Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Leftist destruction comes to Australia's cattle industry

Gillard halts live cattle exports to Indonesia for six months. Livelihoods don't matter to this government

The Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association (NTCA) says the Gillard government's ban on live export will destroy the Australian cattle industry and won't stop the cruelty. The Federal government has suspended the export of live cattle to Indonesia, with port authorities stopping nearly 2000 cattle being loaded on to a ship in Western Australia yesterday.

Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig is understood to have signed the order last night, with the ban expected to apply for six months until mechanisms for the improved treatment of live cattle along the whole supply chain are in place.

The NTCA held a special meeting in Katherine, about 300km south of Darwin, yesterday before meeting with Prime Minister Julia Gillard in Darwin. NTCA president Rohan Sullivan the 100 pastoralists who attended the meeting agreed improved animal welfare would not be achieved by banning live exports.

"If we stop exports to Indonesian, we are walking away from the millions of dollars that Australian producers have invested in infrastructure, training and improved animal husbandry. "There is no Plan B for this industry. "If live exports to Indonesia are closed, families will be bankrupted and for what purpose?

"This doesn't help the cattle who will continue to be processed, just opens the door to imports from other countries which may not adopt our standards or spend what we do on animal welfare."

Mr Sullivan's comments were echoed by Rick Britton, the mayor of Boulia in Queensland's central west, who says the ban will have a devastating effect on cattle producers in northern Australia.

It is believed Cabinet decided to suspend the $318 million-a-year industry on Monday night in response to community outrage and the ire of some Labor backbenchers over the inhumane treatment of the animals.

Live cattle export bodies say they understand why the Government is banning exports to Indonesia and have undertaken to ensure the trade is reformed. In a joint statement released this morning, Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) and LiveCorp said under proposed reforms, the industry had committed to a reduction of trade to a core group of facilities in Indonesia independently accredited to meet OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) animal welfare standards.

A stringent supply chain, the rapid introduction of stunning and an ongoing review and monitoring program would ensure Australian cattle were processed only through these facilities, they said. "The Australian livestock industry understands the reasons behind the Australian Government's decision to temporarily suspend the live cattle trade to Indonesia until a controlled system that will assure the welfare of Australian cattle exported to Indonesia has been implemented," the statement said.

MLA chairman Don Heatley said the suspension of the trade would most certainly have an impact on cattle producers and communities in the north and that needed to be acknowledged. "However, industry is confident it can work with the Australian and Indonesian Governments to deliver the solution," he said in the statement.

"This decision gives industry sufficient time to implement the controlled system which will ensure the appropriate treatment of Australian cattle in Indonesia."

Prime Minister Julia Gillard met with livestock officials and Northern Territory cattlemen in Darwin last night. "In light of the evidence presented to us, we have resolved to put a total suspension in place," Ms Gillard said. She said the suspension will remain until cattle from Australia are treated properly at every step of the supply chain. "We will be working closely with Indonesia, and with the industry, to make sure we can bring about major change to the way cattle are handled in these slaughter houses," she said.

The Australian reports the Port Headland Port Authority had confirmed it had not been allowed to load more than 2000 cattle on to the stock carrier The Falconia, bound for Indonesia.

Mr Ludwig suspended trade to 12 Indonesian abattoirs last week after the ABC's Four Corners aired video footage of steers being abused at the facilities. Indonesia accounts for about 60 per cent of Australia's live cattle exports.

Independent MPs Andrew Wilkie and Nick Xenophon plan to launch private Bills into Parliament, calling for an end to all live exports within three years.

LiveCorp chief executive Cameron Hall said MLA and Livecorp were reviewing industry programs in all markets to ensure Australian animals were being treated humanely and with respect during management and processing. "These solutions will take time but the Australian industry is committed to ensuring Australian producers have confidence their livestock are well treated and retain access to key markets," he said.


Labor heavies echo Abbott on boatpeople policy

THREE senior Labor ministers have warned of the risk that more child asylum-seekers could drown in Australian waters without a change in border protection policy.

In a tacit admission that onshore processing of asylum-seekers attracts people-smugglers, the ministers, all from Labor's Right, rejected calls from Labor's Left for exemptions for minors under Julia Gillard's plan to deport 800 boatpeople to Malaysia.

Led by Immigration Minister Chris Bowen, they warned exemptions would encourage people-smugglers to target children -- comments that put them on the same ideological page as Tony Abbott, who will make the same points in a speech to the Lowy Institute in Sydney today.

For years, the government has attributed the increase in the flow of asylum-seeker boats arriving off northern Australian to "pull factors", including escalation of troubles in source nations.

But yesterday, as Right faction ministers sought to fight off pressure from the Left, they put themselves closer to the opposition's argument by insisting the government must remove incentives for people to travel to Australia in leaky boats.

Mr Bowen said it would not be possible to "break the people-smuggler business model" with a blanket exemption.

"We saw 50-odd people die in December on Christmas Island," Mr Bowen said. "We've got to stop people getting on those boats, and it is inevitable that we will see another tragedy unless we break the people-smugglers' business model."

The comments are similar to statements the Opposition Leader will make in today's Lowy Institute speech, where he will argue that Labor's dismantling of the Howard government's so-called Pacific Solution policy attracted people-smugglers and that the government had taken "a long time to learn" that the alternative to strict border protection is "tacit encouragement" for people to risk their lives at sea.

"The government can't be held responsible for the deaths of people in unseaworthy boats, but it is responsible for putting temptation in their way," says a copy of Mr Abbott's speech obtained by The Australian last night.

"Giving boatpeople what they want is not morally preferable to strict deterrence if it encourages more of them to take great risks making ocean voyages in leaky boats."

The key difference between the rhetoric of Mr Abbott and Labor is that the opposition wants asylum-seekers processed on the island of Nauru while the government is pursuing its plan to swap 800 boatpeople with Malaysia for 4000 established refugees.

Trade Minister Craig Emerson said MPs should be concerned about "children arriving unauthorised in very risky circumstances".

And Attorney-General Robert McClelland said the government's key aim must be to protect lives. "Those little children drowned obviously with fear in their eyes and terror, in circumstances we don't want to see repeated," he said.

During today's speech, Mr Abbott will reveal a plan to travel to Nauru this week to talk to its government about whether it was still prepared to reactivate an asylum-processing centre set up by the Howard government.

He will also argue that the Gillard government is yet to explain why it could be wrong to send asylum-seekers to Nauru for processing, but not wrong to send them to Malaysia.

"Under Malaysian law, immigration violations such as breaching conditions of entry are subject to caning with a rattan," he will say. "According to Amnesty International's 2010 report, tens of thousands of illegal migrants, including asylum-seekers, have been caned.

"If the government is serious about not allowing boatpeople to be caned, it simply can't send them to Malaysia."



Three articles below

Mind the gap on climate

Janet Albrechtsen

SOMETIMES the most quotidian matters tell a story. Here's one about the deep disconnect between the political class - the politicians, the activists, the Hollywood stars and the feel-gooders who are imploring us to "SAY YES" to a carbon tax - and the rest of us.

You go online to buy an airline ticket. Say it's Jetstar. You choose your flights, fill in the passenger and contact details, answer some more questions, then you are given this option: "Help reduce your climate change impact by offsetting the carbon emissions (CO2) from your flight for just $1.96." The airline tells you all its carbon offsets are independently accredited, its program is certified under the government's National Carbon Offset Standard Carbon Neutral initiative, that the airline passes on all funds and does not profit from this purchase. Sounds like a small, low-cost way to help reduce emissions?

As at January this year, 88 per cent of people said no thanks to paying less than $2 to offset carbon from their Jetstar flight. When buying a ticket on a Qantas plane, only 8 per cent of online flyers consciously ticked the "yes, offset flights" button to pay $1.82. By May this year, that figure had dropped to 7 per cent.

To make things clear for the political class, most people are saying no to spending less than $2 to apparently help the environment when they fly. Unless you're travelling through the rich hippie town of Byron Bay, where you'll find the highest uptake of those saying yes to buying carbon offsets. By contrast, those travelling through Hamilton Island, your more middle Australia holiday destination, account for the highest number of people saying a polite "no thanks" to paying for a feel-good shot of carbon offsets.

That divide tells a story that the Gillard government may want to listen to. No doubt, a large swath of those saying yes to buying carbon offsets are on flights taken by our politicians as they jet back and forth across Australia, trying to keep in touch with the voters. Apparently, the get-in-touch-with-voters exercise is not working. Let's get real here. Whether it's the politicians or their staff who tick the carbon offset options, it's easy being green with other people's money.

Yesterday, Wayne Swan was spruiking Labor's carbon tax policy to a bunch of insiders at the National Press Club. Outside Canberra, most Australians recognise that a carbon tax is nothing more than a symbolic, emotionally charged policy that will hurt our economy when most other countries are not taxing carbon. It will do nothing to help the environment, given that Australia accounts for less than 2 per cent of global emissions.

Along similar lines, in the US, eco-friendly cleaning products are nose-diving in popularity. Clorox, the manufacturer of Green Works, a line of natural cleaning products, has seen its sales drop from $US100 million in 2008 to $US60m this year. As one woman told The New York Times, buying more expensive, green products is "something you buy and think about when things are going swimmingly". Reality trumps emotion.

Irving Kristol, the American writer who died in 2009, knew something about reality principles. The editor of Commentary magazine, Public Interest and National Interest once remarked that bad politics is like bad poetry, which as Oscar Wilde said, doesn't get any better just because it springs from genuine feeling. In 1972 Kristol wrote: "It seems to me that the politics of liberal reform, in recent years, shows many of the same characteristics as amateur poetry. It has been more concerned with the kind of symbolic action that gratifies the passions of the reformer rather than with the efficacy of the reforms themselves."

The insistence, said Kristol, was "revealing, in the public realm, one's intense feelings" . We must care; we must be concerned; we must be committed. Unsurprisingly, this goes along with an immense indifference to consequences, to positive results or the lack thereof.

More than 40 years later, Kristol could have been describing the protest marches last weekend when Greenpeace, the Climate Institute, GetUp!, Climate Action Network Australia, the ACTU and their supporters took to the streets for a National Day of Climate Action.

There was plenty of passion and bad political poetry imploring us to adopt a carbon tax.

"Today is a big day because today Australians will ask their government for a price on carbon," said Simon Sheikh, rally organiser and national director of GetUp!. Australians did no such thing. The vast majority stayed home. Eight thousand people turning up to a rally in Sydney is not a success. Across Australia, the turnout was said to be about 40,000. That is not Australia talking. In May 1970, hundreds of thousands of people marched to protest against Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War. In November 1992, 100,000 Victorians protested against budget cuts introduced by then premier Jeff Kennett. About 150,000 took to the streets of Melbourne in February 2003 to protest against a war in Iraq.

The Sunday carbon tax rallies, the second part of the Say Yes campaign, fell as flat as the opening shot when actors Cate Blanchett and Michael Caton fronted a misleading advertisement telling Australians to say yes to a carbon tax. While the Gillard government publicly applauded the efforts of the multi-millionaire Hollywood actor who is happy to incur the cost of a carbon tax, the grim reality is that this carbon tax will never satisfy Blanchett and the vocal activists behind her.

That's the thing about green groups. As Tony Blair wrote in his memoir, moderation is not in the lexicon of the NGO culture. Its raison d'etre depends on a continual crisis.

Nothing the Prime Minister does will satisfy the green groups momentarily supporting her carbon tax. Conversely, anything Gillard does with her tax - short of dumping it - will attract from voters deep scepticism about policy outcomes, not to mention political motives. If the overwhelming majority of people who fly are refusing to pay less than $2 for a carbon offset, you can see why Labor backbenchers are nervous about Gillard's determination to appease the Greens and press on with a carbon tax. After all, the PM who promised there would be no carbon tax under a Gillard government cannot even claim to have the bad poet's genuine feeling.


Another stupid bicycle scheme

Brisbane's CityCycle scheme costs $520 per bike per year, as less than one in five used

EVERY bike available for hire under Brisbane City Council's beleaguered CityCycle scheme is costing ratepayers more than $520 a year. A financial breakdown of the scheme provided by the council's town clerk, shows each of the 1040 bicycles is being subsidised at a cost of $132.04 a quarter.

The number of bikes for hire is due to rise to 2000 by the end of the year, increasing the total cost to ratepayers to $264,080 a quarter.

As part of deal, 192 advertising panels and signs, as well as signage on bikes, have been allocated to French advertising company JCDecaux, which runs the scheme.

As of May 13, fewer than 5000 people had subscribed to CityCycle and less than one in five bicycles were being taken out each day.

Despite the lukewarm response, Lord Mayor Graham Quirk said the "scheme was growing". "We've said before, it's not a revolution in growth but it is growing every month and that will continue to occur as we roll more CityCycle stations out," Cr Quirk. "There will be another 50 stations built and they will be out around the University of Queensland and South Bank, around Eleanor Schonell Bridge and that will extend cycleway opportunities for a lot of people, particularly university students."

The main criticisms of CityCycle have been the difficulty and cost of subscribing, the lack of hire helmets available and the style of the bicycles themselves.

Subscriptions cost $11 for a day, $27.50 for three months and $60.50 for a year. Users pay extra if the bikes are not returned within 30 minutes.


Carbon copying

Countries are like people: they have a childhood where they are nurtured, usually by a colonial parent; they have an increasingly strained adolescence as people argue why, how and when the tie with the parent should end; then they enjoy a prime of a self-sufficient and independent sovereignty when they both define their place in the world, and make such contributions to it as their citizens can with originality imagine, with determination develop, and with perseverance achieve. And, lastly, they have an old age, in which, weak and senescent, they loose interest in the world, which then recycles whatever remains, and the process starts again.

Australia, in 2011, is very much the pimply adolescent, still arguing about its relationship with England, our colonial mother, and America, the foster father to whom England handed us when we refused to grow up.

So what has this to do with a proposed carbon tax, an emissions trading scheme, or global warming? Well, everything actually.

We all know about or can vaguely recall the emotional traumas and hormonal difficulties we had to deal with as adolescents during what we now quaintly call the “maturation” process. Thus, our young men and women are highly critical of themselves; they love to copy trends by displaying their command of fashionable vocabulary, exhibiting their versatility with imported dance crazes, or parading in the most extreme cuts of coloured clothing, while stainless-steel rings hang from parts of their bodies, the piercing of which must have involved considerable suffering. They are also quick to sense the hypocrisy of adults, and delight in assuming the moral high ground in resulting arguments.

My argument is that in relation to climate change and our national response to it, Australia is behaving just like these adolescents. We are highly critical of the coal-fired power stations that supply our base-load energy needs, even to the extent that some Australians suggest we stop exporting coal to China and Japan. And even before the recent, predictable and very preventable problems at Japan’s Fukushima reactors, discussion on Australia’s use of our abundant uranium for the nuclear generation of energy was always discouraged. And yet, major Australian breakthroughs in photovoltaic research, such as at the ANU, have not proceeded to envisaged manufacture in the Canberra region because of the shortage of venture capital; if you’ve got solar panels on your roof, they were probably made in Germany or one China or another.

In December 2009 Australia was represented at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen where it lectured the world on its climate change hypocrisy. Meanwhile, anyone in Australia who queries the wisdom of legislation that, in taxing carbon, will significantly increase the costs of goods and services is accused of being a “climate change denier” with the same religious zeal and angry intolerance that the Spanish inquisition once applied to supposed heretics.

Few of us have the scientific expertise to assess either the extent of climate change, or the degree to which human activities have contributed to it. Many of us would agree that something significant is happening to the world’s climate. But we all of us should be suspicious of a theory, any theory, about which free and open discussion is either not possible, or where dissension is followed by personal denigration and ridicule.

Regardless of the price of the tax on carbon in Australia, the rigor with which we regulate, penalise, or shut down industries producing it, or the delight with which we shame people and institutions into parroting politically correct mantras about it, Australia’s net greenhouse emissions of 576 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year still only amounts to 1.5 percent of world emissions, according to recent figures from the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics.

In other words, because our economy is so small relative to the rest of the world, we cannot make an impact of any consequence on climate change no matter what we do. But Australian businesses involved in exporting, or in import-competition, will certainly feel an impact. Why, then, are we prepared to put so many Australian jobs and businesses at risk by forcing them to pay a carbon tax? Perhaps because (again, like those adolescents) we are critical of, and feel guilty about, our use of fossil fuels to produce energy? Perhaps because we want to demonstrate that we can take the economic pain (and the rest of the world can’t)? Or perhaps because we want to show the “adults” in that big, wide world how hypocritical they are? Whatever the reasons, they’re childish.

And the silence of our artists on this subject is deafening. Where are the plays and satirical novels about the posturing of politicians, and shenanigans of academics in climate change research? Unwritten, because the authors capable of such imaginative work know that these plays and novels would not only never attract Australia Council publishing subsidies, but would prejudice future dealings with arts bureaucracies.

Climate change has become a religion; our parliaments and universities are its temples, and their staff its high priests. Professor Garnaut has supplied the sacred texts. But whilst services are conducted daily and redemption is on offer, there is no after-life. You’re just going to have to pray you don’t need one.

Published in last week's Spectator Australia magazine. Written by Timoshenko Aslanides and illustrated by ZEG

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