Weekly salon 2/3

1. Is it Biden vs Sanders?

Not long ago Slate was blaming Biden for messing up the selection of a Democratic Party presidential candidate in The “Establishment” Probably Could Have Made a Regular Democrat the Nominee if It Hadn’t Gotten So Stuck on Biden.

Some senior Democrats are going ballistic about Sanders comparing his Nevada win to Nazi Germany’s successful invasion of France, for example. The article says that if you thought Sanders was electoral poison:

    what should you have been doing for the past year to actually prevent the socialist from winning the nomination? Probably finding and supporting a nonsocialist nominee who’s shown themselves ready to run a dynamic general-election presidential campaign, right? Perhaps one like Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, or even Elizabeth Warren?

Instead they supported the has-been Biden, who is preventing the anti-Sanders vote from consolidating.

They yelled and tore strips off each other in the South Carolina debate, and the outcome was a solid win for Biden. Everyone else lost, make no mistake. It was the first state with a significant African American representation:

    Biden may have one man in particular to thank for his success: Congressman James Clyburn, a powerful voice in the state’s black community, who endorsed the vice-president on Wednesday.

Sanders had trouble with their vote in 2016.

Does this mean that the rest should pack it in and back Biden? Pete Buttigieg and now Amy Klobuchar appear to have done just that.Super Tuesday may may shake out Elizabeth Warren and Bloomberg.

Meanwhile the worst that can happen is that Biden wins the nomination and either Sanders of Bloomberg or both run as independents. That would be treason, but I understand is possible.

Sanders recently had a heart attack and refuses to release his medical report. That alone causes concern.

2. Trump bumps into reality

Trump has now called the coronavirus the Democrats’ ‘new hoax’, with Mother Jones reporting:

    “I don’t want to say this, I don’t relish the reality, but you start to feel—watch the Democrats, watch the media—like they’re rooting for coronavirus to spread,” Hegseth said on Friday. “I don’t say that flippantly, but they’re rooting for it to grow, they’re rooting for the problem to get worse, they’re rooting for mysteries, unknown cases, quarantines, towns, for it to become an absolute national crisis for one reason and one reason alone.”

He is worried about the economy tanking. I heard that presidents running for re-election are a shoe-in if the economy is running well. Not so much if it’s running badly.

Matt Stoller at WIRED says it is a serious interruption to production and the end of affluence. He likens the current situation to 1932.

3. Richard Denniss gems

Richard Denniss, together with shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers told us the other night what was wrong with the economy, or rather with economics, and how to fix it.

I should attempt a full post.

One thing he told us was that 300,000 people change jobs every month in Australia. That is 3.6 million. The workforce is amazingly fluid.

He also told us the dollar value of a human life in Oz. It’s $195,000 per annum. That’s how far the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme will go. If a drug treatment costs more than that it is “too expensive”.

He also said that authorities had been trying to keep wages down to make our nation competitive. They should now celebrate their success.

As for small government and low taxes he had a nasty surprise. All the countries that are happier than we are, and are as wealthy or wealthier, have two things in common – they pay more tax, and have greater union density.

Our elites are chasing a land with gleaming uplands that is a mirage. In other words, we are being sold a pup. (Those are not his words, but it’s what he meant.) The question is why?

He did answer that question. No surprise, it is so that the elites can maintain their privileged position.

Jim Chalmers gave a short talk by way of introduction, and then conducted a conversation with Denniss following the main talk, based on questions which had been emailed in by participants. Chalmers is open to new ideas which go beyond the orthodox. The closing speech by the main man from The Australia Institute was startling and disappointing. He told us about the simplistic one-line Tweets from the likes of Josh Frydenberg dumping on the speech while it was being delivered, with scant relevance to what was actually being said.

4. The shocking case of Hannah Clarke

The UK Daily Mail gives a detailed account of what happened to Hannah Clarke and her three children. In short her estranged husband, Rowan Baxter, in spite of a DVO, stalked her and their three children, threw petrol on them inside a car, then set it alight, effectively incinerating them. He then died by his own hand on the footpath nearby.

This would have required detailed planning on Baxter’s part.

Anonymous, writing at the ABC, tells from personal experience the inadequacies of protection measures in Australia.

She tells us:

    On average, the life of one woman per week (and about one man each month) is deliberately ended by a current or ex-partner. A child is killed by a parent every two weeks.

Amanda Gearing at The Guardian argues that coercive control as such by the perpetrator rather than physical violence should be criminalised. In Hannah Clarke’s case there was no physical violence.

By contrast Paul Barclay spoke to Leigh Goodmark, Professor of law at the University of Maryland about her research, her experience and her views. She has written a book Decriminalizing Domestic Violence. She believes that criminalising domestic violence invariably makes matters worse. She also says it is not all about power and control, not all.

However, when violence threatens and the potential perpetrator is not open to help, she simply does not know what to do. Her main thrust is that we need to change the perpetrator into a prosocial person who treats members of the other sex with respect and recognition of their equality and autonomy.

There are many reports, and many examples of laws in other countries that we could learn from.

I would only make two statements. First, whoever takes another human’s life should forfeit their own freedom for the rest of theirs. No exceptions.

Secondly, the problems involved in domestic violence are deeply embedded in our culture. In tried Deep origins: patriarchy I tried to outline some of the antecedents.

At the end I said:

    Although the social sediments of patriarchy developed over the last 10 millennia persist, the making of a truly egalitarian society along the dimension of gender should not be beyond us, as there are no longer any fundamental impediments. Egalitarianism along the dimensions of wealth, power and class may take longer.

This while true is frankly hopelessly simplistic. For example, society always looks to schools to change deep social attitudes. However, each child is embedded in a social setting largely determined by the home, social group, peers, and now social media.

Nevertheless we all should do what we can. The Sydney teenager who jumped off the bus to intervene in a case where a woman was apparently being attacked deserves the plaudits he got. There should be more like him.

192 thoughts on “Weekly salon 2/3”

  1. Newsflash:

    Christian Porter has made a joke:

    Well I shook [Nine Newspapers’ national political editor] David Crowe’s hand when I was in the elevator … forgot, first of all, that he was a journalist … but, look, I think people will just need to be mindful, people will just need to be mindful that we’re going to have a very challenging several months and perhaps towards the end of the year.

    And that will require some changes in the way that we behave and think and what our expectations are about a range of issues.

  2. Raving socialist Sanders wants to increase the basic wage to $15/hr and have universal medicare similar to what countries like Australia have. Stark raving mad.
    What he has to do is convince the people of the bottom of the pile is that he is the best bet for them and get them out to vote for him and democrat candidates for congress and the Senate.
    Part of the problem with the Democrat primary system is that they are not using preference voting. (This would avoid say moderates splitting the vote and help get the candidate most democrats would prefer to the alternatives.

  3. Meanwhile, our basic wage is better but large corporations – some fronted by “celebrities” – keep getting caught out underpaying employees.

    Strange times. (But no wonder PM Howard’s “Work Choices ” went down like a lead balloon.)

  4. John
    The average monthly wage in the US is excellent without a minimum wage of $15.

    Could you please link to Bernie’s policy document for “ Free Health Care for All “ so we can all judge the difference with Australia’s system ?

    Now, I’m not bagging Sanders ( that has wonderful praise for every authoritarian communist regime of the past 100 years ), I’m just curious as to the design, transition framework, replacement dynamics and cost.

    We can talk about his “ Free Education at Every Level for Ever “ and other policies after that.

    BTW, I’ve seen photos of his third property, very nice.

  5. The average monthly wage in the US is excellent without a minimum wage of $15.

    That’s why people working two jobs still depend on food stamps to survive. A real workers paradise.

  6. Correction, that’s why some people working two jobs still depend on food stamps to survive.
    And why others employed by such socially progressive corporations as Walmart, Amazon and McDonalds get so little in return for their labour that they too are eligible for food stamps.

  7. Well, every US State is different so let’s pick one, say California.
    Say a family of 4. Dad works and Mum is raising the 2 little ones.
    His weekly gross pay is USD $4,292.
    The Government takes half of that in taxes and gives back $646 worth of food stamps.

    And you say his pay rate is the problem here ?

    Couldn’t the Government just tax them $646 and eliminate the shame and stigma. Plus save the Governments bottom line the cost of administering such a huge program.

  8. Well, every US State is different so let’s pick one, say California.

    No, let’s not. That’s cherry picking.
    And I think you’ve picked the wrong tree. For a start, you’re telling us that someone in California on an annual salary of USD $223,184 is eligible for food stamps? That’s socialised insanity.

  9. That’s what it says, I didn’t make it up.

    Fine, pick another State ( there’s another 56 according to Obama ) or an average, I will work with that.

  10. And Jumpy, as well as mistaking monthly income for weekly you’re moving the goal posts again. If this is going to be your argument your original statement should have been

    The average monthly wage in the US would be excellent without a minimum wage of $15 if only they’d reduce the tax rate


  11. Ahh, yes, monthly pay of USD $4,292, of which the Government takes half the transfers $ 646 back.

    The principal remains the same.

    About a Grand a week, taxed half, now you can’t afford food, Government gives a fraction back, great plan.

    And no the average income is excellent now by world standards, without $15/h minimum, you brought up the food stamps as a reason for them, I showed it isn’t.

    Now, that’s your lot for today, look it over and think a little.

  12. Totally different subject.

    How the hell is the interest rate cut and ScoMos “ stimulus package “ going to help in a predominantly supply side shock ?

    The GFC was a demand side shock according to Keynesians and I accept that these tools can have some effect in that case.

    What are reduced borrowing rates and helicopter cash going to do ?

  13. Jumpy: Last time I was in California the minimum wage was something like $6/hr. At the time my observation was that the cost of living in $US for the US was about the same as the $Aus cost of living in Australia. The working poor was being seriously screwed i the US and people living in the park under canvas were often people with jobs.
    Min wages are a better guide than averages re what is happening to employed people near the bottom of the pile.
    You might have picked up that i measure countries by what happens to those at the bottom of the pile, not the mansions of the rich.

  14. “”Min wages are a better guide than averages re what is happening to employed people near the bottom of the pile.””
    Nonsense, the min wage is a massive barrier to entry for the folk at the bottom of the pile and encourages “ unlawful employment arrangements for them in particular.

    You’re big on reading, I recommend a Thomas Sowell book, any one of them.
    Marx was wrong Mate.

  15. Dribble Alert!!!
    Jumpy: Go try live on $6/hr with no assets, the wrong coloured skin little education and..
    Be interested in your plan.

  16. … the min wage is a massive barrier to entry for the folk at the bottom of the pile and encourages “ unlawful employment arrangements for them in particular.


  17. There was a famous night club proprietor in Sydney during the sixties who was averse to paying his musician employees. His argument was, “You’ve got a job. You want to get paid as well??”

    Maybe Jumpy should try that approach. After all, having to pay his workers means there are dozens, even hundreds of people he could otherwise employ who are missing out. Damn that government interference. Damn it to hell.

  18. Over here in Australia we’ve had unionism, conciliation and arbitration, minimum wages, and State Govt Depts trying to ensure wage rates are adhered to, etc.

    “Marx was wrong, Mate” is [ahem] a red herring.

    “Hitherto philosophers have described the world. The point, however, is to improve it!”

  19. I have this quaint notion (not from Marx, probably from my exposure as a child to Jesus of Nazareth) that if someone provides an employer with a week’s labour, that employer is morally obliged to compensate the worker with enough to live on for that week.
    If that is a financial burden that will put the employer out of business then said business is not viable and should cease operation forthwith.
    In Jumpy’s new age of Capitalism, red in tooth and claw, this apparently doesn’t hold.

  20. BilB, US citizens are taxed by most States and Federal level for income, even some Counties.
    According to The Bureau of Labour Statistcs only 2.3% are on or below the minimum wage and the tend to be little experience, in hospitality down South.
    All of my experienced employees are payed well over the minimum wage, my last two potential apprentices were hugely expensive disasters. Both were treated strictly by the book.

