Thursday, 17 December 2009

The Four Pillars Policy Has Come Home To Roost

I've been saying this for years to anyone who will listen - Australia desperately needs more competition in its banking sector. The financial crisis only made the Big Four banks the Only Four banks, St George and BankWest having been gobbled up by Westpac and CBA.

And now the other shoe has dropped - onto consumers, hard.
Westpac has raised residential mortgage interest rates by 0.45%, almost double the RBA's rise of 0.25%.

Why? Because they can. No amount of outraged squealing by the Treasurer is any help. This is not a centrally planned economy for the government's opinion to make a whit of difference to the actions of large commercial players. The only thing that can keep commercial players honest is competition, and the Australian government (whether run by Labor or the Liberals) has squandered any chance of having a competitive market through their longstanding and craven Four Pillars policy.

I have always said we need a Ten Pillars policy. Break up the banks and let them compete. All talk of needing to be big to survive is just self-serving talk. In fact, they'll be less wasteful and more profitable as a result. And consumers won't have to put up with the outrageous actions of oligopolies.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Recipe for Potato-Bean Mélange

Potato-Bean Mélange

I was wondering what to do with a can of beans (Four-Bean Mix), and this dish followed.


2 Desiree potatoes (the kind you can cook with the skin)
4 medium-sized red (Spanish) onions
1 tin of beans (I used a four-bean mix, as I confessed earlier)
1 red capsicum
1 small cup of green peas
1 cube of vegetable stock
Chilli sauce instead of chilli peppers (for a change)
Ginger powder
Cooking oil (grapeseed oil is best)

Chop the onions and potatoes separately into medium-sized pieces. (I use this very convenient chopper with a coarser setting. The finer setting chops into smaller pieces, which I don't want for this dish.)

Chop the capsicum into finer pieces.

Steam the potatoes and peas in the microwave for 6-8 minutes using a steaming container and set aside. (Sprinkle a little salt onto the potatoes before steaming.)

Heat 3-4 tablespoons of grapeseed oil in a large pan and then sprinkle ginger powder into it. Add the onions and then the capsicum and sauté both well.

Dissolve the cube of vegetable stock in a small cup of hot water and then pour into the pan. (Vegetable stock cubes tend to have oil, so hot water is required to avoid messy fingers.)

Add the potatoes, peas and beans and stir. I prefer to wash and strain the canned beans because I don't trust the liquid they've been soaking in for months ;-).

Add as much chilli sauce as you like. I like lots ;-).

The potatoes may not have fully cooked. So cover the pan and leave to cook on a low heat for a few minutes.

Serve with naan, roti or bread.

[Secret ingredient: If you're South Indian or through some inexplicable means possess mild idli chilli powder (affectionately known as "gunpowder"), add 3-4 teaspoons of it to the mix along with the potatoes.]