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. If you would like to receive my (hopefully) regular email news, please sign up using the following link You can also follow me on Twitter @JohnQuiggin, at my Facebook public page   and at my Economics in Two Lessons page

48 thoughts on “Monday Message Board


    Talk about Labour not messing up for the election, this is A grade trash talk. ATARs for subjects differ mostly because of demand for the course instead of the it being the university’s “standard”. This reason alone is why ANU’s ATAR is generally lower than UNSW, USYD or even UTS and Macquarie.

    The main reason why University is letting lower ATARs into teaching is because teachers aren’t well paid nor are they well respected in Australia, so more high ATARs choose STEM and business over teaching. Many in the general public bashes public servants when they ask for pay rises or organise industrial actions, yet most of these people would also want highest quality public service. It is this logical dissonance of the general public that politicians have to manage, and this cannot be done by simply asking university to not allow lower ATARs into teaching. Tanya Plibersek is essentially asking for teacher shortage future.

  2. @Tom

    Minimum ATARs don’t say anything about average ATARs which is the measure you should be looking at (if you accept the premise that ATARs are a good predictor of how whether a cohort of student teachers are going to be good teachers). And on top of that as you say teaching as a profession is unattractive for many reasons.

    Plibersek is no dope and you can be sure she understands this perfectly well. This is just a way of being seen to care about teacher quality (undoubtedly something that comes up in focus groups) without doing anything about it.

  3. @Smith 9

    I don’t believe ATAR is a good predictor of who is going to be a good teacher. In fact, even if you are the best performer in your course in university, you can still be a bad teacher who reads a PowerPoint presentation word by word with a flat tone.

    Why I believe this comment by Plibersek is stupid, is because if it is suppose to score political points by being seen to care but not actually doing anything about it, it still have to be relatively convincing and not sound stupid. If you look at the Guardian comment section of that article, you’ll see that even the average Labour voter (most of Guardian readers are) sees this as stupid comment on improving teacher quality.

  4. I’ll second that Tom . Maybe just Labor small target strategy ,scared of Reinhardts IPA and Murdoch machine. Teacher trainers should be able to pick the good ones ,ATAR may not measure all relevant useful skills for teaching. Useful traits may not be as easily measurable as ATAR ones .I did HSC when all on one exam and we were classed A, B,C, etc from yr 7, I suppose ATAR is better than that at least. Teachers work pretty hard from what I can tell.

  5. 3 of my sons year 12 friends group enrolled at a Uni in Canada for various degrees in Teaching. They share an apartment near campus, and all work part time to help support the study. I met up with one of them, along with my son at Christmas. His choice was almost entirely about dissatisfaction with down south Uni’s, all these guys are NT born and Darwin educated. All of them had Ok to very good ATAR scores. They like the idea of almost instantly being able to have access to teaching options across a range of commonwealth countries, post degree completion obviously. Both my sons, as much as they love the NT and Australia, have their eyes wide open to living and working options overseas. Their friends group from school and work share similar views.


    Just as I blasted Labour’s Plibersek dumb comment yesterday, Terri Butler’s comment today is A grade material. Backed by logic, data and even comment from the Small Business Council of Australia, comments and policies like these are what Labour needs to win elections. It even made LNP look obvious that they are focused on punishing the disadvantaged rather than helping businesses (of course, we all know that).

  7. According to many reports the US government is partially in shutdown because Mr Trump is refused the money to build a wall on the Mexican border, as he had promised during his election campaign.

    I recall Mr Trump had promised to build a wall on the said border and he will make Mexico pay for it (therefore no need to have US government funds, therefore no need to partially shutdown the government and therefore no need to negotiate with the Democrats).

    Where am I wrong?

  8. The length of border wall built during this presidency is shorter than Trump’s little finger.

    The statistics so far;

    Length of US-Mexico Border = 1,954 miles.
    Pre-existing barriers = 654 miles
    Trump’s proposed wall = 1,000 miles.
    Trump Walls built * = 0 miles.

    * Excludes short prototype sections built off-border by prospective contractors, presumably at their own expense.

  9. Ernestine makes a good point. If Trump was a clever politician – good luck there – he would just close the Mexican border UNTIL the US congress gave him funding for his border wall/fence/ partition. Then Mexico would have paid a price for the wall. Mexico needs trade with the USA more than the USA needs trade with Mexico. Also it would hurt the very countries who are kicking out their citizens by their disastrous economic mismanagement. Still you cannot hope for such rhythmic logic from the current President of the USA.

  10. The American Constitution and political system are structurally dysfunctional. The evidence is that one man (the President elected by an undemocratic Electoral College) can shut down the government, against the wishes of Congress. Certainly, the shut down is against the wishes of the people.

