Seven stories you may have missed
- Look at it through Dan’s eyes
- Trumpster’s lawyers plan second ski lodges
- Superannuation funds fail
- Too little. Too late.
- $1.4 billion per kilometre. Really.
Look at it through Dan’s eyes…
Anthropologists believe there may be tribes living in the farthest reaches of New Guinea who have yet to hear that Chairman Dan has cancelled the state of Victoria holding the upcoming Commonwealth Games.
And missed the global dismay, fury, disappointment, bewilderment, and [Readers: insert your pejorative here]. Wry & Dry will not add to the column metres that have been printed.
Readers, however, have to look at this through Dan’s eyes. He needed to lock in regional votes before last year’s election. What better way to blend sport and money in such a state as Victoria than on global sporting events in regional Victoria? Brisvegas already had the Olympics, Sydney the FIFA Women’s World Cup, Hobart the AFL’s 19th team, etc. Let’s see, what’s left?
So it came to pass. The word was out: get the Games. This was one of those just-before-an-election promises that was planned, well-executed and mostly succeeded (although not in the Upper House), in swinging regional voters his way. Job done: Chairman Dan got the votes and the broader kudos.
So, having succeeded in hoaxing the voters, there was no need to keep the promise. And spend the dosh. The big issue was how to explain it all? Wry & Dry’s spies have accessed the below document from the bowels of the Victorian government’s records.
Games Cancellation Management Strategy for the Premier
- Timing. The morning of the fourth Test, the day before a most critical AFL round, and the day before the first game of the Women’s World Cup in Sydney. Neither federal nor state parliament will be sitting. Many Victorians will be escaping the harsh winter to go to warmer climes. It will all blow over, as have all past messy problems. Perfect.
- Excuse: money. State coffers impoverished/ fiscal blowouts/ money better spent elsewhere. Keep mentioning schools and hospitals. And voters don’t understand big numbers: $2.6 billion, $6 billion, $7 billion. Whatever. Just toss big numbers around. Perfect.
- Certainty: Use something like: “I’ve made…a lot of difficult decisions in this job. This is not one of them.” Strong. Decisive. Muscular. Perfect.
- Sub-text: anti-colonialism. Get the acolytes onto social media, write letters, etc, about the anachronism of the Commonwealth and the Commonwealth Games. Perfect.
- Compensation I – to the regions: Pledge to give $2 billion to the regions. Perfect.
- Visibility. Go to the regions and hold a media conference. Suggest Maryborough. It’s in the marginal seat of Ripon, narrowly won by the government in… 2022. Perfect.
- Compensation II – to the Games, etc: Delay, talk of “negotiations already underway”/ “too early to tell”/ “don’t want to prejudice,” etc. After all, with the cancellation of the East-West Link freeway, by the time the government had to pay $1.1 billion in compensation the whole matter had been forgotten. Perfect.
- Responsibility. Don’t take the blame. No-one was responsible for anything. If anything, blame the former Governor of the RBA (Dr Lowe) for inflation. Or Scott Morrison for ignoring regional Victorians. Perfect.
- Cadence. Use the Ritchie Benaud approach: “keep it up-vibe and interesting.” Perfect.
- Slogan. Repeat often: “It’s all cost and no benefit.”
Hang on. If “no benefit”, why did we bid in the first place?
Trumpster’s lawyers plan second ski lodge
News that the Trumpster is soon to be indicted over his role in attempts to overturn the result of the 2020 election has caused prices of ski lodges in Aspen to leap. His lawyers have buyer advocates already lined-up, as they themselves ready their pockets to be lined.
This will be his third indictment in as many months. His lawyers will, once again, seek to delay any charges being heard. It would be difficult for him to contest the primaries or run an election campaign whilst in the slammer. Imagine trying to run his policy-free blend of Nuremberg rally/ Rolling Stone concert campaign events using an avatar of himself.
It might fool many of the far-right-wing nutters, but not enough.
But if his lawyers could delay the hearings until after the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November 2024, then if he were elected president and then found guilty, he would, of course, pardon himself.
Superannuation funds fail
The lead item on the front page of Monday’s Financial Review could not be clearer:
“Super[annuation] funds are not being scrutinised as they build up huge portfolios of illiquid unlisted investment, putting Australians’ retirement savings at risk…”
So said the Financial Regulator Assessment Authority, the body that oversees financial regulators. The regulator in question is APRA.
The essential story is that the massive investments that large superannuation funds make in unlisted assets have underwritten their strong returns; however, the accuracy of the valuations of those assets is often questioned, especially in a period of rising interest rates.
So what? Wry & Dry hears Readers ask. The answer is that over-valuation of assets assists those who leave a fund or who are taking a pension. It disadvantages those who enter the fund, as they are buying at higher prices than might be the case.
The compound effect of this over the long-term is staggering.
APRA has responded by requiring superannuation funds to value their unlisted assets quarterly, or more often in times of market volatility.
Wry & Dry observes that the issue is not only the timing of valuations, but also their accuracy. Some funds have over 50% of their investments in unlisted securities. Rest assured, the smoke and mirrors will remain.
Swatch, a Swiss watchmaker, has had 172 of its LGBT-themed watches confiscated by the Malaysian police.
Homosexuality is a crime in Malaysia. The government seized the rainbow-coloured watches from several shopping malls across the country.
Nick Hayek, Swatch’s boss, asked if the authorities would also confiscate the “many natural rainbows” in Malaysia’s skies.
Too little, too late
Oh, how the negligence of the past causes headaches today.
Wry & Dry is writing, of course, about the fashionable former Foreign Affairs Minister, Julie Bishop. Ms. Bishop flew more miles than Neil Armstrong, but only to Paris, London or Washington. Where the shopping was great, the photographers ready and tasks not difficult.
Whilst flying to the US across the various Pacific Island nations from her seat with a view, 1A, she might not have seen the Solomon Islands1. At 10,000 metres, it’s as close as she got.2
Wry & Dry’s contention is that she did not spend enough time in, or understanding, the Pacific Islands, especially the Solomon Islands. Which left open the door for Emperor Eleven Jinping to provide, err, avuncular support when requested.
Some history: Solomon Islands is a messy country. Just consider that since 2000, the country has had 12 changes of Prime Minister (Australia has had eight). There is inter-island strife, racial strife (anti-Chinese) and in 2001 the economy collapsed and the government was bankrupt. Its current GDP per person is about $2,500 (Australia’s is about $65,000). Riots were common. In 2003 Australian and Pacific Islands police and troops arrived to keep the peace. In 2017, the umbrella organisation of the foreign peacekeepers left.
With such a basket case, the Australian government was happy to keep its distance, and toss in some cash when needed. Politicians kept away, especially those from the Morrison government.
Meanwhile, fed up with being ignored, or not getting enough dosh through the side door, in September 2019, PM Sogavare turned his coat from Taiwan to China. Rumours of the greasing of palms are, of course, untrue. Days later, in October, a company owned by the Chinese government leased an entire island, Tulagi, which has a natural deepwater harbour, from the government. The lease term is 75 years.
And in 2022, he signed a ‘security pact’ with Emperor Eleven Jinping.
And this week, the increasingly demented Mr. Sogavare accused Australia of withholding budget support ($12m). That sum, he was “delighted to announce”, will now be provided by China. Australia has actually already provided $40m this year.
He also accused Australia of “coercive influence”. This in response to Foreign Minister Wong’s comments following the leaking of a hitherto secret ‘policing implementation plan’ with China. Mr. Sogavare recently went to Beijing, as was feted by Emperor Eleven Jinping.
Perhaps the horse has bolted.
1 There would need to be a strong southerly wind to push the plane northerly from its great circle route.
2 Not quite. She visited the Solomon Islands, Samoa and Vanuatu in 2016.
Sporting Readers will have seen that tennis player Novak Djokovic was fined £6,117 for smashing his racquet against a net post in the men’s single final at Wimbledon.
The fine will be deducted from his runner-up cheque of £1,175,000. Which leaves him with £1,168,883.
Hmm. Perhaps the size of the fine is not an effective deterrent to misbehaviour.
$1.4 billion per kilometre. Really?
Some Readers have expressed concern at the cost of Melbourne’s
$35 billion $125 billion Suburban Rail Loop. Wry & Dry has taken the heroic step of comparing its costs to the recently completed Crossrail project in London.3
Crossrail has 21 kilometres of tunnels, whereas much of SRL is through tunnels. But Crossrail’s tunnels had to meander through decades-old legacy infrastructure.
But, really. Some $1.4 billion per kilometre? Over one billion dollars more per kilometre than Crossrail. And the digging has not yet started.
3 Now called the Elizabeth Line.
The gene pool became shallow
There’s nothing like having “Kennedy” as a name if you wish to enter US politics. Or exit US politics.
The name kept Teddy in daytime employment (Senator) and night-time entertainment (broadly defined) for 47 years.4 It also prevented Bobby, the best of the Kennedys, from getting elected to be President.5
And now a son of Bobby, Robert Jr, has put up his hand for the Democrat nomination, against Sleepy Joe. The world is wondering why. He is an environmental lawyer but very vocal public anti-vaxxer, who also promotes health-related conspiracy theories. But has zero experience in political life or public administration.
On Tuesday, he skilfully broadened his covid conspiracies. He claimed that covid may have been ‘ethnically targeted’ to harm whites and black but spare Jewish and Chinese people.
The idea of an ‘ethnically targeted’ virus would normally exist uniquely in the deformed minds of extreme right-wing Republicans. Perhaps Bobby Junior has mistakenly chosen the wrong party. Either way, his statistic of being the third Kennedy to exit a presidential race now looks certain.
4 Teddy: best known for the Chappaquiddick scandal, when a car he was driving crashed into a tidal inlet. A 28-year-old woman travelling with him was trapped under water. Teddy swam to shore and left the scene with the woman still trapped. He didn’t report the accident until the next morning and received a two-month suspended sentence for leaving the scene of an accident. The woman drowned. Teddy was re-elected as Senator. He failed to win the 1980 nomination against President Jimmy Carter. Carter went on to get sandbagged by Ronald Reagan.
5 Bobby: attorney-general for his brother, president John. He stood for the Democrat presidential nomination in 1968. With president Lyndon Johnson deciding not to run, Kennedy stood a good chance of beating vice-president Hubert Humphrey. He was assassinated halfway through the primaries. Humphrey won the nomination, but lost the election to Richard Nixon.
Failure of the language
The Trumpster’s fury at his upcoming indictment (see above) was crystalised, as usual, in a social media post: “A complete and total weaponization (sic) of law enforcement.”
Wry & Dry is not sure how an indictment is a weapon. Perhaps ‘politicalisation,’ at a push.
He did, of course, transmit his message entirely in upper case. Thereby confirming either he didn’t know the caps lock button was on; or that he thinks his readers will be more inclined to read it.
If the latter, someone should tell him that any graphic designer will also tell him that use of all caps in a sentence reduces its readability. If the former, if he does get again-elected then keep him away from the variety of buttons on his White House desk.
Especially the red one.
…Russia’s defence ministry said that all ships bound for Ukraine’s Black Sea ports would be considered “potential carriers of military cargo” starting at midnight last night. Thereby targeting ships going to pick up grain for export from Ukraine.
Earlier this week, Ukraine said that Russian missile strikes on ports in Odessa and Chornomorsk, both in southern Ukraine, had destroyed 60,000 tonnes of grain.
Weaponisation of food?
Snippets from all over
1. Tsar Vlad cut a deal
Richard Moore, the chief of [UK’s] MI6, said the Russian leader cut a deal with Prigozhin “to save his skin,” offering rare insights into the events surrounding the sudden end of Prigozhin’s march on Moscow. (New York Times)
Wry & Dry comments: A traitor at breakfast, pardoned by dinner and invited to tea a few days later.
2. No change
Russia’s upper house of parliament approves ban on gender changes. (Le Monde)
Wry & Dry comments: Lawmakers portray the measure as protecting Russia from “the Western anti-family ideology”.
Netflix Inc. forecast third-quarter revenue that fell short of Wall Street estimates, suggesting a crackdown on password sharing and a new advertising strategy aren’t yet delivering the sales growth analysts anticipated. (Bloomberg)
Wry & Dry comments: Netflix has 238.4 million subscribers, up 5.9 million from March.
4. Tsar Vlad needs more soldiers
Russia has increased the maximum age at which men can be mobilised to fight in Ukraine by up to ten years, raising the prospect of 70-year-olds being deployed to the front. (The Times).
Wry & Dry comments: Dad’s army. Or Grandad’s army?
5. Trees make way
Almost 16 million trees have been chopped down on publicly owned land in Scotland to make way for wind farms, an SNP minister had admitted amid a major drive to erect more turbines. (UK Telegraph)
Wry & Dry comments: No trees left to hug?
6. Electric truck competition hots up
Ford Motor led shares of electric-vehicle makers lower on Monday after announcing price cuts for its flagship electric pick-up truck, deepening the EV price war in the US. (Financial Times)
Wry & Dry comments: It’s all about competition. Tesla’s electric pick-up Cybertruck went into production on Monday. PS a ‘pick-up’ is a big ute.
- Australia’s unemployment rate held at 3.5% in June.
- UK inflation slowed to 7.9% in the year to June, down from 8.7%.
- China’s GDP grew at 6.3% in the year to June, well below estimates of 7.1%.
And, to soothe your troubled mind…
“Classic example of broken pork barrel promise.”
- Kylea Tink, Teal MP for the federal seat of North Sydney.
Pot calling kettle…?
PS The comments in Wry & Dry do not necessarily reflect those of First Samuel, its Directors or Associates.