Occident Prone

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Posts Tagged ‘Perth’

Alan Bond threatens old haunts

Posted by occidentprone on September 21, 2008

Alan Carpenter was haunted by Brian Burke. Now Colin Barnett could face the spectre of Alan Bond moving from past to present.

The page 1 headline in The Sunday Times today read: “Bondy’s back – and reveals he wants to stay for good this time.” 

Inside Bond made a comment that “I will be back here full time in about 12 months”. Maybe he said it in passing, maybe it’s something he’s thought about seriously. Anyway, the paper made it into it’s big story for the week though it’s not on the website so maybe they’ve since changed their mind.

The people most haunted by Bond are the shareholders who were ruined after their trust in Bond in the 80s and early 90s. But like any master of reinvention, he’s shed that skin. He told the Sunday Times

“I think you go through life  and learn many lessons. And I think today I am a better businessman than I was then even, because you get the yin and yang.

There was a downturn in the economy, the banks that were lending to us went broke, a number went at the same time.

Unfortunately, because I was one of the highest profiles, I took a lot of the flak.

If your gearing is too high, as it is around the world with a lot of people, you are going to get hurt at some stage if the music stops.”

Unless you are a crook, of course.

I like the stuff about yin and yang. I wonder if Bond’s earthy yearning for home, where he and Di Bliss have a house at Cottesloe, has anything to do with the fact WA’s going gangbusters and there’s gold in them thar suckers.

Another Sunday Times non-story or not, there’s an interesting hypothetical.

What if Bond comes back? Is it a metaphor for the bad old days of big business rorts, just as Burke was a symbol of political rorts. Labor thought it had exorcised its demons then let Burke back in. And how did that turn for you Mr Carpenter?

Bond had been keeping a low profile but then he popped up on the BRW rich list this year and this week showed up to celebrate some old yachting victory. As we’ve said before, he deserves recognition for all he’s contributed to the people of this state.

The Barnett government has already waved the flag for development so it’s like the 80s all over again. Complete with ghosts of crimes past.

 


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Posted in Media, Perth, Politics, West Australian politics | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Let’s look closely at Colin’s waterworks

Posted by occidentprone on August 6, 2008

It didn’t take long – Colin’s pipe dream has been resurrected along with Barnett himself. Colin’s Conduit, Colin’s Colon, Barnett’s Shaft – get ready for the puns and headline shorthand.

The Australian says the reheated Liberal leader: 

… has indicated he will revisit plans for a Kimberley-Perth canal in preparing policies for the next election.

Mr Barnett, who was elected unopposed to the parliamentary Liberal Party leadership today, was widely blamed for the opposition’s loss at the 2005 election after he made an uncosted pledge to build a canal to carry water from the Kimberley to Perth.

Mr Barnett took responsibility for the gaffe and quit the leadership shortly after the Gallop Government was returned with its majority intact.

After the party room today unanimously chose him to become the fourth Liberal leader in the fifth leadership change since the election, Mr Barnett did not rule out reviving the canal scheme.

“Let me say that at the time of the last election I made a mistake in the way the issue was handled,” Mr Barnett said at his first press conference as the reinstated Liberal leader.

“But can I also say that since the last election water has become the most important issue for Australia, indeed many parts of the world.

“WA, unlike other states, has the capacity to develop an integrated water supply system to provide water security for this state for another 100 years.”

Asked if that meant the multi-billion-dollar, 3700km covered canal was back on the Liberal agenda, Mr Barnett said any major project needed to be “a long-term, well thought out, well costed and considered project”.

“But we can do this,” he said.

Interesting development – or lack of development if you’re talking Barnett’s policies. But he’s right that water is now a big issue so maybe the masses are more willing to suspend their  disbelief for a bit. After all, we rely on a gas pipeline from the north to the south.

Posted in Perth, Politics, West Australian politics | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Mysteries, mass media and mixed metaphors

Posted by occidentprone on August 6, 2008

It’s like the Twilight Zone here at the moment with the missing and mysterious filling the pages of the paper and websites this morning.

An inquest into the disappeared Kaz II crew is sitting in Townsville his week and has heard how three Yunderup men went missing off the Queensland coast last year. The catamaran has been called a ghost ship, with reporters yanking descriptives from their Mary Celeste imagery grab bag. But from inquest evidence in the last few days, it seems there were technical issues and nervous preparation before they set off.

One of two brothers fishing off Walpole is also missing this morning. The 82-year-old Manjimup man was fishing in Broke Inlet with his younger brother on Monday when they were swept out to sea. The 75-year-old swam to shore and searchers resumed the search for his brother this morning.

There has been a search of a different kind at a Chittering property for drug dealer Frank La Rosa who, with his wife Kim, is missing.

Frank La Rosa spent 12 years in jail for his part in a clandestine amphetamine factory and was due in court on further drug trafficking charges in July.

Police are treating his disappearance as suspicious, but have stopped short of describing the inquiry as a homicide investigation.

The property being searched today was once owned by La Rosa. (Source: ABC)

Elswhere, new Liberal leader Colin Barnett is missing the days of loyalty to the party, Varanus Island gas is back online but we are still longing for full gas, which won’t be back to pre-crisis levels till Christmas time, and we are all saying a teary farewell to our privacy as Street View is launched in Australia.

The media has been so outraged at Google’s latest venture that they’ve had to spell out exactly what sensitive landmarks will be exposed – Swanbourne Barracks, the WA police training centre, the PM’s house – to guarantee a free kick to Google and voyerism.

Posted in Diversions, Media, Perth, Politics, West Australian politics | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Buswell’s gone … now what?

Posted by occidentprone on August 4, 2008

Troy Buswell has quit as leader of the WA opposition. He’s learnt the meaning of the word ‘opposition’ this past few weeks with backbenchers, a former leader and the state’s daily all working against him and working towards this moment. 

Colin Barnett, who failed to set the electorate alight with his personality – and that was against Geoff Gallop – is waiting in the wings. Buswell is in his first term, while Barnett has been a politician for 18 years. 

Earlier today, Liberal forces revealed that Mr Buswell saw internal party polling on Friday night which showed him that the Liberals would be devastated under his leadership at the next election.

It is understood Mr Buswell decided to stand down regardless of whether Mr Barnett can be persuaded to lead the party.

The polling is believed to to mirror a recent WestPoll which showed that the Liberal Party would be competitive at an election under Mr Barnett.

However high profile lawyer Deidre Willmott appears to be standing in the way of Mr Barnett’s return. The political hopeful has already been endorsed for Mr Barnett’s blue ribbon seat of Cottesloe and sources say she is “refusing to budge”.

It is understood party officials are trying to persaude her this morning to put her political career on hold for the sake of the party.

If Ms Willmott insists on retaining her endorsement, it is possible that deputy leader Kim Hames or Treasurey spokesman Steve Thomas would step up for the top job. (Source: The West Australian)

Buswell told media today he was not ‘unelectable’ but that the Libs had a better chance with a change.

Some background from the ABC

Mr Buswell’s leadership deeply divided the party during his six months at the helm.

He has survived two leadership spill motions this year.

They followed revelations of inappropriate behaviour towards female staff members at State Parliament in Western Australia.

In February this year he publicly apologised after admitting to snapping the bra strap of a Labor staff member during a drunken night at Parliament last year.

In May, he initially refused to be drawn on accusations that he sniffed the chair of a female Liberal staff member, then fought back tears when he eventually confessed.

The incident drew national and international media attention and senior Liberal MPs were reportedly furious with Mr Buswell for his behaviour.

He narrowly won a leadership spill in early May and shortly afterwards sacked former Liberal leader Paul Omodei, saying he would not tolerate public attacks.

Another leadership plot was hatched in June and Mr Buswell again retained his job.

However Mr Buswell and the Liberal Party have suffered in the polls and many Liberal MPs seem concerned the party would be decimated at the next election if he remained leader.

Speculation is mounting that Premier Alan Carpenter will call an election soon.

So now what? The anti-Buswell camp have got what they wanted after summoning all their backbiting, white-anting passive-aggressive superpowers but what’s the alternative? 

Buswell was the fourth opposition leader since the last election. That points to something and here’s a hint, its not depth of talent.

So with an election soon, can the opposition to learn the meaning of the word ‘opposition’ and stick it to the government?

Posted in Perth, Politics, West Australian politics | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

A lesson for the Carpenator

Posted by occidentprone on August 1, 2008

 The West Australian reports the WA teachers pay negotiations with the state government have broken down. 

The teachers’ proposed pay deal was on the brink of collapse yesterday, with almost half the union’s governing body breaking ranks to reveal they do not support the agreement struck with the State Government last week. 
   
More than a week after the pay offer was approved by the union’s executive and presented by the Government and union president Anne Gisborne as a fait accompli, seven out of 17 members of the executive have broken ranks to condemn it publicly. 
   
In what could prove to be a major embarrassment for the Government in the weeks leading up to the next State election, the union rebels are urging teachers to seriously question the deal when voting starts this month. 

…The Government has offered teachers pay rises of between 15 and 21 per cent over three years and annual allowances of between $3000 and $19,000 to those who teach in tough city schools and remote schools. Education Minister Mark McGowan says the deal would make WA teachers better paid than those in other States. 
   
But the seven rebels told The West Australian in a statement yesterday that the agreement would only keep pace with inflation. 

This is a tenuous link but under the subgenre of food for thought: What are our public servants to make of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s move to sack 22,000 California state workers and cut the pay of 200,000 more to minimum wage?

Here in WA the government is crying poor every time some two-bit irrelevant section of the public service, like say teachers or nurses or coppers, wants more money for the cushy jobs they do.

“Most of those laid off are seasonal and part-time staff, while the 200,000 remaining state employees would have their full salaries restored when a budget was agreed, the governor said.

“Today I am exercising my executive authority to avoid a full-blown crisis and keep our state moving forward,” he said.

“This is not an action I take lightly but we do not have a budget and, as governor, I have a responsibility to make sure our state has enough money to pay its bills.” 

… Asked whether his administration would sue the state financial controller’s office if it did not comply with the executive order, Mr Schwarzenegger said:

“If that’s what it takes. I’m here to make sure that our state functions, and whatever it takes, I will do it.” (Source: BBC

Alan Carpenter is no superhero like Arnie and our political system doesn’t allow the premier to sign away workers in the stroke of a pen on an executive order as has happened in the US. But in WA, where we have a worker shortage, the state is not going to function at all without happy teachers or nurses or coppers.

Like the man said, whatever it takes.

Posted in Diversions, Foreign affairs, Industrial relations, Perth, Politics, West Australian politics | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Can free rent for artists make the city cool?

Posted by occidentprone on July 30, 2008

There’s a plan afoot to turn dead retail space in the dead heart of dead Perth city into artists’ garrets.

The West Australian‘s paper edition today – but AGAIN not the website – reports property groups such as Hawaiian are making upstairs spaces in the Carillon and the Hay and Murray street malls available at low rent or even no rent to artists. Perth Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi says the landlords are “good corporate citizens”.

More than 90 artists are on a waiting list for city studio space.

Can a place be made cool like this? Can a bohemian vibe be manufactured in this way by the city council?

I don’t see why not. Artists’ ghettoes have long been in places that were dead to the more materially minded and Perth city is in need of resuscitation. And by jewellers and painters and artisans moving in, paradoxically, it becomes cool again.

In a post a few months back I looked at some criteria for making a place desirable but outside the obvious shopping-cafe precinct kind of way. Free rent is another way to draw life back in.

Posted in Diversions, Perth | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

International relations amid the art deco of Mt Lawley

Posted by occidentprone on July 26, 2008

“And here’s one of little Stevie on the first day of school – yes he was potty trained, he was just nervous.” A proud mum tells her adult son’s new friend everything she needs to know for a fruitful relationship.

Here’s what it is: The most powerful woman in the world comes to Perth, home of Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister and he takes Condoleezza Rice to Cino To Go in Mt Lawley with his parents.

The Australian today has a pic of little Stevie with the very important Dr Rice and his mum and dad, in an ordinary Perth coffee shop.

