Sunday, December 30, 2012

No, I didn't

Back in Dubai after sampling some of the culinary delights of Singapore for a few days.

I did give some of the offerings a miss though


I didn't even bother to ask exactly what the  two pieces of froggy were. His legs perhaps.

Like the pig organ soup I saw advertised in several places, I decided not to try it.

Monday, December 24, 2012

To Singapore

Looks like a good time to be away from Sydney, with a headline in today's Sydney Morning Herald saying "Wild Christmas weather across Sydney"
 
Photo Nick Moir. Sydney Morning Herald

In Richmond, north-west of Sydney, the temperature was 39C, then dropped five degrees in five minutes as the storm hit, dumping rain and hail.

With the perfect weather here in Dubai it's good to be here, but we're off to Singapore this evening, where we're told it hasn't rained for ages, which is unusual. It'll still be warm and humid though, I'm sure, it always is.

We haven't been there for quite a while so we're looking forward to it.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Dubai at its best

Just about perfect weather in Dubai right now.

Bright sunshine all day. Mid to high twenties celcius daytime, a little under twenty at night.

It rained one day about a week ago so the dust was washed off the buildings and greenery and the place is sparkling.

Our apartment is in Dubai Marina which is probably 90% complete now - very different from the handful of buldings and virtually no facilities when we moved back here in 2005.


There's a big choice for people who want to take to the water of Dubai Marina. An RTA ferry, various water tours on traditional wooden dhows or modern motor cruisers, self-drive hire boats and a choice of floating restaurants.


There must be over a hundred restaurants and cafes now, plus plenty of supermarkets, convenience stores, pharmacies, medical centres, a shopping mall, hotels and hotel apartments, even a fire station.

Sparkling during the day it's also beautiful at night with not only the restaurants covered in lights but with the shape of the date palms picked out in lights too.


We're enjoying it.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Away for the holidays

Back in Dubai now, arrived early this morning,  and on Christmas Eve we're heading to Singapore for a few days.

It's certainly cooling off here. There was rain on Monday and when we went out for coffee this morning it really felt chilly. It was about 19C but there was a cooler wind coming in off the sea making it feel a good bit less than that.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Race to the bottom

It's been a depressing time the past week or so if you're concerned about standards and where we're at as a society.

Banks given huge fines for money laundering but, even though they've broken laws, can't be prosecuted because they're too big, too powerful.

Politicians and businessmen being exposed by ICAC (New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption) for colluding with tip-offs and government approvals to help each other make tens of millions of dollars.

A federal judge, to the surprise of no-one, throwing out the case against Peter Slipper as 'abuse of process' involving politicians intent on bringing down the government, lawyers, PR people and Murdoch 'journalists'.

The exposure of the commercial radio staple, hysterically funny to their listeners, of what's given the innocent-sounding description of  'prank calls' - in fact infantile, spiteful calls designed to embarrass or humiliate people.

Ongoing corruption in the building industry highlighted by the Bankstown apartment fire in which a student died.  That's put the spotlight on the system of apartment block approvals in NSW being open to abuse, because since deregulation developers buy their certification from private certifiers.

The very dodgy relationship between government and clubs, especially where poker machines are concerned.  It's been going on for years but a good example cropped up when a club was given approval to install over 100 extra machines in return for 'a donation to the local community'. (That's one of the favourite sound bites of the pokies/club industry - supporting the local community). In reality the 'donation' was for the club to build a new grandsand for itself.

Standards, what standards?


Here's a list of links to more on each of the stories:

Banks too big

ICAC

Abuse of process

Radio

Apartment blocks

Pokies



Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Climate change?

I can't believe the weather we're having.  Thirty degrees one day, seventeen the next.

Two weeks before Christmas and we're wearing our winter sweaters and raincoats.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Humiliating people isn't funny

I ran out of time, otherwise I was going to comment yesterday about the infantile stupidity of the two 2DAY FM presenters who made a hoax call to the Duchess of Cambridge's hospital.

Events overnight made me find time today.

Who these morons call is irrelevant to me, I just hate the whole childishness of hoax telephone calls.

Supporters call them ' harmless pranks'  but they're much more than that.

It's nothing but "Look at me, I'm cleverer than you. You're stupid" designed to embarrass and humiliate the person receiving the call. It has no place in adult life, it should be left behind in the schoolyard after the age of about six.

There are calls to women telling them their husbands are being unfaithful, calls to students telling them they've failed their exams. Now a call to a woman struggling with illness in hospital. It's not clever, it's not funny, it's not adult, it's not responsible. It's plain infantile nastiness masquerading as humour.

The latest' prank' was applauded widely here in Oz by media types although, not for the first time, they were out of step with majority public opinion.

According to the Herald the radio station realised it was facing a backlash from the public, two thirds of whom regarded the stunt as cruel, according to one poll. Their Facebook page has thousands of comments, most expressing outrage.

Yet up to yesterday the papers were talking about a harmless prank, all good fun. Christine Sams in the Sydney Morning Herald told us that "in Australia, those who are well practised in this art of japery said on Thursday that the British outrage over the phone call...is what makes it so good".

Her report includued comments from other media people, such as:  "It's funny and I think (the radio station) was wrong to apologise". "Prank calls are really legitimate...". "Three cheers to them, I think they've done an amazing job...the joke went really well. Anyone who doesn't laugh at this story, and works in the media, is angry they didn't do it themselves".

The story finished: Despite the official public apology from Austereo, Greig and Christian were said to be privately delighted by the global reaction. Their names (and the 2DayFM brand) have made headlines across the world.

It's all changed now though, after the worst possible outcome with news that a nurse on the receiving end has killed herself.

2DAY FM 'apologised' but the herald confirms that more than seven hours after Jacintha Saldanha's death, 2Day FM's website was still plugging its royal scoop, which one of the presenters insisted was just a "big fat joke".

We obviously don't agree and the latest news is that after the huge backlash major companies such as Coles and Telstra have pulled their advertising from the station.

What is amazing me is the two radio presenters are still getting support from people who should know better.

For example, ex-Victorian Premier Jeff Kennet said today he hoped the Australian public would support the two radio hosts involved in the 'prank'. There was nothing wrong with the 2DayFM prank and the radio hosts should be given support, he said.

"Now they will be under extraordinary pressure and I just hope that they get our support and that their employer provides them with the professional support to help them get through what will be a terrible few weeks," Mr Kennett told ABC radio".

So suddenly they are the victims!

In an obvious move to get onside with the public mood the media has suddenly changed from 'perfectly normal, typical FM radio harmless prank" to throwing up their hands in horror.

Amongst it all I thought an editorial in the Herald hit the nail on the head: What holds a civilised society together is an understanding of action and consequence, a duty of care to each other that allows some elasticity for fair mischief and good humour, but does not contravene a handful of basic tenets: humanity, dignity, compassion, respect.

By the way, 2Day FM is the station found to have breached the ''decency provision'' of the broadcasting code when presenter Kyle Sandilands called a female journalist a ''fat slag'' and a ''piece of shit'' on air because she'd dared to criticise him.

The culture of a company is set and maintained by management. 2Day FM's management and board need to be held accountable for what is done in the station's name.


Todays extensive coverage in Sydney Morning Herald is here.



Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Let's call it 'White Elephant Theme Park'

A big announcement this week, that a half-billion dollar Chinese 'cultural theme park' is planned for Wyong, here on the NSW Central Coast.

Excuse my cynicism but it smells to me like one of those grandiose ideas of which I've seen so many, which never happened.

There's just a hint of that in a couple of lines from a report in our local paper:

At a previous meeting a spokesperson for the development company said it had already received support in principle from the Chinese government, which was important in attracting the necessary private funding to develop the centre.

That was followed by the chairman of the developer saying that "...we will now work hard to start detailed planning".

It's all so familiar - float an outrageous idea with broad, generic ideas, before finance is in place or plans are actually prepared.

Apart from all that, I'm struggling to understand the whole project.  A Chinese theme park is hardly appropriate, in keeping, with the Central Coast.

It reminds me of the idea back in the eighties for a Chinese junk to sail tourists around Sydney Harbour. Naturally that was a non starter - on Hong Kong Harbour yes, but Sydney...?

According to the press reports the planned theme park will include  'a full size replica of Beijing's Forbidden City' and 'Panda Paradise' which will have no pandas.

Right.

We're told a start will be made on the project sometime in 2015 with completion in 2020.

Watch this space.


The full announcement


Monday, December 03, 2012

Man bites dog bites man

I did like the report of a man who, when arrested by police, thought it would be a good idea to bite a police dog.

Not surprisingly Dexter the dog took exception to the treatment and did what any sensible dog would do - bit him back.

Dexter, as you would expect, was better at it than the man.



Man bites dog

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Scraping the bottom of the barrel

Back in Oz and just about over the tiredness and jetlag from the trip back.

The federal pollies are back scraping the bottom of the barrel, especially the opposition. We have the so-obvious ploy of  Tony Abbott going on a 'positive' offensive - and in case we're in any doubt he's using the word 'positive' over and over again in his speeches.

He would normally be leading the personal attacks on Julia Gillard but he's using Julie Bishop as his attack dog in much the same way that John Winston Howard used him, Abbott, as his attack dog. Abbott is just sitting there trying to look innocent.

For the last two days they've used Question Time to do nothing but attack the PM. Forget the country, forget questioning government policy, decisions or performance which affect the country and us. Every question relates to their latest attack theme, her time as a lawyer two decades ago.

Bishop has even accused Gillard of criminal behaviour, an accusation she rapidly backed away from.

In NSW we have former ministers and senior party men embroiled in all sorts of dodgy, even illegal, money making schemes. The current government, like previous governments, looking after their mates and themselves rather than the state and us.

So nothing changes on the political front, at federal and state level.

On the TV news yesterday a big thing was made of the fact that analogue TV had been switched off, replaced by digital. They were almost hyperventilating with excitement, telling us the new age would give us 'better pictures, better, sound and more channels'.

It's all bullshit of course. What it demonstrated was that the thing that actually matters, content, wasn't in anyone's thinking. Thought is only going into the hardwatre, none into software.

Whether it's in analogue or digital, black or white, plasma screen, 3D...the problem is that content is crap.

The fact is that digital will simply give us better pictures and better sound of crap.

More channels simply means that crap will be even more readily available, the same programmes repeated on channel after channel.

There just isn't enough content - of any standard, let alone of any quality - to fill the channels we already have.

We have repeats of crap from decades ago. Even old black and white sitcoms are being rerun over and over again.

They pump out British things that were mildly amusing on occasion when they were made.  On The Buses for example, which finished its original airing forty years ago. And  Mind Your Language, its original run ending thirty years ago.

It's depressing.







Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Flammable cladding

Following the tower block fire I posted about yesterday there's a lot of talk about the need for fire rated materials to be used in cladding.

You can see why from the photo I took this morning:


The fancy structure on top of the building was the same as its twin on the right but most of it ignited, obviously making the fire much worse than it should have been.

It was the flaming debris from this structure which fell to the ground, causing eleven vehicles to burst into flames.

Apparently the need for a new code of practice was already under discussion but I'd say this example makes urgent implementation a must.

Now I must start getting organised for the flight back to Oz. I'll be there tomorrow.

Towering inferno

Every tower block resident's nightmare, a fire during the night. 

It happened yesterday in Dubai, in the development next to ours, about 2 kilometres away, in a 34 storey tower.


Photos from emirates247.com

The fire began at 2am, with everone sleeping at that time of course, but the fire alarms activated and thankfully all six hundred residents got out with no casualties reported. Adjacent towers were evacuated as a precaution.

The fire brigade were on the scene within four minutes apparently, with fifteen fire fighting teams plus police and extra water tankers.  It took them six hours to extinguish the fire. Firefighters searched every apartment to make sure no-one was inside.

It could have been so much worse - the apartments on the top three floors were destroyed, eleven vehicles parked at the bottom of the building were destroyed by fire after burning debris fell onto them. And of course, there's extensive damage to the facade.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Cardinal Pell true to form

In disgust at Cardinal Pell's appalling 'we are the victims' statements I was planning to write a follow-up to my  uncovering the cover up  post on institutional child abuse.

But Mike Carlton has said so much better than I could exactly what I would have tried to say.

Here it is, from this morning's Sydney Morning Herald:

Grave of mien, choosing each word with studied care, every inch a prince of Rome, Cardinal George Pell defied the accusers.

The sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests had been exaggerated, he told a news conference in Sydney on Tuesday. There was a "press campaign" against the church, with "general smears that we are covering up and moving people around''.

"We object to being described as the only cab on the rank … because there is a persistent press campaign focused largely on us, that does not mean we are largely the principal culprits.''

With those few sentences, Australia's most senior Catholic churchman flung aside any lingering shred of moral authority attached either to his person or his office as the Cardinal Archbishop of Sydney. There were one or two perfunctory remarks about "shame" delivered in that familiar treacly baritone, but that was it. Strip away the apostolic airs and he could have been a flack for James Hardie assuring the world that the dangers of the company's asbestos products had been rather overblown.

It was monstrous. It was despicable. To portray the church as a victim in this filthy business was an Orwellian reversal of the polarity of right and wrong, truth and fiction. With self-serving hypocrisy, Pell delivered yet another slap in the face to those hundreds if not thousands of children, and their families, who suffered abuse. For the rest of us, it was an insult to the intelligence.

