Saturday salon 13/8

1. Leaked reports document asylum seeker abuse in Nauru

Especially children:

    The devastating trauma and abuse inflicted on children held by Australia in offshore detention has been laid bare in the largest cache of leaked documents released from inside its immigration regime.

    More than 2,000 leaked incident reports from Australia’s detention camp for asylum seekers on the remote Pacific island of Nauru – totalling more than 8,000 pages – are published by the Guardian today. The Nauru files set out as never before the assaults, sexual abuse, self-harm attempts, child abuse and living conditions endured by asylum seekers held by the Australian government, painting a picture of routine dysfunction and cruelty.

Gillian Triggs says it confirms what the Government was told two years ago, thew onus is on Australia, and public pressure can change detention policy.

The Government has said it’s Nauru’s problem, but Nauru’s justice system has failed and we put them there. The Rudd Government did, actually.

I thought I heard Tony Abbott say he was sorry he opposed the Malaysia solution. Must have imagined it!

2. Shutters pulled down on Ausgrid sale

Bernard Keane reckons (paywalled) our rejection of two Chinese bids for Ausgrid on unnamed security grounds is a decision of a cowering country closed for business:

    It’s difficult to overstate how awful Scott Morrison’s decision to block State Grid and Cheung Kong Infrastructure from bidding for the NSW government’s electricity transmission provider Ausgrid is. It defies logic, evidence and good sense.

    Hong Kong company Cheung Kong Infrastructure — which is privately owned — has controlling stakes in companies providing power in South Australia and Melbourne. It runs major transmission networks in the UK, Canada and New Zealand as well as Hong Kong and China. Its parent company owns 50% of Vodafone and ports in Sydney and Brisbane. If it’s a national security risk, as Morrison claims it is, then we’re already screwed.

He has also said it’s not about China, any other country would get the same treatment.

It’s just that CKI, the bloke from Hong Kong, is not a country, he just lives in one. So everyone is confused.

Laurie Oakes reckons ScoMo got it right (paywalled too). The Americans weren’t happy about us selling the Port of Darwin to the Chinese.

NSW Premier Mike Baird is cranky. I believe he sent a roadshow to China last year advertising the sale.

3. Did we vote for this?

John D has drawn to my attention an item from the Australia Institute where our lovely Government wants to cut welfare payments:

    If Arrium Steel closes in Whyalla around 8000 people in a town of 22,000 will be looking for work. On average, of every 100 Australians who lose their jobs 30 will still be looking for a new one 12 months later. Unfortunately, the average is much higher when job losses are concentrated in a particular region among workers with similar skills, as will be the case in Whyalla.

    When someone loses their job through no fault of their own, the Australian government steps in to help provide them with a “Newstart” allowance of $263.80 per week. Full-time manufacturing workers earn an average of $1353 per week. How many weeks could you pay the mortgage for if your income fell to $263.80 per week? Significantly it is a “new start” that retrenched workers are offered, not a “better start”.

    The Coalition government plans to address this situation by cutting the unemployment benefit (dropping the Orwellian language would improve our public debate) by $8.80 per fortnight. Of course it is not just the unemployed that are about to get their incomes cut, the sick, the old and the disabled are about to see their incomes cut by up to $14 as well. They have clearly had it too good for too long. (Emphasis added)

4. Rio

My favourite moments so far were the rugby sevens wins, our women beating New Zealand, even if Emma Tonegato probably did drop the ball scoring the first try, and Fiji thumping Great Britain.

There has been much to enjoy and celebrate, but I want to say a bit about our poor swimmers.

Our swimmers are world class, and we got three brilliant golds. However, the Australian Sports Commission spent $38 million in preparing the team, and the official estimate was 14 medals, eight of them gold. The Americans had us down for nine golds. With one day to go we have eight medals and three of them gold. The Courier Mail is calling shock horror. Team coach Jacco Verhaeren said Cameron McEvoy got stage fright, and he later extended that to others in the team. Jacco should know, he’s coached three swimmers to 100m gold.

Our media place huge expectations on our swimmers, swimming in the US is a low profile sport.

Our team was selected months ago, the swimmers had basically nothing to do but train and worry about the big day. The American team was selected three and a half weeks ago, the swimmers are in form.

And in the American college system they do plenty of racing. They get used to tactics and pacing themselves during a race.

