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Tuesday, 23 February


ASYLUM SEEKERS: Australian Medical Association spoke out loudly to government when its President catalogued the horror that is Manus & Nauru North Coast Voices

21 Feb 2016



Welcome. I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, and pay my respects to their elders, past and present.


Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie had second thoughts - too late! North Coast Voices

An attempt by Senator Lambie to delete a divisive tweet on the Twitter record, 18 February 2016.

Image found at

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Monday, 22 February


David Leyonhjelm on lockouts and whiny doctors Catallaxy Files

My agreement is to hold this back until Monday (from the Friday Fin Review). Just in case anyone missed it the other day:) RC

Many years ago, when I first started working as a veterinarian, I accepted there would be parts of my job I didn’t like. Vets, as everyone knows, are expected to put animals to sleep, some when they are perfectly healthy. It can become wearing. Obviously other vets have issues too; vets are four times more likely to commit suicide than members of the general population.

The reason you probably didn’t know that little factoid is because we vets are disinclined to complain about our lot. By contrast, it seems barely a day goes past without members of the medical profession telling everyone how hard they’ve got it.

Recently, in response to public criticism of Sydney’s ‘lockout’ laws, we had Professor Peter Miller telling all and sundry, “behind every number is a tragic story – you only need to ask the emergency department doctors, police, paramedics and surgeons who have to clean up the awful toll.”

Yes, violence causes injury and doctors are paid to treat the injuries. But their involvement is a matter of choice; they are not compelled “to clean up the awful toll”. Indeed, they don’t have to do trauma or emergency medicine, or even medicine itself, at all. Moreover, no-one is forced to join the police or ambulance service.

In fact, doctors demanding lockouts because they don’t like treating the victims of violence is equivalent to teachers demanding parents keep dumb kids at home. They should do their jobs, or find a job that they’d rather do.

Furthermore, there is something particularly unbecoming about upper middle-class professionals whining about their (well paid) jobs. There’s a part of me that wants to send the lot of them to the nearest Centrelink so they can see how the unemployed and disabled respond to their grumping.

This last point is relevant because job losses and ve...


Senate “Reform” – a conspiracy for disfranchisement Catallaxy Files

The Liberals, Labor, and The Greens are conspiring to ensure that the 20% or so of Australians who don’t preference them in the Senate don’t elect anyone from the minor parties. While there are some cross-benchers who are annoying and/or not too smart to be sure; there are also Labor, Liberal, and Greens Senators who are also annoying and/or not too smart. Rather than restrict the choices of voters displeased with their efforts maybe Labor, Liberals, and The Greens should give some thought to why 20% or more of the population don’t want to vote for them.

Anyway, I suspect Senate Reform won’t be enacted before the next election – because the “reform” will be in the courts. Something of a long shot but here goes: Senator Mathias Cormann has admitted:

Senator Cormann acknowledged voters who voted above the line could see their vote exhausted and ultimately not counted towards any candidate.

The Constitution requires:

7. The Senate shall be composed of senators for each State, directly chosen by the people of the State, voting, until the Parliament otherwise provides, as one electorate.

If your vote can become exhausted, deliberately by design, before being counted can you have said to have voted? Not all of the people in the State will have voted.


SPORT: The return of the Funnel-Web(b) Independent Australia

SPORT: The return of the Funnel-Web(b)Karrie Webb returns to the course, Nick Kyrgios wins his first tournament and Australia move in front of New Zealand in Christchurch. Lachlan Barker reports. read now...


Parties break the mould as we head for a topsy-turvy election campaign Drag0nista's Blog

The Government is playing small target politics while the Opposition is putting its policies on show, and a […]


50-50 Catallaxy Files

I thought it would be mentioned before now, but we cannot let the day go by without pointing out that Newspoll: Deadlock as Coalition and ALP split 50/50, PM’s honeymoon ends. Not only are the numbers bad but so is the direction. This year’s election was unloseable until Malcolm bought in whatever those 54 may have thought before.

