The School of Athens

The School of Athens
The School of Athens by Raphael (click on picture to view short documentary from Columbia University)

Friday, 31 July 2015

Adam Goodes in his own words

Fellow citizens,

There have been plenty of commentators who said the problems for Adam Goodes started when he "bullied" a thirteen-year-old girl for calling him an "Ape", and were compounded by his speech on receiving the 2014 Australian of the Year award.

Far from bullying the girl, this is what he tweeted:


And this is what he said in his press conference on May 25, 2013, following the incident, "The person who needs the most support now is that little girl."


As for his speech on January 25, 2014, at the Australian of the Year awards, this is an excerpt:


"We can keep our silos or educate ourselves and others about racism and minority populations."

"It is not just about taking responsibility for your own actions, but speaking to your mates when they take out their anger on their loved ones, minority groups or make racist remarks."

"It means treating people the way you want to be treated. Whether that's your manners, the way you talk to people, whether they are your loved ones, or the person serving you dinner."

"It's about how you choose to give back and make a difference to those around you, your community or your country. That goes outside of just yourself."


You be the judge. 

Is there anything in that press conference or that speech that warrants starting what has happened to Adam Goodes?

Anything? 

Anything at all?

Thursday, 30 July 2015

50 years of progress, not

Fellow citizens,

There is only one person who truly knows how Adam Goodes is feeling now, and that is Adam Goodes.

The rest of us can only but imagine.

Growing up and playing rugby league in the South Sydney district, as I did, interacting with Indigenous Australians was as natural and common as interacting with blonde haired people.

The disdain that other Australians felt towards Indigenous people was very foreign to us. 

I knew well the Longbottoms and the Ellas who lived 'out La Pa way' (the suburb of La Perouse) and the Mundines and the Merritts who lived around Redfern, just to name a few families.

A wonderful Indigenous player, and one of the finest goal kickers of all time, who played for Souths in the 1960's was Kevin Longbottom.



The Souths' family all knew him as 'Lummy'.

I say knew him, as Lummy died at the age of 46 in 1986. Just one of the many Indigenous men who die too young.

He was a massive man, but a very kind and gentle man: a gentleman in every sense of the word.

Lummy presented me with my first representative Souths jersey. He presented it to me with such warmth and affection that I remember it to this day and still have that jersey, 37 years later.

During one of my games, which was played in atrocious conditions one terrible winter's day, I had to leave the field as I was literally frozen to the bone. 

Lummy followed me into the change rooms to ensure that I had stripped off all the wet gear and hopped in under the hot shower to ward off hypothermia, and then stayed with me until I had recovered fully.

Such was the measure of the man.

Years later, a friend of mine who had often watched Souths play at the SCG during their great era of the 1960's, told me a story of a disgraceful incident that he witnessed involving Lummy.

After a game at the SCG, Lummy was leaving the ground with his kit bag hoisted over his shoulder when he was confronted by three opposition fans who were racially abusing and taunting him.

He tried to pass them, but they wouldn't let him proceed.

Lummy, with a sad look of deep resignation on his face and without saying a word, put down his kit bag, straightened up to the three thugs, and within a matter of a few seconds and with a few well-placed blows, dispatched the three of them to the ground.

Not a word came from their bleeding lips as they could only manage the most pathetic of sheepish looks as they sat there stunned, and finally silent.

Lummy then turned around, picked up his kit bag, smiled at my friend and continued on his way.

I can only but imagine what Lummy felt then, as I can only but imagine what Adam Goodes feels now.

Over 50 years later, it appears not much has changed.


Monday, 27 July 2015

Which newspapers most influence public opinion?

Colleagues and scholars from coast to coast, across Bass Strait and all the ships at sea.

Dateline: Australia, Media Influence, July 2015.

We often hear how newspapers influence public opinion, and there is no doubt that is true. The important question is: which of Australia's major newspapers have the most influence?








To determine this I've developed the following equation: I = A x T (Influence = Audience size x Trust quotient)

The data used to calculate the equation comes from these two pieces of research:


1. Audience size = the Roy Morgan "Cross-platform audiences for newspapers" (published May 7, 2015) which is defined as: 

"The number of Australians who read or accessed a newspaper’s content via print, web or app in an average 7-day period."


2. Trust quotient = the percentage of readers who said they have "a lot of trust" in various newspaper publications, as published by Essential Media on June 30, 2015 from this question: 

"How much trust do you have in what you read in the following newspapers? - A lot of trust, some trust, not much trust, no trust at all, don't know"


This table summarises the calculations:

Newspaper
7 day cross platform audience (‘000s)
“A lot of trust” % of readers
Audience x  trust % ('000s)
Influence index
SMH
3521
18
634
37
The Age
2522
14
353
20.5
Australian
1774
12
213
12.5
Herald Sun
2587
8
207
12
Courier Mail
1952
8
156
9
Telegraph
2547
6
153
9


It tells us that The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) has the highest cross-platform audience at 3,521,000 over a 7-day period, and also the highest percentage of readers who have "a lot of trust" in what they read in that publication, measuring at 18%.

When you multiply those figures: 3,521,000 x 18% = 634,000.

That figure is the number of influential encounters that the SMH has in one week. 


The Daily Telegraph, on the other hand, while having a high cross-platform audience at 2,547,000 over a 7-day period, has the lowest percentage of readers who have "a lot of trust" in what they read, measuring at only 6%.

Multiplying those figures gives us: 2,547,000 x 6% = 153,000.

That figure is the number of influential encounters that The Daily Telegraph has in one week.


In other words, The SMH with 634,000 influential encounters in one week, has over four times the influence of The Daily Telegraph, with only 153,000 influential encounters in one week. 


The "influence index" (noted in the table above) standardises the gross figures and helps to illustrate the level of influence simply, with The SMH's index measuring at 37 being 4.1 times The Daily Telegraph's index which measures at 9.


The SMH with 634,000 influential encounters has three times the influence of The Australian which has 213,000 influential encounters (reflected in their respective indices, the SMH at 37 vs The Australian at 12.5).


In Victoria, The Age with 353,000 influential encounters in one week, has 1.7 times the influence of the Herald Sun with 207,000 influential encounters in one week, and about 1.65 times the influence of The Australian with 213,000 influential encounters in one week.


Although in both comparisons against The Australian (a national paper) we could assume that the influence of both The SMH and The Age would be greater within NSW and Victoria respectively, but lower in the other states.


We can't really draw a direct comparison in Queensland for The Courier Mail as it is the only major newspaper published in that state, although with only 8% of readers saying they have "a lot of trust" in what they read in the publication its effect on public opinion would be limited.

As for publications in the other states and territories, Essential Media didn't ask the trust question of those readers and so the influence calculation could not be made.








And now, a final word on



Many times we hear reported, "Influential broadcaster, Alan Jones......." 


Hence, I thought it would be worth investigating how much influence Alan Jones does (or does not) have. 

It is estimated his radio audience numbers 150,000 listeners daily. 

Essential Media found (in the same research referred to previously) that only 6% of people had "a lot of trust" in him. Not a particularly flattering result.

However, unlike the newspaper trust figures, on which the calculations were based on actual readers of the paper, the calculations for media commentators were based on respondents who were aware of the commentator, though not necessarily listeners. Therefore, it wouldn't be applicable to use the 6% figure for his audience.

Now, the most trusted commentator in that Essential Media research was found to be Laurie Oakes, with 25% of people saying they had "a lot of trust" in him.

So, let's be overly generous; let's assume 50% of Alan Jones' listeners have "a lot of trust" in him (twice what the Australian population has in Laurie Oakes). 

That would translate to 75,000 influential encounters (150,000 x 50%).

Sydney's population consists of about 3,500,000 adults.

75,000 = 2.1% of that total population.

Australia's population consists of about 18,000,000 adults.

75,000 = 0.4% of that population.

You be the judge. 

Does influencing 2.1% of Sydney and 0.4% of Australia warrant applying the almost mandatory appellation of "influential" to Alan Jones, followed by a series of deeply bowed genuflections? 





Of course, if we did apply the 6% "a lot of trust" figure to Alan Jones' audience of 150,000 listeners, that would translate to a meagre 9,000 influential encounters (150,000 x 6%).

