Meryl Dorey and the AVN pick the rotten cherries

On 5 October, Deakin University Lecturer in Philosophy Dr Patrick Stokes published an article over at The Conversation headed ‘No, you’re not entitled to your opinion’. Stokes discussed an episode of Media Watch in which the show’s host, Jonathan Holmes, criticised a WIN News story about a measles outbreak in South-West Sydney.

The WIN News story focused on vaccination, presenting two opposing views on the issue. The first view was that of of a medical doctor, who recommended that children be vaccinated. The other view belonged to Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) spokesperson Meryl Dorey, who claimed that ‘All vaccinations in the medical literature have been linked with the possibility of causing autism, not just the measles/mumps/rubella vaccine’ and that children should not be vaccinated.

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It’s good to see Judith Sloan moving into comedy

Judith Sloan

Judith Sloan

It’s good to see Judith Sloan (Productivity Commission and Australian Fair Pay Commission Commissioner, Director of the Westfield Group and Board member of the Lowy Institute) moving into comedy.

In the Weekend Australian (Nov. 26-7), she writes,

…in a perfect world, the ideal arrangement is for employers and employees to reach agreement about wages and conditions by mutual and private consent.
(p. 22)


In the real world, there are more employees to choose from than there are employers. In the real world, employers hire trained negotiators to carry out their end of the bargaining.

In the real world, employers wield more power than employees.

So in the real world, employees increase their power by acting collectively.

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VECCI and Bolt on Baiada

Andrew Bolt

Andrew Bolt

As part of strike action against Baiada Poultry Pty Ltd, from Wednesday 9 November Baiada workers and their supporters set up a picket line to block access to Baiada’s Pipe Rd processing plant in Laverton. On Thursday 17 November the Supreme Court of Victoria issued an interim injunction against the ‘National Union of Workers [NUW] & Others’, the result of which listed parties were required not to block access to the Laverton plant. NUW employees and the listed ‘others’ left the picket line or were removed by police while Baiada workers and their allies who were not listed in the injunction continued to picket. Yesterday, Tuesday 22 November, the picket ended as management and workers reached an agreement on pay and conditions.

In defence of those who continued to hold the picket line, the NUW made the following argument.

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What do Occupy Melbourne want?

Occupy protester

Offering a helping hand

No doubt you’ve heard someone complain that Occupy Melbourne lacks a clear aim. While advocates from many diverse causes are participating in the movement, they share a common concern. The Occupy Melbourne website states:

Our democracy is unwell. Our elected representatives no longer represent their constituents, instead their ears are turned by wealthy lobby groups, whilst the common interests of the people they were elected to represent, are ignored.

This grievance focuses on the lack of truly democratic representation. The passage could be taken as a call for what in democratic theory is known as a ‘delegate’ as opposed to a ‘trustee’ model of representation.

Though models of democratic representation go back much further, the particular distinction between the delegate and trustee models can be traced to conservative political philosopher and British parliamentarian Edmund Burke. As Burke proclaimed in his 1774 speech to the electors of Bristol, ‘Your Representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgement; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion’ (1999, p. 11). For a number of reasons, from the physical absence of constituents during parliamentary debate to what Burke considered the sheer idiocy of dogmatically adopting the position of his constituency before the parliamentary debate had been had, Burke thought it appropriate to represent as a trustee—that political power had been entrusted to him by his constituents.

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Advance Australia Fair (Skinned)

This little revision of the national anthem’s first verse is inspired by Australian politics and is dedicated to the Queen’s visit—a suitable occasion for discussing Australia’s identity … moving forward.

Australian Flag

Advance Australia Fair (Skinned)

Australia is a barren land,
Where bogans can be free;

With iron ore and coal from soil;
We’ll all drive HSVs;

“F#ck off, we’re full” our bumpers say
We like our refos rare;

From Herald’s page to talkback rage
Advance Australia Fair.

With drawn-out vowels, now let us sing,
Advaance Austraalya Fair.

VC proposes changes to parking at Deakin University in 2012

Before you get angry, get informed.

Deakin Vice-Chancellor Jane den Hollander

Deakin University Vice-Chancellor Jane den Hollander

On 22 July this year, Deakin University Vice-Chancellor (VC) Professor Jane den Hollander emailed Deakin students and staff proposing a number of changes to car parking at the university in 2012. The proposed changes include:

  • increasing the annual fee for general (blue) parking permits from $203 per annum to $250 for students and $400 for staff;
  • increasing fees for daily parking from $5 per day to $7.50 per day;
  • abolishing free car parks at the Geelong Waurn Ponds and Warrnambool campuses, converting them to permit parking areas;
  • discontinuing red parking zones, which are situated further from university buildings but which, at $101.50 p/a for red zone permits, offer a cheaper option than blue permits.

The proposed changes emerge from a review of parking at Deakin by the university’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) Graeme Dennehy and the Finance and Business Affairs Committee (FBAC). The review was tabled at FBAC’s 10 May 2011 meeting and forwarded to the university Council. Council discussed (and presumably passed) the review at its 9 June 2011 meeting [1].

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ACHTUNG! philosophers

Trust Nietzsche to hit you with this, fifth fragment into his Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future:


Nietzsche (ca. 1875)

“What goads us into regarding all philosophers with an equal measure of mistrust and mockery is not that we are struck repeatedly by how innocent they are — how often and easily they err and stray, in short, their childish childlikeness — but rather that there is not enough genuine honesty about them: even though they all make a huge, virtuous racket as soon as the problem of truthfulness is even remotely touched upon. They all act as if they had discovered and arrived at their genuine convictions through the self-development of a cold, pure, divinely insouciant dialectic (in contrast to the mystics of every rank, who are more honest than the philosophers and also sillier — they talk about “inspiration” —): while what essentially happens is that they take conjecture, a whim, an “inspiration” or, more typically, they take some fervent wish that they have sifted through and made properly abstract — and they defend it with rationalizations after the fact. They are all advocates who do not want to be seen as such; for the most part, in fact, they are sly spokesman for prejudices that they christen as “truths” — and very far indeed from the courage of conscience that confesses to this fact, this very fact; and very far from having the good taste of courage that also lets this be known, perhaps to warn a friend or foe, or out of a high-spirited attempt at self-satire.”

Just when you’re jogging along; out of nowhere, a parked car. Achtung! philosophers.

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“I believe. Oh, and interest rates are going up.”

Glenn Stevens

It’s common for current Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) Governor Glenn Stevens (pictured right) to appear on television and radio around the time when the RBA announces coming interest rates. Stevens’ media engagements were different this time around, however. He made an appearance on television revealing his fondness for James Bond films and Jazz music. He also addressed an Easter breakfast for the Wesley Church in Sydney declaring his Christian faith and how he views his governorship as a vocation in God’s service.

What is going on here?

We’ve come to expect that politicians will milk their faith, rarely missing an opportunity to give a doorstop address after a Sunday service. But why would Glenn Stevens find it necessary to publicly profess his Christianity when acting in his capacity as the RBA Governor? Albeit a public role, the RBA governorship is not an elected position. There’s no need for Stevens to show the voting public that he’s a man of God and a good Christian.

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Save me a spot for the big sleep


The Australian Bureau of Statistics today released projections on the space required for South Australian cemeteries. It states:

The SA Births Deaths and Marriages Registry Office estimates that there were about 4,300 burials in South Australia in 2009. By 2056 it is projected that about 5,000-7,000 burials will be performed annually resulting in a requirement each year of at least 2 hectares of land.

So, let’s do some calculations. SA’s population was estimated to be 1,629,500 at 30 September 2009. Australia’s population at the same time was estimated to be 22,065,700. In 2009, SA buried 4,300 people. We can then estimate that in 2009 there were 58,226 people buried Australia wide (SA pop. = 7.385% of Aus. pop.; so Aus. pop. is 13.541 x SA pop.; SA burials x 13.541 = est. Aus. burials).

In 2056 SA is expecting to have 5,000-7,000 people to bury. Conservatively, that’s an increase of 16.280%; or, 0.346% per year (non-compounded). Using these figures to estimate Aus-wide burials, we’re looking at 67,705 in 2056.

Now, if in 2056 SA requires 2ha per year to bury 5,000 stiffs then Aus-wide we’re going to need 27ha. Given that Australia is 7,702,468.2km2 or 770,246,820ha in total, that means we’ll run out of space in 4,970 years at best, or in about the year 6980 (accounting for compounding in the growth of burial rates based on 2009-2056 average growth of 0.346%pa).

Lucky, given that the average life expectancy for an Australian male is 79 years, I’ll get a plot. Then again, I might opt for a cremation and save a little space for the up and comers.