Thursday, January 14, 2010


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG thinks that hunger striker Peter Spencer has achieved a lot.

Another government attack on farmers -- This time in Tasmania

Farmers in Tasmania say the State Government's revised private land clearing rules are at odds with its dream for the state to become the nation's "food bowl". The changes are part of the government's plans to phase out broad-scale clearing and conversion of private land by 2015. Over the next five years, new land clearing applications will be limited to 40 hectares per year and after that 20 hectares in any five-year period.

Chris Oldfield from the Farmers and Graziers Association says the government has changed the rules midway through the game. "It changes the plans of a lot of farmers who were willing to invest in really going along with the State Government's idea of creating a food bowl.

The Opposition says the government did not consult farmers.

In its statement announcing the revised policy, the Resources Minister, David Llewellyn, said the changes would provide landowners with certainty. He said farmers would still be allowed to clear land for essential infrastructure and routine agricultural activities.


Child safety trumps political correctness -- for once

THE Family Court has given a white grandmother custody of her two Aboriginal grandchildren. The court ruled a safe, stable upbringing in her home is more important than their immersion in the hunter-gatherer culture of their people, The Australian reports.

The grandmother, 60, has been fighting for full-time care of the children since 2008, saying they had been exposed to alcohol-fuelled violence in every home they lived in before coming to her.

The mother's legal team, from the Northern Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency, argued that the children must be raised in the tradition of Tiwi Islanders: gathering bush tucker, doing craftwork, speaking the Tiwi language and attending ceremonies. They pressed the importance of extended family in Tiwi culture: the children's mother is one of 11 children who were raised mostly in "bush settings", and their grandmother on their mother's side is a Tiwi elder.

The court heard the mother started a relationship with a white man in 1999. It was short and violent, and "NT police intervened on many occasions". The children's grandmother, who is part-Italian and part-Croatian, told the court their mother "abandoned" them to her care in 2006, only to take the children back again in 2007.

At a Full Court hearing in December, the mother's legal team argued that the children must live the Tiwi culture or they would gain only a "shallow or second-hand appreciation" of it. They said the children could not enjoy their Aboriginality "if they live predominantly with a person who does not viscerally understand them". The court agreed the white grandmother "does not understand what it is to be Aboriginal" and "can never know what it is to be an indigenous person".


Cabinet border security committee meets as more boatpeople arrive

Amid a continuing and uninterrupted flow of illegals -- a flow which the conservative Howard government had completely stopped

THE border security committee of cabinet met today in Canberra amid a deepening row over Kevin Rudd's decision to allow four asylum-seekers who ASIO deemed a security threat to be flown to Christmas Island. The meeting followed the interception of another boatload of arrivals near Christmas Island carrying 42 suspected asylum-seekers, the fifth boat for the year.

National Security Adviser Duncan Lewis attended the meeting in the Prime Minister's office as the government confirmed another boatload of asylum-seekers had been detected near Christmas Island.

Immigration Minister Chris Evans confirmed the meeting but would not discuss the agenda, arguing it was a routine meeting. “We are just managing what is hopefully a temporary peak in arrivals,” Senator Evans said.

He also conceded that Australia may have to activate a contingency plan to transport asylum-seekers from the offshore detention centre on Christmas Island to the mainland. There were 1724 people at Christmas Island - its capacity is 1820 detainees - with another 42 to arrive for processing. However, the immigration department said some people had been granted visas and would soon be transferred to the mainland. “We've still got some capacity at Christmas Island. I've always made clear we've got a detention centre at Darwin with a capacity for 500 that's purpose built,” Senator Evans told Perth Radio 6PR. “If we need to we will use that for the final stages for processing. But people will be taken to Christmas Island and they will be treated as offshore entry arrivals and all the legal structures that go around that.”

The cabinet committee was established last year to tackle the recent surge in asylum-seekers arriving by boat and has a $2.8 million budget to source advice and support for the committee to respond to “the resurgent maritime people smuggling threat”. Chaired by Senator Evans, it includes Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith, Defence Minister John Faulkner, Attorney-General Robert McClelland and Mr Lewis. The Prime Minister, who remains on holidays in Tasmania, did not attend the meeting.

Earlier, the opposition accused the Rudd government of committing a “grievous security breach” by sending four asylum-seekers deemed a threat by ASIO to Christmas Island.

Yesterday Senator Evans confirmed the decision to transfer the Tamils by charter plane to honour an agreement with Indonesia to end the Oceanic Viking standoff.

Opposition customs spokesman Michael Keenan said today it was difficult to understand “why the reaction of the Labor Government to the news that these four pose a security risk was to charter a plane to go and collect them from Indonesia and bring them to Australia”. “Now why any Australian Government would commit such a grievous security breach is very difficult to know,” Mr Keenan told ABC Radio. “It's really an extraordinary set of circumstances and it's the final calamity that's been associated with Labor's failed border protection policies.”