Seriously, you'd get more people at a small Greek wedding. 





Friday, 24 July 2015

Bill Shorten's impact on ALP polling

Colleagues and scholars from coast to coast, across Bass Strait and all the ships at sea.

Dateline: Australia, Federal Politics, Bill Shorten's impact on ALP polling, July 2015.

There has been a great deal of discussion lately about how Bill Shorten's dive in performance (as reflected in the satisfaction and approval ratings of pollsters) is a drag on the ALP's polling position.


So I thought it would be worthwhile to investigate the last 12 months of aggregated polls and see what the data revealed.

In summary, it shows that the polling performance of the ALP has remained reasonably consistent despite the changes in the ratings of Bill Shorten.

While there's no doubt the ALP and Bill Shorten would be delighted to see his personal numbers higher, it's voting intentions that matter in the end.


This table shows the three month averages:

Three month average %
Aug – Oct 2014
   Nov 2014     Jan 2015
Feb – Apr   2015
May – Jul 2015
Shorten Performance Index*
37
40
37
33
ALP Two Party Vote
52
54
54
52
ALP Primary Vote
37
39
39
37
*(Shorten Performance Index aggregates the leader satisfaction ratings of Newspoll and the leader approval ratings of Ipsos and Essential) 


This graph illustrates the last 12 month period (click on graph to see enlarged version):



Thursday, 23 July 2015

Oh! For Fuch's Sake! Where's the vision?

Colleagues and scholars from coast to coast, across Bass Strait and all the ships at sea.

Dateline: Australia, Federal Politics, Lack of Vision, July 2015.

Yesterday, on the ABC's "The World Today" program we heard this lament from the former Premier of Victoria, Jeff Kennett:


"We are a country without a vision. We are a country at the moment that is terribly complacent."

"If I was to ask you or any of your listeners, 'Where do you think the politicians of today want to take Australia by 2050?' do any of us have any idea at all?" 

"There is no vision." 

"The media keep looking for simple solutions because it's today and their cycle is 24 hours and the political class have more obviously than any time I can remember, simply given in themselves to that 24 hour cycle."

Following this year's Budget, former leader of the Coalition, John Hewson, made this observation about the Budget's lack of cohesion on the ABC's "RN Drive" program:


"You've got to step back and take a longer term view. A lot of these issues are very significant structural challenges."

"Aim to double national productivity by 2025; then go through the various areas of policy, one of which is the Budget, the others are tax, education, training, industrial relations, science and technology, and pull these various strands together such that realistically we could hope to double national productivity - then you'll get your jobs and you'll be able to restore growth."

Back in March 2010, former Prime Minister, Paul Keating observed on the ABC's "RN Breakfast":


"You wouldn't trust this mob [the Coalition Opposition] with a jam jar full of 5 cent bits."

"If Tony Abbott ends up the Prime Minister of Australia, you gotta say, God helps us. God helps us." 

"Truly an intellectual nobody and has no policy ambition. Is that all there is? You know the song 'Is that all there is?' I mean is that where we'd be? Really?"

"Where is the thought out position? A conservative party can have a thought out position. The fact is that Abbott does not have this."

Paul Keating's prescient observation five years ago is being seen in stark reality now as both former conservative leaders Jeff Kennett and John Hewson have attested.

"And ofte tyme swich cursynge wrongfully retorneth agayn to hym that curseth, as a bryd that retorneth agayn to his owene nest." Geoffrey Chaucer

Geoffrey Chaucer

Roosting chickens

As a concerned citizen, I once again submit a strategic planning template for the Government (and the Opposition) to follow at a macro level and, at a micro level, have provided two solutions in specific policy areas.

The Macro Plan


1 - The Vision

Before they embark on anything, the party and all its politicians need to be able to clearly articulate its philosophy.

What is the party's guiding philosophy?

If the politicians are struggling to come up with an answer, which would be a real problem but not a surprise, then they need to answer these questions first:

What do you believe in?  What values do you hold dear? Why did you enter politics?  What is it you wanted to achieve? Where do see the nation being in ten and twenty year's time?

These should not be difficult questions to answer and therefore the guiding philosophy of the party should reflect these answers and thus be very easy to describe.

From this a clear vision for the nation can be articulated.

2 - The Policy Agenda

Based on this vision, the policy development then takes place to implement it and should proceed as follows:

Ask the following questions:  Where are we now?  Where are we going?  How do we get there? 

a) - Where are we now? 

This would be an audit of the current situation in every area of government responsibility.  

Clearly there have already been any number of reviews conducted in many portfolios and so it should not be too difficult to answer this question.  Indeed, one would think that if there were any decent "debate", the current situation in each portfolio would be all too clear.

b) - Where are we going?

Then based on the current position, the party would need to determine the objectives it would want to achieve in each of these government areas of responsibility in line with the party's vision. 

This would be a three-step process:

Step 1 - within each portfolio, prioritise the objectives into the following categories: those you "must achieve"; those you would "like to achieve"; and those you would "love to achieve". 

Step 2 - consider the budget situation and what needs to be addressed in the financial portfolios of Treasury and Finance, namely how to deal with the structural problem of the Federal Government's budget.  That is, too much committed expenditure (over allocated in the good years of the last decade) and not enough revenue in the future to pay for it.  

Depending on the budgetary circumstance, step 2 may impact greatly on step 1.  It may well see all the "love to achieve" and even "like to achieve" objectives postponed and may even require a re-examination of all the "must achieve" objectives in each portfolio, to re-prioritise those objectives across all portfolios leaving only the ones which are the most important to implementing the party's vision.

Step 3 - takes the final prioritised list of objectives following step 2 and proceeds with the "can achieve" objectives.  This is not an excuse to do nothing due to "budgetary constraints"; this is a realistic assessment of what is achievable given the current financial situation.

If the final list of "can achieve" objectives does not reflect any reasonable implementation of the party's vision, then you need to re-visit step 2 and re-prioritise and re-direct current spending and/or alter the current revenue sources (yes, change taxes if required - re visit the dusty pages of The Henry Tax Review) to meet the party's philosophical objectives.

Once determined in principle, these objectives should then be set out over a nine-year period (three terms).   

That is, having clear and measurable objectives, regarding outcomes and expenditure, for each 3-year term of government, and each individual year within each 3-year term. 

c) - How do we get there? 

This is where the party outlines in detail the strategies it intends to employ to achieve those objectives over the short, medium and long term.

The implementation phase is the most critical.

The key objectives should have comprehensive strategies developed that are well thought out and debated within the party and without, to ensure that the best implementation process will be employed.   

They should be clearly articulated in detail on a website (subject to any genuine commercial in confidence issues) and advertised in the press (using party funds) with the theme:  this is what we are intending to do over the next year, 2 years, 3 years and if you are happy with those results, re-elect us and then we could implement stage two over years 4, 5 and 6 in the second term, and if happy again, re-elect us again, and we could implement stage three over years 7, 8 and 9.

Then the communication strategy, which so dominates our current political process, would be driven by the guiding vision of the party and would explain to the public, cohesively and comprehensively, what you are intending to achieve and why - rather than responding every day to whatever the 'issue du jour' determines.

If elected, the agenda is clear and your task would be to implement the strategies outlined with great commitment and enthusiasm.  The communication strategy would then be to convey to the public how the implementation is progressing and what changes, if any, needed to be made.

Obviously, over time, circumstances do change and therefore the objectives and strategies would also change, so it wouldn't be a static process. However, this approach would see an honest, straightforward and clear agenda for all to see and judge.

THAT is how you develop a plan for the nation.

Two specific policy solutions. 

1. Health


The Vision: Dream Big

We want Australians to be the healthiest people in the world.

Set Goals:

To achieve this we need to separate out preventable disease from non-preventable disease.

Our goal will then be to eliminate 100% of all preventable diseases and channel our resources into researching and treating the non-preventable diseases.

How to eliminate preventable disease?

Five key areas to focus on:

1. Smoking  2. Excessive alcohol consumption 3. Poor diet and lack of exercise 4. Vaccinations 5. Undiagnosed and untreated mental health problems.

For example on smoking:

13% of Australian adults (and too many teenagers) currently smoke, or about 2.6 million people.

Our goal will be to decrease that percentage by 0.5% (100,000 people) per year so that by 2041 no Australians will be smoking.

Take Action:

(1) We will assist smokers to quit by making all approved products (patches, gum etc) as well as counselling etc, available to smokers (via their GPs) for no charge under Medicare so that there is no financial obstacle to quitting smoking.

(2) We will financially dissuade smokers by imposing a 10% price increase on all tobacco products every year and that money will be used exclusively for the health budget (initially to pay for the costs of implementing the point above).

(3) We will increase the current communication measures (advertising campaigns etc) to encourage people to quit.


Similarly structured strategies would be developed for alcohol consumption, poor diet and lack of exercise, vaccinations and mental health. 

Could you imagine if we were able to eliminate all preventable disease? Could you imagine if we freed up our health system to focus purely on researching and treating non-preventable disease?

Could you imagine the massive benefit to the health of our population, let alone the massive benefit to the financial cost of funding our health system?

"Yes, that's all very well in theory, but what about the short term? How are we going to fund the system properly today?" ask the smug accountants from the back of the room, desperately clutching the 2015 Intergenerational Report.

This is a no brainer.

We increase the Medicare levy by 0.25% per year for the next 12 years, taking it from 2% to 5% and channel all that additional income into the health budget. All current exemptions and penalties (Medicare surcharge levy) will continue to apply. 

2. Age Pension

The Vision: Dream Big.

We want Australians to be financially self reliant in their retirement.

Set Goals:

By 2050 all Australians will be able to fund their retirement via their superannuation savings.

Take Action:

The superannuation contribution levy will increase by 0.5% per year for the next 21 years (paid for 50% by employees and 50% by employers) taking it from 9.5% to 20%. 

The funds accumulated will be available from 60 years of age but only as an annuity.

Could you imagine how the Australian social landscape would be transformed if we were to achieve this goal?





Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Speaking about Hubris

Colleagues and scholars from coast to coast, across Bass Strait and all the ships at sea.

Dateline: Australia, Federal Politics, Speaker Bronwyn Bishop, July 2015.

Speaker Bronwyn Bishop would do well to familiarise herself with the Greek concept of Hubris.


Hubris is when a person in an authoritative and powerful position overestimates their capabilities to such an extent that they lose all contact with reality and, as a result, violates moral codes at will.

Further, they become so proud of their 'exceptional qualities' that they form the delusion they are equal to the gods and eventually try to defy them.

Such extreme arrogance and conceit shown by such a person ultimately brings about their downfall, often at the hands of the angered gods.


Many, including these heroes of the Trojan War, wait with trepidation to see what terrible response will come from Mount Olympus.





Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Voters' verdict (Part 2): Abbott is worse than Gillard

Colleagues and scholars from coast to coast, across Bass Strait and all the ships at sea.

Dateline: Australia, Federal Politics, Tony Abbott, July 2015.

Yesterday's article "Voters' verdict: Out of touch Abbott is worse than Gillard" (posted here ) presented research which illustrated that the electorate considered Tony Abbott to be very "out of touch with ordinary people" and believed him not to "understand the problems facing Australia" and, most significantly, that he was viewed more poorly on these attributes than Julia Gillard. 

A 'triple whammy' condemnation.

Today's article will illustrate that these research findings were not an aberration and that Tony Abbott as Prime Minister is viewed quite unfavourably on a range of other measures when compared to Julia Gillard when she was Prime Minister. 




Since the 2013 Federal Election (a period of 22 months), Essential Media has measured voter sentiment on a number of attributes for Tony Abbott on six occasions. 

If we compare the average of the first six measurements of Tony Abbott's prime ministerial tenure to the average of the first six measurements taken during Julia Gillard's prime ministerial minority government tenure (a period of 28 months), we find some interesting results in these categories:

1. Leader empathy

2. Leader effectiveness

3. Leader qualities

4. Leader integrity. 

1. Leader empathy

Tony Abbott was seen as being "out of touch with ordinary people" by 63% of voters as opposed to Julia Gillard who was seen by only 55% of voters as being "out of touch with ordinary people", a margin of 8% in Gillard's favour.

Only 42% of voters thought Tony Abbott "understands the problems facing Australia" whereas 47% of voters thought Julia Gillard "understands the problems facing Australia", a margin of 5% in Gillard's favour.

This table summarises those results:

Leader empathy (1st six measures average)
Gillard
Abbott
Difference
Out of touch with ordinary people
55
63
+8
Understands the problems facing Australia
47
42
+5

The following two graphs show how Julia Gillard consistently rated better than Tony Abbott on both measures (click on any graph to see enlarged version):



2. Leader effectiveness

43% of voters thought Tony Abbott was "a capable leader" whereas 47% of voters thought Julia Gillard was "a capable leader", a margin of 4% in Gillard's favour.

40% of voters thought Tony Abbott was "good in a crisis" whereas 44% of voters thought Julia Gillard was "good in a crisis", a margin of 4% in Gillard's favour.

This table summarises those results:

Leader effectiveness (1st six measures average)
Gillard
Abbott
Difference
A capable leader
47
43
+4
Good in a crisis
44
40
+4

The following two graphs show how Julia Gillard mostly rated better than Tony Abbott on both measures:



3. Leader qualities

54% of voters thought Tony Abbott was "intelligent" whereas 72% of voters thought Julia Gillard was "intelligent", a margin of 18% in Gillard's favour.

62% of voters thought Tony Abbott was "hard working" whereas 73% of voters thought Julia Gillard was "hard working", a margin of 11% in Gillard's favour.

This table summarises those results:

Leader qualities (1st six measures average)
Gillard
Abbott
Difference
Intelligent
72
54
+18
Hard working
73
62
+11

The following two graphs show how Julia Gillard significantly rated better than Tony Abbott on both measures:



4. Leader integrity

33% of voters thought Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard were "trustworthy", hence no difference in perception.

32% of voters thought Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard were "more honest than most politicians", hence no difference in perception.

This table summarises those results:

Leader integrity (1st six measures average)
Gillard
Abbott
Difference
Trustworthy
33
33
nil
More honest than most politicians
32
32
nil

The following two graphs show how Julia Gillard rated similarly to Tony Abbott on both measures:



Conclusion

These research results, summarised in this table, show that despite the clear unpopularity of Julia Gillard as Prime Minister, and despite emphatically winning the 2013 Federal Election, Prime Minister Tony Abbott compares unfavourably to Julia Gillard when she was Prime Minister.

Leader Attributes (1st six measures average)
Gillard
Abbott
Difference
Empathy



Out of touch with ordinary people
55
63
+8
Understands the problems facing Australia
47
42
+5
Effectiveness



A capable leader
47
43
+4
Good in a crisis
44
40
+4
Qualities



Intelligent
72
54
+18
Hard working
73
62
+11
Integrity



Trustworthy
33
33
-
More honest than most politicians
32
32
-

Tony Abbott often claimed that the Gillard Government was "a bad government getting worse" and attributed most of that blame to Julia Gillard.

If she set such a low benchmark, what does that say about the current Prime Minister who the public clearly believes does not even measure up to her?




Blog Archive

Our home

Our home
Earthrise over the moon (click on picture to view film)

The pale blue dot

The pale blue dot
Earth viewed from Saturn (click on picture to view film clip)

Our neighbourhood

Our neighbourhood
The Solar System (click on picture to view film)

Our Home Galaxy

Our Home Galaxy
The Milky Way (click on picture to view film)

A sister galaxy

A sister galaxy
Andromeda (click on picture to view film)

Another sister galaxy

Another sister galaxy
Triangulum (click on picture to view short film clip)

The Local Group of Galaxies

The Local Group of Galaxies
Our Galactic Neighbourhood (click on picture to view film clip).

Our farthest view of the Universe

Our farthest view of the Universe
Hubble's farthest view (click on picture to view film clip)

The virgo super cluster of galaxies

The virgo super cluster of galaxies
Galaxies within 100 million light years (click on picture to view film clip)

Galaxies within 1 billion light years

Galaxies within 1 billion light years

Universe

Universe