Monday, November 24, 2014

Why left feminists don't like kids

"Biffo" (Former ALP leader Mark Latham) has a go below. There have been shrieks of protest from feminists over this article  but I think he is pretty right.  I am impressed by and agree with his child-orientation --  and his past as a Leftist leader should earn his words serious consideration among Leftists.  He is a perpetually angry man but I think that, at the end of the day, he does have a heart.  I think he is a man I would like to meet.  I am sure his wife never has a dull moment with Mark around

I love a social experiment, so last Saturday, I broke the habit of a lifetime and read the agony-aunt pages of The Sydney Morning Herald. I should have done so years ago, as an exercise in political awareness.

It nearly knocked me off my chair, as I confronted the core arguments of left-feminism. The inner-Sydney writer Lisa Pryor said the only way in which she can cope with "raising two small children while studying medicine full-time" is through "caffeine and anti-depressants".

Apparently, this is her standard answer whenever anyone asks: "How do you do it all?"

I felt depressed myself, at the thought of a Fairfax columnist describing one of life's great responsibilities, the raising of infant children, as requiring "neurochemical assistance".

Why do people like this have children in the first place? How will the children feel when they grow up and learn that they pushed their mother onto anti-depressants?

The sadness of these circumstances is aggravated by a broader political point. A major part of left feminist campaigning has involved the demonisation of children.

You know the refrain: men have rigged the rules of society by dominating the workforce, while women are left with the agony of domestic duties, the nightmare of raising kids.

Women in western Sydney with no neuroses

It's widely assumed that home-based life is pathetically menial. So much so, in Pryor's case, that only a cocktail of little red pills and caffeine-overload can ease the burden.

Yet, in truth, this is a political hoax. Women I speak to in western Sydney, who have no neuroses or ideological agenda to push, regard child-rearing as a joy. Financially, if they can avoid work, that's their preference.

Home life gives them the freedom to pursue their recreational interests and bond with the most important people in their lives, their children.

Other than for money, why would anyone want to commute and toil long hours for businesspeople?

With only 2 per cent of Australian men serving as the primary carers of their children, the left-feminist orthodoxy has been allowed to dominate the political debate. Men have been sucked into thinking that work life is inherently superior to a life raising children. From a male perspective, alternative views have not been aired.

So let me explain another experiment. What happens when an opposition leader quits politics, decides that he hates the prospect of working for other people and becomes the primary carer of his three children?

In my case, the results, for nearly a decade now, have been splendid. Sure, there's the odd hiccup and flash of frustration in full-on parenting, but the rewards are immense.

Left feminism is akin to a psychoneurotic disorder

My lifestyle has never been more satisfying. Whether it's my daughter's smile, my eldest son's Aussie irreverence or the belly laughter of my youngest son - these are my anti-depressants, every hour, every day. What is Pryor going on about?

I'm sure I'm just as busy as her: looking after a huge native garden at home, cooking gourmet meals for my family, pursuing a few business interests, writing books and The Australian Financial Review columns and, most crucially, preserving time for my children's homework, conversation and love. When I explain this reality to my male friends, they are incredibly envious. Each of them wants to swap places.

But the inner-city feminists know little of this. They spend a lot of time complaining, ostensibly on behalf of other women, yet their real priority is themselves. More often than not, they don't like children and don't want to be with them. They use political feminism as a release valve, trying to free themselves from nature's way.

Thus left feminism is akin to a psychoneurotic disorder: externalising personal feelings of distress and deficiency into the demonisation of children.

This is why people in the suburbs, especially women, distrust the likes of Pryor. Their political agenda is seen as unrepresentative and self-serving. At a personal level, it's also cowardly: popping pills as an easy way out, instead of facing up to the responsibilities of adulthood.


Vic Labor to review homosexual adoption

SAME sex adoption could be on the cards if Labor wins next Saturday's Victorian state election.

OPPOSITION leader Daniel Andrews says legislation that unfairly discriminates against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex Victorians will be identified and changed under a proposal to put equality at the heart of the government's agenda.

Adoption laws will be reviewed with a view to allowing same sex adoption, while laws that facilitate employers to discriminate based on sexuality will also be amended, Mr Andrews said.

"When one person faces discrimination, it lessens us all," he said. "This is a problem we must face together.

"I'll never tolerate homophobia in my party room and I'll never water down our laws to allow discrimination."

Mr Andrews said a dedicated cabinet role would be introduced as well as a government ministerial advisory committee.

"Equality will be back on the agenda under Labor, so Victoria can be prouder, fairer and safer," Mr Andrews said.


Reserve Bank of Australia governor Glenn Stevens asks if it's too hard to hire and fire workers

BUSINESS groups have backed suggestions by Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Glenn Stevens that it is too hard to sack workers.

But the Coalition Government, still smarting over the backlash to John Howard's Work Choices laws, refused to be drawn into the issue.

In a speech to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia this week, Mr Stevens admitted his comments might get him into trouble.  "I think these questions are increasingly being asked and it's about whether our overall business environment is conducive enough to risk taking and innovation," he said.

"Whether we are doing enough to develop the relevant competencies and capabilities for the modern world.

"The question might include ones like, how easy is it to start a business if the business fails, as many do, particularly small ones? Is it easier enough to try again?

"How easy it is to hire employees, and I know I'll get in trouble for saying this, but how easy it is also to let the employees go if those don't work?  " Because if it's too hard to let them go then it's too hard to hire them to begin with," Mr Stevens said.

Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland spokesman Nick Behrens said the Reserve Bank Governor had hit the nail on the head.

"Queensland employers are actively steering clear of employing individuals because of the difficulty in terminating employment," he said.  "In short the Fair Work Act is now holding back employment because businesses are just not prepared to take the risk of hiring someone who turns out to be wrong person for that organisation.

"Some businesses are also citing that if they are uncertain about a person and it's a lineball decision then they will use the end of probation period to separate ways.

"That is because it is so difficult to get rid of an employee after their end of probation duration they err on the side of caution and do not proceed with the employee. It's just not worth the risk.

"If you have the likes of Glenn Stevens now weighing in to the debate on workplace relations, a person who never comments publicly on these types of issues, we know that we have serious problem on our hands."

The Government refused to comment yesterday.  But Opposition employment spokesman Brendan O'Connor leapt on the comments, trying to tie the message to the Coalition's deeply unpopular WorkChoices campaign, launched about eight years ago.

"Before the election, Tony Abbott promised he wouldn't touch workers' conditions.  "Instead, we have seen this Government returning to the dark days of WorkChoices with its plans to attack penalty rates, wages and workplace safety.  "The Abbott Government would like to see a rise in precarious employment, Labor does not."

The Productivity Commission is reviewing workplace laws - including penalty rates and unfair dismissal - but pledged any changes would be introduced in its second term.


Human Rights Commission chief Gillian Triggs drowning in her own evidence

Lying old bag covered up for the Labor Party on boat arrivals before the Federal election

THE future of Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs is under a cloud after a disastrous appearance before a Senate committee, during which she contradicted her evidence about the political considerations of delaying an inquiry into children in detention. Under questioning, Professor Triggs revealed she had decided an inquiry was necessary early last year but did not act until after the federal election because she feared it would be "highly -politicised" and "very destructive".

And after denying she raised the matter with Labor before the election, she later admitted discussing it with two former immigration ministers, Chris Bowen and Tony Burke. It is understood the Abbott government and the minister who oversees the -commission, Attorney-General George Brandis, have lost faith in Professor Triggs.

Her position appears untenable. She is less than halfway through a five-year term and under the commission's act can only be dismissed for "mis-behaviour" or serious breaches of standards.

She has promised to release a "detailed chronology of events". The "facts and evidence will speak for themselves," she said in a statement.

In February, the commission came under fire from the government for announcing an -inquiry into children in detention four months after the election of the Coalition - and after people-smuggling boats had started to abate.

More than 800 boats, 50,000 asylum-seekers and 8000 children had arrived in the six years under Labor. The commission had previously investigated the issue in 2001 - under the Howard government.

When questioned about the new inquiry's timing, during the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee hearing on Thursday, Professor Triggs's explanation was exposed as changeable and contradictory.

Professor Triggs claimed that after her -appointment in mid-2012 she -focused on the issue of children in detention and, as the arrivals continued, had decided to hold a fresh inquiry by February last year.

But she didn't - and she has now justified that delay with electoral considerations. "The fact that an election was imminent had been announced by the prime minister in I think about March," she said, "so we knew it was going to be very soon, and of course we didn't know exactly when."

Yet in an unusual step, on January 30 last year, then prime minister Julia Gillard had announced the election date for September 14 - so at the time there was no speculation.

Professor Triggs told the hearing it would have been "very destructive" to hold the inquiry in the middle of the election year. "Well, it would have been very destructive to the then government," interjected Liberal senator Ian Macdonald

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has challenged Professor Triggs's justification.

"For a position which is supposed to be free of political influence," he said, "it was puzzling to see Professor Triggs justify not holding an inquiry in mid-2013 as `we were moving into an election -period', yet described this issue as having caused `serious concerns' in December 2012, well before any election was called."

Further committee exchanges about her consultation with both the Labor government and the incoming Coalition government were also revealing.

Liberal senator Barry O'Sullivan pressed her on whether she briefed Labor about her intentions for an inquiry. "I certainly did not discuss that as far as I recall with the minister," she said.  But as questioning continued her answers changed to "I don't recall" and then that her "discussions with the minister are private".

Then, under sustained interrogation, she revealed she had in fact spoken to two Labor immigration ministers.  "I have discussed the possibility of an inquiry with minister Chris Bowen and with minister (Tony) Burke," she revealed.

Professor Triggs initially said the discussion with Mr Burke had occurred during the election caretaker period but later retracted. After the election Professor Triggs did not raise the matter in discussions with the Coalition or mention it in a letter outlining her agenda. The government was informed of the inquiry four months later via a letter from Professor Triggs.

"Australians will form their own judgment about just how fair Professor Triggs has been," Mr Morrison said.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Greenie edition of this blog.  5 Green-relevant articles below

Good news: Leftist newspaper says the Australian government's climate change credentials have been battered

And see below that it includes some surprising claims, such as:  "The size of the Reef has halved in the past 30 years".  I have been following the barrier reef scares for around 60 years (long before global warming was invented) but that was a newie on me.

But I have traced the claim, and one amusing thing that we read there is:  "The exhaustive AIMS investigation reveals coral loss is uneven along the 2300km-long reef, with the far north still relatively healthy." So the WARMEST parts of the reef are doing best! How pesky can you get?

And what the research showed is NOT that the reef has shrunk by 50% but that the CORAL has shrunk by 50%.  The reef is of course an ancient and relatively permanent structure of dead coral skeletons.

 We also read:  "Storm damage accounted for 48 per cent of the coral loss in the past 27 years, crown-of-thorns starfish were responsible for 42 per cent, and bleaching caused 10 per cent of the coral to die".  No mention of global warming! Though no doubt they would claim that the storms were caused by global warming.  Since severe weather events worldwide  have been FEWER in recent years that however would be a rubbish claim, having no regard to the actual statistics.

Warmists have also been known to link starfish plagues with warming but again we read: "The study says the causes of the plagues were still not fully known".

And I won't mention that the period covered by the research was 27 years, not 30.

And I won't mention that the source paper for the research is no longer where it was.  Has it been taken down due to inaccuracy?

I could go on but the lesson is clear: As soon as we get into the details of the research findings, the sweeping claims made of the research by Warmists are extensively falsified.  So the appeals to authority below are junk.  It is the facts that matter, not authorities, and the facts are very pesky indeed for Warmists.

My habit of going back to the detailed research findings behind Green/Left claims once again shows what crooks and crazies they are

Prime Minister Tony Abbott's apparent, if modest, conversion to the idea that climate change was an "important subject"  following talks with French president Francois Hollande on Wednesday was greeted with no small measure of cynicism.

This was, after all, a politician who had built a political career on climate scepticism, with his famous remark in 2010 that it was "absolute crap" to assert the science was settled.

It took only two days, but the doubters can claim vindication after revelations that the government sent a briefing note to Barack Obama to dissuade him that the Great Barrier Reef was under threat by climate change.

In an interview with Fairfax Media's Latika Bourke in New York, Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop said the Reef was "not under threat from climate change because its biggest threat is the nutrient runoffs agricultural land, the second biggest threat is natural disasters, but this has been for 200 years".

This is disingenuous, and factually wrong.

To be sure, the government believes the world is warming, and that human factors play a part.

But when it comes to acknowledging the urgency of the problem, how climate change will impact on the world, and what must be done to avert a catastrophic four-degree rise in global temperature, the Abbott government offers obfuscation and excuses.

So it was with the response to Obama's speech in Brisbane last week, when the US leader called on Australia's youth to rise up and demand more action to combat climate change, remarking that "incredible natural glory of the Great Barrier Reef is threatened".

The US leader's speech might have been undiplomatic and rude to his hosts - but his analysis of the impact of climate change on the Reef was spot on.

Just ask the federal government agencies charged with monitoring and protecting the Reef.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority said in its 2014: "Climate change remains the most serious threat to the Great Barrier Reef. It is already affecting the reef and is likely to have far-reaching consequences in the decades to come."

Averting further degradation of the Reef can "only be successful if climatic conditions are stabilised" reported the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), another government body.

The size of the Reef has halved in the past 30 years. Outbreaks of crown of thorn starfish which consume soft corals -  along with cyclones -  have contributed to about 90 per cent of that decline, says AIMS.

Coral bleaching is responsible for the remaining 10 per cent.

Coral bleaching is the direct result of rising sea temperatures caused by global warming. The acceleration of crown of thorn starfish infestations - which spawn in warmer months - is also driven, at least in part, by hotter weather.

And, warns the government's marine scientists, cyclone activity will only increase as the planet heats up.   

Bishop's personal political stocks have soared in recent months due to some forceful international diplomacy on the MH17 disaster and the rise of the Islamic State terrorist group.

Her intervention on the Reef is unlikely to faze Obama, or harm relations. But some of the gloss has come of Bishop's credentials as a moderate alternative to Abbott.

And, the government's climate change credentials, once again, have been battered. 


US President Barack Obama should look at his own environmental record before lecturing Australia

Those who live in glass houses ....

BARACK Obama won an Olympic gold medal for schmoozing in Brisbane last weekend.

Along the way, the US president exposed the opponents of coal seam gas in Queensland as utter hypocrites.

With China, the US is of course the worst polluter on the planet.

Yet the shale boom sweeping across America is unlocking oceans of underground gas, a cleaner energy gradually replacing coal in US power stations.

Obama knows gas is good. Gas drives his emissions reduction pact with China.

However, the Greenies who swooned over Obama for his environmental crusade are the same snarling, left-of-centre bigots backing sinister groups like Lock the Gate in attempting to sabotage the fledgling gas industry here.

In a week dominated by news about the $7 billion Adani coal deal the importance of gas to our state cannot be overstated.

Gas royalties will deliver rivers of gold to the Queensland treasury as it fights to restore the AAA credit rating trashed by the previous government.

A significant milestone looms. And it may change everything. In three weeks the first ever shipment of liquid natural gas sourced entirely from coal seam gas will be shipped to Asia by QGC. It's not just a Queensland first, it's a world first.

And, surprise, surprise, the gas drawn from beneath our cattle pastures may end up in China.  It will be traded on the open market in Asia so the destination remains unclear.

Following Obama's visit the irony that the Queensland gas is destined for China has not been lost on certain Queensland Cabinet ministers.

While the President discourteously attacked his host's environmental credentials, our gas will eventually assist cutting emissions globally.

Australia's gas exports are set to increase from about 20 billion cubic metres in 2012 to 114 billion cubic metres by 2040 as global demand is forecast to grow more than any other fuel source. So says the International Energy Agency.

And while many newspaper columnists were gushing about Obama's speech and his green advice to Tony Abbott, they neglected to report America's own disgusting record on carbon dioxide.

Why reporters ignored this part of the story is a bit of a mystery to me.  Suffice to say that the media craves celebrity and is often blinded by it. And Obama was certainly a celebrity whose light shone brightly that day.

At the risk of offending the Obama-love media, it has to be said our environmental record is cleaner than his.

So how dare Obama lecture us?

The US didn't sign the 1997 Kyoto agreement. Nevertheless it pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 7 per cent. Instead they soared.

Now we learn that over two decades from 1990 to 2010, US emissions grew by 53 times the actual growth of emissions in Australia.

I'm glad Environment Minister Greg Hunt pointed this out. He also revealed China's sorry record.  In the same two decades China's emissions soared from 3.4 billion tonnes to 9.8 billion tonnes. This is the fastest growth in emissions in human history, Hunt said.

"The increase in Chinese emissions was 640 times, or 64,000 per cent, greater than any change in Australia. Over the same period, Chinese coal consumption increased at the greatest rate in human history."

Of course Australia's footprint is insignificant compared to the superpowers and we shouldn't beat ourselves up about it. In 1990, according to Hunt's office, Australia produced 580 million tonnes of carbon, the US 5.38 billion tonnes and China 3.356 billion tonnes.

By 2010, Australia's emissions had barely increased, to 590 million tonnes. The US, on the other hand, registered a substantial increase to 5.923 billion tonnes and China to a staggering 9.769 billion tonnes.

By 2020, if Australia meets its target, it will produce 555 million tonnes while the US will produce 5.144 billion tonnes and China a truly astonishing 12.4 billion tonnes.

Nevertheless Obama's deal with China, greeted with rapturous approval by the media, deserves closer scrutiny.

China will continue to build a coal-fired power station every 10 days until 2030.

I'm told another 28 nuclear power stations are also in the pipeline. Good. Now we are getting somewhere. The US emissions, too, are staggering and will continue to rise for years.

The other inconvenient truth is that Obama doesn't have congressional backing so is unable to add legal force to the targets proposed with China.

