Wednesday, March 23, 2011


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG thinks Julia is gutless not to face the anti-carbon-tax protesters.

Abbott questions why PM is going to royal wedding

TONY ABBOTT has mocked Julia Gillard's decision to attend next month's royal wedding, saying she does not believe in God, the monarchy or marriage.

Mr Abbott, a staunch Catholic and monarchist who is married with children, questioned Ms Gillard's bona fides to attend the wedding during yesterday's joint party room meeting. He was seeking to explain a boost for the government and a slump for the Coalition in the latest Newspoll.

Labor's primary vote rose six percentage points in a fortnight, the Coalition's fell five points and Mr Abbott's personal ratings plunged.

Urging Coalition MPs and senators to never underestimate the power of incumbency, Mr Abbott attributed the government's boost to Ms Gillard "hobnobbing" over the past fortnight with the US President, Barack Obama, in Washington, and with Prince William in Australia.

Ms Gillard and her partner, Tim Mathieson, have accepted an invitation to attend next month's wedding in London between Prince William and Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey. Mr Abbott predicted Ms Gillard would receive another poll bounce from this venture. "She may not believe in God, the monarchy or marriage but there will be a royal wedding bounce," he said.

Labor sources said they were growing tired of Mr Abbott targeting Ms Gillard's atheism and marital status [But it is OK for Leftists to call Abbott "the mad monk", of course], and argued that if she ribbed him for being religious, she would be widely attacked.

The Deputy Opposition Leader, Julie Bishop, also used her party room address to mock Ms Gillard. Ms Bishop targeted the Prime Minister's increasing embrace of a conservative agenda, including her acknowledgment at the weekend that she opposed gay marriage.

Ms Bishop said Ms Gillard entered Parliament as a "self-declared socialist, feminist and atheist". Now, Ms Bishop joked, Ms Gillard was about to launch the "parliamentary friends of Christian atheists", declare she was inspired by Sir Robert Menzies, and become the leader of One Nation.

Mr Abbott likened the period between now and the next election to "trench warfare" but predicted a Coalition victory. He said it would be a narrow victory, like that in Victoria recently by the Liberal leader Ted Baillieu, rather than a "Barry O'Farrell experience", the expected Coalition landslide in NSW this weekend.


Leftist "homophobia"

THE ABC has apologised today after it broadcast an anti-gay jibe against a Liberal MP. A hailstorm of criticism erupted today after a Q&A panel session with federal member Christopher Pyne last night ran a viewer's tweet: "Does Pyne really light up when he's talking about men in uniform?"

Victorian Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby co-convenor Sarah Rogan said the ABC should know better. "It is a cheap shot," she said. "It is not one of the worst levels of discrimination but it is stereotyping and playing on gay men in particular."

Q&A publicist Rachel Baugh rejected accusations of homophobia and said the national broadcaster was sorry for the tweet. "Q&A has a complex moderation process that deals with over 19,000 tweets during the course of the live program," she said. "This tweet was one that unfortunately went to air and shouldn't have. "The program agreed it was inappropriate and has contacted Christopher Pyne's office to apologise."

Though he is married with children, Mr Pyne has been dogged for years by sideswipes over his sexuality. In 2009, Kevin Rudd referred to him as "the member for skirt that is, the member for Sturt".

When Mr Pyne was appointed manager of Opposition business, Julia Gillard expressed surprise that the then Coalition leader, Malcolm Turnbull, hadn't given the job to Tony Abbott instead. Faced with a choice between a doberman and a poodle, she said, Mr Turnbull had opted for the poodle.


So: "Violence never solved anything"?

It's solved some very bad human relationships here

A 12-YEAR-OLD bully who hit international headlines after being slam-dunked by his victim has written a personal apology. Ritchard Gale yesterday left a note on the doorstep of Casey Heynes' home, which said: "Sorry for hitting you ... Hopefully all this trouble will stop after I say sorry to you and shake your hand," reported the Herald Sun.

In the letter Ritchard also said he should not have taken things into his own hands: "should of went to the office instead", "I just want to say sorry", he wrote.

Casey become an internet sensation after turning the tables on Ritchard in a clip that showed him being bullied before he snapped and retaliated, the result he said of years of cruel taunts about his weight.

The families of the two boys have reportedly made about $40,000 each for TV interviews following the incident. Casey said he has been bullied nearly every day at his school, Chifley College in Sydney's west, but could take no more when Year 7 student Ritchard tormented and attacked him last Monday.

"All I was doing was defending myself. I've never had so much support," he said during an interview with A Current Affair.

Casey reveals he'd been targeted by a new group of Year 7 boys who had started picking on him and teasing him about two weeks prior to the fight.

The Year 10 student said he found himself surrounded by the students when he went to get a school timetable before class.

As Ritchard backed him against the wall and started throwing punches, Casey said he felt scared and worried that others in the group would also start hitting him.

Eventually, he snapped, picking Ritchard up over his shoulder and throwing him to the ground.

The brawl was recorded on the mobile phone of another student who later posted the video online where he has earned "hero" status.



Three articles below

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott addresses rally of climate change sceptics

TONY Abbott will address a rally of climate sceptics in Canberra today as the Opposition tries to defend Labor accusations that it is a party of climate change deniers.

Strongly supported by right-wing shock jocks, the rally is expected to hear from a range of voices questioning the scientific evidence for climate change. Scores of buses, filled with opponents of the planned tax, are heading to Canberra for a rally outside Parliament House this morning.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard plans to introduce a tax on carbon emitters from July 2012 but Mr Abbott has said under the coalition the best tax cut Australians can get is no carbon tax.

The rally will be seen as a key step for Mr Abbott and members of the Coailtion, who have been forced to defend themselves against accusations that they are a party of climate change deniers.

An alliance of conservative bodies is planning rallies across the country today against the Gillard Government's carbon tax with one of the largest expected outside Parliament House in Canberra.

The Opposition Leader is expected to address the Canberra rally and yesterday renewed his attack on the Prime Minister's pre-election promise not to introduce the tax. He told parliament the PM suffers from truth deficit disorder and is clocking up frequent liar miles.

But trade unions are attempting to hijack the protest by delivering a petition in support of the measure to Climate Change Minister Greg Combet. A coalition of climate change advocates - including the ACTU, activist organisation GetUp, the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, Greenpeace and others [i.e. the Grem/Left] - also plans to take on the protesters. ACTU president Ged Kearney and other union figures have already arrived to personally deliver a petition to Mr Combet prior to the 10.30am rally

The rally comes as manager of Opposition Business Christopher Pyne yesterday asked Ms Gillard during Question Time to withdraw the term "climate change denier". Mr Pyne argued the term was used by Labor as a weapon to paint the Opposition as climate change extremists, The Australian reported.

Just days ago, Mr Abbott declared climate change was real after being attacked for telling a community forum that the science wasn't settled. Mr Abbott said "whether carbon dioxide is quite the environmental villain that some people make it out to be is not yet proven". He infamously declared in 2009 the science was "crap" but has since stated he accepts humans are contributing to global warming.

Meanwhile, steel boss Graham Kraehe warned that business has lost trust in the Gillard Government and that any proposed compensation scheme for emissions trading was like "putting a bandaid on a bullet wound." Mr Kraehe, who is Bluescope Steel Chairman, said the carbon tax was ill considered and wouldn't give businesses enough time for consultation. He called for a sector-by-sector approach to carbon pricing or carbon tariffs.

However, the warning is unlikely to be acknowledged by the Government with Julia Gillard boosted by a strong recovery in the latest Newspoll which put her ahead of Mr Abbott as preferred Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister is aggressively pushing the case for a carbon tax both in the media and parliament, despite being hampered by a lack of detail on the controversial tax.