Nobody is suggesting the Catholic church is the only cab on the rank. In Australia and worldwide, this epidemic of child abuse has extended across the Christian denominations and into schools, state institutions, the Boy Scouts, and sports clubs and teams. In my extended family, I know of a young boy in country NSW abused by an Anglican rector. The brute was quietly moved on when his crimes were discovered. Just this week in Britain, a retired Bishop of Gloucester in the Church of England was arrested on suspicion of sexual offences committed against eight boys as young as 12.

But the truly sickening thing about the Catholic church was the sinister cover-up, which ran for decades and which, for all we know, might still be happening. The statistics are there, and they are shocking. At a parliamentary inquiry in Melbourne last month, a deputy commissioner of the Victoria Police, Graham Ashton, revealed that since 1956 there had been 2110 sexual offences against 519 child victims in that state alone, about 70 per cent of them committed by Catholic priests, brothers or teachers. Not one of those crimes had ever been reported to the police by the church, he said. Not one.

Like the Bourbons, Pell has learnt nothing and forgotten nothing. For him, the primacy of the church is all. His pastoral failure is absolute.

He seems to suggest that 'we're not the only ones doing it' is an acceptable defence.

I've never liked the man, I've never thought he was the right man for the job and I'd be delighted to see him go. He certainly should now, if not for the cover-ups during his watch then for these appalling pronouncements.


Mike Carlton in SMH

Friday, November 16, 2012

Lazy cop syndrome

The other day Professor Geoffrey Alpert, a US expert on the use of force by police, appeared before the Coroner's inquiry into the death of Roberto Curti. He calls  heavy reliance on tasers by police 'lazy cop syndrome.'

I posted about this a couple of weeks ago.    I said then that using the Taser on average three times a day showed that police used the weapon much too readily, and it had obviously replaced negotiation, conversation, reasoning.

Prof Alpert said: "In looking at thousands of uses of force, we found that police officers were turning too early to using the taser and too often used the taser. It turns out it's a weapon of convenience as opposed to a weapon that is necessary."

The Coroner's findings in the Curti inquest are now in, and what a damning summing up it was. Not only of the officers involved but also of police procedures. And of the inevitable cover up by those involved.
 
 NSW Coroner Mary Jerram said the pack of officers who chased Curti acted like  "schoolboys in Lord of the Flies", "a number of the officers were ... reckless, careless, dangerous and excessively forceful". "(Their actions) were an abuse of police powers, in some instances even thuggish."

Coroner Jerram said many officers had lied to the inquest and "conveniently forgotten" evidence. She said the most senior officer present, Inspector Gregory Cooper, gave evidence that was so conflicting and self-serving it "hardly deserves narration".

It all sounds so familiar doesn't it.

She recommended that five officers be disciplined and the actions of police during the pursuit and restraint be referred to the Police Integrity Commission.

As for what are obviously chaotic police procedures, the Sydney Morning Herald reports that she  called for "an immediate review of the vague and confusing standard operating procedures relating to the use of capsicum spray, Tasers, handcuffs, restraint and positional asphyxia, particularly the use of multiple Taser shots and its "drive stun mode" as a pain compliance tool."

The Police Commisioner made all the right noises after the findings, but it's all happened before and much the same things were said. Nothing has changed.


Sydney Morning Herald report.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Uncovering the cover up

Many years overdue but at last there's to be be a Royal Commission into child abuse within various institutions.

Even better, it will investigate the way complaints have been handled - read, covered up - by those institutions.

To my mind the cover ups have been at least as bad as the abuse.

Kept in-house, no action taken against the perpetrators, who were simply moved somewhere else. And all too often carried on with their criminal activities.

And there's no doubt in my mind that very, very senior people were involved in the cover ups.

Regardless of their position, anyone found to have concealed criminal activity must be
charged accordingly. Moving a perpetrator who subsequently abused more children should mean the superior who moved him is charged with aiding and abetting.

I've never been able to get my head around why victims or their families lodge their complaints to the very institution responsible for the abuse.

A priest is the abuser...so he's reported to someone else in the same church. The abuser is a scoutmaster, so the complain is made to the scout movement.

Makes no sense at all to me. If the complaints had been made to the police, as they should have been, maybe it would all have been dealt with decades ago and many children spared the trauma of abuse.

The terms of reference for the Royal Commission are still being worked out but the Prime Minister said it would investigate the abuse by a wide range of institutions as well as the manner in which they've dealt with complaints. She also said she expected the investigation would go back several decades.

I sincerely hope there are jail terms looming and although I'm not holding my breath I trust that position and status won't spare anyone found guilty.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Uh?


A sign I came across this morning. Fish 'n' chips, if I'm reading the sign correctly, is not British but an authentic Emirati dish.

Back in Dubai

The usual very tiring flight to Dubai from Sydney, arrived at 6am and and I'm struggling.

Emirates has a choice of one-stop flights (Bangkok for example) or non-stop. I used to prefer the stopper because at least you get off the aircraft, stretch your legs, break the monotony. The downside is the extra time added to the journey.

The last few trips I've changed to preferring to get it over with as soon as possible so it's now the non-stop flights each way. A 777 one way, A380 the other.

Coming from Oz it's obviously uphill and takes a bit longer, fourteen and a half hours is flight time. It wasn't a bad flight, a bit bumpy the first three hours or so but then smooth for most of the rest of the way. Just the odd few minutes of bumping over potholes two or three times.

Once again the magic e-gate system refused to recognise my fingerprint. I got a new card a few months back and was told I didn't need to re-scan my fingerprint because it was all already in the computer. But the last three or four times it's refused to recognise me so I might try to find time to go back to the e-gate office and ask whether they should redo it.

Weather's just about perfect now. Low humidity, very little wind, low thirties celcius and of course non-stop sunshine.

After no rain for many weeks back on the Central Coast, and a very unhappy looking garden, the forecast is for some on Thursday and Friday, including thunderstorms. Nothing major - about 20mm they're saying - but that would equal waht we've had the whole of spring so far.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Shock, horror. Police misuse Tasers.

Surely no-one was naive enough to believe that if police were issued with Tasers they wouldn't use them in place of negotiation?

Why bother to try to talk someone into doing as you tell them when you can simply Taser them into submission.

The misuse of the weapon has been constantly in the news since the death of Roberto Curti back in March.  Now the NSW Ombudsman has reviewed 556 cases of police using Tasers between June and November 2010. 

While he found inappropriate use in a minority of case, that's an awful lot of tasering in a six month period. 556 timers in 183 days means that three times a day, every day, people are tasered by NSW police.

The Ombudsmans's report included video of some of the cases and the blatant misuse couldn't be more obvious.

For example, a man kneeling on the floor, hands behind his head, facing the police. Completely submissive.

