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Bits and Pieces.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 04/03/2022 - 4:22am in

One of the key predictions of climate science is that as the atmosphere warms up, the likelihood of extreme weather events increases.

But, how would you tell when one weather event is extreme?

You can tell when something like this happens:

(source)
They are good graphical representations, but to interpret them may be a bit tricky for those unaccustomed. The good folks of The Guardian (Oz) seem to believe otherwise. I’m not so sure. So, if it doesn’t speak to you, let me know and I’ll do my best to explain it. I’ll just advance here that the idea is not unlike a box (aka box-and-whisker) plot I explained here.

Dramatic, isn’t it? Well, now look at this:

But volumes of rain are just a part of the picture. The other and – to me at least – most dramatic part is how heavy those rains have been: some 1,000 cubic millimetres of rain have fallen over every square millimetre of surface around Brisbane in a matter of two to three days. The most recent estimate for the whole of Australia I know of is 300 millimetres per year.

To put things in perspective: one tonne of water for every square metre in two to three days.

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A so-called “rain bomb” has been visiting the east of Australia, starting in south-east Queensland and moving southwards along the New South Wales coast. Why here and now?

Graham Readfearn, Nick Evershed and Josh Nicholas try to provide simple answers to those questions. While such questions are, of course, interesting and worth pursuing, I don’t think there is an easy answer. Neither such answers are relevant to the point of extreme weather events worldwide, which is what climate change science points to.

Think about it. A hotter world means more evaporation: the atmosphere carries more water vapour. Well, what goes up must eventually come down: heavier rains. Whether it is here or there is secondary. Makes sense? Another way to put it is “climate change is intensifying Earth’s water cycle at twice the predicted rate”.

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(source)
As I write this, the shock wave of the “bomb” reached Sydney. 8 people drowned in flash floods in QLD; so far, 4 in NSW. Too much water falling on already waterlogged soil.

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A simple way to understand politics in western liberal democracies: Mr/Ms BigWig is lying. We know he/she is lying. He/she knows we know he/she is lying. And yet, the farce never stops there: he/she keeps on lying.

Why? It may have something to do with “plausible deniability”. It may also be a matter of hoping to catch the few unawares.

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A little over a week ago Sydneysiders woke up to a city without trains. COALition pollies (state and federal), had a trip defaming train workers and unions. Workers were terrorists, bastards, hijackers and had launched an unexpected strike.

At the same time, every single TV network broadcasting for Sydney – including the ABC – parroted those allegations in their early morning news bulletins. Many members of the public believed them (anecdotal evidence warning: I know one). Some were really furious at train workers.

Unions had to go around to prove their workers were out there and ready to work; they also had to demonstrate the shutdown of the entire metropolitan rail network was the State Government’s doing.

From there on most of the media changed their tune – to their credit. But why were journalists so wrong to begin with? Why didn’t they approach the unions?

I won’t speculate. Instead, I’ll let the ABC Media Watch’s Paul Barry talk.

Ashleigh Raper, ABC’s NSW political reporter, dug deep and discovered that the NSW State Government not only knew of the shutdown in advance, they were also considering a two-week long version.

That did not stop the NSW Government. First they blamed the unions; then Premier Perrottet blamed Minister Elliott (you should have told me) who blamed the bureaucrats/executives (I was sleeping). The bureaucrats/executive had nobody else to blame. But the thing did not look well: how can that bunch work that way? Finally, Perrottet reverted to default: his Government declared the shutdown, but it was all the union’s fault anyway.

Well, at least the COALition didn’t accuse us of being traitors … damn it! 

Something tells me Bevan Shields (the new SMH editor) and Peter Hartcher will get along just fine.

----------

So, President Putin put the Russian deterrence forces in state of “special regime of combat duty”. Frankly, I don’t know what that phrase means and I’ll advice readers not to assume you know either.

The ABC’s Paul Johnson and Will Jacksonv wrote a summary of the facts, with no editorialising. I think it’s a good account.

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What does Putin want? Well, it depends who you ask.

Leigh Sales interviewed Tom Friedman (“three-time Pulitzer Prize winning journalist at the New York Times”) on the subject. Friedman’s opinion fits in well with the prevailing narrative: Putin is a madman, what he wants is to resurrect the Russian Empire. Julie Bishop (former Minister for Foreign Affairs) is more or less of the same opinion. I call that the psychoanalytical, psychological or psychiatric school of thought.

(I never suspected Bishop was a qualified mental health professional, capable of diagnosing mental illness after a brief conversation, held years ago, during a break in a meeting with Putin Bishop wasn’t supposed to attend, but attended anyway. That and Putin’s latest appearance on TV).

Ted Galen Carpenter (“senior fellow for defence and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute”) expounds a much less popular perspective: the West cornered Russia, ignoring Russian objections to NATO’s eastward advance and they too have responsibility in this tragedy. (Which suggests a reason why the psychoanalytical school is so popular)

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In my opinion, Geoffrey Robertson gave the best, most intelligent interview by far on the subject of the invasion of Ukraine. He did not try to remotely psychonalyse Putin and, instead, stuck to what he knows: law. Cobbler, stick to your last.

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Quotable quotes:

“NATO didn’t expand –  they [eastern Europeans] joined NATO” – journalist Oliver Bullough, author of Butler To The World: How Britain Helps The World’s Worst People Launder Money, Commit Crimes, And Get Away With Anything, The Drum (March 3)

“Putin made us very angry and we will kill every Russian soldier we put our hands on” – Ukrainian civilian getting ready to confront the Russian invaders, as quoted by SBS World News (March 2).

The situation would be hilarious, if it weren’t so tragic and dangerous.

----------

I included this image in a previous post. It depicts a member of Azov (once an independent militia, now a formal Ukrainian armed forces regiment), training civilians in Mariupol days before the invasion:

Observe carefully the insignia on the soldier’s left arm.

I hesitated before making the decision, and only reluctantly I decided to present the next image. I do that because it is strictly essential. It is the insignia of the 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich:

(source)

Coincidence? You be the judge.

Are those Azov blokes neo-Nazis? They deny it. What have journalists found?

Some say there is no evidence whatsoever of extreme-Right wing, ultra-nationalist Ukrainians - as opposed to all Ukrainians - having ever committed any atrocities against Russians or ethnic Russians or Russian speakers. Is there?

Even if those things were true, they do not justify the Russian invasion, let us be clear. Collective punishment is not justice. Instead, the Russians should have prosecuted their case. Being realistic, it would have been difficult for them, given the openly hostile and intolerant climate prevailing in Western media, but the Russians were at least in a better position to argue their case, than, say, the Palestinians. 

On top things may have changed since those days. But I do not know they have changed (do you know?).

And yet, with the limited information we have at our disposal, we all still have to make up our own minds. It’s up to you to decide.

Acting PM Barnaby Joyce Recalls Parliament To Overturn The Bonk Ban

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 03/03/2022 - 7:00am in

Australia’s acting PM Barnaby Joyce (yes, really) has used his first day in charge to recall Parliament in order to overturn the contentious bonk ban.

”There are wars going on, towns are getting flooded and the pandemic is still here. For God’s sake – it’s time to get rid of this bloody bonk ban,” said the Member for New England. ”How’s an MP supposed to think if he’s only allowed to bonk his significant other?”

”Scotty, err, ScoMo, can always get down on his knees and pray when he’s stressed, whereas I’d rather get down on my knees and do other stuff.”

When asked if he seriously thought that the priority of the nation right now should be on repealing the bonk ban, the acting PM said: ”Well Scott, err, ScoMo, spent weeks focusing on his pet project – the religious discrimination act!”

”So, why can’t I focus on my passion?”

”Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go and chat to Albo, man-to-man, about whether he’d be up for doing a bit of intern swapping, if you know what I mean.”

Mark Williamson

@MWChatShow

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DWCA news: Zerinza Volume Five / Data Extract

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 01/03/2022 - 10:30pm in

Tags 

Australia

 Doctor Who Club of Australia)<\/a>

The Doctor Who Club of Australia<\/a> have released the fifth volume of their Zerinza yearbook series:

 

This volume has articles, interviews, art and stories covering every Doctor in order from one to thirteen, with the War Doctor and Jo Martin’s pre-Doctor as well! The collection includes work by writers Dom Kelly, Tim Darby, Ashley J Tuchin, John J Lodge, Jamie Boyd, Seth Hynes, Richard Lipp, Tony Cooke, Darran Jordan and more. It also features interviews with Ian Cullen (Ixta from The Aztecs), Viktors Ritelis (production assistant on The Crusade and The Daleks’ Master Plan), Alexandra Tynan (designer of the Cybermen), Louise Pajo (Gia Kelly from The Seeds of Death), Frazer Hines, Jon Pertwee, Katy Manning, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant, Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred, writer Gary Russell, showrunner Steven Moffat, Neill Gorton (monsters and special effects creator), Mark Sheppard (Canton Delaware the third from The Impossible Astronaut and Day of the Moon) and Mandip (Yaz) Gill.

