: it’s in the National interest for Fortescue to do well – they’re a *VERY* substantial contributor to providing the standard of living we enjoy today and they’re one of the very few large companies paying the full 30% company tax in this country plus state mining royalties and all the other taxes they’re obligated to pay.
    The gentleman making the statement is one of our top philanthropists who has committed to donate half his family’s fortune to charities and is one of (if not the greatest) contributor to Australian indigenous and regional communities in the country and is held in high regard for his morals and ethical practices.
    This isn’t a greedy mining tycoon making billions and wanting more – Fortescue are currently on their knees and again, it’s not in anybodies interests for such companies to go down.

  26. Tim Macknay
    May 1st, 2015 at 13:49 | #26

    @Troy Prideaux

    [Twiggy Forrest] is one of (if not the greatest) contributor to Australian indigenous and regional communities in the country and is held in high regard for his morals and ethical practices.

    What utter bollocks.

  27. Troy Prideaux
    May 1st, 2015 at 14:07 | #27

    @Tim Macknay
    Ok, the latter part of my statement can be debated, but I don’t think you can question his commitment to such communities.

  28. Donald Oats
    May 1st, 2015 at 14:08 | #28

    This article in New Matilda is a good one, exposing the schizophrenic nature of Australia’s supposed total opposition to the death penalty anywhere and any time. In short, we don’t really let the existence of the death penalty deter our AFP and other government organisations from working with international counterparts, horse-trading information of political value, as well as of police value.

    Politicians and diplomats will always seek ways of installing wiggle room in any agreements to share information with other countries of dubious judicial, political, and military practices. It will take some brave politicians in Australia, from all major parties, to get together and declare that Australia really does oppose the death penalty in all circumstances, no matter to whom it is applied or why. But we won’t.

  29. Tim Macknay
    May 1st, 2015 at 14:14 | #29

    @Troy Prideaux
    Forrest may well have a strong personal desire to help Aboriginal Australians, but there is a large amount of legitimate debate about the legitimacy of his approach, and what, if any, benefits it actually delivers.

    What is clear is that Forrest’s high profile commitment to assisting Aboriginal Australians has not done any harm to his public profile, nor is it likely to have adversely interfered with the approval processes for his various mining projects.

  30. Tim Macknay
    May 1st, 2015 at 14:16 | #30

    On consideration, I probably could have done with one less “legitimate” in that last comment.

  31. 2 tanners
    May 1st, 2015 at 14:54 | #31

    Regardless of Mr Forrest’s moral standing, he was as safe as houses on hic comment. Capping production in the hope of triggering a supply/demand response and capping or fixing pricing which requires oligopolistic or monopolistic powers, are chalk and cheese. The ACCC was on a hiding to nothing and the statement may well have been a huge face saving exercise for them.

  32. Sancho
  33. Sancho
    May 1st, 2015 at 16:10 | #33

    I’m not sure how one gets clearance to post links here without being sent to moderation limbo for eternity, but Glenn Greenwald has an article up on The Intercept about McIntyre, Turnbull and free speech.

    You’ll have to ask Google for it.

  34. Tim Macknay
    May 1st, 2015 at 16:15 | #34

    @2 tanners
    Yes, it’s difficult to see how Twiggy merely verbally expressing the desirability (from his point of view) of a cartel could violate Australian Competition Law, in the absence of any more substantial effort to bring about (and any real possibility of bringing about) an actual cartel.

  35. J-D
    May 1st, 2015 at 18:26 | #35


    Any comment with more than one link in it automatically goes into moderation; and if you start by hitting the ‘Reply’ button that creates one link to begin with.

  36. Megan
    May 1st, 2015 at 18:46 | #36

    I’m also not in the “Saint Twiggy” camp.

    He certainly talks a good talk, but the nitty-gritty is far too neo-liberal for me. And real live actual results don’t appear to be as good as predicted. Also, he advocates for lots of government money to go to private corporations rather than to individuals or being spent on government services.

    Here is a paper by an expert in the field. Dr Jordan’s conclusion (mostly focused on the “Forrest” report):

    The practical difficulties of the Forrest Review are rooted in a philosophical stance that represents the primary problem as one of ill-discipline borne of overly permissive government funding. According to the Review, while welfare recipients need to be disciplined through income management, the providers of publicly-funded employment and training programs must be disciplined by tying the bulk of their income to 26-week employment outcome payments. In the process, the Review argues, the power to dictate what training to offer must also be granted singularly to employers who say they can guarantee jobs.

    These philosophical underpinnings dramatically oversimplify the very complex realities of seeking to improve Indigenous employment participation. Just as not all welfare recipients have behavioural problems that can be solved through a Healthy Welfare Card, there are many barriers to employment that will not be overcome by linking training and employment services to 26-week outcome payments or prohibiting funding for training not attached to a guaranteed job. Instead of addressing these problems, the recommendation to replace existing services with VTECs risks undermining the sustainability of these services and what flexibility and responsiveness to client needs they still have.

    This is not an argument for the status quo. Nor is it intended to diminish the positive outcomes that can be achieved when providers seek partnerships with employers to match job seekers with identified jobs (whether through a VTEC, JSA, RJCP or the IEP). Crucially, however, such approaches ought to form part of much broader development strategies that are specific to needs in remote, urban and regional locations. For remote areas, in particular, these strategies must also include support for job-creation through small businesses and locally-directed community development projects and not just the training needs of pledged jobs elsewhere.

  37. Megan
    May 1st, 2015 at 22:02 | #37

    I’d be interested in JQ’s (and anyone else, too) view of this article by Andrew Cockburn.

    Put simply, the evidence suggests that killing the “Kingpin” of an organisation tends to increase rather than decrease the things the organisation was doing. The comparison he uses is the failure of the strategy in the “War on Dr*gz” and the “War on Terrrr”.

    Self-evident one would think. Therefore, are the people who keep advocating and running these concepts dumb zealots or evil zealots?

  38. Sancho
    May 1st, 2015 at 22:20 | #38

    Thanks. Mine are automatically moderated even with a single link. I’ve also noticed that there are a few non-obscene keywords that get mine binned.

  39. Megan
    May 1st, 2015 at 23:12 | #39


    One way around it (the banning of links) is to paste the link, but with the obvious bit missing or deliberately broken, e.g.:



    h t t p ://johnquiggin.com/2015/04/27/monday-message-board-277/#comment-256395

    Then anyone interested in the link can re-build it to see it.

  40. zoot
    May 1st, 2015 at 23:15 | #40


    Therefore, are the people who keep advocating and running these concepts dumb zealots or evil zealots?

    Or evil dumb zealots?

  41. Megan
    May 1st, 2015 at 23:20 | #41

    If it’s any consolation, I’ve been posting here for about ten years but in the last couple of years I’ve been banned from even posting a comment that links my name to my website in that field, the one that specifically asks for your website.

    But spambots get through quite regularly. Freedom is various and selective.

  42. Megan
    May 1st, 2015 at 23:24 | #42



    But I was trying to draw a distinction between the two. Either dumb or evil.

    I’d like to give them a choice. Which one, for example, is Obama? I’d say he isn’t “dumb” so that only leaves “evil”. And so on…

  43. Sancho
    May 2nd, 2015 at 00:25 | #43

    I am not consoled! Free speech means my most trivial thoughts must be broadcast unto the world without impediment or delay!

  44. Collin Street
    May 2nd, 2015 at 06:57 | #44

    > Which one, for example, is Obama?

    I mean, the us generals aren’t at the point of assassinating ministers who were insufficiently pro-chinese-peasant-murder, but I think obama is more aware than most that the military represents a political bloc as much as a tool of the state; acqiescence is not advocation.

  45. rog
    May 2nd, 2015 at 07:48 | #45

    It’s been reported in the Oz that Google is paying its way

    Technology giant Google last year paid $11.7 million in corp­orate tax to Australian government coffers, on revenue of $438.7m and profits of $58m.

    My steam driven calculator makes that a profit of 13.2%

    Other and possibly more reliable sources give a Net profit margin of 21.1%


  46. rog
    May 2nd, 2015 at 08:02 | #46

    Being a global company Google is able to shift resources to locations which are more profitable

    Google Australia managing director Maile Carnegie had conceded at earlier hearings that revenue gained by Google for advertising services from Australian customers was booked in Singapore, although she would not disclose the value of this revenue as it would be in “breach of US financial disclosure rules”.

    Mr Jordan said: “Whilst it is true that some tax is paid in Singapore, we believe it’s a very small amount as revenue booked in Singapore is moved to a tax haven, Bermuda, through a series of licensing fee payments. This means the majority of profits made in Australia end up in Bermuda where no tax is paid.”

  47. Megan
    May 2nd, 2015 at 08:15 | #47


    That would be the “Oz” that is owned by News Corp, another giant global corporation that pretends to “pay its way” tax-wise – but in reality does not.

  48. Ivor
    May 2nd, 2015 at 11:11 | #48


    If revenue is 438 million and profit is 58 million, then does this mean that costs were 380 million.

    Google does not have enough presence in Australia to incur spending 380 million pa. This is equal to around a workforce of 10,000 jobs.

    So what costs does the ATO accept? Obviously not Australian costs.

  49. Paul Norton
    May 2nd, 2015 at 11:24 | #49

    This is in today’s Fairfax papers.

    I think there is an elephant in the room here, namely that the original concept of HECS, and Richard Blandy’s 1979 proposal for a graduate tax that was an intellectual precursor to HECS, were based on assumptions about the labour market and the position of university graduates within the labour market that have largely ceased to be valid. Feminists would argue, and I would support the argument, that these proposals were also based on an implicit gendered assumption of the “graduate” as a male full-time breadwinner employed full-time without interruption from graduation until retirement.

  50. Collin Street
    May 2nd, 2015 at 13:12 | #50

    were based on assumptions about the labour market and the position of university graduates within the labour market that have largely ceased to be valid.

    But it was designed so that if those assumptions turned out to be false the cost would fall on the state, not the students. The students were insulated from any downside risk except lost time in the workforce.

    [My perspective is that any retrospective fee increase on graduates would be a “taking”, and that if it applied differently to people who went to uni when there were no fees and those who went when there was HECS it would be very very difficult to describe it as being on “just terms”.]

  51. Paul Norton
    May 2nd, 2015 at 13:26 | #51

    Collin Street @50.

    But it was designed so that if those assumptions turned out to be false the cost would fall on the state, not the students. The students were insulated from any downside risk except lost time in the workforce.

    Yes. However my point is that one founding assumption when HECS was introduced would have been that the proportion of graduates for which those assumptions turned out to be false would be quite small and that most graduates would soon find continuous and well-paid full-time employment sufficient to clear their debt and relieve the cost to the state relatively quickly.

    [My perspective is that any retrospective fee increase on graduates would be a “taking”, and that if it applied differently to people who went to uni when there were no fees and those who went when there was HECS it would be very very difficult to describe it as being on “just terms”.]

    I agree.

  52. Matt
    May 4th, 2015 at 00:03 | #52

    @Troy Prideaux

    Whats the case for prosecution?

    As I said, I am not sure there is one. I more or less agree with most of your points/rhetorical questions. My annoyance is over what they based their decision on. It is not about believing the issue should have been pursued further. IMO, Fortescues arguments* that it was

    1. hypothetical
    2. off-the-cuff
    3. intended to encourage a policy debate

    are very weak and should not have been taken into consideration in making a decision. Reminds me of the Abbott defence.

    I cannot see how one can say “let’s cap our production right here” is “hypothetical”.

    Same goes for “off-the-cuff”. Who decides whether it was “off-the-cuff”. He did give numbers (cap at 180mn tonnes “and we’ll find the iron ore price goes straight back up to $US70, $US80, $US90”). Only Forrest knows whether it was hypothetical or off-the-cuff.

    3 is immaterial.

    *These were comments made by Fortescue and were taken into consideration by the ACCC in their decision to not pursue further (and the only reasons given in the articles I read). The actual defence given by Fortescue…

    “The Fortescue chairman said at the time he could use an exemption in Australian competition law – section 51(2)(g) in the National Consumer Credit Protection Act – to suggest the nation’s big producers work together to cap production and improve market conditions.”

    The ACCC rejected this.

  53. Donald Oats
    May 4th, 2015 at 14:23 | #53

    Perhaps I’m being harsh in my characterisation of what the Australian Federal Police had to say today about the Bali 9, but it seems to me that:
    i) The AFP are claiming there was a rumour that Mr Rush tipped off the police about the drug smuggling, and that this rumour is false as the AFP were already aware of the operation;
    ii) The AFP did not have sufficient evidence of a crime being committed, or about to be committed, to arrest any of the Bali 9 before they left Australia;
    iii) Indonesian authorities were not given the complete list of suspects, for Myuran Sukumaran wasn’t on the list, even though he was one of the two senior criminals among the Bali 9.

    On point i), until the AFP raised this in today’s statement, I’d never ever heard of people thinking that Mr Rush’s attempt to protect his son was in some way a new tip-off to the police: every major news article I’ve read on the matter makes clear that the AFP were already aware and actively tracking the would-be drug smugglers. To me, this feels like the AFP is deliberately muddying the waters.

    On point ii), if the AFP had insufficient grounds to arrest any of the Bali 9 on any criminal charge at all, while they were still in Australia, then I fail to see how the AFP had any business passing on “suspicions” about some Australians travelling to Bali, especially when those suspicions, if eventually proven true, would put those Australians at risk of the death penalty. I would hate to think that just because our police thought I might be going to commit a crime in Indonesia, they would actually convey that to Indonesian authorities, or any other foreign state. Especially so for states with known corruption problems.

    On point iii), if this is proven correct (the Indonesians claim it to be the case), then this really does give the appearance of the drug mules being offered up to Indonesian authorities, but that the existence of the “boss” of the Bali 9 was being protected, in the hope that he would escape Indonesia back to Australia, and lead the AFP to the higher-ups when he tried to explain to them what went wrong. Perhaps I’m being too cynical here, but I need to see more detail from our side of the fence, and from the Indonesians, before dialling the cynicism down a notch.

    Clearly it is very challenging work which the AFP do at the international level. They presumably operate under ministerial direction, within the rules laid out, and from what has come out about the Bali 9, those rules are very elastic with respect to placing Australian citizens, who have committed no crime on Australian soil, under suspicion in a foreign country for crimes punishable by execution. Back in 2005 when this all unfolded, the then prime minister PM John Howard was quite explicit in his desire for the Bali bombers to receive the death penalty under Indonesian law; while Howard was walking a political high wire on that, it also sent a signal to the AFP about what the government would tolerate with respect to Indonesia and Indonesian judicial process, and the application of the death penalty. The cynic in me says that this wasn’t an oversight by the government, far from it.

    I feel very strongly that no state should impose a death penalty on any person, for any reason at all, even for terrorism atrocities. Executing people is revenge and retribution of the Old Testament variety, not that I’m religious. I see no place for it, irrespective of whether the convicted person can be rehabilitated or not. Meting out an atrocity, because of an atrocity, should have no place in civilised society.

  54. J-D
    May 4th, 2015 at 19:11 | #54

    @Donald Oats

    ‘Executing people is revenge and retribution of the Old Testament variety’

    I’m curious about why you chose to write precisely that instead of any of the many different things you could have written, such as one of the following (just to illustrate the possibilities):
    ‘Executing people is nothing but revenge and retribution’
    ‘Executing people is completely inhumane, nothing but revenge and retribution’
    ‘Executing people is revenge and retribution of the archaic variety’
    ‘Executing people is revenge and retribution of the medieval variety’
    ‘Executing people is revenge and retribution, Mafia-style’
    ‘Executing people is revenge and retribution of the Biblical variety’
    ‘Executing people is revenge and retribution of the Quranic variety’
    ‘Executing people is revenge and retribution in the style of the Book of Revelation’
    ‘Executing people is revenge and retribution in the style of Romans 13:4’

    There must be some reason why you chose specifically to insert a reference to the Old Testament, and I do wonder what it was.

  55. Ikonoclast
    May 4th, 2015 at 19:52 | #55


    He is making a specific point.

    “For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.” – Romans 13:4 – New International Version.

    He is pointing out that those who think they are God’s servants and our masters also think they have a right to take our lives.

  56. Ikonoclast
    May 4th, 2015 at 20:13 | #56

    I should have added Romans 13:4 is in the spirit of the Old Testament so Donald is pretty much making that point. You seem to not be able to understand metapohors and allusive language. Unless a point is totally literal you dont get it.

  57. Ivor
    May 4th, 2015 at 20:55 | #57

    “Bible genocide” seems to be spread throughout the Bible.

    It certainly suited the needs of early capitalist colonialism.


    I am not aware of a comprehensive compilation.

  58. Ivor
  59. Florence nee Fed up
    May 4th, 2015 at 21:22 | #59

    Why not the obvious fact, executions are mainly carried out for political motives/reasons.

  60. Collin Street
    May 4th, 2015 at 21:24 | #60

    Did anyone ask the AFP about their duty of care wrt australian citizens accused of crimes?

    Also. When australia carried out death-penalty executions, there was — obviously — a common-law provision meaning that the killings were not a crime, same as working as a prison guard doesn’t make you a part of conspiracy to engage in false imprisonment.

    The mechanism for execution doesn’t operate in australia any more, but “it was an execution of sentence under applicable law” remains a defence for homicides where the actual killing was carried out overseas.

    I think that that recognition should cease, and state killings judged by the same standards — necessity, self-defence, etc — as private ones.

  61. Ivor
    May 4th, 2015 at 21:32 | #61

    Florence nee Fed up :

    Why not the obvious fact, executions are mainly carried out for political motives/reasons.

    Such as to set up a Caliphate or to exterminate those of a different faith.

  62. Florence nee Fed up
    May 4th, 2015 at 21:56 | #62

    Yes. I was talking in a universal sense. Not tied to any religion, culture or race.

    One has only to go back and look at the last hanging in this country. Pure politics was at play. I would be surprised if many disagreed.

  63. zoot
    May 4th, 2015 at 22:33 | #63


    Such as to set up a Caliphate or to exterminate those of a different faith.

    In Texas?

  64. Ivor
    May 4th, 2015 at 22:52 | #64

    zoot :

    In Texas?

    yes – 76 of one religion were wiped out in Texas.

    They were possibly trying to set up a Caliphate-type enclave.

  65. zoot
    May 5th, 2015 at 00:13 | #65


    yes – 76 of one religion were wiped out in Texas.

    76 executions – that’s a long queue for the lethal injection room. Do you have a link?

  66. Ivor
    May 5th, 2015 at 00:53 | #66


    I don’t think it was executions. They were burnt alive although some may have been shot.

  67. zoot
    May 5th, 2015 at 02:27 | #67


    I don’t think it was executions.

    But @61, you quoted Florence nee Fedup writing specifically about executions.

  68. J-D
    May 5th, 2015 at 07:04 | #68


    Romans 13:4 (which I mentioned myself) is not part of the Old Testament. It is part of the New Testament. Your statement that it is ‘in the spirit of the Old Testament’ is patently false, since there is no such thing as ‘the spirit of the Old Testament’. Different parts of the Old Testament are plainly written in radically different and even opposing spirits. However, nowhere in the Old Testament does it say anything in the same spirit as ‘governments do God’s work when they punish people’, which is essentially what Romans 13:4 is saying. The impression I get (perhaps incorrectly) is that you (and perhaps also likewise Donald Oats) are thinking of an attitude or spirit that you don’t like and then erroneously attributing it to the Old Testament, possibly as a result of inadequate familiarity with the enormous diversity of the Old Testament.

    And what makes me curious about this is that evil attitudes can be decried just as effectively without associating them with the Old Testament. Why bring the Old Testament into it at all? What value does it have as an indicator or reference point (for any kind of attitude or ethos)? Where do people get that idea from?

  69. Ikonoclast
    May 5th, 2015 at 07:51 | #69


    Donald said it. I get it. You don’t get it. That’s fine. We are all different.

  70. jt
    May 5th, 2015 at 07:58 | #70

    Did anyone see the 4 Corners program last night on farm and factory foreign labour?

    The underpayment and non-payment of foreign workers;
    sexual assault;
    sexual favours and payment demanded in exchsange for work and visas;
    people forced to work 7 days a week for up to 22 hours a day;
    foreman and business owners calling workers “retards” etc;
    workers peeing their pants because toilet and drink breaks are rarely permitted;
    bosses demanding Asian only (Europeans are apparently less likely to tiolerate subhuman treatment);
    workers crying in pain because their hands are numb but being forced to keep working;
    workers sacked for complaining of sexual harassment.

    I remember Senator Abetz complaining that young dole recipients should be doing these jobs. Yeah right.

  71. Ivor
    May 5th, 2015 at 08:52 | #71


    There are various senses to ‘executions”.

    I was only responding to the wacko claim about some queue to “the lethal injection room”.

    You are playing noxious word games.

    You are a troll.


  72. Ikonoclast
    May 5th, 2015 at 09:05 | #72


    In addition, it is well understood in Christian theology that the Old Testament represents the spirit of judgement and punishment and the New Testament represents the spirit of grace and forgiveness. For those of us from a Christian or lapsed Christian background these concepts are perfectly clear. We know exactly what Donald Oats means. He makes perfect sense. You on the other hand manage to be both pedantic and incorrect.

  73. Ivor
    May 5th, 2015 at 10:35 | #73


    Yes, it was a very weak program.

    It did not follow-up on what the police did when a complaint was made to them.

    It did not seek out what action various State and federal governments were doing or knew.

    It did not pursue the grocery industry rep. who seem to know all about these issues – but did nothing.

    It only grabbed the sensational aspects, created a bit of drama for TV, for their own career journalistic purposes.

    The right-wing union reps. were just as weak.

  74. J-D
    May 5th, 2015 at 19:30 | #74


    The idea that the Old Testament represents the spirit of judgement and punishment and the New Testament represents the spirit of grace and forgiveness is familiar even to some people (like me) who are neither Christians nor lapsed Christians. But the idea is false, and should be challenged, not promoted.

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