Saturday, 28 August 2010

Delivery 3

We wafted into Adelaide at about 2pm.

I say "wafted" because that's the word which best describes the progress of this Camry. It tends to filter out any serious engagement between driver and road.

It's not a car that I could live with, but then, I don't have to. I'll jump on the plane tomorrow to be reunited with my MX5 - a complete contrast.It's done what I'd hoped it would do - to get us to the bottom of the country without drama, and cheaply.

It averaged 8.24 lit/100km, used no oil, and kept us warm and comfortable through some pretty nasty conditions.

Today is recovery day, and about showing daughter as much of the city of churches as we can get to in one day. This will have to wait until she gets up, of course.

I must be weird - I seem to be energised by big road trips,whereas members of my family tend to collapse in a heap.

Maybe it has something to do with the way I drive?

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Delivery 2

 I don't understand how people can live in this part of the world.

Having said that, it's probably the wrong time of the year to be travelling south, and apparently this cold snap was unusual.

It's been bloody freezing, and when it wasn't freezing,it was wet. In Queensland, especially North Queensland, being outdoors in the rain can be pleasant, but here, it reminds me of the line in the poem -
"And if misery man could vex
There it beat on our bended necks"

Enough whingeing - this is supposed to be about the car.

The car's been great. In fact, the colder it became, the better it seemed to perform. The heater works very well.

The sun came out at Hay, and it looks like tomorrow will be sunny.

But today, the wind felt as if it had come straight from the Antarctic.

No wonder the Mexicans come up our way in Winter. 

Delivery 1

We set off (number one daughter and I) this morning on the delivery trip (delivering a fifteen year old Camry to my son in Adelaide).

Trusting a car as old as this one with such a journey is probably ill-advised, but I'm a platinum RACQ member, so if the thing runs out of smoke, at least I'm not going to be up the proverbial creek etc.

I'd fixed up a few obvious issues - new radiator, cleaning system overhaul and new timing belt. There was no record that the original had been replaced as recommended by Toyota at 100000km, so I took no chances. I've heard that the 2.2lit four powering this one isn't an "interference" motor, but even so, a belt letting go is not good. It had a small oil leak from the timing cover gasket, so this was fixed with the new belt.

A new set of front tyres and a wheel alignment and balance made it sweeter to drive. Even with this spend, the car still cost $1000 less than the original ask.

We made Dubbo at about 4pm as planned with no dramas at all. Everything works as per handbook (air, heater/demister, cup holders - which pleased my daughter) and whilst it's about the most boring car I've ever driven, it's actually not a bad tool for a trip like this.

Even though it's a four, it cruises at about 2200rpm almost noiselessly. The seats are basic, but I climbed out of it at the end of the day as fresh as a daisy. The air is great and better than many of the much newer fleet vehicles I drive.

Toyotas are generally characterised in my experience with dull efficiency. Going on today's performance, I'd add durability to that.

The other surprise was that it's returning about 8lit per 100km, which is a virtue given what I paid at Moree for unleaded.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

He's Talking Sense

This has to be the best outline of the solution to the current impasse that I've heard.

He's taking about bipartisan cooperation. This would turn our political scene on its head and take a blender to the blue team/red team bullshit that we've been stuck with for so long.

At last someone in politics is shown to be capable of lateral thinking. He also understands the basis of our system of government - a rare thing in our elected representatives these days.

It would have other effects - such as denying oxygen from the Churnalists who make a pretty comfortable living from barracking on the sidelines of adversarial politics.

Australia would be a better place were it to come about.

I doubt it will happen - greed, lust for power and celebrity, and plain old closed mindedness will probably rule it out.

This bloke is a Republican - and his views on this and a few other branding issues show that he is capable of straddling the political fence with the future of his country, as well as his electorate in mind.

And of course, people would need to pause and reflect - unlikely.

Monday, 23 August 2010


Queenslanders have always been the innovators in national politics.

The manifesto that brought the Australian Labor Party into being was published first in 1892 after the unrest in Barcaldine in 1891. Barcaldine is in Queensland, by the way.

