Thursday, December 28, 2006

Palm Island Fiasco

Something is rotten in the state of Queensland. Now I'm no medical expert, but I'm pretty sure one usually doesn't fall over and sustain four broken ribs and splits their liver in two. However, apparently this is possible in certain police stations in QLD. Sure, maybe you cannot charge the police officer with murder but surely there's something called "police brutality"? Or was that concept scrapped when old Joh was in power?

I realise Queensland has somewhat of a dark history when it comes to police corruption, but this is purely ridiculous. From allowing the accused police officer's mates to perform the investigation to calling in a former judge who had ties with the DPP to head an inquiry, this Palm Island fiasco is just an endless saga of stupidty and corruption. And Beattie doesn't see how nominating the former judge is a conflict of interest. Simply breath-taking.

Beattie also said that come Christmas, we'll all sit down and have some "wine", and forget about this event. Not likely, Beattie, not bloody likely.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Handouts for Car Companies

Rising oil prices and all the rest has led to "our" struggling car manufacturers asking for a handout:

Car-makers who have sought financial help from the federal Government are unlikely to have their pleas granted, Treasurer Peter Costello said today

The manufacturers have asked the Howard Government to freeze tariffs at 10 per cent and pump a further $1 billion into the industry as it struggles to remain viable while consumers are switching to smaller, imported vehicles.

The demands by the four domestic manufacturers - GM Holden, Ford, Toyota and Mitsubishi - show the industry is concerned about its future as it deals with a strong Australian dollar and high petrol prices.

Am I just overly cynical* when I snidely say "boo bloody hoo" to the car companies? For years Ford and Holden have made fuel guzzling cars. Who born in the last century didn't that realise oil prices would eventually go up?

My parents have bought Japanese cars for many years because they are often cheaper, well-made, and with smaller fuel-efficient engines. Australia has a motoring culture (which Japanese car companies have catered for), and with it comes superfluously large engines. Check out the average engine size in Europe. I can understand larger engines for long road trips, and towing trailers and caravans, but in the city?

I've been told that Holden is basically the only section of General Motors that makes a profit. Something has to give, lads. I say go the Corolla (hat tip to Martini).

*Personally, I prefer the term "realistic".

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Geographically Ignorant

People are often quick to point out America's ignorance of the world - though I say it's partly understandable due to their terrible news coverage and the sheer size of their country. Nevertheless, the Americans are challenging the Brits in the geography stakes. And, the Brits are winning, but only slightly.

I reckon we should have one here. Some Australians can be remarkably ignorant about the world. America's excuse is their size and TV, what's ours? However, I cannot remember clearly learning the locations of countries at school. It's something people assume you'll pick it up on the way. I personally learnt the countries, and their capitals, of Europe by playing a simple computer game in highschool. And who said computer games weren't educational?

Update: The Americans have taken the lead by a whisker.

Update: I found the section for all countries. Australia isn't doing too well. I scored a perfect 100%, but I guessed the location of the Dominican Republic. Very lucky.

Another Bank Rant

I loathe the fact that Australian banks charge the consumer fees like there's no tomorrow. Banks should be paying me for using my money to reap huge rewards on investments. My UK flatmate uses ATMS here, and receives no fees (other than the exchange rate) via his British bank. The Brits laugh at the banking situation in Australia.

ANZ wanted to charge me $6 a month to have a VISA debit card. Alternatively, I can have one for free from the bank of Suncorp (VISA debit cards is something else that has taken Australian too long to obtain). And because Suncorp has very few ATMs outside of QLD, you can use any ATM in Melbourne without fees.

Australian banks make stupidly high profits. Doesn't take a genius to see why foreign banks, such as ING, have released their better offers to the Australian market - mind you, now 49% of ING Direct is ANZ owned.

ANZ's profits in the last couple of years have been amazing. ANZ is a Melbourne based bank, and they give lectures here once a year encouraging PhD graduates to join their ranks and devise better money-making techniques. Well, if you can't beat 'em...

Charity of the Rich

The US has a long history of rich entrepreneurs giving away their billions for admirable causes such charity and education (and, unfortunately, to creationism exhibitions). Even in Australia a number of libraries were donated by the American steel magnate Andrew Carnegie. Unfortunately, the Australian rich seem not to share the same generous tradition of their American counterparts. However, a change may be in the wind:

Amid the billions rotating around the tailfin of the Flying Kangaroo yesterday, the most astonishing amount was the smallest: A sum, perhaps $30 million, perhaps $60 million, that Qantas chief executive Geoff Dixon has decided not to take.

Dixon is staying with Qantas, and leads the few dozen executives who are being dealt a total of 1 per cent of issued capital as part of the deal. But in a statement yesterday he said he and his family had decided that a key component in his remuneration package, a long-term investment scheme, would be gifted to a charitable trust "for the benefit of the community" — medical research and indigenous health in particular.

Interesting. Dixon tells the unions to piss off one minute, the next he's pledging millions towards charity. The late thuggish Kerry Packer apparently gave away some of his money secretly to charities (he also, allegedly, gambled away over 20 million in one night at a London casino). If Packer can receive a state (sponsored) funeral, I wonder what Dixon deserves?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Australian Banknotes

In the spirit of delving into Australia’s past, I thought I’d go over the men and women who appear on our plastic banknotes.

$5 - Regular

The Queen: our head of State.

$5 - Federation

Sir Henry Parkes: a politician known as "Father of Federation". The English-born Parkes travelled the country rallying the colonies to become one. The rest is history.

Catherine Helen Spence: a journalist, social and political reformer, novelist and feminist. She was part of the "first wave" feminism movement, which partly explains why Australia was one of the first places to allow women to vote (I believe South Australia beat New Zealand who was the first nation).


Banjo Paterson: an avid poet, ballad writer, journalist and horseman. Probably the most famous man on our money, Paterson was aslo a Sydney lawyer, which just goes to show that one of the main architects of the “Aussie battler” icon was a city-dweller.

Dame Mary Gilmore: an author, journalist, poet, patriot and tireless campaigner against injustice and deprivation, as well as an aspiring socialist who contributed to the New Australia movement.


Reverend John Flynn: a pioneer of the world's first aerial medical service, now known as the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Mary Reibey: a early business woman who did much charity work and made significant contributions in education. Reibey was also a former convict (or emancipist) who was convicted for horse theft at the early age of 13.


David Unaipon: writer, public speaker and inventor. Unaipon made significant contributions to science and literature, and to improvements in the conditions of Aboriginal people.

Edith Cowan: a social worker, politician and feminist, and founder of many charity organisations. Cowan was the first woman member of an Australian parliament.


Dame Nellie Melba
: world renowned soprano. Mellie gained international success in the world of opera and was considered a household name. She also had a dessert named after her.

Genearl Sir John Monash: military commander, engineer and admistrator. This man was an impressive wartime general as well as an intellectual champion hence why a prestigious scholarship bares his name. Monash was also responsible for steel reinforced concrete.

I think my favourite person is Monash, though I admire the fact that Reibey was actually a former convict who made something of herself. Admittedly, I know little about these people. So much to read, so little time.

Politics Everywhere

Despite the recent Victorian elections I kept my electoral enrolment in Queensland as I knew the Division of Brisbane was a swinging seat - opposed to Melbourne which has been a Labor stronghold for many years. I wonder if this is some type of gerrymandering in reverse? The voters move to change the elecotorate? Obviously, not very practical or feasible. Regardless, the show down of the political nerds, Howard and Rudd, shall be interesting. Howard is already attempting to canvass votes with his emerging environmental policies.

In other news, the right-wing Chilean tyrant Augusto Pinochet has finally died to join the ranks of other fallen dictators like Pol Pot and Stalin. The former dictator may have, as The Australian editorial suggests, saved Chile from an economical disaster, but thousands suffered in the process. Interestingly, the current president of Chile Michelle Bachelet was exhiled to Australia for seven years before migrating to Germany - hence why she can speak about six languages. Maybe Australia should adopt more polictical prisoners in the hope that they will become leaders and look after Oz.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Grampians Conference

I am in the Grampians from Wednesday to Friday for a casual conference or workshop, as they call it. Unfortunately, I have to wake up tomorrow at 7, and catch three buses to arrive there just around lunch. They better have plenty of free beer. And the net.

Mayne Vs Milne

Apparently, the thuggish Sydney Toiletgraph reporter got his facts wrong:

A furious Crikey founder Stephen Mayne today condemned political journalist Glenn Milne for getting his facts wrong.

Milne accused Mayne of putting up a link from a story on Crikey earlier this year to a blog that accused Milne of being a sexual predator.

However, Mayne told today he had nothing to do with the link and added: "In my view Crikey have done the wrong thing linking to that blog.

"I'm at war with that blog and I'm the biggest victim of that blog [and now to be accused of] something that I know nothing about for supposedly endorsing a bloke who I'm at war with, who's stalking me. It's just a bizarre turn of events."

Today Crikey national affairs editor Christian Kerr wrote on the Crikey site: "Change the migraine medication Glenn before you get more befuddled ... because you attacked the wrong person at the Walkleys."

So much for unsubstantiated rumours. Somebody should have told Milne that Mayne sold his ezine last year. Milne apologises to Mayne then accuses him of getting his facts wrong in his column. The gall.

The lads at News LTD are giving Mayne a hard time. Maybe it's because Mayne has a habbit of rocking up to AGMs and asking old Murdoch hard-hitting questions.

Earlier in the evening Milne also abused his former Channel 7 boss for sacking him. Angry little man.

Monday, December 04, 2006

New Labor Chief

As most of Australians would already know, Kevin Rudd has beaten Kim Beazley to become the new Federeal Opposition Leader. I know little about Rudd except for what wiki has to offer.

Rudd is a critic of the libertarian economist Friedrich Hayek and his free-market capitalism approach, which the Liberals follow. A "rising tide" doesn't lift all boats?

He's also an open Anglican and believes in the laudable Chrisian belief of helping the poor. To be expected as most Australians are some Christian faith. Howard is also an Anglican. I wonder if Rudd believes in financing school chaplains as well?

Finally, the man hails from Queensland. I was wondering if there's ever been a QLD PM. I know Victoria produced a few in the 60's and 70s. The last three came from NSW, and WA respectively. Then I recalled the Labor PM Andrew Fisher used to live in my old town - no doubt as a coal miner. Fisher also lived in Gympie for some time. A PM from QLD. Who would have thought?


You hear plenty of incorrect stories behind the origins of the term "pom" - often from English themselves. It's a term of affection, honestly mate:

The term "Pom", Australians' description of English people, is part of the Australian tradition of rhyming slang and should not be construed as offensive, the man who oversees the Australian Oxford Dictionary has said.

Dr Bruce Moore, who heads the Australian National Dictionary Centre at the Australian National University, says the history of the word shows it is largely inoffensive, even affectionate.

Some British expatriates living in Australia, calling themselves British People Against Racial Discrimination, have launched legal action to be rid of the word "Pom" in advertising on the basis that it is a derogatory term.

Dr Moore said such complaints are not new.

"At the Australian National Dictionary Centre we are often pressured by external groups to alter our labelling of the words Pom and Pommy," he said in a statement.

"Of course it's possible that the words might be used offensively or in a derogatory way, but they can also be used in a good-humoured and even affectionate way."

Dr Moore said popular belief had it that Pom was an acronym for Prisoner of Mother (England).

"But this is as barmy as the army," he said. "From 1860 `jimmygrant', rhyming slang for immigrant, was used contemptuously of new chums from Britain, from the red of the pomegranate, perhaps referring to the ruddy complexion of new arrivals.

Typical. Whinging poms. I mean that in an affectionate way, of course.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Drunken Journalist

As some of you may already know, Crikey founder, Jeff Kennett hater and shareholding activist Stephen Mayne has been pushed off stage by a drunken Sunday Telegraph political columnist during the Walkley Awards (for journalism) ceremony.

Check out the footage here. Classic. I love Mayne's words after the altercation:

"I have an announcement to make on behalf of Rupert Murdoch. That is the former Sunday Telegraph political correspondent, Glenn Milne."

Bloody thuggish journalists.