Archive for April, 2019


April 25, 2019


Election posters are going up.  As I walked home from the station last night I spotted this young man’s picture fastened to the railings on the bridge over the Cooks River.

He is Connor Parissis, Greens candidate for Barton.

I’ve got a lot of respect for Linda Burney, the ALP incumbent, but before I vote for her I doubt if I will be able to resist expressing a prior preference.

Explanation of the title of this post is here.

The tram to nowhere

April 24, 2019

On Saturday, with my Chinese-Australian friend Z, I drove to Canberra.

The purpose was to shift some stuff in my late father’s house which was too bulky for me to deal with on my own.

We reached Canberra about an hour after sundown.  We had paused on the way to view the Easter moon as it rose over Lake George.

We came in down the now tree-denuded Northbourne Avenue.  The avenue of trees was felled to make way for the light rail.

Hang on!  Wasn’t Saturday the first day of Canberra’s new light rail?  I knew some festivities had been planned.  A quick internet check revealed that it was to be a fare-free day.

This was our moment to help make history!  We left the car in the car park of the former ACT motor registry and sauntered to Dickson light rail stop.  The first tram which arrived was headed to Gungahlin and we hopped aboard.

It was a bit silly really. From the brightly lit carriage we could scarcely make out any scenery.  We resorted to people-watching.

The tram was liberally staffed attendants clad in red with dinky Akubras.  It’s the bush capital, y’know.  From time to time there was a bit of fussing around about one thing or another: they are still on a learning curve.

Canberra has its fair share of bogan elements but on the light rail we were more a mixture of would-be urbanites/public transport nerds and families of subcontinental background with small children.  I pointed out to Z examples of a special kind of Canberra youth which you hardly ever see in Sydney.  I’ve had a theory about this ever since I met boys from Canberra when I first went to university.  They seem gentler than their Sydney counterparts; sometimes a little precious.  I’ve wondered if it was the lack of the example of the very poor before them in such a middle-class city; an ex-Canberran friend offered the view that it is more to do with Canberra being a very large country town.  At 440,000 on last announcement I spotted, it is just under twice the population it was when I lived there fresh out of uni, now more than 35 years ago.

Z shared with me a code he and his (“Western”) friend use when wishing to point out to each other beguiling (I guess young) men in public places.  If “Asian,” “panda;” if “Western,” “kangaroo.”

Z wanted something to eat at Gungahlin, but the restaurants he liked the look of were all closing, even though it was scarcely 8pm.  An enormous Coles was still open.

Time to linger was short as we still needed to get something to cook for dinner.  We took the next tram back to the other end of the line in Civic, stayed on it and rode back to Dickson.  By pressing my face closer to the window I was able to get a better view of the scenery, such as it was.

Be “informed”

April 22, 2019

This is not the first time I have seen this.

On the Guardian/Australia website, an ad for News Limited, specifically, for subscriptions to The Australian:

“Be informed this election.  $5 a week for 8 weeks.”

I expect News Limited is wasting its money, but I’m a bit shocked that The Guardian is taking it all the same.


April 18, 2019

A nun once caused quite a commotion
When she played, weeping tears of emotion,
The “Moonlight” Sonata
Whilst suffering stigmata
At the Good Friday three hours’ devotion.


You can’t say that

April 13, 2019

In breaking news, Melissa Parke, former member for Fremantle and “star candidate” for Julie Bishop’s former seat of Curtin, has withdrawn her candidature following criticism of pro-Palestinian  views expressed by her.

It is not possible for such views or even the mildest suggestion of even-handedness between two sides in this dispute to be expressed in Australia by a mainstream career politician. Politicians who do wish to express such views have to wait until they are retired or at least on the home stretch to retirement – the brief outbreak of UN abstention when Bob Carr was foreign affairs minister is an example of the latter.

Meanwhile, Australian parliamentarians routinely go on “information tours” of Israel which, however dressed-up, could only occur if state-sponsored by Israel.  This happens without a murmur from those who are quickest to denounce “foreign influence” when it comes from other directions.

Australia is a global outlier when it comes to Israel and Palestine.   The circumscription of permissible public discourse underwrites this. There must be ramifications for our international relations.  It should be possible in a democracy for these questions to be entertained in mainstream political debate, but at present it is not.

This is not a healthy situation.  How long can it be sustained?

PS, 15/4: Now Josh Wilson, Parke’s successor as member for Fremantle, is also under fire.  Video here:

“They are going to turn Palestine into Swiss cheese and that is what is happening,” Mr Wilson is seen as saying.

Executive director of the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council Colin Rubenstein told the West Mr Wilson’s comments were “both insulting and insidious and should have no role in our national debate”.

The “Swiss cheese” line was a throwaway; most of the video is about the ordeal of going through check points.

More of this saga  here.

See also  here. There’s also a party line.  Some Labor MPs/senators together with some Greens and independents  were prepared to criticise Israeli treatment of Palestinians (in this case, Palestinian children in Gaza, I think, or maybe the West Bank). Not one Liberal-Coalition MP or senator did so.

Update – see comment 2 below – apparently some coalition parliamentarians did express a view in 2019.