Thursday, August 19, 2010


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG doesn't think much of Tony Abbott's plan for getting young people off the dole. Zeg sees it as a "carrot" that will be ineffective and thinks the stick is needed


Four current articles below:

Australia's Green party is far-Leftist

The big parties' panicked abandonment of climate change has effortlessly transformed the Greens. They are now two days from winning more power than they've ever dreamed of.

The Greens are almost certain to win the balance of power in the Senate for the first time. This will make them the arbiter of any legislative disagreement between Labor and Liberal and put them in a prize negotiating position.

And the betting markets make the Greens favourite to win their first seat in the House of Representatives on Saturday, giving them power to propose laws.

This is the Greens' big chance to go from fringe to mainstream. So what is Brown's vision? The Greens have policies on a great deal more than climate change.

Their tax policy, for instance, prefers less tax from the GST and more from income taxes. Specifically, it commits the party to raising the top income tax rate from 45 per cent to 50 per cent. And it demands company tax rise from 30 per cent to 33 per cent.

Would Brown actively pursue these proposals, or are they dead letters, like Labor's long-ignored platform to socialise industry?

Brown not only vigorously advanced the case for "a much more equitable tax system" yesterday, he also pledged a cap on executive salaries of $5 million. And he promised to force a future Labor government to extract an extra $2 billion in mining taxes to pay for education.

The Greens, in other words, are unabashedly advocating a greater redistribution of income. As opposition parties sniff power, they usually soften radical policies and become more centrist. Not the Greens.

Brown said he would "look at the imbalance in our trade agreements". He attacked the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement and signalled hostility to the agreements Australia is negotiating with Japan and China.

The Greens support Labor's broadband network, but want to go further. Where Labor will build the network, then privatise it within five years, the Greens will seek to keep it in state ownership permanently.

Taken together, the Greens are bringing alive the old Labor commitment to redistributive socialism. And yesterday Brown said it was actually redistribution of wealth - not climate science - that was the reason he helped block the Rudd government's emissions trading scheme.

He helped defeat Australia's only realistic attempt at an ETS, he said, because Rudd's proposed compensation for carbon emitters, "the biggest polluters," was too much.

The Greens are often accused of being a watermelon party - green on the outside but a socialist red in the middle. Not true. The party's leader showed yesterday that it's actually more like a tomato, red not just on the outside but all the way to the centre.


Felled by an invidious green plot

"The conscience-less dishonesty of the green movement"

This is the chilling story of how green activists targeted and finally brought down John Gay, the visionary former chairman of the Tasmanian timber company Gunns, damaged the company and helped wreck the state economy.

It contains a clear warning for the rest of Australia of what lies in wait as emboldened environmental activists move on to new bogus campaigns against their next targets: the "wild rivers" of Cape York at the expense of indigenous enterprise, the fishing industry, farming or, catastrophically, the coal industry.

In Gay's downfall is everything you need to know about the conscience-less dishonesty of the green movement, and how its war on progress is camouflaged as concern for nature.

"I'm not bitter with the company," says Gay, who resigned in May. "I had to leave Gunns because the institutional investors were targeted by the greens and kept pressuring me to resign, and I just wasn't prepared to put my wife and two kids through any more [of the] thuggery in the green movement. They've damaged Tasmania and did their best to damage my credibility."

The third-generation Tasmanian sawmiller left school at 15 to work with his father, before building his own sawmill and being headhunted at 28 by Gunns, a family-owned timber milling and hardware store business in Launceston then turning over about $10 million a year. He became the managing director, transforming Gunns into a top 50 company with a market capitalisation of $900 million by 2003, when it was one of the best-performing companies on the stock exchange.

Gay bought the company back from the multinational Rio Tinto, becoming a hero of the working people of Tasmania.

But the international green movement and the Australian Wilderness Society fought a relentless campaign to bring the company to its knees and destroy Gay. They let loose violent feral protesters who chained themselves to trees and sabotaged logging equipment; protesters with placards picketed the ANZ Bank, which had undertaken to finance Gay's proposal for a pulp mill in the Tamar Valley, but pulled out at the last minute.

And they had environmentalists in suits successfully traduce Gay to cowardly institutional investors who earlier this year dumped Gunn's shares, halving the value of the company in a week.

Greenies in suits also went to Japan, destroying Gunn's markets for its woodchips, threatening - in an oh-so-reasonable way - companies which used pulp sourced from Tasmania's forests to make paper. Afraid their brands would be trashed, Gunns' Japanese customers dropped Tasmania like a hot potato.

Then there was the personal vilification. Gay describes it as "torture" for his wife, Erica, and adult son and daughter, with his home under assault two or three nights a week for years - from smoke bombs under the house, stink bombs at the front door, dead possums in the yard, people rattling the gates late at night and screaming abuse from the street. His wife was spat at in the supermarket and the Tasmanian media sat on the fence as a good man's reputation was destroyed. "My wife and kids were tormented … I had to put in a security system so my wife could feel safe," he says.

Today Gay will say nothing bad about Gunns. But he must view with dismay what has happened since he left, with its wineries and hardware stores sold off at rock-bottom prices, and its capitulation to the green movement.

Like any quasi-religious force, the environmentalists needed an arcadia to save and a demon to fight. The cute island state and the "rapacious logger" fitted the bill. Gay was a godsend to them. An unreconstructed working man, who never completed high school and believed in honest work and fair play, he saw the world as rational and straightforward, rather than an insane place of spin, mirage and hidden agendas.

His friend of 45 years, and a former director of Gunns and former Liberal premier of Tasmania, Robin Gray, says: "John is a very, very decent bloke, very generous, but he's been painted as a dreadful uncaring person. "People who should know better were influenced … by green activists … who went to the chief executive of the ANZ Bank, which had given commitments to fund the pulp mill … The movement against him finally cost him his job."

The former premier Paul Lennon says the Tasmanian economy is "under extreme stress, the timber industry is on its knees". "Unemployment in Tasmania is 6.3 per cent. When I was in politics two years ago, it was 4 per cent. And we were one of the fastest-growing places in the country, but Tasmania is small and vulnerable to big shocks. We need projects like the pulp mill to underpin the economy."

Lennon blames the then environment minister, Malcolm Turnbull, for "sitting on his hands" over approval for the pulp mill before the 2007 election, under the onslaught of a campaign in his eastern suburbs Sydney seat of Wentworth by the businessman Geoffrey Cousins, who appeared out of nowhere to wage a virulent campaign against the mill. The delay, Lennon says, stopped the pulp mill in its tracks. Gunns is now in closed-door negotiations with the Wilderness Society over whether it will be allowed to continue with the mill.

"Who is actually going to believe that environmental management is going to be better in Indonesia or Malaysia," Lennon says. The campaign "exposes the real agenda of Greens". "The Greens believe in shrinking the economy. We've found in Tasmania [that] they always find a way to oppose projects - they always try to slow down growth."

One Tasmanian political insider says Gay's failure was that he was "out of touch with the way to operate a modern business". "He's a lovely bloke but he didn't have the skills or the layers of bureaucracy, or the PR people you need to manage the campaign for the pulp mill.

"He just thought a pulp mill was a good idea for Tasmania. It would create jobs, and he was going to build the best, most environmentally friendly one in the world. He couldn't understand why people were putting obstacles in his path."

Gay thought truth would win out. Now he lies in bed at night and worries about the logging contractors he couldn't save, who borrowed money to buy equipment and have lost their livelihood.

Gay refused to kowtow to irrational green bullying, and his demise stands as an object lesson.

What the green movement has done to Tasmania's timber industry, it will do to the rest of the country. Those purported 13 per cent of people planning to vote for the Greens on Saturday had better understand exactly what they are voting for. It's not about saving trees. It's about "moving backwards" to the dark ages.


Push to silence the Cardinal Archbishop of Sydney after his criticism of Greenies

If a leading churchman cannot offer an interpretation of his own church's doctrine, we are back in Tudor times

The recent stoush [metaphorical punchup] between Cardinal George Pell and the Australian Greens prompts the question “Where is the Australian Tax Office when you need them?” According to Derek Mortimer, principal of DF Mortimer & Associates, a boutique law firm working exclusively for Not for Profit organisations, if the ATO cannot effectively monitor and regulate charities, it fails them.

Currently the ATO serves as a de facto regulator of charities. Through its tax ruling system, churches and other charities are prohibited by the ATO from engaging in party political activities like encouraging the public to vote against a particular party. There is a good reason for this prohibition. Charities need to keep their independence. The values and policies of political parties and charities can align sometimes, but not always.

Charities that take political sides can find their values compromised. In my opinion, this has happened to Cardinal Pell and the church he represents. In apparent defiance of the ATO’s own tax rulings Cardinal Pell is reported as saying the Greens are “anti-Christian”. But as the Greens have pointed out, at least some of their values and policies align squarely with Christians.

There appears to be no immediate, public effort by the ATO to restrain Cardinal Pell from making party political statements. Perhaps it is unreasonable to expect the ATO to do so. Yet the ATO has been travelling through the court system against a self described “activist” organisation called “Aid/Watch Incorporated”. The ATO says this organisation has a political purpose and cannot be charitable. The High Court heard the case in June and judgment will be handed down later this year. The independence of the ATO becomes compromised where it acts against one charitable organisation but does not appear to act against another.

Nor does the ATO have a formal complaints process for the public to complain about a charity’s apparent breach of tax rulings.

In Britain a member of the public can lodge a complaint about a charity engaging in party political activities with the independent charity regulator, the Charity Commission. The Commission may send the charity a warning letter (in the nature of a gentle reminder of obligations) and can also commence a more formal regulatory case report and in worse cases, revoke charity registration and consequent fiscal privileges . The Commission has been publicly active in the lead up to the recent British general elections, to investigate and rule on complaints about charities engaging in party political activities.

In January this year the Productivity Commission restated what the Australian charity sector has for many years been calling for; some form of charity regulator independent from the ATO. The ATO provides many useful services to charities, but if the ATO cannot effectively monitor and regulate charities, it fails them.


Despite the Greenies, large houses make sense

If the Greenies dropped their objection to "sprawl", their insistence on "dumb growth" and their opposition to land use changes, it might be different

ONE of the current social themes is that the consumer is to blame for wanting a big home. The new social order - excuse me if I get on my hobby horse for a second or two - wants us to buy something smaller and magically make our housing problems disappear.

Sadly, too few of those who clog up the blogosphere with urban commentary understand the economics of new housing or the decision-making process of a rational buyer.

Recent statistics published by CommSec show that Australia has the largest homes in the world, with the average floor area of a new dwelling (including townhouses but excluding apartments) topping 214sq m, up from 150sq m just 25 years ago.

The average floor area of new free-standing houses also set a record at 245sq m. Our homes are much larger than those in Europe and even many American cities.

Why has this occurred? It is simply economics. The actual land component of a new house-and-land package is very high and fixed. The land usually costs two-thirds of the total purchase price. This is particularly the case for basic or entry level new housing.

For example, the land component of a basic $375,000 house-and-land package in Queensland could cost as much as $250,000. In contrast, a 150sq m three-bedroom base level house on that land would cost about $135,000 or about $2500/sq m as a total price (including the price of the land).

Now a larger 250sq m four-bedroom house with a study might cost $175,000, making the total package cost $425,000. The buyer gets 100sq m of extra house for just $50,000 more. The total end price per square metre has now dropped to $1700, or 30 per cent less.

Here is the real rub. Assuming that the buyer can afford to pay the extra deposit and fund a $425,000 house-and-land package, all it costs - assuming a 10 per cent deposit and using today's rates - is an extra $10 a day in mortgage payments.

The new home buyer can now own a home that is two-thirds larger for just $70 a week. To upsize the house, as outlined in the example above, would cost the buyer an extra $3640 a year.

Given the high cost of land in and around our capital cities, the trend towards larger new homes makes economic sense. Consumers are just acting in their own interests and are making rational decisions to choose a larger and more valuable home for what is a small additional out-of-pocket expense.

Unless there are real economies in the land content, for example a plentiful supply of subdivided land to keep land prices keen, building a small house on a more traditional-sized suburban block of land is often not the best value for money.


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