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Monday Message Board

October 30th, 2017

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. Svante
    October 30th, 2017 at 10:54 | #1

    Farmers For Climate Action have a change org petition “Rescind Adani’s Unlimited Water License and support Aussie farmers!”. Their latest video, out last Thursday, is specifically critical only of Palaszczuk. But who are they gonna turn to? Due to the change to compulsory exhaustive preferences for this election are they snookered just as Anna 2 has done for Qld Labor.


  2. david
    October 30th, 2017 at 13:22 | #2

    All you lawyers as I read the High Court on the citizenship of Canavan[uccci] it seems to have found the evidence of his Italian citizenship was not convincing and left it open for a latter contest if the evidence of the Italian law becomes clearer or other facts come to light.

    The principle of res judicata does not apply in this jurisdiction ?

  3. Lou Wilson
    October 30th, 2017 at 15:53 | #3

    Well, the 16 year olds are doing some crossover this week between economics and history, taking a look at mercantilism. So here goes…

    Mercantilism was the search for economic world domination. This zero sum approach to trade ruled the mindset of powerful nation states from the 1500s through the 1700s.

    European monarchs would stand over maps of the known World with their advisers. And demand ideas on how to get one over their cousins, i.e. the rulers of rival states. Simply declaring war and invading those states, while tried and tested, was becoming a little passé. The smart counsellors and merchants at court saw their opportunity. ‘How about we beat them economically as well, Sire?’

    Now the in-bred kings, queens, and dukes weren’t always the sharpest tools in the shed. But they thought this a splendid idea! And so, mercantilist to-do lists were drawn up: Establishing colonies to monopolise access to resources. Hoarding gold and silver to the exclusion of rival powers. Subsidising exports and putting tariffs on imports. And, banning foreign trading ships from national coastlines and ports.

    Mercantilism also provided an economic justification for actual warfare. Denying the trade of other states, through controlling shipping lanes, blockades, and gunship diplomacy, became fashionable naval pastimes of the era. Along with the lash and wearing pantaloons.

    And expanding state merchant fleets, carrying goods and doubloons to and from their colonies, became a tempting target for pirates, who flourished. So without mercantilism, we probably wouldn’t have its legacy of pirate culture. No Captain Pugwash. No mid-career boost for Johnny Depp. And no International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

    Mercantilism increased national wealth and power for some in the short term. There were only two extraordinarily big problems with it. First, everyone was trying at the same time to force exports while preventing imports. This wasn’t sustainable. And second, consumers were paying higher prices for goods. As mercantilism prevents efficient trade between states. Eventually, Adam Smith and David Ricardo came along to preach trade based on comparative advantage, and mercantilist policies became less common.

    We now have ‘neo-mercantilism’ in some countries – excessive levels of protectionism and state support for exports, capital controls and so on. China is a prime example. But where mercantilist sentiment exists these days it seems as much defensive as assertive – to manage domestic reactions to globalisation, to protect strategic industries, and to increase foreign currency reserves. It’s not mainly about giving the King of Spain a poke in the eye anymore. Meaning mercantilism’s true glory days have passed.

  4. Ronald
    October 30th, 2017 at 18:00 | #4

    Svante, supporting the Greens would help.

  5. Irrregular
    October 30th, 2017 at 18:15 | #5


    This is a good question… Ideally I like to see all the anti adani people targeting all the pro adani parties… not just Labor.

  6. Svante
    October 30th, 2017 at 20:08 | #6


    But how can the Greens be supported without preference flows then supporting Labor supporting Adani?

  7. Svante
    October 30th, 2017 at 20:29 | #7


    Perhaps at the next election. Labor is the only pro adani party that has broken solemn undertakings given last election specifically concerning adani. Anna 2: two faced, too clever, to go.

  8. D
    October 30th, 2017 at 23:53 | #8

    2 similar scenarios with 2 different conclusions:

    #1 A majority of the vote for Catalan independence, but less than 50% of the electorate.

    Not legitimate.

    #2 A majority of the vote for SSM, but less than 50% of the electorate.


    How can anyone make that argument, it’s either both or neither surely?

  9. October 31st, 2017 at 07:08 | #9

    Independence is a major constitutional question. Every sentient adult citizen in Catalonia (or Scotland or Slovenia …) should have a position, and most do or did. SSM is a policy one, and not everybody cares much one way or the other.

    You can also make a strong case that the bar for constitutional changes should be higher than simple majorities, and this holds in many countries that have formal procedures for constitutional amendment. I mentioned Slovenia because in their independence referendum in 1990, 88% voted in favour. That was a very clear case of the popular will.

  10. Smith
    October 31st, 2017 at 08:14 | #10


    One is a referendum with anonymous voting at polling places (but conducted under oppressive conditions for some voters), the other a survey conducted by a statistical agency with no controls on whether the person named on the survey form is the person who fills it out. It’s apples and oranges. (And either way has no bearing on the merits of Catalan independence or SSM.)

  11. Greg McKenzie
    October 31st, 2017 at 08:35 | #11

    As an avid reader of history, I was fascinated by Lou Wilson’s take on Mercantilism. I have an economists point of view that incorporates moral philosophy. The Ancient Romans made mercantilism work to enrich their Republic and early empire. The Emperor Diocletin needed certainty for his tax base and virtually killed off mercantilism by introducing feudalism. Now the early kings waged war continually using tax revenue from the rural fuedial barons. Until Magna Carta these Kings had absolute tax powers. Slowly powerful kings subdued minor princes and brought some forced periods of peace. Then the plague virtually wiped out trade between countries. Only after this time did Mercantilism rise again. Here is where it’s Lou Wilson’s narrative fits into global history. After the last Mongol invasion of the Silk route, under Timur, the European countries settled down to matters of trade domination. This continued for about 500 years. First the French, then the Italian states (but particularly Venice and Genoa ), then the Ottoman Turks, then Portugal, then Spain and finally England had a go at “ruling the waves” of mercantilism trade routes. This is explained by Lou Wilson’s narrative.
    The French physiocrats were the first to identify the weaknesses of mercantilism. They honed in on Royal monopolies and hoarding. Adam Smith toured through France before their revolution and took back these criticisms to Britain. Smith was a moral philosopher first and the “father of modern economics” second. He blasted monopolies of every kind, particularly if they were foreign. His Principle of Absolute Advantage wa the first anti-mercantilism trade theory. David Ricardo was the first real English economists. He corrected Smith’s theory with his Principle of Comparative Abvantage. This and Ricardo’s opportunity cost analysis are still the theoretical foundations of Free Trade theories today.

  12. Lou Wilson
    October 31st, 2017 at 11:43 | #12

    Greg, thanks for bringing a nicely nuanced perspective that brings in the broader sweep of history. My son will lap it up.

  13. John Quiggin
    October 31st, 2017 at 11:50 | #13


    The Catalan referendum raises lots of issues beyond the question of what kind of majority is needed. The standard ones in cases of this kind are: should people in Spain but outside Catalonia have a vote? If not, should parts of Catalonia that want to remain Spanish be able to do so?

    As for the SSM survey, I think the only person in Australia who will regard it as legit is Turnbull. Supporters of equal marriage never wanted the survey, while the No camp were only using it as a delaying tactic and will of course disregard the result, assuming it goes against them.

  14. david
    October 31st, 2017 at 16:35 | #14

    Oh dear Tasmanian Steven Parry, the Senate’s President, has indicated his father was born in England !
    His dual citizenship has nothing to do with being Tasmanian.
    That great lawyer Brandis is currently defending him good luck Steven !

  15. J-D
    October 31st, 2017 at 18:18 | #15

    Was there somebody who was arguing that #2 was legitimate but #1 was not? Who?

  16. rog
    November 1st, 2017 at 02:15 | #16
  17. rog
    November 1st, 2017 at 05:17 | #17

    More irony; the embattled Whyalla steel maker Arrium (who Adani claim to be in contract with) has been bought by Sanjeev Gupta who wants to spend up to $700M on renewable energy.


