Saturday salon 5/5 (late edition)

1. Midnight Oil to burn again

Midnight Oil, led by the former Hon. Peter Garrett, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Education, are returning to a high-ticket priced venue near you.

Simon Tatz says:

    Once again, we’ll witness the gangly mantis, this time just plain old Pete Garrett, belt out songs condemning American military imperialism, condemning the loss of Indigenous land rights and noting that beds, as well as pink batts, keep burning.

    That may sound cruel, for the Oils are one of Australia’s greatest ever rock bands; a truly captivating live act who matched their power and passion on stage with uncompromising political activism.

To my ear, Peter Garrett can’t sing and to my eye he can’t dance. Still the result is captivating and I wish him well.

2. Court finds Peter Dutton failed his duty of care

It’s actually worse than that.

Dutton risked safety of asylum seeker sent to PNG for abortion, court finds:

    The minister for immigration, Peter Dutton, exposed an asylum seeker who became pregnant after being raped on Nauru to serious medical and legal risks by flying her to Papua New Guinea for an abortion, the federal court found on Friday.

    The minister also has a duty of care to provide a safe and legal abortion to the woman, identified only as S99, who relies on the minister for her care and who has serious neurological, physiological and psychological conditions, Justice Mordecai Bromberg found.

    The woman, identified only as S99, was raped while in detention on Nauru after she fell unconscious as the result of a seizure. She woke to find blood and male discharge on her clothes. The rape resulted in a pregnancy and left her with severe post-traumatic stress disorder, evidence presented to the court from medical experts last week said.

Lawyers for Dutton said he did not believe S99’s circumstances to be exceptional and also denied that he had a duty of care to her. Papua New Guinea would be fine. The court found against him on all counts.

Doctors advising the Immigration Department advised that she must be brought to Australia. Dutton disagreed, said PNG would be fine and refused the alternatives of Singapore or New Zealand. Instead she was bundled up and sent to PNG where a doctor said he could do it although abortion there is illegal.

Luckily she had lawyers willing to intervebe and the matter was brought to court.

Currently S99, entering the second trimester of her pregnancy, continues to wait in Port Moresby.

3. Save the Children get a payout and apology of sorts

Back in October 2014 the Immigration Department directed that 10 save the Children staff be removed from Nauru where they were doing work with refugees for the Department. Nine were subsequently deported by Nauru.

They had claimed that:

    in making the removal direction, the Department relied on allegations that the staff had orchestrated protest activity, coached and encouraged self-harm of detainees, engaged in a campaign to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the Government’s regional processing arrangements and misused and improperly disclosed sensitive and confidential information.

The Department gave no reasons at the time, but started an inquiry. Now the Department has agreed they were wrong, made an undisclosed compensation payment and have issued an agreed statement from which I quoted above.

And get this:

    “The Department also recognises that SCA has suffered detriment for which – to adopt the words of Professor Doogan – the payment of money cannot be adequate compensation.”

It expressed regret for the harm done by its actions, but now that sick clown, Peter Dutton, “has blamed refugee advocates for the suicide attempts on Nauru and Manus, alleging they are encouraging detainees to self-harm in the hope of getting to Australia.”

Apparently he prefers that refugees have no hope.

I agree on this occasion with Sarah Hanson-Young:

Refugees don’t self-harm because of me, Peter Dutton, they self-harm because of you

4. Spare a thought for the big banks

No truly, they are doing it tough. ANZ’s profit was down by 22% and its dividend down by 7% in the first half. NAB posted a $1.74b loss on its British Clydesdale sale, but managed a cash profit increase otherwise of 6.5%, with the dividend steady. Westpac shares were “hammered” after a flat profit.

Actually if you look at Westpac’s chart it’s not so bad, and ANZ went up 5.5% the day they announced a loss. But on Four Corners the other night, we heard that Singapore-based hedge fund APT Capital Management was shorting Australian banks, expecting a 40% “correction” in the housing price market to which our banks are over-exposed.

It could happen whether we get Labor’s negative gearing policy or not. And wouldn’t that be a good thing for our kids trying to get into the market?

