27 June 2007

Statistical cornucopia

Not before time (I submitted my form online on the designated night almost 11 months ago) the ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) has released the preliminary results of the 2006 census.

I've spent a couple of hours attempting to navigate the website, which to my statistically, and perhaps technologically, challenged mind isn't the easiest to come to grips with (it assumes a higher degree of familiarity with terminology/jargon than I possess), but have noted some points, eg

# The total population of Australia exceeds 20 million only if non-residents are included;

# The population of South Australia isn't growing as rapidly as that of the rest of Australia;

# The population of my suburb has declined slightly, though the average age of the residents is considerably higher than the national average, which is not surprising given the number of detention centres for the elderly aged care facilities it contains (from my personal observation, not census data) is not surprising.

Anyway, if you have the slightest interest in how Australia is changing it's well worth spending some time exploring the data. Even on this first release you can drill down to your local level: you can type in your address and be directed to a profile of your suburb/ town/ local government area / "statistical division". Unlike Google Earth, however, you can't access the details of the people living at each address, nor their pets, as you apparently are able to do in the USA . Next time, maybe.

26 June 2007

History committee members announced

The federal government has announced the composition of its committee to draft a new Australian history syllabus for secondary schools.

The group appears to have a conservative slant, and there has been some criticism of its membership. While Professor Geoffrey Blainey has ruffled a few feathers in his time (eg speaking out a decade or so ago about the "black armband view of history") I can't see how anyone could question his expertise and general suitability for the task. Gerard Henderson is another matter. He is a media commentator on current events and, while he may have studied history in his younger days, I'm not aware that he could lay claim to being an authority on either history or education, despite his comments reported in today's Australian:

Mr Henderson said Professor Blainey was one of Australia's most eminent historians, and although they had disagreed in the past, he was confident they could get together on this project. "It would be foolish to dismiss his enormous contribution over decades," he said.

Mr Henderson said there were two major traditions in Australian political history; the conservative exemplified by Robert Menzies and the social democratic tradition espoused by John Curtin and Bob Hawke. "They're both very valid traditions," he said.

Professor Blainey did not offer his opinion of Mr Henderson.

24 June 2007

HMAS Sydney in the news again

On tonight's Channel 9 news there was an item about the unknown sailor formerly buried on Christmas Island and who is now generally presumed to be the only person on board HMAS Sydney when it was sunk in 1941 whose remains have been recovered.

Some detailed analytical work (see here and here) has narrowed the field of possibilities to three. Even Minister Bruce Billson, if this report is any guide, is upbeat about the possibility of being able to identify the sailor.

If and when this happens, I hope that the minister will be able to persuade the government to do more to underwrite the continuing search for the Sydney. Despite a recent report claiming that a British maritime researcher has found the wrecks of both the Sydney and the Kormoran I'm taking this with at least one pinch of salt until more substantial evidence is presented.

23 June 2007

Cold (dis)comfort

I shouldn't say that the weather has been unseasonably cold, since it's June. But I will, as it feels that way, especially after last year's much more clement winter.

Even so, I'll spare a thought for the inhabitants of the Top End, who've been subjected to the cruel and unusual punishment of a day when the maximum temperature in Darwin struggled to reach 20 degrees.

And the cold/cool/mild weather hasn't been confined to Darwin. The Australian reports:

Official statistics available yesterday showed that 13 towns north of the Tropic of Capricorn recorded maximums below 10C on Wednesday. Climatologist Blair Trewin said there were just 12 individual instances of sub-10C maximums for the tropics on record.

"Tennant Creek Airport's 8C is the northernmost sub-10C max ever in Australia," Dr Trewin said. "Camooweal's 9.8C is the northernmost recorded in Queensland."

Tennant Creek topped at 8.3C yesterday, about 16C below average. Darwin's top of 22.7C on Wednesday was a June record low and in the Queensland tropics, 40 towns set records for low maximums on Wednesday.

22 June 2007

National emergency: Feds rush in

The Federal government has announced its intention to intervene swiftly and in (at seems from Messrs Howard and Brough's rhetoric) military and paramilitary force in the Northern Territory following the Territory government's delayed publication of the report on indigenous child abuse.

For reports see The Australian and The Age . No doubt there will be much more analysis of both the plans and their implementation.

Like, I imagine, almost every other Australian I support the federal government's forthrightness and commitment to act. This doesn't mean that I won't suggest better ways of doing things or make other criticisms, but for the time being I'll wait to see the details emerge.

