Weekly salon 17/10

1. How did Malcolm Fraser lose his trousers?

With all the terrible stuff going on in the world, I thought I’d try to investigate an important part of our history.

How did Malcolm Fraser lose his trousers in a seedy hotel in Memphis on 14 October 1986?

Wikipedia tells us:

    On 14 October 1986, Fraser, then the Chairman of the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group, was found in the foyer of the Admiral Benbow Inn, a seedy Memphis hotel, wearing only a pair of underpants and confused as to where his trousers were. The hotel was an establishment popular with prostitutes and drug dealers. Though it was rumoured at the time that the former Prime Minister had been with a prostitute, his wife stated that Fraser had no recollection of the events and that she believes it more likely that he was the victim of a practical joke by his fellow delegates.

The Daily Telegraph tells the story more vividly:

    Asked about how he ended up in the lobby of the Admiral Benbow Inn wearing nothing but a shirt and tie and a tiny towel he said at the time: “There’s nothing I can say.”

    It was all a blank. “I wish I’d never been to bloody Memphis,” he added.

    Mr Fraser had been guest speaker at the Memphis Country Club and had gone out afterwards to hear the blues in Beale Street and drink at the luxury Peabody Hotel.

    But sometime after midnight he had signed into the Admiral Benbow Inn as John Jones from Victoria and had paid by belligerently waving a $100 bill.

    The next morning he appeared in the lobby wrapped in a small towel and complaining that he had lost his $10,000 Rolex watch, passport, wallet, $600 cash and, of course, his trousers.

ABC’s Media Watch investigated this important issue just after Malcolm Fraser died on March 20, 2015. It came up with nothing more than Tamie Fraser’s version – he was probably ‘set up’ by his fellow delegates.


The Daily Telegraph says:

    the more likely story is that Mr Fraser was the victim of a tall Texan blonde with a tattoo above her breast who police reported had pulled the same trick on a number of wealthy Memphis businessmen in the months after Mr Fraser lost his trousers.

Anyway, here’s Malcolm Fraser on the campaign trail at the Post Office Hotel, Brisbane, in 1983 flanked by Melinda Cappa (left) and Kathy Davis. (Picture: Graeme Thomson)

2. Jacinda Adern rules OK

New Zealanders have done something remarkable. They returned a Labour government with enough seats to govern in their own right. Here’s the interim summary from Wikipedia:

In 2017 Labour was able to govern with only 46 seats in the 120-seat chamber, with New Zealand First (9) in coalition and the Greens (8) giving supply and confidence. Now it has 64, maybe 65 in its own right.

With 49.1% of the vote Labour gets just over 53% of seats. This happens because under the mixed-member proportional representation (MMP) voting system introduced in 1996 parties getting less than 5% of the vote get no representation, while those getting more than 5% get their share of the remaining pie irrespective of whether they win any seats.

I think the Greens with 7.57% of the vote got 8.3% on the seats (10) although I don’t think the won any specific seats.

Winston Peters, leader of NZ First and former Deputy PM, didn’t make the cut and now disappears. Commentary in the Guardian says:

    Her win in 2017 was courtesy of her coalition partner, New Zealand First. The chalice wasn’t exactly poisoned but it prevented Labour from achieving any radical change in its first term. New Zealand First took pride in its position as a handbrake; Labour had to grin and bear it, although the smile wore thin.


    “Let’s keep moving,” Labour’s campaign slogan urged, but in reality it was much more a case of: “Let’s stick with what we’ve got, so actually let’s not, you know, move”. The alternative – National’s Judith Collins – was too appalling a prospect.

Adern’s compassion and inclusiveness saw NZ through crises from a volcano eruption and a mass murder in Christchurch. So far she has kept the people safe from COVID, although the economy tanked 12.2% in the June quarter. Only 600 homes have been built in Kiwibuild, a bold initiative to build 100,000 affordable homes. The ABC tells us:

    New Zealand ranks a shocking 35th out of 41 developed countries on UNICEF’s child wellbeing report card.

So there is work to do.

There is no upper house and no states, so NZ does not suffer from the same multi-level sparring politics we do. Adern now has an open go, albeit in difficult circumstances.

3. Labor/Green government returned in the ACT

I’ve found most helpful Tim Colebatch with Few signs of turbulence around Lake Burley Griffin before the election and Will the Liberals ever learn? after the poll.

Canberra has five 5-member electorates. As Colebatch explains, if the major parties get 33% or more in each electorate they get two seats in each electorate, so the real contest has been for the fifth seat. In 2016 Labor held 12 seats, the Liberals 11 and the Greens 2.

This time Labor has its basic 10 seats with a chance in two more, one against a Green and one against a Liberal.

The Liberals have come up short with only 8 seats secured, but are a chance in two more, one against Labor, and one against a Green.

The Greens have improved from two to five and possibly six.

