Friday, 27 September 2013

What not to wear on Casual Fridays

It's been two weeks since the LNP took power, and already we are seeing slashes to education, science, arts, and all that is good in our country. Therefore, I think we need some lightness in our day. 

You will recall that I competed in the Young Lawyers Golden Gavel competition, where I was given a topic and 48 hours to prepare a stand-up routine. This year, my topic was... well, not shit. Below is an edited version of the routine I did. Enjoy!


MC: Some say, he has the sense of humour of an under-cooked pavlova, and that he thinks 'yo mama' jokes are the highest form of wit. 
Some say, he once finished a trial by making a pass at the judge... and has the wig to prove it. 
All we know is... he's Barnaby Grant!"

BHG: "I found it somewhat surprising that they asked me to talk to you about fashion. But then, I realised that they had done their research well. After all, my topic today is 'What NOT to wear.' 

If, after this presentation, you wish for more in-depth instruction on what NOT to wear, I invite you to have a look at my Facebook profile. The photos there should be quite instructional!

But there is one thing I think we can all agree on. Whether you have fashion sense, or are legally blind, we all know that Ugg Boots are the worst thing you can be caught wearing. Honestly, they are a crime against fashion and decency!

Ugg boots... not even once. 

Ok, but now for some more sensible advice. There is a long-held view that you should take your cue from your boss. If they are in a suit, you should probably at least be wearing a tie. If they are in board shorts, you should probably still be in pants. 

So I took this advice to heart at my first job. As casual Friday approached, I went and asked what the appropriate dress was, and what they would be wearing. My boss gave me a description, and I decided to dress to match. Things didn't go so well when I turned up in a skirt and heels. 

I therefore learned a valuable lesson from this. The parable SHOULD have been... "dress to match the highest ranked person of the same gender." This went well, until I started working at Christopher Legoe Chambers. [Explanation: google "Heather Stokes"]

But depending on the job, anything pretty much goes, unless A) it includes Ugg Boots, or B) it has ever appeared on the set of the Jersey Shore. 

Remember, 'Friends don't let friends wear ugg-boots.'
Who here has casual clothes days? Anyone? You? You fucking hippie wankers!  Seriously, you are such sheeple! Casual Fridays are a marketing and HR joke, designed to make you THINK you are getting a good deal at your workplace. Now, I would LOVE to have been a fly on the wall at the staff meeting when this was first considered. 

Boss: "Thanks for coming tonight. Look, I have identified an issue with productivity, professionalism, and staff morale. I think I have found a solution though!"
Staffer: "Oh, oh, are you going to pay us more? Raise our salaries above minimum wage?"
Boss: "What? No, fuck that. I'm letting you wear jeans on Fridays!"
Staffer: "So, what, are you  going to make us more professional by letting us wear whatever we want?"
Boss: "Don't be ridiculous. If you aren't dressed appropriately, I'm still firing you."

Seriously, that is totally going to improve morale, you cheap bastard. 

Unfortunately, this reflects a trend in today's society, where it is becoming closer and closer to being acceptable to wear ugg boots. 

I think we can all agree though that Casual Fridays were invented by men, for men. Seriously. Women get to wear whatever they want, any day of the week! But men, we have to dress in exactly the same clothes, day after day. The biggest excitement in the average man's wardrobe is a Star-Wars tie he got for Christmas last year. 

Mind you, if women wanted to lower the necklines, raise the hems, and take a few liberties, I don't think there would be much complaining! So long as they weren't wearing ugg boots. That would just be wrong.

Since we are [were] in the middle of an election, I thought I would take a political angle. Let's look at our candidates. 

Tony Abbott is the paragon of what you shouldn't wear on Casual Fridays. Or ever. Not a week goes by without a new picture of him splashed across the papers wearing speedos, pink boardshorts, or head-to-toe lycra! Please, don't do lycra. Nearly as bad as ugg boots. 

Which leads to the stream-crossing horror of ugg-boots and lycra. Now that is an image you won't get out of your head!

Another lesson from Tony Abbott is never to wear anything with 'sex appeal' unless you want to be hit on by the most appalling 'dad jokes.'

Tony: "Hey Fiona, what has 100 balls and screws old women?"
Fiona: "Sigh. I don't know Tony, what?"
Tony: "Bingo! Ahahaha. Ha. Heh. Hmm.  

Thanks for your exuberance Tony. I wonder if that is an acceptable time to wear Ugg Boots?  Just on a side note, I just heard from James Ashby, who tells me that the Ugg Boot trick didn't stop Mr Slipper!

On the other hand, Ladies, you should never wear anything around KRudd that makes you look remotely like a flight attendant!

But since this battle between TinTin and Titan seems to have caused the nation to subside into a fit of apathy, I thought I should tackle the really big issues. Yes, who has the best policy on TURNING BACK THE UGG BOATS?

I'm voting for Tony Abbott, because he has a six-point plan for turning back the Ugg Boats. No one knows that those points are, but we can be sure it will involve the word 'No' at least 600 times. 

Kevin Rudd tells us that he has a regional solution for turning back the Ugg Boats, but I don't think we can trust him. After all, the man posts photos of twitter of him cutting himself shaving! I don't think we can trust the man to take a hard line on ugg-boots! 

I'm going to take a quick break from my topic to talk about Stephanie Bannister. After all, who wants to oppose the nation of Islam as a country? At least she doesn't have anything against Jews, who "aren't under harrum, they have their own religion that follows Jesus Christ." She also doesnt' like the government remaining at a 5-star budget, when economy is just as good!

Maybe she wears ugg boots. 

But I want to give you one final rule about Casual Fridays, which comes from Peter Dowling. Whether you wear thongs, (footwear or otherwise), jeans, skirts, or ugg boots, I think we can all agree that whatever you wear, you shouldn't be caught wearing a glass of wine on your dick. 

Thank you.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

First impact of Court cost-cutting measures

First, please read this link from (sadly) Adelaide Now. This article first appeared in the Advertiser on 25 September 2013.

As you know, the Court system has been squeezed by budget cuts from all directions.

Magistrate D Whittle SM, the regional manager for the Port Pirie area, told us last month that he was struggling not to cut sitting days at Port Pirie, after a directive to cut the costs of the circuit. Currently, the Court sits for approximately 22 weeks/year at Port Pirie, for 5 days.


Mr Whittle's solution was to make Friday Pre-Trial Conferences occur by video link from Port Adelaide Magistrates Court, which reduced the costs of accomodation for a Magistrate and his staff. Secondly, he changed the Monday sittings (first appearances) to AVL as well, cutting another night from the circuit.

Unfortunately, whilst AVL is now of very high quality, it results in delays whilst matters are called on, and miscommunications between Courtrooms. Also, defendants who are being sentenced have a right to be sentenced in person; the Act specifies that a defendant must be present in Court if he is to be sentenced to a period of imprisonment.

There is a significant detriment to country practitioners, as well. Ending in late 2012, it was common for the Legal Profession in the surrounding areas and the Prosecution Unit to meet with the Magistrate socially after

Monday, 23 September 2013

Ride to Conquer Cancer update

Wow, 40% of the way there! Thanks heaps to everyone who has donated so far!

A big reminder; the fundraising dinner is this Saturday at the Flinders Rest Hotel in Warnertown. Please let me know if you can make it, so I can get the booking numbers right! Phone me on 0449 520 222 to reserve your seats!

I may have a spot on ABC local radio in the next few days; they have suggested a call in the breakfast spot to promote the event, and are going to discuss it this week!

Finally, I spent the weekend in Adelaide, and I had the entirety of Sunday free, so I set my self an ambitious goal; cycle to the highest and lowest point in Adelaide in one go. I didn't quite make it; I got to Mount Lofty, then down to Glenelg, but I didn't quite make it back home to make the whole trip count. (I stopped and had lunch first!)

You can see my rides on Strava, (Link here) or check out the picture below, showing my route. Just one quick note; the section from Belair to Crafers was the single hardest hill I have ever climbed. Upper Sturt Road is the devil.

Thanks for all your support, and keep it up! (www.tinyurl.com/RTCC-BarnabyGrant)

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Windfarms going the way of mobile phone towers

You could be forgiven for thinking that I have an axe to grind on the topic of windfarms. I think this is the third post I have made about them, mostly in response to websites like www.stopthesethings.com.


(My new favorite post is this one:
"Secret report on wind farms to reveal turbines have slashed ‘billions’ from the value of rural homes The Daily Mail 23 August 2013 Wind farms have slashed ‘billions’ from the value of rural homes, a secret Government report is expected to disclose. " 
Read: "Secret Report," "expected to disclose" and the best of it. "The Daily Mail.")

So you can imagine my satisfaction to read this article on InDaily (S Chapman, "Money: the 'cure' for wind turbine syndrome", InDaily, 18 September 2013). Its conclusion was that in the late 90s, there were huge fears about mobile phone towers causing harm to humans. Welp, you can see that all the mobile towers were cut down, and their land sewn with salt... oh wait, no.

Which brings me back to grinding axes, and conspiracies. Ok, I just brought that up, but have a look at the 'stopthesethings' site.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Why An Abbott Election Victory Would Be Good

Rule 1: Read this article:

http://www.thevine.com.au/life/news/why-an-abbott-election-victory-would-be-good-20130905-264996/

Rule 2: Read it again.

(Text copied shamelessly from the above article, written by Andrew P Street and posted on thevine.com.au this morning. 


Dear Fellow Left Wing People,
First up: yes, I know. I feel it too. That desperate confusion, that disappointment, that anger. We're not a small-minded, petty, terrified people… are we? Really?  At a time when we have the planet’s most robust economy we're going to ignore the fact and sniffily proclaim that we want more, all the while refusing to help desperate people – in comparatively tiny amounts, by international standards – who are so in love with the idea of Australia/not being persecuted that they risk their lives in the hope of enjoying freedoms that most of us take for granted, and some of us actively resent. Voting? That's a Saturday morning pissed away. Thank you very much, democracy.
But when I think of an Abbott victory, I think the following:
Good.
Not good because he’ll be a great leader – we’re about to get our own George W Bush, a man who can’t open his mouth without providing the world with a new malapropism and who is prepared to destroy his country rather than entertain the possibility that his political and economic philosophy is flawed, not to say straight-up mistaken.
Not good because it will be a positive time for anyone who's not a mining magnate or a media baron. If you’re not wealthy, you’re in for a difficult few years – and if you like things like education, healthcare, environmental protection, workers rights, refugee rights, gender equality or any of that kind of thing, you’re going be getting angrier and angrier.
And that’s what’s good. That’s what we need. 
Think about it. Even if Rudd sneaks in on Saturday via some mathematically-improbable fluke, what’s the likely scenario? 
We'll get three years of Labor desperately trying to keep the middle ground – no shift on asylum policy, probably some destructive efforts to get an entirely-symbolic budget surplus – with a probably uncooperative Senate and a stronger opposition leader – my money's on Joe Hockey – with the weight of the Murdoch press behind them hammering home the message that everything would have been better if you’d just voted a Coalition government in. Rudd will be an ineffectual leader in an even weaker position than Gillard was in, there'll be another election, a Libslide, and we will welcome another Howard-esque conservative dynasty. 
But if Abbott wins?
We already know he can’t open his mouth without saying the exact wrong thing. We already know that he’s terrible on policy, can’t think on his feet and dodges responsibility. At the moment he can largely get away with blaming the government; once he’s Prime Minister, that’s not an option anymore. He will look like what he is: a man of narrow views and narrower knowledge woefully out of his depth.
And look at the Abbott front bench: it's a viper’s nest. They’re not supporting Abbott because they think he’s an inspiring leader, since he’s demonstrated comprehensively that he’s not: they've backed him because the greatest strength they have had against Labor over the last 18 months has been in presenting a united front. 
Once they’re in power this bunch of smart, ambitious and shrewd politicians are going to be a lot less forgiving of a leader who's an obvious and embarrassing liability. Hockey isn’t going to fade back into the benches. Neither is Turnbull. Neither is Bishop. Neither is Morrison. Those squabbles have been sublimated for the time being because they had a common enemy: Labor. Once in power, they’ll have a different common enemy: each other. 
Abbott will also almost certainly face a hostile Senate, with Greens and most of the sitting independents already indicating an unwillingness to pass many of his tentpole promises. He's already implied that he'll ask for a double dissolution if his agenda is not passed, which means that Labor, the Greens and the minor parties now have a chance to buy themselves another year of campaigning ahead of another election. Don't worry about winning on Saturday, hopefuls: worry about winning after the Libs implode a bit down the track.
If there's a double dissolution we will see an ineffective leader throwing a tantrum, and the Australian public are not going to thank him for calling us all back to another Saturday at the polls before we absolutely have to (and incidentally, it's easier for a Senator to get up in a DD scenario as the quotas are halved. Want to get more independents and small parties clogging up your upper house? Call a double dissolution).
Meanwhile Labor in opposition will be stripped back to the MPs and Senators who’ve kept the faith of their electorates. The embarrassments and the dead wood that have made the last two years so difficult for the party will be gone. And those that are likely to survive – Anthony Albanese, Penny Wong et al – are no fools.
So what do we do for the next three years? We fight. We hold on to every asinine headline in the Murdoch press this week, and we use it as a stick to beat them with when the Coalition fail to deliver. We stop bitching on Twitter and start campaigning for the progressive causes we support (hell, it's an early summer, the weather's lovely for marching). We give Labor an incentive to move back to the left, because there are enough of us to be worth listening to.
But most importantly, as those depressing numbers come in on Saturday night, we remember that there is one great final secret about the Left, and it is this: in the long run, we always win
Change never comes as quickly as we want it to, and it's often in a frustrating two-steps-forward-one-step-back waltz rather than a decisive sprint, but look at the Australia of 2013 compared with ten years back. Or twenty years back. Or forty. There are always new battles to fight, and specific issues like asylum seeker policy or workplace rights or interventions in remote indigenous communities have seen some humiliating retreats in recent times, but eventually things progress. 
The Coalition wasn't at all interested in carbon schemes or marriage equality under Howard; now they know that they have to at least acknowledge these issues, if only to stall movement on them – and stalling only works for so long. These changes are often slow and incremental so we can be forgiven for not noticing at the time, but when you look at the bigger picture it's clear: Australia progresses. Consensus takes time but ultimately we're going to win. We always do. 
But in the short term we need to stop being lazy, we need to stop being complacent, and we need to start working together. Hell, I'm more guilty than most in thinking a snarky Facebook status or a punchy tweet has fulfilled my community obligations: I need to lift my game, and so do you. It'll be easier if we all do it together, and then we can totally get a drink afterwards. I'll get the first round in.
And that is why I look at the forthcoming Abbott government as an emetic: it will make us feel incredibly sick, absolutely, but that’s how we vomit the poison out. 
Your comrade,
Andrew P Street

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

My take on the asylum-seeker debate

Unlike many political issues this election, I believe the asylum seeker issue has actually seen meaningful debate. Various different solutions have been discussed, albeit from a political standpoint.

I say this only to differentiate from issues like gay marriage, which have been the subject of much talk, but no meaningful debate. Beyond that, I can't say that the asylum seeker debate has been effective or unbiased.

I am not going to discuss the demonisation of 'boat people' in mainstream Australian media. I don't need to. I am not going to discuss how dangerous it is for people to be travelling to Australia by boat, and I don't think it is worth arguing that we should be trying to stop people from making this perilous journey.

I am going to discuss what we should be doing to save lives, and increase the quality of life for millions of refugees around the world.

Underlying issues:
This morning, it was reported that approximately 67 people were killed in Baghdad, in a wave of 'coordinated bombings.' (ABC News article here)

It is becoming clearer that the Assad regime has been using chemical weapons against the rebels in Syria, which has been suffering unrest for some time.

The Egyptian situation is rapidly devolving into another civil war.

These are just the headline issues; there are also the ongoing tragedies in the Gaza area, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and much of North- and South Africa. These conflicts have displaced an estimated 42.5 million people, both internally and externally (as estimated by the UNHCR at the end of 2011).

Monday, 2 September 2013

Ride to Conquer Cancer training update

The last few weeks has been abysmal in terms of time on the bike. I had it serviced in Adelaide three weeks ago, but then it rained for the entire weekend. Although I am very eager to get out there, I am not yet a fan of climbing hills in the rain. Worse, descending them.

The following weekend I was engaged with training for the SES. (I am now an accredited, trained member of the rescue team! Woo, go me!). I also kinda came down with a bug that kept me home on Monday.

Finally, last weekend, I managed to find time to get out on the bike, and what a day it was! Saturday was about the perfect weather for cycling. Mid-20s, clear skies, and hardly any wind. I got out there, bright and early at 8.00am,...


and came down with a leg cramp. Bother.

10k's later, I realised that I wasn't going to be able to keep up with the bunch, and went home. About the only benefit was that I learned a new style of cycling... one-legged cycling!

Yesterday was my last chance, and I made the most of it. Although my leg was still giving me grief, I managed to get 50k's out before I ran out of steam.

Perhaps not where I wanted to be, but given I am still sick, haven't been training, and ran out of water half-way through, I am pretty happy! Now, to find some hills and climb them!

Please remember to donate! Link below!

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Ride to Conquer Cancer Update

For those who don't know, I have signed up to the Ride to Conquer Cancer, which is raising funds for the Flinders Medical Centre Foundation. I have committed to riding over 200km over two days, to raise at least $2,500 towards essential cancer research and treatment.

The link to my fundraising page is www.tinyurl.com/RTCC-BarnabyGrant

Both my mother's mother, and my father's father have died from cancer. My Granny died after nearly two years of battling lung cancer, which spread to her bones. I was seven years old when she died.

My Grandpa in Canada died just before I turned 10, also of lung cancer, although he had previously battled throat and kidney cancer when I was about three years old. After suffering terribly through his first bouts of cancer, he chose not to be treated when it returned, and died within a few months of his diagnosis.

We all know people whose lives have been touched by cancer, whether directly, or through their family.

The money I am raising goes directly towards cancer treatment and research. Hopefully these funds can help in finding a way to alleviate the suffering caused by this disease.

Fundraising and Training
So, on to the training and fundraising update! Well, training is pretty much stalled. I fell sick last weekend, and I was in Adelaide last weekend, so I didn't get to go on any long rides. Ironically, I spent about $350 getting my bike serviced, including new chain, brakes, and cogs, but I haven't been able to ride it in the two weeks since!

The weather has also not cooperated. The time I had set aside two weeks ago was rained out, and it isn't yet light enough at night to go for rides after work. Oh well, this weekend should see me smashing out the kms.

Fundraising is ramping up. The fundraising dinner and auction on the 28th of September is drawing closer, and the prizes and auction items are beginning to arrive. I have received generous donations from Tim Gramp Wines, Bundaleer Wines, and lots of other fine, local wineries, as well as from lots of local businesses, stores, and people. The evening is looking like being a wonderful night. If you are in the Port Pirie area around the 28th of September, please contact me for a ticket! $65, including a two-course meal and cheese platter, plus a roaring fire.

I'll post more once I can boast more kilometers!

So ends the Essendon Saga, but was it a cop-out?

Dear Gods of Football,

May my home-team win, may my rivals falter, and may we never hear the words 'James Hird' again.

Last night's announcement from the AFL caps off a months-long saga around the Essendon Football Club, culminating with large fines, and their coach being banned for 12 months. As a non-football player who doesn't watch the AFL at all, I am thrilled that I won't hear about this again. Asides from the inevitable whinging and commiserating that will take place over the next few days, this should be the end of it.

Can I get an 'Amen?' Honestly, this saga has just gone on too long, with no new content in the news. Speculation has been rife, and there have been nearly daily comments from the club, the AFL, or from observers, which somehow found their way into our newsrooms as 'newsworthy!'

You can read the story (if you care) Here, here, and here. (Caution: all three have auto-playing videos.)

Was the penalty a 'cop-out'?
I don't really care what penalties are handed down. The club can afford to pay just about anything, and Hird won't be paying his fines anyway.

My main concern is, of all things, premiership points. Why? Because.

My team has no chance of finals, although there was at some point a mathematical possibility that we could get in, requiring us to win by 60 points, another team to lose by 83 points, Essendon to lose all premiership points, and other games to go in our favour. Yeah right.

I listened to Andrew Demetriou on Radio National this morning, as he explained why the Bombers hadn't been stripped of their premiership points. Again, not that I care, but it seemed to me to be a cop-out. He explained that it was the simplest thing to do, because Essendon weren't contesting the finals, and it would be too hard to take the points away.

Really?

In this modern, technological day and age, it is too hard to fiddle some numbers to make the little box under 'Points' display a big fat zero?

He explained that it was too hard to decide what to do with the points. Should they redistribute them? Should they turn each 'win' into a 'loss' and give the points to the teams that lost? What about percentages? It was just the simplest thing to do not to touch the points. Path of least resistance.

Given that Essendon weren't in the finals, no one cares, but imagine if they had been sitting in 8th, or even 4th. that sort of question would have to have been answered, and teams below them would have been clamoring for the points. Imagine if number 9 had lost to the bombers twice, and number 8, only 4 points above, had beaten them both times. The whole game could have changed!

And, on that unresolved note, we pray that this ends the saga, and the name 'Hird' never crosses my door again.

Amen.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Back in the blogging seat!

So it's been a while since I found time to blog, and a few things have happened. I started training and fundraising for an epic 2-day ride called the Ride to Conquer Cancer (link here), and I have become the secretary of the newly-formed Port Pirie Triathlon Club, called the Pirie Ranges Tri Club.

In other news, my keyboard has been abused by about 30,000 words typed since my last post, and it is beginning to drive me crazy. Time for a replacement, I think, and I beg you not to make any dirty jokes.

My noise complaint about the dentist next door has been ramped up, and the EPA has become involved.

Finally, the annual Young Lawyers Golden Gavel competition has rolled round again, and I have signed up to compete once again! This year, at least, I have a far greater political knowledge, and will be able to make snarky comments about our illustrious leaders!

Which leads me on to today's topic; the election. What a fizzer.

The Great 'Debate':
The first debate was held last night, and I want to highlight two comments which appeared in my newsfeed yesterday, shortly after the end of the debate. The first was from an old tutor of mine from politics at Adelaide Uni, and stated as follows:

"Abbott talked a lot about what he 'believed' but had no specific policies to address the most pressing issues for Australia into the future. Rudd outlined clear policies in relation to the economy, health care and the NBN. Bias aside, I think the latter was the clear winner of that debate."

Two posts later, this appeared from another friend of mine, with whom I have had some great arguments/debates about the left/right political scene. "Abbott is the clear winner of tonight's debate."

He then justified his views, but I disagree with his justifications. To paraphrase, 'relied too heavily on NBN, failed to answer questions on how he was planning to get out of the budget deficit given that we do need to spend, failed to answer which projects would be cut or which taxes would be increased... he also broke the rules on having notes. Abbott was at ease throughout the whole debate, Rudd needs public speaking lessons.'

I didn't watch the whole debate. I started watching, and got so pissed of with both of them that I turned it off, which for me, epitomises the entirety of this election. As one person commented, "I didnt watch the debate. I like to think I won".

And that is absolutely right! I didn't watch the debate because I couldn't stand watching an arrogant, jealous, small-minded oaf pretending to answer questions whilst instead spouting party lines and slogans, while a similarly arrogant, bigoted, small-minded oaf smirked and sneered. I don't care which way around you put it, either. Both of our leaders are too concerned with news-bites, grabs, and slogans to have any real knowledge of the policies. "What do I say if they ask this question?" "Who cares, just spout 'spend spend spend!'

I don't trust either candidate, and that is taking into account my left-leaning bias. I am moving away from any pretense at supporting Labor, but not because of the Coalition's policies (what are they again?), but because of Labor's ineptitude, in-fighting, and media dependence.

Slogans:
The worst part of this election for me is that slogans are becoming the policies, rather than the advertising. Abbott's primary policy is to criticise, and his slogans are all 'spend spend spend,' 'stop the boats,' and 'six-point plan.' We saw from Diaz's disastrous TV interview that the Libs are spending too much time teaching their candidates media avoidance and slogan chanting, and not enough time educating them on the content of the policies. Forget the fact that he was a new politician, he just didn't know the policies!

And then there is Rudd, who forgot, in one interview, the name of the Coalition candidate, AND the name of the electorate he was in!

Rudd's slogans are a bit more broad, but similarly devoid of content. "Regional solution", for example, or 'I think what Australians want is...' and 'Moving Forward!'

It is going to take a lot to re-engage me with either political party. I will never vote for the Libs, because of a long-standing bias, but until Labor gets its act together and puts up a leader who is inspiring, smart, and not dependent on the media, I will never vote for them either.

Bring on the independents!

Monday, 1 July 2013

Why this year's Tour de France will be the best Tour in two years.

Ok, not much of a title, but this Tour is already shaping up to be the best Tour since Cadel won in 2011.

Fine, my point is that last year's Tour sucked, and this one is going to rock.

First of all, this year it is apparent that there are more than one team who are in the running to put a rider up in the GC classification. BMC has Cadel, who is looking to be the oldest winner ever, Radioshack with Andy Schleck, Jens Voigt, Andrea Kloden, and the surprising Jan Bakelants. Orica Greenedge, sporting the indomitable Stuart O'Grady with his record 17 starts. Movistar with Alejandro Valverde. The big names keep running. Alberto Contador, Thibaut Pinot, Ryder Hesjedal, and my favorite rider, Thomas Voeckler. There are also a number of younger riders who are going to be challenging for the top spots. Tejay Van Garderen, Thibaut Pinot (again), Van Poppel. At the moment, they are all equal on time, but that will change in the next few days.

Team Sky Procycling look intimidating, and Christopher Froome is always going to be a hot favorite, but unlike last year, it doesn't look like they will be able to win by being defensive.

Last year's Tour was boring. Bradley Wiggins knew that he could beat all comers on the individual time trials, and there were a three different individual time trial stages. He knew that he could keep up with just about anyone in the mountains, and his whole team was built to support him there. All he needed to do was stay with any breakaways containing GC contenders, such as Evans, Nibali, Van Den Broek and Van Garderen, and forget about the rest. Any breakaway that didn't contain one of these was allowed to escape, and the peloton kept to a sedate, safe speed. The only excitement came near the sprints, which the leaders simply raced in to stay safe, and not to make any time.


