Friday, July 08, 2011


Five current articles below

Green intimidation

Fortunately, the threat is a fairly empty one. They count anyone as a member but in reality they are just a small group of Left activists

A POWERFUL consumer lobby group has threatened a mass boycott of major grocery companies if they oppose the carbon tax.

Activist group Get Up has been accused of blackmail after sending a warning letter to 150 companies including Coca-Cola, Heinz, Kraft, McDonald's, Schweppes and Nestle. Get Up says it will urge its 570,000 members to "boycott goods and services that are linked to the scare campaign".

Get Up confirmed it was prepared to mount a national boycott of the products of any company that was "holding our climate to ransom" by supporting a multi-million-dollar anti-tax advertising campaign by business.

Australian Food and Grocery Council chief executive Kate Carnell claimed the letter was blackmail and bullying. "There is no doubt this is blackmail," she told the Herald Sun. "Threatening a boycott is really bullying."

Boycotts are commonly used by activist groups in confrontations with major corporations such as PETA fighting US Gap clothing over animal cruelty issues and perhaps most famously, the Nestle Boycott, started as a grassroots movement against the Swiss giant after it was found selling dangerous baby formula to third world countries

Ms Carnell said some of her smaller members who received the letter were worried the boycott could cost jobs. "They are saying to our members if you support the Australian Food and Grocery Council taking a position against the carbon tax then we will encourage our members to boycott your goods and services," she said.

Other companies who received the letter include Arnott's, Colgate-Palmolive, Foster's, Johnson & Johnson, Mars, Sanitarium, Unilever, Patties Foods, Jalna and Eagle Boys Pizza.

Ms Carnell said her members were not climate change deniers but they did have concern about the carbon tax harming competitiveness and the 300,000 jobs in the food and grocery sector.

Get Up national director Simon Sheikh, who has led campaigns to ban live animal exports, improve financing for mental health and support for gay marriage, wrote to the companies this week.

"It is our intention in the next few days to provide easy to use product information to our membership such that they can boycott goods and services that are linked to the scare campaign that the Australian Food and Grocery Council are about to sign up to," the letter said. He wrote that the public "may see your company as being supportive of the scare campaign" and he was writing to give them the chance to denounce it and resign from the Food and Grocery Council.

Mr Sheikh said Get Up had used its power to pressure banks to stop supporting environmentally destructive investments and believed individual food companies did not share the view of their lobby group. "We're not just going to roll over and allow industry to hold our climate to ransom, which is why we're clarifying individual companies' positions and seeking to hold them accountable," he said.

"We've asked company CEOs to answer a series of questions, including whether they accept the science of climate change, whether they back a carbon price, and whether they would consider resigning from the industry body, and we intend to make that information public. "Australians will then be able to take that information into account when they enter the supermarket."


Hypocritical gas-guzzling Greens - they're still using their Comcars

THEY want to tax regular Australians out of their cars but the Greens are still being chauffeur-driven in their tax-payer funded Comcars.

Senator Christine Milne, who accrued $7527 in Comcar expenses in the past 12 months, this week said that ordinary people needed to "drive less and drive more efficiently". The party is pushing for extra excise on petrol or to extend the carbon tax to fuel to curb motorists.

But the tough-on-driving approach did not appear to apply to Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young yesterday. Her Greens colleagues are also still using the Comcar chauffeur service, with leader Bob Brown leaving taxpayers with the biggest bill of $20,673 for the past 12 months.

Senator Hanson-Young, who accrued $17,260 in Comcar expenses, gave no response when asked if she thought the Greens should give up their cars in light of Senator Milne's comments.

A spokeswoman for Greens senator Scott Ludlam, who was this week unsuccessfully nominated for president of the senate, defended his decision to take advantage of the Comcar service. "There's not much to say, everybody has a job. The senator doesn't own a car. People occasionally need a car," she said.

The spokeswoman said Senator Ludlam occasionally used a car in Canberra, at a cost of $5433, but rode a bike between his home and office in Western Australia. He also spent $927 on cab charges.

Senator Milne's office did not respond to questions about her use of Comcars and if she would lead by example and stop using them. Greens leader Bob Brown's office also did not reply to questions.

Only a few cars in the taxpayer-funded fleet are hybrid Toyota models, with most gas-guzzling family-sized sedans.

Earlier this week, Senator Milne undermined Prime Minister Julia Gillard, warning that the promise to exclude fuel from the carbon tax could become like former prime minister John Howard's promise to never introduce a GST.

Senator Milne boasted this week that the Greens had already won a change earlier this year on a fringe benefits tax concession, which encouraged people to drive further, and would now turn to excise.

The Greens only supported the government leaving petrol for family cars and small commercial vehicles out of the carbon tax in return for Productivity Commission examination of fuel excise.

