Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Australian government again told by adviser to relax greenhouse cuts

The Rudd Government will have to abandon plans for rigid interim targets for greenhouse gas cuts to allow its emissions-trading scheme to work properly, a senior economist has said. Warwick McKibbin, whose economic models on climate change are being used by Treasury to calculate the costs involved, yesterday added his voice to concerns that mandating a specific cut for 2020 could lift the cost of tackling global warming. "That's the problem with politicians who make promises that can't be sustained," Professor McKibbin said. "I think the Government will realise they can still be credible enough, even if they drop a few things."

Kevin Rudd has said Australia needs interim targets for emissions cuts, beyond its existing pledge to reduce greenhouse emissions by 60 per cent by 2050. The Prime Minister commissioned Australian National University economist Ross Garnaut to advise the Government on how the targets should be set. Professor Garnaut suggested yesterday it would be more efficient to use targets as a guide for allocating carbon permits, rather than as exact and enforceable cuts for specific years.

Professor McKibbin agrees, saying business should in some years be allowed to exceed the target for emissions. "It can't be all or nothing," he said. "There has to be a balance between the environmental benefit and the economic costs, and that's what's missing."

However, a spokesman for Climate Change Minister Penny Wong said the Government would not abandon its election commitment on targets. "The Government expects (Professor Garnaut) will raise a number of interesting questions and ideas for consideration," Senator Wong's spokesman said. "Of course, given Professor Garnaut is independent, his ideas may not necessarily reflect government thinking."

WWF climate program director Paul Toni warned that some companies would risk doing nothing to cut emissions if there were no binding interim targets, in the hope they could lobby future governments to soften the rules later. "Instead of the crunch coming in 10 years or five years, there will be some industries that will be asking for further support and will be able to exert pressure," Mr Toni said. "It will just postpone rent-seeking to a date further in the future." Australian Industry Greenhouse Network chief executive John Daley said he favoured less government interference and more market freedom in an emissions-trading system.

More here

Bigoted far-Left educational "resource"

Hate-speech against those evil white people again

A taxpayer-funded program suggests Barbie may be Italian and asks whether she likes Spider-Man in a bizarre bid to tackle racism in childcare centres. But the move may have backfired with the radical blueprint telling teachers the Government itself is a racist institution run by white Anglo-Saxon men. The federally funded childcare resource warns early childhood teachers to be wary of "government policy" that expect "all cultures to conform to a white Anglo Australian way of living".

The book even compares citizenship to the White Australia Policy and attacks the Australian Government whose policies have "been formulated by political parties who historically and even today are in the majority white Christian Anglo middle class men". "Like the White Australia Policy, current government policies of 'citizenship' set out an official framework of what it is to be Australian," it reads.

The 'Exploring Multiculturalism, Anti-Bias and Social Justice in Children's Services' project is funded by the Federal Government and put out by Children's Services Central, a network of children service bodies in NSW. Designed to assist early childcare workers in NSW, the document gives advice on dealing with racism.

It comes after The Daily Telegraph revealed the State Government has funded an anti-racism program in a NSW pre-school for the first time. The pilot scheme at the Auburn Long Day Care Centre involves teaching children the national anthems of different countries and celebrating ethnic festivals such as Chinese New Year and Muslim holidays.

In contrast, the wacky teaching resource uses the Cronulla riots as a case study in an anti-racism lesson entitled "All the Lebs Are Bad Guys". Excerpts from another lesson relays a conversation about Barbie's ethnic origins between a group of young children from different cultural backgrounds.

A spokeswoman for federal Early Childhood Parliamentary Secretary Maxine McKew did not comment on whether the Government would consider withdrawing the resource.


Bill Hayden reflects

Comments from Bill Hayden below inspired by Paddy McGuinness (Bill Hayden is a former governor-general of Australia, Labor leader, treasurer and foreign minister

Tributes to P. P. McGuinness have lately been pouring in from across the nation, and many of them have highlighted Paddy's central role in the nation's journalistic and cultural life. But there is another Paddy, and here is my story of the economic adviser and good mate I knew for more than three decades.

I first met Paddy in 1972 when he came to work with me after I was appointed minister for social security in the Whitlam government. I was looking for a senior staff member, a task that left me somewhat flummoxed as, apart from an electorate assistant, I had never employed anyone before. I needed someone with appropriate qualifications, wide experience and plenty of energy. Max Walsh, editor of The Australian Financial Review, called to say: "I've got just the man for you. You'll like him. He's very much like you." On the appointed day, there was a knock on my office door in Canberra.

Now, bear in mind that I was a short-back-and-sides copper, not all that long off the police beat in Ipswich. And a Queensland cop to boot. So when I opened the door and saw Paddy standing there, I was taken aback: long hair, a generous, almost forbidding beard; he was wearing a black skivvy, black strides, a well-cut, silk-lined opera cloak; he carried a rather elegant walking cane with a moulded silver handle. I took a few deep breaths to get over the culture shock, and then we held discussions. Within minutes, I was won over. He was a man of mild presentational manner and clearly an intellectual force with formidable credentials and experience in economics. He was also very agreeable company.

