Weekly salon 7/4

1. ‘Kill Bill’ is alive and well

    “Labor has become a party of lies, negativity and grievance. They have nothing to offer but a long, dreary whinge, interrupted by falsehoods”; and for good measure: “Bill Shorten is a liar. He cannot tell the truth. There is no point being mealy-mouthed about this. He is a liar*.”

That was actually Malcolm Turnbull last July, but if you Google you get similar stuff going back to at least 2012. The asterisk was to a note saying the Turnbull had joined with Mark Latham, who had once said:

    “I’ve had personal experience with Bill Shorten’s dishonesty. He just lies and lies and lies.” For the record, Shorten has in the past accused Latham of “displaying all the attributes of a dog, except loyalty”. So, all good.

Except it is not good at all. I can’t recall the last time Shorten attacked an opposing politician personally in that way. Yet very similar words were heard from the mouth of Scott Morrison on Friday, and then in rapid succession over the next few hours I heard similar words coming from other Coalition politicians.

So Kill Bill is a formal part of ScoMo’s re-election plan. See Kill Bill or any distraction vs a fair go from last August just before Turnbull disappeared and ScoMo makes it personal from last November. Very simply, they can’t win a debate on policy, so anything goes.

I’m sure the public are sick of this behaviour. I hope they take the forthcoming chance to give the people responsible the flick.

2. Trump: when the words don’t come out right

I’m sure it was just that he was tired and had had a long day, but Trump excelled himself in talking gibberish:

    Origin stories seem to be a particular challenge for Donald Trump, not least because they sound like orange stories.
    Trump wants to distract us from the Mueller report.

    “No collusion. No obstruction,” Trump said about Russia, where his mother was no doubt tsarina in some cloudy corner of his delusions. “I hope they now go take a look at the oranges, the oranges of the investigations. The beginnings of that investigation.”

Others say Trump is just trying to distract people from the Mueller report.

The American journalist reporting to ABC’s Nightlife, not the usual bloke, said the people who worked on the Mueller report were indicating that the Barr statement we looked at last week was a whitewash. The Democrats are getting stroppy, and do have the power to subpoena. However, there are copies around and the likelihood that one will fall of the back of a truck is increasing.

3. Britain needs a Brexit compromise

Next Friday is 12 April, by which time something significant must happen on Brexit, or Britain will tumble out of the EU with no deal.

Martin Kettle says Britain needs a Brexit compromise. Forging one could be the making of Corbyn’s Labour.

The word is that if Corbyn does a deal which does not include a second referendum, he will be slaughtered by some of his own.

So who knows what will happen?

We keep hearing what Emmanuel Macron thinks. Seems he’s sick of the Brits and would like to be rid of them. Tonight we saw Angela Merkel on TV say that she would do everything possible to avoid a ‘no deal’ Brexit. She’s been around a while, knows how things work, so we can cross that one off the possibilities. Perhaps.

4. Doug Cameron bows out

    Do not go gentle into that good night,
    Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

That’s Dylan Thomas, of course, and I just put it in there because I like it, also because Doug Cameron’s Valedictory speech reminded me of it. He quotes the Leonard Cohen song:

    Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
    Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
    Everybody knows that the war is over
    Everybody knows the good guys lost
    Everybody knows the fight was fixed
    The Poor stay Poor… the rich get rich
    That’s how it goes
    Everybody knows.

I’m not sure what he means by ‘socialism’ but he sure as heck believes in it:

    The first leader of the British Labour Party… Keir Hardie… who was born in Holytown… a stone’s throw from my birthplace of Bellshill… said this:

    “Socialism is at bottom a question of ethics and morals. It has mainly to do with the relationship which should exist between man and his fellows. Therefore it is the equaliser in the position of the rich man’s too much and the poor man’s too little.”

In that first sentence he makes redundant the use of the comma… which I believe was introduced in written language as a guide to phrasing… particularly when reading aloud.

We’ll miss him. Here’s a tweet from his main page, while it’s still there:

    Neoliberalism, privatisation and competition policy has benefited the big end of town, hurt workers and caused wage stagnation. Myself and the @theamwu were pilloried by the establishment for 20 years and it’s good to see some recognition that we were right.

Of course, many others are leaving and will be missed also, including the unforgettable Christopher Pyne, Wayne Swan (yes, he’s still there), Cathy McGowan and Jenny Macklin.

5. When will the election be?

There are three days in May, but the big question is, when will ScoMo go to the GG and get the show on the road? Effectively we have been in election mode for going on eight months now, ever since Turnbull was turfed. That in itself has had a negative effect on the economy.

I think ScoMo will hang on for at least another week, because, well, he likes being PM, and there is always a chance that the electors will think he is just part of the furniture if he stays long enough. And next week the Feds will probably approve the Adani mine to make trouble for Bill Shorten. Mark Butler for one who has long thought it should not go ahead, which he repeated in the last few days.

There is also a thought that ScoMo is going to wait for some bodgie modelling he’s commissioned on the impact of Labor’s climate change policy.

Katharine Murphy is thoroughly tired of this dreary lot:

Phillip Coorey points out an amazing fact – only Mathias Cormann and Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion, who is retiring at the election, will have been in the same job for the duration of the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison years.

By contrast 10 members of Labor’s 20-member shadow cabinet have held the same job for the past two terms – Bill Shorten, Chris Bowen, Tony Burke, Anthony Albanese, Mark Dreyfus, Brendan O’Connor, Mark Butler, Kim Carr, Catherine King and Joel Fitzgibbon. Moreover:

    Of the current shadow cabinet, 16 have been in the shadow cabinet since 2013, whereas the Coalition cabinet is barely recognisable from the first line-up in September 2013.

    There are just six originals: Cormann, Scullion, Morrison, Greg Hunt, Peter Dutton and the departing Chris Pyne.

Chris Bowen pointed out the other day that 15 of shadow cabinet have actually been cabinet ministers.

Coorey says it’s going to be a bare-knuckled affair. From one side at least.

Can we just put our heads under a blanket and come out when it’s over?

6. Other stuff

There was a surfeit of stories, too much for me to cover. Julian Assange seems likely to be kicked out onto the street, where the British coppers will scoop him up. The Swedes are no longer interested, but the Americans are.

On balance, I don’t have much sympathy for the bloke. He’s put too many lives in danger, and did not appear to properly respect women in his relationships. However, Americans don’t treat people they see as traitors with any noticeable compassion.

Then there was a report of the Senate Inquiry into ABC political interference. Sarah Hanson-Young told Patricia Karvelas that it was extensive, and mattered. A large part of the problem is the self-censorship that bedevils program makers, especially in investigative journalism.

44 thoughts on “Weekly salon 7/4”

  1. The “kill Bill” campaign, the election delay for questionable reasons even though this means taking the risk of Senate estimates being resumed, the very limited amount of scheduled parliament time and the dismissal of the problems faced by the unemployed all contribute to a not very flattering perception of Scott Morrison and his government.

  2. John, yes, senate estimates could be fun.

    Of interest, Fairfax-Ipsos has just come in with the LNP trailing 47-53.

    Newspoll has just come out with Labor leading 52-48, closing from 53-47 a month ago.

    Here’s Poll Bludger on both.

    Really, if people were thinking straight and on performance it would be 60-40 and a wipe-out, as the polls were for Gillard about mid-term (end of 2011, from memory). IMO.

    Phillip Coorey looks at why the election is being delayed.

    He says three things, but it’s really two. One is the string of holidays mucking up administration and momentum in the end.

    Secondly, ScoMo wants to keep using our money for advertising.

  3. Ummmm….” However, Americans don’t treat people they see as traitors with any noticeable compassion”….this one is a function of percentages. They have elected a traitor as President, and half of their senators would fit the traitor personality Profile.

    My youngest daughter has moved to Auckland for her Masters Degree, and there is getting the full effect of Jacinda Ardern. Daughter reports she now sees how pathetic Australian Government has become when you have a real performer to compare the likes of Morrison to. The only directly negative things to be said about Shorten are that he tends to be dreary, and he regularly finishes sentences with a down tone which comes across as preachey and uninspiring.

    I really don’t want to vote in the election because none of them are worthy in my opinion. Neither party gives a damn about housing affordability and brush past the subject with pointless faintly thought through useless token gesture schemes.

    I put forward a solution which guarantees a permanent solution to affordability at scale, and made sure that both parties were informed to some degree. I actually experience considered pushback, and my conclusion was that as politicians are, as a profession, the greatest users of negative gearing, the mental calculation I could see from the reactions was ..”.If poor people have a real alternative to rental, who will occupy our investment negatively geared houses and pay the rent which secures our wealth growth?”

    Sadly our male politicians predominately demonstrate self interest, and our female politicians have no “vision” (loads of compassion for superficial human needs maybe, but very little structural vision). This is why people such as Merkel, Ardern, Occasio-Cortez and Buttigieg stand out so starkly,…these are people who are not there for the “job”, they are there to get results.

    The whole clutch of Australian politicians are a sad lot. Half of them are narcisists and sociopaths, and the other half are weary walking wounded from the poison of the other half,…and what the public gets from this is all trash. If Australia wasn’t a mountain of minerals the size of Europe, it would be a fourth world country with the low level of the performance of its elected officials.

    And, yes, lets hope Assange gets his just deserts with a prison downgrade.

  4. I’m not a fan of Mr Assange either, Brian.
    But he can’t be an American traitor, can he?
    Being an Aussie.

    Unlike Ms Manning, not only a US citizen but in their armed forces.

    I accept that Julian Ass may have broken some US laws.

    Certainly annoyed dozens of countries by revealing diplomatic cables and the identities of confidantes of US diplomats.

    Did he break any Australian laws?

    I reckon he’s been a publisher and leaker rather than a journalist (as some of his fan club claim him to be).

    I also feel his publishing of the DNC emails was pretty much a personal vendetta against Mrs Clinton. Always with leaks: cui bono??

  5. The coalition appears t be starting a fake news scare campaign about EV,s and battery charge times. It starts with

    First, there was the Labor policy to introduce a target for half of all new vehicle sales to be electric by 2030, and the suggestion from the NRMA that the target should be twice as high and twice as quick, and effectively ban sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2025.

    The response from the conservatives has been equally stunning, starting with the uninformed drivel from Sky News commentators last Monday, before misinformation and outright lies were embraced as official party policy from the Coalition by week’s end.

    Prime minister Scott Morrison has even suggested that Labor’s policy will bring an end to the “Australian weekend” – apparently because EVs can’t tow boats or caravans (some of them can), and you can’t take them camping (actually, they are an asset).

    And here’s the irony. The Coalition’s own emissions reduction policy, as revealed by Environment Department officials in Senate Estimates last week, factors in 25-50 per cent share of electric vehicles in new vehicle sales by 2030.

    “Electric vehicles could make up between 25 and 50 per cent of new car sales in 2030 if supported by coordination and facilitation of local, state and Commonwealth actions, coordinated through a national strategy, which is the measure that is announced in the Climate Solutions Package,” said Kristin Tilley.


    The Liberal party has it so wrong about the charging of electric vehicles that even Chris Kenny swallowed it, along with many other commentators.

    The Coalition focused on Bill Shorten’s claim that – in some circumstances and with some electric cars – batteries can be charged in eight to 10 minutes.

    “Wrong,” says the Liberal Party.

    Actually, he’s quite right. ABB has released a fast-charger than can add in eight minutes, and this was echoed by Tim Washington, the head of Australia’s JetCharge.

    Given the rapid downward surge in recharge rates it seems most unlikely that recharge times will be a deciding factor in the nature of renewable energy driven vehicles by 2030.