Colebatch summarises:

    On first preferences, the night finished with Labor on 38.4 per cent, the Liberals 33.1, the Greens 13.9 per cent and others 14.7. But whereas the preferences of the “others” in 2016 largely favoured the Liberals, this time they have spread more evenly between the three biggest parties. Crucially, that has lifted the Greens’ share of the three-party vote to 18 per cent — in a voting system where 16.67 per cent is the threshold to win a seat.

The Greens vote lifted by 3.6%, and to 4.5% after preferences.

The Liberals declined by 3.6%, then by 4% after preferences.

Labor declined by 0.1% on first preferences, then by 0.5% after preferences.

Colebatch says performance on COVID helped, but also:

    Part of the Liberals’ problem, surely, was that their young, stunt-addicted, ultra-conservative leader did not come across as a credible chief minister for a place like the ACT.

Colebatch points out that the Greens vote still falls short of the 20% they got in the last federal election, but they must take heart from the gains made.

4. Trump – American democracy on the block

David Frum, who worked for George W Bush, believes that American democracy is at stake in the coming election.

In his latest article in The Atlantic Last Exit From Autocracy he says America survived one Trump term, but it wouldn’t survive a second. He says:

    Americans have lavished enormous powers on the presidency. They have also sought to bind those powers by law. Yet the Founders of the republic understood that law alone could never eliminate the risks inherent in the power of the presidency. They worried ceaselessly about the prospect of a truly bad man in the office—a Caesar or a Cromwell, as Alexander Hamilton fretted in “Federalist No. 21.” They built restraints: a complicated system for choosing the president, a Congress to constrain him, impeachment to remove him. Their solutions worked for two and a half centuries. In our time, the system failed.

    Through the Trump years, institutions have failed again and again to check corruption, abuse of power, and even pro-Trump violence.

Frum’s list is long. He emphasises here Trump’s abuse of the pardon power, his abuse of government resources for personal gain, directing public funds to himself and his companies, and inciting political violence (the more the better).

Anyone who disagrees with him is sacked, anyone who breaks the law for him can be pardoned. The Republican Party has become his tool.

    In a second Trump term, radical gerrymandering and ever more extreme voter suppression by Republican governors would become the party’s only path to survival in a country where a majority of the electorate strongly opposes Trump and his party. The GOP would complete its transformation into an avowedly antidemocratic party.

Frum told Phillip Adams that technically Biden could win 14 million more votes that Trump under the broken college system and still not win the presidency. He also discusses ideas from his latest book is ‘Trumpocalypse: Restoring American Democracy’ about what might be done to restore and remake American democracy. They can’t start with a clean slate, they must adapt the current constitution and electoral management arrangements, which are old and designed for another time. That will not be easy.

Frum also says that while Trump may indeed be able to pardon himself of misdemeanors under federal law. However, it is alleged Mr Trump has committed offences in several states, which could take action.

77 thoughts on “Weekly salon 17/10”

  1. In Richard Nixon’s case it was his successor President Ford who issued the Presidential pardon for Nixon.

    I doubt that even “Tricky Dick” Nixon would have thought he could get away with pardoning himself.

    In a few States, it’s alleged Mr Trump has committed offences. Criminal offences.

    (Technically, that’s different from “offending against states”. He has offended so many State Governors, rivals, women, politicians, TV ‘celebrities’, sports persons, women, film stars, ladies, former employees, lawyers, journalists, ….. But all good fun, eh??)

  2. My American son commented before Obama was elected that both the Congress and Senate behaved like a collection of independents without much party discipline.
    Part of the reason for this is that candidates are elected in the primaries by registered party members. (Where they run as defacto independents.)
    Since then the parties have become more disciplined and the trading has declined.
    The other thing has been the rise of the “Tea Party.” The Tea Party supporters are very disaffected working class people who have registered as Republicans. This makes it a lot riskier for Republican Senators and congress people who vote against the Tea Party line to win in the primaries.

  3. The optimistic news for the US is that the Trump experience may inspire the US to have a hard look for ways to strengthen its democratic checks and balances and make their whole system fairer.
    Australia, particularly at state level, is now more democratic than it was 40 yrs ago when the likes of Joh roamed the earth.

  4. Ambi, I misspoke when I said ” offended against several states”. My bad. I’ll fix it by and by.

    John, I agree Joh had a giant gerrymander. He wasn’t always alone. SA was heavily gerrymandered in Playford’s time. Liberal premier Steele Hall fixed it and engineered his own demise in 1970.

    I was in NZ when Trevor Chappell bowled underarm in 1981, visiting some NZ education facilities. I was struck by the short distance between thought and action without having to worry about other political agendas.

    I think in the above the political systems of NZ and the ACT are a step above what we have in most of Oz in the democratic stakes. Surely the Greens would have a policy on this?

