30 June 2006

sing me back home

V V B is in temporary hiatus while we deal with some family stuff. Back in a week or so.

27 June 2006

citizen erased*

"I know what their perspective is because we've had some briefing provided to our officials by the British Government but it's really nothing to do with us": 'Foreign Minister' Downer on David Hicks.

This from a bloke who when he first became Foreign Minister, admirably (in my view, as a consul in a previous life) highlighted the value of consular work.

Advice to the unwary: don't get into trouble overseas.

I'd never heard of it either.

24 June 2006

warriors of the world united

See this article. No, we're not going to bang on about the power and single-mindedness of the US National Rifle Association. Rather, it's their somewhat delusional belief that the United Nations has a secret agenda to control the world. It's a belief that is partly grounded in American exceptionalism and also that country's insistence that it not be bound by multilateral agreements it doesn't like (see for example the reference to the Convention of the Rights on the Child in the article). (Although why you wouldn't ratify such an agreement I don't know - unless it's about preserving labour market flexibility by leaving open the option for child labour...nah, just kidding).

At the same time as the US objects to being bound by such agreements, it also is the main source of funds for most multilateral bodies, although its influence in them varies according to the different rules under which they operate. For example I think the US has much more say in the International Monetary Fund than in the UN itself (ie the General Assembly). That said, the US uses its position as major banker to exert additional pressure, and does in fact withhold its contributions.

The NRA of course presents as a single minded entity so the story presented about the extent of its lobbying the UN rings true.

No, this is more about this sentence in the article: "In fact, as much American criticism of the world body notes, the UN seems incapable of doing almost anything efficiently, let alone undertake the task of disarming America."

This is undoubtedly true. Having had a very little bit to do with various UN bodies, although about 15 years ago, the first things that struck me then were:
* excessively bureaucratic systems and practices;
* an employment club for the elites of its members (mainly of developing countries);
* dedicated people on the ground, paper-shufflers at head offices;
* little coordination between individual agencies, resulting in gross inefficiencies and allowing member countries to export their particular preoccupations between agencies - if they failed somewhere, they'd try it on somewhere else;
* not much accountability.

When Pauline Hanson came to public rceognition in 1998 and was banging on about the UN, I often wondered how strong her language would have been if she really knew how bad it was?

The thing is, the UN was founded in a period that might, in retropect, be seen as a high-water mark for international cooperation. Yes, the Cold War was just starting and there were still widespread tensions. The era of decolonisation what just kicking off. The
Bretton Woods institutions had also been established in an effort to ensure that there would be nor repeat of the Depression and to asists in post-war reconstruction. Subseqent changes to the architecture of the world economy and to prevailing policies, with the rise of the deregulated, free-market economic model, have seen the institutions having to adapt, often at some cost in terms of criticism (see the link to the institutions' webpage). The UN was a high-minded attempt to prevent repetition of two devastating world wars.

And, as observed earlier, many people within the system, particularly those on the ground, are hardworking and very idealistic. The interplay of policies between the UN agencies and host governments often - at least used to - add substantial unnecessary impediments to getting things done.

There are current moves to reform the General Assembly of the United Nations to better reflect the rise and economic clout of other countries - China, India, Korea, Brazil. Let's hope that some new model is adopted. It seems axiomatic that, in an era of globalisation, we need effective multilateral bodies.

And while we're on this topic, same for the OECD. When China is not far off becoming the world's largest economy, it seems ludicrous that it is not an OECD member but Luxembourg is. Hence the development of forums such as the G20.

