Saturday, September 17, 2011

News Items and comments

Am I allowed to admit I’d be sad?

Andrew Bolt – Saturday, September 17, 11 (05:32 pm)

Uh oh. Despite the embarrassment of having recommended one of his books to my wife’s horrified book club, I’ll still say I’m worried:

The controversial French author Michel Houellebecq has gone missing

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Labor heavyweights unload on Gillard and her rival

Andrew Bolt – Saturday, September 17, 11 (04:49 pm)

When the ship is sinking, everyone has advice for the crew.

Here’s Graham Richardson:

Julia Gillard, he says, has ‘’this incredible self-belief [which] is totally unjustified. She listens to no one because she thinks she understands, and she hasn’t got a clue. There are plenty of good people around, if you include the cabinet, but she is not listening to any of them.’’…

And he insists Labor did not underestimate the electorate’s revulsion at the axing of Rudd. There was only a ‘’gross overestimation of Gillard’s ability’’.

Former Premier Peter Beattie meanwhile writes a letter to Kevin Rudd:

DEAR Kevin,

Working Australians and the ALP need you to bury the hatchet with Julia Gillard…

You are talented person with enormous strengths, but, sadly, with a propensity for self-destruction; that’s why you reach your personal best when you are part of a team. The ALP needs your talents to rebuild its vote; a Gillard/ Rudd team would win the next election…

So put aside your disappointment, meet Julia privately and work out a genuine working partnership to put Australia first…

Today I read the leaked stories of Gillard being replaced by you. This has led to more resentment.

If you did make a return to the prime ministership by removing Julia it would be akin to Napoleon’s 100 glory days after his return from exile, when he was defeated at Waterloo by Wellington. Napoleon’s return was short-lived but his exile to St Helena in the South Atlantic was permanent, and he finally died at the hands of a trusted lieutenant through arsenic poisoning. You deserve better than such a sad ending…

Kevin, you are very clever when it comes to manipulating the media…

Many of your colleagues, rightly or wrongly, blame you for the leaks both during last year’s election and more recently. I have given up trying to find the truth; only you know the answer. I would like to believe you are better than that. Your detractors see it as a matter of trust; if you returned to the prime ministership, after a year would it be any better?…

I have seen your political skills; please don’t waste them.

To be honest, Peter, that reads like an offer too easy for Rudd to refuse. In fact, it reads less like an offer than a indictment.

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Anyone else here see Jacques?

Andrew Bolt – Saturday, September 17, 11 (04:21 pm)

Tony Windsor claims:

Jacques Laxalle is one of the most influential people in public policy in this country...

Hands up anyone who has ever heard of the man that looms so large in the overheated consciousness of the man behind Gillard’s throne.

UPDATE

More from the overripe imagination of Tony Windsor, here describing his initial negotiations with Tony Abbott on forming government:

He was offered an election and he refused and instead he begged for the job (of Prime Minister)...

Windsor offered Abbott an election to break the deadlock? If I used bad language I’d say “crap”: From the very moment Windsor realised he shared the balance of power, he’s fought like mad to avoid any early election, as he made clear during last year’s negotiations:

SARAH FERGUSON: Is there a key issue that is for all three of you, at the top of the list?

TONY WINDSOR: Stability.

SARAH FERGUSON: And what does that mean?

TONY WINDSOR: Well it ah, endorsing a government that can actually serve ah, out the majority of its term.

BOB KATTER: Without that we’re all wasting our time sitting here if they’re going to call an election in three months…

ONSCREEN CAPTION: 25 August. Four days since the election.

TONY WINDSOR: I did some radio this morning with Steve Price & Andrew Bolt. I was explaining to them, look this is a pack of cards we’ve been dealt, we’re trying to deal with it. Everybody, just have a sleep for a while. We’ll work through it. We’ve got to lift our sights above whose preferences were who, they’ll all come into play, they’ll all be part of the mix, but the main game is stability.

Windsor strikes me as a man so full of hate for conservatives, and so lacerated by the criticism of his decision to install a clearly incompetent government, that he rewrites history and demonises Abbott.

Another example?

Windsor now:

Windsor insists Abbott’s conduct (during the negotiations) was central to his decision because it exposed “character flaws” in the Liberal leader.

“He started with an expectation” that he’d win. “When that wasn’t working, there was a bit of panic, then begging, and a grab bag of gifts. There was no economic or financial structure,” Windsor said this week.

“The key to his character is the begging. He said to me ‘I’ll do anything, absolutely anything, to get this job’....

“I don’t dislike the guy. I don’t think he’s prime minister material.

Windsor a year ago:

I actually gained a much higher personal regard for [Tony Abbott] during that period of a fortnight

Windsor has the face and voice of a frank, bluff, direct and honest man. But his actual words suggest to me that looks can deceive…

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No, he can’t

Andrew Bolt – Saturday, September 17, 11 (04:17 pm)

In many ways, he’s like the US version of Julia Gillard - a symbol, an over-praised and under-scrutinised media favorite who simply proved not up to the job. And then there’s that cold, lecutirng tone...:

US President Barack Obama’s disapproval rating has hit 50 percent for the first time since he took office, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll.

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Read this while it’s still legal

Andrew Bolt – Saturday, September 17, 11 (12:53 pm)

WHY on earth are we talking about yet more rules to punish journalists and even Tweeters?

When did Australians get so terrified by mere words?

In fact, we’re now so terrified of words that the Gillard Government and the Greens think it’s time to make journalists even more frightened to use them at all.

You’d think we were firing bullets, rather than syllables. And you’d think our readers were too brainless to be safely left with a newspaper without the supervision of a government official.

You see, on Wednesday, Communications Minister Steven Conroy marched before a cluster of Canberra journalists and threatened to wipe the smile off their faces.

“I don’t think any editor and any of you quake in your boots about a complaint to the Press Council,” he declared.

So we’re to have a media inquiry to consider replacing the Press Council, which newspaper owners pay to hear complaints and order corrections.

In its place we may get a fiercer government-appointed regulator, which could police even blogs or Twitter accounts.

Journalist: But you’d also have to define who could be complained about and what the penalties would be once they were complained about? A tweeter, a blogger, a ...

Conroy: Well, as you said. Now you’re canvassing areas that I think will be richly canvassed in the inquiry, and these are the sort of ... these are, the questions is ... you’re asking all the legitimate questions.

What will these people think of next? The Gossip Police?

Well, here’s one thing that Greens leader Bob Brown is already considering for this media inquiry that he first demanded: a witchhunt against the News Ltd newspapers which don’t pay him enough respect.

“Of course, the commissioners will be able to look at the concentration of media ownership which has 70 per cent of the newspapers in the hands of one corporation, that’s the Murdoch empire,” he declared.

Brown is actually wildly wrong here. Murdoch’s News Ltd owns only a third of newspaper titles, including this one, but they’re so popular that around 60 per cent of newspaper buyers prefer them.

This upsets Brown. How dangerous to let impressionable Australians buy so many newspapers that criticise the Greens.

As Brown told the ABC this week, News Ltd papers such as The Australian, which actually has only a modest circulation, were messing with the nation’s mind.

“As far as the Greens are concerned, (News Ltd boss John Hartigan’s) mission in his editorials in The Australian is to destroy the Greens at the ballot box ... It is the hate media ...

“I would be comfortable to see if, for suggestions coming out of a media inquiry, for example, it lifted its standards.”

The Government likewise hates News Ltd newspapers for saying nasty things about its performance, which is why Conroy, in announcing his inquiry, went on about the wickedness of Sydney’s Daily Telegraph.

In fact, when Conroy was asked in the Senate if he could “state unequivocally that the Government ... will never require newspapers to be licensed” he couldn’t bring himself to give a straight “no”.

Licensed newspapers? How delightful to appoint friends to an independent statutory authority and have them pull the ruder papers into line.

It is astonishing - depressing - that such tools of the totalitarian should be even considered in Australia.

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Gillard stops sewing

Andrew Bolt – Saturday, September 17, 11 (10:07 am)

Julia Gillard yesterday:

Friends, this is what I propose to reform and modernise our Party.

And this is what I want discussed at the “open conference” I look forward to this year.

I don’t want to get my own way on every precise detail.

I don’t want everything sewn up by some meeting at midnight the night before.

Reader Sally today:

Wasn’t her rise to the top sewn up by some meeting at midnight???????????????

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Isn’t Bob Brown funny?

Andrew Bolt – Saturday, September 17, 11 (09:51 am)

Gerard Henderson asks a co-writer of the ABC’s At Home With Julia why there is no mockery of the Greens.

The correspondence that follows does not give an answer, other than that they were gunna, but didn’t.

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Mitchell on Manne

Andrew Bolt – Saturday, September 17, 11 (09:36 am)

Australian editor Chris Mitchell responds today to the bizzare attack by Professor Robert Manne, once voted Australia’s “most influential public intellectual”. Do read this excellent analysis of Manne’s undeclared agendas, shoddy grasp of facts, misuse of the Holocaust, predisposition for conspiracy theories and intellectual meanderings.

I once edited Manne’s columns and respected him. Now I know too much about him and his methods.

UPDATE

Gerard Henderson gives a small example that to me captures Manne well:

At the conclusion of his inaugural blog, Robert Manne tentatively suggests that his recently released 40,000 word tract Bad News : Murdoch’s Australia and the Shaping of the Nation (Quarterly Essay, 43) is so good that his critics believe that “the questions raised by the essay can be avoided by pretending that it simply does not exist”.

This particular conspiracy theory lasted until Wednesday – when The Australian published a devastating critique of Bad News by Paul Kelly – with a promise of many more responses to come in tomorrow’s Weekend Australian.

And, no doubt, Manne will now complain about the response he once complained he had not got.

UPDATE

Professor Bunyip weighs in.

(Thanks to reader Bruce at Home.)

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It works for Edelsten, and let the fashion police foam

Andrew Bolt – Saturday, September 17, 11 (09:02 am)

image

BRYNNE Edelsten, Australia’s worst-dressed woman? Who magazine must be joking.

How can Who’s latest rankings be right, when I still recall so well the dress Edelsten almost wore to the Brownlow, two years ago?

And I wouldn’t be alone in remembering how much of her muchness wasn’t covered by that spangled bra.

In fact, Edelsten, wife of flashy medico Geoffrey Edelsten, dressed so perfectly for her purposes that she not only starred in every newspaper, magazine and TV report of the night, but landed a gig with Channel 9 to cover last year’s Brownlow.

She dressed for success, and succeeded.

No wonder she sighed the next day that, “I loved what I was wearing. I felt beautiful”, even as talkback lines throbbed with the rage and scorn of those who insist that if you’ve got it, don’t flaunt it. Not in their censoriously shrivelled faces, anyway.

The next year Edelsten almost pulled off another triumph, when she ripped off the bottom half of her gown before the astonished cameras.

And, again, every man in the room would have checked how much of her grand cleavage was left on display.

Edelsten wanted attention, and got it, yet designer Alex Perry, the Project Runway judge who helped decide Who’s list, seems to think she’d entered another competition.

“Unfortunately, money don’t buy you style,” he sniffed, proving his own money hadn’t bought him grammar.

And sneering over a picture of Edelsten with her husband at last year’s Spring Racing Carnival, he said: “Kermit the frog found his princess—in a Vegas bingo hall.”

How about that? Here’s a trash-talking boor complaining that someone else lacks style. Perry must run the only fashion salon without a single mirror.

Of course, running down Edelsten is a blood sport among the sniffy, skinny and vain.

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Touch base, and they can stay

Andrew Bolt – Saturday, September 17, 11 (08:19 am)

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen points out a flaw in the argument that we should just process boat people here and send back those who aren’t real refugees:

The return of failed asylum seekers can occur only with the agreement of the host country. It is a difficult process that can take place only after an exhaustive process of assessment and appeal, which can take years. In any event, most asylum seekers arriving by boat now come from Iran.