5. The Future is Workless

That’s the title of a new book Tim Dunlop has in the works. He reckons the era of full-time jobs is coming to an end. So silly schemes like the Government’s PaTH program to introduce young people to work are a waste of time because the jobs are simply not there.

So the new economy won’t be based on work. Presumably our duty will be to consume, with the income provided to us by the government!

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.

27 thoughts on “Saturday salon 5/5 (late edition)”

  1. I am advised that Malcolm Turnbull is on his way to Government House. Let the games begin!

  2. That is very courteous, and appropriate Brian, that The Lodge should phone you to let you know. They got one thing right.

  3. Nah, I got an email from a secret source!

    Now I have to go back to finalising my tax, and pondering whether I’m a lifter or a leaner!

  4. What’s to finalise ? Just pay 100% out of empathy.
    Even then you’ll be better off than 98% of humans on Earth.

  5. Hey, go jump, jumpy!

    What worried me, actually, is that we both get a small “low income offset” although we both earn more than what I understand to be the median wage. As a household that puts us up there somewhere, at least while we both continue to work.

    I should add that we are both plenty old enough to live on the pension, but don’t and don’t get any transfer payments or other concessions from the government due to age and pay quite a bit of tax.

  6. I am receiving a part pension because although I am unemployable (because of my age), my wife still works.
    This puts me in the position of each year paying tax which amounts to more than 100% of my income.
    I’m sure in Jumpy’s universe that would make me morally upright, and a victim of an unjust system.
    Of course, as a pensioner I am entitled to all sorts of concessions which must make me a non-RNTP – and morally deficient in Jumpy’s eyes.
    And I couldn’t care less 🙂

  7. Government programs to put people into jobs usually fail because, more often than not, they have nothing to do with alleviating unemployment and everything to do with disguised handouts to political supporters. There are a couple of PhDs just waiting for whoever has the guts to scrutinize previous jobs schemes.

  8. Remember the “classifieds”, GB, back in the days when people found their own work? Then employers got lazy and outsourced to pre vetting agencies and the whole decades old straightforward system unravelled.

  9. What Bilb said. ( Credit where credit is due.)
    Very difficult to do with regulation bashing you at every turn, but a noble pursuit none the less. Who knows, you may be able to help someone improve their lives with a job.

  10. Graham, the government assisted make-work schemes are opposed by the unions, because they can be exploited by employers, but the tendency has been to be positive about PaTH because ‘work for the dole’ was a dud. People like Chris Richardson wave their hands and say such schemes have been helpful overseas. There was a woman on the 7.30 Report who seemed to know the research. She said precisely 19% lead to proper jobs, the rest don’t.

    I worry about the 81%, who are likely to conclude that they and/or their situation really are hopeless.

  11. My worry is that if we are getting the “low income offset” then they really are wasting money.

    Because of our situation and obligations we live quite frugally and have to if we aim to stay self-funded, which we do. The amount we are getting is not substantial, it’s just that we shouldn’t be getting it.

    And BTW it’s less than we give away to charities.

  12. For clarity, zoot, if a person doesn’t want to work then that is a perfectly legitimate state of being. However we must continually challenge ourselves particularly at our age, to not do so is to start a steady decline to brain death IMHO.

  13. However we must continually challenge ourselves particularly at our age, to not do so is to start a steady decline to brain death IMHO.

    BilB: couldn’t agree more, that’s why I volunteer.
    And from bitter experience I can assure you I am constitutionally unsuited to running my own business.
    Life is going to get interesting when the money runs out.

  14. zoot, all I can say is that over the last 25 years I’ve cut the grass for a lot of older people on the pension. They tend to be the best payers as they count every dollar. They always have the cash ready. I charge them a bit less, but not nothing.

    However, they own their own home, debt free, and it helps if there are two of them to share fixed expenses.

  15. Bilb:

    Everybody is employable, zoot, if you are prepared to work for yourself.

    It takes a certain level of skill and opportunity to make money working for yourself.

  16. John
    I think we do ok in facilitating access to skills for those want it.
    We fall down in opportunity though with to many artificial barriers that many find too onerous.

    Had I known how many, even though very motivated, I would have seriously reconsidered ” going out on my own “.
    But being naive at the start and stubborn throughout is why I still do it.

    I personally rate Math as the most important thing in every form of endeavour, and as such should be front and centre in our education.

  17. Jumpy:

    we do ok in facilitating access to skills for those want it.

    and have what it takes to learn the skills.
    I was thinking of the good old days when things like sheltered workshops provided learning and a job for those who could not do a normal job.
    Agree with the general thrust of what you said.

  18. The internet, an almost totally unregulated innovation , has done more for skill seekers and potential as well as existing Business runners than any Government program ever.

    ( I realise Pollies are trying to take credit for the internet, such is their mendacity )

  19. Two points.

    First, there is an economist, I’ve forgotten his name, who has done research to the effect that our skill levels only account for half of our success. Most of the rest is in personality factors. In part it’s why the so-called “hidden curriculum” in any school is as important as the formal curriculum. Most schools don’t take this seriously enough.

    Second, when I decided to go lawnmowing and gardening in 1991 I considered setting up a company. It was too complicated for my needs, as I never intended it to be full-time or to employ people. At the time my share broker was setting up a company with some mates, and it took about 6 weeks and a massive amount of time. I ended up becoming a ‘sole trader’ and got an ABN and a GST exemption through my accountant. You can probably do it now on the web.

    I have heard that if you want to set up a company in the USA you need, from memory, 28 approvals. It is said that if anyone who knows you are doing it wants to stop you then the chances are that you will be stopped. That’s in the land of the free!

  20. John, the point about sheltered workshops is a good one. Not everyone wants to be a one person business centre, nor is everyone capable of it.

  21. Good on you Brian. Lawn mowing and gardening is a great occupation, and one with a huge scope for innovation and extension. One of my pet loves are the small 600mm wide excavators that are designed to go through doorways and into lifts. There is so much application for these awesome machines for yard and garden work. One of my favourite trees is the European Lime tree (tilia cordata), but its roots need good well drained soil to grow into. I have 2 in my (clay) yard with stunted growth because I am too lazy to dig out the 3 meter diameter hole and treat the clay with gypsum to make it more suitable for the tree’s roots, as the horticulturalist in ChCh’s Hagley Park Gardens advised. Being an industrial animal for me things need mechanisation, and those little machines really appeal to my sense of the way to get things done. As for mowing grass I did way too much of that as a kid (large family block all hills) so I happily pay someone like yourself to do a far better job that I ever can.

  22. As for innovation, in Christchurch NZ there was a guy who built a special trailer with back to back hoppers for grass clippings, top loading and side unloading via side flaps which when released dropped the load in seconds, Very cool. And his mowers went down the middle in the triangle formed by the hopper slope.

    A couple of projects I did, one for a design client and one for fun were, one, a grass catcher which suppressed dust when mowing dry areas, and, two, a mower that was design to clip onto ag bikes for mowing small patches of council and other publicly owned land. Neither went into production, not because they did not work.

  23. This is interesting, you can buy them in Japan at auction.

    The mini sized machines take the same rock breaking head that the larger 1.5 tonne machines power. That is one of their design uses, breaking up concrete structures inside high rise buildings. Fits through the door, into the lift, into the office, cuts a door way through that wall. And they do garden work, I saw one being used to dig up and remove a very large patch of cacti at a Mexican restaurant. So useful.

  24. Graham, I’d find it hard to be succinct about the hidden curriculum, but this article would do as a start.

    It’s everything about the experience of school and the institutional arrangements etc. other than the formal curriculum that impact on a child’s consciousness.

    But also stuff that is embedded in the formal curriculum, like abstract knowledge is more valued than practical knowledge.

    Jumpy talks about ” usurping parental responsibility“. That’s too narrow, but it’s true that compulsory schooling is a recognition of the inadequacy of what most parents can offer in the sense of personal growth, preparation for adult roles and life chances.

    Jumpy may prefer the situation where boys learnt their father’s trade and girls learnt how to be wives and mothers.

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