53 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. Hi John,

    How about that privatisation of the UK’s Royal Mail?
    How long before it’s not profitable, prices are raised, public disaffection grows, the buyer(s) blame the government, the public blames the government for privatising, and it’s nationalised again?
    I would say ~6 years.

  2. @Corban

    All correct, except for the last point. It won’t be re-nationalised. Once private enterprise (read vast undemocratic, oligarchic corporations) get their hands on something the public don’t get it back unless it makes massive losses. Then the public bail them out and they make their profits anyway.

  3. A flurry of concern about an estimated 200 young Australians with duel nationality (Syria/Lebanon) joining the ‘terrorist’ opposition to the Assad regime. ALP (Melbourne Ports) MHR Michael Danby kicked off, closely followed by ex-Sen Bob Carr, each concerned about what potential jihadists will bring back to Australia. They want a ban. Fair enough but what about young duel Australian/Israeli passport holders returning to sign up with the IDF for duties in the Occupied Territories? No comparison? Anti-semitic smear? No hot war?

  4. Apart from a tiny mention on Canberra Times and an apparently now deleted intro to an AFR piece, I see the Australian etsablishment media is ignoring the hacking criminal trials of Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson and six others.

    Trial starts tonight our time. Internet is all over it, as are all the rest of the world’s serious media.

  5. Great link, Donald. My father was a physicist so I grew up in a house where Relativity was part of the wallpaper, I didn’t realise it had ever upset anyone, or could. I’m almost tempted to start seeding climate debates with quotes from the relativity deniers. Like to join a conspiracy?

  6. Apparently the Liberals have removed all their references to Abbott speeches more than two years old. That would include the one containing his support for a carbon tax.

  7. @Ikonoclast

    A typical “glass half empty”, wining (another chardonnay, thanks) socialist misrepresentation, mate. The villain is the government in your scenario.

    With typical inefficiency, the government runs the organisation in question at a loss for a hundred years. The losses go into a conveniently available black hole and fake profits are published by an ever-compliant ABC. An unsuspecting “mums and dads” corporation, as a public service and in accordance with it’s Mission Statement, offers $X billion based on the fake profits. Normally of course, it can provide a cheaper, more efficient service because of it’s dedicated, above-awarded, non-union employees and no nonsense, rolled-up sleeves, management team (any ivory towers having been traded in for a School of Hard Knocks.)

    Within six years (according to Corban but what would HE know), despite modest price increases and service fat trimming, the corporation hits the wall – a bit like Tony, really.

    The share price plummets, rallies briefly when Management (note the new capital “M”?) assures the stock exchange that they’ve divested themselves of all of their stock at least 6 months previously, but then, for some reason, plummets again.

    Suddenly, the evil government, appears out of the free market gloom like a great white circling a wounded whale but dressed in white knight armour, generously offers half of $X billion to continue the essential service AND preserve the jobs of the dedicated staff as well as suggesting that there may be jobs for some of the previously sacked inefficient public servants (apologies for tautology). Jobs, jobs, jobs! Ya can’t argue with that, eh?


    Socialist government finishes up with the public facility that can’t pay for itself (I mean, look at Centrelink, fer gods’ sake!) but it IS up half of $X billion! QED. (I wonder if readers younger than 40 …50? know what “QED” means?)

    As Packer said, “Ya only get an Allan Bond once in a lifetime”.

    Of all of John’s respondents, Ikonoclast, I look for your contribution.

  8. I think “four score and ten” = 90, so he fell short of that. Dude made some cool songs. That’s about all I’ll judge him on…

  9. @Rob
    OK, OK. So “four score and ten” was wrong. God, you bloody pedants!
    My point was that he’s still done better on smack, coke and grass than yer average biblical theist, OK?

  10. @Ikonoclast
    Sir, you are a surf-o-plane in a sea of swill; you bring order to a chaos of comment.

    My wife & I? We are not amused so “amusement” is not on the agenda.
    And why, may I ask parenthetically not to mention philosophically, is the glass “less than half full” as you say when it can be simultaneously “less than half empty” as I think it is?

    There are more things in heaven and earth ….