Former Labor state treasurer Keith DeLacy was not blinded by Obama's halo. In an opinion piece in The Australian he said Obama was a "lame duck" president.

DeLacy said Chinese President Xi Jinping admits CO2 emissions will increase until 2030, pact or no pact.  And renewables such as wind and power would produce just 3 per cent of output, said Xi.

Said DeLacy: "China is currently increasing emissions every year by the equivalent of Australia's total emissions, and Xi's statement means this will continue to be the case."

He added: "Lame duck US President Obama signalled the US would not take any leadership role on climate change action.  "While he suggested the US would reduce total emissions by 26-28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2025, everyone knew he could not deliver any legislative backing for measures to do this.

"However, he was confident the shale gas revolution and a spluttering US economy may be sufficient to reach this goal.

"When questioned on the depth of commitment the US had to this target, officials referred to past commitments."




MOST Queenslanders believe Tony Abbott was right to ignore international pressure and focus the G20 summit on the economy rather than on Climate change. 

Just one-quarter of those surveyed in a new opinion poll said they thought the top priority for G20 nations should be reducing carbon emissions -- compared to half who said the focus should on be economic growth and jobs creation.

Both Labor and LNP suppporters rated economic growth higher than action on carbon.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has meanwhile sent a briefing to the White House to allay ' US President Barack Obama's concerns about Australia not working to protect the future of the Great.Barrier Reef.

From p. 31 of the Brisbane "Courier Mail" 22 Nov., 2014

Obama ignored embassy's warnings on climate change speech

BARACK  Obama defied the -advice of his embassy in Canberra to deliver a stinging attack on the Abbott government's climate policies in Brisbane last weekend.

The US embassy, under the leadership of ambassador John Berry, advised the President, through his senior staff, not to couch his climate change comments in a way that would be seen as disobliging to the Abbott government, sources have revealed.

When The Weekend Australian put this information to the US embassy, a spokesman said: "As is the case with all presidential speeches, President Obama's remarks at the University of Queensland in Brisbane were prepared by the White House."

It is normal practice when the US President makes an overseas visit that the ambassador in the country he is visiting is consulted about the contents of major speeches. It is unusual, though not unprecedented, for an embassy's advice to be ignored.

The Obama speech in Brisbane was added to the President's program at the last minute. During his extensive talks with Tony Abbott in Beijing at APEC, Mr Obama did not make any mention of a desire to make a speech, or of any of the contentious climate change content of the speech.

Only in Naypyidaw, in Myanmar, immediately prior to the leaders travelling to Brisbane for the G20 summit, did the US party demand that the President make a speech and that it be to an audience of young people. At the speech, the President did not -acknowledge the presence of Governor-General Peter Cosgrove.

Despite repeated Australian requests, White House officials refused to provide a text of the speech to their Australian hosts in advance, and did not provide a summary of what would be contained in the speech.

Mr Obama's repeated references to the climate change debate in Australia, his accusation that Australia was an inefficient user of energy and his repeated references to the Great Barrier Reef, which has figured heavily in the climate change debate, have led observers to conclude that the speech was a deliberate swipe at the Abbott government.

Historians of the US-Australia relationship are unable to nominate a case of a visiting president making such a hostile speech for the host government.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has accused Mr Obama of speaking in ignorance about the joint plans by the federal and Queensland governments to act to preserve the Great Barrier Reef. She sent a briefing on the reef to the White House after Mr Obama's speech was delivered.

Some days before the speech, at the World Parks Conference, Ms Bishop met US Secretary of the -Interior Sally Jewell and gave her the same briefing.

Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek yesterday accused Ms Bishop of "berating" the President and said Ms Bishop had created an "absurd" situation.

Sources in Washington said the Brisbane speech was a sign of deep divisions within the Obama administration over how to deal with Australia, and over Asian policy generally.

Senior US sources said Mr Obama had inadvertently overshadowed all the elements of his speech, which dealt with regional security and America's position in Asia. When the White House first proposed the speech, its subject was to be US leadership in Asia.

Mr Obama's speech was in marked contrast to the accomplished speeches, with their careful regional agendas, of China's President, Xi Jinping, and India's Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, to the Australian parliament. Senior Washington sources told The Weekend Australian of a malaise in Obama administration policy towards Asia and the lack of influence of Asia experts lower down in the US government.

Since the Abbott government was elected last September, there has been a group within the Obama administration that wants to take a tougher public line against Canberra on differences over climate change, in particular the decision to abolish the carbon tax.

Washington sources say the figure who ultimately adjudicated on this internal debate was Mr Obama, who recognised that Mr Abbott had been elected with a clear mandate to abolish the tax.

This has resulted, in part, in differing accounts of the first meeting between Mr Abbott as Prime Minister and Mr Obama in Washington in June.  After the meeting, Australian officials briefed to the effect that climate change was raised with Mr Abbott only briefly by Mr Obama and in a non-contentious way.  This version was confirmed by senior US officials who offered the same account of the meeting.

US officials added that the Obama administration was acutely aware that the US had no national carbon tax itself and that the administration had been unable to get congress to agree to an emissions trading scheme, which the Americans call a cap-and-trade scheme.

They said the US was keen merely to confirm that the Abbott government was carrying out the commitments it had made on climate change, in particular to reach the target of 5 per cent reductions on 2000 levels of emissions by 2020.

At the same time, another account of the meeting was circulating through Washington to the effect that Mr Obama had been much more insistent on the issue with Mr Abbott. In this account, Mr Obama had repeatedly referred to the Sydney Opera House sinking as a result of global warming.

At the time Washington sources said this was an erroneous account of the meeting, which reflected the great hostility over the carbon tax issue that some of Mr Obama's domestic advisers felt.

Several former senior US officials characterise the White House as introverted and not inclined to pay too much attention to officials, either in the State Department or the Pentagon, who deal with Asia full time. Others suggest senior figures in the White House, when they think of Asia, tend to focus only on China.

Mr Obama has previously had a warm personal relationship with Mr Abbott. The President has been a frequent telephone caller to Mr Abbott, almost always with a request for Australian support for a US policy or initiative, from troops for the Middle East, US trade initiatives in Asia, or important regional diplomatic matters, especially those involving security. On every occasion the US President has asked for help, the Australian Prime Minister has provided it.


NSW conservative government cracks down on protesters, fast-tracks mining

The "close" relationship between the state government and the mining industry has come under renewed scrutiny after Premier Mike Baird announced faster mining approvals and harsher fines for protesters who illegally enter mining sites.

The announcement, at a dinner for mining heavyweights on Thursday night, came just hours after it was revealed that corrupt former Labor minister Ian Macdonald will face criminal charges over a mining deal.

Critics have accused the government of cutting "special deals" with the mining industry, and failing to follow advice by the corruption watchdog to safeguard the planning system.

Lock the Gate Alliance said protesters already face heavy penalties, citing farmer Ted Borowski, who was fined about $3000 for protesting against Santos' coal seam gas operation earlier this year.  By comparison, the company was fined $1500 for contaminating an aquifer with uranium.

The government says protesters do not have the right to act unlawfully, and industry and the community should not wait years for mining applications to be decided.

Mr Baird told a NSW Minerals Council event that his government will halve assessment times for so-called "state significant" proposals, such as mines and manufacturing plants. He said assessment times for mining projects had jumped from 500 to more than 1000 days in the past six years.

On Friday, Planning Minister Pru Goward said the government intends to slash 170 days from the average time it takes to assess major applications by introducing new timeframes and ensuring timely advice from government agencies.

New timeframes would also be applied to the Planning Assessment Commission, the independent body that decides some of the state's most controversial proposals.

The government has been under pressure to streamline the mining approvals process after its maligned planning reforms stalled in the upper house.

Fairfax Media has reported that 13 mining industry leaders met Mr Baird two weeks ago for a "crisis meeting" after Anglo American's application to extend the Drayton South coal mine project was rejected.

The industry has also called for stronger penalties for trespassers, following heated protests over projects such as Whitehaven Coal's Maules Creek mine and Santos' coal seam gas venture in north-west NSW.

Mr Baird said it was "galling" that the mining industry was responsible for the safety of trespassers. The government will seek changes to workplace health and safety laws, and increase penalties for protesters who break into mining operations, damage equipment or disrupt work.

Lock the Gate Alliance spokesman Phil Laird, whose organisation campaigns against coal and gas mining, said the announcement highlights the "close relationship and special treatment given to industry over the interests of communities".

He said the government had ignored advice by the Independent Commission Against Corruption to expand community appeal rights on planning decisions. A spokesman for Ms Goward said independent scrutiny of decisions already exists.

The NSW Minerals Council said the planning changes would "help attract investment and create jobs in our state".

Labor's environment spokesman Luke Foley welcomed the move towards faster approvals, but said it should not come at the expense of proper environmental, social and economic assessment.

Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham claimed the Liberal and National parties were "essentially just the political arm of the mining industry".


Friday, November 21, 2014

Australia's Iron Lady criticises Barack Obama over Great Barrier Reef comments

Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop has taken a highly unusual swipe at US President Barack Obama over his comments about the future of the Great Barrier Reef.

