Monday Message Board

Another Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.

Since it’s notionally the Queen’s Birthday today, I’d be interest in thoughts about the prospects for, and politics of, an Australian republic.

137 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. @Donald Oats
    Please don’t call the last government an ALP/Greens coalition – it was nothing of the kind. I hesitate to accuse others of deliberate dishonesty, but that is, at least, a misrepresentation of the situation.

  2. The Killing Season is good TV but I think like most media representations it portrays politics and government as being about interpersonal conflict rather than the boring but necessary stuff of forming policy and making decisions. I think that’s partly why the show is not good for Gillard – I agree she made some bad choices but I think you still have to ask why she had the overwhelming support of her colleagues, as well as the factional guys, and I would think from what I know of her it would be because she was calm and competent and got on with things.

    I don’t want to get into a Rudd vs Gillard battle, which has never been my interest (my interest was always in how sexism played out in all this), but I think that doesn’t come across well in the series.

    I think they should have left Rudd in place for the election, I think Jenny Macklin was probably right that he would have been able to perform, and then if they were still unhappy look at the leadership issue after the election (which I think they would have won in fact). However hindsight is a wonderful thing so who can say what would have happened.

    All that said, I can’t warm to Rudd – he so clearly sees things the way that suits him, and always blames someone else for mistakes.

  3. @Megan
    As to your point about Rudd’s managerial shortcomings, Megan, the public may not have noticed them generally but in the election the spotlight is on, and in practice he did do some pretty wacky things in the 2013 election. So those who doubted that he could perform in the 2010 election weren’t completely off target, although as I said I tend to agree with Jenny Macklin that he probably would have risen to the challenge.

    I don’t the issue based things you list had much to do with it. I am pretty certain in particular that no-one significant in the ALP would have held the Apology against him. They’re pretty bad, the ALP in general, about going along with right-wing and neoliberal stuff, I agree with you on that, but they’re really not as bad as you think. I mean look at Keating – neoliberal as hell in some ways but passionate on Indigenous rights.

  4. @Troy Prideaux

    If your question is ‘How is it possible for internal polling to produce results which differ from the public polls by more than the conventional margin of sampling error?’ the answer is still the same ‘Why shouldn’t that be possible?’

    Obviously I don’t know what the internal polling actually said, or how the internal polling was conducted, or how reliable it was, or what sort of differences there might have been from the public polls (in results, in methodology, or in reliability). But there’s nothing intrinsically implausible about the idea of internal polling producing significantly different results from published polls. Is there something that makes you think it is?

  5. I did not watch The Killing Season, but the articles in the paper I have read seem to suggest that the campaign to undermine and replace Kevin Rudd had quite a lead up to the actual event, and was driven by others rather than Julia Gillard, but that she did not rule it out in discussions leading up to the event.

    From The Guardian:

    “Gillard’s supporters have always described the coup as a kind of “spontaneous uprising” but the documentary paints a more complex picture.

    Gillard’s then adviser, Gerry Kitchener, says Gillard could have killed the plot even though she wasn’t driving it.

    “She listened to them. Obviously she was in a position to rule it out and she didn’t and events moved forward because of that. That’s sort of different from saying she was agitating. She wasn’t agitating at all. Other people were agitating. But she didn’t say no.”

    “I took maybe four phone calls from Bill Shorten. He obviously at that point was concerned that if she didn’t do it that there’d be repercussions. I think in the last phone call, he said to me ‘Gerry, we’re all fucked if she doesn’t do this,’ ” Kitchener said.”

    When I wrote my long letter complaining about the matter, I tried to draw attention to how it was not appropriate for Bill Shorten to be doing the numbers to decide who was to be Prime Minister outside of Parliament House. All the discussions and the voting about who should be Prime Minister should have taken place inside of Parliament House following the proper procedures and having records be made of discussions and votes.

    In my letter I pointed out that this was doubly bad because of Bill Shorten’s relationship to the then Governor General Quentin Bryce — I tried to make an AFL sporting analogy where the Governor General was like the umpire and should have called foul at this most improper way of changing Prime Ministers, but I admit my sporting analogy drew criticism as people said it was not a good enough analogy and I betrayed my lack of knowledge about sports.

