Greens in Tasmania
An email from a Tasmanian reader
I live in Tasmania and have investments in George Town, which is near the proposed Pulp Mill in Bell Bay. As you might know Gunns Pty Ltd have been trying to put the mill into reality for some 7 years and have obtained all the permits, conducted all the studies etc in face of concerted and continuous Green opposition. The impoverished Northern Tasmania has been waiting with bated breath for the mill, particularly with threats to the Bell Bay Aluminium and Manganese plants due to poor profit results and lack of competitiveness. As you might know, the Greens have orchestrated a virtual destruction of the $1 billion a year Tasmanian timber industry, under their many peace deals which are never good enough, and now they are decimating grazing in Tasmania with what amounts to a practical ban on 1080, causing a wallaby plague with some 60-70% of loss of pasture in most areas. More on this later, if you are interested.
As you might know, Gunns have been falling over themselves trying to appease the Greens and obtain a "social licence", causing a huge financial damage to the company with no perceptible results. Gunns have, however, attracted attention of a billionaire investor, a Mr Chandler, of the RCC company. He was willing to buy 40% of Gunns for $150 million which would enable Gunns to start getting out of debt and eventually find a venture partner for the $2 billion mill.. The announcement was made in early February inst. The negotiations then appeared to proceed to an inexorable investment conclusion.
The greens saw a great opportunity to put themselves on the map, both in Tas and federally. Mr Bob Brown wrote a letter to Mr Chandler where he was apparently clearly trying to deter him from investing in Gunns. Mr Chandler's offsiders then came to Tasmania some two weeks ago, where they met local politicians including the Green Leader Mr McKim. He is actually a Minister for Education and also Prisons in the Green Labour government here. He, and other Greens, were strangely quiet after the meetings, quite unlike the usual howls of protest against greedy capitalists, as one would expect.
The Chandler corporation announced today that they are pulling out of the deal. They made no comment as to why.
I have no doubt that the local Greens have frightened Mr Chandler so much with their threats, that he decided that the investment was too exposed to public noise dangers. The Tas Greens have sabotaged business deals here many times in exactly the same fashion. They have caused a drop of woodchip production here to one fifth of the previous figures whilst other states have increased theirs, by going to Japan and telling them things along the lines that there are hardly any trees left here, (about 50% of the land mass is now locked away from forestry activities) and that forestry practices are defective, which they are not (see ABC interview with forestry financial consultant, Mr Eastman). They went to London to explain to the Olympic Games organisers that they should break the contract for buying parqueting wood from Tasmania since the company involved was using "native forest" (now meaning anything which is not a plantation under 20 years old, apparently). They have done similar things to Harvey Norman, I believe.
These are boycotts of business, normally prohibited under the Consumer and Competition Act 2010. If, however, the dominant purpose of this conduct is substantially related to environmental protection, the boycott protagonist is exempt (section 45DD). This effectively gives the environmentalists "a licence to lie" (Mark Poynter, forestry industry spokesman).
I think that we have a real fifth column here of the most savage variety, whose only interest is attention, publicity and fund seeking. For this they are clearly prepared to sacrifice anybody who wishes to advance himself or his community by remunerative activity. Now that the climate gurus are on the run, it may be time to turn to some other shocking practices of the Greens.
Tasmania: Greenie job destruction => reduced government revenue => deep cuts in health care
SENIOR surgeons fear budget cuts will cause catastrophic damage to the long-term viability of the state's healthcare system.
They also believe patients are being driven to near suicide, the cuts are too deep, there has been a lack of consultation on cuts and one hospital could be closed in the state's North-West.
The statements were presented to a parliamentary inquiry into budget cuts by Medical Staff Association chairman Frank Nicklason.
Dr Nicklason said senior staff had serious concerns that cuts to elective surgery would put patients' health at risk. "There are a lot of ways there can be negative impacts from delayed surgery," he said. "My overwhelming experience is that people are having to wait far too long."
A 50-year-old Hobart woman on a waiting list for serious arthritis in her knee had even contemplated suicide because she could no longer work, he said. "She got so desperate she was going to get in her car and drive into a tree."
He said the waiting list for elective surgery could be better prioritised. "I am not sure if at this stage we are doing this well enough," he said. Dr Nicklason said a drop in elective surgeries could see specialist staff heading to other states for opportunities and experience.
"A surgeon is nothing if they can't maintain their skills and reputation," he said. "A worrying number of people were considering leaving the hospital. Some specialists can't be replaced."
He said there were widespread fears that if specialist staff left in the next few years amid serious budget cuts it could take a decade or more to replace them.
Staff understood the difficulties facing governments with shrinking GST revenue and growing health needs. But, staff felt there had not been enough consultation about cuts, Dr Nicklason said.
He said there was a general consensus the state did not need the bureaucracy of three separate health networks and the Mersey Hospital could be merged with the North-West Regional Hospital in Burnie.
Darwin Mayoral candidate hits out at park and street dwellers
Most Aboriginals are quite relaxed about living in the open with minimal shelter -- so they tend to "camp" for extended periods on public land -- in parks, on beach foreshores, etc.
Since they also tend to be alcohol abusers, this is experienced as unpleasant by the rest of the community -- who avoid places where the Aborigines are camped
LORD mayoral candidate Katrina Fong Lim has vowed to rid Darwin's streets of itinerants. One of her opponents - rubbish warrior Trevor Jenkins - is homeless.
In a press release entitled "Fong Lim targets itinerants", Ms Fong Lim said Darwin residents had the right to use the city's parks, beaches and shopping centres without having to be humbugged.
"We live in an affluent society and no one should be homeless - however some people, for whatever reason, cannot conform to standard suburban living," she said.
"I believe (the) council has a role in helping address the issue whether it is through better designed and maintained public areas, examining our place in delivering appropriate services and/or looking for innovative solutions such as a possible increase of night and day patrol services."
Ms Fong Lim was quickly criticised by incumbent Graeme Sawyer and community groups, who accused her of demonising the most vulnerable members of our society. Lord Mayor Graeme Sawyer said Ms Fong Lim was taking a cheap shot at Darwin's most vulnerable in a bid to score a political point. "Itinerants and homeless people are part of our community too," he said. "It's very cheap for someone to come out and say local government should come out and do something about this."
Mr Sawyer said the council already helped itinerants through its program Homeless Connect and was working with 56 organisations on the issue. It was also working with the Government to house homeless people, he said.
NT Shelter policy officer Morgan Sabbith said homeless people had every right to use the city's parks and beaches. "This is how they live and the rest of us don't like seeing it," she said. "A lot of people have nowhere to go. "There's not enough housing; Aboriginal people are actively discriminated against when they apply for housing."
Ms Sabbith said the best thing to help homeless people was to build shower and toilet facilities around the city, East Point, and near the hospital.
Abbott plans cuts in health, defence and education jobs
A COALITION government would take the axe to public service jobs in health, defence and education as part of a promise by Tony Abbott to undertake a thorough audit of federal government spending.
Among those specifically targeted will be the public servants who scrutinise the states' spending of federal money to ensure the money is not wasted.
In a keynote economic speech delivered in Melbourne yesterday, Mr Abbott said he would establish a commission of audit which would report within four months on all areas of government spending and recommend what spending and which programs could be abolished.
He said the creation of the independent audit commission, which would be similar to one John Howard commissioned in 1996 upon winning government, would be preceded in priority only by abolishing the carbon tax and instructing the navy to turn back asylum seeker boats.
The opposition has already promised to abolish 12,000 federal public servant jobs in its first two years if elected.
Mr Abbott said yesterday he would tell his audit commission to focus on the Health and Education departments and the Defence Materiel Organisation.
He questioned why the federal Health Department has 6000 staff when "the Commonwealth doesn't actually run a single hospital or nursing home, dispense a single prescription or provide a single medical service".
Similarly, he said the Education Department did not need 5000 people when the schools are state-run, and the DMO, which oversees the procurement of defence equipment, had 7000 staff while its British counterpart made do with just 4000.
"It's vital to ensure that the Commonwealth and its agencies are only doing what they really have to do and doing it as efficiently as they reasonably can," Mr Abbott said.
The shadow treasurer, Joe Hockey, alluded to Mr Abbott's announcement in a speech on Wednesday. He said there was an "army of public servants to measure and assess the performance of the states where funding is tied to performance benchmarks".
"It does not seem to be an efficient use of resources to employ public servants to check on other public servants," he said.
The Gillard government, which has been squeezing the public service in recent years with annual enforced savings targets known as "efficiency dividends", ridiculed Mr Abbott's speech.
The Finance Minister, Penny Wong, said the Coalition had a $70 billion savings target to meet.
That figure was the equivalent of four years of Medicare payments or two years of pension payments. "It's not a few health bureaucrats," she said.
"The reality is that Tony Abbott says, 'I'm going to bring the budget back to surplus' but then he doesn't tell people how he's going to find the $70 billion worth of cuts to services to Australians that his own finance spokesperson says he needs," she said.
Mr Abbott also used yesterday's speech to draw a line under spending promises of his own. He has already alarmed sections of his party with a promised $3.3 billion paid parental leave scheme and a pledge to increase military pensions. He is also promising tax cuts in the first term, all while promising a budget surplus each year of that term.
Australian universities are dumb, say foreign students
Asians tend to have high standards in mathematics so Australian levels of competence in that would undoubtedly be disappointing
SOME Australian university courses are like being "back in grade 2", the head of an international students group says. Council of International Students Australia president Arfa Noor told an education conference the country would not attract the best and brightest from overseas until universities lifted their game.
"I don't mean to be harsh or anything but universities need to make sure that they are good enough to attract a very intelligent student," the Pakistani business student told more than 100 academics at the Universities Australia conference.
"You do hear sometimes from students who come from very good institutes back home, who work a lot, and they come into university and they say it feels like they're back in grade 2 because the things that they are being taught at a master level ... I covered at a postgraduate level."
The Melbourne Institute of Technology student said her organisation had complaints some tutors could barely speak English, class sizes were too big, and lecturers simply stood and read from slides.
"If you're from a country, especially from the Asian region, where education is very competitive ... you would have a certain level of expectations, and a lot of students are disappointed by the quality of education," she said.
But Ms Noor said students came to Australia for the experience, not just a degree, and she had loved her three years here.
However, she said universities and governments should fix accommodation and public transport issues so struggling students did not have to cram 10 to a house to save money.
About 550,000 international students study in Australia each semester and last year contributed $13.9 billion to the economy.