March 31, 2011

Horse 1167 - NSW Election 2011 - Why John Roberston is the Perfect Leader of the Opposition

As of this morning (and thanks to the ABC News) I learnt that John Robertson will more than likely run unopposed for the job of the NSW Labor ledership and therefore become the new state opposition leader.

Former PM Paul Keating said on Monday night's 7.30 program:
"It is my view. Well, were Robertson to be elected leader he would have no moral vantage point to lead from. I mean, jumping on and off buses and trains as Transport Minister doesn't give you any authority out there to be leader of the party. If you've actually connived into the destruction of the parliamentary leader and are a principal cause why 20-odd, 24, or 25 members of Parliament have lost their seats in Parliament, if those dead men and women are hanging around your neck, and they are, you've lost the vantage point of the leadership."
- Paul Keating, 28th March, 2011.

What I wonder is, is does it really matter who becomes leader of the party?

My basic contention is that in Westminster parliaments generally and particularly in Australia, that the Leaders of the Opposition are generally lame ducks, whose only real job is to guide the party back to government.

Really apart from Bob Carr who became Leader of the Opposition from the outset against the then Greiner Government, does anyone really care who that person is? Even Bob Carr noted in his book Thoughtlines, the following excerpt from his diary in 1988:
"I spent today like a doomed man, taking phone calls and drafting a statement, still saying to the press I wasn't shifting. I feel a jolt in my stomach about what I'm getting myself in for. I will destroy my career in four years. Everything's altered. It's my fate ... So, for better or for worse, I become leader of the party next week."
- Bob Carr, Thoughtlines (2002).

Peter Collins, Kerry Chikarovski, John Brogden, or at Federal level, Brendan Nelson, Kim Beazley, Simon Crean, Alexander Downer, Dr John Hewson... They've all been Leaders of the Opposition but may as well have had the title of "Billy No-Mates".

If you're looking for a lame duck leader who doesn't necessarily have to do anything until the run up until the next state election in 2015 then you could really pick anyone for the job. Since their political career will probably be rubbished anyway then it scarcely matters who you choose.
So you may as well pick John Robertson. I've never heard of him before and I probably never will again. He sounds perfect for the job.

March 30, 2011

Horse 1166 - Mad Max 4: The Missed Point

These are the two designs competing in this month's edition of Top Gear Australia magazine to be the next "Mad Max Interceptor" in Mad Max 4: Fury Road.

Does anyone else notice a distinct problem here?

Now stop me if I'm wrong but I thought that one of the premises of the very world in which Mad Max is set is that it's some sort of post apocalyptic place. I completely understand that the producers what something edgey and "cool" but that kind of isn't the point.
The "V8 Interceptor" in Mad Max was a 1974 Ford Falcon XB sedan. In 1979 there wouldn't have been much special about an XB Falcon. In a 2011 context, it would be like a 2006 Ford Falcon BF, which is a pretty normal; humble sort of car.

In a post apocalyptic world, there probably wouldn't be any "cool" cars left. That is kind of sort of the point isn't it?

The first "Mad Max Interceptor" was a yellow Falcon sedan. The most common place that you see yellow Falcons in in Melbourne wher they're employed as taxis. Yes TAXIS! There's nothing cool about taxis of themselves at all is there? Unless you actually happen to enjoy the vinyl seat covers and the plastic shield separating you from the driver.

I haven't seen any of the Mad Max films, so I can't say anything of the plot at all but these two designs look like they'd be cool enough for Batman to be driving around in. They have sleekish lines with edgey sort of meanness about them. Whereas I remember the XA Falcon as having a brown interior with a big fan style speedo and smelling vaugely of wee from when the neighbour's Pekingese got over excited.

A friend of mine used to have a 1980 VB Commodore which had obviously seen better days. To heighten the experience he had a Mercedes-Benz badge on the front which was made from corrugated cardboard and obviously inspired by the Area-7 song "Bogan", the car was fitted "with a home made spoiler made from crappy steel". That's what your post apocalyptic world should look like Mel, not something from an International Motor Show.

If I was Mr Gibson, the next Mad Max car would have been an ex-tradie's ute that had been flogged to bits. Real genuine piston ring smoke and blown gaskets would do the job. Or heck, just get a Lada Niva because when the real apocalypse comes, those cars will be the only ones still working, even if the elements melt by fire and everything on the earth is burned... but Ladas aren't "cool" are they?

March 29, 2011

Horse 1165 - NSW Election 2011 - The Real Reason Labor Lost It So Badly

People are busily trying to disect why the Labor Party in the NSW State Election at the weekend got thumped so comprehensively. The media seems to be playing some line that it's all a great shock to them, even though some outlets had predicted the number of seats post-election at as low as eleven. Yet as George Santayana wrote in his 1905 book "The Life of Reason, Vol 1" and which is oft-quoted: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

Cast your mind back to 1996. Coming into the election the Labor Party had held government since 1983. In the meantime, the stock market crash of 1987 happened; followed by in the words of the then PM Paul Keating "the recession that Australia had to have", and the sale of Qantas, the Commonwealth Bank amongst the trophies in the family cabinet flogged off in a fire sale. Not surprisingly, Labor's primary vote in that 1996 election was the lowest recorded by the ALP since 1934.

