Letter from Australia

As some members here might know I quite like cricket. I support Australia – until the ‘Ashes’. Bearsy changed his allegiance to Australia a few years ago – I didn’t, I support England. So it really doesn’t matter who wins – one person in this household will be happy!

A few days ago, one of the News Channels posed the question of what does Australia Cricket do when it faces its Ancient Rival – it sacks the coach!

Yesterday, the ruling Labor Party, about to face an election, sacked the PM. The situations were pretty similar. The Australian Cricket Team seemed set for defeat – the Labor Party appeared to be destined for annihilation. The Polls indicated that the Labor Party could retain more seats if Kevin Rudd, deposed by Julia Gillard and Union factions three years (and three days) ago led the Labor Party.

For some, the restoration of Rudd is simply a matter of redressing an injustice, for others it’s evidence of politicians trying to cling on to power. Some see it as proof that prejudice against women is alive and active in Australia, whilst others are indignant that Rudd refused to be sidelined and silent and has been rewarded for his bad behaviour.

My opinion? I’m sure that all of the above are correct.

Rudd’s restoration to leader of the Labor Party and PM for the next few months will not change how I will vote. Nonetheless, I sincerely hope that his elevation will save a number of Labor seats.

Democracy, in my opinion, is best served by a strong opposition and who ever wins the ‘prize’ of determining what happens in Australia in the next few years should have to justify its actions to a vociferous opposition.

31 thoughts on “Letter from Australia”

  1. So even knitting that kangaroo couldn’t save Gillard. How sad that she felt obliged to do that photo-shoot.

    As regards Australian sport at this time, I’m sorry that Lleyton Hewitt is now out of the men’s singles at Wimbledon, but I’m not sorry that my friend Angela’s little lad Jamie (Delgado) and his partner have put Lleyton and his partner out of the doubles. I expect Bearsy will be pleased Sam Stosur is still in there battling.

  2. As regards the cricket, may the best team win although the Aussies seem to be doing their best to destabilise their team with a few days to go šŸ˜¦

    As regards Julia Gillard, she has been a pretty dreadful PM. Hardly a good advert for women MPs, rather like Horrible Harriet Harmen and the sisters in Blighty. When we visited Oz a couple of years ago, she was forever on the TV, spouting the sort of rubbish that Gordon Brown became famous for. I cannot say that the alternatives look much better, again like the UK.

  3. Maybe all the political testosterone in Oz is being generated by having the Ashes ‘away’ and the Lions visit all in one summer. I’m keeping quiet about Julia’s Welsh provenance. šŸ˜‰

  4. I quite liked Gillard, she appeared to call a spade a spade. Not that I know anything about Australian politics apart from that they have the good sense to keep the marauding immigrants offshore, very sensibly!

    I have been known to knit dragons. I can’t see why everyone is getting quite so hot under the collar over a knitted kangaroo, better than wasting your time playing cricket!

  5. CO: not really. Gillard is a pathological liar. The only “spade being called a spade” moment she had was an internet hoax message which in the past was attributed to Kevin Rudd and John Howard. Perhaps it will soon be attributed to Tony Abbott?

    I, for one, am disgusted by all this. Kevin Rudd was a financial disaster for Australia and an incompetent prime minister. That the Juliar was even worse makes many Labor voters nostalgic for him in a way that many Americans who couldn’t stand Bush have grown to miss him. Labor tossed out in 2010 in order to make themselves less unelectable. Now, 3 years and 3 days later, toss out the Jular and bring Rudd back because he might be less unpalatable to many voters. This is an insult to the intelligence of Australian voters and shows a complete lack of decency on the part of the ALP. They chose the Juliar, they should have at least allowed her to finish the job they elected her to fill and clean up the mess after the election.

  6. CT, thanks for the elucidation. I must admit the Antipodes are a pretty closed book being totally disinterested in them! Never quite understood myself as to why the are was of so little interest.
    It was the one region that was mandatory in my A level. My teacher had actually been there and taken thousands of slides. I used to show them to myself in the geography prep room at lunchtime and was left with the indelible impression of a horrid dry ugly country beset by tin roofs, beer cans and peasants! Several of my family have been there and from reports never saw fit to change my mind. i expect it has improved over time, it could hardly have done otherwise but too late for me to gather any interest.
    Bo’s reports on the food available there are enough to give me the horrors.
    Each to his own, wouldn’t do for all of us to want to be in the same spot.

