Friday Funnies: Some fun with Sir Joh

With the Queensland election in full swing, it seems like an appropriate time to revisit the man who could be considered the most well-known Queensland politician of all time, Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen. Regardless of how you viewed him, television satire program Fast Forward had a very amusing version of him. In my view, their sketch where Sir Joh was a contestant on Sale Of The Century alongside Jana Wendt is one of their best bits of work.

Samuel

2 comments January 16th, 2015 at 10:28am

On freedom of speech and section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act: if it’s broken and you look away, it’s still broken

Tony Abbott’s decision last year to abandon proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act whereby the silly and restrictive section 18C was to be removed, was a disgrace in my view, and an absolute betrayal of the mainly conservative voters who trusted him ensure that freedom of speech, a cornerstone of any free society, was protected.

So it was with a small amount of pleasure in recent days that I saw something good come out of the awful terrorist attack on satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo…the calls to scrap this section of the law were renewed, mainly because it is quite clear that the magazine would almost certainly be in contravention of this section of the law if it was an Australian publication. Simon Breheny from the Institute of Public Affairs summed this up very well the other day:

Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) makes it unlawful to “offend, insult humiliate or intimidate” a person on the grounds of “race, colour or national or ethnic origin”. Section 18C was the provision used against News Corp Australia journalist Andrew Bolt in 2011 for two columns he had published in 2009.

“This week leaders from around the world have united to defend the right of publications like Charlie Hebdo to publish content that is offensive to some,” says Mr Breheny.

“But a publication such as Charlie Hebdo would struggle to survive in Australia, due to laws that censor offensive, insulting, humiliating and intimidating speech. Section 18C could be used against the publishers of cartoons that satirise figures based on their race or ethnicity. Content not caught by section 18C would almost certainly be censored by current state religious vilification laws, which are specifically designed to target the kind of content published in Charlie Hebdo.”

“The attack on Charlie Hebdo is an attack on freedom of expression. And as Prime Minister Tony Abbott rightly noted in response to this atrocity, ‘Freedom of expression is the cornerstone of a free society.'”

For a little while there I thought there was some hope that sanity would prevail, and the silly idea to abandon the plan to repeal section 18C would be washed away by a renewed effort to enshrine freedom of speech in law, in an effort to show that we won’t kowtow to attempts by terrorists to intimidate us in to silence. Alas, instead, I found myself screaming at the radio yesterday when clips of Tony Abbott being interviewed on 3AW were played.

“I would prefer that 18c were not in its current terms but we made an attempt to amend it, it was obvious that that attempt to amend it was generating a lot of division in the community,” he said.

“The government made the decision not to proceed with it at this time and that remains the government’s position.”

(h/t Latika Bourke, Sydney Morning Herald)

Well that’s just silly Tony. The main reason for abandoning the changes was a perception that it was upsetting the Muslim community. Since the atrocities in France last week, the Muslim community and pretty much every other group which appeared to oppose the repeal of 18C have come out in support of freedom of speech, and in particular the type of speech which Charlie Hebdo published…this amounts to supporting the repeal of 18C. To not take advantage of this rare solidarity in favour of freedom of speech is either a boneheaded decision, or indicative of some other agenda…I honestly don’t know which one I’d prefer it to be. On the one hand one doesn’t want boneheaded decisions from governments (but they’re not uncommon), but on the other it can be very difficult to trust a government which has hidden and unknown motives.

But Tony wasn’t done.

Mr Abbott made his pledge [to repeal section 18C] after the laws were successfully used against News Corporation commentator Andrew Bolt in 2011 after he claimed a group of prominent Aborigines used their skin colour to seek professional advantages.

The Prime Minister said the Andrew Bolt prosecution was an “aberration”.

“I don’t believe that we are likely to see an Andrew Bolt prosecution again. If we do, let’s rethink things,” he said.

(h/t Latika Bourke, Sydney Morning Herald)

This is what really had me screaming at the radio. The law is broken and people who oppose freedom of speech know that it can be used to silence people who say things which offend anyone. Everyone in the country knows this law is an assault on freedom of speech (even if some would characterise it as some sort of necessary protection), and there is an opportunity to fix it right now. This is a rare opportunity which probably won’t last for long. It is inevitable that somebody will offend somebody else at some stage in the future and end up being silence by a court under this law…it might not be as high-profile a case as Andrew Bolt’s case, but it will happen. There is an opportunity to prevent this travesty of justice from happening, but it seems that Tony Abbott is comfortable to let it happen and only consider fixing it after the damage is done once again.

Ignoring a broken law will not magically fix the law.

