Saturday salon 22/8

1. Kathy Jackson flames out

Kathy Jackson who once posed as a whistleblower has been exposed as a liar, a thief and a hypocrite. The $1.4 million she lifted from the Health Services Union makes Craig Thompson look like a petty thief.

2. Mark Latham resigns from the Australian Financial Review

Here’s Gay Alcorn:

    That “trollumnist” Mark Latham, that “misogynist”, “venal”, “crazy-eyed moron” whose views should be “rejected and dismantled and kicked into the gutter where they belong” has resigned from the Australian Financial Review.

    I could quote further of the many public character assessments of the former Labor leader, but you get the gist.

Alcorn regrets his going.

    Latham is angry, outrageous, insulting – with a lifelong chip on his shoulder – as well as astute, brave and far more readable than most.

The Guardian reports AFR editor Michael Stutchberry saying Latham wasn’t pushed.

Latham resigned within days of a BuzzFeed report linking Latham to the abusive @RealMarkLatham Twitter account.

Stutchbury says Latham gave no explanation, but thinks it had more to do with transgender military officer Catherine McGregor, who he labelled “increasingly erratic’.

I have to admit, we dodged a bullet when we nearly made him PM.

3. Greece goes pear-shaped

First of all Alexis Tsipras feels he has to call an election to gain a mandate for the austerity package he signed up to.

Now the party has split:

    Angry at what they see as a betrayal of Syriza’s anti-austerity principles, the 25 MPs announced their intention to form a new party in a letter to parliament the day after Tsipras resigned to pave the way for snap elections next month.

    Led by the former energy minister, Panagiotis Lafazanis, the new movement will be the third-largest group in the Greek parliament and could conceivably receive a mandate to try to form a new government.

4. Amen to religious instruction

The Victorian Government will scrap Special Religious Instruction (SRI) in schools in favour of a curriculum that aims to develop respectful relationships, and will include the study of world religions, cultures, faiths and ethics.

Education Minister James Merlino said:

    “This new content helps all school students, regardless of their background or faith, to understand the world around them and the ideas and values that shape that world.”

Respect for women will also be taught as a counter to domestic violence.

According to the ABC report Victoria offered religious instruction on an ‘opt-in’ basis. Only 20% took up the offer. The other 80% were not allowed to engage in any curriculum work that would disadvantage the 20%. I imagine this caused considerable difficulty for schools.

5. Halifax explosion

The Tianjin explosion in China was dramatic and devastating, as angry families return to a toxic wasteland. According to the BBC:

    The China Earthquake Networks Centre said the initial explosion, in a city with a population of around 15 million, had a power equivalent to three tonnes of TNT detonating, while the second was the equivalent of 21 tonnes.

It killed over 100 people.

In terms of explosive power it was nevertheless a minnow compared to the the explosion at Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1917 which killed about 2000 people and injured a further 9000.

    The blast was the largest man-made explosion prior to the development of nuclear weapons, releasing the equivalent energy of roughly 2.9 kilotons of TNT.

The explosion occurred shortly after the SS Mont-Blanc, a French cargo ship fully loaded with wartime explosives, collided with an empty Norwegian vessel off Halifax, Nova Scotia. While the damage to Mont Blanc was not severe, some drums of benzol on the deck were broken open, flooding the deck with benzol which then flowed into the hold. A fire started which could not be controlled, so the crew abandoned the ship.

    Every building within a 2.6-kilometre (1.6 mi) radius, over 12,000 in total, was destroyed or badly damaged. Hundreds of people who had been watching the fire from their homes were blinded when the blast wave shattered the windows in front of them.

The shank of the ship’s anchor, weighing half a ton, landed 3.2 kilometres away.

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.

20 thoughts on “Saturday salon 22/8”

  1. Nice roundup of corrupt violent socialist/communists coping one in the slats.

    Good change. Thumbs up.

  2. re Mark Latham. We may or may not have dodged a bullet when he didn’t become Prime Minister but we jumped right in the path of a salvo of cannon-balls – Mark Latham might have been the better option.

    re Kathy Whatshername. She is only the tip of the iceberg.

    Why do you think it is, in an era when unions are so vital in protecting workers from outrageous exploitation, from racist exclusion and from workplace perils, that so many potential union members vote with their feet?

    I suggest an amendment to the Australian Constitution forbidding anyone from becoming a trade union executive-level official who had not spent several years “on the tools” in that industry. The referendum question wouldn’t get the same 92% Yes vote that the Fair Go For Blackfellas referendum did – but I reckon it would nudge 80% ~ 85%.

    re Greece. Greece has courts and jails and extradition agreements – so does Germany – so why are the Greek politicians and businessmen who caused the financial mess see allowed to walk around free? And why aren’t the greedy, manipulative German finance industry scoundrels, currently pretending to be the injured party, behind bars for knowingly and recklessly playing fast-and-loose with their depositors’ and shareholders’ money?

    Anyway, let’s keep a close eye on Greece. It will become a model for what will happen in Australia when the results of the Menzies era trade deficits and all the subsequent financial shenanegans and jiggery-pokery crash down on us.

  3. You seem to be having a nice day GB. Or will having got that all the above off you liver.
    I have had a lot to do with industrial relations in the coal, iron ore and manganese industries over the years. Having union officials who have worked on the tools doesn’t solve the problems. Power does occasionally corrupt no matter what a person’s background is.

  4. Having union officials who have worked on the tools doesn’t solve the problems.

    Haha, yeah, the closest these ALP bigshots have come to a tool is picketing speeches out front of a business that won’t pay into their reelection fund.
    Or threatening to fire bomb it in the middle of the night.

    But, you know, shit happens right ?

  5. Heh, he certainly isn’t a sensitive petal.

    And for those interested in the Canning and past Bi-elections, FlagPost.

  6. John D.: My own experience of union officials has been somewhat different.

    It seems to me that there are good union officials, ones who have the best interests of the rank-and-file members at heart.

    It also seems to me that there are a lot of quite bad union officials – and the more “professional” they are, the worse they are. It also seems that I’m not alone in that view – hence my comment on a referendum.

    Of course robust negotiations involve compromise so that even with the best will in the world, a good union official will have to make unpleasant choices so as to get the best outcome possible under the circumstances.
    Sadly, there are some rank-and-file union members who see the essential courtesy, shown to the employers’ side, by their representatives and mistake it for “crawling to the Bosses”; this unfair to those union officials who are striving for a worthwhile outcome.
    However, who can have any respect at all for a union official who would probably be much happier sitting on the other side of table with his own kind of people than in promoting the interests of the people who actually pay his salary?

  7. GB: The industries that have had difficult industrial relations tend to be dangerous industries where the treatment of the workers has been pretty ordinary. As someone put it, companies seem to get the industrial relations they deserve.
    My observation is that you get some duds on both sides of the negotiating table. Union officials who are playing for power or larger political issues and treat their members in a way that would start a strike if a manager did it. Managers who really want to have the power to treat the workers like s*** , pay them as little as possible and take safety shortcuts. Managers that blamed the workers for management incompetence.
    In some ways I found the paid officials easy to deal with because we understood each others strategies and knew the other side knew our strategies. It is a lot more difficult to deal with a shop steward with a more limited perspective.
    I dealt with Keith Wilson (Gillard’s friend) on many occasions.
    Reasonable to deal with, fought for the workers even if he did something marginal later in life.

  8. It would have been enlightening to see if Ken Talbot had gotten the same sentence as Gordon Nuttall.
    But, plane crash and all that.

  9. John D.: Anyone, anywhere, who has the wits to see a situation from the other fellow’s perspective, whether that anyone is a Papua-Niugini highlander doing a small deal worth a couple of Kina or a jet-setting executive of a transnational corporation or a union official , has a marked advantage over the greedy, the selfish and the ruthless.

    Being well aware of the rules-of-the-game is fine …. provided playing the game with flair and fun does not become more important than the real needs of the rank-and-file members.

    The whole field of industrial relations needs an overhaul.


  10. Being the OF I’d like to introduce humour.

    Marriage License Office Clerk……
    “Good morning. We want to apply for a marriage license.”
    “Names?”, said the clerk.
    “Tim and Jim Jones.”
    “Jones?? Are you related?? I see a resemblance.”
    “Yes, we’re brothers.”
    “Brothers?? You can’t get married.”
    “Why not?? Aren’t you giving marriage licenses to same gender couples?”
    “Yes, thousands. But we haven’t had any siblings. That’s incest!”
    “Incest?” No, we are not gay.”
    “Not gay?? Then why do you want to get married?”
    “For the financial benefits, of course. And we do love each other. Besides, we don’t have any other prospects.”
    “But we’re issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples who’ve claim they’d been denied equal protection under the law. If you are not gay, you can get married to a woman.”
    “Wait a minute. A gay man has the same right to marry a woman as I have. But just because I’m straight doesn’t mean I want to marry a woman. I want to marry Jim.”
    “And I want to marry Tim, Are you going to discriminate against us just because we are not gay?”
    “All right, all right. I’ll give you your license. Next.”

    “Hi. We are here to get married.”
    “John Smith, Jane James, Robert Green, and June Johnson.”
    “Who wants to marry whom?”
    “We all want to marry each other.”
    “But there are four of you!”
    “That’s right. You see, we’re all bisexual. I love Jane and Robert, Jane loves me and June, June loves Robert and Jane, and Robert loves June and me. All of us getting married together is the only way that we can express our sexual preferences in a marital relationship.”
    “But we’ve only been granting licenses to gay and lesbian couples.”
    “So you’re discriminating against bisexuals!”
    “No, it’s just that, well, the traditional idea of marriage is that
    it’s just for couples.”
    “Since when are you standing on tradition?”
    “Well, I mean, you have to draw the line somewhere.”
    “Who says?? There’s no logical reason to limit marriage to couples. The more the better. Besides, we demand our rights! The mayor says the constitution guarantees equal protection under the law. Give us a marriage license!”
    “All right, all right. Next.”

    “Hello, I’d like a marriage license.”
    “In what names?”
    “David Anderson.”
    “And the other man?”
    “That’s all. I want to marry myself.”
    “Marry yourself?? What do you mean?”
    “Well, my psychiatrist says I have a dual personality, so I want to marry the two together. Maybe I can file a joint income-tax return.”
    “That does it!? I quit!!? You people are making a mockery of marriage!!”

  11. I’ve got it, Jumpy, it’s the session where they decided to reduce their salaries to the same level as Newstart and their perquisites to a cost only, with verified invoices, basis. Right?

  12. Thanks for reminding us about the Halifax Explosion. When I was a kid, this was always ranked with the Krakatoa, the Vesuvius and the Martinique volcanic eruptions for destructiveness. (Not sure why nobody mentioned the Hecla eruption in Iceland or Santorini in the Mediterranean).

  13. Jumpy, the link had in it the term “gillvote”. With the help of Google I came up with this:

    Interestingly, fewer than three years ago Julia Gillard joined Coalition benches to vote against gay marriage, along with Labor colleagues Chris Bowen, David Bradbury, Tony Burke, Craig Emerson, Ed Husic, Kevin Rudd and Wayne Swan

  14. Graham I didn’t know about Halifax until a management seminar in the early 1970s where we were told that the disaster commission set up at the time was still in existence 50 years later. It was given as an example of how institutions tend to perpetuate themselves.

  15. GB,
    I didn’t know about the Halifax Explosion until I started researching Halifax for my history on the Ist. Fleet in the American Revolution. (David Collins was in Halifax for a while and met his wife there. There are a few posts on 18c Halifax on my now defunct blog.

    FTR, stopped writing the history. Physically took too much effort getting books off shelves and going through shoeboxes and shoeboxes of notes, hour after hour, with my various lung problems. Now writing a novel. Don’t need to go from computer for minimal research required.

  16. Paul Burns, whatever you do, don’t destroy those research notes; somebody might come along to collate and write the paper/article/book.

    Brian. The Halifax Explosion – and the massive eruptions – were mentioned in school in the context of a massive loss of life in a matter of minutes. This wasn’t long after the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki – but I can’t recall them being mentioned in the same breath as the Halifax Explosion.

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