Imaginary Australian infrastructure

One has to feel sorry for the Australian taxpayers; they get the worst of both worlds. On the one hand they hand over one of the highest rates of income tax in the world to their governments (Federal and State), but meanwhile they get very little in return for it.

Some recent examples include:

The National Broadband Network – the federal government (of both political hues) has pissed billions into digging up the pavements and roads to install internet cables to the 97% of the population who live in metropolitan areas, rather than letting the free market do its job. The government might have saved the vast majority of the expense by focusing on the 3% of the country living away from the cities and towns. Australians have paid double and have waited twice as long as promised to receive an outcome that is, by the government’s own targets, significantly sub-standard.

The State of Victoria’s non-existent East/West road link – the commercial genius that is Premier Dan Andrews (who’s never had a proper job in his life, completely coincidentally) cancelled the construction contract the previous government had signed, costing the Victorian taxpayers $1.1bn to not receive a much-needed new road.

But, if we think these boondoggles are excessive, wait until you hear about the latest promise to piss away other people’s money…..

If Labor (sic) win next week’s election, they will spend $1bn on a high speed train line between Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

Really? That seems awfully cheap for such a nation-building piece of infrastructure.

Well, if you  don’t read much further than the Sydney Morning Herald’s headline, you might think Australia is about to join the rest of the world with such convenient and efficient transport;

Labor to spend $1b on bullet train route from Melbourne to Brisbane via Sydney

Great. Finally, people will have a better option than shlecking their way to the airport which, in the case of Melbourne, involves a traffic jam of Delhi-esque proportions at most hours of the day or night.

But wait, what is it you’re getting for your $1bn (or about $100 per adult)?

Labor has promised to spend $1 billion buying land between Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane to build a future high-speed rail link.

Oh, right. So $1bn gets you a half a kilometre strip of farmland down the east coast and a diversion inland to Canberra. Oh what a fucking bargain.

Bill’s Opinion

Milton Friedman’s four ways to spend money is yet again proven correct. The easiest thing in the world is to spend someone else’s money on someone else; you don’t give a shit about the cost OR the quality of the outcome.

It’s shocking that, despite being populated by Union members with a barely-concealed authoritarian streak and lawyers fully-versed in the powers of the State, Labor (sic) haven’t spotted that they can simply use existing compulsory purchase legislation to grab this land once they actually have a budgeted rail development approved.

Or perhaps they already know this and simply decided that $1bn of other people’s money is a cheap price to pay for a pre-election headline stating they will build the long-awaited Australian high speed rail network.

My personal opinion is that it makes complete sense to build a high speed railway between the 4 major cities on the east coast of Australia, especially given the fact that so much of the land between these cities is undeveloped. However, experience has shown that developments of such a large scale in Australia are always utter disasters for the public purse and very rarely even deliver the promised outcome despite the tripling (if you’re lucky) of the cost.

Here’s a prediction one can confidently offer; if you’re planning on coming on holiday to Australia in the next fifty years and want to travel between Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney or Brisbane, set your expectations that you’ll be flying or driving. There’s more chance of the Wallabies winning the Bledisloe Cup in that time than ground being broken on the high speed rail link.

“Not gay” like Christopher Pyne or really not gay?

An early contender for the most overblown Twitterstorm of 2019 arrived last week when an Australian cricketer described his housemate as “boyfriend”.

Cue several thousand column inches from anyone who’s ever played sport and/or had sex with a human on how this linguistic ambiguity (and subsequent revision) tells us “where we are as a society”, or somefink similarly important to the human condition.

Former internationals Brett Lee, Shaun Tait and Isa Guha were among those to express their support for Faulkner on social media. Faulkner, however, was also criticised for making light of a serious issue in the gay community.

Quite what the “serious issue” is “in the gay community”, we’re left wondering. Does anyone really believe that, in 2019 Australia, a top level sportsperson would face any significant inhibitors to the progression of their career? 