The first Labor government in the world was formed by Andrew Dawson in 1899 in Queensland.

The Labor split in 1957 had its genesis in Queensland, and this effectively kept Labor in opposition for decades.

And now, a first term Labor government has been booted out, essentially by Queenslanders, and for the first time since 1940 it looks like we'll have a minority government.

Frankly, I can sense a sea-change in the electorate.  Out of optimism, I sense the possibility that voters are simply fed up with adversarial politics.

The Westminster system was not designed with two-party competition in mind. The idea was that constituents elected a representative (that's why they're called MHR - for heaven's sake!) who debated and eventually made laws on the floor of the chamber. It was meant to refine and clarify legislation which was, in the end, the product of careful deliberation by the members.

Parties weren't seen as part of the deal - they developed. Some would say they grew out of the natural division between the haves and the have-nots - and this was certainly the case way back in colonial times.

Fast-forward to campaign 2010, and voters saw a campaign that was based purely on adversarial politics and was bereft of leadership, vision, and any policies of substance.

Unsurprisingly, voters - especially in Queensland, reacted negatively to this, and we're left nationally with a simple message from the electorate - "a pox on both your houses".

Some of the details are fascinating.

Tony Abbott declared that 400000 more people voted for the Coalition. What he didn't point out was that this is a lower number than those who voted informal (618000). He also failed to remember that we have a preferential system, the same system that allowed the Coalition to stay in power by courting the old whore (the DLP) for a very long time. The wailing and gnashing of teeth about the Greens preferencing Labor completely neglects the history. It was OK for the Coalition back then, but apparently not OK for Labor now. Whichever way you cut it; neither the Coalition nor Labor has a mandate to govern.

If you accept the old paradigm, the country has moved left. The Greens are the big winners.

Belting a first term government is not unprecedented. Howard lost 19 seats at the end of his first term, but clung on to power. 

Let's consider the future -

The independents have the whip hand now. Bob Katter is interesting. He is about survival in the bush, he advocates broadband in rural and remote areas, and has not forgotten the privatising of Telstra and deregulation of the dairy industry. Southern commentators consider him a bit of a joke. They do so at their peril.

He is a bit hard to categorise. His Mt Isa office (I haven't been there in years) had pictures of Ted Theodore and Jack McEwen on the wall. His dad, (Bob Katter Senior) before he was the National Party member for Kennedy for 24 years, was an ALP member and a Union organiser on the Brisbane wharves until the 1957 Labor split. His Lebanese Catholic heritage had lots to do with that.

Katter's split with the National Party was particularly acrimonious, and they have not forgiven him. There is no love lost between Katter and Joyce (and Truss for that matter), and you can't assume that he'll support the Coalition. I knew him in Mt Isa back in the mid nineties. I'd see him at Mass every Sunday, and he'd occasionally come into my office under his big white hat, advocating for his constituents. My work back then was with kids with disabilities and Aboriginal kids, and Bob advocated strongly for both. He really does put his electorate first, and believes that the bush has been sold out by the National Party. I don't think it was very smart of Warren Truss to insult him on National TV during the election telecast. The Coalition needs him more than he needs them at the moment.

Barnaby Joyce was slagging off at Tony Windsor on the same telecast - not smart.

Commentators from Sydney and Melbourne don't have a clue about Queensland (or Tasmania for that matter). Their view of the world is blinkered by the fact that they live and work in these two cities, and they really don't understand rural or regional priorities.

This disregard by both the commentators and the party apparatchiks of anywhere outside the South East has come home to roost. The future of the country is in the hands of four (maybe five depending on the count in Denison) independents from regional Australia.Denison, of course, is in Tasmania, which was left off the map by the Australian in its electoral washup. Typical.

And it looks like the end of Iron Bar Tuckey.

How sweet it is!

Hugh White - Without America

Hugh White is always provocative, and doesn't pull any punches when it comes to criticising current defence policy. In 1995, he was appo...