Friday, November 19, 2010

Private property will save Aboriginal culture, not destroy it

By Helen Hughes, Mark Hughes and Sara Hudson

Australians are fed up. Despite expenditure of vast taxpayer funds – some $5 billion annually on top of normal education and health, etc – Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders in remote Australia continue to live without jobs, on welfare, and in appalling public housing. Alcoholism, poor health, and violence are the consequence.

Private Housing on Indigenous Lands, released this week by The Centre for Independent Studies, cuts through to the causes of Indigenous dysfunction – the denial of individual property rights (private home and business ownership) – on Indigenous lands. Private Housing proposes that individual landowners be identified so they can receive the benefits of their land rights rather than allow these to be wasted by land councils and other communal organisations. A kick start to private property rights is proposed by giving long-term public housing tenants the choice of taking ownership – at no cost – of their dwellings, which are often mere shacks.

In mainstream Australia, private and communal property rights are complementary. Australians can get a job, own a house, and start a business side by side with sharing communal property such as schools, hospitals, roads and parks. This two sector economy is denied to Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders on Indigenous lands. By only enabling communal ownership, a communist system has been imposed on these lands.

The benefits are appropriated by a small elite – the nomenklatura – who live in nice houses, while the regime fails to deliver decent housing to everyone else. Indigenous townships are like Omsk without the snow. Most are lucky to have a single shoddy communally owned supermarket, and there are no thriving coffee shops and other businesses of country towns. Criticism of communal landownership is attacked as being ideologically unsound, not on the basis of factual evidence.

The fact is that private property rights are essential to Indigenous economic development. Without private property rights, family and social dysfunction will continue. Indigenous languages are dying out and culture is under threat. Economic prosperity will encourage a revival of Indigenous languages, literature, art, music and dance. Pride will replace despair.

The above is a press release from the Centre for Independent Studies, dated 19 Dec. Enquiries to Snail mail: PO Box 92, St Leonards, NSW, Australia 1590.

Union boss warns Labor faces electoral defeat if it bows to the Greens' agenda

A powerful right-wing union boss has warned that Labor faces "electoral suicide" unless it avoids the Greens' "excessive" influence over the government's agenda. Joe de Bruyn, national secretary of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees' Association, complains that Labor is being dragged to the left.

He has attacked Julia Gillard for allowing Labor MPs to vote for a Greens motion that called on parliamentarians to talk to their constituents about gay marriage.

Mr de Bruyn told The Australian Online that if Labor allowed itself to become “distracted” by Greens issues such as gay marriage it would “lose the next election”. A change in the party platform to accommodate gay marriage would also be an act of “electoral suicide”, said Mr de Bruyn.

He suggested the Prime Minister should focus more on “bread and butter issues” including interest rates, education, health and the National Broadband Network. “The more that Labor gets sucked into the marginal issues the Greens are putting up, the more people see that the Greens are dominating the agenda,” he told The Australian Online.

“The perception of the ordinary person looking at the parliament from the outside must be that the Greens are having an excessive influence over the government's agenda. “The bread and butter issues are not penetrating through to the ordinary person.”

Mr de Bruyn also denied cracks were appearing in the Labor right after powerbroker Mark Arbib came out in support of a conscience vote on the gay marriage issue. “Mark Arbib isolated himself in a most serious way in the right in coming out the way in which he did. He has virtually no support in the right whatsoever for the view he expressed,” he said.

Mr de Bruyn said he thought it was unlikely Labor's party platform would change at the next national conference to accept gay marriage. “Unless the Labor party wants to commit electoral suicide I think the wiser heads will prevail. “By changing the policy all that will happen is that Labor will lose votes.”

Mr de Bruyn said that by embracing gay marriage Labor would surrender the “centre ground” to the Coalition and warned it would be impossible to win an election from that position. “In the extent that Labor panders to the Greens on the gay issue they might at the margin pick up some votes on the left but they will lose the whole of the centre ground,” he said. Labor actually stood to lose votes by embracing gay marriage, he warned.

Mr de Bruyn said Labor should have voted down the Greens motion calling for parliamentarians to sound out their constituents on gay marriage. By passing it, the resolution would keep the issue “indefinitely alive into the future”.

He stressed, however, that “there is absolutely no suggestion” that by holding the party line Julia Gillard was endangering her leadership.

Mr de Bruyn also told ABC radio he was “not threatening” the Prime Minister - who was installed with the help of the parliamentary wing of the SDA - but “offering some guidance”. The SDA is one of the most powerful unions in the country, and has significant representation within Labor ranks, including cabinet minister Tony Burke and MPs Jacinta Collins and Mark Bishop.

The vote on the Greens' gay marriage motion came after several Labor MPs spoke in favour of the party shifting its position on gay marriage, including Mr Arbib and Australian Workers Union boss Paul Howes.

Mr de Bruyn's decision to speak could be seen as a response to Mr Howes' recent decision to speak in favour of gay marriage. Both men run right-wing unions.

Mr Howes today supported Mr de Bruyn's right to speak out over the issue but distanced himself from the union boss's position. “As I've been saying, I think it's important the ALP discuss and debates these ideas openly and it's good that Joe is expressing his views,” Mr Howes said. But he added: “This is Joe's view, I don't think it's a surprise to anyone and he is appropriately communicating it.

“This is what I want in Labor, I don't agree with Joe, but he has the right to say it and he should. I respect his views. It's important for people in the party to be able to articulate their views on issues.”

