Saturday salon 4/3

1. Mining invades the ABC

This report gives a factual account of four appointments, two each to the ABC and SBS boards, recently announced by the Government.

The one that raised eyebrows is Vanessa Guthrie who chairs the Minerals Council of Australia and was formerly CEO of Toro Energy. She is also the deputy chair of the Western Australia Cricket Association and an independent director of the Murlpirrmurra Connection.

She’s a woman and from WA, but there is little doubt the appointment has ideological intent.

See Fairfax, The Guardian, Macrobusiness and Antinuclear. This from Antinuclear gives some idea of what this is about:

    The government has been fiercely critical of the ABC’s coverage of energy, with Resources Minister Matt Canavan accusing it in December of running “fake news” as part of a campaign against the proposed Adani coalmine in Queensland.

    The ABC was also accused of bias against the NSW Shenhua coal mine proposal but was cleared by a review.

    The Institute of Public Affairs – which has spawned a number of Coalition MPs – claims the ABC has a “systemic bias”, giving the renewable energy industry favourable coverage but showing hostility towards coal and other fossil fuels.

    In an interview with the Australian Financial Review last year, Dr Guthrie attacked social media activism against fossil fuels, taking aim at “inner-city smashed avocado eaters” for unfairly targeting coal and the minerals industry more broadly…….

Guthrie didn’t make the shortlist of the review panel. The Government went past them and plucked her out.

2. If you complain in public, Centrelink will come after you

Labor MP Linda Burney has asked the Australian Federal Police to determine whether Human Services Minister Alan Tudge broke the law by disclosing a welfare recipient’s personal information to a journalist.

What happened was that this:

    Blogger Andie Fox wrote an opinion piece for Fairfax Media early in February claiming Centrelink had “terrorised” her over a debt she claimed she did not owe.

    A few weeks later, her personal details were supplied to a journalist who wrote a comment piece from the Government’s perspective, raising the prospect that Centrelink had been “unfairly castigated”.

    Public servants have told a Senate Estimates hearing in Canberra the “protected” information was collated by DHS officials and approved for release by Human Services Minister Alan Tudge’s office.

Centrelink claims they do this to correct the record, and, it seems, as a deterrent to others.

The Guardian says the information mistakenly included unauthorised information about her relationship history, including when she separated from her partner.

There are stories that public servants are trawling through social media sites looking for whingers.

Ben Eltham looks at the issue with his usual thoroughness and finds statements made by Kathryn Campbell, the Secretary of the Department of Human Services, to Senate’s Community Affairs committee distinctly Orwellian. Any data supplied to any department can be used against you.

3. Penalty rates are freaking the Government out

Penalty rates have become the Government’s No 1 problem, says Phillip Coorey in the AFR. Turnbull’s strategy has been to let them happen and carry on about Bill Shorten’s hypocrisy. After eight days he’s decided to defend them as being a ‘good thing’.

The only problem with this is that a lot of people struggling to keep it all together are taking a pay cut, while Turnbull, ScoMo and all are planning to make costs-of-living a major theme in the May budget. Abbott, helpful as always is goading that “Against Labor’s pitch of high wages versus low wages, we need to pitch high wages versus no wages.”

The real problem is that ReachTEL polling of five LNP held regional seats shows that all five could fall on this issue alone.

The seats are:

    The five seats are Page on the far-north coast of New South Wales; Dawson in northern Queensland; Corangamite in Victoria’s coastal west; Leichhardt in Queensland’s far north; and the electorate of Brisbane.

Katherine Murphy reckons penalty rates have derailed the Coalition, just as it was getting up a head of steam on coal.

4. Christensen won’t go over a cliff with Turnbull’s mob

One of those five seats, Dawson, is held by the rather noisy George Christensen.

Around 20 or so regional MPs and senators, including Malcolm Turnbull, gathered in Bundaberg in Queensland’s Wide Bay on this weekend to talk tactics for the upcoming state election and what to do about One Nation.

Christensen declared the the government was going over a cliff and he wasn’t going to go with them, completely upstaging the meeting.

I think it’s question of when, not whether.

5. Big companies doing well

The poor may be taking a haircut, but ASX companies are doing well. The Green Left Weekly has the answer – Let’s raise company taxes, not cut them:

    Company profits have skyrocketed, while real wages have fallen. This is the harsh reality of the class war being pursued by Australia’s big-business rulers, as underlined by the latest Bureau of Statistics figures released on February 27.

    In the last three months of last year, profits surged by a massive 20%, while wages fell by 0.5%. Over 2016, profits were up 26%, while wages grew by a mere 1%, less than the inflation rate of 1.5% — effectively a wage cut.

    This profit explosion was based on an increase in mining corporation earnings of almost 50% and a construction sector profit rise of 32%.

81 thoughts on “Saturday salon 4/3”

  1. The ABC’s bias is real and perhaps the government is right to call it out. But the ABC is outclassed by an order of magnitude by the governments own appointment bias. This is yet another very patent example.

    Sadly, it also tells me that the government is still so detached from public scrutiny, accountability and perception that it can continue to display its arrogance so blatantly.

    I’m sure I am not alone in despairing over our present government, nor greatly encouraged by the prospect of a Labor government. ON offers an opportunity to fracture the stranglehold of the two majors. Trouble is, its only an opportunity and not a sure thing. The Greens got into strife because of their allegiance with Gillard and are still adrift.
    Perhaps we need someone a la Trump but only a fraction as inept.

  2. That’s true John. I’m watching Trump’s fight with the media. I have always been critical of media bias and their abandonment of “news” for “entertainment”. But now they seem the only barrier to Trump being totally wild and unaccountable. I am as uncomfortable now as I was when Khrushchev was banging his shoe on the table in the UN and a nuclear war seemed very likely.
    To think that Trump, who is deeply flawed in many ways including psychologically, holds the atomic codes is just scary.

  3. People seem to struggle with the idea that company tax is just as regressive as the GST since both affect the price of goods and services no matter who is using them.
    Australians may actually be better of if:
    1. Corporate tax was reduced to the point where Australia became a country that was attractive enough for international companies to want to pay their taxes in.
    2. The GST was increased enough to at least offset any net loss due to the reductions in corporate tax.
    3. GST increases for the poor were offset by the introduction of a UBI large enough to make the GST cost neutral for the poor.
    4. The GST was levied on exports so that we at least get something from the BHP’s of the world who reduce their corporate taxes by selling at a low price to subsidiaries in low corporate tax countries,
    5. The government admitted that the Howard tax cuts were paid for by wasting the benefits of the mining boom and that these tax cuts should be cancelled.
    Here endeth this Sundays lesson.

  4. John, I think we’ll have to go with low company taxes and high GST simply because that’s the way most comparable economies are going.

    Increased ‘transfer’ payments, basically welfare or UBI, is part of the deal, even though it increases churning.

  5. Why do the State Govts never on the hook when the perception ( real or not ) is that resource Companies don’t pull their weight ?

    They can set royalties levels, on behalf of the Citizens of the State ( the owners of the resources ) to anything they deem fair.

    The States are responsible for health, education and Police.

  6. One of the basic problems with royalties is that they have to be paid at the outset and always, irrespective of how the firm is placed financially.

    So they have to be paid at the beginning, before the company has had any return on capital expenditure.

    The also have to be paid even if the price received and the currency fluctuations chew up the profits.

  7. Jumpy, 4% is common, not the average. But thanks for the link. A substantial number of minerals are still in ‘per tonne’ terms. Perhaps there is a trend to ex-mine value because of reasons I cited above.

  8. Brian: Royalties are paid on the basis of sales and the price received. Real problem is that state governments cut their prices in the hope that businesses will set up in their states instead of those other states.
    Business must love this completion. A good reason to charge the GST on mineral exports.

  9. I’d prefer higher royalties so that the State residents that own the resources get the benefits over GST doled out to the charity States that have no claim.

  10. Royalties “paid on the basis of sales and the price received” means that profitability doesn’t come into it. I guess it catches the internationals who are apt to shift profits offshore.

  11. That seems OK Jumpy but then again t is not much in the spirit of Australia being one nation. I’m not sure that just because we divided ourselves into states that all the assets were suddenly the sole property of one state or another.

    Royalties can always be discussed and assessed in different ways. I always come back to wondering why our government(s) are not significant shareholders in the projects. Instead they engage in “races to the bottom” in their quest to attract the enterprise by discounting statutory charges, supplying infrastructure and changing laws.
    I also get concerned that rehabilitation of sites is inadequately provisioned and that at the end of the economic life the entity is short of funds for the clean up. Either the government pays or it just is not done.

  12. The WA Nationals want to increase the royalty paid on iron ore mined in Western Australia. The Mining Council has responded with wall to wall advertising claiming that the money will go straight to Sydney and Melbourne. According to them we will wear the inevitable job losses without receiving any financial benefit. The campaign is a classic of rent-seeker scare mongering.

  13. Geoff

    Australia is Constitutionally a Federation of States, it’s just the Federal Governments relentless encroachment seems to have absolved States of fiscal responsibility and unaccountable for their service delivery shortcomings. We only ever talk about Fed stuff unless a State election is imminent.
    Everyone seems to forget what is in the overarching Law document we all live under.
    It’s a free phone app ffs, I’ve had it for years.

    ( P.S. 5 for 181. 9 runs behind )

  14. Brian: UBI may involve more churn but it will save admin costs if it is set to replace the dole and pensions as well as removing the disincentives for people on welfare to work.

  15. I reckon the history about how we came together as one nation is history. Now we are Australians first and Queenslanders, Tasmanians etc second. We need to have access to the same basic provisions, opportunities and support independent of our post code. Wayne Swan wrote a book about it!

  16. Now we are Australians first and Queenslanders, Tasmanians etc second.

    I think that is the fundamental difference in perspective between you and I.
    I put Me, my Family, suburb, Town, State ,Country.
    Grass roots over Nationalism.

  17. On Swan, and I haven’t read the book, he confuses equality of opportunity and equality of outcome. We should have the first but will never have the second.

  18. ALP has been committed to equality of outcome for decades. St Gough, for example, constantly repeated that refrain.

    Why should vast suburbs remain unsewered?
    Why should children at poor schools (including parish Catholic schools) have inferior equipment and classrooms?
    Why should outback Aboriginals live in squalor?

    Pretty basic stuff; the domain of State and Federal governments. But neglected. So he devised a program, a plan, to improve equality of opportunity.

    Won a fairly narrow victory in 1972, and commenced the renovation work.

    As far as I recall, St Gough never aimed at equality of outcome; he was no utopian, and mocked the Victorian ALP Old Guard (later called the Socialist Left faction): “Certainly you can remain ‘pure’, but the pure are impotent!”

    [Apologies if the attempted quote from Scripture is inaccurate.]

  19. Jumpy, you are not entitled to comment on Swan’s stuff if you haven’t read it.

    No-one I know over the last 40 years has seriously advocated equality of outcomes. It’s manifestly impossible as well as being undesirable as we aspire to our own individual potential.

    As to equality of opportunity, ideally the daughters and sons of the poor should have access to the same quality education, health and justice as the rich.

  20. I put Me, my Family, suburb, Town, State ,Country.
    Grass roots over Nationalism.

    I didn’t mention nationalism.

    I think we should embrace the whole human race, and indeed all God’s creatures, apart from pests, dangerous bugs and viruses and such.

    Along with Fukuyama, I believe we need a competent state (country) for a civilised life, and have no objection to my taxes being used to provide support and indeed equality of opportunity to all in our country.

  21. Fukuyama, that is an interesting choice Brian. Not that I have read any of his, but just the little bit I know about him. Didn’t his ‘end of history’ stuff not create some controversy and put him deep into neo-liberal territory? And yeah civil society, that is another hairy chestnut. Like the ancient question how are we to live. Peter Singer asked “Is there anything worth living for beyond the world of my own self-interest?”

  22. Brian

    Jumpy, you are not entitled to comment on Swan’s stuff if you haven’t read it.

    Excuse me but I didn’t give a book review !
    As my Treasurer for 5 long years and Deputy PM for 3, I allow myself the ” entitlement ” to comment on Swans stuff, even if you don’t.
    Inequality of opportunity has very little to do with Government in Australia. Inequality of outcome has even less.

  23. So what’s your theory on inequality then jumpy? It is easy to snipe at everyone from the rampart. What makes you think you are right all the time? On which pile did your wisdom sprout from?

  24. So what’s your theory on inequality then jumpy?

    There are no Laws in Australia that prevent inequality of opportunity. Inequality of outcome depends mainly on Individual choices, family and cultural influences.

    It is easy to snipe at everyone from the rampart. What makes you think you are right all the time? On which pile did your wisdom sprout from?

    Personal attack ignored.

  25. Really ?
    Name a Law that promotes inequality of opportunity and I’ll join you in fighting it Ootz anagram.

  26. Don’t be so jumpy snowflake. Let me rephrase then, back up your claims! Such as, what laws are you referring to? Can you point to them so we can follow your argument. What underlying thinking, theory or authority do you use to interpret those laws. Don’t ask us to provide evidence for your claims. Generally I make an effort to back up my arguments in a debate and point to the pile of knowledge where that thinking comes from, only to be accused of boasting with my reading by some people we know.

    Contrary to what you may think, I have it within me to agree with you if you can hold a reasonable debate where in you can substantiate your claim and provide reliable and valid information. I do have an open mind and most which i have learned is by asking questions and having the grace to change my mind if an someone’s else’s argument stacks up. Can you say that of yourself?

  27. Haha, the Alinsky-o-metre is redlining !

    You ask for my Theory, I gave it.

    There are no Laws in Australia that prevent equality of opportunity. Inequality of outcome depends mainly on Individual choices, family and cultural influences.

    Agree or not ?

  28. Oh, as for the Snowflake stab, I’ll go gloves off if you wish, but not here. I respect our host.

  29. I don’t care jumpy because you never care either and you were the first to sport that jab on this forum. What I care for is that you put a decent argument up, which follows logic and is backed up by valid and reliable evidence. Give me the evidence of your claim that individual choices, family and cultural influences are behind inequality of outcome, and you need to explain what ever that means too can you point us to the main proponent of that thinking or theory? Otherwise we can just assume you are making things up as you go.

  30. Really ?

    Yes, really.
    You wrote

    There are no Laws in Australia that prevent inequality of opportunity.

    which is correct.

    Why so belligerent?

  31. Jumpy …. again … but slowly …. please …. how do you reason and support and where does that idea come from, that

    “Inequality of outcome depends mainly on Individual choices, family and cultural influences.

    If you can’t back that up you are just full of yourself.

    NB. Please note I am not saying your right or wrong I am just calling you out to back it up. I and everyone else here can usually back up their arguments. So it is only fair enough for you to do the same when you make such claims.
    .

  32. Jumpy you obviously have never done serious debating

    You make a claim, thus you have to back it up. It is irrelevant what I or the man in the moon thinks if you can’t back it up.

    Logic would have it, that if I don’t disagree does not prove that you are right. Put it this way, as an agnostic I am open to your argument but you are obliged to back it up otherwise you are just full of yourself.

    I ask again on what basis do you claim that

    Inequality of outcome depends mainly on Individual choices, family and cultural influences.

  33. Ok good folk, I’ll call back again tomorrow after work, must sleep now.
    It’d be good to talk of the guts of the issue rather than be deflected by the process police.

    G’nite.

  34. Ootz , I think you must have been away when I wrote a fair bit about Fukuyama, mostly in comments. I don’t think I ever did a post on him.

    What I wrote was on the basis of reading his The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution. It was published in 2012, and he himself has moved on from his End of History thing which was written two decades earlier, I think. It’s 483 pages of scholarly text, with 45 pages of notes and bibliography that runs for 20 pages. I understand he has a second volume from 1889 onwards.

    The central story is about the emergence of the competent, democratic nation state.

    I don’t want to try again to restate the key elements he sees necessary, as it would take time and I might get it wrong.

    In the work he specifically says what we currently have is not the best possible, and the story isn’t over.

    Jumpy always goes for a minimalist state. I see a state that actively does things to enhance the opportunities of all citizens for personal growth and satisfaction.

  35. Jumpy, I link to Wayne swan’s book Postcode, and you assert:

    On Swan, and I haven’t read the book, he confuses equality of opportunity and equality of outcome.

    Then you defend yourself by saying that Swan has been your Treasurer for 5 long years and Deputy PM for 3, so you know about “his stuff”.

    Swan was an academic before he went into politics, and if you look at what he says and writes he always respects evidence.

    His postcode book was written back in 2005, when he had a concern for a million working Australians who were actually living in poverty, and the struggling middle-income Australians who were wondering when they would see some of Australia’s growth.

    That’s from the blurb. He was onto the problems that spawned Brexit, Trump and Pauline Hanson back then.

    I the book he set out what a Labor government might do “to promote economic equality and deal with a dangerous level of social exclusion…”

    The truth is that he found it difficult when we was at the helm of the treasury benches, but tried. In his book The Good Fight: Six years, two prime ministers and staring down the Great Recession I think he is honest about how hard it was and why he did not achieve as much as he would have liked.

    I don’t think it is fair or helpful for you to make negative assertions about his thinking without evidence or elaboration.

  36. Thanks Brian I will have to read your writing on Fukuyama, could you point me at least to key posts.

    To cheaply dismiss Swan’s profound understanding of inequality and consistent focus on “fair go” with some half cooked and dated Milton Friedman concepts and without any coherent and well founded argument is just ludicrous. Moreover, to dismiss him as a treasurer just on ones own experience and relying on the Murdoch propaganda, blaming Swan for earlier rise in inequality which was in actual fact happening under Howard and not reporting the subsequent drop in inequality, is just blind ideology. And a self handicapping one at that, which usually goes with the constant insinuations about “lifters and leaners” (I am working hard, what are you lazy bastard’s doing) which is straight out of Ayn Rand type thinking.

    I am no labor fan boy, nor uncritical of Swan, but what he and Rudd did, based on Ken Henry’s strong advice, to save our collective arses during GFC will carry him much more historical credit than Howard’s wasted mining boom and blowing up the middle east with Bush the younger.

    To argue for a minimal state to address inequality, when wealthy people like Warren Buffett and a series of Nobel prize wining economists, from Stieglitz, Krugman and Picketty et al point to structural problems within capitalism and ‘free markets’, is just plain bonkers. Though I disagree with one thing Wayne Swan proposed or banks his motivation for the ‘class struggle’ and ‘battle of ideas’. Although admirable, but it will not work! You can’t ‘battle’ ignorance and anti-intellectualism, as research indicates that “it is often the people that are most economically or socially disadvantaged that defend the status quo most fervently.”

  37. Ootz, that is an interesting link about Swan, which dates from 2012. It includes this quote:

    The share of income going to the top 20 per cent of earners ”rose to 47.6 per cent in 2007-08 before easing back to 46.7 per cent in 2009-10”. Inequality in fact fell on Swan’s watch.

    Swan’s memoir book says the inequality actually fell in Oz over the whole six-year period he was there. It was hard-won, with revenue tanking and having to find money for Gillard’s big ticket items like education.

    I’m sure those gains have since been lost.

  38. Ootz, I’ve searched for the Fukuyama comments and can’t find them. I think it may have been late 2015. I’m a bit more distanced from the material now, but I still have the book.

    F goes into the development of political order in Europe, China, India and the Muslim world from tribal societies to the end of the 18th century (I said 1889 further up, make that 1789). The last section is Part V: Towards a theory of political development.

    At the time, from memory, he sees England as having the best path to a decent modern state, but says it was more good fortune than anything intrinsic, or unique in the way they went about things. From memory also, Denmark was a comparable case.

    Major components making up a state-like political entity are kin, property, religion, culture/language/ethnicity and geography.

    In ancient China, for example, power was held by families. If a ruling family was toppled, it would be exterminated, down to the last woman and child, to make sure there would be no revenge.

    I recall he was particularly interesting on the role of the church in developing the rule of law in Europe, and the relationship of the church to the concept of family.

    You need a strong and capable state, capable of extracting fair and stable taxation and providing basic services, including rule of law, justice, safety etc.

    He dwells a lot on administrative competence, and how some regimes used eunuchs, slaves, or special classes of people who must be educated in the necessary skills.

    He stresses the state needing to have the final monopoly on force.

    Finally, he stresses the need for accountability or the rulers to the ruled. This is a factor even in an absolute monarchy, but it is where democracy comes in and would always occupy a place in any decent modern society.

    Some of his reviewers try to show that they are cleverer and know more than he does, which is common with reviews. John Keane’s review is mainly about the second tome, which I haven’t read, but a number of statements he makes simply don’t gel with what I read in the first.

  39. Am I the only one that sees income inequality as an inequality outcome rather than an inequality of opportunity ?
    According to this mob Australia have a very high level of economic mobility.
    Maybe its linked to Australias very high level of internal migration
    To me thats individuals deciding to leave shit circumstances for better postcodes and improving themselves.
    We should encourage internal economic migration.

  40. Thanks jumpy, honestly really appreciate your effort to contribute to the debate and good point too.

    Thanks Brian, I’ll follow up on Fukuyama. To me history is one of the best teacher and a sense of it helps to put present situations into proportions. That was a interesting time leading up to and post GFC. I remember how Swan got ridiculed by the Murdoch press about his Springsteen speeches. It really stirred him up because he was genuine on the inequality issue. It really stirred him up .

    “The link between mobility and inequality. We have more mobility in Australia than in America. But it’s what’s under threat when you remove safeguards and opportunities. We don’t talk about that link. Of course we don’t.”

    The great depression was not overcome with ‘mobility’, although it was at first the only choice to many unfortunates for not much gain every which way. Even here in Cairns itinerants were hated and at some stage got bashed up by the local establishment fired up by the local Cairns Post. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. Although today “bad people” tend to be muslim.

  41. Ootz

    The great depression was not overcome with ‘mobility’, although it was at first the only choice to many unfortunates for not much gain every which way. Even here in Cairns itinerants were hated and at some stage got bashed up by the local establishment fired up by the local Cairns Post.

    Link to Cairns itinerant bashings during the Great Depression please.
    In alignment with the standard you set.
    “Some ” would be 3 or more I’m guessing.

  42. I am delighted jumpy, you are a fast learner 🙂

    Although there are various sources and and documents referring to The Battle of Parramatta Park, Cairns, During the Great Depression, my preferred source is Timothy Bottoms’ A History of Cairns – City of the South Pacic (1770-1995). This chap wrote this popular history book as a phD and so it is meticulously researched. As It happens he put the Battle of Paramatta section on to the net. But really the whole depression period is interesting as experienced by the punters and as it happen politically. Local histories, specially if they are written inclusively and reflect honestly on the times there were, are a real treasures to expand ones knowledge and get a grasp on a place.

    I am very enthusiastic about your new found questioning, please continue to pursue this habit never mind where the info comes from.

  43. I could be mistaken about the Cairns Post in that particular incident, it is awhile since i read that story, but I am sure they played a crucial role in that episode and I am absolute certain they fired up the settlers sentiment against the local Bama during the frontier war. I’ll find the relevant parts for you if I get a chance.

  44. & secon meeting was hel the following Thursay evening 50 June3, at theCairns City Council Chambers, where the 8ayor o=ere to buil a tem”oraryshelter until the show was over,
    viii
    as well as lobby the state an feeralgovernments for assistance in creating wor+ for the unem”loye$ owever, theunem”loye wante “ermanent shelter, not tem”orary, an obviously felt that thiswas “robably the only time they woul be able to bargain for it$

    Didn’t copy and paste well but the guts of it was ,Town ” the Show is on, we’ll give you temp accom till its over and you can squat there again “. Answer ” NO !! we want permanent houses ” . reply ” Oh, alright, piss off then ” .

    But I was talking about now, not 90 years ago.

  45. Am I the only one that sees income inequality as an inequality outcome rather than an inequality of opportunity ?

    Jumpy, I confess to not understanding this statement.
    As far as I can tell, inequality of income results from inequality of opportunity as much as anything else, but you seem to be saying otherwise.
    I’d be grateful if you would expand on your comment.

  46. 2. If you complain in public, Centrelink will come after you

    How silly can they get? If the government is really keen to demonstrate that they are unfit to be in government – and incompetent as well – they should just allow stunts like this to be perpetrated.

    It’s covered in Basic Politics 1.03: Why Regimes Fail.

    There’s also talk going around that Dept. Of Veterans’ Affairs will “expose(??)” the military service records of ex-Diggers who vex them. Wow! I can hardly wait to read that Private Bloggs was charged with being drunk-and-disorderly one Saturday night back in 1969. News like this will surely drive anything about North Korea or The Recession-We-Are-Not-Really-Having off prime-time TV. Besides being unfair, this sort of vindictiveness is a marker of administrative incompetence and it calls for the early termination of the bunglers’ employment contracts.

  47. The political fulcrum at the moment is at the governments internal wedges, reactionary ideology splitting the liberal party as much as the Nationals from coalition. Tim Colebatch wrote a interesting article A former leader’s advice: in a crisis, have the courage to break with the past. Wherein he pleads with the National leader to follow McEwan and Curtin, of whom McEwan said:”He faced up to this (inexperienced in government and facing a war) without a flinch, and I admire his courage and sense of duty.

    Curtin had to decide whether he would go along with the historic attitude his party had taken to conscription, or pick up the responsibilities of the prime minister of a country at war. He did the latter, showing a willingness to take on people in his own party when he felt that the well-being of Australia required it. I think Curtin was a very great man.”

