NME names the “greatest albums of all time”; loveable, misanthropic British vegan and his pals top list

So, lists. We love them, because they help us make order of things. Strangely, if we don’t make a list of the 50 Singers Who Would Have Been Singers In A Past Life Too, we’ll certainly argue with the merits of the list and who should be ranked higher or lower. Every list is problematic, subjective… and utterly compelling.

NME have picked their top 5 albums of all time, but as I go through the list and get reminded of bands from my teenage years (#499 is a Belly album! Sweet Jesus I haven’t heard that name since 1994!) that I’d long forgotten I will try and comment further. Let me instead leave you with the top 25 and note that the producer of #1, though chuffed, didn’t agree with it:

http://www.nme.com/news/the-smiths/73363

. The Smiths – The Queen Is Dead

2. The Beatles – Revolver

3. David Bowie – Hunky Dory

4. The Strokes – Is This It

5. The Velvet Underground & Nico – The Velvet Underground

6. Pulp – Different Class

7. The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses

8. Pixies – Doolittle

9. The Beatles – The Beatles (White Album)

10. Oasis – Definitely Maybe

11. Nirvana – Nevermind

12. Patti Smith – Horses

13. Arcade Fire – Funeral

14. David Bowie – Low

15. PJ Harvey – Let England Shake

16. Joy Division – Closer

17. Public Enemy – It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back

18. My Bloody Valentine – Loveless

19. Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not

20. Radiohead – OK Computer

21. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

22. Blur – Parklife

23. David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars

24. The Rolling Stones – Exile on Main St

25. Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On

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Globalisation, minimum wages and measuring what it all means

I caught the tail end of Gruen Planet tonight and the discussion was framed around the tragic collapse of the Rana Plaza complex in Savar, Bangladesh. The complex was home to what is best known as sweatshop labour and was, at the time, manufacturing clothing and other garments for a variety of Western sources. A total of 1,129 people died as a result of the collapse and the associated working conditions.

The point was made that whilst blame is directed at companies (the argument being these abhorrent conditions are the result of corporate greed), none of the blame is directed at the consumer who has created this condition in the first place. That is, companies didn’t start looking for cheap labour and we said to ourselves, “oh, bonus! A bargain!” We wanted bargains and they sourced increasingly cheaper labour.

That’s probably a whole blog post in and of itself; that, and the view that it’s actually ok at the moment if the “third” world is paid low wages because you can’t build a middle class over night. What I did want to focus on was a point that participants touched on – how the minimum wage in Bangladesh is US$38/mo.

These kinds of figures – others include the standard metric for poverty of US$2 or less – carry substantial emotional weight for people in the West. The standard response of any individual, immediately, is “how barbaric, for I could not live on this little money each month!” This is likely true, but they’re actually not living on that per month.

Of the ways we measure wealth in a country is per capita GDP. This is a meaningless statistic in real terms, since it’s averaged out and therefore skewed by volumes at the top and bottom end. We could look at median income – a bell curve which shows the figure by which as many people earn more as earn less than this amount. Useful, but without context. In order to process these amounts (the $38/month amount) we need to reference an economic theory that, without realising it, you’ve used many times before: purchasing power parity (PPP).

The way PPP works is like this (and I’m going high level for expediencies sake): you create a hypothetical exchange rate between currencies that measures the value of constant goods and services so you can work out not just how many widgets of Currency X you can buy using widgets of Currency Y, but what things cost in Currency X vs Currency Y. The Economist has a table which tracks this know as their Big Mac Index – showing that in US$, a Big Mac might cost, say, $4 in the US but $2 in China, illustrating that the US$ can buy more goods and services in China than it can in the US.

We do this when we travel. We work out that we can buy a good that’s available in our country for less in another country, which is the same principal – goods cost more or less depending on where we are, irrespective of the cross rate or what the USD trades against our currency for.

This doesn’t imply that in actual fact, Bangladeshis are paid a princely sum for their minimum wage. I’m merely hoping people might try and work out what $38/mo will buy you in Bangaldesh, rather than saying “I couldn’t live off that amount.” No, you couldn’t – but the minimum monthly wage according to Fair Work Australia is $622.20 per week for full time adults. This works out at $2696.20 before tax per month. So, whilst living standards are going to be better here than in Bangladesh, the question is – if the minimum wage is designed to provide the minimum amount to workers to survive, does this $38/mo do this?

