24 August 2009

The Oval's dust turns to ashes...

A glorious spell of seam bowling on a rain affected pitch by English all-rounder Stuart Broad that cleaned up the cream of the Australian batting on the second day of the fifth test at the Oval, has won the match and the Ashes series for England 2-1.

Over night the improbable rearguard second innings fightback by Ponting's team petered out when a couple of incomprehensible run outs in the middle order took the heart out of the Australian batting again.

Australian men expect of each other that we resolutely stand by our unspoken code that none of us should ever publicly concede to an opponent that they have succeeded in efforts to inflict pain on us.

So here's the best I can muster in the circumstances: Well done England. Well done Andrew Strauss. A great series. You only won narrowly you Pommy bastards. We'll be back.

18 August 2009

How does it feel?

Shouldn't Barack, Bob and that boy in blue now be sharing a bong in the White House?

You know, to give us all a "teachable moment" in peaceful coexistence ?

Lid dip: The Huffington Post

16 August 2009

Anthropogenic tectonic plate shift alert

Outcomes from computer modelling of continental drift by scientists working for internationally accredited organisations have recently revealed yet another imminent threat to the world we live in from industrialised society: Anthropogenic Continental Drift .

It is now plain that the millions of drill holes oil & gas and mining corporations have sunk into the Earth's crust to search for or exploit fossil fuels, minerals and metals over recent centuries, have now accumulated to such an extent that they seriously imperil the delicate balance of the Earth's tectonic plates by undermining their geological stabilty.

The consequences of this folly could be devastating: earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, sea level rises, civil disorder, community dislocation, habitat destruction, property damage and loss of confidence in government.

We must do something. Now. If we sit back and do nothing about this we, and our children and our children's children, are doomed . The rate of drift will inevitably accelerate bringing untold catastrophe ever closer with every new hole that's drilled into the Earth's crust. The reckless pursuit of wealth by capitalists in the West who continue to seek to mine our planet's natural resources for their own enrichment, is undermining our very existence.

We need a United Nations resolution calling for a moratorium on all drilling in Western nations now. To settle for anything less would be a moral travesty of the highest order.

Lid dip: The People's Cube.

Labor changes its mind on election... again

Its been harder than usual recently to keep up with what Kevin wants us all to think.

Kevin's usually reliable communication conduit to his people, political correspondents at Fairfax, have been sending out quite conflicting messages from one day (hour?) to the next the last few days.

After the Labor Government's "Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme" bill (a scheme formerly known as an "emissions trading scheme") was defeated in the Senate on Thursday 13 August, when all the Coalition, Green and independent senators combined to vote against it, there was a real whiff of politics in the air. A major piece of Government legislation had been defeated. The main issues appeared to be:

  • If the same bill is presented to the Senate again and rejected again after 3 months (ie after mid-November 09) then that would then give the Government grounds to call a double dissolution election.

  • The CPRS bill also had tacked onto it a piece of renewable energies targeting and incentives legislation that all sides of politics support, but which sank with the bill.

Here's what Fairfax have published on this so far this weekend:

FRIDAY, 14 August:

Kate Hannon: "Govt refuses to 'split' climate bills" ...

"Labor has rebuffed calls from opposition parties and industry to allow a separate vote on renewable energy targets (RET) in parliament next week. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on Friday said he did not have the "slightest intention" of calling an early election but wanted the emissions trading scheme (ETS), with the RET included, dealt with later this year... ... despite speculation the government was considering re-introducing the RET section of the bills next week, Mr Rudd and the office of Climate Change Minister Penny Wong poured cold water on the idea, saying they intended to take all 11 bills back to the Senate in November." [emphasis added]

AAP: "Rudd denies he's considering early poll" ...

"... Kevin Rudd has emphatically denied he is considering an early election. "I have not the slightest intention of going to an early poll," he told Fairfax radio on Friday. Mr Rudd rejected as "absolutely" untrue suggestions the government was playing politics with its emissions trading scheme - rejected by the Senate on Thursday - by using it to force a double dissolution and an early election.." [emphasis added]

Phil Coorey: "Time bomb for Turnbull" ...

"The waiting game will force the Government to drop its tactic of linking the bill to legislation mandating that 20 per cent of electricity be generated from renewable sources by 2020. The Government had linked the two to try to get the emissions trading scheme through. The tactic created uncertainty and anxiety in the renewable energy sector, and pressure is now growing for the renewable energy bill to be separated and passed next week. A Government source said this was likely, as the threat of a double dissolution now existed. ''We need to get this scheme up, and we need the threat to get that.'' [emphasis added]

Things must have changed overnight, because here's what Fairfax were telling us the next day (possible after reading a contradictory story in a competing News Ltd paper?) :

SATURDAY 15 August:

AAP " Rudd to call Turnbull's bluff on ETS" ...

"Mr Rudd is expected to agree on Sunday to a demand that he split the legislation package into two separate bills, News Limited reports. The legislation will be split into one bill which forces energy intensive industries to meet renewable energy targets and the other that will set the ETS into action. "... [emphasis added]

How to make sense of all this? One day Fairfax report the PM saying that it was "absolutely untrue suggestions that the Government was playing politics" with its ETS, and yet here they were the very next day reporting in the above article that:

"Mr Rudd's move is reportedly an attempt to embarrass the coalition into passing in full the government's climate change legislation which is blocked in the Senate."

And then on

SUNDAY 16 August:

Josh Gordon in the Sun-Herald reports:

" Labor's election warning": ...

..."With an early election still a possibility, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's chief of staff, Alister Jordan, yesterday summoned 30 ministerial chiefs of staff to Parliament House for a secret election planning meeting... It is believed Labor is now moving into a new, more aggressive phase in preparing for the next election, with an early poll still a possibility. Labor also wants to exert maximum pressure on Mr Turnbull after his refusal to support the Government's emissions trading legislation"... [emphasis added]

But then at 10.40 am on Sunday the SMH website reports:

APP "No interest in early election: Gillard"

"The federal government is not interested in going to an early election, Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard says..." [emphasis added]

Am I the only one getting mixed messages from Fairfax about my Government's intentions here?

  • The Government is/isn't looking for a double dissolution ?
  • The Government will/won't split the CPRS Bill ?

There could even be an opportunity for a decent journalist to write a story about how the Government is looking indecisive and divided on how to approach these two issues. There would of course be the risk to Fairfax that it could jeopardise its peerless ability to get the inside line on what the government is thinking. But then again, that hasn't been all that helpful this time. After all News Limited appear to have scooped Fairfax on at least one of the government's backflips on this over the weekend.

And could this also be starting to look a bit like Gordon Brown in the UK last year when he flew an election kite for a while before reeling it in when he lost his nerve. I'm not sure that worked out real well for him.

There does appear to be an opportunity to hold the Government to account here for spooking the horses. Isn't that's what serious journalists are supposed to do? (hold governments to account that is; not spook horses.)

Post Script:

Even if the government gets its double dissolution trigger in mid November, how can this give it enough time to realsitically call an election before Christmas? Even a very short 4 week campaign would see the election in the week before Christmas. The conventional wisdom is that if you call an election too close to Christmas the electorate punishes you. So electoral punishment would seem inevitable if they use this bill as the trigger for an election this year.

I reckon the earliest we can expect a Federal election is March 2010.

15 August 2009

The Poms blink.

This is a minor update and premature gloat on developments in the current Ashes series in England.

The Third Test was a pretty tame draw, due mostly to English wet weather (which doesn't seem to have changed all that much afterall). Michael Clarke did score a classy second innings century to make the game safe for Australia, but it will otherwise be a forgotten match.

The Fourth Test at Headingly in Yorkshire resulted in Australia inflicting a crushing innings defeat on England. There have been two main reactions from the English:

Firstly, the fickle and superficial British press have suddenly and savagely turned on their own. Their batsmen are now apparently too fragile for Test cricket and their bowlers inept under pressure. Yeah, I know, it's a return to situation normal for the English press, and we are reminded yet again that they know not the meaning of steadfastness, nor dignity under fire; but how quick was that?

Secondly, there is the betrayed hero: Freddy Flintoff. This story line has been trotted out to salve wounded pride and sell pommy papers. It seems England also lost because their limping and now retiring champion, Lancashire allrounder Flintoff, was not selected for the match, even though he had told his captain and manager that he could play. Oh please! How can anyone seriously buy this bill of goods after all the blather about him carrying his injury wracked body beyond human limits in the previous Tests? This truly is a sentimental pommy whinge on a grand scale.

Finally, there is now the delicious prospect next week of the Fifth Test at the Oval in London, with the teams at one match a piece. But there is a minor issue niggling away at me in the lead up to this match: the likelihood of the rough treatment that the Australian selectors are to mete out to Stuart Clark, the Trojan seam bowler who played such an instrumental role in breaking through the English batting in his return from injury in the Fourth Test. Amazingly it seems the selectors seem likely to leave him out of the Fifth Test, because they reckon Johnson, Siddle and Hilfenhaus are better credentialled as fast bowlers, and that they need their sole spinner, Hauritz to take the fourth bowler slot.

Selectors aren't doing their job if they can't make tough choices when picking Australian Test teams. But this isn't even all that tough. Neither Johnson nor Siddle are well suited to these seaming English pitches and both of them have struggled for extended periods in the first four Tests. Just drop one of them for Clark. His record against England speaks for itself and any decent judge of the game will tell you he is in the ideal Terry Alderman/Mike Hendrich "line and length" mould for English conditions. Dear God if Mitchell Johnson's sensitive ego is too fragile to deal with the disappointment of being dropped, then just dump Siddle, who seems to be a robust and resilient enough character to take such a minor setback in his stride.

Australia's bowling attack would then consist of two "hit the deck" speedsters: Johnson and Watson, two canny seamers: Clark and Hilfenhuas, and the finger spin of Hauritz with occasional back up from Michael Clarke and Kattich. Not that shabby.

Roll on Thursday night.