Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Late cyclone

While we've had record rainfall after record heat, Far North Queensland is currently getting battered by a late-season cyclone.

It's a bad one too. Category 4 and close to Category 5. It's just hit the Whitsunday Islands, with gusts of 263kph reported at Hamilton Island.

Now it's headed to the coast at Bowen but it looks like an area of over 100 kilometres will be affected.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Weather report

After several weeks with unusually high temperatures - high thirties C and up to forty on several days - we went into the beginning of autumn, which is March here in Oz of course, and the rain hit us.

Twenty of the first twenty four days had rain or showers, the most in March for over thirty years apparently.

A break in the rain gave me a chance to spend some time trying to tidy the garden and I almost walked into this:


I'm not sure whether it's dangerous but I wouldn't want to find it in my shoe.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Them & Us is alive and well

Like much of the world, Australia is seeing an increasing divide between the privileged few and the majority. And here we also have an increasing sense of entitlement being demonstrated by  those in power, politically and in business.

And of course that's entitlement at the expense of the rest of us.

There's been an endless stream of examples for a long time, and more examples have cropped up in the past few days.

There's a plan to reduce Sunday penalty rates for various low-paid workers in retail pharmacies, full-time hospitality workers and those in the fast food industry. (Utterly ridiculous that very specific groups are cherry-picked, but that's another story).

Fairfax Media on Sunday called various business bodies, the Business Council and the like, which have been pushing for the cut and are now applauding it.

They say that these days Sunday is just another day, not the 'day of rest' it once was, to spend with family.

No prizes for guessing that all of them were closed for the weekend.

For them the weekend is still sacrosanct. For them, different rules apply.

And the pollies are still at the rorting, the lying, and still getting away with it.

The parliamentary pecuniary interests register was set up so that their employers - us - know what their assets are and so that we can see conflicts of interest.

Under the rules, MPs are required to declare all shareholdings and real estate assets, including the location of the property and the purpose for which it is being used. This includes any shareholdings or property owned by the parliamentarian's spouse. Anyone who doesn't properly declare their interests risks being found in "serious contempt" of Parliament.

The declaration must be made within 35 days of purchasing the asset.

The screeching Michaelia Cash, federal Employment Minister, 'forgot' to declare a $1.4 million investment property and the mortgage for it.

Only after Fairfax Media raised questions about it did Senator Cash register the deal. She bought the property on November 4, but didn't register it until January 21 and the mortgage wasn't not declared until February 21, almost four months after the deal.

A clear breach of the rules, clearly serious contempt of Parliament...but t the PM said it was an inadvertent oversight and accepted her apology.

Another one off the hook.

But that's far from the treatment they're handing out to literally thousands of Centrelink customers. Forget to declare something to them and an apology is rejected out of hand, penalties applied.

Today the extreme right fringe big-mouth Liberal Cory Bernardi, who left the Liberal Party to start his own Australian Conservatives party, has also been outed.

In 2015 Bernardi and his wife bought a $1 million commercial property in Adelaide, which is now the headquarters for, you guessed it, the Australian Conservatives party.

And it's not declared on the register. He does declare a shareholding in a company called Twenty-Eight KW. He set that up in 2015 and used it to buy the Kent Town building soon after.

You'd be forgiven for thinking he set it up specifically to buy the property wouldn't you.

Questioned, he just gave the finger - "The building is owned by a company. I have declared shares in the company. It's not rocket science".

The rules are specific, shareholdings and real estate must be declared.

Nothing's going to happen about it, naturally. Unlike for any of us who, for example, used the same tactic on the tax office.

It's so obvious why the wider population is heartily sick of them all.


Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Rudderless and leaderless

We really do have a totally inept, divided, incompetent federal government.

Unqualified people appointed as ministers show their lack of ability just about every time they speak. In interviews they obfuscate automatically, waffling on regardless of the actual question. And they usually begin the 'answer' by blaming Labor.

Typical was our utterly useless treasurer on radio this morning - he's the clown who took a lump of coal into parliament saying it was 'clean fuel' - waffling as usual to the point of nearly sending me back to sleep. Asked whether the government would back the Fair Work Commission's proposal to cut Sunday penalty rates he started by saying that Labor had set up the commission, but was cut off by the interviewer asking him to answer the question.

Another example is the appalling Attorney-General - who came up with the 'people have the right to be bigots' statement - before a Senate committee ignoring questions by trying to debate the meaning of individual words in the questions. You Tube has a clip of one of his typical responses: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1_6JuMmx5I

There's also a classic clip on You Tube showing his contempt for both the Senate and the Australian people by petulantly refusing to answer legitimate questions put to him: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CBZyoUaWKzg

Poll after poll is showing voters moving from the Coalition, the latest giving Labor a ten point lead. For once Labor wasn't blamed, but as their default position is that everything is someone else's fault, they decided it was ex-PM Abbott who caused it.

His attack on his own party was typical sour grapes and typical Abbott wrecking. But blaming him for voter dissatisfaction is disingenuous and counter productive.

You can only solve a problem if you first honestly and accurately identify the problem, something the government refuses to do. It's their incompetence, their unpopular policies, their disarray that's the problem.

And, once again, to distract from their problems the Australian Federal Police predictably rolled out another terrorism raid.

They do it with monotonous regularity when the government is having a particularly bad time and it fools very few people. Letter pages and social media are always full of scorn and sarcasm each time it happens.

This raid came after a reported eighteen month operation, so coming a day after the terrible poll results leaves very little doubt about the timing in voters' minds.

The government tried disastrously to shore up their position with the double dissolution election, which reduced their majority to one and gave them more crossbenchers in the Senate. They won't try that again, so we're stuck with them waffling, obfuscating, squabbling and finger pointing until their term is up.

Disastrous for the country, drifting along rudderless and leaderless.


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Monday, February 20, 2017

Land of extremes

I've often said that Australia is a land of extremes and we've sure seen that this last few days in New South Wales.

February's our most humid month and on top of that we've had temperatures up in the high thirties Celsius, and in the west of Sydney up to 46C...and more.

The hot weather was here for days, inevitably bringing bushfires. One down near the ACT destroyed fifteen homes and over 3,000 hectares were burnt.

People were evacuated and thankfully no lives were lost.

Well, no human lives but the animals weren't as lucky.

This photo from the Sydney Morning Herald shows kangaroos desperately trying to get away from the flames.



Then suddenly we had three days of storms, temperature dropped way down into the very low twenties and many suburbs were lashed by hailstorms.

People posted photos on Twitter and Facebook and the size of the hailstones was amazing. This was posted on Twitter by Kaija Ross:


It was a cold night but today the temp is up at 28C, clear blue sky and you'd think the storm didn't happen!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Could have been worse

The heatwave has moved north - Queensland's getting it now - but it's left its mark on NSW with huge areas burnt in over eighty bushfires.

It seems around twenty homes have been lost, with the tiny village of Uarbry all but totally destroyed according to early reports.  Called the Sir Ivan Fire, it had burned over 40,000 hectares by this morning and isn't yet contained. No wonder, the RFS estimates the active fire edge around the blaze as 200 kilometres

People there have lost everything, fleeing in a hurry as the fire tore down on them with just the clothes they were wearing.

The ABC reports farmer Warren Jarvis telling them that his house was "totally gone" when a fire raced over the hill near his property near Cassilis and went "mad".

"My house and all my property is totally gone. Three greyhounds, other cats, all my chooks, probably my sheep and cattle," he said.

Thankfully no-one was killed, but not so lucky for the animals, native and farm stock, and pets. Two firefighters and one civilian have been injured, an amazingly low number considering the extent of the fires,

Saturday, February 11, 2017

We have weather

Much of eastern Australia is in the grip of a heatwave, and we've certainly got that in New South Wales.

Sydney Airport yesterday was over 47C, it was 41C here on the coast. Today is a degree or two cooler but there are dire warnings for tomorrow.

The Rural Fire Service Commissioner has just said that tomorrow's weather will be 'as bad as it gets, the worst possible conditions'' for bushfires. Winds ahead of a southerly change plus high temperatures, low humidity and a huge amount of fuel because of the record winter rainfall have created the conditions.

This afternoon there are 49 bush or grass fires burning across NSW, 17 of which were not contained, according to the RFS.

The official warning level for tomorrow ranges from 'severe' in many areas to  'catastrophic' over a large area from the far west to the coast.and he warns that firefighters may simply be overwhelmed.

In catastrophic conditions he says that grass fires move at 30kph, in bush they move at 10kph, and spot fires can start kilometres ahead of the main fire front.

So he's told everyone to be on high alert and not to delay in evacuating if a fire starts.

Fingers crossed.