Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Hopefully Barnaby Joyce will get mate's rates on his new furnishings

These must be stressful times for Barnaby Joyce and his pregnant girlfriend, what with being forced out of their rent-free accommodation and having their income slashed. Only natural if the deposed deputy PM turned to his National Party protege David Littleproud for some furnishing help.
Mr Littleproud is in the rent-to-buy business as reported earlier this week.
Mr Littleproud, a first-term Queensland MP appointed as minister for agriculture and water last year, owns a firm called Mr Rental Southern Downs.
It offers goods on a rent-to-buy basis, which Labor MP Meryl Swanson claimed in parliament on Monday meant a customer could end up paying $8000 for a $1900 laptop computer.
Singalong in the hope that Mr Littleproud will give mate's rates to the man who plucked him from obscurity to become a minister.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

The French moves to end food waste from supermarkets

French Food Waste Law Changing How Grocery Stores Approach Excess Food - NPR
... giving leftover food to charity is no longer just an act of good will. It's a requirement under a 2016 law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food. Stores can be fined $4,500 for each infraction.
giving leftover food to charity is no longer just an act of good will. It's a requirement under a 2016 law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.
Stores can be fined $4,500 for each infraction.
...Parliamentarian Guillaume Garot wrote the law. He believes the fight against food waste should be as important as other national causes, like wearing seatbelts. Garot says he's contacted by people all over the world who want to do the same thing.
"It's changed the supermarkets' practices," he says. "They're more attentive to their environment and they give more."
But most important, says Garot, is that a supermarket is now seen as more than just a profit center. It's a place where there has to be humanity.

Silvio Berlusconi: Italy's eternal comeback king - The Local
Silvio Berlusconi, the billionaire media mogul who dominated Italian politics for nearly two decades, has stepped back into the ring at the age of 81, defying those who dared to believe he had thrown in the towel. Despite sex scandals, serial gaffes and legal woes, the flamboyant tycoon has made an astonishing return from political oblivion to head his centre-right Forza Italia (Go Italy) party, which as part of a rightwing coalition is leading the race for the March 4th vote, according to opinion polls. 
No more 'cheat sheets': Electronic logs for truckers mandatory by 2020 - CBC News
The federal government has announced it will require all commercial truck and bus drivers in Canada to install electronic logging devices in their vehicles by the year 2020. ... Mark Duncan, who runs a regular route between Toronto and the Maritimes, says drivers won't be able to break the rules, meaning they can't be pressured by their employer.
China to scrap term limits for president, paving way for Xi to stay at helm - Japan Times
In a move likely to pave the way for Chinese leader Xi Jinping to stay at the country’s helm beyond his second five-year term, the ruling Communist Party’s Central Committee has proposed to remove term limits for the president and vice president.
In a short release, the state-run Xinhua News Agency said that the Central Committee had proposed to remove from the country’s constitution the expression that the president and vice president “shall serve no more than two consecutive terms.”

The UK acts on sexual misconduct by foreign aid charities but Australia's Julie Bishop just went on a London jog

On Tuesday when our Foreign Minister Julie Bishop staged a jog around with her UK counterpart Boris Johnson, back in his Foreign Office they were grappling with the catalogue of abuse and harassment allegations at some of Britain’s biggest aid charities. Penny Mordaunt, the International Development Secretary, was setting a weeks-end deadline to submit reports on how they are protecting children and vulnerable people.
Ms Mordaunt revealed she had set the deadline for almost 200 UK charities to disclose any safeguarding issues after aid charities admitted to a string of sexual misconduct claims. 
“Given the concerns about the wider sector this case has raised, I have written to every UK charity working overseas that receives UK aid – 192 organisations – insisting that they spell out the steps they are taking to ensure their safeguarding policies are fully in place and confirm they have referred all concerns they have about specific cases and individuals to the relevant authorities, including prosecuting authorities,” she said.
“I have set a deadline of February 26 for all UK charities working overseas to give us the assurances that we have asked for and to raise any concerns with the relevant authorities.”
Given that this scandal about sexual misconduct was receiving extensive coverage while minister Bishop was in London, the Owl is surprised that Australia has not followed Ms Mordaunt's example.

Labor in front in another opinion poll for those who like looking at irrelevant data

Out this morning:

Barnaby Joyce's bacon roll

Journalist Linda Simalis, writing in the Murdoch Sundays, brings us this riveting piece of news:

Saturday, 24 February 2018

A couple of Adani updates and other news and views

Adani May Sell Stake in Carmichael Coal Mine Amid Funding Delay - Bloomberg
The battle to build one of the world’s biggest coal mines has suffered a fresh setback after Adani Enterprises Ltd. conceded it would fail to meet a March deadline to arrange A$3 billion ($2.3 billion) in financing for the project. The December decision by the Queensland government to veto Adani’s A$900 million funding bid for a rail line meant financing would require more time to be secured, an Adani Australia spokeswoman said by phone Thursday. The Indian conglomerate said it will also consider selling a minority stake in its Carmichael project without providing further details.
Adani abandons funding deadline for his Australian mine - National Herald (India)
While the Adani Group struggles for funds for its Australian mine, the Indian company committed an investment of ₹35,000 crore (approx $5 billion) in various projects in Uttar Pradesh
Watch Out, Airlines. High Speed Rail Now Rivals Flying on Key Routes - Bloomberg
In Asia and Europe, super-fast locomotives are comparable to air travel in price and door-to-door speed.
Did Oxfam donors know they were funding a lefty think tank? - The Spectator
But if the result of the Oxfam scandal is to divert cash from big, smug, mismanaged multinational charities to smaller local projects that are easier to scrutinise and whose social impacts are more easily measured, then so much the better.
Why Vienna remains a renter’s paradise - Financial Times
Roughly 80 per cent of Viennese are renters — with more than half the city’s residents living in government-owned social housing
New housing is still needed — though the city is at risk of losing its Unesco status over planned 66-metre tower
As Washington Gears Up To Tackle Foreign Influence, How Effective Can It Be?
Following last Friday's indictment against 13 Russians and three Russian entities that charged them with the social media agitation aspect of the Russian interference campaign, leaders in Washington, D.C., say they want even broader preparations to defend against cyber-chaos.
The Return of the Irish Question - Project Syndicate
Over the last 20 years, the UK and Ireland have reaped the fruits of a mutually respectful and peaceful relationship. But, with Northern Ireland's power-sharing government having broken down, and Brexit raising questions about a potential hard border between the UK and Ireland, the historic Good Friday Agreement may be at risk.

