Weekly salon 1/11

1. Sydney

The purpose of LEAN is to make concern for the environment and climate change an essential part of Labor’s DNA. I’d say with the roomful of awesomely talented people we had at Lane Cove, the prospects look bright. Certainly the ALP branches around and near the suburb I live in are already there. Mark Butler is held in very high regard by the people who know him.

Second comment, I’m from the Silent Generation, according to this listing. At the meeting there was a pleasing quota of Millennials, of Gen Y (born 1977-1995). I’d never encountered them in sizable groups before. I found that a cluster of Millennials talk very fast and laugh all the time. I saw an article recently (not this one) that said human speech varies culturally from just over four phonemes per second to just under six. That’s nearly 50% faster, and not what my brain is used to.

I learnt a lot, and was not myself silent. In fact I worried I had too much to say, given I was basically a guest of the meeting.

Sydney is like a huge ants nest, but at the Quest North Ryde our room looked out over the tree tops of Lane Cove National Park. Easy to take.

The standard of service in the hospitality and transport sectors was amazing.

Call it empathy, call it compassion, but our needs were their first concern. Many of the people who helped us were ethnically Asian. However, my wife went to Manly on Saturday to meet up with a nephew and his wife who were staying there for a celebration. It’s Tony Abbott country. No racial diversity there.

2. The origins of us

This is from the New Scientist:

    Vanessa Hayes of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, Australia, and her colleagues gathered more than 1200 DNA samples from people in southern African. The samples were all mitochondrial DNA, which people only inherit from their mothers. The team used this to create a family tree showing when ancient populations split.

    They concluded that the oldest lineage emerged about 200,000 years ago, which they interpret as the origin of our species.

    The team found little evidence of mixing between groups, so they concluded that populations have probably not moved much since they were established. Based on where the oldest variants are found today, they argue that our species’ homeland was a vast wetland called Makgadikgadi-Okavango in Botswana.

    This wetland doesn’t exist anymore, but there is clear evidence it once did. The region is now a vast salt pan, created when Lake Makgadikgadi dried up. This huge lake existed from 2 million years ago until about 10,000 years ago.

From the ABC story, this is where they think it all came to pass:

This is what it looks like now:

Does this settle the matter?

Seems not. We really need analysis of the full genome, which is humungous:

    Mitochondrial DNA is relatively short, consisting of a modest 16,000 DNA base pairs — compared to the three billion base pairs of our regular genome, found inside the nucleus.

And some old bones would really help.

Years ago I heard it argued that our subcutaneous fat and relatively hairless skin compared to other apes bespeak watery origins.

3. Australia’s big dry

We focus a lot on El Niño and La Niña (ENSO) in our broader seasonal weather thinking. ENSO is neutral at present, so scientists have taken a renewed interest in the Indian Dipole, which is strongly positive, meaning dry weather where it has an effect. See The Culprit Behind East Australia’s Big Dry. Here’s the graph for recent years:

Here’s the longer view:

There seems to have been a step change around 1960, and another in the 1990s. Certainly the seasons are more erratic now. This century we’ve oscillated from droughts to floods for much of the time. This quote is telling:

    “We are perturbing the atmosphere in a profound way with greenhouse gases,” England says. “How this changes our modes of variability is uncertain.”

In other words we really don’t know what is happening or what to expect.

If you go to the BOM drought page you can get maps like this one for the last 18 months:

Here’s stream flow in September 2019:

Back in 2016 some clever people found that Antarctic ice shows Australia’s drought and flood risk is worse than thought.

Way worse. What happened at times in the last 1000 years before the instrumental record in much worse than has happened since.

However, a 2018 study found Recent Australian droughts may be the worst in 800 years

I haven’t been following government drought in detail, but I got a heads up to the Q&A Special on Drought. Here’s an excerpt from Fiona Simpson of National Farmers:

    The need is absolutely critical out there at the moment, but we have no plan. We don’t really know… We’re in unchartered waters, and because the farming industry is so diverse and communities are so diverse and the needs are so diverse, then…and we haven’t got the data about what’s worked in the past, we haven’t got the assessments and the rigour around those decisions, then it’s really, really hard.

It doesn’t get better. Maryanne Slattery says the Murray Darling agreement is a train wreck, the dairy industry is collapsing, with breeders being sold to China. She and Joel Fitzgibbon accused minister David Littleproud of giving incorrect and misleading information. Just add “deliberately” before “misleading” and you may not be wrong.

Slattery says The only thing as certain as drought in Australia is the stupid call to build new dams. The Bradfield Scheme is getting another outing.

Poor fellow my country!

199 thoughts on “Weekly salon 1/11”

  1. Went to a feedback meeting on our Ryan election campaign with senator Anthony Chisholm this afternoon.

    A factoid he told was that Bowen, a town NW of Mackay in the seat of Dawson, and famous because it is the only place in Australia to have elected a communist to parliament, voted 57% Labor in 2007. In 2019 that was just 20%.

    That 37% did not go to the Greens.

  2. Brian:

    Bowen, a town NW of Mackay in the seat of Dawson, and famous because it is the only place in Australia to have elected a communist to parliament, voted 57% Labor in 2007. In 2019 that was just 20%.

    Any theories?

  3. John, people who are on the margin economically look for simple answers. Labor and unions no longer provide them. Peoiple went from Labor to ON and Palmer (Katter too a bit) but then preferenced the LNP.

    I’ve just finished Niki Savva’s book Plots and Prayers. She cites the ANU electoral study, which found that at an electorate level swings against Labor correlated with low levels of education, lower income, being Christians, and blue collar workers.

    Unions can no longer protect working people. The capitalists have won.

    The Christian thing was new to me, but the ANU study found that all top swing seats, 7 in Qld and 3 in NSW, had above average Christian populations. Dawson has 62% Christians, which is about 10% above the national average.

    So I’m speculating that there was a variety of factors, but the Christian thing may have been worth a few points. Not the whole story.

    I’m also speculating that climate denialism is quite widespread in the area.

    In Ryan, higher income was associated with more votes to Labor, (people belly-ached about franking credits, but it may not have altered the votes of people directly affected, who were LNP voters anyway) but Adani hurt us. Labor’s position was actually quite clear. We sat on the fence, and said it had to stack up environmentally and financially without government support.

    It is manifestly true that people who live further north don’t like southern d*** heads telling them what to do. I dead set know that is how provincial people feel about Brisbane, let alone those south of the Tweed.

    There is evidence that Getup was probably a negative in Dickson. In booths we shared with Dickson, Ryan got more Labor votes than Dickson.

    I still think that the visual denigration of Shorten was the nail in the coffin, together with the LNP and Palmer’s campaign that he had his hand in your pocket, and was a shifty, nasty man any way. That, I suspect, had a big effect on the people who are quite detached from politics, to the point that they would struggle to name the PM.

  4. Brian: Inside story said the Dixon Getup effect was a myth. Dutton actually got a lower swing than the LNP got in the rest of Qld but this was missed simply because Dutton got back in.
    The Greens tend to do well in green and leafy places like Ryan Maiwa Northern Rivers and Moggill because the voters there see maintaining green and leafy helping their property values as well as their lifestyle. (You would never describe Bowen as green and leafy but I do wonder what effect retired coal miners from Collinsville would have had.)
    SCOMO would have got the vote of the sort of Christians who opposed gay marriage and believe they have a god given right to tell the rest of us how to live.
    Wife reports that the church she belonged to is divided into Blue and Green/Red factions.

  5. John, Ryan has 34 booths. People analysing the results make judgements as best they can. The strongest story relates to the correlation between property prices and voting, with property prices a proxy for income.

    The Greens seem to be competitive from the creek that marks the northern border of Ashgrove through to Brookfield and Upper Brookfield, but not Chapel Hill, Fig Tree Pocket and Pullenvale, where the TPP vote was in the 30s for the left.

    Labor actually won Toowong, Indooroopilly, Auchenflower and The Gap East, tied Bardon and Indooroopilly West TPP, because the Labor vote in the northern part of the electorate, from Enoggerra and Mitchelton north, kept Labor ahead of the Greens in the electorate overall.

    It’s a tangled web.

    I don’t think anyone can tease out with accuracy the effect GetUp would have had in a seat like Dickson, so personally I’m staying agnostic. Certainly outside groups, including unions, put a big effort into Dickson, and didn’t succeed in toppling the guy.

  6. Oh, just by the way, if anyone is looking for an economic stimulus now that (it is reported) the recent ‘tax bonus for submitting a tax return’ gambit has fallen flat, then here’s a modest suggestion:

    Put a huge chunk of PM Morrison’s promised $1 billion (on aged care, oldish Australians) into
    * Home Care Packages*


    1. Lots of elderly prefer to live in their own homes
    2. Perhaps more will prefer this after recent Royal Commission hearings?
    3. There is a long waiting list for elderly folk who have already been assessed as eligible for a higher level Home Care Package….
    4. So fund them, or as many as possible.
    5. The funding can cover up to 12 weeks ‘respite care’ in aged care homes – wages there are generally low, so staff are more likely to spend any extra income.
    6. In the home, funding can pay for things like: gardening and mowing, simple home maintenance; cleaning, showering; meals delivered to the home; and taxi fares, outings for shopping or appointments (accompanied by a paid carer), etc.

    The cash will flow through many segments of local retail and caring/home maintenance.

    7. Granting a swag of new Home Care Packages would be like spending on “shovel ready building or road projects”: very quick take-up, providers might need only a few weeks to help the older persons get signed up for their additional services.

    When an older relative was *approved* for a higher level package = more weekly hours, a couple of years ago, someone in the care sector advised the family “don’t hold your breath waiting”. It took more than a year to start; the higher level package is now operating for that relative, who insists on staying at home.

    Money isn’t everything, but anyone looking at the (very incomplete) list of services above, can see what it could represent to someone with limited eyesight or limited mobility or other age-related challenges.

    Rev. Ambi
    Disclosure: I am NOT on the waiting list, and do NOT operate a gardening/mowing business.

  7. Rev Ambi: You may not be old enough to remember the pink batt crisis in the distant past when it was claimed that some deaths occurred because the rapid expansion in this activity meant people were starting work on this job without enough training.
    The same issues could arise with respect to home care packages. How are extra carers going to be trained and evaluated quickly. How are the systems required to make sure the home care workers are doing a good job. How is the current backlog going to be reduced quickly and the new people who need care are evaluated quickly in future.
    Brian may be able comment on the practicalities.

  8. Well, John
    a few of the services I mentioned have plenty of already-trained persons ready to supply services, e.g.

    Lawn mowing persons
    Taxi drivers
    Cooks to supply pre-cooked meals + drivers to deliver them
    Cleaners to clean homes

    It’s true that other services would need trained staff: showering an elderly person in their home; accompanying safely a person on an outing or shopping trip; caring for a resident on ‘respite leave’ in a residential care home.

    But it’s not all specialist-trained work.
    Of course fully-trained geriatric nurses must be well-trained and should be well paid.

    I focussed on care in a person’s own hone.

    My suggestion is that for Home Care Packages: where the person has been assessed as likely to benefit from assistance (but is not yet bed-ridden, seriously ill, or mentally incapacitated), many of the services already exist in the community – and are also used by some of the not-yet-elderly [cleaning, gardening, taxi driving etc.], and are generally conducted in a professional and reasonable fashion.

    I will not specify which family member, and which friends benefit from Home Care Packages. Most certainly, detailed knowledge and experience is held by people like Mrs Brian who’ve worked in aged care; some knowledge is also held by family or friends of the elderly.

    Not all of us have only read about it (recentl, and because of the Royal Commission).


    Has that nice man from the Nigerian Bank sent me another email, Nurse?

  9. The backlog I was referring to was this:

    there are old folk who have been Granted the right to either
    * a low level home care package, equivalent to a small number of hours of assistance each week, or
    * when already having received a lower level package, some extra hours every week (a higher level package as it’s called)

    These people’s details are already known: names, addresses, ages, medical histories, etc. They are entitled to, and waiting for, the extra services.

    They are right now on a waiting list.
    No-one needs to go out searching for them.
    (Trained assessment staff are sent out by local councils and do these assessments regularly in the community. When someone reaches an advanced age, I believe they can be assessed annually.)

    And to avoid conflict of interest, the assessments are NOT done by the care providers. By the way, a care providing agency coordinates the care and funnels the Commonwealth funds through. That agency wouldn’t usually directly employ the gardener or cook or podiatrist or taxi driver or lawn mowing person, etc.

    But if the aged care agency also operated aged care homes then in those residential facilities they WOULD employ trained nurses, pharmacists, care workers; and likely call in hairdressers, GPs and so forth.

    BTW, I’m not writing here about the horrendous cases of neglect and worse seen in the Royal Commission. Neither do I claim that older folk living at home are never subject to “elder abuse”.

  10. The Conversation had this thoughtful article which asked Is Scott Morrison’s Government ‘authoritarian populist’ with a punitive bent? Me I am concerned about a government that wants to prosecute reporters for investigating wrongdoing and punish anyone who provides them with evidence of government misdemeanors. A government that wants to shut down Get-up, unions, opponents of cruelty to animals and proponents of action that will slow the rush to a climate and extinction emergency.
    A government that wants to demonize welfare recipients and imply they are using welfare to buy drugs AND…………..
    (John Davidson denies he wrote this comment. He won’t say why he feels a denial is necessary.)

  11. John, the author, Carol Johnson, an adjunct professor in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Adelaide, is spot on. Thank heavens for The Conversation, while noting that her piece was also published by ABC Online.

  12. Good on the money article, John D. That describes Morrison as a milder Trump, which he is. It was from Morrison that Trump developed his version of “turn them back” with his own special improvement of child separations, and, I believe, the trafficking of children into invisible doubtful futures as seen with the manipulations of young girls in New York in the dead of night as caught by reporters.

    Trump rejected Turnbull because he was trying to pass off some of Australia’s “problem”, but once Trump understood the full plan as laid out by the architect of the asylum seeker deterrent plan, Trump was all palsy walsy with sycophant Morrison.

    The entire Liberal process seen by LNP is to diminish Australians and elevate corporations and their elite executive “class”. Australian’s had better wake up out of their “leave it to someone else” state.

    When one in ten people own ten houses each, then 10% of the population will own most of the real estate. The average $900,000 house “value” ensures that given sufficient time most properties will become owned by a minority of people, and all funded by renters (the growing body of people who can’t afford to buy. Its about being able to add together the forces: wages static, inflation low but steady, prices slowly increasing, unions smashed so ability to address wage injustice reduced, property prices steadily increasing well above wage growth, condensation of the media into fewer conservative organisations (try to phone a journalist to discuss an issue…good luck with that one), etc.

  13. “One in ten own ten houses each…..”

    Where did that come from?

    Do we know for sure that the proportion of renters is increasing? Or are you sketching out a dystopian possibility. ……

  14. Ambi, here’s an ABC article, which does not give joy.

    now nearly a third of households [are] renting.

    Twenty years ago only about quarter of Australian households rented.

    The trend is heading the wrong way.

  15. Here is one evaluation. I don’t if it includes those who own property but do not live in Australia.


    Competition for those 28% of investment properties has been very effective at keeping property “values” above the affordability level of a large cut of lower income Australians.

    My recollection is that Howard sold the negative gearing with the line that this will increase the rental housing stock and bring housing costs down.

  16. Message To Those In States Elsewhere.

    Today in Queen’s State Victoria, it is Melbourne Cap Day.

    Traditionalists wear their formal caps, indicative of social standing and private schooling, or in rare cases actual aristocratic lineage. The Cap Day Parade proceeds down Queen Bess Street in high drays and formal attire (worn so memorably by Sir John at the 1977 Melbourne Horse Racing Carnival).

    It’s a day when all persons, low or high, are welcome to imbibe and wager and parade.

    Young ladies save money by employing very small quantities of cloth, and outrageous feathers.

    Young gentlemen dress in weird costumes. Occasionally a thoroughbred must be shot, but that is done tastefully.

    We trust this explanation will serve to assist the mystified.

    All rise.

  17. Ambi of the High Dray (AHD): I have heard rumors that a race will be held today (2nd Nov) between animals to determine which ones will be lucky enough to be retired to the breeding paddock and those who will be, quite literally, be knackered. Of course, some of the animals will have been gelded before the race which probably means that they are knackered no matter whether they win or lose.
    Despite all the above, residents of the lower state named to honour old Queen Vic still want to insist on claiming superiority. (Pls note that superiority is based on more than the height of you dray and your ability to stick your nose up in the air.

  18. I remember being in a department store once, trying to buy something. Of course customer service was suspended.

    Second story, back in the 60s I was in a university exam. The supervisor wrote the winner up on the board.

    Third story. Also from the 60s. I was in a bus travelling to St Lucia. The driver stopped the bus, ran into a house, any house, then came back and announced the winner.

  19. Well, Mr Davidson, if you’re going to jolly well poke fun at us, we might just have to retire to our private clubs and snort rather crossly into our crystal brandy glasses. It has always been difficult to make some persons understand refinement and good manners, let alone high fashion, debentures and the winter pleasures of ****** and environs.

    (Our friends tell us not to reveal our special places in France, lest they be over-run by ghastly hordes of Australians.)

  20. Ambi of Victoria:

    (Our friends tell us not to reveal our special places in France, lest they be over-run by ghastly hordes of Australians.)

    You mean those Australians from outside of your borders?

  21. Oh yes, Mister Davidson, those are precisely the absolutely ghastly Australians I meant. It may be difficult for you to comprehend the sheer awfulness of some of those we share the continent with.

    But to desert our posts would be cowardice.
    That cannot be.

    And we are as committed to the Federation now as we were in those long off days when Melbourne was the national capital. Thus secession is simply ruled out.

    We will suffer the slings and arrows with quiet dignity, as befits our social position.

    Peace be with you.

    Baronet Ambi
    Of Higher Gippsland

  22. The Deputy Leader of the UK Labour Party Tom Watson has resigned and will not stand for re-election. (Interesting timing, at the start of an Election campaign….)

    Mr Watson had clashed publicly with Mr Corbýn, several times. There was a bungled move to abolish the Deputy Leader position, just before the Party’s recent Annual Conference.

    These guys are more shambolic than the old “hard left” Victorian Central Executive of the ALP which Leader Gough Whitlam battled and defeated in the early 70s. (Step forward for accolades John Button, Clyde Cameron, et al.)

  23. Mr Baronet Ambi Of Higher Gippsland: Your titles are getting more and more impressive so the risk of being killed when you fall off your higher and higher growing drays must be going up and up.

    Oh yes, Mister Davidson, those are precisely the absolutely ghastly Australians I meant. It may be difficult for you to comprehend the sheer awfulness of some of those we share the continent with.

    I have worked in every Australian state except Tasmania in addition to its largest territory. What stood out about the southeast mainland state was their obsession about what school you went to and calling each other Mr and Mrs unless they were real estate agents trying to sell you a house. They also had trouble getting their minds around the idea that my working class wife had studied French, Latin and German and done very well at a state school in a regional coal mining town.
    My eldest son, who had spent most of his life in the largest territory, described Melbourne as “that hell hole” amongst other unflattering things. My younger son found that Melbourne education was so far behind the Alyangula standard that his primary school set up a special class for brighter kids to stop his endless complaints about lack of challenge in the backward Vic system.
    There is no accounting for taste.

  24. I spent most of the night reading and pondering the ALP 2019 Election Review, which Penny Wong described as “searingly honest”.

    I’d take out the “searingly” bit, it’s just honest, and laudably competent, well-structured and accessible.

    As expected, there are many factors, but the report in fact admits that when you add up all that you know about what went wrong in Qld, there’s more which they can’t put their finger on.

    Qld has swung before to the point where there was only one Labor rep. This almost as bad.

    I was going to do three quick posts this week, but I’m in trouble again. We are experiencing exceptional (searing) heat, and one mob I’m working for nominated which parts of their two and a half acres they want not to die, with an open cheque on time and water, plus we are going out to Miles to help my sister celebrate her birthday on the weekend.

  25. Reports suggest that a Michael Bloomberg of NYC is clearing the way for a possible tilt as Pres candidate over in USA.

    Apparently he’s wealthy.

    If the Bloomberg TV outfit backs him, it might be the US analogy of Mr Berlusconi in Italy.

    (Oh how we miss those bunga bunga parties.)

  26. Hmmmm

    I wonder if Tony meant it in this sense: “My election as PM kept Labor out, as did my successor’s narrow election win. And now my Party has won three in a row (of which my win was the first ). Scott completed the trifecta. Hallelujah!!

    If so, entirely partisan.

  27. Albanese did well answering questions at the press club today. He got a message thru that was easy to understand and didn’t get trapped by questions. And did this without talking over the questioners like Morrison does.

  28. Mr A

    Mr M Bloomberg is 77 while Pres D Trump is 73. Lots of oldies keen to be Pres.

    Yep, Biden will be 77 this month, Sanders 78 and Warren is the spring chicken at 70.

    I said from the start a Buttigieg ( 37 ) / Harris ( 55 ) was the likely identity politics ticket for the Dems, primarily to get the woke young voters to a booths.

    We shall see.

  29. That said Gabbard was, in my opinion, the only candidate that could pull the Indy vote but the DNC and media trashed that.

  30. Just a note on the late Karl Popper, philosopher and writer on scientific laws/progress/falsification/theory.

    I had a quick look at a collection of his essays. In one he wrote (approx.):

    X wrote “Karl Popper is not a naive falsificationist, but the for the purposes of this discussion I will assume he is.”

    I must object. This is like saying, “Katl Popper definitely does not beat his wife, but for the purposes of this discussion, I will assume that he does.” !!

    At that moment, I decided I liked his style.

  31. Those of you in Queensland or northern NSW, how does the Fire situation look from your vantage? Looks extraordinarily bad from what I’m reading and seeing down here. Hard to comprehend at present because Melbourne is wet and cold.

  32. Val: The air is smokey where I live on the coast with the wind coming from the South. We are a fair way from the actual fires so I know about the same as you do. Recent fires on the scenic rim burnt well established rain forrest and a lodge adjacent to the rain forrest. There have been no fires in these areas since Europeans arrived. What worries me is that the iconic antarctic beach only occupies the cool highest levels of the scenic rim and global warming may shrink the zone for these beeches to nothing.

  33. JD

    There have been no fires in these areas since Europeans arrived.

    Really, in 200 years ?
    Like, none ?