Let me repeat that in a different way; do you think that a gay soccer player (but I repeat myself), cricketer, rugby or AFL player with the requisite talent to make it to the top level would face any relative slowing of their career?

Even a traditionally “macho” sport like Rugby Union is currently undergoing a disciplinary process against its star player that will deliberately hamstring its chances of a good World Cup performance this year….. because he posted comments on social media that were deemed offensive by homosexuals. 

If there’s a “serious issue“, we’re struggling to see it. 

Blackwell, a World Cup and World T20 winner and current Cricket NSW board member who married her wife in England in 2015, said Faulkner’s post would be in “very poor taste” if made as a “joke to deliberately mislead and make light of same-sex relationships”.

“If the post wasn’t intended as a joke I think it shows how easily a person can mislead by their comments on social media,” Blackwell said.

“The response to this perceived coming out of a male role model in sport was overwhelmingly positive.

….which seems to be a word salad that can be summarised as “I’ve no idea whether he is gay or not but you phoned me and asked for a comment because I am“. 

Bill’s Opinion

Who seriously gives a fuck about who sportsmen and women do or don’t fuck? 

You get paid to hit a small red ball with a piece of wood. And no, that isn’t a euphemism. 

Just shut up and play the dam game;

There’s a breathless hush in the Close to-night—
Ten to make and the match to win—
A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
An hour to play and the last man in.
And it’s not for the sake of a ribboned coat,
Or the selfish hope of a season’s fame,
But his captain’s hand on his shoulder smote
‘Play up! play up! and play the game! ‘

 

Pay the jizya for your dhimmi, Australians

On Thursday, two members of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) found the checkered headscarves used during the exercise were not necessary and would have been recognised by members of the public as keffiyehs, used by Palestinian and Arab communities.

During the exercise, the pretend offenders pointed their index fingers in the air.

The use of the headscarves had the capacity to encourage members of the public to believe that “Palestinians and/or Arabs were to be feared, despised, hated, and/or held in serious contempt as possibly or probably being terrorists“, especially given that it was NSW Police who used them, NCAT found.

Is a headscarf really likely to have that effect?

One of the officers was wearing a skeleton face mask. Do we expect Halloween celebrations to be subdued this year as people shy away in fear from skeleton images after this police exercise?

Unlikely.

But wait, go back and have another look at the screen grab image from the Sydney Morning Herald….

What’s the news item 2 down from the one about the gelding of the police?

Oh, just an Islamist stabbing a passerby. Nothing to see here.

To be balanced, the alleged attacker wasn’t Arabic or from Palestine, he was from Pakistan.

He knew enough Arabic to shout it at random strangers in the street in the months preceding the attack though (note to police; this is what might be called a “lead indicator“. You’re welcome):

And that Parramatta shooting he was so inspired by, what was that all about, who committed that act of terrorism?

A Kurdish Iranian. Let’s keep that balance; neither Kurdish or Persian Iranians are classed as Arabic.

Neither was the perpetrator of the Lindt Café shooting Arabic.

He didn’t have a skeleton face mask either.

These mentally-ill religiously evil idiots do have one common factor though, don’t they? One that Arabs and Palestinians also share. Perhaps it’s asking too much of Australian police to really analyse the cultural wardrobe distinctions between various ethnic groups in the Islamic diaspora when planning a terrorism response training exercise.

After all, it’s not the hurt feelings of those who share the religion of the perpetrators they are training to protect, but the lives of those targeted by the terrorists.

So, precisely how many people actually complained about this police exercise designed to keep us all safe?

Oh, just the one.

The racial vilification complaint was made by Sam Ekermawi, who identified himself as an Australian ethnic Muslim of a Palestinian national origin.

Is he a sensitive soul who is easily offended or is he perhaps trying to modify the definitions of what can or can’t be said or worn in public in a (previously) free country?

Well, he does have “previous” (in the police vernacular) against which we can judge this complaint:

He previously filed a racial vilification complaint against the Today show following comments from Sonia Kruger that she would like to see the immigration of Muslims to Australia “stopped now”. That complaint was dismissed in February.

Bill’s Opinion

This is surely a form of Stockholm Syndrome.

The police governing body, NCAT, has made the conscious decision to sympathise and prioritise the feelings of one man from a protected class over the operational duties of the police.

Someone might want to point out to the Australian police that they have a live hostage emergency incident to deal with; Sam Ekermaw has captured several national institutions and is forcing them to comply with his religious demands on the basis that the general public shouldn’t be afraid of people wearing keffiyehs.

Sure:

A voter exercises his democratic right

…to treat politicians with the utter contempt they deserve.

The problem with legally-compelled voting is the elected politicians can convince themselves they have a mandate.

The additional major problem with the Australian version of compelled voting is that one needs a PhD in Confusopoly to comprehend it. Frankly, you stand more chance of accurately comparing a Telstra mobile phone “dollar” with the Optus version than navigate this form;

(Excuse my handwriting; I am a medical doctor).

Here’s a scanned version for clarity, in case you are voting in New South Wales and wish to become more acquainted with the various policies on offer;

Bill’s Opinion

Changing government every 3 years and Prime Minister (by bloodless coup) every 18 months whilst fining those who choose not to engage in the voting process is not democracy.

Convince me otherwise and maybe you’ll get my vote next time…… Be ready to demonstrate that you’ve achieved something in the real world other than organising a union or working for a law firm, you useless and entitled twats.

When the left eat their own, buy popcorn

Most of what passes for politics in Australia is an utter snorefest, for a few reasons, not least is the very small pool of talent that thinks to itself, “hmm, what my life needs is the public scrutiny of national politics“. Other countries with larger populations enjoy the availability of more intelligent and capable politicians such as, erm, Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn,

The only really interesting moments in Aussie politics are when the tribes find themselves in internecine conflict. The source of such amusement is often a rude interruption of reality at the intersection of two deeply-held positions that are logically inconsistent.

One current example is the case of the proposed Carmichael coal mine, sometimes referred to by its owner, the Adani Group.

Those on the left are faced with a navigational conundrum; find a safe passage between jobs for their blue collar “base” and the all-powerful global religion of climate change.

The tofu-eating effeminates in the gentrified areas of Australia’s cities will be forced to virtue signal by voting Green if Labor show too much support for the mine while the burger-eating bogans in the rural areas set to benefit most from the new jobs will vote for any number of other parties if the support isn’t sincere enough.

The blogger and journalist, Tim Blair, summarises the leader of the opposition’s amusing bind and hilarious procrastination here. Bodes well for a decisive future Prime Minister, doesn’t it?

But then, we shouldn’t be surprised as he has a public track record of avoiding taking a position on anything as this bizarre exchange from a few years ago illustrates:

One of the most powerful forces on the side of the pro-Adani lobby is the unlikely-looking union bully, Sally McManus, a woman who never knowingly let her face register pleasure or delight:

One suspects the word “compromise” is not highlighted in her dictionary. “Frivolity” and “joviality“, also.

Bill is going to be providing those of us with a desire to see the world burn with huge amusement over the next few weeks.

Bill’s Opinion

As people as diverse as Scott Adams and Bill Gates are loudly pointing out, we have a solution to climate change already.

It doesn’t even matter whether you believe climate change is a problem either; there’s enough people in the world who do and are prepared to cripple the economy to combat it. We need to find a way to satisfy their desires whilst not killing the capitalism golden goose responsible for the modern miracles we’ve had in the last two centuries.

The answer is Generation IV nuclear energy.

Great news for Australians; you’ve got domestic deposits of uranium so could be completely self-sufficient in producing all the dirt cheap domestic energetic you’ll ever need.

Bad news for Australians; the only politician talking about it is Clive Palmer, guaranteeing it will remain outside of the mainstream political discussion for the foreseeable future.

International house of fruitcakes

Allona Lahn is standing for the next Australian Federal Election, representing IMOP (involuntary medication objectors Party).

In case you’re a little mentally lethargic today, they’re a group of anti-vaxxers.

