Monthly Archives: December 2013

Can We Eject Tasmania Soon?


Here’s a really interesting link about Tasmania sent in by Skarp. It’s a really interesting read. The basic gist of it is that basically Tasmania doesn’t get better because it doesn’t perceive the need to get better and has developed enough cultural inertia to the point where it will resist forming strong positions to change the status quo, which is basically having and keeping Tasmania as a state of freeloaders on the mainland.

The underlying problem is simple but intractable: Tasmania has developed a way of life, a mode of doing things, a demographic, a culture and associated economy, that reproduces underachievement generation after generation.

Everyone knows the problems; they are manifest, reported day after day. The reality is that Tasmania has bred a dominant social coalition that blocks most proposals to improve. Problems and challenges are debated endlessly, with no resolution. Most discussion avoids mention of the uncomfortable truths at the source of underperformance.

Ultimately, Tasmania doesn’t change because its people don’t really want to. They don’t need to change because their way of life is mainly financed by the mainland. Far from helping overcome this pattern, the nation’s resource-boom prosperity is enabling and cementing Tasmania’s under-achievement. It’s allowing the government to pay an ever-expanding proportion of the population not to work; it’s driving up wages, materials, transport, regulation, exchange rates, and other costs that make Tasmania’s traditional industries uncompetitive; and it’s allowing government to subsidise non-performing industries.

The result is that Tasmanians face little incentive or pressure to change. Unlike New Zealand, which has no rich big brother and must find ways to earn its own living, Tasmania enjoys a permanent and ongoing transfer from mainland cousins that reinforces failure.

The disgust is palpable. 🙂 Heck, I would admit to sharing in that disgust. The scary thing is that Tasmania stills sends Senators who have a disproportionate amount of power relative to population base. If Tasmanian Senators don’t want something, they can really veto stuff even if it’s necessary. Yes, I’m thinking of Brain Harradine, but to a similar extent Bob Brown. Now, Bob Brown is a hero to many people but when you do the sums, he did not represent any where near the same sort of population as a  Senator in NSW or Victoria would have represented. Yes, as Paul Keating use to call them, ‘unrepresentative swill’. To make matters worse, they’re representing people who eschew higher eduction and knowledge:

For the middle class — in Tasmania a much smaller group than elsewhere — education was seen as desirable, but only to a point. Valued above most other concerns was a modest, comfortable lifestyle, the kind that steady government employment guarantees. The ease with which it had become possible in Tasmania to reach this income level and enjoy material security meant that there was little incentive for more education. The introduction of the goods and services tax and the wave of new tax finance provided to Tasmania had facilitated this culture by driving a mini-boom in the early 2000s as the state government added thousands of new public servants and sharply increased their wages, to reach “parity” with the mainland. Flow-on effects raised housing values and precipitated a retail-consumption spurt.

The final source of blockage and failure to take advantage of opportunity is internal division. With prosperity seen to stem largely from government largesse, development in Tasmania is often regarded as a zero-sum game. If one sector or geographic region gains something, it is seen to come at the expense of someone (or somewhere) else. Hence, all opportunities are greeted with an outbreak of conflict over who should get what, usually between the northern and southern halves of the island. The mayor of Launceston famously stated it was more important to him that rival Hobart not be the site of any AFL games, for example, than that more were played in his own city.

Challenging this self-reproducing pattern of failure has not proven easy. Because its origins lie so deep in the culture and population mix, change can probably come only from outside. Either the national taxpayer and federal government will declare “enough” — though there’s little sign of this — or Tasmania will be altered by new arrivals seeking opportunity and a better lifestyle.

Somehow I doubt it. Which is why I want to plant the seed of change; Maybe they’ll change if they feared we would cut them off if they didn’t change their uncompetitive ways.

