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Tag Archives: Green Climate Fund

That was then…this is now

In 2011 Joe Hockey said “No qualifications, all the excuses that Wayne Swan talks about – falling commodity prices, a high Australian dollar, nominal growth not being up to standard. Somehow the GFC is ongoing all the time.  So yes, we are upset about this … they think the Australian people over summer will forget the solemn promises.”

This week, when admitting that MYEFO will show the deficit has deepened and the promise of a surplus in 2018-19 has been abandoned, Hockey said “We have faced some significant headwinds this year. Obviously the global economy has come off a bit, iron ore prices have dropped dramatically and we have had some opposition in the Senate that has made it harder.”

After rubbishing the Rudd government’s stimulus spending, Hockey now says the delayed surplus was a deliberate measure to avoid dampening economic activity with a sharp withdrawal of public money.

“We want to keep the economy going, we want to keep it strong …we want to keep that momentum going.”

And he isn’t the only one finding governing is a tad harder than bagging out the other guy.

When the Labor government sought a seat on the UN Security Council, Julie Bishop said “There really has been no justification for the benefit that will accrue to Australia by pursuing a seat at this time.”

Then, in a press conference in New York in November, Ms Bishop delighted in taking an extra minute to remind journalists who’d failed to ask about Australia’s achievements on the Security Council of the “successful two years” our membership had delivered.

Julie has rather enjoyed basking in the limelight but she has also had her problems.

In an interview with the ABC in 2012 while in opposition, Ms Bishop said climate change funding should not be “disguised as foreign aid funding”.

“We would certainly not spend our foreign aid budget on climate change programs,” she said.

In an interview with the Australian in November last year, Mr Abbott said “We are committed to dismantling the Bob Brown bank [the Clean Energy Finance Corporation] at home so it would be impossible for us to support a Bob Brown bank on an international scale.”

After a meeting with Angela Merkel in November this year, Tony Abbott said of the Green Climate Fund “We also have a Clean Energy Finance Corporation which was established by the former government and there is $10bn in capital which has been allocated to this.  In addition to those two funds a proportion of our overseas aid, particularly in the Pacific, is allocated for various environmental schemes including schemes to deal with climate change. So, we are doing a very great deal and I suppose given what we are doing we don’t intend, at this time, to do more.”

Less than a month later, Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the government would take $200 million from Australia’s foreign aid budget over four years to put into the Green Climate Fund.

“I think it’s now fair and reasonable for the government to make a modest, prudent and proportionate commitment to this climate mitigation fund,” he said, adding that the $200 million would be “strictly” invested in “practical” projects in the Asia Pacific region, even though he has no part in the administration of the fund.

Keeping up with Christopher Pyne on education funding is harder than working out Dutton’s GP co-payment or Abbott’s Paid Parental Leave scheme.

One thing Pyne has continually stressed is the need to improve teacher quality yet the budget tends to indicate he only wants to do that in private schools.

“The Government will achieve savings of $19.9 million over five years from 2013‑14 through efficiencies in the operations of the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) including a refocus on core priorities. This includes savings of $9.5 million over five years from 2013‑14 from funding allocated to AITSL by the former Government for its National Plan for School Improvement.

The savings from this measure will be redirected by the Government to repair the Budget and fund policy priorities.

The Government will provide $4.9 million over two years from 2013‑14 to the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership for the continuation of the Australian Government Quality Teacher Programme (AGQTP). The AGQTP provides funding to non‑government education authorities in each state and territory to improve the quality of education through projects and activities that offer teachers and school leaders opportunities to develop their skills.”

If I was to try to list all the inconsistencies, backflips, and hypocrisies being committed on a daily basis by this government it would be a full-time job requiring daily updates.  And they will be forced into more because their entire approach to governing has been just wrong.

Tony Abbott sees negotiation as weakness and compromise as failure.  He is utterly incapable of admitting to being wrong – “We had a good policy, now we have a better one”.  He must blame others for any problems because it couldn’t possibly be that he is doing anything amiss, even as we have Hockey now grudgingly realising the benefits of stimulus spending.

Tony Abbott is so woeful even his most ardent admirers are forced to report their disappointment.  Fluff pieces with morning show hosts even turn into fiascos as Ben Jenkins reports.

It’s actually just a case of the PM suffering from a phenomenon political scientists call “being extremely shithouse at interviews”.

While Abbott tries valiantly to smash the ship of state through the iceberg of public opinion, it’s easy to forget that our prime minister is, and always has been, a terrible interviewee. His complete inability to change tack renders any interview a stilted exchange with a distressingly sinewy random word generator, in which an answer matching a question is purely a matter of chance.

True, it’s better than his previous strategy of “wordlessly stare into Mark Riley’s soul until he leaves you alone out of pure awkwardness”, but not by a huge margin. Abbott is so unwilling to back down on any matter at all that when he calls David Koch “Chris” for a second time during the interview, the PM doesn’t even acknowledge it, let alone apologise.

When the script stinks and the lead actor is a ham who cannot improvise who is supported by a cast of theatrical sycophants directed by Rasputin in animal print our government is now a farce waiting to become a tragedy.

“but Gough Whitlam I will never be!”

In the many tributes that flowed to Gough Whitlam, we were reminded of his impact on the geo-cultural-political map of Australia.  As Cate Blanchett put it:

“I am the beneficiary of free, tertiary education. When I went to university I could explore different courses and engage with the student union in extracurricular activity. It was through that that I discovered acting.

I am the product of an Australia that wanted, and was encouraged, to explore its voice culturally.

I am the beneficiary of good, free healthcare, and that meant the little I earned after tax and rent could go towards seeing shows, bands, and living inside my generation’s expression. I am a product of the Australia Council.

I am the beneficiary of a foreign policy that put us on the world stage and on the front foot in our region. I am the product of an Australia that engages with the globe and engages honestly with its history and its indigenous peoples.”

The contrast between that optimistic era when Australia stood up and took its place on the world stage, and the pessimism and fear the nation feels now, could not be more stark.

We have Christopher Pyne fighting tooth and nail to make university education a commodity, for sale to the highest bidder.  Private colleges are rubbing their hands in glee as they line up to reap the rewards of privatising tertiary education while the universities meekly fall in line under threats of having their research funding cut if they don’t.

The budget also slashed $110 million in funding from the cultural sector.  Screen Australia was cut by $25.1 million, while the Australia Council lost $28.2 million.

However, George Brandis was happy to give a $1 million grant to the Australian Ballet School, to help with its purchase of a new boarding residence.  Armed with that taxpayer money, the school spent more than $4.7 million on a mansion.

On the board of the Australian Ballet School is Daniele Kemp, the high-profile wife of former Liberal arts minister Rod Kemp, a predecessor of George Brandis as arts minister. Mr Kemp is now the chairman of the Institute of Public Affairs, a right-wing lobby group.

Despite the obvious productivity benefits of having a healthy population, and the oft repeated promise not to cut health funding, we saw $368 million cut from preventative health measures, the closure of Medicare locals, tens of billions cut from hospital funding to the states, and the closure of groups like the Alcohol and Drug Advisory Council.

Sending a “price signal” to stop people from seeing a GP has been condemned by all health experts as being counter-productive yet, once again, the short term budget bottom line is all this government cares about.

Not content with attacking health, education, welfare, and the arts on the domestic scene, this government is systematically drawing away from our obligations as a global citizen.

Foreign Aid has been slashed by $7.6 billion with speculation that it will be further cut to pay for Tony’s war on terror both here and abroad.

We have refused to contribute to the United Nations Green Climate Fund to assist developing nations cope with global warming, cut $4 million from the UN Environment Program (UNEP), which provides advice on environmental policies and climate change negotiations, and declared coal the saviour of humanity which will lift the world from poverty.

