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Tag Archives: Australian Government

Wentworth Circus, Elephants In The Room, Jokers In The Pack And Too Many Ringmasters…

The Liberals have lost Wentworth for the first time and so the analysis begins.

We’ve already been told that Malcolm didn’t help. He should have been there, campaigning his little arse off out of gratitude that the Liberals made him PM. Ungrateful wretch.

And, in the washup, Sky News was telling us not to draw too many conclusions because Wentworth wasn’t typical of the rest of Australia…It’s one of the wealthiest suburbs and it does have a significant gay population. True enough, I suppose, but is one meant to draw the inference that other electorates have an insignificant gay population?

However, I keep coming back to a point I make over and over again. We only get to vote once every three years or so and we often make our choice based on who we think is the least worst. Our vote is sometimes the lesser of two evils, rather than a ringing endorsement of every single policy of the party we ultimately vote for. And sometimes, an electorate gets the chance to say, yes, you seem more in tune with what we actually think than either of the major parties.

It’s not that Wentworth is out of step with the rest of Australia on something like climate change. Wentworth has pretty accurately reflected the fact that most people think more should be done on climate change. It’s not that Wentworth is out of step with attitudes to LGTBI issues or children on Nauru; it’s more that the loudest conservative voices have managed to make it sound like they are speaking for the “ordinary” Australian. And it’s hard to get more ordinary than some of the people backing Peter Dutton.

Now, I always suggested that Malcolm Turnbull wasn’t all that left-wing. I know, it’s surprising that a Point Piper multimillionaire Liberal Party leader wouldn’t be an extreme socialist pushing for the overthrow of the corrupt system. Yes, we’ve been told about leftie Malcolm, so often that we overlook the fact that most of his progressive views were consistent with the majority. Backing for the Republic, marriage equality, action on climate change. You name it, there was nothing that wasn’t a popular position. He was always positioning himself for popularity. That is, until he became Prime Minister, where his Faustian bargain left him unable to please either his party or his electorate. While it was one thing to paint Malcolm as progressive; it’s quite another to ask us to believe that a Liberal stronghold – one of its safest and most affluent seats – is a hotbed of out-of-touch elites who were simply angry at the dumping of their man.

It’s worth pointing out that they did so with the full knowledge that, unlike so many by-elections, they had the power to make the Coalition a minority government. If anything, this should have chastened them, made them more circumspet. And it’s not as though, this was a surprise like the 1999 defeat of Kennett in Victoria where people made a protest vote without any expectation that it would result in a change of government.

The electorate made a conscious decision to create a hung Parliament. But to hear Scott Morrison last night, it was all about Malcolm Turnbull, it was all about the “price” of switching leaders. But rest assured, the Liberals would rise again. (I’m sure I heard a few “hallelujahs” at this point from the crowd). Ok, perhaps not in three days, but it certainly sounded like an evangelical meeting at times. He went on to repeat his well-worn slogans of “Those who have a go, will get a go”, “The best form of welfare is a job”, “Jesus was a small businessman” and “I stopped the votes” and several other meaningless phrases, as though these had somehow helped deliver an electoral victory rather than the most embarrassing thing to happen to the Liberals in almost a week.

I guess it’s easy to be pessimistic and shake one’s head. We have a governent voting for a motion then realising that they didn’t intend to vote for it, floating ideas which are against all departmental advice, squabbling internally, considering a disgraced Barnbaby for a return to the Deputy PM role only a few months after his embarrassing admissions. And I know some of you will be worried by the assertions that this won’t flow through to the general election because of Rupert Murdoch or because the Liberals will “get away with it like they always do”.

However, I think that it’s always worth stopping and considering how many impossible things have happened. I mean, not only have the Liberals lost Wentworth – unthinkable just a few weeks ago – but they lost to an openly gay Independent. Yes, I know some of you are thinking, so what? But that’s the point. How long ago would it have been unthinkable for a candidate to have called their same sex partner up on the stage during their victory speech? If you go back to the beginning of this century it would have been talked about for weeks.

Progress may feel like two steps forward and one step back. And even, at times, the other way round. But because progress is slow, we often don’t see how far we’ve come. There’s still a long way to go, of course. For example, I was confused as to why the email suggesting that Phelps had pulled out because she had HIV was reported as being a “smear” and a “slur”. I don’t see having HIV is either of those, any more than a suggestion that she was cancelling an appearance because she had the flu. It was a nasty trick, sure, but why a “smear” as though HIV suggested something immoral about the person.

