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Category Archives: News and Politics

Environmental Elitism and the Inconsequential Worker

Bolman and Deal’s “Reframing Organisations” encourages leaders to look through various ‘windows’ to reframe and solve problems.  The Author argues that climate change activism is led from a position of privilege. To counter this, the worker must be central to the climate change debate.

The Rise of Climate Change Activism

Climate Change Activism is not a passing phase. Warnings about climate change have progressed since the 1980’s. Aerosols and cows expelling gas would destroy the earth. Climate change activism has become increasingly more prevalent in politics, media, and society.

The current phase, post-Paris Agreement, is a particularly strong phase of climate change activism. This is globally pushing leaders to implement legislation and regulations to mitigate the impact of climate change.

The Force of Change on the working class

The vocal aim of activists to shut down entire industries, such as coal (and some say beef is on their radar as well), places climate change as a (negative) force of change on the working class.

We are no longer in an era where we are debating the reality of climate change. The majority of people accept that climate change is real and we must act on climate change.

Many activists still operate in the mindset that any question about jobs equals denialism. They do not try to understand if the other person believes in climate change. Lectures about the merits of climate change stream forth in abundance, regardless.

Abuse and ridicule are common responses to the jobs issue. A strong position is jobs do not matter in the end. They argue fiercely if mining destroys the earth, there will be no jobs at all. This is particularly exacerbated by the current anti-Adani movement at present.

Activists who do try to engage only have one solution – all the coal workers will now work in renewables.  There is no vision to reinvent communities or truly see the human factor and offer diversity and true renewal.

Other activists are quite discriminatory about who deserves jobs. They will respond with the notion that Great Barrier Reef jobs are more important than coal jobs. The notion of job losses in the coal sector is sometimes even celebrated by activists as an achievement.

Rebuttals are in the form of industry that is not yet prevalent.

Oh! They can just go get jobs in the renewabls industry!

The conversation around jobs and regional communities towards a post-coal world is extremely difficult to get off the ground.

Concern for Jobs isn’t Climate Change Denial

Environmental activists must cease the perverse accusation that one is a “climate change denier” if displaced workers are a major concern

(And Malcolm Roberts, by some weird turn of events you read this; despite what you may have read from Climate Change activists yelling at me on Twitter – I am not in love with you).

To achieve positive progress we need to reframe the debate with the worker as the centre. This will highlight the negative impact climate change action has on workers.

Environmentalists must question if their position is so pure that negative consequences, such as mass layoffs are inconsequential.  If mass layoffs are inconsequential, and workers can’t put food on the table, then does one’s activism come from a position of privilege?

The Negative Consequence of Positive Action

Activists generally sincerely value their actions and advocacy as a positive effect on society. I do not disagree that this is the intent with climate change activists.

However, I would strongly argue to value the intent of activism is not enough. I would also argue it is ignorant. Activists must also value the consequences of their actions, not just the intent. Sometimes a positive action can result in negative consequences.

An environmental lens ensures the following remain silent:

Displaced workers, economic loss, increased welfare, homelessness, poverty, despair, an increase in psychosomatic symptoms and even suicide.

Reframing the debate with the worker as central to the climate change debate is essential. This places climate change action as an externality that is a force of change on industry and work. This shifts the worker from an irrelevant byproduct of change to the central focus.

This should serve as the impetus to mitigate harm to the working class co-existent with positive action on climate change.

What does Feminism have to do with this?

I am using this example to demonstrate activism and privilege. Often the negative consequences of positive action, are not recognised. The activist does not have a desire to reframe the debate. It is not until voices push for reframing that the negative consequences of activism are realised.

As a white liberal/radical feminist in the 1980’s, I was oblivious that the activism I participated in had negative consequences. This activism had a negative affect on women of colour and also misrepresented men of colour.

It has been through women of colour persisting with their voices, who created this change. This forced white liberal feminists to reframe their activism and recognise specific feminist issues for women of colour.  Many white liberal feminists now follow women of colour as allies in support of their activism.

Through reframing by women of colour, white liberal feminists could then identify the negative consequences. They recognise their activism was from a position of privilege.

A united and stronger feminist wave was born.

Stop Lecturing and Start Uniting

Activism that spares no thought about how to alleviate harm on the worker is from a position of privilege.

Activism that is not involved in ideas and discussions to mitigate harm to the worker, is a position of privilege.

Persisting with ‘lecturing and convincing others’ and shouting down concerns about jobs is regressive and obstructive.

If this continues, unlike feminism – a new wave will not be born.

Privilege and Elitism

Privilege is a term commonly used in sociology and feminist literature and it is described as:

As a concept, privilege is defined in relational terms and in reference to social groups, and involves unearned benefits afforded to powerful social groups within systems of oppression (Kendall, 2006; McIntosh, 1988).

Within Environmental Literature this concept is defined as “Elitism” (Dunlap, 1986). There are three types of environmental elitism.

  • Compositional Elitism: The suggestion that environmentalists are generally more upper-class and financially well off.
  • Ideological Elitism: The suggestion that environmentalists protect their own interests at the cost of the poor – i.e. Preventing a power plant on land that is beneficial to their own interests.

The third type of elitism is the most relevant for the purpose of this article:

  • Impact Elitism: The suggestion that environmental reform measures that have (intended or not) regressive, distributional impacts on society. (ie job losses, economic loss).

Some examples of impact elitism are:

  • The cost of reducing energy costs benefits the wealthy and excludes the poor. (Older cheaper cars versus newer Tesla cars).
  • Solar panelling and insulation benefits wealthier home buyers and excludes those who rent
  • People from poorer countries live in unhealthy environments. This is because they cannot afford the infrastructure or cost of electricity for a healthier, cleaner environment.
  • Purchasing a set of environmentally friendly shopping bags as a choice between an inedible bag or much-needed food.
  • Wealthier advanced countries advocating against poorer countries accessing fossil fuel energy. Although this may be a step enable fuelling, farming, agriculture and new industry.
  • Activism to shut down an energy intensive plant, even though its closure will result in mass layoffs.

Reframing the Debate

The Climate Change debate would look much different if activists, politicians and media reframed this to a worker-centred debate.

Decisions around budget measures, domestic and foreign affairs, industrial relations, training and the distribution of revenue would look much different.

The continual lecturing and ridicule from activists who are stuck in the view that the majority of people still need convincing are stifling the debate.

The leader of the Labor Party, Bill Shorten, is also guilty of this. Shorten’s narrative concentrates too much on the environmental, rather than the working class.

It is up to the Australian Labor party to lead serious reform in this area. Leave the environmentalism to the Greens.  Australian Labor should be working to mitigate the effects of climate change whilst simultaneously loudly advocating for national reform. Championing the new way we look at jobs, industry and the economy in a post-coal world.

A Serious Transition is Urgent

The Labor party has a transition document available.  However, in my view, it does not go far enough.  The legacy of Labor is about national progressive reform. I welcome a transition plan. However, one that responds within an environmental framework is not enough. The answer is not just about renewables.

We urgently need a visionary set of serious reforms for regional communities.

  • How will revenue be redistributed?
  • How will the loss of coal revenue impact regions?
  • What are the impacts on specific communities, rather than nationally?
  • Should we focus on regional unemployment or a national average?
  • Do education and training need greater investment?
  • Should renewables training colleges be set up in regional universities?
  • Do we fully fund TAFE to secure the necessary training required to reskill for the future?
  • How do we attract a range of non-energy related industry investment to regional communities?
  • Is funded redeployment for displaced workers to existing and new industry an option?
  • Should regionally focused apprenticeship quotas be funded on a national scale?
  • Will redistribution of centralised public services to regions relieve the burden?

These are some questions to be asked.

The Labor Party’s narrative about the world of work in a world of serious climate change action is also non-existent.

Unless we fight and win a region-focused jobs and economic transition plan, the resultant high unemployment, filled with skilled heavy industry unemployed, only risks tipping the balance of power to the employer. This is a huge risk for further erosion of job security, safety and fair wages and conditions.

I have renewed hope now that Australian Unions are speaking up.

Food on the table, rewarding and permanent secure work should be an inherent value we ALL fight for.

A Synergistic Policy Framework

This cyclical fight does not have to continue to be the case.  The “left” appears to be fighting itself to champion one social cause (environmentalism) at the expense of another (the worker).

Mass layoffs and closures will become a prevalent and a visible acknowledgement of successful climate change activism. Without a serious region focused economic and jobs transition plan, this divide will deepen. It will hurt.

Arguments that the worker is secondary give fuel to the ONLY argument that the actual climate change deniers have left. That is pretending to care about the working class as the reason to block change.  We saw that in abundance this week with the Liberal and National Party’s rejection of the Finkel Review.

The absence of narrative about jobs is also partly attributed to the rise of Trump and Hanson. I do not want that to continue. Do you?

Reframing and placing the worker at the centre of the policy debate and self-identifying privilege is the first step. A step towards a synergistic policy framework of positive climate change action united in positive progress for the worker.

Day to Day Politics: They still think it’s about them.

Thursday 15 June 2017

If you didn’t catch what I wrote yesterday about the Finkel Report and the history of a climate and energy policy then here it is again:

”With 10 years now elapsed no party in the history of Australian politics has been so pathetically incompetent with its policy failure on climate change than the Liberal, National parties. Policy failure of this magnitude in some other countries would invoke street protests.

The lay-back attitude of our citizens is equally pathetic. To think that after 10 years we still don’t have an energy policy is an indictment of all politicians and it highlights the failure of our system. Even when we have an opportunity to reach a bi-partisan agreement, as imperfect as it may be, the party who has so frustrated all moves to put the future of the planet first, continues with its defense of coal.

The former failed Prime Minister Tony Abbott leads the charge of Government backbenchers that would forego this opportunity in the interests of the coal producers.

One has to wonder what special knowledge they think the have that would make it superior to the best science available and the dictates of the capitalistic market they so adhere to.

For one or indeed both sides not to take up this chance of a bipartisan solution would be a disgrace for our politicians, tragic for the planet, and an indictment for our people in so much as we stood by inaudibly, allowing it to happen.”

As I perused a wide range of commentary about the Coalition’s meetings on this subject a lot of things were revealed to me. Tony Abbott, for example, the one making all the noise in the party room hadn’t bothered to read the report. That’s not unusual. Christopher Pyne when Education Minister never found time to read The Gonski Report.

The Prime Minister didn’t take part in the debate and left it to Freydenberg to answer all the tough questions.

I asked myself ”where is the leadership of our country?”. John Howard would have said ”this is what we are doing, like it or lump it”. The same goes for Whitlam, Hawke and Keating.

During the extended meeting it was widely reported that 32 MPs spoke, and around a third were unhappy having serious reservations. Of these some were openly hostile. Most were concerned about the future of Australia’s coal industry. Another third – after a decade of debate – wanted further information. Can you believe it?

The remaining third went along with Finkel’s recommendations.

I paused and wondered how it had all come to this. That after 10 years we might still not be there. That the maniacal right-wing wankers of the Coalition might yet still win. Unlike the rest of the world, they don’t recognise that coal doesn’t have any future. Then, when asked about the possibility of getting the support needed  Freydenberg answered:

”Too early to say’.’

”Many colleagues want to understand what is the true impact on price of the clean energy target.”

”And the Cabinet itself hasn’t made any decisions.”

A decade and these fools want more information. I wonder how advanced we would be had Labor’s ‘carbon tax’ been allowed to settle. We would have had an Emissions Trading Scheme settled-in and working.

One thing I have learnt in life is that if you do nothing, nothing will happen.

”Certainly, people are concerned about the future of coal, rightly so too.”

”They understand that coal is a critical source of caseload power”

So is gas, Mr Frydenberg, I’m thinking.

Then I read that George Christensen is so upset that he wants the Government to fund new coal plants. I kid you not. And with our taxes.

The Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce, a chief architect of Abbott’s axing the carbon tax propaganda on Tuesday said that coal ”would not have the advantage that other forms [of electricity] would, but it wouldn’t have any sort of persecutory penalty placed against it”.

When he was asked about Tony Abbott’s view that a CET would be a tax on coal, he answered that there was ”no penalty placed on coal”.

But Abbott is doing what comes naturally to him: lying. He has labelled Finkel’s recommended clean energy target as a “tax on coal” and, on Radio National, Kelly said coal power is still “our lowest cost of electricity generation”. Both are untrue.

Joyce reckons that Labor would oppose the CET if the Coalition adopted it, and said by contrast the government was ”moving to try to make sure we land this”

”We’re moving … We’re all doing our bit. And the Labor party should do their bit.”

The hypocrisy, after 10 years is remarkable. Even breathtaking.

However, the Government is keen to say that this isn’t a decision-making process. They needed more time. Some as yet unnamed Government MPs are suggesting that Turnbull is in danger of losing his job over this and I wonder what ever happened to the good old crash through or crash theory of Gough Whitlam.

Oh well, leaders had balls in those days.

One Liberal MP told Guardian Australia the bulk of the concern expressed related to the risk that the clean energy target would increase power prices. ”We will wear that for the next decade – if prices go up,” the MP said.

Why is everything about self-interest? Or indeed about appeasing Tony Abbott.

One National Party member, Andrew Broad in a moment of pure truthful enlightenment said the general consensus of the meeting was that status quo was not acceptable because it was stifling investment.

”The general consensus was that the old days of opposing everything and a big tax on everything are gone.”

”Those views weren’t really reflected, the concerns were more about whether this policy is going to work or whether it is a Band-Aid over an electricity grid system with structural flaws.”

How refreshing it was to hear someone speak plainly and truthfully when he said that while he was hopeful of his party room landing some energy policy, he had yet to see an opposition go along with a policy in the national interest – including the then Coalition opposition. 

”Even if we do land on a sensible, sound position, I haven’t seen in any point of my career, where oppositions say for the sake of national interest, we will go along it – I just see how partisan it has become on both sides.”

After taking in all the comments on the issue I conclude that Broad is correct. Without a bipartisan agreement the proposal is unlikely to go ahead. The other impediment is that division in Coalition ranks threatens to derail the government’s ambition to end the impasse and lets not forget that Abbott is determined to sink Turnbull.

Fair dinkum, these people are seriously well-educated. And they still think it’s about them.

My thought for the day.

”We all incur a cost for the upkeep of our health. Why then should we not be liable for the cost of a healthy planet.”

PS: And in yesterdays Essential Poll the Coalition was only four points behind Labor.

 

 

The Myth of the Balanced Budget

Something will happen this week that will alert us to the reality of this government’s failures.

Despite all their rhetoric and their pathetic attempts to demonstrate their economic prowess, despite all attempts to gloss over their outright lies, their pretence at understanding economics, this week these champions of capital, of fiscal irresponsibility, will have the honour of taking our gross debt position beyond half a trillion dollars ($500,000,000,000).

Even in their eyes, this is a disaster for their credibility.

Check it out for yourself at the Australian Office of Financial Management. Surely we should celebrate this achievement with a public holiday. Or perhaps more appropriately with a fireworks display. More likely, those who believed their false claims should hang their heads in shame.

It is an unprecedented amount and double that which they inherited from Labor in 2013. Incredibly, they have done this in less than four years, compared with Labor’s six years of solid economic management that included a recession-saving stimulus after the GFC.

One Nation senator, Pauline Hanson was moved to remark, “At this rate we will never be able to pay it back,” she said. “We need to rein in our spending.” That is what we call an observation from ignorance. But let us not be too hard on her. There are 150 lower house members and 75 other senators who think the same way.

Some MP’s are calling for the reinstatement of the debt ceiling. You may remember former treasurer, Joe Hockey wanted to lift the debt ceiling to $500 billion back in 2013. In the end, the whole idea of a ceiling was abandoned following a deal the government did with the Greens.

A quick word of advice for Senator Hanson. No, we won’t be paying it back, not ever. The fact is, a currency-issuing nation can never run out of money, can never owe anything in its own currency, can always afford to buy whatever is for sale in its own currency, and indeed, has a responsibility to ensure all men and women seeking work, are able to find it.

If work cannot be found in private industry they should be employed by the state. As matters stand today, the government is failing in that responsibility because over 700,000 Australians are currently seeking work and cannot find it. That means we are not spending too much, we are spending too little.

The government’s reluctance to spend is consistent with their pursuit of what is, in their eyes, the Holy Grail; a balanced budget, one where spending equals taxation receipts. It is a grossly flawed objective.

To avoid the embarrassment of having to fess up to that failure, to provide work for its citizens, our treasurer Scott Morrison has found a very convenient loophole for his, and the nation’s, future. He calls it “good debt.”

His plan is to somehow separate value-adding “good” debt (infrastructure spending and the like), from the ever burdening “bad” debt (pensions, unemployment and sickness benefits etc), when preparing his next budget, in the hope that it will miraculously produce a balanced budget.

It’s actually a half good, half bad idea. The good half is that he recognises the value of infrastructure spending. The bad half is that he can’t see that welfare spending also puts money into the hands of people who spend it. Money spent on infrastructure is no different from money spent on welfare. It’s still spent!

What he can’t see, is that rather than spend on unemployment welfare, he could harness the idle resources of the unemployed in ways superior to welfare spending, thus raising the living standards of all Australians and in turn, benefit the nation as a whole.

He could give them a job. He could, by his own definition, so easily convert his “bad” debt into “good” debt, by eliminating unemployment benefits in favour of employing the unemployed and the underemployed in public works.

He could then confidently argue that because it is all good debt, there is no need to issue bonds. The money can be classified as “Overt Monetary Financing”, another way of saying, money created out of thin air. In doing so, he would have the so-called “balanced budget”, he so desperately wants.

A balanced budget is all just numbers in a computer. The trick is to have the numbers in the correct place. At the moment they are not, but they could be, so very easily.

Day to Day Politics: I’m sick of Henderson’s bigotry.

Wednesday 14 June

1 Usually when Gerard Henderson appears on ABC Insiders, David Marr is on the Panel. The two don’t see eye to eye and frequently voices are raised.

It was as well Marr was not there Sunday when Henderson inferred that Muslims were given parole because they presented as ”Muslims”.

”(Khayre) as I understand it, committed crimes in prison, engaged in one or two arson attempts within prison. If his name had been Gerard Henderson he wouldn’t have got out on parole, he would’ve served a full term.”

Why did he get out? Because he presented as a Muslim, as an African, because he presented as a persecuted person.”

I think after hearing this, dear old David might have had a stroke. Those who watch regularly would know what I mean.

”I’m not generalising about parole boards across the country, I don’t know anything about parole boards across the country,” Henderson said in his usual toffy superior way.

Insider’s host Barry Cassidy was now somewhat stunned and said; ”but you’re saying there’s a pro-Muslim bias in favour”.

Mr Henderson then referred back to Man Monis, who took customers and staff hostage inside Sydney’s Lindt Cafe.

”How do you explain Monis?” Henderson said.

”Everyone virtually in Australia concedes he shouldn’t have got bail. Everyone can see this guy in Melbourne (Khayre) shouldn’t have got parole, now why did they get them?”

Cassidy then put it to Henderson that it wasn’t just a case of Muslims getting parole in Australia who then went on to commit murder.

”The same happened with white Christians in this country, they were given bail when they shouldn’t have been given bail and they went out and committed murders so I don’t see how it’s …” Mr Cassidy said.

He was abruptly interrupted by Henderson who said; Just a minute. If that were the case I’d condemn it but who were the white Christians in Australia who were given bail and went out and committed murders?”.

Referring to Melbourne ABC worker Ms Meagher, who was murdered by Adrian Bayley while he was on parole, Mr Cassidy said.

”There’s one very close to the ABC”.

”Who committed a murder?” Henderson replied.

Mr Cassidy now getting a little pissed off with him answered. ”no an ABC employee” Karen Middleton one of the other panellists interrupted with an air of disbelief. “he’s talking about the Jill Meagher case”.

Faltering, Henderson replied:

Sure, well that was soft too, he’s not a Muslim,”

Mr Cassidy was now displaying an uncommon touch of anger: “I’m not saying he is a Muslim”.

Things calmed down and they moved unto the subject of the Finkel Report to which I must say Henderson could add nothing to the discussion.

Meanwhile in twitter world the populace was showing its displeasure with Mr Henderson.

Here’s a few:

Van Badham 

✔@vanbadham

Gerard Henderson is seriously running an “it’s so hard to be a white man” line on #insiders. Deservedly slapped down by Barrie Cassidy.

victoria moore @vicsaranmoore

@InsidersABC that is a bigoted viewpoint I could just as easily say it’s because his crimes were against women

 Colin Smith @ColinPSmith

@InsidersABC Gerard you sometimes come out with weird suggestions but this takes the cake.

Now I know by its charter that the ABC must present balanced points of view from both left and right and anyone in between, but one has to ask why it is so difficult to find a panelist from the right who isn’t sarcastic, rude, bigoted and just plain ill mannered. I mean they had to let go that other rude journalist from Sydney go, Piers Ackerman go, why not Henderson.

2 I have written much about the change in world politics and how dissatisfied people have become with establishment politics. Labor Australia should take particular note of Jeremy Corbyn’s performace in England. What can be achieved when people are presented with real alternatives?

Senator Sam Dastyari, who spent the last week volunteering in the UK election had this to say about the lessons to be learnt:

”But if we are lazy, we will take the wrong ones … It would be lazy and wrong to simply look at what worked superficially – a few slogans and stickers – and not look at the underlying causes.”

”Everyone hates the political establishment and you can’t be anti-establishment enough, a need for strong grassroots campaigning and authenticity.”

”Standing for something will always beat standing for nothing – even if people aren’t invested in what that something is.”

”People are desperate for conviction over empty platitudes.”

3 Did you know that last Thursday US conservatives passed a bill repealing all the legislation that President Obama put in place to prevent a repeat of the World Financial Crisis? It just goes to show what warped mind Republicans have. Fortunately it is unlikely too pass the Senate.

With 10 years now elapsed no party in the history of Australian politics has been so pathetically incompetent with its policy failure on climate change than the Liberal, National parties. Policy failure of this magnitude in some other countries would invoke street protests.

The lay-back attitude of our citizens is equally pathetic. To think that after 10 years we still don’t have an energy policy is an indictment of all politicians and it highlights the failure of our system. Even when we have an opportunity to reach a bi partisan agreement, as imperfect as it may be, the party who has so frustrated all moves to put the future of the planet first, continues in its defense of coal.

The former failed Prime Minister Tony Abbott leads the charge of Government backbenchers that would forego this opportunity in the interests of the coal producers.

One has to wonder what special knowledge they think the have that would make it superior to the best science available and the dictates of the capitalistic market they so adhere to.

For one or indeed both sides not to take up this chance of a bipartisan solution would be a disgrace for our politicians, tragic for the planet, and an indictment for our people in so much as we stood by inaudibly, allowing it to happen.

My thought for the day.

”Modern Australia is ”diversity”. In all its forms, together with multiculturalism it defines us as a nation. People of my generation and later should divest themselves of their old and inferred racist superiority.”

 

The Coalition’s path towards destruction

Three reports published in January this year for the World Economic Forum Davos meeting of business and political leaders demonstrate how our government is going in completely the wrong direction and how their actions are wilfully destroying our economy.

Oxfam’s report, ‘An economy for the 99 percent’, details how big business and the super-rich are fuelling the inequality crisis by dodging taxes, driving down wages for their workers and the prices paid to producers, investing less in their business, and using their power to influence politics, all in order to maximize returns to their wealthy shareholders.

The report calls for a fundamental change in the way we manage our economies so that they work for all people, and not just a fortunate few.  Shockingly, eight men own the same wealth as the 3.6 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity.

Their blueprint for a more human economy calls on governments to increase taxes on both wealth and high incomes to ensure a more level playing field, and to generate funds needed to invest in healthcare, education and job creation.  Governments should work together to ensure workers are paid a decent wage, and to put a stop to tax dodging and the race to the bottom on corporate tax.  They must help to dismantle the barriers to women’s economic progress such as access to education and the unfair burden of unpaid care work.

They also call on governments to support companies that benefit their workers and society rather than just their shareholders.

Echoing that call was a report by a group of some 35 CEOs and civil society leaders calling themselves the Business and Sustainable Development Commission entitled ‘Better Business, Better World’ which was described as “a call to action to business leaders”.

They warn that a failure by businesses to pay more attention to the world in which they operate will result in malign consequences, fuelling environmental collapse, the continuing backlash against globalisation and some very bad politics (which we’ve already started to see).

The report insists that businesses must win back trust by fulfilling their part of the social contract.

We anticipate much greater pressure on business to prove itself a responsible social actor, creating good, properly paid jobs in its supply chains as well as in its factories and offices. Business will need to demonstrate that it pays taxes where revenue is earned; abides by environmental and labour standards; respects the national politics and customs where it operates; integrates social and environmental factors in its investment decisions; and, above all, engages as a partner with others to build an economy that is more just.

Sustainable competition depends on all the competitors facing prices that reflect the true costs of the way they do business.  The idea of pricing pollution at its true environmental and social cost has been around for a long time. But the need for strong carbon pricing is becoming ever more urgent to tackle the risk of runaway climate change.

Were business to move to more sustainable models, focussing on the long term and playing a part in achieving the UN’s sustainable development goals, it says, businesses could unlock up to $12 trillion of economic opportunities and create 380 million jobs by 2030.  They even list the 60 biggest market opportunities related to delivering the UN Global Goals

The third report was the Global Gender Gap Index produced by the WEF where Australia ranked a shameful 46 overall out of 144 countries.  In 2006 we ranked 15.  Despite there being no gender gap in educational attainment, “Australia is affected by the updated estimated earned income scale, highlighting the continued existence of a gender gap in income for Australia.”  We ranked 72 on health and survival gender gap and 61 on political empowerment.

While everyone from the World Economic Forum to the Pope recognise that climate change and inequality are two of the greatest challenges facing the world today, the pitiful lack of leadership in our country is taking us in completely the wrong direction.

Rather than pricing carbon, the Coalition continues their unconscionable devotion to coal and their headlong dash towards runaway climate change.

Rather than households sharing in growth, wages aren’t keeping up with price increases and jobs are increasingly becoming part time.

Without unions to amplify their power, ordinary workers’ welfare is a low priority for today’s short-term managers. Mining profits in the March quarter, for example, soared 504 per cent from a year earlier. The average wage of the miners producing that wealth rose 0.6 per cent.

Rather than lifting people out of poverty, penalty rates and family payments have been cut, the superannuation guarantee frozen, and the unemployed subjected to increasingly onerous obligations with penalties for non-compliance.

Rather than reining in property tax concessions and providing more affordable housing, the federal government washes their hands and dumps responsibility onto the states.

Rather than taxing the wealthy higher, the government just cut the rate for those earning over $180,000 by 2% and increased by 0.5% the rate for everyone who doesn’t pay millions to an accountant to hide their income.

Rather than insisting that corporations pay tax to help pay for a healthy skilled workforce, infrastructure, and security, and despite the fact that many of them pay very little to no tax, the government are insisting on slashing tax rates for big business by 5%.

Rather than investing in the education of our youth, they are saddling tertiary students with huge debts.

Instead of insisting on transparency and accountability, this government has taken secrecy to a whole new level.  They despise the ABC and Fairfax press and are trying to legislate to give Rupert Murdoch complete control over our media.  They have placed gags on public servants, and NGOs will only be funded if they forego any advocacy.

Unless they heed the message resonating around the world and change direction, this government will send us on a path towards the destruction of our environment, our democracy and our social fabric.

Day to Day Politics: 20 more unedited sayings of The Donald.

Tuesday 13 June 2017

I was somewhat surprised by the amount of attention my last post of unedited Trump quotes (from “Trump’s Top 73 Craziest Quotes“) received. Here is another 20 on the countdown from 73 to 1. No doubt over the time of his Presidency he will add many more. I was reading that he has already told 624 or so verifiable lies. What has the Presidency of the United States of America come to?

52: DONALD TRUMP ON VLADIMIR PUTIN KILLING JOURNALISTS

“I think our country does plenty of killing also, Joe.” – Trump, seemingly unconcerned that Russian President Vladimir Putin kills journalists who disagree with him, when pressed to condemn such actions in an interview with MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough.

51: DONALD TRUMP ON MUSLIMS

“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” – Donald Trump.

50: DONALD TRUMP TELLS PEOPLE TO ‘ASK THE GAYS’

“The LGBT community, the gay community, the lesbian community — they are so much in favor of what I’ve been saying over the last three or four days. Ask the gays what they think and what they do, in, not only Saudi Arabia, but many of these countries, and then you tell me — who’s your friend, Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton?” – Trump in a boast that provoked widespread ridicule from the LGBT community, June 15, 2016

49 DONALD TRUMP CALLS POOR PEOPLE ‘MORONS’

“My entire life, I’ve watched politicians bragging about how poor they are, how they came from nothing, how poor their parents and grandparents were. And I said to myself, if they can stay so poor for so many generations, maybe this isn’t the kind of person we want to be electing to higher office. How smart can they be? They’re morons.” – Trump, New York Times interview with Maureen Dowd, Nov. 28, 1999.

48 MORE DONALD TRUMP PROFANITY

“These people – I’d like to use really foul language. I won’t do it. I was going to say they’re really full of s**t, but I won’t say that.” – Trump speaking about politicians at a campaign rally in Exeter, New Hampshire.

47: DONALD TRUMP’S PROFANITY

“We’re gonna bring businesses back. We’re gonna have businesses that used to be in New Hampshire, that are now in Mexico, come back to New Hampshire, and you can tell them to go f**k themselves. Because they let you down, and they left!” –  Trump at a rally in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

46: TRUMP DECLARES HISPANIC LOVE WITH TACOS

“Happy Cinco de Mayo! The best taco bowls are made in Trump Tower Grill. I love Hispanics!” – Trump on Twitter.

45:  DONALD TRUMP ON MEXICO

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems…they’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” – Donald Trump

44: DONALD TRUMP: ‘ALL I KNOW IS WHAT’S ON THE INTERNET’

“What do I know about it? All I know is what’s on the internet.” – Trump, on trying to smear a protester who rushed the stage at his campaign rally by tweeting a widely debunked hoax video tying him to ISIS, Meet the Press interview, March 13, 2016.

43: TRUMP ACCUSES CRUZ’S FATHER OF HELPING JFK’S ASSASSIN

“His father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald’s being – you know, shot. I mean, the whole thing is ridiculous. What is this, right prior to his being shot, and nobody even brings it up. They don’t even talk about that. That was reported, and nobody talks about it.” – Trump, suggesting that Ted Cruz’s father may have been involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, despite the fact that no proof exists of any such link, Fox News interview, May 3, 2016.

42: DONALD TRUMP INSULTS THE POPE

“For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful. I am proud to be a Christian. … If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS, which as everyone knows is ISIS’ ultimate trophy, I can promise you that the Pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been President because this would not have happened.” – Trump, in response to remarks by Pope Francis saying that “a person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian.” (February 18, 2016).

41: DONALD TRUMP ON HILLARY’S ‘WOMAN CARD’

“I think the only card she has is the women’s card. She has got nothing else going. Frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don’t think she would get 5% of the vote. And the beautiful thing is women don’t like her, ok?” – Trump, victory press conference, New York, April 26, 2016.

40: DONALD TRUMP: “LOOK AT MY AFRICAN AMERICAN OVER HERE!”

“Look at my African American over here!” –  Trump at a campaign rally (June 3, 2016).

39: DONALD TRUMP ON THE MEDIA

“You know, it really doesnt matter what [the media] write as long as youve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.” –Donald Trump

38: DONALD TRUMP ON MEGYN KELLY

“You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever.” – Trump, insulting Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly over questions she asked during the first Republican primary debate.

37: TRUMP BRAGS ABOUT HIS PENIS SIZE: ‘I GUARANTEE YOU THERE’S NO PROBLEM’

“He referred to my hands, if they’re small, something else must be small. I guarantee you there’s no problem. I guarantee it.” – Trump, defending his penis size in reference to a joke by Republican rival Marco Rubio, GOP presidential debate, March 3, 2016.

36: DONALD TRUMP ON 9/11

“There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey, where you have large Arab populations. They were cheering as the World Trade Center came down.” – Trump, making an unfounded accusation regarding the 9/11 attacks.

35: TRUMP DOESN’T CARE IF HE’S A HYPOCRITE ABOUT MIKE PENCE’S IRAQ VOTE

“I don’t care. It’s a long time ago. And he voted that way and they were also misled. A lot of information was given to people…” –  Trump, forgiving his running mate, Mike Pence, for voting in favor of the Iraq war, saying he was “entitled to make a make mistake,” but adding that Hillary Clinton isn’t (60 Minutes interview, July 17, 2016).

34: DONALD TRUMP ON SUPPORTING THE IRAQ WAR

“Yeah, I guess so.” – Trump, when asked if he supported the Iraq war, despite the fact that he now claims he opposed it, interview with Howard Stern, Sept. 11, 2002.

33: TRUMP OFFERS TO PAY LEGAL FEES FOR SUPPORTERS WHO BEAT UP PROTESTERS

“There may be somebody with tomatoes in the audience. If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously. Okay? Just knock the hell — I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees.” – Trump, encouraging violence at his rallies, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Feb. 1, 2016.

32: DONALD TRUMP ON PUNCHING A PROTESTER IN THE FACE

“I love the old days, you know? You know what I hate? There’s a guy totally disruptive, throwing punches, we’re not allowed punch back anymore. … I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell ya.” – Trump on how he would handle a protester in Nevada, sparking roaring applause from the audience, Feb. 22, 2016.

My thought for the day.

“One who understands others has knowledge; One who understands himself has wisdom.”

 

Day to Day Politics: The young vote. Who will capture it?

Monday 12 June 2017

Around 2 years ago I conducted a workshop with a group of year 12 students at the Catholic college where I live. I wanted to write an article about how prepared they were to vote.I took a rather flippant, or preconceived view as to the extent of their knowledge of the Australian political system and our democratic structures.

I was correct in my assumption. They knew very little about politics in general. It wasn’t a subject of discussion at the dinner table, nor did it, other than a mention in year 7, insinuate its way into the school curriculum. Ideology didn’t form a great part of their critical thinking. Right and wrong did. The young of today are far more open to the fragility of those around them and the acceptance of difference.

When it came to the issues that effected society they displayed knowledge that surprised me. They had an in-depth grasp of all the subjects currently under discussion and said they talked about them. Climate change, the cost of university courses, marriage equality, (a touchy subject for Catholic students) growing inequality, jobs and so on. The only subject in which they seemed unprogressive  was an Australian Republic. I put that down to a bad case of “celebrity” worship.

They thought they didn’t have a voice in society and therefore had a frivolous attitude to politics. When I pointed out that our society gave them the gift of a vote they answered with, “and what’s it worth.” Most thought they wouldn’t register to vote in the next election.

An observation

“The exchange and intellectual debate of ideas needs to be re energised and it is incumbent on the young to become involved.”

Invariably when I study Australian polls it is the 18-30 year olds that support the left of politics. The middle-aged and elderly support the right. 75% of 18- to 24-year-olds voted to remain in the European Union. Not enough bothered to vote. They realised their mistake. In the month after May announced the election 1 million young people registered to vote.

