Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Terrance Cole

The 'Cole report has been handed down and as expected it lets the government off the hook. Having said that, I think there is enough in it to implicate government ministers and their staff. In fact if probably goes a lot further than that, if you only knew, as an insider would.

Below I have copied from The Age newspaper, a few lines quoting legal advisers to the AWB executives who say they didn't do any of the bribery for personal gain, and the government knew of these bribes all along.

I have always disliked people in power misbehaving with our money [taxes] or our trust. In this case one [money] led to the other. The opposition [Labor] are saying it is the biggest scandle in the history of the commonwealth. If it is found to be that the foreign minister [Mr. Downer] or the Prime minister [Mr. Howard] knew anything of this and have lied and purposely restricted the terms of reference for the Cole enquiry then they should go. And in the words of the Cole enquiry, 'They should be subject to the full force of the law'.


The Age 28/11/2006

AWB figures implicated in the Iraq wheat scandal have threatened to call Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer as a witness if they face trial, with one vowing "my QC will rip him to shreds".

With the Cole report yesterday recommending 11 former AWB executives be investigated for possible criminal offences but clearing Howard Government ministers and officials, several wheat board figures embroiled in the scandal hit out at the Coalition.

"The Government knew, and what about the UN? They knew everything," said one AWB figure. "It's like Breaker Morant all over again. If I go to trial, then Downer will be the first witness called, that's a promise. My QC will rip him to shreds."

Another AWB executive said: "This is ridiculous. None of us got any personal profit, it all went to the farmers … everything was approved by the AWB, by our lawyers and the Government."

Monday, November 27, 2006


Over the weekend we had an election, here in Victoria. That's just in case you missed. People in Canada probably missed it, cause we nearly did here. If it wasn't a case of you have to vote, then I think most of us wouldn't of bothered. Yes here in Australia all elections are compulsory, and you get fined if you don't vote.

The voting ritual goes a bit like this. You can vote on the day between 8 am and 6 pm. And you can send you vote in via the post. [Postal vote] or you can vote outside your electorate [Absentee vote] you just have to get your name ticked off the big register, one is held at all voting centers. The voting centers are usually primary schools, church halls, kindergartens. The scrutinizers are very strict with protocol but usually kind and helpful at the same time. There are things you can't do, usually to do with persuading others to vote a particular way or not vote at all. With in the confines of the voting hall you must wait your turn to see an election official who has the register, you give them your details they asked you a couple of questions.

'have you voted today?'

'What is your address?'

Then they line you off the register, and away you go with your voting papers in your hand.

We usually have 2 pieces of paper to vote on because the states have 2 houses of parliament and so does the Commonwealth. Which is the name we give to the Federal Government in Canberra.

Once you have sorted the voting out, which can be quite confusing, due to the number of candidates. If you were to tick all the boxes in the Senate you would need to have a pencil sharpener.

Back to state election, The queue of voters ran around the school, it took 25 minutes to get inside. While you wait, spruikers for the political parties approach and offer you 'How to vote' cards, which take the pain out of voting, that's if you want to vote the way your preferred party want you to vote. This means that the preferences of the candidates/parties will be distributed to their preferred candidates if and when required.

Don't ask me to explain this system, it means there is a lot of bargaining between political parties, much to the voters chagrin.

The election results were known by mid-evening and the incumbent Labor party were re-elected with a very small decrease in seats.


Monday, November 20, 2006

T3 and the Supa fund

Just a quick note on the T3 float that has gone so well, due I'm sure cause you can get a fully franked share. Not being a share holder it doesn't make much sense to me, but I can't think why you would invest in a share that has consistently gone down.
Still that is not what I''m writing about. I have noticed that the 15.5 Billion dollars it has raised is going into the governments Future Fund. Which should really be called the Supa fund for Public servants. I didn't agree at the last election when the Treasurer said this fund would be set up to pay out the supa funds of our public servants. They get a disproportionate contribution and in the past it is paid by the current public servants contributions. Now we are selling publicly owned assets to pay supa. Whereas when Telstra was first floated for sale it was going to the environment a much healthier cause than paying out public servants.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Mis-Spoken Beazely

A Yes Minister Sketch.
Dear The Age Letters,

Today Mr. Beazely claims he 'Mis-spoke. His exact words were,
"I would like to correct the record after I mis-spoke this morning,"

This was in reference to his attempt to offer his condolences to Rove
McManus on the loss of his wife Belinda Emmett. Instead of Rove
McManus he said Karl Rove.

I think if he was being honest about this he would say, I have made a
mistake. I have never heard the expression used in this way before. It
smacks of 'Yes Minister' speak to me. Who ever made the original
mistake should own up to it, either a staff member or Mr. Beazely

The sentiments behind an announcement like this is, of a personal
nature, and indicates a caring for the bereaved. When it goes very wrong like
this has, it diminishes the value of the sentiment.
In my book Mis-spoke doesn't exist, it's a cop out.


Pamela Stephenson and A Salty Tale

Showing on the ABC TV at the moment is a programme about Pamela Stephenson looking for the wreck of her great great grandfathers. I will attach and article from The Age newspaper re the reasons for this search.

The point I want to make having watch two shows [more to come] is that you get the impression that these people are so up themselves it puts them all in a bad light. It is a bit like the Hierarchical system of the English royalty playing it's self out and the main players are so unaware of their awful behavior.

They are either Royalty [Pam] with lines like, 'I want them to get off my boat'. 'It's my money'. [Referring to the lost treasure.]

Or they are the Courtiers, in this case minor public school affected voices pampering to the Queens desires.

Then comes the downstairs crew. Upstairs downstairs trip. The downstairs are the security, cooks, film crew.

And one more category the hangers on. I think at one point there is mention of 17 people on this 'Yacht'.

In many ways it is a rich persons junket, there are probably hundred of them taking place every year. It's just this could of been a good story of lost treasure and mutinous crew. Instead it is insight of sorts into the rich and not so famous and how they live, and such they don't come out smelling of roses.

To sum up there is a scene where two of the hangers on, are celebrating the sun going over the yard arm, by downing a couple of beers. With a bit of banter and a few shots of them swigging away the final shot is of the pair of them throwing their empty beer bottles over the side. Moments after which, we are told by Pamela just how beautiful and pristine the sea is.

And when she really needs to get somewhere [fast] she abandons the multi-million dollar yacht and flies off to pursue her search. The sense of adventure lost immediately.

So there you have it the comings and goings of the rich.


The Age Article

STUNNED by a chance meeting and a revelation about her great-great-grandfather's grisly demise, Pamela Stephenson sailed into pirate-plagued waters to discover her past.

The New Zealand-born wife of Scottish comedian Billy Connolly walked into a bar in Malta and heard a woman say: "It wasn't a mutiny, you know."

In her book Billy, Stephenson had briefly mentioned that her great-great-grandfather, British sailor Samuel "Salty Sam" Stephenson, had been the victim of a mutiny on his ship near Java in 1821.

But someone thought otherwise.

"It is probably the weirdest coincidence of my life," she said, describing in Melbourne yesterday the curious meeting. The woman said she was descended from a crew member of his ship Rosalie, and said it had been seized by pirates, who killed Stephenson.

"I was absolutely shocked that there should have been two completely different stories … handed down through families over many generations," she said. "The full import of it didn't hit me right then. It was only in the subsequent weeks that I thought, what is going on here?"

She readied a crew and sailed her 30-metres yacht Takapuna from Cairns to the Indonesia Archipelago. What happened from there is the basis of a book and four-part television series Murder or Mutiny, which investigates the story through old shipping records, personal testimony and physical evidence. Stephenson, a former actor and comic turned psychologist and author, feels satisfied with the results of her exploration, but continues to seek information about Salty Sam.

"One of the things that I'm hoping is that somebody might have more information," she said. "I think there are lots of pieces I still don't know."

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Smart Cards on Public Transport

A report out today tells of how here in Melbourne we evade our public transport fares in a big way. We do this because we can, the system lost it's conductors and number of years ago. They were replaced with an automated ticketing system, that hasn't really worked very well since it's inception.

The way it works: You buy a ticket either at an outlet such as a milk bar, tattslotto shop, or on the tram. You have to know what type of ticket you want, how long you want to travel for. 2 hours or more, where you want to go, zone 1,2, or 3. You have to provide a status I.D. if you want a concession ticket. As you can see just getting the ticket is a pain. Once you have the ticket and you get on the tram you are supposed to validate the ticket. This is done by passing the ticket into a slot in a validating machine these are mounted along the center aisle of the tram. Once you have done all this you can take a seat and rest easy. That is until a ticket inspector comes along to check on all those passengers who haven't bought a ticket, or validated their pre-bought one. Even the validating is a contentious issue. The law is vague about whether you actually have to validate a pre-purchased valid ticket.
So we have public transport fraud.

At the time of this system being put out for tender, there were all sorts of cock ups. Culminating in broken contracts, court cases and overruns in costs etc etc. Now we are on the brink of yet another system, that in my opinion will be even worse.

The new system proposes we use a smart card to pay for our public transport trips. Smart cards have been around for a while, but for a variety of reasons they are not in common usage yet. The main reason for that I think is that what appeared to be a secure card re privacy turned out to be not so.

My main objection to using a smart card in this way is that a smart card has a lot of private information on it. It has money stored in it. It requires sophisticated software. And all this is expected to work very quickly on a busy commuter tram with queues of passengers lurching this way and that, as the inexperienced traveler tries to decipher the information required to purchase the correct fare with the correct zone correct status etc etc. [See above for fare pricing]. I think the designers of this system haven't thought through the everyday practicalities of traveling on public transport. In a similar way to the current ticketing system which is still not working properly.
I know for one I wouldn't want to be harassed at a ticket machine on a busy tram with a faulty or used up smart card.
Next time I will suggest an alternative system.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

King Arthur [John Howard] And the Round Table

As previously mentioned, the climate debate is going to hot up here in Australia. The main stream politicians are jumping on board. Our esteemed leader John Howard has just announced an enquiry into climate change. He has set up a business club as a sort of round table affair where very well heeled captains of industry will help determine our global future from an Australian perspective.

