Monday, December 07, 2009

A double dissolution?

A double dissolution is a unique Australian parliamentary device which enables a government repeatedly frustrated by the Senate to call an election for the whole Senate and the lower house all at the same time. In normal circumstances, only half the Senate seats are up for re-election. The Rudd government is now in a position to call a double dissolution. But will it? Kevvy himself does not seem keen and you can see why. The Senate is elected on proportional representation and with twice as many seats as usual up for grabs, the Greens would almost certainly get seats from every State, many more than they usually get in half-Senate elections. And Greens mostly take seats off Labor. So the new Senate would probably still not have a Labor party majority. And Kevvy is enough of a wonk to know that without being told. And the Greens are just as opposed to Rudd's climate scheme as the conservatives are -- though for opposite reasons. And big Senate gains would make the Greens even more ornery than they already are, so Rudd would have a very difficult Senate to deal with for at least 3 and probably 6 years. One can hear Rudd saying "Aaaargh!" to that. To date, Rudd has preferred to do deals with the conservatives rather than the very self-righteous and obstinate Greens -- JR

An old-fashioned Leftist bemoans the new moralistic (but not moral) Leftism

See here for research on how and why the Left use moral talk

IT'S popular to call Clive Hamilton, the Greens' candidate in the Higgins by-election, a left-winger. In fact, he's further to the right than the Liberal candidate. It's a sign of the decline of Left politics that a reactionary, pro-censorship sexual moraliser who hates the idea of working people enjoying a higher material standard of living could ever be considered left-wing.

Left-wing politics is based on the idea that all wealth is created by working people. However, the means to produce that wealth -- factories, call centres, bulldozers, production lines and so on -- is owned by capitalists, and so working people must work for a living. Different strands of Left thought call for different solutions, from working people having a larger share of the wealth they create, to working people revolting and taking over society and the economy and running it themselves. But all the different types of left-wing thought have one ideal in common: that working people deserve a better life, with more material wealth if they want it, and more freedom to decide how they should live.

Unfortunately that dream, and the word Left, have been captured by people such as Hamilton, who have more in common with old-style Catholic haters of the modern world than with left-wing supporters of an industrial society and all the benefits that it brings working people.

Hamilton was chosen by the Greens as their candidate in Higgins for his views on climate change and his ability to push that point of view forward in public debate. As is well known, Hamilton has said that "emergency" responses such as the suspension of democratic processes may be necessary to stave off what he sees as the threat of climate change.

This is not because, like many left-wingers, he doubts that parliament will respond to what working people actually need and want, but precisely because he does not trust ordinary working people to support the measures he deems necessary. Hamilton clearly is looking for the man on horseback who can save the environment, something that all genuine left-wingers distrust.

Hamilton is also proud of being the architect of the Rudd government's plan to censor the internet. Once again this reveals a deep distrust of ordinary people. By beating up a moral panic about pornography available on the internet, and by denying people have the ability to make their own moral judgments and decisions about what they look at, Hamilton rejects the self-responsibility that real leftists demand for themselves and others, and instead insists that the government do that job for us. This view is far to the right of even most people who vote for the Liberal Party.

He also hates the sexual freedom that was won by breaking down the old, oppressive social structures that existed before the 1960s. In his essay Rethinking Sexual Freedom he claims that the only two choices available to us are a "moral free-for-all" or the "careful exercise of restraint". Like a wowser complaining about the behaviour of others, Hamilton refuses to agree that people need to work out for themselves if they want to be restrained or not.

Hamilton's book Affluenza reveals his contempt for people who want to enjoy a higher material standard of living. We are, he says, in the "grip of a consumption binge" and our " whole society is addicted to overconsumption".

A real left-winger would celebrate the fact that people have more pleasure, more tools and more opportunities opening up to them than ever before. But Hamilton, like someone far more right-wing than a mere Liberal, hates the idea and wants us to retreat to a simpler age.

It's time that left-wingers stood up for their beliefs, rejected reactionaries like Hamilton and once again proudly said that we support industrial civilisation, the modern world, and more freedom and more material wealth for the working class. Any left-winger voting in the Higgins by-election this Saturday would do well to put Hamilton where he belongs: at the bottom of their preferences.


Abbott gamble pays off for Liberal Party

LIBERAL Party support has bounced back and Tony Abbott has cut into Kevin Rudd's lead as preferred prime minister within a week of the newly elected Leader of the Opposition spectacularly reversing the Liberals' stand on climate change and rejecting Labor's ETS. As the Liberals declared clear victories in the Melbourne and Sydney by-elections of Higgins and Bradfield, the results were mirrored in Newspoll, which showed Mr Abbott outpointing his predecessor, Malcolm Turnbull, as the preferred Liberal leader.