With a beautiful cover by David Blewer and covering the full range of Doctor Who history, this volume is sure to have something for every fan!

 

 

The volume is available to purchase through the DWCA Lulu store<\/a> in both hardback and paperback format.

 

A double issue of DWCA newsleterr Data Extract (250-251) ships to all members this month:

The issue features an exclusive interview with Katy Manning on her long connection to Australia, Pete McTighe takes us behind the scenes on the short films made for the Blu-ray collection releases, it has a tribute to Louise Pajo (Gia Kelly from The Seeds of Death), written by her in her final days, a look at the real world Future Library, DE founder Dallas Jones looking at DE history and his own fandom origins, Craig Land’s epic comic as past companions team up to take on the Master, the Jason Towers comic telling the true story of Colin Baker climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, UK correspondent Bel Bailey-Melouney takes us behind the scenes on Time Fracture and tours the filming locations of Flux, Dom Kelly looks back over series 11 and 12 to bring us a timely exploration of the Thirteenth Doctor, Tim Darby counts down tales of Gallifrey, Roger Reynolds introduces us to the Doctor's neighbor at 78 Totters Lane and Lethbridge-Stewart joins the Time War.

Further releases throughout 2022 will include DE 252 (June), DE 253 (September), DE 254 (December), Zerinza Volume 6 (December) as well as the novel Trash Island by Dom Kelly (the first release in our new ongoing Eleanor series).

 

The Ghost of Wars Past.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 27/02/2022 - 4:00pm in

 

Australian media are doing a remarkable effort to cover the war in the Ukraine.

The ABC, for example, has at least two correspondents reporting directly from within the Ukraine (Isabella Higgins and Nick Dole). Steve Cannane – ABC Europe bureau chief – and Linton Besser seem to be covering the war from London, while Jade Macmillan – Washington bureau chief – and Barbara Miller follow the reaction in the US.

At home,  Stan Grant – International Affairs Analyst – contributes both written pieces and TV segments. At least two veteran former foreign correspondents with experience in Russia, Philip Williams and Norman Hermant, joined him, providing comment to ABC News24. As I started writing this on Saturday, James Maasdorp was hosting a live blog (a new development in Aussie online journalism) on the war. On top, other journalists are chipping in as required in areas they cover regularly: Andrew Greene (defence correspondent) and David Chau (financial markets) and Matthew Doran (national politics), for example.

I follow regularly ABC News24 and I assure readers: in recent times that effort is extraordinary, in terms both of man-hour involved and hours of on-air broadcast. (For overseas readers: the COALition’s relentless efforts to financially strangle the ABC, a public-funded service, is taking its toll). The coverage of the Hong Kong 2020 protests, I am absolutely sure, was much more limited. In fact, I doubt even the COVID coverage compared to it. To the best of my memory, only the 2019-20 Black Summer involved a comparable or more extensive mobilisation of human resources and coverage.

The result is visible. That’s how the ABC News Online looked like on Saturday morning: out of eleven, 10 stories covered the war.

Three things, however, strike me about the ABC coverage of the conflict. I find those things disturbing.

The One-Sided Coin.

The first thing is that there are at least two sides to every conflict. The NATO-American and Ukrainian side, as you can see, receives a comprehensive coverage from the ABC. That is good, to be sure.

But, how about the other side?

This is not to say that the ABC does not cover the Russian side at all. The solution they provide, however, is less than satisfactory. To cover the Russian side the ABC appears to be relying on material originating from other sources, not on material produced by their own journalists. I trust the journalism the ABC itself produces, but that trust does not extend necessarily to externally sourced material.

This is important, because those sources seem far from impartial and emotionally charged hyperbole is rampant. All this may be understandable and even inevitable in times as dramatic, but it’s unhelpful.

Take the words of Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki for France 24 English edition earlier this morning:

Today, we stand in front of the tribunal of history. Because an independent state, a sovereign state, the democratic state of Ukraine has been invaded by Russia and nothing is going to stop Putin if we are not decisive enough. Germany cannot immerse in conceited selfishness, avarice. You have to stop this. We have to stop this. We have to stop Putin. Because the next genocide is looming on the horizon. What kind of hell will be delivered to Ukraine? What kind of help have you [the German Government] delivered to Ukraine? 5,000 helmets? This must be a joke.