Despite many attempts by Australia, Iran has made it clear it does not and will not accept the return of failed asylum seekers.

Our second largest group of asylum seekers is from Afghanistan. While Australia has successfully negotiated a return agreement with Afghanistan, no unsuccessful asylum seeker has ever returned involuntarily to Afghanistan from Australia, as they continue to use every available appeal mechanism to delay or avoid return.

And of course, there’s the deaths at sea:

Several elderly asylum seekers drowned near Ashmore Reef in (2009), and 12 Sri Lankans died in 2009 in the Indian Ocean when their boat sank before a commercial tanker could rescue it.

These are just the tragedies we know of. There is credible evidence of other boats simply disappearing between Indonesia and Australia

When I noted nearly two years ago that dozens of boat people had already been lured to their deaths under Labor, here was Gillard’s response:

There is no evidence to support this figure.

UPDATE

That’s some blank cheque that Labor is demanding:

GOVERNMENT legislation to revive the Malaysian people swap gives the immigration minister unfettered power to send asylum seekers offshore, without having to guarantee they will have rights and protections.

It would allow people to be sent to countries regardless of what international obligations or domestic law those nations have.

‘’The rules of natural justice do not apply’’ to the minister’s use of this power, according to the legislation.

Getting desperate:

JULIA Gillard last night offered to meet Tony Abbott on Monday to negotiate his support for migration laws.

She won’t get it.

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Dam it: go north and dream

Andrew Bolt – Saturday, September 17, 11 (08:03 am)

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This is the kind of exciting, visionary and nation-building thinking this country badly needs - and which green dreaming has made all but impossible:

THE Coalition is developing an ambitious plan to double Australia’s agricultural production by the middle of the century through a network of new dams in the Top End, which would open up millions of hectares of under-utilised land to food production.

A Coalition policy development taskforce headed by opposition finance spokesman Andrew Robb is eyeing projects across the Top End, including the third stage of the Ord River project in Western Australia and the Daly River in the Northern Territory, and developing dams that have been on the drawing board in far north Queensland on the Gilbert and Flinders rivers…

Queensland’s Liberal National Party, which is on track to win a state election due by next March, is already developing plans to greatly expand cropping and double food production from the state by 2040…

After meetings across every state, Mr Robb said Australia currently produced enough food for 60 million people, but a program to develop a “mosaic” of agricultural opportunities across the north could boost this figure to 120 million in two to three decades. “This is the century of food security,” Mr Robb said.

“The biggest demand is probably likely to come out of the Asian region in terms of growth.

“There really are millions of hectares, which, if you add water, you’ve got dramatically improved productivity and all sorts of agricultural opportunities open up that wouldn’t exist...”

Mr Robb said many dams could be developed by commercial interests and there were opportunities - particularly in Queensland - for hydroelectric projects to be attached to the developments. He said dams had become “persona non grata” during the past 30 years, and he lashed the Greens for opposing dam developments, thereby “knocking the stuffing out of regional communities”.

I remember as a child in Darwin being told that the failed experiment in rice growing in Humpty Doo showed it was a pipe dream to grow crops up the insect-ravaged north, but last year I drove past great plantations of mangos and bananas there.

Yes, a taskforce commissioned by this Labor Government last claimed there was no way to develop the north into a food bowl:

NORTHERN Australia will never become an important food bowl to replace the drought-stricken Murray-Darling, despite massive irrigation plans and a billion litres of rain a year, a Rudd government taskforce has concluded. The expert panel, comprising the Northern Australian Land and Water Taskforce, will today release a landmark report into economic opportunities for the northern parts of Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia that places new and strict limits on the region’s potential for agricultural production.

But that conclusion depended in large part on a study by the warmist CSIRO, consulting its highly suspect global warming models and dismissing the evidence of rain gauges:

Referring to a water study by the CSIRO, the taskforce concludes the growth of agricultural production in the north will be limited, despite rainfall of up to 2m a year in some areas. By 2030, there will be less water available in the north than there was in 2000, the taskforce predicts.

Moreover, the green-stacked panel raised dubious objections about environmental “damage” done by agriculture.

And, most unforgivably, that taskforce did not consider whether dams would give farmers of the north the water security they’d need to turn the Top End into a food bowl because dams were against Labor policy:

The Northern Australia Land and Water Taskforce relied heavily on the work done by the CSIRO’s Northern Australia Sustainable Yields project, whose scientists were told not to worry about investigating dams.

The CSIRO’s Richard Cresswell said: “At the time of the study, all jurisdictions (the West Australian, Queensland and NT governments) had a no-dams policy, and therefore we did not investigate the opportunities for dams in the north.

“We weren’t asked not to investigate them, but we were told it wasn’t necessary to investigate them,” Dr Cresswell said.

The green faith has stopped us from even thinking about growing more food in the north. That anti-intellectual nonsense must be challenged, and we must be free to dream and to grow.

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Fuel-rise Watch

Andrew Bolt – Saturday, September 17, 11 (07:59 am)

Kevin Rudd, 2007:

The Federal Government has announced a national petrol price-watch scheme it hopes will help bring down pump prices.

“Cabinet today has agreed to embrace a national fuel-watch scheme which aims to bring maximum competition policy pressure onto petrol retailers across Australia,” Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said in Sydney.

Three years later:

Fuel prices have jumped more than 16c this week, breaking the $1.50 barrier.

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The Labor way: no mandate, no repeal

Andrew Bolt – Saturday, September 17, 11 (07:37 am)

The Gillard Government is imposing a tax it promised it wouldn’t give us, in a way that makes it almost impossible to remove:

As incoming PM, Abbott ...would need to replace an economy-wide scheme that priced carbon, treated emission permits as a property right, granted tax cuts and transfer payments as compensation and created an elaborate new structure of governance with a Clean Energy Regulator, a Climate Change Authority and a Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

Comparisons with Work Choices are false. Acting on its 2007 mandate, the Rudd government with Gillard as relevant minister replaced Howard’s laws with the Fair Work Act. But dismantling Labor’s clean energy structure is a far more formidable task. It penetrates to issues that will alarm business, face possible rejection in the Senate and could finish in the High Court. Gillard’s purpose is to entrench the new system and create a new status quo.

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No toast to Menzies, after all

Andrew Bolt – Saturday, September 17, 11 (07:27 am)

The martinis are undrunk:

JOHN Howard has deleted from the paperback edition of his book the story that, on his first weekend in The Lodge as prime minister, the Howards invited Robert Menzies’s daughter, Heather Henderson, and her husband, Peter, for celebratory martinis…

In the first edition of his book, on page 34, Mr Howard wrote that on his first weekend in The Lodge, in 1996, he “invited” the Hendersons for a drink.

He said “we mixed and drank martinis in memory and honour of her late father” and this occasion meant that “proper respect had been paid”.

Mrs Henderson was offended by this account. In her letter to Mr Howard, she said: “As I mentioned, Peter was only inside The Lodge once in your time and that was to help the National Trust when it was open to the public.

“It is quite fanciful to describe mixing martinis and talking about my father. I would be grateful if you would delete that whole passage in the next edition. And, for the record, I don’t like and don’t drink martinis.”

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Different government, same stink

Andrew Bolt – Saturday, September 17, 11 (07:23 am)

Different brand of NSW politicians, but already looking the same seedy product:

BARRY O’Farrell has his first big scandal - and his first by-election - with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Police Minister resigning from parliament after admitting he falsified a statuatory declaration to dodge a speeding fine.

In echoes of the Marcus Einfeld case, Steve Cansdell, the Nationals MP for Clarence, has admitted that in 2005 he signed a false statutory declaration saying someone else was driving his car when it was caught speeding.

The form blaming an unnamed “third party” avoided a loss of points, which would have meant Mr Cansdell lost his licence.

The Daily Telegraph understands the person who claimed to have been driving the car was a former electorate officer.

What is it with NSW?

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Cutting off Labor’s poisoned flesh

Andrew Bolt – Saturday, September 17, 11 (07:12 am)

Labor tries to cut itself loose from the rotting body of the Health Services Union - and nobbles a threat at the same time:

THE Health Services Union descended into open warfare yesterday as its largest branch voted to disaffiliate from Labor, a move designed to insulate the party from the alleged corruption surrounding HSU East general secretary Michael Williamson and Labor MP Craig Thomson.

The branch council of HSU East, which covers about 60,000 members in NSW, Victoria and the ACT, took the decision during a heated teleconference meeting, which including a confrontation between Mr Williamson and HSU East executive president Kathy Jackson.

Branch council members loyal to Mr Williamson voted down a series of motions put up by Ms Jackson and her camp, including one that would have commissioned an independent investigation into the finances of the union....

Mr Williamson and Mr Thomson, who was an HSU official from 1999 to 2007, have denied they received credit cards from John Gilleland, the owner of a graphic design company that produces the HSU East newsletter under a contract worth $680,000 per year…

The HSU’s NSW divisional secretary, Gerard Hayes, said after yesterday’s branch council meeting that the move to disaffiliate was aimed at removing “a perceived conflict of interest between the union and the ALP”....

Union and ALP sources said the action had been orchestrated by Mr Williamson, in a bid to distance the scandal and infighting within the HSU from federal Labor....

Mr Williamson is a senior powerbroker in the dominant NSW Right faction, and is a vice-president of the NSW and federal ALP… Another senior NSW Labor source said it was now “likely” Mr Williamson would resign his leadership positions in the party.

Whether intentionally or not, the disaffiliation move will undermine Ms Jackson as a political player. Based in Melbourne, where she is also HSU national secretary, Ms Jackson has commanded the factional power within the Victorian ALP that accrues from the state membership of the HSU, making her a junior powerbroker. Without that, Ms Jackson will be unable to secure support for David Feeney, the HSU-aligned Labor senator who wants to win preselection for a lower house seat.

UPDATE

From Kathy Jackson’s interview last night on Lateline:

ALI MOORE: I’m wondering how disaffiliation can provide greater clarity....

KATHY JACKSON: I think it’s a total red herring. I think they’ve thrown it in thinking that Kathy Jackson will back off, because she won’t be a member of the administrative committee of the Labor Party or any other forum.

I do not seek that, I don’t seek pre-selection; I don’t seek to be on the Labor Party administrative committee..... today I felt like I was in some scene from Married to the Mob. It’s just ridiculous....

ALI MOORE: Kathy Jackson, who’s running the HSU right now? It appears entirely dysfunctional.

KATHY JACKSON: Sorry it appears totally dysfunctional, it is totally dysfunctional at the moment. We have enterprise bargaining campaigns to run, we’ve got grievances to pursue. Yet, here we are having a public brawl over the fact that they won’t allow an independent inquiry to come into the HSU and look at our books. They wouldn’t even allow members - rank and file members - to come and look at the books.

ALI MOORE: I understand it’s gone further than a public brawl - your computer systems have now been affected?

KATHY JACKSON: I understand that late this afternoon the database in the Melbourne office was disabled. No staff member in Victoria has access to the database. I find that totally, totally reprehensible. This is a database run by Mr Williamson, United Edge. United Edge provide computer services to the union.

Yet late this afternoon, the database went down and we have no answers from Sydney. I’m seeking for that database to be re-established. We have work to do....

ALI MOORE: Late tonight Michael Williamson told Lateline he has no idea why the computer database at the HSU office in Victoria isn’t operating properly. He added that the HSU in NSW also experienced a series of technical problems this afternoon and they are being investigated.

(No comments for legal reasons. Thanks to reader Ant.)

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A little more on that stat dec

Andrew Bolt – Saturday, September 17, 11 (05:33 am)

The Australian reports tentatively on the alleged ripoffs committed by a former boyfriend of Julia Gillard, then Australian Workers Union branch secretary Bruce Wilson:

A senior police source said yesterday that a significant investigation had been mounted by the West Australian fraud squad in the mid-1990s. The investigation ended after police received legal advice that it would not be possible to prove criminality.

(Bob) Kernohan (a former AWU branch president who wrote a statutory declaration about the matter) said he had no direct knowledge of wrongdoing by the Prime Minister in relation to the alleged fraudulent conduct of Mr Wilson in the 90s.

He said it was unfortunate if his statutory declaration gave the opposite impression.

“(Former One Nation figure) John Pasquarelli and I met in Castlemaine (in Victoria),” Mr Kernohan said. “He told me: ‘There are people in Canberra who want to meet you’. John typed it up. I was in the room with him. But they were all my words.”

The Weekend Australian has examined thousands of pages of documentation and conducted numerous interviews to test long-standing allegations, referred to in last year’s statutory declaration, that Ms Gillard—as a junior partner at the Melbourne law firm Slater & Gordon—was involved in wrongdoing by her then boyfriend, Mr Wilson.

None of the material examined is capable of supporting the claims that Ms Gillard was a beneficiary of ill-gotten funds or that she knew at the time that Mr Wilson was involved in alleged fraud.

On the material available, the most that could be said is that Ms Gillard and Slater & Gordon provided legal advice to Mr Wilson at the time and that she was unaware he was simultaneously involved in alleged fraud…

Since allegations against her were first made under parliamentary privilege in the 90s, Ms Gillard has repeatedly and strenuously rejected claims that she had done anything wrong.

In 2007 she said she had been “young and naive” when she was in a relationship with Mr Wilson.

AWU heavyweight Bill Ludwig had been grooming Mr Wilson to be one of the union’s leading lights, until he was accused of siphoning off hundreds of thousands of dollars from unknowing construction companies, including Thiess, for his personal use.

Ms Gillard and her boss at the time at Slater & Gordon, Bernard Murphy, who was appointed a Federal Court judge six months ago, were overseeing much of the firm’s legal work for unions including Mr Wilson’s AWU national construction branch.

As with Ms Gillard, there is no suggestion Mr Murphy was involved in any wrongdoing.

I, like others, have asked Gillard specific questions about what legal work she specifically did for Wilson, and about any potential conflict of interest. I have received no direct answer to those questions.

That Pasquarelli helped Kernohan type up his stat dec will excite some, but is irrelevant. Kernohan swears by every word in that document, and Pasquarelli certainly had no role in typing up, say, the affadavit of Ian Cambridge, now with Fair Work Australia.

Once again, I make no claim at all that Gillard did any wrongdoing. None. What is now the main issue for me is that we should be free to report on what precisely happened on a matter of public importance, without fear of political pressure, media inquiries, legal threats, stringpulling and the rest.

(No comments for legal reasons.)

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Stupid in America

by DON BOUDREAUX on SEPTEMBER 16, 2011

in COMPETITION, EDUCATION, WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE COUNTRY

Tomorrow (Saturday) evening at 10:00pm EDT, a new special report by the great John Stossel will be telecast on the Fox News channel. The special, on the state of education in America, is summarized here by Stossel himself.

I’ll be watching (and thanking my stars that my parents – as strapped for wealth as they were – sent me to Catholic schools rather than to the institutions misnamed “public schools” in New Orleans’s suburbs).

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Here’s a letter to the New York Times:

Ridiculing those of us who would rely more on voluntary charitable giving – rather than on forced extractions from taxpayers – to care for people in need, Paul Krugman asserts that “compassion is out of fashion” (“Free to Die,” Sept. 16).

Even granting the dubious assumption that a people are compassionate only if they tax themselves and spend the proceeds through government on good deeds, it doesn’t follow that programs such as Obamacare, Medicare, and Social Security are, in fact, monuments of compassion.

Insofar as such programs are enacted and survive because of political support they receive from their beneficiaries, they are creatures not of compassion but of greed: ‘give me what you’ve got because I want it and I’m willing to vote to ensure that the officials in charge of prisons and the police will use those instruments to take from you what I want for myself.’

Does anyone doubt that at least some of the support for such programs comes, not from generous people wishing to give, but instead from greedy people itching to take?

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux

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Go Ford

by RUSS ROBERTS on SEPTEMBER 16, 2011

in CRONY CAPITALISM

Our family has two Hondas. My first car was a Honda. But I’ve owned a Ford Explorer–it was our first kid car before we got a minivan. I tend to buy Hondas because I like the way they feel and drive and when I try out American cars, particularly GM or Chrysler, they have a boxier less interesting interior and I don’t like the way they drive. That’s just me.

But after the bailouts of GM and Chrysler, I said to myself that I should try a Ford sometime again and I’d never buy a GM or Chrysler product. At least for a long while. It’s not much of a pledge because as I said, I’ve never bought one. So no big deal.

But I was shocked to see the following commercial. It is very rare to see a major American corporation take a pro–real-capitalism and anti-crony-capitalism stand and use it in their marketing. I saw this the first time on TV and it blew me away.As Milton Friedman liked to point out, business leaders tend to be against capitalism. It makes them compete and they sometimes fail. Business prefers being coddled and protected. Anyway, watch the ad if you haven’t seen it.

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Quotation of the Day…

by DON BOUDREAUX on SEPTEMBER 16, 2011

in ECONOMICS, SCIENTISM, STATE OF MACRO

… is from pages 7-8 of James Buchanan‘s essay “Economics and Its Scientific Neighbors” (reprinted as Chapter 1 of Jim’s Moral Science and Moral Order, Vol. 17 of The Collected Works of James M. Buchanan):

Contrast this [the development of game theory] with the Keynesian and post-Keynesian attention on macro-economics and macro-economic models. Does this “theory” provide the economist with an additional set of tools? Does it extend the application of the central principles of the discipline? Unfortunately, the answer must be negative here. Precisely because it has divorced itself from the central proposition relating to human behavior, modern macro-economic theory is really no theory at all. It has evolved, and remains, a set of models for the workings of economic aggregates, models that have little predictive value. Lord Keynes, of course, recognized this, and it was for this reason that he tried to tie his theoretical structure to basic psychological propensities. These propensities, which were designed to replace the more simple neoclassical behavioral propositions, have never fulfilled the role that Keynes must have hoped for them, and the modern model builders seem largely to leave even these out of account.

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Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson reports Ron Paul’s answer to a question about taxpayers’ responsibility for paying for medical care to keep alive a man who irresponsibly refused to buy health insurance for himself:

in Paul’s vision of America, “our neighbors, our friends, our churches” would choose to assume the man’s care – with government bearing no responsibility and playing no role.

Robinson is appalled by Paul, accusing him of being part of an “immoral” movement that would interpret the Constitution’s Preamble to read “We the unconnected individuals who couldn’t care less about one another . . . .”

I don’t get it. Why is Robinson’s call to force Smith to care for Jones an exhibition of compassion, while Paul’s endorsement of arrangements under which Smith voluntarily cares for Jones a display of heartless indifference to the plight of others?

Reasonable people can disagree over whether or not voluntary charity would be sufficient. It’s a mistake, however, to classify coerced ‘giving’ as “compassion,” and downright bizarre to accuse those of us who would rely more upon genuine compassion – evidenced by people giving from the goodness of their hearts rather than from a desire to avoid imprisonment – as endorsing a society without compassion.

….

And a follow-up point: To the extent that government programs such as Medicare and Social Security were enacted, and survive, because the beneficiaries of these programs support them, then even on Eugene Robinson’s own premises they cannot be said to reflect “compassion.” Quite the opposite. To that extent these programs reflect greed: give me what you have because I want it and I’m willing to hire people with jail cells and guns to take from you what I want for myself.

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