    But thank you for your honest opinion of my factual opinions.
    As AOC said “ it’s better to be morally right than factually right “, seems you’re on the AOC train.

  21. Mr J

    I think we were talking about employees who are entitled only to the minimum rates. Whether these work in the US or in Australia…..
    e.g. young
    etc., etc.

    Your skilled tradies are irrelevant to the issue at hand (as are investor millionaires, high paid public servants, and top shot lawyers). Do try to keep up!

    zoot: the kind of attitudes and behaviour recommended by Jesus of Nazareth have been influential in many nation states and amongst diverse persons; arguably, on balance, making for gentler and more humane actions overall…. in fact, my guess is that His Words have helped to inspire leaders like Jacinda who speak of “fairness”*

    *including those resolutely antithetical to religiosity

  22. “Factual” opinions, Jumpy? I see most of your content as being … to coin a term specially crafted for you ….. Cherryhype.

  23. BilB, most of what you see is incorrectly interpreted by your brain. Doubling the MW is job destroying. It’ll turbo charge the investment into tech to replace the unskilled entry level jobs.
    Traditional restaurants will be replaced be vending machines.
    And that’s just one area.

    No wonder you’ve bankrupted a couple of businesses.

  24. Mr A
    My concern is with the unskilled.
    The first rung on the ladder is not a living wage.
    Let’s not forget, I’ve been giving ladder climbing assistance to the unskilled that the Education system failed to.
    For decades.
    I’m kept up alright.

  25. Mr J

    My concerns are with
    [1] the unskilled, young, undereducated, poor, underfed, unemployed, unemployable, unmotivated, experienced-but-dumped, underemployed. It seems that John D has similar concerns.

    Perhaps we three have some views in common?

    (While OTOH those folk
    [2] with recent qualifications including certificates, completed apprenticeships, or valued by their employers at whatever age, may also face difficulties but have better “life chances” and appear more employable and resilient.)

    So to assist group [1] above, What Is To Be Done?

    A bit more laissez-faire and a lot less Nanny???

  26. I’ll give folks a good go if they want to have a good go.
    Experience is the result of effort, more experience + effort = higher pay.
    My areas don’t require any experience at entry level but $21/hour is the law, I take a loss on a good young fella for the first 6-12 months, a bad one goes.

    I really do wish I was talking to experienced employers ( their pockets ) with this stuff. Too many that know fuck all have very strong opinions.

  27. Jumpy: My impression is that you give your employees a good deal and that you are talking sense when talking about your contracting business.
    Can’t say the same when you drift into economic theory.

  28. Zoot said:

      I have this quaint notion (not from Marx, probably from my exposure as a child to Jesus of Nazareth) that if someone provides an employer with a week’s labour, that employer is morally obliged to compensate the worker with enough to live on for that week.

    In the historic US the slavery system fed and housed people on southern plantations. In the US and here of late some employers pay less than that.

    Scandalous, and shouldn’t be allowed.

  29. On politeness (a dying trait) from The Onion, a comedic and satirical US website:

    NEW BEDFORD, MA—Irking fellow users with their gross displays of congenial rhetoric, disagreeing Twitter commenters Sydney Ramstead and Brian Packer engaged in a self-congratulatory civility that was honestly worse than an outright fight would have been, sources confirmed Thursday.

    “God, I would rather these guys tell each other to f*ck off than continue this preening exchange where they go on and on about how much they respect each other’s opinions,” said Kyle Lim, a witness to the nauseating debate who described the exasperation he felt as the two participants repeatedly expressed how they each thought the other brought up interesting points and how they were both glad to be taking part in good-faith dialogue with a formidable opponent.

    “They won’t shut up about the ‘importance of civil discourse’ and how the internet would be a much better place if everyone were a bit nicer. Ugh, this is unbearable. Drop the posturing already and just tell him he can eat sh*t!”

    At press time, Lim reportedly couldn’t take it anymore and jumped into the conversation to inform the two debaters they were both Nazis.

    Some lessons there, for everyone….. ?

  30. I’d like to thank BilB for the heads up about the “ Windy “ app, I’d not known about it till then.

    Huge amount of features.

    If you tap on the three horizontal bar thingy then “ More layers “ thing, scroll down to see air pollutant animations.

    Hours of fun for the whole morbid family. 🙂

  31. Professor J has directed toilet matters to this thread.

    It occurs to me that in the olden days we used torn up newspaper as a substitute for toilet paper. And out in the bush, perhaps a handful of grass.

    Botty From Marketing has come up with this slogan:
    Put Some Grass On Your A*se

    Should appeal to Barnaby, whose missus is sick of “wiping babies”.

  32. Bye bye Bernie Sanders, “democratic socialist”, and occasional Democratic Party person.

  33. Fun fact, if Bill Clinton ( 4 US Presidents ago ) were aloud to run as the Dem candidate he’d be the youngest at 73.

    { I think we can discount Tulsi at this point even though she’d have the better chance in the General election that Biden or Sanders }

    Opinions folks, just one dudes opinions.

  34. ACOSS reacts to the one-off ‘stimulus’ payments coming soon:

    In response to the $750 one-off payments for people receiving payments including Newstart, Youth Allowance, Austudy, Disability Support Pension, Carers Payment, Family Tax Benefits, Commonwealth Senior Health Card Holders and the Age Pension, from March 31, 2020, with one payment per eligible person, Acoss CEO Cassandra Goldie said:

    ‘People are doing it really tough, especially people on Newstart and Youth Allowance – the lowest payments – and pensioners who don’t own their home. The payment will be welcome short-term relief but it’s nowhere near enough. Leading economists urged the government to increase Newstart ongoing to build consumer confidence and to guarantee that the payment would be spent into the real economy.

    ‘We know that increasing Newstart by $95 per week ongoing would inject $4 billion into the economy a year and generate more than 12,000 jobs, helping to deliver the ongoing confidence business is crying out for.

    ‘We’re calling on the government to urgently increase Newstart by $95 per week ongoing by the federal budget to help lift people out of poverty and prevent those facing job losses from falling into the poverty trap, while rebuilding the economy.

    (Opinions folks, just one group’s opinions)

  35. It’ll never get off the ground because it’s counter to everything conservatives (LNP and ALP) believe with all their heart: if you give poor people money they’ll just waste it and worse, it will make them even lazier, whereas if you give money to rich people it will incentivise them.

  36. I reckon the pensioners will find ways of spending it, zoot.

    Whoever was buying up all that toilet paper last week showed no signs of the “laziness” you anticipate. But perhaps now they’re well stocked they’ll rest on their laurels and just gloat over their stockpiles??

    Mr J fretted (after the Rudd stimulus) that the cashed-up lazy just went out and grabbed “plasma TVs”. Remember those huge gizmos?? Remember nice Mr Rudd?

    This time, I’ll step aside and let economists explain how “stimulus ” supposedly keeps the economic and financial system ticking along. Prof J is engrossed in epidemiology and cyclone studies in any case.

  37. Mr A, explain to me why a demand side stimulus helps a supply side deficit.

    It’s like paying people, in a drought, to bucket water from the deep end to the shallow end in the hope the dam will refill.

    And now that the teeny tiny surplus ( more like just balanced ) is gone, it’s more debt spending.

    I’m a libertarian, these so called “ conservative Governments “ should be condemned as much as the socialist ones for the debt crimes they’re influencing on future generations.

    Morrison, Johnson and Trump !!

    How about suspending compulsory super and raise every workers pay package by 10% or more, and that also lowers business accounting costs ?

  38. Cowardly dodged I’d say.
    Selectively lippy even.

    Either shit or get off the pot Mate.

  39. Mr A, explain to me why a demand side stimulus helps a supply side deficit.

    What’s deficit got to do with it?
    The looming problem is recession.
    And make sure you wash your hands after you get off the pot.

  40. I’m getting a bit tired of indiscriminate use of lavatory language.

    I’m with Cassandra Goldie of ACOSS. Everyone knows that Newstart needs a major lift.

    Peter Martin and Gigi Foster talked to Dr Sarah Hunter, Chief Economist in Australia for BIS Oxford Economics and Dr Andrew Charlton, former senior advisor to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd during the 2007 GFC and director at AlphaBeta Consultancy today.

    Charlton was asked whether in considering a stimulus package whether it would be worse to go too big or too small. He said the latter, every time. If you go too small, the whole exercise fails and what you have done is basically wasted.

  41. Yes, zoot.

    Newstart is too low.

    But the ALP refused refused to promise to raise it when last they ran for Federal elections. (From memory they promised only an Inquiry.)

    Mr J: anyone here is entitled to ignore your questions. Often enough I’ve asked you very specific and direct questions, and been ignored. That’s fine, it’s your right.

  42. Mr A, have I ever labeled your questions “ Bait “ ?

    Quite often I’m either working or asleep.

    But since your here, do you think this particular shock is primarily causing a lack of supply?

    I think JD does from what he has expressed and you agreed with.

  43. But since your here, do you think this particular shock is primarily causing a lack of supply?

    Err, no. It’s primarily causing the economy to tank (slow down, head for recession, circle the drain).

  44. Here’s another one just off the cuff, is the only answer to every problem ( real or imagined) to throw more “ root of all evil” at it ?

  45. Zoot, you don’t even know the definition of “ prime “, or fundamental economic.
    You are embarrassing yourself.

    It’s a good laugh for me but the rest of your tribe is embarrassed.

    BTW, how are you personally adding to the GDP or economic growth of Australia ?

    Let me guess, you’re part of the Dole Army that would surly save us from recession if you got some additional workers profits.

  46. Jumpy: If all your potential customers no longer have enough money to even think about giving you more business you are tanked mate. Problem for us because you would have even more time to dribble on.

  47. I’m flat out John, what’s your point?
    I’m more worried about supply of materials to be able to continue adding to the economy.

    How about you fella, how are you contributing to economic growth ( which incidentally is terribly bad according to Greta) other than investment returns?

  48. Jumpy, your arguments will be much more convincing if they aren’t just calling people names.
    Try playing the ball and not the man.

  49. I think the economy was in tanking any way, but then we had bushfires. And then in January a virus emerged in Wuhan in China.

    The virus caused what is happening now. It’s partly supply, it’s partly demand, but at the bottom of that is real danger and a big portion of fear. You can go on from there.

    But you can also go back in the causal chain. ABC RN put together a really good half hour in How China’s wet markets and wild animal trade created an epidemic. ‘Wet markets’ we are told take various forms all over East Asia, possibly beyond, I don’t know. They did say that the term was broad and covered many different forms which varied according to culture and tradition.

      Two weeks ago, Chinese authorities banned the sale and consumption of so-called wild meat.

    But believe it or not such bans by a central government are known to be subverted or even just ignored. We’ll see eventually whether they have more success this time.

  50. Another contributing factor has been the Saudis playing silly buggers with oil which doesn’t (didn’t? – is it over?) seem to be getting much media attention. But I digress.
    Casting our current crisis as a competition between supply and demand is a ridiculous oversimplification. The supply of bog rolls has been outstripped by demand and the demand for airline seats doesn’t get within a bull’s roar of the (over)supply.
    So which is to blame, supply or demand?
    From his contributions here it seems Jumpy doesn’t understand that the economy is more than a balance sheet or a profit and loss statement..

  51. Jumpy: “How about you fella, how are you contributing to economic growth ( which incidentally is terribly bad according to Greta) other than investment returns?”
    Just boosted the Australian economy by buying a classy canoe made by a small Australian business. (Paid for by using some of the liquid assets sitting there in my retirement funds.)
    Guess you could say that someone who has spent a large part of his working life improving the efficiency of his employers business was helping to contract the economy by reducing man-hours per tonne product and payments to suppliers.
    Guess you could also say that the time you spend writing to blogs instead of improving your business is limiting your contribution to the Australian economy? Or your way of being charitable to your competitors?
    In the mean time I am about to go off and play with my canoe when i could be out spending on new toys or house modifications.