And I know people are genuinely distressed at the comparative wage gaps between the developed and developing world – my advice to you is to study your history and study your economics. Wages are rising in China because they started low, had comparative advantage in labour, and built industry around that. A middle class was born as a result and when we look at the typical inequality measurement – the GIni coefficient – we can see a move towards greater equality in the PRC. Bangladeshis will be, over time, better off as a result of what they’re going through now just like we are better off from going through it during the Industrial Revolution. If there was a way to ensure the creation of a middle class without this process, that worked, I’d be all ears. But given how successful Bangladesh is now in relative terms, I would argue it’s only a matter of time and sadly, significant human cost.

Red Bull sister team, Scuderia Toro Rosso signs Russian driver Daniil Kyvat. Da, da.

A few years ago, Red Bull decided that their squillions of dollars could be spend on extreme sports, in a strategy designed to advertise the brand and recoup expenditure with more Red Bull money. Part of this decision included buying the failing Jaguar Racing Team and re-branding it as Red Bull Racing. Their first coup came when former McLaren driver and square-headed Scot David Coulthard signed for the team. Australian Mark Webber later joined it, and then DC was replaced by Sebastian Vettel in 2009 after DC retired… and in 2010 Red Bull won it’s first double constructor’s and driver’s titles. (Constructors is for the winning team).

Over the course of this, Red Bull has started a young driver academy, to create a stable of upcoming talent in lesser racing formulas that can one day be brought into F1.  Another way of achieving this is the sister team to Red Bull, Scuderia Toro Rosso – bought from the remnants of Minardi racing in 2006.

Toro Rosso was, at least in theory, going to prepare drivers for the senior (Red Bull) team and that was the mandate under which the scuderia operated. As I mentioned, Vettel made the move from STR to Red Bull for 2009 but no other drivers had followed suit – mostly because the other Red Bull driver, Mark Webber, wasn’t going anywhere and was a rock solid performer. In 2011, STR drivers Jaime Algesuari (SPA) and Sebastian Buemi (CH, or Switzerland if you prefer ;)) were both dropped in a fairly shock move, being replaced with French driver Jean-Eric Vergne and Australian Daniel Ricciardo. I blogged earlier about Ricciardo getting the Red Bull seat, almost proving that the STR -> Red Bull process works.

So, where does the young Russian Daniil Kyvat feature in this? Good question. There’s two things I want to cover. The first is “pay drivers”. Pay drivers are a common feature in F1 and are much what they sound like – drivers who get their seat because the team wants the sponsorship money they bring with it. Pastor Maldonado, of WilliamsF1, is a good example of this – yes, he won in Spain in 2012 but he tends to drive like it’s MarioKart and is basically an utter asshole from what I can see. But, the government of the thankfully-dead jerk Hugo Chavez, through state oil firm PVSDA, paid good sponsorship money so that Maldonado could wreck people’s races so he gets a seat. It tends to annoy a lot of drivers who are arguably more talented but less backed by big companies. Rightly or wrongly…

Red Bull, as I mentioned, have squillions of dollars so they can afford (pardon the pun) not to trawl for pay drivers and can promote talent to the sport. Previously, Antontio Felix da Costa had been rumoured for the seat (and I believe he has the same manager as Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, so rumours that Alonso was leaving Ferrari for Red Bull were probably based on Felix da Costa’s – and Alonso’s – manager meeting with Red Bull) but has endured a difficult season in Formula Renault 3.5 this year. Kyvat, by contrast, has done well simultaneously in GP3 and Formula 3 which is crucial as they are vastly different cars with different tyre compounds. Tyres are crucial in Formula 1 at the moment so no doubt this helped make the decision in the Russian’s favour.

It will be interesting to see if he delivers – so far, the only Russian in Formula 1 has been VItali Petrov and he was good but inconsistent. Between Kyvat and Sauber F1 prodigy Sergey Sirotkin in 2014 we have two hyped Russian drivers. Russia’s a target market for F1 so obviously the F1 powers-what-be will be happy.

Now, to get some American drivers…

Turning back boats, “illegals”, and the problems with the politics of immigration

Of late I’ve been slack and terrible and all that about blogging, to which I blame some totally viable scapegoating solution.

The topic of people arriving in Australia by boat is that, at least to me, it’s a campaign of fear and ignorance colliding with… a campaign of fear and ignorance. There’s very little attempt to analyse the situation objectively and dispassionately by both the anti-crowd (whom many suspect of being racist) and the pro-crowd (who have built their ivory tower out of papier-mache. In the interests of full disclosure; 1) my father’s family came to Australia as refugees from the former Dutch colony of Indonesia following the latter’s independence, and 2) I worked for the Department of Immigration in a role closely aligned with promoting the contested “Pacific Solution”. So I’ve actually seen the inside of the proverbial sausage factory, as it were.

Recently, the Coalition government has elected to use the terminology “illegal arrivals” to describe people arriving in Australia by boat. It’s a curious phrase; David Marr, writing in the Guardian, noted that it’s not clear how they’re illegal. All done in prissy David Marr fashion (watch ABC’s Insiders when he’s on; you get the sense he’s brilliant but an insufferable twat in person) of course. He also asserts that under the Howard government – which was also my tenure at DIAC – used this term as well. This is not correct; the terminology I remember well, because it’s so astonishingly public service that it burns an impression into your mind: “unlawful non-citizens”.

I’m conflicted here though, because just how much I can or should reveal about what we were doing back then I’m not sure of. Suffice to say that our efforts at capacity building in the region were ignored by a media that’s proving 110% of the information to pro-boat arrival types; and that no mention of the immigration officials rotating out on a two- or three-monthly basis to work in refugee camps processing asylum requests occurred during my time there. Or, in simple terms – I’m willing to bet most people hold an opinion on boat arrivals, but that the opinion is missing such a substantial raft of facts and figures that it can justifiably be dismissed as adorably quaint.

Instead, what I will do is this – make a case for why a harsh and unwelcoming regime awaits anyone who attempts the journey by sea is more of a humanitarian effort than people realise.

I’ll start with another caveat – I left DIAC in March 2008 so my information is, at this point, 5 years out of date. I’ve not read any of the Department’s annual reports (but to be fair, none of you have either, ha!) so nothing is adjusted for recent figures.

If you want to understand the core mechanics of what drives people to make the journey to Australia by boat, in risky and dangerous conditions, stop doing what you’re doing now which is making an emotional judgement. Your heart is for feeling, your head is for analysis so use the head. It’s not about escaping from diabolical persecution, or dreaming of the opportunities a free liberal democracy can offer.

It’s about economics. Migration itself has always been a primarily economic concept – and before you pat yourself on the back for that “a ha!” moment as you point to people fleeing war with naught but their trousers, allow me to finish – and so when both Labor and Liberal governments categorise boat arrivals as “economic migrants”, they are actually accurate and this tallies with my experiences.

Anyone who has done basic economics will know that a simple risk matrix will risk and reward on your x and y indices and the higher you go along one index, the higher you go along another creating a nice, neat diagonal line away from the start. People who have made a decision to migrate do so based on having sufficient tolerance for the risks (culture shock, language barriers, incompatibility of skills etc) in order to take advantage of the rewards (higher earnings potential; greater job satisfaction and security; better opportunities for their kids). People who elect to migrate illegally to, say, Australia take on greater risks but proportionately, they see that they will reap rewards that justify the risks.

This isn’t to say, just so it’s clear, that people who arrive by boat aren’t leaving behind a pretty awful situation – it’s not. It’s indicating that in fact it’s probably a tonne better here than there. A question needs to be asked though, and in my view it’s one that’s not asked enough – either because people don’t consider it (the ignorance component I spoke of earlier), or because people don’t want the answer.

If a person arriving by boat is a genuine refugee as defined by the UN Convention, then why have they not approached an Australian diplomatic mission directly? Let’s assume they’re Afghans (fun trivia: Every time someone talks about people from Afghanistan as “Afghanis”, which is often, they’re actually talking about the currency. The people are Afghans. You can now mock their ignorance with haughty disdain, as you know better!). And let’s assume that they worry about approaching the Australian mission in Kabul due to reprisals – a fair assumption.

To get here by boat, they have to make an overland journey which usually ends in a country we used to define as a transit country for illegal migration (as opposed to a source country). Typically this is in SE Asia. Several embassies and high commissions are accessible to these migrants along the road, but they don’t take it. Why?

Enter the service provider in the illegal migration trade. The facilitator. Colloquially best known as “snakeheads” (after a Chinese smuggling gang), these gangs operate networks to smuggle people into countries in a variety of ways. We know how this happen by boat, but it’s also possible by air. Airlines work closely with the Department (through “ALOs” or Airline Liason Officers, a rotating three month post in key source and transit airports in the region) to detect and stop this, and there’s a hefty incentive on airlines to be vigilant – if someone arrives unlawfully in Australia the airline is responsible for repatriating them.

