Libs considers selling your HECS debt to private sector

In line with their party policy of cartoonish supervillainy, the Liberal government will consider selling your HECS debt to private sector investors.
The totally insane and egregiously offensive idea, uncovered by The West Australian, comes as part of the Government’s Commission of Audit. Treasurer Joe Hockey soothed Australia’s worries by telling The West that the Audit would be similar to the one conducted by the Howard government in ’96. Yay.

Economic genius Joe Hockey
Economic genius Joe Hockey

The ‘securitisation’ of Australia’s $22.6 billion AUD HECS debt would involve selling the responsibility for your HECS to the private sector, which would then be onsold to other investors. Whether or not this means that interest will be able to be applied to your debt is unknown. But wouldn’t it be genius for superannuation funds to invest in the burgeoning student misery market? It would be like the cherry on top of the irony cake, filled with a creamy center of becoming a politician because of a free university education then making the next generation pay for the same privilege. Delicious.

Superannuation funds should totally invest in student debt
Superannuation funds should totally invest in student debt

Mr. Bernard Livingston Smithe, Head of the Arts and Philosophy Megacorporation, ARTSCORP, told this reporter that the move would be good revenge for arts students across the country.
“After the great mining and engineering crash of last month and the meteoric rise in the profitability of arts degrees, we’ll finally get our own back against all those engineers,” Smithe said.
“They always joked about Arts students working at McDonalds, but now that a Philosophy degree has a 95% employment rate with a base wage of over $100,000 AUD we’ll see who gets the last laugh. If they didn’t want to be at risk of economic moves like the government is considering, they should have studied a sensible degree like Visual Art,” he concluded.

Oh, I almost forgot. They’re also considering selling Australia Post, because this type of shit worked out so well last time.

Maybe super funds could invest in Australia Post too!
Maybe super funds could invest in Australia Post too!

Link to The West Australian article

Clive Palmer, Hero of the Left

Clive Palmer, Hero of the Left
Clive Palmer, Hero of the Left

Before the federal election I would have derided anyone for suggesting that Clive Palmer would become a pivotal figure in Australian politics. The Palmer United Party, brainchild of eccentric billionaire Clive Palmer seemed so politically irrelevant as to warrant little more than an amusing dinner-party conversation.
From July 1 next year, the Palmer Bloc, an unlikely coalition of United senators and a Motoring Enthusiast will hold veto over any legislation jointly opposed by Labor and the Greens.

It would seem natural that a mining magnate such as Palmer would cast his weight behind Coalition legislation to benefit his business holdings.  But what does the man with everything really need? And what is the reason that Palmer has dived into politics at all? I would argue it’s the same reason he’s opening dinosaur theme parks and rebuilding the Titanic. A legacy.

Dinosaur. Fucking. Themeparks
Dinosaur. Fucking. Themeparks

So Palmer wants a legacy, and now he’s got the political pull to influence national policy. But you still might think he’d be in bed with the Coalition. Apparently not. The hilarious beef between Palmer and Abbott continues to fuel left wing erections across the nation. Abbott is determined to not be reliant on Palmer for passing legislation and Palmer is determined to be a key player in federal politics.
Did I mention that this guy is rebuilding the Titanic? Palmer is most likely not taking kindly to the Coalition government’s attempts to break apart the Palmer block by negotiating with Ricky Muir directly.

Diametrically opposed on the issue of boats
Diametrically opposed on the issue of boats

At the very worst, Palmer will allow Coalition government legislation to pass against a united opposition of Labor and Greens. At the very best however, he’ll force the Coalition to make hilarious compromises with the Palmer Bloc, Labor or even the Greens if the policy is to be passed at all. There is the delicious possibility of a Whitlam-esque total deadlock in Australian politics. After all, it’s very early days and a hell of a long wait until the next federal election. Since the Australian electorate has the memory of a goldfish, Palmer, Labor and the Greens can afford to fuck with the Coalition.
Let’s hope they all give it a try.

It’s a long shot perhaps, and maybe the landscape of Australian politics will shift so that the government will be able to pass legislation unopposed. But for those of us lefties who were resigned to staying indoors for the next several years, Palmer is such a wonderful, colourful and eccentric thorn to see in the Coalition’s side.

If you’re reading this, Clive. I’d be happy to run for Boothby for you, next time around.

Neoliberal fever sweeps Asia

Displays of solidarity have broken out across south-east Asia in support of Australia’s new conservative coalition government.
Tony Abbott, who was sworn into office on Sept. 18 by the Governor General, has become somewhat of a cult figure among more impoverished parts of the region. Celebratory events have been held in a variety of cities and villages as news of new Australian government policy spreads.
‘Neoliberal fever’, as the phenomenon has been named, has captured the hearts and minds of a people who now look to Australia as a beacon of hope and prosperity.

Local celebrations for the first annual Tony Abbott festival
Local celebrations for the first annual Tony Abbott festival

“It’s heartening to see that Aussies have recaptured the spirit of their land,” said Mr. Xieng Wanxing during his village’s celebrations. “Tony Abbott’s ‘new Australian deal’ to put a Holden Commodore or a Ford Falcon in every pot is the envy of the world,” he said.
In the province of Huuxi, a giant statue of the Australian PM has been erected in the town square, as a reminder of what is possible when people simply believe.
“We’re glad to see Australia has stopped the expansion of its foreign aid expenditure,” Mayor of Huuxi said. “For too long the Labor government let foreign aid get in the way of every Australian’s manifest destiny. Only now under Abbot’s leadership are we sure that every Australian will achieve the dream of owning a house with two-car-garage and several investment units in Sydney’s west,” he concluded.

A child ironically plays with a wheel to protest the cost of high-end consumer electronics in Australia
A child ironically plays with a wheel to protest the cost of high-end consumer electronics in Australia

The sentiment is echoed by everyone in the community but especially those who have fallen on hard times.
“It’s good to see the new government discard the ineffective Labor party policies.” one man said. “Free public healthcare and education reforms were getting in the way of tax-cuts for big business. We wish our own government would trust more in the trickle down effect and just look at the science. It functions exactly like the chocolate fountain I have in my jacuzzi,” he concluded.
Rural communities are banding together and selling handicrafts to support Abbott’s plans to build road infrastructure in Sydney’s west. Head of the Asian Australian Western Sydney Trust told media that for too long Asia had remained silent about the extensive commute that Sydneysiders had to endure.

A woman sells fruits and vegetables to raise money for West Sydney's road deveopment
A woman sells fruits and vegetables to raise money for West Sydney’s road development

“If we can reduce someone’s commute to work by just ten minutes, then I think we’ll be making a real change for the better,” she said.

26-29 JUL

SO, Thailand is a pretty crazy place. After landing in Don Muang airport, David and I were briefly stopped, along with every other white male on the flight. The policemen were looking for one Thomas Atkinson (clearly a pseudonym) and after showing our passports we were courteously let on our way. Outside of the airport we met Tom who helped us carry our bags and haggle for a cab to our hostel. The price ended up being some 100baht (about $3.50 AUD)
The roads in Thailand are insane, a frenetic free-for-all of Tuk Tuks, Scooters and Cars filling every square foot of road in no particular order. I say foot here instead of meter because it gives a more accurate impression of the space involved. When the cab started to drive faster than 100kmph I reached for my seatbelt, only to find there wasn’t one there. Somehow though we arrived alive and subsequently I haven’t seen a single crash or accident on the roads. Thai have some innate ability for this type of driving but it seems totally alien to me. Our hostel was located down Soi (denoting a side-street) 38 Sukhumvit Rd. Sukhumvit is an absolute hive of activity. Every day, food stalls, markets and businesses are erected on the street under the shade of the Sky Train, a concrete monstrosity of public transport that dominates the landscape. Famished as we were from our long flight we sat down in a market and were promptly presented with six different menus from six different vendors, which they pushed around the table in a Tetris like fashion, vying for the our attention. The humidity of that first night absolutely killed Dave and me; we were sweating so much, in fact, that when we were offered ice for our glass of beer we gladly accepted (despite warnings to the contrary, my bowels haven’t exploded yet, a good sign)
After dinner we caught the Sky Train a few stops to a popular area further down Sukhmvit to check out the bars. ‘Bar’ however is quite a loose term in Bangkok with some venues being little more than a few plastic chairs on the sidewalk next to a vendor with a coolbox, while some, presumably in place for quite a while have ornate wall fixtures laden with delicious drinks, some exotic, some familiar. Particularly delicious was Leo beer, which went for about 60baht (one dollar) and the buckets of margarita, which went for 300baht (ten bucks) Needless to say, we got pretty smashed and had a great time though being poked and prodded by the working girls got a little bit tiresome. After a raucous night of drinking we staggered back to our hostel, and knowing that we weren’t able to drink the tapwater, but too ruined to go and find bottled water, collapsed into our beds, unprepared for the vicious dehydration fuelled hangover that would persist much of the next day.
Not to say that the next day wasn’t fantastic though. After finding a ripper place to eat (I, un-adventurously ordered the American Breakfast) we met with Tom’s friend, Gon, at Pho, site of the amazing lying Bhudda and proceeded to get drenched by a monsoonal downpour which was somewhat mitigated by my fashionable 100 baht Minnie mouse umbrella (which gave up on life sometime later in the afternoon)
We then took a completely sodden boat ride over the river to view the Wat of Rama II, a really amazing structure that had a sign out the front prohibiting bootie-shorts or miniskirts.
Finally we went out to dinner in Bangkok’s Chinatown in a restaurant that served a variety of seafood (including shark fin which nobody in our party ate) I opted for some fried chicken and rice being not much of a seafood fan. After a cabride that Gon was able to negotiate for us at a reasonable price we went back to the hostel and relaxed, perhaps for the first time since we had arrived. It was to be a formidable trainride the next day, as we’d decided to leave Bangkok to the relative tranquillity of the northern city of Chaing Mai renowned for it’s party scene and awesome landscapes. The trainride was epic, more than twelve hours of some of the noisiest train travel I’ve ever experienced. A derailing some weeks previously on the same track was slightly disconcerting but there was scattered evidence of repairs all along the route and as it turns out we arrived in Chaing Mai safely. The cabins are spacious and far more comfortable than plane travel, and the ability to take life into your own hands and have a cigarette on the bucking walkway between carriages is awesome. Not to mention the beautiful scenery as soon as the train had cleared the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, jungles, which I’ve never seen before are awesome. Particularly when punctuated by the sometimes gravity defying mountainous rocks that dot the lush landscape. I had a quick conversation (with Tom translating) with the train’s janitor. Where I come from is flat and brown, I said, not mountainous and green like here, it’s beautiful! He knew the word, and as I gestured to the fog capped jungle peaks that the train was hurtling by he looked me in my eyes and gave a warm smile. People here are awesome.
Now we’re in Kiki’s guesthouse in Chaing Mai a really spacious, comfortable and welcoming place set in the heart of the old city. After Bangkok, the more laidback vibe is really welcome. In fact, this bed is pretty comfortable, I think I’ll have a nap.