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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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Naughty little boys

Jenny, poor old Ian, damned if he tells the truth damned if he don't.

Another quick anecdote; all this school talk has brought back into consciousness a whole lot of stuff - thanks

Metalwork class - when we all completed a job the students lined up in front of the teacher's desk to get the job marked; teach would mark then give the job back , and the next kid would then present his job.

On one occassion the first kid got his job marked, then passed it to the next kid and so on.

The teacher marked the same job 15 times and the scores varied from 5.5 to 9 out of 10.

John, I'm with you on the religion thing but I suppose you gathered that all ready.

PS Jenny maybe you could start a separate thread on school days - it could be a hoot.


Craig Rowley says:

"And using Eliot's methodology we could only conclude that the Coalition government under Howard completely failed to address the issues keeping the indigenous, lone parents and the disabled in those circumstances."

Well, be that as it may, Craig. And it's not my methodology, It's that employed by a Professorial Research Fellow at the Faculty of Economics and Commerce at the University of Melbourne.

You can cherry-pick it all you want, but the fact remains "those at the bottom of the ladder rose more sharply than for those near the top" under Howard.

And all the "indigenous, lone parents and the disabled " have from Rudd so far is "Sorry", a tax cut for the rich, and the 20.20 Summit.

As I said, time will tell, won't it?


Well, be that as it may, Eliot, I may just have followed your cherry-picking methodology.

I'd done so to point out that one News Limited reporter's take on the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey contained more mixed results, not just the one that you had selectively highlighted.

Let's start to look at all the findings of the HILDA survey, shall we?

Better still

Let's have a look at (and listen to) Mark Wooden expressing his conclusions his own way:

  1. Economic growth has favoured those on low incomes.
  2. Changes in wealth "appear" to favour those on high incomes.
  3. Usual suspects have missed out.
  4. Current income not good predictor of future income.

So the correlation between economic growth (job growth) and increases on low incomes is strong. Increasing asset values would seem to benefit high income earners. Those needing welfare most, missed out.

Aside from pointing out the more complex picture, it's interesting to note the particular language Mark and his collegue used there. The poor are "suspect" to them, it would seem.  I wonder why?

sample size

Michael de Angelos: "The Melbourne Institute - a study of 14000 people -meaningless"

The study team was chaired by Professor Mark Wooden who is a Professorial Research Fellow and  Deputy Director of the Melbourne Institute which is within the Faculty of Economics and Commerce at the University of Melbourne.

They're perfectly well qualified to speak on matters of labour economics.

And to lightly dismiss a study involving a sample of 14,000 people shows a certain unwillingness to face up to facts, Michael.

Sample size

The more important sample size issue, Michael, is Eliot's selective sampling of that article by Stephen Lunn, for it also stated:

Those who remained stalled in the lowest 20 per cent of income and wealth over the six years surveyed were the indigenous, lone parents and the disabled.

And using Eliot's methodology we could only conclude that the Coalition government under Howard completely failed to address the issues keeping the indigenous, lone parents and the disabled in those circumstances.

Failing to address issues.

 Bob Hawke, June 23, 1987: "We set ourselves  this first goal: by 1990 no child will be living in poverty ."

 The more things change the more they stay the same, eh?

 PS. Richard, happy to cross swords with you any time Darl. You will find that I am really just a  harmless lil' ole' pussycat!  Apart from a certain time of the month when I can be positively beastly.

Fiona: Kathy, don't you see a difference between "addressing" and "achieving"? Between an aspiration and a result?

Here's hoping

I guess what I am saying, Fiona, is that nothing has changed from the days Hawkie made that infamous promise. Nothing has been achieved.

Surely when someone addresses an issue, the intent  to achieve a positive outcome would be paramount!

I guess one could say that Rudd has addressed many issues and achieved nothing. But as Michael said and I am prepared to concede, "give him time"

Lets hope things will change, for the better.

Hope, faith, and maybe even a bit of charity

First, Hawke’s “no child shall live in poverty” statement was a goal, not a promise, not an undertaking – not set in stone. There is a difference, Kathy.

Let me illustrate by giving you an (imprecise) analogy. Let’s say that a woman says to her partner, “Look, darl, you’re carrying a bit too much weight. I’m worried about you, and the quack has said that you really need to lose 10 kg. OK then, it’s your birthday in 6 months’ time. I’d really like to set a goal: in 6 months’ time you, Albert, will be 10 kg lighter.”

What’s more, the woman really helps by having good healthy food around, cooking delectable low GI meals, cutting back the grog, encouraging pleasant exercise – but by the time the birthday comes around Albert has lost only 9kg.

Does that count as failure?

What if Albert has only lost 5 kg? Failure?

What if Albert has only lost 500g? Failure?

What is Albert has gained 1 kg or so….?

Does the woman berate Albert for failing to achieve the goal (or to “keep” his “promise”)? Does Albert berate the woman for not getting Albert to “his” goal (or for not keeping her “promise”)? Does the woman beat herself around the head for “failing”?

What if it turns out that Albert has some underlying disorder that means that his metabolism does not respond in the expected manner to reduced food and increased exercise? (Such conditions do exist.)

But surely – even if Albert only loses 500g, that’s better than no loss. Indeed, I’d hope that the couple would congratulate each other on making some progress at least, and might even agree to keep up the effort.

OK, it’s not an exact analogy, nor is it meant to be.

But what concerns me about all those people who – only a short time after the government has changed – accuse Rudd of not taking action, but of merely dealing in words, is that they could be seen as wanting Rudd to fail.

And where’s the Christianity in that so far, for example, as wanting to see the gap in life expectancy between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians reduced?

(By the way, I thought at the time that Hawke was a fool giving himself such a short lead-time to attempt the achievement of that particular goal….)

Splitting hairs

I think we are splitting hairs here Fiona.Whilst Hawke did not make a promise, his intentions were genuine. He honestly believed it was an achievable goal. To say that it was not an undertaking, not set in stone(what in life is?) is to detract from the substance of his heartfelt speech.

In short, it belittles him.

And as a result, he becomes just another politician, ducking and weaving. Not to be trusted or believed.

