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Wednesday, 27 January


Planned Parenthood Federation Of America fights back against & Australia's misogynist-in-chief Tony Abbott flies in to support, anti-abortion extremists North Coast Voices

On 14 January 2016 Planned Parenthood Federation Of America, Inc. (PPFA) had finally had enough and filed a complaint in the United States District Court, Northern District Of California, San Francisco Division – alleging a criminal enterprise with the ultimate goal of interfering with women’s access to legal abortion.

“Defendants then went public with a vicious online video smear campaign, releasing a series of YouTube videos purporting to show that Planned Parenthood violated federal law related to tissue donation. In fact, these videos were heavily manipulated, with critical content deliberately deleted, and disconnected portions sewn together to create a misleading impression.

According to expert forensic analysis, Defendants “heavily edited the short videos so as to misrepresent statements made by Planned...


"ILUKA DA Have Your Say!" is online at Facebook North Coast Voices

A number of Iluka residents have created a public Facebook page alerting the community to a proposed 162 lot residential subdivision bounded by Hickey and Elizabeth streets and, by Iluka Road adjacent to Iluka Nature Reserve and World Heritage littoral rainforest.

It can be found at:

One of the interesting posts contains this image of the formal development application notification sign which besides being so modestly sized as to be almost unnoticeable also has an incorrect submission p...

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Tuesday, 26 January


Please: NO AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR Catallaxy Files

What is it about Australia’s cultural cringe that we need a Government-mandated Australian of the Year? A person who gets a platform to espouse a cause, who gets an award for advocacy rather than achievement?

The Americans, British, French, Germans and so forth do not feel the need for the Government to designate one of their citizens as an American of the Year, Briton of the Year etc. Sure, there are awards given by the Time of London, Esquire magazine, Cosmopolitan and so forth. Let there be private awards but please spare us the sanctimony of allowing one person to preach to us from the Government-designated pulpit.

Surely a reasonable savings measure is to eliminate this award.


Gordon Tullock on the politics of bureaucracy and rewarding men of war Catallaxy Files

Chapter 10 in Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom is Why the Worst Get on Top. The opening section of Gordon Tullock’s The Politics of Bureaucracy is an analysis to explain how that happens. This is the book that Tullock put aside to write The Organization of Inquiry which paints a scenario to explain how bad science could get on top, not a situation that he expected to occur in the natural sciences when he wrote in the 1960s although he could see it happening in the social sciences.

Actually I will come back to the beginning another day because he moved on to consider the conditions that make for success in departments like the Department of State (where worked for some time) and also the military. On the topic of what gets rewarded by promotion, he looked at the prima facie purpose of the Dept of State, and especially diplomats in foreign posts. The apparent aim of the service is to influence the opinions of overseas people, especially influential people like heads of state.

But there is not simple way of determining how successful any particular individual has been in this task. As a result the Department of State tends to overlook this factor in deciding on promotions. The ambitious diplomat, if he is wise, will confine himself to influencing Americans. His reports should be based on an analysis of the Department of State [essentially what important people want to hear] not upon the country he is ostensibly reporting.

Moving on to the military

Military ability, in the sense of skill in winning battles, is not of much use in rising to high positions in our armed forces. We fight wars rarely, [this is 1965] so that this ability would be very hard to test. (It is probably symptomatic of a deep decay in our forces that most recent maneuvers have bee...


Congratulations to Henry Ergas AO Catallaxy Files

In today’s Australia Day honours, Henry Ergas received a well-deserved Officer in the Order of Australia. As is well known to readers of the Cat and the Australian, Henry has been an erudite proponent of sensible economic policies. He has poked holes in the absurd logic used by many rent seekers in Australia and has stood for all that is great in this country, while being a generous benefactor. Above all, Henry has used evidence and argument based on logic, rather than his opponents who tend to logical fallacy and assertion.

Congratulations Henry.


Australian perspectives Catallaxy Files

Stan Grant begins at 3:00

Rita Panahi begins at 9:30


Aussie Republic heats up Independent Australia

Aussie Republic heats up

The announcement yesterday by the premiers and chief ministers supporting an Australian Head of State receives unanimous supprt in contrast to last year's uproar over Abbott's infamous "captain's pick" knighthood award to Prince Philip. History editor Dr Glenn Davies reports.

YESTERDAY, THE Australian Republican Movement announced that Australia's premiers and chief ministers have made public declarations supporting an Australian Head of State. In a signed declaration, they have affirmed that:

'We, the undersigned Premiers and Chief Ministers of Australia, believe that Australia should have an Australian as our Head of State.'

Hard to argue with that right!

Thankfully, there will be no Imperial knighthoods awarded this Australia Day.

The reaction from Australians on all sides of politics showed that Imperial honours are divisive and out of touch with a modern, multicultural, egalitarian Austra...


Not very radical No Right Turn

Green co-leader Metiria Turei gave her "state of the nation" speech today, in which she both defended the Greens' nature as a radical party, while also trying to claim that they're not very radical. And she's got points both ways: on the one hand, the Greens are consistently political leaders, advocating for policies that the other parties first decry, then adopt. Policies like capital gains taxes, better public transport, a price on carbon emissions, and not beating children. But on the other, one of the reasons these policies look radical in the first place is because policy has already been pushed in radical directions: by Roger Douglas, Ruth Richardson and their heirs destroying our economy and our society, by National and its efforts to pave the planet with roads, and by farmers who want to fill our rivers and lakes with shit. And compared to this, Green goals of clean water, liveable cities, and not letting kids starve or go homeless do look pretty conservative. Which is I guess a nice example of the fluidity of political labelling and its relativeness to the policy-space.

Also in the speech Meyt proposed a small policy: a Policy Costings Unit to provide independent assessments of the costs of political parties' policies. Its hardly a radical idea, but it is a good one. More information for voters is always good, and it would cost a pittance to provide. But there is one problem: the Greens would locate it within Treasury. While they'd firewall it against Ministerial interference, I don't think such firewalls could be trusted, and in addition Treasury is a deeply politicised department and cannot possibly be considered "independent". It would be far better if such analysis was done by a truly independent agency...


The same problems everywhere No Right Turn

Thanks to the Reserve Bank's efforts to evade public scrutiny, we now seem to have a public debate on charging for OIA requests (Bryce Edwards has a good summary here). But we're not the only ones. The UK is currently reviewing its Freedom of Information Act (before a strapped chicken "independent" commission of FOIA-hating establishment mandarins), and the issue of charging has been raised there as well:

Imposing fees on Freedom of Information requests would be “an extremely blunt instrument” that would limit access to justice, human rights campaigners have said.

Leading charity Liberty said it had used the act to expose injustices including discrimination under police stop and search rules and said that any reforms that downgraded Freedom of Information powers would be a “retrograde step”.


However, giving evidence to the commission, Sam Hawke, an FOI specialist at Liberty, said the Act had in fact saved money by highlighting inappropriate uses of public money.

“Discussion of burden is inappropriate,” he said. “This is simply what a Government pays for, to remain open, transparent and accountable, and it’s a very, very small cost overall.

And that, fundamentally, is the issue. Freedom of information is about open, transparent government. That costs money, but like Parliamentary oversight and "expensive" elections its just what you pay to have a functioning modern democracy. Imposing charges undermines that democracy. It creates barriers to transparency which can be deployed to...


Australian house prices: no respite for new owners Catallaxy Files

Australia continues to come up tops in house prices.  In a world of Great Moderations, Quantitative Easings and the ebb and flow of the China boom, Australian house prices consistently exceed those of other countries against which they are compared.

The 12th ANNUAL DEMOGRAPHIA INTERNATIONAL HOUSING AFFORDABILITY SURVEY  published this week compares median house prices across 365 markets in Australia, the UK, Ireland, the US, Canada, Japan and New Zealand plus one each in Singapore and Hong Kong.  The table ranks affordability measured by the median house price compared to the median family income level. On average, Australia (and New Zealand) come out 10 per cent more expensive than the equally regulatory restricted UK market.

Median house prices Demograpphia 2016

Sydney and Melbourne come in as the second and fourth least affordable housing markets of the 367 assessed.  And Tweed Heads is the tenth most unaffordable.

Moreover, in spite of the concern expressed, things are getting worse.  Affordability deteriorated over the 35 years even though the cost of building a house remaining at a par with general prices.

Australian Housing affordability 1981-2015

The gap is even greater when Australian prices are matched to those in Continental Europe, as is illustrated by this comparison with the UK (which uses  the ratio of the cost...


More on framing the political debate - the key to winning The Political Sword

In the first of this short series on framing: Framing the political debate – the key to winning, I described the concept of political framing as developed by cognitive scientist and linguist George Lakoff, which he described in his book The Political Mind. I illustrated it with examples drawn from the Iraq war and from our federal political scene. This piece draws on more recent examples of how framing has been used successfully, principally by the Coalition government. Conservatives have an aptitude in selecting frames for the policies and plans they wish to introduce. Often they are winners; occasionally though their frames turn out to be losers.

Leading up to the 2013 election Tony Abbott embraced three memorable slogans: He promised he would “Abolish the carbon tax’, ‘Stop the Boats’, and ‘Repay the Debt’. He embellished these with more negatives: ‘This toxic tax’, ‘The World’s Biggest Carbon Tax’, ‘Axe the Tax’, ‘Stop the waste’, and a positive: ‘Hope, Reward, Opportunity’. Someone must have persuaded him that three words slogans would stick in voters’ minds. And they did. All of these were frames. They framed Labor as a high taxing party, wasteful of taxpayers’ money, running up intolerable debt and huge budget deficits, and unable to protect our borders, all negatives. The Coalition framed itself as the party that would fix Labor’s mess, and it also offered hope, reward and opportunity, all positives. Very simple, yet successful!



Australia Day: Invasion Day Independent Australia

Australia Day: Invasion Day

Natalie Cromb asks us to give thought to those that are mourning Invasion Day, because, as she says, frankly, 228 years of justifying pain is quite enough.

IMAGINE IF Indonesia had a national celebration on the anniversary of the Bali bombings? What if Port Arthur celebrated with a town festival on the anniversary of the Port Arthur Massacre? Would we be okay with that?

No, of course not, because some lines shouldn’t be crossed.

Why then is this line being crossed with brazen disregard to the Indigenous population of Australia? Has the suffering not quite been enough? Need to rub salt in the still bleeding wounds of the past? Because let me tell you, the pain is not isolated to the past — it continues as do the mistakes of the government.

Australia, January 26 — the land where we celebrate with nationalistic buffoonery with complete disregard to the Indigenous Australians mourning. Even worse, it is the land where such mourning is not only an inconvenience but is downright offensive to th...


Arise Sir Henry Catallaxy Files

A big congratulations goes to our very own Henry Ergas who has been awarded the Order of Australia.

Professor Henry Isaac ERGAS, For distinguished service to infrastructure economics, and to higher education, to public policy development and review, and as a supporter of emerging artists.

Service includes: Inaugural Professor of Infrastructure Economics, SMART Research Centre, University of Wollongong, since 2009. Senior Economic Adviser, Deloitte Access Economics, 2009-2014. Member, Advisory Board, Centre of Regulatory Economics, Australian National University, since 2004. Adjunct Professor, School of Economics, National University of Singapore, since 2004.

Editorial Board Member, The Review of Network Economics, since 2002. Member, Vertigan Expert Panel, National Broadband Network Review, 2013.

Member, Defence Industry Policy Review, Defence Materiel Organisation, 2006. Member, Prime Minister’s Task Force on Export Infrastructure, 2005. Chair, Intellectual Property and Competition Review Committee, Department of Attorney General, 1999-2000. Member, Advisory Panel on Telecommunications Reform to the Minister for Communications and the Arts, 1997.

Chairman, Concept Economics, 2008-2009. Vice-President and Regional Head, Asia Pacific, CRA International, 2004-2007. Managing Director, Network Economics Consulting Group (NEGG) Australia, 1996-2004. Counsellor for Structural Policy, Economics Department, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), France, 1991-1993 and Head, Secretary-General’s Task Force on Structural Adjustment, 1978-1987. Founding Head, Information and Communication Technology Studies Centre, Monash University, 1987-1991.

Philanthropic service includes: Founder, The Ergas Collection, since 2000, (a not-for-profit company which supports the work of emerging artists). Director and Benefactor, Red Room Company, sinc...


It's all about him ... which is code for "it's still all about me this wondrous Australia Day" ... loon pond


What better way to celebrate Australia Day than to flee the country and score front page notoriety?

But in that flight comes a tale of how, disingenuously, to distort and deflect the truth while purportedly providing the news ...

In one newspaper ...

That sounds harmless. He's just off at a top international forum to blather about the family, and that's what patriots do on Australia Day. Flee the country ...

In others ...


Are federal Liberal-Nationals MPs and senators about to do to environmental protections what they did to the NBN? North Coast Voices

“For the first time in Australian history, a Commonwealth Government has undertaken a thorough and accurate stocktake of all federal regulatory costs and is consistently measuring and reducing the cost of Commonwealth government red tape on Australian businesses, organisations, families and individuals,”….
“Now, for the first time, a Commonwealth government has, with a very high degree of accuracy, publicly reported to Parliament a downturn in the total amount and cost of federal regulation. [Kevin Hogan, Nationals MP for Page, Media Release, Coalition decisions to cut red tape now total $2.45 billion, 19 March 2015]

A news article in ...


Brough's small target strategy at work? North Coast Voices

The Guvmin Gazette on 6 December 2015 attempted to put the best spin possible on what MP for Fisher Mal Brough was required by precedent to do:

Special Minister of State Mal Brough has asked for a $108,000 pay cut and to move from a ministerial suite to a backbench office as he stands aside from his post while the Australian Federal Police ­investigate him for any wrong­doing in the Peter Slipper affair.
Malcolm Turnbull announced last week, on the same day as junior minister Jamie Briggs’s resignation, that Mr Brough would step aside from his ministerial ­duties pending police inquiries into the alleged 2012 illegal copying of the official diaries of the then Speaker Mr Slipper.
Mr Brough wrote to Spe...

Monday, 25 January


Moggy Musings [Archived material from Boy the Wonder Cat] North Coast Voices

A doin' a donges musing: In Clarence Valley Council's May 2015 CG&W business paper a favourite ploy has been brought into play by a management eager to get its own way - summarise the 48 submissions received regarding the Coldstream-Yamba intersection roundabout so that the authentic voice of Yamba residents is not entered into the public record. Tsk, tsk.

A taken to the court again musing: In April 2015 it was Kerry Maree Durrington v Clarence Valley Council in the District Court at Coffs Ha...


The only way Tony Abbott will leave the Australian Parliament is if the voters of Warringah kick him out North Coast Voices

Apparently desperate to hang on to his seat, parliamentary salary and entitlements, as well as intent on regaining the prime ministerial position he now recalls he ‘left’ rather than was sacked from – far-right politician Anthony John “Tony” Abbott is renominating in the Warringah electorate as a candidate in the 2016 federal general election.

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