  6. @J-D
    As I said, there are stipulated margins of error that are provided with such results. Such are generally in the low single digit percentile for external poles IIRC ( I could be wrong). I can’t imagine they would be significantly more for internal polling, so maybe there was a significant deviation from that or maybe there was something else at play. I was asking the question as to how it’s possible and the explanation you provided whilst entirely possible, sounds to me like one of the least plausible.

  7. @David Irving (no relation)
    I don’t precisely know what your point is, for the Greens had an agreement with the ALP, and from July onwards, had the balance of power in the Senate: this meant that for a bill to pass, both the ALP and the Greens had to agree to it in the Senate. While there was a seriously lopsided power asymmetry in the arrangement between the Greens and the ALP, without the Greens Adam Bandt in the House of Representatives, the ALP would have required another independent to form the minority government. In any case, the Greens were fundamental for bills passing the Senate.

    If, by my use of the word “coalition”, you think I am connoting that the Greens were complicit in every policy decision made under PM Julia Gilliard’s watch, then let me say that that is not what I am stating. I am stating that the Greens had specific agreement to form the minority government (which also required two independents from the House of Reps), in particular to pass supply bills essential to the functioning of the government, and to vote down any no-confidence motions the Greens judge to contain no merit. It was a very conditional agreement, but it was a definite signed-in-writing agreement. That makes it a coalition. To what extent the Greens were invited into the tent with respect to the detailed strategy making and policy framing, I can’t say, beyond the obvious that the ALP would have minimised the Greens’ involvement as much as they could, agreement notwithstanding. It’s still an agreement to form a minority government, of which the Greens formed an essential part: textbook definition of coalition.

  8. @Troy Prideaux

    The fact that a margin of error is quoted for an opinion poll is not a guarantee that the poll is correct to within that margin of error.

    Statisticians distinguish between what they call ‘sampling error’ and what they call ‘non-sampling error’.

    Errors which result from a sample not being randomly selected but instead being systematically skewed or biassed towards (or away from) particular sub-groups in the populations being sampled are described as ‘non-sampling error’.

    The inescapable fact that the sample is not the population and can randomly differ (in relation to the characteristics being measured) from the population produces ‘sampling error’.

    Because sampling error is itself a pure statistical phenomenon in a way that non-sampling error is not, it can itself by analysed by statistical means. This is where reported margins of error come from. But what those reported margins of error tell us is that in the absence of non-sampling error, the sample result will be within that margin of the population result nineteen times out of twenty.

    That still leaves one poll in twenty that is ‘wrong’ by more than the margin of error, and that’s without even considering non-sampling error.

    People who study these things notice that there are systematic consistent differences over time between different pollsters (perhaps one giving better results for Labor and another better results for the Coalition, for example). These can be presumed to result from differences in the methodology of different pollsters, and therefore different non-sampling errors. This phenomenon is also referred to as ‘house effects’.

    So among the other possibilities there is the possibility that a difference between the ALP’s internal polling and published polling could be a result of house effects. Maybe the ALP’s internal polling has a much superior methodology and is more reliable. Or maybe it has a much inferior methodology and is less reliable. As it’s not published, how can we judge?

  9. PS:

    Another reason

    4. He upset Israel by his (despite it being painfully mild) reaction to their using Australian passports/stolen identities for their assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in early 2010 in Dubai.

  10. @Val

    Speaking as someone with zero respect for Rudd, it seemed to me that by June of 2010, the ALP had no good alternative but to keep him as leader, constraining his conduct as best they could and running a campaign in as unified a way as they were able.

    They might well have won, and one consequence of this would have been a body blow to Murdoch and extractive industry more generally. Had they lost, then they’d have been rid of Rudd once and for all and could have then poured out their angst until it was spent.

    It’s also possible that a result very much like the 43rd parliament might have ensued, and they might at that point have rolled him, assuming he hadn’t got the message about normal cabinet processes. That too would have driven Murdoch nuts.

    Gillard came out badly from ‘Killing Season’ because even now, she feels the need to dissemble, to offer a misleading and almost certainly mendacious defence of her actions. I don’t doubt that Rudd was an egregious person with whom to work, but that didn’t seem to be a big issue until he lost the support of Murdoch.

    Really, as I’ve said a number of times, he should have been given notice in late 2009 that normal cabinet organisation had to be resumed (i.e. an end to the ‘Gang of Four’) normal processes and timelines for decision-making followed and a re-establishment of respectful and collegial discourse achieved, with a warning then that his leadership was in the balance. Had that occurred, I have no doubt that he would have fallen into line, and if he had not, then they could have rolled him, spilled the beans and then recovered to reassert politics.

    But of course, they are not a healthy organisation but a band of spivs.

  11. Incurable Alzheimers or curable B12 deficiency? An epidemic of wilful medical ignorance (20/6/15) by Sheila Newman

    They tell us that Australia has an ‘aging population problem’ and an associated ‘dementia epidemic’, with Alzheimers Disease the leading diagnosis. But everything that looks like Alzheimers is not Alzheimers. Vitamin B12 deficiency causes an easily treatable and reversible form of dementia which has been increasingly overlooked since the 1980s, although it was discovered in 1900 and the cure found in 1926, earning Minot and Murphy a Nobel Prize. Previously it was core medical practitioner knowledge that the ability to absorb Vitamin B12 via the gut diminishes with age and may cause dementia. [See appendix at end of article: “Useful reference documents on age, Vitamin B12 and dementia.”] This failure to absorb Vitamin B12 orally can be compensated by B12 injections and or by megadose lozenges or drops absorbed under the tongue. It used to be wide practice to give B12 injections to people over 60 monthly in Australia and many other countries, but for a variety of reasons this went out of fashion.[1] The problem is not confined to the elderly. Children breastfeeding from mothers low in B12 have a high risk of neurological damage.[2] Vitamin B12 cannot be supplied from vegan diets. [2a] There is also quite a large group of people of all ages, including children, who develop auto-immune pernicious anaemia (due to loss of the ‘intrinsic factor’) [3], which can and will cause brain injury, psychiatric problems, dementia, paralysis and death if untreated. However Australian, British and United States medical teaching, diagnostic and treatment guidelines are very problematic with regard to B12 deficiencies. So problematic that there is now a huge international movement where sufferers of pernicious anaemia teach each other about diagnosis and treatment, and where to access different forms of the vitamin, while they try to inform the medical profession.

    (This article includes an embedded 51:45 minute video Diagnosing and Treating Vitamin B12 Deficiency and an embedded 1:58 minute trailer of the soon-to-be-released 2015 movie Sally Pocholok about a nurse who exposed the medical establishment’s burial of past knowledge that many diseases are bought about by insufficient vitamin B12.)

  12. @James

    ‘… As a neurologist who treats dementia … I … check patients who present with dementia for … vitamin B12 deficiency (this is standard practice). … If … blood work indicates a functional deficiency …, then I supplement and monitor the blood work to see how they respond. This is the evidence-based approach. Scientific doctors are good at asking meaningful questions and then doing research to answer them. … Turns out, there is no clinical response to routine treatment – so treatment should be targeted at those with a documented deficiency. …’
    (https://www dot sciencebasedmedicine dot org slash personalized-medicine-bait-and-switch)

    ‘… I realize that B12 injections are common. Many docs administer these, and many adults get these … Vitamin B12 deficiency is a real thing. … There is a simple blood test … So we can, in fact, know if a person is truly deficient. … The treatment of B12 deficiency, as has been established from studies done in the 1960s, is ORAL B12. That’s right. Pills. Injections of B12 are not necessary—oral supplements work well, even in pernicious anemia. They’re cheap and they work. … No needles needed.’
    (https://pediatricinsider dot wordpress dot com slash 2012 slash 12 slash 06 slash vitamin-b12-quackery)

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