I will come back to this in a moment.

Anyway, alarming as it is to hear that from a head of government, journalists are not immune. The difference is that one has learned that politicians are not to be trusted, while one still trusts journalists.

But journalists are also failing. An example: this short video segment (about 4 minutes) from the BBC (note well: a respectable, authoritative, legitimate source, yes?) shows the training of Ukrainian civilians (including elderly women and children) in Mariupol a few days before the invasion. The trainers are members of the Ukrainian military, not civilian militiamen posing as soldiers. If you pay close attention, however, something disturbing about those soldiers will become evident (yes, that’s where that screenshot opening and the one below come from). However, the BBC reporter – who was there in person – either did not notice or chose not to remark upon that fact: either way, it is misleading.


It’s instructive to compare that report to Al Jazeera coverage of the same event, the same day.

----------

Similar Wars, Different Responses.

Another thing I find disturbing is that the Western media coverage of events today seem in some ways both strangely similar and radically different at the same time to the coverage given to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The raw images themselves (military hardware, explosions) are obviously similar: it could not be otherwise. But that may be superficial. However, the broad outline of the situation is certainly similar: a militarily mightier country invades a weaker country under false pretences.

And yet, the way the media covers the events differently.

Let me explain. Although I have always had a good memory, I’m getting old. Perhaps memory is failing me, but I can’t remember any ABC journalist – in fact, any Western journalist, period – reporting Operation Iraqui Freedom from the ground in Iraq. Were there interviews with Iraqui civilians fleeing as Coalition of the Willing bombs rained on them? Perhaps this is just me, but I can’t remember any (if you can, please let me know).

I clearly remember, though, that there were anti-war protests back then, as there are now. I remember because, well, I – predictably you might add – took part in them. But on this, too, the similarity involves extreme differences. In 2003, protesters did not meet with universal approval, quite to the contrary: the reaction often ranged from media derision to police repression. Today, much to my surprise, anti-war protests are popular. This is puzzling because at least in its broad outline, the two events are undeniably similar.

Another very distinct memory from that earlier conflict is that in 2003, like today, some invading troops were captured by the defending forces. Inevitably even the mightiest of armies suffer losses (chiefly among the rank and file); that’s why acronyms such as KIA, MIA and such became so well-known. At the time, if I am not mistaken, this wasn’t interpreted as indicative of an imminent failure of the invasion: the Coalition of the Willing’s victory was accepted, perhaps realistically, as a fait accompli. Moreover, back then the parading of evidently frightened POWs by the defending forces was said to constitute a breach of the Geneva Convention and it caused much outrage. I haven’t seen anyone commenting on the Russian troopers captured.

I also remember – you might as well – the much commented phenomenon of the “embedded journalist”: a reporter assigned to a military unit of the invading armies, to show the world the human face of the invader. For some reason, the Russians did not adopt a similar figure. Maybe they should have.

Needless to say, nobody back then applied sanctions against the instigators of a war of aggression on false pretences in which some 460 thousand people died and turned millions of others into refugees. Although many believe they are war criminals, they went on with their lives untroubled, their leading roles in starting that war forgotten. Today some of them are considered good men.

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The third and final thing I find disturbing does require a little background for foreign readers.

SBS (Special Broadcasting Service) is one of two publicly-owned TV and radio Australian broadcasters (the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, ABC, is the other). Both are under the authority of Paul Fletcher, federal Minister for Communications.

SBS caters for foreign language communities and the bulk of their news comes straight from foreign sources, some in English language (France 24, Al Jazeera, DW, NHK among them); most in foreign language. I learned of the Polish extreme Right PM’s quote through SBS.

Last Friday Fletcher announced SBS, obeying his request, had suspended the broadcast of news bulletins NTV Moscow and Russia Today, on the grounds that they disseminated Russian propaganda.

Maybe they disseminate propaganda, but I haven’t seen evidence that they do. What is propaganda, anyway? Are we sure they and only they disseminate propaganda and misinformation? Censorship of media outlets is a slippery slope, especially in a country where human rights are not constitutionally recognised: Australia has no bill of rights.

Worse still: Fletcher has no moral authority to make that request. The principles he defends as sacrosanct are either sacrosanct or they are not; what is unacceptable is that freedom of press is only sacrosanct until he decides it is not. The Morrison regime ordered police raids against the ABC and against journalist Annika Smethurst (both cases were eventually dismissed by the courts, after a lengthy and expensive legal process). Or is it only the Murdoch media freedom of the press that is sacred?

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Let me finish this with a personal appeal to ABC journalists. I respect you. I trust you. My personal opinion about the ABC is high. You guys try your best to do your job with honesty, professionalism and courage: you are probably the best in Australia.

But I am disappointed with your coverage of the Ukraine conflict (and I am also disappointed with SBS, for accepting Fletcher’s orders)

We all regret this war and would like it had not started. We all want it to stop as soon as possible, before more innocents are harmed. It’s undeniable Vladimir Putin has blood in his hands.

He may be a criminal, but he is not crazy. The black and white picture you are painting is attractive, but misleading.

The same NATO irresponsible hypocrites who are shedding crocodile tears over the tragic fate of Ukrainians will turn their backs on them as soon as millions of refugees come knocking at their doors.

NATO is dangerously encroaching on Russia’s proximity. There is no point in calling Russia to negotiate if every single Russian demand is a priori ruled out. His demands are clear: to keep NATO away from Russia’s borders. And, to be honest, I can’t blame him for demanding that. What is not reasonable is for him to resort to violence and for NATO to corner him there.

War is a propitious environment for hysteria. From hysteria to calls for military action against Russia – the world's second nuclear power – there is only a step. Let’s pray we don’t give that step.

Your job, therefore, becomes even harder. But it’s your job and your responsibility. For the good of all of us, I call you to lift up your game. Your hard-earned professional reputation is at stake here, and it would be awful for you to squander it.

But there may be something much more important than your reputation at stake.

Operation Iraqui Freedom version 2.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 25/02/2022 - 4:21pm in

 

(source)

Two versions of the Operation Iraqui Freedom: obliteration of a country on false pretences. At the time, the bien pensant in the rich nations almost to the last man defended one version – ours. Now, the same rabble of sanctimonious pseudo-intellectual prostitutes condemn the other version – the other guy’s – also almost to the last man.

(source)

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Federal Minister for Trade Dan Tehan (Sep. 22nd, 2021):

In 1857, 42 years after the end of the Napoleonic Wars that had witnessed most of Europe in conflict and claimed an estimated five million lives, the British MP Richard Cobden made an observation that has more than stood the test of time.

He said: free trade is God's diplomacy–the only certain way of uniting people in the bonds of peace, since the more freely goods cross borders, the less likely it is that troops will ever cross borders.

Free trade drives economic growth, improves living standards and creates the conditions for peaceful co-existence.

Trade also develops co-operation, builds trust and encourages respect between trading partners.

Given its importance, it is hard to separate our economic interests from our security interests.

Tehan’s boss, just this morning:

At a time when Australia, together with the United Kingdom, together with the United States and Europe and Japan, are acting to cut off Russia, the Chinese government are following through on easing trade restrictions with Russia. That is simply unacceptable.

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(source)
If you believe that louse, he is a staunch defender of Israel, who has many friends in Labor, as well. His colleagues (many of whom are at the very legal fringe of the extreme Right) have accused opponents of anti-semitism. Perhaps because of that, one may guess, he is willing to overlook Israeli violations of the human rights of Palestinians.

And yet, on December 16th, 130 nations voted in favour of UN Resolution A/76/460 DR 1 (titled “Combating Glorification of Nazism, Neo-Nazism and other Practices that Contribute to Fueling Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance”). Neither the US, nor Australia were among them.

(source)
Only two nations voted against it: the US was one. The other was … the Ukraine. US representatives claimed they voted against because the resolution was questionable: it had sinister, hidden motives – after all Russia proposed it.

One hundred and thirty nations, Israel included, voted in favour of that resolution. Apparently, representatives of those nations did not see anything questionable in it.

More interesting, however, were the abstentions. Forty nine nations abstained. It’s not too surprising that Hungary and Poland abstained (their European neighbours see their extreme Right governments with unease). However, those same neighbours had no problem with abstaining themselves almost unanimously. European uneasiness with the extreme Right (with the exception of Russia, Belarus and Bosnia-Herzegovina, that voted for), does not go so far as to make them support an anti-Nazi resolution.

