Great weekend for sentimental favourites! Bulldogs and Sharkies!

I wanted them both to win and they both did! I had no money on it though…

There’s lots to love about AFL Grand Finals winners the Western Bulldogs who broke a 62 year drought to defeat the Sydney Swans last Saturday.

They had the former PM Julia Gillard on side of course.


But how great to see Footscray, Bulldogs territory, up there as it represents just about everything the Revenant of Oz and the barking mad “Patriots” don’t get. Look at this wonderful photo site The Mean Streets of Footscray:


And study this ABC feature Footscray: melting pot turned hipster hotspot for more wonderful photos and comments.

I come here 40 years ago. Before, there were many European people in Footscray, but now, not much. Everything a little bit different. It has changed, for the better.

Nick Tsiligiris

Read Western Bulldogs embrace multicultural fan base in lead-up to grand final.

…Bulldogs supporter Samar Ageed and her family arrived in Australia in 2006 as refugees from Iraq.

Today she took the morning off work to take her nephews, niece and mother to the last Bulldogs training session before Saturday’s grand final.

“I am a big fan,” she said. “In Iraq we don’t have footy, we have only soccer. But I’m into it because it makes me feel a sense of belonging, and the sense of community and how you can engage and interact with other Aussie fellow supporters.”

Ms Ageed was introduced to the game through her work as a refugee case worker.

The Western Bulldogs run a program to help integrate refugees, asylum seekers and other new migrants…

James Machar, 20, arrived from South Sudan three years ago as a refugee, and settled in the western suburb of Wyndham Vale.

He has been on camping trips and excursions into the city with the Bulldogs and says the experiences have helped him make friends, learn English and understand Australia better.

“I really love the Bulldogs,” he said. “I never miss a game on TV. I lose my voice cheering for them, and I like them because they are helping young refugees a lot.”..

Bravo Bulldogs!

And then of course my own home town came good at last on Sunday. In their fiftieth season!

The porch light of Cronulla supporters may soon be switched off forever (search ‘Jack Gibson and Harold Holt’ if you are unsure what this means), as the Sharks again eye off what would be a drought-breaking rugby league premiership.

There have been grand final appearances — including a midweek replay — and minor premierships that have given diehard Sharks fans hope but ultimately left them crestfallen since their entry into first grade in 1967, although there is renewed optimism ahead of Sunday’s clash with Melbourne.

Grandstand takes a look at some of the heartbreaking moments in grand finals and play-offs endured by the men from the Shire… (Read more at the link above.)

See my post Go the Sharkies!


Five years ago: March 2011 on this blog

See all. The feeds on the sidebar there are worth visiting too. Interesting to see which of those sites/blogs are still going.

“The Stone Gods” — Jeanette Winterson (2007)

Posted on March 16, 2011 by Neil

Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile

I thoroughly enjoyed this dystopian parable.

9780241143957HPeople say to me, ‘so is the Stone Gods science fiction?’ Well, it is fiction, and it has science in it, and it is set (mostly) in the future, but the labels are meaningless.

I can’t see the point of labelling a book like a pre-packed supermarket meal. There are books worth reading and books not worth reading. That’s all.

This new world weighs a yatto-gram

The Stone Gods is written in four parts; The first part begins on Orbus, a world very like earth, and like earth running out of resources and suffering from the severe effects of climate change. This is a world where everyone is bio-enhanced and bored to death. It is a world that has run out of possibilities. Then, a new planet is discovered, perfect for human life. This planet, Planet Blue, has only one drawback – the dinosaurs. A mission leaves Orbus to get rid of the dinosaurs.

Our guide through the novel is Billie Crusoe, a disillusioned scientist in Parts 1,3,4, and a young sailor, (Billy), in Part 2, which is set on Easter Island in the eighteenth century. Billie is part of the mission to Planet Blue, and so is Spike, a perfect robo-sapiens. What happens between them explores the boundaries between carbon and silicon life forms – in other words, what is a human being, how do we define what is human, and how do we define what is love and what is possible when love is present?

Yes, it’s a love story along with a survival story. It’s the story of repeating worlds, repeating mistakes, chances for change…

Read more from the author’s site.

Perhaps the weak response the world has been making to climate change issues since 2007 makes the novel even more pointed.

See a damp review in The Guardian (a reviewer with a defective sense of humour?) and rather better “amateur” reviews here and here.

…Winterson explores many idea in this book. How we treat our planet for one—the idea of global warming is prevalent—are the grievances we have committed to our own earth going to come back to haunt us? Orbus’ inhabitants are forced to contemplate a move to another planet because they have so ravaged their own planet. And yet they do not hesitate for one instant when it comes to setting up their new planet in the same manner. It’s almost as if their worlds are disposable. Their own planet is wasting away, so they’ll just find a new one! A metaphor for today’s world, I’m sure. We know some of our actions cause the planet harm, but we do little, or nothing, to deviate from our destructive behavior. The situation in The Stone Gods is just a magnified, hyperbolic display of our own behaviors…

First Sunday out of cardiac ward: Mount Kembla Pub

Posted on March 13, 2011 by Neil

…with Sirdan and P.





Uglier far than Julia Gillard’s “lie” on the carbon tax…

Posted on March 24, 2011 by Neil

… is the licence to parade Tea Party populism and worse as if this were some kind of conservative wisdom.







Exit pursued by a Turnbull…

Around 11.30am yesterday at City Diggers I said to Alex: “Will Tony Abbott be there at the end of the week?” His answer: “No.” Or as Jim Belshaw posted on Saturday: “Even if the Liberal Party holds the seat [of Canning] without the expected swing, the present Australian government is probably just too accident prone for Mr Abbott to survive.”  (Worth reviewing Jim’s posts on Mr Abbott.)

Turnbull ousts Abbott as Prime Minister in late night vote

Updated about an hour ago

Malcolm Turnbull has won a ballot for the leadership of the Liberal Party by 10 votes over Tony Abbott, and will become the 29th Prime Minister of Australia. Mr Turnbull says he’s humbled and he’s looking to lead a conversation that persuades, rather than lectures the public about the future challenges of the economy and the nation. Changes are expected to the Government frontbench, but Mr Turnbull says he’s not expecting to call an early election.

As I write I have – rare for me – breakfast TV on: ABC News 24 of course. Nice cartoon by John Shakespeare:


That heads a Herald piece by former Liberal minister Peter Reith.

What many people may not appreciate is that an important part of John Howard’s success was that he was good with colleagues. Some of them were a pain in the neck but John managed them all. My guess is that Tony was a long way short of John Howard in that department. People management is a key criteria for being a successful PM and hence one reason that Julie Bishop’s name is often mentioned as a future PM and not surprisingly Bishop will play a key role in working with colleagues.

Second, his office still had problems. Tony kept his chief of staff out of a sense of loyalty but there was a bigger loyalty required. Namely his loyalty to his team and supporters.

Thirdly, the reality was that the daily restatement the government has a plan was not in itself enough. The latest unemployment figures were better than expected but they are only part of the picture. There was no excuse for Abbott’s lack of a comprehensive plan. This problem started well before the 2013 election and two years later no one could tell you the government’s thinking on key reforms like federal/state relations, and tax and workplace relations. Instead of making decisions on these vital issues, they have all been shoved off for yet another report.

It is no secret that I have not been Tony Abbott’s greatest fan. Witness this image for example:


Just a couple of points. Last night Tony Abbott said:

The prime ministership of this country is not a prize or a plaything to be demanded. It should be something which is earned by a vote of the Australian people. There will be a party room ballot for both the leadership and the deputy leadership positions later this evening. I will be a candidate and I expect to win.

Others say similar things, but I reaffirm that here in Australia the people do not vote for the Prime Minister. That office is in the gift of whichever party wins a Federal Election: that party’s leader becomes PM. We just vote for our local member of parliament.

Malcolm Turnbull said, among other things:

We need to restore traditional Cabinet government. There must be an end to policy on the run and captain’s calls. We need to be truly consultative with colleagues, members of parliament, senators, and the wider public. We need an open government.

Let’s hope that becomes the case.

Ironically, Tony Abbott’s tenure as PM was shorter by a year than Julia Gillard’s!

What a waste! Episode 3 of The Killing Season…

The program wasn’t a waste: it was in fact excellent.

“I always had this long shadow from the way in which I became Prime Minister and active steps were taken basically every day of my Prime Ministership to have that shadow become darker and darker and not lighter and lighter.” – Julia Gillard

With Kevin Rudd deposed, Julia Gillard became Australia’s first female Prime Minister. But the repercussions of the dramatic change of leadership cast a long shadow over her time in office.

Within weeks of taking over, Gillard called an election for late August 2010. The campaign was dominated by internal leaks damaging to Gillard; Wayne Swan called them “the greatest act of political bastardry” he had ever witnessed. Gillard secured the support of the Independents and the Greens to form a minority government. However, her continued struggle with legitimacy, a carbon “tax”, a flood of boats and the actions of Kevin Rudd and his supporters, dogged her Prime Ministership.

Facing an election wipe-out, the Labor Caucus moved again – this time to return Kevin Rudd to power. Gillard’s political career was over.

The third act was complete. Did the “original sin” of the 2010 challenge make that end inevitable? Did Gillard herself – or Rudd’s relentless will to return – bring Labor to that point?

After such a good start 2007 through to 2009, the dégringolade (a rapid decline or deterioration as in strength, position, or condition) was truly tragic.

We were reminded of early intimations of the dubious character of what was to follow. Never forget this image.


Let me recycle a couple of posts.

Neurolinguistic programming 101 – according to Tone

Posted on February 2, 2010 by Neil

big new tax great big tax great big tax on everything big new tax bloody new bloody great big bloody tax





See: Archive for the ‘climate change’ Category on Floating Life. I did a lot there in November and December 2009.

There are some commendable ideas in Tony Abbot’s policy, it seems. But none of it addresses the consensus that seems to exist that some form of carbon tax or carbon trading scheme is necessary. See for example Chapter 5: Climate Change and the Environment [PDF 144KB] from the latest Treasury Intergenerational Report.


Climate change is the largest threat to Australia’s environment and represents one of the most significant challenges to our economic sustainability. Failure to address this threat would have severe consequences for weather patterns, water availability in cities, towns and rural communities, agricultural production, tourism, infrastructure, health and Australia’s unique biodiversity. The social and economic consequences of failing to act would be severe.

As Australia will be one of the countries that are hardest and fastest hit, we must be part of an effective global response. Thirty-two countries are currently operating emissions trading schemes and others are in the process of introducing them. There is a clear global consensus that this is the best way to tackle climate change, and we need to be part of the global solution.

Early action via the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) will allow strong long-term economic growth and employment by steadily transforming the economy. Delaying action would impose on future generations the need for a sharp, more costly adjustment task.

Market-based mechanisms like the CPRS achieve large-scale reductions in greenhouse gases at least cost. The CPRS will provide businesses and consumers with the incentives to adjust their behaviours, and will include financial assistance to help them adjust. The CPRS will also be enhanced by a range of complementary measures that support the transition to a low pollution future.

There are real doubts among scientists about the time-frame and long-term effectiveness of some of the carbon sequestration measures central to Tony Abbot’s package, though they certainly have a place. Wikipedia does summarise this well – and yes, though no expert I have looked beyond Wikipedia – but jump to tree-planting especially.

See as an example of papers around the topic this one: “Quantifying the effectiveness of climate change mitigation through forest plantations and carbon sequestration with an integrated land-use model” (2007-8) in Carbon Balance and Management Journal.

Carbon Balance and Management is an open access, peer-reviewed online journal that encompasses all aspects of research aimed at developing a comprehensive, policy relevant to understanding of the global carbon cycle.

The global carbon cycle involves important couplings between climate, atmospheric CO2 and the terrestrial and oceanic biospheres. The current transformation of the carbon cycle due to changes in climate and atmospheric composition is widely recognized as potentially dangerous for the biosphere and for the well-being of humankind, and therefore monitoring, understanding and predicting the evolution of the carbon cycle in the context of the whole biosphere (both terrestrial and marine) is a challenge to the scientific community.

This demands interdisciplinary research and new approaches for studying geographical and temporal distributions of carbon pools and fluxes, control and feedback mechanisms of the carbon-climate system, points of intervention and windows of opportunity for managing the carbon-climate-human system.

Carbon Balance and Management is a medium for researchers in the field to convey the results of their research across disciplinary boundaries. Through this dissemination of research, the journal aims to support the work of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) and to provide governmental and non-governmental organizations with instantaneous access to continually emerging knowledge, including paradigm shifts and consensual views.


See How climate change came to tax us all.

So what’s it going to be? The Greatest Moral Challenge Of Our Generation (GMCOOG) or a Great Big New Tax On Everything (GBNTOE)?

Gentlemen, start your acronyms.

We are getting a sense now, thanks to yesterday’s release of Tony Abbott’s climate policy and the afternoon’s testy parliamentary exchanges, of how the climate issue will be framed in the weeks and months before the year’s political climax – the next federal election.

If one thing is clear from the detail Abbott announced it is that the balance in the Liberal Party between those who see climate change as an urgent, looming and potentially catastrophic possibility and those who deny its very existence, has shifted to favour the latter. As much was flagged in Abbott’s election but now we know for sure.

To accept that climate change is profound, entrenched, man-made and potentially disastrous on the other hand – the Government’s professed position – is to accept the necessity of some sort of solution that involves fundamental changes in human behaviour, here and everywhere else. The Government has taken the line that this might best be achieved through market mechanisms, placing a price on carbon to drive sweeping grass-roots change toward a quickly achieved lower carbon future.

The Opposition sees climate change as a milder, possibly purely political, phenomenon that can be addressed through a range of ‘direct action’ palliatives…


Repeat after me: BIG, NEW, but NOT A TAX

Look who’s at the rally along with A Jones and A Anderson… With friends like these

Posted on July 2, 2011 by Neil


Yep, The Skull – live and loud. I thought it was him when I caught Channel Seven’s account of the “people power” AKA “highly vested interests” rally against the Carbon Tax in Martin Place yesterday.

He does seem committed to the cause.

You may recall seeing him with Lord Monckton:


See Where are the loons of yesteryear? and Documentaries to make you think, cringe, cry, or wonder.. 2.

Meanwhile Tony Abbott may have made a few more friends – or not:

The opposition leader told a Melbourne conference that “market enthusiasts” should remember that the revenue raised from the carbon tax would go directly into the federal government’s coffers.

“It may well be that most Australian economists think that a carbon tax or emissions trading scheme is the way to go,” Mr Abbott said on Friday.

“(But) maybe that’s a comment on the quality of our economists rather than the merits of the argument.”

Prominent economist Saul Eslake was quick to return fire.

The Grattan Institute director said Mr Abbott only delivered the “cheap shot” because he couldn’t find a single economist to support his direct action policy.

The Killing Season part 2 – an excuse to recycle

What a fascinating study it was! Sad too. I really do think Kevin should have walked away completely in 2010. There is an excellent accompanying website The Killing Season: A timeline of PM Kevin Rudd’s downfall.

Kevin Rudd: “I call Mr Swan. I say, what’s happening? and he said, ‘ah well, Julia is challenging for the leadership’. I said, ‘what? well, I need your support to stop this’. He said, ‘I’m backing Julia’. I said, ‘you’re what? You’re what? Why haven’t you raised this with me? Why haven’t you picked up the telephone to me? Why haven’t you spoken to me? Why haven’t you come round? I don’t think we have anything further to say, do we?’. And that was the last conversation I had with Mr Swan.”

See also another fascinating snippet: Julia Gillard was warned: promote Bill Shorten to industrial relations at your peril.

And at the time on my blog:

My latest Wordle

Posted on June 20, 2010 by Neil


Amusing, I thought.

Kevin 11 — will there be such a person?

Posted on June 21, 2010 by Neil

I rather like Dennis Shanahan’s comment: “Tony Abbott has suddenly closed on Kevin Rudd as the preferred prime minister by saying almost nothing.”

And I have now read the famous Quarterly Essay on Rudd by David Marr…

Prime minister or president? The folly of dominance exposed

Posted on June 25, 2010 by Neil

Paul Strangio makes a very important point in that story in today’s Sydney Morning Herald.

AS HE made a last-minute forlorn attempt to stave off the internal assault on this prime ministership during a media conference on Wednesday night, Kevin Rudd made a plea that implied that should his Labor colleagues tear him down they would be dishonouring the wishes expressed by voters at the 2007 election.

The Australian people, he declared, had elected him prime minister, asserting a personal mandate. On talkback radio yesterday, a number of callers struck a similar note, complaining they they had voted for Kevin Rudd – not Julia Gillard – and they now felt cheated by the fact that their choice was no longer leader of the country.

Yet such claims are a distortion of the principles by which Australia’s Westminster-derived parliamentary system operates – at least in formal terms. The prime minister is the leader of the parliamentary party or coalition that commands a majority of seats in the House of Representatives and only remains the prime minister as long as he or she enjoys the confidence of that majority.

The members of the parliamentary Labor Party had the prerogative to dispose of the prime minister at any time they saw fit. Similarly, only voters in his Queensland electorate of Griffith personally put Rudd into Parliament and not one of us directly voted him into the prime minister’s office.

That some members of the public labour under such a misapprehension is easy to understand. We live in an era when there is an increasing tendency to conflate leaders and political parties, when party symbols in campaigns have become as inconspicuous as leaders have become conspicuous.

Political scientists describe this as prime ministerial government. More commonly, it is called presidential politics. Both terms denote a trend in which the media message of a government is increasingly centralised around a prime minister (they are the government’s human face) and there has been an accretion of resources in their hands.

This trend has a history running back at least as far as Gough Whitlam’s prime ministership. However, it has undoubtedly sharpened over recent years and, during Rudd’s incumbency, scaled new heights…

Very true. When I voted here in Sydney Kevin Rudd was not on the ballot paper; Tanya Plibersek was. I voted for her and would again, if I were in Sydney at the next election. (I just may be somewhere else by then, but more of that later.) She won, and her party won. Therefore her party leader became Prime Minister. The party selects a Cabinet who basically run the joint; it is true that we have focussed, inadvisably, all our attention on the Chairman (Chairwoman) of the Board because bringing things down to one leader simplifies our thinking, and of course the leader’s management style does become an issue. Kevin Rudd did have increasingly severe management style problems. Jim Belshaw picked that up very early. Jim’s perceptions were not party political but based on his years in public service and management. Kevin needed to sleep more and delegate more.

We don’t have a president. We don’t vote for Prime Ministers. Our “president”, whether it be The Queen or the Governor-General, is not elected.

Even so, like Jim, I have great sympathy for Kevin in the position he partly brought on himself. I think it is true that the government was losing its way, a great shame because in my opinion their 2008 and much of 2009 were magnificent, especially compared with what went before.

I am very sorry to see Lindsay Tanner has decided to go: a gentleman and a scholar, in my opinion.