Tony Abbott’s promise to repeal section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act was one of the core reasons for him having my full support, and was more important to me than some of the policies with which I took issue (such as Paid Parental Leave and Direct Action when Tony knows as well as I do that global warming does not require a government response). While I’m pleased with the work on stopping the flood of illegal immigrants and am seeing some slow progress on repairing the budget, I feel very betrayed by this unwillingness to do the right thing and follow through on the common-sense promise to repeal section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

This sort of betrayal makes small parties look appealing. Perhaps Tony Abbott should think about that before he next complains about his policies being obstructed by the small cross-bench parties.

Samuel

1 comment January 15th, 2015 at 10:06am

Andrew Moore leaving 2GB to go to ABC Grandstand

The best rugby league commentator in the business is calling it a day at 2GB and The Continuous Call Team, and is off to the ABC. Andrew’s last day at 2GB will be Friday of this week when he finishes up his final show filling in for breakfast presenter Alan Jones.

Andrew Moore in the 2GB Studios during a live cross to Seven's Sunrise program, as seen on the 2GB webcam. 13 July, 2012. Image credit: Macquarie Radio Network
Andrew Moore in the 2GB Studios during a live cross to Seven’s Sunrise program, as seen on the 2GB webcam. 13 July, 2012. Image credit: Macquarie Radio Network

An announcement was made today about Andrew’s departure although at this stage there has not been an official announcement about Andrew joining ABC Grandstand, however I have had it confirmed that Andrew has signed a contract with the ABC and it has been common knowledge at 2GB for a number of weeks.

Andrew’s departure leaves quite a hole in 2GB’s top rating rugby league coverage. Andrew was chief commentator for a few years when Ray Hadley reduced his radio commentary commitments and expanded to television commentary, however Ray resumed his role as chief commentator of The Continuous Call Team last year, taking over some of Andrew’s games. This is the third high-profile departure from 2GB’s Continuous Call Team in the space of a year, as they lost commentator Joel Caine last year in a dispute with rival NRL broadcaster Triple M over Joel’s role as a betting odds spruiker on both stations, and expert comments man Steve “Blocker” Roach late last year in a bullying complaint.

It was rumoured late in last year’s NRL season, a while before Andrew apparently signed with ABC Grandstand, that Andrew would go to the ABC, and sacked ABC commentator David Morrow, a friend of Ray Hadley, would move to 2GB. This is starting to look likely, although there is still the prospect of 2UE’s John Gibbs returning to 2GB’s Continuous Call Team later this year after the merger of the two stations’ respective parent companies is finalised. Only time will tell.

Meanwhile it looks like Steve “Blocker” Roach may become a regular fixture on Triple M’s commentary team after doing some off-season work there.

Andrew’s departure from 2GB leaves more than just a hole in their rugby league ranks, as Andrew was a regular fill-in host for a number of the “big name” hosts such as Alan Jones, Ray Hadley, and Ben Fordham, and hosted his own show “Wake Up Australia” at 4am on weekdays as a lead-in to Alan Jones’ breakfast show. I’m sure the hours were dreadful for Andrew given that he has a family to look after, but I thought Wake Up Australia was a perfect timeslot for him as he was very good at providing some early morning news and commentary while keeping a cheerful persona which works very well at that hour, and is a welcome change from overnight shows dragging their traditionally slower format all the way through to breakfast. I really enjoyed hearing Andrew at that hour, as I was often either finishing work or getting ready to start work…and I will especially miss my occasional chats with Andrew when I would call in at about 4:15am.

Michael McLaren will be taking over Wake Up Australia next week when the show returns from its summer hiatus, however as Michael has his own weekend overnight show, it is unclear if this is a permanent move.

One thing which may work in Andrew’s favour at the ABC is his television experience. For a few years he hosted an NRL panel discussion program for the Ten Network called “The Game Plan”. The show was probably part of Ten’s (sadly) unsuccessful efforts to secure some NRL rights and probably would have resulted in Andrew calling some games for Ten if they had been successful in gaining NRL rights. Alas once Ten’s bid for rights was unsuccessful, The Game Plan’s budget was reduced and it was shifted off to a multi-channel before eventually being cancelled.

Samuel with Andrew Moore in Ten's Pyrmont studios after the live broadcast of The Game Plan on September 15, 2011.
Samuel with Andrew Moore in Ten’s Pyrmont studios after the live broadcast of The Game Plan on September 15, 2011.

Unfortunately, unlike 2GB, ABC Grandstand do not usually post their commentator lineup online, so it could be a little difficult to know in advance which games he will be calling. I will certainly be listening to Andrew’s commentary as much as I can, but as I also like various other commentators at 2GB (Ray Hadley and Mark Levy in particular) and Triple M (Dan Ginnane and Anthony Maroon are both great callers, but I think they each work best with certain co-commentators) and so I expect I’m going to have an interesting year trying to figure out which commentary to listen to for any given match.

My very best wishes to Andrew. I hope he has oodles of success at the ABC, and maybe at long last will get to commentate on the Olympics! Good luck buddy!

Samuel

9 comments January 13th, 2015 at 06:57pm

Alan Jones live on 4BC Brisbane from next week

But for two weeks only, and surprisingly it has absolutely nothing to do with the upcoming merger of Fairfax Radio (owner of 4BC) and Macquarie Radio (owner of 2GB).

Radio Today is reporting on the interesting move which will see Alan Jones broadcasting for an extra hour each day. He will present his normal 5:30am – 9am show on 2GB Sydney, and then broadcast for an hour on 4BC from 8am to 9am Queensland time (9am to 10am Sydney time) with a show dealing primarily with the upcoming Queensland election.

According to Radio Today, the show will air on weekdays for two weeks only, starting on Monday January 19, and wrapping up on Friday January 30, the day before the election. No word as yet on whether it will air on Australia Day. The report indicates that this show will only be for 4BC, but I won’t be surprised if it ends up on Macquarie Radio’s regional Queensland stations as well.

I dare say that executives across Fairfax Radio and Macquarie Radio will be keeping an eye on how this show performs, as if it goes well, there is every chance that Alan’s daily hour of highlights show will be fast-tracked in to the 4BC schedule ahead of the merger.

In related news, Alan isn’t the only 2GB presenter returning from holidays next week. I’ve heard promos today for Ben Fordham returning next week. 2GB were originally not going to return to their normal schedule until January 27, but it looks like that has changed and next week’s schedule might be very close to normal, even if one or two people are still away.

Samuel

1 comment January 12th, 2015 at 06:35pm

Good news for Queenslanders on the chances of a cyclone hitting Queensland this week

There has been news over the last couple of days about the Bureau of Meteorology getting a little worked-up about a cyclone developing this week and then hitting the Queensland coast.

A low pressure system is currently over the Coral Sea about 250 to 280 kilometres northeast of Cooktown, north of Cairns.

The Bureau of Meteorology says it’s likely the weather system will move close to the coast north of Cooktown on Tuesday or Wednesday.

(h/t Sky News & AAP)

I thought I’d look in to this as I recently bought and received Ken Ring’s ACT/NSW weather almanac for 2015.

Ken Ring's 2015 ACT/NSW weather almanac

So far Ken has been accurate in my area if I allow a day of leeway. My book focuses on the ACT & NSW area but also contains national predicted synoptic charts and rainfall maps for each day of the year. His national synoptic charts have also been a close match to actual daily measurements, give or take a day.

Ken’s synoptic charts agree with the Bureau about a cyclone forming off the Queensland coast this week, however he does not show it reaching land. Instead he shows it getting close enough to bring some rain, but then it changes direction and hits New Zealand’s North Island. Alas as I don’t have his Queensland or New Zealand almanacs, I don’t have access to his detailed daily predictions for these places and thus don’t know how much rain he expects in Queensland or how strong he thinks the cyclone system will be when it reaches New Zealand.

I’m looking forward to keeping an eye on this one and seeing how Ken’s predictions pan out.

Samuel

Add comment January 12th, 2015 at 06:47am

Some NFL tips

This was going to form part of a Sunday Bits post, but I don’t have time to finish today’s Sunday Bits before kickoff as my work commitments won’t allow for it.

In today’s games I’m tipping Baltimore to defeat New England, and Seattle to defeat Carolina.

Tomorrow’s games: Green Bay to defeat Dallas, and Indianapolis to defeat Denver.

I really couldn’t decide on the Green Bay & Dallas game, so I went with the result of Glenn Beck’s Moron Trivia, which fills much of the second hour of his radio show on Fridays and involves calling random people in the places from which the teams in one of the weekend’s matches hail, asking them really simple questions (which many answer incorrectly) and deciding the winner of the match based on which location gave the most correct answers. It, surprisingly, has a decent strike rate. As I couldn’t decide on this match, I went with the result of Moron Trivia which gave Green Bay a decent victory.

I should note that these are the only games this weekend. In Australia they are all live on 7mate. In order of the games listed above, they start today at 8:30am and noon, and tomorrow at 5am and 8:30am. All times listed in AEDT.

Samuel

Add comment January 11th, 2015 at 08:26am

The 2015 2UE, 3AW, and 4BC presenter shake shuffle and confuse

It’s that time of year again where 2UE announce a bunch of changes to their presenter lineup. This year it involves the other east coast Fairfax stations in a bit of a shuffle.

The big change at 2UE is that Clive Robertson, the standout weekday ratings performer for the station (I shudder to think how low 2UE’s full-day ratings figures would be without Clive), is out. He is being replaced by Walter Williams whose show will be networked out of 4BC Brisbane. This show will be extended by an hour to run 7pm – Midnight instead of Clive’s timeslot of 8pm-Midnight. Fairfax Radio is saying Clive “decided not to return”, although the impression I’m getting from a few sources is that this is not entirely accurate. I wouldn’t expect to hear anything contradictory to it publicly though, given the contractual obligations on Fairfax and Clive.
This almost certainly means we will hear less of Mike Jeffreys who has been regularly filling-in for Clive.

As part of the Walter Williams move, 2UE’s Sports Today show with John Gibbs will be reduced to one hour, running from 6pm-7pm. Co-Host Greg “Brandy” Alexander left the show at the end of last year to focus on his Fox Sports duties.

2UE and 4BC will continue to run Luke Bona’s overnight show, however in a very unexpected move, 3AW will also take this show, replacing Andrew McLaren (no relation to 2GB’s weekend overnight host Michael McLaren) and Mark Petkovic who were apparently made aware of the decision yesterday. This is a peculiar move for Fairfax Radio in that Andrew and Mark work well in the Melbourne market but when Fairfax tried to network their show in to Sydney, Brisbane and regional markets in recent years it caused a massive listener backlash outside of Melbourne. Sydney presenters also rarely go down well with the Melbourne audience, so if this goes as well as the last overnight networking attempt, Andrew and Mark could be back after a couple months of holidays.

Even more odd for the overnights is that weekend overnights will be networked out of 3AW Melbourne (presumably presented by existing 3AW weekend overnight host Alan Pearsall, unless Andrew and Mark are moved to weekends). Back when the 3AW weekday overnight show was networked, weekends remained separate so that the 3AW show could focus on AFL and the 2UE/4BC show could focus on NRL. It will be interesting to see how 3AW’s show handles NRL discussion. This change also means that 2UE & 4BC’s weekend overnight host John Cadogan is out. He will fill-in for Tim Webster on weekend afternoons this weekend and then will be relegated to the subs bench, awaiting a fill-in job.

Update 6:36pm: A strange thing pops up when one does a Google Image search for “Alan Pearsall Radio”
Alan Pearsall on 2UE

To the best of my knowledge, Alan Pearsall has only ever hosted a show on 2UE briefly. This was when Tim Shaw in Sydney went on holidays while the Melbourne weekday overnight show was being networked in 2012, and so Alan’s 3AW show was extended to 2UE for two weekends. I’d be surprised if that was a long enough period of time for that image to have been produced, which makes me think it has been produced for the expansion of his 3AW show to the network.
Unfortunately I can’t confirm where or when that image was made as the page Google alleges it is on, shows no sign of it.
End Update

Of course, we still have the finalisation of the Fairfax/Macquarie merger to come in a few months, so this could all change again before winter arrives.

For the information in this post, thanks go to a few people who can be named publicly: Jason Morrison, John Cadogan, Ash Long, and Radio Today. Thanks also go to some people who can’t be named…you know who you are.

Samuel

1 comment January 9th, 2015 at 06:12pm

Friday Funnies: The Breathe Easies. It’d be funny if it wasn’t funded by taxpayers

There are a handful of community service announcements being run in the US at the moment reminding people to do some really obvious things such as “vacuum up the floor”. It’s a little hard to tell who the target audience is as they come in the form of bizarre little animated music videos which carry all of the characteristics of an animation aimed at small children, which seems odd for messages which are surely targeted at adults.

They are striking for their peculiarity on radio…but the video versions…wow! There’s some laughter there, but I have no words.

Samuel

2 comments January 9th, 2015 at 05:04am

Behold and Witness, Jehovah’s blinding light of Dickson

One of the unusual little changes in Canberra over the Christmas/New Year period occurred on Antill Street in Dickson where the Jehovah’s Witnesses made a change to their humble little unassuming Kingdom Hall.

They added an incredibly bright sign to the Antill St side of the building. This light stands out a lot on this dark side of this primarily residential street.

Kingdom Hall in Dickson at night

The sign is so bright that, from this angle, it appears in photos as just another light on the building. To get a shot of the sign where it is readable, the building has to become almost invisible.

JW.org sign on Kingdom Hall in Dickson at night

The sign was quite startling on the first night, and while it still stands out a lot, I would now describe it as merely distracting, now that I’m used to it.