The police officer is screaming "ON THE FLOOR! ON THE FLOOR!. The man is on the floor for God's sake! He's on his knees.

The officer presumably wanted him to lie on the floor, but he didn't say so.

So he shouted "Taser, Taser, Taser" and shot the man with the Taser.

Harmless, submissive, not threatening in any way.

That's just one of 27 cases where the Ombudsman found inappropriate use and there were 53 cases where a Taser was armed and drawn but not used.

You know, it takes my memory back to bad bushfires a few years ago. I remember a TV report showing police turning residents back when they wanted to go to their homes to fight the fires. One man argued and the officer reached for his gun.  He didn't draw it but the threat was evident and the homeowner retreated. Completely inappropriate behaviour by the policeman.

I'm also reminded of the shooting of a mentally ill man in Sydney in 2009. Sergeant Sheree Bissett shouted "Taser, Taser Taser" but had drawn her pistol and shot him dead.

Paramedics in the room said the man was non-threatening and you'd be excused for thinking it was another  inappropriate Tasering gone wrong.

The Ombudsman said that  existing procedures for Taser use were 'unclear, confusing or silent on some important areas'.

I'd say that using them three times a day is plenty confirmation of that.

Regardless of the situation - compliant person, person running away, person handcuffed, person already capsicum sprayed, officer in no danger - if the person doesn't instantly obey a screamed order, police go for the Taser.

The case that brought Taser use into the news was the death of Roberto Curti, although as that was in March it was outside the period of the Ombudsman's review.

Curti was running away, police were in no danger. There were eleven officers all over him. He had three cans of capsicum spray emptied into his face, he was hit with a police baton, he was Tasered fourteen times, including while he was on the ground, handcuffed.

A coroner's inquest is still to hand down its findings into his death.

While the inappropriate use of the weapon is a small percentage of the number of  times ít's used, the daily use of it has to be of concern.

It's obviously replaced negotiation, conversation, reasoning.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Fisher polluters

Local Sydney ABC radio has run a couple of reports about the sea eagle chick injured by swallowing a hook & line.

The nest is in Sydney Olympic Park, where a camera was set up some years ago to watch the pair of eagles and any chicks they had.

Recently one of the chicks was seen to be in some sort of trouble, so as the nest is 20 metres up a gum tree a cherry-picker was taken in so that rangers could investigate more closely.

They found that the chick had a large hook stuck halfway down its throat, plus a length of fishing line.

It ended well as the chick was operated on, the hook & line removed and it was returned safely to the nest.

The parents are feeding the chicks and one of the rangers said: "...they have obviously either taken a fish that had line or was discarded along the edge of the river."

She urged people to clean up all their fishing line, hooks and bait after fishing, as many birds accidentally eat the rubbish with dire results.

Some hope.

This area is full of waterways - sea, lagoons, lakes - and we have beach fishing, rock fishing, fishing from boats, from lake and lagoon banks. There are a lot of what we must now call 'fishers' and far too many of them demonstrate they're little more than vandals and polluters.

I've seen them swinging large fish over their heads and smashing their heads on the rocks. I've seen them slicing and gutting live fish as soon as they pull them from the water.

A few weeks ago on Terrigal beach I saw a swimmer trying to help a seagull that was caught in line and drowning. 

Everywhere there's rubbish left by the fishers. Especially line, metres and metres of it, but also hooks, weights and plastic bags.

I regularly pick up rubbish they abandon on the rock platforms and put it safely in the bins.

Radical action to get it under control is way overdue.


The ABC report, and links, are here.







Friday, October 12, 2012

Safety barriers?

There was a crash on the M4 yesterday involving a couple of trucks and three or four other vehicles.

The biggest problem seemed to be a totally inadequate and unsafe central 'safety barrier'.

One of the trucks hit the concrete barrier and simply scattered it across three lanes, the truck crossing onto the oncoming lanes and hitting a car.

Photo: Janie Barrett Sydney Morning Herald
 
There's an urgent need for an an investigation into the use of these patently unsafe barriers. They obviously need to be replaced with a barrier that actually does what it's intended to do - keep vehicles travelling in opposite directions away from each other.  Not only on the M4 but anywhere else they've been used.
 
And the people responsible for recommending and approving the use of these useless concrete blocks need to be held accountable and fired.
 
But that's a fantasy world of course. In our real world the concrete will be put back in place, there'll be no investigation and the incompetent morons responsible for it will simply carry on as they are.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Mutual loathing

The federal political scene is getting more and more personal, the mutual dislike between Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott being made obvious.

"Misogyny" is being thrown about, routinely used to describe Abbott.

As so often these days, a wrong word is used.

It means 'woman hater' and I really don't accept that's an accurate description of the Mad Monk.

Like his mentor John Winston Howard he has a nineteen-fifties mindset, which he's trying to reconcile with living in the twenty-first century. As a result he puts out conflicting messages.

Wheeling Mrs Abbott out to tell us he was really warm and cuddly I thought was a pointless exercise.

You wouldn't expect her to say anything else, and her version of Tony may well be what she and their daughters see. But it's not the image he projects to the rest of the country.

For years he was Howard's attack dog. He's naturally belligerent and aggressive. He has an unfortunate strutting, swaggering walk. His body language and speech delivery is aggressive.

Nothing Mrs Abbott tells us will change the impression that gives us.

Misogynyst he's not though, and I wouldn't even say he generally has a problem dealing with women.

The real problem is his obvious loathing of Julia Gillard. In a tied election she out-politicked him to beat him to the job he desperately wanted, and it's obvious he can't handle that.

News of Australia around the world is usually nothing more than crocodiles, bushfires or Great Barrier Reef destruction. To have political stories appearing is very rare but Gillard's anti-Abbott rant in parliament the other day has hit the headlines all over. The comment is just about all positive too, she's a real hit internationally.

Our papers cover it and the fallout extensively too. Problem is, our media ignores the important stuff that's going on in parliament and only reports the personal abuse, scandals like Slipper/Thomson - the gossip.

The important stuff that's happening, such as policy, bills being passed, is ignored as though none of it is happening.

More balanced and extensive reporting of what's actually happening would be of real benefit.





Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Free feed


It's much easier than swimming around trying to catch your own fish.

Friday, October 05, 2012

The fires are here

Two rainy years means we have a lot of greenery, the landscape looking very lush.

For about the last right weeks we've had no rain so the greenery has dried out and turned into fuel for bushfires.

Yesterday and today the temperature has been in the thirties celcius and today there have been very strong winds. Perfect fire weather.

We have two on the Central Coast, this one I saw from Terrigal:

 
At Wyee a fire that started yesterday was brought under control but has reignited. The Rural Fire Service says Wyee is  'Watch & Act' status. Their website advises:
Current Situation
The fire started yesterday in the area around Wyee Road. Under hot and windy conditions today, the fire is burning more intensely.

