Saturday, June 27, 2009

Most "asylum seekers" since Tampa heading towards Australia

Wishy-washy Rudd has revived the flow that Howard stopped

THE biggest boatload of asylum seekers since the Tampa crisis is heading towards Australia. The vessel, believed to be carrying up to 190 people, is being tracked by border protection authorities. It recently passed between the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra and is believed to be southeast of Bali. Authorities are waiting to see if it heads east towards Darwin or southwest towards Ashmore Reef.

The boat is one of several being monitored by Border Protection Command, which tracks suspect vessels as soon as they leave port. If the numbers aboard are as high as authorities believe, the vessel could mark a turning point in the tactics of people smugglers.

Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor's office declined to comment, saying it did not discuss operational matters. Most boats in recent times have carried about 20 unauthorised arrivals. But there are bigger profits to be made by smugglers who are willing to load more people aboard old fishing boats and ferries.

The Norwegian freighter MV Tampa rescued 433 asylum seekers from a leaky boat in 2001, prompting the Howard government's so-called "Pacific Solution". The policy was dismantled by the Rudd Government, which axed mandatory detention and closed processing centres on Nauru and Manus Island. It has also stopped billing immigration detainees for the cost of their stay.

The number of unauthorised boats heading to Australia has been steadily climbing, with 15 arriving already this year. The latest came this week, carrying 49 asylum seekers and four crew. The asylum seeker surge will test refugee processing facilities on Christmas Island, which are reportedly close to capacity.

Opposition immigration spokeswoman Sharman Stone said the Government was failing to deter boat arrivals. "It's on for young and old again," she said. "The people smugglers clearly have a well established pipeline to Australia and they are using the Rudd Government's soft policies to recruit more clients."


Unions getting aggressive again

They know that Rudd hasn't got the ticker to really take them on

UNIONS have flagged plans to beat Julia Gillard's ban on pattern bargaining by lodging multi-employer pay claims and taking co-ordinated industrial action after the new workplace regime starts operating next week.

Employers warned the union strategy was de facto pattern bargaining, increasing their "trepidation" about the new laws, which they said represented "big increases in union power".

At the recent ACTU Congress, union leaders were briefed by a senior official about how they could get around the ban on pattern bargaining.

ACTU senior industrial officer Cath Bowtell said unions were "disappointed we were unable to see the pattern bargaining provisions in the act, (but) we shouldn't overstate what they do".

"There is nothing that prevents unions lodging common claims and even taking co-ordinated industrial action, provided you are genuinely bargaining with each employer," she said.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce & Industry said employers should be concerned by Ms Bowtell's comments. "That sounds a bit like pattern bargaining by another name," the chamber's workplace policy director, David Gregory, said.

Business expected unions to start pushing for single agreements to cover a range of different employers, he said.

"There is this ability for a single agreement covering a whole range of employers to be established. You would have to think that probably some unions are looking strategically at those sorts of outcomes in terms of the way they co-ordinate claims."

The recent union criticism of the Fair Work Act was a "smokescreen" to camouflage gains by unions, he said.

"These are, by any measure, significant changes in terms of what they introduce, right through from no more statutory individual agreements to all of the things around bargaining and agreement making.

"With the right of entry provisions, unions now won't necessarily need to be bound by an award or an agreement at a workplace to seek to exercise those rights."

Australian Industry Group chief executive Heather Ridout said some employers were better prepared than others for the new laws, but "there is a general sense of trepidation about what the changes will mean in practice".

"While some of the hard-won amendments wound back some of the sharper ends of it, there is no doubt employers are going to face a very different industrial landscape with big increases in union power," she said.

The legislation had been "a massive drafting exercise and the law has not yet been tested and settled", Ms Ridout said.

"As problems arise, AI Group will be raising them with the government and seeking amendments to the legislation and regulations where necessary. Parliament needs to remain open to necessary changes."

ACTU secretary Jeff Lawrence said he could not judge how fundamental the new laws would be in swinging the pendulum back to unions. "This is a restoring of the balance, and Labor industrial relations legislation has always been about regulating the conduct of employers and setting out certain rights that workers have," he said.



As in America, the Senate is the crucial battleground

As the US Congress considers the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill, the Australian Senate is on the verge of rejecting its own version of cap-and-trade. The story of this legislation's collapse offers advance notice for what might happen to similar legislation in the US-and to the whole global warming hysteria.

Since the Australian government first introduced its Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) legislation-the Australian version of cap-and-trade energy rationing-there has been a sharp shift in public opinion and political momentum against the global warming crusade. This is a story that offers hope to defenders of industrial civilization - and a warning to American environmentalists that the climate change they should be afraid of just might be a shift in the intellectual climate.

An April 29 article in The Australian described the general trend-and its leading cause.
There is rising recognition that introduction of a carbon tax under the guise of "cap and trade" will be personally costly, economically disruptive to society and tend to shift classes of jobs offshore. Moreover, despite rising carbon dioxide concentrations, global warming seems to have taken a holiday....

With public perceptions changing so dramatically and quickly it is little wonder Ian Plimer's latest book, Heaven and Earth, Global Warming: The Missing Science, has been received with such enthusiasm and is into its third print run in as many weeks. [It's now up to the fifth printing.]

The public is receptive to an exposé of the many mythologies and false claims associated with anthropogenic global warming and are welcoming an authoritative description of planet Earth and its ever-changing climate in readable language.

One of the most remarkable changes occurred on April 13, when leading global warming hysteric Paul Sheehan - who writes for the main Sydney newspaper, the Sydney Morning Herald, which has done as much to hype the threat of global warming as any Australian newspaper - reviewed Plimer's book and admitted he was taken aback. He describes Plimer, correctly, as "one of Australia's foremost Earth scientists," and praised the book as "brilliantly argued" and "the product of 40 years' research and breadth of scholarship."

What does Plimer's book say? Here is Sheehan's summary:
Much of what we have read about climate change, [Plimer] argues, is rubbish, especially the computer modeling on which much current scientific opinion is based, which he describes as "primitive."...

The Earth's climate is driven by the receipt and redistribution of solar energy. Despite this crucial relationship, the sun tends to be brushed aside as the most important driver of climate. Calculations on supercomputers are primitive compared with the complex dynamism of the Earth's climate and ignore the crucial relationship between climate and solar energy.

To reduce modern climate change to one variable, CO2, or a small proportion of one variable-human-induced CO2-is not science. To try to predict the future based on just one variable (CO2) in extraordinarily complex natural systems is folly.

In response, this is Sheehan's conclusion: "Heaven and Earth is an evidence-based attack on conformity and orthodoxy, including my own, and a reminder to respect informed dissent and beware of ideology subverting evidence." This cannot be interpreted as anything but a capitulation. It cedes to the global warming rejectionists the high ground of being "evidence-based," and it accepts the characterization of the global warming promoters as dogmatic conformists.

The political impact has been manifested in a series of climb-downs as Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's government has been forced to delay its plans for cap-and-trade controls. On May 4, the government announced it would postpone the onset of the scheme until mid-2011, a year later than originally planned.

On June 4, this delayed emission trading scheme passed the House of Representatives despite a vote against it by the opposition. But it now faces almost certain defeat in the Australian Senate. Whereas the Labor government controls 32 votes in the Senate, the opposition Liberal-National coalition controls 37 and is committed to vote against it if the Rudd government will not grant more time to consider the outcome of the Copenhagen climate conference in December and US Senate deliberations. This itself is a compromise position, because many of the coalition parliamentarians now want to vote unconditionally against an ETS in any form.

There are 7 other votes in the Senate: five Greens who say the scheme doesn't go far enough but who could be induced to go along; one independent, Nick Xenophon, who has pledged to vote against the bill unless the government waits till after Copenhagen; and one other, Senator Steve Fielding of the Family First Party, who has decided to investigate the whole thing first hand. Fielding could turn out to be the single deciding vote.

His story is particularly interesting. Andrew Bolt, who has been leading the charge against the global warming hysteria for years, notes that Fielding's investigation "could blow apart the great global warming scare."

Fielding went to the US to assess the American evidence for global warming at close quarters. As Melbourne's Age reported on June 4:
Senator Fielding said he was impressed by some of the data presented at the [US Heartland Institute's] climate change skeptics' conference: namely that, although carbon emissions had increased in the last 10 years, global temperature had not.

He said scientists at the conference had advanced other explanations, such as the relationship between solar activity and solar energy hitting the Earth to explain climate change.

Fielding has issued a challenge to the Obama White House to rebut the data. It will be a novel experience for them, as Fielding is an engineer and has an Australian's disregard for self-important government officials. Here is how The Age described his challenge:
Senator Fielding emailed graphs that claim the globe had not warmed for a decade to Joseph Aldy, US President Barack Obama's special assistant on energy and the environment, after a meeting on Thursday…. Senator Fielding said he found that Dr. Aldy and other Obama administration officials were not interested in discussing the legitimacy of climate science.

Telling an Australian you're not interested in the legitimacy of your position is a red rag to a bull. So here is what Fielding concluded:
Until recently I, like most Australians, simply accepted without question the notion that global warming was a result of increased carbon emissions. However, after speaking to a cross-section of noted scientists, including Ian Plimer, a professor at the University of Adelaide and author of Heaven and Earth, I quickly began to understand that the science on this issue was by no means conclusive….

As a federal senator, I would be derelict in my duty to the Australian people if I did not even consider whether or not the scientific assumptions underpinning this debate were in fact correct.

What Fielding's questioning represents is just the tip of the kangaroo's tail. He speaks for a growing number of Australians who will no longer take green propaganda on trust.

And that's what makes Plimer so influential—not just his credibility as a scientist, but the righteous certainty with which he dismisses man-made global warming as an unscientific dogma. He writes: "The Emissions Trading Scheme legislation poises Australia to make the biggest economic decision in its history"—Australia generates 80% of its electricity from coal, which would essentially be outlawed—"yet there has been no scientific due diligence. There has never been a climate change debate in Australia. Only dogma."

Plimer is not a "skeptic," a term which would imply that he merely has a few doubts about the global warming claims. Instead, he rejects the whole myth outright, and this seems to have emboldened and liberated a great many Australians who were already chafing under global warming conformity. As Plimer puts it:
[T]here are a large number of punters [Australian for "customers" or "gamblers"—in this case, skeptical customers who may or may not buy what the government's selling] who object to being treated dismissively as stupid, who do not like being told what to think, who value independence, who resile from personal attacks and have life experiences very different from the urban environmental atheists attempting to impose a new fundamentalist religion. Green politics have taken the place of failed socialism and Western Christianity and impose fear, guilt, penance, and indulgences onto a society with little scientific literacy.

Australia is not that different from America. If a shift in public opinion against the global warming dogma can happen on one side of the earth, it can happen on the other—especially when the US edition of Plimer's book, scheduled for July 1, hits the stands.

His role, Plimer says, is to show "that the emperor has no clothes." After three decades of relentless global warming propaganda, it's about time.


Using taxpayers' money to save obese people from themselves is futile nanny statism

By Dr Jeremy Sammut

The Rudd government’s National Preventive Health Taskforce will next week call for obese people to be given tax breaks or cash subsidies to offset the cost of gym memberships and fitness equipment.

Public health lobbyists have hailed this step as a new dawn in the fight against obesity. But really, it highlights the mixed success of the last 40 years of public health promotion campaigns – on which Australian governments currently spend about $2 billion per year.

Despite what the misleading Body Mass Index statistics allegedly tell us about the nation’s expanding waistline, the healthy lifestyle message has seeped into the culture. First it was jogging and cutting red meat and dairy out your diet. Now it’s cutting out sugars altogether and going to the gym three times a week.

Many Australians order salad instead of chips. Snack on low-fat yoghurt instead of ice-creams. And pass when the cheese platter comes around. They even pay for gym memberships out of their own pockets so they can work out before or after work or during their lunch hours.

And for their trouble, the government is about to force them to subsidise the unhealthier habits of people who haven’t the will and self-discipline to follow their good example. And to pay for what? Ab-crunchers that will sit dusty and dormant in the garages of the slothful and indolent?

The high priests of the nanny state are at it again. As usual, bad behaviour is being rewarded and good behaviour is punished. And the importance of individual responsibility is being ignored entirely.

The above is a recent press release from the Centre for Independent Studies

1 comment:

Paul said...

A few years ago I had no time for Family First. Now Fielding is starting to get a real whiff of working class hero about him.