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Blackouts, nana tax, and terrorism – or climate change, tax reform, and population policy? It’s all about Labor

Broadly speaking, the coming federal election seems to be coalescing around three main issues.

Young people particularly see climate change as the defining issue. They are being joined by angry grandparents concerned about the world we are leaving to our descendants, as well as many of the business and farming community who are realising the economic threat posed by inaction.

It has come to the point where Liberals are openly admitting that certain elements in the party room will not allow any policy progress in this area and apparently the leadership is too weak to override this noisy minority. They are basically telling us that we have to vote the deniers out if we want to protect the environment.

Power prices and reliability are used as excuses to avoid the responsibility to act on emissions reduction but the argument is not honest regarding price comparisons for renewables vs new coal-fired power, the reliability of old thermal generators particularly in the heat, the need for improved transmission and interconnectors, the storage possibilities provided by small-scale pumped hydro, the improvements in energy efficiency and building design, the employment opportunities from emerging new industries compared to the future of the coal industry, the very real environmental, health and social costs of the mining and burning of fossil fuels and the economic cost of increasingly severe weather events exacerbated by global warming.

The one question I would ask of every candidate is do you support the construction of new coal-fired power stations – yes or no?

The Coalition wants the election to be run on the economy, taxation and jobs in particular, and seems to think there are enough wealthy retirees wanting to protect their excess franking credit refunds to make a difference.

Scare campaigns about changes to negative gearing have been somewhat blunted by the recent drop in house prices. Provided credit is available to first home buyers, this is a positive for those who were being squeezed out of the market by property investors. We are already witnessing a drop in construction so Labor’s policy to restrict property tax concessions to new dwellings could give a boost to the building industry.

The skiting and promises about job creation mean little to the millions of people who cannot find enough work, who have seen job security and entitlements whittled away, and whose wages have not kept up with the increasing cost of living.

The promise to rein in government spending has negative implications for growth within itself as it has been public spending that has boosted GDP and public wage rises have been higher than in the private sector (except of course for CEOs). Tax cuts for the wealthy will not boost an economy where many are surviving by eating into their savings or increasing their debt.

The third issue is immigration which, for some on the far right, inexplicably gets muddled in with asylum seekers and refugees.

There is no question that we need to have a sensible discussion about immigration and population levels for many reasons but too often the conversation is hijacked by talk of terrorism, stopping the boats, ‘assimilation’, African gangs, dress codes for citizenship ceremonies, refugees clogging up our roads and hospitals, or the demands of business for cheap, maleable labour.

We must consider the environmental impacts, the demands on infrastructure, the support services available to help with integration, the availability of housing and employment, worker exploitation, and so many other real issues – not the endless debate about the burqa which Latham has revived announcing a new candidate for One Nation in NSW – a very attractive young female Muslim tradie who, aside from wanting to ban the burqa except at home (ummm—I don’t think they wear it at home?), has not given an opinion on anything but helpfully provided several lovely photos of herself.

Aside from any discussion on immigration, a solution must be found for the refugees stuck on Manus and Nauru. At least Labor seems to be willing to accept New Zealand’s offer which is a start, but hopefully they have another plan that they may wait until after the election to enact. Once again, these people are stuck in limbo as we await the outcome of the political posturing. The crossbench could be crucial in negotiating a way for these people to restart their lives.

Watching the Independents on Q&A last night was refreshing in that they talked about policy rather than parties.

Labor would do well to stick to selling their policies with simple factual evidence so the comparison with a government who can only speak in slogans and run scare campaigns about the Opposition, and particularly Bill Shorten, is underlined.

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  1. Phil Atkinson

    Shorten’s in a little bit of a bind – he can’t comprehensively refute any Coalition claims, as that might disclose the nuts and bolts of ALP policies, which the Coalition – based on previous experience – would very likely poach. So he’s keeping his powder dry and waiting for the election to be formally called. At least, that’s what I hope he’s doing.

    Pending any election announcement, independent media (because we all know what the Merdeoch press is like) needs to keep refuting the regime’s spurious and more imaginative lies, as do we commenters btl.

    It’s not a given that the ALP will win the forthcoming election. There’s a lot of hard work ahead.

  2. Peter F

    I am heartened by the recent indications from ALP that they will not back down from stated policies on franking, negative gearing, and capital gains, They are starting to show that there are real changes ahead if the electorate will listen, and hopefully even if they don’t..

    By the way, did anyone notice that the coalition’s response to the Bank RC is that they will follow through on all recommendations ‘… in full or in part’?

  3. RomeoCharlie29

    “It’s all Labor’s fault” is finally wearing thin, witness the speed with which Leigh Sales pulled Frydenberg up, it being his very first comment. However I hope the coalition grubs continue trying it on because it is such a howler. I watched QandA and was generally impressed with the cross benchers but found Julia Banks a little too eager to use the ‘both do it’ line to try to mitigate the effects of her attacks on the bullying culture. This comment, repeated several times, went unchallenged yet I am not sure of allegations of bullying within Labor, except for the woman member who was subsequently exonerated, I think.

    I agree with the hope that Bill Shorten is keeping his powder dry on some good ( in my opinion) policies such as a humane decision on the asylum seekers that goes beyond an NZ or USA solution. Like those independents, I don’t see that bringing them here would lead to what the scaremongers suggest: a flood of new boat arrivals. The real cause for security fears from overseas is those who arrive by plane, essentially unscrutinised. Or who have the direct blessing of Mr Potatohead.

    Oh, and another excellent contribution Ms Lee.

  4. Jon Chesterson

    ‘Watching the Independents on [ABC] Q&A last night was refreshing in that they talked about policy rather than parties. Labor would do well to stick to selling their policies with simple factual evidence so the comparison with a government who can only speak in slogans and run scare campaigns about the Opposition, and particularly Bill Shorten, is underlined.’

    …and avoiding those camels and dead fish the Liberals keep throwing in like a host of environmentally unfriendly deadly spanners!

  5. Frank Smith

    “Aside from any discussion on immigration, a solution must be found for the refugees stuck on Manus and Nauru. At least Labor seems to be willing to accept New Zealand’s offer which is a start, but hopefully they have another plan that they may wait until after the election to enact. Once again, these people are stuck in limbo as we await the outcome of the political posturing. The crossbench could be crucial in negotiating a way for these people to restart their lives.”

    Very well said Kaye Lee. The Coalition seems intent on continuing to use the refugee issue to wedge the Opposition in a sinister tactic that is seriously damaging these refugee victims. The so-called “deterrent” value of off-shore detention of refugees arriving by boat has long since passed and many (but I dare not say MOST unfortunately) Australians want an end to indefinite detention and the misery it causes. As one of the Independent members noted on Q&A last night we can learn a lot about cooperation in politics from the “other side of the ditch”. I sincerely hope that Labor has another plan up it’s sleeve to get the remaining refugees off these hell-holes and provide all in immigration limbo the status necessary to get on with their lives. That is the humanitarian thing to do and is long overdue!

    Whilst on the topic of the Phelps Bill on refugees that will come up when Parliament finally resumes, Laura Tingle raised an interesting scenario in an analysis she did yesterday. We can only hope!


  6. New England Cocky

    @Frank Smith: Thank you for the informative ABC link.

    @Kaye Lee: Uhm ….. the “Independents” are in truth mainly middle of the road Liberals, likely “small ‘l’ liberals” swamped out of the party room by the ratbag right recruited from the IPA and other corporate think tanks.

    If the Phelps refugee Bill causes an election, then so be it.

    But it would be foolish to expect anything to come out of the Hayne Royal Commission other than the scraping of APRA and ASIC as measures to reduce the LIarbral Notional$ doubled national deficit and remove any pressure at all upon the unscrupulous bankers.

  7. Keith

    Yes Jon, Q&A was very good last night. Everybody is sick of the blaming politicians. Though having said that, the only policy the LNP appear to have is to blame Labor. When politicians say that they are going to create jobs, to me that is code for they have nothing to offer.

  8. paul walter

    The country should have grown out of burqas by now. Really, the things people find to fret about, encouraged by the tabloids like Chicken Little and the sky falling in…grow up, some of you!

    Reforms as to housing affordability are needed and it is despicable of the government to again try to encourage fear and greed in sections of the mortgage belt.

    But the most loathsome ploy from them yet is the cynical exploitation of the unemployed over jobs that will never, never eventuate if they continue to have their way, just like with indigenes and asylum seekers.

