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Tuesday, 14 November


Have a smart phone? Want to help map and save Australian frog species? Then there is an app for you North Coast Voices

The Australian Museum issued another app on 10 November 2017:

FrogID, lets you discover which frogs live around you and helps the Australian Museum count Australia's frogs! 

Visit the project website for more info.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 10 November 2017

Like the stars of stage, screen and Sesame Street, the 25-year-old green tree frog called Godzilla was immediately ready for h...


The American Resistance has many faces and these are just two of them (17) North Coast Voices

* The woman is this photograph was susequently fired by her employer, government contrator Akima LLC, a subsidiary of NANA Development Corporation

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Monday, 13 November


2019 Corvette ZR1: Return of the King Pigs Fly Newspaper

The fastest, most powerful production Corvette ever the 755-horsepower 2019 ZR1.

2019 Corvette ZR1: Return of the King

The fastest, most powerful production Corvette ever retakes its supercar crown

Corvettes ZR1 embodies the best and the worst of America. Its brutally powerful...


Some whataboutery from Tim Nicholls John Quiggin

Among the tools used to defend the indefensible, the most widely used is whataboutery. When faced with a criticism you cant answer, you point to something allegedly comparable done by someone supposed to be on the same side as your critic, and ask the critic what about

A recent example (Hat Tip Bill Wallace). Presented on ABC TV with my observation that his election promises represent an arithmetic impossibility, Tim Nicholls resorted to whataboutery, suggesting that I had gone easy on Anna Palaszczuk in regards to the use of transfers of debt between the general government sector, GBEs and public service superannuation. Oddly enough, Ill be covering this exact point in an article Im now writing for The Guardian. The relevant para

Labor has been able to improve the accounting performance of the general government sector by requiring public enterprises to make bigger contributions to the budget and by making transfers from the funds hypothecated to pay for public service superannation. This doesnt change the financial position of the public sector as a whole, but makes the budget sector look better. The relevant criteria is public sector net worth and net financial worth, which are unaffected by such manoeuvres. Fortunately, public sector net worth has never been a problem: the Queensland government had net worth of over $170 billion when the Costello Commission reported, a figure that is projected to exceed $200 billion by 2020.

Some broader responses:

* Whataboutery is a very weak defence in a clear-cut case like this. Even if I were an ALP hack (readers of this blog can judge for themselves), it wouldnt invalidate the point Im making

* I dont think Palaszczuk is open to the specific criticism Im making of Nicholls. She hasnt promised to cut taxes or improve the budget balance, and her election spending promises look to be the kind of thing that can be managed within the normal budget process

* Ive already been critical of both sides in this election campaign. My only published opinion piece was a criticism of Palaszczuks pro-Adani policy, which she has subsequently reversed (not claiming cause and effect here, of course). If Nicholls cares to put up an election platform that adds up and protects crucial services from cuts, Ill be the first to congratulate him.

A few more points:

1. The implied assumption in whataboutery is that people shouldnt comment on any issue unless they have a published position on every issue that might be remotely comparable. This obviously isnt feasible for someone writing in spare team, without a team of staffers and researchers to do the hard work.

2. It may be that Nicholls was...


What a line Catallaxy Files

Kevin Williamson writes for National Review.  He is on of Spartacus favourite writers.  In his latest on the Trump administration and the tax plan, Williamson wrote:

Imagine three sad-faced clowns sitting backward on a drunken mule and trying to march it sideways through a coin-operated carwash without any money and youll have a pretty good idea where the Republican tax-cut plan is right now.

What a wonderful turn of phrase.  But this post is not about the US, but to note that is is an equally wonderful description of the current state of the Australian Parliament:

three sad-faced clowns, Turnbullo, Shoreno and Brandiso, sitting backward on a drunken mule and trying to march it sideways through a coin-operated carwash without any money.

Follow I Am Spartacus on Twitter at @Ey_am_Spartacus


Duncan Storrar: Porter's cruel 'redress' joke for abuse victims Independent Australia

Duncan Storrar: Porter's cruel 'redress' joke for abuse victimsInstitutional abuse victim Duncan Storrar says the Commonwealth Redress Scheme is a cruel joke which makes victims feel worthless. read now...


Monday Message Board John Quiggin

Another Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.


Unusual Trilat President Trump, Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, and Australian PM Turnbull "IndyWatch Feed"

Some last minute modifications to President Trumps schedule appear to have ended up adding Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to a previously scheduled bilateral meeting with Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull (suspicious cats nemesis down under). I think President Trump wanted Continue reading


Here is a trick Catallaxy Files

Go into your pocket/wallet/purse and take out a bank note. Make sure it is an Aussie note.

Now look closely at it. What do you see? Do you see the 2 signatures in the corner of one of the sides. Do you know whose signatures they are? They arent the signatures of the Prime Minister or of the Governor General. Not the Queen or other representative of the Government or the people.

The signatures on Australian currency belong to the Secretary of the Commonwealth Treasury and the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia. The individuals may change, but signing Australian bank notes remains one of the privileges of the office. That with a large salary, generous superannuation scheme and the eventual Companion of the Order of Australia award for . services in doing the job you are already well remunerated for. Nice work if you can get it.

