Archives: February 2010

You know when a government come up with something that just really stinks of “cooked up by a PR company”? To give him credit, our State Premier John Brumby took on board that the recent attacks on Indian students and workers in Melbourne really did have a racist component and didn’t try to take the “Racist? Who? Us? How dare you!” route. But. Come on. Wasn’t there anyone in the State PR machine to say “hang on a minute guys, I think this might cause widespread uncontrollable laughter, eyerolling and blowing of mighty raspberries from the people we are trying to impress with our Sincerity™?

A FORMER AFL footballer is the nation’s first “respect” minister after being appointed by the Victorian government to tackle the growing racism and alcohol fuelled violence problems in the state.
Premier John Brumby announced Justin Madden would be the minister for the “respect agenda” as part of his election year cabinet reshuffle following the shock resignation of embattled Transport Minister Lynne Kosky this week.

I mean… Madden! Not only does he come from the background of Australian Rules football – a milieu which is trying with limited success to shake off its reputation for a lack of respect when it comes to women and people of other races and cultures. He’s also the minister least likely to be associated with the word “respect” by the long suffering inhabitants of Victoria. He has a long history of showing respect to developers and money, and none to architecturally significant buildings, grasslands, coastal communities or the planning rules set up to make our city livable. This leaked email about setting up a false public consultation process for a development has shown just how much respect Madden and the Vic Government have for the people of his State and the iconic buildings and places which they love.

Really, I’m not under any illusion that the Victorian government has our best interests at heart – let alone those of international students – but you’d think with all the money from developers pouring into the party coffers, they’d be able to come up with a more sophisticated PR response to the problem.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T – Find out what it means, before you create a ministry of it.
Crossposted at Larvatus Prodeo, with bonus Bernice

This is My Definition of a Boombastic Jazz Style by the Dream Warriors, from Canada. I love Acid Jazz and I think this is one of my favourite things ever.

The Head tune is from Quincy Jones’ Soul Bossa Nova (Roland Kirk is the flautist).

Here’s a thought experiment: What do you think the Dream Warriors’ homage to / quotation of Soul Bossa Nova would have done for this recording’s sales, given that it’s obscure back catalogue which previously would have to have been hunted down by afictionados who knew of its existence in the first place (barring the odd brilliant remainder bin accident, and we’ve all had ’em.)

Probably the bump would have been small, but it would have advanced the original artists a bit among a demographic which wouldn’t have discovered them otherwise. Even if in a small way. Discuss.

Let’s hope the Dream Warriors avoid the notice of rent seeking parasites.

More here and here.

Yes, I’m looking at the Australian Liberal party, who have gleefully piled onto Peter Garrett and called for his resignation over the Insulation scheme debacle (which is predictably being called Insulationgate), but don’t seem to know that their arses are on fire.

Now, sure, I’m predisposed to like the guy. But let it be known I’m not particularly keen to fight Garrett’s corner as a minister in the Labor government. I’m the Voter who Cannot Love*, after all. He, like Julia, has broken my heart over environmental and Arts policies. No, I don’t think parachute-in celebrity politicians are necessarily a good thing, and I also think he’s overfaced. He was given too much responsibility, too quickly. The fact that every right wing hack was automatically programmed to hate him was just icing on the cake.

Should he move aside into a less demanding portfolio to gain more experience? Should he sit down and have a big think about whether the realpolitik of the Labor tent has negated his entire life’s work on environmental issues? Yes and yes. Should he stand aside because his position has become completely untenable and he’s electoral poison? Or because, in some quaint and symbolic way, in the Westminster system a Minister is required to fall on his or her sword for the actions of other people? Probably. But should he stand aside, or be sacked, because he bears some kind of moral responsibility for the four workplace deaths that have happened since the inception of the insulation scheme? That is such a pack of horse hockey I’m unable to contain my rage.

Gosh, it’s touching that the Liberal party has suddenly discovered workplace deaths in the building industry. When they were in power, those despised Unions were constantly trying to tell them. About forty people a year, more or less, die in Australia every year. Are the other thirty-six people who died in Australia in the last year chopped liver, just because they don’t come with a Ministerial scalp? I don’t hear any outrage in doorstop interviews about them.

The four people (some of them boys) died for the usual reason: because their employers ignored occupational health and safety practice (as well as ordinary common sense). The employer of the worker who died in October could possibly claim ignorance about the metal fasteners used with metal foil insulation close to wiring. The others couldn’t, because Garrett didn’t do nothing: he moved to ban the fasteners in November. Two more workers died as a direct result of the employer ignoring a new regulation which Garrett himself had put in place, as well as one from heat stroke, again the employer’s responsibility. To quote one commenter, the responsibility to run a safe workplace lies with the employers.

Now we have the Liberals shouting that Peter Garrett should have micromanaged the scheme to the point of overseeing every employer, perhaps, I don’t know, climbing into every roof space himself. This is the same Liberal party mainly composed of people who see every government regulation as a slippery slope to socialism. This is the Liberal party whose constituency is business groups which oppose industry regulation as “anti-business”.

These are the people who claim to espouse a doctrine of individual responsibility, but because it suits them at the moment, they’re willing to abandon that. “If you don’t like my principles, I have others”, I guess? See Also, the invisible hand of the Market sorting things out? When push comes to shove, this incident has shown that they really know it’s a crock.

So, Libs, if you want to claim your prize Ministerial Scalp at the prize desk, I think you should have to fess up that the despised unions were right all along and that government oversight of private industry is totes necessary (and that at the moment you’re calling for government micromanagement on a scale hardly known except in command economies). Also, that conservatives are for Individual Responsibility, except where you can blame something on someone you don’t like.

Also, that your arses are on fire.
*Just like Chilly, the Elf who Cannot Love.

10 Feb 2010, Comments (16)

But he meant it to be ironic!

Author: Helen

Pic of a woman crushed under a giant, retro iron, with caption "Don't let your iron get you down..."

Well, we can settle in for an entertaining year in which the hairy and hilarious leader of the opposition competes with his shadow cabinet for Tool of the Week. It’s got to the stage where HAT has an ongoing Obligatory Tony Abbott said What Now? thread.

For those outside the country, his latest effort was:

“What the housewives of Australia need to understand as they do the ironing, is that if they get it done commercially, it’s gonna go up in price, and their own power bills as they switch the iron on are gonna go up every year, I mean…”

Which immediately, of course, brought on some hilarious tweets and comments. The winner was Zoe, prize: One medium sized internet.

@crazybrave: I would like to iron Tony Abbot’s budgie smugglers. While he was in them.
@tobiasziegler: “We respect women’s right to wear the burqa, but it’s just one more thing they have to iron.”
@jeanburgess: I can only understand national policy through examples of how it might affect my daily life as an ordinary housewife. Thanks, Tony Abbott!
@tammois I know, let’s hook Abbott up with Palin to go rule Planet Stupid and Offensive.
@antipodeankate: I’m not ironing because I am busy crocheting my husband a pipe, shaking up a litre of martini and organising his ties.
I leave the house for half an hour and Tony Abbott says something guaranteed to annoy me… I’m a wife, I’m in my house, I’m not ironing.
@TimDunlop What conservative pols of Aust have to think about when they are fantasising about housewives doing ironing is that it’s best not to share

And from the bloggiverse, some wise advice for young Tones from Paul Burns commenting on LP:

…(S)tay away from wimminz ishoos. They already know you are a turd. You don’t have to prove it over and over again day after day.

Some people think he just has to be on the ALP payroll. It does make a kind of sense.

The image above represents my vision of life under a Liberal government with Abbott as PM; I stole it from Antipodean Kate.

two dogs looking away from the camera

Last Saturday I nearly killed Ollie.

I’ll tell this story all arse about, otherwise it might scare you if you’re one of the people who read here and love the Ollmeister. So, ending first: Ollie is here, alive and undamaged, with his cheery, rather bumptious personality intact. We’ve just been snuggling on the couch with a DVD, after he’s circled the park at normal warp speed, played bitey-face with Maggie and scoffed his dinner.


Wow, a famous blogger and scientist coming to my town! When I found out last year that Pharyngula blogger P Z Myers would be coming to Melbourne this march for the Global Atheist Convention, I thought it’d be fun to book a few seats and see who might be interested in coming. I thought I might bring my Dad, a determined atheist, as well, although he wouldn’t be physically up to it unless the disabled access was well up to scratch.

Looks like I won’t be going at all, though. The convention’s already sold out, and it’s sold out as an indirect consequence of the Australian government favouring religious events over secular ones (with some notable exceptions, see below.)

Last year, the Parliament of the Worlds Religions received $2 million in funding from the Federal government, plus half a mil from the City Council, while the Atheist convention received nothing from any level of government. Some people (see the Pharyngula thread I linked to in the first paragraph) would say that it’s not the Government’s place to fund any particular event. I could go along with that, except that it seems to be their place to fund religious conferences.

Oh, but, you’ll say, the Victorian State government gives plenty of money to secular events. Yeah, the ones which are elevated to quasi-religions: AFL football celebrations and the Grand Prix, Festival of the Great God Car, which is costing us around $40 – $50 million this year.

I’m glad that the convention sold out, but disappointed to miss out on P.Z. And I’m disappointed that religious events can attract Government sponsorship (while many religions are awash with followers’ money) and a secular event is given the thumbs down. I would expect that in the US, but not here.