The need for billionaire balance

Courtesy of John Hempton at Bronte Capital (that other great Australian business blog):

Wayne Swan the Treasurer of Australia (in UK parlance the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in US parlance the Secretary of the Treasury) has been publicly criticizing the new Australian billionaires and their political influence warning that they are a risk to the Australian ethos of the “fair go”.

He is quoted as follows:

“A handful of vested interests that have pocketed a disproportionate share of the nation’s economic success now feel they have a right to shape Australia’s future to satisfy their own self-interest.”Swan’s critics have accused him of “class warfare”.

This will be highly familiar to American readers who have got used to living in a world where lots of money gives you better access to speech. I have barely met an American who disagrees with this sentiment but mainly when the said pile of money disagrees with them.

To liberals in America the Koch brothers are evil incarnate.

Several conservatives think the same thing about Warren Buffett when he argues the rich should pay more tax. Governor’s Christie’s comments were just plain angry. George Soros induces apoplexy in some conservatives.

And most Americans think there is something unseemly about K-Street and the influence peddling lobbyists of Capital Hill.

Money politics – American style – is settling in in Australia. Wayne Swan knows it.

But in Australia it is potentially much more dangerous than in America. Our new-era Australian billionaires – the ones Wayne Swan rails against – are all billionaires from resource extraction. They all get their money by digging up things that potentially belong to all Australians and selling them to foreigners. And they railed against the resource rent tax (a tax whereby the rest of us got paid something for their bounty). As well they might. And they rail against carbon trading schemes.

Indeed American style money politics in Australia is far more insidious than in the US because our billionaires are far less diverse. A diversity in billionaires (and in the way they make their money) gives us a diversity of billionaire opinion. You can get the Koch Brothers and George Soros in one system – and to some extent their opinions (and the money with which they foist them onto the rest of us) offset each other. The balance is preserved.

Here we risk no balance. And so I am writing a post to tell you just how important Frank Lowy has become. Frank is an opinionated billionaire who made his money from property management and shopping centres. He is “Mr Westfield”. He is also highly opinionated and funds his own think-tank (the Lowy Institute). I have in the past disagreed with him strongly – but at the moment I am just darn pleased that he is there.

Lowy is fighting with Clive Palmer (a resources billionaire) about of all billionaire disputes – the business of owning football teams. But I hope that is just the start of it. He is our most opinionated non-resource billionaire, one with a global perspective – and suddenly he is part of the future of Australian democracy.

Frank Lowy (despite the high quality think-tank) has never shown the intellectual depth and breadth of vision of George Soros. I am just as familiar with his influence on local councils (getting his projects approved and his competitor projects rejected) than I am with his global vision. But Frank is all we have got. Billionaire visions are pretty thin around here.

I never thought I would say this. Frank Lowy – your country needs you.

John

PS. I am a hedge fund manager. My job is to find rich people, invest their money and make them richer. The rise of an Australian plutocracy is thus in my interests but I would prefer a plurality of plutocrat clients.

Comments

  1. He’s a long way from a billionaire, but we have Dick Smith as well. Do we have any other vocal, liberal multi-millionaires?

    • Please don’t invoke Dick Smith, I’ll cringe if I hear him talk publicly again.

      The guy has a business empire built on imported electronics yet he runs around with this anti-Chinese-imports xenophobia.

      • Jono,

        Dick Smith sold DSE to Woolworths in 1982. The cheap imported electronics ‘period’ was all Woolworths.

        Dick Smith electronics supplied electronic components, kits etc to hobbyists and students. As an electronic technician, I would regularly buy parts to repair faulty electronic items. I think he sold out when it became apparent that ‘cheap throw away’ was where we were inexorably headed.

        Personally, I see his current position as being entirely consistent with that.

        My 2c

    • Dick Smith is a complex character; he is truly contradictory. He is a massive Greens & environment supporter, but wanted to build an eco lodge in Tasmania that was sustainably developed and had a falling out with Bob Brown over it. He wants to cap our population in Australia and is fiercely protectionist and he wants young people to be adventurous and climb things and risk life & limb and he rails against the way we over protect our kids. He has planes, helicopters & 4WD’s, lives on huge acres, owns many properties and tells us to reduce our carbon footprint! A complex man indeed!

      • Don’t think its that complicated. When Dick Smith started a large amount of appliances and electronics could be made in Australia. The globalisation of Australia wasn’t as much of an issue then; and Australia was a different country than it is today. To be honest just because you profit from something doesn’t mean you agree with it. After all most of us can’t change the world – better to ride the wave and profit before it all blows up. A far easier option.

        Its becoming an issue now because it is starting to affect the way we live, what we eat, and most states are hitting infrastructure constraints now with no money to improve it.

        • AK – you are correct, back in the swinging 60’s when Dick started it was indeed a different world – no worries about the environment or global warming (but it was global cooling & possible nuclear warfare) – but I get your point, Dick would not have thought of the consequences of when he was importing and that an Australian electrical industry would fall by the wayside. I am surprised though that both sides of politics don’t really seem to care about the 1 million jobs in manufacturing, for they are surely going – with the help of the ‘free trade’ mantra……why kick the crapper valve out of the Industry in the name of globalisation?

          • Bill Gates made a sh*t load of money out of some dubious business practices in the late nineties and early noughties. He’s doing plenty of good now, for which he gets very little credit.

            Apple OTOH is getting away with murder, some seriously anti-competitive stuff that the Micro$oft of old would never have contemplated. And AFAIK, Jobs was no philanthropist.

            So whatever Dick Smith may have done in the past, I’m prepared to judge him on what he does today. Whatever your views on population policy for Australia, I think its a debate we should have, and we wouldn’t be having it without Dick.

          • Dick Smith is about the only guy I know that has had a go at trying to fix our CAD , his Dick Smith Australian food manufacturing business, and his Australian Geographic etc at least he has had a go at trying to manufacture something. The other thing about Dick Smith, is every Anzac day he is in George St publicly acknowledging sacrifices made for the nation.
            I count him as more deserving national treasure than Clive Palmer, thats for sure.

    • Dick Smith believes doubling the Australian population over 40 years will result in a havling of per capita wealth. What else do you need to know about him?

      • Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist — Kenneth E. Boulding, Economist.

        So which are you Lucius? Economist or mad? Or both?

  2. Toppling and replacing a Prime Minister (Rudd) for similar ideas regarding resources, maybe by different means, is baffling. Why? Rudd open his mouth about this stuff and, well we know the rest.

    Could many people be in a real bad way or heading that way, and Swan is deflecting (angry) attention off the Government to the “Rich Bastards”?

    Is the Government in need of a lot of money for whatever many reasons and now is bullying the biggest end of town for it through populism?

    OK, Taxing this end of town, or breaking a bigger share will bring in more money, but will it be the country’s saviour?

    This class war tagging is quite extreme, class war did kill many millions last century.

    Can’t there be billionaires here?

    And who said those resources were yours/ours anyway? Does sovereignty and citizenship entitle you to anything these days? Other than fultile things like voting.

    • We’d like to think that as a free country, we get freedom of speech and freedom of association as a set of inalienable rights.

      If a billionaire from the left or right want to pay thousands for advertisements in the media, then its up to the media owners to accept or reject that.

      Its all a storm in a tea cup.

      Are we really that concerned that the unwashed masses are so easily influenced by short advertorial messages ?

      • Yes we are. And it’s far more than that. It’s captured editorial. It’s bogus research. It’s lobbying and donations. Moral suasion too.

        Do you thnk democracy takes casre of itself?

      • “Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely”. When billionaire’s children start whinging because they haven’t got a chef, watch out for their mothers. A deep-seated sense of entitlement doesn’t mix well with control of the media…

      • Yes, because even the obvious paid ones still have an affect. At the very least they change the nature of the debate- where the parameters are set.
        The scary part is where they start influencing the actual programs- the tv shows and movies. These do influence our perception of reality.
        I grew up in a mining town in the US, I would prefer not to import some of those issues (and mine was a relativley ok town)

      • Are we really that concerned that the unwashed masses are so easily influenced by short advertorial messages ?

        Man, you just removed the single principle on which an entire industry exists!!

        Why do companies have to advertise their products?? The same principle apply regardless of what is advertised.

  3. They all get their money by digging up things that potentially belong to all Australians and selling them to foreigners.

    No, they get their money by digging up things that belong to the States. The digger assumes all risk and in return for that right dig the States’s resources, the States charge a royalty.

    I’m thinking Palmer’s big mistake was to go public instead of hiring lobbyists owned and staffed by ex-labor hacks, so that whatever deals are done are done in back rooms away from public scrutiny.