Huge cost to make power "greener:

ENERGY producers would need to spend at least $30.5 billion on power stations that use gas and other clean technologies over the next decade to comply with even a modest emissions reduction target.

New modelling reveals that the scale of the spending could rival the rapid electrification across the nation that took place after World War II.

The modelling, to be released at a business forum in Canberra today, also finds that a modest target of reducing greenhouse emissions by 5 per cent of 2000 levels by 2020 would slash the earnings of coal-fired power stations by $11bn and force the shutdown of 10 per cent of the nation's electricity generating capacity.

Details of the modelling came as Julia Gillard branded Tony Abbott a climate change "denier" who was trying to appeal to sceptics as she sought to capitalise on an improvement in the government's Newspoll standing.

The attack in a fiery question time yesterday came as the Opposition Leader questioned the Prime Minister's truthfulness over her decision to break her pre-election pledge not to impose a carbon tax.

And at the National Press Club, BlueScope Steel chairman Graham Kraehe warned that the proposed compensation for emissions-intensive trade-exposed industries, which would be forced to compete with imports from countries that did not have a carbon tax, would be like putting "a Band-Aid on a bullet wound".

Mr Kraehe, who is also a member of the Reserve Bank board, said business had lost trust in the Gillard government and the consultation process for the current carbon tax negotiations had been "appalling".

The warning came as The Australian learned that senior industry figures believe Climate Change Minister Greg Combet has ruled out taking a sectoral approach to the introduction of a carbon pricing scheme, which means it would be introduced on a widespread basis across the economy.

And, despite climate change adviser Ross Garnaut's support for using Kevin Rudd's carbon pollution reduction scheme as a starting point for transitional industry assistance, independent MP Tony Windsor is understood to have doubts. He is believed to have told industry figures he does not support a "rehash" of the CPRS assistance.

The debate rages as Mr Combet and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson prepare to begin negotiations on the shape of the compensation package with some of the nation's most powerful company executives tomorrow. They include: Paul O'Malley from BlueScope Steel; Don Voelte from Woodside; David Peever from Rio Tinto; Anne Pickard from Shell; and Hubie Van Dalsen from BHP Billiton.

A forum in Canberra today organised by the Australian Industry Greenhouse Network and the Business Council of Australia will be told that the reliability of Australia's energy system could be under threat over the period to 2020, as coal-fired power stations close before enough replacements are built and maintenance work is reduced or even stopped.

Even a carbon price of $20 a tonne of emissions was likely to lead to some coal power stations defaulting on their debts and handing the assets over to their financiers. AIGN chief executive Michael Hitchens said that if some investors in power stations made big losses they would not invest in new capacity and new investors would invest only if there were higher returns.

"This would lead to even higher electricity prices than are needed," Mr Hitchens said.

The findings will put pressure on the Prime Minister to stare down the Greens, who are opposed to compensating electricity generators for putting a price on carbon.

Ms Gillard plans to introduce a fixed price on each tonne of carbon emissions from July 1 next year, but the level of compensation for industry and households remains a key sticking point between Labor and the Greens.

Under Mr Rudd's CPRS, the power generators were set to receive compensation of $7.3bn over 10 years, but the energy industry complained this fell well short of being sufficient.

The modelling by consultancy ACIL Tasman estimates that about $10.5bn in spending would be needed for gas-fired generating plant under an emissions pricing regime.

A further $20bn would be needed to comply with the government's renewable energy target.

Further spending still would be needed for gas pipelines and electrical transmission systems.

Rod Sims, an expert adviser to the multi-party climate change committee will use today's forum to call for the carbon price to be substituted for generous subsidies for solar panels and other high-cost greenhouse reduction measures.

Mr Sims, also a director of Port Jackson Partners, will argue that while measures such as solar panels are appealing they are very expensive, are insufficient to meet emissions reductions targets and offer no compensation.

The ACIL Tasman paper argues that compensation would not necessarily overcome the potential for electricity market disruption. But it could be used to provide incentives to overcome risks to the reliability of energy supplies, such as tying compensation to requirements that provide sufficient warning that power plants will be shut down.

