The Pencil Guy: Hourann's illogical blog

So, how do MPs handle hookers?

The last few weeks have actually quite busy in State politics — here’s a horribly delayed wrap-up.

  • It amuses me that when prostitution law comes up for debate, there’s a sudden groundswell of concern for women and children (with just the slightest tinge of paternalism). ’Tis in this frame of mind that we’ve heard about the “Swedish model” (with its sensible but tough-to-enforce goal of going after buyers), which the Liberals have been using as something of a bludgeoning instrument in the moments between their petty bickering. Their champion was last week making claims like “lots of studies agree” without actually citing any detail, which methinks leaves the taskforce of pollies who recommended the new laws as the most reasonable evidence put up so far. And thus, I don’t see too much to be worried about in the likelihood of this bill passing, given that the other State bill to have recently wrought conservative worry (allowing therapeutic cloning) passed the lower house even in a conscience vote.
  • Also in the papers is the proposed State Bill of Rights, which seems to have generated no agreement about whether it’ll be a feeding frenzy for lawyers or just an overdue formal statement of common beliefs. The committee (due to report in November) seems intent on the latter, and their draft tries to avoid having any serious real-world effects, but there are still people saying it’ll shift power to the courts from Parliament. Then again, is that all bad?
  • With Chevron’s Gorgon gas development on Barrow Island having been cleared to go ahead, and Rio’s new mine at Pannawonica also being cleared despite the presence of rare microfauna, I’m suddenly worried about whether the Environmental Protection Authority is doing a good enough job. In fairness, though, the current operations on Barrow Island have been handled remarkably well, and Rio Tinto has gone to some effort to survey troglobite environments in their area.
  • News that the railway is to cost more didn’t cause as much of a stir as I was expecting; either the State Opposition and local media are sick of project budget news, or they realise people care more about the timeframe. Despite the upcoming week of cancellations that’ll allow Joondalup trains to run to Esplanade, it’s entirely possible services further south won’t start until some time when I’m out of the country. Having waited five years, that would really suck …
  • The City of Perth’s proposed riverside development at the Concert Hall sounds really worthwhile, quite aside from being less than Mayor Nattrass’ original grandiose dream. In particular, it fixes the horrible waste of land that is the Terrace Road carpark. So assuming any of them go ahead, this project will nicely complement the riverside developments at the Causeway and by the convention centre.
  • Speaking of Peter Nattrass, thank heavens he’s not running for another term as mayor. While everyone is saying the field for city mayor in next month’s local government elections is weak, I think that some of the candidates have prospects of developing into a worthwhile leader. As such, Lisa Scaffidi seems the most worthy of support, in that she presents hope for not just running things the same way they’ve always been.
  • Finally, it was only quietly reported that the Press Council recently upheld a complaint against our local daily for their ridiculous “article” in January about a supposedly-frail lady sleeping on chairs in a hospital.
  1. One of the major problems with the EPA stuff is that new developments means more money for the government, so the government doesn’t actually tend to want things to not go ahead on environmental grounds. (I could be cynical and say that for that to happen you’d need to have a ridiculously low number of a ridiculously charismatic creature, found only in the exact spot where they want to dig the No. 2 shaft, and you’d also need a host of paparazzi to tell the world about it. State paper wouldn’t be enough. But that would be cynical.) The other thing with the Barrow Island is, well, gas. And we’re going to be needing gas. Well, we already need gas. So as long as Chevron can say they’ll do this, that and the other to satisfy the needs of the turtles and produce enough paperwork saying that there will still be turtles when they finish, they will get the go-ahead. Ditto Rio and troglobitic things.

    “the company has come back, it’s changed its mine plan and it has done some more research to show that the troglobitic fauna can live underneath the mine site even after the mining.”

    They said it right there. And while it is tempting to comment on a company’s own research coming out in its favour, the fact is that there is no way that Rio wants to have production stopped or prevented because they didn’t do their environmental groundwork properly, so they will have been fsirly thorough.

  2. (delayed comment responding for the win!)

    I confess that my imaginary ideal EPA would be a fearless campaigner for preserving the environment at any economic cost, but of course there’s no way a government bureaucracy could do that. Also, in the Rio case there is a strong argument that better surveying is needed to figure out exactly which species across WA are endangered, and it’s not really fair to ask miners to do it all.

    Nevertheless, on the question of how much money the miners should spend on mitigating their environmental impact, I do fear that they haven’t been pushed far enough. But I suppose that’s descending into a shades-of-grey kind of argument.

  3. Yeah, the government does have to compromise and with the way our society operates, it’s usually on an economic basis. (Anyone else notice that it was the Stern report, which put climate change in terms of econimic cost, that bounced cc into the main arena? Because most people seem to ahve forgotten that it ever wasn’t, or remember it in a “ye olden dayes” kind of way.) And that nice surplus our state budget has? would be largely based on those mine things.

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