Pest control

Mark's picture

It’s being reported that a species of aquarium fish may be swimming feral around Newcastle, and may thus be the latest pernicious weed species inflicted by man on Australian ecosystems.

When will we learn? Never, judging by this article, to wit:

The department’s acting manager of aquatic biosecurity, Bill Bardsley, said that if the fish had spread to the dam it might be too late to control its numbers.

“This does highlight the need for ongoing public education, which we already do a considerable amount of,” he said.

“If you have a fish and you want to get rid of it, the right thing to do is to dispose of it humanely or give it to a fish shop or pass it on to a friend because you never know the damage they could do if released.”

Sure, but if you let people have these fish at home, sooner or later they’re going to get into the wild, because no amount of education will ensure that no one ever releases one. Just as we in Australia are not afflicted of the American madness of letting people have automatic firearms on the understanding that they don’t misuse them, similarly we shouldn’t be letting people be keeping potentially devastating species as domestic pets. I fail to see that people have a fundamental right to keep exotic fish.

Requiem for a good hat

Liam's picture

This is your correspondent, in a paddock somewhere,* no doubt up to nefarious nefariety, perhaps organising a foco insurgency or maybe a revolutionary reconnaissance, but certainly up to no good. Note the presence of a suspicious superfluence above the eyebrows: yes indeed, a beret.

Liam Hat

It’s my unpleasant duty to you all, my comrades, to report to you the loss in action of the hat you see there on my head. It fell in active duty—keeping me warm on a bus ride home from my disagreeable duty to capitalism that the ruling classes term “work”—and in the act of gathering my possessions, when I left the vehicle, the beret without me was carried heroically into martyrdom past my stop and onwards to paradise/terminus.

Technically speaking, I made a disembarking maneoevre without fully engaging my headgear. As I write, I’m mourning the loss of a good friend, a warming companion of the upper scone, a good solid felt friend, and let’s be honest, an identifying feature for an unremarkable man.

Goodbye, hat.

The authorities have yet to determine the whereabouts of my beret in the optimistically named Lost And Found Department.

*South Australia, 2007. I had the map and the binoculars, I knew exactly where I was.

The Arrogance of Incumbency

Mark's picture

I’m struck by how much the NSW state Labor government resemble not the new federal Labor government but the old Howard regime. The arrogance of incumbency, populist social conservatism and neoliberal fundamentalism all remind me of that old administration. The particular thing that puts me in mind of the Howard government though is their new use of public funds for a political advertising campaign, which itself is a beat-up. Howard was the master of this, and action has rightly been promised at a federal level to stop it happening in the future.

The advertising campaign I’m referring to is one hyping the state government’s new plans to put in a metro link to the North-West from Sydney CBD. The fact of the matter is that not one thing has yet been done to actually build this link, that the Labor state government has a long history of announcing public infrastructure projects and then shelving them, and that it in fact shelved a more comprehensive plan to build a new full-scale CityRail link in favour of this plan.

Announcing and advertising infrastructure is a lot easier than building it. Fortunately, I don’t believe (as a materialist) that it can have anything like the same effect.

Clearly, the Iemma government is reviled in NSW. People in this state are well aware of the slippage of their quality of life in recent years, and the crucial link of this slippage to the lack of government action on metropolitan transport. Which is to say that, outrageous though it is, I think this campaign will be about as electorally successful as Howard’s WorkChoices advertising spree.

Earth Hour 2: Insignificance Doubled

Mark's picture

“Please take a bow, Sydney
Last night Mother Earth hosted a candlelight supper for a few million close friends.”

coos the unbelievably smug

To begin something of a tradition, I would like to call readers’ attention to this before-and-after ‘Earth Hour’ shot released by the originator of ‘Earth Hour’, the Sydney Morning Turd Herald:

While the campaign has clearly been 100% successful in getting large public buildings to dim their ultimately pointless floodlighting, it does not seem to have been able to persuade them to dim any of their other lighting, and it does not seem to have persuaded any of the North Shore Harbourside dwellers who really ought to be Earth Hour’s bread and butter (the idea was dreamt up over a Mosman back fence, after all). Indeed, the lack of interest in Earth Hour this year was crushing compared to last year when, as I argued then, hardly anyone observed it anyway.

