NZD vs AUD

April 26th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Tony Alexander from BNZ writes:

Against the Australian currency the NZD has risen firmly in recent weeks and now sits at its highest level since October 2009. This movement upward from 80 cents a month ago is based upon a number of things. …

Third, the fiscal track in NZ is surprising on the positive side with revenue inflows running ahead of expectations this year. In contrast in Australia the Treasurer Wayne Swan has had to make a very embarrassing climb-down from his position that fiscal surplus would be achieved in 2013/14 no matter what. Now he speaks in terms of a surplus not appearing for many years. Commentators are noting that a Federal Labour government in Australia has not produced a surplus since 1989, there is growing criticism of the never-ending spending promises being made, and this week Standard and Poors warned that they could cut Australia’s rating in five years’ time.

That is a fascinating statistic. No surplus since 1989.

Fourth, Australia’s currency is more strongly assessed as being tied to growth prospects in China than the NZD.

Fifth, as China grows the expectation is that NZ will benefit more than Australia from here on out because of strong food demand compared with past strong demand for coal and iron ore.

Hopefully the demand will hold up. As unemployment in Spain hits 27%, Europe is going to remain a basket case for some time.

 

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No wonder the ACTU is worried

April 7th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

News.com.au reports:

THE Australian labour movement will wage a pre-emptive strike against the federal opposition as the election nears, ACTU boss Ged Kearney says.

This means spend a shitload of money. They’ll need to as the latest poll projects 109 seats for the Coalition and just 36 for Labor.

In a candid address to a NSW Teacher’s Federation conference in Sydney on Saturday, Ms Kearney indicated the ACTU was bracing for a coalition win on September 14 and a royal commission into union corruption.

That could be devastating for them.

“The royal commission is coming – because of the HSU, because of the whole slush fund stuff, they will come at us with lawyers and barristers and queen’s counsels and they will try to send us broke,” she said.

They should welcome a Royal Commission to clean their mess up.

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The trans-Tasman relationship

March 25th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Tracy Watkins at Stuff reports:

Seated across from each other in a New York restaurant they made for an unlikely couple.

On one side of the table was John Howard, one of Australia’s most successful prime ministers; darling of the political Right, bogeyman of the Left after taking the role as America’s deputy sheriff in the Pacific, and becoming the villain in the Tampa affair.

His lunch companion was Helen Clark, the socially liberal former New Zealand prime minister, a flag-flying Iraq war opponent, standard bearer for the Left-wing social democratic movement – and the woman who even now, four years on from losing the election, can spark visceral dislike among many on the Right.

Mates? Of course, says Howard, after they caught up recently for a chinwag in New York.

“We don’t just exchange Christmas cards.”

It reflects well on both Howard and Clark that they worked well together, despite being from different sides of the political spectrum.

 But historic and geographical ties have not always been enough to put the relationship on a friendly footing. Before Howard and Clark it was Lange and Hawke, Muldoon and Fraser. Tension, backstabbing, and suspicion reigned.

Fraser was an idiot, and Muldoon a bully. Hawke thought Lange was a flake, and he was right. There was also Bolger and Keating – Keating was just simply untrustworthy.

Gillard and Key, again polar opposites politically, have forged even stronger bonds than Clark and Howard.

Key says getting the personal dynamics in the relationship right is “critical”. With Gillard, it helps that their partners get on as well.

Once all the official business was out of the way during their two-day summit in Queenstown last month, Key and Gillard escaped to the exclusive Millbrook resort for dinner with partners Bronagh and Tim. They did the same in Melbourne last year.

“We have a no officials, casual dinner, have a drink together,” Key said.

A good relationship between leaders is no guarantee of success, but it is almost a precursor.

The big unknown is a possible Tony Abbott government – though he and Key have already struck up a good relationship, and speak to each other regularly.

Howard, meanwhile, is confident Abbot can only be good for New Zealand.

“He’s got a good start. His wife is a New Zealander.”

Heh, that may be useful.

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An Australian election calculator

March 19th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Antony Green has launched his 2013 election calculator. Antony is the premier election analyst in Australia.

It makes predictions for all 150 seats on the basis of either the swing or two party preferred vote. But it has some additional nifty features.

  • Can select the results from a recent poll
  • Can set individual swings for each state (and swings do not tend to be uniform across the country)
  • Can factor in retiring MPs
  • Can over-ride the projected result in a few marginal seats

On the latest (Neilsen) poll Labor is projected to lose 25 seats and win 47 while the Coalition is projected to gain 25 seats and win 98.

On the best poll to date for the Coalition, they would win 110 seats to 35 for Labor.

One can see why some of the Labor MP are thinking the unthinkable and Rudd may challenge again.

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Labor punished in Western Australia

March 10th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Normally Oppositions gain seats and Governments lose seats in elections. Not so in yesterday’s Western Australia election.