At the time I was involved in this the usual cost per person to be smuggled by boat was around AU$50,000 per head. It’s hard to know what the cost is now; the relaxation of some of the border controls by Rudd did not lessen the risk to the operators, but rather made it more likely a person who arrived would be able to stay.

Realistically, someone exploring this option doesn’t have that kind of cash. It could be argued this only highlights their desperation but I can’t accept that argument. People in refugee camps in, say, Thailand are also desperate, but they’re not stupid about it. If you are facilitating arrival by boat for a significant sum of money, you’re likely to have to do pretty inhumane things to repay it. By which I mean, indentured servitude until the debt’s paid off, such as manual labour or sex work (I know the Department used to routinely raid brothels for such a reason).

So let’s recap. You’ve avoided refugee camps and embassies to seek out people smugglers for an extraordinary sum of money and significant risk that you could lose your life at sea. To be fair, you get some training on what to do if the Navy intercepts you – you ditch your documents and say as little as possible to deny the Department officers the chance to identify you and your nationality. You figure if they can’t prove who you are they can’t send you back and will eventually release you… right?

If the message is one that says “sorry, you will not be welcome by boat. You will not be allowed to stay. You won’t even set foot in Australia if you try”, it creates a disincentive for people to risk life, limb and liberty (I don’t mean by being put into an immigration detention facility or “IDC”; I mean by being a slave for years until you pay back your debt if you have one) in a rickety boat. As I noted earlier, we do have Department officials in refugee camps and we are one of the few nations that takes refugees in. I’d also note our net legal migration has been generally increasing each year (2009-10 it slid back from 172K to 168K persons per annum; I’ve seen no explanation for this but it may be GFC related?) so we’re hardly turning people away.

So I guess the conclusion you’d have to reach is that people arriving by boat are circumventing the existing processes for migration by claiming asylum (when they are not fleeing actual persecution) on arrival. I would find it hard to explain to someone in a camp in, say, the Lebanon, fleeing persecution from one of the competing factions in the Syrian civil war, that they have to go through a certain process and they miss out (because there’s actually a thought process behind the allocation of visas and there are quantities each year) because someone threw dice in Kabul and decided to take the boat route. To me that just creates an argument that why not go by boat. It’s easier. I hate to use the phrase “queue jumper” because of it’s unpleasant associations, but…

I won’t disagree that mandatory detention is a harsh solution, but as an effective deterrent to that kind of activity I think it kind of has to occur. Politics is about tough decisions and utilitarianism demands we sometimes make those decisions for the greater good. I would much rather that we bring in actual refugees from actual warzones (like we did in 2006/7 with the Sudanese refugees we settled in… I want to say Bathurst?) and bring in 175,000 legal migrants from all over the world who enhance the multicultural tapestry of our society than have people arrive by boat. In fact, I would rather we said to people, “look, you’re not welcome to risk yours and your families life to come here by boat. Don’t bother, we’ll turn you away… if you take that route. But if you apply through the correct channels… we look forward to your arrival and our society will be enhanced by your being in it”.

That way nobody’s being pushed aside, nobody’s risking their lives at sea, and we’re not taking on more people than we can create jobs and opportunities for. How awful.

Rush – a review of a Ron Howard film about a burn victim

So, I’ve been pretty quiet on the blog front of late due to illness which has sapped my energy and left me as indifferent as your average teenager. I’ve got a couple of topics to tackle (ooh, minor alliteration; fancy!) but the first is a review of the film Rush by Ron Howard.

Rush, if you weren’t aware, is a story framed around the 1976 Formula 1 season, in which Britain’s James Hunt (played by Chris Hemsworth), driving for McLaren, battled with Austrian Niki Lauda (an astonishingly accurate Daniel Brühl) in his Ferrari. The fulcrum point for this relationship was the German Grand Prix in August, at the (in)famous Nürburgring (about an hour’s north of Cologne/Köln). Back then, the race took place on the Nordschleife section of the track – previously nicknamed the Green Hell, it was a dangerous 22km long lap (most laps are 5km/h by comparison) with 150 odd turns compared to 16 or so these days. A nightmare of a circuit.

The results are history, of course – the weather was awful, Lauda wanted the race called off, was overruled, and suffered a terrible accident that saw his Ferrari 312 catch fire. He spent a minute trapped in the chassis and, despite a low prediction of survival, was back in the cockpit less than month later. His burns were substantial and you can still see clear evidence of it today, almost 40 years later.

The film starts with their Formula 3 rivalry being born at Watkins Glen and culminates after Hunt wins his first title (Lauda was defending champion from 1975) in Italy. The rivalry between Hunt and Lauda is sexed up for the cameras – the relationship was not nearly as antagonistic as the film makes out, but since it lends itself to an interesting and enjoyable narrative, we can forgive this. Hunt and Lauda are at polar opposites; Hunt, brimming with raw talent and pace, is a playboy whereas Lauda is mechanical, methodical, and consistent. The film nicely ends with a serious of stills and videos from 1976, showing Hunt alone and with Lauda, and it’s genuinely aching to hear Lauda say that despite their rivalries and Hunt’s flippancy, he genuinely liked him and misses him (Hunt died in 1993, aged 45, of a heart attack).

Being a Formula 1 fan, I was one of the converted masses who hadn’t seen good racing since 1971’s Le Mans with Steve McQueen. The last good F1 movie? 1966’s Grand Prix, starring James Garner, Graham Hill (!), Jack Brabham (!!), and Lucille from Arrested Development. If the film showed the sport respect, we’d be happy. And it did; it’s not always accurate, but it isn’t grossly inaccurate and for the intended audience – i.e. not F1 fans – it damn near perfect.

Which brings me to my point – how does this rate for people who aren’t into F1? If you’re on the fence about this film, go see it. It will give you characters you care about (genuinely, you will feel for Lauda, even when his bluntness works against him) and racing that will excite you whilst not overwhelming you. Hell, it might also give you some insight into why we’ll religiously watch a 2hr race at ridiculous hours of the night/morning. This is a Ron Howard film, the same Ron Howard who gave us Frost/Nixon, Cinderella Man or Apollo 13. It is shot beautifully, lovingly, and despite being self-funded, as professionally as any big studio picture. This is a Peter Morgan script, as tight as Frost/Nixon or the Queen. Hell, if Chris Hemsworth wandering around shirtless is enough to tempt you, go and be converted. You might just end up a Brühl fan too.

4.5/5 stars

 

The real casualty of the abolished climate change regime could be the Clean Energy Finance Commission

Consistent with their election pledge, the Coalition government in Australia has axed all the climate change policies of their predecessors. I’m understating things when I say that I’m not sure that was such a good idea.

The Climate Commission was axed and plans are in motion to repeal other Rudd/Gillard era policies such as the carbon tax, the carbon change authority and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

Taking the assumption that none of this is ideal and that like it or not, action needs to occur – and as Malcolm Turnbull best said, if you want action on climate change, someone’s going to have to pay for it (i.e. the carbon price). But if you have to pick something to save, then my argument is in favour of the finance corporation.

Australia is uniquely placed in many ways to lead in the fields of green tech and alternative energies. With our abundant open space and saturation with sunlight (as a lover of grim, cold, overcast rainy days I find the latter diabolical), we should be looking into developing solar technologies and effectively harvesting that energy. Solar suffers in two main areas – the first being that the collection mechanisms aren’t as efficient at retaining energy as we’d like (both due to reflection and the energy source itself), and the second being that battery technology needs improving so that any stored energy retains its charge.

Similarly our proximity to Asia leaves us with access to a potential marketplace for cheaper, consistent energy sources. As anyone who’s spent a lot of time in Asia (both north and southeast Asia) can attest, energy consumption in this part of the world is high due to both the climate (busily compensating for >35°C/95% humidity days) and population density. Whether there is grassroots support for greentech there or not is irrelevant – cheaper, more efficient technologies that take less from a consumer’s pocket will always be attractive.

We also have the scope to invest in biofuels, learning from the US’ mistakes in this area. I am referring to the ethanol subsidy here. It is  a noble idea to add incentives to produce cleaner, cheaper fuels but the side effect is that more land has been given over to fuel production than to food production. With the rising wealth in the developing world leading to increased meat consumption, and about 7kgs of grains required per 1kg of meat, the US has unintentionally undermined food security at a time when key grain producers are recovering from floods and drought. Knowing this, we can certainly learn from it in our own pursuit of biofuels.

Having a funding model that kickstarts an infant industry is, therefore, essential. Even if it pledges to match private sector funds dollar for dollar the money is essential and vital. As the Commission itself says:

The objective of the CEFC is to overcome capital market barriers that hinder the financing, commercialisation and deployment of renewable energy, energy efficiency and low emissions technologies…The CEFC will not provide grants.  It is intended to be commercially oriented and to make a positive return on its investments.“.

