Archive for October, 2013

Fishing News

October 24th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

In Spectator Australia last week, I confessed that I may have been a little hard on my hometown of Hythe, Hampshire in the prologue to The Lucky Culture

My sister Stephanie takes issue with the unflattering description of our hometown in the prologue to my recent book The Lucky Culture. It was perfectly accurate, I insist; Hythe was indeed halfway between the docks and the oil refinery. Stephanie points out that I failed to mention that the glorious open spaces of the New Forest formed, to all intents and purposes, our backyard. [FULL ARTICLE]

Nick Boorman found an article in London’s The Daily Telegraph that suggests hidden depths, and a slightly risque edge, to the waterside enclave:

A mysterious humming noise which is keeping people awake at night could be down to fish making love, scientists claim. The noise, which residents say ‘pulsates’ through their homes, starts at about 10pm and carries on all night, forcing some people to move away from the area because they find it impossible to sleep.

Scientists believe the noise could be being caused by fish having sex in an estuary nearby in Hythe, near Southampton in Hampshire. [FULL ARTICLE] 

The fruitless hours I spent fishing from Hythe Pier as a child now begin to make sense; attractive as the worm on my hook may have been, the fish were plainly looking for a better offer.



The Limitations of Roxon’s niceness strategy

October 22nd, 2013 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

IN my column in The Australian2013-10-22 12.26.08 pm today I write:

IT is not yet clear how Labor intends to win back Moonee Ponds, but it is unlikely that Nicola Roxon’s niceness strategy will do the trick. 

Last week, the former minister offered Labor MPs “a few basic tips on decent behaviour”. She then called former Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd “a bastard” and demanded he resign as the member for Griffith, the constituency he was duly elected to serve.

It was a speech that would have been unlikely to impress John Button, the former Hawke government minister in whose honour it was delivered. As Roxon rightly pointed out, Button was a straight shooter, but he was not the kind of person who would resort to an ad hominem attack or look for scapegoats for Labor’s present failures.


Conroy (sort of) takes the blame for NBN mistakes

October 15th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

When Stalin’s second Five-Year Plan failed to live up to expectations, Molotov blamed 585 wreckers of heavy industry and 68 Trotskyites in the press. When the NBN went awry, Stephen Conroy blamed Telstra, installation contractors, The Australian and The Daily Telegraph.

2013-10-15 05.10.16 amLike all self-proclaimed makers of history, Conroy struggles to own his mistakes. On Lateline last night he again tried to blame contractors for the snail-paced roll out of the NBN.

Last Friday, however, in what appears to be a breakthrough, Conroy admitted that the NBN’s failure was, in part, attributable to poor government decisions.

“I think around the construction area, the model that they pursued in a couple of areas, which was impacted by decisions that we took along the way, would be things I’d look at, and want to have, if I could look back in time, more of an understanding of.”

In my column in The Australian this morning I focus on one of the key government mistakes: ordering the NBN to roll out cable to the door of every home in a multiple dwelling unit instead of dropping the cable at the entrance to the building and leaving the rest to the body corporate:

Wiring up a Brownfields MDU (what we might call an old block of flats) generally requires the co-operation of a body corporate, an organisation pathologically incapable of replacing a light bulb in the lobby, let alone installing Fibre Access Network Architecture (FANA) from an Optical Distribution Frame (ODF).

Curmudgeonly body corporates – or “frustrated MDUs” as they are technically known – were the bane of Conroy’s life until he resigned as communications minister in June. [FULL ARTICLE]


Time for a fresh review of the ABC.

October 8th, 2013 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

WHEN the last major review of the ABC’s purpose was conducted, Malcolm Fraser was prime minister, the Internet was science fiction and Leigh Sales had barely started high school. 

As I write in The Australian today, the ABC might be nervous about an inquiry on the scale of the Dix Review commissioned by a Coalition government, but it should not be.

The best way to head off suggestions, very much alive on the Right, that the ABC should be sold off is to demonstrate that public broadcasting has a serious role to play in the cultural life of the nation.

For that to happen, the ABC Act must be amended, and the corporation’s charter reviewed.







The crippling consequences of disability red tape

October 1st, 2013 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

The National Disability Insurance Scheme is supposed to cut through the bureaucratic red tape that blights the lives of the recipients of brute bad fortune. As I write in The Australian today, whether it actually does so is another question altogether:

IF you are confined to a wheelchair at the age of 29, it should not take a year to get the lock on the front door moved to a height where you can reach it.

A child of 4 1/2 with chronic cerebral palsy should be entitled to a powered wheelchair and if there is a rule that says she does not get one until she turns five, anyone with an ounce of common sense would be prepared to bend it.

Advocates of the National Disability Insurance Scheme invite us to believe that these and countless other lived experiences of official intransigence will be solved once the NDIS is introduced at a cost of $14.5 billion a year.

There is a catch, and it is rather a large one. The bureaucracy-busting National Disability Insurance Agency, the body set up to help cut through the red tape, will itself be run by bureaucrats.

We can only hope that these bureaucrats will be unlike any others we know and that they will be dedicated to reducing suffering, not increasing it. [FULL ARTICLE]


Abbott’s plans to demolish the nanny state

October 1st, 2013 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

In The Sunday Times this week, I report on Tony Abbott’s plans to take on political correctness and the attempts to dismantle the machinery of the nanny state: 

AUSTRALIA’S new conservative government has begun a purge of state-sponsored political correctness, vowing to reverse the intrusion of the nanny state into everyday life.

Tony Abbott became prime minister three weeks ago after being elected on a platform opposing “Big Brother government” that nudges its citizens to make “appropriate” lifestyle choices…

Supporters say Abbott wants to take moral decisions away from government: the aim is to denationalise morality and deregulate private behaviour much as Margaret Thatcher denationalised industry and wound back state intervention in Britain’s economy. [FULL ARTICLE]