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Friday, 14 December


Liberals go for Peak Stupid "IndyWatch Feed"

Just when we thought the Liberals could not get worse.

A Religious Freedom Commissioner in the Human Rights Commission.

As John Roskam mused, think about someone like Dr Tim Soutphommasane or Gillian Triggs in the chair. She wanted to regulate whats said around the family kitchen table so you can imagine her concern about what might be said in church and church schools.

Who needs the ALP with leadership like that in the Coalition?


John Wren's week: Parliamentary bills, Aussies in space and a Federal ICAC "IndyWatch Feed"

John Wren's week: Parliamentary bills, Aussies in space and a Federal ICACJohn examines the encryption bill, Australia's entry into the space program and the truth behind the long-awaited Federal ICAC. read now...


At last, with political parties hopelessly divided, the war on Xmas and coal lands ... "IndyWatch Feed"

The pond reeled back in shock and alarm at nattering "Ned's" astonishing insight - the main parties disagreed, they're divided!! Split, and possibly full of splitters ...

Who'd have guessed it, who'd have thunk it? Now there'd be no harmony over Xmas, all was rooned, and yet yesterday, all the pond's troubles seemed so far away, now it looks as the divisive days are here to stay, and there's a shadow hanging over politics oh yesterday came suddenly and now the pond needs a place to hide away

Or some such thing, because the reptiles are truly alarmed, with Dame Groan earning her lavish salary by going full racist


Hmm, too many viewings of Midnight Express, the pond suspects. Cut back to no more than once a month, and perhaps substitute the Ayran purity of a Leni Riefenstahl film or three oh, and avoid hanging around Rick's Caf where all those bloody globalists congregate talking of free trade and imported coffee beans

Never mind, what relief this day brings, because the pond had thought it had avoided the war on Christmas, but suddenly there it was, full-blown, an epic sound and fury, and a braying of carols

Holy Jane Campion smoke indeed



Tweet of the Week "IndyWatch Feed"


Quotes of the Week "IndyWatch Feed"

If you want to know what caused those conditions, Ill give you an answer its called climate change, the Queensland premier told reporters. It is only the LNP who could watch Queensland burn and then blame the trees.  [Queensland Premier Anna Palaszczukquoted in The Guardian, 7 December 2018]

Last year, more Australians bought their seventh home than those who bought their first  [Journalist Timothy Swanston quoting an incorrect statment by Queensland Minister for Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni, ABC News, 8 December 2018]

 Most people just consider Assange a spoilt-brat egomaniac with murky motives, a limelight habit and some profoundly questionable political affiliations.  [Journalist...


Identity politics is reactionary "IndyWatch Feed"

Peter Baldwin continues the series of articles on the site of the Blackheath Philosophy Forum looking at identity politics.

Old progressive verities have been turned on their heads. The aspiration to transcend race is now denounced as racist. Affirming the right to freely discuss and criticize religions can lead to charges of Islamophobia

This is not the Left I signed up to at the start of my political career in the early 1970s. That Left, with all its defects, at least had certain things basically right, such as the attitude to race and to freedom of speech (with the important exception of the pro-communist element that was then quite powerful through its influence on the trade unions and, through them, the Labor Left).

I have been both appalled and puzzled by this

I am often surprised to hear strong agreement from people who I assumed would be solidly in the PC camp. Yet there is generally a pronounced reluctance to express such views openly, especially on the part of academics who are obviously terrified of the social and professional death frequently reserved for ideological heretics.


It's time to go, ScoMo "IndyWatch Feed"

It's time to go, ScoMoHaving felt the strain of a Right-wing government for so long, the benefits of a change to the Left would be welcome. read now...


Torches and pitchforks time "IndyWatch Feed"

Appalling news from the UK today, with a report from the TUC showing that the average worker is earning a third less in real terms than they did in 2008:

Research by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) found that the average worker has lost 11,800 in real earnings since 2008.

The UK has suffered the worst real wage slump among leading economies, said the union organisation.

The biggest losses have been in areas including the London borough of Redbridge, Epsom and Waverley in Surrey, Selby in North Yorkshire and Anglesey in north Wales, the studyfound.

Workers have suffered real wage losses ranging from just under 5,000 in the north-east to more than 20,000 in London, said the report.

(In most other rich countries, wages rose. NZ isn't on that, but playing around with NZ.Stat and the Reserve Bank's inflation calculator shows they rose by 17 - 19%, depending on which column you prefer)

And to make the obvious comparison: its worse than Greece, which suffered a decade-long economic crisis exacerbated by EU-imposed austerity. There, wages have only fallen by ~15% (see second-to-last graph). But in Greece, GDP collapsed. In the UK, it has risen (by ~5% per-capita over that period). So where did the money go? Straight into the pockets of the rich, who are doing very well, thankyouverymuch, while impoverishing everybody else.

This is simply naked theft, and UKanians should be marching on parliament with torches and pitchforks demanding their money back. Sadly, they're unlikely to actually stand up for themselves, and so they'll continue being looted by their bloodsucking upper classes.


Brexit: The endgame "IndyWatch Feed"

On 29 March this year[1,2], if nothing else changes, the UK will leave the European Union under the terms of Article 50. Unsurprisingly, lots of scenarios are being scripted, but the one I see as most likely doesnt seem to be among them.

I expect that nothing much will happen until about 28 March. May wont get a deal that can pass through Parliament. If she allows a vote at all, it wont be until late January and it wont pass. At that point, or possibly before, Labor will try a motion of no-confidence which will also not pass. There will be a push for a second referendum, but that will be stymied by the fact that the current law requires a minimum of 12 weeks to hold such an exercise, and that will be too late. There may also be an attempt to get an extension of time for the Article 50 notice, but at least one of the EU27 will find a reason to block it.

May will keep stalling for time, as she has done since taking office, until the deadline approaches. At that point, the ports will start to clog up, as shippers try to move goods across the channel before the No Deal exit. There will be attempts to negotiate temporary No Deal deals to smooth the flow, but they wont go anywhere. By March 28, or maybe a bit earlier, panic buying will empty supermarket shelves and stockpiles of medicine.

At that point, the prospect of NO Deal will become too terrifyingly real to contemplate and there will be only one option left. Britain unilaterally revokes its Article 50 declaration, and everyone agrees to forget the whole sorry business.

Feel free to point out plot holes, or suggest your own script.

fn1. Rather less momentously, I will turn 63.
fn2. Its generally good to be cautious about revealing your birthdate online. But mine is on Wikipedia, so I guess theres no harm in that.


In which the pond celebrates Xmas with the Speccie mob ... "IndyWatch Feed"

The pond stopped doing two posts a day awhile ago, but it's the Xmas season, and the pond has no problem being theologically and politically correct, and wishing everyone happy holydays and a Merry Xmas or a splendid Saturnalia for those so inclined ...

The pond missed the culture wars this year, Zwarte Piet and all that stuff, and couldn't even get excited about the recent fuss

Google away, but baby, it's warm outside, and a bit sodden and humid too

What did excite the pond was that the Speccie mob had bunged on an Xmas special

Now a line had to be drawn watching that refugee Pom Brendan O'Neill try to make a living with excursions down under was a bridge too far, but the pond decided to relent on the Bolter and sure enough the humbug revealed enough to keep a Freudian in work for a year


Newstart living akin to house arrest "IndyWatch Feed"

Newstart living akin to house arrestTrying to survive on the Newstart allowance severely limits what a recipient can do, including looking for work, writes Aidan Jarvis. read now...


Little lays down the law to the GCSB "IndyWatch Feed"

Yesterday we learned from the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security that the GCSB appeared to be breaking the law, by using Type 2 warrants (which have a lower level of oversight and scrutiny) to illegally scoop up New Zealanders' private communications. Today, Intelligence Minister Andrew Little made it clear that that was unacceptable:

Minister of spies Andrew Little has backed the intelligence agencies' oversight body as it raised questions about the legal basis relied on by the GCSB to carry out electronic surveillance operations which captured New Zealanders' communications.


Little said he had personally pushed back on "Type 2" warrants to ensure it was the most appropriate form of authorisation. "Part of my role is to probe and question."

"If New Zealanders are going to have their privacy interfered with in more than an incidental way, or there is a possibility New Zealanders are going to be caught up in an area of activity they are going to go after, there would have to be a Type 1 warrant."

Gwyn's report said the GCSB should be seeking a Type 1 warrant when it knew it was likely to incidentally pick up New Zealanders' communications.

Little has also made it clear that in the absence of formal advice from the Solicitor General, spy agencies should defer to the legal interpretation of the Inspector-General. Which should help enormously in bringing these rogue agencies under control.

But this isn't just an abstract legal argument: people's privacy has been invaded, their private communications are likely to have been unlawfully intercepted, snooped through and stored. All of which is likely to constitute an unlawful search under s21 BORA. Will those responsible be held accountable? Will they be prosecuted or fired? I think we all know that the answer to those questions is "no". Which means there's no incentive for the spies not to engage in similar abuses in future.


Death where is thy sting? "IndyWatch Feed"

The back cover of a book I picked up on the weekend titled, The Dying Generations: Perspectives on the Environmental Crisis. It is filled with doom and gloom about our ecological future and published in 1971, not only before global warming came on the scene but even before global cooling. These people are psychos, looking for a cause and a meaning in life. Pathetic, sad, but extremely dangerous.