So, before the media starts talking about how terribly the Labor Party performed and tries to start leadership speculation about Shorten, let’s see this for what it is: a massive wake-up call for Scott Morrison. Unfortunately for him, his speech last night suggested he intended to just keep hitting the snooze button.

Australian Government review of vehicle emissions has a now familiar aroma of disappointment

Br Dr Anthony Horton

According to a Press Release from Federal Member for Bradfield and Minister for Territories, Local Government and Major Projects Paul Fletcher, a “whole of Government” approach will be used to address vehicle emissions with the establishment of a Ministerial Forum which will be supported by a working group.

The working group will be examine the implementation of Euro 6 (a Regulation that reduces the emissions from light duty vehicles-cars and vans), fuel quality standards, fuel efficiency measures (CO2) for light vehicles and vehicle emissions testing.

In addition to the future implementation of Euro 6, fuel efficiency measures for light vehicles, fuel quality standards and vehicle emission testing standards in line with those implemented by international Regulators, the terms of reference for the working group include consulting with Industry stakeholders and coordinating work that is already underway regarding Government measures under the National Clean Air Agreement, the Emissions Reduction Fund and Safeguard mechanisms relating to transport initiatives and future infrastructure to support new vehicles.

The working group will report to the Ministerial Forum by the end of this Financial Year on options for managing fuel quality standards and measurement reporting standards for air pollutants under the National Clean Air Agreement. By 31 March 2017 the working group will report to the Forum on a draft implementation plan for new measures. Given that the current Government has committed to announcing measures to meet Australia’s 2030 climate change targets in 2017, it is shaping as a very busy year indeed with respect to Climate related matters.

The Ministerial Forum will facilitate consultation between Environment Minister Greg Hunt, Minister for Resources, Energy and Northern Australia Josh Frydenberg, Major Projects Minister Paul Fletcher (Forum Chair) and Industry to reduce motor vehicle emissions on Australian roads. Minister Fletcher stated that Australia already has tough emissions standards which ensures that air quality is good by international standards and the Government is taking Direct Action on climate change through a number of initiatives.

Australian Government policy is to bring vehicle emission standards with those developed by the United Nations. The recent adoption of Euro 5 vehicle emissions standards for light and heavy vehicles in Australia and consideration of Euro 6 was evidence of this according to Minister Fletcher.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt reiterated that while a number of programs were already in place which target vehicle emissions, the Government would continue working to reduce them further, including an Independent Review of the Fuel Quality Standards which will report before the end of this Financial Year.

I find it “interesting” (heavy sarcasm noted) that successive Federal Governments of both persuasions in Australia continue to promote bringing the population on a journey focusing on reducing vehicle emissions using initiatives including the Green Vehicle Guide and mandatory fuel efficiency labelling and at the same time seemingly ignore the personal exposure of drivers who refuel their vehicles at petrol stations. Fuel quality and vehicle engine efficiency are valid and important aspects, however surely the point of sale (e.g. petrol bowser) for that fuel should also receive some attention?

I wrote my PhD on personal exposure to benzene (an aromatic compound that is added to petrol to replace lead) with a focus on the lifetime excess leukemia risk of refuelling a vehicle once a week over a 70 year average lifetime. Therefore I happen to know something about the significant excess risk that this one activity poses in comparison to others that individuals would probably do on a weekly basis without thinking too much about either the activity itself or what they are being exposed to as a result.

I wrote a blog on that earlier this year if you are interested in finding out more. You don’t have to worry-its not a lesson in chemistry or industrial hygiene however I’m pretty sure you’ll understand why we need to think a little more about some of the activities we do regularly. It may also cause you to ponder why Governments continue to ignore it from both an emissions and personal exposure perspective.

On this basis, I question how successive Governments continue to pick and choose which initiatives they will align with those of international counterparts under the premise of working to minimise what they label “noxious” emissions. In terms of minimising exposures during refuelling, vapour recovery at the petrol bowser has been in place in the US and Europe for decades and therefore Australia clearly has a long way to go. I am also growing tired of hearing that New South Wales is looking into implementing vapour recovery systems at the bowser (called Stage 2)-this statement has been trotted out for years.

I commend New South Wales for their persistence in this matter, however the lack of action from other states or from successive Federal Governments causes me to question their respective level of commitment to “noxious” emissions. If they intend to mention their new approach to vehicle emissions as part of their commitment at the upcoming Paris meeting and someone begins to probe a little deeper, the Australian delegation could well face questions as to why refuelling emissions aren’t part of such a review. Based on what I learnt from my PhD, I would certainly be asking such a question (among many others).