Mr Abbott exploited the by-election victories and continued his attack on Labor's ETS, calling for the Prime Minister to agree to a series of leadership debates on the costs of emissions trading. Mr Rudd rebuffed Mr Abbott's call and said the Opposition Leader would be better off framing his own climate change policy.

After being Liberal leader for fewer than five days, Mr Abbott was able to claim easy victories in both Liberal-held seats on primary votes on Saturday night while the Liberal Party primary vote across the nation lifted, according to Newspoll.

There were dire predictions that the Liberals could lose the seat of Higgins to the Greens -- Labor did not run a candidate in either by-election -- and that there would be a big swing in Bradfield against the Liberals because of Mr Abbott's opposition to the ETS. After counting continued yesterday, it appeared the Liberals would get a small swing towards them in both seats on a two-party-preferred basis and possibly a small swing against them on primary votes.

The Newspoll survey, conducted from Friday to Sunday, exclusively for The Australian, showed a rise of four percentage points in the Liberals' primary vote, taking the Coalition's support to 38 per cent compared with the government's unchanged 43 per cent. The government still has an overwhelming two-party-preferred vote of 56 to 44 per cent, but Mr Abbott has improved on Mr Turnbull's last position as preferred prime minister and won strong endorsement among Liberal voters.

Support for Mr Rudd as preferred prime minister fell five percentage points last weekend from 65 to 60 per cent and Mr Abbott started on 23 per cent, a rise of nine points compared with Mr Turnbull's 14 per cent the previous weekend. Mr Abbott's standing as preferred prime minister is better than all Mr Turnbull's polling against Mr Rudd since the controversy over the then Liberal leader's use of a fake email from then Treasury official Godwin Grech to attack the Prime Minister.

When Mr Turnbull was first elected, he scored 24 per cent to Mr Rudd's 54 per cent and his best position was 26 per cent to 54 per cent two weeks later in mid-October last year. Mr Abbott's start against Mr Rudd is better than all of the preferred prime minister polls for Brendan Nelson.

Although Mr Abbott has polled well behind Mr Turnbull in leadership surveys, and won the Liberal leadership last Tuesday by only one vote over Mr Turnbull, he outstripped his former leader in almost every category when voters were asked if he would make a better or worse leader than Mr Turnbull. While more people thought the two leaders would be "about the same", Mr Abbott finished ahead of Mr Turnbull 28 to 21 per cent with his biggest lead in demographic groups among women, 26 to 18 per cent, and hose aged 35-49 years, 29 to 21 per cent. But the strongest endorsement for Mr Abbott over Mr Turnbull was among Coalition supporters -- 45 per cent to 10 per cent. The only category in which Mr Turnbull was considered a better leader than Mr Abbott was among Labor supporters, where Mr Turnbull got 32 per cent and Mr Abbott 16 per cent.

Mr Abbott was campaigning yesterday in the coalmining NSW Hunter Valley, and challenged Mr Rudd to a debate on the cost of the ETS. "It will ultimately be up to Mr Rudd, I suppose, (a) to agree and (b) to suggest formats and venues, but I would be very happy to come to the Hunter Valley, Maitland, wherever, Singleton, wherever, and debate this with Mr Rudd. I will not run away from this debate," he said.

In Canberra, Mr Rudd responded to the challenge, saying Mr Abbott had no policy on climate change. "You know, here we are in Australia, one of the hottest and driest continents on Earth. Climate change is the great challenge of our generation," he said. "Despite our differences, Mr Howard had a policy on climate change, as did Mr Turnbull. It was called an emissions trading scheme. I have a policy on climate change. It's called an emissions trading scheme. "Mr Abbott, the current leader of the Liberal Party, does not have any policy on climate change. I'd suggest the current Leader of the Opposition calms down, puts in the hard yards and actually develops a policy on climate change."

Greens leader Bob Brown called to be involved in any debate after the Greens' strong showing in the by-elections, which Labor did not contest. After yesterday's count in Higgins, on a two-party preferred basis, Kelly O'Dwyer, former Treasurer Peter Costello's former chief of staff, increased the Liberal margin from 2007 by 1.6 per cent.

"The public think something is happening to our climate, and they think the government should be doing something about it -- and that's right, we should -- but they are very concerned about this tax," Mr Abbott told the Nine Network.


Climate backlash hits a government in denial

When Julia Gillard faced the media outside Federal Parliament in Canberra on Wednesday she looked shell-shocked. She then proceeded to give the most jittery, hollow, nonsensical performance of her career. It was pantomime of the lowest order. "Today the climate change extremists and deniers in the Liberal Party have stopped this nation from taking decisive action on climate change," the Deputy Prime Minister said, deadpan, into a thicket of cameras and recorders.

Extremists and deniers. In case anyone had missed the point, she repeated the phrase five times. "Now [we] have been stopped by the Liberal Party extremists and the climate change deniers. This nation has been stopped from taking a major step in the nation's interests by Liberal Party extremists and climate change deniers." This is clearly going to be the mantra the Rudd Government uses to describe anyone who opposes its pointless legislation on an emissions trading scheme.

Gillard used the terms "denier" or "denial" 11 times, pointed words because they carry the connotation of Holocaust denial. The last time that tactic was used in the national debate, after the release of the Bringing Them Home report, it exploded on those who used it.

So this is going to get interesting because the political ground has shifted in the past six months. It is now the Rudd Government that appears to be in a state of denial. And not just the Rudd Government. The election analyst Malcolm Mackerras told The Australian on Friday: "I think there will be a big swing against the Liberal Party in both Bradfield and Higgins [byelections on Saturday]. The effect of that swing will be that the Greens will take Higgins from the Liberals … Higgins and Bradfield would be the electorates in which people most strongly feel resentment at climate change denialists. That is why electing Abbott was a complete disaster. They will get a terrible shock on Saturday night, they really will."

In contrast to this nonsense, Australia's top election expert, Antony Green, predicted on his ABC blog that the Liberals should win both races comfortably. After the results were in, Green found no discernible swing to the Greens. So who is in denial now? Tony Abbott's political manifesto, Battlelines, published on July 28, confronted the subject of climate change. He quoted and supported the Swedish climate dissident, Bjorn Lomborg: "Natural science has undeniably shown us that global warming is man-made and real. "But just as undeniable is the economic science, which makes it clear that a narrow focus on reducing carbon emissions could leave future generations lumbered with major costs, without major cuts in temperatures."

Abbott reiterated this position at his first press conference as leader on Wednesday: "I think that climate change is real and that man does make a contribution … [But] the last thing we should be doing is rushing through a great big new tax just so that Kevin Rudd can take a trophy to Copenhagen."

Abbott is thus neither an extremist nor a denier on climate change. He is a sceptic about emissions trading schemes. It is a defining difference, because there is much to be sceptical about. The Greens, in voting down the legislation, said they would rather have no scheme than this scheme. At the other end of the analysis spectrum, the noted business commentator Robert Gottliebsen wrote: "Finally the full horror of Kevin Rudd's carbon trading legislation for business is starting to dawn on some Liberal Party politicians."

The public mood has also shifted. There is now majority support for waiting until after the Copenhagen climate summit this month and the setting up of a global template for action.

The upswelling of grassroots opposition to the Rudd's ETS was impressive in both its scale and vehemence. Here, too, there has been a great deal of denial. When I wrote last week that more than 400,000 emails had been sent to Coalition members urging them to vote down the ETS, some people commented that this was a bogus number and a bogus campaign, driven by the technology of mass emailing. This, too, is wishful thinking. As the Liberal senator Cory Bernardi explained: "These are not spam emails. They are not like the junk mail campaigns that the Greens run and Get Up! run. These are real people writing about their personal situations." Coalition members have been logging the email traffic because it is a precious electoral resource, and most of the emails are individually written, not group mail. I've looked at hundreds of them. "I've never seen any like it," Bernardi said. "My office has received more than 10,000 emails. When I put an online petition against the ETS on my website last month I got 4818 responses in about 60 hours. Most of my colleagues have seen traffic like this."

The point Gillard missed in her "extremists and deniers" pantomime was that her government had failed dismally to explain its legislation to the public. People crave authenticity in their elected representatives, not spin. Thus the unlikely hero to emerge from the Liberal carnage last week was Ian Macfarlane, the man with a gravel pit for a larynx. People love authenticity and loyalty and Macfarlane has these qualities in spades. He should be promoted when Abbott remakes his shadow ministry.


Turnbull shows his colours

Just another Left-leaning elitist. Probably bitter that he chose the wrong party to further his ambitions. He has in effect joined the Labor party now. Americans would call him a RINO. Australians will say that he never was a fair dinkum conservative. He's not fair dinkum in general as far as I can see: Just a poser and an ego

MALCOLM Turnbull has today described new Liberal leader Tony Abbott's views on climate change as "bulls**t" and vowed to cross the floor and vote with Labor when the legislation is brought back to Parliament next year. The former Liberal leader this morning posted a blog via the website Twitter where he pledged to tell a few “home truths about the farce that the Coalition's policy, of lack of policy, on climate change has descended into”.

His intervention follows reports today that the opposition treasury spokesman Joe Hockey attacked Mr Abbott's plans for a climate change switch at a shadow cabinet meeting two weeks ago, warning it would cost over $50 billion.

Mr Turnbull said today that while a shadow minister Mr Abbott was never afraid of speaking bluntly in a manner that was at odds with Coalition policy. “So as I am a humble backbencher I am sure he won't complain if I tell a few home truths about the farce that the Coalition's policy, of lack of policy, on climate change has descended into,” he said. “First, let's get this straight. You cannot cut emissions without a cost. To replace dirty coal fired power stations with cleaner gas fired ones, or renewables like wind let alone nuclear power or even coal fired power with carbon capture and storage is all going to cost money. “To get farmers to change the way they manage their land, or plant trees and vegetation all costs money. “Somebody has to pay. “So any suggestion that you can dramatically cut emissions without any cost is, to use a favourite term of Mr Abbott, `bullshit'. Moreover he knows it.”

Mr Turnbull said the whole argument for an emissions trading scheme as opposed to cutting emissions via a carbon tax or simply by regulation is that it was cheaper. “In other words electricity prices will rise by less to achieve the same level of emission reduction,” he said. “It is not possible to criticise the new Coalition policy on climate change because it does not exist. Mr Abbott apparently knows what he is against, but not what he is for.”

Mr Turnbull goes on to observe that, “the fact is that Tony and the people who put him in his job do not want to do anything about climate change”. “They do not believe in human caused global warming. As Tony observed on one occasion “climate change is crap” or if you consider his mentor, Senator Minchin, the world is not warming, it's cooling and the climate change issue is part of a vast left wing conspiracy to deindustrialise the world,” he said. “Now politics is about conviction and a commitment to carry out those convictions. The Liberal Party is currently led by people whose conviction on climate change is that it is “crap” and you don't need to do anything about it.

“Any policy that is announced will simply be a con, an environmental figleaf to cover a determination to do nothing. After all, as Nick Minchin observed, in his view the majority of the Party Room do not believe in human caused global warming at all. I disagree with that assessment, but many people in the community will be excused for thinking the leadership ballot proved him right.”

Mr Turnbull said voters should remember that Nick Minchin's defence of the Howard Government's ETS was that the Government was panicked by the polls and therefore didn't really mean it. “Tony himself has in just four or five months publicly advocated the blocking of the ETS, the passing of the ETS, the amending of the ETS and if the amendments were satisfactory passing it, and now the blocking of it,” Mr Turnbull said. “His only redeeming virtue in this remarkable lack of conviction is that every time he announced a new position to me he would preface it with “Mate, mate, I know I am a bit of a weather vane on this, but ...”

The former Liberal leader said “we have an Opposition Leader who has in the space of a few months held every possible position on the issue, each one contradicting the position he expressed earlier”. “Many Liberals are rightly dismayed that on this vital issue of climate change we are not simply without a policy, without any prospect of having a credible policy but we are now without integrity. We have given our opponents the irrefutable, undeniable evidence that we cannot be trusted,” he said. “Not that anyone would doubt it, but I will be voting for the ETS legislation when it returns in February and if my colleagues have any sense they will do so as well.”


1 comment:

rloader said...

I read with disgust but no surprise Malcolm Turnbull's attack on his leader Tony Abbott and his own Political party today and say he should go and join PM Rudd and his Labor Party. I say this to Mr Turnbull as follows;

In my opinion, The Emissions Trading Scheme is a massive tax which will have no
significant effect in reducing Australia’s Carbon Emissions while at the same time it will result in economic devastation for all hard working Australians.

Our mostly left wing media has not told the electorate the truth about this Treaty which stipulated that approx $7billion dollars of our hard earned taxpayers money was to be given to the UN to ALONE decide who the beneficiaries will be - China, Brazil and Zimbadwe come to mind) Also really heavy penalties if, in the eyes of the UN, Australia exceeds its puny emissions total. No wonder PM Rudd will not debate it.

What about our own Hospitals, Police Depts, roads, ports, railways? I would rather see $7billion put into our own country. What sane businessman would give away all his profits to a "basket case" country and go bankrupt. PM Rudd is telling us they want to do that and saying "we should do this for the sake of our children and grandchildren". What help would it be to them?

The dishonest data re global warming was recently exposed when some 3,000
e-mails were released onto the Internet, showing where scientists at the East Anglier Institute had manipulated the science to support the as yet unproved theory that humans are causing the global warming.

This manipulation of the data is not being investigated or published by the mainstream media - the ABCTV, SBS ,MSN but now everyone on the net, millions of them all over the world, know all about it. but apparently not Mr. Turnbull.

We, the public, demand to know just what this massive tax is all about and why we should allow ourselves to be bullied and hoodwinked into it by either Malcolm Turnbull or the Labor Party.