I have not met Senator Bernardi, but I’ve read  some of his writing. From what I have read in the media and on line, it might surprise some people to learn that in fact he is a published author. His seven books include two for children, the rest being about politics, collections of his own opinion pieces, and a book that did well in the review sections, The Conservative Revolution. Thus far the talk has all been about how his defection from the Liberal Party is another destabilising factor for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Since Bernardi is unlikely to vote for anything that Labor or the Greens would put up, there’s no likely loss of support for the Government on the floor of the Senate. There may be trouble in the next South Australian elections, and more widely, if Senator Bernardi manages to arouse people like him around the country to form another party of the Right. The Australian Conservatives movement he set up is said (by Wikipedia) to have 50,000 members. We will have to wait to see.

I think his departure is important because it demonstrates further the weakness in the current alignments in Australian politics, about which I have written a few times. All political parties are coalitions, really, united on not much more than the importance of their forming the next government. Labor  is the best example, as we see again and again when the factions clash, or when high-flyers like Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard injure each other. So who is Senator Bernardi, and where does he sit in it all?

Since most of us don’t come from South Australia, here is a potted biography. Bernardi is 47, his father an Italian immigrant. Bernardi was a rower of real class, having been an AIS graduate, the member of a winning crew at Henley, and a member of an Australian representative eight. He did his back in, and that ended his rowing career. He’s worked as a labourer, a finance person and probably in his family’s pub. He’s been a Liberal Senator from SA since 2006, and was the youngest ever Federal Vice-President of the Liberal Party, as well as State President in South Australia. What has got under his skin? His short speech to the Senate, with a full attendance and press gallery, presented a man who spoke simply and well. He thinks the political class has failed Australia, that the tone of politics is much worse than it was ten years ago, and that Australians everywhere deserve better than this. His Australian Conservatives show the way, he thinks, and he hopes those who agree with him will join them. He didn’t raise his voice once. It was courteous and cool. Its was the first time I had seen or heard him, and I was impressed.

What is he about? He doesn’t like 18c, he thinks Islam is a threat, he is opposed to abortion, and strongly dislikes the Safe Schools Program. And, unsurprisingly, he is a sceptic about the imagined threats from global warming. What is he for? His website says that As a member of the Liberal Party of Australia for over 30 years, Cory fought to support Sir Robert Menzies’ vision of stronger families, fostering free enterprise, limited government and supporting civil society of the ‘forgotten people’. How does that make different from a lot of other Liberals? It doesn’t. Why then is he leaving? Is he disgruntled because he’s not part of the ministerial team? I don’t know. But he may not have been considered for the ministerial team because he is seen as a person of views that are out of the current Liberal mainstream. Then he has been writing unpopular pieces for a long time. He wrote a sceptical piece about ‘climate change’ in 2007 — that’s ten years ago. And Malcolm Turnbull distanced himself from it at once. If you want more about him, Michelle Grattan has a thirty minute podcast where he answers her questions. Again, he comes across well, thoughtful, quiet, reflective.

In that podcast he pointed to the revolving door for prime ministers over the past decade, and argued that the tendency of both political parties to shiver about the polls and go for short-term engineering solutions (replace the bloke in charge) is indicative of a lack of real purpose in Australian politics. I tend to agree. It was much easier in the 1950s and 1960s, when the economy was growing, there was a lot of infrastructure to create, and governments (both Federal and State) had jobs to do, for parties to look and stay united. Today things are very different. Australia is a lot wealthier, and in all sorts of respects it is a better society to live in than was the case half a century ago.

But the parties are baffled by contemporary circumstances. There is a half-trillion national debt for the parties to deal with. The economy is not growing in a steady way. Industries are dying, jobs are changing, the population is growing, houses are unaffordable for young people, there are insistent demands from every side for measures to deal with this or that problem, and there are no quick fixes for any of this. Indeed, there are no slow fixes, either, that would have long-term support.

And to adapt some themes from my last essay, Australian political discussion is now a mixture of two rather incompatible perspectives on the good society and how to attain it. People want to hang on to what they have, and what they have earned, and they also want governments to solve problems, but without increases in taxation. The old-fashioned British preference for limited government, and the Continental elevation of principles above practice, are mixed up in an awkward way.

I think that Senator Bernardi has found that mixture less and less to his taste. He sees (this is my view) the Turnbull Government is trying to occupy the middle ground in Australian politics, to be a sort of better, more experienced and more sensible Labor Party, and he thinks that is both wrong and unsuccessful. It is certainly the latter at least at the moment, with a large gap between the Government and the Opposition in the opinion polls. There must be many in the Coalition today who see the rejection of Tony Abbott by the Liberals, in retrospect, as a disastrous move. Bernardi is probably one of them. Why did he leave now? Well, there is always a last straw, but I don’t know what it was.

I am not going further down the leadership path, other than to suggest that Mr Abbott had the same kind of problem Julia Gillard had earlier. If you set out to be different from your opponents, you have to be extremely persuasive at selling the difference. Neither leader was. Senator Bernardi believes that he will get significant support in building his Australian Conservatives, and that he and they will offer a different way of painting the future from Pauline Hanson and One Nation. All that is ahead of us. Mr Turnbull is not very effective in persuading us that his ‘we can do it better than Labor’ position is a real winner.

What we may be getting to, I think, is a state of politics in which the major parties cannot govern by themselves. They will in time need the support of minor parties simply to form a government, just as they now need minor party and cross-bench support in the Senate to get legislation through. Julia Gillard’s Government followed negotiation with the Greens. Maybe our two-party system, which started in 1910, is reaching its use-by date.That wouldn’t worry me, as many other countries have multi-party systems where coalitions and compromises are required before anyone can form a government.

Senator Bernardi is at the beginning of a six-year term, and he is most experienced, not simply in the Senate but also in the grassroots business of gaining and keeping support. So I wouldn’t write him off at all. Yet I do wonder how many ‘real’ Conservatives there are out there, and how many of them will support a new party.

 

 

 

164 Comments

  • Neville says:

    Don I wonder how many will support Bernardi as well. Their is still a socially conservative wing of Labor supporters, but I don’t think they’ll change their vote and I don’t think many of the conservative wing of the Liberals will either.
    Bernardi and Hanson supporters will probably exchange preferences, but I don’t think Cory will pick up more than a few percent of first preferences. If he gets more than that I’ll be very surprised. I think he is a very decent person, but I don’t follow any Christian religion so that doesn’t attract me either. But I know many decent Christian people and I respect their very practical way of following their beliefs.
    Of course I’ll preference Bernardi before the Labor and Greens at every opportunity. I just listened to Bernardi condemning people for murdering homosexuals and laughing about it. I fully support his point of view and I hate the Muslim extremists who advocate this type of barbarism and their ignorant support for Sharia law. The trouble is that there are a sizable number of these extremists in the OZ Muslim community and the polls back this up around the world.

