Tuesday, April 03, 2012
Gillard rejects carbon tax review
She's got the brains of a fowl. Can't she read the polls? Plenty of her party colleagues can. Only a major backdown has any chance of saving her and her government. But maybe she has just given up
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has rejected criticism by a dumped minister that she needs to review the carbon tax and that voters are getting fed up with the government's "spin".
Robert McClelland, who was sacked from cabinet in the last reshuffle after becoming the most senior advocate for Kevin Rudd's ill-fated pitch for the leadership, has used a series of interviews to call for a rethink of the government's direction.
The carbon tax was a "burning issue" that needed to be resolved, and the broken election promise went to the "legitimacy of government decision-making".
His comments were backed by former Queensland Labor premier Peter Beattie who told Sky News on Monday night the carbon price was too high and a review was warranted.
Mr McClelland also said voters were repulsed by a sense of political spin and wanted their MPs to be decent people who spoke with sincerity.
Ms Gillard told reporters in western Sydney on Tuesday she understood there was anger in the community about carbon pricing, but she would not be changing her position.
"I made the right decision in the nation's interest and in the interests of seizing a clean energy future," she said. "It will enable us to better support families with tax cuts, family payment increases and pension increases and we will see ... clean and renewable energy for the future."
Ms Gillard said her government was getting things done, such as the national broadband network, hospital reform, a national disability insurance scheme and taxing the profits of big mining companies to share with the rest of the nation.
"It's not about words, it's about action," she said. "It's not about spin, it's about substance. "That's the way in which I work and that's the way in which the government works."
Cabinet minister Chris Evans told reporters in Canberra, where he launched the MyUniversity website, the government was rolling out "solid policy". "There's no spinning involved in the sort of things the government's focused on," he said.
Attorney-General Nicola Roxon also rejected Mr McClelland's assessment. "He is entitled to his view, (but) I think it is our job as members of the government to constantly engage with the community ... to talk to people about what it is we are doing to make their lives easier or better," she told ABC TV. "That's what we are elected to do."
Earth to Gillard: Watch Bob Brown
BOB Brown's kooky speech to his "fellow Earthians" deserves greater scrutiny. Apart from providing an insight into the Greens plan for a universal world government, it makes clear the dilemma confronting the Gillard government.
With fewer than three in every 10 people now identifying Labor as their political party of first choice, Julia Gillard has two options: she can continue chasing the votes of her fellow Earthians to the left, or she can rejoin the contest for the mainstream Australia.
When Brown took the Hobart Town Hall stage to enthusiastic applause 10 days ago, he said: "Never before has the universe unfolded such a flower as our collective human intelligence, so far as we know." We are told he also joined in singing his own composition, the Song of the Earth.
Apparently a local ABC television crew covered the event for the Tasmanian news but it is worth pondering why the ABC, which usually pays great attention to the Greens, has failed to seriously analyse and discuss this speech in its national political coverage.
Still, all intelligent life forms can have a close encounter with the text of the third annual Green oration on the Greens leader's website.
Just a few days earlier Brown described mining magnate Clive Palmer's comments about the CIA bankrolling the Greens anti-coal campaigns as "stupid". Foreign Minister Bob Carr said he expected the US to contact him "expressing bewilderment that someone so close to Tony Abbott, the alternative prime minister, is raving about a CIA plot to wreck the Australian economy".
Palmer's comments were loopy but given Brown is in a formal alliance with the government, and he controls the balance of power in the Senate, we might expect our great and powerful friends to be more interested in his ravings.
Brown described the 20th century as a battle between "capitalism and communism" but he now sees the way forward as "some of both" -- so there's something in the speech for Beijing and Washington; McCarthy and Marx.
More importantly foreign diplomats might be perturbed by his plan for a global democracy -- which he tells us came to him like a comet under a starry night sky.
He suggests one vote one value in Earth's parliament, which should suit the Chinese and the Indians -- although on my calculations if there is a seat for the people of Tuvalu (population 9800) there will need to be more than 130,000 seats for China (population 1.33 billion). Some parliament.