So why is that important? There are obvious parallels between Federal Labor of 1996 and NSW State Labor of 2011.

We have just passed through a "Global Financial Crisis" following a "market correction" and although the country as avoided falling into a recession, NSW most ingloriously slid there. The electorate was angered Federally by the sale of assets in 1996 but that wasn't a shade on the outrage displayed when Premier Kennealy sold off the state's electricity companies and then shut down the parliament to avoid serious questioning. On that note, Kennealy herself was the fourth Premier during the term of office whereas in 1996, Paul Keating had come off of the supposedly "unwinnable" election in 1993 after replacing Hawke himself (though it must be said that Dr John Hewson shot his 1993 campaign in the head by trying to introduce a 15% GST, and then couldn't explain it - the Cake is a Lie*).

There are 3 critical reasons why Labor lost this election:
1. It has been generally said that in a Westminster system, people do not vote Governments in: quite the contrary, they vote Governments out.
2. Privatisation of Assets is never something which the electorate swallows easily; in many people's eyes it is akin to theft. On the flip side, in the Australian experience, once those assets have been sold, they never return to public hands again. I can not even think of a single example of a re-nationalisation of any public good or service.
3. When Premier Keneally did sell off the electricity companies, the process was very much behind closed doors and the parliament was dissolved thereafter; this is probably the most disgusting thing of all. Dissolving the parliament after a $5.3bn decision is a direct affront to the workings of democracy. Especially when you consider that the policy was never brought before the people of NSW in the 2007 election either.

The 2011 NSW State Election had nothing to do with a Carbon Tax, Mining Tax, or whatever Mr Abbott or Ms Gillard might think of it. Julian Morrow on Q and A summed it up brilliantly: it was to do with Labor's "toxic incompetence"; perhaps if we add the word "criminal" in there as well it might be approaching the truth.

Or maybe we can hark back to the words of almost 80 years ago. Very simply, Labor had offended "the decent and respectable people of New South Wales"... and that's terrible.

*The Infamous Birthday Cake Interview -

March 28, 2011

Horse 1164 - What Right Do Christians Have To Speak Up?

I bounced off The Howie Daily (Mar 27, 2011 - Link: ) and have replied to a post by someone called Megan. You can follow along:

I agree with the legalisation of same sex marriage.
This is on the back of previous posts. Firstly, not all Christians believe same sex relationships are wrong. But let’s say for arguments sake that it is wrong. This doesn’t mean it should not be legalised. If we take the viewpoint I have talked about in previous posts, it should absolutely be legalised. Jesus asked people to follow him and follow his guidelines for life. But if they chose to walk away and not follow him, he let them. He didn’t chase after them and demand they abide by his rules, he just let them leave and choose their own lifestyles. If non-Christians are choosing same sex relationships, who are Christians to come along and tell them they are living in sin according to their rules, which the people they are yelling at did not sign up for?

Exactly, "Who are Christians to come along and tell them they are living in sin?" Who are they? What gives Christians the right to tell people about how they should live? I think that this is an excellent question. It very much cuts to the heart of what a Christian's role is in the world, which I believe to be several.
Specifically I think that this question brings to light the Christian's role as Christ's Ambassadors. Paul sums this up nicely in his 2nd Letter to the Corinthians:
Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.
- 2 Corinthians 5:20 (NKJV)

What then is an Ambassador? An Ambassador is the highest ranking diplomat, sent to a foreign nation bearing the representation and protection of the interests and nationals of the sending state.
It must be said that an Ambassador of themselves has no authority other than what has been conferred on them by the nation which sent them; because they speak on behalf of their nation, they act with the interests of their nation and ruler as their prime directive.

Not only are Ambassadors charged with speaking up for the nation which they represent, if they do not do so then this amounts to a dereliction of duty. An Ambassadors who does not speak up for the nation which they represent has utterly failed in their appointment and it would be best if they were fired from the role.
To this end, Ambassadors very much speak out against things which their nation finds repulsive and abhorrant. National Ambassadors regularly speak out against corruption, human rights abuses, and against belligerent powers who seek to destroy other nations and perhaps even their own people. Ambassadors also speak up for their nation on matters such as trade, treaties and cooperative agreements.

Australia for intance has Ambassadors to powers that we find unfriendly such as Laos and Libya, to powers that we are on speaking terms with but still are cautious with like China, to powers that we are very friendly with like the United States, New Zealand and the UK and to supra-national powers like the EU, NATO and the UN.
If our Ambassadors failed to speak up against human rights abuses in China, against the horror taking place in Libya and the corruption in Laos, we'd fire the Ambassadors.

