151 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. rog :
    “We should stop horse racing”
    That’ll go down well with he punters.

    I vaguely recall hearing that the racing industry is 3rd largest employer in Victoria, so it ain’t go’n nowhere. Couple that with Crown Casino being our largest single site employer and I think you can start to imagine how much political power you’re missing with [sigh]… oh what a healthy social economy we live in.

  2. @Troy Prideaux

    Gambling is a total waste of resources. All those capital, material and labour resources invested in gambling produce a big fat nothing. It simply transfers wealth.

    Farming produces food to eat. Manufacture produces objects to use. Education produces more knowledgable and more productive people. Health produces healthier and more productive people. But gambling produces nothing. It burns up resources to no purpose. And when it comes to recreation there are cheaper and healthier ways to have fun.

    The coal industry and the gambling “industry” are doing more to destroy Australia than almost any other factor other than perhaps sheer neoliberal stupidity.

  3. @Ikonoclast
    The payments were for hurt feelings. A few days before the election (1/9/13) they also got $1bn in free permits. I have an idea everywhereman Dick Warburton may have advised on this saying it was for loss of asset resale value. What? With no carbon tax and rising gas prices the brown coal generators are raking it in.

    Victoria is said to have 500 years of brown coal reserves. According to Wikipedia none of the newer units at Hazelwood, Loy Yang or Yallourn need replacing until the 2030s. Some say this debacle shows carbon pricing doesn’t work. It doesn’t if there are loopholes you could drive a coal train through.

  4. Troy, I reckon I can quickly think of five industries in Victoria (arts, postal, construction, health care, hotel) which are far larger employers than the racing industry.

    So I’m going to call bulls**t on their claim 😉

  5. Fran Barlow @31:

    We should stop horse racing.

    If we take this step:

    (a) how do we then provide for the horses whose upkeep and welfare currently depends on the stream of resources and revenue provided by horse racing; and

    (b) what is the social opportunity cost of providing an alternative stream of resources and revenue to ensure the upkeep and welfare of the horses?

    This is not apologetics for the industry, simply to state some realities that those concerned with the horses’ welfare need to engage with.

  6. Horse racing appears to be a dying industry in Australia. Not dying as fast as the horses mind you, but really, who the heck goes to the horse races? Attendance is falling, not as fast as a jockey whose horse has snapped a large metacarpal, but it is steadily dropping and that trend may be accelerating. Taxpayer money is getting shovelled into horse racing (see Queensland), as it is in the taxpayer’s interest to keep the price of pet food down with cheap horse meat, but I don’t think this is something that can last. Its corrupt influence on politics may be a desperate calling in of favours rather than something that can be maintained.

  7. If Australian literacy levels are so high how come so many people read the Daily Telegraph? They can’t all be reading it ironically.

  8. Troy Prideaux: “I vaguely recall hearing that the racing industry is 3rd largest employer in Victoria, so it ain’t go’n nowhere.”

    Troy, I reckon I can quickly think of five industries in Victoria (arts, postal, construction, health care, hotel) which are far larger employers than the racing industry.


    As it only ‘sustains the employment’ of 19,600 full-time equivalent jobs, I’d be surprised if it’s even in the top 20.

  9. @Nick
    Thanks for clearing that up Nick. That’s an excellent link! Yeah, I’m pretty sure it was a high ranking Racing VIC executive I heard that from on a radio interview. It’s obvious he was either cherry picking his statistics or just plain misrepresenting the numbers.

  10. Donald Oats,

    “In the meanwhile, being a captive of the apartment complexes we urbanites have to live in these days, there is damn little I can do about my energy use, and more frustrating is that apartment living in Australia during summertime is pretty tough going without an air-conditioner. ”

    As I understand it the problem is that apartments are not being built to high enough standards, rather than apartment living as a problem per se.

    The design should be better to control the temperature passively, and there should be more insulation and multiple glazing or other films on windows etc. There are various design and material solutions that can minimise the need for heating and cooling (elderly and infirm peopler would still have higher needs perhaps).

    Retrofitting can help, but not in basic design problems like poor orientations. Foolishly high land values in Australia has meant that building quality is skimped on to make housing more affordable. This is very stupid – it would be better to make policy for the reverse : lower land values and better building quality.

    Someone told me that the buildings are not even up to the low standards the government has set in regulations — so if people decided to make a class action against builders and developers for not building their houses to the standard decreed in the regulations – there would be a big payout due to negligent compliance.

  11. @calyptorhynchus

    …how come so many people read the Daily Telegraph?

