Friday, April 30, 2010

Capitalism at work is a wonderful thing

I just had to point out the sad irony of this.

Two news items - one after the other - both posted at 1:46pm via the ABC RSS newsfeed.

* Macquarie Bank posts 21% profit rise.

* Hundreds clock off as Bridgestone closes factory.

So the masters of the universe are rolling in it as their financial engineering reaches new and glorious heights - while 600 workers at the Bridgestone site in Mike Rann's electorate get the finger and are now looking for a job.

A few more Ferrari's will roll into new garages while 600 families will struggle to feed themselves - ahh capitalism at work is a wonderful thing - isn't it?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Carbon Politics

So today Kevin and Penny shelved the CPRS - the Emissions Trading Scheme. Essentially they had two options;

1) Call a Double Dissolution shortly or 2) Shelve the CPRS until a more politically convenient time.

They chose the latter but my guess is that it was a close call. Now they have some more options and the main one is about letting the numbnuts stew in their own juice.

Remember how those geniuses in the Coalition defeated the legislation in the Senate - twice because it is supposed to be "a great big new tax on everything".

Well Kevin has taken the fight directly to them. He had a good solution, he presented it to the people at the last election and he tried multiple times to get it through the parliament.

But the numbnuts rejected it - not because they had an alternative but because their lightweight leadership were ideologically opposed to it. They were so badly conflicted that they even discarded their best leader in a generation because he was for it and the rest of the dumfuks were agin it.

But all of that is history. And today they are running around like headless chooks trying to find another "issue" to campaign on later in the year. They will fail dismally and the way things are going they will lose another ten seats.

This is a clever move by Kevin because all Australian's know that the Coalition have been obstructionist and their leader is a climate change denier. He doesn't believe that carbon is a problem and has said so many times. The entire coalition leadership don't think that carbon is a problem and pretty soon they will get to fight an election on that position. I can hardly wait ;-) It's just hilarious.

The next election will largely be fought on carbon policies and the folks in the coalition have already demonstrated that they have no idea, no policies and they don't believe in it. No doubt Nick Minchin will be running their campaign.

As I said it's just hilarious.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Fruit Cakes and Nutters

While I am on about the mad monk - he must be into the funny fruit cake - the one the nutters are into if he thinks that his persistent and negative BS will win him brownie points at the next election. It can't and it won't.

There was a time - not that long ago when it could have - or at least that was what the political class thought but there is some recent analysis that shows that the Australian voting population are a little bit smarter than the average coalition politician expects or thinks. Not that they do much of either.

Personally, I think that the monk's approach will backfire - big time. He will lose seats at the next election. And then he is kaput. But it's fun to watch.

The only people that his approach appeals to are the very small subset of the Coalition base that are already rusted on - they will never move - so why is he trying to make them even more rusted on? Stupid.

The Liberal thinkers - and there aren't all that many of them - want a reasoned, logical and thought out policy position - they don't want a numbnut circus. They will now be waverers.

The big issue though is that our government needs a credible opposition to perform properly.

An opposition driving carefully down the middle of the road with alternative ideas, concepts and policies with which to challenge. Not this ridiculous right wing rabble of one and a half nitwits.

The Libs lost the only chance that had to appeal to a broader church when they kicked Malcolm off the perch. He was the only one with the brains, the ideas and the ability to re-define the party in a way that appealed to a majority of Australians.

Perhaps they are having second thoughts!

Resources Rent Tax

It's weird - I mean the mad monk's persistent and illogical opposition to everything proposed by anyone except the ultra right.

It's like the stuff that spew’s out from his thinking processes has first to navigate a logic filter. As they hit the filter the good ideas get sent back for re-consideration - while absolute rubbish gets passed through as a great idea ;-)

Or I assume they are his thinking processes - they might just as easily be the bits he discards during his daily ablutions.

In particular the dim-witted thinking that seems to be going on within the right on the supposed "Resources Rent Tax" that may or may not be a part of the Henry tax review.

Can someone please explain to me why we wouldn't want to properly tax the extraction of minerals that are mined within our borders? No I thought not. Of course we would want a proper tax regime around these minerals - otherwise we would be just another ripped off third world country - raped and pillaged by the resource giants.

At the moment the states have a tax regime in place on the minerals that are extracted within their boundaries - and like all things to do with the states it is a dog’s breakfast and needs to be brought into the 21st century. And it is clear that the states can't do it.

This is an area of taxation policy that I hope Ken Henry has looked at and has come to a considered and logical view on. And if he has then it should be a consistent Australia wide tax system that is managed and collected by the Federal government. And if the Feds feel like it they might want to send some of that back to the states - as if.

But to suggest - as the mad monk and his cheer squad in the Murdoch press do - that a properly constituted resources tax is a bad thing is just hogwash - plain and simple.

Unless of course he is doing the bidding of the resource giants?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Australian Culture

I suspect that we can learn a lot about Australian culture by looking at the things that Australian's watch on TV, listen to on radio and read in Newspapers.

I must confess that I don't read newspapers listen to radio or watch television.

Except for the ABC.

I usually listen to ABC radio during the day (go Ramona), watch ABC television (go Kerry and Leigh) of an evening and if there was an ABC newspaper then I would probably read that.

Because I have almost a lifetime under my belt of watching, listening to and reading the pap that is served up by the Australian commercial media and I have voted with what is left of my brain - and moved on to the ABC.

There was a time when I used to read "The Australian" every day for 30 years - but being a slow learner I finally got sick of that a year or so ago. I re-scanned it about a week ago and it almost made me ill. John Hartigan has a lot more to worry about than the Melbourne Storm.

There are also moments when I find myself at a friend's or relative's place and they will be absorbed by commercial television. Most of the time I need to excuse myself and visit the loo - to throw up. Does anyone else get that feeling when they are forced to watch the 7pm Project or MasterChef?

All of which causes me grief when I check out "Last Night's TV Ratings" in the Crikey daily email today.

* MasterChef was top again with 1.580 million viewers.
* Seven News was second on 1.320 million.
* Today Tonight next with 1.228 million.
* Nine News was 4th with 1.168 million.
* A Current Affair was 5th with 1.167 million.
* The 7pm ABC News was next with 1.054 million.
* Nine's Sea Patrol snuck into the list in 7th with 1.009 million people.
* Getaway was 8th with 996,000, at 7.30 pm on Nine.

Good grief - how on earth can our nation be captured by a bunch of old farts in a cooking show?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Insulation Scheme

No doubt Abbott's odious opposition will bleat loudly about Kevin's cancelled insulation scheme - but the truth is they would never have even attempted something as courageous and ambitious as "saving our economy" from the effects of the global financial crisis. They wouldn't know where to start - even with Costello in tow.

Not to mention that their soul mates in the US - the Republican party - actually created the problem - with their slack, lax and non-existent regulatory processes, encouragement of a corrupt financial sector and a President who was asleep at the wheel - when he wasn't busy waging war on someone.

But all that is a sideshow - our Federal Government attempted to deal with the crisis and as you would expect they actually got some things wrong and made a few mistakes. All that shows is that Federal Ministers are human like the rest of us - thank goodness ;-)

But the bigger issue for me is the large amount of fraud and corruption that got entrenched with these processes.

How is it that every shonky contractor in the country became a "registered" insulation installer? Where were the state inspectors and safety agencies in this process? Don't the states regulate, register and license everyone who touches houses?

Yes they do.

Now I only know this because an acquaintance of mine makes wardrobes - and he was gracious enough to walk me through the processes that he had to go through to gain a "license" to install those wardrobes in our houses. And apparently everyone up to and including an "assistant chief poo bar" needs to approve applications to install wardrobes. Now this is a fairly safe gig - imagine the approvals that are necessary to install insulation? And then ask yourself why all the shonks in the country gained that approval.

And then wonder why it's the Feds who are being blamed when it's the states who own this regulatory responsibility.

And even today we have Premier Brumby railing against an ICAC - because it would be a "lawyer’s picnic". Never mind that it would also root out this entrenched state corruption.

That's the thing with our lightweight mainstream media - they never let the facts get in the way of a good story.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Big Issues

There are big issues that need to be dealt with on Wall Street - and the good news is that the Obama team are on the case and working hard to do something about it. I want them to succeed.

But as usual the Republicans are going all out to obstruct and obfuscate and cause chaos - because they can.

Paul Krugman talks about much of Wall Street being a "racket" - and that is in the US context which roughly translated to our language is a "con job".

I don't know the truth and I am not close enough to the action to know but Paul Krugman puts it like this.

"We’ve known for some time that Goldman Sachs and other firms marketed mortgage-backed securities even as they sought to make profits by betting that such securities would plunge in value. This practice, however, while arguably reprehensible, wasn’t illegal. But now the S.E.C. is charging that Goldman created and marketed securities that were deliberately designed to fail, so that an important client could make money off that failure. That’s what I would call looting."

But in the US the Republicans are out of government and are doing a Tony Abbott - so they will make noise and distort the facts to get their "base" on the case - presumably because they will be happy for another global financial crisis to occur next time - under their watch ;-)

My solution is simple and it’s called a Wall Street Financial Institutions Transactions Tax. Obama should levy a 20% WSFITT applying to all transactions by Wall Street firms - and to be held in trust for next time. If they fail again then this WSFITT levy will be used to bail out Main Street and keep Americans employed. And if the big firms don't like paying the tax then they can move to Mexico or Guatemala or somewhere else and create chaos in that economy.

Or something similar - but don't ask me - Paul Krugman is the man with the answers.

Other things

Now that Kevin's Health deal is done - its time to move on to other things.

And depending on which side of the divide you are on things could be easy or hard.

If you are a State Premier then you will want to quietly cruise through this period and make sure that the Feds aren't in a position to threaten your existence with anything else - at least not for the next term or two. And so the Premiers will be doing their best to ensure that their education portfolios are humming along nicely. None of them will want to lose another 30% of their GST money - because if they did then they would look like complete dills and that wouldn't do at all - would it?

Imagine a state government that had responsibility for sewerage and police and - well not much else? Actually that would work in Victoria because it could be the same department ;-)

So state education systems should be well looked after for another term or two. Especially if Julia keeps the pressure up.

If you are associated with Kevin then you will want to be seen as a hero on health and be looking after the interests of those people who actually live in the states. Yes it is good to know that our federal government is looking over the shoulder of those lazy and incompetent state governments - looking out for we citizens - isn't it?

They saved our health system from certain decay and they will save our education system if needed. Or at least that is how my thinking is going ;-)

Politically it’s a big win for the Feds. What I can't work out is why the states haven't yet worked out a plan that gets them back in the game?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Twitter - do you mind

Really - what is the point of Twitter and tweets?  140 characters of meaningless drivel!

I see all these twerps twittering away as though it means something!  I once had respect for some of them - and now their life is all a-twitter.

What is it for?  And why do they do it?

I tried it and went no-where - a complete waste of space and time.  Please explain the "value add" to an old dumb drip like me.

And please don't get me onto Facebook.

4:00pm Tuesday

There will either be a health deal today - or Kevin will put the process in place for calling an early election - a double dissolution - over many things and possibly also laced with a referendum on health.

Because the Premiers and he will have exhausted any opportunity to compromise if the end of today arrives and there is no deal.

It is quite amazing that two Premiers are still playing silly parochial games.  These guys (and they are guys) are hanging out for more bribes - pure and simple.  One is doing it because he thinks he is a smart negotiator and the other is doing it because he is dumb enough to follow the first - and he has a different political agenda.

But either way - Kevin will win.  He will win now by using our money to bribe the recalcitrant’s - or he will win later when the people speak.

The ONLY Premier who has come out of this with any real credibility is Kristina Keneally from NSW - she played it to the end and then she gave in - it was a smart and clever game - one that her colleague down south in Mexico should learn from.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Looking for a job?

So if you are looking for a job now or expect to be doing that anytime within the next five years this little graph will be of some interest. This is an overview of the industries where the jobs are expected to be over the next 5 years.

A few interesting points.