So basically, Australian currency is signed by 2 senior public servants. How very Australian.

Lets just segue for a moment.

The ever loved Australian banking systems shares an annual profit pool of over $40 billion and probably more. That $40 billion profit pool is highly dominated by the big 4 banks ANZ, CBA, NAB and WBC (in alpha order). Throw in Macquarie, SunCorp and Bendigo and you are probably accounting for over 95% of that profit pool.

The profitability of the big 4 Australian banks is the dream of other international banks yet for some reason, they seem impervious to competition. Could it be that the game is rigged?  Could they really be protected from competition by the imprimatur of Government? After all, $40 billion of profit generates $12 billion of company tax revenue.

But lets just have a look at the membership of the boards of the big 4. Lets just ignore for a moment the cross pollination of senior executives from one bank being on the board of a different bank.  Who are the standout directors on 4 of the big 5:


  • Jane Halton AO, PSM fomer Secretary of Commonwealth Department of Finance


  • Rob Whitfield former Secretary of NSW Treasury


  • Ken Henry AC, Chairman and former Secretary of Commonweath Treasury


  • Gary Banks former Chairman of the Productivity Commissi...


ABC staff are suffering stress OMG Catallaxy Files

Broede Carmody is reporting in the Fairfax media that ABC staff are suffering stress, at dangerous levels apparently.

But it gets better, the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) plans to enter the ABCs headquarters using their right of entry powers.  Apparently:

About 70 per cent of ABC staff are experiencing undue stress, the union said. The claim comes from a survey involving 770 staff members across the country, with 40 per cent of respondents non-union members.

It must be such a delight to live on Planet ABC.


Follow I Am Spartacus on Twitter at @Ey_am_Spartacus


Roundup November 13 Catallaxy Files

Breaking news! OMG Dan Mitchell has written a book! Support Connor Court. Buy Dans book!

The media watchdog. The cost, supply and use of power across the states. Cheap power in Tasmania today (2.30 pm). Coal-fired power Units Planned and Under Construction. China 583, Australia 0. Don Aitkin on the Claytons energy policy.

Power prices at 1.50 am. Queensland $64, NSW 69, Vic 74, Tas 78, South Australia 86. The joy of insomnia.

Alternative ideas. From the Centre for Independent Studies. Citizenship, the history wars and the staircase of opportunity for Aborigines. Lets not have a Universal Basic Income. Mark Steyn on line. A roundup from Heterodox Academy, the organization started by Johathan Haidt of The Righteous Mind. Mission: To improve the quality of research and education in universities by increasing viewpoint diversity, mutual understanding, and constructive disagreement. Intellectual Takeout. Accuracy in Academia. The American Scholar Inside the house that Stalin built.

Dan Mitchell. The triumph of communism. 100 years, 100 million deaths. The Senate tax pla...


Illogical negativism in, logical positivism out Catallaxy Files

I have a post up at Quadrant Online: Weaponising Illogical Negativism. This is how it starts, discussing the base philosophical creed across the media and the left.

The core principle of logical positivism which underpins verification as the basis for scientific investigation of the truth of any statement:

A statement that cannot be conclusively verified cannot be verified at all. It is simply devoid of any meaning.

This then is the principle of illogical negativism, now applied near universally across the media and throughout the Left. It is the principle that denies any need whatsoever to verify any statement that suits the political outcome sought by the person making the statement or hearing it.

A statement that cannot be conclusively denied cannot be denied at all. It is simply true because someone has said it and conforms to what those who hear the statement prefer to believe.

Let us look a little more deeply at this principle, seen everywhere among the empty heads of the Republican Party as much as among Democrats. No evidence or factual underpinnings are required, only that someone says it and it suits others that it has been said.

Or to put it more plainly, they are liars who count on the complicity and ignorance of others. Now go to the link to see what has brought all this to mind.


Correspondence with SA Government regarding Spencer Gulf Port Link EPBC referral Requests or responses matching your saved search

Response by Department of the Environment and Energy to Dan Monceaux on November 13, 2017.
Dear Mr Monceaux   Please see the attached documents.   Regards   FOI Contact Officer |General Counsel Branch Department of the Environmen...


Bring them here "IndyWatch Feed"

Last week, Jacinda Ardern rolled over for Australia on refugees, accepting their bullshit story that Donald Trump would somehow take them. Now, she's going to use the East Asia Summit in Manila to offer them a new home in New Zealand:

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull faces further pressure from Jacinda Ardern as the New Zealand leader repeats her offer to take 150 refugees from Papua New Guinea's Manus Island and Nauru.


"I will be raising with Prime Minister Turnbull, as I have consistently done, that we have great concerns over the situation on Manus Island but also for the refugees on Nauru."

She saw no difference in principle between the cases on the two islands.

"Our hope is to lend a hand as far as we are able in helping resolve this situation."

Good. Because what Australia and its PNG proxies are doing here is horrific: torturing people for years, then abandoning them to starve to death in the jungle or be murdered by hostile locals. Its a human rights disaster, contra Gerry Brownlee, we need to help.

