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Thursday, 26 October


Magnetic north "IndyWatch Feed"

Unemployment ticks down

There's been no shortage of people on hand to announce that the end of the world is nigh for Sydney. 

No-one seems to have gotten around to telling the Greater Sydney economy just yet, though, as employment growth continues to surge and the city's annual average unemployment rate just keeps on falling, and falling, and falling towards historic lows. 

The median duration of job search in Sydney has fallen to 13 weeks in September 2017, down from 18 weeks a year earlier.

There have also been notable improvements in the unemployment rate in Adelaide and Hobart lately.

Magnetic north

Perhaps the standout statistic from the detailed labour force figures, though, has been the synchronised upswing in Queensland employment. 

Now the monthly numbers are noisy, there's no question about that, but even when plotting the figures on an annual average basis you can't help but notice the rebound. 

Brisbane's recent employment growth has evidently been punctuated mainly by part-time jobs. 

But one pleasing thing to see is that the state's full-time employment rebound has been spread widely across the state, from the Gold Coast to Toowomba, and up to the Sunshine Coast, Mackay, Townsville, and Cairns in the far north. 

Queensland's regional employment growth is now tracking at levels not seen in a decade. 



Government assures China over Adani mega- mine approvals "IndyWatch Feed"

China has officially been informed the controversial Adani coal mine in Central Queensland has received all government approvals, Federal Attorney-General George Brandis has told Senate Estimates.

Senate crossbenchers have questioned officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) in Senate Estimates.

The questions were sparked by a Freedom of Information request to DFAT for documents relating to requests for foreign government financing for the controversial multi-billion-dollar mine and rail project.

While he did not confirm whether that had occurred, Senator Brandis said the Government had made representations to dispel misinformation about the Carmichael mine.

The Australian Government has written to the Government of China to confirm the project has received all necessary Queensland state government and Australian government environmental and mining approvals, he said.

Senator Brandis said he did not know whether the letter was sent on request by Adani, but department secretary Frances Adamson said she expected Adani did ask for the letter to be sent.

I would expect so because a letter setting out the status of the project would have been generated as a result of a perceived need for that I expect, Ms Adamson said.

Following a lunch adjournment, Ms Adamson revealed more details about the letter.

The letter was written by the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment and by the Deputy Prime Minister, she said.

It was a statement of fact where the project is up to and a statement of endorsement of support by the Australian Government.

Letter not an approach to a foreign agency

Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie asked why it was necessary to inform the Chinese Government about the project.

Has this got to do with money being lent from the Chinese? she asked.

Senator Brandis took the question on notice. He said it was not an approach to a foreign agency, rather it set out the facts of the project.

DFAT officials have told Senate estimates it was not the departments role to seek finance for the Adani project.

Responding to the delay in the FIO request, Ms Adamson said the fact it had captured several hundred pages of documents did not mean official approaches had been happening.

The fact that there are a significant number of documents that weve identified for review should not be read to imply that theres a significant amount of departmental activity, she said.

My understanding is there has not been a significa...


Glenorchy: What Happens If Most Of A Council Quits While It's Suspended? "GroovUs Feed Anews"

Welcome to Glenorchy City Council.  You can be checked out any time they like, but you can never leave.

That was the vibe following recent developments in an already strange and long-running Tasmanian local government dispute, one that is daily creating newer and more exotic flavours of political-law popcorn for electoral ambulance-chasers like me.  My sympathies are with the poor ratepayers of Glenorchy, who are becoming literally poorer ratepayers as they are required to support this niche entertainment as it drags on into season after season.

To begin partway through about book six of Glenorchy Game of Thrones, the GCC has long been wracked with factional strife and hackery (which has often crossed state party lines in odd ways) despite having, at times, some very well regarded Mayors.  The 2014 election saw a team headed by then one-term alderman Kristie Johnston run on an agenda to "clean up Glenorchy and clean out the council".  They were endorsed by Denison federal independent MP Andrew Wilkie - not normally one to put his name to anybody else's bid - who denounced the existing Councillors in no uncertain terms.

Johnston thrashed incumbent Mayor and long-term alderman Stuart Slade with 58.3% to Slade's 22.7% in one of the state's most sensational mayoral wins on record.  Former federal MP Harry Quick was elected Deputy on Johnston's ticket, and two incumbent Councillors were shown the door with miserable primary vote shares.  However, Daenerys and her dragons had no sooner claimed the Iron Throne than her problems began.  Johnston's team had been a small one, and not all of them had won seats, so Johnston arrived as Mayor without the numbers.  This is a common problem with directly elected mayors, the common problem with indirectly elected ones being murky backroom Rats In The Ranks shenanigans, as on display this week in WA.  A similar situation to Glenorchy was also seen on the now-dismissed Huon Valley Council, though their Mayor was much more narrowly (and quite surprisingly) elected, and had nothing resembling the scale of Johnston's mandate.

Johnston's term has therefore been dominated by conflict between supporters and opponents of her reform attempts, and also by conflict between the Mayor and General Manager (a standard feature when the Mayor doesn't have the numbers).  It didn't help her that despite running with Johnston at the 2014 election, Quick has from the start been far from a consistent supporter of her on Council voting, and has fallen out with his endorser Wilkie during the term. I know nothing of the causal issues there.

Councillors all vote independently to some degree, as on Hobart Council, and a lot of motions are unanimous.  Yet a quick browse of the Minutes at various times through the Council's term shows that Glenorchy Council's defining voting pattern on divided votes is a 7-3 lineup with Ma...


Brisbane Public Transport Has Decreased in Cost and more Zedlines... "GroovUs Feed Aradio"

Public transport fares in Brisbane have decreased by 11.3 per cent in the past year, however, other major cities across Australia are dealing with an increase in costs. (Image Resource: Wikimedia Commons)

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics the costs of the public transports has increased by 4 per cent in Melbourne, 3.8 per cent in Perth, 6.4 per cent in Sydney, 2.2 per cent in Adelaide and 3 per cent in Hobart.

Deputy Premier and Transport Minister Jackie Trad said the Palaszczuk governments Fairer Fares program influenced Queenslands drop in public transport costs.


City cycle scheme $12.8 million in the red


QLD federal redistribution draft released "GroovUs Feed Anews"

Ive been quite busy recently and hadnt had time to deal with the recent draft released for the Queensland federal redistribution.

To be honest its the least interesting redistribution Ive encountered in the nine years I have written for this blog. Queensland is maintaining its 30 federal electorates after a series of rapid redistributions which repeatedly increased its seat numbers. Twelve electorates were left entirely untouched, and most of the others underwent very minor changes.

Antony Green has analysed the boundaries and made estimates for the electoral boundaries. No seat flipped party, although a few have a changed margin.

You can now download my boundary map for this draft proposal.

I have also recently updated a number of other maps: the final Tasmanian federal map, the final NSW local government boundaries as of 2017, and the New Zealand electoral map updated to reflect the results of the 2017 election. You can download them all from the maps page.

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Wednesday, 25 October


Premiere: Sydneys Bad Pony deliver the soulful party-starter Half Blood "GroovUs Feed Aartists"

Sydneys Bad Pony have been doing the round for a few years now, but now as we get closer and closer to the new year, the group have decided to gift fans with a brand new single, the exhilarating Half Blood.

Bad Pony have had a pretty stellar year so far, with showcases at Canadian Music Week, and shows in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and New York City. Now with a brand new single behind them, the group are all set to head in 2018 with a bang, with Bad Pony already set to represent Australia at South By Southwest next year.

Bad Ponys new single, Half Blood, is another banger from the group. Filled with soulful vocals, tasty riffs, pounding drums, and a brilliant chorus that will definitely see the track quickly become a fan favourite at upcoming shows.

The tracks accompanying video manages to perfectly capture the sort of artists that Bad Pony are. Showing the group performing the track live, the video provides a snapshot of the ferocity, energy, and dedication that every single member of the band puts into their craft.

The way we play live is pretty unique and we have a shitload of fun doing it, said Jarred Young, the bands vocalist and drummer. We wanted to make sure that came across with Half Blood.

To add to the news of the brilliant single and video, the group have also just been named as recipients of the Australian Music Weeks 301 Music Prize. This of course means big things for Bad Pony, who are set to record a brand new single at Studios 301 as part of the prize.

Were really, really stoked, said Jarred excitedly. As a band that usually self-produces it will be a great experience to get into 301 with a producer for our next single too.

Bad Pony are set to head out on an east coast tour soon, giving fans a chance to devour their new single. Kicking things off at the Australian Music Week festivities next week, the band will hit up Tasmania, Victoria, and revisit New South Wales before the tour wraps up.

With the bands reputation for delivering an absolutely stunning live show, this is going to be one you wont want to miss.

Check out Bad Ponys brand new single, Half Blood, below.

Bad Pony Half Blood Tour

Thursday, November 2nd
Australian Music Week, Cronulla, NSW

Saturday, November 11th
Band Meeting Festi...


Elena Kats-Chernin "GroovUs Feed Anews"

On Arts Wednesday 25 October 2017, Sylvias guest was acclaimed and beloved composer, Elena Kats-Chernin, who turns 60 next month. The conversation looks back over Elenas career and the sheer exuberance of her personality makes for compelling listening.

By way of introduction, we listened to Lullabye for Nick from the CD Butterflying. Elena composed the piece when she was five years old and reworked for her youngest son. The music is performed by Tamara-Anna Cislowska and the CD is published by ABC records:

Here is Part 1 of the conversation:

We then listened to the very popular Eliza Aria from Wild Swans, a ballet choreographed by Meryl Tankard and scored by Elena. This recording is also from ABC and features Jane Sheldon with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra.

Now for Part 2 of the conversation:

The next piece of music comes from the Hush Music Foundation, Hush Vol 13: The Magic island. Elenas composition is called The Dance of the Paper Umbrellas, performed by the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra:

Now for Part 3 of the conversation:

This next piece of music is Russian Rag, the all-time favourite from her CD Ragtime and B...


Environmental Protest: Bob Brown wins in Australia "IndyWatch Feed"

Environment activists and watchers will be detaching themselves briefly from their various points of resistance to observe the implications of a High Court decision in Australia that was handed down last week. The decision found that various anti-protest provisions of the Tasmanian parliament found in the Workplaces (Protection from Protesters) Act 2014 were invalid. The

The post Environmental Protest: Bob Brown wins in Australia appeared first on The AIM Network.


Senator Canavans ambitious plan for a State of North Queensland "GroovUs Feed Anews"

Senator Matt Canavan, a friend of mine from my Canberra days, is not wasting any time while he is temporarily out of the Cabinet. He is making plans for a new State of North Queensland. With his background as a Productivity Commission economist and as the former Minister for Northern Australia, Senator Canavan has the expertise and experience to come up with a credible and convincing plan for a new State of NQ. The Senator made some very interesting observations to the Townsville Bulletin last Friday:

Ive often said were big enough and strong enough and wealthy enough to represent ourselves, he said.

I reckon wed get more things going if we didnt have the handbrakes put on us by Brisbane and Canberra.

Senator Canavan said Tasmania had 12 senators with 500,000 people but North Queensland has only two and we have more than one million people.

I utterly reject any notion that we couldnt stand on our own two feet, he said. Our average per-person economic output in North Queensland is 30 per cent higher than in southern Queensland. All the money seems to get spent in Brisbane.

Senator Canavan is absolutely right about NQs higher economic output per capita (see chart below based on the most recent official estimates from Qld Treasury), although this is a result of the disproportionate contribution of mining to NQs economy. A lot of the income generated in NQ is earned by mining companies, and the bulk of it ends up leaving NQ, with a good proportion of it going overseas. The average NQ resident does not earn a higher income than the average SEQ resident. That said, the large economic contribution of mining (e.g. around two-thirds of North West Qlds economy, half of Mackays, and one-third of Fitzroys) means that a new State of NQ would earn healthy royalty revenues. Of course, as currently happens with Queensland, this healthy royalty revenue would count against NQ in the distribution of GST revenue.

While I concur with the Senator that a State of NQ would be economically viable, Id be careful about rushing into it. The set up costs would be large, and there may be trouble filling senior public service positions, given the vast majority of current Queensland public service SES positions are in Brisbane. Also, as Ive posted on previously, Im unsure NQ gets such a raw deal from Brisbane (see my post Is NQ under-funded relative to SEQ?). That said, I am v...

Tuesday, 24 October


Fifth anniversary! "GroovUs Feed Anews"

Today is the fifth anniversary of me, as one observer had it, "ragequitting" Tasmanian Times and starting this site.  This Blogger site was something I set up just to make sure I had a new home right away, but as it's turned out, as basic as Blogger is in some regards, I haven't seen a compelling reason to move.

Sometimes people ask me why this site just bears my name, rather than being called something snazzy like "The Poll Bludger" or "The Tally Room".  I have simply not come up with any alternative name that I am happy with.  At one stage I was tempted by "The Morning Mist", after a fantastic old quote from Sir Joh about polls that "come and go like a morning mist".  But it occurred to me that people would then start unkindly calling it The Morning Missed whenever I got something wrong, and besides the name would have at least one unsavory connotation in German.

In these five years this site has published 429 articles and 2241 comments (about a third of the comments mine).  It's had about 1.5 million pageviews from, conservatively, tens of thousands of readers (Analytics says almost 200,000 but is probably not accounting for people who change their IP addresses a lot).  I'm tempted to say "hey TT, all of these clicks could have been yours!" and "ha!" but in reality my output here has been much greater than it ever was there, and I doubt that they could have afforded, let alone edited, all of this stuff.  Speaking of editing, I only have time to write these articles, not to properly proofread them, so thanks to all those who have helped catch all the gremlins.  The top three gremlin-catchers have probably been my partner, my mother and @sorceror43.  I've considered setting up a Gremlin Notification Form in the sidebar for people to email me when they spot incomplete sentences, misspelled candidate names and so on.

I have considered writing detailed site rules to cover what comments are or aren't allowed but have not found any good reason to do so (and think if I had such rules that would only encourage people to game them).  Comments are moderated to keep fanatical trolls at bay, but trolls aside I've very very rarely rejected one.  Virtually all posters here are sensible and well behaved and the number of people I've banned has been tiny. Thanks to all non-troll commenters for the thought and, at times, work they've put into their comments.  That especially goes for those who have helped out with some of the most complex electoral modeling that's been beyond my computing abilities.

The decision to strike out on my own was risky as for the first 18 months or so my finances were shaky, and I was giving up a paying gig for something that might not m...

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