Saturday salon 10/9

1. Malcolm in a muddle

There’s a new book called The Turnbull Gamble, co-authored by political commentator, journalist and academic Peter van Onselen and politics professor Wayne Errington, who ask whether it was all worth it. There are interviews on Lateline and Late Night Live with Andrew West.

They think his main achievements were first getting the job, and then winning the election by the narrowest of margins. He got the job because he wasn’t Tony Abbott – no-one had any enthusiasm for him personally.

Now Michelle Grattan reckons, a year in and we still don’t know what he wants to do with the job. He’s appointed senior staffer David Bold to oversee a group that will liaise with the crossbench and the backbench and Mathias Cormann’s former chief-of-staff, Simon Atkinson, as policy tsar to co-ordinate and advise across the board. However, we just don’t know whether he’s up to it.

Grattan says:

    He struggles in adversity, anger on display, firing bullets of blame. His graceless election night address was appalling.

Van Onselen told Andrew West that, with much of the media, Turnbull really thought he would win comfortably. When he didn’t, he had to be persuaded to show up at all on election night. Then he discarded the diplomatic speech prepared for him and let fly with a dummy spit.

2. Saint Teresa of Calcutta

Mother Teresa has been made a saint less than 20 years after she died in 1997, which is fast-tracking, as I understand it. The process of canonisation requires two miracles. Pope John Paul II recognized the first in 2003, now subject to considerable criticism. When Pope Francis recognised the second in December 2015, canonisation became inevitable.

Of course she did more than that, founding the Missionaries of Charity in 1950, which in 2012:

    was active in 133 countries. They run homes for people dying of HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis; soup kitchens; dispensaries and mobile clinics; children’s and family counselling programmes; orphanages; and schools.

She has had plenty of critics but receives grudging recognition as a shrewd operator with unpalatable views who knew how to build up a brand.

3. Donald Trump winning? Polls mislead

If you see opinion polls in the US showing Donald Trump close or even surpassing Hillary Clinton in the presidential race, don’t panic. The election doesn’t work on the basis of popular vote as such.

The popular vote in each state elects electoral college representatives, on a basis of winner takes all, with the number of electoral college votes varying according to population. In all the winner has to amass 270 of the 538 electoral college votes available in the 50 stated and Washington DC.

It’s a stupid system, designed as a safety check in case the voters got it wrong. However, convention now is that the electoral college votes follow the popular vote in each state.

The Washington Post has sorted out the current state of play.

Clinton has a lead of four points or more in 21 states, adding up to 244 electoral college votes.

Trump leads by at least four points in 20 states, but they are generally smaller and less populated areas that tally up to just 126 electoral votes.

The 10 remaining tightly-contested ‘battleground states’ have 168 electoral college votes on offer, of which Clinton needs 26.

They say:

    The best case for Trump is a narrow win, while Clinton might still prevail in a landslide.


    If [Clinton] wins the 19 states and Washington DC that every Democratic nominee has won from 1992 to 2012, she only needs to win the large state of Florida to be president or a couple of other swing states she is currently winning.

    Trump on the other hand must flip a host of Democratic blue and swinging purple states to turn them into red Republican states.

Betting markets are giving Trump a 30% chance, which is more than I’m comfortable with.

4. ‘Angry white men’ much more intolerant of cultural differences than women

    Sssh. Don’t tell the angry white men, but it’s finally official.

    Aussie-born blokes are twice as likely as their wives or girlfriends to reject the cultures and customs brought to the country by new migrants. And tradies are the most strongly negative of all.


    Australian-born people are almost six times more likely than people born overseas to complain that “there are too many immigrants”.

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.

36 thoughts on “Saturday salon 10/9”

  1. There’s a lot more today on Malcolm’s anniversary, eg, in the CM and the AFR which I read over breakfast. there’s Laurie Oakes in the CM and 3-4 articles in the AFR one of which asked seven prominent people what they thought.

    Most reckon getting rid of Abbott and that’s about it. Apart from selling his soul on climate change and marriage equality, Turnbull started to disappoint when he had serial thought bubbled about tax, which went nowhere.

    One thing surfaced, and that was his renewal of the LNP front bench, which I’d thought of as not so bad. He’s also getting good reports on his international performance, but that tends not to translate domestically.

  2. For most of our life in mining towns we used to wonder where the Australians lived. Places like Alyangula and Newman were multicultural hotspots that ordinary Australians saw as hardship posts.. Then we moved to Blackwater and found out where the Australians and Central Queenslanders lived. Definitely not multicultural hot spots.
    My take is that we are less likely to be prejudiced when we know personally many examples of people who are representatives of various immigrant, religious etc. groups.
    Doesn’t surprise me that Pauline got a lot of support in central Qld.