23 June 2006

Friday stuffed animal break dance blogging

Via Stereogum, this sweet video obviously shot by the older brother as little brother breaks it down to Gnarls Barkley's Crazy. Looks like little bro forgot there was no doorknob. And btw Gnarls, that is one serious doob.

reflections of my life week

As I was off to bed last night offspring no 2 (hmm! she's not doing much blogging is she?) asked me whether I was getting up for the game. I said I'd be up in time for the last ten minutes, that being the total time necessary, and indeed, as I came down the stairs this morning I heard an unbridled yell of joy from the lounge, which was offpsring no 2 celebrating Harry Kewell's equaliser. On the way to work the streets were flecked with green and gold (and, I suspect, a bit of amber as well). Anyway, all in all a good thing and now Australia is on the world stage in the round ball game. Might even have to learn a bit about it so as to be knowledgeable opinionated on Mondays.

In hindsight I realise that I broke an earlier vow about posting in a Howard hating vein a few times this week. I certainly broke it at home: during one extended rant during the news I got an unambiguous message from Mrs v v b that any further behaviour of this type would result in dramatically revised living arrangements. I think I've got the message now. I will try to restrict myself to obviously egregious examples in this blog from now on...but then, all examples are egregious to me. Hammer, nail, etc. On the other hand, there are a few signs of wheels falling off the government at the moment so those of us of wishy-washy leftish disposition can start to have some hope. Except for the quality of the opposition front bench, which does not inspire much confidence.

The weekly schedule of catching up with various people for coffee went pretty much as expected, with the exception that I only had to pay once (out of about 7 or 8 meetings). I really must figure out how I managed that so I can keep it going. What did we do before coffee chats? Anyway, as those readers who know me personally will attest, I do love catching up and am trying to be a more attentive listener.

There's been some car stuff during the week, mainly trying to get rid of
a superfluous one just like this. It has been a beaut car when it was running right, but it didn't do that for a sufficient proportion of the time. I reckon it must have been a Friday build, or perhaps you can put it down to the evils of socialism.

No news yet on the
talk I am supposed to give, but occasionally supplementing my inital research into optimism has revealed some pretty amazing stuff and I know I've barely scratched the surface. I am hoping that should this event ever actually occur, we get some good discussion going.

Anyway, getting close to Friday night football time so, as the Tubes said,
talk to ya later.

22 June 2006

ch ch ch ch changes

Well cut my legs off and call me shorty.

Bill Heffernan talks sense. I also read today that Noel Crichton-Browne came out with some similar lines, but I can't find anything online.

On the other hand, it seems that
some people couldn't lie straight in bed.

21 June 2006


When I wanted this for a title, I was of course thinking of the Knickerbockers song from 1966. But checking on guitartabs, I also find other eminently suitable references: "A Thousand Lies" - Machine Head; "Read Between the Lies" - Slayer; "All Lies" - New Kind of Normal (I like both the song and band names, that's the world we are living in!); "Outright Lies" - 88 Fingers Louie; "Tell Me More Lies" - David Gray (one for the 51% of the electorate, I imagine); and "One of my Lies" - Green Day.

No surprises where this is leading, is there?

In the Bulletin today,
Laurie Oakes lays it on the line (at bloody last): "Cardinal Pell is right to be concerned. These laws will lead to lower pay and worse conditions for a not insignificant number of workers. The government has known it all along. It lied in claiming otherwise." Oakes also spends a fair bit of time detailing how answers to his questions by the PM on Sunday were obfuscatory, as were responses by Costello to Alan Jones on radio. Oakes uses the Macquarie Dictionary definition of obfuscate - "to confuse or stupefy" and these examples are illuminating - but not as accurate, and to the point, as "lying".

Some more from Howard on IR: "Under no circumstances will a Howard government create a wages system that will cause the take-home pay of Australians to be cut. Under a Howard government, you cannot be worse off." Why doesn't someone call him on this and say "prove it?" What'll we get, the usual macro it will be good for the economy response?

On the other hand, maybe we should take a deep breath and watch this space (bearing in mind that this comes from that red rag The Age, and is by definition untrustworthy).

