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83 responses to “Saturday Salon”

  1. mindy

    We have two new mowers. They are called Woody and Patch.

  2. tigtog

    Mindy, I’m seeing one with a cowboy hat and one with a pirate hat prominently attached. Please tell me this is so.

  3. Mindy

    Sorry tigtog. Patch is called Patch because he has black patches all over his lovely self and Woody is called Woody because he has a black butt (boom tish).

  4. tigtog

    Mindy, I’m not at all disappointed to know that 🙂

  5. Fran Barlow

    Putting on regulatory-fiat hat …

    Given the new anti-explicit carbon price sentiment in Federal Parliament, I’ve been reflecting on the ways in which regulatory means could be strenthened to promote abatement and taking into consideration the denier focus on what they call ‘real pollution’ I have a suggestion.

    Should we not press each of the states to reduce sharply the permissible quantity of emissions from the exhausts of private passenger vehicles registered for at least 10 years? These measures could for example, cut the allowable quantity of CO2 and NOx and other particulates/VOCs emitted from the current mean for 1.6l vehicles per km of operation in urban traffic by 50% by January 1 2016 and by 90% by 2020.

    For the purpose of assessment, each vehicle presented for registration after January 1 2016 that had been registered for a cumulative 10 years would have to have had its exhausts tested by the RTA (or equivalent in each state) over not less than 25 km in urban traffic prior to reregistration. Vehicles that failed to meet the standard would attract a progressively higher registration fee and registering parties would also have to lodge, in advance, a conditionally-refundable deposit covering the likely excess emissions before the next registration period, based on their last two years of driving or if they had not driven for at least 2 years, a figure typical for people driving vehicles of that type living at their postcode. If they did fewer kilometers than that, the balance would be applied to their next registration charge or deposit. If they ceased to have a motor vehicle, then the balance, if any, would be rebated.

    In addition, vehicles purchased new after January 1 2016 would also have to comply with the prevailing standard.

    Disclosure: I have such 1.8l car and hubby has a 1.6l car both of which would be subject under my proposal

    I imagine that this would produce a number of consequences.

    1. A good many people would dispose of their older cars.
    2. Based on #1, the cost of cars 10 years or older would decline sharply
    3. A lot more car parts for cars nearly ten years old, or older, would become available.
    4. Businesses based on maintaining older cars and getting them compliant, would arise. Conversions to hybrid-electric or PEVs would become commonplace. In short, this would be a shot in the arm for engineering in this country. In many cases, people would convert directly to the 2020 standard, avoiding a second compliance round.
    5. More people would want solar panels so as to charge their now at least partially electric cars. In addition, the infrastructure to support fast charging of vehicles would expand rapidly.
    6. Many more people would avoid using their cars frivolously in the two years up to 1/1/2016 (in order to reduce their exposure to the deposit). There would be a lot more bike-riding and walking and use of public transport.
    7. Sales of new vehicles after 1/1/2016 would fall very sharply since hardly any of them (apart from the smaller HEVs/PEVs would comply.
    8. The cut in road contention would mean that all ICE-vehicles (including heavy commercial vehicles) would operate more fuel-efficiently and produce less pollution from their tailpipes.
    9. Urban air quality would improve and transport-related emissions would decline.
    10. The respiratory health of the population, especially in urban areas, would improve.

    If fewer vehicles were imported and fewer new vehicles were built, then the average embedded carbon footprint of vehicles on our roads would decline. Also, fewer vehicles means fewer collisions so we ought to see a decline in vehicle insurance claims (and thus costs to the insured) and a reduction in road trauma.

    In short, this ought to meet easily a ‘no regrets’ policy. It has no obvious impact on Australia’s trading position and would probably shift the balance on fuel and vehicle imports in Australia’s favour. It would almost certainly foster local employment amongst those with engineering skills or in warehousing, and generate some revenue for state governments (while cutting road maintenance costs), which could be put, in theory at least, into more public transport and urban consolidation.

    Putting aside the improbability of our state governments acting in concert in this way, are there any sound objections to this?

  6. Graham Bell

    Fran Barlow @ 5:
    Excellent suggestions on emissions control.

    Of course there are no sound objections at all
    …. but this is Australia, where innovative ideas must be strangled at birth lest they disturb the comfort of those with influence and authority.
    Wonder how we can sneak your practical suggestions past those irrational ratbags and boofheads before they realize what has happened?

  7. Graham Bell

    Gentlefolk:
    Over at the Overflow Thread, I came upon a term I had never heard before: Gish Gallop.

    tigtog and Tim Mackney were kind enough to give me links to the definitions – which are so handy that I’m sure you can use them.