1) Don't apply for anything in Manufacturing - that looks like a major disaster zone - with negative growth of 7.3% per annum - it's still shedding a lot of staff.

2) If you are unskilled or semi skilled then the only area that looks like generating any real growth is Construction - projected to grow at 24% per annum - get a trade qualification and start looking there.

3) Forget Mining - jobs growth there will be around 5.6% per annum and Mining employs few people.

4) Those folks who thought that the Real Estate industry will be their saviour will have to be satisfied with growth of 2.4% per annum.

5) The IT Industry confirms its death with projected growth of just 3.9% per annum.  Probably below inflation.

6) The other real opportunities are with Health, Education, Scientific and Technical Services, Retail Trade and Accommodation and Food Services where growth is expected to be between 15.8% and 42.3% per annum.

So if you want to work in a high growth area your choices seem to be pretty clear:

* Join the public service and work in Health or Education - high growth but low pay and no autonomy.

* Become a servant and work in Retail or Accommodation or Food or as a tradie in construction.

Personally, none of this appeals - I wonder where all the high value and high quality work is? Obviously not in AU.

How did we get here from there?

According to the organisation called "Skills Australia" - there is a big problem with our workforce participation rates and other things.

"There is definitely room for Australia to improve its workforce participation levels, particularly among men of prime working age, women aged 25 to 34, and older Australians."

Our participation rates are way below that of other OECD countries. This is a polite way of saying that those identified find it difficult to gain meaningful employment in Australia.

Skills Australia also calls for a comprehensive national adult language, literacy and numeracy strategy to lift the unacceptably low current levels.

"40 to 50 per cent of the working age population has low literacy and numeracy skills, and there’s been little improvement in recent years."

The big questions are "How did we get here?" and "What are we doing about it?"

Fortunately I think that Julia is up to the task of fixing it - or at least I hope she is. She will need to be - given the decade long lack of action by the previous government. If I was a conspiracy theorist then I might be tempted to think that the coalition actually planned for this outcome - especially given its nasty little experiment with WorkChoices.

But my analysis lite view does postulate that they are related.

These issues are clearly a result of the "big business" domination of the previous coalition government and the widespread use of that obnoxious 457 visa to deal with imaginary and confected "skill shortages".

Yes Virginia, for well over a decade our corporations both large and small have been discarding their Australian workforces in favour of imported labour - because the imports are cheaper, more compliant and they aren't union members. And the resulting savings have gone straight to the wallets of those corporate CEO's and their yes men advisers.

Finally this problem has been noticed by a responsible organisation with the ability to make some noise about it. But the damage has already been done - working aged men, younger women and older Australians have been seething about this for a long while - and wondering when someone will act.

Well it may have been noticed but I don't expect any improvement in the short term - because big business still pulls the strings in our parliaments.

Friday, April 16, 2010

That Clever Dick

I find that my thinking is pretty much in line with what Dick Smith is saying - so much so that I like to pinch his Crikey articles - this is the second one and I hope that Crikey don't object too much. Enjoy!

"I am disappointed at the shallowness of much of what is passing for the so-called population debate. I expected the Murdoch press to push the big growth agenda, but I hoped for clearer thinking from Crikey and the so-called government and strategic decision-makers you say you've been talking to.

You say our policy makers are trapped in the gulf between public concerns about rapid population growth and Australia's "moral responsibility" to take more immigrants from our Asian neighbours. Well, not for the first time the public has a better grasp of the situation than your experts.

Our gold-medal winning population growth wins us no friends in Asia. Most of our neighbours have spent years struggling with population issues of their own and they can only wonder why Australia is so keen to travel in the opposite direction. Our refugee intake looks ever more miserly as our population increases, and our climbing birth rate makes us the odd one out in the region. The constant back-flips over a few boat arrivals must appear ridiculous compared to the almost 500,000 people added to our population last year. We may not see it for what it is, but they do.

You suggest we risk generating "resentment" and being "out of sync" with our neighbours if we reduce our immigration even a little. Really? In fact it's our current people-hungry policy that is doing damage to our reputation. I am currently making a documentary on population issues and am just now returning from Asia, having spoken to experts working at the two extremes of the population question: Bangladesh and Singapore.

Bangladesh has made great strides in reducing it's population growth, but it's still a crushing 160 million, five times the population density of China. In central Dhaka, I stood in the huge tent erected in the car park of the International Centre for Diarrhoea Disease Research where a thousand patients a day are being admitted for emergency treatment. Dhaka's water table has now fallen to 60 metres below the city, and its 16 million citizens suffer from a desperate lack of clean water, exacerbated by the daily power black-outs. Australian Dr Kim Streatfield has been here for 18 years studying the impact of demographics on disease and poverty. Surrounded by dozens of suffering people, he told me how difficult it was to keep his trained staff. Doctors, nurses, IT specialists and analysts have all been poached this year. One of his most experienced doctors told me she'd be willing to "get a boat" to come to Australia. Dr Streatfield said he considered Australia's policy of sucking out the best trained locals as immoral, undermining Bangladesh's ability to escape extreme poverty. I agree with him, and our selfishness will not be forgotten here or in other developing nations we seem all too willing to plunder.

Singapore, on the other hand, has stabilised its population at five million and expects to keep it there, though it's also struggling with the balance between immigration and natural increase. Professor Gavin Jones is another Australian working on population at the Asia Research Institute. He's been researching demographic trends across the continent, and it's ageing rapidly, presenting a far more serious problem for East Asia and China than it does for Australia. There will inevitably be a human arms race for the world's best and brightest, and looking at the incredible development going on along Singapore's waterfront, it's only a matter of time before Asia returns the favour and starts luring our own professionals for salaries we may not be able to match. We can survive the loss of a few hundred currency traders and even a few cosmetic surgeons, but when they start coming for our local GPs there will be trouble.

Instead of relying on imported skills, we need to address the appalling lack of training of our own workforce. Julia Gillard recently received a shocking report from Skills Australia -- all but ignored by most media commentators -- showing that 4.7 million workers don't have the literacy or numeracy levels to participate fully in a modern workforce.

In other words almost half the workforce is functionally illiterate! This is a tragic indictment of our government and educational planners and a recipe for disaster. We currently offer adult literacy education to just 1% of those who need it. Meanwhile our TAFE system is in serious trouble, with the numbers of local students enrolled having stagnated for a decade. We ran down our higher education system by greedily trying to turn foreign students into permanent residents. And the Asian students who feel ripped off will not forget the experience in a hurry. Madness!

I suspect Minister Gillard is one of the few politicians who recognises the danger all this represents for our future prosperity. Countering Kevin Rudd's "Big Australia" argument, she has warned that we are squeezing out Australians because of our addiction to imported skilled labour and foreign students, which she has said "is not in Australia's best interests".

The growth cheerleaders in the Murdoch press, who have suddenly discovered the population issue, continue to harp on about mysterious skills shortages and missing the resources boom. Funny, they never admit that the mining industry employs just 1.5% of our workforce and that the overwhelming majority of new arrivals head straight to Sydney and Melbourne where they add to the infrastructure and housing crisis rather than helping it.

Would Crikey please go back to the government and strategic thinkers its been talking to and tell them the so called "policy dilemma" is in their imagination. They've been looking down the wrong end of the telescope and it's our current high growth policies that are undermining Australia's role in the region."

Go Dick.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Those Clever States

Personally, I think the bunfight that is going on between the Premiers and the Prime Minister over health is a good thing for the rest of us. It's an argument that we need to have.

Most thinking people know what is happening - it’s a game of brinkmanship that is all about money. The states have it - via their share of the GST and the Feds need it to properly run the health system.

It's obvious what John Brumby is up to - he is looking for more and bigger bribes. He wants Kevin Rudd to keep upping the ante before he will agree to hand over his "precious" Victorian health system. As if it is any good anyway - actually he will be glad to be rid of it.

The truth is that all the states will be glad to offload their health systems. Most are in serious decay and as we already know the growth in demand for health services is unsustainable - especially when managed by the quality of politician who seems to be elected at the state level. All states would gladly hand over their health systems if they could do it without pain or penalty.

Except for one thing - when they hand over health they also lose a third of their GST revenues. This is the sticking point.

And this is a problem for two reasons:

1) The states have become expert at "cost shifting" and playing the "blame game" with our essential services - they move money around between services and mis-report outcomes and juggle their GST funds to the extent that if they were companies regulated under corporate law then their Directors would be in big trouble - some might even be on their way to jail. But if you are a state government it’s not called fraud ;-)

Yes Virginia, the states will tell you that they spend large bundles of dollars on health but when those bundles are threatened then they will adjust the numbers downward and report smaller bundles. That is what is happening here - which means you can't trust the state accounting systems or budgets.

2) The states also know that if they lose health then their reason for being is significantly reduced. The next thing you know they will be asked to give up education and a range of other state services - and then what would they do? And then why would we need them?

The quite amazing thing about all of this is that if they had been doing their job properly they would still be relevant and in the game and there would be no agitation and/or reason to be rid of them. It is only because they are lazy and incompetent that there is any pressure to move state services to the federal government.

That's the thing about state politics - not only are they incompetent - but apparently they don't even know it.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Minchin should open his eyes and his ears

The good news is that somewhere in the world each day there are smart people who continue to make the case for action on the carbon problem.

Paul Krugman is one - and his latest is here.

The Minchin's of this world can say, think and do whatever they want - it won't change the facts.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


I might be banging on a bit about the states lately - but the sooner we get rid of them and their obnoxious ways - the better.

The latest work of "The Australian Constitutional Values" survey undertaken by Griffith University demonstrates that Australian's are not very happy with our system of Federalism - and in particularly the states. Many of them want a different system of Government from what we have today.

Griffith University Professor AJ Brown says the results show support has grown for removing the state level of government.

"When asked about what levels of government, and how many governments they thought Australia should have in 20 years, 66 per cent of respondents in 2008 indicated a system different from today," Professor Brown said.

"In March 2010, that figure has increased to 75 per cent of respondents."

The truth is that the states and their administrative and political processes are a massive drag on the nation.

Aside from the huge amounts of waste, duplication and unnecessary bureaucracy, the states have perfected the art of milking their citizens while ensuring everyone works to the lowest common denominator - the states work hard to keep their citizens in the dark and fed BS - because uninformed people are less likely to ask the hard questions.

State taxes are far too numerous and far too high - the states tax everything they can and when they can't work out how to tax something then they make it illegal and invent arbitrary and sometimes imaginary numbers - against which their citizens are tested. As an example, the state based road safety regime is seriously out of control.

Back in 2000 there was an agreement to introduce the GST - where the revenue would flow to the states and they would drop all the inefficient, ineffective and discriminatory state taxes. Has that happened as promised and advertised? Of course not - and worse, there are bureaucrats and puppy politicians in most state governments whose job it is to find ways to tweak the state revenue system - not to reduce revenues - but to raise them!

There is more than one state government where new "ministers" are "blooded" by having to do the dirty work of finding increased revenue for selected state services before then can move into a more "relaxed and comfortable" ministry. And they cop it because the party system demands it.

And as we all know many State services are a joke. I can understand why Health is such a challenge for them - but Education?

Education is the future for our kids and grandkids - how is it that our state governments have not invested every spare cent in the education system and made sure that it is properly resourced with adequate support and infrastructure? Why do the teachers feel threatened and think they aren't valued?

It's simple - state governments are temporary. They get 2 or 3 terms to sit on the big red seats and drive around in the big white cars and they use that time to feather their own nests and make themselves feel important. Because post politics it's only an exceptional politician that would find himself in demand - most of them are treated with the contempt they deserve. Nothing is more perishable than a second hand politician - and that is how it should be.

Which is why we should abolish the states.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Easter Egg Hunt

Today while browsing a metropolitan daily newspaper I discovered what one of our state governments had been up to over Easter.

In 24,266 random roadside breath tests the state police found 90 people who were over the blood alcohol limit and 12 who were over the drug limit. The blood alcohol limit is 0.05 g/100mL and I have no idea what the drug limit is or how it is measured - but I would like to know.

So 102 hapless individuals copped a penalty of some sort - probably multiple penalties actually - including loss of license and a heavy fine - all because of an arbitrary number that they happened to be on the wrong side of.

And the blood alcohol limit is a very arbitrary number. It was reduced in 1991 from another arbitrary number (0.08 g/100mL) to the present number. There has been quite a bit of analysis since that time on the effect of changing the number - one set of conclusions states:

"It is not possible from the data to demonstrate that the reduction in the legal blood alcohol level from 0.08 to 0.05 had any meaningful effect on drink driving at blood alcohol levels of 0.08 or above, nor could any such effect be discerned among drivers involved in accidents."

The cynical amongst us might conclude that the reduction from one arbitrary number to another was a "political" exercise designed to appeal to the wowsers - probably also with an eye toward increased revenue via more and bigger fines. The road safety programme seems always to be looking out for the state revenue office ;-)

Not one of these 102 hapless individuals actually caused a problem for anyone. They didn't crash their vehicle or run over anyone or put anyone in hospital or cause anyone any pain - except perhaps for themselves. And the truth is that had they not been intercepted then they most likely would not have caused a problem later in the day. Those are the inconvenient statistical facts.

Now some questions.

1) Why pick on 0.05 or 0.08 for that matter? If the state is going with arbitrary numbers then what is wrong with 0.0 or even -0.05 or for that matter 0.031415927? Actually the latter makes most sense - its PI/100 ;-)

2) Where is the Benefit/Cost in all of this? If the interception of 102 individuals requires the police to conduct 24,266 tests then the cost seems to be way out of proportion to the benefit? A 0.42% hit rate is not a good look in terms of resource usage. Perhaps this state has more money than it needs and Kevin should claw back some more GST?

3) A simple analysis (say $50 x 24,266) shows that costs were likely to be way over $1.20 million to conduct this "Easter Egg Hunt". Wouldn't that money be better spent chasing down some real criminals? Or even investing in a road safety programme that was able to deliver some real tangible benefit?

Just asking.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Credible Opposition

This current Federal Opposition seems to be the first to pursue a totally opportunistic and partisan approach to everything - regardless of merit.

They take an opposing view of everything our government does - mainly because that generates "free" airtime for them. And airtime is the thing they desperately need to keep their faces in front of the folks who do the "actual" voting every three years.

Their approach is simple - and it can be summarised as "all publicity is good or bad - who cares". So you will see the Opposition circus animals doing all those weird and wonderful things that they somehow couldn't manage to do when they last were pulling the levers in government.

You will see many more things like "The Mad Monk" promising to deliver unlimited maternity leave - in the hope of capturing the support of a particular constituency - in this case young women. Of course when he was last in government he vowed and declared that "maternity leave" would be delivered over his dead body - but hey never let the facts get in the way of a bit of free publicity from a media that needs stories.

My guess is his next target will be younger folks - who seem to have already seen through "The Monk's" particular brand of smarmy, opportunistic and conservative self interest.

They don't produce any policy substance of their own - what spew’s out are "thought bubbles" that they dreamed up over a bottle or two of "jungle juice" at their favourite Canberra restaurant last evening and then get a run in the media for a period of between 30 seconds and 24 hours.

They have a series of *numbnut* members who run with particular themes - because that is what gets them media attention. Think Barney Rubble and the Mad Monk.

Between now and the election you will see Barney, the Monk and other assorted performers including acrobats, clowns, trained animals and trapeze acts running with the confected story of "The Federal Opposition" - 2010 edition.

Don't be alarmed - just look, listen, learn and laugh - because the one thing they seem to have left behind is the most important - credibility.

Malcolm knows that and has already jumped ship.

65% of Australians have Alzheimer’s

Today, Possum released his analysis of this week's Essential Report. And amongst other questions is this one:

"Do you think the Federal Labor Government is too tough or too soft on asylum seekers or is it taking the right approach?"

Apparently 65% of my fellow Australians think the Federal Government is being too soft.

And 6% thought it too tough, 18% thought it was taking the right approach and 11% just don't know.

There is something weird, unhappy and disturbing when a majority of the people of a nation that was built by immigrants - including asylum seekers from previous global conflicts - take the view that their government is being too soft on the current crop of escapees from global conflict.

This is one of those viewpoints that some Australians have that makes me feel ashamed of my nationality.

I'll bet that the 65% are proud of their response - and I could probably write a short profile paragraph on each of them. It would start with their lack of education, knowledge and compassion and end with their bigotry and ignorance. The really scary thing is that they are probably already reproducing.

They either have Alzheimer’s and their short term memory is shot - or they have a pig ignorant view of this issue that has been formed by listening to the distorted opinions of the naysayers who are masquerading as an opposition.

Just another reason why Julia needs to speed up her education revolution.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Dick Smith nails it with his plain speaking.

I pinched this article from Crikey today - because it just makes sense. The author Dick Smith gets to the *guts* of the population issue with his plain speaking.

"For the past three months I’ve been travelling all over the country talking to people about plans to rapidly increase our population. Nine out of 10 people I talk to oppose the idea.

The ones in favour are property developers and the people who work for them, including most of our politicians. Little wonder. I’ve made more money out of Sydney real estate in the past 20 years than I ever did from electronics and publishing. Why grow a real business that employs people when you can sit back and let population growth make profits for you? We’ve become addicted to this simplistic formula, but I fear we are going to pay a terrible price.

The government claims to be concerned about housing affordability, climate change, congestion and the preservation of our environment, yet it welcomes massive population growth knowing full well it makes all those other problems far worse. It seems to be able to put all the challenges into separate boxes without ever admitting that they are, in fact, all related.

Let’s get real about the scale of what we are dealing with here. Last year we grew our population by almost 500,000 -- the equivalent of the entire state of Tasmania. Think of the infrastructure in Tassie: three major hospitals, a multi-campus university, 200 schools, 200,000 homes and thousands of police, medical staff and teachers. That’s the scale of investment we need every 12 months just to prevent our standard of living falling backwards, yet as we all know nothing of this scale of infrastructure building took place.

Our cities are clogged, our public transport is failing and our hospitals are stressed. Soil degradation is costing us billions each year and our long-term agricultural security is threatened. None of the major issue we face is made any easier by vastly increasing our population, yet we are the international gold medallists of growth.

I ask a simple question: why? What good does it do us and why are we taking such risks? I fail to get a coherent answer from anyone promoting the idea. They argue we have an ageing population, yet in reality we have one of the youngest populations of any advanced nation. In any case, the advice from the Productivity Commission in 2005 was very clear: "Increased migration cannot do much to avoid population ageing."

Those favouring massive immigration argue that we have mysterious "skills shortages", yet more than 100,000 young Australians left the workforce last year, while we continue to throw our most experienced workers over 55 on the scrap heap.

Meanwhile, we have corrupted our higher education system, turning it into a crude factory for permanent visas, while we plunder poor nations of their best and brightest doctors, engineers and others they can sorely afford to lose. In terms of foreign aid, we give very little in return. And what do we think will be more welcomed by developing nations: an Australia that takes a tiny fraction of the world’s rapidly growing population, or one that continues to be a major contributor to global food supplies? It is clear we cannot be both.

It’s not people that we lack -- it’s a people policy. When it comes to population, Kevin Rudd drifts from welcoming "Big Australia" to having "no opinion on that" -- the biggest issue facing our country. This doesn't sound like leadership to me. It’s more akin to what ALP backbencher Kelvin Thomson calls "sleepwalking to disaster".

In aviation we plan for worst-case scenarios, insisting on rigorous safety analysis and design and building aircraft that are planned to last for decades. Yet when it comes to population, Australia has no risk assessment and no plan. Given the implications this has for all Australians, it beggars belief.

We need a national inquiry into Australia’s carrying capacity, a commitment to implement its recommendations and a ministry for population that will embrace not just immigration, but a realistic assessment of its true costs. And I and others might just have to get used to not making any more easy capital gains out of the property business."

Go Dick.