Ms Milne said the Greens want dirtier fuels taxed more and clean fuels taxed less and said electric cars were the way of the future.


Renewable energy projects to cost extra $97 a head

EVERY Australian will contribute $47 next year towards the cost of the federal government's policy of mandating large-scale renewable energy projects and a further $50 to fund rooftop solar panels and hot water systems, irrespective of Julia Gillard's carbon deal.

The modelling, previously secret and obtained exclusively by The Australian, shows the nation will pay almost $2.2 billion in 2012 for the federal government's scheme to ensure 20 per cent of national electricity is produced from renewable sources.

The state-based schemes that pay households feed-in tariffs to produce power from their solar panels will cost even more next year -- ranging from $4.90 a person in Victoria to $14.20 in Queensland, $12 in Western Australia and $23.30 in the Australian Capital Territory.

The National Generators Forum, which commissioned the modelling by Frontier Economics, is armed with the report as it prepares to fight any new imposts when the carbon reduction plan is outlined on Sunday.

The Greens have pressed support for renewable energy measures in the carbon deal, and electricity generators are anxious. "The industry is concerned that the market-based solution of a carbon price may come with a raft of new regulation and complementary programs, adding to the price pressures on consumers but may deliver little abatement," forum executive director Malcolm Roberts said. "The shift to a carbon price was once meant to eliminate the need for these ad hoc policies."

The government has split the large and small renewable projects into two markets because of a flood of solar panel installations.

The modelling shows the large-scale renewable energy target -- covering windfarms and hydroelectric schemes -- will cost more than $1bn next year, while delivering 13.1 million tonnes of carbon abatement.

By contrast, the small-scale renewable energy scheme for residential solar photovoltaic panels and hot water systems will cost $1.1bn but reduce carbon by just 1.4 million tonnes next year. However, the costs of the small scheme fall in subsequent years as the subsidies wind down.

The modelling finds the scheme will cost almost $27 per person in 2020 as it is designed to impose a higher initial cost.

Next year, it will cost $88 for every tonne of carbon abated under the large scheme and $302 for every tonne under the small scheme -- several times the expected $20-$25 a tonne expected carbon price. The costs of the large scheme would fall if a price were put on carbon, but the report finds this is simply cost-shifting, as consumers would be paying higher electricity prices under a carbon price system.

Treasury briefings released under freedom of information laws in April urged that a review of the policies be carried out as a carbon price was introduced. "Such complementary measures would need to be reviewed in conjunction with the introduction of a carbon price, or shortly after its introduction," the briefings said.

The schemes were also criticised by the Productivity Commission, which warned they were very expensive and made any form of carbon market less efficient.

But Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson has stated the government's policy is to have the carbon tax and the renewable energy tax.

The analysis of the costs of the scheme per person included the impact on residential power bills as well as the costs to businesses and industries.


Faults found in NSW home solar systems

STARTLING figures out of NSW last week have confirmed what the public has suspected for months - that there are widespread faults in solar panel installations. And while many of these faults are minor, some are serious.

The issue extends nationwide, with no clear picture of the extent of installation problems across the states, and authorities are afraid that the public could panic and try to interfere with their own systems.

In an audit of 658 household solar systems in western Sydney, just one in five were installed correctly, and some 18.5 per cent had "major" defects posing safety risks.
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Most of the serious problems involve the incorrect wiring of a DC circuit breaker. This does not impact the running of the unit but does pose a "very low" risk of starting a fire.

There have been immediate claims that the federal government, whose solar panel rebates helped fuel a nationwide rush for the roof-top systems, has kept the problem quiet to avoid the sort of bad publicity sparked by the home insulation and Green Loans schemes.

"They have tried to keep this away from the public as much as possible - that's clear," says one solar panel industry operator. "They didn't want it to be seen as another home insulation debacle."

The federal government, through the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, last week denied it has tried to avoid releasing information to the public, saying that solar panel safety is the responsibility of state and territory governments.

But it is true that the Clean Energy Council, the agency contracted by the federal government to accredit solar panel installers, has known about the extent of the problems since October, and was alerted to them by the Department of Climate Change. The director of strategy at the Clean Energy Council, Kane Thornton, told BusinessDay that the figures released in NSW last week were "probably consistent with what we understood to be the case".

Mr Thornton says the council made "no secret of the issue" and was working to fix the problems. Yet he says the council did not seek to widely publicise the extent of the defects because it did not want to cause unnecessary alarm.

Mr Thornton said that because householders cannot fix the faults themselves, the council feared that alerting the public could lead to some people panicking and trying to interfere with, or switch off, their systems. This would be a problem, because the safety risk with the circuit breaker is only triggered when the solar panel is switched off.

