Wednesday, September 16, 2009


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is incensed that habitual paedophiles are ever allowed back into the community.

Another Greenie false prophet shown up for what he is

Tim Flannery must be running a close second to Paul Ehrlich by now. See the graphic first below about Perth's "declining" water supplies and after that a current picture of the Mundaring Weir in the Perth area (The difference between a weir and a dam is that water does not flow over a dam). Dam and weir levels are up in most of Australia at the moment. Fuller version of the first graphic here. The article has gone offline at its original source, "The West Australian" newspaper (originally June 25, 2004) but some pesky people keep copies of things. Tim should stick to fossils. He knows something about them.

A LONG spell of winter rain in Perth's catchment areas has lifted the city's dams to their highest level in almost a decade. Water Corporation spokesman Phil Kneebone today said the West Australian Government's winter sprinkler ban and consistent winter rainfall had helped fill dams to more than 49 per cent capacity. This compares with levels around 30 per cent before the seasonal winter rains arrived in June.

The Bureau of Meteorology said Perth and its surrounds had recorded rain on all but one day this month - the longest recorded stretch of daily September rainfall since 1915. However, this year's total rainfall of 536.8mm is still well below the city's average of 766mm to the end of September. A weather bureau spokesman said much heavier falls had been received in the catchment areas of the Perth hills and Mr Kneebone said he expected dams to rise above their current volume of 195.7 billion litres.

"I expect they will reach more than 50 per cent capacity by the end of the week," Mr Kneebone said. "It is easily the most water we have had in the dams, in any year, since 2000."

Mr Kneebone said the daily water consumption over the past week was down 16 per cent from this time last year. He said the sprinkler ban had directly contributed to a saving of 50 million litres of water a day, enough to fill about 22 Olympic swimming pools. "We currently have enough to get through an extra 50 hot summer days," he said. "It's great to see the community showing restraint with water use. "We will be able to give our biggest ground water source, the Gnangara Mound, a rest, which is also good news."


Building industry watchdog reject attempt to whitewash unions

BUILDING industry watchdog John Lloyd has criticised the Rudd government over its handling of his future, with taxpayers facing a $115,000 compensation payout if he departs before his contract expires next year...

Mr Lloyd attacked the finding of last week's Senate inquiry into the ABCC, saying the report continued to repeat "misconceptions" about the watchdog's role.

In the report's preface, inquiry chairman and Labor senator Gavin Marshall said the ABCC had taken a narrow view of its role and had not sought to remedy all the unacceptable practices in the industry. He said this had resulted in a perception the ABCC was interested only in protecting employers against union aggression rather than safeguarding the interests of industry stakeholders.

Of investigations undertaken by the ABCC in the past two years, 26 per cent have targeted employers, compared with 64 per cent at unions and 8 per cent at employees. Of the court cases commenced by the ABCC in the same period, 11 per cent have been directed at employers compared with almost 90 per cent at unions.

Mr Lloyd said Mr Marshall's "assertion is wrong". "We administer the act without fear or favour, and we commence proceedings and investigations against whoever contravenes the law," he said. "It's not a role that runs to a quota system, to somehow give equality of treatment. "If we have more investigations and cases involving unions, it's because they're involved in more of the alleged and actual contraventions."


Dumb official attempt to stop school bullying

They are "developing a plan" Big deal!

An autistic boy being bullied at his Ipswich primary school was given a "stop" sign which he waved at his tormentors, sparking outrage from his mother. The eight-year-old boy was armed with the sign by staff at Ipswich West State School after he said he had been pushed down a staircase by bullies and even dangled over a second-storey veranda.

Far from deterring the attacks, his mother said the sign only made him a target for more bullying. “My son is terrified of going to school and no-one is helping him. He’s totally on his own,” she told The Queensland Times. “The situation is atrocious and I think that giving my son a card to wave at these bullies is completely inappropriate."

An Education Queensland spokesman said: “Ipswich West State School implements a range of programs, including one that uses alternative communication methods, to help children – in particular to support students with a disability.”

But the department denied the boy was given the card to show bullies. A spokeswoman said he had been given the card as a prompt for himself, not others. "This student was taking part in a specialist support program called `Stop, Think, Do' which encourages students to stop and think about their own actions before they act or make decisions,'' she said. "This card serves as a prompt for the student to think about his own actions. "This was implemented as part of the student's individual support plan in consultation with specialist staff. The student's parent was aware of the plan. "The school is in the process of developing a new support plan for this student, in consultation with his parents and the specialist staff.''

The spokeswoman also didn't deny that the boy had used the card incorrectly as a defence against bullies.


Why the Australia economy has done so well

Don't be misled by the mildness of this recession into thinking we didn't have a problem in the first place. The pills of budgetary and interest-rate stimulus are working well.

Even so, John Howard, Peter Costello and the Liberals are entitled to a lot of the credit for our comparatively comfortable position. In seeking to deny them that credit, Kevin Rudd is being disingenuous and churlish. In other words, although our position owes much to the size and speed of the Government's response to the global crisis - and the Reserve Bank's - it owes much to the good state we were in when the global financial crisis hit a year ago. And since Rudd had been in office less than a year, the economy's state was largely the consequence of his predecessors' policies.

One of our greatest strengths compared with the Americans, British and other Europeans is that, although some of our lesser financial institutions have failed, our banks have been rock solid. The trouble facing most of the rest of the developed world is because their banks are in trouble. Howard and Costello deserve the credit for this. They resisted pressure from our big four banks to allow them to merge and become ''national champions'', continuing their predecessors' Four Pillars policy and thus helping to keep our banks out of trouble.

Just as importantly, early in his period as treasurer, Costello completed reform of financial sector regulation, placing prime responsibility in the hands of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority. Part of the Americans' problem is that responsibility in their system is shared between four or five buck-passing authorities.

The Liberals' other great contribution was to have returned the federal budget to surplus and paid off the federal government's net debt, which they did to a fair extent using the proceeds from the progressive privatisation of Telstra. Here it's important to remember - as the present Opposition seems to have forgotten - the great advantage of returning the budget to surplus and eliminating debt is it leaves you well placed for the next time you need to run up deficits and debt in the interests of stabilising the economy.

The budget is like a set of dinner plates. You wash them and put them away after the last meal so they're ready for next time. All this was implicit in the Howard government's stated medium-term objective for budgetary policy, to maintain the budget in balance only on average over the course of the economic cycle. Budget deficits are appropriate when the economy is very weak; budget surpluses are appropriate when it's strong. On average, the deficits and surpluses should cancel out.

It was because our fiscal (budgetary) affairs were in such good order that there needed to be no hesitation in the decision last October for the Government to spend big in an effort to reduce the downturn in the economy. (Remember, however, the downturn would have pushed the budget into deficit even without any additional spending - that's how budgets work.)

By contrast, the Americans and most of the Europeans had big annual budget deficits and high levels of accumulated debt when the crisis hit. That didn't stop them spending heavily to stimulate their economies as well as to bail out their banks. Needs must when the devil drives. But this is why there's now so much worry about the huge levels of debt the developed world is acquiring. The need to service and slowly pay it down will be a major constraint on the world economy for many years.

This weak world growth will adversely affect us to some extent but, although Rudd won't find it easy to get our budget back to surplus over the next few years, our debt problem is chicken feed compared to the others'.

Looking at it more broadly, you have to say our economy is a lot more flexible and resilient than it used to be. That is, it's better able to roll with whatever punches the world throws at us. And you have to give the Howard government its share of the credit for this. For a start, it established a much better set of arrangements for the day-to-day management of the economy, setting the aforementioned medium-term objective for the budget and formally accepting that interest rates would be set by the Reserve Bank independent of the elected government.

It also introduced the long-feared goods and services tax - a much-needed reform - cut the tax on capital gains, privatised Telstra, ''marketised'' child care and job placement, and attempted to introduce Work Choices.

Most of the ''structural'' reform that so changed our economy was done by the previous Labor government: deregulation of the financial system, floating the dollar, phasing out tariff protection, sundry privatisations and deregulations, competition policy and moving from centralised wage-fixing to enterprise bargaining.

Now they're out of office, Howard and Costello are happy to acknowledge the Hawke-Keating government's considerable role in transforming our economy though, like Rudd, they refused to admit it at the time. But the first realisation our economy was now much more resilient came at the time of the Asian financial crisis in 1998, well before any of the Howard government's structural changes could have had much effect.

No former government's record is unblemished, however. Hawke and Keating presided over a severe recession (which left a fair bit of government debt) and Howard did, as Rudd charges, leave us with less to show for the resources boom than he should have, particularly in his neglect of productivity-enhancing investment in infrastructure and education and training.


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