The good news is that, in theory (and explicitly in PNG, because they Are Not Being Detained), the refugees are free to leave to any country which wishes to take them. We should call Australia on that. And if they don't like us offering a new home to 150 people, then we should offer one to 500. If they don't like that, we should offer one to all of them, whether on Manus or Nauru. And if they still don't like that, it should be "fine, you're a citizen. The next Australian PM will give us what we want, or get the same".

Because ultimately, this is about who decides who gets to come to New Zealand. And the answer to that question can only be "New Zealand". Not "Australia", and certainly not Malcolm Turnbull or Peter Dutton. To riff on John Howard, we will decide who comes to New Zealand, and the circumstances in which they come - and we will be far less arseholey about it than our racist arsehole neighbours.

And remember, as long as Australia is torturing refugees in concentration camps, don't buy Australian.


In which the pond tries to revive its spirits with a hit of Major Mitchell ... loon pond

Perhaps the always reliable Major Mitchell would ease the pond's depression and give Malware something of a bounce ... even a dead cat can have her day ...

After all, there was a nicely ironic juxtaposition in the digital edition of the lizard Oz ...

Almost a weird caricature of a gross clich, this fixation of the reptiles with the ABC ... 

And look, there below the Crabb was the crabby Major, always ready and willing to carry on with his crabbiness ... squealing and moaning and whining and whinging ...

Well yes, the local reptiles shamelessly repeat stories from stablemates such as the WSJ and The Times and the Major can't be found blathering about the disrepute involved in getting into bed with a major American newspaper that has been corrupted by the Chairman Rupert touch, or the cuckoos of England who have suffered the same fate ...

Almost every news organisation has a taint somewhere in the genetic make-up, and Al Jazeera isn't as nearly as appalling as RT, and besides there are the long night hours to fill in, and the BBC used to be the supplier, and still is for chunks of radio, but isn't as willing as it used to be, and frankly PBS and the Canadians just don't cut it ... though even they keep bobbing up in odd places, while poor old Norman Swan ha...


Peter OBrien: Ardern on Manus Catallaxy Files

A week ago I sent the following letter to The Australian:

Your editorial tells us Malcolm Turnbull and Jacinda Ardern  are off to a good start.  Really?  Lets hope not. Here we have New Zealands neophyte PM throwing a grenade into our fractious immigration debate at a particularly difficult time during the Manus stand-off.  Turnbull courteously declined Arderns gratuitous public offer to take 150 illegals, made for no apparent reason other than virtue signalling.  If the offer were genuine, it would have been made in private and not announced until it was accepted and the details threshed out.    Turnbull courteously declined the offer.  It is to be hoped, however, that he made it clear privately, in no uncertain terms, that such interference in our affairs would not be tolerated in future.  That would be hypocrisy on steroids, of course, given Turnbulls cynical ploy, negotiated with the Obama administration on the eve of Donald Trumps inauguration, that saddled the incoming President with an outcome that his public statements made clear he would not have agreed to himself.   But, then, we all know Turnbulls no stranger to hypocrisy.

It wasnt published, of course, because God forbid one should criticize the editor of The Australian. Im now guessing, as predicted, that Turnbull copped it sweet because, barely a week later we have Ardern, in full frontal moral posturing mode , as reported in todays Australian:

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has blasted Australias handling of the refugee crisis on Manus Island as unacceptable as she seeks another meeting with Malcolm Turnbull on the issue.

Thank God weve got Julie Bishop to smooth things over.  Oh, wait.


Dual citizenship: A neoliberal crisis Independent Australia

Dual citizenship: A neoliberal crisisThe s44 fiasco has highlighted the incompetence and lack of policy and action of the Turnbull Government this is a crisis of neoliberalism. read now...


Parliamentary Moral Hazard Catallaxy Files

Moral hazard is a wonderful thing, when you are the beneficiary of it.  It is a situation where people who make bad decisions or bad choices do not pay the price for those choices.

Consider a child who steals the toys of another child but is not punished for the theft. Rather, it is the classroom or other parents who have to contribute to replace the stolen toy. What message is sent to the child who stole? You are good to go.

Moral hazard has plays out in all sorts of areas in the economy, but it is a big thing in insurance (formal and informal).

Consider 2 houses in a bush fire area; one house has fire insurance and the other has not. A fire destroys both houses. What happens? The owner of the insured house has to fight with the insurance company every step of the way. The owner of the uninsured house will go to Government and then get a bail out. Does this sound familiar? What message does this send to anyone else living in a bush fire area?

Ditto flood insurance. Consider a state that under-insured against the risk of flood and then went to the citizens of other states to bail them out, literally and metaphorically.

It happens all the time, and more often than not, it is government that likes to socialise the costs onto all citizens.  But hey.  The politicians get a great press conference out of it showing how generous and caring the government is.  It shouldnt happen, but it does and it completely distorts the operation of markets. Free healthcare anyone?  Electricity outage anyone?

Which brings us to the political issue du jour, Parliamentarians compliance with Section 44 of the Constitution.

