Weekly salon 3/5

1. Premiers – perceptions of performance

One would think that Australia’s state premiers have performed well in the so-called war with Covid 19. Newspoll on 27 April found that they had indeed done so in the perception of voters. It’s pay-walled, but here is the graph:

That is a bit hard to read, but the satisfaction rate on the second graph runs from the bottom, Palaszczuk (Qld) 72, Berejiklian (NSW) 77, Marshall (SA) 82, Andrews (Vic) 83, Gutwein (Tas) 89 and McGowan (WA) 94.

The only comment I would make is that I think Queensland has been a bit below the radar nationally, so perhaps that has affected perceptions..

The top part of the graph which shows general satisfaction with premiers is easier to see in this image:

The net satisfaction is, Palaszczuk 16, Berejiklian 46, Marshall 47, Andrews 58, Gutwein 73 and McGowan 83.

That sequence is in the same order, but it is noteworthy how far Palaszczuk is behind and how far Gutwein and McGowan are in front.

Voting intention is another matter, but it seems evident that the crisis may have given a political boost to the incumbent, but perhaps not Labor in Queensland.

Labor is never going to win the election due in October while Clive Palmer is allowed to indulge in political advertising, so it is a question, I think, not of the outcome, but by how much.

Queensland’s economy was not doing well before the virus. Drought, floods and fire added to the pain. There were incidents and accidents. Now the ABC has started it’s coverage:

    At least 130,000 Queenslander have lost their jobs; about 20,000 businesses were forced to close or temporarily shut down; state revenue has plummeted by at least $4 billion and our debt levels will soar above $90 billion.

    For the average Queenslander climbing of out the financial blackhole could take years.

Implying the government has caused people to be locked up.

I think the future will be worse than most commentators have predicted, because they tend to assume that the economy will snap back to ‘normal’. And the article is right in suggesting there is a real risk of the public reaching a tolerance tipping point, if economic pain and social dislocation linger. It’s all set up for the LNP to run a negative campaign, and the Greens to win over (seduce?) the inner city elites by offering hope and happiness.

The Greens may be assisted by the LNP decision to preference them over Labor. Almost certainly South Brisbane will go to Amy McMahon for the Greens, turfing out Jackie Trad, Deputy Premier and leader of Labor Left. Look at the bright shining faces. Forget the policies. They won’t be implemented and are irrelevant.

Antony Green’s analysis after the recent Brisbane City Council election is that The Greens could grow from one to three, but that the fate of the Palaszczuk government depends on the regions. There I think Labor sustained mortal damage from Adani. One Nation and Katter will be significant, but nail in the coffin will be truth, or rather the lack of it, in advertising plus an inability to constrain Clive Palmer. There is a bill before parliament to limit spending to $150,000 per electorate, and advertisers must have a candidate running. However, Palmer has form in running candidates as a formality, with no expectation that they will win.

2. Jackie Trad stands aside

In breaking news, Jackie Trad, Deputy Premier and Treasurer of Queensland, has stood aside from ministerial duties over corruption investigation. See also article in the Brisbane Times.

    Ms Trad was referred to the Crime and Corruption Commission in November last year by the LNP opposition MP Jarrod Bleijie over allegations she had interfered in the selection process for the principal of the Inner City South State Secondary College.

This is what happened:

    Principal Kirsten Ferdinands was last year appointed to lead the school, which is currently under construction in Brisbane’s south, despite a panel selecting candidate Tracey Cook weeks earlier.

    While the selection panel originally signed off on Ms Cook’s appointment, the position was re-advertised in May at a more senior level based on new modelling that the school would likely outgrow its projected size, according to the Department of Education.

The director general of education confirmed this story.

Trad’s mortal sin was to admit that she had spoken with both principal candidates and the school is in her electorate.

Trad’s statement was:

    “Let me be clear, no applicant to the principal position was known to me in any capacity, personal, political or professional.

    “Further, I have never expressed a view to anyone on who should fill that role.

    “I fully intend on running for the seat of South Brisbane and ensuring strong, progressive leadership for our community.”

Problem is Trad has had a few other incidents and accidents. The LNP are trying to extend their smear of her reputation.

Jarrod Bleijie from Kawana on the Sunshine Coast is a very strange person, and is what passes for a Liberal within the LNP. He was the one when in government with Campbell Newman who decided that people riding bikes in company were by definition ‘bikies’ and as such should be locked up, where they were dressed in pink overalls to make sure that if they didn’t hate the system already, they would then.

Compare and contrast what Liberals and Nationals at Federal level can do and retain their positions.

Campbell Newman was shaping to sell off the real estate that the Labor government was later to use for multi-story inner-city schools.

3. Has Covid 19 made a prime minister of Scott Morrison?

Scott Morrison has been rewarded in political perception for his handling of the coronavirus issue in Australia.

Newspoll found Morrison with a net satisfaction rate of -22 in January. By late April he was +40, while Albanese has languished at +10.

For all of January and February Albanese was ahead of Morrison as preferred PM. On April 26 Morrison was ahead 56 to 28.

I can’t give a pass mark to anyone who thought that 2.1 million people in Australia are not worth feeding when he did his economic rescue package.

Australia’s story in combatting the virus is contained in this graph (from the ABC):

If we compare ourselves to Taiwan, we see a similar shaped graph:

The arrow points to Friday March 13.

(See also WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM TAIWAN COV19.)

The difference is in the y-axis. We have had about 10 times more cases than Taiwan, with a similar population, and they kept the place open.

