Saturday salon 26/11

1. Australia trails only Switzerland in wealth table (pay-walled)

    AUSTRALIA’S lofty status as the world’s second richest nation remains intact, new figures reveal, despite household wealth stalling this year.

    In the seventh annual Global Wealth Report from Swiss bank Credit Suisse, the “lucky country” posted an average wealth of $US375,600 ($508,900) for every Australian, second only to banking hotbed Switzerland, with an average net worth of $US562,000.

It seems Australia suffered a 0.2 per cent retreat to $US6.4 trillion, trailing the modest global growth rate of 1.4 per cent.

So we should all be happy, right?

According to the HILDA survey reported in July, wealth and income stalled pretty much after the GFC:


Pretty much, the older you are the better you are doing, but poverty and inequality have not changed markedly.

2. ‘The ABC is letting Australia down’

That’s what Paul Keating thinks, who continues to be in fine form. He says if you want to know what is going on in the world, watch SBS.

    “What you get on the ABC is: ‘A truck has just overturned on the Pacific Highway’.

If you want to know what’s happening in Iraq, in the US election, or with Donald Trump, watch SBS, he says.

3. White Ribbon Day

Friday 25 November was White Ribbon Day for 2016. There is a White Ribbon, Australia site, which gives facts and figures and collects donations.

Donations are needed, because in NSW at least government help has been shredded. Anne Summers tells us that deaths from domestic violence have increased by 40% this year, while homicide rates have fallen by 33%.

    As a result of its catastrophic 2013 Going Home Staying Home “reforms”, there are now only 14 refuges in the entire state that specialise in dealing with domestic violence, according to an audit of every refuge conducted by SOS Women’s Services a year ago. Before the “reforms” there were 78.

A third of them are not contactable outside business hours.

Nina Funnell gives 10 reasons why she will ignore White Ribbon Day (pay-walled). Basically she says it’s vacuous, gives the wrong messages and makes no real difference.

4. Hard Brexit coming up

European leaders are warning that a hard Brexit will be Britain’s lot. They don’t want to encourage anyone else top leave, so Britain has to be a lesson for the rest.

In Britain, however, things are going very strange. Tony Blair is said to be launching an organisation to examine why the “centre left” has been overwhelmed by the forces of populism.

The man is clearly delusional. Another view, which I find attractive, is that Donald Trump’s success is built on the ruins of the Third Way.

Meanwhile The Independent reports that Richard Branson’s Virgin Group is helping to bankroll a secret campaign set up by ex-Blairite ministers and advisors to stop Brexit.

5. Italy may be the next domino

Most think the French presidential elections could be the next anti-establishment win following Brexit and Trump. However, Italy’s upcoming referendum could be a game-changer in Europe.

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi thought it would be a good idea to have a referendum to change the senate, making it easier to get legislation through. He said he would resign if the people voted “no”.

That seemed to turn the whole thing to a vote of confidence in him.

He’s now said he’ll stay, but most think he’ll go.

Political instability could lead to new elections, and the possibility that the Five Star Movimiento (FSM) promising a referendum on Euro membership could form the next government.

The referendum is on 5 December, and looks like going down.

6. Political games continue

Meanwhile here in Oz our politicians are doing an excellent job of keeping us entertained.

Nick Xenophon plays hardball with the Government on Murray Darling Basin flows (pay-walled). He’s threatened to hold up government legislation if it doesn’t act decisively to re-instate the extra 450 billion litres to the Murray Darling Basin flows promised under the plan, and Barnaby Joyce says won’t happen.

This puts the kybosh on getting ABCC through this year, I think. The Government should still be able to put backpacker tax changes through by doing a deal with Labor.

Earlier Nationals staged a late-night revolt in the Senate over the Adler shotgun ban.

    A number of senior Nationals MPs have staged a revolt in the Parliament over the importation of the Adler shotgun, with two backbench senators crossing the floor and four others, including three cabinet ministers, abstaining from a vote to lift the ban on the firearm.

I believe Joyce refused to say what his position was.

George Brandis continues to be a human headline. First he called his LNP mates in Queensland state politics “very, very mediocre” and foreshadowed a split in the LNP combined party to meet the One Nation challenge.

Then came claims that he has acted corruptly in a WA case. It’s complicated – follow the story at

    If accurate, the combined claims expose a secret agreement to divert $300 million owed to the federal taxpayer to the state taxpayers of WA.

    And it would be seen as an attempt to manipulate the Constitution and the High Court to achieve this sneaky backhander.

    Mr Gleeson followed the law rather than what could be seen as political directives.

From what Andrew Probyn and Shane Wright from The West Australian told Patricia Karvelas, former solicitor-general Justin Gleeson saved Brandis’s skin, by ignoring him and not acting illegally. For that he was hounded out of office.

There is talk of Brandis leaving politics, which would save Turnbull growing a spine and sacking him.

Meanwhile Kristina Keneally asks, when is the ‘real’ Malcolm Turnbull going to show up?

    Can you name one issue Malcolm Turnbull is passionate about that he is acting on now he is prime minister? Nope, nope, nope.

Just a hollow man who wants to be king, I’m afraid.

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.

23 thoughts on “Saturday salon 26/11”

  1. On doing a final check on the links, I found several pay-walled that I didn’t expect. I’d found then by Googling I think in most cases, or links from Facebook.

  2. !Adios, Fidel Castro!

    You helped overthrow a dictator, and later became one yourself.

    You railed against “the imperialists”, and then aped them with military adventures overseas in South America and Africa.

    Some achievements, many tragic errors.
    Some applause, but no cigar!!

  3. (1) Ambigulous: Adios indeed Fidel. Admired his cause when they were still guerrillas fighting against a brutal and corrupt dictatorship, (I was young and impressionable way back then). Many mistakes but through it all, Cubans kept most of their independence. Fidel Castro and the Cubans were highly respected in modern Viet-Nam – mainly because they treated the Vietnamese with respect as humans and equals – so there will be much genuine sadness in Viet-Nam today.

    ((from last Saturday Salon)). Tickets on way, free of GST and VAT. My brilliant Mt.Etna concert had to be transferred to Stromboli; the ghost of Hugo Chavez complained the Devil had been there because he could still smell the sulphur (or sulfur for all you Yanks lurking on this blog). 🙂

    (2) So Australia is second only to Switzerland in wealth, is it? So who the blue blazes has pilfered MY share????

  4. On Castro, I was amazed when they sent over doctors to provide medical services to Venezuela. It’s only got a bit over 11 million people.

  5. Brian,
    Some of our apparent wealth gains simply reflect the rapid rise in house costs. It is still the same house and what you would get if you sold it would be a bit less than the cost of buying an identical replacement (after taking out taxes and real estate fees.)

  6. John, that’s exactly right. I bought my first house when I was 28, and it cost about three times my salary, which was graduate starting level for librarians at the time.

    That would be way out of reach now.

  7. Re: Australia trails only Switzerland in wealth table.
    I wish to apologise to my fellow Australians for dragging the average wealth down. I’m truly sorry.

  8. Thanks jumpy for putting me on to that Monash research, over at the LNP lousy week thread. What a wealth of information and solid research this Andrew Zammit is providing and has produced. Fortunately he works also for a considered as independent think tank. I have read some commentary of his before but did not know how prolific and in depth that man is. I’ll never look at violent extremism, and terrorist threats to Australia the same again. He is definitely going to be on my go to places re Australian intelligence and security. The other one I will mention is David Killcullen. You see jumpy as someone who has done service, lived, worked and travelled in civil war torn countries, where on occasions I found myself on the wrong side of guns in some very uncomfortable situations to say the least. Hence, I trust someone who has experienced the same and excelled in it. Unlike some trumpt up armchair online warriors, who simply put him down as a shyster or appeaser with hardly an argument. (the video on the link is worth a look)

    Brian, Paul Keating has a point about the ABC and news. It took me about 3-4 hrs, in between cooking polenta, having dinner and entertain a guest, to make the link to abysmal executive security decisions from way back in relation to terrorism particulate jihadism and find multiple independent, reliable and valid research totally exposing Dutton. Wouldn’t that make news? I am not a lawyer, but I wish someone would look into charging the mongrel for aiding and abetting terrorism in Australia or malfeasance by knowingly compromising Australian security measures.

    John D, your last comment is a constant theme over on John Quiggin’s blog and often in Australian context too. Way back he had a post where he put the argument into political context in There’s more to good policy than increasing GDP.

    “Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered community excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross national product … if we should judge America by that – counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them. It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armoured cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts Whitman’s rifle and Speck’s knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.

  9. Ootz, three or more links in a comment will trigger the moderation or spam filters (I have special privileges).

    So I’ve approved the second of your two comments, though I think they were identical, and binned the first. Hope that’s OK!

  10. I’ve run into a problem with the blog. I can’t edit a draft post, or open a page to write a new one. The formatting just falls apart.

    This emerged late last night, and I have to go to work today.

    Everything else seems to work, more or less, to the extent it did before.

  11. Thanks Brian. and good onya tigtog.

    Yes I realised later that you had a two link only setting. The double post must have happened because often your page takes a long time to load and so I must have hit [post comment] twice. I would be interested if others experience the same loading problems with climate+. It could be on my side, but most other blogs load alright, perhaps it is the server?

    Zoot, thanks for that link to the insightful new studies exploring why ordinary people turn terrorist. I think we maybe off topic by continuing the discussion over on the lousy LNP week. In many ways that research confirms my reading of the situation, such as many jihadies have no religious background or have even converted.

    Wealth tables?
    Aussie school students now rate below those of Kazhakstan.

    Indeed Ambigulous, I did see a comment by a person I have great respect for along the line of. that Gillards idea of Gonsky reform was good but otherwise her education polices were not good. Unfortunately she did not elaborate, so I was wondering with Brian’s background, in a nutshell, what went wrong and where did Gillard contribute to the situation we are finding ourselves in in education.

  12. Ootz, the host is a server in the US. I think I get it reasonably cheaply, and with all the images I use there hasn’t so far been a problem about using too much space.

    OTOH it has always been slow, and when I did all those travel posts I prepared them at LP (even though it’s dead I can still get in the back door) and then copied them across.

    tigtog took a look today and found it OK. Seems when she showed up it decided to behave!

    I’ll take a longer run at the Gillard education thing on the weekend maybe, but don’t want to put the effort in to do a full post. Your friend is right.

  13. Tigtog says she deleted some plugins we no longer need, and “optimised” the database. That seemed to fix the problems I was having.

    So probably that is as responsive as it’s going to get.

    We are on her list of jobs to do, which will include numbered comments and other improvements.

  14. Sorry Brian, I was not complaining, just really wondering wether there is a problem on my side. That and don’t get me started on the internet. Not just in education, we are also behind Kazakhstan with regards to bandwidth and speed on the net.

    Observations on my recent extended trip in Europe would confirm that we are well behind, at least out here in the regions. Mind you I live 1hrs drive from an international airport and surrounded by large and vibrant tourist and agricultural industries which are dependent on good connectivity. There are still large swaths of our busy regional with mobile reception black spots, even Telstra. I have several of my friends who are complaining about their Fixed Wireless connection and the pricing. Our copper network has been rotting away in our tropical monsoonal conditions for decades. But the worst is how someone, who ought to have known better, facilitated the tearing down of the original plan and still lies about how they have totally underestimated demand of speed and bandwidth, rapidly running out of options, because they are politically stuck with their fraud band unable to implement Labors FTTP.

    The Coalition and the NBN company itself (during the time that it has been under Coalition managment) have repeatedly stated that Australians did not want or need the gigabit speeds which FTTP can deliver, citing as evidence the fact that most NBN customers so far have taken up only slower speeds such as 12Mbps and 25Mbps.

    However, technology figures such as Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes — one of Australia’s most successful technology entrepreneurs — and others have stated in public that gigabit speeds are essential for the nation’s long-term development. In addition, internationally telcos such as AT&T, Google, Verizon and more are talking up the need for such speeds.

