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Part 1:Are Minority Governments Becoming De jure?

Posted by sapidblog on 26 September, 2010

This post has been in my drafts for a while so it’s beyond time to finish it. So I will publish it in two-parts so that it is more manageable. FCNN84DQDUFT  

The Proposition:  

In Australia we tend to think that our new minority government is the exception rather than the rule. But could it be that minority government is becoming the rule rather than an exception – even in Australia? The purpose of this article is to argue against the orthodox the proposition that:   

our present minority government is an aberration that will soon correct itself and we’ll return to our more familiar two-party Australian system of a majority from either Labor or the Liberal-National Party Coalition forming government.   

What’s Happening in Europe?  

The Swedish elections held most recently on 19th September found the ruling centre-right party (Alliansen) falling 3 seats short of forming a majority against the Socialdemokraterna (the Social Democrats), who have continued to lose ground since the previous 2006 election. The extreme-right-wing party Sverigedemokraterna (the Sweden Democrats) increased its vote and now holds a key position in the new hung parliament.   

In the Belgium elections held on 13th June, this year, the New Flemish Alliance of Belgium (NVA) gained 27 seats to lead the Socialist Party tally of 26 (of the 150 seats of the legislative Parliament). Of the remaining seats, the Socialists (PS) hold 18 and the Christian Democrats 17. The NVA party stood on a separatist platform of dividing the northern Dutch-speaking region of Flanders from the French-speaking region of Wallonia. However, in order to form government, the NVA must first construct a minority government with a Walloon-based party, so separation seems unlikely in the near future.  

Iveta Radičová new Prime Minister of Slovakia

Iveta Radičová new Prime Minister of Slovakia (click on image to go to the original page)

The Slovakian Elections held on the 12th June, were supposed to be “reassuringly boring” but instead resulted in the 4-center-right parties forming a new coalition with a total of 79 seats in a 150-seat  parliament. The surprise was not so much a decline in support for former Prime Minister Robert Fico, whose party Smer-SD (Direction-Social Democracy) increased in percentage of the popular vote, but that a sharp drop in support for his leftist political allies allowed a coalition of center-right opposition parties to replace them. As a result, Iveta Radičová has become the first-female Prime Minister of Slovakia after Fico failed to form a coalition government.    

In the Netherlands elections held on 9 June 2010 this year, the Liberal VVD party held 31 seats to the Labour party (PvdA) with 30 in a 150-seat parliament. The surprise was the 24 seats gained by far-right Party for Freedom (PVV), led by Geert Wilders who is currently facing prosecution for incitement to racial hatred for his outspoken anti-Islamic statements. After four months of backroom discussions it now seems that the VVD of Mark Rutte will form a minority government with the Christian Democrats (CD) and the PVV of Geert Wilders (with the slimmest margin of 76 seats in a 150 seat parliament - a remarkably similar situation – numbers-wise – to that in Canberra).  

Elections in the Czech Republic for the legislative Chamber of Deputies took place on 28–29 May 2010 also resulted in a Conservative-right coalition of parties, ousting  Jiří Paroubek, who led the Social Democrats  (ČSSD) and gained the largest percentage of popular support but was unable to form a minority government. The Czech Republic had previously been governed by a Caretaker administration after former Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek had lost a crushing no-confidence vote during 2009. 

So far 2010 has been a watershed year for Europe with the political landscape making a seismic-shift, but not in a uniform manner, some increased support has gone to the right-of-centre parties but fractionated between other groupings as well. Could it be that, in our current situation in Australia, that we are caught up in international trends that we have so-far overlooked?  

The counter-argument to this is: no, what’s this to do with Australia? European politics has never had anything in common with Australia and European parliaments are commonly multi-party and use proportional voting systems. Bearing this in mind, but proceding with our argument, let’s first examine what’s happening in the rest of the Commonwealth …   

What’s Happening in the Rest of the Commonwealth?   

We now have minority governments in those other Commonwealth nations with which we strongly identify: in Britain, Canada and New Zealand.  After our Federal elections on 21 August, Australian has joined those other Commonwealth nations with a minority government. Sapidblog argues that this is no accident and is part of an international trend to greater fractionation of political support. Sapidblog also suggests that we in Australia are in for a much longer period of minority government than most of the pundits currently predict.  

