WRY & DRY #26 of FY-24. No power irony. Nothing to see, here. Attention seeking behaviour.

Ten stories you may have missed

  1. Victoria: the irony of no power
  2. Bad behaviour 1: nothing to see here
  3. Attention seeking: the Trumpster
  4. Foreign Affairs: Albo speaks
  5. Victoria: business exit
  6. Bliss: Albo’s question time
  7. Bad behaviour 2: Australian cricketers
  8. Tax: bracket creep
  9. Succession: vulture circling
  10. Update: Trumpster and Ms. Swift

1. Victoria: the irony of no power

“It’s okay, the electricity blackout I can manage, I’ll cook dinner using gas. Hang on. We don’t have gas, the government banned it.”1

So, Victorian Readers should blame the stormy weather for eating a cold dinner by candlelight? Err, no.

Half a million homes were blacked out because of trees falling on overhead power lines. Good grief, when is someone to wake up and put these things underground, as is done in most other first-world countries?

The government’s excuse is rather like saying the hole in the ship will be temporarily fixed until we can afford the dry-dock. Trouble is, in Victoria, the government is continuing to launch ships with a hole below the waterline, so to speak.

The bigger issue is the six transmission towers that toppled over like dominos in windy conditions.

Irony #1: The same wind needed to drive the wind farm turbines blows over the transmission towers needed to carry the electricity.

Irony#2: Emeritus Chairman Dan’s No New Gas Appliances in Victoria edict came into effect on 1st January. Someone forgot to tell him that gas pipes don’t get blown over in the wind.

1 Comment recorded by Wry & Dry’s roving reporter, who had sought dinner in the home of blacked out colleague.

2. Bad behaviour 1: Nothing to see here

An Australian MP filmed writhing on the ground and swearing into, or at, his mobile phone made headlines in at least one UK tabloid. This is serious stuff.

It’s okay lads, this is normal for any former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia. Especially for Barnaby Joyce. Really, nothing to see, here.

Okay, he’d had a bit to drink. Well, quite a lot actually. And he is on medication, after all. And someone didn’t tell him not to mix the two. So, it’s not his fault. He cannot be expected to remember everything. After all, he is very busy person.

Let’s see, he is Shadow Minister for Veteran’s Affairs. That’s a very busy portfolio, requiring so much work.

And okay, he’s got form for being self-centred, egotistical, selfish, [insert your own adjective here]. Yes, of course, when one becomes a politician, especially a leader of a major political party, one surrenders certain rights. Such as being drunk in public, such as swearing in public, such as laying on the ground talking on or to a mobile phone, etc.

But Readers know that these rules don’t apply to Barnaby Joyce.

3. Attention seeking: the Trumpster

The Trumpster craves attention. His whole MAGA (Make America Great Again) slogan has nothing to do with making America great. It’s about making America think that he is great.

Readers will recall that his first term was all about him. No delegation. No allowing others to speak on his policies. Because he doesn’t have any. Other than anti-immigration, anti-Muslim, anti-abortion, anti-Ukraine. He makes them up as he goes along. It’s all about being feted around the world and being important.

So, Wry & Dry is happy to ignore his off-the-cuff comment where he encouraged Russia to attack NATO members that fail to meet defence spending targets (2% of GDP).

“You didn’t pay? You’re delinquent,” he thundered. “No, I would not protect you… You gotta pay. You gotta pay your bills.”

The reality is that most delinquent NATO countries are moving toward the 2% target, albeit slowly.

Another reality is that a defence-spending-as-a-GDP-percentage is a somewhat crude measure of defence capability. It takes no heed of actual military capability.

For example, the cost of the US prison on Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is part of US’ defence spending. As is the cost of breast-pumps for US service personnel.

4. Foreign Affairs: Albo speaks

In the optimistic hope that the PM of Israel will listen, Albo has warned him not to attack the city of Rafah, in Gaza. Wry & Dry is sure that Mr. Netanyahu will abandon everything he stands for. And will heed Albo’s call.

Of course, Albo might have spent the time consolidating Australia’s relationship with Indonesia and its just-elected president, Prabowo Subianto. After all, Indonesia is just a little bit closer to our shores, and a little bit more important than the Middle East. It’s Australia’s most strategic relationship – and it has a population of 280 million people.

Mr. Subianto is a shrewd operator, totally immersed in every aspect of political, err, relationships (he married Suharto’s daughter, and his presidential running-mate was the outgoing president’s son). He is smart and worldly. And not lacking in confidence or bombasticability. Like his predecessors, he will be a prickly nationalist and be slightly unpredictable.

All of this is why Albo should be devoting energy to Mr. Subianto and this region. And make it obvious that this is his priority. And not make virtue signalling comments that have no consequence.

5. Victoria: businesses exit

Older Readers will remember the shambles of the Cain/Kirner governments of the late 1980s and early 1990s. The decline in business confidence, massive debts, scandals such as the VEDC, Tricontinental bank, WorkCare were such that when the 1992 election came around the Labor party polling was 22%.

Fast forward to fiscal year 2023. Victoria was the only state to lose businesses: there was a net decrease of over 7,600 businesses.

[See cartoon in the lead article.]

“Err, why”, Wry & Dry hears Readers ask. Well, it’s about the cost of doing business. For example, electricity bills are 17% higher than the previous year (compared with 8% nationwide); gas prices up 31% (12%); payroll taxes have leapt; WorkCover premiums have jumped, etc.

But it’s all okay. New Premier Jacinta Allen has it all in hand. After all – her experience whilst working for business is extensive. Let’s see…

Interned for a federal MP whilst at university; then worked as a political staffer for two state MPs; then elected to state parliament, aged 25. And then, successively in government, Minister for: Public Transport; Transport and Infrastructure; Suburban Rail Loop; Commonwealth Games Delivery and now Premier.

Oops. Wry & Dry almost forgot. Whilst at university, she worked part-time as a grocery bagger at Coles. That’s it. That experience will prevent any more businesses in Victoria from closing.

6. Bliss: Albo’s question time

Albo ran his own question time on Wednesday (Valentine’s Day). He asked his partner (Jodie Haydon) for her hand in marriage. Happily, she agreed. Nice work, Albo.

Wry & Dry is a romantic himself, and wishes the happy couple well.

And he has his eye on the mailbox. For the wedding invitation.

7. Bad behaviour 2: Australian cricketers

Any child, suburban or country cricketer knows that a batsman cannot be dismissed unless there is an appeal. This is clear in Law 31.

They also know that there is no point in arguing with an umpire. Firstly, it’s bad sportsmanship and, secondly, he/she is not going to change his/her mind.

Earlier this week, Australia was playing West Indies in an abbreviated form of cricket. An Australian player clearly ran out a West Indian batsman. But no-one on the Australian team appealed. So, the umpire ruled not out.

But a number of Australian players wanted to argue, saying they had appealed. And kept on arguing.

So, number one: bad sportsmanship. And number two: the umpire didn’t change his mind.

And what was the action taken for the obvious dissent? Zero.

8. Tax: bracket creep

Albo the Invertebrate and Uncle Fester Dutton have exchanged nasty words recently over income tax; ‘bracket creep’ and that interesting concept of ‘fairness’.

Meanwhile, state premiers are hiding under their respective tables, fearful of having to justify their own states’ unwillingness to manage bracket creep on their own major source of revenue: stamp duty.2

The stupidity of stamp duty is widely known: it’s inefficient, prevents labour mobility, prevents home downsizing and reduces housing availability. But its continuation doesn’t cost votes, so there is no incentive to halt a revenue gravy train.

2 More accurately, stamp duty on the sale of residential property. Stamp duty is the fee that is paid to have a document ‘stamped’. Unless the document is stamped it has no legal standing. In yesteryear, the stamping was the placing of revenue stamps (similar to postage stamps) on the document. It is ‘duty’ as it charged on goods. ‘Tax’ is charged on people, companies and services. Well, mostly.

9. Succession: a vulture is circling

Most deputies lurking in the shadows wanting the top gig do their dirty work in the dark.

The news on Monday that US Vice-President said that she is “ready to serve”3 brings not only her ambition to the top of the agenda, but also her willingness to plunge into Sleepy Joe a poisoned, well-sharpened stiletto.

Kamala Harris was answering a reporter’s question of whether voters’ concerns about Sleepy Joe’s age meant she must convince them of her credentials. She said that everyone who sees her on the job “walks away fully aware of my capacity to lead.” Wry & Dry suggests that this is not going to help Sleepy Joe’s campaign.

But wait, there’s more. On Monday came news that 86% of Americans think that Sleepy Joe is too old to serve another term as President. Surely, it’s time to take the car keys from grandpa.

But wait there’s more. It’s no longer a case of being too old to be President. It’s about being too old to campaign. He last campaigned on-line in covid times. This time it’s a travelling show.

Oh, bring out the screen.

3 The Wall Street Journal, 12 February, 2024.

10. Update: Trumpster and Ms. Swift

Extending a week-long right-wing meltdown over Taylor Swift’s political preferences, the Trumpster declared on Sunday that it would be “disloyal” for Ms. Swift to endorse Sleepy Joe for re-election, given that he, the Trumpster signed legislation that made it easier for artists to collect royalties when their songs are streamed.

“I signed and was responsible for the Music Modernization Act for Taylor Swift and all other Musical Artists,” the Trumpster wrote on his social media platform, referring to a 2018 bill that passed Congress with near unanimous support.

He kept digging: “Joe Biden didn’t do anything for Taylor, and never will. There’s no way she could endorse Crooked Joe Biden, the worst and most corrupt President in the History of our Country, and be disloyal to the man who made her so much money.”

Err, hold the phone. The Trumpster only signed the bill. He was not ‘responsible’ for it. That rests with Neil Portnow, the President and CEO of the Recording Academy, who started lobbying Congress in 2014. Representative Bob Goodlatte and Senator Orrin Hatch drove the bill through Congress.


Snippets from all over

1. Tsar Vlad backs… Sleepy Joe

Vladimir Putin has said Joe Biden would be a better US president for Russia than Donald Trump and dismissed concerns over his counterpart’s age and acuity for the role. (Financial Times)

Wry & Dry comments: Why? Experience, predictability, he said.

2. Trumpster’s first trial date confirmed

Donald Trump will next month become the first former US president to face a criminal trial, after a New York state judge declined to dismiss or delay the “hush money” case brought against him over payments allegedly made to the porn actress Stormy Daniels in the lead-up to the 2016 election. (Financial Times)

Wry & Dry comments: “…that the defendant paid an individual $130,000 to conceal a sexual encounter in an effort to influence the 2016 presidential election and then falsified 34 business records to cover up the pay-off…”

3. So sad

A London theatre has said that it is “sorry and saddened” after a comedian ordered an Israeli man who did not stand and applaud a Palestinian flag during his show to “get the f*** out of here”. (The Times)

Wry & Dry comments: Melbourne doesn’t have a monopoly on anti-Semitism.

4. Tsar Vlad’s Ten-Year-Plan

Estonia warned that Russia is preparing for a war with NATO within the next decade. The country’s intelligence agency said that Russia intends to double the number of troops stationed along its borders with Finland, Estonia and Latvia. (The Economist)

Wry & Dry comments: Tsar Vlad continues to push. And will keep pushing unless he meets resistance.

5. British catastrophe

Britons are facing shortages of tea after supply problems linked to the disruption of shipping in the Red Sea. (UK Telegraph)

Wry & Dry comments: Problems with shipping of tea always cause problems for the Brits. Older Readers will remember the Boston Tea Party of 1773, one of the critical factors that caused the UK to lose what was then a small colony.


  1. Australia: unemployment rises to 4.1%, a two-year high.
  2. USA: inflation slowed to 3.1% year-on-year to end January.
  3. Japan: GDP fell for the second successive quarter, pushing it from 3rd largest economy. Germany is now #3.
  4. UK: GDP fell for the second successive quarter, defined as a ‘technical recession’.

And, to soothe your troubled mind…

“We couldn’t be more happy.”

  • Anthony Albanese, on the announcement of his engagement.

Quite right, too.


The comments in Wry & Dry do not necessarily reflect those of First Samuel, its Directors or Associates.


Anthony Starkins

Share this article