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Tag Archives: Clive Palmer

Ricky Proves Tricky – Bush Bogan Backs Blocking Carbon Tax Repeal Bill

Ricky Muir (image from news.com.au)

Ricky Muir (image from news.com.au)

A month ago, Ricky Muir was an object of scorn and derision by the MSM.

Following his interview with Mike Willisee, much of social media also jumped on the band wagon posting the Willisee interview on Facebook with the warning; “Be afraid, be very afraid.”

Since his election to the Senate in September Muir has been painted as either an ignoramus who got lucky or simply a stooge for the Palmer United Party.

Since assuming his role as a  Senator on Monday, Muir has proved to be neither and very much his own man.

The MSM has had a fascination with Muir who as a candidate for a minor party, the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts, contested and won a seat in the Upper House.

Reclusive by nature, Muir refused to give interviews and declined to meet with Tony Abbott for a formal discussion and prime ministerial welcome.

With little to go on save for a couple of YouTube clips of Muir throwing kangaroo excrement at his mates, and a homespun philosophy in how to raise children, the MSM opted for regarding Muir as a curiosity at best, a fool at worst following the Willisee interview, or simply a puppet of Clive Palmer following Palmer’s announcement the Muir would form a voting bloc with PUP.

Muir’s first action after being sworn in however was to independently introduce amendments to block the government’s savage cuts to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency with a view of scrapping the agency altogether.

Muir’s actions caught both the MSM and the government off guard, and left the government stunned. The best however, was yet to come.

Back peddling furiously, the government agreed to continue funding ARENA in exchange for the withdrawal of Muir’s amendment, but hoping that the vote on the repeal of the Carbon tax would be finalized on Thursday with a favorable outcome for the LNP.

This was not to be. Muir joined with PUP, Labor and the Greens to write further amendments to the bill to ensure that full savings from the repeal would be passed on to consumers.

The final vote to reject the repeal was 37 to the government’s 35.

This leaves the Abbott government to introduce a new repeal bill which includes the Palmer amendment to the House, and the debate starts all over again.

In less than a week Muir has gone from zero to hero, with social media now prepared to sing his praises, albeit faintly due to Clive Palmer grabbing most of the media attention for today’s move.

On his Facebook page, Muir wrote of himself as “As an average Australian who wants to make balanced decisions which hopefully reflect on everyday Australians.”

A month ago, I wrote that; such honesty despite its apparent naivete, is welcome and  refreshing in a political arena dominated by time servers, party hacks, and Neo-Liberal dog-eat-dog ideology.

Whatever Muir’s communication faults may be, he is still representative of a democracy that prides itself in the fact that anyone with the determination to have their voice heard and who wants to change the system can be elected if they present a credible argument to voters in their electorate.

Moreover, Muir also embodies the fundamental Australian principle of ‘a fair go’.

Within four days of taking his seat in the Senate, Muir has not only shown himself to be his own man, but is as good as his word in making balanced decisions for all Australians.

Let’s hope that he continues to do so.

A Climate Created by The Abbott of Clive

Al Gore and Clive Palmer (image from theguardian.com)

When Clive Palmer stood beside Al Gore (God only knows why Gore did it) in the Great Hall at Parliament House to announce his party’s voting intentions regarding the Carbon Tax, I like many others watched with daunting anticipation. After all he had, in his own typically flamboyant way, created an event (or an illusion) of world importance worthy of a major speech at the UN.

The former Vice President gave the occasion celebrity value. For me it was not just an announcement. It was about a decision vital to my country’s future. What might this man of singular self-importance do?

Then Palmer announced the terms and conditions for his party’s support for dropping the tax, one of which was that it be linked to the implementation of an ETS, albeit without a price. Well that’s what I thought I heard and I said to my wife:

“I think Clive has Tony by his Crown Jewels”.

What I thought I heard was not what I had heard at all after Palmer later clarified his remarks. It was not linked at all. I was somewhat devastated when, after doing some quick intellectual gymnastics, I concluded that Clive had pulled a swifty. Then I angered to write but prudence got the better of me and I decided to canvas some thoughts from those like me who are concerned and opine on serious matters such as this. It was as well I waited because the subject has taken more twists and turns on a daily basis than the Albert Park Grand Prix circuit.

I can guarantee that a read of these articles might tip your sanity over the edge, confuse you, make you more aware, disappoint you, or even infuriate you. But hopefully they might convince you that we are being led by a moron of unbelievable stupidity and myopia. Closely followed by a businessman who only wants two things. Anything that will advance his business interests and revenge against those who wouldn’t give him what he wanted.

But hopefully the last article by the ever astute Peter Martin will put things in perspective for you.

First off the grid was former Gillard Minister, Craig Emerson.

”Lots of carbon-emitting smoke and sideshow alley mirrors were on display yesterday when Clive Palmer and Al Gore announced a major environmental breakthrough. Now that the smoke is cleared and a light is shone on the mirrors, here’s what was actually announced. It confirms what I wrote last night.”

PUP Senators will vote with the Government to repeal the existing Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) law, including the present fixed price and the future floating price. PUP will seek to introduce its own ETS with a zero price. However, it will not insist on the Government voting for its bill. Even if the new ETS bill were to make it through the Senate, it must then go to the House of Representatives where the Government has a majority (that’s how it became the Government). Unless PM Abbott has a massive change of heart, the Government will defeat PUP’s ETS Bill in the House. The bill therefore will not become law.

Palmer is insisting on the Government retaining the Renewable Energy Target, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Climate Change Authority. He has also announced PUP will vote against the Government’s Direct Action legislation.

As announced, the net result is that Australia’s existing ETS will be scrapped and not replaced with any ETS. Direct Action will be defeated. The Renewable Energy Target, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Climate Change Authority will be retained.

While this is better than nothing, it is hardly cause for celebration for anyone who believes an ETS is vital to reducing carbon emissions. Unless Clive Palmer or Tony Abbott change their minds, there will be no ETS and therefore no effective action on climate change.

Mark Kenny in what I think is one of the best pieces on the subject said this:

The understanding here is that Abbott’s real priority is – and only ever has been – the destruction of the carbon ‘‘tax’’. Everything else, including the $2.5 billion direct action plan to pay large polluters to cut emissions, was merely put forward because the Coalition feared that offering nothing was electoral suicide.

Barry Tucker. Blogger for THE AIMN had this to say:

By voting for abolition of the carbon price (“tax”), Palmer saves millions in future payments for pollution from his mines. He still has to pay for overdue carbon price bills, plus fines and penalties of about $63 million and growing almost exponentially.
He may do another deal to get some relief for that liability. Ultimately, he’s just in politics for his own benefit.

James Clancy a Facebook friend commented on the guaranteed reduction on his power bills:

Well today I received a letter from Energy Australia that Electricity prices will increase from 1st July 2014. The weighted average price increase to Qld customers will be $4.58 per week. So it looks like they are going to charge first and give a little off if the carbon tax is repealed. I seem to recall that Electrical suppliers had written to the Federal Government saying that they will give consumers the savings they make. So we Pay $294.00 extra a year, how much will we get back when the carbon tax is repealed I bet it is not around $550 as Tony Abbott has claimed.