As Sparticus has previously disclosed, he is not a lawyer. He can see his reflection in the mirror. But his question is this.  When replacing a disqualified Senator, the disqualified senator is treated as never having been on the ballot and the next person on the list is appointed.  Why does this not apply to House of Representative replacements?

Why, as in the case of New England, cant the Australian Electoral Commission just pull out the ballot papers from the previous election and just work out who would have won if Barnaby Joyce was not there?

If the Electoral Commission behaved like that, you would think that the political parties would be extra careful in vetting their candidates. Its not like Section 44 was added to the Constitution in the last couple of years or that the High Court has not considered Section 44 issues before.

The price of this stuff up is not paid by those who made the stuff up. It is paid by everyone else.

But what about the cost of the by-election, and by-elections in general.  Why are not the costs of by-elections for voluntary resignations (Joe Hockey or Kevin Rudd anyone) charged to the political party of the resignee?  The parties have failed to properly vet...


Saved by Canada No Right Turn

APEC was held over the weekend, during which various countries were expected to make a final push to resurrect the Trans-Pacific Partnership. On Friday night, it looked like it was dead, and that Canada had saved us from a shitty US trade deal. By Sunday morning, it was alive again - but Canada has still probably saved us.

There were three bits of the TPPA that most people objected to: the anti-democratic Investor-State Dispute clause, under which multinational (US) corporations could sue countries for regulations which affected their (real or imagined) profits; US patent pork which threatened Pharmac; and general US copyright bullshit, including a mandatory copyright term extension to protect Mickey Mouse, along with various attacks on fair use and file sharing. But thanks to Canada, all of that shit is gone. Technically, its only "suspended", and could be back in if the US ever rejoins the agreement, but that's about as likely as Trump not sticking his foot in his mouth next time he opens it, so for all practical purposes these provisions are dead. So, we've got an FTA shorn of its most objectionable parts. Whether the deal is still worth it for New Zealand without US market access remains to be seen, but in the previous analysis the US bullshit was a significant cost, so it might be (whether you trust MFAT's analysts to do a fair analysis when institutionally their prestige rests on the deal being accepted is another question, of course).

The government has been clear that the new TPPA will have to go back to Parliament - that is, that it is a different deal from the "Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, done at Auckland on 4 February 2016", so National's TPPA law can never come into effect. While they're now part of the government which has agreed to this, I don't expect NZ First and the Greens to give it an easy ride through select committee, and I expect the numbers to be heavily scrutinised. If they don't like it, then I guess Labour will just have to ask National for support instead.

Meanwhile, if this experience has shown us anything, its how badly National sold us out on this issue. A better deal was possible the moment the US walked away, but National was perfectly happy to sign the TPPA as written, complete with US IP bullshit. Its also shown us how undemocratic our foreign policy is, and how secret negotiations do nothing but...


van Onselen bellows Catallaxy Files

In an age where the default approach is for people to yell at each other, Leith van Onselen prefers to bellow, as he did last week on the Macrobusiness blog with me as the target ( I dont know van Onselen, but he describes himself as unconventional. Never was a truer word said.

After all, a conventional economist, looking at this graph of the wages share:

would not think it was a continuous linear trend. Rather, there are clearly three phases, or if you want to use a more technical term, regimes: one that sees the share rise sharply beginning the late 1960s and then accelerating in the 1970s, propelled by Whitlam wages explosion and its after-signature; one, in which the wages share declines steeply, that begins as the wages explosion unwinds in the 1980s and continues up to the recession we had to have; and finally a relatively stable wages share since then, albeit one affected (as economists would expect) by the mining boom and by swings in terms of trade. That is why in my column I compared the current wages share to that which prevailed since the real wage overhang had been more or less corrected.

But that would be boring and conventional; instead van Onselen projects a straight linear trend through the entire period, from the earliest signs of the acceleration of wages growth to the present, and concludes there is a secular decline. Ignored is the fact that even the most rudimentary econometrics would reject the hypothesis of a stable trend; and it would also reject the hypothesis that the current share represented a change in regime from that which has prevailed since the late 1980s.

As if that were not enough, van Onselen also takes a decidedly unconventional approach to measuring profits. As I noted in the column, profit rates are not at highs, as the ACTU claims. van Onselen claims to rebut my statement but as best I can tell, he looks at gross profitssomewhat strangely deflatedwithout taking account of the fact that the capital stock doubled in the mining boom. Call me boring and conventional, but I prefer to use the national accounts data to derive a measure of the gross rate of returnsee below; enough said.



Clive Hamilton and Sinophobia Catallaxy Files

A few years ago Clive Hamilton wrote a very strange article in The Guardian that lead to this editorial statement (emphasis added):

This article was amended soon after publication on 18 February 2014 to correct the headline, a misreported statistic and some loosely paraphrased anecdotes, the combined effect of which had been to overstate the evidence then available about the impact Chinese investment was having on Sydneys rising residential real estate prices.

