76 thoughts on “Weekend reflections

  1. @Neil Hanrahan
    You claimed the Whitlam government was even less competent than Gillard’s. I refuted your assertion about Whitlam (with some examples), and (for the record) dispute your underlying assumption about Gillard. I can’t be bothered discussing this with you further, as I don’t have the energy to go through the logorrhea that such discussion will provoke. Basically, life’s too short to waste time arguing with fools.

  2. @Neil Hanrahan

    What you stated as fact is, and will forever remain, the exact opposite.

    The “Weekend Australian” is “News Ltd.” (leaving aside Rupert’s latest corporate shenanigans to evade the law – ‘News Ltd’ in this context is a descriptor and not a legal term).

    Quoting Paul “Magic-Water” Sheahan and a News Ltd outlet tends to line up with your earlier comment about Jo Nova being an expert on climate change.

    Can you be more specific about the “judicial or quasi-judicial position” you have held?

  3. @may

    USA judges are popularly elected.

    No, not all. For example, do you think that justices of SCOTUS are elected?

    USA supreme court judges sit until they die.

    Again, no, not all. Many retire, and leave on their feet.

  4. Can this government get any more petty and infantile as this action, a dismantling of heritage listings in Tasmania?

    What gets me is the implicit theo-neo-con view that all of Earth is there for humanity to exploit, and it is (presumably) a sin to prevent it or to delay it.

    If I was to award a score from 0 to 10 for hardening my heart against LNP members, Abbott’s actions thus far score an 11. It is in my opinion a moral corruption of democratic process to go on a wholesale razing to the ground of all that a previous government has done. New governments used to make some changes, mainly of an additive nature, sometimes subtractive through changes to an act, but not this utter rollback, a war of total annihilation of the (political) enemy^fn1 if ever I saw one. When has that happened before in Australian political history?

    fn1: And, by extension, a war on anyone who didn’t vote the theo-neo-con way. I can’t imagine all LNP voters being too happy with some of this, either.

  5. JKUU :@may

    USA judges are popularly elected.

    No, not all. For example, do you think that justices of SCOTUS are elected?

    USA supreme court judges sit until they die.

    Again, no, not all. Many retire, and leave on their feet.

    generalisations by moi run amok.

    supreme court judges in USA “may” retire but don’t have to,they can stay until they drop off the perch.

    Australian supreme court judges “are” retired at 70.

    USA supreme court judges may be appointed but elections for judges are part of the USA system.

    elections for judges are not a part of the Australian system.

  6. Next conservatives will tell us we should copy the US healthcare model of a couple of years back. Trees facing the chop in old growth forests may have been seedlings when Abel Tasman called in nearly 400 years ago. They say the trees will go into furniture and new ones will take their place. Wrong and wrong. Sometimes whole coupes go to the chipper because the logs aren’t straight enough. Perhaps ending up as one of Mr Murdoch’s excellent newspapers. Replacement trees will never get that big due to climate change and early harvesting. Somehow Greg Hunt’s beloved soil carbon won’t be affected.

    Having said that at least Abbott is sending a plane to observe the Japanese whaling. AFAIK
    Rudd/Gillard/Rudd just talked about it and did nothing.

  7. @Hermit

    Having said that at least Abbott is sending a plane to observe the Japanese whaling. AFAIK
    Rudd/Gillard/Rudd just talked about it and did nothing.

    Rudd/Gillard (I think it was Gillard) did eventually sue Japan in the ICJ over whaling. Took them years to get around to it though.

  8. How interesting!

    Federal judge allows same-sex weddings in Utah to continue

    The federal judge who threw out Utah’s ban on same-sex marriages has refused a state request to block gay weddings while the matter is taken to a high court.

    U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby on Monday denied a request by the state that sought to bar gay weddings until the appeals process is completed.

    State officials are expected to seek action by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. The appellate court had refused to issue a stay Sunday, saying it would wait until Shelby ruled.

    Shelby last week held that the state’s ban on same-sex marriages was unconstitutional, setting off a flurry of matrimonial activity as marriage licenses were sought and some weddings took place.

    After the judge’s ruling Monday, officials in some parts of the state began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples who began lining up as early as 6 a.m., according to local media reports.


    In a 53-page ruling, Judge Shelby held that Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage, passed by voters in 2004, violated the right of gay and lesbian couples to due process and equal protection under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

    “The state’s current laws deny its gay and lesbian citizens their fundamental right to marry and, in so doing, demean the dignity of these same-sex couples for no rational reason,” Shelby wrote. “Accordingly, the court finds that these laws are unconstitutional.”