A Batman poll the betting people have ignored

Wilted Greens? Labor edges ahead in Batman voter poll was the Melbourne Age headline.
Labor would have won the Batman byelection if it had been held this week, delivering union leader Ged Kearney to Canberra and denying Greens candidate Alex Bhathal for a sixth time, a poll has found.
In a phone poll this week of about 700 voters in the Batman electorate, Labor led the Greens 53 points to 47 in a two-party preferred contest.

And over in the world of punters and bookmakers they have taken virtually no notice.
The Greens remain the firm favourites, paying $1.23 for a dollar in one place and $1.20 in another. That puts the percentage chances at Greens 70% to Labor at 30%.
The pollster and the market clearly disagree.
The Owl's opinion? He does not have the faintest, foggiest clue but thinks it makes no real difference either way to the way the country is governed.

Singalong as Larry Anthony proprietor of SAS Lobbyists farewells Barnaby Joyce

The National Party was in good hands as it handled the Barnaby Joyce replacement problem. Its president Larry Anthony is a key member of the SAS consulting group which advertises crisis management as one of its key skills.
Not that you would know that if you looked at the Australian Government Lobbyists register.

See also

With friends like these - the straw that broke the back of Barnaby

Friday, 23 February 2018

With friends like these - the straw that broke the back of Barnaby

It was five little words from Barnaby Joyce's supposed friend David Littleproud that proved the kiss of death. "Put up or shut up" said the National Party new boy when commenting on another round of rumours about his party leader.
And over in West Australia a woman reacted to the taunt. As the Owl understands it, the party member and pal of WA National leader Mia Davies who had remained silent for several years came forward with what she said were details of sexual harassment. Ms Davies was moved to forward the complaint to the federal party president Larry Anthony and for good measure sent Barnaby a message saying he had lost the support of her branch.
This expansion of the story in to the #MeToo mainstream was too much for a majority of the 20 National Party caucus members in Canberra. They determined that the time for Barnaby's retirement as Deputy Prime Minister had come.
And so this afternoon it came to pass.
Now David Littleproud, a first-term MP who enjoyed a meteoric rise in the Turnbull government, being appointed agriculture minister at Joyce's insistence back in December, is even being talked about as a possible leadership successor.
With friends like him ...
Perhaps we should just singalong with Roy Orbison.

What will a 2pm press conference bring from Barnaby Joyce? Will we be singing along with Roy Orbison?

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Pulling back the curtain on money in medicine and other news and views

Ontario law to require drug firms to disclose payments to doctors’ groups, patient advocates - behind a paywall at the Globe and Mail
Pharmaceutical companies will have to reveal in detail the payments they make to patientadvocacy groups and professional medical societies in Ontario as part of the province’s efforts to pull back the curtain on money in medicine.
The lack of transparency has meant that health charities and non-profits have had no mandatory obligation to reveal which companies are funding them and in what amounts.
Right now, Canadian patient advocacy groups can disclose as much or as little as they like about the donations they receive from drug or device makers. ...
The news that patient groups and doctors’ associations will fall under Ontario’s legislation comes less than two weeks after a U.S. Senate report revealed that five major opioid makers gave more than US$10-million to third-party advocacy groups and physicians affiliated with them over a fiveyear period.
The U.S. patient groups often parroted the industry’s goals, lobbying against prescribing restrictions for the powerful painkillers at the root of the opioid-overdose epidemic, according to the report from Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill.
It's official: antidepressants are not snake oil or a conspiracy – they work - The Guardian
A groundbreaking new study shows antidepressants are effective – we should get on with taking and prescribing them
Twitter bars tactics used by 'bots' to spread false stories - Reuters
Twitter Inc said on Wednesday it would no longer allow people to post identical messages from multiple accounts, cracking down on a tactic that Russian agents and others have allegedly used to make tweets or topics go viral.
Kurds Asking For Help From Syrian Forces To Repel Turkish Attacks In Syrian War - NPR
The Syrian war has taken a new twist as Kurds have asked for help from Syrian forces to repel Turkish attacks. It's an area where the U.S., Iran and Russia are already on the ground backing various sides.
More Than Twice As Many Women Are Running For Congress In 2018 Compared With 2016 - NPR
At latest count, 431 women were running for or were likely to run for the House nationwide — 339 Democrats and 92 Republicans. At this point in 2016, there were fewer than half that: 212. Likewise, 50 women are running for or likely to run for Senate, compared with 25 at this point in 2016. Many have not officially filed for office yet — filing deadlines have not occurred in many states. But thus far, this year is on track to break records.

Kushner is asking people to advocate on his behalf. McMaster is lobbying Mike Pompeo and Dan Coats to support Kelly. But in the end, it’s all up to Trump.
The Return of a Forgotten Killer - Project Syndicate
In the last two centuries, tuberculosis has claimed more lives than any other disease: an unprecedented and unsurpassed death toll of one billion. And, despite a compelling economic and moral case for investing more in controlling the disease, it has quietly resumed its position as the world’s leading infectious killer.

Michelle Grattan reports on the Barnaby Joyce soap opera

Barnaby Joyce wields the tea towel in the government's soap opera

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

As Malcolm Turnbull heads for his time with Trump, which carries its own challenges, he has left behind a very untidy-looking ship of state.

Treasurer Scott Morrison and former prime minister Tony Abbott are trading blows over immigration.

Barnaby Joyce, supposedly on “leave”, is out in the media as part of his fightback against those – including Turnbull – who would like him out of the deputy prime ministership. In an at-home-in-Armidale interview with Fairfax, Joyce has spoken about his unborn son, and former staffer and now partner Vikki Campion has produced details of how much she was paid when she moved offices.

The interview took place in the controversial townhouse that Joyce received rent-free from businessman and friend Greg Maguire – which Joyce rather disparagingly describes as “a bachelor’s pad” (and is looking to leave for security reasons).

Abbott’s interventions don’t carry the weight they used to – he isn’t able to cause as much trouble as he once did. Still, when he steps out it is almost always unhelpful to the government.

In a speech on Tuesday he called for immigration to be cut to 110,000, down from about 190,000, criticising the present rate at a time of “stagnant wages, clogged infrastructure, soaring house prices and, in Melbourne at least, ethnic gangs that are testing the resolve of police”.

Treasurer Scott Morrison went out with the take down on Wednesday.

Morrison said he was immigration minister under Abbott and “the permanent immigration intake we have today is exactly the same as it was when he was prime minister. I don’t recall at any time there was any discussion that that should be lowered”.

The “actual facts” were that “the level of permanent migration to Australia has been the same since about 2011, 2012. There has been no change.”

Morrison declared the Abbott policy would cost the budget about A$4 billion to $5 billion over the next four years. “If you did what Tony Abbott suggests, then you would only reduce the proportion that was skilled migration and you’d have a bigger proportion which was family migration which ultimately gets more dependent on welfare.”

Abbott, who has ready and regular access to radio and TV outlets to amplify his voice, was quickly on 2GB declaring “Scott’s problem is he’s been captured by his department.” In case anyone wasn’t paying attention, “Let me repeat that. That is Scott’s problem – he has been captured by his department.”

Morrison was “echoing the standard Treasury view” but “his view is wrong,” Abbott said. Treasury was always in favour of more migration, but “we cannot let the Treasury’s accounting rules determine what is in our long term and medium term best national interests. I mean, we can’t let the tail wag the dog.”

Turnbull can hope the latest iteration of the immigration debate will be over by the time he returns for next week’s parliament. But he knows the Joyce affair will still be live – and that goes to the heart of his government’s future.

The feeling in the Nationals (though it regularly changes) is that Joyce can hang on to his position for now – IF nothing further comes out during what will be an extremely testing week of parliament, especially Senate estimates.

Ahead of parliament, Joyce is putting his side of the story publicly, turning in particular to Fairfax Media because News Corp has spearheaded the charge against him.

In the interview with him and the pregnant Campion, Joyce tells Fairfax: “I don’t want to say have sympathy for me. I just want people to look clinically at the facts and basically come to the conclusion he is not getting a gold star for his personal life, but he has made a commitment, he is with her, they’re having a child, and in a 2018 world there is nothing terribly much to see there.”

“This should be a very simple story - a bloke whose marriage broke down is in a relationship with another person and they are having a child. Now it seems to have gone into some sort of morality discussion. That’s between me and my God. I can understand how Natalie can be angry, absolutely, but how it’s other people’s business, I don’t know.”

With the circumstances and terms of Campion’s employment an issue in the controversy, Fairfax reported that she showed payslips indicating she was paid about $133,000 a year in Joyce’s office, $138,000 when she was moved to minister Matt Canavan’s office, and $135,000 when employed in the office of then Nationals whip Damian Drum. The speculation had been she was paid up to $190,000.

The couple told Fairfax that Canavan and Drum didn’t know about their relationship when Campion went to work for them; Joyce said he hadn’t breached the ministerial code of conduct.

Pressed on when Turnbull first knew, Joyce said: “He never asked any direct questions and to be honest, if I believed it was private, I wouldn’t have told him either.”

Speaking of his unborn son, Joyce said he was “deeply annoyed … that there is somehow an inference that this child is somehow less worthy than other children, and it’s almost spoken about in the third person.

"I love my daughters. I have four beautiful daughters and I love them to death. And now I will have a son. I don’t pick winners, I’m not gonna love one more than another, but I’m not going to love one less than another either.

"I don’t want our child to grow up as some sort of public display. I have to stop it from the start. It’s a fact we are having a child, it’s a fact it’s a boy, it’s not more or less loved than any of my other children.”

The article reported that the only thing Campion would say on the record was that their son’s middle names would be those of her two brothers, who had given support that had “meant so much”.

The ConversationCampion would not be photographed. Joyce posed with a tea towel. The saga has truly become a soap opera.

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Barnaby Joyce returns to his rightful place on page one of the Sydney Tele and other news and views

Barnaby Joyce reveals he would likely have lied to Malcolm Turnbull over his affair if asked - Sydney Daily Telegraph
AN unapologetic and defiant Barnaby Joyce has declared God will be the only judge of his personal choices, revealing he probably would have lied to Malcolm Turnbull over his affair with a young staffer if the Prime Minister had directly asked.
In the first interview alongside Vikki Campion, the mother of his unborn son, from his rent-free Armidale flat he described as “a bachelor’s pad”, Mr Joyce said he will hold on as Nationals Leader because the “tide will turn” and people will “get bored of it”.
Rather than stay out of the limelight during a week of personal leave, Mr Joyce instead gave an interview to a sympathetic Fairfax reporter, insisting “we didn’t breach the code ... we weren’t partners” when plum government jobs were created for Ms Campion, who is due in April.
A song for Barnaby's son as mum and dad are forced to find a new home and it's all the fault of the media - politicalowl
Gender pay gap: Men still earn more than women at most firms - BBC
The majority of small and medium-sized companies are still paying male employees more than their female colleagues.
Almost three in four firms pay higher wages collectively to men, according to the latest government figures.