    I’m not sure that they do.

    News Corp are notorious liars. There is a great deal of evidence that they fudge the figures. There is ‘circulation’, ‘readership’ and ‘sales’.

    As I understand it, ‘circulation’ is how many copies get out and includes thousands of give-aways and cheap bulk deals. ‘Sales’ in theory is the actual number of paid-for copies. ‘Readership’ is the dodgiest figure because they can just make up a number of extra people who read each copy of the paper. That’s why ‘readership’ soars while ‘circulation’ and ‘sales’ plummet – they just make up a number of fictional people who read each copy.

    Mumbrella had a report in August that showed ‘sales’ of the Terror were down about 30,000 copies per day from the previous year.

    Anecdotally, I know that a lot of people ‘read’ News Corp filth by slowly flipping the pages – the whole exercise takes a few minutes but the lies still seep into the conscious and leak out again when you try to have a sensible discussion with them.

  12. Quoting me, as follows,

    We should stop horse racing.

    @Paul Norton said:

    If we take this step:
    (a) how do we then provide for the horses whose upkeep and welfare currently depends on the stream of resources and revenue provided by horse racing;

    The people involved in this racket are not poor. I’d levy them and encumber their assets to recover it if needs be. I’d do this for dog racing too.

    I’d allow a phase out period of five years where stricter regulation would apply.

    (b) what is the social opportunity cost of providing an alternative stream of resources and revenue to ensure the upkeep and welfare of the horses?

    None, as far as I can see.

    This is not apologetics for the industry, simply to state some realities that those concerned with the horses’ welfare need to engage with.

    You offer no basis for inferring an apologia. I merely note the moral hazard raised by objections of this kind.

    PS I composed a far better response than this but WP/Cloudflare conspired with my outdated PC to destroy it. Not a great moment in IT so my apologies for posting something far short of the standard I like to maintain. The IPad, especially on a train, is far less flexible.


  13. Why anyone is actually interested in horse racing is beyond me. It just seems to be a mafia-like industry designed to facilitate betting and drinking (two major social problems) that has magically convinced State Governments it should receive assistance (direct and indirect). But even Tom Waterhouse the bookie has recognised the slow demise of the industry and, like others, now provides opportunities to bet of other sports – ones where the competitors are at least participating on a voluntary basis (unlike the horses).

    Getting rid of the industry is not realistic, but surely simple changes to the rules (minimum ages, no whips, no jump racing etc.) would reduce the risks to horses. Surely that is an achievable and relatively sensible approach.

    @Fran Barlow

  14. @Jim

    Yes, the steps you suggest would be a step forward and thus worth having, but this is a bit like compelling slaveowners to be less inhumane. We should be depriving them of their slaves, surely?

  15. @Paul Norton

    A bit of googling reveals that Queensland and Victoria, for example, both subsidise the racing industry to the tune of about $20 million per year. Each state has about 9,000 horses that race, so these state governments are already paying $2,200 a year per horse.

    That’s not enough to keep a horse (the estimates I came across were $2,500-$7,000), but if we compare racing industry subsidies continuing into the future, on the one hand, with government provision for the welfare of horses through an adjustment period during which breeding rates decline over time, on the other, I think the “where will we find the money” argument essentially vanishes.

    That said, I agree with Jim that elimination of the industry is not realistic, but reforms are warranted.

  16. @Luke Elford

    That said, I agree with Jim that elimination of the industry is not realistic, but reforms are warranted.

    It’s not realistic in the same sense that cutting emissions sharply and early in Australia is not realistic. It’s also not realistic to think we can overturn marijuana laws or prevent governments buying expensive ‘defence’ equipment to kill people, stop live exports, end mandatory detention, abolish the states, get rid of poker machines, or break the US alliance.

    Yes, none of these things may occur while you and I are alive. It is arguable that they may never occur. Yet if we don’t press for them we simply legitimise the status quo. We should never lose sight of the big picture, or affirm by our silence, that which is wrong.

  17. > Why anyone is actually interested in horse racing is beyond me.

    Well, it’s better than poker machines.

    [the house percentage compounds on every wager, remember.]

  18. @Paul Norton

    Yea gods, what opportunism….

    How about switching nouns???

    Fran Barlow @31:

    We should stop slave owning.

    If we take this step:
    (a) how do we then provide for the slaves whose upkeep and welfare currently depends on the stream of resources and revenue provided by slave labour; and
    (b) what is the social opportunity cost of providing an alternative stream of resources and revenue to ensure the upkeep and welfare of the slaves?
    This is not apologetics for the industry, simply to state some realities that those concerned with slaves’ welfare need to engage with.

    I know a bourgeois when I see one.

  19. Ceasing subsidies for uneccessary and even deletrious things would be a big start. We need to cease all subsidies and assistance for fossil fuels, horse racing, car racing, tourism and gambling.

    And don’t tell me gambling doesn’t get subsidies and assistance. It does. Even though paradoxically the government also takes a rake of the profits. The subsidy to horse racing is an indirect subsidy for gambling. The special deals that Crown and other casinos get are subsidies.

    “(The Victorian Govt) signed away (its) right to make laws that tackled gambling and smoking in an extraordinary deal waved through Parliament days before the election campaign. The law not only restricts the actions of the Napthine government should it get back, but the actions of every future Victorian government for the next 36 years.

    Should a future government decide to impose a $1 betting limit on poker machines (as recommended by the Productivity Commission); should it decide to enforce the use of precommitment technology on poker machines; or should it require automatic teller machines to be further away from poker machines, it’ll be up for a $200 million payment to Crown. The size of the penalty will climb with inflation. By the time the provision expires in 2050 the penalty will be $480 million. – The Age – 28/10/2014.

  20. This is hopeless. I am getting moderated for the most innocuous posts. No links. No naughty words. No insulting words. No attacks on any individual. None of the known words that are ridiculously barred by the auto-censor (so far as I know).

    John, am I banned or semi-banned or getting filtered for posting too much?

    Well anyway, I am fed up. I doubt I will post anymore. It’s too hard to get a basic comment through on this blog anymore. Not worth wasting my time.

  21. @ZM
    Already north-facing with good balcony overhangs to shade most of the one exposed wall/window area during summer months, but urban areas have a lot of brick and asphalt surrounding apartments. In Adelaide, that makes for a fairly hot experience during summer months. Won’t be cracking the champagne should we ever make a 50C maximum 🙂

  22. Jacques Chester runs Ozblogistan (host of this site and Catalaxxy etc..).

    He ran for the NT seat of Solomon in the 2007 Federal election for the ‘Liberty and Democracy” party. He was a staffer for Dave Tollner – of recent infamy – CLP and recently Deputy Chief Minister of the NT.

    This is a theatre and we are the players.

  23. @Ikonoclast
    Ikon, I’m glad that post finally made it, it’s very interesting. This is the government that also signed the contracts for the East West link a few weeks ago, even though there’s huge opposition, local Councils are in court opposing it, and Labor has announced it won’t proceed. On Crown though, Labor’s playing dead I think. The word is Packer’s made a huge donation. Same old, same old. I really really hope the Greens win Brunswick (Melbourne, Richmond, and Northcote are all in contention and apparently they’re putting a lot of effort into Prahran, south of the river).

    Just show the old Lib Labs that time is running out – not that they will believe it, they’ll probably just think it’s Melbourne being anomalous again, but if we can do it, so can others. Labor is getting a wake up call though, all this area of Northern suburbs used to be their heartland. As far as I can see it’s not getting through, just making them be nasty to the Greens (presumably on the basis that they have tricked former Labor supporters into voting for them).

    And I realised that Gough’s memorial service was on yesterday when I was on the tram reading twitter, and ended up sitting on the tram with tears in my eyes.

  24. By the way, on horse racing, the First Dog cartoon on Croquembouche Lad really nails it, if you haven’t read it already.

  25. Apparently I was wrong on the Packer front – he is said to have promised Andrews (Labor) his support, not given a donation. Apparently donations from that industry in Victoria have been banned – one small step forward, if so.

  26. Ok Colleen Lewis in the Age 15 October says the cap on donations from the g-mbling industry is $50,000. So not that much of a restriction in fact! Won’t know how much Packer may have given until well after the election on our rules.

    Sorry about multiple posts, will stop for a while.

  27. With Sydney’s 46.8C last year I believe the southern mainland capitals have each nudged 47C. When the SBS world weather forecast mentions 50C for Baghdad we might think lucky it’s not us. Not for long. Thermal comfort for the frail is a matter of public health. The UK has its winter fuel allowance of 100-300 pounds for those over 62. Perhaps Australia will need an air conditioning allowance. Like medical marijuana in the US it is sure to be falsely claimed.

    Aside from risk of heat death there is also the loss of productivity in hot weather. An upper limit is said to be 35C wet bulb temperature
    Rooftop PV has shifted peak summer electricity demand from about local 2 pm to 6 pm but we’ll need even more electricity in future just for air conditioning.

  28. The Coalition for the Protection of Race Horses says that 18000 are born each year in Aust and the number of competing horses is stable at about 31000 ;- so 18000 exit the industry each year. Only 30 % of foals will race and the CPR estimates from research at sale yards that 75 – 85 % go to kill buyers. The same type of thing happens with the dogs too.

    Ex race horses are hard to look after ,my sister has one and dosent ride him anymore- he is flighty . Also horses can live along time, her other horse died this year at the age of 44 -before retirement he did 19 years work at a riding for the disabled school in Canberra.

    Iko and Val – yes it looks alot like Labor gave Crown 36 years of protection to secure Packers backing .

  29. sunshine :
    Iko and Val – yes it looks alot like Labor gave Crown 36 years of protection to secure Packers backing .

    That’s such an utter disgrace:( I reckon our parliamentarians should be forced to work for a month in an Emergency Ward to visually gauge the direction they’re pushing society:(

  30. How many jihadists are there in Syria and Iraq? – republished from Voltaire Net

    The Syrian conflict, from the perspective of Australian history: In 1942, Australia, with the help of its American allies led by President Franklin Roosevelt, prevented invasion by the Empire of Japan. Much of this was due to the preparedness of Australia’s own defence forces, as described in “Armed and Ready” (1995) by A. T. Ross.

    However, had Australia, in 1942, faced what Syria has had to face since March 2011 – hordes of foreign terrorists, estimated to number as many as 250,000, operating from countries bordering Syria – Australia almost certainly would have been conquered.

    Against the expectations of even many sympathetic to Syria, she has withstood invasion and defeated the terrorists.

    But that endurance has come at a terrible cost. Some estimates put the cost so far to be as high as 195,000 dead, in addition to the wounded and terrible material destruction suffered by Syria.

    No country, not even a country as resourceful as Syria, can indefinitely defend itself from invasion from territories embracing at least one third of the world’s land mass. Unless Syria’s friends within those countries can force their governments to end their support for the terrorists, Syria could well be defeated. The consequences for Syria could well be commensurate with the carnage and destruction endured by its neighbour Iraq since 1990.

  31. @sunshine The mounted police use ex racehorses – but they are intensively screened first.

    Ex racehorses can make wonderful riding horses but you have to be careful in your selection, breeding and/or mis handling can result in a horse that is a danger to all.

  32. @rog

    Misleading. Democrats of doubtful repute got belted by Repugs backed by many more dollars per vote and a rigged voter-supressing system.

  33. Ivor @69, if you think about it there is a difference between slaves and horses that is materially relevant to the issues.

  34. Jim @64, the sort of reforms you propose are eminently achievable and should be pursued.

    On the wider question that I raised, whatever the evils of the existing horseracing and breeding industries, they do provide an infrastructure and a skilled labour force for the upkeep and the management of several tens of thousands of horses. If those industries were to shut down (and you couldn’t shut down one without shutting down the other) the horses and their needs would remain, and some kind of plan (entailing considerable expenditure, and employment of a relatively specialised labour force for at least a couple of decades into the future) would need to be implemented.

    If the Willowbend Stud Farm south of Beaudesert, for example, were to cease operating as a breeding operation, the horses that dwell there would still need to be grazed, groomed, fed, watered, vetted, etc., and these activities would need to be carried out by people with the requisite skills and training. Currently this is paid for by the revenue that is brought in by the stud’s commercial breeding activities, and would need to be paid for by other means if that revenue were no longer coming in.

    Now it could be argued – and I would not oppose the argument – that members of a humane and civilised society ought to be prepared to pay the price for this. Whether Australians would in fact be prepared to pay such a price for such a purpose is far from certain – as is whether deficit-obsessed governments would be willing to ensure the ongoing provision of sufficient funds for such a purpose for as long as was necessary. I strongly suspect that if, three years after the phase-out of the racing and breeding industry, governments began cutting funding for the Thoroughbreds Humane Transition Program (or whatever it would be called) to the point where ex-racehorses began dying miserable deaths from neglect or unskilled management, it would not arouse the emotions that have been aroused by the tragic deaths of Admire Rakti and Aroldo.

  35. @Paul Norton

    My first preference would in theory, be to require those in the ‘industry’ to stump up the money to agist/care for the horses left over by, say, a date five years after breeding and registration of new horses was prohibited.

    In practice of course, there’s no law that says you have to have a reason to euthanase an animal you own so I imagine that what we’d see is horse owning syndicates doing what businesses always do with marginal assets — sell them for the best price they can get or write them off and scrap them. That should mean that the number of horses left over to agist would be quite small. Most would wind up as pet food, giving the lie to current ‘industry’ talking points about how much they love their horses. I suppose an end to their cant would be something.

    Failing that it might have to be the equivalent of an industry bailout. Certainly, governments have raised a fair bit of revenue on the backs of horses, so I’d back that approach, allowing horses to be fostered through bona fide rescue organisations who could be funded by the state. In this model, the ‘industry’ would be wound up immediately, assets purchased on the spot at market value, with nothing for the horses, and suitable withholdings for horses held up to a given date and their value. You’d probably have to buy their debts to employees and other unsecured creditors.

  36. While Australians don’t eat much horsemeat themselves they do have a horsemeat export industry. While in Japan I was served raw horse meat. I was tempted to flog it but I thought the subtle nuances of that act would be lost on my hosts.

  37. Meeting tomorrow, Saturday 8 November: How Big For Sydney?

    At 2pm at the Glebe Town Hall, listen to guest speakers Jack Mundey, Jill Green of STEP, Tony Recsei of Save Our Suburbs and William Bourke of the Sustainable Population Party. They will ask:
    What are the risks associated with adding another 3.5 million people to Sydney?
    Why are sprawl and high density presented as the only options?
    Are extreme levels of housing unaffordability placing an unfair burden on the City’s young?
    What will be the impacts upon our surrounding native flora and fauna?

    Come along and ask your own questions.

  38. The ‘fracking boom’ is a Ponzi scheme that is more about Wall Street money-making than oil.

    “A comprehensive new analysis just issued by David Hughes, a Canadian oil geo-scientist with thirty years’ experience with the Geological Survey of Canada, using data from existing US shale oil production that has now become public for the first time (the shale oil story is very recent), shows dramatic rates of oil volume decline from US shale oil wells:”

    The three year average well decline rates for the seven shale oil basins measured for the report range from an astounding 60-percent to 91-percent. That means over those three years, the amount of oil coming out of the wells decreases by that percentage. This translates to 43-percent to 64-percent of their estimated ultimate recovery dug out during the first three years of the well’s existence. Four of the seven shale gas basins are already in terminal decline in terms of their well productivity: the Haynesville Shale, Fayetteville Shale, Woodford Shale and Barnett Shale.

    The decline rates have always stood out as giving the lie to the ‘boom’ story. Classic ‘Red Queen’ scenario.

    Unless we are able to ‘Lock The Gate’ we are going to devastate large areas of Qld and NSW, and further afield, for a scam.

  39. The smh article, referenced below, is another one that shines light on the big leaners in this so-called global economy. There has been a series of such articles months ago and again more recently.

    There are two types of big leaners involved. Firstly, (the managers of) multinational corporations and, second those who make an extraordinary good living from it – specialist lawyers and accountants.

    The latter self-reveal in the referenced article by means of defending the existing structures on the grounds – and this is particularly interesting in a funny kind of way- of countries’ interests!! One has to read it to believe it.


    The objective of making multinationals pay tax in the country where income is earned sounds reasonable. Achieving this objective would surely result in something better than what is going on now. However, I say this objective is not strong enough because it is impossible even for the most honest and diligent accountant and auditor to know whether an invoice (expense) is technologically required for the local production, including delivery. IMHO, a revenue tax would overcome this problem.

    The implications of cracking the symbiotic relationship of the big leaners are far reaching. It is not only the national budget bottom line that is affected (and therefore education, health, infrastructure, social insurance, the environment). The entire relative price structure of the local economy is affected. To illustrate, consider land values in CBDs. These are driven by the rents of real estate that can be extracted. It makes technological sense for lawyers to have offices close to where the courts are. Lawyers in the said symbiotic relationship can offer high rents (because of their income). This affects the price structure of all legal fees, even though the personal incomes of the lawyers involved may differ significantly and the effect on the wealth of small and medium sized businesses as well as individuals is also different. A similar argument applies to large corporate accounting firms. And so it goes on.

    Cracking the said symbiotic relationships does affect the income and wealth distribution as well as government budgets. It is important.

  40. Paranthetically to my post @48,p2, the particular tax haven in the smh article – Lichtenstein – makes the relationship between the pre-Adam Smith era of the idea of a competitive market economy very clear. For a very long time I wondered why people are so interested in having a republic while a much older form of social organisation than that of a constitutional monarchy was growing. (Such are the little pleasures in life.)

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