Australia… banana republic… and it’s open for business


(Source: Sydney Morning Herald,  Pat Campbell)

The cartoon above reminds us not to forget the nobbling of the NBN to benefit Foxtel, and then nobbling downloaders to benefit Foxtel’s programming investments.

Foxtel is the main source of profit for Murdoch’s Australian operation. If it folds, then the Old Man will be humiliated in front of the Gnomes of New York who refused to back his own business model for News Corp. They want to make some money, not indulge Rupert’s dynasty fantasy.

The Gnomes hived off the newspapers around the world, and kept the profitable parts – mostly movies and entertainment – separate… everywhere except in Australia, where pay TV was bundled in with the newspapers to prop them up.

Australia is special for Murdoch. It’s his “home ground”, where he was spawned. He still thinks he can keep control of it and use it as a redoubt to marshall his forces under a friendly government, once again to strike out at the world and take it by storm.

I’ve always thought Foxtel was the key business for Murdoch. So much damage has been wrought on our local polity, our governance, our technological infrastructure, our wallets and our freedoms to prop it up. Even the ABC has been nobbled: they lost Australia TV, and lost access to the BBC when Murdoch gazumped them with big money.

But still Foxtel stubbornly refuses to grow. Increases in sales are desultory. The business model of giving sham value – hundreds of channels full of rubbish – is failing. Packages abound. If you have Foxtel and want to quit, you get badgered by them with better and more generous deals offered (my own personal experience). You have to be determined to resist.

The Foxtel technology is antiquated: a proprietary physical cable, a set-top box, a smart card. It’s too hardware-based. These limitations mean that if a new customer wants a Foxtel connection a gang of workers has to come out to your property with back hoes and shovels to dig a trench. Someone has to pay for that.

Soon it will be us.

Why us? Because Murdoch’s Foxtel HFC cable is due to become part of Turnbull’s “NBN”. When a new HFC cable is installed, we – the taxpayers – will pay part or all of the cost, relieving Murdoch of one of the greatest cash drains in his operation.

Telstra, of course has a big share in Foxtel, so I guess they won’t be complaining either. Telstra already uses the HFC cable for internet… that’s how I get mine, by using the old Foxtel connection only for data. One of my greatest pleasures is to use Murdoch’s battered wire – the one HE paid to install, back in the early days of 2001 – to download iView programs and YouTubes when the broadcast TV menu is just too awful to watch (Psychic TV – online charlatans reading your tarots – can be depressing at times)

We are being stitched up. The ABC will be emasculated, punters will pay more for services they don’t want. All so the Old Man can thumb his nose at New York, who said he’d never make the Australian territory pay. They didn’t reckon on his determination to buy a country and its government.

Unfortunately for Murdoch, he is old. And his kids, the ones he’s anointed to run his businesses are dopey. The only one he hasn’t given the nod to, Elisabeth, the smart one, has been side-lined. There is hope.

The government he has entrusted to shore up his local empire is dopey as well, and hated. They’ve turned on everyone who voted for them – pensioners, disabled, foolish educators who believed that “Unity Ticket” crap, even more idiotic technocrats who didn’t believe Turnbull would actually “destroy the NBN”.

But not all supporters are voters, or more accurately have large numbers of votes at their disposal. They have money instead. Big Business, short on votes, but long on money and ability to donate, thought Murdoch’s Australia would be a land of milk and honey. It was expected that confidence and prosperity would return, literally overnight after the election. I can still remember Ray Hadley confidently predicting that the shops would “be full tomorrow”, the day after the Liberals wiped out Labor in Western Sydney. Reality has superseded that expectation (and Labor didn’t get wiped out).

There now seems to be a definite chance that it’s going to turn into a train wreck, as the train of spin meets the brick wall of reality. Things aren’t going too well.

Eventually the public will have to choose between the naive, “Bread and circuses” Reality TV show that’s been provided for their tittilation – Gillard scandals, Rudd Restorations, rats whiskers on the Speaker, hookers, 20 year old “scandals”, “Budget Emergencies” and the like – and the brutal facts of the Budget that takes away their entitlements (yes… entitlements) and replaces them with the Law Of The Jungle, Abbott and Murdoch’s jungle.

