Former CEO of Wokepac and reliable content generator for this organ, Brian Hartzer, is on the publicity milk round for his new book, The Leadership Star. He keeps popping up on the Creepbook for Business timeline grinning in selfies with various people at book signings and coffee meetings to tout his wares like a truckstop hooker at 2am.
Occasionally he scores a wider audience such as a guest appearance on a podcast, as he does on this one:
I took the time to listen to this and regular readers may be surprised by my reaction…. I thought Brian came across as extremely knowledgeable about the banking industry.
Less frequent readers might be forgiven for thinking, “well duh, one doesn’t get to be CEO of a major bank if you don’t know banking inside out”.
Somewhere between those two points of view lies a question; if Brian is such a banking industry subject matter expert, how come he made such a custard of running one?
Before we answer that, I do need to comment on a couple of points he made in the interview.
Firstly, he talks about improving customer experience to increase market share. This is a medium-sized elephant in the room; there are four main banks in Australia and a large gap between 4th and 5th place. I can’t find figures on customer attrition rates in Australia, but my assumption is it is low compared to other jurisdictions. He doesn’t go into details in the interview either which, if it were a great factor would be presumably data rich.
My hypothesis is customers don’t move banks much in Australia, which explains why the customer service is so shite.
The second comment I’d like to pick him up on is where he mentions his duty to constantly reduce operating costs. When he took over from Gail Kelly, he chose to not integrate the wholly-owned subsidiary, St George, keeping its duplicate infrastructure, staff, products and premises. Go to any high street in Australia and there will likely be two Westpac branches not far from each other, one with a red logo, the other with a dragon. Cost cutting, me arse.
To be fair to Brian, he does talk about lessons learned. Taking more interest in compliance reports and making individuals explicitly accountable being two very relevant lessons he’s clearly taken on board. He actually sounds quite contrite and, ironically, rather like the theory that the safest time to fly is immediately after a major plane crash, he’d probably make a better bank CEO now.
Brian isn’t stupid, in fact, he obviously got his last job on merit. Yet he still fucked up royally. Why?
My hypotheses is he allowed his focus to drift to the ESG/woke stuff. There are only so many hours in the day and it’s a foolish person who doesn’t concentrate on his or her core objectives for 99% of those waking hours.
Oh well, at least he’s got plenty of time to spend on his hobbies now.
Of course not. There’s no evidence for this at all.
There’s plenty of evidence very few journalists have any useful level of competence at mathematics though (Jess Irvine included).
A classic example presents itself here; a nurse in Queen’sland experienced a DVT (or blood clot) shortly after having her first “jab” of the AZ vaccine.
This was front page news, despite no evidence linking the DVT with the injection.
Sure, there’s no evidence not linking them either, which is presumably the “public interest” reason for the reporting.
The reporting misses some critical questions and answers, of course. It would be setting expectations far too high for us to hope for competent reporting from our media in 2021.
Anyone capable of basic maths, specifically being able to calculate ratios, fractions, or percentages might ask questions such as:
How many DVTs normally occur in a population?
What is the current rate of DVTs in the recently vaccinated cohort?
What is the rate of hospitalisations for dog bites per capita?
The answer to the first question can be found via the USA’s CDC; 0.25%.
The answer to the second question can be calculated from the article; 1.8m jabs delivered in Australia so far and 18 related DVT cases. So 0.001%. If we assume a DVT caused by the jab will occur with a month whereas the CDC figure is annualised, we should multiply that by 30 days, so 0.03%.
The number of dog bite-related hospital referrals can be found here; 0.016%.
We can draw several clear conclusions from this data:
1. Statistically, the AstraZeneca jab protects people from DVTs. Ok, it doesn’t really but if we’re playing Numberwang, we may as well say it does.
2. Statistically, the AstraZeneca jab is twice as dangerous as walking your dog.
In a moment of exquisite irony and demonstrating a profound lack of introspection, Janna Hates discusses critical thinking and freedom of speech. Obviously, she then follows that up by not addressing any of the huge pachyderm-shaped objects in the refectory.
Please bear in mind Jenna teaches journalism, and then wonder about the quality standards we will be subjected to from her students.
The university system in this country is dying. The government used the pandemic to destroy the places for critical conversations; and university management mostly rolled over.
The second sentence both presumes motives, mind reading in other words, and demonstrates a keen grasp of irony when suggesting the Australian academe isn’t an ideological echo chamber.
Mass redundancies, both voluntary and forced across the sector, have left big gaps in teaching staff. In some places that led to decisions to close down subjects, courses, departments. Right now, nearly every university is considering merging faculties.
Which departments are merging, do we think? Physics with Mathematics? Medicine with Engineering? Or maybe Gender Studies with Sociology? Go on, have a guess.
She continues with a complaint over the availability of the government furlough scheme to private but not public universities. Prima facie, that sounds quite damning. Of course, the critical thinkers amongst us might wish to investigate further.
What two hypotheses might we consider based on those facts?
How about, (1) for reasons unknown, publicly funded universities are significantly larger in financial turnover than private universities and (2) they’d all be a lot better off right now if they didn’t rely heavily on overseas students.
Or, to put it another way, Jenna Hates is complaining because your taxes aren’t being used to bail out the educational infrastructure for overseas students.
Let’s go full reductio ad absurdum; Jenna Hates wants the income tax paid by an Australian worker stacking supermarket shelves on the night shift to be used to subsidise the immigration scam education of Chinese kids with rich parents.
The rest of the article follows the usual modus operandi, wandering all over the place accusing “the government” of being negligent at best but most likely mendacious. Don’t waste your time on it unless you’ve really got nothing better to do. Maybe page to the bottom to spot where she can’t resist having a dig at a man who has been accused without proof, by a dead person, of rape and, because of this, should resign.
Let’s return to the original problem. Australian universities are haemorrhaging cash and are having to cut costs to survive.
That’s interesting, isn’t it. Because, as far as one can tell, Australian high schools are still pumping out kids with all the correct qualifications to go on to higher education. The student loan industry is still active and the economy is going gangbusters.
There isn’t a pandemic every year, of course, but even so, a sector which is ostensibly designed to educate a country’s population yet relies on the revenue generated from almost one overseas students for every domestic student was perhaps always built on risky business model.
It’s even worse than that; fees paid by overseas students are often as much as double those paid by domestic students. The first class passengers are subsidising the economy class travellers.
Or, more accurately, they’re not this year. Hence the subject of Jenna Hates’ current cause célèbre.
I’m really sorry anyone lost their job as a result of the governmental response to the virus. However, the reality is some sectors of the economy were already unsustainable before the pandemic.
An education sector which had grown to provide as many places to people from countries with recognised high quality universities as it does for its domestic customers was one such sector.
If it wasn’t the 2020 pandemic that caught it napping, it would have been the next financial crisis or cooling of international diplomacy.
Perhaps a shrunken university sector might serve the Australian student population better as it would have to focus on the quality of the teaching of “hard” subjects with, y’know, actual careers waiting for them once they’ve graduated?
Think critically about that for a moment, Jenna Hates.
Some words are simply SO taboo that even saying them brings catastrophe to the speaker.
In the UK, it’s widely accepted that the NHS is the political “third rail”, i.e. any politician touching it will be electrocuted.
Australia has a different political N word. Let’s see if you can guess which it is before getting to the end of this page.
Some background first.
This week saw the Australia media panjandrums pop on a jaunty little face mask, head to their local airport and fly off to Canberra for the Australian ceremonial version of Changing of the Guard, the Federal Budget.
The first question in many minds might be why? As in, “why, after 2020, is anyone still languishing under the illusion the Federal government has any power or influence?”. But I suppose the chance of a night away from home with the corporate credit card is too tempting for those few souls toiling in the dog days of the news industry.
The ritual regarding the release of the details of the budget to the press is somewhat ridiculous too. The press corps are locked in a room without communications to the outside world to pour over an early glimpse of the details. Ah, if only that room could be of greater capacity and the locks made more permanent…. we can but dream.
What then were the interesting or amusing highlights of this year’s flavour of returning a portion of our taxes to us in a magnanimous grand gesture of altruism?
One which grabbed my attention was the $100m splurge of my taxes into three 10 megawatt power stations. That’s a good thing, I suppose, given the third world power cuts parts of the country experienced in recent years due to the sun and wind being inconveniently unavailable at times when people in South Australia wanted to run their fridge or boil a kettle.
What type of power station can be built these days without the moong dal crunchers becoming upset? Turns out hydrogen is acceptable as it is a zero carbon energy source.
Ring the church bells! We have found a source of “clean energy”, rejoice!
A wander around the various media sources will reinforce the article linked above, explaining to their readers that generating electricity from hydrogen doesn’t emit carbon.
By the way, when did “carbon” become the approved shorthand for “carbon dioxide”? I suppose we shorten amphetamine sulphate to amphetamine or even speed so we have form on this.
Curious minds might ask a question or two about this new wonder fuel, however. For example, where does all the hydrogen come from?
The wiki page answers the question in an unintentionally hilarious way (bold highlighting is mine):
Hydrogen fuel is a zero carbon fuel burned with oxygen. It can be used in fuel cells or internal combustion engines. It has begun to be used in commercial fuel cell vehicles, such as passenger cars, and has been used in fuel cell buses for many years. It is also used as a fuel for spacecraft propulsion.
As of 2018, the majority of hydrogen (∼95%) is produced from fossil fuels by steam reforming or partial oxidation of methane and coal gasification with only a small quantity by alternative routes such as biomass gasification or electrolysis of water or solar thermochemistry, a solar fuel with no carbon emissions.
“Zero carbon” seems a somewhat fluid and forgiving definition, as anyone who proudly drives a coal-powered Tesla will virtue signal to you.
Is it accurate then to summarise hydrogen cell energy generation as “zero carbon when the energy used to extract hydrogen was generated using zero carbon energy but almost all of the time it isn’t”?
To be fair to those pushing hydrogen-based energy projects, there is a clearly a “build it and they will come” desire to see the hydrogen extraction become based on wind and solar. It’s just they haven’t come yet.
Back to the politics of it all, because everything about climate change is politics, after all; are we missing any key pieces of information?
Of course we are. Firstly, let’s remind ourselves who the biggest polluter is by a country mile. China now produces more CO2 than all of the western economies combined. Good luck if you think Australia’s actions could change the global climate either positively or negatively by comparison.
Australia, like most countries, has a national narrative it likes to tell itself. One such example is regarding the events at Gallipoli in the First World War.
If you speak to most Australians about it, you will likely hear a version of the following; Nasty Winston Churchill sent the Australian troops to a certain defeat because they were expendable, unlike the English. Also, an Australian bloke called Simpson bravely carried wounded soldiers on a donkey. It’s all a bit more complicated than that, of course; the English lost about four times as many Anzacs and Simpson was an English deserter, most likely using the donkey as an excuse to keep away from being permanently on the front line.
Just like the Gallipoli story, Australia has told itself a story about nuclear energy, such that it is political suicide to even mention its name.
For decades now, no Australian politician, or indeed political commentator, has seriously mentioned the possibility of using our vast stores of uranium to produce cheap and truly zero carbon electricity.
It’s not even a topic to be named and then dismissed after a brief discussion. It’s as if we’ve put the words “nuclear energy” in a locked box, thrown away the key and buried the box deep in a snake infested cave.
And that’s how we get to a national delusion that our three new hydrogen power plants are, by any stretch of the imagination, “green”.
Do you hate your country? Do you despise it’s history? Do you believe it was founded on dishonest principles by people who were evil? Is this loathing so great that you wish to see our enemies thrive and our country decline?
Ridiculous questions, right?
Most, if not almost every citizen of a first world country would not agree with the sentiments above. Sure, your country has a mixed past, with shameful episodes but, judged against its contemporary peers, most people would suggest the balance is tipped towards a favourable report card.
To sustain that level of self-loathing (or loathing of your country) would require a deliberate effort to ignore the relative positive differences between your day to day life and most other places in the world and, almost as importantly, the relative differences between your life and those of every one of your ancestors.
Walter Duranty was one such exception. He deliberately misled the public (and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for it!) about Stalin’s reign of terror. History should judge critically those useful idiots who are prepared to wilfully ignore mass murder and state-sanctioned famine for the vague promises of a future utopia.
A quote, possibly falsely attributed to Duranty but certainly used by other apologists for the Soviets explains, “In order to make an omelette, you have break a few eggs”. The correct response to which, is of course, that offered by George Orwell and Panait Istrati, “Where’s the omelette?”.
Or, more specifically, “where’s the omelette you made by murdering 100,00,000 humans?”
We examined in the previous post how a supposedly objective finance newspaper in Australia is prepared to publish, without challenge, several hundred words imploring us to change our institutions and way of life, written by sources highly likely to be under the direct control of the Chinese Communist Party.
It gets worse, though. If our problem was just one compromised editorial team on one newspaper, we might not have such a big problem.
The chances are, our universities are riddled with people under direct or indirect influence of the Chinese Communist Party. An obvious Manchurian Candidate would be Professor Golley of the ANU.
The short version of the linked story is she relied heavily on CCP propaganda disguised as independent research to downplay the brutal humanitarian crimes being committed agains the Uighurs. When confronted, she then doubled down on the apologist standpoint.
Let’s pluck some quotes, in her own words, offered as her defence:
“So that’s where I used my academic judgement, I’ve spent my whole life peer-reviewing articles. I read it and thought that there many points that make sense to me.”
Because the article you referenced was so favourable to the CCP it should have made you consider its source and authenticity. “Inquiry” being the keystone of academia, after all.
“I know more about <the Uighur region> Xinjiang than Pompeo, I don’t want to sound cocky but I know more than what 99 per cent of Australians know about Xinjiang.”
Consider the possibility you don’t know more about morality than 99% of Australians, however.
“There are all sorts of fuzzy lines between what constitutes forced and what constitutes choice – what if 30 per cent of Uighers are choosing to work?”
She really said that out aloud.
Professor Golley said she still did not know the authors of the paper but defended their right to submit the paper to her anonymously via proxies saying they would be “persecuted” if exposed.
No alarm bells were harmed in the receipt of this anonymous report.
“When the names come out there will be some Chinese names in the list and people will immediately assume that they’ve been subjected to Beijing’s orders when it might be the case that that’s just how they see the world and then they’ll be persecuted – they’re going to be labelled spies.”
People living in a country with an appalling human rights record tend to be loudly and publicly sympathetic to the regime. This should not be a surprise to someone whose career has been built on detailed knowledge of an authoritarian regime. A curious mind might ask questions, however.
Last year ANU was the victim of a massive data hack, with China considered the culprit.But Golley said she had seen little evidence of any foreign interference at the ANU. “There’s some evidence of it, we don’t know how widespread it is,” she said. “This is another example of needing to be very clear-eyed about the facts.”
Quite right, it was probably Bhutan or Andorra.
She said she had never been paid a single cent by the Chinese Communist Party but that had failed to stem an avalanche of “hate mail” “close to death threats” telling her to “f— off, you communist spy,” and calling her a “shill” for China.
This feels like it could be easily proven by listing the source of all research funding from which she’s benefited, and while we’re at it, the funding for the various international conferences she’s attended. I’ll wait.
“I feel so misjudged, if people knew me, I just want the best for the Uighurs,” she said.
Even those who have benefited from free “family planning services” or the 70% who didn’t choose to work.
She said her motivation for presenting the paper was a concern that academic freedom is being stifled in Australia but she is also concerned that exaggerating China’s human rights abuses could backfire if it emerged they were overstated.
We can all be concerned about academic freedom. Based on the evidence in front of us, she is still able to qualify for research grants and can also have her opinion written in national newspapers, one might conclude Australia isn’t the country stifling free speech. Who can name a country that is? Bueller? Anyone?
She also urged Australians to consider its own genocidal past against Indigenous Australians, saying while it did not justify abuses in Xinjiang it was not “completely irrelevant either”.
Straight out of the CCP playbook. Can anyone guess which we should consider more urgent, a crime committed 200 years ago by people long dead and crimes being committed right now by living humans?
“Sovereignty was never ceded,” she said of the British settlement of Australia as a penal colony in the late 1700s. “I’m revolted that the Australian War Memorial doesn’t have any memorial for the Frontier Wars.”
But is she revolted about the genocide and continuous human rights abuses by the CCP over the last seventy years to the present day? Not so much.
There’s almost no point being shocked or disgusted by the treasonous self-loathing of these people. You won’t change their minds.
Professor Golley hates you. She’s hates the country and system in which you live. She would be the first to denounce you to the secret police if the People’s Liberation Army ever marched into Australia.
She knows she is right and you are too stupid to be anything other than wrong.
Keep paying your taxes, as she needs to spend a few more years researching why Common Law and individual freedoms are not as righteous as the Chinese Communist Party’s rule.
As for her academic freedom, here’s two recent sources suggesting most of our institutions are riddled with CCP influence; Spectator and Washington Examiner.
Finally, there is a special place in hell reserved for those who try to draw moral equivalence across generations. “People who looked like you did something terrible 200 years ago so how dare you criticise an actual living human for doing something terrible in the present”