Saturday salon 8/10

1. George Brandis grabs centre stage

We all know George Brandis is a pompous git. Bernard Keane writes persuasively (pay-walled) that he is an incompetent pompous git, both as a lawyer and as a politician. Labor says that he should resign for misleading parliament, and the lying about lying. Michelle Grattan says there is talk about him getting the shunt, either to the High Court (unlikely – who would wish that on the court?), or to London as high commissioner, as Alexander Downing’s term is coming to an end in May.

Anyway, there is open warfare between Solicitor-General Justin Gleeson and Attorney-General George Brandis. A senate inquiry is working to sort it out, and may save Brandis by disallowing his directive that the advice from the SG should be sought through him, even if it’s the PM or GG.

There’s a competent account at the ABC. See also Laura Tingle, and also where she says notes from Brandis’s staff support Gleeson.

Gleeson was unhappy, claiming he was not consulted on marriage equality and citizenship laws. He has also been unhappy about how his advice was represented.

In a meeting last November, initiated by Gleeson, to discuss these concerns, Brandis claimed to have consulted Gleeson about a directive he issued in May, saying all approaches to the SG had to go through him. This requirement is patently ludicrous. The independence of the SG is set up in law, and such a direction could not be made without the SG being consulted.

It seems the Senate will disallow Brandis’s directive, in a way letting him off the hook. Otherwise Gleeson’s position looks untenable and he would have to resign – a bad look for Brandis. The Law Society sides with Gleeson. Bernard Keane says Brandis’s competence as a lawyer is ridiculed in legal circles. I’m sure everyone would like to see the back of him.

2. Power and privilege persists across centuries

Andrew Leigh reports on a study that shows power and privilege persists remarkably in our so-called egalitarian society. If you look up the names of business leaders, scientists, media barons and politicians who have featured among the upper echelons of Australian society in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, you’ll find that the same surnames tend to do well now.

For example, if you look at the register of modern-day medical practitioners you will find you are three times more likely than the average Australian to be a doctor today if your ancestor was at the top of Australian society six generations ago.

There are similar patterns of the persistence of privilege in the USA, China, Japan, Chile, and even in Sweden.

Then there’s this:

    Analysing mobility in medieval England, Clark finds that people with names derived from jobs (Cook, Butler, Thatcher and so on) were more likely to move upwards, while those with names that derive from towns (including Baskerville, Pakenham and Walton) tended to move downwards.

Thanks to John for the link. From Mark I got this one showing a persistence of wealth in Florence over 600 years.

3. Abbott thinks he’s a chance

Tony Abbott has reportedly told some Tory mates in Britain he thinks he has a reasonable chance of regaining the top job.

Apparently he thinks he maintained a “good chance” of returning to the job because he is popular with the party membership compared to Malcolm Turnbull.

Abbott has tweeted that journos are making stuff up again, but Latika Bourke says she’s confident of her sources and her story. I guess he though no-one back here would hear.

4. Budgie nine go free

The budgie nine who stripped to their bathers, which were a coordinated set bearinbg an image of the Malaysian flag were sent on their way with a caution by the court after apologising.

In case you haven’t seen it, here is the offensive bit of swimwear:


Why aren’t the free speech warriors out there defending the right of these bozos to express their free spirits in this way?

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.

10 thoughts on “Saturday salon 8/10”

  1. Quadrennial Festival of North American Democracy….
    has descended to an even lower level of farce.
    Mr Trump has been offensive and lewd.

    Mrs Clinton has responded by saying “Americans should not elect a sexual predator to the White House.”

    She omitted the final word: again.

    I suppose the next “debate” will be louder, grubbier, nastier and possibly lewder, than the last. Who will emerge as the least worst?

    The Evil of Two Lessers.

  2. I do think Hillary should have just let it be. She didn’t have to say anything and shouldn’t have.

  3. On the radio this morning I hear that Trump is going to go on the attack in the next debate (tonight) accusing Hillary of attacking and bullying Bill’s ‘victims’.

    Yet he says the whole story about him is a distraction, is ancient history, he’s moved on and learnt to be a better man.

    I think the moderator should cut them off if this sort of stuff comes up, otherwise it could get very ugly.

  4. Clinton has the potential to be a great president provided she has a senate and congress that will not block everything she wants to do.
    Trump is doing a brilliant job of explaining why people should vote against him but unless Hillary moves beyond “at least better than Trump” the voters may vote for her in desperation while voting for a Republican congress and Senate as a check.

  5. Julian Assange is for Trump, because Clinton says she’d like to bring him to the US for trial, and Trump has said nothing. I’ve been waiting for the Wikileaks dump. We’ve just had one in the release of the text of her corporate speeches she was paid all that money for.

    Not sure what’s in there that’s damaging, but if there is something we’ll soon know. So far it’s that she favours open trade and open borders.

    John, I think that a Republican congress would be as bloody-minded with her as they have been with Obama.

    On the BBC last night they were asking why Americans dislike her so much. It goes beyond the reasons given.

  6. Re Donald/Hillary, this week has brought into stark relief the old saying: a pox on both their houses!

  7. Ambigulous, as I said the other day to my bro-in-law, if people don’t vote for one then the other might get the gig and they’ll be really unhappy.

    For mine, Hillary is not all that bad. She’s not Bill and she’s probably more hawkish than either Bill or Obama, but I don’t think she’ll do anything stupid.

    She has been talking up climate change. If you vote for the other bloke, expect him to defund NASA GISS, NOAA, the EPA and anything that might contribute to the effort. It would be a complete disaster!

  8. It is worth remembering that Bill Clinton got in on “its the economy stupid” and certainly got the economy moving. He is also the last president to have a balanced budget. The Clinton’s bring a lot of expertise to the White House.

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