Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Mind boggling treasurer

Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey was on the radio this morning, waffling on in his usual style. But a couple of his comments really were mind boggling.

First, his complaint that the Opposition was being negative.

This from someone who was very much part of the Opposition which by common consensus was the most negative we've ever had. The party which set the standard for negative opposition.

Joe Hockey: ...In their heart of hearts, the Labor Party knows this; that's why I think everyone's a bit surprised at how negative they have been...

CHRIS UHLMANN: Why is this government bewildered by the fact that the Labor Party is being negative in Opposition when you made that template and they saw how successful it was.

Why would they have a mature debate when you wouldn't have one when you were in opposition?

JOE HOCKEY: Well I don't accept that.

Denial of the obvious truth.

Then another classic of either misunderstanding or a refusal to accept the truth:

JOE HOCKEY: Well, no, no, hang on. Governments do not create jobs; ultimately, businesses create jobs, and you've got to create an environment where business has confidence to go out and invest...

We have, according to their own organisations, something over 1,200,000 public servants in Australia. That's 10% of the workforce and their jobs were created by government.

The full transcript is here.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Enough is enough

Yet another in an endless saga of trucks running amok on our already overcrowded roads.

In Dee Why an out of control truck smashed into eight cars. Six people were hospitalised, one in critical condition.

Photo. John Grainger. Daily Telegraph

The truck driver claimed the brakes failed.  The fleet of his company, Top Express, was checked and two further trucks failed the inspection.

As a result of the crash, police brought forward their planned operation targeting semi-rigid and rigid trucks, such as the truck that crashed.

They pulled over 21 trucks and 14 failed the inspection, including the two from Top Express.

And a driver allegedly tested positive for methamphetamine. He was given a 24-hour driving ban while the sample was tested.

The problem is that with politicians and business in each others' pockets at the expense of the rest of us, this is just going to keep on happening.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The juveniles are in charge

On winning the last election, Tony Abbott declared "the adults are in charge"  - in itself a juvenile remark.

Since then examples of the juvenile attitude of Abbott and many of his front bench have been coming regularly.

The latest include Abbott's aggressive threat to 'shirt front'* Russia's President Putin.

Typical of his hairy-chested, aggressive schoolyard bully-boy persona.

Now we have the idiot Finance Minister Mathias Cormann name-calling, saying Labor leader Bill Shorten is a 'girlie-man'.

Not only is it infantile, it's not even original, having been used regularly by right-wing Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger.

What an embarrassment this lot are.

*'Shirt-fronting' comes from AFL, where it describes the action of one player deliberately crashing chest-on into an opposing player.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Official version vs reality

The ebola outbreak confirms once again the disconnect between the theory laid down by authorities and what actually happens in real life.

It's around us all the time.

Governments tell us how important tourism is to their economy and how they welcome us with open arms - then we meet their Immigration & Customs officers at the airport. And boy, is it different.

Politicians tell us they stand for election because of their desire to make things better for us - then line their own pockets at our expense.

Store owners tell us that we, their customers, are their number one priority - then we have to deal with bored, disinterested staff.

With ebola, governments beyond west Africa have been saying there's no problem, cast-iron protocols are in place and there's no danger of anyone catching the virus.

Then, as in the US, when citizens do catch it, it's obvious that the protocols are far from adequate - and people dealing with patients ignore them anyway.

In Texas, where the original patient died and two nurses contracted the virus from him, another nurse has revealed:  ...scenes of "chaos" at the hospital with staff having no idea how to tackle the virus. She said the hazmat suit she was issued had a large gap in the neck and that materials used to treat suspected Ebola patients were left festering in corridors for days.

She claimed that suspected Ebola patients were wheeled around the hospital without protection and that doctors were told it was acceptable to move between rooms without disinfecting.

Dr Frieden of the US Centres for Disease Control & Infection defended his agency's handling of the Ebola crisis while conceding the agency may have allowed a Texas nurse to fly on a commercial airline even though she was among a group of health-care workers involved in treating the first case of Ebola diagnosed in the nation.

Once again a huge disconnect between theory and practice. Yet real life never seems to be taken into account when protocols are designed. Nor is a system developed for ensuring that people at the bottom of the ladder who have to deliver whatever it is, actually do deliver what was promised.

Amazing difference

Blue Mountains October 2013...

Blue Mountains October 2014...

That the start to Spring this year is way colder than we're used to has shown up clearly in the Blue Mountains.

At the same time that last year that they had temperatures in the high thirties and a bushfire that destroyed two-hundred homes, this year they had snow,

Monday, September 29, 2014

Government bribing dictators

Isn't bribing foreign governments illegal?

Not, apparently, if you're our government.

In the latest move which has appalled the world, a minimum of $40 million of our tax money is to be given to the leaders of Cambodia - universally recognised as one of the most corrupt regimes in the world. In return they will take some refugees who were seeking asylum in Australia.

The UK's The Independent newspaper summed it up nicely: "Canberra’s latest ‘solution’ to its refugee problem has shocked even seasoned observers. 

Under the secretive agreement, Cambodia will resettle an unspecified number of refugees currently held in an Australian-run detention centre on the Pacific island of Nauru. In exchange, as well as paying resettlement costs, Canberra will donate an extra A$40m in aid over the next four years...even seasoned observers of its policy over the past decade are appalled.

Still recovering from civil war, genocide and Vietnamese occupation, Cambodia is one of the world’s poorest nations. It has a shocking human rights record. It has sent asylum-seekers and refugees back to countries from which they fled. Those who escape that fate live on the margins of Cambodian society.

Amnesty International branded the deal “a new low in Australia’s deplorable and inhumane treatment of asylum-seekers”. The UN High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) called it “a worrying departure from international norms”. Alastair Nicholson, a former chief justice of Australia’s Family Court, said it was “inappropriate, immoral and likely illegal”.

Not only an appalling decision but once again we have secrecy instead of transparency, something we've come to expect from the Abbott government, especially from Scott Morrison.

He's the man responsible for this and many other totally unacceptable decisions, but he's lauded as the top-performing Cabinet member, slated for promotion and even more responsibility.

It sums up this government perfectly.

Ideology before reason

"There is absolutely no good reason for the Federal Government to own a private health insurance business today."

Mathias Cormann,

I can tell the Minister for Finance two overriding reasons why Medibank should continue to be publicly owned. In fact I said it back in a March post.

One, it gives a large measure of control over the premiums charged by the private health insurers, using market forces. Instead of laws and regulations - surely an aim of the 'small government' Coalition? - Medibank can exert a strong influence by keeping its premiums under control. Competition - a catch-cry of the Coalition - means the others would need to follow suit.

Two, the hundreds of millions contributed to the federal budget by Medibank would continue year after year. Sell it and you get a very short-term windfall but bugger all in future years.

But no, ideology wins out yet again.