  5. Dennis Atkins says:

      When Donald Trump won in 2016 he had plenty of wind in his sails from older Americans, especially in key battleground states such as Florida, Maine, Arizona and Montana.

      Now the mood is changing, as is reported by polling guru Nate Silver of the Fivethirtyeight website. According to Silver there has been a 12 percentage point shift from the Republicans to the Democrats among those aged 65-plus from the 2016 result to the latest polling in recent weeks. “The most important factor might be COVID-19,” says Silver.

    Atkins wonders whether the same factor could be at work in Qld. If so Liberal seats Clayfield, Bundaberg, Pumicestone, Burleigh and Hervey Bay could be in play.

  6. Brian: “I think in the above the political systems of NZ and the ACT are a step above what we have in most of Oz in the democratic stakes. Surely the Greens would have a policy on this?”
    The Greens favour multi member electorate systems like the ones in the Senate, Tasmania and the ACT that use variations of the Hare-Clarke system for deciding who the members will be. Means that governments need to think harder about what they are doing than they do in one member per electorate systems. However, there have been problems in Tas when the combination of a ruthless major party and a minor party willing to use the threat of no-confidence votes to get its way was disruptive.
    In my post on the case for 3 member electorates (http://pragmatusj.blogspot.com/2017/02/the-case-for-3-member-electorates.html
    I stated that good electoral systems should have the following characteristics:
    All voters who live in Qld have at least one local member.
    Government is awarded to the winner of the two party preferred (2PP) vote.
    Who forms government is decided by the voters, not post election negotiations.
    The opposition is not reduced to a point where they will struggle to provide a viable alternative or effective opposition.
    All voters are important, not just the voters in marginal seats.
    Results do not depend on the location of electorate boundaries or differences in the percentage of voters for particular parties from electorate to electorate.
    Does not make it too difficult for independents or small parties to win some seats.
    Provides no incentive to vote strategically.
    One of the members in every electorate is a member of the government.
    Provides some check and balance on government decisions.
    The government cannot be blocked from raising the money needed to do its job properly.
    There are mechanisms for dealing with deadlocks.
    It is difficult for a vote of no confidence to force an early election.
    None of Australia’s existing systems meet all of the above all the time. (My three member system does.)

  7. Thanks John. It’s useful to recap these ideas right now, given that most commentators think that the Qld election will not produce a clear winner. So we would expect the balance to be found between Katter Australia Party (currently 3), Pauline Hanson’s One Nation (1), Greens (1 now but maybe 3) and at least one independent (Noosa). It’s by no means certain that KAP would go for the LNP.

    Meanwhile Palmer is regularly taking out p2 &3 ads in the CM. Today all he said was don’t vote Labor because they “could” introduce an inheritance tax.

  8. There is an excellent article at Inside Story on US voting and democracy America’s electoral counterrevolution by Nicole Hemmer.

    She traces the extension of franchise from males with property to the notion of universal franchise and the principle of all votes having equal value in the 1960s, possibly around the time we started to think about that here too.

    Almost immediately the Republican Party started to move against those principles. She highlights the involvement of the courts which have effectively become partisan.

    In 2010 after mid-term elections many states had Republican governors who systematically bent the electoral system to their favour. Americans seem to vote counter to whoever they vote in as president the first chance they get. Now:

      The courts, too, have played an increasingly pivotal role in voting restrictions. Most important, in 2013 a conservative Supreme Court gutted the 1965 Voting Rights Act, ending most protections for voters in states that have historically discriminated against minority voters. Legislators in those states rushed to pass new restrictions following that ruling. And now in 2020, appeals courts packed with Trump appointees have stayed most efforts to make voting easier during the pandemic. (This year has already seen more than 350 court cases over ballot access and deadlines, meaning the courts are playing an outsized role in this election.)

    She also refers to the fact that a number of states strip people convicted of felonies of their right to vote, even after they have served their sentences. In Tennessee more than 20% of African Americans can’t vote.

  9. Brian: Compulsory voting avoids many of the problems in the US system, particularly when some groups are being pressured to not vote.
    Australia has become more democratic in our lifetimes. Part of it is extending the vote to Aborigines and part of it is getting rid of Bjelkimanders. (Beattie is to be praised for keeping the rules honest when he had the power to switch the system in his favour. )
    Part of it is having electoral commissions who are responsible for honest elections and placing boundaries in a manner that means that winning the TPP makes it highly likely will result in a win.
    My ideas on 3 member electorates mean, amongst a number of things, that the winner of the 2PP vote will always form government.

  10. John, according to my calculations last election Qld had about 35,000 voters in each electorate (BTW around 12.5% of enrolled voters didn’t vote).

    So in your scheme electorates would by three times larger?

  11. By contrast with the anti -felons rule, I think in Australia those prohibited from voting are
    * them wot’s in the clink currently
    * them wot’s found guilty of treason-.

    Memory’s a bit rusty, but I can’t remember any recent treason trials here.

  12. That’s for Federal elections Jumpy.
    In Western Australia prisoners must be serving a sentence of less than one year to vote in state elections.
    Signed your friendly neighbourhood pedant.

  13. Brian: “So in your scheme electorates would by three times larger?” Yes, unless you have more MP’s.
    Our federal electorate of Kalgoorlie covered nearly all of WA when we lived there. We saw more of our member in WA than we did where we lived at Brisbane.
    Every vote really does count with three member electorates.

  14. I’ve just watched The Trial of The Chicago 7 on Netflix.
    I can’t recommend it too highly. It’s an excellent production and 50 years later there are some disturbing echoes in the US of the events it depicts.

  15. Thanks, zoot.

    John, in terms of the area we both know, I live in Cooper in Ashgrove and drive 15 mins or so to see my brother in Kenmore. He’s in Moggill and I drive through Maiwar.

    This seems OK to me in terms of community. We would probably get what we’ve got now – one Labor, one Green and one LNP. As citizens we would have expectations and expect representation from all three.

    Townsville would coalesce mainly into one seat. Not sure how it would work out elsewhere, but I think over time we’d get more policy being discussed and less politicking.

  16. Geez, uComms loves me, surveying me 3 time a week at the moment. Happens at election times so probably internal ALP polling given the leading questioning.

    Asked the Taipan how often She gets a pollster call, She said it’s never happened !!

    Not sure they’re helping anyone much.

  17. Oh, sorry, their number is 0488 822 699.

    They have dropped their “ What level of Education are you “ question in this one. Just age and gender ( incidentally, just 2 options!! the LGBTUIQZFphobes !!!)

  18. Geez, uComms loves me, surveying me 3 time a week at the moment.

    It would appear they are biased towards the ‘One Nation supporting female aged 18-35’ demographic.

  19. Nope, I change it up every time.
    Tonight I was an old male green that wants open border in the pandemic.

    I get my creative inspirations from all over the place 😉

  20. Jumpy: “Tonight I was an old male green that wants open border in the pandemic.” You will have to lift your thinking game to meet the standards required to make that claim.

  21. “LNP’s Queensland election pitch to enforce Townsville youth curfew branded ‘a dog pound for kids’ by Katter’s Australian Party” https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-10-21/qld-election-2020-lnp-townsville-youth-curfew-crime-plan/12789276
    I love the way the Katter’s can sometimes cut through bullshit at times.
    The bullshit policy won’t apply to all of Qld. The focus will be on a couple of locations with critical marginal seats that the LNP might just gain government by winning.
    It will cost parents $250 to get their kids out of the pound. A devastating sum for parents struggling with low incomes. Pretty hard too for kids in homes where they need to escape from things like domestic violence and other inappropriate parental behavior.

  22. Spot on, John.

    I’m glad the Katters have come in on this one, because they may have more credibility for people who are likely to change their vote than Labor would have.

    With crime being an issue in Townsville and three marginal Labor seats on the line, this issue alone could sink Labor.

    The LNP’s approach will do nothing to “fix” youth crime. It’s likely to make it worse.

  23. Good movie that “ Trial of the Chicago 7 “, agreed zoot.

    It must be noted the violence perpetrated was at the Democrats National Convention under a Democrat Mayor ( in charge of the Coppers ).
    Didn’t stop the 90 year dominance of Democrats in Chicago though. No wonder it’s been the poster child for crime and poverty in the US.

  24. It must be noted the violence perpetrated was at the Democratsic National Convention under a Democrat Mayor ( in charge of the Coppers ).

    True, and I can’t wait to watch The Irishman to see if the connection between the Mob and Daley is depicted.
    But it must also be noted that the Democratic White House investigation of the violence decided against prosecuting the organisers of the protest because it determined it was the police who had rioted.
    Those people were only in court because the Republicans thought they could score some political advantage from it.
    I thought Frank Langella as Judge Hoffman was particularly telling.

  25. Here’s some good news for a change.
    Tom Lehrer (yes, he’s still alive) has put his lyrics into the public domain. Apparently his original music will follow.

  26. Tom Lehrer, legend!!

    [In other good news Rudi Giuliani has justified his name (Rudi) for Borat and his daughter. Harrumph!]

    NY lawyers: there’s just nothing like them……

  27. Meanwhile,

    Over here in Lawyer X State (south of NSW, north of Tas).

    A convicted drug trafficker and up to two dozen other gangland figures, including Tony Mokbel, could walk free after prosecutors conceded that Victoria Police corrupted a key jailhouse witness by paying him $10,000.

    The Director of Public Prosecutions has acknowledged a “substantial miscarriage of justice” occurred as a result of the pay-off scheme allegedly run by former detectives at the Purana anti-gangland taskforce.

