Weekly salon 31/5

1. Robodebt extortion racket finally conceded as “unlawful”

The word should be ‘criminal’. Scotty from Marketing has clever wordsmiths who have invented the euphemism “not sufficient under law”. Christian Porter was suggesting on Insiders today that the scheme was basically normal, just didn’t quite scrub up under the law. Nothing to see here.

There were a few little problems with the scheme.

  • The underlying mathematics were so bad that an average child completing compulsory education could have spotted the problem.
  • When the demand was made people were held as guilty unless they could prove innocence.
  • Unless people paid on demand, the debt was handed over to debt collectors.
  • Continue reading Weekly salon 31/5

Weekly salon 26/5

1. Three first nations people in Queensland parliament

Lance McCallum, newly elected Labor MP for Bundamba now joins Cynthia Lui, Labor Member for Cook and Leeanne Enoch, Member for Algester and Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Minister for Science and Minister for the Arts in the Queensland parliament:

Tuesday 26 May was National Sorry Day, commemorating the Bringing Them Home report. National Sorry Day is on the eve of National Reconciliation Week (27 May to 3 June). The Qld Government marked the week with:

    “The $250,000 Celebrating Reconciliation Small Grants Program is our biggest round yet and will support up to 48 Queensland events by councils, community groups and non-profit organisations to be held during or around National Reconciliation Week 2021,” he said.

    The Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships-funded program has supported more than 100 reconciliation events since launching in 2018.

“He” was the Minister for Fire and Emergency Services and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, Craig Crawford.

Rio Tinto blasted a 46,000-year-old Aboriginal site to expand iron ore mine.

Professor Megan Davis, Pro Vice-Chancellor Indigenous and Professor of Law at UNSW Sydney, has been named the Balnaves Chair in Constitutional Law. Prof Davis had much to do with the formulation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart and continues working on promoting its acceptance. Now funded by the Balnaves Foundation she doesn’t have to worry about university cuts.

2. Remembering and honouring Jack Mundey

As Wendy Bacon says, communists don’t usually get to become Australian heroes.

Mundey was said to be the first to weaponise the word green in politics. Those who enjoy the heritage buildings and green spaces of Sydney can thank him, but he did more than that. As Wikipedia says:

    During the 1960s, Mundey was a crusading unionist and an advocate on a wide range of issues from safety reforms on building sites to wider issues such as feminism, gay rights and international politics. Mundey considered all these matters appropriate targets for union activism.

Mundey was born and raised in Malanda in the Atherton Tableland as the son of a poor Irish Catholic dairy farmer. He ran away from St Augustine’s in Cairns, because of its “authoritarian methods” of discipline. At 19 he became a metal worker, later a builder’s labourer in Sydney.

In 2003 he joined the Greens, at the time of the Iraq War, and remained a member until he died.

Vale Jack Mundey. His life made a difference.

3. Target shrinks its footprint

We’ve known for ages that the department store chain Target has been struggling, so it was no surprise that Wesfarmers has announced that some stores will close and some will convert to K-Mart, which is a stronger brand.

I’m surprised at how many are being kept open. Here’s the Full list of Target stores that will close or be converted to Kmarts.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud blasted Wesfarmers, suggesting a boycott of their stores including Bunnings and Officeworks. How that would help employment or the public is not at all clear. He says that the closure was immoral and showed the company “don’t give a rat’s about us”.

Not sure how that would help, but it shows what a buffoon we have as an agriculture minister. Companies trading in the bush are not charities or public services. They need to make profits and modernise to respond to changes in the industry and buying habits of customers.

A broking firm whose advice I have access to says the change is going to cost Wesfarmers over half a billion. Their revenue runs at about $30 billion and EBIT (earnings before interest and tax) about $3 billion. Littleproud is suggesting we kill a company that pays about a billion in tax, unlike companies such as Amazon. Or are we just meant to regard what he says as blather?

The broking firm says K-Mart is probably best in class, and is building its online business, which trades as Catch. I’m surprised that K-Mart will still have a presence in places as small as Chinchilla and Goondiwindi, both in Littleproud’s electorate of Maranoa.

The broking house is forecasting that Wesfarmers shareholders will take a hit of 51% in dividends from last year. Yes, I’m one of them and without us there would be no Australian-owned companies. Littleproud doesn’t give a rats about us.

4. Happy birthday to Scott Morrison

Is he worth feeding? He thinks 1.1 million visa holders are not worth feeding. Settlement Services International found:

    In the survey of nearly 500 people on temporary visas carried out by SSI over the past eight weeks, 62% indicated they have gone without meals, 76% could not pay the rent or a mortgage on time, and 52% could not buy the medicines they required.

To be fair, I think the 500 was made up of people who contacted SSI for help.

