Saturday salon 25/7

1. Leaders summit

On Wednesday, prior to COAG on Thursday, our political leaders held a summit or retreat to dicuss taxation and the future of the federation. By all accounts they enjoyed the talkfest – Jay Weatherall said it was “very positive” and that “in my sense and my operation in COAG over the last five years, this is probably the most constructive I have ever seen”.

Despite that there is no evidence they actually decided anything except lowering the threshold at which the GST applies to offshore online purchases.

On taxation, Abbott still has a preference for raising the GST rather than increasing the Medicare levy. Joe Hockey, who wasn’t there, is still talking about tax cuts, for the rich, rather than raising taxes. Mike Steketee outlines what they really need to think about if they get serious.

By the end of Thursday they also agreed on:

  • A new terror alert system
  • An ice (methamphetamine) strategy, including early intervention, and support for local communities
  • The Northern Territory won backing to become a state
  • Domestic violence – a $30 million campaign and teaching about domestic violence in the national curriculum.

2. ALP conference

Laura Tingle reckons Shorten is carrying a large number of unexploded bombs into the conference: asylum seekers; climate change; union power; the Chinese FTA; same-sex marriage.

The biggest bomb is turning back the boats, where a motion will be put banning turnbacks from Labor’s policy. Michelle Grattan, and others, think Shorten has effectively put his leadership on the line:

    Bill Shorten’s authority is on the line as he struggles to reverse Labor’s opposition to turning back asylum seeker boats. A rebuff by the party’s national conference, which opens in Melbourne on Friday, would be a disaster for the already embattled leader. If Shorten lost this fight, his leadership would be shredded.

Think captain’s pick, she says. They’ll probably give it to him, but Albanese and others were very upset and it may well be close.

Katherine Murphy says the issue is breaking Labor’s heart.

In political terms, Bernard Keane says the policy is a no-brainer. Without it Shorten may well lose the election. Accepting turnbacks will take asylum seeker policy out of play.

Ethically it could work if Australia had deeper engagement with countries like Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, as suggested by Paul Power, Chief Executive Officer of the Refugee Council of Australia. This would include rendering assistance to those countries and taking a large share of our refugees from those sources.

3. Who would have thought of Jeremy Corbyn to lead UK Labour?

Not Jeremy, apparently. Seems he only ran to stir things up.

His rivals, it seems, are all pale centrists. Genuinely from the left, Corbyn stands out. Also parties on the left have done well recently in Scotland, Greece and Spain.

John Gaffney reckons Corbyn is stealing the show because he’s the only candidate saying anything at all.

    What is Corbyn talking about? Everything. More importantly, he embodies a wide and deep tradition in the UK left that we can all recognise and engage with. And, more importantly still, he does it with elegance, conviction, modesty and intellectual coherence.

4. Has the Republican party lost its collective mind? Is the Trump “surge” for real?

Well he’s ahead of the other Republican candidates in the opinion polls. One view:

    “He is an entertainer. He is a showman. He is a clown in a fancy hat, strutting the stage for a few minutes, and then the serious actors will come on the stage in a little while.”

They wish!

Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic says:

    Donald Trump has made headlines with inane nonsense for years, and his brash, offensive style seems to be part of his “I’m not a politician” appeal.

He’s going to be hard for the GOP to discredit. And he’s threatening to run as a third party candidate, if not selected.

Only in America!

5. Obama goes to prison

Meanwhile President Obama sat down with six non-violent drug offenders and vowed to reform the broken criminal justice system where:

    More than 1.5 million Americans were in state or federal prisons at the end of 2013, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. African-Americans were 15 percent of the U.S. population at that time but accounted for about a third of its prisoners.

He said:

    the criminal justice system should do a better job of discerning between young drug offenders from poor backgrounds and hardened, violent criminals.

    “We have to consider whether this is the smartest way for us to control crime and rehabilitate individuals,” Obama said.

Now, if he could fix their gun laws…

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.

19 thoughts on “Saturday salon 25/7”

  1. Good luck with Obama trying to reform the extremely lucrative prison system. The US prison system has to be as big or bigger a racket than is the drug industry.

  2. I think the Portuguese drug laws are a move in the right direction if reducing prison numbers and helping people is the objective.
    Lateline story.
    Let’s face it, prohibition always fails and only profits organised criminals and lawyers.

    ( btw is a great spot for all sorts of shows, if yas didn’t know about it already )

  3. Also great to see the US and Cuba start to break down the Trade Wall and embrace capitalism once again.
    No doubt the relationship will be enhanced and the peoples of both Countries benefit.
    The benefits of uncorrupted trade is a glorious thing, they’re a long way off yet, but a grand start.
    Wormtongue Obama accidentally got it right for once.

  4. Bill Shorten has won his vote on boat turnbacks, so the commentators can now calm down.

    I heard the debate on NewsRadio. Very respectful on both sides.

    The policy features an emphasis on regional engagement, doubling the intake to 27,000 pa, a gentler, more transparent detention regime, getting rid of TPVs (temporary protection visas), and transparency about what is being done on the high seas.

  5. So, it’s all good because Peanuthead endorsed it now, ok ,cool.
    Let’s forget everything he has said on the topic before his election strategy epiphany.
    Because, ya know, ” we don’t know what his policies are this week, but we’re sure he’s right ” attitude.

    Do standing orders commit oppositions to answer in Question Time ?

  6. I was less than impressed when Shorten said he would double the refugee intake by 2025. Promises that go beyond the next term of parliament are almost meaningless.
    Doubling in the first two years of a Labor party government is a good start – over the next 10 yrs is nothing but light weight waffle.
    I am also unimpressed that Bill is waffling on about the ETS again. The Abbottocracy should have taught him that things like the carbon tax, RET and ETS cannot give investor confidence unless there is robust bipartisanship support.
    Bill needs to talk to the ACT Labor government about how well their Renewable Auction Scheme is able to work despite Abbott.

  7. Jumpy, I’m just saying what happened, I didn’t say it was good. The commentators can calm down about his leadership being on the line.

  8. Now, if he could fix their gun laws…

    I used to support tight gun control but I don’t anymore. It is terrible shame that often when I lay out bait for my feral rabbits I see dead eagles and other raptors on my property a week or two later. Thanks gun control nannies. Technically I suppose I could get a gun licence but the hoops you must jump thru plus having Inspector Plod nosing around the joint, checking the gun is in the safe etc.. is just too much hassle.

    American gun violence is overrated and much of it is blacks killing blacks and that is largely about the dysfunctional nature of black culture. While some luvvie types deny this and say it is about poverty, one only has to look at the relatively low gun homicide rates in poor white trash areas in Appalachia to know that particular argument is bulldust.

    So this is one of those rare issues where I leave the left-wing reservation and go dancing with the loons on the right.

    This girl wants an AK47 and I’ll spit in the eye of anyone who says I can’t have one.

  9. Karen: I don’t think gun violence in the U.S. is overrated – it’s a country gone mad on guns. That said, I think we went overboard with firearms laws when what was needed was an end to the wool-for-surplus-assault-carbines countertrade and the courage to stand up to the “entertainment(??)” industry here that incites gun violence. Most Australians regard bolt-action rifles and single/double barrel shotguns as tools for a specific task; they don’t caress them or worship them, thank goodness. What the blue blazes were light machine guns with 30-round magazines doing on the market here in the first place???

    Brian, Jumpy and John: So why can’t we stand up to the migration agents, recover the control we gave away on immigration (the stupidest of all the stupid privatization follies) and bring in 60 000 GENUINE refugees a year right now? Of course that would come at a cost – to all the monkey-business and fake-skills migration racketeers at long last. Derailing that gravy-train is long overdue. For among the carefully-assessed GENUINE refugees would be, apart from labourers and sweat-shop fodder, all the fair dinkum entrepreneurs and technically-skilled people our hearts could ever desire. Iraq’s, Libya’s and Syria’s best-and-brightest are fleeing for their lives or else languishing in refugee camps. By bringing such people to Australia we would stand a far better chance of benefiting than by the present system of giving an Open Sesame! to crooks with sanitized police records, dodgy “investors (??)” and the bearers of credentials far in excess of their skills on the job.

  10. No Karen, you can’t have an AK47, but something more modest could be OK for property owners, I think. I remember at the time my brother telling me what he’d have to do to deal with feral pigs.

    An unfortunate feature of US is the repeated mass killings. Something needs to be done.

  11. Karen rabbits are pests and I am sorry they cause you damage. I am also sorry that other birds die because you are not inclined to jump through the hoops to get a gun license.
    We have feral pigs so I went through most of those hoops and they are a pain. But I’d rank the life of the raptors and eagles over the inconvenience of becoming a gun owner.

  12. Geoff and Karen: The main reason we have impractical regulations on firearms is that we surrendered the whole debate over firearms safety to two extremist groups: to the Australian stooges for the American NRA and their corporate backers and to the screaming, gun-hating hystericals who would not know a butt from a barrel.

    In draughting firearms legislation, politicians merely responded to the loudest clamour, not to the real needs of public safety.

    Good luck with the herculean task of having regulations amended so as to make them more practical.

  13. Agree GB. We have to deal with the threat of massacres, crime and terrorism on one hand while recognising that farmers and others have legitimate reasons for having guns. We also need to separate the gun control debate from the completely separate hunting debate.
    To my mind we do need a licencing regime that includes gun storage requirements. In these areas the punishment for non-compliance should assume that someone with an unlicensed weapon is a criminal or terrorist.
    I am OK with single shot or double barrel long guns but would need convincing that there are uses where licensing something with a magazine is justified. I am also OK with pistols in some cases but the licensing and control laws need to be much tighter than those for long guns.
    I don’t like the idea of membership of a gun club being a condition of licensing. Just gives money to a lobby group whose aims are questionable.

  14. According to Andrew Bolt, Goodes’ falsely claims his mother is a member of the Stolen Generations.

    Is this true?:

    She came from South Australia, which the state’s Supreme Court found in 2007 never had a policy of removing children just because they were Aboriginal.

    Brian Bennett worked for the Aborigines Department when Goodes’s mother was a girl, and told the court: “I don’t believe that I, at any time during my career as a welfare officer, had the power to remove an Aboriginal child from its parents.”

    The judge also cited a letter written in 1958 by the Secretary of the Aborigines Protection Board: “Our legislation does not provide that neglected children can be removed from their parents, except by transfer to the Children’s Welfare and Public Relief Board who in any case, will not accept them.”

    In South Australia, Aboriginal children could only be adopted “with the authority of the parents” but too few got that chance — as Goodes’s mother apparently did.

    “Unfortunately, there is a considerable amount of undernourishment, malnutrition and neglect,” the secretary mourned.

    Nonetheless, even if Goodes is wrong about this, I feel sympathy for him. His account of having copped racial abuse when young sounds about right and there is plenty of empirical evidence that Aboriginals are discriminated against in housing, employment and so on. I don’t see why he shouldn’t use his public profile to take these issues on.

    I also don’t believe the 13 year old girl didn’t know what she was doing when she called Goodes an “ape”. As I recall from my schooldays, 13 year old girls were often highly accomplished bullies and they knew exactly what words delivered the heaviest blow. Thirteen year old’s today, thanks to social media and the web, are even more worldly wise than in my youth. Her mother’s media performance does nothing to convince that the little tyke was raised to be a delicate and sensitive blossom.

    Hopefully players from other teams will do something to show Adam they support and respect him. Hopefully that will appease the crowd.

    ps. I was at Victoria Park the day a small but loud contingent of Collingwood fans racially abused Nicky Winmar from first bounce to final siren. That was distressing to say the very least. I felt sick and shed a tear or two that night. We’ve come far but we still have a long way to go.

  15. Karen, when there is a dedicated post to a topic it is normal practice to comment there.

    Since you’ve chosen to avoid moderation by commenting here I’ve switched this one to a moderated thread also.

Comments are closed.