Monday, December 15, 2014

"Trousers" Fraser, the most loathed ex-conservative Prime Minister, is at it again

He did a great deal to win approval from the Left while in office but very little for conservatives -- so he hasn't actually changed much.  Conservatives have long loathed him for winning office as a conservative and then failing to live up to it.  His loss of his trousers one mysterious night in Memphis Tennesse has always been amusing, however

On Wednesday night former Liberal PM Malcolm Fraser gave this speech at the opening of brand new premises for the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC).

Among other spiteful and dangerous claims, Fraser said: "Even with good government, there would still be important areas which ASRC would fill, but it would be a lesser role than that which ASRC is forced to play, as a result of the present government's policies.  Australia's name has been damaged around the world.  We are known as the most inhumane, the most uncaring, the most selfish of all the wealthy countries.  It used not to be that way"

Malcolm Fraser is paid by us - according to this News Limited report he cost us $1.3M for a 2 and a half year period in perks alone.  He also gets a very generous pension, the quarter of a million dollars every year in perks is additional.

I'd have thought that taking the money places a moral burden on Mr Fraser to act with some loyalty to Australia in his public role, even if he doesn't feel loyal himsel.   But Fraser has no compunction in trashing the reputation of the nation that's paying him to represent it.   If he can't find it in himself to act loyally, paid or unpaid, perhaps he might consider just telling the truth.

Fraser does much to curry favour with his young Greens groupies.   Perhaps that was his motivation in making this outrageous statement about Australia:  "Australia's name has been damaged around the world.  We are known as the most inhumane, the most uncaring, the most selfish of all the wealthy countries".

There are a few ways to measure the wealth of nations.   One popular method is GDP per capita, that is the national income divided by the number of people.   It's also known as Purchasing Power Parity per capita - the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and CIA are among the organisations who put wealth ranking tables together using methods like these.

We average somewhere around #14 on the rankings.  Ahead of us are such human rights luminaries as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Oman.   But former PM tells the world that Australia is the most inhumane, the most uncaring and the most selfish of the "wealthy" people.

That might go down well with Sarah Hanson Young and other adoring bright young things but it's hardly borne out by the facts.

He spoke of the "hundreds" of asylum seeker children currently in detention.   He cast doubts on Scott Morrison's personal integrity talking about "inducements" the Minister offered cross bench senators to pass legislation to reduce Labor's backlog of children in detention.   Fraser said this of the now legislation passed by the Parliament, "the minister offered that 106 children will be allowed out of detention from Christmas Island, but can we believe him?"

Today News Limited reports on Attorney General George Brandis's speech at a human rights awards ceremony at Sydney's Museum of Contemporary Arts last night, saying Brandis:

"...asked the audience to celebrate International Human Rights Day by noting that most of the 1992 children who were in detention when the Coalition came to office last year have now been released.

This factual statement was greeted with a smattering of reluctant applause from about a dozen of the 400 or so in the angrily self-righteous crowd.

Brandis went on to say all children detained on Christmas Island would be out ­before Christmas — to no applause. “All of the children in detention will have been released by the early months of next year and we will be back to where we were in November, 2007, when the number of children in detention was zero,” he said.

“And of course the other number zero, which I think ought to be celebrated by all of us, is the fact that 2014 was the first year since 2008 in which we can confidently say that no children, and no adults, died at sea on asylum seeker vessels.”

There was not a murmur from the mulish crowd, resentful a Coalition minister exposed the fact it was the disastrous policies of the Labor-Green-independent governments between 2007 and 2013 that were responsible for deaths at sea and the detention of children.

There was not a whimper from a mob usually so ready to bray its unquestioning support for people such as Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs (one of last night’s award winners), who earlier this year falsely accused the government of using armed guards to maintain security at Christmas Island and falsely claimed that up to 10 women had attempted suicide while in detention, among other fabrications.

About 1,600 people drowned as a consequence of Labor's "sugar on the table" method of inbound maritime immigration management.   Fraser doesn't seem to mind, he didn't speak about that at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.


Struggling farmers escape eviction as bank backs down

THE ANZ Bank has promised to stop evicting drought-stricken farmers from their land for the next 12 months, as public anger mounts at homeless farm families living destitute in many Queensland country towns.

The bank yesterday imposed an immediate moratorium on all forced farm foreclosures in drought-affected west and north Queensland and northern NSW until December next year.

ANZ Australia chief executive Phil Chronican said the bank wanted to be on the “front foot” in recognising and reacting to the growing problem. He acknowledged the bank hoped to dampen mounting political and community anger at so many farmers being forced from their homes and land by the banks at a time of severe drought.

“We’ve been aware there have been areas of extreme stress that have had this extended drought,” Mr Chronican said.  “It’s a relatively small part of the country but with growing public concern over these (farm foreclosures), we wanted to be on the front foot to diffuse concerns.”

The move by ANZ comes after Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce used an interview with The Australian to issue an ultimatum to the major banks to stop throwing farmers off the land or risk government intervention.

A debt crisis rally at Winton in northwest Queensland last Friday was told of 46 farmers pushed from their land by the banks in the Longreach region in the past six months and 40 more farms for sale in the Gulf country.

North Queensland federal MP Bob Katter yesterday vowed to “name and shame” every bank trying to throw farmers off their land in the midst of a record three-year drought that has gripped 80 per cent of Queensland. Mr Katter called on the public to let him know of every distressed property or farmer under bank pressure, so he could publicise details unbound by confidentiality and suppression orders imposed by the banks on involved farmers.

The ANZ Bank has been at the forefront of public anger at farm evictions, after The Australian published the case of 80-year-old Charlie Phillott, pushed from his home of 54 years, Carisbrooke station, near Winton, in March by the ANZ. Mr Phillott said yesterday the ANZ moratorium was “wonderful news”.

But he said it was too early to tell if it might make a difference to his own situation, or if he and his wife Anne might be back living amid the Mitchell grass plains and rugged jump-up country by Christmas. “If I can get this ­property back, that would be the greatest turnaround by a bank in my lifetime,” Mr Phillott said. “I think very good things may come of this.”

Other banks are expected to follow the ANZ’s lead, with the Commonwealth Bank to announce its own “drought support package” today.  NAB said foreclosure was a “very rare” action for it to take against agribusiness customers.

The ANZ announcement includes a moratorium on all new farm repossessions until December 2015, a 12-month commitment not to increase interest rates on distressed farms, and interest rate relief in cases of extreme distress, in an attempt to address the current farm debt challenges in Queensland. The bank has also pledged not to put any farm businesses into receivership or to increase existing mortgage interest rates on loans to drought-affected farmers.

It will halt the practice of hiking interest rates up to 12 per cent and beyond as a “penalty” rate when farm loans are reclassed by the bank as at-risk and a mediation process begins, which inevitably starts rapid slide towards foreclosure. In cases of extreme stress, interest rate “relief” or easing will be offered by the ANZ to existing loan customers in mediation talks with the banks, or who are struggling to repay their debts.

Mr Joyce welcomed the ANZ moratorium, saying he much preferred the banks to manage their own situations.


Australian jobs growth at 2 ½ year high but unemployment increases

EMPLOYMENT growth is at its strongest level in 2½ years, but that hasn’t stopped the national jobless rate from rising to a new 12-year peak.

Unemployment hit 6.3 per cent last month, in line with market forecasts and up from 6.2 per cent in October.

There was better news in Queensland, with the jobless rate falling from 7.1 per cent in October to 6.9 per cent last month. That was the largest decrease in seasonally adjusted unemployment across the ­nation, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Premier Campbell Newman welcomed the improved state figures. “We’re going to continue to work hard to rev up employment, to ensure that anybody who wants a job gets a job,” Mr Newman said.

Asked whether three years would be enough to reach the Government’s long-standing target of 4 per cent unemployment, Mr Newman said “we’re going to bust our gut to actually make this happen”.

The total number of people with jobs soared by 42,700 ­nationally, almost triple what economists were expecting.  But most growth was in the part-time employment sector, with full-time job numbers up only 1800.

CommSec economist Savanth Sebastian said the main reason the unemployment rate rose was because more people were looking for work.  “Contrary to the headline lift in the unemployment rate, the job market is in decent shape,” he said.

“A healthier economy, improved job prospects, and more importantly a noted lift in job advertisements over the past six months has resulted in more people searching for work, with an ongoing lift in the participation rate.”

The participation rate – those who have a job, are looking for work or are ready to start work – rose to a four-month high of 64.7 per cent.

Randstad employment market analyst Steve Shepherd described the rise in unemployment as tiny.  “What we can take from the numbers is there is increasing jobseeker confidence in the Australian jobs market,” he said.

Mr Shepherd attributed the big jump in part-time work to the availability of more temporary work as businesses began hiring for the busy Christmas period.



Four current articles below

Greens hunt academic ‘witches’

A dragon: South Australian Greens senator Penny Wright.  She wants to know:  "Are you now or have you ever been a member of a free-market organization?"

THE notorious US anti-communism campaigner Joe McCarthy would be proud — the Australian Senate has adopted his tactics in pursuit of independent think tanks.  [NOTE:  The "Are you now ..." question was actually asked in the HUAC hearings, not by Joe McCarthy.  McCarthy was a Senator so had nothing to do with HUAC.  HUAC was a Democrat outfit]

Instead of “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party of the United States?”, a Senate estimates committee is asking whether particular academics and specialists are “connected” with the Institute of Public ­Affairs or the Centre for Independent Studies.

The federal Education Department has emailed a dozen or more subject specialists who contributed to the national curriculum review.

The correspondence begins: “The department has received a number of questions from Senate estimates. The specific question is: ‘If any of the reviewers who were appointed are connected with the Institute of Public ­Affairs or the Centre for Independent Studies?’ ”

It says it “would be appreciated if you could respond to this question” by Monday. Some of the recipients and both organisations have lashed out at what they see as an insulting intrusion.