However, there is now this possibility on the horizon. From The AFR: Mandatory super comes under fire. One of the biggest fights of my life was to try to stop the introduction of compulsory super which has turned out just as bad as we predicted in 1986. So there is this suggestion, which sounds good to me although I haven’t thought about it very much:

The government’s financial system adviser, David Murray, has conceded that letting the most poorly paid opt out of compulsory superannuation might be the fairest fix, unless more radical changes are made to the system.

In a sign that one of the founding principles of the savings system is being openly challenged, Mr Murray said forcing the poorest to put income into super – which forces them to pay extra tax – wasn’t helping them a lot.

Anyway, Mr Articulate has turned out to be as bad as expected. I do not want the Libs to lose the next election. I am not of the kind that believes in punishing idiots in a way that makes me worse off with no compensation. Maybe this is the way to raise real earnings in a falling economy. But if they also do not cut spending in a serious way, nothing will ultimately save them, no matter what other gimmicks they decide to try.

And the only reason they still remain e...


Gearing up for a whitewash No Right Turn

For decades, UK police engaged in undercover spying on peaceful political protesters. They used false names and led double lives, established long-term relationships under false pretences, fathered children and then disappeared from their lives. But they didn't just ruin people's lives with their personal behaviour and deceit - they also spied on their critics, encouraged crimes and perverted the course of justice - fortunately, resulting in acquittals.

The UK is (of course) holding an "independent" inquiry into this. But the police are demanding that all significant evidence be heard in secret and hidden from the public:

Police are to apply for sweeping legal orders to have large parts of a judge-led public inquiry into the controversial conduct of undercover officers held in private.

The Metropolitan police are arguing that significant portions of the inquiry must sit in secret in order to protect the undercover officers who have infiltrated hundreds of political groups since 1968.


But in a detailed legal submission last week, the Met said it wanted to be clear “at the outset” that it would be “applying for much of the detail of past or current deployments” to be considered in the absence of the general public and those who were spied upon....


Roger Lowenstein takes on The Donald Catallaxy Files

Unfortunately Donald Trump is doing much better in the primaries than I’d hoped. I was hoping that sanity would prevail and Jeb Bush would win the nomination. Life is full of disappointments. If Trump wins the nomination and subsequent election (not according to the betting market) life will become very disappointing due to his economic illiteracy. Roger Lowenstein explains:

Donald Trump’s adolescent crassness, his slurs against women and immigrant groups, and his blatant disregard for the truth are reasons aplenty to vote against him. But South Carolina voters who find the bully charming should consider this: Trump would be very bad news for the American economy.

That’s his campaign’s economic theme. America has been “losing” by letting in immigrants and allowing free trade. Trump would reclaim our tradition of “winning.” But Trump has an outmoded view of economics that was never true and is particularly false now.

Read the whole thing – the Trumpkins especially should do so.

The bottom line is this:

Far from bringing America back, Trump, with his disdain for facts and readiness to stir up xenophobia, represents everything that is un-American. But if that’s not enough, there is this: Donald Trump has as much chance of reviving the economy as you do of drawing a jackpot on a slot machine. Not unlike his politics, his economics are based on fear and lies. His way leads to impoverishment not just spiritually, but materially too.


A complete waste of money No Right Turn

The government is currently cutting health spending. Meanwhile, it plans to spend $11 billion over the next ten years on new toys for the defence force:

Simultaneously, a government that’s willing to slash the health system is planning to spend $11 billion dollars in the next ten years on new gear for our Defence Forces. That’s not a misprint. The scale of the Defence spend-up over the next decade is truly stupendous. As yet, it simply has not sunk in with the general public just how much they stand to lose in order to keep the military in the manner to which they have become accustomed.


The money will be spent on new frigates, new cargo planes to replace the C-130 Hercules and new surveillance aircraft to replace the Orions. That cost by 2025 will be three and a half times more than the most fanciful MFAT estimates of what the TPP will deliver us by 2030. How on earth can John Key be talking about tax cuts in 2017 when this country is facing a state spending programme of this magnitude?

