Government? Who needs it?

So, Australia hasn’t had a proper government for around three years. The Abbott experiment was a mad scrum of throwback ideas, awkward doorstops and daily outrage followed by months of inaction.

The start of the Turnbull experiment was a melee of ideas, broad smiles and a collective sigh of relief that we finally had a prime minister who spoke in complete sentences and didn’t walk like Donald Duck.

But as it turned out, a prime minister who spoke in complete sentences was too much to hope for too. Fasttrack to a year later and we still have a prime minister who speaks in three word slogans and looks like a ghost of his former self but with a manic grin on his face. Meanwhile Prime Minister meekly submits to the schoolyard bullies and nothing gets done; nobody is obviously in charge and the government limps on. At least I think it does – no-one is paying attention.

But it’s got me thinking. Do we need government at all? Maybe we are a self-governing society. People are still going to cafes, going to the beach, going to work and getting paid. They are still getting married, going to the doctor, going to school and catching up with friends. They are going on diets, they are exercising, they are planning holidays and continuing to ignore politics. Life is going on as normal.

In Belgium a few years ago a hung parliament meant that a caretaker government with very limited powers was put in charge for nearly 18 months. And exactly the same thing happened. Life went on! Who knows, maybe it was better with fewer politicians. I do realise Australia has a majority government, but in a way it is similar to a hung parliament – we have a gridlocked agenda and a parliament not able to make decisions.

So, here’s my solution – a plebiscite question as follows: Does Australia need a government? Yes/No.

And … make the result binding, please.





How to get ’em queueing

It’s easy to make money in Sydney. All you need to do is not do anything people actually need and instead buy a struggling old business, do a Mexican streetfood refit and then advertise your new eatery.

There are virtually no post offices, old-school garages and butcheries left in this town, they’ve already been transformed into The Garage, The Butcher’s Block or La Stazione or Il Postino. Bookstores have already turned themselves into cafes, and next will surely be newsagents and banks.

Meanwhile the owners of the themed cafes are laughing all the way to the bank. People are queuing up faster than you can say doppia macchiato to get a slice of contrived action.

As for menu, well, basically sorted. Pepe butter, Sonoma bread, Hanks Jams. There must be macaroons, vine-ripened tomatoes and hay-fed pork sausages from Bangalow. And it must be overpriced.

Then – cue stroke of genius – the business doesn’t take bookings, giving the impression that they are really popular, cool, hip and in demand. And sit back let em queue, let ’em queue and sit back and walk to the bank. Hold on, it’s already a new cafe, La Banque. Heard it’s good.

An epic listicle of expressions I hate

Inspired by Adam Zwar’s excellent paid rant in the SMH the other day, I’d like to knock off some of Adam’s pet hates and contribute a few of my own thoughts on expressions that should henceforth be banned.

  1. It’s all good – no it’s not. Sometimes it’s bad or ordinary. Besides, if Gwyneth Paltrow’s book title is It’s All Good, then you know you should never use this expression again.
  2. Epic – this word is doing the rounds in epic, sorry, very large, numbers. Everything is epic, including restaurant dishes, holidays, parties, movies. The only thing it is not applied to is people’s waistlines, which is the only epic thing I’m seeing post Christmas.
  3. Pulled pork – what is this? Isn’t it just meat?
  4. Listicle – sounds like some icy, bright-coloured treat, but it’s just an ordinary old dot point list.
  5. Selfie – I would like this to go back to the place it came from, which I highly suspect was KRudd’s media advisor (aka KRudd).
  6. Reach out – what happened to just talking to someone? It’s not a North Carolina Jesus Convention. It’s just talking.
  7. All corporate speak. All of it. You know who you are: have a conversation, with respect, outcomes, tasked, incentivize – it’s all a bad listicle of euphemisms for getting the sack, more work or an epic please explain.
  8. Twerking. I have no idea what this is but I do know Clive Palmer should not be doing this in public.
  9. Onesie – nuff said.

Image: Sue and Steve Show

Director’s cut – The Tyranny of Cinema Parking at Westfield

Westfield Shopping Centre used to give an hour’s free parking to parkers who were going to the cinema. This was a nice rort-proof (which I’ll come to later) facility for the average movie-goer slash shopper slash driver. There are already three hours free parking, Westfield would give another hour on top of that, making a total of four hours free parking.

The cinema would validate your parking ticket when you produced your movie ticket – thus making it rort-proof – which some would say is un-Australian, but again, that’s a whole other blog.

It was a good system. It meant you could park the car, buy the ticket, watch the movie and have an ice cream afterwards.

But those salad days are gone (or in my case ice cream days). As of June last year Westfield no longer validates the extra hour. So, if you are parking a car AND seeing a movie, then you’ve got three hours to do it. Take it or leave it.

In our case leave it. Three hours is not enough time to park the car, walk to the cinema, buy the ticket, go to the toilet (hey! the film is three hours long) and see a film. Especially once the cinema throws in 20 minutes worth of ads/trailers. Some current films like The Hobbit (which I definitely do not recommend) or Django are close to three hours long.

When we realised we did not have enough time for free parking and seeing Django, the young girl at Events Cinema, Hornsby helpfully told us the exact start time of the feature, and suggested we race out and repark the car just before the feature begins then leave the carpark as soon as the film finishes.

That was a nice suggestion, but I’m leaving now. It’s not that $7 for parking is unaffordable, but it is the principle of the thing. Plus it suddenly makes Cheap Tuesday not so cheap. Instead I’ll wait three months then rent the film via my local DVD kiosk for $3.

I would like to think Westfield have done themselves in with their greediness and that other movie-goers/parkers will also stop going to the cinema. But unfortunately, as is always the case, the public (apart from me) will suck it up and pay, pay, pay.

Gay marriage – it’s the economy stupid

Factoid for today: the wedding industry in Australia (according to the SMH via IBISWorld) has a turnover of $4.3 billion and employs about 54,000 people. The wedding industry makes roughly the same contribution to the Australian economy as the baby products and cheese manufacturing industries.

I’m not good with numbers, but that sounds pretty big.

The average cost of a wedding is around $36k – but many people spend as high as $48k. The reason it is so high is that we can’t outsource it to Chindia. (Generally). Most people still marry in Australia, which means high local labour costs, high function centre costs – food, drink, flowers etc. Apart from the dress, there’s not that much you can get cheaply overseas.

So, here’s my plan. We have a two-speed economy, right? WA is through the roof and the east coast in the doldrums. SA? Who cares. So, let’s stimulate the economy by legalising gay marriage. Most people couldn’t give a rats anyway.

The economy of Sydney in particular would go through the roof. They are cashed up and ready to go, and well, don’t mind a bit of OTT stuff that only a wedding can provide.

Julia – it’s a votewinner and the only thing I can think of that will stimulate the economy. Plus small business is the winner, not fat cat mining giants. It’s sounding better and better.

It’s not a moral issue … it’s the economy stupid.