This article was originally published on The Climate Change Guy.

rWdMeee6_pe About the author: Anthony Horton holds a PhD in Environmental Science, a Bachelor of Environmental Science with Honours and a Diploma of Carbon Management. He has a track record of delivering customised solutions in Academia, Government, the Mining Industry and Consulting based on the latest wisdom and his scientific background and experience in Climate/Atmospheric Science and Air Quality. Anthony’s work has been published in internationally recognised scientific journals and presented at international and national conferences, and he is currently on the Editorial Board of the Journal Nature Environment and Pollution Technology. Anthony also blogs on his own site, The Climate Change Guy.

 

Is the Australian government linked to atrocities overseas?

My name is Tracie Aylmer. I am an international criminal lawyer specialising in the International Criminal Court.

It has come to my attention that a number of Australian government officials may have enabled and caused corruption that directly affects the UN Security Council. Any application towards obtaining a placement on the Security Council should therefore be rejected.

The information is as follows:

  • The Australian government pays subsidies to Australian mining companies. The amount of subsidies keeps increasing, but the link shows the amount per year from two years ago. This amount will not have decreased in any hurry.
  • Mining companies do not pay the required amount of tax in Australia according to its domestic laws. Taxes are instead diverted to tax havens in complicated schemes in order to neglect paying billions in Australia.
  • The billions the Australian mining companies receive directly and indirectly from the Australian government are helping to pay for atrocities in countries such as Africa here, here and here. South America here as well as North America here.
  • In addition, the Australian government are advertising the Australian mining companies within these countries, thereby drawing a link between the Australian government and the Australian mining companies. This also means that our taxpayer funds are being diverted, in order to directly create atrocities overseas, with the Australian government complicit.
  • The billions that are received from the Australian government to Australian mining companies are taxpayer funds – public moneys that the Australian people do not realise are being placed otherwise than what they were meant for.
  • In particular, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, investigations have occurred by the International Criminal Court here as well as with the UN Security Council here.
  • The Central African Republic is another example, with two investigations by the International Criminal Court underway.
  • It can therefore be said that the Australian mining companies – paid for by the Australian government with public taxpayer funds – are creating atrocities in several key areas around the world, that are being investigated by public international authorities such as the United Nations and the International Criminal Court.
  • The Australian government must be held responsible for these actions by public international authorities.

With the above, I wish to advise that due to the extraordinary evidence against the Australian government and Australian mining companies, any application to the United Nations Security Council MUST be rejected. Australia is NOT a responsible international authority.

 

Never give up on the future of the Australian automotive manufacturing industry

ford-broadmeadows Can the automotive manufacturing industry in Australia be saved? “Yes”, writes Andreas Bimba, but only if the Abbott Government is defeated in the 2016 election.

The next federal general election will probably be in late 2016 and Labor will in all likelihood win. Ford announced that closure of their Australian automotive manufacturing operations will be in October 2016. Holden announced closure will be by the end of 2017.

Australians must continue to buy locally manufactured Fords (Falcon and Territory) and Holdens (Commodore and Cruze) till those announced dates to avoid early factory closures. Also please don’t forget ‘last man standing’ Toyota (Camry and Aurion) which is just hanging in there.

The dogmatic right wing of the LNP Coalition Government will probably follow the totally worthless advice of the Productivity Commission and cut currently scheduled Automotive Transformation Scheme (ATS) industry assistance so as to force an earlier closure.

Even with an early closure it is still perfectly feasible to save the manufacturing operations of Ford and Holden which are only slightly less productive than the more up to date facilities of Toyota (Toyota knows that both Ford and Holden are very tough competitors). These manufacturing facilities are worth billions of dollars and compared to other sectors of the Australian economy, like most service industries, are highly efficient and productive.

Other factors brought Ford and Holden into their loss making position such as the historically high Australian dollar, a poorly implemented export strategy (Detroit and Canberra are primarily to blame), a poorly thought out national industrial policy/support environment created by all Australian Federal Governments which made industry investment hard to justify, an excessively open new car market (refer to the Thailand car trade imbalance) and as a result of these factors, ever declining production volumes and worsening economies of scale.

