Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Archive for the ‘Victoria’ Category

The Tabloid Justice Consultation

Posted by Dave Bath on 2011-08-02

The consultation about sentencing by Ballieu’s Vic Libs seems, from the structure, bent on whipping up another Laura Norder storm.

To be fair, it’s better structured than a typical yes/no "do crims get off too lightly" reader poll in a tabloid, but it is still dangerously simplistic.

At the end of the survey is a list of factors that might alter sentencing, things like whether the person was drunk, low IQ, impact on the victim…  This should have come first, before the section asking for judgements on case studies.  (Ask any teacher about well designed exams – you do the bits with individual elements first to get people warmed up, then give the questions that require all the elements to be integrated!)

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Posted in Australia, Governance, Law, Politics, Society, Victoria | 1 Comment »

Bushfire bastardry

Posted by Dave Bath on 2011-07-04

The dead in the horrible Victorian bushfires a few years back, and those that will die in the future from similar causes, seem to be, by misdirected investigations and blind eyes to evidence, poorly served by both current and previous governments.

Who benefits from this? Only the negligent – the privatised power supplier cutting corners on safety, or a government unwilling to pay compensation, or politicians in both major parties who do not want a proper evaluation of the fundamental dogma that pushes privatization of state assets in general and utilities in particular.

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Posted in Australia, Economics and Business, Governance, Media, Politics, Victoria | Comments Off on Bushfire bastardry

Bent and Bungled

Posted by Dave Bath on 2011-06-29

There are three billion more reasons to detest, and hopefully prosecute, the unlamented ALP Brumby government of Victoria.

The general continuity of policy under Liberal Premier Ballieu will be tested to see if it can use legal smarts to annul the 10 year pokies contracts the came out of deceitful behaviour by one, if not all parties.

Will Ballieu use the chance to kill two birds with one stone – sink the ALP in Victoria for a decade or more while helping the states coffers to the tune of billions at the same time?

It’s a win/win for Ballieu and Victoria if he does, and if he doesn’t, there is no reason to believe the Liberals will be any more honest, any more competent.

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Posted in Economics and Business, Governance, Politics, Victoria | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Most Oz Auditors-General do not provide RSS feeds

Posted by Dave Bath on 2011-04-13

It’s bleg time… for people who’d like to get all Auditor General offices to provide an RSS feed of announcements and reports.  I’m after ideas (a list of questions near the bottom of the post) and even cosignatories for a request that each audit office provide such a feed.

These days, with Gov 2.0 a buzz-word, and given the excellent work by Club Troppo‘s own Nicholas Gruen, you would expect almost all agencies to provide RSS feeds, and preferably, like the parliament, a range of news feeds for different purposes.

You might expect that an Auditor General would provide RSS feeds, as such an agency is not responsible to the executive, but to the parliament.

Yet only the audit offices of Western Australia ( and the federal ANAO ( provide RSS feeds, or are getting them set up.

I’d searched both with Google ( and visually through the Victorian Auditor General’s site ( for news feeds, with no joy, so sent a nice polite email to the office asking for a link to their feed for new reports and/or media announcements.

I received a polite reply as follows, but no joy. (I’ve linkified the relevant bits).

Dear Dave,
We do not have an RSS feed for our reports as we have a subscription service.
We use this purely to send alerts when we publish our reports.
You can subscribe vis this page:
Lesya Bryndzia
Communications Assistant
Victorian Auditor-General’s Office
Level 24, 35 Collins St. Melbourne Vic. 3000
t: (03) 8601 1666 f: (03) 8601 7010 e:

Well, I knew all about the subscription service – I get those emails.

But I want an RSS feed, easy to read, easy to share, and would have thought any agency would want their work spread easily – unless burying something is an aim.

I want the same in RSS as I get via email, a paragraph or two per report, and a link to the main report page – but one RSS item per report, and with a useful subject line.

<p>Because setting up an RSS feed is pretty trivial compared to an email subscription service (with all the costs associated with keeping an address list of private citizens private), I’d have thought the agency responsible for reviewing value-for-money issues would jump at the chance for a cheap way of making it’s work well known.

The privacy issue of an email subscription list is non-trivial – especially as subscribers are likely to be a grumpy bunch, wanting the official dirt on government – a list of people of interest to political minders.

It is hard to think of a valid reason why an audit office cannot or should not provide RSS feeds – after all, the audit offices federally and in WA do, or are in the process of doing so.

So… the bleggy bit…

  • Do you think all audit offices should provide RSS feeds?
  • Do you think RSS feeds are trivial to implement?
  • Should a common letter be sent to all audit offices, (excluding the "good guys" in WA and the ANAO)?
  • Should the national Auditors General Club ( get a copy?
  • Should government and opposition spokespersons get a copy of the letter, (and if so, in your state, who are they)?
  • Would you consider being a cosignatory to the email I plan to prepare?
  • Do you want to write individually, to the office in your own state?
  • Do you have an draft fragments you think should be included?

I’ll probably work on a draft, putting it in a follow-up post for further comments.


I used the google site: operator to search for "RSS" at most government audit offices – all but the NT had their own domain.  Here are the results (and follow the links if you want to know how to do such searches – very handy):

Posted in Australia, Governance, Information Management, Politics, Victoria | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Shared tram routes should have a shunt every block

Posted by Dave Bath on 2011-02-05

Imagine: peak hour St Kilda Rd, tram loaded with passengers breaks down between Toorak Road and Domain Interchange… or indeed anywhere along St Kilda Rd.  Result: chaos – trams back up for ever, and it’s a long walk to train stations.

The problems could be easily managed if they put in shunts every block down major shared lines, just like they have up near Melbourne Uni, near Queensberry St, near La Trobe…

The too-common image of dozens of trams nose-to-tail and stopped, meaning that within half and hour there’ll be no trams coming back the other way, because of a problem with a single tram, need never happen.

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Posted in Australia, Politics, Victoria | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Victorian lefties have some things to be thankful for

Posted by Dave Bath on 2010-11-30

Well, Victorian lefties should be rejoicing in the election loss of a right-wing government that abused FoI, had sham consultations, threw a cloak of secrecy over everything, spent huge sums of public money on party-political propaganda, handed over information on citizens from police files to private consortia, reeked of dodgy deals with developers, didn’t consider cheap water from stormwater reclamation and injection into the water table, …

The list of Joh Brumby’s sins against lefty goodness goes on and on and on… even before we get to the apolitical issues like incompetence writing specifications for contracts, meaningful penalty clauses, and manage the contract so that there is even a moderate resemblance between actual delivery costs and timeframes to what was presented to parliament and public.

OK, the Ballieu libs have some wrong-headed policies, are not likely to be as progressive as the universally respected liberal Dick Hamer, have pushed the Laura Norder furphy, but at least there is a promise to open up the books (if only to discover and release details of Brumby shonkiness).

OK, it could have been better, the Greens could have had a seat in the lower house to minimize the damage of the defacto right-wing coalition getting a 100% majority…

Maybe, just maybe, there’ll be a purging from the ALP of the right wing nasties, especially the backroom operators… but if this hasn’t happened federally, no right-wing heads on pikes in Canberra after the last federal election… optimism on that matter is unjustified.

I do, however, have a little optimism that Ballieu might be more transparent, more able to manage contracts, and able to do the forensics on the stuff that didn’t get shredded so that things are put in place to prevent any government risking such incompetence, such stench of dodgy deals against the public interest, for a long time.

What is needed, of course, is a public reform of the ALP, a return to principles, and a big row of faceless-men with heads on sticks the whole length of Spring St.

Posted in Australia, Governance, Politics, Victoria | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Who is more progressive – Pope or Joh Brumby?

Posted by Dave Bath on 2010-11-23

What does it say that since taking office, the Pope has made more significant moves in the progressive direction than Joh Brumby’s Victorian ALP government?

OK, the move by the Pope on condoms was miniscule and totally insufficient… but that’s my point.

Posted in Australia, Politics, Victoria | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Explain Vic if state issues affected federal votingBr

Posted by Dave Bath on 2010-08-26

Those explaining away ALP pain in Queensland and NSW federal seats might also try and explain Victoria… where it looks like a net loss of seats to leftish parties.

It cannot be because people have warm fuzzies about a wonderful state ALP government: the stench of incompetence and backroom ALP corruption under Brumby (either as Premier or Bracks’ puppet master) has even socialist me hoping for a Liberal minority government resulting from the upcoming Vic elections.

Posted in Australia, Politics, Victoria | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Kosky resigns – innocent AND guilty

Posted by Dave Bath on 2010-01-21

Lynne Kosky’s resignation from the Victorian Parliament and as Minister for Transport, for family reasons, was greeted with loud hurrahs by many long-suffering public transport patrons, and a string of "it wasn’t her fault" by many who recognized that taking over public transport, with many botched contracts already underway, was a poisoned chalice.

However, Lynne Kosky, along with all other Victorian Ministers, is extremely guilty of disservice to the public, for not gathering together with any honest party members, grabbing Joh Brumby, spreading him face-down on the Cabinet table, and shoving well-hidden and conveniently lost documents relating to mismanaged and ill-conceived contracts up his arse until his eyes popped out.

Such a method of assassination would take approximately 0.000000001% of documents meeting such criteria – even if they were on microfilm not paper.

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Posted in Governance, Politics, Victoria | 2 Comments »

A Climate-Model Wizard for the rest of us…

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-12-16

PLoS One has a newly published paper: (2009-12-15) doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0008320 "Applied Climate-Change Analysis: The Climate Wizard Tool" that delves into Climate Wizard, a free web-based tool that lets you choose the region, the models and datasets, whether you are interested in rainfall or temperature, averaged over the year, the season or a particular month, and get an easy-to-understand graphic out of it.

Here is a wide shot of the whole of Australia, using a CSIRO model, one particular emissions scenario, and looking at winter rains during the 2050s, showing the controls you have to generate your graphic:

Sample of ClimateWiz looking at winter rain in 2050s Australia

2050 Winter Rain IPCC A2 Scenario CSIRO Model Whole of AUS

Zooming in on one region and turning up the transparency so you can see towns gives you something like the following:

ClimateWiz 2050s Winter Rain, West Vic, A2 Emissions, CSIRO Model

ClimateWiz 2050s Winter Rain, West Vic, A2 Emissions, CSIRO Model

Damn… the dairy sector between Colac and Warrnambool, the milk I love from the places I love, is screwed BIG time under the A2 scenario and CSIRO modelling unless we quickly develop genetically-engineered cows that produce powdered milk.

Yes, it’s uses a lot of the same stuff as the IPCC, but accomodates newer data.  It’s so simple that even 10-year olds and politicians could use it.

Citation: Girvetz EH, Zganjar C, Raber GT, Maurer EP, Kareiva P, et al. (2009) Applied Climate-Change Analysis: The Climate Wizard Tool. PLoS ONE 4(12): e8320. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0008320

From the abstract….

Although the message of “global climate change” is catalyzing international action, it is local and regional changes that directly affect people and ecosystems and are of immediate concern to scientists, managers, and policy makers. A major barrier preventing informed climate-change adaptation planning is the difficulty accessing, analyzing, and interpreting climate-change information. To address this problem, we developed a powerful, yet easy to use, web-based tool called Climate Wizard ( that provides non-climate specialists with simple analyses and innovative graphical depictions for conveying how climate has and is projected to change within specific geographic areas throughout the world.

The results of these analyses are consistent with those reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, but at the same time, they provide examples of how Climate Wizard can be used to explore regionally- and temporally-specific analyses of climate change. Moreover, Climate Wizard is not a static product, but rather a data analysis framework designed to be used for climate change impact and adaption planning, which can be expanded to include other information, such as downscaled future projections of hydrology, soil moisture, wildfire, vegetation, marine conditions, disease, and agricultural productivity.

Posted in Australia, Economics and Business, Environment, Information Management, Politics, Science and Tech, Victoria | Leave a Comment »

Higgins By-Election 2009 – A Biased Form Guide

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-12-03

A Higgins resident, it’s time for my form guide (biased, I know), and a list of other form guides to the 2009-12-05 by-election.

I’ve included links to parties and personal sites where I can find them, and I wish the AEC would do the same!

I’ve placed the candidates in a table ordered by MY preference, (although my rating is A-Z) and hope the winner is Dr Joe Toscano.  I’ve never had a problem with any of the many letters and/or op-eds he has had printed in The Age over many years.

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Posted in Australia, Economics and Business, Environment, Politics, Victoria | 1 Comment »

After 15 years, lack of data on Mental Health Crises is intentional

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-11-14

Unsurprisingly, the "Responding to Mental Health Crises in the Community" (2009-11-11) report from the Victorian Auditor General didn’t get a mention within a few days (at least) in either the old or new RSS feeds of all Victorian Premier and Ministers media statements.

Before having a brief look at the Auditor’s report on this topic (it ain’t pretty), it’s worth noting that very few of the auditor’s reports get a mention in the "All Media Releases" from the Victoria.  Three, according to searching within Google Reader, in a little over a year, had the word "auditor" in them… which suggests that only three were viewed as supporting the government, or even slightly spinnable.  There’s an opportunity for some interesting metrics, or even mashups there… looking for auditor reports and corresponding government/opposition media releases, especially the ones where the government avoids even the spin attempt.

The auditor examined the Department of Health, four Area Mental Health Services, Victoria Police and Ambulance Victoria to assess whether:

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Posted in Australia, Biology and Health, Governance, Information Management, Politics, Victoria | 2 Comments »

Will Holding understand homelessness any better?

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-09-01

A healthy young politician, probably enjoying the benefits of survival training in the army reserve, spends a couple of days in freezing conditions (see ABC News), after ignoring safety signs that tell everyone not to wander alone in the snow, and it is described by the various news services as an ordeal.

Will this lead him to advocate more emergency shelters for the many homeless, who deal with exposure to the elements for the entire winter, and are more vulnerable because of poor nutrition?

It’s Tim Holding, who didn’t exactly get full marks for competence when he was Police and Emergency Services minister, and certainly, given his stupid solo wanderings on Feathertop, must be a very slow learner.

…And if he is considered one of the best and brightest in the Victorian ALP then how dumb must the rest of the Joh Brumby gang be?  How badly do they suffer from "one rule for the plebs, another for us"?

So, hope for any improvements in policy for the extremely disadvantaged in Victoria that rely on empathy and learning-from-the-experience is probably more than a little optimistic.

Posted in Australia, Politics, Victoria | 1 Comment »

Vic Gov RSS shouts – it’s all they can do

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-08-31

At first I thought the Victorian Government Media Releases RSS feed (, was simply ugly and unreadable because of the shouting all caps.

But then I realized it is a perfect fit with Joh Brumby’s government.

Don’t do good policy – just shout loudly enough about how great you are so everyone gets bored.

And just about everyone with half an education in typography knows that all-caps shouting becomes ever less readable compared to lower-case letters as the length of the text gets longer… yeah, don’t do anything to make it easier for people to find the interesting stuff and read the fine print.


Posted in Information Management, Language Use, Politics, Victoria | Leave a Comment »

With apologies to Catullus on Aemilius

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-08-25

In all honesty I can’t tell the difference between the stench of corruption from Australia’s Labor and that from the Libs.

The stench of one equals the filth of the other.

Actually, the Libs are probably now the cleaner of the two, for they’re without teeth, while the policy teeth of Labor are twisted and dark, emerging from the cleft tongues of leaders with morning-mouth reek after all-night sessions with the big knobs in town.

Yet they tout themselves ethical, getting nearly all votes, the plaudits of pundits and are never called to task for dirty dealings and broken promises.

Whoever votes for either of the majors is equally capable of believing the gutter press and the media releases of James Hardie.

Actually, the more R-rated imagery of Catullus 97 may better reflect my disgust.

Posted in Australia, Ethics, Politics, Victoria | 9 Comments »

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