Fiona: Oh come now, Kathy - what's your evidence that Mr Hawke honestly believed that the goal was achievable? I can't believe that so clear-eyed a woman as you was - like so many females - seduced by him. Mr Hawke was always a consummate politician and, as F Kendall has pointed out, much given to emotional gestures.

Not this time!

Of course I have no evidence, Fiona. It is just what I felt at the time. I really  thought that it was a genuine gesture. Mind you it was many a year ago and I was a mere slip of a girl. Hormones were a ragin' then.

 Remember what George Bernard Shaw said, Fiona?

Youth is wasted on the young!

Rudd is a consummate politician too, Fiona, but I ain't gettin' sucked in this time. No siree!

 Mind you I am much older and ... (I hesitate to say) much wiser.

Youth, age, and cynicism

Kathy, it is possible to strike a balance between unquestioning belief in, and utter cynicism about, any statement made by any politician. To attain that balance it is essential to be dispassionate and to analyse statements in their context and with caution.

As should be obvious to anyone who has been reading my occasional posts, I am a supporter of Rudd, but not an unquestioning one. That said, something that does impress me about him is that he doesn't seem to be in the business of setting unrealistic goals. This is particularly important so far as taking practical action to redress the situation of many indigenous Australians is concerned.

Ah youth. I've always liked the following (from the 16th century French poet Henri Estienne):

Ô si la jeunesse savait,
Ô si la vieillesse pouvait.

(roughly translated as: If only youth knew; if only age could.....)

So true.

"If only youth knew; if only age could..."

I like that, Fiona. So true...

Always Study The Source Eliot

The Melbourne Institute - a study of 14000 people - meaningless. And plenty of weasel words like income with "Wealth for the median household has risen rapidly since the turn of the century, from $215,000 to $340,000, fuelled by the property boom ". That is of course, totally and utterly useless "wealth".

That is certainly something Howard and Costello left us - an artificially inflated property boom that helps no-one and risks all. Plus the highest taxes ever paid in the history of Australia.

True, Chairman Rudd has at least a vision of what Australia could become in 2020 but has also asked us all to be involved. Howard's vision extended as far as the next election and whether he could get himself re-elected and if not, bugger everyone else including his own party.

Taking action on factors driving up grocery prices

Action is being taken:

IN a move to drive down food prices, the Federal Government will make it easier for foreign supermarket chains such as Wal-Mart, Costco and Aldi to set up in Australia and challenge giants Coles and Woolworths.

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

An inquiry into grocery prices by the competition watchdog has heard evidence that the dominance of Coles and Woolworths is stifling competition and keeping food prices higher than they should be. Foreign supermarkets have complained that foreign investment rules put them at a competitive disadvantage.

Foreign retailers not the solution.

Foreign retailers 'not the solution.' This interesting piece is on page four of The Australian today.

Apparently the Rudd government's plan to lower food prices by allowing foreign supermarket  chains to enter the Australian market has been criticized by economists and retailers, who say it will make little difference to the price of groceries.

The peak body representing Australia's largest retailers the Australian National Retailers Association, said the move would not increase competition because it did not address the underlying problem, which was lack of new supermarket sites. John Cummings, the chairman of the National Association of Retail Grocers of Australia, which represents 4500 independent retailers said the proposal would make no difference to grocery prices. " For an international player  to get into the australian market and compete with Coles and Woolworths, they would need to find 750 supermarket sites around Australia, and that just simply is not going to happen," Mr Cummings said.

Something else that should be noted here. Once a supermarket chain secures a site, it can take years before the store is built. Usually due to red tape and council restrictions.

I have some first hand knowledge of these sorts of situations. I was an Administration Manager for one of the big supermarket retail chains, some years ago.

I remember one particular situation where it took up to five years until the completion of one supermarket. Planning restrictions and ongoing problems with the council were primary causes.These issues would most certainly need to be addressed in the first instance.

But, as John Cummings has already noted, it will be a hard task to find sites for these new supermarkets anyway.

The "Silver Bullet" Strawman, yet again

The Rudd government's move to change the foreign investment policy to extend the timeframe for the development of vacant commercial land from 12 months to five years is part of "the solution"; not "the solution" on its own. 

Like with a range of other issues, the problems are complex and that complexity means multifaceted solutions are required.

What is it with this fixation on finding "the solution" in one magic silver bullet measure?  Why do some knock up that straw man time and time again?

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.

Time and again they'll try to promote their misrepresentation of what the other side has promised and achieved to distract and detract from the real progress made in delivering on the real promises.

No silver bullet

Unfortunately lowering the price of groceries will be a promise that Rudd will be unable to keep. Changing the foreign investment policy to extend the timeframe for the development of vacant commercial land will be largely ineffectual. Even if there was enough land to build these foreign owned supermarkets, there would be objections lodged by Coles and Woolworths, to the relevant councils. These two conglomerates would do everything (legally) possible to stymie the efforts of the newcomers. They have much clout and could certainly hold up progress for some years.

Rudd's promise to lower grocery prices was naive and ill considered in my opinion.

The scarcity of land and water will continue to push up the price of groceries for many years to come. Unfortunately there is no silver bullet, and Kevin Rudd should have understood the complexity of the problem, when he made that foolish election promise.

Promises, promises...

Kathy Farrelly: “Rudd's promise to lower grocery prices was naive and ill considered in my opinion.”

Please give me chapter and verse, Kathy. When did Mr Rudd “promise” (oh dear, that word again…) to lower grocery prices? Or is it another case of "just what [you] felt at the time"?

Have you actually read Mr Rudd’s fresh ideas speech delivered on 11 July 2007? Craig Rowley linked to it earlier this week, and also extracted parts of it.

With many apologies for duplicating Craig’s post, here are the most relevant parts again – the underlined sections are my added emphasis.

Nowhere – I repeat, nowhere – did Mr Rudd promise to lower grocery prices. The entire thrust of his speech is about the need to obtain facts so that policy makers (ie the Government) can make informed (as opposed to shooting-from-the hip, populist) decisions. He also suggests that one consequence of obtaining the facts is that competition between the major retailers may be increased – to the benefit of the Australian consumer.