Ross Garnaut

Economist and carbon pricing expert Professor Ross Garnaut says the Palmer United Party’s position to vote to retain the RET and other key climate change bodies will have “important” and positive effects.

Doug Evans another writer for this blog said.

Abbott and his band of hateful sidekicks are a disgrace. Even if they become a one term blot on our political landscape we still have three years of their carnage to endure. On the bright side they are not getting it all their own way. Their first budget is in tatters raising the question of whether or not there will be a second ‘horror’ budget next year, further cementing their unpopularity. The really important elements of the Clean Energy legislation (CEFC, ARENA) look as though they will endure as does the RET. No-one in government or the MSM seems to be able to fully evaluate the meaning of the loss if the price on carbon. Thanks to Labor’s insistence carbon price was always set too low to drive meaningful change and when linked to the global carbon market was going to come much lower (hence the Greens’ insistence on the fixed price period). The carbon price hasn’t been and was never going to be the major element of this legislation driving the clean energy transformation. Axing the tax will have very little effect on the rate of growth of our carbon emissions.

The media with their unshakeable fixation on THE CARBON TAX have taken to repeating that without the (very small) stick of our ETS we are without any mechanism for driving down emissions. Not sure why they ignore the (somewhat larger) carrot that is the combination of RET and CEFC.

For those of you who (like me) love to hate Greg Hunt, Mark Kenny ( a journalist for whom I normally have no respect at all) has written a very interesting speculative piece for Fairfax on who wins and who loses from Palmer’s carbon tax machinations The article bears strongly on assessment of what matters and what doesn’t in the wash up of Abbott’s shock and awe onslaught on our climate policy. It is worth reading and reflecting on, not least because it reveals tensions within the government around this issue.

Similarly I found Lenore Taylor’s piece on the background leading to Palmer’s stunning appearance beside Al Gore pretty interesting also. It also explains why Gore having agreed to appear with Palmer still looked so very uncomfortable about being there.

Lenore Taylor in an interview with Palmer last weekend.

“Our amendment makes it a requirement that people will have to pass on the power cost savings … not a voluntary situation, it doesn’t leave it up to the ACCC to decide at its discretion whether or not it wants to enforce this”.
“But I’m not in business, I’m serving the Australian people, so knowing that I am going to make sure this legislation goes through to protect to protect our pensioners and everyone like that”. “Palmer has given up several directorships but remains the owner of a number of companies, including a nickel refinery, coal leases and an iron ore holding”.

Annabel Crabb in her usual stoic style.

“Direct Action is about as popular within the Coalition as a peanut at a preschool, and not having to make sense of it in practice is something of a lucky break for the government”.

“Anyone building hypothetical future scenarios based on Clive Palmer continuing serenely as the new face of emissions trading might want to exercise caution”.

Michael Pascoe in The Age.

“Clive Palmer is being hailed in several quarters as a jolly green giant saving Australia’s carbon emissions trading scheme, not to mention lauded as a master political strategist. Hold the phone at least on the first part of that”.

“One of the problems with Clive is working out what he’s saying, what he might think he’s saying and what he actually means”.
“They can all be quite different things. For businesses having to plan and invest around carbon policy, that’s not very helpful”.

Bernie Fraser former Governor of the Reserve Bank.

“Policymakers need to look beyond short-term economic considerations in the interests of some of the big companies to longer-term community interests. That’s what governments are supposed to do, but unfortunately it’s not happening at the present time”.

Laurie Oakes in Melbourne’s Herald Sun.

“Palmer himself? It’s only a couple of months since he was proclaiming disbelief in the whole idea that human activity contributes to global warming. Scientists, he claimed, could be paid to say anything.

Now he adopts the stance of an environmental warrior, committed to retention of the Climate Change Authority and opposed to any change in the Renewable Energy Target designed to ensure 20 per cent of Australia’s energy comes from sources such as wind and solar by 2020”.

“The Prime Minister has held every position there is on climate change, from branding the science “absolute crap” to claiming before his recent Washington visit he accepts it, and from supporting an ETS when John Howard embraced it to asserting a price on carbon would destroy the economy”.

And this from Australianpolitics.com

Palmer has demonstrated today that he has a deft and populist political touch, even though his political positions don’t withstand close scrutiny. He has positioned himself to be seen to be sympathetic to climate change policies, although nothing he has proposed will ever come to pass. The carbon tax will be abolished, with a direct financial benefit to Palmer’s companies.

Mark Kenny again.

“Just before the House adjourned on Thursday, there were jubilant scenes on the floor of the House of Representatives as the Coalition passed the carbon tax repeal bills for the second time”.

“Mr Abbott met Mr Palmer on Thursday morning and emerged happy that the minor party’s four upper house votes would support the abolition of the fixed price, subject to just one condition – a guarantee that the package would contain legislated assurances of cheaper electricity for households”.

Mike Carlton in his usual full on journalistic style got right to the point.

“His idiocy would not matter a toss but for the fact that Newman is chairman of the prime minister’s Business Advisory Council and, therefore, presumably in Tony Abbott’s shell-like ear. Publicly, Abbott has held more positions on climate change than there are sexual acrobatics in the Kama Sutra but you know that, deep down, he believes it’s “crap”. His word.

Abbott is appalling and will no doubt do plenty of damage but he is not getting all his own way. With any luck this will be the dominant theme of his one term government.

Richard Dennis on the cost of power.

‘The main reason that electricity has been getting dearer is the over investment in poles and wires, and the fundamental inefficiency in the way that the national electricity market’s working,’ says Richard Denniss, executive director of the Australia Institute”.

Peter Martin

“For six glorious wild and wet days last week, South Australia sourced 67 per cent of its electricity from wind. Needless to say, it’s an Australian record. So fast were the turbines turning from early Monday to early Sunday that the entire national grid sourced an extraordinary 14.5 per cent of its electricity from wind”.

But the last word goes to the Prime Minister in this article from Philip Correy:

“Tony Abbott has sparked a war with the renewable energy sector by claiming their product was driving up power prices “very significantly” and fostering Australia’s reputation as “the unaffordable energy capital of the world”.

What a Circus!

Photo: litistan.wordpress.com

Photo: litistan.wordpress.com

Why is there a sense of foreboding whenever Tony Abbott travels overseas? Probably because one’s immediate reaction is, “Oh God, in what way will he embarrass us this time.” I can’t help thinking that as they watched John Oliver’s parody of Abbott on his weekly satirical, “Last Week Tonight” show, members of the American press were of a similar mind about his planned visit there next week. Tony Abbott’s poor media presence, his stilted speech, his fake laugh are grist for the mill to a press corp. aware of his tendency to say something incredibly stupid. My fervent wish would be that they ignore him and give us all a break from the cringing and squirming we will have to endure as we sit on our sofas, in front of our TV sets and follow his movements across the Northern Hemisphere. The planned meeting with US President Barack Obama will, no doubt, be particularly painful to watch. One can only hope that Obama will take pity and shield him from the US press or at least spring to his aid when Abbott inevitably sticks his foot in his mouth.

In the meantime the Coalition government and particularly the Liberal side of it appear to be imploding. Bolt on Turnbull, Bernadi on Turnbull, all stirred up over a meal Turnbull had with Clive Palmer. And the winner was . . . Clive Palmer. Even West Australian Liberal MP Dennis Jensen, a former research scientist and defence analyst, was moved to criticise the government for cutting funding to the CSIRO? It’s not hard to see that the Liberals are running scared right now. Bad polling numbers, internal criticisms of Hockey’s budget and the press popularity of Clive Palmer who is clearly enjoying the road show and keeping everyone guessing as to what he’ll do next, is taking its toll. Queensland Coalition MP’s in particular are already starting to panic. Palmer’s popularity in Queensland and the rising dissatisfaction with the Newman state government is a genuine concern for them. As most MP’s know only too well, when Queensland voters are upset they can be particularly savage come election time.

One wonders why Andrew Bolt raised the question of Turnbull’s activities on his programme. Was he prompted to do so by the Abbott camp or was he trying to gain some publicity for his show? Does he genuinely fear Turnbull? Has he forgotten the devastating impact leadership speculation had on the previous government? For all the commentary that has appeared on this issue, it was Bolt who started it. He is the one making the case for Turnbull’s so-called disloyalty. Interestingly, several Coalition MP’s came out this week criticising Turnbull and favouring Bolt, when the PM made it clear in parliament that he favoured Turnbull over Bolt. That is hardly what you would call a co-ordinated united front.

In the meantime, Hockey has gone strangely quiet and Scott Morrison is in damage control. Two self immolations and one murder so far on Scott Morrison’s watch. And that’s what we actually know. There are claims of asylum seekers being lost at sea while being forcibly repatriated to remote Indonesian Islands by the Royal Australian Navy. But the Minister is warning his critics against making “assumptions” about what led Sri Lankan man Leorsin Seemanpillai to take his life. Does he not realise by saying that, he is drawing attention to the obvious?

Now, a new problem has surfaced and it has gone viral. John Oliver’s ‘Last Week Tonight’ skit made Abbott look like the village idiot. Anyone familiar with the Comedy Channel who knows the threesome that is Jon Stewart, Steven Colbert and John Oliver, would also know their popularity worldwide via YouTube. And the Liberal party brains trust would have noticed too that Oliver was careful not to alienate his friends in Australia. He emphasised that only 30% supported Abbott. Australian politics is hardly ever presented in satirical form overseas. We are mostly ignored, criticised or praised depending on the circumstances, but rarely satirised. And for an Australian Prime Minister to be the subject of that satire, to be so jeered and made to look so inept and just plain stupid must be a first, particularly on the eve of an official visit. Will we be hearing accusations that this also was planned by Turnbull?

Everything about this farcical situation has been of the conservative’s side of politics own making. It might have been planned but the more likely explanation is that they are all just so rattled and dysfunctional these days, that it all came naturally. Did you see Barnaby Joyce’s sexist gaffe on The Project during the week? On Peta Credlin, he commented, “I’m on good information from her husband that she’s a woman.” He explained the gaffe as a poor attempt at humour. Yes it was, but it also validates the dysfunctional element infecting the government. What a circus!

Ides of May?

I am not sure what Malcolm Turnbull was thinking, or drinking, when he posted the following on his facebook page today:

Like most Australians, I was angry about Labor’s reckless financial mismanagement of the NBN….but then as I read another Labor press I started to feel young again. Yes, this took me back to my youth, to the 1980s, to Duran Duran, shoulder pads and the Alan Bond and Laurie Connell school of finance – borrow billions, dont worry about how you can pay the interest let alone repay the principal.

He was apparently chuffed with his theatrical posturing in Question Time today.  He found himself rather witty and the smirk on Abbott’s face shows he enjoyed it too.

Well the reviews from the public show they weren’t quite as impressed with Malcolm as he so obviously was with himself.  They were actually more concerned with substance than rhetoric.

The following is a very small selection of comments which overwhelmingly follow this vein:

“Like most Australians” – you’re kidding yourself if you actually believe this Mr Turnbull.

“Like most Australians, I was angry about Labor’s reckless financial mismanagement of the NBN” – Where did you pull that one from? Most Australians want an NBN FTTP, and you know that.

‘Like most Australians’, I want FTTH. Anyone who’s passed year 11 physics can tell you why.

Sorry, I can’t hear you over THE COST OF TELSTRA’S COPPER NETWORK.

LOL What you guys are doing to the NBN now is a lot bloody worst mate. Thanks for building something that will cost more to maintain and is already out dated……….The libs always thinking short term not long term when it comes to infrastructure.

I’m not surprised you’re harking back to your youth. Liberal party current policies are from a bygone era also. Archaic tech solutions, removing anti-discrimination protections, education for the rich, religious chaplains. Seriously? We are better than all of that. It makes me sad that now both majors have lost the plot.

13 percent GDP is not debt crisis.  Sorry but you’re a pack of liars.

No Mr Turnbull I was not angry over Labor’s NBN plan. I was however, angry over the LNP’s second rate alternative plan. Now all I hear when you speak is ‘blah blah blah blah, turn over the record, blah blah blah blah, turn over the record, blah blah…..

You have lost all credibility with me, and I think it’s time I changed the record.

This isn’t a company you’re managing Minister, it’s a country. A good bottom line means nothing to me. I want services for my tax dollar. People are borrowing 6 times earnings to buy a house and you are worried about a debt of between 10 and 20 percent of GDP. I was hoping for a little bit more from you. Don’t fear monger, it belittles you.

If there really was financial mismanagement why can’t you fix the problems and continue with an all fibre rollout? If you really are the superior economic managers that you claim to be then I don’t see why you can’t do it instead of lumping us with technology that is outdated before it is even rolled out.

I am Australian – like most of my friends – and I can assure you I was not angry about Labor’s NBN. If you think that the Libs can roll it out more efficiently – then I will support your policy just as I supported Labor’s. I think you should have said, “like most Australians – we all want faster internet speed”. Please stick with Labor’s good intentions and use your considerable business knowledge to get it to us in a cost effective way. It is NOT cost effective for any nation to have SLOW speeds. Copper has got to go – and I am pretty sure most Australians agree with that!

One of these days Malcolm, you will realise that people want a world class NBN. If you want to bag Labor over the NBN, how about you go on about how they wouldn’t have delivered a world class broadband network and the Libs will.

Where we’re at today, literally nobody believes that the Liberal Party cares about the digital economy. *This* is why people rally behind Labor’s vision, because any vision is better than what Liberals are offering us.  You want to win the argument? Do it better, not worse.

The Liberal Party can go on and on about Labor’s reckless spending. Most voters understand that cuts need to be made. What we don’t approve of is the inequitable way that this government has looked to save. Malcolm, I’m happy to pay extra in tax if it’s going to our pensioners, the sick and the needy. I am NOT happy paying for CEOs to have kids, Gina’s fuel rebate, politician’s entitlements (especially like the ones that Don Randall claimed) etc. That’s just offensive and un-Australian and it makes me ill to hear the words “fair go” spew forth from Tony’s mouth.

Just wondering Malcolm….do you still intend borrowing $22.2 billion for your paid parental leave scheme and $24 billion for your fighter jets to add to the $8.8 billion you borrowed for Joe Hockey to gamble on the exchange rate going down? How many billions are you borrowing for Operation Sovereign Murders? How many billions will we be borrowing to gift to our worst polluters?

I too am happy to contribute. We do need some changes. But when I hear of amnesties for offshore tax cheats, and that Frank Lowy’s Westfield chain paid 8c in the dollar tax for the last umpteen years, and that we gave Rupert Murdoch about $880 million tax return for having accountants who are savvy enough to move profits from country to country to minimise tax and take advantage of currency exchange rate shifts, you then want to shaft our most vulnerable? How about we stop giving Gina “exploration” grants. How about you grow some balls and tell her that a condition of any approval is that she employs Australian citizens and use Australian steel and equipment. The US made it a condition for Gina’s recent $7 billion loan for her new destruction of the planet venture – she must use American steel and equipment. How ridiculous is that – they estimate it will create 3,400 jobs in AMERICA! This crew are way too scared to require anything from Gina but you say sick people and pensioners and students and unemployed need to contribute more. Not only that we will get rid of that amazing mining tax that on one hand destroys investment in this country (NOT), but on the other doesn’t raise any money. Just as it was about to start kicking in with billions (from your own estimates), you say oh no we can’t have Gina paying anything to make billions from our resources. Let’s get rid of the schoolkids bonus instead. Do you seriously expect anyone who knows the truth to think that is the way this society should go? And why are we sending $12 billion out of our economy into the American economy for jets we won’t see for a decade if they ever work out how to make them work. Malcolm, listen to your conscience. You KNOW the truth – speak out and we will back you.

It seems that “most Australians” have an entirely different opinion to Malcolm and his buddies and that “most Australians” were singularly unimpressed with his video of himself being smart and seem more concerned about the many ways that this government is making this country a worse place to live in.

The advertising isn’t working Malcolm.  How about trying some truth.  Who knows, you may have a chance to salvage a modicum of integrity if you have the guts to drop the turnbullshit.  Remember when you thought climate change was real and that the ABC was important?  Was this an attempt to gauge public opinion because you well and truly got told….remains to be seen if you listened.

“A senior Liberal Party official attended last night’s dinner with Cabinet minister Malcolm Turnbull, the Treasury secretary Martin Parkinson, and latecomer Clive Palmer.

The ABC has been told the Liberal Party’s federal vice president Tom Harley was at the dinner, which Mr Palmer is describing as “chopstick diplomacy” amongst “friends”.

Ides of May?

 

 

Clive Palmer, Abbot Point Bid a Titanic Disaster

Environment writer Kate O’Callaghan investigates the impending ecological disaster facing Abbot Point and the role Clive Palmer might play in it.

Last week, Australia’s favourite mining magnate/politician/conspiracy theorist Clive Palmer made a bid for a stake in the controversial Abbot Point development. The $3 billion expansion of the T2 coal export Terminal was abandoned by BHP Billiton in November and now Clive, and his Waratah Coal company, wants a piece of the action. Few are delighted by this prospect. Palmer has a tumultuous relationship with the QLD Government, and is currently suing Premier Campbell Newman for defamation.

In December, Newman reluctantly approved Clive Palmer’s Galilee-Abbot Point rail link. His previous decision to reject the railway led to Palmer’s fiery exit from his lifelong LNP membership, culminating in the establishment of his Palmer United Party. But it’s us dugong hugging, sea grass loving, reef conservationists who are really concerned. Abbot Point is situated within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, one of the most ecologically sensitive regions on the planet. Given Palmer’s history of environmental infringements and negligence, his potential involvement at Abbot Point is a scary thought.

Toxic Leaks from Queensland Nickel Refinery

Palmer already has a poor track record with the reef with his Queensland Nickel refinery at Yabulu, near Townsville, a repeat environmental offender.

Clive 2

Image courtesy of katesenviroblog.com.au

In April, nitrogen and heavy metal laden water from a tailings dam threatened to spill into the Great Barrier Reef and local waterways following heavy rains from Cyclone Ita. According to a government spokeswoman, water was “flowing over the spillway into a downstream water management system”, deeply worrying given the refinery’s position adjacent to the heritage listed reef waters.

Inspectors were sent to the refinery after QLD Environment Minister Andrew Powell expressed his concern about a potential toxic leak into the reef. This lead to a temporary shutdown of operations, although Palmer strenuously denied the closure.

In typical Clive Palmer style (or lack thereof), he criticised NewsCorp for covering the story, claiming thatMurdoch doesn’t like the fact that the Palmer United party will be influential in any proposed media reforms.” He also criticised Campbell Newman and the WWF for attacking his environmental record, stating: “We are 100% compliant with environmental standards . . . these reports only serve to demean the good people of Queensland Nickel”.

This incident came only weeks after newly released documents revealed that the refinery had purposely discharged large volumes of toxic waste into the reef waters in 2009 and 2011, despite being strictly forbidden to do so by the Marine Park Authority.

The documents also showed that the QLD Government was concerned with what it consideredongoing problems with capacity of the water management system” at the plant, which can easily overflow during heavy rain. Minister Powell’s department had given multiple warnings to Palmer to increase the capacity of its tailings dam. Litigation loving Clive has threatened to sue the GBR Marine Park Authority if they pursue legal action against him for discharging the waste.

In a statement, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority said: “We have strongly encouraged . . . options that do not entail releasing the material to the environment and to develop a management plan . . . however, GBRMPA does not have legislative control over how the Yabulu tailings dam is managed”. This is the responsibility of the QLD government, who have asked Palmer to expand the containment ponds by November to prevent overflow, or face a $1.1 million fine. But despite repeated environmental infringements at the refinery, Palmer has never been fined or charged, and continues to get away with just a slap on the wrist.

Clive 3

Image courtesy of katesenviroblog.com.au

Wendy Tubman of North Queensland Conservation Council has little faith in the QLD Government’s ability to police the refinery, or any company who harms the reef. She argues that: “There’s been a failure on behalf of the Government to actually take action when action should have been taken”.

Waratah Coal issued Environmental Protection Order

Further infringements relate to Clive Palmer’s Waratah Coal company. Last year, an Environmental Protection Order was issued against Waratah Coal “for not complying with their general environmental duty requirements”. Palmer failed to rehabilitate 300 coal exploration drill holes made on private cattle property, leaving landholders concerned about contamination of their groundwater supply.

These activities took place from 2009 during Palmer’s attempt to further his Galilee Coal Project, also known as the China First Project. The China First mine in the coal rich Galilee Basin was granted approval in December 2013 and will include 4 underground mines, 2 surface mines and coal processing facilities.

Unfortunately for residents of the Bimblebox Nature Refuge, this means around 4,000 hectares of their much loved refuge will be destroyed for an open-cut coal mine. Ecology expert Clive has assured us that Bimblebox is ‘not important’.

But those of us who will not gain economically from its destruction disagree. The reserve was previously protected from mining, with former QLD Premier Anna Bligh stating that “Labor’s policy would have the effect of ruling out mining in areas like Bimblebox nature refuge”.

Sadly, this promise was not matched by her LNP successor Campbell Newman. As a result of the destruction of over half of the land, Bimblebox will almost certainly lose its ‘refuge’ status, another helpless victim of the fossil fuel industry and Australia’s insatiable appetite for coal.

Most worrying is that the China First Project was approved while Waratah Coal was facing an Environmental Protection Order for failing to rehabilitate exploration holes. It shows just how meaningless environmental protections are to the QLD Government, but when its getting its advice from the coal industry, we can expect nothing less than shady behaviour and favours for big business.

The Abbot Point Gamble

It’s no shock to anyone that Clive Palmer is not a friend of the environment.  Nor is he unaccustomed to the occasional legal battle, either as the defendant or plaintiff.

What’s baffling is his pursuit of the T2 expansion, after BHP Billiton’s smart economic decision to pull out. More and more reports are telling us of the unviability of the Galilee Basin – coal is in structural decline, China’s renewable energy program is soaring, the price of coal has plummeted. The boom days are over. Not to mention the huge international spotlight on the reef, be it from UNESCO or Ben & Jerry’s, which undoubtedly has contributed to the mass withdrawal of companies like LendLease and Anglo Coal from Abbot Point. At home, two separate legal challenges are being fought against the approval, challenges which have the potential to succeed. Grassroots campaigning groups are growing stronger by the day, with a recent victory at Keppel Bay.

For once, economists, industry and environmentalists are in agreement – to pursue the Abbot Point development just doesn’t make sense.

Palmer has not yet been given the go ahead for T2.  Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney advised that a number of companies had expressed interest in taking over the development of T2 stating:The Queensland government is still considering its position with respect to the future development of the port”.

It’s not certain how Palmer’s chances weigh up given that only last week, Seeney called him “a crook” in Parliament. What is certain is the public’s complete lack of faith in the transparency of the government, and in its ability to make decisions in their best interests.

As the price of coal keeps sinking, Clive’s Titanic II seems like a better investment.

Clive 4

Image courtesy of katesenviroblog.com.au

This article was first published on “Kate’s Enviro Blog” and reproduced with permission.

What does Clive Palmer want?

Clive - what does he want? (image by smh.com.au)

Clive – what does he want? (image by smh.com.au)

The first Joe Hockey budget is about to be presented to parliament and to the people. There has been plenty of speculation about cuts to pensions and introducing Medicare co-payments, but it would still take a brave journalist to try and pre-empt what it will really contain. However, if any of the language being used both by Hockey and other ministers is close to the mark, it seems this government will dodge what is really needed. The one unknown they will have to contend with is Clive Palmer and his senate team. Will Clive roll over and wave the bills through the senate or will he make Abbott and Hockey sweat? Labor would do well to take a much closer look at this interesting development in the Australian political setting. Is it possible that the Palmer United Party isn’t all that concerned about the carbon tax and the mining tax and will not support its repeal? It’s possible.

While there is ample room for Hockey to cut some wasteful programs put in place by the Howard government, the real problem is falling revenue. And that means increasing taxes across the board. It also means NOT removing them, as in the case of the carbon tax and the mining tax. It means dumping election policy commitments such as Direct Action and the Paid Parental Leave Scheme. But is any of this likely to happen?

All the signs at the moment suggest not. Rather than upset their own constituency too early in the piece they will, I suspect, hit the broader community, the aged, the disadvantaged, the unhealthy, students and families; those areas where they think traditional Labor supporters most likely nest. That is their usual form. Apart from a brief period when the Howard government had shiploads of money coming in and looked like losing the 2004 and 2007 elections did they shower money on the very areas they will now attack to balance the budget. All the speculation and the rhetoric point us in this direction. Yet all of this could be avoided if they were to concentrate their efforts on the other side of the ledger, i.e. revenue. There are plenty of opportunities to raise additional revenue from increased personal tax to the GST to diesel fuel excise, but that means breaking election promises.

In the meantime Clive Palmer’s success at elections has opened up the possibility of a new dimension to his political aims, whatever they were or are now. His recent comments and his Northern Territory coup d’état suggest he is more interested in appealing to the broader electorate than furthering his own business interests. He opposes any cuts to pensions and has ridiculed the Coalition’s Direct Action approach to climate change. He also has a keen eye on the Victorian State election in November this year. All indications are that Labor will regain office after four years of Liberal mismanagement and disunity. A good showing for the PUP in Victoria could convince him that his political ambitions weren’t misplaced and that the next federal election could bring even more influence in the running of the country. To that end he would likely be persuaded to appeal to a broader base across the country.

The Commission of Audit has done its job and we should know its recommendations this week. In an atmosphere strikingly similar to the Henry Tax Report, Hockey will likely cherry pick the items that best suit the Coalition mindset. Much will be made of what is perceived as broken promises and the spin doctors will tell us otherwise. They will try to avoid another Gonski debacle. This time they will use well crafted language to justify their decisions. But the electorate will see through it anyway. And this time, Abbott and Hockey will also have to contend with Clive.

I suspect Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey are asking the question: What does Clive really want? It deserves more thought than most journalists are giving it. We only have to recall the success Don Chipp and his Australian Democrats had with disaffected voters in the eighties and nineties. There is a similar feeling in the air today and I think Clive Palmer has sensed it. Politics is an infectious animal. Popularity can be an alluring, beckoning charmer. Power is a far greater aphrodisiac than personal success and the timing couldn’t be better. I suspect the electorate is already well and truly over Tony Abbott. His leadership credentials just don’t stack up. There were similar thoughts about Malcolm Fraser in the late seventies. That prompted Don Chipp to make his move. His ‘keep the bastards honest’ campaign resonated well with disaffected liberals who then split their preferences equally between The Coalition and Labor. It could happen again. We know from similar past forays that the Palmer United Party probably won’t last. The DLP, the Democrats and One Nation are a testament to that. But for the time they are here they can wield enormous influence in the short term.

Joe Hockey’s management of the economy is the key. If he stuffs up as John Howard did when he was treasurer in the Fraser government, the Coalition will be in deep trouble with no small contribution from Clive Palmer. History has a way of repeating itself when no one pays attention to what is really happening.

Exposing the lie of politics

Image courtesy of tomohalloran.com

Image courtesy of tomohalloran.com

It is no surprise that when it comes to trust, collectively politicians rate very lowly. And individually there are many politicians that we definitely do not trust. Yet they continue to win our votes, if not our trust. In this guest post, Sir Scotch looks at this baffling phenomenon.

The well-known and quite rightly often maligned Readers Digest, over several years, have surveyed Australians, for the 50 professions they trust most. The list goes like this from the 2013 survey:

1.   Firefighters26. Builders
2.   Paramedics27. Alternative health practitioners
3.   Rescue volunteers28. Plumbers
4.   Nurses29. Mechanics
5.   Pilots30. Accountants
6.   Doctors31. Shop assistants
7.   Pharmacists32. Truck drivers
8.   Veterinarians33. Charity collectors
9.   Air traffic controllers34. Professional sportspeople
10. Farmers35. Bankers
11. Scientists36. Financial planners
12. Armed Forces personnel37. Airport baggage handlers
13. Police38. Clergy (all religions)
14. Dentists39. Lawyers
15. Teachers40. Tow-truck drivers
16. Childcare workers41. CEOs
17. Flight attendants42. Taxi drivers
18. Bus/Train/Tram drivers43. Journalists
19. Locksmiths44. Talkback radio hosts
20. Hairdressers45. Real estate agents
21. Postal workers46. Sex workers
22. Waiters47. Call centre staff
23. Computer technicians48. Insurance salespeople
24. Security guards49. Politicians
25. Cleaners50. Door-to-door salespeople

What does the list say about us as a country, as voters and as human beings? What are we able to learn from the way people vote, compared to the way people give credit, to people who would generally interact with them at some stage in their lives, though not necessarily, all that often, that politicians are only above door to door salesmen in those “trusted professions”?

