Monday, July 04, 2011

Go West? 'Get out of Sydney' grants an expensive distraction

The more things change .... Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam had similar ideas in the '70s. How many people now remember his grand vision for Albury/Wodonga? -- JR

Jessica Brown

Is the ghost of Bob Carr lurking in Macquarie Street? When he was NSW Premier, Carr famously declared that Sydney was full. Successive Labor governments failed to adequately plan for population growth. Sydneysiders squashed like sardines on rattling CityRail trains or whiling away the hours on the M2 now pay the price.

Now, it seems, the new Liberal government has the same idea as Carr did all those years ago.

In a move expected to cost NSW taxpayers up to $280 million over four years, the O'Farrell government announced last week that it will pay families and individuals grants of $7,000 if they sell their Sydney, Wollongong or Newcastle home and relocate to regional NSW.

According to Treasurer Mike Baird, the policy will drive economic growth in NSW as well as relieve congestion in Sydney.

But while it has been enthusiastically welcomed by regional councils, the plan deserves to be panned.

Much of the money will be wasted. Grants will go to residents who would have moved anyway. The Illawarra Mercury notes that Wollongong residents will be eligible for the grants even if they move to neighbouring Shellharbour. In some cases, this could be just a few streets away.

It also seems unlikely that encouraging people to move away from the most productive parts of the state to the less productive regional towns will do much to spur economic growth.

Most importantly, it will do nothing to relieve congestion in Sydney. Capped at 40,000 households, the scheme will not come close to offsetting Sydney's projected population growth of around 1 million people by 2026. And it's clear that the majority of NSW residents want to live in cities, not in regional towns.

Relocation grants are just an expensive distraction from the real job of clearing Sydney's infrastructure backlog.

Short-sighted, short-term plans of this type are beloved of governments beholden to four-yearly elections. But the O'Farrell government, with a historic majority and an imploded opposition, does not need to be so limited in its range.

By systematically failing to invest in Sydney's infrastructure, Labor for 16 years reminded us how little faith it had in the city. The Coalition has a unique opportunity to set Sydney back on track.

Yet instead of a bold, long-term vision, we seem to be getting more of the same.

Like it or not, Sydney's population is growing. Let's hope the new government can learn from its predecessor's mistakes.

The above is a press release from the Centre for Independent Studies, dated 1 July. Enquiries to Snail mail: PO Box 92, St Leonards, NSW, Australia 1590.

Radical Islamic leader scorns Diggers fighting in Afghanistan

MUSLIMS "have an obligation" to target Australian troops in Afghanistan, an Islamic conference leader said. Branding the Afghan war a Western invasion, Uthman Badar, from the radical Islamic organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir, said: "If our members exist in a country where an occupation has occurred, in capacity as individuals they would have an obligation to resist."

Asked directly if he condoned the killing of Australian troops in Afghanistan, Mr Badar replied: "If you are occupying someone else's land then those victimised people have the right to resist."

He also refused to condemn underhand tactics such as suicide bombing as long as "innocent, non-combatants" were not targeted.

He was speaking as hundreds of Muslims gathered in Lidcombe, in Sydney's west, to promote their call for the creation of an Islamic state ruled by Sharia law, stretching from Spain to Australia. The group has been banned in many countries overseas, including parts of the Middle East. Although Hizb ut-Tahrir does not representmost of Muslims in Australia, it has a growing following here.

While Australian forces joined the war in Afghanistan to capture Osama Bin Laden and fight the Taliban in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks, Mr Badar said the Australian Government had no business being there. "You have no business in interfering with the people of the Muslim world," he said. "Military occupation should be resisted militarily. People there have a right to resist."

But Islamic Friendship Association of Australia chairman Keysar Trad said the views of Hizb ut-Tahrir were not shared by most mainstream Australian Muslims. "We would like to see the conflict in Afghanistan resolved peacefully and Australian troops return home safely," he said.

Outside the conference, police were forced to call for reinforcements, including the dog squad, when a group of about a dozen members of the Australian Protectionist Party chanting "no sharia law in Australia" almost came to blows with young men from the Hizb ut-Tahrir event.

Protest organiser and APP NSW chairman Darrin Hodges said: "Hizb ut-Tahrir have been banned in most Islamic countries in the Middle East. We don't understand why they haven't been banned here."


Coal closure 'would cut growth, not carbon': report

The Greens want Australia's coal industry shut down

SHUTTING down the Australian coal industry would cost the economy between $29 billion and $36bn a year and have no effect on global carbon emission levels.

In a report commissioned by the Minerals Council of Australia, RMIT economists Sinclair Davidson and Ashton De Silva savage the Greens' coal policy, saying the industry saved Australia from having three negative quarters of economic growth during the global financial crisis.

And they say coal exports continue to outperform other exports in the Australian economy, underpinning economic growth.

But while coal is of dramatic importance to the health of the Australian economy - the Queensland floods and lost coal production were blamed for a contraction in the first three months of this year - if Australia exited the market it would not drive down global emissions and have little impact on the world market.

"While there might be some short-run dislocation in the market were Australia to unilaterally cease producing and exporting coal, it is unlikely that there would be a long-run impact on the world economy," the report says. "Prices might be slightly higher for every level of coal consumption, but the overall amount of coal being consumed would not change."

The pair argue the demand for coal is such that until viable substitutes are found people will continue to consume it. "From an environmental perspective, it is those economies with lower environmental standards that are likely to expand production - the former Soviet Union countries and Indonesia."

The report also warns that Australia's share of the international export market in coal is falling and that Australia's export growth in the commodity has failed to keep pace with that of competitors.

Australia's production between 2000 and 2008 had also failed to keep pace with the growth among the largest producers, increasing 36 per cent compared with 64 per cent for the world's top 10 producers. Australia's share of the international market shrank from 30 per cent in 2000 to 26.7 per cent of global exports in 2008.

The Greens last week released research by Tasmanian actuary Naomi Edwards showing Australia's mining industry was largely foreign owned, with $50bn in dividends from the mining boom to go overseas in the next five years.

Greens leader Bob Brown floated the idea of limiting the extraction of key commodities as the world grappled with the effects of climate change.

But, taking aim at the Greens' report, the economists say every dollar lost in the coal industry costs $3.92 across the economy. "At present any replacement industries are unspecified - so it is not clear what the net cost to the economy would be."

Mr Davidson and Mr De Silva said they were particularly concerned about the erosion of Australia's comparative advantage in coal over the past decade.

"It is our view that Australia performs well in world coal markets despite domestic public policy and not because of that policy," they write. "The emergence of competitors in the former Soviet Union countries and Indonesia indicate that any action to eliminate coalmining in Australia will impose costs on the Australian economy without providing global environmental benefits."


Food security the fear as foreign investors rush in

Arrant nonsense. Most agricultural commodities are in chronic glut. Farm ownership won't alter that. The Chinese are brilliant farmers. They would INCREASE production, if anything

THE peak farmers group has warned that increased global demand for food is leading to a new wave of foreign investment in Australian agriculture that could stifle competition and compromise national food security.

The warning was backed by a leading food security authority and Nationals Senate Leader Barnaby Joyce, who warned too much foreign ownership could lead to a "clash of sovereignty" and diplomatic tensions with a range of foreign governments, including China.

National Farmers Federation president Jock Laurie warns in an opinion piece for The Australian today that foreign investment has entered a new phase over the past four years. He says there is potential for foreign state-owned enterprises to undercut Australian farmers by using their land acquisitions to ship produce back to feed their home populations.

"This raises the question of transparency in the supply chain, potentially jeopardising competition at the farm gate and depressing the local market. At an extreme level, this could also lead to Australia's own food security goals being compromised," he writes.

Senator Joyce said yesterday that he had "serious issues" with investment from any foreign state-owned enterprise, because it could lead to diplomatic fallout "one thousand" times greater than that with Indonesia over the ban on live cattle exports.

"You get a clash of sovereignties. You might take an individual to court or a corporation to court. But I think you'll be very concerned if you take a country to court especially when that country is far bigger and can choose to be far nastier than the one you live in," he said. "When the person you're taking to court has nuclear weapons, you better be a little bit cautious about what you say next."

Canberra moved last November to map out foreign ownership of agricultural assets, commissioning the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation to conduct a study.

Mr Laurie said he hoped the review would shed light on the "intent" behind foreign acquisitions and demanded government assurances foreign purchases would not negatively affect farm-gate prices for producers.

"Australian farmers thrive on competition and we want to make sure that anybody who wants Australian farm produce enters the market to provide added competition," he said. "Most people were reasonably comfortable with the level of foreign investment coming in and coming out. But things have now changed."

Food security expert and author Julian Cribb backed the NFF's concerns. "China is trying to shore up its own position. It's using its new wealth to buy up resources, which includes food. And yes, it might imperil our food security," he said. "If farmers are getting screwed in the marketplace for the price paid for their produce, they have less money to invest in better and more sustainable farming systems."


1 comment:

Paul said...

Well we now know Bob Brown is a true leftists/Globalist of the kind driving this phony climate debate worldwide. I suspect that carbon is the furthest thing from his mind.