13th February 2004


Prime Minister John (the wimp) Howard has mooted revision of the superannuation scheme for politicians.  Instead of getting a taxpayer funded defined benefit (set at 50% of final salary, indexed to the CPI - a measure of inflation) pension, new federal politicians will have to survive after retirement just like the rest of us, on an ordinary superannuation scheme, dependent for support on market vagaries.

Downward revision of parliamentary pensions was first proposed to the HOR (representatives) by Pauline Hanson and recently revived by parliamentary opposition leader Mark Latham.  The wimps backflip shows a genius survivor's shrewd realism.

Your diarist predicts that further initiatives will eventuate.  The wimp is currently perceived as having responded to the initiative of others (Latham).  There are three initiatives that I would suggest to him:
  1. A California style Schwartzenegger Act allowing citizens to prorogue (repeal) parliament or enact legislation, first suggested by Foreign Minister Downer circa 1997.
  2. A referendum on a directly elected President, with one option being that the president have powers equivalent to that of the President of the USA.
  3. Reduction of gun controls.
These three are anathema to the wimp.  He has already rejected the second two, and allowing the first would probably be considered even less desirable.   The wimp will instead probably try that old politician's standby, which is to reduce taxes.  That will not be sufficient because by now Australians expect that anyhow, as we realize that the tax structure is not indexed to the CPI.

Journalists are reporting that Mark Latham met a lot of party resistance when he proposed reformation of pensions.  Although he has won, it was a pyrric victory.  The pension scheme was what kept parliamentarians toeing the party line.  The first two suggestions above will steal power from parliament.  The last is an ethical problem for the party.

I suspect that Latham will propose a new referendum on an elected (but politically emasculated) president.  Unless real powers are on the table, the offer will be a squib.


Australia's denationalized telco, Telstra, has been losing money and market share ever since competition was permitted.

Your diarist was one of those fools who stuck with Telstra, paying their higher rates in the vain hope that market reality would eventually penetrate to Chairman Ziggy, and that he would reduce rates to a competitive level.

Ziggy has instead been relying on the inertia of those like myself, and kept internet charges high.

To operate this website, I have an account with fixed IP that cost $500 to set up, and data costs 20c a megabyte to download, at a speed of 33.6 Kb/sec.  (That explains why I do not have graphics and animated giffs.).  I could get a competitor's ADSL (256 Kb/s, unlimited free Mb) with fixed IP for around $60/month, and not need an extra phone line (cost around $30/month).

Well Ziggy, you have until September 2004.  I will be leaving to tour the USA, Europe & Japan until then.  If your charges are not down to around 1c/Mb, or free after a fixed charge, then I walk.


Since the Mid sixties, when Rupert Murdoch first introduced a national newspaper in Australia, I have been an admirer because:
  1. The Australian was a bloody good paper.  He hired the best, and carried what everyone said would be a loss maker until it became profitable.
  2. Reports are that he has ink in his veins, and that he is a shrewd businessman, who does not hire help to make his business decisions.
  3. He is a visionary, and has got to where he is after being called "Rupert the Red" in his Oxford days.
It is no surprise to me that he has become head of one of the three largest media organizations in the world.  Since the other two seem to be managed by people who are mere genius businessmen, I expect that within a decade "News Limited" will be the leading world media organization.