The Taiwanese began to act on January 1. We waited until China officially announced human to human transmission on January 20. Here:

    The Communicable Disease Network requested a coordinated national health response on 20 January, and Australia’s chief medical officer, Brendan Murphy, convened a meeting of his state counterparts to discuss developments.

Here we did little but talk for nearly two months. See Katharine Murphy – The two meetings that changed the trajectory of Australia’s coronavirus response.

While Queensland declared a public health emergency on 29 January, at a national level we quarantined people coming back from Wuhan at Christmas Island, then took our eye off the ball with infected people returning from places like Iran, Europe and the United States, being thoroughly distracts by sports rorts.

By February 28 Murphy reports that at a meeting of health officials only Queensland and New South Wales had a sharp grasp of what was coming. Although there already were serious outbreaks in South Korea, Japan, Italy, and Iran, Morrison was still telling us we could carry on with normal life.

About two weeks later Daniel Andrews had gotten the message. At a health officers meeting Queensland was calling for what is now called ‘social distancing. On Thursday night as the state leaders prepared for COAG on Friday 13, the world was in chaos:

    By the time the leaders woke the next day and made their way out to Parramatta stadium, which was the venue for the Coag talks, the world had reached 130,000 Covid-19 cases, and more than 4,700 deaths had been recorded. The Italian health system had been overwhelmed. There were more than 1,000 fatalities.

    Overnight, there was a wipeout on global financial markets. London and Wall Street had recorded their worst trading days since Black Monday in 1987. Donald Trump slapped a travel ban on Europe. When the Australian markets opened, the ASX plunged 7%. The Reserve Bank pumped more than $8bn into short term bank funding. Flight Centre closed 100 stores. The Grand Prix fell over, which triggered a cascade of event cancellations over the course of the day.

I’ve marked that day on the graph above. That was when social distancing and footy without crowds was instituted. However, Morrison was a reluctant starter and has ever since been resistant to the next move, all the while keeping up a comforting patter about our worlds returning to ‘normal’.

Morrison is aware that there is a health issue, and there is an economic issue, and that the two are interrelated. Peter Martin and Gigi took an interesting look at how the world we live and work in will change. In two months at home our brains have changed to new patterns of behaviour. Some of these will persist, such as working from home, staggered working hours, not gathering for beer and /or coffee at every possible opportunity.

We will have vastly less discretionary spending, but at the same time we could have more government spending, as Ross Garnaut says, when the cost of borrowing money is, to government, less than inflation.

In general, the change could be as dramatic as emerging from WW2. Creative destruction will be at work, and could have worked more positively if we had not tied workers’ emergency support to companies that may never trade again.

We are getting no vision from Morrison and crew. Frydenberg has put the cue in the rack, resting his laurels on what has already been done.

After WW2 we had marginal tax rates for the rich up to 90% and built a society in the ‘West’ where not only the basics were catered for. Common folks could pay for food and shelter, have a car in every garage, access health and education services, have paid sick and holiday leave. That won’t happen this time with the neoliberals in charge.

Essential Report (see pdf here) braodly has a story similar to Newspoll, but not so strong..

I think Morrison is balking at the last hurdle on health, thus foregoing the chance to eliminate the virus, giving in to industry pressure. His vision is to concentrate on agriculture and mining to restore or economic fortunes. So he has selected Neville Power AO to head the National COVID-19 Coordination Commission, basically, I understand, a miner (worked for Twiggy) who sees gas as the future, and has no focus on renewables or greenhouse emissions.

65 thoughts on “Weekly salon 3/5”

  1. Palaszczuk has extended the distance for recreational travel to 150km. Sounds good if you live in the big city but 150 km won’t let lots of coal miners living in central Qld get to the coast. (Has Palaszczuk lived anywhere other than SE Qld?)
    “and the Greens to win over (seduce?) the inner city elites by offering hope and happiness.” Keep in mind that Micheal Berkman beat a Liberal incumbent. As for the inner city the safe inner city working class suburbs have changed to logical Greens seats. Labor has also allowed the LNP and One Nation to woo the hard core working class.
    Labor has become a Center party. Center parties have not done well in Australia.

  2. Yes John

    Several inner-Melbourne seats are vulnerable to Green wins over Labor. Mr Bandt won a Federal seat. Other strong candidates have come close. Wins seem to occur in Taswegia and inner suburbs of large capitals.

    Though the Eastern Bloc in NSW Greens seem to fail. In Bertolt Brecht’s words, their Central Committee “will have to elect a new People”.

    [BTW, Brian: my impression was that Mr Shorten messed up his chances in Qld by equivocating on Adani, while Premier Anastasia kept saying the project had passed every Qld govt requirement. Is her govt really seen as anti-coal-mining-jobs? (Or would that be Ms Trad’s faction’s attitude?) Is the Premier, then, riding a Party tiger she can’t influence?]

    Not sure why isolation-opprobrium would fall on your Premier’s head rather than Mr Morrison’s, Brian.

    I suspect there must be other factors in Qld.
    For instance, hasn’t this Trad alleged corruption matter been bubbling along for months?

    For Mr Andrews, his ALP govt won a dramatically larger majority at our last State election (against a mediocre almost invisible Opposition). He’s still riding high.

  3. Ambi: Keep in mind that the Greens are the only truly conservative party in Australia. For this reason it often does well in conservative places. For example, the Greens have done well in NE NSW areas that used to be National Party areas.
    In Qld, the only Greens state MP holds a seat in green and leafy suburb heartland. (In part the Greens do well in this type of suburb because most of the population likes living there because it is green and leafy.)
    The Greens are also more likely to win if they come second in the initial count. This is because most Labor voters will preference the Greens ahead of the conservatives while conservative voters are more likely to preference the Greens ahead Labor. I think of the Greens as being the party of the educated middle class in the same way as the Democrats were.

