1. Garbage out, garbage in
Stuart Robert had to go. Ben Eltham goes through the detail and finds his defence “is somewhere between threadbare and farcical.” So Malcolm told him to resign, and he did.
So with Mal Brough and Jamie Briggs in the naughty corner, plus Warren Truss and Andrew Robb giving the game away, we now have five vacancies.
Time for a ministry makeover. Steve Ciobo is tipped for trade. I’ve heard him on local radio. If you want someone with verbal diarrhoea, glib and not afraid to lie, he’s your man!
2. Is he nuts or is he a genius?
That’s the question Lucy Barbour says we must ask about Barnaby Joyce, as he replaces Warren Truss as leader of the Nationals unopposed. Not a genius, I think. To me he looks a bit drunk even when he’s sober.
His deputy will be Fiona Nash, who two years ago was mired in scandal:
- It had been revealed that her chief-of-staff, Alastair Furnival, was co-owner of a company lobbying for soft drink and confectionary companies when she had intervened in pulling down a new health star-rating website at the time she was assistant minister for health.
Strictly speaking she misled parliament and that should have been the end for her. Nevertheless I find myself preferring her to Barnaby Joyce, although that doesn’t say much.
3. More weirdness
The record of the week would not be complete without mentioning that Philip Rudd, no longer a minister, is resigning to become our human rights special envoy. And Greg Hunt was named the “best minister in the world” by some outfit meeting in Dubai.
Clearly, in politics anything is possible!
4. Bear market bites investors
Th Australian sharemarket finished the week at 4816, down about 10% for the year, and around 20% down from its highs of last year. Analysts say that qualifies it as a ‘bear’ market.
Inexperienced investors typically buy during a bull market, sell with the bears and then retreat to lick their wounds.
More of us are involved now courtesy of our superannuation accounts.
The latest worry is that resource companies defaulting on their loans will endanger big banks.
Reserve Bank chief Glenn Stevens says investors have “dropped their bundles” and he doesn’t know where it will all end. It seems as though the sheep have all run to one side of the paddock.
But for every seller there is a buyer. Some are seeing opportunities.
Christopher Joye in the AFR looks retrospectively at where you should have put your money. In short, diversification, and not all in shares. He thinks the Commonwealth Bank is still too expensive, but
- total exposure to mining, oil and gas is just $18.9 billion, or 1.8 per cent of its committed exposures, and only 1.9 per cent of the value of these loans are impaired.
I saw an article where a resources hedge fund made 19% in January. Someone somewhere is always making a packet!
5. Gravitational waves sighted
Einstein told us they must be there, but doubted we’d ever see them, they are so weak. We are told that both arms of the L-shaped detector changed “by only 2 billionths of a billionth of a meter, about 400 times smaller than the radius of a proton.”
Gravitational waves are ripples in the fabric of space/time, in this case caused by the collision of two large black holes 1.3 billion years ago.
Scientists are very excited about it. My sense is that Prof Karsten Danzmann, from the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Germany, has it about right:
- He said the detection was one of the most important developments in science since the discovery of the Higgs particle, and on a par with the determination of the structure of DNA.
There’s more at The Scientific American.
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.