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Thursday, 11 February


Australian international aid and community sector agencies united behind churches across the country who are opening their doors to asylum seekers facing removal back to Nauru & Manus North Coast Voices

Media Release, 4 Feb 2016:

JOINT MEDIA STATEMENT: ACOSS, Australian Council for International Development, Anglicare Australia,Catholic Social Services, Mission Australia, Oxfam Australia, St Vincent de Paul Society, Save the Children, and World Vision.

Australian international aid and community sector agencies today united behind churches across the country who are opening their doors to asylum seekers facing removal back
to offshore detention centres.

The groups, including ACOSS, Australian Council for International Development, Anglicare Australia, Catholic Social Services, Mission Australia, Oxfam Australia, St Vincent de Paul Society, Save the Children, and World Vision, urge the Australian
government to allow the families and their children to stay in Australia.

“The High Court of Australia may have ruled against the challenge to the legality of ou...

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Wednesday, 10 February


The pond takes a break knowing the United States is in safe hands ... loon pond

Sing it soft ...

Sing it cartoon ...

Sing the question loud ...

Sing the answer proud ...

The pond is taking a break and will return as circumstances allow ...

(And more Rowe...


ACCC loses again: egg cartel case goes down Catallaxy Files

download (1)ACCC chairman Rod Sims

In yet another embarrassing outcome for Rod Sims, Chairman of the ACCC (who is so keen to be reappointed – he has things he wants to do), the ACCC case accusing egg producers of cartel behaviour has gone down in a screaming heap.

Recall that Sims thinks that those found guilty of cartel behaviour – not union officials, of course – should be jailed.

A good start might be for the ACCC to succeed in winning a case – a very rare event for the organisation.

The Federal Court has dismissed allegations a national egg industry lobby group tried to set up a cartel in 2012 to limit egg supply and boost prices.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) claimed the Australian Egg Corporation Limited (AECL), three directors and two egg companies tried to enter into an agreement or understanding to limit egg production.

A primary concern of the ACCC was a series of meetings held by the egg industry in 2012 to discuss an oversupply of eggs, and the impact it might have on prices.

The court was also told of a 2012 ABC Rural story in which AECL managing director James Kellaway discussed a surplus of eggs, suggesting some 400 to 500...


Senator Sam vs The 10 Companies Catallaxy Files

As reported in the weekend Sydney Morning Herald:

Labor senator Sam Dastyari has warned there is something “fundamentally wrong and rotten” with Australia’s entire political system, claiming there are 10 huge companies with so much power and influence they have killed proper democratic process at the federal level in this country.

The companies Senator Sam was referring to are the big banks (ANZ, NAB, WBC, CBA), the big miners (BHP, RIO, Fortesque), the big retailers (Woolworths and Coles) and the big telco (Telstra).

Very interesting Senator Sam.  These companies have killed proper democratic process at the federal level in this country have they.

I am happy to be corrected, but I am not aware if these company can write (not influence) policy for a major political party or if can give or take the pre-selection of an elected official – like a gift.

There is only one institution that I am aware of that can do that.



The debilitated wombat and the understated kiwi Independent Australia

The debilitated wombat and the understated kiwiFormer Bondi inhabitant, New Zealander David Meech, describes some of the more noteworthy features of the twin trans-Tasman cultures. read now...


Fascinating – in Vanity Fair Magazine Catallaxy Files

From  Vanity Fair Magazine, an article titled Terrorism, Migrants, and Crippling Debt: Is This the End of Europe comes the following:

For at least two generations, Europe’s highly educated, Financial Times-reading mandarins assumed they could inoculate the Continent against every possible contingency with ingenious layers of bureaucracy and legislation.

From the above, swap out:

  • “Europe” for “Australia”;
  • “Financial Times” for “Sydney Morning Herald” or “The Guardian”; and
  • “the Continent” for “Australia”.

This might explain …. bicycle helmet laws, smoking laws, heavy handed financial regulation, lockout laws, etc etc.