The Rudd government confirmed this morning that HMAS Bathurst, operating under the control of Border Protection Command, intercepted another vessel at 2.24am (AEDT) about five nautical miles north of Christmas Island. In a statement today the government said there were 42 people on board. It's the fifth vessel to be detected this year, pushing the detention centre to the brink of capacity.


The Climate is Changing

Comment on Australia from the Wall Street Journal: "The rise of Tony Abbott is part of a worldwide reconsideration of the costs of cap-and-trade"

When I say the climate is changing, I do not mean, as many people do, that man-made global warming is destroying Planet Earth. I mean that the politics of climate change is changing rapidly all over the globe. Al Gore's moment has come and gone.

In the United States, Democrats, nervously facing midterm elections, are calling on President Obama to jettison the cap-and-trade bills before the Senate. In Canada, the emissions-trading scheme—another term for cap-and-trade—is stalled in legislative limbo. In Britain, Tories are coming out against David Cameron's green stance. In the European Union, cap-and-trade has been the victim of fraudulent traders and the carbon price has more than halved to $18.50 per ton. In France, the Constitutional Council has blocked President Nicolas Sarkozy's tax on carbon emissions that was set to take effect in the New Year.

In Copenhagen, meanwhile, the United Nations' climate-change summit went up in smoke. And in Mexico City later this year hopes for any verifiable, enforceable and legally binding agreement to reduce greenhouse gases—and to bring in developing nations such as China and India that were, insanely, omitted from the Kyoto protocol in 1997—are a chimera.

Add to this that Washington was buried by record-breaking snowfalls last month, that hurricane activity is at a 30-year low in the U.S., that London is bracing itself for its coldest winter in decades, and that there has still been no recorded global warming this century, and it is no wonder public skepticism is rising across the world.

Nowhere is the changing climate more evident than in Australia. Last month, the Senate voted down the Labor Government's legislation to implement an emissions-trading scheme. Polls show most Aussies oppose the complicated cap-and-trade system if China and India continue to chug along the smoky path to prosperity. The center-right Liberal-led opposition, moreover, is now led by Tony Abbott, a culture warrior who has described man-made global warming in language unfit to print in a family newspaper and cap-and-trade as "a great big tax to create a great big slush fund to provide politicized handouts, run by a giant bureaucracy."

Until Mr. Abbott's election as opposition leader last month, the climate debate in Australia had been conducted in a heretic-hunting, anti-intellectual atmosphere. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd claimed that climate change is the "greatest moral, economic and social challenge of our time." In clear breach of the great liberal anti-communist Sidney Hook's rule of controversy—"Before impugning an opponent's motives, answer his arguments"—Mr. Rudd linked "world government conspiracy theorists" and "climate-change deniers" to "vested interests." Much of the media, business and scientific establishment deemed it blasphemy that anyone dare question his Labor Party's grand ambitions.

Australians had heard a lot of science, much of it poorly explained. But the "dismal science" had been conspicuously absent from the climate debate. There was very little serious analysis of the economic consequences of climate change: What choices did we have to mitigate its effects, and how much would these choices cost us? Labor ministers had emitted a lot of hot air about global warming and the urgency with which resource-rich Australia (which accounts for only 1.4% of global emissions) must act.

All of this has now utterly changed: Australia's debate has entered a new phase, one that goes beyond the religious fervor and feel-good gestures that had held sway all too often. Suddenly, political strategists are thinking the unthinkable: far from presaging an electoral debacle that was inevitable under Mr. Abbott's green predecessor Malcolm Turnbull, the issue could be a godsend for conservatives Down Under.

Already, Mr. Abbott—an Anglophile, Rhodes scholar, patron saint of Australian conservatives and protégé of former Prime Minister John Howard—is gaining ground in the polls. In their first test at the ballot box since they killed the government's climate legislation last month, his Liberal Party recorded impressive victories in by-elections in Sydney and Melbourne—confounding the conventional wisdom that opposition to cap-and-trade will damage a center-right party in metropolitan seats.

In this environment, Mr. Abbott deserves praise for persuading Australia's conservatives to fight Labor on climate change—even when the liberal wing of his own party would happily bow to Mr. Rudd. Not only will he raise the temperature over the inevitable higher costs in energy, transport and groceries under the next tax—and thus appeal to Labor's working-class and coal mining and other energy-intensive constituencies—Mr. Abbott will also radiate the technological optimism that has characterized the human species since time immemorial. His case is not an appeal to do nothing, but to avoid doing something stupid. And unilateral Australian action in a post-Copenhagen world would be stupid: Economic Pain For No Environmental Gain. Not a bad slogan during an election scare campaign.

To be sure, Mr. Rudd remains politically popular on the back of a strong local economy that has weathered the global financial storm. But as the changing climate shows, Mr. Abbott is tapping into a more skeptical mood about climate change. If he wins the federal election later this year, Australia's opposition leader will be a role model to conservative skeptics around the world.


1 comment:

Paul said...

I don't know what it's like to be Aboriginal, but from what I've observed living here much of it involves stealing from unlocked cars.