Saturday salon 6/9


An open thread where, at your leisure, you can discuss anything you like, well, within reason and the Comments Policy. Include here news and views, plus any notable personal experiences from the week and the weekend.

For climate topics please use the most recent Climate clippings.

The gentleman in the image is Voltaire, who for a time graced the court of Frederick II of Prussia, known as Frederick the Great. King Fred loved to talk about the universe and everything at the end of a day’s work. He also used the salons of Berlin to get feedback in the development of public policy.

Fred would only talk in French; he regarded German as barbaric. Here we’ll use English.

The thread will be a stoush-free zone. The Comments Policy says:

The aim [of this site] is to provide a venue for people to contribute and to engage in a civil and respectful manner.

Here are a few bits and pieces that came to my attention last week.

1. Paul Kelly’s new tome

Richard Fidler talked to Paul Kelly about his new book Triumph and Demise. All of the main players talked to Kelly on the record, which they haven’t done for anyone else. In all other cases I know at least one or the other of them wouldn’t talk or wouldn’t talk on the record.

I’m hoping to do a full-length post. Kelly mentions at least one incident I didn’t know about. There was a conversation between Rudd and Gillard on the verandah of Kirribilli in January 2010. That was where Gillard told Rudd she thought he should forget about climate change for a time, so it supports the “She made me do it” thesis. Kelly will have none of that. He says Rudd ignored Gillard’s advice often enough and has to take responsibility.

At that meeting Kelly says Gillard formed the opinion that Rudd was in no shape mentally to lead the party to an election.

The book looks like a ‘must read’.

2. The Searchers

The Searchers is the name of a 1956 film which this review suggests is “considered by many to be a true American masterpiece of filmmaking, and the best, most influential, and perhaps most-admired film of director John Ford.”

Certainly it did not do well when it was made, but influenced film makers such as Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Jean-Luc Godard, Wim Wenders, and George Lucas. In a recent survey it was rated the seventh best film of all time. Now Glenn Frankel has written an amazing book called The Searchers: the Making of an American Legend. The book tells you everything you’d want to know about the incident it was based on, the Alan Le May novel, Frank Nugent’s script, about John Wayne, John Ford and the making of the film itself as though he was there on the set.

He also unravels the grisly truth about the story of how Cynthia Ann Parker was taken by Comanches in an 1836 raid and retrieved in a ‘battle’ (actually a massacre of old men, women and children) by Texas rangers in 1860. He tells the story of Cynthia’s son Quanah Parker. Most of all he tells us how the legend of ‘how the West was won’ was formed over a century or more, and the racism that underlies it.

I’ve read the book with pleasure, now I’d like to see the film.

3. Barrier Reef dredging plans changes

It looks as though plans to dump waste on the Great Barrier Reef will be changed so that the waste will be dumped on land. What the report doesn’t say is that the change of plans is based on new technology, making land dumping the cheaper option rather than an outbreak of good sense on the part of the minister, Greg Hunt.

4. What Country in the World Best Fits Your Personality?

For me the answer is Iceland.


What a surprise!

8 thoughts on “Saturday salon 6/9”

  1. Rob Burgess of Business Spectator has a critical look at the Government’s northern development plan There were a few nice lines:

    Scientists have, for centuries, repeated the maxim ‘nature abhors a vacuum’. However it is only in the past century or so that Australian politicians have been stuck on a similar maxim — ‘voters abhors empty spaces on a map’.

    And the Abbott government believes this more than most.


    Its ‘foodbowl of Asia’ slogan, for example, was a feel-gool phrase that lacked any substance, as agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce recently admitted. (Barnaby’s boom needs Chinese wisdom, August 13 The soils of northern Australia are ancient, and very poor when compared to the fertile volcanic soils of Indonesia just to the north.


    Had the government’s promise before the election been to develop all regional towns in Australia beginning with ‘P’, a similar report could have been written.

    That’s because a survey of such towns would turn up opportunities in agriculture, tourism, defence, education and research, and so on, and social engineers in Canberra could get to work allocating funds to help develop them.

    That, in a nutshell, is what’s wrong with the 2030 Vision. It aims to facilitate a host of development projects based on one unifying theme — their ‘northness’.

    Such an objective is cart-before-horse thinking.