Finally, with the continuing neutering of our system of governance - the changes reforms to the Electoral Act plus the changes to the system of Senate Committees - we have truly got the government that we other people voted for. I was also captivated by Minchin's support for the reforms on TV tonight: the 1994 changes were in response to particular circumstances at the time, it's all about efficiency and, well, we have the Senate numbers. Yar boo sucks, in other words. If we ever get a Labor Government again, won't the Libs squeal when these changes are retained? (In the name of efficiency, of course.)

some people are still sanguine.

19 June 2006

money changes everything

It certainly seems to be changing the nature of sport and public spectacles. I was taken with this story from the UK about (allegedly) the most recent incursions on the rights of sponsors over the freedom of individuals at the World Cup in Germany. Now, it is certainly the case that as the public demands bigger and better sporting spectacles (oh - does it? or is that some radical assumpiton?), that sponsorship money is required to meet that need. And as an investment, a sponsor has a reasonable right to get return on that investment. And, finally, that so-called 'ambush' or 'guerilla' marketing is aimed at undermining the legitimate sponsor's investment.

But I reckon I'd be pretty pissed off if I wore some old thing that I had owned for ages, that simply happened to have a rival company's name on it, and said item was confiscated. By which I mean stolen. Simply taken at face value, the story as reported to me indicates a gross diminution of the individual's freedom in favour of corporate clout. That's an easy accusation to make: does it stand up?

What do people think?

17 June 2006

days of future passed

I've been asked to deliver a presentation to another part of the organisation next week. The 'directions' were that it was to be about the future, and it was to be motivational, but apart from this I seem to have a fairly free rein. My working title is:

"The future, the nature of optimism and the daily grind."

I'm passing on doing any economic (or other) forecasting, as my experience has been in most organisations like this one that it will not be embedded into other processes, which is essential if it to be of any use at all; on optimism I'll be talking about
Martin Seligman (and a few others of similar ilk); and using some analysis from the Workplace Research Centre (formerly the Australian Centre for Industrial Relations Research and Training at the University of Sydney) for the daily grind bit.

Any comments that anyone would care to volunteer will be gratefully taken in to consideration.

If it actually happens (see comment about forecasting above), I will report.

wild rover: the pictorial version

here it is:

bizarre - couldn't for the life of me get it to load in the previous post

John - yeah, I know it's out of focus, just felt like telling the story.

16 June 2006

wild rover

I have just finished this book and would like to write about it, but need a little time to get the thoughts in order. However, if in doubt, do read it as it's bloody good.

No, today is about the wondrous Rover P6. Here it is (nb: some problem uploading pictures at the moment - will add later) - a Lledo Hidden Treasures version.

The Hidden Treasures range is great - they replicate backyard wrecks and show rust, faded/wrecked paintwork and so on. This model even has the sticker on the windscreen that the car has failed its MoT and is unregistered, and even has the inevitable bent coat hanger for its radio aerial. As the Rover that I acquired was definitely in this category, it was appropriate that I got the Hidden Treasures model version.

The Rover was bought as a project (ie backyard wreck) to do up as a first car for the
male offspring, but the work proved beyond me. I bought it for $100 from a mate who lived at the time in Bombala (southern NSW). He had acquired a company car and so the Rover was superfluous to needs. It also had a few ominous noises from the 3.5 litre V8, caused (he said) by the previous owner having dropped something metallic and solid down one (or perhaps two) spark plug holes. It had two high powered driving lights and a very natty, very small leather steering wheel - ie set up as a high speed tourer. The P6s did cruise well but weren't fast off the line - they had discs all round (inboard at the rear) and a full chassis - all factors that appealed as a first car for a male offspring. The downside was the fairly prodigious thirst of the V8 (everything else about V8s is unambiguously good).

So I had to collect this beast from Bombala. I hired a car trailer - lying that I wasn't taking it outside the ACT border - hitched it to the tow car (my then 4.4 litre (P76 engined) Triumph 2500 and collected another wreck from friends of friends of another mate to deliver to yet another friend of said mate in Bombala. It was only some small Jap car and I got down to Bombala from Canberra very easily - just slightly higher fuel consumption, but as the V8 Trump only ever got 18 mpg at best, it hardly mattered.

Brian in Bombala with the Rover had organised a big night out (revolving crawl between the 3 pubs) so I was keen to get on with it, but I figured without the bloke I was delivering the Jap crap to. I had met him a few times - he was best described as an alternate lifestyler. He lived in a wrecked house about 10 kms out of town. There was cold running water but no toilet as he had shot it to death some months previously. The yard was full of wrecked cars including about 3 or 4 Triumphs. He met me in town with a slab of VB and several bottles of hard liquor and had evidently planned a large-ish night in. I hated to let him down (I love a party as much as the next bloke) but, as stated, I was on a promise. So we unloaded the Jap crap, I had a couple of beers to be companionable, I made my apologies and repaired back to town.

It was a very big night. Friday night in Bombala is big. Or at lwast was back in the early 1990s. Drink-driving appeared to be more obligatory than prohibited.

The next morning, after a bracing walk in the minus 2 degree mist to try to clear the head, we loaded the Rover on the trailer and off I went. Brian lived most of the way up a fair sized hill with a picturesque gravel (dirt) driveway up to it - halfway along which was a small bridge over a creek. Crawling down the hill, the trailer (with the Rover, which of course was a heavier car than the Trump - yet another piece of illegality to the whole exercise) started to get away and, altho' I was hard on the brakes, we started to slide. Into the bridge. Cutting a very long piece of this story short, we got the neighbouring farmer, over 80 years old, to hoist himself onto his tractor and come and remove us. And then - only then - did we adjust the override brakes on the trailer so that it would attempt to stop when the car brakes were on. Rather than after, or not at all.

And off we went. The P76 motor was big and lazy and had bags of torque. It only shifted down to second once in the whole trip - up a steep piece of road - but it also drank two and half tanks of petrol, working out to about 7-8 mpg.

Once I had the Rover back in Canberra I started to clean it. It had evidently done a lot of gravel road miles, I vacuumed about 10 kg of dirt and dust out of it. But it really was up for a big rebuild and so the idea of doing it up faded. I stuck some spare ACT plates on it and went to collect son from a mate's place one day. He was quite excited by this surprise - not as much as I was, as I kept an eye out for coppers.

Having dispensed with any idea of doing it up I pulled the motor out and sold it to one of my Triumph Club colleagues to put in his Triumph Stag (a very common conversion), put the little sports steering wheel on the Triumph and sold the rest.

I occasionally see a P6 around and think "hmmm", but not for long.

15 June 2006

anyone can play guitar

The new toy - an Aria TA60. I haven't researched the build date yet.

and the old one - this is an Australian-made Fisonic 17WG amp, bought new in 1970 for (as I recall) $40. It's lost its front badge but is still on the original valves and twin 8 inch Etone speakers. I've replaced the foot switch on the vibrato (the vibrato is excellent on Crimson and Clover).

14 June 2006

good times bad times

Any interest I might have had in blogreporting today's various goings-on has been buried by having spent two and half episodes of Yes Prime Minister in the dentist's chair today, and the background sound of the Blues getting thumped as I type. They have obviously thrown the game so as to make Game 3 a spectacle. Oh shit, Maroons in again.

The concentrated dose of YPM - spoiled only by my having to keeep my yap wide open for the whole time - only served to reinforce what a brilliant show it was and how closely related to real life (accepting of course that bureaucracy and politics is real life). Ep 1 was about the speech at the National Arts Council when the annual budget was only being increased a little. Sir Humphrey lunches with the head of the Council and feeds him all the inside goss for his speech, which he can use to embarrass Hacker. Ep 2 was the proposal to abolish the Education Department. Lots of references to how badly children are now taught ( remembering this was 20 years ago) bore a startling relationship to
contemporary culture wars.

Oh shit, Maroons in again, in the time it took to type that last para.

Today the online commentariat is all over the concentrated offensive that the government and its hired henchpersons (see yesterday's post) carried out on Beazley. Including some
analysis of how opinion is now reproduced as news. Like this. Interesting also in view of Crikey's analysis today of the proposed changes to cross-media ownership, combined with current cost-cutting at the same media outlets which will all add up to less choice and much less 'quality' reporting.

I see the PM and his
chief door bitch aren't happy with the Senate Committee's findings on the proposed legislation to make Australia disappear as a legitimate place where refugees can land. Where will we go, I wonder? And not for the first time - can we make the country disappear as somewhere we have to pay tax?

And on that note I direct those of you who may be interested to
Catallaxy, where your libertarian proclivities can be tested.

Hmm, that was more than I was expecting. The wonders of aspirin. And I was wondering about the song title for the post - just grabbed one at random from Guitartabs - but I must look for a suitable topic for which I can use
Master of Puppets.

13 June 2006

things we said today

The Beazlebomb has taken a punt on taking the fight up to the government on IR. I fall into the camp who says "damn good thing." It is a risky strategy and it didn't take long for the government and its hired henchmen to run all the usual "caving in to the unions" and "return to the past" lines. But better to die on your feet than to live on your knees and I reckon that, on balance, this is as good an issue to run with, and differentiate Labor from the Coalition, as any. Certainly better than foreign affairs/defence or "the economy", whatever one means by that from minute to minute.

Guantanamo - I was as appalled as most by the "asymmetric warfare" and "good PR stunt" comments that oozed from the US Administration. I read a letter to the editor somewhere querying that the three suicides were simultaneous, calling into question whether they were actually individual acts of desperation that were just well timed. Possibly a good point but public opinion is very slowly changing on the US Administration's line on this and moreso, I hope, on David Hicks. I thought David Hicks' father was very measured on TV last night when one can imagine his heart must be breaking. The different stories from the Australian Government and Hicks' lawyer about his health must surely bring his treatment into question. I wouldn't be surprised if the Government would like to get him out and bring him home, but feels it can't back down because of its utterly callous treatment of him (including publicly announcing his guilt before any trial, however lacking, took place) and is painted into a corner. In which case, if true, that treatment is all the more reprehensible as it would confirm a belief that Hicks is a political prisoner of his own government.

Most commentators are still trying to get their heads around the likelihood of governments running budget deficits as the infrastructure 'crisis' bites deeper. Only a few months ago the comments were all about the need to redress the 'crisis' and damn the torpedoes, ie get the money from wherever and, of course, governments should run responsible levels of debt over the business cycle and can borrow more cheaply than business. Maybe if these well-educated types had foreseen this coming 20 years ago - as 'economic rationalism' took hold and the short term drove out the long term, and governments were meant to withdraw from all but securing property rights and the defence of the realm - we wouldn't be in the current situation. Surely economics was an advanced enough 'science' at that time - it was advanced enough for Milton Friedman to be worshipped as having provided the answer for all time. Yeah, well, slight hyperbole on my part but I'm just banging this out and it sounds good in my head, eh?

Same with water - any sensible planning would have catered for future demand and we - here in very drought-y SEQ - wouldn't be in our current pickle. But further to that, there is rarely a single answer to any problem and so, we should be reducing demand as well as boosting supply. And meanwhile having a discussion about population growth (I have to go the Canberras Times online to get regular doses of
Jenny Goldie nowadays) and, further to that....the nature of economic growth as our defining policy objective.

Too big for now, one for another day.

09 June 2006


When it comes, they run and hide their heads - that's what the song says. I suspect that here in Brisbane we'll be all out dancing in the streets. Especially if it lasts more than a few hours.

I ran across a former colleague during the week and it reminded me of an occasion where he and I went to meeting of coal mining representatives. He had been working on general energy policy issues and, in a quieter moment, injected the word 'nuclear' into the conversation. Regrettably he was inexperienced in the nuances and politics of how you actually influence a debate and his intervention came out as - and was interpreted as - a direct forecast that Australia would one day be using nuclear-fuelled power generation, and therefore a threat to the investments of all those in the room. Needless to say he was shut down in fairly peremptory fashion. Had he handled it a bit more sensitively, it could have been a useful contribution. He now interprets it as "being ahead of his time" and in a sense he was - but it made no difference at the time, apart from raising more than a few eyebrows about why we were fiddling about with the possibility of nuclear power generation.

Most of the commentariat, MSM, amateur and bloggish, are down on the nuclear inquiry as a predetermined outcome in search of some jobs for the boys. I found it interesting that Greg Bourne turned down an (apparently) very short notice invitation to participate. He is the
pin-up boy for environmental awareness in big industry and I hope that a few MSM outlets pick up on his decision and get a bit of detail from him. I think that it would - rightly -reflect poorly on the government and its handling of the issue. I don't know what sort of following Mr Bourne has in industry but if he is a force, his decision not to play along with the inquiry may prove useful.

It's been a biggish day in many ways so while I'd like to ruminate for a while, I think I'll watch the footy instead. Something I've been thinking about recently is how some projects get political backing while some others, which be as much if not more worthwhile, just linger and die. It goes to how the bureaucracy, or rather how all big organisations, go about their work as well as the nature of representative bureaucracy and where the decisions get made. I think I'll need to spend some time getting my thoughts in order before I post. It's probably time for another model car post but in the meantime Christmas came early to me this week -
this beauty (the one on the far right***) is almost exactly the same as one I owned some years ago but which suffered a terminal accident. I was having an e-mail conversation with an old friend about guitars and I reminisced about this one. On a whim I thought I'd look in eBay and guess what I found? And now I got one again! I love it.

***That was unfortunate, wasn't it?

06 June 2006

think about me

Vale Vince Welnick. I was/am still an enormous Tubes fan. Once had Completion Backward Principle on LP, tape and CD. Inexplicably. Any band that can write a song like Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman, about the 3 Mile Island reactor meltdown, is pure genius in my book. In fact, given his recent enthusiasm for all things nuclear, I should send that song to John Howard. What do you reckon, on tape? You reckon John's a cassette kind of bloke?


As the 7.30 Report comes on and the familiar, negative and wholly puke-making visage of the PM appears as he is about to lie, obfuscate and slide around any questions relating to nuclear power, climate change and/or the (non) sale of the Snowy, I hit the mute button. Actually, I change channels. I know I should stay informed, I know about 'know thy enemy' and so on, but I just can't stand it.

Actually, I doubt the Rodent knows that I am his enemy so Sun Tzu probably doesn't count.

Is the electorate slowly waking up? That you can't keep on selling capital assets to fund recurrent expenditure? That the massive costs involved in infratsructure mean that governments will need to go into debt? And that governments can borrow more cheaply than private organisations? That if you keep on screwing those at the bottom of the economic tree, eventually they will rebel?

The optimistic among us will think so and maybe, just maybe, the pendulum will begin to swing. The longer it takes the greater the cost, of course. Some 'informed' commentary might start to recognise the sense in moderate levels of government debt to fund new infrastructure, but the headlines will still scream about red ink and so on. And of course, there is always
this. Very informed. "Reputable think-tank". Yeah - if reputable means predictable. Same-same as the Australia Institute - you get what you pay for.

It's in fact hard to find genuinely impartial opinion and analysis. I guess the various places I inhabit on line and in print don't provide it. That said, I have no more time for organisations or individuals whose slant I might agree with if there's not a lot of analysis underpinning it. Like here, I suppose (squirms).

Look, this is just the usual namby-pamby stuff you get a v v b, I just wanted to get it down and maybe at some stage when I've got more time I'll do something a bit...deeper. Hope springs eternal.

