Are the Sydney NYE fireworks a waste of money?

Public funds went up in smoke at the start of the year when Sydney saw in the New Year in its usual over-the-top way. It may seem un-Australian to say this out loud, but do you think Sydney’s NYE celebrations are over-the-top and in these variable economic times should be scaled down?

No politician will touch this debate, which probably means they are scared that people will hate them even more, but will they? I have conducted a thorough survey (asked three friends) and all of them thought that the fireworks were overly extravagant and a waste of public funds and that they were beginning to get, well, kind of boring. They have a point. Once you’ve seen the Harbour Bridge look like a massive electrical explosion half a dozen times you’ve seen enough fireworks. In fact, is it just me, or did this year’s lightbulb visual look like a penis? OK, just me.

My in-depth survey also revealed that the fireworks are aimed at pleasing international tourists and the uber-rich (it’s a night when opera tickets cost $400 and that doesn’t even include a $70 bottle of champagne) and anyone lucky enough to be invited to the Lord Mayor’s Party.

The official figure on the cost of the fireworks is $7.2m but what is the betting it is even higher than that. The taxpayer (apart from those taxpayers who are happy to wait around for 12 hours in a harbourside spot with no alcohol) are probably not getting $7.2m worth of value, especially when there are cutbacks to basic and not-so-basic services.

Pollies think we love our fireworks, that it defines Sydney and that it brings lots of tourists and makes us look special to the rest of the world.

All of this may be true, but I’d like to think we are grown up enough that if a politician was brave enough to explain to us the real cost of the fireworks and what that meant we had to forego (decent public transport, hospital beds, bins on Bondi Beach just for starters) then people might be inclined to accept a scaled-down version of this extravaganza. Surely we are grown up enough now that we don’t actually have to overcompensate to make the rest of the world love us.

Here’s some alternative ideas – fireworks that run for a shorter duration, a sound and light show, more emphasis on spreading out celebrations to Sydney’s major centres like Parramatta, Chatswood etc.

It’s time we put a lid on how much, as a society, we are prepared to pay for 15 minutes of fleeting fame, when public infrastructure and services are strained. I reckon it’s a cracker of an idea. What about you?

 

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The Coalition’s Christmas Vacation Lampooned

Back in July when Joe was shivering under his Bart Simpson doona, he decided it would be heaps of fun to go on holidays with his friends. As he had no actual friends, that meant he had to go away with people from work. The people at work were nice. Mathias and he sometimes sneaked a cigar in the garden and danced together in the office. Fun times!

Joe told his work colleagues his big vacation idea and, as none of them had any friends either, they said they’d come along, but where to go? Clive Palmer had offered them executive suites at Palmersaurus World but Tony didn’t want to hang out with the dinosaurs. Jackie Lambie had banned them from Tasmania, so that left Coffs Harbour. Peta stepped in and got them some luxury apartments and their very own pool boy.

This was the perfect choice. Best of all, their esteemed leader, Tony, could go for a bicycle ride on the Pacific Highway in the truck lane.

But poor Christopher Pyne was upset. He lobbied and petitioned to have the Team Australia vacation in Adelaide but no-one was listening, so he burst into tears and blubbered inconsolably all the way to Coffs .

Apart from him everyone was happy. Especially Barnaby who could go to The Big Banana, his favourite place in the world.

Andrew Robb could gaze at the ocean and think the sea levels weren’t rising.

Julie Bishop could learn to surf the waves of discontent from pretending she didn’t mind that Peta was derailing her career.

Peta herself was happy. She planned to hang in the cabana lounge with the 2015 planner and a pistol.

The rest of Team Australia settled into the bunker, aka the Chairman’s Lounge, with a few bottles of Disappointment Creek Shiraz, a gift from Alan Jones and planned their minibreak.

Their initial idea had been to just spend a few weeks relaxing by the pool, drinking Pina Coladas, taking walks in the rain, just like your average battler. Alas, poor polling numbers meant that Peta told them to pull their finger out and use this valuable vacation time to get out into the countryside and connect with the peeps.

But first things first, Tony had to take off his shirt and compete in the Coffs Classic Ironman Competition.

Tony shimmied into some lycra and Team Australia dutifully cheered on their man, then they retreated to the Chairman’s Lounge, for some more Disappointment Creek Shiraz. Julie tried to open a Margaret River Pinot Grigio but Barnaby said that was for girls, so she sipped stonily on another glass of Disappointment Creek.

Christopher Pyne was the first to crumble. Big tears of disappointment rolled down his puffy cheeks and he wailed and wailed about being bored and petitioned Tony to be allowed back to Adelaide. Peta relented and Christopher clapped his hands with glee and disappeared into the blue afternoon in his Audi A3 never to be seen again, but there was a rumour that he was eaten by bats.

