Saturday salon 27/6

1. Tony Abbott’s flag count hits a new high

    Tony Abbott’s announcement that Australia will send more troops to Iraq was made in front of no fewer than eight flags, bringing the flag-count-in-announcement index to an all-time high.


That was actually back in March.

2. Petrol tax: Labor decides to deal

    The Federal Government and Labor have struck a deal that will increase tax on petrol twice every year, with the next hike coming in August.

Last year Labor refused to support the tax, saying that it was a broken election promise. Nevertheless, the Government introduced the tax by regulation in October. If the regulation is not confirmed by legislation within 12 months it lapses and the funds are returned to the oil companies.

Cynics say Labor wanted to gazump The Greens who may have come to the party under Richard Di Natale.

The tax will raise about $23 billion over the next decade, and will be spent on roads.

3. Australia Post to slash 1,900 jobs

    Australia Post has announced major job cuts as the decline in its traditional letter delivery service continues to accelerate.

    The ABC understands 1,900 voluntary redundancies will be offered over the next three years from metropolitan centres.

    Australia Post has confirmed losses in its mail delivery business are approaching $500 million this financial year.

    With the volume of ordinary mail expected to plunge by more than 10 per cent, Australia Post has warned it will report its first company-wide financial loss in more than 30 years.

Managing Director Ahmed Fahour:

    “We have reached the tipping point that we have been warning about where, without reform, the business becomes unsustainable.”

The problem, of course, is that Australia Post is considered a business rather than a service. For the moment five day deliveries will continue.

4. Bill Shorten declared politically dead

As the two weeks known a ‘the killing season’ on the political calendar come to a close, Lenore Taylor examines how the poll frontrunner became the hollow man.

Follow the link if you want to be depressed!

5. Australian inequality above OECD average

    Welfare groups are demanding that authorities strengthen Australia’s social safety net in order to prevent widening inequality from becoming the new norm.

    A report to be released by the Australian Council of Social Service on Monday found that Australia’s level of income inequality is above the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development average.

    But the good news is that Australia is doing much better than the United States and the United Kingdom because of the minimum wage and tax systems.

    “While inequality is not extreme in Australia by international comparison, we are trending in the wrong direction,” ACOSS chief executive Cassandra Goldie said.

    Australians in the top 20 per cent of income earners had a staggering 70 times as much wealth as those in the bottom 20 per cent, the report says.

6. Firebirds steal the title

The Queensland Firebirds won the trans-Tasman netball championship last Sunday after defeating the Sydney Swifts in one of the most amazing finishes ever.

The Swifts established an early lead, led the whole match and two minutes from home had everything under control with a 56-52 lead. Three quick goals to the Firebirds and suddenly with 51 seconds to go the lead was 56-55. With a mere 14 seconds on the clock Gretel Tippett’s shot rimmed and went through. The Firebirds were ahead for the first time in the match.

The Swifts tried a quick move from the centre pass, but fell prey to a Firebirds intercept. The match was over!


Elsewhere, the Matildas, having drawn with the 5th ranked Swedes and beaten Brazil, ranked 7th, now take on the 4th ranked Japanese.

Time women’s team sports were better paid and received better media coverage.

7. Fixit or Grexit

Only a couple of days to go and the Greeek financial crisis has still not been fixed. Alan Kohler reckons it will be fixed – the Germans need the Greeks on the inside. Otherwise the euro would shyrocket and make German industry uncompetitive.

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.

16 thoughts on “Saturday salon 27/6”

  1. Items 3 and 5 are linked in so much as Ahmed Fahour gets about $ 4.8 million a year.

  2. Completely over Blib Shiftlin and the current spineless ALP. Today’s outrage was simply the latest and greatest disappointment in a string of many. First Dog expresses it best: Go home Labor, you’re drunk – and basically evil.

    And they’re trying to get kudos in the culture wars for supporting gay marriage? Only about five years too late to get any respect from me, ALP. Joe De Bruyn has a lot to answer for.

  3. And as Lenore Taylor says, we have no idea what Labor’s policy on carbon pricing is. Are they going to be chickenshit cowards, too scared of News Corpse, and avoid a trading scheme? Good grief.

  4. wilful, did I see that the Pope doesn’t like emmissions trading schemes?

    I think we can do it without them and in any case they say that the Direct action scheme can be tranformed into one, perhaps with scaring the horses less.

  5. Why on earth should Labor support a trading scheme when the renewable auction schemes run by the ACT Labor government, South Africa and Brazil actually work and provide investor confidence while avoiding the higher price jump which is a feature of carbon taxes and ETS style trading schemes.
    Abbott has demonstrated very clearly that trading schemes cant provide investor confidence unless there is a very robust bipartisanship.