Katharine Murphy in A year after his ‘miracle’ win, this is what we’ve learned about Scott Morrison says with Covid 19 we’ve learned that Morrison can learn.

Did you notice the link in the margin to The sports rorts questions that Scott Morrison still hasn’t answered?

Peter Brent in Happy anniversary? says:

    Last year Morrison enjoyed seven months of sunshine before an unwise holiday in the Pacific followed by several blundered attempts to reset his public persona.

    But that’s all forgotten now. He’s riding high, as are the state and territory leaders. It’s a respite from a long, steady depletion of trust in political parties and governments, assisted by sluggish economies. But while the coronavirus will linger, our leaders’ heightened stature can’t.

By rights Labor should win in 2022, he says, but Morrison’s mob are seen as the better economic managers.

He says that with Covid 19 Morrison’s biggest problem is within. A substantial number of members are grumpy

    partly because they have internalised the propaganda about the Rudd government’s response to the global financial crisis: you can’t spend your way out of trouble. Now this centre-right government is doing the same, but on steroids. There’s also the related backlash against the health restrictions, which often veers into voodoo analysis, mixing up cause and effect (namely, “all these restrictions and for what, just a few deaths?”)

We need to talk about China

Here the WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People on January 28 in Beijing, with appropriate distancing. Dr Tedros later commented that Xi had a surprising mastery of the detail of what was going on. Two days later the WHO declared the novel coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern. People have made up stories about this meeting and the sequence, but it seems to me an orderly progression of events, coming 10 days after China had alerted the world to a person to person highly infectious novel coronavirus, then sealing off and locking down Wuhan on 23 January. Continue reading We need to talk about China

Do we really want to save the Great Barrier Reef? Reprise

Bleached coral at Magnetic Island 2020

This post started as a Climate clippings which last appeared in August 30 last year. This post outgrew the CC format and ended up asking again Do we seriously want to save the great Barrier Reef?

Coral bleaching is becoming the new normal

From the New ScientistThe Great Barrier Reef has suffered its most widespread bleaching yet:

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. Continue reading Weekly salon 3/5


Tim Colebatch wrote an interesting article “There is an Alternative to Lockdownsfor Inside Story. The article compares the performance of various countries in their handling of the corona virus pandemic. Tim’s assessment is that the outstanding performer has been Taiwan. It has been the world’s most successful country in fighting the virus. In a land with almost as many people as Australia, only six people have died, and 426 have been infected. This has been achieved without the economic and social collateral damage that has been a feature of the Australian approach.

This post looks at what Tim has reported and asks whether Australia should change the way it is dealing with the epidemic. Continue reading WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM TAIWAN COV19

Run for your life!

Or walk.

Seeing people holed up inside apartments around the world has worried me for many reasons, including people’s access to vitamin D and the necessary exercise to maintain health.

On an earlier thread John Davidson said he had been part of a UQ study on the use of high intensity exercise, and as a result he tries to get 36 mins intense exercise every week at above double his resting heart rate. In this post I summarise the findings of a number of articles that have recently come my way. Continue reading Run for your life!

Weekly salon 25/4

1. Anzac Day

I guess I’ve never been big on Anzac Day. I grew up in a settlement of farmers of German ancestry. My Dad taught in German in primary school in the Barossa Valley until they changed the rules. He was too young to enlist when WW1 broke out, but could have joined a bit later. Being a third generation Australian, I’m sure he would have fought for his country. The tradition in Europe was that you fought for whoever ruled you at the time. Frederick the Great invaded Saxony so that the Saxons would be fighting for him rather than against him when he picked a fight with Maria Theresa’s Austria. However, Napoleon found that 30,000 Bavarians swapped sides when they saw what they were up against in the Battle of Leipzig.

As it happened, my mob were fingered as German during WW1 and not to be trusted. Continue reading Weekly salon 25/4

Care of strangers

Back on August 30, 2004 John Quiggin posted a guest post from me Care of Strangers. He introduced it as being on the philosophy behind our stance on asylum seekers, and saying it raised some important (though not entirely new) questions about the adequacy of utilitarianism in contexts like this.

Here’s the post with minor editorial changes. More commas! Continue reading Care of strangers

Celebrating Easter

Jesus on Nazareth was not just the son of a carpenter, or a great spiritual teacher. When we went to church in Erlangen with my friend in 2015, the young pastor on training wheels challenged us as to whether we believed in the risen Christ. She said that if we did we were obligated to look at why the son of God became human, died for us, but then conquered death, returning to the Father, but with us all the time if we accept Him.

This is what Easter is supposed to be about. Beyond that the Easter festival signalled spring and rebirth, which is the symbolism of the egg. Continue reading Celebrating Easter

Climate change, sustainability, plus sundry other stuff