The most secure road in Canberra

Northbourne Avenue, for a brief moment this afternoon, may have been the most secure road in Canberra…

8 Wilson Security cars in a row

Eight Wilson Security cars in high-vis livery. Quite a sight.

Samuel

Add comment October 22nd, 2014 at 05:20pm

On the passing of Gough Whitlam

Former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam passed away this morning at the age of 98.

I was sad to hear of Mr. Whitlam’s passing.

I respect greatly the fact that he was an effective agent for change as it is hard to cause societal change, especially on the scale he did, and he reinvigorated interest in the political and legislative processes to the point of inspiring people to enter the political fray on all sides, not just that of Labor.

I respect Mr. Whitlam for these reasons even though I disagree with almost everything he did politically, and while I would gladly undo much of what he did if I had the opportunity, it is worthy of respect and a testament to his impact on the nation that most of his changes live on in some form many decades after he left political office.

Mr. Whitlam’s place in Australian history will not be forgotten. May he rest in peace, and his family grieve in peace and dignity.

Samuel

1 comment October 21st, 2014 at 10:06am

Hume and Pacific Highway speed limits may rise, and so they should

Back in February I noted that the Northern Territory was trialling an open speed limit on a 200km stretch of road, and that this is a good idea which will hopefully lead to speed limits in other places being reconsidered. Today there is news that the NSW government is considering increasing some speed limits as an effect of the successful trial in the Northern Territory.

The NSW government has nominated the Hume and Pacific highways as major roads where it could raise the speed limit from 110km/h to 120km/h.
[..]
The government will also monitor the progress of a controversial open speed trial in the Northern Territory before deciding whether to permanently raise highway speed limits in NSW.

With a safer roads network and increasing active and passive safety technology in new cars, [Roads Minister Duncan] Gay said, the government would consider introducing the legislation to parallel highway policies in European countries, where the posted speed limits are typically higher than in Australia and in many cases the road toll is lower.
[..]
Fairfax Media has been told the Northern Territory open speed trial, which at present applies to a 200 kilometre stretch of the Stuart Highway north of Alice Springs, has not resulted in a single serious injury or fatality since it began on February 1.

(h/t Sam Hall, Drive.com.au)

120km/h is a start, but 130km/h would be a better option for most of the Hume Highway and much of the Pacific Highway. The Federal Highway would be a suitable road for a 120km/h limit with 110km/h remaining in place around the intersections at Collector.

It seems that Duncan Gay has a bunch of pressure groups ignoring evidence such as the NT trial and bombarding him with “speed = bad” arguments (there’s an example in that article) so it might be prudent to start with a small increase and then continue after it proves to be successful. It’s an annoying way to have to do it, but it might prove to be the only politically viable option. Regardless, it is true that on roads which are safe enough, allowing some extra speed leads to more alert and responsive drivers, so I congratulate Duncan Gay on starting the inevitably long and drawn out process of increasing speed limits.

Samuel

Add comment August 9th, 2014 at 09:40am

Reaction to the racist rant shows the law is unnecessary

The lady who gained national attention earlier this year for a racist rant on a train has been given a sensible sentence by the courts: no fine and no recorded conviction. Unfortunately she has been placed on a good behaviour bond, but I suspect Magistrate Teresa O’Sullivan did this only because Karen Bailey pleaded guilty to using offensive language, and failing to hand her some sort of punishment would have led to an appeal in front of a judge with less sense when it comes to matters of freedom of speech.

The real travesty here is that there is a law which makes her racist rant illegal. This law is entirely unnecessary as, apart from anything else, public reaction on the train where other people used their own freedom of speech to counter her absurd rant was enough to eventually shut her down. The public humiliation which followed when footage turned up online and on television was further punishment for her, as her court statements show.

Karen Bailey, 55, pleaded guilty to offensive language in the Downing Centre Local Court today and told Magistrate Teresa O’Sullivan she was “absolutely appalled” at her behaviour.
[..]
She had written a letter of apology to the court

(h/t Amy Dale, The Daily Telegraph)

Both the on-train reaction and the public airing of her rant and accompanying condemnation were exercises of freedom of speech, and proved the best defence against absurd uses of free speech is more use of free speech. Laws prohibiting certain types of speech inhibit this ability of a society to self-moderate, and worse still if such laws do reduce the amount of absurd speech, we end up in a situation where some groups don’t hear regular reminders that society doesn’t accept certain views, and can become radicalised in those views because they believe such views are widespread but silenced…at least when such views are intermittently aired and reacted to, people holding such views understand how these views are seen by society.

Unfortunately there are bigger issues with a lack of freedom of speech in Australia as, right now, there is a court order which can not be mentioned either by content or name (even writing this is skirting on the edge of the law) and we have to rely on foreign press to mention it as domestic media and citizens would be in contempt of court if they mention it. That law is a true disgrace as, while it is reasonable for a court to prevent some details from being mentioned while the court proceedings are in progress, the prevention of noting that such a court order exists is a sure fire way to diminish trust (which is dependent on relative transparency) in the courts.

Freedom of speech, while never enshrined in law in this country, really is in trouble while we have all of these restrictive laws in place.

Samuel

2 comments July 31st, 2014 at 06:30pm

An interesting radio interview coming up in about an hour

I have noted on a few occasions that Coast To Coast AM tends to have roughly one interview per month which interests me; today happens to be one of those days with the second half of today’s show.

From 5pm Canberra time / 3am US Eastern / Midnight US Pacific:

With over 20 years of experience in the field of sleep medicine, Dr. Robert Rosenberg, will discuss the science of sleep, and how technology, binge TV watching, and chemicals like energy drinks are changing how our brains function. He’ll address many of the bizarre disorders people experience while they are sound asleep– not only sleepwalking but eating and driving.

A few stations to choose from if, like me, you plan on tuning in:
KMBZ, Kansas City
News/Talk 95.3 MNC, South Bend, Indiana
WCBM, Baltimore

Samuel

July 31st, 2014 at 04:02pm

If governments didn’t stick their noses in where they don’t belong, this sort of thing probably wouldn’t happen

If the facts are as stated (and that is for a court to decide), then what happened is inexcusable and I don’t seek to excuse it.

A Department of Environment and Heritage worker is believed to have been shot dead while attending a property 55 kilometres north of Moree.
[..]
A source at the department said the worker had been serving a notice on an elderly man at the property when he was shot.
The man was receiving the notice because he was suspected of illegally clearing vegetation.

(h/t Eryk Bagshaw, The Sydney Morning Herald)

There are calls for better protections for “frontline workers” in the wake of this incident, and that is fair enough, but something else which should be considered is that none of this would have happened if the government wasn’t interfering with how people run their own land. If people wish to clear land which they own, then the government should not be in a position to stop them. It is not as if the NSW Government, in particular, has been a beacon of great sense with such interference either as they are the people who refused to let people make fire breaks on their own land…land which burned as a result.

If governments wish to dictate how land is managed, then the government should take ownership of such land after (and only after) providing reasonable compensation. The NSW Government, thanks to laws (The Native Vegetation Act — Thanks Jim Ball) passed by Bob Carr’s government, are not required to provide any compensation and, as a result, seem to think they can dictate to all and sundry about how land should be managed, despite their own dismal record.

Samuel

July 30th, 2014 at 02:12pm

NRL Tips: Round 7

Bulldogs
Broncos
Cowboys
Dragons
Sharks
Storm
Tigers
Panthers

Samuel

April 18th, 2014 at 04:08pm

AFL Tips: Round 5

I’m doing this on my phone so I’ll just post the names of the teams I’m tipping…I’ll fix the formatting later.