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Gish%20Gallop

    and

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Gish_Gallop

    So now you have a name and definitions for that common affliction or curse.

  8. GregM

    [email protected] On the other Saturday Salon Linda refers to Russell Brand as a douche canoe.

    I don’t think she means it in a kind and loving way.

    Do you, perchance, know what a douche canoe is and if so would you share this knowledge with us?

  9. Graham Bell

    [email protected]:
    No, I don’t. Although I had lived among Americans, I had never heard the term “douche bag” until I actually went to the U.S.; “douche canoe” is likely to be a term of nasty non-endearment like that. Shall see if it is listed in one of the dictionaries above.

    Where is j-p-z when you need his local knowledge?

    Back to Gish Gallopers: the links above give a few ideas on how to deal with them – does anyone have more inventive ways to defeat hem? If you stop buying their newspapers and stop watching their TV channels, that might protect you yourself but that doesn’t defeat them.

  10. tigtog
  11. pablo

    FB @ 5.
    A great analysis Fran deserving of a wide audience. I wonder what the Motor Trader’s Association would think. My guess is that most car owners of conventional internal combustion engines don’t know they are ‘spewing’ between 1 and 2 grams of CO2 per kilometre.
    Compliance would be a huge issue. Any restriction apart from money on peoples’ freedom to own/drive would be like gun control in the US.
    A couple of thoughts on emissions control. A friend recently had his Subaru stop due to failure of the catalytic converter. He was quoted two prices to repair: $600 plus for a refit or $60 for a ‘disconnect’. Such a choice would need to be impossible.
    Japan ‘overcame’ this issue on a large scale by second hand exports to less compliant countries like New Zealand.

  12. jules
  13. Fran Barlow

    Pablo

    My guess is that most car owners of conventional internal combustion engines don’t know they are ‘spewing’ between 1 and 2 grams of CO2 per kilometre.

    More like about 175g/km AIUI. The really good ones are around 85g/km IIRC.

  14. Helen

    Off on a complete tangent, hopefully Saturday Salon is the place to do it: can those of you who are more knowledgeable than I am about Labor politics explain to me why people refer to Doug Cameron as “Doug “Mind mah tea” Cameron”? Was there some kind of tea incident in his past?

  15. dylwah

    Helen @ 14. It was in estimates, in June.

    http://youtu.be/8NxfOE3-WeI

  16. paul burns

    douche canoe
    a giant group of assholes, generally flaming one person for posting something stupid on a forum. long after the thread should have died.

  17. Fran Barlow

    Not the least of my reasons for putting the proposal for emissions control in this form is the potential for wedging the right.

    In effect, the proposal would acts as a significant non-tariff barrier to the import of new cars, which would please the economic populists. That’s not my intent of course, but it’s always a good idea when advancing a cause to see if you can’t structure your proposal to put your finger on lines of fracture in the enemy camp.

    The deniers say they don’t like ‘market-based’ schemes. They say they prefer to regulate “real pollution”. Well here’s our chance to test their claims in ways which would stifle “real pollution” including CO2 and to add in those who’d like to stifle the import of cars and get Australia back to innovating and engineering stuff.

    The moment someone from the right bobs up and complains about “red tape” or that this will cost us money, we can remind them that there’s no escaping the fact that controlling pollution costs money. The debate is about how to settle those cost burdens justly and efficiently.

  18. Helen

    Thanks Dylwah, will have a look when I get home! (Youtube is frowned upon by our firewall here).

  19. Helen

    As if it wasn’t bad enough that Lou Reed has died, Edna Krabappel (Marcia Wallace) has died too.

    http://simpsons.wikia.com/wiki/Edna_Krabappel

  20. Fran Barlow

    Re the survey of economists in which 35/37 preferred an explicit pricing-based approach to CO2e mitigation:

    Keep in mind that 35/35 of the economists who believe action is needed by Australia to mitigate emissions prefer a model based on the explicit pricing of CO2e emissions.

    100% of those who reject the science or think Australia should do nothing prefer “Direct Action”. One of them helpfully described it as “no action”. That was the basis of his preference. The other — Craig James of CommSec was ready to call into question the efficacy of “market forces” in order to give effect to his science denialism.

    Let nobody say that “most economists” surveyed support explicit pricing. All of those who wanted a feasible program did.

  21. Helen

    Fran, I’m all for this plan, except that it hasn’t made any provision for the disastrous urban development and lack of urban planning in the last twenty years. People on average and low incomes who are stuck out in the notorious fringe developments (where housing is cheap but car dependence is high) would be unable to pay the astronomical registration costs of their ageing battlermobiles. Remember, these households often need multiple cars because of the crappy infrastructure where they live. No car = no job, no personal life. These people can’t just afford to convert the battlermobile to hybrid Electric and then just buy PV solar arrays to power them – I’m talking about the ones who live from pay to pay.
    (Of course, the market solution where fossil fuels just get prohibitively expensive is probably just as brutal).
    Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see something like this implemented but how would you do it so that the social justice side of the equation doesn’t get thrown out.