  6. On fast charging EVs, can’t remember where I saw it today, but Lucy Turnbull tweeted that ScoMo was wrong. In fact Trevor St Baker, the same one who wants to buy Liddell and wants to build new coal power, also has a clean energy innovation fund and is investing heavily into new Australian EV fast-charging network. As chair of Tritium, based in Brisbane, he is installing fast chargers in Germany and elsewhere in Europe.

    Any way, Lucy Turnbull’s tweet was about Tritium coming up with an even faster charger.

    ScoMo was also complaining the Bill is going to spoil people’s weekend, people who own 4WDs, that is. Fat is, Bill Shorten is not going to stop anyone buying any car they like. Perhaps he should!

    However, it just goes to show that with the current LNP we are dealing with a bunch of clowns.

  7. BilB, Ambi, yes I was thinking about Chelsea Manning when I made the comment about American justice. I don’t understand the ‘Grand Jury’ process, but it sounds very threatening.

    I heard also that an African American was banged up for a record 44 years for a murder he could not have committed. In the end he got out by plea bargaining because everyone knew he was innocent. However, he was a member of the Black Panthers, and for that reason got special treatment.

  8. BilB, I think the current Labor team is probably the best since the one Bill Hayden put together, and Hawke took to the election in 1982.

    Shorten may have a personality bypass, but I reckon he’ll do the job if given the chance.

    I’m not up to date on housing, but it seems the LNP want prices to stay the highest in the world, and Labor is happy if they come down a bit through their changes to negative gearing and capital gains.

    On climate change it is night and day.

    On the budget, my draft post has the working title “Smoke and Mirrors”. This mob’s MO is to pretend to do a job when they are not.

  9. Europe provides incentives for people to buy electric cars, and to provide solar power to fuel them.

    This might help…..

    Changing the ridiculous rules on electric bikes and scooters would also make a huge difference.

    I drove around the Netherlands for a month and maybe saw one vehicle accident. I was back in Australia for an hour and a half before seeing the first accident and it had just happened.

    Netherlands cars get around at speeds up to 130 kph on two lane roads. Here out west of Sydney we are doing 80 kph on 4 lane roads. Berejiklian has road “improvement” going on the whole length of the motor way on both sides rather than apply the effort and delay to one side at a time. Dumb and dumber.

    Housing affordability? They’ve got their blinkers on and their fingers in their ears, and that is every one, not just the government. The fact is a drop of 20% in housing prices would likely cause a national recession while still not giving access to the bottom 40% of income earners.

    Shorten will be by far the better prime minister, but they all just don’t have a clue on what really matters. We are sleep walking to a disasterous future.

    You should all be following Paul Bickworth’s climate vlog. He is very dry but the real substance that you need to know is all there. Paul goes through the climate reports and explains them, one by one.

  10. Good entertainment value, when yesterday Senator Kristina Kenneally gave a droll sequence of quotes from Ministers in the present Government, doing well in past times, by extolling not only the beauties of electric vehicles, but the manufacturing opportunities this transport type might bring to Aistralia.

    She couldn’t help chuckling as she presented the examples.
    I heard her on ABC News Radio.

    The contrast between
    Past Posturing and
    Present Posturing
    was stark.

    “Hypocrisy is the tribute that Vice pays to Virtue”


  11. This morning at 10:30am, near the Bathurst Visitor Information Centre, the Mayor of Bathurst Regional Council officially opened a new station featuring six Tesla Supercharger ports and a fast charging port provided by the NRMA. (See Western Advocate article headlined Permanent electric car charging station taking shape in Bathurst, dated Apr 2).

    While the Supercharger ports cater only for Tesla vehicles, the NRMA port is compatible with all other electric vehicle models.

    The Tesla Supercharger ports at Bathurst are one of the first to be permanently installed west of the Great Divide in NSW, with four Tesla Supercharger permanent ports plus one NRMA port also being officially opened in Dubbo later today.