The mushrooming corruption scandal plaguing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel took a surprising new turn on Tuesday, with an allegation that one of his closest advisers had sought to bribe a judge into dropping a criminal investigation involving the prime minister’s wife.
At the same time, the Israeli police said they had arrested several of Mr. Netanyahu’s friends and confidants, as well as top executives of Bezeq, the country’s biggest telecommunications company, in a widening inquiry into whether Mr. Netanyahu had traded official favors for favorable news coverage.
The new allegations significantly raise the level of political and legal peril the prime minister faces, suggesting that he or some in his camp could be exposed to charges of obstructing justice.
In order to bring real change, Ramaphosa needs to do three things—all of which are essentially about money.
First, he needs to take prompt and concrete action to prosecute Zuma for corruption as well as each person that assisted Zuma in creating a corrupt state. ...
Second, Ramaphosa needs to revive the ANC as an organization, starting by rooting out corruption by promptly removing and prosecuting corrupt party members. ...
A third, urgent way in which Ramaphosa can bring renewal is by urgently probing the role of neo-capitalism in the perpetuation of severe poverty in South Africa.
Stop the presses - Ranald MacDonald in Pearls and Irritations
Hot news! – the ABC has gone right wing.
On radio programs nationally, on Q & A, the 7.30 Report and the Drum, we are being deluged with the views of Murdoch columnists, the IPA, right-wing pollies and the truly vengeful ABC critics seemingly at any time of day or night.
‘Balance’ for the ABC being so eagerly sought by Pauline Hanson and her One Party through Communications Minister Mitch Fifield has been achieved.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

A song for Barnaby's son as mum and dad are forced to find a new home and it's all the fault of the media

Barnaby Joyce and his pregnant partner Vikki Campion claim they have been hounded out of their rent free apartment, and fear their baby son will be viewed "somehow less worthy than other children".
In an exclusive interview with Fairfax Media in Armidale a fortnight after their relationship was exposed, the couple made a direct appeal to politicians and members of the public: "It's time to move on." ... 
Asked why the pair were leaving, Mr Joyce said the address was now widely known and media intrusion had played a part. He gestured to the front gate, where a local television crew had been waiting that morning.
"Because of that," he said.
The Sydney Morning Herald
So here's a song for the little fella.

Nick Xenophon's irrelevant television ad but he still looks the government maker

The Owl doesn't think that advertisements during an election campaign actually have much influence on the final result. In his experience it is a matter of what will be will be. So he believes all the discussion about the impact that Nick Xenophon's South Australia Best television spot will have is irrelevant. But here it is and you can judge for yourself.

What does seem clear is that SA Best will probably be the deciding factor in which party provides the state's next Premier. There's also a realistic possibility of Nick Xenophon himself ending up with the top job

The Owl has taken the prices of the major corporate bookmakers and converted them into probabilities.

Party of next Premier
Labor 39%
Liberal 31%
SA Best 30%

No. of SA Best seats
11 or More Seats39%
9 or 10 Seats16%
7 or 8 Seats12%
5 or 6 Seats11%
3 or 4 Seats9%
1 or 2 Seats8%
No seats5%

As always, the Owl, as a believer in the wisdom of crowds, is interested in the opinion of his readers. So please have a say below.

Scientist winning half a million ignored by Australian media

The Owl has done his Google search and come up with only one mention in the mainstream media - three lines on the SBS news site on 30 January headlined "Aust researcher wins top science prize" reporting that "the prestigious Japan Prize has gone to an Australian scientist whose research is providing the basis for many new medical treatments."
The Atlanta Journal Constitution gave it a mention but the 50 million yen prize ($A590,000 or so) was not deemed worthy of a mention in an Australian paper apparently. Which is strange really because the newsagency AAP's Medianet carried the official press release.

Singalong for Barnaby Joyce's railway land

The childbearing penalty - Why women earn less than men

Why Do Women Earn Less Than Men? - Mother Jones
Sarah Kliff points today to a new study from Denmark on the gender wage gap. Danes are famously egalitarian, and labor force participation is nearly equal between men and women these days. However, Denmark still has a large gender wage gap—nearly as large as the United States, in fact. Why? Researchers Henrik Kleven, Camille Landais, and Jakob Egholt S√łgaard conclude that it’s almost purely a childbearing penalty:

Children and Gender Inequality: Evidence from Denmark - NBER

ABSTRACT Despite considerable gender convergence over time, substantial gender inequality persists in all countries. Using Danish administrative data from 1980-2013 and an event study approach, we show that most of the remaining gender inequality in earnings is due to children. The arrival of children creates a gender gap in earnings of around 20% in the long run, driven in roughly equal proportions by labor force participation, hours of work, and wage rates. Underlying these “child penalties”, we find clear dynamic impacts on occupation, promotion to manager, sector, and the family friendliness of the firm for women relative to men. Based on a dynamic decomposition framework, we show that the fraction of gender inequality caused by child penalties has increased dramatically over time, from about 40% in 1980 to about 80%in 2013. As a possible explanation for the persistence of child penalties, we show that they are transmitted through generations, from parents to daughters (but not sons), consistent with an influence of childhood environment in the formation of women’s preferences over family and career.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Crikey changes its tune as it leads the way revealing new rumours about Barnaby Joyce.

Back on 7 February, the day Sydney's Daily Telegraph made Barnaby Joyce's infidelity a mainstream media story, Bernard Keane, political editor, Crikey, had this to tell his readers:
I’m Barnaby Joyce’s harshest critic in the press gallery. But this story about him is shameful non-journalism and debases public life. There is zero public interest in Joyce’s personal life, despite the efforts of News Corp columnists like Caroline Overington, and left-wingers on social media, to confect one.
Because a politician has mentioned their family at some point in their career — which they all do — does not magically create a “family values hypocrite” justification for revealing their personal lives. Because some other public figure on your preferred side of politics has suffered the same fate does not justify it happening to a figure you dislike. Joyce has not used taxpayer resources inappropriately; he has not behaved in a way that opened him to the risk of security breaches, there is no allegation of misconduct.
What he does personally with a consenting adult is no concern of ours, let alone a matter for our judgement. Who among us has behaved perfectly in our personal lives? There certainly aren’t many journalists — a profession notoriously antithetical to domestic bliss — who are in a position to pass judgement about anyone, but this is what such a story amounts to.
How times have changed. From the Crikey daily email this afternoon:

Note: The email does not disclose the author of this malicious piece of gossip so surely it would not have been Bernard.

Triple down economics and the Emma Alberici article

Triple down economics and the Emma Alberici article - Pearls and Irritations
The ABC says that their decision to withdraw Emma Alberici’s article was because it represented an opinion for which there is allegedly no evidence. In fact there is plenty of evidence that increasing corporate profits will not lead to any increase in investment or employment and wages if aggregate demand continues to remain weak. Furthermore this evidence has been endorsed by the IMF, the OECD and others. Can the ABC cite anyone or provide evidence to the contrary, other than the ramblings of Scott Morrison and the Business Council?
Michael Keating, AC, a former Head of the Departments of Employment and Industrial Relations (1983 -86), Finance (1986-91), and Prime Minister and Cabinet (1991-96) wrote on 18 January:
Despite the evidence of the last few decades that ‘trickle-down’ economics doesn’t work, big business and its apologists in the media are calling for a company tax cut to stimulate investment. The reality, however, is that increased investment is principally in response to increasing aggregate demand. The required increase in aggregate demand in turn requires less inequality and faster wage growth, not bigger business subsidies. ...
As the Governor of our own Reserve Bank, Philip Lowe (2017) recently commented: ‘The crisis really is in real wage growth’. Pleas for company tax cuts by big business and their media lackeys, on the grounds that the benefits will trickle down, are the height of self-interested hypocrisy. They are not supported by any evidence, not by any authoritative commenters who have explored that evidence.
There's no case for a corporate tax cut when one in five of Australia's top companies don't pay it - ABC
By chief economics correspondent Emma Alberici
Updated February 14, 2018 11:53:51 There is no compelling evidence that giving the country's biggest companies a tax cut sees that money passed on to workers in the form of higher wages.
Treasury modelling relies on theories that belie the reality that's playing out around the world.
“Don’t Feed the Trolls” Is Even Better Advice Than it Used to Be - Mother Jones
Journalists as a group evaluate social media poorly, and we evaluate Twitter especially poorly. Think about how Twitter works. There are a very few influencers who are determined to root out and denounce anything that’s even remotely problematic. They do this mostly via absurdly hostile readings of other tweets or by making connections that most people would never notice. Nonetheless, once that bell is rung, it can’t be unrung—and their followers all rush in to denounce the micro-slight in question. Why do the influencers do this? Because they’re zealots, and that’s what zealots do. And why do they attract mobs who follow them so uncritically? Because those are the kinds of mobs zealots always attract.
No evidence to support APS staff cap, no idea how many contractors fill the void - The Mandarin
Deputy chair of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit Julian Hill has received very little new information out of senior executives from Finance and the Australian Public Service Commission.
This was despite subjecting them to sustained questioning in the opening hearing of the committee’s inquiry into contract reporting on Friday.
The APSC team could not tell him how many labour-hire contractors are working across the APS, and Finance officials could not explain exactly how the staffing cap is a net benefit to public service efficiency.
Campaigners to stop Brexit prepare six-week advertising blitz - Financial Times
Billboard and digital publicity will target voters in Midlands and north
SA 2018 Election Preview - Antony Green ABC

Barnaby Joyce is dug in and defiant writes Michelle Grattan

Fischer calls for quick resolution of Nationals crisis, while Joyce is determined to fight to the death

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Former Nationals deputy prime minister Tim Fischer has added his voice to those pressing for a rapid resolution of the Nationals crisis, as Malcolm Turnbull admits he doesn’t know whether Barnaby Joyce retains his partyroom’s support.

“It has to be resolved quickly,” Fischer told The Conversation. Earlier on Monday another former deputy prime minister, John Anderson, speaking to The Australian, advised Nationals MPs to act swiftly to exercise their responsibility and urged Joyce to think through his situation very carefully.

But the Nationals remained apparently paralysed, with Joyce on leave, dug in and defiant, feedback coming from the party’s grassroots that he should step down as leader, and his support eroding in the officialdom of the party.

Sources in the Joyce camp say there is no way he will step down before Monday’s party meeting.

They say if Michael McCormack – considered favourite to succeed Joyce if he quits or is ousted – wants the job, he will have to challenge in the partyroom and the parliamentary party will have to own the decision it makes.

In face of Monday’s Newspoll, in which 65% said he should stand down, the Joyce sources argue the election is still more than a year away, giving time for the fallout from the current furore to pass.

Nationals federal president Larry Anthony held a phone hook up of party officials late on Monday to take soundings.

McCormack, who is veterans’ affairs minister, on Monday trailed his coat in an awkward Sky interview in which he repeatedly dodged giving backing to Joyce.

Asked multiple times whether Joyce had his support, McCormack avoided answering. “I’m sure that members of the National Party are listening to our constituent,” he said.

“Barnaby Joyce is the leader, there is no spill, there is no vacancy at the moment and certainly Barnaby Joyce will continue to be the leader as long as he gets the support of the National partyroom,” he said. “There is no challenge at the moment.” And there was plenty more of the same.

Finally, a cornered McCormack said: “Of course I support Barnaby Joyce. He is our leader”.

On 3AW, Turnbull was asked whether Joyce was safe as leader. “Are you asking me whether he commands the support of the majority of members of the National Party? … I don’t know. He says he does and others have said he does, but these are all matters in the gift of the National partyroom,” Turnbull said, adding, “a partyroom, I might add, which I have never sought to influence in any way”.

Meanwhile Turnbull is coming under media pressure over precisely what he knew and when about Joyce’s affair with his former staffer, Vikki Campion, his now-pregnant partner.

The timing question has become particularly pertinent since Turnbull’s very personal denunciation of Joyce’s behaviour on Thursday, because the rumours of the affair including the pregnancy had already been rife when Turnbull appeared with Joyce to celebrate the New England byelection win in Tamworth on December 2.

Pressed on when he initially knew about the affair Turnbull repeated that Joyce had “at no time said to me that he was in a sexual relationship with this woman … He never made that admission … to me.”

Turnbull said he couldn’t recall when he first heard a rumour about it.

Asked whether he did not consider asking him, Turnbull was evasive: “I’m not going to go into the private discussions I have had with him, other than to say that at no stage did he say to me that he was having a sexual relationship with this lady”.

Pushed on whether he had been misled, Turnbull said: “I’m not going to go into those discussions”.

Bill Shorten moved to keep all attention on the Coalition by cutting off the government’s attempt to put him in the spotlight because he had not clarified Labor’s position on Turnbull’s ban on ministers having sexual relationships with their staff.

“If we get elected, we’re not going to overturn it,” he said.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop made it clear she was less-than-impressed with the ban, having condemned any such idea when asked a week before Turnbull announced it. She said the change brought the code in line with many workplaces across Australia. Pressed on her attitude, she said: “I will abide by the ministerial code of conduct”.

Newspoll has found that 64% of voters back the ban.

The ConversationVictorian Liberal backbencher Sarah Henderson told Sky the standard should apply in every MP’s office.

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Singalong as The Owl takes you into Monday’s National Party...........could this be the end for Barnyard?

The Owl has written about it before. What if Barnaby Joyce refuses to stand down? When you only have a majority of one, how can you force him ?

Russia isn't the only one meddling in elections and some other news and views for the day

IMF Warns Trump's Tax Overhaul Could Fuel a Global ‘Race to the Bottom’ - Bloomberg
“What we are beginning to see already and what is of concern is the beginning of a race to the bottom, where many other policy makers around the world are saying: ‘Well, if you’re going to cut tax and you’re going to have sweet deals with your corporates, I’m going to do the same thing,”’ Lagarde said.
Women could be the undoing of Donald Trump - The Economist
Many of the cultural clashes the president has engineered work to his advantage. Not this one
Russia Isn’t the Only One Meddling in Elections. We Do It, Too. - New York Times
“If you ask an intelligence officer, did the Russians break the rules or do something bizarre, the answer is no, not at all,” said Steven L. Hall, who retired in 2015 after 30 years at the C.I.A., where he was the chief of Russian operations. The United States “absolutely” has carried out such election influence operations historically, he said, “and I hope we keep doing it.”
Democracy in danger. Or, how to get GetUp. - Pearls and Irritations
Proposed amendments to the Electoral Act if enacted will profoundly constrain or shut down political advocacy that is the lifeblood of a healthy democracy.
Mixed gender teams lure greater investor inflows - Financial Times
Funds managed by mixed gender teams attracted 6 per cent more inflows than those run solely by men or women over the past three years, highlighting the business case for increased diversity in asset management.
Venezuela’s refugee crisis will exceed Syria’s; we must help - Brookings
The economic and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela is perhaps the worst that the hemisphere has seen in modern history: Without enough money to import food or basic medicine, most Venezuelans are going through severe hunger and are dying from preventable diseases.

Monday, 19 February 2018

The "sport" of hunting. Do you recognise this man?

I am told that this fearless baboon killer with his warped sense of humour lives in Canberra.
If you recognise him let him know what you think of his barbarism.
Maybe a sign on a shopping centre fence would be appropriate

How Russians influence other people's politics and other news and views. Will Australia be the next target?

Russia Wanted Trump to Win. And It Wanted to Get Caught. - New York Times
If there were any lingering doubts that Russia’s intervention was aimed at harming Hillary Clinton’s campaign and bolstering Donald Trump’s, an internal directive quoted in the indictment spells it out explicitly: “use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest (except Sanders and Trump — we support them).”
That Russia should have preferred Mr. Trump’s victory to Mrs. Clinton’s is hardly a surprise: The real estate mogul had long been open in his fawning admiration for autocratic leaders generally and Mr. Putin in particular. But in any game of strategy, the best moves are those that accomplish multiple objectives. Friday’s indictment should serve as a reminder that Project Latkha didn’t merely aim to influence the outcome of the election, but also its tone, and Americans’ attitudes toward their own democratic institutions.
As An American Tragedy Unfolds, Russian Agents Sow Discord Online - NPR
As the news broke of a school shooting in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday, hundreds of Twitter accounts believed to be under Russian sway pivoted.
Many had been tweeting about places like Syria and Ukraine — countries where Russia is seeking to strengthen its influence. Suddenly the accounts shifted to hashtags like #guncontrol, #guncontrolnow and #gunreformnow. Tweets mentioning Nikolas Cruz, the name of the shooting suspect, spiked.
For Bret Schafer, an analyst with Hamilton 68, a site tracking Russian influence on Twitter, the pattern is becoming all too familiar. Hamilton 68 follows 600 accounts run by the Russian government, Russian trolls, bots and individuals sympathetic to the Russian point of view. Data collected by the site over the past few months suggests that Russian social media accounts are now regularly seizing on divisive or tragic news to rile up segments of American society.
We need relief from Barnaby Joyce's public, not private, self - Jack Waterford in the Canberra Times
Joyce richly deserves to be thrown out of public life as a terrible party leader, a terrible politician and a person who habitually demonstrates an incapacity for judgment about the public interest – all matters richly on display in this affair.
German Politics Enters Era of Instability - Der Spiegel
Germany's big-tent parties have ensured political stability for decades. But they are rapidly losing power and influence. The Social Democrats are witnessing an open rebellion against party leadership while many conservatives are beginning to doubt Merkel's abilities.
WJC President Lauder condemns Polish PM’s ‘absurd and unconscionable’ claim of Jewish responsibility for Holocaust - J Wire
World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder has strongly condemned Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s “absurd and unconscionable” allegation at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday that Jews could be counted among the perpetrators of the Holocaust, and demanded an immediate retraction and apology from the Polish government.
The Gospel According to Oprah - Wall Street Journal magazine
Whether or not she ever runs for office, Oprah Winfrey is on a mission to make America listen again
Six journalists given life sentences in Turkish court, local media reports - PrssGazette
A court in Istanbul has sentenced six journalists accused of involvement in a 2016 coup attempt to life prison terms, according to Turkey‘s state-run news agency.
Anadolu said those sentenced on Friday include Ahmet Altan, former editor-in-chief of Taraf newspaper, his brother, journalist and academic Mehmet Altan, and prominent journalist Nazli Ilicak.
The journalists were accused of links to US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey blames for the failed coup against President Tayyip Erdogan (pictured) on July 15 2016. Gulen denies the accusation.
The defendants were charged with attempts against Turkey‘s constitution and membership of a terror organisation.
The group were employed by Gulen-linked media organisations but have rejected the charges, denying any involvement in the coup attempt.
Mehmet Altan’s lawyer, Ergin Cinmen, said: “Of course we are going to appeal the verdict. It’s a decision of the century and will need to be taught in law faculties.

 isn’t actually their belief in God

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Singalong with Barnaby while he waits another seven days as his National Party mates “talk to the public” and get feedback before holding a ballot on his future.

There's nothing like speculation about a leadership challenge to drive journalists into a frenzy. I notice this afternoon that our press gallery brethren, like me, have decided to adopt Daily Mail website rules and start quoting each other as sources.

An example from the website of The Australian:
Party members have been using the messaging service WhatsApp to try to oust Mr Joyce on the basis that “disunity is death”, the Daily Telegraph reports.
And again:
On Friday, Nationals MP Andrew Broad said that while Barnaby Joyce had made an error of judgment, his leadership of the Nationals remained safe for now.
“But I’m still waiting to see if there’s been an abuse of power. If I see that and it’s clear, then I’ll be one of the people talking about what should be the action as a result of that,” he told the ABC.
And from the ABC News website:
He may have survived an open mutiny on his leadership last week but Nationals colleague Michael McCormack, who has been touted as a possible replacement, has made it clear a challenge is still on the cards.

Mr McCormack told Fairfax Media that while he did not want to get ahead of himself, his colleagues would use this week to "take a temperature reading and see what their own constituents are saying and make considered decisions based on that".

"Obviously what else transpires — not just in our electorates but obviously on a national front — has to be thought through," he told Fairfax.
All jolly good fun unless you are Barnaby Joyce. For him it's "Seven Lonely Days" but it does make for a wonderful political singalong.

Will Barnaby Joyce sing this song come Monday week?

There's always a risk in voting a man out of his job when your government only has a majority of one. Would the National Party party room on Monday week take the risk of Barnaby Joyce singing this song if the numbers went against him?

An update on the Sydney Tele's great Barnaby Joyce coverage

An update on the Owl's coverage of the way the Sydney Tele has been leading the way on the Barnaby Joyce story.
It's still on page one this morning for the 12th consecutive day.
And here are some of the gems from inside.

Annika Smethurst, National Politics Editor:

EMBATTLED Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce is refusing to step aside despite being called to Sydney yesterday for an emergency summit with the Prime Minister. Malcolm Turnbull emerged from the crisis talks “frustrated that Barnaby still doesn’t get it”, according to senior sources.
A GROUP of National Party MPs secretly discussed a plot on the messaging service WhatsApp to try to oust embattled leader Barnaby Joyce this week.
And the Nati o na l s are still considering a coup, with Veterans Affairs Minister Michael McCormack refusing to rule himself out when asked.

Miranda Devine, columnist:

Suddenly everyone is a libertarian, sneering about “bedroom police”. Even the most prominent proponent of the sanctity of marriage, such as Liberal backbencher Kevin Andrews, couldn’t bring himself to support the PM’s principled stand, instead laughably demanding he cancel his meeting with US President Donald Trump to deal with Joyce.
Well the fact is, the PM had already dealt with Joyce, very effectively.

Piers Akerman, columnist

PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull will have to skip his visit to the US this week if he wants to save the Coalition and his government.
The crisis created by what should have been a private family breakdown in the wake of National Party leader Barnaby Joyce’s affair with staffer Vikki Campion has broadened into all-out civil war.
Joyce’s unfaithfulness to his wife Natalie is not admirable but the virtue-signalling sanctimonious preaching from Turnbull was over-the-top — nauseating, actually — and undoubtedly designed to play to the frenzied feminists who have weaponised the #metoo crusade since it emerged in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal late last year.
That campaign, which sought to expose sexual predators in the workplace, has now morphed into a virulent antimale movement.
Turnbull has pandered, again, to the politics of the softleft as he scrambles to ascend to the moral high ground.

Peta Credlin, Sky News presenter

The Barnaby Joyce imbroglio has moved beyond the matter of the Deputy Prime Minister’s moral character, following an admitted, messy and badly managed affair with a former staffer, to a crisis that’s engulfing the Coalition relationship and threatening the Turnbull government.
Barnaby Joyce might have lit the fire with his personal behaviour in recent months, but it was the Prime Minister who threw petrol on it when he strode out on Thursday and delivered a well-planned rebuke designed to elevate his moral standing at the expense of his deputy. ... Malcolm Turnbull always goes too far. He climbs up too high, he allows his ego to cloud what little political nous he has and when he fears he’s being judged for the failures of others, his glass jaw is evident and his over-reaction has deadly consequences.

