141 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. it may be difficult for fairfax to conclusively link any particular tycoon’s payment to a specific advantage gained by that tycoon from either hockey or the liberal party. fairfax will have to show more than simply say they paid 22 grand to speak with him at a function. they will have to prove that some tycoon’s 22 grand led to a specific advantage the tycoon wouldn’t have got otherwise. it could be hard for them, but if they really have that kind of evidence it would be the end of hockey, eh? -a.v.

  2. and what’s a tycoon’s per diem anyway? did they blow the whole thing on lunch? -a.v.

  3. @Val I couldn’t watch it. I mean, it was loading, but I realized I just couldn’t bear to watch it – I don’t need to see video of our dreadful PM to know that he gets the AHOTY award!

  4. and if you really want to corrupt a politician you make him/her south pacific chairman for the joint strike fighter corporation upon retirement. -a.v.

  5. @alfred venison

    We’ll see if/when the court process concludes.

    But, as far as I am concerned there is a strongly arguable defence that “Treasurer For Sale” can mean “Pay Money, Get Treasurer”. It doesn’t need to mean that you got some measurable and provable financial benefit – you could have had him at your kid’s birthday party for an hour dressed as a clown.

    You paid money, you got the Treasurer. The Treasurer, one way or another, offered that arrangement and accepted the money.

  6. @alfred venison

    Apart from ICAC nobody is suggesting that there is “corruption” or illegality involved at all. How dare you!

    This is obviously completely separate from things like “Eight-By-Five”, “The Freedom Foundation”, “the Millenium Forum” and whatever other vehicles the LNP may or may not use to fund themselves and their PR. Shame on anyone suggesting their is any connection whatsoever.

  7. To put it more succinctly:

    If the published words “Treasurer For Sale” are defamatory then the defence simply has to prove that the assertion is truthful.

    It seems to me that the facts, undisputed as far as I am aware, suggest that in return for certain payments to a ‘forum’ time with the Treasurer would be provided.

    The “North Sydney Forum” website puts it this way:

    By joining the North Sydney Forum you will have the opportunity to participate in a regular program of events including boardroom lunches with Joe Hockey

    Their price list isn’t there, but the AFR reproduced it last week, and $22,000 was the premium package.

    So, join the forum (which costs money) and have regular boardroom lunches with Joe Hockey.

    How is that not a “sale”?

    This will be an interesting legal argument.

  8. Megan

    [So, join the forum (which costs money) and have regular boardroom lunches with Joe Hockey.
    How is that not a “sale”?]

    Maybe Hockey will argue it’s a leasing arrangement, or like timeshare. 😉

  9. Continuing the acryonyms, IANAL, but the High Court’s decisions on freedom of political comment mean this will be a hard one for Hockey to win. I suspect he’s working on the assumption that since “everyone does it”, it can’t be improper, a line which will be hard to sell to a jury.

  10. oh gee, you reckon its bribery, maybe its just fund raising. did the court say political comment has to be gratis or unconstrained by the state? and as for “everyone does it” wasn’t it the case a couple of years ago that you could buy time with gillard or swan at alp functions if you paid a big fee? you could sit with garrett for example for a smaller fee? honestly, fairfax will have to demonstrate something more sinister was up than you could pay money to have time with the shadow treasurer. and in parting, let me make it abundantly clear, because i’m going to work and will be unable to access this site: i am no friend of the liberals and i’m looking forward to this playing out. -a.v.

  11. @alfred venison

    fairfax will have to demonstrate something more sinister was up than you could pay money to have time with the shadow treasurer

    With all due respect, no they will not.

    Leaving aside the other matters which can, and no doubt will, be raised in their defence (such as the political commentary alluded to by JQ) – the threshold test is “truth”.

    The articles were very explicit in saying there was no evidence of corruption etc.., so that can only leave the headline (“Treasurer For Sale”) as the “publication” which he claims defamed him.

    Fairfax would only have to prove something more sinister if they had said something more sinister – all they said (I’m guessing this will be their argument) is that money could get access and it is true.

    PS: I would argue that whether it’s Gillard, Hockey or anyone else they could be truthfully described as being “for sale” if access at any time is predicated on payment of money.

  12. @alfred venison

    I have the figurative popcorn ready. This is defamation, and the rules of evidence and affirmative defence are not going to p,ay well for JoHo.

    To show defamation, JoHo will need to show that the headline unfairly diminished him in the eyes of reasonable folk — i.e. that fair minded folk who knew of him from things on the public record would think less of him and that the article lacked foundation in good faith.

    Good luckJoHo showing that. Even if he wins, he loses.

  13. this implication is arguably there in the headline and that’s what they’ll argue. what would an average reader make of that headline. honest to god, fairfax is going to get roasted.