Firefighters are working to protect properties in Rutleys Road where homes are under threat due to the southerly winds.

More serious is the Pretty Beach fire, which has jumped containment lines and is threatening property.

The RFS has issued an Emergency Warning. Their website says:  An Emergency Alert telephone warning has been sent to homes in the area and Police are undertaking controlled evacuations on High View Road.

Fifteen minutes ago the situation was:

Current Situation

The fire is burning in Very High fire danger conditions and is expected to impact on properties any time in the next two hours.
 
Under these conditions, fires are uncontrollable, unpredictable and fast-moving. Embers will be blown up to 4km ahead of the fire, creating spot fires that will move quickly and in different directions. These spot fires may threaten your home earlier than the predicted main fire front.
 
It looks like we're in for a long, bad fire season.


Thursday, October 04, 2012

The grass is greener...

I was reading the other day that the explosion of greenery caused by the last two years of rain has also caused an explosion in the number of feral animals.

It's the natural order of things - an increase in food supply means an increase in animal numbers.

One of the feral problems we have of course is rabbits.

Cute, cuddly they may be but they aren't native, they breed like, well, like rabbits, and they cause huge problems.

Over the past few weeks for the first time ever I've been seeing them in our garden.

A very big one, a medium size one and yesterdfay three little ones.


 
What I don't understand is what's attracting them to the garden. It was a jungle when we got back after six years away, so I've stripped it right back to virtually bare earth so that I can re-plant.
 
Just the other side of the back fence is empty land, full of grass and other green stuff.
 

Yet they ignore that, preferring to squeeze under the fence and scratch around for the odd bit of weed.

I know about 'the grass being greener on the other side of the fence' but we don't have any bloody grass!

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Enough is enough

A couple of things making news that we could really do without.

First, the bigger of the two stories, by media coverage and public involvement, is the Alan Jones saga.

Actually, I suggest that it's less about one shock jock than it is about the toxic nature of comment surrounding our political life.

The Parrot has a history of bigotted, biased, inflamatory ranting. His open contempt for the PM - and the toxic atmosphere - I posted about  here  last year.

He makes no secret of his hatred for the Prime Minister but he went way too far this time, causing outrage by saying her recently deceased father 'died of shame because of his daughter's lies'.

He was a great supporter, by the way, of John Winston Howard. He of never-ever a GST, children overboard, core and non-core promises, troops in Iraq while he was denying that a decision had been made to join the invasion forces, broken promises to hand over power to Peter Costello.  No fury from Jones about lies then.

This latest attack on Julia Gillard was a typical smug, smart-arse comment from the dinosaur that plays well with his far-right audience, but it was an insult too far for a huge number of people.

So far, 80,000 people have signed an online petition demanding that advertisers withdraw from his show on radio 2GB. Many have; others which haven't are being bombarded on their Facebook pages to do so.

The people responsible for the toxicity, like Jones, won't stop unless there's a real, sustained public backlash.

The shock jocks will still have their audience of like-minded dinosaurs but maybe the withdrawal of advertising dollars will give their employers reason for thought.

And if the bad poll results for Tony Abbot are maintained maybe he'll pull his head in too. Although with his obviously belligerent, personality - shown by his position as Howard's attack dog and his aggressive  tone in opposition - I doubt it. But maybe the electorate's dislike of him will give his party reason for thought.

Let's hope the pressure is maintained to take us back to sensible, reasoned, adult political debate.


The second story is the continuing mistreatment of animals involved in our live export trade.

"AUSTRALIAN sheep have been clubbed, stabbed and buried alive during a crude cull of animals in Pakistan", the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

We know how animals are treated in the places we export live animals to. When it gets media coverage there's pretended surprise at what's going on, pretended horror about it.

Then there are squeals about the jobs and money we'd lose if we stopped the live export trade.

We have laws to protect animals in this country and in my opinion they should apply across the board. That includes not allowing animals to be exported live, which exposes them to a stressful, dangerous journey followed by slaughter not in accordance with our laws.


If you want to read more, the mistreatment of sheep is here  and a couple worth reading on Jones are here  and  here.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Throwing resources at the problem

One of the obvious differences between Dubai, or the Gulf in general, and Oz is that when something needs to be done in Dubai resources are thrown at it.

You see it particularly with construction.

In Oz when we build a road there'll be days when there's no activity at all, then a truck with five or six men turns up; a couple poke around with shovels, one drives a digger, two are lollipop men...

In Dubai busloads of workers and fleets of machinery pour all over the site day after day.

For example, here's a shift of construction labourers from one site waiting for the bus back to their accommodation:


I was reminded of it when I read about the robbery of a money exchange in Dubai, in The National newspaper.

Crime is relatively rare in Dubai but of course it does happen. In this case a couple of men burst into a money exchange, threatened staff with a pistol and ran off with the equivalent of about A$250,000 in cash.

Within a couple of hours police were outside the apartment they were hiding in and took them into custody.

 I'm sure that's at least in part due to the resources thrown at it.

The National tells us: "Within five minutes of the heist 243 police officers had been deployed to hunt down the robbers. Officers took less than two hours to identify an address in Bur Dubai where they believed the robbers were hiding."

Two hundred and forty three police officers.

Here the scenario would more likely have been a couple of constables in a car arriving at the shop ten or fifteen minutes after the event, spending the next two hours taking statements.




The story is here.






Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Neanderthal gene

It's fairly standard these days that after violence of some sort we get photos of the accused's supporters leaving court.
 
After the recent Sydney violence, the excuse for which was the amateur video about the prophet Mohammed, here they are:
 
 
Photo. Walter Peeters. Sydney Morning Herald
 
What struck me, yet again, was that this bunch are simply clones of all the others.
 
Random attacks on strangers, as we had recently in Kings Cross, violence at football matches, protests that turn violent, ethnic clashes...there's a common denominator.
 
The participants.
 
Identical young males. In spite of their claim for some sort of individuality or difference from each other, they're identical. Same clothing, same build, same attitude, same body language and obviously from the same gene pool.
 
If we want to reduce gratuitous violence maybe that's something for the geneticists to work on.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Another religious own goal

The protests over the totally irrelevant amateur video made by one of the world's too many religious nutters - this time an Egyptian Coptic Christian with a long criminal record - have spread to Sydney.

So naturally another bunch of religious nutters took to the streets on a violent protest that left nutters and police injured.

They carried moronic signs such as ''Behead all those who insult the prophet'', ''Obama, we love Osama'' and ''Our dead are in paradise, your dead are in hell''.

I was going to write along the lines that it was so utterly cretinous that you could almost hear the conspracy theorists planning to tell us it was a CIA plot to discredit Muslims.

But I read an open letter from Peter FitzSimons in this morning's Sun Herald that summed it up so well I decided simply to repeat it here:



HAVE we Sydney-siders got this straight?

Because on the other side of the Pacific, somewhere in California, some loser has thrown together some kind of amateur internet video insulting your particular god, you think it justifiable to:
  • Take over the Sydney CBD.
  • Cause willful damage to property.
  • Throw rocks at police officers who are doing nothing more than their duty.
  • Hold up such ludicrous signs as “Behead all those who insult the prophet.”
We have to ask: Do you have the first clue as to the ramifications of your actions? Do you not understand that the net result of such irresponsible, appalling action is to give ample fuel to every racist in the country to reinforce every bad stereotype they have ever had of you, and that will affect badly the hundreds of thousands of other peaceful and law-abiding Islamic Australians?

In short, WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING?!
Get this straight, and quickly: some of you may be from countries where this kind of thing is acceptable. But it is NOT acceptable in this country.

In this country you are free to worship whatever god you damn well please. Others are free to worship their gods.

And I am free to say it is all nonsense over imaginary friends.

But you are not free to create the mayhem you did yesterday, simply because you don't like a freaking video!

Racists have said for years, “If you don't like the way we do things here, go back to where you came from.” The net result of your actions yesterday is that – for those people specifically disgracing themselves in the CBD yesterday, not the vast bulk of Islamic Australians – much of the country now feels the same.

Nice work.


An Open Letter from Peter FitzSimons

Friday, September 14, 2012

As I was saying...

Back at the end of June I wrote a post titled  The Greens are gone  after the performance of their new leader on TV about their position on asylum seekers.

Today our local paper has a piece about last week's local elections:

Greens Sue Wynn perplexed by Greens poor showing

ANGRY, no; annoyed, no; perplexed, yes.

They are some of the feelings of former Greens councillor and deputy mayor Sue Wynn this week after being dumped by voters at Saturday's Wyong Council elections.

"I don't know what more I could have done," she said as she reviewed the disastrous performance of the Greens statewide.

There's no mystery as far as I'm concerned.



ExpressAdvocate story is here.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Same old

There's a lot of media coverage about the drop in commodity prices, especially iron ore and coal, the inevitable slowdown to the mining boom (or what the media is calling an end to the boom), deferred investment in new mines/expansion of mines and in mining infrastructure.

And of course, all dominated by the emotional bogeyman of job losses.

Job losses dominate all thought here it seems, without much thought about a wider picture. A day doesn't pass without headlines screaming  'job losses'.

The cut to education budgets here in NSW resulted in calls to radio stations this morning, virtually all I heard complaining about job losses. I didn't hear one talk about the need to improve educational standards, or to get better value for money. But I digress...

In reality it's all just yet another example of how business operates.  There's a boom, businesses rush to expand, pile on staff, ignore cost restraints, make all sorts of investment plans. The boom will never end.

Some of it, like hiring staff and ignoring cost controls, can be done instantly so they are.  Other things take more time...and often that time is longer than the boom lasts.

Panic.

Reverse everything you just did. Contract the business. Start looking at cost control. Fire staff in their droves. Ditch the money-raising for investments, put the investment 'on hold'.

That's when the media starts pushing the doom & gloom agenda, especially concentrating on job losses.   Note that they didn't give blanket coverage to job creation stories at the beginning of the boom, by the way.

I keep seeing 'hundreds lose jobs in coalmine closure' stories but I didn't see any 'coalmine hires hundreds' stories earlier.

Over the years, in different places,  I've seen the same old situation repeated over and over again in boom-bust cycles.

Way back, the advertising business was booming, agencies expanded, staff were hired by the thousand, long expense account lunches, costs not controlled. It inevitably came to an end, the lean years were back and the fat had to be cut out of the agencies. Job losses equalled the earlier job gains. Over-extended companies disappeared, swallowed up by bigger rivals.

Back in the eighties Sydney didn't have enough hotel rooms for booming domestic business travel and inbound tourism, companies tried to cash in on the boom and many new hotels were built. But they take two or three years to complete, by which time the boom was over. Business plummeted, staff were 'let go'. Many of the buildings had to be converted into apartments.

In Dubai (and Ireland, Spain, China et al) the recent real estate boom fuelled by cheap money at close to zero interest rates. Too many companies tried to cash in on the boom, resulting in too many properties for not enough buyers.  The boom ended, as they always do.  Thousands of jobs went, projects were cancelled, companies went bust, properties were left vacant.

Across the world the current (no, we're not clear of it yet) global financial crisis caused the usual panic. Businesses in all sectors were caught up in it, not just construction and finance. Companies contracted in an instant, millions of people who'd been hired during the fat years suddenly lost their jobs. Previously ignored cost controls suddenly became  number one priority.

History teaches us lessons but we always ignore them. Each time there's a boom business does the same thing, borrowing, expanding, hiring, at rates based on the boom never ending. And when it does end, they do the same panicky contraction.

It amuses me that each time it's treated as something new.









Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Oceanic collateral damage

Most of the fuss about the super trawler that's here to trawl our waters is about the huge catch it's capable of.  It's licensed to take eighteen thousand tonnes of 'mainly' mackeral and red bait fish.

But if the super trawler isn't used, presumably a fleet of smaller boats could be licensed to bring in the same catch.

I think a bigger concern is the so-called 'bycatch'. Like the euphemistic 'collateral damage' used to describe innocent victims of war, 'bycatch' means seals, dolphins, sealions, and many other kinds of fish, which will be caught up in the super trawler's 600 metre long nets.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Simply too costly

For a long time now many retailers have complained that we're encouraged to buy online from overseas because GST isn't charged on purchases less than $1,000.

Today it's reported that Mike Baird,  NSW Treasurer, wants that GST-free threshold for goods bought online from overseas retailers cut to around $30.

Reported in the Herald he talked mainly about the additional revenue the government would collect, and that makes sense.

But he also said it was so that our retailers could compete on a level playing field, repeating that on radio this morning, and that's nonsense.

Buying from overseas gives us a hugely bigger choice and cheaper prices, whether it's online or in person.

A massive problem that Australia has is our ridiculously high costs. Not just for consumers and business here but when we try to compete on the world stage.

But just on retail, Australians are travelling overseas more - nearly five million trips last year - and we see how the range of products and prices leave what we're offered here for dead.

I travel regularly and I haven't bought clothes, digital cameras, perfumes, cosmetics in Australia for years.

Look at these leather jackets:
 
 
I bought them in Dubai for AED140 each. That's A$35.
 
On my last trip to Dubai I bought two pairs of Reebok trainers from the Reebok store in Dubai Marina Mall. They were AED120 (A$30) a pair.
 
