Saturday salon 22/7

1. Turnbull’s Kim Jong-un moment

One of two big stories this week, from the SMH, Peter Dutton to head merged ASIO, AFP and Border Force super security department. However, Paula Matthewson at The New Daily captured the spirit of the thing by focussing on the optics in Hilarious and menacing at the same time: Turnbull’s Kim Jong-un moment. When Abbott made a national security announcement, this is what we got:

This is Turnbull:

The scary bit, however was this (from The Conversation):

Peter Dutton will head up a new mega-department containing the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), the Australian Federal Police (AFP), the Australian Border Force, and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, as well as immigration.

At first I thought it was a sensible idea – better co-ordination etc. However, apparently the various security units now coordinate extremely well, and don’t need a minister to help them, so why the change? It also downgrades each unit, coming under a new umbrella department formed out of the Office of National Assessments.

Also Cabinet will now only have advice from one minister rather than three.

Finally, though, it puts too much power in one person’s hands.

As Ambigulous said:

    What could possibly go wrong?

Furthermore, immigration is now firmly embedded in a security frame, rather a social/economic one.

2. Australian woman killed by police in Minneapolis

Probably the biggest story in the media was the killing of Justine Damond, also known as Justine Ruszczyk, by police in Minneapolis. This is a total tragedy, but unless you spent the week backpacking in the mountains, which is where the Minneapolis chief of police was, you will have heard plenty.

I thought police chief Janee Harteau handled the issue well:

    Conceding she had her work cut out to regain public trust, she said: “Justine didn’t have to die … this should not have happened.”

In breaking news Harteau has resigned at the request of the mayor, as part of re-establishing trust.

The rookie officer Somali-American Mohamed Noor who fired the shot exercised his constitutional right not to speak. I believe he will be obliged to speak in the administrative review, conducted by a third party, but we may not get to hear what he says.

There will also probably be a civil case.

On ABC RN we heard that there had been 554 people killed by police so far this year in the US, that’s almost three a day. I also heard that one police officer per week is shot on average. Noor may well have been jumpy, thinking they could be heading into an ambush.

Chances of anything changing in American gun laws remain at zero. Canadians have guns, but don’t use them so much to shoot each other. Something about the culture of the place?

Incidentally, my great grandmother on my father’s side was a Ruciack, very possibly a cognate name to Ruszczyk.

3. Fire ants – winning the war?

They are small, about 2-6mm in length, but are nasty, and if they win they will change our life-style, devastate wild-life, and cost us billions. Here they are on a 10c coin:

They attack in swarms, so your arm might look like this:

They can cause an anaphylactic shock in humans, and have the charming habit of chewing the eyes out of small animals.

So far outbreaks in Gladstone and Sydney have been eradicated. I think there was one also at the wharves in Brisbane. However, around the turn of the century they escaped attention and became firmly established south-west of Brisbane. Now they are found in parts of the Brisbane, Ipswich, Scenic Rim, Gold Coast and Logan City council areas.

So far around $327 million has been spent since 2001 trying to eradicate the ants, but the ants appear to be winning. Other states have been contributing, and next week ministers will be looking down the barrel of spending $300 million over the next 10 years. The cost if we don’t beat them has been estimated at $35 billion over the next 30 years.

This article tells of nests in five parks in Logan. It’s annoying that locals are not allowed to eradicate nests, and the proper authorities don’t come immediately. Too stretched.

Also I believe that if you don’t kill the whole nest a queen is likely to relocate. In the US midwest I believe they are limited only by the winter snow line.

4. Bill Shorten casts his bread upon the waters

‘Inequality kills hope’ he says as he sets out the defining mission if he wins government.

Governments need to take responsibility and do stuff that matters.

    To that end, he will promise if Labor wins the next election it will work with business to develop industries that provide jobs, end the political uncertainty over energy and climate policy, make home ownership more affordable for the working and middle class and spend more on health, and in particular Medicare.

    In contrast to Mr Shorten, Mr Turnbull delivered a full-throated defence of free trade and open markets in a speech he delivered to the Melbourne Institute on Thursday.

No more detail yet, but as Andrew Leigh told Patricia Karvelas, they have lots of existing policies that fit the theme.

I do believe in active government for the collective and individual good, so we’ll see how the man goes.

5. Party picnic

Meanwhile, if you go down to the woods this weekend in Sydney, the Liberals are having a picnic. At a special meeting of the NSW Liberal Party there will be a “tussle for soul of the Liberal Party”.

Under consideration will be a motion from the Warringah federal electorate conference (Abbott’s branch) that candidates and delegates be selected by plebiscite of members. As Michelle Grattan says, other states have plebiscites, but in NSW the Warringah blueprint is seen as radical change on steroids.

    Mr Turnbull, squeezed between factional allies who want to limit reform and militant rank-and-filers, addresses the convention on Saturday morning. He has previously indicated he is in favour of plebiscites, but looks for measured changes rather than Warringah’s full monty.

However, there is talk of all or nothing and I’ve heard of mutterings about a party split.

Whatever view prevails this weekend, in the current state of democracy in the party it will be up to State Council to decide.

Cory Bernadi stands by licking his chops. His party membership now stands at nearly 13,000 nationally with about 4,000 in New South Wales. A mere $25 will get you on board.

18 thoughts on “Saturday salon 22/7”

  1. Definitely scary, John, but then I could have used this one, which is nearly as bad:

    The photographers obviously think he’s fair game.

  2. The New Daily did a poll, and found that people on the whole think Abbott should shut up or bugger off.

    42 per cent said they were less likely to vote for the Coalition at the next election as a result of Abbott’s interventions.

    Essential Report has the LNP at 46-54 again TPP.

    On statements about politics, 45% say they’d consider voting for a new “centrist” political party, but 43% say we don’t need any new political parties. 37% say there’s not much difference between the majors.

    Sounds as though political opinion is fairly fluid.

  3. Bill Shorten was on Insiders today. Not much new, because it was a broad statement, but the intent is not to just be a small target while the LNP destroys itself, but to be a bit brave with new policies, which is to be welcomed.

    He did mention the possibility of changing to four-year fixed terms, if there is bipartisan support.

  4. My friends who know about occult things tell me somebody having a black aura is really, really, really bad. Like, bat out of hell bad. I think we have reason to be worried.

  5. Hi Paul

    I’m quite content to judge him on past actions, past speeches. Worrying enough.


  6. Apropos of nothing, I’m keenly awaiting the release of the Lionel Murphy papers by the Parlt soon. An article in Saturday’s Age gave a preview.

    Many names to conjure with: Murphy, Farquhar, Morgan Ryan, Abe Saffron. What is it about Sydney, eh?

    Astoundingly, Lionel was at one time Federal Attorney General, later a High Court Justice. A trailblazer in the Senate, as AG, and on the High Court.

    Charged, convicted, then won his appeal.

    From at least his “ASIO raid” early in the Whitlam govt, rumours of many kinds swirled around Lionel.

    For history enthusiasts with a special interest in Australia (say 1945 to 1980) this will be a signal event. A pity Lionel, Gough, Jim Cairns, Malcolm Fraser and others are no longer here to offer their thoughts.

  7. Not so much fun playing with wind farms or solar thermal though, can get a bit slicey burny there. :/

  8. Actually John I had a little grin when I wrote and sent it.
    So no, not grumpy at all.

    But seriously, there are negative externalities to all types of energy production, it’s about what we’re prepared to put up with verse the benefits.

  9. And as jovial as I always am I’ll be brave and share some Dutton spam I got this arvo;

    Today marks three years since the last people smuggling boat reached Australia.

    The Coalition has stopped the boats, secured our borders and stopped the deaths at sea.

    This has allowed the Government to close 17 detention centres, remove children from detention and save the Budget billions of dollars.

    In contrast, under Labor 50,000 people arrived on 800 boats and 1,200 people tragically died at sea.

    Only the Coalition can be trusted to keep our borders secure in the future.

  10. Yes, and they have halved the number of refugees we take on the humanitarian program. I heard that the average stay of a refugee, fleeing to another country and in a refugee camp, is around 11 years.

    As long as we are relaxed and comfortable, nothing else matters.

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