In a recent parliamentary session opposition leader Tony Abbott joked that it was to be hoped that the roll-out of the "set-top" box scheme would not be delivered by the same people who rolled-out the "housing insulation scheme". His humour did not raise many laughs from the government benches. Communications and broadband minister, Senator Conroy refuted this in a subsequent radio interview which went considerably longer than a ten second sound bite. He pointed out that the scheme involved not just provision of set-top boxes for pensioners and the infirmed but included installation and adjustment or replacement of the antenna. He also claimed that the opposition had previously voted in favour of just such a scheme. In a later interview, Senator Conroy gave us a run-down on the NBN and costings regarding the agreement with Telstra.
Overall Senator Conroy is a smooth operator, who can sound reasonable and well-informed. And as long as he doesn't mention Internet Filtering, your humble blogger quite likes the cut of his jib.
In a radio news item, your humble blogger heard Malcolm Turnbull, former opposition leader and current communications spokesman, express the opinion that he "sees merit" in the carbon tax. According to him ... "With a carbon tax, you know what price carbon is". This view differs somewhat from his leader, Tony Abbott, who considers it a great big new tax that will without question destroy the Australian economy, democracy as we know it and plunge the world into another dark age.
Of course the carbon tax is one thing that Tony Abbott is resolutely opposed to. If he is elected prime minister, he will immediately tear-up the carbon tax legislation ... Well, actually dear reader it's not the only thing Tony Abbott is opposed to ... After shredding the carbon tax, he will rip up all the cables that the NBN might have laid ... And burst into those pensioners' houses and seize all those set-top boxes and antennas ... And then he'd ... Maintain his rage!
British American Tobacco has launched a massive campaign to try and drum up support for their protest regarding the government's plans to force all cigarette manufacturers to adopt plain packaging. So far the only Australians who signed up whole-heartedly are employees of Tobacco companies, mainly those working in Sales and Marketing. The singular exception is Tony Abbott, who will sign up for any vociferous dissent against any policy the government has delivered or plans to deliver.
In a recent radio interview, a rather pusillanimous tobacco spin doctor was trying to explain the outrage of retailers, and how terrible it was for branding and intellectual property. Although retailers seem to have expressed their outrage in a remarkably demure manner. The only ones who were really vocal about their outrage (apart from Tony Abbott) were funded by tobacco manufacturers. Eventually the interview turned towards the McCabe case, in which a Victorian court ruled against British American Tobacco (Australia) for wilful and shameful destruction of documents, in order to cover-up their complicity and pre-meditated ruthlessness ...
Interviewer: But we understand that British American Tobacco deliberately destroyed documents ...
Mealy Mouthed Spokesman: And British American Tobacco now uses best practice when handling documents ...
Interviewer: (With more than a trace of sarcasm) Oh? And best practice being ... To not destroy the documents?
The spokesman either missed the sarcasm or pretended not to notice ... He persisted with his prepared statement, stating how unfair this would be for any legitimate business and how it would affect relationship with their customers ... Although most legitimate business don't deliberately kill their customers with their very products they supply to them.
Remarkably the spokesman went on to say that one of the worst things about plain packaging was that Tobacco companies would not be able to spend up big on advertising and labelling so the only thing they would have left to compete on would be price. And this would have the undesirable effect of "lowering prices". "And why would that be undesirable?", the interviewer asked, incredulously. "Oh, because it would encourage people to smoke!" declared the tobacco spokesman, without even a hint of irony. "Then don't lower the price?", the interviewer suggested helpfully (and with a little bit more sarcasm).
Update: 2011-05-31 Faced with the prospect of dissent within the ranks, Tony Abbott relented and announced that the coalition would end its opposition to the plain packaging legislation. This after revelations that major Tobacco companies had made considerable donations to the coalition.
Lastly, on ye olde steam driven radio, your blogger heard some remarkable news about an astronomical discovery It seems an international team of astronomers have discovered large Jupiter sized planets outside our solar system. These "planets" drift, as we all do, caught in the gravitational field generated by the black hole at the centre of our galaxy ... But they do not orbit a star ... And so are not part of any solar system. Such entities have been predicted. Although to date they have mainly been the topic of science fiction.
The discovery has been made with a technique known as gravitational lensing.
It would seem that these newly-discovered planets truly are wanderers (The word planet means wanderer).
Caveat - 30 Rhinos On The Tram Track
And when leaving the radio on the shelf, and stepping outside to inhale the fresh city air, whilst blinking in the sunlight, your blogger observed a Melbourne tram ... Now Melbourne trams are large and constructed mostly with solid steel (smelted by combining iron with lots of burnt carbon) and consequently they are rather substantial vehicles. Possibly if we are all struggling under the burden of those crippling carbon taxes, we might come to consider them as acceptable alternate transport, even at the exorbitant fares they charge.
It seems that trams have recently started sporting new signs on their front (and/or back) end. The large signs have a stark yellow background with a silhouette of a rhinoceros and bold black writing that declares: BEWARE - Trams Can Weigh As Much As 30 Rhinos. Underneath the silhouette is a Facebook address "facebook.com/bewarerhino" ... Just the sort of thought you'd think when thinking of trams.
Melburnians should consider this as fare warning.