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"Dear Mr Rudd" - nothing needed on Welfare or Education?

Waiting in Tullamarine Airport on Sunday night for a flight back to Sydney, not needing food owing to large and excellent lunch with Fiona at Silex / Willow Creek vineyard, and having finished my book, I gave in and bought Robert Manne's collection of demands Dear Mr Rudd. As it turned out, I'd finished it by the time I really needed it, as Qantas took an hour and a quarter to deliver my bag, but that's another story.

It's an odd collection, the content being of highly variable style and depth of analysis, indicating that Manne's briefing of his authors must have been a tad ambiguous. Most of it is at or below the level of detail of an extended Age or Oz opinion piece: Manne is obviously happier at this superficial level, given his comment in the Introduction on the more detailed Water Management piece that "only true experts in this area will know if he is right" ...

A full third of the book is devoted to what are essentially management issues on the Republic, Federation, Parliament, etc, and the rest of the first half on defence and foreign affairs, leaving the book's subtitle Ideas for a Better Australia to be carried by the second half alone. And now here comes the interesting bit - or rather here it doesn't come. Nice, if mostly lightweight, chapters on The Economy, Health, Families (which chapter is almost entirely about childcare), Indigenous Affairs, Workplace Relations, Housing, Universities and the Arts.

What's missing from this picture? Well, Manne's Introduction tells us there is a major gap: " During this remarkably painless operation, only one aspect of the book changed. ... I had initially intended to have a chapter on possible changes to media law. I invited the person I regarded as the most cogent critic of this aspect of the Australian media to contribute. He declined." So, there we are: if the Media chapter had been there, our list of needed reforms would be complete?

But wait - let me think - we've covered pre-school, uni. workplace, health - the whole life of an Australian, surely? Oh, yes, oops, we forgot to say anything at all about Social Services and Welfare outside childcare (but then it's only 40% of total spending, twice that on Defence), and about primary and secondary Education, and tertiary Education outside Universities. We know from his Introduction quoted above, that Manne didn't even think to ask for essays on these subjects. So, are we to assume that more than half of the Commonwealth's expenditure is pretty much on course and doesn't need any reform by the incoming government? Everything at Centrelink is going well? Our schools are all working as we hope and expect?

There would be some backing for this theory from the 2020 summit agenda, where Education is subsumed under the "Productivity" agenda - whose webpage is named "Infrastructure", and where the Education discussion is introduced by these fine words (and only by these fine words):

How can parents become directly engaged in their children’s schooling in a way that really improves their child’s results? What skills will our young people need to succeed in tomorrow’s economy? What kinds of teaching and curriculum will deliver those skills? How might digital technology create new learning and teaching opportunities?"

So, if we get the curriculum right, there'd be no problem in schools? Improved results = the best of all possible worlds.

Likewise, welfare comes under "Communities and Families", and gets introduced thusly:

Social and community services operate across the country, providing everything from childrens’ services to care for the elderly. Many focus on specific issues such as housing, recreation, drug and alcohol rehabilitation or the needs of specific groups of people such as women, newly arrived refugees or people with disabilities. Services are organised under different arrangements, with funding from governments, philanthropics or community fundraising. What should the social services system look like in 2020 and beyond? Are there common reforms that need to be made to support a more socially inclusive Australia?

Apart from borrowing the UK Labour mantra of Social Exclusion - and at least putting it positively: when a good friend was Deputy Director of the Social Exclusion Unit at No.10, we used to ask her what new ideas she'd come up with to promote Exclusion this week - this isn't exactly heady stuff. So maybe we can assume that Labor's worries about "working families" don't extend to "non-working families"? I hope not, but Manne's book doesn't have any worries about them, either.

We can hope that other submissions to the summit have brought out other aspects of Education and Welfare that need attention - and we can even hope that the co-chairs will add them to the discussion at the weekend - assuming they had any prospect of even reading them - 905 submissions were received on Productivity, and 1139 on Communities and Families. Too late to submit anything more formally, but here's a space for Webdiarists to put forward their own Ideas for a Better Australia.


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Programmed ideologists.

But hey, what would I know, Alga? I’m just another of your mindless programmed academic clones – like quite a few of us moderating here on Webdiary. I wonder whether you have any idea why we bother being involved? “

I understand the problem Fiona, it's the same with all programmed ideologists, they can't see beyond their false believed status of understanding, whilst the reality is they live within primitive delusion. I've read most commentary regarding the 2020 ego wank fest and stick by my comments. It was a dud, set up by a lot of dud clones to swell their psychopathic egocentricity. Academics have their place, in teaching basics of subjects, but the real advances in the world in literature, inventions, understanding and beneficial technological advances come from the lay people of the world and never from bureaucrats or academics, who just produce meaningless politically correct semantic waffle. Rudd is nothing but a useless bureaucratic clone and the 2020 wank fest proves why the country is in such a debauched situation. The action of bureaucrats and academics, along with their corporate masters in making sure real people never got invited, or got a relevant say, shows how ignorant and psychopathologically orientated these inept and empty minded people really are. Why were the heads of business and bureaucrats given such free rein when it is they who are the main instigators and supporters of the current corrupt, biased and elite orientated political and governance system in this country. Basically I couldn't care less what moderators do for a living on this site, as long as they display unbiased approaches in their moderation.

Fiona, unlike you I am not trapped in ideology and have no agenda other than to make a better world. It's ideologists who are causing the problems, yet never come up with any reasonable answers, they just pump out the same failed answering machine responses they so desperately lean on. God is a great example of total stupidity and the desire of enslaved ideologists to return to the suppressive regimes of religiosity, when a look around the world shows just how debauched and evil this primitive, infantile, fearful superstition riddled, mythical god belief really is.

When it comes to market competition in this country there is a simple solution, you legislate or change the constitution to ban any company from holding any more than 20% of a market in any state or the entire federation and no overseas company holding more than 10% of the market, infrastructure or resources. Then we would have real market driven competition across the board, as it's clearly evident current the market driven economy has failed miserable, along with privatisation. The reason we are so highly taxed is because the government has given away to the corporate elite, all the essential services and essential industries of the country, which gave a constant income to government so they could provide lower taxes, control price and labour increases by regulating the markets with government competition. That's the reason why housing has become unaffordable and food prices are out of control, just a few huge companies control the entire food and most other commodity industries. Small scale business and farming has been driven out by the growing monopolisation of all essential industries. Why did they privatise everything? Simple, politicians and the senior bureaucrats are incapable of running anything, as can be seen in every government department in the country. I'd like someone to name one section of government which is performing to the people’s expectation and providing the services expected by people, against the huge waste, bias, discrimination, corruption and uselessness of every government department. When you get away from the front desk in government, you leave behind rational thought, good service, equality, accountability, content and sanity.

The reason for the moral decline and growing unrest in the country is because the bureaucracy and academia has introduced political correctness, which has destroyed families, social services and disenfranchised everyone, turning the country into a politically correct form of youth anarchy and legal confusion. Now we've had a breast beating talk fest system of the academic elite, still trying to force their stupid and failed agenda's and to make it worse, they along with their political and corporate masters wish to flush things further down the drain so they can gain the last crumbs of power and corruption, before our society and world sinks beneath the waves of ideological and economic stupidity. It's all well and good to be able to babble out useless semantics, but the average person dwells in the real world, not the world of ideological elitism and economic greed of bureaucratic academia. Just look at how the people pay for the bureaucratic super and pension systems, as the bureaucrats and academics destroy the country. Yet the people have to set up their own retirement system, politicians and bureaucrats have dismantled the real pension system. So now for the average person who have fought and worked for this country tirelessly, it's a poverty system and comfortable retirement is only for the elitist inept, as they continue to bleed the people to support their unwarranted and unfunded retirement in lavish lifestyles.

Watch out guys - dreams can be (all) nightmares

Fiona, women with high testosterone levels can be soul destroying; for males at least.

Fiona: Justin, I was only trying to hint that the testosterone levels on Webdiary may not have been entirely attributable to the males.

Funny old world hey Jenny

We could engage Justin as bouncer:

No thanks Jenny,  moi is far too old to bounce anyone these days; in fact using my fists (and occasionally a gun) was something I did reluctantly;  but when reason fails to over ride the stupidity (of others) then one must react with everything they have and be totally focused.

Besides, seeing women fight scares the living daylights outa me.

Me Mum by a strange coincidence belted up her step mother. She was about 13 at the time and her (future) stepmother 14. When my Mum was 19 her Dad got divorced (from my beautiful Gran) and married the lass Mum belted up.

Mum said she always knew that girl was a mongrel; looks like Mum was into the pre-emptive thing long before GWB.

Funny old world.

Today Mum, closing in on 90 years old, is still going strong; she's a tough old stick and we have loads of fun together.

As a matter of fact I'm off just now to spend the weekend with her as I do every weekend (bruv looks after her through the week) and tomorrow it will be table 27 at our usual eating place.

As we leave (for table 27) Sunday mornings  I always say to Mum; "let's give em hell."

"Yes dear" - followed with a wry smile.

Bruv and me treat Mum like gold - we don't want to be orphans.

Preemptive strikes

Preemptive action I learnt quite early in life too but I try not to think of guns Justin. I recall the only time I took up arms. I was 12 and my younger brother 10. We were very hard up on our little farm and some creditors had sent in a debt collector who had taken to hassling my mum when Dad was out. Brother and I met him one day in the back yard and helped him off the premises, round a very long drive in fact, prodding him all the way with a loaded .22, threatening all the way to shoot him.  I can still see the haste with which he departed. We must have looked like we meant business and we did. Never saw him again. But looking back we could have spent the rest of our childhood in one of those reform schools. Pre- emeptive action has certain risks.

We treasured our mother till the day she died. If ever anyone lived a Christian life, she did and she never failed to pay every debt she ever owed, as a matter of principle. It just took a bit of time and when we kids left school we all starting work to help her. After all, much of the debt was accrued raising us and educating us. Kids these days could learn a thing or two from our generation.  

It must have been rather annoying for your mother to have to accept a step mother she loathed. She sounds rather feisty though, so I am sure she coped. I was step mother to two small kids and we had a great relationship though step parenting can be very difficult when the biological mother lives just round the corner, but we all coped pretty well too and now I am a step grandparent to two dear little boys.

We'll have to declare the position of bouncer vacant. Have a good time at table 27. Sounds a lot of fun.

So you think the figures are bad now?

Craig Rowley: "Why stop at that point in the speech, Paul? Was it because what followed was the truth about the Howard government's legacy?"

Um, no.

I didn't include it because I didn't feel it right to take up the whole page. So I kept it to the parts I felt were relevant. Given Mr Howard is no longer in office I don't see much point in writing about him. Unlike you I've no bias one way or the other. The only bias I hold is toward good economic policy.

Though, since you brought it up, the Howard figures actually help my case. What Mr Rudd has done is to base what is good and bad policy on these particular figures. Meaning that unless Mr Rudd improves these figures he has become a "self worded" policy failure. In the present climate it would be a very brave man predicting that an improvement on many economic benchmarks will take place in the next few years.

If I were Mr Curran I'd bookmark that particular speech.

The only bias you hold

Paul, you say that the only bias you hold is toward good economic policy. Okay then, let's hear you acknowledge the bad economic policy of the Coalition under Howard.  Afterall, it was their neo-liberal economic policies that resulted in the following over the past decade:

  • Australians who had saved $6.50 in every $100 they earned in income becoming Australians who drew down their savings by 40 cents for every $100 they earn in income.
  • Household debt in Australia standing at $289 billion skyrocketing to $1 trillion.
  • Credit debt soaring from $6.6 billion to $39.6 billion.

Let's also hear you acknowledge that to achieve better results than those listed above, all that the Rudd government needs to do in its first term is implement policy that will reduce the rate of increase in debt. It doesn't need to achieve the impossible (i.e. a complete turnaround overnight).

A request

Kathy Farrelly, so, your use of this is meant to be deliberately offensive?


I request that you don't address me in this way again.

No hope for me!

Yes, it was used as a term of endearment.

Me old mate Jen, is another old girl that I am particularly fond of! (Hope the old Scot is continuing to improve in health,  dear Jen.)

Sorry Fiona, guess I'm just incorrigible.

Fiona: You are, but I have exercised the editor's prerogative, and have amended  your post because a specific request had been made.

WD ladies

Kathy, well at least the WD ladies are of late stopping the boys from hogging the site.  There's a bit too much testosterone around here at times.

Why, in the future there may even be a WD Old Girls Association with Margo as Patron and the oldest qualifer, that's me, as President.

We could engage Justin as bouncer. He sounds like he has the necessary experience.

And thank you, yes. The good Scot is coming good. I see he is back blogging a bit.

Fiona: I have a vague memory, Jenny, of reading somewhere that testosterone levels in females rise as we age...

Paul's problem propagating perceptions

Why stop at that point in the speech, Paul?

Was it because what followed was the truth about the Howard government's legacy:

In March 1996, Australians saved $6.50 in every $100 they earned in income.

But today, under the Howard Government, this savings rate has turned negative – and has stayed that way, for the first time in Australia’s history.

In March 2007, Australians drew down their savings by 40 cents for every $100 they earn in income.

In fact, Australians have been drawing down their savings every year since 2003.

Some may say this doesn’t matter. But it does matter. And it used to matter to Mr Howard.

In June 1995, Mr Howard said when household savings fell to 2.6 per cent – remember today it is below zero:

‘… household savings (is) not a bad indicator of ... the money that people have got left over after they've put bread on the sideboard and ... food on the table ... and it went right over a cliff in the last quarter. Now, what this indicates is there's a massive squeeze on mainstream Australia and the people who are being hurt most are the battlers.’

If there was ‘a massive squeeze on mainstream Australia’ in 1996, then today Australian battlers are being pressed and pushed and squeezed harder than ever before.

The reverse of savings is debt.

And in March 1996, household debt in Australia stood at $289 billion.

In December 2006, this had skyrocketed to $1 trillion.

And it is equally bad when we look at credit card debt.

Between March 1996 and April 2007, total credit debt soared from $6.6 billion to $39.6 billion – in other words, a sixfold increase.

Over the same period, the amount outstanding on each credit card tripled from $946 to $2,934.

In other words, our national economic performance has come on the back of an explosion of household debt.

Despite clear evidence that many Australian families are facing serious financial pressures, Mr Howard arrogantly proclaims that ‘working families in Australia have never been better off’.

And on it goes. Then it gets to the specific promises, i.e. the policies, in the section headed "Labor’s Plan to Help Australian Families."

Perceptions and net gains and losses

Justin Obodie: "Politicians are slimy bastards; we both know that, don't we?"

I wouldn't go so far as to say Mr Rudd is a liar. Politics the world over is of course the art of perceptions (and he plays the game like all the others). It's part of the rules, and if you live by that sword, you'll likely at some stage die by it.

Once read Enron being described as a shit business but a great stock. Perceptions do indeed at times become reality.

Mr Rudd's got a lot of other problems

Fiona Reynolds, after looking at Mr Rudd's speech it becomes apparent he has much bigger problems than just perceptions (real or imagined). He has (rather stupidly) set measurable benchmarks for himself. Up until now I never realized just how bably he's actually set himself up.

Families Falling Behind

Another defining test of good economic management is how individual family households benefit.

Because good economic policy is not an end in itself – it is a means to higher standards of living.

Good economic policy is also measured by its impact on the lives of individual families.

By how much of their take home pay is consumed by mortgage payments.

By what clothes can be afforded after all the grocery bills are paid.

By the difficult trade off between additional hours at work against the cost of child care for your kids.

You will not find these measures in Mr Howard’s rendition of the economic debate - but they do count among the household measures of our economy.

Today, many Australian families are feeling pressures they have never felt before.

But Mr Howard’s response is that working families have never been better off.

This shows a government that after 11 years has gone stale and has lost touch with the needs of working families.

Working families are seeing their bills piling up, their mortgages becoming harder to pay, and the money in their pockets disappearing faster.

They find it hard to reconcile the talk of economic prosperity with their own household circumstances.

For instance, when the Treasurer talks about paying off Government debt, it doesn’t square with their own indebtedness – their mortgage or their credit card statements.

In March 1996, Australians saved $6.50 in every $100 they earned in income.

Any failure to improve any of these things can be seen (his own words) as policy failure. The opposition party would be crazy not to highlight this speech at every given opportunity. They would be completely crazy not to be using before and after figures. They would be completely crazy not to use this speech in their election material. They would be crazy not to make this speech front and center of a re-election campaign.


Kathy Farrelly,  I consider that  the phrase that you used in your last post, "for an old girl", to be sexist, ageist, derisory and somewhat, if not deliberately, offensive.

Would you like to comment on that, old girl?

From a real old girl

F Kendall, I think Fiona would not have been backward in saying if she took Kathy's comment as sexist, ageist, derisory and somewhat, if not deliberately, offensive. As she says, her tough school days taught her a few defensive skills.

Now I am the real old girl here and I think I and all you other up and coming old girls should have a glass of Justin's whatever, though I suspect there is none left. But that won't bother this old girl being as she is both temperate of nature and habit.

Fiona: On the whole, Jenny (and F Kendall), I think Kathy was using it as a term of, um, affection. I don't particularly mind it (and certainly prefer it to Fi). However, we would probably all be wiser to think carefully before using any such terms, as they could be seen by some as offensive. Now why does the word "dude" leap to my mind?

Covered the lot

"sexist, ageist, derisory and somewhat, if not deliberately, offensive."

What can I say,  F Kendall, old girl?

You've covered the lot!


Kathy Farrelly:  "...the previous government had the blowtorch constantly applied..."

Good heavens,  I would have liked to have seen that.  Any government needs to run the gauntlet of something close to a blowtorch.

But, of what are you speaking, Kathy?  In the papers here in NSW the prominent weekly commentaries in the most important  papers by such well known high fliers as Gerard Henderson, Miranda Devine, Piers Ackerman, Tim Blair, et al, et al were in fact constantly an endorsement of the Howard Government, after endorsement of the Howard Government, after endorsement of the Howard Government.

I see from your post that things were different where you live.  Please, can you provide links so that I can agree with you that "the previous government had the blowtorch constantly applied"?

Like tits on a bull

Robert McClelland is as useless as tits on a bull. I had a problem once and he got his "legal adviser" to call me. I knew more about the particular legal issue than his adviser. Therefore his adviser knew less than nothing.

I also met him in his office once and requested some info. He immediatelly copied some crap off the internet which was no help at all.

McClelland will follow the path of least resistance - in short he is lazy.

One of his assistants did, however, on one occassion help me regarding problems with (grubby) Centrelink and their treatment of my daughter who was very ill after a car accident. At least they assisted me in exposing certain Centrelink empoyees as (dishonest) lazy incompetents who had about as much empathy as a dead leech.

Don't expect to much from Bob.

Now would you like to hear about Cherie Burton and what a cranky little number she is? I'll keep that one for later.

Let's Not Quote Journos

There is only one who has been consistent as far as I can see: Piers Ackermann who has maintained the rage against Rudd daily. An obscene obsession.

Peter Hartcher has written a fairly elegant piece in today’s SMH that defines the difference between Howard and Rudd-although it was only 12 months ago that Hartcher quite firmly stated that Howard would win the election and Labour hadn't a snowball's chance in hell.

There is a big difference Kathy Farrelly – Chairman Rudd is a true conservative whilst Howard was a radical reactionary blinded by ambition. All politicians are obviously ambitious, but I believe ambition alone is what drove Howard and that is why he was able to use any group to divide and conquer and bugger the consequences. And once he had the main prize he wasn't giving it up under any circumstances, even if it meant leaving his colleagues in a state of disarray.

So Rudd is far too conservative for me but probably necessary for the moment. However I'm sure he's a far more intelligent and compassionate person than Howard. In fact, Rudd may turn out to be the best PM the Liberals never had just as Bob Carr was the best premier the NSW Liberals never had.

But I see problems already that won't affect Rudd in the long run. We see today that already McClelland has let Keelty and Andrews off the hook over the Haneef affair. This comes as the first bitter disappointment for me.

Bullies are useless cowards.

Fiona, you should have come to school with little old moi. I would have protected you. Once I reluctantly relieved a bully of three teeth; another of half his tongue (they stitched it back); and later (after school days) I was even threatened by a bully with a loaded rifle. Unfortunately he stuck it in my guts and forget to pull the trigger, most unfortunate for the "tough" guy.

The funny thing was I felt sorry for them, but the good thing is two (not the one with the gun) are now good friends of mine.

Nothing like a bloody good blue to bond us males.

PS. If you stick a loaded rifle in somebody's guts best pull the trigger (fast) or take the consequences.

How kind

Thank you for your kind offer, Justin - forty plus years ago I would probably have accepted it. I'm an only child, but sometimes a big brother would have been nice ...

In retrospect, however, I was one of the fortunate to have grown stronger from the experience - but it is imperative to remember how many were not so lucky.

So far as the bullies from my school years are concerned, I couldn't care less about them. Mind you, I haven't attended any school reunions.

However, my school experience showed its utility when it came to encountering, and dealing with, a workplace bully (now a very highly placed person in one of our more august - but now under fire - institutions). Admittedly I did have to wait for some years (seven, I think) before I was able to take revenge. A meal, we are told, that is always best served cold but, believe me, extremely palatable.


My sympathies for such gouging school experiences, Fiona

Very bright children are often - (most usually?) - ostracised and unaccepted,  as I'm sure that you know.   And why shouldn't they be?   Average is the norm, conformity is the norm  - and your genes defy that at your peril.

I'm still trying to reconcile the previous statements, that more parents than ever are sending their children to christian schools, and that young peoples' behaviour is worse than ever.

Fiona: Thank you, F Kendall. I came out stronger, but out of sheer cussedness. And I know several who didn't survive, as well as those who survived but were and remain irreparably damaged.

Politicians are slimy bastards - hic

Paul, me old mate - Kevin Rudd was a Howard hater; and yes I am familiar with that quote, which makes Kevin Rudd a liar.


Because Rudd knew exactly what Howard said, and misrepresented him.

Politicians are slimy bastards; we both know that, don't we?

Cheers old chap - think I'll set a personal best tonight - er - this morning.


Broken promises

Justin Obodie: "Back when John Howard (god love him) was PM, the Howard haters claimed he promised to keep interest rates low. He did no such thing..."

Obviously pointing something out makes one a "hater". Personally, I honestly believed he promised these things. There was certainly never an impression given that he did'nt - during the election campaign of course. Though, as I've written before: I'm not the one that needs convincing about what "impression" was given.

Anyhow I did some Google and look what I came up with:

Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd says Prime Minister John Howard has not taken responsibiliy for breaking his 2004 promise to keep interest rates low, despite apologising for today's rate rise.

Howard Haters - Rudd Haters - Mad Hatters

Promises promises promises; funny (but predictable) old game politics.

Back when John Howard (god love him) was PM, the Howard haters claimed he promised to keep interest rates low. He did no such thing.

Now Kevin (god love him) Rudd haters claim he has promised to do this that and the other.

O deary me......

No wonder people give up this blogging thing and go grow tomatoes or build train sets or something useful.

Please please please don't let prejudice stand in the way of simple comprehension.

Fiona: Justin, thank you for your voice of sweet reason. By the way, I have always been careful to point out that Mr Howard did not promise to keep interest rates low - but I was also careful to point out that his assertion regarding lower interest rates under a Coalition government was unprovable, and hence silly.

Tomorrow I shall start a veggie patch. First crops: datura and aconite.

Work Choices

Work Choices.  The nonsensical claim that a less powerful person could make successful demands of a more powerful.

Where this was demonstrably proven  wrong to the disadvantage of Australia for years to come, was in the contest between nice ole Mark Vaille (now retired?) and Robert Zoellick, now head of the World Bank.   

Of course we were shafted. 

That's how the system works.

"People believe he said..."

"People believe he said..."

Oh Lord, we are back to considering the abysmal level of education in this country again.

 In the eastern states, deconstructing such as political comments is part of the high school curriculum.  Is it not so in the west?

Impressions and a load of awful policy

Fiona: "As long as people like you and Paul Morrella continue to actively promote the "impression" that Mr Rudd "promised" (even if not hand on heart) - or had given the "impression" that he had promised - to lower grocery prices ..."

I'm not "promoting" the impression that was given. Hell, the impression was promoted here pre-election! That Ernest guy is one person that comes to mind. Maybe Mr Rudd can fight the next election on how stupid most voters are? Seriously, I think that these types of "impressions" that Mr Rudd prospered are so much a not double-edged sword as they are a guillotine.

Working conditions have been deregulated since globalization took control. Irrespective of what government now does this won't change.  Business can either afford you (in which case you are employed) or it can't (in which case you're not). Unless Mr Rudd begins getting the situation under control (and not making it worse), many will soon be enjoying the new era of Mr Rudd's de-regulated employment market.

I do note that bank fee increases a role in the latest inflation figures. That's what happens when for political reasons you attempt to let others do the hard yards. I wrote about this three months ago, and I said it would come back to cause problems - and of course it has.