For shame.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Cino To Go, hell I even like Smith. He’s been my federal member for some years and like his mum I’ve always believed in him and wanted him to do well. But this is an embarrassment and I’m not so sure he’s the man we need representing our sophisticated, modern face to the world.

Of all the hopes and aspirations political commentators and international affairs observers had for Rice’s visit – an insight into US foreign policy, a hint on future moves in Afghanistan and the Middle East – and Smith takes the US Secretary of State to his daughter’s school and his local cafe.

A few days ago commenter Skink said he too was represented by Smith and maybe the good minister could take Condi to Charcoal Chicken for a feed. I thought Skink was taking the piss but he must have had a peek in Smith’s diary. Maybe the chook shop was shut. Maybe Condi was over chicken after ASEAN. Maybe he’s trying to help Labor’s Karen Brown win the state seat of Mt Lawley. Maybe this is all a bad dream.

Here’s what The West had to say about the visit:

On lighter matters, Dr Rice revealed she and Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith had spent time explaining the rules of cricket and American football to one another.

She said she had enjoyed meeting Mr Smith’s family, and now loves “flat whites” after tasting one at a Perth coffee shop earlier today.

On an overcast day, Dr Rice’s luck held out with the rain starting to fall shortly after she left the park to head to the airport to fly on to New Zealand.

Dr Rice praised Perth as a beautiful city and a special part of Australia and said its openness and optimism reminded her of western America, which is her heart’s home.

Speaking of flat whites, maybe Smith had to cram the cringe-worthy family meetings into Rice’s itinerary (she also met his daughter and son) because he’s aware this gig is short-lived.

And if he wants the open and optimistic relationship with the States to continue Smith should start professing his love for long blacks.

Posted in Australian politics, Diversions, Foreign affairs, Perth, Politics | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Condoleezza Rice goes bush

Posted by occidentprone on July 21, 2008

Condoleezza Rice is coming to Perth on Thursday and Friday. The first and last time a US secretary of state visited Perth was 1985.

Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith says Condi’s visit will focus on energy security and minerals wealth. His statement, published pretty much the same on Fairfax, West, and Murdoch websites, is filled with vacuous platitudes about “alliance relationship” and “significant economic and social contribution” and “responsive to climate change difficulties” and other bureacracy-speak blah-blah. (He must have swallowed the same public service jargon manual as Rudd for all emotion and excitement to be stripped out of every event.)

Just as the Rudd Government is extricating itself from Howard’s tagalong with Bush’s wars, and Rice is coming to the end of her tenure, she is taking time to use all her travel chits:

“She describes it as a home town visit, she’s never been to Perth before and she wants to see the delights of Perth and we will do our best to accommodate that,” Mr Smith said.
“So there’ll be serious business to attend to but she also wants to see some of the beauty of Perth and that’s as it should be.”

Her complicity with Bush’s foreign affairs catastrophes aside, Dr Rice’s trip to Perth is a coup for the city and for Smith. Get your phone cameras ready for Condiwatch.

See Stephen Smith’s transcript of his meeting with Dr Rice in January here.

Posted in Australian politics, Foreign affairs, Perth, Politics | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

Give me a home among the gum trees … or anywhere

Posted by occidentprone on July 16, 2008

The New York Times reports that more struggling Americans are taking in boarders to cover costs in the housing disaster over there. This helps the homebuyers battling to make ends meet and it gives cheap rent to the otherwise homeless.

Could this be a trend here in WA – as if the desperate haven’t already thought of it – where agencies mediate between would-be boarders and landlords.

Like other home-sharing agencies, St. Ambrose conducts background checks on both parties, screening out people with criminal records or histories of drug or alcohol abuse, or those who cannot afford to be stable homeowners or renters. A 10-point questionnaire sorts candidates’ feelings about pets, smoking, overnight guests and other points of compatibility.

“So far we’ve had no bodily damage,” said Annette Brennan, the program’s director (St. Ambrose provides a full range of housing services). “I say that quietly so as not to jinx it.”

In some communities, local zoning laws or homeowner associations may limit the number of nonrelated people who can live in a house. Ms. Brennan said that home-sharing could help some people caught in the housing downturn, but that its benefits were limited.

“Where we see it being of value is if someone is having short-term problems,” she said. “The average stay of a sharer is about a year, and some are much less. It’s good for someone leaving a marriage or a relationship, or going to school. You can’t count on it as a regular income. It’s a stopgap.”

Nearly 1000 people a week are moving to WA after hearing the streets are paved with gold, and experts and economists say the state needs that many to staff the boom.

There will inevitably be even more people falling in the gaps if their expectations are not met; if they can’t afford to live where the jobs are; if their relationship disintegrates after arrival; if they have health or other problems while isolated from friends and family interstate or overseas. It happens to people attracted to the bright lights of LA and New York and London, it happened to those who rushed to the gold fields in the 1800s, it’s happening anywhere there’s a fortune to be made.

Last year, Mission Australia said:

One of WA’s leading providers of crisis accommodation services has seen a large increase in the number of families needing housing support who are unable to pay the spiralling rents and mortgages brought about by the state’s booming housing market.
Between July and December 2003, Mission Australia’s Wattle House community service in Maddington received 329 requests for housing from families. Three and a half years later, between January and June 2007, the same service had 439 families requiring housing support – an increase of more than 30 per cent.
Mission Australia’s State Director, WA, Angie Paskevicius, said due to the large increase in housing prices and rents in Perth and WA over the past three years, more and more families were finding themselves homeless, at risk of homelessness, or living in overcrowded and unsuitable accommodation.

There’s another boom going on here too, a boom in social disasters, but it’s difficult to spot if you’ve got your eye on the stock market or your rental property.

Posted in Diversions, Perth | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Ledger frenzy builds

Posted by occidentprone on July 15, 2008

Batman fever is nothing in Perth compared to Heath Ledger fever. The two macabre pasttimes crashed last night when The Dark Knight, featuring home boy Ledger, premiered.

Now PerthNow reports that Ledger’s last will and testament will be played out in a West Australian court.

Heath Ledger’s daughter Matilda Rose’s claim to his estate will be decided in a West Australian court, after he left everything to his parents and sisters.

The executors of the late actor’s will, drawn up before Matilda’s birth, have applied for probate in the WA Supreme Court in Perth. 

While Ledger left everything to his parents and three sisters, it is understood they have legal advice that under WA law, the toddler is entitled to the lion’s share. 

However her mother, actor Michelle Williams, will have to officially lodge a claim with the court supported by an affidavit which could end up in the public domain, legal experts said.

The executors of Ledger’s estate, businessman Robert Collins and accountant Mark Dyson, late last week advertised in Perth’s daily newspaper for “creditors and other persons” having claims on the estate to lodge them by August 11.

This is to ensure all debts are paid before the estate is distributed, local lawyer Edwin Abdo said.

According to documents filed in a New York court after Ledger died in January, he only had $145,000 worth of assets in the US, but his entire fortune, mostly held in Australian trusts, is likely to be worth up to $20 million.

Perth’s share of hysterical and hyper-parochial media is frothing at the mouth no doubt. This morning PerthNow, WAToday and The West all had breathless reports about Ledger’s swan song and the premieres, including in New York and that other gothic metropolis – sunny Perth. A court case of that magnitude and featuring anyone who can even spell Hollywood, let alone met the troubled genius, will render the city’s professional gawpers paralysed.

PerthNow has even come up trumps with a story about another tragedy in ledger’s inner circle. Get this:

More tragedy for Dark Knight’s Heath Ledger

AS his lauded performance in The Dark Knight drew continued focus on his sad passing, more tragedy has hit Heath Ledger’s Hollywood circle.

The Aussie actor’s make-up artist, Lucy Crawford, is battling serious injuries after she was the victim of a hit-and-run car accident.

A woman driver was charged over the weekend in relation to the July 2 incident which has left the British-born creative professional with a crushed pelvis, head wounds and internal injuries.

I feel a conspiracy theory coming on.

Posted in Diversions, Media, Perth | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »