The Pencil Guy: Hourann's illogical blog

Now the madness is about trading hours!

Sunday 31 December 2006 at 7:39 pm

Despite its similarity to the daylight saving mess, there are entirely different reasons for why I’m so wary of the new push for deregulating shopping hours around Perth. Basically, we had a referendum less than two years ago, so even the stupid “the youngins haven’t spoken” argument doesn’t work. For now, we should probably accept the umpire’s decision and not make any major changes. (Imagine if the law was changed regardless: what does that say about the referendum process? Should we go changing the national anthem without a vote?)

I say this even though I reckon the referendum was entirely swayed by the independent grocer’s lobby and their “help us, we’re the underdog!” advertising. Of course, it deeply saddens me that the supposedly independent, David-versus-Goliath supermarkets were all either gobbled up or spun off into a single chain just a few months later in The Great Woolworths-Metcash-Foodland Deal.

However, I also don’t believe that the current laws should stay unchanged — because quite simply, they suck. My pet solution is to completely deregulate opening hours in the Fremantle and Perth CBDs (and perhaps other areas like Subiaco, Rockingham, and the forthcoming Cockburn Central), while keeping something like the current arrangements in the suburbs.

The argument that big chain stores will stamp out independent shops doesn’t apply in these areas (seriously, compare the independent CBD convenience stores to Woolies, and tell me you prefer the former). This change would mitigate the danger of shop owners making unfair demands of their employees, while also fixing, in one fell swoop, the problem of the Perth CBD turning into a ghost town after 5.30pm. Indeed, one of the arguments for extending trading hours is that it’ll help people “take advantage of daylight saving”, but that doesn’t make sense in the soulless artificial environment of suburban shopping centres. And heck, longer trading hours might even encourage suburbanites to visit the urban centres a little more often, which would hardly be a bad thing.


When a full post is just too hard

Tuesday 21 November 2006 at 10:03 pm
[Leaders at APEC 2006; note that Creative Commons licence does not apply to this image]

Here are some random and slightly political thoughts:

  • Last weekend’s APEC meeting confirms the argument from my thesis (first suggested to me by Dennis, and seconded by a Lowy Institute paper) that this institution is going nowhere fast. There’s the annual photo of leaders in funny costumes (wonder what they’ll wear in Sydney next year?) and an opportunity to discuss regional issues, but beyond that there’s little real work happening towards the supposed goals of trade facilitation and liberalisation … just more vague promises for an unattainable 21-country free trade area.
  • I’m unsurprised by today’s daylight savings vote, but still disappointed in the whole “let’s start in a week!” thing. And, WTF Matt Birney, since when has WA not been the “lifestyle State”?
  • I was always a cautious supporter of nuclear power in the past (though I’ve sometimes been swayed by my old-school greenie friends). And I’m inclined to trust the work of the committee that just reported, based on the qualifications of its members, even though I don’t trust Ziggy Switkowski after his work (if you can call it that!) at Telstra. However, I’m not sure that nuclear power is so very ideal for Australia as they claim, given our relatively small energy needs compared to, say, China or the US. But I’ve not read the report, and I don’t know how honest the PM was when he asked for an “open debate” …
  • Last Friday was the closing date for submissions to the Immigration Department review that, from my reading of their discussion paper, has probably been told “you will recommend an Australian Values ™ test for new citizens”. Oh, sorry, I mean, they’re carefully reviewing the options (but just happened to think about the content of a potential test in great, great detail). Anyway, my submission is here.
  • Ridiculous media circus #1: so Kim Beazley mixed up someone’s name last week. I do that several times a day. Sheesh …
  • Ridiculous media circus #2: no, Tony Bullimore shouldn’t pay if he were ever rescued again. Not only is it international convention, but fer cryin’ out loud, it’s not like those navy ships would otherwise be sitting in port with their crews all downing some beer. The navy goes on training exercises, kids, which cost money — sometimes even more money than rescues at sea.
  • Finally, my sidebar has a new addition: Houses and Motions, the funniest take on Hansard that I’ve ever encountered. Kudos to Tim, Cameron, and Trent — this is gold.

Loud nonsense emanating from State Parliament

Thursday 16 November 2006 at 9:35 pm

Today has been an insane day for me (albeit insane in a happy way!) but it seems I’ve got nothing on the kids in State Parliament: Aunty is reporting that the attempts by Godfather D’Orazio and “I wanna stay with the cool kids!” Birnie to introduce daylight saving have been delayed by the Libs in the Legislative Council. According to our ever-reliable Treasurer, this means the proposed start date for the first trial (December 3) is in jeopardy, as if it was ever a serious option.

Just in case the Tardis has landed near West Perth, thus encapsulating Parliament in a space-time ripple, I’d like to point out that December 3 is in two weeks.

I’m hostile to the idea of daylight saving, but even if I was in favour I’d still think it wildly irresponsible to demand that two million people change their clocks with an entire fortnight’s notice. Imagine if Transperth said “we’re changing the timetable for every service in two weeks”. Imagine if UWA said (during semester) “we’re shifting the time for every class in two weeks”. Imagine if a major hospital said “we’re rescheduling every appointment, and here’s two weeks’ notice”.

IMHO, Parliament should drop this ridiculous time-waster (pun intended!) and get back to the many real issues faced by the State. You know, things like the terrible state of mental health services across WA, or the gross shortage of transit guards for our trains, or the problems with education in some remote Aboriginal communities …

P.S. It’s scary how many people are saying “whaddya mean we’ve already had three referenda? Times have changed and the young people haven’t had a chance to have their say!”. By that logic, and given the current scuffle over WorkChoices, can we please have another referendum on the Incomes question? Or perhaps on secession from the Commonwealth? After all, young’uns like me didn’t get a chance to vote in those!

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