Monday, November 29, 2010

Father of Lies

So Rupert Murdoch gets called the "Father of Lies" here and probably didn't even notice.

But Chris Mitchell gets his ego ever so slightly bruised here - and he goes ballistic with lawsuits all over the place. I wonder if he has read "Man Bites Murdoch"?

People, it's all just a game - a little game that is about trying to slow the decline of the Murdoch press in Australia. The best thing we can all do is ignore it and him - because they are on a death spiral anyway and it doesn't really matter what Mr Mitchell does - that spiral will continue.

His petulant little hissy fit might delay the end game by a moment or even a month but in the end it will be inconsequential.

Rupert has moved on to other things - apparently ***Fox News***!!! is the new "growth engine".

So keep your eye on Channel 10 ;-)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Evidence and Road Safety Policy

Fred Wegman is a thinker in residence who has been engaged by the SA Government - he is a road safety expert - and he is asking questions about how to improve things. Check out the commentary here ;-)

My contribution below.

"Fascinating isn't it how so many commentators here provide their opinion on how to fix the road safety problem. Let’s not collect the data, let’s not then analyse it and find the options for implementation - hell no lets jump right in and talk about the solution ;-)

So I congratulate you on your efforts to ask questions and understand the nature of the problem and the issues in the local context. Culture is likely to be a big part of the problem - and also a big part of the solution ;-)

But there is one key thing that will make sure that we end up with a *real* solution. Data. The single most important thing that will make a difference is data - its collection and analysis and subsequently the "evidence based policy" that is built upon it.

So may I suggest that if you have any ability to influence the local system then it will be of great benefit if you can help introduce a culture of real *data collection* and *analysis* - and help ensure it is a scientific one? And preferably one that makes the data available for external analysis - to validate the decisions that are made with it.

As opposed to what happens now which is mostly about pandering to popularism.

An evidence based road safety programme will save lives - because it will be based on facts. Everything else is based on emotion and opinion and political expediency".


Following on from my previous post - if anyone out there thinks that State Governments are mostly competent and that anyone agitating for their abolition is pushing excrement uphill - then I ask you to reflect on this.

How is it possible dear reader, that the State of Victoria could have been acting in a competent and professional manner if the recent "2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission" found it necessary to issue sixty seven - yes count them 67 recommendations in its final report?

Sixty Seven recommendations to fix the system - after 173 people died!

If the State Government had been doing its job then no-one would have died and no Royal Commission would have been necessary.

And who - apart from a few bureaucrats lost their jobs over it? Well until now no-one but I suspect that Mr Brumby and his Ministers will get plenty of time to reflect on that over the next few months.

This event was a big deal that showed how *incompetent* this state government had become in just one policy area. But why would anyone think that it is their only failure? And why would anyone imagine that this disease does not extend to the other States and Territories?

It's a problem that extends across all policy areas and all States and Territories. I wonder how is it going to *magically* get any better after 109 years of failure - just by changing the colour of the governing party?

The solution is to find a new governance model - my personal preference is to abolish the states and expand local government - but with real checks and balances and competent administration - but that is probably far too radical for the lucky country.

Game Changer

Just back after a week in Asia - must be getting old because I was knackered and slept for ~20 hours ;-)

Plenty of thinking time on the way back and that caused me to wonder if it isn't time for us to have a re-think about our system of governance.

Because the current one of *pseudo democracy* clearly doesn't work. If it did them we would have a Federal Government competently looking after the big picture items and State Governments competently delivering key infrastructure and services. All in the national interest. The place would be humming along like a well oiled machine.

Plainly, none of this is happening. And it hasn't been for more than a decade.

It looks like changes are afoot at the State level - with Victoria going conservative and NSW, QLD and SA Labor Governments being seriously on the nose - WA is already there.

Pretty soon every state will be run by the conservatives and then free enterprise will magically bloom and blossom and save us all Virginia ;-)

Although State Governments have more of a service delivery role than the Feds, it really doesn't matter which political colour gets to pull the levers there - because usually they are all incompetent.

So the best strategy for voters to adopt is one of constant change. If the Federal Government is Labor then install a Liberal State Government - and vice versa. If a State Government has been in power too long then turf them out and install anyone else. Muddy the waters by electing a few Independents and Greens when things get too cosy. Be contrary.