The editors note said in part: the causes of fluctuations in housing prices are several and varied. Foreign buyers, and among them Chinese investors, may be a greater or lesser cause from time to time. Guardian Australia has concluded that, on the evidence presented, it was wrong to imply through the original headline that wealthy Chinese buyers are disproportionately a factor compared to any other national or ethnic group. The author stands by his opinion, as he is entitled to. Guardian Australia believes it must correct the evidence base underpinning that opinion and label it less emphatically in order to give readers assistance in weighing it and to avoid any inference of racism.

Then a few weeks ago there was this article in The Australian:

For several years the Chinese party-state has been pursuing a co-ordinated program to acquire from abroad advanced military and industrial technology, and to do so by fair means or foul. It now emerges that Australian universities inadvertently are helping to give China the technological leadership it craves.

The Australian Research Council is funnelling Australian taxpayer funds into research with applications to Chinas advanced weapons capacity through its linkage program. The program aims to encourage national and international research collaborations between university researchers and partners in industry or other research centres, in this case with Chinese military scientists.

A long conspiracy theory about how Australian government funding of ethnic Chinese Australian academics was promoting Chinese government interests. Nasty stuff.

Then today:

Australian publisher Allen & Unwin has ditched a book on Chinese Communist Party influence in Australian pol...


Marriage Equality this year: We shall see! The AIM Network

By Terence Mills What has become known as WA Liberal Senator Dean Smiths draft of amendments to the Marriage Act 1961 appear to be the preferred basis for legislative change should the postal opinion poll return a positive result. Extracts from the explanatory memorandum relating to the draft legislation include: Ministers of religion will be

The post Marriage Equality this year: We shall see! appeared first on The AIM Network.


Federal and State governments fiddle while koalas burn Independent Australia

Federal and State governments fiddle while koalas burnThe mainstream media continue to look the other way as governments sign off on developments that will see koalas wiped out. read now...


In which even Moorice can't staunch a deep existential angst ... loon pond

So what happened in reptile la la land on the weekend? What did the pond miss by taking a little R and R?

Thanks to the peculiar business model of the lizard Oz - which consists of throwing the rag around free in airports like a suburban newspaper, or perhaps wedding confetti - the pond encountered the lizard Oz in tree killer form in the airport lounge. And was immediately plunged into an existential crisis.

It was partially the thought of all the dead trees, the sorrow and the sadness of the loss, even of one humble pine, but it was also due to the sudden, sickening realisation that perhaps the reptiles in the herpetarium weren't as attractive as the pond had foolishly imagined.

Perhaps they were simply nasty, bitey, scratchy, creepy, crawling ugly types, replete with an astonishing capacity for delusion.

They were all clustered together in a section called Inquirer, but the only inquiry was how far they could veer to the far, eccentric, barking mad, howling at the moon right. To see them huddled together was a palpable shock to the system.

The oscillating fan set the tone. Usually the fan tries to pretend he's balanced and somewhere in the middle, and then he comes out with Lazarus with a triple bypass could return to save the day.

Sure he presented it as a piece of fantasy football, but that's just another way of saying he's a wanker. It doesn't explain how his copy wasn't spiked. It certainly doesn't excuse onanistic dreaming of the return of 78 year old John Howard as the redeemer of the Liberal party and the saviour of the nation.

Then there was the dog botherer, with Turnbull has lost his way but the Coalition has a fallback option. Guess who?

Better still, guess the weak, lame, mealy mouthed fudge that ended this total waste of space:

As has been the case since 2009, Turnbull and Abbott remain the only Coalition options this side of an election. 
Due to his policies and his cynical approach, we cannot expect a Shorten government to correct the national bearing. Without major adjustment he would most likely ensure this lost period of the post-Howard decade is extended. We need to confront the sobering reality that it might only be the next generation of leadership, on either side of the aisle, that holds our best hopes.

In short, the dog botherer knew Malware was a dropkick, but at the last moment, he lost heart and didn't have the oneiric capacity to call for the return of the onion muncher as the rede...



The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) in February this year, issued a country report on PNG. One of the issues addressed is corruption.

The old saying that the fish rots from the head down, is reversed by DFAT. They suggest that in PNG, the rot begins at the tail, within grass-roots communities, slowly travelling up the spine, to rot the head senior politicians and public officials.

This is how the argument is framed by DFAT:

Corruption in PNG takes a number of forms. What outsiders call corruption may often reflect the wantok obligations of the individuals concerned. For example, virtually all politicians need to reward their supporters in material and tangible ways, ranging from providing projects to villages and districts which voted for them, to ensuring contracts are directed towards leading supporters. MPs (and candidates) are also under considerable pressure to assist their constituents pay school fees, funeral costs, bride prices and other expenses. Most PNG citizens accept such practices as being more or less consistent with their expectation of their elected representatives. Politicians who violate the basic understanding that while they benefit from incumbency, their supporters should receive a share are unlikely to be re-elected. These practices can create a permissive environment for much more systematic exploitation of the government system for personal benefit, with little or no pay-off for local communities.

Before we single out the Australian government, it ought to be noted other international donors, draw similar conclusions. Take the World Bank:

A particular characteristic of the traditional culture of PNG is a system of relationships/obligations between individuals connected by a common origin, hailing from the common geographic area, sharing a common kinship and common language [which] can provide a strong incentive for nepotistic and corrupt practices.

Remember, these views are not inconsequential. The Australian government and World Bank are not only major donors and funders, they also have considerable influence on policy and government action.

How they have managed to see everything upside down is a question for another day. But lets put things the right way up.

First, ther...


John Constantine: Dictated Law from Unelected Operatives Catallaxy Files

Back in the old days, the police always used to say their job was to enforce the laws made by elected officials, not make laws themselves.

Now we see vicpol political operatives making submissions on gun laws, and even vicpol top level unelected operatives colluding with unelected shire operatives to transform road speed limits.

Shire rates no longer need be spent on fixing roads, as unelected vicpol political officers are this week to appear with unelected shire political officers in community consultation meetings to drop speed limits on worn out infrastructure, so rates and taxes can be spent paying high wages to political officers instead.

What points can Cats make on the slippery slope that is dictator made law?


A rich vein of insight into the liberal mind Oz Conservative

Lisa Wade is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Occidental University in the United States. She is a leftist feminist who worries about the direction of America under President Trump. Her article on this is interesting, not only for the radical conclusions it draws but also for its insight into the liberal mind.

Before I begin on her article, though, I thought it useful to point out the way the Lisa Wade defines feminism. I have previously argued that feminism is liberalism applied to the lives of women. Lisa Wade agrees:

When prompted to define feminism, Wade answered that she considers feminism to be the desire that our choices in life and feelings about ourselves are dictated by who we are, not our sex.

I just want everyone to be themselves, she said.

Liberals have this worldview in which being a man or a woman is not being ourselves, because these are predetermined qualities and the liberal individual is supposed to be an autonomous, self-determining individual. So being a man or a woman is not supposed to matter. As masculinity and femininity imply that we are influenced in who we are by our sex, they too are thought of negatively as "prisons" or "limitations" that not only curtail our freedom, but in the leftist view have an even more sinister role of enforcing privilege and inequality.

Which brings us to Lisa Wade's article. She begins by noting that liberals have a faith in an arc of moral progress:
The first thing that must go is the belief among progressives that we are on some fateful journey to a better place. We know that Americas grand democratic vision of all men are created equal didnt initially include all men, or any women, and that we have never granted the promised equality. Yet many of us still hold fast to the idea that America is a great nation, managing the cognitive dissonance by envisioning the country as on a journey toward perfection. As Martin Luther King Jr. famously said, echoing the abolitionist Theodore Parker, The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

It is important to take this in. It is an example of how Western intellectuals "immanentize the eschaton." Rather than seeing history as recording the rise and fall of civilisations, with each civilisation struggling to avoid its decline, the leftist/liberal believes that he is participating in and helping humanity progress towards its ultimate end point of moral perfection. He believes that such a thing is possible and that it gives meaning to history and to those pushing the way forward to "social justice." This helps to explain the sometimes cult like nature of Western liberalism, in which individuals cl...


Facilities deserve a place in development "IndyWatch Feed"

There are many ways to build a house. One way is to choose your own architect, surveyor, plumber, electrician, carpenter.  You will get your family a great house, but it will take lots of your time, progress may be slower and you may not be able to control for costs. Another option is to work on the design and simply find a contractor to deal with the details and deliver the house to you at a cost you can afford, while you keep an eye on whether they are delivering on time and on budget.

A debate is emerging in Australian aid circles about different ways of delivering aid programs. Drawing on the analogy above should Australias Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) manage lots of smaller separate contracts to deliver development outcomes, or should it combine numerous small projects into a single large contract, managed by a single firm. These big multi sector programs, which are increasingly in use in DFATs larger aid relationships, are often called facilities. They were the subject of questions by Opposition Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Senator Claire Moore in Australias Parliament on 26 October (p.53-59).

The firm I work for, Abt Associates, is implementing three facility type programs for the Australian aid program, all at various stages of implementation the KOMPAK program in Indonesia, the Partnership for Human Development in Timor Leste and the Papua New Guinea Governance Facility. I would like to share what we have we learned about facilities in addressing complex development problems.

To assess the merits of this approach it is helpful to recall why DFAT started down the facility path.

The first rationale is to improve efficiency in aid delivery to spend less on the management (car fleets, financial management, procurement and HR systems) so that more scarce aid funds can go into the programs themselves. It is assumed that one slightly larger finance team can do the job that three of four finance teams used to do when the contracts were all separately managed.[1]

The second rationale is to free the relatively fewer aid management staff in DFAT to focus on strategy, relationships and performance, rather than tying up their time in managing lots of smaller contracts......


Day to Day Politics: The nuclear war on Turnbull. The AIM Network

Monday 13 November 2017 What is best for the country? I ask myself as I wrestle with the vexed question of dual citizenship. Its somewhat of a quandary for an old purest wanting to improve the standard of governance in our nation. Bill Shorten of course is milking the situation for all its worth. Blatantly

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Its all happening Skepticlawyer

Im not usually given to quoting Bill Lawry around these parts, but the last week has been somewhatbusy. For good reason, though.

First, the Cato Institute published the entirety of my Authors Note from Kingdom of the Wicked, where in an attempt to avoid having my writing horribly misinterpreted I set out how Id gone about writing my second novel, and why. The piece represents a fairly considerable piece of craft, and Id like to pay tribute here to both Legal Eagle and Lorenzo, who read and edited multiple early revisions with a view to helping me hone it to the greatest extent possible. Catos introduction runs as follows:

Regular readers of may recognize Helen Dale as a recurring contributor to the sitebut long before she started writing here, she was an award-winning author of fiction.

Writing fiction that feels real can be a tricky thing. For a fictional world and the characters in it to seem true to life, they have to behave like the real world behaves and as real people do. Authors, for that reason, have to have a theory of how the real world works, about how real people behaveeven if that theory is implicitthat they can draw on to answer questions about how their fictional world works and how their fictional characters behave in it.

Humans famously disagree about how the world worksabout their theories of sociology and economics, for exampleand those disagreements are by nature political disagreements. This means that at least to some degree, fiction is political.

I dont mean to sound nave about the issue of authorial intent. Perhaps its better to say that a text has an implicit politics, rather than asserting that the texts author shares those politics. But in the piece that followsthe Authors Note from Helen Dales new book Kingdom of the Wickedwe have an author giving us a peek behind the curtain into her thinking. She tells us she deliberately constructed her storys world while relying on a set of beliefsabout history, the law, and economicsthat she describes as belonging to the classical liberal tradition. I feel c...


Pauline Hanson - bad taste personified North Coast Voices

As part of One Nations 2017 Queensland state election campaign the tin-eared Pauline Hanson (who consistently supports Turnbull Government punitive social & economic policies in the Senate) has a so-called 'battler bus' on the road..


Is the NSW Berejiklian Government cruising for a bruising on the Clarence River? North Coast Voices

It would appear that the Clarence Valley may be less than whole-heartedly enthusiastic about the NSW Berejiklian Coaltion Government's plans for the Port of Yamba.

Editor Bill North at The Daily Examiner, 25 October 2017, p.9:

Cruisin for a bruisin

ONCE again dollar-sign gazes are cast in the direction of the pristine Clarence River estuary.

The Future Transport 2056 strategy announced by the NSW Government yesterday is considering Coffs and Yamba as potential ports for international cruise ships.

But I think the suggestion of a cruise ship terminal at Yamba could turn into a shipwreck before the idea ever sets sail.

It harks back to the Eastgate Port proposal being pushed by developers which has ruffled feathers of residents, activist groups and politicians alike.

There are plenty of obstructions standing in the way of such a large scale development in the Clarence River.

Heavy dredging will be required to navigate the Yamba Bar, which happened to be the subject of a landmark native title claim for the Yaegl people in August.

Then where to build? The mind boggles when looking at aerial photographs of the Ya...

Sunday, 12 November


The dots less joined oecomuse

As someone who asked the question of whether British-born Tony Abbott is eligible to sit in the Australian Parliament back in 2014, I feel the pain of punters who are tired of the section 44 story. In those days, we who raised the s.44 question were mocked as birthers, a nasty distortion, as I explained here.

The issue is not the foreign-born, but renunciation of foreign allegiance. Abbott never disguised a strong sense of allegiance to England. But those who backed Abbott into office studiously ignored eligibility questions. It is fine for Abbott to tweet a renunciation screenshot three years after those questions were raised, yet now we see the entry papers, not of an MP but his mother, published online [deliberately not linked]. We see the Prime Minister demanding Shorten prove his renunciation, which Shorten did.

While the press scour parentage records across the parliament, Turnbull announces new disclosure rules that replicate the disclosure statement all federal parliamentarians have already signed, making his decision as redundant as his leadership. The major parties failed, as the major parties were always going to fail, to resolve the problem of candidates failing to renounce.

This is because both majors want what they always want. It is not rocket surgery. Labor wants to force the Coalition to a general election so it can win government, and the Coalition wants to stay in government. That is the point of the existence of these organisations, and thus that is what each will pursue.

meanwhile, we all have to watch the routine hypocrisy, a function of the inherent conservatism of our political and media institutions. But the direction reporters and politicians have taken this story since July 2017 is increasingly ugly. There is the law, sure, but there is also the messaging.

The legal question, and its answer

Our constitution disqualifies from the federal parliament anyone with acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience, or adh...


The ugly language of politics The AIM Network

By Ad astra It was with some trepidation that I embarked upon this piece. Language is complex. Embedded in the language we use is a constellation of concepts, ideas, beliefs, facts, prejudices, and biases. Teasing out these elements is a formidable task. It was therefore with keen anticipation that I tuned in to Joseph Kahn

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Australian values, immigration and employment The AIM Network

Isnt it ironic that we are lectured to about Australian values by a government full of migrants and their immediate descendants. That is the reality of modern-day Australia.  The 2016 census showed that nearly half (49 per cent) of Australians had either been born overseas (first generation Australian) or one or both parents had been

The post Australian values, immigration and employment appeared first on The AIM Network.


