Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Archive for June, 2007

Sent Citizenship Testing

Posted by Dave Bath on 2007-06-30

Last days for you to comment on the Citizenship Testing Bill (various details here). Sent my notes in (I’ll link to it when it’s published), and choked at the only totally supportive submission (from the Festival of Light, what a surprise!) among the other very good ones (here).

The attachment to the submission of a Law Prof is a bit of a rib-tickler and pokes fun at the whole idea of testing when most of the population hasn’t got a clue (and even thinks we have a bill of rights!).

Read the rest of this entry »


Posted in Australia, Legislation, Politics | 1 Comment »

Howard’s opportunism with Ampe Akelyernemane Meke Mekarle

Posted by Dave Bath on 2007-06-29

I’ve delayed comment on the Howard response to the Ampe Akelyernemane Meke Mekarle[1] document until I’d read enough to avoid a knee-jerk response.  The kicker is near the end of this post, but I’ll start with an article "Unexplained differences" by Ian Anderson (Prof of Indigenous health and director of the Centre for Health & Society and Onemda VicHealth Koori Health Unit at the University of Melbourne) about the "policy disconnect" between the Pat Anderson and Rex Wild April 2007 Report that the PM pounced on.  Apart from noting the time-lag, I’ll quote a couple of pertinent paragraphs from Ian Anderson’s post at the excellent AustralianPolicy Online, and markup as bold something that had struck me.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Australia, Politics, Society | Leave a Comment »

Fundamental Rights: EU: Article 1: Human Dignity

Posted by Dave Bath on 2007-06-29

This is the first in a series of posts that will explore issues from the Charter of Fundamental Rights in the draft EU constitution (see official PDF or my reworking into HTML).

The aim of this series is to promote discussion of the Charter, and advocate adoption of most of these fundamental freedoms into the Australian constitution or a bill of rights.

Each post will highlight a single article, but the length of discussion of each article will vary.  Each article will be covered in numerical order.  Some will address the article in detail, others will discuss issues associated with that article.

I welcome debate with each post as to whether or not the associated article in the draft EU Charter is worthwhile and should be included in an Australian Charter of Fundamental Rights, but would be very interested to get a comment if you think the article should not be considered a fundamental right.

The first chapter of the charter concerns dignity.

Article 1:

  • Human dignity is inviolable. It must be respected and protected.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Civil rights, Europe, Law, Politics | 4 Comments »

Liberal Party Traditions Hijacked: 2

Posted by Dave Bath on 2007-06-29

This post examines the Liberal Party of Australia and discusses the castration of its conservative traditions, continuing from Part 1, the LPA’s rejection of traditional liberal philosophies.

It’s harder to examine the conservative tradition, as (until the last couple of decades, and therefore not traditionally) there are very few writings that expound the conservative view, apart from those of Edmund Burke.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Australia, Philosophy, Politics | Leave a Comment »

UnSerious time

Posted by Dave Bath on 2007-06-27

The Uncyclopedia is a wiki for satire, some good, some pretty bad, some just tasteless (despite pee review).  I’m sure some of readers have wit enough to put something useful (too close to the bone) into this *pedia when you want a lift from the depression of recent headlines, so I’ll point you to a few posts that have caught my eye (not necessarily for merit):

Feel free to add pointers to your own favorite articles as comments…(avoiding those with overly obscene language unless you include a warning).

Posted in Humor | Leave a Comment »

Assessing merit of politicians by temporal focus during policy presentation

Posted by Dave Bath on 2007-06-26

A couple of recent papers from Harvard Business School have implications about how policy choices (and voting for parties with a particular party) should be presented to the electorate when there is a conflict between a "should" choice and a "want" choice, and also for gaining insight about the nature of the politician in question.

Changing the temporal perspective of the chooser further into the future increases the chance that the "should" is chosen over the "want". Putting this in Freudian terms, when discussing policies in the short-term, a politician appeals to the deliberative "id", while the deliberative "superego" will gain the upper-hand when specific long-term consequences are discussed.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Politics | Leave a Comment »

A basis for an Australian Bill of Rights

Posted by Dave Bath on 2007-06-25

Before the rights get gutted by Britain, and before Poland degrades it with mention of one particular religion, it is worth showing Australians the nature of the European ideals for fundamental rights. (or get it as browseable HTML or PDF ).

After an introduction, this post contains the charter itself (Preamble, Dignity, Freedoms, Equality, Solidarity, Citizen’s Rights, and Justice) followed by a set of links to precedent declarations of rights and followup articles.

I particularly draw your attention to Article 37: Environmental protection which is I think the first time such a document has made a stand on this important issue, Article 49: Principles of legality and proportionality of criminal offences and penalties which bans retrospective legislation against persons, and Article 41: Right to a good administration.  The idea of taking a politician to a court for infringing your fundamental rights by being incompetent, rather than merely malicious, would do an incredible amount of good for the quality of government in this country, and cause preselection processes in major political parties to get cleaned up.