Ms Bishop, in New York for a meeting of the United Nations Security Council, said there was "an issue" with Mr Obama's remarks during a speech at the University of Queensland speech last weekend as part of the G20 summit.

Mr Obama told the audience the "incredible natural glory of the Great Barrier Reef is threatened" because of global warming and said he wanted to be able to return to Australia with his daughters when he had more time.

"And I want them to be able to bring their daughters or sons to visit and I want that there 50 years from now," he said.

That speech has already drawn a guarded rebuke from the Queensland government; its Environment Minister Andrew Powell said he wanted to assure the President and all Queenslanders that "we are working ... to ensure the reef is protected for future generations".

Ms Bishop said on Thursday that Australia was employing world's best practice to ensure the reef was preserved for future generations.  "I think that President Obama might have overlooked that aspect of our commitment to conserving the Great Barrier Reef," she told the ABC's 7.30 on Thursday.

"There was an issue regarding his statement about the Great Barrier Reef, and I can understand the Queensland government's concern because we have committed significant resources to preserve and conserve the reef.  "We have demonstrated world's best practice ... to ensure the Great Barrier Reef is preserved for generations to come."

Ms Bishop denied suggestions that Australia and the US had taken widely different approaches to climate changing, saying Mr Obama had not introduced a carbon tax, which the Australian government had repealed earlier this year.

Treasurer Joe Hockey also appeared to criticise Mr Obama's reef speech by suggesting the President "hasn't had great success" so far on his own plans to cut carbon emissions.

Australia is awaiting a determination by the United Nations World Heritage Committee on granting the reef status of being "in danger". It has been deferred until next year.

The reef's sustainability plan, drafted by the federal and Queensland governments, has been attacked by the Australian Academy of Science — the country's leading scientific academy — which said the plan failed to acknowledge how the reef had already suffered extensively from the effects of climate change.

UNESCO is also concerned about the effects on the reef of the rapid industrialisation of Queensland's coastline.

Critics say the sustainability plan should also have ruled out further dumping of dredge waste.


Lib senator admits TPV plan is draconian

Most Australians will cheer that.  Draco (Δράκων) was actually rather a good guy.  It was he who first gave Athenians written laws and established courts to adjudicate them.  And he took a very dim view of law-breakers

A LIBERAL senator has admitted government plans to fast-track the processing of about 30,000 asylum-seeker claims contain draconian measures.

BUT Ian Macdonald defended the move, arguing it was what the Australian people wanted.
"There are some draconian things, hopefully it will be reasonably temporary," he told a Senate inquiry in Canberra on Friday.

Senator Macdonald was responding to Law Council representatives who told the inquiry government legislation before parliament was at odds with accepted standards of international and domestic law.

The government wants to speed-up the processing of about 30,000 outstanding asylum-seeker claims left over from the previous Labor government since August 2012.

It plans to re-introduce temporary protection visas, a Howard government measure abolished by the Rudd government in 2008.

Asylum seekers on TPVs will be denied permanent residency and will have their protection claims assessed every three years.

However, asylum seekers who agree to move to regional areas will be provided with safe-haven visas that may lead to permanent protection.

The move has the backing of the Palmer United Party but is being opposed by Labor and the Greens.

The Law Council also opposes the bill in its current form, describing it as the single biggest change to Australia's asylum seeker policy ever made.

The proposed changes departed from the accepted standards of protection for asylum seekers in international and domestic law, it told the Senate's legal and constitutional affairs committee.

They were also at odds with rule-of-law principles and procedural fairness guarantees.

The council said if TPVs were reintroduced they should only constitute a form of bridging visa while people await the determination of their claim.

Human Rights Commission president Gillian Trigg said the legislation contained provisions that were of great concern within circles of the United Nations.

Under the government plan, most references to the UN Refugee Convention will be removed from the Migration Act.

In its place will be a self-contained statutory framework which sets out Australia's interpretation of its protection obligations under the convention. The move is aimed at limiting appeals to the High Court.

Professor Triggs said it was virtually unprecedented for a mature democracy to take such a retrograde step.  It was one that would bring Australia into international disrepute, she told the inquiry.

The Australian Red Cross, which is providing support to about 11,000 asylum seekers living in the community while they wait for their claims to be processed, is concerned TPV holders will not be able to re-enter the country if they leave temporarily.

They would also be denied opportunities to reunite with family not in Australia, a point challenged by Senator Macdonald who said splitting up family was a choice made by asylum seekers who arrived by boat.

The Red Cross said previous experience showed that TPV holders lived with the constant threat and fear of repatriation.

This included fear of incarceration, torture or death upon return, it told the inquiry.

Liberal senator Linda Reynolds said it could take up to seven years to process the outstanding claims under the existing system.

That claim was rejected by Angela Chan, national president of the Migration Institute of Australia, who said the immigration department handled backlogs all the time.

"If they had the will they could process these people very quickly without a change in legislation," she told the inquiry.


Qld. Labor party 'blew billions on poor hospital plan'

Just another example of Leftist waste left for conservatives to sort out and clean up

More than $2.2 billion was wasted in the building of three Queensland hospitals due to poor planning, the Auditor-General says.

An Auditor-General's report says the Gold Coast University Hospital, South Brisbane's Lady Cilento Children's Hospital and the Sunshine Coast Public University Hospital have cost more than twice as much and will be delivered far later than needed.

The Beattie Labor government pledged to build the three facilities for $2.87 billion in 2006, but the report, released on Tuesday, says the hospitals have cost more than $5 billion thus far.

"When commitment was made to build three hospitals, no robust investment planning and analysis had been undertaken to determine their likely outturn cost, with the result that the August 2006 estimates significantly understated the cost of the projects," the report said.

The Auditor-General said the projects were announced before Queensland Health (QH) had the chance to investigate the needs of health services on the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, or for children, in regards to Lady Cilento Hospital.

"As a result, QH focused on the announced infrastructure solutions without adequate consideration of alternative options, their risks, costs and benefits," the report said.

Premier Campbell Newman said when combined with $1.2 billion blown on the new health payroll bungle, the former Labor government had completely wasted $3.4 billion.

"That could've cleared backlogs. That could've built new hospitals. That's what my government has been working to clean up over the last two-and-a-half years," he told reporters.

The Auditor-General recommended all future hospital projects be planned after their service area needs were identified; the costs, risks and benefits were analysed; and whole-of-life financial effects of projects were assessed.


Industry super funds outperform banks yet again

Commission-free industry super funds have again outperformed bank-owned super funds and other retail super funds, on average, over all time periods, according to monthly data from SuperRatings, based on balanced fund median rolling returns to 31 October 2014.

Industry Super Australia (ISA) Chief Executive David Whiteley welcomed the results.

“The community response to last night’s Senate vote demonstrates a commitment to the retention of strong consumer protections and super which is free from sales incentives and conflicted advice to ensure the best returns for investors,” said Mr. Whiteley.

“Over the long and short-term, independent research reinforces that industry super fund members benefit from the undivided loyalty the funds have to their members.”

The data underlines again the importance of the default superannuation safety net that safeguards the super savings of eight in ten Australians who don’t select their own funds. Bank-owned super funds are lobbying to scrap the safety net to avoid competing on investment performance.

“The outperformance, on average, of industry super funds further solidifies the case for the default super safety net not only being retained, but being strengthened and expanded,” said Mr. Whiteley.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Weather report

Some people reading here may just possibly be aware that Brisbane had a major storm yesterday afternoon which produced quite a lot of flooding in some parts of the city.  Where I am at Buranda is fairly elevated, however, so we had no flood grief at all.  My son and I simply drove to our usual local Japanese restaurant (Sunny Doll) for our supper and got marvellous food as usual. There are some brilliant Chinese, Thai and Indian cooks but Japanese cooks are the best. They know about umami.

Vladimir Putin says he was surprised by ‘warmth’ of everyday Australians during G20 visit  -- and praises Mr Abbott

This will be a teeth-grinder for the Leftmedia (Fairfax, ABC, SBS).  They must have just about exhausted their vocabulary of abuse in being negative about everything Abbott did and said at the summit

RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin has praised the Australian government for the atmosphere at the G20 summit in Brisbane.

“(Our) Australian partners created an extraordinarily welcoming atmosphere for work. I was surprised by the warmth with which normal Australian citizens received our delegation,” Mr Putin told a forum of supporters in Moscow, according to an official transcript.

Mr Putin also added praise for Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Mr Putin’s comments defied media reports that the Russian president was so frustrated at being sidelined and subjected to tough talk by Western leaders that he left the summit early.

Australia, the United States and Japan used the G20 to jointly criticise Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its actions to destabilise eastern Ukraine. The criticism was made in a statement following a trilateral meeting involving Mr Abbott, Barack Obama and Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the summit.  They also called for those responsible for the downing of flight MH17 over the Ukraine to be brought to justice.

Mr Putin had told reporters he was leaving before the release of the G20’s communiqué because of the long flight to Russia and he wanted to get some sleep.