  22. Helen

    Sorry, should have identified the last comment as a reply to Fran @5.

  23. Fran Barlow

    Helen
    I do take your general point — that most near the bottom of the income-social disadvantage scale would not be able to retrofit to accommodate the new rules.

    I’m not sure that I agree that this really covers very many people however (and to the extent that it does, I strongly believe in suitable provision being made). Having just moved out into the ‘west’ I’m seeing a lot more wealth, even in places like Mt Druitt than one might suppose.

    I also believe that if everyone had to comply, the costs of such services would decline sharply in real terms.

    That said, I also believe that the money raised ought to go into expanding public transport and building more quality public housing near to good transport links. In the case of public transport, there would be more demand and so the per person subsidy ought to be lower than it would be now.

  24. Fran Barlow

    You will note also, helen that my plan actyually does contain a loophole for the poor. The regulation applies to those vehicles 10 years old (or more). A person with a nine-year-old vehicle who can afford a compliant vehicle has an incentive to dispose of his/her vehicle and fund the purchase of the new one. That nine-year-old vehicle has to compete in the market for the sale with everyone else also disposing of their vehicles, and so the price falls sharply. Non-compliant vehicles older than five years old would also decline in price.

    Some people would move closer to transport of course or car pool (spreading the costs) or adapt in other ways — cycling for example.

    It’s even possible that a market in rented but well-maintained and/or retro-fitted compliant older cars might open up.

  25. Fran Barlow

    Ugh …

    You will note also, Helen that my plan actually does contain

    Looking back, that sounds a lot more declarative and argumentative than I had in mind at the time. I apologise for the tone … I really was seeking feedback and didn’t mean to sound hectoring …

    😉

  26. Graham Bell

    Fran Barlow:
    Please don’t take this the wrong way – your proposals are excellent – but they do need some tweaking so that The Other Australians are not further disadvantaged.

    We live in a rural area and would love to do without a traditional motor vehicle but we have no real choice in the matter …. and unlike those living on the fringes of cities, we have to drive to get everything, including anything to do with a motor vehicle. A single mother in this district and I were talking this morning; she lives very frugally indeed yet almost all of her entire income is taken up with rent, food, electricity and petrol – nothing else! – and she certainly cannot afford the luxury of replacing tyres or having any regular service on the vehicle.

    Reliable, affordable, regular public transport is the logical answer in places like this – but that will NEVER happen because of the longstanding irrational bipartisan hatred of buses and of railmotors/passenger trains, that is, in places that still do have any railway lines at all.

  27. Graham Bell

    Fran Barlow @ 25:
    You have no need whatsoever to apologize for your style – it’s fine – your message is unambiguous and clear.

  28. Fran Barlow

    Graham Bell

    Reliable, affordable, regular public transport is the logical answer in places like this – but that will NEVER happen because of the longstanding irrational bipartisan hatred of buses and of railmotors/passenger trains, that is, in places that still do have any railway lines at all.

    That is odd. I’d not heard this. Certainly, as with the urban-rural fringe, I’d favour using the funds raised in part to establish (in consultation with local councils) suitable bus/train services. Alternatively, it might be possible (and more culturally apt and cost-effective in smaller communities where the cost of such services would be prohibitive at any regularity) to establish a fund to allow people to retrofit their cars (on a low interest longterm repayment basis) with whatever was needed to meet the standard. Lending someone $5-6000 over 5 years at 5% should only cost them about $5-6 per week in interest plus about $20 per week in principle repayments.

  29. Helen

    No I didn’t read it as argumentative, either.

  30. Fran Barlow

    I’m glad to hear so Helen.

  31. Graham Bell

    Fran Barlow @ 28:
    Thanks for the practical idea of low-interest loans to retrofit old cars. The only problem there is how the heck do you stop the organized rorting of the scheme – not by car-owners but by “authorized contractors” and other crooks?

    The problem with public transport is that, in Australia, almost all of the decision-making is based on what Americans did. For these decision makers, Sweden, Finland, Spain, Poland, Ukraine and Iran with their great distances and relatively sparse populations do not exist. The U.S. was always a special case: the money was made when the railways and track-side assets were built and then sold off; who cared if the buyers made any money after that? There are still parts of the U.S. that have no public transport at all. The cure for the problem is to force our transport decision makers to look at how people travel on public transport in the rest of the world – until that is done, their wilful ignorance will remain our punishment..

    Railmotors were one- or two-carriage self-propelled trams operating scheduled services on railway lines; they stopped at every little town and at many road crossings; they shunted onto sidings (short parallel branch lines) along the way to allow express passenger or goods trains to overtake or pass them. Railmotors were a slow but very efficient and cost-effective way of moving passengers and small freight about 50~250Km to and from a regional city. That railmotors were not more profitable is a measure of managerial stupidity, definitely not the nature of the service itself …. for example: the Yeppoon to Rockhampton railmotor service was RESCHEDULED so that workers and students from Yeppoon arrived in Rockhampton 20 minutes late for work or school and left Rockhampton for the return trip 10 minutes before workers finished work!! That idiocy did wonders for car dealers.

    Compare the emissions from an unmodified smoky old railmotor diesel with those 60 or so of your high-efficiency, low-emission cars …. and cry.

  32. Graham Bell

    Fran Barlow @ 28:
    Buses and Rural Taxis could solve the problem of public transport for people living in The Bush – it could happen with the stroke of a pen and services could start the next morning.

    It could …. but it never will. There is just too much greed and too much inertia in the system for it to happen.

    School buses would be the logical place to start – but so long as the assumption remains that every member of the general public is a drug-dealer, child-molester, terrorist, kidnapper and potential litigant then school buses will remain out of the question.

    Rural Taxis are successful in many countries (dare I say, most countries outside Western Europe, U.S. and Australia?). I’ve used rural taxis many, many times outside Australia and lived to tell the tale …. but we cannot get rural taxis here while the rigid, money-spinning taxi licencing system remains unchanged.

    Huge rear-engine buses run our major highways at a profit …. but until a lot of the bureaucratic nonsense surrounding buses is put through the shredder, we will never have minibuses or 22-seaters serving little places like this. Many regulations are quite appropriate in a major city but are downright silly out in this Other Australia.

    There is one glimmer of hope though: a minibus in one community is operated as part of a health service; it takes patients to specialist and paramedical appointments a couple of times a month. The most popular chemist shop just happens to be in a major shopping centre and – Oh dear, their service is slow; so slow in fact that the patients are forced to while away their time in the department store or shoe shop or duck over to see their solicitor while waiting for their prescriptions to be filled. Why the blazes, in this 21st century, do some citizens of this wealthy nation have to resort to such tricks simply to get access to basic services and amenities that most other people take for granted?

    As for our haughty mainstream media – they regard the lack of public transport in rural and remote Australia as being unworthy of mention.

  33. zorronsky

    My small town’s cricket club bought a small minibus for the team’s away games and extended the usage to the community. Trips to the AFL in Melbourne and to medical services in regional cities, functions where alcohol is involved, and ferrying tourists about during busy times are just some of the uses. A donation box is all that’s required for running costs.
    Not the answer to all of the problems of transportation, but a very helpful grassroots service.

  34. Fran Barlow

    On Faux News and trolls …

    Fox News Reportedly Used Fake Commenter Accounts To Rebut Critical Blog Posts

    On the blogs, the fight was particularly fierce. Fox PR staffers were expected to counter not just negative and even neutral blog postings but the anti-Fox comments beneath them. One former staffer recalled using twenty different aliases to post pro-Fox rants. Another had one hundred. Several employees had to acquire a cell phone thumb drive to provide a wireless broadband connection that could not be traced back to a Fox News or News Corp account. Another used an AOL dial-up connection, even in the age of widespread broadband access, on the rationale it would be harder to pinpoint its origins. Old laptops were distributed for these cyber operations. Even blogs with minor followings were reviewed to ensure no claim went unchecked. Murdoch’s World, pg. 67

    We all know about trolling, and many of us suspect there’s an element of systematic trolling by self-interested commercial parties, but few of us have seen hard evidence of this freeping on this scale.

  35. Fran Barlow

    Grahame Bell

    Thanks for the practical idea of low-interest loans to retrofit old cars. The only problem there is how the heck do you stop the organized rorting of the scheme – not by car-owners but by “authorized contractors” and other crooks?

    You might provide that

    a) applicants had to be people who would qualify for a health care card and be mainly for private usage; others would get it at a reduced rate
    b) each applicant would only get one vehicle retrofitted in any five-year period (but have to have the vehicle fully insured)

    The benefit is reasonably modest as you can get personal loans for sums like that at about 11%. Indeed, these days, you can manipulate the zero-balance transfer system between credit cards to pay, effectively, the annual fee on cards rather than interest . Anyone with enough wealth and smarts to rort the system would certainly go there first as it’s not illegal or even unethical. The net benefit would be greater.

  36. zorronsky

    Years ago I commented regularly on Bolta and realized then there was an effective censuring capability.
    This countering has been evident, with help from our ABC, on Mainstream Media for the Coalition, for the last six years. After hearing very little from the present Opposition in the MSM since the election, a sudden re-appearance of now Government rebutters accompanying Opposition criticisms. A personal Coalition appearance attacking a read statement in the same format as the years leading up to the election.
    However do not expect to see very many Labor or Greens persons on hand to criticize Coalition actions, it isn’t going to happen.
    Balance, it seems, is only for the benefit of Conservatives.

  37. Graham Bell

    Fran Barlow:
    It is not people with the smarts rorting the system that would be the worry; I doubt if individual rorters would make 5% of the rorting problem; the biggest slice of rorting would come from ORGANIZED systematic rorting – by firms with a gaggle of Senior Counsel in tow.

    The wealthy farmers and graziers may be quite familiar with modern accounting and with manipulating their finances and taxation; most others living in remote and rural Australia are likely to be financially illiterate and some do need help using their one plastic card. Any loans would have to be very clear and very simple.

    This morning, I had to add more vehicle emissions to the atmosphere on a long drive to the nearest town with a safe water supply. I was carrying a full load of jerricans and plastic bottles. The rainwater tanks of some households here are now dry (no rain for many, many weeks) and the borewater here is unfit for human consumption. That’s the reality of living in The Other Australia. A reliable supply of potable water here would have saved this morning’s drive – and its emissions …. but there are no profits nor votes in providing a reliable supply of potable water to tiny communities out in The Bush. Not whinging – just pointing out that urban traffic jams are not the only source of unnecessary vehicle emissions.

  38. Fran Barlow

    Grahame Bell

    I do take your point, but I’d be very surprised if a scheme in a small community as modest as this one would be worth rorting — still less paying highly paid lawyers to milk it. I’d say the risk was worth taking and if the budget did start to show some perverse trends then by all means, let the people controlling the program adjust it as needed and recover funds.

  39. Fran Barlow

    Grahame Bell

    The rainwater tanks of some households here are now dry (no rain for many, many weeks) and the borewater here is unfit for human consumption.

    Couldn’t they lease out equipment through which to filter bore water to an adequate standard?

  40. Helen

    I asked the LPers what the origin was for “Doug ‘mind mah tea’ Cameron”. Dylwah directed me to this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NxfOE3-WeI

    So, I have another question: Who is the guy having a hissy fit yelling “Order! Order!” Really, that’s not cool, that kind of behaviour.

  41. paul burns

    Labor Senator Mark Bishop, I think, Helen.

  42. Graham Bell

    Thanks, Fran Barlow @ 38. No, filtering alone won’t remove the worst contaminants. Reverse osmosis was proposed but the cost was way beyond almost everyone’s ability to pay – besides, that would have involved dumping a supersaturated brine mixture onto the soil. One imperfect solution might be a large passive-solar evaporator for rationed drinking water only for this little community – with regular transport of the resultant solids to an impervious dump so as not to increase soil salinity. Another temporary solution might be to bring out a few semi-trailer water-tankers of town water to fill everyone’s tanks (wonder what the emissions score would be for that?)

  43. Fran Barlow

    Well if you got your (electric) traction engine and a suitably designed piece of rolling stock … you could ship it some place 😉

  44. Graham Bell

    Oops, sorry Fran Barlow, that should have been @39.
    However, @ 38: No, I meant the really BIG multi-million dollar rorters, not the petty local cheats and thieves ripping off $20 here and $100 there.

  45. Ootz

    [email protected], thanks for the heads up and link.

    On a local political Facebook forum we were just discussing a recent event of sock puppetry, when someone made a comment:

    “JKR” and “The Grey Ghost” were not on facebook, but on The Cairns Post comments site. They disappeared once Manning (Cairns Mayor) was elected.”

    I would not be surprised if these shenanigans are part and parcel of Murdocracy organs.

  46. Graham Bell

    Fran Barlow @43: A solar-electric ultra light traction engine with ultra low friction bearings, broad water-weighted wheels, Lithium-ion or similar batteries and remote control will do just fine, thanks …. and in British Racing Car green too, please (don’t worry about the rally-stripes) 🙂

  47. Helen

    You’re right, Paul. A quick google found a version without the cut which makes the other one so confusing.
    I’m not surprised Bishop retired before the last election. It’s moments like these which would make you take a good hard look at yourself and your ability to cope with the job you’re in.

  48. Fran Barlow

    It all sounds pretty good Graham. I quite like Brunswick or Sorrento Green and perhaps some Primrose and Indian Red trim, to get that heritage look. 😉

    Speaking of the service of country areas, I heard the new bod from London now running “City rail” here concede that if you are in Lithgow and miss the train that gets you to Redfern by 7:50 am the next service gets you there at 9.30am — most of 2 hours later.

    I get that maybe there’s only so much rolling stock and Benthamite principles rule etc, but there are no buses or other provision at all. From Lithgow.

    You simply have to drive to Katoomba.

    Oh dear.

  49. Ronson Dalby

    Don’t you just love these pigs pollies with their noses firmly entrenched in the parliamentary trough?

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/fred-nile-has-claimed-three-pensions-totalling-more-than-1-million/story-e6frg6n6-1226654815876

  50. Ronson Dalby

    Fran @ 48,

    “You simply have to drive to Katoomba.”

    Several of the morning and afternoon trains only stop at half of the Blue Mountains stations now. You’re expected to drive to another station if you want to catch one that doesn’t stop at your home station.

    It’s commonly mentioned up here that a steam train trip to Sydney was quicker in the 50s than the same trip now.

  51. Fran Barlow

    Ronson

    I can well believe it, though the bar is quite low. The other problem is that those wanting treatment at Westmead and living out west often have to leave unreasonably early and choose only appointments that allow them to catch the one train home to see specialists.

    For the life of me I can’t understand why the state could not run a modestly sized bus (say 15-20 seats) on about a 30-minute interval between Lithgow and Katoomba. The cost couldn’t be all that great per person.

    Equally, why not provide shuttle bus services to places like Woodford, Linden and Hazelbrook from the major stations?

  52. Ronson Dalby

    Fran,

    Blue Mountains trains no longer stop at Westmead on week days.

  53. Fran Barlow

    Ronson

    Blue Mountains trains no longer stop at Westmead on week days.

    That’s not such a huge problem. You can either change at Blacktown or Seven Hills or even Parramatta depending on which works best. Westmead is a 2-minute journey from Parramatta.

  54. GregM

    For the life of me I can’t understand why the state could not run a modestly sized bus (say 15-20 seats) on about a 30-minute interval between Lithgow and Katoomba. The cost couldn’t be all that great per person.

    Why should the state do it Fran?

    If there is a demand for the service then the private sector could provide it. The state could subsidise the fares of passengers with social security etc cards.

    If there is not sufficient demand then why should the state provide a loss-making service?

  55. Katz

    The High Court decided 4-2 that this woman was not eligible for workers’ comp:

    FRENCH CJ, HAYNE, CRENNAN AND KIEFEL JJ. The respondent was at the relevant time employed by a Commonwealth government agency. She had been required to visit a regional office of the agency in New South Wales with another work colleague to observe the budget review process, meet the regional staff and undertake training. For that purpose, she stayed overnight at a nearby motel which had been booked by her employer. During the course of the evening at the motel, the respondent engaged in sexual intercourse with an acquaintance. In that process, the glass light fitting above the bed was pulled from its mount by either the respondent or her acquaintance and it struck the respondent on her nose and mouth. As a result, the respondent suffered physical injuries and a subsequent psychological injury.

    http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/HCA/2013/41.html

  56. zoot

    If there is not sufficient demand then why should the state provide a loss-making service?

    Wow, I never realised the state should only supply profitable services. At last, we can dump the armed services and put the money we waste on them to better use.

  57. GregM

    Wow, I never realised the state should only supply profitable services. At last, we can dump the armed services and put the money we waste on them to better use.

    Wow. You think that the armed services are only there to provide a profitable service.

    Sensible people know that they are there as an insurance policy against the possible risk that some external power might one day seek to invade our country or isolate it and put us under their sway. But not you. [personal comment redacted ~Mod]

    So you compare them to an unprofitable bus service, of indeterminate demand, which, according to you, should have the same call on the taxpayers’ dollar as our national defence does along with every other unprofitable bus service one can conjure up.

    The state is not your mother. At the end of every service it provides to you, from which it does not recover its costs in doing so, there is some poor taxpayer paying for you.

  58. GregM

    [email protected] a perfectly sensible decision by the majority in Comcare v PVYW, to which you have provided a link, as I am sure you will agree now that you have had the time to read it.

  59. Fran Barlow

    GregM

    Why should the state do it Fran?

    Presumably, because the private sector won’t. OK, it’s early days and perhaps they will, but maybe the ROI isn’t there, all things considered.

    I’d be interested in exploring the point at which you’d say “no, that’s too great a burden on the state”.

    Let’s say the state broke even on the service — so that lifecycle costs each year were identical to revenues from all sources but no profit was made. Would that pass muster?

    What about if the state recovered all of the running costs in revenue but not the capital expense of the buses? Too much?

    In either of these cases the private sector wouldn’t be interested but there would be unmet need.

    Genuine question.

  60. Fran Barlow

    Zoot:

    Wow, I never realised the state should only supply profitable services.

    The usual conservative claim is that of those things deemed worthwhile the state should only supply what private provision cannot. By this definition, the state should only supply unprofitable services (assuming they are worth supplying at all, are sufficiently ‘public’ etc).

  61. GregM

    Fran if the people who were using the service could pay for their use of the service without being subsidised by the state (i.e. the taxpayer) they should do so. Those who cannot should be subsidised by the state (i.e. the taxpayer) which is why I said:

    The state could subsidise the fares of passengers with social security etc cards.

    The state has limited funds which it can get from the taxpayer and should use them to meet genuine social needs, not to provide freebies to those who can pay their own way as zoot appears to think it should.

    You only need to look at the wasteful vote-buying middle-class welfare of the Howard government as against the resourcing of a long overdue decent NDIS program to see the misallocation of taxpayers resources that I am arguing against.

    And I think we’ll find ourselves in furious agreement on that.

  62. Fran Barlow

    GregM

    I’ve no problem at all with the idea that those who can pay a commercial price for a service should do so and that where those services are regarded as meeting the desire for social inclusion that those services can then be subsidised.

    I do get the concepts of opportunity cost and NPV. In any setting where a resource is scarce, one must prioritise in as non-arbitrary a fashion as one can, based on maximising the benefits that the stakeholder group wants.

    What does seem clear (admittedly at an early stage of transition to “the biggest change to timetables in a generation”) is that some people have come out very poorly indeed, and that this was not unforeseeable.

    Some provision should have been made. I can accept that running a train to and from Lithgow as frequently as some there would like may fail feasibility, but the answer is surely not to leave them with nothing at all.

  63. Graham Bell

    GregM:
    I’m not having a go at you personally but I am surprised that anyone now, in the second decade of the 21st century, surrounded as we are by so much economic wreckage caused by privatization, still believes that it can deliver anything that actually works consistently and does not end up costing all of us a fortune. I’ll upset all the Lefties now by regarding privatization as being as bad as Communism – both promised much and delivered little; both were terrific at transferring costs and hiding costs; both enriched the few and impoverished the many; both were horribly inefficient …. there are alternatives that do work …. and besides, I am well-and-truly fed up with every rorter and crook in the country getting a free ride at my expense in the name of privatization.

    Privatization has failed …. and I want my refund for its shoddy goods right now!

  64. Fran Barlow

    Graham

    I’ll upset all the Lefties now by regarding privatization as being as bad as Communism

    If both terms refer to phenomena in 20th century history, then ‘communism’ was far worse. Of course, both terms are ill-defined and misleading, so I’m not sure where that gets us.

  65. Katz

    GregM

    [email protected] a perfectly sensible decision by the majority in Comcare v PVYW, to which you have provided a link, as I am sure you will agree now that you have had the time to read it.

    Why do you infer that I don’t think it is sensible? The interesting question is whether it is optimal.

    The majority proffered the possibility that if the light had fallen on the respondent’s head, then she may have been eligible for compo. One may further imagine that if the room had been invaded by an intruder who raped her and in the commission of that act caused the light to fall on her head, then the respondent may also be eligible for compo. So the question is how might consent to a particular act, the unintended result of which is a blow from a detached light fitting vitiate entitlement to compo?

    The distinction isn’t between sensible and silly verdicts but between more or slightly less sensible verdicts.

  66. zoot

    Sensible people know that they are there as an insurance policy …

    And insurance policies don’t provide profits … right … got it.
    Next you’ll be telling me it is only right and proper that my money should pay for roads I will never use, hospitals I will never attend and politicians I didn’t vote for.
    I think you’re a closet socialist.

  67. Chris

    Why do you infer that I don’t think it is sensible? The interesting question is whether it is optimal.

    What are you trying to optimise for here?

    The distinction isn’t between sensible and silly verdicts but between more or slightly less sensible verdicts.

    Aren’t they trying to draw a line between work related activities and non work related ones? Eg she had to stay at the motel as part of her job so if she was attacked at the motel or the light fitting was faulty she would have been covered. But injuries from non work related activities – say someone decides to participate in a sporting event unrelated to their work, but during their non working hours whilst on a work trip, isn’t covered.

  68. Katz

    Aren’t they trying to draw a line between work related activities and non work related ones?

    Doubtless. But the question is whether the Court has achieved this ambition.

  69. Mindy

    say someone decides to participate in a sporting event unrelated to their work, but during their non working hours whilst on a work trip, isn’t covered.

    Unless of course you are a Liberal politician /snark

  70. Russell

    Just read the extract from Mark Latham’s new book, published on The Guardian today. It could only have been written – by a supposedly left-wing politician – in a country that hasn’t seen a recession in more than a generation. Still, Latham’s views provide a neat picture of what the left is up against.

  71. Chris

    Doubtless. But the question is whether the Court has achieved this ambition.

    So how and where do you think the line should be drawn?

    Unless of course you are a Liberal politician /snark

    Heh, or just “politician”. There seems to be a general exception for them – another example is the spam laws – political parties are exempt.

  72. Russell

    Chris – (sorry, can’t resist) do you remember my comment about the AEC and your response:

    Russell: “Another example of how ineptly managed the AEC had become under the previous government?”

    Chris: “I know more detail has come out since your comment (essentially someone just copied down a number incorrectly), but I think its actually an example of how well the AEC system works. It’s inevitable that humans will make mistakes. This shows that the double checking that they do will pick up these sorts of problems. A less robust system would simply not have found the problem in the first place.”

    … and I note: this from the Commissioner in today’s West (online)

    “On behalf of the AEC, I apologise to the electors of Western Australia and to the candidates and parties for this failure of the AEC.”

  73. Russell

    Sorry – this is the start of the article:

    “A major investigation has been launched after it emerged that more than 1000 ballot papers from the WA Senate election have been lost.

    The missing votes, totalling 1375 ballots, could not be found during the ongoing recount of the WA Senate race.

    The Australian Electoral Commission announced today that Mick Keelty, former Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police, would head the probe.”

  74. Chris

    Russell – those are different cases aren’t they? For the WA case it certainly is a big concern that so many votes have gone missing. But with redundant checks at least they know the votes have gone missing and hopefully the investigation will determine what happened.

    Given the closeness of the election I wonder if there are grounds for just holding the WA senate election again?

  75. Russell

    Chris – I think a re-run would give Scott Ludlum a much better chance of being elected, so hopefully the votes are lost for good and the electors can keep voting ’till they get it right!

  76. Patrickb

    @72
    I would have thought that it would be most undesirable to have politicians overseeing the vote counting operations of the AEC. Perhaps you’d like a US system where the officials are elected. Worked well in Dade Country?

  77. Fran Barlow

    Well it’s just as well that those narky candidates insisted on a recount isn’t it? We might never have known about the missing ballots.

  78. jules

    Fran @ 34 – Persona Management Software has been around for a few years now. Its specifically designed to enable sock puppet commenting by PR firms and political groups. Well by individuals in those PR companies or political groups.

  79. jules

    If there is not sufficient demand then why should the state provide a loss-making service?

    Because we live in a society.

    That is one of the functions of the state in a(n equal and equitable) society.

  80. Graham Bell

    Jules @ 79:
    Three resounding cheers!!
    You hit the mark there.

    If a government can’t – or won’t – fulfil this vital function …. then why the hell do we reward them for their neglect and laziness with the gift of our taxes? Why do we risk our lives defending them? Why do we obey their laws? Why do we even bother paying them any attention at all?

    Conservatives, Liberal Party enthusiasts and “right-wing” ratbags (they are not always the same) say they are opposed to specific groups of people getting a free ride on the rest of society …. then why don’t they protest about specific governments (even the ones they support) bludging on all of us by failing to fulfil this vital function?

    Fran Barlow @64:
    Sorry I didn’t get straight back with a clearly defined comparison of communism and privatization (that deserves a whole discussion thread) but both enriched tiny cliques – one by mass murder, the other by mass fraud.

    b.t.w.: At last, a few millimeteres of rain; not enough to supply drinking water but the clouds bring hope. 🙂

  81. jules

    It seems to me that often “privatisation” only privatises the profits and socialises the costs.

  82. Graham Bell

    Jules @ 81: Concise …. and devastatingly accurate assessment.

  83. Fran Barlow

    Graham Bell

    What “communism” and privatisation have in common is that they have been defined in the public mind by the boss class.

    The boss class and its mouthpieces describe concepts like equality and equitable collaboration variously as a crime against nature, an attempt to re-engineer humanity, a futile attempt to defeat the iron law of oligarchy and doomed to failure by the fundamental unworthiness of humanity. Privilege needs no warrant, they assert. It is inevitable.

    Which brings us to privatisation — which, unsurprisingly, the boss classes regard as a return to sense, ripping power out of the hands of the dangerous mob and placing it into the hands of the privileged where it can instantiate the very claims they make about the unworthiness of humanity.