  6. Alan Kohler is on the ball:

    the Germans need the Greeks on the inside. Otherwise the euro would skyrocket and make German industry uncompetitive.

    The Euro has been good for Germany because the good performance of the German economy isn’t pushing up the value of the currency.
    By contrast, it has been bad for a string of countries including Greece because the value of the currency hasn’t been able to drop because of declining Greek competitiveness. Add to that Germany’s determination to protect German banks that have made a string of questionable loans to Greece amongst others. (Spain, for example has struggled because Spain was pressured into supporting Spanish banks that had taken out loans when the wisdom of doing this was questionable.
    My take is that a common currency only works when things like welfare, minimum wages etc are paid for by the zone instead of the individual countries. You really need an EU that looks more like the Australian federation.

    Greece will be better off if it goes back to the Drachma

  7. Shorten seems to be a bit like Turnbull. Looks ridiculous when he plays attack dog or tries to be smart in the devious political sense. Hawke and Howard both used attack dogs like Keating and Abbott to lay the boot in while allowing their leader to pull them back from time to time so the leader looks reasonable.
    His other problem is that I think Australians are sick of governments that try and solve everything by cutting one set of costs to pay for the new. There is also a mood building up that governments need to do something about revenue.
    Hope Bill gets his mojo back. DiNatale on his own isn’t ready yet to save the country from Abbott.

  8. Events at the moment highlight just how stupid Labor’s leader election system is.
    If Shorten does decide that the best thing for the party is for him to resign the time taken to elect a new leader will be a golden opportunity for a political opponent like Abbott.

  9. On Greece, I understand that Greece imports about half of its food and more than three quarters of its power. The cost of these with a low drachma would be pretty ruinous.

    Its an odd fact, but apparently Germany makes more olive oil than Greece. The German methods of industrial processing can’t be matched by the Greeks so they sell the raw product to the Germans.

  10. Brian: The Greeks and their farmers will be a lot more competitive when they have a currency value based on what is going on with the Greek economy.
    The Eurozone needs to have a hard think about what it needs to do to make it good for all its members.

  11. Greece debt started blowing out when socialist Andreas Papandreou was first elected for 2 terms and they joined the socialist EU in 1981.

    Austerity ( living within ones means ) would have been helpful then, too late now.

    The suffering youth of today can only blame the profligate lifestyles of their parents and grandparents and how they voted.

    In Australia the gate is open, if the polls are correct then the horse will spot it at the next election and bolt.

    ( With Plibers PM )

  12. Tantrum Plibersek is paying $5 to be ALP leader come election time.
    If Hillary doesn’t crash and burn in the US * and Peanut head isn’t spectacular and beleiveable in the Royal Commission into Union Corruption , I may have a flutter that way.

    ( * US politics has a strange effect on Australian elections for some reason unknown to me )

  13. The Eurozone needs to have a hard think about what it needs to do to make it good for all its members.

    I agree. Greece needs something like the Marshall Plan, not more austerity. They want to cut pensions, but I heard that in many cases the whole out of work family is living off the pension of the oldies.

    Greece has now said it is going to have a referendum on the acceptability of the cuts, so technically it looks as though they will default.

  14. What gets me over this whole Greek farce is the hypocrisy of all those creditor organizations. All of them have excellent commercial intelligence bureaux. They all KNEW (or should have known!) just how rubbery the Greek government’s figures were – especially those used to gain admission to Euroland. They all KNEW (or should have known!) exactly how the Greeks were using the money they lent them. Yet they still went ahead and thrust as much money as they could into the hands of the Greeks. Even when the early rumblings of trouble were heard, they didn’t heed them but, instead, put front-end-loaders on shiftwork shovelling money into Greece. Now these same lenders are bunging on the impression that they are the thoroughly noble and aggrieved dispensers of benefits who have been so mistreated by those haughty, awful Greeks.

    You will not find the words, “lenders” and “blind greed” in the same paragraph of any news stories here about Greece. All I can do is just laugh at how all these supposedly responsible lenders allowed their delusions and their uncontrollable greed to propel them into this mess.

    Anyone who thinks the Greek farce will have little effect on our economy is just as deluded as were – and are – the Euro lenders.

    If we still had our sovereignty, now would be a very good time indeed to seize the opportunity to enhance our ties to Greece and to the Greek people. But they’re broke …. What better time to stand up and be counted among their few friends?

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