  3. The other thing about angry white men is that many people feel free to say things about white men that they would condemn if people said the same thing about women, minority groups etc. This is particularly true for working class men.
    Oddly enough I believe that Australia has had so much success with multiculturalism because, in Australian male culture you lose face if you take an insult seriously. In many other societies men lose face if they do not take insults seriously.

  4. Sounds like Jumpy is losing business to all those Black Female Tradies. I’m sure it wouldn’t happen in Galt’s Gulch.

  5. You know zoot, if i could get my house built by black females for the ( fictional ) wage gape difference i would.
    Im astounded that any white male are employable with all that cheap labour provided by the oppressed.

  6. Section 18J was drafted and intended to protect Jumpies from discrimination and hurt feelings, but Jumpy demanded it be amended to allow free-for-alls with no holds barred.

    Being against protectionism.
    And state intervention.
    And lawyers’ picnics.
    And tribunals.

    JohnD, next you’ll be telling us the gummint wants to ban Jumps Races.

  7. Haha, greens walk out of the Senate stunt to convince us islam is a race !
    Geez how stupid do they think we are……

  8. Ambiguous: Yep I am against Jumpy races. There is a risk that Jumpy would be tripped by his own logic.
    Jumpy: Maybe the Greens walked out so they wouldn’t be forced to listen to the exciting stuff that Pauline now accuses the Muslims of when it is just a rerun of what she used to say about Asians.

  9. This was what Richard DiNatali had to say about walking out on Pauline Hanson:

    Dear John,

    We just walked out of the Senate, in the middle of Senator Pauline Hanson’s first speech.

    Here’s why:

    As a kid in the playground at school, I was called a “greasy wog” and told to “go home”. Those words can stay with you, and the words of Pauline Hanson tonight will breed that same hate – targeted at more kids and families. But we do not have to stand for that.

    In the words of Australian of the Year David Morrison, “the standard you walk past is the standard you accept”. I know you’re standing with us tonight.

    In hope,


    PS – As elected members of Parliament, we are in a position to choose whether we want to unite or want to divide this nation. And right now, we need unity more than ever.

  10. Good on Di Natale, say I.

    Jumpy, it’s not a stunt, just a way of making the point that what is being said is unacceptable.

    And I don’t see any confusion between race and religion here.

  11. John

    I see you are concerned for the welfare of Jumpy the racer. Your compassion is boundless.

    Is that what he’s been doing?

  12. Jumpy, going to bed the ABC said RDN tweeted “racism”. It’s still bigotry and doesn’t make it any better. And I’m sure she is racist.

    “Stunt” is a derogatory what of describing what happened. And whether it’s planned or spontaneous doesn’t change anything important.

  13. Criticising a religious ideology wasn’t ” racist ” when the lefty atheists were bagging the christians and its not ” racist ” now.
    But I’ll give you ‘bigotry’,

    noun: bigotry; plural noun: bigotries
    intolerance towards those who hold different opinions from oneself.

    So RDN is a bigot too right ?

    As for ” stunt ” being derogatory, you can insert ” staged ” or ” premeditated ” if that helps.
    To sugest they were suddenly triggered into seeking a safe space refuge for a group tweet would be laughable.

  14. Jumpy, my guess is that it was premeditated. What came out of pauline’s mouth was hardly unexpected. I gather some Labor senators stayed away because they didn’t have to listen to that stuff.

    Labor and the Greens should be civil to ON senators and I expect they are. However, politically they have no reason to suck up to them.

    Jumpy, your dictionary is wrong. From my Oxford Australian Dictionary, 1998 ed:

    bigot n. an obstinate and intolerant believer in a religion, political theory, etc. bigotry n. [ORIGIN: 16th c. French: origin unknown]

    bigoted adj. unreasonably predjudiced and intolerant.

    That’s how I’d understand the term.

  15. Jumpy, your dictionary is wrong. From my Oxford Australian Dictionary, 1998 ed:

    The word was ” bigotry “, that was the word you used.

    Oxford Dictionary.

    Pronunciation: /ˈbɪɡətri/

    Intolerance towards those who hold different opinions from oneself:

    Looks like I’m not wrong and RDN and the greens displayed deliberate bigotry.
    But if you still have doubts, take it up with Oxford.

  16. Here is the speech in question ( 30 mins )
    The greens storm out for their group tweet a about 8:40.
    Anyone find a racist trigger please let me know.

  17. Also note the time on the Senate clock is about 5:10pm, the tweet tweeted at 6:03 pm.
    I suspect a full 50 minutes of hugs were needed to compose themselves and the tweet speech.

  18. Jumpy, I’ve got better things to do than trawl through Pauline’s speeches. Especially when I’ve already said that RDN was wrong to attribute the particular instance to racism.

    On bigotry, ‘bigot’ seems to be the stem word for lexicographers.

    This article says that usage in the UK has become so widespread and undefined that the word no longer has any meaning there.

    For now, the Macquarie still has:

    /ˈbɪgət/ (say ‘biguht)

    noun 1. a person who is intolerantly convinced of the rightness of a particular creed, opinion, practice, etc.

    Merriam-Webster which follows American usage is similar.

    So if you want to call RDN and just about everyone a bigot, that’s up to you, but you would be doing damage to our language as well as to common sense.

  19. Pauline’s remarks are aimed at a specific audience (people like me are not her target). Her audience is well aware that when she uses the word Muslim she is referring to someone of “middle eastern appearance”.
    It’s racism.

  20. zoot, this is looking more and more like a scripted event. The Greens expected ‘racism’ but the words did not come out explicitly that way. Nevertheless, you are probably right, although Pauline does want to stop all immigration, being a danger, she thinks, to jobs.

  21. Wow, let me try that…

    Richard’s remarks are aimed at a specific audience (people like me are not his target). His audience is well convinced that when someone uses the word Muslim they are referring to someone of “middle eastern appearance”.
    It’s still not racism.

  22. Anyway, go the Mighty Broncos !!

    That new winger for the cowgirls is a crackerjack, make no mistake, we gotta watch Thurston to him.

  23. Jumpy, RDN and the Greens were walking out to make a ‘statement’ that would go on TV and be noticed by everyone, including you, followed by a statement which was perhaps designed primarity for his supporters.

    But saying something about RDN’s statement (and you’ve changed “Pauline” to “someone”) says nothing about Pauline’s statement.

    Are you saying:

    1. Pauline Hanson is not racist, or

    2. Pauline was not racist on this occasion and was incorrectly labelled?

  24. The Broncos got done by JT again!

    In some ways it was the mistakes that counted. If Matt Gillett hadn’t done that reflex trip just before full-time we were probably home.

    Then in the end we missed James Roberts, who got himself suspended for a brain snap last week.

    The Cowboys have impressive power, speed and skill. I thought they’d win, but it was anyone’s game and one of the best you’ll see.

  25. In a speech at the University of NSW in 1996, PJK summed up Hanson thus:

    The great tragedy of the shamelessly regressive politics of Pauline Hanson is not so much that it is rooted in ignorance, prejudice and fear, though it is; not so much that it projects the ugly face of racism, though it does; not so much that it is dangerously divisive and deeply hurtful to many of her fellow Australians, though it is; not even that it will cripple our efforts to enmesh ourselves in a region wherein lie the jobs and prosperity of future generations of young Australians, though it will.
    The great tragedy is that it perpetrates a myth, a fantasy, a lie.
    The myth of the monoculture. The lie that we can retreat to it.

    Says it all really.

  26. Brian
    2, I don’t know about 1.
    I think she isn’t bright enough do anything but echo some people of her demographic and harvest the less informed protest vote. Honest folk that feel controlled by the two dominant coalitions. Most of her Policies are rubbish imho. If I had $1 for every Australian that hasn’t bothered to read them I’d be a multi millionaire.

    On the Game, I thought Taumalolo and that young Coen Hess stood out for the Cows. A couple of glaring penalise able infringement late in the game could have made the difference, it being so close and Im glad the Broncs didn’t carry on about it, not sure the Cows would have ignored them if the shoe was on the other foot. All in all a wonderful game though, played without any grubbiness.

  27. Here’s the transcript of Pauline’s speech.

    I’ve had a bit of the geek, and FWIW not much that can be described a ‘racism’. She’s strongly against cultural diversity and ‘multiculturalism’. So PJK was spot on about the myth of the monoculture.

    On Muslim’s she says you can’t tell a good one from a bad one, so best ban the lot. Sounds like a reason to ban everyone! Which she does if they are immigrants.

    She’s also in favour of the overt oppression of existing Muslims in Australia, good or bad.

  28. Jumpy, swap Taumalolo for any of the Brocos forwards, and the Broncos win.

    Darius Boyd had a super game for the Broncs except the last dropped catch, but by then the game was gone.

  29. Stunning game with both teams deserving to win and the team I support being lucky/brilliant to be the one that did.
    What really impressed me was the way members of both teams talked to each other after the game. Mutual respect and friendship after a game that was played fairly and without malice?

  30. John D, on local radio today NSW commentators were ecstatic about the game and the word they kept repeating was “respect”. Both coaches coach their players to play fair and within the rules.

    The referees didn’t have the usual trouble around the ruck, so the game was open and unbelievably fast. A feature was how the defence kept up, right through to the 90th minute.

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