Revisiting May 2016

Yes we have an election in Oz

Posted on May 12, 2016 by Neil

It is a rather long affair this time, but as nothing compared with the interminable goings-on in US elections. But of course we are not electing a president. We already have a head of state.

Here in Wollongong I am in the seat of Cunningham. All I can vote for is the representative for that seat. I do not vote for a Prime Minister, who will be whoever leads the party that controls the House of Representatives. Of course many of us vote for our local representative in line with the party whose leader we want as Prime Minister, so there is a “presidential” element to the election, but ideally not. As it happens I am quite satisfied with Sharon Bird, our local member. As of this moment the current governing party, the Liberal Party led by Malcolm Turnbull, has not selected a candidate for this electorate. I am sure they will. I am equally sure whoever it is has Buckley’s chance  of winning.

Meantime, consider Malcolm Turnbull. I used to rather like him, but as I said on Facebook the other day:

I fear we are doomed to hear countless variations on Malcolm Turnbull’s “most exciting time to be a wombat” speech over the next two months. It has already lost its freshness for me…

One of my ex-students from long ago commented: not as bad as having to listen to the inane mantra “jobs and growth”, “jobs and growth”, “jobs and growth”, oh yeah and “jobs and growth”

Or as someone in the Herald letters has it, a character (maybe a footballer?) called Jobson Grothe.

Love this cartoon from the Bendigo Advertiser.


Voting for the Senate promises more scope. I will really have to think this one through. It isn’t every day we get to choose ALL the senators in one go. And for what it is worth I think I like the revision to the ballot papers.

For more good stuff on OzPoll 2016 see Australia Votes, Promise Tracker and The Poll Bludger.

The night-man cometh…

Posted on May 16, 2016 by Neil

Wonderful post on “Flashback Friday” on Shellharbour History in Photos the other day. Reminded me of a couple of posts on Ninglun’s Specials. First About the Whitfields: Wandering Willie’s Tales:

We had an outside toilet, of course, Sutherland not being sewered then; in fact I did not live in a place with a proper sewered toilet until we moved to Cronulla; Jannali and Oyster Bay had septic tanks. There were weekly visits by the dunny man, who came in a malodorous truck and left a Christmas Card in the toilet every year, a rhyming thing from “The Man Who Comes Around”. The custom was to leave a couple of bottles of beer in the toilet in exchange. It was good to keep onside with the dunny man, as he could easily spill his load where you didn’t want it, accidentally of course, if you offended him. Fear is having to go the toilet on dunny man day, knowing he might come barging in and take the can in mid act, so to speak. He never did of course.


Fear was also having to go there at night, since it was the abode of redback spiders (quite venomous) and one took a candle and newspaper to light, to flush the buggers out before you sat down. Happiness was being the first to use a fresh can. At night of course we usually used chamber pots, and the least enviable household chore for a kid was having to “empty the slops.” This is partly why every backyard had a patch of rampant nasturtium or pumpkin vines. I once caught my brother doing something strange into the chamber pot. He tried to explain to me there was something in his penis (a word he did not use — I think he just said “in there” as we rarely mentioned our bodily parts) and it had to get out, and not to tell Mum. I was suitably mystified.

Good heavens! Did I write that? True though.

The second post deals with a later time: Towns I’ve stayed in 2 — Dorrigo:

I was staying with a friend who was acting Presbyterian Minister at the time. Greg and Helen; no surnames, in view of the anecdote coming up, though I did get to recall it with Helen in much more recent days. The parkland I do recall, as desperation led us to “steal” (or swap) a pan toilet from the park in the dead of night one night; circumstances I won’t go into had led to a need for a replacement at “The Manse” — urgently! It was the only solution…

And here is the dunny cart from Shellharbour History in Pictures:


Note the cigarette dangling from his mouth! Perhaps necessary, given the smell that hung around those trucks.

So I tried ABC’s “Vote Compass”

Posted on May 17, 2016 by Neil

I do recommend Vote Compass.

Based on your responses to a brief questionnaire, Vote Compass generates an analysis of how your views compare to the positions of the candidates in a given election.

This analysis is restricted to the specific issues included in the Vote Compass questionnaire and may not necessarily reflect your perceived political affiliation or intended vote choice.

The analysis generated by Vote Compass contains several different outputs, including a Cartesian plane and a bar graph. Each output measures something different and reflects a practical reality in which people think about politics in multiple ways. Some think in terms of ideology and others in terms of public policy issues. Vote Compass visualises your results in each of these terms, leaving you free to decide which are most suitable for your purposes.

I found it well designed and up-to-date. The overview of my political leanings came out thus:

Screenshot - 17_05_2016 , 8_28_55 AM

Not too surprising. See this repost from 2007:…

Mr Disappointment 2016: the person formerly known as Turnbull

Posted on May 19, 2016 by Neil

Chances are they will win, of course, but not with my vote. That one-time charming QandA star Malcolm Turnbull appears to be drugged or something these days. He now defends the indefensible with an enthusiasm hardly matched by the unlamented ex-PM TA. Remember when we were so exercised by the difference between robot Julia and Real Julia? Seems it’s happening again. Welcome robo-pollie Malcolm. Perhaps that has been the “real” Malc all along.

Before we go further, consider illiterate lazy bastard reffo Deng Thiak Adut. Remember him? He delivered the NSW Australia Day Address this year. See Connecting present and past posts…Now consider Malc’s stout defence of our nauseating Minister for Immigration.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has backed Peter Dutton, saying he is an“excellent” Immigration Minister and that he is right to say that many of the refugees who could head to Australia are illiterate.

Earlier Opposition Leader Bill Shorten lashed out at Mr Dutton, likening him to Pauline Hanson and accusing him of “insulting the millions of migrants” who have made Australia great.


Peter Dutton

Now for the story about Peter Buffoon:

When Australia’s immigration minister spoke out about the level of literacy and numeracy among migrants late on Tuesday, he was addressing what has become one of the hot potatoes of this election season.

With the build-up to the 2 July vote now in full swing, Peter Dutton responded to proposals by the opposition Labor party to increase annual refugee numbers from 13,750 to 27,000.

“They won’t be numerate or literate in their own language, let alone English,” he told Sky News. “These people would be taking Australian jobs, there’s no question about that.”

At this point, it is important to point out that 26% of the population of Australia is foreign-born. That’s some 5.8m people, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), with a fair few voters among them.

In the hours after Mr Dutton’s interview, plenty of those people, their children and their supporters took to social media to respond…

A number of people mentioned the work of Munjed al-Muderis, a surgeon who fled Iraq after ignoring army orders to cut off the ears of deserters. He arrived in Australia by boat, and went on to become one of the country’s most prominent orthopaedic surgeons, known for his work helping amputees.

Another prominent refugee is Hieu Van Le, the governor of the state of South Australia, who travelled to Australia by boat in 1977 having fled his native Vietnam…

Thanks to Jim Belshaw for linking to that BBC story, and see Jim’s post Election threads – budget cuts, Liberal Party hypocrisy, the LDP and the Streisand Effect, stop the boats is back. (Incidentally, I also see in Jim’s post the “budget savings” move to close down the ABC’s Fact Check. Guess what the real reason might be? More from Mr Disappoinment’s team…)

Let me conclude today’s vent with The Shovel.

Illiterate Man Takes Australian Job

A man who can hardly string a sentence together let alone read, has secured one of the top jobs in the Australian Government.

“I got job,” the man – who is in charge of determining who enters the country – said last night.

Responding to a proposal to increase the nation’s refugee intake to 50,000, the man wrote in a statement, “That number is to big. We need a number wot we can count to. Like 20 or somefink. Actually maybe 10”.

Critics say the man is taking jobs away from Australians who can count and speak.

Related: posts on asylum seekers/refugees on this blog.

See Michelle Grattan, Peter Dutton: a menace to multicultural Australia:

In some quarters Dutton’s outburst, which was quickly challenged on points of fact, will resonate politically. In others, it will flow on to sully the reputation of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Turnbull did not slap down Dutton. That’s what surely his instinct would have tempted him to do. But in the election “whatever it takes” prevails. Border control is being relentlessly pushed by the Coalition against Labor, although government sources reject suggestions Dutton was put up to what he said.

Turnbull adopted the barrister’s approach. He praised Dutton extravagantly, as an “outstanding immigration minister”, on both border security and resettlement.

He then extensively reworked and redirected the thrust of Dutton’s argument into more palatable, less provocative terms, essentially saying that we can’t take more refugees than we can properly look after and integrate…

Turnbull’s celebration of Dutton as an “outstanding” immigration minister is a combination of shocking and ridiculous. Turnbull himself has not chosen to have him on cabinet’s national security committee. Dutton is a divisive figure, most at home with political head-kicking and policies of enforcement. The toughness required of a minister overseeing border control does not preclude having some compassion, which Dutton does not show…

Next day:

Mr Turnbull’s justification: The truth is our successful multicultural society is built on secure borders. But see also Dutton’s comments divide in an effort to conquer by Barrie Cassidy. The comment thread there gives too much evidence of the damage done to our national debate by the way this issue has been polarised. For example, this chump:

Mr Cassidy, you will never be able to come to terms with this situation while you continue to parade dishonesties like “Why, then, are refugees – for that’s what most of them are …”. They are not refugees. None of them are. They arrived illegally via the services of criminal people smugglers. They are illegal economic migrants.

Yes, he is smacked down pretty quickly because what he says is grossly untrue.

Oh for the days of John Howard when there were members of the government who conscientiously objected to the line their own party was taking on asylum seekers, who said so, and were allowed to say so. The current NSW Premier’s father, for example. I don’t find it strange that there are those in the Opposition who are not too keen on the solution their own party came up with at their last party conference. Let there be more than just two options up for discussion, I say. And said. See Now we musn’t get misty-eyed….


Deng Thiak Adut is also disappointed:

A Sudanese refugee chosen by NSW Premier Mike Baird to deliver this year’s Australia Day address says he has always voted Liberal since arriving in Australia but has withdrawn his support for the party in response to Peter Dutton’s comments on job-stealing asylum seekers…


Just caught up with Jim Belshaw’s Election threads – Minister Dutton.

Going, going… Myers in Wollongong

Posted on May 21, 2016 by Neil

Just to remind you: though I grew up in Sydney (in The Shire!) I visited relatives in Wollongong and Shellharbour from the 1940s on, moving to Wollongong myself in 1970-1981 and returning in 2010. So I have seen the place over a long period. As I first remember it:


Corner of Crown and Keira Streets late 40s or early 50s


Late 50s or 60s?


Note that the David Jones store is now in place, flag flying on the right.

The southern corner of Crown and Keira down to Burelli Street is currently dominated by Myer. Not for much longer.


I have to admit on the occasions I have walked through lately I haven’t all that often seen people buying things. At Diggers Alex has been saying for months that Myer would go. Now: Myer closes its Wollongong store: David Jones to relaunch….

Related: my Wollongong Transformed posts. Historic photos from Lost Wollongong.

Our Indian summer (autumn?) over at last?

Posted on May 27, 2016 by Neil

Yes, it is cool – 12C at 7.30 this morning – here in The Gong and in Sydney. Been some spectacular seas lately too. Check this from The Illawarra Mercury.


Photo by Jon Harris: Werri Beach last Wednesday

See El Nino bows out after driving year of record heat as La Nina lurks in the wings.

Globally, the past 12 months have each set a record for that month, with four of the past five months smashing records for how much temperatures have departed from the long-term norms.

The El Nino was one of the three biggest on record, similar in size to the 1997-98 and 1982-83 events, Karl Braganza, head of climate monitoring at the bureau, said.

“The last 12 months to April have been the warmest on record for Australia,” Dr Braganza said. “And this month’s been pretty warm too.”

See details for April in Sydney from the Bureau of Meteorology….