Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Cancer charity donates less than 1pc

And officialdom just waffles. It's a warning about whom NOT to donate to, however. I mostly donate directly to individuals. That way I know that my money is not going to support parasites and con-men. If you want to donate to cancer research, give it directly to a university medical school. You will even get more thanks that way

LESS than one cent in every dollar raised by an Australian charity has gone to its intended cause in its first two financial years, documents show. The Adelaide-based National Cancer Research Foundation last year picked up $387,864 in donations but gave just $4900 away, according to its audited profit and loss statements. The year before, it raised almost $197,160, giving away only $935.

So far this financial year, one of the foundation's directors says the charity has passed on almost $30,000, but yesterday could not say how much had been raised.

Most of the money raised in the past two financial years went on commissions, management fees, travelling expenses and drivers. The foundation's director, Neil Menzies, blamed the start-up costs of a charity.

In heartfelt letters obtained by The Advertiser the foundation, which was launched in January 2008, outlines its fundraising aims, saying it needs hundreds of thousands of dollars for research. It says it urgently needs to raise $700,000 for ovarian cancer, $650,000 for children's cancers, $800,000 for breast cancer and $500,000 for prostate and colon cancer research. "The costs are staggering, but we will succeed again," its letters say.

Mr Menzies said the company was working hard to improve its margins, claiming it had already given away almost $30,000 this financial year to the Royal Adelaide Hospital, Camp Quality, and the Canberra Hospital. "More will be passed on before the end of the next financial year," he said. "We're changing our structure. Where we relied a lot on telemarketing, which is labour (intensive), we'll be more into events, golf days, dinner dances, quiz nights." "Within two or three years if we're able to pass on . . . (money) in the vicinity of $100,000 per year, that would be terrific."

The Office of the Liquor and Gambling Commissioner monitors charities, under the auspices of Gambling Minister Tom Koutsantonis, who said yesterday that governments were working hard to make them more accountable. "This is what we're looking into - we're making charities publish all their financial details . . . to make them more transparent and more accountable," he said. "While we believe the majority are doing the right thing, South Australians deserve to know where their hard-earned money ends up.

Philanthropy Australia chief executive officer Gina Anderson said it was difficult to pinpoint the proportion that should be passed on. She said the word "foundation", often used by charities, did not have any legal meaning, and she said Australia was finally going to accept standard accounting measures for charities.

The Productivity Commission is reviewing the not-for-profit sector. In its draft report, released in October this year, it found there was a need for wide-ranging reforms. It recommended a "one-stop shop" for regulation, to ensure community organisations and charities were transparent, and to simplify regulatory processes.


The Leftist version of "openness"

As Obama has vividly shown, saying one thing and doing the opposite is the Leftist way

KEVIN Rudd's government has refused more freedom of information requests in its first full financial year of power than John Howard's did in its last full financial year in office despite Labor's stated program to increase transparency of public information. The annual report of the Freedom of Information Act, which was quietly released just before Christmas, shows that 1530 requests, or 6.09 per cent, were refused in the 12 months to June 30. In the 12 months to June 30, 2007, the last full financial year of the Howard government, 1499 requests were refused, or 4.39 per cent. The refusal rate in the past financial year was also higher than in the power change-over year of 2007-08 when 1368 requests were refused, or 4.36 per cent. The percentage of requests granted in full in the past financial year compared with 2006-07 also declined, from 80.6 per cent to 71 per cent.

However the government's response times improved. In the 12 months to June 30, 83.29 per cent of FOI requests were dealt with in less than 30 days, compared with 67.89 per cent in the previous financial year and 77.15 per cent in 2006-07.

The Prime Minister's own department granted full access to 12 of 32 requests (38 per cent), while in 2006-07 Mr Howard's department granted full access to six of 16 requests (37.5 per cent).

The tighter flow of information came despite the government embarking on a series of major reforms of the FOI Act, including the abolition of conclusive certificates, which allowed ministers to veto FOI releases without any reasonable public interest explanations for their actions.

The opposition seized on the figures and accused the government of keeping a tighter rein on the flow of information. Opposition legal affairs spokesman George Brandis said the Rudd government's performance on FOI was "yet another example of the mismatch between the government's rhetoric and the reality of its performance". "Early this year, the then Special Minister of State Senator (John) Faulkner launched a new FOI policy and promised a fundamental change towards a pro-disclosure policy," Senator Brandis said. "But it has sunk without trace and has not been prosecuted by the new minister, Senator (Joe) Ludwig. "The heroic pro-disclosure rhetoric stands in stark contrast to the cold, hard statistical reality that would show that there is less freedom of information under the Rudd government than under the Howard government."

