Weekly salon 15/2

1. Rupert gets his just deserts

The New Daily has an article News Corp in ‘dangerous times’ as audience and revenues drop in print and digital:

    Audiences deserted Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp mastheads in 2019 with its tabloid tub-thumper The Daily Telegraph losing a massive 15.5 per cent of its readership across both print and digital editions, according to research house Roy Morgan.

By comparison:

    At News’ major competitor, Nine Newspapers, the story was different. The Sydney Morning Herald grew its audience 4.1 per cent, The Age scored a marginal improvement, growing 1.2 per cent, while the Australian Financial Review performed best with a 14.4 per cent audience jump.

With a bit of luck Lachlan Murdoch will run News Corp into the ground and the outfit will be taken over by people interested in ethical journalism.

Roy Morgan did the survey.

I was surprised and pleased with the extent of news readership:

    Now 15.5 million Australians aged 14+ (74.6%) read or access newspapers in an average 7 day period via print or online (website or app) platforms, and this audience increases to 16.6 million (79.7%) when one considers news portals such as news.com.au and the Huffington Post.

2. We’ve had a bit of rain

I picked that one up on Facebook. The photos were taken four weeks apart.

Now we have stories like Sydney wet weather extinguishes Gospers Mountain ‘mega-blaze’, flooding clean-up continues across NSW.

The Gospers Mountain fire burnt through more than 512,000 hectares, continuing about 78 days.

From mid-January it started raining again in these parts and elsewhere. We had 171mm in January, followed by an 11-day sequence in February yielding 408mm. Together that makes just 10mm more than we had last year.

Two days ago Sydney dam levels reports indicated that dam totals had cracked 75 per cent overall – the first time in close to two years – increasing 33.3 per cent in the past week, according to WaterNSW, albeit with contamination issues.

SEQ dam levels are now at 67.2% overall, with Wivenhoe, which seems to be in a rain shadow, making it to above 50%. Overall dam capacity had been down to around 55%. By rights, at lower than 60% the Qld government should have taken corrective action, which in the first instance would be connecting the recycling facility to the main grid by mixing it with ‘natural water’ in Wivenhoe. This would have cost about $500 million.

We use, I think, about 1.2% a month. The government might just wing it through to the election due on Saturday 31 October 2020.

And in Talgai, near Warwick, we have a leaky dam where about 5000 people got a surprise message late at night:

3. January 2020 was Earth’s warmest January on record

January 2020 was the planet’s warmest January since record keeping began in 1880, achieved without an El Niño event being present.

    Furthermore, we are also near the nadir of one of the least active solar cycles in the past century–a time when it is more difficult to set global heat records, due to the reduced amount of solar energy Earth receives.

28 major weather stations set new all-time heat records in January 2020, 19 of them in Australia.

On 6 February we had the highest temperature ever recorded in continental Antarctica at an astonishing 18.4°C at Base Esperanza. For context the Australian Antarctic Division says:

    average annual temperature ranges from about −10°C on the Antarctic coast to −60°C at the highest parts of the interior.

    Near the coast the temperature can exceed +10°C at times in summer and fall to below −40°C in winter. Over the elevated inland, it can rise to about −30°C in summer but fall below −80°C in winter.

Late news: a new high of 20.75°C has been reached at Seymour Island.

4. Milford Sound gets really wet

Getting 250mm a day at Milford Sound is not news. The place gets about 6.8 metres of rain per annum, and it rains 182 days per year. Early this month they got a metre over about 3 days, but I can only find a couple of early reports like this one.

The 10th anniversary of our completion of the Milford Track is coming up. Milford Sound was certainly exciting. We had a violent storm overnight and had to be taken back over the mountains by helicopter. I might do a post when I get my cataracts done.

This is what the place looked like on our boat trip out to the sea and back next morning:

In advertising you often see glorious sunlight. There is a fair chance you will get something like the above.

Later that morning we saw this looking back to the mountains we had walked through:

5. Political follies

Bridget McKenzie always looked the brightest, most cheerful personality in the room. Now trhat her image is blurred and fading the others behind her are more clearly revealed.

That was from The Betoota Advocate’s Barnaby Joyce Has No Idea Who’s Leaking All This Sports Corruption Stuff To The Media.

Now they have inserted Scotty from Marketing in what looks like a genuine photo of the flooded Myall Creek at Dalby:

More seriously, Laura Tingle gives a run-down on the amazing perfidies executed by the government. Topping the ‘sports rorts’ has been the Female Facilities and Water Safety Stream, even more heavily skewed towards Coalition-held marginal seats, where yopu got swimming pools whether you wanted them or not, with no guidelines, no applications, no tenders.

In the senate inquiry evidence by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) was not pretty:

    The Prime Minister’s office had been involved in suggesting projects for the scheme, the ANAO said, contrary to what the Prime Minister had said in his explanation that his office was just acting as a post box.

    Staff members exchanged “comfortably dozens” of emails, officials revealed, with the Prime Minister’s office making suggestions about funding.

    “Suggestions directly about these ones, rather than those ones,” the ANAO’s Brian Boyd said.

    “[For example], ‘These are the ones we think should be included in the list of approved projects’.

    “Or passing on lists of applications, as to whether they could be included and those to be approved.”

Misleading parliament used to be a mortal sin in our politics.

Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens ask Why does democracy demand transparency?. I recommend this long podcast, especially the contribution of A.J. Brown is Professor of Public Policy & Law in the School of Government & International Relations, at Griffith University, Brisbane.

    The way that the Federal Government dismissed the report of the auditor-general — relying instead on an assessment conducted by Mr Morrison’s former chief of staff, Phil Gaetjens, and legal advice from the federal Attorney-General, Christian Porter, neither of which has been made public — is alarming. This response to the findings of an independent public servant seems to be of a piece with the Prime Minister’s habit of brushing off scrutiny by relegating it to the self-interested world of the “Canberra bubble”.

Transparency is necessary for accountability. Why would Morrison hide these reports if they fair dinkum did what he said they did?

Aly thinks our democracy is so weak Morrison will get away with his diversionary tactics.

It all points to the need for Federal; anti-corruption body if we no longer take notice of the Auditor General.

Malcolm Farr suggested that Morrison’s mob were going for a model of ‘Federal ICAC’ that would work with the speed of continental drift. In other words, a knackered version that would inconvenience no-one.

Meanwhile Katharine Murphy wonders whether disunity really is death in politics. Each of the major parties appear to have irreconcilable internal differences on climate change, with Albanese’s mob tipping in favour of climate action, and Morrison’s the other.

That is worth thinking about.

44 thoughts on “Weekly salon 15/2”

  1. My experience is that conflict often leads to better outcomes. Nothing is more dangerous than a group that puts too much emphasis on consensus and harmony and not enough on looking for the best outcomes.
    One of the early General Managers of GM was reputed to never make a decision till he had heard an argument.
    We certainly need better outcomes in Aus (and the world) than we are getting at the moment.

  2. NT Greens to snub Labor over fracking policy, preferencing conservatives in Johnston by-election. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-02-17/nt-greens-preference-conservatives-ahead-of-labor-in-johnston/11970822. “A political schism has emerged between Labor and the Greens in a Northern Territory by-election contest, with the Greens deciding to preference Labor last, behind conservative-leaning parties.

    Key points
    The Greens will preference Labor last in the Johnston by-election
    The ABC’s chief election analyst believes it will be the first time the Greens have directed preferences against Labor since 1995
    The Greens say they area opposed to Labor’s fracking policies
    Aiya Goodrich Carttling, the Greens candidate in the seat of Johnston in Darwin’s northern suburbs, said the party was punishing the Government for its fracking policies ahead of the February 29 by-election.
    “Labor is holding our precious natural resources to ransom with its push to proceed with fracking,” Ms Goodrich Carttling said.
    “As the party currently in government in the NT, they are the only ones who can reverse this decision.””
    The CLP also supports fracking but the NT Greens saw the by-election as an opportunity to point out to Labor that Greens support should not be taken for granted and fracking is pretty awful.
    Federal Greens leader Adam Bandt compared fracking activity in the Northern Territory to the development of Adani’s planned Carmichael coal mine in Queensland.

  3. Jumpy: There is some debate re whether Lew Brandt is the inventor of the ute in 1934. It is all about what the definition of the ute is. The Australian ute was based on a modified car body and is the ute as we knew it. The older US pickup was a light truck. https://outbacktravelaustralia.com.au/buyers-guide-buying-advice/the-true-history-of-the-ute/
    “In 1933, a Gippsland farmer’s wife wrote a letter to Ford Australia, asking: “Can you build me a vehicle that we can use to go to church on Sunday, without getting wet, and that my husband can use to take the pigs to market on Monday?”
    Lew Bandt, who was then a young designer at Ford’s
    Geelong plant, modified a 1933 coupe, by incorporating tub bodywork in the back and strengthening the chassis so that it could carry a load. The prototype was approved and the Ford Australia ute went into production in 1934 as the Model 40-A Light Delivery.”
    But was this really the world’s first ute?

    It depends entirely on how you define the word ‘utility’. Wikipedia defines ‘ute’ as: “an abbreviation for ‘utility’ or ‘coupe utility’ It’s a term used in Australia and New Zealand to describe vehicles with a tray behind the passenger compartment”.

    It’s widely accepted that the original ‘utility’ was distinguished from a light truck by the fact that its bodywork continued in an unbroken line, aft from the cabin to the tail. A light truck had its cab and cargo bodywork separate.

    Most modern utes aren’t ‘classic utes’ because the rear tub is separate from the cab structure. That’s a necessary separation in the case of a 4WD ute, to prevent stress cracking of the rear bodywork as the chassis flexes.

    A second and very important demarcation is the difference between a 1920s and 1930s ‘utility’ and ‘coupe utility’. A ‘utility’ was derived from a passenger car with a soft-top, convertible roof and a ‘coupe utility’ was derived from a hard-roof sedan.
    Ford Australia’s claim that Lew Bandt’s design was the world’s first ute is based on the fact that it was certainly North America or Australia’s first ‘coupe utility’. All the utilities that preceded it in these markets were soft-top utes.
    But one very early ute wasn’t American at all: in 1927, across the Atlantic, a new company called Volvo (Latin for ‘I roll’) produced its first cars and
    pickups, with open and closed cabins. However, only 27 closed-cabin pickups were produced before the company upscaled the OV4 to light truck size, moving it out of the ute category.

  4. Oh FFS.
    Bandt is telling Trumpys about the Ute thing.

    Strange he’s trying to brag about his ( alleged) genetic link to fossil fuel vehicle proliferation.
    Old Lew innovated fossil fuel tanks in Air Force murder machines too.

    Look, no one knows the party manoeuvring that ousted DiNatale, the greens are as secretive as any communist group, but I’m willing to wager Bandt lowers the greens vote percentage in the next Federal election.
    Small as it is.

  5. Someone lays out claims, facts, debatable points, definitions that differ from country to country and is met with FFS.

    (Fitzroy Football Society?)

    What Terrific Folderol.

  6. We have NBN/internet issues again, and our computer tech is coming later today to try to sort us out.

    I’ll actually be out sweating in our glorious sun, where this year the temp gets down to longer term average for brief periods in cooler spells.

  7. Meanwhile, as the Justice system in Victoria staggers along while a Royal Commission into “police handling of informers” enters its final day of public hearings, this:

    More than 1000 people who received legal advice from duplicitous barrister Nicola Gobbo could be potentially impacted because of her role as a police informer.

    A Lawyer X master list has been compiled by the royal commission into Victoria Police’s informer management of 1297 people who were represented by or received legal advice from Ms Gobbo.

    from “The Age” online.


    Q: how many former senior policepersons face gaol time??

  8. Yes John,
    And Landcare is another programme where folk with a green tinge often cooperate with private landholders, many of who are farmers.

    Farmers are going green also: not just the biodynamic and organic crowd, but may others too.

    It’s a green and brown world out here, not black and white.

  9. An article by Richard Wolffe in “The Guardian” online predicts that front runner Senator Bernie Sanders, an angry old socialist, is likely to be the Democratic Party nominee to run against whatshisname.

    …. we face an election between a Democratic nominee who was pro-Soviet Russia versus a Republican president who is pro-Putin Russia. What a time to be alive.

  10. Meh, I think a Trump v Sanders contest is seen as Stars and Stripes v Hammer and Sickle by most swing Independents.

    That said I think Butters is angling for a VP nomination with Sanders as his Boss. POTUS chance next time, he’s still young.

    There’s a fair chance Bloomberg is still a Republican that’s playing silly buggers inside the Democrats tent. He and Trump go way back like Clinton and Epstein.

  11. Meh, I think a Trump v Sanders contest is seen as Stars and Stripes v Hammer and Sickle by most swing Independents.

    Meh, I think most swing Independents are surprised that someone in Queensland can read their minds.

  12. I have heard that just over 50% of Americans say they wouldn’t vote for a socialist. They are said to be more negative about ‘socialists’ than about African Americans, women, gay people or any other category you might think of.

  13. On farm folk and greenies, in Qld they did find common ground over coal seam gas, but generally in Qld they don’t like being accused of polluting the great Barrier Reef, and the issue of vegetation management is absolutely toxic to relationships.

    I think most Qld country folk say the climate is changing, but it has always changed and humans have nowt to do with it.

    Any way that’s my experience. There are rare exceptions.

  14. Stumbled across this on a cesspool of leftist thought.

    The problem with incompetent, corrupt, fascist government is incompetence, corruption and fascism, not government

    I like it 🙂

  15. On a mundane Family note, middle Son is hunkered behind TI waiting for the low to piss off on the way to Weipa.
    He tells me that it’s a double edged sword. One more day added to the 8 week trip away from loved ones but at anchor the engine room is substantially cooler and he gets a more comfortable opportunity to avoid any mechanical delays for the longer term.

    Spirits are up and comradery is high.

  16. Camaraderie.

    No comrades there, I hope.

    John Bolton’s book has gone to the national security Council for vetting. Dozens of books published with sentences or names etc redacted. Ditto dozens of Govt reports.

    His book should be published after vetting.
    The President has no veto power over publication.

    (Neither is he the US’s “first law officer”. That’s the Attorney General, annoyed that the Tweeter in Chief is making his job impossible. )

  17. Last night’s 4 Corners only reinforced my view that the Chinese polity is rotten to the core. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. The media tend to focus on spectacular grand theft: they love a Marcos or Saddam or Suharto plutocracy for its glitter and $$$.

    But this coronavirus problem highlights
    Suppression of vital public health info
    Poor standards
    Kowtowing to higher officials
    Draconian practices
    Official mendacity
    Party monopoly

    And foolish Aussie Unis to put so many $$ eggs in one basket.
    Foolish world to build a $$ system intertwined with a slavish sweat shop system.


  18. Defiance of Dear Leader Xi has stirred in HK for several years; and recently in Taiwan.

    Is it too early to discern the Chinese Democratic Revolution? Will the dead of Tiananmen Square haunt that nation?

  19. Ambi: And foolish governments ignore the risks of JIT (just in time) When you are talking about food and vital supplies JIT can be a disaster. Read a long time ago that big cities have something like 3 days worth of food available. This was in an article about a flu scare and the possibility that this would shut down road transport.
    A wise government would be looking at what can be done about building critical food/medical/etc. stocks near where people live. I live in hope.

  20. Meanwhile, John

    Do you think Aussies may soon begin stockpiling tinned and other longlasting basic foods?

  21. Ah, ignore that.

    Having just read the sober list with explanations that zoot linked to, I can see the value of having a well thought out plan, not hoarding and not panicking.

    Cheers, zoot.

  22. Just to let y’all know that I am still alive, having survived various adventures, including a stress echo test on my heart. I see my cardio tomorrow, but it seems my heart is ticking over just fine.

    Time for kip now.

  23. Thanks for the link woot, it was probably the most sensible and comprehensive information I came across.

    I think MorrisonPM is rather proactive after being caught out in Hawaii. “Abundance of caution”
    Ahem, would that not apply to CC and emissions? It appears risk management is popular now.

    Another coalition saga continues:NBN Co pleads for cash to help fixed wireless, satellite refugees
    ‘”Least cost to the taxpayer’ rollout not enough for hospitals, schools already needing upgrades.”

    This does not help either
    ‘We’re going to be left in the dark ages’: What Telstra’s shock move says about Australia’s NBN In the OECD only Mexico, Turkey, Greece are slower than us.

    Good luck with Morrisons “working from home” in an epidemic. And it’ll be interesting how Morrison’s new Space Program will handle fixed wireless.

  24. Hmm, not so sure but willing to be convinced,

    A local cleric from the Iranian city of Qom has suggested a novel cure for the new coronavirus – the pre-bedtime rectal administration of violet leaf oil.

    Users on Twitter describe how the Ayatollah Tabrizian has publicly denounced Western medicine as “un-Islamic”.


    In made up News, on the Middle East Stock Exchange violet leaf oil producer stocks have defied International trends to record an unprecedented high.

  25. There are many more things in this world which some consider “un-Islamic” than are dreamt of in your philosophy, Mr J.

    Charging interest on loans.

    (Some Christians also used to rail against “usury”.)

    Rev Ambi,
    Institute of Religion-based Advice to the Confused
    and Credulous

  26. I would however like you to expand on charging of interest on loans and what the difference in philosophy we have.

    I doubt there is much but you’re a very creative individual, linguistically at least.

  27. Wikipedia has spoken:

    “Abbas Tabrizian (Persian: عباس تبریزیان‎) is an Iranian Shia cleric and quack[1] who rejects academic medicine.”

    If he walks like a quack,
    Talks like a quack,
    Writes like a quack,
    then duck (for cover)!!

    He’s most likely a quack.

    * ** **** ********

    Now, Mr J, what inference will you draw from my inability to spot your obvious joke??

  28. Hmm, I read your wall of self pontificating screed and you may want to reconcile that with your latest dross.

    Self reflection and all that.
    I’m sure you’re a consistently nice person in real life.

    But if you’ll excuse me I’m delving into the surprisingly huge ( to me ) influences of Warren Zevon on the music I like.

    Sorry to be a party pooper but youll need to do it without my help.

  29. A web article headed “Are Islamic finance products actually interest-free?” by Adam Smith, says:

    Islamic or Sharia-compliant home loans don’t charge interest in the same way traditional mortgages do. But this doesn’t make them cheaper for the borrower. The existence of Islamic finance comes down to Islam’s belief that usury – or charging interest – is unacceptable.

    As such, Muslims looking to borrow to buy a home while still remaining true to the tenets of their faith must look for other options. Islamic finance overcomes the hurdle of charging interest by instead purchasing a home in partnership and selling it back to the buyer over a pre-determined period of time.

    …. enjoy the music, Jumpy.

    I’m off to the Room of Mirrors to take a Good Hard Look At Myself.

  30. “ It was a joke, not about me Mz A.”
    Sorry, I thought you were in a jovial mood. I never seem to be able to pick where you coming from.

    Here in the wider Cairns Region the tourist industry is reeling from the double whammy of bushfires as well as COVID-19.
    According to an industry publication:
    “”According to a recent Roy Morgan Snap SMS Survey of 1,170 Australian businesses, figures show that as of mid-February around 15% of Australian businesses have been impacted by Coronavirus (COVID-19) with 28% also affected by the bushfire crises..””

  31. Judging by her press conferences yesterday and today, you have a very calm, practical and well-informed Chief Health Officer in Qld.

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