    I went along to have a ‘sticky-beak’ at Bathurst this morning, and one of the Tesla car owners there offered to give me a ride in one. Phenomenal!

    In view of evidence indicating that we are heading towards scarce supplies of diesel fuel, rolling out EV charging stations and encouraging a rapid uptake of electric vehicles IMO can’t come quick enough. It also means more electricity generation to cope with the increase in the EV population (and other all-electric demands).

  12. Posted around midday today at the SMH is an article by Nicole Hasham headlined Environment Minister Melissa Price signs off on Adani project.

    Remaining approvals rest with the Queensland government.

  13. Good work, GM.

    I think most short-trip charging in Australia will be done at home or at work, using rooftop solar/battery set ups.

    Better value for a householder to re-charge their electric vehicle, than to sell excess power into the grid and receive a very low feed-in payment?

  14. Or can be metered at work and deducted from pays lowering taxable income for the employee and neutral for the employer.

    But reducing tax for Government is never going to fly so rule that out.

  15. Don’t be so quick to rule it out.
    Ten years ago, at least, some wage earners were able to obtain work-related benefits as part of a “salary sacrifice” package.

    [Hence lowering their income tax payments to Fed Govt.]

    E.g. cost of a laptop (small change, relatively)
    Lease of a car (larger change ). The private vehicle ‘novated lease’, as it was called, was introduced by the Fed Govt after lobbying by car retailers, to tide them over the alleged GST slump their sales would experience. …. and years later it was still going.

    Some folk I’ve heard of were able to “salary sacrifice” weekly food bills, even some entertainment expenses.

    Not sure if rent payments could ever be included.

    Sounds like a lurk?
    Available to employees on modest incomes, not exclusively for the “big end of town”.

    Hope I’m not making your blood boil, Jumps old chap.

  16. Mr A

    Hope I’m not making your blood boil, Jumps old chap.

    What on Earth would lead you to believe my blood would boil over tax minimisation?

    The only folk I know that salary sacrifice are Public Servants but I’d like it expanded Nation wide.

  17. But reducing tax for Government is never going to fly so rule that out.

    You mean the Coalition is being less than honest when it promises tax cuts as part of the grand plan to help “hardworking Australians” (authorised by the Australian Government)?

  18. Yep.
    I don’t see any evidence to the contrary from the current mob.
    But the next mob has plenty of evidence to suggest they’ll be worse.

  19. I thought you may be unhappy about a particular lurk unavailable to yourself.

    Jumpy, I was mistaken.

    BTW I have heard of a salary sacrificer who works for a charity (not a govt dept).

  20. In some cases salary sacrifice morphed into something that benefited the employer, rather than the employee. I have a vague memory of training companies providing training courses of questionable value that cost the employer practically nothing if there were vacant places as part of the “wage”.

  21. John, in my small business it would cost many thousands to establish and upkeep, way more than any benefit to the Boys.

    Government hasn’t got that problem.

    I’d be very interested in the specifics of both your and Mr A’s examples if salary sacrifices could help the Lads

    And don’t get me started on training Company leaches, I’ve had it up to the back teeth with them, they seem to be writing Legislation in Queensland at the moment.

  22. Jumpy: Did you mean Training Company leeches? If so, may I please add Labour Hire racketeers and profit-destroyers to the list?

    BilB: Which particular traitor-president were you thinking about? The one who thought that keeping the N****rs stupefied with drugs was a splendid way of creating wealth whilst preventing organized social unrest? Or the brilliant war-hero and the rescuer-in-chief after Hurricane Katrina? Or did you mean Tovarishch Donald Nyemyetsovich?

    “Daughter reports she now sees how pathetic Australian Government has become when you have a real performer to compare the likes of Morrison to”.
    Please persuade her to return to Australia as soon as she has completed her studies; heaven knows, Australia is desperately short of people who know there are possible alternatives to the bunch of losers we have inherited.

  23. Zoot
    Do you think the LNP has actually reduced taxes?

    It was actually a rhetorical question. But I’m sure during the last 6 years or so they’ve managed to ease the burden for their mates one way or another. Can’t quote specifics because their policies never assist someone with an income as low as mine.

  24. BilB, linking to your earlier rating of our politicians, I’ve normally thought of them as third-rate. I think the Keneally take-down shows the ScoMo mob as fifth-rate, or arguably not genuine politicians at all.

    I think the present Labor mob are possibly second-rate – good by Australian standards.

  25. Wow KK was pretty good.
    It’s almost as if the reporter gave the exact question she prepared for with written quotes and photos complete with powerful nodding heads behind her.

    What a coincidence !

  26. Although Bills huge grin turned a lot smaller when KK mentioned the coalitions Climate Change Package.

    He’s been saying relentlessly that there wasn’t one.

  27. It’s almost as if the reporter gave the exact question she prepared for with written quotes and photos

    It was a press conference (as mentioned in the first sentence of the article) so she was making an announcement (not responding to an off the cuff question).
    Of course she was prepared.

  28. I did watch the vid and I read the article.
    But cling to your conspiracy theory if you wish. No skin off my nose.

  29. Although Bills huge grin turned a lot smaller when KK mentioned the coalitions Climate Change Package.

    He’s been saying relentlessly that there wasn’t one.

    Jumpy, there isn’t one. It’s a pretend package.

  30. While it may be distracting to hear that a male human was driven in an automobile across some distance to talk to another male human, also worth noting is that astronomers have obtained our first photo of a massive black hole, about 55 million light years away.

    Eight telescopes were involved.
    Some humans are bl**dy clever. I dips me lid.

  31. Ambi: My understanding is that at least one of the male humans you mentioned flew into Canberra last night. Not good for the carbon footprint.

  32. Posted at Bloomberg on Apr 9 is an article by Liam Denning headlined Why a Fight About Energy in 2040 Matters Right Now. The article refers to a letter from 60-odd signatories representing a swath of investment funds, scientific institutions, and think tanks to Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), calling on the IEA to:

    …make the Sustainable Development scenario the central case, make it fully transparent and tighten it up. The current version implies a high probability of limiting the temperature increase to between 1.7 and 1.8 degrees by the end of the century, partly by assuming an increase in carbon capture by many orders of magnitude, particularly after 2040. The group wants an updated scenario to target 1.5 degrees and be more cautious in assuming carbon capture takes off. Meanwhile, it wants the IEA to stick the equivalent of a tobacco warning on the New Policies scenario, which implies warming of 2.7 to 3 degrees.

  33. The biggest news today looks to be an Australian publisher being arrested in London.

    As far as I can see he’s done nothing that the mainstream media do every day.

  34. Correction-
    “”As far as I can see he’s done nothing that the mainstream media don’t do every day.””

    Sorry, my tardiness…

  35. Jumpy: No big change anticipated for J.A.. After all, Guantanomo Bay is in a Latin American environment too, isn’t it?

  36. For Mr J

    Salary sacrifice instances

    1. Bloke working for a large power company in the Latrobe Valley, wide range of expenses
    2. Anyone working at a particular Uni in Victoria, could salary sacrifice for laptop, parking fees at work, and use a novated lease for a family car. Not sure if other Unis were signed up to similar schemes. May have been sorted in an EBA?
    3. Relatively low paid social worker at a charity, could salary sacrifice for living expenses including food and entertainment

    Those are the examples I’ve heard of directly. But it wasn’t the proverbial “BBQ stopper” topic.

    1 and 2 were around early 2000s, say 2004.
    3 was around 2016.

    I’m confident the ATO could give advice, since it’s “their” taxes being shuffled around to the benefit of a tax paying worker.

  37. On Federal/State relations, Jumpy….. I can’t find an article about the High Court case of a few years back.

    The Parliamentary Education Office website has a few pages on “changes in federal state relations” which refers to Federal powers vs State powers, and how the Federals have slowly increased their influence through “tied grants”.

    But you would know about that.
    Sorry, can’t help.

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