Likewise, the most trusted people list, has several politicians in it, and that really is what we are about here. Why do Australians vote for folk they don’t trust, enough to admit to a survey taker, that they don’t trust them?

The first on the list is Malcolm Turnbull, at number 68, who is more trusted than Julian Assange. A funny outcome considering the normalcy of us, as voters expecting politicians to also be liars, since the two go hand in hand, and on any reading of the work of Julian Assange, who if one is to be completely fair, is the exact opposite, despite what is said by Rupert Murdoch and his tame typists, doing everything they are told.

It was Assange who brought to us the actual truth of the governments we elect in terms of their activities, after having spent years being told by politicians what they think we want to hear. Kevin Rudd appears just after Assange, again, a supreme obfuscator and liar, certainly in league with the Murdochracy, yet his trust rating is below that of Assange. Do punters actually know what Assange represents or are they dependant on the lies of the tame tabloid typists? The answer to that in simple terms appears to be a resounding “yes”. Without Murdoch and his co-conspirators, we are uninformed as a country. What a worrying situation!

Worrying, I’m thinking? Perhaps that’s why ethical politicians feel some control over media access makes sense.

Less ethical politicians of course, who tend to pop off to New York on the Murdoch cheque account, from both sides of the political divide it has to be said, don’t see it as an issue if the only paper/s in a whole state, come from one single self-absorbed egotistical octogenarian nabob, who isn’t even an Australian, (to avoid taxes not because of some high moral objection to Australian law or system), and the punters (you and me it could be said but I don’t buy his bullshit rags), is the framing device used to manage the entire Australia Conversation. And we accede to this? We are fools. Another correspondent a couple of weeks ago took me to task on the subject of the hyper generalisation inherent in “we get/have the government we deserve”. I have thought long and hard about how to assuage his disquiet at my generalisation, especially when I talked about the “water cooler conversation”, when we who see ourselves as “activist” in terms of our displeasure at the work of that failed priest currently occupying The Lodge, are given an opportunity to actually have a say to colleagues about the state of the nation.

My view is we don’t care to expose our distrust in case someone reports us to the boss, or holds us up as “agitators”, though in reality, that is what we need to be. We need to expose the negativity of a government for the corporations, such as we have had since Paul Keating first wound a French clock in an Armani double-breaster.

Lincoln, at Gettysburg opined, “. . . and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” But what are we, Australia, left with of that great hope?

Government by people we don’t trust, of people they don’t know, for people they don’t care enough about, to listen to, or ask what do we want from them. And we fail to call them to account!

Rather in secret little circles in darked back rooms in carefully managed blogs and fora, we cry out for “justice” but fail to act for those afflicted in PNG as a direct result or our inaction. We call for transparency, but ask little of the plans for the “TPP”, which stands ready to strip away more of our rights as members and citizens of a sovereign state. We ask for honesty, and then vote for Clive Palmer “because he offers some alternative to conservative politics”. I am yet to see an example of that.

We lie to ourselves as Australians. We lie to others, wearing the same cloak of humanity we had earned after Vietnam, failing to see the similarities between two wars fought for the US, with no other purpose, than to feed the industro-military swamp, which is the American economy.

Even our national anthem is a lie, but we still sing it at the football. We are afraid of change, a normal state for a conservative voter.

We are afraid of the pitfalls a new direction may bring. We are afraid of everything, but we still vote for people we don’t trust, who have proven themselves to be liars, time after time, we allow the same biumvirate of accession to the will of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to “guide” us on our way to hell.

Some vote Green, but the vote is meaningless we are told, even though almost 12% of the population vote for them. Why is the 12% so meaningless? Labor gets into bed with Bob Brown and
others with ethics and vision, and are immediately held up as some sort of traitors. But no one, even Antony Greene, of the ABC, can explain why that vote is wasted.

It appears to me that there is seems no offence that can be committed by our current government and opposition, which can be held up as an example of outrageous and egregious conduct. We are now seeing some of the minutiae of the goings-on in foreign affairs in the Carr/Gillard regime, where it was important enough to diarise that the carrier of choice had the effrontery to not provide pyjamas. We find the old Foreign Minister holds himself up as the success of the day when Australia got a spot on the Security Council of the United Nations. He fails to mention in his memoir that the process of getting that seat took longer than the time that the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd process was in play, but is happy to accept responsibility.

I am moved to remember, that Rudd himself also held up his hand as being responsible. All lies.

So we’re left with the question “what does the government have to do to get to a point where Australia realises that we’ve been had?” The short answer is exactly what they are doing now, without having to worry about the question being asked in the first place.

At what point will Australians realise that government is not being conducted for them, for their families, for their futures, for their country or for much else with anything approaching value. Government is in fact being conducted for the betterment of United States corporate interests and the re-election of the main offenders and little else.

 

A job application to Clive Palmer

Clive Palmer (image by news.com.au)

Clive Palmer (image by news.com.au)

Dear Mr Clive Palmer,

May I call you Mr? It’s not Sir Clive yet is it? I’m sure it will be in the offing should you aspire to a knighthood – it’s Tony’s best reward for pre-eminent people like you.

May I congratulate and commiserate with you on your entry into the sordid world of politics. I have watched your campaign and realised that you are a man who wants to get things done, a trait I admire. You have also said things that echoed with me like being a representative for the little people, the people without a voice. Some other things, not so much, but it would be a bad move for me to begin an application with criticism.

Your Senators now carry a grave responsibility – just ask Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott about that. With the balance of power they need to be familiar with every bill and every amendment. It’s a huge workload. I saw that Tony Abbott refused your request for extra personnel to help with the legislative workload, which is what prompted me to apply to help out. I will work for free for a period and if Tony changes his mind about that, and you find my work valuable, then a small stipend would be most helpful.

Obviously the carbon tax is a big issue that will require your attention in the immediate future. I have taken the opportunity to provide a brief summary for the Senators’ perusal with attached links should they require further reading. I am also happy to answer any questions should you or any of your iron force have one.

CARBON TAX

1. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim called for a price on carbon, requiring companies to disclose their climate risk exposure, and greater investment in green bonds in the fight against climate change.

2. The planet is “perilously close” to a climate change tipping point, and requires urgent cooperation between countries, cities and business, International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde has said. Addressing an audience in London, Lagarde said reducing subsidies for fossil fuels and pricing carbon pollution should be priorities for governments around the world.

“Overcoming climate change is obviously a gigantic project with a multitude of moving parts. I would just like to mention one component of it—making sure that people pay for the damage they cause. We are subsidizing the very behaviour that is destroying our planet, and on an enormous scale. Both direct subsidies and the loss of tax revenue from fossil fuels ate up almost $2 trillion in 2011—this is about the same as the total GDP of countries like Italy or Russia.”

3. John Kerry has described the UN’s latest report on the science of climate change as “chilling” and warns of a “potential catastrophe” without urgent action. The US Secretary of State made the remarks at the annual Munich Security Conference held at the weekend, citing terrorism, radical sectarianism, food security, water availability, and climate change as the “great tests of our time.”

Kerry also highlighted the potential financial benefits of moving to a low carbon economy, pointing to the $6 trillion energy market that will gain an extra five billion users by 2050. “It is the mother of all markets, and only a few visionaries are doing what is necessary to reach out and touch it and grab it and command its future,” he said.

Kerry warned of an “absence of collective leadership” from politicians where the environment is concerned. “We have enormous challenges. None of them are unsolvable. “That’s the agony of this moment for all of us. There are answers to all of these things, but there seems to be an absence of will, an absence of collective leadership,” he said.

4. Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN climate secretariat, said that it was amoral for people to look at climate change from a politically partisan perspective, because of its impact on future generations.

Figueres said that examples of recent extreme weather around the world were a sign climate change was here now. “If you take them individually you can say maybe it’s a fluke. The problem is it’s not a fluke and you can’t take them individually. What it’s doing is giving us a pattern of abnormality that’s becoming the norm. These very strange extreme weather events are going to continue in their frequency and their severity … It’s not that climate change is going to be here in the future, we are experiencing climate change.”

5. The independent Climate Change Authority, which advises on climate change action around the world, called for Australia to lift its emissions reductions goal from 5 per cent to 19 per cent to take into account international moves, Australia’s fair share and the urgency of the climate change threat.

Professor Garnaut believes the ultimate cost to the budget of the Abbott government’s climate policy could be much greater than $4 billion a year, given many countries are committing to more ambitious emissions reduction targets.

6. Senate Committee: Direct Action

Recommendation 1

2.63 The committee recommends that the Australian Government immediately adopt the emissions reduction targets outlined by the Climate Change Authority in its final report released on 27 February 2014. Namely that Australia’s 2020 minimum emissions reduction target be set at 15% below 2000 levels and that Australia’s carryover from the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol be used to raise the 2020 emissions reduction target by 4%, giving a total 2020 target of 19%.

Recommendation 5

3.143     The committee recommends that the transition of the fixed carbon price to a fully flexible price under an emissions trading scheme with the price determined by the market occur on 1 July 2014.

Recommendation 10

5.129   The committee recommends that the Emissions Reduction Fund not be substituted for the carbon pricing mechanism.

7. Growing numbers of investors and now being attracted by three key benefits of wind farms:

•Social Responsibility: Investing in clean renewable energy is socially responsible

•Lower Risk: Now that thousands of wind farms exist globally, construction and operational risks are very low.

•Longevity: Long term demand for renewable energy will increase driven by declining fossil fuel sources and carbon reduction policies.

8. National solar provider Energy Matters has released consumer insights that rank cities for solar viability and also reveal the true investment potential of solar power in comparison to shares, property, gold, global fixed interest or even fine art.

The figures will startle many; with it outperforming all other investment options using current ASX figures and other key organisations that rate investment opportunities.

The consumer insights also revealed Townsville in Queensland was Australia’s top address for solar, giving its residents a healthy return of investment of 21.8% per year. Other mainland capital cities included Brisbane (annual return of investment of 20.2%), Adelaide (19.1%), Sydney (18.9%), Perth 17.8%) and Melbourne (13.2%).

9. The solar PV industry employed about 13,600 as of late 2013, and the number will sink this year to about 12,300 across about 4300 businesses as state-based subsidies are wound back, according to a report for the REC Agents Association, a body representing firms that create and trade in renewable energy certificates.

The solar workforce, though, would dive immediately by 2000 if the government were to end support for the industry by scrapping the RET, with the total number of jobs lost or foregone swelling to 6750 by 2018, analysis of the research by industry group SolarBusinessServices found.

 10. China is spending billions to control air pollution, banning imports of low-grade coal, launching carbon-trading markets, exploring shale gas, getting more efficient, and building the crap out of renewables. And remember, it has its own coal mines. They just couldn’t keep up with the boom. Now that things are leveling off, domestic Chinese coal will get cheaper, they’ll buy more of it at home, and there will be less market for imports.

Since China was the main driver, its rapid deceleration will serve as a drag on the whole seaborne coal market. Goldman Sachs analysts “expect average annual growth (in demand) to decline to 1% in 2013-17 from 7% in 2007-12.”

No less an investor than the mighty Warren Buffett has proclaimed that the decline of coal in the U.S. will be gradual but inevitable. Given flat demand for electricity, cheap natural gas, burgeoning renewables, rising efficiency, and future carbon regulations, new coal-fired power plants are a bad bet, which is why they aren’t getting built.

11.  Economists are convinced that carbon pricing will yield the greatest environmental bang-for-buck at the lowest economic cost.

Recommendations:

  1. Get rid of your investments in coal and invest in renewable energy

  2. Move to a floating price ETS on July 1 either this year or next (preferably next)

  3. Increase our emission reduction target to 19% and confirm our renewable energy target of 20% by 2020

  4. Under no circumstances allow Tony Abbott to waste taxpayer money on that silly Emissions Reduction Fund bribery to polluters

  5. Give me a job

I hope this has been of use to you and your Senators in getting up to speed on the issue. I look forward to hearing from you in the near future to discuss terms of employment.

Yours faithfully

Kaye Lee

Dame-in-waiting

PS  I looked into your idea about reducing natural greenhouse gas emissions but have been unable to think of a way to stop respiration, evaporation, organic rotting, volcanoes or farting, but I will keep working on it.  By the by, cutting down trees is not a good start.

State elections: something to talk about

 

Image courtesy of smh.com.au

Image courtesy of smh.com.au

Today is a very important day. The states of South Australia and Tasmania go to the polls to choose the direction their respective states will take for the next four years. With the Abbott Liberal/National Government in charge in Canberra, South Australia and Tasmania will decide whether a Labor or a Liberal voice is the right one to represent their interests at the bargaining table.

The South Australian election is shaping up to be an intriguing tale of electoral fortune. The Labor Party, on the back of a 45-55 ReachTel poll, looks set for a loss but they will be buoyed by seat polling in two of their marginal seats showing the election is most certainly not a foregone conclusion. The Marshall-led Liberal Party is trying to end twelve years of Labor rule, and they will be hopeful of picking up the marginals Labor successfully defended in 2010.

The Tasmanian election on the other hand is not a question of who will win. The minority government of the Giddings led Labor Party and the McKim led Greens looks set to end, but will the Liberal Party get enough of the vote to gain an outright majority, or will they need to negotiate deals for a minority government? Will Labor remain the official opposition, or will the McKim led Greens garner enough seats to pass Labor and become the second largest party in the lower house? And what influence will Clive Palmer’s Palmer United Party have on the result in the Apple Isle?

Plenty of questions remain on election day. Join the Infinitive’s* live blog with their election analyst Aaron Bakota when polls close and take part in the conversation!

South Australia

Tasmania

* Infinitive is an independent media site supported by The AIM Network.

Clive Palmer and his Party, or And Then There Were Four

The first thing that everyone needs to remember is that individuals, not parties, are elected into our Parliament.

We have evolved some conventions – such as a senator, dying or retiring mid-term will be replaced by a senator of the same party – but as Joh Bjelke-Petersen showed when he appointed Albert Field, there is no Constitutional necessity to uphold these conventions.