In his recently-released book, Confessions of a Faceless Man, Mr Howes described Labor's opposition to gay marriage as “indefensible”.

Federal government frontbencher Nicola Roxon denied Labor was pandering to the Greens on same-sex marriage. “I'm not worried about that,” she told ABC Radio, noting that the makeup of the new parliament allowed MPs to raise issues of interest to them.

The ALP national conference is the avenue the party would use to discuss policy change, she said. “And that's the way we'll proceed but we're not going to try to stop people debating in a parliament an issue they've raised.”

Former federal Labor minister Graham Richardson said Ms Gillard needed to do more to attack the Greens’ policies. “Her vote is eroding on the left all the time,” he said. “If she doesn't come out and do something about it, something big, then I think she's really going to struggle.”

Mr Richardson said the gay marriage debate wouldn't go away, especially as it had the support of some conservative MPs. “There's not much of a way to attack this from the right,” he told Sky News, noting Mr Arbib, a right-wing factional powerbroker, was personally in favour of same-sex marriage.

Mr Richardson believes the number of Labor MPs in favour of gay marriage is growing and the policy will likely get over the line with the backing of Ms Gillard. “And I have no doubt that privately she (Julia Gillard) would support it.”

It is an important issue because it affects “several million” voters, he said. “There are a lot of gays in the world.” [Yeah! between 1% and 2% of the population!]


Major Queensland hospitals turn away patients as bed shortage hits

FIVE of Queensland's biggest hospitals have gone on bypass this week, as the Australian Medical Association warns the state is 500 beds short of what is needed. The Queensland Health website shows Princess Alexandra, Logan, Ipswich, Townsville and Gold Coast hospitals have been on bypass during the past five days because of bed shortages.

The Princess Alexandra Hospital on Brisbane's southside has been on bypass for four days in a row, accepting only the most critical patients. PAH executive director Richard Ashby said an increase in the number of trauma victims turning up at its emergency department had forced the hospital to redirect ambulances. "No category-one (urgent) patients are redirected and any urgent patients who require care are taken directly to hospital," he said.

The revelation comes as health workers complain of patients having to stay in the PAH's recovery room after surgery because of a severe shortage of post-operative beds. AMA Queensland president Gino Pecoraro said leaving patients in the recovery room for more than a few hours was unacceptable. "That affects the throughput of your operating theatres," Dr Pecoraro said. In the past week, some elective surgery has had to be cancelled because the hospital's recovery room was full.

Royal Australasian College of Surgeons' Queensland chairman Maurice Stevens said the PAH had been under particular pressure in the past week. "It's not something that's always present but it certainly is a recurring problem," Dr Stevens said. "Until such time as there are more beds, that's not going to be alleviated.

Dr Pecoraro said Queensland needed 500 more hospital beds immediately to meet demand. "We're aware of a large building program that the state Government is undertaking but that won't deliver beds for four, five or more years," he said.

He called for more incentives for surgeons and specialists to work in the regions, rather than patients having to fly to Brisbane for elective surgery. "We also need to make sure we use innovations like telemedicine more than we currently are," he said.


Cancerous growth of the bureaucracy in Victoria

ALMOST one in 10 Victorians works for the state because of unprecedented growth in the public sector under the Brumby Government. The explosion in staff numbers means 40c in every $1 spent by the Government goes on paying staff. The public sector workforce has jumped by almost 40,000 in the past five years but neither side of politics plans to cut jobs.

Almost 250,000 people are employed in the Victorian public sector, according to the State Services Authority. This is dramatically higher than when [conservative] Jeff Kennett lost office in 1999, a Herald Sun analysis shows. The 250,000 figure includes full-time, part-time and contract employees.

Government figures show there are more than 50,000 extra full-time public sector workers now than there were under Mr Kennett. The huge increase in staff comes at a great cost to the Budget - nearly $9 billion higher than in the Kennett era. Wages and salaries are forecast to rise to more than $18 billion in 2013-14.

Drawing from Budget papers, annual reports and departmental statements, the Herald Sun's analysis points to public sector jobs as the sleeping issue of the election campaign.

Treasurer John Lenders said the largest increase in employees was in the public health sector. Other government payroll growth areas include teachers, police, and ambulance and fire services staff.

"Ted Baillieu will have to embark on Kennett-style job cuts to pay for his $11 billion worth of uncosted election promises," Mr Lenders said.

But Opposition scrutiny of government spokesman David Davis said no jobs would go. "We see a critical role for public servants," he said.

The figures are made up of both the "inner" public service - comprising 10 departments and 20 authorities - and more than 1800 other public entities.

Despite the huge blowout in public sector jobs, the Coalition is acutely aware of the perils of announcing plans for job cuts, unwilling to be compared to the Kennett government. At the same time it has vowed to cut debt. The Budget forecast debt would almost double to more than $15 billion by 2013.

Adding further pressure to the bottom line, the state's unfunded superannuation liabilities are on the march again, climbing $1 billion to more than $21 billion by 2014.

This is the amount of taxpayers' money that would be required if the entire public sector workforce quit at once.

Both debt and unfunded super blew out under the Cain-Kirner governments and were hauled in by the Kennett government. But this was at great political cost, with the Kennett government losing the 1999 election in part because of the dramatic cuts to the public sector to deal with the $33 billion debt it inherited.


No comments: