Burning questions

To keep things ticking over, some factless musings on the bushfire situation.

Time for a new thread. While I’m about it, two points about the bushfire crisis. To start with the obvious: it would be really interesting to see an opinion poll right now, but being what time of year it is, there are no polls to be had. Even if you remain skeptical-or-worse about the value of voting intention polling in the wake of last year’s debacle, some personal ratings on Scott Morrison would undoubtedly offer a helpful objective measure of how his image is bearing up after what has clearly been a tough couple of weeks. If you take your cues from social media, you may have concluded by now that Morrison’s career is as good as over. But if the last few years have taught us nothing else, it’s that that’s usually not a good idea. However, a News Corp pundit who generally doesn’t partake of the organisational kool-aid may have been on to something when he noted that this apprehension was “probably what tricked Morrison into thinking that all the outrage against him was confected and so he might as well go catch some rays”.

A second, less obvious point relates to an Eden-Monaro by-election that some readers of Canberra tea leaves assured us was on the cards, with one such ($) relating a view that Labor member Mike Kelly would be “gone by Christmas”. These reports asserted that the by-election would be used by state Nationals leader John Barilaro to enter federal politics with a view to deposing struggling party leader Michael McCormack. But if it’s the case that the government has suffered a bushfire-related hit to its standing, the thought of taking on a Labor-held seat at a by-election may have lost its appeal. The once-bellwether seat covers some of the worst affected areas, including the town of Cobargo, where Morrison met a hostile reception on Thursday from locals who — depending on your right-wing news source of choice — are either in no way representative of the town, or all too representative of it.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

3,738 comments on “Burning questions”

  1. jansant
    @Jansant
    ·
    4m
    .
    @abcnews
    Forrest hasn’t ‘donated $70 million dollars for bushfire relief’. $50 million of that has been given to his own charity for bushfire research, which will almost certainly be used to build political legitimacy for increased land clearing to aid his own interests. #auspol

  2. KI getting hammered. This rain cant come soon enough.

    Kangaroo Island businesses urge tourists not to abandon them after fire catastrophe:

    I have heard people with accommodation had the next 3 months fully booked. Almost all have been cancelled.

    Some peeps knew it, but most are only just starting to realise how important the national parks are to the economy.

    I will be there in March. If there is anything left.

  3. Not Sure:

    Posting a loss in a given year does not necessarily equate to a failure to do any of those things.

    In fact, unless you are on the way out backwards, it is almost certainly indicative of the opposite.

    I was mostly thinking about tax minimisation, and obviously I agree that a loss related to capital investment (that subsequently generates a return) is a valid business approach, the the important point being that the loss arises (if it does) as a side effect of the capital investment, rather than being intentional.

    I am extremely suspicious of such investments in relation to marketing – there is always a “thriving” business in selling $100 notes for $90, but spraying invested cash around in this way will never lead to anything good.

    That mostly leaves investments in more efficient operations and in better products and services.

    If the opportunity is good, why can one not:
    – borrow
    – sell equity (typically more expensive than debt)

    Several reasons:
    – commercial lending is (still) fucked in Australia – this is the main problem Mr Keating faced – he made some progress but there has been regression – one of the problems is that the commercial banks are allowed to make commercial loans to fund real estate, which has a different risk profile (which Howard and later government policy have artificially promoted)
    – timing – maybe one needs the new machine right now to grab the opportunity – maybe a good quality second hand machine is on the market and one needs to grab it – these are very likely to be legitimate
    – equity – Australian investor class basically can’t do technology investment as they don’t have the background – this is both a problem in business experience and in education

  4. Kangaroo Island – 2 major fires and the one in centre is travelling rapidly east – cutting off Kingscote from the rest of the island and the ferry at Peneshaw.

    FMD

  5. lizzie @ #3445 Thursday, January 9th, 2020 – 4:19 pm

    Has anyone heard from zoomster? I might have missed it, but things are getting a little hairier up there, even if it’s only smoke pollution as yet.

    Last I heard zoomster said everything was fine at her residence. She was evacuated, went to Eltham and then returned home again when given the go-ahead. I’m only guessing but as her sister lost her home that zoomster might be preoccupied with that.

  6. Phoenix
    I think “malignant narcissism” overeggs the pudding. It isnt a good term, diagnosis or description of Trump. It’s a vague term with no diagnostic criteria (it’s not a formally recognised condition) and Trump hasn’t shown much sadistic behaviour.
    He is however a textbook narcissist using DSM criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

  7. Pegasus:

    [‘David Leyonhjelm appeals against court ruling that he defamed Sarah Hanson-Young’]

    Without having any knowledge of the arguments of the appeal, all I can say is that Leyonhjelm must have buckets of money given that he’s up for SHY’s trial costs and if he loses on appeal, up for the appeal costs. He reminds me of Bolt, who’s never got over the adverse finding against him.

  8. ‘bakunin says:
    Thursday, January 9, 2020 at 4:19 pm

    BW,

    All I can go by is the archived sites on archive.org.
    There was no specific GMO policy in 2000, there was a GMO policy in 2005. The GMO policy was introduced somewhere between those two dates.

    The policy as definitely been revised.
    The 2005 version is far more extreme than current policy. I’d describe the 2005 policy as “zero tolerance”, whereas the current policy essentially calls for safety testing and mandatory labelling.’

    b, not correct.

    I quoted the current policy above. It calls for the immediate withdrawal ‘from the environment’ of all GMOs ‘where possible’.

    Parsing that a a policy is straight forward, IMO.

    ‘immediate’ is as a soon as the Greens enforce their BOP on Labor.
    ‘withdrawal from the environment’ means the cessation of all GMO activity outside of labs*.
    ‘where possible’ it is possible. The qualifier is that the GMOs will be withdrawn for so long as needed to ensure that that are safe. How long is that piece of string? Business uncertainty = 100%.

    *As I noted above, the Australian Greens policies are laced with new, enlarged, strengthened and better-resourced national regulatory bodies and regulations. I have argued previously that these are so tight that they would effectively drive GMO research out of Australia, would effectively strangle the deployment of GMOs in Australia, and would cause research organizations and large commodity growing investors to seek opportunities to farm more competitively overseas.

  9. Kangaroo Island – 2 major fires and the one in centre is travelling rapidly east – cutting off Kingscote from the rest of the island and the ferry at Peneshaw.

    KI due for westerlies before the rain comes tomoz morning.

  10. SK

    There was a sensible article about how we may have to move our main holiday season to winter. I forget where I saw it.

    With the increased heat many things will have to change. Maybe including our outdoor lifestyle.

    Retro fitting houses to be sealed for efficiency and stopping smoke entering may be a new Tradies boom.

  11. and Trump hasn’t shown much sadistic behaviour

    Having no qualms and losing no sleep at night over separating children from their parents and placing them in cages, not malignant enough for you!?!

  12. I think Zoomster is from somewhere near the Appleyard fire that has taken on a funny kind of shape that looks like its giving the bird because one side of it has raced ahead of the other half.

  13. E.G.T.
    I’ve had a bit of a giggle about the black market bind of some of the claimants for government fire largesse.
    About four and a half decades ago we investigated whether or not to invest in a caravan park. We began with no particular park in mind.
    We had a rellie who was very well versed in the industry and the idea was a family investment with him taking the operational lead.
    We duly toured all the caravan parks that were for sale.
    Most were in tourist areas.
    They ALL had two sets of books.
    They ALL wanted to sell to us on valuations based on the books that the ATO had no access to.
    But if they were untrustworthy enough to run two sets of books, could we even begin to trust their ‘black’ books?
    If these same peeps are now seeking compensation they will be stuck with their official set of books.

  14. Diogenes says: Thursday, January 9, 2020 at 4:26 pm

    Phoenix
    I don’t think “malignant narcissism” overeggs the pudding. It isnt a good term, diagnosis or description of Trump. It’s a vague term with no diagnostic criteria (it’s not a formally recognised condition) and Trump hasn’t shown much sadistic behaviour.
    He is however a textbook narcissist using DSM criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

    ******************************************************

    GOP strategist Steve Schmidt :

  15. C@t
    It’s getting close but most Australian politicians would count as sadists if we use that criterion given what we’ve done to kids seeking asylum. For years.

  16. thinking of bw and his self hating anti Dutch bias – reminds me of the Whitlam line about joe de Bruyn – a Dutchman who hates dykes.

  17. I’ve just had enough of the rubbish you permit on this site.

    Maybe when you stop calling people “fucking lying fraud”, that will break my heart. Until then, develop enough self-awareness to recognise that no one benefits more from my light touch around here than you do.

    Nice to see Rip van William’s finally awake.

    Well, forgive me for fucking sleeping occasionally. I’m usually on the ball when I’m awake though, like last night when I had to clean up after the latest of your many tantrums.

    Clearly you can’t please everyone in this caper, so the trick is to make sure that your critics are stupid arseholes. I seem to be doing well enough on this score, if I do say so myself.

  18. Diogenes says: Thursday, January 9, 2020 at 4:33 pm

    C@t
    It’s getting close but most Australian politicians would count as sadists if we use that criterion given what we’ve done to kids seeking asylum. For years.

    *******************************************************

    WELL SAID , Diogenes – we have the SAME situation – a FLIM FLAM narcissist (S) boasting about locking people up till they drive them crazy …..

  19. The truth behind Miranda Devine’s attack on the Greens

    https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/the-truth-behind-miranda-devines-attack-on-the-greens,13470

    As a nation and globally, we need to adopt new strategies of land, climate and ocean management. Ms Devine’s fanciful Green horror stories don’t deserve our attention.

    Unfortunately, many swinging voters in marginal electorates do believe the deliberate misinformation spread about the Greens. These are the same voters both major parties court as do other parties such as PHON.

    The Greens – such a handy scapegoat.

    The “extreme Greens” perception has been fostered and nurtured by both major political parties aided and abetted by the mainstream media.

    Whatever Labor does, it will continue to be tarred with the same brush as these voters conflate it with the Greens. However in the context of global heating and the lived experience of the bushfires, the antipathy and virulence towards the Greens will kick up another notch as the fixed-in-concrete perception of “extreme Greens”is not for shifting among these swinging voters who apparently matter more than other subsets of voters.

    As Labor attempts to distance itself from the Greens, attempts that will in all likelihood not succeed, it is a truly ironic outcome for Labor of the vilification of a minor party.

  20. Diogenes @ #3468 Thursday, January 9th, 2020 – 4:33 pm

    C@t
    It’s getting close but most Australian politicians would count as sadists if we use that criterion given what we’ve done to kids seeking asylum. For years.

    You have a point there, and keeping them there beyond 6 years is verging on the barbaric and I don’t think that Labor would ever have countenanced that. However, Trump (and his alter ego, Stephen Miller), is/are different in the sense that it was pro-active rather than reactive, as Morrison and Abbott did it to maintain the fiction of ‘Strong Borders’ and that no one who came by boat would ever be able to penetrate them again.

  21. Reading behrooz boochani on Twitter is interesting (esp that he is now in NZ). He’s certainly experienced the harshness of both major parties and was scathing about Both.

  22. Cat

    It’s always been about racism. Howard led us down the path as Labor clearly warned.

    The bottom was reached when politicians started looking for ways to get around High Court decisions protecting those human rights. The most infamous being Howard’s excision from Australian Territory and placing offshore outside our legal system.

  23. William

    Maybe when you stop calling people “fucking lying fraud”, that will break my heart. Until then, develop enough self-awareness to recognise that no one benefits more from my light touch around here than you do.

    Nobody? is that your standard? I don’t post that much – most of what I post is on subject and/or contain links of interest to others relevant to issues under discussion. And while I do a very angry post from time to time I don’t get involved in wars with other posters champing at the bit to take me on.

    Meanwhile, you seem to feel that this, posted right above yours, is less of concern:

    “Lars Von Trier says:
    Thursday, January 9, 2020 at 4:37 pm
    thinking of bw and his self hating anti Dutch bias – reminds me of the Whitlam line about joe de Bruyn – a Dutchman who hates dykes.”

    Again, I’d really like to know what sort of blog you actually want here, although if the poster stealing a Danish filmmakers name seem to be what you like I’m starting to get the idea.