I have already written an extensive piece on changing the Marriage Act 1961, so I'll provide a link to it:

In reply to this comment:
This is on the back of previous posts. Firstly, not all Christians believe same sex relationships are wrong. But let’s say for arguments sake that it is wrong. This doesn’t mean it should not be legalised. If we take the viewpoint I have talked about in previous posts, it should absolutely be legalised.

Firstly, it does not matter what Christians believe. It matters entirely what God thinks. An Ambassador who believes something which falls outside of the purview of the one who sent them, has no authority to speak on such matters. Besides which, God has made it pretty clear what he thinks:

"For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due."
—Romans 1:26-27 (NKJV)

"Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God."
— 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (NKJV)

"Knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine,"
— 1 Timothy 1:9-10 (NKJV)

Legalising something has the effect of making something which was previously unlawful, lawful. Suggesting something should be legalised, exactly implies that one thinks that is is perfectly fine to perform an act.
If a Christians does happen to believe that same-sex marriages should be legalised, then they obviously condone them and need to seriously consider what they believe.

As for this remark...
Jesus asked people to follow him and follow his guidelines for life. But if they chose to walk away and not follow him, he let them. He didn’t chase after them and demand they abide by his rules, he just let them leave and choose their own lifestyles.

...I refer to the story of the woman at the well in John 8:
When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her,“Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”
She said, “No one, Lord.”
And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
- John 8:10-12 (NKJV)

Whilst it may be true that Jesus didn't condemn the woman, it certainly does not mean that he either excused her or gave her licence to continue on in her sin. In fact he directly told her "go and sin no more".
Further to this, he actually made a point that once people have decided to follow Jesus and been told where they've gone wrong, that they no longer continue to "walk in darkness, but have the light of life".

I also think that Christians do not have the right to condemn people. We are actually no better than anyone else in the world. Whilst some of us might like to adopt airs of piousness which really help no-one, the point is that the only difference between a Christian and someone else, is that the Christian admits that they are a hopeless case, can not save themselves from the sin and mess they've made and are in need of a saviour. If for only that reason alone, then we should be acting as Ambassadors and speak as someone with no authority except that which has been charged to us.

To summarise:
Who are Christians to come along and tell them they are living in sin?
They are Christ's Ambassadors, charged with the job of speaking out and speaking up on behalf of God and his purposes; to fail to do so is a dereliction of duty. This general principle not only counts for just the case of same-sex marriage, but EVERYTHING.

March 25, 2011

Horse 1163 - NSW Election 2011 - A Wobbly Seat To Sit In

On the eve of the NSW State Election, I thought I'd turn the spotlight on one particular electorate; namely that of the seat of Heffron which none other than the Premier Kristina Keneally herself sits.

Heffron was created in 1973 during the time of Sir Robert Askin as Premier. The 1973 election was called early after Askin wanted to take advantage of a state which was unhappy with Gough Whitlam's Federal Labor Government.
Heffron was itself won by Laurie Brereton who held the former seat of Randwick, then moved into the new electorate. He held the job for 27 years before moving to Federal poltics, and the seat has only been held by Deirdre Grusovin and Kristina Keneally since; both are Labor members.
Interestingly, if you look at the post-election map (and prior to the 2010 Penrith by-election) Sydney was split into an almost exactly rich-poor divide; split by the Parramatta River and the harbour; except for Cronulla.

At the last election, Keneally held Heffron purely on the primary vote and it didn't even go to preferences. Nominally (and I hope I've done the calculations correctly) it should require at least a swing of 23.6% against Keneally to unseat her.

If we assume that the Sydney Morning Herald was correct in its assumptions and Labor would be left with 13 seats in the parliament (read Horse 1151), then Heffron would be one of the 13 Labour seats left, with a new margin of about 3.6%-3.8%.

The problem is that Keneally herself could be the undoing of this seat. When swings are calculated and shown in funky slidy graphics on election night they are assumed to be uniform across the state; I can assure you that they are most decidedly not. Ms Keneally could be subject to an even harsher swing in her own electorate just like Former PM John Howard was in the Division of Bennelong in the 2007 Federal Election.

I personally think that it's entirely feasible after this election that Kristina Keneally might lose her own seat and if that happens, then who knows who'd be the leader of a Labor Opposition? Paul Lynch of Liverpool? John Robertson of Blacktown? Nathan Rees of Toongabbie again? Noreen Hay of Wollongong? I honestly have no idea. The job would pretty well much be a poisoned challis, with the only prospect of being replaced before the 2015 election.

So how's this for a deal Labor? Put me up in the seat of Heffron in time for the 2015 election campaign. Sure, I've never gone into politics before but since it doesn't necessarily bother me if I face political oblivion, then I'm perfectly suited to run for Premier of NSW - that's where Ms Keneally is headed.