A caller to ABC radion during a discussion of the GST proposal summed it up clearly.
 
She worked in drapery shops but bought material online from overseas. She made the point that the range offered was many times larger than what was on offer here and she bought it retail at the same price the retailers here pay for it wholesale.
 
Adding GST will add a few dollars to what it costs us to buy online from overseas, will help the cash-strapped state budgets, but it certainly won't encourage us to buy from local retailers.
 
Like so many businesses here the real problem retailers have is the high costs we all labour under. Plus bad management and bad marketing.
 
Ridiculously high rents, ridiculously high fit out costs, high wages with extras like penalty rates, superannuation contributions & leave loading, high taxes, high freight costs.
 
They have the system of importation/wholesale/retail distribution, the price doubled at each handling.
 
And yet all retailers sell on is price. No marketing, no value for money message, no selling of quality, just price.
 
They make price the only reason to buy. They got away with it when we didn''t have the opportunity to see how bloody expensive their prices were in comparison with overseas retailers.
 
We're doing what they've always told us to do. We're buying on price, but we're getting better prices overseas.
 
It's too late to wind back salaries and no politician would dare try to remove the 'entitlements' that add to the wages bill.
 
But other factors need to be looked at. Rents, taxes, freight, the cost of getting anything done, like shop fitouts. 
 
But we desperately need better management and we need to learn how to market products and services rather than simply selling on price.
 
No point trying to sell on price when your price isn't competitive.
 
 

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Dry, warm, windy - and an early start to the fire season

Only five days into spring but we have a total fire ban over much of NSW today.

We also have a severe weather warning for damaging winds.

Temperature is 27C with very low humidity, winds gusting up to 100kph.  The heavy rainfall of the past couple of years encouraged growth, but with no rain to speak of last month there's plenty of tinder-dry fuel for fires.

That combination creates the worst conditions for firefighters to face.

Sydney Morning Herald has a map showing more than fifty fires currently burning. Some are hazard burns, including a couple that have jumped containment lines, others are new fires. They stretch all along the coast and there are several in the west.

In the south near Jindabyne an old house has been destroyed and several other properties are in imminent danger.

It looks like it's going to be a long, hard, bad fire season.



Sydney Morning Herald story/map   here

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Perfect workplace

Forget the desk in a badly lit office. With a laptop you can work from anywhere...

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Bad news digging

I posted  a few weeks ago  about the media's role in the mood of depression hanging over Australia.
 
This in spite of us being one of very few countries which didn't go into recession during the GFC, which has a strong economy, low unemployment, high salaries.
 
Yet the media goes out of its way to ignore good news while it digs around to find bad news stories.
 
There's a classic of the kind with the lead story in this morning's Sydney Morning Herald business section.

 
 
The report begins by telling us: "AUSTRALIA faces a run on its currency, a deeper collapse in housing prices and a bank funding crisis to rival Europe's as it attempts to come to grips with life after the mining boom"

But then it tells us this is the prediction (ie crystal ball gazing guesswork) of  'a boutique US advisory firm.'

If that isn't digging around to find bad news stories and giving them undue prominence, I don't know what is.


The Sydney Morning Herald story  is here.
 
 
 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Good to bad

We've just enjoyed the warmest August day for seventeen years, at 27C. And only 21% humidity.

The sort of winter day I can live with.

A beautifully warm sunny morning, spring in the air.

It's not all good news though because later in the day we've had winds gusting up to 100kph.  That's caused the usual chaos. trees down all over the city, bringing power lines with them. We have nearly 20,000 houses without power across Sydney and into the Blue Mountains.

Roads are covered in trees and other debris, traffic lights are out of course and a rail line is closed because of a tree across the tracks. Absolute chaos for the peak hour trip home.

Emergency services are dealing with over 600 calls for assistance, including the fire brigade which had to cut a woman from her car which had been crushed by a falling tree..

It's a real problem that happens several times a year but no action is ever taken to limit the damage and costs.

We have huge gum trees in most suburbs, towering over houses and roads. They're evergreen and branches die off constantly, ready to fall on anyone and anything below them



Then we have the ugly power lines that visually pollute every suburb, hanging from wooden poles. The branches and trees fall on them, down they come and off goes the power.

 

And of course in the bushfire season, the live power lines are brought down and start fires.

Councils refuse permission for dangerous trees to be removed. I've even had refusal to lop a dangerous branch off a huge Liquid Amber which later came down, breaking an outside tap causing a major water leak and wrecking the garden fence.

And in spite of the huge increases in our electricity prices, 51% of which goes towards poles and lines according to my latest outrageous bill, power lines aren't put where they should be - underground.









Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Unfortunate name


DooDoo isn't a name I'd choose for a company, other people obviously think differently.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Dangerous driving is universal

The one advantage of being in Dubai during the worst of the summer weather is that half the population is on holiday avoiding it. That means the notorious traffic is thinner than normal with roads easy to drive along, no jams that I've met and parking space available.

It's not all good news though. This year there's a problem due to Ramadan, with drivers stressed out having not had a drink, a bite to eat or a cigarette for fifteen hours, dashing home for Iftar, the fast-breaking meal at sunset.

There is, too, the perennial problem of bad and dangerous drivers anyway. Thankfully at least there are less of them at this time of year.

The problems are highlighted in two articles in this morning's Gulf News.

The first is headlined: 'Iftar rush leads to 441 crashes'.

BTW, I'm pleased to see that they're using the word 'crash' rather than 'accident' - something I nagged about over the years on my Life in Dubai  blog.

In the three weeks since the beginning of Ramadan there have been 441 crashes between 6.30 and 7.30 pm.

Dubai Police's Brigadier General Omar Abdul Aziz Al Shamsi, Director of Command & Control Room at the Department of Operations summed it up well:
"During this one particular hour before and after iftar, people tend to drive very fast and recklessly, do not leave sufficient distance between vehicles, do not stay in their lane and overall have poor concentration on the roads."

The second article gives a good idea of the levels of dangerous driving we're exposed to and the fact that dangerous driving knows no gender or national boundaries.

Traffic stats have been released for the second quarter of this year and they show the ranking for fines.

Top of the list is a woman, a Bangladeshi, who racked up AED201,140 in fines, most for speeding. That's about A$50,000. In three months. About three offences a day! Solidly, for three months.

The silver medal also goes to a woman, a Syrian, who managed even more offences at 288 and fines totalling AED186,900 (nearly A$47,000).

The men then came into their own, an Egyptian with AED169,420 (A$42,000),  an Indian with AED137,400 (a$34,000) and an Iraqi with AED135,100 (A$33,000).




The original articles are here:
Iftar crashes.
Traffic offences.



Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Back in Dubai

I'm back in Dubai for a couple of weeks.