Earth Hour is a media fiction from start to finish, although kudos to the SMH this year for not photoshopping the evidence as it did last time. Its only really enthusiastic backer seems to be the NSW state government, which is surely the worst endorsement imaginable, given that under Morris Iemma the state government as embarked on a course of environmental assault worthy of Cyril Sneer.

Update: the Harold is now trumpeting a 5% national reduction in power consumption as the net gain from ‘Earth Hour’.

Paul Bird from the National Electricity Market Management Company told ABC Radio the impact of last night’s Earth Hour event was the equivalent of two large power stations (or 1000 mega-watts) being temporarily shut down.

This may be so, but since two large power stations were not actually temporarily shut down, there wasn’t actually any decrease in carbon dioxide output, was there? Indeed, as Andrew Leigh points out (thanks to Emmeline in the comments to this post for pointing that out), the carbon dioxide output of the insipid candles purchased for the occasion means that ‘Earth Hour’ actually increases CO2 output.

Glen Milne: Rubbish Journalist

alex white's picture

Glen Milne writes in the Sunday Telegraph:

Within Opposition ranks it has firmed the opinion that Rudd is intent on going to an election at the end of next year.

The evidence, apart from Gartrell’s enthusiasm for getting on with the job, is compelling. First, there’s history: every initially victorious Prime Minister in the modern era from Hawke (subsequent election 1984) and Howard (1998) sought to cement their incumbency by going to the polls within two years.

Second, economic uncertainty. Given the external pressures of the rolling subprime crisis, who knows what will happen electorally or economically? For Gartrell and Rudd, and Labor generally, the message has to be, while you’re ahead, go now.

Third, there’s WorkChoices. The obvious potency of this issue at the last election says go early while the electorate’s hurt and resentment towards the Coalition is still red raw.

Fourth: Opposition leadership. The dynamics of the Liberals’ internal leadership tensions are likely to be at their fruit-bearing peak at the end of 2009.

To get to the bottom of all this, I could call Julie Collins and ask what Tim Gartrell said last Monday. But I haven’t bothered.

Amazing - Glen Milne could have inquired with Labor about the committee meeting - you know, to get his facts straight, or at least do that “getting both sides of the story” thing that journalists are supposed to do. But he didn’t bother.

He also wrote in a separate article:

THE powerful Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) is poised to flex its industrial muscle after a successful meeting with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd at The Lodge in Canberra on Australia Day.

A leaked union strategy document marked “confidential” reveals the MUA believes it has “strong support” from Mr Rudd and plans to push for new industrial relations arrangements that will drive up inflation.

The union wants a return to “pattern bargaining”, a technique to negotiate increased wages and conditions. However, opponents of pattern bargaining say it would also increase inflation and interest rates.

Amazing. Glen passed off as fact that the MUA’s industrial relations arrangements will drive up inflation, but we find out in the next paragraph that opponents of the MUA’s industrial policies are the ones that believe that. What happened to the neutral point of view that journalists were supposed to have?

Oh… that’s right. We’re talking about Glen Milne.

we is in ur streetz

Mark's picture

This is really a perfect time for the Tibetan nationalists to come out in open rebellion, because the Olympics means that the Chinese state either will not be able to crack down as brutally as it has in the past, or, if it does, that unprecendented attention will come to bear. If a Yangoon-style crackdown is forthcoming in Lhasa, liberal/democratic governments will have no choice but to boycott the Olympics (I would have thought). This would set a very interesting precedent. The Western boycott of the Moscow Olympics by the West was on the basis of the alleged Soviet invasion of Afghanistan not the domestic human rights situation, and the retaliatory boycott of the LA Olympics by the Eastern Bloc was on the basis that the US was not a safe place for communist athletes. This would then be the first human rights boycott at the Olympics.

For Chinese dissidents at this juncture, there is an unprecedented possiblity of getting away with the kind of action that might otherwise be met simply with deadly force, and in the case that it is met with such force, would have multiplied effects to what it otherwise would, forcing Western countries to take a concrete stance on the issue, embarassing the Chinese government and getting Western governments reluctantly involved in Chinese domestic issues. Such an involvement would set an uncomfortable precedent for Western government of concern for human rights and for the treatment of oppressed nations, the latter being particularly important because of the existence of national minorities within Western state borders whose national aspirations are circumscribed.

