Monday, 23 August 2010

An Act of Spite by Fairfax Media.

The Fairfax media (through "The Age") has run a mischievous piece of rubbish.

There may be some truth that some people are already framing a betting market about a change of Leader in the Labor Party.

But the real (and unstated) purpose of the story is not about betting, its purpose can only be to destabilise the Labor Government.

It is an act of spite, by a Newspaper which has been totally negative all the way through the Election campaign.

The story starts off saying:

  • "Bill Shorten, the former union boss who orchestrated the execution of Kevin Rudd from the Labor leadership, has been backed by punters to lead the party to the next election.
  • "While hundreds of punters sweat on the final election outcome, Mr Shorten, the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities, has been installed as the clear favourite with bookies to topple Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who is fighting to form a minority government."
What a bastard act, to run such a story, now, when Julia Gillard is negotiating with the various independents about which party will form a minority Government.

I refuse to give a link to the story (as internet protocol would normally dictate) as that might encourage you to read the story.

Please do not read it.

Please cancel your subscription to "The Age" (if you have one). I have just done that.

ALP Blame Game has started - too late!

The knives are out for Karl Bitar and Mark Arbib - NSW-based Labor Party powerbrokers.
Karl Bitar - ALP National Secretary.
To me, as something of an outsider in the murky world of Labor Politics, all I can say is:
  1. It isn't surprising
  2. Its too late!
Mark Arbib
Senator and NSW "backroom boy".

These people have presided over a Labor Party machine which has selected candidates who either are "part of the club" - their own preferred factional allies; and they have also persuaded the leaders to only speak about things which are favourable to big business.

In that latter case, I give you the example of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. When Kevin Rudd abandoned his plan to address the "greatest moral challenge facing our generation" he lost all credibility with persons concerned about the environment.

What did Labor believe in?
  1. Being soft on the Mining Industry.
  1. Because of a string of Labor seats in Illawarra and the Hunter regions.
But the cost of not believing in anything is now being counted (and will be for several weeks). If the increased Green vote had stayed with Labor, they would not be in this position.

The Labor Party's "experts" - the guys who run the party's private polling, and feed that information to the Leadership, no longer believe in Ben Chifley's "light on the hill". The True Believers have long since left the building.

Morris Iemma, who was dumped because of back-room manoeuvering by Karl Bitar, is now calling for Bitar to resign. Hardly surprising.

Picture: Dean Marzolla Source: The Daily Telegraph

This is what the Daily Telegraph ( a truly awful paper, by the way) says today: "FORMER NSW Labor premier Morris Iemma publicly called for Labor's party boss Karl Bitar to be sacked following what he claimed was the most disastrous campaign in the party's history.

He also called for factional boss and powerbroker Senator Mark Arbib to be dumped, claiming the pair had effectively destroyed the Labor Party."

Mr Iemma lost his position as NSW Premier because these two guys shifted their support away from him. So, in fairness, it ought be recorded that Iemma has some scores to settle with them both.

I do not.
I have been a Labor voter for many years, and I personally know a number of senior Labor Party people (as one tends to do if you have lived in Canberra most of of your life, as I have done).

I have been going on for ages about the loss of true Labor Party values.
Nobody has listened to me - naturally enough.

Will they listen to the voice of the Australian People?
That's doubtful.

The late edition of the Sydney Morning Herald has now (belatedly) joined in with the story.
"Calls for Bitar's head after 'inept' campaign"

Saturday, 21 August 2010

A Well-hung Parliament - a psephologist's "wet dream"

If the last numbers from tonight's election count turn out to be accurate (or are not whittled down by the Scrutineers) then Australia will have a "Hung Parliament".

That means a balance between the major parties, where neither has a majority, and needs to negotiate (now there's an novel idea) with the block of three Independents who have been in the Parliament before, and with Adam Bandt and possibly Andrew Wilkie.

But the main impression I have from tonight's chaotic election broadcast is that there is no one more happy in Australia tonight than Antony Green, the ABC's resident psephologist. The fact that the results of this election might not be known for two weeks (thanks to our antiquated rules on postal votes, which are a hang-over from the days when mail carried by "Cobb and Co Coaches" around the country by horse and buggy).

So this prolonged electoral counting, and re-counting, and then, eventually the rounds of distribution of preferences must seem to Antony Green like a psephologist's "wet dream".

At least somebody is happy with the result.

Andrew Wilkie has been a hero of mine since he "Blew the Whistle" on the Weapons of Mass Destruction issue (in Iraq) when working for the Office of National Assessments. I personally would feel secure if he holds the Balance of Power in the next Parliament. What was it he said he hoped for an ethical Government.

What's that?

Thursday, 19 August 2010

My brother Brian sent me a cartoon he has drawn

The ABC Local Radio in Canberra (666 - the Radio with the Devil's Call Sign) has a "Fierce Quill" cartoon competition running at the moment.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

No National Rail Network in Australia

I am amazed that in the run-up to a Federal Election, we have heard not a peep out of anyone about this.
I first heard of it, when it was reported in The Age on 9 August 2010.
We have buses between Albury and Melbourne.
That means changing over at Albury.
Small seats; double handling of luggage, etc
This is a 3rd world situation.
CountryLink website confirms this (downloaded this morning) with the following advice:
Sunday 8 August- until further notice
Southern Region - Due to delays as a result of substantial speed restrictions being applied by both the Australian Rail Track Corporation and the independent regulator on ARTC track in Victoria, CountryLink advises that all services between Albury and Melbourne will be replaced by road coaches commencing from Sunday 8 August 2010 until further notice. CountryLink apologises for any inconvenience.
6 August - 15 August 2010
Southern region - Due to amended timetables all Sydney - Melbourne - Sydney XPT services will experience delays of 20 - 40 minutes.
Please visit the Trackwork for more details. (From Sunday 8 August 2010 until further notice the XPT service will be replaced by a road coach service Albury - Melbourne - Albury).

The explanation contained in The Age's report (below) blames Victoria for laying tracks in the middle of a drought and seemingly not allowing for wet conditions (reactive clay soils swell when wet).

The Age's report from 9 August.

Victoria-NSW train travel suspended: CountryLink

August 9, 2010 - 2:57PM

Train travel from NSW to Victoria has been suspended because of safety concerns.

The decision was made yesterday afternoon after the NSW-based CountryLink transport service became worried about safety on rail lines between Albury and Melbourne.

Regional centres such as Albury-Wodonga and Wagga Wagga along with smaller towns including Wangaratta, Cootamundra and Yass will be affected by the decision.

Speed limits on the lines, normally above 100km/h, have been reduced to 80km/h.

"This arrangement will continue until further notice," CountryLink said in a statement.

Safety has been jeopardised by the decision to lay concrete sleepers during a time of drought and not allow for rains, sources familiar with the issue told AAP.

One person said the safety worries would soon affect NSW tracks from Macarthur, on the southern outskirts of Sydney, through to Albury."


This is a 3rd world situation, which is unbelievable in 2010.

And in the context of a Federal Election, we have heard not a peep out of any politicians on this issue. Nothing!

Saturday, 14 August 2010


OK the heading is satirical.

There is a hot new website (launched by the Labor Party of course) where you can design you're own Tony Abbott poster.

This is mine:If you want to try your own hand, go to:

Friday, 13 August 2010

Dear Julia = Please consider the Environment.

I have sent a message to Julia Gillard, via a message system organised by the Wilderness Society
Hi Julia
Please take  a moment to consider the environment.
Coal mining is destroying NSW and Queensland (Darling Downs and all the way up to Bowen Basin), and Coal Seam Gas is likely to be as dangerous.
Many Labor voters are concerned about the Environment.
If you don't include a message (and a policy) for us, we will be forced in to the waiting arms of the Greens. You don't want that to happen.
Do not just listen to the Back room boys.
They are out of touch with the real voters.

Australia needs you to show national leadership on the environment

As Australia's most influential politicians, you personally have a critical role to play in securing and sustaining our nation's wild places and natural resources.

I am therefore looking to you for leadership on the challenges threatening Australia's environment and our future.

I urge you to demonstrate that you understand the problems we face by:

  • Protecting the forests of Southern Australia
  • Safeguarding our marine environments
  • Caring for the future of Northern Australia's lands and waters
  • Managing rivers and water
  • Developing Indigenous Conservation opportunities
  • Securing and managing nature's carbon stores - the savannahs, woodlands and forests
  • Stopping new uranium mines and phasing out existing uranium mines

I am looking for national leaders that won't go missing in action when it comes to these and other important National Environment Policies.

Our environment is our future, and the party that offers the best policies and leadership will gain my support.

I will stand up for the environment this election.

Yours sincerely,

Denis Wilson

Electorate of Throsby


Thursday, 12 August 2010

An Average Politician - Tony Abbott MP

I quote from Annabel Crabb's post on "The Drum".
  • On ABC's Lateline in November last year, with Tony Jones, Mr Abbott.... "when asked about his direct knowledge of the climate change issue, Mr Abbott told Jones that he had not read the IPCC report on global warming, and that he had started but not finished Ian Plimer's famous book on the subject.
  • "No, I don't claim to have immersed myself deeply in those subjects," he told Jones.
  • "I'm a politician. I have to rely on briefings - I have to rely on what I pick up through the secondary sources. But look, I think I am as well-versed on these matters as your average politician needs to be."

Quote of the year, I think.

Mr Abbott is just that - an average politician.

Australia needs better than that.

As Annabel Crabb says:

  • "But Tony Abbott is - through his change of heart on this issue and his subsequent annexing of Coalition policy, which until his dislodging of Malcolm Turnbull had been to support a compromise ETS - personally responsible for the fact that Australia does not have a carbon trading scheme.
  • "When the consequences of personal decisions are so profound, these decisions demand deeper research."

Australia also needs better than average "Broadband speeds", Mr Abbott.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Broadband policies are night and day

ADELE FERGUSON writing in "The Age" Business Day tells it like it really is, on the Broadband "debate" (or "non-debate" from Tony Abbott)
August 11, 2010
The Coalition's proposal to spend $750 million fixing the problems on the copper network is seven times more than it proposed to spend on the network when it was last in government.
This is throwing good money after bad because the copper doesn't need fixing - it needs replacing.
The two telecommunications policies are as different as night and day.
The Labor Party's $43 billion policy is extremely expensive but is all about building a network that will be the backbone of Australia for the next 50 years,
much like the copper-wire network was for the past 100 years. It is also about creating a level playing field for competitors by busting up Telstra's monopoly over the network.
The endgame is to create high-speed broadband to drive a service-based economy for the future.
The Coalition's policy is about tarting up what we have and making promises that its network will be capable of what the Gillard government's policy guarantees - speeds at 100 megabits per second.
This is nigh on impossible.
If you didn't see Tony's abysmal performance on the 7:30 Report, check it out here.
He kept repeating "I'm no Tech head".
Really, Tony?
You surprise me.
Its not that hard. Even to the mathematically challenged,. 100 units is bigger (faster) than 12 units, whether they be Megabits per second, or whatever.
For those not frightened of fast speed talk, check out this analysis on "Good Gear Guide"

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Greens Preferences.

In case you were wondering, if you vote for the Greens in NSW, this year, and Lee Rhiannon does not quite get a quota, then this is how your vote would be re-distributed. Obviously, if she gets a quota, then she gets elected (end of the question), but it is far from a sure thing. Kerrie Nettle was the last candidate eliminated in the 2007 election, with 11.02% of the vote (after preferences were distributed in 28 "counts"). She started with 8.43% of first preference votes.

