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Sunday, 21 February


Come down from your citadel Cardinal Pell and tell us what you knew North Coast Voices

Vatican Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy Cardinal George Pell has always enjoyed due process in any Australian court case, state inquiry or royal commission concerning child sexual abuse at which he was a witness and, observation over time would lead an ordinary person to conclude that his various religious titles have afforded him what amounts to favoured treatment by both the police and legal profession.

Fair treatment was also afforded Pell in the 2002 internal Catholic Church inquiry into his past conduct as a seminarian in the early 1960s.

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Saturday, 20 February


Does Australia’s STEM problem start at the top? Independent Australia

Does Australia’s STEM problem start at the top?Turnbull's talk of innovation is hampered within his own party which is made up mostly of lawyers with a lack of expertise in, or appreciation for, STEM fields, writes Sameer Murthy. read now...


A giant Swiss cheese? Catallaxy Files

It’s very cute, albeit glib and inaccurate, to describe Australia’s tax system as a giant Swiss cheese.

Here’s the quote from the man who thinks he knows everything about tax but doesn’t understand the first principles:

Economist Saul Eslake describes Australia’s personal tax system as being “like a giant Swiss cheese”.

In his words, it is a system ”riddled with holes” that allow people to pay less tax on “particular types of income, earned in particular ways”. These holes, he notes, are “disproportionately” used by higher income earners.

“There is no compelling public policy rationale for any kind of preferential tax treatment”.

This is complete blather.  In fact, Australia has a tax system that has very high rates of compliance and transparency.  We know that income tax will raise around $190 billion this year and the total deductions will be $28 billion or 15 per cent of the total.

Rather than being a giant Swiss cheese, this looks like a very solid block of cheddar.

And when it comes to company tax, it is expected that more than $68 billion will be raised. This puts us in the top quartile of company tax as a percentage of GDP in the world.  Not too many holes there (see ATO Tax Transparency Report).

Compared with many other countries, there is extremely high compliance in our system, although Sinc may have a point that tobacco excise, which has been ridiculously jacked up, may be avoided in the future through a rise in the importation of illicit tobacco.

As to the curious notion of preferential tax treatment, here’s the thing: only an idiot would think that current income should be taxed in the same way as saving and capital accumulation.  It is not a case of preferential tax treatment; it is appropriate rules for the different...


New Music Through Old Ears — Bowie Baroness Megadeth Libertines Independent Australia

New Music Through Old Ears — Bowie Baroness Megadeth LibertinesIt’s time for some new music as entertainment editor John Turnbull checks out the final album from rock legend David Bowie, along with recent releases from the hard rocking Baroness, metal journeymen Megadeth and recently reunited Brit rockers The Libertines. read now...


Queensland council elections – map progress The Tally Room

Queensland goes to the polls to elect their local councils on March 19.

I’m currently working on my guide to the Brisbane City Council election – so far I’ve finished guides to ten wards out of 26.

The other piece of the puzzle is a complete ward map of Queensland, as I have done for every election since 2008.

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to get it done – moving house and taking some time off the blog over the summer slowed me down, and I’ve decided to prioritise finishing the Brisbane guide.

I’ve decided to post my partially-complete map. I’ve completed the boundaries for Banana, Isaac, Rockhampton, Whitsunday and Brisbane, but not Cairns, Tablelands, Townsville, Ipswich, Logan, Moreton Bay, Redland, Scenic Rim, Sunshine Coast, Bundaberg and Fraser Coast.

I plan to finish this map before election day – but maybe not long before the election.

Download the map here.


Energy storage gives renewables a jump-start Independent Australia

Energy storage gives renewables a jump-startGiven the speed at which technology and inventions are advancing, it's a no-brainer to see that the barriers to a clean energy shift are more political and psychological than technological, argues Dr David Suzuki. read now...


In which the conspiratorial Murdochian tabloids and their EXCLUSIVES are damned to Polonial hellfire for all eternity ... loon pond

It's always good to start a meditative weekend with a movie joke, thanks to the apocalyptic Pope here.

And speaking of movies, the pond can confirm that, after much reluctance and hesitation, it finally sat down to watch Knight of Cups. Now let us never speak of Terrence with the two 'r's' Malick, or bad acid trips, or existential LA ennui again ... though if you wonder what the pond was feeling during the Aleister Crowley nodding, mystical, self-indulgent, mumbo jumbo Tarot trip, read the Graudian review here and multiply it by ten ...

But to be fair the pond found it an excellent talking movie - spotting the beachside Santa Monica restaurant the pond used to dine at, enjoying memories of Vegas and the sky-covered ceilings, remembering wind farms visited, and so on and so forth

But enough of the travelogue movies because there's serious business afoot which requires the pond to ignore many favourites ...


Best Political Meme of the Week North Coast Voices

Journalist Lenore Taylor listening to incoming Federal Minister for Trade and Investment Steve Ciobo


Quote of the Week North Coast Voices

“People say, ‘It’s OK, you can have another, you weren’t really attached, you didn’t know them’,” she said.
“There’s this feeling you shouldn’t grieve, and that’s wrong. From the moment you fall pregnant, these hopes, dreams and thoughts are in your head and heart. You love them from the moment they’re conceived.” [Grieving mother quoted in an article concerning neonatal death published online at, 30 January 2016]


Just because it is beautiful......(4) North Coast Voices

Purple  Hairstreak (Atlides halesus) Butterfly Eggs On Mistletoe

Friday, 19 February


Well, now Cardinal Pell, you’re beginning to smell… No Place For Sheep

    It’s reported this evening that Cardinal George Pell is the subject of a twelve month investigation by Victoria Police over allegations of child sexual abuse, dating from the time he was a priest to when he became Archbishop of Melbourne. Pell has issued a furious statement, demanding an investigation into Victoria Police leakages, […]


These people are charlatans Catallaxy Files

Having looked at how out to lunch The Economist is I picked up The AFR over lunch and found this: OECD blasts reform fatigue, downgrades growth and calls for more rate cuts. They called for more than that, and this being the OECD, is the collective economic wisdom of the West. It is no wonder we are heading so deeply into recession.

Warning that global growth is faltering so fast there now needs to be a fresh wave of budget spending and interest rate cuts, the OECD demanded governments spend more money on investments and infrastructure, and get serious about productivity-boosting reform.

Officials at the Paris-based organisation also described the risk of another financial mishap on global markets as “substantial”. . . .

In the absence of fresh economic reform momentum, the OECD acknowledged there was now an urgent need to raising government spending on investments such as infrastructure, which they said would generate a strong growth dividend.

“Quality infrastructure projects would help to support future growth, making up for the shortfall in investment following the cuts imposed across advanced countries in recent years.

“A commitment to raising public investment collectively would boost demand while remaining on a fiscally sustainable path, the OECD said, pointing out that governments in many countries can borrow for long periods at very low interest rates.

“Many countries have room for fiscal expansion to strengthen demand.” . . .

“A recovery in private sector investment and wage growth is needed for global economic activity to accelerate.”

Anyone educated in economic theor...


How hard is it to go your own way voting in the Senate? The Tally Room

In the last few days, I’ve been involved in a lot of discussions about Senate reform, and many times I’ve had people insist that voters make a choice to hand control of their vote to their party, and any voter should be able to vote below-the-line if they wanted to. These arguments often insist that below-the-line voting is easy, and stray into elitist arguments about ordinary voters being lazy.

Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 9.41.46 am

Now there are multiple different reasons why voters lack informed choice when voting in the Senate, including how difficult it is to understand the impact of a GVT even when you’re an electoral expert, but I’m just going to focus on the idea that it’s easy to vote below-the-line, and thus voters have a reasonable option if they wish to opt out of the parties’ preference machine.

In short, appr...


South Australian electricity – the state’s suicide mission Catallaxy Files

Here is an object lesson of the effects of winner picking by governments.  South Australia’s electricity industry is now threatening to seriously undermine the state’s economy.

Back in October 2014, the electricity market manager, AEMO together with the South Australian state based transmission business, ElectraNet, made some ostensibly soothing comments that the wind dominated South Australia system could continue to operate securely.  Wind is inherently unreliable as well as costing two and a half times as much as coal.  But the 2014 report said that this reliability depended upon transmission support that allowed increasing amounts of reliable coal generated electricity to be imported from Victoria and NSW.

South Australia is able to boost wind only because of the subsidy which the Commonwealth’s renewable program and the state’s own measures force consumers of other fuels to transfer to the renewables.

Wind and solar account for 40 per cent  (p.5) of South Australia’s generation

By October of last year the officials’ balm was being used less sparingly.  The head of AEMO, following a series of high priced events in South Australia as a result of the wind stopping – as it does – was warning of increasing blackouts in South Australia unless the transmission system was augmented.  And the effectiveness of such a patch up would diminish if subsidies cause the share of wind to increase in other states – in this respect the ALP has an “aspirational” goal of 50 per cent renewable share.  South Australia’s problems are about to become more acute with the closure next month of the coal fired 550 MW Northern Power station, a measure brought about by the increasing amount of subsidised wi...

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