Saturday, November 24, 2012
Thursday, August 16, 2012
I saw a copy of the Herald Sun lying on a table whilst waiting at the local GP.
“Why not?” I thought. Silly me, I’d forgot there’d be an Andrew Bolt column.
“How can she remain?” screamed the headline. No prize for guessing who ‘she’ is.
Anyway, the column is typically a polished regurgitation of the stuff he’s pedalled all week on his blog.
Funny how he likes to quote, or rather misquote, from a report of an Expert Panel whose authority he’s refused to accept until he found it could be incrementally milked to support his partisan agenda.
For example, he says the only qualification the Expert Panel made with regard to the Coalition’s boat turn-back policy is that it must be safe to do so and with the “permission or acquiescence” of Indonesia.
3.77 Turning back irregular maritime vessels carrying asylum seekers to Australia can be operationally achieved and can constitute an effective disincentive to such ventures, but only in circumstances where a range of operational, safety of life, diplomatic and legal conditions are met:
- The State to which the vessel is to be returned would need to consent to such a return.
- Turning around a vessel outside Australia’s territorial sea or contiguous zone (that is, in international waters) or ‘steaming’ a vessel intercepted and turned around in Australia’s territorial sea or contiguous zone back through international waters could only be done under international law with the approval of the State in which the vessel is registered (the ‘flag State’).
- A decision to turn around a vessel would need to be made in accordance with Australian domestic law and international law, including non-refoulement obligations, and consider any legal responsibility Australia or operational personnel would have for the consequences to the individuals on board any vessel that was to be turned around.
- Turning around a vessel would need to be conducted consistently with Australia’s obligations under the SOLAS Convention, particularly in relation to those on board the vessel, mindful also of the safety of those Australian officials or Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel involved in any such operation.
The obligation of non-refoulement is perhaps the most problematic ‘operational’ consideration. Strictly speaking, you’d have to do some kind of reasonably rigorous assessment of the claims of each and every asylum seeker on board each and every boat before towing it back out to the open sea.
You see, Doctor Easychair? — it’s all somewhat more complicated than your one-line reformulation for idiots. How many times must we correct your simple-minded reading and comprehension?
Later today I came across a puff piece on our good Doctor Easychair by former Labor leader Mark Latham, e.g.
Bolt, in effect, is Australia’s de facto shadow minister for boat people policy, climate change scepticism, Aboriginal welfare, freedom of speech and the culture wars in general.
Read the above piece in its absurd entirety, then try reading the following sentence without gagging with laughter:
Mark Latham was once the prospective leader of this nation.
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
I only came across this today, but it seems to me a bit of a News £td beat-up or stunt or something...
For cartoonist Bill Leak, the nanny state is real. It has just snuffed out his attempt to launch a new business aimed at poking fun at the government.
Leak had been planning to sell cardboard covers for packets of cigarettes that would have obscured and ridiculed the graphic images of gangrenous legs and cancerous mouths that have been mandated by federal legislation. ...
He made contact with manufacturers and developed the outlines of a business plan. But after he took advice from a Sydney silk about the impact of the government’s plain packaging laws, the project was dead.
The risk of being dragged through the courts was too great. ...
Leak said the law had stifled his ability to make a political point while developing a new business.
“It was an attempt to deploy satire as a weapon against the nanny state, but the nanny state has a bigger, nastier bite than I thought.”
It’s written by Chris Merritt, The Australian’s legal affairs editor who offers no insight whatever on Bill’s “advice from a Sydney silk.”
He features a quote from Nicola Roxon being all defensive about the government’s plain packaging legislation, presenting the A-G as creepily unhumorous while giving no context about what prompted her remarks.
Apparently one of Bill’s mock fag packets was ‘branded’ Roxon’s Nicolatinas. Gee, subversive yet classy. And hysterically funny at some level, I’m sure.
In keeping with the clubby News £td milieu, the story has been picked up by the likes of the IPA and Tim Blair as an example of the imminent threat to free speech by instinctively totalitarian nanny-statists, etc. etc. etc.
Tragic to think in what useful capacity these bods might ever be employable if their imaginary wicked nanny-statists were ever successful in ‘silencing’ them.
Gillard ‘backflip’ is courageous and honourable
In so far as it’s possible to do so in a race to the bottom, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has this week acquitted herself with courage and honour.
When Parliament rose at end of June with the country crying out for a solution to the critical impasse, the PM undertook to abide by whatever recommendations were arrived at by the expert panel.
True to her word she has thus far done so, and at great political cost to herself and her party.
The Opposition’s demand for an apology from the PM is utterly risible. It demurred with regard to the expert panel, sitting with comfort on its hands as the boats kept coming. As Peter van Onselen wrote at the time:
One well-placed Liberal source told The Australian that Abbott would rather see Labor continue to bleed politically with ongoing boat arrivals. If that means deaths at sea continue, he said, so be it.
Or as Graeme Richardson more succinctly put it:
Abbott won’t budge, won’t compromise and won’t lose a wink of sleep over it...
Abbott has apparently “stopped short” of condemning the PM for having “blood on her hands” over deaths at sea since Rudd and Gillard dismantled the Howard-era Pacific Solution.
It remains to be seen whether this is some kind of quaint magnanimity, or whether he simply fears it may come back to bite him in the event Pacific Solution Mk II fails to stop the boats.
As well it may.
I wonder if there’s been a cynical, opportunistic, “blood on their hands” political blame-game in the Euro Zone...
Rescue operations in the Mediterranean are hampered by poor coordination, disputes over responsibility, disincentives for commercial vessels to conduct rescues, and an emphasis on border enforcement, Human Rights Watch said in a briefing paper published today.
People fleeing persecution or seeking a better life attempt the dangerous crossing from the North African coast to Europe, often in unseaworthy and dangerous boats. An Eritrean man lived to tell of the deaths of all 54 of his fellow passengers when their small dinghy sank in the Mediterranean in early July, 2012, bringing the known death toll this year to 170. As many as 13,500 people have died in such efforts at crossing since 1998, including at least 1,500 in 2011, the deadliest on record. [My emphasis.]
Sunday, August 12, 2012
Regime uncertainty and base partisanship
The Catallaxy Files site regularly presents a rich seam of idiocy. Most recently I was amused to read resident Perfessor Sinclair Davidson blaming Rudd and Gillard for Howard Government policy.
The argument is that spiralling energy costs commenced at mid-2007 specifically with the release of the Shergold report on emissions trading.
That enunciation of “vague government policy” contributed a significant inflationary effect on energy prices, by virtue of a handy little construct known as regime uncertainty.
But the Perfessor notes...
We can hardly blame events in 2007 on the Rudd-Gillard government. Well maybe we can.
Well, of course we can! You see, on the release of Shergold’s report...
At that point climate change policy became bipartisan with the Howard government adopting ALP policy...
See how it works? There ain’t nothing that can’t be blamed on the GillardGillardGillard.
There’s a slight difficulty, however, for the Perfessor’s account: Climate change policy in fact became “bipartisan” somewhat earlier than he suggests.
Howard announced Shergold’s Task Group on Emissions Trading in December 2006; thus, it was obviously firmly Coalition policy before even then.
And the Task Group released an Issues Paper in Feb 2007, which surely would have given investors the jitters well before the final report was issued at end-May of that year.
Still, I’m sure such trivial details will present no difficulties for the Perfessor.
Nor will the fact that Gillard after all has now delivered certainty for the energy sector.
Or that Abbott’s blood-oath to repeal carbon pricing arrangements — which, it’s been argued, he’ll be unable to do — can only serve to undermine that certainty, with the consequence of more regime uncertainty to further exacerbate our energy price woes.
So, next time you open another shocker of a power bill... Blame Tony Abbott.
Saturday, August 11, 2012
Innuendo ventured, nothing gained
Andrew Bolt continues to rake over the ‘connection’ between Prime Minister Julia Gillard and the Bruce Wilson/AWU scandal...
The Age and Sydney Morning Herald has typically run dead on this scandal, although it curiously ran this video as the news started to break into the mainstream media. It is an interview with Peter Gordon, who was Gillard’s boss at the time and gives this oddly indirect character reference:
I think she has a very robust sense of her own integrity and she prefers that view to those who would assail it.
Gordon is silent on his own view of that integrity.
That’s actually, er, less than correct. About half a minute earlier in the same video, Gordon in fact says of Gillard...
I do recall about her that she was always very steadfast about her own integrity, even when it was under attack. I think she’s got a very balanced inner sense of what her mission is, and what’s right and wrong.
In their entirety, Gordon’s remarks about Gillard could frankly almost be described as ‘glowing’.
That’s particularly interesting considering that, according to the Gillard biography Bolt himself cites, there were “tensions between Peter Gordon and Bernard Murphy, and Gillard was a Murphy ally.” (Jacqueline Kent, The Making of Julia Gillard, Viking, 2009, p. 93.)
But Gordon’s somewhat glowing estimation of Gillard is, of course, rather inconvenient to the narrative Bolt wants to construct in his post — namely, that Gillard allegedly left Slater & Gordon under (unspecified) disgraceful circumstances.
Sadly for our good Doctor Easychair, all he has is innuendo, informed by his standard selective presentation of material.
When you want to move on from your present employer, ask for the kind of “oddly indirect character reference” like the one Peter Gordon gave for Julia Gillard.
Thursday, July 26, 2012
Fingers crossed in place in WA
Piers Akerman is in full hand-wringing mode about the impasse over the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
Aside from declaring that “Gillard IS the national disability” (nudge, wink), he asserts
WA already has a more generous scheme in place.
Gosh, how very advanced of WA. So, one wonders, how “in place” is this western wonder?
The West Australian Government says it will trial a disability insurance scheme with or without the Federal Government. ...
WA’s Disability Services Minister, Helen Morton, says she has put forward four potential locations to her federal counterpart as the state would like to host a trial.
“We’re very keen, we’ve got our fingers crossed, we hope that we’ll be able to get one of those trial sites up and running,” she said.
One has to wonder about the gulf between Akerman’s conception of “in place” and Morton’s “fingers crossed”.
Oh, and how much “more generous”?
The State Government has not said how much money it will contribute to the NDIS.
In contrast with Akerman just making shit up as it suits him, Andrew Bolt at least has stated flat-out that “I don’t know enough,” but he’s “on high alert” anyway.
And so must we all be, with jokers like these ‘informing’ the national ‘debate’.
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Higgs discovery further explained
Let’s be clearer on the meaning of the claims made earlier this month:
“We observe in our data clear signs of a new particle, at the level of 5 sigma, in the mass region around 126 GeV...” said ATLAS experiment spokesperson Fabiola Gianotti...
“The results are preliminary but the 5 sigma signal at around 125 GeV we’re seeing is dramatic. This is indeed a new particle. We know it must be a boson and it’s the heaviest boson ever found,” said CMS experiment spokesperson Joe Incandela.
CMS is, of course, the Compact Muon Solenoid experiment at CERN’s LHC. They’ve issued their own press statement, which illuminates further:
CMS observes an excess of events at a mass of approximately 125 GeV with a statistical significance of five standard deviations (5 sigma) above background expectations. The probability of the background alone fluctuating up by this amount or more is about one in three million.
And the ATLAS particle physics experiment at LHC, in its own press statement,
...puts the significance of the signal at 5 sigma, meaning that only one experiment in three million would see an apparent signal this strong in a universe without a Higgs.
Now, pardon me while I warp over to a universe without a Higgs to confirm that. (I may be some time.)
Thursday, July 19, 2012
No smoking gun
Peter van Onselen had a column in the Sunday Telegraph in which he contends that the aim of plain packaging of tobacco products is at odds with Wayne Swan’s budget forecast of excise revenue from tobacco.
Along the way he distances himself from the term “nanny-state” while suggesting that plain packaging is a nanny-state thing. Go figure.
But I’m not so much concerned here with van Onselen’s strained polemics against nannyism as I am that he seems to have verballed Health Minister Tanya Plibersek in such a way as to bolster his argument. He wrote:
Just last month, Health Minister Tanya Plibersek said she was “confident that plain packaging will reduce the number of smokers”.
Whereas according to the transcript of the program in which van Onselen interviewed her, Plibersek in fact told him:
Well, we are confident that plain packaging will reduce the number of smokers in the future. [my emphasis]
Van Onselen, like so many who take issue with plain packaging, just does not get that the primary aim of plain packaging is to deter young people from ever taking up the deadly habit. It’s success therefore probably wouldn’t be evident in the shorter term, and therefore would probably have negligible budgetary impact for at least the first few years.
Yet, van Onselen plods on regardless...
It stands to reason that if the government seriously expects smoking rates to decline when plain packaging legislation comes into effect, there would also be an expected decline in tax revenue.
Yet according to the forward estimates in the budget, Treasurer Wayne Swan is relying for his much-anticipated return to surplus in 2012-13 on a largely unchanged windfall from smokers. It’s the same story in subsequent years.
I think that van Onselen might be being somewhat like a dog with a bone on this. Or maybe I haven’t properly followed his diabolically clever argument? At any rate, I tweeted him a query last night regarding his omission of Plibersek’s qualifier... but no reply thus far.
Saturday, July 14, 2012
Travel lift-out consulted
Andrew Bolt believes that the political situation in Sri Lanka is sufficiently benign for the Australian government to immediately deport any and all Sri Lankan asylum seekers back to their country of origin.
His basis for this assessment? Why, no lesser authority than the travel lift-out in his newspaper.
The front page today of Escape, the Herald Sun’s travel lift-out, is dominated by a picture of two smiling Sri Lankan children, over the headline “Back to Sri Lanka”.
The report tales [sic] of “endless beaches, timeless ruins, welcoming people”, and notes correctly that “years of war” are “over” and “Sri Lanka’s looking up”.
So why is the Gillard Government still allowing boatloads of “asylum seekers” from Sri Lanka to stay? Are we again being played for suckers?
Well, it may be that his newspaper’s travel lift-out isn’t necessarily a credible source for gauging the political situation in any given country. Here’s the reality behind the rhapsodic spread quoted by Mr Bolt...
Investigations by Human Rights Watch have found that some failed Tamil asylum seekers from the United Kingdom and other countries have been subjected to arbitrary arrest and torture upon their return to Sri Lanka. In addition to eight cases in which deportees faced torture on return reported in February, Human Rights Watch has since documented a further five cases in which Tamil failed asylum seekers were subjected to torture by government security forces on return from various countries, most recently in February 2012.
The above is freely available information from a respected international NGO. I last night emailed Mr Bolt apprising him of this material, requesting his response to the following queries:
- Will you inform your readers of the above pertinent information, of which I can only assume you've been completely unaware?
- Can you confirm or refute whether the spread in the Herald Sun’s travel liftout, Escape, was or was not paid for by the Sri Lankan government or some agency there of?
- If so, would you consider repudiating your blog post (or at least the quotes around the expression: asylum seekers)?
At time of writing, I’ve as yet had no response. Meanwhile, Mr Bolt’s shallow, agenda-pushing idiocy remains on display on his blog for all the world to see.
Doctor Easychair is as he does. Some people, it seems, just have no self-respect.