  • NameGlenM says:

    Of course , he will- and has been the target of loonies of the rent-a-crowd type. Left wing trash.

  • JimboR says:

    “But he may not have been considered for the ministerial team because he is seen as a person of views that are out of the current Liberal mainstream. ”

    Indeed… well out! He was working his way up the ranks when Tony Abbott sacked him as parliamentary secretary for his “Labradors at the bottom of the slippery slope” arguments against marriage equality. Tony Abbott is no progressive on that issue himself, so you know you’re well outside the Liberal mainstream when your opposition to marriage equality is too extreme even for Abbott.

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/cory-bernardi-gone-as -tony-abbott-demands-discipline/news-story/55daa4fdcafff1f86e6f06155a3 936b1

    • David says:

      Interesting that Bernardi, who claims to be fervently opposed homosexuality, should chose to spend his 3-month “study tour” in NYC and not some God fearing town in the Mid-west. My guess is that he spent all his time in the East Village, nothing surer.

      http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-03-01/cory-bernardi-selected-by-govern ment-for-three-month-secondment/7211472

      • Don Aitkin says:

        I guess that he found it easier to be in NYC, given that he was in the USA to attend the UN General Assembly, as the story you quote points out.

        • David says:

          That must be it.
          Still Interesting, that all these right wing types love to get stuck into the UN, until there is a “study tour” to NYC on offer. Cory could have hung out at some Bible School in the Mid West, gone to church on Sundays learning how to get closer to God etc. Then come back to Australia and tell us all what we are doing wrong.

          Also interesting he did not defect from the Liberal Party until after he returned from the “study tour”,…. as the story I quote points out.

  • PeterE says:

    Thanks. I have met the Senator, briefly, and heard him speak (very good). I consider that he is a good man with good values and the right kind of policies. I wish him well, although trying to carve out a path outside the main parties is very difficult. I do believe that replacing Abbott was a disaster. The point is that the Liberal Party was taken over by ‘moderates’ and indeed Turnbull ran under the logo of ‘Turnbull’s coalition’ rather than that of the Liberal party. If the Liberal Party was still Liberal, Bernardi would still be in it. I cannot believe that Menzies would have gone along with the kind of policies (Labor-Green lite) that Turnbull’s coalition seems to espouse (such as the increasing RET). If the Liberals do not come up with the kind of policies and positions that Bernardi has put forward, their base will give up on them. The result may well be another bout of Labor (heaven help us). So things are crook in Tallarook.

    • Ross says:

      The ‘Liberal’ Party is under attack from the far right. Both within and without.
      Menzies rejected the title ‘conservative party’ for a reason.

  • spangled drongo says:

    Thanks, Don. Yes, what a weak lot the LNP have become under Turnbull.

    Bernardi proposes that the people are entitled to a say in reaffirming the traditional view of marriage and they don’t support him.

    The slippery slope he refers to is already in existence and he thinks we ought to face the problems associated with the alternatives to millennia of our Christian culture.

    A general reassessment of our values.

    How “offensive” is that?

    We now have the LNP and Labor occupying the central swampland with Bernardi and Hanson up in the good country.

    The Greens are even further down in the mangroves.

  • Nga says:

    I propose Cory Bernardi name his new party the Christian Taliban Party. What could be more apt? It’s amusing that Muslim and Christian fundamentalists spend so much time shouting at each other when in truth you can barely get a cigarette paper between them on issues like same sex marriage, the inferior nature of women, interfering in women’s reproductive choices and general God Bothering. Cory Bernardi should offer the olive branch and merge these two antediluvian groups into one stinking whole. They really do deserve to spend eternity together.

    • spangled drongo says:

      But strangely the feminists who never stop criticising the Christians never speak out about the Muslims.

      These fems are just so brave until it comes to telling the truth.

      They somehow seem to know who will turn the other cheek and who won’t.

      • Nga says:

        Umm, no, dopey. It is because Muslims are scarce outside a couple of urban ghettos, so they are not on the radar. I have Plymouth Brethren, Catholics and Seventh Day Adventists and various other types of scary God pushers in the town nearest to me. Sometimes these freaks knock on my farmhouse door and seek to convert me to their illness.

        As far as I know, I do not have a single Muslim living within 30 km of my home and no Muslim has ever darkened my doorstep. But I have the same plan for Muslim hardliners as I do their Christian counterparts, which is to martyr them to their God pronto so that the rest of us can live in peace.

        • spangled drongo says:

          Plymouth Brethren, hey enge? And Catholics and SDAs? Wow!!! wot danger you live in.

          Any genital mutilation yet?

          If you haven’t already, you better join the Pussy-Hat Posse:

          http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/columnists/janet-albrechtsen/h ang-on-to-your-hats-if-you-are-left-and-a-loser/news-story/0858ab7abf1 ed1a9d0c9a1e0e8426969

          • David says:

            SD genitle mutilation predate religions. It’s a cultural practice rather than a religious practice. All sorts of cultures practice it, Australian Aboriginal, African Abrahamic religions.

            My understanding is that in the Middle East and Africa where female circumcision still exists it is a cultural practice that dates back to Ancient Egyptians.

        • margaret says:

          Yes. As charmingly brainwashed as they were, resulting in docile bible reading and pounding the streets for God – the two young Mormon men who have chosen Katherine in the NT to make their conversions to their faith show us how utterly ridiculous religion is. Believe in Jesus by all means and act accordingly – but he was a man, not the Son Of God.

          • spangled drongo says:

            You foolish fems just don’t get it at all do you?

            Have you ever considered it’s not the denomination or the church that counts, but the wonderful Christian culture that is possibly better and more successful than any other in civilisation.

            It is no accident that first world countries are Christian countries.

            Trying to supplant that with your mindless Marxism is throwing the baby out with the bathwater [in more ways than one].

            At least Bernardi is aware of that.

        • JMO says:

          For once I agree with you NGA! Now can we add the new Gaia religion to these “freaks” and their belief of imminent catastrophic global warming.

    • bryan roberts says:

      As a Catholic, my mother wore a hat to church for years, but not for the past 50. When Muslim women get fed up with living in black sacks (and they are already, witness the colourful hijabs, the lipsticks, etc). They want to look attractive, and they want to be noticed. Sit in a Duty-Free store in Dubai airport for a while and watch what the Muslim women are buying. Not prayer mats and copies of the Koran (or Quran, if you prefer).

      The most appalling scene I have ever witnessed was walking down a suburban street to see two little girls, who could have been no more than 5, adorned with hijabs.

      Basically, no. Not in Australia.

