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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