  2. John
    Infigen Energy seem to love the idea in their submission.

    And this from the paper is probably why,

    Recommendation 32
    5.103 The Committee recommends that the Australian Government promote the use of renewable energy sources as a solution to the remoteness and isolation from the grid of many homesteads and communities in Northern Australia.
    5.104 The Committee is conscious that one of the answers to the remoteness and distance from the power grid for isolated areas is the use of renewable energy sources. For example, the proposed wind farm in the Newcastle Range at Forsayth, the creation of a solar farm to feed into the power supply at Cooktown, and proposals for the development of renewable energy in the Torres Strait Islands, are just some examples of where renewable energy is providing sustainable solutions to energy problems in Northern Australia. The Committee is also of the view that solar power is an ideal energy sources for many remote communities. Solar power reduces reliance upon the use of diesel fuel. There is already extensive use of solar power in Northern Australia, as evidenced by work in remote communities such as the Mackerel Islands off Western Australia and Hermannsburg in the Northern Territory.

    Given some of the ideas, like Lake Argyle concept, it’s a clean slate in many places not anchored to existing energy
    infrastructure that often hindered innovation in energy production.

    The big must is water and things are developing there to.

  3. Jumpy: Lake Argyle was completed in 1971. It hasn’t been a raging success, in part because of problems that are common for develop the north projects.
    I get twitchy when pollies start talking about dams. They are luvlie monuments of the sort pollie crave. Some really are worth building but every dam proposal should be checked out by people with serious grade BS detectors.
    You are right about the rethink that is going on providing power to isolated communities.

  4. Best Country fitting my personality was France. No surprise there.

    Been binge watching Mad Men series 1-6. Still brilliant. Long time since I’ve watched it. Find the workaholic, alcoholic, sex-addicted Don Draper very hard to take.

    Have lots of books on the go – so what did I do? Start a new one : Alexander Watson, Ring of Steel. Germany and Austria-Hungary at War, 1914-1918.. Claims to be the first book to be written from that perspective. So far its very good, though I’m only a little bit into the first chapter.

    Books on the go or half finished, just began, include an economic history of Nazi Germany, a book on Hitler’s inner circle, a book on the Russian Civil War, biographies of Trotsky and Stalin, a book on the Great Famine in Ireland, two books on Weimar Germany, a military history of the WW2 Russian campaign from the Soviet perspective and a book on Bretton Woods. Have a new medieval history arriving. I promise myself I will get through them all.

  5. I decided to take a look to see what my next electricity bill will be like. Here are origin energy’s NSW published post Carbon Price removal electricity rates.

    I have the bill from just a few years ago when the retail rate was 13.6 cents. My next domestic bill will be 34.34 cents per unit.

    The incentive to install rooftop solar continues to increase, no FIT required at all.

  6. In the meantime it looks as though Tony Rudd misunderstood how strong support was for the RET

    It appears Tony Abbott is about to be blindsided by a grassroots revolt over the Renewable Energy Target.

    In the end, it seems the Prime Minister has pushed too far, failing to appreciate that the Renewable Energy Target is not simply the carbon tax just a bit smaller.

    Reports from a variety of sources in the media – and corroborated by stakeholders – indicate that government MPs are extremely dissatisfied with the PM’s Office over how the review of the RET has been handled.

    Industry Minister Macfarlane and others within the Coalition are now publicly disowning the recommendations of the Warburton Review. Macfarlane told The Australian: “No one’s talking about scrapping the RET – no one.”

    Macfarlane has also sought to reassure investors that any amendments to the scheme will not undermine the value of past investments, rebuking the Warburton Review’s suggestion that recommended changes reflect a regulatory change that should have been anticipated.

    Privately, a substantial proportion of Coalition members are looking for a way to make this issue go away, via some kind of negotiated settlement with the Labor Party.

    Problem is that RET driven investment is unlikely to kick back in if the RET target is changed at all. Even then the government would struggle to convince investors that durable bipartisanship has been restored. Other problem is why would Labor agree to changes that are likely to fail and put the Renewable industry and its supporters offside and likley to switch to the Greens?

    This means the government is putting forward a cut to the large-scale target (from 41,000 to 26,000GWh) which the partyroom sees as a significant concession, but which the renewables sector views as a disastrous cut which is completely unacceptable. It’s not clear how the Coalition’s unrealistic expectations – which have been fanned by Abbott – will be realigned.

    It is an open secret that the ministers with responsibility for energy and climate change and therefore direct ownership over the Renewable Energy Target – Hunt and Macfarlane – were sidelined by the Prime Minister. The PM’s Office chose to directly intervene in the process by putting control of the review within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. The PMO also sought to control the appointments to the review panel.

  7. John, I assume you meant Tony Abbott rather than Tony Rudd, who would be a strange beast indeed!

    There seems to be no end to the destructiveness of this government. For a compromise I think Abbott will have to look to PUP. It’s true that they have made statements supporting the RET but may be willing to do a deal – perhaps carbon pricing without a price!

  8. Brian: I was thinking of a shared tendency to ignore ministers and boost the power of the prime ministers office. Tony Rudd was deliberate. And yes they are both strange beasts in their own dysfunctional way.

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