Friday, February 08, 2013

Go north, and please remember to take Canberra with you ...

(Above: a couple of discussion starters for the rising generation, who've been rising for a century or more).

A couple of things need to be said up front.

The pond has done as much as it can humanly and humanely do in relation to drugs in blogging, but of course we can always do more. Any recent visitor to a defined loon site will immediately be swabbed.

You can tell someone's been affected by their gait and the slur in their voice, much as you could guess that the bizarre behemoth shape of footballers suggested East German techniques played a hand.

Now let's not say anything more about it, or the matter of drugs in sport in Australia, because everyone else is, and most of them must have been blind Freddy, and now they can see.

Secondly, it's impossible for the pond to discuss the forced re-location of people (yes public servants are people too) to the north to defend it against the impending invasion by the yellow peril, because it would involve a serious, perhaps grave, breach of a sub-section of Godwin's Law.

It's a little known fact that references to Stalin are covered by the Law, and of course the megalomaniac dictator, with a yen for government diktat, was fond of moving people all over the place - if not into the grave, then certainly to Siberia (naturally there's a wiki on the subject of forced migration and forced relocation here).

Now it might be argued that Darwin isn't Siberia but there are many who would understand that the distinction mainly has to do with the weather. Certainly, a shot or two of vodka (with a twist please waiter) helps the more tender public servant survive both places.

Naturally that old Fairfax socialist turned free market Milton Friedman - Ross Gittens - took a childish, petulant view, because he simply lacks the vision.

Destined to be a failure, he furiously scribbled, which led to an equally harsh headline, Tropical tax zone plan destined to be a grand failure (along of course with a forced video).

The man simply lacks the grand vision, the sweep of a Napoleon sending people hither and yon at beck and call, all for the construction of a bigger, better pyramid (and to keep those invading Asians out).

The man babbled on and on about socialist dreamings:

Northern Development is not a new idea, it's an old, discredited one, brought to us by the same people who wanted to turn back the rivers and who wasted millions on the Ord River dam in the Kimberleys, then built an unneeded railway from Alice Springs to Darwin that has always run at a large loss. 
It's a close relative of the dreams of building a multifunctionpolis in South Australia and establishing ''growth centres'' at places like Bathurst-Orange. It's the 1950s dream of ''decentralisation''. 
It would be very hard to organise, facing constitutional and other legal barriers, active resistance from public servants and the need for huge monetary incentives to induce people to take part. On the experience of all previous such exercises, it would be a grand failure.

Oh dear, is there anything crueller you can add?

It would be the party of choice and free enterprise engaged in a massive exercise in social engineering.

Social engineering! Why that sounds dangerously close to socialism and a five year plan!

Naturally the pond went in search of the commentariat who would stand by the dream, who would assert the right of government to dictate to private individual lives, who would claim that it was necessary for the future of the nation for the government to intervene in this bold way. A kind of Arbeit Abbott Macht Frei, if you like (ouch, does that mean a triple GL penalty?)

Naturally the first response in the lizard Oz was considered and objective. None of this crazy talk about crazy. The statesman was considering:

Yes, these days you cop a paywall and a forced video at the lizard Oz. (here if you dare)

Naturally Barners was front and centre:

“A rebate scheme is not changing the tax rate,” Senator Joyce said. 
“It is a compensatory mechanism to make up for the fact that people live at a disadvantage in an area. It's completely legitimate”

Yep, the logic of an addled pea.

But at least now we can see that the Libs have been careful to keep their policies under lock and key, since Barners wondered in the same breath how disadvantaged the north, and places like Darwin might be (you can easily get vodka at a reasonable price) ...

Happily the Bolter was first to fall into line, what with being close to Gina and all, and thought it was all spiffingly splendid:

If it can be done, and makes economic sense, it seems just the kind of vision this country needs - spending billions not on overpriced school halls but a new zone of development (Go North)

Yes, who needs schools and education and toilets and school halls and all that stuff when you can take this sort of policy to your friendly mining magnate:

Tony Abbott will take to the election a radical plan to reshape Australia by splitting it into different personal tax zones and forcibly shifting tens of thousands of jobs to the Top End.

Is it the bit about forcible the Bolter loves?

No, no, he loves Darwin:

I’m not sure what’s so “embarrassing” about the leak. True, I grew up in Darwin and love the place, so may be biased about the North.

Which is why the pond was thrilled to read the Bolter volunteering - not being forcibly made to move - to head north, and like as not taking the entire HUN crew and company with him, and then sending the paper out digitally to the world by carrier pigeon, since there's very little point in having an NBN to connect to distant places.

We keed, we keed, you won't catch the Bolter bolting to Darwin, pioneering style, not when he can stay in Melbourne sobbing along to the finest opera recordings, a remarkably fine and presumptuous red clutched tightly in his paw. There's vision, and then there's Burke and Wills folly ...

Tim the bleagh simply didn't have time to consider the issue - he was too outraged at the ABC winning a bit more for its news budget, a clear case of market forces not applying. Which is completely different to appeasing Gina Rinehart, where market forces clearly apply by applying the blow torch to the soft Abbott policy belly ...

This sort of fantastical government scheme is usually the business of Labor governments - from the multifunction polis to the lost South Australian city of Monarto.

Naturally the Bolter's herd of loons was ecstatic for all sorts of reasons, not wondering for a moment why everyone abuses the federal government for being remote and dysfunctional because it's based in Canberrra, then urging a hunk of public servants to head north to even remoter pastures, where service delivery can be done by pigeon post because all of them thought the NBN was irrelevant to the nation's needs.

Some even thought it'd be an ideal destination for boat people and so kill two birds with one stone. After all these Asians like it hot, and they could do all the hard graft and in the process become dinky di nation builders. Why the north could become a gigantic paddy field!

Occasionally of course a government scheme can produce a winner but no one at the Bolter paradise seemed to realise that it was the Chifley and Curtin governments that set in motion the Snowy Mountains Scheme, and that the scheme had a very specific purpose, not some ramshackle notion of transforming the north.

These days of course such a development would be saddled with a bundle of PPPs, whereby the private sector and Gina's squad could make out like bandits, and everybody south - none of whom on the Bolter's page showed any signs of wanting to bolt north - would in due course wail and moan about the terrible expense and the waste and the unfairness of money being pissed against the wall on extravagant schemes and the uselessness of public servants in remote locations, when what's needed is government belt tightening, and a surplus.

Feel like adding up the amount of government money pissed against the wall on the Ord River Scheme so that the Chinese can now have an abundance of sugar? Feel free. While you're at it, why not tote up the cost over the years of the total failure of Humpty Doo as a rice growing venture?

And if you get it right, maybe some kind soul will throw in a couple of bottles from Alice Springs' winery. You can wash it down with some hot climate Chinese wine ...

Think it's delusional that government can pick winners, then turn around and argue how Liberal governments can pick winners? Are you a clone of the Bolter?

The most interesting - and unanswered question - is who amongst the Libs leaked the paper, no doubt expecting the kind of response that the draft got, and forcing Abbott to back off, issuing all sorts of disclaimers and denials?

Was it someone at war with the Nats and Barners? Was it someone who hadn't swallowed the Lang and Gina and Joh kool-aid? Was it someone who could spot good old-fashioned agrarian and mining socialism a mile off? Was it someone who could see a balanced budget and a surplus heading south by going north?

Who knows, but they deserve a little praise and thanks for a job well done. They've helped kill the idea in its current far-fetched form stone cold motherless dead, with Abbott already in retreat on all the major contentious ideas.

Today, it was back to business as usual, and as usual, The Australian, that fine journal of ideas and policies, was hot to trot on a more pressing issue:

Yes, through rain and hail and fog and Swiss bank accounts, the lizard Oz are fiendish commentariat policy wonks. Forget about the north, here's the Ruddster. Squirrel!!

Meanwhile, something wonderful and mystical happened overnight at the rag that broke the story, the Daily Terror (the story was then faithfully regurgitated in all the local Murdoch brandings in what is now the usual way of using extender instead of real seafood).

At first it had fun with Abbott:

(click to enlarge, no hot links, screen cap only)

Today they stuck with the story, but the tone had changed:

Click on Tony Abbott touts his Top End temptations, and you get a serious story with serious graphs about serious northern issues.