    So there you go. In Australia, the citizenry have no constitionally-protected rights of course, but I suspect most people here, if asked, would say that the principles of “due process” and “equal protection before the law” ought to be respected.

    Now it’s clear that in a place where this requirement constrains the law, a properly constituted court has found that barring same sex marriage violates this principle.

    This makes Utah the 18th state to approve gay marriage, following New Mexico just the other day. More than one third of states in the US now have same sex marriage provision.

  9. The South African Bill of Rights was the first in the world to explicitly ban discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation.
    Section 9 Equality

    (1) Everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law.
    (2) Equality includes the full and equal enjoyment of all rights and freedoms. To promote the achievement of equality, legislative and other measures designed to protect or advance persons, or categories of persons, disadvantaged by unfair discrimination may be taken.
    (3) The state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth.
    (4) No person may unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds in terms of subsection (3). National legislation must be enacted to prevent or prohibit unfair discrimination.
    (5) Discrimination on one or more of the grounds listed in subsection (3) is unfair unless it is established that the discrimination is fair.

    No doubt the Utah judge will be accused of ‘judicial activism’ for reading in something that is not there. The fascinating thing about the South African provision is their Constitutional Court suffered the exact same criticism even in the face of such a clear rule. LGBT people should honour Mandela, apart from his other acheivements, for arguing Section 9 through the ANC and then the Constitutional Assembly.

  10. A merry holiday season to JQ and all the bloggers that make this blog essentially reading for those who favour evidence over dogma.

  11. I know it’s Thursday, but if Christmas week – including the Boxing Day test – does not define a long weekend, I don’t know what does.

    Via the ABCTV Big Ideas “sampler” on Digital Divas, with Anne Summers, Adele Horin, Wendy Harmer and Monica Attard, I have been glad to discover the Anne Summers blog http://annesummers.com.au/, and the online magazine “Anne Summers Report”, described by her as a cross between Rolling Stone and the New Yorker, and reporting and analysing (not opinionating) on neglected yet important issues. I know JQ was critical of her soft interview of Gillard post-election, but I thought it was useful because she cut to the chase straight away in questioning Gillard about her position on issues that flummoxed many of us. And I recalled David Frost, a sceptical journalist but never a confronting Pilger-type, successfully beguiling Richard Nixon to reveal himself in an interview.

    As well, New Matilda, with Wendy Bacon now on board, is canvassing their readers to broaden their purview. And Harmer is not scared to tackle the taboos at The Hoopla . How refreshing that this bunch of journalistic insiders, are brave enough to follow the story rather than the money. If those of us who reject the MSM “ranting”, as Summers put it, are prepared to put some money towards these emergent business models, free expression and a better society has a good chance in the future.

  12. @Donald Oats

    The persistent claim from right-wing neocons is that climate change science is a heavily funded pseudo-scientific conspiracy. As is usual in the case of right-wing neocon propaganda, the truth is the exact opposite of the claim. Their climate change denial message is a heavily funded pseudo-scientific conspiracy.

  13. @Jim Rose

    It is not inconsistent to support the need for some local industry while buying some imported product. Such a position could imply general support for competition. As in “I buy local when local is cheaper and/or better quality and I buy imported when imported is cheaper and/or better quality.”

    So the attempt to set up an over-simplified false dichotomy, as a cheap rhetorical debating point, fails.

  14. PS

    ” A false dilemma (also called false dichotomy, black-and/or-white thinking, the either-or fallacy, the fallacy of false choice, the fallacy of exhaustive hypotheses, the fallacy of the false alternative or the fallacy of the excluded middle) is a type of informal fallacy that involves a situation in which limited alternatives are considered, when in fact there is at least one additional option.” – Wikipedia.

  15. Ikon

    It is not inconsistent to support the need for some local industry while buying some imported product. Such a position could imply general support for competition. As in “I buy local when local is cheaper and/or better quality and I buy imported when imported is cheaper and/or better quality.”

    Of course, nothing in the theory of the value of competition to product quality excludes the idea of preferring to buy local. I prefer to reduce carbon miles and some people doubtless prefer to support local labour where this is comparable in quality and value for money. In a “free market” individuals decide what qualities they value and how much they value them in deciding how to purchase.

  16. @Fran Barlow

    I wasn’t illustrating my position. I am not a pure free market advocate. I was just illustrating a third position (and implying even more positions) by comparison to the simple either-or fallacy advanced by Jim Rose.

    For the record, in relation to the market and other social constructs, like individual rights for example, I adopt a position of “freedom within bounds”. This is both a descriptive and a prescriptive position. It describes what actually happens and it advocates conscious adherence to and working with this realistic model.

  17. Who woulda thunk it-Utah is more progressive than Canberra or Victoria…C’mon Australia! This is proof that it’s time to get a real Constitution-this isn’t a political issue it’s a fundamental civil right and a Bush appointed lawyer just proved it.

  18. One of the ways that Utah strongly resembles Victoria and Canberra is the way Utahns and other North Americans see themselves. The people of the USA not only believe equality is much greater in their country than it actually is, the distribution of wealth they want would make the country slightly more equal than Sweden.

    I’d be surprised if Australians responded very differently. This dangerous popular commitment to social democracy goes nowhere. Why?

  19. @Alan
    Responded differently than what? And what other kind of democracy is there besides social?
    The US has a superior Constitution that allows for those freedoms. This is why the DOMA or Defense of Marriage Act was defeated politicians were not a factor. It did not meet the standards enshrined in the Bill of Rights.

  20. @Skipper

    Neither political party in the US really advocates social democracy. The Democrats have not done so since the end of the Johnson presidency. If the people of the US understood that inequality is exploding in their country they would presumably demand a political party that advocated and legislated for the levels of quality found in the much-maligned European social democracies.

    A friend linked me to this speech by FDR. It is literally unthinkable to imagine a US president speaking that way in 2014.

    The US had a superior constitution in 1787. It is not in 2014. It is obscure, and retains some dramatically undemocratic features, the electoral college, the system of presidential succession, a corrupt redistribution system that allows frequent reversed majorities in the house of representatives, and a politicised federal judiciary sitting for life.

    Even the bill of rights is more notable for its contemporary failings than its archaic splendours. The absence of an explicit right to vote is an invitation to the Republicans to continue trying to expel Democrats from the electoral rolls and to draw corrupt boundaries.

    DOMA was enacted in 1996. It was treated as valid law by the courts from tis enactment until 2013. That is rather a long time for a constitutional guarantee to be ignored. In any case the invalidation of DOMA was as much about the courts reading the election returns as about the willingness of the judiciary to bring the bill of rights into the present century.

    There are significantly better bills of rights, such as those in Canada and South Africa. It is hard to find a constitution that is not better in terms of democracy, accountability and transparency from presidential constitutions like Brazil to parliamentary constitutions like Germany or Sweden.

    The remarkable thing about the FDR speech is how familiar it seems. The same old issues have dominated the country’s politics since the 1940s.

  21. Jim Rose, up a ways, I’m one of those who think we should build cars here, but owns an imported vehicle. If an Australian manufacturer made cars that people wanted to buy (in my case a diesel rear-wheel-drive utility, but my needs are specialised), more people would buy locally-built cars.

    I guess it’s yet another market failure …

  22. I wonder what John Quiggin makes of the latest tirade from Maurice Newman, the head of the Business Advisory Council to the Abbott government, about what he refers to as “the religion behind the climate crusade”? Is it worth a post, John?

  23. Hello John,

    American with roots in NZ here. Recently decided to start reading the blog, as I enjoyed your book. As an environmentalist, liberal, and auto enthusiast, I encounter my fair share of cognitive dissonance when talking with others who mostly agree with me. With respect to Australia, I regard the development of rather draconian anti-“hoon” sentiment with curiousity and trepidation. I don’t believe labeling auto enthusiasts as members of dangerous cults and suitable targets for harassment is at all warranted, contrary to the impression one gets from the linked video. As far as speed limits go, you recently stated:

    The obvious first step would be to reduce the current 60/50 speed limits for suburban streets and subarterial roads respectively to 50/40. This would greatly benefit road users (including both cyclists and older drivers) who can’t or don’t want to travel at or near existing speed limits. The welfare cost of slightly lower limits would, in my view, be trivial.

    However, I don’t know if we can take as given that lower speed limits would be a net public safety benefit or induce trivial costs. Studies have shown the contrary can occur. To whit, here is a nicely entertaining video that makes the case (and cites studies).

    All the best, and I look forward to reading more.

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