      • What rubbish. The States are the monopoly owners of the resource, they have absolute power over whether a miner can dig and at what price they dig. The States have probably done the sums and figure out if they obtain more from royalties Canberra will stiff them on GST so zero sum game and not worth it.

        • So Tasmania is no less equipped to extract a fair price for royalties than the Commonwealth of Australia? That doesn’t pass the laugh test.

          Moreover the compeition between states alone puts them at a disadvantage.

          Wise up, mining is slowly but surely losing the support of the people.

          • Competition between states? FFS.

            We’re not talking about states competing to see who gets to host the grand prix.

            At any level of state royalties miners can choose to mine or not mine.

            If WA doubles the royalties miners can choose to do the numbers, suck it up and pay, or not mine. Likewise if they triple the royalties and so on. This is all within WAs power to extract as much or as little as they want.

            BHP and Rio etc cannot say “fuck you WA, we aren’t going to pay your stinking royalties and we’re going to take the Pilbara with us and go elsewhere.”

            Sometimes it is hard to know with you if you are just baiting or actually believe something but if you believe this nonsense it is easily the craziest frakking thing I have read on this blog. Daylight second.

          • I’ve left your abuse in to illustrate my point. Mining is losing its grip. It either gets back on message or its going find its support ebbing away.

            On states competing, you’re probably right it’s not the strongest argument.

            But the main point stands. The Commonwealth is clearly more powerfaul than any given state. This is a simple truism in economic circles around the debate.

          • For the commonwealth to have more power than a states in these matters it would have to have the power to grant approval to mine overriding a state decision.

            Approval to mine rests with the states. They have the monopoly power. The commonwealth only has blocking powers, via environmental legislation and so on but it has no powers that add to the monopoly power that an individual state already has w.r.t. its resources.

            I’ve left your abuse in to illustrate my point.

            😥

          • So Tasmania is no less equipped to extract a fair price for royalties than the Commonwealth of Australia? That doesn’t pass the laugh test.

            If someone wants to mine in Tasmania it is Tasmania that must approve it and charge the royalty. If the miner doesn’t like the amount of royalties that Tasmania set they have two choices: suck it up and pay anyway or don’t mine. Tasmania is a monopoly owner of Tasmania’s resources.

            Why is that so hard for you to understand.

          • So what exactly would the commonwealth be negotiating when it is Tasmania that owns the resources and must approve a mine in Tasmania?

            If you transfer the powers from states to commonwealth all you are doing is transferring monopoly ownership.

            Tasmania having the monopoly ownership and saying 10% royalty take it or leave it, doesn’t have any more or less power than Canberra having the monopoly ownership and saying 10% royalty take it or leave it. The resources are not transferable — something with you seem to have overlooked.

            Let me make it simple for you. If you lived in an isolated town with one plumber, he is the guy you use and you pay whatever he charges. If his business gets purchased by Dynacorp International the global behemoth with lots of power, you still pay whatever he charges. He is a monopoly supplier of plumbing services in that geographic location. The weight of Dynacorp doesn’t had to the monopoly power he already had.

        • The States are the monopoly owners of the resource, they have absolute power over whether a miner can dig and at what price they dig.

          Come on, drop the ‘defender of state’s right” act. It is nothing more than the ole British ‘Divide and Conquer’ corporate strategy.

          The reason you defend states right is because the rent-seeking miners have a good hold over state politics, especially in the resource-rich states. They know they can dictate public policy a lot easier at the state level.

          • It is not divide and conquer it is the law as it stands.

            You seem to be confusing your belief that the States aren’t charging enough, with a belief that they do not have the power to charge more. Just because they are not doing what you would like doesn’t mean that they are unable to do what you like through lack of relevant powers.

            So presumably because you want a state to charge more than it is you want to commonwealth to intervene? And what if the commonwealth government of the day doesn’t do what you want, who would you like to intervene then …or maybe you will argue to hand the power back to the states then?

            As for the power that miners have, we have already seen a back room deal at the federal level with 3 miners. You need to remove your rose coloured glasses.

          • It is not divide and conquer it is the law as it stands.

            Oh really!! If Barnett were to grow a spine and pass state legislation to change the royalty system to capture more of the windfall profits, what would you do?

            My bet is you’ll be on here in a flash, bleating loudly about how Barentt is confiscating private property (with 3d1k, flawse et al joining the Rerd).

          • So again you confuse a personal belief about what the appropriate level of royalties are with whether the States have the power to set royalties as they see fit.

            On your other emotive comment, how on earth could raising royalties be considered confiscation of property? I mean, seriously? If you’d paid attention you would note that my argument is based on the States owning the resources. So how could they be confiscating something they already own?

          • Bryan Kavanagh

            Agree, MAV. We could do as we do with the GST – the feds collect the mining rent and deliver it back to the states. And Krusty might like to know there’s plenty of business-based evidence of going concerns being leased on the basis of a 50/50 split of profit before tax between the owner (as lessee of the business) and the tenant (as his profit).

            That’s what the States should be receiving on behalf of their people: 50% of the miners’ net profit before tax. No biggie – except for rip-off merchants the likes of Gina Rinehart, Andrew Forrest and Clive Palmer who I notice are now being defended for their thieving from Australians by the once half-reasonable IPA.

          • On your other emotive comment, how on earth could raising royalties be considered confiscation of property?

            Then how on earth is Fed’s right to tax be considered confiscation of property? I had even invited mining fanboys here to launch a court challenge if they deem it to be confiscation.

            I won’t bother with a detailed response to your “emotive” comment accusation – suffice it to say that I am not the one here making emotive arguments around “property confiscation”, “Tall poppie syndrome”, “class warfare” etc etc.

          • I won’t bother with a detailed response to your “emotive” comment accusation – suffice it to say that I am not the one here making emotive arguments around “property confiscation”, “Tall poppie syndrome”, “class warfare” etc etc.

            Mav I will happily donate $100 to the charity of your choice if you can point out where I’ve referred to property confiscation — other than to quote you — tall poppy syndrome, class warfare etc. etc.

            You are the one introducing this rubbish into this thread.

            I have simply noted that the states are monopoly owners of the resources and have the power to tax as they see fit.

            Quite bizarre that something I would have thought was self evident would draw such a hysterical response.

            That you may not like how they are taxing does not change that fact.

            And now you are going on about the Feds and taxing and confiscation.

            So knock yourself out about confiscation, tall poppies, class warfare, phases of the moon, the floods, air safety, my kitchen rules, the cricket, essendon flying to wangaratta instead of driving …or anything else that is on your random radar, but it has nothing to do with my comment(s).

            Bryan Kavanagh, the states are able to charge 50% if they desire. If you want them to do that then why not write to your politicians and ask them to do it.

          • Politically, these current days,
            the states hold the upper hand.
            [speaking from WA]

            In AFL parlance it is a free kick in the square.
            You want to up royalties? Slap in the manifesto for the next election and dare the other side to repudiate.
            The billionaires want to have a crack? Who are they going to play to?
            I didn’t hear much from Kloppers or Albanese when the equalisation went through.
            And I know they were in town at the time.

          • Oh and consider this little hand grenade.
            When Barnett equalized the fines and lump ore royalties it was the feds that bleated loudest.

            Hand grenade to some but obviously a data point showing a State has the power to adjust royalties without wetting their pants and having to get Canberra to do the negotiation.

          • Agree, Confiscation and CAD are pet themes of Flawse, not you.

            If you want them to do that then why not write to your politicians and ask them to do it.

            Oh Really? Is that what the MCA did when the Fed’s introduced the RSPT? Did they write to the politicians instead of launching attack ads and supplying polling figures to roll the Prime Minister of the day?

          • If you want them to do that then why not write to your politicians and ask them to do it.

            Oh Really? Is that what the MCA did when the Fed’s introduced the RSPT? Did they write to the politicians instead of launching attack ads and supplying polling figures to roll the Prime Minister of the day?

            Now you are just rambling. Mr Kavanagh was saying royalties should be 50%. I suggested he should write to politicians and tell them that. If he is wealthy enough then he could also take out ads saying he wanted higher royalties. And if he had polling figures that will help him get his way then go for it mate. But none of the above has anything whatsoever to do with the comments I have made in this thread about states ownership of resources.

        • PS
          Looky who is pissed off now.
          Excerpt from the West Aust.

          But Mr Barnett said it was unacceptable for Mr Swan to attack people like that.

          “Gina Rinehart, Andrew Forrest and Clive Palmer have no influence over the West Australian government.

          “They have no particular rights or privileges and Wayne Swan seemed to imply that they were able to use their personal wealth to influence decisions,” the premier told ABC radio.

          “That does not happen in Western Australia.”

  4. John – let me get this correct; you seem not to like the politics/philosophy/world views of our ‘Resource Billionaire’s’. As a shining beacon of balance you hold up Lowy to counter the ‘opinions’ of said billionaires. Last time I looked, I saw that Twiggy Forrest was DOING something unbelievably positive for Indigenous Australian’s, by wanting to employ 100,000’s of them and as most people in business know, Lowy is the ultimate in driving his profits, by profiteering from his those who want to rent shopping space from him at any of his Westfield centres……I have heard so many horror stories of how Lowy, through Westfield drives people to despair. I have not heard that about Palmer, Rhinehardt or Forrest. Plus John, you have the MSM, the Education system and the intellectual elite – can’t we just have a few billionaires having a crack? Not the end of the world stuff John – just good democratic debate.

    • dumb_non_economist

      Yes Neil, UNBELIEVABLE is correct. There are people over here who would disagree with you and say it’s a nicely run facade. Closer to the truth would be the busing of indigenous from Carnavan to the Pilbara to vote for what suits him and not the local indigenous.

  5. ceteris paribus

    “Envious” of those billionaires? You gotta be joking. Whingeing for tax concessions and industry welfare, they don’t know the meaning of wealth. Impoverishment has many faces.

  6. We live in an information rich (overload?) time. I see and hear so much that it becomes a blur but I do read and listen because I have the time. Those who are time poor will only see and hear the loudest voice. Those with the most money can be heard above all others. Thats what bothers the government.

    Why are they doing this? I think its because they are denied access through the normal “Melbourne Club elite” pathways. I think they are denied ‘membership’ because they are

    Too ‘crass’
    Seen as ‘short term'(Mining is always cyclical)
    Hated ( envied?) by those that are running industries etc because of the effects of mining on their businesses.

    I think they see the ‘in crowd’ is ganging up on them behind closed doors and are fighting back.

    For the record, I live in Perth, hate what mining has done to the social fabric of this city and wish that all vested interests would STFU!!

  7. The billionaires should remember Kerry Packer’s wisdom from the 80’s, he did not have his father’s hatred of the Labor party. I believe he had a quote along the lines of you make more money from working with a government than fighting it.

  8. Alex Heyworth

    Anyone else struck by the irony of Swan writing a tirade against the influence of billionaires in a publication that is the personal mouthpiece of wealthy property developer Morry Schwartz?

    • Should he have read his essay on the Bolt Report ? Published it on the IPA website ? This blog ? Morry Schwartz is neither a billionaire, a major contributor to conservative politics, or instigating a public battle against Labor on the issue of taxation.

      You do have a valid point about media owners using their publications as a personal mouthpiece.

      • Alex Heyworth

        OK, so Schwartz is not a billionaire. A minor nitpick. He’s still in the extremely wealthy category. And a major contributor to left wing politics.

  9. Toyota think you need to ask “why?” 5 times to get to the root of a problem. Otherwise your beating “Effect” over the head with a hammer and “Cause” is still free to run amok.

    Swan is attacking the mining proprietors.

    Why 1.
    They were able to negotiate less tax than he initialy proposed.

    Why2.
    They weakened electrol support by placing advertising. It played on existing doubts that the Govt had been fiscaly responsible, it suggested that their investment was supporting the economy and may stop. It claimed they already paid a “fair” amount of tax.

    Why3.
    The Govt thought the Henry review was sufficient explaination to legitimise the new tax.

    Why4.
    The Govt had recent success is anouncing policy direction and then negotiating the “fine print” many months later. It was able to deflect later criticisms due blind faith, an unpopular opposition and/or an apathetic electorate.

    Why5.
    Thats how you behave when you win an election with a landslide majority.

    So I don’t think the “Billionarie self interest” is a significant new ingredient in the mix. Rudd/JG and Swan thought American style “trust me” politics would work here in OZ, now they know better.

  10. Bryan Kavanagh

    Been there, done that, Krusty. I belong to an organisation which has made submissions and representations to state and federal governments for more than 110 years of the need to capture the annual value of our land and resources, instead of penalty taxes on labour and capital.

    We’ve noted over that period that the failure to do so creates millionaires (now billionaires) and recurrent recessions and depression at the public’s expense.

    We went as far as to say to Ken Henry’s inquiry into Australia’s Future Tax System that we’ll shortly be having an economic depression if we dodn’t look at greater capture of our land and resource rents.

    I even got to put the case to Treasury’s AFTS people in Canberra- and Ken Henry’s panel seems to have listened to us.

    But now you’re saying we should forget all that and take it back to the states? To bury it forever, no doubt, Krusty?

    • Alex Heyworth

      PS, although Soos doesn’t mention it directly, his article does highlight why you will always have trouble pushing for a land tax – the top 10% of households have 38% of all property wealth. This would include quite a few top public servants, both federal and state, as well as a majority of politicians. They’re not going to give up their gravy train lightly.

    • +10 .. And I’ll continue the thread here..

      According to Krusty, you should get a billionaire to back you up on that and you’ll be right and alright. Until then, you are wrong and you’ll have to suck it up if pollies at the state or Fed don’t listen to you, no matter how well you build your case with facts, figures and examples.

      • -10

        there you go again. At some point feel free to comment on something I have actually written.

        Each and every one of us has to suck it up when state and federal politicians make decisions we do not agree with no matter how well our opinions may be framed.

        • Alright, lets deal with what you have said – states have ownership over resources.

          I am saying your motivation for the defence of state’s right is because the chicken little mid-level mining billionaires are in a position to dictate public policy at the state level.

          While the Federal government has been politically captured by the big gun miners and their proxy, the MCA.

          Either ways, this country is [email protected]#@ed – both at the state and the Federal level.

          • OK Mav in your reply to krusty chavez

            “I am saying your motivation for the defence of state’s right is because the chicken little mid-level mining billionaires are in a position to dictate public policy at the state level.”

            Mr Barnett at least disagrees

            Excerpt from the West Aust.But Mr Barnett said it was unacceptable for Mr Swan to attack people like that.“Gina Rinehart, Andrew Forrest and Clive Palmer have no influence over the West Australian government.“They have no particular rights or privileges and Wayne Swan seemed to imply that they were able to use their personal wealth to influence decisions,” the premier told ABC radio.“That does not happen in Western Australia.”

            Can we both discuss?

            My end point is what do major mining houses have to pay?

          • hahahaha.. why is Col Barnett sooo defensive?? Defensive guild much??

            “Gina Rinehart, Andrew Forrest and Clive Palmer have no influence over the West Australian government.

            Swanny has not suggested or implied anything of the sort Barnett says he implied.

            All Swanny has said is that in order to influence public opinion and public policy thereafter, the mining barons are buying up media, launching ads campaigns and purchasing airtime for their favoured noxious shockjocks.

    • But now you’re saying we should forget all that and take it back to the states? To bury it forever, no doubt, Krusty?

      No, because ownership, and the right to charge royalties on resources under the ground, has never left the states, so by definition it is not a matter of taking it back (to the states).

      Until you acknowledge what the current situation is, it is doubtful you can develop credible alternatives.

      As I pointed out in my reply to your other comment, the power to charge 50% royalties already exists — you just need to convince the politicians to up the rate. You and others here seem to confuse a decision not to charge 50% (or whatever number each any every one of you advocate) with an absence of the ability/power to do it.

      • Yes and the Feds have by far the greater slice of tax revenue, with which to belt the living daylights out of any of the states who don’t toe the line.
        So quantify what should be paid and get it done.
        The Feds don’t get soft power apparently.

  11. JacksonMEMBER

    Krusty’s point is simply about who owns the mineral rights in the constitution. It’s the vibe, man (Dennis Denuto). Right or wrong, that’s the current situation, and in my view any changes should take place outside of a mining boom, just like major water infrastructure decisions should not be made during drought (but always invariably are!).

    As for John Hampton’s “diversity of billionaire’s” hypothesis – interesting, but I don’t think there is such a thing. They are a very specific personality type, living somewhat parallel to most people’s reality, and I don’t think the industry that gave them their wealth has much to do with their “opinion”. I doubt much difference in the views of Packer, Stokes, Pratt (dec), Forrest, Rinehart, or Lowy on anything.

    As for identifying a stoush over football as a trigger point for bigger things – please! Round ball tragic as I am, it’s a pimple on far more significant national issues (until the next World Cup of course).

  12. now as i represent the common (wo)man
    and we common peeps still watch the teev, I am entertained just now to see 7.30 report interview of bob brown… worth a transcript….. he is in charge of the country, and he has very interesting views on miners, business, taxes etc etc ….

    how soon exactly can we have a national election, I need a countdown in days