Friday, October 21, 2011


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is celebrating the death of Gaddafi by wishing the same fate on Mugabe

Ya gotta laugh: Warmists now say warming will bring more floods to Australia

When we were in drought the Warmists warned of more drought. Maybe we will have wet droughts!

Australia can expect more frequent devastating floods like those in Queensland this year, and the world is facing decades of unprecedented hardship as a result of climate change, according to the chief scientific adviser to the British government.

"We are facing what I believe will be unprecedented difficult times over the next 20 to 40 years," Professor Sir John Beddington warned. He was speaking as chairman of a panel of scientists launching a major international report about the effects of climate change on people.

The report predicts that migration will increase markedly; that millions will move into, rather than away from, environmentally vulnerable areas; and millions more will be affected but not be able to move.

According to the head of the school of geography and the environment at Oxford University, Professor David Thomas, the cities most affected would include Singapore, Shanghai, Calcutta, Dhaka in Bangladesh, and the towns and villages of the Vietnamese delta.

Australia would experience rising sea levels too but "it will respond differently because of its different economy", he said.

The report says that by 2060, up to 179 million people will be trapped in low-lying coastal floodplains subject to extreme weather events such as floods, storm surges, landslides and rising sea levels, unable to migrate because they are too poor or ill-equipped, or because they are restricted by political or geographic boundaries.

Two-thirds of the world's cities with populations of more than 5 million are at least partially located in coastal zones, including rapidly growing urban centres in Asian and African "mega-deltas", the report said.

Other large cities would suffer water shortages, with 150 million people already living in cities where water is limited.

"Cities need to be more strategic about their location," said Neil Adger, a professor of environmental economics and program leader at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.

Migration and Global Environmental Change is the result of a two-year peer-reviewed project by 350 specialists in 30 countries. It was released yesterday by Foresight, part of the British Government Office for Science, which sits within the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Speaking after the launch, Sir John told the Herald that Australia should not expect the La Nina phenomenon that triggered the Queensland floods to be a once-in-a-generation event. The next one could not be predicted but it would return much more frequently than in the past.


Tax flaw: Australian power bills may rise 20% under Green tax

ELECTRICITY generators have written to all senators warning that unless the carbon tax laws are amended consumers could face power price rises of 20 per cent in the first year rather than the 10 per cent increase on which the government has calculated its household compensation.

The Energy Supply Association is angry the government plans to force immediate payment for forward-dated emission permits, rather than the deferred payment allowed under the former Rudd government's emissions trading scheme.

The generators' association delivered its warning as the Treasury secretary, Martin Parkinson, said he and his colleagues might have to "make a choice with their feet" should the Coalition win office and direct them to dismantle the carbon trading scheme.
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Also, the Coalition warned yesterday that the government's $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which will help fund green investment, would "be a honeypot to every white shoe salesman imaginable".

The opposition finance spokesman, Andrew Robb, said the fund would be spent on "all sorts of wild and wacky proposals that the banks would not touch in a fit".

Mr Robb said he was referring to "those energy companies who have been critical but who have strong interests in renewables and could potentially be major beneficiaries of these subsidies." The opposition would scrap the fund.

The Energy Supply Association says the change from deferred payment means some cash-strapped generators will not be able to afford to nail down their carbon price liability by entering into forward contracts with retailers and big industrial companies and instead power prices will rise as they try to manage their financial risk.

"Our members need to begin purchasing forward permits … if they can't afford to they won't be able to lock in a future price for carbon … and that means prices will rise," said the association's interim chief executive, Clare Savage.

Modelling by the economic consultancy ACIL Tasman found that even a 5 per cent reduction in forward electricity contracts could lead to an additional 10 per cent price rise for households and 15 per cent for big electricity users.

"And that's in a single year," Ms Savage said. "You could have two years in a row of that, which would dwarf the carbon price impact.

"It is the Senate's job to fix obvious errors and in our view there is an obvious error in these bills. We have drafted an amendment and … just 20 words and they could fix this problem."

Dr Parkinson secretary has worked on three versions of the scheme for three prime ministers, heading the secretariat that drafted John Howard's emissions trading scheme, running Kevin Rudd's Climate Change Department and helping draw up the Gillard government's scheme as Treasury head.

Asked in a Senate hearing yesterday whether he would assist a government elected on a policy of rescinding the carbon tax he had helped build, the Treasury secretary said as a public servant he would serve the Australian people through the government of the day.

"Everybody has a choice in front of them," he said. "If they are not prepared to implement the policies the government chooses to pursue, and that government has been democratically elected, then they essentially have to make a choice with their feet."

On the issue of payment for permits, Ms Savage said the government had "its head in the sand" and the Coalition was not advocating the industry's proposed changes either.

The government is proposing to auction 15 million forward-dated pollution permits in 2012-13, and the electricity generators say they would like to buy 10 times more than that but do not have the working capital to pay for the impost immediately.

The Senate will vote on the carbon tax laws next month.

