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There is very little to be gained pondering whether celebrity journalism should be protected with the zeal that some of its advocates do. A person with the dirt-directed fanaticism of a Piers Morgan is not to be treasured and his court losses in defamation actions have, at times, warranted jubilation. But nor do the victors
The arguments of the 'No' are all exceedingly weak, says John Haly apart, perhaps, for one... read now...
Its here at last. The Turnbull government has had exactly as long as the Abbott government did to deliver its promised Potential Greatness.
14 September 2015 seems like a long time ago, doesnt it? There I was in London, waking up surprisingly unsurprised to learn that Tony Abbott had been rolled as Prime Minister. Who knew that Malcolm Turnbull could be such a sneaky, underhanded, white-anting, all-mouth-and-no-trousers narcissist? I asked rhetorically.
But in the wake of the defenestration, a lot of people said publicly that they didnt think Turnbull was that bad. They spoke highly of his sex appeal, his suits, his business acumen, and his ability to poll. Above all, we were told, he is really One of Us on some Key Issues. Hes just waiting to make his move.
Thus the myth of Malcolm Turnbull, Closet Libertarian, was born. And what a persistent myth it was, to the point where heretics those silly people who believe that past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour were branded del-cons and Abbottistas. Del-cons were little better than Pauline Hanson voters; crusty and barnacled dead weights holding back the agile and innovative Turnbull Coalition Team (or TURNCOAT for short).
We saw some shameful public discourse from people who should have known better: Miranda Devine, Janet Albrechtsen, Nikki Savva, and our own Doomlord (most of whom are now humming a little tune and looking fixedly in the other direction). No matter how many times we said that Abbott had let us down, and that we didnt want him back as Prime Minister, we were told over and over again that we did. We were also told that Malcolm was the way of the future, so put up and shut up.
Yet aside from his personality issues, Malcolm Turnbull came to the role of Prime Minister on a very obvious record of under-achievement. He was beclowned by Godwin Grech, took away our lightbulbs, never laid a hand on Stephen Conroy or Greg Combet during the NBN debacle, bedded the ABC like Don Juan, and generally signalled in capital letters that he was a leftist inner-city trendy to his (non-existent) core.
Anyone who pointed this out was told to shush. Malcolm was different now. He was One of Us. He alone could save the Liberal Party from electoral annihilation. Turnbulls subsequent fingernail parliamentary majority was frantically apologised away by his now over-invested cheer squad, who told us that Abbotts leadership would have led to human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, and mass hysteria.
The TURNCOAT government has certainly produ...
Friday 15 September 2017 1 One of the more bewildering aspects of Mondays IPOS Poll was the overwhelming endorsement of Scott Morrison. One would have thought that the economy was chugging along at a remarkable rate. Respected writer Alan Austin took exception to this assumption and has written an excellent piece titled Think Scott Morrison is
For decades Australia has been at the centre of international efforts to improve elections in Papua New Guinea. Australia has spent almost US$60 million since 2002. Despite this, the 2017 elections were blighted by a frightening pack of problems. Given PNGs electoral woes it is tempting to conclude aid hasnt helped. Tempting, but mistaken. Elections may not be good in PNG but good is not the right yardstick for aid success in this area. The appropriate yardstick is vis--vis a counterfactual of no international help. As I described in my first post, Papua New Guineas domestic political economy produces forces that are at odds with well-run elections. As I discuss in this paper, international engagement has served as a countervailing force against these. Because of this, it is very likely that elections in PNG would be worse still without Australian involvement.
This doesnt mean that Australian efforts cant be improved though. Here are some suggestions. Because this is a blog post they are, by necessity, broad. I hope many others will offer a lot more in coming months; for now, treat these ideas as a start.
First up, recognise the road to the next elections starts today. Improving them will be an ongoing effort. It will require engagement, pressure and assistance, every year from now to 2022. The chart below shows my estimates of Australian aid spending devoted to elections in PNG since 2002 (data and sources here). As you can see, the post-2012 effort was inconsistent and less than previous elections. This isnt the aid programs fault. In between aid cuts and the death of AusAID, it was a tumultuous time. Even so, theres still a lesson from 2017: improving elections requires substantial, sustained engagement. It requires staff devoted to the task and it requires the steady accumulation of contextual knowledge.
Estimated Australian aid for elections 2002-2017
After a week of counting, we are starting to get final ward results declared in some of the fifteen big councils Ive been covering. Im going to use this post to update as we get waves of results over the next few days.
Four of five wards have been declared in Bayside, including the only uncertain race. The Botany Bay and Rockdale wards each produced a result of one Labor, one Liberal and one independent (James Macdonald in Botany Bay and Andrew Tsounis in Rockdale). Mascot and Port Botany wards produced a result of two Labor and one Liberal. The second Labor candidate in Mascot defeated Greens candidate Greta Werner by only 119 votes. The Bexley ward has not yet been declared, but Labor, Liberal and independent Liz Barlow are all on track to win one seat each. This would produce a result of seven Labor, five Liberal and two independents.
Labors Glen Richardson defeated Our Local Communitys Eddy Sarkis by just fifteen votes in the Greystanes ward of Cumberland council, in addition to another Labor councillor and a Liberal councillor. This puts Labor on track for at least six, and possibly as many as nine seats, on the council.
Labor, Liberal and independent Nancy Liu were elected in the Hurstville ward of Georges River council. Labor has won at least five seats, with a chance of winning as many as seven seats, but the chance of either party forming a majority appears to have faded.
Labor has won two seats, and independent Allan Robinson one, in the fourth ward of Newcastle council. The mayoral election and the other three wards appear to be locked in, producing a result of seven Labor, four independents, one Green and one Liberal.
Independent Lorraine Wearne, Labor and Liberal have each won one seat in the Epping ward of Parramatta council. The council appears to be on track for six Liberals, five Labor councillors, Lorraine Wearne and three others yet to be decided. Two of those seats could go to the Greens, and two local parties are also in the race for those three seats.
Labor, Liberal and Anthony Andrews have each won a seat in the Central ward of Randwick council. The other four wards appear to be clear, leading to a result of five Labor, four Liberals, three Greens and three independents.
Ok, I suddenly realised that my title sounded a bit sexist. Perhaps I should clarify that I want a male stripper. Although I guess thats definitely sexist Anyway, while trying to explain the whole Lionel Murphy thing to someone, I started talking about the nature of politics and how when you do something as incompetent
The post Stripper Wanted I have this great idea for a short film appeared first on The AIM Network.
Possibly the most misunderstood person in politics today: Hunter Valley Bushfire: Hunter Valley homes at risk, Tony Abbott joins fire fight.
Tony Abbott has been hailed as a hero after saving a house from ember attack while battling a bushfire burning near his Sydney northern beaches electorate of Warringah.
This afternoon embers from the Beacon Hill bushfire ignited local resident Barry Cafes fence.
Mr Cafe told local paper the Manly Daily that it wasnt every day that a former prime minister saves your home.
I told everybody, Im fine, Tonys here, he said.
Hes a top bloke We couldnt do without them (the Rural Fire Service).
In the letters section of this weeks Economist
You dont Say
The term Says Law, (Economics brief, August 12th) was invented by the American economist, Fred Taylor, and popularised in his introductory text, published in 1921. Moreover, the phrase supply creates its own demand is not classical in origin, but was first used in print by another American economist, Harlan McCracken, in a text that John Maynard Keynes is known to have read while he was writing the General Theory. Jean-Baptiste Say neither invented the concept nor was he its most staunch defender.
School of Economics, Finance and Marketing
Why Im looking forward to my first gay marriage By David Ayliffe Im a celebrant and I love performing weddings. You meet people at such wonderful and exciting times. Performing their wedding is always a privilege and a joy for me. Often the couples I marry remain friends on Facebook where I keep up
If Australian Governments feel free to treat citizen minorities as lesser than others, what kind of privilege does Australian citizenship really represent? read now...
