Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tony Abbott stalls on bid to legalise Malaysia "refugee" deal

Abbott is right. On Nauru, the illegals would remain under Australian control so there is no basis for a legal challenge

THE Coalition insists an Abbott government could sends asylum seekers to Nauru without amending the Migration Act in a sign it will take a hardline approach to Labor's demands for legislative change.

As Opposition Leader Tony Abbott refused to say whether the Coalition would back Labor's amendments to the Migration Act, Ms Bishop rejected Immigration Department advice given to the Coalition that Nauru could now be on shaky legal ground. "I don't believe that we need amendments to the Migration Act for us to reopen the detention centre on Nauru and for it continue to work as it has in the past," she said. "We believe that the fact that Nauru is now a signatory to the UN Convention on Refugees is an important factor."

Ms Bishop said a "desperate" Ms Gillard was talking down the Nauru option for her own purposes. "It would be the final humiliating admission for her that she has been wrong on every aspect of her border protection policies," she said.

Labor has challenged the Coalition to back its changes to the Migration Act designed to place offshore processing beyond doubt following a High Court ruling declaring the Malaysia refugee swap unlawful. Labor says the changes would allow the Malaysian Solution to go ahead, while ensuring a future Coalition government could process asylum seekers on Nauru if it desired.

Mr Abbott said he wanted to see Labor's amendment's to the Migration Act before agreeing to support the government. "I'm not going to pre-empt the government and I'm not going to give them a blank cheque," the Opposition Leader said.

Mr Abbott reiterated his support for offshore processing, but maintained his political attack on the Malaysia deal. "I make the point that it's bad policy," he said.

"I mean, a five-for-one people swap is just a bad deal and sending people to a country where they're caned is hardly a fair deal."

The Greens a strongly opposed to the offshore processing of asylum-seekers, which leaves Labor needing Coalition support to ensure it can proceed with its Malaysian swap deal.


Foolish government spending on propping up dying industries

The strength of the Australian dollar, caused by a combination of a once-in-a-generation mining boom and a weak US economy, is causing waves through our economy. In fact, it has been a long time since economic reform has been so critical to our future. The boom in the mining industry is a massive positive, but the repercussions of this boom for other sectors have some negative consequences.

Given this, it is sad that some in the debate insist on playing the populist card to provide economic false hope. For instance, in recent days we've heard the manufacturing union demand more government intervention to save Aussie jobs in heavy manufacturing at the same time as it marched its vehicle builders off the job at Toyota as part of an exaggerated wage claim. Such an economically irresponsible act, at this moment, not only damages the prospects of these workers but it puts into doubt the credibility of those who claim to speak on their behalf.

The truth is that we can't save jobs by government protection, no matter what self-interested players promise. I say this because we are spending billions now trying to protect jobs and the evidence says it is not working.

The most reliable evidence is the independent annual analysis of government assistance to all industry sectors is contained in the Productivity Commission's Trade and Assistance Review, which shows that since 2004-05 the manufacturing sector has received $48.3 billion in government assistance.

The report makes the point that while net tariff assistance has declined in recent years, government assistance has increased by more than 20 per cent in real terms. In effect, the government has replaced one failed protection regime with another. At least with direct assistance, the cost is obvious for all to see.

It poses a legitimate question: is the Australian taxpayer receiving value for its nearly $50bn investment?

Take the tale of vehicle production at Mitsubishi in South Australia. For many years, South Australians were told that if Mitsubishi left it would be economic catastrophe for the local economy, thus the government had to intervene to save the jobs. While the local operations made losses every year after 1989, the taxpayer made up the shortfall. In the end, the patient refused treatment. While the end was sad on many levels, the closure of the vehicle manufacturing plant did not destroy the South Australian economy. It raises the question: why is it that some jobs are worthy of government subsidy while others are not? Ultimately, protection for one is at the expense of another. Economically, there is no such thing as a free lunch.

Again the Productivity Commission put it best: "Although assistance generally benefits the firms or industries that receive it, it typically imposes costs on other sectors of the economy."

There is a role for government to assist industries to adapt to changing environments, but taxpayers funding a romantic attachment to a bygone era is not a position the Australian economy can afford or sustain.

No one wants to see jobs lost and traditional industries leave, but providing false government hope is simply prolonging the inevitable to the cost of all taxpayers. We simply can no longer afford to be throwing good money after bad to satisfy the political posturing of a chosen few.

There will be manufacturing in Australia. It will be smart and efficient and it will not require massive government assistance to survive. Now is not the time to return to our protectionist shell; rather, it is the time to be economically ambitious so Australia can take advantage of the enormous markets of the flat world, increasing our prosperity.

John Howard said economic reform is like a running race with an ever receding finish line; the job is never done and the competition is never far away.


A sad demise

Iconic character Louie the Fly has finally been killed off

IT has taken 54 years, but the iconic cartoon character Louie the Fly has finally been killed for good.

The cartoon ambassador for pest control brand Mortein announced he no longer represented the brand's "broader range".

AdNews is reporting Mortein decided to ditch Louie to focus on the "high-tech nature of Mortein products".

Louie the Fly was created in 1957 by cartoonist Geoff Morgan and the accompanying jingle was penned by author Bryce Courtenay.

Louie would get killed in every ad, only to be resurrected in time for the next campaign.


From Brisbane to Brussels – ‘Why should we listen to you?’

Senior Australian Senator Ron Boswell takes a dim view of advice from Europe, given their much poorer economic performance than Australia, and says that Australian farmers already suffer enough from European policies without adding a carbon tax

As European stocks fell another 3% in the last week of August on the back of the basket case economies of Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain, it seems absurd the President of European Union Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, should be offering Australia economic advice, Senator Boswell said.

On the Sunday before last, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso stressed the European Union’s desire to see Australia join the “business case for fighting climate change”.

On the back of Mr Barroso’s comments the Prime Minister stated that the Federal Government wanted to make “sure that the world doesn’t take a step backwards towards protectionist measures, which ultimately destroy jobs”.

Senator Boswell said “Perhaps I could offer the President of the European Union Commission some advice, his carbon pricing remarks would be taken seriously if he would allow for Australian products to fairly enter the European market”. Currently, the European system of agricultural subsidies and programmes, or its technical name, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), represents 48% of the European Union’s budget.

The hypocrisy is Ancient Romanesque. “Why should we listen to the president of a body that cannot even effectively command the European economy?” Senator Boswell said.

As the economies of Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain continue to cause volatility in domestic and international markets, there is wide criticism of economically vulnerable schemes such as the EU CAP. The scheme artificially inflates food prices through high import tariffs (estimated to be between 18-28%) that lock out non-EU producers.

Australian National Farmers Federation economics committee chair John McKillop notes that Australian primary producers “compete on an entirely unlevel playing field”. There is 19% discrepancy between EU and Australian farm income subsidies - a potentially multi-million dollar loss in income.

President Barroso said that Europe wanted a global emissions trading agreement but “unfortunately we have not seen the same commitment from other parties, namely some of the major emitters”.

Senator Boswell said that “Australia also wants a global trading scheme where it can get access to European markets. Australian primary industry is already handicapped by the EU freezing Australian products out of their markets”. “We don’t want to put more lead in our saddle by further handicapping our primary and secondary industry with a Carbon Tax”.

“As Mr Barroso points out, the reality is a global emissions trading agreement will not happen anytime soon. Why should Australians suffer Carbon Tax pain for no environmental gain?”

Press release from Senator Boswell, Senator for Queensland. Email: Alessia.Maruca@aph.gov.au

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