I'd be a brilliant Premier... well, I couldn't exactly do any worse than the one you've got could I?

March 16, 2011

Horse 1162 - Julian Assange's Really Dumb #qanda Question

The founder of Wikileaks Julian Assange appeared on ABC1's Q and A program on Monday Night (14th April 2011) via a video question, to the Prime Minister Julia Gillard. The question and link is provided below:

JULIAN ASSANGE: Prime Minister, you just got back from Washington but what Australian citizens want to know is which country do you represent? Do you represent Australians and will you fight for Australian interests because it's not the first time that you or a member of your cabinet has been into a US government building and exchanged information. In fact, we have intelligence that your government has been exchanging information with foreign powers about Australian citizens working for Wikileaks. So Prime Minister, my question to you is this: when will you come clean about precisely what information you have supplied the foreign powers about Australian citizens working or affiliated with Wikileaks and if you cannot give a full and frank answer to that question, should perhaps the Australian people consider charging you with treason?

Firstly Mr Assange, not being a lawyer I perfectly understand if you don't happen to know about the legal definitions of words like "treason", however what you have done is inadvertantly publicly admitted that you and your organisation have broken the law and that you personally have no idea about legal responsibility.

Let's just break down all of your little mistakes and idiocies shall we?

"it's not the first time that you or a member of your cabinet has been into a US government building and exchanged information"

Well duh!

One of the most basic things that any law student goes through in Australia is the source of law and the Constitution of Australia. Section 51 of the Constitution deals with the specific powers which the Parliament has. It stands to reason that if the Parliament is charged with certain powers, then it also has the responsibitlity to exercise those powers.

I will now list two specific powers below:

51.The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to:
(vi.) The naval and military defence of the Commonwealth and of the several States, and the control of the forces to execute and maintain the laws of the Commonwealth.
(xxix.) External Affairs:

Now obviously if a Minister of the Crown is going into a "US government building" and has "exchanged information", they are doing so because they have been charged with the power and responsibility that the Parliament has given them. A business person who goes to the offices of another business does so because they are acting as an agent on behalf of the firm which sent them. Why should the affairs of a Minister of the Crown be any different at all? How difficult is this to grasp Mr Assange?
Australia is tied to the US through various treaties and agreements, ANZUS, APEC, the Australia – United States Free Trade Agreement etc. What else do you want? Are you seriously suggesting that a Minister of the Crown wouldn't have some business with a US Government Department at some stage?

The next part seriously bothers me:

"In fact, we have intelligence that your government has been exchanging information with foreign powers about Australian citizens working for Wikileaks.
So Prime Minister, my question to you is this: when will you come clean about precisely what information you have supplied the foreign powers about Australian citizens working or affiliated with Wikileaks"

Technically speaking and because of the provisions of the Statute of Westminster 1931, statute law passed in Britain up until 1931 has legal standing in Australia up until such time as it is replaced by Australia law. This includes the The Official Secrets Acts of 1911 and 1920.

Admittedly unlike the United Kindgom, Australia does not have specific legislation dealing with things which the government wants to keep secret. However it does have specific provisions in the Crimes Act 1914 which deal with Official Secrets:
Official secrets
(2) If a person with the intention of prejudicing the security or defence of the Commonwealth or a part of the Queen's dominions:
(a) communicates a prescribed sketch, plan, photograph, model, cipher, note, document or article, or prescribed information, to a person, other than:
(i) a person to whom he or she is authorized to communicate it; or
(ii) a person to whom it is, in the interest of the Commonwealth or a part of the Queen's dominions, his or her duty to communicate it; or permits a person, other than a person referred to in subparagraph (i) or (ii), to have access to it;
(b) retains a prescribed sketch, plan, photograph, model, cipher, note, document or article in his or her possession or control when he or she has no right to retain it or when it is contrary to his or her duty to retain it; or
(c) fails to comply with a direction given by lawful authority with respect to the retention or disposal of a prescribed sketch, plan, photograph, model, cipher, note, document or article;

he or she shall be guilty of an indictable offence.

Penalty: Imprisonment for 7 years.

In other words, if you Mr Assange or your organisation is in possession of, communicates and/or doesn't destroy the information which you have obtained from the Commonwealth without permission, you are guilty of an indictable offence and may be imprisoned for 7 years.

Mr Assange himself is of course, no stranger to court proceedings. As far back as 1991 he was in court charged with 31 counts of computer hacking. The Australian Federal Police had his phone tapped and although he was brought to trial, he was released on a "good conduct" bond with a fine of $2100.

The judge's obiter dicta contained the remarks that "there is just no evidence that there was anything other than sort of intelligent inquisitiveness and the pleasure of being able to—what's the expression—surf through these various computers" and that he could have handed down a sentence of up to 10 years for the crimes.

Wikileaks in principle publishes documents from government which would otherwise go totally unnoticed. If however the government or a government agency deemed that a particular document be classified or given secret status because it is of a sensitive nature, then permission for Wikileaks to have such a thing is not there and a breach of the Crimes Act exists.

As for the quite frankly pointless comment "if you cannot give a full and frank answer to that question, should perhaps the Australian people consider charging you with treason?", it really does show a total lack of understanding of what treason actually is.

Treason broadly, is a tort which is a betrayal of the state, nation or sovereign. Again the Crimes Act 1914 doesn't explicitly use the word "treason", but it does use a nominally interchangable word "treachery":

(1) A person shall not:
(a) do any act or thing with intent:
(i) to overthrow the Constitution of the Commonwealth by revolution or sabotage; or
(ii) to overthrow by force or violence the established government of the Commonwealth, of a State or of a proclaimed country; or

Prime Minister Gillard isn't very likely to try to overthrow the government which gave her the office which she currently holds is she? How does that make any logical sense at all?
I don't think that Ms Gillard is doing a bad job as as the Prime Minister and I certainly don't think that she's done anything which would constitute an act of treason or treachery against either the Parliament or the Commonwealth either.

If anyone is in breach of the law, it is more likely to be Julian Assange because of the nature of his organisation rather than Julia Gillard who would be acting on behalf of the Parliament and Commonwealth. Unless she suddenly decided to order the RAAF to start launching AGM-123 Skippers down the Bourke Street Mall or something, the chances of charging the PM with treason are Buckley's and None.

Mr Assange's question to the Prime Minister when examined properly, falls down at every hurdle and may even accidentally incriminate him as well. Then again, Ms Gillard herself probably sums this up quite well:
"Well, his motivation, as stated, is a sort of anarchic here it all is, just have it and I don't have a great deal of respect for that. Now, I understand people will take different views on it but that's the view that motivated me to make those comments."
I will take precisely the same view as Ms Gillard because I don't have a great deal of respect for that sort of thing either.

March 15, 2011

Horse 1161 - Australia and the Nuclear Boogieman

With the earthquakes and subsequent tsunami in Japan causing widespread damage, and specifically damage to nuclear power plants, the world not surprisingly is re-thinking its stance on nuclear power and its safety. Only this morning the German Chancellor Angela Merkel suggested a non-extension to Germany's nuclear program and France is very seriously looking at its power plants, considering that 70% of French electricity comes from nuclear.
So what of Australia?

I think a very strong case can be made for Australia embracing nuclear power for precisely the same reason that Japan is considering abandoning it.

As far as plate tectonics go, the entire Australian continent sits on a very solid bit of dirt. No fault lines pass anywhere through the continent, and although there have been earthquakes in Australia; they have been the result of the underside of the Australian plate scraping against the Moho or Upper Mantle.
The point being that unlike say New Zealand, Japan or even California, earthquakes in Australia are not directly caused by plates banging into each other, sliding past each other or pulling away. Even someone with a rudimentary knowledge in Australian geography will tell you that the big mountain ranges in Australia are not volcanic, but sedimentary.

What is the point of all this? Put simply, Australia currently relies on lots of coal for its electricity which is terrible for greenhouse gas emission, at the same time it is the world's biggest exporter of uranium with 23% of the world's uranium ore reserves but somehow never finds the political will to make use of it.

It's the same story for a lot of Australian industry, we dig up stuff, sell it overseas and wonder why the country is on the express train to oblivion and can't afford the diesel to get there.

The truth should bet staring us in the face. Australia suffers an earthquake actually on the continent as opposed to offshore roughly every 13 years and at an average of only 5.8333 on the Richter Scale. In contrast Japan in the past week has had more earthquakes of 6 and above than the entire of the records in Australia by nearly a factor of 90.
When it comes to earthquakes, Australia is ludicrously stable. I bet that you actually have more chance of being killed by a falling toilet, than ever feeling an earthquake in your life in Australia let alone actually being killed from it.
If that then is the main reason why we don't use nuclear power in Australia, it's a pretty pathetic one.

I suggest that if the nuclear boogieman is the only reason why nuclear power isn't used, then that too is pretty pathetic. Admittedly the worst case scenario is a disaster like Chernobyl of almost 25 years ago but that wasn't exactly helped by an economic system which was on the brink of total collapse and a workforce which was paid a pittance. Would such a thing occur for the same reasons in a supposedly first-world industrialised nation like Australia? I think not. Then again, if people like Premier Keneally can sell our power companies to private interests looking to cut costs, then the same motives which caused the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010 will be in operation, so who knows?

If we're that worried we could always build out nuclear power stations in places like Olympic Dam which is already in the middle of nowhere and on top of the world's biggest uranium deposit. Even if a fallout cloud the size of the like that was seen as a result of the Chernobyl disaster were to occur, three quarters of bugger-all would be affected, or better yet bung it out at Ngaanyatjarra-Giles in WA. You could launch either moon of Mars into the nuclear power plant out there and no-one would know save for the fact that their lights would go out.

