More bad news for Turnbull: Labor stays ahead in the polls

This makes it 19 in a row. Still a way to go to equal Tony Abbott’s PM toppling 30 but the signs are not good.


For some inexplicable reason,  preferences are allocated on the basis of the 2016 election.

When voters were asked how they would allocate preferences – rather than relying on 2016 preference flows – the contest between the two major parties narrowed slightly, with Labor’s lead reduced to 52 to 48 per cent.

It’s simple really, why don’t pollsters publish results based on asking voters what their current preference intentions are. It’s much more accurate.

It will also be good to know what the intentions are for the Senate. Because the voting intentions shown in this poll are for the lower house. And nowadays the Senate is very much an important part of the political mix.

Nonetheless, Malcolm Turnbull is going to need a Tampa crisis, a nuclear war on the  Korean Peninsula or a political scandal of the Jim Cairns scale thrown into the mix to save his political scalp.


Blackhearts and Sparrows, Scion wine tasting: slightly “different than”

Blackhearts and Sparrows is a Swan Street wine merchant specialising in carefully chosen high-quality Australian and international wines. It has an excellent range of good quality wines across a wide price range. If you’re in the area, it’s worth a visit.


Last night it had a tasting of reds from Rutherglen winemaker, Scion.


I asked the young woman behind the counter about the wines on tasting. “They are very different than anything you’ve ever had from Rutherglen,” she said, which was interesting because I’d probably been drinking Rutherglen for longer than she’d been alive. “They are very linear and driven,” which made me realise I been speaking English for longer as well.

Now I have always found the translation of the  flavours of wine into words to be rather fraught and best done with two people, one of whom knows a lot about wine and uses the language particularly well, drinking wine together. But I digress.

I should have known better than to go and taste the wines. I always wind up disappointed or exasperated for any one of myriad reasons.  But I never heard of Scion  but have been a long-term fan of Rutherglen wines. So I thought, “Nothing to lose.”

When I arrived at the tasting, a young man was explaining to what look like group of thoughtful young aficionados what I assume was the linear relationship between a kangaroo and one of the red wines. Fortunately, I didn’t catch it. Linear relationships sometimes have a tendency towards incomprehensible bifurcation.


But again,  I digress.

“Would you like to try a Chardonnay from the Yarra?” he said. Yes I would.  He returned to the wine/kangaroo relationship. The Chardonnay was beautiful, like nothing I have ever tasted in Australia. I would have bought some.

French Chardonnays (and Burgundies) whisper in your ear:

Come I will  and take you to a foreign land

Where there are enchantments

 Other wines may promise

But they will lie

But this wine is soft sunlight in an orchard in autumn. It is truly exceptional.

” Like to try a Shiraz?”  Sploosh into the Chardonnay tasting glass.  He returned to the thoughtful young aficionados. The shiraz tasted thin with overtones of Chardonnay.  It was getting late, the rugby would be starting soon. I left.

As I left, the young woman asked me “What did you think?” I thought it better not to comment.

As I walked home,  I thought the young man running the wine tasting had been rather rude.

willBut then, I thought he had this group of young people who were clearly interested in the wine and going to buy a lot of it.

Then this old bloke, in jeans, runners, a beanie, a parka and a backpack, looking not much different from the people sitting outside Coles asking for spare change, wanders in, obviously looking for a free drink.

Why should he want to spend time talking to him about how someone has produced a Chardonnay that runs against the trend in Yarra Valley?

I rang Blackhearts and Sparrows who told me the Chardonnay was PRC made by Scion from grapes sourced in the Yarra. It sells for $51 from the vineyard.  Not your every-night quaffer but if you want to impress someone, this wine will do it.


Blackhearts and Sparrows website said the tasting was conducted by the Scion winemaker Rowly Milhinch, the great-great-great grandson of George Francis Morris, the founding father of Morris Wines.


It is a small boutique winemaker in Rutherglen area and has notched up a number of significant awards.  The red wines are in $30-$40 range for the most part but I can’t speak for the quality because I didn’t hang around long enough to taste them.

Poll looks to have confirmed one of my worst-case scenarios for SSM survey

In  yesterday’s blog The SSM Postal Plebiscite: A Lasting Symbol of Turnbull’s inability to lead or govern.,  I outlined this scenario:

A worst-case scenario

The vote is indecisive with a low turnout. Around a 60% turnout and Yes vote doesn’t come out in strength so it’s about 30% all.  This would allow those against  marriage equality to argue that 30% don’t want marriage equality and 40% don’t care.

