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Can’t Happen Here – We’re the lucky country, right?


Some articles of news. The first is a report about a man arrested over a large horde of explosive material.

Man held over explosive charges

Paul Millar

July 27, 2011

A VICTORIAN man who was allegedly tracked by ASIO importing bomb-making equipment bought on eBay last night said he wanted the explosives to ‘‘make fire-crackers’’.

An out-of-sessions hearing in Castlemaine heard that Phillip John Marsh, 35, had been under surveillance after making the purchases, which included anti-personnel mines.

He denied involvement in terrorist activities. But the bail justice, who said that Marsh’s explanation ‘‘did not give me any comfort’’, remanded him in custody.

Detective Senior Constable Andrew Beans said Victoria Police had been alerted by federal police that Marsh  ‘‘actively uses eBay to buy explosive chemicals’’ from Britain and the US.

Over 12 months he had spent up to $17,000 on Ebay purchases.

‘‘He had the capability of making five kilograms of explosives’’ which could be activated within 15 minutes, he said.

The detective told the hearing that Marsh had a keen interest in firearms and military paraphernalia and an improvised explosive device and a relay timer trigger had been discovered at his Etty Road home during a search yesterday.

Marsh  was charged with reckless conduct endangering life, reckless conduct endangering serious injury and four counts of possession of explosive substances.

Marsh, due to appear in the Bendigo Magistrates Court today, said he was involved in an innocent hobby.

‘‘I do not believe that I was a danger to the community,’’ he said.

‘‘My intention was not to blow anybody up, or any property, it was just to make fire-crackers,’’ he said.


Fireworks from anti-personnel mines. Sure. I’ll buy that. 


The next article I would like to swing your way is in regards to the economy so if you are Tony Abbott and that kind of stuff does not interest you, skip ahead.

Productivity critical now the good old days are gone: RBA

RESERVE Bank governor Glenn Stevens has urged the federal government to confront the nation’s dismal rate of productivity growth, saying that the mining boom has masked a dramatic downshift in consumer spending.

In a landmark speech, Mr Stevens said Australia was unlikely to return to the era of the 1990s to mid 2000s when large mortgages and rising house prices helped fund a consumer spending binge, saying those “good old days” were unlikely to return.

He said there was a “new conservatism” among Australian households and hinted that the country would be in the middle of a housing market crash like that witnessed in the US and parts of Europe had it not been for the huge rise in Australian income driven by a once-in-a-century mining investment cycle.

He highlighted the structural changes in the economy, which included the high Australian dollar and spending habits turning to lower, historical trends, savaging the profits of the nation’s retailers accustomed to higher growth. If not for the rise in national income and terms of trade — the difference between the price Australia gets for its export and pays for its imports — this would have led to a “considerably more difficult period of adjustment”. The growth in borrowing against homes from 1995 to 2005 was unusual, he said, and “it was bound to end”.

“Had we really found a powerful, hitherto unknown route to genuine wealth? Or was this period unusual? Looking back, it appears the latter was the case,” he said.

Mr Stevens said the global financial crisis and ensuing credit crunch ensured the “financial source of upward pressure on housing values will abate”, in effect warning the era of stellar rises in home prices was over.

While the consumer binge until about 2005 would not return, he noted that consumer mood could lift noticeably when the raft of uncertainties in the international environment lift, “so I don’t think we need to be totally gloomy”.

Europe is in the middle of the sovereign debt crisis while in the US President Barack Obama is warning of “financial armageddon” if Washington cannot find a resolution to its own debt crisis by next Tuesday, when congress has to approve an increase in the country’s $US14.3 trillion ($13 trillion) debt limit or start defaulting on its obligations.

Mr Stevens said in the era of renewed consumer restraint and a peak in the terms of trade growth rate, the Australian economy’s future rested on productivity improvements.

“As everyone in this room would know, there is only one source of ongoing higher rates of growth of real per capita incomes, and that is higher rates of growth of productivity. Everyone here also knows that it is now just about impossible to avoid the conclusion that productivity growth performance has been quite poor since at least the mid 2000s,” he said.

Australia learned to produce more with less through the 1990s, supported by Hawke, Keating and Howard government reforms that included the floating of the dollar, banking industry deregulation, tariff cuts and the the GST.

But productivity growth has dropped back sharply since then, despite Julia Gillard’s vow to embrace Labor’s reformist legacy. Discontent over Canberra’s policymaking has now spread to some of the nation’s most respected business leaders.

Mr Stevens said periods of easy affluence had distracted attention from productivity in the past but said the issue was “quite critical”, especially in the retail, tourism and manufacturing trouble spots of the economy. “You’ve got product prices under downward pressure, costs under upward pressure. How are you going to square the circle? Well, productivity’s really the only answer to that question,” he said.

The RBA governor identified labour market regulation and imposition of new occupational health and safety and governance standards as areas for reform.

Wayne Swan last night told a small business conference in Sydney the sector should expect to share in a $1.9 billion boost to the economy from surplus assistance to households as part of the carbon price package.

A spokesman for the Treasurer said Labor would not repeat the Howard government’s “decade of neglect” of skills and infrastructure and was determined to address the long-term structural decline in productivity.


What I don’t get then is why no one is talking about the government’s proposed raising of the no tax threshold to $18,000. Pretty sure that would do something for productivity.