THE GREENS (1 - 6)
GROUP K 24, 25
GROUP X 26, 27
LABOR 32 - 37
GROUP C 39, 40
GROUP B 56. 57
GROUP H 58, 59
GROUP L 60, 61
GROUP D 79, 80
GROUP R 81, 82

Electoral rules state that: "In Senate elections, a system called proportional representation voting secures the election of a number of candidates, each of whom has obtained a required quota or proportion of votes necessary for election. The quota is worked out by dividing the total number of formal votes in the election by one more than the number of places available for election."

There are 6 Senate Candidates to be elected.
So, the quota is total formal votes divided by 6 + 1 = 7.
Once that number is achieved, it is not possible for another candidate to pass the line, that's how it is worked out. Saves them having to go all the way down the list, but usually they do anyway.

So, back to the Green Preferences, it is almost certain that the Greens will come 3rd, probably with something about 11% (or if they do very well), maybe 14% of the vote.

Preferences will most likely give the first 4 seats to Labor and the Coalition (2 seats each). Then the race is on for 5th and 6 positions. As Labor is "On the Nose" in NSW I anticipate that the 5th position will go to to the 3rd Liberal/National Coalition candidate (Fiona Nash), so the Labor Party No 3 person (Steve Hutchins) will fight it out with Lee Rhiannon.

If she is finally eliminated, all the preferences for minor Parties and Groups and ungrouped candidates would be nullified, as only "live" candidates can receive any preferences, so the key thing to note is that
Greens preferences go to Labor ahead of Liberals.

So, despite all the "fuss" about preference deals, etc, that is where her effective preferences would go.

The bit which puzzles me most is, why most of these 84 candidates bother?

Time Warp - with Tony the Mad Monk

Friday, 6 August 2010

Electoral Boundaries changes in Southern Highlands

If you live in the Southern Highlands, you might have thought you were in the seat of Hume. You used be.

Now you are part of the seat of Throsby (at least, unless you live south from Exeter). The new boundary is between Exeter and Bundanoon.
This map is from Google's Federal Election 2010 site
It is based on data from the
Australian Electoral Commission (AEC).

If you wish to see a more precise map, please go to the following AEC map of the Division of Throsby.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Rangas for Climate Action

How ironic is this?
As a nearly bald (post chemotherapy-follicle damage) male I have been invited to join the Facebook site of Rangas for Climate Action.

Its doubly ironic as I was castigated by my blogging colleague, Miss Eagle, for commenting upon the Ranga-status of our new Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Now, several weeks later, Miss Eagle has embraced the idea of utilising her own Ranga-status to campaign in favour of action on Climate Change.
See her "Network" website entry on this topic.

That's what has persuaded me to join this group (as an honourary "Ranga").

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Drink driver let off for living in an area with no Public Transport

This is an amazing decision which could only be made by someone with no idea of what life is like in the "bush", and who knows nothing of the dangers of driving on country roads.

Why does the RTA target speeding on country roads and drink-driving on country roads in its ads?
Why do the Police bother with crack-downs on Long Weekends in particular, on country roads?
Because it is bloody dangerous driving on bad country roads - that's why.
Denis Wilson

Drink driver let off for being over the city limit

Jasmin Henley admits she was lucky to be acquitted of a drink driving charge because she lives in an area where there is no public transport. Pictures: Lloyd Justin Source: The Daily Telegraph

Ms Henley's nearest train station from her home near Windsor in Sydney's west is at least a 20 minute drive away. Source: The Daily Telegraph

Drink driving charge dismissed without conviction
  • Woman "didn't live in area with public transport"
  • Driver says charge was her first offence

IT used to be a blood-alcohol reading that determined whether a person was convicted of drink driving - now, it's a postcode.

Sydney woman Jasmin Clair Henley, 27, escaped punishment for driving under the influence yesterday because she lives in an area with no public transport.