  24. ”You have a point there, and keeping them there beyond 6 years is verging on the barbaric and I don’t think that Labor would ever have countenanced that.”

    We can’t know, of course, but I’m inclined to agree. I expect that Labor would have tried to revive the Malaysia deal. It would have accepted the NZ offer and may also have negotiated with the USA to get a deal similar to Malcolm’s.

  25. Well guytaur – remember when Howard overruled nt euthanasia legislation. Yet a decade later you have I think vic and wa that have the same legislation.

    Same would happen with abortion in the states – if the Supreme Court dared overturn roe v wade overnight you’d have most states (except the Deep South) legalising it.

    The difference is some politicians follow and some lead.

  26. Dio
    It goes to show how useless the media are, the message includes the words ” carve out a progressive new role within this institution” which I take to be “we are still there but with a less public role and will be seeking independent financial means” I don’t take that to mean they are quitting at all.

  27. PS, I’m not so much of a hypocrite as to get upset about this bit of implied personal abuse:

    “Clearly you can’t please everyone in this caper, so the trick is to make sure that your critics are stupid arseholes. I seem to be doing well enough on this score, if I do say so myself.”

  28. BoerWar,

    The first point of the current policy is this:

    A moratorium on the further release of GMOs into the environment until there is an adequate scientific understanding of their long term impact on the environment, human and animal health. This includes the removal as far as possible of GMOs from Australian agriculture while the moratorium is in place.

    Mandatory clear and obvious labelling of all foods containing any ingredient, additive, processing aid or other constituent produced using GMOs.

    The 2005 policy was:

    8.2.1 immediately revise the Commonwealth Gene Technology Act 2000 in order to enact a five-year moratorium on the release of any GEOs into the Australian environment for trial or commercial purposes; and review and amend the Act to:

    – create a ‘one stop shop’ that ensures future mandatory notification, assessment, licensing and monitoring of all uses of gene technology, without exception
    – ensure the assessment process is fair, and is by independent (non-industry) scientists and community representatives

    8.2.2 where possible, remove all GEOs from the Australian environment at large

    8.2.3 remove all foodstuffs produced using gene technology from sale while the moratorium is in place

    8.2.4 until these foodstuffs are prohibited, require mandatory and accurate labelling of all foods containing any ingredient, additive, processing aid or other constituent produced using gene technology

    There is no restricting clause on the removal of GEO’s from the environment in the 2005 policy.

    You’ll find that the policy is aimed at the needs of farmers in the organic and biodynamic sector where GMO contamination is a major threat to the industry.

  29. I am not sure but I suspect that Harry would have to formally renounce his spot in the succession to the throne for him not to be a member of the Royal Family.

    Lesser arrangements such as emoluments, duties, living quarters and so on and so forth would, I imagine, be partly at the behest of the reigning monarch and partly depend on how much the Commons would be willing to wear. Charles has already signalled strongly that he is going to reduce the number of royal freeloaders.

  30. “What would make me not want to visit this site is the presence of commenters stupid enough to single out this comment while ignoring the “fucking lying fraud” post to which it was responding.”

    William, as I said in my earlier post, I couldn’t be bothered reviewing all of the posts contributing to these sorts of internal brawls. I saw that post (on one of my rare visits these days for the reasons I have outlined) and picked that as an example of the sort of post that I find a turn off.

    However, if your assessment of my post leads you to label me as “stupid” so be it. I find that regrettable and quite extraordinary in the context of the petty and vindictive brawling that now characterises your once illuminating blog site.

  31. bakunin

    “You’ll find that the policy is aimed at the needs of farmers in the organic and biodynamic sector where GMO contamination is a major threat to the industry.”

    Exactly.

    Tasmania’s GMO ban good news for some, a ‘missed opportunity’ for others:
    https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2019-08-08/tasmania-vows-to-keep-its-food-clean-and-green-and-gmo-free/11391852

    Tasmania’s ban on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) will continue for another 10 years. Fruit growers and honey producers could not be happier, but some farmers say it is a missed opportunity.

    Tasmania is the only state to have a blanket GMO ban, which has been in place since 2001 after genetically altered canola escaped from trial crops at secret sites around the state.

