Saturday salon 30/5

1. Hockey in a tangle over tampons

On Q&A Hockey was asked by a young woman why pads and tampons should carry a GST while “condoms, lubricants, sunscreen and nicotine patches are all tax-free”. Of course economic orthodoxy says they should all be taxed, but Hockey agreed with her and has undertaken to put the matter to the states.

Within hours he was slapped down by the Minister Representing Women, Tony Abbott.

Differences then emerged between the two over superannuation tax policy. Abbott says never ever, Hockey says retirement incomes policy is on the agenda.

Hockey has opened himself to ridicule. Bernard Keane and Glenn Dyer at Crikey reckon Hockey is becoming a bit of a weather vane and colleagues are wondering whether he’s really up to the job. GDP numbers come out on Wednesday. A flat or negative number could cost him his job. They reckon that changing the GST on tampons might be all that comes out of a white paper on tax.

2. Ireland votes for gay marriage

The Washington Post says Ireland voted and everyone won as Ireland became the first country to vote for gay marriage.

The Vatican says the Ireland gay marriage vote is a ‘defeat for humanity’.

The Irish vote has renewed discussion of the question in Australia, and now with Labor’s proposed legislation we have at least three bills floating around the parliament.

Abbott sensibly says that the issue should be owned by the whole parliament rather than one party. The expectation now, as Phil Coorey told Patricia Karvelas, is that a cross-party bill would be brought into the parliament in August.

Abbott’s gay sister Christine Forster says same-sex marriage will be legal in Australia by the end of the year and that Abbott now accepts the inevitability of this. Coorey reckons it will pass the Reps but could be close in the Senate.

3. Indigenous groups oppose Carmichael mine

Some time ago traditional owners refused to grant a Land Use Agreement for the giant Carmichael mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin. Whether this refusal is just a legal road bump remains to be seen. Now they are urging international lenders not to fund the project.

Quiggin has more on the financing of the project.

4. Great Barrier Reef not to be placed on the World Heritage “in danger” list

Meanwhile UNESCO has recommended the Great Barrier Reef not be placed on the World Heritage “in danger” list.

    It is a significant reprieve for the Queensland and Federal governments, with an adverse listing being potentially disastrous for the tourism industry.

Prof Ove Hoegh-Guldberg says the real work starts now if Australia is to vindicate the decision.

5. Dalai Lama presses Aung San Suu Kyi over Rohingya migrants

    The Dalai Lama has called on his fellow Nobel Peace Laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi, to do more to help persecuted Rohingya Muslims in her country, Myanmar.

Her response so far?


She’s a politician now.

    since her release from house arrest in 2010, Suu Kyi’s role has been recast from a defiant human rights defender to a hard-nosed political actor preparing to lead her opposition party into elections later this year.

6. Fatal attraction, or sex until you drop

Drop dead, in fact.

Researchers are concerned about the future of two new species which engage in suicidal sex, for the males. They live only about 11 months.

    QUT mammalogist Dr Andrew Baker said for a few weeks a year, the testosterone-fuelled male antechinus competed ferociously with one another to have sex with as many females as possible, in marathon sessions lasting up to 14 hours at a time.

    Dr Baker likened the antechinus’ behaviour to that exhibited by characters on US television show Game of Thrones.

    “It’s just this absolutely primal urge,” he said.

    “There’s orgies of violence and sex and, in antechinus, it happens every year.”

    After a few weeks of copulation, the rise in stress hormones causes the male’s immune system to collapse, with the result far from a happy ending.

    “They’ll bleed internally, they have ulcers, their fur falls off in patches, sometimes they’re stumbling around blind and still trying to mate,” Dr Baker said.

Sounds horrible, not fun at all!

Introduction to Saturday salon

Because of the way the blog currently presents posts on the home page I think it’s better to remove the introductory material to a different place. For new readers, here’s the rationale for this space.


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.

13 thoughts on “Saturday salon 30/5”

  1. On item 2

    How about, if we are really interested in removing discrimination in law, abolish the marriage act and all mention of marriage in any legislation.
    This would not only eliminate discrimination against same sex individuals in a relationship but also the unmarried, the widowed and divorced individuals.

    That’d be good, right ?

  2. Jumpy, clearly you have absolutely no associations at all with women, or the empathetic at heart. But then, of course, you are being “sarcastic”, in your own special way.

  3. Regards, 1. I feel another Abbott back down on the way.

    Women’s sanitary products are as essential as food in a modern society, manufactured or not, whereas men’s condoms are an optional accessory, more necessary for male to male intercourse. So where is Abbott coming from on this?? Is he really a closeted Gay?…saving his “coming out” as some kind of (next) election winning strategy?

  4. BilB

    Jumpy, clearly you have absolutely no associations at all with women, or the empathetic at heart. But then, of course, you are being “sarcastic”, in your own special way.

    Your going to have to clarify mate, you lost me. ( cause I’m a stupid , by my own admission )

  5. Oh? So you weren’t being sarcastic?

    I would have thought it obvious that marriage is an expression of devotion between a couple marking their union ahead of the creation of a family. For a woman this forms the secure basis for the committal of her body to her partner and marks the time for her contribution to the continuity of the community, something, I observe, women take very seriously. I don’t think that they are giving up marriage any time soon.

    Of course the church see ownership of the institution as being vital to their hold over women, the family and their source of perpetual income. They’re not giving that up, ever.

    Governments see marriage as the means to maintain power over the workforce, command over property, source of perpetual income, management of wealth, and a permanent means with which to torment Libertarians. Nope. No politician is stupid enough to relinquish power, wealth, and punishment!…but then you seem to be suggesting precisely that?

    The best way to remove discrimination, is to stop discriminating. It is that simple.

  6. The best way to remove discrimination, is to stop discriminating. It is that simple.

    That was my suggestion, we seem to agree on that.
    The ” State ” has discrimination woven into vast amounts of legislation.
    I would have it all removed and blind “Big Brother/Nanny State” ( same entity ) to race, gender,age……etc.

    That is fair, anything else is unfair.

    Women could do whatever they want, un-coerced either way.
    And Government should do what we tell it to do, nothing more.

  7. Women could do whatever they want, un-coerced either way.

    In your dreams.

    And Government should do what we tell it to do, nothing more.

    Couldn’t agree more.
    Mind you, it is working that way at the moment. It’s just that “we” is largely Rupert Murdoch, Gina Rinehart and the IPA.

  8. In your dreams.


    It’s just that “we” is largely Rupert Murdoch, Gina Rinehart and the IPA.

    And the position on marriage by the above is what exactly ?

  9. Sorry Jumpy.
    When you wrote, “And Government should do what we tell it to do, nothing more”, I thought you meant, “And Government should do what we tell it to do, nothing more”. Didn’t realise you were leaving out all of Government’s functions except marriage. Please accept my heartfelt apology.

    BTW who is this “we” to whom you refer? You and I rarely agree on anything, so I don’t think it’s us.

  10. What the blue blazes were women’s sanitary necessities doing with a GST on them in the first place?

    Oh, that’s right. Australia is The Clever Country, isn’t it!

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