Red Centre Holiday: living was easy in the Simpson Desert

Nothing is more emblematic of living during our Simpson Desert crossing than gathering around the camp fire at night. In memory we did it a half a dozen times. Actually it was only three out of our four nights as a group in the desert, plus once on the way over at Jervois Station and at Cooper’s Creek on the way home. Continue reading Red Centre Holiday: living was easy in the Simpson Desert

Saturday salon 4/10


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. Run, Kate, run!

Labor’s Kate Jones has thrown her hat into the ring to stand against Queensland Premier Campbell Newman at the state election.

The former environment minister will seek preselection in her former seat and the premier’s current seat of Ashgrove, in Brisbane.

ReachTEL have Jones on about 52%, Newman on 41% and TPP goes to Jones 56-44.

Dunno about ReachTEL, it was pretty erratic on individual seats before the last federal election.

In other shenanigans long-standing LNP member Dr Bruce Flegg has been given the flick by party bosses and will be prevented from recontesting Moggill. Flegg has now tipped a bucket on them, saying they have written Newman off in Ashgrove, and it’s about factional manoeuvring as to who will be the new leader.

2. GO8 warns on research funding

The Group of Eight universities have warned that the long-term shift away from basic research towards applied research could rob Australia of the ­fundamental knowledge base it needs to capitalise on new discoveries.

Back in 1992-93 basic research accounted for 28% of gross expenditure on research and development. In 2010-11 this had fallen to 21%.

Other countries are ramping up expenditure. South Korea, for example, is increasing research funding from 4% of GDP in 2011 to 5% in 2017. Europe is aiming at 3% of GDP.

Not sure of the number here, but if it’s $9 billion then it’s less than 1% of GDP. Our government’s strategy is to “massively” increase research funding by cutting grants and university funding, and ‘liberating’ universities to charge higher fees. And then of course there’s the 7% doctors visit co-payment.

3. Abbott to kill off Parliament House burqa ban

Abbott’s done something I approve of. Seems he’s killed off the parliamentary burqa ban.

Jacqui Lambie continues to embarrass herself.

Meanwhile Abbott:

“Frankly, I wish it was not worn. But we are a free country, we are a free society and it is not the business of Government to tell people what they should and shouldn’t wear,” he said.

Tanya Plibersek:

“I’d prefer if Tony Abbott didn’t get about in his Speedos either, but it’s a free country,” she said.

4. PUP gets its Senate inquiry into Queensland

The inquiry will be in the form of a select committee, chaired by Glenn Lazarus, consisting of five members but only one from the Coalition, has a reporting date on or before March 27 next year, very close to the date of the next Queensland election.

the committee will examine Queensland’s use of Commonwealth funds, the administration of the state’s judicial system, and questions around development and environmental approvals.

It’s hard to see how the administration of justice is the Commonwealth’s business. I’m with Nick Xenephon in thinking it’s inappropriate for one government in the federation to be inquiring into another. For Labor, presumably it’s payback, but politically probably not a good idea.

5. Economic clouds gather

The world never really recovered from the GFC. Now:

Global debts have reached a record high despite efforts by governments to reduce public and private borrowing, according to a report that warns the “poisonous combination” of spiralling debts and low growth could trigger another crisis.

Modest falls in household debt in the UK and the rest of Europe have been offset by a credit binge in Asia that has pushed global private and public debt to a new high in the past year, according to the 16th annual Geneva report.

The total burden of world debt, excluding the financial sector, has risen from 180% of global output in 2008 to 212% last year, according to the report.

By Asia seems they mean China, mostly.