    Locally, the slow take-up of high-end NBN services has been linked to the company’s pricing structure, with figures such as Stephen Baxter — celebrated entrepreneur and co-founder of fibre telco PIPE Networks — stating their disbelief that the NBN company charged customers more for accessing higher speeds, rather than incentivising them to use the full capacity of the NBN network.

  15. Ootz, the only good thing you can say about Turnbull’s NBN is that his riding instructions from Abbott were to destroy it, and he didn’t.

    A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and the weakest link is often the copper to the home.

  16. Brian and Ootz: Regardless of who is to blame, my own recent experience with the internet (when it does happen) is that it is inferior to that of the old dial-up, choice of phone or internet but not both simultaneously. I also wish we could go back to good old reliable Windows 95 or 98; all the latest Windows seem user-unfriendly …. can anyone recommend a decent, basic alternative to the Microsoft equivalent of ‘fifties Yank-tanks?

    Brian: thanks too for all the effort you put in to keep climateplus afloat and sailing well.

  17. Graham, all the programs I use have become more unfriendly as they were ‘improved’. The latest version of Outlook I use for email has no ‘ copy, cut, paste’ facility. When you right click it looks as though it will work, but doesn’t. Luckily ‘Ctrl C’ does.

    I’ll probably see young son tomorrow, who may have some practical advice on alternatives to Windows..

  18. My life rhythm has been upset. On Friday nights we watch the British crime miniseries The Level scheduled at 8.30 pm. Tonight they blithely announce that you can watch it in i-view or come back at 10pm, apropos of nothing. It’s the last part of six when we find out who the real villains are.

    I blame Michelle Guthrie. The ABC has being f**king things up ever since she took over!

    Then turns out tonight I picked up a nice juicy tick a couple of days ago. My dearly beloved botched the removal, so I’m going to have to get it surgically removed tomorrow. My chest muscles on one side are firm the way they never have been in the last 30 years. It will cost half what I made on Wednesday afternoon.

    Then my younger brother has pulled an early Christmas party tomorrow, with almost no notice. They’ve decided to go to the country to be with their eldest, and it’s the only day the Brisbane mob can get together.

    That’s good, but the long and short is that I don’t know when I’ll finish the new SS. Better get on with it!

  19. Take it easy Brian and don’t overdo it, if it is as stifling hot at your place as it is here.

    “” .. a decent, basic alternative to the Microsoft equivalent of ‘fifties Yank-tanks?“”

    I have some experience in IT from way back floppy disk and DOS to recent 3year stint as volunteer tutor in the Broadband for Seniors program. I’ll assist you gladly in your search for a new device. We may have to swap email or social network contacts via Brian, as I need a fair bit of background and current system details. I help a lot of my oldies over Facebook, even long after they have done a program with me. Luckily few do as I make sure they have the competency to look after themselves and know to find help on the net (problem definition and on line search skills). I suspect your “user un-friendly” experience is probably is down to struggling with the major change in operating systems to accommodate mobile and smart devices. In any case Windows operating systems did not really cope well with that change from a cognitive ergonomic point of view. Many of my ‘previous experience’ ‘oldies’ struggled with that, some still do, where as noobs don’t so much. Also, there are more option or alternatives to the old windows “yank tank” rather than . There is something to say about Apple system and devices. Finally it really depends on your support system, people that help you out or you could access for help. For example, if I would offer to setup an older family member with no previous experience, I would get them an iPad or for particular reasons a matchbook air. The Apple operating system are easier on the cognition side for non tech people. They are generally more expensive but their quality makes them more user friendly (extremely good screens are less taxying on ageing eyes) and generally last much longer as well as upgrading and system maintenance is a much more gentler experience. There is also Linux as well as Android, but your basic choice is Apple or Don’t expect a Windows 11. So it boils down how agile you are in IT terms and what your current needs are and what possible course you steer in the next five years within the IT evolution with its constant increased capabilities with associated system changes and upgrades.

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