That Ernest guy

Paul, I do believe that the "Ernest guy" was not a proper person, but just part of the huge Labor con-job. I find it very strange that we have not heard from him since the election. I am sure that he must be appalled at the recent interest rate rises not to mention the inflation figures.

Not a proper person?

Alan Curran, what do you mean by your suggestion (belief?) that Webdiarist Ernest Graham is "not a proper person"?

Are you, perhaps, suggesting that he does not exist as a human being? Or maybe that he is in some way "improper"? If the latter, please state your grounds.

Proper person

Fiona Reynolds, I just find it weird that Ernest can just sit there whilst Rudd & Co (this depraved governement) screw the country. Not a word from him about the recent interest rates or the petrol prices (Howard's fault).

Fiona: If that's all, I think you should retract the allegations in your earlier post. Ernest was open about his membership of the ALP; perhaps he considers that the interest rate and petrol price increases can and should be put down to the Howard government, but that - given Howard is no longer in power - to point that out might be regarded as mere gloating.

Only a matter of time

Eliot Ramsey: In fact, I sometimes suspect why the Marxisant loony-fringe likes CO2 emissions trading so much is it helps keep alive the illusions of their cherished doctrines to do with 'iron laws' of the 'concentration of capital', and that sort of gibberish."

That the "loons" thought it work tells you all you need to know.

Something like this was never going to be acceptable in the United States - and it never will be. Australia was a smart operator holding out - pity intelligence isn't transferable in government.

The simple fact is that Australia like the United States will never have such taxes for very long (the cultures regarding taxes are very to Europe). As the prices rise the opposing party (political opportunism) merely targets the taxes - even makes the abolition an election promise as opposed to "impression".

People singing the praises of Kyoto haven't yet began to understood the impact. That time of understanding is looming.

For Mr Rudd the game is up

Craig Rowley: "They may well have the money to take over Coles or Woolworths, but then you've got it all wrong again, Paul, as the legislation being changed does not facilitate such takeovers." 

I never got it wrong to begin with - in fact I predicted exactly what was going to happen. The person getting it most wrong was Mr Rudd with his silly George Bush Sr "impressions". Impressions it seems people no longer feel he should be held accountable. Though, I'm not sure that those people are really the ones Mr Rudd should be concerned about.

The legislative change proposed simply removes one impediment to aquisition of "greenfield" sites by foreign entities.

It allows majors such as Wal-Mart to compete with national chains for premium sites (pushing up site prices). It also allows them an indefinite time frame to begin business in certain locations. This will have no tangible effect on prices in the near to mid term - in fact probably never, because a Wal-Mart would take over an existing business. The reserved sites would merely be for future use.

Mr Rudd made at least "impressions" that prices would decline pre-election. The impressions he made were of course false - and they were always going to become false. No matter how much you or anyone else wishes to change history the "impressions" will remain false for a few more years to come. What makes his stated aim a "lie" is that he's worked to achieve things that will in fact make prices rise. It's pretty simple really: no amount of you wishing to change the reality is going to make a difference to the final outcome. Prices are going to rise, and things are going to be a lot tougher then previous years.

Prices are set to rise, and to rise in the near to medium term future. That is of course unless he gets the coming budget exactly right. Then of course you'll be dealing with a whole other set of "broken promises" or "impressions".

There's no reason whatsoever that the opposition party should believe they cannot win the next election. Economically sensible (properly researched) and well explained policies will win it for them. Really, it's now all in their hands.

Concentration of industry

Craig Rowley: "How about you provide a pointer to something, anything, that lends some support to your claim that "a carbon tax will in fact reduce competition"?

Well, the obvious way that would happen is the additional costs shaking the more marginal producers out of their respective industries - thus accelerating concentrations within those industries. 

Nigel Lawson makes this stunning observation, too:

So the chief consequence of decarbonising here, and making energy much more expensive, would simply be to accelerate the exodus of industry from the UK and Europe to China and elsewhere in the developing world - with, as a result, little or no reduction in overall global emissions.

Same for Australian and American and every other 'compliant' nation's industry. This is the chief reason China's in no hurry to sign up for any serious global emissions treaties. Not that they'd abide by them, anyway.

In fact, I sometimes suspect why the Marxisant loony-fringe likes CO2 emissions trading so much is it helps keep alive the illusions of their cherished doctrines to do with 'iron laws' of the 'concentration of capital', and that sort of gibberish.

Expansion of clean industry

Matching any "accelerating" concentration within those industries exposed to higher carbon tax costs because they emit more CO2 there would be an accelerating expansion of lean, clean, green firms.

And, with revenue recycling, offsetting the tax on the economic 'bad' (e.g. pollution) would be reduction of taxes on the economic  'good' (e.g. employment, income, investment).

Plus, carbon leakage (which you and Nigel seem so concerned about) can be managed and its effects mitigated.

The changes have already happened

Kathy Farrelly, Australia's large land mass and relative population to that land mass make any outbreak of the world greatest shopping wars most unlikely. You'll find that's the major reason that the industry consolidated to begin with (the beginning of globalization).

This recommandation sounds good in theory; it's of course nothing more than talk for the sake of talk. You'll probably find the orginal twelve months plan rules (or whatever it was), were in place as an attempt to force globalists like Wal-Mart into making a decision. The only sensible decision of course for the likes of Wal-Mart and Costco is to take over an established existing business - and both companies have the money and now legislation to do so.

Wrong again, Paul

"... and both companies have the money and now legislation to do so."

They may well have the money to take over Coles or Woolworths, but then you've got it all wrong again, Paul, as the legislation being changed does not facilitate such takeovers. 

The legislative change proposed simply removes one impediment to aquisition of "greenfield" sites by foreign entities.

A tax is a tax is a tax

Craig Rowley: "I'd be interested in seeing if there is anything to support these hysterical claims you make that "business will be ruined" by adjustment to a lower carbon emission economy."

I've never written all "business would be ruined". Some larger ones will in fact become larger.  An extra tax, and one of this magnitude, will most certainly push some businesses over the edge (ones that cannot absorb the costs). Any tax is of course a polite way of saying extra expense. Every time an entrepreneur decides expenses outweigh benefits you've reduced competition.

Of course the argument here is whether this will make gas, produce, and housing cheaper? No. It will of course make all these things much more expensive.

Paying more is not downward pressure

Craig Rowley: "So it's possible that with a carbon tax we get greater competition in energy production and provision. More competition equals lower prices, yes?"

Well it does; however, what you write of is not competition. You are in fact wanting to help one industry at the expense of another. Exactly because one industry cannot compete. The reason: costs and prices.

There is also nothing stopping major energy produces offsetting carbon taxes by simply investing in alternative energy, and gaining tax exemptions. The result: nothing (economic) changes except the consumer pays more.

Still wrong

Craig Rowley: "The mistake you are making, Paul, is failing to acknowledge that the measure being taken to increase competition willmean more downward pressure on the rate of inflation of grocery prices through competition than there was prior to the election of a Rudd Labor government."

Yes, but what period is the inflation rate going to be measured against? I mean, Robert Mugabi could make minimal moves that if measured in isolation put downward pressure on inflation. Still doesn't mean the current inflation rate is acceptable, does it?

Think of the fight against inflation as inputs, and outputs. If your outputs outweigh inputs two to one; you've a problem.

Secondly merely talking about competition doesn't make it neccessarily follow you'll have it. Wal-Mart, Costco etc for example would be much better served buying into an existing business, and re-inventing the business model. One thing for sure none of the present "talk" (and that is all it is at the moment); is going to help Mr Rudd for a long time to come.

If you'd deal with the reality, as contrasted to your mistaken impressions, you'd be noting that both the measure to increase competition may be offset by those other potential measures, andthe potential inflationary effect of carbon tax, for example, will be offset by other measures that put downward pressure on the inflation rate; measures such as opening up competition in the wholesale and retail grocery sector.

No it won't. A carbon tax will in fact reduce competition. It will lead to a raft of mergers, and take overs. Along with lesser (smaller) businesses simply becoming just lesser (as in no longer in business).

Oh, that's right ... it's about setting up unrealistic expectations so that when the next election is on, Liberal Party propagandists can claim that so-called "promises" (or "impressions" or whatever) were not delivered.

I'm not an Australian political or any other political party propagandist. If I were in the Australian Liberal party, for example, they would be doing a lot better than they currently are. The current argument by this particular government is economic gibberish (as opposed to action) that's bound to end in failure. The current opposition party should be highlighting this and explaining the reasons for the oncoming failure. It also wouldn't hurt them to start laying the ground work for having sensible (even if pipe dream shattering) alternative policies.

It's "economic gibberish", you say ...

... whilst you, Paul, offer up no more than gibberish (not even "economic gibberish"). 

How about you provide a pointer to something, anything, that lends some support to your claim that "a carbon tax will in fact reduce competition"? I'd be interested in seeing if there is anything to support these hysterical claims you make that "business will be ruined" by adjustment to a lower carbon emission economy.

Bad isolation economics

Craig Rowley: "Will it mean more downward pressure on the rate of inflation of grocery prices than existed prior to the election of a Rudd Labor government? Yes."

Um, no.

The mistake you are making is looking at costs and competition in isolation. Even excluding the fact that an entire re-invention of an industry will take years. Hardly helpful in the cycle of "government having all answers".

Mr Rudd will of course be directly responsible for creating two problems that will wipe away any gains made by this recommendation. The first problem is the re-centralization of wage agreements - the costs of which will continue to come through the inflation figures. The second problem (and much more serious) is the cost of any future carbon tax (a regressive tax in relation to people's wealth). Two future problems that Mr Rudd, and Mr Rudd alone, can be held responsible for - making a complete lie of his "pre-election impression".

The other problems of course (most important problems) are outside his hands. Things such as the price of oil, and other commodity prices. Though, and this is Mr Rudd's major problem, he never made this clear whilst he allowed his "pre-election impressions" to run rampant. Like I've already written; it's not me who needs to be convinced about Mr Rudd's "real intentions".

