Monday, July 11, 2011

Another dishonest and evasive Leftist politician

If you think politicians prefer politicking to doing things that really matter - and who hasn't thought that? - then here's something to confirm your suspicions.

Last week, Infrastructure Australia, a federal government body chaired by businessman Sir Rod Eddington, issued a sternly worded report calling for serious and innovative thinking by politicians on how to fund all the roads and bridges and rail lines Australia needs to keep the economy running.

The problem is pressing: Governments are hitting their borrowing limits for big-ticket infrastructure; and Queensland's gross debt is forecast to double in the first half of this decade, to more than $44 billion, thanks to recent massive spending on the water grid, new hospitals, busways and the like.

For a time it was assumed the profit-seeking private sector would take up the slack, but that was before the global financial crisis and such spectacular disasters as the privately funded Clem7 tunnel.

"The need for a new funding paradigm is especially critical. Without changes in this area, Australia will not secure the infrastructure it needs," Infrastructure Australia intones in its latest report to the Council of Australian Governments, Communicating the Imperative for Action.

"What's missing is a sense of the urgent need for action," Eddington writes. "The country needs leadership in this area. Political and business leaders must be willing to risk some criticism and develop collations of support for difficult but necessary change."

How did the Queensland Government respond to this stirring call to arms? With a media release from Main Roads Minister Craig Wallace that sets new standards for inanity, irrelevance, drawing long bows, and selective use of facts, all in the name of trying to make a political point against the LNP's would-be-premier Campbell Newman.

Wallace jumps on Infrastructure Australia's suggestion that governments will need to rely on tolling and other "pricing reform" to pay for new roads with a release headlined: "Newman will seize on report recommendation to toll the Bruce Highway."

What? First, the long bow. Wallace relies on a month-old, page seven article in the Innisfail Advocate to insist the "LNP had recently been caught out saying it would look at tolls on the Bruce Highway".

This appears to be quite a liberal interpretation of what LNP parliamentary leader Jeff Seeney actually says in the article. "I'm not particularly in favour of toll gates and toll roads like that but there are a whole range of other models that allow private investment to invest in road infrastructure and we have to look at that, we don't have any choice," Seeney, who has since ruled out tolls on the Bruce Highway, was quoted as saying.

But on the basis of that story, Wallace draws back his long bow to near breaking point to insist that: "Campbell Newman will now be using the Infrastructure Australia report as a green light to fulfil his vision of putting toll gates on the Bruce Highway."

Wallace then describes Newman as a "toll-road junkie and not a very successful one at that", based on the evidence of the Clem7 tunnel, which is now in receivership, and the fact that the council's Go-Between toll bridge "has yet to make any money after 12 months".

That seems a pretty brave call for a minister of a government whose own new toll road project, the $4.8 billion Airport Link, has already cost its builder and investors hundreds of millions in losses and is still 12 months away from opening.

Wallace soldiers on, trying to strengthen his wonderfully shaky argument with the claim that Newman and Infrastructure Australia had "previously worked together", with the federal body giving the Brisbane City Council $500 million towards its Legacy Way tolled tunnel project.

That then lord mayor Newman was able to extract such a large amount of money from the Federal Government by submitting a sufficiently robust project proposal is, apparently, in Wallace's world, a bad thing.

None of this should come as a surprise, of course. Politicians are genetically predisposed to attack their opposite numbers whenever they can. It is a pity, though, that Wallace chooses to turn what should be a serious discussion about an increasingly urgent problem for Australia - how to pay for essential infrastructure - into just another cheap political shot.

The problem is serious indeed. Queensland, which has been outlaying more than $15 billion a year on new capital works for the past half decade, plans to cut spending to less than $10 billion a year by 2013 as part of its debt-reduction program, even though such urgently needed new projects as the $8 billion Cross River Rail project remain unfunded.

And even if Wallace can't resist the temptation to trivialise something important for the sake of a political potshot, perhaps he could try to do better.


Give us our own laws, say Islamic leaders

ISLAMIC leaders want Muslims in Australia to get interest-free loans for religious reasons. The nation's Islamic leaders want recognition of sharia law as it applies to banking practices, according to an exclusive Herald Sun survey of imams. There was also a call for recognition of sharia law as it applies to family law.

The survey showed some imams are sceptical that Osama bin Laden's death will be of benefit to ordinary Muslims, and they are unhappy with the way US forces disposed of his body. The survey has also revealed:

STRONG condemnation of MPs who criticise Muslim women for wearing the burqa/nijab.

CONCERN that ordinary Muslims are still being linked to terrorism.

DISGUST that innocent people in Muslim countries are being killed in the "war on terror".

The survey was conducted in the wake of a $55,000 Federal Government training program for imams on Australian laws and values. They have been told to preach core Australian values such as the fair go, freedom, and responsibility.

"Other than the two major issues mentioned, I don't see other sharia law that Muslims would seek to have legally recognised," he said.

Fellow WA imam Sheik Burhaan Mehtar said sharia law often was raised to scare non-Muslims, but a dialogue would lead to better understanding. "Islamic banking and the non-slavery of humans is a classic example. Interest is slavery," he said.

Islamic Council of Victoria board member Nazeem Hussain said legal and tax barriers currently prevented local banks from offering Islamic finance products. "That's a massive market ... we'd encourage the Government to seek ways to tap into that market," he said.

Imam Parker said bin Laden's demise might serve as closure for those convinced he masterminded the 9/11 attacks. "But the reality is that the negative impact on Islam and Muslims has not changed, and it will take many decades for that to change," he said.

Sheik Burhaan Mehtar said the symbolic victory of bin Laden's death would remain hollow while people in nations such as Afghanistan suffered a "terror of death delivered from the skies" by the US and its allies.

Gold Coast imam Imraan Husain reflected a general view that bin Laden's burial at sea was a violation of Islamic funeral rites.

Victorian imam Sheik Ramy Najmeddine said Muslims felt there was an unfair link between terrorism and Islam. "But we believe this is being broken down by the good work that members of both the Muslim and non-Muslim community are doing."

Sheik Mohamadu Saleem, a spokesman for Board of Imams Victoria, accused some MPs of trying to get political mileage out of the burqa issue. "It is mere political expediency," he said.

Victorian imam Abdinur Weli said: "If only Muslims are the people who are told what to wear, then it is discrimination."


Bring back the cane, say PerthNow readers

AN overwhelming majority of PerthNow readers believe corporal punishment should be allowed in WA schools.

A poll on PerthNow today is asking readers whether they support the use of corporal punishment in schools. More than 1600 people have had their say already today with more than 80 per cent of respondents voting yes, it should be allowed.

It follows revelations in today’s edition of The Sunday Times that several WA schools are still using the cane to punish students who behave badly.

Nollamara Christian Academy is among three independent schools that have corporal punishment, which was banned in the state's public and Catholic schools in 1986. Mt Helena's Bible Baptist Christian Academy and Bunbury's Grace Christian School are believed to be the other schools.

Despite opposing corporal punishment, Education Minister Liz Constable said she would not stop it. She says it was up to parents if they wanted to send children to "the very few schools" in WA that still used the cane.

Nollamara Christian Academy Pastor Roger Monasmith said a small paddle "like a ping-pong bat" was used as part of a disciplinary approach for the school's 18 students.

Pastor Monasmith said the cane was never used in anger and every parent had to sign an agreement about corporal punishment before enrolling their child. He said four or five students had been punished so far this year to ensure they understood they had not only disobeyed school rules, but also God.

The Department of Education Services regulates the use of the cane in non-government schools in WA. Such schools must notify parents prior to enrolment and keep records of all corporal punishment administered, a spokesman said.

Opposition education spokesman Ben Wyatt said he believed the cane was "past its use-by-date", but parents should have the choice.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is a disgrace that anyone should come to Australia and try to introduce the laws from which they run away!! Sharia law is the most barbaric law in modern world, it made the life unberable to most people (especially women) in some islamic countries, so why would anyone want to introduce it in Australia? Anyone who comes here should follow the Australian laws and the way of life, if you don't like it - go back to where you come from. I would like to know what would the reaction be if I come to Saudi Arabia or Iran and demanded introduction of "christian" laws? That would probably the last time I opened my mouth!
On Sheik Mehtar remark about muslim facing death from the sky, I would like to point out that most of them deserve it, but far, far more muslims are killed by other muslims! An inconvenient truth, isn't it?
As far as the cover up is concerned, if women going to islamic countries require to have a head cover, why women in Australia should not removed when ordered by police?
Have a nice day.