  34. Val

    Those of you in Queensland or northern NSW, how does the Fire situation look from your vantage?

    Thanks for asking. Clear as a bell up here.
    Often the media hype doesn’t match reality.
    Think cyclone devastation hyperbole every year.

  35. Do you have Antarctic beeches in Qld or Antarctic beaches, John?

    All your beaches seemed warm when we visited, thank you very much.

    And what is the “scenic rim”?

    We Victorians have heard the Pacific described as The Rim of Fire = abundant erupting volcanos. Volcanos in our quaint Western District last erupted some thousands of years ago. Our mighty Yarra Creek runs next to the edge of a basalt plain. But digress I must.

    College of Applied Pedantry
    Yarra Creek Campus

  36. No fires since White Settlement, Jumpy, because whitefellas are notoriously Wet Blankets?

    Best not to mention our cold winds and persistent drizzle, Val.
    My high dray has been under shelter ever since Oaks Day.

    Good luck with the fires, all of youse.

  37. Nothofagus moorei

    Well there you go, another misnamed tree species that grows nowhere near the Antarctic.

    Learn something every day, thanks JD.

  38. High Pa Bowl?

    That’s a bowl on a high chair for Grandpa.
    Then there’s

    Hyper Bowl

    which is a technologically enhanced tenpin bowl delivered by a lady of Welsh heritage but Victorian by adoption who will not be lectured about misogyny by that man.

    not to mention the

    High Powered Ball

    which is the mid-Winter Ball in Canberra attended by pollies and journalists, who can’t stop writing about it for weeks afterwards. Jeez!!! Don’t they ever party in the ACT???

    You’re lucky Jumpy.
    Highpabowl about cyclones, bushfires, floods, shark attacks, dingo attacks, crocodile attacks……All part of the natural world.

    Down here it’s Highpabowl about horse races, Aussie rules footy, horse doping, greyhound blood sports, motor GP, motorbike GP….. Racing, kicking, racing and doping. Oh, and Gangland Warfare, of course.

  39. “ Hyper bowl “ reminds me of J.R Thompson on any given day in his prime.
    Shoaib Akhtar and Brett Lee also.

  40. Bernie Sanders keeps bleating about the top 1% income earners need to pay more, in global terms I recon Bernie is a 1%er.

    Am I wrong ?

  41. Ambi: The scenic rim is a secret place where Queenslanders can look down on NSW from on high. It is so high that Antarctic Beech (Nothofagus moorei) grows on the highest places. It can be found as far south as Barrington Tops where I made my first acquaintance. Some of the beeches on the scenic rim are supposed to be over 5000 yrs old. Looking at them makes you think that they are older than that. I regard them with affection and will go for long walks to reach where they grow when I get the chance.

  42. Ambi: I have a passion for the wild woods and seas. It includes rain forests, mangroves, the gorges and wide plains of the Pilbara and places like Groote Eylandt.

  43. If I can step aside from the critique of the media…..

    Val and I recently recalled the DIRE WARNINGS that Victorians were given for (at least) 2 days before the Black Saturday fires disaster of early 2009.

    Qld, NSW and WA are warned about Tuesday 12th.

    Please be safe.

  44. The risk of bush fire is ever present in Australia.
    No amount of warning will save your home if you plonk in amongst heaps of fuel.

    The modern ideology around clearing trees around homes and discouraging safe burning by the residents through prohibitively complicated regulations has a bit to do with it too.

    Folk have got to take individual responsibility for their properties as the first and most effective line of defence against all that nature throws at them.

    I did some work on a place earlier this year where the Bloke has a nice, 90% cleared 2 acres ( approx ) that backed onto thick bushland.
    This fool builds a timber Queenslander style hard up against the back boundary. Had a black roof 1/3rd covered in solar panels to, presumably, reduce his cooling costs. All that and the main back veranda faced WNW open to full afternoon Sun and our prevailing cool breeze comes from the SE.

    There’s little anyone can do to save that idiot ( name and address withheld ).

  45. I wish I’d been a fly on the wall when you told that guy what an idiot he was.
    But you raise the important issue of how do we encourage people to not make potentially fatal decisions like this? Or do we, when disasters happen just point out it is their own stupid fault?

  46. All that smoke that blew over the Tasman is now blowing back over Ballina. It is a bit strange to look towards the sea and see the sun rising through the smoke that is blowing in from the sea. Visibility is poor. Could barely see a bridge about 1.5 km away.
    Lighting is also weird for 3 pm eastern standard time.
    Jumpy: Hobbit holes with fireproof doors and windows built above the flood line seem to be the logical thing to live in where there is any fire risk. They would look better than the things you work on if things were grown on the roof. Problem is the lack of climate action from your mates could make banning building below projected flood lines/sea levels a bit emotional for a lot of people who have bought land along the seaside.

  47. Zoot

    But you raise the important issue of how do we encourage people to not make potentially fatal decisions like this? Or do we, when disasters happen just point out it is their own stupid fault?

    There is more than enough information available.
    I didn’t say anything at all to the Dude because the Builder, when I quizzed him, told me he’d already raised these issues strongly and was met by obstinate stubbornness. I’d point out he and his wife’s professions but youd think I was making it up.

    If over population is as bad as I’m told then let the Darwin effect do its thing I say.

  48. John

    Problem is the lack of climate action from your mates could make banning building below projected flood lines/sea levels a bit emotional for a lot of people who have bought land along the seaside.

    My mates ?
    Who exactly have you imagined them up to be ?
    Feel free to throw in an unqualified armchair psychological diagnosis or two while you’re it it.

  49. Just to clarify, you are saying we should tell everybody affected by these current fires that it’s their own stupid fault?

  50. Zoot
    No, we ( or more importantly insurance companies ) first should ascertain each case individually and let stupid fall where at may.
    Obviously some instances are potentially arson.

    This trying to put words in my mouth and fabricating some sort of guilt by association is almost as dull as the psyc evaluations.

  51. My humblest apologies, I totally misunderstood when you wrote

    If over population is as bad as I’m told then let the Darwin effect do its thing I say.

  52. Zoot
    Forgiven, turn the page.

    I hope we’re all not forgetful about the importance of the date tomorrow at the 11th hour and it’s importance to the freedoms we still have and some of us wish to keep.

  53. The warnings (in 2009) I meant were
    a) stay off the roads if you don’t need to be out
    b) listen to emergency information on ABC Radio (Melbourne)
    c) put your fire plan into effect if you have one
    d) evacuate early

    None were about location of dwellings, construction materials, or clearing away dry litter fuel. Some folk likely moved petrol cans away from houses.

    It was too late for any of the longer term aspects to be addressed. The fire weather was only days away.

  54. Tomorrow, at the 11th hour I will be remembering my great uncle, slaughtered at Passchendaele a day after the battle was officially won, and his brother my grandfather who was so severely wounded at Pozieres that the stretcher bearers literally tossed a coin to decide whether to attempt to save him.
    Neither of them were fighting for anyone’s freedom, let alone mine. I honour them by avoiding jingoistic tropes and by quietly reading Wilfred Owen.
    What a waste.

  55. Noted by Peter FitzSimons:
    “Brexit’s great irony is that it is a political union (the UK) protesting against another political union (the EU) on the grounds that such unions rob its constituent members of sovereignty.” – Waleed Aly in the SMH.

  56. Scotland only just has an independence referendum in 2014. They voted 55 to 45 to stay.

    What is it with the leftists not accepting Democratic decisions unless they win it ?

  57. That’s not the point Jumpy, but thanks for the gratuitous attack. We may need to remind you of your words in November 2020.

  58. Jumpy: Brexit changes the deal for Scotland. Apparently they have an outward looking economy that would be better off staying in the EU.
    Bit hard to imagine Russia not interfering with the Brexit vote. Weakening the EU would be so attractive to them.

  59. Hi Val, re Those of you in Queensland or northern NSW, how does the Fire situation look from your vantage?

    I life in the Wet Tropics Tablelands region. This year for the first time my annual fire hazard reduction permit got refused and that after a good monsoon and I applied in July. Unheard of. Fire chiefs around the country are reporting that window for reduction burns is narrowing because of warming, less moisture and higher winds. Unfortunately the bush turkeys in Canberra did “not even offered platitudes, just closed doors and minds …” when 32 emergency experts wanted to see the chief bush turkey on his breeding compost pile.

    Also this does not help

    Under this Liberal and National Government, the capital budgets of both Fire and Rescue NSW and the Rural Fire Service have been cut by 35.4 per cent and 75.2 per cent respectively – the equivalent to axing the jobs of at least 100 firefighters and 50 new firefighting trucks.

    As for our resident Spangled Drongo’s ‘hippo pool’, somebody remind me; how many residencies and businesses got flooded by the record rainfall and record flow at Ross river in this years from that tropical low. Not even a cyclone and it later killed how many cattle up Julia Ck way. From memory, the Townsville damage bill itself is nearly $1.5b half the people were not insured. Up to half a billion heads drowned, miles of fences gone, infrastructure damaged. How about cyclone Yasi which basically wiped out the main banana growing area around Tully for years with banana prices up to $9/kg here in the north and … do you want me to go on. Hyperbole? Years ago I worked with a researcher who looked at peoples attitudes towards emergency situations particular wrt cyclones. What his research showed up, is that it was these puffed up fancy birds with their hippo pool attitude who were the biggest thread to themselves and others . How good is science!

  60. Zoot: Cut costs. Cut taxes for the rich. Why would you expect our government to change their cracked record just because we are having a bad bushfire season?

  61. Really, in 200 years ?
    Like, none ?

    That’s actually true, jumpy.

    John. the Wikipedia article says Antarctic beeches in Oz are up to 12,000 years old. My memory is that they look entirely different in that link from what I remember. They look spooky and unreal.

    I’ve seen them at Springbrook, an elevated area immediately behind the Gold Coast, and at O’Reilly’s, both within about 100m of the NSW border.

    Ambi, the Scenic Rim is a spur of the great Dividing Range (more or less) that goes from near Warwick to near the coast at Coolangatta/Tweed heads. Literally at many points we look down on NSW.

    Last night on the TV they said we had 382 fire engines deployed, and 35 aircraft, trying to fight 60 fires. Some are virtually uncontrolled because there’s no-one to fight them. Palaszczuk said this morning that she had sought extra support from the Feds, but had been knocked back.

    Mass fires like this are new in Qld, as are fires in places like Peregian Beach, a small resort on the Sunny Coast north of Coolum, I think, which has burnt twice, and now 6000 people had to evacuate Coroibah, a coastal area north of Noosa, which one would think would never burn.

    Delicacy in not mentioning climate change is ridiculous. Everything has changed because of what we are doing, which has no precedent in the history of the planet.

    Onya Ootz!

  62. John D – too true. If people insist on living in areas prone to bush fires, floods or cyclones let them pay for their rank stupidity. Why should I be forced to share the cost? Talk about rampant socialism!

  63. Scotland only just has an independence referendum in 2014. They voted 55 to 45 to stay.

    And two years later (2016) they voted by a margin of 62% to 38% to remain in the European Union.
    I’m sure our resident constitutional scholar will tell us which ‘Democratic decision’ should prevail.

  64. Brian, re Delicacy in not mentioning climate change is ridiculous.

    Social media is full of galahs engaging in spurts of Greenie bashing, blaming them for not allowing “backburns” anymore. Most of them would never have held a fire hose and faced a fire front or even swung a fire rake. For a start, a back burn and a fire hazard reduction burn are two entirely different fires for entirely different situations. What these mainly greying immature schoolyard bullies and self entitled experts fail to recognise is that the greens have not been in government nor do they have their hands on the purse string. It is ‘their’ Governments who are cutting budgets and who do not allow appropriate risk management strategies to be put in place.

    Further, if now is not appropriate time to call out a neglecting government to be better prepared for consequences of climate change, when is it? To argue that no is not the time for politicising the issue, why then engaging in the greenie bashing? Meanwhile the head turkey is posing with disaster victims, the marketing person he is, and then telling us we can’t discuss the clear link between the disaster and the governments lack of action on climate change. It is not just the greens who are asking for answers but emergency chiefs, local government leaders, previous coal mining executives and others on the fire front too. Meanwhile the deputy chief turkey is blabbering on about “inner city lunatics” hasn’t he got an emergency to attend? What has he done about climate change, about water, about anything other than being the pied piper for large corporate donors. And yet still the bush cockies are voting and barracking for these turkeys in government. Finally in other news the Hoary-headed Grebe aka Malcolm Roberts is collecting signatures for leaving the Paris Climate Agreement.

    BTW the Spangled Drongo, or Badjindjila in the local language, is also used to call out a somewhat silly show off. Perhaps Bina gari or no ears/not listening, often attributed to slow learning juveniles, would be a more accurate description, but will keep with the bird scheme.

  65. Some of you may be comforted to know that Nats leader Micheal McCormack has had a good rant against those who want to talk about fires and climate change.

    “They don’t need the ravings of some pure enlightened and woke capital city greenies at this time when they are trying to save their homes.”

    However, to make matters worse some Regional Mayors have said:

    Mayors from fire-ravaged areas of New South Wales have said there is no doubt in their minds that the devastating blazes tearing through their communities are a result of climate change.

    Key points:
    Coalition politicians have criticised people for linking deadly bushfires and climate change
    Mayors from fire-ravaged NSW have hit back at that, saying climate change is contributing to fires
    Glen Innes mayor Carol Sparks says politicians need to believe the scientific evidence on climate change
    Their comments are a rebuke to senior leaders within the state and federal governments, including Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Deputy PM Michael McCormack, who have criticised people for linking the current deadly bushfires to climate change.

    Funny thing, the Nats lost nearly all their seats in the NSW state election. The Nats have to realize that right now they can’t be the Big Coal Party, Big Ag Party and Ordinary Farmer’s Party at the same time.

  66. And two years later (2016) they voted by a margin of 62% to 38% to remain in the European Union.
    I’m sure our resident constitutional scholar will tell us which ‘Democratic decision’ should prevail.

    Scots got outvoted.
    Don’t like it ?
    Stiff, ya can’t sit on two chairs at the same time, the Brexit vote combined with the Scottish independence vote settles it.

    Just face it, Bexit, Trump and Morrison won, it broke you, get over it.

  67. WRT “Bexit” & Trump: not my circus, not my monkeys.
    But feel free to display your ignorance with your “armchair psyc”

  68. Fair enough, I’ll take that as you conceding my points unrefuted.

    Just out of interest, who do you consider your “ monkeys “ and which “ circuses “ do you consider yours ?

    Feel free to rank them ( eg, tier 1, tier 2, tier 3…….etc )

  69. Jumpy: The decision to have a Brexit vote was taken after the Scottish independence vote. Not unreasonable now that the English are trying to impose something that does not help the Scottish economy. Not unreasonable either to have another Brexit vote now that voters have a better idea of the effect Brexit will have on their lives.

  70. Larissa Waters spoke well in Greens hit back at Deputy PM’s “raving inner city lunatics” attack.

    I liked her emphasis on keeping people safe. It’s not what thew climate is at present.

    From the Ian Dunlop piece Ootz linked to:

    The world is currently on track for a temperature increase of 4.5 degrees by 2100 which would trigger global collapse long beforehand. Even if the Paris Climate Agreement voluntary commitments were implemented, and there is little sign of that happening, temperature increase would be 3.5 degrees probably long before 2100, a world of social chaos. A 1.5 degree increase, which now implies extremely dangerous climate change, is assured by 2030, irrespective of any action taken.

  71. Being a democrat is different from being a Democrat (Party) supporter.

    I wouldn’t and didn’t vote for D. Trump but I defend the Americans’ right to elect him.
    Having elected him the US must live with the consequences. *

    Being a militant democrat, I insist that the result of a properly conducted election should be respected no matter what the result.

    If any of us starts to “pick and choose” which results we respect, that weakens the democratic principle (however slightly).

    Mr Morrison was elected.
    Respect the office.

    Criticise his Govt’s policies by all means.
    Respect the office.

    *PS I considered Secretary Clinton a very poor candidate but she wasn’t my monkey and didn’t perform in my circus.

  72. Ambi: In terms of the US election you said:

    Having elected him the US must live with the consequences.

    But then went on to say:

    Being a militant democrat, I insist that the result of a properly conducted election should be respected no matter what the result.

    In the case of the US Clinton got more votes than Trump and would have been president if it were not for the peculiarities of their electoral system, State governments running the election in their state and, worse still biasing the results by setting up systems to favour their party. It is a bit like the way good old Joh rorted the the Qld electoral system.
    I think that the system in Australia should give government to the party that won the two party preferred vote which Morrison won by a small margin. In this case I am not completely comfortable because I think Palmer’s alleged $60m “kill Bill” advertising campaign may have been critical.
    In Australia government is sometimes delivered to the party that lost the 2PP. (Both Labor and LNP have benefited.) My understanding is that the AEC does adjust boundaries to reduce the risk of the winner of the 2PP losing.
    Some of you may have seen my proposal for a 3 member electorate system that guarantees the winner of the 2PP forms government and makes results less sensitive to the size of electorates and boundary locations.

  73. Pedants please note:
    There is no Democrat Party in the USA.
    However there is a Democratic Party.

    Stand easy.

  74. Ta zoot. Always factual.

    John: that’s the American Presidential election system, no matter how unusual it may appear to you and me. Both major Parties there knew the rules and campaigned accordingly.

    In the Australian system, as far as I know Mr Palmer’s ad blitz was neither illegal nor improper. The ATO could have closed it down if illegal.

    It was noted in Victoria and elsewhwre that Mr Shorten had two (opposite) messages on coal mining depending on his audience. That probably worried those few voters who value honesty and consistency. Along with franking credits, it gave Mr Palmer plenty of material to work with.

    Those Palmer Party ads were run in a context, much of it created by the ALP and its Federal Leader.

    As far as I can see the Morrison Coalition Govt was elected in a free and fair democratic election with compulsory voting conducted by professionals (ATO). Ain’t democracy grand?

  75. Ambi:

    Mr Morrison was elected.
    Respect the office.

    What does respect mean in this context, what exactly do you want respected and how do you want it respected?
    I realize things are different south of the Murray. (SOM) In SOMland respect seems to be given on the basis of what school you went to, the position you were given by someone higher up the pecking order and/or the height of your dray. However, in the rest of Orstraliar


    has to earned and, if anything school, high position and a very high dray makes it harder to get respect.
    Morrison seems to believe in position power, a form of power that is considered by some to be lower down the scale than things like expert power. Can’t say I have much respect on the basis of what Morrison has done so far. Trying to stop the media investigating government stuff-ups and trying to shutdown inconvenient organizations like Get-up don’t earn my respect.

  76. Those two actions don’t appeal to me either, John.

    Respect the Office – I suppose I mean he was legitimately elected PM.

    Respect the PM – play the ball, not the man (as we say in cricket and Aerial Ping-pong )

    Varieties of disrespect of this PM I have seen include:
    Denigration of his religion
    Claims that Clive P “bought” the election result
    Denigration of his gender
    Denigration of his intelligence
    Contempt for his former working life
    Suspicion about his rise to the leadership of his Party

    And the usual scuttlebutt of Aussie politics: that Big Money is corruptly influencing Party policies, hidden away where we Honest Citizens can only guess at the machinations (back in the 1930s and 1940s some Aussie pollies used to rail against “The Money Power “…… little has changed, I think.)

    Ambi of the Overflow

  77. Ambi: Varieties of disrespect from this PM I have seen include:
    Denigration of the religion of others and trying to impose his beliefs on other people (Ex: People who want to marry their gay partner.)
    Claims that the Unions have bought the ALP.
    Denigration of people of indefinite gender
    Contempt for people who haven’t been able to get the sort of well paid jobs that he thinks anyone should be able to get.
    Contempt for whistle blowers who get caught.
    If you want to get respect you have to give respect, not just demand it.

  78. Mr A,
    Don’t forget the Russian influence.
    Every Conservative electoral win from Brexit to Trump is because of that.

    Damn that Conservative favouring Kremlin !!

  79. …people of indefinite gender…

    Well that’s a new one to me.
    Add it to the long list that should be about 2.0002 genders.

  80. Ambi, I agree with what John D has said about respect.

    In the Australian system, as far as I know Mr Palmer’s ad blitz was neither illegal nor improper. The ATO could have closed it down if illegal.

    Legal, perhaps, but improper enough for respected people like constitutional lawyer to call for changes in the law to prevent something like that happening again. It was clearly unethical to distort the truth in the way he did and mount a personal attack on a political candidate.

    Palmer wanted a coal friendly government. In my humble opinion, take him out of play and Morrison would not have had a majority. But there is no way of proving that.

    BTW here’s what the ALP election review says:

    The emergence on the Australian political scene of high-wealth individuals who deploy substantial financial resources to influence the outcome of elections must be resisted. Money can distort democracy. A policy response from Labor should be pursued despite the difficulty of success in this Parliament. As occurred in the 2016 US election, social media platforms were used in the 2019 Australian federal election to carry messages that were entirely untrue, best exemplified by references to a death tax and Palmer’s claim the McGowan Government sold an airport to China for $1.00. Unchecked, this practice is likely to feature more prominently in future federal elections. We recommend spending caps and truth in political advertising legislation based on the South Australian model be investigated and pursued in the Australian Parliament. Reforms to electoral laws are further discussed in Chapter 10.

  81. I am somewhat discomforted by the writings on respect by m’learned colleague Ambigulous.
    As an Australian I consider myself heir to a rich history of irreverence and the thought of anyone deserving respect purely because of the office they hold is more than a little grating. It smacks of St Paul’s claim that governments are ordained by God.
    It seems to me the trope that we should respect a person because of their position is a relatively recent import from our Yankee cousins and I can’t agree for a few reasons.
    It says I should respect Adolf Hitler because he was Germany’s head of state. I don’t.
    It demands I respect people whose behaviour brings the office they hold into disrepute (people like Bill Clinton). I don’t.
    And our own political class refuse to comply with it.
    I’m sure all here remember Tony Abbott (and Sophie Mirabella and Bronwyn Bishop) campaigning on “Ditch the Witch” “Bob Brown’s bitch”. If the Prime Minister in waiting doesn’t respect the position of Prime Minister, sure as shit I won’t.

  82. It was noted in Victoria and elsewhere that Mr Shorten had two (opposite) messages on coal mining depending on his audience. That probably worried those few voters who value honesty and consistency.

    Ambi, I don’t believe this was true. Said people were mistaken.

    Officially Shorten, and Labor, sat on the fence on Adani.
    Shorten said that it had to be commercially viable, and had to be ticked off environmentally. This was a position that pleased no-one, and was perceived as ambiguous because it was neither for nor against Adani, but Shorten was consistent in his stance.

    There was one occasion where Shorten said he didn’t like the project personally, he didn’t explain why. This was taken as playing both sides of the fence.

    You can argue that the Qld Labor govt favoured Adani by extinguishing native title, and the speedie approval by the Qld Environment Department which Palaszczuk called the ‘independent’ umpire, Qld lacking an EPA.

  83. Brian, one of the examples that received publicity down here (I’m hazy on details now but it was something like this) was when an ALP candidate in Queensland signed something like a union pledge supporting coal mining/Adani and Shorten equivocated about it.

    Ootz, I hope everything up your way is safe from fires at present and remains so this fire season. We all need to talk about, and act to reduce, climate change, otherwise more and more areas will be at risk. When we are simultaneously seeing areas that have not historically been at risk for fires become so, and politicians (including Labor MPs) say we shouldn’t be talking about climate change, the mind boggles.

    Excuse me, Mr Butler, are we allowed, while bush fires are actually burning, to point out that climate change is making them worse, or would that be rude? I’ve lived through a bushfire (1983 Ash Wednesday) and I cannot imagine being upset if someone said climate change was making fires worse. The only way you would see that as ‘politicisation’ was if you were a climate change denier, so I’m not sure what game Mark Butler is playing, since he clearly isn’t a climate change denier.

    (Well I can make a guess – he himself is politicising the issue by subtly legitimising the attacks on Greens politicians.)

  84. Sorry Ootz just re-read and saw that you’re in the Wet Tropics Tablelands whereas most of the fire risk areas today from what I can work out are further south. Anyway best wishes still hold.

    A thing I do remember about living through a bushfire is that I used to get irritated by people who got location and time details wrong – so I guess people express their stress over different things, and some may express their stress by getting annoyed over people talking about climate change – but I don’t really think you’d do that unless you were in denial to some extent.

    But it’s one thing for bushfire survivors to get angry or even irrational about such things, but for politicians removed from the action to try to capitalise on this politically is wrong.

  85. an ALP candidate in Queensland signed something like a union pledge supporting coal mining/Adani and Shorten equivocated about it.

    Val, I don’t have a clear memory of that one, but as I said Shorten sat on the fence. The unions themselves were not in unison, and the CFMMEU is a broad church with variant views within it.

    Labor is now saying (the ALP review) that coal mining will be part of the energy mix “for the foreseeable future”, which goes too far for me. Internally a branch near me is doing incredibly detailed work on what a ‘just transition’ might look like. Down your way there are five teams of people looking at what we can learn from the Green New Deal and are looking at collaborating with community groups in piloting ideas.

    There is a lot going on. The unions involved in coal know it’s not forever, they just don’t want to give up well-paying jobs to serve coffee to tourists visiting a dying GB Reef.

    The Palaszczuk government has a number of regional development support programs running emphasising innovation and start-ups. Quite a few women seem to be taking up the offer.

    At the same time we are opening a defense vehicle manufacturing company (Rheinmetall in Ipswich), and a Qld firm is the main supplier to EV charging quick charging stations in Europe. In the last year Qld manufacturing grew more than in any other state.

    However, our population increase was second only to Victoria’s.

    Qld is investing in infrastructure, but has been dudded by the Commonwealth, because we don’t sell public assets. NSW gets $ for $ in infrastructure spending from the Feds for selling their electricity assets, while 24/7 they get electricity from us, and charge consumers more than we do.

    The situation is quite complex .

  86. Val, Labor clearly took a deliberate decision that they were going to stay clear of the mudslinging on climate change vs bushfires. That’s all it means. Started with Penny Wong’s ‘let’s talk about this calmly later’. Albo made a comment condemning either Barnaby or Michael McCormack,forget which, but affirming commitment to climate change action. Butler tried to continue that stance in Q&A, so I heard, but it wasn’t ever going to work there, so he no doubt looked bad.

    I don’t think Adam Bandt’s one-liners advance anything much, and Twitter is not the place for deliberative discussion. So it morphs to name-calling which has the effect of firming the Coalshevics in their views. It’s poor strategy if you want actual change, but good politics and point-scoring. Extinction Rebellion on the climate emergency is similar in adopting strategies which make them easy to call extremist nutters, or dismiss as ‘catastrophism’.

    You can’t get into the sewer and come up smelling roses.

    Right now we should be discussing how to build resilience, co-ordinating responses plus also undertaking pre-emptive burning, fire load reduction etc. There has been a lot sdaid about that on ABC RN from academics who work in the area.

    One yesterday speaking of NSW several said NSW simply did not have the staff, or indeed the skills to do what needs to be done. We are losing knowledge from Indigenous peoples and older farmers.

    NSW has cut back on fire-fighting staff and resources. QLD has had no growth in recent years but is now planning to recruit 100 more fire personnel.

    There also needs to be some thought given to town planning, building codes, group shelters and such.

  87. Brian: Shorten believed he would win easily and some of the things he did before the election reflected this. On Adani he made his decision on the basis of avoiding the impression that Labor was going to increase the “sovereign risk” by reversing approvals.
    In terms of fighting fires and talking about the NSW premier was well ahead of the pack. She said in a calm voice something along the lines that fighting the fires was the priority of the moment and that after the crisis there should be a major review including talking about the impact of climate change.

  88. Brian, I believe that you are doing all you can to shift Labor to a better position, but you won’t convince me about Labor unless I see real commitment from politicians. Like many, I am thinking that Labor has if anything gone backwards on climate change commitments under Albanese, as far as it’s possible to tell.

    I am not sure that Greens Senator Jordon Steele-John saying that conservative politicians are like “arsonists” helps the debate, but I understand his anger. I think Labor supporters (and Mark Butler) should understand this too, rather than taking politically convenient ‘centrist’ positions and rebuking both sides as if they are the same. That is politicisation. It is possible for Labor to say that such accusations are unhelpful, or even damaging to public debate, but still acknowledge that the anger is justified, rather than suggesting the Greens and the Nationals are somehow equivalent.

    Like so many people, I am saying that Labor needs to stand for something. I won’t pursue this debate at present because such political disagreements can go on and on without getting anywhere. However, until I see a Labor leader who can stand for what are supposed to be Labor values (which, as I have suggested before, would also mean a female leader, if Labor really believes in equality) and be clearly and wholeheartedly supported by her party, I won’t be convinced Labor really does support those values, including acting on climate change, above short term supposed political advantage.

    Jordon Steele-John might be wrong to use such language, but at least he cares about the biggest issue facing the world at present.

  89. Val: I am an active Green because I think the Greens are pulling in the right direction and have an important role in helping to redefine what is considered “reasonable” by taking taking positions that are more extreme than a reasonable outcome. In addition, because they are a party of the educated middle class they can be better at taking educated votes off the conservatives than the Labor party.
    Given the above what Jordon Steele-John said about the arsonist LNP seems reasonable when my understanding the LNP was trying pass some laws that will extend coal fired power production while NSW and Qld are burning doesn’t seem all that unreasonable.

  90. Val, emotion from those affected is completely understandable.

    However, you simply can’t make a link between whether politicians show emotion or not and what their policy position would be on climate change.

    Albanese has been very firm on the need for Australia to back its international commitments, follow the science and commit to meaningful action. He’s been very strong on seeing the green economy as an opportunity, stronger than Shorten ever was. Also more senior Labor colleagues have come out and said there will be no backsliding, not just because Joel Fitzgibbon said what he did.

    I missed Labor ” suggesting the Greens and the Nationals are somehow equivalent.” Usually Labor ignores the Greens, preferring not to give them oxygen. If equivalence was suggested I think it would be on the basis of language used, but I would have thought that Joyce and his leader were in a class of their own.

    Can’t agree that a female leader is a ‘sine qua non’ condition. I think you’ve made an assertion, but not a case.

    I think the bushfires have seen us miss a huge opportunity in what we could have been talking about on climate, but I’ll elaborate on that tonight

  91. John D thanks for bringing up sovereign risk in relation to Adani. For a while it was front of mind in considering the issue, but later people just forgot about it.

    The next big one is the $45 billion Woodside is about to spend in developing their gas assets. It’s a wicked problem – ie. no good solution.

  92. Brian:

    The next big one is the $45 billion Woodside is about to spend in developing their gas assets. It’s a wicked problem – ie. no good solution.

    Woodside has the sort of expertise that is needed to produce and export renewable hydrogen and/or ammonia.
    Carbon tracker has pointed out that

    In the past decade investors have suffered considerable value destruction following the mispricing exhibited
    in the dot.com boom and the more recent credit crunch. The carbon bubble could be equally serious for
    institutional investors – including pension beneficiaries – and the value lost would be permanent.
    We believe that today’s financial architecture is not fit for purpose to manage the transition to a low-carbon
    economy and serious reforms are required to key aspects of financial regulation and practice firstly to acknowledge
    the carbon risks inherent in fossil fuel assets and then take action to reduce these risks on the timeline needed
    to avoid catastrophic climate change.

    They go on to say that:

    The total carbon potential of the Earth’s known fossil fuel reserves comes to 2795 GtCO2
    . 65% of this is from coal, with oil providing 22% and gas 13%. This means that governments and global markets are currently
    treating as assets, reserves equivalent to nearly 5 times the carbon budget for the next 40 years.
    What this means is that the world cannot continue using sovereign risk as an excuse for allowing fossil fuel extraction just because money has been expended on exploration, engineering construction etc with government approval. The fossil fuel industry has known for yonks that world reserves are enough to destroy the planet if all their reserves are used. For this reason they should not expect gullible governments to reimburse them for the money they lose because they conned past gullible governments.
    Some people claim that gas fired generators produce less emissions than than coal fired power. True if you only take account of emissions at the generator but not true if you take account of LNG methane related leakage the comparative energy needed to liquefy, transport the material.
    Senator Larrisa Waters pointed out to me once that total emissions from producing power in China using Qld coal were actually less than using Qld LNG. (Maybe the protesters should move from Adani to the more environmentally damaging LNG exporters ? )
    Which brings me back to renewable hydrogen and/or ammonia.

  93. It’s normally the case in the media and politics to put “ blame “ on an issue immediately, before all the factors are known. It’s a “ clicks, eyeballs, attention “ sort of thing. While the event is happening the emotions are high so obviously clicks, eyeballs and attention is high. When the thorough investigation is done after the smoke clears we find actual arsonists caused many of these bush fires. ( note to Steele-John )

    That said and given the ridiculously radical antics of these “ extinction rebel “ loons, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them are eventually found to have deliberately started some of these fires in a strategic fashion to cause the most damage and get maximum attention. And it’s actually working !!

    But by the time that’s revealed, emotions are down and editors and politicians can’t see the “ clicks, eyeballs, attention “ as valuable to rant about.

  94. Just a note of comedy amongst the destruction, smoke and flames.

    From whom?
    Yep, you guessed correctly.


    He said the drought and hence worsening fire danger, was partly due to the magnetic fields coming from the Sun to our planet.