The SIS conducted unlawful searches "IndyWatch Feed"

Two years ago, we had a series of rulings about police access to banking records, which found that their practice of asking banks to "voluntarily" disclose information on their customers violated people's privacy and constituted an unreasonable (and thus unlawful) search under s21 BORA. Of course, it wasn't just the police asking for banking records: the SIS also did it. And somewhat predictably, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has found that they too violated the law.

The full report is here. It summarises the caselaw and SIS practices, and there's some fascinating suggestions of how widespread this practice was: the IGIS studied requests from a 3-month period in 2016, and selected 13 cases for examination in greater detail. Assuming they selected half or fewer of the cases, and that volume in that period was not unusually high, that suggests the SIS were making at least a hundred "voluntary" demands for people's private banking information a year, some of which were for 12 or 24 months worth of data and thus highly intrusive. The IGIS's conclusion:

Service policies and procedures provided some effective guidance for NZSIS staff and enabled a degree of record-keeping, but did not adequately ensure compliance with all relevant legal obligations. I did not make formal individual assessments of the legality or propriety of particular case requests, but, based on my review of the sample of cases, although over a short period, it is likely that some of the past collection constituted unreasonable searches contrary to s 21 BORA.

Which raises the obvious question: will the SIS apologise to and compensate their victims, as the police did to Nicky Hager? And will those responsible be held accountable? Or will unlawful behaviour by the government be allowed to pass unpunished?

The good news is that the Intelligence and Security Act 2017 created a statutory regime for requesting such information, which is subject to full IGIS oversight. There are a number of recommendations about future practice under this regime, aimed at ensuring the SIS obeys the BORA and the Privacy Act, and the IGIS will be keeping a close eye on it in future. But there's also a disturbing hint that this regime may already be being abused:
The frame...


ECan votes to poison people "IndyWatch Feed"

Industrial dairy on the Canterbury plains is poisoning Christchurch's water and turning it into a carcinogen. So what is ECan doing about this crisis? Raising the legal limit for nitrate so they can pretend it doesn't exist!

Christchurch drinking water will be able to contain more nitrates from pollution for the next 50 to 100 years, Environment Canterbury (ECan) has decided.

The elevated level of 3.8 milligrams of nitrates per litre of water was proposed by the Waimakariri Water Zone Committee, due to polluted water flowing into aquifers from North Canterbury dairy farms.

ECan councillors Lan Pham and Iaean Cranwell voted against the proposal at Thursday afternoon's meeting.

Because nothing can be allowed to interfere with the sacred cow of industrial dairy - not even the health of one of our major cities.

This decision needs to be reversed, and industrial dairying regulated down to a level consistent with human and environmental health. As for how to do that, local body elections are next year, and for the first time in 9 years Cantabrians will be able to vote for a fully elected council. While ECan is currently trying to gerrymander itself to silence the city and ensure a majority of farmers and polluters - including an undemocratic proposal for dairy polluters Ngai Tahu to appoint two members to the council - people still have to get elected. So, if you live in Canterbury, vote for clean water, and against any candidate who is a farmer or dairy apologist.

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Thursday, 13 December


Civilization advances one coal-fired power station at a time "IndyWatch Feed"

A nice link from Peter in comments. And Australian coal exports will thrive for many decades to come. Pity the public service is the main beneficiary in Queensland.


If you have true Faith, prepare to defend your rites "IndyWatch Feed"

Today in The Australian

In a year best characterised as plot by Dostoevsky, script by Groucho Marx, it was perhaps fitting that the Senate celebrated Christmas by considering legislation that would have prevented Christian schools from teaching the doctrines of Jesus Christ.


White elephants of the sea: The French-Australian submarine agreement "IndyWatch Feed"

White elephants of the sea: The French-Australian submarine agreementThe Australian navy has made an agreement to purchase a dozen submarines from France, but the deal isn't without complications. read now...


Who's a good reptile? "IndyWatch Feed"


The reptiles never waste an opportunity to induce nausea in the pond and this day they played the "faith at heart of family values" card

Well they could hardly play the "faith at heart of religious values" card, could they

What a tempting line up, and look, there's the Pellist being axed from the team, apparently because he was an "elderly senior tautologically compelled adviser" to the Pope

But the pond is inclined to perversity, so it turned to our Henry for inspiration

and the pond's intuition was immediately rewarded. Our Henry as Richard the Lion Heart? Our Henry as crusader in chief?

Even more weird just look at the Krygsman illustration the reptiles prepared for our Henry's hole in the bucket crusade ......



Morrisons health handout is bad policy (but might be good politics "IndyWatch Feed"

Morrisons health handout is bad policy (but might be good politics)

File 20181213 110249 1y7kc3t.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1The funding proposal is no fix for Australias health system but it could take some political pressure off the Coalition in the lead up to the 2019 federal election.
OnE studio/Shutterstock

Stephen Duckett, Grattan Institute

The A$1.25 billion Community Health and Hospitals Program Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced this week should be awarded a big policy fail.

The move sets back Commonwealth-state relations by decades and its unclear exactly how much money will actually be provided.

Rather than being based on any coherent policy direction, it appears designed to shore up support in marginal electorates.

Bad for Commonwealth-state relations

One of the complicating factors in providing health care to Australians is the fact that the Commonwealth and states each have leadership roles in different parts of the system: the Commonwealth for primary care; and the states for public hospitals.

Health professionals yearn for the Holy Grail of a single level of government being responsible for all aspects of a patients care. That quest has proved illusory. But recent policy direction has at least sought to clarify the roles of the two levels of government.

Read more:
Public hospital blame game heres how we got into this funding mess



Australias Chief Scientist gives the Clarence Valleys Daily Examiner a polite serve "IndyWatch Feed"

This is what happens when a once proud 159 year-old newspaperis brought by Rupert Murdochs News Corpand begins to publish the political rot that Andrew Bolt spews forth.

The Daily Examiner, letter to the Editor, 11 December 2018, p.13:

Doing nothing on climate change not an option

On Tuesday, December 4 you published an opinion piece by Andrew Bolt titled, Less marching, more learning, which included a reference to me admitting that we could stop all Australias emissions junk every car, shut every power station, put a cork in every cow and the effect on the climate would still be virtually nothing.

Those are Andrew Bolts words, not mine, and they are a complete misrepresentation of my position....


Human Rights 2018: when forgetting is not a good thing "IndyWatch Feed"

The Guardian, 11 December 2018:

As those who lived through two world wars die out, taking with them real memories of past atrocities, the world is back on a path to self-destruction, a leading authority on torture has warned.

Human rights are facing a worrying backlash from a global community that has failed to learn the lesson of the past.

Speaking exclusively to the Guardian, the United Nations special rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer, said the global community had become complacent in the face of injustice because the world no longer understood why human rights should be protected or what the world would look like without them.

I dont think its a coincidence that 70 years after world war two, when the last witnesses of past atrocities are dying away, we start to see human rights being questioned on a broad scale, said...


Rafes Roundup 14 Dec "IndyWatch Feed"

Another addition, the Blackheath Philosophy Forum.

Feature article. The racism of the left on display in the Guardian.

In no particular order. Australian Institute for Progress, The Institute of Public Affairs IPA, the Centre for Independent Studies CIS, The Sydney Institute, Mannkal Economic Education Foundation, Quadrant On Line, The Australian Taxpayers Alliance, Tim Blair, Andrew Norton, the classical liberal in Carlton, Rite-ON admirable Queensland activists!, The Menzies Research Centre, Jim Rose Utopia You Are Standing in It. LibertyWorks.

Still building and looking at more specialised sites.

Overseas. Spiked, Cato Institute, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Dan Mitchell.

Climate. Viv Forbes Carbon Sense, Watts Up With That?, Jo Nova, The Global Warming Policy Forum, Global Coal Plant Tracker, Tony From Oz,

Education and Culture. Heterodox Academy. Accuracy in Academia, Intellectual Takeout, Institute for Humane Studies.

For Nerds. Rafes Rathouse,...


World leaders abandon the sinking ship in Poland while the southern ocean cools "IndyWatch Feed"

Two great posts from Jo Nova. World leaders stay away from Poland apart from islanders from the non-sinking islands looking for money. And the Great Southern Ocean is cooling instead of warming. Could there be a problem with the models?


2018 Victorian state election : Left / Right : Results! "IndyWatch Feed"

See : 2018 Victorian state election : far right (and left) candidates (November 10, 2018). As the results have now been finalised (see : ABC | VEC), I thought Id take a look and see how the (far) left and Continue reading


China gets the message. Keep the coal fires burning "IndyWatch Feed"

if for power youre yearning. With apologies to Vera Lynn. If you really want the home fires.

A recent report from the activist group CoalSwarm included satellite imagery that shows many coal-fired power projects that were halted by the Chinese government have quietly been restarted. In total, 46.7 gigawatts (GW) of new and restarted coal-fired power construction are either generating power or will soon be operational. If all the plants reach completion, they alone would increase Chinas coal-fired power capacity by 4%.

Abroad, it is the same story. By the end of 2016, as part of the Belt and Road Initiative, China is involved in 240 coal-fired power projects in 25 BRI countries with a total installed capacity of 251 GW,27 making it the most important global player in the development of coal-fired power projects.

Over the past year, demand for energy is up substantially, as high as 15% in the case of natural gas. Given the overwhelming need to boost economic growth, climate change issues are largely absent from official action: Chinese authorities are focused on securing these energy supplies.

Many of Chinas initiatives, including much of its Belt and Road (BRI) development initiative are focused on serving the countrys need for energy, through the building of pipelines, power facilities and ports in more than 70 countries. In particular it focuses on:
securing natural gas and oil supplies:
imports through pipelines from Myanmar and Turkmenistan
planned imports via the nearly completed Russian Power of Siberia10 project
and a proposed Power of Siberia 2 pipeline
from the Middle East, via pipelines through Gwadar, Pakistan to Kashgar, China
securing LNG supplies from as far away as Equatorial Guinea, Angola, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, Australia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, Qatar, the United States and Canada, as well as from Russias Yamal project13 along a Polar Silk Road.
securing oil supplies from Oman, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Angola, Iraq, UAE, Kuwait, Colombia, Kazakhstan, Congo, South Sudan, Brazil, Venezuela, and Canada.


Christian Porter: We Have Announced A Watchdog And We Wont Have Anyone Say A Word Against Chihuahuas! "IndyWatch Feed"

Big News! The Morrison government has announced a policy on a federal corruption body. Apparently theyve been working on it for a long time. In fact, theyve been working on it even before we had our latest PM. They were even working on it at the time they told us that they we didnt need

The post Christian Porter: We Have Announced A Watchdog And We Wont Have Anyone Say A Word Against Chihuahuas! appeared first on The AIM Network.


Lets dance "IndyWatch Feed"

Rather than joining those who examine the entrails of what happened in the past 12 months and makes a narrative around the good, the bad and the ugly, how about we raise the tone a tad and look at attitudes and consensus. Wasnt the last week of Parliament fun? Effectively the coalition government wanted to

The post Lets dance appeared first on The AIM Network.


Nice try guys but I dont think anyones buying it "IndyWatch Feed"

Scott Morrison and Christian Porter gave a press conference today to announce their response to the Ruddock review into religious freedom and the formation of a National Integrity Commission. In explaining the need for religious freedom legislation and a Religious Freedom Commissioner at the AHRC, Scott started out by telling us what a religious country

The post Nice try guys but I dont think anyones buying it appeared first on The AIM Network.


Be Offensive and Be Damned: The Cases of Peter Ridd and Tim Anderson "IndyWatch Feed"

It has been an ordinary year for universities in Australia. While the National Tertiary Education Union pats itself on the back for supposedly advancing the rights and pay of academics, several face removal and castigation at the hands of university management. Consumerism and pay are the sort of quotidian matters that interest the NTEU. Less

The post Be Offensive and Be Damned: The Cases of Peter Ridd and Tim Anderson appeared first on The AIM Network.


The unspoken crimes of the ASX Part 4 "IndyWatch Feed"

The unspoken crimes of the ASX Part 4Benjamin John Pauley this time focuses on media interference in the Australian Stock Exchange. read now...


A modern libertarian discusses the problems of immigration "IndyWatch Feed"

This is from Gary North in the Journal of Libertarian Studies: The Sanctuary Society and its Enemies

In the United States today, the waiting period for citizenship is as short as five years. The waiting period is similar in other democratic nations. This, not the threat of economic competition, is the problem of immigration for the free society. Because the citizen authoritatively declares the law and seeks to impose it on others, he can become a threat to the free society. The problem is the moral content of his confession of faith and his possession of civil sanctions, not his productivity and his possession of economic sanctions. Mises was short-sighted here: a nineteenth-century, anti-clerical, would-be value-free analyst, i.e., a liberal. It is not the welfare state as such that creates the problem of immigration; rather, it is the confession of faith of the would-be immigrants. If their confession inherently threatens the moral and judicial foundations of the free society, then immigration is a problem, with or without the presence today of a welfare state. Freedom is based on more than private contracts. It is based on a moral vision, which includes a vision of the moral boundaries of the state.

This is the single most important issue of our time. Read it all.


David Bidstrup on the summer power rip-off "IndyWatch Feed"

The other day I submitted an article analysing 2018 YTD costs for wholesale electricity in the 5 states that make up the national electricity market. It did not fly but my interest was aroused again today when an article in the state of darkness daily rag talked about the big battery helping to drive down costs.

Using the data from the YTD analysis and adding December 2017 I have looked at the summer costs, (December 2017 + January 2018 + February 2018) for QLD, NSW, VIC, TAS and SA to see what the differences are. These are wholesale prices before the transmission people and the retailing parasites add their margins and presumably before the RET subsidies are distributed. Remember also, it is supposed to be a national market.

For each state I found the percentage of time that price/MWh was above $150, the actual cost of the electricity consumed in these periods and the percentage of the total summer cost that it represented. The editor cannot reproduce the table or the chart and it may have to await the return of Sinc to see the results most clearly. They can be summarised as follows.

Victoria and South Australia were outstanding in the amount of time when the price was more than $150 per MWh and the amount of the total bill for the summer period that was racked up on those high cost days. The amount of time in the high cost zone ranged from 0.4% for NSW, 0.7% for Qld, 2.1% for Tasmania, 2.4% for Victoria and 4.9% for SA. The highest cost for the period showed a huge range from $280/MWh in NSW through 2,500 in Qld, 4,200 in Tasmania, to 12,900 in Victoria and the gold medal at 14,16676.50 in SA.

Another way to report the difference between the states is to count the % of the total summertime costs that were incurred during those short periods when the price was above 150.MWh.

The folk in NSW have it easy. They had 4.97% of the time with prices above $150/MWh and the total percentage of the summer bill was just 1.47.

SA and VIC, the renewables states were not so fortunate. For the 2.43% of time in VIC the percentage of the summer bill was 32.96. In SA, the state of darkness and rank stupidity it was 45.39% of the total summer bill for 4.9% of the time.

A chart that cannot be reproduced here shows the gigantic spikes in SA and Victoria on Jan 18 and 19 when consumers were flogged with when prices up $14,000+ per MWh as the system was about to fall over. TAS managed to get free power when SA and VIC were paying through the nose.

As I said, this is supposed to be a national market. Clearly it is a very distorted one where consumers are treated differently in different states. When electricity was generated in large thermal power stations the cost did not vary from minute to...


In which the pond reports on a strange "IndyWatch Feed"


By golly, the HUN seems agitated about something and so do the Terror and the Currish Snail ...

So what happened to the reptiles of Oz? And the 'Tiser, only finding space right down the bottom?

Did some reptiles get the frights? There's SloMo doing a sort of back flip, and the Mocker blathering about progressive shaming, but there seems to be a remarkable shining and a shaming going down ...


Australia finally acts on corruption "IndyWatch Feed"

After years of dismissing federal corruption as a "fringe issue" and complaining about state-level corruption investigations "persecuting" people, the Australian government is finally going to establish a federal anti-corruption agency:

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a new anti-corruption commission, having come under sustained pressure from crossbench MPs with the balance of power.

Labor, the Greens and minor parties have long campaigned for a corruption watchdog, arguing current systems are woefully inadequate.

During the final sitting weeks of the parliamentary year, Mr Morrison had said his Government was not against a national anti-corruption watchdog but described it as a "fringe issue" being pushed by the Opposition.

Speaking today, Mr Morrison said it was crucial the public had confidence in Commonwealth employees and agencies.

But most importantly, it will have jurisdiction over federal politicians, who are currently ignored. And with widespread corruption among political parties, that seems vitally important. No democracy should tolerate corrupt behaviour by politicians and officials, and it is long past time Australia solved its corruption problem.


25 reasons why the Coalition has failed the nation "IndyWatch Feed"

25 reasons why the Coalition has failed the nationThere are many reasons why the Coalition has been politically inept. John Lord examines 25 of the key areas in which they failed. read now...


I have a book coming out in February 2019! "IndyWatch Feed"

In February 2019, probably just before Australia lurches into the long-awaited federal election campaign, Ill have a book coming out on the Liberal Partys women problem. On Merit is part of MUPs Little Book series. It starts with the emergence of the red shoe brigade following the Liberals recent leadership troubles, and looks at the []


No such thing as the level of demand at an aggregate level "IndyWatch Feed"

Through the whole of the Costello years as Treasurer, I would say that everyone would live through these exceptionally good economic times, but no one would learn a thing. And its not just that we had balanced budgets, but had ZERO DEBT. Only country ever to do this and we floated on air. So then we elected Labor and then we had the GFC, and then we had the advice from Treasury to go early and go hard, and so here we are today, in a crumbling economy with living standards heading south. Which is a preamble to this: Peter Costello and later treasurers right to stress benefit of surpluses. Not so sure about those later treasurers, but Peter was the legitimate article, Australias greatest Treasurer.

In his book on Australian treasurers, Bowen describes Costello as the countrys first post-Keynesian treasurer, rejecting the idea that taxes and spending should be used to manage the level of demand in the economy, with that task left to the Reserve Bank. The pursuit of a budget surplus was seen as evidence of good economic management and became an end in itself. Costello was able to distil his political message into a simple message: Surpluses are good and Liberals deliver surpluses, Bowen writes.

Half way there. There is no such thing as the level of demand at an aggregate level. You cannot manage it. You cannot cause it to go up and down. Aggregate demand has no separate existence apart from aggregate supply. It is Keynesian junk theory whether it is spending or adjusting rates. It will not work and never has, ever. Modern macro is false from end to end. As John Stuart Mill put it, and found in my Free Market Economics where it is explained at great length: demand for commodities is not demand for labour. That was written 170 years ago. The idea that there is progress in economic theory is just plain wrong.

PLUS THIS: From Max in the comments:

Austrian theorist Henry Hazlitt argued that aggregate demand is a meaningless concept in economic analysis. Friedrich Hayek , another Austrian, wrote that Keynes study of the aggregate relations in an economy is fallacious, arguing that recessions are caused by micro-economic factors.

The Keynesian is a collectivist methodologically. He looks at aggregates. He recommends government programs that affect aggregates.

Keynes argued, and his disciples still argue, that the cause of unemployment is insufficient aggregate demand. This is another way of saying that the cause of unemployment is excessive...

Wednesday, 12 December


The GCSB appear to be breaking the law again "IndyWatch Feed"

When Parliament passed the Intelligence and Security Act 2017, one of the aims was ostensibly to give Ministers greater clarity over the spying activities they were being asked to authorise, so they could properly judge the necessity and proportionality of the breaches of human rights they were being asked to approve. As part of this, warrant applications were required to include greater detail. But are the spy agencies actually meeting those requirements? The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has reviewed the first 9 months of warrants under the new Act, and the conclusion is only "maybe".

Obviously there are teething problems when a new law is introduced, in this case compounded by the refusal of spy agencies to cooperate with IGIS beforehand on how it would be interpreted. The good news is that the SIS seems to have got with the programme, taken the IGIS' recommendations on board, and are now complying with the law. The story is different for the GCSB, and the IGIS identifies several major issues:

  • Seeking Type 2 warrants (which only authorise actions against foreigners) rather than Type 1 warrants (required for anything targeting a New Zelaander) for activities which they expect to result in the incidental collection of the private communications of New Zealanders. This means they are subject to a lower level of scrutiny, require only the approval of the rubberstamp Minister, and the "incidental intelligence" can be retained and used if they "incidentally" turn up anything interesting.
  • Using extremely broadly-defined classes of targets, where it is not entirely clear who might be a lawful target and who might not be (in at least one case, anyone who the GCSB had a "reasonable suspicion" that they might have a reasonable suspicion of).
  • Using tortured definitional games and reference to other warrants (in some cases, forward-looking references to future warrants that have not yet been authorised or even applied for) to obscure exactly who they are targeting and what they are doing, frustrating the goal of clarity and impeding the Minister's ability to assess the necessity of the warrant.

The IGIS's overall assessment: "I...


EDITORIAL EXCERPT: The two major parties are not the same Wayne Swan "IndyWatch Feed"

EDITORIAL EXCERPT: The two major parties are not the same Wayne SwanMany are concerned that the Federal Opposition has, by passing the encryption bill, endangered the rights of ordinary Australians. read now...


Greens NSW majoritarian preselections and walking away "IndyWatch Feed"

I received an email yesterday from Justin Field, a Greens members of the NSW upper house, effectively laying out a threat that himself and his colleague Cate Faehrmann would quit the party unless the party met two of its demands:

Specifically they are asking that the party agree to a complete recount of the votes for the last preselection in the case that Jeremy Buckingham is removed from the ticket for the upcoming state election, and also that the organisations Left Renewal and Solidarity are added to the proscribed organisations list, effectively prohibiting members of those organisations from also being members of the Greens NSW.

The latter point is a callback to an early fight in the history of the Greens NSW, when members of the Democratic Socialist Party (DSP), now Socialist Alliance, were thrown out of the Greens in 1991.

The former point is an attempt to relitigate the results of this years state preselection, which saw the left of the party take the first two spots on the ticket for the upper house, pushing Faehrmann and Fields allies Jeremy Buckingham and Dawn Walker into third and fourth places respectively. At the time the expectation was that neither of these seats were winnable, although Buckingham had been narrowly elected in 2011 from the third spot on the ticket, so I think expectations of his defeat were exaggerated.

In this post I will run through what could happen if the party were to split, and a quick explanation of how the partys preselection rules have played into this conflict.

The partys preselection process is meant to be proportional. The first spot on the ticket is elected as a single-member preferential ballot. Then a second count is conducted to choose two candidates (with a quota of 1/3 + 1) using proportional representation. One of these two would have already been chosen for the first spot, so the other person gets second. Then further rounds of counting are conducted with a lower quota, so an extra person is chosen each time.

In a factionally-divided contest, which is what the Greens NSW had earlier this year, you would expect such an outcome to give the more popular faction the first and third positions, and the other faction second and fourth. And this is indeed what happened. The lefts David Shoebridge and Abigail Boyd won the first and third positions, with Buckingham and Walker comin......


In which the pond worries about the reptiles' loosing business model ... "IndyWatch Feed"

How's the barely literate reptile business model going? At the risk of loosing the bet, the pond cowers at the sight of the bromancer in full flight

But it does allow the pond to get the Rowe of the day out of the way early, with more relevant Rowe here

She's alive, she still stalks the earth, no looser she, and Bell can still cartoon away here

But enough of a loosing bromancer irrelevance, with the digital ink already dry, and the actual story, with May revanche, and with many more twists and turns to land this morning.

The pond was in search for an empty mind and a Seinfeld moment, and who better to deliver a column about nothing than the dog botherer?

It might have been titled "dog botherer in search of a column," a strange phenomenon with Cohen just going down, the Donald in a funk sulk, May still on the Brexit slide, and the reptiles in a state of hysteria about reli...


Climate Change: Ignoring the cow in the room "IndyWatch Feed"

Earlier in the year the government ran a consultation on improvements to the Emissions Trading Scheme, aimed at making it actually work. Yesterday, they announced their decisions. Most importantly, the total number of units available to the ETS will be capped, with future caps announced five years in advance to give the market certainty about how much they can pollute. The implication is that the cap will shrink towards our targets. Secondly, units will be auctioned by the government. Which is broadly what we needed to do in the first place, before the scheme became a polluter support scheme loaded with free allocations and exemptions to subsidise incumbents. Speaking of those free allocations, they will continue for the moment, but there will apparently be a decision on them next year. And for the system to actually function, they need to be eliminated as quickly as possible (a five year transition period seems more than fair IMHO).

The other big change is the price cap. At the moment, polluters can simply bank their units and pay $25 / ton - a strategy which makes sense when carbon prices are higher than that (as they are ATM). The government will replace this with a "cost containment reserve", which will auction a set number of new units into the system if prices rise too high. These units will be backed by an equivalent tonne of removals, so in theory it means no net pollution. But it both undermines the ability of the scheme to actually reduce pollution, and creates a pool of credits future governments will be tempted to sell or give away to their donors. Obviously, price spikes are bad for polluters, but that's the point. If the carbon price is "too high" for a polluter, the market is sending a signal that what they do is no longer viable, and that they should either pollute less or shut down. We accept this logic for every other business input: wood, petrol, electricity, wages. We should treat carbon - which threatens our fucking lives - no differently.

These are useful changes, but still just tinkering around the edges. The core decision - what to do about agriculture - has again been put off, left hanging while the Zero Carbon Act consultation considers whether we even have a target for agricultural emissions, let alone whether we should make farmers pay their way. And until we do the latter, our ETS will ignore our biggest source of pollution, and be fundamentally broken and unfit for purpose.


Suitable accommodation for seasonal worker programs "IndyWatch Feed"

Accommodation is one of the largest expenses incurred by seasonal workers participating in Australias Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) and New Zealands Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme (RSE). The cost of accommodation varies depending on the employer and availability in the area. The provision of suitable accommodation is a condition of the pastoral care policy of both programs and is the responsibility of employers, not the workers. Workers must pay for this provided accommodation with deductions taken from their pay regardless of whether they are earning an income or not. There has been public criticism about accommodation for seasonal workers in Australia and New Zealand. Reports have shown that some Pacific workers have been placed in overcrowded and substandard lodgings with inadequate facilities and rates set too high (this was also noted by an SWP agent in March 2018 in personal communication with the author of this article). This blog looks at some of the challenges, as well as changes that have recently occurred in relation to accommodation standards in the RSE, and argues that such changes should also be considered in the SWP. More research is recommended, in addition to better oversight from governments.

RSE and SWP accommodation

Seasonal workers are employed in regions where accommodation is often scarce, especially in peak seasons. Many growers, in particular small-scale operations, consider it burdensome to provide adequate accommodation and pastoral care for their labourers. RSE employer surveys reveal that suitable and reasonably-priced accommodation for workers to live in for periods of up to nine months remains one of the most challenging aspects of pastoral care for some employers.

There have been many unsubstantiated claims that accommodating RSE workers have inflated rental prices in various regions, such as Marlborough in New Zealand, and as RSE worker numbers increase the scarcity of housing is becoming apparent. Growers have responded in various ways; Hotus Ltd, an RSE employer based in Blenheim, recently built customised accommodation for their workers. The....

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