In response to the urgent Ebola crisis, we donated a miniscule amount of money while refusing to send health workers.  Excuses abounded but as they were stripped away, we still saw our government unwilling to send any physical help, outsourcing the job to one of their donors who will no doubt employ local Africans to maximise their profits.

Joe Hockey has been making noise about joining a global effort to crack down on tax avoidance while announcing an amnesty for offshore tax cheats, delaying signing the information-sharing deal signed by 40 countries while they consult with business, and slashing thousands of jobs from the ATO leaving them without the staff or expertise to pursue evaders.

Scott Morrison continues to pursue border security and immigration policies that do nothing to help the tens of millions of refugees that other countries are coping with.  Instead, we are bribing officials in the world’s poorest countries to take the problem off our hands and refusing to work with the transit countries clogged with people seeking our help.

And as for our Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs, they have been some of the hardest hit.  The budget cut $534 million from Indigenous programs.  Changing the pension age to 70, charging a GP co-payment, cuts to Family Benefits and changes to Newstart – all of these measures will have a huge impact on the Indigenous community.

Tony Abbott has made so many disrespectful remarks about Australia being “unsettled” before the European invasion when Australian history began and has been constantly negative about Aboriginal communities.

“Whenever I’m asked about what we’re trying to do in Indigenous policy, I say it’s really quite simple; get the kids to school, get the adults to work and keep communities safe,” Abbott said.

Former Australian of the Year, Professor Mick Dodson, responded to this by saying it perpetuated negativity about Indigenous people.

“It’s a three-piece mantra, as if we don’t have social and cultural needs, as if we don’t have linguistic needs, as if we don’t exist as a people,” Professor Dodson said. “It’s a three-trick pony – and a very small pony at that.  I mean, all of those three things are about our failure, supposedly, because we’re Aboriginal.  I mean the negativity actually makes people sick. The reality is many, many of us are very successful.  We never hear about them from you guys [the media]. You’re too busy on the entertainment of black failure and that’s where the government’s mind seems to be and where the public discourse seems to be.”

So frustrated are the Indigenous people, they recently held a Freedom Summit in Alice Springs to elect leaders to speak for them.

Amy McQuire writes

The summit comes a few months after NT Chief Minister Adam Giles made calls to water down the NT Aboriginal Land Rights Act, the first land rights law in Australia, in the name of “economic development”.

Tauto Sansbury is one of the organisers of the summit, and has a long history in Aboriginal affairs, including working with commissioners for the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.

He told New Matilda the current political climate had forced Aboriginal Australia to act.

“The political climate for Aboriginal people across Australia is not good. The Abbott government has cut $543 million and is looking to cut more out of the federal budget…

“The Barnett government in WA is planning to move up to 12 000 Aboriginal people off their traditional lands and South Australia is talking about the same thing.

“We have high incarceration rates, high suicide rates, Aboriginal kids being taken off their parents and placed in out-of-home care.

“We have major issues and no one in government is listening. We don’t have people to speak on behalf of their own communities. We’ve got a problem of a very selective representation that has been picked by the federal government and that’s not acceptable to us. That’s not the outcome we’re seeking.

“Tony Abbott is supposed to be the Prime Minister for Indigenous affairs but he’s not listening to us.”

Tony is listening to Peta Credlin, Rupert Murdoch, Gina Rinehart, Maurice Newman, Tony Shepherd, Dick Warburton, Jim Molan, Warren Mundine, Kevin Donnelly, Christopher Monckton, George Pell, and the combined mining companies and armaments manufacturers of the world.  He is listening to James Packer and Phillip Morris and the AHA.  He is listening to big pharmaceutical firms and private hospital providers.

But he is deaf to the pleas for help from those who really need it.

When Tony Abbott said in his speech to the IPA “but Gough Whitlam I will never be!” he could not have been more accurate.

 

To be rich is indeed glorious…

tony-abbott-and-xi-jiinpingAnd there we have it – a snapshot of our Prime Minister from his own lips.

“TONY Abbott has described his visit to China as the most important ever undertaken by an Australian leader and has congratulated the Communist country for its pursuit of wealth.”