The government is offering loans to generators struggling to find the cash to buy future permits but the generators have criticised the measure because the loans are above commercial rates.

Businesses have also been warning about price rises due to the financial risks caused by the Coalition's promise to repeal the carbon tax. The Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, said yesterday those claims were coming from companies who could profit from carbon pricing.

Dr Parkinson said the choice about staying in his job might not be his to make. "Whether I was secretary of the Treasury would be a matter for the prime minister of the day," he said.


Vague laws let courts dictate public morality

SOME recent cases, including the prosecution of News Limited columnist Andrew Bolt, highlight the dangers that flow from the assertion of group rights.

Relying on legislation such as the Commonwealth Racial Discrimination Act and the Victorian Racial and Religious Tolerance Act, groups of individuals have claimed offence at public comments on the basis that the allegedly offensive comments promote intolerance.

In fact, the idea of toleration, famously espoused by John Locke in his 1689 Letter Concerning Toleration, is being turned on its head. In it, Locke sought to distinguish the business of civil government from that of religion.

Written when controversy surrounded the idea that Catholics should be able to practise their religion in Protestant England, or Jews or Muslims enjoy religious freedom in a Christian nation, Locke argued that the state and the church had separate functions. He sought to find a way that people of different religious beliefs could live together.

As summarised by Jonathan Sacks, toleration "aims not so much at truth but at peace. It is a political necessity, not a religious imperative, and it arises when people have lived through the alternative: the war of all against all." Hence the political separation of faith and power; of church and state: "No person shall be compelled to support any religious worship, but all persons shall be free to profess their religious opinions."

Today the issue is not only religion. It extends to cultural identity and multiculturalism.

If the new philosopher-judges, such as the court in the Bolt case, subscribe to one view of these matters, they are little different from the theologian-judges before the Lockean settlement.

This is occurring when the political notion that the law should not intrude into areas of private behaviour has been transformed into the moral assertion that a person now has the right to do anything not precluded by law.

The political judgment about the boundaries of the law is now translated into a moral judgment about rights.

What one was permitted to do now becomes what one has the right to do. And having asserted a right, many insist it should be protected by the law.

Hence Locke's political toleration has been combined with the new moral relativism.

As Sacks cautions, "When political liberalism is combined with moral relativism it reconnects morality and politics, the very thing liberalism was supposed to avoid."

A moral judgment that liberalism allowed a person to express in the realm of faith and religion, or today culture and identity -- for example about religious belief, including the alleged beliefs, customs or practices of other religions -- is now swept into the political realm.

In morally relative politics, a right to do something must be protected as a new human right. Not only is the activity now a right, but the people involved are right (or at least as right as anyone else). To say otherwise is intolerant. Such intolerance is discriminatory and should be punished. How the wheel has turned in three centuries.

One of the great achievements of the political liberalism of the 17th and 18th centuries was the idea that the individual is the foundation of the polity. The law treated individuals as its basis. This notion was foundational to liberal democracy.

Hence in the spirit of this development, the 1776 US Declaration of Independence boldly asserted that "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed".

Under this formulation, it is the individual who possesses political rights and whose consent legitimates government. It was a rejection of the idea that rights subsisted in classes of people, whether determined by birth, hierarchy or membership of a particular group. It is central to the liberal democratic experiment.

Increasingly, however, rights are now being asserted on behalf of groups. A claim is made for example, that the expression of a moral judgment about the beliefs, statements or actions of another group should be unlawful because it is offensive to members of the group or that it is likely to insult that group.

Whereas the laws of defamation protect the individual against libel and slander, it is now claimed that moral judgments or observations about a group should be unlawful and punishable. This is a significant shift.

The main fault lies with the parliaments that have created vague laws from abstract principles about which judges can be tempted to conclusively determine public morality on issues such as speech and thought in a multicultural society.

Laws that enable groups, rather than individuals, to assert rights should be repealed before we head any further down this dangerous path.


Julia Gillard's great leap backwards to the trashy 1970s

by: Greg Sheridan

PERHAPS no decade saw more wretched national government in Australia than the 1970s. We started with Billy McMahon, manifestly not up to the job, who presided over the last, worst years of Coalition rule. Then came the economic catastrophe of the Whitlam government. It is the fashion these days to be nice to Gough, and it is a good fashion. But his government was an economic disaster. Unemployment skyrocketed, industry was crippled, inflation went out of control.

The size of government grew enormously. Then we ended the decade with Malcolm Fraser's government: patrician, arrogant and right-wing in tone, but in substance feeble, ineffective, incapable of dealing with global economic change.

During this period Australia acquired a toxic reputation. Although the comment came later, it was this period that led to Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew to say that Australia risked becoming the "poor white trash of Asia". At that time and afterwards, management books were written that contrasted Japan's seamless social co-operation with the devastating combination of excessive government regulation, union militancy and the inefficiency of Australian business.

