Archive for May, 2015

Billionaires – and why we need more of them

May 30th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

We have 46 billionaires in Australia, according to the BRW rich list, which if you follow the questionable logic of Andrew Leigh’s book Billionaires and Battlers is probably a very bad thing.

On Seven Weekend Sunrise this morning, I argued that far from despising billionaires we should be thanking them for creating the wealth which drives Australia forward.

Billionaires: Master architects of great wealth and lasting legacies, a UBS/PWC report published last week, says we have entered

“a second ‘Gilded Age’, comparable to the first ‘Gilded Age’ at the beginning of the 20th Century. The majority of the world’s billionaires have made their wealth in the past 20 years, when they created more than US$3.3 trillion.”

Screen Shot 2015-05-30 at 11.29.08 amHere are ten reasons why Australia’s growing list of billionaires is a sign of a good society:

1. The overwhelming majority are self-made billionaires, rather than inheritors of multi-general wealth. It is evidence of social and economic mobility.

2. Four out of the top ten are migrants. Two more are sons of migrants. This is an open society with “wealth for toil.”

3. Australian billionaires – by and large – do not have tickets on themselves. Which is just as well because, as D H Lawerence said, in Australia “there is a all the difference in the world between feeling better than your fellow man and merely feeling better-off.”

4. They are generous philanthropists who collectively contribute hundreds of millions of dollars a year to the common good, over and above what they pay in taxes.

5. The digital economy means anyone with a computer can start a business. Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar started the software company Atlassian in their early 20s and were billionaires by 34.

6. They create jobs and wealth for the country.

7. We enjoy a better, more comfortable built environment thanks to the entrepreneurship and ingenuity of property and retail developers.

8. Billionaires are innovators and the benefits of innovation are shared.

9. Individual success provides inspiration for all.

And finally…

10. Our richest billionaire is a woman.


Is the fairness argument losing ground?

May 26th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

In The Australian today I write: 

There was more disappointing news for the handwringing industry last week when an OECD report found Australia to be a remarkably fair place. The poor are getting richer and the rich are getting poorer while those in the middle are doing very nicely, thank you.

What will become of the unsold copies of shadow assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh’s book Battlers and Billionaires now that its thesis has been knocked firmly on the head?

Leigh makes it plain on the back cover; rising inequality “risks cleaving us into two Australias, occupying fundamentally different worlds.”

Oh dear. Will Leigh’s publishers be forced to pulp the remaining stock? Or will Battlers and Billionaires, like Wayne Swan’s Postcodes, gain cult status as items of class-war kitsch to be put on ironic display alongside Fifties’ pulp science fiction? Yes children, they really did believe that one day cars could fly.





Where do journalists live?

May 24th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

The reaction of the media class to SBS’s Struggle Street suggests that Mount Druitt is unfamiliar territory.

The 2011 Census suggests it is. Surry Hills is the most popular residential suburb for journalists (226) followed by Bondi/Tanarama (211), Newtown/Enmore (188), Clovelly/Randwick (152) and Leichhardt (151).

And Mount Druitt? There are five.

I’ve posted the full list for NSW, and here for Victoria (Brunswick, Fitzroy North, St Kilda, Northcote, Richmond… you get the picture).

Screen Shot 2015-05-24 at 5.04.45 pmThe curious habits of the media class came up for discussion when I appeared on The Bolt Report this morning.




Lenin backs de-regulation

May 23rd, 2015 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment



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Struggle Street’s “dark forces” named and shamed

May 19th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

Struggle Street’s  narrator blames “dark forces” for Mount Druitt’s problems. Bob’s problem with heroin addiction, for example, began because “Bob found himself getting caught up in dark forces that had crept into the neighbourhood.”

Bob, at least, is prepared to wear a little more of the blame. “Heroin had hit Mount Druitt mate, and I was virtually one of the first people on it mate, first one charged at Mount Druitt cop shop with it anyway. Nothing has gone my way mate. It could have. Just from me own choices. Wish I wasn’t like that mate… ruined me f…ing life.”

Neither answer, however, is entirely satisfactory. Why did “dark forces” pick on this neighbourhood and not, say, Castle Hill, less than half an hour’s drive away, an outer suburb that is largely home to energetic, functional people? The drug trade is pervasive but why did heroin hit Mount Druitt especially hard and why were its residents so ill-armed to confront it? Why did SBS single out Mount Druitt for attention? Couldn’t the producers have found a heavily pregnant woman with a vacant stare smoking a lazy afternoon bong in Roseville or Artarmon?

The answer lies in welfare dependency, I write in The Australian today.


It’s not a university. It’s an anarcho-syndicalist commune

May 12th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

In The Australian today I write:

WHO does Paul Johnson think he is? The University of Western Australia’s vice-chancellor or something? It must have been something of a shock for Johnson to discover that despite what it says on his business card, he doesn’t actually run the university.

The withdrawal of the UWA’s offer to host Bjorn Lomborg’s Australian Consensus think tank offers an insight into the ungovernable, undisciplined and unenlightened world the modern university. Real authority within does not reside with its appointed executives. It derives from a mandate from the masses, like the autonomous collective King Arthur encounters in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Screenshot 2015-05-12 04.53.29One imagines Graham Chapman as Arthur reining in his stead on Stirling Highway and pointing at the vice chancellery cloisters:

Arthur: Please good people. I am in haste. Who lives in that castle?

Woman: No one lives there.

Arthur: Then who is your lord?

Woman: We don’t have a lord… we’re an anarcho-syndicalist commune

The objects of the Python satire were the dreamers of the early 1970s, a ragged group dedicated to overturning the cultural hegemony that legitimised the capitalist state. Today’s utopians, by contrast, are defenders of the new cultural hegemony, the one that maintains the doctrines of sustainability and social inclusion and enforces the rules of political correctness on Australian campuses. The old Left presumed to represent the workers. The new Left claims to defend stakeholders, community leaders and expert opinion.





Lessons for Shorten from the Miliband experiment

May 9th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

In The Weekend Australian today I analyse the result of the UK election. [full column] Bill Leak is in good form: