Perfidy or incompetence on NBN?

Unquestionably murky Alcatel-Lucent links appear to represent yet another reason for Federal Communications Minister Stephen Conroy to be removed as chief NBN buffoon.

Mike Quigley.
Mike Quigley.

On the scale of Labor ineptitude under Prime Minister Julia Gillard, the continuing incompetence or disingenuousness (or both) of Conroy may be dwarfed, but nevertheless continues to astonish.

It is simply not credible for the Minister to claim that he was unaware of the US corruption investigation into French telecommunications giant Alcatel-Lucent, two former senior executives of which now hold key positions in the National Broadband Network quango, NBN Co Limited.

A report in Today’s Australian newspaper said: ‘Mr [Jean-Pascal] Beaufret, now chief financial officer of NBN Co, had been chief financial officer at Alcatel and then Alcatel-Lucent between 2001 and 2007. Mr [Mike] Quigley, executive chairman of NBN Co, was appointed president and chief operating officer of Alcatel in 2005.’[1]

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Political Correctness

Why it’s a scourge of liberty and thought that must be vigorously opposed.

Perhaps the most execrable social and cultural blight on Western civilization since the anti-communist hysteria of the 1950s, political correctness, is the paradoxical triumph of Stalinism in the West, and the fascist impetus of corporatists carried forward into the 21st century.

Political correctness: the triumph of Stalinism in the West.
Political correctness: the triumph of Stalinism in the West.

To be clear about what I mean when I use the terminology, let me identify political correctness as the intended product of a bien pensant leftist agenda of levelling all supposed indicators of inequality in language by coercive and self-perpetuating censorship of all words that anyone might regard as prejudiced about gender, class, race, culture, sexual orientation, physical abilities, age, and religious/political beliefs. The accent here is not on a reasoned case for excluding pejoratives from language, but on excluding all language that might possibly lead to someone claiming they have been offended.

Underlying this insane project is the equally insane idea that there should or could be such a thing as total equality of all people under all circumstances. Such a state of affairs in practice would mean a completely equal distribution of all resources, a diffusion of all nation-states into a single world-wide autocracy capable of such distribution of resources, an absence of any form of competition (including sports, business or academic endeavour), and the consequent absence of excellence or merit, just uniform mediocrity, the way Vonnegut described it in his Harrison Bergeron. My list of qualities that would need to be dispensed with could go on, but I think I have illustrated why the concept of total equality is absurd.

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Grotesque WikiLeaks overreaction undermines rule of law

Why Julia Gillard’s attack on Assange made me ashamed of the Australian Government and robbed her prime ministership of any historical gravitas it might have had.

Jualian Assange: Persona non grata.

Let me be perfectly clear at the outset that I have deep misgivings about Julian Assange’s stated motivations for his actions, about the actions themselves, and about the potential effects of the WikiLeaks revelations on international relations. I can’t declare myself a supporter of leaking this kind of information, nor of publishing the same. But I most certainly cannot support the way Assange and WikiLeaks have been attacked by senior government figures.

The American perspective on this is somewhat different to our own because of the constitutional litigiousness that forms part of the American political process. In any case, my concerns are principally parochial as far as this comment is concerned. In Australia a consideration of the government’s response to the latest WikiLeaks revelations doesn’t need to get past the test of the rule of law.

Notionally Westminster democracy has been based on an explicit recognition that the executive, parliament and the judiciary are bound by law just as much as the ordinary citizen, thus acting as a principal check on tyranny since that principle was written into the 1689 Bill of Rights in England. The principle underpins everything that is valuable about our common law system and carries the strongest guarantee that the liberty of citizens cannot be infringed arbitrarily by the state. Put another way, the rule of law makes summary or arbitrary persecution and condemnation unlawful. According to that principle Assange and WikiLeaks should either be charged with an offence under law or left alone to pursue their lawful business.

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Election 2010 – Index Page

Week One. Saturday 17 July – Friday 23 July

First-timers disenfranchised, Xenophobia enters left-stage, Boredom already, Contempt for Koch outweighs alarm for Abbott, The cost of union elections, BLF campaigns for … ?, Gratuitous advice to Abbott, Labor no friend to low-paid, unemployed.

Week Two. Saturday 24 July – Friday 30 July

The great not-debate: is it all over for Abbott?, Polling data should scare Abbott, Paul Kelly right to label Gillard as lacking conviction, Hello, no, there’s no one here …, Letter to WA.

Week Three. Saturday 31 July – Friday 6 August

Opportunities go begging, Taking stock …, Where to for Abbott?, The Gillard prospect, No inspiration, no aspiration (no respiration), Gillard disingenuous about concern for Rudd, blind choice ahead, ‘Conversation’ with a journo mate in WA, More chatter at the sidelines, but no game on the pitch, Getting tough on dole bludgers, Greens from left-field, Minutiae of electioneering accentuate empty promises, Education no silver bullet for Gillard, ‘He’s gorn ‘n dunnit now’, Ban the burqa nonsense again.

Week Four. Saturday 7 August – Friday 13 August

Electorate Letters, Labor’s three ring circus, Reading the entrails, Animus is back, The anti-Howard fetish, High Court ruling impacts well beyond election, Peculiar message from Howard, All at sea about prospects, National broadband plans leave me cold, Reconsidering the NBN.

Week Five. Saturday 14 August – Friday 21 August

Time to get down and dirty, The last hurrah, Debate is last chance for Abbott, Well I’ll be …, Postscript.

Porter was right on the NBN

Michael Porter from CEDA was absolutely right to question the economics of the Labor national broadband network, which should have me, a computer geek, salivating at the very prospect, but has me cringing in anticipation of almost inevitable disappointment.

The first obstacle, the one Porter addressed, is that without detailed numbers, but the already massive $43 billion price tag, it is much more likely to become an open-ended black hole, sucking resources into the alternate universe that Minister Stephen Conroy inhabits.

The second obstacle, also touched on by Porter, is that consumers may actually prefer a choice. I know that I do, and I’m always willing to pay for a service not controlled by the state (or a quasi state body) that is reliable rather than nanny state’s inevitably hamstrung, second-string alternative that works only on nights when the moon is full. The Telstra route for so many years.

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Election diary 2010 — Week Five

Time to get down and dirty

Sunday, 15 August 2010

The screaming headline ‘Bloodbath’ in Brisbane’s Sunday Times notwithstanding, every day there’s not a negative news lead about Gillard or Labor, the election slips a little further from Abbott’s grasp.

There may be a poll in Queensland predicting a 5.7 per cent swing to the Coalition, but the poll on its own is more likely to galvanise traditional Labor voters to swing back to the party of habit rather than remember why they were in two minds about Gillard’s Labor.

It should also not be taken for granted that the swing towards the Coalition might be no more than a swing away from Labor based on media coverage of the leaders’ performance that occurred up to two weeks ago. In any case, as i said at the outset, every day Abbott does not have Gillard on the back foot is a day on which Gillard wins hearts and minds.

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Election diary 2010 — Week Four

Electorate letters

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Today was my day – one of the two or three days in the electoral cycle on which I make my feelings known to my candidates. I wrote letters to the Greens, Labor and Liberal candidates. Without going into details I suggested that, all partisan rhetoric aside, general economic and national security policies were so similar between the parties there was no need to discuss these, and that I was looking for individual views on general principles and specific stances on social policy issues. I wonder whether I will get responses that aren’t form letters cut and pasted from policy bumph.

The very nature and form of response itself might indicate who is the most hungry for my vote, if not also who is the most deserving. Wouldn’t it be a sad indictment of them all if I got what I fully expect: the brush-off by overworked and disinterested staffers.

Labor’s three-ring circus?

The Sydney Morning Herald this morning suggested that the spectacle of having three Labor figureheads (a former leader, a former PM, and the incumbent PM) intersecting each others’ orbits in Queensland today was tantamount to the Labor campaign becoming a circus.

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Re-evaluating the NBN


There should be serious concerns about Labor proposals for a national broadband infrastructure project.

When the Rudd Labor Government first released its National Broadband Network policy my initial response was to favour the notion of seeing the whole nation wired up for lightning fast internet access, but as time wore on I grew uneasy when I started to contemplate the range of things that could and would go wrong as part of any government intervention into the market.

The Coalition’s ‘me too’ internet policy, released in the rarefied election climate, the ever widening sope of the market intervention taking shape, plus fear of a backdoor implementation of the Rudd/Conroy censorship agenda, forced me to look again more carefully at Labor’s National Broadband Network (NBN) policy.

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Election diary 2010 — Week Three

Opportunities go begging

Saturday, 31 July 2010

The morning’s headlines about a Nielsen poll that puts the Coalition ahead on a two-party preferred basis, and Abbott still trailing but closing the gap as preferred leader, should be no cause for jubilation.

Unlike some other observers of politics, I don’t discount polling numbers, particularly not if they come from a credible source, but I recognise them to be what they are: ephemeral snapshots of a point in time that has come and gone.

I am bound to note, however, that my gratuitous advice to Abbott of 22 July contained some pointers that did indeed appear to make a difference in the numbers game. I can’t lay claim to credit for this outcome because if I could see the opportunity so could others far more motivated to do something about it.

Taking stock …

Heading into week three of the phoney election campaign, still two weeks out from the official formality, I would be tempted to discount any talk of a Coalition ascendancy, unless Abbott can maintain a momentum of revelations about less than creditable performances by Rudd (yes, he is and must remain a principal focus) and Gillard.

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The burqa is confronting, but must not be banned

The artificial nature of the burqa debate notwithstanding, there appears to be no end of illogical argument about the issue, coming both from the proponents of outlawing the garment, and the defenders of the freedom to choose it as every-day attire.

I declare right now my close affinity with the latter position, but not without, I think, deeply offending the sensibilities of many of its proponents.

I call the debate in Australia artificial because it is my observation that it was manufactured by bored journalists attempting to bait one or another of our under-exercised politicians into making an injudicious comment about the proposition that some people might be ‘confronted’ by the sight of someone covered from head to foot in black or blue cloth. The underlying assumption, the bait in this trap, that agreeing with that proposition is inherently wrong, is exactly what is so dispiriting about the ploy.

What sort of a fool would argue against the observation that it is confronting? In Western culture a clear line of sight to the face is taken for granted [1] as a subconscious adjunct to personal communication, as a means of gauging mood, intent, sincerity and attention.

The absence of clues about a person’s focus or intentions is regarded as discourteous, sinister and suspicious. Anyone who wishes to argue that this is religious discrimination rather than reflexive behaviour based on survival instincts should dress up that way and approach a dog, a cat or their next door neighbour and take note of the reactions they get.

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