  52. John D alerted us early, to the supply difficulties faced by some manufacturers and assemblers, due to supply of parts (vital parts, not just spares for maintenance or repairs).

    From what I recall, Hyundai new vehicle production was interrupted (January?) due to lack of parts normally made in China.

    There have been hundreds of other examples, major ans minor, since.

    If fewer passenger planes are flying, the pkanes’ other cargo might be delayed.

    (You can say that tourist air travel and sea cruises are discretionary, not vital, but that doesn’t mean they are of no account economically.)

    A plasterer is getting concerned about supplies of materials. Is that demand or supply?

    Perhaps if people get stuck in their houses they might finally do some indoor renovations, and a plasterer could turn up in his Hazmat suit and do the work for them??

    Always an upside to these economic wobbles, eh?

    BTW, I believe “the root of all evil”, which some believe is money, was identified by the famous Nazarene as the love of money .

    Money is a medium of exchange.

    The love of money, is an entirely more complicated matter.


  53. Melbourne Grond Pricks cancelled.
    A good decision IMO.

    Vic currently has relatively low infection numbers.

    And in any case, Premier Andrews warned a few days ago that large sporting events might have to be cancelled.

  54. Princess Cruises is suspending all cruises from now to late May.

    Each of their shios currently sailing will proceed to the nearest port that will allow it to dock and disembark passengers.


  55. Princess Cruises is suspending all cruises from now to late May.

    Would that be a supply side decision, a demand side decision, or simply responsible governance?

  56. Well, difficult to say.
    And possibly not the best lens to view that through?

    Here are some factors:
    a) cruises already cancelled by the company => full refunds of fares to affected customers
    b) the company had already moved some of its ships to new regions, e.g. from SE Asia/Asia to Fremantle in February to undertake Australian cruises; others to South Pacific
    c) the company had relaxed its rules on how many days’ notice a customer [who wished to cancel an upcoming cruise] had to give: far fewer days than previously….

    But that was all in the last few weeks, before this latest [much more drastic] measure.

    It seems certain the the Princess line must have had its reputation amongst prospective future customers massively damaged by the worldwide publicity about 1) its ship anchored off Yokohama, then 2) its ship with passengers and crew currently being evacuated to hospitals and Army bases etc. in the US.

    I would like to give Princess Cruises credit for good governance, zoot. It seems that a kind of “precautionary principle” is being adopted by many humans (individuals and organisations).

    Managements of large corporations are capable of thinking through their long-term prospects, and considering more than their immediate responsibilities, si? At least, the smarter ones should be.

  57. Minister Peter Dutton has the virus and is being treated in hospital. He sat in Cabinet with the PM three days ago.

    From next Monday 16th, non-essential gatherings of more than 500 humans will be banned (by Nanny Federal).

    Will Hillsong be closed on Sunday 15th? Churches? Cathedrals?

    Mosques today?
    Synagogues tomorrow?

    Sydney’s Easter Show……..
    Melbourne International Comedy Festival cancelled. (“Stop laughing, this is getting serious!”)

  58. I must say I’m extremely disappointed to find that Capitalism is completely helpless in the face of a pandemic.
    Where’s the invisible hand of the market? Times like these we really need it to be providing impetus. It should be out there providing vaccines and treatments and safety measures but it’s missing in action. Is it in self-isolation?

  59. Hilarious, now zoot is begging Evil Big Pharma to hurry up.
    I suppose evil, cruel, environmental vandal Big Ag is letting him down.
    And the Evil Duopoly should have envisaged this ( fair, non biased ) media fuelled panic buying.

    Someone should enlighten him that the primary responsibility of his life is him.

    But hey, seems like there’s a lot of Mummy issues buried in there, under- coddled or over- coddled, something like that.

    There’s still time. For the moment cement is still readily available, a tablespoon full or two with every meal may help.

  60. I also found hilarious the statement that the US could learn a lot from China about destructive viruses.

    How, by creating more ?

  61. “a lot of Mummy issues buried in there”

    Have you no decency, sir? Have you no decency?
    (Google it)

  62. I qualified it Sir.
    A bucket of cement for that cry.

    And dodging the guts of my comment too, typical.

    The market is working as best it can given the hysteria and huge government interference. And I’m sure the Evil Big Pharmaceutical Corporation that get a vaccine will be still considered Evil afterwards.

    Oh, and zoot can defend himself, he’s happy to attack.
    Unless it’s you sock puppetry at work, then just say so.

  63. While you’re here Sigmund, what’s your diagnosis of a bloke who refers to his partner as “the Taipan”?
    Passive aggression or misogyny?

  64. Jumpy, the countries that are doing well are those which were better prepared, or are instituting proactive and aggressive policies now.

    Our whole policy is based on the notion that we can slow the thing down, but can’t stop it. The countries trying seriously to stop it are not succeeding in that, but are slowing it down.

    There is more to be said and shades and nuance, but it’s about the policy decisions being made rather than how the governments were elected.

  65. Old Len from Oolabaloo has finally bestirred himself to opine.

    [Standard prefatory remarks about ‘you young people never had it so good, why in my day,….’ taken as read]

    “You youngsters need to learn about a bitter {bit o’ ?} history. When the Japs {Japanese Imperial Armed Forces?} bombed bl**dy Darwin, some dills ran away, some stood and fought, but you have to understand, the only big effect was a shortage of salty {crocodile?} fillets in the butcher’s.

    He had a bit of a shed over from the wharf…. Nice kind of bloke. If you took your own salty in there he’d skin it, fillet it, ‘n keep the tail for his dogs.

    Mind you, your salty had to be DEAD !!! ”
    {Len chuckles and slaps his thigh.}

    There is much to learn from the wisdom of the old-timers.


  66. “Government relents on Newstart”

    AFR 20th March 2020

    Page 4

    After the AFR revealed the impending economic assistance package would contain an income payment higher than the current rate of the dole for those who lose their jobs, Scott Morrison indicated yesterday that the increase would be extended to existing Newstart recipients.

    – Phillip Coorey

    {“every cloud has a ….” sliver of improvement}

  67. As it becomes increasingly obvious that capitalism collapses in the face of a pandemic Prof Quiggin has a suggestion.
    The comments are quite entertaining.

  68. To Quiggi everything is a crisis in the shape of a nail and he only has one hammer called “ socialism “.

    The giveaway sentence in that rubbish is,

    What they have in common is that the result in a need for urgent government action.

    When individual actions and choices are paramount, not more government control over the means of production and distribution.

    But hey, as a lifelong suckler of the taxpayer tit, one would expect him to be that way.

  69. Jolted over to a blog “Still Life with Cat” by noticing one Kerryn Goldsworthy reviewing four novels in The Age I chance upon this, written by Rebecca West:

    I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.

    Not bad, for a lady 😉

  70. Jumpy, did you notice this?

    “crisis of one kind or another is not an aberration, but a regular occurrence in a complex modern society.”

    It would seem that Prof Quiggin is pointing to complexity as a chief factor (not capitalism as such).

    Would his comment then also apply to Venezuela, Cuba, Viet Nam?, and to China (ruled as you know by the Chinese Communist Party, but some say might as well be ruled by the Chinese Capitalist Party)

    It’s sounding like an “end of history” argument.
    Instead of convergence to liberal democracy with capitalism, nations converge to social democracy with capitalism.

    Is that “a distinction without a difference”?


    [You might as well, now that NAPLAN has been cancelled.]

    {How are your fittings for HAZMAT suits going, Mr J?}

  71. Zoot: Quiggen says: “The most immediate requirements for dealing with a crisis are a strong and comprehensive welfare state, and strong protections for workers. In the aftermath, we need a substantial economic role for government, including control over infrastructure and financial enterprises and public provision of services like health and education. In short, we need socialism.”
    I would add “in these areas.” Part of what is wrong with Australia is that the radical conservatives make private vs public decisions on a lazy ideological basis. (Present comrade J as a rabid example.) Many from the left want to make these decisions in a similar way.
    Me I think you need to make the decisions on a case by case basis. For example, I have no problem with privately owned power generation where it makes sense but do think that privately owned power distribution and control has been a disaster.

  72. The most immediate requirements for dealing with a crisis are a strong and comprehensive welfare state, and strong protections for workers. In the aftermath, we need a substantial economic role for government, including control over infrastructure and financial enterprises and public provision of services like health and education. In short, we need socialism.”

    He says we need these measures when there isn’t a crisis. Keynesians believe huge government spending is desperately required in both bad times and good.
    ( don’t bring the “ lazy ideological “ pidgin hole up here Mr Kettle)

  73. I have no problem with privately owned power generation where it makes sense but do think that privately owned power distribution and control has been a disaster.

    Good luck with that with regard for energy investment and growth.

    I thought you were a systems engineer, obviously clueless on economic systems.
    Run that policy to its end point and we’ll be Venezuelanomics bound.

  74. Let’s hear Jumpy’s suggestions for keeping small businesses viable if the country goes into lockdown. And how would he ensure the airlines survive six months of no international travel?

  75. That first topic, zoot, should be an immediate concern for Mr J. Unless of course he has taken “early retirement” and has thereby relinquished his role as the engine of wealth creation and selfless endeavour in his neck of the woods.

    I sincerely hope, tbat in his well-earned retirement, he goes nowhere near the pendulous teat of Nanny. She should wear a steel-plated bra to keep him well away. Not for social distancing…. For his constant denigration of her kindness and humane generosity.

  76. Nanny has constant kindness and humane generosity?
    There’s ya problem right there.
    No, she don’t.

    My policy now hasn’t changed.
    Everyone over 70 and has pre existing conditions like cardiovascular, diabetes or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis isolate with government and charity assistance.
    The rest carry on and a slowing of the economy without huge debt and panic.

    Government is required when foreign dangers threaten Australians, that’s Nannies prime responsibility, not powering everybody’s arse.

  77. I fully expect Mr J to angrily reject the government’s offer of cash in paw to help him pay wages ($2,000 – $25,000 in the report I read).

  78. Jumpy, you still haven’t given us your solution to a rapidly slowing economy. What would a market led recovery look like?

  79. With regard to my memo at 2.39pm today, Nine newspapers now advise that the boost to JobSeeker (Newstart) payments will be ‘strictly time limited’ and the higher payments will not continue after the virus difficulty has passed (as judged by Federal Cabinet, I suppose).

    Apologies for any false hope we may have unwittingly given to the unemployed amongst us.

  80. “not powering everybody’s arse”???

    You’ve lost me there, Mr J.

    My own a*se is quite offended to hear that you think it needs Govt assistance. Without going into highly personal matters, it is robust, self-reliant, skilled, entrepreneurial and entirely community-minded. It is not transparent, but is certainly accountable. It achieves its KPIs effortlessly.

    It is of course at the end of a long supply chain, but is well-accustomed to a variety of chains, buttons and porcelain. Although modest, it’s always flushed with success.


  81. Jumpy: “I thought you were a systems engineer, obviously clueless on economic systems.
    Run that policy to its end point and we’ll be Venezuelanomics bound.” Sounds like hysterical name calling in defense of the indefensible to me. Would you like to try and explain the reasoning behind your hysteria?

  82. Premier Andrews is announcing a payroll tax exemption during this financial year for about 24,000 small businesses in Vic, to cost an estimated $550 million. Refund cheques will be going out from Friday 27th March.

    Some other Vic measures will bring the package total to $1.7 billion.

    Some package, some serious teat.

    John D, don’t be concerned by the name-calling.

    All is well in Mr J’s world. Full order book. Ample cash and materials in reserve. New apprentices are first rate. And footy’s on the telly.