Some voices within Tasmania do argue that a government-dependent way of life is not sustainable. They believe we can’t go on and will be forced to change. But abundant government finance fuelled by the resources boom and a local demographic and culture that blocks change has rendered that untrue. The ultimate problem is not that Tasmania cannot afford its pattern of failure, but increasingly that it can.

I guess that’s where it leaves us.

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After The Parity Party

Who Benefits More From The Devalued Dollar?

Late last week, RBA boss talked the AUD down, and then quite spectacularly, the Aussie dollar fell through the 90cents barrier.

A new round of jawboning on the need for a lower exchange rate by the Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens pushed the currency below US90¢ on Friday, and the dollar could face further headwinds when the central bank releases its December meeting minutes on Tuesday.

The RBA’s assistant governor Guy Debelle is set to speak at a banking and finance conference in Sydney on the same day, while Mr Stevens fronts the House of Representatives’ Standing Committee on Economics in Canberra on Wednesday.

Both central bank officials have talked down the local currency in recent weeks, stressing that a lower dollar is needed to support growth in export-facing sectors of the economy as mining investment peaks.

“It’s a market that seems to be responsive to jawboning,” Westpac senior currency strategist Sean Callow said about the recent declines in the Australian dollar.“If it was a couple of years ago, I think the market would have brushed off such talk, but it seems there are still investors who will sell it on jawboning, even though the domestic story really isn’t presenting a very compelling case to sell the [Australian dollar].”

The currency could face further headwinds in the form of the federal government’s Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook. It will be released on Tuesday and is expected to reveal increased budget deficits.

Which goes to show the markets are jittery ahead of the possible taper from the QE3. The valuation of the Aussie dollar has been one of those interesting concerns for the past few months because we keep hearing that Australian manufacturing can’t continue withe the Australian Dollar so high. Well, it’s lost close to 15% since the days it was trading at US$1.08, so you have to figure that 90cents was a reasonable level for the AUD to sit. It’s not like the RBA is willing to cut interest rates further from historic lows, so it figures that there would still be enough in the carry trade to make it worth while holding Australian Dollars – not that I’m any expert.

Anyway, in that context, this interesting article floated into view.

“I don’t see why the RBA wants to see the global purchasing power of Australians reduced by 20 per cent in exchange for one percentage point of extra growth,” Mr White told The Australian Financial Review.

Mr White says “targeted deprecation policy” amounts to “a transfer from households through imported inflation to firms through higher profitability,” pointing to rising food and fuel costs as a result of the weaker currency.

“The bottom 50 per cent of income earners have the highest proportion of imported products in their spend,” says White.

“The data would suggest at least 80 per cent of that 50 per cent work in domestic services so they won’t benefit from the increased competitiveness but they will suffer from [things like] higher petrol prices.

“I think moving away from mining investment is a good thing but the weak $A isn’t going to get us there, it will just make Australian mining more competitive,” he says.

Mr White believes there have been fundamental changes in the composition of the economy that should force a rethink in conventional application of policy.

“The structure of the economy has changed. If we were a manufacturing economy, a weak currency would help us but we are not we are a service economy. We don’t have the substitution industries to take advantage of the falling dollar,” he says.

Now, that’s interesting because it has been something of an axiom that the Australian Dollar had to come down, and that it would be good for everybody. I’ve always wondered what the fuel costs would be like under an AUD that fell 20% in value would mean a 25% increase in the same thing.

As in, if the AUD went from 1.00 to 0.80, then  you would need 1.25 times the currency to get the same purchasing power as before. That’s a 25% inflation on imported goods being slapped on right there. Any drop in percentage will have to be reflected in a larger number in inflation. So if the RBA really was looking for say,a maximum 3% inflation, it couldn’t be asking for more than a 2.9% drop.

Now, of course there are things that would and should go down as a result of the Australian Dollar dropping in value, but if you’re already trading in Australian Dollars, it’s not going to help. So from the consumer’s point of view, this James White is correct, the fall in AUD is in fact robbing us of our purchasing power, while the benefits of the fall are likely to go right by us. Like this James White fellow I’m yet to figure out how the 20% drop for the sake of 1% growth is really all that a great trade off, especially if it’s courting a 20% inflation of imported products.

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Grim Tales

Living The Orwellian Dream

Like most news coming out of North Korea, this business of Kim Jong-Un purging his uncle is more than a little grotesque. I guess it’s one thing to remove somebody you find threatening, it’s entirely another thing to execute them and make them an object lesson. Fortunately most of us don’t have to make such choices, but all the same, one is confronted by the very blood-thirsty nature of power plays in dictatorships.

Before his arrest Mr Jang sought foreign investment for a country that lacks hard currency, overseeing special economic zones near the border with China. Mr Jang represented a “China wing” of the leadership that was very close to Beijing, Professor Armstrong said.

Mr Jang’s crimes included “overtly and covertly standing in the way of settling the issue of succession” when Mr Kim was readying to take over from his father, longtime ruler Kim Jong-il, KCNA said, describing him as a traitor with a “dirty political ambition”.

“Despicable human scum Jang, who was worse than a dog, perpetrated thrice-cursed acts of treachery in betrayal of such profound trust and warmest paternal love shown by the party and the leader for him,” KCNA said.

There have been other news of people getting purged and executed by the new tyrant. None of this terribly comforting to read because in all honesty, this kind of institutionally violent human being is at the helm of a nation that wants to have nuclear weapons. A man ready and willing to be a kin-slayer in order to hold power is a very frightening man. The news sticks out because whatever you might think of the disputes between Japan, China and South Korea, North Korea remains the biggest joker in the pack. The speculation is that more purges are likely to follow.

The truly horrible thing about North Korean politics as it stands is that it exists not as an example of an Orwellian Dystopia, but it has gone beyond it to being a kind of parody of an Orwellian Dystopia. There, you would dare not bat an eyelid without it somehow being support of the regime, and Doublethink would be the only way to think. There is no rhyme or reason why the people in the countryside are starved to death while an army that never goes to war exploits the masses so vigorously. Despite sanctions and shaming and international pressure, the Kim regime keeps on going by selling arms and illicit drugs. It’s like n entire nation that has “broken bad”. Perhaps the best way to understand Kim Jong-Un is that he’s a kind of Jesse Pinkman, and he has finally killed his Walter White.

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Government Of Crises

…Government By Crises, For The Sake Of Crises

The Abbotts Family

With each passing day we re-discover this is a pretty awful government. Unfortunately it is also joyless and lacking in efficacy so there’s only ridicule and contempt that can be salvaged from their daily misdeeds. Most days I run into Pleiades, he starts off by telling me how awful the Federal Government is, and how unbelievably incompetent they are followed by a description of the latest cock-up. Lately the cock-ups have been getting worse and taken as a whole, starts to deliver a picture of government that is largely without an agenda worth calling an agenda, and a Prime Minister who so believes in his own rhetorical flourishes, he believes it harder than most people would dare to believe in anything.

Here’s Robert Gottliebsen offering up advice to Tony Abbott in the wake of the Holden-closing-announcement. No.1 reads:

1. At the election Tony Abbott did not seek a mandate from the Australian people to close the automotive industry so he has given Bill Shorten a carbon tax-style issue, which will be particularly effective in South Australia and Victoria. If Shorten follows the Abbott popular appeal formula that the Coalition leader used with such devastation against Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, Shorten will achieve similar opinion poll results. Don’t be surprised if those poor Coalition opinion polls cause leadership change speculation in a year or two.

I’m not sure how forcing GM’s hand into closing Holden’s manufacturing in Australia counts under the “no surprises” thing Mr. Abbott promised Australia. I’d be mightily surprised by the turn of events if I were one of Holden’s assembly line workers. I’m sure they were delighted when Tony Abbott offered up the Olympic Dam mine project as a place to seek their next employment, seeing that BHP shelved that one in August 2012.

Pleiades sent me an article from behind the Pay Wall at Crikey where Paddy Manning runs through the inherent contradictions of the Abbott position (if it could even be called that).

The cargo cult mentality surrounding BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam mine is ridiculous.

Now Prime Minister Tony Abbott seems to be hoping a BHP expansion of the copper/gold/uranium mine will help clean up the damage caused by the government’s bizarre mis-handling of Holden. Abbott told Parliament on Wednesday:
“There is much that we can be hopeful and optimistic about in the resilience of the South Australian economy, particularly if government can do all that is necessary to ensure that the Olympic Dam mine expansion goes ahead.”

If that’s seriously Abbott’s back-up plan, to retrain and redeploy ex-Holden workers in Adelaide at BHP, then nothing could illustrate better that this government is absolutely winging it on the car industry and did not anticipate Holden’s decision yesterday.

It is verging on insulting to Holden’s workers at the doomed Elizabeth plant to tell them they may have a future at a mining project that was shelved in August 2012 after literally years of debate and speculation.

BHP already faced a significant over-expectation problem: in South Australia at least, the $30 billion expansion — which would have converted the underground mine to open-cut, eventually creating the world’s largest hole — was almost expected to cure poverty.

It would be hilarious if it weren’t so tragic.  The worst part is that the Coalition brought it on themselves by pushing for an answer so hard.

For Holden management, which had been in commercial-in-confidence discussions with the government for months, it was a clear signal that the federal cabinet had turned on the company, and wanted a swift end.

Holden staff members were not the only ones listening in to the ”extraordinary” events unfold in Canberra. So was GMH managing director Mike Devereux.

For weeks Holden management had been fighting a battle over the timing of the announcement regarding the company’s manufacturing operations in Australia.

The facts were simple to Mr Devereux’s masters in Detroit. To them, Australia was suffering a severe case of ”Dutch disease” – an economic malaise by which a mining boom had pushed up the local currency and wages for industrial workers.

Without government assistance, head office in Detroit had decided that making cars in Australia no longer added up – to the tune of $3750 a car per year.

Mike Devereaux is putting out the line that the Government isn’t to blame but what are we to make of this debacle but to sheet home the blame to a pugnacious ideologically laden and pragmatically bereft Federal Government. John Birmingham thinks it’s symptomatic of a government that has no sense for working but delicate issues that demand carefully crafted and nuanced answers. He might be right even, but it doesn’t bode well for the years ahead. The best thing would be for a Double Dissolution to rid ourselves of this mob.

Oh, and they can’t even meet their own pledges on the NBN. Surprise!

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Literary Types Only

And The Book Show Is Not Literary Enough!

I just wanted to share this lovely little open letter with you from David Musgrave to the ABC:

Dear Producer

I’m writing in my capacity as board member of Australian Poetry Limited (a not-for-profit national arts organisation), as Publisher at Puncher & Wattmann Pty Ltd (the foremost independent publisher of poetry in Australia) and as one of this country’s leading poets to request that you change the name of your program to the “Non-Poetry Multinational Publisher Product Show” to accurately reflect the content of your program. I am sure that the several thousand like-minded people in Australia who are my colleagues, peers or customers would agree that the rigorous exclusion of poetry from your program, as well as the extreme difficulty an independent publisher has in having their books discussed on your program, means that the current program title “The Book Show” is misleading, implying as it does that all books are given equal consideration.

Poetry is a vital part of our literary culture, yet your program, as with most of the mainstream media, does not even pay lip-service to this important literary art-form. If changing the name of your program is more difficult than merely changing the content to include poetry, I’d be happy to talk to you about how you might go about this.

Yours sincerely,

David Musgrave


Puncher & Wattmann

P.S. You may want to read my blog about this subject.

And if that wasn’t tart enough, here’s his Blog entry. The middle bit reads thusly:

Poetry is an important part of the press, but not the only part – we’re publishing more literary fiction than ever, and in early 2014 we will be releasing the novels Out of Print by Julian Croft and Slush-Pile by Ian Shadwell. A small but growing press like Puncher & Wattmann has to be prepared for the long haul, and to build its readership slowly but steadily. I’m always amazed at how popular poetry readings at the Sydney Writers festival are: every one that I have been involved in has been full to capacity, and I am sure that this is not because I happen to be part of it. The thing about poetry, and interesting writing in general, is that if you present it to a captive audience, they will find it very interesting and engage with it. It’s just that in this day and age it is very difficult for the average reader to seek out new and interesting work apart from the small number of titles which are pushed through the mainstream press, largely by multinational publishers. Even people with a lot of time on their hands, retirees who are interested in reading literature, often don’t know what is worth reading because reviews don’t necessarily help them (even if they do appear in the newspapers) when there might be, say ten books of poetry or literary fiction to choose from in any given month, and they might only really want to read one or two. That’s why small presses, those that hang around for decades, are extremely important for literary culture in this country.

So, take that, boring old establishment!

On another note, it’s interesting that after years of sneering at this blog for being a blog (“what the hells is a blog anyway?”) David has taken to writing his own. 🙂 So, I’ve added a link to it on the right.

Now. If only I could get him to return my calls…

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Holden Quits On Australia

Hits To The Id

I don’t know how the average Aussie rev head deals with this. Not only has Ford pulled up stumps on manufacturing in Australia, but today we find that General Motors is going to stop manufacturing automobiles in Australia. The first thing that popped into my mind was how will the standard white Aussie bloke deal with this blow to his masculinity? Personally, I don’t really care if cars are made here or not. If not, then there’s a personal argument in favour of cutting all the damn tariffs and having cheaper cars in Australia – much as they do in New Zealand. Yet, I think o all that testosterone and petrol-fumed love of things like V8 Supercar and utes and Mount Panorama and Peter Brock and Dick Johnson and Mark Skaife and Craig Lowndes and all that macho posturing, and all of that stuff (frankly, stuff that I find a bit parochial and tinged with Xenophobia) and how the Aussie male self-image is going to handle Holden and Ford selling what are essentially ‘Yank Tanks”.

Jut how will they cope? For once I feel sorry for them. This can’t be fun. It’s a betrayal of the cultural psyche. I’m sort of interested in where they will turn to bolster their cultural faith. Or will they continue to cheer the badges? How will this affect the self-image of the standard rev head? Of course this is all minor in comparison to what it means to the economy.

Scanning the headlines, Peter Hartcher as usual has some sanguine truth up and running.

One of the few things that Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott used to agree on was that, if you wanted a prosperous modern economy, you had to have a car industry.

This was news to Switzerland. And Singapore. And Norway. And Denmark. None of these has any car manufacturing, yet all are among the top 10 richest countries in income per person.

Today, the political parties are consumed by furious recriminations over who killed Holden. This is entertaining but irrelevant.

A car industry is neither necessary nor sufficient for national prosperity. So what is necessary? The task of leading debate and setting policy falls to the treasurer and the prime minister.

Rather than relying on Holden, Australia’s economic future depends on Hockey. Is he up to it? We are about to find out.

If you thought that was brutal, try this one from Elizabeth Knight:

GM is teaching Australia a very clear lesson: they are closing up shop because it is in their commercial interests. Our future lies in innovation – not propping up an industry that serves no purpose other than an antiquated sovereign status symbol.

The future of Australian manufacturing has been written off too quickly. Productivity in many areas has been progressing at an improving clip. And while recent studies from the Grattan Institute show that manufacturing’s share of the economy has been shrinking it has also been moving up the technology scale.

But more importantly, if the tax and regulatory frameworks that foster innovation were developed, the natural commercial advantages that we possess as a highly educated society could be capitalised.

Maybe if the focus was shifted to the opportunities squandered by ignoring innovation, rather than the sometimes dubious calculations of the multiplier effect on the economy of building assembly line cars, Australia could get an edge on all those other OECD countries that also prop up ailing car manufacturers.

It wont be popular, but it hits the nail on the head. The future form of the NBN is a much bigger issue than whether we keep this dinosaur industry which isn’t even selling to Australians. Need we say more?

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News That’s Fit To Punt – 10/Dec/2013

I’ve had an abominamble month with computers and mobile phones and cars. Retired is my trusty 2009 Quadcore Mac Tower, replaced by a Mac Mini that runs 50% faster and is much more quiet. While it was inevitable, and the Mac Mini is a place-holder until I sort myself out for the new Mac Pro, the phone thing and the transferring data and account thing and the car thing has made it nearly impossible to blog.

So… I’m back. And I don’t have a whole lot to say except nyah-nyah to the editor of the Sydney Morning Herald.

Their Bed Of Roses

One of the weirder spectacles of the last federal election of course was the endorsement handed out to Tony Abbot by the Fairfax group (excepting the Age in Melbourne who rightly saw the NBN as the deal breaker), led by the Sydney Morning Herald. It was as if the editor of the paper hadn’t bothered reading their own paper and proceeded to hand undeserved accolades to Tony Abbott on the grounds of stability. Well, we know how that went, and in less than 100days since taking office Tony Abbott and his Coalition government has squandered its electoral goodwill, and not for once has the editor of the SMH complained about his government’s performance.

In that light the joy that keeps giving is the sight of the SMH editorial that lambasts the Abbott Government for their shortfalls, pitfalls and pratfalls.

The Herald believes Abbott has a mandate to scrap the tax but doing so will have virtually no impact on Australia’s economic future and leave it with an untested alternative. It is a symptom of a larger problem.

Abbott was a successful opposition leader, adept at knocking down but not rebuilding; criticising but not explaining. Now he is struggling to find – let alone create – a core vision for the nation beyond dispensing with Labor’s legacy.

Making matters worse, Abbott’s strategy before the election was to defuse contentious policy challenges by promising them away or pledging to seek a mandate first.

I don’t know about you, but I have to tell you it’s quite unseemly that the editor of the SMH has to write an editorial like this, having vigorously endorsed the said purpose-less Prime Minister on the way in. The truth of it, as it was on election day and before, Tony Abbott was always going to bring in a duplicitous, mendacious, largely ideological, backward looking pack of cultural dinosaurs into office. To that end he exercised immense duplicity, mendacity, ideological gobbledegook, and retrograde sloganeering to get into office. All of us with any power of observation (and reading – for we learned this from news sites) could have told the editor this was the case, and this load of duplicity, mendacity, ideological obtuseness and obscurantist fascism would not translate well into being a fit and proper government. If there is any thing to be gleaned from all this, I will say this: that this Abbott government will one day be thrown out with equal parts bad faith and bad science, and their names destroyed by this duplicity, mendacity and fascism. As Abraham Lincoln said, you can fool some of the people all of the time, and all the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all the people, all of the time. And fool you once, shame on them, but fool you twice… you probably voted for John Howard in ’98.

It’s only been 3months but it’s already getting old beating up on the editor of the Sydney Morning Herald who *foolishly* – yes ever so retarded-ly – backed Tony Abbott on election day. Yes, you sir, remain a fool.

Speaking Of Which, That NBN Thingy!

In case you missed it, the NBN is going to be able to deliver world class speed of up to 1GBps by the end of this year. We’re talking 3 weeks.

Australians linked to the national broadband network will be able to get world-leading internet download speeds of one gigabit per second by the end of this year, the company building the network will announce on Friday.

While some countries such as Japan are moving even further ahead with 2Gbps connections, Australia’s coming 1Gbps capability is the same speed as Google’s cutting edge fibre network in several US cities.