  7. CO: I wouldn’t care so much if the Juliar actually deserved credit for saying or doing anything of use, which she doesn’t.

    Different people have different tastes. Your view of Australia is rather higher than my view of the USA outside of California and Hawai’i. Dull, over-rated, uninspiring, over-priced, low-quality and over-priced food, and beset by an unfortunately high percentage of people who think that they’re the best things on earth. I can’t help but laugh at the number of people who consider my holiday plans in East Asia to be a waste of time but would not for a minute doubt the virtues of spending a month in rural Mississippi studying the proper preparation of skunk, raccoon, and possum. The more of the country I see, the less interest I have in it. Rather too late to change that.
    I will probably go to Australia on holiday in 2015, however.

  8. Christopher – I have to take exception to your comment that Rudd was a financial disaster. Sure he spent the surplus that the previous government had built up – but that kept us out of the recession. It kept people employed and paying taxes – rather than sitting around on the dole.

    Certainly the Labor government since then has done what all Socialist Governments do – spend, spend, spend. But the initial decision not to go down the road of cuts was a good one.

    Julia promised No Carbon Tax – and we got one. She might well have thought she’d get away with it – Howard promised ‘NO GST’ and instantly set it in place.

    All politicians lie about what they will and won’t do. Howard was particularly good at that… His excuse was that some of his pre-election promises were ‘core promises’ and others were not – but he certainly didn’t set out which was which before he was elected.

    Julia didn’t get away with it – many people were quite disgusted at the way Rudd was just dumped over night. At least the explanation for this latest move were written loud and clear before the event and not done secretly with the explanations (excuses) coming later.

    This is no insult to the intelligence of Australian voters – especially to those who wanted to vote Labor – but not for Gillard. The Polls here have shown, week after week, that the voters wanted Rudd back. They have shown quite clearly that with Gillard leading the Party into an election the Labour Party would lose so many seats that they would virtually be written off. The last election in Queensland left Labor with too few seats to warrant public funding.

    This is the action of a Party that has given way to public sentiment – a desperate action true, and almost certainly out of fear that most will lose their seats – but nonetheless it is not an entirely cynical move. A political Party, by definition, is there to play a role in Government and if they do not retain sufficient seats to play that role they are working against their own interests. It would be akin to expecting a business to bankrupt itself on a principle to expect a political party not to attempt to salvage what it can by whatever means it can.

    Unfortunately, Christina, once Julia took office she appeared to be reading from a script – and one written by the Unions who have a strangle-hold on the Labor Party. And as for the marauding immigrants, I fear you are mistaken – the boats are arriving ever more frequently under the relaxation of the Liberal Party’s immigration policies.

    I, too, wondered at the fuss over the knitting – it was a foolish publicity stunt. But, I was not happy when it was suggested that ‘feminists’ do not knit or sew. But then I’ve never claimed to be a ‘feminist’ – only a woman who knows that she’s every bit as good (or even better šŸ™‚ ) than any man and does what she wants without having a label!

  9. I’m afraid the non-Aussie media are probably responsible for my lack of understanding of local ‘mores’. Caricatures obviously appeal to them more than reportage. However, the IRB deem it necessary to doubt the Horwill ‘not guilty’verdict which suggests they doubt the its objectivity.

  10. Boadicea: after being asked to by an Australian friend I reviewed the New South Wales and Federal budgets in order to see how much waste was in each one. Even under Rudd the increase in discretionary spending, additional funding for redundant programmes, and bureaucratic waste increased. All countries, no matter how economically healthy, would be well-served by well-executed spending cuts. Rather, many governments — especially on the left — ensure that spending cuts (if they are cuts at all, not a decrease in the growth of expenditure as has been the case in the USA this year and the UK under the coalition’s plans) are done as painlessly as possible seek to cut those programmes and services that will make the amount of pain felt by the electorate as severe as possible in order to make cuts as unpalatable as possible.

    The dark suits of the ALP took Rudd out in 2010, then they put him back in in 2013. This is not about principle or even responding to voter demand, but saving at least a few of their skins. It sounds too much like the 2003 California recall election in which the Democrats, knowing that Gray Davis was finished, found another politician to stand so that “Democrats who wanted to recall Davis and have a strong candidate to vote for would”. That is, to make the party’s losses as limited as possible. It did not help and Bustamante was seen as a traitor and back-stabber since.

    That is not to say that I think the Liberals are perfect, either. Howard’s “core promises” bit was rather much.

  11. It appears that all the political leaders of nearly every western style democracy do their damnedest to wreck their countries. What with waste of public money, untrammelled immigration, excessive third world aid and ludicrous welfare policies they all appear to have a death wish for their own populations!

    Govts world wide tend to expand to micro manage populations lives. They need to back off out of everyday existence. Govts need to retract the nanny state and the associated costs. Look at the UK with its obsessions over hate crimes, health and safety and other total trivia.

    It is a sad reflection that the only way to correct it all is apparently for right wing nationalist parties to get elected as an over-reaction and then have a war to straighten out the finances. There seems to be an eerie similarity these days to the thirties. A sad reflection on the state of humanity. Obviously we never learn, or at least our politicians certainly don’t!

    CT It is a never ending source of wonder that American restaurants serve such poor food when the raw ingredients are so fresh and good quality! Answer being, cook yourself!
    I have had the most marvellous fresh wild sockeye salmon for only $5.99/lb (4.sterling/lb) Utterly magnificent fish.

    Bo, feminists do not knit! What kind of lives do these people live that they can exude such total drivel? (rhetoric, don’t answer!!!) I totally fail to comprehend that anyone can attribute any skill or craft to one specific sex or philosophical bent. I have known several very successful men that embroidered for a hobby!
    And why not?

  12. Hello, Boadicea.

    I have been keeping up with this of course, but I cannot pretend to understand either the politics or the cricket!

    Good to see you anyway. Hope you are Bearsy are well.

  13. Christopher – of course it’s about saving their skins! But, I would argue that they needed to save their skins – an opposition without any parliamentary seats is not healthy for democracy! I couldn’t agree more about well executed spending cuts – and I know exactly where I’d start them… but no one listens to me. šŸ™‚

    Christina – you might like the latest tale of the ‘nanny state’ and ‘unexpected consequences’. Within the last few years all hot water systems have to be regulated so that one cannot get hot water over 50 C. I tried to get a plumber to sort out our hot water when we moved here last year. ‘It’s LAW’, he stated “In case young children and er-um frail elderly people hurt themselves’.

    We recently had an outbreak of Legionnaires in a hospital – sadly a couple of people died. It has been determined that it was due to the hot water system not being hot enough – there are, apparently, another 17 hospitals battling with the same problem.

    Morning Araminta! I guessed you and Bilby would be following the situation. It was quite riveting stuff – well for those of us who bother to follow politics.

  14. Boadicea: I understand your point well and support it in most instances. In this case, I would make the counter-argument that the ALP needs its ranks cleansed and needs to receive a thorough bashing in the election in order to make the point clear. The wonderful thing about Australian politics is that parliaments only last 3 years which makes it difficult to try to get away with the political equivalent of murder.

  15. CO: In general I’ve found most raw ingredients in the US to be of low quality as well. Whenever back in Europe the quality of food is much better. I don’t go to restaurants often, too expensive. It doesn’t seem to matter what I do, though. The same recipe never tastes the same in the US. In California it’s not as good but still decent, in Minnesota it is dreadful.

  16. CT i guess Minnesota has to import so much food, not a producing state. Here we are exceptionally lucky, a wonderful European style climate that produces the freshest and local. Currently picking strawberries, raspberries, cherries and red currants. Can’t beat it. Pick your own non spray strawberries $1.45/lb (95p)
    The rest out of the garden.
    What about trying some of the farmers markets?

    Bo, you couldn’t make up the hot water scenario could you? Don’t your water systems have a dial on the front of them to set the temp? Have you tried bribing the electrician?
    I am a great believer in bribery. When I wanted to bury the boy I swanned into the Deanery at St David’s Cathedral, found myself an appropriate vicar, asked the price. Said I wouldn’t get out of bed for that! Wrote a cheque for double plus, waved it under her nose and said that of course I wanted the James VI version, none of your modern crap! The answer was roughly that I could have a Buddhist service or words to that effect, bloody funny but I kept a straight face. You can generally get exactly what you want with the right ‘grease’! i don’t do other peoples rules! There are always ways round everything.

  17. Christopher – part of Rudd’s original problem was that he tried to beat the Union stranglehold on the Labor Party.I agree the whole Party needs cleansing out. I agree a three year term is quite long enough – doesn’t let the b*ds get too comfortable on their seats!

    Christina! This is Oz! Dials on the water systems … whatever next! I suppose I could have bribed the plumber – but it seemed like a fairly major job to remove the controller. Incidentally, we were also disappointed with the water pressure. We knew enough by then to know that all the taps have (by LAW) inhibitors to restrict the flow – well they went pretty darn quickly…

    When we got the garden reticulation system in the guy doing it went off to the mains – and sure enough that had been turned low as well… we no longer have a problem with the water pressure.

  18. CO: in Minnesota that is precisely the problem. One might suppose gratitude for the smallest of miracles is in order. Until about a decade ago or so fresh fruit and vegetables were difficult to find. Things are better in California. The fruits and vegetables are decent and the farmers markets easy enough to find. When I am in the San Joaquin or Sacramento Valleys I stop at farm stands and buy things there.

  19. Bo, as a matter of curiosity who had set the inhibitors and the mains to low pressure? The previous owner or the water board (powers that be, whatever)
    Presume you pay by the cubic metre for water with a gauge on the mains??
    Is there a semi permanent water shortage where you are?
    It all seems terribly prescriptive there. Not long ago, 5 years or so I put in a new boiler at the house in Wales, the no tank variety, hot water came straight off the the boiler on demand. There was a dial right there on the front set to the water to degrees C. you just dialed what you wanted. As there is on our immersion out in the garage here.

  20. Christina

    The house is only about five years old and the building regulations at that time required that the builders put in the inhibitors and the regulators for the temperature. They were also required to build water tanks. I suspect that there was also some sort of requirement to lower the mains pressure – since at that time there was a severe drought and stringent water restrictions. People were encouraged to take an egg timer into their showers to limit their use of water… no we didn’t!

    There is a surplus of water at the moment! The water restrictions were removed some time ago – and the present Queensland government has lifted the requirement to build water tanks in new houses. I must own to liking the tank – it certainly saves us on the water bills since it feeds all the toilets and the laundry.

  21. When we lived in Pennsylvania, I regularly used the Amish Farmers’ Market for good quality fresh food. Are there no Amish in Minnesota, Christopher?

  22. Sheona: no, not really. There is also no regular farmer’s market. They say there is somewhere in St Cloud but I have never been able to find it. Minneapolis has better food, but for produce in the USA California and Hawai’i have by far the best food — especially California as the soil is fertile and the weather excellent.

  23. Interesting Bo, not quite so daft if, as you say, at the time there was a deficiency of water. Makes what was available go further.
    One more question, the water tank, does this fill free from rainfall on the roof?
    We are on our own well here so the actual water is free. We have been very surprised at the water bills for our house in town, (The one we bought and didn’t move into!) The water company for some obscure reason will not bill the tenants only the owners, so the agent looks after it but we see the bills on the statement. Two adults live there, one small dog and a tiny garden and the bills are $80 ish /month, extortionate since they have no dams to maintain and only take it out of the river! Plus it rains all the time here!!!
    How do yours compare to that?
    I don’t know why, but I am always fascinated by what is cheap and what is expensive in differing locations.
    We had to put a new pump and pressure tank in on the well last autumn, $3000! So wells aren’t exactly free either!!!

  24. Christina

    The tank is, indeed, filled ‘free’ from rainfall from the roof. There was some talk a while back for charging people for using ‘bore’ water.

    Our tank holds about 5000 litres and stands next to the house – just outside the laundry. It feeds the cold water tap in the laundry, an external tap (almost next to it) and the four (yes – four!) toilets in the house. We are quite amazed at how much water even a short shower provides. When the tank runs dry, which it has done several times since we’ve been here, the normal mains supply kicks in.

    Neither Bearsy or I are quite certain how much our ‘normal’ water bills are – since they have only recently been separated from council rates, but we reckon about $200 per quarter.

    I think that, here. the owner, rather than the tenant, is liable for rates and water bills. I’ve never understood why – after all owners are not liable for the tenant’s gas, electricity or telephone bills.

  25. So dearer than here considering some of your water is free!
    I must say America seems to be cheaper than everywhere! Definitely cheaper than Canada and the UK and seemingly cheaper than you too.
    Of course here it is the medicine that costs a fortune, even with insurance once ends up paying 10% yourself. Monthly premiums for the two of us as retirees of a big company are still $500/month.
    Always very interesting.
    thanks.

  26. We pay about 5.3 kroner/65 pence per cubic metre for water including waste services but in the last village it was as high as Ā£1! Luckily here we also have a well which provides for the garden and other outdoor usage – gratis apart from power to the pump.

  27. In Cape Town, there is a sliding scale of charges which ensures that the less well off get 6 kilolitres (6 cubic metres) of water free while the larger consumers pay more.

    ZAR10 = roughly US$1

    From To Rand per kl Incl VAT
    > 0.0 6.0 R 0.00 R 0.00
    > 6.0 10.5 R 5.83 R 6.65
    > 10.5 20.0 R 10.60 R 12.08
    > 20.0 35.0 R 15.70 R 17.90
    > 35.0 50.0 R 19.40 R 22.12
    > 50.0 R 25.58 R 29.16

    So for big consumers, the top band is US$3 per kl.

    Sewerage is not metered, but is charged at 70% of water consumption. This clearly benefits those who have boreholes.

    Cape Town does suffer periods of water shortage, but nothing like the scale of Australia.

  28. Janus, should you ever have to replace your pump don’t, I repeat don’t ever buy a Chinese one! They are notorious for running 6 months and seizing up! Pay double and buy a European or US made. (Not that we made such a mistake but their reputation is zilch!

    sipu, that sounds a reasonable scheme for the country.

    We don’t get sewerage charges out here in the sticks, no sewers! All septic tanks which we try to keep in good order, a new one these days is exceptionally expensive. Plus tears up the garden good and proper, just been watching a replacement next door! Ouch!

  29. An amusing story re water and the Welsh.

    Firstly, in rural Wales there is no LEGAL obligation to take mains water on a farm unless you have a dairy farm or an infant in the house. Dairy farms must carry mains water in their dairy but not necessarily the house.

    A farming mate of mine came home one day and found a gang of men digging a pit just inside his gate. When asked what the hell they were doing they announced that they were putting in the chamber for mains water. (This was nearly a quarter of a mile from the actual farmstead!) When told that this was neither wanted nor requested, supply was by private well and told to stop, the men said that he HAD to have it and the water company were going ahead.
    This went on for several days, all the gubbins and meters were installed, they never actually got to the point of installing pipes. Now this guy knew the law, he had neither a dairy farm or infant. The company would not desist despite several phone calls. Now then, lawyers are an expensive sport. Rather than put money in their pockets he preferred to call the ready mix boys. A small order of concrete was duly ordered and delivered and the chamber filled, entombing the water company’s equipment!
    Great consternation! The water company went ape! Lawyers letters flew, (I wrote the reply, to the effect that they were trespassing, there was no legal requirement and would they kindly remove their illegal property or rent would be charged!
    Deadly silence. No reply, no lawsuit.

    It duly came to light that the Company was trying this on all over the place, trying to foist mains water on all and sundry to improve their profits. It did end up in court and the judge declared them illegal in their practises. The whole thing abruptly died. However, my mate was not a happy bunny, he was never going to be able to get the price of the ready mix out of them but he wanted blood by now!

    Now, part of waste water disposal is run off from the roads. Water companies charge everyone a portion on their bills. However outside urban areas it is convention that farmers allow their fields to act as impromptu soaks. There are cuts through the banks and hedges to allow water to disperse from the road beds into the fields. It has always been done thus, BUT there is no legal obligation for the farmer to provide this facility. So the water companies are charging their customers but are actually getting the disposal of some of the water for free in the country areas. Of course, every self respecting farm in Wales has an earth remover. One day, just driving past I saw Mike vrooming his machine up and down the road carefully filling in all the dykes from both sides of the hedge so that the water had nowhere to run off. Now as he owned all the fields on the downside of a long hill it wasn’t rocket science to work out the effect! (Nearly drove off the road laughing at quite such a creative solution!) Needless to say at the first rainfall the road was turned into a roaring river and (my my) the water board started to get complaints about the unsafe nature of the road. They duly appeared at the farm and told him to unblock the dykes. No, said Mike. No obligation to take your run off, would you like to rent my fields for the job? Went off threatening legal action, nothing happened, as usual. The company ended up having to excavate a proper drain for about a mile at vast expense to accommodate the water.

    It is so nice to see these money grabbing companies hoist by their own petard on occasions! It all provided a great deal of entertainment and undue mirth in the local hostelries! Nowadays that company is a great deal better mannered in its dealings with the rural communities, learnt a few lessons and actually has exemplary customer service!!!!

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