These are not promises, Kathy, though I suspect that your response will be to the effect of “well, it sounded like a promise to me”. Far from being “naïve and ill considered”, these are strategies for obtaining the best possible information in order to take intelligent action.

OK, then, back to what Mr Rudd actually said:

Acting on Rising Grocery Bills

Earlier, I outlined the recent price increases in the cost of bread, fruit and vegetables – increases that are above and beyond the increases in inflation.

While the cost of some basic items is clearly outstripping general inflation, movements in the prices of these goods are not always transparent, or indeed easily explained.

There are many arguments put forward by those concerned about higher grocery prices.

Some argue that food prices are ever increasing, that they are not captured well by the CPI, and that the pricing practices of our major retailers – Coles and Woolworths – make the problem worse.

A cursory look at the CPI, however, indicates that much of this data is captured by the statisticians but that it often gets diluted when we focus on the aggregate CPI figure of a typical basket of goods and services.

It is clear that our families don’t go out each week and purchase a car, computer, or a plasma TV – for which prices have generally been falling – but they do buy their milk, bread, cereals, vegetables, fruit, and drinks every week – for which prices generally have been rising faster than the general CPI.

Similarly, there are conflicting views as to the level of competition and its impact on prices in general and in specific areas.

Some argue that vertical integration, monopsonistic buying practices, and creeping acquisition are responsible for price rises and for our producers at the farm gate getting less and less of the profit share.

But the methodological complexities involved in assessing these means that it is hard for policy judgements to be made definitively.

And of course, we know that seasonal factors, and unseasonal ones, such as our prolonged drought and Cyclone Larry up in North Queensland have and are having a material impact on the prices of many of our groceries.

Today I want to outline some first steps in how we might get to the bottom of what actually is driving grocery prices up so much.

ACCC and Grocery Prices

I strongly believe that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has a greater role to play in the retail grocery sector – to make sure that families are getting a fair deal at the supermarket.

When families fill up their baskets and trolleys at the local supermarket, they should not have to worry if they are getting a raw deal through inflated grocery prices.

So I ask – why does the ACCC monitor the prices of other goods that affect the household budget - petrol, utilities, bank fees - but not grocery prices?

That is why today I announce a new role for the ACCC in protect consumers in the supermarket.

First, if Labor forms the next government of Australia, the ACCC will be directed to publish a periodic survey of grocery prices at supermarkets for a typical shopping basket, including family staples like biscuits, bread and baked beans.

The ACCC will establish a dedicated website to publish this pricing snapshot – this very act will serve to increase transparency in the market place and in so doing exert greater competitive pressure on the retail market.

Surveys will be conducted in all states, in both metropolitan and regional areas, and will provide the ACCC with the pricing information it needs to identify whether there are indications of breaches of the Trade Practices Act that require further investigation.

National Grocery Pricing Inquiry

Second, while we need more information on prices published regularly, I have listened and heard the various arguments put to me by families, consumer groups, independent retailers and farmers as to the causes of higher grocery prices and their consequences.

We need to know the factors driving up prices of our groceries and whether they are due to unfair practices or fixable causes.

Is competition unfair in the market place?

Are consumers being exploited?

Are farmers at the gate getting their fair share?

Are small business and independent retailers being unfairly treated or competitive enough?

These are not unreasonable questions – indeed, they are questions that families facing their grocery bills each week need addressed.

That is why today I announce that if Labor forms the next government, I will instigate a public inquiry by the ACCC into these matters to report to the Government within 6 months.

The remit for this National Grocery Pricing Inquiry will be broad and will take submissions from individuals, consumer groups, our retailers, businesses along the supply chain, and other interested parties.

In making this announcement today, I am saying that consumers have the right to be well-informed; that policy makers need the best available evidence on which to move forward to address concerns that Australians have.

To oppose this is to dismiss the concerns that the community has; it is to admit that our families have never been better off; that the price rises they experience are mythical and not real.

Labor’s Price Watch

Third, to get the ball rolling, and as a sign of good faith, today I also announce that Labor – from Opposition – will do our bit to keep Australian families informed about the best price deals and take some of the stress off their budgets.

In some electorates, Labor members already conduct a price watch.

They engage volunteers who survey local supermarket prices on an agreed basket of goods.

The results are published regularly recognising competitive pricing by local supermarkets and informing consumers.

The scheme promotes competition and consumers are the beneficiaries.

I intend to ensure this kind of activity occurs across each of the States and Territories and the results published on the national ALP website.

This is a small immediate step to demonstrate our intent to empower Australian families at the supermarket.

Overall, these measures are not big spending initiatives. And they are not about large-scale government intervention in the market.

Rather they are about using the levers that the Federal Government has – but has so far not used – to ensure that at the household level, families are receiving a fair deal.

It is about government paying attention to the home economy – as well as the national economy.

If through better competition between the major retailers we can help the family grocery budget, we will have acted in the public interest.

Rudd never put his hand on his heart, but...

 Oh come on  Fiona,  we all know that Rudd never put his hand on his heart and swore to lower grocery prices. It is the perception that Rudd  himself has created that has people believing that he will lower prices. He is a very cunning politician, much more so , than his predecessor. The fact is, people believe that Rudd has promised to lower grocery prices. It's an impression Rudd has created. And he does 'appear' to be addressing the problem of climbing grocery prices.

He will however in my opinion achieve nought for the reasons I outlined in my previous comment.

Malcolm Colless had this to say, in "The Australian" March 4,  2008

Politics is very much about perception. For example the success of Labor's campaign against the Howard  government's  Work Choices legislation in the run-up to the November election was built on the perception that this was industrial relations  evil personified...

During the campaign Labor also exploited  the rise in interest rates to attack Howard by claiming that he had promised to keep these down and had failed. In fact what Howard had said was that interest rates would be lower under a Coalition government than under a Labor government. In the end it didn't matter.

Pressures beyond the control of the Howard government, drove interest rates up, as they will under  the Rudd government.

While Rudd asserts whenever the opportunity arises that he is an economic conservative, he came into government on a platform that promises intervention in response to consumer concerns about increasing prices..

What this intervention can achieve over and above the provisions which already exist under competition and consumer protection laws is far from clear.

Are we meant to believe that the inquiry by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission into national grocery prices  is going to lead to a reduction in the price of the goods in the family shopping basket in supermarkets? I don't think so.

More likely it is going to startlingly reveal that these costs are driven by factors such as drought , flood, transport charges , petrol and even bio-fuels, as worldwide ethanol production depletes supplies of corn and wheat previously used for food.

Getting back to the issue of perception, the ACCC is effectively being asked to produce an online shoppers'  guide in the form of a " pricing snapshot"

 In the run- up to the election Rudd said he believed this would serve to increase  transparency in the market place and thereby exert greater competitive pressure on the retail sector..

Colless further says

The challenge confronting him is to be able to deliver on the expectations he has created in the community and to avoid the conclusion  that these were merely populist gestures designed to maximize Labor's political appeal during the election campaign..

I stand by my comments. Having worked in the retail sector for many years, I do consider Rudd's undertakings, dealing with escalating grocery prices, to be  ill considered and naive.

Whether Rudd has promised or not (hand on heart) is not the issue here, it's the perception he has created and continues to promote.

People believe he said he will lower the price of groceries.

Just do a google, and you'll see.

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 then those in the population who do not take the trouble to analyse for themselves will have their ill-founded belief reinforced. As to WorkChoices, I know far too many people who have lost both conditions and income through AWAs to accept Colless's argument on that point.

By the way, Kathy, if you are going to quote from pieces such as Colless's, please include the appropriate hyperlink. Moderators really don't have time to go hunting for them.

Rudd's own doing.

This is all Rudd's own doing, Fiona, not mine. I have not created any impression, nor actively sought to do so. Rudd himself gave me that impression, and obviously many others too! (Have a google.) People I speak to have said to me that they believe Rudd said he would keep grocery prices down.

"As long as people like you" Care to elaborate on that? Would you like me to express an opinion that is more in keeping with your own?

And Richard would hate to cross swords with me?

Talk about a bad mood, counselor.  I'll just crawl back under my rock from whence I came.

Fiona: Not sure what you mean about a bad mood, Kathy. As for your opinion, you are entitled to it. I'm equally entitled to point out when your opinion is based on a fallacy or three. I shall write at greater length tomorrow.

Unwelcome opinions.

Fiona: "As for your opinion, you are entitled to it."

On the other hand you have been quite rude and dismissive of the opinions that I have expressed. Your ungracious manner is also not conducive to meaningful discussion.

"Please give me chapter and verse, Kathy. When did Rudd "promise"(oh dear that word again.....) to lower prices?"

Fair enough question Fiona. But then you had to add " Or is it just another case of "just what " [you] felt at the time"?" A sarcastic assumption intended to belitle. Completely unnecessary.

"As long as people like you....." – casting aspersion on one's character in order to undermine their credibilty. Completely unnecessary, and without substance.

"These are not promises, Kathy, though I suspect that your response will be to the effect of "well it sounded like a promise to me"." Another sarcastic assumption. Completely unnecessary.

Sure, challenge what I say, Fiona, but cut the personal ridicule. I am left with the feeling that you are not really interested in my point of view at all.

I know that you have a high regard for Rudd.

I, on the other hand, am quite dispassionate when it comes to Rudd. I do think that he has encountered little scrutiny from the press, and that is not a good thing. Considering that the previous government had the blow torch constantly applied, I find it rather curious indeed.

Rudd is too much like Howard for my liking.

And, for the record, I don't hate either of them!

And, I voted for neither.

Opinions and facts

Kathy, I have not been “rude and dismissive” of your opinions. I have merely challenged their factual basis. With respect to Rudd’s “promise” regarding grocery prices I provided you with primary evidence – his own words. You have not provided me with any primary evidence (his own words) that contradicts the evidence of his July 2007 speech. Instead, you said:

“People believe he said he will lower the price of groceries. Just do a google, and you'll see.”

Are you relying on people’s belief as evidence? If so, your contention suffers from a fatal logical flaw: a proposition is not true just because many people believe it to be true (after all, once upon a time many people believed that the earth was flat).

Turning to your next claim, that Rudd created and promotes the “perception” that he would lower grocery prices, I’d still like some primary evidence – Rudd’s own words. I’d be most interested if you could provide me with something, Kathy, because a careful reading of his July 2007 speech, and his subsequent statements, makes it clear that he has not given any such undertaking.

I repeat: you are entitled to your opinions. But remember Webdiary’s ethics:

4. Be truthful. Don't invent 'facts'. If you're caught out, expect to be corrected in Webdiary.

In both cases (the “promise” and the “perception”) you started by asserting a fact. When the accuracy of the fact was challenged you shifted to maintaining that these were your opinions. So go right ahead: your opinions are your opinions, and I am not trying to change them. However, your opinions do not and cannot change the facts.

That said, I’m more than happy to agree with you that the perception of Rudd’s having made such a promise is out there in the community. How (and why) might this have happened? Well, OK, I followed your suggestion, googled, and found a whole host of sites, mostly an assortment of blogs, but also – oddly enough – several associated with News Limited (here’s another Piers Ackerman piece), and several associated with the Liberal Party (e.g., this one). Nothing from the Labor side, or the so-called left-leaning luvvies. So a possible (I’m prepared to go further and say highly likely) interpretation is that it’s deliberate “spin” on the part of (now) Opposition politicians and Murdoch’s neo-“liberal” urgers that has created the perception of a promise by Rudd to lower grocery prices. That’s the “how”; now for “why”.

Politics, of course – just as for years Mr Howard was attacked by the ALP, including Mr Rudd, over his interest rate claims. And for good political reasons (if political reasons can ever be good) the Opposition will no doubt continue to berate Mr Rudd for his “failure” to keep his grocery prices “promise”.

Finally, I was not engaging in personal ridicule but in robust debate by challenging – in one instance using your own words – the factual basis of your arguments. My “people like you” observation was not an aspersion on your character, but an observation that when people perpetuate a myth (in this instance, that Mr Rudd “promised” to keep prices down), that myth gains currency. I did not, and would never, suggest that you were deliberately trying to encourage the myth.

I remain interested in your point of view on this and other matters, Kathy. I also remain interested in the factual basis of your point of view, just as I do with respect to anything said or written by any Webdiarist, politician, or journalist.

I take your points

I take your points Fiona,  however  it  was  to my mind, still  personal ridicule not, "robust debate" One can still have robust debate without having a personal  dig ! Assuming that I would say something ( harking back to a previous comment I had made) seemed pointless. In short  you were needling me. And yes, I did think that your manner was ungracious. This is a forum for discussion, not a trial. Too intense for me.

Anyhow, that's just how I felt. It does not change my opinion of you, however.

I still think that you are alright.

For an old girl!

Fiona: Phew, I feel so much better now, Kathy. Sorry you found my manner ungracious, but (sorry to be repetitive) I was testing your ideas, not taking personal digs at you.

Interest rates

This will be a job for Julia and Wayne to deal with: 

"Mortgage-stressed borrowers just got more bad news on interest rates.

The key March quarter consumer price inflation figures came in at an annual rate of 4.2%, more than the 4% expected by economists. The pace accelerated from 3% for the final three months of 2007, with higher fuel, fruit and drug prices among the leading culprits."


Leading culprits

Why didn't private school management teams get a mention?

Here's the ABS on one of the main contributors to change in the CPI:


All education indexes rose in the March quarter, with the commencement of the new school year. Secondary education rose 6.6%, tertiary education rose 3.8%, and preschool and primary education rose 5.8%.

Secondary education was the major contributor, mainly due to wide-spread fee increases. Both preschool and primary education fees rose with providers reporting that rises were to cover increases in wages and other operating costs.

The rise in tertiary education was mainly due to increases in both TAFE and HECS fees.

Through the year to March quarter 2008, the education group rose 4.3%.

So private school fee increases significantly contributed. Where do those fee increases go? To salaries for teachers or administrators? To capital works? To reserves?

Private school fees up = school subsidies up

Last year Michael Bachelard investigated for The Age where the ever- increasing private school fees go after parents pay them:

MELBOURNE'S top private schools have enjoyed windfall gains in Commonwealth funding with increases of up to 500 per cent in recent years, but have continued to hike their fees at well above the inflation rate.

The boost has been used by some to pay for an unprecedented building boom, described by one former private school headmaster as "indecent" and by another as creating "monuments to themselves".

Schools have also used the money to increase their size, thus reaping even more government money, and to offer smaller class sizes.

Could it be that some suffer the loss of their home due to increasing interest rates so that others can build monuments to themselves (in the form of bigger, better machines for milking more and more money from taxpayers as well as fee payers)?

Certainly, we should give Rudd time.

Michael de Angelos: "It took Howard 11 years to get us to this point."

Do you mean this point?.

During last year's election campaign Mr Rudd described working families as the "forgotten people" but the new research appears to paint a contrary picture.

Since 2001, earnings for those at the bottom of the ladder rose more sharply than for those near the top - the top 10 per cent suffering a slight fall from 2001 to 2006."

Certainly, we should give Rudd time. But he keeps talking about 2020, doesn't he? I think that's too much time.

Give Him Time Kathy!

It took Howard 11 years to get us to this point. It's a bit rich to be blaming higher petrol prices on Chairman Rudd as they are rising worlwide and consequently that gives rise to grocery prices.

Five months is a mere blip in the life of a government - he needs at least 18 months to be assessed but my gut feeling is he's here for a long run. I doubt I'll be happy either with everything he and his ministers do - I'm already having reservations about Robert McClelland, the one intelligent and clever lawyer I thought would stand up to the AFP and security services but looks like rolling over like a puppy.

At least with a federal Labor government it looks more likely we watch the rapid decline and demise of one of the worst state goverments inflicted on NSW - the de facto  property developer's party of Bob Carr and Morris Iemma. (I still have nightmares of the guffawing Carl Scully as his staffer was lasered in Parliament House!)

What's next?

It didn't take much time for the truth to come out. I was a bit worried I may have not understood what was going on at the 2020 summit. But this article in the Australian supports my viewpoint. Over the next few weeks we will see what a big con job it really was.

"The unity and goodwill that radiated from Kevin Rudd's 2020 Summit last weekend have evaporated, with some participants saying they cannot recognise the "big ideas" attributed to them while others claim they were "systematically silenced".

So what next, where does the country go from here? What direction is left for us to head so we may have a hope of a viable and sensible future?

Kathy Farrelly: “Rudd is a fairly benign friendly character.”

Paul Morrella: “Mr Rudd is either a true leader or he isn't. In a short amount of time (poor people take note) the answers will all be revealed. “

I believe Rudd is neither benign, friendly nor a leader, but just another corporate controlled bureaucratic clone and has nothing to offer this country but disaster on a massive scale, just like his predecessor and all who are currently in government Australia wide. Every day we see oil costs rise, another financial company collapsing, a few thousand more people lose their homes, the food crisis gets worse, infrastructure break down and prices just keep going up and up as the elite strive to maximise economic returns and balance their unbalanced ideological myths.

There's authority, and then there's authority

Alga Kavanagh, I am truly surprised that you are citing a member of your despised “academic elite”, a “programmed academic clone” no less, such as Imre Salusinszky to support your assertion that the 2020 summit was a con job. Citing the Australian too – that well-known sandpit of neo-“liberal” rectitude.

If you care to investigate, there are quite a few contrary opinions around – see for example this piece from Mike Steketee (yes, also a journo at the Oz – for reasons of balance no doubt; they do, after all, also host that well-known totally unreconstructed leftie Phillip Adams). Not to mention this piece from Nicole Smith – a self-described “normal person”.

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?

Rudd's public persona.

Ah, but Alga, Rudd is a benign looking, friendly smiling chap. That's the public persona he has created anyway, and it has thus far been extremely successful. I have always said, however, that Rudd is unimpressive and will generally achieve little as PM. Already after 5 months in government all we have had are symbolic gestures, feel good black slapping and much rhetoric. Petrol prices have never been higher, and the price of groceries continues to climb.

I wouldn't trust him as far a I could throw him, Alga!

Of course there is always the possibility that he will stuff up the economy through his inaction. I am, however, trying to remain positive.

Richard:  Wow, Kathy,  I wouldn't want to cross swords with you when you're in a bad mood! 

Kath - Diogenes and me

Kath m'love:  "In other words, was it actually a revolutionary constitutional assembly?"

Sounds spooky to me but my wife said last night this was the sort of thing Mao Zedong would do. Get all the important/wellknown players together and make them feel important.

Rudd creates personal contradictions in me.

On one hand it is a refreshing change to have a politician who does not divide or scare people, rather unifies.

On the other hand as the saying goes, keep your friends close but keep your enemies closer.

I didn't trust John Howard and for a number of reasons I don't trust his (more than) equal.

I suppose when Rudd plays the fear card we will know the game is up.

My bet this will happen sooner or later - but maybe that's just the Diogenes in me.

PS. Is it OK if I call you "m'love" - my star?

A violet by a mossy stone
Half hidden from the eye!
Fair as a star, when only one
Is shining in the sky.

PS. I'm jealous/envious. Scott is heading your way in my reposssessd Potomac.

Justin - Bacchus and me

Rudd is a fairly benign friendly character. As you say Justin ,he is not a person who scares people. It's a two edged sword though my dear. I have this feeling that all will be banal and uninspiring with Rudd. I like my men to be feisty, courageous and passionate (like you)! Howard too was uninspiring. Guess a girl can't win.

My bet is, that Rudd will end up drunk in another strip club sooner or later - but maybe that's just the Bacchus in me!

Bring me wine, but wine which never grew
In the belly of the grape,
Or grew on the vine whose taproots reaching through
Under the Andes to the Cape,
Suffered no savor of the world to 'scape.
Let it's grapes the morn salute
From a nocturnal root
Which feels the acrid juice
Of Styx and Erebus,
And turns the woe of night,
By its own craft, to a more rich delight.

Cheers m' dear.

PS. Scott is heading my way? In the potomac you say!


I agree Jenny

O Jenny all this talk about school brings back so many memories; wonderful memories.

I had lots of fun at school quite often at the expense of teachers, and yes, I was caned at times for all the right reasons. On one occasion one of the lads who got caught up in one of my funny games got caned as well.

I literally pleaded with the teacher to give me his share, a double dose, but he refused and caned an innocent kid. That hurt me more than anything. That particular teacher had a sadistic streak in him and it showed.

Another kid when he got the cane always cried. That hurt me too.

In primary school I was the democratically elected Vice Captain (my Dad said "captain of vice" - lost on me at the time). But in high school I was never allowed to be a prefect or anything like that because the teachers did the picking.

Unfortunately for the teachers they decided to introduce a democratically elected student council.

I stood for election promising my fellow students a longer recess and lots of other rubbish. 

I'll never forget the day when the school assembled for the election results. The headmaster stood up and read out the names of the elected councilors. The first name, the second name and then yours truly. One thousand one hundred kids cheered, stamped their feet for about 30 seconds until the Head told them to shut up. It was totally unexpected and extremely flattering.

After the assembly a message was heard over the school loud speakers instructing all students to remain in the playground until further notice.

I immediately bragged to all and sundry that I had only been elected a few minutes and had already fulfilled my "core" promise.

The next message to be heard (two - yes two hours later)  was "Justin Obodie please find your way to the Headmasters office immediately".

Apparently a staff meeting was called (by the Head) to discuss my behaviour. The Head then called me into his office to discuss things behavioural. That discussion remains private but I found out later most of my teachers thought I was good value and thought I had promise.

Some years ago The SMH did a feature about me, I found  a copy in my Dad's stuff after he died along with letters and (paid) articles I have had published (I keep nothing, absolutely nothing).

The feature in the Herald described me as forever an optimist (think  Candide), who was once a dinosaur but now a bird.

I love being an albatross and all it took was just one teacher who taught me to fly.

Teachers are highly underrated and we MUST give them all the help they need, for many start their careers with dreams of making a difference but politics and the bureaucracy wear them down.

They end up forever dinosaurs, disillusioned and never allowed to realise their full potential - sad hey - both for children and teachers alike.

Anyway that's enough narcissism from moi but I reckon your God and my Gods are having wonderful times together, and they love us dearly.

Just gotta tell you this one Justin me lad

Justin, you will love this one. Told to me by my other half, an honest man if ever there was one.

A lot of the kids had not done their homework as usual, and the master asked each of them in turn, why. Of course they all gave what they hoped were very plausibe excuses, like, had to help mum or whatever. When they had finished he caned them all and told them that in future they should just tell the truth which was: that they couldn't be bothered.

A week of so later, his truly was in another master's class and the same thing happened. All the kids gave the usual lame excuses, except one (you guessed it) who said: Couldn't be bothered Sir. What? The master yelled. Out here! And of course out came the cane. Hardly fair I would have thought.

Your school days sound great. I really feel for those who look back and see their school days as not being a happy time. I actually cried the last time I looked back at the school gates, with the bright burning bush of the Presbyterian church on them. I visited my old headmistress when she was dying and spent four wonderful days with her. What tales she told me from the other side, ie from the teachers' and head's side of it all. As I left I said to myself: I really love that woman. I never saw her again as she died soon after but before she did she sent me a lovely photo of herself and a special note.

I've never forgotten how she taught me about trust. I had been caught posting letters for one of the boarders which was forbidden. I was told to wait after morning prayers to see her and all she said was: You know the rules. If people lose their trust in you, you will find it very hard to regain. I recall that moment vividly and I felt so awful. The message stuck and I passed it on to my own two at every opportunity.

Yes, those were happy days.

Meanwhile, in gaga land

Kathy Farrelly: "Inquiries. Reports. More promises (can't wait!) More empty rhetoric."

If you need cheering up, over at Larvatus Prodeo we're debating whether the 2020 Summit was empowered to confer a "mandate" on the Prime Minister.

In other words, was it actually a revolutionary constitutional assembly?

(Sorry. But I had to share that with somebody)

Richard:  I'm having the same problem, Eliot, especially with the Republic stuff.  At the moment the mandate, by plebiscite, stands that we stay as we are. 

I should have been invited to the talkathon

Craig Rowley: "Clearly the promise to instigate an inquiry has been delivered. Now we await the report to the Government. No doubt that on receipt of that report more promises will come. They'll be the promises to act on the established facts."

As I've already said it was an impression. Though I'm not the one that needs convincing it was a mistaken impression. I mean, what if the inquiry says there isn't anything wrong? Why would Mr Rudd give an impression that there was something wrong before the election? A reasonable question to ask, I feel.

Mr Rudd's dilemma can be solved quite easily - and I'm willing to do it right now for nothing (I hope he's reading). My advice would be to depreciate the current tax take on energy, and rule out a future carbon tax - not changing, or worse, raising such costs will only add to "regressive" taxes.

Mr Rudd either believes what he said pre-election or he doesn't. Mr Rudd is either a true leader or he isn't. In a short amount of time (poor people take note) the answers will all be revealed.

Getting the cane was fun

Thanks Richard; I was one of those kids at school who enjoyed confusing teachers.

Once when I was about to get caned (in front of two classes) I told the teacher: "Give it your best shot."

He did.

Then I said: "That was pathethic, you can do better than that, have another go, go on"

Poor bastard retired (hurt) to his adjacent office and slammed the door - to the laughter and cheering of all - he was totally humiliated, sort of felt sorry for him - nah not really.

I wouldn't have done it if the teacher had a valid reason for caning me - he didn't - he was one of the mean bastards.

Never bothered me again did he.

Richard: Maybe, apart from the fact that it's still on your mind.   

Missing the point

Thanks Jenny and please do keep smiling - one of my Gods reckons every smile adds a minute to your life - so smile smile smile smile smile.

Evan, "But seriously I contend that about 90% of what we learn is never used."

Knowing the differential of X squared has been of benefit to me in ways you'll never imagine.

My ability to remember and quote Shakespeare and poetry has been of a benefit that you, as a young lad, may understand. A lot of beautiful young (and old) lassies love it, and has led to many a wonderful moment or 27.

Sadly education has become a means to an end - university - then a "good" job (hopefully) - I've known many a depressed professional - stuck in their box - too frightened to escape.

I reckon if you make learning your life's ambition then all those things you want and dream of will be realised, sooner or later.

School gives you the tools and structure to learn; it's up to you if you choose to use those tools.

I have employed many people in my day and I think you will find most employers are the same. We don't care what your UAI is; we look for enthusiasm, an open mind and someone who has a burning ambition to learn. In short it's all about attitude. School gives you the tools life gives the education.

I was once examined by a psych. He inquired why I had never been to university - I replied; "but I am at university".

All that shit you learn at school is good shit and should never be dismissed as useless. You'll never know when it comes in handy.

Once upon a time I made heaps of cash using skills I learned in infants school - I kid you not.

Sadly some of us miss the point completely.

PS. I regret not learning Latin for obvious reasons - however I still have time to do so.

Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,

But some will remember with advantages

Our glorious school days.

Well, I can sometimes remember Shakespeare - sort of.

BTW; the differential of X2 is 2X

Richard:  Well, I only know that the differential of an XJ is about $50 at the wreckers, but apart from that, Justin, amen to everything you've just said. 

Ah happy days, schooldays

Justin, I think it is really sad when I hear people say they never enjoyed their school days. For me school was the happiest place in my life. Fifty years on I retain every one of my class mates as friends, life long friends. And yes, what I learned from primary school on stood me in better stead than anything I ever learnt at university - with the exception I guess of the year at the Uni of Lahore in Pakistan, but even there the life tools I gained were picked up not so much in  the classroom but through daily living in a strict Muslim girls' hostel and society.

My uni degree gave me certain knowledge and skills, but by far the greatest teacher was life experience itself, and there my mother was the wisest cousellor of all. Learning is a life long process - the old saying you learn something new every day is very true.

Latin at school I destested till I got a new teacher and she gave me a love for the subject. I had the opportunity fifty years on (yes I keep in touch with her too) to tell her how much I owed to her. She was such a gifted teacher and has only just retired after sixty years of teaching.  So many young lives must have benefited from her dedication over those sixty years.

As for things sticking. I find it interesting that I can remember so much of what I was taught back then, in subjects like biology and chemistry, even though I never went on to use a lot of the information. Ian, a maths and science teacher, is amazed that I can reel off the symbols for all the elements and compounds and solve chemical equations to this day, fifty years on, though never having had to use them much. And that my French could be resurrected on my first trip to France after forty years, while my intermediate certificate Maths, a subject I hated, allows me to do mental arithmetic faster than the kids with their calculators. Evidence that I had exceptional teachers all those years ago because I was a rather lazy student in many ways. Or rather, a tired one, as I had to milk about nine cows by hand every morning before I left for school.

So my one real boast is that I could milk a cow faster than a milking machine ever could, and that is certainly a skill that you never lose. Might come in handy with the world food crisis looming.

Now that is a rave about education and learning and the BAS is due today. Cheers. Loved the story about the caning. I'll bet that teacher remembered that incident too for the rest of his days. Believe it or not, we girls did not escape. We had one English mistress who believed in the power of the rod. But I visited her too, well into her final years. She was a good teacher too. We deserved all we got anyway.

The anger is going to be palpable.

Paul Morella: "There will no doubt be a lot of very disappointed voters after Mr Rudd's tax and spending annoucements. If the disappointment causes him (Mr Rudd) to go half way; the problems will only get progressively worse."

You're right. He'll have either to snaffle it all up again through the back door - or live with the consequences. Either way, the anger is going to be palpable.

"Diplomatic" Language Perhaps?

Craig Rowley: "That's probably because all gathered and the majority of people watching what transpired at that gathering all know what had already been promised. They're all awake to the reality and don't share your erroneous "impression."

Well, erroneous or not, that was the impression - and I was posting here during the end of the election campaign. I even said that if Mr Rudd could achieve his "pledge" he should be given a Noble Prize.

Anyhow, it doesn't really matter what my impression was. The thing that matters for Mr Rudd is the impression his voters held. From what I've read the impression he was giving was that cost would indeed come down under his government. Maybe the Australian people are a forgiving bunch?

Eliot Ramsey: "Maybe that will provide Kev with a way to renege on the moronic tax cut promises he and Howard laddled out.."

Tax cuts are always a good thing. The important part is how a government handles the situation.

I expect Mr Rudd will probably use "other taxes" (not called taxes) to gather the money back in (plus extra). He'll probably do this by lifting government service charges, and by cutting back on government spending (services) - as well as welfare programs.

There will no doubt be a lot of very disappointed voters after Mr Rudd's tax and spending annoucements. If the disappointment causes him (Mr Rudd) to go half way, the problems will only get progressively worse.

Building unrealistic expectations is a dangerous political game as George Bush Sr found out. I think I wrote at the time Mr Rudd was politically dead the moment he allowed the "impressions" to take deep root.

Labor's promise on living costs: The facts

The actual promise with respect to "living costs" is reflected in this statement by Kevin Rudd on 11 July 2007:

... if Labor forms the next government of Australia, the ACCC will be directed to publish a periodic survey of grocery prices at supermarkets for a typical shopping basket ...

The ACCC will establish a dedicated website to publish this pricing snapshot – this very act will serve to increase transparency in the market place and in so doing exert greater competitive pressure on the retail market.

Surveys will be conducted in all states, in both metropolitan and regional areas, and will provide the ACCC with the pricing information it needs to identify whether there are indications of breaches of the Trade Practices Act that require further investigation.


We need to know the factors driving up prices of our groceries and whether they are due to unfair practices or fixable causes.

Is competition unfair in the market place?

Are consumers being exploited?

Are farmers at the gate getting their fair share?

Are small business and independent retailers being unfairly treated or competitive enough?

These are not unreasonable questions – indeed, they are questions that families facing their grocery bills each week need addressed.

That is why today I announce that if Labor forms the next government, I will instigate a public inquiry by the ACCC into these matters to report to the Government within 6 months.

The remit for this National Grocery Pricing Inquiry will be broad and will take submissions from individuals, consumer groups, our retailers, businesses along the supply chain, and other interested parties.

Promise delivered on living costs: The facts

Here's the ACCC on the National Grocery Pricing Inquiry:

On 22nd January 2008 the Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Competition Policy & Consumer Affairs requested the ACCC to hold a public inquiry into the competitiveness of retail prices for standard groceries pursuant to Part VIIA of the Trade Practices Act 1974.

Matters to be taken into consideration by the inquiry will include, but not be restricted to:

  • the current structure of the grocery industry at the supply, wholesale and retail levels including mergers and acquisitions by the national retailers
  • the nature of competition at the supply, wholesale, and retail levels of the grocery industry
  • the competitive position of small and independent retailers
  • the pricing practices of the national grocery retailers and the representation of grocery prices to consumers
  • factors influencing the pricing of inputs along the supply chain for standard grocery items
  • any impediments to efficient pricing of inputs along the supply chain and
  • the effectiveness of the Horticulture Code of Conduct, and whether the inclusion of other major buyers such as retailers would improve the effectiveness of the code.

Clearly the promise to instigate an inquiry has been delivered. Now we await the report to the Government. No doubt that on receipt of that report more promises will come. They'll be the promises to act on the established facts.

For those interested in the hearings

The ACCC's hearings continue and some are scheduled over the next days and weeks:

The Perth hearing is on Tuesday 22 April 2008 (10am to 5pm) at the Duxton Hotel.

The Bunbury hearing is on Wednesday 23 April 2008 (1pm to 5pm) at the Lord Forrest Hotel.

The Adelaide hearing is on Monday 28 April 2008 (10am to 5pm) at the Stamford Plaza.

The Port Lincoln hearing is on Tuesday 29 April 2008 (9.30am to 1pm) at the Pt Lincoln Hotel.

The Melbourne hearings are on 12 May, 15 May, 19 May, 26 May and 2 June 2008 from 10am to 5pm at the ACCC Melbourne Office.


Inquiries. Reports. More promises (can't wait!) More empty rhetoric.

Sooner or later the Rudd government will have to "pay the piper," and stop "dicking the dog. "Or if you prefer, "piss farting around."

Not a total loss

Hey, it's not been a total loss. My missus bet one of her friends lunch at Doyle's that Marieke Hardy (blogger Miss Fitz) would be an absolute certainty to be invited to the Summit.

And here she is name dropping about it...

A fiscal alibi

Richard: "Webdiary mods have been known to edit links when they're considered inappropriate, as you'd be well aware, so dump away!"

Every time. I'm thinking of putting them on Panoramio. And if it was "Inappropriate" at April 21, 2008 - 9:23am, how come you were able to publish it promptly twice since then, hmmmm?

Richard:  Funny trick, Eliot.  How coud I know what was deleted so I could delete it again if I didn't delete it in the first place?  Please don't try and circumvent editorial decisions like that again. 

Paul Morrella: "Costs of living and all that jazz?"

There's also this from Annabel Crabb:

"The Economy group did even better; their offering was nothing more than a glittering treasure-trove of inquiries, investigations and reviews, for which our Prime Minister has a widely reported weakness. Interestingly, the Economy group were about the only one to emerge without a specific proposal for tax.

They wanted a "comprehensive review", which is what economists and high-wealth individuals say in mixed company when what they really mean is "lower taxes".

Almost all of the other groups had tax ideas - mostly about new taxes that could be imposed to fund their ideas.

New junk food taxes to fund healthy food initiatives, fuel taxes to fund public transport, and so on."

Maybe that will provide Kev with a way to renege on the moronic tax cut promises he and Howard laddled out.

Apologies Jenny

Jenny, apologies for the S & P thing. I shall never do it again.

It was just that I remember you having a shot at someone for calling Kath sweet and you sort of replied to the poster: "you don't call me sweet" or something like that.

I felt a little sad that you were missing out. That's all.

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