As a baby-boomer heading at breakneck speed toward my seventieth birthday (though still 3 years away) I have just recently come to the heartbreaking conclusion that it is all over for me. No, not life, but the party the metaphorical party that sustained me for these last forty years on a roller-coaster of self-sustaining
Denis Bright seeks discussion on the implications of the Adani Carmichael Coal Project on the forthcoming state elections. The electoral impact zone of the Adani project will be in the marginal regional state coastal electorates between Townsville and Rockhampton as well as some leafy suburbs of Brisbane and on the Sunshine Coast. The latter attracted
The post The Adani Factor in the Queensland Elections: Changing to a More Sustainable Coal Export Model appeared first on The AIM Network.
So, faced with a campaign of fear, uncertainty and doubt from
National, Labour has backed away from any plans to introduce a
capital gains tax if elected, and instead
punted such decisions until 2020:
Labour will wait until a second term before any tax changes from their working group will be introduced.
It made the u-turn after sustained attacks from the National Party over the vagueness of its tax plans.
Other than their already announced polices - such as cancelling National's planned tax cuts, extending the bright line test to five years, and introducing water and tourist levies - no new taxes or changes will kick in before the next election, Labour said on Thursday.
In 2010 the National Party suspended Cantabrians' democratic
right to elect their local government, and imposed a dictatorship
give their water away to farmers. Now, the people of Canterbury
taking their democracy back:
Around 100 water activists have stormed the offices of Environment Canterbury (Ecan) in Christchurch on Thursday morning.
The group is demanding that local democracy be returned to the people of Canterbury so they can get on with saving the region's ailing rivers.
"We are standing up for our rivers and we are taking our democracy back," says Greenpeace campaigner Gen Toop.
"We will not to be silenced and we will not stand aside and let our rivers continue to be destroyed by too many cows."
Two weeks ago, I wrote about the operation of the ABCC under Nigel Hadgkiss. In April last year, a case brought by Nigel Hadgkiss against the CFMEU was labelled an abuse of process by the judge who ruled the director of Fair Work was being unjustifiably vexatious and was seeking to relitigate matters that had
Remembering Lionel Keith Murphy 30.08.1922 21.10.1986 Lionel Keith Murphy, of William an Irish immigrant and Lily born Murphy, Sydney 1922. Outstanding student, budding larrikin early scholastic achievements encouraged his questioning, sharpened his tools for the liberation of the spirit. An oddity? an early resister? a Jew-lover? Or simply a man destined
Why it is almost impossible to dislodge the false assumption a man in an expensive suit is a competent leader. read now...
Thursday 14 September It only seems like yesterday that I wrote what follows. Indeed, It was Tuesday 13 September in the year 2016, one year ago. Tony Abbott had started the defence of his legacy and a bit of shit stirring. As I read what I had written twelve months ago It occurred to me
The post Day to Day Politics: As governments go, they are the worst ever. appeared first on The AIM Network.
Last week the 48th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting was held in Apia, Samoa. The meetings theme, the Blue Pacific, was unsurprising given this years focus on oceans. But it was interesting nonetheless, given the increasing use of terms like the blue economy (PIDF) or blue Pacific (PIFS) to define Pacific regionalism much as the Pacific Way was used in the past.
This year was the first since the establishment of the Framework for Pacific Regionalism not to include a process through which the public are invited to make submissions on what leaders should discuss. That process, which sees proposals assessed by a Specialist Sub Committee on Regionalism (the SSCR), was never intended to occur every year. Its absence this year might therefore be explained in terms of needing to take stock of issues raised previously. Except, many issues identified through the process previously, and which we would expect to see followed up, have seemingly been set aside. They are cervical cancer, ICT, and improved business processes for the private sector.
Another likely explanation for the absence of a public submission process is political. The public consultation process in previous years has raised contentious issues time and time again. Last year, 13 of 48 submissions concerned West Papua much to the dissatisfaction of the Australian, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinean governments. This year, in contrast, discussion of West Papua was limited to one un-critical line in the Forum Communiqu.
Climate change was still prominent, but in terms agreeable to all. Well, almost all. The Prime Minister of Tuvalu, Enele Sopoaga, vented his frustration after the Forum both at its failure to endorse Tuvalus proposal for climate change insurance, and at its focus on issues not directly relevant to the Forum members, such as North Korea: The Forum is supposed to discuss issues from its members and small island states Why should they come to a Forum that only supports political wishes of the big countries?
Notwithstanding this outburst, the Forum Leaders meeting this year did f...
The British fought three wars in Afghanistan over an 80-year period. They finally left this graveyard for empires in 1919, only to eventually be replaced by the Soviet Union in the late 70s, and the U.S. in the aftermath of 9/11.
A lack of change in the kind of work we do, is a sign of economic decline.
Very interesting about Afghanistan is its evolution, or lack thereof. In a recent snapshot of the dysfunctional country, New York Times reporter Rod Nordland noted that It is striking how little the rural Afghan landscape has changed between the early 19th and 21st centuries. The mud-walled fortifications of those days can still be seen throughout the country, and some of them are still in use as military facilities today.
The picture painted by Nordland brings to mind the roughly 30-year gap in visits to the former Soviet Union by former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. In his 2006 autobiography, The Age of Turbulence, Greenspan recalled how the equipment used by laborers in the country hadnt changed a bit in the decades in between.
Greenspans point was that a lack of change in how we do work, and the kind of work we do, is a sign of economic decline.
The New York Example
Which brings us to New York City. Interesting about it is that right before the Civil War began, New York was a city of factories. 11 percent of its jobs were in manufacturing. Right through the first 3rd of the twentieth century, New York City was the #1 manufacturing locale in the United States.
But its decidedly not a manufacturing city today. Not in the least. Who knows what the number is, assuming there is one, but the number of manufacturing jobs in New York City is likely close to zero. Its too expensive to manufacture on land thats so valuable, plus manufacturing jobs would be a waste of the skills of NYCs inhabitants. As Ken Auletta long ago put it about New York, For those with talent, this city is the final test.
The alleged loss of a certain form of work would never signal a citys deterioration.
While it will be by some, the above shouldnt be construed as an elitist comment. Its an economic statement. That manufacturing long ago departed New York is a sign of the citys immense wealth. The average worker in New York City is too valuable and too talented to waste on assembly inside a factory. The latter is similarly true for nearly every American worker, and its merely an expression of what market signals regularly communicate to us: low factory pay around the world is the markets way of telling us that the human element of assembly is no longer as crucial as it once was. Translated, Americans are too productive to work in factories.
It probably wont surprise anyone who knows me well that Ill be voting Yes in the Same Sex Marriage postal survey. After all, Im a small-l liberal, non-religious legal academic with many friends in same-sex relationships. Im the stereotypical Yes voter. But I have become increasingly concerned that the Yes vote will not win, despite the fact that the majority of my friends on Facebook have rainbow profile pictures. It seems my instinct is correct, according to an article earlier this week in the Canberra Times:
Support for same-sex marriage has crashed ahead of the Turnbull governments postal survey, and only two-thirds of voters are inclined to take part, according to the latest polling from same-sex marriage advocates.
At the start of a two-month campaign, the confidential research provided to Fairfax Media shows support for a no vote has risen, as has the number of people who say they dont know how they will vote.
And alarmingly for yes campaigners, turnout could be very low, with just 65 per cent of voters rating themselves as very likely to participate falling to 58 per cent among those aged 18 to 34.
On the other hand, my pessimism may be unwarranted, according to a later poll:
The yes side on same-sex marriage is headed for a resounding victory with seven out of 10 definite voters backing a change to the law, a Fairfax/Ipsos poll has found.
Some 65 per cent of respondents rated themselves certain to take part in the voluntary postal survey, and of those 70 per cent said they would vote yes.
If youre not Australian, you may be wondering why we have a postal survey on same-sex marriage at all: the short answer is that it was an election promise by the Coalition, and after they couldnt get a Bill for a compulsory plebiscite vote past the Senate, they opted for a survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. I think its been, from start to finish, a derogation of Parliamentary authority the whole point of representative democracy is that our representatives vote for us. As my two older kids said, If we can vote on this issue, why cant we vote on other issues? Why do they need our opinion on this? Good question, kids.
In this post, Ill outline why I am voting Yes. However, I dont intend to tell others how they should vote thats a matter for them...
Thinking aloud, who was the Minister who made light globes with mercury mandatory in Australia? Of course, our current PM. What is the latest on the costs and benefits of the different globes, in case it matters? Still it shows which way the wind was blowing for Mercury Mal. Apparently he wanted to double our power bills while the leader of the Opposition wants to triple them or thereabouts.
Mercury Mal vs Electricity Bill, how lucky can a country get?
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Sydney Light Rail CBD and South East Extention:
Mini Sky City Tower in China:
Sanyuan Bridge Overpass Replacement in Beijing China:
Jobs and growth. Jobs and growth. Jobs and growth.
Follow I Am Spartacus on Twitter at @Ey_am_Spartacus
You may think such a thing is impossible, and certainly impossible to prove, and even more certainly impossible for me to prove, but before you say that first you have to watch the presentation yourself. The venue is Los Angeles.
I also replied to the fellow who had invited me and sent the video because he wrote that I suggest the phrase Supply Creates the Means to Demand which is his own way of explaining Says Law to himself. And this is the way someone brought up in a Keynesian environment will understand these issues because it has become second nature to think in relation to demand. But unless you can break the habit that thinking an economy is driven by demand and not supply, it becomes impossible to understand classical theory, and in my view impossible to understand how a market economy works. So I wrote back with this:
Your note does remind me how difficult it is to understand since the issue of spending never seems to go away, which a supply-side economist, like Mill and myself, see as about as irrelevant to aggregate economic outcomes as it is possible to be. If you tell me that in a recession there is some kind of panic and credit freezes up and business ventures are not commenced at the same rate as in good times, I will say of course, but so too did JSM.
Thinking in money flows and in relation to spending will stop you from understanding Mill and thus, in my view, from understanding how an economy adjusts. Once you are thinking about whether people will spend their money and not whether entrepreneurs will try to open new businesses and expand old ones, you fall into the Keynesian trap from which economic theory has been unable to emerge for more than eighty years. A financial crisis stops the flow of credit but does not stop the desire of business people to set up new firms or expand the ones they already run, nor does it stop wage earners from trying to find jobs. A really bad downturn can take 2-3 years to get back to normal but things do re-arrange themselves. Having a government stimulus on top of all of the other disruptions in the flow of capital and labour into their most productive forms of contribution can extend the recession outwards for a much longer period of time, and like the situation right now everywhere round the world, it can prevent a serious recovery from ever gathering pace. The Japanese lost decade of the 1990s is now 25 years long! The notion that buyers will stop buying for years on end and businesses will stop trying to find ways to earn profits because there has been a downturn is not just incoherent but contrary to every historical situation in which...
So, apparently National MP Jian Yang
is a Chinese spy. Or went to university in China. Or is
Chinese. Or something. Apparently, this is something we should all
Care Deeply About because National Security and Agent of Influence
and Yellow Peril and so on. Except I can't, because raising it
during an election campaign just makes it seem like a nasty smear
of an MP based on their national origin, designed to whip up fear
of the Other.
I have no idea if the allegations are true or not. I'd be uncomfortable if they were, in the same way I'd be uncomfortable if a former member of the CIA or MI6 were a member of our government, because our MP's should work for us, not for other people (also, spying is an inherently unethical profession, so anyone who has ever worked for a spy agency fails the sniff test). But the problem is that we can never know one way or another. Calling someone a spy is pretty much irrefutable. It's like calling someone a meat-suit-wearing demon or a witch: any evidence to the contrary can (and will) just be viewed as another layer of deception. There's just no way of ever overcoming it.
