Weekly salon 17/6

1. Life in paradise

My GP said to me the other day, this is it – heaven! Life right here is as good as it gets, so we need to make the most of it!

Well, I’ve had a few experiences lately that I could have done without. Like last Sunday week ago. Here is the scene (photo from November 2017):

I had just spent about an hour with my son on the deck tranferring all the data to my new phone, getting it all set up and sorted.

The next job was to help my wife put the pool cover on for the winter. So I slipped my phone into my back pocket, where it couldn’t fall out.

The pool cover was stored in a large roll, over a metre wide, which had to be rolled out on the pool side of that umbrella pole and pot plant. So rolling it out walking backwards, you know what’s coming next. No sane person would take a new phone and then go for a dip in a pool fully clothed with the phone in his pocket a few minutes later!

My wife says I was thrashing like I couldn’t swim! I can say I was thinking desperately about the phone. Last time I fell into a pool with a phone it was underwater about 2 seconds, and the phone was dead. This time I was in deep water and away from the edge, so I guess it took 10 seconds.

My wife says if she did that she would be very hard on herself. I thought it was funny – afterall it wasn’t as serious as this:

Serious enough, though. After 10 seconds inundation the phone was dead.

Luckily, so I thought, I was prudent enough to take out a comprehensive insurance policy for a year, which included drowning the thing. Turns put the excess for replacing the phone is more than the cost of the policy, and together they amounted to about half the cost of the phone. If I’d known that I probably would not have bought the insurance, so lucky I didn’t. It’s still a rip off.

The phone has now been sent to Melbourne as instructed, where it will no doubt officially be deemed dead. The SIM card was OK, so the old phone will have to do another round while all this is sorted.

2. Albo makes a call on Setka

Last Tuesday Labor leader Anthony Albanese told Leigh Sales on the 7.30 Report that he had formally requested that John Setka, Victorian Secretary of the CFMMEU, be expelled from the Labor Party. Albanese made clear that he wasn’t acting in relation to charges currently before the courts, where Setka has apparently admitted guilt in using a ‘carriage service’ to harass a woman:

    my actions don’t relate to anything that is before the courts. What they relate to is the views that Mr Setka has put forward on a range of issues that are, frankly, out of line, not just with the Labor Party, but out of line with mainstream Australian views.

In doing so he was demonstrating that he owed the CFMMEU nothing, and that he wasn’t Bill Shorten.

David Speers in the Courier Mail says Albo has ended up in the weeds over whether Setka actually denigrated the work of Rosie Batty as a campaigner against domestic violence, saying her work has limited the rights of men. Phillip Coorey in the AFR says Albanese was informed by people in the room who heard what was said. It wasn’t an aside. Setka was explaining his current legal issues.

At first we heard that Setka said his remarks were taken out of context, then came an outright denial, supported by the likes of Christy Cain, the national president of the Maritime Union, who said that suggestions Mr Setka had denigrated anti-domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty at a CFMMEU meeting were false, calling for Albanese himself to consider resigning.

Someone is telling porkies. It seems to me inherently unlikely that anyone would be game enough to try to stitch up Setka. As Chris Kenny pointed out on Insiders, Setka waited a few days, probably to see whether any stray audio of what he actually said would turn up.

Sally McManus of the ACTU buys Setka’s story, but says Setka should step down from his union position because his other deeds give unionism a bad name.

Setka, according to Speers, is also being supported by the left-wing Electrical Trades Union.

Unions that want him to step down include the shoppies union, United Voice, the teachers union, the Australian Services Union and the CPSU.

The typical union member these days is a 45 year-old female, who works as a nurse, a teacher or care worker. Unionism is now down to about 14% of the workforce. Albanese knows that dinosaurs like Setka will inhibit the union movement from growing, and damage the Labor brand generally.

Coorey says that Shorten owed the CFMMEU because without their support on asylum seeker policy at the 2015 ALP conference, Shorten’s stance on turning back the boats would have failed.

Speers says that Albo did the right thing, but went too early and ended up stuck in the weeds over whether Setka said what was reported.

I think it’s exactly the other way around. Albo’s best strategy was to go hard and go early. He lined up his support before he said anything. Moreover, there is zero sympathy in the public for thugs like Setka. It is Setka who is stuck in the weeds.

See also Paul Karp in Anthony Albanese insists John Setka will be expelled from Labor despite impasse, Joe Hildebrand in How Anthony Albanese used John Setka to send a message to Labor and the nation, Phillip Coorey in Albanese stamps his authority with Setka ousting and Ray Markey in Setka furore opens division within the labour movement – and there is no easy solution.

I think Hildebrand goes too far in saying that Albanese’s action had nothing to do with what Setka said. Markey has a lot of history and context, but is over-thinking the current situation. IMO.

3. ALP meeting tonight

This evening the Ryan ALP branches (note the plural) are meeting to review the election. I’ve no idea what happens at these meeting, but my wife and I are going, plus possibly my younger brother, who also lives in the electorate.

4. The puttering, stuttering Australian economy

I don’t have time for analysis, but here’s a couple of links on our economic situation, which is less than glorious:

Feelings of troubles times ahead, and total denigration of Labor and Shorten in this environment make up a large part of the story as to why Labor lost. The next day my wife had her hair done in a salon near the heart of the Ryan electorate. The women there were sharing their joy that they had just escaped Shorten, who was going to take all their money!

32 thoughts on “Weekly salon 17/6”

  1. Last night’s meeting wrapping the Labor campaign in Ryan was interesting.

    I knew there were multiple branches, but 8 was a surprise.

    Lots of very bright, intelligent reflective people, working seamlessly with each other, no egos or negativity on display. It was interesting to hear analysis of voting trends in specific voting booths, where there were some startling differences.

    Only about 65% voted on polling day.

    They had much to be proud of. Ryan was not a target seat for the Labor campaign. Seems the LNP spent around 15 times more. Yes 15 times. That is apart from the larger campaigns from state advertising from the LNP and Clive Palmer. The Greens almost certainly spent more.

    Labor achieved the only rise in a primary vote of any seat in Queensland, and is now the fifth most winnable seat, if it doesn’t get edged out by the Greens. Done through feet on the ground and intelligent use of limited resources,

    We’ve joined a branch which meets every third Sunday of the month. We are on a learning curve as to how everything fits and how it all works internally.

    Seems the path to influence on climate is mainly through LEAN.

  2. Glad you found the meeting valuable, Brian and Mrs Brian.

    Only about 65% voted on polling day.
    Is that figure 65% of those in the electorate, who voted at all?

    A couple of weeks ago, someone on RN asserted that the percentage of enrolled voters who cast a valid vote, nationally, in the recent Federal election was around 73%.

    So about 27% nationally, either
    a) didn’t bother to turn up on May the 18th or earlier for pre-poll, or
    b) didn’t bother to put in a postal vote,
    c) or cast a ballot but deliberately voted “informal”.

    In my view, 73% is getting a bit low!
    I still think compulsory voting is better than voluntary.
    But in the privacy of the voting booth we can’t prevent someone choosing to go Informal.

    I’d like to see the composition of the non-voters by age.
    Could it be that the “engaged, activist yoof” are quite unrepresentative of their age cohort??

    (Recalling now the large Moratorium marches in Melbourne, 1970 and later; then the Dismissal Outrage rallies in mid-November 1975; and my friend’s observation that the participant numbers, though large and impressive on the street, amounted to a very small percentage of enrolled voters.

    His caution then, somewhat borne out by the electoral landslide that decimated the Whitlam Caretaker Opposition and elected the Fraser Government.

  3. Brian: Haven’t been on the ground at Ryan for much of the last campaign or post election analysis so what i have to say is more general.
    My recollection is that, apart from a by-election Labor won, this is the first election since I moved to Brisbane where the LNP got less than 50% of the primary vote. This might reflect a most unattractive LNP candidate or a general move away from the LNP in leafy suburbs.
    Still think that the Greens have a better chance of taking Ryan than Labor.

  4. We live in a country where the mainly female Midwives and Nurses union is the countries largest union. The mining branch of of the CMFEU didn’t deliver for Labor in Central Qld in the last election. Setka has become a liability for Labor.
    On the other hand, Albanese is an economist who, as far as I can work out has never been an active union member and there are quite a few that somehow, their world is going backward.

  5. Ambi, I noticed earlier you commented on the low vote, and I thought you must have mistaken what was said. Turns out you were right in some seats.

    When I did a search it threw up this BBC article, which has interesting graphs, and said a record 96.8% of eligible voters – more than 16 million people – were enrolled to cast a ballot.

    However, the real story is in this SMH article:

    A special breakdown of voting figures from the May 18 poll suggests less than 91 per cent of people cast a ballot, formal or informal.

    It is on track to be lower than the 2016 election and the worst result since the mid-1920s (excluding some years when up to a dozen seats had just one candidate) when compulsory voting was introduced after just 55 per cent of Australians voted at the 1922 general election.

    Seems the young did not turn out. I think the bad behaviour of politicians, especially on the right, and the type of messaging from the LNP, Palmer and others turns people off. The BBC has a graph on how Australia thinks democracy is working, which dived from over 75 back in 2007 down to under 50 and heading further south now.

    I think if the election had been a climate emergency election the youth would have come out, and Labor would have won on the basis of the Greater Brisbane vote, who voted solidly for Palaszczuk in the last state election.

    I did not note down the Ryan figure, but my recollection is that it was very high, ie in the mid1990s. It was commented favourably upon, and was the first thing said in the wrap presentation.

  6. John, Labor is very aware of the Greens, and do not see them as friends politically. And comment was made on the quality of candidates as a factor.

    You are right in that the combined votes of labor and the Greens is now close to the LNP vote.

    ON scored 2.2% and Palmer got 1.5%. Apparently those votes were something of a protest vote, but on preferences went straight back to the LNP.

  7. On Setka, he is reacting as you would expect, gloves off and revenge. Threatening to withdraw funding to the ALP and pinch members from the AWU.

    All the more reason why he should be dumped. The union links are a major impediment for many, especially the upper middle class, to vote Labor. What is happening now should have happened years ago.

  8. Brian:

    The union links are a major impediment for many, especially the upper middle class, to vote Labor. What is happening now should have happened years ago.

    My guess is that there are a lot of voters in leafy suburbs that could switch from LNP to the Greens but could not bring themselves to vote Labor.
    In Ryan the LNP candidate was allegedly a Dutton supporter and had beaten a sitting female member who was a assistant minister to become candidate. The personal dislike for the man would not have helped the LNP.

  9. Brian

    On the low vote.

    The bloke I heard was summing two figures:
    a) percentage who didn’t vote
    b) percentage who voted but voted informal.

    I went looking for AEC figures, but found only a report on informal voting in the 2016 federal election. My supposition is that the figures may have been jotted down by scrutineers on the night of HoR counting.

    They surely note and pass on voting figures, because the pollies on the telly spend most of the night quoting figures that their mates are texting to them.

    I’ll keep looking.

    It seems to me unlikely that young voters uninterested enough to fail to enrol, or fail to vote; or angry enough to vote deliberately informal; were all turned off only by right wing ideologues, spokespeople or campaigns.

    For a start, I think many young people likely found Mr Shorten wooden and uninspiring. (Please note this is not to say his opponent was either eloquent or inspiring.)

    I think that a wider explanation is needed for Labor’s loss. Right wing propaganda or policies were a factor, but there were many deficiencies on the Labor side too.

    Brian, you were arguing for many months earlier this year (as I recall it) that Adani had become a kind of sideshow, almost a distraction.

    What a distraction!! A honey pot for the LNP to feast upon in Qld and elsewhere, amongst some voters.

    Could be worse. UK looks like they’ll get Boris PM, without a General Election. Could be worse: they missed having Jeremy PM after their last election.

  10. Apologies Brian.

    What you actually wrote was bad behaviour of politicians, especially on the right.

    Not …….. “exclusively on the right”.

  11. Ambi: After the 2010 federal election I wrote a post for Lavartus Pradeo on reducing the informal vote. that analysed the causes of informal voting in that election.
    Factors that influenced the informal vote included the proportion of people in an electorate whose first language was not English, number of candidates and whether the house of reps voting system was the same as the state system. (States with optional preference voting had more informals that those who had the same system as the federal system.
    The post started with:

    The informal vote for the house of reps was 5.64% in this election with state figures ranging from 4.19 in Tasmania to 6.89 in NSW. Some of these informal votes would be due to the “pox on both your houses syndrome”. However, the rest would be due to votes being “accidentally informal” for some reason or other. Accidentally informal not only robs individuals of their vote but it may also skew the election results given that people with low education or poor English skills might be more likely to make mistakes on their ballot paper.

    While some of the problems raised have been fixed since then the above points are still important.

  12. I still think that if Labor had gone flat out on the climate emergency, the young would have turned out enough for Labor to win 4 or 5 seats in Qld.

    Labor have a good team in Terri Butler, Mark Butler and Tony Burke on environment/climate and energy/water. I understand there is one other, not sure who.

    They need to start saying out loud just what we face.

  13. I am impressed whenever I see or hear Mark Butler, and Terri Butler performs well on Q&A, though I belong to that subset who far prefer Q&A when it has NO Party Politicians on the panel. (Sadly, whatever the format, Tony J is often smug and domineering…..)

    But how do we advance the emissions-reduction argument? That’s fundamental.

    I think Adani is a sideshow, or better terminology: a third-order issue.

    Electricity generation: some progress in Australia, but insufficient.
    The nation needs to reduce emissions from manufacturing,; from mining operations; from internal transport and export/import transport; and then there’s agriculture and deforestation.

    It’s a big task and a big ask.
    As Geoff M used to urge us, the time is now.

    I favour grabbing some more “low-hanging fruit” with alacrity, pushing forward on solar and wind, while recognising that doing so amounts to preliminary baby steps.

    The Victorian Govt announced before its re-election, some rooftop solar loans for low income households, but have now had to revise their scheme after various teething problems (e.g. dodgy installers – who woulda guessed it??)

  14. Good points, John.

    Yes: informal votes can be the result of simple errors.

    Deliberate informals can be noted if the voter scrawls a sarcastic comment on the ballot paper (e.g. “Vote 1 Norman Gunstone”, in 1975).

    It’s certainly a problem if the voter slips up and didn’t want their ballot to be uncounted.

    By the way, wasn’t it a Quinceland Govt that suddenly switched between optional preferential and something else, without warning or community discussion, to catch the Opposition out, just before an election?


  15. Ambi: Qld changed to optional preference voting under Beatty . It was a good system that counted votes and preferences to the extent that it was obvious who the voter wanted to vote for. (For example, a voter who put an X or some other mark next to their preferred candidate would have that vote counted in favour of that candidate.
    Beatty then went on to rort the system by advising voters to “just vote 1” (Which was code for advising One Nation voters to just vote 1 and not bother about giving their preference to the LNP.
    Worked well for Labor for a while but then the mix of candidates changed to the point where advising people to “Just vote 1” worked against the Greens and Labor. (At a recent state election the LNP was putting up just vote 1 signs at a booth I was at in electoral commission colours.)
    Voter confusion wasn’t helped by the commonwealth senate system where voting above the line meant that preferences were allocated according to the wishes of the party you voted for above the line.
    The Qld system has now been changed to require a limited allocation of preferences (3) for a vote to be formal. This stops the just vote 1 ploy at the expense of potentially making some votes informal even though it is clear who the voter wants to give their first preference to.
    My personal views are:
    1. Votes should be counted to the extent that it is obvious who the voters wants to receive their vote. This includes putting a ballot paper back in the count after a point of uncertainty has been passed.
    2. Voters should not be obliged to allocate preferences but it should be clear on the ballot paper that parties do not allocate preferences for the voter. (Only preferences counted are the ones the voter makes.)
    3. Commonwealth, state and local government voting systems should be the same to avoid confusion.
    4. English used should be checked to make sure that it is appropriate for people with low literacy or English skills.

  16. Thanks John

    I thought “optional preferential” voting was a good compromise between the various inclinations of voters. No doubt you’ve heard people say, “I just want to vote for A. I can’t stand the idea that my vote would ever help X or Y.”

    And political hobbyists can still number all the squares….

    Thanks for giving that background about a Beatty Lurk.
    Some of these blokes are just too clever for their own good.
    “Ye shall reap what ye sow.”

  17. Setka Watch

    The Nine newspaper in Melbourne tells us that John Setka’s deputy in the Victorian branch has resigned, citing “irreconcilable differences with Mr Setka” over a current issue of interest.

    As I’ve only seen the headline, not sure if the ex-deputy wishes to spend more time with his family, or with the rank-and-file, or wants to get back on the tools.

    If Mr Setka is as tough as people make out, how come the ex-deputy has nicked off? Not under anybody’s thumb, perhaps?

    Meanwhile Nine reported this morning that Mr Setka’s support comes mainly from other union leaders who belong to a “left wing” ‘sub faction’, union-based, within the Victorian ALP.

    Victorian Labor factions, sub factions, grouplets, etc enjoy more splits and realignments than ever the legendary Trots, it seems.
    You’ve gotta give them this: they know where their true enemies are…..

    Where’s old Bill Hartley, when discipline’s needed?
    He had more skirmishes than you had hot Breakfasts at Breakfast Creek.

  18. Not the sort of Christianity that has much sympathy with those at the bottom of the pile.

    Unlike, say, Jesus.

  19. Ambi:


    A bleeding heart who thought that the rich would struggle to go to heaven.

  20. Struggle?

    Matthew 19:24:

    Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

  21. Setka is accusing McManus of disrupting the CFMMEU’s democratic right by picking who is leader.

    She’s not, she’s just advising him that the one they picked is unfit for purpose in terms of the values of the union movement.

    I’ve been spending time asking the LEAN mob to post links to our climate posts on their Facebook. These are the links I sent:

    Climate change by the numbers

    What would give hope to Greta Thunberg, the girl who can’t quit?

    Labor’s climate action plan 2019 – a “dog’s breakfast?”

    Cheap accounting tricks and sovereign risk: the Morrison government’s climate policy

    They are a really nice mob – sharp, friendly, helpful, no-one with any ego problems. What they are on about is set out here.

    I guess I thought they would be mostly young people. They have some very experienced operators.

  22. Jumpy, I just got an error screen from that. Maybe you could try this.

    I’d have to say though, from the Qld group, about the last thing I need would be:

    Explore Healthy Masculinity – Manhood weekend embodies a community of men that have been supporting each other for over twenty years. Come along to relax in the bushland, participate in workshops, share ideas and laughs with other men. This is an open ground to navigate bringing the best of yourself to being a man.

    This year’s theme, in the wake of #metoo, is healthy masculinity – but you get to define what that means for you.

  23. The saga of my phone continues. We sent it off Thursday week ago, priority paid. Priority paid.

    A week later their tracking service says it’s in the Ashgrove PO. Except it isn’t, and my wife saw then throw it in the bag. Officially it’s nowhere else.

    We tried to fill in a ‘lost article’ form, but were defeated. We’ll have to wait until their helpline is open.

  24. President Trump’s decision to call off a military strike against Iran, which was already underway, after the downing of a US drone, is interesting for at least two reasons.

    First, the NY Times published an account of conflicting advice he was receiving about ordering such a strike. In this case at least, the ‘fake news’ NY Times was likely on the money……

    Secondly, Pres Trump says he asked what the likely casualties in Iran would be; was told 150 dead; opined that outcome “would not be proportionate to the destruction of an unmanned aircraft”.

    Proportionality is a fundamental concept in the Law of War.

    Can War be governed by Legal Principles?
    It seems that DJ Trump thinks so.

    How did other US Presidents think about that??

  25. Jumpy: My wife once talked the Blackwater CWA into having a very successful men’s health day. The logic she used was based on talking about how much difficulty women and their families had if their coal mining husband died.
    What should concern us all is the lack of publicity about Men’s Health Week. Lot’s of men are doing it hard, very hard and this is being lost behind all the talk about women’s issues.
    Long, long long my wife said that we wouldn’t get women’s liberation until we got people’s liberation. She understood that men were just as trapped in the expectations about their role as women were trapped by expectations about women’s role. One of the stories she told about her childhood was about a period when her father was unemployed. The thing that struck her was that there was no talk about her mother looking for work. (When I lost my job years later we both looked for work and I did the cooking and housework when she got a job before I did.)

  26. Jumpy, the earlier one works for me this morning too. Fire Fox having a hissy fit, I think.

    The suicide numbers are concerning.

    Once, many years ago, Eva Cox shared a panel with another woman and a man on TV. The man was pointing to life expectancy figures, which as everyone knows, see men dying about 5 years before women. The man was brave enough to say that if the genders were reversed policy makers and the media would be concerned.

    Cox turned to him and cut him dead with “Poor little cherub!”

    I’d have to say that for years whenever I heard Cox’s voice on the radio I changed stations. Then one day I heard someone talking about indigenous disadvantage, and making a lot of sense. It was Eva Cox.

    Now I listen to her, but have not forgiven her.

    There is a new Salon, just posted, and I have to go and work!

  27. On item 2

    Mr Setka has now been convicted on a family violence charge.

    It remains to be seen whether he will be charged for a breach of union rules. If he offended during a period of leave (rather than at work, in an office or on a building site), does that make a difference?

    His wife was the person he harrassed.

    Family violence can include: physical assault, psychological abuse, controlling (despotic) behaviour, etc.

    As far as I recall, Mr Setka used a “carriage service” = a phone, to harass his victim in abusive, foul language.

    Not much more to say, really.

    Has the Victorian union movement genuinely taken up the cause of reducing family violence and assisting its victims? The Andrews Govt has made big efforts in this area, to improve the chances of support and justice for victims, change the behaviour and attitudes of perpetrators, and to try and get agencies to share information about warning signs of danger, or indeed convictions.

    (You may recall that in the notorious murder of Rosie Batty’s son, it was felt that timely sharing of information and warnings might have saved his life.)

    And now the work of Rosie Batty is haunting Victoria……

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