To be continued in Part 2 …

Posted in Australian, Politics, world | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Of Whales, Levies and Anarchy

Posted by sapidblog on 14 September, 2010

Humpback Whale
Humpback Whale (click to go to the original site)

Last week Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Associate Professor Clevo Wilson gained considerable attention in the National and International media outlets for his proposal to end whaling by placing a levy on whale watching tourism, at about $A5 per person, and paying the proceeds as compensation for Japan to cease its whaling activities  in the Southern Ocean. This story was also widely carried in Japan itself. Now killing whales is one thing that Sapidblog is passionately opposed to and we started thinking about sending Professor Wilson a sharply worded email missive about the craziness of this idea of rewarding the culprits. This seems to be a common response, for example, to the article in the Courier Mail ["Cash plan to end Japanese whaling"] Bazza of Brisbane commented that:

This Whale killing by Japan is an illegal act. Why should we pay a criminals to [sic] stop illegal acts. Next you will want us to pay burglers [sic] to stop robbing houses, or pay bad guys to stop robbing banks!

Though we regard killing whales in the Southern Ocean as being immoral, it’s harder to demonstrate that whaling is actually illegal or criminal. This is an important point that we’ll return to, but for the moment, let’s agree that proving whaling is illegal is difficult, then what hope is there for a passionate whale conservationist? There are 4 possible avenues to pursue whale conservation, as described in turn below:  

Avenue 1: We could wait and see what happens in Australia’s dispute against Japan in the International Court of Justice (ICJ – sometimes called the “World Court”). But for this you’ll need the patience of Job since the published schedule of pleadings indicate that Australia has until May 2011 to make its petition and that Japan has until March 2012 to make a counter-petition. Even after that there is time reserved for further processing! Evidently, the wheels of Justice grind very slowly.

Avenue 2: We could try to appeal through the International Whaling Commission (IWC) which is charged with regulating Whaling.  In 1986 the IWC  successfully brought about the international moratorium on commercial whaling which, in the intervening period, has seen whale populations replenished and has saved some whale species from the verge of extinction. However, since 1986 the IWC has become deadlocked and ineffective. Further, since the ICW is not backed by Treaty it has no effective way of enforcing its regulations. For instance, consider the ways in which the 3 pro-whaling nations of Norway, Japan and Iceland have continued whaling in spite of the 1986 moratorium:

Additionally, at the 1994 meeting of the IWC the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary was established to reduce the pressure of whaling on whale populations. Under the research provisions, Japan is permitted to whale in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary (which is only a sanctuary from commercial whaling – not whaling under the guise of research). Finally, at the most recent meeting of the IWC in 2010 Greenland (Denmark) was granted permission to revise its whaling catch for 2010/11 under the provision for indigenous catch limits, including a new limit of 9  Humpback whales, which are still considered to be endangered. 

In summary, the 3 pro-commercial whaling nations (Norway, Japan and Iceland) have succeeded in rendering the majority of other non-whaling and indigenous-whaling member nations of the IWC (currently standing at 88 total member nations)  ineffective in altering the status quo since 1986.

Avenue 3: Then there is the anarchist Direct Action program against Japanese Whaling by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, led by Paul Watson. The efforts of the Sea Shepherds against Japanese Whaling have been popularised  in the Discovery Channel-based series Whale Wars, which is now into its 3rd year. The Sea Shepherds use some of the following tactics against the Japanese Whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean: throwing butyric acid “stink bombs” onto the decks, placing long-mooring lines called “prop foulers” into the course of vessels to disable propellers, boarding of Japanese vessels by Sea Shepherd crew members (more detail shown in the YouTube video below). This certainly makes for riveting TV but is it effective in stopping Whaling?

The Whale Wars between the Japanese Whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean and the Sea Shepherds has been going on for 6 years but each year seems to signal a further escalation in the conflict. Earlier this year the Sea Shepherd vessel the Ady Gil was sunk after a collision with the Shōnan Maru No. 2 and loss of life was only narrowly avoided.  One can only assume that further escalation in the whaling season 2010/11 could lead to actual loss of life.

Ironically, Jun Morikawa (1) argues that, the Sea Shepherd’s confrontational tactics have only strengthened  the Japanese resolve to use whaling  “as a talismanic symbol of Japanese identity and a touchstone of nationalism” and to assert that: “anti-whaling activists are guilty of cultural imperialism” (quoted from the Japan Times).

Avenue 4: This brings us back to considering the whale tourism levy proposal of Professor Clevo Wilson that we started with. After setting this proposal in the context of the international whale conservation and management issues, as discussed above, this is looking like a much more attractive option. The core of this proposal is that whales can be considered to be a “Common Property” resource where the total net benefit is lower when the appropriators (in this case the whale tourists vs the Japanese whalers) act independently than when they coordinate their activities. Currently, whale tourist operators don’t see the connection between their business and that of the Japanese whalers (nor vice versa). Which is why the proposal so far has generated mainly negative reactions.

However, if the whalers were able to realise that they could derive benefit from the increased income generated from eco-tourism in whales (more than US$2 billion dollars in expenditure annually – according to the QUT media release) then they would be more inclined to change their way of life and traditions. Likewise, if the whale tourist operators were able to see the benefit to their businesses of having more plentiful whales, and whales coming closer to the shoreline, then they would be more willing to compensate the whalers for taking fewer whales and thus ensuring that their livelihood is maintained (along with longevity of life for the whales).

From some of the media releases reporting Professor Wilson, I assume that the whale levy would be voluntarily paid by beneficiaries of whale tourism, i.e., the eco-tourism operators through a minor increase in charges to the paying public. From what I have read, I get no sense that the whale levy would be mandated by the power of the State; it would be purely voluntary out of rational self-interest. It was this realisation that prompted me to write this article. I finally tweaked to what was really going on here: he’s proposing an anarchic solution! An anarcho-capitalist solution sure – but anarchy nonetheless. We overcome the stagnant-mire that nation-state power has got us into – be it through the International Court or the International Whaling Commission – by taking collective-individal action and bypassing the State altogether.

Conclusions: International whaling is one example of an array of complex global sustainability problems that we face: a complex global problem for which the conventional Nation-State power has been demonstrably unable to resolve. Interestingly, looking at the avenues above proposed for solution to the global whaling dilemma, two avenues both involve anarchy (in the philosophical sense) through either the direct action of the Sea Shepherds or the anarcho-capitalism proposed by Clevo Wilson.  If whaling is any guide, I guess there are somethings that national governments don’t do well, such as balancing global needs with national desires.

Reference:

(1) WHALING IN JAPAN: Power, Politics and Diplomacy, by Jun Morikawa. Hurst and Company, 2009.

Posted in anarchy, economics, Whaling | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Black Swan

Posted by sapidblog on 12 September, 2010

Black Swan

Black Swan (click to see image at the original site)

The Sydney Swans lost in a close Semi Final game to the Western Bulldogs yesterday. Ironically, by the same margin of 5 points that they won by last week against Carlton. Good luck to the Bulldogs in next week’s Preliminary Final.

Unfortunately, this is the last game for coach Paul Roos and for captain Brett Kirk who both now go into retirement after memorable careers. Best wishes guys!

It seems likely that the current Swans “Coaching Co-Ordinator”, John Longmire will replace Paul Roos as Head Coach for 2011.

Posted in AFL Football | Leave a Comment »

Reserve Powers of the Governor-General

Posted by sapidblog on 11 September, 2010

It is quite possible during this period of a hung parliament that the Governor-General Ms Quentin Bryce might be required to exercise her reserve power. So what are they? A reserve power is a power that can be used by the head of state without involvement of another branch of government (but usually only in exceptional circumstances). The reserve power is part of the unwritten conventions that serve to flesh-out the bare bones of the written constitution. Since they are conventions, and not codified in law, the effect is through public opinion rather than through legal processes. However, use of reserve power outside of the conventions would usually precipitate a constitutional crisis as happened in Australia in 1975.