    Coalbatch finishes his detailed and reasoned argument with:
    “If the Nationals are frightened of One Nation, then the Coalition needs to treat it like the opponent it is, exposing its idiocies, while tackling the problems that are generating its support. But the votes the Coalition needs to win back to get over 50 per cent of the vote are not to its right but in the middle, and that is the direction it needs to move in, and govern from.

    Only one person can take the lead in doing that. It is John McEwen’s heir, Barnaby Joyce. He needs to match the old leader’s foresight, courage, and sense of responsibility. ”

    Let’s see if Joyce has got it in him step up to the plate and serve for the benefit of the whole nation by taken his constituents with him to a unified and functional coalition/government. After all, he prides himself to be a retail politician.

  48. zoot

    “”Am I the only one that sees income inequality as an inequality outcome rather than an inequality of opportunity ?””

    Jumpy, I confess to not understanding this statement.

    G’day zoot,
    As I linked Australia is at the top of economic mobility. That is folk moving up or down the income scale.
    The opportunity levels for are Australians, from a Government perspective, are, if anything weighted toward areas of women and minority groups. There are no impediments from the State to opportunity.
    Outcomes, including wealth ( income ) however cover a very large spectrum that I can only explain with my theory.

    There are no Laws in Australia that prevent inequality of opportunity. Inequality of outcome depends mainly on Individual choices, family and cultural influences.

    I would dearly like this theory tested on the field of the battle of ideas, perhaps changing ” mainly ” to ” always ” but I recognise health as a factor that could be sometimes due to plain old bad luck and not genetic or behavioural as is mostly the case as I see it.

  49. The whole world is being turned upside down for Nationals supporters. Springborg’s wedding of Liberals and Nationals in Queensland might have seemed like a good idea at the time – but it looks more and more as though the Nationals married a corpse.

    Joyce could show real statesmanship, break free of the doomed Liberals and take over both The Greens and One Nation to form a solid political bloc. He has a golden opportunity for such a bold political move – but it will never happen because all of our political masters are terrified of any sudden changes at all. Sorry, good people, the likelihood of a Prime Minister Joyce any time soon is less than 200-to-one

  50. Graham,

    How do you see an amalgam of Nationals, Greens and One Nation working?

    At face value, Greens policies seem at odds with the other two parties.

    The main overlap I can see for Greens and Nats might be in the zone of the successful and rational Landcare programmes.

    What do you have in mind?

    ***

    Ootz, Tim Colebatch is an experienced and knowledgeable writer. Amongst his work is a good biography of Dick Hamer, a ‘small-l Liberal’ Premier of Victoria. Tim used to write for The Age on economics and politics.

  51. Ootz, I linked to the Colebatch article in the post Will Barnaby Joyce save Malcolm Turnbull? It’s a good article, and no problems about it being brought in here also.

    As I said there, I don”t think Barnaby Joyce has it in him to act like McEwen.

    The Nats have always felt aggrieved because the Liberals pursued trade and other policies against their interest. Now the Nats have the Libs where they want them. They won’t change on climate change and other stuff because they actually think they are right. So the principled course for them is to stick with the policies they’ve made Malcolm follow.

  52. Jumpy, when I was doing Sociology of Education 30 or more years ago, the education system was the main conduit of class mobility, and not just for the students. For many teachers, to become a teacher was a step up or sometimes down, compared to parents’ generation.

    For students, the research back then showed that lower class kids who were smart did well in primary school. But in secondary school the influence of the per group and class expectations became dominant. Some kids persist and use success in the system to improve their lot. The fact that we have more mobility than other countries does not mean that the situation is as good as it should be.

    It’s a complex issue, and one where I haven’t kept up with the research. However, I can promise you that it’s simply a matter of individual choice is a vast oversimplification.

    Gonski had some of the answers, but those who say that teaching methodology needs a look also have a point. And that’s not the whole story.

  53. So you did Brian, I remember now, but i only just read it now and I think it is pertinent, in context of the increasing fragmentation of the government to ask where has responsible leadership gone. Never mind Barnaby, what is holding Turnbull back? what can they do to Turnbull, sink the government? He should call their bluff and lead up front and unflinching.

    Businesses want an EIS.
    Industry groups want an EIS.
    Farmers want an EIS.
    Energy experts want an EIS.
    The PM must act like a leader and stand up to the bullies.

    Jumpy as I said before (crudely I admit), it will help us if you tell us where you got this theory from, that you are so “dearly like … tested on the field of the battle of ideas”. We life in a complex world and context is everything. Given that you talk about inequality of opportunity and Inequality of outcome, I have to assume you are framing your argument around economical theory of Milton Friedman, which is about as dated as pre-transitor radios. Some contemporary economist even have it that his theories vastly contributed to the unbounded corporate and capitalistic excesses and caused the fundamental economic problems we are facing today. Friedman is also known for his supply side economics (reduce business tax) which found it’s peak during Reagan’s presidency and was dubbed by Bush the elder as “Voodoo economics”. Friedman agreed the tax cuts would reduce tax revenues and result in intolerable deficits. Nevertheless Turnbull seems to be eager at present to rekindle that experiment, in a deliberate race to the bottom with other nations. To come back to your topic today most economists, such as a row of recent Noble Prize winners, look at inequality more as structural problems within the capitalistic system and entities therein, as I understand. So it would help if you’d flesh out your theory and provide its theoretical background or a reference where you picked it up, thanks.

  54. Ambigulous: You are spot on. The rusted-on Nationals around here hate Greenies with a passion that would have been right at home in the Thirty-Years War – however, the fracking scandal and the Lock-The-Gate movement threw them together. As they say, “politics makes strange bed-fellows” and, “a week in politics is a long time”. Whilst the rank-and-file of The Greens and of the Nationals would have to be kept apart by razor-wire; the decision makers in the Nationals and The Greens are probably discovering that they now have a lot more in common than they used to think.

    There is disquiet among some One Nation enthusiasts as that party drifts towards Trumpery and Ultra-Right folly. That Made-in-the USA attack on immunization shocked one fellow who said, “I voted for her because I thought she was an Australian. Here she is saying the same thing as those xxxx bible-banging Yank xxxxs about immunization”. Isolated outburst? Perhaps. Though other supporters seem worried about similar trends in One Nation. However, until Hell freezes over or the Nationals ditch the Libs (whichever comes first), they will not go back to voting Nationals or Labor.

  55. Ootz

    Jumpy as I said before (crudely I admit), it will help us if you tell us where you got this theory from, that you are so “dearly like … tested on the field of the battle of ideas”.

    It’s just a position I’ve arrived at through observation , my logic and yes listening to input from other sources.
    Some sources would agree and others not.
    I follow no Demigods of supreme infallibility that must be slavishly parroted.

    My Theory seems to have held up with no rebuttal of its substance here so far, so it can’t be far from the mark.

    Again,

    There are no Laws in Australia that prevent equality of opportunity. Inequality of outcome depends mainly on Individual choices, family and cultural influences.

    Do you agree or disagree ?

  56. Thanks Graham,

    You have put more recent events and trends in perspective. This will be an interesting year.

    Jumpy: it might be wise not to accord your hypothesis the grand title of Theory, for the time being.

  57. Jumpy, if I’ve understood you properly you seem to be saying that since no laws in Australia prevent equality of opportunity, when people experience unequal outcomes it is not because of inequality of opportunity, but because of other factors such as individual strengths and weaknesses, or cultural differences.
    I would counter that your model requires the assumption that everybody has equal opportunities, which is demonstrably not true.
    While he was growing up Ernie Dingo did not have the same opportunities as, for example, Gina Hancock (now Rinehart), even though they grew up in the same region of Australia.
    As you rightly state, there is no Australian law prohibiting equality of opportunity, but there is no law mandating it either.

  58. While he was growing up Ernie Dingo did not have the same opportunities as, for example, Gina Hancock (now Rinehart), even though they grew up in the same region of Australia.

    Both improved their lot. Good on both, no envy here.

    I would counter that your model requires the assumption that everybody has equal opportunities, which is demonstrably not true.

    No.
    My model states that Government isn’t an impediment to equality of opportunity, to which you agree.

    As you rightly state, there is no Australian law prohibiting equality of opportunity, but there is no law mandating it either.

    There are plenty that mandate non-discrimination of opportunity.

    I have tested this theory in other places and been slightly undone on employment quotas which are definitely discriminatory but these are normally departmental policies that are fundamentally illegal.

  59. Point one:

    Both improved their lot. Good on both, no envy here.

    Agreed, which is why I used them as an example, but I did not use them as an example of outcomes.
    Are you saying that Ernie and Gina had equality of opportunity?

  60. Jumpy not sure how you can conclude that there is no Australian law prohibiting equality of opportunity, when the news are full of homeless people, struggling first home buyers etc. and various tax laws under fire. There has been a substantial shift of wealth towards the rich globally, which has to some extend being masked in Australia by general growth of wealth. Nevertheless Australia is now waking up as a divided nation.

    Your simplistic one dimensional approach to inequality is demonstrated by your comment re the riot in Cairns. To ‘manage’ inequality and wealth distribution by cops and mob bashing ‘mobile’ jobseekers is nothing but reactionary ‘feel good’ solution. Yes they were asked to leave and yes they did not leave their previously designated camp. However, what you neglect to acknowledge is, in exchange to leave the show grounds, they asked for a permanent solution instead of being just shuffled around. Instead, rather than addressing the underlying problem, the cities establishment decided to teach those ‘itinerants’ a lesson. Did it solve anything, yes the town got its annual show underway, and it divided a community. More so, it made no contribution towards solving the immediate problems of unemployed in Cairns nor the fundamental problems of the depression.

    ‘The new Deal’ is universally being accepted as having been the circuit breaker to end the great depression. Rater than cops and mobs ‘punishing’ the underprivileged, a true leader set in place structural change to address flailing economy, massive unemployment and inequality:

    It never seems to have dawned on these critics, such as Henry Hazlitt of the New York Times and economist Benjamin M. Anderson of the Chase National Bank, that deflation was a decidedly unnatural phenomenon caused by the Federal Reserve’s mistakes, not those of workers and businessmen. Yet the critics expected the entire burden of adjustment to be borne by them as if it was their fault that the nation was in an economic depression.

    The critics were also totally opposed to deficit spending. As with Republicans today, they said that federal borrowing would simply draw funds out of productive uses in the private sector to be squandered on make-work government jobs, pork barrel projects of dubious value and welfare programs that would sap the dynamism of the American economy.

    Apparently, it didn’t occur to these critics that the existence of vast unemployment, closed factories, abandoned farms and extremely low interest rates meant that much of the private sector’s resources were simply idle. Borrowing them by running deficits didn’t reduce private output because there were no alternative uses available.

    Jumpy, maybe there is a lesson in there somewhere for your outdated Friedman based economic arguments and embedded false dichotomies, which have to hallmark of One Nation. The world is complex, it’s problems are complex and if you want to address them with simple black and white reactionary thinking you will not solve anything and more likely create more problems including for yourself. But if you insist to have won the argument be my guest, because that’s it for me on this topic.

  61. Ootz, maybe there is a lesson somewhere for your outdated Marxist based arguments and embedded false dichotomies, which have to hallmark of Hugo Chávez. The world is complex, it’s problems are complex and if you want to address them with simple black and white reactionary thinking you will not solve anything and more likely create more problems including for yourself.

  62. Point two:

    There are plenty [of laws] that mandate non-discrimination of opportunity.

    Are you acknowledging that government has a role to play in ensuring equality of opportunity? By its very nature discrimination reduces equality.

  63. Are you acknowledging that government has a role to play in ensuring equality of opportunity?

    Now, only the judicial arm in Australia.

    By its very nature discrimination reduces equality.

    Yes, show me a Law that discriminates opportunity and we can fight it together.

  64. marxist welfare recipients to blame for Centrelink debt system failures, Senate inquiry told by secretary of the Department of Human Services, Kathryn Campbell . And apparently the press was not helpful, thats why

    Meanwhile,

    The CPSU national secretary, Nadine Flood, said years of funding cuts and poor policy decisions had reduced the department’s ability to act as a cornerstone of the welfare system and Australian society.

    The department has lost 4776 full time equivalent positions since 2010-11.

    Flood said 36m calls to Centrelink went unanswered last year. She said staff were reporting an increased level of client distress and frustration.

    “What we see currently is a very human price being paid, both by clients … and the people who work for the department themselves,” Flood said. “It is not an exaggeration to say that the Department of Human Services is an agency in crisis, and it’s not something I say lightly,” she said.

    Tripled the deficit … tick
    Doubled electricity prices … tick
    Increased Carbon emission … tick
    Buggered energy security … tick
    Stuff up NBN … tick

    Now they can’t even look after the most vulnerable in a professional and decent way. We had a related suicide already and thousands affected with anxiety and grief for a pittance of return anticipated. Anyone remember the pink bat outrage … well?

  65. sorry left this out
    “And apparently the press was not helpful, thats why …” DHS staff is under surveillance and reporters get their personal files published. We can’t have free speech for whisleblowing, but we must have free speech to abuse. Minister Tudge is lucky to have a brigadier staring down the marxist hordes.That is the reason Turnbull’s hand picked Paul Shettler left the DTA, because he could foresee the train crash happening and could not do a thing due to the obstinacy of DHS.

    “”Generally speaking they were difficult to work with and very, very defensive. ‘Nothing is wrong, everything is good, the house is burning down but everything is fine.'””

    Apparently public welfare warrants a ‘defensive’ approach and ‘command and control’ leadership.

    I ask, is there not a middle way between jackboots and Hugo Chavez? How low can we go?

  66. Yes, show me a Law that discriminates opportunity and we can fight it together.

    Jumpy, I’m sorry, I’ve tried to engage with your argument but it seems we don’t speak the same language. What do you mean by “discriminates opportunity”?

  67. Ootz

    “Welfare recipients failed to engage…..”

    An unrealistic criticism of the welfare recipients.
    As has been mentioned over and over again, it is difficult (verging on the impossible) for some of them to engage.

    Put aside the debt notices for a moment.

    1. The myGov website is very poor. I have used it now and then over the last five years or so: it can be unclear, painfully slow, ‘letters’ from Centrelink posted there can simply disappear. The user tries to open a letter and can’t.

    2. Phone contact can be ridiculously hard. Long waits, person can’t answer question, duck shoving etc.

    3. Face-to-face is the best, in my experience. In our small, regional town the office staff are helpful and generally well-informed. Apparently some offices aren’t as good. I wonder how they cope in suburbs where thirty languages are spoken?

    NOW overlay the new debt recovery program.

    4. Failure to respond when letter sent to old address. Debt notice follows, possibly with professional debt collectors in attendance.

    5. Notice of alleged debt arrives at correct address, recipient tries 1. and/or 2. while worried sick that their pension may cease.

    6. How many in 5. would engage a lawyer or welfare advocate to help out?

    7. “Debt” incorrectly calculated, e.g. because of averaging, or data entry mistake, or employer records incorrect, or two employees with same surname [what are the chances, eh?]

    8. Recipient has not thought to keep payslips from many years ago, because income tax returns etc. have all been submitted and checked by ATO ages ago.

    All of this covered by Brian’s earlier posts, illuminated by several analytical journalists and Brian’s mathematician son.

    By the way, did you notice that ATO spokespersons at the Senate inquiry said that ATO just provides the income data to DHS but is not responsible for what DHS does with it?

    Subtext Yeah, we reckon their “algorithm” that averages income is as dodgy as people have said it is.

    First Dog on the Moon, over at Guardian Australia has invented a new verb: to tudge.

    It’s not pleasant.

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