As he left on Sunday, he praised the “constructive atmosphere” at the summit and thanked Mr Abbott for hosting the event. He described the Prime Minister as “a very businesslike person”.

Far from shirt fronting Mr Putin, Mr Abbott said he was happy to welcome the Russian President to Brisbane.

“When all is said and done, President Putin was a guest in our country.  “President Putin is a member of the G20 and I was happy to treat him with respect and courtesy while he was here in Australia.”


Scott Morrison cuts off access to Australia for people who already have refuge

They are in no danger in Indonesia

Australia has taken its stand against boat arrivals to a new level, saying it will no longer resettle asylum seekers found to be refugees by the United Nation's refugee agency in Indonesia who registered after July 1.

But Fairfax Media understands the decision could be wider than this, and may be applied to all asylum seekers found to be genuine refugees recommended by UNHCR in transit countries such as Syria, Iran, Malaysia and Iraq.

Although a spokeswoman for Immigration Minister Scott Morrison denied this, Mr Morrison has made plain that virtually all of Australia's humanitarian program for people overseas this financial year will be selected by Australia from countries of first asylum.

"In 2014–15, Australia's Humanitarian Programme will provide 13,750 places. These will include 11,000 places for people overseas, nearly all of whom will be in countries of first asylum," Mr Morrison said in a statement.

A well-placed source has told Fairfax Media that exceptions to the new policy direction would be women at risk and emergency rescue cases.

The waiting period in Indonesia will also increase for people who have been granted refugee status and who registered at the UNHCR before July, according to a statement issued late Tuesday afternoon by Mr Morrison.

In the statement, titled "Another Blow for People Smugglers", Mr Morrison said the decision was designed to stop the flow of asylum seekers travelling by boat to Australia, despite only one boat successfully arriving in Australia this year. The humanitarian intake of 13,750 will also not be increased.

"These changes should reduce the movement of asylum seekers to Indonesia and encourage them to seek resettlement in or from countries of first asylum,"

"While nine of 10 months of 2014 have passed without a successful people smuggling venture to Australia, we know smugglers continue to encourage asylum seekers to travel illegally to Indonesia for the purpose of seeking resettlement in Australia," Mr Morrison said.

But human rights advocates were appalled at the decision, questioning the real motives behind it. Refugee Council of Australia chief executive Paul Power said the decision was "absolutely outrageous."

"This will put Indonesia under even more pressure," he said.  "This a clear message that Australia does not care about its regional neighbours."

It is understood Labor will be seeking answers and clarification on the impacts of the decision.

Greens spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young said the decision was "narrow-minded" and "hard-hearted".  "This is the exact opposite of what the government should be doing," she said.  "We should be working with our neighbours, accelerating refugee processing and increasing Australia's intake from the region so that people are given a safe way to reach protection. That's the only way we can save lives at sea while caring for refugees."

Elaine Pearson from Human Rights Watch said: "If Australia really cared about saving lives at sea, then it would take more people from Indonesia, not less, because it would want to prevent people taking perilous boat journeys."  [The emptyhead has apparently not noticed that the boats have stopped coming]


ABC cuts: Malcolm Turnbull announces budget reduction of $250 million

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has detailed a $254 million funding cut to the ABC in a move that could result in job losses and the closure of foreign bureaux.

Mr Turnbull on Wednesday announced a slightly lower than expected budget cut for the ABC as well as a $25.2 million cut to the SBS.

He said the efficiencies represented a "modest saving in comparison to the government's continued investment in national broadcasting of more than $6.6 billion over the same five year period".

The cut represents 4.6 per cent of the ABC's budget and means it will receive $5.2 billion over four years rather than $5.5 billion.

The ABC has previously reported that a cut of this magnitude could lead to the loss of 500 jobs, the closure of foreign bureaux and the end of the state-based versions of 7.30.

In his speech in Adelaide, Mr Turnbull threw down the gauntlet to ABC management, arguing there was no need to cut programming because of the government's announcement.

"Let me be quite clear," he said. "The savings announced today are not of a scale that requires any particular change to programming.  "All of the savings can be found within operational efficiencies."

The Communications Minister said that it would be "cowardly" for management to blame the government for program changes, which he described as the "normal business of a media company".

"If the ABC or SBS want to make decisions to change or cease programming that is their choice."

Mr Turnbull announced that early next year, the government would introduce legislation to allow SBS to take a more "flexible" approach to advertising.

Under the new measure, the broadcaster would need to maintain its current average of five minutes of ads per hour each day, but could run up to 10 minutes in any given hour.

It is estimated this will provide SBS with an extra $28.5 million over five years.

Mr Turnbull also released an efficiency review that found the ABC and SBS could save millions of dollars a year by streamlining IT and marketing operations, changes in procurement and halting practices such as twice delivery of post to the desks of staff.

The opposition has attacked the funding reduction as another broken election promise and pointed to statements made by the Coalition in the lead up to the 2013 election in which cuts to the ABC's funding were ruled out.

Mr Turnbull dismissed claims that the government had broken an election promise with the cuts to the ABC and SBS.

He said both he and Treasurer Joe Hockey had made it "quite clear" there were no Coalition plans to cut on-air or online activities.

"But if there were to be savings made across the board, the ABC and SBS could not expect to be exempt."

Turnbull: Change ABC structure

Mr Turnbull said he would be raising several matters with the ABC board about the way the organisation is run - although he noted that the board could ignore his advice if it chose to.

The Communications Minister said the ABC should have a chief financial officer, explaining he did not understand why the role was currently being undertaken by the chief operating officer.

He will also recommend that the position of editor-in-chief no longer be combined with that of the managing director, who is Mark Scott.

"It creates the impression that the managing director is directly in charge of ABC news and current affairs, which he is not, and given the wide range of his responsibilities, could not be."

In a further shakeup to both public broadcasters, Mr Turnbull said there should be more "granular detail" about how they spend their money in relation to their charter obligations.

He also called on the two boards to take more responsibility for accuracy and objectivity in reporting at the ABC and SBS.

"I have on occasions heard directors say 'they do not want to get involved'. Well, if they do not want to get involved, they should resign."

Earlier on Wednesday, Education Minister Christopher Pyne made a pitch for the ABC not to cut local production in his home state of South Australia.

"I think [managing director] Mark Scott and the board need to get out of [Sydney headquarters] Ultimo and go around Australia and find the place where the ABC is most popular is in regional Australia, where it's the lifeline of country towns and regional areas," Mr Pyne said.

Cuts to SBS 'sizeable'

SBS managing director Michael Ebeid said the cut to his organisation was anticipated but "sizeable" and would "naturally be felt" by the broadcaster.

"National efforts to unify Australia's diverse communities go directly to the reason SBS was established, and it is at a time when our social cohesion is being tested, that having a multicultural broadcaster is more important than ever," he said in a statement.  

Mr Ebeid said if the government's plans to make the SBS's advertising arrangements more flexible came into place the broadcaster would "only implement additional advertising in programs and timeslots where the advertising return could genuinely aid our ability to invest in more Australian content".

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the funding cut was another broken election promise from the Coalition.

"It is absolutely clear now that Tony Abbott stared down the barrel of a camera the night before the election and lied to the Australian people," Mr Shorten said.

The president of the Community and Public Sector Union, Michael Tull, said the announcement was "a sad day for all Australians who value the ABC and SBS".

"It is, frankly, gutless of Malcolm Turnbull to shun responsibility for these cuts and pass the buck to ABC management. There is no way that cuts of this size can be confined to 'back office' savings. Make no mistake, programming, services and jobs will have to be cut to accommodate these cuts."


How Narendra Modi turned Parliament House into a rock star's stage

You got the sense there was something about Modi when world leaders had their official handshakes with Tony Abbott at the G20 summit.

While the other leaders offered brief handshakes and stiff smiles, India's Prime Minister strode out of the wings to greet his Australian counterpart with an exuberant hug.

You got the same sense about Narendra Modi when he was later mobbed by chanting fans at the unveiling of a statue in Brisbane and then tweeted about how touched he was. And again when thousands of Indian Australians spent a day dancing, drumming and partying in anticipation of his speech in Sydney.

But when Modi began to address the parliament in Canberra on Tuesday, we knew for sure there was something about the Indian Prime Minister.

It wasn't just that he acknowledged Indigenous Australians when Mr Abbott did not.  Or that he wondered how MPs were surviving a third address to parliament by a world leader in as many days.  "Maybe this is Prime Minister Abbott's way of shirtfronting you," he suggested with the hint of a wink.

It wasn't even the fact that – although he had an autocue – he appeared not to be speaking from prepared notes. He was eyes up all the way through.

It was because as soon as Modi got stuck into the substance of his address, he had the normally rowdy House of Representatives hypnotised.

"I come to you with the greetings of 1.25 billion people … and today I have come to unite in spirit, as we once were in geography," he declared.

In cadences befitting of someone who is a published poet as well as a politician, Modi spoke of how democracy offers "the best opportunity for the human spirit to flourish" and loaded praise on Australia, whose cities are "alive with [the] richness of this world's diversity".