"While ultimately government must make the decision as to whether compensation is warranted to support the ongoing effective and efficient operation of electricity markets, in doing so they must be cognisant of the central role that electricity plays in the everyday lives of all Australians," the paper says.

It warns that any policy must also take account of "the potential disruption to those everyday lives if electricity supplies are subject to increased price volatility and in the worst case disrupted."

ACIL Tasman chief executive Paul Hyslop, who will present the paper, said the modelling was based on the CPRS because, to get a 5 per cent reduction by 2020, Labor's stated target, would require similar carbon pricing to that proposed in Mr Rudd's model.

The firm's projections also estimate that wholesale electricity prices would rise by about $30 a megawatt hour by 2020 to meet a 5 per cent cut in emissions.

This would translate into higher retail electricity prices for households, particularly for off-peak power.

Because big industrial energy users use a lot of off-peak power, they face a "significantly" higher cost base.


Make mill deal or lose, Bill Kelty tells Greens

FORESTRY peace broker Bill Kelty has warned that green groups must strike a deal on the Gunns Tamar Valley pulp mill - or miss out on the permanent protection of 565,000 hectares of native forests.

The former union leader, appointed to "facilitate" a negotiated peace between loggers and green groups, also yesterday warned that Gunns should submit to a new, independent mill assessment.

Stepping up pressure for a compromise, Mr Kelty said there had to be agreement on a plantation-fed mill to allow Gunns to exit native-forest logging and free up enough wood to allow an industry transition out of old forests. "That is almost the biggest game in town in terms of getting an industry settlement together with an environmental settlement," he said. "A proposal by Gunns to have a pulp mill at Bell Bay in the Tamar Valley is the only essential proposition that is on the table."

However, he revealed all sides to the historic talks - unions, industry and green groups - now backed the appointment of an independent person to assess whether the mill met environmental guidelines.

Gunns has been strongly resisting the move, arguing it has already secured full state and federal approvals, but managing director Greg L'Estrange yesterday began a round of further talks with Mr Kelty.

Mr Kelty said it was "easy to conclude that there will be no agreement" due to ongoing differences on the $2.3 billion pulp mill. However, his interim report, to be passed to state and federal governments by week's end, would recommend that the talks to find a solution to 30 years of conflict continue.

The two substantive issues to be decided were a logging moratorium with agreed security of wood supply - and the pulp mill.

The moratorium was agreed earlier this month, temporarily protecting 565,000ha of high conservation value forests from logging, while allowing up to 12,000ha to be harvested. Only the mill remained unresolved, he said. However, peak group, Environment Tasmania, yesterday said that while green groups had an "open mind" about a new independent assessment, they remained opposed to the mill.

ET director Phill Pullinger said conservationists also wanted to see state and federal governments respond to Mr Kelty's report by acting to fully implement the agreed moratorium.

ET and other green groups involved it the talks - The Wilderness Society and the Australian Conservation Foundation- have welcomed improvements to the mill to reduce chlorine emissions and guarantee a 100% plantation feed-stock.

However, they have been holding out against endorsing the project because of ongoing hostility to it in the Tamar Valley, north of Launceston, and what Mr Kelty agreed was "considerable cynicism" about its state fast-track approval.

However, it is still possible the groups could agree to a form of words on the mill that would satisfy Gunns' needs to reassure joint venture partners and financiers that it has environmental support.

Mr Kelty expressed "uncertainty" about Gunns' "economic position" and confirmed he had held talks with potential joint venture partners for the project.


Note: I have two other blogs covering Australian news. They are more specialized so are not updated daily but there are updates on both most weeks. See QANTAS/Jetstar for news on Qantas failings and Australian police news for news on police misbehaviour

1 comment:

Paul said...

"Does Pyne really light up when he's talking about men in uniform?"

Well?? Does he?

Hardly worth an apology. Throwaway line. Would have been just as quickly forgotten.