And, thinking just like a senator, Brown also wants an upper house where every country will get one seat. This will make the UN General Assembly seem, well, replicated.
Brown listed four goals for the Earth parliament: Economy, Equality, Ecology and Eternity.
"The pursuit of eternity is no longer the prerogative of the gods," said the Greens leader, "it is the business of us all, here and now." It is not a bad ploy for a politician: promise eternity and who can prove you failed to deliver it?
The most alarming aspect of the speech was the cataclysmic view that underpinned it.
"We have to manage the terrifying facts that Earth's citizenry is already using 120 per cent of the planet's productive capacity."
Brown suggested that other intelligent life forms may have "come and gone" in the cosmos but "have extincted themselves". He says we faced an "accelerating catastrophe" of our own making.
"Let us have the comet of global democracy save life on Earth this time," he decreed.
Australian voters should read this speech and not just as sport. Given the Greens are in effective coalition with Labor and have unashamedly dictated government policy in crucial areas, we should all be informed -- if not alarmed.
This is particularly so for people who support the Labor Party or its old values.
The election result in Queensland and last week's devastating national Newspoll result demonstrate how the Greens are sucking the life out Labor.
And like the beautiful victims in the vampire movies, the ALP is willingly offering up its neck.
The Greens rejected Kevin Rudd's emissions trading scheme, triggering a crisis of confidence and political belief that culminated in his demise.
Then after the 2010 election the Greens offered Julia Gillard a path to power. Their price -- paid with too little resistance -- was a carbon tax and the Prime Minister's credibility.
Yet the more Labor gives to the Greens the more they want. And Labor has followed them, chasing its former supporters to the left instead of trying to fight for the middle ground.
All the evidence suggests this will prove fatal, not just to a transient government but to the prospects for the party across the nation for some time to come.
Apart from the carbon tax, Labor has given the Greens a $10 billion green energy fund, undermining the economic credibility of the government's carbon tax package. The ALP has also fallen for the Greens-generated gay marriage push -- not necessarily unwise or unpopular except that a government struggling with the basics is signalling to the electorate that it might have its priorities wrong.
Similarly the Greens have lured the Gillard government into an argument with the media and an ill-advised excursion into media regulation. The green agenda has pushed state Labor governments to favour wind turbines and solar schemes that continue to push up power prices; and desalination plants, obsolete already, that have driven up water rates.
In the Labor-Green alliance it is the Greens agenda that has triumphed but it is Labor that has paid the price.
Just to rub it in, Greens senator Lee Rhiannon told me on Sky News on the weekend that "Labor's problems are of Labor's making; it's like they don't have confidence in themselves and they've lost the confidence of the electorate."
Those words demonstrate clearly that the parasite on the left wing of politics is happy to kill its host. "For a long time Labor has tried to walk both sides of the road," Rhiannon said, shamelessly claiming Labor had abandoned workers for corporations and failed to protect public assets. To cap it off, this senator for the party that forced Labor's hand on a carbon tax, audaciously suggested that Labor needed to focus on cost of living issues.
Earth to Julia Gillard: these Green Earthians are not your friends.
Australian government should legalise and tax drugs, report says
Bob Carr agrees but Gillard has already rejected the advice. Criminalizing something that most Australians do at some stage seems crazy to me and I have never smoked ANYTHING -- not even a cigarette. Sure pot is harmful but so is alcohol
THE war on drugs has failed according to a new report calling for a national debate on the controversial topic of decriminalising drugs.
The report, released today, urges politicians to face the taboo subject. It says a massive re-think is needed to tackle the illegal drug trade that allows organised crime to flourish and is "killing our children".
The report draws on the views of high profile Australians and health experts. Its verdict is that the tough law and order approach is doing more harm than good.
Put together by not-for-profit think-tank Australia21, the report includes the views of former federal law enforcement officers, health ministers, and premiers, including Foreign Minister Bob Carr, former NSW health minister Michael Wooldridge and former West Australian premier Geoff Gallop.
Former NSW Director of Public Prosecutions Nicholas Cowdery is quoted as being "strongly in favour of legalising, regulating, controlling and taxing all drugs".
