Saturday salon 3/1


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. Changing skivvies on the Wiggles

Tim Dunlop has done a great piece on the reshuffle. He reckons it’s

like changing who wears which colour skivvy in the Wiggles: it doesn’t make any difference, and they all end up singing the same old tunes.

Tony Abbott is still the Prime Minister. Joe Hockey is still the Treasurer. They are still committed to their budget and its underlying philosophy of market liberalism and a wholesale attack on the pillars of the welfare state.

Let’s focus on that, not which Wiggle is wearing which skivvy.

Dunlop’s big idea, though is that “both major parties have drained the office of prime minister of authority by converging on an economic program that subsumes economic sovereignty into the vagaries of a globalised economy.” Hence:

The office of prime minister is thus less about leading the country than about managing the electorate’s disappointments within that system, and Mr Abbott inherited an electorate hip to the tricks of a political class who have been selling us moonshine – privatisation, deregulation and the rest of it – for the best part of four decades now.

Given that structural issue, though, Abbott has brought his own particular brand of stupid to the role, says Dunlop.

2. 2015 will be basically grim

Mungo MacCallum looks at the political/policy prospects for 2015, and doesn’t like what he sees.

What seems inevitable is that 2015 is unlikely to be any better than 2014: basically grim. The only real question is just who ends up bearing the cost. It may be Abbott himself and it may be the government as a whole. But one way or another we are all going to cop at least a bit of collateral damage.

It all depends on the next budget. If it is verse 2 of the last budget then Abbott is in trouble. He needs a fix “which is dramatic, equitable and above all plausible.” Problem is he won’t shirtfront the rich and powerful. So the rest of us cop it, while being encouraged to spend like blazes to save the economy from recession. Before Christmas they announced cuts in the area of the homeless. Morrison reckons he needs to make welfare sustainable by cutting the bejesus out of it.

So the result is confusion, and pain.

3. Child shoots mum in Idaho Walmart

This has already been linked to elsewhere by Geoff Genderson and zoot, but in case you missed it, a two year-old child has shot and killed his mum in an Idaho Walmart. The boy unzippered her purse, a Christmas gift from her husband with a special pocket to conceal the weapon.

4. Carmichael mine to go ahead

Those hoping that falling coal prices will put an end to the development of the Galilee Basin mega-mine Carmichael will be disappointed.

Sydney-based engineering firm Downer EDI announced late last month it had received two Letters of Award from Adani to build and operate the Carmichael mine.

“The contracts are expected to have a combined value in excess of $2 billion over seven years,” Downer EDI said in a statement.

Adani expects to start building the rail line within the next few months despite not having a mining lease.

Adani reckon that cash costs would fall below $US50 a tonne, making Carmichael one of the cheapest mines in the world.

The mine has:

attracted a conditional debt funding of $1 billion from the State Bank of India and a promise of equity funding of up to $300 million from the Queensland Government for the rail line to Abbot Point.

Adani has also recently attracted an equity partner, POSCO, a Korean company that will build its railway and port as well as hold a stake in the infrastructure.

5. Civil society – more activity, less effect

Michael Edwards is pessimistic about the effect of civil society organisations. The numbers of organisations is impressive and continues to grow, but he thinks civil society organisations are becoming less effective. Problems include co-option, the corporatisation of civil society groups themselves and a lack of carry-through to the structures of power and influence in society.

Some progress is being made around the edges of poverty and injustice.

But there’s no sign that the underlying structures of social, political and economic violence and oppression are being shaken to their roots.

As a result, fewer people in the world are dying young, and basic indicators of health and education, income and employment are getting slightly better – at least for most people in most countries. However, economic inequality is rising, democracies are being hollowed out, climate change is worsening, and discrimination based on race, gender, ability and sexual orientation remains endemic.

Participation in voting and labour unions is falling. Social media and professional advocacy groups have strong messages, but less purchase where it counts.


Sorry about the gloomy line-up above. Maybe I should just pull a blanket over my head and wait the year out!

I did hear today on our ABC a riveting discussion about whether the meat pie typified the Australian cuisine!

46 thoughts on “Saturday salon 3/1”

  1. zoot has already made the link, but in case you missed it, a two year-old child has shot and killed his mum in an Idaho Walmart. The boy unzippered her purse, a Christmas gift from her husband with a special pocket to conceal the weapon.

    I do believe Geoff Henderson have been deprived of a well deserved ” hat tip ” here.
    He is obviously too modest to come forward so I feel a compulsion to stand up and set the record straight.

    Attribution Justice Now !

  2. The energies of charities and other organizations that support the disadvantaged are being diverted to making up the shortfall in government action. Their ability to fight for a better deal is being constrained by implied threats that the government will cut funding of organizations that give the government political pain.
    The good news here is the enormous political pain the Tea Party has suffered because it is, quite correctly, seen to be treating people unfairly.

    Before Christmas they announced cuts in the area of the homeless. Morrison reckons he needs to make welfare sustainable by cutting the bejesus out of it.

    isn’t going to help.
    What I am really hoping for is a political party with the guts to declare that the tax cuts and superannuation concessions made by Howard and Rudd are what is unsustainable and go into an election promising to do something about it.

  3. I am far from convinced that the Carmichael mine is a goer.
    Conditional loans, proceeding despite not having a mining lease yet (or, as far as I know, the sales contracts required to get financial support) don’t look like a done deal.
    Starting work in the next few months could be a tactic to make it harder for Labor to make changes or talk about not wasting money on a $300 million loan paid for by asset sales. It could also be a tactic to get a temporary boost to the share price.

  4. jumpy, it might surprise you but I didn’t read the whole thread! I’ll take your word for it and I’ve included both.

    John, re Carmichael we’ll just have to wait and see. I’m surprised it’s supposed to be such a low cost mine, but then what would I know?!

  5. Brian: The cost will depend on things like seam thickness and overburden as well as railing distance. My impression is that there will be no coal washing that reduces costs. I would expect costs to be low in the beginning when the coal mined will have a low overburden ratio mined using open pit.

  6. 1) Jumpy, I am a bit modest but none of us are here for accolades so I was OK to let it pass. But thanks anyway.

    2) Qld government helping with around $300 million for the rail concerns me. If you drive south from Bowen you notice many kms of coal rail infrastructure. Either double electrified or single. Electrifying rail line is fine but needs a lot of infrastructure: not just the overhead gantry/wiring but also massive power delivery to sustain up to six locomotives as they haul ~100 laden coal cars. Basically the power needs to be available to these trains on demand, so the infrastructure is hefty and forms a goodly part of soaring electricity costs. But driving past several times (3 years ago) the majority of trains were diesel. Now maybe they were just using up the value of existing loco’s; probably a sensible commercial thing. But I would like to see an assurance that any infrastructure subsidy (if we have to have it) from the Qld government carried reasonable conditions and assurances of good value for money.

    3) It was revealed over the weekend that the Hawke government had been alerted to climate change. I was a bit peeved at the lack of progress in the following 25 years so I fired off another email to Warren Entsch, my local federal member.He responded in less than 30 minutes by calling me.We then spent 25 minutes going over my complaints about Newman, Abbott and the state of the Universe. Now Warren is an experienced pollie and he knows how to schmooze a grumpy old fart like me. Nevertheless he did call back and did give me a good part of his time.
    He gave me a cautious glimmer of hope that maybe we will see a revised attitude to climate dynamics and more democratic party functioning. Proof of course is in the pudding.

  7. The QLD election is only 26 days away !
    When will ” whatshername ” release ALPs fully costed policies ?
    Not good enough !

    ( 🙂 )

  8. Jumpy,

    Whats her name is under no obligation to release any costings as the LNP have declared this, both state and federal, to be unnecessary. Furthermore, what ever promises that might be made during the campaign are in no way binding, also by LNP example.

  9. BiLB
    That exactly correct, I was merely regurgitating the tripe both sides vomit out to create a ” gotcha ” of distrust on these occasions, I find it very funny ( no so others it appears )
    Every QLDer should be elated they, once more, get a chance to exercise their hard earned Democratic Right to choose a representative.
    On all sides.
    It’s just a pity so many waste the opportunity.

