The New Australian

Proudly nearly Australian since 2010. "I'm not grumpy, the rest of the world is just unrealistically upbeat"

The New Australian - Proudly nearly Australian since 2010. "I'm not grumpy, the rest of the world is just unrealistically upbeat"

The day Australia lost her innocence

…..was probably sometime around May 13th 1787.

But according to an ex-pat American journalist it was December 15th 2014.

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That’s right, Australia, this was the defining moment for your history, the day after which nothing would ever be the same.

The day a lone nutter with a shotgun and a flag practically shut down a city in the middle of a business day.

No, hang on… I meant to say, the day a series of highly-planned and coordinated attacks devasted the freedom and lives of hundreds of innocent people.

Or at least sent them home 4 hours early from work with a smug hashtag.

The entire point of terrorism is to force a compromise to another group’s way of life. Continuing that way of life with very little change is the best response.

At various points during the day much of Sydney seemed to be on a war footing. Trains were stopped on the Bondy ™/Central line and buses as far away as Mosman (about 10km from Martin Square) were taken out of service. Planes were diverted and bank branches were shutdown. The staff in the North Sydney office I was in at the time were sent home at 3pm…..from North Sydney! There’s a kilometre and half of shark-infested water between North Sydney and Martin Square, in case nobody noticed.

Speaking of shark-jumping, Premiers of other states fed the interminable churn of the rolling news cycle with self-serving press conferences describing the precautions being taken in cities that are a nine hour drive from the nutter with the shotgun and the flag (“I call on the police to keep Queen’slanders safe“, Campbell Newman). Why? In case he escaped and effected a long distance car chase to BrisBogan with cops behind him, Blues Brothers style?

Some discussion might be worth having following this event about appropriate and proportional responses to emergencies. Sydney is a global city in a global economy. If the reaction to a lone nutter with a shotgun and a flag is to give everyone an unscheduled half day holiday, imagine what a competently planned series of attacks would do to the place?

If the IRA mainland bombing campaign had achieved a fraction of the disruption to London or Manchester that Sydney willingly embraced this week, the bogtrotters would still be blowing up rubbish bins outside Selfridges every other week and the peace process would be a distant hope.

So, appropriate and proportional response? The facts are still emerging but it looks likely that this was a lone attacker with severe mental issues.

How do we know he had severe mental issues?

He was religious; they are all fucking fruitloops, particularly the ones who believe their prophet was surgically cut open from the throat to the abdomen and then rode to heaven and back on a white flying donkey. As one does…

Unlike the modus operandi and demographic of practically every Islamic terrorist attack in the West, this didn’t start with fatal violence and was perpetrated by a late middle-aged idiot, rather than post-pubescent disaffected idiots.…..with the wrong flag.

Having pointed out that Sydneysiders, encouraged by an irresponsible media (unusually coherent piece on that by John Birmingham here), overreacted somewhat, let’s challenge the current received wisdom on the heroism theme we are being fed.

If you ever, heaven help you, find yourself in a hostage situation and are sharing the experience with one of my loved ones AND the wild-eyed nutter hasn’t actually fired his weapon or set off a bomb after 12 hours, please DO NOT try to intervene. I very much beg you to let the negotiator keep talking to him while an SAS marksman in a balaclava plans for the alternate option. As it happens, it turns out that the only death the hero might be responsible for triggering is his own as the other hostage fatality was due to a heart attack, which suggests a pre-existing condition (obviously not helped by the highly traumatic experience).

Ultimately, this shouldn’t ever have happened, of course. I somehow doubt that if you or I had a string of 40 convictions for a range of crimes including those involving violence and sexual assaults and were being prosecuted as an accessory to an ex-spouse’s murder and a sex attack less than 9 months ago we would still be walking the streets. But this nutter was.

Think also about this; Australia now has some of the widest-ranging anti-privacy legislation in the western world, the intelligence agencies can read your mail, tap your phone and bug your house with barely a “because we say so” as justification.

Yet they didn’t seem to have any regular surveillance on a nutter whose Twitter feed is there for the world to see;

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“Flowers of advice” was his explanation of letters sent to grieving relatives of dead servicemen cheering their deaths.

A publicly-visible radical religious nutter with 40 criminal convictions and he’s out on bail awaiting prosecution for a murder? Really?

Ponder that during the subsequent minute’s silences that will occur at various sporting and other events this weekend.

People of Australia should keep voting, I reckon; it is really going to change everything for the better one day.

And I’m going to ride a flying white donkey to heaven and back in the meantime.

UPDATE. The shooter had a gun licence. Un-fucking-believable.

Robert Maxwell United Party

In many ways, moving to Australia feels like travelling backwards in time. Depending on the location or the subject one could be back in the 1990s (Australian banking), pre-Berlin Wall 1980s (closet reds under every bed) or the 1970s (industrial relations and labour practices).

 

But for confirmation of the exact year that we’ve dropped back into can be found by researching this fat bouncing Czech Queen’slander. Yes, we are currently living in 1990 and Clive Palmer is the Australian Robert Maxwell.

 

For those who weren’t around in London or were there but don’t recall the early 1990s (there was an awful lot of the other kind of Charlie washing around, after all), Bob Maxwell was a particularly odious public figure who ran the Mirror group of newspapers like a dictator and, ultimately almost into bankruptcy.

 

Just like the founder of the modestly-named Palmer United Party, he was morbidly obese and highly litigious, using the courts to silence betrayed business partners and critics (such as Private Eye).

 

After his rather suspicious death, which may or may not have all the hallmarks of an MI5 operation, it was discovered that the company finances were in a worse state than even his harshest critics could have imagined and that he’d been helping himself liberally from the company pension scheme, leaving several thousand retired ex-employees in poverty.

 

That avenue of fraud is no longer open to Australian snakeoil salesmen as pension funds are ringfenced from company directors, so we won’t discover that little present following Clive’s passing.

 

However, he has been accused of sticking his hand into corporate bank accounts to pay for his political ambitions. Replace Private Eye for Citic Pacific and a lot of bells should start ringing for those of us with memories from the era of Cap’n Bob.

 

Sociopaths like Maxwell are very adept at keeping the debt moving while they are alive, only for the house of cards to collapse once the controlling hand is removed. The executives at Citic are on a losing wicket, there is no way to battle a sociopath and win, as anyone who has read this book will know. But they’ll continue their legal battle under the misapprehension that Palmer will roll over once a court judgement goes against him.

 

We can’t blame them for their cognitive dissonance, it must be very uncomfortable to consider the possibility that they could win the legal battle and then discover that the cupboard was bare.

 

History doesn’t repeat but it does rhyme.

 

Clive is building the Titanic II. Wouldn’t it be a delicious final stanza if he slipped off the back one night just off the Canary Islands?

(Sydney siege thoughts tomorrow; there’s more than enough verbal bollocks out there today.)

Integration of immigrants is key

God knows I’ve tried. Since arriving here I’ve learned to surf, accepted that barbecues can be fueled by gas, managed to stifle giggles when hearing the names parents give their children (“Tayla, tell Jamieson and Kayler dinner is ready!“) and I’ve nearly drunk enough Kool-aid to believe that a million dollars is good value for a weatherboard and tin roof house that lets the draughts through in winter and stores the heat in summer.

While I’d like to kid myself that these efforts, whilst admirable, are enough to be considered a True Blue Aussie, they are pathetic by comparison to this gentleman.

On the scale from fresh off the boat to fully-integrated immigrants, this chap has really got into the spirit and completely immersed himself into the Australian way of life.

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There’s probably some scratching of heads going on while you read this but think about it for a while and see if you can follow where we’re going with this….

Non-Australian readers will be particularly puzzled by the suggestion that it is True Blue Australian behaviour for an immigrant who sat by while his daughter got into a relationship with a radicalised Muslim and waved her off on holiday to a war zone to die is now suing the Federal Government you the taxpayer for compensation.

Proper Australians would have pricked their ears up at the final noun in that sentence though.

Compensation, or “compo” in the vernacular.

That’s the clue that Mohammed Karroum has passed the citizen test with flying colours. Onya, Mo!

Of course it’s not his fault or his daughter’s fault or his daughter’s Jihadi boyfriend’s fault that they got shot in Syria. Clearly it’s the government’s fault, that much would be obvious to anyone with a Southern Cross tattoo and a Bundy Rum baseball cap.

He’s in good company, of course.

Recall the woman who injured herself having sex in her hotel room while on a work trip.

And there was the woman who ran herself over with her own car who got a cool $140k for being stupid.

Sadly, my chance to integrate to the level of professional benefit claimant Australian such as Aussie Mo’ Karroum failed through a cruel timing error.

Nonetheless, I have commenced my application for citizenship. I’ll keep you updated on how that goes but, in the meantime, any hints or tips on how to become as Australian as Digger Mo would be welcome (and no, I’m not going to have a lobotomy and a mouth widening-operation).

Punk December smashes through the proscenium

Today we arrive at my favourite band of all time, The Stooges (later, Iggy and The Stooges). The first, eponymous, album was a classic example of why budding guitarists need only learn three chords and probbaly just two will do. It’s not what you play, it’s how you play it.

 

Young James Newell Osterberg started out as the drummer for the Iguanas (where he got the nickname, obviously.) but soon realised that mincing in to soundchecks with a microphone was vastly preferable to lugging a drum kit up and down stairs and became a singer (well, sort of).

 

The second album, Fun House, had a few more chords, a little more complexity and a lot more power to it but the third and final album is the one we’re going to take a sample from today. Interesting that both the Stooges and the MC5 only managed to record three albums. It’s almost as if they shared the same drug habits and dealers….. oh hang on.

 

Raw Power saw the introduction of a new guitarist, “Straight” James Williamson, to complement Ron Asheton…… At which point, what was already a loud nihilistic band, hit the turbo button.

 

There isn’t a bad track on the album (the production was shite though, due to Bowie not being a bloody producer; get the remastered version instead). Sadly, there’s very little decent contemporaneous footage of the band performing anything from the Raw Power album mainly due to the immediate escalation in several band member’s chemical ingestion habits around that time. There’s some footage on YouTube but Iggy is so whacked out on horse that it’s not going to convince you the music has any worth.

They played one gig outside of the USA during this period (La Scala, London, 1972) and I had the honour of working with one of the audience members a couple of years ago. He was about 16 at the time of the concert and describes it as the most confronting concert he’d ever attended, Iggy physically assaulted the audience and baited them to do the same back.

 
Which goes on to set some context for the fantastic live recording available called Metallic KO which documents one of the last concerts of the band in that iteration; the story goes that Iggy was interviewed on a Detroit radio station the day before the gig and invited The Scorpions (the local biker gang) to come down and do their worst, to which they replied that if he played the gig they would kill the band. The concert went ahead regardless. You can hear eggs, light bulbs and bottles hitting the stage, microphones and guitars throughout the performance which culminates in the definitive live performance of Louie Louie followed by a beer bottle whistling past the Igster’s head and the band leaving the stage in an undignified hurry. Some of the inter-song banter is classic too, “hey buddy, why are you so fat? You don’t get jowls like that by working, you get jowls like that by sitting on your ass. We’re the hardest working band in rock”, for example.

 

So, in the absence of live footage from the time, here’s the old punks doing it for the kids 40 years later. It’s just Iggy and James left from the original line up for this concert, the same line up I saw earlier this year in Sydney. There’ll be a bit more from these two over the next few days so if it’s not to your taste, fuck off until Boxing Day.

 

 

“First thing we do…. Let’s kill all the lawyers”

Anyone with a cynical bent would think that Australia was led by a ruling lawyer class intent on ensuring they will be well-protected from the impact of the next recession (locked and loaded for the second quarter of 2015, by the way).

 

That’s the only sensible conclusion one can draw from reading the globally-unique system of “Awards” and Enterprise Bargaining Agreements (sample here). The entire Australian industrial relations landscape is a legal partner’s wet dream.

 

If the arse falls out of the unionised workforce, this genius suggestion should keep the lawyers on the 24th floor drinking decaf soy lattes on the school run in the Volvo to drop Persephone and Maxim off at the organic Montessori nursery.

Kerchingggg

 

Think that through for a moment. The Federal government needs to agree a contract with every one of these “nations” because the alternative will take too much time to complete?

How many contracts would sir like

 

Anyone who thinks that makes sense has been spiking the pipes of peace with something a little stronger than Old Virginia Shag.

 

This is an interesting take on the peculiarly Australian problem of having citizens in a first world county being subsidised to live in the third world though;

Get on your bike

We’ve questioned before on this organ why it is that remote communities with no independent source of income or sustainable future are being paid to live in situations resulting in an infant mortality rate twice that of other Australians. Being new to the country, it never crossed my mind that the reason these folk were staying put was due to a fear of losing a future windfall from native title claims.

 

Here’s a radical idea; rather than keeping five thousand lawyers busy billing hours to the Federal government (and fifty Mercedes dealership owners in business) for the next decade, why not accept that legislation based on some notion of “race” is a backward step for a modern democracy and apply the existing laws and benefits system equally across all citizens regardless of heritage?

 

Nobody with a grasp of sanity and natural justice would defend paying a bunch of crusty hippies to live in a drug and alcohol-ridden peacenik commune in Balmain with an infant mortality rate equal to Botswana’s. But the thumbsucking, historic guilt-addled Australian attitude seems perfectly at ease with the keep ‘em poor and far away policies that have been in place for decades for those people living in remote Aboriginal communities.

 

What we need is not more legal obfuscation but a little more equitable application of the law and social services rules. Given that Team Blue is heavily populated by lawyers and Team Red even more so and neither is particularly in the business of making hard but morally-correct decisions, don’t hold your breath.

Maybe Saints Geldolf and Bono can write a song for them all in the meantime?

I guess Victoria likes high supermarket prices

The major problem—one of the major problems, for there are several—one of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them. 

To summarise: it is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. 
To summarise the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President Premier should on no account be allowed to do the job.

Restaurant and the end of the Universe. Douglas Adams.

Victoria changed ruling parties last week. Not that it really makes much difference; regardless of political hue, a state politician is only one notch higher than a local council politician in terms of incompetence, misanthropy and corruption.

 

But choose they did. They chose the Red Team this time for a change.

 

The Red Team are funded by the unions, such as CFMEU. Nice reasonable people in the main, no hint of 1970s militant bollocks going in the building trade union, comrade.

 

Indeed, it’s perfectly reasonable that a private business with the appropriate planning permissions, and excellent health and safety record and good oversight to ensure sub-contractor staff are paid to “The Award” can have a project shutdown by a union because a sub-contractor hasn’t negotiated an Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (i.e. terms and conditions above those mandated by the government).

 

To be fair to the union, Magellan Projects have also outrageously brought in foreign expertise in a specialist concreting technique that the customer has mandated. Shockingly un-Australian of them.

 

Interesting to read the reports of the response the police took to a car being illegally parked in front of the worksite’s gate and illegal industrial action being taken. i.e. fuck all.

 

That’s everything you need to know about industrial relations in Australia. The unions have the whip hand and are supported by the half of the political class and, by inaction, the police.

 

I attended a strategy workshop two weeks ago. Our head of Industrial Relations was there. When it was pointed out to him that his department (there’s a fucking department?) is a strategy-free zone he seemed genuinely confused. What possible place is there for strategy in the IR world?

 

TNA: Well, how about a strategy to reduce the component of our workforce that is unionised?

IR Guy: That’s illegal, comrade.

TNA: Having a strategy to do that isn’t illegal, but how one went about implementing it might be. How about a strategy to reduce the number and complexity of EBAs?

IR Guy: Why would we want to do that?

TNA: Well….. we could reduce our administrative overheads (i.e. fire some folk) who do nothing all day but convert timesheets into payroll data to comply with the stupid clauses you’ve agreed to without reference to how they might be calculated. Your “department” could negotiate with the unions from a shopping list of acceptable clauses which would fast-track the agreements and we could fire half your team.

IR Guy (slightly shaking and rocking backwards and forwards): Great points, comrade. We’ll look into it.

 

In the meantime, the good people of Altona can’t buy excellent value groceries and strange delights such as these;

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Ready, aim, fired

One of the many ironies of Australia, the first democratically-elected monarchy (Scotland being the second), is that she has a serious addiction to regicide.

It’s comedy gold, if you think about it. Offered a bloodless revolution, to further democratise their system of governance and throw off the shackles of the anachronistic monarchy, Queen’sland Australia picked the status quo.

The status quo is not without its surprises and excitement, however. Despite having the shortest term of national government in any western democracy, the Prime Ministers don’t tend to hang around much even during their terms.

