Sorry

Priscilla does a wonderful job of not only eloquently expressing her feelings about saying sorry, but also mine (thanks P.)

I too have set my Facebook status to say I’m sorry – but I’ll also repost what Priscilla says ‘coz it’s exactly what I want to say too:

I regret that this happened to you, and I realise that it caused suffering and anguish for you and your family. I hope this never happens again.

P.S. I feel like this new government is sorting out a whole bunch of unfinished business. Still lots to do, but we’ve signed Kyoto, and now said sorry (both of which are far too long overdue). In the coming weeks WorkChoices will be scrapped. It’s progress – but back to the starting-line, not forward. Hopefully the momentum will continue to push across the line…

China’s economic control

I was chatting to a friend the other day and he mentioned this concept, but Andrew Charlton has written a great opinion piece explaining why our economy is Made in China.

Some key quotes that resonated with me:

The former prime minister John Howard claimed during the election that his fiscal discipline was keeping inflation and thereby interest rates down.

This was hogwash. Average inflation was relatively low, but this hid the bipolar nature of our economy. Non-traded goods suffered endemic inflation during the Howard years, but the problem was concealed by disinflation in the traded economy. It is easy to keep inflation low when every year China keeps shipping us more goods at cheaper prices.

I’d not really seen this before, but it makes sense to me. Especially the bit about Howard’s claims being hogwash 😉

He continues:

There are two ways to solve this problem. One is to passively sit back and let the Reserve Bank reduce demand by bludgeoning shoppers with repeated interest rate rises.

The better solution is to improve productivity in non-traded sectors so that our domestic production can grow to meet demand. A wave of competition policy in the early 1990s dramatically improved the efficiency of Australia’s traded economy, stripping away tariffs and opening up the sector to competition. The new Labor Government must now do the same for the non-traded economy. That means improving productivity in formerly neglected sectors like transport and logistics, education, utilities, health and many other services.

I would also add that perhaps we should turn around our long-neglected R&D-related activity, so that we can increase high-value technology-based exports in growth sectors too – like renewable energy and highly-efficient transport (hybrid cars etc.). The investment in education that Andrew mentions is part of this shift.

How often do we hear about bright ideas (and the people behind them) being picked up overseas when their attempts to get funding and support locally had run their course. It’s these ideas and developments that would increase the value of our exports – we have for too long been focused solely on the “resources boom”. Time to start moving eggs into other baskets methinks…

Sad moment for the Dems

ABC Online: Democrats to lose party status after 30 years.

Andrew Bartlett, whose excellent blog gave me an enormous amount of respect for the man and highlighted many of the Government’s abuses in the Senate, seems set to retire from politics. That’s a really sad thing…

I spoke to a few friends who said in the lead up to the election “we like the Democrats in terms of policy, but the party itself has lots of issues”. It’s a shame that the leadership issues that seemed to begin during Meg Lees’ tenure have resulted in such a poor result for the party.

I do hope that the party does continue and grows from it’s grass roots base, or that another party with similar policies and goals emerges over time. It might be an interesting time to join the party…

Howard heaved…

Needless to say I’m happy with the election result – not that Labor are in necessarily (they have yet to earn credibility and trust), just that after almost 12 years of lying and sliminess Howard has been turfed out on his backside. I can only hope he loses Bennelong too…

I really wanted to write a longer post outlining the many sins of the Howard government – and I may still have time later this week to expand. But in short (I could write at length about any one of these issues – but look at them all!):

  • abuse of refugee rights – not even upholding the basic principles of the international convention of the rights of refugees
  • the Tampa incident and “Children Overboard”
  • attacks on indigenous rights
  • rolling back of our fundamental legal rights – rights to a fair trial, to privacy
  • abandonment of David Hicks and support for the clearly illegal Guantanamo Bay facility
  • support for the Chinese government despite consistent human rights abuses (not even meeting with the Dalai Lama in 2002 because of fears of offending the Chinese government)
  • the introduction of the GST
  • WorkChoices
  • lack of any meaningful action, or even reasonable dialogue, on climate change
  • continued subsidisation and support for fossil-fuel industries (petrol, R&D support for development of big cars by Australian manufacturers, spending on nuclear instead of true renewable energy)
  • the so-called nuclear “debate”
  • going to war in Iraq
  • uncritical support of the US
  • lies about interest rates being something governments can control
  • the bungling of the privatisation of Telstra
  • lack of action prior to the elections in East Timor
  • the de-teething of the ACCC
  • persistent attacks on the education system, esp. public schools and universities
  • the AWB scandal
  • and probably more that I can’t think of right now…

I feel like a dark cloud has been lifted off of this country – really! I was out celebrating with friends on Saturday night and I was so delighted with the result. Let’s hope that Labor lives up to its promises (and more)…

Don’t vote on interest rates

Marc says: “Don’t bother making a voting decision based on interest rates. Make a decision based on anything else but this if you want your watered down democratic vote well represented.”

And further:

Let’s remind ourselves that democracy in history was about voting on projects and their proposers as they came along. Wow, that would be cool! I’d love to vote on a fibre optic network or whether to build a desalination plant. That would be democracy, old fashioned style.

Somehow we changed this to a 4 yearly farce which wastes part of my weekend.

Politicians argue this is often enough because people need to be governed, let’s face it they say, because we don’t know the issues well enough. Please, Mr Politic save me the “constituents aren’t smart enough to vote often and on detailed matters” speech.

Hear, hear!

(It still amazes me that a party can get a majority with a minority of the vote. Stoopid…)

Speaking of elections, GetUp has a great site called How should I vote – which asks you survey questions and matches you with the closest candidate.

I was surprised by my results, and found out about an independent candidate that I’d not heard about in my electorate.

Just don’t go there if you’re thinking of voting Liberal – it seems all of the Liberal candidates have simply not bothered filling in the survey that the system uses. A friend of mine contacted them and got an arrogant response – their loss I’d say. Even though GetUp is left-leaning, the site is a great resource and I’m sure that many non-left-leaning folk are using it.

Lastly – I’m heading down to an election night piss-up get together at the Bat & Ball hotel with a friend or two – an event that’s been labeled “Rumble in the Balletbox”.

The event is supported by 2ser and NewMatilda.com (disclosure: 2ser and NewMatilda.com are clients of Digital Eskimo, my employer). If you’re on Facebook, the event details are here.

SydneyCyclist.com

Damian recently launched Sydney Cyclist – a place where those of us who ride and Sydney can get together and chat. I’ve joined (though not been as active as I’d like due to work and life commitments this week). But I’ll hopefully get some time to play on the weekend…

(For the techies: it’s built using Ning and Damian seems to be enjoying the process so far.)

BioBike

South Australian students have constructed a biodiesel powered bike.

That’s cool ‘coz it’s an Aussie invention (we need more of them). But like most – likely to go off-shore (“There are no plans to produce a commercial version of the bike, but several companies in Asia have expressed interest.”).

That’s so frustrating – these talented students can do more than manufacturers with R&D budgets infinitely larger that the students probably had to work with. We need to see more of this kind of R&D happening in Australia – thankfully we have the education system to do that hard work eh?