The “Budget Emergency” will have to be discarded in the minds of the punters, if for nothing else, then just for self-preservation. Without a “Budget Emergency” it becomes permissible to to start whingeing about your lot in life without that nagging guilt of going against the national interest. It’ll go, and along with it, the whole basis of the Budget and the government’s pitch for legitimacy.

In the last week I’ve been around to my suppliers where last year, in some cases, my expressed support for the Gillard government was met with actual open-mouthed shock. The general opinion of me was “Get his money quick. He’s mad.”

Now, not so much. It’s starting in the warehouses, and moving up into the sales offices. People are openly berating the government, looking for fault. You can’t find a lot of punters who admit they voted for Abbott’s mob. Many of these did, of course, and may vote for him again, but right now they’re going with the mob in condemning him. It’s the fashionable thing.

After “fashion” comes “mindset”. Then comes “common wisdom”.

People are sick of eternal struggle. They’re sick of politics and stress. They want to relax and enjoy the benefits of this great country they live in, without being hectored, divided into factions and demographics, and then encouraged to disparage, heckle or pick on each other.

Australia is not a hot-headed country. We’re more laid back about our politics. We like to be “relaxed and comfortable”. Culture wars, seething anger, envy, polemics, lies, spin, scandals and the rest are fun while they last, but we’re tired now.

We want our government to deliver, but in many cases the promises have been broken, and in others the “hundreds of policies” that we were promised were “costed and ready” haven’t got past the back-of-the-envelope stage, pending a thorough vetting by the warriors of the right, for ideological purity.

Australia is small enough for a few players to control. Media moguls, miners, a few banks and two supermarket chains take up far too much of our time and soak up far too much of our disposable income. Our exports are few. We are the world’s consumers. The few who are not involved in this handful of enterprises sell each other real estate and do each others laundry. Scientific research is becoming a secondary, marginal occupation. The physical reality of Climate Change is denied and ridiculed. It is still a “Debate” here, as it is almost nowhere else in the world. Our IT infrastructure is third rate, soon to become fourth or fifth rate, the better to keep antiquated delivery systems artificially current.

We are controlled by a cabal of niche business operators who think they pays us too much for too little work, and who can still buy whole governments to do their bidding… changing laws to benefit them, crushing those who oppose them, suing, arresting and trying – or investigating via Royal Commissions – those who are in their way.

If one of our main exports was bananas it would be perfect. But bananas – and most of our other agricultural produce – were dealt out of the last two “Free” trade agreements we have entered into.

Nevertheless, the description “Banana Republic” still applies. Wikipedia tells us:

Banana republic is a political science term for a politically unstable country, whose economy is largely dependent on exporting a limited-resource product, e.g. bananas. It typically has stratified social classes, including a large, impoverished working class and a ruling plutocracy of business, political, and military elites.[1] This politico-economic oligarchy controls the primary-sector productions to exploit the country’s economy.[2]

Yes, even “political instability” applies, unless you want to argue that the last election, and the media-legal trail of destruction leading up to it, wasn’t a stitched-up farce.

Yep, “banana republic” does it for me. But what are we going to DO about it?

545 thoughts on “Australia… banana republic… and it’s open for business

  1. CK

    Wishing your wife the best of luck with her art. Tossing a coin sounds good. Our numbers from last week may be luckier this week. 🙂

  2. 2gravel

    A usb charger is a device for charging phones and other small battery operated devices via your computer, they can also be used with an adapter to charge via a wall socket.

  3. CK,
    I think you have great solution there and I’m sure everyone will be happy with the same numbers as they had last week. No reason at all why you should have to ‘catch up’ – relax instead and just dish out the same numbers.

    Yes, I do see what you see as a dilemma. I think you should talk to your son and maybe he can provide you with an account into which you can deposit your squirrilings? That way you won’t be enriching the bank, your deposits will earn interest which will save you a few dollars over the term of the loan. I’m sure your son will be reluctant but will co-operate to ease his mother’s mind. (and his mother won’t be held to any set amount so her financial struggles will be lessened when the bills come in).

