Gillard finds Offence, as do Voters

Two days in a row in Federal Parliament the Prime Minister was asked questions by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Julie Bishop, on her involvement in the AWU scandal.

Her stock answer was that “she has dealt with them before” and then after further questioning says that “the Leader of the Opposition’s strategy is offensive.” Once again we have the Prime Minister not answering qustions on this matter and blaming Tony Abbott, and trying to take the moral high ground.

It has been a bad week for Gillard and the Labor Party with former ALP politican Maxine McKew, in her book disputing Gillard’s version of the sacking of a sitting Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, the ALP faceless men of the right knocking off Finance Minister Penny Wong to the number two spot on the South Australian Senate paper, and then embarrassingly reinstating her to the number one spot. Then we have  Chief Whip and former Cabinet Minister Joel Fitzgibbon calling for the renewable energy target to be cut, in the process infuriating the Greens.

Former ALP President, Michael Williamson has been charged with 28 new offences, including cheating and defrauding the HSU and dealing with the proceeds of crime. NSW Police expect that more people will be charged, including former staff of the now dismantled HSU East.

Left faction leader Doug Cameron says he felt “ambushed” by Gillard in caucus today after the leaking of a committee report on foreign workers.

It is also reported that Labor’s border protection regime will hit taxpayers for nearly $1.7 billion this year.

The Asian Century white paper has gone down like a lead balloon, as it should with benchmarks set for 2025 without any implementation plan or strategy announced. As a minimum the new agenda is set to cost $100 million a year but the government has provided no costs.

Then we have the NBN receiving $4.7 billion this financial year, with a further $6.1 billion in the next financial year, all off budget. That is because it is a commercial entity that will generate returns and allow the government to get their investment back. Pigs might fly.

It has been reported that the divisive Mining Tax did not raise any revenue in the first 3 months, but as late as May Treasury was forecasting that $5.3 billion would be raised over 4 years. And of course, business was going to be the winner with tax breaks and incentives worth $6 billion on offer, but now they have been cut.

Finally, no one in the Government wants to talk about the return to surplus. Gillard refuses to repeat her surplus promise and shifts responsibility to the Treasurer, Wayne Swan. Another broken committment.

I will leave you with a piece in “The Spectator Australia” authored by James Allan, Garrick Professor of Law at the University of Queensland:

“And of course we have a stifling political correctness that comes from the likes of our Prime Minister standing up and playing the victim, and thereby trying to take humour and criticism off the table. Can you imagine Margaret Thatcher or Angela Merkel or Helen Clark stooping to such pathetic levels? My rule of thumb is that any time a politican tries to play the victim, the voters ought to oblige at the next election.”

More on LA

One thing that you soon notice as you ramble around Los Angeles is that everything is cheap. Not just that our dollar is parity with the US dollar, food, alcohol, petrol, clothes and cars are all tremendous value here.

For example, the latest Fiat is very popular here and costs about US$17,000 but in Australia is about A$42,000 which is the cost we pay for protecting our car industry, which is highly inefficient. Petrol is $1.10 a litre. Go to a restaurant, and most have bars that you can sit at and have a few cold ones and also eat your meal. Beer, imported or local is about $6 and most meals around $12 to $15 and at a good restaurant you pay about $30 for the best steak. You then need to add a tip of 20% if the service is good which most times it is. But if you don’t eat everything, they pack it up for you and when I queried this the waitress said “doesn’t everybody do that, that’s lunch for the next day.” Eighteen months ago when I was last here a waitress was explaining that she earned $8 an hour, and the other day another waitress said that the rate is still $8 but with tips she earns about $25 an hour, and she was very happy with that.

Yesterday I was at a Vons supermarket and across the board prices were cheaper than Australia. In the US most supermarkets sell alcohol and a 750ml bottle of Absolut vodka was $15 and most wine is $12 to $18. Then there is a great range of food, and I bought a pack of 2 hard boiled eggs already peeled, plus there are tins of canned pumpkin!

Clothes are cheap, and I like to buy shirts and shoes as they are extremely good value and the shop assistants just want to help and when they know you are from Australia they just want to talk. I was in an Apple store at Newport Beach buying some adapters and cracked, I do have some humour, that I had to come all the way from Australia to buy these and the salesgirl, a very attractive African American, showed me their business centre that has a view over the ocean, and she insisted that I take some photos. If you are an Apple business user you can book the room and receive one on one training..

Saying all this, my overall impression is that retail in America is suffering as many shops, including on Rodeo Drive are bereft of customers, but like Australia restaurants and bars are doing good business, and the overall opinion from Americans is that the economy is turning for the better.




Los Angeles

As I mentioned in an earlier post I am in Los Angeles this week.

With all the turmoil going on at the City of Fremantle and after digesting the emails I decided that I would post about LA.

Los Angeles area is 1215 square kilometres and 18 million people live there, and I would describe the public transport akin to Perth so if you want to get around you need a car. When you arrive at LAX and eventually get through immigration you walk outside the terminal and wait for a car rental bus. These buses continually do a loop and each hire car company, Avis, Hertz, National etc have their own buses so it is a matter of waiting until yours arrives, getting on and the driver will crack jokes while transporting you to the yard. There you look up your name on a board, locate your car and drive to the exit, hand over your credit card and licence, get a contract and drive out.

First problem, you are sitting on the left and hoping that the first turn is to the right. Second  problem, where do I go. Several years ago I bought a Tom Tom and they are great, just stick it to the windscreen and dial in your destination and go. My destination, in Long Beach was programmed already but after one wrong turn I was back on track and 30 minutes later at my destination. I usually rent from Avis but this time tried Hertz and they had their own GPS which was difficult to use but the car had its own navigation system, which I have been using and found to be excellent.

I have since travelled about 350 miles, including getting caught in peak hour traffic today, so that a 40 minute trip took an hour and a half. Overall American drivers are very courteous and when you are doing 60 to 80 miles per hour on a freeway  and need to indicate, you just go ahead and change lanes. No one tailgates even in peak hour, you can turn right on a red light if it is safe and when driving on suburban streets you notice only a few trucks as they are on the freeways. In suburbia you come to an intersection with stop signs on the four streets, you stop and then go when it is your turn. Works great. The Highway Patrol look after freeways and Police are responsible for the suburban streets. But don’t get caught drink driving, 0.08 here and then a night in the lock up until you get bailed.

LA is such an interesting city with some great beaches and a host of other attractions to see so a car is a necessity, and with navigation systems so good now, it is easy.


Councillor David Hume

Fremantle Inner City Residents Association have written to Fremantle Councillors and the Mayor regarding the removal of the Mound on Esplanade Park. See my post on 22 October.

Councillor David Hume replied to a committee member of FICRA with the following:

“You are wrong.

No trees were killed in the sending of this message, but a large number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.”

When the committee member received this response she rang David Hume and for her efforts got an earful of diatribe and yelling about how he is fed up with people blogging and spreading opinions based on fallacy and inaccuracy and if she was interested in the truth and want facts why don’t she come out on a cold wet night to a Council meeting like he does.

Councillor Hume, you do not deserve to hold any public office and in fact your words and actions reflect badly on the Council. At the very least you should apologise, but a resignation would be more appropriate.

Bloggers like me do not always have the facts, and that is why we welcome comments and I will remind everyone that I still have not had an answer to my post regarding voting or NOT on the Saturday Markets proposal.



US Elections

More on the elections, as not only are voters being asked to vote for President and Vice President there is voting on some Federal seats as well as State, County and City measures so if you live in the City of Long Beach there are 22 items to vote on.

These include the repeal of the Death penalty in the State of California, increasing taxes to fund education and early childhood programs, labeling of genetically engineered foods, prohibiting unions from using payroll deducted funds for political purposes and there is a County measures that asks whether an ordinance be adopted requiring producers of adult films to obtain a County public health permit, to require adult film performers to use condoms while engaged in sex acts, to provide proof of blood borne pathogen training course, to post permit and notices to performers, and making violations of the ordinance subject to civil fines and charges?

So there is a whole range of issues to be voted on come November 6.

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