Meanwhile Joe Hockey was anxious to show voters that he cared and understood about their problems.

So he gave his driver the afternoon off and hopped into his Jag and started sweating profusely all over the leather interior and mopping his brow with the sheer effort of driving. He made the mistake of heading into Boambee Beach RSL, where he was kidnapped by old-age pensioners and made to perform sexual favours for the over 80’s. As an impoverished sex worker he was not able to drive far.

Barnaby had no such hangups. He got into his Mercedes 4WD and motored up the Pacific Highway and got out at The Big Banana and knocked back a Pina Colada. Alone. And in the rain. But better than drinking inside with that wet, Malcolm Turnbull.

Speaking of Malcom T, he sat glumly and alone with his Disappointment Creek Shiraz, pondering his bleak future, which didn’t exactly involve homeless cats,  but may as well have, such was Malcolm’s glumness. He changed his online status to “Small L Liberal”, a sackable offence, but Tony, not being a techhead, didn’t find out and the rest of Team Australia had long since blocked him on Twitter.

He got into his private helicopter and journeyed to the nearest upmarket hippy enclave he could think of. Luckily for him, this was Byron Bay. He lobbed into Kerry O’Brien’s pad, and they spent many hours romancing the tome that Kerry was writing about Gough Whitlam. At last Malcom was with his people and he slipped into a silk kimono and started drafting the new Australian constitution.

By this time Julie had had enough and although Peta challenged her to a jelly wrestle, Julie knew she would definitely lose. So she shimmed into a Prado pantsuit and high-tailed it to New York for an assignation with her secret boyfriend, Kevin Rudd.

Man’s man Mathias went mussel collecting and in manner of Harold Holt was never seen again.

Kevin Andrews choked on a pineapple and carked it. Not even Peta’s Heimlich Manoeuvre could save him from the rough end.

Now that she’d got rid of everyone, Peta decided to go to the beach to see her boy complete his Ironman Classic. But when she arrived she saw a sad ripped pair of speedos with the words Team Australia on them. The ABC was there reporting and she could overhear Tony Jones saying, “Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been taken by a drone named Christine Milne”.

At this point Peta peed her pants and was last seen being chased by greenies. Rumour has it she was fed to the new colony as a slave, assigned to the ABC’s new Humpty Doo branch.

The End.

Weekend in Burnie with The Three Wise Men

In the year of our Lord 2014, there were Three Wise Men, Tonyavalot (who governed for the small but dominant Havealot tribe), his accomplice Shirazcigar Jo and El Clive from the strange northern lands. These wise and powerful men had much influence and favour with the gods, but were sadly misunderstood in their own lands. One night after a customary banana split and cigar they looked to the sky and pointed.

“Hark!” said El Clive, the largest of the three. He held a monogrammed, gold-plated telescope to his eye. “I think I see something bigger than me!”

Shirazcigar Jo, who used to be a fat kid himself, gave an inward sigh. El Clive always got the best lines.

Tonyavalot was intrigued, how could he use this next big thing to his best advantage, considering he had failed to use the other big thing, El Clive.

“I’m not a tech head but what do you see in your giant abacus there, Big C?”

“It’s a telescope, dumdum”, said Shirazcigar Jo in a peevish voice, but no-one was listening.

“Hark!” exclaimed El Clive for the second time that night. “It’s a giant comet come to guide us. From this day forth it shall be known as Clive’s Comet”.

“So, what is this comet doing?” asked Tonyavalot, sniffing an opportunity to press reset on his ragged week.

“It’s called Clive’s Comet and its moving south”, replied El Clive.

“By south you mean ….”

“Tasmania”, said Clive with a look that approximated fear but was very hard to tell. It might have just been wind.

“Well, maybe we should follow the star and it might teach us about economic policy,” said Shirazcigar Jo.

“I have long studied the bright star”, said Tonyavalot. “It is prophesied that it will guide us to The Chosen One, he who is sent to earth to give me untold power and influence and marry my chaste daughter, the artist.”

“Whatever. I’m up for an adventure”, said El Clive. “All I know is we have to follow Clive’s Comet. Besides Tasmania is flowing with King Island milk and Huon Valley honey. Plus there’s ice-cream.”

“And while we are there we might even be able to take out the Lamb named Jackie, the Terror of the South”, said Tonyavalot.

“How will we get there? asked Shirazcigar Jo. “It’s too far to drive, and I don’t want to catch a boat with all the poor people”,  he whimpered.

“Stop whinging Jo, we are wealthy and wise remember. We will take our private flying chariot.”

And with much ado about nothing, the Three Wise Men were thence whisked to Tasmania in their flying chariot.

When they arrived in the port town of Launceston they looked again expectantly at the night sky. Clive’s Comet shone brighter still. It was leading them west and they felt sure they were being taken to Cradle Mountain, a golden temple where every whim would be attended to. Alas, twas not to be and they veered further west to a distant place called Dismal Swamp.

When they got down to the swamp they came across a makeshift manger, surrounded by the Lamb named Jackie, Xenophon of Adelaide and Annabel Crabb, a scribe with a basket, who hailed from the left bank of the disputed ABC territories.

“Greetings, O Wise Men” said Xenophon of Adelaide. “I came here by mule, as befits my humble yet enigmatic persona. Whereas you Wise Men three, took the gravy train in order to follow the night star.”

“Clive’s Comet” interjected El Clive.

“Ha, Clive’s Comet up your ass!” scoffed the Lamb named Jackie shaken from her lambielike innocence. “You are the devil himself, and I’ll not kowtow to you.”

She fixed her black gaze on Tonyavalot. “As for you, dark lord, the night star has brought you to Burnie to meet me, since you won’t reply to any of my messages I sent by carrier pigeon.”

“Um, ahh I am a very powerful and busy man”, said Tonyavalot in his most important voice. “And, I am searching for the chosen one, who most certainly is not you.”

“Evening Wise Men all”, chirped Annabel, who was revered for her knife skills and hair curlier than the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Tonyavalot turned to her. “What hast you, fair lady in the basket? Is it a gift for the risen son? For we too have brought gifts for the wonder child who will help me inherit the earth and marry my virtuous daughter.”

“And fix the budget deficit wrought by Labor’s Debt and Deficit Disaster”, added Shirazcigar Jo.

“Did you remember dessert, fair Annabel with your rosy cheeks and fair jowls?” asked El Clive.

“Cheeks and jowls are the same thing”, said Xenophon of Adelaide. “Let the lady speak, El Clive and then you can have your cake and eat it too.”

“Well, it’s not an episode of Kitchen Cabinet, you know. You might have noticed there’s no film crew here” said fair Annabel.

“Oh, I just thought that was due to budget cuts”, winked Tonyavalot.

“That’s not funny, you psychopath”, snapped the Lamb named Jackie. “Do you want me to bite your tiny package right off?”

“We need to put that to a referendum” said Xenophon of Adelaide.

“Do not speak of the holy package in front of the child”, said Shirazcigar Jo.

“Speaking of which”, said Tonyavalot, “I want to see the chosen one.”

“Well, since you insist,” chirped Annabel sensing a column coming on. “I shall do the grand reveal.”

“Please, no Annabel”, said Shirazcigar Jo. “I’m married”.

“Oh, come off it. You sleep with a Bart Simpson doona for Chrissakes”, she said. “I’m revealing now so pay attention.”

She delicately moved the red and white checked blankie to reveal layers of ragged newspaper copy detailing Tonyavalot’s last ragged weeks.

When the last newspaper was lifted, hark! There flew out a hundred barnacles with wings, like Harry Potter quidditch balls. They circled menacingly around Tonyavalot’s head.

“Look, they’ve got little red speedos on”, cooed Xenophon of Adelaide.

“Poo, they stink” announced El Clive.

Like a man possessed, Tonyavalot brushed them off but the barnacles wouldn’t come off him, instead they started attacking and biting him in many Old Testament areas of his body, front and back.

“Oi, go for his package” called the Lamb named Jackie. “Even though it’s small, bite hard.”

“Get these barnacles away from me!”, Tonyavalot squealed uncontrollably in the manner of Christopher Pyne.

“They seem to like you”, Annabel quite reasonably pointed out. “In fact I think they have little names on them. It’s the names of failed policies, here’s one that says Paid Parental Leave. Oh, look, ABC funding cuts”

“Shuttup you meringue-munching leftie. Let me see the child, I must see my own male protégé, made in my image”. Through a haze of brown barnacles, he laid eyes on the child then gasped. In a makeshift manger with straw there was a hideous venomous monster. He went pale and started shaking uncontrollably.

“What is it m’lord?, asked Shirazcigar Jo. “Have you seen the devil himself?”

“No, much worse. A swinging voter in a marginal seat with fire and torment in his eyes. I feel sick, I’m going to vomit, I haven’t done that since Alan Jones was mean to me. Oh woe! Oh lamentation!”

With that, he ran away. He ran up a hill tormented all the way by barnacles. It was a big hill but as a very athletic man he could certainly sheik it.

“What’s he doing?” cried Shirazcigar Jo.

“Seeking asylum no doubt” said Xenophon of Adelaide.

“Remember Tassie is girt by sea” cried the Lamb named Jackie. “You’ll have to be smuggled in a boat to New Zealand to get away from them barnacles. Let’s hope it sinks!”, she added.

“Look the show must go on” said El Clive. “The Dalai Lama told me that. Or was it Kamahl?”

He moved towards the manger.

“We’ve brought gifts, little voter. From me is a replica of my head, fashioned from opals and rubies, from Uncle Jo is a $100,000 debt paydown for a perfect education and from Tonyavalot is his grandmother, who he’s just sold.”

The little swinging voter made a noise like BARF, and threw a massive tantie, which everyone ignored because it was dinnertime.

“Well, comrades, where are we going to eat? It’s like Bethlehem at Christmas time here, everything is closed” said El Clive.

“Don’t look at me”, said Annabel, “I can’t do the loaves and fishes trick from just one basket.”

“Tell you what”, said the Lamb named Jackie, “Club Burnie is open, it’s only half an hour up the road. All we have to do is follow the light on the hill.”

“Oh, please,” said Xenophon of Adelaide, “Why does everyone wax lyrical at Christmas time?”

“You can all pile into my Tarago” said the Lamb named Jackie.

“Senators, half an hour is a long time in a Tarago” said Xenophon of Adelaide. “Is there a game we can play to pass the time, you know, like Spot the Sane Senator. We haven’t played that in a while.”

“I’ll read some sacred poetry I wrote in 45 minutes in the year 1984” said El Clive.

And lo, they piled into the people-moving driving coach and the Lamb named Jackie conducted it. Even though they had enough room inside, they decided to strap Shirazcigar Jo to the roof. On the way they thought they heard Tonyavalot’s screams as he was bitten by barnacles. At the sound of his screams the Lamb named Jackie felt her spirit stir in the golden girdle department.

And lo, a chicken parmigiana and banana split later, that is what happened to the Three Wise Men at Christmas and how it came to pass there was peace on earth across the Great Southern Land.

 

Abbott Peta’s out

It seems Tony has run out of excuses for being a mean, tricky, out-of-touch liar. What to do? Blame sexism.

It’s a deft trick especially from a man who would have invented sexism if he could. And I quote:

‘I think it would be folly to expect that women will ever dominate or even approach equal representation in a large number of areas simply because their aptitudes, abilities and interests are different for physiological reasons’

‘I think there does need to be give and take on both sides, and this idea that sex is kind of a woman’s right to absolutely withhold, just as the idea that sex is a man’s right to demand I think they are both they both need to be moderated, so to speak’

‘What the housewives of Australia need to understand as they do the ironing is that if they get it done commercially it’s going to go up in price and their own power bills when they switch the iron on are going to go up, every year…’

It’s simply not true that Peta is busted over micro-management because she is a woman. What about Mr KRudd? The whole government changed and he lost his crown because of micro-management and control freakery, apparently now known as sexism.

Sure Peta Credlin is being targetted because ministers and backbenchers are frustrated with Tony Abbott and are taking it out on his Chief of Staff. But that’s different to sexism, that’s just frustration because they can’t get a slot in his diary to confront him because of the afore-mentioned micro-management.

Tony seems delighted that Peta is hanging out with him, calling the shots, making decisions that are not hers, but the Prime Minister’s to make. So he should take the ultimate responsibility for his government peta-ing out in the polls. If he has made a blood oath carved in stone and broken it, then it’s his fault, not his right-hand amazon, aka Peta.

Peta is not easy to like. With her penchant for animal print accessories and big bad blow dry, she’s bossing the big boys around and just about telling them when they can and cannot have a toilet break. It’s easy to characterise her as a she-devil Amazon with shoulder-pads and a powerhungry smirk. But it is disingenuous of the Prime Minister to say that if you don’t like her then you are sexist. Especially from a PM who only has one woman in his cabinet, and a track record of putting women down. Sexism about Peta Credlin is not the reason the Abbott government is flailing and pussyfutting around, it’s sheer incompetence and Toni knows it.

 

Julie’s bishop to king square

Julie Bishop is the Abbott government’s not-so-starry eyed performer. She’s also a media darling, but compared with the frumpy Lib Nat front bench, that’s not too hard to pull off, especially when Malcolm in the Middle is looking so glum these days. He’d be so much more handsome if he smiled!

Back to Julie B. With her perfectly coiffed blonde do, fabulous power suits, too-trim-to-be-true physique and surreal stare, she has a certain assured style. But how deserved are the accolades? Harper’s Bazaar Woman of the Year? I mean seriously. What exactly has she done that is not in the portfolio of any foreign minister and that includes K. Rudd, who as it turns out was running a whole other portfolio at the time. (That would be the portfolio of Revenge).

Back to Woman of the Year. Swanning around the world looking glam and making the odd speech condemning terrorism ain’t so hard. In terms of putting Vlad on the spot, did she? As far as I’m aware we are no closer to access, admission or apology than had she not affixed her ballsy blue eyes on him.  And now it seems she is anyone’s girl, anything that needs fixing – let’s see now, Victorian election, nuclear energy and any other old barnacle that Tony Abbott wants to throw her way, she’s out there spruiking. Hardly a girl who knows her own mind, I say!

I reckon that if she is ever given a less popular portfolio (NBN springs to mind) she suddenly wouldn’t be all kudos and goodwill and press fascination. Of course, this probably won’t be tested as Tony doesn’t do reshuffles. In the meantime Jules is being a good girl and kowtowing the party line. Of course every girl needs a male chaperon to take her to the big climate talks in Lima. She couldn’t possibly be trusted to do that on her own.

Abbott knows that she’s more popular than him, and probably the only cabinet minister that is both competent and palatable to the public but he’s staying put. If Jules wants to be top dog in the top job, then she’ll have to knock off the biggest barnacle of them all (her boss). Bishop to Queen 6. Checkmate.

Coalition’s sad scrooged parliamentary pause

 

The Coalition has had a the parliamentary equivalent of a truck wreck in the M5 tunnel this week. Even Tony has lost a little of his lopsided smirk, although he still has a mad glint in the eyes. Joe the Whinger looks even more sulky than normal, Georgie B has stopped talking and Malcolm in the Middle is looking like he just ate something indigestible, causing him to regurgitate the words “efficiency dividend”.

Even the Coalition’s best friends, Bolt, Jones and Janet are turning on them, which has got to have even the most deluded ministers choking on their genetically modified Wheaties in the morning.

Thank goodness they appointed one woman to the inner cabinet. Seemingly the only half-competent minister (mind you swanning around the world in designer outfits ain’t so hard), Julie B. is out campaigning in a state election that will give many Victorians a mini opportunity to give the Federal government a piece of their mind. And possibly a piece of their finger too.

It’s hard to imagine a government could be so incompetent, especially a no-surprises, no-excuses, grown up government like we were promised. It’s also hard to imagine they are going to be able to vacuum up any policy “barnacles” off HMAS Abbott before the Christmas break.

Higher education is looking like it’s school’s out. Imagine negotiating with a newly-liberated Lambie on that, while the Defence Forces pay issue still languishes. As for GP co-payments, the on again off again lovechild of Joe and Mathias is still bobbing around and Tony just doesn’t seem to have the ticker to kill it off good and proper. As for Tony’s own lovechild, the paid parental scheme for rich people, he just can’t admit defeat, let alone poor policy. Let alone poor policy on the run without cabinet consultation. Let alone poor policy on the run without cabinet consultation because the country can’t afford it due to the budget crisis.

So, the Coalition Christmas break is likely to be very bleak indeed. Especially at Casa’s Turnball, Hockey and anyone with the titles Backbencher after their name. Scrooge has come early to the Coalition this year and, just like mum and dad always said, Santa doesn’t give presents to bad children and some of those Coalition kids have been very very bad this year.

It’s not easy being seen when you’re green

Bob Brown turned a near catatonic voice quality into a cult status, but Christine Milne is having a hard time getting the electorate to get a handle on who she is. Whereas Bob Brown had strangely cool, old-school aura, Christine Milne seems a bit frazzled, a bit harried and constantly on the verge of a cranky rant.

In other words, like the rest of us.

I get there’s a lot to be frazzled, harried, cranky and downright murderous about if you are a greenie leftie pollie from Tassie.

But, turning up for work looking like a dead ringer for a put-upon secondary school principal, who keeps her papers in a supermarket shopping bag that’s flapping in the wind is not going to win votes, hearts or donors. Or media time.

So, what can Christine of the Greens do?

– A complete makeover, starting with a funky haircut, highlights and new set. Of glasses.

– Befriend Clive. Why not? Clive and Al Gore are besties, after all.

– Befriend Jackie. They must have something in common. Fleuro scarves perhaps?

– Maybe some policies that have a chance.

Sure, it’s not easy being green, it shouldn’t be this hard either. Methinks the Greens should go positive and lighten up a bit, more like a minty green, not deep khaki. It is a nice spring-like colour, and their anger, however justified, is not working in voterland and lord knows, we are all in need of a dose of positive politik.