      • margaret says:

        Well I can go one better. The most confronting sight I’ve seen regarding attire was at an airport, can’t remember which one, possibly Singapore – SE Asian airport anyway about eight years ago. A slightly built female child carried in her father’s arms and wearing complete black burka.
        Does that make me anti Muslim no, it makes me mad and it makes me anti fundamentalism. Fundamentalists are in every religion and Cory Bernardi is a Christian fundamentalis. Those who say they are ‘personally pro life’ really mean is they are anti choice. Thousands of women will die because of the overturn of Roe vs Wade and if men had wombs abortion would be legal you bet.
        Women do not use abortion as contraception. End of story. Speaking as a woman who has not been put in that situation of making the choice but who knows several who have and they didn’t make the choice lightly!

        • whyisitso says:

          When does human life begin?

        • bryan roberts says:

          You haven’t gone ‘one better’. I asked why ‘modesty’ should be enforced on five year old female children to avoid inciting the lust of paedophiles like the founder of their religion.

          And if you can tolerate the thought of intercourse with nine year old children, you have a stronger stomach than I do.

          • margaret says:

            Oh seriously Bryan, the whole problem with the Australia Day ‘poster’ (which I believe was only one of several rolling images) depicting two girls of about 10 years age was that the hijab is supposed, according Islamic faith to be worn for ‘modesty’. Well I and others, like Ruby Hamad ask the question why should a 10 year old girl be required to be modest? It’s a garment expectation for older ‘young’ women (of course that means young women who are of sexual ‘enticement’ age).
            But as vile as the patriarchy of that fundamentalist aspect of Islam is please – don’t come all High and mighty when Catholics, Anglicans, Boy Scouts and numerous other institutions that to my mind have acted almost as a ‘fence’ for paedophiles are guilty of the same offence.

          • bryan roberts says:

            margaret, I have yet to see any imputation that Jesus Christ was sexually aberrant. Even devout Muslims cannot abrogate the imputation (from their ‘scriptures’) that Muhammad was an acknowledged paedophile, and wed a seven year old, and copulated with a nine year old girl.

            If you want to defend it, go for it, but ‘cultural equivalence’ will simply not do. In 21st century Australia, raping a nine year old girl is not ‘cultural equivalence’. It is a crime, and the ‘Prophet’, if alive. would be doing serious time.

          • margaret says:

            All the more reason to be an atheist. Behaviour that was practised and ‘accepted’ in the year 590 can’t be perpetuated two thousand years later on the strength of religious adherence to books like the Qumran or the Bible.

          • bryan roberts says:

            …and what the devil is the “Australia Day Poster”?

          • bryan roberts says:

            So which of those ‘glamorous’ chicks in bedsheets represents an ‘average’ Australian, since Muslims are 2.2% of the population?

        • margaret says:

          I’m coming back to this even though it’s lost momentum because the thought occurred to me that rarely in romantic encounters, such as portrayed in novels (like Moving On) do we read of the ways the protagonists avoid pregnancy. Of course this would take the sexiness out of the scenario but imagine if neither of the protagonists used contraception and the woman became – pregnant!!!!!! My goodness that would be a plot twist – Now, they’re not married, they’ve entered the relationship on the terms of not becoming emotionally attached, the man is now either forced to rethink that or encourage the woman to have an abortion or, the woman, on the cusp of her career, decides to progress with the pregnancy and maybe become one of those ‘single mothers’ (who I think Cory disapproves of) or, to choose to terminate the pregnancy etc etc.
          See – we have a whole new and entirely different novel.
          (Maybe a more interesting, realistic one).

          • Don Aitkin says:

            Margaret, I’m sure it’s been done many times, and indeed we have an example in the wide group familiar to us: boy meets girl, boy and girl go away together, relationship ends, later girl finds boy again and gets pregnant to him (whether careless or intentional is not known), boy says he will accept paternity, goes to her country for the birth, stays there, eventually brings girl + baby back, they live together, make another baby, form a good couple and family. Yes, her professional career ends, at least to the present. First baby now in school, second only three. So many of the marriages of my peer group started with a pregnancy, or one occurred within a short time (I was married at 21, and our first baby came 13 months later). There are lots of teenage mums in rural and regional areas. It’s still happening.

          • margaret says:

            I was thinking more of novels like Margaret Drabble’s The Millstone. Your response is stuck in Don’s World.

          • margaret says:

            This is something owmen with Fifties attitudes and ywmen with same will refuse to read let alone ‘get’. So let’s just call it quits here.
            https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/may/15/the-millstone-the-crucia l-1960s-feminist-novel?

          • margaret says:

            But, here’s a man of indeterminate age who apparently likes to ‘get’ things.
            ” I grew up a man in a man’s world. It still is a man’s world and I’m still a man. Things are changing, yes, but nowhere near as fast as they ought; conditioning—and there’s no better word for it—is hard to shake off. People read for lots of different reasons but one of the main reasons to do so as far as I’m concerned is so I can, for a few hours at least, get some idea what it’s like inside someone else’s head. And there’s nothing more intriguing as far as I’m concerned that a woman’s head. I grew up in a world where I was told—and accepted based on what little evidence I had—that women were not like “us”; we’d never understand them so why bother trying? Well, I don’t know about you but I don’t like not being able to get things.”

            http://jim-murdoch.blogspot.com.au/2014/06/the-millstone.html?m=1

    • Aert Driessen says:

      What is making you so angry Nga? Ruined crops? A bad year?

    • Sheidow mike says:

      The one thing that trolls illustrate so vividly is that ignorance is hard to hide and prejudice harder still.

  • margaret says:

    “From what I have read in the media and on line, it might surprise some people to learn that in fact he is a published author. His seven books include two for children, the rest being about politics, collections of his own opinion pieces, and a book that did well in the review sections.”
    Oh well that’s enough for me – he’s the Messiah.

    • Chris Warren says:

      Books were not published by a reputable publisher, but by a counter-climate outfit – Connor Court Publishing or Conservative Leadership Foundation. There is no reference to what or where the reviews were. This is so vague it strikes me as rather odd.

  • Aert Driessen says:

    Thanks Don, an insightful piece well articulated. It says it all for me. The only point that I question is that none of this can be fixed in the short term. I think that it can. 1. Walk away from the Paris agreement and withdraw subsidies from renewable energy. Focus on energy resources which are the lowest cost (coal and gas) and exploit our natural advantage to the full; fortuitously our most energy intensive industries are relatively close to these sources of low-cost power. If minerals belong to the Crown (which they do), devise a policy that reserves a small percentage (15%?) for domestic use and export the rest for top dollars. 2. The $trillions paid to energy rent seekers et al can be redirected to health and well-targeted, sustainable welfare policies. In the longer term, walk away from all multi-lateral trade agreements and hone in on a multi-series of bilateral agreements for which both parties should see a win-win outcome. Lastly, walk away from the UN. This organization has long-ago reached its use-by date. All this requires only politicians with conviction and courage. Cory certainly has the former, and I suspect the latter as well. Long may his influence permeate our parliament. As for the major parties, the pox on both your houses.