    “In the past 12 months our agricultural production has increased by 9 per cent or $1.6 billion and our GMO-free status is an important part of the Tasmanian brand,” Primary Industries Minister Guy Barnett said.

    Mr Barnett said the review of the GMO ban received 76 submissions and an overwhelming number were in favour of extending the moratorium.

  32. Fire threatening KI’s Vivonne Bay, voted worlds best beach in 2003. That is immediately west of two large conservation areas – Seal Bay CP and Cape Gantheaume Wilderness Area. Westerlies predicted between now and the rain. Rain due in the early hours of the morning.

    I feel sick.

  33. Harry is Di’s son and I don’t think has ever forgiven the death of his mother. Diana was happy to publicly bring down Charles as much as she could. Now Harry is married to an independently minded American who will be happy to separate him from his traditions and his family. What could possibly go wrong?

  34. Mb
    I gather there is a semi formal structure of roles in British monarchy, one of which is “senior royal” which is basically a full time job from which they have resigned.
    So they’ve gone from permanent full time to permanent part time but might go casual. 🙂

  35. Emma Dawson
    @DawsonEJ
    ·
    5m
    This isn’t your job, Twiggy. We have elected representatives to make such decisions and establish the necessary bodies. We have the CSIRO and BoM. This isn’t a kingdom of which you are the ruler – pay your damned taxes and let those we elect make decisions on our behalf. #auspol
    ***

    Howard Walter @HowardWalter1
    · 36m
    Mr Forrest said he hoped to raise $500 million through a global campaign to establish a long-term bushfire research project. https://abc.net.au/news/2020-01-09/andrew-forrest-pledges-$70m-donation-to-bushfire-relief/11854654

  36. Now Harry is married to an independently minded American who will be happy to separate him from his traditions and his family. What could possibly go wrong?

    Sounds like married bliss.

  37. Dio

    Speaking of Australian politicians, do you have any views on Morrison and the DSM criteria? I have been struck by how little affect the PM seems to show when visiting the fires. He often just looks blank. Likewise the immediate easy switch to lies when caught out today. Am I over imagining?

  38. b
    The Greens GMO police would have the immediate practical impact of sending Australian GMO research overseas and withdrawing all GMO from cropping and animal ag. This would have immediate and large repercussions on the cotton industry.

    It would also destroy existing field trials in other crops. There can be no doubt that this would drive GMO research overseas.

    New and strengthened regulation is, as per usual in Greens policies, part of the policy implementation framework.

    No GMO investors are going to hang around while the Greens sort themselves out.

    I take us back to the context of the discussion which was how it is that the Greens receive such low votes in rural and regional areas. Their GMO policies are just one of a suite of policies that all lean in the same direction. Rural and regional voters know this. They don’t like it. In spades. Which is why the Greens vote is low in rural and regional electorates.

    If rural and regional voters have a view that Labor is Greens Lite – a view promulgated by both the Coalition and the Greens, and if they have a view that Labor will be blackmailed by the Greens BOP, again a view promulgated by both the Coalition and the Greens, then Labor is going to continue being smashed in the 34 regional electorates in the large states.

    This, in turn, gives the Coalition a head start of around 30 seats before the first vote is even cast.

    Breaking this nexus is one of the important tasks of Labor over the next three years.

  39. Seems that everyone’s an expert on the fires and AGW.

    Rod_Hagen
    @Rod_Hagen
    ·
    3m
    Had argument today with alleged US “Archaeologist” who claimed Flinders (turned out he meant Dampier 100 years earlier) had sailed “between Sydney and Brisbane” (turned out he meant a little bit of WA) saying “coast was ablaze” as proof no climate change! HeyHo Dingbat evidence?

  40. This story is not fire related but still pretty grim. People are fleeing Arukun Aboriginal settlement for Coen due to violence. That is 250km of rough dirt road and 5 or 6 hours driving. Nobody would do that trip unless they had to. So all those policies to reduce Aboriginal welfare costs are going great.
    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-01-09/aurukun-refugees-head-to-coen-cause-overcrowding/11853362

    One of the most depressing experiences in my PS career many years ago was to visit Arukun Aboriginal settlement in north Qld. It was scary then and nothing seems to have changed.

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