Saturday salon 20/2

1. Morrison muffs his lines and Turnbull in trouble

Laura Tingle talking to Phillip Adams gave Scott Morrison 3 out of 10 for his speech to the National Press Club. We were promised vision and leadership when they turfed out Tony, now it looks like tinkering at the edges.

Teflon Turnbull had a bad week.It started with a Fairfax-Ipsos poll showing the margins narrowing to 52-48, less than the 2013 election, with the LNP set to lose 10 seats, making a snap double dissolution election more likely.

Morrison looked in a muddle, obsessed by bracket creep and reigning in spending, so by the end of the week Turnbull decided to go completely negative on Labor’s negative gearing plans, saying the value of the family home would be “smashed”. He was outdoing Tony Abbott.

Meanwhile Lenore Taylor explains the four things we learnt from Scott Morrison:

    1. The Coalition’s personal income tax cuts will be modest

    2. The states are facing the ‘fiscal cliff’ on hospital and schools funding on their own

    3. The problem the Coalition once said was urgent and called a ‘debt and deficit disaster’ will take a very, very long time to fix

    4. All of which means the next election is shaping up as a choice between income tax cuts and services.

Commentators are starting to run out of patience. Michelle Grattan on Friday Scott Morrison struggles to stay afloat as he treads water on tax says:

    Turnbull is relying on his popularity and style to help him through this policy-free period.

Michael Gordon asks whether the real Malcolm is agile or fragile and reminds him that political capital will disappear if not wisely spent. Waleed Aly tells Turnbull to stop dithering.

Shock horror, this week could be a turning point!

2. Zika under question

    Evidence of a direct link between Zika and birth abnormalities is yet to be proven and health researchers are questioning whether the number of cases of babies born with microcephaly has been overstated.

Microcephaly cases are hard to quantify, with different standards for head circumference used around the world.

The incidence of microcephaly:

    rose from an average of 160 per year to 3,000 in 2015. But of the 1,200 cases examined by Brazil’s Ministry of Health, only 38 per cent have turned out to be microcephaly and the Zika virus was only present in one in ten of the affected babies.

There are suspicions that a toxic larvicide introduced into Brazil’s water supplies to kill off mosquito larvae may be the real culprit.

However, the WHO still think the link with Zika is strong and Zika should be held guilty until proven innocent. They reckon they’ll know fairly soon.

There may be separate problems with Brazil’s water supply.

3. Will Wi-Fi fry your brain?

Probably not, according to eminent health professionals, who question whether the ABC Catalyst program suggesting that Wi-Fi networks and mobile phone use may be associated with brain cancer should ever have gone to air.

4. Sydney or the bush

Not quite. Melbourne is also doing well. Both cities grew by about 3% last financial year. The rest of us are marking time or going backwards:

    The Perth economy has been hit especially hard in the aftermath of the mining boom. Its growth rate slumped to just 0.3 per cent in 2014-15, the lowest mark since the recession of 1991. Brisbane’s growth rate was 0.9 per cent in the year, the third lowest on record. GDP per capita fell in regional NSW, regional Victoria, all of Queensland, regional South Australia and Perth in the last financial year.

In Sydney:

    The financial services sector was Sydney’s strongest performing industry followed by media and telecommunications, construction, retail and real estate services.

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.

12 thoughts on “Saturday salon 20/2”

  1. Ah yes, the dreaded Two Speed Economy that ” journalists and commentators ” were in such fear of is over.
    All of that hand wringing and lament at the inequity of it all, forgotten.
    Reverting back to their preferred model of TSE, being Australian S/E Corner V The rest.

    I wonder where they live………

  2. There has been a whole string of Bahnisch clan meetings this week, with my sister and brother-in-law in town from Toronto possibly for the last time ever. There are five siblings in our family. We are all still here, as are our partners, which is remarkable and a blessing, with ages ranging from 67 to nudging 81.

    Any way we’ve had a lovely week, but Saturday Salon will be a day late, and I’m a bit flat-footed about what’s going to appear next week.

    Tomorrow for my sins I have to work in near intolerable heat, so we’ll see what happens if I survive!

  3. Brian: That is good news. I do feel very sorry for those individuals who have been taught to scorn all familial and clan and tribal connections – how unnatural.

    Even if some of you never meet face-to-face again, the memories and the stories linger on for generations so it is definitely well worth it. Don’t worry if you wish you had done this or that when you were together and had the chance, that would show that your are just plain human after all.

    Cheers 🙂

  4. Jumpy, we met mostly at my younger brother’s place. They have aircon and an extension table inside that seats 10 beautifully. They have a roof full of solar panels, from which they make money selling power to the grid.

    Talking in such a setting, where everyone around the table can hear everyone else, and there was usually only one conversation going on, was magic compared to the noisy dining room on the riverboat, where you can’t hear yourself think, and people sitting two away from you might as well be on another table!

    Outside they have an easterly facing open deck overhung by a bougainvillea with no neighbours in earshot. A bit of magic in the ‘burbs on late summer afternoons and evenings.

  5. Just joshin Brian, jeez !
    I’m sure they got there on solar powered aeroplanes and wind powered cars made of bamboo and hemp by Australians on triple time .

    ( again, just joking, a gag. )

  6. Graham, thanks for your thoughtful comments.

    As a kind of analogy, some of us (7 out of 10) do or have done a bit of singing and one of our number compiled a booklet of about a dozen songs. We have soprano, alto and bass covered, and one of my brothers can make out as a tenor if pushed. Anyway we did a bit of singing in harmony together on the boat in one of the rooms, and in my sister’s room at the Hilton in Budapest.

    Yesterday we had a singing session, a bit scratchy on the way through most songs, but it was amazing how the last note always sounded good, in perfect harmony.

    The week may turn out to be a last note, which lives on in the memory while we are here and remembered fondly, appreciating and accepting the experience for what it was. The next generation were there at times during the week, and the generation after that. There will be photos.

    Yesterday it was just the 10 oldies, siblings and partners. On the European trip there were only 8 of us. The 10 have probably only been all together once before, and that was back in 2000, when there were also lots of others there as well.

    So in some ways it was a first! Anyway it was good!

  7. Jumpy, I know you were just joking, but I wanted to point out that you can have excellent comfort and be environmentally responsible at the same time.

    To be serious about it, I’ve always believed we can have expanded GDP and save the planet.

  8. I don’t know how Brian.
    You are probably the most carbonphobic person I’ve come across and your still reliant on fossil fuels and carbon releasing manufactured things.
    I don’t think it can be done any time soon.

    Look around yourself right now.
    How many carbon neutral produced thing can you see ?
    How many petroleum based things ?

    We can’t stop whatever is happening coz we don’t want to.

  9. Jumpy. you are right, we don’t want decarbonisation enough. I like to think I’m a realist, which to most makes me a pessimist.

    Many millions of people live just above sea level around Shanghai. Similarly Florida, the Gulph of Mexico, and the coast from North Carolina up to New York are very vulnerable. Sooner or later they’ll wake up in fright.

  10. Well, if sportsbet had a book on ” next cause of over 2 billion human deaths ” I recon Pandemic would be the shortest odds.
    Bill Gates ( I consider a realist ) recons that’ll happen in his lifetime.

    Of course thats what Virologists think too.
    Vulcanologist say a volcanic winter.
    Climatologists say co2.
    Even Astrogeologists recon an asteroid is a huge threat.

    Each say massive funding is imperative to monitor and for technological advancements to avoid or reduce harm.

    I dunno, maybe being bombarded with doom every day has desensitised me to the point of laughing in the face of it.

    I honestly can not see any chance of some Goldilocks atmospheric co2 level being achieved while the population keeps growing.

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