  4. …. while conservative voters…..
    (Not sure about your last sentence, John).

    BTW there are many “green and leafy” seats in Melb. The inner city ones tend to be trendy, gritty, converted-warehouse, demolished factory style with many cafes rather than “green and leafy” in the sense of

    Quiet streets
    Well-off residents
    Well-tended (if not ostentatious) gardens
    Old street trees giving ample shade.

    The inner-city suburbs are more:
    Concrete and asphalt
    Rattling trams
    Converging heavy traffic and gridlock
    Trucks on arterial roads.

    The green tends to be in large public parks, Botanic Gardens and the treed lawns (occasional car park) around the MCG.

    Just saying.

  5. Ambi: Problem fixed.
    I see green and leafy as well off suburbs with yards that have numerous trees. Mt Waverly in Melbourne would fit that bill.

    • Has Palaszczuk lived anywhere other than SE Qld?

    No, but I don’t think it shows. two in the northern branch of my family are working the mines, and have no trouble getting to work.

      Keep in mind that Micheal Berkman beat a Liberal incumbent.

    I’ll never forget it. If around 90 voters had switched from Berkman to Ali France then she would have beaten the Liberal incumbent and become a star of the Labor Party.

    Ali France moved north and was supposed to become the Dutton slayer. Profile here.

    Many of the middle-class elites of the inner suburbs won’t vote Labor mainly because of the unions and coal.


    • Ambi, the Trad alleged corruption matter has been bubbling along for months because the LNP keep banging on about it and have referred it to the CCC three times.

      The ABC were saying tonight that the mere referral is a political tragedy for Palaszczuk.

      Speaking of whom, she is nominally Labor right, but says she doesn’t care about factional goings on. I think she is capable of cutting anyone off at the knees.

      The speculation is now that she might dump Trad and do a reshuffle. Health Minister Steven Miles is next senior in Labor Left.

      Miles came to parliament in the seat now occupied by Berkman. Probably scarpered to north of Brisbane, where he grew up and didn’t have to fight messy battles with the Greens.

      Trad’s previous was more serious. Her story is that her husband bought a house through the family trust in the pathway just before the inner city rail project was announced. Her excuse that she was too busy being treasurer and didn’t know was very possibly true, and that’s why she didn’t enter it on her assets register.

      Definitely does not pass the pub test.

      CCC found she had committed no crime, but recommended the law be changed so that next time it would.

      Probably should have resigned then.

      Trad was against Adani, but not game to say so. Palaszczuk, I think was for it, but said it was up to the independent umpire.

      The short answer is that Labor sat on the fence on Adani, Bob Brown blew into town with a big parade. Provincial Queenslanders are particularly allergic to southerners telling them how they should live their lives and what they should do, plus I think climate deniers are thick on the ground in the provinces here.

      One Nation and Katter will do well, but who they preference second is the issue. Once rusted on Labor workers are increasingly seeing labor as not their friend and the source of all their woes.

      In fact, like the old, they vote against their own best interests.

    • Wayne Swan has a piece Already in this crisis we are slipping into over-optimism about the economy and over-pessimism about debt.

      I don’t think he’s right about causation in past happenings. Eg, 1929 did not simply cause 1939.

      However, he is right in thinking that the economic implications are being underestimated, and that Morrison and Frydenberg are not up to the task. This is scary:

        The Grattan Institute estimates between 14% and 26% of the Australian workforce – 1.9 million to 3.4 million people – will be out of work by year’s end.

      In the US unemployment is already in the low 20s and probably will go higher.

    • Thanks, Brian.

      How does Steven Miles stack up?
      In the current challenge, has he been doing well, or is he merely “asymptomatic”?

      Thanks John, yes Mount Waverley and Glen Waverley are leafy. Much closer to the CBD, Hawthorn is more wealthy and to the surprise if all, some very well-off suburban seats swung strongly towards Labor at the last State election.

      An Opposition was dumped. No-one saw it coming. A young, inexperienced lad stood as the token ALP candidate and <almost won Brighton if memory serves.

      A few decades ago, Brighton came second only to Toorak as Melbourne’s version of posh. The wealthy, in considerable numbers, admired Dan Andrews, Premier from the “Socialist Left”.

      Victorian politics turned upside down. Ours was a State with strong DLP, home of BAS, home of Western District graziers and old money retailers. Why, once we housed the Federal Parliament.

      Harrumph!!!

      They called Victoria “the jewel in the Liberal crown”.
      {that confounded Gough Whitkam upstart began the rot that chipped away at that old cliche.}

    • Brian I am hoping that Australia will see that that we need to reconstitute our manufacturing industries in order to create jobs. Just as NZ has done and South Africa did back in the apartheid days.
      I see little benefit by simply re-opening “buy from China” and retailing it here – that will further undermine our resilience and make us further vulnerable to inevitable economic events.
      It really is time to get a bit creative about how we deal with our economy.

    • Brian: “Many of the middle-class elites of the inner suburbs won’t vote Labor mainly because of the unions and coal.” I am talking about electorates like Moggill. CMFEU type unions are a real put off but the Greens did well in Moggill last time with a union rep as candidate. People who care about coal would tend not to vote LNP or Labor.