In Australia, the reserve powers of the Governor-General include:

  • the power to appoint a Prime Minister
  • the power to dismiss a Prime Minister (and therefore the government)
  • the power to dissolve the House of Representatives
  • the power to dissolve both houses of Parliament (a double dissolution)

Peter Gerangelos argued in The Australian on Friday that these particular powers are not merely conventions but are specifically vested in the Governor-General by the Constitution and would be Judicially enforceable. Following the processes of suggested by Peter Gerangelos in that article, so far the current Governor-General has followed her constitutional role assiduously by accepting the advice of the Caretaker Prime Minister and commissioning a ALP minority government. Now that the ministry and cabinet have been decided they can be duly sworn into office.

The test for Australia’s new minority government will occur on the floor of the House of Representative when it sits later in the month. If the government loses a no-confidence motion then the Prime Minister must either resign or advise the Governor-General to dissolve parliament. If the Prime Minister takes neither course of action then the Governor-General can exercise the reserve power of dismissal, which will result in a fresh election in due course.

Another test for the Governor-General will occur if, like the Harper minority Conservative government in Canada in 2008-9, the Prime Minister seeks to prorogue Parliament rather than face a no-confidence motion on the floor of the House. Proroguing of Parliament is another reserve power of the Governor-General which places the Parliament into a caretaker mode where no new-business can be enacted. In the Westminster System, a Parliament can remain prorogued for up to a year before a new election must be called.

The Governor-General of Canada, Michaëlle Jean, on 4 December 2008 prorogued the Canadian Parliament on advice from Prime Minister Stephen Harper in order to avoid a likely no-confidence motion. The prorogation lasted until 26 January, 2009 after which the opposition from the other minority parties dissolved and a confidence vote, with support from the Liberal Party, passed a few days later. A second prorogation of the Canadian Parliament occurred on 30 December 2009 until after the 2010 Winter Olympics on 3 March 2010, caused international criticism for being undemocratic.

A further possibility for a constitutional crisis in Australia, in the coming months, arises from a hostile Senate blocking bills from the minority House. An obstructionist Senate was the basis for the previous constitutional crisis in 1975. Senator Steve Fielding, who holds the balance of power in the Senate has threatened to side with the Coalition to block everything for the next 10 months until, as it seems likely, his term expires 1 July 2011.  More recently, he has moved away from this obstructionist stance but the minority Labor government still needs support from Steve Fielding, Nick Xenophon and the Greens in order to pass legislation through the Senate until the Greens gain the balance of power in July next year.

As well, history teaches us to expect the unexpected. So the Governor-General Ms Quentin Bryce should be prepared to drop all of her engagements and travel plans, at a moments notice, in order to accommodate a constitutional crisis, or two, any time over the next few years.

Posted in history, legal, Politics | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Lashing Out

Posted by sapidblog on 8 September, 2010

After my posting yesterday reflecting upon the previous hung parliament in 1940 I would have thought that the best way for Tony Abbott and the Coalition parties to regain government would have been to demonstrate that they are a credible and responsible alternative government. The Coalition needed to be ready to replace Gillard and the ALP if and when they fall apart through internal divisions. As this was the case with the parties and names switched around in 1940 when Curtin and ALP replaced Faddon and the Coalition.

Instead the current Coalition members fell upon the new government like a pack of rabid dogs:

National Party Senator Ron Boswell accused Tony Windsor of making his decision based on purely on malice: “It must be pay back and there’s no, there’s no secret of the fact that Windsor, since John Anderson did him over in a pre-selection, he’s had a chip on his shoulder for 10 years. “

This was also picked up by Liberal party member Kevin Andrews: “I don’t think Tony Windsor’s ever gotten over his falling out with the National Party.” 

Ron Boswell also accused Rob Oakeshott of acting only out of malice: “Oakeshott has always been a Labor Party person masquerading in National Party clothing and this is why I say the only reason it could be, because it must be payback.”

Liberal Senator George Brandis claimed that the “government has as much legitimacy as the Pakistani cricket team.”

Liberal representative Joe Hockey said of the new government that it was: “It is a marriage of convenience. The pre-nuptial agreement will not last …. the couple are already arguing and they haven’t even left the wedding chapel.

Reference source ABC Radio PM: http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2010/s3006486.htm

If this is the level of serious debate that we can expect in the next few years then we might will end up with the worse case scenario that I mentioned yesterday: a constitutional crisis precipitated by political grandstanding and gamesmanship, requiring that the Governor-General intervene and use her Reserve Powers. I sure hope not.

Just to set the record correctly: what Ron Boswell and Kevin Anderson seem to be referring to in their comments is reviving bitterness dating back 22 years to 1988 when Tony Windsor first stood for National Party preselection for the Federal seat of Gywdir but lost to John Anderson. Then in 1991 NSW State elections Tony Windsor stood again, this time  for the seat of Tamworth, for the National Party, and was the originally the preferred candidate, but was passed-over when allegations of drink-driving surfaced on the day of preselection. He stood as an independent and won the seat to became one of three independents holding the balance of power in a  hung Legislative Assembly. After serving in the NSW Legislative Assembly until 1999 Tony Windsor then moved to Federal politics in his current seat of New England, which he first won in 2001 (but only after sparring with John Anderson about contesting the neighbouring seat of Gywdir against him as an independent). In 2004 bitterness re-emerged when Tony Windsor accused John Anderson of being involved in illegally offering him a bribe for him to resign his seat of New England in exchange for a diplomatic posting.

Discussing politics in Sapidblog is giving me a headache. I’m going to quit discussing politics for a while.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

The Last Time We Had a Hung Federal Parliament (1940)

Posted by sapidblog on 7 September, 2010

The Hung Parliament 2010 versus 1940:

With independent politicians Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott siding earlier today with the Australian Labor Party we now have Julia Gillard as Prime Minister of a hung Parliament. The last time we had a hung Federal Parliament was after the 1940 elections when Robert Menzies led the United Australia Party (UAP – to become the Liberal Party in 1947) in coalition with the Country Party (CP – led by Archie Cameron) against the Australian Labor Party (ALP – led by John Curtin). In the 1940 election John Curtin was only narrowly elected in his own seat of Fremantle.

What Happened Last Time (1940)?

I think that it is highly instructive to understand what happened back in 1940 that we might better understand our current  unfamiliar situation. The 1940 election returned 36 UAP/CP coalition seats to 36 ALP seats with 2 independent seats belonging to Arthur Coles and Alexander Wilson (in a 74-seat House of Representatives). The independents initially sided with the Coalition which allowed Robert Menzies to retain the office of Prime Minister in 1940. The two independents then switched their support to Labor in 1941, after the coalition became mired in internal divisions, making  John Curtin the Prime Minister and bringing the ALP into government. There is little doubt that the independents made the correct decision as  John Curtin proved himself the man for the hour once the war spread to the Pacific and began to threaten Australia.  General Douglas MacArthur said that Curtin was “one of the greatest of the wartime statesmen.” The hung parliament of 1940 proved to be the crucible from which one of Australia’s greatest leaders in John Curtin was forged. With Curtin as leader, the ALP won the next election in 1943 in a landslide.   The 1940 hung parliament was also a crucible for forging Robert Menzies who returned as a much stronger leader to win the 1949 election for the Liberal Party and remained in power until 1966.]

Parallels Between the 2010 and 1940 Elections:

In researching this article I was surprised by some of the parallels between 1940 and 2010 but with names and parties interchanged. As with Julia Gillard, Robert Menzies had previously held the office of Prime Minister, without being elected to that office by the people. In the case of Robert Menzies, he had assumed office after the unexpected death of the previous Prime Minister Joseph Lyons in 1939.  Similarly, to Julia Gillard, Menzies elevation to Prime Minister attracted considerable public controversy: between Rudd and Gillard and CP leader Earle Page and Menzies, respectively. The controversy between Rudd and Gillard is still fresh in our memory, though kept to some degree out of the spotlight, it spilled into the public sphere several times during the 2010 election campaign through “leaks” to the media. From about 1938, public animosity developed between Menzies and Page which became more aggravated when Page assumed the role of Acting Prime Minister during Lyons’ illness. In April 1939,  Page became caretaker Prime Minster after Lyons’ death, for 3 weeks until the UAP could elect a leader. When Menzies was elected as the leader of the UAP (and automatically the Prime Minister), the acrimony between the two was so great that Page led the Country Party out of the coalition. When war broke out in September, 1939, the Country Party persuaded Page to resign so that the coalition could be resumed. Archie Cameron was elected to lead the Country Party (and became the 2nd-ranking minister of the coalition – the position of Deputy Prime Minister not having been mandated until 1968).