  4. gravel

    If your son doesn’t need the money you owe him urgently, it’s best to pay the house off. So, when you pass away, the house will be paid off or close to being paid off – a great gift to your son. Not paying your son back immediately is an investment. Meaning he’ll gain more from your house being paid off than from the return of the loan.

  5. heres something quirky from my investigations into my ancestors. I am pretty sure one line started with a convict on the famous ‘women’s ship’ of 1790. On that ship was an 11 year old girl (she is not my ancestor though) whose sentence of death for stealing clothes was commuted to 7 years transportation. When she died as an old woman in NSW she had 300 living relatives. One of her descendents was FPM Kevin Rudd,

    My ancestor was 17 and transported for seven years for stealing clothes she said had been given to her by the woman she was staying with. I looked at the ships register, The women ranged from some who stole small items like handkerchiefs through to highway-robbery and assault. The ship arrived with only five deaths and over 200 healthy women and one baby born on the voyage, The ship was kept clean and fumigated, the rations given out properly, they stopped to take on food and alcohol and male visitors and the women had the run of the deck,. The officers did not try to control them. The opposite actually, 😆
    Apparently it was one big party from start to finish.

    My ancestor and K Rudd’s ancestor spent 305 days together on that ship. Weird eh?

  6. I have a USB charger. I bought it from Dick Smiths or something. They are very useful when your phone chews battery power.

  7. Gravel2
    There seems to be 2 issues. The first is security of your house. You don’t want mortgage stress, so I’d be putting as much back into repayments while interest rates are low. That allows you flexibility to draw down on the extra repayments in case of emergencies. The returns you get from putting money into mortgage repayments is better than you’d get by any other means. It’s effectively about 6% tax free.

    The other issue is your son’s loan to you. If you make it clear that he will be the beneficiary in your will, the house is essentially a long-term investment for him, with he as a partial contributor to the equity by virtue of his loan to you.

    In essence, he’s a part-owner with you. Unless he needs the cash, he should therefore see his loan as an investment which will secure his own future. This is how the 1%-ers pass down their wealth through the generations – by inheritance..

  8. puffy
    Well fancy that!

    My many tmes great grandmother was also on that ship. She was a prostitute and hooked up with an officer on the ship, as many of the women did, and became pregnant. She gave birth to a girl just after arriving in Sydney. She was sent to Norfolk Island where she met my many times great grandfather, a sailor, they married and had a stack of kids. He adopted the – er – illegitimate child.

    So your ancestor, my ancestor and Kruddy’s ancestor were fellow travellers. That voyage sounds like an absolute pleasure cruise and it took a lot, lot longer than a ‘normal’ trip. Have you read ‘The Floating Brothel’ by Sian Rees? It’s a good account of the voyage.

  9. [A usb charger is a device for charging phones and other small battery operated devices via your computer, they can also be used with an adapter to charge via a wall socket.]

    From the photo provided in the SMH the type of “USB Chargers” they were referring to was of the “plug-pack” variety. You plug it into the mains and it outputs a reduced voltage via an embedded USB port on the case of the device.

    You then plug your phone or iPod (whatever listening device) into it to save on batteries. You play music while the playback device is on charge.

    If the USB Charger shorts out or other wise electrically malfunctions (be due to a fault, or using it beyond its rating) the danger is that it could melt down and short 240V direct to the playback device and hence to the ear phones, and hence to your actual ears if the earphones melt down as a result.

    If that happens you get a mains electricity belt – the full 240V – right through your brain or, if not that, down through your neck and chest/heart to ground (your feet resting on the floor). You wouldn’t stand a chance.

    There was some mention of laptops being involved on ABC Radio this morning, but I think they got it wrong. As far as I know it’s impossible to charge a laptop via its USB port. USB ports can be used for data inputs, of course, but not power/charging inputs (prepares to be vociferously corrected).

  10. Utter bastards, this government, complete and utter bastards. Why do the members of this government hate workers, the disadvantaged and the vulnerable so much? What the frack is wrong with them? You would not be able to find one drop of decency,compassion or humanity in any of them. I have never seen a group so despicable.