On higher education (a Sunday reflection) The AIM Network

This piece was written and posted on the 17 December 2013 in response to what I saw as an understanding that existed (and I believe still does exist) between what could be called the higher-educated classes as against the low-educated working classes that could be best described as a consciousness of kind between the

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CARTOON: Trump in China Independent Australia

CARTOON: Trump in ChinaTrump holding China to account for stealing American jobs... read now...


What should government do on the blockchain? Catallaxy Files

Satoshi Nakamoto said Bitcoin would be very attractive to the libertarian viewpoint. The pioneers of cryptocurrencies were cypherpunks or crypto-anarchists who wanted to use this new invention to escape the states monopoly on money.

Were sympathetic to thisas we argued in our last Medium essay Byzantine Political Economy.

But the state is not so easy to escape.

Not only are there many blockchain use-cases for government, but it is possible that positive government action could help the blockchain revolution along.

and it just keeps getting better from there. My RMIT colleagues Chris Berg, Jason Potts and I have another essay up at Medium on promise of blockchain technology.


Imports and Jobs Catallaxy Files

I saw this graph at Carpe Diem and wondered what the Australian equivalent would look like.

So a quick visit to the ABS (I couldnt easily find real imports of goods and services, so nominal will have to do) and voila:

Not quite as nice a picture as the US data (he used real data, I have nominal) but the same basic story. An Australian correlation between the two series of 0.9874 compared to the US correlation of 0.964. Now I know correlation is not causation blah, blah, blah, but completely and utterly inconsistent with protectionist arguments.


The Tragic Declaration: Colonial Legacies, Balfour and Israel The AIM Network

So much after the fact; so much in terms of opportunism gone to seed and destruction. But planned historical calamities tend to be rare. There are only absurd moments, dastardly opportunities, and tragic convergences. History is less the outcome of wise deliberation than folly dressed up as reason, occasionally tinged by a touch of malice.

The post The Tragic Declaration: Colonial Legacies, Balfour and Israel appeared first on The AIM Network.


Casual academia: Flexibility, agility and despair Independent Australia

Casual academia: Flexibility, agility and despairTutoring or lecturing at university is often a life of disadvantage and precarity, where casual staff carry most of the teaching workload. read now...


Animate still photography in Photoshop with Artymate, first impressions Pigs Fly Newspaper

The lines between photos and video are getting thinner everyday. With our social media being able to display both indistinguishable on our timelines, Live Photos, selfie filters, etc. its become more and more practice to post videos of our life and creations then ever. A video keeps a viewer engaged longer and with so much available media that a good thing

Video is also becoming more beautiful and high res. 4K high resolution display are common. With that much resolution at our fingertips, theres more room to display our photos and videos. As photographers weve always been used to working on high resolution files. But with the possibility of adding motion to our photos has sparked Motion Posters and Cinemagraphs, and now Artymates.


The ugly language of politics The Political Sword

It was with some trepidation that I embarked upon this piece. Language is complex. Embedded in the language we use is a constellation of concepts, ideas, beliefs, facts, prejudices, and biases. Teasing out these elements is a formidable task.

It was therefore with keen anticipation that I tuned in to Joseph Kahn giving The 2017 Andrew Olle Media Lecture on ABC TV, hoping for some inspiration. I was underwhelmed with what I experienced.

I had anticipated that the managing editor of no less than The New York Times would deliver an electrifying address to honour our own Andrew Olle. Instead, I found it rather drab. Having now read the transcript though, I realize that there was more substance to his lecture than I had initially perceived. It must have been his pedestrian delivery that influenced my perception.

As anticipated, early in his lecture he focused on fake news, which the President of the United States has accused his paper, along with most of the US media, of perpetrating. When he deems news to be fake, Donald Trump tweets wildly and angrily to condemn it.

So lets begin this dissertation about the ugly language of politics with consideration of fake news.

Kahn began: The good news is that much of the concern about fake news is, to put a fine point on it, fake. He asserts that President Trump seized on rising alarm about actual fake news circulating on the Internetand turned it into a campaign against reliable providers of real newsa strategy that comes directly from the pages of Orwell or Kafka.

Kahn went on to define fake news as 'a piece of content that takes the form of a news story but has little or no basis in reported fact. It is created by someone fully aware of its lack of factual basis with the express purpose of going viral, either to achieve some political or social purpose or to earn money for the author. Or both.'

He quoted a couple of instances: "Pope Francis Shocks World, Endorses Donald Trump for President, shared nearly 1 million times on Facebook, and WikiLeaks Confirms Hillary Sold Weapons to ISIS, shared nearly 800,000 times. These are actual examples, albeit gross, of fake news.

Kahns definition consigns fake news to the category of deliberate lying for political, social, or economic advantage. Lets take that as a working definition.

Of course, some of what is...

The good, the bad and the unsatisfactory: How the worst NBN was done Independent Australia

The good, the bad and the unsatisfactory: How the worst NBN was doneFormer senior Telstra project manager Dermot Daley provides a concise history of how Australia's digital future was repeatedly undermined. read now...

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