But his stylish words also carried a serious message: India is open for business.  There are 800 million Indians under the age of 35, "eager for change, willing to work for it because, now they believe that it is possible".

Young Indians want energy that "does not cause our glaciers to melt," cities that are "smart, sustainable and liveable" and villages that "offer opportunity". And they want Australia's help to get there.

"India will be the answer to your search for new economic opportunities … your source for world class skills at home or for a manufacturing location abroad," he said with all the polish and confidence of a new car salesman.

As he concluded with a simple "thanks a lot," the chamber rose in a standing ovation.  They were not just being polite. If Madam Speaker had let them, they would have whistled, whooped and charged the stage.  That's what you do when you see a rock star perform.



Education Act Amendments Benefit All Independent Schools

All Independent schools will see some benefits flow through from today’s passage of the Australian Education Amendment Bill 2014, according to Independent Schools Council of Australia (ISCA) Executive Director, Mr Bill Daniels.

“Education Minister Christopher Pyne should be congratulated for moving quickly to make important improvements to the current funding and operational arrangements for Independent schools,” he said.

The amendments will ensure the timely payment of an extra $6.8 million for many non-government schools with a large number of Indigenous boarding students from remote areas. “These schools service some of Australia’s most needy students and will welcome the extra injection of funds this year to assist in improving the educational outcomes for Indigenous students,” Mr Daniels said.

“Many Special schools and Special Assistance schools faced a potential reduction in funding from the beginning of 2015 and now provision has been made in the legislation to allow them to transition towards the Student Resourcing Standard, consistent with other schools funded under the Australian Education Act,” he said.

“The implementation of the new school funding model in 2014 has put considerable administrative pressure on Independent schools and the additional burden to have School Improvement Plans in place by 1 January next year had to potential to add to this pressure,” Mr Daniels said. “The amendments have now relieved some of this pressure and moved the commencement date for Improvement Plans to 1 January 2016,” he said.

The amendments also ensure that the correct application of indexation is included in the total amount of capital funding for Block Grant Authorities for 2014, ensuring additional funding is available to support needy Independent schools to provide facilities that will enhance their educational outcomes.

Mr Daniels said that ISCA looks forward to working closely with the Australian Government in the coming months to explore other improvements that can be made to the way in which funding arrangements impact on Independent schools.


Comment from an old China hand

The Chicken Littles of Australia have been clucking about the Climate agreement between China and the U.S.

What they don't know is that while China may be a world leader in the use of solar heating, has extensive hydroelectric power and plenty of wind turbines, it is still installing one new multi megawatt coal powered plant every ten days.

While the pace may drop over time, China's dependence on coal power will only drop from from 79% at present to 75% by 2030. At that time China promises to be able to reduce its dependence on coal but even then nuclear will still be only 5% and hydropower much lower than at present.

On the other hand the U.S. Is a postindustrial economy with a bonanza in natural gas due to new technology. As a result it has seen a 20% drop in CO2 emissions in the last decade by switching from coal to gas powered electricity stations. In the future this can be accelerated which will make the U.S. The world leader in emissions reduction.

Of course CO2 is not the pollutant, but the particles from coal powered plants and petrol powered vehicles are. CO2 is good for plants up to 4000ppm as any greenhouse attendant will tell you.

The lack of correlation between climate and CO2 is demonstrated clearly by the current steady increase in ppm while the global temperature (HADCRUT/RSS) has stabilized for almost 20 years.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG shows what he thinks Australian business labors under

Narendra Modi and Tony Abbott reveal new India-Australia agreement

Great news that Australia is getting closer to one of my favourite countries.  Will the Leftist media call this too a "failure" by Tony Abbott?  To get major agreements with both India and China is a pretty strange "failure"

Australia and India have entered a new era of security and military co-operation based on shared values and aimed at defending a rules-based international order.

The Indian and Australian governments have now confirmed a Fairfax report this morning that prime ministers Narendra Modi and Tony Abbott quietly signed a sensitive and potentially transformative new framework agreement.

The confirmation came after China's President Xi Jinping had flown from Canberra to Tasmania.

"They have decided to establish the Framework for Security Cooperation to reflect the deepening and expanding security and defence engagement between India and Australia, and to intensify co-operation and consultation between Australia and India in areas of mutual interest," said India's Ministry of External Affairs, on its website.

The framework lays out an extensive "action plan" including annual prime ministerial summits and maritime military exercises, according to the Indian government website.

The action areas include counter-terrorism, border control and close consultations on regional and international institutions.

It even commits Australian "support for India's bid to be a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council".

Australian officials later "noted" the framework in a joint statement from Mr Abbott and Mr Modi, after Mr Abbott departed to join China's President Xi for an afternoon in Tasmania.

The joint statement said the new framework would guide closer bilateral collaboration across "defence, counter-terrorism, cyber policy, disarmament and non-proliferation and maritime security".

"They agreed to hold regular meetings at the level of the Defence Minister, conduct regular maritime exercises and convene regular navy to navy, air force to air force and army to army staff talks," said the joint statement.

Mr Modi first revealed the framework agreement in a media statement this morning, while standing alongside Mr Abbott.  "I welcome the new framework of security co-operation," said Mr Modi, without introduction or explanation.  "Security and defence are important and growing areas of the new India-Australia partnership for advancing regional peace and stability and combating terrorism and transnational crimes," he said.

Mr Modi's short revelation to journalists was made just minutes before he gave a historic address to a joint sitting of Parliament, the same venue where President Xi had yesterday pledged his nation to peaceful co-operation.

Mr Modi's powerful speech placed Australia at the centre of India's vision of a prosperous and regional order, at the juncture of the Indian and Pacific oceans, at a time when he said security was valued more highly than ever.

He talked of what the two countries could do working together in maritime security and counter-terrorism, in regional and global institutions, and in entrenching international norms of good behaviour.

"India and Australia can play their part in it by expanding security co-operation," Mr Modi told the joint sitting in unscripted English, when he more commonly speaks in Hindi at international events.

"What we do need is to work together, and with others, to create an environment and culture that promotes the currency of coexistence and co-operation in which all nations small and big abide by international law and norms ... even when they have bitter disputes," he said.

Mr Modi and Mr Abbott are unlikely to mention China in the context of their plans of military co-operation, at least while President Xi remains in Australia.

Nevertheless, the muscular China that has been on display in recent years has been at the forefront of their concerns.

Mr Modi has been chafing at Chinese military incursions on the Indian side of the "line of control", in the Himalayas.

Mr Abbott has been exercised by China's territorial conflicts with neighbours in its maritime periphery.

"There's an enthusiasm on both our parts for more bilateral and trilateral military exercises  and we hope to see much more of that in the years ahead," said Mr Abbott.

Earlier, Mr Modi said his visit with Mr Abbott this morning to the Australian War Memorial  had "reminded us of the need to strive together for a better world".

The new India-Australia framework dovetails neatly with both countries tightening ties with both Japan and the United States, suggesting the informal resurrection of a "security quad" or "security diamond" of democratic powers that was previously dropped due to Chinese concerns.


Abbott will soon look like a genius for refusing to drag Australia to yet another climate fiasco

Even as he continues to win plaudits from visiting Chinese and Indian leaders, the high priests and priestesses of the fourth estate are in full-throated rebellion against Tony Abbott. Defensive, embarrassing, timid, insular, clumsy, flawed, weird, cringeworthy – this is just a sampler of media comment on Abbott’s performance at the G20 in Brisbane.

But it is perhaps better to see Abbott as someone who refuses to agree at all times with outspoken, self-appointed pressure groups that breed around controversial questions. He makes an inviting rhetorical target precisely because he embodies that down-to-earth quality in our national spirit that has been all but obliterated by the modern obsession with courting fashionable opinion. His bluntness – such as his defence of Big Coal or his threat to “shirtfront” Putin – takes him where mealy-mouthed politicians fear to tread.

I say this as someone who disagrees with his stance on Ukraine. It is one thing to try to subject the Russian-backed rebels to some scrutiny for 17 July; it is another thing for the leader of a middle power to issue dire threats and warnings to a nuclear power with vital strategic interests at stake in a region that has been in its sphere of influence for centuries.

All things considered, however, Abbott’s diplomatic conduct in recent days has been defensible.

Start with the China trade deal, a major victory for our exporters that will add tens of billions of dollars to the economy. The prime minister promised to clinch unprecedented and lucrative agreements with Japan, South Korea and China by the end of the year. His foreign affairs and trade team have achieved this goal with aplomb. The three nations account for about half of all our exports.

The critics were having a field day feasting on Abbott for daring to talk about his government’s domestic policy challenges; never mind that the leaders were invited to the G20 opening session to discuss how domestic politics impede a pro-growth reform agenda.

Then there is the G20 growth agreement itself, which will dramatically improve the lives of people all around the world, so long as nations deliver on their promises. Even Michael Gordon, one of Fairfax Media’s many Abbott critics, has conceded that for the first time the world’s richest economies have committed themselves to a specific (and ambitious) growth target and they have been prepared to allow independent bodies to scrutinise their approaches.

