Monday, November 04, 2013

Monday Forum - a miscellany

Early this morning finished a long piece on the outlook for the Australian economy in 2014. I still need to do a final edit check on that and another piece, I have my usual history column to finish Thursday, but otherwise I am free of the external deadlines that have bedeviled my blogging. So tonight I just want to meander across a few things. Nothing profound, just notes, for comment if you will.

The Turningthe-turning

On 29 September in Sunday Essay - the Turning, I reported on my reactions to seeing the film based on the Tim Winton book of short stories. I hadn't read the book at the time, but a friend gave me a copy following the film. I know Ramana ordered a copy at the same time and had since read it; at some stage I would be interested in his reaction.

I started reading the book and then put it aside. I was reading it from both a professional (how does he write? What can I learn?) and personal viewpoint. It was the second that made me put it aside. Finally, I picked it up and finished it. I am glad that I did, although my personal reactions remain the same.

Winton writes well. Reading the book as a whole, he creates a world through the interlinked short stories.You need a good memory to remember all the links, but the impressions build connections. And yet as I read, I thought that with few exceptions I wouldn't like to meet these people.

Actually, that's not quite fair. More, I felt sorry for them and a little depressed. Perhaps a fuller post later.

Swimming pool Registration

On 10 October in Septic tanks, swimming pools and the burden of compliance I took a very jaundiced view of the latest legislation in NSW on swimming pools.  A conversation today reminded me just how hard it was to stop the creep of Government regulation relating to social issues. People generally agree that it's wrong, but as soon as a specific example comes up. defenders abound.

The NSW population is around 7.3 million,  Each  year some six kids die from swimming pool accidents. When I pointed this out and the high costs involved with the new regulations, the comment was that it's not just the few deaths, it's also those kids who suffer brain damage from near drowning. But what about all the kids who no longer have access to inflatable pools with a depth greater than 30cms? What about all those who rent in public or private housing?

The new legislation exposes landlords to an additional legal risk. The simplest thing is actually to ban pools of all types. You would think that ridicule would control of of the sillier manifestations of this type of nanny state, but it doesn't work that way. The desire to avoid harm to a few imposes costs on the many. Where are the Libertarians when you want them? Off worrying about compulsory voting! 

Why the WA Election mess says positive things

In an earlier post, I referred to the mess in the WA Senate counting where 1,375 votes went missing between the first count and the the recount. Such a small number to force a probable new Senate election, but the vote was very tight. Of course its highly embarrassing for the Electoral Commission, but it's actually a very positive for Australian democracy. Why?

  1. It has never happened before to my knowledge, even with a small packet of votes.
  2. The Electoral Commission itself discovered the error and made it public.
  3. Legal mechanisms exist to  resolve the issue,

The honesty of electoral organisations is central to democracy. They are the umpire. This case shows Australian democracy is sound at the organisational core.

I was going to write more, but time is out. Other thoughts come later.    


Evan said...

I think how much the WA lost votes is a worry depends on how they became lost.

I entirely agree about swimming pools.

Jim Belshaw said...

That's a fair point, Evan, on the votes. On swimming pools, i have another example to bring up in a postscript, BBQs in the ACT.