Notably, Team Sky did not make a single attempt at a serious breakaway. Even in the hills, when Wiggins should have been able to leave most of the peloton behind, the only time he was ever in a breakaway was when the ill Cadel Evans tried to start something. Wiggins and Team Sky would calmly chase down the lead, and drag the race back into the boring malaise of covering 200km on a bike. Kate Smart from 'Roar' called it a race that 'lacked excitement and Bradley Wiggins' win was a lesson in cycling boredom.'

The highlights of the 2012 tour were few and far between. On the positive side, Tommy Voeckler's heroic efforts over the mountains, complete with signature un-zipped jersey secured him the polkadot jersey, and no one could say he didn't earn it. On the negative side, Peter Sagan's histrionics when out-maneuvered by Matty Goss at least allowed me to feel better about red lights.

So why is this year's better? Well, for a start, we are having stages won by no-names, whose wins come from pure grit, not an infallible plan. We are seeing breakaways who actually achieve something, rather than just keeping the GC contenders leashed. And, after two days of racing, there is no one with a clear advantage. Also, the biggest names are a little better spread amongst the teams. Last year, Wiggins, Froome and Cavendish were all riding for Sky, and that meant that all the attention was on one team. Now, Cavendish has crossed to Omega Pharma-Quick Step, and leaving Froome the biggest name left in Sky.

In the sprint category, it looks like Sagan will be the real danger, but Cavendish, Kristof, Boom, Goss and Boassen Hagen could all challenge under the right conditions. The climbers are yet to be tested, and it is too early to tell with the teams.

I might be speaking too soon, but who knows, this could shape up to be the best tour in years. If Evans gets a look in, it could be the best Tour ever. Or Sky could drag it back into the boredom of last year, and I will have to find a new hobby.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

"Thank you for your time"

I just saw a client for 20 minutes, gave him some advice, and at the end, as he was walking out, he said "Thanks for your time."

I was blown away. Especially for Legal Aid clients, I very rarely get any recognition for the work that I do, so when a client just comes out with that...

It really makes you feel good about the work that you do.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

The Wind Power Scam; how wind turbines will one day kill us all.

I was sent a link to this site called 'Stop These Things' which is advocating against Wind Farms. Specifically, an article titled 'The Great Watt and Pole Swindle', featuring a photo of a man who looks alarmingly like Vyvyan Basterd from 'The Young Ones.' 

This particular article appears to be ranting about how much the wind power industry is costing Australian consumers, specifically because recently there was no wind, and the wind farms were not producing any electricity. Therefore, power had to be provided from other sources, which came at a large cost.


The underlying message, however, was that because of this, wind power was evil, and was a tool of the 'Croweaters' and the power prices 'cartel'. 

This article isn't about the merits of wind power, or the dangers of living too close to a turbine, because, frankly, I just don't know enough about wind turbines to argue either way. My current view is that it is, like many other things, a wonderful alternative source of power, but one that needs to be used in conjunction with more reliable sources, like fossil fuels, tides, or solar. 

This article is about the rhetoric that is routinely used to sell these arguments. 

Monday, 27 May 2013

Why the Australian Family Law System is Broken

Perhaps a little bit extreme, however I do think that there are a number of gaping holes in our Family Law system, sufficient to swallow planets.

Ok, to start with, Family Law is complex. Incredibly complex. There is NEVER an identical case, and although the outcomes can be fairly predictable, other times they can come right out of left field.

This leads to a requirement that a person is represented. Legally, you can represent yourself, but the Courts dislike it, because if matters proceed to trial, you end up with ex-partners cross examining each other. You can just imagine how that would work, especially where there have been allegations of serious abuse.

As a result, the Court prefers (and encourages) litigants to be represented.

As a family lawyer, I spend hours upon hours drafting documents and affidavits. Trying to put together an affidavit in support of a Relocation Application is involving digging through two years of affidavits, picking out events relevant to domestic violence, abuse, harassment, mental health, the relationship between the parties and the children etc.

This makes the system expensive. If I wasn't acting for my client on the basis of a grant of legal aid, I would have just racked up about $600, just for typing a complex affidavit. (Cost according to Supreme Court Scale is currently $29.32 per 1/4 page, times 8 pages..., plus GST...)

It also makes the system slow. Drafting those affidavits takes me time, but worse, it takes the Court time to read it! (It's why drafting concise documents is a skill worth learning).

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Free Legal Advice for Idiots

We just received a phone call from someone who was filling out a Legal Aid form. They wanted to know what a 'Financially Associated Person' was.

Looking past the fact that the second page of the application form describes exactly what a 'financially associated person' is, this client can be commended for asking for help, rather than leaving it blank.

But what he has just done is called a lawyer to help her fill in a form. If he was paying privately, that could have cost him up to $50.00, just for a quick question that he could have worked out by reading the form!

Is this what is wrong with the justice system?

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Work for the Dole and the impact on industry

As a solicitor doing a lot of Legal Aid work, most of my clients are in receipt of Centrelink. Many of them are on parenting payments, but many of them are in receipt of NewStart, or the Disability Support Pension.

For those people on Newstart payments, I acknowledge that there are many barriers to employment, including lack of skills. In Australia, we have a safety net which enables people in that situation to survive, even if that 'survival' is merely subsisting on the bottom level of society.

One of the roles of Government is to attempt to re-engage these people in society by sourcing remunerative employment for them. There are lots of private- and public sector organisations which assist people to obtain employment, but many of them are simply not capable of obtaining a job due to complete lack of skills.

There is a program available through the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations called 'Work for the Dole'. This is a voluntary program, and the stated intention is to "provide you with opportunities to build skills and gain experience through activities which benefit local communities across Australia." If you are local to Adelaide, you will remember the bone-jarring trips up King William Street south of the parklands, which was paved with bricks during a Work for the Dole program. I cant help thinking it could have been done with a lot less labour if it was sealed normally, but I guess when you are employing people for free, you don't need to worry about paying for man-hours!

The website states that "Work for the Dole activities are available with not-for-profit organisations, or with local, state, territory or Australian Government agencies."

I wonder if these programs could be expanded to allow more people to enter the work-force and engage in skill-building activities.

The Federal and State governments spend billions of dollars each year on construction projects across the country. Much of it is outsourced to private companies, who bid for the contract to perform the work. Those companies employ highly skilled labourers (or less-skilled labourers) to do the work, and this area of industry accounts for a significant portion of the total industry.

But what if our governments, instead of paying private companies to source the labour, sourced the labour itself?

You have a massive pool of unemployed people with no real work skills. The government is already paying them $400/fortnight, just to sit around and 'look for work.' For a small increase (say 50%), you could have them gainfully employed, which saves the cost of paying other workers.

I would propose a graded scale of increases to welfare payments based on continuing training, and hours worked. So a person could walk off the street and into 'basic training', where they would learn the basic skills needed to mix concrete, lay bricks, or shovel manure.

As their experience increased, they could be offered increasing training to be able to perform more complex tasks, until they are, in effect, a skilled labourer.

As that person up-skills, their welfare benefits could increase also, BUT not so much as to compete with private companies. Once that person has reached a certain training level, they will be an attractive worker for private businesses, but not being paid as much. A private business could then hire them directly, simply by offering a higher (IE award) wage.

The money for the training could be saved by not needing to pay contractors to do the work at market rates.

One down-side to this is that this work-force detracts from a similar private industry. It could be seen to compete with private businesses, especially for other government contracts.

I do, however, see a radical expansion of these programs in the not-for-profit sector (including government sector).

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Government cuts baby bonus... FINALLY!

[DISCLAIMER: I fully support people who want children having children. I know people, both in relationships and single, whose biggest delight is their child or children. I know people who have considered the issue, and made a decision, and been blessed with a squalling, pooping, bundle of love. What I DON'T support is people having children because of the baby bonus.]

When Howard first introduced the 'Baby Bonus', I was shocked. Imagine, paying people to have children! Too many people don't need any encouragement to do that!

I thought that the policy was horrifically irresponsible. For one thing, I don't believe in a 'Bigger Australia.' Sure, the economy has to grow, but it doesn't have to grow by being fueled by population booms! This nation, this planet, doesn't need higher populations!

Children having Children:
Secondly, I thought that it was irresponsible because of the target audience. $2,000 (later raised to $3,000, then $4,000, then indexed to inflation, as of January 2012, $5,437.) is a very attractive sum, especially when paid as a lump sum. For a person who has been working for five years, $5,000 doesn't seem like a huge amount, but for a person who has never worked, or is just coming into the workforce, that is a massive amount.

I am talking, of course, about children and young people. For 16- and 17-year-olds who have just left school, what could be easier than having a child to earn $5,000? You even get to have sex to make it happen! (What does sex for money remind me of???)

Even after the payment was divided into fortnightly sums, I still felt that it was an irresponsible policy, promoting young people to have children by the promise of easy, quick cash. First time parents, especially, would have no idea of the true costs of raising a child. What happens when the baby bonus runs out?

To add to that, once the baby-bonus was finished, those young people would most likely then be eligible for Parenting Payments through Centrelink. So instead of having people finishing school and looking for further education or work, you have a generation of young people who have had the opportunity to skip working, and go straight onto the welfare system via a policy promoted by the government. And once the bonus runs out, why stop at one?

Even once their children are old enough for child-care, it will seem daunting to enter the work force heavily enough to make child-care affordable. Also, that person now has the everlasting responsibility of having a child to care for. Their opportunities are always going to be so much more limited. Entire blogs have been dedicated to the difficulties faced by mothers re-entering the work-force. Add to that a complete lack of employment skills, and you have a recipe for frustration.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Should my client apply for Bail?

It's been a while since I have made a post about a strictly 'legal' topic. Most of what I do here is complaining about the Legal Services Commission (hand that feeds?) or snarking about politics. I guess it's time to get back on topic.

Ok, so Bail. Anyone who has ever worked in Criminal Law has had to apply for or defend an application for Bail. The usual course of events is this:
  • Applicant applies to Sergeant at Police Station where arrested for bail. If refused...
  • Applicant makes application for Magistrates Court. Must be heard quickly. If refused...
  • Applicant can make application for review in the Supreme Court.
I have yet to do a Supreme Court bail application, because the last time it came up, by the time funding was approved, there was a material change of circumstances, and our client was released on a fresh bail application in the Magistrates Court. 

The Bail Act 1985 governs the granting of bail in South Australia. Section 10 stipulates the most critical piece of the law, in my opinion: the resumption of bail. It means that the default position is that a person will be granted bail. It is similar in effect to the presumption of innocence. 

There are provisions under s10A for when bail should not be granted except in exceptional circumstances. The most common of these is where the person has been arrested for breaching terms of an Intervention Order, and young lawyers should be very careful about making applications in these cases, without reading the legislation thoroughly. Even if the allegation is not that they breached the IO by threatening the victim's physical safety, if the condition that they breach is imposed for the victim's physical safety, then they are a prescribed applicant. 

If s10A applies, bail will not be granted unless you can demonstrate 'special circumstances.'

I have dealt with a matter where a client was charged with a large number of offences, many of them committed whilst on bail for similar offending. The offences, if proven, were certain to attract a penalty of imprisonment (drive disqualified), and that sentence is likely to exceed a year. 

Whilst there was a distant chance that he could be released on Home Detention, as soon as he entered pleas, he would be sent straight back to Port Augusta for a lengthy stay. I therefore advised him NOT to apply for bail, and enter pleas immediately. (He acknowledged all elements of all charges.)

Under the new Criminal Law Sentencing legislation, entering a plea on the first possible occasion entitles you to a sentencing discount of up to 40%. This means that for a 10 month term of imprisonment, you could be sentenced only to 6 months. You could then be eligible for release on Home Detention after three months. 

Also, whilst my client is in detention, he won't be able to commit any more offences. 

Monday, 13 May 2013

Dan Brown? Love him or hate him, you have to be jealous of him!

One of my Facebook friends linked me to a post on Dan Brown, which can be found here, titled "Don't make fun of renowned Dan Brown."

The article is hilarious, and worth reading, if you can deal with far too many literary puns (or punes.)


My favorite would be either:...
Dan Brown, whose blonde locks and receding
hair line made him look rather Putin-esque.
"The critics said his writing was clumsy, ungrammatical, repetitive and repetitive. They said it was full of unnecessary tautology. They said his prose was swamped in a sea of mixed metaphors. For some reason they found something funny in sentences such as “His eyes went white, like a shark about to attack.” They even say my books are packed with banal and superfluous description, thought the 5ft 9in man. He particularly hated it when they said his imagery was nonsensical. It made his insect eyes flash like a rocket."
Or:...
Renowned author Dan Brown gazed admiringly at the pulchritudinous brunette’s blonde tresses, flowing from her head like a stream but made from hair instead of water and without any fish in. 
When Dan Brown's books first hit the world stage, I admit that I was a solid band-wagoneer. I didn't read any of them until the 4th book was out, and I can't make that hipster comment 'I read it before it was cool.' If it ever was cool...

Blog drops annonymity

Fine. I give in. I am going to put my name to this blog.

Well, not really. I am going to keep publishing under 'Miscellaneous Lawyer.' BUT, I will start admitting to people that this is my blog, and that yes, I actually do think that.

Sorry!


Why Lawyers Should Run the World: Part 2 (Why Lawyers do it better)

I am always struck by the fact that in Court, barristers, who are representing people whose interests are diametrically opposed, are always civil and polite to each other, and at the end of the day, leave the Court room and drink at the same bar as their opponent. They refer to their opponent as 'My friend,' except when they think they are saying something stupid, in which case they say 'My learned friend.'

I propose that a system should be devised where the political arena works the same way as a Court. Politics are presented to the public by people who are paid to present the facts, arguments, and suggestions, who are also bound by the duties towards disclosure, the Court, the clients (political parties), and the interests of Justice.

As an example, a party can use a study to demonstrate that their policy is the best one. They refer to Study A, Study B, and Study C. However, the opposition refers to Studies D, E and F, and say that they contradict the policy.

In the legal system, when presenting a case, you are bound (in the civil system at least) to disclose ALL the evidence, not just what supports your case. So, in the above example, the party must disclose studies A, B, and C, but also Studies D, E and F. They should also disclose Studies G, H, and I, which suggest that ABC, DEF are biased, and don't prove anything, because they were funded by XYZ, who support QRT.

This allows a listener/arbitrator/Court/voter to make a decision based on all the evidence, not just the hyped up Study that may (or may not) support the policy.

Worth reading:
http://www.news.com.au/technology/twitterati-dismiss-oppositions-nbn-policy-with-witty-memes/story-e6frfro0-1226617308069

http://www.independentaustralia.net/2013/politics/tony-abbotts-shaky-campaign/

Worth laughing at:
http://austeaparty.com.au/web/gillard-resurrects-death-duties-by-stealth-with-new-tax/


Higher Density or Urban Sprawl?

Where do you want to live?

Most people will answer this question by naming suburbs, or life-styles. "I want to live in Norwood" or "I want to live by the beach," or "I want a 1/4 acre block." Live the Australian dream!

The problem is that to fuel this Australian obsession with the 1/4 acre block, the city of Adelaide has to keep expanding. Urban sprawl happens because everyone wants their own little patch, and fair enough. If you can afford it, why shouldn't you have your own place?

There seems to be a resistance to living in high-rise apartments, or even in medium-density housing. Or is there? Given how much high-rise is worth near Adelaide, I think that it would be more popular than people think. I would leap at the chance to live closer to the city, and I don't have any particular objection to living in a nice apartment in town.

In an article "Urban sprawl is killing us, but there's another way" The Age writer Frank Reale proffers an unusual solution. My default quick-fix to urban sprawl is higher-density housing along sustainable infrastructure corridors. Reale suggests a focus on 'Smaller planned cities.' He notes that a lot of the energy released by burning coal or gas is actually lost as heat, and suggests that small cities built around power plants might be able to dramatically improve the efficiency of that process.

I don't agree. Firstly, where are we going to get the land to do that? Most of the areas within an easy drive from Adelaide are already populated, or else dedicated to other essential industry and agriculture. Next, most of the power plants are located a long way away from cities... deliberately. People don't want to live next to a coal station.

Finally, the most efficient use of space is vertical. Why not simply dedicate areas for construction of high-rise office space, above which is residential space? It is much cheaper to build the infrastructure for one massive building, than for 1000 smaller ones.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Why Lawyers Should Run the World: Part 1 (Why our current system sucks)

TL;DR version: I think we should replace Politicians with lawyers (or other professional advocates) who can present arguments in an un-biased manner, based on their merit, not their origin.

This is based on the following points:
  1. I am a lawyer, and should run the world.
  2. Barristers represent people who are opposed to each other, yet always maintain civility and respect for each other, both in the Court room and in public.
  3. Barristers make reasoned arguments, based on instructions, to the Court, and their arguments are supported (hopefully) by facts. 
  4. Part of a lawyer's job is to advise the client when their argument has no merit, or won't succeed.
  5. At the end of the day, the barrister's job is finished at the end of the case, and they are not invested in the outcome. Their only concern is that they have done due diligence, and that their reputation is not harmed. Therefore, they will do the best job they can, but won't pursue an argument beyond its merits. 
  6. Barristers do not make the final decisions; they present the facts, make the arguments, and accept the outcome (subject to rights of appeal).
  7. I think parts of this system might be of benefit to politics in general. 
It won't surprise any of you that I am sick of politicians whinging about the other party's lack of economic credentials, or moaning about how bad the other side's latest policy is. Tony Abbott's attacks on the Gillard government are fast reaching the absurd, including his failed "How many illegal boats have arrived since Labor took over?" campaign.

This was all the more amusing after the sign was vandalised within hours, and quickly replaced with a 'generic' coalition sign.

Please don't interpret this post as another Abbott bashing exercise. I can't stand the budgie-smugglerd lunatic, but I am not a massive fan of Gillard either.



I think much of Labor's economic policy has been hasty, poorly researched, poorly planned, and VERY political. About the only good thing you can say is 'At least Rudd acted fast when he needed to.'

I won't get into the debate about Rudd Money, but the short of it is that I think the policy was poorly implemented, but at the time, it was an imperative that some policy was implemented, and it seems to have worked.

I also won't get into the argument that 'Any policy is better than no policy'. I am sick of Abbott's evasions about exactly what he plans to do, asides from "Scrap the carbon tax!"

In short, I am sick of politics. So what is this all about? Do I have a better way? Maybe. Is it crazy? Certainly.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Parental Alienation Part II - The controversy

So last time I talked about the nature of Parental Alienation and Parental Alienation Syndrome. In short, parental alienation is where one parent (usually the resident parent) affects a child's attitude to the other parent such that the child expresses dislike for the other parent.

The Court can take a number of steps to address this, although once the matter is identified in Court, it is likely that most of the damage has been done, and it is very hard to reverse. The Court usually starts by allowing the non-resident parent more time with the child, and time not affected by the resident parent. The Court can Order that one or both parents undertake counselling, and can Order that the child be included in that. The Court can then consider taking the enormous step of changing the residence of the child.

This is where the controversy begins. On the one hand, you have the organisations for the support of alienated parents, such as the site http://www.parentalalienation.com.au/ and Parental Alienation Awareness Organisation. They advocate that the alienated parent should immediately have more time, and that the Court should consider changing the child's residence.

The other side is set out in a paper by Dr Elspeth McInness, an Early Childhood Education lecturer at the University of South Australia. Her paper, entitled "Parental Alienation Syndrome: A Paradigm for Child Abuse in Australian Family Law" can be found here.

Dr McInness argues that crying 'Parental Alienation' is a tool available to actual abusers who want more access to the child. Any abuse disclosed to the resident parent can be justified as 'lies sought by the alienating parent.'

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Parental Alienation in Children's Issues matters

"I don't care if he spends time with her, I just don't want to see him. I don't talk crap about him at home, we just don't talk about him." "My daughter just hates him, I don't know why. It's not my fault."

I have a fascinating matter where the issue of parental alienation has cropped up. If you haven't heard of it before, it is where one parent influences the child's opinion of the other parent so that they demonstrate dislike to the other parent.

This can cause the child to unreasonably object to spending time with the other person, or to make unreasonable demands on them. When asked, the child who has been affected will often not know why they are behaving as they are, or will give a nonsensical reason, such as 'He's too tall.'


I will discuss the controversy about Parental Alienation in the context of the Family Courts in another post, because that is an entire subject of itself.

For now, I will look at how it affects children, and what sorts of behavior can trigger it.

There are lots of websites promoting this or that view of Parental Alienation, and some of them clearly push their own agendas. The origin of the term came from American psychologist Richard Gardener, however his term 'Parental Alienation Syndrome' has not been accepted by the wider medical community as an actual mental illness or condition.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Anti-Islamic film stirs hatred and riots

IT'S CAN OF WORMS TIME!

One of my all-time favorite topics is religious hatred and intolerance. So when I read about the apparently anti-islamic film released in the US, I just sit back and watch the trolls come.

First of all, acquaint yourselves with the history and background of this film at the source of all that is trustworthy in this world... Wikipedia. "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Innocence_of_Muslims"

So, you now know that the video was originally titled 'Desert Warrior' and contained no religious messages, connotations, or references. It was then over-dubbed, and ended up apparently being offensive. I haven't watched it, and can't be bothered sitting through 14 minutes of reputedly appallingly bad acting.

See below:
The New Republic said that the film "includes not a single artistically redeemable aspect" with "atrocious" directing, "terrible" sets and acting consisting of "blank eyes and strained line readings".[104] The New York Daily News called it an "obscenely inept vanity project" that is "far beneath any reasonable standard of movie-making."[105] Muslim filmmaker Kamran Pasha stated, "I am of the opinion that it is a film of questionable artistic merit, backed by a group of bitter bigots whose only agenda was to incite hatred and violence by smearing the character of Prophet Muhammad."[106] Salman Rushdie called the filmmaker "outrageous and unpleasant and disgusting",[107] and characterized the production as "clearly a malevolent piece of garbage."[108]

Well, that makes me feel better about the whole thing. But what exactly makes this film so offensive?
Sky News said the video was "anti-Muslim" and "designed to enrage".[99] According to Reuters, the video portrays Muhammad as a "fool, a philanderer and a religious fake";[100] NBC News said the trailer depicted Muhammad "as a womanizer, a homosexual and a child abuser."[101] Timemagazine described the dialogue during the scene with a donkey as "homoerotic".[102] According to the BBC, Muhammad's followers are portrayed as "savage killers hungry for wealth and bent on killing women and children."[103]
Ok, there we go. I would be offended too. Hell, I might even protest.

More on this later, but for now, here are some shots from the film!





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Take the Biggest Loser off the air!

I read with interest Melissa Mack's article on The Biggest Loser in InDaily ("Take Biggest Loser off air: SA medical chief" InDaily 19 March 2013). 

The Biggest Loser has been running in Australia for a number of seasons, with greatly differing viewer responses. When the show initially aired from February 2006, and was a very simple premise. There were two teams (red and blue) who competed to lose the most weight. As I recall, they had two different diet plans; one was 'eat more' and one was 'eat less,' but both were focused on healthy eating and rigorous exercise. 

I LOVED it. I was only about 18 at the time, but I actually took a lot of satisfaction from watching these people lose weight, and gain self-confidence. The best part about the show, though, was that it motivated me to start running, and during the course of the show, I lost about 5kg. 

The second and subsequent shows attempted to maintain popularity by adding in 'twists.' The wikipedia article states that, in season two, "... the introduction of 'The Walk' whcih gave individual immunity winners unprecedented power as to how the game is played." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Biggest_Loser_(Australian_TV_series)

This sort of thing really bored me; I wasn't interested in the manipulation of the contestants, or the tricks the producers used to pit them against each other. The absolute abyss of this style of entertainment was during Season 7, when the show was aimed at 'Singles', losing weight in their search for true love.

This has to be the most horrific way to reinforce negative stereotypes about obesity. 'You can't find love until you lose weight!' This is exactly what Melissa Mack is talking about. 

Another objection I have to the show's new format is that it focuses on the contestant's emotions. It asks them, 'How do you feel about that?' 'Do you think that your relationship with your friend/lover/family is better/worse/indifferent because you are losing weight?' Who cares? When Season 6 had contestants made up of families, it was great to see the support, but it got very boring once they started doing the 'touchy-feely' interviews. 

The focus on diet also seemed to diminish. While the show used to focus on food groups, daily intake, and cooking styles, it now only looks at that in brief snapshots, giving the contestants daily rations. That doesn't help most people, who want to know about a week or a month of healthy eating, not a day or a meal. In Season 7, the 'Commando' gave the most scripted lecture on food habits to his team, before the camera briefly hovered over each individual ingredient. There was no focus on how that could become a tasty meal, or how it could be worked into a real-life daily routine. 

But I don't think that that is grounds for taking the show off the air. If they just stuck to their original premise, assisting people to learn good eating and exercise habits, then I think that the show has a great place in our television lexicon. You will continue to find people like me who watch the show, get motivated, and then go for a run and eat a salad. But we will start switching off, or skipping online all those bits about 'unprecedented power' and emotional interviews, if the show loses its focus.

"Thomas said she would like to see shows enforcing a positive perception of people with obesity engaging in healthy activities." I can't agree more. But this article seems to stray dangerously towards enforcing a positive perception of people with obesity! Yes, obese people are stigmatised and discriminated against, but surely shows like this can help change the perception of weight-loss from something done secretly and in shame to something done in fun and with enthusiasm!

Here is a bit of interesting trivia, which hasn't been spread about. Each week of viewing in Biggest Loser time, is actually two weeks of real time. Now THAT is an issue which could cause people trying to lose weight to despair! Maybe the warning should be about the realities of weight loss; it isn't a week-long or month-long effort, it is about changing lifestyles. 

Chief Justice's decision upheld in Magistrates Court

On Wednesday, 17 October 2012, His Honour Kourakis CJ handed down his decision in the matter of Bell v Police.

Most of you will have heard of the Hoon Legislation, in particular of the Criminal Law (Clamping, Impounding and Forfeiture of Vehicles) Act 2007. A good summary can be found in the Bell judgement, but in short, here is the issue.


If you have been convicted of three prescribed offences (IE PCA, DUI, or other drug driving offences) in a 10 year period, prosecution can bring an application to the Magistrates Court in order for your car to be forfeited to the crown.

  


The difficulty with this is that section 12(a)(iii) says that a Court MUST make the Order; IE the Magistrate has no discretion to make a different Order, or not to make the Order at all.