    The USA was not created to be a democracy. It was created to be a patrician republic. That is to say, the rich and patrician oligarchs (patriarchs) and their families were intended to wield the real power through a compliant Congress and Senate and via control of the President or at least control of the Presidential Office. This intent runs right through the Constitution.

    These grave failings of the American system are now playing out. The continued power of the patrician class in America partially explains (from the political end) the continued dominance of extreme (now neoliberal) capitalism in America.

  11. The Menindee fish kill, the findings by the SA Royal Commission into the MDB (due Feb 1) and the upcoming elections, both NSW and federal, could provide for a perfect storm for the LNP. In particular the ex Minister for Water Resources and now special envoy for the drought, Barnaby Joyce.

  12. Bitcoin is up 25% in price since its low of a few weeks ago. It looks like Bitcoin wasn’t dead. It was just resting.

  13. The Menindee fish kills (2), the death of half the Barrier Reef since 2016, the 2016 mangrove die-off in the Gulf of Carpentaria (7,000ha of dead mangroves over 700km of coastline)… These are recent examples, just in Australia, of the damage that climate change and other presses and pulses (as they are called) are wreaking on our environment. These and other events like the massive and new wildfire patterns in many parts of the world, taken together, indicate the beginnings of a runaway collapse of our climate and ecosystems which in turn support our economies and human life. It is not the individual events but the pattern of increasing frequency and severity of multiple events which sounds the alarm.

    Those who believe that weak and slow market led adjustments will be sufficient to adjust to these problems and save the world ecosystems and ourselves are already in denial of the extant evidence. The market has failed to react in time. The runaway collapse has started. Again, those who deny it simply can’t read the early yet incontrovertible signs.

  14. The Menindee issue deserves careful analysis. The lakes it seems were not replenished partly because of the drought. Water was released from the lakes partly to meet environmental objectives downstream. In fact “no flows” for any length of time in the Darling seem to be rather rare events so it is difficult to know what is going on. Maybe it was a policy mistake or a policy action based on reasonable thinking and expectations which just failed. I’d really like to know the facts here. Of course the consequences have been tragic, indeed sickening.

  15. Data from BOM reveals that over 2017 and 2018 low rainfall records were broken within large parts of the MDB. BOM data also record record breaking temps within the same catchment. Combining high evaporation with low rainfall makes for conditions that are beyond the “norm”.

    Add the flagrant suppression of expert opinion by elected lawmakers (as detailed in the RC) and you have a dire situation that had been forecast by experts.

    We may have to treat irrigators like the car industry, not worth the subsidised pain.

  16. The question, Rog, is the extent to which extreme climatic circumstances have been aggravated by irrigator demands and by downstream demands for environmental water. Not obvious to me what is going on.

  17. There were reports about water stealing a while back. Overall, we can probably say it’s a sum of everything;

    Water theft plus legal withdrawals too high plus too many dams plus leaking infrastructure plus temperatures higher plus precipitation lower equals dead river. Along with sea level rise, Australians will be fleeing the coast and fleeing the advancing interior arid hot zone. It’s time to introduce zero net immigration. We can still take refugees and some immigrants and balance them by natural emigration. But our net immigration needs to be zero very soon.

  18. I just saw the video of dead 80 – 100 yr old Murray cod. The farming lobby is disproportionately powerful in Australia. The vast majority of our land is poor or very poor quality for modern farming but we manage to produce twice what we need due to the big scale and our small population . In their book ‘Game of Mates’ Murray and Frijters claim that 70% of farming households are in the top 20% of our countries wealthiest. The Guardian had a piece saying that 80% of the worlds farming land is for meat and dairy production ,and that they only provide about 1/3 of the worlds protein and 18 % of its calories, and that the world could easily be fed from the 20 % used for human consumption crops. Lets make that 80 % into nature reserves !

  19. I once opined to a work colleague that poor farmers who were National party supporters were foolish and I wondered why they gave such support.

    She said, “Perhaps they are dreaming of the day when their farm will do well enough to attract subsidies.”

  20. The American Constitution and political system are structurally dysfunctional.

    The US Constitution has significant faults (every constitution has significant faults). I think it’s worth pointing out that one of the faults which is important to bringing about the current deadlock is the separation of powers. Admirers of the US Constitution often point to this as one of its main glories; but it isn’t, it’s a folly, as the current deadlock illustrates. The deadlock is about budgeting. Is budgeting a legislative or an executive function? It’s both; indeed, it is both the most important legislative function and the most important executive function. Trying to segregate legislative and executive functions is foolish, because it’s utterly impossible. The deadlock currently afflicting the US would not be likely to trouble any of those countries whose constitutions sensibly link the legislature and the executive. They have their own problems, of course.