This is really the only way that long suffering voters get to express their displeasure - and have some level of control over proceedings. Voters know that State Governments have become irrelevant and so they will continue with this strategy until they can actually get to abolish the states. One day.

Now the political parties and their politicians also understand this and so they use their term or two or three in power to feather their own nests and to do what they want - while ever obfuscating with spin. And then they take their gold pass and pension and retire to somewhere exotic.

I think everyone understands what the game is.

But my question is - "Do we really want to keep playing it"?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

35 Years On

This week I am away in Kuala Lumpur - a town that I first visited 35 years ago. Doesn't time fly when you’re having fun ;-)

And I have just finished a fantastic Dim Sum lunch at the hotel that we used to work out of all those years ago. It was called the Merlin then but it's the Concorde now - on Jalan Sultan Ismail. Of course the place has changed a lot - but still recognisable. I wonder what has happened to the old PPK crew?

You might know Dim Sum as Yum Cha - how about some steamed jade crystal dumpling, deep fried phoenix prawns, bean curd roll, and mango custard pudding. No wonder it's called yum. Just fantastic.

And for some reason the KL streets are choc-a-bloc today but not a big ugly 4wd to be seen. How refreshing. But there is a bit of wealth about - just spent 10 minutes gawking at one of these - outside the Concorde.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


I got roped into listening in on a conversation between a small group of Gen-Y's yesterday. Let me assure you that this is not my natural habitat.

This was a conversation that lasted for an hour and a half - and the only topic they deemed worthy of discussion - was the housing market.

They spoke of this suburb or that, this home style or that, the merits or otherwise of a sauna or a spa and a pool, whether they needed a garage and a large yard or a small courtyard - and on it went. Even down to the colour of the paint that was used to adorn the walls. Complete obsession.

And why were they discussing housing? Because of this small group of six - most thought of themselves as potential *Real Estate Millionaires*?

Of course none of them are - they all have part time serving jobs or similar that they need to generate a cash flow - but the wannabe *REM's* were actually buying houses. Or more correctly, they somehow had managed to borrow enough money to acquire a residential property which they now called their own. And they were planning to acquire more of them just as soon as they could.

As I mentioned, this conversation went on for an hour and a half - now it was supposed to be a *guided* conversation - and the moderator tried to steer them off onto other topics.

* It was suggested that their education, career, job future were worthy candidates for discussion - no not interested.

* Business was suggested as a topic but the only business they were interested in was acquiring real estate.

* She tried to get them to discuss the GFC and its impacts - but they didn't know what it was. I kid you not!

* Politics, the nation, our national leadership - couldn't care less.

Because as we all know - acquiring real estate is the path to true wealth and happiness. Or that is what they told us ;-)

Friday, November 19, 2010


Its funny how there is so much analysis about why people blog and what drives bloggers to say stuff.

There are many thousands of reasons why people feel compelled to write about their world and to say what they think. And fortunately current technology enables anyone and everyone to express an opinion - often in real time.

Once upon a time expressed opinion was the exclusive domain of the newspaper, radio and television industries. And the old white males who control them. Not now.

These days you only need two things to be a blogger - "an opinion and the courage to write about it". And you need a third if you are a Twitter devotee - "a limited vocabulary" ;-)

This is what differentiates the bloggers from the rest of the population. Everyone has an opinion - but not everyone has the courage to write about it - to believe it, to put it in words and to argue for it.

Because the opinions of most people are often *soft* and formed by listening to the view of the last person who had the courage to express theirs or by watching someone on television who *looks nice* - express their boss's.

And some people have been clinging to a world view that is discredited - but they have too much invested in it to change now - and so they ignore reality. Sound familiar?

That is why leadership is so important. That is why a strong and capable and credible leader can make a huge difference and bring the people with them as they "Move Forward".

Perhaps we need a Leader who blogs?

Volvo Drivers

Contrary to popular belief, I am not picking on 4wd owners. Actually the reverse is true.

One of the characteristics that I have noticed - at least in the suburbs where I live and drive - is that when you become a big 4wd owner then you seem to automatically become a *much* more aggressive driver.

Now I don't understand why this happens but I have noticed that the young, demure, petite females who get behind the wheel of a *monster* truck seem to acquire a totally new persona. They don't give way, they barge into traffic, they back out in front of you and they tailgate even closer. It's like a switch gets flicked.

They think they are invincible. And with their children they look down on you from on high as though you are a mere ant. Now all this is rather intimidating when I am sashaying along in my classic Citroen - and trying to keep it intact and scratch free. It makes me very nervous. I now know why so many American motorists carry handguns in their vehicles Virginia ;-)

Clearly, the acquisition of one of these monster 4wd's triggers some animal instinct that causes bad behaviour. If the State Governments were actually interested in road safety instead of revenue raising then they would be studying this phenomenon and be ready to introduce legislation as the facts emerge.

In the meantime, I am just keeping my head down because the young female 4wd driver is the 21st century equivalent of the Volvo driver.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


So James Packer and Lachlan Murdoch have combined forces to take over Channel 10. Good on them - media diversity is good for the nation. Can't believe that I just wrote that ;-)

And it reminds me of the last attempt of the Packer and Murdoch boys to run a serious Australian business. Who can forget One-Tel? Certainly not the investors and probably not Jodee Rich or Brad Keeling either.

But seriously - good luck to them. I hope it goes well and with any luck they will be able to project all that excellent News Ltd content onto many more Australian eyeballs. I just can't wait to see Fox News on free to air television.

The only question is what will they call their new venture? My suggestion is "One Oh - Tel Evision". Or if they don't like that, how about "Two-Tel" or even "A^Sky^A"?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Carbon Price

Jeez - the monk is back into it again today talking about how a *price on carbon* will push the price of electricity up and other blah, blah, and blah.

Haven't we gotten over this yet? Didn't the people repudiate this *delay and deny* climate nonsense from the Coalition at the last election? Surely there can't be more than two or three dimwits left in the nation who haven't yet got the message?

The Government just needs to get on with it. There is more than enough information about what to do and how to do it - ask Ross Garnaut to give you a précis if you are not clear. You could develop a competent plan just by googling "Climate Change Mitigation" for christ sake.

The simple reality is - "The longer the delay then the higher the cost and the bigger the impact". Did you understand that? If not then I will repeat it - "The longer the delay then the higher the cost and the bigger the impact".

Everyone who is even half smart about the problem gets it - why not our friggin politicians?

I reckon we should give them a deadline. Either you have a price on carbon regulated and up and running by close of business next Friday - or you don't have a job - simple.


Like many Australian's I am hoping that one day soon we might see a small glimmer of the leadership that is needed to ensure we are *Moving Forward* in the right direction and heading toward a destination that most of us will be happy with.

But then I have been hoping for that since November 2007 and all we have seen is *me too* popularism and an almost complete *shirking* of responsibility by our political leaders.

Now part of that is because both major party leaders - the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition - and their staff are so disconnected from reality that it hurts.

The Prime Minister looked like an OK sort of person when she was the Deputy. She was coherent and had some passion and a persona despite the fact that she comes from Adelaide. But since she got the main gig she has become Madame Bland. She needs to resurrect some passion, acquire some courage and start to do the things that are expected of a leader and Prime Minister. Like lead and take some risks. Do some good and don't be evil. Stand up and be counted. And so on.

And the Opposition Leader really needs to take a long holiday and book himself in for the necessary surgery to have his personality bypass reversed. Because the man is seriously on the nose with a large subset of our population. He obviously knows this because he has moderated his approach recently and has turned on the invisible shield - hoping we won't notice. Where's Tony they all say? The trouble is that everyone knows he is faking it and can't wait to start rampaging again.

One of the bigger problems is that both parties have a quality problem on their front benches and so support for the leader is thin. But there are actually some good people in the Parliament - the biggest problem is that the party systems tend to bypass the doers in support of the yes men. And mostly they are old white and male ;-)

The real issue is that the party system hasn't grown up - they are still operating as though it is 1970 - fix that and I suspect that you will fix the leadership problem.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Three Things

I want to nominate three things that our government can do to earn itself some credibility while demonstrating leadership on three issues of national importance.