Outside of Europe the situation was the opposite: no poor country abstained; in fact every single poor nation in the world voted for the resolution, included every Muslim nation (often maligned as anti-semitic). The non-European abstentions were Japan, South Korea, Canada, New Zealand and … Australia.

Wealth, evidently, makes one find anti-Nazism suspicious and no amount of professed support for Israel and repudiation of anti-semitism changes that.

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Enough of beating around the bush. These people don’t really give a shit about the innocents who died then and those who are dying now. They may invoke high-minded principles, justice, peace, truth. They may condemn autocracy and anti-semitism and Nazism in words. But they have no principles. Honesty, decency or even truth mean nothing to them. You don’t need to believe me: their own actions belie their words. This is no more than a game and their goal is to win, by hook or by crook, for victory’s sake.

If you are stupid enough to believe them, you will end up as either their accomplice or their victim. Mark my words: you’ve been warned.

Apparently, our choice is between brutal autocrats for whom human life means nothing and disgusting, repulsive, self-righteous wannabe autocrats for whom human life means nothing.

The Big Sydney Trains Meltdown: Twenty Four Little Hours Later.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 22/02/2022 - 7:44pm in

Tags 

Australia, history

(source)

Although in reduced timetables, this Tuesday Sydney trains are running again. So far, no underground station collapsed, no train caught fire or exploded or derailed. Nobody has died, gotten injured or locked inside trains for hours on end. Indeed, nobody got locked inside trains. Period, full stop.

Nothing happened. The network is working safely, if with delays.

Today, in other words, trains are running as they would have ran yesterday, under the limited scope protected industrial action the NSW State Government preempted with a total shutdown of the entire rail network in Sydney, under the pretext that the limited protected industrial action posed unspecified – but presumably awful, awful I tells ya – “safety risks”. And the NSW State Government did that as they vociferously accused rail workers and their union for “hijacking the city” with a “terrorist-like activity” (I trust Peter Hartcher will find a way to argue all that was indeed the unions’ fault).

NSW RTBU's Secretary Max Claassen,
in David Elliott's imagination (source)

Challenged a number of times to produce the relevant risk assessment, NSW Government representatives failed to show anything. They were then subpoenaed. Again, nothing. How come? I don’t know, but I guess that may be because … there wasn’t anything? It makes one wonder who was actually spreading “bullshit” or who was committing acts of “industrial bastardry”.

Much calmer than yesterday, NSW Minister for Transport David Elliot now says he was sleeping (no doubt, he had terrifying nightmares) when Sydney Train executives and Transport NSW bureaucrats decided on their own to shutdown the entire metropolitan rail network. Not just that, Elliott had not read the “risk assessment” and it was now when he requested it from his subordinates.

Botton line, the NSW Government had to withdraw the action it started against the Rail, Tram and Buses Union before Fair Work Commission. The negotiations towards a new enterprise bargaining agreement re-started.

As the old song goes, what a difference a day makes – uh?  Twenty four little hours. The guys and gals from RTBU earned the right to gloat. 

----------

I, however, will have to eat humble pie. In a presser this morning Labor federal leader, Anthony Albanese, actually supported (well, sorta) Sydney Trains workers:

Well, the Government now seems to have conceded that it was a Government decision to shut down the trains. Workers were there ready to undertake their day’s work in the early hours of the morning. I want unions and the government to come to terms, to have agreements. No-one wants this level of disruption … But what David Elliott to be fair to him has inherited is a mess from Andrew Constance. Is a mess whereby no agreements are in place; there’s been no advance. … Just have a look at the difference in the rhetoric between Scott Morrison talking about the heroes of the pandemic, our nurses … Our transport workers have been essentially shut down by the government of New South Wales with the decision to shut the public transport network. What we need to do is recognise that during the pandemic, the people who kept this country going were our nurses, our cleaners, our public transport workers, truck drivers, our retail workers. They need to be treated with respect and they deserve better than a Prime Minister who just sledges them without knowing the fact.

He didn’t broach the topic, mind you: a reporter (from the Murdoch stable, maybe?) prompted that with a question.

Regardless, all that is well and good, but what about those workers’ demands? Oh, well, coming from Albo, something is something, better than nothing, I guess.

Too much optimism, however, may be a tad premature. The Guardian (Oz) reporter Michael McGowan may be onto something.

----------

Ellen Fanning has a way with mischief. She invited Craig Emerson (former Labor MP) and Greg Sheridan (a hack from The Oz, flagship of the Murdoch collection of rags) to The Drum today.

This is how Fanning introduced the segment about Sydney Trains and, more generally, the right to strike in Australia:

Let me start with you, Craig. Isn’t the fact of the matter that the last federal Labor government, of which you were a member, made it virtually impossible to strike in this country and in fact there wasn’t a strike in New South Wales - perhaps people have forgotten what a strike is, but that wasn’t one!

I won’t detail the discussion that followed. You can watch it here or read its automatically generated transcript here. It’s worth it, trust me.

Here it will suffice to remark how Emerson tried to dodge the Gillard Cabinet and his own personal responsibility in curtailing the right to strike in Australia. Those interested in all the legal requirements imposed on workers and unions before taking protected industrial action, can read Fanning’s questions and the University of Adelaide’s Prof. Andrew Stewart’s answers. Instructive and accessible, but, best of all, entirely free of Legalese: in plain English.

Finally, admirers of former Labor glories Bob Hawke and Paul Keating may enjoy (or not) to learn of Greg Sheridan’s high opinion of the Price and Income Accord. Funny, isn’t it, how Labor and their arch-enemies agree on this: workers must be denied any real right to strike.

I must confess: I’m a bit of a fan of Fanning.

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Give the Greens some thought these elections. And, as always, join your union.

Who’s to Blame for the Sydney Rail Meltdown?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 21/02/2022 - 4:43pm in

 

These workers turned up to work, but were
told they could not by management. They
are not on strike #LiarFromTheShire (source)
This morning Sydneysiders found they could not take their trains. Caught by surprise, commuters feel frustrated: neither early-starters could go to work nor kids could go to school, night-shift workers couldn’t return home. Those taking a cab or an Uber were left out-of-pocket.

So, who’s to blame?  –  is what everyone’s asking.

For Scotty from Marketing, a source Aussies can rely for its demonstrated commitment to the truth, it’s all the unions’ fault. NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet, the guy who didn’t let Omicron rip in NSW (he only relaxed the rules as we faced an unknown variant), agrees: it’s all a Labor/unions conspiracy to make his government look bad. It’s hard to say what David Elliott, NSW Minister for Transport with anger-management problems, says, because he limited himself to bark incoherently like a rabid, stray dog.

The Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) says in a Twitter thread:

Let’s be crystal clear about what is going in on NSW. The RTBU intended to take legitimate and legal industrial action today which would not have affected service. Workers would have worked as per their normal roster. The employer, however, chose to shut down the rail network.

The State Government then publicly stated that the network shutdown was caused by a ‘strike’ by the RBTU. This was false, but was widely reported.

Workers then held a press conference at Central Station, saying “we are here to work, but management is stopping us.”

The PM goes on TV to repeat the lie that workers are on strike, blames the RTBU for inconveniencing Sydneysiders trying to get back to work, and makes some allusion to ‘Labor and the unions’.

This whole scenario smacks of a coordinated and cynical stunt, with the people of Sydney being used as patsies so the PM can engage in dishonest union-bashing.

He has failed on the pandemic, failed on aged care, failed on bushfires and has no vision for a better future, now @ScottMorrisonMP is lying about a non-existent strike to distract from his failures.

It’s hard to imagine the #LiarFromTheShire going lower, but he’s done it. To everyone stuck in Sydney traffic today, we are deeply sorry, but you’re being used for a @ScottMorrisonMP media stunt. End

They also have a media release explaining their position.

----------

Ashleigh Raper, ABC NSW political reporter, says:

Look, this morning the government took almost everybody including the unions by surprise by shutting down the rail network. Yes, there was planned industrial action by the union, which had been negotiated over the weekend. It had fallen apart. This was by no means wide scale strike action that was going to see train drivers walk off the job. There was an expectation that the network could still operate.

If you ask me, the Government decided to up the ante. Sydney Trains locked out their workers to preempt a protected industrial action. But I don’t think it’s merely a dummy spit, as the RTBU guys say and as everybody keeps repeating.

Here are more workers stuck in
a meal room because the NSW
Government will not let them
operate trains this morning. (source)

What I think is that NSW State Government workers are getting too uppity for COALition pollies’ taste:

(source)
Incidentally, that story, from last week, shows how strikes generally look like: (1) it was announced so as not to catch anyone by surprise, and (2) strikers went to great lengths to ensure disruption was kept to a minimum.

Sure, a lock out is much more disruptive, but Perrottet and Elliott may hope the extra disruption will turn commuters against rail workers. And playing hard ball with rail workers may teach nurses and midwives a lesson.

