« profile & posts archive

This author has written 2362 posts for Larvatus Prodeo.

Return to: Homepage | Blog Index

83 responses to “"Clones and drones" versus Sturm und Drang politics”

  1. Paul Burns

    I watch the antics of Abbott, Barnaby and the rest of the Liberal circus troupe with breathless wonder. Does Joyce really believe State Labor Governments are going to go down the path of Langite repudiation or is he just a blithering idiot? I’ve done a pretty intensive study of 1930s populism here and late nineteenth century American populism (quite some time ago now)and am appalled at the Opposition’s economic irresponsibility. Moreover, their political and presumably their historical ignorance seems to indicate they have no idea of the dangers of the path they’re treading. Before long these guys will be adding ancient conspiracy theories to their current espousal of a “warmist” global conspiracy. Their cries of some kind of international leftist conspiracy are already an indication that they’re embracing traditional populism. In some cack-handed way early 20th century populists linked the leftist conspiracy with the Protocol of the Elders of Zion which was one of the precursors of German fascism. We’ll no doubt hear soon about international financial conspiracies which have behind them an unstated anti-Semitism. We are in very dangerous territory here.

  2. Benedictus

    Blithering idiot sounds about right …

  3. Paul Burns

    For anybody interested in a discourse on populism of the kind being espoused by our current crop of Liberals might I recommend Miriam Dixson’s book on Jack Lang, “Greater than Lenin?”. Apart from being a very interesting psycho-history of Lang himself, among other things, Dixson goes into considerable detail about the nature of populism. Mind you, current Liberal populism is of an extreme right wing variety, unlike Lang’s populism, but the features of populism are the same, whether its coming from the right or left. Well worth the read.
    I was not able to find a link to the book on-line, but it should be available in any good university library.

  4. CMMC

    Recall the “bovver boy” criticism about Mark Latham?

    Now Tony Abbott is lionised as a “street fighter”, which kind of means bovver boy.

  5. Terry

    I think that the words “Mark Latham” feature very prominently in Labor’s strategy at the moment.

  6. mehitabel

    And all this bluster and aggression is nothing but a cover for laziness.

    The Libs/Nats on the front bench are too lazy to engage with the science, too lazy to come up with real policies, too lazy to demonstrate the discipline required to stick to the message and create a coherent narrative.

    Why anyone thinks this laziness of mind will generate votes is beyond me.

    The average voter out there knows that boring is good when it comes to politics. Boring means attention to detail; boring means making sure all the boxes are ticked.

    Much as I hate to say it, one of the reasons behind Howard’s longevity was that he was boring in just that way. His stints on radio were meant to demonstrate his detailed knowledge of the issues and reinforce the safe pair of hands idea. He never saw a circus act as a substitute for substance.

  7. Katz

    Abbott had better hope he’ll never be filmed shaking hands with Rudd outside a radio studio.

    Then again, given his embrace of ratbag politics, maybe he just doesn’t care.

  8. Steve D

    lol…just registered http://www.AbbottsArmy.com.au Now…what to do with it.

  9. Paul Burns

    They reckon it doesn’t exist, Steve D. :)
    Which just goes to show how deluded Abbott is.

  10. Mark
  11. Paul Burns

    Gawd. I’ve run across a few of these CEC types up here, as one tends to do in a country town. Somehow I even ended up on their mailing list, in response to which I sent them a very obscene e-mail telling them to take me off said mailing list immediately. Like Barnaby, they’re stark raving bonkers, but nice enough as individuals. They proslytise like born-again Xtans.

  12. Kevin Johnstone

    Somehow I have also recently got on the CEC mailing list but am still enjoying it for it’s pure lunatic entertainment value.

    Barnarby’s idea’s do seem to be lifted almost word for word from the recent newsletters but I wonder if he has ever actually gone on to have a look at LaRouche’s site. Surely not even Barnaby would want to be associated the insane rants from LaRouche. Then again I could be wrong.

  13. Zorronsky

    The Far Right, Denialists and Boltbots remind me of Cult members with Shockjocks, Bolt and Blair types using Cult lure tactics. How else can an explanation be found for an inability to accept diligently researched findings?

  14. Paul Burns

    They’re stupid?

  15. Jacques Chester

    … but flicking the switch to populism disguises the change in the nature of right wing politics away from neo-liberal reverence for the market. It won’t be to the taste of big business.

    Are you kidding? Big business hates free markets. They want “sensible regulation”, all of which is expensive to implement (thus strangling smaller up-and-coming competition) and “fair” (ie removes the necessity to compete).

    The idea that big business is the natural ally of the market is just silly. Market theory says that people act in their own self-interest. If it’s easier to get the government to subvert the market than to actually compete, that’s what big business will do. The answer, as we boring neoliberals keep pointing out, is to remove the temptation of Big Government.

  16. Ute Man

    Jacques – that makes no sense. Sure big business hates free markets, but like nature abhorring a vacuum, free markets disappear as quickly as self interest decides a winner. The idea that government creates these winners and losers is an illusion of ideology.

    Let me put it to you this way – when Barnaby Joyce and his CEC inspired lunacy is echoed in the boardrooms of the Liberal partys biggest sponsors, the money will dry up like spit on a hot road. There isn’t a CEO in the country who wants to be associated with those loonies in any way, shape or form.

  17. Ute Man

    ps – Tony Burke did a sturm and drang this week by putting a massive rocket up the various agricultural RDC’s – questioning the salaries of the CEOs and naming and shaming a few for some of the worst waste of tax payers and levy payers funds. It got no attention in the city based papers who preferred to cover the conservative parties slow motion train wreck. It’s an actual, real life, productivity affecting story but we get Barnyard off the deep end and Abbott making a public twit of himself. It’s the pointy end of how the country will cope with climate change and food security and the mechanisms for delivering productivity improvements. Nobody gives a shit of course, not even at LP.

  18. David Irving (no relation)

    I’d be interested in more details, Ute Man. It’s going to affect me very directly in a couple of years.

  19. Ute Man
  20. Ginja

    That’s about right, Mark. I think what Kevin 07 was really about was a move by the electorate away from confrontationalism. Something similar happened with Obama. Voters seem tired of governments that stick the boot into unions, of wedge politics and the culture wars.

    In-your-face Thatcherism-Reaganism-Bushism-Howardism has definitely had its day. And with Iraq, Afghanistan, the GFC, global warming, I strongly doubt the electorate is in a mood to hand the country over to clowns like Barnaby. There seems a mood for sober but progressive government.

    But let’s not forget the elites in all this. After the GFC, who can take with a straight face half the economic theories neo-liberals have put forward since the late seventies? It all seems so quaint now. Did serious people ever really believe in such folly?

  21. feral sparrowhawk

    That’s really interesting Ute Man, and very important, thanks for bringing it to oue attention. I’m not so fussed about problems at AWI, but if issues are more widespread I certainly want to know. In particular the Grains Research Development Council is absolutely crucial to Australia’s food security, and also globally, since we’re really the only developed nation with a lot in common to much of the developing world in regard to the agricultural conditions. Our research on these issues is likely to have much more global relevance than many others, and if it’s not being done because the managers are taking all the funds I certainly want to know.

  22. feral sparrowhawk

    Back on topic, I remember a researcher into far right groups predicting 15 years ago that the La Rouchites would come to drive the thinking of the Australian extremist community, even though they were not rooted in the local environment, and some of their ideas (eg anti-Royal family) wouldn’t play well here. I was sceptical, but it seems he was right.

    The home grown versions of the far right are so out of ideas that people like Barnaby are jumping on the La Rouchist bandwagon, even though he’s probably not comfortable with their stance on the royals.

    Whatever they think of free markets, I can’t see big business donors being comfortable shelling out cash for someone who’s spouting this stuff – they just have no idea what he’ll do.

  23. hannah's dad

    Ute man
    “I’d be interested in more details, Ute Man.’
    I’m intersted too.
    I found the Land article ..interesting.
    I would appreciate being kept informed, I promise I won’t be bored.

  24. Brian

    On the farming fat cats issue, Mr Perrett, the Grains Research and Development Corporation chairman, strikes back.

  25. Mark

    Is that the same Mr Perrett, Brian, who was once elected as a CEC MP in the Queensland Parliament in the wake of Joh’s ouster but later defected to the Nats? Member for Lockyer, I think.

    @15, Jacques – it should be clear from what I wrote that I said “reverence for free markets” – which, of course, has never translated into anything much other than spoils for the big end of town. But they like people to talk the talk. And in the case of trade policy, they’re certainly not in favour of pissing off their largest customers so openly and maladroitly.

    Having said that, getting “Big Government” (whatever that means – Thatcher and Reagan both spent more than left of centre administrations in previous decades, just as Howard spent more than Keating) ‘off the back’ of markets would just mean big biz getting an even bigger slice of the various pies.

    Because, and I’m sure I’m not letting anyone into a secret here, there actually is no such thing as a free market.

    It’s just ideological fantasy.

  26. Brian

    Mark, I think it’s likely to be the same Mr Perrett, but I don’t know.

    On pissing off trade partners, Ross Garnaut, said today in effect that the Chinese wouldn’t take any notice of Joyce because he was a long way away from the actual policy levers.

  27. Steve at the Pub

    Bzzzt! Wrong Answers. Mark, your cover as political-junkie-from-Qld has just been blown. (Epic Fail – your NSW citizenship will be issued on Monday)

    … Even I know that Joh was the member for Barambah (Lockyer? you GOTTA be kidding!), that the person elected to that seat after Joh resigned it is a man named Trevor Perrett, a local grazier, though I’d forgotten which party (if one) Perrett represented, I knew it was not the National Party, who were reviled in that at the time.

    The Chairman of the Grains Research & Development Corporation is often in the news, especially in rural articles, his name is Keith Perrett. He isn’t even a Qld-er.

    The unsuccessful National Party candidate was the local Shire Chairman, unknown at the time, he is now a national political figure.

  28. Jacques de Molay

    I probably should’ve put this link in here given the CEC get a mention about that “genocidal” ETS:

    “The Holy War on Climate Change”


  29. Ambigulous

    Some tidbits on Dairy Australia: also supported by producer levies: at x cents per litre milk. Always some complaints from some producers: “what do we get for our levy dollars?”

    DA has funded large-scale “extension” projects bringing ag scientists/veterinary research to the farmers. e.g. pasture growth, calving, disease control, milking efficiency, fertilizers, dairy design…. Also involved in arketing. Victorian dairy products for example have very large exports.

    Dairy industry in major recent upheavals; consolidation, exit of uneconomic farms; water and irrigation factors in droughts. Stricter scrutiny and control of run-off of nutrients (e.g. N, P) from farms. Re-use of effluents (from the milking shed) on-farm. Lowering use of electricity and fuels.

    Dairy farmers generally very up-to-date with use of IT tools, new information, etc. Australian dairy very efficient. Not rivalling NZ export volumes, but way ahead of some nations.


  30. Mark

    @27 – steve at the pub, thanks for that. It was just a question, based on memory, not research!

  31. Bilko

    Folks we are all sadly mistaken the coalition is NOT lazy, they have a full suite of policies they ran them for 12 yrs, the only snag is they are all on temporary hold (for 8-12yr+)until the punters come out of their sleep and vote them back in.

    Mind you the majority of the current Libs front bench may well be pushing up the daisies or adding to the fires of hell by then.

  32. Andrew E

    “Holy War on Climate Change”- wait for someone all fired up on Bolt and Plimer to drive a plane straight into a rainforest.

    I had a long post on this but decided to do this instead. I agree about the “safe pair of hands” being absent in the Coalition (or very dependant on Joe Hockey as Shadow Treasurer), and effectively ceded to Rudd & Labor. The element identified at (b) above will see Joyce come out with more CEC crap (with Abbott powerless to stop him, or unwilling to do so á la Howard and Hanson). This will provide the nearest thing to a coherent anti-Rudd narrative, and show moderate liberals why staying in the game and waiting Abbott out is a waste of their time.

  33. Patricia WA

    Ute Man the Land may well be a filthy rag, but the comments on that article were all remarkably coherent whether pro or con. Unusual?

  34. DeeCee

    Mark #25 Straightening out Lockyer one of the oddest Q seats since Nat Tony Fitzgerald “stole” it in 1980 in a 3-corner contest from Lib Tony Bourke in what is seen as the first step towards the Nat-Lib 1983 split (there are still Liberals who don’t speak to, vote for, or preference Nats, even though most are now in Toowoomba electorates). Most of its Lib contingent came from Withcott & the Toowoomba Range area – the latter re-distributed into T North & T South:

    Even with Labor Party preferences, Fitzgerald was unable to hold off the challenge from One Nation’s Peter Prenzler. The National Party primary vote fell by more than 40% in 1998 and plummeted further in 2001 as the National Party finished a dreadful fourth, polling behind both One Nation and the City Country Alliance. Local vet Peter Prenzler had won Lockyer for One Nation in 1998, but like all of his colleagues, he left the party and contested the 2001 election as Deputy Leader of the City Country Alliance. He was defeated by the new One Nation candidate Bill Flynn, who defeated Labor on National Party and City Country Alliance preferences. Traditional political patterns began to re-emerge in 2004, the National Party primary vote still only 34.8%, but at least leading Labor on the primary votes and far enough ahead to skate home on preferences of One Nation. New National MP Ian Rickuss was re-elected in 2006, though with a surprise swing to the Labor Party.

  35. hannah's dad

    “#29 Ambigulous
    Dec 13th, 2009 at 7:09 am
    Some tidbits on Dairy Australia: also supported by producer levies: at x cents per litre milk.”

    It is estimated [and recalled by my memory so I’ll be a bit conservative] that one litre of milk produced by irrigation along the Murray uses about 1000 litres of Murray water. The water costs nothing.

    Some other irrigated water costs [remember the actual water is free].
    1kg maize…..500 litres plus
    1kg soybeans …. about 2000 litres
    1kg rice ….about 1500 litres
    1kg beef…..50,000-100,000 litres
    1kg wool …..about 170,000 lites

    The average water needs of 1 urban domestic household @ 200,000 litres per annum cost more than $200 [figures based on exhaustive research, I rang my city living son and asked how much he paid for water and he said, “Ahh, around about…”]

  36. KeIThY

    These folks are not trying to put the spotlight on Kevin Rudd adn his Government as they will simply be forgotten and so courting political oblivion and they know it! They are very worried and all I see are the death-throes of those who never could be bothered taking this land of sweeping plains proudly [that I, for one, LOVE!] into the 21st century: they’ll hang around for a scam but if the scam is up they just change names and start the search again…. *** ! There’ll always be a Menzies while there’s a BHP ! ***

  37. mehitabel

    Hannah’s Dad – the water is free?? Why do you think that?
    Farmers buy water. They pay an annual price for their license. If they have an irrigation license sufficient to their needs and the season, then yes, it is relatively cheap.
    If, however, their water needs increase due to drought, then water becomes very expensive.
    If water was free, we wouldn’t have dairy farmers switching over to beef, as they are in my region at present.

  38. Ute Man

    Patricia WA said:

    Ute Man the Land may well be a filthy rag, but the comments on that article were all remarkably coherent whether pro or con. Unusual?

    Not unusual. Even where I”m located where a sunburnt neck is not unusual, the Land is tossed down with disgust with surprising regularity. Sadly it’s the only paper that serves the farming community at all.

    Let’s face it – any paper or organisation that regularly patronises Jennifer Marohasy for her debased/stupid/denialist/lunatic fringe opinions and prints them upapologetically and unedited is suspect.

  39. Nickws

    Paul Burns @ 1: I’ve done a pretty intensive study of 1930s populism here and late nineteenth century American populism

    Paul, have you read much about the 1930s US demagogues and their legacy? Even though there’s much hagiography from the US Left RE Huey Long, it’s interesting to note that the Kingfisher’s chief propagandist ended up as a Rightwing ‘Bircher’ activist in the 50s—I remember reading that in William Manchester’s general history of America between the New Deal and Watergate, the implication being that paranoid demagoguery couldn’t be maintained in the Democratic Left, and thus had to look to the ultraconservatives & their ‘fluoride is a communist plot’ mentality to find a home.

    You mentioned here several weeks ago the anti-Semitic subtext of Langism. There is a similar dymanic at work in both countries’ histories since the Great Depression (the lunar Right absorbing all that old anti-Semite ‘money power’ rhetoric, and the existence of Left hagiography that downplays said subtext in their own radical heroes of old.)

    feral sparrowhawk @ 22: I remember a researcher into far right groups predicting 15 years ago that the La Rouchites would come to drive the thinking of the Australian extremist community, even though they were not rooted in the local environment, and some of their ideas (eg anti-Royal family) wouldn’t play well here. I was sceptical, but it seems he was right.

    It’s all about the shadowy cabals. Rightwing & non-ideological paranoids (albeit no longer accompanied by the traditional economic populists, the Langs and the Longs I mention above—perhaps we should give thanks to the success of the modern day welfare state in ridding the Left of them?) are convinced there’s a personal element of control in everything they fear, i.e. the system isn’t corrupt per se, rather it’s manipulated by untouchable corrupt indiuviduals who can be more clearly identified than the ruling classes that hard Leftwingers fear.

    Hence Al Gore’s bogus scientists, the Royals, the Protocols, et al.

  40. Ute Man

    (whoops) but Land audience isn’t a nat voting, redneck monoculture, not by a long shot.

  41. Mark

    @34 – thanks for that, DeeCee.

  42. Steve (nowhere near a pub)

    Yes I agree ‘Mark Latham’ is front an centre of the Rudd Government’s strategy against this motley crew. But then it dawned on me Latham was a Labor Leader. Personally I hope both parties annihilate themselves through this sort of base thinking. Bring on a new political party for this country!

  43. Mark

    Elsewhere: John Quiggin.

  44. Mark

    Update: More from Andrew Elder:

    In 2007, the Liberals could not get used to the idea that Howard was leading them into perdition. In 2009, the Abbott Experiment is all about the idea that Howard-style conservatism is an idea that has not been properly tried, let alone exhausted. It’s an idea held by nobody who doesn’t vote Liberal/National/CEC already.

  45. Paul Burns

    Nickws @ 39,
    No. looked at the origins of American populism in the 1890s. Think William Jennings Bryan was a major figure back then. Way before the Monkey trial. Mainly it was extensive background reading trying to tease out the populism in Lang’s politics.

  46. Mark

    In the political science literature, there have been a lot of fruitless attempts to define populism. It’s perhaps more of a style than a concept. Having said that, there’s some good post-Marxist literature, often from Latin American scholars on it, arising from the residues of some of the debates about underdevelopment (eg Gunder Frank) in political economy, and from the experience of several countries – in particular Argentina with Peronism.

    The best treatment I’ve found of the topic, which starts off by explaining how confused the literature generally is, is Ernesto Laclau’s On Populist Reason:


    Note the range of countries he discusses, and also, Paul, I believe he argues that this style of politics predates the American populism of the late 19th century.

  47. Mark

    I should also add that it’s been a few years since I read it, so I don’t want to try to summarise Laclau’s theses, lest I get it wrong! But I might put it on the reading list, now that it’s a live topic again in Oz!

  48. Paul Burns

    It is dreadfully hard to pin down. I found the whole concept extremely amorphous. The reason I was looking at the late 19C American stuff (might have been a little earlier than 1890, can’t remember) was I was trying to discover a strain of populism that might have influenced Lang’s thinking. Lang was odd in that he was an urban populist rather than the usual rural-based type. Mind you, he was a lot more complicated than that, of course.

  49. Paul Burns

    The Laclau looks intriguing. Might check it out.
    There is, incidentally,a touch of populism in American Revolutionary/Early Republic history in the debate about the banking system, though I haven’t gone into it much as its beyond end of the War of Independence, where my current study stops. Will be interesting to read Gordon Wood’s new study on the early Republic, Empire of Liberty when it hits the bookstores here.
    There is of course, in the Revolutionary and immediate pre-Revolutionary period more than a touch of populist fear in attitudes to Afro-Americans, especially in South Carolina and Virginia. One of the sparks that actually popularises revolutionary ideas in Charleston and Williamsburg.

  50. Mark

    Have you ever read Peter Love’s Labour and the Money Power, Paul?

  51. Tosca

    UTE MAN @ 17&19 Tony Burke’s – Address to the National Press Club – ‘Food, Making it and moving it’ is available on the Minister’s website at http://www.maff.gov.au/transcripts/transcripts/2009/december/tony_burke_-_address_to_the_national_press_club_-_food,_making_it_and_moving_it The transcript also includes the questions & answers session.

  52. hannah's dad

    Mehitabel @37
    Irrigators [rather than using the word farmers] buy licences to take water from the river etc.
    I don’t know what they cost nowadays but they were pretty cheap when I bought mine about 12 or 13 years ago.

    So you pay for the licence.

    The annual fee on my licence is peanuts, I forget how much, less than 20-30 dollars from memory, actually I can’t remember paying it the last couple of years.
    When I bought the licence the annual fee was about $10 or something trivial for tens of millions of litres.

    You can take all of the water allowed on the licence, for example a place near me has licences for 1,200,000,000 litres per year [less quota restrictions] at no cost. That’s 1,200 million litres.
    Their annual fee is probably a few thousand dollars, might be a fraction of that.

    Compare that to the cost for domestic urban households, say about 5,000 houses or so.
    Its the piece of paper that costs the money and that’s a one-off.
    But the water itself costs nothing.
    And you can take the amount listed on the licence out of the river every year [subject to quota]. At virtually nil cost for the water [apart from pumps, electricity etc and they don’t come to much in the big picture].

    And if you don’t want to do that any more you can sell your licence to someone else.
    If I were to sell my licence I would probably make a profit in the vicinity of 300% plus or so I was told fairly recently.

    Where some irrigators are paying extra for water is sort of like a lease scheme where they are buying temporary licences from companies to make up the shortfall because the total water taken out the rivers by the irrigators is so high that the rivers are disappearing.
    The impact of the drought on the river level is not that great. Vastly over hyped. Nearly all the water that flows into the rivers gets taken out by irrigators.
    If we get more going into the rivers the irrigators will take that out.
    The big fallacy that is around is that ‘she’ll be right’ when the the rains come back and the drought breaks.
    Nope. The irrigators are taking too much out.

    Its a crazy situation.

  53. Rx


    Your link to John Quiggin at post 43 leads to a 404 error. This is the one you want:


  54. Paul Burns

    Mark @ 50,
    The title rings a bell, but it was a long time ago, I think. I really enjoyed his book on, I think, thw WW1 Conscription debate. But don’t hold me to that authgorship.
    After our chat here, last night I was reflecting on the parallewls between Joyce and Lang. (And no doubt some of this this would also apply to Bjelke-Petersen, that other famed populist leader, though I haven’t read up on him in any detail.)

    Joyce is a small businessman (accountant); Lang was a real estate agent in Auburn.
    Lang was an urban socialist; Joyce could be described as a rural socialist.
    Lang was a small ‘l’ liberal; Joyce sort of purports to be.
    Joyce is an ardent nationalist (anti-Chinese investment); Lang was an ardent nationalist; (anti British investment.)
    Lang had some very odd ideas about world finance; ditto Joyce. Both were mavericks in their respective parties.
    etc. etc. The difference is of course, that NO-ONE [don’t know how to do italics] will be saying of Joyce a generation or more after his politrical career is over, “Joyce is Right” as they did about Lang, and passionately believing it.
    And, I doubt Joyce could pull a crowd of 10,000 or more in the Sydney Domain.

  55. Steve

    Joyce actually is a Sydney private schoolboy from Riverview who worked for multinationals in the finance department before reinventing himself as the ‘tin pot accountant from St George’. He is not who many think he is. And this is NOT a good thing, I wouldn’t trust him.

  56. Mark

    @53 – thanks, Rx. I’ve substituted that for the link in the post.

  57. Geoff Robinson

    This argument about ‘populism’ is pretty silly here and odd to see leftists producing a garbled version of old cold war liberal arguments from the 1950s. Gretchen Ritter and Elizabeth Saunder’s recent work on American populism and monetary reformism shows populists sought to construct a more democratic and egalitarian American political economy and were pro-union. As for Langism being populism its the great example of class politics in Australia, unless you are an SA member in which case any non-revolutionary politics is all the same, but in a fog all cows are grey.

  58. mehitabel

    Hannah’s Dad – you’re repeating a lot of what I said. Yes, licenses are cheap and so is water, if there’s enough of it. Once you have to buy it in – and many farmers are presently doing this – it becomes very expensive.
    The way you represent the difference in water pricing between city and country is a bit misleading. City dwellers aren’t paying for the water as such; they’re paying for the cost of storage, delivery and treatment. Farmers have similar costs built in, but as their water delivery is more efficient and their water doesn’t need treatment, it’s a lot cheaper.
    If every litre of water delivered to an irrigator needed to meet WHO standards, it would be equally expensive.
    Fundamentally, I agree that water is too cheap. But I also believe that arguments about its costs should recognise the facts.

  59. hannah's dad

    Well, no, irrigation in this country along the MDB is extremely inefficient.
    Don’t believe what the irrigators tell you.

    For starters they are pumping water onto the wrong crops in the wrong places, semi-desert FFS, with plus 40 temps and hot dry winds at the peak of the pumping season.
    And with open channel and spray systems nearly half of the water never gets utilised by the crops, just evaporates leaving salt and other nasties that have been put on the land to infiltrate into the river to be removed downstream at public expense.
    You pay for that [presuming you are not an irrigator].

    And the cold hard fact is that there isn’t enough water and there is going to be less in the future.

    Currently irrigation licences exist in the MDB [as an aside its difficult to know the exact numbers] for about 5000 GL per year. Well that s the amount they took out of the river a few years ago. Thats 5,000,000,000,000 litres. Ponder the number for a while, count the noughts. In the context of it being an increasingly scarce national resource.

    Thats free water.
    No cost.

    Its only the temporary water trading above those licences that attracts a cost per litre [which is, of course like all business costs including pumps etc, deductible].
    Not even a cost for the dams [eg Dartmouth and co], pipes, desalinisation along the river, chlorination etc. Not as much as delivery to the cities as you point out but still significant.

    The irrigation industry has been over indullged for too long, time for some significant changes to be made.
    Actually, well past time.

  60. mehitabel

    Well, there’s certainly MEANT to be a cost for the dams etc. Of course, it hasn’t been high enough, hence the current upgrading of the pipelines at Melbourne’s expense.
    You’ve also misinterpreted -my fault, loose language – the meaning of efficiency. I meant that letting water flow down an open drain is cheaper than directing it through hundreds of thousands of pipes, all of which need (some) maitenance.
    I’m really not arguing with you. It’s just that the use of ‘free water’ is lazy terminology – call it very, very cheap and we’ll be in complete agreement.
    If you’re agitating for change, you want to get the guys who are going to oppose it on the wrong foot. You don’t want them quibbling with the looseness of your terminology.
    If the water was free free free than it wouldn’t be so hard to buy the berloody stuff back. However you parse it, it’s worth something. Whether you pay that for the water or the license is a semantic game.
    Certainly the licenses are often worth more than the land they’re on – I know of more than one farmer – sorry, irrigator – who has sold his water license but given away the land.

  61. Lefty E

    Ive somehow missed this thread till now, but I totally agree Mark. What is it about this rehashed brigade of loose cannons that could possibly worry the Rudd government?

    My own prediction is we will see the lowest coalition vote next election since 1983.

  62. joe2

    Barnaby denied vehemently on Franational, this morning, that he had any connection whatsoever with CEC. Not that he wasn’t on their mailing list, though! Andrew Fraser from The Australian had set him up and all the claims were madness according to the indignant Barnyard.

    Whatever the case being on the other side of media attention- from “maverick” to “wingnut”- did not sit well with him. Funny how bad that lot cry when the Newsboot is on the other foot. Rudd get’s it every day and seems quite oblivious to it.

  63. hannah's dad

    Well thanks for the attempt to compromise, meet me half way mehitabel, genuinely appreciated.
    But I can be a curmudgeonly old sod sometimes and I’ll reject your possibly/probably good advice re getting the water wasters to agree.

    Cos the water IS free to irrigators.

    See if I bought or buy a 100 million litre water licence and don’t use a drop of water from it and sell it 3 years whatever down the track I can make a tidy profit.
    And that goes on all the time, that’s part of water trading.

    But if in an entirely different scenario I buy that licence [and sell it later or not] I can use that 100 million litres of water every year for donkey’s years at zero cost.
    Cos its free.
    100s of millions of litres.
    [Ignore the capital/maitenance/running costs, which are all assets and deductions].

    But if you are in a urban area you pay something for each litre [well kilolite] you use.
    Its not free.

    Take the desal plant in Adelaide.
    Its going to cost urban dwellers a bit less than $2 billion to build and millions of dollars more per year to produce about a 100GL [I think] of expensive water than will need to be paid for.

    Meanwhile irrigators are getting up to 5,000 GL for nix.

    The concept of ‘free water’ is not semantic.

    Sorry to be so stubborn but I think its important.

  64. mehitabel

    I still think you’re hung up on semantics and ignoring the very real differences in cost between delivering water to the city via pipes, treating it, and then redistributing it via more pipes and letting it flow down the river.

  65. David Irving (no relation)

    joe2, I just about choked on my bacon and eggs this morning, laughing at Barnaby. Christ, he’s a drongo. Fran (bless her) actually asked a couple of curly questions for a change, and he didn’t handle them at all well. He was just about incomprehensible.

  66. hannah's dad


  67. joe2

    “He was just about incomprehensible.”

    He’s always like that but was even worse today, David. He tells poorly constructed, unfunny, gags that some smartarse has fed him. These he quite often fluffs in the delivery.

    Actually, if his uncle James were still around, he would make fine fodder for a novel. No, make that a short story, for everyones sanity.

  68. Nickws

    Geoff Robinson @ 57: This argument about ‘populism’ is pretty silly here and odd to see leftists producing a garbled version of old cold war liberal arguments from the 1950s.

    This is why the word I prefer is ‘demagogue’, which is the perfect description of what the members of the Abbott push have openly become since they purged the Baronet.

    But yeah, it is interesting that people from the institutions of the Australian Left are allowing themselves to come over as believing that populism is of necessity the other.

    Though the writer Mark links to most often, G. Rundle, appears to have crossed the Rubicon into populism when he says, “economic power and control has to be transferred to social and public control (in forms better developed than old processes of nationalisation), as an expression of right (not rights, right).”

    Forgive my ignorance, but doesn’t the above sentence reject the utopian Left, the revolutionary Left, and the New Left (although if you read the entire post Rundle does maintain a figleaf of Marxian analysis to hide his shame)? Populism, what’s left must be populism, folks.

    Guy Rundle=/=Margot Kingston with an infusion of dead white male theorists, minus the weird relationship with Pauline Hanson from earlier this decade.

  69. David Irving (no relation)

    Yeah, I know, joe2. He’s just about the funniest thing to have gone to Canberra (or would be, if that didn’t mean there were enough people at least as stupid as he is to give him a Senate quota).

    What do they put in the water in Queensland? (No offence to our hosts.)

  70. Paul Burns

    GR 2 57,
    Perhaps you should read Miriam Dixson’s book on Lang.

  71. Ute Man

    Nickws wrote:

    This is why the word I prefer is ‘demagogue’, which is the perfect description of what the members of the Abbott push have openly become since they purged the Baronet.

    …and also why it will fail. You need charisma to be a demagogue.

  72. Patricia WA

    Ute Man @ 71 by affirming that the demagoguery of the Abbott push “will fail” implies an intention to succed, i.e. that this populist push is conscious and part of a strategy or plan. Isn’t it more likely that this bunch of fools has somehow coalesced into a rabble rousing rump of failed might have beens? I’d prefer to think that they’re an accidental coalition of self serving clods who couldn’t get behind the man who was their one last chance of credibility and cohesion. Now the rebel who brought down his leader clearly hasn’t the political nous to unite and control his fellow conspirators. In another time and place we’d be watching the same conniving characters falling one after the other victim to assassination and execution. Unfortunately the worst that can happen to them is an election loss and a parliamentary pension for life.

    You’re right of course, Ute Man. They will fail and lack of charisma and appeal to the common man will be a major factor. Reading comments in the Daily Telegraph on Joyce and in the Australian in response to Glenn Milne and others trying to legitimise the new conservative order it’s clear that apart from the raving right there is a strong Aussie refusal to suffer these fools. Malcolm Colless is having another go at it today talking up how Joyce and “Abbott have the potential to be a fearless double act on the domestic stage, something that could rattle Rudd’s preoccupation with global diplomacy.”

    Feels to me that the more Rudd is seen working hard on the woes of the world the more aloof he is perceived to be from the petty politics and personal venom of Joyce and Abbott.

  73. Ute Man

    Patricia of WA – you make a good point about Rudd’s internationalism. However, there are I think two processes that need to be in motion for the mindless authoritarian nationalism of Abbott/Joyce to be successful.

    The first is recession or cataclysm. The second is what I’d like to paraphrase as the opportunity of charisma. We don’t have recession (or not yet) and Joyce and Abbott are clearly not charismatic. Neither transcend political boundaries and appeal to the mindless populism that a Jack Lang appealed to.

    However, as a trial run of this kind of simplistic reactionary politics, their followers will be interesting case studies. The woes of the world are the woes of everybody right now – most people are smart enough to discern the seriousness of global warming without turning it into a tribal squabble and I think Rudd will be seen as going through the motions at the right time.

    I’m not optimistic about the outcome of the global game, but the time is not ripe for domestic appeals to the authoritarian right wing. Not yet, at least.

  74. Hal9000

    Mark – just another off-topic note on Trevor Perrett. You might recall he was the first of the ‘flooziegate’ philandering ministers whose antics did much to bring down the Borbidge government. His name emerged in connection with investigations following the bizarre discovery of the decomposed body of a woman who had apparently died in her own home and lain unnoticed for some months. Prior to her demise, the woman had been receiving frequent male visitors at all hours. Perrett had been, er, associated with the late lady in question. His subsequent clearing of suspicion regarding the death was too late to salvage his political career.

  75. Gummo Trotsky

    What everyone’s missing here is that Tony Abbott and Barnaby Joyce are men of historic destiny, cast from the same mould as George W Bush. Just as it was Dubya’s historically inevitable role to advance the cause of the global working class by reshaping the geopolitical order, Abbott and Joyce are destined to completely blow away the anti-worker conspiracy that is Copenhagen.

    Just ask the true leftists!

  76. Tim Macknay

    DI(NR) @ 69:

    What do they put in the water in Queensland? (No offence to our hosts.)

    Well they don’t put fluoride in it, at any rate. 😉

  77. Steve

    David Irving- Joyce actually isn’t a Queenslander. Adopted New South Welshman. His background is interesting. He obviously planned his route from Riverview Sydney Schoolboy who went on to work in finance in the middle of the Sydney CBD to ‘St George tinpot Accountant’ to Nationals Senator vey well. Because many people forget who he actually was. Who he ‘was’ is his weakness. Word has it that the Rudd Government will open it up soon. Would be very wise to as it shows Joyce is not all that he wishes to portray.

  78. Patricia WA

    Come on, Steve, do tell! Don’t be such a tease! I’ve always felt there was something shifty about Joyce. Body language, no eye contact and all that. But a deep dark secret? Surely he wouldn’t risk public life if it was something really juicy, would he? Come on! Give us a little hint. Like in charades.

    Is he a…….transvestite?

    Perhaps a…..snowdropper?

  79. Steve

    Patricia, lol. Well having worked as inner city suit myself in another life…in my experience many colleagues could fit into all of the above. rofl. Good guess.

  80. David Irving (no relation)

    In any case, Barnaby’s still as thick as pigshit.

  81. Patricia WA

    Thanks Steve for responding, albeit still enigmatically, and suggesting I had made a good guess. I turned my mind to this intriguing idea this morning, rather than muddle my way through the maze of depressing Copenhagen developments.

    My first thought was that I must apologise to transvestites. After all cross- dressing is a perfectly legitimate activity which demonstrates a willingness to literally walk in another’s shoes, which cannot be said of Senator Joyce, even metaphorically.

    Snowdropping, however, does involve a level of criminality. The stealing of another’s clothes in the dead of night is illegal and reprehensible. The 19thC Tory Disraeli’s metaphor of stealing the Liberals’ clothes is now a time honoured strategy for pinching another party’s policies. That could in no way be described as a dirty secret, nor does it come close to who Joyce once “was” or really “is” which you suggest the ALP will soon reveal to his detriment.

    I give up. I agree with David Irving(nr). Barnaby is thick as two bricks. Too thick to have lived a double life. Though he is an accountant. Steve, did you come across him in Sydney and your “inner city suit” life? When acccountants uncharacteristically muck up they do it big time, don’t they?

  82. keIthY

    Patricia WA @ 78, Joyce is a pretender and it is simply whack to promote him to where he is! How are they going to win Government with NO TRUMP CARD?!!?

  83. Jane

    Gummo Trotsky @75, and as devoid of charisma as GWB and his sycophant JWH aka The Lying Rodent.