There are grand charts, grand statistics, and grand talk about how the public is hungry for big ideas and big imagination and bold brave policies (except the NBN), and yearned for the pissing of vast sums of public money against the wall. A CommSec economist was trotted out to talk of the merit of economic zones, and Bob Katter was hungry, hungry as hell, for bone idle, taxpayer wasting, bludging public servants to make the trek north, and enjoy tax breaks and more perks and nation-building indulgences.

The Terror, regretting its earlier satirical thrust, followed the story up with an editorial, Northern lights of nation's prosperity, which was wreathed in a golden glowing light bathing that northern hillock with a vision, a dream:

The knee-jerk rejection of the discussion paper by some quarters speaks of a distinct lack of imagination. 

Uh huh. the pond must remember that next time we're tempted to run Tony Abbott in satirical swimwear.

Australia's north stores a massive amount of our mineral wealth but only houses a tiny overall percentage of our population. 
Similarly, the north receives a huge proportion of our national average rainfall but only a tiny amount of that is utilised. 

Oh dear it's the Bradfield plan all over again, and that's only been around since 1938.

In a land that suffers frequent water shortages, and which is reliant on the minerals industry for our global economic strength, the north looms as a potential Australian powerhouse. 
This is a discussion Australia needs to have, regardless of its significance or otherwise as an election issue. Just as expansion into America's west was a cornerstone of US economic growth, so too might be our own northern expansion. 
Go north, young nation.

Actually it's a discussion Lang Hancock and Gina Rinehart and Bob Katter and Joh Bjelke-Petersen have been having these last thirty years or more, and to his credit, John Howard refused to bend to the National party and its acolytes, and piss said taxpayer money against the wall.

Why should it be different this time? Well Tony Abbott's a bubble-headed booby when it comes to policy and Murdoch la la land is a wasteland (or a free economic zone if you will) when it comes to a sensible discussion of policy.

While other papers were reporting on Abbott back-tracking (Abbott plays down leaked plan to lure workers north, forced video at end of link), the rag that broke the story was doubling down on the nonsense, and blathering about the need for the young nation to go north. Too right, Daily Terror, and close the door and switch off the lights on your way up there.

And now, since the Terror raised the subject of Abbott in visual form, the pond feels compelled to observe a photo used to illustrate a piece at The Monthly by Mungo McCallum, headed Too darn hot: Joe Hockey for PM?

It was taken just ahead of the March 2010 Port Macquarie Iron Man event, and if anyone wants to understand why some women have a problem with Abbott, just show them this photo. (Remind them that Abbott was born in 1957 and would have therefore been around 53 when the photo was taken)

There's too much posturing, too much posing, too much testosterone, too much macho, too much the tough guy routine, too much an aging man desperate to prove something though what it is, he's not quite sure.

Should a politician be judged by his appearance and his appearances? Of course not.
Should a politician pose like this? Of course they can, if they don't mind the consequences, and the surface superficial Daily Terror style judgments that follow.

And one of those consequences and judgments is to think of Abbott as a macho, preening coxcomb of the first water, yet ready to buckle under and tug his forelock to Gina Rinehart whenever he gets a policy chance (and never mind that he also looks like a walking talking advertising billboard). 

Oh he's tough alright, a real Raymond Chandler character, you can tell by looking, but is he Gina tough?

Here's the thing. Hollywood spends a lifetime trying to find the right men that'll appeal to the right demographic at the right time. Compare and contrast.

Oh lordy, he's so cute and fluffy and touchable.

And oh dear sweet lord, is Ryan Gosling cut or what.

Yum. And so ends another day of the serious discussion of serious policies, Daily Terror style.

Put it another way. It's okay to be fit, but when it comes to obsessive compulsive behaviour, and bizarre hot button-pushing policies, sometimes there's a need to just grow up. Grow up and get old gracefully and leave the delusions and the agrarian socialism behind...


  1. We all know that Phoney Tony is called Doctor No. Well,just to confirm it Doctor No is now saying NO to his own policies / thought bubbles. Could this be considered a backflip, because if it was Labor policy the Oz would be screaming it from the rooftops.

  2. Reminiscing about the Bradfield Plan, I have a long held vague memory of a plan to put nuclear power stations on the Great Aussie Bite to desalinate seawater and pump the newly fresh water plus surplus electricity into the Centre and create a swathe of farmland. It was back around the time when that great Aussie, Peter Thonemann was being credited (falsely as it turned out) with having solved the nuclear fusion problem and thus cheap, abundant power would come to us all.

    Oh, so many grand plans for one small, dry continent.

    Never have been able to find a reference to the Great Seawater Desalination Plan though (even after much Google searching), so maybe it was just a figment of my febrile, juvenile imagination. Bur hey, it's worth a try, isn't it ?

  3. Abbott's majestic pose in lycra finally reveals his true identity.

    "Jor-El:Your real name is Kal-El. You are the only survivor of the planet Krypton. Even though you've been raised as a human, you are not one of them."

  4. Are we listing crack pot schemes, particularly those that ignore environmental reality?

    Here's two from SA.
    First an olden but golden idea -build a dam across Spencer Gulf roughly in the Whyalla [if its still there after the carbon at-tax] and Pt.Pirie and harness the tidal energy.

    More recently, build a dirt wall about 10 metres high, many metres wide, inside the perimeter of Lake Alexandrina isolating the Lakes from the River Murray and flood the lake with seawater so as to save the current evaporation of all that fresh water which could be better used growing oranges.
    Only cost about $300-400 million and destroy the ecosystem of the lakes but given a cute PR name -"Twin Lakes proposal" - could be, and was, pitched to local and state and federal governments a few years ago by Haliburton.
    Here's a link, best I could quickly find.


  5. Being a Friday, I was looking forward to some News Ltd hyperbole for a few laughs over lunch.

    Its just a shame that moving north wasn't Gillard's idea. Had it been, my guess we would be seeing stories along the lines of "Gillard determined to decimate house pricing along the eastern seaboard by forcibly moving the population to the north and reducing demand".

    I can't wait for Chris "the Libertarian" Berg to get stuck into this one. Watch the feathers fly in at Liberal HQ.

  6. In Marshall Perron days the CLP government had a plan to buy up land plus build dams to ensure enough space and water for the projected Darwin population of 1 million in 2100. Billed as "The Hong Kong of the something" (I forget). Can't readily find a link but somewhere the artist's impressions accompanying the plan are surely archived. Or not. Those folks had a bit of a cavalier attitude to that sort of record keeping.

  7. By golly Pete, the pond hasn't thought of the Perronists in ages. Here they are in 1979 starting their plan to conquer the universe:

    And what an excellent idea Anon to list harebrain, crackpot government and consultant schemes from both sides of the aisle. A pity the pond can't set aside the next hundred years.

    And don't think your idea of nuking the bight has gone away, Gruebleen. Great ideas live on for ever:

    For example, the Great Australian Bight is not far from SA uranium, and it has seawater for cooling. Nuclear power plants there could provide power to WA and the Eastern seaboard as well as link windfarms across the Nullarbor.

    You might also enjoy the plan to develop the great Australian canal, north to south, by cutting the continent into two islands using a large open salt water channel starting in Darwin and emptying into Spencer Gulf (or vice versa). A snap at $200 billion

    Oh it's a big, big country, with big, big, extremely grand ideas, except sorting the traffic and a second airport for Sydney

  8. I don't know what Siberia is like, but we public servants in Darwin don't reach for the whisky until at least 10am. Admittedly, that's in the dry season - in the wet, anything after 8:30am is considered "keeping your fluids up".

  9. ):
    Welcome to the pond Darwinian with a sense of humour (which the pond is told is just as necessary in Canberra, where some are known to order skim mocha

    Are fat-free, chocolate-based refreshments part of the New Tony? Is this the caffeine-lite equivalent of the shandy-with-3/4-lemonade drink Abbott has been known to order at pubs on the campaign trail?

    (He wouldn't last a day in Darwin, let alone Tamworth ...)

    Whatever the case, it is the sort of drinks order that would have you run out of town in certain parts of northern Australia, the parts where wild buffalo and Bob Katter roam freely, the parts where a drink is not a drink unless it has four Xes in front of it, or a few fingers of Bundaberg rum inside it.

    Read more:

  10. While on the topic of harebrained developments, I vaguely recall some guy who wanted to build a mountain range across Australia. He thought that it would bring rain and fertilize the parched interior. There was going to be nuclear power stations, national service and God knows what else.

    I vaguely remember The Bulletin giving it a bit of a shove-along back in the 70s. According to Wikipedia, there was an "Engineered Australia Plan Party". That might have been it.


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