How the Palmer United Party came out barking

By Scott Prasser

A funny thing happened at the polls in Queensland over the weekend. To great surprise, the two right-of-centre minor parties – Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) and the recently-established Palmer United Party (PUP) – had different levels of electoral success, and not in the way that many pundits had predicted.

While most commentators agreed there would be an overall Coalition win – and there clearly was – many were left red-faced over their prediction that the nascent PUP, led by former LNP member and mining magnate Clive Palmer, would not win any seats.

The view was that the well-known Bob Katter and his KAP – which had a good run in last year’s Queensland election, winning two lower house seats – would perform better than the PUP. Instead, Katter’s own primary vote in his seat of Kennedy in north Queensland plummeted by over 17% as a result of a strong campaign by the LNP. He will just hold on.

Elsewhere, KAP failed to attract much support, receiving just 3.6% of the total primary vote in Queensland. Importantly, the expected win by KAP of the sixth Queensland Senate position also failed, despite a preference deal with Labor.

By contrast, PUP received 11.33% of the overall primary vote in Queensland and outpolled KAP across most seats. More importantly, it appears that Palmer himself will win the once fairly safe LNP seat of Fairfax on the Sunshine Coast, which is just 100km north of Brisbane.

Coolum Beach in the federal seat of Fairfax © 2011 IDS photos

Coolum Beach in the federal seat of Fairfax © 2011 IDS photos

Since its establishment in 1984, Fairfax has always been held by one of the two major non-Labor parties – the Nationals from 1984 to 1990 and then the Liberals since. It was expected to stay that way, even with the retirement of long-standing LNP member Alex Somlyay.

Instead, Palmer received 27.5% of the first preference vote and although seemingly far behind LNP candidate Ted O’Brien’s 40.9%, Palmer is now expected to get elected as he is garnering most of the second preferences from the ALP (18.5%), Greens (8.2%), KAP (1.79%) and other minor parties.

In the Senate, KAP’s lead candidate, country and western singer James Blundell, has been beaten for the sixth spot by the PUP candidate, former rugby league player Glenn Lazarus.

Clive Palmer  © 2013 Benjamin J MacDonald

Clive Palmer © 2013 Benjamin J MacDonald

How has this happened? Is there something about Queensland that spawns these sorts of right-wing movements? Is PUP’s success similar to Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party’s surge in the 1990s, that saw her party gain 12 seats in Queensland state parliament at the 1998 election?

There are several explanations.

First, the amalgamation of the Liberal and National parties (LNP) in 2008 has caused concern that regional interests were not being adequately represented. The new LNP was seen by some as being dominated by “city” interests. This has had some impact on the success of KAP, particularly at the 2012 Queensland elections – but more importantly, they outpolled the Labor Party across a large number of regional electorates.

Protest poster showing disaffection for QLD LNP © 2012 Leonard John Matthews

Protest poster showing union contempt for QLD LNP © 2012 Leonard John Matthews

It might also be assumed that the vote received by the PUP – especially in Queensland – included a large proportion of Labor voters disaffected with their party, but also those who found it difficult to vote for the LNP and Tony Abbott. Consequently, they decided to park their vote with PUP, partly in protest, partly in jest and partly in frustration with the existing two party system.

Then there is the issue of funding and resources. PUP, thanks to Palmer, had a lot of resources – far more than KAP. PUP spent big, with an estimated advertising spend of over A$3 million. It has helped to create a high profile for a very new political player.

Finally, there is the matter of personalities. In these days of increasingly identikit candidates and lookalike political actors from the major parties, PUP with Palmer as their frontman broke the mould. Palmer said what many voters were thinking but might be unwilling to say themselves. And although some of these comments might be seen purely as entertaining by the media and confusing by political analysts, they resonated with enough people in Queensland to translate into votes.

This election suggests that ideological politics is declining along with party loyalty, and that an increasing part of the electorate is attracted to personalities as distinct from partisan loyalties. Joh Bjelke-Petersen had that personal appeal when he was Premier of Queensland, at one stage attracting considerable support from blue-collar and traditional Labor voters because of his strong leadership style and simplistic solutions to complex issues.

QLD Premier, Joh Bjelke- Petersen & Roy Deicke, Carina Speedway © 1981 srv007

QLD Premier, Joh Bjelke- Petersen & Roy Deicke, Carina Speedway © 1981 srv007

The election of Palmer to the House of Representatives will make for an interesting dynamic. Even more interesting will be how the possible election of a PUP senator from Queensland (and probably also in Tasmania), along with an odd mix of minor party senators, is going to create a new dynamic in federal politics. It might test the skills of the new Abbott government in unexpected ways.

Scott Prasser does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

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Budget: Gov’t takes a punt on rubbery forward estimates, while ignoring tax reform agenda

By Graeme Wines, Deakin University

When assessing some of the assumptions underpinning Wayne Swan’s 2013 federal budget, two things spring to mind: the Henry Tax Review and the notorious inaccuracy of forward estimates.

History shows it might be foolhardy to rely on the accuracy of forward estimates. And meanwhile, the repercussions of failing to undertake structural economic reform by amending our taxation system will continue to weigh on our economic fortunes.

So what is the link between the Henry Review and the forward estimates? One was timely but ignored; the other has time against it.

Henry Tax Review

Despite Treasurer Wayne Swan’s earlier promise to return to surplus for the 2012-13 year, a deficit of A$19.4 billion has now been announced. As such, this year’s budget represents an absolutely critical one for Australia as it makes especially visible the underlying structural deficit that has faced Australia now for many years.

In the five years to 30 June this year, Australia will have had budget deficits totalling in excess of A$190 billion. Moreover, the less-than-expected receipts from the mining and carbon taxes and increased spending on, for example, the National Disability Insurance Scheme and the Gonski education reforms will have future budgetary impacts. The current budget therefore highlights the need to examine decisions made to address the underlying structural deficit.

The Henry Tax Review’s 138 recommendations effectively represent a blueprint to guide reform. Given Australia’s current budgetary position, it would seem timely to examine budget measures in the context of the review’s recommendations. However, the government has chosen — to a very large extent — to ignore the report.

Given the effort and cost that went into the report’s preparation, it seems logical for the government to provide a comprehensive statement on whether the review’s recommendations will be seriously considered and how its recommendations will be implemented.

The current version of the mining tax serves as a stark example. It was not set up as envisaged by the Henry Review, and its ineffectiveness in raising tax revenue has now become obvious.

English: Wayne Swan, Treasurer of Australia So...

English: Wayne Swan, Treasurer of Australia Source commons:category:Politics of Australia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Accuracy of forward estimates

For many years now, the Commonwealth budgets have included estimates for the ensuing financial year and for three further forward estimate years. Given that a budget surplus was not delivered for 2012-13 as originally promised, and given the revised commitment to return the budget to balance in 2015-16 and surplus in 2016-17, it is worth examining the accuracy of forward estimates provided in budgets.

The latest year for which we have an actual budget outcome figure is the 2011-12 financial year. If we examine the budget released in May 2008, the forward estimate was for an A$18.9 billion surplus for 2011-12.

A year later, in May 2009, the forward estimate for the 2011-12 year had turned around by the not inconsiderable amount of A$63.4 billion to become a A$44.5 billion deficit. This was then revised to a lower deficit of A$13 billion in the May 2010 budget, followed by a revision to an increased deficit of A$22.6 billion in the May 2011 budget. The actual outcome, released in September 2012, was a deficit of almost A$44 billion.

Another example from last night’s budget is the estimate that the budget deficit for 2012-13 is now expected to amount to A$19.4 billion. The earliest budget that contained a forward estimate for 2012-13 was released in May 2010, where the estimate was for a surplus of A$5.4 billion. This therefore represents a forecast error of some A$25 billion.

The surplus was revised down to A$1.5 billion in last year’s budget, and a forecast error of over A$20 billion has arisen over the space of one year.

These examples point to the notorious unreliability of forward estimate figures — not just for estimates four years into the future, but also for periods as short as one year.

It is interesting to note the government has included certain significant projections in the budget for a ten-year period. A chart in the budget papers presents “long-term savings”, totalling A$121 billion for the ten-year period through to 2023-24.

Federal Budget 2013-14

Another chart presents projections for the level of net government debt through to 2023-24, showing the paying down of net debt to nil over that period.

Federal Budget 2013-14

Given the past unreliability of four-year forward estimates, one wonders how forward estimates for a ten-year period can be taken seriously — especially given the forthcoming September election and at least three further elections within that timeframe.

Graeme Wines does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

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How NOT to write an opinion piece

Geoffrey Barker is a retired journalist, published author and fellow at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra. Barker’s specialty is defence studies.

For those living under a rock, Mr Barker penned an opinion piece this week for Fairfax which many consider to be full of blatant stereotypes about women journalists. Readers, please take two minutes to read that article which has been condemned as click-bait.

In order to attract attention, opinion pieces like those are usually designed to be controversial and confrontational. Invariably there will be segments of the audience that will disagree or walk away deeply offended. It’s not easy to write such a piece and anonymous commentators can be vicious in their reaction.

Whilst doing hard labour as a journalism undergraduate, this blogger observed that journalism courses are often full of what may be considered physically attractive young women. In many instances, the bulk of the candidates for the qualifications are women. It’s naive to assume that looks do not play a role in obtaining on-camera roles.

But by Mr Barker’s logic, physical attractiveness and intellect (&/or skill) are mutually exclusive. Mr Barker offers no evidence to support his theory. Unfortunately, his article comes across as sham elitist. The inference is that any idiot with a pretty face (&/or other visible assets) can successfully climb the ranks of television journalism. Remember that journalism is a profession in ruinous decline – ensuring the competition for employment is fiercer than ever.

Sexist © 2013 Outtacontext

One of those offended by Mr Barker’s remarks was Ten Late News journalist Hermione Kitson (featured in the unrelated video below) who must be a vacuous dill, according to Mr Barker’s theory. How does one come to this conclusion? Ms Kitson was:

  • a Media/Communications undergrad (Sydney University);
  • selected for an ABC internship &
  • ranked #70 on Maxim Australia’s Hot 100 list (2012).

Damnit, she almost passed Mr Barker’s test to qualify as a serious journalist. Her institution is relevant since Mr Barker takes issue with graduates from ‘undistinguished universities’ and even worse ‘media studies’ graduates with mere ‘diplomas’. One can only imagine what Mr Barker thinks of those who took cadet-ships straight out of high school!

High calbre journalism alumni (including Denton) have been emanating from Bathurst’s Charles Sturt University, one of the new (non-standstone) breeds of progressive regional institution for decades.

Sadly being beautiful precludes the occurrence of intelligence or skill in the journalist. Mr ‘progressive’ Barker makes life much simpler. What a national treasure.

Female journalists (from both public and commercial networks) across the country have savagely vented their disgust on fora such as Twitter. Many websites and newspapers have attempted to debunk Mr Barker’s flawed logic. But here is one of the best; because laughing at this nonsense is perhaps the best strategy in deciphering its message:

…Even if you’re feeling generous this morning, you can’t deny that what [Mr Barker] pulled out of his butt instead was one of the most demeaning, belittling, misogynistic pieces of crap that’s ever been printed in a major newspaper.

In closing, let’s provide Mr Barker with an opportunity to have the last word:

Somebody needs to explain to [these young women] that the world is not created anew every day, that there is little that is new under the sun, and that restraint and curiosity can be useful journalistic tools. They might also be directed to ABC and SBS TV where they can find role models whose outstanding work shows how the job should be done.

Oh no, there is a problem. The hotties have infected the beloved ABC too, Mr Barker. And that can only mean one thing, inherent stupidity. Of course!

Believe or not, Mr Barker is capable of composing sensible prose on public policy as a columnist for the Australian Financial Review.

This is a revised version of the article originally written on Thursday May 2nd, in both composition and links.

Thompson distances himself from Smooth FM

This satirical article originally appeared on the now-defunct dbrmuz blog.

Here at the Institute of the Brain Dead, our peer-reviewed research and focus groups have determined that the highest rating commercial stations in the capital cities across Australia’s eastern seaboard are abominably superficial and bland. We also have reservations about the accuracy of the radio ratings system itself.

DMG Radio could have come up with something as good as Mix 94.5 when the network yesterday launched Smooth after much anticipation. Mix 94.5 is not only the most popular station in Perth, the Music Director of Mix actually programmes good music! Unfortunately, we know DMG Radio actually have some talented employees because they previously brewed good Koffee, so the expectations here at Brain Dead were quite high. Smooth simultaneously launched in the key Australian radio markets of Hobart and Darwin under the stewardship of Music Director Craig Thompson.

In a move unanticipated by commercial radio executives, Craig Thompson (pictured) held an emotional press conference distancing himself from what media analysts see as the impending failure of Smooth FM which had only launched at 7 am earlier in the day. At the conference, Craig professed his innocence at allegations that he was responsible for the new format. He blamed union officials for ‘doctoring the playlist’. Key union individuals, including union secretary Jackie Ho broke into DMG studios in the early hours and hacked the playlist according to Craig. Ho and other officials dismissed Craig’s allegations as ‘fanciful’.

Craig Thompson dumps his load at the Smooth press conference (Fairfax Media)

Toys part two

This article originally appeared on the now-defunct dbrmuz blog.

It was Sabrina that sung about ‘Toys, toys, toys’ in the eighties. OK, I lie. A reinvention of history. Perhaps if she had, the song might have been better. Sabrina’s back catalogue was more offensive than any content referred to in this blog. Funnier too!

The Kenwood KX-3080 cassette deck is on its way. At $87 (postage included), it is an absolute bargain from Ebay Australia.


It easily out-performs the Panasonic combination system which it will replace. That combo system has a frequency response of 40 Hz – 12,000 Hz (plus or minus 3 decibels, normal tape). The dual decks in the Panasonic have no Dolby, a signal to noise ratio of 52 decibels with wow & flutter at 0.1 % (WRMS).

The specifications of the Kenwood KX-3080 are identical to the Yamaha KX-380 single well cassette deck, described previously on this blog here and here.

This label is a slight concern, but ‘we shall see’ I suppose. For those who may not watch the news, the Chinese are those humorless ‘red raggers’ who were assisting in the construction of our National Broadband Network until ASIO stopped them. Perhaps this deck will only play communist propaganda spoken word recordings?

This is a single-well deck. Some enthusiasts vigorously argue that single-well decks are superior to dual-well decks due to mechanical issues. That statement seems like an oversimplification, or if you prefer, what Liberal National Party Senator ‘Barnacle’ Joyce describes as a ‘rational argument supported by facts’ in his inimitable coherent style of speech.

$87 for a 1997-vintage deck with a warranty? I think I robbed the guy. He included both Bob Katter & Anna Bligh as part of the sale, citing a bundled package deal of ‘obsolete technology’.

Supplies of metho & cotton buds are on hand if she is a dirty one. Here in the dbrmuz coffee room (below) we have plenty of metho available. Aged spirits are overrated, and frankly time consuming to distill. Metho is an affordable beverage that you can share amongst your family. Tip: simply infuse with a bottle of vanilla essence for the ultimate party drink.  

The above photographs are courtesy of these Hungarian sites (translated into English): 

Laura Hall

This article originally appeared on the now-defunct dbrmuz blog.

According to the Guardian:

The 21-year-old is Britain’s most notorious drunk – the only person in the country with an order banning her from all pubs, clubs and off-licences. She is the poster girl for Booze Britain. Newspapers have revelled in the stories of her 40-plus arrests, her numerous assaults on police officers, her two prison sentences, the number of pints and vodka shots that will see her through a night out. 

A film maker documented Laura’s rehabilitation attempt and highlighted her six year stretch of binge alcohol consumption. The BBC doco aired on Wednesday night on ABC2.

Is DXing a hobby only for the rich?

Since this was originally published, G1VVP has now freshened his perspective in Elitism in the Hobby which offers a comprehensive narrative on this topic. His original opinion piece inspired an entry of this blogger’s own. Further thoughts about the exclusivity prevalent in particular sports & hobbies have followed over the years; this piece originally from 2011 has been revised in December 2013 to reflect that progression. Please see also: Elitism in DXing: a succinct treatise

Stop ‘Helping’ Already is a 2014 narrative published by Todd Dugdale, KD0TLS. In this piece, Todd offers a brilliant insight into ‘mentoring’ practices. He also discusses what could be classified as exclusive marketing techniques, that is the apparent need to spent heaps of money just to try fit in. His refreshingly candid perspective offers broad applicability to all radio-based hobbies, not just amateur radio! 

Controversy keeps us alive. Tonight, we consider this question…

Is DXing a hobby only for the rich?

What distinguishes a ‘dabbler’ from an enthusiast? Is there a place for such elitism in a hobby which is declining in popularity for the X & Y generations? Take this example, and the hundreds worldwide that likely accompany it:

One young hard-core American enthusiast has yielded over 1,600 FM logs (that is, loggings of distant FM radio stations) using a combined VHF/UHF antenna and a rotator.

Does this mean his logs are NOT considered DXing because the antenna used is a combined VHF/UHF antenna, rather than an FM-specific antenna, like the APS 13 element antenna? Some enthusiasts cannot afford a rotator, nor specific antennas for VHF, FM and UHF. Notice the worldwide recession anyone?

 Do we live for controversy? © 2006 Luke Dorny

There is a very small minority of British enthusiasts who frequent hard-core DX forums insinuating that every modern day enthusiast is a fool. Perhaps this is NOT their intention; some enthusiasts may just be inarticulate when they express themselves. Everyone knows how easily written communication can be misinterpreted, and use of telephone and face-to-face communication are less problematic.

However, this blogger and numerous others tend to arrive at that conclusion time and time again. These enthusiasts are world renowned TV DXers. To fail to consider what they are saying would be like putting your head in the sand.

I think the word “DXer” is a bit too grand describe DXing with an aerial intended for totally the wrong frequency…One might as well use a telescopic aerial and be done with it. Possibly “Dabbler” is a better word than “DXer” with this sort of DXing setup. In days of old, one put an antenna up to cover the band required with a rotator if one wanted to DX weak signals properly from all directions.

But are opinions, such as the above quote, accurate? Are the ‘dabblers’ genuinely foolish with the equipment they choose to use? I would argue people are restricted in the hobby. Any hobby. Wouldn’t every renter put up a large antenna if their body corporate allowed them to?

Learning potential

What if someone wanted to venture into the wonderful world of FM DX but couldn’t even afford an indoor antenna?  Remember, this is a hobby that potentially teaches its enthusiasts about:

  • geography,
  • meteorology,
  • propagation,
  • radio markets,
  • overseas languages, current affairs & custom,
  • social networking with peers throughout the world,
  • radio electronics,
  • home maintenance techniques &
  • antenna theory.

…to name just a few of the learning outcomes enthusiasts might look forward to by pursuing DX!

Additional perspectives

Paul Logan is a relatively young enthusiast from Northern Ireland who is taking a stance against this elitism. Logan is NOT a ‘dabbler’. He is an amateur radio operator and world record holder who is actively promoting the use of portable radios through ‘Ultralight techniques’ to revitalize interest in the hobby. Today, Logan even utilizes the Whisper mode to conduct weak signal amateur radio contacts, a ‘bleeding edge’ digital mode favoured amongst the most progressive amateur radio operators.

When the Ultralight AM listening “craze” took off in 2007 thanks to American radio enthusiast Gary De Bock it was only a matter of time before the scaling back of our pursuit would be extended to the FM band.

Tecsun PL-606 with full length monopole  © 2013 Stephen Airy

G1VVP is a club founder and amateur who achieved transatlantic DX amateur radio contacts in 2010.

I get very angry when people take a ‘holier than thou’ attitude and make sweeping statements, dismissing those whom they feel are beneath them. Perhaps there is a reason: I know that ‘some’ DXers and radio amateurs get very upset if they have been missing out on exotic DX. They have invested large amounts of time and money to improve their setup so they become disillusioned to discover that someone down the road with a bucket and a piece of wet string has been hearing far more than they have with their lattice towers and stacked arrays. That is life!

Much stunning DX has been worked or received over the years on very simple equipment. We even have groups for those interested in ‘QRP’ or ‘Ultralight’ which present more challenges to the DXer. Many of these people go on to achieve ‘as much as’ and sometimes ‘more’ than others with elaborate equipment. Why? It could be because of the skill of the operator or because of dogged patience and a little bit of ‘luck’. While it may not ALL be attributed to luck, it is generally agreed that good fortune plays a significant part from time to time. in getting that exotic DX catch.

Elitism or common sense?

Are you an enthusiast your twenties or thirties? A teenager perhaps? What are you doing to stop the elitism infecting your hobby? Is the elitism just another example of bigotry and intolerance seeping into the social environment?

Perhaps you believe that elitism is good for the hobby? Is it a necessary part of every pursuit? After all, even beer drinkers can be tiresomely elitist, says homebrewer Barley Pop Maker in his hilarious satirical piece. Do you recognize yourself in one of his categories?

Perhaps it is NOT elitist to criticize receiving equipment that fails to meet minimum standards of functionality? For example, if one cannot receive a relative abundance of weak signals throughout the year on a portable receiver (probably one of the goals of a DX-based hobby), then criticism of using that particular method by a peer may NOT necessarily represent an elitist attitude, per se. Instead, it may represent an attempt to assist other enthusiasts into sustainable listening habits to avoid long term frustration. That potential frustration could ultimately result in an enthusiast quitting the DX hobby, which in contemporary times is becoming an increasingly difficult pursuit due to band congestion. Valuable talent is lost.

'Kill your Ego' at Burning Man © 2012 John Eikleberry

On the other hand, let’s be realistic about human nature. Status battles form inherently in pursuits that are NOT rewarded by income, but by achievements alone. Go to any sporting or hobbyist club to see this in action!

Politics within clubs

Problems that may exist in some DX enthusiast clubs tend to mirror the widespread problems with amateur radio clubs. As suggested in that excellent article (well worth reading entirely), if politics within any club over the long term is ‘sucking the fun out of’ the hobby, membership may constitute a waste of precious time. At worst, rather than learning anything new, time in a club may be spent arguing about trivial details!

If a ‘higher status’ peer ridicules others primarily because it is fun, the recipient is an easy target (e.g. new entrant or ‘lower status’ in the hierarchy) and the peer’s argument seems to be superficial and devoid of any logic… then perhaps elitism or even subtle bullying may genuinely be at play within a club or forum.

On-line forums might also just as be problematic for sensitive personality types. No one can deny that the world wide web (and in particular, forums) may facilitate a world of social interaction where ‘keyboard jockeys’ can taunt others without fear.

Be yourself

One can easily ‘go it alone’ in the world of DX without membership of a club or forum. The same applies to those  without access to expensive equipment or an acreage-sized rural backyard! Please don’t be afraid to be yourself (maverick or otherwise) in the hobby. As Oingo Boingo sang in the eighties, ‘there is nothing to fear but fear itself’.