As Abbott echoed Deng Xiaoping’s advice that “to get rich is glorious”, 700 Australian businessmen are about to sit down with their Chinese counterparts to determine just how glorious they can be. They won’t be discussing climate change or pollution. They won’t be discussing human rights abuses or health. And they most definitely will not be discussing those inglorious poor.

Pope Francis may have a different idea of glory. He recently warned that the existing financial system that fuels the unequal distribution of wealth and violence must be changed, and he begged the Lord to “grant us more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people, the lives of the poor.”

“How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?” Pope Francis asked an audience at the Vatican.

In an apostolic exhortation he wrote:

“As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation, and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems.

A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which has taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits”

He goes on to explain that in this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which has become the only rule we live by.

“Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills,”

The World Economic Forum in Davos identified the large and growing income gap between rich and poor as the biggest risk to the global community in the next decade. The WEF said its annual survey of 700 opinion formers had identified the income gap, extreme weather events and unemployment or underemployment as the three threats most likely to cause major cross-border damage in the next 10 years.

Jonathan D. Ostry, the I.M.F.’s deputy head of research, and Andrew Berg, another economist at the fund, published a study three years ago suggesting that inequality makes growth less durable.  A flatter distribution of income, the study concluded, contributes more to sustainable economic growth than the quality of a country’s political institutions, its foreign debt and openness to trade, its foreign investment and whether its exchange rate is competitive.

Economic policy cannot be only about promoting low inflation and robust growth. Healthy, stable economies also depend on a reasonably equitable distribution of the rewards.

Hugh Evans, the Australian founder and chief executive of The Global Poverty Project (GPP), told an audience at the International Monetary Fund-World Bank Spring Meetings on Thursday that Tony Abbott “broke his promise” after his election victory.

“He slashed the foreign aid budget dramatically which will have far-reaching consequences for the world’s poor,” Evans, standing before World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, told the audience. “We don’t want this single act of political indecency to undo the great work Australia has done to help end extreme poverty.”

Meanwhile, Joe Hockey criticised delays in implementing changes agreed by the Group of 20 bloc of advanced and developing nations in 2010, which he said were letting down the international community and were entirely the fault of the U.S. Congress.

“I am deeply disappointed that the IMF quota and governance reforms that the G20 agreed to in 2010 have still not been implemented and that the path forward for ratification is now highly uncertain,” he said at an event organized by Johns Hopkins University.

“The failure to finalize this issue diminishes America’s global standing instead of enhancing it.”

I wonder how that compares to Abbott’s refusal to support the green climate fund supported by the United Nations. In the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka, Australia joined with Canada in snubbing the green climate fund. Mr Abbott called it the “green capital fund” while calling the profitable Clean Energy Finance Corp. the “Bob Brown Bank” after the former head of the Australian Greens.

The government of a democracy is accountable to the people. It must fulfil its end of the social contract. And, in a practical sense, government must be accountable because of the severe consequences that may result from its failure. As the outcomes of fighting unjust wars and inadequately responding to critical threats such as global warming illustrate, great power implies great responsibility.

Government economic responsibility is linked to protection from the negative consequences of free markets. The government must defend us against unscrupulous merchants and employers, and the extreme class structure that results from their exploitation.

Governments argue that people need to be assisted with the economic competition that now dominates the world. But the real intent of this position is to justify helping corporate interests, siding against local workers, consumers and the environment.

This government has tossed out its job description and is on a corporate crusade. They are capitalist fundamentalists who believe all things public are bad and all things private are good, and they are determined to use their time in power to sell off Australia and to further the interests of their wealthy donors.

According to Tony Abbot’s description, Gina Rinehart must be the most glorious person in Australia – although I think she lives in Singapore? For me, the glorious people are those that care for others – the carers, nurses, social workers, teachers, paramedics, firemen, charities, volunteers, environmentalists, animal protection activists. Our scientists are glorious with their amazing research into a sustainable, healthy future, as are our artists and musicians who speak to our senses and our souls.