  11. Looking forward to David Folkenflik’s new book.

    Who would have believed that Murdoch staffers were sock-puppets?

    On the blogs, the fight was particularly fierce. Fox PR staffers were expected to counter not just negative and even neutral blog postings but the anti-Fox comments beneath them. One former staffer recalled using twenty different aliases to post pro-Fox rants. Another had one hundred. Several employees had to acquire a cell phone thumb drive to provide a wireless broadband connection that could not be traced back to a Fox News or News Corp account. Another used an AOL dial-up connection, even in the age of widespread broadband access, on the rationale it would be harder to pinpoint its origins. Old laptops were distributed for these cyber operations. Even blogs with minor followings were reviewed to ensure no claim went unchecked. [Murdoch’s World, pg. 67]

    Safe to assume they do it here in Australia too, along with all their like-minded neo-con “think tanks”.

  12. Abbott has outsourced the running of the economy to business mates and carried on as if still in opposition where his main goal was to cause damage to Labor.

  13. @Megan

    My darling still gets the Saturday Hun despite my orders not to, and I read the ‘letters’ page which had some really suss comments about Bolt’s interview with the mad monk. Most began with a sentiment such as, ‘never liked Tony much but now after his brilliant answers to your top reporter I’m sold, Australia’s obviously in good hands!’ Struck me then they have some intern belting out this tripe.

    On the topic of Lou reed I saw him at Festival Hall I think in 1977. It was awful. Musically terrible, half played some songs, told the booing audience where to go and generally was an angry so and so. Listened a compilation this afternoon and enjoyed it.

  14. I hope to stimulate some discussion, under the Dictionary rubric, about the problematic use of “conservatives” as the conventional collective term for the political right.

    Every time that someone from the left sanctions the right’s ownership of the term by using it to describe, say, Andrew Bolt, or Tony Abbott, they are conferring on the right a significant advantage that they are not entitled to.

    This may seem a trivial thing, but I don’t think it is. Words are often loaded with connotations and implications that we are scarcely conscious of, but which nevertheless influence our reasoning and attitudes.[1]

    Along with the primary dictionary meaning of reluctance to accept radical change, “conservative” conveys additional meanings:
    benign; cautious; considered; kind; moderate; rational; reasonable; respectful of persons, institutions and traditions; safe; thoughtful; trustworthy.

    These words apply more aptly to, for instance, Senator Doug Cameron, than to Senator Cory Bernardi, yet most people would identify the latter as the “conservative”.
    Similarly, they apply more aptly to Phillip Adams than to Piers Akerman.

    Defending the hard-won rights of unionists is conservative; seeking to nobble unions is not.
    Insisting on the right of farmers to bargain collectively with retail chains is conservative; outlawing collective negotiations is not.
    Respecting the independence of our judiciary is conservative; legislating to pre-empt court processes is not.
    Maintaining collective ownership of infrastructure is conservative; selling State assets is not.
    Valuing the natural heritage of a wild river above the mining of a common mineral is conservative; destroying prime farmland for CSG is not.

    The right claims for itself “social conservatism”, but resisting the removal of social exclusions based on religion, gender, race or sexual preference is not conservative; insisting on a “fair go” is conservative.

    Of course, some on the right are genuinely conservative: Malcolm’s Fraser and Turnbull, John Hewson. On the other hand, John Howard, Tony Abbott and Campbell Newman employ social conservatism as a cloak for their radical agendas.

    But the left should speak about those now dominant on the right in appropriate terms: contemptuous of tradition; destructive; determined; disrespectful of institutions; exploitative; extreme; fundamentalist; ideologically-driven; radical; right-wing; risky.

    The left needs to take back “conservative”.

    fn1: I tentatively suggest the term “metamemes” might include this class of words, and also a related class of memes: beliefs or notions that we may be quite unaware of but which can pre-emptively direct our reasoning and conclusions.

  15. @Ron E Joggles

    Correct Ron, “conservative” pretty much means whatever it’s user wants it to mean. Given the history of Australia, conservatives should logically be all for a comprehensive welfare system and a mixed economy. This mob are also far more likely to live in Cuckoo Land as well. We have all seen it with the intractable fight over AGW, attempting to cut government expenditure during a major financial crisis (truly one of the most boneheaded decisions in history), and continual scaremongering over Australia’s foreclosure or the incoming horde of homosexual Communist Al-Qaeda welfare-claiming boat people (Wren-Lewis of Mainly Macro recently had a good article on the scaremongering stats-fudging tactics used by the Tories in the UK, and the total innumeracy that Tory voters have with respect to the true state of the economy).

  16. @Ron E Joggles
    I agree (with the improbably named mr Joggles) .I think in England some years ago ( where the political use of the term may have originated) coming from the Christian tradition Conservatives felt it was good to consider and care for the disadvantaged . Now that the Right consider that to be a foolish sentiment ,Conservatives need a new name . A problem is that there has been a lot of social engineering done over the previous few decades and now a majority of the general population think it either unnecessary or dangerous to care. That shouldn’t stop the Left using new words tho.

    I think there was a time in French politics where those opposing change were asked to sit on the right of the chamber and vice-verse . I’m not too happy to say that the right or conservatives simply oppose change either ,generally they do -but they are good at social engineering by appealing to the less glamorous aspects of human nature.

  17. @Jim Birch

    The thing that I get out of the “anti-relativity” crowd is the way in which people latched onto the anti-relativity side, people who were in no position to understand what relativity (special and/or general) actually meant. It wasn’t like there were very many people at the time who could understand a tensor equation, so how they could ever know what the Einstein Field Equations implied sure beats me. Fact is, they couldn’t have, unless they were among the few physicists and mathematicians with a good working knowledge of tensors and/or differential geometry. Therefore, for most of the anti-relativity crowd, if not all of them, they were opposing something that they were not even in a position to understand at any level beyond a bunch of slogans.

    If that sort of sustained public campaign can happen on a subject so few people have a hope of understanding, then it can happen on absolutely any subject, given suitable circumstances. Which is rather tragic.

  18. @Donald Oats
    Just to clarify: I’m only referring to the members of the public who were anti-relativists, not the (few) scientists who could appraise general relativity with a critical eye—in the time-honoured fashion of scientific progress. The public outrage is what is so fascinating.

  19. As I read it Tim — and this was reinforced by a tweet from Andrew Leigh):

    Labor’s climate policy is what we took to election. Drop fixed price (aka “carbon tax”) & cap pollution with an ETS

    they are saying nothing more than that they are willing to move as early as Abbott wants to a full ETS.

    It’s important that that the argument over what to call the carbon price be won by our side. There never has been a carbon tax and none has ever been proposed by the ALP. One can’t abandon what doesn’t exist even in concept.

  20. @Tim Macknay

    I’m afraid they don’t get it and never will. I know this is unattributed and one of those sloppy journalistic usages, “some people say”, but still:

    some saying it must hold the line to show voters and demoralised supporters that it still stands for something.

    Sincerity is everything. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.

    I see Abbott is even going to take credit for “ending” one of our idiotic wars (100% backed by Shorten).

    I tend to agree, Fran. ALP willingly and immediately accepted the “tax” label. It’s almost as if they were happy for it to be demonized.

  21. @Megan

    I see it as the intersection of craven populistic impulse, intellectual indolence and a complete lack of political wit. I recall Cameron’s Environment Secretary coming out in 2011 and speaking to Fran Kelly on RN Breakfast and, challenged by her on the UK’s “carbon tax” he immediately corrected her, and went close to chastising her like an errant schoolchild.

    Kelly couldn’t back off fast enough and even corrected herself once when she nearly repeated it. For the first and last time I can recall, I smiled during Kelly’s program though didn’t miss the irony that the Conservative was more robust and articulate than our own PM at the time.

  22. @Fran Barlow

    “I see it as the intersection of craven populistic impulse, intellectual indolence and a complete lack of political wit.”

    …to name but three but they were the main ones and . Another one was how quickly they were able to be terrorised by adverse ad campaigns like that of the mining supertax.
    Ministers seemed to be in perpetual terror of committing a “gotcha” gaffe so they borrowed heavily from the university Labor club’s “Book of Cliches” (1983 edition), sending everyone to sleep.
    They couldn’t successfully argue that there is a real difference between breaking an undertaking and a lie, so Gillard will carry the epithet “liar” into her dotage.
    At times, a creeping paranoia would replace my frustration with someone’s inadequate response to a question on the BER “disaster”: “This guy is a Liberal plant recruited while he was at university?” But then I’d realise that he was big in the NSW right faction, so that explained that.
    It will be interesting to see how they react to the proposed inquiry into the “tragic and unnecessary deaths” of four men during the pink bats so-called fiasco. Or will SOMEONE in the caucus or some back room researcher google “deaths by electricity Australia” and discover that deaths and fires occurred before and since the scheme and at about the same rate. Come back Gough and Bob and Paul and teach the kids some political nous.

  23. I lost interest in Bill Shorten once I learnt he is mates with John Roskam of the IPA. Politics undoubtedly makes for strange bedfellows but surely a line has to be drawn.

  24. @ ron e joggles
    Joggles old chap, I note poster Donald Oats on another thread nominated the simple-yet-effective ‘regressive’ as replacement for conservative. I’m sure more colourful terms will come to be used–‘book-burners’ is my preference–but regression pretty much describes current LNP policies.

  25. @Ron E Joggles

    Hi Ron, I’ve wondering about this too! Another example, why is it that “conservatives” and “conservationists” are so at odds if they both want to conserve?

    Also, people happy to dig up and burn all the coal and release the carbon pollution into the atmosphere as quickly as possible can hardly be described as “conservative”, even it they think the science isn’t settled. A truly conservative person would be “hang on, let’s double check this, use caution, observe as we go..” etc.

    If a truly conservative person found $100 in the street, they would think “this will be useful in an emergency”, spend it wisely, etc. Now if that $100 was instead a mineral or other natural resource, this is not the mindset of “conservative” politicians, who seem hell bent on a dig it up and sell it off agenda.

    I think we need to find another word to use instead of conservative. All I can come up with is “corporationist”.

  26. We have a Liberal party that is not liberal; a National party that only presents itself to part of the nation. A libertarian would be reluctant to join the Council for Civil Liberties.
    The Liberals trumpet that their members of parliament are free to vote as they please (as opposed to the goose-stepping Labor members). They apparently don’t see the irony when Abbott announces that he might allow a conscience vote on same-sex marriages or that only a handful of Liberals have crossed the floor since I started to vote in 1961.

  27. Rob@30
    I think conservative came into being a political grouping in Britain in the first half of the 1830s. It is a more recent term for Tory, probably due to a split amogst the Tories (???), which was originally used to describe Irish folk whose land was taken away (religious wars etc) and who sometimes became outlaws. it then was used to describe the Royalists who supported James 7 and 2 when the Parliament jointly crowned his daughter Mary and her husband William of Orange in his stead. The Tories fragmented, as happens, and eventually there were the High Tories who remained most “conservative” – Royalist in their sympathies, I think they supported a view of noblesse oblige and for some time were often against colonial/imperial expansion (the latter didn’t last). There are still some British parliament people who identify as High Tories today, including Labor and Conservative members.

  28. This bi-partisan determination to destroy everything is getting silly.

    ABC is reporting:

    The board of the agency charged with protecting the Great Barrier Reef has failed to adopt its own experts’ recommendation that it ban port developments which threaten the reef.

    Two of the five board members have links to members of the Obeid family and are coming under scrutiny from environmentalists, who allege a conflict of interest because of their links to resource companies.

    Former Townsville mayor Tony Mooney earns $250,000 a year working for a coal company, and Queensland’s top public servant Jon Grayson owns a one-sixth shareholding in a company called Gasfields Water and Waste Services.

    Both men helped set the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s position on ports at a number of board meetings.

    Mooney is ALP and was appointed by Gillard to the MPA in 2011 and Grayson is DG of the Qld Premier’s Department (appointed by Newman).

    The ALP/LNP are definitely closer to each other than they are to the Australian people.

