Saturday salon

1. Choptergate

Labor has written to the Australian Federal Police to ask them to look into Speaker Bronwyn Bishop’s decision to take a taxpayer-funded helicopter trip from Melbourne to Geelong to attend a fundraiser for Ron Nelson, a Liberal candidate in the Victorian state election.

The suggestion is that supporting a party fundraiser is not part of the duties of the speaker of the Australian parliament.

A previous speaker, Peter Slipper, was pursued by the AFP over his use of taxi vouchers to visit wineries outside Canberra in 2010.

    In 2014 a magistrate convicted Slipper of dishonestly causing a risk of loss to the commonwealth and ordered him to repay the $954.

    But Slipper won a legal battle to overturn the conviction in February 2015. In doing so, the Australian Capital Territory supreme court highlighted considerable uncertainty over the definition of parliamentary business.

    Slipper repeatedly argued he was a victim of double standards given other MPs had been allowed to repay expenses under the Minchin Protocol.

At the time Abbott argued Slipper should stand down while being investigated, but it seems Bronnie is going nowhere.

2. Greek tragedy

Or Pyrrhic victory, for both Greece and the Eurozone. What kind of family asset-strips one of its members in broad daylight? asks Suzanne Moore. A family capable of considerable cruelty.

The weight of the commentary is blaming Germany, but a range of countries in northern and central Europe, Finland and Slovakia, for example, were backing Germany to the hilt.

Paul Krugman was scathing and fingered Germany directly.

There is no doubt that other countries will now be cautious about joining the Eurozone. And the notion of moving to a fiscal union, if it ever had a chance, is dead in the water.

Problem is, the deal struck is probably unworkable and unsustainable. The IMF thinks so but perhaps their report came too late.

In the end Alexis Tsipras played chicken with Germany and lost. He thought they would give in rather than kick Greece out. They showed that they were more than happy to see Greece go.

In a fascinating interview Yanis Varoufakis told Phillip Adams about the circumstances of his resignation. Varoufakis was elated by the referendum outcome, Tsipras was depressed. Tsipras expected a “yes” vote and was quite unprepared for a “no”. It seems he realised that Greece would be punished for its little frolic with democracy.

3. Queensland budget pleases everyone

Just about. The unions, farmers, social services, even Michael Roche of the Queensland Resources Council had a good word to say.

TAFE was refunded, also the arts. Savage cuts by the Newman government have been restored and new initiatives funded. The Biala Sexual Health Clinic is to be re-opened.

Some debt is repaid and a $1.2 billion operating surplus is predicted. What more could one ask?

4. Federer finished?

Not if you ask him. I saw the last few games of his straight sets demolition of Andy Murray and his play was awesome. Novak Djokovic, however, is a step up, and at the peak of his powers. So Djokovic beat Roger Federer in four in a slightly disappointing match.

Federer had his chances in the first set, up a break at 4-2 and later a set point on Djokovic’s serve. But Federer was not serving consistently well, and was making unforced errors, occasionally shanking shots. After the rain break in the third, Djokovic was in control and it was a matter of time.

But what, may you ask, is a 33-year old doing in a grand slam final, and what business does he have being No 2 in the rankings?

Champion players win most of their slams by the time they are 26, and very few after they are 28. Djokovic is 28, and will probably win more, because he doesn’t have truly great younger players snapping at his heals, as did Federer with Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, now 29 and seemingly on the slide.

You can argue that Federer was in his prime during a weak era; Douglas Perry argues there is no such thing. Any way, Federer’s dominance from 2004 to 2007 is without peer, winning 11 of 12 slams apart from the French. He has also won all four slams in his career, a feat equalled only by Nadal and Andre Agassi since the days of Rod Laver.

Will he win another slam? Probably not, but like Ken Rosewall, while he’s there he’s a chance. Rosewall won four slams when he was older than Federer, and played in the Wimbledon final when he was 39.

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.