I used to think Australians were a pretty glorious race in general. Now I am not so sure.

 

So how’s Tony Abbott’s Australia traveling so far?

We have been condemned worldwide for our moves to repeal the ‘carbon tax’, our abolition of climate change bodies and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) (even though it’s making a substantial profit), our failure to send a politician to the Warsaw climate change talks and our refusal to provide any funding for the Green Climate Fund. At the Warsaw talks we received 4 Fossil of the Day awards, caused a walkout by other delegates frustrated with our obstruction, and were given the overall Colossal Fossil award.

We have been condemned for, not only attending the CHOGM meeting in Sri Lanka, praising its government and excusing it’s human rights abuses, but for arming said government with 2 gun boats at a cost of $2 million to us, so they can stop people fleeing from their abuse.

We have been condemned for interfering in the dispute between China and Japan and openly siding with Japan (and America). We have been rebuked for comments made by our Foreign Minister criticising China and for her action of calling in the Chinese Ambassador to chastise him.

We have been criticised for abandoning Palestine, ignoring an International Law Court ruling and giving tacit approval to controversial activities including the expansion of Jewish settlements in the occupied territories.

We have insulted Indonesia before the election by saying “we don’t need their permission” to turn back boats, and after, by the inept handling of the spying allegations. In the ultimate ironic twist, Indonesia is now threatening to halt the live cattle trade.

We have upset PNG by firstly calling their leader a liar before the election and since by not honouring our promise to use local businesses on Manus island.

We have been widely condemned for our inhumane treatment of asylum seekers, placing them in indefinite detention and carrying out acts of bastardry such as separating a mother from her newborn, separating families and sending unaccompanied minors to offshore detention camps.

We are in the process of dismantling the mining tax just when it was set to start making us a return as mining companies move from the investment to the production phase. Whilst the mining companies may be chuckling about this one, we just gave away billions in future revenue.

After being told this government’s priority was to pay down the debt and to live within its means, we are now being asked to increase the debt limit by $200 billion; a lot more than the $50 billion that the Coalition said was unacceptable when Labor did it, and the promise of a surplus has disappeared.

When every group from schools to the productivity commission to big business to social welfare groups says that education is a crucial factor in improving the economy, productivity, lifestyle and well-being, we have our Education Minister doing a complete back flip on his pre-election promise and abandoning the education funding reforms.

Countless charities, NFPs and community groups have had promised funding cut; eliminating vital services and putting many people out of work.

Assistance to the car industry has been slashed which is threatening to cause the industry, which employs 230,000 indirectly, to close completely. We have been told we should not prop up the industry whilst we give far greater assistance to the banks and mining companies who continue to make record profits. And now it seems that State Premiers are being offered bonus funding to privatise assets, and Qantas looks like getting sold to foreigners.

Tony Abbott has been condemned by a majority of the population for challenging the ACT legislation for marriage equality and not allowing a conscience vote in Parliament.

Tony Abbott is changing the marine park laws, delaying the Murray-Darling water buy-back, scrapping the schoolkid’s bonus, the superannuation guarantee increase, the superannuation co-contribution, the periodic payment to pensioners, scrapping the increase in the tax free threshold to 19,400 people and scrapping the instant asset write-off for small business.

Tony Abbott has halted the rollout of the NBN whilst they do a whole heap of dancing which won’t be amounting to anything anytime soon.

I have always said that there is good in everyone, and it’s important to find it. Help me out here. I’m struggling to find one positive thing that has happened since this government came into power but the negative list grows by the minute. Their only goal is to erase every piece of legislation passed by the Gillard Government regardless of its worth. It has become so much of an obsession for them that they are willing to sacrifice millions in revenue and research and development of renewable energy, funded by the CEFC, which is making a PROFIT, whilst increasing our renewable energy market share. That is the PRIME example of cut off your nose to spite your face, but they are too set on their crusade to listen.

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