In The Age today I was proved somewhat  prescient

Support for same-sex marriage has crashed ahead of the Turnbull government’s postal survey, and only two-thirds of voters are inclined to take part, according to the latest polling from same-sex marriage advocates. And alarmingly for “yes” campaigners, turnout could be very low, with just 65 per cent of voters rating themselves as very likely to participate – falling to 58 per cent among those aged 18 to 34.

This is a nightmare scenario for the Yes campaign. Low participation combined with a low turnout in their strongest demographic. It is also exactly what Tony Abbott and his fellow travellers banking on.

And Lyle Sheldon and his mates are out telling everybody that a Yes vote for will be a vote against freedom of speech and will affect what your children can be taught in school which, while untrue, is going to have some effect on some voters.


It also means that Malcolm Turnbull will probably go down in history as the Hillary Clinton of referenda in Australia.  Two massive fails. Failed on the Republic,  now looking to have failed on Marriage Equality.



The SSM Postal Plebiscite: A Lasting Symbol of Turnbull’s inability to lead or govern.

When the High Court decision was handed down, Malcolm Turnbull was on the speaking Parliament crowing words to the effect, “The Australian people will have the opportunity to have their say.”

“Yes, Malcolm. The number of your colleagues have made it quite clear they would be listening.”

It is difficult to think of a worse way of doing it. To start with, it is being organised by a guy who’s going to vote against it.


And a whole lot of people will probably ignore the result if they don’t like it.

And there are so many ways it can go wrong. Malcolm must think of all of them pretty frequently.


 A worst-case scenario

The vote is indecisive with a low turnout. Around a 60% turnout and Yes vote doesn’t come out in strength so it’s about 30% all.  This would allow those against  marriage equality to argue that 30% don’t want marriage equality and 40% don’t care. Now this would run contrary to what opinion polls have been saying for time immemorial but that’s not the point.  It would  further muddy already muddy waters.

 Another worst-case scenario

The No vote is better mobilised than the Yes vote and while voter turnout is low the No  vote has a majority.   This leaves the Labor Party and Bill Shorten in a very difficult position. Does Labor put a private members bill in opposition to the “will of the people”?

Emboldened opponents of Marriage Equality could put a private members bill before Parliament  effectively banning legislation for marriage equality.

 Another worst-case scenario

Slim victory for Yes vote in postal plebiscite but private members bill does not pass lower house.

Best case scenario

Massive victory for the Yes vote, private members bill passed through both houses.





Letter to my Grandson xxxxii

Dear Winton

Last weekend was Father’s Day and I had a lovely Grandfather’s Day present. All the grown-ups have gone off to do their thing and we were left to our own devices at 170.  We decided to have an all-out blitz on bad people and robbers.

I built you a robber who hid under a pillow in the upstairs bedroom.  I must admit you were quite impressed with him. Particularly the red.


The red robber

 You decided to build some cannons out of the Lego to give us some “red power”. The cannons were build predominantly of red Lego.

When I asked you why, you said “Because the bad person is red.”

My systems theory colleagues will be pleased to know that, at the age of three, you have already begun to grasp the fundamental principles of Ross Ashby’s Law of Requisite Variety.

We had to creep up on him very quietly. After we captured him a number of times, you put him in your bed for a rest. You climbed in amongst your soft toys and told me that you were driving a speedboat and chasing some more bad people who were on a boat.

I got my chair and sat next to you.

“Are the bad people in the speedboat going off to bury the treasure on an island?” I asked.

You digested this question from moment and said, “Only pirates bury treasure. Can you get me some treasure, Papa?”

” I think so. I will go and look.” I went next door and found a perspex paperweight and a small jewelry box and brought it through to you.

You looked at them, “Gold!”

“I need to put on my diving mask and dive for some more treasure.” You struggled into your diving mask and swam through next door and came back with a large box/treasure chest full of Lego and dumped it on the speedboat.

“Now I need some more treasure from a long way down.”

You set off down the stairs.

“Do you need me to help you?”

“No I’m all right.” You returned a few minutes later with your bug catcher filled with tan bark which you added to the treasure trove.

“Where robbers get the treasure from, Papa?”

“I think they get this from the toyshop, and this from the Art Gallery, and this from the Museum,” I said indicating each piece of the treasure.

“I think I need some more treasure,” you said and went off and got some books from the bookshelf.  You then sat down and began to read them.

Your attention was now diverted to some wood that was on the bedroom  floor.

“I think this will make a big bed,” you said. Brandon, your current hero, is building some shelves in your bedroom. “I will draw him some instructions.”


Instructions for a big bed

 Yesterday, you decided that you needed a drill that made the same noise as Brandon’s and once we had bought you one, you went out and started helping with the shelving in the annex.


Some serious drilling and plier work

 You spent a good proportion of the afternoon drilling and even doing some rescue drilling while Nana Di was trapped in the toilet.

Later at bath time,  you and I were building dinosaurs in the bath and Nana Di began explaining how an asteroid had wiped out the dinosaurs. I have never seen you so look perplexed.  You are probably not ready for the idea that dinosaurs aren’t around more. They are fairly ubiquitous in various realistic and unrealistic forms.

And I think we have done small children like you a grave disservice when we give you books, even well-intentioned books, that show humans and dinosaurs together.

And as you grow older, you will come in contact with people who really do think that dinosaurs and humans lived together on earth. I know you are surrounded by people who will ensure that you are brought up understanding that these people are all idiots.

Later that evening, you  brought Nana Di a picture book of a little boy and a dinosaur together which showed that they hadn’t been wiped out. And the BBC program “Andy’s Prehistoric Adventure”, which absolutely fascinates you, probably doesn’t help either because time travel is not possible and you can’t talk to dinosaurs.


 You and Nana Di set off on a prehistoric adventure with Andy

And suddenly I realised that there is so much that a small boy needs to understand.

Later, going home in the car, you began to explain the story of the asteroid. You started the story four or five times but you could only begin the first sentence. Finally you said, “I think it was only a toy astroid.”

And I think that is a pretty good explanation coming from a three year old boy.






Putin is probably right. Both sides have to give ground on the Korean Peninsula.

The Age reports: A road map formulated by Moscow and Beijing, which would involve North Korea halting its missile programme in exchange for the United States and South Korea stopping large-scale war games, was a way to reduce tensions, wrote Mr Putin.


Everybody gets very upset when the North Koreans lob a missile over Japan.  Rightly so. It is pretty provocative act.

But what doesn’t get so much attention is that these babies have been flying over North Korea on a regular basis.


They are F-35 fighter jets, pretty much undetectable by even the most sophisticated defence systems, probably the most sophisticated fighter bomber in the world and  certainly capable of wiping out North Korea’s missile capability.

The North Koreans don’t have anything sophisticated by way of defence systems to detect the F-35.

They certainly don’t have an air force capable of matching an F-35. Most of the  Korean Air Force would struggle to make it off the ground.

The US also flew a couple of these over the North Korean capital recently.


This is the B-1 Lancer which can fly at twice the speed of sound, has a range of 6,000km  and can carry 50,000kg go bombs.

You can understand why the North Koreans are feeling threatened by the South Korean and US war-games and are using up precious resources on missile tests.

Putin is right to say that everybody really should  have a cup of tea, a Bex and a lie down.


Some questions for Archbishop Denis Hart about convicted paedophile priest George Ridsdale

If George Ridsdale had not been protected by the confidentiality of the confessional and the first priest who heard his confession reported him to the police would things not have turned out differently for the 65 children that he abused as a Catholic priest?

And when you weigh up the suffering of these children (and we only know of the 65, there may be more) and their families against the confidentiality of the confessional which way  does the balance tip?


On the left is the  edited photograph published in The Age of George Ridsdale appearing in court in 1993. On the  right is the actual photograph. Recognise the guy who appeared supporting  Ridsdale? 

The Age reports that “The latest admissions mean he has 161 convictions for abuse against 65 children – 60 boys and five girls – but the true figure of how many children he sexually abused, and how many lives he damaged, might never be known.”

Denis,  I know that you think the confessional is sacrosanct and here is a picture of you at the altar.


 Butthe ABC reports “The court heard Ridsdale’s offending had no boundaries, with some of the children assaulted inside the confessional box or on the altar”

Surely, you must draw the line somewhere.