In a decision that could set a dangerous precedent - and put people who live in remote areas above the law - a magistrate dismissed the charges against Ms Henley, finding she had no viable alternative to get back to her home at Cattai, north of Windsor, in Sydney's west, after attending a work dinner in the Eastern Suburbs.

"If she lived in any other suburb around Sydney . . . like Paddington . . . there's no way on earth I would consider dismissing the charge," magistrate Brian Maloney said.

Ms Henley recorded a blood-alcohol reading of 0.067 after police stopped her on the Cahill Expressway last month.

Facing the magistrate in the Downing Centre Local Court yesterday, Ms Henley had her low-range drink driving charge dismissed without conviction.

Mr Maloney said he would treat the case as if he was passing sentence in a country court, because there were not enough public transport options open to people living in the northwest corridor.

"It's not like she could jump on a 333 bus to Bondi," he said.

He said the former North Sydney TAFE student ought to move closer to the city if she wanted to have a few drinks over dinner, where she could travel home without risking her own safety and that of other drivers.

"Drinking and driving causes fatalities," he said.

He also quipped that as a past employee of Riverside Oaks Golf Course, Ms Henley would've seen first-hand the ill effects of alcohol on many a drunken golfer.

The magistrate noted that Ms Henley claimed to have only had two drinks at the work function, held at the London Hotel, but he warned that alcohol could be "biased" in effecting women more than men due to their generally smaller body mass.

Ms Henley told The Daily Telegraph she was relieved to have kept her licence because she would not able to get to and from her workplace in the Eastern Suburbs by public transport.

She said she was in danger of having her licence suspended for a minimum of three months if Mr Maloney had not taken her remote address into account.

"I really need my licence, especially living out here.

"It would be too hard to get anywhere. There are no buses at all that come past my house and the nearest train station is Mulgrave, at least 20 minutes away."

Ms Henley said she has never caught a taxi home to Cattai because the fare, about $175, is too costly.

"I've never been in trouble before. This is my first offence. I know I'm really lucky."

Lionel Rattenbury, a partner at Armstrong Legal who was not involved in the case, said the sentence was not manifestly inadequate and within the acceptable range for low-end drink driving offences.

Most offenders in the low-range are fined and have their licenses suspended for three to six months, he said.

Citing the Court of Criminal Appeal, he said the significant effect of license disqualification on a person's ability to earn income and function appropriately in the community should be factored in when applying sentences.

Mr Rattenbury also believed the decision wouldn't affect any future drink driving cases.

"The judgment of one magistrate has very little effect upon the judgments of others," he said.

"The law is clear and set out in the guideline judgment."

- With Larissa Cummings and Nathan Klein at The Daily Telegraph.


Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Baleful influence of "NSW Right" on ALP

Bernard Keane in Crikey has hit the nail on the head today (in Crikey's Morning Election Update).
He says:
  • "Getting rid of the baleful influence of NSW Labor on her campaign style might turn out to be a smart play by Gillard, but it’ll only be of any use if she goes all the way and removes the likes of Mark Arbib and Karl Bitar from the government’s policy process as well. That’s where the real damage has been done."
Dead right.
NSW at the State level is addicted to coal mining revenues.
The Union Movement in NSW is addicted to Coal Miners.
The NSW ALP is addicted to the belief that the coal miners keep the Newcastle and Hunter Valley seats in their "safe" hands.

Senator Mark Arbib -
"close adviser to the (former) Prime Minister (Rudd)
and his link to the New South Wales branch of the ALP.

Karl Bitar
National Secretary of the ALP

These backroom boys persuaded Kevin Rudd to abandon any serious response to Global Warming.
The rest is history.
  • Rudd is history.
  • Gillard will not touch Global Warming, as evidenced by her ridiculous proposal to randomly select 150 unqualified persons to advise the Government.
  • It remains to be seen if the Labor Government is history.