  21. Fish kill. What is the word for this. Not decemation. So LAST WEEK. Anihilation? Genocide?

    Take a history tour of Minindee (Lakes): read:  Dam. “Minindee Ephemeral lakes – short-lived lakes and ponds”. Calling them lakes in the first place was a mistake. 7m depth at original flood height. An insult to real lakes. 

    What Minindee LAKES looked like;

    Oh. Dam Minindee…

    Menindee Lake Flood – N.S.W. (1962) British Pathé
    Note narrator saying ” never again would they face a water shortage in a dry desolate part of the continent”. I’d rofl if this were not so serious 

    Australian water “has been one of consistent failure” – in Minindee Lakes case 75 years. And counting…

    Family friends and I have swum in Burrendong and Windamere Dams. And the cudgeegong river. My parents used to live in Mudgee. Burrendong has had low inflows and usually recharges Minindee (read: cotton) so Windamere has to flow to burrendong on on to Minindee. Reports of Mudgee town meetings show half of required discharge waiting until july for full transfer if no appreciable rain in burrendong. See:

    “Professor Kingsford said the Menindee Lakes had been drained more often than in the past – including twice in the past four years – making such diasters more likely: “It’s a classic example of nature biting back”.

    Cudgeegong river flows to burrendong and the river is running so fast I’d expect any platypus will be washed downstream or access hole in bank flooded – ie drowned.

    In this publication** (see below) Prof Q, (how best to refer to you please) did you get data on percentages from the mda? ‘High reliability’ water has 95% is assumed to be delivered. In a ‘dry year’ only 75%. As the lakes are now drawing water from Windamere Dam near Mudgee nsw, dropping storage there from 47 to 30 and probably july to17% guaranteeing blue green algae outbreaks later this / next / most summers, to put some water back down cudgeegong and gwyder rivers to feed Burrandong Dam (which is near empty), then down Barton, darling, into Minindee, and on to parched cotton farms – thence atmosphere, aqua and round again. 

    What happens next summer if no appreciable inflows into either dam?

    It would seem like we are robbing central west to pay for cotton. Is this correct? Do ANY of the profits stay in oz? Finance via double dutch Irish or ‘loans’ at inflated percentages? 

    **Property Rights and Water Buy Back in Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin
    Schools of Economics and Political Science
    David Adamson, Max Oss-Emer and John Quiggin

    And judging by this map the cudgeegong gwydir barwon darling murray are not rivers but infrastructure and drains to support agribiz.

    ++””Here’s a a table from an article I published in the Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics a couple of years ago.

    Table 1: Water required for $1 000 gross profit
    Commodity Water use, in Ml
    Fruit 2.0
    Vegetables 4.6
    Dairy products 5.0
    Cotton 7.6
    Rice 18.5
    Pasture 27.8
    Source: adapted from Hall, Poulter and Curtotti (1994)   …  “”

    …the number in the table implies 18,000 litres for a dollar of profit in rice (ed. 7,600 litres for a dollar profit in cotton?). Assuming gross profit is around half the value of total output, the number quoted also looks pretty accurate.””  And see comments. ++

    Q: Are local pasture growers using more water than cotton?

    Q: why do we publish blue green algae alerts??? Because it kills. Where is the science and medical and stats please.

    Q: why is a rapid release which has caused human deaths in recent memory not outlawed – 1994 discharge was large and fast flowing led to 3 kids drowning???

    The nitrogen and phosphorous load took ten years for the benthos ( lake bottom goop) in windamere to accumulate enough to generate alagal blooms. Sewer treatment plant at Rylestone still being upgraded to stop chemical load discharged into cudgeegong. And therefore 1-2 decades after all point source pollution ceased for algal blooms to cease. Two properties in catchment show outlier discharges – probably rained the day after fertilized. NSW State Library ref. Nq333.91621/10. Nutrient source management upper cudgeegong river. Dept Heritage and Planning 1992

    May I humbly suggest JQ your sustainability and risk group update all these 1994 analyses above. I would offer assistance if needed as a researcher. This is important and will effect Australia more than interest rates in the near future. Not medium or long term. Now.

    My father won the contract in 1984? to install high pressure multistage pumps in the dam wall of windamere supposedly to secure Mudgee’s water supply. Ha! The contract for the pipes from windamere to mudgee was never let. So the $180k of pumps have never sent a drop to mudgee. Anď still lie in situ. Doing nothing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s