CEO remuneration "a response to market demands"??

adam's picture

Greig Gailey, president of the Business Council of Australia this morning on the ABC’s AM:

PETER RYAN: What about executives in the corporate world, especially those on multi-million dollar packages at the big end of town that you represent. Do they also need to show restraint and consider taking a pay freeze?

GREIG GAILEY: Well that’s a separate issue and I’m not going to take a position on that. But what we’re seeing there is, I guess, a response to market demands which is about shortages in the economy.

Is he seriously arguing that when the average CEO salary of a top 100 Australian company is four million dollars, that’s a simple case of supply and demand? No matter how good they are, I’m quite sure no CEO is worth anywhere near some of the ridiculous salaries they are paid. If this is the result of the market setting the prices, sounds like a case of market failure to me.

Gay sex causes earthquakes

jason's picture

I was wrong - it isn’t generations of conflict that kills thousands of innocent Jews, Muslims, Christians and athiests that pisses God off and makes him want to get Old Testament on us - it the hot gay sex of the inhabitants of Judea and Samaria.

AN Israeli parliamentarian says several earthquakes felt in Israel recently were a consequence of gays and the parliament’s acceptance of them.

Let’s ignore the natural movement of the tetonic plates, it’s actually the repetitive thrusting of a penis into a male anus that is the true hypocentre of the earthquake, sending seismic waves of sinful pleasure through the participants and, presumably, into the environment around them.

Shocking stuff.

Shlomo Benizri, of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish Shas Party, said the way to stop the tremors was for parliament to reverse its trend of liberalising laws concerning homosexuals.

“Why do earthquakes happen? One of the reasons is the things to which the Knesset (parliament) gives legitimacy, to sodomy,” Mr Benizri said during a parliamentary debate on earthquake preparedness.

The root cause of earthquakes in the region, so to speak, is obviously the cruising of the african and arabian plates past each other. Yet another damning argument against gay cruising.

…and Alan Jones.
Alan Jones

The Economic Challenges Facing a Rudd Labour Government - musings on the Fabian Society forum

emmeline's picture

The saying goes “ask five economists a question and you’ll get five different answers – six if one went to Harvard”. At Wednesday night’s Fabian Society forum, three interesting economists managed to produce a lot more than three answers to the question: “what are the key economic challenges facing a Rudd Labour government”. The general conclusion was: it’s going to be tough. The recurring theme was the upward trend in inflation, and the consequent need for fiscal restraint, tempered with concerns about the impact of a sharp downturn in the US economy, and the level of indebtedness in the Australian economy.

ANZ’s Chief Economist Saul Eslake identified inflation as the key short-term challenge, which is likely to see interest rates rise further, and require fiscal restraint by the Rudd government. He argued (as in a previous interesting speech) that settings of fiscal policy have in the past been too loose, and that revenue windfalls associated with the resource boom should have been spent more on enhancing the productive capacity of the economy rather than on cuts in income tax. (This presentation was also the most broad ranging of the three, also touching on longer term economic challenges including global warming and the ageing population.)

A similar line was taken by HSBC’s Chief Economist John Edwards, who noted that the Rudd Government has been elected in much less favourable economic circumstances than previous governments. The Hawke government took office at the trough of the 1980s recession, with economic conditions gradually improving though its first term. The Howard government’s first term was characterised by the emergence of the Australian economy from a mid-cycle lull. Edwards argued that the Rudd government, in contrast, faces significant short-term economic challenges: an overheating domestic economy, which will require contractionary monetary and fiscal policy, despite the possibility of a significant downturn in the US economy.

In contrast, Associate Professor Steve Keen of the University of Western Sydney focussed on the high and rising levels of household debt in the Australian economy, suggesting that – as in the US economy – a serious and protracted debt-induced recession may be on the horizon. In that context, he argued that higher inflation may in fact aid households, by reducing the real value of their debt. This was subject to some subtle criticism from Saul Eslake, who noted in discussion following the presentations that rising debt is also a consequence of the development of financial systems, and that it was not clear cut to argue that the level of debt per se is a problem, but rather the capacity of households to service that debt.