Unions were at the heart of the Australian disease of the 70s. They were thuggish, powerful, intrusive, authoritarian, often deeply ideological and sometimes corrupt. They were protected by, and ran, the Australian Labor Party, which had as close a union affiliation as any governing party in the world.

It took a long time for Australia to recover from the bad name we acquired in the 70s. I caused a diplomatic incident once after I had interviewed a senior Japanese economics minister. The interview was dull. Like most Japanese ministers he would do no more than recite extracts from recent speeches in the interview. But that night at a dinner, which I thought was on the record but he thought was off the record, he answered some questions honestly. And he said words to the effect that Australia was notoriously the hardest country in the world to do business in. It was almost impossible to manage the unions sensibly, a point Lee and many other foreign leaders often made.

The union model in the 70s was to help secure government protection for an industry and then claim outrageous pay and conditions that made the industry completely uncompetitive and put an ever greater strain on government protection. Eventually, of course, it broke down.

Now, under the leadership of Julia Gillard, Australia is rushing back to the toxic norms of the 70s, back beyond all the reforms of the Hawke, Keating and Howard governments.

Consider the news items of recent weeks. The Qantas brand, one of Australia's few national champions recognised internationally in any industry, is being systematically trashed by savage, irresponsible union action in support of wage and conditions claims far more excessive than those in comparable airlines. It takes decades to build up a good reputation but it can be destroyed fairly quickly. The unions apparently think Qantas will always be profitable because of its de facto protection on domestic routes and because no government would ever allow it to go out of business.

Consider some other items. The Australian Building and Construction Commission pointed to thuggery and physical abuse committed by union figures in the building industry, And indeed the militancy of building unions is now a big deterrent to infrastructure projects in capital cities.

Toyota, the recipient of endless government largesse as are all the domestic car companies, has faced a series of industrial actions by its unions to get better pay and conditions. The Gillard government has systematically increased union power andwe are paying both an economic and reputational price.

Under Bob Hawke, Paul Keating and John Howard, economic reform meant lower taxes, less red tape, increased productivity and a better environment under which to invest. But in the days of Whitlam, and to an extent of McMahon and Fraser, reform had a completely different meaning. It invariably meant increased government regulation, increased government activism and higher taxes.

Under the Gillard government, reform has the Whitlam, McMahon, Fraser meaning. Thus any new, vast and especially expensive social entitlement is a "reform". The keystone reform of the Gillard government is the carbon tax. This is a massive new tax that will yield government many billions of dollars of extra revenue and is all predicated on the ideological faith that a global carbon trading scheme will come into being, though this scheme has no chance at all of ever amounting to anything with credibility or substance.

In every sense, the carbon tax is a perfect 70s reform. In the McMahon and Whitlam eras, the national debate was entirely around the redistribution of national income. It was not about how to generate that national income.

Hawke, Keating and Howard operated on the basis that the world didn't automatically owe Australia a living, that we had to earn that living. Hawke especially was the first prime minister in decades to drum that lesson into the Australian people. The carbon tax, like all the Gillard reforms, proceeds from the assumption that Australia's basic wealth is assured.

The Gillard government can point to relatively low unemployment and government debt in Australia by international standards. But in this respect the Gillard government is like the pre-Whitlam Coalition governments, simply existing off Australia's resources wealth. At the moment all resource-based economies look good, whether that's Russia, Indonesia or Australia. This has very little to do with brilliant economic management. That, essentially, was the pre-Hawke Australian economic model. Our natural resource endowments made us wealthy; everything else was just a way of spending the wealth.

Now we are squandering what may be a non-permanent resources boom. As in the 70s we are chronically in budget deficit. As in the 70s, our non-mining productivity performance is woeful. As in the 70s, we are acquiring the international reputation of being a quarry, a farmand a few good beaches. It is as meaningless, in terms of good economic policy, for us to talk about our trade figures as it is for Saudi Arabia.

And in foreign policy and defence we have become, as in the 70s, essentially irresponsible. Despite our boom and general government profligacy, defence spending is at a paltry 1.8 per cent of GNP. We have never been more Asia illiterate. In absolute numbers, there were more Australian senior school students studying Indonesian in the 70s than now.

We have, as in the 70s, produced a destructive ideological Left. The Greens play the same role as did the Socialist Left of the Labor Party, in alliance with the communist groups, in the 70s, and indeed often they are direct family descendants or indeed ex-communists who have changed formal party allegiance. These forces represent a broad stream of essentially nihilist philosophical rejection of modern Western society and, as in the 70s, are given massive assistance by taxpayer-funded cultural organisations such as the ABC.

Our basic international image is changing fundamentally because of regressive government leadership. In some ways the Gillard government is intensely reactionary, following slavishly a wholly discredited economic and social model of four decades ago. We are stepping back two generations. It's a very bad way to govern a very lucky country.


1 comment:

Paul said...

Mugabe hasn't pissed off Israel and isn't sitting on a dirty great oil well, so he will go on living unmolested.