An entire movie could be pulled down in several seconds using the service, which is about 100 times faster than the average speeds offered by ADSL connections. But most people would not see the true benefit of 1Gbps for another 10 years, when households would have multiple rooms streaming super high definition video from the internet, according to Professor Rod Tucker, director of the institute for a broadband-enabled society at the University of Melbourne.

“The average person who does regular internet activities is probably not going to notice much difference today,” Professor Tucker said. ”Where I think it will make a difference is in small businesses.”

Independent telecommunications analyst Paul Budde said right now only about 5 per cent of people, mainly small businesses, would be able to make use of the increased speed.

The wholesale price for the 1Gbps service will be $150 a month, though retailers will add a margin to this. NBN Co will also launch two other high speed services – 250Mbps and 500 Mbps – by December.

The scary thing is that Coalition Government still want to hobble this great infrastructure project because it’s allegedly a waste. The single biggest beneficiaries will be the tech sector followed by other assorted small businesses, but no, Tony Abbott wants to slow this down and saddle it with the truly pathetic Telstra copper network.

Telstra has never revealed how much it spends maintaining the network each year and its own descriptions of the life span range from three to 100 years.

The state of the customer access network, as it is known, directly affects the cost and speed of implementing the proposed fibre-to-the-node network because unusable sections of copper must be repaired or replaced with fibre.

Fault rates have increased in the past seven years from about 13 per cent in 2006-07 to 18 per cent, or 1 million faults, in 2011-12, according to figures published by the communications regulator.

However, a spokesman for the expected incoming communications minister, Malcolm Turnbull, said copper maintenance costs were not cited by any telco in the world as a reason to replace wires with a full fibre network, and the most common cause of faults was accidental digging through phone lines.

”In areas where the [network] is deployed using fibre to the node, the most error-prone parts of the copper – the large bundles running between nodes and exchanges – will be replaced by fibre,” he said.

Which does not really give you a whole lot of encouragement about where the Coalition sees this as going. It’s like we have a government that is hell bent on fucking up the most important infrastructure project going. Of course this bunch want to be known as Infrastructure mavens but they mean concrete-pouring for more roads. It’s worse than pathetic, it’s totally misguided.

Whither Double Dissolution?

Pleiades sent in this interesting entry. Actually he’s been sending me lots of interesting things but this one is probably most relevant.

So why is this all a problem for Tony Abbott?

Today’s Newspoll, published in The Australian, shows a rapid cooling of the relationship between voters and the Coalition government. Newspoll shows that based on 2013 preference flows (in the House of Representatives), an election today would return a Bill Shorten Labor government, 52 per cent to 48 per cent in two-party-preferred terms.

Most commentators believe the Tony Abbott/Christopher Pyne mishandling of the Gonski reforms is to blame, but the flare-ups with Indonesia and China can’t have helped.

There is also a strong whiff of cooked-books coming from Treasurer Hockey’s office – the $8.8 billion he shovelled into the Reserve Bank of Australia’s capital reserves was widely criticised as a way to blow out the budget now, to look good later.

So if a Western Australian election is held before the new Senate sits on July 1, there could be some very large swings, and major re-routing of preferences.

That translates into a scenario where the Carbon Tax repeal gets rejected before the new Senate comes in; followed by a new election for the Senate in WA, resulting in another Senate that the Coalition does not control; which would knock out the Carbon Tax repeal and give Tony Abbott his card for a double dissolution except it’s likely Abbott’s electoral support would be less than ideal to contest an election. At that point it would be a choice between going to the polls to try and get that mandate or giving up on the biggest thing they promised when they went in.

Goes to show that the brand of crash-or-crash-through brand of politics deployed by Abbott has the interesting side effect that it destroys the institutional support that might have come to you had you not behaved like a bull in a china shop. Life is, if nothing else, interesting.

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