But can’t also help thinking that now the so called 500 emitters have to factor in the price of carbon into their prices, they will have to discover how to do more for less. Wonder if that will help productivity? If you listen to the coalition, when pressure is applied to business, it does not work as it does not change their behaviour. Yet quite a lot of their policies are aimed to pressure tax payers to change their behaviour. Yes I understand a business is not the same as a human, but pretty sure they both respond to financial stimulus. Or lack of it.

I still am concerned with the general feeling of doom and gloom post the announcement that the Australian Dollar will soon have to step up and get ready to take its place as a currency to not only watch, but invest in. At a $1.09 the dollar is more and more a sign of the power of the economy we have.

More and more the call goes to increase our take of skilled workers to fill roles that will be powered by this investment. Unemployment is at a remarkably low rate and both the government and the opposition would like to lower it some more, but eventually we are going to have to bite the bullet and increase immigration.

I still remember in the 1980’s-1990’s the way to make your fortune was to go overseas, especially to the USA. Now less then 30 years later, the reverse is becoming true. The rise in unemployment in European countries and the USA are acting like push factors and the high prospects of growth and stability is acting like a pull factor.

Speaking of push and pull factors, the final piece is from the always most interesting Mumble.

Beginners’ guide to the politics of boatpeople

Here’s a quick course on the politics of refugees in Australia.

When lots of asylum seekers arrive by boat, it’s bad for the Labor Party and good for the Coalition. This is independent of which side happens to be in government.

Right now the ALP wants the issue to go away and the Coalition wants it to stay.

Statements don’t often come more bleedin’ obvious than this, but it does seem to get lost in some of the analysis.

In the final years of the Howard government the boats slowed to a trickle, which took the issue off the front pages and released pressure on the Labor opposition. That’s just one of those things.

Some in the government believe the solution is to talk extra tough. Like Julia Gillard did within minutes of becoming prime minister last year. It didn’t work.

As with her “small Australia” whistle stop tour of western Sydney she simply authorised the opposition’s often extreme language. By attempting to trump Tony Abbott she peeled off some of her prime ministerial authority and handed it to him.

The only thing that will work for the ALP is for the boats to, once again, slow.

Meanwhile the Coalition uses the fig-leaf of concern for the well-being of the human cargo. That’s what Australians care about, they say. But really Australians just want the boats gone, and if this involves some rough treatment so be it.

The issue of boat arrivals seeps into asylum seekers more generally which bleeds into refugees in general and then into the big topic of immigration. Add something to each subset for the Muslim dimension. There’s little logic in the highly-charged discussion.

The Labor government used to deny the existence of “pull factors” but now embraces the concept. The Coalition sheets the all blame for any increase in arrivals onto government policy, but attributes any drop (like in the last year) to “push factors”.

The government’s addiction to the elusive hit of instant gratification, predilection for bogan diplomacy and general incompetence have all been on show with the “Malaysia solution”. There’s a good “gotcha” moment of ALP hypocrisy when recalling their complaints about the treatment of refugees under John Howard.

In the short term it makes political sense for the Coalition to pick this deal apart. But somewhere along the way the Liberals seem to have imbibed their own press. The facade has become the driving force, and they behave as if voters actually care about the treatment of asylum seekers. Joe Hockey almost bursts into tears when contemplating the fate that might await these people in Malaysia.

Howard and Philip Ruddock showed that tough love for boatpeople goes down well in voterland. And just last year Abbott was complaining about their “red carpet” treatment in the “idyllic” Adelaide Hills.

Meanwhile, we remain as far as I know the planet’s only advanced democracy to lead its news with asylum seeker policy, day after day after day. It doesn’t happen overseas and it didn’t used to happen here.

It’s because of the 2001 election and the settled conclusion that “Tampa” and “children overboard” decided the outcome. I reckon it’s a wrong analysis and the Howard government was headed for victory anyway, but everything—the reporting and party strategies—flows from that.

But beyond the next few weeks, the only thing that matters politically about the Malaysian deal is whether it significantly slows the boats.


Ask an asylum seeker why they risked their life to get here and the inevitable answer is for a better life. This is politicised skilfully by the shock jocks and the opposition to make us believe that this means a better life on welfare. It is the most terrible of smears.

While it takes much longer for refugees to get used to a new language and break the communications barrier, their idea of a better life is much more different then riding the welfare train. Most begin to seek employment as soon as they can. Many that may have qualifications either have to return to education or take menial jobs. The drive for a better life is still strong within them regardless.

And their children feed off this drive. Many overachieve. Some crash and burn under expectation. But it is not rare to see a second generation of immigrant refugees not only working, but running their own businesses.

I bring the three pieces together to show us that this country is facing inevitable changes in the way work is worked in this country and the way business conducts business. There will be a drive to bring in more and more immigrants and with that the other inevitable change is how we tolerate one another. And so the question must be posed.

Will we be welcoming to those who will join our nation, or will we make fireworks?

A. Ghebranious  2011 (All Rights Reserved)

One Comment
  1. Jennifer Baratta permalink

    Still have no agreement on debt ceiling yet. Oh and next year is the presidentail election along with Congresss. They play games we tax payers lose. By the way Congress is getting the anger from the tax payers on twitter email and phone. have a nice day Ash.

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