It almost sounded like the coaches were blaming the swimmers, but good coaches have their teams mentally ready to go.

We can’t pretend that medals don’t matter, so perhaps anyone who gets into a final should get a medal. In the shorter races they pretty much line up across the pool.

Do you remember Ian Thorpe falling into the pool in 2004? Even the Prime Minister got involved.

Cate Campbell, checked herself at the start of the 100 metres final, lost about a body length, panicked, burnt up the pool in world record time at the change, then ran out of puff at 75 metres.

Can happen.

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.

14 thoughts on “Saturday salon 13/8”

  1. On Nauru, I forgot to mention, Labor is advocating a royal commission and the appointment of an independent child advocate.

  2. More on Reducing the Newstart allowance

    It’s a lethally clever way for the government to save $1.3bn over four years from 2.2 million of the most disadvantaged Australians, with less political blowback than other blunter attempts at welfare savings.

    It’s lethal precisely because it seems like an insignificant amount, and because the cuts apply only to new welfare recipients, so no one actually loses anything they are now getting.

    It is also lethal because it is done in a way that add to the disincentives for people on Newstart to take a temporary job.

  3. John, that’s a great article by Lenore Taylor. She does good work, but less now because she’s running the whole show at The Guardian.

    She points out that the unemployed have not had a real increase since 1994, how threadbare the welfare net has become, and how others better off got to keep carbon tax compensation because it was a tax cut, plus more.

    She also points out that Labor pocketed the saving from this one in their budget forecasts, so arguably have no mandate to oppose it.

  4. Turns out I did hear Abbott saying he probably made the wrong call on the Malaysian Solution. It was in his address to the Sir Samuel Griffith Society.

    He says:

    letting it stand would have been an acknowledgment of the government-of-the-day’s mandate to do the best it could, by its own lights, to meet our nation’s challenges.

    It would have been a step back from the hyper-partisanship that now poisons our public life.

    He says 800 was never enough, and he’s right about that.

    However, Bernard Keane at Crikey reckons he’s hanging out his shingle to become the next PM. He’s saying he would be less aggressively partisan, but other than that much the same as he was.

    All he has to do is wait for Turnbull to stuff up.

  5. If Mr Abbott ascends to the Prime Ministership again, I assume he would become eligible for a PM’s pension after a few weeks.
    Would it be churlish of me to suggest that this is why he is hanging around like a bad smell?

  6. It’s a pity then, that he hasn’t progressed beyond student politics.
    His skill set is severely lacking in grown-up attributes.

  7. I think he’s not fit for being anything but a politician.

    Oh I don’t know about that. Any dolt can be a journalist and social commentator. He has some experience in that.
    Obviously not the ABC though, he’s overqualified.

  8. I think Journalism is out for Abbott. He would freeze up in the middle of interviews and the interviewee would lose interest and walk away.

  9. No, i was thinking of print journalism, a tweet that causes uproar, ( and what won’t ? ) is right up his ally.
    Cripes!, if he tweeted ” I love a blue sky ” he’d outrage people that want rain, which would lead condemnation on his attitude to drought.
    Or ” I love rainy days ” would do the same of his stance on floods.

    Luckily he’s not Dorothea Mackellar in 1904.

  10. Any dolt can be a journalist and social commentator.

    So you don’t think Andrew Dolt Bolt, Gerard Henderson, Piers Akkerman, Miranda Devine, Janet Albrechtson, Paul Kelly, Mr & Mrs Shanahan and the rest of the News Corpse crew are pretty crap then?

  11. It is not that Australia is open or closed for business – it is that the new colonialism and imperialism inflicted on Australia is so blatant. There are truly astonishing parallels between the betrayal of the Australian peoples today and the betrayal of the Qing (Ch’ing) Chinese Empire by corrupt Chinese businessmen and officials and English opium trader accomplices in Guangzhou (Canton) from the 1830s onwards. Australian historians with expertise in China deserve scorn for their timidity in not speaking out about these humiliating and harmful parallels.

    John D.: If we hadn’t flogged offso many of our productive assets at fire-sale prices then we would have had more that enough the money to resettle and retrain all the displaced steel workers of Whyalla and to start up brand new industries there. Hey, maybe we could sub-contract the management of our productive resources to the Norwegians, the Finns and the Botswanas?

Comments are closed.