It might also explain the measurement of the quality of a government by the number of bills passed rather than the quality of bills passed.


Our taxes at work Part 3 Catallaxy Files


Have you noticed the cringeworthy ads on the television and print media about the National Innovation and Science Agenda – oh please.

All this is costing a cool $28 million and that of course doesn’t include staff costs, both internal and outsourced.

On this sort of wasteful spending of taxpayers money, there is absolutely no difference between the Coalition and Labor.

And they say they can’t cut spending?  Start trying would be good first step.

Here’s is some of the appalling blurb:


Extraordinary technological change is transforming how we live, work, communicate and pursue good ideas.

We need to embrace new ideas in innovation and science, and harness new sources of growth to deliver the next age of economic prosperity in Australia.

The National Innovation and Science Agenda is an important step in the right direction.


Feeling the Bern Catallaxy Files

bern and trump

*TRUMP 35% KASICH 16% CRUZ 12%

Which comes with this additional detail:

Clinton Horror Deja Vu…
NH Brings Rumors of Campaign Implosion…
Biden ruling nothing out…
She lost every demo except 65+…
DICK MORRIS: Falling Apart…
B Team Deployed to Smear…
Backer Urges Campaign: Keep Steinem and Albright Away!
Photo shows American flags crumpled up on HQ floor…

It really is gruesome. Neither side has a solid grounding in common sense and sound economics. But half of America would now vote Socialist, on the Democrat side whether Hillary or Sanders it makes hardly a difference.

In 2008 I used to say Anyone But Clinton so I learned a tragic lesson. Now it’s Anyone But Any of the Ones who are Running. Just remember, democracy is the worst system except for all the others that have been tried from time to time.


Some more essence of Devine ... loon pond

It's on with an agile, innovative meme led recovery here at the pond.

And by golly that was a good one. In its drinking days, the pond loved a good Penfolds red ...

These days only the best memes are sampled at the pond

Meanwhile, the pond would like to report on its campaign for the Daily Terrorists to can their blogs.

The pond is only here to help their business model, and the sad truth is that letting the poison of the Devine and Akker Dakker silently fester in their blogs, free of the paywall, is simply no good for anyone.

The vile poison should be billable. You can't just hand out poison willy nilly and for free.

Now as anyone paying an ounce of attention will be aware, the Devine - along with the rest of the Terrorists - has been conducting a vigorous war against David Morrison. This has reached the levels of an hysterical vendetta, and the Devine's blog has been littered with all sorts of charges ...


Liberals soft on Australian terrorist supporters – ASIO refuses to uncover surveillance costs and location of Traitors: Lambie Senator Jacqui Lambie - PUTTING TASMANIA FIRST

Independent Senator for Tasmania Jacqui Lambie’s Estimate committee questioning of Australia’s Spy Agency and Attorney General has revealed that the liberal government has refused to take legal action against 190 Australian terrorist supporters while ASIO refuses to reveal the surveillance cost of these traitors.

“Why hasn’t the Liberal government charged each of these 190 Australians with treason?  If found guilty, those people would face a maximum penalty of life in jail.  The head of Australia’s spy agency Director General Lewis clearly told the parliament that ASIO has watched these people conduct traitorous activities such as raising funds, recruiting people to their cause, espousing and facilitating the Islamic State message,” said Senator Lambie.

“So why are we spending money just watching these terrorist supporters?  A responsible government that trusts the advice they receive from ASIO – would take legal action against these 190 traitors.  I also can’t understand why ASIO was allowed to keep secret their costs for watching these Australians who are clearly supporting our enemy.  I wasn’t after names – just the cost for ASIO of watching 190 enemies of Australia,” said Senator Lambie.

“Why has the Government left these known Islamic State supporters to remain in our communities where they can – and have – caused harm to innocents?  The last time that happened we ended up with the Sydney café siege and the unnecessary deaths of innocent Australians.

I’m also very disappointed that the head of ASIO found it very difficult to tell the truth about the religion of these 190 traitors.  We do no favors to the Australian community by trying to deny the fact that the majority of the terrorist supporters are Islamic.