  9. terence mills

    Such a shame that Bob Katter accepted Scomo’s bribe to vote with the government on medical evacuations.

    Otherwise I found the Q&A cross benchers refreshing and frank.

    I have always listed to Andrew Wilkie and I hope that Rob Oakeshott gets up in Cowper.

    Just needs Tony Windsor to roll Barnaby in New England and it will be getting the band back.

    Not forgetting Zali Steggall : what a contender.

  10. David Bruce

    When I look at what the western and European world is doing to Venezuela, I am wondering if Bill wants to be in Maduro’s position.

    While we are looking at local issues and climate change adaptation, the local media seems to be ignoring events in Nigeria and other flash points. We should know more about Nigeria after their elections next week.

    When Labor gets voted in, I feel we have a high risk of economic recession and possible double whammy of a world-wide oil crisis.

    With less than a month of fuel supplies in country, Australia is extremely vulnerable. I hope Labor have contingency plans?

  11. Peter F

    David Bruce, it is good to hope that Labor have contingency plans, because you can be certain that they will not inherit any.

  12. Kaye Lee

    Concerns about oil just add to the imperative for electric cars, car-sharing and public transport. We should also consider high speed rail, run on renewable energy, between Brisbane and Melbourne to reduce aviation on the east coast and to help decentralisation.

  13. John Holmes

    Re human caused climate change and the Fires in Tasmania threatening fire intolerant ecosystems thousands of years old. There seems to be a total denial by significant numbers of the Right who are ‘want-a-be 0.5% ers’ or have been bought / bribed / corrupted by those interests. After reading reports of the fires in Tasmania where unique vegetation communities are being burnt out, what is not being said widely is that some of these communities are TOTALLY NOT fire tolerant and where you 1,000 year old fire intolerant trees under being burnt or are under threat, one asks questions when was the last big fire?

    Where is the response which we saw over the building the dams in Tasmania that put the Greens on the map and helped the careers of Bob Brown et al. This is much worse! It’s all over, not just in the rivers and areas to be flooded.

    Changes in the temperatures a higher rate of increase than anywhere else in Australia, and the appearance of widespread Dry Lightening which starts many fires as there is no rain to put them out, as well as a general drying out over the last few years demonstrates has caused this. The control of news etc by vested selfish interests has not alerted the community to the problem.

  14. Andrew Smith

    Good article, don’t ever underestimate the inertia and/or avoidance of govt., industry and consumers on real environment and emissions measures for improvement:

    ‘Among the worst in OECD’: Australia’s addiction to cheap, dirty petrol. Improving the quality of high sulphur fuel could offer 5% improvement on CO2 emissions ‘overnight’’


  15. paul walter

    Agree, Andrew. She does write a huge volume of informative stuff, have become in awe of her- she is excellent. Heart, brains and knowledge and technique combined, what a rare combination.

  16. Kronomex



    Arrogant, for other synonyms see https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/thesaurus/arrogant
    Desperate, as above, see https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/thesaurus/desperate
    Vile, ditto https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/thesaurus/vile
    Thug, ditto https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/thesaurus/thug
    Disgusting, ditto https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/thesaurus/disgusting and one more just to make it an even number
    Fascist, ditto https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/thesaurus/fascist

    I’m sure there are many other terms that can used to describe this hideous excuse for this “leader” and “paragon (snort) of virtue” of a country.

  17. Peter F

    Kaye, As usual, you are correct: the design of the Brisbane-Melbourne HSR has been dealt with in detail, including a comparison of long term decentralisation and aviation. Read BZE ( Beyond Zero Emissions.) http://www.bze.org.au/high-speed-rail-plan/

  18. Zathras

    The ALP has been in government for only 6 of the last 23 years yet somehow are responsible for everything that’s ever gone wrong and failed to legislate for every problem we have faced.

  19. paul walter

    No Zathras, always Labor’s fault, especially when they don’t get elected.

    But keep your head down for a few months, there are going to be “great big new taxes” flying about all over the place, like fruit bats in an orchard.


  20. paul walter

    My guess is they have already been doing that from a polite distance, its an electronic Panopticon.

    It is what all the surveillance, DR, arbitrary detention etc laws have been about.

    And the dumbing down of education and media/press.

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