If Ford and Holden, after the Labor victory, still choose to quit local manufacturing, their manufacturing facilities can still form an extremely valuable core of a new player into the Australian automotive manufacturing industry that could be local, foreign, or a consortium. A locally owned manufacturer would be the best solution as it would allow management for the first time in Australia’s automotive manufacturing history to control its own destiny and not defer to the colonial master for permission or guidance. All the skills and technological capacity required for the successful operation of this enterprise already exist in abundance.

Manufacturing is a value adding industry that provides much more employment per unit of economic activity than the bulk resources industry. It can also be a major foreign exchange earner or replace a substantial portion of our imports. As a foreign exchange earner the industry can drive average living standards higher and can support the service sector of the economy.

A second sizable local manufacturer will greatly assist the survivability of Toyota’s Australian manufacturing operations through healthy competition, greater political and public support for the industry and better economies of scale for components suppliers.

A doubling of Australia’s current automotive manufacturing capacity so as to meet at least 50 per cent of the local 1.1 million per annum automotive market plus exports should then be the medium term aim, again to improve economies of scale and model range.

One should also not forget the other benefits of an automotive manufacturing industry such as a technology and productivity driver in the economy, a source of national confidence, a large employer of unskilled, semi skilled and tertiary qualified personnel and as a industrial capacity and technology reserve during times of national emergency. Don’t ever think a few submarines will suffice.

A moderate tariff of 10 – 15 per cent plus export credits would allow local manufacturers to pay Australian award wages and still make a profit. Such a tariff is a means of providing a level playing field with low cost and high technology manufacturers like Korea, Thailand and China.

The current alternative to tariffs of direct grants by governments is too unpredictable, making investment decisions by manufacturers hard to justify.

The current foolish federal government sees such grants as a subsidy for an inefficient industry rather than as a good investment giving a net rate of return of about five times the size of the subsidy. The current high profitability of Toyota Japan shows that the automotive manufacturing industry is a dynamic and valuable industry for countries with relatively high wages. Not just low wage countries as foolishly suggested by the Productivity Commission.

(Reference: the Productivity Commission).

The Coalition’s slash and burn economic philosophy is extremely unpopular with the Australian people and ultimately it is the views of the Australian people which will prevail and not those of ill-informed special interest groups such as the reckless financial services industry or the mining/resources industry. These sectors, apart from the superannuation industry, are the biggest recipients of government aid and extraordinary tax concessions, estimated to be valued at over $4.5 billion per annum for the mining/resources industry and about $1 billion per annum for the financial services industry.

(For further information refer to the Trade and Assistance Review 2011-12).

With a well thought out national industrial policy environment manufacturing can again thrive in this country. Will Labor get it right this time?

The best model is the Japanese METI model where government and industry work together as a partnership. Moderate government funding is provided but it is returned many times over to the tax payer through general taxation of the manufacturing industry and its employees.

It is a profitable investment by the Japanese tax payer into their manufacturing industry and it is the core of Japan’s large, productive and successful economy.

The METI model provides a level playing field that allows Japanese businesses to pay Japanese labour and other business costs (which are higher than Australia’s) and to still compete successfully with low cost and high technology competitors like Korea, Thailand and China.

(For further information refer to Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (Japan) and an overview of METI).

The growth of the mining/resources industry must be moderated if Australia is to have a sustainable manufacturing industry. Expansion of the fossil fuel industry must be severely limited in any case due to the global cumulative atmospheric carbon limit of 500 GtC set recently by James Hansen, and also to limit the value of any stranded or unusable assets arising from the carbon limit.

Will truth win over poorly applied simplistic ideology?

 

We told you things would be bad (part 2)

Some things just slip under the radar, such as this piece of news which was “concealed” on the website of the Department of Human Services this week:

The Australian Government has committed to abolishing the Schoolkids Bonus. On 24 October 2013, the Government released an exposure draft of the Minerals Resource Rent Tax Repeal and Other Measures Bill 2013 that includes abolishing the Schoolkids Bonus. This legislation will be introduced into Parliament on 13 November 2013.

What did we tell you before the election?

If you have school-aged children…

Under Labor you would receive the Schoolkids Bonus of $410 a year for each child in primary school and $820 a year for each child in secondary school.

The Coalition would axe the Schoolkids Bonus.

It’s apparent that if you want to know what the Government is up to you’d need to scour their department’s web sites. But really, who would have thought to look up the draft MRRT bill on the Treasury web site to first learn about the fate of the Schoolkids Bonus?

Yes, I say again: We told you things would be bad.

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