During daylight hours though, it is almost unnoticeable as it fits in with the building quite well.

Kingdom Hall in Dickson

In fact if you compare that photo to a picture from Google Street View, you probably wouldn’t even notice the difference unless you were actively looking for it.

Kingdom Hall in Dickson before the JW.org sign was added
(h/t Google Street View)

I do wonder what the residents on the other side of the street make of it?

Samuel

Add comment January 8th, 2015 at 12:00pm

Islamic terrorists kill a dozen in France; the hesitation to call them terrorists helps the terrorist cause

Islamic terrorists struck a satirical newspaper in France killing a dozen people. The newspaper in question had not been afraid to call describe Islamic terrorists as terrorists, and to comment on their actions, and was probably targeted because of this…they’ve certainly received plenty of threats in the past.

The “Religion of Peace” struck again today against the West, this time in the heart of France, which has more Muslims per capita than any other E.U. nation.

Black-clad gunmen stormed the Paris offices of a satirical newspaper known for lampooning Islamic radicals early Wednesday, killing 12 and injuring as many as 15 before escaping, French officials said..

As many as three Kalashnikov-toting shooters were being sought after the attack at Charlie Hebdo, the newspaper known for challenging Muslim terrorists with a 2011 caricature of Prophet Mohammed on its cover and which recently tweeted a cartoon of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Two policemen and several journalists were among the dead.

“We’ve avenged the honor of the prophet!” the killers shouted, according to witnesses who spoke to Sky News.

Stunning video shows the gunmen brazenly strolling down a Paris sidestreet with their AK-47s shouting “Allahu Akbar”, opening fire on a policeman, then as he lies on the ground, finishing him off with a head shot.

(h/t Brian Hayes, Top Right News)

Update 10:49am: YouTube have removed the video previously posted here via Top Right News. Dar0s Studios posted a more graphic version of the video on Facebook which is now included below, replacing the previous YouTube video. Thanks to Casey Hendrickson for the link. End Update
Content Warning: graphic uncensored terrorist violence

Amazingly it seems that the reaction from French police was hindered by the fact that many police there choose to not be armed!

Several Paris police officers who came into contact with the armed terrorists who slaughtered 10 journalists at the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical magazine, retreated from the gunmen because they were unarmed, according to an eyewitness.
[..]
Paris police officers have the option of carrying firearms, though many choose not to.

(h/t Chuck Ross, The Daily Caller)

There are places where general duties police officers are not allowed to carry a gun, and that is mystifying enough…but for a law enforcement officer to choose to not be armed despite being the front line of law and order and consequently being a target of any armed nutter…I can’t comprehend the logic in that decision.

Meanwhile, sadly, it seems that once again certain countries which should be showing strong leadership against such brutal terrorist acts, are once again showing ineptitude.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest made multiple media appearances this morning across many hours, all of which were after French President Francois Hollande called this event an act of terrorism, and for hours Mr. Earnest refused to call it an act of terrorism. He finally, hours later, changed his mind when he appeared on Fox News, but then couldn’t provide any reasonable explanation as to why he’d changed his mind, and why he’d previously spent so long refusing to call it terrorism.

“As you rightly point out, the French president called this a terrorist attack, without a doubt. Last hour, you called them perpetrators. I’m trying to figure out why the language changed,” Fox’s Bill Hemmer told Earnest. “Did you get different information, are you characterizing in a different way, Josh? What is it?”

“What we’re seeing here is an event that just occurred a couple hours ago,” Earnest said “We’re still learning details exactly what happened. But what is clear this is an act much violence, an act of terrorism, that we condemn in the strongest possible terms and we’re going to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our allies in France.”

(h/t Al Weaver, The Daily caller)

The French are still learning details too, but it didn’t take them hours to figure out the basic facts of what happened.

Unfortunately this is all too common with this White House. Many-a-time they have refused to call a terrorist attack a terrorist attack, with probably the most egregious example being when they lied through their teeth about who attacked the US Consulate in Benghazi, and why they did it, blaming the incident on an anti-Islamic video that had absolutely nothing to do with it, when the attack was actually the work of Al Qaeda.

I’m not blaming Barack Obama or his administration for today’s terrorist attack in France, but I will say that it is just another example of how his weak foreign policy and weak responses to terrorist attacks of this type help to foster an environment where terrorists feel freer to roam and do their dastardly deeds, as they know it is unlikely they will be brought to account for their actions, especially when so many countries wait for their lead from the US before doing anything themselves.

Samuel

3 comments January 8th, 2015 at 04:46am

I’m surprised it doesn’t happen more often

I saw it a lot when I was in the US last year, especially in the colder northern states where Winter had no intention of letting up, and I did wonder how many cars are stolen because of it. My initial thought was the risk of being shot while stealing a car probably deters most casual opportunistic joyriders, but for some that risk might seem better than the risk of freezing in the elements.

BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. – Car thefts have risen drastically since the first of January in Blue Springs.
[..]
“Within the last six days, there have been eight car thefts, five of them between the hours of 5 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. on a Monday morning,” [Jennifer Dachenhausen, Public Information Officer and Crime Analyst for the Blue Springs Police Department] says. “These cars were all left unattended to warm up, before people headed to work.”

(emphasis added)
(h/t KMBZ Radio, Kansas City)

As I did a bit of driving at night in the cold and snowy bits of the US last year, I probably saw more than my fair share of unattended cars which had been left running. The time which struck me as being most peculiar was seeing about a dozen cars in the carpark of a 24/7 Walmart, with about eight or nine of them running unattended, at about 9pm, in the small town of Fort Dodge, Iowa. It was snowing and there appeared to be more running cars in the carpark than customers in the store, which led me to believe some of the running cars belonged to staff. The carpark was also almost devoid of people and I really doubt that anybody would have noticed if somebody had just hopped in to someone else’s car and driven off.

The article has another peculiar line which caught my attention when I heard it mentioned on KMBZ earlier today.

Since the thefts, two of the cars have been located at two different hotels in the Blue Springs area.

Could it be that tourists without their own transport, not wanting to wait in sub-freezing windy and snowy weather for a taxi, opted for a convenient but illegal method of transportation? Given how cold it gets there, I can understand if they did…not that I would endorse it, but I do understand the motivation.

Submitting insurance claims on those thefts must be a very interesting and difficult experience.

Samuel

2 comments January 7th, 2015 at 05:56pm

Currong Apartments are about to meet their maker

Over the last few weeks, the fences have gone up around the Currong Apartments in Braddon, and so the days are numbered for this rather dodgy bit of Canberra.

Currong Apartments fenced in
Currong Apartments fenced in
Currong Apartments fenced in

Interestingly the power is still on in there as some of the lights in the common areas were on went I went by, and could be seen from outside the fence.

Also interesting is that one of the abandoned cars in the carpark was not removed before the fences went up.

Abandoned car within the Currong Apartments complex

And for purposes of comparison, here is a photo taken from Currong St yesterday.
Currong Apartments fenced in, as seen from Currong St

And a photo from the archives of Samuel’s Blog, taken in January 2007.
Currong Apartments in January 2007, as seen from Currong St

It will be very interesting to see how the demolition takes place as the building is very close to a lot of other residences and many types of quick demolitions would be inappropriate due to the disruption or mess they would cause.

Samuel

2 comments January 7th, 2015 at 10:40am

If the Republicans want to regain the trust of their conservative base, dumping Speaker Boehner would be a good start

Update 5:57am: Boehner has been re-elected as Speaker, which is a shame as I doubt even the scare of discontent among conservatives will be enough to make him work towards more conservative ends. End update

The Republicans won a majority in both the House and Senate at last year’s mid-term election, not because they necessarily stood for certain actions or programs or initiatives (with the exception of some local candidates, as a whole they stood for no new actions), but rather because the voters want someone to stop or at least slow Obama down.

Unfortunately, shortly after winning this majority of both houses of Congress, the remaining Republicans in the lame-duck session of the Congress late last year sided with the Democrats to pass a full-year funding measure which does nothing to slow Obama, and in fact helps him as it makes it easier for him to bypass congress with executive actions on things such as amnesty for illegal immigrants. This was a clear betrayal of the people who voted for Republicans last year who expected Republicans to pass a short-term spending bill which would put the next spending bill under the control of this congress which has a Republican majority in both houses and barely needs to worry about appeasing Democrats, and thus would allow for defunding of programs which Republicans (and their voters) oppose.

Sadly, this was par for the course for much of the Republican leadership, especially Speaker Of The House John Boehner.

The good news is that the new House must elect a speaker, and John Boehner faces serious challenges, such as conservative Louie Gohmert.

Texas Republican Louie Gohmert announced Sunday morning on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends” that he would throw his hat into the ring, saying he’s officially a candidate for the speaker gig.

Gohmert’s announcement comes as Boehner’s approval from conservative voters sags.

Gohmert’s office also sent a statement to TheBlaze[..]
***
After the November elections gave Republicans control of the Senate, voters made clear they wanted change. There have been numerous examples of problematic Republican leadership, but we were hopeful our leaders got the voters’ message. However, after our Speaker forced through the CRomnibus by passing it with Democratic votes and without time to read it, it seemed clear that we needed new leadership. There had been much discussion. But, until yesterday, no one had stepped up.

I applaud my friend Rep. Ted Yoho for putting his name forward as an alternative to the status quo. Ted is a good man for whom I could vote, but I have heard from many supporters and also friends in Congress who have urged me to put forward my name for Speaker as well to increase our chances of change. That is why I am also offering my name as a candidate for Speaker.
[..]
At this point, the Speaker’s election is not about a particular candidate. It is about whether we keep the status quo or make the change the country demands. I am putting forward my name for consideration as Speaker and hope that with a new Speaker, be that me or someone else, we can fight for the ideals and principles that the voters wanted when they elected us in November.
***
In TheBlaze’s Saturday poll on who should be the House Speaker, Gohmert snagged 16 percent of the vote, putting him firmly at No. 2 on the seven-person list.

TheBlaze readers’ favorite pick among the options provided: South Carolina Republican Trey Gowdy, whose nearly 10,000 votes gave him 70 percent of the poll participants.

(h/t Zach Noble, The Blaze)

Today we have confirmation that the moves to dump Speaker Boehner and respect the wishes of the electorate are growing, seemingly to the amazement of Capitol Hill newspaper The Hill:

A bloc of at least 15 conservative lawmakers will vote Tuesday to deny John Boehner a third term as Speaker[..]
The incumbent Speaker, who is facing long-shot challenges from two Tea Party favorites — Reps. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) and Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) — needs support from a simple majority of the lawmakers present to secure another two years as the House leader.

That magic number won’t be known until the vote, given a number of absences. Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R-Miss.) will miss the vote as he undergoes medical treatment. A number of New York Democrats will be attending a funeral of former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo. And the inclement weather could delay some lawmakers trying to make their way to Washington.

(h/t Scott Wong, The Hill)

It will be an interesting vote in Washington, and without wanting to overstate the case, I think dumping John Boehner as speaker is not only the right thing to do, but could be crucial if there is to be a good chance of a conservative Republican elected to the White House in 2016, as failing to dump Speaker Boehner will make it very difficult to show the public clear differences between Republicans and Democrats at election time.

Samuel

Add comment January 7th, 2015 at 04:58am

ACT Government considering a tax on something already funded by a tax

The ACT Government is considering implementing a “container deposit scheme” which would add 10 cents to the cost of drinks sold in recyclable containers such as plastic bottles or in cans. The idea is pretty simple: ten cents is added to the cost of the drink, and you (or anybody else) can redeem the ten cents if you return the container to a special recycling location…although The Canberra Times has a much more convoluted way of describing it which almost excludes the consumer from funding it and instead makes it sound like consumers profit from it:

ACT Environment Minister Simon Corbell says Canberra would probably follow NSW into a scheme that paid people 10 cents a pop to return cans and other drinks containers.

Container deposit schemes are industry funded – paid for through a levy on the cost of drinks – and have been strongly opposed by the big drinks manufacturers and by some states, with attempts to develop a national scheme failing.

(h/t Kirsten Lawson, The Canberra Times)

It pays people to return drink containers? Ummm, not quite…it returns the money which was already paid by the customer.

It’s industry funded? Well, if we ignore the consumer-funded levy for a moment, from an administrative standpoint that might be true as it costs money to administer such a scheme and if the entire ten cent levy is being returned to the customer when the container is returned, then the administration costs have to come from elsewhere, and obviously it will come from the drink manufacturers. It fits in well with the saying “a fine is a tax for doing something wrong, and a tax is a fine for doing something right”.

It could be argued that not everyone will return drink containers to the special recycling centres, and the levy from those containers could fund the administrative costs…but alas, as per the proposed NSW scheme which the ACT wants to follow:

Containers could also be recycled as usual in household recycling but in that case the council would redeem them and get the refund.

(h/t Kirsten Lawson, The Canberra Times)

ACT taxpayers (and NSW ratepayers for that matter) already pay for recycling services which handle such drink containers, so all this does is tax them a further ten cents per container for a service which they’re already paying, unless they choose to go out of their way by taking the drink containers to special locations in which case they get their ten cents back, but the drink manufacturers still have administrative costs which they will undoubtedly add to the cost of drinks.

This scheme is allegedly designed to improve recycling rates and reduce the amount of recyclable materials going to landfill, but there are two big problems with it.
1. The latest recycling statistics available from the ACT Government’s website suggest that 75% of recyclable materials are being recycled (as of 2010/2011, an increase of 4% of 2009/2010), and this rate is increasing year-on-year. The vast majority of people are already recycling such materials, and this scheme punishes them for “doing the right thing” unless they go out of their way to do so in specific locations.
2. Other items can still be recycled through standard domestic household recycling services at no extra cost, so even if 100% of drink containers are recycled through the new scheme, trucks will need to continue with their existing suburban runs to deal with other recyclables. When this is added to the number of individuals making trips to these new recycling locations with their drink bottles, and (in the case of NSW’s proposed “reverse vending machines” in public locations) the extra trips by trucks transporting the bottles from the “reverse vending machines” to the recycling depot, what we have is a much less efficient recycling scheme in terms of the number of vehicle trips required to deal with the transportation of recyclable materials.

These container deposit schemes made sense at a time when recycling schemes were new and an incentive such as “have your levy back” helped to educate people to recycle, but at a time when three quarters (and increasing) of recyclable material is being recycled, this is an inefficient scheme which places an unnecessary impost on drink manufacturers, and punishes people for doing what, up until now, governments have insisted is the right thing to do.

Samuel

3 comments January 6th, 2015 at 03:57am

Government-run terrorism insurance scheme’s unintended consequences are hampering businesses

The Sydney Morning Herald had an interesting story this morning about a federal government scheme which is designed to take over from insurance companies in the event of a terrorist incident.

Sydney retailers whose earnings were slashed by up to 70 per cent during the Martin Place siege face smaller insurance payouts if the siege is deemed a terrorism event, because a government body will step in to curb insurers’ losses.
[..]
Under legislation passed following the September 11 attacks in America, the federal Treasurer can declare certain events to be acts of terrorism for insurance purposes.

In those circumstances a federally funded body, the Australian Reinsurance Pool Corporation, can step in to assess the likely loss from the incident and, where necessary, reduce the scope of claim liability for insurers. The aim of the arrangement is to shield insurers from catastrophic losses and thus ensure they continue to offer the products.

(h/t Mathew Dunckley and Lisa Visentin, The Sydney Morning Herald)

The article goes on to quote a spokesperson from IAG who says the federal government’s decision, regardless of the decision, is unlikely to affect how IAG pays out claims for loss of trade, but completely ignores something which came up on 2GB this morning…the federal government scheme is designed to insure for loss of buildings and does not cover loss of trade, but is set up in such a way that it can effectively nullify any need for insurers to pay out any claims if the incident is declared to be an act of terrorism. This is currently delaying the processing of claims with some insurers as they wait to see if they will need to pay anything, and has the potential to leave some businesses seriously out of pocket despite paying for insurance for exactly this type of event.

It’s just another example of how governments interfering with private business arrangements often leads to all sorts of unintended consequences, partially because governments rarely understand the private sector well enough to write rules which work, partially because governments take time to process things which cause debilitating delays to the private sector which doesn’t have the benefit of ongoing funding from taxpayers, and also because such rules are so often filled with easily exploited loopholes which bureaucrats often can’t anticipate because they’re not familiar with life outside the public sector.

I wrote an email to 2GB’s Luke Grant (who is currently filling in for Ray Hadley and Chris Smith across the middle of the day) about this shortly after he conducted an interview (from memory I think it was with Russell Zimmerman from the Australian Retailers Association, Update: It was, and audio of the interview is on 2GB’s website End Update) on the topic.

Good morning Luke,

This terrorism insurance debacle is a perfect example of the unintended consequences which occur when a well-intentioned government interferes with private business dealings.

It’s amazing that with so many bureaucrats writing the rules, government terrorism insurance for building loss can somehow nullify private “loss of trade” insurance, and nobody in government sees the problem. Unfortunately it’s all too common that bureaucrats who live in government land rather than the real world cause such a mess, and of course the private insurers don’t oppose the measures when the government makes them because they can see just how much money they’ll save.

It’s a mess which would never occur if governments kept their noses out rather than interfering with every little thing.

Regards,
Samuel Gordon-Stewart
Canberra, Australia

In this case the good intention of the government was to ensure insurance companies don’t go under while trying to pay out terrorism-related claims. Unfortunately, as is usually the case with such bailout type programs, it ignores the simple economic fact that if a product can’t be offered viably at a price which people will pay, it probably shouldn’t exist, and certainly shouldn’t rely on some magical fallback position of a government bailout from finite taxpayer funds. Sadly it seems that far too many people and industries see the government as a magic pot of infinite money and forget that government money only exists because it is legally confiscated from people via taxation, and thus should be treated with more respect and not expected to be a magical fix for every ill.

Samuel

Add comment January 5th, 2015 at 12:49pm

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