SS America

She was launched in 1940 as the SS America. At the time, she was the world’s fastest ocean liner.


But the second world war had broken out. By December 1941, the US joined the war effort explicitly as a result of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbour in Hawaii. The SS America was converted to a troop carrier.

After the war, she returned to the Atlantic route, with  speed; and society; and glamour.


In 1964, she was sold to a Greek shipping company and spent the next 15 years circling the world: England to Australia and back to England. This was an emigrant’s route, not a cruise route. If the Suez Canal was open the route was Southampton, Crete, Port Said, Djibouti, Fremantle, Melbourne, Sydney on the way out.  Then Auckland, Panama, Florida Keys, Southampton on the return. Under the ownership of the Greek shipper Chandris Lines, the ship was renamed the SS Australis.

Here she is at Crete, February 1976. I was on that southern outbound trip. Crete was the first stop out of Southampton.


Eventually, she would arrive at Station Pier, Melbourne.


Before the final outward bound stopover in Sydney.


The emigration route came to a natural end in the late 1970s. By this time, the ship was 40 years old. She deteriorated under various subsequent owners. Plans amounted to nothing. She had spent years at dock in Italy before being sold again to a venture that was to turn her into a floating hotel in Thailand. She never made it.

SS America was to be towed from Italy to Thailand, via the Atlantic in 1993. A storm off the Canary Islands intervened.

nearing the end

And there she remained.


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#Shark attacks, bee stings and #fake news

Has anyone else noticed that there have been a number of media reports about shark sightings closing beaches in Victoria this summer? More than usual? The NSW coast, the Eyre peninsula and waters off Cape Leeuwin are more typically the favoured locations for sharks and subsequent attacks on swimmers and surfers. Victorian waters feature far less frequently – until now. This activity generates a buzz in the media offices as journalists have something to write about at a time when usually not much else is happening. Continue reading

The intolerant left

In 1949, the monumental economic treatise ‘Human Action’ was published, written by Ludwig von Mises. The book remains of immense significance. It is undoubtedly a tough read. Murray Rothbard produced his own magnum opus ‘Man, Economy and State’ a few years later that similarly was an economic treatise built from the ground up. Rothbard and von Mises had similar understandings. Rothbard’s work was a little more accessible for the reader. But von Mises was the grand master. If you question the relevance of a book written over 60 years ago, consider this quotation*:

“The rigid dogmatism peculiar to religious groups and to Marxism results only in irreconciliable conflict. It condemns beforehand all dissenters as evildoers, it calls into question their good faith, it asks them to surrender unconditionally. No social cooperation is possible where such an attitude prevails.”

That quotation is as true, relevant and topical today as it ever was. Today’s Marxists, greens and the totalitarian left are just as vicious as their predecessors.

* Human Action, Ludwig von Mises, Scholar’s edition 1998, p185

The rise of the capital gains tax

It seems likely, judging by the continued Government hints, that the effective rate of tax applied to capital gains on assets held by superannuation funds is going to be increased. Probably this will be announced on Budget night in May and take effect from 7:30pm that night.

As usual, the language is distorted by the politicians to try to twist the truth. I wrote about that in an earlier post. This time around, they say that superannuation funds enjoy a capital gains tax discount. They say the discount results in a remarkably low rate of tax. Hence they are perfectly justified in reducing the discount and making the funds pay a fairer rate of tax. It’s all rubbish, of course. Lies and deception. Continue reading

Shooting kites

UPDATE (Feb 15): The kite referred to below has been shot down. The Government has announced it is not planning to freeze the SG at its current rate.


The Government has done little to quell the press speculation this week that the Superannuation Guarantee rate of contribution, currently 9.5% of earnings but scheduled to increase to 12% over time, will be frozen at 9.5%. The lack of a smack-down suggests the Government truly is considering this option and allowing the media speculation to check for community reaction. It is called kite flying.

Goodness, the self-interested are quick off the mark – slings and arrows at the ready to shoot down that kite. Superannuation industry associations and rent-seekers have become too used to a guaranteed revenue stream coming in under the compulsion of law. It has become a sense of entitlement and they squeal when confronted with even the slightest perception of a threat to that money. They all lined up last week to squeal about how bad an idea that would be. It really is tiresome.

The cancellation of further increases in the compulsory rate of superannuation contribution is a good idea. I hope it is implemented. Then, I hope the Government realises the logic that if future increases in the SG should be dumped, the current rate is also too high. It should be reduced to zero. That’s right – the whole SG regime should be dumped. Continue reading

Bob and Paul argue (again)

The long-established customs of the Christmas period have religious and spiritual origins, of course. But how do more recent additions to the customs of an Australian Christmas, such as the yacht races to Tasmania, the Boxing Day test match, lunch with one set of relatives and dinner with another, and traffic jams to get out of the cities become established? And moving on towards New Year, how has it happened that no Government, big or small, Federal or State, no local municipality believes that there can be too many fireworks displays? Amorous cicadas must hate 31 December in the late evening.

New Year’s day also is the day when Government cabinet papers from years gone by lose their confidential status and are released to the public. It is typically a 25 or 30 year cycle. For Australian Federal Government cabinet papers, we now have access to the year 1990.  This cycle has given rise to the annual Bob and Paul recommencement of hostilities. I must say, this version of a Punch and Judy show is one of my favourite more recently added customs. Bob Hawke and Paul Keating, two giants of Australian politics, still banging on at each other about who was right, who said what, who was the better PM, who reneged on a deal, who brought home the bacon and carried the Government etc. Each yearly release of cabinet papers starts off a new round of argy bargy. It is the season for it. Silly old buggers.