  • Alan Gould says:

    As ever, Don, you brief us in a way that is entirely fair-minded, and the fair-minded can only hope at best to breed the fair-minded. As we see above, it also attracts the fractious and aggrieved. I’ll not pledge to vote for Cory, but if the man’s essential decency as you describe it can instil the spirit of his party, I’ll be glad if it infuses more intelligence at the conservative end of our politics than I fear dear Pauline does.

  • margaret says:

    Oh he’s such a ‘manly man’ isn’t he? Straight out of Boys’Own Annual – square jaw, the requisite height for authority – you guys are seduced by his ‘quiet thoughtful demeanour’ – he didn’t raise his voice once – I should hope not. Talk softly and carry a big stick – those Q dinner meetings are very sedate indeed.

  • Ross says:

    This man of principle.
    Turnbull donated 1.7 million of his own money to help get members of the ‘Liberal’ Party re elected.
    One assumes Bernardi had no problem with this, when he stood as a Liberal at the election, a whopping seven months ago.
    So now our man of principle has his 6 years (!) of living off the tax payer, secure.
    No messy business like … you know…actually ‘running’ on his principles. Only mugs do that. What if not enough people actually think my principles worth voting for? How can I be sure?
    Stick with the party that you know will get you re elected…and then piss off
    See you in 2022….mugs!

  • margaret says:

    Thnx Nga. I’m on the road now and listening to Recollections of a Bleeding Heart narrated by the author.
    It’s brilliant.

  • Ross says:

    “I wonder how many ‘real’ conservatives there are out there?”
    Hmmm.

  • Nga says:

    Don:

    “There is a half-trillion national debt for the parties to deal with. “

    This is hysterical nonsense. Current Australian net government debt is a small fraction of GDP and is dwarfed by the debt that existed during and after WWII. Australian net government debt (as a percentage of GDP) is also several orders of magnitude less than that of comparable countries like Canada, the UK and the USA. Check here: http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parli amentary_Library/pubs/BriefingBook44p/AustGovDebt

    On the other hand, private household debt is ~185% of disposable income, which is an historical high, and the IMF has warned it may be a problem. That is worth taking seriously.

    But even a broken clock like Don gets things right sometimes, as he does here: “But the parties are baffled by contemporary circumstances.” That’s true of political parties in Australia and elsewhere in the developed world. I think the problem resides in the dominant theories economists and therefore governments have about the economy. The last major paradigm shift in economic thinking was a response to the stagnation crisis that plagued developed economies in the 1970s. A new paradigm shift is now needed to deal with low growth, high underemployment and perhaps , high private and bank debt.

    • Don Aitkin says:

      Good to see you’re learning about the lack of need for coarse abuse.

      Now let’s try to tone down the hyperbole. That Australia has a public debt approaching $500 billion is not nonsense. It is true. To say so is not to be hysterical. It is simply to point out something that is true.

      What you might have said on the subject was that we ought not to be over-worried by the size of the public debt, even if the Government, the Opposition, the credit agencies and the commentators mostly are. And that is because… then you bring out your arguments. You might find more people read you if you do that.

      Just a thought.

      • Nga says:

        Don, the economists that I read say Australia’s net government debt is small in historical and comparative terms and it should not stop the government spending money. If the commentators you read are saying something different, you need to read a better quality of commentator. The major political like to beat each other over the head about debt in front of an economically ignorant public because it works as political theatre, not because it matters. The credit agencies are best ignored since they employ a book keeper’s mentality and a downgrade of a notch or even two in Australia’s rating would make an interest repayment difference that is not much more than a rounding error when compared to GDP.

        • Bryan Roberts says:

          “Don, the economists that I read”

          Maybe you should read more widely?

        • Don Aitkin says:

          Nga, all that you say may be true in the long term, but in the short term our governments are spending money they don’t have, passing on to future generations the interest and principal. I’ve no objection in principle to their doing that when the money is borrowed for infrastructure likely to improve the society’s economy, but to do it n order to pay salaries and transfer payments strikes me as justifiable only in the short term. Most of the business world, banks, insurances companies, credit agencies etc say the same. So does mainstream economics.
          So who is it who thinks that you can just go on borrowing indefinitely (which means that more and more of what we think of as ‘Australian’ will in the long run be owned by others) without any harm being done? And what is the basis for their hypotheses?

          • Nga says:

            Don,

            such questions can’t be satisfactorily dealt with in a blog comment. A man of your age and education should be well aware of the macroeconomic debates and the major schools of thought (neoclassical, Keynesian) and you should have at least a rough idea as to how they answer your questions differently.

            A couple of more marginal theoretical schools that you may know less about are:

            (1) the Austrians (they tend to be obsessed with gold and inflation, for instance your Australia mate Jo Nova, who occasionally posts bizarre rants about the impending hyperinflation Armageddon) and

            (2) modern monetary theory, which is a much newer theory associated with the Left but which is marginal at this point. Maybe its major claim to fame was that these folks had Bernie Sander’s ear. The Australian economist, Bill Mitchell, is a prominent proponent and theoretician for this group.

            The only point I would like to reinforce is that Australian net government was more than a dozen times greater as a percentage of GDP after WWII and there was no appreciable hysteria about it at the time and the succeeding years were Australia’s Golden Age of high growth and full employment with the Keynesian paradigm being dominant. Any theory that can’t explain the history is useless.

          • Don Aitkin says:

            Nga,

            Thanks for your contribution. I did do economics at uni, and I do know about Keynesian theory, which is now that adopted by most Western governments, and about the Austrians. MMT I don’t know. If you think it’s too hard to answer my question, then so be it, but I’m interested to know how long anyone thinks we can go on borrowing and printing money when the AUD is not a reserve currency.

            You are more or less right about debt after the WWII, but when countries are faced with annihilation debt is not a problem. And there was a sustained economic boom after 1945 until 1973. The problem today is that there is no boom, and we have been struggling since 2007 without any boom in sight. The Keynesian solutions don’t seem to be working. If we have to wait until they do, how long will that be?

          • Nga says:

            “The Keynesian solutions don’t seem to be working.”

            If you believe left leaning economists, the Gillard Keynesian stimulus helped save Australia from a recession post GFC. Right wing economists disagree. Keynesian stimulus hasn’t been used in the Eurozone or by the UK post the 2008 GFC. I haven’t followed the American situation closely although I know they made great use of QE with limited success.

            Unfortunately what one believes in economics nearly always follows what one believes in politics, even among professional economists, and it is impossible for a layperson to get a good handle on the issues involved. Any layperson who thinks he/she is an expert in economics is a fool.

          • Nga says:

            Thanks for providing that link, Margaret. I almost provided the exact same link but decided not to because I doubt Don will read it. Modern monetary theory makes sense to me but the only way to know if it really works is to put it into practice but in the current political environment that is impossible. But Trump was also impossible until he was elected POTUS so maybe this is the right time!

          • Don Aitkin says:

            Thank you, Margaret. I’ve been away and in the bush mostly for the past five days, so I’ve had little time for extra reading. (Don’t believe Vodaphone ads about how great their coverage is!)

            I have now read The Conversation, and looked for any criticism or balance. There weren’t any, so I simply Googled ‘criticisms of MMT’, and got this link, which I also read.

            https://www.quora.com/What-are-some-mainstream-criticisms-of-Modern-Mo netary-Theory

            Maybe I’m prejudiced, but the criticisms seemed to me to make more sense than the TC piece. Anyway, it’s for you, if you want it. Fair exchange.

          • margaret says:

            Um, it’s hard to know where to reply on the thread as many comments don’t have the option, but I will read the link that you sent however it seems to be answers from enthusiastic and yes, ‘knowledgeable’ in their own way – amateurs. Why would a person call themselves a money expert AND a chicken owner?

          • Nga says:

            I’m with you Margaret. Why did Don give the cold shoulder to the cantaloupe entrepreneur, the pig trotter futures salesman then nestle with the chicken farmer? All will be revealed upon his return from the bush, I guess. Until then,Don’s World will remain a mysterious place.

          • Don Aitkin says:

            Margaret, you have to go to the earliest comment on the thread that has a Reply button, which is what I’ve done here (replying to myself, apparently).

            Yes, if you ask Google to give you critiques that’s what you’ll get. And of the course The Conversation piece was from a believer. Economists don’t agree much. You’ll have to work out from your reading where you sit. For my part, MMT is not on anyone’s agenda that I can see, and I think it is OTT for the reasons given in the first critique. I could be wrong about this, but it doesn’t matter (see above).

        • JMO says:

          Nga, you ought to visit Greece one day.

  • Chris Warren says:

    Steve Keen on private debt citing 210% GDP

    https://youtu.be/zV1OgFeL4oQ?t=3193

    An increase from 180% before the GFC.

  • Malcolm says:

    “People want to hang on to what they have, and what they have earned, and they also want governments to solve problems, but without increases in taxation.” That’s not quite accurate – the issue at present is that too many people are voting for politicians who will provide more services with increases in taxation on everyone else but themselves, particularly anyone earning more than they are, and big corporations.

  • margaret says:

    “People want to hang on to what they have, and what they have earned, and they also want governments to solve problems, but without increases in taxation.” Well of course they do, for many people now I guess it’s no longer enough to be a millionaire, but how much more do billionaires need?
    https://mobile.nytimes.com/blogs/krugman/2016/12/28/greed-springs-eter nal/

  • spangled drongo says:

    Marine le Pen’s first campaign ad. After Brexit and Trump, is la France next? Bernardi has a similar philosophy:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYWnuQc5mYA

    • NameGlenM says:

      I joine the Front Nationale 5 years ago when in France. The great appeal is the rejection of Brussels and the EU and the reinstatement of the nation state .Some people may have misgivings – particularly regarding European history. Pan-Europeanism can thrive in another guise, not some modern Holy Roman Empire.

  • David says:

    Where are you dlb? After your claim that one month does not make a summer you have gone pretty quite. Anyway after a record for January more record temperatures for the East coast of Australia are rolling on into February.

    http://www.smh.com.au/environment/weather/red-hot-nsw-smashes-february -statewide-heat-records-two-days-in-a-row-20170212-gub14c.html

    • bryan roberts says:

      … and Perth has had record cold, so I guess, on average, nothing has changed.

      • David says:

        Bryan why don’t you put your statistical training to some use and calculate an average, instead of guessing.

        • bryan roberts says:

          David, why don’t you do something yourself, instead of this constant ineffectual whining that other people should. If you’ve finished Brunk, it should be an absolute doddle.

    • dlb says:

      David, I thought this thread was about Bernardi?
      Anyway I shall answer your question about the heat.
      As Bryan mentions it all sort of balances out. Take a look at this satellite anomaly map for January; there are hot areas, cold areas, and a large percentage of the globe where things are average. Unfortunately for SE Australia it is in a hot area. http://www.nsstc.uah.edu/climate/2017/january/JANUARY_2017_map.png

      The BoM have been blaming persistent strong westerly winds in the upper atmosphere for stopping the development of cyclones in the north and associated rain systems, which would cool things down. Shame they couldn’t see this coming with all their fancy computers. No doubt someone will try and link this to AGW.

      Anyway when I get a chance I shall have to download some data for a few record breaking towns, just to see how exceptional it all is?

      • David says:

        Bernardi and hot air. I think my digression is reasonable.

      • Chris Warren says:

        dlb

        I had a quick look at your map, and it certainly does not balance out to zero anomaly.

        I also followed your proposal for looking at a few sites. As an example I looked at data for Alice Springs Airport and the number of extreme heat days (40C and over) per year have increased dramatically throughout the record from 1942.

        Have you found any different?

        • dlb says:

          Chris, the map won’t balance out to zero anomaly, as the satellites have measured a modest amount of global warming over their years of operation. The baseline for the anomaly is calculated as the average between 1981 and 2010. Also the temperature peak from the last El Nino has not yet bottomed, with heat still yet to dissipate outside the tropics.

          If you go to the BoMs “Australian climate extremes – Trend maps” you will see an increase in hot and very hot days since 1940 in central Australia, as you say. However much of the east has shown only a slight increase in hot and very days with some areas, particularly NSW showing a slight decrease since 1940.

          Hot and very hot nights are a different story with substantial increases over northern Australia. If I didn’t know better I’d say northern Australia is becoming more humid.

          http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/change/

          • Chris Warren says:

            Yes

            It is interesting to dig into the Australian data, but only out of interest, The real trends of concern are still global and primarily northern hemisphere.

            I looked at Bathurst (063005) which only had 40C+ since 1940 after 2004, but there were two occasions in 1930’s. It is difficult to find BoM stations that have continuous records back to 1940.

  • Ross says:

    @dlb. Yes, back on topic…
    Bernardi was asked about Amanda Vanstones comment that Menzies deliberately ‘didn’t callthe Liberal Party a ‘conservative’ party. That he wanted a broad cross section of Australians. (And after WW2, was understandably a little wary of The far right.. Wise)
    Bernardis response?
    “Vanstone was rewriting history” (?)
    “Vanstone has always hated him!”
    “Some people are jealous of other people who exercise!”
    “But I don’t want to make personal comments. I’ll leave that to others.”
    Yup. He’s a gem, Don. A ‘real’ conservative.

  • Nga says:

    Anyone who takes Don’s obsequious nonsense about the far right Catholic ideologue, Cory Bernardi, being courteous and impressive should read Bernardi’s blog. Bernardi is a stark raving mad loon who preaches hate. When he writes about Muslims or gays, he sounds like Hitler at a Nuremburg rally. Here is a sample Cory Mussolini sorry Bernardi frothing at the mouth about rival Abrahamic religion, Islam:

    “Unlike others, many years ago I chose to fully inform myself by travelling to Western Europe with open eyes to see what was going on. I saw politicians in denial there too, ignoring the concerns of their citizens and the resultant rise of nationalist movements and political parties.

    I visited ‘enclaves’ where the rule of sovereign law had been effectively replaced with Sharia or Islamic law. I saw demonstrations involving thousands of people calling for the beheading of those who insult Islam. I met with experts and politicians who documented to me the impact on their nations.”

    http://www.corybernardi.com/denial_must_stop_islam_needs_reform

    Of course Islam is gross and has a violent history (just like its twisted sister, Christianity) but “‘enclaves’ where the rule of sovereign law had been effectively replaced with Sharia or Islamic law” ??! Even the hard right Islam hater, Daniel Pipes, has not bought that claim even though he is clearly itching to do so.

    As to terrorism, it is worth remembering that prior to the Sydney siege and the Curtis Cheng shooting, the most recent terrorist murder in Australia was perpetrated by a right wing Christian anti-abortionist:

    “…the first fatal terrorist attack in Australia this century was Peter James Knight’s attempted anti-abortion massacre in 2001.”

    https://andrewzammit.org/2016/11/01/far-right-violent-extremism-in-aus tralia-whats-new/

    Islam and Christianity are two peas in the same pod.

    • bryan roberts says:

      I suggested you might like to read more widely. From The Spectator: “Without a legal system defining women as the property of their fathers and husbands, those fathers and husbands want nothing to do with them. So women are bullied, threatened, and intimidated when they dare to exercise their newly-minted right to appear in public unescorted.” There are indeed enclaves, a fact you can verify by even a superficial reading of the international news.

      The assertion that modern Christianity and ‘modern’ Islam are culturally equivalent is simply infantile. Allah dictated the Koran back in the 7th century, and since it is literally the Word of God, its precepts can never be changed. The girls who want to wear fashionable hijabs should spend some time in a fundamentalist Muslim country, and see how they like it. They could then holiday in Alabama, and note the difference.

        • bryan roberts says:

          Ignorance is bliss.

        • bryan roberts says:

          “In August 2014, the French magazine Contemporary Values suggested that France had more than 750 areas of “lawlessness,” a.k.a. no-go zones. In a 2011 study, comprising 2,200 pages, Giles Kepel, a political scientist and specialist on Islam at the Institut Montaigne, and his colleagues conclude that these no-go zones are now becoming separate Islamic societies. In these areas, Sharia is replacing French civil law and the residents are rallying under the banner of radical Islam and violent jihad, against their fellow French citizens. “

          • Nga says:

            Gullible Bryan reads some nonsense on a nutty website, clutches his pearls, jumps up onto the table top and shreiks “Sharia”!

          • bryan roberts says:

            Here we go. nga’s quotes are all ‘authoritative’. Mine are “nutty websites”.

            LMFAO

          • spangled drongo says:

            I’m sure you could check a few reliable sources or even live the experience if you wanted to improve your education and get the facts, enge luv:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5AkAGc5nOXw

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJkFQohIKNI

          • bryan roberts says:

            As Don has pointed out to you, quite gently, I thought, your only argument is abuse.

          • Nga says:

            Poor gullible Bryan, having being called out for posting nonsense from an unnamed website that was so embarrassing that he wouldn’t even provide a link, now cowers behind Don’s apron strings.

          • Bryan Roberts says:

            nga, you’re both dumb and lazy.

            Gilles Kepel (born 30 June 1955) is a French political scientist and specialist on the Islamic and contemporary Arab world.[1][2] He is Professor at Sciences Po Paris and member of the Institut Universitaire de France. He graduated in Arabic and philosophy, with two PhDs in sociology and political science.[2] He also taught at New York University in 1994, and at Columbia University in 1995.

          • spangled drongo says:

            Enge luv, you’re a bigger blitherer than chrissie.

            When you have walked the walk, get back to us.

          • bryan roberts says:

            nga, may I suggest that you utilise the services of your local library, whose staff will be delighted to assist you.

          • Nga says:

            OK, Bryan, — snip — you —snip— attributed those ideas to Gilles Kepel. I’ve spent a good two hours reading everything I can find on the Web that is written by Gilles Kepel and he never makes such a ridiculous and unnuanced claim — [though I haven’t read the 2000+ page report you referred to, or if I did, I read it in under two hours]. France has a big problem with poorly integrated Muslims who are concentrated in urban areas with high rates of unemployment. Drug dealers are well organised and have a great deal of power in these areas but (1) Cory Bernardi’s claim that France has “‘enclaves’ where the rule of sovereign law had been effectively replaced with Sharia or Islamic law” is — snip — [something I don’t agree with] and (2) your claim that the French academic, Gilles Kepel, backs up Bernardi’s claim is — snip — also [something I don’t agree with] [and you didn’t say Kepel was backing up Bernardi’s claims anyway, but I’m sure you must have meant it].

            I am not fond of Islam, in fact I despise it. I would like to cut Muslim immigration to Australia to a mere trickle, mainly because Muslim birth rates are high and I do not want Muslims to be any more than ~2% of the Australian population. But I hate — snip — [things I don’t agree with] and those who [say those things] even more.

            Moderator: It is hard to follow this commenter, but I’ve done my best.

          • bryan roberts says:

            “I’ve spent a good two hours reading everything I can find on the Web that is written by Gilles Kepel and he never makes such a ridiculous and unnuanced claim”

            nga, I gave you the quote, as published in a French magazine. If you don’t like it, lift up your skirts and huff off.

  • margaret says:

    Don you wrote in your boy meets girl scenario:
    “Later girl finds boy again and gets pregnant to him (whether careless or intentional it is not known) …”
    For that I have no words.
    Yes, just one – gobsmacking.

  • David says:

    We now have five divisions in the Australian Right (Liberals, Nationals, LNP in Queensland, Cory’s Conservatives & One Nation), the unorchestrated chaos of Brexit in the UK and now Trump in the United States. The Right used to pride themselves on their ability to deliver sober & rational decision making. Turnbull and May appear reasonable but have lunatics in their ranks. The US on the other hand is now run by a lunatic.

    • Ross says:

      Not pretty, is it, Margaret?
      Ugly nutters, attract ugly nutters.
      Take consolation that President Manchilds wave appears to have broken, and is now receding back into what ever sewer coughed it up.
      But I have to admit, it’s happening a little faster than even I thought.
      Apparently, Bernardi was inspired by Trump.
      ‘What did the President know, and when did he know it?’
      I suspect we’ll be hearing that phrase quite a bit, now.

    • margaret says:

      Many of my comments on this essay should be duplicated on comments on the essay Mating, The Core of it All.

  • whyisitso says:

    Don, I know you believe in free speech and are reluctant to ban Margaret. But perhaps you could consider placing a limit of three comments per post on her. Her sheer silliness gets rather tiring.

    • margaret says:

      I’d like to be banned or at the very least reprimanded so that I can throw a hissy fit. Comment one on Friday Feb 17.

    • spangled drongo says:

      But at least marg has a sense of humour.

    • PeterD says:

      Free speech, religious fundamentalists, climate, weather, factions and break-away elements etc are topics well worth discussing and most people like to engage with such ideas in a respectful way in e-discussions. I like D.H. Lawrence’s phrase ‘say it strong and say it hot’ where contrasting perspectives can be sharp.

      During the week, perhaps for the fourth time, I attended Question Time and was appalled by the experience. I may have seen it on television on twenty occasions. I understand the concept of politics as theatre, throwing red meat, establishing and maintaining political dominance etc.I looked across and saw 60+ school children and my guests were from the US: they were completely disillusioned. Stephen Smith, the Speaker, is doing his best but Christopher Pyne, the Leader of Government Business I think, is a wretched, rash, intruding fool whose constant interjections set a miserable tenor for discussion. There would be value in sending him out every day as soon as he opens his mouth inappropriately. Even slow learners can get the picture.

      This point that whyisitso raises about Margaret’s contributions on these forums – and indeed it is not just her – is another case in point.

      Margaret at times expresses some substantial and incisive views that may be unpopular but have a ring of truth about them. Her comments about religious reps being a fence for pedophiles is an example.

      At one stage, Don, you posted a document that outlined valid and invalid arguments, faulty reasoning, the need for respect etc.

      There is a certain pattern to some of Margaret’s statements:

      “you guys are seduced….”
      “ourmen with Fifties attitudes….”
      those named Peter – “non understanding of what it’s like to be a woman”

      I used to teach in a high school and generalisations like these are easily recognised by lower secondary students. Of course, with Margaret – and this may be a generalisation – if you disagree with her you are quickly dismissed as a ‘bristling male”; clearly, there are no bristling females. Someone made the observation that ‘ideology becomes fatiguing’.

      Gratuitous insults such as ‘Don’s world’ are also glib and unnecessary lines.

      I have had quite a number of my intemperate postings rejected in fora on the ABC, ‘The Guardian’ and ‘The Australian’ so I am not claiming to be as pure as the driven snow.

      When I was in Question Time and when I look at these discussion, there are many critical ideas that are being discussed and that’s why people make postings. But the lack of respect and courtesy for other viewpoints drives the uncommitted away.

      I am in favour of free speech but a simple strategy, when a posting which contains unnecessary offence, generalisations etc is to simply ask for a resubmit. There is a term called ‘netiquette’ and many sites now employ a moderator. I understand, from your point of view, Don, when you have many other commitments and calls on your time, that this is simply unsustainable but maybe a set of guidelines could be agreed upon and some of your contributors could rotate for a month the role of being a moderator.

      • Ross says:

        Looks like the knives are out for poor Margaret.
        The conservatives world, shrinks by the day.
        Stupid c….nts.
        (Thanks, Bryan. X.)

      • Don Aitkin says:

        Thanks, Peter. I am conscious that the number of comments made here is not a necessary sign of popularity. And I know there are readers who won’t comment because of the hostility they experience here. It is reminiscent of The Conversation, which I left for the same reason. I’ve trashed a comment or two that were nothing more than insult + coarseness, and there is rule about no more than three comments a day. But I’m usually busy, and sometimes not at my desk, so policing the rule is difficult.

        I’ll think further about another moderator. Many thanks.

        • Nga says:

          Don, I am perfectly happy to be entirely civil if you apply your rules equally to Bryan, Spangled Drongo, Neville and so on. For whatever reason, you let these men engage in a torrent of vile abuse, much of which gets directed at Margaret. Of course, you should set an example by behaving like a grownup, thus refraining from claiming anyone who dares to disagree with your amateur ramblings is a climate bothering alarmist and all the other nonsense you come out with. You could also demonstrate an elementary level of maturity by not filing everything to do with climate science under the label “religion”. As I’ve said previously, you are the architect of the poor culture that exists on this forum. The buck stops with you.

          • Don Aitkin says:

            To use one of your phrases, Nga, your comment is ‘hysterical nonsense’. You are the only one who has used coarse abuse. If you don’t know what I mean, then re-read some of your comments. Learn to engage in civil and constructive discussion, or go somewhere else. There is now a moderator for you, and anyone else who engages in insults and coarseness.

            I say this to all commenters. Please read Peter D’s comments above. Could you please refrain from insults and denigration of those with whom you disagree.

          • NameGlenM says:

            You’re impossible. Do you live in a shoe box perchance?

        • Ross says:

          Scared of the hostility? Really??
          I can’t recall any hostility directed at David…Margaret…Nga…Chris Warren……… Me?
          Hostility?
          Oh Don.

        • David says:

          I do not know what you censor but I think all things considered debate on this site is pretty well behaved.

      • David says:

        In my opinion Margaret is an ornament to this site! We are lucky to have her.

      • NameGlenM says:

        I would be in favour of Pyne being defenestrated by Bernardi; highest tower in Adelaide preferably. A good man, to be sure is Cory.

  • Nga says:

    From Bryan Roberts just on this thread:

    -nga, you’re both dumb and lazy.
    -It never stops, you dummy
    -you’ve established yourself as the village idiot

    Don, you apply different rules to different commenters based on whether they agree with your diatribes/essays.

    • bryan roberts says:

      1. “nga, you’re both dumb and lazy.”
      You did not bother consider the comment, and could not be bothered to find out for yourself who Kepel was or what were his qualifications. It took a fraction of a second on Google.
      2. “It never stops, you dummy”
      Anyone who thinks life stops and starts is biologically ignorant and intellectually deficient.
      3. “you’ve established yourself as the village idiot”
      Come on! Quote: “Is a cancer cell alive” ROFLMFAO

      I’m regularly sarcastic, sometimes rude, occasionally offensive, but rarely abusive. I’ve not broken a screen yet, but sometimes it’s been a close call.

    • David says:

      Don, NGA, raises a good point. I think you are also think you are inconsistent in your rulings. Bryan-Nev-SD-Whyisitso, get a lot more leniency when it comes to “dishing” it out. But they have glass jaws when NGA gives a bit back. I have never seen such a bunch of “girly-men”.

