The Pencil Guy: Hourann's illogical blog

Premier Barnett!

Sunday 14 September 2008 at 3:18 am

It’s … not a surprise, but it also is a surprise, in that it really wasn’t long ago that Colin Barnett was retiring and the Liberals were screwed. Although I must say that “we’d have to rely on the Greens in the upper house” sounds like an awfully flimsy excuse, unless, y’know, the Nationals plan to push through legislation that sucks.

At least the opposition this time around won’t be so bad. But, given how much the last opposition sucked, and that they are now a minority government, I’m reserving judgement as to what we’ll see. (For instance: “government that has a social conscience”? Yeah, right.)

There’s definitely nothing that makes me hold my breath for anything spectacular out of this government — but then again, it still can’t be as bad as NSW! So I look forward to seeing hundreds of millions of dollars each year be poured into towns of a few hundred people, hospital waiting lists disappear, teachers to suddenly become superbly paid, crime rates to fall through the floor, and stamp duty to be cut.

(Ah, who am I kidding? I’ll be amazed if they pull off any one of those.)

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“Close”? Really?

Sunday 31 August 2008 at 5:06 pm

Even though life has consumed me this last fortnight, there’s barely been anything in Western Australian politics to report! (This despite it being a bloomin’ election campaign!)

I was repeatedly hearing claims of media critics apparently becoming disillusioned at Alan Carpenter for being arrogant (because, y’know, John Howard or Richard Court weren’t?) and quoting polls to suggest people would go vote for the Liberals.

Oh, right, the Liberals. Their absence of policy is not as dire as it was a fortnight ago — they are headed in a vaguely positive direction with their education policy, and they’ve made reasonable commitments to the bigger towns (notably Kalgoorlie and Bunbury). But beyond that, their policies consist of … er … some mumblings about tougher punishment (have they budgeted more prison funding?) and a piffling $150 bribe to seniors.

Colin Barnett has squandered the three weeks he’s had to show he’s not the same guy we soundly rejected four years ago, and yet the Premier has said he thinks the election will be close!

srsly, wtf?


Lots of ideas, but not so much action

Friday 23 March 2007 at 8:20 pm

(Apologies for the delay in service: I think I’ve wrought control from the unruly plugin that was randomly breaking things.)

So in the two-ish weeks since Charles Landry left, there’s been a remarkably fiery debate about how best to handle the future of Perth, with plenty of ink spilled, but sadly little in the way of signs of change among the leaders who are holding us back. (At least this was a better reception than what he seems to have earned at his next stop, Mumbai.)

The West Australian published a two-page spread last Saturday which basically repeated things that have been said for ages, like “connect the city with Northbridge” (even though that’s already planned and is pretty much a done deal, since every major stakeholder has agreed). There was also a generic “more support for the arts” call, which is great, but the implied qualifier “from the public purse” isn’t a real solution; as Landry pointed out, we actually need a greater sense of private patronage.

They also published a bunch of letters on the matter, with some others online (note that what’s online aren’t comments in the normal sense, but in fact letters in the old-school sense). PerthNow did something similar. It’s interesting that many comments are saying things like “Perth is fine as-is, if you don’t like it, why not leave?” … maybe someone needs to tell these people that that’s exactly what is happening!

I’m also a bit suspicious of all of the comments calling for “better public transport” — while I agree with the sentiment, it seems like lots of these people don’t actually use the existing services. For instance, I read several calls for a circular service linking the train lines, which already exists! (That’s not to say it can’t be improved — higher frequencies would be great, and the CircleRoute passes close to the same airport that lacks bus services …)

Some vaguely promising signs came from the Liberals this week, with suggestions like free wifi in Joondalup (in Perth, the owners of the overpriced existing service would complain) or establishing a carbon trading market. This latter idea is, in fact, a brilliant concept that’d do wonders for Perth, and fits nicely with Landry’s suggestion of making Perth a centre both for mining and for repairing the damage it does. Sadly, I doubt there’s strong enough political will anywhere in WA to see this through to reality.

Meanwhile, when speaking to CEDA the Opposition Leader announced he’d be interested in using the convention centre as a catalyst for change, making it the centre of an entertainment district by the waterfront, to complement sports and culture districts at Burswood and East Perth respectively. This sounds like it might be the start of a useful idea (although I see things wrong with it already) … problem is, so far it’s just two paragraphs in a speech. Good luck finding any real policy on his official site, which is about as well-organised as his party!

So let me take a shot at gap-filling: a pollie with real guts might suggest sacrificing the outermost lanes of the freeway as it passes over Mounts Bay Road, turning them into ramps that go straight down to meet the road. Then, Barrack Street and The Esplanade could be changed back to two-way streets, thus turning the Mounts Bay Road intersection into a standard freeway diamond. This would allow all four flyovers south of the Convention Centre to be demolished, and for Riverside Drive to be ripped up from Barrack Square to the Narrows Bridge — which would free up hectares of prime land for riverfront development.

Similar ideas are emerging on this SkyscraperCity thread, which incidentally is one of the few online discussions of the topic I can find (another is in a local queer publication). This is a shame, because creative and out-of-the-box thinking was exactly what Charles Landry asked for, and it is exactly what we need to make the convention centre stop sucking.

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Stressed? Me? Never!

Friday 3 December 2004 at 10:58 pm

So I have just managed to survive a rather stressful day at work today. That said, it was also somewhat amusing and entertaining, so it wasn’t all bad. I randomly ran into Boshra, which was cool (if I didn’t know better, I’d swear she was stalking me …). And it was very amusing to hear my manager describe one of the guys organising an upcoming conference when the latter called to ask, “hey, we need you guys to create 25 generic accounts for us, in the next ten minutes please, if not sooner”. I think that was a case of what HR-buzzword types call a lack of direct and effective communication.

On the topic of my job, let me just say that the Ascent 2000 Building Automation System, which is the i386 program running on QNX that controls every electronic lock on the UWA campus, is quite seriously teh suck. You’d think, being as it is a computer system, that if I said “here’s a bunch of students that have access to Door In This Building, and I now need them to have access to Door In Other Building” that you could just copy across the list of students, set the door you want, and be done with it. But no, the Ascent 2000 system is way too cool to allow something like that. Instead, you have to print out the first list of students (on a form-feed printer, no less), then tick off the ones that already have access, then MANUALLY TYPE THE CARD NUMBERS IN ONE BY ONE. And guess who got that job?

Meh. To conclude, I might continue with what I’ve just decided to be a trend for random state political commentary. I was watching Stateline tonight, as one does when one is sitting in front of a TV on Friday with insufficient energy to think, and there was a debate between our esteemed Health Minister and his Opposition counterpart. Now Jim McGinty is a pretty cool guy — I got to shake his hand not once but three times (IIRC?) way back at my high school graduation. He was, however, totally outclassed by this Liberal guy. Poor Jim looked like he was hiding behind a barrage of statistics (hang on, he has the health portfolio … of course he was), while Dan Sullivan looked lucid and on top of things. Intriguing, particularly since (as the presenter pointed out lots of times) the Gallop government did get in largely on the promise of Fixing The Health System ™.

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