Although a middle-class intellectual, he never sneered at or talked down to the working class. I'm boots-and-braces working class and that has always been important to me. One of the ALP's problems in recent times has been the small but loquacious and self-absorbed middle-class layer that has attached itself to the party. It consists of the politically correct who are determined to transform our lifestyles, habits and even our thoughts to bring them into conformity with their own standards. All the workers have to do is the grubby, sweaty, mucking-out work in the stables of humanity. Kim Beazley Sr once said at an ALP conference: "When I joined the Labor Party, it contained the cream of the working class; now it contains the dregs of the middle class." That may have been a bit harsh in the circumstances, but there was a kernel of truth in there.

Now reflect on Paddy's newspaper columns over the decades. He always spoke with respect about working-class points of view. "My family's Irish-Australian nationalist background instilled in me a respect for the ordinary class, the battlers, the little people," he once noted. Their expression might sometimes be unpolished or untutored, but their views are based on experience at the rough end of the sociopolitical spectrum, where practicalities are often crucially important. That is why workers can invariably see through people who are using them, or who insist on making impractical arrangements to govern other people's lives, as in the case of Aboriginal welfare policy. And that is why John Howard attracted a majority blue-collar vote at the 1996, 2001 and 2004 elections. The prodigious squandering of our tribal heritage left me dumbfounded.

I recall watching Paddy enter an Ipswich pub in attire that wasn't exactly commonplace in those environs, yet in a very short while he would be engaged in conversation with members of the working class. They were attracted to his personality and his obvious intellectual depth - which he wore lightly, like a well-woven but unpretentiously cut coat - but most of all they relished his company because he clearly respected their points of view.

Paddy was the token male in my office in the 1970s. Gae Raby, head of the office, managed everything, except Paddy. At first, the women didn't know what to make of him. Gae, thinking she would reach out for the soft spot in Paddy's nature, cleared his memorably chaotic desk one day while he was out. On his return, Paddy softly growled: "Empty desk tops belong to empty minds." The women quickly recognised that Paddy was a true gentleman: someone who was always ready to help; who would defend them against some of the more pushy, demanding types who can turn up at a minister's office; and who was good fun after work, offering crackingly good-humoured companionship at a dinner table with cold wine and hot food.

Once I was called into parliament to make a statement on some matter at very short notice. I started to address the house before Paddy had finished writing the speech. And yet, as I spoke, the speech kept arriving, one page at a time.

Peter McCawley, a distinguished public sector economist and a mutual friend of ours, recalls Paddy as a formidable member of the razor gang, as it was colloquially known, during the Whitlam era. The task of this group was to recommend ways to pare back public spending: no easy task for a government with a notable devotion to public spending. Sound familiar? The present-day equivalent would be for the Reserve Bank to modestly increase interest rates in order to gently curb sectoral pressure in some part of the economy, and for the government to then dish out huge tax cuts and institute spending programs that undermine the bank's carefully calibrated measures.

Paddy had so many estimable virtues. He never left a job half done, and it is no wonder the final edition of Quadrant produced under his editorship went on sale just days before he died. He embodied integrity and was always honourable in his dealings: a person of enormous energy and great abilities. Australia is poorer with his passing. [Hear here!]


Less than a year in jail for this trash?

AN unlicensed motorist broke a police officer's arm after leading him on a high speed chase through Brisbane, a court has been told. Sean William Burdon, 28, was today sentenced to three years jail and disqualified from driving for four years after the dangerous incident on August 7, 2006.

The Brisbane District Court was told the chase began when Burdon stole a car from outside a home at Bribie Island, north of Brisbane, about 2.30am (AEST). After almost running down the car's owner, Burdon led police on a 35km journey from Bribie Island to the inner-city suburb of Fortitude Valley. The court was told he reached speeds of 140km/h during the chase, ran numerous red lights and repeatedly swerved onto the wrong side of the road, narrowly avoiding hitting a police car.

He was briefly slowed but didn't stop when police scored a hit with road spikes. The spikes blew out at least two tyres, sending sparks flying as Burdon struggled to retain control of the car.

The court was told his journey ended when he ploughed into gates at the Brisbane RNA showgrounds. Police attempted to wrestle Burdon from the car when he came to a stop, with one officer sustaining a broken arm during the violent struggle. Burdon today tendered a letter to the court apologising for his behaviour, saying he had "rediscovered" himself since the offence. He pleaded guilty to five offences including dangerous operation of a motor vehicle with a circumstance of aggravation and assault or obstructing a police officer.

Judge Hugh Botting reactivated a previous suspended sentence for property offences and also sentenced him to three years jail for these latest offences. He will be eligible for parole in November.


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