RSS

Category Archives: Malcolm Turnbull

Some ETS YouTubes

Like most of us I do find this challenging. See if these help.

The last two are critical of the idea.

However, to anticipate the second promised post here, it does seem that while energy efficiency and alternative energies offer the best hopes for mitigating emissions, the best approach — and the most economically viable — is a combination of several approaches with putting some kind of cost or value on emissions being critical to the success of these other approaches.

There are some good articles in today’s Sydney Morning Herald. First, I find $50b bill for Abbott carbon plan very believable, even if the denials are no doubt winging through cyberspace and the media as I write**. (No doubt appropriate economic modelling will be trotted out on both sides in due course, even by those most prone to be sceptical about climate modelling.)

Second, Ross Gittins has nailed it again.

It’s strange to reject ”a big new tax” in favour of an approach that would need a huge increase in spending on subsidies and incentives.

TONY Abbott’s stated intention to have ”a strong and effective climate change policy” that doesn’t involve either an emissions trading scheme or a carbon tax is rife with internal contradictions.

For a start, it’s strange for a party of the right to reject the pro-market solution to climate change in favour of a much more intrusive, regulatory approach.

For another thing, it’s strange to reject ”a big new tax” in favour of an approach that, if it were to work, would require a huge increase in government spending on subsidies and incentives. If such an approach wasn’t to involve huge deficits and debt, or cuts in other government spending, it would require huge increases in ”old” taxes…

Third and fourth: In search of the Magic Carbon Pudding (4 December) by finance writer Michael Pascoe and University tackles sceptics’ arguments.

Update 1 pm

** Yep: Abbott downplays $50b climate change bill.

But hang on! Look at Malcolm Turnbull’s blog!

So as I am a humble backbencher I am sure he won’t complain if I tell a few home truths about the farce that the Coalition’s policy, or lack of policy, on climate change has descended into.

First, let’s get this straight. You cannot cut emissions without a cost. To replace dirty coal fired power stations with cleaner gas fired ones, or renewables like wind let alone nuclear power or even coal fired power with carbon capture and storage is all going to cost money.

To get farmers to change the way they manage their land, or plant trees and vegetation all costs money.

Somebody has to pay.

So any suggestion that you can dramatically cut emissions without any cost is, to use a favourite term of Mr Abbott, "bullshit." Moreover he knows it.

The whole argument for an emissions trading scheme as opposed to cutting emissions via a carbon tax or simply by regulation is that it is cheaper – in other words, electricity prices will rise by less to achieve the same level of emission reductions.

The term you will see used for this is "least cost abatement".

It is not possible to criticise the new Coalition policy on climate change because it does not exist. Mr Abbott apparently knows what he is against, but not what he is for….

And that’s just his first point.

 

Tags:

I suspect Malcolm Turnbull would lose at poker…

He does seem just lately to have shown the cards in his hand rather too much… Perhaps he secretly wants to make way for Joe Hockey rather than see Abbott succeed him? Who knows?

AFTER a weekend of extreme pressure to challenge for the leadership of the Liberal Party, Joe Hockey last night succumbed and is expected to challenge Malcolm Turnbull tomorrow as a poll shows he is more liked than the Opposition Leader.

Two-thirds of voters also want Australia to have an emissions trading scheme.

As an ailing Mr Turnbull accused lead climate change rebel Nick Minchin of wanting to destroy the Liberal Party, the latest Herald/Nielsen poll finds Mr Hockey is preferred by 36 per cent of voters as the Liberal leader. Mr Turnbull has the backing of 32 per cent and Tony Abbott has 20 per cent.

Support for Mr Turnbull has nosedived among Coalition voters but has leapt among Labor voters.

If Mr Hockey baulks, Mr Abbott will challenge. But the poll finds little enthusiasm for Mr Abbott. In a direct match-up, 51 per cent of voters prefer Mr Turnbull and 37 per cent prefer Mr Abbott.

The poll of 1200 voters was conducted on Friday and Saturday, as the Liberal Party meltdown over climate change peaked with mass defections from the frontbench and a defiant Mr Turnbull refusing to step aside…

Sydney Morning Herald

RUDD-table-420x0

Paul Sheehan is interesting today. See also Newspoll: 57-43; Nielsen: 56-44 on The Poll Bludger.

Update 7.45 pm

I dips me lid to Ian MacFarlane. Very impressive on the 7.30 Report tonight*. And should (as everyone expects) Turnbull get done over, may Joe Hockey get up and may the rumour he will allow a free vote on the ETS be true!

… KERRY O’BRIEN: How do you feel about the possibility, if there are three contenders after a spill motion gets up tomorrow – Malcolm Turnbull, Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott – the possibility, the humiliating possibility for Malcolm Turnbull that he comes third in that ballot?
IAN MACFARLANE: Oh, look, I’m not commenting on the numbers, Kerry. I mean, Malcolm will make a good fist of a ballot tomorrow. Whether or not he can win it in a three-way contest is what we’ll find out tomorrow.
KERRY O’BRIEN: Are you saying in blunt terms that Joe Hockey cannot afford to take the leadership if it means delaying the deal?
IAN MACFARLANE: Well, you can’t walk away from climate change, Kerry. The party room has acknowledged that. Everyone in the Liberal Party accepts that we would have done a better deal if we were in government. A Liberal Party without a climate change policy is not a party that’s in touch with the community at the moment. Joe knows that; Malcolm’s known that for some time. I guess at the moment what people are trying to do is come to terms with how they deal with that in the context of a potential leadership change.
KERRY O’BRIEN: Did you expect the strength of backlash from grassroots Liberals that appears to have emerged in the last week? Do you accept that the whole of that backlash is spontaneous and not orchestrated?
IAN MACFARLANE: Well, some of it is orchestrated, there’s no doubt about that. But, I mean, in the end, we’re put in Parliament to represent the people of Australia, and the people of Australia is broader than the Liberal Party base….

* On Twitter: Bernard Keane “Unbelievable to hear Ian Macfarlane say ‘you can’t walk away from climate change.’. Amazing change from five years ago.” And great to see, as he has obviously had a more open mind than most of the trogs.

 

Random but mostly political

1. A feast for pollie-watchers and pundits

Just look at The Australian today.

Libs facing election rout

David Uren THE Coalition faces an electoral wipeout at next year’s federal election if the rebels led by Tony Abbott and Nick Minchin succeed in blocking the government’s climate change legislation.

The lead story’s interesting, and so is Paul Kelly. I suspect Joe Hockey is privately fuming.

2. Borrowed from Jim Belshaw

Like Jim, I won’t comment!

I simply report this gem from the Australian Citizens Electoral Council without comment.

Isherwood: Who would have thought? British genocidalists are liars too

The British oligarchy’s depopulation charity, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), established in 1961 by Prince Philip and “former” Nazi Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands to realise their wet dream of reducing the world’s population to two billion or so people, is a key paymaster of the lying scientists at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU).

The CRU basically cooked up the whole global warming fraud: in another time, before hackers exposed their true nature last week, Britain’s former chief scientific adviser Sir David King happily gushed that the CRU “set the agenda for the major research effort” in climate change; its “scientists” are the leading authors of the IPCC reports cited as the bible on global warming.

Well, well.

3. Why Steve Fielding is a much nicer person than Nick Minchin

Senator Fielding (Family First) has copped much flack for his denial of anthropogenic climate change, but at least he is up front about it, even trotting out his charts to try to convince the green demonstrators outside Parliament the other day. Of course, as we all know, Fielding isn’t really a politician. Minchin is.

So now Minchin is a double denialist because 1) he denies that what he is doing goes way beyond the issue of the ETS and 2) he attempts to deny he is a denialist. On both counts he is being economical with the truth. On point 2 he has been on record for years and one wonders why – well, not really – he is figleafing himself today. Of Minchin climate scientist Graeme Pearman famously said in March 2007: "I am worried that a federal minister would believe this crap."

4. And Malcolm Turnbull is much nicer than Nick Minchin…

While not totally frank Malcolm Turnbull was considerably more accurate than Senator Minchin in his half of the back-to-back interviews on the 7.30 Report last night. On just one obvious point, as Paul Kelly says: “The conservative rebellion this week has been a stunning, ruthless and self-righteous exercise. It was about converting a minority into a majority position by sabotage. Don’t fall for the idea that Turnbull didn’t have majority support.”

5. Science marches on whatever the pollies do or say

For example:

The first-ever Australian benchmark of climate change impacts on marine ecosystems and options for adaptation is being released in Brisbane today.

27 November 2009

The Marine Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Report Card for Australia, and an accompanying website, will provide a biennial guide for scientists, government and the community on observed and projected impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems.

"The objective of compiling this information is to consider options available to environmental and resource managers in their response to changes in ecosystem balance," says project leader, CSIRO Climate Adaptation Flagship scientist Dr Elvira Poloczanska.

"On both sides of the continent there is clear evidence of ocean warming and this is already bringing sub-tropical species south into temperate waters, and in the case of the giant kelp forests in Tasmania, appears to be having a severe impact in just a few years.

"This research is relevant for anyone with a recreational interest or financial investment in our coasts and oceans," Dr Poloczanska says.

climate big 6. If you want to read a book

Try Robert Henson, The Rough Guide to Climate Change 2 ed.

I like it because I can understand it, but also because it is less polemical than many in the field. He admits problems and complexities.

 

Homework done

I said yesterday that I thought Malcolm Turnbull’s defiant press conference speech last night is one of his best. Here is what he said.

I appreciated his allusion to that well-known leftist plotter against capitalism Margaret Thatcher. Here (I quote from my entry of 2007 Miranda asks a question or two on climate change) is an example of her subversion in 1990:

…the threat to our world comes not only from tyrants and their tanks. It can be more insidious though less visible. The danger of global warming is as yet unseen, but real enough for us to make changes and sacrifices, so that we do not live at the expense of future generations.

Our ability to come together to stop or limit damage to the world’s environment will be perhaps the greatest test of how far we can act as a world community. No-one should under-estimate the imagination that will be required, nor the scientific effort, nor the unprecedented co-operation we shall have to show. We shall need statesmanship of a rare order…

In recent years, we have been playing with the conditions of the life we know on the surface of our planet. We have cared too little for our seas, our forests and our land. We have treated the air and the oceans like a dustbin. We have come to realise that man’s activities and numbers threaten to upset the biological balance which we have taken for granted and on which human life depends.

We must remember our duty to Nature before it is too late. That duty is constant. It is never completed. It lives on as we breathe. It endures as we eat and sleep, work and rest, as we are born and as we pass away. The duty to Nature will remain long after our own endeavours have brought peace to the Middle East. It will weigh on our shoulders for as long as we wish to dwell on a living and thriving planet, and hand it on to our children and theirs.

I want to pay tribute to the important work which the United Nations has done to advance our understanding of climate change, and in particular the risks of global warming. Dr. Tolba and Professor Obasi deserve our particular thanks for their far-sighted initiative in establishing the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The IPCC report is a remarkable achievement. It is almost as difficult to get a large number of distinguished scientists to agree, as it is to get agreement from a group of politicians. As a scientist who became a politician, I am perhaps particularly qualified to make that observation! I know both worlds.

Of course, much more research is needed. We don’t yet know all the answers…

But the need for more research should not be an excuse for delaying much needed action now. There is already a clear case for precautionary action at an international level. The IPCC tells us that we can’t repair the effects of past behaviour on our atmosphere as quickly and as easily as we might cleanse a stream or river. It will take, for example, until the second half of the next century, until the old age of my grandson, to repair the damage to the ozone layer above the Antarctic. And some of the gases we are adding to the global heat trap will endure in the Earth’s atmosphere for just as long.

The IPCC tells us that, on present trends, the earth will warm up faster than at any time since the last ice age. Weather patterns could change so that what is now wet would become dry, and what is now dry would become wet. Rising seas could threaten the livelihood of that substantial part of the world’s population which lives on or near coasts. The character and behaviour of plants would change, some for the better, some for worse. Some species of animals and plants would migrate to different zones or disappear for ever. Forests would die or move. And deserts would advance as green fields retreated.

Many of the precautionary actions that we need to take would be sensible in any event…

On recent claims of dishonesty in the IPCC I commend on one side Miranda Devine and on the other George Monbiot. The links are in yesterday’s entry. Monbiot answers the charge effectively. **

You should also note that I can sympathise at least with Greg Sheridan’s dilemma (see yesterday’s entry) when he says: “I do not know whether the science that says we’re all doomed if we don’t de-carbonise the economy is true. Neither does anyone else.” Sympathise but not entirely agree, as I do think the odds are that the IPCC is more than likely right. Yes, we are talking about something which by definition cannot certain until after it has happened, and I probably won’t be around to see it. But Margaret Thatcher’s last line makes as much sense now as it did in 1990 when a great deal less was known on the subject.

I don’t think the government has done a good enough job of explaining the issues at stake, or what their ETS is actually meant to achieve. That is a shame. (New Zealand passed its own ETS the day before yesterday. Did anyone notice?) On the other hand there is much clear material on the Department of Climate Change website.

My opinions aren’t worth a lot. Lord May of Oxford is much better informed.

And he is a Sydney High Old Boy… 🙂

** And a SBHS ex-teacher (Geography) and friend is even more persuasive! See Thoughts on Climate Change after the CRU Hacking.

…Troubled as I am by the academic jealousy I’m far more troubled by the timing of this breach of the CRU and by the character of the political beings who’ve been so vocal about it. So it was with some interest that I encountered this fascinating article The SwiftHack (ClimateGate) Scandal: What You Need to Know. The article makes the following points:

* The scientific consensus on climate change remains strong.
* The impacts of catastrophic climate change continue to rear their ugly head.
* Hacking into private computer files is illegal.
* All of the emails were taken out of context.
* The story is being pushed by far-right conspiracy theorists.
* Scientists are human beings and they talk frankly amongst themselves.

Clearly this hack of a research organisation is an interestingly timed diversion….

 

Homework ;)

In preparation for a post tomorrow – or maybe Saturday? – I am reading:

  • ABC News Climate Change special coverage
  • UNSW Climate Change Research Centre
  • The Copenhagen Diagnosis
  • Greg Sheridan in The Australian.

      Watching the debate, I am afraid I have become a climate change agnostic. I am not a denier, nor really a sceptic. I am agnostic. I do not know whether the science that says we’re all doomed if we don’t de-carbonise the economy is true. Neither does anyone else.

      But I am more than half convinced by the argument that we should give the planet the benefit of the doubt. It would be good if we polluted less. I’d like to end the dependence of Western societies on Middle Eastern oil. And one day, even if climate change is not a killer, the world will run out of fossil fuel. So by all means let’s diversify our energy sources and clean up our environments. But I don’t want us to go broke in the process.

  • Miranda Devine the predictable.
  • George Monbiot on the same issue as Miranda Devine.

And on another matter, don’t forget Making Samson and Delilah at 9.35 on ABC tonight. You may also watch it on that link.

Update 7.15 pm

Wow! And again, Wow!

I don’t think I have ever heard Malcolm Turnbull speak better than he just did at that press conference. Who knows what will happen? I just know those I like least in the Liberal Party are those who have chosen to walk. Yon Minchin has a lean and hungry look. Abbott is an honourable man; so are they all, honourable men! And Casca Bloody Tuckey – well, there’s someone who should have gone long ago…

Perhaps a better than one might hope long-term outcome will be the rise of young Master Hockey. Despite his association under Howard with the loathsome workplace “reforms” he does have some human and intellectual qualities to offer, I feel.

Kevin Andrews? Well, perhaps the funny farm?

 

Apology to forgotten Australians

Yesterday was a great day in Parliament.

THEY were called the ”forgotten Australians”.

But the more than half a million state wards, foster children and former child migrants were renamed the ”remembered Australians” yesterday by Kevin Rudd, as he apologised on behalf of the nation for the abuse and neglect they suffered in church and state care.

Mr Rudd and the Opposition Leader, Malcolm Turnbull, fought back tears as they delivered the historic apology in the Great Hall of Parliament House…

You can see a powerful documentary on these matters on ABC at 8.30 tonight.

Meanwhile I have been interviewing an old Darlington resident and activist, Bev Hunter, about the suburb a university swallowed – and I have been going down memory lane rather a bit myself in the process. That’s the current South Sydney Herald project and the deadline is 24 hours off…

See you later.

Update 2.00 pm

Article done. Here is a sneak preview:

Shuffling the years with Bev Hunter

Like old Dan in Judith Wright’s “South of My Days” John and Bev Hunter have seventy years of Darlington memories hived up in them like old honey. “It was a great place. We had the best of it,” Bev recalls. “It was a really safe area. You could leave your key in the door, or leave it open, or the key under the mat. You never got shut out.” …

Wait for the December/January South Sydney Herald for the rest.

 

Tags:

Something else to brag about…

… and other miscellaneous bits.

1. Something else to brag about

Australia ranked No. 2 for quality of life.

AUSTRALIA has the second best quality of life in the world and could pip Norway for top spot next year, the author of a UN report on migration and development says.

Australia was ranked second among 182 countries on a scale measuring life expectancy, school enrolments and income in the United Nations Development Program’s Human Development Report 2009, published yesterday.

The US slipped a spot to 13 and Britain was steady at 21, based on the latest internationally comparable data from 2007. Niger ranked lowest, followed by Afghanistan and Sierra Leone…

2. Who’d be Malcolm Turnbull right now?

The latest Newspoll isn’t good news for the Libs.

octpoll

3. Gerard Henderson gets it right!

In my opinion anyway, and I quite often disagree with Gerard Henderson.

… The 60th anniversary of the Communist Party victory in the Chinese Civil War was celebrated last week with an ostentatious display of military power of weapons and personnel.

Contrary to some views, the Rudd Government’s 2009 defence white paper is not directed at China. Yet the Chinese leadership should not be surprised if nations such as Australia focus on the possible reasons for China’s military build-up.

Australia’s one-time infatuation with Mao’s China is a thing of the past – as is evident in Bruce Beresford’s fine film Mao’s Last Dancer.

It should not be replaced by passion born of China’s wealth and the business and cultural possibilities this provides.

So far, despite criticism from the likes of Palmer and Hanson-Young, Rudd has got Australia’s China policy about right.

4. Local but global: October’s South Sydney Herald.

Nothing by me in this, but many good articles as usual. It’s been getting better, the old SSH.

Here is your copy: SSHOCT09.

 

Tags: ,

Last night on ABC and this morning’s news…

… had a mix of the bizarre and the tragic. You wouldn’t read about it, would you? Hollywood couldn’t invent stuff like this.

Let’s begin with the tragic.

Terror in Mumbai (originally on UK Channel Four) was last night’s offering from Four Corners.

