Saturday salon 2/4

1. Australia 60th in the world in internet speeds

When Malcolm Turnbull took over responsibility for the NBN Australia ranked 30th in the world in internet speeds. Now it ranks 60th. Thanks Mr Turnbull!

Apparently Wyatt Roy got a rollicking over the issue on Q&A the other night, trying to defend the indefensible.

What would Labor do?

Jason Clare said last October that Labor would go back to fibre to the premises. This link extracts the official policy statement.

Essentially there would be two phases. In some locations fibre to the node would already be locked in, but rollouts planned after that would move to using more FTTP.

2. Why Trump?

Trump has been completely off his face this week. We won’t go there, its beyond the pale.

Pippa Norris says it’s not just Trump. Authoritarian populism is rising across the West. She says we’re seeing a deep and strong cultural backlash against changes in social values.

    [Far right] parties steal votes mainly from the center right. Populist appeals also draw support from certain characteristics associated with the center left, especially by appealing predominately to men, the less educated, and the economically marginalized.

This Bloomberg article looks at two factory workers, a couple, in the US who used to both earn $16.10 an hour. In 1994 the US signed the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico. Their jobs have gone to Mexico, where workers are paid around $1.75 an hour.

The US couple have found new jobs. He fills orders at a local farm supply store, she works in the high school cafeteria, for a lot less than they used to get.

Trump says he’ll fix it. He won’t of course.

Thomas Frank also looked at hours of Trump speeches. Beyond the bigotry and racism, he says Trump talks a lot about trade – free trade and its effects, keying into deindustrialisation and despair.

3. American elections are bottom of the class

Pippa Norris again, who appears to work between Harvard and Sydney University. She reports on US elections through the eyes of The Electoral Integrity Project. They’ve looked at elections in 139 countries from 2012 to 2015. Forty experts were asked to assess each election by answering 49 questions to derive a mark out of 100. Here’s how the US stacked up against economically comparable democracies:


The US sees itself as an exemplar of democracy. In fact its system is badly broken. The article gives some reasons. The full report would give more.

Australia could do better.

4. Changes

After thinking about it for 35 years we are going to have a new kitchen. Ours is a beast with four doors, hardly any bench space, and constricted internal traffic. There was an alcove built when we had the deck put on in 2002, but it was never lined and finished.

The asbestos has already gone, nixing some small wall cupboards. On Monday the old kitchen is destroyed – we won’t even have water. Then the floor is sanded, followed by the installation of the new kitchen, followed by painting the floor and leaving it to dry. All that is going to take about three weeks.

My dearly beloved is organising it all. After a life of as kindy and preschool teacher, organising a bunch of tradies is a cinch!

I expect it will cut into my internet time. And yes, son Mark is coming to stay for a week.

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.

17 thoughts on “Saturday salon 2/4”

  1. It seems to me that the NBN was always going to be a circus no matter who the ring master was. And there was always going to be critics – some fair, others who just earn their living highlighting fault and fomenting dissatisfaction.
    Sure the internet is lame in many areas but it is not as if the Turnbull government started with a blank NBN canvas, even given his stint as comms minister.

    Trump won’t get elected…will he? That’s the worry. Even if he gets to be the Republican nominee though, the US will suffer enormous damage to its already shaky international image.
    The US role in the unraveling oil scandal will doubtless dial in more anti-US factors. The world is getting messier.

    Brian – your kitchen: good luck. Be prepared for a few nights out but hopefully it will all be great when done. New appliances? We took out the extended warranties, have done so for years. We are ahead of the premiums but still feel we should not have to pay extra to get a reasonable service life.

  2. Geoff, re the internet, I know it’s complex, and our sub-optimal decisions on communications infrastructure go back a long way. Getting it right now is important for how the economy is going to change. Turnbull’s instructions from Abbott were to destroy the NBN. He deserves credit for saving it, but not much else.

    Re the kitchen, only a new stove. Our fridge will go to the dining room which opens to the deck, where there’s a barbecue. We have masses of takeaways in the area, so we’ll be OK. Washing up will be a pain.

  3. Just check the tradies on QBCC and Master Builders websites if you don’t know them. QBCC number should be on the quote.
    No need to be without water for toilet or laundry, they can just cap it at the kitchen. Any lingering fumes from the floor paint ( clear acrylic or two pack ? ) use the old trick of a shallow pan of water and sliced onions, it really does work.

  4. Oh, and don’t let them talk you into ridiculously overpriced low VOC options trying to appeal to your Eco side, it’s a scam.
    You get more VOCs from a compost heap in a few day than from a floor cleared once a decade.

  5. jumpy, thanks for the advice, but I really don’t have my head into it. My missus is a better carpenter and plumber than I am, and she’s handling all that stuff.

    We’ll have water everywhere else, just not in the kitchen.

  6. I hope you can talk Mark into putting up a few insightful comments…here…while he is there.

  7. Don’t know if the US being 23rd out of 139 equals bottom of the class but agree they and us could do better.

  8. Best wishes with the kitchen project, and greetings to Mrs Plumber & Carpenter, and of course to Mark. I hope he’s coming to help out!

  9. Jumpy, we don’t know whether the rest were all worse than the US. It’s 23rd out of 23 countries you’d want to compare yourself with. The northern Europeans occupy the top spots, as usual.

  10. Ambigulous, thanks. mark is actually quite a helpful person, but not so much with anything practical!

    Bilb, Mark saves his comments for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter these days. My rellies sometimes say, “That’s a great blog you’ve got there, Brian!”

    I say, “Yes, but do you read it?”

    “Well, er…!”

    I think some do sometimes, and rarely have they made a comment.

  11. What great news !!

    There are no asylum seeker children in Australian detention for the first time in a decade, after the last one was released from Darwin’s Wickham Point detention centre on Friday night.

    It marked the first time since Kevin Rudd came to power in 2007 that there have been no asylum seeker children held in detention in Australia.

    Insiders will be all over this, expect a Q&A special too.

  12. Yes, that’s good news, but we still don’t have an ethically acceptable stance on asylum seekers from either major party.

  13. Jumpy, Peter Dutton lied:

    The government has reclassified sections of detention centres as “community detention” in order to be able to claim that all children have been released from immigration detention.

    The immigration minister, Peter Dutton, announced on Sunday there were no children left in detention, but a source within his department told the Guardian the “release” was “more bureaucratic sleight of hand than emancipation”.

  14. Brian

    I guessed that Mark was likely to be a helpful person. Perhaps Mrs Bahnisch could suggest some tasks for him?

    Those US poll figures are encouraging.

    We hear little of candidate Kasich, yet the meagre poll data on that site has him slightly (and consistently) ahead of both Sanders and Clinton.


  15. I guessed that Mark was likely to be a helpful person. Perhaps Mrs Bahnisch could suggest some tasks for him?

    The short answer to this is “yes”, she’s the manager and we do what is suggested. But it’s a consultative process, of course.

    It will be interesting to see what transpires at the Republican convention. The party has an existential problem.

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