  28. Over there in Canberra, some generosity has been uncovered……

    from ‘The Oz’

    }} Australia Post CEO Christine Holgate has been asked by the Morrison government to stand aside while it investigates the purchase of four $3000 Cartier watches bought as rewards for senior executives.

    Scott Morrison declared he was “appalled and shocked” by the revelation and within an hour of it being aired at Senate estimates on Thursday instigated a four-week joint investigation by the Department of Finance and Department of Communications.

    The departments will report back to federal cabinet.

    The Prime Minister said Ms Holgate should stand aside immediately so the investigation can look into the conduct of board members and the executive team.

    “That report will come back to me and my members of my cabinet and if there are issues to be addressed with board members, then they will be addressed then,” Mr Morrison told parliament.

    “This all happened within an hour (of the Senate estimates evidence), so appalled and shocked was I by that behaviour because as any shareholder would in a company raise their outrage if they had seen that conduct by a chief executive, a management or a board, they would insist rightly on the same thing.” {{

  29. Honestly, I think this is an overreaction and will not help Australia Post get through a difficult period. AP’s national distribution network, using Qantas flights, is kaputt, they are having to hire planes and use trucks.

    Did you know that much Melbourne mail is being taken to Sydney to sort, even though it may be addressed to the next suburb.

    Parcels, of course, are going gangbusters.

  30. Zoots bizarre obsession with Trump and other monkeys that are not his continues.

    Question zoot, are you or have ever been a businessman and created a single employment position?

  31. Question zoot, are you or have ever been a businessman and created a single employment position?

    Have you? I imagine most of the positions you fill have been created by the main contractor. Come to think of it has Trump (given his famous propensity for not paying his subbies)?
    Have you ever been the Premier of an Australian state? No? Well that obviously invalidates your obsession with the current Premier of Queensland.
    Goose, gander…

  32. I imagine most of the positions you fill have been created by the main contractor

    Correction – the jobs you seem to be claiming credit for are actually created by whoever decide to initiate the development for which you have tendered.

  33. Zoots bizarre obsession with Trump and other monkeys that are not his continues.

    Here’s a little history for our Mackay Republican.
    I was 10 when rock ‘n roll hit Australia. I was immediately entranced by it. Four years later I discovered the only art form the USA has given the world – jazz and again I was smitten. Then I discovered the blues (Jimmy Reed and John Lee Hooker if you’re interested) and this cemented my decision to become a musician.
    I have drifted down the Mississippi with Huck and Jim. I was stirred by the travails of the Joad family as they fled from dust bowl Oklahoma. I was astonished by the insight into childhood thinking Harper Lee demonstrated in her description of Scout, Jem and Dill.
    I have pored over the photographs commissioned by the Farm Security Administration in the thirties and forties and marveled at the great art that can exist within documentary images.
    I have a still unrequited desire to drive down route sixty six (or what’s left of it).
    In short, I am obsessed not by Trump, but by the idea of the United States of America. The fact that it is not my circus (I really wish Jumpy was capable of understanding that saying) does not stop me from feeling distress that it has become a laughing stock and is in real danger of imploding.
    Let’s see how Jumpy misinterprets that.

  34. Ahh! So you are a jazz musician zoot! That is just totally awesome. The one glaring thing missing from my pretty comprehensive skill set is a musical ability. Jealous envy!! in the best kind of way! That heaps on you a big responsibility. You’ve now got to come up with a ClimatePlus Blues theme Tune.

  35. zoot – one of the pivotal moments for me was discovering the photographs in Let Us Now Praise Famous Men , a tortured, long and difficult book about sharecroppers in the US Depression.*

    Walker Evans, a giant of black and white photography.

    * a miracle of publishing: a fancy magazine hires a fancy writer to go and write documentary reports on the poorest Americans; he immerses himself as much as any outsider can; a genuinely Christian account, in the empathy and compassion rising strongly from every page; lifted to the power of a poetic documentary film by the still photography.

    “The poor are always with you”, said Jesus.

    ” ‘workers of the world, unite and fight’ is not the monopoly of any Party”, wrote the author.

    That’s enough.

  36. Zoot: “Correction – the jobs you seem to be claiming credit for are actually created by whoever decide to initiate the development for which you have tendered.”
    I do think that some businesses do create jobs by coming up with new ideas and marketing them effectively. But this only works if potential customers have the money, a point that Sir Jumpy doesn’t seem to grasp.
    I also think that education and training are part of the job/business creation process. The demand may be there and the customers willing and able to spend but nothing will happen if there is no-one available who can actually do the job.
    There is another question of course: “Should the job be done?” Many jobs will damage people, property, communities and the environment.
    Me I think the world might be better off if some jobs were shut down and we put more effort into sharing the available work and income.
    Productivity increased dramatically during my working life. However, unemployment increased and working hours for the fully employed increased. Some pollution reduced as a result of technical advances but our contribution to a number of world pollutions actually increased.

