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Thursday, 04 February


High Court judgment enables Australian Government to wash its hands of asylum seekers' fate North Coast Voices


Today the High Court held, by majority, that the plaintiff was not entitled to a declaration that the conduct of the first and second defendants in relation to the plaintiff's past detention at the Nauru Regional Processing Centre ("the Centre") was unlawful. The majority of the Court held that s 198AHA of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth) ("the Act") authorised the Commonwealth's participation, to the extent that the Commonwealth did participate, in the plaintiff's detention.



Well done, Bill Shorten! North Coast Voices

This Cruz canard went all around the world  in January 2016:
U.S. presidential candidate Ted Cruz has claimed that Australia's 1996 firearms buyback led to a significant increase in sexual assaults on women - as the debate about gun control takes centre place in the race for the White House. Republican Senator Cruz, who is vying to win the top job, made the comments during an interview with American radio host Hugh Hewitt on January 12. And as you know, Hugh, after Australia did that, the rate of sexual assaults, the rate of rapes, went up significantly, because women were unable to defend themselves,' Cruz ...


FILE UNDER NOTHING CHANGES: Liberal & Nationals MPs poised to help out their banker mates once more North Coast Voices

Assistant Treasurer and Liberal MP for Higgins Kelly O'Dwyer was quick to deny the content of the media release (below) concerning the Superannuation Legislation Amendment (Transparency Measures) Bill 2015: Product dashboards.

However Allens Linklaterappears to support Industry Super Australia’s take on the new rules:

The Bill sets up (and proposes changes to) the application of the product dashboard rules as follows:

* Choice product dashboards now only need to be provided for a fund's 10 largest choice investment options by funds under management (with some exclusions) rather than all choice products. For the purposes of working out a fund's largest choice investment options, a lifecycle...

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Wednesday, 03 February


Is this presidential? Catallaxy Files

At a campaign rally in Milford, NH yesterday. His greatest virtues are his vices and his vices his greatest virtues. He may still be the only one who can beat Hillary. Or he may be the only one who can make Hillary electable.


Paul Kelly determined to push ahead with a dullard vote for parliamentarians avoiding what they were elected to do ... loon pond

One of the more pointless duties of the pond is to watch the twisting, squirming, writhing contortions on the spit of sundry members of the conservative commentariat, intent on making prattling Polonius sound and look like a rapier wit.

There have been an abundance of headlines in recent times of this kind ...

These absurdities have at long last flushed an elephant from hiding so that the elephant may pontificate on the shape of the camel ...

Well the 'yes' vote will undoubtedly be honoured by some, and undoubtedly dishonoured by others, and the palpable dishonesty of the enterprise is apparent to all but an elephant with a very thick hide and a very ponderous, lumbering, elephantine way with wo...


Priorities No Right Turn

How little does the National government care about disarmament? Here's a graph of government press releases on the topic for the last twenty years. The difference is obvious:


[Source:; raw data here]

The dropoff in 2011 is when they disestablished the Minister and rolled the job into that of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Who clearly cared a great deal about it and made it a priority.


Disarmed No Right Turn

The Public Advisory Committee on Disarmament and Arms Control (PACDAC) is a stutory committee established by New Zealand's anti-nuclear law. It statutory functions include:

(a) to advise the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade on such aspects of disarmament and arms control matters as it thinks fit:
(b) to advise the Prime Minister on the implementation of this Act:
(c) to publish from time to time public reports in relation to disarmament and arms control matters and on the implementation of this Act...

But according to a recent OIA request lodged through FYI, the public OIA request site, it hasn't done any of those things for years:
With regard to the first two parts of your request, please find attached a copy of a 2009 letter from the then-outgoing acting Chair of PACDAC to then-Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control Georgina Te Heuheu outlining the range of recommendations made by PACDAC over the previous two years. This is the last written advice provided by PACDAC to the Minister and/or Prime Minister that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, as Secretariat to PACDAC, has been able to locate. We are aware however that the Acting Chairs of PACDAC have periodic conversations with relevant Ministers. These conversations are not documented on Ministry files.

With regard to part...


Political party donations — what we know and what we should know Independent Australia

Political party donations — what we know and what we should knowWe don’t know much about donations to political parties in Australia, but what little has been revealed is disturbing. Alan Austin lifts the lid on the lurks, dodges and rorts. read now...


28,000 unemployed under National No Right Turn

The Labour Market Statistics were released today, showing that unemployment has dropped to 5.3%. But while its (finally) a move in the right direction, there are still 133,000 unemployed - 28,000 more than when National took office.

When I started this series, it was out of a sense that unemployment statistics were a basic bullshit check on National's promises of prosperity. Six years on, its clear that they simply haven't delivered. There are more people out of work now than there were then. Sure, there was a financial crisis - but that ended four years ago. There were two earthquakes - but we're meant to be well into the "rebuild". And meanwhile, high unemployment just continues to drag on and on and on, while all the government does is make excuses.

New Zealanders expect more and deserve more than that. We need a government which will actually get people back into decent, high-paying jobs. National won't do that. Time for somebody who will.


A profile of personal incomes in the Northern Rivers region is a lesson in the unequal distribution of wealth North Coast Voices

On 28 January 2016 the Australian Bureau of Statistics released its Estimates of Personal Income for Small Areas, 2012-13.

These estimates show that for Australia, the median total personal income in 2012-13 for people lodging tax returns was $44,940. The top 10 per cent of earners received 33.7 per cent of the total income and the median age of an earner was 42 years of age. Also, 77.9 per cent of earners reported employee income as their main source of income.

In NSW the per cent of total income (from wages/investments) held by the top 1% of earners  is 10.5% - with the top 10% having 34.9% of total income.

In NSW the median total income from all sources for individuals was $44,780 (excluding government pensions/allowances), in Greater Sydney it was $47,281 and in the rest of NSW it was $40,702, both with the same exclusions.

In the Northern Rivers region the median total income from all sources for individuals was less than $...


Scott Morrison, the GST and the will of the people Independent Australia

Scott Morrison, the GST and the will of the peopleDon't waste your time telling Scott Morrison his tax plans are unpopular, he couldn't care less what you think, writes David Tyler. read now...


In which the pond joins Dame Slap in deploring the neo-puritan do gooders, Tasmanian Catholic archbishop naturally excluded ... loon pond

At last a clear choice for the pond, and as it's between Paul Keating and conversational Jay Weatherill, is it a surprise that the pond would prefer Keating?

Back into your popinjay box, Jay, and go start your regressive tax conversation with the infinite void or with idle croweaters willing to listen to your tiresome attempts to be Liberal lite.

The pond has been to the United States and seen how it works, and it isn't a pretty picture ...

Meanwhile, the pond feels infinitely blessed, though strictly in a secular Murdochian way ...

How else to think of these piquant juxtapositions?



Dog Blog: Invasion Day Week DUCK POND

Invasion Day came and went for another year. It might be an exercise in historical reflection, but it never seems to deliver. For example, considering last year, if given a chance, Phil would probably say his jousting days are done. The only memory I have this year is of the sound of lawn mowers – a more apt metaphor.

Now, Dexter’s plastic helmet has been discarded and the stitches removed from his ear. He did not suffer any further injury from bumping into almost every tree and obstacle in his path. The decision to take him our for the past three weeks was a risk. The lead was attached to his collar. The advice is that puts pressure on the trachea. Dexter did not seem to mind. Then, dogs cannot talk.

As an aside it is often the greatest dangers are those not expected. It may have been a celebration, but empty and broken beer bottles. How the dogs did not step on the broken glass in various shapes is amazing. There is no guarantee that I was able to find it all. I put it under some witches hats. The bottles were Houten beer.

The problem with Dexter’s ear was not due to an infection. That option was thoroughly checked out by the vets. I suspect the injury was incurred when I removed the harness.I was taking this variety of harness off with the lead attached, and Dexter in a hurry would pull away. Dog ears are susceptible to injury because they consist of a double layer of cartilage. The obvious thing to do is to unleash him and let him run around in the harness, and then take it off later.

The photos will be something to look back on. The music, “Pioneers”, is performed by Audionautix:



All comedy is critical Catallaxy Files

Here is a story on John Cleese and the modern left. And I have to say that the title of the story, John Cleese is tired of campus political correctness, as well as the title of original story from which it is linked, We Can’t Have Comedy and Be Politically Correct at the Same Time (which is better since it does not restrict its compass to a university campus), doesn’t get you there. The title of the video “1984″ does get you there, which has the statement scrolled across the top, that “political correctness can lead to an Orwellian night[mare]“, making it very plain how serious he thinks this issue is. It tells you exactly what he really means, that if you forbid people to say certain things in the name of political correctness, then you are living on the edge of a totalitarian state. This is what he said, which you can see is transcribed directly from his own words in the video:

Cleese said that it’s one thing to be “mean” to “people who are not able to look after themselves very well,” but it was another to take it to “the point where any kind of criticism of any individual or group could be labeled cruel.”

Cleese added that “comedy is critical,” and if society starts telling people “we mustn’t criticize or offend them,” then humour goes out the window.

“With humour goes a sense of proportion,” Cleese said. “And then, as far as I’m concerned, you’re living in 1984.”

And the point, of course, is not restricted to humour but all statem...


Abbott the hysterical historian North Coast Voices

There’s no doubt about Tony Abbott – he’s the gift that keeps on giving

Matt Golding cartoon.
This is Tones the historian giving a definition of marriage though the ages.

Forget cultures which practice polyandry or polygamy. Ignore “walking marriage”, “fixed term marriage”, “ghost marriage”, “marriage to a deity”, “woman-woman marriage” and marriage involving a “two spirit” person.

No, it has definitely been lifetime monogamous marriage between one man and one woman since time immemorial, according to the MP for Warringah.

*Sound of  thousands...

Tuesday, 02 February


The Online Democracy Party: Political evolution in Australia Independent Australia

The Online Democracy Party: Political evolution in AustraliaAnyone who is disillusioned with the current leadership in this country is looking for real viable alternatives that focus on the people first. Enter the Online Direct Democracy Party, writes Philip Ayton. read now...


Hide your data Catallaxy Files

Secret data and secret research methods are becoming a huge problem. Here is John Cochrane describing the problem:

Science demands transparency. Yet much research in economics and finance uses secret data. The journals publish results and conclusions, but the data and sometimes even the programs are not available for review or inspection. Replication, even just checking what the author(s) did given their data, is getting harder.

Quite often, when one digs in, empirical results are nowhere near as strong as the papers make them out to be.

Even when you can replicate the analysis journals are not interested in publishing the results. Many years ago as a naive PhD student I sent a short note to a (now ERA A* ranked) journal showing that a now very famous paper’s empirical results were very different when you applied the method described in the paper’s methodology section to the data supplied in the paper’s appendix. Despite the coefficient of interest being much smaller and now barely statistically significant the editors didn’t care, so long as the coefficient was still actually statistically significant at a conventionally accepted level.

I have formed the view that you have to check the data yourself, don’t take results at face value. If this is a problem in academia, it is even worse in government. Here is my paper on the FuelWatch fiasco. Here is my paper on Stimulusgate. Here is Jennifer Marohasy talking about the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. Here at the Cat I have been highlighting the fact that the data simply do no...


Who do you support for President? Catallaxy Files

As in every American presidential election year, you can see who your own views line up with in comparison with the views of the candidates. To my surprise, I ended up with a virtual three-way tie at the top, with Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Donald Trump, each overlapping with my own preferences at more than 90%. I don’t know if this is because they all have the same official positions on everything so that everyone will record the same level of support for the three either high or low, or it was just my own matrix of preferences that made it come out that way. As for Hillary Clinton, she was at 15% and Bernie Sanders recorded 13%. I therefore seem to carry within me the diabolical split between right and left in American society. So far as the parties went:

Republicans 98%
Constitution Party 93%
Libertarians 74%
Democrats 30%

I can see the ordering clearly enough but it seems unlikely that it is 98-30, Republicans vs Democrats. On the other hand, having watched Obama for seven coming up eight years, perhaps that really is the way things now are. You can try it yourself right here.

AND WHO DID THEY SUPPORT IN IOWA? The first of the primaries of sorts:

*CRUZ 28% TRUMP 24% RUBIO 23%

Jeb Bush 3%.


How not to promote your new book Catallaxy Files

The AFR has an extract from a new book, Credlin & Co., How the Abbott Government Destroyed Itself. The book is written by Aaron Patrick who is the AFR’s deputy editor.

‘Credlin was Abbott’s enforcer, his disciplinarian, his counsellor, his brain, his mother. Her strength as a chief of staff was a sign of his weakness as a prime minister: she gave him the option of disengaging. Credlin allowed Abbott to be who he wanted to be: the good bloke, the philosopher, the weekend fire-fighter, the surfer, the orator, the man of action. If Abbott was a natural leader, it could have worked. But he lacked the most important attribute of all: judgement.’

Tony Abbott and his chief of staff, Peta Credlin, ran a brilliant campaign in opposition. But their approach led to disaster in government.

When Abbott became prime minister, he and Credlin ruthlessly controlled ministers, backbenchers, the public service and the media. They shut out voices that questioned Abbott’s way. Everything started to unravel.

Credlin & Co. is the story of a relationship that determined the fate of a government. It shows in stunning detail the disastrous consequences of power abused, and the broken people left in its wake.

Okay – sounds interesting. But how does the AFR plug the book? By running a very old and discredited story about the Australian ambassador to France threatening to resign.

Australia’s ambassador to France was so offended by a demand that his gay partner wait in a car instead of greeting Prime Minister Tony Abbott and chief of staff Peta Credlin on the ta...

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