    Parliament House cleaners thought their pay was safe when Labor successfully got some amendments thorugh the senate yesterday. Turns out they were wrong. Abetz indulged in some shifty tactics to get around the legislation. I suppose he and Abbott and the boys had a good group hug and a couple of glasses of bubbly to celebrate their cleverness.

    Bring on the tumbrils, this mob should be sent to the guillotine ASAP.

    Cleaners lose pay in Eric Abetz tactic

    Labor and unions said the amendments were a victory for commonwealth cleaners who would have had their minimum rate of pay cut from $22.02 an hour to $17.49 an hour.

    But a spokesman for Senator Abetz revealed last night that the minister “signed an instrument revoking the guidelines” before the bill passed the parliament yesterday.

    “This reflects the government’s commitment to revoking the cleaning services guidelines by July 1,’’ the spokesman said.

    If the minister’s action results in the scrapping of the guidelines, as Senator Abetz claimed, unions and the ALP are likely to seek legal advice on the move, and whether it can be subject to challenge.

  11. Erica could be bound for the High Court then.

    Just Erica bound would do me.

    Then the chaff bag, the motor cruiser, a trip out through Sydney Heads, and an Early Kooka tied to the ankles &etc. (youse know the rest).

    Or perhaps a dose of what Uncle Otto used to dole out to “undesirables”?

  12. leonetwo

    My lot were part of a bunch of Nova Scotians that sailed to Adelaide, where they sold their ship, then went to Melbourne with the intention of settling . But the gold rush at Ballarat had kicked off and the leader of the group ,decided that Melbourne was in fact “Sodom and Gomorrah” and the “end days are upon us” 🙂 . Goodness knows what he would have thought of Sydney ! They bought another ship and sailed off to NZ . where the rest followed to found the settlement of Waipu.

    Remarkable bunch those Nova Scotians,they built their own ships ,about 6 of them , then sailed to the other side of the world . They were pretty keen to leave as one ship was wrecked in a storm on the east coast of the US and they just went back and built another ship which dad made it to NZ.

  13. Thank everyone on their input, will chew it all over.

    With the USB, I asked that question because of the poor way it was reported, bloody msm!!!!

  14. I use my usb charger to recharge my phone on the run. I would not use it to listen to music via device via ear plugs. But who knows what youth do, (getting old!). Yes, you can charge the device using the usb port of the laptop, though how one would get enough charge from a laptop to zap oneself is beyond me,

    I do not understand how this could have happened unless it was, as BB suggested, plugged into the wall and the phone at the same time.

  15. on the caveat that I might find a flaw in my research. There is a name change which seems to have come from a previous marriage by one of the female ancestors, the marriage records support the link but I need more anecdotal backup to be happy about it. (typical researcher, never being sure!)

  16. a female descendent of the norfolk mob married a guy who fell off the perch after only six years then married my ggg?father so the names did not match until I found the death and remarriage links,

  17. I paid $70 for my charger at Dick Smiths or similar, I never use my phone when plugged in to the wall.

  18. The output voltage of a USB connection is regulated to 5 volts DC (direct current). The wall unit USB charger would take the 240 volts AC (alternating current) and it would go into the primary side of a transformer and stepped down to about 6 to 8 volts AC. This secondary volt is then rectified to DC and put through smoothing circuits to get a steady voltage of 5. The power output is quite small about 2 to 3 watts.

    For this person to be electrocuted the 240 volts has jumped from the primary side to the secondary side of the transformer. If she had a Safety Switch (Earth leakage device) it would have most probably have detected the fault straight away and shut the power down.

  19. leonetwo

    You many g granma must have been a hard lass. Norfolk Island was where “recalcitrant” convicts were sent for special treatment .

  20. KK
    It was the soldier who got sent there for some reason, probably nicked some rum or belted an officer or tied his shoelace the wrong way. He was sentenced to 300 lashes but they stopped at 150.

  21. I imagine there is a record of his offence somewhere in the records, or maybe a Tory just wanted some Sunday afternoon entertainment and ran out of convicts to torment.

  22. puffy
    If your family goes back to the early days of settlement on the Hawkesbury River then we could well be related. My lot went there after they left Norfolk Island around 1798.