The head of Australia’s spy agency, Director General Le...


National erodes democracy No Right Turn

Another sign of the erosion of democracy under National: people who protest visibly and effectively against government policy have journalists asking their employers why they haven't been sacked yet:

The employer of a woman who threw a dildo at Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce refuses to say if she will be disciplined.

Josie Butler, a nurse at Hillmorton Hospital in Christchurch, leapt to international fame after flinging the toy in the face of Joyce at Waitangi


Canterbury District Health Board general manager of people and capability Michael Frampton said the DHB would not comment on whether Butler faced any disciplinary measures.

As if expressing your political views on your own time is something people should (or can) be sacked for.

And remember, you're probably paying for this Muldoonism, through taxpayer funding of National's dirty politics machine.

Of course, National could end this in an instant, by saying publicly that they respect the right of all New Zealanders to express their political opinions, and that political discrimination in employment is a crime. But their silence is deafening.


Open letter to Stuart Robert, from his employer — the taxpayer Independent Australia

Open letter to Stuart Robert, from his employer — the taxpayerOne of Human Services Minister Stuart Robert's actual employers, a taxpayer – not his mining boss mate who pays the Liberal Party's bills – offers him some home truths. read now...


Our tax dollars at work – Part 2 Catallaxy Files

In today’s OZ, Phillip Hudson writes that the bill for renovations to The Lodge came in at $11.61 million.  A further step up from the prior numbers of $7m and $9.8 million.

The original budget was $3.1 million so this would be a 275% budget over run.

This budget increase was a bi-partisan effort.  From scope creep to problems discovered during works (suggestive that the first budget was wrong to start with – malfeasance or nonfeasance?).

Finance Department secretary Jane Halton said last night every price increase had been the result of a decision made by politicians.

This is probably not true.  It is probably mostly true.

The average wage in Australia is approximately $80,000.  The standard income tax on that is approximately $15,000.

The total cost of $11.61 million is the annual income tax payment of approximately 775 average wage earners.

Let’s put such measures on income tax assessments dear Treasurer.

Here is some more from Hudson’s piece:

The renovations bill for The Lodge has come in at $11.61 million — ­almost four times the original ­budget.

Officials from the Department of Finance last night told a Senate estimates hearing the cost of fixing the Prime Minister’s Canberra residence rose repeatedly due to extra problems discovered during works as well as delays in starting work and decisions to add to the scope of the project.

Malcolm Turnbull, who moved in last month, has ordered an independent audit of the project amid concerns about the cost blowout.

The review will look at how decisions were made to increase the scope and cost of the project and whether the extra price f...


Our tax dollars at work Catallaxy Files

Instead of concentrating on reading, writing and arithmetic, primary schools are providing more social engineering:

Eleven-year-old children are being taught about sexual orientation and transgender issues at school in a taxpayer-funded program written by gay activists.

The Safe Schools Coalition teaching manual says that asking parents if their baby is a boy or a girl reinforces a “heteronormative world view’’.

The federal government has provided $8 million in funding for the program, which has won support from the Australian Secondary Principals Association, beyondblue, headspace and the Australian Education Union. The Victorian government will require all state schools to join the Safe Schools network by 2018, but the program is voluntary in other states and territories.

I am not convinced that sex education should be in schools at all. This sort of program certainly should not be. While it is important to socialise young minds to tolerate diversity this is a role for parents and broader civil society – state sponsored indoctrination through the state schooling system distracts from its primary function.


The death of open justice in the UK No Right Turn

Secret trials of enemies of the state are one of the hallmarks of tyranny. They were used by the tyrant Charles I, who was deposed for it; by Stalin; and by practically every tinpot dictator of the twentieth century. And now, thanks to a UK court ruling, they're entirely legal in the UK:

The court of appeal has refused to lift reporting restrictions following the secret trial of a London law student who was cleared of plotting a terrorist attack on the streets of the capital.

However, the lord chief justice, Lord Thomas, said that only the director of public prosecutions (DPP) could ask a court to sit in secret, and warned that MI5 and MI6 must not in future threaten to withhold evidence in a bid to secure courtroom secrecy.

Following an appeal brought by the Guardian and other UK media organisations, Thomas invited the parliamentary intelligence and security committee to investigate the role that MI5 and MI6 played in decisions that were taken around the prosecution of Erol Incedal.

...who will of course whitewash the whole thing, because the British establishment is incapable of reform, and incapable of holding its criminal spies to account, even when they murder and torture. Violating basic democratic norms is just everyday business for them, what they exist to do.

As for the victim in this, Erol Incedal, I have no idea if he is guilty or innocent. But a verdict given in these circumstances, on secret evidence which cannot be heard in court, let alone shown to the public, simply can not be trusted.

As for the UK, they have pervasive surveillance, spies who collude in torture, and now secret trials. While they still have (...


The new New Deal: Sanders' economic plan would catapult U.S. economy Independent Australia

The new New Deal: Sanders' economic plan would catapult U.S. economyIndependent analysis shows U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders' proposals – including targeted spending and taxing the rich – would raise incomes, produce jobs and cause wider prosperity. read now...


Government by troll No Place For Sheep

  And even as I wrote this piece, news broke that Greg Hunt, Minister for the Environment when you’re not having a Minister for the Environment, has just been awarded the inaugural best minister in the world gong in Dubai. I rest my feckin case.    The Turnbull government recently appointed Philip Ruddock as its […]


Here no advocacy, no advocacy here ... loon pond

What a fine snap SBS chose for its story, found here. Oh the Fairfaxian mockers might mock here, with forced video ...

Imagine (Hunt's) return to the Cabinet room. Striving for a suitably appropriate air of modesty, he arrives just as Christopher Pyne is regaling the colleagues with an old joke about John Lennon being asked whether Ringo is the best drummer in the world. "He's not even the best drummer in The Beatles," screams Christopher in a marvellous attempt at a Liverpool accent. 

How unkind, but shock, horror, consternation, even the reptiles were inclined to mention the Antarctic walri ...

The pond is distraught that Hunt wasn't honoured for his unwavering support of...


A potential breach of standards Press gallery reform

I find it hard to believe that:

  •  Stuart Robert visited China with a major Liberal donor without the imprimatur of Peta Credlin and other control freaks in the office of then-PM Abbott (including Abbott himself); and
  • Robert met with government officials in China without the knowledge, and at least the tacit approval, of then and current Foreign Minister Julie Bishop; and
  • the press gallery and the Opposition remain focused on Robert himself and "ministerial standards" without looking to those further up the line from him; and
  • Prime Minister Turnbull would, with everything else he has on his plate, divert the head of his department to a minor administrative matter; and
  • Robert is probably the most promising ministerial-quality MP the Queensland LNP sends to Canberra; and
  • almost inevitably, the press gallery and the Opposition will accept a behind-closed-doors assessment from a bureaucrat as the last word on this matter, and go galumphing off after some other non-story.


The National interview on Disaster Capitalism Antony Loewenstein

UAE newspaper The National interviewed me about my book Disaster Capitalism, especially the privatised military adventure in Afghanistan and failed aid in Haiti:


In which then Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott gives the nod for then Assistant Defence Minister Stuart Robert to help smooth the way for a big Liberal Party donor and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull inherits a problem North Coast Voices

These are the antics of then Australian prime minister Tony Abbott and his not-so-faithful side kick LNP MP for Fadden & then Assistant Defence Minister Stuart Robert, as reported in the Herald Sun on 7 February 2016:

A FEDERAL minister is under pressure after admitting he made a secret trip to Beijing where a Liberal donor and mate finalised a mining deal.
Human Services Minister Stuart Robert told the Herald Sun he was acting in a “private capacity” when he attended a signing ceremony with Nimrod Resources’s Paul Marks and high-ranking Communist Party ­officials who run Chinese Government-owned company Minmetals.
Mr Robert has previously said Mr Marks was a “close personal friend” and he’d bought shares in two of the Melbourne millionaire’s companies.
Mr Marks has also donated $2 million to the Liberals in the past two ­financial years. Last year, then prime minister Tony Abbott flew on a taxpayer-funded jet to Mr...


SHORTER ANDREW WILKIE: Grubby, grubby Julie Bishop North Coast Voices

Excerpts from ABC News, 3 February 2016:

A history of treaties in the Timor Sea 

* In 1989 Australia and Indonesia signed the Timor Gap Treaty when East Timor was still under Indonesian occupation. 

* East Timor was left with no permanent maritime border and Indonesia and Australia got to share the wealth in what was known as the Timor Gap. 
* In 2002 East Timor gained independence and the Timor Sea Treaty was signed, but no permanent maritime border was negotiated. 
* East Timor has long argued the border should sit halfway between it and Australia, placing most of the Greater Sunrise oil and gas field in their territory. 


Dog Blog: Waiting on a Sunny Day DUCK POND

To clarify, most days were sunny at some stage, but they gave way to overcast conditions with rain, and on one day an intense, hour-long hail storm. The latter event, I have now been told. caused minor damage to a neighbours car.

This week was inclusive of the 30 January to 5 February. Dexter had his stitches removed and was freed from the plastic helmet – no more bumping into almost every log and tree along the way. With this encumbrance gone, Dexter resumed his precision of movement. The co-ordination for four legs and the visual system is quite amazing.

Hannah very much kept her own counsel. She and we alike  are prone to connect with leaches, and often bring them home.

The music, “Thingmajig” is performed by Audionautix:

The title is copied from Bruce Springsteen:


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Tuesday, 09 February


Roundup Feb 9 Catallaxy Files

Culture. A meditation on cricket as a mental exercise. The mention of exercise reminds me of the time the English poet laureate William Henly threw Oscar Wilde out of his house (don’t ask me why) Wilde remarked “Conversation with Henley is both a mental and a physical recreation”. Henly wrote of Wilde “Mr Wilde has brains, art, and style; but if he can write for none but outlawed noblemen and perverted telegraph boys, the sooner he takes to tailoring (or some other decent trade) the better for his own reputation and morals.”
The Ministry of British Comedy . Even more culture – can you bear it?

Alpha to omega. The beginning and the end of the welfare state.

Weather. 300 scientists want to know more about data quality in Government agencies.
You couldn’t make it up, Green insanity. Crops...

Friday, 29 January


Le Monde Diplomatique positively reviews Disaster Capitalism Antony Loewenstein

The leading French newspaper Le Monde Diplomatique has published a strong review of my book, Disaster Capitalism (PDF here: LoewensteinDisasterCapmLMD216):

Les catastrophes n’ont pas le même sens pour tout le monde. Antony Loewenstein s’intéresse ici à tous ceux qui « profitent des désastres » — le tremblement de terre de 2010 en Haïti, par exemple — pour privatiser, déréguler et faire fructifier leurs affaires. Mercenaires, multinationales de la sécurité, sociétés minières, secteur de la construction, etc. : de la Papouasie-Nouvelle-Guinée au Pakistan, le journaliste présente une vaste palette de chefs d’entreprise qui prétendent venir en aide à des Etats confrontés à telle ou telle difficulté. On visite ainsi des prisons privatisées aux Etats-Unis, des camps de détention de migrants en Australie et au Royaume-Uni, des parcs industriels entourés de bidonvilles et transformés en nids douillets pour les entreprises américaines ou sud-coréennes en Haïti. Et l’on découvre la symbiose parfaite entre précarisation, paupérisation, surveillance des populations d’une part, et affaires lucratives de l’autre. L’auteur identifie une tendance qu’il observe sur toute la planète : « le remplacement de la démocratie par le “business plan” ».

Written by Eva Spiekermann, Google Translate tells me it says the following in English:

Disasters do not have the same meaning for everyone. Antony Loewenstein is interested by all those who “take advantage of disastersR...

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