We’ve chuckled previously at the expense this surfeit of living ex-leaders causes the taxpayer, but ponder this little list also;

Robert Menzies – resigned
Harold Holt – retired hurt
John McEwan – fired
John Gorton – fired
William McMahon – fired
Gough Whitlam – fired
Malcolm Fraser – lost the election
Bob Hawke – fired
Paul Keating – lost the election
John Howard – lost the election
Kevin Rudd – fired
Julia Gillard – fired
Kevin Rudd – lost the election

So that’s less than a 50% chance of a democratically-elected Prime Minister making it through to an election without becoming victim of a smoky backroom putsch. And yet you Eloi still vote and express opinions about the potential next leader as if you have any tangible input to the process.

 

The prompt for today’s theme was a real life conversation with AussiePride where he expressed the opinion that, because the incumbent Prime Minister has reversed some policy statements made prior to the election (or lied, as we describe that behaviour to our children at Chez TNA), we’ll find ourselves with a new face sitting in the top seat before Easter.

 

It’s highly likely that this will be greeted with nothing more significant than a nationwide shrug of the shoulders as yet again the voter’s choice is dismissed by career politicians concerned less about political mandates and more about their expense accounts, privileges, salaries and the glaringly obvious fact that they have nary any skills to offer the private sector.

 

Whatever your voting history in the last general election, if Tony Abbott is deposed and you don’t at least express a strong opinion to the contrary to every politician you can find contact details for, consider that you have become the equivalent of the tribe members who stood by and watched when Weena fell into the river and have a good look in the mirror.

sheep

Punk December continues

Keeping the chronological order of music, we’re moving into the late 1960s. So that means one of two bands, both based out of Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The MC5 had the potential to be the greatest band the world has ever known. The fact that most readers of this organ probably haven’t heard of them indicates things went slightly wrong for them (read here to find out how).

An indication of their precocious talent can be found by looking at their debut album, Kick Out The Jams. A live recording as a first album shows an arrogant self-belief in their talent. In hindsight, quite rightly. The second track on that album was called “Kick out the jams (motherfuckers)” which, as Brother Wayne Kramer describes in the lecture below, was never really destined for great commercial success in 1960s America. It’s a bloody brilliant song though.

The guitarist to the right of the stage was a chap called Fred “Sonic” Smith (more of him later this month) and went on to marry Patti Smith, which presumably made things easy for bank accounts, passports, etc.

The band only recorded three albums but there are also some cracking bootlegs out there which are well worth the effort to search out. There are only two of the band alive now but three or four years ago you could have, like me, seen some live gigs of The MC5 DKT (Davis, Kramer, Thompson) with folk such as Handsome Dick Manitoba or Lemmy taking the vocals. Delicious. Primal Scream supporting them at the Royal Festival Hall was a particular treat.

Back to the original line up; the band were associated with the “political” group, The White Panthers, which sound like a KKK spin-off but, in fact, considered themselves the white wing of The Black Panthers.

Basically, they were a bunch of fantasists and drug-addled nutters as can be witnessed by reading their manifesto. Point 2 is my favourite, I’d vote for Bill Shorten if he had the nuts to stand up and offer that as a policy;

  1. Full endorsement and support of the Black Panther Party’s 10-point Program.
  2. Total assault on the culture by any means necessary, including rock and roll, dope, and fucking in the streets.
  3. Free exchange of energy and materials—we demand the end of money!
  4. Free food, clothes, housing, dope, music, bodies, medical care—everything free for everybody!
  5. Free access to information media—free the technology from the greed creeps!
  6. Free time & space for all humans—dissolve all unnatural boundaries!
  7. Free all schools and all structures from corporate rule—turn the buildings over to the people at once!
  8. Free all prisoners everywhere—they are our brothers!
  9. Free all soldiers at once—no more conscripted armies!
  10. Free the people from their “leaders”—leaders suck—all power to all the people—freedom means free everyone!

I love the complete lack of explanation as to how any of this free stuff will be paid for. Also, it would be nice if some prior notice could be given before “our brother” Charles Manson is released……

They were a great rock punk band but perhaps not the smartest politicians or philosophers.

 

Anyway, if they aren’t to your taste, either hang around a day or two for the next in the series or wander over here and listen to crappy Norwegian metal. Apparently, Paddy is building up to his favourite metal song on Christmas Eve. The clever money is split between “Winds of Change” by The Scorpions and “The Final Countdown” by Europe.

Who’s the delusional one?

The initial reaction is Dave Dennis was in his cups with Christmas cheer when he gave this interview.

Denise Denise

After all, the biggest shock the Wallabies are likely to spring on the world is if they manage to hold a scrum up once in a season. The Wallaby front five make Australian politicians look competent.

 

But, once the laughing subsided, the TNA World Cup Co-Efficient was researched and applied to the current squad. Worryingly, the average caps per player is 29. By the time of the World Cup, they will be significantly past the magic 30 and looking like a good option for the final…… On paper.

 

But the scrum is the worry. Despite the Australian TV commentators making out that the other nations that practice scrummaging are in some way not playing in the spirit of the game and that the set-piece is an anachronistic throwback without modern relevance, it’s unlikely that the IRB are going to change the laws of the game in the next ten months. The scrum will still exist as a concept and will continue to be a source of embarrassment and pain for the Wallabies unless something is done about it.

 

Keeping the TNA World Cup Co-Efficient in mind, a competent front row needs to be sourced but without lowering the average number of caps per player.

 

If Mitchell Johnson can go from being the world’s worst bowler to the world’s best in less than 12 months, perhaps there’s hope for this chap;

Fat Dunning

Oh hang on a minute!

Dunn with burgers

 

That’s settled it, the hashtag campaign starts today; bring back Dunning!

 

Punk December

The silly season has commenced. I’ve been to two Christmas parties already, a further three to go.