Brisbane
North Melbourne
Fremantle
Port Adelaide
Essendon
GWS
Gold Coast
Western Bulldogs
Hawthorn

Samuel

April 17th, 2014 at 07:38pm

NRL Tips: Round 6

For what it’s worth, I would have been wrong about both of last night’s matches if I had managed to get my tip in on time.

Panthers V Rabbitohs — tip not entered
Titans V Broncos — tip not entered
Raiders V Knights
Eels V Roosters
Tigers V Cowboys
Warriors V Bulldogs
Sea Eagles V Sharks
Storm V Dragons

Samuel

April 12th, 2014 at 07:27am

AFL Tips: Round 4

It seems that I have missed the Friday Night game again. This time it was all because I went to have a nap yesterday afternoon and didn’t wake up until 4am!

Richmond V Collingwood — no tip entered
Carlton V Melbourne
Port Adelaide V Brisbane
GWS V Western Bulldogs
Geelong V West Coast
Gold Coast V Hawthorn
Sydney V North Melbourne
St. Kilda V Adelaide
Fremantle V Essendon

Samuel

April 12th, 2014 at 07:23am

Today’s West Australian Senate re-election

I have two hopes for today’s Senate re-election in Western Australia.

1. Enough seats are won by conservatives for there to be a conservative majority in the Senate.

It’s impossible for the Coalition to get an outright majority by my count as winning all six seats would only get them to 37 seats in the Senate (39 is a majority) but it is possible for them win enough seats to have a conservative majority once certain crossbenchers are taken in to account. Four Coalition seats in today’s election (achievable with a very small swing to them compared to the 2013 election) plus one other conservative winning a seat should make it possible for there to be a conservative majority in the Senate on most issues.

2. Bye bye Scott Ludlam.

Even if he was to be replaced by another Green I’d be happy. His speech in which he came up with all sorts of inaccurate statements about Tony Abbott being some sort of racist was an embarrassment…it was almost as ludicrous as Julia Gillard’s infamous misogyny speech. The country would be better off with anyone other than Scott Ludlam in the Senate.

Good luck and vote well Western Australia; The country is counting on you.

Samuel

2 comments April 5th, 2014 at 01:10pm

NRL Tips: Round 5

Having not put my tips in before last night’s matches, they are deemed to be an incorrect tip. The one exception to that rule is invoked on the Roosters V Bulldogs match though as I always tip the Bulldogs at all times and so for that match I am deemed to have tipped the Bulldogs.

Roosters V Bulldogs
Broncos V Eels — tip not entered
Sharks V Warriors
Panthers V Raiders
Dragons V Rabbitohs
Storm V Titans
Tigers V Sea Eagles
Cowboys V Knights

Samuel

April 5th, 2014 at 12:54pm

AFL Tips: Round 3

Unfortunately I was out of action for a decent chunk of yesterday with a migraine and thus did not get my tips in before last night’s match. As per the rules, that match will be counted as an incorrect tip.

Hawthorn V Fremantle — no tip entered
Western Bulldogs V Richmond
Adelaide V Sydney
Gold Coast V Brisbane
West Coast V St. Kilda
Collingwood V Geelong
GWS V Melbourne
North Melbourne V Port Adelaide
Essendon V Carlton

Samuel

April 5th, 2014 at 12:50pm

NRL Tips: Round 4

Roosters V Sea Eagles
Dragons V Broncos
Bulldogs V Storm
Warriors V Tigers
Eels V Panthers
Rabbitohs V Raiders
Knights V Sharks
Titans V Cowboys

Samuel

March 28th, 2014 at 07:33pm

AFL Tips: Round 2

Richmond V Carlton
Essendon V Hawthorn
St. Kilda V GWS
Port Adelaide V Adelaide
Sydney V Collingwood
Fremantle V Gold Coast
Brisbane V Geelong
Melbourne V West Coast
Western Bulldogs V North Melbourne

Samuel

March 27th, 2014 at 06:28pm

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