Returning to activity…

28 May, 2009

The time’s finally come for Interlogue to come back from its slumber and comment on the affairs of the state and world and the random views of its correspondent. My exile in RealSpace was productive – I’ve earned myself 2 TAFE certificates – but the world and the country have gotten interesting again and I occasionally get asked if I’m going to return to blogging. So, yep, here I am. With a brand new computer too – that will be the subject of at least one future post.

What’s changed since 2006? OK, the Americans proved us all wrong and elected a decent bloke as leader. While Bush and his occasional weirdness and turns of phrase were fun to laugh at, he was taking the world in a dangerous direction and, while I didn’t initially support Obama early in the primaries, I came to the conclusion somewhere in early-mid 2008 that he was the best hope at present for the US and he has achieved better than my expectations to date.

Australia’s federal government – we no longer have a government in an obvious state of terminal decline federally.The former Liberal government, once seen as almost untouchable, are now seen as beyond salvation, with a bunch of shadow ministers and a leader with no alternative vision but to keep saying “no” and to defend against all logic the policies of their rejected administration, and attack the Government for doing exactly what they did when they were in government (often requiring deft backflips and incredible dodges). The poll numbers do not to me suggest a hugely above-all-expectations successful Government, they indicate an Opposition which has failed the democratic process by not putting forward an agenda of any kind.

However, the Rudd government hasn’t delivered quite as its supporters expected – perhaps due to the precarious Senate situation where, thanks to the unexpected 2004 election result, the Coalition can still give them pain. The biggest controversies, strangely enough, are issues where Labor is not being left enough for the public to tolerate. The apology, though, was a big step forward – maybe they will put some action behind it and abandon the intervention, which was simply an attempt by Howard to create a Tampa 2007, much like UK record companies create {insert 80s song here} 2008 with a few new mixes to squeeze a few more bucks out of their geriatric artists.

The WA government bored everyone despite doing well, had a top level management who clearly failed PR 101 and then executed the worst election campaign I’ve ever seen by an incumbent government (right down to failing to activate the base, leaving all its big announcements – none of which were THAT big – to the last week, and running hamfisted local campaigns with untested candidates) which saw nobody win and the Liberals and Nationals fill the vacuum of power. They’ve since been very good at figuring out what to cut or what fish licences to issue, but not very good at governing (in fact, I’ve yet to see them try).

And amidst the yawn value, the failing media present us with folk heroes like Corey Worthington, Clare Werbeloff and the likes – people so desperate to be famous and a media so desperate and bankrupt as to want to assist them. Never mind that poor 13 year old kid from a council estate in the UK whose entire sexual history (and his partner’s sexual indiscretions with other boys) became worldwide topics of discussion. I’m not pretending the media used to be better – we after all had Wawa, the Paxtons and cash for comment – but I think the Internet and the instantaneous nature of communication makes it more obvious today when the emperor has no clothes.

Anyway, signing off. Will be back soon with something more substantial at the weekend.


More on daylight saving

18 March, 2007

It seems the West has finally turned a corner in its reporting on this issue. After the Nationals’ poll, which now has 37,000 signatures demanding an early referendum for daylight saving, and the former Liberal leader Matt Birney’s desire to modify it to run only from October to December (does this mean Gloucester Park has to spend twice as much each year?), along with Channel Seven and other community polling suggesting between 60 and 75 per cent opposition, the West has launched a profoundly parochial broadside at the effects of daylight saving, clearly recognising the needs of its advertisers the small businesses which have been affected by daylight saving. Apparently 65% of restauranteurs intend to vote against it in 2009 (or earlier if held then).

The last couple of months has amply demonstrated in my view exactly why we should not have daylight saving. I am not against the concept as such, but I am against it as it applies in Western Australia. Especially in Perth, where I now have to go to uni in the dark and can’t get to sleep at night without my airconditioner because Perth in effect already has daylight saving, being about 6 degrees, or 20 minutes, west of the 8-hour meridian, and the areas which actually do need it actually have their own way of resolving the problem.

I’m glad that these real issues are getting debated now in the media, where they should have been before our anti-democratic government decided to shove them in our faces with the media triumphantly in tow.

As for my quietness to the present, I think I underestimated how busy I was going to be with offline priorities! I’ll repost something I wrote elsewhere in a sec regarding the current “crises” and the like.


25 October, 2006

Courtesy of the Library & Information Service of Western Australia (LISWA) (link) – An artist’s impression in the Western Mail (one of Perth’s several dailies in times past) in their 1929 centenary issue as to what Perth would look like 23 years from now:

Daylight saving on the cards

20 October, 2006

It seems democracy doesn’t matter much to the current Western Australian government. Their response to three referendums telling them “no” to daylight saving (the last two after trial periods of one year) is to try and force it on Western Australians without a vote, with the staunch support of our limited media sources (The West Australian and News Ltd, who’ve adopted almost a preachy tone in recent issues on the subject). Their strongest supporters are Labor MPs for some of the newest Perth areas, many of whose people clearly would like Western Australia to conform to their ideas of home, much as the English did when they arrived here in 1829 and started trying to plant English gardens and social rules wherever they went in complete defiance of the local weather and climate.

Now I know that some (including some of my friends) would like to see it come in, but not one person has given me a good reason why it should be implemented. I’ve heard a lot of derision about somewhat obscure arguments relating to dairy farming and faded curtains, but that is not and has never been the reasoning of myself and those I know who have argued against it.

Many of the reasons given offer no benefit to Perth, a city of seemingly eternal summer sunshine at 32°S latitude. A point often missed by commentators is that the benefits enjoyed by Melburnians in particular relate to their higher latitude – at around 38°S, there is more difference between summer and winter. At that latitude, entire nights can be made light by the idea, with almost no sacrifice in the mornings, due to longer daylight hours to start with. They compensate by having comparatively short days to Perth in winter. I saw this in Vancouver, Canada, as well, a city of 49°N latitude where the sun was setting at almost 10pm in the peak of summer under daylight saving, and rising at 4am.

In Perth, however, this seasonal variance is much slighter. The shortest day rises two hours later and sets two hours earlier than in winter. In Geraldton and in our mining centres this is as little as 45 minutes. At the other end of the day, for three months of the period one is getting up in the dark to go to work or school if one has any kind of commute at all. With such a vast state, cutting it in half is impractical, especially when strong trading relationships exist within the state – I briefly worked in the transport industry (sorry to disappoint, just data entry :)) and was forever sending truckloads of stuff to places all over the northwest and Kimberley.

The second issue is one of weather. Anyone who has been to, or spent any time in Melbourne, Sydney or Newcastle will know that the sort of dry, open sunshine we get for months on end in Perth simply doesn’t happen there. I well remember my first visit to Melbourne in mid-January 1997 where it was 42 one day then 22 and wet the next – the words “four seasons in one day” seem to have been written for it. Sydney’s humidity, having a sub-tropical rather than temperate climate despite being 2° latitude south of us, ensures the burning sun requiring SPF 30+ for even short exposures isn’t nearly the issue there that it is here. What converted me and, it seems, a number of people during the last trial was that kids coming home from school were now doing it at 2pm in GMT+8 instead of 3pm, which as we all remember falls within the sun danger zone. Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world, and WA the highest within Australia. We should be doing everything we can as a state to get this level down.

Thirdly, and very importantly, the fact that a majority of Western Australians do not want it. I raise the issue neutrally wherever I go and it seems to go about 2/3 in favour of the status quo.

Finally, the “everybody else is doing it so why can’t we” argument. We live in a globalised world where our primary resources are our main export and our primary clients are in Asia. By some blessing of geography, we are in the same time zone as Singapore, Malaysia and China. Also, our partners in the US, Europe etc go the opposite direction – some nationally based companies with predominant trading relationships with Europe have located their national head offices in Perth or Brisbane to take advantage of this.

What a few eastern states (not even all) decided to do at some point in the 1970s for reasons that made sense in their climate and circumstances does not bind us into some sort of inferiority complex mentality that we have to somehow “keep up” with the “eastern states”. It’s such a parochial mentality, and the fact so many Sydneysiders are moving here suggests otherwise anyway.

I say fix the shopping hours and never mind the whingers, or the cows. 🙂 The state government should be focussing on core issues like health and education and not trying to divide the community on non-issues.

Community Newspapers plagiarism on tonight’s Media Watch

9 October, 2006

Media Watch tonight is very interesting – it seems the Community Newspaper Group has engaged in “cut and paste journalism” in preparing a liftout to celebrate its 21st anniversary. I was aware of this as one of the plagiarised articles was co-written by myself, so I was rather surprised to see it duplicated word-for-word in my local newspaper. With community news (other than the Post group and some independents) at this level, that pretty much completes my dissing of all major Perth print media outlets.

Amusing Hansard from 2003

17 September, 2006

This blog will be back up to normal operation soon. In the meantime… it’s sadly not often that Parliament is something other than boring or childishly adversarial, so when looking for something else, I was quite amused to find this from our own Upper House back on 3 Dec 2003 about some land down near Kojonup. To cut a long story short, an A-class reserve in the area was being excised for logging. Enquiries revealed that there was nothing to log, given it had been illegally cleared in 1975, so Greens MLC Dee Margetts was curious to know why it was listed for logging. The humorous bit is a debate about broom bush, which from the description appears to be the same as the brush fences one sees everywhere in suburban Adelaide:

Hon DEE MARGETTS (Grn): No explanation has been given for this concept of the Department of Conservation and Land Management, which comes to us via the amendment of the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure. If it is simply for the provision of broom bush to undercut other aspects of private industry for the provision of the gardening trade –

Hon Murray Criddle (Nat): What is broom bush?

Hon DEE MARGETTS: I am no expert, but I understand that it is a fencing material, which is a sort of grey –

Hon Murray Criddle: Tea-tree?

Hon Christine Sharp (Grn): It is similar.

Hon Ken Travers (ALP): It has beautiful flowers.

Hon DEE MARGETTS: Quite possibly. It is often used in new housing developments because it is a relatively cheap but quite attractive form of fencing.

Hon Murray Criddle: I know what you mean.

Hon DEE MARGETTS: It is wired together.

Hon Ken Travers: Broom bush is really pretty when it is in flower.

Hon DEE MARGETTS: It probably is when it is alive.

Surprises do happen.

23 August, 2006

Thanks to Stewart Wotton for flagging this one for my attention – Dennis Jensen, Liberal MP for the safe southern suburban seat of Tangney, has failed to win preselection for the seat.

In my previous comments I had suggested that it was unlikely that sitting members in safe seats would be rolled at preselection as it may present a picture of disunity. An interesting point – what would make a branch feel safe enough to overthrow an existing member? It would be fair to say the default action is to preserve sitting members, so this is almost like a firing.

Jensen has had a few contributions to the public debate, most notably nuclear policy in which he has particular expertise, calling for reform of the Defence Department (he’s a former defence analyst) and a measured stand on citizenship and terrorism issues (while being opposed to Moylan/Georgiou et al). From what I am reading, I’m not seeing a lot of local input into his statements, although I could be wrong – if anyone who knows more wishes to add more information, feel free to add a comment.

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