  29. I’m reading a fascinating (pdf) 40 page article about “bikie laws”:


    No link due to eternal mod, but easy enough to find.

    It traces these types of laws back to feudalism and the 13th century.

    Sad that so few people have worked out that this has almost nothing to do with crime and everything to do with class warfare and criminalisation of “idleness”.

  30. Things I think the ALP should be doing now:
    – Explaining to the public that they won’t bend to the will of Abbott for them to quietly repeal the “Carbon Tax,” as Abbott and co. call it. Explaining that when the ALP was elected in 2007, they supposedly had an overwhelming mandate, a landslide victory, with the ALP’s CPRS/ETS policy front and centre of the election promises by the ALP; once in power though, the conservatives in opposition stymied every attempt by the ALP to pass the legislation for the emissions trading scheme, and on occasion argued that the ALP had no mandate! What’s good for the goose is good for the gander…

    * Explaining that the Insulation Installation scheme was perfectly reasonable policy for dealing with the fallout of the GFC. Furthermore, explaining that the main source of issues with respect to safety of insulation installers and their clients has to rest squarely with the companies that employed those workers in the first place. The ALP government provided those insulation companies with a business opportunity, one that the companies were not compelled to accept—no one held a gun to their head, unless you count greed. Companies have no business placing their employees into what are dangerous work environments without the necessary training and on-the-job supervision of less experienced employees; where was the outrage over those companies failing to provide the essential safety training, to provide the essential safety clothing; where was the moral outrage that companies which were totally unprepared for the nature of the work choosing to take on the work anyway? Why was the ALP government copping the hiding over shoddy work practices of independent companies?

    * Applying the blowtorch to the current government for jobs for the boys, when the Rudd and Gillard governments clearly showed their willingness to place ex-parliamentarians of all political persuasions into public office?

    * Where is the ALP on arguing that new governments should not simply dismantle all that a previous government has done while in office, as such a precedent would lead to a total paralysis of the two-party system. Explaining to the public that while such a dismantling might amuse the staunchest backers of a particular party, it is a disastrous and vindictive approach to political process in Australia. What is the point of an extended tit-for-tat across several election cycles, is it what the conservatives really want to see now and in the future? Make them explain themselves.

    * How about reminding voters that the Howard government—which is what this current LNP government’s cabinet is comprised of—used every means at its disposal, including lies, to get the Australian people on-side with it over going to war in Afghanistan and Iraq? How about reminding people that the Liberals told the Australian public we would win those wars, be out in no time, etc?

    * Put some resources into a re-examination of what really happened in the AWB bribes and kickback scandal. There is a damn good chance that some DFAT staff of the day either knew of, or were involved in, acting as a conduit between government ministers and/or their staff, with respect to the deals AWB was engaged in with Iraq in particular. Given we were going to war with Iraq at the time, the kickbacks to the Saddam regime were particularly egregious and repugnant. If the ALP kick a few rocks over, they may see some pretty big cockroaches scuttle out into the daylight.

    * Every time Peter Reith appears on TV to defend his party colleagues over their travel expense claims, Shorten or a senior opposition minister should be on TV giving Reith hell over his own $50K phone bill scandal. Why one Earth did Reith hand his son a phone card meant only for the minister’s use? What were the rules around such breaches of public trust as that?

    There’s bound to be plenty more that the ALP can do to not only defend its recent legacy, but to take the fight to the conservatives on many fronts; avoiding confrontation with such an aggressive government as the current one is not going to aid the ALP one little bit in regaining government. They have to find ways to politically wound their opponent, because that’s how politics is played, for better or worse. If they don’t adopt at least some of the tactics employed against them, they’ll need to get used to the crumbs of opposition.

    (And yes, I have a bad case of insomnia tonight).

  31. @Ron E Joggles
    I can see why ‘conservative’ might have associations with ‘cautious; considered; moderate; reasonable; respectful of persons, institutions and traditions; safe; thoughtful; trustworthy’ but why with ‘benign; kind; rational’? and why not with ‘anti-intellectual; bigoted; crusty; curmudgeonly; dogmatic; hidebound; illiberal; incurious; judgmental; narrow-minded; obstinate; parochial; pedestrian; prejudiced; puritanical; rigid; stuffy; timid; unenterprising; unimaginative’?

  32. @ZM
    I am guessing that the Tory split you are referring to is most probably the splitting away of the Canningites/Huskissonites in the late 1820s.

  33. @J-D I’m not really entirely sure, I guess I should have looked for sources. UK political history was out of fashion for my entire education (English history at uni tended to be taught through lenses of Australian colonisation, European wars, industrial revolution, gender, history from below, folklore such as ritual and witchcraft etc). It’s not something I’ve formally been taught, so I unfortunately have a fairly piecemeal knowledge of the detail of the politics…

  34. AEC has just announced results of recount in WA Senate.

    Sports Party and Greens win last two seats from Palmer and ALP.

    It appears inevitable that there will be a challenge &/or fresh election, but for now this result means that the Greens picked up a Senate seat in the 2013 election whereas LNP lost one and ALP lost 7.

    So much for all the “Greens votes collapse” talk.

  35. This is already a recount, Jim, so there is not going to be a re-recount. The next step is a court challenge. Really the AEC should exercise their statutory powers and dispute the result themselves.

    It’s hard to see a court challenge failing and it’s hard to see the high court ordering anything except a fresh ballot for all 6 WA seats. They could even order the existing candidates and GVTs remain in place.

  36. The real issue is the process that the vote counting follows, for loss of more than 1000 ballot papers just shouldn’t occur, and especially without traceability being possible—they should at the very least be able to identify which voting stations were the origins of the votes that disappeared; if not, then why not?

  37. @Alan sorry, i should have said the court of disputed returns asks do the disputed/invalid/lost votes exceed the winning margin. they do here because one distribution cut-off was 14 or so votes.

  38. The court of disputed returns is not bound by any margin of error rule. That applies to the electoral commission. The Commonwealth Electoral Act specifically allows the court to void or nullify an election without showing any particular level of error in the count or indeed any counting error at all.

    The AEC goes to great lengths to ensure the security of the ballot. Every single bundle of ballot-papers must be signed for every time it is moved, so there should be a complete record of where the missing ballots went off the radar. I find it really, really hard to see a breach of security like this happening by accident.

  39. Clive Palmer is obviously something of a loose cannon on the Australian political scene. Fair enough – he is an MP now!

    I tend to think of the AEC as one of the last bastions of public service propriety doing a good job of protecting the integrity of the vote counts at various elections.

    But ‘misplacing’ 1375 votes between the first and second counts of this WA Senate count which would potentially drop one of the best Greens Senators this country has, is a pretty bad look.

    Never mind though, to look into it with all the thoroughness and integrity he brought to the Haneef case they’ve brought in Mick Keelty.

    Remember that Keelty made all sorts of rock-solid statements about Haneef that turned out not only to be false, but which could never have reasonably be held to have been true. Remember also that the Haneef saga unfurled in mid 2007 when it was obvious that Howard was doomed and needed something as miraculous as a new “Tampa”.

    Mick might be a really nice bloke, but I don’t want someone with that record anywhere near the ‘policing’ of the integrity of my democratic system, thanks.

  40. I’d forgotten that Mick Keelty has been busy in Queensland recently:

    (from the ABC piece – no link, thanks to eternal mod)

    The Keelty report also found there was a “blue iron curtain” between the police service and the rest of the State Government.

    Commissioner Ian Stewart says police have already undergone an internal restructure.

    “We now will work very very closely with our other sister and brother agencies to get that connectivity, to get that greater interoperability, and in fact integration that’s necessary to allow the effectiveness and efficiencies to occur,” he said.

    Can anyone really understand exactly what Keelty extracted from the Qld Police here? It’s Weasel Word Mania.

  41. The excellent Antony Green has a post about the WA Senate situation on his ABC blog.

    Roughly speaking, WA is very likely going back to the ballot box to decide their 6 Senate seats for this election.

    Good. I expect a clear win for Scott Ludlam this time in light of the ALP’s total fecklessness since the election and the revelation that the LNP are just as bad as the ALP and possibly even more cynical (if not more honest about their cynicism).

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