Good service

Today I'd arranged for a plumber to come around and clear a blocked drain. He arrived on time, quickly discovered that the cause of the problem was outside my property (therefore no cost to me), arranged to contact the water authority, who, within an hour, attended and did what was necessary to fix the problem . Well done United Water.

19 June 2007

Infuriating phrases

The UK Telegraph has just run an Infuriating Phrases competition. Readers were invited to compose a piece of up to 150 words containing as many infuriating words and phrases as possible. You can check out the winners by clicking on the link.

Here's a sample:

I hear what you're saying but, with all due respect, it's not exactly rocket science. Basically, at the end of the day, the fact of the matter is you have got to be able to tick all the boxes. It's not the end of the world, but, to be perfectly honest with you, when push comes to shove, you don't want to be literally stuck between a rock and a hard place. Going forward we need to be singing from the same songsheet but you can't see the wood from the trees. Naturally hindsight is 20/20 vision and you have to take the rough with the smooth before proceeding onwards and upwards. The bottom line is you wear your heart on your sleeve and, when all is said and done, this is all part and parcel of the ongoing bigger picture. C'est la vie (if you know what I mean).

Raimond Gaita attacked (and defended)

The Weekend Australian published a letter from Raimond Gaita "to protest its often distorted accounts of what Robert Manne had written, usually in other publications".

Gaita affirms that he and Manne are friends (and anyone who has read Romulus, My Father would know the value Gaita places on friendship), and continues

Manne has never supported intentional attacks on civilians, by suicide bombings or by any other means. Nor has he justified suicide attacks on coalition troops in Iraq. He claimed only that such attacks are not surprising, that the people who gave up their lives in those attacks were ``fanatically brave’’, that they should not be called terrorists and that ``Western moralising about the cowardly terrorism of such people’’ was hypocritical. Apart from that last claim, nothing Manne said strikes me as even seriously contentious. But even the addition of that last controversial (though I think true) claim won’t justify the suggestion that he supports terrorism in Iraq.

This provoked several strong responses among letter writers in yesterday's Australian , including this succinct one from John K Layton of Holt ACT :

Despite Raimond Gaita’s attempt to paper over Robert Manne’s remarks, they stand as a morale booster for terrorists.

Today the discussion continued with a letter from Todd Jorgensen of St Leonards NSW supporting Gaita's position in which he says:

Gaita spoke of those attacking coalition troops, think what we may of this action but it does not constitute terrorism. Nor was support or praise voiced for these militants by either Gaita or Manne, each merely highlighted the hypocrisy of us calling such bombers ``cowardly’’. This strikes me as a neutral statement, but in the hy[s]teria of patriotism even this appears taboo.

Too often simplistic slogans and labels are used in lieu of more reasoned and detailed arguments. While readers (and writers) of headlines and letters to the editor as well as, on occasion, bloggers and their commenters may feel that they can make their points effectively by keeping them simple, writers and thinkers like Gaita remind us that there is a deeper dimension to many issues. Terrorism is one of these, and while I don't agree with the extent to which Gaita distinguishes suicide attacks from terrorist acts, he certainly makes me think harder about this and other matters.

Update 21 June

On Wednesday The Australian published a further letter from Raimond Gaita which, given that he complains about his first letter being cut, deserves to be read in full.

All my intellectual life I have argued that no cause can justify the intentional killing of civilians. Now, along with Robert Manne, I am accused by Lew Bretz, Chris Oliver and John K. Layton (Letters, 18/6) of justifying or whitewashing terrorist attacks in London, Madrid, Bali and presumably elsewhere, in Tel Aviv, for example.

All this without one shred of evidence that I have ever written anything that could reasonably even be misinterpreted as this. I’m also accused, with Manne, of being partial to euphemisms that would hide the real character of terrorist attacks against civilians by calling them the acts of freedom fighters, for example. Well, some terrorists are also freedom fighters. It has always been muddled to think they could be only one or the other. But I have always held that terrorist attacks against civilians in the prosecution of the fight for freedom (when it is that) is an evil.

The Australian started all this off by asking rhetorically whether Manne would call ``terrorists those suicide bombers who later take the lives of children and UN staff’’. No one should have even the slightest doubt that he would, just as I would. Neither of us, however, would call a suicide bombing a terrorist act if it was directed solely at a military target. I made this point in my previous letter (Letters 16-17/6), but the letters editor cut that section, leaving me open to just the kind of accusations, as nasty as they are foolish, vented by Bretz, Oliver and Layton. Given that Manne and I have, all our adult lives, spoken against the evil that we are now accused of defending, I would ask again, as I did in my previous letter, for an apology from The Australian, but now to me as well as to Manne.

18 June 2007

Matters educational and grammatical

Some items from today's media:

# Geography teaching is to be restored, or elevated in importance in secondary schools, at least until year 10, reports The Australian . Federal Education Minister Bishop's media release, announcing a " new study into [shouldn't that be "study of"?] the teaching of geography in schools" is

An extract:

The Institute of Australian Geographers and the Australian Geography Teachers Association have raised concerns with me that too little geography is being taught in schools, and that in some cases, environmental and political studies are masquerading as geography. Parents have also raised concerns about the lack of rigour in the teaching of geography...The teaching of geography is vital to link students with society, culture and the physical environment at the local, national and global level.

Among other things the study will "investigate the fundamentals that every Australian student should know in the subject before they complete Year 10. " I've previously posted about similar developments (or proposed developments) in history teaching, so will be interested to see what the study identifies these fundamentals to be. I'd also like to know why, if geography (like history) is so important, it will cease to be compulsory after Year 10.

#The Australian also reports that Sharyn O'Neill , sister of writer Tim Winton has just been appointed director general of education in Western Australia.Whatever other talents she may possess she is not in her brother's league as a writer of English prose if this is any guide:

"We've over-cooked some things, we've made some things overly complex, but the line in the sand is that we are listening, we are keen to restore confidence and the very clear focus is on standards," she said.

# Minister Bishop also appeared on today's ABC RN Life Matters talking about performance based pay for teachers and how to encourage greater business involvement in schools.

11 June 2007

Is this holiday still justified?

Today is a public holiday throughout most of Australia. The reason? The Queen's birthday.
What is done to mark the occasion? Nothing much, apart from the release of the latest honours list.

At Blogocracy Tim Dunlop discusses the significance of the day and asks whether the ALP has a policy on the republic. It would seem not.

IMO we are already a de facto republic, with the PM as the President in all but name. The Governor General's role has been constrained in recent years. As his website attests, the GG is kept busy, but most of his duties are ceremonial, and not necessarily high profile ceremonial. That said, for now there doesn't seem to be much interest in the community, let alone the ALP, in changing our system of government, which means that the holiday is likely to stay.

A media milestone

Today sees the publication of the 50,000th edition of The Guardian , IMO one of the world's leading newspapers, and one which has adapted well to change, eg by moving from Manchester to London some decades ago. More recently it has developed a website which makes its invaluable and generally reliable information and alternative opinions accessible to a global audience more rapidly than its longstanding weekly digest The Guardian Weekly. In today's edition the paper gives itself a well justified pat on the back:

The liberal values the Guardian has represented since 1821 are the same values which the new technologies today make possible: plurality of voice; diversity of opinion; an internationally shared discourse; a voice for the hitherto voiceless; a challenge to authority; freedom of speech and information; fairness and tolerance; the possibility of enlightened argument without legal or state restraint. All these are now imaginable, if not yet universal. The liberal imperative to promote them has never been more vital.

But at the heart of what we do remains news: of trying to bear truthful witness to the world. For John Edward Taylor, what mattered was his account of Peterloo should get ahead of the "official" version. That should remain the first purpose of any news organisation.

The original prospectus promised that the Guardian would, on the behalf of "friends of freedom", keep a watchful eye on foreign politics. "For there perhaps never was a period, at which the affairs of other nations could awaken, in the minds of Englishmen, so deep an interest as at the present moment."

Fifty-thousand editions on, the same is true. We will do our best to carry on the traditions of the paper as heretofore. As Scott noted in his famous essay on journalism, "Achievement in such matters is hardly given to man. We can but try, ask pardon for shortcomings, and there leave the matter."

Congratulations to all concerned, and best wishes for your future.

07 June 2007

What's in a name?

The London Times has published a list of the most popular names for British baby boys. The top five, in descending order, are Jack, Muhammad, Thomas, Joshua and Oliver. There's one name here which is conspicuous by its presence so high on the list.

05 June 2007

A traditional Labor man

Today's Australian pays generous tribute (as News Ltd papers are apt to do when a non-conservative political figure dies) to Tom Burns, former ALP Leader of the Opposition. There are several articles, some photos, including a large one on the front page of him looking a very fit and happy retiree, and a lengthy obituary "Softie who breathed fire". A former political opponent said that he "was always a fighter, but he was grounded in decency". Not a bad tribute for anyone, even if it comes at the end of a life.

An extract:

When he was deputy premier, Burns earned the title of minister for the bush because he was concerned that those who formed his beloved Labor Party, the shearers and bush workers, were living in tory electorates and were, in his view, ignored by all political sides.

He told a story, one of thousands, about stopping at a road accident in central Brisbane where an elderly pedestrian had been struck by a car. "I was one of the first on the scene and this bloke later in hospital told me he had worked his life on properties at Blackall and Longreach, but when he got to retirement age he had to move to the city," Burns said."He didn't even know about traffic lights and had to drink on his own in the pub because he didn't know anybody and he had no family down here. The old bloke told me there were no retirement facilities in bush towns, so I resolved to do something about that if ever I was in a position to do so."

And, in true Burns style, he did. Complexes were built in many rural towns where bush workers could retire in the town they had spent their lives, where they were comfortable and near friends.

Another trademark Burns anecdote came at his retirement from parliament in 1996, when he said he had encountered the saddest constituent experience in his life and it concerned the lack of professional help for bush dwellers.

He told a story about twin teenage boys who went home from a city boarding school to their parents' drought-stricken property. Burns said the parents told the boys that as they could no longer afford the expensive private school fees, they would have to enrol locally. The boys were apparently so ashamed or depressed, they took their own lives.

More egg in US's face as court throws out cases against detainees

Not surprisingly, the local and international media have much to say about the decision by US military court judges to throw out two cases against persons detained in Guantanamo Bay.

Australian reports, including those of The Australian ,
The Age and the ABC report on the implications for David Hicks. His local lawyer and his father are both reported as saying that DH will not appeal , as the resolution of the issue could take longer than the balance of the sentence he is currently serving here.

US and UK reports, including the New York Times, Washington Post, L A Times, CNN, Guardian and the BBC, variously describe the Bush administration's embarrassment and explore how it might remove the egg from its face.

For a summary from an Australian perspective Leigh Sales, ABC reporter and author of Detainee 002, a very good book about the Hicks case, on tonight's PM presented a report which, like her book gives a good overview of the situation. She is emphatic about the implications for DH:

This development has no implication for David Hicks. By pleading guilty, he implicitly acknowledged he considered the military commissions fair and workable, so he has limited grounds for appeal. In any case, he only has around seven months left to serve in prison and it's unlikely any legal challenge to his detention would move faster than that.

Which is not to say that DH might not have some redress in future after serving his sentence if the whole Guantanamo structure is dismantled.

Better late than never: News Ltd media support calls for anti-corruption commission in SA

Today's Advertiser/ Adelaide Now editorial supports my call (and that of federal ALP MP Rod Sawford) for an anti-corruption commission in South Australia.

The case for establishing a commission to investigate public service corruption and organised crime in South Australia is becoming more compelling by the day. Several issues which have emerged in the past 48 hours could arguably be referred to an anti-corruption commission.

All that is lacking is the will of the State Government to legislate to set up a watchdog similar to those operating in Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia. Clearly, as demonstrated by quite separate issues in those states, an anti-corruption commission has the capacity to generate political embarrassment.

But a government with nothing to hide has nothing to fear. A government which says the current safeguards of the Auditor-General and the police are sufficient, risks - perhaps unfairly - being accused of having something to hide.

No serious whiff of corruption has tainted the present Government. But only yesterday it was revealed that two parliamentary select committees looking at the issue involving the operation of government have held no meetings this year. There is the potential conflict of interest involving Members of Parliament who have outside employment and the alarming case of documents stolen from a police car which have fallen into the hands of a bikie gang.No impropriety may necessarily be associated with any of these incidents.

But where can they be referred for assessment? Who is investigating them?

And where can people who suspect illegal or fraudulent activity within the broad performance of government go to complain?

The State Opposition - whatever its political colour - and the media have a responsibility to pursue issues which may involve inappropriate government behaviour. Under Freedom of Information provisions they are often denied access to relevant documents or other information on the basis of commercial confidentiality.

A permanent anti-corruption commission would remove all confusion about where complaints could be lodged, which authority should be investigating specific issues, or doubts about proper release of information.