    This is a new theory.
    (Credit where credit is due. )

    Of course conventional scientists have expressed puzzlement. The solar sunspot minimum has virtually no effect on solar energy arriving at Earth. Also, Ionosphere and magnetodphere effects on weather are likely negligible…..

    Prof Barnaby will be submittimg.his.paper to Nature The Corrugated Iron Quarterly very soon.

    Stay tuned.

    Nobel Prize committees are already on alert.

  95. Jumpy

    My experience in Victoria is that arson is taken very seriously and not a nine day wonder. The Churchill/Jeeralang arsonist from Black Saturday was detected and prosecuted and is still in prison. The Press and TV had a field day.

    Chloe Hooper recently published a book about the case The Arsonist. The crime is puzzling and strange.

    I hear that authorities keep a close on suspected arsonists when fire danger is high. Some arsonists join the CFA; some of them become suspected by their brigade mayrs and are told to leave. All of this is sad and can be deadly.

    But after Black Saturday fire experts said something like 40% of Victorian bushfires in the.previous few decades had been started by faulty electricity supply gear. For instance winds blowing tree branches against power lines; live lines blown down onto fuel by strong winds; shorting out due to dust build up; etc.

    Of course it’s sometimes possible to extinguish a fire before it spreads.

    Jumpy, I reckon the media want.BAD NEWS. Plenty.of.possibilities : fire, cyclone, air crash, scandal, murder, riot, starvation, poisoning, drought, shark attack, snakebite, road crash, did I mention war? ?

    Always mention the War.


  96. Nice to see Jumpy hasn’t lost his talent for conspiracy theories. Mind you, it’s not as good as the Bureau of Meteorology cooking the books, or the squillions the climate scientists are making from the global warming hoax, but he’s still trying.

  97. Well yes, Marlton, I can see why you ( admitted racists ) would like him.

    He has described his own politics as “anarcho-marsupialist” and has expressed his opinion that “patriarchy (and capitalism) still need to be dismantled…

    Anyway, still waiting to find out who your monkeys are and what circus you think is yours. Just a reminder.

  98. Jumpy: You need to be a bit more creative than blaming extinction emergency protesters. Think about it:
    1. The very dry weather is supposed to be the result of the Indian monsoon starting earlier and finishing later. As a result the wet weather stayed up north longer and Aus had less rain because our rain had been robbed by the Indians to boost their agriculture!!
    2. However, there is more to it than that! A leading Indian well known in some circles has had one of his big Aus projects held up on the grounds that a rare little bird would be driven to extinction by his project. It may have occurred to this Indian that a big big drought and sweeping fires might just wipe this pesky bird out!
    3. Don’t ask me exactly how he moved the monsoon dates but he is a big enough operator the resources to warm up the climate enough to move the monsoon dates. He has been investing in renewable energy in Australia. All good LNP followers understand that this is bad, bad, bad because the LNP luminaries like Barnaby Joyce, Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison say so. (Scott and Barnaby have even been seen publicly cuddling a black lump of coal in parliament!!!)
    I await your reply with interest.

  99. Don’t ask me exactly how he moved the monsoon dates

    Probably subcontracted the job to the Illuminati.

  100. Zoot: Nah: Why would the Indians contract out to something European when they have their own pantheon of scary demons, gods etc.
    The really scary thing is that the Indians will think that climate change is a good thing if it produces longer monsoons. The Russians probably think a warmer Siberia may not be all that bad.

  101. The Russians probably think a warmer Siberia may not be all that bad.

    John, I believe they do. Gwynne Dyer when he researched his book Climate Wars in 2008 found that the Russians were war-gaming 100 million Chinese climate refugees moving into Siberia.

  102. I seem to be treading water. Last night my email wouldn’t open. Telstra fixed it for me but it took over an hour.

    Now I have an ugly spot on my arm, growing daily, appeared two days ago, so I’m off to the doctor. I’m worried about cellulitis, which I’ve had three times before, but not for 10 years. Cellulitis, if not arrested, eventually causes gangrene, leads to amputation and likely death.

  103. Climate change has reached a tipping point in it’s presence in the news media. Once there were a few good stories a week.

    Now it’s 6-10 a day. Already today I’ve had a world bioernergy confernce starting in Brisbane I didn’t know about. An American firm is now making aviation fuel from biofuels.

    The Japanese have made steel using hydrogen for power.

    Craig Kelly has accused the Greens of using the bushfires to “further their cult”.

    Last evening Premier Paluszczuk said the fires last summer represented a tipping point in Qld with rainforest burning that had never burnt before, and fires everywhere, not the normal Qld experience. (There are 80 right now). Formal attribution studies take time. This morning one has been completed on those fires and found those last summer fires were made four times more likely because of anthropogenic climate change.

    Must run.

  104. Good news on the catalyst zoot. But if we may talk behind JohnD’s back for a while….

    If most nations have water and many also have sea water, and many have abundant sunshine, why then would a H2-from-solar-energy ptoduction plant be better established in Australia? Why not do it on some scale in every nation?

    Why import liquefied H2 when it can be produced locally?

    (Analogy: using rooftop solar electricity. Directly, right next to its place of production.)

  105. Zoot: Salt water electrolysis makes sense given that logical locations for renewable hydrogen and ammonia production and shipping are the places that produce LNG which tend to be dry and on the coastline. (Some of the LNG infrastructure might be adaptable handling liquid hydrogen and ammonia.)
    Would be interested in Jumpy’s comments on this new, low emission cement.

    The experimental building material was developed by Amir Hajiesmaeili, a PhD student working in the Structural Maintenance and Safety Laboratory of Switzerland’s EPFL research institute.

    In place of the usual steel fibers, it incorporates fibers made of a very stiff type of polyethylene. These not only provide the same amount of structural support as steel fibers, but they also adhere very well to the cement. As a result, approximately half as much cement is required, with readily-available limestone making up the difference.

    This is quite noteworthy, as the production of traditional Portland cement is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, Hajiesmaeili claims that the manufacturing of his ultra high-performance fiber-reinforced concrete (UHPFRC) releases 60 to 70 percent less CO2 than that of regular steel-fiber equivalents. And as an added bonus, the material is also reportedly 10 percent lighter.

  106. Ambi:

    If most nations have water and many also have sea water, and many have abundant sunshine, why then would a H2-from-solar-energy ptoduction plant be better established in Australia? Why not do it on some scale in every nation?

    Australia has high levels of sunlight and more available low cost land compared with others. (Think the Pilbara.) Part of the rational for talking about liquid hydrogen is that countries like South Korea simply haven’t got the low value land to devote to solar panels.

  107. At this point, it’s clear that the problem isn’t technology or economics. It’s politicians and voters who would rather destroy the planet than admit they were wrong.

    Prof Quiggin on decarbonizing steel production.

  108. JD
    Not bad.
    But why not Hemp fibres, a co2 sequester over a petrochemical ?

    Hemp fibre from the Canadian Greenfield plant has been used to build skateboard parks across Canada. It was also used in Beijing to construct the bobsled and luge tracks for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

    That’s not even a new technology but an old one stunted out of existence by Governments.

    ( note: low emission cement concrete. Concrete is to cement as a cake is to flour. Common error, just saying, not a dig. )

  109. In other News, Portland, California continues its downward spiral as they elect a new District Attorney in Chesa Boudin.
    He has vowed not to prosecute public dedication and impeding public movement cases.

    Not surprising give his pedigree and career thus far.

    No wonder there’s a substantial exodus to saner States.

  110. Quite the Marxist pedigree, Jumps. CPUSA, Monthly Review, Chavez, etc.

    Yet he was elected??? May we conclude that the Red Scare just ain’t what it used to be?

    Let’s see how he goes.

  111. In other News, Portland, California continues its downward spiral

    I’m surprised a dedicated observer of the USA would make a mistake like that.

  112. At least the downward spiral and California bits were correct:)

    Any chance you could add your own version of perspective and reasoning to an issue for once ?

  113. As requested, herewith my perspective:
    With regards to Portland, Oregon and San Francisco, California (or Portland, California and San Francisco, Oregon if you so desire) I live in Australia, on the other side of the planet (the antipodes if you will), resulting in me having nothing to say about the conditions within those particular cities. I do note in passing that some fine music originated in both of them, but whether that has something to do with them being shit holes I cannot say. In short, not my circus, not my monkeys, which before you erupt (again) has nothing to do with travelling entertainment enterprises or simians, much as “Chickens coming home to roost” has absolutely nothing to do with poultry.

  114. Excellent non substantive answer again zoot. Constant you are.
    But that comment prompts me to as for a third time,

    Just out of interest, who do you consider your “ monkeys “ and which “ circuses “ do you consider yours ?

    Feel free to rank them ( eg, tier 1, tier 2, tier 3…….etc )

    Or alternatively you have no monkeys or belong to no circus.

  115. Jumpy: San Francisco is not a state and is not the capital of California. Which suggests that even if all your dark assumptions re Chesa Boudin are right the damage he could do is limited. The CV you supplied suggest that, if nothing else, he has a good grasp of the law and is unlikely to approve of the oppressive anti-protest laws being tabled in Tasmania, laws that

    Penalties for a first offence under the laws would be up to 18 months in jail, while a second offence could attract a four-year term and a $10,000 fine.
    Under the criminal code, a court could impose a penalty of up to 21 years in jail.

    another plus is that he probably would not agree with Morrison’s desire to punish people who uncover government crimes, punish protesters and shut down opponents like Getup.

  116. Just out of interest, who do you consider your “ monkeys “ and which “ circuses “ do you consider yours ?

    Is this your attempt at a Socratic Dialogue or are you simply as thick as two short planks? Read my perspective again. I answer this question there (very near the end).

  117. But John

    Tasmania is not Chesa Boudin’s circus and its Govt Ministers are not his monkeys.

    Surely San Francisco provides him with enough to be getting on with? Last I heard they have all sorts of legal matters to deal with (like all places where the rule of law is more important than an officer’s political pedigree, Mr J old chap).

  118. Ambi:

    Tasmania is not Chesa Boudin’s circus and its Govt Ministers are not his monkeys.

    Didn’t say Boudin was commenting on Tas. Just speculating how he might feel about them.

  119. It’s Murphy’s law with me at present. I turned my computer off yesterday, and guess what, the email won’t open again.

    I have some watering to do today on the property I’m looking after, with the owners in Burma. They have a row of 50 shrubs and small trees along the driveway which I’d guess is 400 metres long.

    Our dams in SEQ are about to fall below 60%, which means the desal plant at Tullebudgera will be turned on full-time, and we can probably expect water restrictions. At present the more you use the more expensive it gets per litre.

    These folks emphasised that it was open slather, but I think that may change when they return. I’m being forced into a triage situation with some plants, which I’m sure they’ll understand, but I’ll have to justify decisions I’ve had to make.

  120. I’m not so much a believer in Murphy’s Law as much as I am in the concept of Karma.

    Obviously mine is an arrogant and selfish position but at least it provides ownership and direction within an outcome based context.

  121. Why are you arrogant and selfish because you believe in Karma? And are you saying that Brian’s email is not working because he did something negative in the past?

  122. Apparently the Sveriges Riksbank has sold off all the WA and Qld Govt bonds it held, along with those from the Province of Alberta, because Australia and Canada are among the highest per capita emitters of CO2.

    You would applaud action by a large Bank, Jumpy? Si?

  123. Karma would have to be complicated.
    No way of assigning direct cause and effect.
    Life’s a b*gger like that, you never know what’s around the corner.

  124. Mr A

    You would applaud action by a large Bank, Jumpy? Si?

    What, Sweden’s central Bank, never really thought abut it.
    But unless it divests from Sweden’s oil and other emissions then it’s full of shit and just virtue signaling.
    Presumably the greens would like them to divest from nuclear energy too that produces over 35% of its electricity, and at one point about half.

  125. Mr J,

    You don’t accept that per capita CO2 emissions represents a fair way to compare nations, with their hugely varying natural resources, levels of Industrialisation, and methods of energy generation?

    If not, how would a fairer comparison be done?

  126. Ambi: While you await Sir Jumpy’s pronouncement on emissions I think that a country’s performance should be based on emissions generated by the production of what they consume rather than what they emit. For example, using the existing system, a country that imports all its cars looks good because all the emissions associated with the production and shipping of the cars are counted as part of the emissions of the country that does the the producing. If we switch to a consumer emissions based system the country that imports has to count the production emissions, not the importer.
    Might make some countries that claim to be low emitters have a serious rethink?

  127. I’ve actually read a book about karma. Can’t lay my hand on it, but since it came from son Mark it is bound to be from the Theravada Buddhism school. More about ethics in this world rather than rebirth.

    I don’t know that Wilhelm Halbfass (from your link, zoot) is going to lead you to enlightenment on the topic. Rather confuse you from a Western POV.

    Any way, I’m going to see whether Telstra Premium really does work 24/7.

  128. Email got sorted, and in the end there probably was a bit of karma. I’d attempted some Microsoft troubleshooting and was told the Outlook, the program I use, was incompatible with my computer.

    This time the Telstra Filipino guy fixed it quite easily, and reckoned I had probably closed it improperly. Without going into the details, I tend to have a lot of things open at once, and leave the computer on in quiet mode (I know you are not supposed to) so inadvertent shutdowns sometimes happen.

    Any way, if you know where to start and which way to head there are only about four steps to open it up again.

    Apart from that I had three slabs taken out of my weekend. First, I worked yesterday afternoon.

    Second we had an ALP branch party in lieu of a meeting. I learnt about an agriculture system that is emissions neutral, and someone told me the reason the Chinese are building empty cities to get ahead of sea level rise. Could be right!

    Then today my wife carted me along to the film “Pavarotti”.

    Even if you bare not a classical music person, it’s a tribute to living life to the fullest. It’s very raw emotion that you see in his face in the full screen view. The last song, where he knew it was the end and he knew that he was going to die was astonishing.

    My wife counted 120 songs and arias in the credits.

    There were amazing insights from everyone in his life, including Bono, Pavarotti’s daughters and the women he loved. He had a special relationship with Princess Di, starting with an open air concert where it was pissing rain and the crowd all took down their umbrellas, when asked to with Princess Di leading the way.

    One of the highlights of the year.

  129. The ABC had some kind of silly show on last night ,Australia Talks, where semi-competent “personalities” – yes, take a bow, over-exposed twerps Waleed and Annabel, played it for laughs with a studio audience who loved the boo/hiss approach to ‘discussion’.

    Lord help us.

    This is the so-called National Broadcaster, p*ssing our taxes up against a wall in front of TV cameras.
    “We were out of touch.
    We predicted an ALP win.
    We were so in a bubble.
    We’ll do a survey.
    We’ll make it into Light Entertainment.
    That will show how in touch we now are.”

    Here’s a comment made by a reader of a sarcastic review of Australia Talks on “The Age” website*

    It’s bizarre how on Australia Talks or whatever it was all the white men had been cancelled in favour [of] non white men but all the women who had replaced them were middle class white women…as this apparently represents diversity? When are the ABC and the middle class white women who populate it simply going to cancel themselves altogether due to the absurdity of what they are doing? The whole institution is becoming increasingly unhinged and actually counterproductive. What the panellists asked for primarily on the issues they liked to plug was ‘more discussion’!! Seriously more discussion? How about some results on these issues instead? And on the Alan K[oh]ler show we had a banker admitting that in ‘real terms’ Australian households had gone backwards in the last six years. I mean what other terms than ‘real’ are there? Imaginary terms or something I suppose. So in imaginary terms according to Scomo and Josh we are going great then? It would clearly help the country if the ABC stepped out of the ‘imaginary world’ and got in the real one and began representing the real world instead of discussing the ‘Imaginary one’.

    * disclaimer: I wrote neither the review nor that comment.

  130. Zoot: Saw the full Kafka report yesterday. Given media suppression and raids, get Getup campaign, get unions campaign etc. it made me wonder what was going on and what illegal? activity was being covered up.
    Wonder whether reporting the cover-up will lead to another “get the media” action?
    In the meantime we can enjoy the speculation. Perhaps the prisoner found out that the Russians had succeeded in adding Australia to the list of countries that had set up for cyber infiltration and who they were going to help. Oh the joys of paranoia.

  131. John, I can almost guarantee it’s not our security at stake, but somebody’s arse being covered.
    And in healthy democracies people aren’t just disappeared like this.

  132. The operator of Hazelwood (brown coal) mine has been found guilty by a jury of various safety breaches including

    failing to have a reticulated water supply in worked-out mines

    Some years ago a nearby bushfire spread sparks into the open cut mine and started a mine fire. Morwell was challenged by clouds of coal smoke and ash for weeks afterwards.

    Locals, especially some fellows who had been mine fire safety staff under the old SECV (trigger warning Jumpy: STATE Electricity Corporation of Victoria, formerly Commission) claimed that water spraying would have extinguished the fire – in the good old days before privatisation.

    Morwell faced such a public health problem that afterwards an official, public investigation was held.

  133. Citizen J*** and Citizen z***

    We had a parlour game in Victoria a few months ago, where you tried to guess the identity of Informer 3838 (before her name was published).

    It wasn’t difficult if your parlour had an internet doodad. There were court records online which listed the barristers etc. in various cases.

    If we were to play again, this time trying to guess the name of K, it’d be trickier.

    1. No court records to consult.
    2. Far fewer hints about K in The Guardian, than we had in the Herald Sun, The Age, etc for 3838.
    3. Is it illegal to try?
    4. Is it illegal to discuss Case K with another citizen?


  134. Mr A

    Some years ago a nearby bushfire spread sparks into the open cut mine and started a mine fire. Morwell was challenged by clouds of coal smoke and ash for weeks afterwards.

    Do you remember the culprit of the bushfire that led this chain of events ?

    Apparently ( old 2008 study ) 50% are arson or suspicious and only 6% of the total were natural.

  135. Is it illegal to discuss Case K with another citizen?

    Without checking, I believe the answer is yes. Anyone with better information, please correct me if necessary.

  136. I don’t know the culprit.
    My recollection is that arson was strongly suspected.
    Apparently that arsonist used a rough track which most locals wouldn’t have known about.

    Probably the arsonist was never identified.
    If charges had been laid the trial would have received heavy coverage.

    Not surprised by your figures.

    Also it’s apparently very hard to convict in cases of arson.

  137. But the point of the court case was that preparations for fighting fire should have included reticulated water.

    Regardless of the cause of ignition.

    (In that area there was a history of bushfires, grass fires, house fires, all the usual. Fires started by sparks from machinery, by unextinguished burning off, by arsonists etc.)

  138. Well, as long as it was an arsonist that means the operator of Hazlewood is in no way culpable, the residents of Morwell can go f*** themselves.

  139. Zoot: Private is best of course. Then again even in the land of the high dray the government never had a specialized arsonist dept. (As far as I know.) Before they had replaced shod hooves with rubber tires they depended on shod hooves to spark fires!

  140. Mr A, if it were caused by Sponcom or some mechanical mine malfunction then the mine is culpable.

    National Parks and Crown land don’t have reticulated water to suppress fire either. Pretty sure that’d be most of the bushfire start points before going into private property.

    It’s like the Governments and bureaucrats are held to far less standards than Private enterprises and individuals for some odd reason.

    Consider also fencing around potential drowning areas. Same double standards that Governments themselves make.

    Anyway, only 6% are natural.
    Any guess as to the percentage before whites came to Australia or before global warming?

  141. Oh goodness me Jumpy

    The open cut coal mine was always covered in fine coal dust. Impractical to vacuum it up. In hot, dry conditions it would blow out of the shallow mine over the countryside. On hot dry days it was flammable.

    For the safety of the mining crews reticulated water was always available. The mine operators had their own fire crews (in SECV times). The miners did not depend on the local volunteer CFA crews from Morwell, Churchill, etc to quench a spot fire.


    Operator not wanting mine operations to be interrupted by a little thing like a fire.
    Coal meant to burn only in power station furnaces.

    Got it??

    Surely you know that every place has its own fire risks and suitable fire safety nethods are applied???***

    The fire suppression equipment was required to be maintained by the operator.

    *** you might as well point out that devices like room sprinklers, smoke alarms, fire doors (for buildings) are never put in National Parks to protect the gum trees and koalas.

    Guess what?
    The Apollo astronauts never got around to installing traffic lights on the Moon.

    Horses for courses, old chap.

  142. I case anyone is wondering, I haven’t been abducted by aliens.

    Tuesday night my elder bro and his wife were down. Having his heart restarted. Actually he seemed pretty full of zip.

    They had a fire on one of the properties he leases. managed to get an aerial musterer within 10 minutes. All cattle were mustered to yards on the top of a bare hill.

    Now they are happily feeding their faces off in a feedlot, unaware they are going to be someone’s dinner.

    Yesterday was a medical visit for me, another one today, and last night a local LEAN meeting. A lot of emotion in the room about the fires. Also not much air. 25 people in a small meeting room. Aircon on, but I’ve never felt so tired after being there for an hour and a half.

    The general feeling is that the climate emergency is real, and people want the political discourse to reflect that.

    Today I see the man about my cataracts. I don’t reckon the are all that bad. We’ll see!

  143. Ambi: Suspect that Hazelwood had never needed much fire fighting capacity because brown coal contains so much water. While the mine was operating any small spot fire could be put out by a small fire truck or buried. The big risk comes when a mine is shut down and not rehabilitated. Even in Vic they can dry out and become a fire hazard.
    The underlying problem is a failure to rehabilitate or make safe when a mine shuts down. Even bigger risk if mine shuts down before all the reserves have been mined. Rehabilitation when the mining may resume becomes less attractive.

  144. John

    You are correct that underground brown coal is 70% water. The coal dust I was talking about was on the surface, had plenty of time to dry out in sunshine and wind.

    I wasn’t talking about deep seams of unmined coal. The fire safety folk believed reticulated water was important so that any spot fire could be put out swiftly. The surface coal dust was a fire risk every summer as far as I recall.

    The day of the mine fire was typical of Victorian “fire weather”. Hot, low humidity.

    (Of course that’s the kind of day a determined arsonist chooses. No-one knows if the arsonist intended the fire to spread into the mine.)

    True that an old mine no longer operating poses a hazard. But the problem with the Hazelwood mine fire was that it occurred in an operating mine where fire precautions had been neglected; hence the prosecutions recently completed.

    Before Hazelwood Power Station closed.

    Since the power station has closed, folk have been spreading soil etc over the top of the brown coal in the mine. This can be observed if you drive along the Princes Hwy just south of Morwell and just north of the open cut. This covering-over reduces fire risk and will reduce coal dust blowing around on hot summer days.


  145. I’m struggling to understand what bearing the cause of a fire has on the way we respond to it.
    Is there something special about a fire that starts naturally (whatever that means)? Should we only deploy firefighters to these and refuse to fight fires caused by a carelessly tossed cigarette butt, or some idiot using an angle grinder close to dessicated scrubland (it happened in Perth) or even an arsonist?

  146. I can’t understand that either, zoot.

    Have an angle grinder story too*

    + + + +

    A fire starts.
    Try to put it out when it’s very small.
    Then call the brigade.
    Help to stop it spreading.

    Join the volunteer fire brigade.

    Also, make your own property as safe as you can. Fairly straightforward: reduce fuel, have a fire plan; get equipment if that’s needed. Some bush dwelling folk have firefighting sprays, or a dedicated water tank reserved for extinguishing fires, or shutters to put over windows, or a sprayer on the rook; or a shelter to scurry to; or a pack of valuables and essential documents to take when evacuating without panic.

    The cause of a fire would loom large if you wanted a perpetrator to sue. Do some of us think mainly in monetary terms?? Litigation, anyone? Or a perpetrator to prosecute. Or you could tar and feather a suspect. Lynch mobs are harder to organise when all the likely trees are smouldering…..

    There are laws on fire safety, workplace safety, laws against arson, procedures to lower the risk of electrical failures sparking fires, etc. Complex and multifaceted….

    * a strong, steady strong wind spreads a grass fire out in a wedge shape: afterwards the charred grass pattern points directly to a shed. The shed’s owner swears blind he wasn’t using machinery in said shed that day (Total Fire Ban day).

  147. That little inquiry i n Washington has been outdid by the charging of Mr Netanyahu with bribery and fraud. A sitting PM in the dock.

    He has paraphrased Hillary’s “vast right-wing conspiracy” suggestion, by claiming a “left-wing conspiracy”.

    Young James Packer is on the periphery, gave a voluntary statement to investigators.

    All power tends to corrupt…..

  148. Vale Bill Waterhouse, being sent off with accolades as a “legendary bookmaker”.

    I offer two words:



  149. With three weeks until General Election Day in Britain, a poll in the Guardian has these percentages

    Cons. 47
    Labour 28
    Lib Dem 12
    Brexit Party 3

    In a first past the post election, “two party preferred” doesn’t matter. Brexit Party isn’t running in Cons held seats.

    In a first past the post election, those figures imply a Labour wipeout I think.

    Guardian UK says that at this stage last time, Mrs May’s Cons had a lead of 13% over Labour. Then in her campaign launch she announced a new tax, which soon became known as “the dementia tax”.

    (Shades of Mr Shorten’s “retiree tax”?)

    The rest is Her Story.
    Hearse Tory.

  150. Ambi: Crucial question these days seems to be “what do the Russians want?”
    What seems to be happening to UK Labor may be a warning against the election of leaders by the membership. Perhaps Australian Labor has a better answer. It protects the party from leaders that don’t have much support in the party room or the broader membership.

  151. An article today in the AFR says Labour is looking to lose 30 seats, and Johnson to gain 50, giving him a comfortable majority. That’s if the poll is right and stays the same.

    Next questions, will the parliament support Johnson’s plans for Brexit, and will the EU accept them?

    Then Labour will need to contemplate the wisdom of going to the election with a big, detailed policy agenda, more transformative than the one Labor here took to the election.

    And presumably a new leader.

    While Britain gets used to the idea of being a third-rate power in the world with less influence than it has had in 1000 years, apart from being a permanent member of the UN Security Council, which can’t actually do much, being subject to Russian and Chinese vetoes.

  152. Good point about direct election of the Leader, John.
    The potential problem was made worse in UK Labour by the surge of people paying their five quid and getting to vote… not even a “minimum number of attendances at Branch Meetings” or “minimum number of years as a paid-up member”.

    Open to rorting, stacking, entrism by Trots, entrism by malicious Tories (it is said some joined to have a bit of a larff), etc.

    Compare and contrast: methods and prospects of the Australian Democrats, Australian Greens, Nuclear Disarmament Party, DLP, etc.

    On British Labour policies and attitudes: very “left” with a whiff of antisemitism thrown in.

    BTW, I couldn’t believe that their “manifesto” was finalised only very recently – after the campaigning had begun !!! – at an executive meeting.

    Contrasts with Australian Labor, which had some of its policies sorted and announced more than 6 months before the General Election.

    My guess is: if Boris Johnson gains a largeish majority, he will begin implementing Cons policies ASAP. Why would he not?

  153. Meanwhile in Hong Kong (One Nation Two Systems) local elections have seen a much increased turnout of voters and a surge of victories for “pro-democracy candidates”.

    So the journalists who reported that support for the protestors was widespread across age groups and social classes, were correct. It hasn’t been just a youth movement, or rebellious students, or rioting fanatics….. not with a voter turnout of just over 70%.

    (If the Troubles had been caused by a few thousand fanatics, their votes would have been utterly swamped in the several million ballots cast. And note: the protestors didn’t call for an election boycott. They value the limited democracy they have.)

    Chinese Communist Party: Hong Kong has stood up.
    Your move.

  154. Mr A

    Chinese Communist Party: Hong Kong has stood up.
    Your move.

    Potential Scenario 1) The Communists decide insubordination deserves death and sends 1% of their Chinese People’s Liberation Army ( 200,000 soldiers and associated hardware )

    Hong Kong, your move….

    Every other Nation, what now ?

  155. Just on a practical note, Generslissimo J

    The Tienanmen incident was focussed on tanks and trucks carrying troops sweeping into a huge, flat city square. They arrived via broad avenues. Although hampered by students and citizens who tried to block their trundle into the square, the PLA had a massive and swift victory. The People got well and truly Liberated. (Do not pass go, straight to the afterlife for you Mr Wong!)

    Tank vs bicycle, no contest.
    Tank vs pedestrian, 1 nil.

    But now look at Hong Kong: Harbour, islands, steep hills, many narrow streets, huge skyscrapers, retail plazas, railway network….

    It’s a tougher prospect, Generalissimo.

    There’s slso the financial aspect. For decades HK was the trading and financial bridge from China to the world. Likely not so importsnt now… but can China afford to strangle the egg-laying goose??

    Then there are other nations. Would trade and investment with China continue unabated if the PLA held a bit of a massacre ??

  156. Mr A

    Then there are other nations. Would trade and investment with China continue unabated if the PLA held a bit of a massacre ??

    I don’t know, did much change happen after another communist Government took half of Ukraine by military.
    I didn’t mention a massacre, no need.

    You may need to read Sun Tzu to get it.
    Guaranteed Xi could recite it word for word.

  157. I don’t know, did much change happen after another communist Government took half of Ukraine by military.

    Are you suggesting Putin’s Russia is communist?

  158. Yep.

    Or do you really believe their preamble ?

    We, the multinational people of the Russian Federation, united by a common fate on our land, establishing human rights and freedoms, civic peace and accord, preserving the historically established state unity, proceeding from the universally recognized principles of equality and self-determination of peoples, revering the memory of ancestors who have conveyed to us the love for the Fatherland, belief in the good and justice, reviving the sovereign statehood of Russia and asserting the firmness of its democratic basic, striving to ensure the well-being and prosperity of Russia, proceeding from the responsibility for our Fatherland before the present and future generations, recognizing ourselves as part of the world community, adopt the CONSTITUTION OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION.

    Lift your troll game zoot, it’s really piss weak today.

  159. Sun Tzu to you too, Generalissimo.

    If a massacre is not necessary in 2019 in HK why was a massacre carried out in 1989 in the Citadel of power?

    In your answer you may refer to Sun Tzu, Confucius, Chairman Mao, Lin Biao, President Xi, Deng, or any other luminaries.

    If your tastes are literary or historical, I recommend the Wairarapa Institute of New Sinology.* They have many interesting quotes. Their writers support freedom for Hong Kong people.

    *over the Dutch in New Zealand; a founder is historian Geremie Barme, student of Simon Leys and dinky-di Aussie. These guys read, understand and translate Mandarin.

  160. Nice Mr Turnbull has jumped back into the headlines, speaking about a Minister, a republic referendum, etc., etc., etc.

    His memoirs must be coming out soon.
    What a wonderful Chrissie present for the Quiet Australian PM Morrison, Ministers Dutton et al, Mr Abbott and a host of MPs.

    He’s got their names on a list, as Gilbert and Sullivan wrote.

  161. Federal Court has declared a robodebt debt was “not validy made”. It was a consent order = illegality of the debt was admitted by the Federal Govt

    Egg all over Govt Face.

    Brian, one of your sons said income averaging was incorrect.

    Now it turns out to gave been illegal.

  162. Ambi, the damage this barefaced extortion racket has done is incalculable. Justice is not possible, but one would hope some sort of karma would prevail.

  163. Justice is not possible, but I’d like to see, just for an entree:

    1. Compensation to illegally labelled “debtors”, say at a fair rate of $2000 plus 10 times the error in the debt originally levied or alleged.

    For example, if an erroneous debt of $1000 had been notified, tbat person would have the debt cancelled and be paid
    2,000 + 10,000 = $12,000.

    Or an incorrect debt of $4,000 would lead to compensation of $42,000.

    The reasoning is that everyone tarred with the debtor label is due something, and the level of distress and financial hardship caused could be proportional to the size of the error.

    No, it hasn’t been solely about money. That’s true. But let the money aspect be dealt with in money terms. Not some weak, general apology.

    2. Could we please have some kind of Parliamentary inquiry into the worst of the computer-based stuffups at a Federal level?
    Just off the top of me head:
    Robodebt “model” as an error in arithmetic and as a foolish and arrogant policy
    Computer based Census
    The poor quality of “MyGov”

    If anyone thinkx those were bad, Victoria had a worser one about 10 years ago: an alleged Statewide online system for State School teachers, students to use online teaching materials, submit assignments and for parents to monitor their kids’ progress, etc.. waffle, best thing since slates and chalk, hundreds of teachers “trained”…..

    Crashed on its first “trial day”.
    The corruption and fraud cases have yet to go to trial as far as I know.
    Taxpayer millions p*ssed up against a wall (before Premier Dan Andrews time).
    The wall is still being hosed down.

  164. In another legal context I believe these are called
    “punitive damages”.

    Supposedly they send a message out to all citizens.

  165. “punitive damages”

    I’d like to see the citizens targetted and harmed adequately recompensed, but what about the people in government who perpetrated this horror. Not the workers who were implementing the evil scheme, but the persons who invented and approved it.

    I believe the next step is for the class action to be prosecuted:

    The Robodebt Class Action argues that the Commonwealth Government has taken money from Centrelink recipients unjustly. The Court is asked to determine whether the more than 570,000 debts raised issued by Centrelink after 1 July 2015 lawfully entitle it to recover the amounts claimed. The Court has also been asked to determine whether the so-called collection fees levied by Centrelink should be refunded and whether those who have repaid all or part of those amounts should be paid interest. Finally, the Court has been asked to determine whether the persons affected are entitled to compensation for any distress or inconvenience caused.

    We’ll all pay, of course, through our taxes, but justice will not be served until the miscreants who caused the misery are dealt with.

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