Saturday salon 24/10

1. The ‘sharing economy’

The ‘sharing economy‘ has crept up on policy makers. Perhaps best known are Uber and Airbnb.

Uber, which competes with the taxi business, has chalked up 2.5 million rides in Brisbane in just 18 months. Andrew Leigh told the ABC that one in 200 homes in Australia are listed on Airbnb to be available for accommodation.

There is concern that

    they are disrupting existing businesses, undermining the tax system and offering varying degrees of quality with little recourse for unsatisfied customers.


    It was discovered earlier this month that Uber and Airbnb have been sending profits offshore to lower taxing nations like Ireland and the Netherlands.

Labor has enunciated six principles to embrace the sharing economy:

    Flexible rules and regulations.
    Industry standard wages and conditions.
    Pay “fair” share of tax.
    Public safety assurance, including insurance, licencing and inspections.
    Disability access
    “Heavy” penalties, or disabling the operations of companies found to be breaking the law.

It now wants to share these principles with the Government.

2. Joe Hockey bows out

Michael Pascoe says that Joe Hockey’s biggest failure was his loyalty to Tony Abbott, who, Laura Tingle says, repeatedly threw him under the bus.

Pascoe is scathing about Hockey. He was simply not up to the job, but “would have made a good Minister for Sport and Rec.”

This quote from Tingle illustrates illustrates the dysfunction of the Abbott government:

    In April, The Australian Financial Review reported an interview with Hockey in which he canvassed the prospect of measures in the May budget on super.

    A few days later Abbott killed the idea stone dead.

    This was despite the fact the measures had been discussed by cabinet ministers as part of the budget strategy. FOI documents that emerged later in the year confirmed this. Abbott killed the idea despite the fact he and Hockey had agreed on the move at a dinner before Hockey spoke.

    When protests were made to the prime minister’s office about a volte face that had left Hockey looking ridiculous, the response from Abbott’s chief of staff Peta Credlin, according to very senior sources, was “I often have to correct his [Abbott’s] mistakes”.

Michelle Grattan compares Hockey’s career trajectory with that of Julie Bishop, for whom he will be working as Ambassador to the US.

3. Justin Trudeau wins Canada

Abbott’s soul mate, Canadian PM Stephen Harper, has been dumped by electors in Canada in favour of the centre-left Liberal Party and Justin Trudeau.

Norman Hermant tells how Trudeau stunned the nation.

For policies see:

Seven things Justin Trudeau believes in

What a Justin Trudeau Win Means for Canada

Justin Trudeau faces challenging inbox as Canada’s new prime minister

He looks promising on climate change and has vowed to reform Canada’s first-past-the-post voting system to something more democratic, and incidentally more favourable to his own party.

4. I’m back but…

…but I seem to be horrendously busy with work and a series of medical and dental appointments, mostly routine.

However, back in July I stopped taking a pill because they don’t make it any more. It had been prescribed by a specialist in relation to my life-long problems with insomnia. One a day and the damn thing was only about a 73 millionth of my body weight!

Some of the effects were astonishing, including feeling weak in the knees and my body a bit shredded, but of most concern, my sleep patterns were entirely disrupted. I was basically sleep-deprived for the whole of the European trip.

Things are better now, I’m getting enough sleep and am starting to feel like my body belongs to me again. However, the two-sleep pattern has been replaced by a more traditional one-sleep. Problem is, I seem to have less time at the computer, although that may be part of the seasonal change. I always have less computer time in the summer.

There have been sacrifices. I don’t drink coffee after the middle of the day and I’ve pretty much given up having a glass of wine with the evening meal.

We’ll just have to see how it all works out, but my blogging priority over time will be with climate change.

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.

37 thoughts on “Saturday salon 24/10”

  1. Sorry about your sleep problems Brian. I find the amount of wine I drink is closely linked to my sleep pattern.
    I might suggest (facetiously) that you consider some therapeutic cannabis as it becomes available – it seems to be of great value to many people.

    I am ambushed by the ” Sharing Economy” . Where the heck did that come from? I reckon it might just be a new pollie buzz thing, a new invention to appear creative and distract us from the on-going issues of governance. Bill needs that right now.
    On the other hand it might amount to a shielded redistribution of wealth, or at least that might be an interpretation. Such an idea has steadfastly resisted action in the positive sense for a very long time now, whatever government we have elected.

    The ” six principles” make good reading but would need to be artfully implemented. They would have to rise over practices of the present day that are contrary and have been for a very long time. They would also not want to cause a ” strike on capital” where it was no longer viable to invest in Oz. And of course we introduce new levels of ” uncertainty” into our economic context. Really, I’m not sure if there is sufficient political skill to make any of this really work.

  2. Flexible rules and regulations.
    Industry standard wages and conditions.
    Pay “fair” share of tax.
    Public safety assurance, including insurance, licencing and inspections.
    Disability access
    “Heavy” penalties, or disabling the operations of companies found to be breaking the law.

    Bills more detailed version of a Ronny quote ?

    If it moves, tax it.
    If it keeps moving, regulate it.
    And if it stops moving, subsidize it.

  3. Geoff, the ‘sharing economy’ was new to me but it seems to be a concept that has been around for a while. The Wikipedia link suggests to me that it is furry around the edges and difficult to define, but Airbnb and Uber are real, are causing problems and require a policy response.

    WRT to Airbnb, bed sits, farm stays and house swapping have been around for yonks, but Airbnb has a corporate dimension and uses social media as a matter of course. Uber is entirely new.

    The taxi bloke who brought us from the airport (about half an hour’s trip) said that Uber had some advantages for taxis. It took away the ‘rubbish’, ie, young drunk people, and in peak hours could be more expensive than taxis. As it achieves greater market penetration, however, I imagine it will be a threat. Taxi drivers are not happy with the Plaszczuk government mounting an inquiry that will not report until next August.

  4. Jumpy, your small government, anti-Labor venting is very predictable, so I’ll just let it through to the keeper. You are at your best when you provide links to useful information.

  5. Brian I really appreciate most of Jumpy’s alternative and incisive views. I don’t care what his politics are. Nor do I mind if I disagree with him because I really like alternative views, something Jumpy readily produces.

    About Uber I am not sure but maybe the problem goes way back to the taxi industry itself. It has been a legalised monopoly for a long time. A taxi ride is often a somewhat undignified and expensive experience. Many of it’s issues are government driven by the many regulatory collars on the industry. Fix that side before stuffing around with anything else and the need for Uber will change. Maybe government will even learn something about markets. I don’t see the need for a new Pollie-speak zinger called “shared economy” bringing home a new “solution” to our woes. Sounds like same old paradigm crap.

  6. Brian
    ALP or Lib/Nat, doesn’t seem to matter much nowadays.
    The main motivation for them all is how to pork barrel their own re-election with our ingenuity, sacrifice and effort.
    The difference between car pooling and Uber is taxability control .
    Airbnb = less pork than conventional accommodation.
    Ask yourself who benefits from Uber and Airbnb as it is?. It’s grassroots, low income, now generation triers.

    If safety is your main concern, taxies and Hiltons are still available.

  7. BilB, I’ve tried just about everything, and know about good sleep hygiene. The problem started over 50 years ago when I was at university and put in some all-night sessions to get assignments finished.

    I’ve seen three different specialists and have read Carmel Harrington’s The Complete Guide to a Good Night’s Sleep. She knows about three times as much about sleep as any of the specialists I’ve seen.

    One category she identifies is ‘learned insomnia’, which I have in spades after having tried most things and been defeated over 50 years.

    There are a few avenues open, but my cardio, who I saw recently, tells me I should just let everything settle for about a month. The pattern I’m on is improving things, but I can’t throw the pills away yet. After a month I’ll book a half hour with my GP and go from there.

    Thanks for your concern.

  8. Jumpy, I’m not quite so cynical about politicians, and I do think there are differences between the centre left and the right.

    We used Airbnb for part of our accommodation. Believe me there are issues, but I don’t want to write about them.

    A certain amount of regulation is part of a liveable society, and a taxation base needs to be preserved.

    Geoff, I think Airbnb and Uber are quite different cases. Certainly the taxi industry needs a new look. I don’t particularly welcome the new jargon, but it is based on an examination of real world situations. I understand Andrew Leigh has been working on the policy for some time. What he’s come up with is, I’d suggest, analytical and helpful in looking at individual cases.

  9. Two parts of a sharing economy that make sense to me are parking sharing and camping space where applicable. Obviously parking would be the most useful to more people more often in and around cities.

    Another sharing concept is the guy who has a website on which you can advertise things you want to give away. The receiver organises the pickup at their cost.

    I don’t know how uber works but where it can work for commute car poolihg that can ony be a good thing. In China hat works by personal network. Travelled there with the owner of a business who deviated to picked up several people in his Audi and drop them a their work in the near area we were going. In a second experience when coming out of a function into fresh snow my host waved down a guy in his luxury car and he dropped me at my hotel. The fact that I was foreign was part of that, but they have sharing built in to thair lives.

  10. Speaking of sharing, if a State school and a sporting club enter into an agreement to share the school infrastructure ( oval, amenities, car park….) for a fee, to whom is the fee payed ?
    The education dept, the P&C, to the individual school to determine how it’s spent/invested ?

  11. It would go to the school to add to the school maintenance budget costs for which would bs higher due to the added wear and tear (grass maintenance, trash and cigarette but pickup, seat and railings, etc). It woul be treated the same as community access to assembly halls, etc. Common sense would prevail.

    There would be no conspiracy (heads up for any libertarians out there)

  12. Brian, I’ve never had a problem with sleep. I’ve even notoriously fallen asleep during a conversation, …when I was talking. Falling asleep during sex never has a good outcome. Done that too. On the other hand I’ve found that forcably staying awake leads to spontaneous and prolonged erections, a wife who can organise herself to take advantage of that is going to be a happy wife. So there are pros and cons.

    Overall I am sleep deprived, but by choice. In NZ I had an agressively demanding customer which meant that my workday was typically 2am to 5pm. After years of that I got used to it. But apart from the physical damage to your body the real beneficial side effecf is that you actually live longer. Live longer in the sense of being conscious to achieve more, if you are a creative person, that is.

  13. BilB, the one thing the experts agree on is that we are all different in terms of daily rhythms and body chemistry. GPs sometimes try to squeeze you into a mould.

    It’s also a matter of optimising what you can achieve rather than perfect outcomes.

    Taking pills is also not desirable, but better than going mad.

  14. There would be no conspiracy (heads up for any libertarians out there)

    Haha, no, just wondering why it doesn’t happen more.
    Or in my area, at all.
    The unnecessary duplication seem a huge waste.
    I was thinking more like a partnership type lease between a new school and, say for example, a junior soccer club.
    In the planning stages before construction.

    ( ps. there’s no smoking on school property, that’s regulated against and therefore never happens )

  15. Brian.
    My old Dad, that has never really been a brilliant sleeper anyway, had a terrible time once with almost total insomnia and crazy vivid dreams when he did nap.
    Turned out to be his blood pressure tablets had changed.

    He’s good now.

  16. I’ve just had a 100 year old man in my factory. The founder of the business that makes our small components. This man made components for Holden’s carbureters, Mosquitor planes, Canberra Bombers, and so much more. He worked reguoarly till he was 97.

    A great honour for us. So much history in one, now very frail, human being, yet with such a sharp mind.

  17. Jumpy, I had to change away from my statins a few years ago, because I was getting vertigo. All good now.

    Decades ago I used to take two antihistamines on a month about basis to promote sleep. They stopped making one, and the other, polaramine, turned out to be giving me horrible dreams. I dream quite a lot now, and usually pleasantly.

    I take five different pills on a regular basis, and my cardio says he would be most reluctant to introduce any new ones. Some of the ones I’ve got are definitely problematic, and I think there is room to try things differently, so we’ll see what we see.

  18. BilB, I’ve seen over twenty of the people I’ve done gardening for out the door, as it were. Those who have quality of life to the end are truly blessed.

  19. Speaking on gardening.
    As I sit on my back patio on a beautiful Sunday arvo, overlooking my veggie garden, with a beer in my hand and a really good work project ( that I’ve put in a lot of work to get ) starting tomorrow.
    Add to that my ” financially challenged “1st Son finally got back in the black on Friday, himself, through discipline and sacrifice.
    Son 2 is back in Australia and loving his engineering prac.
    And Son 3 and I have ” reconnected ” after a period of, sort of, lost ” mateship ” so to speak.

    A deep breath, a long sigh and a smile.

  20. BilB, I have a few stories, but mostly you wouldn’t want to hear them. I’ve only got two oldies left, one 86 and in rude good health. The oldest person I’ve worked for was 98.

    On one occasion I helped an oldie from the verandah into the kitchen and she told me she would rather die than go back to hospital with her sore leg. Seems that night she did.

    Last year one old bloke told me he was volunteering in the Wesley Hospital, pushing an old lady around in a wheel chair who was telling him how well she’d done reaching the age of 82. Little did she realise that he was 85!

    He was a neighbour of some people I worked for and has since ‘retired’ to northern NSW.

    Jumpy they say a dad can’t be happy unless his kids are settled and OK. You are very fortunate. No doubt it’s true of mums too.

  21. Backtracking to the “shared economy” I’m still convinced it pollie shite.
    I reckon it is re-badged disruptive technology.
    Think how Kodak was killed by the digital camera. Look what email has done to Aust. Post. Now Uber is serving it up to the taxi industry.
    And we are going to see new electrical storage technology that when applied to the home, business and transport sectors will change our energy paradigms in extraordinary ways.
    Exciting stuff, and I hope it is not hijacked by waffle politics…

  22. My modem issue with Telstra is still unresolved, so I might disappear from the interwebs without notice for a while.

  23. Brian…I have had massive success with Telstra by telling the robot ” Disconnect” repeatedly. Telstra has an office dedicated to retaining clients. Based in Adelaide the staff are well trained and quite motivated. And their English comprehension is perfect. To cap it off, they have wide discretionary powers and can resolve issues very quickly. Give it a shot. Insist on ” disconnect” even if the robot feigns no understanding.

  24. Geoff, I once got similar service when I said I wanted to make a complaint. In this case they have “escalated” the issue and will ‘register’ the modem from their end. When it is connected, this old one working on wi-fi will be turned off. They’ll also send me an SMS.

    I don’t know when this is going to happen, but they say within two days.

  25. Sharing economies started quite early on. For example, Chimpanzees have two types of sharing:
    Calculated – the decision to share is determined on what the other chimp has done for the chimp who has something to share.
    Special buddy: There is a lot less calculation when the sharing is between special friends.
    As society developed things like trade were used to facilitate the sharing, particularly between people who had no obligation to share.
    Then money facilitated sharing even more by getting around the problem who wanted a loaf of bread but only had a cow to trade.
    What we are calling a sharing economy is simply yet another attempt to live with eac of us owning less things. Sounds like a good idea to me.

  26. Well well,

    The Pew Research Center reported last week that the murder rate was cut nearly in half from 7 per 100,000 in 1993 to 3.6 per 100,000 in 2013. Over the same period, overall gun deaths (including accidents and suicides) have fallen by one-third from 15.2 to 10.6 per 100,000.


    Meanwhile, the number of privately owned guns (and gun commerce in general) in the United States has increased substantially in recent decades.

    But, hang on, that’s unposible….

  27. Jumpy,

    For starters the US population increased 20% 1995 to 2015, so the total gun deaths per year have been on a steady rise since 1995, even though the rate per 100,000 has declined.

    As to gun sales Ron Paul gives the answer. Gun sales in the US have increased, but the guns are being smuggled into Mexico. All is not as it seems to the Libertarian mind.

    No one can take comfort from these figures

    10,000 deaths and 23,000injuries. That one whole electorate per year.

  28. Face it BilB, Obama has been the best gun salesman in US history and has saved lives.
    Who’da thunk it.

  29. For starters the US population increased 20% 1995 to 2015, so the total gun deaths per year have been on a steady rise since 1995, even though the rate per 100,000 has declined.

    That’s like saying the birth rate has increased by 20% but cot death per 100,000 being lower isn’t a good thing.
    Just silly.

  30. Of course fewer deaths is a good think, but Ron Paul was attempting to make that seem as though it was despite many more guns. Paul then shoots his argument in the foot by introducing Mexico’s new gun moratorium and in the so doing shows that ghe increase in us gun sales is actually Mexicans and other South American countries buying guns in the US for smuggled export, making Ron Paul yet another gun argument casualty.

Comments are closed.