1. Our Media - Have the Communications Minister inform the ABC Leadership that they are to no longer provide a forum for News Ltd to push their right wing agenda. Make sure the ABC Board understands that this includes getting rid of the News Ltd staffers who *appear* on ABC shows. Tell them that if News Ltd wants a television platform then they should go see James and Lachlan and get engaged to Channel 10 - and pay the appropriate commercial rates.

2. Our Housing System - Get the Productivity Commission (or some other appropriate body) to enquire into the housing market including the banks, the developers, the state governments and everyone else who makes money by selling housing and its components to the poor old *buyers*. With the objective being to "level the playing field" and to remove the "distortions" that end up by lining the pockets of the *sellers* while ripping off the *buyers*. Regulate if necessary to ensure that all participants have equal knowledge, information and power - starting next week. Heavily tax the excessive profits of the profiteers - including the State Governments.

3. Our Personal Transport - Introduce a large *annoyance* tax on our oversized personal transport vehicles - that has the effect of seriously *increasing* the tax on large, heavy and fuel inefficient vehicles. If necessary, double or even triple this tax on large truck like 4wd's that are garaged in urban areas. Use this tax to actively discourage the use of heavy vehicles in urban areas. Introduce a rebate (that is funded by this tax) to people who choose to walk or use bicycles or other non-polluting urban transport. And do it now.

And use these things to buy some breathing space while you work out and start to execute a real plan for the nation.

Monday, November 15, 2010


I don't know who watches Q and A and why they would - but I won't.

Doesn't anyone else wonder why your ABC makes extra special effort to accommodate many of the right wing dingbats from the Murdoch press every other week?

I am happy to fund the ABC - but I choose not to read the crap that oozes from Rupert's minions. My choice.

So why do I have to listen to and look at those same people who have a semi-permanent invitation on QandA and Insiders and a raft of other ABC shows?

Is Rupert owed something by your ABC? Does the ABC leadership think they owe him something? Are they all interviewing at NEWS Corp? Is there something Mark Scott should be telling Australian's? Is this the Board's idea?

It's weird - and it is outrageous - your ABC is not NEWS Corp yet - so please get the dingbats off the friggin show!

Immigration Scam

Finally Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has got his act together and *fixed* one of the worst immigration scams that was perfected under the Howard government.

"The existing points test has not always led to outcomes consistent with the objectives of the skilled migration program." Mr Bowen said.

"For example, the current test puts an overseas student with a short term vocational qualification and one year’s work experience in Australia ahead of a Harvard educated environmental engineer with three years relevant work experience."

"The new points test will ensure we select the best and brightest people from a large pool of potential migrants."

The previous system was a smokescreen - designed to enrich at least three conservative constituencies.

Firstly, the not quite tertiary education colleges who were making money hand over fist from migrants who were here to gain residency - with an education being a secondary consideration.

Secondly, the real estate industry who were using this large inflow of tenants to sell us all on a manufactured property *growth* story in our mainland capitals - but particularly Melbourne.

Thirdly, the fast food and convenience store industry and other casual employers who were hiring these people on very low and sometimes quite illegal rates.

This immigration scam was a way to satisfy all three and keep everyone voting conservative. You could view it as a prototype for what was to become WorkChoices.

Isn't free enterprise a marvellous thing - especially when you have a nice little scam managed for you by the government? The amazing thing is how it went unreported for so long - clearly our media have lost the ability to inquire and expose. What a surprise?

OECD Economic Survey

There has been and will continue to be a lot of nonsense written about the recently released OECD Economic Survey of Australia. Most people won't get to read the detail for themselves and will have to make do with having it presented to them through the *filter* of our "high quality" media ;-)

There are lots to digest and most of it is top notch. Chapter 3 focuses on infrastructure - and as some of us will be aware various Australian governments have underfunded the national infrastructure for decades.

Nothing illustrates this more than "Figure 3.4 Commonwealth spending on road and rail infrastructure" - sorry but I can't show it or point to it here.

But the numbers are telling - during the last 5 years of the Howard/Costello government spending was at an average of a little more than $2 billion each year. The first five years of the Rudd/Gillard/Swan government (actual and projected) has spending at an average of a little more than $5 billion each year. A 2.5 times increase!

