Saturday salon 6/2

1. Looking forward to a good year for the economy

There’s been a fair bit of economic gloom lately, not shared by respected economics commentator Ross Gittins. When he got his knees back under his desk (look for the January 29 entry) he declared our economic prospects to be in pretty good shape. He reckons if you think you can learn anything from the nightly news, you’re a fool. Media organisations look for new ways of making us feel bad.

The share market has been skittish, with the worst start to the year since records were kept. Now it’s down about 6%. Not to worry, says Gittins, sharemarkets always go up and down. His big point is that we make 80% of our bucks by buying and selling to each other and that part of it seems to be going well.

Now the Reserve Bank “has delivered a cautiously upbeat report card on the Australian economy in the face of global financial turmoil.”

2. Adani no closer to a Carmichael start

Three days ago the Queensland Government gave Adani environmental approval for the Carmichael mine. However, no mining lease has been granted because of two matters held up in the courts.

Now Adani has briefed Axis Capital that there will be no further investment until there is a visible revival in global coal prices, which may be never. Adani itself has recently announced solar projects worth US$16b.


    Adani must show “financial closure” on its project before the Queensland government will allow dredging of Great Barrier Reef waters to expand its Abbot Point port.

Back in 2013 GlencoreXstrata parked the giant Wandoan coal project. It looks as though Carmichael will go the same way.

3. Turnbull loses his appetite for the GST

Last year Turnbull was talking up the GST. Now he seems to have changed his mind.

It’s just too much trouble, it seems.

Two days ago, facing an internal revolt, Turbnbull told worried backbenchers that any tax reforms won’t threaten their seats.

That should also rule out changes to negative gearing. The Property Council has provided the relevant information:

    The Coalition’s 10 most marginal seats are held by an average of 809 voters. Each has an average of 8181 negatively geared voters.

    Labor’s 10 most marginal seats have an average 8357 negatively geared voters and are each held by an average 1161 votes. In all, there are 430,000 negatively geared voters in the 10 most marginal Coalition and Labor seats.

Negative gearing “costs” the budget about $12 billion a year in foregone revenue.

John Quiggin has an excellent post on the GST. It does look like too much trouble.

4. ‘Gene editing’ of human embryos approved for research in UK

‘Gene editing’ of human embryos has been approved for research in UK.

    The results of the project – which will look at the first 7 days of a fertilized egg’s development (from a single cell up to 250 cells) – could give new insights into why miscarriages happen and improve understanding of in vitro fertilization (IVF) success rates.

Gene editing as a technique has implications that go far beyond what is currently being attempted. The SMH has a longer article explaining the technique.

I’m not competent to assess the information. The essential feature is that the gene changes are passed on to future generations. The potential is there to stop genetic diseases from being inherited, also to choose ‘desirable’ features that would be passed on.

Apparently the technique is not accurate enough to be used medically.

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.

7 thoughts on “Saturday salon 6/2”

  1. Geoff
    Perhaps some of those geniuses could get together and come up with a better road making material or method. One that doesn’t disintegrate every time it rains.
    Or do they have it but only use it in the Cities ?

  2. Jumpy, I think they have it but it’s too expensive to use everywhere. The road from Toowoomba to Dalby was completely destroyed in the floods of 2011. Due to the generosity of Gillard/Swan it has been replaced by an impressive new road that looks like it will do the job.

  3. Abbott/Hockey would have left it destroyed ?
    Every politician is generous with OPM, they can never get enough of the stuff, ever.

    But I’m talking about regular rain not flood rain.

  4. We don’t know what Abbott /Hockey would have done, but we know that Gillard/Swan gave enough to make a decent all-weather road, or so it seems to me, on the deep black soil of the Darling Downs. The main point I’m making is that you can build a decent road if you have enough money.

  5. My son Mark arrived here to stay yesterday for about a week, interrupting my time at the keyboard!

    Not sure you can see this unless you are on Facebook, but here he is on our back deck. Our slice of heaven in the Mt Coot-tha foothills, seven km as the crow flies from the GPO.

    Hope to finish a post on the Transpacific Partnership trade deal tonight, then get back to climate stuff.

  6. Jumpy: Why not ask any old Main Roads Dept. navvy? They know.

    Just about every road in Australia is built on the cheap – forget stable foundations, forget effective drainage, just whack some black cake-icing over a bit of rolled roadbase – and everyone’s happy – until the next shower of rain or an overloaded B-double comes along..

    Yeah, I know. It’s the tyranny of distance – as well as the tyranny of making a quick buck.

    Can you imaging the unholy screams there would be if somebody did build a durable road capable of handling the heaviest loads in all weathers? Oh, the shocking cost! You get what you pay for. Pay cheap and you get cheap.

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