"A first step towards such a regime could be decriminalisation, similar to the approach adopted 10 years ago in Portugal or an adaptation of that approach," he writes. But he does not advocate making all drugs available to "anybody wanting them".
Australia21 stops short of directly backing decriminalisation but one former top prosecutor says in the report drugs should be legalised, regulated and taxed to control use.
Ahead of the report's release today, Senator Carr said he supported decriminalising low-level drug use but stressed he did not want illicit substances as readily available as cigarettes and alcohol.
"A bit of modest decriminalisation, de facto decriminalisation at the edges, simply freeing up police to be doing the things they ought to be doing would be a sensible way of going about it," he told Channel 7.
Senator Carr said decriminalisation would enable police to direct their resources elsewhere. "I was very frustrated, from time to time, when I heard about police with sniffer dogs at railway stations hoping to catch people with small quantities of marijuana or raiding nightclubs hoping to get people with ecstasy," he said.
Senator Carr, whose brother Greg died of a heroin overdose in 1981, said he was proud to have opened a medically supervised injecting room at Kings Cross when he ran NSW.
"As premier I sponsored a medically supervised injecting room so that people who are hooked on this wretched, addictive white powder ... would have a chance," he said. "While they were there, you could persuade them to give the stuff up and to enter treatment to get off it."
Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said there is not yet a lot of evidence that decriminalising drugs would improve the situation.
While a parallel was often drawn with legal drugs like alcohol, there was a valid argument that alcohol regulation was not working when there were high rates of teenage binge drinking.
"The fact that we have challenges in being able to stop illicit drugs doesn't necessarily mean that deregulating it entirely and making them legal is going to prove the right solution," she told ABC radio.
Policymakers had to tread very cautiously in the area. "As a government we're always interested and happy to engage in debate," Ms Roxon said. "But there's a pretty high threshold that they're going to have to get over to convince not just the government but the community that this would be a positive step."
Paramedics can't say why they left a man for dead
AMBULANCE Victoria can't explain how a man was mistakenly declared dead in a car wreck but says the paramedics involved are unlikely to face disciplinary action.
State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers were in the process of removing what they thought was a corpse from the wreckage of a Porsche yesterday when they discovered the man had a "feeble pulse".
Two intensive care paramedics were called back to the scene and the critically injured driver, a 30-year-old Hawthorn man, was treated and taken to the Royal Melbourne Hospital where he is fighting for life.
Ambulance Victoria regional manager Simon Thomson could not explain how the paramedics concluded that the man was dead, despite having a "cursory discussion" with them last night.
"Paramedics use a process to assess whether someone has died or not. We're not clear of the exact circumstances on this occasion," he told reporters today.
"However, what we do know is that a man was extensively trapped in the vehicle and that that has been a factor in terms of paramedics being able to access him to assess him."
An investigation has been launched but Mr Thomson said it would take several days to get a clearer picture of what went wrong.
The two highly experienced paramedics are traumatised and did not complete their shifts on Sunday night. They are presently on rostered days off and and would be unlikely to face disciplinary action, Mr Thomson said.
"We need to understand exactly what's happened and, if there are any gaps in our processes, we will review that with the staff," he said.
"If it's an area of clinical judgment we'll deal with it through retraining and supporting the staff."
A CAR crash victim pronounced dead by paramedics but later found to be alive has been taken off the critical list.
The 30-year-old Hawthorn man was critically injured after his Porsche and a four-wheel drive collided near Bacchus Marsh, west of Melbourne, about 2am (AEST) on Sunday.
He was moments away from being taken to the morgue when rescue volunteers disregarded paramedics' advice, discovering he was still alive.
The man has been fighting for his life in the Royal Melbourne Hospital but his condition has improved slightly to serious but stable.
The man had been pronounced dead for more than an hour and covered in a plastic tarp when State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers found a pulse.
They had earlier seen the man's body shudder and twitch as he hung upside down from his mangled car, but were reassured by paramedics that movement from a corpse was not unusual.
An investigation has been launched.