  18. John Quiggin
    November 1st, 2017 at 08:10 | #18


    I’ll have a piece on this in The Guardian, hopefully today

  19. Smith
    November 1st, 2017 at 08:25 | #19

    @John Quiggin

    “should parts of Catalonia that want to remain Spanish be able to do so?”

    The Ulster Solution has a poor track record.

  20. Smith
    November 1st, 2017 at 08:27 | #20


    It’s funny how he only just discovered his father was born in England.

  21. Svante
    November 1st, 2017 at 09:44 | #21


    Irony continues at incredible levels!

    ABC News reports: ‘I only found out yesterday’: Minister denies coal-fired power cover‑up.

    “Queensland Energy Minister Mark Bailey has denied covering up a report that outlines the benefits of building a coal-fired power station in north Queensland.

    The report was commissioned by the Energy Department and finalised in February but not released publicly.

    It suggested a new coal-fired power station could provide a large-scale source of storable, reliable and diversified energy…”

  22. Svante
    November 1st, 2017 at 10:08 | #22

    Bizarre Rog? It would be most unusual if the pollies personally got nothing out of it – bau. Note Townsville Mayor, Jenny Hill, secretive about everything it seems, also won’t release the KPMG cost-benefit analysis of the Adani airstrip deal that she commissioned.


  23. david
    November 1st, 2017 at 12:28 | #23

    Being a Tassie detective and all eh Gov. ? Taking advice from odious George and Justine Gleeson’s replacement I suspect.

  24. david
    November 1st, 2017 at 12:29 | #24

    My apologies to Justin Gleeson SC a person I respect.

  25. David Allen
    November 1st, 2017 at 13:22 | #25

    The current federal gov hasn’t done much I can think of that is in any way good. What they have done is push a whole lot of legislation designed to punish their critics and ideological enemies.
    1. Attack on industry super
    2. Attack on charities advocating
    3. Attack on unions
    4. Attack on whistle blowers
    5. Attack on protesters
    6. Framing all dissent as ‘terrorism’
    the list goes on

    What a nasty bunch of grubs they all are.

  26. Tim Macknay
    November 1st, 2017 at 16:23 | #26


    How can anyone make that argument, it’s either both or neither surely?

    If one did choose to make that argument, a fairly straightforward way to do it would be to point out that the Catalan independence referendum was illegal, as determined by the ruling of the Spanish Constitutional Court, whereas the Australian marriage equality survey was legal, as determined by the ruling of the High Court of Australia.
    But as others have pointed out, it’s an argument that no-one seems to be making.

  27. Tim Macknay
    November 1st, 2017 at 16:45 | #27

    Another difficulty with your comparison is that the ABS has reported that, at last count, 77% of the electorate had returned results to the Australian marriage equality survey. So your scenario in which less than 50% of the electorate participate in the marriage equality survey is a fictitious one.

  28. Stockingrate
    November 1st, 2017 at 19:09 | #28

    @John Quiggin
    “I think the only person in Australia who will regard it as legit is Turnbull. ” But why do you think the high response rate doesn’t suggest legitimacy?

  29. D
    November 2nd, 2017 at 23:46 | #29

    No, the “less than 50% of the electorate” refers to those who voted in favour of each question.

    Going on the rough guide of previous polling (about 60% in favour), even with 77% of the electorate voting the “yes” vote is likely to be less than 50% of the whole.

    Same thing applied in Catalonia – majority of those who voted were “yes” but the total of “yes” was less than 50% of eligible voters.

  30. Tim Macknay
    November 3rd, 2017 at 12:51 | #30

    In the Catalonian referendum, the total turnout was less than 50% of eligible voters.

  31. Svante
    November 3rd, 2017 at 23:47 | #31


    Bizarre? Irony? And topped at weeks end by theatre of the absurd kind with a premier release feature attempting deflecting spin about claims the LNP is spreading a rumour! Unbelievable! From an ABC journalist:


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