  10. Costings as they are called seem to be crafted to suit the party handing them out. None of the contesting parties are likely to publish true costs, perhaps because they don’t know, maybe it suits them to withhold them or whatever.

    I’m more interested in why Newman called the election now. I don’t believe it was to catch the Labor party off balance. More likely there is an unholy storm brewing. Maybe even the possibility of a new LNP leader is being averted?

    We have to be prepared to see Newman not elected and then the scuffle over who becomes premier. Can Seeney possibly be it? He has a massive margin so it is likely he will be returned. I don’t know if the coalition rules insist the leader is from the liberal component?? Anyone?

    Chances of a Labor win? Very slim this time round because there are so few of them.Perhaps they will be much larger after the election and start gaining some inertia.

    Greens – I would expect a stronger showing but there would be a protest component assisting them by those so peed off with the major parties.

    Independents? No idea. Hopefully we don’t have a balance of power thing going again. If so I might just turn to reigion…

  11. Alp will get some seats back but I’m not sensing the outright hatred on the street for CanDo as there was for Bligh.
    The greens should remain seatless as usual, and with no Senate, will have little effect.
    PUPs a non starter, their Federal effort smashed that illusion.
    Pauline’s wasting everyones time.
    KAP no improvement on 2, probably back to 1.

    I think LNP comfortably and ALP to upgrade the Tarago to a 30 seat courtesy bus.
    In the wash up Whatshername will be rolled for a more realistic chance.

  12. I might just turn to religion…

    I wouldn’t recommend that Geoff.
    Even if Alla is as akbah as more an more folk are saying, he’s defiantly against you having a say. 🙂

  13. Vote premier Newman and get premier Jeff?

    My theory is that the real reason for going so early is that Abbott is supposed to be out of the country to the 28th.

    Minimizes the risk he will help with the campaigning till after most of the pre polling is finished.

  14. Geoff @ 6, I’m impressed that Warren Entsch rang you!

    Jumpy @ 12, that’s as good a run-down as you’d get anywhere, except the Greens might surprise. I see Liz Cunningham has packed it in. Gympie should have been a natural Labor seat.

    Jumpy, that’s Annastacia Palaszczuk you are talking about!

    If Newman gets rolled and the LNP still win (a fair chance IMHO) then it could be Tim Nicholls or they might go back to The Borg. I doubt it will be Seeney. His own mob hate him too much!

    I see John Bjelke Petersen, son of Joh, is running against Seeney. Probably a waste of time.

  15. John D. @ 15: Thanks for giving me a rip-roaring belly laugh first thing in the morning

    Vote premier Newman and get premier Jeff?

    Mr Seeney, whose nickname in the Callide electorate is “Never-See-Me” will probably lose his seat by a bigger margin than will “The King Of Tunnels”.

    Seeney is a reasonably competent politician but he committed one incredible, self-destructive error – and it was a real whopper. He became so enthralled with being Deputy Premier that he himself created the impression that he had abandoned the electorate that put him into Parliament. I know he does attend some electorate affairs from time-to-time but no amount of clever spin and propaganda can displace the impression that he doesn’t give a rat’s (proverbial) about his own electorate, hence the voters of Callide are out for blood.

    John Bjelke-Petersen is a nice bloke but not quite ministerial material – not even for fans of ‘Yes Minister’ – however, if he stands for Callide, he will romp home ahead of Mr Drover Dog and with the Taliban candidate a long way behind in third place

  16. A comment on today’s Conversation claiming insider knowledge alleges Newman was about to be immediately toppled by Springborg. Hence the rush to the polls to save his own career.

  17. PB I think that could be a possibility.See my note @ 10 made without insider knowledge. But in favour of Springborg? He has had a shot already.
    And the electorate was not especially impressed with the leadership changes at the federal level last time – could they think the State response could be so different?

    graham @ 17 I read yesterday that Seeney held something like a 23% margin which I thought would have the seat welded to his butt. But my view is that he is the most dangerous politician in Queensland and it scares me that he might gain more power somehow.

  18. Todays CM said that bookies odds supported an LNP win and a Newman loss.

    Figures like these may help Newman retain his seat. Last time around Ashgrove voters knew the LNP would win and, on this basis voted for Newman to reduce the risk of someone like Seeney becoming premier.

    On the other hand they undermine the LNP vote on the grounds of leader uncertainty and the suggestion that it is safer for a conservative voter to have protest vote.

  19. On ABC radio this morning they crossed to both designated ” journalists ” on the campaign trail,
    The LNP one was so chuffed that the campaign bus had phone charge sockets in the back of every seat ( something that never occurred ever before, ever ! ) that he almost cried on air.
    The ALP one was still waiting in a foyer not knowing anything and sure an itinerary would be forthcoming soon.

    I’m calling Day 1 for LNP.

  20. Geoff H @ 20: Thanks for your viewpoint.

    Whatever the margin of Seeney and the Country Party – oops, National Party – had in Callide that margin and a lot more will be divided between John Bjelke-Petersen of Mr Palmer’s Party and Graeme Martin of Madam Paluszczek’s Party with a candidate for Mr Katter’s Party (if they nominate a candidate) coming in third. Perhaps there will be an Independent or two – followed by Mr Drover Dog and the Taliban candidate – with the LNP and The Greens fighting it out for paddy-last. Impossible? Mr J. Howard, former Federal Member for Bennelong, may have thought so too in a similar situation.

    I’m wondering just how the marvellous screen-jockeys in the A.L.P.’s closed-order monastery down in Brisbane will ruin the chances of the A.L.P. candidate, Graeme Martin, being elected as Member for Callide – I’m certain those dumb-bunnies will find some way of snatching Defeat from the jaws of Victory.

    The two Central Queensland electorates to watch will be Keppel – where former TV presenter, Bruce Diamond, is standing as an Independent against the unusually popular LNP sitting member, Bruce Young – and Gladstone where highly respected Independent, Liz Cunningham, is stepping down after 20 years of outstanding service to her electorate and community; the voters there have exceptionally high expectations.

    We live in interesting times.

  21. Sorry, gentlefolk, I can’t share Mungo McCallum’s optimism; I think we are in for a very rough year. I don’t expect an Aussie Spring or a Eureka Stockade (Mark Two) but I do expect a lot of shake-ups: self-inflicted shake-ups happening to our glorious leaders and our brilliant decision-makers.

    For example:

    Before Christmas they announced cuts in the area of the homeless. Morrison reckons he needs to make welfare sustainable by cutting the bejesus out of it.

    Obviously, those making decisions that have a severe impact on the lives of many don’t bother talking to those security specialists who are striving to prevent the recruitment of fighters for extremist organizations. Self-inflicted shake-ups are on the way. Unfortunately, we ordinary citizens are the ones who will have to pay the cost of their neglect and follies.

  22. Dr Alex Douglas, ex LNP and PUP, thinks Newman will lose his seat. He says Tim Nicholls and Seeney are both divisive within the LNP, Springborg is a three-time failure. So he reckons a vote for the LNP is a vote for instability and chaos.

    He reckons Newman is the worst choice for premier, because of dishonesty and incompetence.

    A small business owner rang up the ABC saying how impossible it was to get staff trained in TAFE now because it costs too much. Private providers are now offering two week courses whereas the TAFE course is eight weeks.

    The LNP have upset a lot of people – public servants, teachers, nurses, doctors, lawyers etc – but a lot of that is already reflected in the polls. Last time they got over 61% of the TPP vote.

  23. Bilb @ 19,
    Not much more than that. There was an article partly along the same lines yesterday in the Fairfax on-line Brisbane Times, but I don’t have a link.

  24. Actually , PB, I’m now of the view that the Qld election is being rushed to clear a space for an early Federal double dissolution election in August or September. All of the other issues are still relevent, but I suspect that there is a bigger play under way.

  25. Very strict gun laws in France.
    Fire arm murder rate double that of Australia.
    The municipal Police in France do not carry guns.
    The victims were not armed.

    Just sayin…..

  26. Day 2 of the campaign, the winner ?

    Bit of a nonevent.
    Can’t split em today.
    Policy free from Anna mk2 and CanDo.
    A draw for mine.

  27. Population of France 3 times that of Australia and area less than one tenth, Jumpy @31. Just sayin!

  28. Brian the LNP has been bragging that hospital wait times are back to near zero. The appeal of many new nurses my not go far. And with uni cuts, will the resources be there to train them? Even if some re-enter the profession, they still may need re-training.

  29. Geoff H. @37: Don’t you worry about any shortage of nurses. 457 visa racket will fix that: you can smell the money from here – and it will be OUR money that will have to pay for it.. 🙁

    Neither of the mainstream parties will bring back hospital-based training and hell will freeze over before they would seek Enrolled Nurses.

  30. Jumpy, population compression increases tensions. If you look at the causes, homicides are double that of Australia and Suicides are four times that, and by far the greatest cause of deaths due to fire arms. Having more guns will not reduce the suicide rate. As for the homicde rate I suspect that there will be a drug use correlation but was unable to quickly seperate that out.

    No matter how you look at it there is no way of mounting an argument that personal gun ownership is in any way a good thing. The consequences will always out weigh the “benefits”. The US woman who was shot by her two year old son was a nuclear scientist working on the vitreous storage of nuclear waste,….for instance. Think of the extended consequences there.

  31. My seat, Mackay ( pronounced ” Mak-eye” ) is really interesting.
    Labor seat for 100 years,
    But, survived the last election by 0.5% 2pp with green and KAP preferences (a 1 of 7).
    But, there will be a correction back to ALP, nothing surer.
    But, Tim Mulherin is retiring as of yesterday and a no name teachers union rep is installed .
    But the LNP candidate, also a no name has employer pedigree, 5 kids and squeaky clean ( afaict )
    But, Jonathan Dykyj ( pronounced ” Dicky ” ) the perennial, most known candidate for the greens ( a proper environmentalist not a commie socialist ) will give preferences to ALP 100%.
    But KAP is a bust this election here, so no help to ALP.
    But, an old Mayor Julie Boyd is running independent, considering the state she left the financial position she’ll most likely preference ALP ( a solid arty farty type )
    But, we had a OMG problem, thanks to CanDo, now gone ( visually not realistically )
    Freakin Fascinating !!

  32. BiLB

    No matter how you look at it there is no way of mounting an argument that personal gun ownership is in any way a good thing.

    I respectfully disagree.

  33. Jumpy you get post of the year! What a schemozzle.

    In the electorate of Cook, we have a very credible David Kempton (LNP) . He displaced a very unwanted Jason O’Brien who famously told an irritated anti-amalgamation crowd that he hoped there would be more amalgamations – I was there I saw and heard him. Famously took booze into no-booze settlements.
    Kempton has worked his nads off for his electorate and I think deserves re-election. Have not heard of any Labor candidate.

    But Kempton works with Can’t Do Newman.
    But Newman might not make the cut and that lets me off the hook 🙂

  34. Geoff

    In the electorate of Cook,

    Hey, keep yourself well, from my novice knowledge of weather you may get a whirligig or two before polling day!

  35. Thanks Jumpy, you too.

    The link below offers more confusion than is helpful right now but you do get good technical insights into what might happen.

    I get annoyed at storm chasers when they get their jollies watching storms that are tearing peoples homes apart. Not all of them, but some of them.
    On the other hand their feeds -live & videos – can be fantastic when the stuff looks like hitting the fan.

  36. Geoff Henderson: You face a perennial Australian election dilemma: a worthy candidate in a pack of dills pretending to be a political party and led by a born loser.

    Of course, you can always take the easy way out and surrender to spin-doctors and media manipulators. No? Do you want to keep your self-respect instead?

  37. Yes Graham that is true. And I get no joy knowing that a very large number of voters are in the same boat.

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