Archive for May, 2013

Sustainability: The new mark of righteousness

May 30th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Frank Moorhouse delivered a paper in Canberra in 1973 about the Back to the Earth Movement, in which he struggled to make sense of ‘a spectacular revival of rural romanticism’.

As he scanned the pages of Earth Garden and Grass Roots magazines, Moorhouse noticed the frequent recurrence of the word ‘survival’.

‘Some of the utterances of the back- to-the-earth movement make it sound like a premature acting out of the forecasted ecological disaster. Some talk and behave as if the breakdown of the system has occurred. “Very shortly the corner store mightn’t have any milk.”’

With the benefit of hindsight, we know now that Moorhouse had recognized a change in the Zeitgeist. It was the end of the era of progress and start the era of sustainability.

Sustainability expresses the fear that the shop might run out of milk. It is an expression of pessimism – a declaration of limitation, a philosopy of limited ambition – it is the very opposite of the horizon of infinite possibility encapsulated by the idea it replaced – the spirit of progress.

The dogma of sustainability is now so entrenched, that we struggle to imagine a life before it.  Yet the word sustainability is relatively new – it does not appear Hansard’s records of parliamentary debates until 1979:

2013-05-30 07.32.39 am

 

Last year it was mentioned almost 2000 times, a figure boosted somewhat by Julia Gillard’s decision to restructure the ministry in September 2010. Peter Garrett,  whose portfolio was titled Minister for Environment Protection, Heritage and the Arts, was replaced by Tony Burke as Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.

No one would disagree that human endeavour must be sustainable. The free market is a pretty good measure of that. If a resource becomes scarce, prices rise and consumers look for resources in more abundance. To elevate the idea of sustainable into the abstract construct sustainability is to turn it into a statement of morality, an edict underpinned by a narrative of catastrophism.

In the era of progress, mankind had dominion over nature – resources were to be transformed using human ingenuity – man was the intelligent improver of the natural world.

In the era of sustainability, the relationship between mankind and nature has been redefined – man is no longer the improver of the natural world but the intruder and its destroyer.

 

 

Julie Bishop to launch The Lucky Culture in Perth

May 30th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A LUCKY CULTURE-072310The Lucky Culture will be officially launched in Perth on Saturday by The Hon Julie Bishop MP, Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Member for Curtin.
The event will kick off at the Co-op, UWA at 2pm, with 6PR’s Jane Marwick keeping order.
Copies of The Lucky Culture will be available at the ridiculously cheap Special Event Price of $20, which is cheaper than a cup of coffee in Perth these days.  Nick Cater will be available to sign purchased copies.
The Co-op, Guild Village, UWA, Hackett Drive Entry 2, Crawley.
Oh, and as the locals already know, it’s free parking at the Uni on Saturday.

 

Why the Dickens is money the answer?

May 28th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

From today’s The Australian:

NICK CATER 

2013-05-28 05.30.04 amSO the problem with modern education is not, after all, spoiled kids, feckless parents, disengaged teachers or faddish teaching styles. It is not that principals lack autonomy or that the school rules have been replaced with shared expectations of appropriate behaviour. It is not that the response to bad behaviour is no longer punishment but a staged response towards an agreed transition pathway.

The problem with schools is a shortage of money, apparently, just as the teachers’ unions said all along.

Kim Beazley Sr thought that was bunkum in 1958 when he took on the NSW Teachers Federation. “The publications that we receive every month from the teachers are nothing but propaganda about money,” he told parliament. “There is never anything in them that would improve a teacher’s technique, never anything that shows a thinking into the nature of the child.”

To the teachers union, Beazley said, better education would be achieved with “better classrooms, better furniture, more money spent on education, and new projectors”. In the post-war boom years, however, it was clear to Beazley that whatever was preventing children learning stuff, it certainly was not grinding poverty. [CONTINUE READING HERE…]

Geoffrey Blainey on The Lucky Culture

May 22nd, 2013 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

2013-05-22 07.11.03 amHistorian Geoffrey Blainey launched The Lucky Culture in Melbourne last week at an event organised to the IPA. The video has now been posted.

My thanks to Professor Blainey, John Roskam, Tim Wilson and the team at the IPA for organising the event.

How many lawyers does it take to clear an S-bend?

May 21st, 2013 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Kenny (Shane Jacobson) from the 2006 movie

Kenny (Shane Jacobson) from the 2006 movie

A close look at occupations in the 2011 Census data gives a sense of the real divide in contemporary Australia.

As I write in The Lucky Culture, it is not primarily a division over politics, but a cultural dispute between an educated class of technocrats and the rest.

There are many clues in the census to tell us where the insiders are thick on the ground. In The Australian today I call these the chattering zones, enclaves of inner-metropolitan Australia with a high proportion of tertiary-educated professionals.

Like the other descriptions I use in the book, this term will be disputed. But it is clear, as I illustrate in today’s column, that residents of the chattering zones are inclined to think and act differently from their compatriots.

Here is one guide to the chatter zones: the Kenny index. It looks at the proportion of lawyers to plumbers in 149 of the 150 federal constituencies. (Apologies to the seat of Bonner – I’m having trouble finding the data.)

I define the chatter zones as seats where lawyers outnumber plumbers by at least two to one. There are 21 of them.

The primary Green vote in the 2010 election was:

INSIDE THE CHATTER ZONE: 17.7%

OUTSIDE THE CHATTER ZONE: 10.8%

At the 1999 referendum on a republic, the vote fell this way:

INSIDE THE CHATTER ZONE: 55% in favour

OUTSIDE THE CHATTER ZONE: 55% against

At the heart of the chatter zone is Joe Hockey’s seat of North Sydney with 2,182 lawyers and 111 plumbers. Wentworth has more lawyers (3104) but it is offset by a larger number of plumbers (180).

McEwen in Victoria has the most plumbers (1,390) but a ranking according to ratios puts O’Connor in WA slightly ahead.

 

Lawyers outnumber Plumbers in these seats:

Seat Ratio Lawyers to Plumbers Green Primary vote 2010

1

North Sydney, NSW

19.66

15.53

2

Wentworth, NSW

17.24

17.44

3

Sydney, NSW

15.64

23.75

4

Melbourne, Vic

11.15

20.66

5

Higgins, Vic

9.06

17.9

6

Melbourne Ports, Vic

9.06

36.17

7

Kooyong, Vic

8.63

18.48

8

Curtin, WA

6.50

17.72

9

Grayndler, NSW

6.18

25.9

10

Warringah, NSW

5.16

16.34

11

Ryan, Qld

5.15

18.96

12

Brand, WA

4.80

14.74

13

Griffith, Qld

4.60

15.39

14

Adelaide, SA

4.43

13.69

15

Braddon, Tas

3.68

11.96

16

Goldstein, Vic

2.83

16.21

17

Reid, NSW

2.68

11.18

18

Kingsford Smith, NSW

2.52

12.05

19

Fraser, ACT

2.45

19.84

20

Solomon, NT

2.44

13.29

21

Sturt, SA

2.16

10.01

22

Calwell, Vic

1.96

11.86

23

Perth, WA

1.95

16.15

24

Chifley, NSW

1.89

8.43

25

Hume, NSW

1.85

7.65

26

Dunkley, Vic

1.77

11.69

27

Hughes, NSW

1.67

6.29

28

Corangamite, Vic

1.47

11.43

29

Cunningham, NSW

1.45

15.12

30

Stirling, WA

1.39

12.9

31

Hotham, Vic

1.36

10.19

32

Aston, Vic

1.35

9.67

33

Berowra, NSW

1.33

11.39

34

Macquarie, NSW

1.23

14.09

35

Fremantle, WA

1.19

17.65

36

Pearce, WA

1.17

13.24

37

Boothby, SA

1.16

13.24

38

Forrest, WA

1.12

13.48

39

Oxley, Qld

1.12

11.79

40

Mcpherson, Qld

1.11

12.4

 

Plumbers outnumber lawyers in these seats:

 

Seat Ratio Plumbers to lawyers Green Primary vote 2010

41

Tangney, WA

1.01

13.49

42

Menzies, Vic

1.10

10.75

43

Chisholm, Vic

1.12

11.87

44

Hindmarsh, SA

1.13

12.07

45

Lilley, Qld

1.14

12.17

46

Moncrieff, Qld

1.15

11.56

47

Mackellar, NSW

1.22

16.77

48

Mitchell, NSW

1.24

7.6

49

Swan, WA

1.25

11.81

50

Farrer, NSW

1.27

5.88

51

Wills, Vic

1.41

20.6

52

Holt, Vic

1.43

9.15

53

Capricornia, Qld

1.50

5.52

54

Jagajaga, Vic

1.51

14.95

55

Cook, NSW

1.52

7.73

56

Dobell, NSW

1.63

8.61

57

McMahon, NSW

1.73

8.05

58

Leichhardt, Qld

1.77

9.06

59

Fisher, Qld

1.79

15.84

60

Murray, Vic

1.82

6.09

61

Durack, WA

1.83

9.25

62

Corio, Vic

1.83

12.53

63

Fadden, Qld

1.83

9.33

64

Bowman, Qld

1.85

9.97

65

Deakin, Vic

1.86

12.92

66

Mayo, SA

1.86

16.97

67

Werriwa, NSW

1.99

12.7

68

Brisbane, Qld

1.99

21.28

69

Gilmore, NSW

2.01

9.57

70

Makin, SA

2.06

10.09

71

Lyne, NSW

2.06

4.29

72

Isaacs, Vic

2.09

10.93

73

Hasluck, WA

2.11

12.78

74

Eden-Monaro, NSW

2.14

9.72

75

Indi, Vic

2.16

9.45

76

Rankin, Qld

2.18

11.2

77

Petrie, Qld

2.19

9.1

78

Wannon, Vic

2.20

6.03

79

Hinkler, Qld

2.21

5.71

80

Lindsay, NSW

2.25

4.74

81

Banks, NSW

2.39

9.61

82

Kingston, SA

2.41

12.27

83

Barker, SA

2.42

9.13

84

Forde, Qld

2.46

12.22

85

Richmond, NSW

2.47

16.15

86

Robertson, NSW

2.48

8.99

87

Gippsland, Vic

2.48

6.57

88

Bradfield, NSW

2.54

16.34

89

Mallee, Vic

2.54

7.86

90

Throsby, NSW

2.55

11.93

91

Riverina, NSW

2.56

4.5

92

Groom, Qld

2.56

7.3

93

Grey, SA

2.59

7.77

94

Blair, Qld

2.65

11.06

95

New England, NSW

2.74

3.57

96

Wide Bay, Qld

2.78

11

97

Watson, NSW

2.87

9.62

98

Wakefield, SA

2.89

11.3

99

Batman, Vic

2.96

23.48

100

Bruce, Vic

2.97

9.41

101

Bendigo, Vic

3.21

12.29

102

Lalor, Vic

3.21

6.83

103

Maranoa, Qld

3.26

5.15

104

Fairfax, Qld

3.27

18

105

Gorton, Vic

3.28

10.15

106

Charlton, NSW

3.60

8.83

107

Denison, Tas

3.61

18.98

108

Wright, Qld

3.68

11.95

109

Moore, WA

3.68

13.57

110

Hunter, NSW

3.69

8.92

111

Bennelong, NSW

3.69

7.95

112

Kennedy, Qld

3.73

4.49

113

Bass, Tas

3.74

15.58

114

Canberra, ACT

3.81

18.56

115

Cowper, NSW

4.01

9.09

116

Macarthur, NSW

4.06

5.56

117

Paterson, NSW

4.14

5.99

118

Franklin, Tas

4.15

20.87

119

Shortland, NSW

4.22

10.33

120

Dickson, Qld

4.22

10.91

121

Ballarat, Vic

4.26

11.34

122

Lingiari, NT

4.27

12.59

123

Flynn, Qld

4.30

3.96

124

Parkes, NSW

4.39

5.6

125

Canning, WA

4.48

8.29

126

Maribyrnong, Vic

4.59

11.85

127

Longman, Qld

4.70

9.12

128

Cowan, WA

4.71

12.53

129

Page, NSW

4.84

8.58

130

Casey, Vic

4.89

11.52

131

Scullin, Vic

5.08

8.44

132

Calare, NSW

5.09

6

133

Fowler, NSW

5.13

6.69

134

Barton, NSW

5.17

10.85

135

Herbert, Qld

5.17

8.85

136

Greenway, NSW

5.32

6.01

137

Parramatta, NSW

5.45

7.96

138

Dawson, Qld

5.60

7.72

139

Flinders, Vic

6.11

11.5

140

Mcmillan, Vic

6.16

9.72

141

Gellibrand, Vic

6.19

15.35

142

La Trobe, Vic

6.29

12.28

143

Blaxland, NSW

6.34

6.26

144

Mcewen, Vic

6.98

11.84

145

Moreton, Qld

7.12

15.89

146

Newcastle, NSW

7.84

15.47

147

Lyons, Tas

8.36

16.75

148

Port Adelaide, SA

8.66

15.11

149

O’Connor, WA

8.81

8.86

 

 

 

The Lucky Culture at the Sydney Writers’ Festival – selling fast

May 16th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

SWF events are selling fast. Nick Bryant and I will be defying the stereotype of the whinging pom as we discuss The Lucky Culture on Thursday May 23 at 1pm at Wharf Theatre 2, Pier 4/5, Hickson Road, Walsh Bay. Details here.

I’ll be discussing the Australian character with Tim Soutphommasane, Pat Grant and Julia Baird on Saturday May 25 at 5pm. Details here.

The Adelaide Launch of The Lucky Culture

May 13th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

SA Health Minister Jack Snelling gave a considered speech at the Adelaide launch at Parliament House on May 9.

He invites a discussion on the Whiggish view of history:

His analysis is a little Manichean for my liking.  I’m not sure the idealism of the inner-city and the pragmatism of the suburbs and regions are as irreconcilable as Nick makes out.  Reconciliation is possible through strong leadership; leadership that is not merely a mirror for the electorate’s beliefs but is willing to listen, debate and persuade.

I think, as well, that you may have a little too much confidence in the enlightenment. You take too much of a Whiggish view of history, without a Tory awareness of the crooked timber of humanity.  While the 20th Century has seen the greatest advances in human welfare, it has also seen the greatest atrocities of world history.  While much of modernity is to be applauded, one needn’t look far to see some of its destructive effects.

Indeed Jack; it invites further discussion.

H.G. Nelson launches The Lucky Culture in Woy Woy

May 12th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

 

H.G. Nelson launches The Lucky Culture with Nick Cater in Woy Woy on Saturday.

H.G. Nelson launches The Lucky Culture with Nick Cater in Woy Woy on Saturday.

Woy Woy  on the NSW Central Coast hosted launch number four of The Lucky Culture on Saturday with H.G. Nelson at the microphone.

“The good news is there are about 12 more to come,” said Nelson, aka Greig Pickhaver.

“I know Engelbert Humperdinck when he tours in July will be saying a few words. Wayne Swan’s offered to say a few words before the budget speech on Tuesday night. I think Prince Harry will be saying something at the Christening of his nephew.

“And the big news, the breaking news is that Kevin Rudd – that’s right, Kevin Rudd will be launching the book in Brisbane. But he’s holding a bit of dry powder for another tilt at the leadership, because it won’t be until July.”

 

2013-05-12 01.44.56 pm Jack Hoysted, aka Jack the Insider kicked off proceedings at the Sit o’Clock restaurant with a tilt at Lucky Culture critic and ex-New Class theorist Mark “Krazy with a K” Latham.

“Krazy with a K is an inverse barometer,” said Hoysted, aka Jack the Insider. “If Krazy with a K doesn’t like it, Nick has come up trumps. Krazy with a K putting shit on the book is the highest recommendation I can think of.”

2013-05-12 01.47.57 pmHost Bill Leak recalled his “salad day” at university, a short lived foray into the world of academia that ended when he stormed out of a lecture on “disco and post-disco”. “ I wasn’t about to spend the next three years blueing with a clown like this,” said Leak

2013-05-12 01.52.32 pmH.G. reflected on the growing climate of political correctness that is tightening the boundaries of acceptable humour.

“I once persuaded for many years the ABC to run a program called ‘Club Buggery’ which you couldn’t do now.… they would never let you go near that name.”

[Video link to follow.]

 

Peter Coleman in Spectator Australia

May 10th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

From Spectator Australia, May 11, 2013

Peter Coleman writes: 

It didn’t take long. Nick Cater’s The Lucky Culture had barely reached the shops when the Old Guard launched its counter-attack. The always fastidious Bob Ellis was in first in the charge: ‘What a loathsome shallow Murdochist piece of pommy filth cater is entirely.’ Ellis wants the book pulped. Following close behind him was Mark Latham: ‘Cater is part of the narrow intolerant right-wing culture of News Ltd. Make no mistake, The Lucky Culture is a long, carefully structured assault on progressive values and ideas.’ He calls the book ‘shite’.

This former leader of the parliamentary labor party and alternative Prime Minister also issued a warning: ‘Any labor person who has anything to do with the book’s promotion is fouling his own nest.’ Labor MPs Chris Bowen and Daryl Melham naturally ignored Latham and launched the book at the Revesby Workers’ Club.

What can possibly engender this degree of rage and vilification? It can only be that cater has announced the end of the reign of what Latham calls ‘progressive values and ideas’. But the book’s enthusiastic launchers — from John Howard (Sydney) to Geoffrey Blainey (Melbourne) to Christopher Pearson (Adelaide) and not forgetting Bill Leak in Woy Woy — well outnumber the haters. At a champagne party in the Art Gallery of NSW, Howard welcomed Cater’s critique of the ‘exclusively political class’ with no experience of life. He also welcomed the celebration of the book in the Revesby Workers’ club. (‘I grew up in Earlwood. I feel closer to Revesby than to Annandale.’) Bowen said the book is a warning to Labor to stick to the mainstream. Melham said, yes, and let’s conduct the debate with civility and courtesy. The Lucky Culture must be, Cater says, the most launched book in Australian history.

Labor’s Chris Bowen on The Lucky Culture

May 10th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

Former immigration minister Chris Bowen delivered a considered critique of The Lucky Culture in launching the book to a Western Sydney audience on Wednesday evening at Revesby Workers’ Club.

Neither Bowen nor our host, club president and Member for Banks, Daryl Melham, were troubled by Mark Latham’s warning posted on the Chifley Research Institute website last week. Latham warned: “Any Labor person who has anything to do with its promotion is fouling his own nest.”

Bowen argued in favour of pluralism:

A few people have asked why I would agree to launch a book which is not entirely complimentary to my political party. Because debate is important.  Because politics must be about more than ten second grabs.

Bowen partly buys The Lucky Culture’s arguments, and partly rejects them:

 His sociological argument is well made.  From my point of view there is plenty to disagree with in his political conclusions.

Understandably, Bowen takes issue with my re-evaluation of Gough Whitlam’s legacy, pointing that that Whitlam brought the sewers to western Sydney and funded the teaching hospital in Westmead. He concludes:

But I do regard this book as reminder, as a warning if you like, for the Labor Party to stick to its tradition of supporting mainstream issues important to people who have supported Labor all their life, and who have regarded Labor as their champion and advocate.   There is a party which doesn’t represent those mainstream concerns and is out of touch with the aspirations of so many people who need growth and opportunity to make those aspirations a reality.  That Party lies to our left and is known as the Greens Party.  We are different to the Greens and should always remain so. [full speech here]

The speech whets the appetite for Chris Bowen’s forthcoming book on Labor that is due to be published before the election by MUP.

Thanks to Chris, Daryl and the club’s management for organising the event and to my friend and former colleague Paul Whittaker, editor of The Daily Telegraph‘, for joining and delivering a generous speech that I hope to post shortly.

As Melham writes in his introduction to Gary Lester’s excellent history of the club, True to Our Traditions, Revesby Workers’ has always been a venue for contested ideas.

Revesby Workers‘ is a fine, forward-looking club, with an industrial-sized gym, travel agent, hairdresser and choice of excellent dining. Club membership is ridiculously cheap, and gives you 90c off a schooner. No wonder it has more members than the NSW Labor Party.

I highly recommend Lester’s book, available from the club for $20 with proceeds going to the Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia.