December 22nd 2007

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Articles from this issue:

EDITORIAL: Bali climate conference disconnected from reality

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Liberals not knowing which way to turn

FILM CLASSIFICATION: Porn film case dismissed by Federal Court

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Can Rudd restore an impartial public service?

FOREIGN DEBT: Last chance to avoid becoming a banana republic?

QUARANTINE: AQIS locks stable door after horse flu has bolted

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS: US and Israel differ over Iran nuclear capabilities

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Christmas miscellany / Shopping spree / If the Liberals keep their nerve / One way of spending the surplus / Developing expensive tastes

GENOCIDE: Stalin's Ukrainian famine - the Holodomor

OPINION: Four factors that have shaped the new PM

OPINION: Trojan Horse inside Amnesty International

The abused generation (letter)

John Howard's dignified farewell (letter)

Asbestos cynicism (letter)

Malthusian spectre (letter)

CHRISTMAS POEM: The adoration of the Magi

CINEMA: The Golden Compass - well-crafted fantasy film 'about killing God'

BOOKS: THIRD WAYS: Family-centred economies and why they disappeared, by Allan C. Carlson


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Christmas miscellany / Shopping spree / If the Liberals keep their nerve / One way of spending the surplus / Developing expensive tastes

by Max Teichmann

News Weekly, December 22, 2007
Christmas miscellany

I would like to wish all the readers a happy Christmas and a hopeful New Year. As my 85-year-old sister wrote in her card to me, "We survived another year - well done!!"

I want to thank those very kind people who have prayed for me - an unexpected and touching deed.

Yes, I needed those prayers. Let us see if we can start the New Year with a bang!


Shopping spree

This Christmas promises to be the greatest paroxysm of impulse buying and the running-up of even more consumer debt than we have yet seen, if the advertising industry and the media have anything to do with it.

And has this anything to do with Christmas, and the spirit of Christmas? Yes. It is directly opposed to, even subversive of, the spirit of Christmas.

What with the clouds on the world's economic horizons, and the building up here of inflationary pressures, I suspect that next year's spirit of Christmas may be a different, even a chastened, affair.

Mr Rudd has just said at the recent Bali climate-change conference: "Climate change is going to be the principle concern of his government, clearly." Clearly?


If the Liberals keep their nerve

I had suggested that this wouldn't be a bad election to lose, provided you didn't lose your trousers as well.

I don't think the Federal Coalition did, though they are in a position of great danger - but, if they stick together at this vital moment, of some opportunity.

However, the state Liberal parties, barring a few exceptions, seem in a condition of perhaps irremediable decadence. How long our federal Liberal Party can sustain itself is difficult to say.

One reason why the Labor Party doesn't collapse under such circumstances is that it's part of a movement - i.e., unions (nowadays public service unions), which don't go away, but which supply money and election-workers, etc., while student unions were a great milch-cow in the past.

The Liberals have none of this. In fact, they are not a movement, so, in adversity, they are in far greater danger of collapse.

But if the conservatives keep their nerve and don't split and fight, things could be interesting in six months' time, for more and more Labor followers and job-seekers are starting to talk like members of the Stasi.

Rudd will want a double dissolution, as did Hawke after his initial victory; so the conservatives are going to have to watch their step.

But, these are very early days indeed.


One way of spending the surplus

A young friend of mine is taking up a post in the Commonwealth public service in the New Year.

His boss-to-be has e-mailed him, welcoming him on board, and advising him to get there early to secure some suitable accommodation.

For next year 2,000 new public servants will be coming to Canberra.

Oh, welcome back to the old centralising nanny state of the Labor era! It's one way of spending the surplus.

But how many new recruits will be going to the Department of Small Business, whose minister is not even in the Cabinet?


Developing expensive tastes

I really don't know the whys and wherefores of Richard Pratt and his business dealings, but he seems to be getting singled out for special treatment - or is it ill treatment? - by The Australian.

Not only his business dealings, but his private life, has been attacked three times in recent years.

Why the special attention? The private lives of many of our tycoons, not to mention media-hacks, large and small, are equally colourful, if that is the word - in fact, are far more colourful.

Certainly, the price-fixing arrangements, along with their widespread ramifications, are undoubtedly pernicious.

But here again, how many of these cartels and price-fixing rings are operating in Australia at this moment?

What, for example, would one say about the oil companies, and the energy companies?

Meanwhile, poor Bill Shorten may be regretting his erstwhile close connections with Mr Pratt (see Straws in the Wind, News Weekly, June 10, 2006).

As for my old football club Carlton, now that they have developed such expensive tastes in presidents (e.g., John Elliott and Richard Pratt), have they considered next time putting the finger on Silvio Berlusconi?

- Max Teichmann

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