Site news: June 29

For some reason – I don’t know why – some threadster comments are being caught up in the spaminator and others are going straight into Trash. I am clearing out comments as quickly as I can – hopefully the spaminator will update and stop doing what it is doing. (No idea about the straight to Trash comments).

I am in northern Queensland at the moment so this might not happen as quickly as some might like.

Also I’m taking a cautious approach to new threadsters to avoid Bird outbreaks.

Posted in Site News | 9 Comments

Please – let’s have people who have technical knowledge

Whichever government is formed after Saturday night will find a public service at the nadir of its capability. For too long subject matter generalists have been filling positions rather than officers with substantial technical capacity. Thus Treasury is a pale imitation of its grand days under secretaries from John Stone to Ted Evans.

Leo Dobes at the ANU has written that the public service has been harmed by a lack of economic specialists. Sinclair and Steve can confirm that the number of students studying economics has declined as they have moved to less difficult disciplines like underwater basket weaving.

Perhaps it is not surprising, then, that Katherine Street, director of People Flourishing, thinks that there is too much focus on technical expertise and women, especially, are harmed by not getting leaders rather than technical experts.

The public sector needs to stop expecting leaders to be technical experts and start expecting them to be leadership experts. The bias is particularly damaging for women and stifles organisations’ ability to think creatively.

Street goes on to cite an example of a woman called Renee who has missed out on a promotion

The reason she wasn’t selected? She was deemed to be equal to the selected candidate on all but one criterion. Renee did not have the depth of technical background in the key work performed in the unit.

Street (and Renee) are gobsmacked that someone who is the equal of Renee in all criteria but one and technically superior to Renee is chosen.

I would have chosen the person with the technical expertise too – we have more than enough people in the public service who don’t know what they are doing. Do we want Treasury to be filled with ‘leaders’ with no knowledge of economics? I think not.

No wonder the public service is in decline if Street’s thinking has resonance. We have far too many chiefs and not enough technical experts.

And what an insult to women: that there is a bias against them because they must (implied by Street) have on average less technical expertise than men.

We need to reinvigorate our public service by building up technical expertise, including economics. This may require that a number of courses in universities be disbanded. One shouldn’t go to university to study nursing, journalism, child care, film studies, gender studies, design, construction management, hotel management, tourism, alternative medicine etc.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Offer or a threat

Offer or a threat

It isn’t clear to me if this young lady is offering oral sex or threatening oral sex.

Either way at a time when we’re experiencing a gender violence moral panic and MPs are being murdered in the street, it does seem somewhat strange that the ABC thought this to be a good idea. Mind you, the same comedians thought it a good idea to crash a summit dressed as terrorists (pity we didn’t get to see the US Secret Service dealing with them – that would have been their greatest contribution to human entertainment ever) and then some years later televised a defamatory photo of Chris Kenny.

Posted in 2016 election, Hypocrisy of progressives | 71 Comments

Guest Post: John Slater – Labor: Putting Unions First

Fifty-five years ago, unionist turned Labor leader Arthur Calwell lost the second closest election in Australian history running on the mantra ‘Labor puts people first.’

Sound familiar?

Like Calwell, Bill Shorten plans to subsidise uncompetitive industries and run a budget deficit to lavish more funds on health and education.

But while Labor’s policies are still rooted in the 1960’s, what has changed is the nature of the workforce Bill Shorten claims to represent.

In Calwell ‘s days, putting people first meant standing strong for the 55 per cent of workers who belonged to a trade union.

But with union membership dwindling to just 17 per cent of today’s workforce, Labor’s rehashed election slogan raises an important question. As the political leader of a union movement now outnumbered by small business owners, who exactly does Bill Shorten plan on putting first?

If recent history is any reliable guide, it may not even be the members.

Labor’s largest union affiliate, the SDA or ‘shoppies’ has come under recent fire for striking pay deals with Coles and McDonalds which slashed penalty rates for hundreds of thousands of workers of low-paid workers.

One of these agreements left an 18-year-old McDonalds casual $2500 worse off a year compared to the industry award.

Coles and McDonalds returned the favour by helping the Shoppies recruit for its 250,000 strong membership and paying exorbitant sums for ‘training courses.’ This allows the shoppies to fork out millions for Labor campaigns and boost its sway over Labor pre-selections and internal affairs. None of this is by chance: twelve members of Labor’s Federal caucus have ties with the shoppies.

Bill Shorten himself is no stranger to enterprise agreements where fleecing workers is the price of political gain. As AWU Secretary, Bill Shorten negotiated a pay deal which cut the pay of casual cleaners from $28-$29 an hour to a meagre $18. Shorten’s quid pro quo was an arrangement that automatically signed cleaners up to the AWU, resulting in around 90 per cent of the businesses duped cleaners signing on as members.

Labor remains institutionally wedded to an organisation that has done more to cut weekend pay than any member of the Coalition. The irony for members must be biting.