    • GH: “I am hoping that Australia will see that that we need to reconstitute our manufacturing industries.” It is partly about steady, well paid jobs, partly about making Aus less vulnerable to problems in major supply countries and partly about having generalized manufacturing skills that would help us switch quickly if a major supplier stumbles.
      The combination of free trade and a floating currency favours larger countries that can keep their manufacturers going when there is a spike in the currency that causes a temporary loss in competitiveness.
      I am in favour of controlling imports using some form of import licence. The combination of tariffs and floating currencies is toxic for small countries.

    • Ambi, Steven Miles was environment minister in the first Palaszczuk government, performed well, and has performed very well indeed in his current health portfolio. On Covid he has been very clear and rational.

      He’s a likeable bloke and is now actual Deputy Premier, not just filling in, and would be my pick for leader if Labor loses the election and Palaszczuk resigns, which most think she would.

      I suspect Palaszczuk has cut Trad loose. The previous treasurer, Curtis Pitt, had been a bit problematic. Found himself in the speaker’s chair, and we haven’t heard from him since.

      The transformation of Victorian politics is one of the brightest spots on the Australian political canvas.

      Here city folk who would normally vote Liberal sometimes vote Labor because they are quite averse to the state being run by farmers, graziers and other provincials.

      LNP leader Deb Frecklington is a bushie, masquerading as a lawyer and business person. Tim Mander is a rugby league referee and fundamentalist Christian masquerading as a Liberal. He’s not the genuine article as a politician, representing the needs and aspirations of the people. I would hope people see that.

      So Paluszczuk is going to give it her best shot by shuffling the ministerial deck a bit. With a fixed term election due in October there is some chance Labor will surprise and get a third term.

      There had been stories that her team had mentally conceded the election and were concentrating on who would pick up the spoils in opposition, so I think she may be refoccussing them on their real job.

    • John D, Moggill State school is 23 km from the GPO. I wouldn’t have described it as ‘inner suburbs”. It’s not far from Ipswich but for the river.

      Geoff, There has actually been a lot of work done by Labor in promoting manufacturing, including in the regions.

      It goes back to Beattie’s ‘Smart state’ initiative where the emphasis was on biomedical. It’s not happenstance that QU is working on a Covid-19 vaccine.

      A few months ago in the annual ‘State of the states’ report manufacturing jobs increased in Qld, ahead of the other states. Qld now boasts the best vehicle mf cluster in the country between Brisbane and Ipswich. If you google ‘Qld chief entrepreneur’ and ‘Advance Queensland’ you would probably turn up some stuff.

      Regional hubs and support networks have been set up.

      TAFE was rescued by Labor from complete destruction which Campbell Newman had set in train.

      Expect all those initiatives to be stripped out if LNP wins, plus retail competition in electricity in the country, when you are getting subsidised prices now, new coal fired power, fracking in the Channel country, a repeal of vegetation management legislation, so open slather on tree clearing, cutbacks on support for the arts and a swag of social needs programs, privatisation of everything.

      We have a lot to look forward to!

    • BTW one of the influences (though not dominant) in inner Melbourne would be Uni students and staff (Australian ones I mean) from Melb Uni or RMIT Uni or Vic College of the Arts or Victioria Uni at Footacray, (or even LaTrobe out at Bundoora but choose to live closer to the CBD and commute by tram).

      This group a little Greener and Lefter than the average voters.

      Is Moggill near a Uni??

    • Brian

      One of the emphases and wreas of achievement with the Andrews Govt has been public transport infrastructure and disentangling roads from railway crossings.

      Railway crossing collisions cause death, injury and delay. Crossings delay road traffic. On a long railway line, the tracks have been moved upwards to fly over major roads where there were bottleneck crossings (and they closed for trains more often at rail peak hours which are also tiad peak hours). This would encompass seversl State electorates and many if the road users would be from further afield, but mostly metropolitan.

      Gladys asked Dan, “Why did you win so strongly?”

      Dan, “We get things done.”

    • Ambi: “Is Moggill near a Uni??” Despite what Brian says the Moggill boundary is only a bike ride from the city (11 km)and a short ride from Qld Uni. The boondocks up the river are a bit rural with numerous hobby farms but the city end is hard core educated middle class. It borders Maiwa, the only Greens state seat. Moggill greens normally get something between 20 and 30% of the vote. In the local gov elections the Greens beat Labor. The current Green candidate is/was a union rep whose policies tend to support social justice for the workers more strongly than Labors.

    • Ambi, I think John is talking about the edge of the electorate “Moggill”. I was talking about the geographic place, which John described as “the boondocks up the river [which] are a bit rural with numerous hobby farms”. The city end of the electorate he said “is hard core educated middle class.”

      It’s good that the Greens are putting up people concerned with social justice, but I suspect the ‘workers’ live somewhere else. It depends a bit on how you define ‘working class’ these days, which is not as straightfoward as it used to be. When I was in education a long time ago Kenmore High School had about 1000 students, some of whom were double income worker families (to afford the real estate). Now the school runs special programs with a maximum student enrolment capacity of 2,231 students. This could compete in quality for students with private schools, and the LNP would likely privatise the joint.

      Geographically I assume the edge of the Moggill electorate is between Kenmore and Chapel Hill towards the city. From there to get to Moggill the place you go through Kenmore, Brookfield, Pinjarra Hills and Bellbowrie.

      The map tells me there is a campus of the University of Queensland at Pinjarra Hills, but I know nothing about it.

    • Apologies gentlemen, I meant the electorate called Moggill rather than the suburb of that name.