The Role of the Independents in 1940:

Back to the hung Parliament of 1940, the decision of  independents Coles and Wilson to support the Menzies-led coalition was made easier than for Windsor and Oakeshott by divisions within the Labor Party. The Labor Party was divided along Federal and NSW State lines by the second Lang-led succession which stood in the 1940 election as ALP (non-communist) and held 4 seats (compared with 32 seats for Federal ALP). When William McKell ousted J. T. “Jack” Lang and subsequently became Premier of NSW in 1941 the Lang-ALP members rejoined the ALP and paved the way for the independents Coles and Wilson to change their support to John Curtin. Interestingly, Arthur Coles was one of the Coles Brothers who formed Coles Variety stores in the 1920s (now the Coles Group).

 The Fall of the Coalition 1941:

At the same time that divisions within the ALP began to heal, the wounds within the Coalition parties began to cause serious difficulties. Robert Menzies spent several months in London in 1941 discussing war strategy with the British leaders. When he returned to Australia in August 1941 he found that he had lost all support and was forced to resign first as Prime Minister and then as UAP leader. The Country Party were similarly divided with Archie Cameron having resigned in 1940 and a ballot between Earle Page and John McEwen for his successor becoming deadlocked; resulting in Arthur Fadden being chosen as a compromise leader. After the resignation of Robert Menzies, the UAP resorted to appointing Faddon as Prime Minister, despite the fact that as a Country Party representative he would normally only expect to hold the 2nd-ranking position within a Coalition government. This arrangement didn’t last long and Faddon later joked that like the biblical flood he “reigned for 40 days and 40 nights.”

The Rise of John Curtin 1941:

On October 3, 1941 the Fadden budget was rejected by House of Representatives when the two independents Coles and Wilson voted against it. Faddon resigned later the same day and the Governor-General Lord Gowrie called for Coles and Wilson to assure him of their support for an alternative ALP government to end the instability. Being assured that this was the case, Lord Gowrie commissioned a John Curtin ALP government who were sworn in on October 7. John Curtin remained Prime Minister until July 5, 1945 when he passed away while in office.  The second Australian Prime Minister to die in office within six years. He was briefly succeeded as Prime Minister by Frank Forde, then after a party ballot a week later, by Ben Chifley.

Lessons to be Learnt from 1940 for 2010:

One important lesson from the 1940 hung parliament was the way that the two independents Coles and Wilson acted single-mindedly to preserve the stability of government in these crucial war years. When they did act it was in cooperation and only to resolve an untenable government and to restore stability. In many ways Coles and Wilson are unsung heroes and the nation owes them a debt of gratitude for acting unselfishly over these 3 years of our national history. Importantly, they put the welfare of the nation above that of serving their own electorates and their own prospects for re-election. Through their actions they made it easier for the Governor-General to carry out his duties impartially (the question of the use of reserve powers was never raised).

If they were to follow the example of the independents from 1940-3, then it is clear that now that Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott need to stick unwaveringly to their decision to support a Julia Gillard government. Now that that decision has been made, the over-riding issues are stability of government and the welfare of the nation. There needs to be recognition from the major parties, and from the media, that the circumstances for the independents in a hung parliament are fundamentally different in that their duty of serving the nation, through ensuring stability of government, supersedes that of serving their own electorates. It has been mischievously irresponsible for some sections of politics and the media to suggest otherwise over the last week.

Obviously, stability of government requires support during no-confidence motions, budget and supply bills and the independents have undertaken to do so. However, I raise the point exemplified by the hung parliament in 1940-3,  that stability of government requires that the independents put their egos aside for a while and support most reasonable legislation raised by the Gillard government  in a sensible timeframe.

If it turns out that even with the fullest-support that the independents can offer the Gillard government, that that government succumbs to internal divisions (of a nature typified by that of the Menzies-Faddon governments), then the independents are duty-bound to switch allegiances to support the alternative Abbott Coalition to restore stability to government. Only if that fails should another election be sought within 3 years.  Most of all during this precarious situation that we face, we need to keep faith in the Westminster conventions. We must avoid political gamesmanship that leads to disorderly government that raises the question of the use reserve powers by the Governor-General. The worse case scenario is a constitutional crisis that could do irreparable harm to the Australian political system.

Posted in history, Politics | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Father’s Day

Posted by sapidblog on 5 September, 2010

Digital Radio

Bush+ Digital Radio (click on link to go to DSE retail page)

I never expected to receive anything, but  to my surprise on Father’s Day I received a digital radio (DAB+). So I can now listen to the ABC Grandstand Sport station for those games that aren’t carried anywhere else. Though, I’m keen to sample all of those other digital stations as well: Koffee, Barry and Buckle and so on … (Brisbane).

This digital radio (see right) has a PLL FM band tuner as well. This seems to be a solid DAB+ radio but with few frills. There is a single built-in mono speaker but you can get stereo from the headphone output.

In the afternoon, the Swans won again against Carlton but it was a heart-stopper of a finish. The Swans seem to make a habit of close finals matches.

Posted in AFL Football, Family | Leave a Comment »

Riverfire

Posted by sapidblog on 5 September, 2010

With around half-a-million other people we (me with Tim, Sara, David and his friends) went to the Brisbane Festival Riverfire event at South Bank and watched the dramatic F-111 flyby and dump-and-burn, and fireworks. See some of the photos taken above. We managed to find seats in our usual spot, from previous years, even though we were running late.  Afterwards we visited Jason, Mel and Abigail again. It was a very memorable evening.

Posted in Family | Leave a Comment »

Facebook Fails to Act on Child Pornography

Posted by sapidblog on 29 August, 2010

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) have claimed that Facebook knew about pages on the site containing illegal child pornography but failed to report them to authorities (The Age). This follows from a successful AFP operation which resulted in 11 offenders being arrested in Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada - 3 people were arrested in Australia (AFP Media Release) . Offenders had allegedly created fake accounts to post and view sexually graphic images of children.  One of those arrested in Australia told police that he had sent at least 10 messages to Facebook. Facebook had responded by removing the content and deactivating accounts but had failed to pass the information on to authorities (The Australian). Despite its alleged failure to cooperate with authorities over illegal child pornography, Facebook are still not indicating whether they will station a liaison officer in Australia (as reported in The Age). A later report on ABC Radio PM indicated that the AFP and Facebook were agreeing to cooperate but that the details of this arrangement were still not clear.

As a result of these police operations, two men arrested in Victoria include a 33-year-old due to appear in Melbourne Magistrates Court on October 6 and a 18-year-old due to appear in Geelong Magistrates Court on September 24. An Illawarra man is due to appear in Wollongong Local Court on October 14 (Bigpond News).

Facebook have consistently adhered to their policy of accepting no responsiblity for the actions of its users – even when this includes illegal behaviour – beyond providing mechanisms for other users to report misuse. At least now it seems that Facebook may have been embarrassed into taking a more responsible stance.

Articles on Facebook at Sapidblog can be found by following this link:

http://sapidblog.wordpress.com/category/social-networking/facebook/

Posted in Facebook, misuse, Social Networking | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Swans Win!

Posted by sapidblog on 29 August, 2010

Click on the image to go to the Swans home page for the full story.

Yeh! I was there at the Gabba when the Sydney Swans won against the Lions with Tim, Sara and Desi – courtesy of tickets from my brother! The result was in the balance at half-time 41-40 but a strong 3rd quarter put the Swans in the ascendency, despite a short-lived resurgence from the Lions early in the 4th, the Swans won by a wide margin (106-68). The Swans now play a home final against Carlton.

Funny, it was all about the Sydney Rugby League when we were growing up and my brother played League when he was younger. Dad and Mum were solid followers of the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks and St George Dragons, respectively, but things change. Once my brother became a trainer with them, it was all about the Sydney Swans AFL.

Posted in AFL Football, Family | 2 Comments »

 
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