Here’s an irony that’s presumably lost on the party of personal freedoms; they are standing for an election where voting is compulsory by law.

Here’s another irony; vaccination isn’t compulsory in Australia, as witnessed by the current outbreak of measles in wanky middle class tofu-eating areas.

The IMOPpers have presumably confused not being able to work in government departments, particularly in the healthcare sector, or not being able to send your kids to public schools unless vaccinated as being compulsory vaccination. They are also upset about the so-called “no jab, no pay” policy, which sounds quite draconian but the “pay” concerned refers to government benefits.

If they’d truly thought the libertarian argument through they would have realised they still have the choice to work elsewhere, to home-school their children and, frankly, if you need to rely on taxpayer largesse to afford to have children, perhaps you should consider the possibility you can’t afford to have children.

What’s also intriguing about the IMOPpers is that they have a “cultural adviser” to provide an Aboriginal perspective on immunisations. Presumably this starts with the words, “thank you, white people, for immunising our people, at least that rules out one potential cause of early death and an infant mortality rate equivalent to a sub-Saharan shithole“?

Bill’s Opinion

At least we can be sure there is still some semblance of free speech remaining in Australia; if you really wanted to cement their commitment to conspiracy theories, you’d try to prevent them from campaigning.

You can do your own research on the correlation and likely conclusions about the potential harmful side-effects of vaccinations versus the clear benefits (do you personally know of anyone who has died of a transmittable disease for which there is a vaccination?).

It’s great that anti-vaxxers exist and have a platform as it indicates we’ve solved all of the other major issues facing humanity. Let’s face it, no-one in a poverty-stricken third world country is refusing to vaccinate their children, most likely because they’ve already learned the hard way by burying several already.

Mad, Max? I was bloody livid

In these days of high fashion and public displays of virtue, it’s not simply satisfying enough to have children and enjoy the experience of raising them ready for their adventures in the world.

The truly woke are listening to the first words these children say and acting upon it as if the wisdom of the ages is channeled through a three year old.

Charlize Theron is the latest of the inhabitants of Clown World to announce she has a transgender child. Apparently, not only does “Jackson” have a surname for a first name (you can take the girl out of Benoni but you can’t take Benoni out of the girl) but he is now a she. This revelation was revealed in conversation with his adopted mother, Theron.

Cosmopolitan gushed over this news;

While talking to the Daily Mail, Charlize said, “Yes, I thought she was a boy too. Until she looked at me when she was 3 years old and said: ‘I am not a boy!’”

One wonders whether Charlize changed any nappies in those first three years or delegated that task to a nanny. Clues would have been available during that time to the person doing the bum wiping.

“So there you go! I have two beautiful daughters [Jackson and August, 3] who, just like any parent, I want to protect and I want to see thrive. They were born who they are and exactly where in the world both of them get to find themselves as they grow up, and who they want to be, is not for me to decide.”

To which the Cosmopolitan article responds:

Honestly, this is such a sweet response from Charlize, and if you’re crying happy tears right now, you’re in good company.

Down is up, up is down when you’re living in the world of clown.

Charlize then went on to say that it’s not her job as a parent to tell her kids how they should identify but to “celebrate them and to love them and to make sure that they have everything they need in order to be what they want to be.”

I have a child who wants an AK47 and an M16 for Christmas. He probably gender identifies as the Vietnam War.

…..people are already praising her on social media

Well, why didn’t you say so earlier? If the geniuses on social media think it’s good, it must be good.

Here’s an idea for a new game; make all key life decisions based on the results of a Twitter poll question. Please do let us know how it goes.

Bill’s Opinion

Don’t let Charlize’s wonderful pulchritude, talent at playing “let’s pretend” in front of cameras and wealth fool you; she has significant unresolved mental issues.

Apparently, men “need to grow a pair and step up” to date her as she’s “shockingly available”.

Hmm, dating the girl whose Mum killed her Dad and has adopted two kids, one of whom she’s decided is transgender?

Krap links, baie dankie.

“Brain the size of a planet”

….and they get me to write about economics. Life? Don’t talk to me about life“.

The scruffy old man in the picture below is the unfortunately-surnamed Ross Gittins, senior economics editor of the Sydney Morning Herald.

Despite what we might prefer to believe, the axiom, “clothes maketh the man” still holds true, even in this era of more relaxed business dress codes, the choice of casual clothes says something about you. Self-respect, or lack thereof, can be inferred from the choice of garments one wears to work-related events.

So what does Ross’ choice of crumpled beige suit, an aged shirt with curled collars, a “comedy” tie (tied too long, Trumpesque) and running shoes say about one of the Sydney Morning Herald’s most senior professionals?

To the best of our knowledge, Ross hasn’t been diagnosed as autistic, isn’t an idiot savant, doesn’t run a major technology company, and hasn’t invented a humanity-changing product.

The fact that he’s drawing a relatively meagre salary for writing about what central banks are likely to do next (let’s face it; that’s all economics journalists do) in a publication whose annual circulation numbers resemble the McGrath share chart, suggests he doesn’t actually have a brain the size of a planet, which is the only real defence of someone so bizarrely costumed.

Bill’s Opinion

Ross can dress however the hell he wants, of course. But we can also draw the conclusion that he’s an anachronistic tramp who’s conflated being disrespectful to his position and those with whom he works for being “quirky”.

If we follow the advice, “dress for the job you want, not the one you have”, we can safely conclude Ross has plans for a semi-retirement working as a creepy geography supply teacher in a small regional town.

BIPoCalypse

(Note to the reader, feel free to skip this and go to “Bill’s Opinion” at the end of the page).

A Sydney craft store has become caught up in a vitriolic online campaign that has seen members of the knitting community labelled as racist by people who say they were ignored in yarn stores and felt uncomfortable at “white-majority knitting groups”.

Claims of bullying, lying and harassment have gone back and forth on social media since the dispute began over the treatment of black, indigenous and people of colour (BIPoC) in the knitting community.

An online campaign about racism in the knitting community has ensnared a Sydney craft store.

Sukrita Mahon, a spinner and weaver from the NSW Central Coast, has played a prominent role in the campaign to highlight and combat racism and prejudice among knitters.

“Sydney, we have a problem,” Ms Mahon wrote in January. “Your knitting spaces are unsafe for bipoc (and probably others). You have shown yourself unwilling to listen, at best.”

Ms Mahon did not respond to the Sun-Herald’s interview requests, but her Instagram account @su.krita refers to “the times I felt uncomfortable in their shop”.

She also refers to a time when the shop’s owner was “racist to me and my brown friend”.

The owner also declined to be interviewed but has expressed distress on social media about the accusations of racism.

Ms Mahon’s Instagram story Racist Knitters lists experiences of racism such as being ignored or followed in a yarn store when other patrons were not, and being mistaken for another person.

Cynthia Mulholland, the president of the Knitters’ Guild NSW, said her organisation welcomed anyone who shared a passion for knitting and crochet.

“I think there is racism everywhere, however it is up to groups like the Knitters Guild to welcome everyone into a comfortable environment,” she said.

Sukrita Mahon is part of an online campaign against racism in the knitting community.

Melbourne-based writer Sophia Cai suggested the dispute began when the owner was asked by members of the BIPoC community to make a statement denouncing racism.

“Their silence and silencing was noted, and they became defensive that they may been (sic) seen in a negative light,” Ms Cai wrote.

Ms Mahon then set up the Sydney is Cancelled online group, with the aim of creating places where BIPoC can meet, “away from the white gaze, without having to justify our existence at every step”.

“Our meetings will not be open to the public,” she explained on the Unfinished Object site.

However, the row turned ugly during a public event at Carriageworks in February organised by Ms Mahon’s craft group.

Ms Mahon said the event was disrupted by the owner of the Sydney craft store, which The Sun-Herald cannot identify for legal reasons, and another knitting designer.

“They spotted me standing away from the group and saw an opportunity to corner me,” Ms Mahon wrote in a blog post. “They demanded that I let them have their say. Through gritted teeth, I explained why I was upset with them, but received no acknowledgement of my feelings.”

Ms Mahon said she was intimidated by their behaviour, which they took “as a personal affront — manipulating the narrative so they appeared to be the victims”.

The confrontation at Carriageworks follows earlier allegations of racism levelled against American hand-dyer and knitter Maria Tusken and knitting designer Karen Templer, whose blog post about an upcoming trip to India prompted intense criticism. The online journal, Quillette, labelled the campaign against Templer a witch hunt.

Other Instagram users weighed into the controversy, including @mia.p.nguyen, who said the craft shop was racist and whose product/service was to marginalise.

The same user posted several other references to the controversy, which prompted @sometimesanislander to comment: “They have shown their racist disgusting selves.”

Several Instagram users, including Ms Mahon, have complained about posts being deleted or users blocked after criticising the shop and its owners.

“These two need to be accountable for everything they’ve done: initial invading of (what was supposed to be) a safe space for BIPoC, the silence on the issue, then the defensiveness, the ignoring, the silencing, the threats of legal action,” @nakkiknits wrote.

Bill’s Opinion

In summary:

Someone with a mental illness is shit-posting on the internet and Andrew Taylor has managed to spin out an entire article about it in a national newspaper.

This is how the decline of Roman Empire started.

“Free speech” isn’t just the speech you agree with, Fitzy

An Australian rugby player has annoyed people on social media by posting evangelical Christian beliefs.

An ex-Australian rugby player, now a columnist, has called for his contract to be suspended until he apologises and, in his words not mine, repents.

Slow news days in Australia tend to be like this.

Peter Fiztsimons has a good point; Israel Falau’s contract with the ARU does have restrictions on his public behaviour and speech. In that regard, by signing the contract he has agreed to further limitations, beyond those already on the law books, to his freedom of speech.

This is a matter between employer and employee.

So far, so boring. We all have a range of views on the topic Folau has posted about on social media, some of us have multiple opinions on the same topic depending on the time of day. That’s not really the point.

What’s fascinating here is the use of the term “repent” and the suggestion that Folau’s behaviour is homophobic. To risk bringing the concept of nuance and subtlety to a nation not previously known for its philosophers and intellectuals, could we suggest that there’s actually no proof that Folau is homophobic?

Sure, he’s stated that homosexuals are on their way to hell, but that’s simply repeating a view endorsed by, among others, the Catholic Church, most Anglican denominations and Islam. So, it’s a view shared wholly or at least partially by almost 5 billion people, i.e. more than half of humanity.

It’s worth noting that he’s never stated that he hates homosexuals or that he believes they are deserving of eternal damnation, just that his understanding of scripture suggests that’s where they’re heading.

Again, a subtle point but we do need to try to pull the conversation back to what was said, not what we think was in the mind of the speaker. None of us are mind-readers.

As for Fitzsimon’s call for Folau to repent, it’s not clear what form this would take for it to be acceptable. An apology for breaking the terms of his contract of employment doesn’t seem like it would satisfy Peter. By the use of the verb, repent, he seems to be suggesting a change of opinion is the only acceptable way to seek forgiveness.

In other words, he needs Folau to stop believing something that he, presumably, holds as true as part of the core teaching of his faith.

Bill’s Opinion

I don’t want to know what sports people’s beliefs are on matters of religious doctrine. I really just don’t give a fuck. I don’t share Israel Folau’s views on this or many other philosophical areas of discourse. I do like the way he can catch a ball, sprint and side-step, however.

I also don’t want the world I live in to be one where bandana-wearing columnists get to call for the termination of someone’s employment for having the wrong faith.

There is much whataboutery we could invoke at this point. For example, we could ask for just a single example where Fitzsimons has defended anyone with an opposing opinion to his to hold that opinion without being hounded off social media, out of their employment or other similar consequences.

The easiest job in the world is to defend someone’s right to believe the same things as you.