Left Oz in perfect winter weather - sunny, cloudless and daytime 20C - and arrived in Dubai's worst summer weather. Daytime high forties celcius, nightime down to mid thirties, high humidity and, the worst part, strong winds whipping up the dust and sand.

It's also Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month, so eating and drinking in public during daylight hours is banned.

There are a few cafes open, screened off from public view, with a special exemption licence from Dubai Municipality.  Thankfully I can get my morning caffeine hit at Dome in Madinat Jumeirah.  Dome is an Aussie franchise and my usual morning coffee shop.

Following a world-wide trend my morning broadsheet paper, Gulf News, has gone tabloid since I was last here. Berliner size in fact. For someone who's read broadsheets all his life it's a disaster, I hate it. Sydney Morning Herald has announced that it too will go Berliner soon, so I'll just have to adjust.

There's a 'trial' of an Express Path for Immigration at Sydney airport. Emirates gave me a pass to use it and it's another of those 'initiatives' that had me shaking my head because it ignores the bleedin' obvious and doesn't need a trial.

The problem at most airports is unmanned desks and long queues at the few which are manned.

Sydney's 'Express Path' is simply an additional section of Immigration desks, absolutely identical to the non-express section.

I would have thought it was blindingly obvious that if you open more desks you clear people through faster. You don't need to have an 'express' section, just more manned desks.

And if you do have a section for a limited number of selected travellers it won't have queues, so it will inevitably be 'express'. You don't need a trial to establish that.

Naturally there were no queues so I sailed straight through.

Then at Dubai airport the e-Gate was playing up as usual, randomly letting some cardholders through but refusing entry to others. Including me.

After five tries I gave up and went to the officer on the desk to be stamped through.

I've had the same problem arriving at Sydney. Scan my biometric passport, look at the camera and...refused entry. Go to the desk to be manually stamped through.

Still, at both airports it's a lot quicker even done manually than queuing in the general section.




Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Give them a break

The Olympics are highlighting something that really annoys me about the coverage of sports on television. It's not confined to the Olympics, it's been happening for the last few years in many sports covered by TV.

It's the interviewing of sportspeople the moment they come off the track/field or out of the pool.

It's not only that they aren't given even a minute to gather their thoughts, it's also before they've had a chance to get their breath back after a supreme effort.

Trying to get words out between gasps for breath, talking completely off the cuff without having given any thought to what's just happened.

Sports administrators need to give more thought to their athletes and insist that they're given at least a few minutes to catch thier breath and composure before they can be interviewed.

And the TV stations should give us, the viewers, more consideration. Let's have sensible interviews with athletes who can talk without puffing and blowing and who've have had time to think their effort through and give us considered information.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A bad system

The just-concluded Victorian by-election highlighted some of the anomalies in our electoral system, although I see very little comment about the issues.

There are two in particular that I've long believed need addressing.

For starters, voting is compulsory yet one of the two major parties didn't bother to field a candidate.

It's obvious that there are people in the electorate who wish to vote for the Liberal/National coalition.  Although they have to vote by law, the coalition offered them no candidate.

They had a choice of Labor, Greens or fringe candidates such as Family First, Australian Christians and the Australian Sex Party. So they have to vote for candidates they don't want to vote for.

For either of the major parties to not field a candidate in any electorate is showing utter contempt for the voters. It also makes a nonsense of compulsory voting.

The other issue is the system of preferences.

The Greens candidate was given about 500 more votes than the Labor candidate, but the shonky backroom preference deals that our elections attract gave the seat to Labor.


And showing up another anomaly in the system, we have a winner even though about two-thirds of the electors voted against her.


The preferences nonsense is detailed here:
Victorian Electoral Commission

Monday, July 23, 2012

A feral group

Continuing on from my last two posts, it's becoming increasingly clear that the thugs involved are part of a feral group.

It's been revealed that Kieran Loveridge, detained on one murder and three assault charges, has a brother also facing a murder charge.

Corrie Loveridge is charged with the stabbing murder in December 2010 of a seventeen year old.

Tally so far, two brothers and one mate. The gang will be bigger than that, mindless violence obviously comes naturally to them so I wonder how long it will be before more of them are brought before the courts.

They have no place in civilized society and they must be permanently removed.

Friday, July 20, 2012

This is not a child

The young thug who hospitalised a cameraman at yesterday's court hearing of his friend charged with murder has pleaded guilty.

Hardly an earth shattering decision, given that the offence was committed in full public view and recorded by all the cameramen present.

Sensibly, bail was refused and he'll appear for sentencing on July 27. I sincerely hope the sentence will reflect the violence of the crime ...although I fear it won't because of his age.

And that raises an important point.

He's seventeen years old, as big as a grown man, committed the violence deliberately, knowing full well what he was doing.


Photo. Anthony Johnson Sydney Morning Herald

Yet he appeared before the Children's Court. And he can't be named because he's a minor.

That's not appropriate. There needs to be a drastic reduction in the age at which a person is still treated as a child in need of protection in this legal sense.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Cull the neanderthals

A cull of the neanderthals wreaking mindless violence on innocent people is long overdue.

We've had Kings Cross in the news all week after another series of violent assaults, one leading to the death of teenager Thomas Kelly.

He was walking along minding his own business when he was king hit by a total stranger. He fell, smashing his head on the footpath.

The Cross is Sydney's centre of the alcohol and drug fuelled violence. Sickeningly and predictably we have  plenty of hand wringing from the people who've allowed, encouraged even, the deterioration of the place. Bloody hypocrites.

It has hundreds of bars and 'nightclubs' packed into a tiny area licensed to stay open until 5am. Limited police presence. No transport. Up to 30,000 people packing into it over weekends, many fuelled up even before they go out.

And of course it attracts the loonies, the neanderthals.

After amassing evidence, police arrested eighteen year old Kieran Loveridge. He's not only charged with Thomas' murder but also with three other asaults, all within an hour and all similarly random, mindless attacks.

The charges are that five minutes before he killed Thomas Kelly he assaulted a seventeen year old boy, forty-five minutes later he assaulted a man, then assaulted yet another man five minutes after that.

Appearing in court today a crowd of his supporters also turned up...bringing their mindless violence with them.

A seventeen year old mate head-charged cameramen, smashing one to the ground. He was knocked unconcious when he hit his head on the footpath. That's eerily reminiscent of what happened to Thomas Kelly.

This neanderthal was also arrested and is charged with assault causing actual bodily harm.

It demonstrates just what a problem we have with so many brainless morons debasing our society. Right outside the court and in full public view with cameras rolling, this one does exactly what his mate is in court for.

We really have to remove thugs like these from our society. If we don't, more innocent people are going to be injured and killed and we can kiss goodbye to civilised society.


All the news outlets are carrying the story; here's one:
Channel 7 News