  23. Leone
    I am not sure yet. i have only just started. But a Lion and a Dragon – good fit.

  24. On my mothers grandfathers side (Scots) the family were traced back to Kenneth III of Scotland. They came to Australia as free settlers and settled in the Armidale area (nsw) – that area was referred to “Scots Corner”.
    Grandmother did the wrong thing and fell for an Irish Catholic and was immediately ostracised – all attempts to find anything about these Irish Catholics resulted in nothing except that they apparently had settled in Gippsland, Vic.

  25. Speaking of early settlers, and Australian history … I sometimes get a feeling that we are watching a return of the Rum Corps affair.
    Mostly because from what is reported in the MSM and those blogs/websites that I frequent that comment on the same, seem to be suggesting that the ‘my way/highway’ myths of what happened back in 1808 and the family myths that may have been handed down since then amongst the influential families of Old Sydney Town could be influencing the “right-mindedness” of all those involved.

    I also think that a country often behaves in ways influenced by the founding myths it tells its children (e.g. why the US seems to like guns so much) and those myths make it easier for the unscrupulous to manipulate those who only know the myths.
    If so, what do you think are the myths that the Liberal/National Parties are operating from.

    PS – for a modern myth on the workings of politics, take a look at Babylon 5 particularly the second season when the Shadows start appearing

  26. CK,

    I’m ba-a-ack too (from a haircut) so shall start putting the post together.

  27. Friday Afternoon giggle.

    An old station hand named Billy was overseeing his herd in a remote pasture in the outback when suddenly a brand-new BMW advanced toward him out of a cloud of dust.

    The driver, a young man in a Brioni® suit, Gucci® shoes, RayBan® sunglasses and YSL® tie, leaned out the window and asked the old man,
    “If I tell you exactly how many cows and calves you have in your herd, will you give me a calf?”

    Billy looks at the young man, who obviously is a yuppie, then looks at his peacefully grazing herd and calmly answers, “Sure, why not?”

    The yuppie parks his car, whips out his Dell® notebook computer, connects it to his Cingular RAZR V3® cell phone, and surfs to a NASA page on the Internet, where he calls up a GPS satellite to get an exact fix on his location which he then feeds to another NASA satellite that scans the area in an ultra-high-resolution photo.

    The yuppie then opens the digital photo in Adobe Photoshop® and exports it to an image processing facility in Hamburg, Germany …..

    Within seconds, he receives an email on his Palm Pilot® that the image has been processed and the data stored. He then accesses an MS-SQL® database through an ODBC connected Excel® spread sheet with email on his Blackberry® and, after a few minutes, receives a response.

    Finally, he prints out a full-colour, 150-page report on his hi-tech, miniaturized HP LaserJet® printer, turns to Billy and says,
    “You have exactly 1,586 cows and calves.”

    “That’s right. Well, you’ll be helpin yourself to one of me calves, then, since you won it fair en square.”
    says Billy.

    He watches the smartly dressed yuppie select one of the animals and looks on with amusement as the man gingerly picks it up & stuffs it into the boot of his car.

    As the yuppie is carefully brushing the dust & hair off his suit, Billy says,
    “Hey, if I can tell you exactly what work you do & where you come from, will you give me back my calf?”

    The yuppie thinks about it for a second, wondering what this wrinkled up dirt encrusted uneducated old man could possibly know?
    He grins and then says,
    “Okay, old fella, why not? I’m a believer in fair play.”

    “You’re a politician & you work in Canberra .”
    says the old timer.

    “Wow! That’s correct,”
    says the yuppie,
    “but, tell me how on earth did you guess that?”

    “No guessing required.”
    answered Billy
    “You showed up here even though nobody called you; you want to get paid for an answer I already knew,
    to a question I never asked.
    You used millions of dollars worth of equipment trying to show me how much smarter than me you are;
    and you don’t know a thing about how working people make a living –
    or about cows, for that matter.
    This is a herd of sheep.

    Now give me back my dog.”

  28. A link from the Lowy to yet another fruitcake idea from the CIA – how surprising.

    Finally, from the Department of Too Strange for Fiction: the CIA apparently hatched a plan to make and distribute demonic-faced Osama Bin Ladin action figures, presumably to scare children and their parents off of the Al Qaida brand.

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