And most of these toys are absolutely irrelevant to our real defence needs, let alone the NZDF's stated priorities of "cyber threats and terrorism". It is, by any measure, a complete and absolute waste of money. And to do it while slashing health spending is simply monstrous.

(Cyclone Winston is showing us what we actually need: a long-range plane with a camera in it to do initial damage surveys, and a basic airborne cargo hauler like the C-130 to deliver aid afterwards. High-tech airbone AS...


In which the pond celebrates Abbott celebrating the achievements of the Abbott government, past and future ... loon pond

Now on this day of troubled polls, and uncertain policies, and talk of DDs, and fluttering futtering agile Malware futility, it would have been exceptionally remiss of the pond not to notice the valiant attempt of the wall puncher to stay in the public eye ...

First up, the obvious question. Are the reptiles choosing wisely with that hero shot of Abbott in demonic glare mode? 

Couldn't they find a more engaging, human snap, one which invites the readership to bond?


The truth about jobs in Australia — that you won't read in the newspapers Independent Australia

The truth about jobs in Australia — that you won't read in the newspapersAlmost everything the mass media and the Coalition Government say about employment in Australia is wrong, writes Alan Austin. Here are the facts. read now...


Why won’t the Department of Health correct its false statement? Catallaxy Files

So last week we reported on Senator David Leyonhjelm’s questioning of the Health Department, today we report back on his questioning of the Treasury.

From Hansard:

Senator LEYONHJELM: I have some questions about estimates of tobacco clearance data and the use of that data by the health department. At the estimates in October last year I asked for some calculations based on publicly available tobacco clearance data. I only received your response this morning, which worries me a bit. When had anyone in the Treasury done the calculations?

Mr Heferen : I might need some assistance there from my colleague Ms Horvat.

Mr Horvat : I would have to take on notice the date that we actually did those calculations.

Senator LEYONHJELM: All right. You may have to take this on notice too, but maybe not. Between then and now—from October to February—what were the stages that took up so much time? What were the steps that you had to go through that occupied so much time?

Mr Heferen : In doing a question on notice?

Senator LEYONHJELM: No, I am coming to the question on notice, because that also only got answered this morning and I am not going to ask the same questions about it. I am interested in knowing why it took until this morning to get an answer and what was involved in it.

Mr Heferen : There are essentially two ports of call. One is that, when we take the question on notice, given that we are here—no...


Pillaging our rivers again No Right Turn

Since coming into office, pillaging our rivers has been a major focus for National. They turned Canterbury into a dictatorship so they could give its fresh water to farmers, established deliberately weak "national bottom lines" of rivers that will make you sick so they could keep on polluting, even tried to let Regional Councils trash one river provided they improved another until the Environment Court stopped them. And now they're back for another go, with a package of Next steps for freshwater released over the weekend.

The Herald has seized on the proposal to fine farmers who let their stock intrude into waterways. But while its good to have the principle established, the fines are paltry: $100 per head with a $2000 maximum will not provide a real incentive for a multi-million dollar business to improve its behaviour. And given the general lack of enforcement on this issue, farmers are likely to think they can dodge the fine anyway. In other words, its just a pure PR exercise.

Meanwhile, while they're pretending to crack down, they're really doing the opposite. There's a proposal to "clarify" what it means to "maintain or improve water quality", which is simply an attempt to overturn the Environment Court's ruling outlawing offsets. And they're trying to stack the process on Water Conservation Orders to allow the Minister to just ignore applications and to make them subject to regional plans (which of course are set by and for farmers). The net result will be to...