There have been many examples of elected representatives leaving a party mid-term to become Independents, and while there have been fewer who’ve actually changed parties, it’s not without precedent.

So Senator-elect, Ricky Muir, is entirely free to join Clive and all the other Palmers.

However, it’s certainly rare – as in I can’t find a single example – that such a thing would happen BEFORE the elected candidate has even spoken to the media, let alone taken his seat in Parliament.

According to Clive Palmer, his memorandum of understanding with Ricky Muir is private and confidential.

There may be an argument for this, but we’re entering dangerous territory. Already governments avoid scrutiny by citing very dubious “commercial in confidence” reasons for not giving us the full story on many projects. The idea that political parties themselves can enter into “agreements” with other political parties without giving us the details opens the door – or should that be closes the door? – on some potentially shady dealings.

While there’s no reason to think that the deal between Palmer and Muir is based on anything other than a mutual understanding and the highest of motives, how would we feel if it were not a party run by a man of such high integrity as Clive Palmer?

For example, I’ve just formed the “Rossleigh’s I’m Awesome and I Love it When I Get Money” Party. Ok, I was a bit late to run for this year’s election but I’ve entered into an understanding with Joe Blog who won a Senate Seat. He’s agreed to support my party’s position on all legislation, and in return we have an understanding that I’ll throw my weight behind him in any way I can, including holding my wedding in a resort of his choice. Have I offered him any financial inducement? Well, that’s none of anyone’s business…

Of course, the situation with Palmer and Muir is different. As Clive said on election night, “Mate, I’ve got more money than you could ever dream of, what’s the conflict of interest? I want to get ideas going, you know … how much money could I get out of the government? You don’t need to judge people by how much money they’ve got, it’s the content of their character that matters.” So I’m sure we don’t have to worry that there’s any problem in this case.

It’s the precedent that worries me.

Particularly in a Senate where every vote is going to count. The expected makeup is 33 Coalition Senators, 26 from the ALP, nine Greens, four Palmer United Party/Ricky Muir coalition and four independents or sole representatives of minor parties. (This could change depending on the result involving The Greens Scott Ludlam).

But at least we know that Tony Abbott won’t be caving in to demands from any of these senators and making any agreements that we’re not privy to. Remember he said this before the election: ‘There’s a commitment that I want to give you … There will not be deals done with independents and minor parties under any political movement that I lead.”

Like I said before, it’s the precedent that I find disturbing!

Is this a rhetorical question? My new political party.

Party

Hi, and welcome to the Launch of Rossleigh’s Brisbane’s Australia United Party, not to be confused with Katter’s Australia Party or Palmer’s United Australia Party. (Kats and PUPs)

And certainly don’t confuse me with Tony Abbott’s Real Solutions – there IS NO CONNECTION WHATSOEVER!

OUR PLAN

These are the things I believe should be our priorities:

  1. Economy. A STRONG economy, MORE jobs, and STABLE prices.

  2. Less POLLUTION while increasing economic activity by making coal CLEANER.

  3. Better TEACHERS meaning that ALL children will learn to spell perfectly.

  4. Health – Less illness, reducing COSTS.

  5. Asylum Seekers – less WARS leading to less people wanting to leave their country.

  6. Families – NICER families, leading to LESS divorce.

  7. No new TAXES, only LEVIES

  8. A BALANCED budget through less WASTE on things like aged care, education and aboriginal health.

  9. A freeing up of regulations on small business so they are free to hire more people.

  10. You can do what you like – we won’t interfere (unless you’re gay and want to get married)

  11. We will enable you to have WHATEVER broadband speed you like. You just have to pay someone to install the Cable or Copper from Sydney or Melbourne.

We have a clear, well thought out PLAN, which uses CAPITAL LETTERS so that you know WHAT’S IMPORTANT.

Here is a LINK to our plan.

Why I don’t make predictions . . . and why I never will

I really shouldn't make predictions (image from dreamstime.com)

I really shouldn’t make predictions (image from dreamstime.com)

In the Fortune Teller’s Tent

Madame Claire: Good afternoon, if you cross my palm with silver, I’ll tell you your future.

Unnamed Politician: No thanks, I’m . . . ah . . . keeping my money till I find out whether you’re the real thing.

Madame Claire: But didn’t your good friend Peter send you after my accurate reading of him?

Politician: Ah . . . yes, but I . . . ah . . .  don’t trust Peter – this could be some sort of trick.

Madame Claire: Very well, how about if I give you this initial reading and after that, if you need my services, you’ll just pay me twice as much the way you intend to do with outsourcing and the public service.

Politician: Ah… You’ll have to do better than that, you could have predicted that from looking at what the State Liberals do.

Madame Claire: The first thing you want to know is who will win the election.

Politician: Obviously. So . . . ah, do I?

Madame Claire: That depends on what you mean by “win”.

Politician: Look, it’s ah . . . a perfectly simply thing.

Madame Claire: Well, who won the last election?

Politician: Er . . . We did, but Labor stayed in power because they bribed the independents with trinkets and promises of faster internet.

Madame Claire: Well, I see very few winners out of the next election.

Politician: I . . . ah, don’t follow.

Madame Claire: I see a man with a big hat who is smiling. Or is it sneering.

Politician: That’d be Katter.

Madame Claire: The media want to know where he’ll be directing his votes.

Politician: His vote.

Madame Claire: No, his votes. And he is saying that he’ll be meeting with a big man named Clive in the next few days.

Politician: Clive Palmer?

Madame Claire: I don’t know. I only have glimpses. The future is a mist. Nothing is certain. It can all be re-written differently.

Politician: Ah . . . sort of like News Limited does for us.

Madame Claire: Not exactly. It’s more like your Real Solutions document. A trained eye can see something, but only through a veil . . . And certain words and phrases keep blocking me from seeing the whole picture.

Politician: What are they?

Madame Claire: “Labor’s fault”, “bigger than we thought”, “aspiration, not a promise”. And the letters N D I and S keep confusing things. Do these letters mean anything to you?

Politician: Not a thing.

Madame Claire: Ah I’m getting something else Gone . . . Gone . . . Ski?

Politician: Gone skiing?

Madame Claire: No, Gonski, that’s it. A man named Gonski is threatening you.

Politician: No, we’ve dealt with that. We’ve told everyone that the system is just fine. Apart from the private schools not getting enough federal money. But you haven’t answered the important question – do we win?

Madame Claire: Who’s “we”? And what does it mean to “win”?

Politician: Do I become Prime Minister?

Madame Claire: I’m sorry, but you’ll have wait until after the election when I can charge consultancy rates.

SHE BEGINS TO EXIT.

Politician: Wait, I need to know. Those votes Katter was talking about . . . were they the Lower House or the Senate?

Madame Claire: Why should I tell you, when you refused to cross my palm with silver?

Politician: I don’t have any. Labor cornered the market on silver when they offered Peter Slipper the Speaker’s Chair, but perhaps I could offer you a job somewhere.

Madame Claire: Such as?

Politician: What do you want? Media Watch Presenter? Tim Flannery’s job? Head of the FUTURE fund?

Madame Claire: Aren’t you overlooking something?

Politician: What?

Madame Claire: You aren’t Prime Minister yet . . .

 

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