Saturday salon 29/8

1. Away for a while

Four of the Bahnisch siblings and their partners have decided to meet up and invade Europe again. Back in 2008 it was the Rhine, this time the centre-piece is a trip down the Danube, if it has any water in it. I’ll be away from 8 September to 13 October.

This time I think it best for the blog to lie fallow. John D has been busy doing good works, and there are no other active bloggers to keep the site going.

I’m expecting my posting to taper in the coming week. We’ll see.

2. National Reform Summit

I think the idea may have come from former Labor minister Craig Emerson and Nick Cater, the Director of the Menzies Research Centre. The National Reform Summit was sponsored by The Australian, The Australian Financial Review and KPMG and everyone that mattered was there – business groups, community groups, the unions, addressing all manner of social and economic issues, and apparently reaching furious agreement.

Laura Tingle says the key question is now how the debate now feeds back into politics. My feeling is that the ideological fissures will again reappear as we get back to sound bites and point scoring.

Joe Hockey said we can’t go into the future looking out of the window od a Holden Commodore. I’d just like a government with its hands on the wheel. Hockey said consumers will lead the way.

Martin Parkinson said we are sleepwaliking into a real mess if we don’t get a grip.

Roy Green and John Hamilton Howard tell us what we need to do to ensure Australia remains an innovative nation.

3. Border Force farce

I couldn’t believe what seemed to be going on. Something called Border Force. People who looked like cops. Stopping people at random on the street to see whether their visa was in order!

Here’s an explanation:

    In July, the Australian customs and border protection merged with the department of immigration and border protection and launched the Australian border force, whose officers have substantially greater powers than either customs or immigration officials. They are permitted to carry guns and have powers to detain.

    Under the Migration Act, an authorised officer can ask for information from someone the officer “knows or reasonably suspects is a non-citizen”.

    The information can include evidence of being a lawful non-citizen and personal identity papers. The person must comply with the request within a time period “specified by the officer”.

    If the officer “knows or reasonably suspects” the person is an unlawful non-citizen the officer must detain that person.

In effect the immigration system was being militarised.

Any way it seems to have stopped before it started.

4. Visigoths sack Rome

That was 1600 years ago on 24 August:

    Tuesday marks the 1,600th anniversary of one of the turning points of European history – the first sack of Imperial Rome by an army of Visigoths, northern European barbarian tribesmen, led by a general called Alaric.

    It was the first time in 800 years that Rome had been successfully invaded. The event had reverberations around the Mediterranean.

It must have seemed like the end of the world at the time.

5. Gillard supports same sex marriage equality

Gillard has been getting a bit of a razz for saying that she now supports same sex marriage. A bit bloody late, they say.

Actually she’s repeating what she said in her book some time ago. Her position has been misunderstood, by people who either don’t listen or hear only what they want to hear. There is a statement in the link, but let me try again.

Gillard as a young feminist saw the institution of marriage as hopelessly patriarchal and wanted it nixed in favour of civil unions. She would do nothing to support the institution.

She has come to realise that history has spoken. The institution of marriage will endure and even be cherished. That being the case she now recognises that it should be open to all.

She has been seen as strangely conservative, or sucking up to conservative interests, whereas she was actually more radical than most.

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.

24 thoughts on “Saturday salon 29/8”

  1. Brian says:

    She [Gillard] has been seen as strangely conservative, or sucking up to conservative interests, whereas she was actually more radical than most.

    I think Gillard and her supporters have spun you a yarn, Brian. See here:

    PRIME Minister Julia Gillard revealed yesterday that her personal stance against gay marriage was due to her conservative upbringing.

    Ms Gillard said she was “on the conservative side” of the gay marriage issue “because of the way our society is and how we got here”, the Daily Telegraph reports.

    “I think that there are some important things from our past that need to continue to be part of our present and part of our future,” she said. “If I was in a different walk of life, if I’d continued in the law and was partner of a law firm now, I would express the same view, that I think for our culture, for our heritage, the Marriage Act and marriage being between a man and a woman has a special status.

    “Now, I know people might look at me and think that’s something that they wouldn’t necessarily expect me to say, but that is what I believe.

    “I’m on the record as saying things like I think it’s important for people to understand their Bible stories, not because I’m an advocate of religion – clearly, I’m not – but once again, what comes from the Bible has formed such an important part of our culture.”

    Ms Gillard said she had a “pro-union, pro-Labor upbringing in a quite conservative family, in the sense of personal values”.

    All of this was widely reported at the time.

    I can barely believe that you’ve been duped into believing that Gillard’s opposition to full civil rights for gay people was based on groovy feminist radicalism.

  2. Back in 2008 it was the Rhine, this time the centre-piece is a trip down the Danube, if it has any water in it

    Don’t worry Brian, with the Bahnisch family Co2 footprints contribution to sea level rise, it’ll be flooded in no time.

    Just kidding, have a lovely time, forget panicking and relax.
    99.9% of the Earths population are envious of you, and rightly so.

  3. Hi Brian
    I trust that you, Margot and your fellow travellers have a great trip.
    I look forward to your return.

  4. From the link in the post (it’s long but people are lazy in following links):

    “To be frank, the nature of Australia’s contemporary debate on same sex marriage has caused me to re-examine some fundamental assumptions I have held about this debate. As many of you in this room are aware, I voted against same sex marriage when changes came before the Federal Parliament. I ensured my political party had a conscience vote and I did not seek to influence the vote of anyone within my political party on the legislation itself.

    “I am aware that this vote by me was viewed as odd by many given what theyknow of my broader values. I am keenly aware my position was idiosyncratic.One of my staff members summarised it as that of a 1970s feminist. Given the 1970s feminist in me saw much to be concerned with from a gender perspective with traditional marriage, I thought the better approach was not to change the old but to create something new through civil unions.

    “However, in the years since, the debate has quickly moved on, and the claim for civil unions has been discarded in favour of a campaign for same sex marriage. In my time post politics as key countries have moved to embrace same sex marriage, I have identified that my preferred reform direction was most assuredly not winning hearts and minds.

    “In fact, I assumed what would likely happen next was that the Liberal Party would move to a conscience vote on same sex marriage and, inevitably at some point, the parliament would vote to amend the Marriage Act to allow for same sex marriages.Being outside the Parliament, I would not have a vote in this process. After the vote was successfully taken my position would have been overtaken by history, something which would have caused me no heart burn.

    “Now, given the discussion of a plebiscite or a referendum, I find myself in a world where these assumptions have been upended. As you know from my earlier remarks, I think it is vital that the proposal for a plebiscite or referendum is put to one side.

    “I also think it is important that the matter is now resolved through a conscience vote by the parliament…

    Then she says she would now vote “yes”.

    What she wrote in her book is compatible with the above. I had also heard her speak of the matter in the same vein.

    The quote you unearthed from 2011 is quite incompatible with both. I’ll just take note and move on.

  5. Hi Darral,

    Thanks and cheers.

    Jumpy, the CO2 footprint does cause me pain, but I’m a member of a family.

    Last time I was astonished at the rivers of people in places like the airports at Amsterdam and Frankfurt.

    Anyway, thanks for the wishes.

  6. Jumpy, the CO2 footprint does cause me pain, but I’m a member of a family.

    I’m expecting to see some happy snaps on your return.
    I’m sure the jeans and flannelettes will feature prominently.


  7. Brian

    The only thing that matters is what Gillard said and did when she was PM. When Gillard was PM she told us she was a social conservative and her policies reflected this. My quote is from Gillard’s time as PM.

    Gillard has since tried to rewrite history through a book and various public comments. If Tony Abbott does this after his PMship expires you will be all over him like fleas on a dog. So will I for that matter.

    My view is that Gillard probably lied about being a social conservative when she was PM. I think she did this for justifiable reasons of realpolitik, given the precarious state of her Government. As Gillard is no longer a pollie she cannot justify her continued lies on any grounds, IMO.

  8. On the upside, the naked mole rat lives in 50,000 ppm co2, doesn’t get cancer and outlives other rodents 6 times over.

    I feel a name change coming on, how bout you ” Karen ” ?

    ( disclamer, info from Dr Karl so may not be in any way accurate . )

  9. Karen, two things.

    I didn’t read the ‘family values’ spiel back in 2011. I can’t keep up with everything.

    Secondly, the evidence now does point to her having put out a false story for political reasons at the time. I find this disappointing.

    Thing is, I care about Gillard and what happened to her, recognising that she was not without fault.

    I won’t be bothering about Abbott after he’s gone.

  10. Jumpy, on the trip I’ll be actually wearing much the same clothes as I did in 2008. A few things different.

    Camera will be on board, but you’ve no idea how long those photo essays take to put together!

  11. Brian: Busting with curiosity. Where??

    Have just finished reading Mallory’s In Search Of The Indo-Europeans, written in 1989. He presented various arguments for locating the original homeland of the speakers of Proto-Indo-European fairly but very critically. I did notice that the Sorbs/Wends barely got a mention – as usual.

  12. OK, Graham, starting with 7 nights in Berlin, then down to Erlangen just north of Nuremberg to see our friends. Then a bus to Prague. Some of us are going to revisit ancestral villages in what is now Poland that my brother saw last year.

    The ‘boat’ trip actually starts in Prague, then by bus to Passau on the German/Austrian border. Hence via Vienna etc to Budapest. We will be taking an optional day trip to the heritage listed city of Cesky Krumlov, which everyone says is fantastic and I’d never heard of.

    The return flight tracks back to Frankfurt, which is a pain.

    Where does Mallory locate the speakers of Proto-Indo-European?

  13. Hey, Brian, do you want someone to carry your bags, do quality assurance testing on meals in those foreign countries, etc. ? 🙂

    Mallory seems to go for the Pontic-Caspian steppes and the nearby open forests. Roughly from the rivers Bug and Ural; mainly Dniestr to Volga. He’s not keen, either on Anatolian origins nor on Baltic to Danube hypothesis. The Tocharians of Central Asia seem to be the furthest east – with few outliers further east. Because he sticks strictly to speakers of Proto-Indo-European, he doesn’t mention Caucasians further into Asia. Mentions more linguistic interaction between Finno-Ugrian peoples in their presumed original homelands and the Indo-European than I had imagined. Can’t remember him mentioning similar linguistic interactions – which would have been extensive – between Indo-Europeans of Italy and the various Phonecians although he had quite a bit to say about that with Etruscans.
    Good overview of the field before DNA reached prominence and before Russian archaeologists and the like lost their regular sources of research funds.

  14. Jeez, the ABC is making some balanced applause for winners of the Clarion Awards.

    Murdoch got more , so it’s always worth digging deeper to find out the important bits ABC intentionally omits to get the bigger picture.

    (That’s my rule anyway )

  15. Graham, yes I could do with some-one, but can’t afford to pay!

    Sounds as though Mallory puts the Proto-Indo-Europeans pretty much where David Anthony had them, which was the book I read for the Deep Origins post (see the third image).

  16. Thanks, Brian, for that reminder of an excellent post from back in 2013.

    The academic brawls continue, of course, but I prefer to go along with the DNA evidence mentioned here earlier this year:

    By the way, as I write this, I’m half-watching the program on SBS TV 1, The Inca: Masters Of The Change, about the nuts-and-bolts administration of the Inca Empire. A refreshing change from the touristy advertainment and the flying- saucers gee-whiz programs that have the word “Inca” stuck on the title of them.

    And, yes please. As soon as that fortune falls from the skies into my outstretched hands, I’ll pack my bag. See you in the Departure Lounge. 🙂

  17. The Federal seat of New England is heating up already !
    So far I’ve got-
    LNP – Barnaby ” ex- Senator ” Joyce
    Ind – Tony ” retired for family and health reasons ” Windsor
    Green – Mercurous ” the teacher teacher ” Goldstein
    ALP – ??????

    Paul Burns must be beside himself with the gladiatorial spectacle that awaits him, and a little torn between 2 of them.

  18. Not torn between 2 candidates, Jumpy.
    Like most people in New England I know Tony Windsor and he was/is an excellent local candidate.
    I also know Mercurius, though not well. He used to do posts for LP, IIRC, and when I was dying in hospital a few years ago (obviously I recovered) he came down from Glenn Innes especially to see me with a Get Well card signed by a lot of people from LP, which I now treasure.
    I will vote for Windsor because he can win the seat and Joyce is hopeless, and will give Merc my second preference. Joyce will go at the bottom unless there’s some loony even further to the Right running. You never know with New England.
    And it wouldn’t matter if neither Windsor or Merc were running, I’d never vote for Joyce.

  19. I’m also interested in watching Joyce disintegrate as he realises his political career is over, with Windsor running against him.

  20. Further comment on the contest for New England.
    It was very politically astute of Windsor to resign before the last election. Back then, there was an off-chance he might have lost the seat because of his support for the Gillard Government. This time round he won’t.
    I don’t get out much but I do have a range of visitors across the political spectrum. Apart from one or two dyed in the wool Nats all of them think the Abbott Government stinks, and are looking forward to Windsor coming back.

  21. G’day Paul Burns. The condition is called trans-border cerebral depletion: Barnaby Joyce was fine when he was a Senator for (or in) Queensland; looks like he had sudden onset TBCD as soon as he shifted to NSW and went into the House Of Rascals.

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