Who was Labor putting first when it created the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal whose ‘safe rates’ orders threatened to drive 40,000 small business truck drivers into bankruptcy? Created by Julia Gillard at the behest of the Transport Workers Union, the tribunal’s final price order would have forced owner drivers to charge sometimes more than three times the trucking heavy weights for the exactly the same trip.

A Shorten Government will restore the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal and lay waste to tens of thousands of jobs and small businesses.

And then there’s the construction sector, where anti-competitive union monopolies and lawlessness jack up building costs by billions every year. The CFMEU’s negotiation tactics often involve flouting the law to secure extravagant wages and conditions while blocking out competition through handshake deals and intimidation. As a result, costs on union-run commercial building sites are between 20 per cent to 35 per cent higher than residential housing. Unskilled labourers on union wage agreements earn six figure salaries that are almost double the award rate.

This explains a lot about why Australia pays 40% more for vital public infrastructure than the United States.

It’s estimated that restoring the Australian Building and Construction Commission would alone would boost productivity by at least 9 per cent and improve consumer welfare by $7.5 billion a year. Labor has fought the bill at every stage.

The CFMEU has donated $7 million to Labor branches in the last ten years and like the shoppies, exerts considerable influence over both the Labor caucus and party organisation. Is it any surprise that Labor would put the CFMEU’s construction cartel before the public’s interest in cost-effective infrastructure?

As the Heydon Royal Commission laid bare, these examples are more than a few throwaways. They speak to a diseased culture defined by self-interest, rent seeking and an ingrained hostility to market competition.

It should therefore come as no surprise that the union movement has collectively railed against virtually every attempt in recent history to liberalise Australia’s economy.

The Keating workplace reforms, John Howard’s clean up of Australia’s fractious waterfront and every attempted privatisation of Government assets in the several last decades were fought by the union movement.  Unions have been the loudest voices backing billion dollar subsidies for uncompetitive industries while running fear campaigns about every free trade agreement since the end of the Keating Government.

The Labor-Union nexus is as close as ever: half the Federal Labor caucus has previously held a paid position in a union and 19 of the 26 of the Labor National Executive are current or former union officials. A guaranteed 50 per cent delegate at Labor’s national conference ensure the unions have a veto over ever policy motion.

Over the coming decades, Government’s will be forced to reconcile enormous spending growth, the pressures of an aging population and our chronic infrastructure deficit with the Commonwealth’s ailing budget position. Any Government equal to these challenges will have to make hardheaded decisions that put the public good before the outstretched hands of vested interests.

On this score, the union movement has been a handbrake on reform at nearly every possible turn. Until that changes, do we really want Labor and Bill Shorten at the wheel?

John Slater is the Executive Director of the H.R. Nicholls Society

Posted in 2016 election | 17 Comments

What we have lost

Compare and contrast, all picked up from Andrew Bolt, which includes this quote from Terry McCrann:

Australia is really being asked to vote for an Abbott government or a Rudd+Gillard one. You might ostensibly be voting for Turnbull or Shorten, but you will be getting the policies of their predecessors.

First there is Tony Abbott who would not only have won the election hands down, but would have ended up with a mandate to do many of the tasks that need doing. First the truncated text and then Abbott being interviewed.

Both major parties are promising more spending, more taxes and more debt in this disgraceful election. Fresh from being trashed by Malcolm Turnbull twice in a week, Tony Abbott offers the most guarded criticism:

“This has been an election campaign where a lot of the issues have been touched on without really being developed,” he said. “Obviously there is a huge budget repair job that needs to be done. National security has played almost no part in this campaign, even border security has been just an intermittent visitor to the campaign. So I guess if those really big issues aren’t front and centre, less substantial stuff will be front and centre.”

And then there is this, which I suppose is intended to encourage people to vote for the Libs which just shows how lacking in insight he is.

There really is much to fear whichever way it goes. What is worse, that of the two, Malcolm is not as bright as Bill and is far more to the left.

Posted in 2016 election | 22 Comments

The appeal of Labor’s economic policies explained

jobs why do you need them

Why indeed have a job? Which perhaps explains why many do not.

Posted in 2016 election, Economics and economy | 26 Comments

Who will save us from the experts?

There are two articles paired at Instapundit that really do capture the Brexit moment. The first is It’s Time for the Elites to Rise Up Against the Ignorant Masses which is exactly what the article is about and is offered without the slightest sense of irony or humility. Here is the para that captures it all:

The Republican Party, already rife with science-deniers and economic reality-deniers, has thrown itself into the embrace of a man who fabricates realities that ignorant people like to inhabit.

These are the experts: global warmists and Keynesians! Who would trust such expertise? Reading the comments at Instapundit shows the level of distrust with such people. Here are a couple:

It’s funny how they keep harping on Nigel Farage supposedly lying to the British voters in order to win their votes. The nerve of such people! Why, progressives and neofeudalists would never dare do such a thing!

Ted Kennedy, on the 1965 immigration: “The bill will not flood our cities with immigrants. It will not upset the ethnic mix of our society. It will not relax the standards of admission. It will not cause American workers to lose their jobs.”

Ted Kennedy, on the 1986 amnesty: “This amnesty will give citizenship to only 1.1 to 1.3 million illegal aliens. We will secure the borders henceforth. We will never again bring forward another amnesty bill like this.”

Yet suddenly Leftists are insisting on truth in advertising laws for politicians. If they want to roll back every left-wing lie of the last six decades they can gladly have a redo on Thursday’s vote.

And then there’s this:

Homogeneous societies are happier. They have much higher social trust and a good deal more willingness and less resentment in looking after their have-nots. Multi cultural societies rob people of a true sense of belonging. The lions share of what is good in life has nothing to do with money and economics. A nation is more than just a souless shopping mall packed with culturally atomized individuals. The elites are indifferent to the cultural destruction they have wrought in their blindered pursuit of a few more pieces of silver and a lot more centralized control. Globalization is a disaster of epic proportions. It can only end in tyranny.

All right. One more:

I *do* believe in reason, expertise, and the lessons of history. However, the “elite” are more wedded to their delusions and power than any of the above. Fer crissake, the people who claim to be “believers” in evolution are now pushing the idea that “male” and “female” are entirely learned! Their learning the “lessons of history” is to ignore the lesson of WWII — when lunatics promise to kill you *BELIEVE THEM*!

And expertise? At what? Fraud, extortion, ginning up hatred? Keeping their hands clean of the violence they incite? At laundering money for their elections through an “education” system that leaves those most in need of an education barely literate and trained to hate?

OK. Another, they’re so addictive.

“Science deniers”? Which party thinks “male” and “female” are learned traits and surgically alterable? Which clings to a prediction of ever-rising temperatures despite more than a decade of no change? Which clings to a demonization of CO2 when there simply isn’t any more energy CO2 can “trap”?

There is expertise in how to fix a broken sewer pipe. There is similarly expertise in how to take out an appendix. But expert opinion on social, political and economic issues? I’m afraid that wherever self-interest plays a hand in the decisions of experts, their reliability is not to be trusted. Which is why a democratic process, where the rulers must seek the endorsement of the ruled, remains the only way a modern society should be run.

Posted in Philosophy, Politics | 50 Comments

Monty Python meets climate change

Posted in Uncategorized | 21 Comments

Who should you vote for?

As we come into the final turn, the question of whether you can reform the Liberal Party by inflicting a Labor Government on the country still remains live in some quarters. You can see my squaring off with Jim Allan at Quadrant Online over this very question, with Jim taking the affirmative and I saying as bad as Turnbull is, it would be a strategic error to let Labor in even for a single term if you can stop it.

Anyway, there is this survey you can fill in to help you work things out: Who Should I Vote For?. Even though it comes courtesy of The Sydney Morning Herald, on a sample of one, it seemed pretty reasonable as a guide. I ended up to the south-east of the Libs, that is more to the right and more conservative, so seems to have picked my preferences exactly right. It will also remind you of how many issues there are that will be decided over the coming three years, with border protection only one of many.

Posted in 2016 election | 55 Comments

Disciplining the Liberal Party

This morning an op-ed by John Stone in the Australian caught my eye.

Columnist Jennifer Oriel, while never using the term “Del-Con” or making any reference to the debate about it, has suggested that, while Abbott’s betrayal had indeed been shameful, for conservative Liberals to seek “revenge” would be morally unworthy. They should instead follow Abbott’s own fine example and choose “grace” by not registering a protest vote against the conservative party.

Although I usually agree with Oriel’s views, in this instance she has, I believe, missed the point. The motivation of the “Dis-Cons” is not to take revenge (an incidental element of schadenfreude apart) but to deliver a lesson that the Liberal Party will never forget.

That is the justification John Stone is employing for his (complicated) voting strategy at this election.

In particular he has this analogy:

When a child does something seriously wrong, a parent does not chastise it to “take revenge”, but to administer a sharp lesson with a view to affecting its future behaviour for the better. So will it be for us “Dis-Cons” on election day.

Yet when the PM reneges on his promise to repeal 18c, reneges on his promise to balance the budget, reneges on his promise to not introduce any new taxes, why should he remain in office? Tony Abbott has received a very sharp lesson. Joe Hockey too.

Posted in 2016 election | 98 Comments

Election Night Celebrations/Commiserations

I have had several people ask me about the possibility of Cat meet ups on Saturday evening.* I am travelling on the day and cannot attend or organise any meetings but please feel free to use the comments thread to get in touch and make arrangements.

There seems to be particular interest in Canberra.

Posted in 2016 election, Libertarians don't live by argument alone | 26 Comments