Monday, November 03, 2014

Abbott's voluntary carbon scheme now law

With the backing of Mr Palmer's senators and crossbenchers Nick Xenophon and John Madigan, the policy passed the Senate after a marathon sitting that went into Friday morning.

At the heart of Direct Action is a $2.55 billion Emissions Reduction Fund. While the carbon tax encouraged reductions in emissions by penalising polluters, Direct Action works on the reverse principle.

Instead, the government will pay emitters to reduce their carbon footprint.

Firms will bid for taxpayers' money at a so-called "reverse auction". Those that propose to get most carbon reduction for the dollar win the government funding

With the fund are a series of programs, some carried on from Labor, which earmark how the reductions must be made. Reforestation of degraded land, carbon capture by farmers, improved indigenous land clearing techniques and energy efficiency initiatives on a "grand scale" are all eligible.

There is very little encouragement for wind, hydro and solar energy, but plenty of support for the Coalition's traditional constituents in big business and regional Australia.

And the scheme, unlike the carbon tax or other types of emissions trading scheme, is voluntary.

The fund is the carrot, the stick is less well-defined. Penalties for those who opt out, continue polluting and jeopardise Australia's international obligation of a 5 per cent reduction in emissions by 2020 are yet to be defined and won't kick in for almost two years.

Mr Hunt said this week he didn't expect any businesses to be penalised.

For the government, Direct Action is a win for the environment and the hip pocket;  direct action will achieve "real and significant" emissions reductions even as the repeal of the carbon tax eases pressure on household power bills.

Will direct action work?

There is evidence to back the government's claim that power bills are being cut due to the carbon tax, or at least are lower than they would be. The latest Australian Consumer and Competition Commission assessment reports that savings on electricity bills will vary between 5 and 12 per cent, for a maximum annual saving to household of $263.

But whether Mr Hunt's confident assurance that the outlay of $2.5 billion in taxpayer funds will be enough to meet Australia's modest target of reducing carbon emission in 2020 by 5 per cent compared to levels in 2000 remains highly contested.

Almost all the modelling conducted by private firms, some of them linked to clean energy industry, find that it will fall well short.

Market analysis firm Reputex says it will achieve just 20 to 30 per cent of the greenhouse gas reductions needed to satisfy the 5 per cent goal.

Research commissioned by the Climate Institute says a shortfall would mean the government will have to spend an extra $4 billion to meet the obligation, which is a binding commitment.

"I wouldn't be quite so categorical that we won't reach the target," said Frank Jotzo, director of the Centre for Climate Economics and Policy at the Australian National University.

Trends towards greater energy efficiency, the decline of the manufacturing sector, a drop in demand for residential electricity due to high prices and investing in solar could all mean the 5 per cent goal is met, even if the contribution from Direct Action is minimal.

Even so, it's an extremely costly way of delivering lower carbon emissions, argues Mr Jotzo, and completely inadequate when it comes to reducing emissions beyond the currently mandated 5 per cent decline.

By the end of next year at a UN-sponsored summit in Paris, Australia will be required to join other nations in committing to further reductions in greenhouse gases well beyond 2020.

"There's an expectation that something quite significant will happen in Paris. There will be significant reductions in emissions. You just can't scale up Direct Action to deal with that without costing huge amounts of money."

Subsidising industry rather than using market forces to achieve a policy outcome is at odds with the philosophy of the government, not to mention its core policy objective of repairing the budget deficit.

The approach has always puzzled analysts, although Greens leader Christine Milne believes it is explained by the government's desire to look after its mates.

Such exhortations against big capital by the Greens might be considered pro forma.

But the Abbott government's ties to big business, and the mining and energy sector in particular, have no precedent in modern political history.

The Business Council of Australia chairman and chief economist helmed the government's commission of audit into the state of the budget.

The BCA, which represents the chief executives of Australia's biggest companies, was also instrumental in developing the government's industry policy released last month, where two of the five sectors earmarked for special assistance were in the mining sector.

The mining industry spent an extraordinary $22 million in six weeks during 2010 to discredit the mining tax, and has also provided political and financial support to Abbott's anti-carbon tax campaign.

An analysis of political donations by the Greens, sourced from Australian Electoral Commission data, show the fossil fuel sector donated $11.8 million to the major parties over the past 15 years, of which $8 million went to the Coalition.

Mr Palmer, too, benefits financially from the government's climate change approach. His Queensland nickel refinery is an emitter that paid almost $10 million in carbon taxes. It could now apply for a Direct Action subsidy to reduce emissions.

His extensive coalmining tenements in Queensland's Galilee Basin means he has an interest in the ongoing success of coal-fired power generators, big winners with the end of the carbon tax.

After announcing the policy backflip, Mr Palmer spruiked the merits of "clean" Australian coal as a solution to global warming.

Questions of whether Mr Palmer always intended to put his business interests first will linger. Certainly, the mining magnate began his journey into politics after Campbell Newman's Liberal National government in Queensland refused to support a proposed rail line that would serve his as yet undeveloped coalmines.

Until then, the former press secretary to Queensland premier Joh Bjelke Petersen was the party's major donor and a Coalition grandee.

Those who advised Mr Palmer insist the assessment is too harsh.

Don Henry, the former boss of the Australian Conservation Foundation, led the negotiations with Mr Palmer on behalf of Mr Gore.

He says Mr Palmer is a "complex character" who is "genuinely interested in a clean economy".

"He's genuinely wants to champion an ETS," says Mr Henry, adding "there was never any expectation that the government would immediately embrace it".

"It's good that the Climate Change Authority has been saved and given an additional and important role to look at an ETS and to look at the international targeting. I think it's an important step forward."

The stay of execution for the CCA, which is independent and advises government on what a future emissions reduction target should be and how to achieve it,  was the government's "gesture" to compensate Mr Palmer for rejecting his demand for an ETS with a price on carbon of zero that would rise as other countries embraced emissions reduction.

Despite a draft being circulated among press gallery staff in Canberra, the terms of reference for the review, let alone a plan to replace about 20 CCA staff who have resigned since the Coalition took office, are not yet forthcoming. At any rate, Mr Hunt, almost gleefully, said he will ignore any recommendation in favour of an ETS, as the body has done before.

"Our position is absolutely clear. We've just abolished the carbon tax and we're not about to reinstitute it whether you call it a carbon tax or an ETS," Mr Hunt told Fairfax Radio.


Australia's crooked BOM again

Heat is on the Weather Bureau after MP accuses it of wiping 118-year-old temperature records to justify claims of climate change

An MP will launch an inquiry which accuses the Bureau of Meteorology of manipulating figures on the impact of climate change.

George Christensen, member off the Nationals party, claimed the Bureau had 'fudged' records of rising temperatures as well as tampering with older data in order to justify claims of climate change.

The member for the seat of Dawson in Queensland used records from a drought in 1896, when temperatures reached 50C in Camden, south-west of Sydney, as well as 43C in Geelong, south-west of Melbourne.

Speaking in parliament on Wednesday, Mr Christensen said: 'I rise to paint a picture of Camden. A picture where Camden, just to the south-west of Sydney, is sweltering in 50C heat.'

He cited that in the summer of 1896 alone, there were 435 instances of heat related deaths.

'The Bureau of Meteorology claims it's getting hotter and hotter. How can last year be the hottest on record if it was hotter back in 1896, 118 years ago?' 'It's relatively simple: the early years are simply wiped from the official record.'

Mr Christensen claimed you can find the values he is referring to on the Bureau website, but they are not part of the official temperature record the bureau uses to report on climate change issues.

He said the Bureau was also involved in a process of tampering with the raw data so the past appeared cooler than the present.

'Obviously if you drop down temperatures from the past, all the later temperatures will appear warmer even if they are not,' he said.

'We cannot use fudged figures skewed to support a global warming hypothesis. We have a scientific process being tainted at the source.'

Mr Christensen said he would use evidence of the Bureau's misconduct to launch an inquiry this week.

Senator Simon Birmingham, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment, told Daily Mail Australia 'the country's climate record and the methods used for analysis by the Bureau were independently reviewed by international experts in 2012 to ensure quality assurance, transparency and communication''

'The review concluded that the Bureau's data and methods for climate analysis were among the best in the world,' Mr Birmingham said.

'The review also recommended that a regular and independent technical forum occur to ensure continuous confidence in and improvement of this dataset.

'These measures should give all Australians confidence that the Bureau is continually striving to deliver the most accurate climate records, based on the best available scientific methodologies.'


Sydney:  Muslim gang implodes

In the end, it was not the armed robberies, the extortions or the drug deals that undid them. It was the brothers themselves.

After six on-and-off years of waging war on Sydney's streets, police declared the Brothers for Life gang dead this week with all key members behind bars or allegedly killed by their own.

"I'd like to think this is the final nail in the coffin," Homicide Squad commander Michael Willing said  this week following the charging of leader Farhad Qaumi, 33, with two murders.
Crime scene of police officer David Rixon who was fatally shot yesterday in Tamworth in the course of his duties. Deputy Commissioner Nick Kaldas and other senior officers before addressing media outside Tamworth police station.

The toll has been high. More than 300 charges have been laid against 21 members including extortions, home invasions and cocaine supply. The internal war resulted in two murders, 11 shootings, two knee-cappings and several bashings.

After being appointed "general" by gang founder Bassam Hamzy in 2013, Qaumi ran a ruthless operation, often bashing members savagely if they didn't follow orders, according to a police statement of facts submitted in court on Monday.

But police allege power and money went to his head, causing the gang's Blacktown and Bankstown chapters to turn on each other, with relations souring so rapidly that they effectively imploded.

Qaumi "utilised fear and physical violence to recruit and control young members of the Afghan community into committing violent acts, supplying drugs and perpetrating multiple shootings, in a bid to overpower the Bankstown chapter, whose members are primarily of Lebanese background," according to the police statement of facts on the gang obtained by The Sun-Herald.

As tensions over drug territory and extortions increased, paranoia got the better of Qaumi, police say.

On October 28, 2013, Qaumi was at the Anytime Fitness gym in Parramatta when a friend, Amanda Crowe, allegedly told him that she had heard through her incarcerated husband that Bankstown leader Mohammed "Hammoudie" Hamzy was trying to have him killed, according to the police.
Four Brothers for Life members have turned and are now cooperating with the police, exposing the inner workings of the gang.

Four Brothers for Life members have turned and are now cooperating with the police, exposing the inner workings of the gang.

He immediately gathered his brothers Mumtaz and Jamil and other members to meet at the Armani Restaurant in Parramatta, allegedly to plan the murder of Hamzy.

He was "furious" about the threat on his life, police allege in the court documents.

Two members of the Bankstown chapter arrived at the restaurant by chance, giving Qaumi more reason to believe the hit was imminent. He lied and told the Bankstown pair his crew had gathered because they were about to "do a drug rip".

The group moved to Granville Park where police allege Qaumi told his "soldiers" it was either him or Hamzy that would die that night.

Just after midnight, as the police document describes, Qaumi and Mumtaz allegedly went to the Coolibah Hotel in Merrylands so they would have an alibi. Crowe allegedly drove Jamil Qaumi, Navid Khalili and Mohammed Zarshoy to Hamzy's Revesby Heights home where a hidden police camera captured them jumping out of the car, storming the garage wearing black hoods and opening fire.

However, police believe they mistook Hamzy's cousin Mahmoud for him. After unleashing a hail of bullets, Jamil Qaumi allegedly walked up to Mahmoud Hamzy and fired twice into his head. Mohammed had escaped out the back door and survived.

Farhad Qaumi fled to Thailand in a state of fear but the shootings did not stop. There were a further four shootings in three weeks, including the accidental shooting of a relative of Bankstown member Masood Zakari and the shooting of three men outside the Chokolatta Cafe in Bankstown, one of whom was allegedly targeted because he had links to a real estate agent who knew Qaumi's address, police had earlier disclosed.

Police had to swoop immediately and adopted Al Capone-style tactics, locking them up on smaller offences to allow time to build a brief of evidence for bigger charges.

Chicago crime boss Capone was ultimately jailed in 1931 for tax evasion rather than the suspected murder of gangland rivals.

Ten members were arrested in November and the Qaumi brothers were put in custody in January, initially on charges including unlicensed firearms, animal cruelty and drug supply.

However, their list of charges has grown to almost 150 between them, including murder charges laid against all three on Monday.

"Brothers for Life were hit from all angles and had no room to move," Deputy Commissioner Nick Kaldas said, referring to a multi-pronged strategy of pro-active raids and investigations by multiple squads including local police, drugs, Middle Eastern Organised Crime and the gun crime-focused Operation Talon.

Crucially, four gang members have rolled over, exposing the inner workings of the gang.

One of them, a senior member known as Witness D, sent an anonymous text message to police on the night of the Hamzy murder saying that Farhad and Mumtaz Qaumi organised the hit and attended the Coolibah Hotel to provide an alibi, the police statement of facts said.

However, questions will be raised about whether Qaumi's downfall truly signals the death of Brothers for Life.

The reality is that the group has ebbed and flowed since 2008 when Bassam Hamzy first converted Supermax inmates to Islam and built a loyal group of followers.

The group waned after Hamzy was caught making 19,523 calls using a smuggled mobile phone.

But, their insignia reappeared on western Sydney streets in 2010 in extortion attempts.

Following the murder of Yehye Amood in 2012, the gang's influence flared again. When leaders have been imprisoned or killed, Hamzy has always managed to appoint another.

Former prisons boss Ron Woodham called Hamzy one of the greatest threats to jail security he had ever encountered, a person who could influence prisoners and orchestrate events on the outside even while in the highest security facility.

"Despite the fact that we have dismantled the Brothers for Life leadership, we cannot rest on our laurels," Deputy Commissioner Kaldas said. "There are still a number of people and gangs out on our streets who are willing to resort to mindless violence ... to settle criminal disputes."


Caught in the Play School of pure evil

LAST week, Australians were asking how a 17-year-old boy could wind up in Syria fronting a propaganda video for the barbaric terrorist gang IS.

On Wednesday night, the Seven Network ran an edited clip of a YouTube video showing a group of adult men coaching four Australian children aged six to 13 in a chant designed to rally Muslims to violently destroy Australian society and assassinate world leaders.

It answered the question posed by the so-called “ginger jihadi” Abdullah Elmir’s appearance in the IS video.

It also severely undercut last weekend’s mosque open day, calculated to whitewash the image of militant Islam that has attached itself to large sections of Sydney’s Muslim community since the unprovoked 2005 attacks on surfers at Cronulla by young Muslim men apparently inflamed by the sight of women bathers wearing bikinis.

As the deluded Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali suggested the following year, alluding to immodestly dressed women generally and linking them to a group of young Lebanese Muslim men who had received lengthy jail sentences for a series of brutal pack rapes, abandoned “meat” attracts ravenous animals.

He said there were women who “sway suggestively” and wore make-up and immodest dress and “then you get a judge without mercy and gives you 65 years”.

Bilal Skaf, the leader of the gang who raped and terrorised a number of young women in 2000, was initially sentenced to 55 years jail but had that term reduced on appeal.

“If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, and the cats come and eat it ... whose fault is it, the cats or the uncovered meat?” he asked in his Ramadan sermon.  “The uncovered meat is the problem.”

The sheik’s insensitive demagoguery was denounced by a number of Muslim organisations at the time, but the riots in central Sydney two years ago showed again that despite the constant assurances from self-nominated leaders of the Islamic community, there remains a chance of militancy within the Muslim population — predominantly among younger members.

Reporter Bryan Seymour’s expose of the group known as The Muslim Youth Project provides a horrifying insight into one of the reasons for this.

In the YouTube video posted by Bilal Merhi, a senior member of radical group Hizb ut Tahrir, the young boys are shown performing under the banner “Soldiers Of The Khilafa” with a six-year-old leading the show, which took place at a rundown reception centre on Canterbury Rd in Lakemba on September 21, 2013.

The children chant a hymn to death-fighting to end democracy in Australia, replacing it with a caliphate ruled by Islamic sharia law.

They also call for American President Barack Obama to “go to hell”, for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to be beheaded and for an end to Western ideals.

Several wave flags and the IS flag is to the side. In the unedited video, now removed from YouTube, four or five men are seen prompting the youngsters.

The use of children by Islamist extremists and terrorists is not new.

The Palestinian Authority has long used funds supplied by the United Nations and the European Union to broadcast programs designed to inspire young Palestinians to embrace martyrdom as an option.

Instead of Play School, the kids are taught about suicide bombers and other murderers, and instructed to hate Jews and non-Muslims.

In secular Western nations like Australia, overpaid politically correct public servants at every level of government attempt to justify their busybody jobs by policing nursery rhymes and demanding that all cultures be given equal time and praise.

It is doubtful their preachy condemnation has any impact on the Arabic-speaking households receiving satellite-delivered hate speech programs similar and worse to the Hizb ut Tahrir YouTube video.

The same do-gooders claim the West is in some way to blame for the hatred that fuels Islamist terrorists from Australia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Pakistan, many of the African nations and across the Middle East.

Unfortunately, the satellite dishes aren’t pointing to Western broadcast outlets, they’re pointing in the other direction and pulling down the nauseating bile which inspires the so-called imams and jihadi recruiters such as the (hopefully) deceased Mohammad Ali Baryalei to lure children into the hands of IS murderers and other terrorists with dreams of paradise and an inexhaustible supply of virgins.

This is brainwashing. This is child abuse.

Grooming children to die is perhaps the ultimate abomination — and those who engage in this evil must be punished with the utmost severity.


No comments: