Saturday, June 22, 2013


I've decided to take bring this blog back from what was meant to be a short holiday to announce that I'm going to be retiring it permanently.

There are a lot of reasons for that. Firstly, I'm writing elsewhere a lot at the moment, including monthly at the Kings Tribune (which you should totally subscribe to, by the way), whenever I have time at AusVotes2013, and monthly for the NSW Law Society Journal.

There is also a major, long-term project I'm investigating taking on, but I'm going to keep quiet about that until I know it is actually going to happen.

All that other writing means that time (and, more importantly, brain space) has been in short supply. This has made writing here a bit of a chore, to be honest, and has meant that the quality of the writing has not been as good as I really want it to be.

It's exciting for me to see how much my writing has improved since I started this blog. Don't go check the old posts, just take my word for it. Some of them were pretty awful. It's been fun getting better at something I enjoyed doing, and I appreciate everyone who has encouraged me or engaged.

I'll still be on twitter, and I'm not going to delete the blog - it can hang out here gathering dust. Thanks for reading, and I hope I'll keep seeing you around the traps.


Friday, May 24, 2013

A Holiday

Just a short post to let you know that this blog is going on a bit of a holiday.

In short, I have some other things going on in my life at the moment (most of all, some major work pressures) that just mean that I lack both the time to write posts but also, even more importantly, the head space to be reading and pondering writing.

Whilst posts usually only take maybe an hour to write, much more thinking and planning goes into them than I can really spare at the moment.

But I should be back within a couple of weeks. I just need to crest this hump, as it were.

I'm still on twitter (more than I should be, probably) so you can catch me there for now.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Hemp in the Road

So are we going to be seeing cannabis for sale in pharmacies soon? Will we be seeing shelves packed with Maxalon, Maltrexone and Marijuana?

I doubt it.

This week the General Purpose Standing Committee Number 4 released a report containing some recommendations that got the media a little hot and bothered.
The first thing to note about the report is that it was a unanimous report. The members of the committee are listed below:
I don't have time go to through the entire report (for the same reason that there aren't as many posts appearing on this blog as I would like at the moment - TIME!) but the main recommendation of the report is:
I'm sure you will forgive me doubting that this government has the courage to do anything as intelligent as that.

NSW has a long history of populist, even stupid Laura Norda policies. Both sides of politics have been guilty of it. I don't know whether it says more about the voters or the politicians, but it's true. I was therefore thoroughly unsurprised when I saw this news appear:
Full story on the ABC website
Further down:
And there you go. A nice report that go everybody a little excited, but no actual enthusiasm for change. It doesn't matter that three Coalition Upper House Members have their name on it - my tip is that the report will be given "thoughtful study" and then promptly disappear without a trace.

How very unlike NSW.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Was it all a Ruse (endaal)?

Well this was predictable.

Many of you will remember the kerfuffle before the last state election about the future of Eric Roozendaal. Many believed that he would retire as soon as he qualified for his life-time pension (mid-2011 - only a few months after the election).

There was even a suggestion that the shambolic sale of the power assets was motivated (at least in part) by Roozendaal's desire to set up a cushy job post-election.

Naturally enough, Keneally faced a lot of questions about whether Roozendaal was going to disappear early. That all lead to this, from Keneally during the leaders debate:
Both those promises have now been broken.

Does anyone care? Probably not. I had a look at the Google News Searches for Roozendaal today - the SMHThe Age and SBS made no mention whatsoever of the promise to stay.

The Australian had this to say, right down the bottom of their piece:
Believe it or now, only the Yahoo7 article gave the issue any prominence at all:
Conclusion? Clearly no one cares. Or, at least, no one in the media.

For my money, it's deeply disappointing that iron-clad guarantees like this are so readily ignored post election. Yes, Roozendaal leaving doesn't really affect any citizen's life directly - but at the election I (and, I suspect, most observers) suspected he intended to leave early.

To give him (and the Labor party) a pass on that promise just encourages similar deception in the future.

I can't sit here at my desk and say Roozendaal lied in 2011. It sure looks like it, but no one except him knows what his true intention was back then. And I don't have the access that would allow me to ask him (or, indeed, John Robertson) for an explanation.

And you can rest assured that, come 2015, no one is going to care, no one is going to write about it, and we will be graced with 1000 new promises that will be eagerly lapped up by both the media and the electorate.

You know what? When we don't care about politicians breaking promises, we send the message that we don't care when they do. It's not good enough.

The internet assures me that HL Mencken said this: "People deserve the government they get, and they deserve to get it good and hard"

Do they ever.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Training for Disaster

There is still not a lot going on in NSW politics - which is probably why this story got so much airtime:
Full story on the ABC website
Indeed, the NSW government was able to act with remarkable speed to change the law and make the cameras legal:
Also from ABC Online
Now, I have feelings about CCTV cameras, but rather than repeat them here I'm just going to link to a piece I wrote for The Drum on that very topic.

The only thing I would add is that simply changing the law to create an exemption to privacy laws makes somewhat of a mockery of the privacy legislation as a whole. Whilst almost no rights can be absolute (given that many rights of yours can come only at the expense of someone else's right), one would have thought that the government would at least pause to reflect on the decision from the Administrative Decisions Tribunal before diving in and just changing the law.


The other incident this week has been another disastrous morning for CityRail. For details, I encourage you to take a look at the always outstanding Transport Sydney that provides, amongst other things, a nifty table of the nature of the disruptions:
The Shadow Transport Minister was, as usual, busy that day reporting on her commute and the associated dramas:
Penny's twitter account is here
Along with John Robertson, there was a press release and even a press conference.

Whilst I've commented before about whether Labor has any right to criticise about the O'Farrell government's performance in the rolling out of new CityRail Infrastructure, these delays are a different issue. On the Transport Sydney blog:
The cuts may not be to blame - but it is clear that insufficient (or, at a minimum, poorly directed) maintenance is. On this issue, Labor's opposition has generally been good, and appropriate.

And yet we have this:
Polls that swung towards O'Farrell in the last few months. Obviously those polls don't take into account this week's train dramas, but there have been plenty dramas up to now, and they don't appear to have made even a bit of difference.

I don't really have an easy solution for Labor - at least not at this stage. But they would want to be finding one - and fast.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A Western push

Australians are pretty hazy on the different levels of government. That's hardly surprising - the responsibilities and powers of the different levels are almost arbitrarily divided up.

Moreover, the Federal Government funds a lot of things that are a State responsibility, meaning that people can hardly be blamed for confusing who is to blame for what.

That is why (ridiculous) leaflets like this work:
It makes no sense at all, in that it shamelessly confuses the State's responsibility for Laura Norda with the Federal Government's responsibility for the country's borders.

The less said about the boat the better.

The confusion is not helped by stories like this appearing in the Daily Terror:
This piece makes exactly the same "error" in that it (some might say deliberately) conflates Federal and State Responsibilities.

There is a great deal more that could be written about how misguided the article is, but you can read it for yourself. The only thing I want to point out is this:
Labor stronghold?
Pic from Wikipedia
That's a Labor stronghold O'Farrell would love some more of, I fancy.

What I wanted to quickly comment on was how O'Farrell may use that confusion for his benefit. There is no doubt that the gun violence in Western Sydney is a potentially damaging issue for him. That is notwithstanding that the outrage is utterly disproportionate, given the marginal increase in one particular metric of crime in a particular area.

Rather than fighting the issue with that truth (which I accept is difficult to do when the Terror has set it's mind against you), O'Farrell (or, at least, the NSW Liberal Party) appears to be settling for muddying the waters.

It's not even really necessary, given the apparent ineffectiveness of the Labor attacks, the reason for which are the subject of another post. But the electorate cares about Federal politics this year, not State - so why not try and deflect the blame towards Canberra.

It's not exactly high-brow, but no one's really going to notice.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Clash of Symbols

Full story here
Hmm. Sounds ominous.
Oh dear. I take it that this will shortly lead to the downfall of the O'Farrell government? NSW politics in crisis. Elekshun nao?

Maybe not.

Fred Nile sits in the Upper House along with fellow Christian Democrat Paul Green. Much like in the Federal Senate, the status of the Upper House has no direct relation to the stability of the government itself. O'Farrell does not have an outright majority in the Upper House with or without the CDP, and he doesn't need one.

He has no (public) written agreement with the two conservative minor parties (the CDP and the Shooters and Fishers). That's not just because he doesn't need one - he promised he wouldn't before the election. As Labor put it in their glossy brochure that I wrote about previously:
Moreover, the Coalition hardly has the CDP votes in the bag. One would expect the CDP to support most O'Farrell bills (both being from the same wing of politics), but one would also expect them to extract their pound of flesh from time to time.

Such is the major party/minor party relationship. Twas ever thus.

Why is it, exactly, that Nile is in such a frenzy? It's this:
See the story here
As I've explained before, it makes no (direct) difference what anyone in the NSW government says or thinks about the gay marriage debate. O'Farrell's position is a purely symbolic one - something he has said for the headline.

That's fine. If journalists are willing to publish a few positive pieces about O'Farrell being in favour of gay marriage, then good luck to him.

Nile's little tantrum is not quite as obvious. For all his flaws, Nile is not an idiot. He knows that O'Farrell's words make no difference to anything. Homosexual people will not be able to marry their partners until Federal Labor supports it outright or until the Federal Coalition makes it (at least) a conscience vote - and neither of those things will happen until it is electorally expedient (if even then).

So why is Nile throwing his toys? Simple.

Can you imagine the calls Nile must have been getting over the last few days? His star is hitched to the Coalition wagon - and I think it is safe to assume that his supporters are absolutely ropeable at O'Farrell. And they are surely letting Nile know about it.

So he has to kick up a bit of a stink. Once the fuss dies down, Nile will continue to support most of the Coalition's legislative agenda, and will continue to demand concessions as and when it suits him.

Two flagrantly symbolic and utterly irrelevant acts. Can you tell the two Houses aren't sitting at the moment?