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The experiment of government and business being hand-in-glove has failed

The experiment of government and business being hand-in-glove has failed.

In the relentless pursuit of profit, businesses have reneged on their part of the social contract.

In the pursuit of endless growth, and pandering to big money donors, government has ignored its duty to act in the best interests of the people.

When unions and government collaborate, we get social advances like Medicare, superannuation, paid parental leave, sick leave, annual holidays, workplace health and safety regulations, workers compensation, awards and penalty rates. We get increased spending on health, education and social security, and consideration of environmental impact and sustainability.

When business and government collaborate, we get stagnant wages, job insecurity, rising inequality, workplace deaths and injuries, environmental vandalism, and obscene salaries and bonuses for management. We get bribery, corruption, kickbacks and cronyism.

The Royal Commission into Trade Unions uncovered inappropriate behaviour by a few individuals.

The Royal Commission into the Financial Sector has revealed deliberate fraudulent activity systemic throughout all the major institutions.

People who may, or may not, have been paid too much by Centrelink are pursued mercilessly while foreign bribery cases by large corporations fizzle out and tax avoidance is considered an art form.

We are witnessing a global trend where the share of aggregate income accruing to capital is rising while that accruing to labour is falling. At the same time, globalisation and free trade have flourished while unions have languished. Governments have been bought off – if not literally then certainly ideologically.

The voice of big business has shouted down that of the people. We are told that, because our lives have improved incrementally while their profits have soared exponentially, we should be thankful – completely ignoring the contribution improvements in labour productivity and technology have made to their increased wealth.

At every turn, we see business lobbyists manipulating government policy to protect their ever-increasing profits. Yet should their actions create problems, they cry out for public assistance eg the bank guarantee and drought assistance for farmers who have engaged in rampant land-clearing.

Industries like coal-mining, gambling, alcohol, tobacco, arms manufacture, agribusiness, property development and big pharma insinuate themselves into the halls of power to fight against any regulation.

The same people appear as directors of multiple companies and then on government-appointed reviews. They live in a circle of affirmation, listening only to those who confirm they are doing the right thing.

Time after time, we see government money gifted to companies with no oversight or evaluation – the Great Barrier Reef being fertile ground for many a rort, for example. We see assets and essential services sold off for short-term sugar hits to the budget but long-term pain for the people.

Businesses, as a consequence of their own greed and corruption, no longer deserve a seat at the table.

When government and big business collude, the people are powerless to stop them.

Until election day.


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  1. New England Cocky

    Another excellent analysis Kaye Lee. Thank you!!

  2. Karen Kyle

    The next big job for Democracy is to separate corporate power from government.. No big political donations. Business should have exactly the same rights to consult with government as the rest of the community and with the rest of the community, A long hard fight ahead.

  3. Kaye Lee


    I disagree that business has a right to consult with government anymore. By their own actions, they have forfeited that right. They have been dishonest, unethical and greedy. Time to set the rules in the interests of the people (and planet) and then let them sort out their business plan accordingly.

  4. totaram

    “We are told that, because our lives have improved incrementally while their profits have soared exponentially, we should be thankful – completely ignoring the contribution improvements in labour productivity and technology have made to their increased wealth.”

    Spot on! Most of the benefits of productivity have come from science and technology, the basis of which has always been government spending. Businesses have just cashed in on the benefits to an unreasonable degree, with spurious claims that they are the “wealth creators”. And with that wealth, they have tried, as always, to gain political power, most recently by buying up our elected representatives. Until, that is made much more difficult, things for the majority of people will not improve much.

  5. Karen Kyle

    Kaye Lee……If they pay tax they have the same right to talk to government as anyone else.

  6. Kaye Lee

    Any company tax paid by incorporated businesses is returned via franking credits to their shareholders.

    As we have seen, taxation is avoided by pure paper transactions of lending one branch of the company large amounts at exorbitant interest rates and using currency fluctuations to maximise the benefit.

    Taxation is not the ticket that gets you a say anyway. Our government is supposed to be the citizen’s assembly.

  7. George Swalwell

    Oh! Well said, Kaye Lee!

    The unholy alliance of big business and conservative governments is the
    real and present menace to our health, safety, progress, even survival.

    How is it that the voting public can’t see the stark difference between
    socially responsible policies and rampant extortion? I put most of the
    blame on the right-wing mass media; and some on the Australian
    reluctance to rock the boat, ”she’ll be right mate” – and I found the same
    reluctance in Malaysia (never mind, lah) until anger at 1MDB boiled over.

    Being an ”activist” about social policies at one time risked one being
    called a ”stirrer”, ”a trouble-maker”, a ”Commie” – now the task and need
    is much clearer. ”United we stand; and divided we fall”.

  8. Karen Kyle

    Pay proper tax or lose the right to talk to Government and go after those who don’t meet their tax obligations.

  9. Kaye Lee

    An example of how letting business, and especially Kate Carnell, anywhere near the table leads to silly policy…

    There is no evidence at all to support the notion that preferentially taxing small businesses will do anything to boost “jobs and growth”.

    Small businesses (defined as those with fewer than 20 employees) employed just under 45% of the private sector workforce in June 2015. Despite this, small businesses accounted for only 5.2% of the increase in private sector employment over the five years to June 2015.

    As I have pointed out before, the vast majority of small businesses are sole traders who don’t employ anyone and who pay tax at income rather than company rates.

    But hey, Kate says it’s a good idea so we do it.

  10. helvityni

    ” But hey, Kate says it’s a good idea so we do it.”

    For my liking she appears on the Drum TOO often. I’m waiting for those good ideas of hers…still waiting…

  11. Kaye Lee

    Despite our urgent need to reduce transport emissions, businesses won’t allow it.

    The Australian Automobile Association has argued against tougher emissions standards for cars because they would make cars too expensive.

    The oil refineries say it would be too expensive to upgrade equipment to produce cleaner fuel – Australia is ranked 70th in terms of fuel quality because of the relatively high percentage of sulphur permitted.

    The fossil fuel lobby are resisting the introduction of electric cars here.

    Meanwhile the Australian Government still collects about $5 billion every four years on tariffs and taxes, to protect the Australian car makers who no longer exist.

    Labor’s plan to make people who claim business usage for their cars to actually have to justify it with a logbook every few years was thrown out because the fleet operators didn’t like it.

    This is what happens when business runs government.

  12. Klaus

    The analysis of Wentworth is, in a nutshell, that

    1) Too many independents are bad for our democracy and
    2) It is the failing of BOTH major parties as the poor showing of Wentworth demonstrated.

    Also, specifically Matthew Canavan stated that Wentworth is a one off, confined to Sydney’s Eastern suburbs. Climate change and refugees don’t play a role among the wider, Australian voting public.

    I say, good on you. Stick to your guns you morons. They splatter into oblivion against a hard wall, called election 2019 . They are incapable of learning any lesson.

  13. paul walter

    Karen Kyle: “Pay proper tax or lose the right to talk to government”, basically what Kaye Lee was saying in the first place.

    But Kaye Lee further argues, correctly in my view, that Big Business has already committed this wrong and they have forfeited that right.

    If we look closely at the relationship between big business, much of MSM and politicians we see that a grievous fraud has already been perpetrated that would be result in jail time for ordinary individuals.

    Are we talking systemic failure?

    Will consequences of a serious nature arise from this failure if the flaw is is irremediable? Is this already occurring?

    The gun lobby incident seems typical rather than the exception to the norm…it indicates a sort of psychopathy, perhaps that makes the current system now untenable.

    But how to change things….?

  14. Kaye Lee

    Exactly paul.

    Had business kept to their part of the bargain by paying a contribution to hep pay for a healthy well-educated workforce, good infrastructure, a safe and stable environment where the rule of law is enforced, then they might have some say. Had they contributed to training the workforce, had they made sustainability and environmental protection an important part of their decision-making, had they shared the wealth through greater employment and wage rises, had they not paid people to produce junk science in order to mislead us, then sure. Had they chosen to charge a reasonable price for the goods and services they provide, rather than as much as they possibly can get away with, then ok.

    They have to be sin-binned. If, after a period of rehabilitation, they want to play nice, then we might start listening to them. Now, all they have to say is to our obvious detriment. Why should we listen to them?

    As to how to change things, start by voting out the idiots and look for strong, principled people to vote for. Join unions. March in protests. Boycott companies who do the wrong thing. Pester politicians. Read and learn and pass on information. Government regulation – if they grow enough courage.

  15. Karen Kyle

    They can’t all be tarred with the same brush. There are good employers. There are companies who do pay their share of taxes. There are even some moral billionaires (not many) Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, George Soros, to mention three. There are good organisations who work for the betterment of humanity. Thousands of them. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, The Red Cross and so on. As well as all those working in the third world to make things better. Even the United Nations has it’s humanitarian uses. And can you cast your mind back to the Marshall Plan and the World Bank which dug Europe out of a deep economic hole after WW2. Decency is at least as abundant as corruption.

    What is needed is to go after the crooks. Leave the honest brokers alone. Which is what will happen if the wind is blowing in the right direction.

  16. Harry

    A very good piece Kaye!

    But I think the tax rates paid by large companies ought to be contingent on their behaviour: “If a firm does enough of the good things and none of the bad things then it should be able to get its tax ‘burden’ down to zero. So, we start off by offering tax incentives for those corporations which:

    Pay all of their employees significantly more than a Living Income;

    Pay their senior managers no more than, say, five times their lowest paid workers;

    Offer shares to their employees;

    Encourage union membership;

    Have employees on the board and encourage all employees to be involved in decision making;

    Provide ongoing training opportunities and can demonstrate a commitment to continued professional development;

    Invest in automation (no, automation is not a bad thing);

    Invest in permanent infrastructure (meaning that they won’t want to leave in a hurry);

    Invest in research and development;

    Reduce their energy and resource usage;

    Take steps to reduce pollution, both directly and indirectly (such as reducing plastic use in their product packaging)”

  17. Kaye Lee

    Of course there are good employers and organisations. Our government is not listening to them.

    Those individuals and organisations have been pleading with them to take action on climate change, to get the refugees off Manus and Nauru, to increase social security payments, to increase foreign aid, to show ethical consideration about who we sell arms and technology to, to address indigenous disadvantage and call for self-determination, to create more affordable housing, to fund education based on need, to build public transport, to make sustainability a priority etc etc

    But the greedy have bought the smart to get around the rules and to influence the gullible, timid, and ambitious. So the voices of the decent are not being heard – or should I say, they are being ignored.

  18. paul walter

    Yes, Karen Kyle. There is the tragedy. The system has been rigged, particularly over the last twenty years, mechanisms that used to be in place to sort the chaff from wheat, at places like the tax office and legal system for example, also via further corruption of intrinsicially corrupting economic planning and international trade apparatus, to the detriment of the hungry billions, have been whittled away by vested interests with a line to politicians via the hip pocket and also mass media and press who share a similar ideology turned alibi.

    The innocent suffer with and for the guilty.

    What can we do, given a systemic break down, that won’t be opposed by a venal global oligarchy?

  19. Karen Kyle

    We can flee towards the decent. We can embrace and support and strengthen the moral and the compassionate insofar as not very edifying public opinion and bigotry will allow. We can organise and fight back. We can come to terms with economic realities. We can fight climate change. Lots we can do and a lot is being done.

  20. Kaye Lee

    We know what we have to do to address most of the problems we face.

    Standing in our way are some politicians, business lobby groups, right wing think tanks, Murdoch media, hysterical shock jocks, and fake news bought by an apathetic public who are worn down with the daily struggle and looking in all the wrong directions for someone to blame. Oh and some very wealthy, very greedy individuals.

  21. Karen Kyle

    Yes….however it was never going to be easy. But we have to keep plugging. Nothing else for it. Things will begin to change. I smell change on the wind. A couple of decades of right wing lunacy may be in it’s fading stages. Just keep an eye on the extreme right in Europe and elsewhere.

  22. Matters Not

    From above:

    We want governments to be held accountable for the decisions they make.

    Now that sounds like a really good idea. The issue then becomes – accountable to whom? Companies in general? Or only companies that pay Australian tax – which would eliminate companies with considerable income that pay zero tax such as: GLENCORE INVESTMENT PTY LIMITED $27,929,635; EXXONMOBIL AUSTRALIA PTY LTD $24,810,160,190; ENERGY AUSTRALIA HOLDINGS LIMITED $23,901,332,940 …

    (The remainder of the Top 40 can be found here.)

    Perhaps we could leave companies out of the discussion completely (they don’t even get to vote) and concentrate on individuals and the tax they pay. Perhaps, we should return to the days when the right to vote was related to wealth which might mean high wealth individuals such as Turnbull, Palmer and Stokes (for example) might get many, many more votes than those who pay very little tax such as those on NDIS. Indeed those who are shown to have negative wealth or who cost the government more than they pay shouldn’t get a vote at all!

    Or maybe, just maybe, tax has nothing to do with voting rights? Another failure of the education system – that concentrates on spelling, adding, subtracting and the like and ignores CITIZENSHIP – aided and abetted by those who should know better.

  23. Matters Not

    By the way – the real enemy is US – who wallow in ignorance. Who don’t understand and make no effort to ….

    Who are infected with neo-liberal ideas and don’t even realise that neo-liberalism is much more than a swear word. Let the Sleepers Awake – but not today.

  24. Karen Kyle

    Matters Not……Company Tax…..and no taxation without representation. Good in the past. Good now.

  25. Kel

    Diannaart and Paul: by way of an Advisory Panel, major corporations (including prime tax-dodger Chevron) have the ear of the Taxation Board which in turn writes up policy for Treasury.
    “A high level Advisory Panel assists the Board in carrying out its activities, including by contributing to the Board’s real time policy advice to the Treasurer, advising on the quality and effectiveness of tax legislation and recommending improvements to support the general integrity and functioning of the tax system.”

    Imagine taking tax advice from Chevron. Where’s 4 Corners when we need them?

  26. Matters Not

    Harry, it’s articles like that which give MMT such a bad name. It’s naivety writ large.

    No wonder politicians on both sides of the political aisle give it a big miss.

    ( Re KK – See what I mean about wallowing in ignorance.)

  27. Diannaart

    Karen Kyle

    Leaving aside taxation and your comment “no taxation without representation”, why do you believe a corporation has the same right as an eligible-to-vote adult? Corporations are already powerful, they have an inordinate power to the ears of government.

    The best a single person can do is join a union, sign petitions, or run as an independent.

    Remember the idea that democracy was about government for the people by the people?

  28. Harry

    MN: you can label the article as naive but I would appreciate WHY you consider it so. And have you read the link ? If not I suggest you do so.

  29. Karen Kyle

    Harry…..Modern Monetary Theory. Dubious. And the list, not realistic at all.

  30. Matters Not

    Harry – look at what happens in the real world. (And yes I do read links.) Now do me the same courtesy and watch what happens when large companies get large tax cuts.

    There is one hell of a difference with what could happen and what does happen.

  31. Karen Kyle

    Diannaart…………………..Corporations pay company tax. Do you really think any government or the population it serves is willing to forgo Corporate Tax? And they should have the right to consult with government on the same (not special) basis as any other section of the population. After all government is meant to look after the interests of all, and sadly that means they can’t just ostracise business because some people don’t like it.

  32. Harry

    Karen: why is MMT dubious? That claim requires evidence and reasoning. Unsubstantiated assertions carry little weight.

    MN: I agree if governments do not demand standards of behaviour from corporate CEO’s and managers and just reduce their taxes wiilly nilly then YES we will get what we have now- lower taxes without any quid pro quo. If this is not done corporations will get tax cuts for doing nothing and that as your video states, will lead to demands to cut spending to “fill” the budget hole left by the tax reductions.

    Tax cuts need to be contingent on desirable behaviour; another quote from the article”

    “Think of corporation tax as a fine, imposed by default, and the onus is on the corporation to prove they don’t deserve to be fined. The fine for, say, not providing training for its workers will reduce net profits and, ultimately, reduce the dividends payable to shareholders. The shareholders won’t like that and will insist that the board takes steps to minimise the tax bill”.

  33. Matters Not


    really think any government or the population it serves is willing to forgo Corporate Tax

    Of course not. But companies pay tax because they are legally obliged to do exactly that. It’s not paid out of the goodness of their hearts. It’s not an exercise in charity.

    As for consulting with government – all in favour of that. Make their views known. Offer advice and all that. But they should not have power over governments – in a democracy at least.

    Further, because companies, corporations and the like can’t go to jail, perhaps government should be informed of the names of the CEO and the Chairman of the Board so that individual, personal responsibility can be established and not evaporate when the crunch comes.

    Harry, how do we get money for education, health, roads and the like without taxation in this real world?

  34. Karen Kyle

    Criminals within industry can and do go to jail, probably not often enough.

  35. Diannaart

    Karen Kyle

    I did not say corporations should forgo pay tax. I am not discussing taxation.

    I asked you if you believed a corporation has the same political rights as a human being.

    Was I not clear enough?

  36. Karen Kyle

    Harry… can’t tax on behaviour. Ridiculous. As for MMT… sounds too good to be true and it is. Most economists can it. Beware the Utopian solution to anything. It isn’t real.

  37. Karen Kyle

    Diannaart. Silly question, not worth answering.

  38. Kaye Lee

    Of course you can tax behaviour. That is exactly what they do with cigarette and alcohol taxes. They do it with payroll taxes. They do it with tax concessions for R&D. A government can also regulate to achieve some of the things Harry suggested.

    Carbon pricing is a perfect example of taxing behaviour.

  39. Diannaart

    Not silly at all, Karen.

    I am talking about democracy, not corporatocracy.

    However, if the best you can do are dismissive insults, that is a shame.

  40. Karen Kyle

    The tax applies to the goods. And the tax applies to payroll expenditure. And governments have tried to achieve some of the things Harry suggested. With little success e,g. Industrial Democracy, an old idea which was scrapped because it didn’t really work. And industry can’t be loaded up with dozens of roles and responsibilities. If they just make widgets and sell them mostly that’s all they want to do. R and D is necessary of course as is training. Good luck with the training. There is a long history of just not doing enough of it and filling in the gaps with skilled migration from overseas. Lazy bastards I tell you.

  41. Michael Taylor

    Damn good question, Dianna.

  42. Kaye Lee

    Even BHP are calling for carbon pricing, and rather embarrassingly for Scoff and Josh, they said “At the moment we don’t have a long term and effective climate and energy policy.”

    Our government has gone so far in trying to please, even business is getting embarrassed.

    Yes the tax is on goods to change behaviour. We could stop the diesel rebate. That is a tax change that would change behaviour. We could increase taxes on dirty fuel to change behaviour. And when you talk about loading business up with roles and responsibilities, I have to do a BAS every month. I have to pay super for my staff every month. We already have to account for staff training etc. We already have all the information. If it got me a legal and ethical tax reduction then it might change my behaviour.

  43. Matters Not

    Harry re the quote from the article:

    Think of corporation tax as a fine, imposed by default, and the onus is on the corporation to prove they don’t deserve to be fined.

    Well I don’t see taxes as a fine but as a legal obligation. For me fines, are something imposed because of a breach in respect to a law, agreement, or code of conduct. A fine is a reaction to an illegality. Not so a tax. For me it’s a very important distinction.

    KK re: “Industrial Democracy, an old idea which was scrapped because it didn’t really work.”

    Have you ever been to Germany (for example)? They make it work rather well. And it’s not a new idea for them – just ‘common sense’.

  44. Diannaart

    Thank you, Michael.

    An example of the malign and influential power of corporate interests over governance for people is on tonight’s 4 Corners.

    They’re the new force in Australian politics – a lobby group funded and directed by major firearms sellers and manufacturers and they’re taking aim at Australia’s politicians.

    Their campaign represents a newly emboldened firearms industry set on changing Australia’s gun laws.

    On Monday Four Corners investigates how the gun movement in Australia is reawakening and examines the new tactics they’re employing to make their presence felt on the political scene.

  45. Matters Not

    Re training and attitudes to same. In Australia (as with the US) training at the lower levels of the workforce is often seen as a cost and thus a personal responsibility. The attitude is – Why go to the expense of developing skills in the workforce when the worker (with newly acquired skills) might leave and go elsewhere.

    In Germany, there’s a different mindset (or at least there was). Developing skills in the workforce is seen as good for Germany as a Nation. It’s an investment. They seem to think generally – beyond their own company – and recognise there are swings and roundabouts. A highly skilled workforce is good for all concerned and therefore a worthwhile investment. It’s something that happens when unions are represented at Board level. Perhaps we could try that? Staff rep on the ABC … ? Seems to work with superannuation, doesn’t it?

  46. Harry

    “Harry, how do we get money for education, health, roads and the like without taxation in this real world?”

    Now that shows do you do not understand MMT. Did you read John Kelly’s accessible, if simplified two articles? Links below. And have you even tried to come to grips with Steven Hail article below?

    A Politician’s guide to the question, “How are you going to pay for it?”

    A Politician’s guide to the question, “How are you going to pay for it?”

  47. Harry

    Karen: I ask you to support your views with reasoning and evidence.

    You can dismiss my views but without explanation and/or reasoning it counts for little.

    MMT sounds “too good to be true” because most of us have been brainwashed into accepting the fantasy version of economics in which most mainstream economists were trained.

    I urge you to open your mind to a new way of thinking about where money comes from, who creates it and so on.

  48. Matters Not

    Harry, entertain the thought I have read much about MMT, watched videos and the like but I try to draw a distinction between what might be and what actually is. The hope versus the reality. The real world in which I live. Seems to me that I am not alone. Australian governments at all levels and regardless of political persuasion like to balance the books and when they don’t – they actually keep detailed records – accompanied by promises to balance the books at some future time. That’s the political constraints they work under.

    When MMT advocates have political power, then the electorate will sit up and listen. Until then, politically speaking, … it’s a case of wishing and hoping.

    Perhaps you could persuade Professor John Quiggin to go over to the dark side? But perhaps not.

  49. Harry

    MN: I do understand all the (BS) about the national budget and its accounting and the political constraints. They are hard to overcome but they must be challenged as both unnecessary and very limiting.

    If you accept the world as it is you will never achieve genuine and beneficial change. Why should I accept that if its so damaging for so many of us?

    All we achieve now is an endless and acrimonious debate about “how are we going to pay for x or y?”.

    Surely is not beyond the wit of pollies to see the truth?

  50. Matters Not

    Harry re:

    accept the world as it is you will never achieve genuine and beneficial change

    Yes I agree. In days of yore, Paulo Freire was a philosophical inspiration:

    “Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.”

    All for the practice of freedom and the quest to be an architect and not a worker bee. I could go on but won’t. But if you want some philosophical insights here’s a link.

    But as I see the light at the end of the tunnel (the approaching train) I am more focussed on the shorter term and I can’t see how MMT will be adopted in the foreseeable future. No person or institution of any note in Australia seems to be that radical. But you carry on and realise your dreams – because that’s what they may turn out to be.

    By the way – be wary of using the word ‘truth’ without qualification

  51. Miriam English

    As far as I can see businesses deserve no influence in politics. They are imaginary non-human entities that sometimes benefit humans, but sometimes prey upon them. Only human beings should have influence in politics.

    On the positive side, here’s something to shine a bit of happy light into your evening:

  52. Matters Not


    businesses deserve no influence in politics

    Presumably you aren’t drawing a distinction between the concepts of ‘politics’ and ‘government’? I do.

  53. Paul Davis

    Don’t know why you unread politically illiterate lot bother with your ill informed half baked poorly thought out illogical commentary. Just let Karen Kyle, the Judith Sloane of AIMN explain it all to you and shut the f##k up.

  54. Miriam English

    Matters Not, interesting point. I wasn’t specifically thinking of politics separate from government. I was really only thinking about the politics that governs a society. I guess there is politics that’s separate from that… such as who decides the rules for the next Pride March (whether groups that have historically and currently discriminate against gays should be allowed to take part). I’m sure I can think of others, but no, I was thinking about the government and how it all goes stinky corrupt when wealthy entities have more power than ordinary human beings. Though, I guess the same could be said of smaller politics — if a local neighborhood has its wellbeing perverted by a wealthy corporation that wants to bribe people into giving it special benefits that disadvantage the majority then we have the same problem.

    Hopefully Paul Davis was using satire. I think he does Karen an injustice.

    Karen seems to honestly mean well. She has merely been affected by some very powerful propaganda in our society. We should avoid alienating her, and continue to point out why that propaganda misrepresents reality and misleads essentially good people like her into working against their own best interests.

  55. Matters Not

    Perhaps an aside. The Queensland Department of Education now offers ‘guidance’ to those who want to offer congratulations or make a complaint (the more likely option if history is any guide.) Such people are referred to as Customers. As though they were shopping at Coles, Woolworths, Aldi or some other establishment or perhaps seeking another service.

    When people immigrate to Australia, there’s one special day (which many remember fondly) – a day when they receive citizenship. They become Citizens of Australia and I think they receive a piece of paper that verifies same. But I hope they don’t get used to it because it’s possibly the last time they will be referred to in such a manner.

    If they consult a Doctor it’s possible they will be referred to as a Patient. Nothing wrong with that. Visit a Lawyer and you become a Client – the same moniker that prostitutes use. On the other hand the Brothel Owner also speaks of Customers – now the Queensland Department of Education follows suit.

    Can anyone explain why Citizen is such a dirty word? Is there any shopper, consumer, buyer, purchaser, patron, client, regular, frequenter, habitué … who has an explanation? Responses also accepted from Johns. Or perhaps even a costumer.


    A Citizen.

  56. Miriam English

    Matters Not, it is strange, isn’t it. I think it’s simply an indication of how deeply ingrained into politics neo-liberalism (I hate that term) has become. They think people are customers, buying goods. They talk about putting a price on services as “user pays” — I prefer to call it “user pays twice (once via taxation, once at the price-point). It really has perverted politics badly. Government has gone from serving the good of the people, to being politics sold to the highest bidder.

    I have to be realistic though… when was it ever really intended to serve the people, except perhaps briefly during Whitlam’s time as PM?

  57. Matters Not

    Miriam English re:

    how deeply ingrained into politics neo-liberalism

    Indeed! But not just politics. It’s as though all relationships can only be (properly) seen through an economic lens. These days, when we go shopping, we make sure that we have monies so that we can buy the services of the boy scouts to assist us crossing the road.

    One young scout up the road even has an EFPOS machine for those … He thinks it’s just common sense. Why he even charges his girlfriend for services rendered.

  58. Miriam English

    OMG! Hang on… that’s a joke, right?
    (A sign of the times: I have to ask if something like that is a joke.)

  59. Miriam English

    Some years ago I wrote a very short piece on my website. I include it here for anybody who might be interested. I know I’m preaching to the choir, but it might help when arguing against those who genuinely believe money is a perfect gauge for all things:

    A Value Monoculture

    Our society has developed a monoculture of value systems. Almost all value is rated in monetary terms. Money has its uses, but it is not the only way to rate things for value and we lose other value systems at our peril.

    We are all aware of the dangers of monoculture in ecology. If a pest or weather anomaly comes along it can decimate your product leaving you with absolutely nothing. But this is exactly what we’ve done with money — we’ve put all our eggs in one basket. The unimaginative accountants and economists rule our society. How the hell did that happen? All things now require a monetary value. But some things have intrinsic value, unrelated to money.

    Happiness is the first one that many people think of. There is no direct relationship between money and happiness. Yes, we have set up our society so that having no money has very dire consequences that can make you very unhappy, but that’s artificial — we could just as easily set conditions differently. I am one of the happiest people I know and I live at the poverty level.

    Knowledge is another. Many people think that money buys knowledge, and yes it can, but increasingly knowledge is being made available for free. The digital age has the potential to remove all limits on this.

    Friendship is a tricky one. It may appear that friendship is enhanced by money, but in fact it can impede it. A rich person is faced with never knowing whether their friends like them or their money.

    Time. The harder you work for money, the less time you have.

    And there are more subtle things too, like wisdom (that’s slightly different from knowledge), comfort, ability, choice, health, freedom, intelligence, creativity, communication, humor, art, and so on. I’m sure you can think of more.

    If we run our value system on just one thing — monetary value — we risk one glitch ruining us all. Unfortunately I think we are on the cusp of just such a glitch. Money is shifting in a big way to China and India and is about to leave the west (including us here in Australia) devoid of value because we have made the mistake of pinning all our hopes on this single measure of value.

    Our best chance for a good future is a rich ecology of ideas and values. Open source, sharing, community projects, family, the environment, fun, learning (not necessarily at expensive institutions)… we need to place more emphasis on these before it is too late.

  60. Karen Kyle

    There is a grain of truth in this piece, but it is exaggerated. As far as most people are concerned money isn’t the only way to measure value in our society. It might be the prevailing ideology, but many people don’t take much notice of the prevailing ideology. As for being poverty stricken and happy, I suppose you are not responsible for the feeding clothing and educating of kids. And I presume you can feed yourself. Poverty for those with responsibilities is corrosive, and damaging to the point of being life destroying. Don’t underestimate it. Under such circumstances a rich community of learning and fun isn’t possible. You are seeing the whole from a very narrow personal perspective. A bad mistake.

  61. Karen Kyle

    And try telling a single woman battling to bring up kids that her poverty is artificial.

  62. Miriam English

    Karen, I said “…we have set up our society so that having no money has very dire consequences that can make you very unhappy, but that’s artificial — we could just as easily set conditions differently.” In the Northern European countries you can live in their version of poverty and still have a relatively easy time bringing up kids. They have a robust social safety net; they’ve set things up differently so that money isn’t the dominant value.

    Why do you think I’m underestimating poverty?

    You said, “Under such circumstances a rich community of learning and fun isn’t possible.”

    I’m part of a local community in which many of us help each other out. We have get-togethers at the local community hall where there is dancing, a writing group, computer help sessions, uplifting talks, a book exchange, and many other regular events — most of them free (well, the book exchange has $2 donation per book, and some of them are enormous hardcover reference books).

    One of the best things about the world today that I like to point out is what a very lucky time we live in. Everybody has access to the greatest encyclopedia of knowledge the world has ever seen — Wikipedia. Anybody can download any of tens of thousands of free books from Project Gutenberg. And LibriVox has thousands of audiobooks freely available (I downloaded Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein yesterday in honor of the book’s 200th anniversary). My computer runs a free operating system — Linux — and all the software on it is legally free, including wordprocessor, spreadsheet, art programs, audio editor, 3D modeller, and thousands of other large and small programs. I frequently watch free science and technology videos on YouTube. A number of YouTube channels (e.g. Khan Academy, CrashCourse, and others) offer free online courses. Wikiversity offers free courses, and many of the world’s top universities now offer free online courses too. arXiv is a repository of scientific research freely accessible to anyone. Even computing hardware is becoming incredibly low cost making it available to anyone. I bought a tablet computer direct from China for $50, free postage. The Raspberry Pi is a tiny computer about the size of a pack of cards that you plug a keyboard, mouse, and screen into (the TV that most homes have works fine). It costs about $70. A newer, faster one will be produced soon, which will be about the same price.

    Today I’m fixing a neighbor’s computer for free (something I do very often for various people). Many people give me dead computers and I fix them and give them to people who can’t afford computers. I often repair and enhance people’s photographs for their enjoyment of past memories. (I spent most of yesterday doing that.) Most days I work on writing my seventh novel. It costs me nothing to write and gives me a great amount of pleasure. Hopefully it will give other people enjoyment when I’m finished.

    So, I’m sorry Karen, but it seems that you’re seeing things “from a very narrow personal perspective.” And yes, I do agree that it is a bad mistake.

    I’m puzzled that you’re disagreeing with me on this. If you read between the lines of what you say, I don’t think you really disagree.

  63. Michael Taylor

    Sorry about your comment getting lost, Miriam. I found it out the back – it must have got trapped in the system.

  64. Miriam English

    No worries, Michael. I didn’t even realise one was missing. I have noticed that one of Kaye’s is missing, though.

    Bloody computers! Who’d spend their time working on them? Oh, wait. I do. 🙂

  65. Diannaart


    I have spent a little time investigating the Raspberry PI. Amazing. Will do some more research later, when my brain has had a rest. This is what I love about the internet, always something new.

    Given I am housebound most of the time, my life would be untenable without the internet and access to books. This is beyond dollar value for people who are on limited income and resources.

    Of course this can change, if our government continues to look to the past, the advantages modern tech provides will only be available for the wealthy. Reliance on a narrow range of options (while dangerous and ultimately destabling) appeals to authoritarian conservatives – such simple systems are easier to control and less apt to change. How long such terminal political ideology can remain in power is difficult to determine; my answer is “too long”.

    Diversity is as essential to the evolution of human society as it is for the survival of ecosystems.

  66. Karen Kyle

    Miriam………Yes our social safety net is inadequate to put it mildly, and yes the Northern European Countries do it better. But it requires a high level of personal tax which in the long run is neither here nor there if education, health, medical and care of the aged is a well funded from that taxation and therefore seemingly free to the user. It removes many of life’s worries.

    But, in these days of sporadic casual contract and “gig” employment for an increasing percentage of the workforce as well as unemployment the tax basis is undermined. Too many are earning too little to pay high rates of personal tax. And too many large corporations are dodging tax altogether. That makes any increase to our social safety net both necessary and very difficult. A paradox.

    And yes money is an artificial concept, but a vitally necessary one. The world could not function without it.This means artificial or not it is real and it has consequences.

  67. Kaye Lee

    The net cost to the economy of increasing Newstart by $75 a week is about $1 billion a year according to Deloittes. That’s about double what they gave an organisation with six employees to give money to their mates to save the reef. We could cancel a few dozen of the jet fighters that don’t work.

    And whilst our population is aging, the pension age is going up to 67 and compulsory superannuation started in the early 90s so those will be contributing factors.

    We can easily afford to increase social security if the government decides it is a priority.

  68. Karen Kyle

    Kaye Lee…… OK Newstart. What about the Aged Pension, especially for singles, and the Disability Allowance etc etc. Should they miss out on increases?

    And our governments of late have the unnerving propensity to cut taxes. And large scale privatisation means the Government is more reliant on tax revenue than it was. As for cancelling Jet Fighters, that reminds me of my mother’s argument when I was a kid. Why doesn’t the Queen flog the Crown Jewels and give the money to the poor? Or that 13 year old British Character Adrian Mole. Why doesn’t the local vicar buy cheap toilet paper instead of the most expensive and donate the difference to the poor. Oh dear!

  69. Kaye Lee


    You aren’t a solutions person are you. You seem to always want to criticise rather than consider,

    The age pension is significantly higher than Newstart and they don’t have the costs related to looking for work or raising children. So let’s start where the need is greatest.

    Of course we should raise the pension too which is why I wrote the second paragraph to wonder if that would give room to allow us to do that. Perhaps you didn’t get that far.

    And I don’t think identifying areas of government waste is anything like the musings of your mother or some tv show.


  70. Karen Kyle

    My point was the problems are easy to spot. Solutions are difficult and not well served by armchair critics or political theorists. Why do you think Governments have the Treasury,the Parliamentary Library as a research facility an expert Public Service and the capacity to call in experts and others for advice. legal advise, scientific advise, intelligence, and so on.

    It is easy to sit in front of a computer and dream up solutions, and that I guess is a start. But, the solutions are not very likely to be practical or workable. The world is too complex for knee jerk solutions.

  71. Karen Kyle

    Buying Fighter Jets is Government waste?

  72. paul walter

    You should bone up on the cost and performance problems associated with the long overdue Joint Strike Fighter, Karen Kyle.

  73. Kaye Lee


    You will note that I quoted Deloittes. I could have quoted KPMG. I could also quote you the Henry taxation review that recommended increasing Newstart by $50 a week back in 2009. You can look up the costings that the PBO did for the Greens election policy. I could quote ACOSS or the Business Council of Australia. Or I could take YOUR word for it that it can’t be done. Just because YOU haven’t read what the experts say, doesn’t mean its a kneejerk reaction. It has been very well researched, modelled and called for by people with much more knowledge than you or I.

    Yes, the fighter jets are a waste since they don’t work. But perhaps you only “sit in front of a computer” being an “armchair critic” rather than keeping up with the news.

  74. Karen Kyle

    Paul Water…….If you are talking about the F35A we have already taken delivery of 5 with another 5 to arrive by the end of the year. Sixty two more to come. The F15 and the F16 Jet Fighters were first rate and remained in service for decades in some parts of the world, although we had Hornets and others. So the pedigree if that’s what you want to call it is there. As for bugs, problems, and cost overruns, this is often usual with complex machinery like fighter aircraft, weapons systems and so on. That’s why they have to be tested in theatres of war (weapons systems). This is depressing as a subject and in an ideal world we wouldn’t need to spend billions on weaponry. But this is not an ideal world and it is becoming more dangerous. It is to be hoped that once these Fighters are bought and the new Submarines are in Commission we will as a country have dealt with the big ticket items for several decades.

    It was an object lesson to see Russia’s aged and creaking military hardware i.e. especially aircraft carriers when they engaged in the Syrian War. Some of Russia’s weaponry is good and some very old and out of date. Unfortunately we have to keep up and if possible stay ahead. If war broke out and the country was unprepared I am sure you would complain.

  75. Miriam English

    Diannaart, yes, the Raspberry Pi is a gem. The story behind it is inspiring. David Braben (who is a hero of mine) and another British developer started to wonder why all the graduates they had applying for jobs in their companies were hopeless. All the kids knew was how to use Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel, with maybe a smattering of Visual BASIC programming. None of them knew anything about the actual computer underneath — what we called “hitting the metal” in the old days… what we used to call “hacking”, which was a term of honor, before sensationalist news media turned it into a dirty word.

    After a while they realised what the real problem was (apart from the fact that the educational system wasn’t really teaching them anything). Each family had a desktop computer which cost something like $1,000, and each family naturally told their kids, “Use the computer, but DON’T break it.” So naturally the kids were loath to really explore the guts of the machines.

    This is why Braben and the other guy created the non-profit Raspberry Pi Foundation. They designed and produced ultra cheap computers that could be tinkered with, without setting fire to a family’s finances — so cheap that they could be given away to pupils in class. If anything messed up the (free) operating system, just pull out the little flash card containing it, rewrite it onto the card and put it back into the Raspberry Pi.

    So they did it to improve the quality of kids they could hire. Did it work? Yes. In fact it has created a whole new industry of kids starting up robotic companies and other businesses because the Raspberry Pi is so easy to interface with other devices. It has a special GPIO (general-purpose input/output) set of pins that are there for the purpose of connecting with and controlling other devices. A few people have even bought heaps of Raspberry Pi computers and connected them together to create a supercomputing cluster. (I can certainly see the attraction of that, but unfortunately lack the funds to do so).

    I have a few Raspberry Pi versions. I bought the very first version when it originally came out, years ago, and was given another version more recently in return for helping a local with her computer (her husband accidentally deleted everything on their computer — I recovered all their family photos). Not long ago I bought the most recent version, the Raspberry Pi 3B+, which is their fastest model yet, hoping to set it up to replace my parents’ aging and temperamental computer. Unfortunately I don’t think it’s quite suitable for that yet. The next version will.

    Sorry about the long-winded fan-girl rave. 😀

  76. Kaye Lee

    Australia is the 6th lowest social security spender of 35 OECD countries, spending slightly more than Turkey and slightly less than Israel. The lowest spending countries tend to be those OECD countries with the lowest levels of national income such as Mexico, Korea and Chile. The English-speaking countries tend to be relatively low spenders on social security benefits, but Australia is the lowest spender in this group.

    Cash benefits for the aged are the most important spending item in Australia and most other OECD countries. Australia ranks 5th lowest in the OECD, with the main countries that spend less being lower income OECD countries.

    For spending on unemployment cash benefits, Australia is well below the OECD average and ranks 17th in the OECD. This partly reflects Australia’s lower than average unemployment rate, but more importantly, the low level of benefits due to Australia’s flat-rate income tested system.

  77. Karen Kyle

    Kaye Lee…….Julia Gillard would not increase Newstart or Aged Pensions because she said the extra expenditure could not be sustained. Shortly after the single aged pension had a small increase. I assume Gillard would have had advise from Treasury and Acoss etc did not.

  78. Kaye Lee

    Actually Karen…

    “The Royal Australian Airforce has taken delivery of nine F-35s from US manufacturer Lockheed Martin, and all are now sitting idle at their American training base in Arizona.”

    We don’t have any here. Since we ordered them in 2002, I would call that a big fat fail. You don’t seem to be aware of the issues they have had. Canada cancelled their orders.

    I am not sure why we need squadrons of strike force jets for defence anyway.

    As for Gillard, “Ms Gillard admitted the unemployment benefit Newstart Allowance was too low and there needed to be more flexibility with the federal government’s approach to helping the unemployed.”

  79. Miriam English

    Karen Kyle, actually the world is becoming less dangerous, not more. Wars are decreasing and those that do occur are becoming less deadly. Violent crime is also decreasing.

    Spending obscene amounts of money on the dwindling likelihood of a war is a silly thing to do. Much better would be to make our country into an irreplaceable asset and friend to all those likely to attack us. But our dickheads in power seem too blind to realise this and continually step on our neighbors’ toes. Even with all those absurd weapons we would be hopelessly outgunned in any conflict with Indonesia or China — not that I think China would be interested in attacking us, but Indonesia is a potential danger.

  80. Kaye Lee

    And just what good do you think our submarines are going to do? For starters, we can’t find enough people to crew the six we already have let alone twelve. And who are they supposed to be protecting us against and how?

    China currently possesses five nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSN), four nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBN), and 54 diesel-powered attack submarines (SS). By 2020, this force will likely grow to between 69 and 78 submarines.

    Australian submarines have not fired a shot in anger since WWI and aren’t likely to. By the time they are built decades hence, I am sure drone, satellite and communication technology will have replaced any need for them to go spy or whatever they do. Actually, they mainly get used for war games like all our military stuff. Yes, I call it a huge waste.

  81. Miriam English

    Karen, you seem to be misreading what I said. First, you thought I said poverty was artificial. So I quoted myself to show I’d said our response to poverty (making it have very dire consequences) was what was artificial, that the Nordic experience showed we didn’t need to do things that way.

    Then you misread me again, somehow thinking I said money is artificial, and while it is (as you note), that, again, wasn’t my point. In your eagerness to argue against what I’ve written you seem to be putting words in my mouth.

    I’m not sure what you’re arguing against. Most of the people here feel similarly to how you do, though with perhaps less trust in the harebrained politicians.

    On the valid point that politicians have research staff and advisors, yes they do, but they’ve discarded those who give genuine advice and kept only those who fuel their own delusions. That’s a recipe for the political disaster we see in office at the moment.

  82. Karen Kyle

    Paul Walters. Those Hawkeis armoured vehicles come from Thales in Bendigo where I live. I know the factory well. I know the workers and I know the Union. From time to time over the years I have participated in lobbying governments to get contracts for that facility. They used to build submarines, they maintained the gun barrels on Naval Ships. They supplied weapons experts to maintain the systems on ships. They built mining equipment. In fact there was very little they couldn’t do when they were a Government owned Defence Facility.

    Now the facility is owned by a French firm and they build Hawkeis. And those Hawkeis are world beaters on the battle field. They can go almost anywhere with a degree of safety, and they save lives on the battlefield. And they were designed and built using the considerable local expertise. And they are good. Once a Dutch soldier turned up at the gates of Thales. He had been injured on the battlefield and was lying exposed and wounded in the open. Australian soldiers in a Hawkeis went out and picked him up and bought him safely in. He came to thank the people who designed and built that armoured carrier.. He owed his life to it and so do many others. I don’t care how much it costs, it is the best of it’s type and as a result Australian soldiers using it have an extra margin of safety in comparison with similar vehicles.

  83. Karen Kyle

    Kaye Lee. Luke Airforce base in Arizona. There was a problem with a blocked fuel line and one of the Jets crashed. The rest could’t fly until they had safety inspections. All of them were grounded as a necessary safety precaution, and some were back in the air before all of them had been checked. They remain in Arizone until the Australian Pilots learn to fly them. Necessary instruction from the Americans.

  84. Kronomex

    If I remember correctly the defence forces wanted the Eurofighter because they felt that it was superior to the monster white elephant that is the F(ucked)35 Yank version. Then Lockheed did lots and lots of gladhanding and almost outright bribery and other shenanigans to get our idiot gubmint to buy it. The other point to consider is that one good emp burst and they are all screwed and become useless pieces of expensive junk. Oh yes, and lobbying the American gubmint lead to them pressuring the morons here to buy the crap.

  85. Karen Kyle

    Kronomex…..the Air force seems very happy.

  86. Karen Kyle

    Miriam……I hope you are right. I fear you may not be.. Russia is as recalcitrant as ever. China is flexing it’s muscles in belligerence. North Korea is a problem. Iran is a problem and the situation in the ME will not settle down for a long time yet. Lets hope we have wasted all that money on weapons and they don’t have to be used except for peace keeping.

    As well the US is politically unstable, there is an idiot in the White House. And there are problems with the rise of populist right wing parties in Europe. The world is suddenly a lot less safe.

  87. Kronomex

    Of course they are “happy” because there is no way the gubmint will not do anything to upset the Yanks. So it’s a case of grin and bear it. Would Labor be any different if they were in power? Short answer: Nope. So military, like it or lump it.

  88. Peter F

    @Karen:”situation in the ME will not settle down for a long time yet”. Not until there is nothing left for the good old USA to gain from.

  89. Karen Kyle

    What gain?

  90. Miriam English

    Karen, Russia, North Korea, Iran, and the Middle East are problems… to some degree.

    I don’t lose any sleep over China; their best interests are in peace. North Korea is a tiny lunatic asylum that will break down at some point and need bailing out, and will naturally resolve itself. Danger from Iran seems to be hugely overrated. I’m concerned about Russia’s cyber-meddling. But Indonesia is the one that frankly worries me the most. Our idiotic government keeps alienating the most powerful and heavily armed country in the region.

    As for the world becoming less dangerous. Here is a short video that will convince you:

  91. Karen Kyle

    Thank you for the video. And it is spot on. I don’t doubt the message at all. But, we are still in the business of engaging in War. Since WW2 Australia has been involved in the Korean War, Vietnam, The Gulf War, and Iraq.

    These days we rely heavily on Diplomacy which has pulled us and the rest of the world back from the brink many times. The end of the Cold War and the decline of the US with Trump’s help has created a power vacuum which Russia is anxious to fill. Russia always did believe that it didn’t get the recognition, the kudos, the respect and the boot licking it deserved. Russia has always believed that it is destined by Providence (God) to assume a position of leadership and domination in the world. No-one knows why the Russian believe this about themselves or where it came from. They thought world wide Communist Revolution would put them on the map as world leaders and they expected it to happen quickly within a few years. When it didn’t they blamed the US and Europe and became more suspicious and paranoid over time. Then there was more humiliation and failure when the Soviet Union collapsed and they blame the West. This makes them dangerous as a country.

    As for China, the Chinese have rarely threatened anyone as much as their own people, and Tibet of course, and Tiawan. But there is a power vacuum and they are interested in filling it. And they are getting damned pushy. They may well be the next superpower which is not a good feeling given the way they treat their own.

  92. Kaye Lee

    Australia could have saved hundreds of millions of dollars had it gone to the United States to buy its new fleet of light protected army vehicles, instead of buying 1,100 of Thales’s locally built Hawkeis.

    And not everyone agrees with you about the J-35s….

    “Essentially, the Pentagon has declared the F-35 “too big to fail.” As a retired member of the U.S. Air Force and current university professor of finance who has been involved in and studied military aviation and acquisitions, I find the F-35 to be one of the greatest boondoggles in recent military purchasing history.”

  93. Karen Kyle

    Attaboy professor you tell them. Let us hope you and the other detractors are wrong, and the Fighter does what it is supposed to do. As for saving money. Personally I would much rather save lives.

  94. Kaye Lee

    Trade has done more to deter aggression than diplomacy. No-one wants their supply lines and markets disrupted. No-one wants trade sanctions against their country.

    I agree with Miriam that it would be far more beneficial to have good relations with neighbours. We cut foreign aid and then freaked out because China was offering aid so we are following them around trying to make better offers.

    Meanwhile, we are scheduled to spend $400 billion on weapons of war over the next twenty years. The opportunity cost of that madness is just ridiculous.

    As for “attaboy professor”, you would have noticed had you bothered to read the link that he put together the appraisals of many people who, once again, know a shitload more about it than you or I.

    Your dismissive condescending tone (about everything) is pretentious.

  95. Karen Kyle

    According to a quick read the F35A was designed to be a one size fits all war plane for use by Army, Navy and Air Force. They were technologically able to do it so they thought. It proved to be difficult. But they kept at it and those that have been delivered around the world are operational. It isn’t the first war plane to be beset with technical problems.

  96. Miriam English

    Karen, I’m not sure where you’re getting the “Russia believes” narrative… perhaps in some newspapers or TV shows… and I’m sure there are some in the country who think that way, but it is a country of more than 144 million people. It’s like saying that Australia thinks [fill in the blank]. And we’re only 24 million. I’ve met some Russian people and they really don’t think that way. They’re just people.

    That said, I don’t trust Putin at all. I don’t think he would declare open war on anybody, but he seems very keen on more subtle tactics. I think he probably couldn’t be bothered fiddling with Australia, but I wouldn’t guarantee that I’m right. I do know he has bots (software robots) go into forums on vaccination, and probably other topics, stirring up trouble to make people more polarised.

  97. Karen Kyle

    Kay Lee….I sincerely hope you are right.

  98. Kaye Lee

    Oh so you didn’t know about this already but were prepared to express your opinion on it before you read up on it? What was that about relying on experts? Trying to be all things to all services instead of purpose built aircraft is exactly why this is such a failure. it’s stealthy, under certain circumstances, but it can’t fight. And that’s before we talk about the helmets, the ejector seat, the fuel line etc

  99. Karen Kyle

    Miriam…..The Russian people who inflict the Kremlin are those who apparently think this way But apparently it is a long standing belief.and it is a big country. Sheer size would suggest the capacity to dominate.

    . Russia actually won WW2. Of every 11 German soldiers killed Russia killed 8. At the end of the war Russia didn’t feel as if she got the credit she deserved given the high cost of the War in terms of Russian sacrifice and lives. Of course Churchill and Roosevelt were not going to let Russia claim all the credit. They had to share it and they don’t much like being partners.

    And Russians do believe and say the most amazing things. A clip on the net of a Russian Professor lecturing a class of KGB operatives told them that 80 per cent of the world’s physicists were trained in Russia. Who knew?

  100. Karen Kyle

    Those that have been delivered are operational.

  101. Karen Kyle

    And production is now in full swing and the costs are coming down. Looks as though they might have pulled it off.

  102. Nigel Drake

    I have a backgroung in aviation, military first then civil.
    I still have contacts in both sides of the industry.

    The “Joint Stike Fighter” was first and foremost a marketing exercise which the dummies in the Australian Political and military worlds fell for ‘hook, line and sinker’.
    The RAAF accepting it as a viable fighting machine has a lot more to do with a combination of internal ’empire building’ and face saving than it has to do with National defence.

    Kaye is correct in saying that our submarine and surface naval purchases are heritage purchases; they are yesterdays technologies designed for military scenarios which no longer exist.
    Satellite, drone and remote controlled air, surface and sub-sea devices have been undergoing trials for decades.
    Plus the reality that no killing device which is currently available, nor any which are likely to become available, to Australian forces, will be of any consequence in defence against either remotely launched nuclear or cyber attack.

    The Nationalist/jingoistic mentality of our militaries and politicians alike will never accept that, as a country, Australia is extremely vultnerable and never likely to be able to effectively defend itself from a determined assailant.

    Trade, universal respect and diplomacy are our only hope of survival in a turbulent world where depraved humanity too often dominates, but with our reputation being trashed over our governmental inhumanity and incompetence, and our diplomacy being made a laughing-stock by the likes of the effete and intellectually challenged ambassadors which we currently have representing us, we are progressively becoming a pariah from the rest of the civilised world.

    To disregard these realities for the sake of political and economic expediency is tantamount to treason.

  103. Kaye Lee

    “Lockheed Martin has been pitching the US Air Force a hybrid between the F-22 and the F-35. The F-22 is the world’s best air-to-air combat plane, and the F-35 has the best sensors and abilities to knock out air defences. (The F-35 mainly works as shorter range missions with a focus on hunting down and destroying enemy air defences, rather than aerial combat.) Combining the two would create a jet much better than either one individually. But by creating an all-around better jet could kill the market for the F-35, which has just started to come online and is the most expensive weapons system in history.”

    Anyone surprised?

  104. Nigel Drake


    Not me, Kaye.

    The armaments industries, jingoistic politicians and career military personnel all seek to gain by extracting vast fortunes from countries through fear and belligerance.

    Corruption of all kinds runs rampant.

  105. Kyran

    It’s funny that globalization was meant to mean the realization of Lennon’s ‘Imagine’;
    “Imagine there’s no countries
    It isn’t hard to do
    Nothing to kill or die for
    And no religion too
    Imagine all the people living life in peace, you”
    Instead we wrapped it up for the corporations, “The voice of big business has shouted down that of the people.” With the platitude “Until election day”.
    Many of the comments reference the taxation system and its inequities. Our current numbnuts signal the company tax cuts as tax reform. The big four accounting groups currently formulate tax policy on behalf of governments, globally, and tax avoidance on behalf of corporations, globally. Little reference is given in the article to ‘headline tax rates’ and ‘effective tax rates’ in Australia, a disparity of nearly 10%. We have one of the most complicated tax regimes in the world. The concessional deductions afforded a corporation aren’t quite the same as those of an individual. To start a ‘taxation’ discussion with such limited parameters is to negate the discussion.
    As for military expenditure, a commitment to 2% of GDP is absolute garbage. In the first instance, we have little to defend, other than stolen soil, paraded as wealth and toil. In the second instance, we will sell it long before we will defend it. Between one and the other, we only enrich foreign weapons manufacturers.
    I’ve never had a problem with a ‘global village’, but I concur with Ms Lee at 1.24 yesterday.
    “I disagree that business has a right to consult with government anymore. By their own actions, they have forfeited that right. They have been dishonest, unethical and greedy. Time to set the rules in the interests of the people (and planet) and then let them sort out their business plan accordingly.”
    A village houses people, not corporations. After all, a corporation doesn’t exist beyond a piece of paper. A point succinctly reinforced by Ms Lee at 3.51 yesterday.
    Mr Walter asked “But how to change things….?”, to which Matters Not posited “By the way – the real enemy is US – who wallow in ignorance. Who don’t understand and make no effort to ….”
    We are only just coming to terms with the power of the third estate, even though it’s been there for millennia. Those who hold power by no other virtue than their title, the 1st 2nd and 4th estates, are being questioned, making sites such as this so much more interesting. These gits talk of the fifth estate, being the media in a technological world. It has always been about the third estate.
    Thank you Ms Lee and commenters. This ‘information age’ may just prove worthwhile. Take care

  106. Karen Kyle

    Nigel Drake

    It was a Joint project with multiple countries involved. And as for the changes in technology which will make the way we wage war at the moment obsolete, I am sure you are right. But new technology and weapons come in piece by piece over time and most military in the world still talk about conventional warfare. Will there be a place for it I wonder? I guess only time will tell, and if we are lucky we may never find out. Meanwhile Governments all over the world are still buying conventional weapons and Russia and Syria are still using them. It seems they are not obsolete yet.

  107. Kaye Lee

    Ok. So we don’t have any aircraft carriers. The F-35s can’t do aerial combat. They can only fly short missions to destroy enemy air defences. Presumably they don’t want to destroy anything in Australia. So, unless we are at war with NZ, they will have to be stationed in another country to attack one of its neighbour’s defences? And we have ordered 72 of these lemons to do what exactly? Following America into more wars that are none of our business? Stirring up more trouble in the ME by dropping bombs rather than building schools and hospitals?

  108. Karen Kyle

    Kaye Lee
    The F35A is said to be a world beating game changer. The software is out of this world apparently. Guess we will have to wait and see. And conventional arms are still being sold around the world, by US, Russia and China the three biggest arms dealers. And countries continue to buy them. There has been a surge in arms sales since the end of the Cold War. Bad news. But I am not surprised.

  109. Karen Kyle

    Kaye Lee…..The range of the F35A is 2,220 Km.And they can dogfight although they probably won’t need to. They can detect and shoot down a plane long before it gets into dogfight territory.

  110. Miriam English

    A range of 2,220km… okay, half that — 1,110km — because it needs to return. So it couldn’t fight with New Zealand (which is 2,200km away). I’m honestly wondering what genuine use it could be. Bringing such an expensive machine to a drone fight would be like bringing a knife to a gunfight. It doesn’t matter how fast the knife is wielded, nor how sharp the knife, if the person with the gun is simply beyond arm’s reach.

    Drones cost very little, can be build of non-radar-reflective material, and can be very small. There is nothing that a large aircraft can do about such things. In fact small drones could target such fighters by deliberately getting sucked into the jet turbines, bringing them down without guns or bombs.

    It’d be like a repeat of the Vietnam War, when poverty-stricken peasants used lateral thinking and guerilla warfare to beat the most technologically advanced nation on Earth.

    And cyberwar can be conducted by remotely disabling hardware by hacking or by malware, or can use what’s politely called “social engineering” to manipulate people’s fears and hates and their distrust, sowing confusion and discord. No hardware weapon on Earth can fight against that. Only intelligent, empathetic, well-informed politicians and a well-informed altruistic media could use science and sanity to keep the population well grounded. Looking at Australia’s sub-moron politicians and our treasonous media, we’re ripe for the picking.

  111. Kaye Lee


    I am sorry but I don’t think you know what you are talking about.

    A range of 2,200 km doesn’t give you a return trip from Sydney to Adelaide.

    “The most expensive weapons system in history, the US’s F-35 Lightning II, is still sometimes losing to the 1970s F-15 in dogfights during training scenarios in Japan.”

    And it is surprising you talk about a surge in arms sales and fail to mention the largest importer – India. And France and Germany sell more than China.

  112. Karen Kyle

    Dog fighting is irrelevant. It hasn’t been done for 40 years according to the link you supplied. Thank you. And the on onboard computers and the especially developed software knows who is in the sky at all times and can detect friend from foe. Targets can be shot from well out of visual range. As for drones being sucked into Jet engines, I am sure the designers would have thought of that, drones and birds. The software will be upgraded regularly and is boosted with AI.

    As for hacking… would take a long time for anyone to learn how to hack into the system. and by the time they do that the system would have changed with updated software. I think it will happen twice a year. Hacking remotely might be a problem with a closed computer system. The hackers would have to be alongside the aircraft as they had to be alongside the Dutch Laboratory which tested chemical poisons and also could detect which laboratory they came from. Several members of the GRU were caught outside the facility trying to hack into it. They must have panicked to do that.

    As for the range, it seems pretty respectable to me. War panes are usually established in bases close to their targets. I imagine there would be bases established for the aircraft in the north and maybe the west. Range no problem.

  113. Kaye Lee

    Actually, most of them will be based at Williamtown between Sydney and Newcastle.

  114. Miriam English

    Sorry, I wasn’t clear enough in saying what I meant.

    When I was talking about cyberwar and hacking hardware, I wasn’t talking about hacking the fighter jets’ computer systems (though I guess that might be a possibility — focussed beams would mean you wouldn’t need to be right alongside it). What I was talking about is remotely shutting down electricity grids (this has been done), or messing with manufacturing equipment (this has been done), or fiddling with the steering and brakes of cars (this has been done), deleting data on computers (this has been done), blacking out lights (this has been done to places that have Philips “smart” bulbs), screwing with airconditioners, sprinkler systems, automated farming equipment… and so on.

    But all that pales into near insignificance when compared with the damage done using bots and trolls to spread fear, hate, and distrust if we have no honest politicians in government and a mostly superficial mass media, and both of them in thrall to their lizard-brains.

  115. Karen Kyle

    Oh I get it, Russia has targeted the US in that respect. But I don;t think they actually did it. If they did and the US detected it it would probably mean a hot war. Doubt if Russia is quite up for that. And what is your point re honest politicians. What if anything have Oz pollies got to do with it,and what has the media to do with it?

  116. Michael Taylor

    Kaye/Miriam, do you ever feel like pulling your hair out? Or screaming? Or shaking someone?

  117. Miriam English

    Karen, you don’t think Russia targeted USA?

    If you mean with attacks on hardware, you might be right. It’s a bit difficult to tell.

    But if you mean they haven’t been interfering with electoral rolls and haven’t been targeting people to influence them by heightening hate, fear, distrust, conflict, and apathy then you are entirely wrong. There is absolutely zero doubt they have done, and are continuing to do that to USA, and to some European countries too.

  118. Karen Kyle

    Miriam…….Yes they are. Absolutely. What I was talking about is Russia’s capacity to turn the electricity off in major US cities like New York and cause havoc.. The fact that they have that capacity and they haven’t done it suggests that they either don’t want to or they are not ready to do so yet. They really are a damned nuisance, and dangerous. And Trump is no help. Their behaviour in Syria was shocking, especially the use of chemical weapons and barrel bombs which of course they deny. But one of the worst things they did was smear the White Helmets. The White Helmets were the only spark of light in an utterly desperate and tragic situation, and their reputation was trashed when their only intentions was to save lives. Half the White Helmets and their families were left behind to face the tender mercies of Assad while the Israelis played a role in getting about half of them out of Syria. Their crime was to let the world know what was happening in Syria when the press had been banned.

    What is most disturbing about the American situation is the fact that Trump has made no move to stop the interference, and the GOP has been engaging in wide spread voter is usual. The Yanks really ought to fix up their electoral system. The trouble is that the politicians run it whereas we have an independent Electoral Commission to run all elections. American Democracy is not so great.

  119. Karen Kyle

    Yes of course they have been interfering in USA elections and in Europe as well. I was talking about their capacity to turn off the electricity in uS cities like New York and cause havoc.The fact that they can do it and so far haven;t suggests they are a bit wary of unleashing the beast which would be a well and truly pissed of America and turning off electricity might be considered an act of war. We might have to redefine our definitions of war. Russia is a very dangerous country and Putin can run rings around Trump. What I would most like to see happen to Trump is the FBI take him away in handcuffs. And there is a good chance that will happen..

  120. Karen Kyle

    Sorry I posted twice. Thought I lost the first one.

  121. silkworm

    Karen, I do not accept your narrative about the White Helmets. They do a lot of rescue work, yes, but they also work in conjunction with Al Nusra. Several months ago I posted some videos showing how some of their rescue efforts were fake, how they were present at executons, that they carried weapons, and that they faked chemical attacks. All the recent reports of chemical attacks by the Syrians were reported by the White Helmets, and these reports cannot be trusted. Their leaders are listed as terrorists! You say their only intention is to save lives, but in reality they are a propaganda organization whose aim is the overthrow of the Syrian government.

  122. Karen Kyle

    I see the smear campaign worked. What a pity. The Russians are good at smear campaigns. They have a long and inglorious history of it. Their most notable smear was Pope Pius 12th and they did a right job on him. You should read the work of Ion Mihai Pacepa and Ronald Rychlak. ” Disinformation”

    Pacepa was a Lt General in Romanian Intelligence. which was an off shoot of the KGB and he defected to the West. He wrote a book called Red Horizons as well as Disinformation explaining what the KGB was up to during the Cold War. His work was corroborated by Vasili Mitroken who was the head archivist for the KGB in Moscow.. He also defected bringing copies of many documents with him. So far this has resulted in three books “The Sword and the Shield” which is available as an audio book on line and you can listen for free. And “The World was Going Our Way” written in conjunction with the British historian Christopher Andrew and all about the Soviet Union’s shenanigans in the Third World including the ME.

    Smearing is just another tactic and they will spend big money and go to great lengths to do it. And they have taught the Arabs the same tactics of lying and smearing which is what Trump does. We can look forward to the smearing of that reporter Koshoggi who worked for the Washington Post and was mudered in the Saudi Embassy in Turkey. The nastiness and criminality knows no bounds..

  123. Karen Kyle

    And they are really good at fake videos. All you need is a photographer, and some men in White Helmets with guns. Easy.

  124. silkworm

    The videos showing that the White Helmets are fakers and terrorist affiliates come from the White Helmets themselves. They filmed themselves in compromising circumstances, showing just how stupid they are.

  125. Karen Kyle

    If you believe that you will believe anything.

  126. Karen Kyle

    Try Google White Helmets. Even the Wikipedia entry talks about the smear campaign.

  127. paul walter

    Just back to pensions or unemployment benefit.

    The reason unemployment benefit is foregrounded is because it has not been raised to the same extent as pensions, to the point where it UB is about a $100 a week lower than than the pension.

    Ok, if unemployment figures weren’t fudged and the jobs market not flooded with offshore labour at a time when much local work is offshored, then the penalising the unemployed for policies aimed at the detriment of the unemployed.

    Instead we have had the Tudge Centrelink robo ripoffs and heaps of blame the victim in the tabloid press and media to uphold the fiction of a healthy economy with the unemployed the only grouping not pulling its weight.

    But we have seen with the Banks RC that real the criminality is pursued by people on $millions a year salaries in pursuit of activities against ordinary people that would shame a Mafioso.

  128. Karen Kyle

    Yes…..something needs to be done about it and the exposure might help. We need a change of Government thats for sure.

  129. SteveFitz

    Bloody beautiful Kaye Lee

  130. Stephen Fitzgerald

    You know, something is starting to unfold here. It’s as if the right wing conservative political movement is the fire wall put in place to protect corporates. To do their bidding with the big carrot promise of money, power and control for the compliant and obedient.

    I mean look at it, the ideology is repressive and it’s pathetic. It aims at one thing only, giving the rich and powerful whatever they want, and they have turned that into a political doctrine embraced by the right? To be party to that, you need to be brain dead and, recent LNP behaviour is confirmation.

    There’s a good little pollie, do what you’re told, and you might get invited to a dinner party with the rich and powerful. Where they can snicker at you behind your back for betraying the Australians who voted for you. Morrison and the rest of you sheep – You are just another over inflated corporate recruit and that’s how history will see you. Nothing brilliant, nothing famous, just pathetic.

    Now, right wing conservative ideology at a glance: –

    Keep things how they are – Don’t look to the future look to the past – Screw global warming
    Sell off tax payers’ assets to big business – Look what happened to Electricity prices?
    Reduce government and reduce controls on business – The banking royal commission shock
    Only help those capable of helping themselves – All the other unfortunates – You deserve it.
    Rule the home with respect and fear – Great way to bring up storm-troopers.
    Larger police force and military involvement in domestic affairs – Call out power for the military
    Hierarchy and Authority – There are those at the top and we will rule over the rest of you – LNP
    When corporates stuff-up they must be bailed out by the tax payers and, less tax for corporates.
    Cling to power by any means possible – Use religion, use lies, use deceit and use censorship – ABC

    Clearly, this was developed by corporates for corporates. Put together and refined in a backroom for the boardroom. Like I said, repressive and pathetic and, a threat to freedom and democracy. For a progressive forward-thinking society, clear vision is essential.

  131. helvityni

    Stephen Fitzgerald,

    “Keep things how they are – Don’t look to the future look to the past”

    Says it all about the Liberals, and may I add: Put on your rose-coloured glasses when you look to the bygone years…

  132. Karen Kyle

    Kay Lee. We will have 72 Aircraft eventually. I suspect most won’t be stationed in Williamtown, probably in other bases around the country as we need to establish them.. As for the range the F16 which is still popular around the world and has seen decades of service has a range of 1.050 km.
    I scarcely think a range of 2.220 for the F35A is a problem at all.

  133. Kaye Lee

    Karen it is very obvious you are new to the topic of the fighter jets. There will be two squadrons based at Williamtown and one at Katherine – if we stupidly follow through with the 72 which I am very aware of. John Howard ordered 14, Abbott, in his typical dick-swinging way, upped the ante by another 58 during his brief hold on the purse strings.

    We don’t have any F-16s. That may be why.

    The F-35s are a completely impractical waste of money for Australia unless we station them overseas and why the hell would we do that? They will never be used except for war games, like all our other military equipment.

  134. paul walter

    Interesting comment, Kaye Lee.

    In several ways.

    Won’t comment further for now.

  135. Kaye Lee

    The jet fighters have been a bug bear of mine for some time now after watching the Four Corners program on them in 2013.

    “Just around the corner from the White House, at the Willard Hotel, he sat down with representatives of Lockheed Martin. At this secret meeting, John Howard signed up Australia to the JSF program.

    The Howard Government had decided to completely abandon the decades-long practice of a considered tendering process and put its money on a paper plane.”

  136. paul walter

    The story goes back two decades and has always had a stench to it, to my way of thinking. In fact anything involving Lockheed Martin seems redolent.

    What is it that goes on in the alternate universe that all and anything about events involved seems beyond scrutiny for the Great Unwashed?

    Someone on the dole can be put through hell even if innocent, yet events involving billions of dollars and even the cultural life of a location are valued below zero

  137. Karen Kyle

    An interesting and disturbing program.and I can understand the concern. The manufacturer and the American Military claim the problems have all been solved and the aircraft does what is required. However testing and upgrading will go on throughout the lifetime of the aircraft. There is an interesting video clip if you just Google F35A showing the aircraft being put through it’s paces. I can’t post it for you. My computer won’t do it but it is easy to find.

    The aircraft is impressive, There is the usual thundering jet noise and then silence. From my non existent knowledge of fighter aircraft the stealth capacities are excellent. It can also stand on it’s tail like a dolphin and remain stationary for several minutes It can hide in the clouds and according to the pilot other aircraft don’t see him and don’t know he is up there. So he can loiter on the battlefield for extended periods of time keeping watch on and protecting other aircraft.

    The program raises some doubts about the plane’s capacity in battle.and these doubts came from someone outside the military and Lockheed. Australian military said the critic wasn’t in possession of all the information and he is wrong. It is hard to imagine that experienced manufactures and military would get the basic military effectiveness wrong. There s absolutely no point in doing that given the quality of Russian warplanes. They should be designing aircraft to out do all existing fighter planes That is usually the intention and it makes a difference in battle with all kinds of military hardware. They claim to have succeeded I hope they have, the US is going to use these air planes exclusively so they are unlikely to be lemons. The extreme complexity could be a problem. I hope they have good back up computer systems and the lack of battle testing means that until that happens we just won’t know.

    As for the politicians they were obviously dazzled and not just John Howard but Canada as well. Lockheed can obviously tell a good story. Lets hope it ultimately is found to be worth it and the aircraft after so many troubles is a success. And the range is not a problem, It is an easy craft to refuel in the air.

  138. Karen Kyle

    And because we were in a partnership with the US we got 300 million worth of work out of it. A small bonus.

  139. Matters Not

    Seems to me that we should investigate political accountability that goes far beyond the 3/4 year electoral cycle. Take Robb as a particular example, he clearly made (or at least heavily influenced) decisions that were applauded by those on the other side of the negotiating table (as evidenced by over generous remuneration post political career) while the long term Australian interests escaped scrutiny. Of course he’s not alone – and that applies to both sides of the political aisle. Hello Peter Reith, Martin Ferguson, etc

    Retrospectivity applies to so many areas of life. Sex offences, theft, murder, fraud … Why not political decision making? Why should personal responsibility/accountability simply evaporate when one’s political terms ends? Clearly the rewards don’t.

    And yes I know that individuals can hide behind cabinet decision making and the like, but it seems to me that responsibility shouldn’t be allowed to disappear into the ether so easily. Just sayin …

    KK you continue to amaze re the reality you construct. As for its and it’s – I shake my head.

  140. Kaye Lee

    ” the US is going to use these air planes exclusively ”

    Where did you get that from?

    Australia’s Minister for Defence David Johnston admitted that we had no other option: we wanted to buy the F-22 but the Americans wouldn’t let us have that plane .

    “If we don’t keep the F-22 Raptor viable, the F-35 fleet will be irrelevant.”

    That’s what US Air Force General Hostage told the Air Force Times, and added: ‘The F35 is not built as an air superiority platform. It needs the F-22.’ That’s a real problem because the US Congress stopped funding the F-22 Raptor program in 2011. No F-22s have been made since. The US air force has a small number of F-22s, but its allies – Canada and Australia among them – have none and won’t get any, ever.

    Yet America’s allies are spending billions on a plane that is ‘irrelevant’ without the F-22.

  141. Kyran

    David Johnston? He was the bloke with the submarines, wasn’t he?

    It was hardly a surprise that his staffer, Sean Costello, became CEO of DCNS in Australia to manage the transition period, only to subsequently resign the position when his ‘influence’ was no longer required.
    Michael West has some interesting takes on our increasing spend on war toys, eclipsed only by our increasing removal of anything even vaguely resembling oversight.

    Defence spending keeps spiralling as embarrassed government blocks data

    Au contraire, Ms Lee. “The experiment of government and business being hand-in-glove has succeeded”. Beyond their wildest dreams.

    Thank you again. Take care

  142. SteveFitz

    Yeah, corporates are a lovely bunch…

    Look at tobacco companies going after the government for trying to save Australian lives. Then there’s corporates pushing to be exempt from environmental laws and anti-protest legislation by the Tasmanian government. And, the financial industry ripping off their customers and driving unsustainable debt. The gambling industry – Australia has 20% of the worlds poker-machines. Fossil fuel industry – No such thing as global warming. The war machine – Lets start a war so we can sell some ammo. Then the doozie, let’s destabilise government so we can sell some newspapers! Yeah, corporates?

    Rampant brain-washed consumerism, sugar zombies, pharmaceuticals targeted at children. Then, don’t build hospitals or school, build colosseums to distract the masses, while Morrison runs around in a footy jumper. “Don’t watch us watch the footy” was the war cry. Then the old perennial. The gun industry taking aim at politicians and innocent Australians. All of this driven by rampant corporate greed.

    What was that 1927 movie ‘Metropolis’ telling us? You see, not much has changed until “NOW” Kyran. Now there is social media and people are becoming more aware of their social, political and natural environments. We have the vote and corporates need to be contained – And, that’s not happening under their protector, the LNP.

    The corporate and political coalition has been exposed to the bone and thankfully, we may now see some change.

  143. Karen Kyle

    I wouldn’t worry about the lack of the F22 Raptor. We have Hornets and Growlers. Just right for use with the F35A. If the US is short of Raptors they can use Hornets as well. The F35A will replace most American Military aircraft from what I can work out and it’s potential is mind boggling. Have a look….just google F35A. It is the crucial part of the most advanced weapon system ever devised… far.

    If we have F35A, Hornets and Submarines our Defence needs are covered and then some. It took the best part of 20 years to design and build that F35A and all the work and all the trouble and all the money was worth it. Every cent. For the first time in our short history we will be able to defend ourselves against any anyone. Just have a look at what that system can do, and how much further potential it has..

    And if I was John Howard I would have done exactly the same. Any responsible PM would do as he did. It was a win win situation for the Americans. With eight other countries (allies) as partners they were not only getting financial help with the development etc they were taking their allies into the scheme which would make them far less dependent on American military assistance should there be threats. It is exciting and it is also an act of generosity on the part of the Americans. And we will be part of an international linked up force with these weapons including the submarines which have a vital role to play. The world suddenly looks a lot safer. Just have a look.

  144. Kaye Lee

    “The RAAF will begin to retire its F/A-18s in the late 2010s, and the last aircraft will leave service in the early 2020s. The Australian Government has offered the Hornets for sale once they are no longer needed by the RAAF, and the Canadian Government announced its intention to purchase 18 in December 2017.”

    Donald Trump just pulled out of the non-nuclear proliferation deal with Russia. North Korea has long range missiles. Saudi Arabia feels so protected they can cut up journalists in another country and demolish Yemen with the weapons we all sell to them. India has been the greatest importer of arms – what is that leading to? It is NOT weapons that are making the world safer.

  145. Kaye Lee


    When you said “From time to time over the years I have participated in lobbying governments to get contracts for Thales”. may I ask in what capacity?

  146. SteveFitz

    There’s a point there Karen – Armament is as much about preventing war as is it about fighting one. Look at the H-Bomb. If some loose cannon starts WWIII, WWIV will be fought with sticks and stones.

  147. Miriam English

    The nature of war is changing. As I said before, bringing expensive piloted craft to a drone war is the quickest way to lose it. Millions of cheap drones can be made for a fraction of the price of a single insanely expensive jet fighter or warship. Surveillance can be done cheaply, day and night using satellites — no need for expensive, risky reconnaissance aircraft or subs. The world has changed. And while we waste billions on outdated war-making hardware, we discard our best and safest strategy of protecting ourselves using friendship and making ourselves too valuable as allies to be worth attacking.

    And all this at a time when armed conflict is dying out. We live in the most peaceful time in history, and peace has been growing for thousands of years. Even the two world wars were part of a general downward trend of death by war.

    Our politicians are living in the past. They are dangerous fools. It would be a very sour irony if, in the pursuit of war-making equipment, they brought about our destruction at the very end of war’s evil history.

  148. Karen Kyle

    Kay Lee……As the Secretary of the Bendigo Trades Hall Council.

  149. Karen Kyle

    Kaye Lee……I am relying on what I hear American pilots saying in film clips. Canada will have the F35A, even though they pulled out of the partnership. Maybe that’s why they need the Hornets. Don’t worry about it. I suspect the situation is in very safe hands.

  150. Karen Kyle

    Miriam……..Our politicians are not fools. And they are in a position to know a lot more than we do. As for the end of War……you might as well talk about the end of history. The 20th Century was arguably the most bloody in human history. WW1 and WW2 the Russian and Chinese Revolutions as well as Vietnam, Korea, and miscellaneous skirmishes in many parts of the world. Deterrence works and there are increasingly long gaps between wars. It is vital to ensure that the gaps continue to get longer and longer.

  151. Kaye Lee

    ” Don’t worry about it. I suspect the situation is in very safe hands.”

    I’m sorry Karen. It is that sort of attitude that has gotten us to the stage where arms manufacturers have convinced gullible people that more weapons make the world safer. Look at all the countries, including us, willing to sell arms to Saudi-Arabia just for the bucks.

    Perhaps if you read independent appraisals from experts rather than listening to advertising videos from vested interests you might hear a different story.

  152. Karen Kyle

    Kaye Lee. Okay. Whatever you say. You like your own bleak version of reality. Go for it.

  153. Karen Kyle

    They were not advertising videos. They were interviews with pilots Americans and one Australian. As for Independent experts….are you sure that’s what they are?

  154. Karen Kyle

    Kaye Lee……Super Hornets. We just bought them and production of F35A is in full swing and the costs are coming down.

  155. Miriam English

    Karen, you said, “The 20th Century was arguably the most bloody in human history.”

    That isn’t true. You didn’t watch the video with Steven Pinker talking about the history of violence, did you. If you had, you’d realise how wrong that statement was.

    Here again:

    We live in the least violent time in history with declining wars and decreasing deaths from those wars.

    Buying big, expensive war machines at this time in history is like buying an insurance policy from a company that in the process of declaring bankruptcy.

    And what war remains has changed. As I said before, the peasants of Vietnam defeated the most technologically advanced war machine in history. The invasion of Iraq by a coalition of the most powerful military forces in the world, against a country that had no major weapons, and had already been gutted by many years of trade blockades, was supposed to be over in weeks. It never worked and years later is still a messy quagmire.

    Wars don’t work anymore. The world has changed.

  156. Kaye Lee


    We had to buy some stop-gap super hornets because of the stuff-ups with the F-35s.

    In December 2006, Liberal Party Defence Minister Brendan Nelson was discussing an A$ 3 billion (about $2.36 billion) purchase of 24 F/A-18F Block II Super Hornet aircraft to fill the fighter gap. The move was described as “a surprise to senior defence officials on Russell Hill,” but hurried requests and contracts quickly made it an official purchase. Australia’s subsequent Labor government decided to keep them rather than pay cancellation fees. Meanwhile, the late arrival of Australia’s F-35As pushed Australia toward a second bridge buy, in order to keep up fighter numbers as older F/A-18AM/BM Hornets are retired.


    That is so true. Look at Afghanistan. Neither Russia, nor the US with all their acolytes, has been able to achieve anything other than ongoing tragedy.

  157. Diannaart


    Please provide links to these film clips where pilots discuss the merits


  158. Karen Kyle

    Miriam. Yes I did watch the video. What Pinker had to say isn’t new. And he is right. But only up to a point. We are not living in a theoretical Universe. We are living in the messy human world where two opposite circumstances can both be true at the same time. And the 20th century was the possibly the most in bloody in history. Therefore the views of Pinker and others like him need to be heavily qualified. They have a portion of the truth. But not all of it.

  159. Kaye Lee

    The whole point is that weapons don’t make you safer. In America, where they all think they need to own guns to keep them safe,

    “On average, there are 276 gun homicides a week in America. There are 439 gun suicides. All told, there are, on average, nearly 1,200 incidents involving gun violence, every week, in America. There are more public mass shootings in America than in any other country in the world. The US has one of the highest rates of death by firearm in the developed world, according to World Health Organization data. OECD data from 2010 show that Americans are 51 times more likely to be killed by gunfire than people in the United Kingdom.”

    Violence and threats of violence are not what a civilised society should be using to impose order. That is why we have stopped smacking our kids, we have stopped caning our students, we have recognised domestic violence is not ok, the Catholic church is moving away from its doctrine of fear, responsible wealthy countries give foreign aid to developing countries.

    Violence begets violence but one small act of kindness sends ripples around the world.

    Respect and support work better than fear.

  160. Karen Kyle

    Diaannart…….I can’t provide links because my computer won’t do it. Just Google F35A. Easy!

  161. Karen Kyle

    We are not talking about gun violence in America. And “they” do not all think that owning guns keep people safe. Millions of Americans think otherwise.

  162. Miriam English

    Karen, I am flabbergasted that you can so casually dismiss facts in favor of propaganda. What he said wasn’t “theoretical” as you sneeringly put it.

    How can you (arrogantly) say that what he showed wasn’t new? Point me to one person who has marshalled all that evidence before.

    Professor Pinker is not some half-baked idealist. He carefully set out his data in his book “The Better Angels of Our Nature” which has been something of a revelation to people worldwide. I challenge you to find any flaw in it. I’ll even send you the book if you email me at mim (at) miriam-english (dot) org

  163. Kaye Lee

    We are talking about accumulating weapons to supposedly keep us safe. And not enough Americans think otherwise to change the law. It is the mentality we have to change from government on down. Strength does not lie in your ability to hurt someone.

  164. Karen Kyle

    Kaye Lee…..respect works better than fear. yeah it does. But we can’t count on that from all quarters. Can we?. Look at Russia and her territorial ambitions. Russia wants to be a world power and she wants to re establish Empire . Ukraine and Crimea for starters. Turkey wants to get back the Ottoman Empire and has already helped itself to a long strip of Syria along the border.

    When Empires fall there is instability and trouble. When the Soviet Union broke up there was a bloodbath in what used to be Yugoslavia. The fall of the Ottomans has among other things resulted in the instability of the ME coupled with the fact that the people have not been in charge of their own political lives for over a thousand years. They don’t know how to govern themselves and it will take time to learn. It took us centuries to develop Parliamentary Democracy which is still evolving. They have not had those centuries. Moreover their situation is further complicated by religion. It will take a long time for them to throw of dictatorships and move to something better. And it may not be a Western style democracy.

    And China is anxious to take her place in the sun and is becoming arrogant and stroppy. As for the Shia Iran……it will fight Turkey and anyone else for the Caliphate. The Shia have been as shitty as all hell for centuries. It is about power struggles and the desire for dominance. Two primitive motivations which will keep War alive in the world. And that is what is happening in Afghanistan. War Lords competing and fighting each other for power, and changing sides and affiliations on a regular basis. It is a mess. Thats why Afghanistan was a disaster for the West. The constant civil war going on underneath and the bad terrain. Impossible to achieve anything for Russia and the West.

  165. Michael Taylor

    Karen, you say that: ”The world suddenly looks a lot safer. Just have a look.”

    And later you mock Kaye by suggesting ”You like your own bleak version of reality.”

    Well, all I can say – after reading all your comments – is that I’d prefer Kaye’s version of reality over yours.

  166. Kaye Lee

    Karen, I agree that some nations are still struggling to find their way. What we disagree about is how to help them do that. I am not afraid of other countries. Perhaps if I lived elsewhere I might be. But perhaps that puts us in a position to lead the way in being a good neighbour rather than blindly following those who think might is right and compassion is weakness.

  167. Karen Kyle

    Miriam…..Yuval Noah Harari said much the same thing in his excellent best selling book Sapiens. And I didn’t say Pinker was wrong. I said he was right. But he does not have all of the truth. Just part of it.

  168. SteveFitz

    I’ve been wracking my brains trying to work out where the problems and injustice in society comes from? I think it’s from the same place as raining frogs, lightning strikes and crapping pelicans. It percolates down from the top.

    Well, I’m a bit of an idealist… If only we could evolve a bit quicker and become more human. Imagine that world without war or the need for an arms race. Imagine the 10’s of trillions of dollars that could be spent helping and improving humanity rather than planning to destroy it.

  169. Miriam English

    Karen, you keep talking of nations of millions of people as if they were single individuals. You sound like one of those miseducated members of a think-tank that brought on the Vietnam because they believed the silly Domino Theory. Nations don’t work the way you think. You’re treating it all like some kindergarten game.

    The only European country that didn’t get roped into the abyss of the 2nd world war was Switzerland. They stayed out of it and made themselves essential to each side. It seems a much better strategy than getting into a stupid pissing contest which could actually invite war.

  170. Karen Kyle

    Kaye Lee……How to help them do that is the most difficult of problems. Intervention makes the situation worse. Not intervening just allows a bad situation to get worse. It is a nightmare. Obama decided along with American Diplomats that the best thing they can do is get out of the situation and stand by to help pick up the pieces. I guess that’s what we will have to do on an International basis. They will have to find their own way out of the problems. trying to impose anything on them is wrong and it doesn’t work. There are so many problems there. Layers and layers of problems.

  171. Miriam English

    I haven’t read Yuval Noah Harari’s book, Sapiens, though it is buried at great depth in my pile of books to be read. I have just read some reviews of his book and I think you’re mistaken about the point in his book. He sees life as getting worse, apparently, and humanism as a disease. He seems to be greatly in favor of greed. Doesn’t sound like Professor Pinker’s findings at all. I’m wondering if you merely plucked that name out of memory in the hope of putting me off, thinking I wouldn’t be interested enough to look into it.

  172. Karen Kyle

    Kaye Lee…..No strength does not lie in the ability to hurt someone. But it might lie in the ability to defend yourself. Do you think we should not plan to defend ourselves?

  173. Karen Kyle

    Miriam…….Harari is a Humanist writ large and his book is nothing like your description of it. I suggest you read it before you comment. I have also read some of the reviews of his book and none like you describe. The reviews are glowing.

  174. Karen Kyle

    Miriam……You can also find Harari on the internet giving lectures on Sapiens at some British Universities and Public Meetings if you can be bothered. Trashing Harari is bad when you have yet to read it.

  175. Miriam English

    I wasn’t trashing him. I was pointing out that the reviews say that Harari hates “modern liberal culture”, and that he thinks liberal humanism “is a religion” which “does not deny the existence of God”; “all humanists worship humanity”; “a huge gulf is opening between the tenets of liberal humanism and the latest findings of the life sciences”. Also, I’ve read more reviews and in stark contrast to Professor Pinker he gives no hard data. Professor Pinker’s work is all about the data, because it is from that he presents his findings. In contrast many reviews say of Harari’s book that it is an entertaining yarn that has little actual substance.

    I suggest you actually watch Pinker’s video. It would be impossible to say the things you did if you’d actually watched it.

  176. Diannaart


    I understand that in the 21st C some people may not know how to copy and paste a web link, even people who are adept at writing words on a blog. Stranger things happen.

    However, if you wish to be taken seriously, you couldn’t provide a name at least? Googling ‘F35a’ results in a mammoth list of information, propaganda and some very gung ho pro-war rants. Not actual peer reviewed critiques.

    Surely these pilots had names. Or the name of the interviewer, a film company, title, anything would help.

  177. Karen Kyle

    Harari does not hate “modern liberal culture”. And as far as I remember he doesn’t mention god. He is an historian and he does rely on extensive data to back his claims. Read the book……or not. Whatever you like.

  178. Karen Kyle

    There are three video clips on the first page where you can see the thing in action. The Wikipedia page is very technical and informative. Do you think the RAAF is a propagandist organisation?. And I am not sure they have peer review for Jet Fighters. Common sense suggests the secret innards have to be kept secret.. No peer review sorry.

    You could drop a line to the RAAF explaining your doubts, or your local Federal Member. But peer review? Forget it. The world doesn’t work that way. As public servants the RAAF can’t lie to the public and they are usually frank in what they say. Why not talk to them?

  179. Karen Kyle

    And they are not gung ho war mongers. Far from it.

  180. Kaye Lee

    Defend ourselves from who? We are building up strike force capability. There is no-one threatening us but we sure as hell stick our noses in a whole heap of places we shouldn’t.

    If China wanted to invade us, a few jets and submarines wouldn’t make one scrap of difference. Luckily they have no intention of doing so but the people who stand to benefit from exacerbating fear – the empire builders in the defence department and the arms manufacturers and some politicians who like to say they are ‘keeping us safe’ – want to convince us all that spending $400 billion on war toys keeps us safer.

    41 Australian troops died in Afghanistan between 2002 and 2014. There have been 66 women and 18 children killed in domestic violence incidents this year so far. The money could be better spent on real threats to this country rather than our foreign aggression.

  181. Karen Kyle

    Try F35A You Tube. heaps of videos and some very sober assessments. That’s probably where I heard the pilots. I had a seniors moment darling. Sorry I forgot.

  182. Karen Kyle

    Kaye Lee…..Nah nobody is threatening us. So we should forget about Defence right?

  183. Karen Kyle

    Kaye Lee……We are part of the Global Community. So we have to shoulder our responsibilities in that regard if we want friends and allies for the sake of our own security, through diplomacy, trade, science and technology, culture, sport etc etc etc. and the use of the military.

  184. Kaye Lee

    We should keep it in perspective.

    I think this has become a pointless conversation. You believe in God and the might of arms. Good luck with that. I have a very different view .

  185. Karen Kyle

    I don’t believe in god and I like everyone else hates war. Just natural, but realise that we need the military. Most people do. Have you forgotten WW2 and the Battle of the Coral Sea and the repeated bombing of Darwin? Not so long ago. And the conversation is pointless. Let us close it.

  186. Diannaart


    You know nothing more than anyone could discover on an arbitrary google search.

    Yet are abrasive towards any who questions your POV and remain stridently adamant in your righteousness that an excess of war machines is the way to go.

    Yes, we need a defence force.

    We also need to get our priorities right. As has been demonstrated by other commentators here, too much money is wasted on weaponry which could be better spent on health, education, public infrastructure and the elephant in the room, sustainable technology – as opposed to the blight on the environment that is the production and use of war machines.

    Do you honestly believe our current crop of politicians have the depth and breadth of wisdom and sophistication to act in our best interests, as military technology evolves ever more swiftly? Miriam’s point about the development of AI is relevant.

    Intelligence and political vision have been MIA for decades.

  187. Karen Kyle

    Our current crop of politicians are not good I grant you. Who better to do the job? You? Why not join a political party or run for Parliament yourself? It is easy to come to hurried judgements about all kinds of things especially when you don’t have all the facts. Some experience would be really good. I don’t think you have any idea how the world works. It doesn’t work like a science paper, not even a political science paper. And you can’t just make up a recipe or a formula think it good and then try and impose it on the world. There is a big difference between what goes on inside your head and what happens in the real world.

    It is cowardly and not altogether honest to be super critical of politicians as a group from an armchair or a computer desk.. Try some grass roots political activism to start with. A career in politics needs a long learning period and experience if possible. Without it you may get a Trump.

  188. Kaye Lee

    Our main problems stem from the fact that people think there is “a career in politics”.

    And back off with the armchair critic stuff. You are starting to annoy me. You have no idea of the personal circumstances or contributions of people who comment here. They certainly don’t need life advice from you. This is a community for exchange of information and ideas. Cut out the patronising comments.

  189. Peter F

    Karen ….”t is easy to come to hurried judgements about all kinds of things especially when you don’t have all the facts.” Have you considered that this might actually apply to yourself? What do you know about those who comment here?

  190. Michael Taylor

    Karen, I think you need to drop it. You’re treading where you don’t need to go.

  191. Karen Kyle

    I wasn’t talking to you. And I am afraid politics is a profession. Or Trumps and Pauline Hansons get a go. A problem. And everyone is entitled to an opinion, but not all opinions are equally valid., And it is so easy to find the answers to any questions people might have. But they mostly just stay with their comfortable ideas. They don’t really want to know. They have ideas and they live by them even if the ideas miss the sweet spot.

  192. Karen Kyle

    I am talking about attitudes to politicians and Government not about the personal circumstances of those who post here.

  193. Michael Taylor

    You weren’t talking to me, you say.

    You were, actually. You just don’t know it.

  194. Kaye Lee

    Perhaps your sweet spot is in a different place to mine Karen. And I don’t care who you were talking to. I am talking to you about YOUR behaviour, not anyone else’s. You need to think about the way you communicate. Perhaps if your approach was less didactic, the conversation would go differently.

    When you say “It is cowardly and not altogether honest to be super critical of politicians as a group from an armchair or a computer desk.. Try some grass roots political activism to start with” you are most certainly making presumptions. When you say “I don’t think you have any idea how the world works”, you are being pretentious and dismissive.

  195. Diannaart

    Something upon which we can agree, Karen, ”… everyone is entitled to an opinion, but not all opinions are equally valid …”

  196. Kaye Lee

    I am still trying to work out why we spent days discussing how the bible is the word of god, immortal souls, rapturous experiences, the importance of ritual and ceremony etc, to then be told Karen doesn’t believe in god. I am wondering if we are being used for debating practice.

  197. Michael Taylor

    I too think she’s having a lend of us, Kaye.

  198. paul walter

    “Politics is a profession”

    Like prostitution?

  199. Diannaart


    Not really.

    Prostitutes are better company.

  200. Miriam English

    Yeah, I’m starting to think she’s having a lend of us too. She gets her opinions from a quick google or search on YouTube then acts as if she has privileged knowledge and is utterly dismissive of any genuine information others have. But as Kaye pointed out, does so in a very pretentious and patronising manner.

    Kaye and Diannaart, please accept my apologies for imploring patience with her and for suggesting that she means well. I now doubt that.

    As Peter F suggested, I’m wondering if her put downs of others are really criticism of aspects of herself. There’s a technical term for that, but I can’t remember it. I’ve been out for much of the day and am tired. Cooking up my single meal of the day — veges — yum! Then I’ll relax in bed reading some old Flash Gordon comics from 1960 that I had the good fortune to download last night. Yay!

  201. Kaye Lee

    Miriam, I know at times that I get impatient and unreasonable. I would rather someone I trust pull me up when I am.

  202. SteveFitz

    Well, it gives us some idea how wars start. Bloody humans – Collectively that is.

  203. Diannaart


    You have a very kind heart.


  204. Michael Taylor

    Flash Gordon! We’re watching Outlander. Again.

  205. paul walter

    Diannaart, compulsion and surfvival are comprehensible, but with many politicians the motives seem much less worthy.

  206. Miriam

    Karen is actually a new robot being trialed by a university.There are some flawes but pretty good for the most part.

  207. Miriam English

    Miriam, your post is meant to be a joke, right?

    I know AIs are very good nowadays, but I really don’t think they’re that good yet, even though I admit conversing with Karen does have something of the frustrating aspect of some AIs in being unable to pin her down to anything concrete. But three things make me think your post is meant to be a joke:
    * you don’t name the university,
    * people working on AIs don’t generally refer to them as “robots” (though certain types might be called “bots”),
    * and your misspelling of “flaws”.

    Please let us know if you intended humor.

    Having been diverted slightly to the topic of AIs, everybody should watch the first half of this video by Australian video blogger Dagogo Altraide on Google’s amazing new AI, voice assistant “Duplex”:

    Also, this episode by Jad and Robert, the always entertaining hosts of Radiolab:
    Talking to Machines
    I love listening to Radiolab, especially their older episodes. They have a nice science and humanist approach and handle their topics with an uplifting sense of humor.

  208. Miriam English

    Dammit! Got me suspicious now… it would explain Karen’s inability to do simple cut-and-paste of addresses…

    …and the curious ability to argue for hours for the existence of god, yet say she doesn’t believe in god.

  209. Michael Taylor

    Hmm. I must look into this. If I find anything I’ll let you know, Miriam E.

  210. Miriam English

    Very interesting, Kaye. I both welcome and dread the move to drones in the armed forces.

    I welcome it because it reduces costs and avoids putting pilot’s lives at risk.

    But I dread it too, because at some point someone will always say, “Well we should arm the things.” Also I dread it because there will be many small steps where it will seem sensible to give an onboard AI more and more control over its human-killing functions. Giving an AI the ability (and desire) to kill people is a terrible idea.

    It is equally a terrible idea to train humans to kill other humans.

  211. Miriam English

    Thanks Michael. I’d be extremely interested to know. 🙂

  212. Diannaart

    If “Karen” is a some form of AI, I’d say it is successful at arrogance, intolerance, duplicity, inflexible, … maybe we have been arguing with … an IPA/LNP droog … makes as much sense as anything else.

  213. Diannaart

    Miriam E

    Just watched the vid on Duplex. Amaaazing. Having worked as a receptionist in my varied working life, the absolute, number one difficulty is the mumbler, no matter how many times a receptionist can ask, the mumbler will continue to mumble.

    Although, given the projected ability of Duplex, maybe it will excel at determining the garble of the mumbler and the receptionist’s days are finite as I am sure Duplex would be far more patient than even the most tolerant of humans. Although part of the logarithmic coding needs to include “enough is enough”.

    Have subscribed to Radiolab.



  214. Miriam English

    Well done, Kaye. Thank you.
    (I can’t believe I didn’t search for her name. I’m such a dope.)

    Diannaart, it looks like it’s just a normal human doing all those things. Yay for us humans. 🙁

  215. Diannaart


    Karen, my apologies, you are human, difficult, but human.

    Given Bendigo is held by Labor on a very thin margin, perhaps diplomacy could be considered by the sister of ALP candidate.


  216. Miriam English

    Diannaart, yes. There are many examples where AIs will perform much better at traditional human roles. They already drive cars better than humans — they don’t get bored or sleepy or distracted, see 360 degrees simultaneously, and don’t have an ego to get caught up in their driving. As you say, an AI receptionist would vastly outperform a human in patience and listening skills (I couldn’t work out what the woman in the Chinese restaurant was saying).

    I’m going to take wicked delight in the time, soon to come, when many companies will realise how much better AIs would be than CEOs — AIs wouldn’t keep awarding themselves multi-million dollar paypackets and bonuses, they could potentially understand the good sense of aligning the company with workers and customers, they certainly would not deny plain and obvious science, and they would not stick to delusional ideologies.

  217. Kronomex

    Paul Walter (25/10/18, 7.37 pm),

    I think it’s an insult to compare politicians to prostitutes. Prostitutes have ethics where a large proportion of politicians have none (or at least pretend to). Some political parties, not mentioning any names, will bend over and take it up the…well you know the spot…for money and the possibility of cushy jobs with the big end of town amongst other things. Sex workers provide a service, for which a lot of them are hit with the GST. A hefty chunk of politicians are basically there to bleed the tax payer for all their little lurks and perks and free money for life when they quit.

  218. Diannaart

    Miriam E

    AI CEO’s not gonna happen while egotistical numbnuts remain in power. But I like your thinking.

    Side note on human adaptability, I did understand the woman in restaurant, after a lifetime working with people from a range of nationalities, I have developed a good ear for understanding, as I am sure most people can. OK the mumblers are the exception. However, I doubt any of us would have the patience of an AI.


  219. Diannaart

    Thank you, Kronomex

    My thoughts exactly.

  220. Miriam English

    Diannaart, if you enjoy Radiolab, email me at mim (at) miriam-english (dot) org with your postal address and I’ll send you a little flash drive with the 300-odd episodes I’ve downloaded over the years. It’s much easier than listening to them from the website or downloading them from there. I love to listen when I’m walking, or doing housework, or doing artwork.

    Here are a few of my favorite episodes:
    Flock of Two is uplifting and thought-provoking.
    Mutant Rights is hilarious.
    The Bus Stop is sweet and encouraging.
    War of the Worlds is an utterly fascinating exploration of the ramifications of Orson Welles’ radio notorious dramatisation of HG Wells’ novel, and the much more calamitous repeat broadcast later, elsewhere.
    Loops is just mind-blowing.
    Unravelling Bolero is weird, a bit sad, and delivers unexpected insights.
    Stayin’ Alive might save your life or that of someone close to you.

    Many of those are short, just 10 or 15 minutes long. Some are much longer — an hour or more.

  221. Matters Not

    Of course she is a real person. Google her name and attach Bendigo. As well known there as Bernie Harrower of Basketball fame.. She did say she was Secretary of the local Union Council (or its equivalent.)

    And there’s many more links but I am not sure I could post same. They even gave her a farewell party. She also has strong connections to the local ALP fraternity – and goes to bat for them in Bendigo as well as here.

  222. Diannaart

    Matters Not

    Yes, we could’ve checked but didn’t, your point being?

    My point is our discussion become an interesting exchange on AI. Off topic, sure. However, KK not exactly always on topic either. smart after the fact Mumble, mumble …

    Miriam E

    Thank you for your very kind offer.

  223. Karen Kyle

    So my real personhood is a surprise to you is it? I suppose entering a group consisting of people who suffer from the disease of “Chronic Indignation” and “Terminal Negativity” not to mention “Refusal to Face Reality” will have some strange effects. Like Steve Fitz who refused to listen when I tried from my 26 years as Secretary of the BTHC to explain to him why things had gone wrong for him in the Fair Work Commission. He was determined to see the FWC as corrupt and nothing was going to shift him. To see an organisation of any kind as corrupt because you don’t understand what is going on or why is bad enough, but to refuse to listen to an explanation is worse.

    Then there is Kaye Lee who lined her kids up for baptism by a Catholic Priest and was indignant when she found out this would mean her kids would be Catholic. Then she tried the same with the Anglicans and got the same result. A basic failure to understand how the world works and a family problem as a result which she says is ongoing. Her failure. Not the failure of the Church. Most people would know how to game the system. And most people would know that the Churches have to come to terms with gaming the system. And she still holds that attitude today. Age and maturity didn’t change her mind.

    As for the person who thought a new Fighter Jet would be peer reviewed, well the mind boggles. This person does not understand anything about National Security and no doubt a few other things as well.

    And it is not possible to see the messy human world through the eyes of scientific methodology. Scientific methodology belongs to the world of number weight and measure. It gets very wonky and strange when misapplied to human behaviour. Results are odd to say the least. Professor Pinkerton and Herari.use figures to back their claims and as far as that goes they are right. The world in regards to warfare is improving. But having recently emerged from the bloodiest century in history we should temper this statistical finding with the lived experience and the realities of the situation today.

    And yes I am part of the ALP fraternity in Bendigo. I make no apologies for it. In fact my brother Steve Gibbons was the Federal Member for Bendigo for 15 years. He was responsible for getting the Hawksei contract for which I make no apologies. That invaluable Defence facility had to be kept going, Bendigo jobs had to be protected and the bloody Hawsei saves lives on the battlefield and has proven it self over and over again. That’s why the government bought it. They did actually put soldiers lives ahead of money. But the Auditor General who has a different agenda did not.

    The ALP and the Union movement are the people in our country who do the hard political work and get things fixed. They always have been. Shorten and Gillard tried with the Disability Support Scheme and Gonski, which would have given extra help to every kid struggling in school. Shorten is responsible for the Royal Commission into Banking, Gillard for the Royal Commission into child sex abuse, Andrews for the Royal Commission into Domestic Violence and the changes that will come as a result of those findings.

    And just now the Unions are out on the streets in numbers to “Change the Rules” which have been stacked against us for years and to improve the lot of workers.And they will do it. The time is right with a weak and about to be retired Lib Government. These are the people in the world who actually work to identify problems and fix them. Not the armchair critics whose only weapon is contempt and whose arrogance is beyond measure. Such casual remarks as “If the people of Wentworth had any intelligence they would etc etc”. And “It is to be hoped the ALP learns something from this”.

    And in conclusion I would like to say that Lib Governments get things right sometimes. Remember the Gun Laws. And I absolutely believe that Howard was right to sign up for the F35A. It is a good system. It gives us a chance, and in the advent of another WW Australia will be as vulnerable as anyone.

    As for me, you can say whatever you like. I don’t care. Twenty six years as the Secretary of the BTHC has given me a hide you couldn’t penetrate with a spear.

  224. Diannaart


    As for the person who thought a new Fighter Jet would be peer reviewed, well the mind boggles. This person does not understand anything about National Security and no doubt a few other things as well.

    I have a name.

    You’re right I do not know everything, am always willing to learn. However, an objective appraisal of fighter jets is not impossible, national security (which does not require capitals) notwithstanding.

    But please, don’t change (obviously treating others how you might prefer to be treated is not your forte) you are very entertaining.

  225. DrakeN

    KK reminds me of an Union leader with whom I was acquainted some years ago.
    One of his outstanding philosophies was that government should be kept out of the hands of the “intelligensia”.
    He could never describe, in precise terms, what he considered “intelligensia” to actually be.
    He was an overflowing source of isolated facts, half truths and propaganda phrases rendolent of the “Cultural Revolution” in China.

    Karen’s apparently uncritical use of YouTube as a means of deriving information, repetition of ‘facts’ which are seemingly unconnected with reality, and occasionally even contradicting herself indicates passionate, but disordered and shallow, thought processes.
    For me, reading her contributions is painful since I was privy to material which I cannot discuss – being still subject to State secrecy provisions.

    Suffice to say that: “A little knowledge is a Dangerous Thing.”
    Especially when accompanied by such certainty of opinion.

    PS. Government certainly does seem to have been kept at quite at length from any semblance of an “intelligesia” – or even rational, logical thinking.

  226. Dianne

    So glad to hear that you are not a Robot Karen.

  227. Kaye Lee

    That tirade absolutely confirms my growing impression of you Karen. You even go so far as to completely misquote me and then tell me I have a bad relationship with my family. You are not part of a church but presume to tell me how they work. Unreal.

    You are absolutely wrong to say that jet fighters don’t go through extensive and rigourous appraisal and review. To suggest that scientific methodology doesn’t apply to human behaviour is just plain wrong.

    It may be that the Hawkei was worth the money but while governments insist on hiding the information, how can we know?

    I was a union member for many years. Does that give me a right to an opinion bwana?

    And I would suggest high school maths teaching might require even more resilience than belonging to a trades hall organisation.

    Can we stop the pissing contest yet?

  228. Karen Kyle

    Drake N My repetition of “facts unconnected to reality” Jesus Christ……facts are unconnected to reality? You sound like Trump. As for intelligensia and their non appearance in government, I would say that Gough Whitlam qualifies for that label, so does Bob Hawke (Rhodes Scholar) Barry Jones, Bob Carr and even Paul Keating who left school at 14 years of age.

    It has been my experience that super intelligent people are usually simple people and usually not particularly judgemental. And they don’t apply the label intelligensia to themselves. What a pity you can’t let it rip because you are bound by state secrecy provisions. How convenient. You must have been IMPORTANT.

    As for my supposed overuse of You Tube. I can evaluate sources. And I read more than I use You Tube. Some You Tube stuff is quite good. A lot is junk.

  229. Karen Kyle

    Kay Lee You are twisting my words.Of course Jet Fighters go through extensive testing and reviews. Within Lockheed. They don’t hand it over to McDonald Douglas, which is basically what peer review means. As a matter of fact the F35A is so impressive that the Chinese pinched as much info about it as they could and built one of their own. Because they didn’t have all the information theirs is lacking somewhat, but it is still a good machine. You know what they say about imitation being the sincerest form of flattery. By the way I got the info re the Chinese Jet from YOUTUBE.

  230. Kaye Lee


    One of my problems is that you obviously knew nothing about the history of the jet fighter contract, the problems that have plagued it and the controversy surrounding the whole thing for so many reasons…yet you seem so certain your opinion made on the run is completely correct.

    And there you go again dismissing the opinion of someone who knows far more than you or I about it.

  231. Kaye Lee

    “Jet Fighters go through extensive testing and reviews. Within Lockheed. They don’t hand it over to McDonald Douglas, which is basically what peer review means.”

    Would you like me to point you to the reviews by the Royal United Services Institute, Defence Aviation, Air Power Australia, the Knowfar Institute for Strategic and Defence Studies, and countless others?

    Here’s one recent one for you from the GAO, June 5th, 2018

    “The F-35 program is facing affordability, performance, and reliability challenges, many of which we have reported on since 2001.”

  232. Karen Kyle

    I am aware of the problems having looked it up and seeing your Four Corners program. The problems notwithstanding the aircraft is good. Twenty years or so of development and review has ultimately produced a potentially world beating system as it should.. We will have to wait and see. And hope we never have to find out

  233. Karen Kyle

    Yes we know. The Aircraft is now operational having passed all the required tests which are stringent and there will be further developments over the lifetime of it’s service. We await the outcomes with interest.

  234. Kaye Lee

    “The Aircraft is now operational having passed all the required tests ”

    That’s just not true.

    “Initial operational test and evaluation is now planned to start in September or October 2018—once enough test aircraft are upgraded to the final production configuration—and finish between June and September 2019, according to program officials. The program has delayed the start of operational testing by about 7 months due to persistent delays in developmental testing and to upgrade test aircraft.”

  235. Kaye Lee

    • Category 1 deficiencies are those that could jeopardize safety, security, or another critical requirement.
    • Category 2 deficiencies are those that could impede or constrain successful mission accomplishment.

    As of January 2018, the F-35 program had 966 open deficiencies—111 category 1 and 855 category 2. At least 25 category 1 deficiencies and 165 category 2 deficiencies will not be resolved before full-rate production.

  236. Paul Davis

    Some of us need to recognise and accept KK’s extraordinary understanding of Ultimate Truth. She is indeed a font of knowledge and wisdom and a wordsmith without equal.

    I am hoping that she can overcome her natural modesty and humility and seek political office in order to lead ignorant stumblebums like myself to an enlightened future.

  237. Karen Kyle

    Kay Lee…….Google Israel use of F35. The aircraft is used by Israel all over the ME and has been operational in two combat situations. The Jerusalem Post May 22 2018. The Israelis are happy.

  238. Kaye Lee

    “Absent an assessment of the actions needed to improve the reliability and maintainability metrics and a plan to make all necessary improvements, the program is not likely to meet reliability and maintainability targets for the four underperforming metrics. Without renewed emphasis on achieving the reliability and maintainability targets by maturity, the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps will have to decide whether they are willing to accept less reliable and maintainable aircraft than originally planned. Among other outcomes, this may mean taxpayers would have to pay more down the road to fix problems as well as potentially taking aircraft out of operations for more maintenance than anticipated.

    ..according to Defense Contract Management Agency officials, in September 2017 Lockheed Martin halted deliveries of aircraft after the Air Force identified corrosion between the aircraft’s surface panels and the airframe because Lockheed Martin did not apply primer when the panels were attached. More than 270 aircraft have been identified as lacking the necessary primer as of February 2018.”

  239. Kaye Lee


    I would rather read the report from the American government (that I linked to) who are developing and paying for the things (that’s what I am quoting from). You should too rather than watching film clips and reading newspaper articles.

  240. Karen Kyle

    Kaye Lee. Yes the Report is instructive and helpful. Thank you. They tried to manufacture the things before the kinks were ironed out. A mistake to put it mildly. But the report is far from gloomy. Progress was made even at the time the report was written.

  241. Karen Kyle

    And you can hardly discount what the IDF has to say about it. After all they are using the bloody thing. And it works.

  242. Kaye Lee

    Oh for heavens sake. Give it up Karen. I have read that report. You patently haven’t. If you would like to provide a link to a detailed analysis and review by the IDF I will read it.

  243. SteveFitz

    When It boils down to it, Australia’s strategic armament also increases the military capacity of our allies. Some may even suggest that it feeds the American war machine and the corporates who drive that.

    Back on topic: It’s all about the corporates and, knowing how the world works makes it easier to navigate… Corporates lobby politicians for legislation that favours corporates and, corporates donate to election funds in return for favours. I suppose you can also add the boys club and cronyism to that equation.

    This right wing / corporate / main stream media alliance is a breeding ground for corruption. And, thanks to social media and sites like AINM, the truth ripples out. We now have a wave of support to establish a federal corruption watchdog.

    Now, the great thing here is that this is the result of a sequence of events.
    [1] Federal corporate and political collusion and corruption proven
    [2] Transparency International and prominent QC’s pushed Turnbull for a Fed ICAC
    [3] Turnbull opposed it?
    [4] As a political manoeuvre, Bill Shorten could not refuse and promised a Fed ICAC if elected
    [5] Short circuit and fast track – Turnbull ousted by his own party
    [6] LNP loses Wentworth and majority government
    [7] Test the minority government on establishing a Federal Corruption Watchdog or Federal ICAC.
    [8] Thanks to the Green for jumping in on that one – Timely and perfectly played.

  244. Kaye Lee

    Ok I found the article to which you were referring….

    Another senior IAF officer at the conference said that the decision to announce the F-35 Adir strikes (of which there were only two) was partly taken following an intelligence assessment.

    “Beyond the satisfaction from the Adir’s performance and abilities, the psychological aspect carried a lot of weight too,” he said.

    The rest of the quotes extolling the values of the jet come from Lockheed themselves.

    This is self-confessed proaganda rather than any actual genuine review.

  245. paul walter

    Kronomex, yes I realised my mistake and apologised to Diannaart, who had helpfully explained where my reasoning could be less than perfect.

  246. Karen Kyle

    There s a film clip with that Newspaper article. The IDF man delivering the lecture said they were just beginning to realise the enormous potential of the platform. I don’t give a stuff what Lockheed had to say. I will now give it a rest as you suggested.

  247. paul walter

    You reckon you have had the last say, Karen?

  248. Karen Kyle

    We will have to wait and see how the aircraft and the use thereof pans out in the future.

  249. Peter F

    It is always interesting to see how those against one proposal (say, renewable energy) will argue that our minuscule contribution is a waste of effort, while some who are for a proposal ( say munitions and war toys) say that our efforts are essential.

  250. Miriam English

    Wow. Karen really is not a nice person at all.

  251. Dianne

    That’s a bit mean Miriam.

  252. Miriam English

    Dianne, did you read the long rant and string of personal insults from her at 12:26 pm?

  253. Karen Kyle

    Well……what’s good for the goose……..

  254. Miriam English

    Karen, when did anybody attack you like that?

  255. Dianne

    I think she just has strong opinions and observations.

  256. Karen Kyle

    Oh for Christ’s sake. Remarks about politicians and prostitutes. Remarks about my brainwashing. Remarks that I needed de programming. Remarks that I am a bot or a drone. That I am a flawed product of AI That I have lived a sheltered life. My husband or my father had undue influence. Evaluation of my intelligence or lack of it. Remarks that I might be a sock puppet sent to cause trouble. Accusations of duplicity. Accusations of gas lighting. Is that enough? Not that I care. Go your hardest.

  257. Michael Taylor

    After reading Karen’s comment at 12:26pm, I hardly think Miriam was being mean at all. In my opinion she was simply stating a fact.

  258. Miriam English


    Well, the remarks about prostitutes and politicians were jokes about prostitutes and politicians, and not aimed at you.

    To be honest, your constant glowing praise of a buggy, overpriced fighter jet and the military in general do come off as a bit brainwashed. (I’ve been accused of something similar in my very optimistic view that science will solve our problems, and I accept that my view might be excessively rosy. I don’t think I’m brainwashed, but brainwashed people don’t.)

    I don’t recall anybody saying you needed to be deprogrammed, but if they did, see the previous point.

    That you are a bot… yes, a different Miriam made a joke. I doubted that you were a bot and gave some reasons. This was about 4am — I’d got up for a drink of water. When I went back to bed I couldn’t sleep because it kept rattling around in my head. I kept remembering all the frustrating conversations I’d had with AIs. I also know that many AI researchers do like to test them out on unsuspecting people in forums. You have to admit that being unable to post links and spending ages arguing for a god then saying you don’t believe in a god are both a bit odd and would raise suspicions in the Loebner competition (a yearly Turing test with a monetary prize attached). To be fair, Kaye, who you most savagely attacked, was the one who verified your existence as a real human being, and I publicly called myself a dope for not doing as she did.

    I don’t recall mention of your father or husband.

    Evaluation of intelligence… well, surprise! Everybody does that all the time, especially when someone seems so concerned with establishing superiority based on thin to non-existent evidence, while refusing to point to supporting data. (I know you are probably unaware of this — most people don’t realise it — but Google adapts to each person. If two people search on the same term they are likely to receive wildly different results. If one person searches for a lot of movies and they search for “terminator”, lists of references to the Schwartzenegger movie will be shown. Another person who searches for data electronics will receive lists of electronic components called terminators that stop signals reflecting at the ends of cables. )

    Naturally people wondered if you might have been someone coming here to cause trouble / be duplicitous / gaslight. Any forum that discusses anything at all, but particularly anything contentious gets people who come there for those purposes. They pop up at AIMN from time to time. Why would you take offense at that? It is an indication that you were rubbing people the wrong way. I’m not saying you should try to fit in. I’m saying that if you set out to needle people then don’t be surprised when they wonder why. I don’t see that anybody was accusing you of gas lighting.

  259. Kronomex


    “Oh for Christ’s sake. Remarks about politicians and prostitutes.” How can something that clearly has NOTHING to do with you or can be construed as some form of attack on your person? Thin skin with a bit of paranoia thrown in for good measure?

    “Not that I care.” What a load of rubbish. If you truly didn’t care then you let this brouhaha die a natural death and move on and talk about something else. And…

  260. Karen Kyle

    Happy to let it die down. And the remarks about politicians and prostitutes were deliberately barbed. Don’t make the situation worse by pretending it was something else. And now can we close the subject………please.

  261. Miriam English

    Remember those hitting fights among very young kids when one hits the other and says, “That’s the end, right? No more hits.”

    I was a bystander to the politicians and prostitutes jokes, but I didn’t see anything “barbed” about them. Go back and review them. You’re mistaken. Politicians, used car dealers, and lawyers have to put up with jokes about them. I know there are good examples of each, but hundreds of years of dishonesty from those professions have given them an indelibly bad name and made them the target of jokes. But you’re not a politician. Why would you feel it was pointed at you?

  262. SteveFitz

    Oh, now I see – Get them in first and then disembowel them. Don’t disembowel them at the beginning – Must remember that.

  263. Kronomex

    “And the remarks about politicians and prostitutes were deliberately barbed. Don’t make the situation worse by pretending it was something else.”

    Bullshit! Once again you have turned what was a comment about politicians and prostitutes into a supposed attack on you. GROW UP and give your paranoia a rest! You are what Scummo would call a “Precious”! Give a rest to put us out of your misery. And…

  264. Karen Kyle

    Yeah well…….I made the mistake of defending politicians by saying they were not all bad. That’s what triggered those remarks. Just general nastiness.

  265. SteveFitz

    Yeah well……That proves it – It all comes from politicians. See what they do to us!!! BLOODY HELL!!!

  266. Matters Not


    you’re not a politician.

    Perhaps everyone is a politician in much the same way that everyone’s an intellectual even if it’s not at the conscious or remunerated level. Gramsci thought so. But then again he was a communist so what would he know.

    Famously, he stated that all men are intellectuals, in that all have intellectual and rational faculties, but not all men have the social function of intellectuals.

    Seems to me that most (if not all) who come to this site attempt to exercise power or influence over the thinking of the ‘other’. In short they engage in political activity. Can’t see the odium in that. Hello fellow politicians.

  267. Karen Kyle

    Matters Not

    Fair enough. But if it is dished out I will give as good as I get. I promise..

  268. Miriam English

    Karen, everybody here knows not all politicians are bad. I admire a number of the Greens politicians and some of the Labor politicians and some independents. Many people here proudly stand by Labor politicians. But everybody jokes about politicians, lawyers, and used car salesmen.

    It wasn’t nastiness and it wasn’t aimed at you. Really truly honestly. It wasn’t.

    Many people (including me) joke about computer geeks. I’m a computer geek. I also make jokes about writers. I’m a writer. I used to be blonde (grey now) but always enjoyed blonde jokes.

  269. Matters Not

    KK, as I understand it you were the Secretary of the Bendigo Trades and Labor Council (or equivalent). Such positions are very demanding and there’s not a lot of time for theorising, deliberating, reflecting and the like. The position is one of action, quick decisions – with short timelines etc. Been there and done that, so you have my sympathies.

    Most (not all) who contribute to this site are in the business of probing, critical analysis, evaluating ‘common sense’ and the like. It’s perhaps in sharp contrast to those who like to generalise – who take things for granted. No free passes provided. Hang around, you have much to contribute and perhaps some learning to do. Just like the rest of us. Just sayin …

  270. Kronomex

    Miriam, after your hair turned grey were you able to stop saying, “Breath in, breath out”?

    Go back and read my comment (October 26, 2018 at 9:52 am) and look for words like “a large proportion of politicians” and “Some political parties,…” and then tell me where I was picking on ALL politicians and parties. On second thought don’t tell me just give it a rest and go onto another subject. And…

    Time go and watch The Goodies “Bun Fight at the O.K. Tea Rooms.”

  271. paul walter

    Wait up!

    Because it was observed, a possible equivalence between prostitutes, politicians and modes of expediency, I was thus inferring another poster here was a politician, eh beg pardon, prostitute, at the least.?

    This is a most savage abuse of syllogism and I feel it must be protested forthwith.

  272. Kronomex

    I must protest that your protest is not a protest and therefore can’t be protested. Hm, jokes and puns could be made of “protest and protested” but it’s too late at night and I must away to have my nightly glass of Snooze and head for sleepy bo-bo’s.

    And words of wisdom of the philosopher Vroomfondle: We don’t demand solid facts. What we demand is a total absence of solid facts. I demand that I may or may not be Vroomfondel.

  273. paul walter

    I must submit my protestation at your refusal of my protestation,. I must therefore infer that your claim that you may or not be Vromfoodle is ihinted at, through the citing of the example of Shrodinger and that mangy cat.

    I should add that if had inferred politicians were prostitutes, or vice versa, this still in no way inferred that I called anyone here either (regardless of whatever I felt). If someone feels that I inferred that they were a politician, let them come forward and I will answer them

  274. Miriam English

    Kronomex, of course. “Breathe in, breathe out.” Doesn’t everybody? And even with my grey hair, whenever I and my blonde friends walk into a building, it still hurts. 🙂

  275. Kronomex

    Seems that the F35 has well and truly become a giant white mammoth.
    “Dr Galliott said we did it to keep our mates in the US happy. “This deal was a dud from the start,” he said. “I mean, how much should you have to pay to have your best buddy come and protect you?”” Says it all.

    I know this will make some people go, “Agh!” but I would like to know where Karen gets the idea that the Russians won World War 2.

    Paul, are you inferring that you protest is more valid than my protest because that inferrence is making my inferred protest seem irrelevant (can’t resist it: Firefly: (Pontificating again) I say, look at Chicolini…He sits there alone…a pitiable object! Let’s see you get outta that one…Surrounded by a sea of unfriendly faces…Chicolini! Give me a number from one to ten!
    Chicolini: Eleven!
    Firefly: Right!
    Chicolini: Now I ask you one…What is it has a trunk but no key, weighs two thousand pounds, and lives in a circus?
    Prosecutor: That’s irrelevant!
    Chicolini: A relaphant? Hey! That’s the answer…There’s a whole lotta relephants in the circus.)

    Agh! A mangy cat, bereft of life, has just appeared from nowhere on my desk. But, but I can still hear it in the box. Eek! It’s disappeared and reappeared, not bereft of life. Now there’s no sounds in the box. NOOO, now both of them have appeared which means the box is empty. WHEEE…I’m a teapot…no I’m not…yes you are…hahahahahaha…

  276. Miriam English

    Kronomex… ummm… [Miriam backs slowly away, trips over chair, picks herself up and continues] 😀

  277. Kronomex

    I’m feeling much better…heehee…these nice men in a funny van showed up and put me in…heehee…a nice warm jacket that has lots of buckles on it and…oohh, look at the cows…took me for a ride to…twitch…twitch…a building where a…neat…did you know elephants are pink..nice doctor said I would be alright after a rest.

  278. Karen Kyle

    Kronomex…….WW2 Russia………History Lectures Bendigo College of Advanced Education (later Latrobe University)

  279. Kaye Lee


    I would like to apologise for my frustration and grumpiness and try to explain my over-reaction.

    Suggestions aren’t “ridiculous” and questions aren’t “silly”. People are entitled to express their opinion without being dismissed as “armchair critics”.

    We are all here to learn and share information, not compete, and often others know more than we do. I learn a lot from listening to them. You might too.

    Can we start again without the dismissive attitude we may have both been expressing?

  280. Karen Kyle

    Yes people are entitled to express an opinion without being dismissed, or ridiculed re brainwashed, deprogrammed etc. No apology is necessary. Happy to start again. Will try not to make people go AGH.

  281. Kaye Lee

    Soooo….getting back to the topic,

    “If you care about other people, that’s now a very dangerous idea. If you care about other people, you might try to organize to undermine power and authority. That’s not going to happen if you care only about yourself. Maybe you can become rich, but you don’t care whether other people’s kids can go to school, or can afford food to eat, or things like that. In the United States, that’s called “libertarian” for some wild reason. I mean, it’s actually highly authoritarian, but that doctrine is extremely important for power systems as a way of atomizing and undermining the public.”

    Noam Chomsky “Business Elites Are Waging a Brutal Class War in America”.

  282. Kronomex

    So Russia defeated the Nazis and Italy and Japan all by themselves? Read Antony Beevor’s “The Second World War” and then tell me they won without any help.

    apologies to Kaye Lee, but people who make sweeping statements without supplying evidence (Karen, please don’t tell me to Google it or you will really annoy me) to back it up is just a cop out.

  283. Karen Kyle

    The American Libertarians insist that having to pay tax is coercion. An infringement to their rights of freedom. Americans (Some of them ) have a strange notion of freedom. They should not be subject to coercion, but everybody else should.. i.e everyone else should pay tax presumably.

    Perhaps we should let all the wealthy get away with paying no tax. Then if they want to use roads, bridges, airports, seaports etc for their businesses they can’t. Those were mostly funded by tax revenue. If they want to send their kids to school, it had better be a totally privately funded school. But they can’t use the roads. Get sick and need hospitalisation? Too bad. They were built by the taxpayer. Need medication? Any government funding in the development and the answer is no. Want a computer? No. Want glasses or false teeth? Nope. Want burial in a public graveyard along side Mum and Dad? Nope. My favourite fantasy.

  284. Karen Kyle

    Kronomex. It is what I was taught in history. A long time ago now. So sorry I no longer have the books etc. However the facts of the matter are filtering through and it is becoming generally accepted. And I am talking about the War in Europe. You will find that different nations have surprisingly different views of the same war. We realised some time ago that the Russian view is accurate. Russia defeated the Germans in Russia. Not the Italians or the Japanese. And the Brits and Americans and other Allies played a significant role in Europe North Africa etc.

  285. Michael Taylor

    Karen, your comment at 12:35pm – I couldn’t agree with it more.

  286. Kaye Lee

    ….and the Pacific. The nuclear bombs in Japan were the final nail in the coffin there. I asked my mother, who lived through it, what she thought about that. She, like so many others, was desperate for the war to stop. So many people she knew had been killed. We cannot imagine how bad that time was which is why I vehemently oppose arms build-ups as some pretence at keeping peace. Wars don’t work for anybody.

  287. Karen Kyle

    Yes and the Pacific.

  288. Zathras

    Australians were not the only troops that landed at Gallipoli and there were many other countries involved in the D-Day invasion at Normandy besides the USA.

    People get most of their history from popular culture or Hollywood.

    For those who are utterly convinced that Australia was under threat of Japanese invasion during WW2 I suggest they refer to the research by prize-winning historian Peter Stanley. History is usually rewritten with reluctance by the victors and not at all when it serves an ongoing domestic purpose.

    It’s the same for the topic under discussion – things are viewed through the prism of self-interest and alternate views are ignored or dismissed.

    So it was and ever more shall be.

  289. Kronomex

    “And I am talking about the War in Europe.” If you had mentioned that in the first place then I would not have been cranky. The end. This conversation is now like the Norwegian Blue.

    Your comments at 12.35 p.m. are commendable but as we all know a pipe dream to which the biggest pipe we can think of won’t even come close. Spend our own money? Gasp, shock, we live here so we should, nay, demand as is our lordly rights, to suck the public purse dry.

  290. Kaye Lee

    My father volunteered in WWII. I asked him why. He said they truly believed they were defending their “mothers, wives and daughters”. The propaganda was fierce as was the peer group pressure. Dad was home on his last leave before heading overseas and a troop train pulled up opposite his parent’s place. Seeing an ostensibly healthy young male sitting on the verandah, much abuse was hurled as white feathers were waved. His mother went inside and got his slouch hat and came out and waved it. The troops on the train cheered. All was forgiven.

  291. Egalitarian

    Yes Karen all the US wealthy believe in not paying tax and having a small government and no regulations. Gee; I wonder what that could be all about? And most believe in Jesus and the Gun.

  292. paul walter

    Here we go…comment 300!!

    Not much else to say, but to offer congrats again to Kaye Lee and other perceptive voices.

  293. Miriam English

    An ex-military friend told me this tonight:

    “Robots are already extensively used in warfare in an offensive capacity (drone strikes in Afghanistan). I saw a recent demonstration of a tiny quad rotor that finds a human target by face recognition then lands on the person’s forehead and discharges a projectile into the person’s head. It was so agile that the demonstrator could not catch it – it was faster than a blowfly. The speaker said that the US military can deploy thousands of these from an airborne freighter (say a Hercules), each one programmed to find a specific target and kill that person. That is the face of modern warfare. If some anonymous general or politician wants you dead then you have no chance at all.

    So much for spending countless millions on fighter jets and submarines…

  294. karen kyle

    C’mon Miriam………….thousands of drones can be dropped from a Hercules all relying on facial recognition technology. They land on the person’s forehead and discharge a projectile into their head. Facial recognition technology? How will facial recognition technology work for an army of thousands? Methinks someone is taking liberties. Would be useful only for single assassinations, like Osama Bin Laden.

  295. Karen Kyle

    And the simple answer would be to wear protective head gear, like a steel helmet, which soldiers wear now.

  296. Zathras

    I think the notion of having a personalised “drone with your name on it” is still a bit fanciful. I can imagine soldiers wearing Groucho Marx fake noses, mustaches and glasses as protection on the battlefield instead of armour.

    I’ve read about the proposed concept of an autonomous killing machine capable of refuelling itself from decaying biomass. A robot killing it’s way across the country and “eating” it’s victims is the stuff of nightmares and an indication of the direction of how far humanity is willing to go.

    Considering the likelihood of software glitches, programming errors and hacking in modern hi-tech equipment, future warfare will become far more dangerous and unpredictable for both sides.

    However, the currently researched principle of smaller individual devices capable of “swarming” would spell the end of aircraft carriers and submarines for a start.

  297. Kronomex

    Karen, a helmet is useless if the round is armour piecing. Paranoia or what?

  298. Kaye Lee

    Instead of spending hundreds of billions on attack weapons which will be outdated before we get them and irrelevant to modern day warfare, our defence forces should concentrate on what we are good at and uniquely positioned to offer – emergency response to disasters and disease outbreaks, search and rescue, rebuilding infrastructure, humanitarian aid, temporary peacekeeping forces – they are a well-trained, well-equipped, diverse, mobile workforce who can be very quickly deployed yet they are wasted on war games or traumatised in foreign conflicts. We can earn the respect and trust of other countries by helping them – or we can use threats and bomb them.

  299. Karen Kyle

    Zathras…….I am glad you used the words “proposed concept” and “currently researched”. Obviously these dreadful weapons are not yet a reality, and some of them may never reach fruition depending on the technical difficulties. Meanwhile, we have to do what the rest of the world is doing and continue with more conventional weapons.

    I don’t know much about the operational capacities of the F35A except that their computer systems can be linked together to increase their capacities. Linked together they can “see” for miles, well beyond mere human range.. They can also distinguish friend from foe. The communications system enables them to speak and provide guidance to ships and submarines. They can order a submarine to fire a torpedo when the target is hundreds of miles away. They can then lock onto that torpedo and guide it right on to the target, even changing it’s direction if necessary. The role of the F35A seems to be protective in that they use their communications systems to warn of impending attack in the air thus protecting other fighter aircraft and on the battleground. They are also fully equipped stealth bombers and fighters in their own right.

    So far only the Israelis have used them in a combat situation and they say they are just beginning to understand the potential of the platform. So……until the “swarming things” are developed we will have to continue to use Fighter Jets and Submarines.

  300. Karen Kyle

    Kaye Lee….Thank you.

  301. Karen Kyle

    Zathras …. The “swarming things” would only be of use on a conventional battleground with infantry, pretty much leaving out the air and sea as theatres of war and maybe soldiers in tanks as well. I suspect their use would be limited. And then there is the question of cyber war. I hope our beloved government is doing some serious work on that problem.

  302. Karen Kyle

    Kaye Lee……Please Google Thales Bushmaster. The Bushmaster was the first version of what is now Hawkesi. It’s pedigree is explained along with the sales of the vehicles to other armies including the Brits and the advantages of the vehicle. The Dutch bought it. That Dutch soldier whose life was saved said he would talk to his military superiors about it. Don’t know if he did but something happened.

  303. Karen Kyle

    Kaye Lee…..You can also Google Thales and Hawkei. That will tell you about the latest version. The AG got the name wrong I see. I was surprised to find the name changed. I expected it to be Bushmaster forever. Thales also made a firefighting version of the vehicle which was also outstanding. Unfortunately it had a big price tag and most municipalities and fire services couldn’t afford to buy it A pity. It did cost us a million dollars a day to hire fire fighting aircraft from the US. Thankfully we have our own aircraft to fight fires now..

  304. Miriam English

    Karen, you misunderstand. This small drone is not some fanciful thing, it exists already. My friend, who is an ex-RAAF officer was describing a demonstration of its capabilities that he had watched. Unlike big, expensive fighter jets, aircraft carriers, battleships, and submarines, these things can be manufactured in their millions for just several dollars each. They don’t have to recognise a particular face, but can simply be set to seek out human faces the way your smartphone’s camera does. They fire a bolt into a person’s upper face. Good luck armoring that.

    Note that I’m not recommending this. I’m just pointing out that this is where war is heading. If we bring battleships and tanks and fighter jets to such a war then we’ve lost before we begin. It’s like bringing the finest, most expensive, most perfectly balanced sword to a fight where your opponent has a mass-produced machine-gun. You can spend vast amounts on your weapon, but if it isn’t appropriate then failure is assured. As I pointed out before, the USA and Australia brought the world’s most advanced war technology to the Vietnam War and were beaten by peasants. The technology was not appropriate.

    One interesting aspect of such a “smart” drone war might be that it could drastically reduce casualties on each side by targeting the politicians and generals who drag us into war, instead of attacking the ground troops. Cut off the head and the body stops.

  305. Karen Kyle

    No Miriam I didn’t misunderstand. If you say these weapons are already in existence I wouldn’t doubt it. But I have to say that we are now dealing with multiple different types of warfare. Guerrilla warfare is extensively used,. During WW2 it was used by the Resistance Movement alongside conventional methods. And it is the reason for losing the Vietnam War to the Chinese who invented Guerrilla Warfare (any wonder we lost, they are good at it). Terrorism has now been added to guerrilla tactics without a declaration of war and aimed at civilian populations..The worst and most reprehensible kind of war These methods arose because some countries had conventional armies which the enemies could not match or hope to defeat. Now we have cyber war with the capacity to cripple economies and industry, thus rendering a country helpless. So I suppose we have to develop weapons to try and cope with all these different types of war.

    You assumption that this weapon could be used on the politicians and generals who “drag us into war” and thereby stop the war is not sound. First you assume that we are being dragged into war by leaders whose motives are suspect. It may be that there are times when this is not so and war and may be be a question of survival for a country or people. You also assume that removing the leaders will stop the war. Again this is not necessarily so. Much depends on why the war is being fought in the first place. It isn’t possible to make sweeping generalisations and restrict planning to one type of warfare.

  306. Kaye Lee


    I was not commenting on the relative merits of different vehicles. Just horrified at the AG’s interference using an obscure provision to stop any appraisal of the contract. I am horrified that, despite defence having been consulted and raising no objections, the AG chose, at the request of Thales, to quash the report and to, off his own bat, raise not only the commercial objection that Thales raised, but to add in national security that defence didn’t raise. This is a very dangerous precedent.

  307. Karen Kyle

    Kaye Lee…… No doubt you are right. I hope this is the first and last time it happens.

  308. Kronomex

    Kaye Lee,

    “I am horrified that, despite defence having been consulted and raising no objections, the AG chose, at the request of Thales, to quash the report and to, off his own bat, raise…” I think we have to agree that the current version of the LNP is the most corrupt party, political or otherwise, this country has seen in many years. It will contiue to wreck the country until they are removed and we’ll know by the smell the burning of paper (figuratively and literally) when they realise that they’re finished in the lead up to the election next year. That is unless Scummo and the rest of Crony Co. can find some way to declare martial law (awful thought but not beyond the bounds of possibility with this lot).

  309. Miriam English

    Karen, you amaze me. It doesn’t bother me that you change your mind; that’s a healthy thing to do, but when you do so while pretending that was what you thought all along… it makes you a bit hard to take seriously.

  310. Karen Kyle

    I didn’t change my mind. I THOUGHT ABOUT IT. And this is a blog for Christ’s sake. Not a Papal Bull and not a meeting of the War Office.

  311. Karen Kyle

    And to make myself crystal clear……I believe conventional weapons will be around for some time yet. And we will continue to use them for the next 50 years or so with maybe the high tech wizz bangery as supplementary adjuncts..

  312. Miriam English

    …and she doubles down. Karen, people can read what you said earlier. Why are you trying to do a Trump?

  313. Kaye Lee

    Or we could try to think of ways to avoid battles and build schools and hospitals and bridges and clean water and sanitation and housing and power infrastructure instead. We could immunise against disease. We could provide basic health care. Think of the opportunity cost of the money wasted on weapons and the destruction they cause. Think of the damage to so many lives. They mentioned today, after yet another mass shotting in the US, that veterans are hugely over-represented in perpetrator stats. We teach very young people to kill, make them face, and do, horrific things, and then largely abandon them when they come home. This must stop. We must evolve past it.

  314. Miriam English

    Kaye, well said. We certainly don’t need more killing. Ways to make ourselves more indispensable to our neighbors would be much safer, more friendly, and probably more profitable.

    Karen, try to keep your anger in check, please.
    For your benefit, I’ll recap:
    • I related what an ex-RAAF friend told me of a demonstration he attended recently in which cheap, small, fast, agile drones used AI to target and kill.
    • You derided the account, casting doubt on its veracity.
    • I figured you misunderstood, so I pressed the point that these things are not fantasy; they really do exist.
    • You then changed your mind, while pretending that you hadn’t.
    • I said that changing one’s mind is a good and healthy thing, but that it baffles me that you’d pretend that you hadn’t.
    • Bizarrely, you doubled down, insisting that you hadn’t changed your mind, as if it was some kind of sin to change one’s mind, and you start to get defensive about it.
    • I point out that we have eyes and can read your earlier comments where we can see what you said.
    • Now you start to get really pissy at being called out, while subtly changing the topic away from your insincerity and back to the earlier point of drones vs conventional weapons and pretending that this was the point of disagreement.

    I’m actually quite uncomfortable picking at this particular point, but I kinda feel I need to, because you use a very arrogant and aggressive way to deal with people. It grates badly and is unnecessary. I’d have thought you’d have learned that after having rubbed quite a few people here the wrong way already with it.

    There is nothing wrong with changing one’s mind. It is a good thing to do. It’s how we grow. Acting like you were “caught out” and then attacking someone for noticing… that’s not healthy. If you make a mistake and admit it, the people here will have greater respect for you, not less.

  315. Kronomex

    Karen, for christ’s sake give it a rest and find some other subject to carry on about! And…

  316. Michael Taylor

    Karen, I hate to say it but your hypocrisy is showing. A few comments ago you said:

    And we do spend millions on aid, because it is in our interest in order to secure a peaceful and stable world as well as humanitarian considerations.

    Yet today you come up with:

    As for Kaye Lee’s injunction that we should spend our money on poverty in the Third World … nice sentiment … but also naive.

    No wonder you confuse us.

  317. Kaye Lee

    “as far as I know we don’t have homeless veterans”

    The State of Homelessness in Australia’s Cities report, released by the Centre for Social Impact at the University of Western Australia, found that 1 in 20 of the 8,370 homeless people interviewed over the past eight years, were ex-military personnel.

    1 in 20 Homeless People Surveyed Are Military Veterans: New Study

    One of us is naive and it ain’t me. And I am constantly thinking of ways to avoid battles. Helping people rather than bombing them seems an obvious start. The government seems to realise the potential of helping only when someone else looks like horning in on their turf eg our re-found interest in the Pacific.

  318. helvityni

    Michael, …whilst people here are responding to her, Karen will stay put.

    Most of us here agree with Kaye’s compassionate views; no one will change Karen’s harsher way of viewing the world…

  319. Michael Taylor

    Totally agree, helvityni. Kaye and Miriam make her look stupid. Then Karen comes in and she makes herself look stupid.

    I used to regularly get criticised for demeaning people, so I’ve bit my tongue this year. But I just can’t contain my astonishment with Karen a day longer.

    PS: it’s times like this that I wish Roswell was here. He was brilliant when dealing with fools.

  320. Karen Kyle

    Kaye Lee……homeless veterans….all they have to do is go to the nearest branch of the RSL. There they will be informed of their rights, what help is available to them and someone can be appointed to help them navigate the system.

  321. Kronomex


    Wrong. You are the one who can’t let it go as evinced by your replies and your own self-importance and snide remarks about other posters, “…but by Christ I am glad Kaye Lee isn’t in charge.” You are like a tick that, once burrowed in, can’t be removed without causing pain. GIVE IT A REST!


  322. Michael Taylor

    Karen, take a chill pill and lay down for a while. Better still, go for a nice drive in the country … treat yourself to a B&B for the weekend … go hiking, or panning for gold … shout your partner to a fancy restaurant tonight.

    It’ll do your anger a world of good.

    As for;

    I seem to threaten to burst your bubble.

    Wow. What a conceited lady you are.

  323. Paul Davis

    “You see I think like most people. I have the majority point of view and in this case the majority point of view happens to be more or less correct because it is based on truths and reality”

    Sound familiar???

    300+ comments and here you are again reversing out of another Karen Kyle cul-de-sac.

    Politely suggest that everyone yields the floor to Karen’s ego, let her have the last word and maybe the mods could lock the thread.

  324. Miriam English

    Yep. My mistake. An itch I had to scratch.

    I was reading about people’s ability to insulate themselves from reality, and the “backfire effect” recently (where people’s beliefs are contradicted by information, but instead of altering their beliefs they reinforce them). I’d love to understand how these things work. I find it very puzzling and deeply disturbing. How can some people assert things that are at odds with reality? How is it that further evidence of any mismatch doesn’t unseat those beliefs, but actually strengthens them?

    How many of our world’s problems come from the ability of people to do this? Morrison saying that he cried for the refugees… Abbott believing he can be an effective minister for women… the heads of the Anglican church in Sydney thinking they speak for morality in wanting to be able to spread bigotry against LGBT kids and teachers… Christian evangelists believing Trump is heaven-sent… Sunni Muslim extremists who believe Shia Muslims are apostates and deserve to die… Shia Muslim extremists who believe Sunni Muslim extremists are apostates and deserve to die… people who insist climate destabilisation is a myth…


    I’ve also been reading and thinking a lot about the Fermi Paradox (it is being incorporated into my current novel). It worries me that this ability to contradict reality might be one of the great filters. [sigh]

  325. Michael Taylor

    Good idea, Paul.

    Free cigar to whoever shuts her up.

  326. Karen Kyle

    Miriam…….Yes and dangerous. Hang on to reality and don’t worry too much about dogma religious or political (they have quite a lot in common). Don’t worry about the Fermi Paradox. A problem for future generations. If there are any.

  327. Paul Davis

    If you do want an interesting read over a cuppa or two, suggest Miriam English’s website.


  328. Kaye Lee

    “You are guilty of very poor thinking. Thinking that is without nuance and without any acknowledgement of realities.”

    Two of my great uncles died in WWI. My father fought in WWII. My mother’s first fiance was a POW in Changi. A dear friend who fought in Vietnam took his own life. I acknowledge the realities. I know that wars solve nothing. I know that they breed resentment. I acknowledge the dreadful cost.

    I also know that the armaments industry likes to encourage us all to believe having more weapons is the best way to keep the peace rather than have us questioning their motives. I kn ow that the armaments industry have no morals. We are joining the rush to provide the Saudis with weapons when they 9/11 bombers came from there, when they are bombing the crap out of Yemen, when they are executing people by beheading them, when they are killing and dismembering journalists. Such is the lure of the armaments dollars encouraged by empire-building military.

  329. Miriam English

    🙂 Thank you, Paul. I appreciate that.

  330. Kaye Lee

    I will concede that there may be times when you have to fight to protect yourself. But that has not been the case in so many of our so-called defence incursions. What on earth is the point in building up a nuclear arsenal? Just because the other guys got one? That’s the only reason. A sane world would ban them altogether.

    If what you have been doing doesn’t work, then you need to try another way. So many lives wasted in Afghanistan for what? Our interference usually makes things worse.

  331. Kronomex

    I agree with Paul, it’s high time that this thread was locked.

  332. Kaye Lee

    I am not the owner of the site and the opinions of our regular readers also carry weight. It has become a circuitous argument. Perhaps you might reflect that when you so confidently assert that you represent the majority, you certainly don’t here. Perhaps the wider community is more sick of violence and waste than you think.

  333. Michael Taylor

    I usually leave that up to the author, Kaye. You make a good point though: why deny others from having a say just to shut Karen down?

    If we shut her down on this thread, she’ll only start squawking on another one.

  334. Karen Kyle

    I have commented on a couple of other threads. With out squawking at all.

  335. Kronomex

    That’s all well and good Karen but you have pushed this thread as far as it can go… circling around and around the drain without end, ad nauseam. It’s time to let this one go.


  336. Kaye Lee

    Right on cue…

    ‘Killer robots’: The awesome destructive power no human will be able to stop

    “These will be weapons that humans will not be able to defend themselves against. They will be so fast, so quick, so accurate. Once bullets start flying any humans will be dead,” Prof Walsh tells

    “It will revolutionise the way we fight war … and it would be very destabilising. These weapons could be easily acquired by terrorists and rogue states and used against civilian populations.

    “They would be the perfect weapon for terrorists. They will follow any order, however evil.”

    Prof Walsh believes Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS) are a Pandora’s box that could be hard to close if it is opened.

    Already there are working prototypes in the air, on land and above and below the sea. The US, Russia, United Kingdom, China and Republic of Korea are pioneering the new weapons of mass destruction.

  337. Kaye Lee


    So far, 26 countries have called for a pre-emptive ban on killer robots. Australia is not one of those nations.

    In September, the US, Russia, Australia, South Korea, Israel and others blocked progress towards an international treaty ban on fully autonomous weapons.

  338. Miriam English

    Kronomex, to be honest, I reopened this thread, rather than Karen. It has had some unfortunate aspects, but I don’t believe it’s been a complete waste.

    Kaye, yeah, I’ve been watching the developments at Boston Dynamics for many years, with rising alarm. It’s not their humanoid robotic soldiers that worry me so much as their 4-legged ones, such as the “Cheetah” which can run up to about 45 kmph so far. At the moment they have severe power limitations, so have to be bulky and don’t have great range, and they’re still pretty clumsy, but this will change.

    I agree with Professor Walsh, that we should be calling for a total ban on AI killing machines. I’m not sure that we will be repelled by their use in war, to the point where they get banned. I point to Saudi Arabia and their ongoing slaughter of people in Yemen, and Myanmar’s genocide of the Rohingya. People were and are horrified, but nobody has really done anything about either calamity.

    While war is costly in terms of lives and dollars it will continue to decline. When it becomes cheap and easy, that will be something to really worry about.

  339. Karen Kyle

    Kay Lee…..where did that information come from?

  340. Kaye Lee

    The link is there Karen.

  341. Matters Not


    I point to Saudi Arabia and their ongoing slaughter of people in Yemen, and Myanmar’s genocide of the Rohingya.

    Perhaps an unconscious biased selection – given the multitude of possible examples available? One would have thought that the US would feature given its penchant for … whatever. And perhaps Australia might feature at least as a bit player. Or is that too close to home?

    Always much easier to point out the ‘wrongs’ of the other but all too easy not to look in the mirror. Such is life.

  342. Kronomex

    Miriam, I wasn’t saying that about everyone who posts to the thread, it was aimed at Karen who just reminds me of a scratched record…a scratched record…a scratched record…

  343. Miriam English

    Matters Not, no, my post was originally quite a lot longer and I cut a lot out as I’m conscious that I have a bad tendency to overdo it. I just gave those 2 examples because everybody would be familiar with them, so I wouldn’t need to explain. I originally intended to include more examples, such as the genocide of Muslims by the Christians in the former Yugoslavia, which always stands out in my mind as having been almost ignored by Western media who, while appalled at the killing, seemed unable to admit that the Christians were the culprits and the Muslims the victims. But all that took too many words to explain, so I left that and a few others out for the sake of brevity.

    What examples would you have included to illustrate the point? I’m genuinely interested. Perhaps you’re thinking of some I might not have. I’m always happy to have my blind spots revealed.

  344. Kaye Lee

    Miriam, more news….

    Wang was sent here by the People’s Liberation Army’s National University of Defence Technology (NUDT) as part of its program to use global academic expertise to achieve military ends.

    Spending two years in Canberra, Wang trained and worked in artificial intelligence and robotics. Papers he wrote at the time show that he was working on “formation stabilisation” for groups of drones, for example.

    Developing better unmanned vehicles for the Chinese military is precisely what Wang now aspires to do, having benefited from ANU’s world-class experts, resources and facilities.

    “Unmanned combat is the commanding height of applied artificial intelligence; we must rush to occupy it!” Wang told Chinese reporters in 2017.

    Wang is now an associate professor at the NUDT, where the military has explicitly designated him as a scholar of exceptional potential. He is chief technician of a classified military project whose name and subject have not been released to the public. His PhD thesis, in part the product of his work at ANU, has also not been released publicly, suggesting its contents are also classified.

    But simple internet searches indicate that he is part of the PLA’s “Drone Swarm Autonomous Combat Team”, which works to perfect drone swarms.

    What does that look like? A Chinese media article on his work paints the following picture: “Dozens of rows of fixed-winged aerial drones take off from a runway. At speed, they form ranks and fly towards a designated battlefield area for their reconnaissance mission.”

    Besides battlefield reconnaissance, swarms of drones can overwhelm existing air defences and destroy aircraft carriers. Flying one of these inexpensive devices into the air intake of an F-22 fighter jet could take down the plane.

  345. Miriam English

    Oh Jeez! Well, I guess it’s to be expected. How depressing. I guess this calls for me to write a story about this kind of battle. 🙁

    My ex-RAAF friend builds small reconnaissance drones that are powered by jet engines. The engines are surprisingly small — a bit bigger than a soft drink can. They can fly at very high speeds for great distances. I don’t think his drones use AI, though he is something of an electronics wizard. It wouldn’t be hard to add it and make them autonomous. I imagine many people around the world are working on this kind of thing.

    Much as I’m repelled by it, Wang is correct when he says that autonomous weapons are the new military “high ground”. Unfortunately they have disturbingly dangerous potential for not just humanity, but the entire planet. War doesn’t just kill people — it devastates all wildlife in a region. And because they increase uncertainty and cause famines they lead to population booms — something we do NOT need just now. We need extended peace so we can rehabilitate the planet and reduce our population.

  346. Kaye Lee

    It’s amazing how many stories there are about this just in the last few days. This today from the UK…

    Technologies that could unleash a generation of lethal weapons systems requiring little or no human interaction are being funded by the Ministry of Defence, according to a new report.

    The government insists it “does not possess fully autonomous weapons and has no intention of developing them”. But, since 2015, the UK has declined to support proposals put forward at the UN to ban them. Now, using government data, Freedom of Information requests and open-source information, a year-long investigation reveals that the MoD and defence contractors are funding dozens of artificial intelligence programmes for use in conflict.

    “Despite public statements that the UK has no intention of developing lethal autonomous weapon systems, there is tangible evidence that the MoD, military contractors and universities in the UK are actively engaged in research and the development of the underpinning technology with the aim of using it in military applications,” said Peter Burt, author of the new report Off the Leash: The Development of Autonomous Military Drones in the UK – produced by Drone Wars UK which campaigns against the development of unmanned systems.

  347. Kaye Lee

    It should be noted that this tangential conversation started because of Karen’s concern about the cost of increasing Newstart and me suggesting we could cancel some of our orders for military equipment that will be outdated before it arrives.

    We will spend $100 billion to build and operate the new fleet of submarines, and we can’t even find enough people to man our current ones let alone find 1500 more. The first of our new subs is supposed to be delivered in the early 2030s, with the final sub delivered in the 2050s.


    The US has developed a fully autonomous drone ship, the sea hunter. The unmanned trimaran boat can perform several wartime roles, from hunting submarines and sea mines to acting as a floating communications node.

    China is aggressively pursuing the creation of a fleet of AI-armed drone submarines that can patrol the world’s oceans.

    It would be in our interest to sign the agreement banning autonomous weapons and to stop pretending we can join the arms race.

    And Karen, making people aware IS doing something useful don’t you think?

  348. Kaye Lee

    America spends far more on its military than China and Russia. It has far more overseas bases. It has interfered in far more foreign wars. It has overthrown democratically elected governments.

    Military build-up in China and Russia is at least in part in response to US domination and aggression.

    North Korea says (?) it will get rid of missiles if the US get rid of theirs from South Korea. Russia feels threatened by US missiles in NATO counties. The US keep deliberately taunting the Chinese in the South China Sea – the Chinese feel threatened by their vulnerability in that waterway. On and on it goes getting nowhere.

    And we always seem to leave out the biggest arms importer – India.

  349. Kaye Lee

    You study the Middle East. How do you feel the Sykes-Picot agreement affected tensions there?

    My point in all this is that the West’s colonialism of the past and domination of the present through military might has caused a great deal of tension and ill-will. Of course we have done some good things too. Maintaining your domination by weapons doesn’t build lasting peace. It just encourages others to get better weapons. Providing a better way of life is much more likely to be successful and is much more sustainable.

  350. Miriam English

    Karen, you give the USA a free pass?

    “From 1945 to 2003, the United States attempted to overthrow more than 40 foreign governments, and to crush more than 30 populist-nationalist movements fighting against intolerable systems. In the process, the U.S. bombed some 25 countries, caused the end of life for several million people, and condemned many millions more to a life of agony and despair.”
    — William Blum, “Killing Hope”

    And now with Trump at the helm of a nation that spends more on killing-machines than all other countries combined, I’d say USA represents a very real existential threat. Please understand that I’m not saying the tin-pot dictators and power-obsessed morons controlling other countries are not a worry too, but I think they are kinda outweighed by USA. Before Trump, I was aware of USA’s bad record, but felt relatively safe as an ally, however with Trump running things, all bets are off.

  351. Kaye Lee

    Yet another story about unmanned warfare

    Australia will buy at least a dozen armed Reaper drones for a price tag of at least $400 million

    And yet another story about government secrecy re defence materiel purchases….

    The home affairs department has warned the auditor general it may try to suppress his findings if he presses ahead with a planned report on its $330m fleet of patrol boats.

  352. Matters Not

    And yet another story about Labor’s quest to also occupy the low political moral ground.

    Voters will be left in the dark about who donated to the major political parties ahead of the next federal election, after Labor and the Coalition united to reject legislative changes being pushed by the crossbench.

    No we can’t have real time disclosures. We can’t see who is buying who – we just have to wait.

    However, the Greens failed to amend the legislation to have political donations disclosed as they occurred.

    And some wonder why people vote for The Greens. But wait there’s more. (When it comes to corruption and ALP involvement, there often is.)

    Under current federal laws, voters have to wait months to find out who donated more than $13,000 to the parties, but

    The Greens also failed to pass amendments that would see all political donations above $1,000 declared, meaning anything less than $13,000 will remain anonymous.

    And I hope no-one tells me that the LNP are worse – because I know that – and it’s such a pathetic excuse. I stress again – if the amendments had passed, the public would have gone into the next federal election with more information about political party funding than ever before.

    What have they got to hide?

  353. Kaye Lee

    I read an interesting article today whose author got through to his children about the importance of their vote by pointing out that candidates (parties) get $2.70 per first preference vote paid out from government coffers even if they lose (provided they get 4% of the vote) – a racket Pauline Hansen and the Greens have used to great advantage. Unfortunately, in trying to field candidates everywhere to maximise return, they sometimes are not careful enough in candidate vetting.

    As well as donation reform, we need a cap on electoral spending like they have in Canada and a ban on political advertising like they have in the UK.

    PIus I would REALLY like repercussions for politicians who make claims and pass on information that is proven to be false. Company directors get in trouble from shareholders (and ASIC) if they mislead them and, increasingly, if they fail to identify risks.

  354. Matters Not


    repercussions for politicians who make claims and pass on information that is proven to be false.

    Indeed. Currently – responsibility evaporates when they leave office. Perhaps their future superannuation entitlements might be used as a guarantee? Even gaol time for more serious offences?

    One wonders how long it will be before Hanson and Latham fall out? Or has that happened already?

    The fat of the body politic is rancid.

  355. Kaye Lee

    Giving Mark Latham a platform has never worked well in the past. Here is one of his latest tweets which he must be very proud of because he pinned it.

    84% of Australians are white.
    42% of Australians are white males.
    40% of Australians are straight white males.
    What sort of nutty ‘social justice’ strategy creates new forms of discrimination against 40% of the population, supposedly to overcome old forms of discrimination?

  356. m

    atters Not

    Years ago I ploughed through Civilising Global Capital. Then realised – logical contradictions meant nothing to Latham. Hilariously, he could’ve become Prime Minister.

    He became one of Gough’s greatest regrets.

  357. Kaye Lee

    “Why should our weaponry become public knowledge for anyone including foreign powers”

    People can google and see what weaponry we have got. The Auditor General looks at things like tendering practices, value for money, evaluation of efficiency, departmental practice etc. Any discussion of tactical capability would only be in the context of a cost-benefit comparison with alternatives and, in the case of those vehicles in the first suppression order, was cleared by defence. Don’t you find it odd that its Home Affairs asking for a suppression and NOT defence?

  358. Kaye Lee

    Canada 1.3%, UK 1.8%, New Zealand 1.2%, Malaysia 1.1%, Germany 1.2%, Indonesia 0.8%, Japan 0.9% etc etc

    Making spending a percentage of GDP regardless of need is ridiculous. The military go on spending sprees of dubious benefit just to spend the money.

  359. Kaye Lee


    The Auditor checked with defence, There were no security concerns. Thales made a complaint for commercial reasons. The AG decided, off his own bat, against defence advice, to say “national security”, which, along with commercial-in-confidence, public immunity, and I haven’t got time to answer you, are being increasingly used to avoid scrutiny – something you seemed to agree was a problem several posts back. You do more backflips than ProMo Karen.

  360. Zathras

    We recently commemorated the consequences of what happens when countries are armed-to-the-teeth and infected with rampant Nationalism and growing resentment.

    A million dollars was a lot of money back in 1918 and that little skirmish created 200 new millionaires in the USA alone and a nice fresh one will offer better returns and opportunities in the marketplace than the current economic situation.

    Blackwater alone did very nicely out of reconstructing Iraq so imagine the potential profits on a much larger scale.

    As for the USA financial contribution to NATO, that misleading cost includes all the military bases the USA has installed in NATO countries primarily for the USA’s military interests and not soley those of NATO.

  361. Karen Kyle

    As for my supposed back flips……are you talking about Thales or something else? It isn’t clear. And the weapons in service now are not like the still undeveloped horrors some have described on this page. Hopefully these new weapons of mass destruction will be banned along with the older versions.

  362. Matters Not

    When it comes to military expenditure, Australia should lead the world. Set an example as it were. Each year we should spend less than we did the year before and then boast long and loud about it. Organise a world-wide competition and invite all nations to compete. A race to the bottom of the expenditure outlays.

    Without a whole lot of weapons, Australia wouldn’t get invited to join other warlike nations like the USA. Who knows it might even catch on and lead to less war. Think of how much it would have saved us over the years. Perhaps peace in our time might might be given a new meaning.

  363. Matters Not

    Karen Kyle, one thing I am fairly confident of is that what most call Human Nature – is NOT a constant.

    Human nature (particularly the behavioural aspects) is the result of a socialisation process. And there are many of those. But having said that I recognise that human nature is one of the most complicated ones at the core of the social sciences.

  364. Michael Taylor

    How odd to think that human nature is a constant.

    Defies logic.

  365. Michael Taylor

    Karen Kyle, please don’t try to be smug or sarcastic to me.

  366. Kaye Lee

    ” supposed back flips”

    When I said the AG’s interference was “a very dangerous precedent” you said “No doubt you are right. I hope this is the first and last time it happens”. A week passes, I point out they are doing it again, and you say “The Government cites security reasons which is plausible.”

  367. Kaye Lee

    Human nature is infinitely variable and ever-changing. Because we have always had wars is not a good reason to keep having them. And behaviour can be modified – look at gun deaths in Australia compared to the US purely because they have too many weapons. We really need to stop flooding the world with weapons. No good comes of it. We need to stop trying to forcibly impose our values on others. We need to show respect and offer assistance where we can but we must also apply diplomatic and trade pressure to human rights abusers. (Oh and stop being one)

    We are getting less violent. We must proactively continue that trend and show some leadership. Police are more important than armies.

  368. Karen Kyle

    Kaye Lee……..We have no workable definition of “Human”, therefore we are somewhat confused about what it is to be human and there are some different opinions none of them satisfactory.

  369. Kaye Lee

    Yes well here’s my specualtion.

    The Coalition have embarked on a ridiculous arms buidl-up to keep the US happy and they really don’t want any scrutiny of how they are doing it. They do not follow due process. They hand out contracts for reasons not based on cost/benefit or opportunity cost or actual need. They buy votes, they curry favour, they reward donors, they do as they are told by the US. They do not follow advice from experts. They follow ideology. They confect national security problems and purposely stoke fear for political reasons rather than being a reliable pair of hands on the wheel smoothing tensions. Military will always say they need more money. Arms manufacturers target them with sales pitches of brand new toys that make last year’s toy oh so yesterday. We get on this silly keep up with the Jones’s cycle of wanting the newest thing that goes bang. I could go on speculating but you get my drift.

  370. Matters Not


    Human nature is infinitely variable

    Well it’s towards that end of the spectrum in my humble opinion, but don’t tell that to the sociobiologists who argue that some behaviours are best seen as an effort to preserve one’s genes in the population. But that’s an argument for another day.

    Nevertheless, by way of example, it is said that humans are greedy, aggressive, self-centered and the like. Yet when it comes to women and their offspring … But then again they might not be fully human at that time in their lives. LOL.

    Have heard anthropologists argue:

    There is no such thing as a human nature independent of culture. Men without culture . . . would be unworkable monstrosities with very few useful instincts, fewer recognizable sentiments, and no intellect: mental basket cases”

    And a link for those rare few who are so inclined.

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