(And on the flip side: if the SIS called a press conference tonight and announced that they'd been investigating Yang for years and were planning on arresting and charging him with espionage, given their past record of paranoia, delusion, and outright fantasy, I don't think we could take that as any evidence whatsoever. If the SIS said the Prime Minister had once defrauded the NZ taxpayer of $32,000 by lying about where he lived, I'd have to check, because they probably just read it on the internet somewhere, put the worst possible slant on it, then presented it as irrefutable truth. In fact, they're probably going "Jian Yang is a spy" right now, based solely on these media reports...)
But while I'd be uncomfortable if the allegation was true, what makes me even more uncomfortable is that it is being made at all, and especially during an election campaign. It's a sort of toxic, paranoid politics seen in xenophobic places like Australia and the US who are obsessed with Foreign Enemies (you know, things NZ doesn't have, because we want to get along with everyone). We've been here before with Muldoon calling people "communists", smearing people as foreign agents based on their political beliefs. Here, we're invited to do it on the colour of someone's skin, with an implicit premise that any kiwi born in a foreign country (or at least, a foreign country blighted with a repressive government) is untrustworthy and Not A Real Kiwi. But if the cost of "national security" is accepting premises like that, then I'd rather disband NZDF, SIS, GCSB and the rest of their corrupting apparatus, an...
By Dr George Venturini Heinz Alfred Henry Kissinger obtained a Ph.D. at Harvard University in 1954. His interest was on Castelreagh and Metternich two empire builders. He devoted his life to sublimate them. In an incendiary, studiedly defamatory book the late Christopher Hitchens described him as a mediocre and opportunist academic [intent on] becoming
A fortnight ago, Labour announced its bid for the student vote,
with a plan to
boost student allowances by $50 a week and gradually make tertiary
study free. Today the Greens have responded with their own
student support package which builds on Labour's. They're
suggesting a smaller overall boost to allowances - 20% (so about
$40) rather than a flat $50. But the counter to that is the
introduction of a universal (and higher) student allowance for
post-graduate students. They'd also remove National's unfair
lifetime borrowing and allowance limits, which prevent people from
continuing study at a time when qualification inflation and rapid
changes in employment have made it necessary.
The policy is definitely compatible with Labour's, and the differences are primarily a matter of which problem gets addressed first. Meanwhile, all National is offering students is poverty and debt and workplace exploitation. I guess they just don't want the votes of any students whose parents aren't already filthy rich.
Actor Sam Neill has called on Bill English to immediately take in Rohingya refugees who are fleeing worsening bloodshed in Myanmar.
Neill has tweeted English urging him to take in "many" refugees from "the most desperate circumstances", adding, "do the right thing Bill".
That plea comes after the Green Party in Australia called on the Turnbull government to take in 20,000 Rohingya refugees in an emergency intake similar to that set up after the violence in Syria.
Australia is having an energy crisis. A country with such abundant resources is incapable it seems, of handling matters of reliable supply, either in terms of affordability, or in terms of delivery. The situation has been further muddied by the inability of the parties in parliament to find common ground. The gloves are off, and
The post Energy Chaos in Australia: Closing the Liddell Power Station appeared first on The AIM Network.
Wednesday 13 September 2017 The latest polling would suggest that I was wrong. Last week in a piece titled Time to take Shorten Seriously I wrote that: The Coalition has for sometime been running a concerted character assassination job on the Leader of the Opposition but thus far has been unable to land a telling
IBAC is partnering with the Victorian Ombudsman (VO), Victorian Auditor-Generals Office (VAGO) and the Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA) Victoria to convene an engaging conference to help prevent public sector corruption and strengthen integrity. The conference will also include a special focus on police oversight and integrity issues.
The Corruption Prevention and Integrity Conference will be held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, over two days, on 3 4 October 2017. Details here.
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