Welcome the global mail – with a quick snark on second hand car imports

I was rung today for a comment on second hand car imports by the Global Mail. Here’s a Guardian blog about it. I didn’t know what it was, but that just shows how out of touch I am here at my terminal. It’s a philanthropically funded newspaper. And it’s philanthropically funded by Graeme Wood, who founded Wotif – which I used just last week to book the hotel I’m staying in tonight. So that’s all very good it seems to me, though I can’t help thinking that it’s a bit too journalist heavy for my liking – I’d like to see someone with the kind of money that’s gone into the site trying to cultivate citizen journalism as a vigorous adjunct. Then again, perhaps they do, I’ve only had a very quick squiz so far, and thought I’d let others who don’t know of it, know.

On second hand cars, in 2002 or thereabouts, the Productivity Commission recommended that the prohibitive tariff on second hand cars remain, that we subsidise the industry – roughly as we now do – all in order to reduce tariffs down to 5% which will probably generate more costs than benefits. So much for economics. Over the fold is the PC’s explanation for why we should prohibit the import of second hand cars.

To prevent “undue disruption” (This is from memory, but I’m in a hurry. Hopefully someone can look up the specific words used.).

30 thoughts on “Welcome the global mail – with a quick snark on second hand car imports

  1. Interestingly I noted Digital Global Mail Ltd made a submission to the FOI pricing consultation that “information should be free — both metaphorically and literally — to the greatest extent possible” and that charging fees “can severely hamper journalists’ efforts to perform research for “data journalism,” which
    is an emerging and important field of public-interest journalism.”
    http://www.oaic.gov.au/news/consultations/charges_review/Review_of_charges_Digital_Global_Mail_submission.pdf

    Wonder when we will be seeing this independent data journalism?

  2. The Global Mail is employing several journalists I admire, and I wish it well.

    Like Nick, I was struck by its journalistic focus. This is apparently intentional, the charter being to allow more considered and less sensationalistic journalism.

    Editor Monica Attard on Melbourne Radio today was denying it had any political slant at all. Good luck with maintaining that stance if the current editorial mix continues. Of four articles in “Business and Economics”, three are on the Occupy movement. An interview with Julia Gillard is deeply sympathetic.

    It also has one of the finest online layouts I have ever seen, at least for reading on large screens and iPads. The stories have no links, completing the broadsheet-on-a-screen feel.

    In short, it feels like an online reincarnation of Fairfax’s old National Times, without the Fraser-era angst.

  3. Here’s what the Productivity Commission’s report said:

    The $12 000 tariff on imported second hand vehicles effectively removes any threat of competition for the local industry from such imports. The industry’s concern that removing or reducing the tariff would result in significant damage to domestic production suggests that a substantial number of consumers, including those on lower incomes, are being denied the opportunity to purchase vehicles they would otherwise regard as representing good value for money.

    However, making changes to the second hand tariff arrangements at this time would have the potential to introduce a destabilising influence into an otherwise structured assistance reduction program. That said, this is an issue which will clearly need to be revisited once that broader program has been completed.

  4. I understand that there is a market for people whose stunted intellectual curiosity prevents them finding interesting articles on their own, as well as a market for those who dare not try for fear of encountering neo-liberals and capitalists and other horrid beasts.

    But do you think they have heard of ProPublica or Project Syndicate?

    Don Arthur suggests that they are really a ‘hard-wired’ RSS reader like Pulse, only locked to the same RSS stream.

    Good luck lasting three months, and good riddance too.

  5. I understand that there is a market for people whose stunted intellectual curiosity prevents them finding interesting articles on their own,

    Err, doesn’t someone have to write this stuff first? And isn’t that what they’re doing?

    (Also, the bucket of cash they’ve got should last them more than three months.)

    That said, was hoping there’d be some ball-tearers on launch, seeing as how they’ve had months to get ready.

  6. Bill, don’t you think that people are writing more terribly interesting stuff every day than you can actually read?

    I mean, and I apologise for the crude linking, what about this selection for a start:
    http://www.3quarksdaily.com/
    http://www.aldaily.com/
    http://www.lifehacker.com.au/
    http://www.project-syndicate.org/
    http://www.propublica.org/
    http://opiniojuris.org/
    http://marginalrevolution.com/
    http://normblog.typepad.com/
    http://clubtroppo.com.au/
    http://andrewnorton.net.au/
    http://www.newint.org/
    http://www.overcomingbias.com/

    And that’s just a very crude selection (and not an endorsement!!)!

    Most of them have rss feeds too, so I can read them in my pulse e-reader.

    So what’s the Global Mail adding other than a terribly blinkered little walled garden for boringly narrow-minded hangover-soft leftism?

  7. The electricity industry article by Ellen Fanning did some tearing of spherical objects. Otherwise the launch was fairly muted, I thought.

  8. I’ve had a squiz at Global on both my ipad and on a large screen PC. The layout is atrocious for reading. Obviously designed by some web monkey who doesn’t actually read stuff.

    I read shiploads on line, a lot of boards and committees I am on now use Ipad /Dropbox instead of paper reports and minutes. I find Global almost impossible to read properly – might be ok if you want to read only one or two articles.

  9. In fact its impossible to read articles on my PC using Opera – whole sections of articles are cut off on the bottom and at the sides – there are no scroll bars. To read properly and fast I need to be able to see almost a whole A4 page.

  10. Its better on Firefox, at least the bottom of articles isn’t cut off. But it only displays a few a paragraphs at a time before requiring a click to see more and sideways – ffs!!

    Seems to be designed to be read by slow readers on a phone. I wont be coming back soon.

  11. The problems reported in various browsers are disappointing: a well-funded start-up with a novel interface should have invested in at least some testing.

  12. Not many Australian sites on that list though, so room for another Australian comment site. But the Global Mail has that stupid sideways scrolling thing, and very annoyingly, no Print function.

    I harvest some articles from it by saving as a text file and pasting that into Word, tidying it up in Word, and using Snagit to stick in any of the illustrations that need to be there.

  13. Bill, don’t you think that people are writing more terribly interesting stuff every day than you can actually read?

    Sure, but how many of them are actually doing real reporting? From your list, two or three – and those guys have pretty much the same non-profit model as the Global Mail.

    I really can’t see what your criticism is. More reportage is bad? I don’t get it.

  14. For discussion: three questions that may be revealing for those interested in the future of journalism:

    1. How may of The Global Mail’s Australian articles couldn’t have been written by a Club Troppo blogger sitting at their desk?

    2. How may of the articles by The Global Mail’s foreign correspondents contain insights for Australians that we couldn’t have gleaned from other foreign media sources already publishing on the Web?

    3. To what extent do the answers to the first two questions determine the ethoretical usefulness of well-funded Australian-based journalism ventures like The Global Mail?

    These are not rhetorical questions posed because I think I know the answers. I’d really like to see responses.

  15. All the discussion about Global content is irrelevant when its not in a format enabling it to be read.

    I just cant believe that Global was launched looking like this. Its something I would imagine a whinging rent seeking dinosaur like Gerry Harvey would launch and proclaim it the second coming – with free time on all the news services to advertise it.

    Even more astounding is that its from the guy who founded WOTIF – a site that is eminently use friendly.

    What the hell goes on in some peoples minds that would enable them to launch this. Anywhere I’ve worked on web stuff this wouldn’t have got past a rough drawing on a table napkin at a bar late one night.

  16. Good questions [GratuitousPedantry] but if you know the answers to the questions wouldn’t that suggest that they ARE rhetorical questions? Troppo is also awarding the Troppo Mercedes sports (with enhanced spoiler advertising the Melbourne Grand Prix) to the best definition of “ethoretical” – because I certainly like the word. I’ll start with “pertaining to the study of that part of the evolution of English that arose from typos” [/GratuitousPedantry]

  17. I’ll have a crack without reading it, let me know if I’m wrong:

    1. How may of The Global Mail’s Australian articles couldn’t have been written by a Club Troppo blogger sitting at their desk?

    None.

    2. How may of the articles by The Global Mail’s foreign correspondents contain insights for Australians that we couldn’t have gleaned from other foreign media sources already publishing on the Web?

    None.

    3. To what extent do the answers to the first two questions determine the theoretical usefulness of well-funded Australian-based journalism ventures like The Global Mail?

    The theoretical usefulness of another well-intentioned source of soft-lefty groupthink is always nil.

    And I have a question of my own:
    4. Will well-funded Australian-based journalism ventures like The Global Mail ever offer anything greater than this humble blog on its lonesome?

    Good answers to that question may address, for example, Peter Whiteford’s comments on social spending, or Ken Parish’s analysis of con law and refugee and Aborigine issues or NG’s analyses of regulatory and economic policy or Paul Frijter’s comments on economic analysis of government action, etc. Or for that matter David Walker’s comments on media.

  18. Good questions [GratuitousPedantry] but if you know the answers to the questions wouldn’t that suggest that they ARE rhetorical questions?

    Yes, it would. What I’m saying (tyops and all) is that I don’t know the answers. I really don’t. I have some impressions, and the third question is my draft formulation of a test for new local media usefulness. But my impressions and drafts aren’t always right.

    Neither is my accuracy, nor my usage. When I wrote “ethoretical”, what I intended to write, of course, was “pratcical”.

  19. What’s most striking about blogs such as this one is that they get to the point much more quickly when compared to journalistic pieces.

    A piece in a newspaper has to have a particular structure, be balanced, introduce the back story etc etc. There’s a form to it, and I think journalists sometimes think people are interested in the form rather than the content.

    All that gumph is stripped away in blogs, which is thoroughly refreshing. The focus is on the content, not the form that the content is in, which actually ends up making the content more enjoyable.

  20. In the name of gratuitous self promotion, I should point out that the article about the top 1% quotes me rather a lot!

    However, the material discussed was largely based on a post that I wrote for Australian Policy Online, and reposted here.

  21. Entirely irrelevant bleg but was looking for a contact for Ken Parish but can’t find one. Have been involved with a current parliamentary inquiry into strata title insurance in FNQ where premiums have escalated by several hundred percent.

    In submissions references have been made to the role of the TIO, a Gov’t insurance office in the NT, as the only surviving such body. The TIO website clearly states that they are “guaranteed” by the NT Gov’t. However, they even put it in the qualifying quotation marks which I would think at least inapproriate by any standard.

    The committee chairman (Perret) has stated that Wayne Swan would be surprised by insurance industry claim that there may be a C’wealth guarantee on the TIO. But if the NT are claiming a (free?) guarantee and given its status as a territory not a state. Is there indeed such a C’wealth guarantee on private catastrophy risk in the NT??

  22. 1. How may of The Global Mail’s Australian articles couldn’t have been written by a Club Troppo blogger sitting at their desk?

    Patrick says none. Does that figure of zero include Ellen Fanning’s fairly epic two-parter on power prices? The site definitely lacks ball-tearers, but to try to claim that it could all be replaced with blogs is just silly.

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