That well illustrates the scale of the problem that was created by the conservatives - and which now needs to be addressed by our national government. But you probably won't see that discussed in the main stream media.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Bastard Banks

So the Government, the Opposition, the media, various blowhards in the commentariat, and those poor old mortgagors have lambasted the banks for their most recent act of bastardry.

How dare they increase their rates by more than the Reserve Bank increase? Well people the reason they did is simply because they can.

Where else in the commercial world do we have contracts between a buyer and a seller where one side (the seller) can change the price of the contact at their whim - at anytime during the term of the contract? That is the issue folks - you want a mortgage in Australia then you will be captive to the form of mortgage contract that is used by Australian banks. So get over it or move elsewhere.

The truth is that the Australian housing market has been seriously skewed in favour of the lenders and the builders and developers and the state governments and everyone else who earns a living from exploiting the poor old *buyers*. And if they ever find out - then the place will go belly up faster than a Roger Bannister mile.

And adding more competition will not change that fact Virginia. The truth is that various Governments State and Federal, Liberal and Labor have encouraged allowed this nice little risk free earner for the banks to continue for eons. How else do you think they got to be so profitable?

Ahh - free enterprise is a wonderful thing isn't it? Especially when it is built around a sanctioned scam of young naive and innocent home buyers ;-)

And there is some thinking that suggests the banks are getting a bit tetchy about the number of mortgages that are starting to look a little shaky - and they are using some of these *extra* rate rises as a bit of insurance.

So it looks like their risk management processes are putting the price of mortgages up - does that suggest anything to anyone?

No I didn't think so.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Thinking Bogan

I don't know about you lot but I would prefer for the nation to have a bit of a plan to accompany the "Moving Forward" mantra that was adopted by the "Bogan in Chief" at our last federal election.

Just so the people have a bit of a clue about where we are moving forward to? I hope it's not Melbourne Virginia ;-)

It is all very well for the professional politicians to manage the nation on our behalf and to regularly tell us that they have our interests at heart - but I for one don't believe them.

So might I make a request for Julia and the crew to think about and develop a *National Plan* that they can talk about and which may even be used to guide their actions and investments. It might even allow us to identify their *core values* if they have any?

Now I don't want them to get too excited about it - because we all know how a poorly thought through plan can go awfully wrong. But surely we should have some ambition and goals that will help us to face the challenges of the 21st century.

Because meandering along in the wake of the resources boom is probably not a very clever or sustainable approach.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


A great article on innovation by Terry Cutler in Crikey today - here. I had a few other words to say about innovation last year.

It's scary that the nation and the vast majority of our people and politicians and so-called leaders seem to just bumble along - all living on the wealth generated from the mining boom. Because that is what has been happening for quite a while now.

We had a lucky escape from the full impact of the GFC and most of us didn't even seem to notice. The thing about living in "The Lucky Country" is that eventually our luck will run out. I suspect that it already has - it's just that we haven't noticed yet.

Two things define for me how dumb this "lucky country - she'll be right" attitude is.

* The housing bubble which just about everyone (except Steve Keen) seems to think is a permanent paradigm shift and;

* The acquisition by many people of truck like 4wd's for their daily transport.

These two things symbolise our national stupidity identity. They should be on the national flag and displace skippy and his mate from our coinage ;-)

We have been madly pouring our resources into a housing bubble that has the potential to decimate the personal wealth of a large number of our citizens - when it goes *poof*. What then Virginia?

For nearly a decade we have been ignoring productive business investment and hoping to get rich quick by buying jerry built McMansions and on-selling them to other gullible bogans.

And the inconvenient truth is that most of us know we are severely impacting the planet but we have such a cavalier attitude that we don't seem to care about that - and continue to acquire monster fuel guzzling vehicles as if there was no tomorrow. Perhaps there isn't.

And Terry Cutler wants to see some more innovation - it won't happen here mate because we just aren't clever enough.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


In the upheaval of the American election I found this gem from Sam Wylie - here. Nothing to do with the mid terms but a fantastic commentary of how politics produces the stuff that it does ;-)

"My wife and I gave money to the Gore campaign in 2000. We were living in Hanover, New Hampshire (the ‘live free or die’ state). Because New Hampshire has the first primary all the campaigns go through Hanover and we got to see all the main candidates. At the end of the primaries it was down to just four: On the Democrat side Bill Bradley and Al Gore and on the Republican side John McCain and George Bush. It was evident that three of those candidates were men of real statue and the other should have been running a gas station somewhere. No need to mention which one was not the like the others".

And as they say the rest is history. Hilarious.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Few Days

It only takes a few days to work out what big Joe is up to.

He started his little bank bashing campaign a few days ago - because he knew that the banks were about to announce their profits and he also knew that the Treasurer was nearly ready to announce a package of measures to enhance competition in the banking industry.

Is there another Godwin Grech hiding away in the Treasury?

So just as I speculated recently, Joe has no interest in regulating banks - but he does have an interest in capturing media attention for his great pronouncements on the banking industry. And that is what he has done.

And he will hammer away at it relentlessly until Wayne announces something.

And it looks like our media folks are unable to see the forest for the rhubarb - jeez maybe we need a *paradigm shift* in the Australian media or something. Are they really all on Valium?

Skill Shortages

Thanks Virginia for your note yesterday about the skill problems that are affecting us - of course it's all the Government's fault.

I will acknowledge that we have been a little slack with our processes - perhaps we should have been thinking about workforce planning a little earlier than last week but I always thought that Tony would get in and that the Coalition would then do what they always do - and let employers dictate employment terms to the workforce. Big disappointment that.

Plus I was hoping that he would re-introduce WorkChoices (of course he would have called it something else) and that would have allowed us to screw our workers while screaming for a change to those bloody restrictive imported worker rules that the Labor Government have introduced.

And I note that they are now clamping down on the numbers coming here to attend University - jeez where are the fast food and convenience store industries going to find slave cheap labour now?

And don't talk to me about training. The last time we spent money on training people was at the junket conference in Bali in 1988 - and the Tax Office only allowed us to claim 20% of that! Never again Virginia.

And that is the real problem - how can we run an Aussie Icon business when we have to pay Australian's real wages? Lets get real here - there is just no possibility of us making any more super profits if we have to pay anything like $18 an hour? Surely the Government understands that?

So your first task will be to ensure the Government gets back to a real employment system of letting us import all those Asian and Islander workers. They are the workers we want because we can pay them peanuts and claw back much of that with bogus services - like housing and transport. And who cares if they don't speak English - at least then they won't be able to complain. Couldn't we just use Google Translator?

And keep talking up those "Skill Shortages" because if we can get the media to focus on that then perhaps they will overlook the fact that we haven't been doing any workforce planning or educating our workers or paying them very much.

And then I can get back to the real issues that concern us all like trying to work out which new 4wd to buy and how to acquire the 10th new investment property using negative gearing - to house our new "workers".

Monday, November 1, 2010

Knickers in a Knot

So the main stream media have their knickers in a knot over big Joe and his proposal to neuter the banks.

They seem to like it (his proposal) but are concerned that it comes from Joe. Because Joe and his friends are members of the political party that has encouraged let the banks and their big business mates ride roughshod over the nation - for decades.

Find me a sizeable business that is actually looking out for their customers - as opposed to their shareholders and executives? There simply isn’t one Virginia - that's the sad truth.

And if you are so out of touch that you don't know that then you should turn the page now.

Because friends, the Coalition exists to run cover for big business and the rent seekers and vested interests in the corporate world - that is their job. They don't give a rats about small business or our citizens - because we don't *donate* enough folding stuff. And all they have to do is bribe us every three years to get what they want anyway.

* Mining taxes - no way lets be rid of them.

* Concentration of Media ownership - no problem we'll let Rupert and Co. do as they like.

* Climate Change - nothing to worry about there - let the big emitters continue to crap on the nation.

* Boat people - yes they are the bad guys - but we'll let you buy residency with a Mickey Mouse little degree.

* War Mongering - sure thing - where else can we start one?

So why do you think that Joe is trying to *neuter* the banks?

Well he isn’t - this is just another Coalition scam - like the ones that they introduced prior to the last election. Remember them - and Joe's attempt to buy some credibility by telling us their "costings" had been audited? And remember how it was all BS? Same old thing folks.

That's the thing about the Coalition - they lie through their teeth and then they think that we will have forgotten it all 5 minutes later - sorry but I haven't.