…Their first target was the Leopold Cafe where they killed 11 people. From there they planted bombs inside taxis as the moved across the city. Terror in Mumbai follows the young men every step of the way using telephone calls made between the raid’s masterminds in Pakistan and the gunmen in Mumbai. Those calls combine with the testimony of the captured terrorist Ajmal Kasab, to create an extra-ordinary chronology of the attacks.

The calls reveal how the young men are continually reminded they must kill as many people as possible, making sure that whatever happens they must not be taken alive.

Ajmal Kasab, speaking from his hospital bed tells how he and another man attacked the city’s train station slaughtering more than 50 people…

As the film progresses the relationship between the attackers and their controllers at the other end of the phone comes into clearer focus.

At times the young men appear utterly ruthless, at other times they break away from their conditioning and register their wonder at the hotel they have taken over. They talk of computers and expensive furniture as if in a wonderland.

As the film progresses the terrorists are told to kill as many people as they can in the Taj Hotel, and then to start a fire. The purpose? To let the world know a symbol of India and the decadent west is being destroyed.

As the phone calls continue it becomes clear the young men are not always willing to kill on command. In one chilling episode one gunman is told to kill a hostage. He stalls for time. Then an hour later he is ordered to shoot. A gunshot is heard…

It was riveting and incredibly sad. The Svengali on the other end of the phone gives new manifestation to the concept of pure evil. The psychology of the perpetrators, one of whom was “sold” — according to the program and his own testimony – to Lashkar e Toiba by his own father so that his siblings could afford to marry, reminded me so much of Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent. The father was a poor street yoghurt seller.

… The 10 gunmen had sneaked ashore in Mumbai around 9pm on 26 November, having sailed from Pakistan in a hijacked Indian trawler.

Less than an hour later, during a killing spree across the city which included the main railway station, four gunmen entered the luxury Taj Hotel. Young Pakistanis from villages in the Punjab, who had never set foot in a modern hotel before, let alone the vast suites on the upper floors of the Taj, they could not contain their amazement. The first few hours of intercepts at the Taj show them struggling to keep their minds on the task of burning down the hotel.

‘There are so many lights… and so many buttons. And lots of computers with 22 and 30-inch screens…’ says one.

The other chilling piece of evidence we obtained during the making of this film, was told by one of the gunmen, Kasab, who was taken alive by Indian police and his questioning recorded.

‘What’s your gang called? Your team?’ asks one policeman.

Kasab seems not to understand.

‘Your organization, your gang, your team?’, some of the other officers round the hospital bed chime in.

‘Oh… It’s Lashkar e Toiba.’ …

It is as well – again – to remind ourselves that it is not all of Islam we are looking at here, but a perversion. Jim Belshaw has also taken up that theme: For Tikno – selection, perception, bias and the MUI Fatwa. The comments from Tikno in Indonesia and Ramana in India enhance Jim’s wisdom on this. You may also listen to this: “Young Indonesians have made use of social networking sites to protest against terrorism.” The India-Pakistan situation has complicating strands of history involved – the mess of the Partition and the unsolved dilemma of Kashmir. (I studied Indian History at university and have ever since taken an interest.) Further, in relation to Ramana’s comment, there is no single body that can speak for Islam. To a degree everyone is his or her own mufti, and the result is amazing diversity. This can be good, but also complicates things terribly. The media do focus on the violent extremists, though Tikno’s point about the majority being against violent extremism is almost certainly a truer picture.

Now for the bizarre.

Malcolm Turnbull. Well, he is human, as that Australian Story episode shows, but a bit of a goose too. The show was filmed behind the scenes as the Utegate Imbroglio was occurring, and today all that became more bizarre still: I wrote fake email: Grech.

And then there is that sleazy Radio 2DayFM The Kyle and Jackie O Show. So glad I never listened to them, especially after Media Watch revealed how bottom of the barrel the show has really been.

More 10 to 17 year-olds, by far, listen to 2DayFM than to any other Sydney station.

Yet up to now ACMA has done nothing about Kyle and Jackie’s obsession with boobs and willies, their parade of vaginas and penises, their discussions of anal sex, and oral sex, and faeces-eating during sex, and other such breakfast-time delights.

And then there’s the program’s routine humiliation and emotional manipulation of its ‘guests’.

Tonight, while Austereo reviews its ‘principles and protocols’, we’re going to look at a particularly sickening example. It wasn’t about sex, or juveniles.

It was about heartless exploitation…

About as funny as a pile of dead rats.

 

Tags:

What a crock!

Just now in Oz we have this absolutely *riveting* (not) Utegate Affair. Not our finest moment. The latest is that the email at the centre of it all is a fake – so the Australian Federal Police say. In the meantime just about everyone has been calling on everyone else to resign. It’s better than Home and Away or Neighbours, and has about as much relevance to real issues in Australia.

I really can’t be bothered going into it, but I do note the Used Car Salesman at the centre has by all accounts gained nothing from all the alleged lobbying and  mate-grooming: he didn’t get his loan after all.

Let me tell you a story.

In the fifth long year of M’s search for Australian Permanent Residence the application seemed stuck. We’d been warned that if you rang Immigration and complained too often they might, so it was alleged, move your application to the back of the filing cabinet. Well the guy handling our application was generally helpful, but it was still in limbo. At one stage too Immigration managed to lose a vital Chinese document, which led to us mounting an almost cloak-and-dagger operation in Shanghai to get another copy…

So we, especially me, were pissed off, and there was an election coming up and I feared what might happen to Immigration under Howard and Ruddock. So I contacted my local member, Peter Baldwin at the time, to see if he could exert some pressure. Well, a short time later the matter was drawn to the attention of the Minister for Immigration and the Permanent Residence came through at last.

Why is that so different from the Used Car salesman (perhaps) doing something about getting his loan application considered? If he did… Isn’t that what local members of Parliament do, and if you do happen to know the PM and the Treasurer, would it be weird or even reprehensible to mention the issue?  If he did.

Let’s hope Parliament manages to get back to doing something useful after this present outbreak of crap.

 

Bits

1. Pumping up a scandal

So much depends, it seems, on the clapped-out second-hand ute that Kevin Rudd has used as a mobile office in his own electorate. A supporter, a local car dealer, lent it to him for the purpose. Now the Opposition seem to think they have found Watergate. See what the car dealer says.

Much more serious, perhaps, are (on the surface) examples of bureaucratic idiocy in the form of infrastructure stimulus money manifesting itself on the ground in school buildings the schools neither need nor want. It does seem there hasn’t been enough needs analysis in the hurry to roll out the stimulation.

2. “End of an era”

Freestyle (Surry Hills Shopping Village) and Freestyle 2 (Elizabeth Street Surry Hills) are having closing down sales. They sell remainder books, DVDs and CDs. I snaffled Tony Judt, Appraisals: Reflections on the Forgotten Twentieth Century (2008) and Tariq Ali, The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power (2008).

Books are still good trade, the store owner said, but anything on disk has gone down the tube – YouTube, file sharing, iPods and downloading, that is. So, he said, it’s the end of an era.

 
Comments Off on Bits

Posted by on June 20, 2009 in Australia, Australia and Australian, dvd, film and dvd, Kevin Rudd, Malcolm Turnbull, politics, reading, Surry Hills

 

Fibre optic network way overdue

The Rudd government can still surprise us, it seems. See Government unveils plans for bigger, faster broadband network, National Broadband Network an ambitious plan and Kevin Rudd joins The 7.30 Report.

Previous schemes, including the one for fibre optic to local nodes and copper wire thereafter, always seemed a bit curate’s egg to me. For a small example: Sydney Boys High internally went fibre optic some years back – five or six, if I remember rightly. Internally this made a huge difference, but of course the internet came into the school down copper wire, being strangled further by the Department of Education net nanny. So internet speeds improved a bit, especially with ISPs offering better speeds, but there was always the fact that what was inside the building was severely limited by the old technology delivering it to the building. That’s true of homes and businesses everywhere.

The only thing that could provide real improvement is for the whole system to embrace fibre optic technology. That is what the government now proposes.

It strikes me that Opposition reservations are analogous to favouring investment in Cobb & Co stage coaches rather than railways in the 19th century. Perhaps the Howard government should have led on this five years ago? If they had we would now be well on track…

See also Australia To Lead The World At Something Good.

Update 9 April

Piers Akerman gets stuck into this today: $47 billion to be flushed down a broadband pipe dream. Citing one economist, Piers opines “Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has rolled out a fantasy of jobs, dividends and consumer benefits that would make Australia the envy of the world, if the goals were achievable. Not only is the cost greater and the proposal far more complex but there is a total lack of any supporting data to justify Rudd’s grandiose claims for the new project.”  He concludes: “Finally, Rudd is attempting to flatter the electorate with the promise of a NBN that no other nation in the world has attempted. There is good reason for this. Most nations are not stupid enough to take on untried technologies, assume massive debt and commit to vast schemes unless they can see and demonstrate a proven benefit.”

On the other hand, last year Telstra laid Fibre Optic, that “untried technology”, from Australia to Hawaii. And then in another part of the world:

From having no undersea cable links to the rest of the world, East Africa is now poised to have three.

As a result, many businesses are investing in finger-sized underwater fibre-optic cables that will open doors to the rest of the world.

It could not come too soon. Currently, many African countries rely heavily on satellite connections for internet and telephone calls.

Developed countries in Europe, North America and Asia embraced fibre-optic technology several years ago, and now boast over 500 cables. But the developing world is far behind; Bangladesh – with a population of over 150 million people – has three fibre-optic cables, while the whole of Africa has just ten.

And the advantages are:

Advantages of Fiber Optics

Why are fiber-optic systems revolutionizing telecommunications? Compared to conventional metal wire (copper wire), optical fibers are:

  • Less expensive – Several miles of optical cable can be made cheaper than equivalent lengths of copper wire. This saves your provider (cable TV, Internet) and you money.
  • Thinner – Optical fibers can be drawn to smaller diameters than copper wire.
  • Higher carrying capacity – Because optical fibers are thinner than copper wires, more fibers can be bundled into a given-diameter cable than copper wires. This allows more phone lines to go over the same cable or more channels to come through the cable into your cable TV box.
  • Less signal degradation – The loss of signal in optical fiber is less than in copper wire.
  • Light signals – Unlike electrical signals in copper wires, light signals from one fiber do not interfere with those of other fibers in the same cable. This means clearer phone conversations or TV reception.
  • Low power – Because signals in optical fibers degrade less, lower-power transmitters can be used instead of the high-voltage electrical transmitters needed for copper wires. Again, this saves your provider and you money.
  • Digital signals – Optical fibers are ideally suited for carrying digital information, which is especially useful in computer networks.
  • Non-flammable – Because no electricity is passed through optical fibers, there is no fire hazard.
  • Lightweight – An optical cable weighs less than a comparable copper wire cable. Fiber-optic cables take up less space in the ground.
  • Flexible – Because fiber optics are so flexible and can transmit and receive light, they are used in many flexible digital cameras for the following purposes:
    • Medical imaging – in bronchoscopes, endoscopes, laparoscopes
    • Mechanical imaging – inspecting mechanical welds in pipes and engines (in airplanes, rockets, space shuttles, cars)
    • Plumbing – to inspect sewer lines

Because of these advantages, you see fiber optics in many industries, most notably telecommunications and computer networks.

 

On the juvenile rhetoric of the American Right our Right is right…

Gerard Henderson is an Australian conservative commentator with whom I at times agree. While he may be many things, insane is not one of them. Today he exposes the overblown rhetoric of the US Right while not himself being a total Obama groupie: All the way with Obama’s world.

…Obama is not the left-wing socialist that some of his right-wing critics in the US maintain. On Fox News, Glenn Beck runs the line that Obama is some kind of leftist fascist intent on destroying individual liberties. This view has been challenged by, among others, Fox News presenter Bill O’Reilly. But, due to Beck’s polemical force, it is likely that his opinion will have some impact on the American electorate.

The evidence suggests that, on foreign policy and the economy, Obama is acting a bit like a liberal politician in the JFK mould. Obama once advocated the withdrawal of all US forces from Iraq by mid 2008 – he now wants the US troops to pull out when the elected Iraqi Government, under the leadership of Nouri al-Maliki, is regarded as capable of surviving. Also, Obama has committed additional forces to Afghanistan and the US remains active in hunting down Taliban and al-Qaeda operatives on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border.

On the economy the Obama Administration is in the tradition of Democrat predecessor Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal. This approach may, or may not, be the most appropriate response to the global financial crisis. However, it is not redolent of socialism, still less fascism…

While surfing through the now excellent again BlogExplosion I have encountered some mindblowingly awful “conservative” US blogs – rank and unbelievably bad some of them. Honestly, I wonder where their brains are! They certainly don’t make good advertising for their own country – but then of course there are many other US political and current affairs blogs that are first rate. But there is something about US conservatism that is totally sui generis, and quite terrifying to an outsider like me. Our local wingnuts look good in comparison, and Henderson – not really a wingnut – even better.

Meanwhile the Earl of East Sydney is in all sorts of bother.

KEVIN Rudd’s mid-air outburst at a female RAAF cabin attendant has done nothing to dent the Prime Minister’s popularity, which has soared to near-record levels as Malcolm Turnbull’s rating has hit a new low.

The Opposition Leader’s rating as preferred prime minister has fallen to 18 per cent, putting Mr Turnbull on practically the same rating six months into the job as his predecessor, Brendan Nelson, had after the same period.

Mr Rudd’s satisfaction rating jumped by five percentage points in the latest Newspoll, which was conducted exclusively for The Australian from Friday night to Sunday afternoon – a period during which Mr Rudd’s apology for his angry outburst, the outcome of the Group of 20 leaders’ meeting and the imminent arrival of the Government’s $900 stimulus cheques were all headline news. Labor maintained its strong and steady primary vote lead: 47per cent compared with the Coalition’s 36 per cent.

The two-party-preferred result, based on preference flows at the last election, puts Labor’s lead over the Coalition at 16 percentage points, close to its post-2007 election record high, as voters choose to stick with Labor to manage the economy through the global crisis and rising domestic unemployment.

Just as his popularity increased despite the August 2007 revelation he had been drunk in New York strip club Scores, Mr Rudd is preferred as prime minister by 67per cent of voters, while Mr Turnbull recorded his lowest preferred prime minister rating of 18per cent, down two points on the previous poll…

 

Two from The Oz

1. Malcolm Turnbull

I am not going to go here much. Neither has anyone else so far as it stands at 2.20pm with COMMENTS: 0 at the end. Sure is great at phrase-making though – almost Keatingesque:

It is bad enough to have Rudd trying to turn himself, in the blink of an eye, from an adherent of the cautious, responsible economic conservatism of Howard into a slightly more genteel version of a foaming-at-the-mouth radical such as Hugo Chavez.

But to add to that effrontery, we see him every day in the parliament denouncing neo-liberal extremism as he describes me as "the member for Goldman Sachs".

Which seems to be one of Mr Turnbull’s principal beefs in a piece that carries ad hominem to new heights.

I congratulate the Rudds, especially Therese Rein, on their success. Their business grew into a very substantial one in Australia and as other countries followed the Australian approach, grew there as well exporting the expertise developed by them when they seized the opportunity created by Howard’s decision in 1998.

But what are we to think of the wealthiest Prime Minister Australia has ever had, a man greatly enriched by the privatisation and outsourcing of government services, standing up again and again to denounce the very policies from which he and his family have profited so extensively.

It is more than a bit rich. It is as hypocritical, as chutzpadik, as his essay is absurd.

Whether or not Rudd’s essay – which I have read—is the world’s greatest analysis is beside my point really; I would agree that he glossed over the Hawke-Keating years in that essay. On the other hand he is far from alone in his concern that “neo-liberalism” is bearing fruit as we speak.

Whether Mr Turnbull’s essay prevents the Cato-like return from the plough of Peter Costello remains to be seen.

It is probably a good idea to compare Mr Turnbull’s essay with Michael Stutchbury’s feature in the same paper: Too big to resist. Makes Turnbull’s essay seem quite unimportant.

2. Phillip Adams

It’s probably fair to say that Phillip Adams writes and talks far too much, and sometimes it shows. Of course the last person who should say that is a blogger as obsessive as I am. Today is one of his better days.

Early in my newspaper career one of Australia’s most respected educators sent me a stern letter.

Dr James Darling didn’t mince words in his eagerness to mince me. "Dear Mr Adams, I do not approve of you. I do not like what you write. However, I understand that you may have some influence with young readers." He proceeded to attack my most recent column in which I’d been unusually pessimistic about the state of the world.

I’d got a bit rabid, and morbid, from a bite of the black dog, to employ Churchill’s metaphor for depression. Instead of being moist of nose and waggy of tail, as was and remains my puppyish style, a crisis in the Cold War had me snarling at the reader, provoking Geelong Grammar’s most famous headmaster to thrust quill into inkwell. Darling told Adams the cries of pain I was hearing in the world – and these are his exact words – "are not the pains of death but of birth", and recalled other moments in human history when observers had made the same mistake. Confusing – and these are my words – the deathbed with the labour ward. Among his scholarly examples, Greece in the 4th century BC.

Time to reread the old darling’s letter. At a time when the news is not merely of deficit and depression, but of Armageddon and apocalypse. When editorials read like suicide notes. When Obama in his inaugural and Rudd in every other utterance have the sky falling and the end nigh. The bears have killed the bulls and black dogs prowl in packs.

Dr Darling, later Sir James, was right. Forget dodos and dead parrots and cheer the arrival of stork and phoenix…

…This could be the time for the biggest rethink in generations. For improvements to the way we run our businesses, farms, governments, societies, personal lives. We should listen to the Dr Darlings and the Ismail Serageldins because pessimism is a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s not enough to rebuild Henry Ford’s Detroit. It’s time to build William Blake’s New Jerusalem.

So why can I share the hopes, but not necessarily the optimism? Because I well remember another moment like this. And so do you. It was quite recent. The end of the Cold War…

The orchestrated dread of communism yielded to the dread of Islam – or what Christopher Hitchens called "Islamic fascism". It was as if we were addicted to fear and couldn’t live without it. The Cold War was reborn as the War on Terror – and we returned to paranoia. The moment was utterly, tragically lost.

Let’s demand better – the best – from our governments, societies, scientists, corporations and ourselves. Let’s not lose this moment.

 

Time for a poll

Turnbull Cartoon by Cathy Wilcox

Turnbull Cartoon by Cathy Wilcox

I have from time to time lately lamented the party politics and power plays that to my mind corrupt our country’s approach to riding out the world economic downturn, partly because I see the issue as being as important as being at war and partly because I am cynical enough to believe that if the Libs, or God forbid, John Howard, had won the 2007 election we would be no better off today than we are now — or not much better off, or even worse off. See the cartoon on the right from today’s Sydney Morning Herald.

As usual you can choose more than one answer or add one of your own.