We are told that on climate change, the G20 leaders spectacularly wrong-footed Abbott. Yet he has merely defended the national interest and kept faith with the Australian people who gave him an electoral mandate to abolish Julia Gillard’s widely unpopular carbon tax. We are also told that Paris is the moment when the world will come together to save us from an excess of greenhouse gas emissions. It’s a fair bet Abbott’s position will be vindicated at the United Nations climate talks next year.

Shortly before Brisbane, Beijing concluded a bilateral accord with Washington in which they agreed (on a non-binding basis) to begin reducing their annual emissions by 2030. The understanding is clearly that, since Obama signed up to this deal (and indeed presented it as a triumph), he will not push the Chinese any further at next year’s meeting in Paris.

Meanwhile, Obama needs to ask the US Congress to appropriate $3bn for the global climate fund. Republicans will oppose it, and many Democrats repudiated Obama’s energy agenda in the recent midterm elections. No member of the visiting Washington press corps, judging from the press conference on Sunday, evidently thinks the issue is an American priority. Congress won’t legislate a carbon tax or a national emissions trading scheme.

As for China, their leaders’ priority is to grow their economy at 7-8% annually and to reduce poverty; and the cheapest way of doing so is via carbon energy (president Xi did not even mention climate change in his address to parliament yesterday.) True, Beijing is investing in renewable energy projects and piloting cap and trade schemes in some provinces. But China is also building a coal-fired power plant every 8-10 days and its net emissions continue to escalate steadily (on 1990 levels, Australia is set to cut its greenhouse gas emission by 4% by 2020.)

Any “deal” at Paris will merely give China and India a free rein until the 2030s without any binding obligation to be monitored and scrutinised by the west on their actual behaviour. That is why Abbott is wise to make any Australian climate policies conditional on a legally binding, verifiable, enforceable and genuinely global agreement to replace the Kyoto protocol. Even the Germans have essentially done that.

What is shaping up now, as Benny Peiser of the London-based Global Warming Policy Forum predicts, is a huge blame game over the likely failure to agree to a post-Kyoto treaty. China and India will blame the west for its failure to deliver $100 bn per annum – yes, $100bn – that was promised at Copenhagen. Obama and the left will blame the Republicans. The EU will blame the Americans. Climate enthusiasts and developing nations will blame all and sundry.

And Abbott will look like a genius for keeping Australia on the margins of yet another climate summit fiasco.


G20 delegates decide to make Sydney a world financial hub

Another one of Abbott's "failures", I guess

IT was a view of the Opera House at dusk that convinced the finance leaders and governors of the world’s largest economies to agree to Sydney becoming the headquarters for a potential $7 trillion global infrastructure financing network.

The Daily Telegraph has learned that a private dinner at Government House on February 22 this year, hosted by Treasurer Joe Hockey, became the venue for a secret agreement unveiled yesterday as one of the key outcomes of the G20 conference in Brisbane.

Mr Hockey told guests to look out the window down to the Opera House and seek inspiration as they retreated into groups of eight and reported back to the Australian Treasurer that the greatest global problem with infrastructure was getting the private investment funds to build it.

The result was a declaration that Sydney CBD would become the hub for a global infrastructure drive. That drive would serve as matchmaker for investors, financiers, construction companies and governments to fund the $7 trillion in infrastructure that the world is forecast to be in need of over the next 15 years.

“It came out of a working dinner we had at Government House. I pointed out to them the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge as examples,’’ Mr Hockey said. “As far as I know Australia has never been the global hub for anything.

“This is one of the most significant outcomes of the G20.’’

The hub will manage a database of major infrastructure projects around the world and provide training for project managers and bureaucrats from other countries in world’s best practice for infrastructure planning and investment.

As of late yesterday the UK, China, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Korea, Mexico and New Zealand had committed funds to establishing the hub.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the Sydney-based hub would be critical to the world’s economy. “The hub will facilitate better information sharing and collaboration between the private sector, governments, development banks and international organisations on infrastructure investment,’’ he said.

“The hub will help countries improve their general investment climates.’’


China connection to build bridge to better health in Australia

Abbott just can't stop "failing"

A new research-led Chinese medicine clinic in Sydney, better patient outcomes and the potential for Australia to tap into the $170 billion global traditional Chinese medicine market are among the benefits set to flow from an agreement signed today in Canberra in the presence of Prime Minister Tony Abbott and People’s Republic of China President Xi Jinping.

The Memorandum of Understanding is between world-leading Beijing University of Chinese Medicine (BUCM) and the University of Western Sydney (UWS), which is the home of the National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM). UWS and NICM have a longstanding relationship with BUCM in both research and education.

The focus of the new agreement will be the development of an Australian-first, high quality Chinese medicine integrative clinical service in Sydney, which will have a close connection to both clinical and laboratory-based research. It is hoped that the research will lead to the development of new treatments for unmet medical needs and new medicines for export around the world.

Australia is the only Western nation to have unified national registration of Chinese medicine practitioners and strict regulation of medicines, which delivers safe healthcare to thousands of Australians every year.

UWS Vice-Chancellor Professor Barney Glover says the well-established regulatory framework and the strong international reputation for complementary medicine research at NICM - assessed by the Australian Research Council as ‘well above world standard’ (the highest rating) - provides the ideal environment for the new partnership with BUCM to deliver benefits to patients and the nation’s economy.

“Together UWS and BUCM will conduct the research and clinical trials required to validate and translate Chinese medicines into an integrated healthcare setting in Australia,” says Professor Glover.

“The connections forged with the internationally regarded researchers at BUCM will further enhance the reputation of UWS as a centre of research excellence that delivers practical outcomes for our communities.”

Beijing University of Chinese Medicine President, Professor Xu Anlong, says the educational and research opportunities for students and academics from both nations created by this partnership are extraordinary.

“The establishment of the joint centre for Chinese medicine between BUCM and UWS will provide a world class facility integrating clinical service, education and research, together, to serve the Australian people and promote Chinese medicine to the world, particularly in developed countries like Australia,” says Professor Xu.

Director of NICM, Professor Alan Bensoussan says the close collaboration with BUCM will increase the capacity of scientists and clinicians to research Chinese medicine treatments.

“This agreement is the bridge that brings the research conducted in the laboratory closer to the patient’s beside where it can make a real difference to a person’s health and wellbeing,” says Professor Bensoussan.

“The closer collaboration with colleagues in China and the integration of research into a clinical setting will accelerate the development of more effective treatments for the most pressing and costly chronic health problems facing the world,” says Professor Bensoussan.



Five current articles below

Despite opposition from Greens and farmers, NSW is pushing to get coal seam gas extraction up and running  -- as it already is in Qld

THE NSW Aboriginal Land Council will miss out on a ­series of valuable mining licences as part of the Baird government’s coal seam gas revamp.

Resources Minister ­Anthony Roberts announced plans last week to reopen the CSG industry, which has been beset by safety fears and ­community protests, in order to boost gas supplies and lower household bills.

As a first step, the government is cancelling 16 pending gas exploration applications put on ice during chief scientist Mary O’Kane’s study of the CSG industry and its extraction methods.

Six of those applications ­belong to the NSW Aboriginal Land Council and cover exploration for conventional petroleum gas deposits and possible CSG extraction sites in the state’s far west.

Land Council chairman Craig Cromelin said losing the applications was a blow to indigenous communities, who had hoped to secure a jobs and cash windfall through mining.

“We certainly think we’re being unfairly treated,” Mr Cromelin said.

“If Aboriginal people are going to break out of the ­dependency system that exists we’re going to have to be given an opportunity to prove that we can make a fist of businesses like gas extraction.”

The Land Council, which had appointed a gas industry partner to help develop its proposed mining projects, wants the government to reconsider its plan to scrap its six applications. It is prepared to accept a ban on CSG mining if it can proceed on the basis that it would mine gas using other methods.

A spokesman for Mr Roberts said the Land Council would be able to reapply, should the land where it wants to explore become available again under the state government’s new CSG regime, which is expected to be formalised next year.

“New areas of exploration will only be released after an assessment of economic environmental and social factors,” the spokesman said.


Australian uranium shipments planned for 2015 as India ramps up nuclear power

Greenies LOATHE uranium and try to stop Australia exporting it

The uranium industry is hoping to make trial shipments to India next year as the nation makes plans to move to 25 per cent nuclear power by 2050.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Indian leader Narendra Modi have discussed the supply of Australian uranium for India's nuclear power plants.

It follows their signing of a safeguards agreement in New Delhi in September, overturning a long-standing ban on uranium exports to the subcontinent.

In his address to federal parliament on Tuesday, Prime Minister Modi said he saw Australia as a major partner in his country's quest to boost electricity production and address climate change.

"(We seek) energy that does not cause our glaciers to melt," he said.  "Clean coal and gas, renewable energy and fuel for nuclear power."

The pair discussed energy security and what Mr Abbott called Australia's "readiness and willingness" to supply uranium to India for peaceful purposes.

"If all goes to plan, Australia will export uranium to India - under suitable safeguards ofcourse - because cleaner energy is one of the most important contributions that Australia can make to the wider world," Mr Abbott said.

The agreement is now being examined by the parliamentary treaties committee, which will close submissions on November 28.  There are also talks between officials on administrative arrangements.

Both the treaties process and the administrative arrangements must be finalised before Australian uranium producers can start exports to India.

Minerals Council uranium spokesman Daniel Zavattiero said the industry expected to start shipments next year.  "The industry position is things are moving okay," he said.  "We expect some point next year it will come into force and become operational, then we can start on shipments and sales."

Initial sales are expected to start on a small scale, but the outlook is strong.

The International Energy Agency estimates that while nuclear provides three per cent of India's power today, it will grow to 12 per cent by 2030 and 25 per cent in 2050.  India plans to invest $96 billion in nuclear plants to 2040, with 21 operating now, six under construction and 57 planned or proposed.  "It's very positive for us," Mr Zavattiero said.

The agreement stipulates India must only use the uranium for peaceful purposes that adhere to recognised international safety standards.  It is controversial because India has refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty despite possessing an arsenal of atomic weapons.

Australia has the largest share of uranium resources in the world but currently exports only 8400 tonnes a year, valued at over $820 million.


Western Australia's EPA gives green light for new iron mine

The Green/Left loathe ALL mines, for some obscure reason

Western Australia's environmental watchdog has given Rio Tinto the green light for a new 70 million tonne a year iron ore mine in the Pilbara, amidst growing concern about a global supply glut.

The state's Environmental Protection Authority has awarded conditional approval to the greenfields Koodaideri mine and infrastructure proposal, which was submitted by Rio Tinto subsidiary Mount Bruce Mining.

If approved by the state's Minister for Environment Albert Jacob, the mine is expected to produce as much as 70 million tonnes per annum of iron ore for a mine life of 30 years, Rio's Pilbara division is on track to export around 270 million tonnes in the 2014 calendar year, so the new mine would contribute a meaningful amount to the company's production volumes as well as sustaining pressure on the region's smaller miners.

A sharp fall in the iron ore price this year to around $US78 a tonne has put serious pressure on junior Pilbara iron ore miners, many of which are struggling to break even and are blaming Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton for flooding the market and causing prices to crash.

The project is part of Rio's long-term plans to grow its Pilbara exports to 360 million tonnes per year, with seeds for the growth sewn in November 2013 when Rio revealed its "breakthrough pathway for iron ore expansion in Australia".

That pathway proposed to build cheaper brownfields expansions at mines such as Yandicoogina and West Angelas, and delay an investment decision on new, more expensive greenfields mines such as Koodaideri and Silvergrass.

The company said that an investment decision on Silvergrass has been deferred to the third quarter of 2014 and the earliest decision on the Koodaideri deposit has been postponed to 2016.

Rio has been approached for comment about whether the EPA verdict will alter its plans to hold off on a decision to develop the mine.

EPA chairman Dr Paul Vogel has set 14 conditions for the development of the mine and surrounding infrastructure including strict rehabilitation and offset requirements and the creation of an exclusion zone to protect local species. The proposal was first brought to the EPA in 2012 and was assessed under the authority's highest level of scrutiny.

Dr Vogel said Rio had actively sought to avoid, minimise and rehabilitate environmental impacts through the proposal's design and had conducted numerous studies to address issues raised in the public submissions. Five public and eleven agency submissions were received during the comment period. The proposal is now open to a two week public appeals period before going to the Minister for a final decision.


Chinese Premier came bearing gifts, Barack Obama just attacked Australia over global warming

WHO would have thought it?  A US president comes to Australia with the specific intention of damaging the Australian government politically on climate change, while a Chinese president comes here with nothing but gifts.

Xi Jinping’s accomplished, well-considered speech to parliament yesterday contained no references to climate change and no implicit criticism of Australia. After all, there are other forums for that issue, China is not committed to any carbon emissions targets and why would you go out of your way to embarrass your host?

The contrast with Barack Obama was staggering. More than that, Xi was charming, respectful and helpful to all Australians he mentioned. He completed the free-trade agreement, which is a big win for both countries. But more generally his speech was one of reassurance and reasonable ambition.

Xi touched on some of the ­issues important to him and his government: China would remain a nation of socialism with Chinese characteristics. But he presented these values in a way designed to soothe and reassure. More than that, the substance of his message was one of reassurance more generally to the whole Asia-Pacific ­region. China was a peaceful country, he said, and repeated. China had suffered bullying and ­oppression. It would not visit these indignities on other nations.

Given how robustly the Abbott government has backed Japan’s strategic re-emergence, and protested against Beijing’s declaration of an air defence identification zone around the disputed Senkaku/­Diaoyu islands, as well as declining recently to join, at least for now, China’s new infrastructure bank, many analysts in Washington and Australia had expected some overt display of Chinese displeasure.

But the Chinese seem to value their relationship with the Abbott government, certainly to the extent that they would not embarrass their host by emphasising disagreements. Of course, the Chinese are being nice to everyone at the moment, including the Americans and even the ­Japanese. The question remains whether this will be the character of Chinese attitudes into the future.

But when China is being nice, everyone breathes easy.


China, US deal on global warming a load of hot air

ALMOST everything you’re told about Barack Obama’s “breakthrough” deal with China on global warming is a con.  But, God, listen to the spin.

President Obama told ecstatic students in Brisbane on Saturday that last week’s deal to limit carbon dioxide emissions would help save our Great Barrier Reef and “I want that there 50 years from now”.

Greens leader Christine Milne insisted it showed the Prime Minister Tony Abbott “is completely out of step with the rest of the world”.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said it recognised “human activity is already changing the world’s climate system”, and “we most certainly need to address climate change as the presidents of China and the United States have done”.

Red China was going green, agreed the warmist ABC, since “the most concrete target is to have 20 per cent of China’s energy produced from renewable sources by 2030”.

Hear all that?  Every claim is actually false, fake or overblown, as so often with the global warming scare.  Here are the five biggest falsehoods told about this “breakthrough”.

First, Labor is wrong: this deal proves nothing about global warming. In fact, there has still been no warming of the atmosphere for 16 years, contrary to almost every prediction.

Forget the excuse that the missing heat is hiding in the deep ocean. NASA researchers last month said a new study had found the “waters of Earth’s deep ocean have not warmed measurably since 2005”.

Nor, incidentally, have we seen the biennial bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef predicted in 1999 by Australian alarmist Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, a lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Second, this is not a real deal.  China, already the world’s biggest emitter, is actually promising little more than what it always planned — to let emissions keep soaring until 2030 as it makes its people richer.  China will cap its emissions only in 2030 — the never-never — when its electricity supply is deployed and its population is set to plummet.

In exchange, Obama promises to cut US emissions by 26 per cent of 2005 levels by 2025.  But Obama’s term ends in two years and the Republicans who now control Congress say they’ll try to block his deal.  Republican Mitch McConnell, the new majority leader in the Senate, said he was “particularly distressed by the deal”, which “requires the Chinese to do nothing at all for 16 years”.

And, to add to the phoniness, the deal is neither binding nor enforceable.

Third falsehood? No, this deal doesn’t show the Abbott Government is out of step.  The Government’s own planned cuts to emissions — 5 per cent of 2000 levels by 2020 — are not wildly behind the US ones over a similar time span.

If anyone is out of step it’s Labor, since China and the US plan to cut their emissions not with a Labor-style carbon tax but with Liberal-style direct action policies.

Fourth falsehood: China did not promise to get 20 per cent of its energy from renewable sources, as many journalists report.

The deal instead says that 20 per cent will come from “non-fossil fuels”, which in China’s case includes nuclear power.  Indeed, China plans to have at least five times more nuclear power by 2030, with Sun Qin, chairman of the China National Nuclear Corp, confirming earlier this year that “nuclear plants will play an important role in … raising the proportion of energy produced by non-fossil fuel”.

And the fifth falsehood?  The Greens and Labor don’t actually want us to follow the lead of the US and China at all.  Not when it comes to how those promises are meant to be delivered.

That’s because most of America’s cuts to emissions come from fracking, a technique that has given the US huge new supplies of natural gas, cheaper than coal and more greenhouse-friendly. But the Greens vehemently oppose fracking, and Labor wants it restricted.

As for China, it plans to have much of its non-fossil power supplied by nuclear plants and controversial dams like the massive Three Gorges project.  But, again, Labor and the Greens oppose nuclear power and fight new dams.

So without fracking, new dams or nuclear power, how could Australia possibly match the US and China?  How, given wind power is too unreliable and solar hideously expensive?

So what a con you’re being sold.  No, this isn’t a real deal.

To recap: China won’t cut emissions for another 16 years, and Congress will oppose Obama.  And reality check: Labor and the Greens actually oppose the technologies the US and China most rely upon to cut emissions.

Oh, and still the planet refuses to warm, for all Obama’s happy yammer.