It seems like only yesterday that John Howard didn't see any problems with global warming, in fact it was a totally unproven piece of hokey pokey, peddled by the lefties and the Greens who didn't like the way capitalism did business.

As previously mentioned now that some prominent elderly business men have decided to adopt some green credentials, the likes of King John will come on board and make a shit load of political mileage out of climate change and global warming. He won't take any blame for delaying this decision for the best part of a decade. He won't admit to being influenced in his cabinet by good mates, he had made ministers for energy and mines, who actually owned coal mines. He won't apologise for blaming his inaction on the loss of Australian jobs if he signed Kyoto. Which in fact is probably the opposite outcome if we do nothing to curb global warming.

All you can say is the canny old bugger, managed to get another 10 years of top price coal sales while he ignored the greenhouse gas emissions. Now he will get as much credence for seeing the 'Green' light.

I'm sure he hopes to wrong foot the Labor party and the Greens in his pursuit of the Statesman credentials he hopes he will be remembered for.

Cause his involvement in the war in Iraq surely shouldn't.

a link to a great little video, called [Wont get fooled again ] made I think while the Americans were having their Senate elections.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


Forgetful, I was sitting here wondering what I had on my mind to write and realised I had forgotten the subject entirely, I had it on my way to work and now I am here it has gone. I know it included something with numbers in, that's all that comes back to me right now.

While sitting here I also realise I have forgotten to shave this morning. Did all the normal stuff showering etc. but somehow skipped the shaving bit. I'll let you know when I remember these things.

This reminds me of an article I read about getting older and getting cross with ones self about forgetting things. In the vain of I am forgetting simple things therefore I am becoming senile and dementia is setting in. The positive thought that came out of this rather depressing realisation was this.

We forget things all our lives, when we are younger it doesn't matter, and we don't beat ourselves up about it. But when we pass 50 we start to panic and think it is a new occurrence, and we are heading down the senile one way street. This is not true for most of us, it is just that we forget things like we always did. In fact we remember heaps of things and we have 50 years of memories to look after. So by the time I remember what I was going to write about I will of had a hundred more things to remember.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Global Warming

At the end of the last century we had the millennium bug. Yes we all caught the millennium bug. Whether it was real or imagined or real with a lot of spin, we may never know.

Once the year 2000 arrived we all got on with our lives never to think of it again. But you should of heard the noise it made in the lead up to that fateful day. We were so paranoid that disasters would happen,
aeroplanes would fall out of the sky, people thought their life savings would disappear from their bank accounts etc. etc. As a world community we spent billions of dollars on fixing the problem. I think it was the first time I saw figures in the billions to describe a fault fixing budget.

Now you may wonder what this has to do with Global warming or Climate change.

Finally the main stream press,
politicians, community, are taking notice of this problem. For the first time right wing middle to old age white men are being converted and because they are in powerful positions we will now be presented with their idea, of what changes are required to fix the problem.

But first we will get noise. Lots of noise, it will get so loud that we will be fed up with it with in the next few years. Elections will be fought over it, schools, work places, manufacturing, third world economies, all of these will be made to be accountable to treaties and international agreements. There will be everything from the benign to the extreme. And all will get their representation in the media, school newsletters, mission statements, retirement plans, you name it, it will affect it. The industry around this will be bigger than Ben
Hur, and all because it has become the issue/cause of the 21st century.

Don't get me wrong, I don't have a problem with cutting back on
consuming carbon fuels and most of the related addictions to modern consumer based society. I just don't think we will work out constructive ways to do it. We will all jump up and down and make all that noise. Have a hundred and one opinions and get very little achieved. We will probably pass the buck and the blame onto whoever is weaker than ourselves. We will have environmental spies, dob in a neighbour, already exists over some issues this mentality will get worse, or better considering your point of view.
You probably see where I am coming from, I will expand more as the noise gets louder.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The editing Pencil

I have just upgraded to the new beta blog. At the same time I have changed my computer to a newer one. I am running virtually the same xp system and viewing this blog on firefox. But some how I have lost that little pencil that enables you to quickly edit your blog when viewing it as a blog page. I have checked security settings and firewalls etc. etc.
I have even written to the blogger team, to no avail. Does anyone know how I can get that darn pencil back to edit my blogs.
Apart from that have a nice Melbourne cup and I hope your horse wins.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

New Blogger

Hi Anna went over to the new beta blog this morning, so no excuses re comments etc. Time does fly and we are already thinking about camping up on the farm again. 2 hours of daylight saving I think I remember that but I thought it was during the war. Hope all goes well.