Saturday salon 8/8

1. Bronwyn’s retirement package

Bronwyn Bishop will have to get by on a pension of $255,000 plus 10 free domestic return flights a year if she were to take the Prime Minister’s hint and quit Parliament at the next election.

2. Hiroshima

70 years ago on August 6, 1945 an atomic bomb wiped out Hiroshima, followed by another dropped on Nagasaki on August 9.


Tilman Ruff gives an account and looks at the prospects for nuclear disarmament. The bombs were the climax of a 6-month campaign:

    Between March and August 1945, 66 Japanese cities, with populations down to 30,000 inhabitants, were systematically bombed by an average of 500 bombers carrying 4000-5000 tons of bombs per city. In Tokyo on March 9-10, an estimated 120,000 civilians died in the bombing and subsequent fires.

NPR looks at the committee process that led up to the choosing of Hiroshima:

    they decided this bomb would not just kill — it would do something biblical: One bomb, from one plane, would wipe a city off the map. It would be horrible. But they wanted it to be horrible, to end the war and to try to stop the future use of nuclear bombs.

Hiroshima was about the right size and suitably compact.

They wanted to end the war, but also to warn everyone else, especially the Soviets, what they could do.

The arguments justifying the use of the bomb include a calculation of the horrendous casualties and destruction that would have occurred in an invasion of Japan.

This article suggests that it was the entry of the Soviets rather than the atomic bombs that precipitated the Japanese surrender.

3. Westpac pulls out of payday loans

Westpac will no longer finance payday lenders, a move that will force companies including Cash Converters and Money3 to obtain some of their funding elsewhere.

None of the other big banks are involved.

Most of the loans stem from an inability to meet normal living expenses on the part of low wage earners and welfare recipients. Fees and interest are at usurious rates.

Expert comment on the radio indicated that the industry is worth a billion dollars a year in Australia, and $40 billion in the USA. He thought it was evidence of the inadequacy of welfare support.

4. CSL chooses Switzerland

CSL, the old Commonwealth Serum Laboratories, has been an incredible success story since it was privatised 21 years ago. It now has a market worth of $46 billion and is the only manufacturer in Australia’s top 10 companies. However, only 2000 of its 14,000 employees work in Australia. Now it has decided to invest $600 million in a factory in Switzerland to make specialty blood clotting agents, using research and intellectual property largely developed here.

The CEO has raised again the question as to whether we should have a special tax rate of 10% for advanced manufacturing, pointing out that 10% of something is more than 30% of nothing.

Advanced manufacturing is growing, but only by 1% a year since 2008.

5. Turkey attacks ISIS, but lines up the Kurds

It’s a long article, with an alphabet soup of parties and organisations, but the bottom line seems clear – the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is using a massacre as an excuse to attack ISIS which is really a feint to bomb the Kurds in order to create a ‘zone of peace’ at the border.

The real enemy appears to be the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which inconveniently won a 13% vote at the recent elections, crossing the 10% threshold for parliamentary representation and denying the AKP the capacity to change the constitution on their own, or indeed a working majority. It looks as though there will have to be a new poll. The suspicion is that the AKP is creating an emergency, to win or perhaps avoid an election.

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.

15 thoughts on “Saturday salon 8/8”

  1. I think there is a strong case for a dramatic lowering of company tax if not complete elimination. The lowering would suddenly make Australia competitive in terms of a lot of business’s with places like Singapore.
    Complete elimination gets rid of an awful lot of complexity and cheating in our tax system as well as the collection costs. The GST is also much harder for companies to avoid.
    Logical replacement is an increase in the GST which would also be in line with what is happening in many overseas overseas companies.
    Company tax and the GST are roughly the same in terms of regressiveness. Increasing GST adds nothing to the cost of collection.

  2. I suspect that the workers at the CSL factory would pay much more tax than would be gained from the profits of the exercise via company tax.

  3. The CEO has raised again the question as to whether we should have a special tax rate of 10% for advanced manufacturing, pointing out that 10% of something is more than 30% of nothing.

    Is the CEO guaranteeing to bring those 12,000 jobs to Australia if the tax rate is dropped? I’d make that deal if we start taxing mining companies properly (instead of subsidising them) to make up the shortfall and to show we’re serious about keeping advanced industries here.
    But I’m not holding my breath – we have a long history (going back at least to Menzies) of driving advanced manufacturing off shore. It seems we much prefer being a quarry to a laboratory; probably because thinking makes our heads hurt.

  4. Is the CEO guaranteeing to bring those 12,000 jobs to Australia if the tax rate is dropped?

    Well, of course not. He’s not even saying that he would have chosen Australia rather than Switzerland for the new factory. He’s saying it would help to tip the scales in our favour.

  5. we have a long history (going back at least to Menzies) of driving advanced manufacturing off shore.

    Not so sure about that, zoot. Low level manufacturing of consumer commodities has been disappearing and continues to do so. Further than that, manufacturing across Asia is becoming increasingly sophisticated, so some of the advanced stuff may emigrate as well.

    As the post says, advanced manufacturing is still growing, but only by 1% a year since 2008.

  6. The whole system of rewards and punishments in Australia is in need of radical and rapid change.

    Bronny’s obscene “Entitlements” was just one of many the tips of the iceberg.

    Don’t try telling me that one of our plundering, overstuffed CEOs or board members is worth many dozens of times the value of an enrolled nurse, a teachers’ aide, a process worker or a labourer. Especially after seeing so many dumb-bunny decisions being made and seeing such a manifest lack of strategic thinking from those being so richly rewarded.

    Abolishing Company Tax is a good idea …. AFTER we stop rewarding firms for moving Australian jobs offshore whilst the culprits are still sucking on the public teat like a bunch of Communist apparatchiks. AFTER we impose mandatory harsh imprisonment and confiscation of personal assets on anyone involved with transnational firms who commits, or is an accomplice in committing, pricing and tax-dodging rorts. AFTER we impose mandatory harsh imprisonment and confiscation of personal assets on anyone involved in the RACIST 457 visa rorts and in migration rackets.

  7. AFTER we impose mandatory harsh imprisonment

    No no, prison is a place of rehabilitation and learning, not harsh punishment.

    They are just victims of the high socio-ecomomic cultural hegemonic sub group they find themselves in.
    The societal pressure from, not only peers and those reliant on them, but also media and shareholders can be overwhelming.

    Please, Graham, a little compassion is in order.
    We’re all just people.

  8. Well, Jumpy, these plundering scoundrels have no consciences, nor do they respond to reasonable requests and sound advice ; they are beyond rehabilitation…. so what’s left? Harsh imprisonment and confiscation of personal assets is a far more gentle response than some of the others I had in mind.

  9. GB: Removal of citizenship is the preferred LNP punishment. Ok with me as long as they do their time in jail at Nauru or Manus.

  10. Yeah, great idea, put all CEOs in jail and replace them with union officials/government bureaucrats.
    Why not ?
    Worked a treat in Venezuela, Cuba, Zimbabwe…
    Shining Star economies where the worker are tickled pink and where you would feel euphoric if you lived there.
    There immigration intake would be enormous.

  11. And in other news, Nick Kyrgios continues to be booed.
    This Greek/Malaysian racism must stop.

  12. No Jumpy. You’ve got it all wrong. We don’t want to end up like Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, Thatcher’s Britain or Salazar’s Portugal.

    Instead, put all the duds and fakes and stealers into re-education camps and strengthen their minds and bodies with honest physical labour AND search out those with real talent, vigour and innovative ideas inside each of the firms and departments, promote them several steps straight into the top jobs and watch the whole country flourish overnight.

    John D.: Stripping of citizenship seems like poetic justice; they deserve it. Actually, I was thinking more of Macquarie Island, Heard Island and Willis Island – building low environmental impact, high tech research facilities and accommodation on them would be very labour intensive. And voila! here is your labour force, not a highly skilled one but beggars can’t be choosers. Still, very highly-paid guards could be recruited from among our best tradies; they could then carry out two functions: directing the work of the convicts and preventing their escape. After all, wasn’t Australia founded on Convict labour and on dead Blackfellas?

  13. Why not just lock up the bosses of the CEOs, the shareholders ?

    How charmingly naive.
    Jumpy probably believes in the tooth fairy as well.

  14. Jumpy: Since some individual shareholders (with hefty portfolios) I have come across are as thick as a brick, locking them up for their own protection – and not as punishment – seems like a kindly idea.

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