Henderson, Marr and the privileging of “rational” thought No Place For Sheep

    Watching this exchange between David Marr and Gerard Henderson on ABC TV Insiders yesterday, I was struck by how Henderson, at first a rather uneasy, black-clad fidgeting figure, suddenly discovered strength and energy in contemptuously accusing Marr of “emoting.” Marr is vocalising his anger at the Turnbull government’s refusal to allow refugees in […]


Negative Mal, Big George and Baby Asha Independent Australia

Negative Mal, Big George and Baby AshaManaging editor David Donovan comments on the top stories of the past week including news on Turnbull, Morrison, Cardinal Pell and Baby Asha read now...


The pond hasn't quite matured because it's still reading the reptiles ... loon pond

It was of course only serendipity and comebychance that the pond, after reading the bleating of Chris Uhlmann, sat down to watch Trumbo, the story of one of the Hollywood Ten, and the author of one of the pond's favourite sword and sandal flicks (did he write the lines about the oysters?) ...

It isn't a good movie - the intermingling of real events and people is mishandled, and the shots of typewriters pounding are interminable - but it did remind the pond of one of the great moral panics in the United States, curiously overlooked by Uhlmann in his history of freedom of speech with an American twist ... summarised in those titles above, which turn up at the end of the movie.

But then Joe McCarthy is probably still a folk hero for the r...


Unicorns all over the place in fantasy tax debate Catallaxy Files

Today in The Australian

His budget won’t promise taxpayers any unicorns, Scott Morrison assured the National Press Club last week. Good thing too, for they are ever harder to find.


The sad and sorry saga of an Iluka development application notice sign North Coast Voices

Not good enough! say Iluka residents over at ILUKA DA...Have Your Say - and with good reason.

This is a notice that Clarence Valley Council "erected" to notify Iluka village that a development application ha been lodged for a 162 lot subdivision:



Apple and FBI in far-reaching legal fight over the security of all our digital devices North Coast Voices

Last week the world became aware of this sticky situation.......

Business Insider Australia, 18 February 2016:

On Tuesday, a US judge ordered Apple to assist the FBI in unlocking an iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernadino shooters. The FBI says it needs to investigate the shooters’ potential links to Islamist terror groups.

This is what the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California court order of 16 February 2016 stated in part:

For good cause shown, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:

1. Apple shall assist in enabling the search of a cellular telephone, Apple make: iPhone 5C, Model: A1532, on the Verizon Network, (the “Subject Device”) pursuant to a warrant of this Court by providing reasonable technical ass...

Sunday, 21 February


The credibility gap Press gallery reform

There is a myth in the press gallery that Tony Abbott had a deep and abiding concern about Indigenous people. There was never any evidence of it, but it has become the stuff of unshakeable press gallery myth.

Another myth in the press gallery is that Malcolm Turnbull might be more moderate and accommodating than Abbott.

It's worth examining this to work out how these myths form, what effects they have, and how impervious they are to proof and reason - which goes to the question of what the press gallery is for, and what its members mean when they insist that they respect their audience.

Abbott and Indigenous people

Unlike Whitlam, and even Fraser, Abbott had a long record as a minister in areas affecting Indigenous people directly (Employment, then Health), where evidence of commitment to Indigenous people and issues might have been evident. Not much to see there, and a genuine surprise that none of the experienced press gallery journalists went looking for it.

Tony Abbott doesn't have a deep and abiding concern about Indigenous people. Actual Indigenous people never rated Abbott they way they did for politicians who actually listened to them and came through for them, like Gough Whitlam or Malcolm Fraser or Fred Chaney. They did not vote Coalition in greater numbers when Abbott was leader than they had when Howard was leader, and apart from Pearson there are no spontaneous outpourings of thanks or support from Indigenous people, as there might have been for someone who made a real difference or who really gave a damn and did his best.

He might have a deep and abiding concern about Noel Pearson, but that isn't quite the same thing as a commitment to Indigenous issues and people.

If The Australian had decided, say, Marcia Langton or Gary Johns rather than Pearson as the tribune of all things Indigenous, perhaps Abbott would have hung out with them instead. Pearson can churn out variations...

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