10 thoughts on “Saturday salon”

  1. And the Federal Police, who are either far too scared to investigate an LNP politician or have been ordered not to, have referred the Bishop investigation to the Dept of Finance for an internal Public Service investigation which will, of course, find her innocent of any wrongdoing.
    Did Abbott or Brandis lean on the AFP?
    If so, why didn’t the AFP assert their independence?
    And that is just a few of the questions that need answering.

  2. You are right, Paul. Laurie Oakes in the paper today says it will end with the Finance Department. He still questions, though, her fitness to be Speaker.

  3. What are we piss-anting about Bishop when there are far bigger issues of deception (climate), destruction of aquifers and so on?
    At least it is a distraction from Shortens problems which is probably why Labor is making such a fuss.
    In any event, I would expect that both parties have dirt files they could bring out if it gets any nastier.

    There is a cartoon going around that has a Greek waitress explaining a situation she has with one of the diners:
    ” Table 2 can’t pay their bill… they have taken a vote hoping you will reduce the amount owing and lend them the money to pay off the remainder”. No disrespect intended to and Greek readers but it is a nice bit of grim humour.

  4. Slipper wasn’t allowed to pay off his inappropriate spending so why should Bishop expect a special deal?
    No one in the ministry is supporting her. It is a bit hard to brush what she has done as a mistake.
    The best thing for the LNP would for her to be kicked out quickly so that none of the dirt sticks to the party as a whole.

  5. Some debt is repaid and a $1.2 billion operating surplus is predicted.

    No debt is repaid.
    They shifted some to State owned entities and scalped the public servants fund.
    If Noddy CanDo had done this the howls of outrage would be heard from now till the next election.

  6. Gotta laugh at the anti- reclaim Australia rally protesters not knowing the difference between religion and race.

    I wonder who they vote for, hmm……

  7. If anyone doubts that environmental groups are often filthy rotten lying scum, they should read this Slate article.

    As much as I dislike Mr Rabbit, I would be very grateful if he called a Royal Commission into the misdeeds perpetrated by environmental groups.

  8. (a). What a contrast! Failed aristocrat from the Let-Them-Eat-Cake Party gets caught with her European and her Melbourne-Geelong joyrides on the one hand …. and Pauline Hanson flies into Rockhampton in a tiny made-in-Bundaberg Jabiru 2-seater aircraft on the other hand.

    Paul Burns: The really dangerous thing is if one political group or another can lean on the Australian Federal Police and so make them shut up and behave, what does this mean for the future of democracy in Australia? If this is what happened (and I do hope and pray I am wrong), the difference between this and what is happening right now in northern Mexico is merely one of degree and not of kind .

    (b). Why is it that our news media is silent on (1) the predatory lending practices of the poor darling creditor organizations which are trying to extract money from Greece in mid-2015, and, (2) the wealthy and the influential Greeks who plundered their nation’s treasure and moved it elsewhere before the proverbial hit the fan?

    Are we expected to swallow a fairy-story that these huge financial organizations, which have commercial intelligence systems bigger, more up-to-date and better-funded than the military intelligence systems of all but a few nation states. somehow didn’t realize the Greek government’s figures were dodgy when Greece applied to enter the Euro-zone?

    Come off it! It was completely impossible for them to not know. Whether they chose to share that information with the host country of their corporate headquarters is quite another matter.

    Two questions stick out:

    Why did those huge financial organizations continue to force money onto Iceland, Eire, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece when they knew full well the true financial status of each of these countries?

    Greece has a police force and, presumably, extradition treaties with many countries, so why haven’t the Greeks repatriated both the culpable magnates and the missing millions – instead of beating themselves up?.

  9. Just looking through a few quotes by notable folks, here’s a good’n-
    ” To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticise “

  10. Jumpy, I’ve seen you criticise “towelheads”, so it can’t be them.

    Criticising smokin’ Joe Hockey saw Fairfax dragged before the courts and fined a couple hundred thousand dollars. Criticising Lang Hancock’s not so little girl Gina Blowhard also often results in being dragged before the courts.

    Businesses in general can use SLAPPS to stifle dissent, for example the Gunn’s case in Tasmania some years ago. Also see

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