The Clean Energy Council says for a spark to form, it would need to be a sunny day - thus pushing the panels towards full capacity - and the panels would need to be "shut down in an incorrect manner". "Our concern was that there was a greater risk in alerting people to a potential issue that they couldn't do anything to solve themselves, but could increase the risk … if they become alarmed about it," Mr Thornton says.

But the federal opposition, as well as some in the industry, suspect there is more to the story. Last week, the opposition's environment spokesman, Greg Hunt, suggested a national audit had uncovered similar results to the NSW audit, and that the government was "sitting on" the figures.

The Department of Climate Change did conduct a nationwide "random and targeted sample of inspections" from last October to June 30. Yet it denies it has sought to keep the information secret, saying it referred any problems to the householder, the state or territory authority and the Clean Energy Council.

However, it did not answer questions about what the results of the inspections were or whether they revealed a similar number of defects to those uncovered in the NSW Fair Trading audit.


Anti-human Greens won't usurp the Labor Party

HOLD fast comrades, Greens leader Bob Brown's boast that one day his party will displace Labor is idle. Labor's brand may be tarnished, but it is not terminal. The times conspire to give the appearance that Labor is terminal. The cycle of state governments is running against Labor, its membership is dwindling and its standard bearer, the federal government, is weak.

For Labor, minor omissions have had major consequences. Had NSW Liberals elected a better leader than Peter Debnam, Labor would have suffered a mild defeat at the 2007 election and be on the way back.

Labor is not alone in losing members. Candidate selection, campaigning and policy-making have been outsourced from the ranks in the other main parties.

The electorate is more responsive to offers than to ideology, which is not a good thing, but it is not a peculiarly Labor problem.

And had senior members of Labor's federal caucus got to Kevin Rudd before Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan, Labor today would have had an emissions trading scheme in place (hopefully in mothballs waiting for the rest of the world's) and been returned in its own right at last year's election.

Despite these travails, Labor remains essentially humanist, concerned with the needs, wellbeing and interests of people.

The Greens, by contrast, will never defend humanity against nature. Brown regards humans as tellurians, inhabitants of the earth, along with plants and animals. The Greens care little for our most important gift, our intelligence, or for our most important human achievements, such as our families and our nations. On these grounds, the Greens can never be a mainstream party.

Picture Brown's address to (his recently mooted) United Nations of all People. "Tellurians of the world unite!" He gets no further because a Chinese guard drags him off stage as a dangerous environmentalist and gay activist. Bob, in the parliament of the world, China has the numbers.

The Greens will consume the good upbringing that family brings, the immense wealth, health and comfort that human ingenuity brings, and the political stability that nation states bring, but they will never defend them.

They may support wind, wave and solar technologies, but when tough decisions have to be made about more people and the energy and resources they will require, the Greens always duck for cover and wish there were fewer people.

Brown rails that Australia's uranium may "turn up as deadly radioactive materials in Japanese fish and lettuce" and that "80,000 people have been evacuated from [Brown's demented construct] the Fukushima-Australia uranium contamination zone". He seems to forget that 10,000 people were killed by nature, none so far by the human-created radioactivity.

The Greens are always against war, but some wars are necessary. When push comes to shove the Greens will never defend democracy against fascism or communism, Islamism, or indeed a resource-hungry foe. They will never make the required investment in defence. Theirs is an undergraduate debate about "guns or butter".

The Greens delight in the threat of global warming. They delight in stopping the genius of capitalist economic development in the service of humanity. In the face of environmental threats they retreat and hope they can turn off the machine.

Each and every homosexual man or woman understands the family is the best known means for heterosexual couples to procreate and raise children. Without it, there is no humanity. The family as a human institution is under enormous pressure in the face of the great and positive forces of women's equality, but its purloining by homosexual couples in the name of equality is a step too far. The Greens will choose niche equality over family every time.

Brown says, "Here we are, the most resource-rich nation in the world, with serial governments failing to take the political lead which this country and the whole world wants." But he wishes to lock up our resources, forever. Coal, gas, and every mineral that requires liquid fuels to power its extraction, which for the foreseeable future is all of them, will cease to be available to the poor humanity of the world.

Labor (and indeed the Coalition) at times has been slow to devise environmental policies, often forced by the Greens and environmental groups, but they have never made the mistake of becoming anti-humanist.

Labor toys with population policy, it toys with gay marriage, it toys with euthanasia and it toys with animal rights. But if, at the margin, there is a choice to be made between people and nature, it will, if it knows what is good for it, remain wedded to a human conception of history.

If it wanders down an anti-humanist path in search of green votes it risks its major-party status. Be wary, comrades: environment in the service of humanity, yes; the rest of the Greens' anti-humanist agenda, never.


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