Of 59 seats, the 2008 election resulted in the Liberals had 24 seats, their partners in the Nationals had 4 seats, Labor had 28 seats and there were three Independents. The Liberals won the two-party preferred vote by 51.8% to 48.2%. So it was a Liberal minority government.

The Liberals have had an 8.8% increase in their primary vote and are projected to go from 24 seats to 33, making them a majority Government. The Nationals picked up one seat also so combined they will have 40 out of 59 seats – a two thirds majority. Labor have been slaughtered going from 28 to 19 seats. Such a slaughter is not unheard of for an incumbent Government (like in Queensland) but is even rarer for an opposition.

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Madness takes many forms

March 7th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Greg Ansley at NZ Herald reports:

Next week Daniel Nalliah will be taking his crusade against Muslim immigration and multiculturalism to the Australian Islamic Peace Conference at the Melbourne Showgrounds.

In the meantime he will be plugging democracy and the nation’s “Judeo-Christian heritage”, protecting the nuclear family, urging the pruning of big government and pushing for tax to be cut to the barest possible minimums.

Nalliah, a Sri Lankan-born fire and brimstone preacher who claims to have resurrected three people and to have been instructed to head down under by Jesus, is the leader of the nation’s newest political party.

Just another charlatan and mad fraudster.

He claimed Victoria’s disastrous Black Saturday fires was a retribution for the passage of new abortion laws, and lambasted Prime Minister Julia Gillard for “living in sin”

Yes Gillard should remain a virgin, as she is unmarried.

During the launch Nalliah called for the end of a multicultural Australia, a reduction in the intake of Muslim immigrants, and the defence of Judeo-Christian culture.

He is from Sir Lanka himself. I’d say if they are to reduce immigration, they should have started with him.

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The battle for West Sydney

March 5th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Greg Ansley reports at NZ Herald:

Prime Minister Julia Gillard is spending much of this week in western Sydney, trying to win back support in the vast suburbs of two million people that could destroy her Government in September. …

Chifley is one of Gillard’s key battlegrounds: it recorded an 11.6 per cent swing against Labor in 2010, and is now among a series of former blue-ribbon Labor seats under real threat of falling to the Opposition on September 14.

If polling is accurate, an exodus of voters across western Sydney could alone be sufficient to bring down the Government.

Losing West Sydney is like losing West Auckland for NZ Labour. They have nine seats at risk in Sydney, and they really can’t afford to lose any seats. They have 71 seats in Parliament and the Coalition has 72. They only remain in power through the Independents anyway.

What voters are making abundantly clear is that, at this stage at least, anything is better than Gillard: Abbott may also be heartily disliked, but a rush from Labor in the opinion polls points to a landslide for the Coalition..

The latest Morgan poll, reflecting recent findings by Newspoll and Nielsen, said the Opposition held a crushing 9 per cent lead in the two-party preferred vote that determines Australian elections.

New allegations about the depth of corruption involving former Labor ministers, rolling out daily from hearings at the state’s Independent Commission Against Corruption, continue to stain the party brand.

The level of corruption in Australian unions and Australian Labor is staggering. We have nothing like it (so far) in NZ. The Coalition have promised a judicial inquiry into union corruption if it wins the election.

News.com.au has a poll of 11 electorates in West Sydney:

If given the choice of four prime ministers, 39.2 per cent of voters would choose Mr Abbott, followed by Mr Rudd at 26 per cent, Malcolm Turnbull at 22.1 per cent, and Ms Gillard at just 13.2 per cent.

It is rare for an Opposition Leader to be ahead of an incumbent Prime Minister as Preferred PM. To be ahead in a Labour stronghold is even rarer.

If you add the two Liberals up they have 61% support and the two Labor contenders have 39%.

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Thoughts on the asylum seekers deal with Australia

February 12th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

A few thoughts:

  • Isn’t it amusing that when Helen Clark agreed to take some boat people who were seeking asylum in Australia she was lauded by the entire left for her humanitarian gesture yet when John Key agrees to do much the same, but annually, he is condemned by the exact same people. And yes, the Tampa refugees were treated as part of the quota also.
  • How can one criticize this deal for encouraging queue-jumping yet also advocate that Australia should resume onshore processing which has been shown to massively encourage boat voyages and queue jumping.
  • Personally I think there is a legitimate criticism that this deal may encourage queue-jumping, but probably not significantly enough to actually lead to a group of people deciding to make a boat voyage they otherwise would not have.
  • There is a surprising lack of sophistication in understanding our relationship with Australia is not purely a transactional one. The decision by the NZ Government helps Julia Gillard (and any successor)  in what is arguably her most difficult domestic issue. That will not be forgotten.
  • The notion that Australia bullied NZ into this is ridiculous. In fact as reported it was a NZ initiative
  • What is surprising is the lack of focus on a centre-right NZ PM helping out a centre-left Australian PM. It’s a nice example of not letting domestic politics interfere with having a strong relationship.
  • I’m surprised also no one has cottoned on to Gillard making an unprecedented early announcement of the election date, almost certainly being because Key the same thing in 2011.
  • Personally I think taking in refugees is one of the better things a country can do, so long as they are able to integrate well into their new country and that the level is sustainable. Note that Australia takes in 20,000 to our 750. I’d like that to increase at some stage in the future when our economy is stronger. But I think it is best increased through the UNHCR process, not through increasing the number in the bilateral agreement with Australia
  • You have to love Labour’s strong clear policy on this issue. They are outraged of course, but when asked what they would do, the answer is “Shearer said if elected, Labour would discuss the policy with Australia.” – you can’t make this stuff up.
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The Aus-NZ agreements

February 10th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Quite a few things announced by Gillard and Key in Queenstown. They are:

  • Joint action to address the high cost of mobile roaming rates between the two countries
  • an $8 million trial of fast‑track automated border technology for trans-tasman travel
  • Commencement of new retirement savings portability arrangements between Australia and New Zealand from 1 July 2013
  • Entry into force of the CER Investment Protocol from 1 March 2013
  • New Zealand has agreed to resettle 150 refugees who are subject to Australia’s offshore processing legislation, as part of their annual quota of 750 refugees
  • NZ$3 million in matched funding over two years to support trans-Tasman collaboration to identify potential vaccines for rheumatic fever
  • Investigate a possible reciprocal student debt recovery scheme.
  • An A$5 million memorial will be erected in Wellington’s National War Memorial park precinct by the Australian Government

 

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10 reasons NZ is better than Australia

February 7th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Colin Espiner writes in The Press ten reasons why he thinks NZ is better than Australia:

  1. We’re more friendly
  2. Small is beautiful
  3. Our houses are cheaper
  4. Our food and drink is better
  5. We love our indigenous culture
  6.  We’re not so uptight
  7. We’re more entrepreneurial
  8. There’s fewer things that can hurt or kill you
  9. Our TV’s better
  10. The weather

I’m sure there will be a variety of views on this one!

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Australian election date announced

January 31st, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

news.com.au reports:

THE issue of trust and economic management will emerge as the ultimate background areas in a super 10-month campaign that will leave no excuses for flimsy promises and plenty of time to trip, experts say.

And with both leaders painting the other as untrustworthy, voters should be prepared for the “liar” verses the “misogynist’.

Economic management, boats and the carbon tax will all feature heavily in the lead up to September 14, but political pundits say the overarching issue will be trust.

“The unpopularity of the two leaders will be the main talking point because most people will agree, both the leaders are very unpopular,” veteran election analyst Malcolm Mackerras said.

“I think it will be a nasty campaign.”

The broken carbon tax promise and inability to deliver a budget surplus was widely perceived to have left Labor’s reputation and economic policy in tatters, he said.

“They have established a general trust which the Labor party have failed to establish,” he said.

Sadly I think he is right, and it will be a pretty nasty campaign.

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The Australian heatwave

January 9th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

news.com.au reports:

Monday remains the hottest day since records began with an average maximum temperature across Australia of 40.33 degrees, beating the previous record of 40.17 degrees set in 1972, the Bureau of Meteorology’s David Jones told AAP.

And in one place:

The hottest place was Oodnadatta in South Australia 48.2 degree but temperatures well into the 40s were also recorded in South Australia, Western Australia, NSW and Queensland.

And at Bondi Beach, it was still 35 degrees at midnight, leading many to a midnight swim.

I like temperatures in the high 20s. I find that great. Low 30s can be okay but high 30s and even 40s is just plain nasty unless you are in water!

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Australia on ANZUS

January 1st, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Greg Ansley at NZ Herald reports on some interesting Australian views during the US and NZ stand off on nuclear ships.

“Several Nato and Asean countries have said to us that, while disturbed by New Zealand’s policies, they regard the Americans as having over-reacted and as running the risk of creating a ‘laager’ mentality in New Zealand,” it said.

This is basically correct. The NZ policy was wrong, yet the US reaction was over the top.

Canberra did not accept New Zealand’s belief that it was not affected by a global superpower threat and that regional security did not require a nuclear capability.

With more than 40 per cent of its combat ships nuclear-powered – and “almost all would assuredly be nuclear-capable” – the US could not be expected to maintain two navies, one for global security and another for regional stability.

A fair view.

The Cabinet was reminded that the (former) Soviet Union was trying to gain a foothold in the Pacific and had turned New Zealand’s policies to its propaganda advantage.

The USSR was delighted by the anti-nuclear policy. It weakened the western alliance, and gave them hope the West would crumble. As it turned out, it was the USSR which crumbled as it was unable to keep pace with the West.

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The trans-Tasman productivity report

December 13th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The recommendations from the joint report by the Australian and NZ productivity commissions are here. Some of the more significant ones are:

  • Mutual recognition of imputation credits (MRIC) would be expected to result in a more integrated capital market and improve trans-Tasman economic efficiency.
  • The prerequisite conditions for a trans-Tasman monetary union do not exist.
  • The Australian and New Zealand Governments should proceed with the implementation of a single application and examination process for patents.
  • The Australian and New Zealand Governments should waive CER Rules of Origin for all items for which Australia’s and New Zealand’s Most Favoured Nation tariffs are at 5 percent or less and  consider reducing any tariffs that exceed 5 percent to that level.
  • The Australian and New Zealand Governments should remove the remaining restrictions on the single trans-Tasman aviation market.
  • The Australian and New Zealand Governments should consider removing remaining restrictions on trans-Tasman foreign direct investment.
  • The Australian and New Zealand Governments should consider a ‘trans-Tasman tourist visa’ for citizens from other relevant countries who wish to travel to both countries.
  • The Australian Government should address the issues faced by a small but growing number of non-Protected Special Category Visa holders living long term in Australia, including their access to certain welfare supports and voting rights.

Many good proposals there.

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Australian excitement

December 10th, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

7 News reported:

A record number of New Zealanders are arriving in Australia, and thousands are doing it thanks to cash handouts from their own Government.

Umm, not thousands. Six people.

The outrageous unemployment policy is turning Australia into a dumping ground for the out-of-work Kiwis.

Yes those six extra Kiwis last year have grown the Australian population by 0.000027%. How will they cope.

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Australia objects to 129 new TLDs

November 23rd, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Australia’s government is lodging more warnings than any other government in the world against top level domain name applications, reinforcing its reputation as an over-regulator of the internet.

Out of 243 “early warnings” against domain applications, the Australian government lodged 129 - more than half.

The period of evaluation for applications for top-level domains began after Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) launched the new generic category in June.

Most of the objections are against generic terms, such as .food, .tennis or .books, where giving one company exclusive use of the domain would “exclude potential competitors” and allow that company to dominate the market.

129 objections is ridicolous. The Australian Govt is often regulation heavy when it comes to the Internet. Having said that there are legitimate issues with some applications such as do you let Amazon get .books which is a generic term?

Having said that, I note Amazon got famous as amazon.com and I don’t even know if there is a site called books.com – so a name is not as important as what you do with it.

However, the Department of Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) also objected to domains ending in fail, gripe, sucks and wtf (short for what the f–k?) because they are “overtly negative or critical connotation’. The government is concerned these domains could be used to damage individuals or organisations, for example www.labor.sucks or www.liberal.sucks, and force organisations into buying the website to avoid embarrassment.

Now that is just silly. People could get liberalsucks.com at the moment anyway.

Australia has a history of strict internet naming regulations, according Ms Carlsson. It is one of the only countries will only allow someone to purchase a .com.au domain if the name relates to their trading name, for example. In recent years Minister for Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy Stephen Conroy has been criticised for his proposal to introduce an internet filter.

By contrast co.nz has no restrictions on who can register there.

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Australian Growth

August 14th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Just been going through the GSP growth for the various Australian states. The data tells a real story of two Australias. The data I am using is seasonally adjusted state final demand, which is similar to our GDP or economic growth.

  • Western Australia 14.5%
  • Queensland 7.5%
  • Victoria 2.7%
  • South Australia 2.3%
  • NSW 1.9%
  • Tasmania -0.8

It would be worth remembering those massive differences when certain politicians bemoan the fact Australia’s growth is higher overall than in NZ, yet oppose New Zealand undertaking the activities that are fuelling the boom in WA and Queensland.

 

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Australian Super

July 4th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

One News reports:

 Thousands of New Zealanders with retirement savings stuck in Australia face an even longer wait to bring their money back home. 

The Australian Government is yet to pass legislation allowing Kiwis who have worked across the ditch to access money saved under their compulsory superannuation scheme in New Zealand.

This is despite the New Zealand and Australian government signing a reciprocal superannuation agreement three years ago.

Returned ex-pat David Buckingham has been fighting politicians from both sides of the Tasman to access his superannuation funds. 

He said his funds are being eaten up by fees and wants to see the money put toward supporting his young family. 

“I’ve got a lot of super sitting in Australia and I worked hard over there and 9% of my income went into these funds,” he said. 

The Australian Superannuation scheme has been compulsory for the last 20 years, meaning any New Zealander who has worked there since the early 1990s is likely eligible for a pay-out.  

More than $16 billion of retirement savings are locked up in so-called lost super accounts in Australia, and a fair chunk of it belongs to Kiwis.

Finance Minister Bill English remains confident the Australian Government will pass the legislation next year, nearly four years after New Zealand passed similar legislation.

“There’s a lot of Kiwis who have actually got quite large superannuation balance and their ability to bring them back to New Zealand might make it more likely they will come back,” he said.

Ever since the Paul Keating days, I’ve never entirely trusted Australian Governments. Hopefully they will legislate as promised, but the delay is suspicious.

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Throwing out a policy that worked

June 27th, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

This graphic is from Andrew Bolt. It shows that the Howard Govt policy on deterring boat people was a stunning success, and the Labor Government’s changes entirely coincide with a massive explosion in boat people numbers. So when they drown at sea, it is because the previous policy of deterrence was dispensed with.

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Now job growth is a bad thing

April 19th, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

I thing politics has got to a farcical level when the Opposition complain about jobs moving from Australia to New Zealand. The SMH reports:

HUNDREDS of Australian jobs have been shifted to New Zealand as local producers try to avoid the impact of high wages, a soaring Australian dollar and restrictive labour laws.

Woolworths is the latest to transfer jobs across the Tasman. It transferred 40 contact centre jobs to Auckland this week. Imperial Tobacco has also announced it will move cigarette manufacturing from Sydney to New Zealand.

The companies are following in the footsteps of the food production industry, which has been shifting jobs out of Australia to take advantage of New Zealand’s lower wages.

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Heinz Australia recently scrapped more than 300 jobs across three states in favour of its large plant in Hastings, New Zealand’s largest food processing and food producing centre.

The International Labour Organisation says Australian manufacturing workers earned more than $US35 an hour in 2008. In New Zealand the rate is under $US20 an hour.

Average weekly earnings for manufacturing workers in Australia are higher than those in Canada, Britain, New Zealand and the United States, says a study which put Australian earnings at more than $1000 a week, versus about $700 in NZ.

Now Labour for four years has gone on about jobs. It has said that the number one priority must be more jobs. If you try to discuss welfare reform, they say “what about the jobs”. No matter what the issue, they say “what about the jobs”.

So what do they say to jobs moving from Australia to New Zealand:

“Labour does not want New Zealand to become Australia’s Mexico, yet with lower value jobs such as making cigarettes that is exactly what is happening.

“Bill English has been misdirecting his energy on praising the advantages of low wages to attract Australian jobs rather than coming up with real ideas to grow the economy.

“There are record numbers of Kiwis leaving for Australia. They are not going so they can work in call centres or cigarette-making factories,” David Parker said.

This is just bullshit elitism, that must be unique to the Wellington beltway. Go out to a provincial town with high unemployment and tell them that a job in a call centre is not worth having, and they should remain on welfare.

Anyone who buys into this sort of bullshit is seriously out of touch with reality, and reflects more their elitist views.

They are also economically ignorant also. If you argue against Australian companies creating jobs in New Zealand because our wages are lower, you don’t understand the basics of supply and demand. Remember it is the market which broadly sets wages – not Goverments.

Now if you have more jobs created in New Zealand, it increases the supply of jobs. What does increasing the supply do? It pushes wages up. Just as when the supply of jobs diminishes, then wages drop or at least do not increase in real terms.

Next time Labour complains about unemployment, remember how they think some jobs are not worth having. They’d rather people be on welfare than working in call centres.

As for closing the wage gap with Australia. There is only one sustainable way to do that – greater productivity including labour productivity. The very thing that Labour is fighting against at the Ports of Auckland, where the union is striking rather than accepting a 10% pay increase in return for greater labour productivity.

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Guest Post: Kiwis in Australia

April 16th, 2012 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

A guest post by Peter Freedman:

When last counted, more than 500,000 Kiwis were living in Australia. Why do so many of us fly across the Tasman to live in the camp of our bitterest sporting rival?

I can’t answer for the other 499,998, but here is why Mr and Mrs Freedman, Sacha, the huntaway and Sunny the Golden Labrador became Australian residents.

BTW it is bloody expensive flying a dog across the ditch, far more expensive than flying yourself. The two dogs travelled in the same plane as we did and it was uncanny to listen to Sunny barking her head off as we taxied down the runway.

A main reason we chose Brisbane was because of the weather. We were sick to death of grey Wellington days and rainy southerly blows.

Not that it doesn’t rain here, but at least it is warm rain. To date we have escaped the floods – at one stage we thought about living in Ipswich, but changed our minds, thank goodness.

Brisbane has hot, rainy summers and warm, dry winters. So far the temperatures we have experienced have ranged from around 22 degrees (when true Queenslanders complain about the cold and reach for their long johns) through to 38 degrees, which is bloody hot. When it is that warm Queenslanders grab for a beer and head for the beach.

The lifestyle is great in Queensland. It is so laid back you sometimes have to give a Queenslander a kick to ensure he is still breathing.

The populace is generally welcoming. Get ready to be continually calling “darling” “sweetie” and “love” by the women behind the counter.

We had been here less than a day when a supermarket staffer kept calling me “darling”. Carolyn looked at me sideways with a quizzical “I know he can be a fast worker, but surely not THAT fast”.

They are also very generous. The first Easter we were here, the Commonwealth Bank stuffed up our payments and left us with no money. Cheekily, I went next door and asked a guy I had never met whether he could tide us over for the long weekend.

“No trouble.” He grinned , taking out his wallet. “A hundred be enough?”

I offered Carolyn’s engagement ring as security.

“What would I do with that?” my new mate laughed. “Just pay me back when you can.” We did.

Also Queensland is wonderfully egalitarian. I haven’t seen a Ferrari or a Rolls Royce in two years. A few Porsches and BMWs, but most Bananalanders drive good ordinary cars.

The cost of living is cheaper than NZ in many areas. You can buy a loaf of bread for $1 and two litres of milk for $2. Bananas are cheap except during the floods when the price rocketed to $13.99 a kilo. You can now buy a kilo for 99c in some fruit shops.

Not that Queensland doesn’t have its faults. There are some right wierdos here. When we arrived we bought a car from a great guy in Kingston, between Br isbane and Beenleigh, where we live. Later we decided to trade down to something smaller and naturally went back to the same place.

But our guy had gone and been replaced by Abbott and Costello. They made an offer for the car, then toddled off for a few minutes. When they came back they pretended never to have met us.

“What car? Who are you people? Why do you think we have seen you before?”

Police can be a problem, as I think I have mentioned.

But the fauna is wonderful. To wake up at around 4am to the sound of kookaburras, to see cockatoos and even the occasional koala in the trees is a magical experience.

And sport is everywhere. As a kiwi who has adopted Australia and has no intention of returning, I support Australian teams so long as they are not playing Kiwis. With one exception.

I will never, ever, support the Australian cricket team.

Everything has its limits.

I have a t-shirt that says “I support two teams – New Zealand and anyone playing Australia”. I now make an exception for when Australia plays against the English rugby team.

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Guest Post: A Pyrrhic Victory

April 4th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

A guest post by Peter Freedman:

Can Do Campbell Newman has a huge problem with his enormous victory in the Queensland State election. He now has to try and keep 78 ambitious politicians in line when many of them must know they will be one term wonders. Everyone will want a job and those who end up being about as active as the guys who are doing some sort of road works at the end of our street and have been doing whatever it is for almost two years now will be mischief makers.

The LNP will have to hire the Gabba for the caucus meetings while Labor can have theirs in a phone box.

Labor has hit rock bottom and their only way now is up.

The result is typical of the sort of outcome you get with an FPP system.. There are no winners, practically no Opposition and all Campbell’s little puppies will be pooping on the floor and weeing on the carpet.

Can Do was a major in the Army and was nicknamed Noddy because he got up to a few tricks. He is also an authoritarian who doesn’t listen to anyone and expects everybody to have their kit spick and span and their gear in pristine order.

His attempt to keep his huge team under control promises to be an interesting sight.

Campbell will indeed have no effective opposition from other parties, so the opposition will come from within his own party. I know from experience of National’s 1990 landslide win, that some of your new MPs are not that well suited to be MPs. In seats that you never expected to win, the nomination often goes to whomever wants it. So Campbell will have some difficult MPs to deal with.

The good news for him though it that short of being found to be having an incestous affair with four nuns, Campbell will get a second term. Even a third term at this stage looks likely as Labor will need a lot of time to go from seven MPs to the 45 needed to govern.

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The great Queensland massacre

March 25th, 2012 at 11:22 am by David Farrar

Two seats are still in doubt, but they will not change the scale of the slaughter in Queensland. Labor were hoping to retain at least 20 seats, but they look to have gone from 51 seats to seven seats.  This means they do not automatically get recognised as an official party in the Queensland Parliament, with access to offices, staff and resources.

The LNP will have 78 out of 89 seats. Bob Katter’s Australia Party got two, and others got two.

In terms of primary vote Labor dropped 15.7% to 26.6% – around what NZ Labour got in our 2011 election. Instant run-off voting is harsher on losing parties, than MMP is.

The LNP got a very high 49.7% primary vote.  The Katter Party got 11.6% – more than the Greens on 7.6%.

Too early to know the two party preferred results but it may be over 60% for the LNP. Commentators have said that many of those who defected from Labor to Katter did not rank any candidate beyond their first, so their votes were exhausted, rather than preference back to Labor.

Labor look to be in opposition for at least two, maybe three, elections in Queensland (unless some major scandal).  They ran a dirty negative campaign against new Premier Campbell Newman, with former Premier Anna Bligh even declaring he will end up in jail over his business dealings.

Federal Labor also look set next year to run a similar campaign. Their only slogan will be to stop Tony Abbott. When Rudd challenged for the leadership, that was all he could talk about.

I saw concession speeches by Anna Bligh and Kate Jones (who lost her seat to Newman). Both seemed to me to be quite arrogant and defiant, with little of the contrition you would expect for such a massacre.  Left politicians always seem to retreat into talk of how proud they are of their values, as if other politicians are not. Jones was thought to be a potential replacement for Bligh, but is now out of Parliament. She is fairly typical of modern politics – elected at age 27 after working as a media advisor to two Ministers, and married to Bligh’s former media advisor. These career politicians tend to be very skilled at politics, but do not always have a lot of experience of the world outside politics.

The next elections in Australia are Northern Territory by August 2012 and ACT in October 2012 but hey are  of little importance. The only state election before the federal election is Western Australia in March 2013. The Liberal Party is currently 18% ahead of the Labor opposition there so a change of Govt is unlikely.

The vote in Queensland was primarily on state issues, but the scale of it will have Labor nervous, especially with NSW having had such a strong result also. If this sort of swing happened in the federal election, even Kevin Rudd would lose his safe seat.

Tony Abbott was on TV this morning saying that the Coalition will repeal the carbon tax, no buts and no ifs. When asked about the Senate, he said that he doubts Labor will want to be punished twice over the carbon tax but if they blocked it in the Senate he would do a double dissolution election.

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A Katter amongst the pigeons

March 13th, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Guest Post by Peter Freedman:

It had to happen. Sooner or later Bob Katter would do something absolutely tasteless, totally without any merit of any kind, to try to win votes in the Queensland State election.

Katter is a sort of Australian Winston Peters. He has been in politics for yonks and recently formed his own party. He called it the Australia Party, then decided a more humble The Katter Party sounded better and tried to delay the entire election while the change was made. He lost that round.

Now he has come up with this ad:

http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/state-election-2012/newman-to-prioritise-fair-dinkum-normal-families-20120312-1utcj.html

For those who can’t get to the link, the ad about is the attitude of opponent, Liberal leader Campbell Newman, over gay marriage.  It repeats the same clip of Newman saying he supports gay marriage, interspersed with a pixelated pic of two apparently naked men being friendly, but not THAT friendly.

The ad asks: “Is a vote for Campbell Newman a vote for gay marriage?” The answer to that incredibly complex question will come later.

On the surface it is just a grubby tasteless ad, the sort that has become a part of modern politics. Sigh at the drop in standards and move on.

Yet this ad has caused a huge kerfuffle in Australia! You would think The Governor General had been snapped performing oral sex on the Prime Minister, while the entire Australia cricket team stood admiringly waiting their turn.

Yes, this is a strange country. The GG, Quentin Bryce, is actually a female.  Ask that question at your next trivia night.

But the reaction to this ad is probably the strangest I have seen since arriving in Australia. Everyone is talking about it. Still worse I can’t find anyone who is defending it, except Bob K himself of course. And me.

The ad, while perhaps disgusting and offensive to some, is true. Newman DOES support gay marriage. The pic of the two men is not indecent, the pixels cover their chests, FFS, and the shot stops well before the dangly bits.

Isn’t this ad just another example of free speech?

Not if you believe last night’s Q and A on the ABC.  There were five people on the panel, an Aboriginal leader, a bright young Labor Cabinet minister, an elderly weather beaten farming leader, a cocky youthful feminist writer and a Liberal MP who wants to be the party leader but dare not say so. A more diverse mob would be hard to find.

Yet they all agreed. Katter’s ad should be banned. It demonized gay people, it was homophobic and deeply objectionable. Throw it on the fire, I say!

But wait, there’s more. Australia’s third most rightwing columnist, Andrew Bolt, the same gentleman so adored by Australia’s fourth most rightwing columnist, Janet Albrechtsen, wants the ad banned as well. Or so the feminist writer said.

Bolt’s blog is here:

http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/katter_disgraces_himself/

Nowhere that I can find does he call for a ban. But he clearly didn’t like the advertisement, terms like “a vile ad, openly and shamelessly appealing to homophobia” tend to give that impression.

Unfortunately for his credibility, Bolt has been openly and shamelessly appealing to the worst of human nature for years.  This man has been openly and shamelessly in and out of court so often there’s talk of providing a revolving door marked “Andrew Bolt Entrance” on one side and “Andrew Bolt Exit” on the other.

Bolt is a “Stolen Generation” denier. Despite all the historical documentation he continues to claim that large numbers of black kids weren’t snatched from their families to be placed with white families. He once asked a professor to provide “just 10 names” of stolen kids.  When the prof produced four pages of names, Bolt still remained unconvinced.

Then he defamed a magistrate, claiming she had hugged two drug traffickers as she set them free.  The magistrate said she shook their hands to congratulate them for completing a rehab programme and a jury believed her. Bolt got it wrong because he couldn’t be bothered contacting the magistrate for her side of the story, one of the first things I learned when I became a journalist. It is called “balance” or “getting both sides”.

That little mishap cost Bolt, or his employers, $246,000 in damages.

Then in late 2010, Bolt was sued by seven people for a series of columns claiming white people in Australia sometimes pretend to be black for political or career advancement. Again he was found to have broken the law. Fortunately for his employers the seven only wanted their names cleared and sought no money .

Every time he is criticized Bolt falls back on his rights  of free speech.  But isn’t Bob Katter’s ad free speech? Apparently not.

I am of Jewish ancestry. If a Nazi in full uniform marched up and down a public spot yelling  “Sieg Heil” I wouldn’t stop and offer him some matzo ball soup.  But I would believe he had a right to make a dick  of himself, whether  beschnittener or unbeschnittener. It’s called free speech.

“I disapprove of what you say, but will defend with my life your right to say it” – Though these words are regularly attributed to Voltaire, they were first used by Evelyn Beatrice Hall, writing under the pseudonym of Stephen G Tallentyre in The Friends of Voltaire (1906).

 “Where they burn books, they will ultimately burn people also”  Henrich Heine,99 years before the Nazis came to power.

 Think about it.

For the record I do not agree with what Peter has said on Andrew Bolt.  Nowhere has Bolt said the ad should be banned (as noted) so there is no issue of consistency. I would have thought Peter would welcome the leading conservative commentator in Australia saying “But to oppose civil unions is just bloody-minded interference in the lives of others”.

There is also another side of the story on the issues cited about Bolt. For example the debate about the stolen generation wasn’t whether or not lots of Aboriginal children were not put into white families. It was about how many were taken without the consent of a parent, and where there was no abuse – which is far fewer number.

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Queensland Police

March 9th, 2012 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

A guest post by Peter Freedman:

When I told them I was moving to Queensland, all my Bananaland mates, includung the conservatuves, had one piece of advice: Watch out for the Queensland Police.

“They’re aggressive, unpleasant, corrupt and a pack of bastards” one wrote me. And he is a policeman!

Since then I have had three meetings with the Maroons in blue.

No1: Shortly after we arrived in Brisbane, my teenage granddaughter and two of her mates asked me to take them to Subway for lunch. The carpark was tight and slightly uphill. Backing out, my towbar accidentally touched the bumper of the car behind.

I got out, spoke to the other driver who inspected his car and declared there was no damage done. We shook hands and were both about to leave when some scruffy character in jeans and a sweat shirt demanded to see my licence. He was a plainclothes policeman, he claimed, flashing a gun and a warrant card.

And so he was. He breathalysed me and warned that, technically, I was an unlicensed driver (a NZ licence is valid in Australia for only four months).

The other driver intervened, saying that no damage had been done, and was warned he would be arrested. Finally, unable to catch me for anything, the officer stalked away.

No 2: My wife and I drove north of Brisbane to Gympie, a pleasant little town a couple of hours away. We found a restaurant and settled in for lunch (I was then thrown out for not wearing shoes, but that’s another story). We settled in at a second eating place where the staff didn’t care whether I was barefoot or not.

We had a Leisurely meal, with a cocktail to start and shared a bottle of wine. Then started to drive back into town.

On a four lane motorway. most of it very straight, my wife was pulled over for exceeding the speed limit. Speed limits in Queensland are crazy, one moment the limit can be 120kph, then 100, then 110, then back to 120 again.

The cop declared my wife was just under the limit, but still required her to travel with him to the cop shop for a blood test. I was left to follow them in our car. Interestingly Mr Plod never asked ME if I had been drinking or even if I had a licence.

I gave up trying to keep in touch with his police car, which weaved among the traffic, sometimes excdeeding 140kph.When I finally found the police station this prick was waiting for me, demanding to know why I took so long. When I told him, he shouted: “Nonsense, you don’t know you’re talking about.” He then demanded I not come on to police property!

As soon as he had disappeared inside I went hunting for a superior officer and found a very friendly acting Senior Sergeant who took my complaint.

Leaving the station, I bumped into the Senior Constable again.

“Your wife was very lucky,” he snarled, “She was just under the limit.”

“Well, you’re not so lucky,” I replied, “I have just laid a complaint about you.”

“Won’t do you any good. We’re bulletproof,” he boasted back. He then refused to show me his warrant card and when I tried to shake hands with him asked me: “Why should I shake hands with the likes of you?”

It took several weeks for my complaint to be acknowledged. Then I received a curt letter saying it had been investigated, no further action would be taken, and the matter was closed.

I wrote back, stating it was far from closed. I asked how the investigation was conducted, who was interviewed and why I was not spoken to by the investigators. I received back a second copy of the first letter.

Weeks later, someone apparently decided this was not quite good enough and wrote to me again. This time I was told the constable had been interviewed, my wife questioned (she was sitting in the back of the car and had no idea how fast it was going). The letter then said the constable could not possibly have been speeding if you compared the distance he travelled with the time he had taken.

This evidence, of course demonstrates only the average speed, part of the journey was through a built up area!

No 3: I was stopped by a cop, a good one this time, for having expired registration (“rego” , of course in Australia). He approached me armed with a large screwdriver…..

Having yet to become used to police carrying guns, I had this vision of being stabbed to death, rather than shot down. But no, all he wanted to do was to remove the number plates. It cost me $750 in fines, another $350 to reregister the car, plus $70 for the Australian equivalent of a WOF.

The policeman also mentioned I was an unlicensed driver and to “get that fixed some time”.

Cripes, this is a crazy country!

I must say that I often think we don’t realise how lucky we are with our Police.

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