Annette Sharp, columnist

... an unrestrained member can destroy decades of hard work.
Case in point, the Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, a man at the mercy of his own rogue manhood who now finds himself clinging to the wreck of his life after blowing up his marriage, his family, his reputation and probably the careers of both he and his girlfriend Vikki Campion and all for love — or love of nookie.
Despite his high office, Joyce is merely the latest Australian titan to be accused of engaging in a sexually inappropriate workplace relationship.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Reader objects to Tony Abbott being called the "winged warrior". The Owl says judge for yourself

This email from a reader has just been received.
The Owl’s description of our Tones as the “winged warrior” [see The joke about a Tony Abbott comeback] is out of order,
Andrew of Adelaide
Look at this introductory episode of he white winged warrior - The most fantastic crimefighter the world has ever known- and judge for yourself.

A sex and politics edition of the politicalowl's news and views.

It's a scandal! Illicit sex, spying, embezzlement, perjury and murder conspiracies — from Profumo to Jeremy Thorpe, why are politicians so very self-destructive? - Daily Mail

Author Theo Barclay collates a series of political resignations in a new book "Fighters and Quitters"
Perhaps the funniest story in this book concerns the plight of Lord Lambton, Minister for the Royal Air Force, who, using the alias ‘Mr Lucas’, visited call girls in Maida Vale in London.
His marriage was disintegrating, not least because his wife, Bindy, after she left hospital having broken both legs go-karting, ‘drove the wrong way down the A1 and veered straight into the path of a lorry’. Nearly every bone was shattered.
In Maida Vale, a tabloid newspaper, tipped off by Lambton’s pimp, concealed tape recorders and cameras in the walls and ‘inside a teddy bear on the bed’. Photographs were passed to the police, who were upset to see Lambton smoking cannabis. Upon being cautioned, Lambton said that ‘the sheer tedium of his ministerial job’ had driven him into the arms of prostitutes.
‘Surely all men visit whores?’ he asked an incredulous Robin Day in a television interview.
Lambton moved to Italy and held spectacular parties where Tony Blair and Kate Moss were among his illustrious guests.

Donald Trump, a Playboy Model, and a System for Concealing Infidelity - The New Yorker
One woman’s account of clandestine meetings, financial transactions, and legal pacts designed to hide an extramarital affair.

Politicians urge ‘buddy system’ in wake of hooker scandal - New York Post
In the wake of a hooker scandal that forced one Utah lawmaker to resign, the state’s politicians are now urging members to use a “buddy system” to prevent being entrapped by a “honeypot.”
“We feel like it’s appropriate at this time to put everybody on alert there may be people with malintent [sic] that are trying to, for money, try to put us in a situation,” Republican Senate President Wayne Niederhauser said in a meeting with reporters and Senate leadership on Friday, referring to call girl Brie Taylor’s claims to the DailyMail that GOP Rep. Jon Stanard paid her for sex twice, Fox 13 in Salt Lake City reported.
The warning from the state’s House of Representatives came after a Republican lawmaker claimed on Friday that a manipulative maneater tried to lure him into a hotel room the night before at the same place where Taylor claimed Stanard met her for sex, the outlet reported.

Australia bans sexual relations between ministers and staff - Financial Times
‘Barnababy’ scandal involving deputy PM prompts change to ministerial code of conduct
Oxfam sets out reforms to ‘stamp out’ staff sexual misconduct - Financial Times
Charity director says Haiti prostitutes scandal ‘will shame us for years’
Why Sex Scandals Persist In The Humanitarian Aid World - NPR

Why Trump's Playboy Playmate sex scandal is just another ho-hum day in his presidency - Los Angeles Times

Trump Administration Sued Over Ending Funding Of Teen Pregnancy Programs - NPR
Several Planned Parenthood chapters and other groups involved in prevention of teen pregnancy are suing the administration for halting funding for their programs.
White House's Kelly tightens security clearance procedures post-scandal - Reuters
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, under pressure to act, strengthened the process for security clearances for President Donald Trump’s aides on Friday in response to a scandal involving a former official accused of domestic abuse by two ex-wives.
Max Mosley threatens to sue papers over orgy story under data laws - The Guardian
Former Formula One boss says references to ‘private party’ breach Data Protection Act
Leave sex ed to the experts, not fear-mongering politicians - The Star
"The sex-ed curriculum should be about facts, not teaching liberal ideology," Tory leadership candidate Doug Ford said recently. Of course the curriculum is about facts. It’s also disappointingly lacking in liberal ideology. Read it and yawn because it is positively unsalacious

The joke about a Tony Abbott comeback

And it is not just Tony Abbott's leading Twitter supporter who is calling for his return.
“It could not be worse. This would never have happened under Tony”
Thus spoke a worried government backbencher to The Owl late last reflecting on the sacking of Tony Abbott as Liberal Prime Minister and the current crisis besetting the coalition.
And he is not the only Liberal thinking the unthinkable - that a man the party got rid of after he spent 30 consecutive Newspolls well behind Labor is the man to lead the resurrection from Malcolm Turnbull's dismal position.
Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never is, but always to be blessed:
The soul, uneasy and confined from home,
Rests and expiates in a life to come
Those Alexander Pope believers in the Coalition must think there now is a far more reflective Tony Abbott - one who fully comprehends the wilderness years of Churchill, Menzies and his confidante John Howard.  The shenanigans and possible death throws of this week’s events undoubtedly are giving the Abbott team a renewed purpose.
And the man himself is trying to show he has learned a new maturity while declaring he would handle that Barnaby Joyce business in a different way.
That Prime Minister Turnbull understands the potential for a challenge is confirmed by the reports this afternoon of him holding a peace meeting with his Deputy Prime Minister. He needs to.
With Labor now strongly odds on to decimate scores of Government back benchers and Ministers at the next election the prospect of the winged warrior Abbott returning to take on the union leader Shorten in the next bout is now back on the agenda.