A spokesman for Senator Ludwig said the government remained committed to FOI reform.

The report said that about 80 per cent of FOI requests related to personal information, with Centrelink (37 per cent), Veterans Affairs (22 per cent), and Immigration and Citizenship (21 per cent) receiving the most requests.


Tidal wave of retirees threatens to break the bank

AUSTRALIA is on the crest of a demographic tsunami, with the first wave of 5.3 million baby boomers eligible for the age pension from next week. The country's money box faces the double whammy of paying for older Australians who need extra care and for workers who are retiring in greater numbers than ever before.

With the pension age for women still being phased up to 65, those born in 1946 – the first year of the baby boomer generation – will be entitled to claim a government-funded age pension from next year, when they turn 64. Men born in 1946 will be in line for a pension a year later, when they turn 65.

KPMG demographer Bernard Salt said it signalled the start of a landmark shift in Australia's population – one that would deliver a "double whammy" to Federal Government finances. "Not only will the baby boomers demand more from the tax base, but they will also be coming out of the workforce and will stop paying tax," Mr Salt said. "It is a demographic tsunami, building up, building up and then crashing ashore."

Apart from a surge in demand for age pensions, leading Australian demographers said ageing baby boomers would increase pressure on already stretched health budgets. "They are the most obese generation we've ever had, so reducing their obesity is really crucial if they are going to have healthy older years," said Adelaide University Geography professor Graeme Hugo. [Rubbish! Older people get sick more but obesity is nothing to do with it]

Professor Martin Bell, from the University of Queensland's Centre for Population Research, said the retirement of the baby boomers would also exacerbate skilled labour shortages in Australia and create planning issues for growing cities such as Brisbane. "This is an intriguing transition," Prof Bell said. "I'd rank it alongside the Industrial Revolution. "It's that kind of transition in the nature of Western society – from a young, rapidly growing population, which is broad at the bottom and thin at the top, to one that is almost the other way round."

In response to some of those emerging challenges, the Federal Government last year announced it would push out the pension eligibility age to 67 by 2023. But as the Federal Government considers the Henry tax review – expected to deliver the most sweeping reform of Australia's tax system since the GST was introduced in July 2000 – CommSec chief economist Craig James said the pension qualifying age might have to be revisited. "I think we may see further shifts over the next couple of years," he said. "Perhaps even pushing that pension age out further."

The high cost of Australia's rapidly greying population: "Perhaps it requires more incentives for employers to take on more senior workers,'' Mr James said.

Mr Salt said the problem should be met with a big rise in migration levels, targeting young skilled workers, to boost the tax base. "We either lift migration or we can ask Gen Y and Gen X to pay more tax per capita, and I don't think that's going to be popular,'' he said.

Latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicate around 107,000 Australian women will turn 64 next year. By 2047, a quarter of all Australians will be aged over 65 years, almost double the current 13 per cent. In the last financial year, the Government supported 2.12 million seniors with age pensions, at a cost of $28 billion. In the previous year, $24.6 billion was spent providing age pensions for 2.04 million Australians.



Three current articles below:

Man dying because of Warmist laws

As his health begins to fail, protesting farmer Peter Spencer swore yesterday he would die before giving in to a Federal Government decision to make his farm a carbon sink. That vow came as his four children and newborn grandchild arrived in Canberra from the US to support the 58-year-old on day 37 of the protest, the Daily Telegraph reports.

Mr Spencer, who is chained to a wind tower more than 20m above ground, claims the government declared his property in Shannons Flat, north of Cooma, a carbon sink without offering any compensation. He says the move has left him unable to earn a living because he cannot clear land and redevelop the farm, and he is demanding a personal meeting with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to discuss the issue.

Aaron, Emma, Kahn and Sarah Spencer, who were all raised on the property, arrived home on Christmas Day and intend to stay until January 8. Sarah, 30, a registered nurse in her adopted home of Grand Rapids, Michigan, planned to examine her father yesterday after introducing him to her four-month-old son Saxon. "I've got my stethoscope and blood pressure cuff so I want to assess him," the farmer's daughter said. "I want to listen to his lungs, check his blood pressure and look at the swelling on his ankles. The problem is even if I tell him that I think he's coming down with pneumonia or that his kidneys are weakening ... he won't come down.

"It's heartbreaking ... but he's still very much with it mentally and is the same father we've always known. I just don't know how quickly he'll deteriorate. We're going to support him. He will come down if [Mr Rudd] makes an agreement or he'll die waiting." Aaron and Kahn climbed the tower to give their father warm clothes and helped set up a tent to protect him from heavy rainfall.

A spokesperson for Mr Rudd yesterday said the Government had "urged" Mr Spencer to stop the protest. "The Agriculture Minister responded to Mr Spencer's letter on the Prime Minister's behalf, however the Government believes this matter should be settled through the legal system and urges Mr Spencer in the strongest possible terms to end his protest and seek medical attention," the spokesperson said. "The Government sets policy in the national interest. This policy will not be changed by threats of violence or self-harm."


More evidence that CO2 is not the culprit for warming

By Michael Asten (Michael Asten is a professorial fellow in the school of geosciences at Monash University, Melbourne)

THE Copenhagen climate change summit closed two weeks ago in confusion, disagreement and, for some, disillusionment. When the political process shows such a lack of unanimity, it is pertinent to ask whether the science behind the politics is as settled as some participants maintain.

Earlier this month (The Australian, December 9) I commented on recently published results showing huge swings in atmospheric carbon dioxide, both up and down, at a time of global cooling 33.6 million years ago.

Paul Pearson and co-authors in a letter (The Weekend Australian, December 11) took exception to my use of their data and claimed I misrepresented their research, a claim I reject since I quoted their data (the veracity of which they do not contest) but offered an alternative hypothesis, namely that the present global warming theory (which was not the subject of their study) is inconsistent with the CO2-temperature variations of a past age.

Some senior scientists, who are adherents of orthodox global warming theory, do not like authors publishing data that can be used to argue against orthodoxy, a point made by unrelated authors with startling clarity in the Climategate leaked emails from the University of East Anglia.

In the scientific method, however, re-examination of data and formulation of alternative hypotheses is the essence of scientific debate. In any case, the debate on the link between atmospheric CO2 and global temperature will continue since it is not dependent on a single result.

Another example is a study by Richard Zeebe and colleagues, published in Nature Geoscience, of a release of CO2 and an increase in temperature 55 million years ago. At this time there was an increase in global temperature of between 5C and 9C, from a temperature regime slightly warmer than today's (that I will call moderate Earth) to greenhouse temperatures. It can be argued this example may have a message for humanity because the rate of release of CO2 into the atmosphere at the time of this warming was of a similar order to the rate of anthropogenic release today.

However, the analogy turns out to be incomplete when the data is compared with present estimates of climate sensitivity to atmospheric CO2, and Zeebe and his colleagues conclude that the large temperature increase cannot be explained by our existing understanding of CO2 temperature linkage. Indeed, they write, "our results imply a fundamental gap in our understanding of the amplitude of global warming associated with large and abrupt climate perturbations. This gap needs to be filled to confidently predict future climate change."

I argue there are at least two possible hypotheses to explain the data in this study: either the link between atmospheric CO2 content and global temperature increase is significantly greater (that is, more dangerous) than the existing models show or some mechanism other than atmospheric CO2 is a significant or the main factor influencing global temperature.

The first hypothesis is consistent with climate change orthodoxy. Recent writings on climate sensitivity by James Hansen are consistent with it, as was the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in its pre-Copenhagen update, The Copenhagen Diagnosis.

Indeed, the 26 authors of the IPCC update went a step further, and encouraged the 46,000 Copenhagen participants with the warning: "A rapid carbon release, not unlike what humans are causing today, has also occurred at least once in climate history, as sediment data from 55 million years ago show. This `Palaeocene-Eocene thermal maximum' brought a major global warming of 5C, a detrimental ocean acidification and a mass extinction event. It serves as a stark warning to us today."

We have to treat such a warning cautiously because, as Pearson and his colleagues pointed out in their letter two weeks ago, "We caution against any attempt to derive a simple narrative linking CO2 and climate on these large time scales. This is because many other factors come into play, including other greenhouse gases, moving continents, shifting ocean currents, dramatic changes in ocean chemistry, vegetation, ice cover, sea level and variations in the Earth's orbit around the sun."

Sound science also requires us to consider the second of the above two hypotheses. Otherwise, if we attempt to reconcile Zeebe's observation by inferring climate sensitivity to CO2 is greater than that used for current models, how do we explain Pearson's observation of huge swings in atmospheric CO2, both up and down, which appear poorly correlated with temperatures cooling from greenhouse Earth to moderate Earth?

The two geological results discussed both show some discrepancies between observation and model predictions. Such discrepancies do not in any sense reduce the merit of the respective authors' work; rather they illustrate a healthy and continuing process of scientific discovery.

In addition, unrelated satellite data analyses published in the past two years by physicist David Douglass and distinguished atmospheric scientist John Christy in two journals, International Journal of Climatology and Earth and Environment, provide observational evidence that climate sensitivity associated with CO2 is less than that used in present climate modelling, by a factor of about three.

Thus we have two geological examples and two satellite data studies pointing towards a lesser role of CO2 in global warming. This argument does not discount the reality of global warming during the past century or the potential consequences should it continue at the same rate, but it does suggest we need a broader framework in considering our response.

The Copenhagen summit exposed intense political differences in proposals to manage global warming. Scientists are also not unanimous in claiming to understand the complex processes driving climate change and, more important, scientific studies do not unambiguously point to a single solution. Copenhagen will indeed prove to be a historic meeting if it ushers in more open-minded debate.


Warmist bribes will cost the country dearly

It is no surprise that the government doesn't count on the altruism of the Australian voter in framing policies. Rather, it relies on providing favours to powerful constituencies to buy support. Nowhere is this clearer than in its proposed emissions trading scheme, with the government strenuously proclaiming that 70 per cent of households will be "more than compensated" for any adverse effects. Generous compensation also will be provided to business.

Far from the "hard reform" the Prime Minister keeps announcing, what is promised is therefore a painless warm glow. That promise is, of course, too good to be true. In fact, the compensation, far from offsetting the harm, will add to it. This flows from some basic properties of taxes on "bads", such as pollution.

In theory, these are the most efficient taxes, for they raise revenue not by distorting market choices but by correcting them. However, these taxes typically raise a great deal of revenue relative to the change they purport to make. This is because while the tax is collected on every unit, the overall fall in output of the bad is small. In the case of the ETS, each emission requires the purchase of a permit, but each year total emissions fall by only a few per cent. As a result, how a tax on a bad affects efficiency depends to a large extent on what is done with the revenues. When those revenues are wasted or used to distort markets, society is worse off, even if the harm done by the bad is reduced.

In the proposed ETS, there is the Swiss cheese of payments to polluters, aimed at buying the acquiescence of a business community that, for more than a century, has more than made up in rent-seeking prowess for all it lacks in insight and backbone. These payments will distort economic activity for decades to come. For example, firms that obtain free permits cannot sell them on exit from the industry. This encourages them to continue to operate even if their output could be more cheaply supplied by others.

The compensation to households is even worse. Those payments will be income-based, phasing out as income rises. This will increase marginal tax rates that are already high, with the lost compensation meaning that each additional dollar in pre-tax earning could translate into less than 60c of take-home pay. Combined with the increase in prices relative to wages caused by the ETS itself, the effect will be to reduce the incentive to work. If this departs from self-interest, it is not out of altruism but folly.

How great are the resulting costs? Unfortunately, none of the distortions arising from the compensation package are captured in the published Treasury modelling. As a result, that modelling provides little guidance as to the efficiency effects of the ETS.

This is not to suggest that a pure ETS, pristine in its underlying economic intent, is politically possible. What it does mean is that the comparison to be made is not between a textbook ETS and less perfect alternatives. Rather, it is between an ETS mired in sordid deals and other options that may be better or worse.

Were altruism to break out, goals such as reducing emissions might be achieved without give-aways and concessions. We know tragically little about how to produce some of life's most important goods, such as mutual respect, tolerance and a genuine interest in the welfare of others. Until that secret is unlocked, government interventions will be shaped by rent-seeking and will often impose costs far greater than its benefits.

Business's search for handouts has long been a primary factor in this respect. Environmental fundamentalism adds dangerous impetus to the pressures. As the ETS shows, our political system, under the guise of public beneficence, panders all too readily to these single-issue voters, while shifting costs around, including on to future generations, in ways that are as opaque and inequitable as they are inefficient.


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