  • Nga says:

    Oh I see, you now have a so-called moderator adding comments into my text such as:

    [though I haven’t read the 2000+ page report you referred to, or if I did, I read it in under two hours]

    [and you didn’t say Kepel was backing up Bernardi’s claims anyway, but I’m sure you must have meant it]

    I give up. You win. No more comments from me. I’ll leave you and the men folk to engage in your secret old white men’s business.

    • bryan roberts says:

      If this little conspiracy theory is addressed to me, you are (unapologetically) a lunatic.

    • margaret says:

      I’ve written some silly, naive, unconsidered, biased, angry comments with the odd semi deleted expletive and no doubt that would continue, me being the human being I am. I’ve also been called a troll, vicious, (!!! I don’t think so), and been sent off with ‘good riddance’ when I’ve left previously.

      I returned like the proverbial bad penny and I’m probably one of the only commenters who has read a novel by Don Aitkin (that wasn’t easy but I’m a novel reader so I gave it a go). I bristle, I prickle, I have a thin-skin, I’m quirky and I have a fully functional bullshit detector (that made the novel especially hard reading for a woman).

      Ah, all those qualities you shall be deprived of (yes, I know – good riddance), because that is really stupid applying a ‘moderator’ to that comment of Nga’s as an example of what could happen to those who step over the line (well, those who aren’t favoured). So – Solidarity.
      Comment three
      February 17th

      • PeterD says:

        Hi Margaret. Moderation does not extract your spirit or character. Say it strong and say it hot. But sensitivity to others is worthwhile. I have had about 15 of my postings moderated but a resubmit was possible – rephrasing etc I railed and complained but it was not the end of the world. I still post to ‘The Guardian’. Check out their community guidelines.

      • bryan roberts says:

        margaret, I was awake last night, and read all of nga’s (original) comments. The one in question was not ‘edited’.

        • bryan roberts says:

          … and if she claims it was, then it was ‘edited’ before publication on this site. If that was the case, then Don is using her as a patsy, and, honestly, how likely is that? He’s a novelist. He could invent someone and have mutually satisfying conversations with himself. I just doubt he would invent someone as demonstrably silly and irrational as nga.

      • bryan roberts says:

        Don, I have a really simple suggestion. Restrict comments strictly to the subject of the essay, and allow only three comments per person. Wisecracks, snide comments reduce their allowance. If people have thoughtful comments, they won’t require more than one response.

        It may require a small degree of moderation, like one, two three, click. They don’t contribute, so switch ’em off.

      • Ross says:

        Bless you, Margaret. A ray of humanity, amongst the darkness.

  • Don Aitkin says:

    Nga simply doesn’t get it. So let me say it once again. This is a forum for discussion. It is not a place where people can freely use coarse and abusive language. If you can’t say what you want to say without using the language of the gutter, don’t comment at all. I would prefer that commenters refrained from insults and denigrating language. It puts others off, and reduces the appeal of the website. There are times when I feel I ought to end what seems to me a wrangle that has lost its sense, such as the continuing one between Chris and SD. If people don’t understand the point you are making, saying it again and again isn’t going to work. Making clever remarks in a snide way doesn’t help either.

    Frankly, I don’t know what to do. I have a lot of work to do in my private life, and trying to keep the website civil is getting beyond me. I don’t have to keep it going, and I’m think of simply ending it. I have other options to express myself.

    • whyisitso says:

      Don, most of your readers really enjoy reading your essays. I hope you don’t terminate it. Wouldn’t it be preferable to not have a comments facility? They don’t add a lot to what is a very interesting set of readings from you.

      • Ross says:

        @whisitso
        If this is an issue for you, surely the solution is to read the articles, and not the comment section?
        Problem solved. No censorship required.
        People still get a say. You still get to enjoy Don’s opinions.

      • bryan roberts says:

        I really don’t know what the problem is. As Don has said often enough, it’s his website, and he can run it as he pleases. He could simply delete all comments that were off-topic, which would remove about eighty percent of the nuisances. Since he frequently interacts with the pests, I’m inclined to think that he sometimes enjoys them.

        Going by the ‘Guides to Contributors’, most of the major blog sites have this problem, but none have shut down solely because of it. If the pests aren’t published, they go away.

  • David says:

    At least NGA’s thought processes are ordered. and coherent, which is more than can be said for some of the other regular contributors on this site.

  • PW1202 says:

    Don, forget the FREEDOM OF SPEECH thing – its bullshit. The term FREEDOM OF DECENT SPEECH should be the term. What is DECENT ? Among other things, it is not calling each other bastards and other derogatories.

    Forget the people who, on this blog, display their weaknesses. Nga seems to be devoid of decency, and is throwing banana skins in front of you, waiting for a good laugh at your demise.

    Margaret seems to have suffered at the hands of a male somewhere in her life, and her misandric (is that a word ?) ramblings demonstrate that. I think Margaret should start her own blog (MISANDRY WITHOUT BOUNDARIES or THE MISANDRY BUGLE or THE MISANDRIST’S GUIDE TO THE UNIVERSE) where she can MISAND all day long.

    Margaret even has a dislike of height – “the requisite height for authority” – perhaps we need dwarfs running for the Margaret Misandric Dwarf Party.

    Don, are you a man or mouse ? (does that explain your craving for cheese ?) Get rid of these malcontents on your blog. Simply block them, and we will be relieved, and we can get back to some decent reading.

  • Don Aitkin says:

    PW, I don’t agree with you. I am a strong supporter of freedom of speech. We only learn from error, and the comment I get are often most useful. Putting my ideas out for scrutiny is what I used to do when I was an academic. I had twenty and more years of doing that. The website is a new possibility for doing the same. What’s more, I have had a readership for fifty years, and I enjoy the relationship.

    The problem is that there is little cohesion in what is said here. So far there have been nearly 150 comments on the piece about Bernardi’s decision to leave the Liberal Party, a piece of real news that caused me to find out much more about the man. Only 20 per cent of the comments have been about that event or the man. Another 20 per cent were about other issues altogether — climate, Muslims etc. Another 40 per cent were comments on other comments. The rest were at the end, about this issue, and what ought to be the case on the website.

    I will think about it over the weekend.

    • bryan roberts says:

      Don, freedom of speech is one thing; tolerance of nonsense is quite another.

    • PW1202 says:

      Don, this is The Australians comment posting policy. Seems perfectly sensible to me.

      “Reader comments on this site are moderated before publication to promote lively and civil debate. We encourage your comments but submitting one does not guarantee publication. We publish hundreds of comments daily, and if a comment is rejected it is likely because it does not meet with our comment guidelines, which you can read here. No correspondence will be entered into if a comment is declined.”

  • Chris Warren says:

    PW1202

    ” its bullshit. ”

    This does not help. Do not be too surprised if you are repaid in your own coin.

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