    Meanwhile he’s been slaying socialists on a blog.

    Happy days!!

  83. Mr J

    “Run that policy to its endpoint….” well describes your error. A democratic socialist doesn’t “run State ownership to its endpoint” of full State ownership.

    A social democrat picks and chooses. Decides what sectors are best in private hands, what needs nationalising.

    Haven’t you heard of the “mixed economy”?

    In Australia we have some private hospitals, some private schools, many private mines and banks and retailers and (amazingly) power stations. We have a Govt Army, and Govt intelligence agencies; but TV and phone systems are in private hands.

    You know all this.
    Why do you insist that a democratic socialist should become rigid, authoritarian and economically inefficient by taking up a Soviet style command economy???

    [Does your Five Year Plan demand a huge output of straw men???]

    Nyet, comrade.
    Wrong way Go back.

    No-one here wants 2020 Venezuela.
    ( !Cheer up, Senor J: neither do millions of Venezuelans!)

    “taken to its logical conclusion” often won’t apply to social or political questions…..

  84. I don’t want to get up to my armpits in this argument, but I don’t think Quiggin actually makes a case.

    In general terms I prefer a mixed economy (like John D, I think). I don’t think capitalists or capitalism are going away, nor should they. However, society’s norms are expressed in laws to provide a framework of acceptable and generally beneficial behaviour by everyone and every entity.

    Other than that, the first tranche of $17 billion plus was about 1% of GDP. Two nights ago I think Alan Kohler said that the benchmark set elsewhere is around 15% of GDP.

    Scotty and Josh are calling it a ‘stimulus’ package. Someone (Laura Tingle I think), said that Daniel Andrews’ label of a ‘survival’ package would be more apt.

    I’ve had a long handle electric hedge trimmer on order for about 2 weeks. Made by Stihl. Made inquiries today.

    The bloke pretty much said that if it wasn’t made before the virus hit then I could give up asking. He said whoever was doing the final assembly would be missing parts from somewhere, if they were on the job at all.

    And then he said the transport is getting sucked into supplying dunny paper and stuff. If they were on the job at all.

  85. Yanis Varoufakis has an idea for socialist capitalism (his term for it is something like that) which he explains about half way through this Big Ideas. It’s an intriguing thought.

  86. Bsck in the 50s and 60s we had a Test cricketer called Ken “Slasher” Mackay.

    These days we just have
    The Slasher From Mackay.

  87. Zoot, I heard some of that link with Yanis Varoufakis and Antony Loewenstein today.

    Wasn’t all that impressed with Varoufakis. For example, he said we would all be designing our own cars and manufacturing them with a 3D printer.

    I’m sure the 3D printer would cost a bit, but apart from that I wouldn’t drive a car designed by me!

    Anyone who thinks Bezos, Zuckerberg et al are going to go away into the mist is dreaming.

    Mark says he thinks only in terms of structure, not in terms of agency.

    Nevertheless, an interesting session.

  88. Bruan, that’s a very interesting comment from Mark.

    Structure is clearly only one part of the huge social jigsaw puzzle we all inhabit and shape by our choices and beliefs.

  89. Nice tool I would describe it as.
    Some of us need utes to give engineers whatever their soft hands and massive brains desire.
    Presumably you’d rather it powered “ renewably “.

    ( * disclaimer- my second Son is an engineer )

  90. Jumpy: Drove my first land rover when I was 17. Never really accepted that anything made after this 1958 model was a “real”
    4WD. Owned 4 WD’s most of my adult life and still have a 22 yr old Hilux.
    Sorry, the badger looks too pretty for my tastes even though i approve of a 4WD driven by renewable energy.

  91. Well, most “ renewables “ powered cars are as ugly as a bag of arseholes, this one is at least aesthetically pleasing.

    We’re trying to get over sentimental prejudices aren’t we ?

    Again, consumer value has multiple components to it.

    You preferring a 1998 Hilux over a hydrogens/electric because of aesthetics over co2 pollution seen a bit at odds with your constant rhetoric about the “ biggest threat to humanity “.

  92. grandpa had a Land Rover in 1957. coulda been 15 years old already. just fine for his farm work.

  93. Young Jumpy: “Well, most “ renewables “ powered cars are as ugly as a bag of arseholes, this one is at least aesthetically pleasing.” It is a matter of taste. I have an emotional attachment to 1958 short base landrovers and don’t like both the growing size and aesthetics of modern 4WDs and cars in general. (Current Hiluxes are larger than my 22 yr old Hilux which is larger than my first Hilux – maybe sensible for a tradie who may have to cart lots of stuff but, in part it is just the US addiction to larger and larger cars is what is driving it.
    But yep. I expect my next vehicle purchase will be a small renewable driven vehicle with the accident avoiding tech needed by an ageing driver. (Maybe largely autonomous.)
    You have obviously never owned an old landrover since you don’t understand the emotional attachemt.

  94. John Bunyan, around 1684

    1. He who would valiant be
    ′Gainst all disaster,
    Let him in constancy
    Follow the Master.
    There’s no discouragement
    Shall make him once relent
    His first avowed intent
    To be a pilgrim.

    2. Who so beset him round
    With dismal stories,
    Do but themselves confound——
    His strength the more is.
    No foes shall stay his might,
    Though he with giants fight:
    He will make good his right
    To be a pilgrim.

    3. Since, Lord, thou dost defend
    Us with thy Spirit,
    We know we at the end
    Shall life inherit.
    Then fancies flee away!
    I’ll fear not what men say,
    I’ll labour night and day
    To be a pilgrim.

    English Hymnal version, 1906.

    Wikipedia has the original words of Bunyan

  95. + Literary Corner +

    Vale Bruce Dawe, poet.
    Not long after his 90th birthday.

    A good innings and a fine legacy.

  96. Just to darken the mood a little, reports just in say that Victorian Police have been issuing fines for alleged breaches of restrictions
    including a Geelong brothel that was so busy on Wednesday that it caused a local traffic jam. .

    I refuse to supply a link.
    This sort of thing cannot, does not, and must not!!!! occur in the Queen’s State.

    And please, no quips about “going early”. OK?

  97. That looks very much like it, BilB.


    Whowouldaguessed that your local Brotel* was not essential?? Half of the Victorian inner city economy is ticks along very nicely because of massages. Service industry. Lights were off but the door was open and customers were going in.

    In other news some fellows were driving around hoping to buy drugs. I ask you! Doesn’t everyone know where his local pharmacy is??

    * Brotel.
    Noun. Motel for Bros.

    (c) Dictionaries for D*cks

  98. Danke Brian

    Had a look at the article.
    I bet the lady crossing a bridge wearing a face mask is as pleased as punch, to see her photo in a story about an alleged Brotel.

    I’ve not read the Camus.
    Chaps at le bistrot told me he was over rated. Sartre and de Beauvoir were particularly sarcastic about him. So, what could I do? (Gallic shrug).

    It just wasn’t safe to be on the wrong side (le droit) of Jean Paul when he was – ‘ow you say?? – at full tilting.

    Zut alors!!!

  99. Commenting here so as not to derail the Salon.
    To anyone who still thinks this disease only kills 80 year olds here’s a 42 year old victim.

  100. zoot, I’ve just heard about a 12 yr-old kid in Sydney who went out to play with his mates in the park. He came down with what looked like pneumonia, was taken to hospital.

    There they filled him with antibiotics but did not test him, because he hadn’t been overseas of in contact with a known sufferer of Covid-19.

    Sent him home after one day; now his whole family has to isolate, but no-one gets tested. Mercifully, the boy hasn’t died.

    I think in Qld the boy would have been tested.

    If the boy was in Germany, he certainly would have been tested, and if positive, his family would have been tested too.

    In Wuhan, if he tested positive, which would have been known within four hours, the family would have been taken somewhere else (empty hotels, converted stadia and such) and looked after until they were in the clear.

  101. While we are here, Ambi, when I were young I read all the people who found life challenging and were known as ‘existentialists’, including friend Kafka, or ‘The theatre of the absurd’.

    For some reason a phrase from Bergman’s film “Through a Glass Darkly” has stuck in my brain, were the ‘heroine’ said “Anything can happen”. And in one’s fevered mind, it can.

    zoot, and all, I accidentally removed you last comment on this thread and put it into the spam bucket for a few minutes. Just an accident, but spam has been quite a problem since the blog fell to bits a while back. It stays in the spam bucket until I empty it, so if anyone sees a post go missing please let me know.

    Spam is more godbothering than sex at present, plus a fair amount on the Cyrillic alphabet.

  102. +Literary corner+

    Forsooth, Brian.
    You are streets ahead of me.
    Never dipped my toe into Existentialist waters.
    Never really understood them.

    I mean, Simone were a lovely lass down at le bistrot, and Jean-Paul could talk boy could he talk but wild-eyed and strange.

    Did read his piece about anti-semitism and the “self-loathing Jew”.

    What about the self-loathing Yankee?
    Shouldn’t a few Frenchmen have a touch of self-loathing?? I mean, Vichy and all that….

    Then Jean-Paul went full Maoist after 1968. “If you go talking ’bout Chairman Mao, ….”
    (John Lennon, ‘Revolution’)

    My tastes are lowbrow.

    Bergman’s fillums were a big hit with the Melbourne Film Festival crowd… in the 60s and 70s.

    Dark despair??
    Giving “enigmatic” a bad name? ?

    But getting back to events you can’t foresee, how about that “Black Swans” book, eh? Came out about a year before the GFC tbey say….

    Black Swan being a metaphor for some unforeseeable calamity just around the corner with profound effects. Not just financial, of course. (Afterwards the pundits claim that of course it was foreseen. Humans, eh?? Gotta love ’em!!)

    Meanwhile on Albert Park Lake, and at Lakes Entrance estuary, pairs of actual black swans will be raising their young quite oblivious to the antics of humans.

  103. Ambi, I have wandered many fields. In formal study, English, German, History, Philosophy, History of Music, then a diploma in librarianship, including the history of printing, some linguistics and German Honours work, then in a graduate education degree, philosophy, sociology, psychology and management with an educational and human growth framework.

    So a little about a lot, and not all that much about anything. No politics or economics.

    From JPS the big message was that we were condemned to be free, so we had to create our own meaning and being, becoming. Growing as a human being was a personal project that never ends, except when it does.

    From the 60s I saw a lot of foreign films, once a week for a while in Adelaide, plus later in Brisbane film festivals, including Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal where the main character seeks answers about life, death, and the existence of God as he plays chess against the Grim Reaper during the Black Plague.

    Right up my alley at the time.

  104. Condemned to be free.

    A profound observation.
    Someone told me his real name was Jean Paul Satire.
    This I don’t believe.

    Playing chess against the Grim Reaper during the Black Plague??
    My very goodness!! Thank heavens we abolished plagues after we discovered hygiene, rat poison, and vaccination.


  105. In other legal news, the High Court on Tuesday will rule on whether George Pell may appeal against his convictions, earlier upheld by the Victorian Court of Appeal in a 2-1 decision.

  106. Ambi, I have an uneasy feeling about that one. Pell was condemned, but could be free.

  107. !!!

    Well played, sir!!

    I had an uneasy feeling about the 2-1 result in the earlier match. So I read the dissenting opinion. Yes, I know: should have been reading La Peste or “Nausea”. To be brief, and jotting down the reaction of a non-lawyer (but diligent Pedant), I found the reasoning and dissection of the matters in the first match convincing.

    {Insofar as anyone can vouchsafe anything safely about an a selected Sunday so long ago in a precinct of rituals and practices understood by a tiny group now ageing.}

    My layperson’s feeling – and it’s only a feeling, m’Lud – is that there were grounds for reasonable doubt.*He may walk free.

    He is ruined. He may be hounded as Sir John Kerr was hounded.

    * my layperson’s opinion is that the principle of beyond reasonable doubt is so important that it must supervene. It’s a special element of our liberty.

  108. Bit startled to see “Coronavirus self-isolation activities should not include gold prospecting, officials say.” and ” Prospecting may seem like the perfect activity for those self-isolating in the outback, but authorities are warning that those engaging in the pastime could be at risk of breaching coronavirus restrictions.
    Key points:
    Police and local government leaders want prospectors in WA to STAY AT HOME
    The WA Government stopped issuing “Miner’s Rights” — required for prospecting — this month
    The peak body for prospectors wants hobbyists to stop but warns prospecting is vital income for others
    Cooler weather traditionally signals the start of the migration of thousands of prospectors to Western Australia’s old gold rush areas, but this year authorities have called for those with “gold fever” to hold off heading into the bush, warning it would contravene the official advice to stay home. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-04-06/coronavirus-self-isolation-gold-prospecting-not-on-officials-say/12121014
    I would have thought moving to the serious outback from the city would have reduced the risk of virus transmission unless the prospectors clustered around a promising spot or lived in overpopulated camping grounds.

  109. Ambi, on Cardinal Pell I’d need to refresh my memory of the case, but an acquittal may be the best outcome.

    I’d agree, the the principle of beyond reasonable doubt is important.

    And much has been written as to what ‘reasonable’ means.

    Yet it is important and tragic that a victim may not ever be believed when the effects of trauma are evident in their personality, detracting from their credibility, unless a third party observes and give credible witness.

  110. Ambi, in sorting through the rubble of my memory, I think the position I held was that only the jury who had heard all the evidence, including the video witness of the victim, could have an opinion.

    The appellant judges could judge whether the trial judge acted properly, but my memory is that they too watched the victim’s testimony.

    I haven’t been following closely, but I think I heard that the High Court judges did not watch the victim’s testimony.

    If not I have a problem with that.

    Can you enlighten?

  111. I cannot enlighten, but I may, with your indulgence m’Lud, comment.

    It seems the High Court ruled a few years ago that a jury verdict should be set aside only in exceptional circumstances. So they agree that the jury is best placed to assess the credibility of witnesses including, in this case the complainant.

    But the jury which convicted Mr Pell watched a video of the testimony and cross examination of the complainant (recorded at the first trial whose jury could not agree). Understandably, a judge may rule that a witness not be dragged through a harsh cross examination a second time. Also, these days, some complainants give evidence by video link. So at the trial which resulted in Mr Pell’s conviction, the jury had NOT seen the complainant “live” on the courtroom. Will the High Court opine about that? Dunno, m’Lud.

    One of the main points made by Weinberg J (dissenting) was that many witnesses called by the defence said the Archbishop would have been at the front steps, and accompanied at all times, etc. No opprtunity to assault the boys. None of these eitnesses were challenged by the Prosecution. Each taken alone provided an alibi of sorts. So Weinberg J reasoned tbat there should have been grounds for reasonable doubt.

    A few lawyers’ comments that I saw after the appeal was lost, claimed that in the trial, whether because of errors by the defence or otherwise, the defence argued that the ‘alibi witnesses’ showed the offendong hoghly unlikely to have been possible. This “reversed the onus of proof”.

    (It was up to the prosecution to prove him guilty. Not up to the defence to prove him innocent.)

    If this was how the Chief Justice and Maxwell J reasoned, then their reasoning was faulty.

    The most tantalising comment I saw online, was that Weinberg J had written his judgement at length and in detail, “as if he was writing for an audience of seven”.

    i.e. a full bench of the High Court.

    I have two further comments.
    First, the defence is at an understandable disadvantage when the offending was said to have happened decades ago. The prosecution had to narrow down their claim to a particular Sunday. If nothing unusual was observed by the clerics, why would anyone keep a diary note or a photo?The Archbishop spoke to attendees at the front steps: he didn’t sign and date autographs, nor did he pose for selfies. Some Cathedral records were kept, some lost.

    Second: it’s become obvious that many abused children might have been assisted if adults at the time had taken their stories, complaints, distress seriously .
    So now we know: take an allegation seriously at first sight. Do not refuse to listen yo a complaint. But of course, that doesn’t entail a requirement to believe that 100% of allegations are true.


    But what would I know?
    I wasn’t in the sacristy on that day.

    Ambi of the Overflow

  112. He may be hounded as Sir John Kerr was hounded.

    Ambi there’s an excellent ABC podcast called The Eleventh which I recommend. It convinced me to (reluctantly) accept that EG Whitlam, whilst a remarkable man, was not quite the colossus I had thought him to be.
    And it contains evidence which satisfies me that Sir John richly deserved the hounding he received.
    Of course, your mileage might vary.

  113. Ta very much.

    My opinion of E.G. Whitlam has also altered over the years.
    Probably inevitable, with more accounts and documents emerging; and commentators judgements changing with 20/20 hindsight.

  114. Thanks, Ambi. I had a chat with Mark and he doesn’t know either, apart from appellant judges being generally unwilling to set aside jury verdicts in criminal matters.

    We await the morrow.

  115. There was an earlier story on coral bleaching. Unfortunately today’s news is that it is major, the third in five years.

  116. I think it’s incumbent on George Pell to use his considerable influence in ensuring the person who did abuse those boys be brought to justice. It’s the only Christian alternative.

  117. Indeed, if someone did assault two young boys in that vicinity.

    One choir boy told his mother he had not been abused.

    The other choir boy (and even that terminology assumes the story was basically true) is the complainant.

    zoot, it will be interesting to see what the Royal Commission found, re pedophile abusers in the Ballarat Diocese (and indeed abuser clerics in Melbourne), about whom Cardinal Pell may have been told… What did he do? When?

  118. Indeed, if someone did assault two young boys in that vicinity.

    Ii was reported that the Cardinal believes the witness was being truthful about the assault.

  119. Here’s the High Court’s summary (not its full reasons):

    [2020] HCA 12
    Today, the High Court granted special leave to appeal against a decision of the Court of Appeal of
    the Supreme Court of Victoria and unanimously allowed the appeal.

    The High Court found that the
    jury, acting rationally on the whole of the evidence, ought to have entertained a doubt as to the
    applicant’s guilt with respect to each of the offences for which he was convicted, and ordered that
    the convictions be quashed and that verdicts of acquittal be entered in their place.

    On 11 December 2018, following a trial by jury in the County Court of Victoria, the applicant, who
    was Archbishop of Melbourne at the time of the alleged offending, was convicted of one charge of
    sexual penetration of a child under 16 years and four charges of committing an act of indecency
    with or in the presence of a child under the age of 16 years.
    This was the second trial of these
    charges, the jury at the first trial having been unable to agree on its verdicts. The prosecution case,
    as it was left to the jury, alleged that the offending occurred on two separate occasions, the first on
    15 or 22 December 1996 and the second on 23 February 1997. The incidents were alleged to have
    occurred in and near the priests’ sacristy at St Patrick’s Cathedral in East Melbourne, following the
    celebration of Sunday solemn Mass. The victims of the alleged offending were two Cathedral
    choirboys aged 13 years at the time of the events.

    The applicant sought leave to appeal against his convictions before the Court of Appeal. On
    21 August 2019 the Court of Appeal granted leave on a single ground, which contended that the
    verdicts were unreasonable or could not be supported by the evidence, and dismissed the appeal.
    The Court of Appeal viewed video-recordings of a number of witnesses’ testimony, including that
    of the complainant. The majority, Ferguson CJ and Maxwell P, assessed the complainant to be a
    compelling witness. Their Honours went on to consider the evidence of a number of “opportunity
    witnesses”, who had described the movements of the applicant and others following the conclusion
    of Sunday solemn Mass in a way that was inconsistent with the complainant’s account. Their
    Honours found that no witness could say with certainty that these routines and practices were never
    departed from and concluded that the jury had not been compelled to entertain a reasonable doubt
    as to the applicant’s guilt.

    Weinberg JA dissented, concluding that, by reason of the unchallenged
    evidence of the opportunity witnesses, the jury, acting rationally on the whole of the evidence,
    ought to have had a reasonable doubt.

    On 17 September 2019, the applicant applied to the High Court for special leave to appeal from the
    Court of Appeal’s decision on two grounds. On 13 November 2019, Gordon and Edelman JJ
    referred the application for special leave to a Full Court of the High Court for argument as on an

    The application was heard by the High Court on 11 and 12 March 2020.
    The High Court considered that, while the Court of Appeal majority assessed the evidence of the
    opportunity witnesses as leaving open the possibility that the complainant’s account was correct,
    their Honours’ analysis failed to engage with the question of whether there remained a reasonable
    possibility that the offending had not taken place, such that there ought to have been a reasonable
    doubt as to the applicant’s guilt. The unchallenged evidence of the opportunity witnesses was
    inconsistent with the complainant’s account, and described:
    (i) the applicant’s practice of greeting
    congregants on or near the Cathedral steps after Sunday solemn Mass;
    (ii) the established and
    historical Catholic church practice that required that the applicant, as an archbishop, always be
    accompanied when robed in the Cathedral; and
    (iii) the continuous traffic in and out of the priests’
    sacristy for ten to 15 minutes after the conclusion of the procession that ended Sunday solemn

    The Court held that, on the assumption that the jury had assessed the complainant’s evidence as
    thoroughly credible and reliable, the evidence of the opportunity witnesses nonetheless required the
    jury, acting rationally, to have entertained a reasonable doubt as to the applicant’s guilt in relation
    to the offences involved in both alleged incidents. With respect to each of the applicant’s
    convictions, there was, consistently with the words the Court used in Chidiac v The Queen (1991)
    171 CLR 432 at 444 and M v The Queen (1994) 181 CLR 487 at 494, “a significant possibility that
    an innocent person has been convicted because the evidence did not establish guilt to the requisite
    standard of proof”.

    Keen readers may compare the Court’s summary with my unlearned comments on 6th April in the evening.

    Disclaimer: I am neither barrister nor judge nor a court employee. But I can read and assess.

  120. Ambi, you get up earlier than I do.

    Have a listen to this.

    I think on the balance of probabilities Pell was guilty (while maintaining that my opinion should have no weight, because I was not there listening to it all). But this was not about the balance of probabilities, it was about whether doubt could be shown to exist. The High Court found that it did.

    Please note what Jeremy Gans said – the law is about proof, not truth.

    So doubt exists, so we must regard Pell as found not guilty, therefore innocent.

    Courts work according to law as legislated, in this case Victorian law, on procedures and argument. This case may cause some to ponder whether improvements could be made.

  121. Brian

    You correctly note that Courts do what Courts do.
    They have to assess evidence in a criminal case on the basis of a very strict criterion:

    beyond reasonable doubt.

    On that basis my opinion (of no value at all) was that the conviction of George Pell was “unsafe”. In other words the prosecution had not established (proved) that
    he did those criminal things
    to those boys
    on those dates
    in that place.

    None of us know whether he did. All reasonable people accept that. And we know that terrible crimes were committed by priests, ‘youth leaders, sports coaches, teachers, uncles, friends of the family, stepfathers etc.

    The practice of “moving someone along” was not limited to churches or indeed to the Roman Church. Many of us will have heard of it in contexts of schools or sports clubs for kids.

    And the refusal of adults (including parents now grieving) to believe that “nice Father X” or “wonderful teacher Y” etc could be an active pedophile – has also, sadly, not been confined to the Roman Church.

    To give one local example: in a nearby town about 15 years ago – yes, before PM Gillard’s Govt or the Victorian Govt held formal inquiries – a senior teacher in a State school was found to have seriously molested children at the school over several years. Many parents of kids at the school and parents of former pupils said they didn’t want the perpetrator sacked because he had done such marvellous things for his school and the community.

    It wasn’t just the unduspecting awe of faithful parishioners refusing to believe a priest could sin.

    Pedophiles, by the nature of their crimes, often develop very devious methods of concealment and lulling adults…….

    More so than the average burglar or armed bank robber, in my experience, m’Lud.

  122. If I may, with your indulgence, m’Lud, add a few remarks before you pronounce sentence on this poor wretch who stands before you here at the bar table – yes, m’Lud – this disgusting specimen who can only be referred to in the first person singular….

    1. Let it not be said that Mr Pell has “got off on a technicality”. The requirement to “prove beyond reasonable doubt” is not some abstruse technical point of contract law argued by Bottom Of The Harbour Inc in their landmark appearance before Scrooge J. It is fundamental to the criminal law and accepted by prosecutors and defence counsel. It is the confining rule within which they put their contending arguments.

    2. My learned friend Jon Faine, formerly of ABC Radio in Melbourne and who has a Law degree [gasps in the Courtroom; Silence!!! bellows m’Lud] argues that millions of $ were assigned to pick away at the credibility of the defendant. The few articles I rad online that questioned the Appeal Court result were based entirely on trial transcripts, a map of the Cathedral and its grounds (available at the RC Cathedral website). No millions of dollars there. And of course dozens of law bods – such as Prof Gans – explained their views. No millions there. Mr Faine, a person may be not guilty even if he had millions spent on his cause. Expenditure is not the key feature. He might even be not guilty [ gasps, m’Lud glares] if he is a Prince of the Church.
    Faine faints.

    3. My learned, fainting friend Faine pronounces that “Mr Pell is, in any case, guilty in the court of public opinion”. Was Mr Faine at any time a shock jock? Did he take talk back? The point, Mr Faine, is that the Court, the Appeal Court, and the High Court are none of them – none whatsoever – a court of public opinion. We should not convict on the basis of “not liking the defendant”. The trial judge, Kidd J said in sentencing Mr Pell, and addressing victims of rapists, molesters, monsters all “this is not about your suffering, pain and anguish; this sentence cannot heal you. This is about Mr Pell only, and only about two events he initiated in St Patrick’s Cathedral” (my rendering of Kidd’s words)

    M’Lud, that is all.


  123. I’m here today, but not tomorrow.

    Let me say that I was surprised when the Victorian police decided to charge Pell, and surprised by the guilty verdict. Many lawyers thought an appeal would likely succeed, so the failure of the appeal was also a surprise.

    It’s pointless trying to second guess the High Court. What did surprise was the 7-0 judgement.

    The effect is that #MeToo has been virtually stopped in its tracks in a legal sense in Australia. I had worried that

    It is very unlikely that any victim will bring a complaint against a high profile person. Prosecutions may only be sensible now if there is direct forensic evidence, or a direct corroborating witness.

    I don’t have the time or will to do a separate post, so here are some things to look at:

    • George Pell freed from prison following High Court decision ABC RN’s Law Report with Jeremy Gans, Professor, University of Melbourne Law School, Justin Hannebery QC, Victorian criminal Barrister, who often appears in sex assault and historic child sex abuse trials and David Marr, Commentator, journalist with Guardian and author.

    There is an unresolved issue about the socalled ‘opportunity’ witnesses.

    It has been said that their evidence was unchallenged.

    It has been said that they were brought to the court by the prosecution.

    Neither of those statements appears to be true, which is surprising, given the seniority of the people in law who made them.

    Two things seem to be clear. First, the victim witness is held to have given testimony that was credible, powerfully compelling, withstood four days of interrogation by Robert Richter, one of the best in the business in breaking witnesses down, and was believed by everyone, including the High Court and Pell, apart from one small detail – the identity of the perpetrator.

    Secondly, the main source of doubt was two-fold. Firstly, the lack of opportunity because the sacristy was a busy place.

    Personally I would discount this, because the actions were impulsive, lasted a very short time, and presumably would not have happened if a third party were present. It is quite believable that there was sufficient lull in said business.

    Most accounts put the main source of doubt as the witness of Monsignor Charles Portelli, who said that he was with Pell all the time and has an actual memory of being with Pell on those particular days until Pell disrobed and changed in the sacristy.

    Please note (I’m following Marr here) that the jury heard this claim in the flesh and did not believe it. The High Court saw the claim on video, and did.

    According to Webster Lawyers (and I’ve seen it elsewhere) what is ‘reasonable’ is to be decided by the jury in the particular circumstances. Nowhere are we given a numerical probability percentage, so doubt can be deemed to exist if present in very narrow circumstances. My post linked above shows that the jury was well instructed by the judge, but I understand did not ask for specific guidance on this point.

    Effectively the High Court has taken this right of decision away from the jurors. Marr says that the HC were emboldened by having access to the video, but also says they seem to want to return to the disembodied words, rather than the experience of hearing them. Count me confused.

    Last night in conversation with my wife and son Mark, my son said Portelli was a witness for the defense, not the prosecution. Within a minute or two he quoted from the trial transcript on his phone, where Portelli was nominated an ‘alibi’ witness for the defense and was being attacked over his propensity to disappear to have a fag.

    This may seem trivial, but Portelli was in fact a heavy smoker at the time. Mark cited another priest who was a famous smoker and would desert his post quite regularly for a fag.

    It is conceivable that the High Court had no empathy for heavily addicted smokers. Marr says Portelli’s evidence was contested, but not strongly, and was not ‘broken’.

    However, Marr says that the High Court believed Portelli absolutely, as contrasted with the jury would believed him not at all.

    Marr further says that Portelli is good mates with Pell, the Pell took him to Rome with him to help decorate his apartment. The High Court may not have known that, I really don’t know.

    Melissa Davey, who sat through the whole trial and wrote a book, said the decision would leave many senior lawyers uneasy. Marr sees the HC as trying to wind back the clock to how things were. He says that no victim in their right mind would bother bringing a formal complaint if this is going to be the form.

    He says the decision was “proper” but arose out of an “impasse” over doubt. The HC has overturned jury decisions before on similar grounds, but rarely and never unanimous.

    I have a further issue. It relates to memory. I haven’t the link readily to hand, but the American researcher who destroyed the ‘recovered memory’ stunt that was wreaking havoc when people were being falsely persuaded that they had been repeatedly raped when young, for example, by their father, and then had suppressed the memory entirely, to be uncovered later with the help of a psychologist.

    The problem here was that some psychologists were in fact creating these memories by suggestion during therapy.

    This researcher showed that it was possible to convince a sane adult that they had been to Disneyland, and lost their child there, when in fact they had never been near the place.

    When asked about the use of memory in criminal trials, she said memory was about the last thing you would want to rely on.

    Yet we do.

    Now we await the Royal Commission where over 60 pages on Pell were redacted, and Sarah Ferguson’s documentary on the Catholic Church, where the third part has been pulled and will now be altered to take account of the Pell decision.

  124. That’s about the longest comment I’ll do in a while.

    On this issue I wouldn’t do a post now unless I read the whole trial transcripts. That’s not how I want to spend my time.

  125. Luckily I’ve never wasted any of my time on the Pell thang, one way or the other.

    Something to do with a modified version Niebuhr’s prayer.

  126. The third episode by Sarah was in fact shiwn on telly. Apparently it was a re-hash of the “swimming pool in Ballarat” allegations. These had plenty of publicity but were never brought to a prosecution.

    Assaults in private, hidden places are notoriously difficult to prove. That is widely agreed. Complainants must be listened to: that has become clearer over the years.

    Portelli was but one of several ‘alibi witnesses’. For instance, one had been a choir boy and remembered talking to Mr Pell on the Cathedral steps because his mother attended that Mass and he introduced her to Pell at the steps. The sbatch of conversation he recalled was
    Pell, “You must be very proud of uour son.”
    Mother, “Oh I don’t know about that!”

    Thanks Mum.
    Not likely yo be forgotten by the choir boy son. His mother didn’t usually go to Mass at the Cathedral. From memory, she attended that day because it was the first time yhe new Archbishop was to celebrate Mass. Amongst
    all the possibilities or instances of old men being likely to have faulty memories, this one less so?

    Brian, many of the senior clergy would gave been friends of Mr Pell. Are you suggesting friends be excluded from witness lists? That’ll play havoc in cases of murder, domestic assault, etc. The prosecution would naturally insinuate that a friend has come to the aid of a guilty man. The alibi winesses were challenged: “Are you sure this practice was followed invariably? Might it not have been, once or twice?” Of course thrir testimony was challenged. Or its import.

    But I think none of them was accused of lying to the Court.

    Brian, I respect your preference not to read the transcript of the trial. It took me several days to read Weinberg J (dissenting judgement, Court of Appeal). I found it fascinating and educative. Others might not.

    Some might prefer to watch paint dry, or to “model” how many angels can dance on a pinhead.

    In my view the 7-0 decision points out how cogent Weinberg’s reasoning was. An unjust verdict had been upheld 2-1 on appeal.

    Some say the jury verdict should stand because it was the verdict if a jury. Oh yes, no right of appeal against any jury verdict, ever?? Jury verdicts are 100% reliable are they??

    Others say the Court of Appeal decision should have been final. Oh yes, no place for the High Court on criminal verdicts??? Never again? Really?

    A few say the “presumption of innocence” and “guilty beyond reasonable doubt” are old fashioned and unfair. I beg to differ, m’Lud.

    On R. Richter QC: yes he has a high reputation, well deserved no doubt. But in excerpts of the transcript quoted by Weinberg J, Mr Richter occasionally seemed to be hazy on details of the liturgy and the Church. I thought QCs were supposed to study relevant matters deeply before a trial.

    And if he allowed the Prosecution at trial to argue in such a manner as to “reverse the onus of proof”, what, pray tell, was he doing???

  127. Well, here’s a headline from The Shovel for you

    “Pell Back in Prison After He Eats a Keb as b in a Park.”

    The Pell thang may be a little too Victorian for you Mr J.

    Down here we take such matters very seriously : corruption in the Diocese of Ballarat, pedophilia; PM Gillard was from Victoria and set up the Royal Comission into Institutional …..; Vic Parliament had an inquiry too; hasn’t young Pell done well? Sydney, Cardinal, Vatican, Barwon Prison; and good old Victorian Police: two big stories this year – Nicola Gobbo, acquittal on appeal of Mr Pell.

    The sort of stuff we get our teeth into at the Private Club over a sherry with our QC and Captains of Industry friends, while Quincelanders are out catching huge fish.or wrestling crocs.

    Our crocks differ.

  128. I’ve just renamed this post from Saturday salon 2/3 to Weekly salon 2/3, which is what it should have been.

    Sorry about that!

  129. Ambi, you seem to think I have a settled view on the Pell matter.

    I don’t.

    In this comment I said that on the balance of probabilities I thought Pell was guilty. That was on the information I have, which I said was insufficient, and the issue is not about the balance of probabilities, so that interim view is irrelevant.

    I was actually using that statement to pivot to the issue of reasonable doubt, which the High Court found. Probably that was not a good way of attacking the issue.

    The rest of what I wrote was summarising and based on what other people more informed had said and written in order to help people think about the issues and what it might all mean.

    I had chosen not to watch the Sarah Ferguson series. I may do now. I don’t know. Covid 19 has given a lot of people more time; it has had the opposite effect for me.

    I have a minor question. You had said that the ‘opportunity’ witnesses were unchallenged (I can’t get a good handle on who that category includes), and Marr says the High Court judgement is littered with the word “unchallenged”.

    Now you appear to say the reverse.

    I watched the first half of SBS news tonight. Witness J has made a response which I thought a class act.

    See Witness J, former choirboy who accused George Pell, says case ‘does not define me’

  130. Definitely a class act Brian.
    And I repeat since it wasn’t Pell, the Church should be doing all within its power to bring the true perpetrator to justice.
    Given the Church’s history of coverups and evasions I’m not holding my breath.

  131. Apologies Brian, I didn’t mean to attack your standpoint.
    There is always room for doubt. None of us was in the sacristy in that day.

    Witness J’s statement was indeed dignified and to the point. Anyone who has been molested or raped should have the right support to seek justice.

    Brian, I think your earlier surmising about ‘faulty memory’ may be relevant. The Appeal Vourt majority was alive to this. They mentioned the possibilities that the Witness was a liar or a fantasist and rejected both.

    But most of us have had a dream which on waking seemed terrifyingly real. Could such an event gradually become regarded as a memory? I dunno. You pointed to relevant studies. I know nothing of that area.

    What I’m getting at, is that a Witness might have a firm belief
    that their memory is of a real on incident (crime), and be unshakeable. The police must surely see this, now and then?

    Of course I have no way of knowing if this happened in this instance.

    Did a dingo really go to the campsite at Uluru?
    I don’t know.

  132. A footnote.

    I’m beginning to think “unchallenged” may have a technical meaning in Court-speak.

    May it mean “evidence given by Witness A was not utterly destroyed either by showing untruthfulness or through other, conflicting evidence”??

    So the Prosecution might cast doubt on Witness A’s testimony: faulty memory? was it always done that way? can you be sure? did you keep a diary? it sounds implausible? are you just tryiong to help out your friend? it’s so long ago, is it not? but Witness B has said something different; why should the jury believe your version? etc.?

    Weinberg J said the ‘opportunity witnesses’ (those whose testimony made it highly unlikely that the Archbishop could have gone to that place and raped those boys) = his sheer lack of opportunity… in effect provided Mr Pell with a kind of ‘alibi’.

    An example of a witness being successfully challenged occurred at a special hearing of the Victorian Supreme Court on the eve of the hanging of Ronald Ryan (1967). A gentleman claimed he had been in Pentridge Prison and had seen one of the other warders shoot the deceased prison warder, rather than Ryan being the gunman who had murdered.

    Police produced a prison list to show that the gentleman was not in custody at Pentridge on the day of the shots.

    Witness challenged and defeated.
    Defence – clutching at last minute straws – defeated.

  133. Could such an event gradually become regarded as a memory?

    Like breaking a regular habit and not slipping out for a quiet smoke on that particular Sunday?

  134. No probs, Ambi.

    BTW as I’ve probably said before, I have no problem about being corrected. I welcome it and don’t beat up on myself.

    My dominant interest is in the truth and the relationship between the legal system and truth. Ideally perpetrators should be identified and dealt with, but we don’t want the innocent punished.

    I was reflecting on all this last night. Marr goes a bit over the top when he says the Jury disbelieved Portelli and the rest, while the HC believed him absolutely. The disbelief of the jury had to be absolute to preserve their view that Pell was guilty.

    However, Pell’s team had an easier task. They didn’t have to prove that Portelli was wrong, only a possibility that he was right.

    Pell’s team were more subtle than I think Richter would ever have been. By accepting that Witness J was telling the truth as he experienced it they could put full focus on the evidence of Portelli and the rest, to point out that it introduced doubt.

    So the power of Witness J’s testimony is set to one side as a distraction.

    Now we are in a situation where everyone agrees that something bad happened to the choir boys, but we simply don’t know the identity of the perpetrator. Zoot is right. The authorities should be taking an interest in that, but here we come to limited resources and how they are best deployed. The possibility that in truth it was Pell who did it is still open, but can’t be resolved in law in the legal system, which as Gans says, rests on proof. Since there in no longer a Privy Council appeal, Pell must now be treated as innocent.

    Don’t have time to find the link now, but Andrew West at RN’s Religion and Ethics Report addressed the issue, including a long-term friend of Pell’s, and also whether Pell has any prospect of further service in the Church. The answer to the latter is probably not, but they will look after him.

    There is another dimension about Pope Francis’s reaction, which is also problematic.

  135. David Marr quite often goes over the top. As far as I can see, that’s his shtick and he makes a living from it.

    Amongst several matters he addressed, Witness J made a cogent and concise statement about the fundamental importance of “proof beyond reasonable doubt”; I wish I could be so concise, and so dignified.

    BTW this matter of Portelli nicking off for a puff…. Hadn’t heard of that previously, and I thought I had read Weinberg J’s dissenting judgement in full. Wouldn’t Weinberg have mentioned that, if it were germane? Or is it something never raised at trial, in which case Weinberg – no telepathist he – was not obliged to consider that possibility.

    I can understand a decent person having no interest in reading about such malign (alleged) actions and (alleged) perpetrators. I couldn’t be bothered watching Sarah Ferguson’s third program.

    Why call it “Revelation”?

    “Allegation” would be more apt; and as far as I can tell, the so-called ‘Ballarat swimming pool stories’ had been aired in public years ago and did not lead to a prosecution.

    All of us are aware that many allegations never lead to prosecutions, Ja?

    Brian and zoot: I too am interested in that fundamental difficulty – getting a justice system to function so that Truth and Justice align as closely as human institutions may allow.

    All rise.

  136. A couple of things, well three.

    First, I wrote the comment 12:41 PM earlier than it was posted, and didn’t see the comments from Ambi and zoot immediately above it. I was running out the door late, was turning off the computer and realised it hadn’t been posted. So I posted and scarpered.

    Secondly, Ambi, there was a flurry of statements when my wife and I discussed it. I think the sloping off for a fag may have been a possible scenario floated by Mark. I rather thought Pell may have excused himself, then went off to have a pee, then returned to his mixing at the front of the church. It all happened quite quickly. But that is pure speculation.

    I’m a bit concerned that there has been no discussion of the February event, which I thought was also on the charge sheet.

    Third, Daniel Andrews has indicated he will not get the police to now pursue the people who pursued and harassed Pell. However, the AFR suggested that he may be contemplating judge-only trials in these kinds of cases.

  137. Here’s more.

    The Andrew West interview with a long-time friend of George Pell, Dr Bernadette Tobin, is in the episode The public backlash, a Cardinal, and the Vatican.

    Ambi asked: Did a dingo really go to the campsite at Uluru?

    I was interstate (Melbourne, I think) staying at a hotel when it happened. On morning commercial TV (which I wouldn’t normally watch) I saw an older Aboriginal man being interviewed. His language was such that they used subtitles.

    He clearly had tracking skills and told where the dingo had been and where it had been carrying the baby.

    So I never had any doubt. However, what happened after that is a different story.

    I mention it here in part because Tobin used the Lindy Chamberlain analogy to explain what she thinks happened to Pell.

  138. On Lindy

    I recall on about the second day after her baby vanished, one Vincent Serventy (wildlife enthusiast) interviewed on ABC Radio. He said, “a dingo would never do this.”

    What conclusion was the listener to draw?

    Then there were sceptics of the Chamberlains’ religious sect, spreading the word that “Azaria” means “sacrifice in the desert”.

    At least in the first trial there was actual, scientific, laboratory evidence of baby blood found inside the family car. Oh, wait, it was some kind of undercoat or metal treatment. Not baby blood?? “My bad”.

  139. Would it be timely to say that crucifixion is one of the most evil punishments devised?

    One might add:
    The rack
    Water torture
    Burning by napalm
    Burning at the stake

    but if there are demerit points scored for the length of agony before decease, crucifixion would have to score heavily.

    (You can see why adult humans prefer to talk about an Easter Bunny…. safer ground, and who wants to torment children in any case?)

    Happy Easter to all!

    + From The Dark Recesses +

  140. Ambi: “I recall on about the second day after her baby vanished, one Vincent Serventy (wildlife enthusiast) interviewed on ABC Radio. He said, “a dingo would never do this.”
    Myself, 2 sons and my grandson have all been threatened by dingoes over 3 separate incidents. In one case, dingoes growled at my elder son before going off. In my case the dingoes appeared to be positioning to attack from both sides but left when I wacked my walking pole against the tree that I had put my back to. My younger son and grandson were threatened by a dingo that, initially continued to attack until it had been hit on a head a few times with a stick.
    Find it hard to believe that a dingo would never grab a baby.

  141. John we also had a learned idiot from the UK telling us that a dingo could not open its jaws wide enough.

  142. With respect this raking over old coal on the Azaria case is .. ahem .. surprising. We dealt with that three years ago in my false dichotomy ‘experiment’. There is plenty of hard evidence that it could not have been the Dingo nor Lindy. There is also plenty of evidence that the judicial system from the coppers to forensic to courts stuffed up monumentally.


    Read Buck Richardson’s Book, he went forensically through all the evidence, transcripts, anything of relevance is in his book. His primary aim was to highlight where the justice system went wrong. He had to self publish, because even though a retired chief justice commended Buck for his work and suggested it should be read by any law student to learn avoiding such grave legal stuff ups, but in the Ende the legal profession was too vain for self criticism. Also Phillip Adams who read the book suggested that no publisher will touch it while still all the crucial family members were alive. If you have too much time on your hand I suggest you read it.


  143. Ootz, I was hoping you would clarify the Lindy Chamberlain thing. I could remember your intervention, but not the outcome. Failing memory in old age!

    I said above:

      He clearly had tracking skills and told where the dingo had been and where it had been carrying the baby.

      So I never had any doubt. However, what happened after that is a different story.

    That is all true. That is what I saw and what I believed. You’ll notice, though, in the last sentence I left the matter open to accommodate all possibilities.

    I notice now that in Richardson’s synopsis in your link he:

      raises the possibility that Azariah was neither killed by a dingo nor murdered by her mother Lindy.

    So, is it more than a possibility?

    I’m interested, but don’t have enough time to do more leg work if I’m ever going to get back to climate change.

    Pell’s friend Dr Bernadette Tobin sees the similarity in that the public interest, how the Chamberlains behaved and the media reaction as creating an information soup which mitigates against the proper legal treatment of very grave crimes.

  144. Brian, it is now nearly two decades that I have prove read Buck’s book (not linguistically, he had a JCU English lecturer doing that, but internal consistencies, logic of argument, referencing etc. ) having had all the coronial findings, the evidence used in court, the court hearings layed out in logical sequence to build up the case Buck makes, convinced me that the third coroner had it right: there is less than 50 percent chance that it was either Lindy nor the dingo who killed Azaria. However, looking at all the evidence and entertaining the idea for a third possibility, will provide a case of more than 50percent of a tragic alternative event happening on that evening. And it more than explains Lindy’s incongruent behaviour and evidence, as well as the almighty row she and Michael had in very early morning in the motel they were brought earlier and then his mad dash in the Torana only to come back before dawn. They divorced later too.

    More so it also highlights the stuff ups that occurred from them moment the coppers turned up on the crime scene right up to but not the third coroner findings. He finally got it right, but the dye was cast for the eternal conundrum this nation will entertain itself on.

    Given above and not across all the relevant details of the Pell case, I’d still suspect similar parallels of systemic failures from police up to the court. So if you want to solve the Pell case start looking at the process in details. Unfortunately much is hidden from public scrutiny due to the protection of the witness A. In any case Pell and his accuser will suffer the same infamy Lindy and the dingo do for a long time to come. In the mean time Australian justice is beyond scrutiny.

    I still recon anyone should read Buck’s book before commenting on the Azaria case.

  145. Ootz and Brian

    I mentioned Azaria because of the widespread interest her disappearance caused; agree it was a long and tortuous legal process; agree we nay never know; think many marriages wouldn’t survive such an intense period (so the divorce doesn’t indicate guilt).

    One matter I heard fifth hand was this. A scientist was asked to take a similar jumpsuit and get a dingo to grasp it in its mouth. The puncture marks on the “test jumpsuit” differed from those found in the jumpsuit that eventually turned up at The Rock. But that’s like me sauntering in here and suggesting that Portelli was always ducking off for a fag. Irrelevant. No probative value. Scuttling scuttlebut.

    I wonder how Mr J and his Band of Outlaws are going, deliberately flouting the Easter Confinement Outrage??

  146. Ootz, to be honest when you ran your thinking experiment back in 2017 I didn’t follow it properly, because I am always conflicted about being involved in the threads, which cuts into writing time.

    Thanks for the illumination.

    The cut marks on the jumpsuit were always a problem as was it turning up separate from the body.

    I guess it doesn’t change what a dingo could do, and there has been plenty to worry about on that score, especially on Fraser Island.

  147. Some heartening news from Bangladesh.
    In August 1975 the “father of the Nation” Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who had taken on authoritarian powers, was assassinated along with most of his family, in a coup.

    45 years later, one of his surviving daughters ( now herself in high office) has authorised the execution of one of the assassins.

    You can run but the law catches up with you…

  148. Ambi, I believe in ancient China great wars were fought based on families. Apparently the custom was that whoever won, the defeated family would be exterminated, men women and children to pre-empt any notion of revenge.

    Humans have not changed very much at all, I think, in the last, say 70,000 years.

  149. I was working yesterday because the grass and trees don’t take a break for Easter. Today, catching up with some family matters, but working on a new ‘salon’. Should be out late tonight or early (for me) tomorrow.

  150. …. so I should have written “you can run from the family, but the family catches up with you”, Brian?

    In a nearby State, the Bhutto family know a thing or two about that…. then there’s the Gandhi family (Indira, Rajiv).

    And the poor old Mahatma Gandhi copped it too.

  151. Thanks zoot.

    Enjoying the ABC podcast “The Eleventh ” outlining the three or four years up to the dismissal of PM Whitlam. (not finished it yet)

    So far, not many figures looking too flash.
    Feet of Clay Awards to
    Gough W
    Jim Cairns
    Lionel Murphy
    Rex Connor
    Tirath Khemlani
    John Kerr
    Juni Morosi

    and the spooky James Jesus Angleton.

    What was that Govt and that PM thinking? If Mr Whitlam actually wanted to renew the lease on Pine Gap, why hint otherwise in public? Dr Cairns, why did you not apply yourself diligently to Treasurer duties? etc. etc.

    What a shambles.

  152. More “constitutional crises” loming?

    From Nine Newspapers:

    “When somebody is the President of the United States, the authority is total, and that’s the way it’s got to be,” Trump said.

    “It’s total, and the governors know that.”

    It’s a claim completely at odds with Trump’s past statements, his actions during the pandemic and the US constitution. Specifically, the 10th amendment states that the federal government possesses only the powers specifically assigned to it, with all remaining authority reserved for the states.

    “The President doesn’t have ‘total authority’,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo quickly responded. “We have a constitution. We don’t have a king. We have an elected president.”

  153. Ambi: It is all very well to bucket Whitlam but when you look at a list of what various governments did the Whitlam government stands out for the things they did, things that we take for granted. https://www.whitlam.org/studying-whitlam
    “The Whitlam Government brought about a vast range of reforms in the 1071 days it held office between December 5, 1972 and November 11, 1975.
    In its first year alone, it passed 203 bills – more legislation than any other federal government had passed in a single year. Gough Whitlam reformed not only Australia’s laws and institutions, but the way this country sees itself. Explore some of the achievements and reforms enacted by Prime Minister Gough Whitlam and the government he led here. ” Also see
    Gough had the misfortune to be in power when the OPEC crisis struck, pushed the price of oil up and inflation up substantially.

  154. Every leader has feet of clay.
    Some perform well, here and there.

    Some head govts that descend into near-chaos.
    (In some respects I think Mr Rudd was heading that way, and his colleagues decided to put a premature end to the unfolding problems. If I may quote PM Gillard, “A good Government had lost its way.”)

    I dislike the attitude of reverence for Saint Gough that I still hear now and then. Not claiming you are a worshipper at that shrine, John. Idolatry is a dangerous emotion in politics.

    Yes, Mr Whitlam’s Govt had many achievements to its credit. That was a remarkable time in Australia. Those times and achievements still reverberate now.

    The G-G overstepped the mark on 11th November 1975.

    Equally well, the ALP richly deserved the electoral thrashing they received in December that year. (I write this as one of the thousands who handed out Labor how-to-vote cards at that election.)

    My views of E.G.Whitlam and his Governments have changed.

    PS to zoot: Professor Jenny Hocking I find unconvincing.

  155. PS to John

    Curtin had the misfortune to be in power during WW2
    Chifley had the misfortune to be in power during the Coal Strike, while dealing with postwar reconstruction
    Menzies had the misfortune to be in power during Korea, Suez, “konfrontasi” and the Cold War
    Holt had the misfortune to be in power while Australian troops were fighting in South Vietnam
    McEwen was temporary, which was his good fortune
    Gorton had the misfortune to be in power while he was trying to find himself on a deeply personal level
    McMahon had the misfortune to marry later in life and to be in power when Gough and Henry were playing footsie with Peking
    Whitlam was superb
    Fraser had the misfortune to win resounding majorities in 1975 and 1977 for no apparent reason
    Hawke had the misfortune to have to deal with strong unions and weak businesses
    Keating had the misfortune to have presided over a recession that we really needed to have, before he ascended
    Howard had the misfortune to have to deal with Port Arthur and East Timor, massacres both
    Rudd had the misfortune to have to deal with “Chinese rat-pluckers” and secret bat-munchers while attempting to use his rudimentary Mandarin
    Gillard had the misfortune to have Rudd in her Ministry and Brown as her ally
    Rudd had another stab at it; removed that time by the electors instead of his colleagues
    Abbott had the misfortune to be compared to his predecessors
    Turnbull had the misfortune to find that a fortune is insufficient to equip you for the top job
    Morrison, having had the good fortune to face Mr Shorten, then had the misfortune to face COVID19

  156. Ambi: I am still sticking to the Gough was outstanding message. He had the good fortune to arrive after the conservative government had been asleep for years.

  157. Yes, the place needed a clear out and wake up, John. His Govt started well. Some scores onto the board …..

    In some ways PM McMahon personified the malaise of the Libs and Country Party.

    One of my points is that every Govt can expect something large, difficult and challenging.

    But the Loans Affair was self-inflicted.

    (And Gough’s attempt to get an Iraqi loan for the ALP late ’75 was a shocker. Makes Mr Dastyari look like an amateur.) About time we had “foreign interference” legislation, eh?

  158. Apparently former PM Turnbull isn’t happy.

    Unhappy that News Corp and Sky News journalists took former PM Abbott seriously when he critiqued his successor’s Cabinet.

    But Mr Turnbull led a Govt to near-defeat, did he not? At an actual Federal Election. In front of millions of voters.

    Meaning that the second Turnbull Ministry had to be super-careful about its very slim majority; handle the cross benchers with kid gloves; treat its own backbench with the fullest respect; keep the Coalition in good working order even when Barnaby was the Country Party Boss Cocky.


    And then Mr Turnbull had to cope with poor Newspolls.
    And couldn’t use the standard cliche: “there’s only one poll that counts and that’s the next Federal Election; I trust the good judgement of the people…..” because he had cited dismal Newspolls in knifing Mr Abbott.

    In a sense, Mr Turnbull in 2018 was the author of his own demise.
    (Shades of Godwin Grech.)

    There you go, John.
    I can dish it it out in all sorts of directions.

  159. We may not have the best governments in the world, but we sure have the funniest!

    – quip attributed to the late Clem Lloyd, journalist, writer, one-time advisor to Lance Barnard, etc.

  160. As a footnote on PM Turnbull, I now learn that Treasurer Morrison was an awful leaker of policy proposals before they’d been considered by Cabinet, let alone agreed. The cad!

    And some of that awful behaviour occurred, awfully, before that awful election that Mr Turnbull nearly lost. No wonder he was so angry on election night that he gave a speech of bile.

    Quite dreadful, the whole sorry business.

    To think, that a Minister might leak. Quite preposterous!!
    (I simply cannot imagine what His Grace the Archbishop will make of this, if he ever hears of it.)

  161. Not sure if this is an accurate quote, but it deserves to be:

    Miss Christine Keeler was in a fragile state as she was swimming naked having not brought her swimming costume with her. In order to allay her concerns I removed my swimming trunks and joined her in the pool.
    – John Profumo

    {This is 1960s nostalgia. Mr Profumo was a senior Minister in the British Govt. Miss Keeler was not, I repeat, not on the Govt payroll. But she had been invited to a country mansion for the weekend; and by golly, there was a swimming pool!
    Mr Profumo resigned from Parlt. In his remorse he volunteered and worked for a charity for many years afterwards.}

  162. Turnbull certainly said what he thought, and Murdoch’s Courier Mail, where the favour was returned by such intellectuals as Peta Credlin and Mark Latham.

    Turnbull said that trying to manage the freak show the LNP became made him seriously think of suicide, which he had never done before.

  163. Ambi your mention of Christine Keeler inspired me to dig up this photo of the lady:

    I’ve used it somewhere before on the blog, not sure where. I do recall an interview with the bloke who took the photo. From memory he had shot three rolls of film over a few hours, and that one was the lucky last, one for the road, just kidding around.

  164. Just saw an estimate that our 2019/2020 bushfires released aboit 830 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere.

    Quite a lot.

  165. Ah, memories, Brian!
    Christine and a Chair – a study in existential something-or-other.

    John Profumo – a study in chivalry.

  166. The Betoota Advocate gets down to the basics of economic theory: when should a company go bust??

    As the nation reels from the fallout of Virgin entering Voluntary Administration, plenty have been left asking what things will look like when all this is over.

    If the airline were allowed to completely fold there are grave concerns for the monopoly Qantas would hold.

    As a result, people have been pleading with the government to step in and try keep the airline afloat for the public good – in calls that seemingly come at odds to the current system we live in known as capitalism.

    Capitalism at its most simplistic definition is an ‘economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state,’ – meaning when a company fails, it should fail.

    However, despite the fact that companies set up in a system designed to enhance the accumulation of wealth and capital, fail, ensuring the accumulation of capital by the remaining company/ies, seemingly following the logical process of capitalism, the nation isn’t so sure this is what it’s supposed to be.

    “The government needs to just step in an help,” explained one local free-market capitalist Young Liberal named Hugo Whitely.

    “Private companies are far more efficient than public ones, except for when they collapse. That’s when the government should interfere in the free market.”

    “The government should interfere in the free market sometimes, but not all the time, because the free market ensures the strongest survive, except for when the strongest surviving is bad.”

    “But this is an example, when the government should get hands-on and stop the natural process of capitalism taking hold.”

    “So we can stay in this perpetual late-stage capitalism phase forever,” he explained.

    – article written by Wendell Hussey

  167. I’d better do another Salon, because comments close after two months.

    Another exciting day in the life of Brian.

    We received our Bondi Air face masks today. We did have some, but these looked really professional, so we ordered them about a month ago.

    We paid, and they said the masks would be delivered the next week.

    Then that became the middle of April. Awaiting delivery from China. I think our masks may have gone to Italy. If so, they definitely needed them more than we did.

    Came today and looked the part.

    Then when I logged on tonight some female advised me I would have to pay a fair sum in bitcoin or people on my email list would be treated to a video of me doing something naughty while watching porn.

    Not guilty on either count, so I’d be interested if any of you get any footage.

  168. If I receive that footage I’ll jutst pass it on to a very pleasant fellow in Nigeria who has promised me 70% of a diamond fortune and sent me a photo of the gems. How he got my email I’m not sure, but apparently he needs someone he can trust, and I’m the one he selected. I feel blessed. Recently I withdrew quite a big amount from super to stock up on toilet paper which isn’t available yet, so the diamond money will be going into the same account, making a very handsome total. Almost like winning a lottery without buying a ticket!! Who says miracles can’t happen?!!??!!$$$

  169. No recurrence of the extortion thing. I guess they recognise early when a target isn’t going to pay, and move on.

    New Salon now up. Hallelujah!

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