Recently the paper/website also expressed concern that the number of Labor advisers has increased from 191 to 275 since 2002.

While paid by the public purse, these advisers are not traditional public servants.

Public servants are employed to work for the government of the day, regardless of its political hue - whether serving at a counter, maintaining orderly financial accounts or offering policy advice. Political advisers are employed specifically to protect the personal interests of ministers and the broader interests of the government of a particular political philosophy. Before working for government they have often been loyal party political workers personally known to their minister and the wider government.

Realistically, ministers need a policy filter to assess advice offered by the Public Service. They need press secretaries to field the increasing demands of a diverse media serving a society hungry for information.

It is a trend which began in the 1970s under then prime minister Gough Whitlam and, in South Australia, premier Don Dunstan. But in too many cases the growing army of political advisers is now usurping the role and responsibility of the traditional Public Service. They have a higher regard for political philosophy than public need.

Press officers, working on a "need to know" basis, withhold or distort information for the benefit of minister or government. Some public servants no longer have frequent and direct contact with their ministers.

It is no longer a case of "Yes Minister" but "Yes Adviser".

This is not a criticism directed solely at the state Labor Government.

It can be just as easily directed at the Liberal Federal Government and the previous Liberal state government.

But it is a trend which promotes not the well-being of the people but the survival of the incumbent government.

Major rail crash in Victoria

As I post there are 11 confirmed deaths in today's Victorian train crash. The number may yet increase. My condolences to everyone who lost family and friends and my sympathy and hopes for a full and speedy recovery, if that doesn't sound too hollow, to all the injured.

For a selection of media reports see The Age, the ABC, News.com.au and the BBC .

This is the worst rail accident in Australia for years. Like so many others it occurred at a level crossing, one which had warning lights, though not boom gates. I don't know enough about the circumstances but the responsibility to stop almost invariably falls upon road users not train drivers. It will therefore be interesting to see what emerges from the investigations, which will no doubt explore many questions, including

  • Were the warning lights working?
  • Was the truck driver licensed to drive the vehicle?
  • Was the truck registered and insured?.
There have been larger rail crashes in other parts of the world in the last few years, but many of them have happened on lines with heavy usage, not relatively quiet country lines as in this instance.

04 June 2007

Premier broadens definition of terrorist

According to today's InDaily newsletter, Premier Rann has, apart from announcing several new budget initiatives, declared that "bikie gang members are terrorists who deal drugs".

Terrorists? If so, why hasn't he called in the Feds to help him deal with the problem? Or is it just another example of his hyperbole?

Update 5 June

Mr Rann has, as far as I can tell, not yet sought any control orders from the Federal Police, nor, to judge from what The Australian reports today, does he appear to have done anything to deal in other ways with the problem he's so graphically identified.Other than talk, that is.

Don't mention the war...but today is a significant anniversary

Today is the 65th anniversary of the start of the Battle of Midway in WW2. Unlike the Battle of the Coral Sea a month earlier Australian forces, except perhaps for some intelligence analysts, played no part in the engagement, yet the result was much more emphatic. The US forces, after some initial setbacks and much uncertainty, eventually stopped the Japanese offensive. The loss of so many of its aircraft carriers made it much harder for Japan to initiate and sustain offensive operations, as its industrial capacity was nowhere near that of the USA's. The Japanese defensive perimeter in the Asia- Pacific region remained pretty much intact for the next two years, yet American industrial potential and performance so much exceeded Japan's that the ultimate outcome of the war in the Pacific was a foregone conclusion. Japanese doggedness, determination and fanaticism delayed it for longer than an assessment based primarily on relative productive capacity and available resources would have predicted, and it needed two atomic bombs to compel Japan to surrender, but Midway remains the primary turning point..

In Australia the Battle of the Coral Sea, which was in no way a decisive victory for either side, is celebrated as "the battle that saved Australia", it's somewhat surprising that Midway doesn't loom larger in our historical awareness. As several well informed writers have speculated, without the US victory a re run (or two) of the Coral Sea battle might not have been out of the question, and, if so, might well have produced a less favourable result for the Allies.

A little acknowledgment in Australia would not go amiss, but then the country is preparing to receive the Japanese Prime Minister on an official visit. I have no problem with rolling out the red carpet for him, but I don't believe that potentially unpalatable facts about our past history should be swept under that carpet.

Information about Midway

As well as the Wikipedia article I've linked to above, there's a wealth of (mostly US-based) information on the internet about the battle. A Google search will reveal a substantial chunk of it.

03 June 2007

State government rejects call for anti corruption commission

Not surprisingly the state government has rejected calls by federal Labor MP Rod Sawford that SA should have an anti- crime and corruption commission similar to those in some other (though not all) states.

What is surprising is that Mr Sawford is of the same political hue as the state government..

The local media haven't exactly been forthcoming with the story. Only the ABC (see link above) and The Independent Weekly of the MSM seem to have reported it. It's not on the latter's website, but the latest print issue does have a page 2 story "Labor MP slams SA Govt", with, unusually for the paper, no byline. Surely whoever wrote the story doesn't fear retribution?

Mr Sawford's speech in which he made the contentious remarks is here.
The relevant section is:

The wider electorate has turned off the political process. It no longer believes the government. It no longer believes the media. It is holding the power of its vote until election day and refusing to seriously indicate what it is really thinking.

On the topic of governance, leadership and the ineffective media in this country, I would like to put on the public record a view of what I believe is happening in my own state. I have said some of these words in the Main Committee previously, but they are worth repeating in the context of this address-in-reply. No matter where you look in South Australia , politics, business, unions, education, health, public transport infrastructure, governance and leadership are all too often seriously compromised. It is a dynamic that has dogged my state for the last 30 years—and it has dogged Victoria too. The tripartite relationships between the top end of town—and the corporate world—the media, particularly the commercial media, and the executive government are too often clouded in questionable goings-on. State governments in South Australia have had a far too comfortable and accommodating relationship with the top end of town. Who could forget the State Bank fiasco of the late 1980s which shamed all political parties and the media?

During the Liberal term from 1993 to 2002 we endured the folly of waste of taxpayers’ money on a national wine centre, overspending on the Hindmarsh Stadium and the botched sale of the TAB. During the current government’s term it is going to happen again. A sum of $55 million—mostly taxpayers’ money—has been allocated to build a grandstand in Adelaide’s parklands to be used for car racing and horseracing. The grandstand—or ‘the stand for the grand’—was originally planned to be four storeys high, 248 metres long and 10.8 metres wide. Despite taxpayers paying for this monstrosity, there will not be one public seat. It is a facility for government and the corporate world. The cost of the project will just grow and grow. The arrogance and the contempt for the taxpayer so implicit in this funding beggar belief. Any government should realise that getting into bed with the car racing fraternity is not what it is cracked up to be. Adelaide once had a formula one grand prix. Claims of its so-called economic benefits were always greatly exaggerated. This very fact has been stated by the Victorian independent watchdog, which has said that the cost of holding the grand prix in Melbourne is $6.7 million. The Victorian state Auditor-General, Des Pearson, released a report on 23 May that found many studies justifying the use of taxpayers’ dollars for major events are inadequate. You bet they are. South Australia is no exception. The Clipsal V8 car race in South Australia will eventually tell a similar story.

Another matter is the all too comfortable, ‘nudge, nudge, wink, wink’, cosy relationships that state governments have had with the media. Although wrong, it is at least understandable that the media would protect its income stream and the people who provide the advertising revenue. Nevertheless, it far too often compromises the fourth estate in South Australia and it shows. In fact, respected journalists over the years have told me of their frustration at the lack of resources for investigative journalism and overzealous editorial control. The national media’s complaints about the prohibition on information release are largely correct. However, you cannot think that the very same media would be as selective in what it chose to make available. The next question to ask is: would it be done on an ethical basis? Governments protect themselves. High-profile business and media personnel are strategically appointed to government boards and paid handsomely for their time, participation and support of government. Whether these individuals recognise it or not, they are badly compromised.

I have always believed that the sale of the TAB in South Australia demanded a royal commission. I think the same about Cheltenham Racecourse and the Victoria Park development—a parklands monstrosity. However, the likelihood of that happening is probably pretty small. Have a listen to this: the lobbyist for the South Australian Jockey Club, promoting the sale of the Cheltenham Racecourse—the best stormwater retention site in the western suburbs—and the Victoria Park development is appointed by the government to give advice on stormwater management. South Australia, like Western Australia and Victoria, needs the establishment of an anticorruption and crime commission to be monitored by the federal government and—(Time expired)

As Mr Sawford pointed out, he's retiring from parliament , so no doubt his remarks will be disparaged by he and his party colleagues, but there's plenty of food for thought here.