    NSW Labor is gearing up its major business fundraising program for 2014-15, offering privileged access to a range of senior players, including the federal leader Bill Shorten, in a tiered pricing structure ranging from $5,000 to $15,000.

    that’s the guardian from may 5. you can get the fairfax report in the age – imo, its anodyne in comparison.

    whether the implied freedom of speech for political commentary protects political commentary that defames will be crucial & not only for this case. during the last campaign clive palmer mooted defamation action against murdoch for lying about him on fox, etc.

    btw, the ex-politician who is currently asia-pacific head tycoon for the joint strike fighter is peter reith. now there’s corruption you can shake a stick at. -a.v.

  14. Access to the treasurer has been bought. Its wrong, and its no good Joe trying to pretend that it is not wrong.

    The fact that others do it makes no difference.

  15. Is it this statement: “Forum took $30,000 in donations from Obeid-linked company”

    alfred, are you suggesting it’s not 100% in the public interest to know such information?

    Is that what the courts should find?

  16. my point is not that others doing is an excuse, my point is that fairfax has been easy on labor and that may be to their disadvantage in this case.

    “meet bill shorten for just $3300” -v- “treasurer for sale”

    imo all donations from junkets should be registered with the aec. providing all donations from junkets were registered with the aec, i would have no problem with political parties holding conclaves with their “constituencies” or charging for it. -a.v.

  17. The “starobserver” (LGBT media) had an opinion piece on June 21 2011 under the headline:

    “PM For Sale”


    In August 2010 Julia Gillard accepted an invitation to meet Brigadier Jim Wallace (retd), leader of the Australian Christian Lobby.

    Oddly enough, while she will fling herself with gay abandon into the arms of Jim Wallace or Cardinal Pell, the GLBTI community has had to stump up $31,100 for the chance of a chat with her by buying the time at a charity auction. …

    As I said – this may well be “defamatory” (diminishes reputation amongst fair minded citizens etc, etc,) BUT there is a 100% solid guarantee defence against such a claim under Australian law if the Defendant can establish “truth”.

    There are two steps (apart from “publication”):

    1. Is it defamatory?

    2. Is it true?

    If you get to 2 and answer “Yes” then it’s game over for the defamed party.

    Hockey’s claim has less legs than the cast of ‘Kandahar’.

  18. PS: Palmer has issued his defamation claim against Qld Premier Campbell Newman (“Palmer buys Elections”).

    He and Anna Bligh quietly settled his defamation claim against her.

    Joh was briefly famous for his spectacular defamation payout from Alan Bond (when he owned channel 9) a record, at the time, $400,000.

    The deceased cannot sue for defamation. Some people have suggested that some of Joh’s defamation actions were orchestrated as a way of openly passing money that might otherwise be construed as dodgy payments.

    Alan Bond did quite well out of Queensland.

  19. @John Quiggin
    Ah thanks ProfQ.

    Returning to subject of health cuts, I was discussing them with a colleague yesterday and we agreed some of the cuts to health promotion and prevention programs seem to be mainly about revenge – they’re cut because the previous government started them.

    The Australian national preventive health agency is quite small beer in funding terms, and the coag preventive programs have only a year to run. So there seems to be no point in cutting them, especially since the funding is then going to the medical research institute that is supposed to be about prevention (I don’t actually think it will be, but that’s what the press release says).

    Reminds me very much of what you (ProfQ) have been saying about right wing tribalism. Prof Peter Doherty has just called them idiots on twitter. Love it.

  20. @Megan

    I’m not sure it’s as simple as that.

    I think alfred is correct that the headline is the issue.

    “Treasurer for sale” is figurative. It’s truth value is open to interpretation.

    I’m guessing Hockey’s lawyers will argue that:

    1) The headline’s meaning is open-ended

    2) The name of a prominent ‘criminal’ was displayed in proximity to the headline

    Therefore, a reasonable person might infer that Hockey had done something illegal.

    I don’t think that holds enough water. I think Fairfax were careful not to imply illegality (those covers are remarkably tame), and the other bulleted subheadings clarify exactly what the headline refers to. Only someone who read the word “Obeid” and nothing else could arrive at that interpretation.

    But I also don’t think Hockey’s case has no legs.

    And I haven’t seen the posters for the issue. It’s quite possible they’ll be the real problem, not the cover.

  21. @Nick

    As far as I’m aware Obeid hasn’t been convicted of a crime yet. And even so, if it is true that the forum accepted money from him then that is a perfect defence to whatever it is that is said to be defamatory about that aspect.

    I seem to be in the minority in my view of Hockey’s prospects, but as I said – we’ll see what the court decides if it gets that far.

  22. @Helen

    The “tome” has arrived at my home a few days ago. I have not finished reading it. However, I can say already that I wouldn’t pay any attention to the article you referenced.

    Prof Piketty is careful in describing his methodology, data sources and varying data qualities with respect to individual countries. By contrast, the article you referenced is a big blur and it does not involve a ‘mathematical argument’.

    Furthermore, the said article is written as if Prof Piketty’s book, Capital in the 21 Century, is a manifesto of some kind based solely on his data. But this is not the case. This book was written after many peer reviewed articles involving co-authors from the Uk, the USA, Germany, Sweden. Moreover, earlier studies on income and wealth distributions by different authors is integrated. This is how scholarship works.

    Finally, assuming someone finds an arithmetic error or a data recording error. The crucial question then is whether the removal of the error changes the conclusion. In comparison with the task embarked by Prof Piketty, corporate accounting is trivially easy. Still, accounting relies on the notion of ‘non-material errors’ (ie some invoices have been wrongly recorded but it does not affect the conclusion). Have a look at a short time series of national accounting data for say Australia. You will quickly note that at times the quaterly revisions are as big as or greater than the quarterly changes in macro variables.

  23. Our Miranda Devine. She does add colour to the entertainment spectrum. Not everybody can, without blushing, make a living by conveying in words a state of dismay, or should I say hysteria.

    “Entitlement mentality” is a strange combination of words. Entitlement is, in the first instance, a word used to describe a right of an individual to something by legislation. For example, tax reductions due to negative gearing is possible because of legislation. Hence people are entitled to negatively gear an investment property as long as this legislation exists.

    The Treasurer talks about an end to the ‘entitlement mentality’ and then does exactly the opposite. He leaves negative gearing in place. I don’t know what the appropriate term is to describe this type of ‘mentality’ but it may be one which potentially sends some people ‘mental’ – those whose body reacts to contradictions.

  24. Yes, entitlement is a strange beast. Originally, I guess en-titlement was when you got a title, for having a dad who had a title or for being who brought your Monarch booty and lands under the boot.

    The entitlement transmuted. It became not ownership of lands, goods, chattels and peasants as chattels. It became ownership of factories and the right to direct wage labour and appropriate surplus value.

    The common element has always been rich rewards to the non-working entitled owner and mere pittances to the rest; peasant, serf, indentured labourer or worker.

    Temporarily this was turned around with social democracy. But the turnaround was reversed by the forces of reaction. For the last 40 years, things have been going steadily the way of the entitled people again; the way of the capitalists, cronies, the rentiers, the non-working proprieters.

    Where next? Hmm, I wonder.

  25. @ Fran and Ernestine

    Having gone to the link and read the article, I desperately wish I hadn’t. Why is it that every time I read something written by an outright right-winger I feel like I have dropped a few IQ points? Perhaps it’s hypoxia from the gasping at the outright continuous fabrications, distortions and assertions of fact. She somehow also wove in that absolutely cloddish parable of “ten men going out for beer” which is just a tortured analogy of how the real world works.

  26. Are “Independent Public Schools” in receipt of Federal Government funding, or are they entirely a state-based affair? There seems to be a distinction made between good ol’ state public schools and IP schools, and now that my liar-liar detector is at full twitch, I am harbouring the suspicion that there is indeed a funding source(s) distinction. I am assuming that IP schools can also charge large fees from parents, etc.

    If this paradigm is correct, then it add an extra layer to the PM’s recent decision to say to the states that they have to look after funding their own education system. If IP schools do in fact receive federal funding, then they are in effect quarantined from the PM’s edict, and further more, they can leach teachers from the state schools. I hope I am entirely wrong about this, but the Western Australian news article I read on it didn’t provide the detail to figure it out. (Guess I could resort to WKSE, but then I’ll be getting hit with IP school ads for the rest of this life and the next.)

  27. @Will

    Not a tortured analogy, but rather, one like so many, that rather than illustrating an alleged relationship, is a self-serving mischaracterisation of relationships between things — i.e. pure cant.

    Those who go into the bar, and the barman too, are members of a society in which each bears the other certain duties that are implicit on each claiming them. This is often called The Golden Rule. Humans do not queue up as supplicants for benefit to some extra-cultural third party. Since humans first began living in groups, notions of community have driven them to share risk and benefit about, but this analogy acknowledges none of that.

    Nor is it the case that the basics of dignified existence can be compared with ‘beer’, albeit that the boss class and its mouthpieces, like Hockey and now Devine, regularly present it as such. This is populism adduced to cheat the populace by hiding the fundamental claim each of us makes to dignity and thus must warrant in others.

  28. @Fran Barlow

    As I don’t read anything from News Ltd, does she attribute the ‘ten guys go out for a beer’ story?

    I’m curious because it’s a piece of ultra-right US rubbish that has done the rounds for years. The earliest reference I found was 2000. Sometimes it is falsely attributed to professors of economics – it has been used as a study tool by some but never as the lesson it pretends to be.

    Snopes has an entry including this:

    William F. Buckley Jr. also reprinted and analyzed a version of this piece in his 21 April 2001 column for the National Review, noting only that the “parable just came in from a friend, via the Internet,” an act of appropriation that drew a stinging rebuke from The New Republic’s Jonathan Chait:
    …A few weeks ago I came across a column by William F. Buckley in the National Review Online that began: “The following parable just came in from a friend, via the Internet.” Buckley then reprinted the parable in toto, some three-hundred-words worth, and then concluded with some commentary of his own. What made this episode so odd was that Buckley apparently hadn’t bothered to check out who had written the parable to begin with. (According to my two-minute search of Lexis-Nexis, it was someone named Don Dodson of Fort Worth, Texas, in a letter to the Chicago Tribune.)

  29. @Megan

    The problem is that the story has become a meme, and probably was already when people started posting it. I enjoy few things more than dumping on Murdoch, but in this case it’s entirely possible that nobody can know for sure who started it.

    The real problem is that the analogy is intellectually and ethically offensive tosh.

  30. @Fran Barlow

    That was part of my point. It’s an ancient wing-nut meme of questionable origin.

    Isn’t the real problem the fact that, today 14 years later, it is being uncritically re-run by a News Ltd hate-columnist unchallenged?

  31. @Will #32

    Take satisfaction that her shrill bellowing reveals the death rattle of the News media, with 2
    photos of Frances to give it relevance to today’s reader, just like the great links to stories on Bingle nudity, Jackman’s member, and Tupac’s death.

  32. “#comment-234357”>Helen:
    Libertarians are seizing on this one with glee today

    What are your thoughts John? (as someone who, unlike me, can follow the more detailed mathematical arguments)

    I have had to return my copy to the library and could not renew as someone put a request.

    However, as with climate change denialists always pop-up.

    In Australia, inequality is obviously increasing. See:


    My over view of Piketty was that:

    Capitalist inequality was obscene in first half of 20thC but was moderated after WW2 by welfare state capitalism, trade unions, and tactical need for big capitalists to divert some of their wealth to their hirelings thereby creating a new middle class.

    However by the late 70’s this was unsustainable, capitalism entered its long-run Marxist crisis and the world was captured by rightwing Fraserism, Thatcherism, Reaganism and viscious “economic rationalism”, privatisation and competition.

    Consequently inequality has increased since the 1980’s and it may be about to get a lot, lot worse.

    The Financial Times graphs (if you click through) seem to show that their supposed decline in inequality has passed through a turning point – late 70’s early 80’s.

    A turning point in inequality proxies (late 70’s early 80’s) can also be seen in Andrew Leigh’s “Battlers and Billionaires” fig2, fig4, fig6-7.

    The data is one thing, but the message is in the trend.

  33. Does anyone know where the figure of 1 billion dollars a month in debt repayments comes from. It’s been put about by Hockey, Abbott et al and no one seems to question it. I may be correct but I’d like to see a source. Google hasn’t assisted.

  34. :
    Does anyone know where the figure of 1 billion dollars a month in debt repayments comes from. It’s been put about by Hockey, Abbott et al and no one seems to question it. I may be correct but I’d like to see a source. Google hasn’t assisted.

    Try this:


    $230 bill at 5% is 0.958 bill interest per month.

    Close enough?

  35. @Ivor
    Close enough? Not sure Ivor, where does the rate of 5% come from? Over what term is the 230 billion being borrowed? I was looking for something a little more definitive, e.g. some sort of government accounting document rather that relying on Daily Telegraph style accounting.

  36. @Patrickb

    From the Budget Papers and I presume Treasury

    Net debt in 2014?15 is estimated to decrease by $4.7 billion since the 2013?14 MYEFO to $226.4 billion. From 2014?15 to 2016?17, net debt is lower compared to the 2013?14 MYEFO. This is primarily driven by the higher value of investments held by the Government in newly established funds and other deposits. Changes in the financing requirement have also resulted in a small reduction of net debt. These decreases are partially offset by the impact of lower average yields compared to those at the 2013?14 MYEFO, which increases the market value of Commonwealth Government Securities on issue.

  37. @rog
    Yes I saw that second one. It appears to me that the 1 billion a month figure is made up or at least a rhetorical device. Nonetheless it has a profound effect on some voters.

  38. @Patrickb

    We would have a much better polity and democracy if we had a functioning media that exhibited that kind of curiosity and inquiry.

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