It all suits Scotty just fine: he is hellbent on striking on a wedge topic against Anthony Albanese and Labor. This could be it. Albo, chicken shit as he is, will bend over backwards not to voice support for the workers, because, well, unions and thugs. And don’t be surprised if, pressed by reporters, he actually voices some mild criticism against workers.

But workers are supposed to be Labor’s natural constituency. You see the wedge right there, don’t you?

----------

This situation, in my opinion, calls for strikes in solidarity with rail workers. But Australian law is designed to obstruct worker solidarity: solidarity strikes are unlawful.

As I do not work for Sydney Trains and I am not a member of RTBU, I cannot join their protected industrial action. And taking unprotected industrial action could get you over 10 thousand bucks in fine.

But I am seriously considering calling in sick tomorrow. If my employer refuses to pay me, I can live with that.

If you are a worker, maybe you should give that possibility some thought. Also, join your union and consider giving the Greens your first preference this election (you can also donate and the first $1,500 are tax deductible).

Pass the word.

Fake it Till you Make it.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 20/02/2022 - 9:36am in

 
It’s becoming de rigueur among COALition pollies to pretend they are workers.

That’s Scotty from Marketing cosplaying as a welder:

(source)

While making a stop at Alice Springs Scotty decided that posing like a welder would make for a good photo opportunity.

The tradie who was with him may have had his doubts, if one believes reports of the event. Scotty, however, assured him he knew what he was doing: “I’ve done this before, in the Hunter”.

The problem is that it defeats the whole purpose of a photo opportunity to have your face covered by a safety mask. So Scotty decided to lift the mask. Genius!

----------

Scotty may be a particularly unfortunate adopter of the fake worker fashion, but he ain’t the first.

(source)
That bloke there is Matt Taliban. Matt got himself an orange shirt and his face haphazardly smeared with Thin Lizzy dark skin to pretend he’s not really a pollie paid over $200K a year (not counting super and allowances) doing whatever it is pollies do, but actually a miner just emerging from a twelve-hour shift underground.

----------

Former Australian of the Year Grace Tame copped a lot of flak lately for images like this:

(source)
That day Tame attended an event hosted by Scotty and it was clear she wasn’t happy.

But, really, can you actually blame her?

Scotty From Marketing Declares A Public Holiday for POETS Day Starting This Friday

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 18/02/2022 - 7:38am in

Australia’s Prime Minister Scotty from Marketing has announced to the nation that this Friday is officially POETS Day and to celebrate, it has been declared a public holiday with no one allowed to work – especially journalists.

”I’m a very big believer in POETS Day, and have been practicing it for years,” said Prime Minister Scotty. ”I mean who doesn’t love to Piss-Off-Early-as-Tomorrow’s Saturday?”

”Speaking of which, I might get an early start to POETS Day and beat the line up to Engadine Maccas.”

When asked why he was so averse to working on Fridays and dealing with the issues of the day, Prime Minister Scotty said: ”I reject the premise of your question.”

”I am one of this country’s hardest working politicians! I mean, last week I almost worked 32 hours!”

”Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to head off and beat the 10am traffic out of town.”

Mark Williamson

@MWChatShow

You can follow The (un)Australian on twitter @TheUnOz or like us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/theunoz.

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Lawsuit Settling Prince Andrew Tells Australia He’s Ready To Be Knighted

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 16/02/2022 - 8:13am in

The Queen’s favourite Son fresh off settling a sexual assault lawsuit out of court has told the people of Australia that he is ready to be knighted for his services to children.

”The Prince is most relieved to make this whole Epstein matter disappear,” said a Spokesperson for the Palace. ”For awhile there things didn’t look good.”

”But, it’s amazing what a stack of paper with your Mum’s face on it can do in these situations.”

When asked if the Prince seriously believed that he could or should be Knighted by Australia, the Palace Spokesperson said: ”Well Sir Prince Philip his dear Father was knighted , so why not Andrew?”

”Besides, I hear your PM is after as many distractions as he can get. I’m sure he could knight the Prince and somehow place the blame at this Albo fellow’s feet.”

”Now, if you’ll excuse me, the Prince is keen to celebrate and I need to get some people for him to party with. You don’t know where the nearest High school is per chance?”

Mark Williamson

@MWChatShow

You can follow The (un)Australian on twitter @TheUnOz or like us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/theunoz.

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