3 million people didn’t vote in our last election. I wonder how many were young people who had so little faith in our system that they didn’t see their vote as an asset for change.

An observation.

”The people’s of all the nations of the world increasingly seem to be having less to say about their destiny’.’

”The “youthquake” was a key component of Corbyn’s 10-point advance in Labour’s share of the vote – exceeding even Blair’s nine-point gain in his first 1997 landslide. No official data exists for the scale of the youth vote but an NME-led exit poll suggests turnout among under-35s rose by 12 points compared with 2015, to 56%. The survey said nearly two-thirds of younger voters backed Labour, with Brexit being their main concern.”

In America a national survey suggested that more young adults, would have supported a candidate like Bernie Sanders so did not vote at all. Sanders, like Corbyn was overwhelmingly supported by the young.

Voters 18–29
2012: Obama 60, Romney 37 (D+23)
2016: Clinton 55, Trump 36 (D+19)

What might have happened had Bernie Sanders been the Democratic representative?

There is no doubt that had the young got off their collective backsides and voted then Brittan would still be part of they European Union. And had those who would be effected most, the 16-17 year olds had the opportunity of voting then a vote to stay might have been a forgone conclusion.

Once people are set in their ways it is almost impossible to change them because an automatic blind of insecurity befalls them. By your late twenties your life experience to that point will determine your values.

The young of today are looking at a world that is a result of what the oldies have made of it. A world of broken political systems, a world of untold wealth that only a few share. They see that rather than improving society we are still regurgitating the same problems. Problems they should have fixed. Ten years to get together a climate and energy policy. You couldn’t stuff it up any better if you tried. In many ways it’s harder now, harder to get a university education and you have to pay for it, harder to buy a house and the debt is enormous.

An observation.

”How can one man hold the future of the planet in his hand while the remaining leaders kowtow to him?”

In their progressiveness the young also see that continuing down the same path of past failures is futile that what is required is a spirit of internationalism, not nationalism foisted on them by elders who should know better. Sure technology has advanced exponentially but our understanding of ourselves has not. No one has yet intellectually answered the question of why we continue to fight each other when we know it doesn’t work.

The world can only change with the marching of young feet willing to make a transformation for the common good. Substantial and worthwhile change often comes with short-term controversy but the pain is worth it for long-term prosperity.

For political parties it’s the one who captures the young vote of today who will create the world of tomorrow. I only hope it is the party who governs for those who have not. And not  the party that represents those who have.

My thought for the day.

”We dislike and resist change in the foolish assumption that we can make permanent that which makes us feel secure. Yet change is in fact part of the very fabric of our existence.”

 

What the UK General Election result means

When Theresa May called a snap election in April, opinion polls had her Conservative Party 20 points ahead of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party. Media commentators predicted her government would be returned with a majority of around 90 seats.

For the entire campaign Corbyn and his fully costed policies – including more spending on government services, a more equitable tax system and re-nationalising former government owned enterprises – were dismissed as unaffordable and unworkable.

The narrative that Corbyn was a ‘disaster’ and that the only option was for people to vote for more austerity and corporate cronyism, was proclaimed not only by the Conservative Party, corporate interests and the mainstream media, but also by a significant portion of his own party.

In spite of this, over a million 18-24 year-olds registered to vote during the campaign. On the final day before registrations closed, a record 622,398 people, two-thirds of them under the age of 35, registered to vote. Turnout on Election Day was 68.7 percent, the highest in 20 years, and appeared to be highest in seats with large numbers of young voters.

The result was the biggest swing to Labour since 1945.

This is a victory for Jeremy Corbyn’s mantra of ‘for the many not the few’ over Theresa May’s hollow rhetoric about ‘strength and stability’, neither of which she now possesses.

Theresa May is still the Prime Minister but she leads a minority government dependent on the erratic, and Brexit-sceptical, Democratic Unionist Party. May’s government is weak and lacking credibility, it is Corbyn’s Opposition who are strong and stable. Labour’s policy platform is now firmly entrenched in the political mainstream and, unlike the government’s austerity measures, have given people hope.

Corbyn didn’t succeed because of an Obamaesque vision, or a Trudeau like charisma, he succeeded because of his policies, and the passion with which he campaigned on them. Those policies are as old and well-worn as Corbyn himself. They come from the same beliefs held by the equally uncharismatic Clement Attlee, who lead Labour to their biggest endorsement ever in 1945. They are the policies of Social Democracy. The foundations of the modern welfare state. We tried them before, and they worked very well. They created a fairer and more equitable society, a society we’ve started to lose.

When it comes to living in a capitalist system, we’ve exhausted our options. There’s nothing new to offer from anywhere on the political spectrum. What many incumbent Right wing governments are offering – austerity, curtailing of civil liberties, and ‘trickle-down’ economics – have all been tried before. They are as harmful today as they were before Social Democracy took up the reins in the wake of the most destructive war in history.

Social Democracy created the National Health Service, it entrenched free education as a right for all children, it generated near full employment and real wage growth. Social Democracy made capitalism bearable. It has educated more people, created more equity and fairness, and resulted in more peace and prosperity for more people than any other political system.

The UK election has shown that Social Democracy belongs very much in the political mainstream. It is austerity measures and corporate greed that is unaffordable and unworkable.

Social Democracy is far from perfect, and it won’t in itself save the planet from war, injustice or the destruction of our environment. It’s obvious however that our current political trajectory is creating more conflict, inequity and environmental degradation. Those who benefit the most from the political status quo are afraid of Social Democracy, they have good reason to be.

Theresa May sends message to a Turnbull government of slogans, secrets and lies.

Stunned by what the press insists is a “shock” election result in Britain where, inexplicably, hollow slogans, austerity economics and Sir Lynton Crosby’s fear tactics fail to win the day for Tory crash test dummy, Theresa May, our political world is reeling this week as MPs joust with shock jocks in a knee-jerk war on terror while Chief Scientist, Alan Finkel obligingly offers our fearless leaders another chance to dodge any real commitment to climate change.

Political actors dig deep. Best mystery shopper is won easily by One Nation’s epic failure to yet provide a coherent, credible explanation of who paid for Pauline’s Jabiru, while stunt of the week goes to Adani’s incredible “Green Light to Carmichael” oratorio Tuesday, a stirring, religious work relayed faithfully by media and featuring standout performances from fossil fuel fan-boy Resources Minister Canavan and Queensland coal-lobby groupie, Annastacia Palaszczuk.

The staging of Green Light … reveals just how far faith-based decision-making has usurped reason across our nation and not just in Queensland. Coal worshippers surrender critical faculties for the sublime irrationality of a cargo cult.

Adani cult followers echo Melanesian millenarians who believed that ritual projects such as building a runway would result in the appearance of coveted western goods. Everyone stopped anything else to await largesse from a great silver bird returning to their sky.  Today, we may substitute port or railway for runway, but parallels are disturbing.

A glance at the Adani cargo cult’s articles of faith reveals a supernatural power; the vise-like grip of group delusion.

Ritual chanting displaces communication. The mine is going ahead! JOBS. Thousands of jobs will now “flow” say the faithful. 10,000 jobs, Adani devotees chant. An ecstatic Canavan ups that to 15,000, this week, just because he can.

Reality check. In 2015, Adani’s expert, Jerome Fahrer, ACIL Allen economist, estimated ongoing full-time employment for only 1464 workers and only at the expense of 1,400 jobs in agriculture, manufacturing and other mining projects.

It may be fewer. CEO Jeyakumar Janakaraj, boasts he will fully automate all of the vehicles used in the mine and the entirety of the process from the mine to the port:

‘When we ramp up the mine, everything will be autonomous from mine to port … this is the mine of the future‘

Jobs will be lost as existing mines are put out of business by Adani’s automated, hugely subsidised competition. Subsidising Adani makes our former car industry protection appear a bargain, writes Bernard Kean.

The $320, 000 royalty holiday -which will cost taxpayers $253 million over the next five years – which has recently been redefined as not a royalty holiday at all but an indefinitely deferred payment arrangement – promised by  Palaszczuk’s government plus the NAIF billion dollar loan, means each job will cost taxpayers $900,000.

Part of the Green Light … stunt is a desperate gamble. The stakes are high. The government is already in over its head.

A state government which has invested $8 billion on coal-related infrastructure between 2009-2014, on an industry which provides only 4% of its revenue, may well keep a poker face, but this week’s press release – declaring a business is up and running without funding is a bizarre stunt which would get any local company into trouble with ASX rules.

In reality, Adani is further from opening its proposed monster mine than it was five years ago, while India turns to cleaner, cheaper solar energy and coal profits decline. India plans to be 60% fossil fuel free in energy in ten years.

No new coal-fired power station will be approved in India. Nor would it be economic. A Gujarat power station set to import half of the Adani mine’s coal, now believes it can’t afford to. No wonder nineteen banks have refused Adani finance.

Gautam Adani, however, is content to cynically blame activists, a theme embraced by the august upholders of traditional but doomed faith-based causes supported by our media, especially The Australian and The AFR.  

“We have been challenged by activists in the courts, in inner-city streets, and even outside banks that have not even been approached to finance the project,” Adani claims,

“We are still facing activists. But we are committed to this project.”

Committed? None of Adani’s legal challenges prevent it from acting on its 2014 government environmental approvals.

A fascinating twist in the coal cult narrative come from Kooyong coal-raker, the terminally conflicted energy and environment minister Josh Frydenberg. He’s all for carbon capture and storage. Don’t we know that the world is full of CCS power plants? We had better get our skates on. Build some. Those in the coal cult are immensely encouraged.

It’s another delusion, if not a blatant lie. Although one small, 528 MW third, $5.5 billion over budget, plant will be commissioned, in Mississippi the reality is there are but two massively expensive plants in commercial operation. These compress CO2 to force previously unreachable oil out of defunct wells in an Enhanced Oil Recovery Process.

Never mind that in the process, 30% of the CO2 escapes back into the atmosphere. Never mind that the plant saves CO2 to avoid global warming only to extract more oil which will boost global warming. Never mind the expense. None of this matters to the true believer. Just don’t expect any of it to bear any relationship to reality.

Simon Holmes a Court calculates just to capture all of the emissions of the Loy Yang power station in Victoria, we’d need a plant 13 times bigger than Petra Nova in Texas. With currency and Australian labour rates, but allowing for some economies of scale and ‘learnings’, that could cost AUD$15–25bn.

Luckily, because we live in an eternal present, now that history itself has been effectively consigned to the dustbin of history, no-one asks Josh about ZeroGen our cute, little 2006 CCS plant project in central Queensland.

ZeroGen was a relatively tiny, 390 MW net coal-fired power station which would capture 65% of its emissions.  It received $188 million in grants but after a projected cost blowout from $1.2bn to $6.9bn the project collapsed six years before its scheduled 2017 completion date, scuttling hundreds of millions of public funding.

Josh is on another mission, of course. He’s been ringing his party’s back-benchers to sell Alan Finkel’s cop-out Energy Review which tenderly preserves the pernicious myth that safe, reliable baseload power can only come from coal or gas – and not those fickle wind turbines that ABCs Chris Uhlmann blamed for the SA blackout.

Judging by his appearance on ABC Insiders, Josh has learned to speak softly and stare a lot whenever Barrie Cassidy asks questions:

So the Finkel Review suggests that you can reduce emissions and cut power prices and keep coal in the mix. It sounds too good to be true?

Bazza is right on the money but Frydenberg praises Dr Finkel’s report. In a vain and irritating quest for authority, he repeats Dr Finkel every chance he gets to praise the Chief Scientist.

Josh still pretends that electricity prices are high not because of his government’s Jihadist mission to privatise all public utilities according to the dictates of Neoliberal Ideology, the Liberal religion but because of something he invents called “regulatory uncertainty”.

Then he’s off, demonising alternatives to fossil fuel power generation. Renewables are dodgy, “a less stable system because we’ve failed to properly integrate wind and solar.”