The fact that we're quite willing to sell Uranium to the rest of the world but don't use it ourselves smacks of hypocrisy. Wollongong City Council proudly proclaims itself to be a "Nuclear Free Zone" on massive billboards as you head down the F6. Do they not realise that the University of Wollongong happens to be Australia's leading exponent of Nuclear Medicine and Clinical Oncology? Do they also not realise that just to the north happens to be the ANSTO Open Pool Australian Lightwater reactor at Lucas Heights?

Australia could cut its greenhouse emissions by 35% if it went to all-nuclear electricity generation. I'm not suggesting that it's a magic bullet, but leaving it off the agenda entirely and as part of a total plan for dealing with a far bigger issue, I think is quite quite quite stupid.

March 09, 2011

March 08, 2011

Horse 1160 - NSW Election 2011 - The Safest Seat In The House

On the streets of Mosman today, I met Jillian Skinner the incumbent Liberal member for the NSW seat of the North Shore. Surely she has to have the easiest gig in the world.

The electorate of North Shore has the lowest lowest proportion of low income households in the country; the highest proportion of voters working in Finance, insurance, property and business; the lowest proportion of tradesmen and labourers and 62% of all children attend private schools.
To put it simply you can not even get a more obvious seat which would vote for the Liberal Party.

In fact for the 2011 NSW State Election on March 26, only three candidates have been put forward and those are Ms Skinner from the Liberal Party, a Greens candidate and a Christian Democratic Party candidate. Labor haven't even bothered in this election to field a candidate at all.

I wonder on the swing calculators what happens in such a situation. On a two-party preferred basis, does that mean that the ALP scores 0%? If so, what is the point of Jillian Skinner actually being on the streets in the first place? If she wanted to, she could probably spend the whole campaign in Saint-Tropez sipping Pernod and listening to Didier Lockwood whilst reading Le Monde... least that's what I'd do if I was in such a safe and virtually uncontested seat. Where do I sign up for the gig?

March 07, 2011

Horse 1159 - A-League 2020

The basic problem as I see it is that there are far too many football codes in Australia all competing for limited fan funds. Quite often you'll hear talk of expansion clubs moving into other codes "territory" as though they were placing new armies on the Risk board.

Collectively the various armies of the football tribes are spread too thinly. If there was basically one competition, then things like TV rights would all be consolidated. My proposal would solve a lot of these problems in a way which I find highly entertaining but you might not.

Allow me to dream for just a second. Some people are going to be offended by this post, and I say pooh to them. Rugby League is a stupid game and should be wiped off the face of the earth like the pondscum it is*. Australian Rules football although being invented in Australia, is really akin to the NFL in the United States. It draws large crowds but is a bit myopic for my liking.

In my ideal world, the NRL would be shut down yesterday if not sooner and although the AFL is very very good, it still sadly also needs to be shut down to make my proposal viable.

This proposal looks at an A-League of the future; hopefully to be fully operative by 2020, because Football truly is the beautiful game, Rugby League is a stupid game and Australian Rules is an irrelevant game.

The 10 existing A-League teams will stay:

1. Sydney FC - Sydney Football Stadium
2. Central Coast Mariners - Grahame Park
3. Newcastle Jets - Newcastle Stadium
4. Queensland Roar - Lang Park
5. Gold Coast United - Robina Stadium
6. Melbourne Victory - Docklands
7. Melbourne Heart - Melbourne Rectangular
8. Adelaide United - Hindmarsh Stadium
9. Perth Glory - Perth Oval
10. Wellington Phoenix - Wellington Stadium

To compensate for the loss of the NRL and AFL, the following clubs will be reformed as football clubs.

11. Brisbane City (ex-Broncos - the Broncos is a stupid name) - Lang Park
12. The Valley FC (ex-Lions) - Queen Elizabeth II
13. Parramatta FC (ex-Eels) - Parramatta Stadium
14. Penrith FC (ex-Panthers) - Penrith Stadium
15. Canberra United (will assume ownership of the Raiders) - Bruce Stadium
16. Geelong FC (ex-Cats) - Kardinia Park
17. Adelaide FC (ex-Crows) - Football Park
18. Port Adelaide FC (ex-Power) - Football Park
19. Fremantle FC (ex-Dockers) - Subiaco Oval
20. St George FC (ex-Dragons/Steelers) - Olympic Park, Sydney
21. Collingwood FC (ex-Magpies) - MCG
22. Richmond FC (ex-Tigers) - Melbourne Rectangular
23. Essendon FC (ex-Bombers) - MCG
24. Carlton FC (ex-Blues) - Princes Park
25. St Kilda FC (ex-Saints) - Olympic Park, Melbourne
26. Sydney City FC (ex-Swans, Roosters) - Sydney Cricket Ground
27. South Sydney FC (ex-Souths) - Sydney Football Stadium
28. Canterbury-Bankstown Utd (ex-Bulldogs) -
29. Footscray FC (ex-Bulldogs) - Olympic Park, Sydney

These clubs will be added, taking into account the clubs which already exist:

30. Wollongong Utd - Wollongong Showground
31. Pride of the North FC (Northern Territory) - Darwin and Alice Springs
32. Tasmania Utd - Launceston and Hobart

Of course I do realise that some existing clubs like the Wests-Tigers, North Melbourne, Hawthorn, Melbourne Storm, Gold Coast Titans etc will be wiped from the face of the earth but I don't think that anyone is likely to miss them. I mean they barely car about them now do they?