  37. bilb: in hindsight I wasn’t a particularly good when it came to jazz. My forte was backing floorshows and visiting acts. For a while there I could read fly shit.
    Ambi: ah yes, the great Walker Evans. I also have a fondness (and huge respect) for W Eugene Smith and Dorothea Lange. It wasn’t pertinent to my comment, but I was also tremendously impressed with Steichen’s “Family of Man”

  38. James Agee wrote the book “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men”. I’m delighted to say there are more than 100 pages available online as a “preview” and – better yet – dozens of the early pages are Walker Evans stark photos.

    Three Tenant Families.

    (Dorothea Lange – yep.)

  39. Thanks for the tip on W. Eugene Smith, zoot.
    Good work.

    A couple of WES portraits of Albert Schweitzer in the early 50s remind me of van Gogh’s “Potato Eaters” painting. Might just be a coincidence….

  40. Antony Green’s blog gives the final ACT election result.

    Labor 10 (-2), Liberals 9 (-2), Greens 6 (+4).

    So it was a great result for the Greens with 13% of the primary vote.

    It seems one Lib and one Labor were defeated by one of their own. Apparently this is not uncommon in the Hare-Clark system.

    Discussion on my son’s Facebook reckons that down the track it will be Labor vs Greens in the ACT, with Liberals a minor flavour.

  41. Brian: “Discussion on my sons Facebook reckons that down the track it will be Labor vs Greens in the ACT, with Liberals a minor flavour.”
    Being part of the system and having people in power provides a lot of practical learning and assistance in preparing propositions.
    One set of figures I found said that the Greens in NSW have 5 mayors and 56 councilors working for communities across NSW. In addition, they have 6 state MP’s and and one senator.
    What I have seen are competent people. (Certainly more competent than some of our LNP ministers – But I guess this is a low bar theses days.)
    Locally Byron shire has been Green for a long time and Tweed has a Green Lord Mayor. Ballina may get a Green Lord Mayor at the next LGA election.

  42. John, that’s one senate seat of 42, 6 of 93 in the lower house, 5 mayors of 152, but probably 5 of only 30 that are directly elected (stats from Google).

    While change so far must be encouraging for the Green movement, there is plenty road ahead.

  43. Tim Colebatch has done another piece Triumph of the Greens:

      Twelve years into their coalition with Labor in the ACT, the Greens are stronger than ever

    To recap the ACT Assembly will now have 10 Labor, 9 Liberal and 6 Greens.

    Colebatch says the Greens were a bit lucky in that their vote pitched just above the quota, or ahead of all the rest if they came in just under. Looking at the political implications more broadly he says:

      It should be a result that reverberates among Labor’s leaders throughout the nation. Note carefully: rather than going ballistic about the Greens taking seats off Labor — as his counterparts in Melbourne or Sydney would have — Labor’s chief minister Andrew Barr has been quite relaxed about it, arguing that it shows the strength of their coalition government.

      And he’s right. The real story of this election — in my view, as the only media commentator who tipped anything like this result — is that the Greens offered an alternative for those voters who are browned off with Labor, which has ruled Canberra since 2001, but couldn’t bring themselves to vote for this version of the Liberal Party. You don’t have to share all the views of Greens leader Shane Rattenbury to find him impressively genuine and caring, a relief from the spin offered by other leaders.

      By contrast, on issue after issue, the Liberals refuse to put themselves on the right side of history — or the Canberra electorate. Scott Morrison will one day rue the opportunity he wasted when he shrank from doing the obvious in the wake of the bushfires — using it to drag the Coalition into a genuine policy to tackle climate change urgently, as most of the conservative parties in Europe have done. Alistair Coe might one day ask himself why, in his mid-thirties, he was the only Australian major-party leader who voted against marriage equality in the referendum.

    I think relations between Labor and the Greens can be more civil and less political with multi-member electorates.

    In Queensland my tip at present is that no major party will have a majority. The big question is whether either Labor or the LNP will be able to form a government with support from their own side of the left-right divide. If the LNP cannot form government with the help on Katter and One Nation, then Palaszczuk will be premier.

    Katter may even choose Labor over the LNP, but I doubt they ever would if they were supporting a Labor/Green coalition as distinct from a Labor minority government that needs Green support.

  44. Brian: Michael Berkman has said that the Greens will not support an LNP government. Smart move because it confirms to Labor supporters that are thinking of voting Green that voting Green is not going to help the LNP and may prod Labor into being more green/progressive.
    May also make it harder for the Katter party to drive too hard a bargain for supporting the ALP. There is no prize for Katter having no influence over the next government.

  45. “…..will not support an LNP government…” and, JohnD, the government will not support the Australian community nor the International one for that matter.


    Here is the sociopathic control freak mentality boiling to the surface. Total rejection of criticism, reality, and the desires of the greater majority, by a huge margin, of the Australian will.

    Morrison is Trump Lite and we have got to get rid of these destroyers.

  46. BilB, who on the left side of politics do you see as displaying

    sociopathic control freak mentality boiling to the surface. Total rejection of criticism, reality, and the desires of the greater majority, by a huge margin, of the Australian will.

    if you don’t mind me asking?

    Or is it just folk you disagree with ?

  47. Jumpy, I won’t scurry around giving you the links.

    Boris Johnson raised urgent climate action on Australia in talks with Morrison. Such talk is now routine for countries aspiring to net zero when talking about trade, because they don’t want to import polluting goods or services.

    The UK memo about the talks mentioned climate, Australia’s didn’t.

    When challenged Morrison said “We will decide…”

    Actually we won’t. They will decide whether they import our soiled goods.

    Elsewhere Morrison has intervened in two areas where he has no business. First, with Australia Post. AP has one minister as a shareholder, and it’s not him.

    Second, he bullied the rugby league bosses into playing the national anthem before State of Origin.

    Let them make their own decisions. They don’t need the Chief Bully of Oz to tell them what to do.

  48. And you might have heard just the other day that The Australia Institute’s Climate of the Nation report found increased concern about the climate by the people of Australia, and the desire to do something about it.

  49. Brian: “When challenged Morrison said “We will decide…””
    Keep in mind he is using the royal “we”. In other words “I will decide.”
    When he became the prime minister he said something like: “I am the leader and I will lead.” Too often he sounds like a failed advertising man trying to sell his second rate goods instead of someone who really understands the underlying problem that needs collective effort.

  50. It’s not just public servants feeling the ire of the Morrison Government. Pressure is being applied by Morrison on banks that are doing the responsible things by their customers by refusing to lend to fossil companies. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-10-31/morrison-government-transparency-anz-climate-change/12832786
    YIKES: “But this did not stop a Cabinet Minister, no less, David Littleproud, of making what could only be described — and in fact was described so by former regulators — as a grossly reckless statement threatening to revoke government guarantees for ANZ bank deposits as revenge for its stricter climate change lending policy…….. “The Nationals will review every policy lever at the Federal Government’s disposal — including the availability of deposit guarantees — to protect Australian farmers from these sorts of arbitrary boardroom ideological agendas,”
    The article goes on to say: “Keep in mind that international banking regulators have been both warning banks to consider these issues and to be transparent about their exposures to possible stranded assets for some time, and that the Australian regulator, the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority, has told the banks they must report their exposures.”
    It also points out that Treasurer Morrison said re the banking enquiry: “The then treasurer Scott Morrison had been one of the most ardent resisters of a royal commission, describing it as “a stunt”, “hot air” and “nothing more than crass populism seeking to undermine confidence in the banking and financial system, which is key to jobs and growth in this country”.
    Even when the government finally announced the royal commission, he described it as a “regrettable but necessary action”.
    Our dear leader’s bossiness is getting more and more out of hand.

  51. Revocation of government guarantees on deposits would be challenged in the High Court, we can be sure.

  52. John, Yes Morrison is showing up as very authoritarian and bossy.

    What ANZ are doing is nothing more than risk management, which the other banks are also doing or will do. There has been commentary from the conservation movement that the ANZ provisions are lowball and inadequate.

    Ambi, thankyou, we are going to need it.

  53. From Nine newspapers:

    Christine Holgate has resigned as the boss of Australia Post, ahead of a federal government investigation into her decision to reward employees with Cartier watches.

    Ms Holgate announced her decision to quit as chief executive and managing director of Australia Post with “immediate effect” on Monday, saying she was not seeking any financial compensation.

    No longer enjoys the confidence of her Board or our PM?

  54. Seems every action of an AP executive must meet the pub test, or be publicly shamed and hounded out by the big bully who wants to distract from paying 10 times more than necessary for land for an airport, or other sundry rorts.

    Pub tests were also used to knock out university research grants, remember?

    I think she will be glad to be out of there, and spend her time where she doesn’t need the approval of boofheads.

  55. When it comes to compensation of highly paid people the pub test can be misleading. In the Aus Post case the watch receivers had worked really hard to get some essential stuff through. In cases like this at least a small token of appreciation would be appropriate.
    Problem is that in the pub a few thousand bucks worth of watch sounds like a lot but isn’t for someone who is paid hundreds of thousands of dollars p.a.
    The more informed commentary thinks the bully in chief has got rid of an outstanding performer.

  56. John, I’d like to reply to this here because it’s unrelated to the US election.

    Jumpy: “And a flat tax with a large tax free threshold, which I believe JD likes too, not user pay for everything.”
    Not the large tax free threshold bit.

    Ok, fair enough.

    I am inclined towards the combination of a flat tax and UBI (Universal Basic Income) to give a very very simple combination that is also progressive.

    It sound like “proportionate “ with a UBI rather than “progressive “ but let’s continue.

    In its simplest form:
    1. The UBI would replace welfare such as pensions, child allowances and unemployment benefits but would not fully replace disability pensions. (The extra for disability would still be separate.)

    Isnt current PBS, public Health Mega-Infrastructure and Medicare not enough of a leveller or are you reducing some of these ?

    2. The UBI payment may vary with age but would not be affected by income, assets or marital status.

    In what way? Age discrimination? I don’t understand that need and it should be illegal.

    3. The flat tax would be charged on ALL income after subtracting the cost of producing the income.

    Now that’s a sticky one. Back when the top rate was in the 70s no one payed it due to the over complexity of deductibles. You’d need to audit everybody every year. That’d explode the regulatory size. One of the things on my “ to do list “ is investigate deeper a flat tax/no deductions plus UBI voucher and tax free threshold combo.

    2. The UBI/flat tax combo may be expanded to avoid the need some of our other forms of taxation/welfare.

    Interesting, I’d like to have access to use of Treasury modelling computing to run a lot of different mixes and try to tweak levels of each. We own it, why not eh ?

    The above would make the very poor and very rich better off assuming that the UBI is large enough to at least fully replace some forms of welfare.
    In practice it would probably make sense to have a small tax free threshold and an extra levy on the very rich.

    Not convinced that those conclusions are correct at all but willing to see it modelled.

    Also worth considering is how at would perform in pandemics or other upsets, flexibility.

    Another major concern for a lot of folk are what are the settings to pay off Federal debt compared to the debt free Australia settings while considering buffers to economic shocks both foreign and domestic.

    Complicated issue to be sure but definitely worth discussing civilly if possible.

  57. Back when the top rate was in the 70s no one payed it due to the over complexity of deductibles.

    That’s not how I remember it, but I was much more naive back then. Do you have evidence for your assertion or are you relying on only statements and feelings?

  58. Zoot, debunk the claim or STFU.
    No one in the over 70% income tax bracket payed an effective rate of 70%, change my mind.

  59. Or maybe you were and still are as young and naive as a 35yo partner in a legal firm being corrupt as Gillard was, I don’t know.

  60. The highest marginal tax rate in Australia appears to have been 75% (or fifteen shillings in the pound) in 1951-52.
    There is no evidence to support Jumpy’s statement that nobody paid it ” due to the over complexity of deductibles.”
    In fact this statement is logically farcical.
    Is Mackay’s own Milton Friedman telling us that people who were liable to the top marginal tax rate just refused to pay it? And is he saying the ATO allowed them?
    In my experience they paid good money to their accountants so they could exploit the ‘complexity of deductibles” to reduce their liability.

  61. Zoot: I remember paying 60% marginal tax in the 1970’s.My average would have been lower because the 60% was the marginal tax, not a flat tax. My wife thought it was tremendous that I was being paid enough to have reached the 60% rate.
    Perhaps it is worth noting that our beloved government thinks that a peak 60% clawback on job keeper is OK.

  62. No one in the over 70% income tax bracket payed an effective rate of 70%, change my mind.

    My mistake; I thought you understood marginal tax rates; my bad!
    Everybody in the over 70% income tax bracket paid 70% of the portion of their income which attracted that rate.
    In most cases it would have been a tiny fraction of their total income. But they only paid 70% on that portion, like John D only paid 60% on a portion of his taxable income.
    Not sure what my top marginal tax rate was, probably 39%. But when I worked out the percentage of my taxable income I had actually paid in tax it was always in the low twenties.

  63. I paid a marginal rate of 60% into the 1980s. During the Accord years we often used to get the same increment in dollars as those on the basic wage, except that 60% of it disappeared in tax.

    Over the 1980s inflation averaged 8%. I was on the same public service throughout, which meant relative impoverishment.

    I remember doing a calculation that lecturers at universities were paid 1.7 times the average male wage. At the end of the decade that was about 1.1, and many plumbers were making more.

  64. zoot, thanks for the Quiggin link on the Aus Post affair.

    I liked it too, but he’s wrong in one technical point. The watches were not bought out of taxpayers’ money.

    Aus Post is a corporation with one shareholder, a minister of the crown, currently named Paul Fletcher.

    Scot Morrison, as PM, has nothing to do with Aus Post the corporation.

    He does have something to do with the policy framework and legislation that sets it up.

    They usually pay a dividend, which becomes taxpayers’ money.

    The question Quiggin asks in the title is the most important one – effectively, is Aus Post a corporation meant to make money, or is it a public service, which may or may not make a profit?

    The business about watches is optics, but basically trivia.

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