Happily for the coal lobby,  Dr Finkel’s report allows us to have half of our power generated by burning coal by 2030 but he doesn’t say who’s going to build the new ones we’ll need. Nor who will finance them. Nor how this will help us with our feeble Paris targets. Even given his soft sell, Josh is at odds with the review he is flogging. Finkel is clear

“Investors have signalled that they are unlikely to invest in new coal-fired generation …”

Luckily, few people still watch the ABC, increasingly a Coalition megaphone, – and Barry won’t press him on key details. He allows him to claim that CCS is a real possibility for future investment in lower emission technology.

While Finkel proposes a new regulatory framework, his review leaves open the central issue of a CET, a clean energy target, which it says is “a role for government”. No preferred emissions threshold is offered. The stage is set for the coal lobby and its allies to press to raise the bar high enough to permit the operation of current coal-fired plant.

Above all, although he promised the Senate that his review would help Australia meet its Paris agreement and reduce its economy-wide emissions by 28% below 2005 levels by 2030, The Chief Scientist’s report won’t help.  The modelling Finkel provides for electricity sector emission reductions, 28% below 2005 levels by 2050 suggests a figure about half what it should be. His own Climate Change Authority Report confirms this.

Wages stagnate, consumer confidence is down, unemployment remains high and underemployment is huge. Since his better economic managers came to power with their jobs ‘n growth slogan, Scott Morrison has little to crow about.

Growth has slowed from 2.6% to 1.7%. While unemployment rate may have remained at 5.7%, wages growth has continued to fall below its then record low of 2.1% to an even lower mark of 1.9%.

Yet Morrison is all over the news in an orgy of self-congratulation and oleaginous good cheer this week.

Our Federal Treasurer says our economy is “transitioning” from a mining boom to a more diversified economy. Better times await us. It sounds like a slogan Theresa May sagely rejected. Ross Gittins, moreover, reminds us that mining accounts for 7 per cent of Australia’s total GDP and employs 230,000 people or 2 per cent of Australia’s workforce.

Transitioning is not reflected in investment projections. Mining investment is forecast to fall another 22% next year, and a 6% expected rise in non-mining investment will not compensate. Yet Morrison is mindlessly upbeat.

Despite our government’s worshipping the same neoliberal creed and embracing the same trickle-down tax cuts which bring income inequality in Theresa May’s Britain to 1930s levels, we are nowhere near technical recession here. Nowhere near.

ScoMo, our bullet-dodging Federal Treasurer, juggles dodgy figures to claim that we have overtaken the Netherlands in a record-breaking run of prosperity but only if we misread Dutch data, prefer GDP figures to GDP per capita, confuse job ads with real employment and hope that after mining and real estate, something will turn up.

Alas, Morrison fails to look to Japan. As Saul Eslake shows, Australia would need to avoid consecutive quarters of negative real GDP growth until at least 2024 if it is truly to be able to claim this “world record” as its own.

Greg Jericho also points out Morrison is factually incorrect. Australia beat the Netherlands in June 2013. The Dutch avoided a technical recession for only 87 consecutive quarters. But technical recession is a “dopey” measure. We are being conned. In 1982, Holland’s economy had shrunk by 2.5% in one year even if “technically” it had avoided recession.

Similarly, in December 1991, three months into our golden run, the Australian economy was 1% smaller than it was the previous year. Technical recessions rely on GDP. If we use GDP per capita we have had two recessions since 1991.

Yet these are both arbitrary measures. We may as well use the percentage of working age people in work.

On this measure our record of economic activity is pathetic.

Australia’s economy grew by a whopping 0.3 % in the first three months. Nothing we could do about that, the Treasurer says.  He blames the weather. It could be a genuine world first.

“Weather conditions during the March quarter did affect exports,” Morrison says. … Exports declined by 0.6% in the quarter, detracting from growth … particularly in the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie.”

Morrison’s waffle does little for the 730,000 Australians out of work and the 1.1 million who are underemployed but our national pride rallies after a full body Reiki massage from visiting US Alliance evangelist James Clapper, whose appearance is part of the total care package conferred upon the nation by our special relationship with Washington.

The most marvellous contribution of Coalition politics to our national well-being, apart from the politicisation of the public service including, now, our Chief Scientist is surely our nation’s US sycophancy, a state of servile dependency on one great and powerful friend given expression by “man of steel”, US lackey and war criminal, John Winston Howard.

“Lying rodent” Howard, as Russell Galt swears metadata pack-rat, AG Brandis called the then PM, was inspired to invoke the US Alliance while flying home post 9/11.

“While high over the Indian Ocean”, he lyrically records, he saw how we could join a “war on terror” proposed by the US. It led us to send troops to Afghanistan, from whence some were destined never to return, and to provoke a wave of international terrorism by illegally invading Iraq on a pretext of seizing WMDs.

Howard, as Albert Palazzo’s recent declassified report shows, aimed to boost our US Alliance, but his big success was simply in helping make Australia a much better target for terrorism, as Paul Keating pointed out last year. It’s been the elephant in the room ever since however much MPs gibber about how terrorists hate our way of life.

Howard’s grand claims are exposed. Enforcing UN resolutions, stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction and global terrorism –  even rebuilding Iraq after the invasion, are dismissed as “mandatory rhetoric” – a term which also fits the treacle from a series of US VIPs visiting Australia recently to profess America’s undying love for us.

We love to be flattered. Happy clappers abound at the National Press Club’s US-Alliance revivalist meeting in Canberra, Wednesday, when former Director of National Intelligence, James Robert Clapper Jr drops in again for a post-retirement rub-down after his top-secret visit here last year. This week it’s a very public sharing of the love.

ANU kindly gives Lucky Jim a gig as a Vice-Chancellor’s Distinguished Professor and a spot at the ANU Crawford Australian Leadership Forum where the old spook will put the wind up the nation’s movers and shakers.

Keep an eye on China, he says. Beijing may interfere with your politics just like Moscow did with ours. The Russians are not our friends, he warns. The Donald is done for. Watergate pales in comparison to Trump’s Russian allegations.

While cooking Trump’s goose, Clapper is also here to remind us all how much the US means to us in trade and regional security and how we need to keep faith with our big brother and suffer Trump awhile. Our bonds go deep.

“The values (and interests) we share, the things that fasten our two countries together, far transcend a transitory occupant of the White House,” he promises. He’s not wrong: the US has been doing us over for decades.

We like it that way. Not one of the assembled hacks can bring themselves to ask soapy Jim why in 2007, only a few years after it was signed by John Howard, our AUSTFA, a “free trade” agreement supposed to increase Australian access to the US market led to the highest trade deficit we have ever had with any trading partner.

DFAT statistics reveal that the United States is Australia’s second-largest two-way trading partner in goods and services, worth $70.2 billion, as of 2015 yet, Australia imports more than double the amount from the U.S. and is 15th on the list of U.S. principal export destinations.

So much to fear, so little time. Clapper also adds a dash of Brandis’ Sinophobia as he warns how China may try to buy in to our democratic processes. Beware of donations and watch out for fake news, he adds, helpfully. Who would have thought?

Clapper would applaud our surveillance strategies; urge us to keep our metadata. No-one asks him why his NSA illegally collected data at all on millions of Americans or why he chose to deny this in 2013, before a senate committee, inspiring calls by US lawmakers for his indictment for perjury.

Such a challenge would amount to blasphemy. It is an article of modern Australian political faith that any self-respecting scribbler sing praise to our superiors, or their mates, including visiting American political mendicants.

Anything less would be heresy. And Illegal. As Gillian Triggs reminds us we are fast making it illegal to challenge our government. Triggs, of course, is by no means alone in voicing her concern over a government by secrets and lies.

Only October, for example, UN special rapporteur, independent expert Michel Forst recommended we continue to press for an Immigration Department that is open and accountable and which doesn’t hunt down whistle-blowers.

Forst’s report concludes that Australian governments have effectively gagged civil society advocates with secrecy laws, funding cuts and restrictive contracts that prevent them speaking up about human rights abuses.

It’s a theme taken up by Lenore Taylor who reflects on the Tory automaton Theresa May’s election loss. Scott Ryan, Special Minister of State and runaway winner of biggest family bible at government swearings-in is keen to tell groups they can get funds from government but only if they pack in the advocacy lark. Give up their reason for being.

Lenore is right. Democratic government is about enabling advocacy. Respect. And it’s about governing for all. If there were a message in it for Turnbull it might go like this:

You can’t deliver on your hollow promises of jobs and growth, so stop making them. Start listening. You’ll see that you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.

Heed the opinion polls. Stop the play-acting. Spare us the speeches and the sloganeering. To adapt a slogan on a billboard in the UK somewhere: Jobs and Growth, my arse.

Take a long hard look at yourself. If all you are is a front for the bankers, businessmen and big investors, if all you can do is subsidise a dying coal industry, still hell-bent on profit at the cost of life on this planet, stop faking it.

There’s never been a more exciting time to call a snap election.

If all you can offer are tax cuts to the rich, spare us the hokum; the empty cliches of trickle down economics. The drivel about flexible hours and delivery options. Stop the con about non-existent growth in jobs and higher wages.

Above all, stop pretending terror is cured by curtailing our freedom and riding rough-shod over our legal system. Get out of America’s wars, however, much you may be flattered by your wily big brother’s attentions.

Or continue to repress advocacy and free speech; repeat your meaningless slogans about national security. Persecute the poor, the frail and the elderly. But you won’t stay in government very long.  You don’t deserve to. As May just found, the people are on to you.

Trump becomes irrelevant

By Ad astra

We saw it coming, even before his election as President of the United States of America. Few gave this man any credence as he campaigned against Republican after Republican for the GOP nomination. His ideas lacked substance, his policies were threadbare, even nihilistic, and his persona unbefitting such high office. He was bereft of the attributes necessary to become the world’s most powerful person. Not many gave him a chance; even the pollsters wrote him off.

Yet against the odds he prevailed and assumed the mantle, to the astonishment of most of the world, but to the delight of the millions who voted him in on the strength of his promise to ‘Make America Great Again’, to restore her to her former glory, to retrieve American jobs lost to other countries, and to restore prosperity to those who felt emasculated and disaffected: the unemployed middle class male workers in America’s rust belt. Desperate for a job and a better life, they grasped at his promises, clung to his garments, believed his every word. Most of them still do.

Since his election though they have been confronted by many moments of truth. Now his supporters are beginning to realize that Trump’s promises are without substance.

They saw him try yet fail to demolish Obamacare and replace it with Trumpcare. The saga goes on even now. They saw him retreat from building the Mexican wall at Mexico’s expense, a massively expensive and pointless project that will never be funded by Mexico, and will likely never eventuate. They saw him promise to block the immigration of people from six predominantly Muslim countries, saw him flamboyantly sign an Executive Order to action this, only to have it blocked in court after court as unconstitutional. Now he’s threatening to appeal to the Supreme Court where he has a majority of Republican appointees, hoping it will uphold his Orders. To do so though will require the learned judges to deem that his Orders are in fact constitutional – a massive ask of these high ranking and very responsible public officials.

His supporters will be watching him as he presents to the House a gargantuan budget that is exceptionally punitive to the least well off, while giving massive tax cuts to the top end of town. They will be watching him as he tries to fulfill his promise of gigantic infrastructure spending. Yet all along the way he is encountering resistance from his own party as well as the Democrats. At town hall meetings GOP members are reeling from the reactions of their constituents to Trump’s agenda, and already fear an electoral backlash at the mid-term elections.

Just when it seemed that Trump was incapable of keeping any of his promises, along came the Paris Climate Change Accord, which he promised America would abandon. This time though, with these historic words uttered on 2 June 2017 in bright sunlight in the White House Rose Garden, Trump fulfilled his promise to pull out of the accord, which he has described as a job killer: “As of today, the United States will cease all implementation of the non-binding Paris accord and the draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country. So we’re getting out but we’ll start to negotiate and we will see if we can make a deal that’s fair. And if we can, that’s great. And if we can’t, that’s fine.”

Trump, at his paranoid worst, claimed that other nations were ‘laughing’ at America and that the accord was “about other countries gaining an advantage over the United States.”

He added that the US would endeavour to either re-enter the Paris accord or propose a new deal: “…on terms that are fair to the United States, its businesses, its workers, its people, its taxpayers. As President, I can put no other consideration before the wellbeing of American citizens. The Paris climate agreement is simply the latest example of Washington entering into an agreement that disadvantages the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries, leaving American workers, who I love, and taxpayers to absorb the cost in terms of lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories and vastly diminished economic production.”

The decision means the US will pull out of the Green Climate Fund, which Trump insisted cost the country ‘a vast fortune’.

Immediately the fractures began to appear.

Even the White House is divided. While his daughter Ivanka, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson all opposed Trump’s exit, neo-fascist adviser Stephen Bannon of Breitbart ill repute, climate denier Scott Pruitt, Trump’s so-called Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, and even ‘alternative facts’ Kellyanne Conway manoeuvred to have Trump withdraw, and when he did, applauded his move, as did the hand-picked crowd in the Rose Garden. Dutifully, Vice President Mike Pence defended Trump’s decision, calling the issue of climate change ‘a paramount issue for the left’!

Throughout the world, leaders expressed disappointment and dismay at Trump’s announcement, and vowed to continue their efforts to combat global warming as per the Paris Accord. Their message was clear: if you want to go it alone, count us out. Here is an abbreviated account of their reactions extracted from the Sydney Morning Herald of 1 June:

“EU climate action commissioner, Miguel Arias Canete, said: ”…the bloc deeply regrets the unilateral decision by the Trump administration” but went on to vow: ”…the world can continue to count on Europe for global leadership”.

“Following his announcement, Trump spoke by phone to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and British Prime Minister Theresa May to explain his decision.

“Italy, France and Germany said they regretted Trump’s decision and dismissed his suggestion that the global pact could be revised. In a rare joint statement they said: “We deem the momentum generated in Paris in December 2015 irreversible and we firmly believe that the Paris Agreement cannot be renegotiated since it is a vital instrument for our planet, societies and economies.”

“In a five-minute direct exchange French President Emmanuel Macron told Trump that while France would continue to work with Washington, it would no longer discuss climate issues with the United States.

“Macron, who made a televised address in French and English, said Trump had “…committed an error for the interests of his country, his people and a mistake for the future of our planet. I tell you firmly tonight: we will not renegotiate a less ambitious accord. Don’t be mistaken on climate; there is no plan B because there is no planet B.”

“German Chancellor Angela Merkel and India’s leader, Narendra Modi, pledged their support for the climate accord during meetings in Berlin.

“Justin Trudeau said he was deeply disappointed at the US decision. “Canada is unwavering in our commitment to fight climate change and support clean economic growth.”

“The Prime Minister of Belgium, Charles Michel, called it ‘a brutal act.’ Five Nordic countries wrote a last-minute letter to Trump, saying the Paris accord was a commitment ‘to our children’. “We must reduce global warming”. The leaders of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden said in a short, joint missive: “The effects are already visible in all parts of our planet. It is of crucial importance that all parties stick to the Paris Agreement.”

“The Prime Minister of Belgium, Charles Michel, called it ‘a brutal act’.

Argentine Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, told the Italian daily La Repubblica that a withdrawal from the agreement amounted to “a disaster for everyone”.

“Premier Li Keqiang of China, in Berlin for meetings with Merkel, said before Trump’s decision that his country remained committed to the fight against climate change and to participating in international efforts for a greener world. China, the world’s biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, stands to gain international credit for standing by the Paris Agreement, but it would not be able to fill the void on its own with the US abandoning the treaty. “China will continue to uphold its commitments to the Paris climate agreement”…confirming a position his country agreed to alongside the United States in 2014, in what proved to be a watershed moment for the ultimate passage of the landmark accord the following year.

“Jane J. Chigiyal, ambassador from the Pacific island nation of Micronesia, said her people were already feeling the acute impact. She called sea rise “…an existential issue. Our contribution to this problem, this challenge, is very small, yet we will continue to do our part.”

At home, Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, fearful of upsetting Trump, said that Australia was ‘disappointed’, but remained committed to the Paris Agreement, and confirmed that they still believe Australia’s targets are achievable.

United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric said: “The decision was a major disappointment for global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote global security.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “…remains confident that cities, states and businesses within the United States – along with other countries – will continue to demonstrate vision and leadership by working for the low-carbon, resilient economic growth that will create quality jobs and markets for 21st century prosperity”.

Even in the United States, significant people spoke out strongly.

Picking up on his attempt at alliteration: “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris”, the Mayor of Pittsburgh reminded him that in Pittsburgh only 20% voted for Trump, adding: “I can assure you that we will follow the guidelines of the Paris Agreement for our people, our economy, and the future.”

The Mayor of Pittsburgh was not alone. Washington Governor Jay Inslee told reporters that states are free to act on their own to reduce pollution and added that Washington State, New York and California are forming the United States Climate Alliance, a coalition that will convene states committed to working to uphold the Paris climate agreement. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe said Mr Trump’s decision was a ‘disgrace’.

The US Conference of Mayors said it strongly opposed Trump’s action and vowed that American mayors would continue efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming.

There is more, as reported in news.com.au:

”Barack Obama said the withdrawal meant the Trump administration had made the US one of “a small handful of nations that reject the future…I’m confident that our states, cities and businesses will step up and do even more to lead the way and help protect for future generations the one planet we’ve got”.

“Al Gore, who created the climate change documentary An Inconvenient Truth, said the decision was “reckless and indefensible, undermined America’s standing in the world and threatened to damage humanity’s ability to solve the climate crisis in time… but make no mistake: if President Trump won’t lead, the American people will.”

“Even oil companies voiced opposition to pulling out of the agreement, with Exxon Mobil Corp and ConocoPhillips arguing that the US is better off with a seat at the table so it can influence global efforts to curb emissions.

“Walt Disney CEO Robert Iger and Tesla boss Elon Musk both announced their resignation from the President’s Council over the withdrawal.

“Weather.com mocked the President today with sarcastic headlines splashed across its homepage. “Hmm, I did not see a forecast for shade when I checked the Weather Channel app this morning. Yet here it is!, tweeted Politico senior editor Alex Weprin.

“UK environmental law firm ClientEarth’s chief executive James Thornton said: “Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement is an act of vandalism that has the potential to do great harm to current and future generations.”

“Critics argued that Mr Trump’s decision amounts to the US shirking its responsibility as the leader of the free world.”

Applause for Trump was confined to a handful of his advisers, his ardent followers in Trumpland, and disappointedly, to a handful of climate denier conservatives here, the usual suspects: Eric Abetz, Craig Kelly, Ian Macdonald, Chris Back, Tony Pasin, Ian Goodenough, George Christensen and of course the arch-denier, One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts, all of whom would have Australia follow Trump.

Adam Bandt was the only politician who exhibited guts, calling Trump a ‘climate criminal’ who should become a ‘world pariah’. “Trump has just threatened our security and our way of life. Time to dump Trump. Trump’s ‘axis of denial’ is a greater threat to global security than terrorism.”

So where does Trump’s action leave him? The Emperor with no clothes?

Hans Christian Anderson’s tale is an allegory that portrays a situation where many people believe something that is not true. The nub of the story is that, knowing the Emperor’s love of the finest clothes, two swindlers claiming to be weavers entered the Emperor’s city and proclaimed they were capable of making the finest, lightest, most magnificent cloth the world has ever seen. So extraordinary was this cloth it was invisible to anyone who was incompetent or stupid.

The latter day Emperor, Donald John Trump, believing the climate denier swindlers, dressed in their invisible ‘climate change is a hoax’ finery and appeared before the people of the world to announce his retreat from the Paris Accord. His ardent supporters, not wanting to be seen as incompetent or stupid, wildly applauded his bold announcement.

But far from it being left to a small boy to exclaim: “But the Emperor has no clothes”, leaders from around the world, and even in his own country, seeing how naked was Trump, and knowing that they were neither incompetent or stupid, quickly pronounced in unambiguous language: “The Emperor has no clothes”.

Although nominally the most powerful person in the world, he now stands naked and exposed.

Image from madison.com

Trump has become irrelevant.

This article was originally published on The Political Sword.

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Josh, I don’t believe a word you or your party says

A few months after the 2013 election, then Environment Minister Greg Hunt addressed the Clean Energy Council Annual meeting to outline the Coalition’s plans to protect the environment and tackle climate change after they repealed the carbon price.

His words, as it turns out, meant absolutely nothing.

Perhaps Australia’s most important natural asset – the Great Barrier Reef – is a particular focus of the Coalition’s Clean Water strategy. Our Reef 2050 plan seeks to tackle the risks to reef health with a $40 million Reef Trust to fund major projects.

On top of the $40 million cut from the Reef Water Quality Program in 2014, the government cut a total of $10 million from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Australian Institute of Marine Science.

The Government accepts the science of climate change. The Government has made a commitment to provide an additional $9 million over three years for the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility to support practical research and guidance on how to deal with the challenges of climate change.

Alongside the Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO, NCCARF plays a vital role in making our world-leading research on climate change actionable.

The government cut hundreds of millions in funding, and hundreds of jobs, from the CSIRO and BoM and appointed venture capitalist Larry Marshall to head the CSIRO.  His view is that human-induced climate change is now confirmed, so there is now less need for climate science.  He is more interested in commercial ventures that will make a profit.

The 2017 federal budget axed funding for the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF), an agency that provides information to decision-makers on how best to manage the risks of climate change and sea level rise.

We are committed to our unconditional emissions reduction target to reduce emissions by 5 per cent below 2000 levels by the year 2020.

With a 2020 reduction target of 5 per cent, Australia would need to almost halve its emissions in the decade to 2030, and have only 14 per cent of the recommended carbon budget left for the next two decades.

The Government’s new commitment plans to cut emissions by 26 per cent by 2030 on 2005 levels.  Why the change in base year?  To make the percentage sound higher.

In 2005 Australia emitted 532 million tonnes of carbon. Reducing that by 26 per cent will shave 138 million tonnes off our accounts. That would take our annual emissions to 394 million tonnes.

If we took the 1990 starting point, as those who initially signed up to Kyoto do, then getting to 394 million tonnes would actually be just an 8 per cent reduction.  If we stuck with 2000, the reduction would be just over 20%.

Ongoing developments in solar power technology provide enormous opportunities for Australian households and families to take direct action to reduce energy consumption and household emissions, while at the same time delivering real savings for family budgets.

Our Direct Action Plan therefore encompasses support for solar power through our million roofs and solar towns and schools programmes.

The Government will provide $500 million for the One Million Solar Roofs Programme; and a further $50 million each for the Solar Towns and Solar Schools Programmes.

The One Million Solar Roofs Programme didn’t even last three weeks after Hunt’s speech.  There was no mention of it in the December 2013 MYEFO but it took until May for Hunt to confirm the program had been scrapped.

The Solar Schools program was implemented by Labor who funded solar installations in over 5000 schools.  I cannot find any record of the Coalition continuing the program beyond 2013.

The Solar Towns program gave out three rounds of funding totalling less than $1.5 million before it was replaced by the $5 million Solar Communities program at the last election which has yet to deliver any funding.

These initiatives are in addition to support for renewable energy through the Renewable Energy Target and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, which is funding projects as well as research across the spectrum of renewable energy sources, including bioenergy, hydropower, geothermal, ocean energy and wind.

By June 2015, legislation to cut the renewable energy target (RET) had passed Federal Parliament, along with the contentious inclusion of native wood waste as a possible fuel source.

The 2014 budget sought to abolish ARENA altogether.  A protracted battle has seen it have to accept funding cuts of $500 million rather than the $1.3 billion initially proposed by the Turnbull government in its omnibus bill in September last year.

The final Direct Action measure I want to mention is our commitment to plant 20 Million Trees by 2020 to re-establish green corridors and urban forests on both public and private land.

The 20 Million Trees Programme will be complemented by a range of other new government initiatives, including the Green Army and the National Landcare Programme

The 2014 budget cut $483 million from the National Landcare Program to help pay for the original $700 million allocated for the Green Army.  But in his first mid-year budget update in December 2015, Turnbull cut that by more than $300 million before abolishing the Green Army altogether the next year.

Based on progress reports, it’s estimated 2.89 million native trees have been planted but this will make very little difference when more than 20 million trees are cleared each year in Queensland alone.

As I listened to a very ‘sincere’ Josh Frydenberg on Insiders bemoaning the toxic politics that has caused energy investment to dry up whilst exhorting the Labor Party to deliver the certainty that business needs, I just shook my head at his audacity.

Josh, I don’t believe a word you or your party says.

This self-serving bunch of boondogglers will be the death of us – literally

Even before they could possibly have read Chief Scientist Alan Finkel’s energy report, the coal cheerleaders from the backbench of the Coalition have come out swinging.

Tony Abbott jumped the gun, saying two days before the report was even released that “Anything that makes it impossible for us to bank new, efficient coal-fired power stations I think is a big mistake.”

Eric Abetz has accused Dr Finkel of making “creative assumptions” to come up with his recommendations for a Clean Energy Target –  a bit rich from a party whose budget is completely based on very optimistic assumptions about wage growth and surpluses just around the corner.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said he won’t support any reform that would discourage coal, saying he wanted to make sure the nation could build new coal-fired power stations­. “I believe baseload emissions are generated by a stock that has been providing cheap power for us for a long while, and that’s coal,” he said.

But it is Craig Kelly, chairman of the Coalition backbench committee on the environment, who has gone into hyperdrive in leading the coal push, calling for yet another report to be done into the economic effect of setting aggressive emissions reduction targets.

He said he would not support a benchmark emission target of 0.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour, which is the level Dr Finkel has used in his report to model economic effects.

“We had times here last month when 1,000 wind turbines spread from South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland were delivering zero electricity,” Mr Kelly told Saturday AM.  “I would want to see whatever target that we go for, I want to see several different attempts at modelling just to see exactly what costs that would have on electricity in this nation…. we have to be very conscious of the damage that we can do to the economy if the target is too low.”

This sort of facile, and entirely predictable, opposition completely ignores the enormous cost to the economy of the detrimental health effects of particulate matter, an issue that Craig Kelly seems to have forgotten was a key component of his campaign in the 2010 election.

From his maiden speech in 2010:

“I consider myself an environmentalist. As our cities and roads become more and more congested, I am concerned about the health effects from fine particulate matter in diesel exhaust, as studies in California show that diesel exhaust leads to 9,000 premature deaths annually. That is why I oppose Labor’s intermodal freight terminal at Moorebank.”

Particulate matter (PM), includes the tiny particles of fly ash and dust that are expelled from coal-burning power plants.

In October 2013 the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer said both air pollution and “particulate matter” would now be classified among its Group 1 human carcinogens.  They cited data indicating that in 2010, over 220,000 deaths from lung cancer worldwide resulted from air pollution, and said there was also convincing evidence it increases the risk of bladder cancer

In 2010, Abt Associates issued a study commissioned by the Clean Air Task Force, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization, quantifying the deaths and other health effects attributable to fine particle pollution from coal-fired power plants. The study found that over 13,000 deaths and tens of thousands of cases of chronic bronchitis, acute bronchitis, asthma-related episodes and asthma-related emergency room visits, congestive heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, dysrhythmia, ischemic heart disease, chronic lung disease, peneumonia each year are attributable to fine particle pollution from U.S. coal-fired power plants.

In March 2011, the American Lung Association released the report, “Toxic Air: The Case for Cleaning Up Coal-fired Power Plants,” on the hazardous air pollutants emitted from power plants. The report found that coal-fired power plants produce more hazardous air pollution in the United States than any other industrial pollution sources.  More than 400 coal-fired power plants located in 46 states across the country release in excess of 386,000 tons of hazardous air pollutants into the atmosphere each year.

According to an EPA report also released in March 2011, “The Benefits and Costs of the Clean Air Act from 1990 to 2020”, the annual dollar value of benefits of air quality improvements from 1990 to 2020 will reach a level of approximately $2.0 trillion in 2020. The benefits would be achieved as a result of Clean Air Act Amendment-related programs and regulatory compliance actions, estimated to cost approximately $65 billion by 2020.

Most of the benefits (about 85 percent) are attributable to reductions in premature mortality associated with reductions in ambient particulate matter: “as a result, we estimate that cleaner air will, by 2020, prevent 230,000 cases of premature mortality in that year.”  The remaining benefits are roughly equally divided among three categories of human health and environmental improvement: preventing premature mortality associated with ozone exposure; preventing morbidity, including acute myocardial infarctions and chronic bronchitis; and improving the quality of ecological resources and other aspects of the environment.

According to the report: “The very wide margin between estimated benefits and costs, and the results of our uncertainty analysis, suggest that it is extremely unlikely that the monetized benefits of the CAAA over the 1990 to 2020 period reasonably could be less than its costs, under any alternative set of assumptions we can conceive. Our central benefits estimate exceeds costs by a factor of more than 30 to one, and the high benefits estimate exceeds costs by 90 times. Even the low benefits estimate exceeds costs by about three to one.”

Craig Kelly is the one who, when offered a briefing on climate change by three of Australia’s leading scientists, invited along three IPA non-scientists to counter their arguments.

If Kelly’s gang of coal lovers are so concerned about the economy, they should be researching the cost of health issues resulting from the continued use of coal.  Or did Mr Kelly’s concern for our health only extend to his constituents and evaporate as soon as he got elected?

This self-serving bunch of boondogglers* will be the death of us – literally.

*(boondoggle:  spend money or time on unnecessary, wasteful, or fraudulent projects.)

Day to Day Politics: The weird political times we live in.

Saturday 10 June 2017

In my Thursday post I suggested that Friday would be a big news day. I said:

Some time Friday we will know the outcome of the English election, James Comey will have given some explosive evidence before the Senate Intelligence Committee, in the PM the Chief Scientist, Alan Finkel will have delivered his report into how best to handle Climate Change and secure Australia’s energy future and the Prime Minister will have attended the Premiers conference.”

I will start with what has happened at the time of my writing and perhaps it might have all come together.

1 Allow me to take you back in time to the 2013 Election Campaign. Tony Abbott was being interviewed by Kerry O’Brien and they moved onto the NBN. Abbott weirdly asked O’Brien to go easy on him because he didn’t know much about it. That’s weird, I thought. And it was the case. Being the Luddite that he is he knew nothing. He thought it was just to watch movies or porn. Consequently, he made a complete idiot of himself and O’Brien took delight it exposing his lack of knowledge.

Why do I mention this? Well he exhibits the same lack of knowledge when it comes to climate change. His inability to grasp the detail of a subject is well-known. He has never been able to explain just what Direct Action is or indeed the cost of it. Climate change was always a political tool on the way to the Prime Ministership, as Peta Credlin has freely admitted.

The weird thing about the latest proposal to deal with action on the climate and the security of our power supplies is that the proposal by the Chief Scientist closely resembles the one John Howard took to the electorate 10 years ago and that the then Minister for the environment Malcolm Turnbull lost his leadership over.

How appalling it is that ten years of the nation’s time has been wasted by men of such little talent. Men like Abbott, Hunt, Joyce who so universally support coal and lie through their teeth to protect it.

How weird it is that when Labor introduced a “carbon tax” in 2010 Tony Abbott and every major business interest group thought it was against the best interests of capitalism, and with the aid of propaganda eventually sunk it. Now with the exception of Abbott the same misguided business morons are pleading for certainty.

You would fall over laughing if it wasn’t so serious. The time to do all this was a decade ago but politics got in the way. Pitiful, isn’t it?

The Guardian reported that; “Finkel is also proposing that a clean energy target (CET) replace the current renewable energy target in 2019 or 2020. The chief scientist floated the idea in Thursday’s briefing that the CET threshold should be set at either 0.5, 0.6 or 0.7 tonnes of CO2 per megawatt hour.”

It is a substantialially weaker proposal than the one John Howard proposed.

A word of caution though as Peter Hannam writes in Fairfax:

The result is a report that is as much a roadmap for politicians to get out of the energy and climate mire rather than one that serves Australia’s climate goals – and what other nations expect of us.”

Back to The Guardian:

“Two weeks ago, in a briefing, Finkel is understood to have told state energy ministers that a CET [clean energy target] and an emissions intensity trading scheme – a form of carbon trading for the electricity market ruled out by the Turnbull government – were more or less interchangeable in terms of their impact on power costs.”

Even though Labor has been the recipient of brutal, entirely cynical treatment on climate policy for a decade they show all the signs of taking a bi-partisan approach.

Its time for the conservatives to admit they were wrong,to cut the crap, get the job done, defeat Abbott and his cohort of coal loving climate deniers and give the public some reason to have faith in those it elects. It’s a time for compromise that my never walk this way again.

2 Perhaps weird is the wrong word to describe James Comey’s Senate testimony. But it is apt to describe man as weird as Trump who finds himself in so much trouble so early in his Presidency. I said after he won that we would experience controversy on a daily basis.

Anyway, Comey gave it to Trump with all guns firing, saying that he lies and believes that Russia did in fact meddle in the election.

In his three-hour highly explosive testimony he said that; “The Trump administration lied to smear the reputation of Comey and the FBI following his dismissal”. Also:

  • Comey documented every meeting he had with Trump because he thought the president might lie about what had taken place;
  • He passed details of the meetings – via a friend – to the press in the hope of spurring the appointment of a special counsel;
  • He believes that Trump directed him to shut down the FBI’s investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

One really has to wonder just how long this president can last. He is married to his own ego with his conscience a distant cousin.

Comey’s evidence did not deliver a knockout blow to the Trump presidency, but a TKO was close and Trump’s integrity is on the ropes if it wasn’t already. The fact is it’s hard to see him going the distance.

‘The administration chose to defame me and, more importantly, the FBI by saying that the organisation was in disarray, that it was poorly led, that the workforce had lost confidence in its leader.

”Those were lies, plain and simple, and I’m so sorry that the FBI workforce had to hear them, and I’m so sorry the American people were told them.”

It’s my judgment that I was fired because of the Russia investigation. I was fired in some way to change, or the endeavor was to change, the way the Russia investigation was being conducted. That is a very big deal.”

Yes, it is fast reaching Watergate proportions. Expect another leak shortly. At least the fool has stopped tweeting. I’m waiting for the tapes. Or is that another lie?

3 The English people lost the election by a long shot. They voted their way into a quagmire of Brexit uncertainty.

Theresa May’s egocentric self-interest decision to go early badly backfired. Thus far from what I have read in the English papers the conservatives are none to happy, it’s a ”catastrophic” result to the point where the Tories are likely to have a new Prime Minister by this time next week.

At the time I stopped writing May had lost her grip on power. Weird, isn’t it?

Boris Johnson, would have a little smile on his face, Jeremy Corbyn an even bigger one.

4 The Premier’s meeting had not ended when I put this to bed. Weird isn’t it.

My thought for the day.

Could some enlightened person please explain what Australian values are and how they are uniquely different to other country’s?”

 

Day to Day Politics: Unedited sayings of The Donald

Friday 9 June 2017

Some time today we will know the outcome of the English election, James Comey will have given some explosive evidence before the Senate Intelligence Committee, in the PM the Chief Scientist, Alan Finkel will have delivered his report into how best to handle Climate Change and secure Australia’s energy future and the Prime Minister will have attended the Premiers conference.

Indeed there is a lot happening and for a writer who likes to think that on a daily basis he is at least abreast of the times all these events are a little out of sequence.

Undoubtedly I shall cover all of these events in the next few days but today is the problem. What do I write about today? After thinking for a few minutes I confess I weakened and went for a tried and true headline: “Trump’s Top 73 Craziest Quotes“. “73,” you might say. Yes, 73. Tony Abbott is the only other politician I know who comes close. I know 73 is a lot so I thought I would do 20 each week otherwise I would render you all brain-dead if you read them all in one hit. So here is the bottom 20. Hang onto your seats!

If you are desperate to see the 73 in total, go here, otherwise another 20 next week.

73: DONALD TRUMP ON MAKING MISTAKES

“I don’t think I’ve made mistakes. Every time somebody said I made a mistake, they do the polls and my numbers go up, so I guess I haven’t made any mistakes.”

72: DONALD TRUMP ON LOSING

“I don’t think I’m going to lose, but if I do, I don’t think you’re ever going to see me again, folks. I think I’ll go to Turnberry and play golf or something.” Donald Trump, Maryland rally, April 24, 2016.

71: DONALD TRUMP ON BEING PRESIDENT

“I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created.” Donald Trump, announcing his campaign for president.

70: DONALD TRUMP WARNS OF RIOTS IF HE ISN’T GOP NOMINEE

“I think you’d have riots. I think you’d have riots. I’m representing many, many millions of people. In many cases first-time voters … If you disenfranchise those people? And you say, well, I’m sorry, you’re 100 votes short, even though the next one is 500 votes short? I think you’d have problems like you’ve never seen before. I wouldn’t lead it, but I think bad things will happen.” Donald Trump on what will happen if the nomination is taken from his at the Republican convention, CNN interview, March 16, 2016.

69: DONALD TRUMP ON OBAMA’S BIRTH CERTIFICATE

“I have people who have been studying [Obama’s birth certificate] and they cannot believe what they’re finding… I would like to have him show his birth certificate, and can I be honest with you, I hope he can. Because if he can’t, if he can’t, if he wasn’t born in this country, which is a real possibility…then he has pulled one of the great cons in the history of politics.” Donald Trump, three weeks before Obama released his long-form birth certificate in 2011.

68: DONALD TRUMP ON HILLARY

“If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband what makes her think she can satisfy America.”

67: DONALD TRUMP ON AFRICAN AMERICANS

“I have a great relationship with the blacks.”

66: DONALD TRUMP ON KIDS

“I like kids. I mean, I won’t do anything to take care of them. I’ll supply funds, and she’ll take care of the kids.”

65: DONALD TRUMP ON HIMSELF

“The beauty of me is that I’m very rich.”

64: DONALD TRUMP ON TRUMP STEAKS

“Trump Steaks, where are the steaks? Do we have steaks? We have Trump Steaks.” –Donald Trump, touting a steak business that no longer exists during a press conference by handing out steaks from Bush Brothers Provision Co. Trump frozen steaks were offered at Sharper Image stores in 2007, but have since been discontinued. (March 8, 2016).

63: TRUMP: REPORTER ‘MADE UP’ STORY OF ALLEGED ASSAULT

“Perhaps she made the story up. I think that’s what happened.” –Donald Trump on Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields, who accused Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski of grabbing her arm aggressively as she attempted to question the candidate. Fields tweeted a photo of her bruised arm, and news accounts corroborated her story. (March 10, 2016).

62: DONALD TRUMP ON THE CANDIDATES

“I think the only difference between me and the other candidates is that I’m more honest and my women are more beautiful.”

61: DONALD TRUMP ON THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE

“I’ve seen numbers of 24 percent — I actually saw a number of 42 percent unemployment. Forty-two percent. 5.3 percent unemployment — that is the biggest joke there is in this country. … The unemployment rate is probably 20 percent, but I will tell you, you have some great economists that will tell you it’s a 30, 32. And the highest I’ve heard so far is 42 percent.” Donald Trump, vastly overstating the unemployment rate in a claim rated false by Politifact, Sept. 28, 2015.

60: DONALD TRUMP ON BUILDING A WALL

“I will build a great wall – and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me —and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.”

59: DONALD TRUMP: ‘THERE’S NO VIOLENCE’ AT CAMPAIGN RALLIES

“The press is now going, they’re saying, ‘Oh but there’s such violence.’ No violence. You know how many people have been hurt at our rallies? I think, like, basically none except maybe somebody got hit once. It’s a love fest. These are love fests. And every once in a while … somebody will stand up and they’ll say something.… It’s a little disruption, but there’s no violence. There’s none whatsoever.” Donald Trump on his campaign rallies, despite documented evidence to the contrary, March 14, 2016.

58: DONALD TRUMP PRAISING SUPPORTERS

“That was so great. Who was the person who did that? Put up your hand, put up your hand. Bring that person up here. I love that.” Donald Trump, praising two audience members who tackled a protester at his rally in South Carolina.

57: DONALD TRUMP ON ‘THE APPRENTICE’

“All of the women on ‘The Apprentice’ flirted with me – consciously or unconsciously. That’s to be expected.”

56: DONALD TRUMP ON CARLY FIORINA

“Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president I mean, she’s a woman, and I’m not supposed to say bad things, but really, folks, come on. Are we serious?” Donald Trump on Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina.

55: DONALD TRUMP ON “POTTY TALK”

“I know where she went – it’s disgusting, I don’t want to talk about it. No, it’s too disgusting. Don’t say it, it’s disgusting.” – Donald Trump on Hillary Clinton taking a bathroom break during a Democratic presidential debate.

54: DONALD TRUMP ON HILLARY CLINTON

“[Hillary Clinton] was gonna beat Obama. I don’t know who would be worse, I don’t know, how could it be worse? But she was going to beat – she was favored to win – and she got schlonged, she lost, I mean she lost.” –Donald Trump, using a vulgar Yiddish word for penis to mock Hillary Clinton.

53: DONALD TRUMP QUOTES MUSSOLINI

“It is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep.” Donald Trump in a tweet quoting fascist Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.

52: DONALD TRUMP ON VLADIMIR PUTIN KILLING JOURNALIST

“I think our country does plenty of killing also, Joe.” Donald Trump, seemingly unconcerned that Russian President Vladimir Putin kills journalists who disagree with him, when pressed to condemn such actions in an interview with MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough.

 

My thought for the day

“There are three kinds of people. Those who know, those who know when they are shown, and those who have no interest in knowing.”

 

 

The real threat to our national security

While Pauline Hanson spreads her hatred of Muslims, Peter Dutton wages war on refugees, and Malcolm Turnbull berates bail and parole decisions, the real threat to our national security and sovereignty is ignored.

Three months before the 2013 election, Stuart Robert organised a dinner in his Parliament House office with Tony Abbott and Chinese business mogul Li Ruipeng at the request of his donor mate, Paul Marks, so Mr Li could meet senior Liberals including shadow resources minister Ian Macfarlane.  Also present at the gathering was the then president of the Liberal National Party, Bruce McIver, a party powerbroker who was later appointed as a director of Australia Post.

That was the dinner where they were all gifted Rolex watches which they thought were “fake”.

In August 2014, Robert accompanied Paul Marks to Beijing where a mining deal between Australian company Nimrod Resources and Chinese state-controlled corporation China Minmetals was signed.  Robert insists he was “on holidays” and there in a private capacity though it was apparent that Chinese officials at the event were under the impression that he was present as an Australian government minister.

Robert has also given evidence recently at the Queensland Crime and Corruption hearing into interference in the Gold Coast elections.  He funded, through the Fadden Forum, two of the women who worked in his electoral office to run for council in what appeared to be an attempt to oust Peter Young who tends to vote against development applications that threaten the environment.

Robert’s employee Felicity Stevenson was one of six candidates in the 2016 Gold Coast elections who hired former Tony Abbott staffer and developer lobbyist Simone Holzapfel on their campaigns.

Federal Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane left politics and was immediately appointed chief executive of the Queensland Resources Council.

Former Trade Minister Andrew Robb, whose fundraising vehicle, the Bayside Forum, received a $50,000 donation from Chinese property developer Huang Xiangmo the day the Chinese Free Trade agreement was signed, took a job as consultant to yet another Chinese billionaire, Ye Cheng, the day before the 2016 election was held.

Mr Cheng’s company, Landbridge Group, was embroiled in controversy when it was awarded a 99-year lease over the port of Darwin.

The political influence being exerted by these businessmen was apparent when Senator Sam Dastyari appeared with Mr Huang at a press conference exclusively for Chinese media, where he echoed Beijing’s line on the disputed waters in the South China Sea.

In April 2016, Scott Morrison rejected a bid by Dakang Australia Holdings to buy the Kidman cattle empire, saying its planned purchase was contrary to the national interest but, by December, he had approved the sale to Gina Rinehart in partnership with Shanghai CRED.

Kidman & Co controls 100,000 square kilometres of pastoral leases – about 1.3 per cent of Australia’s total land area and 2.5 per cent of the country’s agricultural land but it doesn’t end there. Shanghai CRED finalised a deal in October for around $2 million to buy several properties in Western Australia’s Goldfields region owned by WA cattle identity Jack Burton, the Melita, Jeedamya and Kookynie stations. It has also reportedly purchased other stations in the Goldfields region and recently snapped up Yakka Munga and Mount Elizabeth stations in the Kimberley.

A new report from Sydney University and accounting firm KPMG found a record 103 deals were signed between Chinese and Australian companies in 2016 with investment up 12 per cent from 2015 to $15.4 billion last year.

Australia is the second biggest recipient of Chinese investment globally behind the US, with $US90 billion in investment since 2007.

Investment in infrastructure rose to a record $4.34 billion, with China’s sovereign wealth fund taking stakes in transport firm Asciano, and the Port of Melbourne.

There was also continued investment in healthcare with China Resources Holdings investing $383 million in radiation, oncology, and cardiology services provider Genesis Care.

Chinese Government-owned State Grid Corporate and Hong Kong-listed Cheung Kong Infrastructure — the two companies whose bid for NSW electricity distributor Ausgrid were blocked by Treasurer Scott Morrison — already own significant shares in the privatised state power distributors.

The government insists we need foreign investment to create jobs but the Chinese aren’t starting new businesses – we are selling them the farm, the house and throwing in the furniture and car.

Despite concerns raised by our intelligence agencies about political donations from Chinese businessmen with links to the government and about money-laundering by Special Investment Visa holders from China, our politicians continue to provide special access in return for money.

As China expands its ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative, the government would do well to read the briefing advice from its own department.

On the economic front, China has been criticised for using its massive financial assets to dominate smaller economies through long-term control of infrastructure, natural resources and associated land assets which can result in China exerting some control over local markets, labour and export policies.

It has been repeatedly noted in China that OBOR is also intended as a regional security mechanism, and the future role of the People’s Liberation Army in protecting China’s OBOR facilities abroad has been widely discussed.

Broader concerns relate to the longer-term aims of China, with the possibility that the OBOR agenda is aimed at creating a Eurasia-wide, China-led bloc to counter the US. At the June 2016 Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore, Professor Xiang Lanxin, director of the Centre of One Belt and One Road Studies at the China National Institute for SCO International Exchange and Judicial Cooperation, spoke of OBOR as being an avenue to a ‘post-Westphalian world’. As such, some see this initiative as a profound challenge to the current global political and economic status quo.

As Australia becomes increasingly tied economically with China, there is a need to maintain a close watch on the progress of the OBOR initiative globally.  Australia needs to adopt a more economically and strategically prudent attitude in determining how the Australia-China economic relationship is to further develop.

Instead, our politicians, like the Native Americans who gave Manhatten away, seem to have fallen for the shiny trinkets of political donations, Rolex watches and a high-paying job when you leave parliament.

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