      Brian, I think perhaps John was indicating that a small proportion of the electors in Moggill (electorate) are in “boondocks”…. if it includes small hobby farms, I asdume the population density is lower than in leafy suburban streets elsewhere in the electorate?

    • Ambi, I like “We get things done.”

      That was what Joh said. And it was easy with no upper house.

      Did I say that Steven Miles is definitely Deputy Premier. Cameron Dick is treasurer, and fancies himself as next in line if Palaszczuk goes.

      He wears a suit and I’m told that if you peel it off there is a person inside.

      Apparently it is unlikely that Miles from the Left would ever get the gig. Dick is Right and I’m told the Kate Jones of the ‘Old Guard’ is a possibility.

      I do wish they’d stop those party games.

      If Labor loses the next election it will be a long road back.

    • John, and Brian, I agree we need jobs, permanent jobs that are resilient to outside events. That needs a creative approach that puts bureaucratic shite and thinking to one side and looks at what we need to do to make solid change. And we need to give that flower sufficient time to bloom, not just until the next election. So I look for a policy that is articulated by a government that makes a clear policy of re-building our economy from a shop-keeper to a a manufacturing one. I’m not thinking isolationist, nor unreal tariffs, but policy that so encourages local enterprise that importing everything withers. It can’t be so hard. I bought something the other day that turned out was imported from South Africa made from fruit produced in Turkey or where ever! I can’t accept that we are so noncompetitive, but if we are, there should be a fix glaring us in the face.
      Not much mentioned, is the fail of USA primacy. Trump has shown that he has power and wields it without thought or talent. He is getting worse as a president, and it is possible he will be re-elected. So do we trust him? I don’t think so, at least not without terms and conditions that we should not accept. If we eschew the US, where do we go> Obvious is China, but there would be resistance there too.
      That brings us to the need for an independence enabled by our own industry and nationalistic drive. It really is time to start that, whatever damn government is in power.

    • OK, I understand (approximately) “Left” and “Right”.

      What, pray tell, is “Old Guard”?
      Does it take us back to The Legend of Breakfast Creek?
      (I recall only the name.)

    • GH, the only way Australian manufacturing will grow in Australia is if Australian consumers prefer it over imports.
      And that means paying more= inflation.

      Some do, most don’t. If most do the RBA will raise interest rates to curb inflation.

      Was there an Australian option of the thing you bought?
      If so then one of the problems is you.

    • Jumpy you are right, I am a problem because I all too easily went for the easy, cheaper way, and I knew better.
      ‘Doesn’t mean we can’t change and fix it huh? And if it costs more, so be it. Don’t be defeatist by blaming inflation or the RBA.
      I am in favour of a revision of our manufacturing policy, one that re-enables Oz to make a lot more of our needs than we now do.
      If you are, don’t get in the way of it by surrendering to the RBA or inflation. Actually, inflation is not all bad – it allows real wages growth, something we no longer see in Oz.
      Then people can buy Australian made even if it costs more.

      And you might concede Jumpy, the possibility of another virus emerging in the future. Probably a good thing if we are more capable of dealing with it.

    • Jumpy: When I left school I spent quite a bit of time working out what i wanted to do on (the correct) assumption that I would be able to get what I wanted and be offered a traineeship before I left school. Didn’t know anyone who didn’t get a job when I left school.
      Yep, protection was often got as a result of political interference and sometimes it was very high (300% for water bottles!) and protection came in the form tariffs. Ultimately people like you whose jobs are not threatened by imports successfully campaigned for free trade. A lot of Australians would be better off if we still had protection.

      • What, pray tell, is “Old Guard”?

        Does it take us back to The Legend of Breakfast Creek?

      Not Breakfast Creek, Ambi. I think the Breakfast Creek Hotel may have figured in the corruption stories of the police at the time.

      I didn’t know either, so I asked Mark.

      He said it refers to the people who used to run the ALP in Qld after the QLP split and before Dennis Murphy and a young party secretary called Peter Beattie put the cleaners through the joint in the federal intervention of 1978-79.

      Names like Nev Wharburton, Jack Egerton, Clem Jones and Tom Burns who nevertheless retained their esteem.

      Seems no-one can work out whether they are left, right or centre.

    • Jumpy’s take on trade is simplistic. We need to manufacture strategic goods here like protective clothing, masks, sanitizer etc.

      China was not the only country that made their own people the priority.

      Other than that we need to think of high value goods, automation and use a bit of creativity. Also value adding in particular ways.

      CSL showed how a government owned monopoly (Commonwealth Serum Laboratories) could be turned into a global business.

      I think it’s case by case, but we need to think in terms of natural advantages, keystone industries and industry clusters.

    • Thanks Brian

      So the Old Guard held the fort from about 1955 to 1979?

      It’s interesting how the Labor Split if the mid-1950s had different results in each State and Federally.

      I remember Egerton and Burns particularly. In Alan Reid’s old book “The Whitlam Venture” (1976) Jack Egerton is one of the more down to earth Labor heavyweights. Reid portrays him as a counterweight to some Federal Labor strangeness.

    • Brian:The China barley blockade is much the same as US sanctions against Iran except that China, so far, hasn’t been pressuring others to join its barley blockade.
      The messages to other countries who take note of what China has done include:
      1. China is willing to use its economic muscle against those who are silly enough to trade with them.
      2. China is trying to cover up a stuff up.
      3. Perhaps some of the accusations being made by the yanks are right.
      None of the above means that Morrison’s ham fisted approach to the issue was sensible. What he did will make it harder for something sensible to be done.

    • That’s about right, I think, Ambi. Tom Burns was the only prominent Labor person I recall my country rellies speaking favourably about.

      John, thanks for the electoral map. We are just outside Maiwar at the other end. For some reason we change electorates quite a lot at the three levels as they shape them anew every redistribution.

      Berkman in Maiwar has the Mt Coot-tha area and a lot of animals to look after.

      Moggill, the electorate, grades from normal house blocks at the Chapel Hill/Kenmore end to larger holdings further out. I’m more familiar with the Upper Brookfield area, which is the next creek north, but there most of the farms have been subdivided into 5-acre and 10-acre lots, with 2.5 acre lots further in. I suspect this has happened out towards Moggill too.

      A significant factor in developing Kenmore/Chapel Hill is that the developers left some of the original trees, so they were always leafy.

    • John, I would colour your three points a different shade.

      I think mainly there are people within China who are quite angry with other people within China. They want to sort this out themselves without the gratuitous lectures from the Americans, who are mostly on this one ignorant and wrong.

      However, Morrison’s effort has made any investigation less likely to succeed as well as creating problems for us.

      The main issue with the virus is not how it started, but how to deal with it, and how to prepare for the next one. We’ve been catching diseases from animals ever since we started domesticating them about 10,000 years ago.

    • Just a pedantic note. Whenever I hear “the virus jumped from animals to humans” I want to point out that humans are animals.
      The Covid-19 virus actually spread from one species to another (as did HIV, the Hendra virus, bird flu etc etc etc).

      As you were.

    • Thanks Brian.

      So Qld Labor was “cleaned out” in 1979.
      Presumably this removed “dead wood” = folk holding positions due to patronage rather than talent.

      And yet part of an old fiefdom apparently continues in State Labor. … about 8 seats on the Govt side held by “Old Guard” MPs?

      The senior ranks of political parties sometimes resemble Royal Courts: patronage, factions, shifting alliances, dalliances, Earls and Dukes contending; though the Party calls itself Republican.

      We see it here: the Downing dynasty in SA, the Cains in Vic, Katters in Hat Land; Bill Shorten marries Ms Beale, then Ms GG; Bob Hawke from a political clan. And that’s just a taste of the families.

      Nothing to rival Joe Kennedy’s descendants, or those of Kim Il Sung the Great Liberator.*

      We are but amateurs, punching well below our weight.

      * the best of both worlds: a dynasty in a democratic people’s republic!!!

    • Another pedantic note.

      These days, if a human animal enquires of your health; instead of replying that you are “well” or “fine ” it is permissible under Aus Regs 2020/437 (c), (d) to offer the response:

      I am asymptomatic. Thank you for asking.

      providing only that you do not wheeze, cough, splutter or expectorate during the eight seconds before, during and after your [allowable] utterance [see above].

      All police officers please note.

    • Thanks, zoot. In this case it was mammal to mammal to mammal.

      Pretty straight forward, really. No need to invent more difficult routes which are inherently unlikely, and certainly not 5G as some conspiracy nutters in Melbourne asserted yesterday.

      Ambi, perhaps ‘cleaned up’ rather than ‘cleaned out’.

      I remember it happening, but don’t remember much detail. At the time I was working flat chat which involved a lot of travel including meetings in Melbourne once a month, had just become divorced, was looking after my aged mum, and studying part time.

      Life is a lot simpler now, even with the virus.

    • Those nutters were a strange bunch indeed, Brian.

      Apparently in the UK, nutters who are more militant have been sabotaging 5G towers.

      Could someone please take them aside and slowly, carefully explain the error of the logical Fallacy

      post hoc, propter hoc ??

      {“Since Y happened after X, Y must have been caused by X”}

    • Brian: Upper Brookfield is usually the Greens best performing booth. The boss lady often helped to woman it. Pullenvale with its hobby farms is where the Liberal royalty comes from as well as some leading greens.

    • John, I’ve worked in the Upper Brookfield area since 1992. Mainly 10 acre blocks, although I worked on one that was 50 acres. I don’t really know the people beyond the ones I worked for. The area is mainly bush, with a helluva lot of weeds. By definition people need to be doctors, lawyers, academics, business owners and such. Allergic to unions for sure, and wouldn’t be there if they weren’t green-oriented.

      The ones I met seem to be rusted on in their political views, but not very interested or knowledgeable.

      Ambi, nutters everywhere including Germany, but there it seems to be about individual rights rather than brainless stuff about Bill Gates and 5G.

    • Brian: The conversation had this to say about the barley crisis: “This morning Weihuan Zhou reminds us that China’s so-called anti-dumping investigation into Australian barley has been going on for 18 months. He wrote about it in The Conversation when it began in late 2018.
      If anything, it is payback for the extraordinary number of anti-dumping actions Australia has launched against China, in which it has accused it of dumping underpriced products including steel in the Australian market in order to harm Australian producers.
      Australia has launched more anti-dumping actions against China than it has against any other country, and far more than China has launched in return. Barley turns out to be a particularly useful way to hit back.” Conversation introduction, 12 May 2020.

    • Yes, John, I saw that article on my phone, I think. It’s probably US-China relations were already heated. Then coronavirus threw fuel on the flames.

      There was a similar front page article in the AFR today. China are said to be especially angry about our anti-dumping action on aluminum and steel.

      From what I know about trade, I’d say that most of the anti-dumping actions taken by Australia would be justified.

      However, mostly the rest of the world does not play fair on trade.

      Some expert on trade said that the China barley one is the least justified he can recall. The Chinese are even arguing the the Murray-Darling scheme is a subsidy to barley growers, when barley is not an irrigated crop.

      Now China has banned beef imports from four abattoirs ostensibly over labelling and health certification issues.

      Again there was a history, but this did not have to happen now, and wouldn’t if Australia was seen as not hostile.

    • Thanks, zoot.

      John, culture definitely makes a difference.

      For example, in Thailand 11 million people were thrown out of work. They don’t have a social security system of any note.

      People in Bangkok were taking meals to other people who couldn’t afford food, including prostitutes who came from provincial areas and had no family support.

      So far they are doing better than we are with three times the population, if the stats can be believed, which on face value I’m told a likely to be somewhere near the mark.

    • If the Chinese Communist party want a deeply anti Chinese sentiment in Australia then they could probably target rural, firearm owning , conservative voting primary producers.

    • Jumpy: “If the Chinese Communist party want a deeply anti Chinese sentiment in Australia…” I suspect they do. Anti Chinese sentiment in Australia will make Australian Chinese feel like outsiders and therefore be more likely to support Chinese rather than Australian interests.
      The bite in the current issue has been made worse by the clumsy way Morrison said what he thought as well as the clumsy way the Chinese Ambassador made threats.

    • On anti-dumping, the AFR article had this graph of Anti-dumping cases:

      I was surprised by which countries were involved. Not sure of the time period.

      However, the graph was attributed to ‘Anti-dumping Commission.

      It turns out that we have an Anti-dumping Commission which:

        helps Australian industry by managing Australia’s anti-dumping and countervailing system. We investigate claims that dumped and subsidised imports have injured Australian industry.

      The Commissioner is an independent statutory officer reporting to the minister. It seems to methodically monitor prices and take action when deemed appropriate, but I’m not sure how that all works.

      The AFR editorialised Let’s have free trade all-round and dump the hypocrisy.

      It points out that the OECD in monitoring these things found that we:

        were one of the least subsidised and most efficient agricultural sectors in the world. In contrast, Chinese agriculture is among the most subsidised at three times the OECD average.

      However, the Productivity Commission has asserted:

        “there are no convincing justifications for these [anti-dumping] measures, and they reduce the well-being of the Australian community.”

      The problem with the Anti-dumping Commission seems to be that it was invented by the Labor government. The tories would have just let everything rip.

      Now, according to the AFR:

        The uptick in Australian anti-dumping action has been prompted by the global financial crisis of a decade ago and the glut in the global steel market. It has also been driven by changes to Australia’s anti-dumping regime, new methodology used to calculate dumping and regulatory capture by an assortment of rent-seeking companies, industry bodies, and unions.

        During the Rudd-Gillard government, anti-dumping measures became a version of the industry policy approach to supporting Australian manufacturing long favoured in the left of the Labor movement. The result is a proactive Anti-Dumping Commission whose major self-proclaimed KPI is that Australia now has 81 protectionist measures in force against 22 countries and 27 types of imports. Two-thirds of the measures are aimed at steel and aluminium imports. While the biggest explicit target is China, the cost also falls on Australian manufacturers that use steel and aluminium.

      So I don’t know what to make of all that, but I have little faith in the Productivity Commission.

    • Brian: “The AFR editorialised Let’s have free trade all-round and dump the hypocrisy.” Typical hypocrisy from a business and its employees who are not threatened by overseas competition. If anything free markets are good for these sorts of people because they don’t threaten their employment or wages while driving down the cost of the imported goods and services they use.
      At the other extreme are people in industries that do compete with foreign imports. Particularly so if the cost of transport for the product is not significant or actually less than internal transport costs. Free market driven lower costs for the things you use are not much help if you lose the job you need to pay for it.

    • Any complaints ( other than GW related) to dumping of fuel?

      Foreign governments subsidising our purchases isn’t a bad thing in and of itself.
      Farmers are dynamic enough to grow different crops if they can’t find alternative markets. When there’s a big shortage, change back and reap the higher price.

      Notice it’s government interference causing the problem, not the free market.
      Governments not corporations.

      The worst outcomes happen when governments own the corporations.

      A bitter pill for socialists to swallow but it’s a economic reality.

    • Jumpy: The farmers and their political party are the only real socialists left in Aus. As long as its the sort of socialism that subsidizes farming it is OK.

    • Jumpy, I think you’ll find that farmers in WA have just planted barley and the seeds have just sprouted. Of course they diversify, but you can’t be all that nimble.

      There is a limit to how much China will do, as it hurts their consumers and businesses, and makes other countries want to diversify their trade. China is smart enough to know that.

      However, the Coalition has the problem that their trade and foreign relations are being run by the rabid back bench.

      Jumpy, re corporations vs government have a listen to ‘Trade war’ or a technicality? China beef bans add to rising tensions.

      The Chinese are complaining about a labelling and certification issue that has taken the Australian Meat Industry Council and the abattoirs forever to fix. I shouldn’t be that hard.

      Then do a bit of research on the role of the East India Company from the late 16th century onwards, and you’ll see what capitalism raw and unregulated can do. Millions got killed and India’s economy devastated for short term profit.

    • Pretty much the ungarnished truth, John.

      Tomorrow ABC Four Corners is going to do Climate Wars, finding, as per usual, that both sides of politics have been equally at fault.

      It’s like what Julia Gillard did with the Greens and indies never existed.

      Same is true so far for first three parts of Richard Aedy’s Hot Mess. Uses the ‘both sides’ meme and simply leaves Gillard out.

      Don’t know whether I’ll watch Four Corners. I’m a bit over it.

    • You never know where the next challenge to fossil fuels might come from….

      Australian fossil fuel producers could be facing further financing challenges after the biggest bank in the United States was hit with a major protest vote by shareholders on climate change.

      JP Morgan Chase – a significant lender to local resources giants including BHP and Origin Energy – narrowly avoided a push by activist shareholders this week demanding it fully disclose the carbon emissions of companies it loans money to.

      —- from Nine Newspapers, late on 20th May

    • A small glimpse of the leading State (Vic) and its recent dealings with the PRC:

      Victoria became the only Australian jurisdiction to join the BRI when it signed an MOU in 2018, breaking ranks with Canberra, which sees the scheme as a vehicle for Chinese regional and global ­expansion.

      The four-page MOU said Victoria­ would work with China to promote the “connectivity” of policy, infrastructure, trade, finance and people­, while acknowledging the state was “welcoming and supportin­g” of the BRI and would promote “the Silk Road spirit”.

      An influential Melbourne-based organisation, the Australia-China Belt & Road Initiative, was involved in persuading Mr ­Andrews to ink the deal.

      The ACBRI has hired former federal Liberal minister Andrew Robb and federal Labor minister Lindsay Tanner to help sell its message. Its founder and chief executive is former Chinese journalist Jean Dong Its website says: “This organisation will engage pioneering business leaders from China and Australia with a purpose of articulating the ­relevance of the Belt & Road strategy to Australian industries and identifying practical opportunities for expanded trade and investment.”

      Before defying federal government security advice and signing up to the BRI, Mr Andrews spoke at an event involving the ACBRI.

      According to the organisation’s website, the Premier spoke enthusiastically about closer business ties between China and Victoria, saying: “There’s an energy in Victoria-China relations that’s not been there in the past, there’s a real sense of the opportunities of this relationship — a complex, multilayered relationship, one based not just on trans­actions, but one about trust … a true partnership.

      – “The Australian” online

    • Last night, apart from thinking about China, I watched Four Corners on cruise ships and the Ruby Princess.

      Not a lot new there, but there was the usual blame-shifting from the passengers themselves, who, I’m sorry, made very poor decisions in going on a trip starting on 8 March.

      Also, there was no consideration of what would have happened if the ship had been denied entry. The virus would have raged through the ship and a large proportion of passengers would have caught the virus. Many, many more would have died.

      The ship management knew they had a problem, but the statement made by the company representative towards the end that they had conformed with the letter of the regulations appears to be true.

      Interesting to see what the law makes of it all.

      Then I heard the latest episode of ABC RN’s hot chips. The last two episodes are well worth a listen.

      The government is talking up gas as key to economic recovery. Others have been talking of manufacturing and hydrogen.

      Richard Aedy told of mind-boggling hydrogen developments being developed, including a wind/solar one in the pilbara which will become the biggest power station in the world, bigger than the Chinese Three Dams facility, currently the biggest.

      ScoMo is going to talk about skills today, something that Albo highlighted in one of his early headland speeches.

      Now, due to the biggest budget cock-up ever, ScoMo has loads of money to spend without the usual question, Where will all the money come from?

    • Double shifts at the mint apparently, just print it.

      Struth, if that worked we wouldn’t need taxation at all for government expenditures !

    • The PM and Treasurer have both stated that the “extra tens of billions of AUD” simply does not exist.

      It was projected (foreseen) spending.
      It is no longer foreseen.

    • Jumpy: “Double shifts at the mint apparently, just print it.
      Struth, if that worked we wouldn’t need taxation at all for government expenditures !”
      Zimbabwe and the Wiemar are text book examples of what happens if printing covers all gov expenditure. Inflation goes through the roof.
      On the other hand limited printing can be OK. The trick is to watch what is happening to inflation and scale back if it is getting too high.

    • Donald Trump accuses Twitter of ‘stifling free speech’ with fact-check warning, says platform is interfering in US election: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-27/donald-trump-accuses-twitter-of-interfering-in-us-2020-election/12290140 “US President Donald Trump has accused Twitter of “completely stifling free speech” after the social media company flagged some of his tweets with a fact-check warning.
      In a series of tweets, the President had claimed mail-in or postal vote ballots were substantially “fraudulent” and predicted “mail boxes will be robbed”, resulting in a rigged election.”
      Trump would truly hate the ABC’s “Fact Checks.” and would declare Australia’s postal voting system a crime because it isn’t demonstrating that what he claims is true.

    • That’s puzzling, John.

      I had thought the AEC had several methods for cross-checking which are designed to detect any fraud and certainly pick up discrepancies.

      For instance a voter’s name is marked off with a pen. If said voter voted at a second polling place, that would (eventually) be detected. If someone has already voted in my name, I’ll make a fuss at the polling place and expect it to be followed up. Scrutineers watch the counting with close attention.

      I’m assuming postal votes are cross-checked.

      I recall in union ballots, each voter had to sign and date an outer envelope. Presumably signatures can be checked if there were a dispute?

      At this stage my guess would be that the last thing the Donald wants in November is a HIGH voter turnout.

    • Yes, zoot.
      That’s exactly what our American brethren call it.

      Care to hazard a guess why they see the need for a six-syllable euphemism?

      (Could it be that Weimar looms in the public imagination? Gucci makes very expensive handbags. Would they venture into high class wheelbarrows? )

    • President Trump wouldn’t recognise freedom of speech if it jumped up and bit him on the arse.

      (apologies to Frank Zappa who I believe first used this literary construction)

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