The mistake you are making Paul

The mistake you are making, Paul, is failing to acknowledge that the measure being taken to increase competition will mean more downward pressure on the rate of inflation of grocery prices through competition than there was prior to the election of a Rudd Labor government. 

What you are doing is ignoring that measure which will have the result of creating downward pressure and focusing only on the potential measures which may put upward pressure on the inflation rate (i.e. carbon taxes). 

If you'd deal with the reality, as contrasted to your mistaken impressions, you'd be noting that both the measure to increase competition may be offset by those other potential measures, and the potential inflationary effect of carbon tax, for example, will be offset by other measures that put downward pressure on the inflation rate; measures such as opening up competition in the wholesale and retail grocery sector.

And that mistake runs further

Paul, your position on the inflationary effect of a carbon tax fails to take into account the deflationary effect of the stimulus to competition in the energy sector. 

It's polluting energy producers who'll be taxed highest if a carbon tax were to come in, and that tax collected would be used to support "green energy" producers.  That's on top of the effects on investment decisions. 

So it's possible that with a carbon tax we get greater competition in energy production and provision. More competition equals lower prices, yes?

PM's as God

Eliot, you seem obsessed with trying to convince us that Howard & Co  were responsible for the rise in the wealth of Australia which dismisses the actual work done by the citizens themselves and is completely contrary to Liberal Party policy that individuals be free to persue their own desitiny.

And there is a argument that could be put that if Howard hadn't been in power - and remember, he barely survived his second election with an unprecedented drubbing by losing a massive swag of seats picked up just three years earlier with Kim Beazley also winning the popular vote -  Australia may have become even vastly richer with the continued Hawke / Keating reforms that transformed the economy.

In fact, can you name me one Australian Prime Minister in the history of the country where wealth has decreased? Corporations or individuals don't come to a standstill just because one particular party is in power and they disagree with their policies - they work around them. But some benefit more than others from the party in power (NSW ALP?).

It's a meaningless argument you are trying to have. Howard and Costello claimed that every positive thing that happened over the past 11 years was due to their efforts whether they had a hand in it or not ( including us benefiting from China's massive surge) and every failure was due to the previous Keating / Hawke government right up to Howard's demise.

 Now we have the Liberals, particularly Malcolm Turnbull, attemting to blame Chairman Rudd for failures after a paltry five months in office - it will take up to two years for changes to kick in. At the moment everything is still just a policy being implemented and we have to wait and see what works and what doesn't.

As to Bob Hawke's statement, it's been pointed out enough times that his written speech originally said that "by 19** no child should have to live in poverty". Instead he admits he mis-spoke it and said "no child will ". Hardly a crime and and the endless nitpicking afterwards was just another example of the media's navel gazing.

PM as God

Michael de Angelos: "At the moment everything is still just a policy being implemented and we have to wait and see what works and what doesn't."

What about his promise to "Put downward pressure on inflation"? This week the inflation rate rose and you seem to think that this is OK. The man is a liar and a con man.

All Are Welcome At Wal*Mart

Craig Rowley: "And that action is just one that's based on what is becoming evident through the promised and promptly delivered National Grocery Pricing Inquiry"

Craig Rowley using Costco and Wal-Mart in a favorable light lol. A favored son surely makes for all types of curious relationships.

Actually, it may make a slight difference on prices. That though depends on what period the prices are measured against. Will it mean lower prices than before Mr Rudd's pre-elected "given impression"? No.

Bringing to Australia a company such as Wal-Mart could also cause other problems. For one I find it difficult to believe that Wal-Mart would'nt strive for at least some "special dispensation" in employment relations. There would also arise many nationalistic concerns and so on. Sure the present Australian retailers may be sob's; but damn it, they're Australian sob's.

The mooted carbon taxes will of course go further than offsetting any gains. The present conditions under this government (without a big re-think) are about to be seen as the best it ever got in relation to produce prices.

Lower inflation rates

"Will it mean lower prices than before Mr Rudd's pre-elected "given impression"? No."

Will it mean more downward pressure on the rate of inflation of grocery prices than existed prior to the election of a Rudd Labor government? Yes.


Thank you Fiona

Now, I've read The Way of All Flesh ... why didn't I notice it?

No answer required for that!


Youth is like spring

Fiona:  The quote that got me and my children through not only adolescence, but early adulthood was:

"Youth is like Spring:  a much overrated season".

I can't find an attribution, so perhaps they were my father's wise words.

Fiona: Nice quote, F Kendall. It is a slight rewording of Samuel Butler's aphorism (in The Way of All Flesh):

To me it seems that youth is like spring, an over-praised season more remarkable for biting winds than genial breezes. Autumn is the mellower season, and what we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruits.

A positive step

In a democracy, I  think that  at least some of the achievment of  positive outcomes could be expected to come from the population at large, rather than by ukase.

If Rudd has changed people's hearts and minds at all, or empowered them at all, then that is a positive step.   

Bob Hawke's emotional outpourings didn't do this. I particularly remember when the kids' TV viewing was interrupted by an "important message from the P.M.", which was some personal nonsense.  Ironically, the programme was You Can't Do This on Television, and the episode was about the irrational and arbitrary ways in which adults interfere in childrens' interests.  It taught the kids lots about politics,

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