The new league would be organised into 2 divisions with 16 teams each, and the clubs would be promoted and relegated between the leagues on a three-up three-down basis with the 3rd placed team in A-League 2 playing the 14th placed side in A-League 1 for the third spot.

The bottom three clubs would be relegated back into the respective state leagues with the top clubs from the states which the relegated clubs came from replacing them.

The Australian FA Cup would be played on the basis that the 32 A-League teams would arrive in the round of 64 which would be the first round proper. The remaining 32 spots would be initially awarded on a one for one basis as per the A-League as follows:

NSW - 10, VIC - 9, QLD - 4, SA - 3, WA - 2, TAS - 1, ACT - 1, NZ - 1, NT - 1

I think that this should pretty well satisfy most existing pundits of most clubs and if not, too bad.

The number of league and cup fixtures aught to be enough to have everyone playing home and away quite comfortably, and with a bit of fiddling then you only need at very maximum two clubs playing at the same venue.

And for those of you who doubt whether or not this is at all possible, the old NSL was demolished and replaced as was the BRL when it was replaced with the Queensland Cup; SANZAR managed to install a competition across three entire countries.

Perhaps David Gallop and Andrew Demetriou may need to be sent into an oubliette until they agree and if they don't we could always have a People's Revolt in Federation Square and Martin Place until they agree. If they still don't then we could always resort to having a revolution and using the guilotine... for the good of the game.

*The Challenge is on. If you actually like Rugby League and want to defend it, let's start a blog war. I will be happy to engage in robust debate on the subject and make you look foolish.

Horse 1158 - Silence Is Golden - Liverpool 3 - Man Utd 1

Liverpool 3 - Man Utd 1
Kuyt 34'
Kuyt 34'
Kuyt 34'
Hernandes 90'

Highlights Video from TV3, NZ:

Usually when Man Utd lose, you hear Sir Alex go on the telly and tell how the referee was crap, or the linesman was crap, or something was horrid but never that his side were outplayed and lost to opponents who played better and did well on the day.
Sir Alex's response to the BBC and even MUTV was... silence.

Dirt Kuyt became the first player since Beardsley in 1990, when Liverpool last won the league, to score a hat-trick in the Liverpool-Man Utd fixture. All of his goals met their strike from within the six yars box which says more than anything else that Man United have a leaky defence problem which needs to be plugged.

Javier Hernandes did manage to score a consolation goal in the 90th minute off a Ryan Giggs cross  but it barely even got a register from the home fans. What was fun was the turnaround of Liverpool fans of Man United's chant "We're Man United and we'll do what we want" to "You're Man United and you'll do what you're told."

Indeed there appears to be a total media blackout from Man United players and staff. The only comment which has been found by anyone comes courtesy of Twitter and Rio Ferdinand:

"Bad result today no excuses."

Perhaps Sir Alex knows that there is nothing and no-one to blame up himself and his players and the old adage that if you don't have anything nice to say then don't say anything might be true because Sir Alex hasn't said anything nice for so long that he's actually incapable of it these days.

All I know is, that the silence is golden.

March 04, 2011

Horse 1157 - Daewoo Axed, Holden Next?

Back on the 19th of January I predicted the beginning of the end of Holden with GM's plans to introduce Opel as a competing brand and sell better quality cars to rubbish the Holden brand.
Guess what? GM has done something else which could see the demise of the Holden brand. They've axed Daewoo in Korea.

If you go to the ex Daewoo website at you're faced with a giant Chevrolet bow-tie. If you then follow the links provided and go to you notice that GM has rebranded all Daewoos in Korea with their American Chevrolet names.

What are those names? Spark, Aveo, Cruze, Captiva etc. Apart from the Aveo which is rebadged as a Barina in Australia due to some sort of legacy reasons, all four of those cars are sold in Australia as Holdens. Heck, when PM Gillard went to see the Holden factory last week, what were the majority of the cars which she saw coming off the production line? Chevrolet Cruzes destined for export.

If GM is prepared to put the knife through the Daewoo brand in its native Korea, then what chance does Holden have in Australia? It's all good and proper for the Holden brand to be trading of its past kudos, but at what point will it be decided that it's not worth the effort any more? Holden as a brand only trades in Australia and New Zealand, and possibly in other Pacific Island nations, but when the total market population is less than even some cities around the world, would GM in its big tower in Detroit think it really worth keeping the brand?
Remember, the Holden R8 Clubsport is already exported under the Chevrolet badge as a Chevrolet Lumina in some countries. How long will it be before the HRT itself is given the flick and rebranded as the Chevrolet racing team?... and don't say it can't happen because I have a picture.

Holden - mene mene tekel upharsin... the writing is on the wall.

March 03, 2011

Horse 1156 - "Likes" Per Minute

And I was like talking to Mesha and she was like crying and stuff and Mr Wilson was like in our faces and like "Stop talking when I'm talking to the class" and like "You need to be quiet". I didn't say anything like but Mesha was still crying like and I like didn't say anything, like, just be cool, like and we like left the room by like the back door and stuff...

I completely understand that English is an evolving language and I am also fully aware that especially in the last 20 or so years, the word "like" has increasingly been used as not just a comparative or a verb but as a hedge, a quotative and a particle of discourse. Whilst I can't necessarily do anything about these uses except metaphorically bang my head on the coffee table, it does provide in my opinion a useful guide to the relative inanity and or stupidity of the conversation.

My somewhat informal research has involved me eavesdropping on conversations which I otherwise would not and taken part in and not wished to do so either but have been more or less forced to overhead because some people in public spaces are quite boisterous. Due to the proximity and loudness of these conversations either on the train or the bus, I have devised what I think is an appropriate speed limit for stupidity; measured in "likes per minute" of ten.

At 10lpm it appears to me that the person speaking actually begins to lose the meaning of what they are trying to say. A 10lpm conversation is annoying and is just bordering on the edge of stupidity.

At 15lpm, conversation has more or less broken into Valspeak and makes the speaker sound like a total dolt. The Bard himself said through the voice of Emilia in Othello: "O gull! O dolt! As ignorant as dirt!" This I think sums up a 15lpm conversation most eloquently.
At speeds above 15lpm, my personal level of irritation is quite high and I have a latent desire to punish the offender with a decent thud to the back of the head with a some great tome. I would suggest a hard cover copy of Ulysees by James Joyce.

If you do find yourself speaking at a rate of more than 10lpm, do yourself and everyone else a favour and either desist or preferably stop talking altogether. If you really can not express yourself without resulting to such verbal dross, then perhaps a decent education is in order. Huzzah!

March 02, 2011

Horse 1155 - Get A Wagon - or Four Wheel Drives Kill Small Children

I've long hated Four Wheel Drives and have argued that they don't belong in cities because they're incompatible with other traffic and road furniture and that they're ironically more unsafe than other vehicles on the road.

This report which I was emailed, produced by the Queensland Injury Surveillance Unit paints a dark picture indeed:
In Australia pedestrian crashes are responsible for half of all transport related deaths of children aged under five years. Of these fatalities half are the result of a low speed driveway run-over.

A recent study examining driveway run-over deaths of young children in Australia found that most fatalities involved toddlers being reversed over by a large
4WD vehicle in the driveway of their own home by a member of their immediate family.

Nearly 80% of the cases were described as occurring at home with 60% taking place in the driveway or garage/carport. Forty per cent of runovers occurred on a Saturday or Sunday while 40% took place between 3pm and 6pm in the afternoon and 32% between 8am and 12pm in the morning.

The argument usually given by people who buy 4WDs is that they've bought the vehicle because of their concern for the safety of their children. Admittedly 4WDs have on the whole become a lot safer in the past 5 years. In 2005 the average NCAP safety rating for Small Off-Road vehicles was 3.2 stars, and for Large Off-Road vehicles 2.9 stars. This in recent years has risen to an average for both classes of above 3.8 stars.
It is all very well for a car to perform better in a crash, but that describes a vehicle suffering a heavy impact and usually at speed. It is quite a different story in the land of car vs small child.

Let's be honest here, a Four Wheel Drive or the hideously stupid name of SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle) is in reality little more than a jacked up station wagon in most circumstance. Most Four Wheel Drives have never left the tarmac and would be totally unsuited to driving on an unsealed road let alone proper off-road work; because they are jacked up station wagons their line of sight is higher than an equivalent car.

I seriously wonder about the logic behind having a car in which the window lines are significantly higher than that of a small child. If you can't see something or more importantly someone darting behind your car, then how pray tell can you insist that it's safer to own the stupid car in the first place.
In Mosman last year, a Year 1 student was killed when she came out from between some parked cars on the street and was run over by a Range Rover. The Range Rover's bonnet line was higher than the poor girl, and the driver of the vehicle never actually saw the girl.
It therefore doesn't surprise me that statistics such as those produced by Queensland Injury Surveillance Unit point to the fact that large Four Wheel Drives kill small children.

Of course I am prejudiced; I admit that, but I have never even seen a single rational reason why people in the cities actually need a Four Wheel Drive. If it's to do with space, get a wagon!