The only thing I’d definitely do is remove the bits inserted by Britain (e.g. Article 36) that give member states too much latitude to weasel around these rights, although I’d think about constraining the capitalist clauses

I dare all parties and politicians seeking office in Australia to say why any of these freedoms are undeserved by Australia citizens, and why party platforms should not codify these rights under Australia’s laws or Constitution.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Australia, Civil rights, Europe, Politics | 2 Comments »


Posted by Dave Bath on 2007-06-24

Just stumbled on a gem: the first few strips from the Legend of Obviousman (a character in the brilliant Non Sequitur comic strip found in The Age) at the University of Delaware as part of their Communications 418 (History of broadcast TV) unit.  Check out the two-minute ObviousMan the Movie. Core thesis: the population doesn’t think anymore because it has information overload, which suits the powers-that-be very well.

Posted in Humor, Politics | Leave a Comment »

Drug-testing drivers is stupid

Posted by Dave Bath on 2007-06-24

Wanting to drug-test drivers ("Benzo drivers targets in new road toll push" The Age 2007-06-04) is wrong-headed, for cutting down the road toll, for procedural fairness, and scientifically.

If a driver is loaded to the eyeballs with drugs, but still co-ordinated and alert, why stop them driving?

The problem is the performance of drivers (hand-eye co-ordination, reaction time, etc), not whether they have drugs in their system, are too tired, or naturally unco-ordinated and near-blind.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Biology and Health, Law | Leave a Comment »

US$1.25 mill for “terrorists ate your insurance policy” lie

Posted by Dave Bath on 2007-06-23

It’ll be no surprise if patriotic Americans never buy insurance through Zurich again.  Zurich American Insurance had given insurance coverage to the World Trade Center (the landlord was the Port Authority) before the planes flew into it on 2001-09-11, but kept denying they’d covered it, mucked about for a few years, and finally got caught, and they (and their lawyer) were sanctioned US$1.25 million Monday by a federal judge in Manhattan for withholding and trying to destroy evidence.

Zurich employees’ deleted of a 62-page electronic version of a primary liability insurance policy issued for the World Trade Center properties, and Zurich’s lawyers who got a copy in 2003 did not produce it during the discovery process until 2005.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Economics and Business, Law, USA | Leave a Comment »

APEC security “cure” as bad as the “terrorism” it prevents?

Posted by Dave Bath on 2007-06-23

The SMH has been describing the costs of security actions during the upcoming September APEC meeting in Sydney (2007-05-15, 2007-06-22) in which, among other things, three city-circle train stations will close for three days, with each day having a similar cost to business of a public holiday ($300 million), and that’s not including the hassles and costs of all the ID cards and background checks.  (Well at least visiting dignitaries will get high-class ID-carrying "escorts".)

This impact brings to mind sections of the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995 definitions of a terrorist act, which (section 100.1(2)(f) seriously interferes with, seriously disrupts, or destroys, an electronic system including, but not limited to: … (vi) a system used for, or by, a transport system.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Australia, Politics, Society | 1 Comment »

Insurers and litigation on climate change is old news

Posted by Dave Bath on 2007-06-22

I’ve been delving more into the issues raised by an old post (Insurers to sue governments for climate irresponsibilities) and found that governments have been aware of the potential for years, and AMP (an insurer and large institutional investor) was describing the inaction on climate change as disastrous for Australia’s economy back in 2002.

I added details as a long additional comment to the original article.

If anybody has even older evidence that the Howard government must have known of their economic vandalism through climate-change inaction, I’d be very interested in your links.

Posted in Australia, Economics and Business, Environment, Politics | Leave a Comment »

Kiwis reject concept of an official religion

Posted by Dave Bath on 2007-06-22

While Howard is (hypocritically) praising western values, and promoting Christianity as a part of it, our pacific (in more ways than one) neighbors, our fellow Anzacs, have strongly rejected the idea of an official religion, according to a survey released 2007-06-18 from social and market research company Research New Zealand

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in New Zealand, Politics, Society, Theology and Religion | 1 Comment »

Islamist Idolators

Posted by Dave Bath on 2007-06-22

With Rushdie’s knighthood, the islamist extremists are on the warpath again, and I am reminded of thinking that such islamists, (e.g. as those protesting against Danish newspaper depictions of the Prophet ), are themselves getting extremely close to the sin of idolatry, one of the most serious errors in Islam.

The iconoclastic tradition of Islam (stemming from the Hadith, not the Q’ran) seeks to avoid the risk of people revering concrete depictions (statuary, paintings) of holy figures lest they start worshipping the image, rather than contemplating the ineffable, and focus on Muhammed rather than Allah.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Politics, Theology and Religion | Leave a Comment »

NEF review of energy choices and microgeneration

Posted by Dave Bath on 2007-06-22

The New Economics Foundation has released an excellent overview of energy alternatives in "Mirage and oasis: Energy choices in an age of global warming. (The trouble with nuclear power and the potential of renewable energy)".

It’s quite detailed, yet very reader-friendly, and has a good review of microgeneration (zero or low-carbon heat and power by individuals, small businesses and communities to meet their own needs).

It’s well worth a read, (even though it is mainly from a UK perspective).

Posted in Economics and Business, Environment | Leave a Comment »

%d bloggers like this: