Saturday salon 30/1

1. Mitchell Pearce messes up – again

We really didn’t need to see what Mitchell Pearce did with a dog on a couch. But we did, on the evening news, and it wasn’t pretty.

Peter FitzSimons raises some pertinent questions.

FitzSimons says that simulating sex with a dog, urinating on a couch as well as on himself, and making a drunken play for the young woman in her own lounge room is, call it what you like, but not a crime. Seems he was invited in and ultimately left when told to go. It shouldn’t end Pearce’s career, says FitzSimons. He raises the question as to who sold the footage.

    In a private home, Pearce, on his day off, was filmed without his consent, and his own right to privacy was clearly breached in return for commercial gain.

He says media outlets should not have paid for it.

Pearce clearly has an alcohol problem, has apologised and asked for a chance to address his problem. Which in truth should have already been done after an incident two years ago.

People are talking about a fine of up to $50,000, being sacked as captain of the Roosters, suspension from the club’s trip to England for the World Club series and a ban for at least six weeks of the season.

Whatever the Sydney Roosters do will be reviewed by Karyn Murphy of the NRL Integrity Unit, a former captain of the Jillaroos rugby league team and one of country’s top female police officers with 25 years experience on the Queensland force.

Meanwhile Catherine Lumby has suggested she might resign as the NRL’s adviser on women’s issues if Pearce’s career is not terminated.

I’d call a halt right there. Lumby should respect due process. Beyond that the critical issue, I think, is how to balance punishment and rehabilitation.

Mark Geyer probably had it right (scroll down). A year away in another job away from football with counselling and rehab to appreciate what he’s got.

2. Australian alcohol industry relies on heavy drinkers for profits

More than 3.8 million Australians, that is 20% of Australians aged 14 and above, average more than four standard drinks of alcohol a day, twice the recommended health guidelines. These drinkers account for about 75% of alcohol sales.

A mere 10% of the customer base drives between 40 to 70% of sales yielding 50% plus of profit. The industry will continue to promote the culture that keeps its profits fat.

3 Federer fades

I’ve been watching quite a bit of tennis this month and believe I’ve probably never seen better than Novak Djokovic played in the first two sets during his 6-1, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 semi-final win over Roger Federer. As he said post-match, “I executed perfect”.

Believe me, Federer played well. It’s just that almost everything Djokovic hit was just in and a lot of what Federer hit was just out.

In the third set and half of the fourth Federer made a game of it. But at 4-3 with Federer serving and the score 30-30, Federer is at the net. Djokovic’s ball clips the net, flighs over Federer’s racquet and lands just inside the baseline. It is typical of Federer’s night. The next point is a stuff-up for Federer and suddenly Djokovic is serving for the match. Four strong serves and it’s all over.

It’s a marvel, though, that Federer is still running around out there. At 34 he’s only six months younger than Lleyton Hewitt and is nearly six years older than Djokovic. In the modern era it’s rare for anyone to win grand slams when over 30. Most are won by people between the ages of 24 and 28. Rafael Nadal is now 29 and seems past it. Djokovic and Andy Murray are 28 and are both healthy.

Federer dominated when he was aged 23 to 26, winning 11 of 12 apart from the French.

I think Federer, Djokovic and Nadal are among the best ever, but Federer’s prime doesn’t overlap much with the others. Murray is quite competitive with Djokovic when they play in finals, but with Djokovic’s form you’d have to think he will go on and win his 11th slam on Sunday and eventually challenge Federer’s record of 17 because there are no younger players of a similar class coming up behind.

4. Abbott stays

Terry Barnes says that Abbott staying is a good thing because it “sends a message to conservatives that the pews to the Right of Turnbull won’t be chopped up and turned into firewood.”

James Massola says it presents a potential nightmare scenario for Malcolm Turnbull.

Laura Tingle says Abbott is really good at making trouble. That’s his thing and no-one else is going to pay him to do that.

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.

22 thoughts on “Saturday salon 30/1”

  1. From no.2 link.

    Beer is the most profitable sector of Australia’s alcohol manufacturing industry, generating $680m in annual profits, IBIS World industry report data for 2015 shows.

    From the PBO.

    Excise and customs duty receipts on alcoholic beverages were $5.2 billion in 2014–15, which represented 1.38 per cent of total Australian Government receipts. Beer contributed the most, with $2.3 billion raised, spirits raised $2.0 billion and ‘other alcoholic beverages’ (which primarily includes ready-to-drink beverages, or RTDs) raised $0.9 billion.

    Hey Beer drinkers, the evil companies love you, but not as much as the ATO.

    ( note; Australian evil beer manufactures, pubs, retailers and transporters also pay tax on their profit as well as payroll tax. GST is also applied )

  2. People are talking about a fine of up to $50,000, being sacked as captain of the Roosters, suspension from the club’s trip to England for the World Club series and a ban for at least six weeks of the season.

    Ask yourself what would have happened if you had behaved in private like Pearce did?
    For most of us there may have been a charge and a fine but probably not given that Pearce left when he was asked to.
    Some of us may have lost our jobs or been demoted if we held senior positions where our bad behavior damaged our employers reputation.
    However, our employer would not have had the right to fine us $50,000. (Most employers do have the right to suspend or dismiss in some circumstances.)
    It is about time that the power of sporting bodies to fine be challenged.

  3. You are correct John.
    If I tried to sack one of my boys for the same, the FWC would fine me.
    He’s a dickhead, no doubt, but if I could dole out $50k fines for that, I’d be a millionaire.

    Another reason I haven’t ever ” face booked “, that stuff is none of my business, literally.

  4. Lets face it, sporting franchises want to project a family-friendly image, and so they should. Apart from that mums are involved in decision-making about how money is spent on tickets and buying all the clobber they sell. Also whether their boys play and what company they keep.

    Pearce was co-captain and in a leadership role. I believe players were at a team outing and were told to go home. Pearce didn’t and he took two young recruits from the Broncos, Jayden Nikorima and Dale Copley, with him. There’s two mums in Brisbane worrying about what their young blokes are up to in Sydney.

    $50K and suspensions seems about what’s needed to concentrate the mind for these boofheads.

    Pearce’s mum has now taken him overseas to a rehab clinic.

  5. Brian: Think about it. What would you have to do to cop a $50k fine? And who do you think should be allowed to make the decision.
    Jumpy: You and I would both be millionaires if we had the power to level $50,000 fines.

  6. Hey John, I have thought about it!

    Sport has established norms in their field of operation which seem to work, more or less. If anyone challenges sporting bodies on this and wins, then so be it, but I doubt they will.

    When some of the Broncos got pinged $50K for photos taken over lavatory walls and stuff I thought that it was a helluva lot, but they all paid up and as far as we know are now all behaving.

  7. As to who makes the decision, I’m sure it’s in their contracts. I can’t imagine a politician proposing a law preventing such clauses.

  8. umpy: You and I would both be millionaires if we had the power to level $50,000 fines.

    Hate to be a wet blanket, but that would be true only if your targets had the means to pay the fines 🙂

  9. Hate to be a wet blanket, but that would be true only if your targets had the means to pay the fines 🙂

    There’s always garnisheeing future income till it’s payed 🙂

    Seriously though, it’s a contractual thing obviously. Every contract I undertake has a liquidated damages clause in it that I either agree with and sign or walk away.
    I’m guessing NRL players are seen as contractors rather than employees.
    One reason the CFMEU/ALP fight so hard against employment contracts is so regular businesses can’t hold their staff accountable for ” bringing into disrepute ” or ” tarnishing a brand “.

    Pearse will cop it all because he doesn’t have a militant union to blackmail him out of it.

    Given channel 9s apparent hiring practices, he’ll be behind a microphone pontificating on the game before too long anyway.

  10. Pearse will cop it all because he doesn’t have a militant union to blackmail him out of it.

    That could read: “Pearce will cop it because he doesn’t have a union competent enough to protect his interests.”

    There is a players association, but I haven’t heard them say anything yet.

  11. Brian I was going to mention re your piece on tennis players that when you said “people over 30” don’t usually win much now, you only talked about about men! I was going to point out that Serena has won 7 major tournaments since she was 30.

    Then I found out she just got beaten, so it took the wind out of my sails a bit! I’m away and couldn’t watch the match (well not without spending a fortune on data) but I wish I’d seen it.

    I used to be an absolute tennis tragic – getting a little bit better these days 🙂

  12. Val, I used to be a huge Martina fan and Steffi too. Serena is awesome.

    The truth is, though, that playing the best-of-three rather than the best-of-five makes a huge difference. We don’t know how Serena would have fared if it had been the best-of-five. Most of those other women are incredibly athletic.

    For Federer winning seven best-of-five matches in a row is just too much, and the way the draw works if you are ranked 3 or 4 you probably have to beat one in the top 10 followed by both numbers 1 and 2.

    In the modern era, Federer has won once over 30, but other than that I think it is Wawrinka once, Sampras once and Agassi twice. If you go back Ken Rosewall won four, three when he was over 35. Rod Laver won four. Both were exceptional players, but back then three of the four Slams were played on grass, so it’s hard to compare.

  13. Yes I hadn’t thought about the effect of best of three versus five.

    I also wonder with the earlier players, they played a game more of skill than power compared to today’s players I think, so I guess that made it possible to go on a bit longer. Still you have to be very quick on grass so that’s interesting.

    It’s interesting how players can go on playing in doubles much longer than in singles also. Obviously you don’t have to run as much or take all the play, but you need very quick reflexes, so that’s interesting too. Maybe the quick reflexes aren’t associated with youth quite so much?

    As I said I can’t watch at present, but I would have liked to watch Martina Hingis in doubles. I always loved watching her, she just seemed like pure natural talent combined with an absolute absence of fear – hit any shot from anywhere, and it would usually work. She couldn’t compete with the power of Serena though.

  14. Val, Serena was hitting twice as many winners as Kerber, but nearly four times the unforced errors. At one point they flashed up how far both players had run during the tournament. It was too quick, but I think Kerber ran more than twice as far as Williams.

    So you really don’t know how all that would work out over best of five.

    Hingis had the Williams sisters, Pam Shriver and another American heavy hitter, forgotten her name, to deal with. To win a Slam she’s probably have to beat three of them in a row. It was just too much!

  15. Brian: I used to get sick of the “They are only contractors” particularly when I was the contractor they were treating as a second rate citizen. So perhaps you can understand why I don’t think it is OK to fine Pearce $50k because “he is only a contractor” who has to accept unfair contracts the NRL holds a monopoly on rugby league in Aus.
    One of the reasons the unions fought work choices so strongly was that they saw Workchoices as a trick that was going to turn us all into “only contractors” without much bargaining power.

  16. John, I understand all that but the NRL is effectively part of the entertainment industry and different norms apply.

    Personally I’m not sure what the proper course should be and I’d like the players association to be taking a stance. I raised it as a question of the proper balance between punishment and rehabilitation. I lean towards rehabilitation.

  17. Because Pearce is “only a footballer” you say that it is OK for him to be owned 24/7, fined $50k for something that happened in private, his earnings limited by the rugby league monopoly holder etc., etc. Sounds like work choices on steroids to me.

  18. John, I’m not personally saying it’s OK. I’m saying it has become a social norm. People expect and accept a strong penalty.

    Pearce didn’t have to become a footballer. He probably would make more over a lifetime as a plumber.

    I am saying that the circumstances are not similar to a normal workplace. As to whether what’s happening there is OK or not I’d like to hear from labour market experts and cultural theorists before making up my mind.

    I think the real dog act was the person who sold the film.

  19. The other obvious question is whether part of Pearce’s problem is poor OH&S practices in the NRL, particularity in the area of head injuries?
    Then there is the question of appropriate fines for the person who sold the video, the TV station managers who decided to run it and the drug pushers who produced and sold the alcohol that caused the bad behavior in the full knowledge of how dangerous alcohol taking can be?

  20. I think there’s a case for a law against people being able to make money out of selling images of you without your permission, at least when you are not in a public space.

    On OH&S practices, the finger points at the Roosters, they should have been keeping a better eye on him. Captains are meant to show leadership off the field as well as on in the club context.

    John, you used the phrase “only a footballer” as though you were quoting me. I didn’t use the phrase and don’t own it. “Only a footballer” is the one running around in the second tier competitions. Anyone in the NRL is an elite sportsperson, and as a state representative and club captain Pearce was amongst the elite of the elite.

    As to “only a contractor” these guys have player managers who negotiate on their behalf, which is more than the ordinary worker can expect.

  21. I agree with John and Jumpy that the power to fine an employee (or contractor) is more than a bit off. Suspension without pay would be more appropriate.
    I wonder whether it’s part of the contract these guys sign, and if it is, what is the employer’s justification?
    I’d also be interested to know where the money goes. Presumably it ends up in general revenue, but surely it should be earmarked for uses aimed at eliminating the unwanted behaviours (education, rehab etc etc).

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