04 June 2006

happenings ten years time ago

Dunno where the weekend has gone. Spent most of yesterday driving around looking for bits for offspring no 2's new car. All these buggers who've moved to Brisbane in the last 9 (Note: not 10) years. Getting in my way. Lucky the new car's a turbo and gets around in quite a sprightly fashion. Couple of visits to the hospital to see the old man. Not good. Then today I hired a chainsaw to help render into firewood that which I could not do so with an axe. Here's an observation for you: pressing computer keys all week is not good training for using a chainsaw. I was knackered after about an hour, but I got to most of the wood that had proven axe-resistant. In fact I quite like chopping wood, but only when it's going well. There's nothing worse than a knotty bit where the axe just bounces off, but when it splits nicely it's almost as good as sex. Note I said 'almost'. This also applies to hitting a really good 3 wood. 'Almost'. Anyway now I ache from one end to the other and tomorrow will be worse. Must exercise more.

I caught about 30 seconds of Julie Bishop on TV this morning, giving Laurie Oakes part of the truth about the impending nuclear 'debate' by (in part) arguing that circumstances have changed since the secret 1997 Cabinet report on possible locations for reactors. Research reactors that is, not for power generation. As if. The only circumstance that has changed is the PM's conversion - in effect, if not in so many words - about global warming and the need to be seen to be doing something about it. I must say though that Bishop is a polished performer with a big future. She can tell part of the story (note: not 'lie') with a straight face and a clear eye, as distinct from her leader's sideways glances, circumlocution and dismissive air. God help us if she ever becomes PM.

Isn't it a shame that even when the government says it will do something that actually makes sense - in this case, sponsoring a debate - the automatic response is to not take it at its word. Quite dreadful. Taken us 10 years (note: not 9) to get to this stage. Well, not me, I got to this stage a while ago...

02 June 2006

workin for the weekend

A week is certainly a long time in politics. I can't prognosticate on the fallout from the aborted Liberal-National merger in Qld. There will be harsh words in private no doubt but whether anyone gets the chop...who knows? The early election mail, which has been about for a while, has regained vigour and the relatively good reception of the Blueprint for the Bush initiative is no doubt a factor - Beattie made noises about Labor's affinity for the bush earlier this week and now you've got QFF and Agforce publicly supporting the program (only the Qld Council of Social Services was peeved that they didn't get more money to visit their rural clients). Watch this space, as they say.

The kyboshing of the Snowy sale is also fascinating. Like I said earlier this week, I thought the instant agreement to privatise, with no debate in any of the three parliaments, to be a low act. Once Alan Jones came out against and talkback radio was overwhelmingly against, no doubt the Rodent sniffed a problem. Heffernan against was extremely interesting, I thought and I imagine his counsel is something the Rodent listens to. I was also struck that the comments on some 'right-of-centre' blogs also took the debate up against the prevailing wisdom.

The political plus was that Howard could claim to be responsive to public opinion (let's just forget for a while that this is not his usual modus operandi, but no matter...) and it puts Iemma - moreso than Bracks - in an enormous (dam-sized) hole. I read somewhere that Minchin thought the decision (to not sell) a good decision. Spare me.

Some commentary I've read tonight suggests that, except for T3, privatisation as a policy preference is now off the agenda for the foreseeable future. My feeling, informed by nothing more than my own prejudices, is that too few people are seeing the benefits of privatisation and that those who benefitted from some of the earlier ones (eg Com Bank) are a dispersed voice (eg my old man did well out of that one and indeed T1 (for a while), but he's no longer a voice). Also - I wonder whether the threat of decreased wages under the IR laws might have had an effect? Who would have understood the value in the float? And punted a few bucks (why, those who could afford to, of course - and who might they be)? Oooh, naked envy - get it here while it lasts, folks.

And finally, just on IR, this from Peter Hartcher in the SMH today: "
Of course, the argument that he had to create conditions to allow falling wages to create more jobs is extremely dubious."
Of course it was. It was about neutering the union movement and deeply entrenching the dominance of capital over labour, to roll back several decades of increasing equality and get people frightened and compliant again. Australia, you're living in it. Have a lovely weekend, folks.

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