This approach is consistent with the Coalition’s appreciation for the power of free markets and to contemplate abolishing it seems, even in light of the current economic climate (pardon the choice of words), a myopic decision. 

On Tony Abbott, “missing” ministries and women

So, once again that drunken asshole “real life” has conspired to keep me away from blogging; perhaps it too finds this stuff intolerable. Whatever. Jerk.

This week, my Facebook feed has been populated by people losing their shit over a lot of nothing, then an oddly muted response to “something”.

So, let’s try and take a look at this with the benefit of reason. That’s the trouble with the leftist crowd; they have lots of heart and figure they can apportion the extra “caring” to the brain to use in lieu of thinking. Physician, heal thyself and all that.

Oh my fuck, there’s no Minister of Silly Walks! THEY HATE SILLY WALKERS!

The first exodus of common sense from public discourse was around the newly unveiled ministry. Abbott had stated his intent was to “clean up” the volume of ministerial appointments, consistent with his theme of.. um… consistency.

Accordingly, titles such as the Minister for <Issue> were wrapped up into broader portfolios. And people lost their most beloved shit. “He doesn’t care about issues,” they wailed, clutching a well-worn photo depicting loss and anguish to their bosom.  “He just wants people to suffer”.

OK, so despite asking people publicly and privately for examples of how these changes had lead to specific policy changes that supported these dire pronouncements, I haven’t seen a shred of evidence to date that the streamlined cabinet has negatively impacted anyone. It’s almost like the hyperbole was… completely unnecessary!

Far be it for me to suggest that maybe we should judge the government on how they govern.

Women’s representation

I’m not going glib on this one, because I think it’s a serious topic. There’s two parts, so I’ll address them separately.

1) Women in the cabinet – merit v quotas

So we’re clear, I really want a gender and race blind Australia. There’s no viable basis for discrimination based on arbitrary factors and let’s face it, on honest metrics women are outperforming us white hetero males substantially. Using low tactics to keep women away from positions of leadership and authority is pitiful.

So, having said that, I agree in principle with Bronwyn Bishop’s sentiment that equality, achieved through quotas and not “merit”, is simple institutionalised discrimination. And, ugly paternalism – white men need to give women something they can’t have on their own.

However… However… I doubt the implementation side of this. Abbott lamented a ‘disappointing’ lack of women on the front benches, suggesting though that they were ‘knocking at the door’. Bronwyn Bishop defended this saying that promotion was on merit alone. And if we were being objective, which is less fun than a tired and I suspect inaccurate charge of misogyny, we would suggest the cabinet reflects the government’s promise (and mandate) to be “stable”.

Except, I doubt there are not talented and experienced women who could have taken these roles. So whilst the theoretical high ground belongs to the Coalition over Labor, the practical ground – which is more meaningful – is firmly Labor’s. And, whilst the six ministers promoted by Gillard from 2010 (of which how many stood down with her? :)) were done so to fill a quota, they were highly competent and engaged women and I hope some of them get Labor leader or deputy leader positions.

(Of course, if they elect Anthony Albanese, he’ll be a Simon Crean for this decade).

The Coalition had better consider a ministerial shuffle in the 2nd year.

2) Tony Abbott as “women’s minister”.

What a load of arse. Responsibility for women’s issues sat with PM&C (Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet; don’t underestimate a former public servant’s capacity to drop acronyms like… an acronym dropper) before being moved out in 2004. Plus, the Coalition’s pre-election briefing material advised that they would do this, so that women’s issues were not seen, or aligned with, welfare issues:

Whilst the current location of the Office for Women in the Department of Family and Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs provides an important link with the services and support provided by that Department, it risks marginalising the Women’s portfolio as simply a welfare concern.

I’m sorry but that’s actually not a bad idea. And the person with responsibility for women’s affairs isn’t Tony Abbott, it’s Sen. Michaela Cash of Western Australia. She should be in the ministry, I grant that but this is too factual and not juicy enough for impassioned, vapid leftists to rally behind as typical gross injustice. Won’t somebody please think of the children!

I would have liked to have seen science aligned with industry and digital economy, so that we could start to lead the world in alternative energy. I’d like to see a women’s portfolio that assumes most women are bright and don’t need white men to gift them advantage, and that inspires a future generation to enter politics. I’ll reserve judgement until we have results to review and assess.

People need to stop losing their shit over stuff they wish Abbott would do so they can hiss the villain. He may well preside over a cockup of biblical proportions; or he may confound expectation and deliver solid governance. My point is, you should judge the government on their governance, and not before they’ve had a fortnight in the job.