Yet…. my golden rule, learned through painful experience and uncomfortable meetings with the HR twinkies the following Monday is that no career was ever enhanced by attending a Christmas party. Or put simply, “no good ever came from an office Christmas party“. Young readers might want to take a note of that statement and save themselves some premature seek.com.au or jobsearch.com action later.

Anyway, Paddy over at Credo Quia Absurdium Est pads out his blog in December with a load of music videos. Last year he had a Kiwi theme which seemed to fizzle out after he’d run through Split Endz and Crowded House’s back catalogue. This year he’s on the metal theme. I’ve already tricked him into posting Iggy and The Stooges, the godfathers of punk under the false claim that they were heavy metal, but I suspect that’s where that ruse ends. I also suspect he’s going to get very bored or embarrassed when he ends up with naff shite like Saxon or Europe towards the business end of the month.

So, here at Chez TNA, we will be giving you what you really want me what I really want and we’ll be doing a punk theme instead. Just to make it interesting, we’ll have a go at making it chronological. For those of you who repeat the trigger words “Sex Pistols and The Clash” when someone says “punk“, this might come as a surprise that this won’t be a bunch of music from several months in 1976 and 1977.

Stick with us, you might enjoy the ride.

First up, The Sonics. As far as I’m concerned they were the first band to get that essence of the punk sound, the short fast three chord attack of noise that we all I love. Some might suggest The Wailers (aka The Fabulous Wailers) might have got there first but it’s a reasonably semantic argument and one with not much purpose.

The Sonics recorded great versions of two of the best rock standards ever, Louie Louie and Have Love, Will Travel, both of which were written by Richard Berry. That’s immortality for you, just writing those two works of genius.

You can find those songs yourself or just wait for a new car advert to use them again. Instead, here’s the classic, “Psycho“;
 

More punk coming up.

This is rock and roll radio, stay tuned for more rock and roll“.

Channeling Bill Hicks

If you don’t have young children you are spared much of the pain that those of us who are doing our bit to upset the Malthusians are forced to endure (after all, it is incumbent on intelligent people to have more children to counterbalance the consequences of the casual attitude the stupid people have towards procreation).

One of the largest sources of discomfort and inconvenience is to be found with this organ’s dear friends over at Radio Moscow the ABC.

Unusually, I don’t particularly blame the hotbed of progressive socialism that is the Ultimo Soviet; I suspect the annoyance would simply shift to another channel if ABC For Kids didn’t exist.

As parents, we all have to lean on a bit of televisual babysitting every so often to give Mum and Dad a break, for example, while dinner or further babies are being prepared.

The Bananas in Pajamas are bad enough (“Are you thinking what I’m thinking, B1?“, “Yes, if you’re thinking this show is irritating, vacuous shite, B2.“), and the amusement to be had speculating which of the vegetables in her garden Dirt Box Girl would prefer and where has long since passed.

But surely the zenith of annoying bollocks are the “skiffy” wearing Wiggles (Australia’s most successful rock band. No, seriously, they are, Google it) and the grown man squealing at children in the most patronising way imaginable, Jimmy Giggle.

Shut the fuck upNobody else is laughing

 

After much thought and debate, the adults at Chez TNA have realised that the only solution to our problem is to change the damn channel follow Bill Hicks’ excellent advice and terminate the fuckers with extreme prejudice.

If you aren’t familiar with the comedy genius that is the late Mr. William Melville Hicks, this is a special treat for you.

One of his last ever performances was for the David Letterman Show. After the recording, the TV channel took the decision to pull the spot from the broadcast, presumably because they were scared of being picketed by pro-lifers and devout Christians, both of whom come under some classic Hicks’ scrutiny during the monologue. Letterman at least had the good judgement to apologise posthumously and show the stand-up in its entirety later.

The portion of the act we feel is most appropriate to ABC For Kids though, is the following section. Search and replace Billy Ray Cyrus, Marky Mark, etc. for The Wiggles and Jimmy Giggle.

Does anyone know where I can buy automatic weapons on the Northern Beaches?

 

Bill: Good evening! I’m very excited to be here tonight, and I’m very excited because I got some great news today. I’ve finally got my own TV show coming out as a replacement show this fall!

The audience applauds.

Bill: Don’t worry, it’s not a talk show.

The audience laughs.

Bill: Thank God! It’s a half-hour weekly show that I will be hosting, entitled “Let’s Hunt and Kill Billy Ray Cyrus”.

Audience bursts into laughter and applause.

Bill: I think it’s fairly self-explanatory. Each week we let the Hounds of Hell loose and chase the jar-head, no talent, cracker-idiot all over the globe till I finally catch that fruity little ponytail of his, pull him to his chippendaleís knees, put a shotgun in his mouth and “pow”.

Audience continues to applaud and laugh.

Bill: Then we’ll be back in ’94 with “Let’s Hunt and Kill Michael Bolton”.

Audience laughs and applauds.

Bill: Yeah, so you can see that, with guests like this, our run will be fairly limitless.

Audience laughs.

Bill: And we’re kicking the whole series off with our MC Hammer, Vanilla Ice, Markie Mark Christmas special …

Audience laughs and applauds.

Bill: And I don’t want to give any surprises away, but the first one we hunt and kill on that show is Markie Mark, because his pants keep falling around his ankles and he can’t run away … Bill mimes a hobbling Markie Mark.

The audience laughs.

Bill: Yeah, I get to cross-bow him right in the abs. It’s a beautiful thing. Bring the family. Tape it. It’s definitely a show for the nineties …

 


 

(h/t to this website for the transcript)

Over the long term our actions give us away

You don’t need to be a Tweeting twat to view what people say or “retweet” or favourite. It’s there for the whole world to see.

In fact, like everything on the internet, it’s not biodegradable. It’s there forever, despite your attempts to delete or amend. Good advice to give your teenage children, by the way.

What’s most illuminating about one’s Twitter record is the trend.

Here’s one you may be interested in; @sarahinthesen8 or, as you may know her, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young (of the Hanson-Youngs of Surrey).

If you’re not up to speed on the venality of Australian politics, she’s the Green Party’s Senator for South Australia. You know, environmentalism, climate change bollocks, fairtrade cocaine, organic denim, etc.

Have a look at her Twitter record for the month of November. I assume it’s reflective of most other months.

Of her 120 or so tweets and retweets, less than 0.8% were on or vaguely about the subject of the environment.

That’s quite enlightening, don’t you think?

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Australia’s next recession will hurt more than it should

It’s an incredible fact that an entire generation of Australian management has grown up never experiencing a recession, or at least at a time when they have had personal responsibility for a P&L. Imagine that; the demographic of middle-aged men and women, pretty much anyone under 50, who have not lived and worked overseas (and pulling pints of snakies at the SheBu Walkabout doesn’t count) have had little to no precedent in their careers of having to rapidly reduce the cost base in response to falling revenue and profitability.

 

This organ has discussed this at length, based on a period of four years’ observation in a selection of Australian businesses. Way back at the start of my time in the country I presented a feasibility study to an executive which detailed an initiative that would strip out $11m of year on year operating costs for a project cost of $4m. The response; “why would I bother for just $11m?”. The response, “um, shareholder value?” was left hanging in an uncomfortable silence and I went back to my desk and concentrated on finding an engagement for a client that was a little hungrier for their profit margins.

 

But perhaps this personal experience isn’t reflective of the general malaise in The Lucky Country?

 

Well, one Optus website article doesn’t a summer make, an’ all that, but take a look at this classic.

 

The three best ways to cut your cost base according to the heavyweight business writer, Irene Chong?

 

  1. Shop around to reduce your banking costs.
  2. Go to comparethemarket.com.au and check your electricity supplier’s rates.
  3. Don’t get charged interest for not paying your tax on time.

 

Based on that, she’s missed two extra tips;

 

1. Cancel the potted plant rentals and,

2. Tell your staff to tidy up their CVs ready for the inevitable job hunt after the business goes bust.

 

If you want to see a reasonably-solid investigation into efficiency savings as a response to a reduction in revenue, download this heavily-redacted government paper on the ABC and SBS.

 

Probably the most depressing point to note about this document is that it has been fairly comprehensively dismissed by Mark Scott of the ABC in building his rather politically-motivated and pet-project favourable response to the mild budget cut of less than 1% of revenue per year for 5 years.

 

The obvious opportunities to merge back office functions across the two organisations, for example. I would love to see the argument that defends not merging SBS and ABS’s HR, Finance, Procurement, IT, Travel, etc. functions. It should be apparent even to a domestically-trained middle manager that two broadcast organisations with the same funding source could find significant benefit from having a shared Procurement function. If you’re in any doubt, pick up the phone to the BBC’s head of overseas sales and ask him or her how much they enjoy the experience of SBS and ABC both bidding for their documentaries?

 

For a paper written by civil servants, this really is a cracking piece of work (OK, my expectations are starting from a very low base here), there’s some real nuggets that you can take away and learn from if you recognise yourself as one of those domestic-only experienced P&L managers. Like benchmarking; I do appreciate the way they’ve looked at the number of HR and Legal FTEs (full time equivalents, i.e. 5 day a week roles, rather than individuals) across the two organisations and compared the relative value they bring. Of course, the true test would be to apply an external benchmark, say from APQC, and see how both organisations stack up. I suspect that might be far more uncomfortable reading however.

 

There’s another cost-cutting 101 technique hinted at in the document too; our old friend the Pareto distribution. Here’s one they’ve shown;

Pareto for dummies

Of course, at this level of detail it’s next to useless but it at least shows the Chief Toecutter and Grim Reaper where to make a start. I’d recommend applying four or five different lenses across the source data used for that chart. Wages paid, hours worked, content produced, etc. A similar analysis of supplier spend combined across the two organisations would be a mildly good idea too (that was a heavy use of British understatement, for the avoidance of doubt).

 

In addition to the data we can see, the redacted data also speaks volumes. Take this one;

For Your Eyes Only

That’s surely another pointer to the value of benchmarking. Gosh, I wonder why the big cheeses at SBS and ABC were not keen for us lowly taxpayers to learn the highly-secretive and nationally-sensitive information such as the average cost per hour of content produced, the number of viewers per category and the relative dollars spent per viewer?

 

Of course, if we could see that information we might make our own minds up on what areas are more deserving of the hatchetman’s blade rather than letting Mr. Scott make the call on our behalf, and, as we’ve discussed at the top of this post, most Australians aren’t qualified for that level of decision-making otherwise we might come up with a few options of our own.

In the meantime, the politically-impartial Mr. Scott is complaining that Fox charge him for broadcasting his content on their expensive infrastructure investment. Here’s an idea, Mark, don’t use it OR use it and allow advertising. Nah, didn’t think so…..

 

Imagine, if you will, a time in the not so distant future where the price of iron ore, crude oil and minerals have taken a bath and businesses all over Australia need to rapidly respond to ensure they remain viable. If the decision makers are skilled to a level demonstrated by Ms. Chong and Mr. Scott, we could have a bit of a bumpy road ahead of us.

 

Thank goodness we all own prestige German offroad vehicles……

How was your November, Bill Pulver?

Now that we know it’s going to be a New Zealand v South Africa World Cup final, the real interest is in watching how the other teams step up.

And the real fun is watching the cold battleship-grey dawn of reality wash over the hubristic and delusional fans of teams that stand no chance next October.

Speaking of which;

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Ah, the old grand slam delusion. Give the Australian press 3 months to forget and chuck in a home win against Argentina next year and we’ll have a series of gushing opinion pieces popping up explaining how the backline is world class and enforcing the scrums laws is simply boring and bad for the future of the game.

Zeitgeist

Formalities first; goodbye for those email subscribers who will be leaving us at this point. Sorry to see you go, but you presumably subscribed for my views as well as a curiosity to see when I would get punched out whilst taking secret photos of Richmonds (which reminds me of the two reasons soldiers follow leaders ; 1. They are inspired by them, or 2. They are curious as to how they will die).

Next, a short history lesson.

About sixteen and a half years ago, I woke up with a hangover and took a cab to Heathrow to fly home to Hong Kong. Through my delicate state I could make out something the cabbie was saying that wasn’t racist or slagging off Tony Blair but seemed to be about the Princess of Wales. Two Bloody Mary’s later in the Virgin lounge I caught up on what the rest of the country already knew; she’d died in a car crash in Paris. I remember thinking it was tragic and feeling desperately sorry for her young sons. About a minute later I was SMSing the rugby club captain to let him know I would be at training on Tuesday, available for selection on Saturday and asking where the best party was likely to be afterwards. i.e. it was a tragedy but it really had nothing to do with me personally.

Over the course of the subsequent week I watched in amazement as the entire country I had left went collectively insane. Some sort of mass hysteria seemed to envelop the population, according to the news reports I was seeing on TV, hearing on the radio and reading on the still fairly nascent internet.

It felt like this wave of public grief was too far away to wash me along. It was compelling viewing from afar, however.

Several years later, I realised that not everyone back in the UK shared the feelings of despair and personal grief for a person they had never met or had any tangible connection with and, in fact, there was a silent majority looking on, as I did, with concern and confusion at the scenes playing out in the national media. John Pilger wrote very eloquently about this a few years later.

Looking back, I’ve often wondered if some of the reason for the apparent nationwide reaction was because of the nature of the news channels in those days, no Twitter, no Creepbook, no blogs (other than a few smelly virgins discussing dungeons and dragons or compression rates of the V34 protocol). I suspect 1997 signalled the peak of the traditional media’s power; I haven’t checked but I wonder whether companies such as Australia’s Fairfax hit peak market valuation around that time. Recently, I’d convinced myself that this type of gauche, over the top public grief would be unlikely in these more democratic days of citizen journalists.

But then Phil Hughes died this week in a tragic and extremely exceptional freak accident.

I’ve held off writing this blog post because I’d hoped that the grieving would have pulled back to the more personal and individual level. But several days later and the media coverage is still absolutely wall to wall with every taking head trying to find a new angle, a new insight, something about the split second impact of a hard piece of wood wrapped in leather on a critical artery that hasn’t already been said.

Mike Baird, the New South Wales Premier, a man who is a good Christian and has the best intentions at heart but, if he was honest, probably couldn’t have named the Australian cricket team’s batting line up (which Hughes didn’t figure in either) a week ago, has announced a State (as in the state of NSW) Memorial to be held at the Sydney Cricket Ground. I don’t know, I just don’t know if that’s not just a step too far. At the cathedral, sure, but the SCG is a mighty big and impersonal place for a memorial. Especially if very few turn up.

I spoke with my best friend today, the first time since the Hughes tragedy. We’re both veterans of contact sports and we’ve both experienced deep personal losses of dear team mates. We only spoke briefly of the incident and subsequent death. It was of interest, resonated with both of us and upset us but we were otherwise not personally affected.

This isn’t going to be a well-received question but, Australia, do you think this cycle of public grief is being fueled by the mainstream media news cycle? Is this your Diana moment? For Christ’s sake, Elton John even dedicated a song to him at a concert last night.

And if it is, are you going to be the silent majority or are you going to personally speak out and explain that, although tragic, sad and exceptional circumstances, there is a relativity to this young death that is not being respected by the people we pay to report the news?

And if you didn’t enjoy this blog post and are leaving us, at least stay long enough to appreciate a craftsman at work, navigating the difficult course between offence and humour far better than I could ever hope.

Show us your grief, Ma’am“.

Update; Just under a week later and only 3% of our subscribers departed. Well done the remainder, you’re just the type of people we want. Tell your friends.

The art of public sector accounting

One of the weekend’s chores involved a reasonably long drive out to the countryside with a shovel to dispose of the latest brave but ill-advised adversary. I’d put the lat and long of the unmarked grave up here but then I’d have to kill you too.

Anyway, the drive was slightly longer than anticipated due to an unscheduled stop to address a disturbing knocking sound coming from the boot and I grew tired of listening Lou Reed’s Metal Machine music album on the iTwat so I braced myself mentally and flicked on Radio Moscow. There was a rather illuminating interview with the curator of Australia’s Art Bank.

What’s an art bank?” I don’t hear you asking, “and is it subject to compound interest, i.e if I deposit a Clive McCartney on Monday, can I then withdraw a Jackson Pollock a few years later?

No, not quite, but not far off. It’s a collection of art, currently valued at around $38m, that can be leased by the general public and corporates for between $165 and $5,500 a year, subject to insurance, security and environmental measures. Nice idea, actually, and a great way to use taxpayer-generated capital in the absence of decent healthcare and education in the Northern Territory.

The most enlightening and unintentionally-funniest moment of the interview was when the curator was asked what the composition of his client base was. “Well“, he explained, “the Federal Government is our biggest client at around 30% of the revenue generated“.

Regular readers know where we’re going with this, let’s follow the money……

You, the taxpayer, trots off to work to do something productive and of use to someone else. From about Wednesday afternoon, most of what you earn is yours to keep and you may choose to spend this on non-essentials such as food, shelter or energy.

However, of the money you earn on Monday, Tuesday and the first half of Wednesday, a portion has been allocated to the Art Bank of Australia. They purchase art on your behalf and then use this to generate revenue by leasing pieces of art to clients. Except…. the main client is the government who, of course, use more of the fruits of your Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday labour to pay itself the lease fee.

It’s worse than that, obviously, as the curator didn’t mention what of the remaining 70% revenue is generated from State or local government departments. What’s the betting the total public sector revenue is greater than 50%?

The punchline of the entire interview was when the hapless civil servant described his department as a “business” and even had the chutzpah to add the words “self-funding” in the same sentence.

A quick lesson in business accounting for the employees of Art Bank Australia; if half of your revenue is generated internally, you aren’t running a business, you’re in the middle of a glorified Ponzi scheme at best but more likely you are the Australian equivalent of the Soviet Union car manufacturer.

No Gerard Hayes, just shut the fuck up

There are some commentators and spokesmen who have a right to a platform and then there are those with no moral base or credibility who should probably shut the fuck up for at least the next decade.

 

Anyone with Health Services Union Official on their CV is very firmly in the latter category. That means you, Gerard Hayes.

Gerard Hayes is a cunt

Two mildly important pieces of information to be offered here;

 

  1. The first ambulance was delayed because, for whatever reason, it went to the wrong gate on the wrong side of the stadium.
  2. Hughes’ fate was sealed the moment the ball compressed his artery. A further 1,000 ambulance staff based at St. Vincent’s Hospital would not have changed the outcome.

 

Meet Gerard Hayes, Australia’s Cunt of the Week.

Cunt of the week

No gold-plated redundancies at their ABC?

The normally objective commentator on this organ, AussiePride, steamed in to this post to defend the hard-working recyclers of purchased BBC content journalists at the ABC.

 

You’ll find most of the people who are losing their jobs at the ABC are the lowest paid contractors whose conditions are not just far from gold plated but also substantially lower than at their private sector equivalents.

 

Will I really, AussiePride, will I really?

 

A very quick MBA at the University of Google elicited this Enterprise Bargaining Agreement for staff employed by the ABC.

 

Redundancy terms are as follows;

ABC Rort

So, an employee with ten years’ service will receive 35 to 41 weeks’ pay, depending on how quickly they are walked off the premises after being told the news. In addition, the calculation is made not just on gross salary but also shift loading, relocation allowances, special payments and other bonuses, so can quickly rack up to a chunky figure regardless of the number of weeks’ paid.

 

By contrast, a car mechanic with similar longevity of service in New South Wales would receive 12 weeks’ pay. Almost a third of that of the vegan news crusaders speaking truth to power in Sydney’s inner west.

Redundant

Yes, let’s have a moment’s silence for Ultimo’s tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

 

By the way, if you’ve never had the pleasure of having to read an EBA, quickly scan down the document and reflect on the incredible charter for lawyers that is the Fair Work Australia Act 2009 and the subsequent millions of billable hours that have resulted in its passing into law.

 

Some examples?

 

Most of clause 55 – Redundancy. In other jurisdictions there is a national definition and case law which details the circumstances  in which a role is considered redundant. It doesn’t need to be, and indeed can’t be, re-litigated in a contract between an employer and employee unless it is massively advantageous to the employee and usually results in a confidentiality agreement to keep it quiet (I bet you can’t find details of a Goldman Sachs redundancy payment, for example).

 

All of clause 13 – Recruitment. What the hell is the recruitment policy doing in an employment contract?

 

In fact, about 95% of everything written in the EBA would be already covered by case law, a contract of employment or a range of corporate policies in most other countries I’ve worked in (including that Randian utopia, France).

 

If one were cynical of attitude and contemptuous of lawyers, union leaders and politicians and, worst still, lawyers who become union leaders and then politicians, one might suggest that the Fair Work Australia Act 2009 was passed by a bunch of self-serving parasites whose entire focus was to ensure continued billable work for their mates’ legal firms.

Craig’s Lists – little white lies

Hi there,

The previously honourable member for Dobell here again.

As you know, I’m a big fan of lists, and today I’d like to share a special list with you.

Life often presents us with choices and the correct path to choose isn’t always obvious. Situations are rarely black or white and we need to be comfortable with living with the grey.

It’s easy to judge someone on a percieved poor decision or an untruth told with a straight face. But remember back to your childhood and that important lesson about “little white lies”; those small acts of mendacity that are probably acceptable because they are well-intentioned and designed to protect someone dear to us.

I’m not afraid to admit that I’ve occasionally told the odd white lie here and there to protect someone special in my life….. me.

Therefore, here’s the list of my favourite little white lies;

1. The cheque is in the post.
2. No, your bum doesn’t look fat in that.
3. I have never slept with your sister.
4. Sure, I have genuine receipts for those expenses and the ATM withdrawal was made with a cloned card stolen (and subsequently replaced) from my hotel room.
5. Of course I won’t come in your mouth.
6. The empty cardboard box Santa Claus left you for Christmas is actually an Action Man deserter.
7. I always act with the best interests of my union’s members at heart.
8. The free U2 album that appeared in my iTunes is really rather good.
9. It’s all a big conspiracy.
10. I have never slept with prostitutes and I am prepared to state this live on national TV in Parliament and reiterate the point under oath in court.
11. I have the greatest confidence in my legal team and am looking forward to receiving a fully-suspended sentence.

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