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Postcard from Halliburton's Adelaide

I must admit to twitching on reading the possibility of Alexander Downer becoming the leader of the South Australian Liberal Party.   After fighting down the initial urge to pack a bag and catch the first bus out of the State, I realised that it was only His Lordship that was interested, trying to drum up support in the same way that our buffoonish ex-treasurer Kevin Foley is jockeying to become President of the Port Adelaide Football Club.  The difference is that while Foley would be the Sparticus and lead his gladiators to the new you-beaut colosseum he arranged to have built before resigning as Deputy Premier, Treasurer and the country's only State-level Defence Minister, the former Lord Downer of Bagdad would be our local Nero, ruling over his local fiefdom as it's reinvented to fit the plans of the warpath he helped to pave.
The trouble is that while Adelaide trudges along, complying with the doctrines of the departed (from public office) War Criminals Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld, as implemented by the former Halliburton Global Vice-President for Infrastructure Andrew Fletcher, the monies in the warchest have been spent on curtailing the damage of the Global Financial Crisis.  Fletcher's dockyard Techport, planned as the hub of a future US Naval maintenance and resupply base, has delayed its expansion plans for a few years.  Obama's focussing what resources he has more northerly, an implied political posture towards China.  Ironically it was the possibity of a Chinese naval blockade of the Pacific preventing US ships from returning to Northern Hemisphere facilities  that was the touted need for more South Australian defence facilities.  Protecting the one-third of the world's known uranium just up the road had nothing to do with it? More on that later.
I've been rereading through some of my older Webdiary pieces lately.  In 2007 I was writing about wanting to know the connection between the defence industry and the redevelopment of the large tract of land behind my family's national award-winning live music pub The Gov.  We'd already been the flagship of a 5,000-strong rally to save South Australian Live Music, and were (and still are, despite numerous political reassurances over the years) concerned that the development of old factory land (owned by local magnate and former Reserve Bank Board member Robert Gerard) would negatively impact what we're trying to achieve- to provide a public home for as many kinds of music as possible so they stay in the public's consciousness.  Given a forthcoming local announcement I'm glad we've made the effort.  More on that later too.  My concerns of some kind of defence facility being built there were fuelled when plans of an Australian military installation were found in nearby garbage bin. 
I was only half-right.  At the end of last year, not long after the plans for the Bowden Urban Village were announced by the Govt-operated Land Management Corporation, said corporation announced a merger with the defence housing arm of the (ex HAL-VP Fletcher's) Techport base.  In other words, this particular development, along with a string of similar ones running along the train-line to the port, was being built to house the many people expected to come here to work on "The Defence State" 's  naval projects.
These "Transit Oriented Developments" were intended to be linked along corridors to Techport by a new electric light-guage rail system that would eradicate the noise pollution of noisy old diesels rattling the mantlepiece furniture in poorly acoustically-insulated homes (aside- minimal acoustic protection, the bloke who built the flats behind our pub told me, is an essential part of a builder's profit margin).  One local MP (our State's increasingly-erratic ex-AG Michael Atkinson) wrote on a Facebook page, "these people have paid for an electrified light guage railway, and that's what they'll get."  His grandiose rebuttal of locals trying to save their parklands at St Clair from falling beneath the development have become unstuck lately in more aspects than in the State Govt's announcement in its last budget that the newl rail system had been postphoned indefinitely.
At a recent public meeting I asked our Premier, Jay Weatherill, whether the housing developments should proceed now that the supposedly-intrinsic transport system had been cancelled.  His response was that the developments wouldn't be effected by the use of diesels. 
The first stage of the system has already been built- now there's a tram running from the city to a terminus outside the front door of our pub.  Thanks Folks!  For the indefinite future we're at the end of the line.
While such local politicking's been carried out, its purposes, and our intended future, keep slipping away into the mists of prophecy.  No near-future Techport expansion (not to mention the disappearance of Joint Strike Fighter work that the war companies were going to do in their spare time) means no new residents, and amid a property market plunge local investors, already bleeding from sitting on their hands waiting for something to happen and watching prominent constructors such as The Hastie Group and ADCIV collapse, are going to be nervous about spending more money on projects becoming increasingly less likely to bear fruit.
The other need for local military enforcement's about to disappear too.  Supposedly we're supposed to start mining the one third of the world's known uranium that's nestling in the SA desert.  The trouble is that with the high Aussie dollar and the cashflow nervousness the European "financial wobbles" have created, it's apparently not a good time to go uranium mining. The sackings last week by Rio Tinto of a large number of its Sydney and Melbourne office staff are the best indicator of our local mining future.. the folks who know what they're doing are battenning down the hatches in anticipation of an oncoming financial storm, ironically leaving places like SA in the doldrums of inactivity.
So.. no mining, no Cheney defence plan.  What was intended to be a glorious defence and mining boom won't happen for some time, and meanwhile our local economy's been geared to supporting those cornucopias.  What do we do now?
An idea that appeared in the  Adelaide Advertiser's letters three years ago appears to be being given some consideration.  Back then I wrote:
Wouldn't you rather South Australia be known as the Music State instead of the Defence State? It all comes down to where money is invested.
South Australian Premier Weatherill is expected to announce a new Thinker In Residence to come to this city to focus on developing our Live Music Industry.  As an Honorary Citizen of Austin Texas who's seen what a push to create more music can do for a local economy and lifestyle, my guess would be that such an expert would suggest we emulate Austin and create a new musical and economic lifestyle for ourselves.  Rumours that this Music Thinker is going to be someone who's been a driving force behind Austin's now world-famous South By Southwest Festival have helped towards confirming such notions. 
It would be ironic for Adelaide to diverge from following the plans of the former US Vice President in order to pursue the plans of the hometown of his old boss George Bush.  I'm hoping it will help us turn towards living towards creating life, not war, and that those living in this city will be, in many ways, so much better off than being drones for multinational defence and mining companies who regard our well-being only as possible collateral damage in attacks on their profit margins. 
From South Australia The Defence State to South Australia The Music State?  Here's hoping!

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Sorry to shout..well, postphoned indefinitey, same thing.  I'll put some links up later, but suffice it to say that, as predicted in my piece, the glory days that lay ahead for South Australia have disappeared.


It occurs to me to ask why Richard Tonkin was not appointed South Australia's Thinker in Residence, since he's well and truly in residence and not a bad thinker.

And I have to tip my hat to Paul Walter for not dignifying what is merely an advertiser by calling it a newspaper.  The author of "Getting Gold", as 1920s book on gold prospecting in Australia, writes that he always carries medicines with him in tabloid form.

But two things strike me about Adelaide, City of Beggars.  The first is those beggars.  You can hardly walk down KWS without a slightly overweight man, sitting on a bench smoking, calling out and asking if you have any small change because he needs money for a meal.  Or for a bus fare, when he lives a mere hour's walk away.

And I don't mean the same man every time.  The air is thick with them.  One asked me for a few dollars because he needed to make a phone call to New Zealand.  But they are not all New Zealanders, it's just that Adelaide is a city where you beg.  I should say that they are all white, look Anglo. 

And the second, obviously connected, is today's news that an Adelaide taxi driver was assaulted for asking a would-be passenger for his fare in advance. The news item goes on to say that most Adelaide taxi drivers now require advance payment because they are plagued by "runners", passengers who at the end of the trip dive from the taxi and run.  It was claimed that one driver had five runners in one night. 

Something to think about, Thinker.   How was such society created?  What went wrong?  How can it be fixed?

Dodgy deal by Treasurerr Foley?

Regarding Webdiary, Paul.. more info when it comes to hand.

Did you hear Kevin Foley on the radio this morning?  Being accused on ABC-891's Morning show of having done a deal on Roxby that wasn't as good for SA as it could've been, Kev reverted to the bullying, bile-spitting boorish oaf that we've come to know and loathe.  It was a great reminder of how much we're better off not having the likes of him and Atko leading and representing us.

I've been advised by people I trust that Foley's post-office activities will be well worth following.  The old adage that you can tell who someone was worrking for while in government by the first job they take when they leave rings true in Kevin setting up his own consultancy firm so that he can continue to give investors the information he learned as a taxpayer-funded Government Minster, controlling the state's most crucial economic portfolios.  Yep, Foley was working for himself... partly for his multinational Lords and Masters, but mostly for himself.

His consultancy in the new privately-funded Kilkenny TOD makes me wornder how much input he'shad on the government funded one such as the one near us and down the road  at St Clair.  Wonder whether the Kilkenny one's a"tip"?

Speaking of corporate sponsorship, while it was great to see our ex Attorney General on national TV (10's The Project) defending a new McDonalds against local protesters and seeing his efforts fail, do you wonder, given that a supermarket is going to be the main feature of the developed St Clair Recreation Park, who might (in the middle of our new Premier's electorate) be working for Coles?

Anyway, pop the kettle on, settle back and have a listen to this delightful radio segment.

A funny thing happened on the way to the forum

Fascinating follow-up to the Foley/ Cleary radio conversation, from ABC economist Peter Martin's site.

He has a follow up interview between himself, the show's host and Mr Foley, in which an understanding of the labarinythine back ground of state versus federal and long term versus short term imperatives, commercialinconfidence etc, are proposed  as necessary to an understanding of what occurred with the Roxby deal.

It seems a major back ground issue the problem of fiscal equalisation involving states and the greater Commonwealth, which may deter negotiants from being willing to extract a larger supply of short term fixed, or longer term profit based, income from big miners.

Martin's interview and his posting may make for interesting consideration in relaiton to your thread. If Foley some how bungled things, we should know andknow why.

Equally, if the background conditions and complexities of economics intersecting with law and state, federal and corporate relations hamstrings people like him, it would be unfair to bag Foley beyond what ever responsibility was his, eg, if the problem is largely systemic. Maybe its just a matter of judgement.

Any way, maybe your economics is better than mine. Why not give Martin's thread and interview, at his site, a listen?

tumbling dice.

The ABC interview with Cleary and Foley's rude atttempt at self promotion struck a chord as to your point involving consultancies and conflict of interest.

Dr Anne Summers had a fine example involving JamesPacker and the gambling industry and NSW ALP Right identities Karl Bitar (hired as a consultant for the Casinos during the pokies debate early in the year) and then-federal Senator Mark Arbib. This is covered in her article; "Dice loaded in clubs battle", 28/1/12, in the Fairfax National Times.

The interference created chaos at a time when Kevin Rudd was preparing his leadership against Gillard and apparently compromised the legislation component intended to protect problem gamblers. 

It surprised me that an outside individual could be allowed to selfishly and delinquently create so much apparent havoc within a fragile government; let alone considering the damage to be done to individuals and their families in future cases of addictive gambling.

"hope I die, before I get old"

I noticed elsewhere that the site could end up closing soon. I thought it had actually happened but have stopped by to read what could be WD's last will and testament and am mightily impressed.

Sorry Richard, but you know yourself only you could have written that thread starter. 

Now, as a South Australian, I have been intrigued by the flatus riddled rhetoric suddenly erupting out of the sole mass circulation newspaper of this town, the tabloid "Advertiser", over recent weeks.

It has been both solemnly and hysterically intoned that the stewardship of current Liberal leader Isobel Redmond is moribund, with the implication that recent times have been a fitful time indeed for the forces of anti socialismunder what must have been be a dreadful woman, indeed. 

Then it occurred to me, as a South Australian vaguely familiar with the Byzantine, pointless machinations of local factional politics, on both sides of the party divide, that some thing else might be afoot.

In fact, what we may be witnessing is a takeover by the secularist Big End Downer faction, now that Labor's tiredness and Redmond's ability to small target herself and her opposition appear to signal the end of three terms of Labor government at the next election.

But Redmond is linked with a third faction, to do with the conservative religious right, with the power brokers figures like Nick Minchin and Iain Evans, a different grouping again to the "small l" Pyne/ Chapman city liberal grouping and Downer's "Big Enders".



Richard's ideal is a bit similar to mine, a vison that cherishes education and rational thinking and science, including with ecology and the (participating) arts, humanities and social sciences rather than puritanism, cheap consumer tabloidism and anti intellectualism driving a dumbed-down community life.

Dunstan's "Athens of the South", a clever example for a clever country.

But the vision of the last forty years has been subsumed, as has the notion of the National Project that writers like Donald Horne proposed, drowned under a morass of neoliberal globalisation, manipulable Tea-party style irrationalism and Ricardian/Malthusian economic rationalism. Australians no longer decide, if they ever did, what happens in their own communities and the nation itself. 

This is decided by the boards of mining giants, huge defence techno formations and and hedge funds with local shopfronts run from Wall St, Washington, Beijing and the City of London.

Our politicians were conned into opening up government and the economy on behalf of these formations, fed as they were on honeyed promises of a future as a techno hub.

Well, it was a good yarn, but it seems now that SA's future as a quarry has been secured and developers have got their hooks into everything else of value, with the complicity of knowing, cynical and conniving politicians. Not much will be left for South Australians, apart from deteriorating material and social infrastructure typified by the new rack and stack inner housing and the wastelands of a once beautiful beach and fertile hills hinterland turned over to monotonous, inefficient Mac housing. 

Culture will survive because, as in "Farenheit 451", many people will see that the current system has nowhere to go, but it is tragic what is being thrown away.

We will be the Athens of the South and like classical Athens we can see the excellenceof a short historical era eventually thrown over on the vanity, hubris and ignorant arrogance of local "leaders" and the barbarians they turned the place over to. 

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