“This is outright McCarthyism,” IPA deputy director James Paterson said. “It is pretty much ‘Are you now or have you even been a member of the IPA?’ ”

University of Wollongong historian Greg Melleuish said he was happy to answer the question because he had “nothing to hide”.

The issue was the “motives of the people asking the questions” rather than the department following up. The person who asked the question was South Australian Greens senator Penny Wright, who raised it at an October hearing.

“I am interested to know if any of the reviewers who were appointed are connected with the Institute of Public Affairs or the Centre for Independent Studies?” she asked.

The Weekend Australian contacted the senator’s office yesterday seeking comment on why the organisations were singled out and whether she was investigating connections to any other organisations.

Senator Wright’s adviser said the senator was too busy to respond, having “back-to-back meetings” and “two human rights events” to attend.

Associate Professor Melleuish said he was selected for the review because of his extensive curriculum work for Liberal and Labor governments.

“It is an attempt to taint people by association,” he said. “There is a strange idea around, especially online, that the IPA somehow has a pernicious effect on the government.”

Other academics confirmed they had received the request and decided not to respond.

They found the questions insulting, seemingly suggesting that publishing with these highly regarded organisations devalued their expertise.

CIS executive director Greg Lindsay said: “We are an organisation of the highest standards that publishes Nobel laureates, leading academics from Australia and around the world, as well as high-level politicians from all major parties. I’ve never heard of Senator Wright — who is she?”

Both the IPA and CIS support free markets, individual liberty and limited government.

Mr Paterson said Senator Wright’s question was a “classic example” of playing the man rather than the ball. “It is deeply revealing about the Greens’ attitude to political disagreement,” he said. “Are the Greens senators hunting down the political affiliation of all those who contributed towards developing the national curriculum, or just those they disagree with?”

The lead author of the original history curriculum was Melbourne University historian Stuart Macintyre. His connections were not pursued by the Greens. Professor Macintyre was once a member of the Communist Party.


Wind Power Really Is Setting the World on FIRE:

As the Australian countryside turns to the golden hues of summer, the attentions of its farming and rural communities also turn: hundreds of eager eyes become fixed on the horizon for tell-tale signs of the smoke that heralds the bushfires that cast fear amongst those that live and work in the bush.

Rules are set to avoid bushfires on high fire danger days – when a Total Fire Ban is called:

You cannot light, maintain or use a fire in the open, or to carry out any activity in the open that causes, or is likely to cause, a fire. No general purpose hot works such as using tractors, slashers and/or welding, grinding or gas cutting can be done in the open either, and this includes incinerators and barbecues which burn solid fuel, eg. wood or charcoal.

Farmers engaged in crop harvesting operations think twice about operating harvesters when the northerly winds pick up and send temperatures into the 40s – the safety conscious leave their headers parked in the shed or the corner of the paddock and spend the day in front of the A/C enjoying the cricket on TV – ready to respond in a heartbeat to the call if a fire does break out. Better to miss a day’s reaping than set the country ablaze.

But such is the seriousness with which country people take the ever-present threat of a bushfire, that can turn a swathe of country black; destroy homes, sheds, equipment, livestock, fences, generations of hard work; and, most savage of all – lives.

The approach taken to the threat of the savagery of an Australian bushfire is about the common sense management of RISK – and, wherever possible, taking steps to minimise or prevent that risk altogether.

But one massive – and utterly unjustified – RISK is the one created by the roll-out of hundreds of giant fans across WA, SA, NSW, Tasmania and Victoria – all in areas highly prone to bushfires.

Turbines represent the perfect bushfire incendiary: around the world, hundreds have blown up in balls of flame – in the process – each one raining molten metal and hundreds of litres of flaming hydraulic oil and burning plastic earthwards.

Wind turbine fires are ten times more common than the wind industry and its parasites claim (see our post here and check out this website:


The Australian Labor Party’s energy policy nothing but wind

GEORGE Orwell once said that political language was designed to “give an appearance of solidity to pure wind”.

Step forward exhibit A and the Labor Party’s explanation for refusing to fix the mess that is Australian renewable energy policy. Mark Butler says that Labor will not “stand by and watch” billions of dollars in investment in renewables head overseas.

Back on planet reality there is no investment in renewable energy now because we already have too much of it.

This year the legislated Large-Scale Renewable Energy Target required Australia to produce 16,100 gigawatt hours of renewable energy.

What this effectively means is that businesses have to surrender an equivalent amount of renewable energy certificates or pay a penalty. But Australia has an enormous oversupply of renewable energy certificates. This has nothing to do with the change of government a year ago and everything to do with the overly generous solar subsidies provided by various state and federal governments until recently. These subsidies have correctly been removed but the overhang remains.

Where there is a surplus of a product its price falls and this is what has happened to the price of renewable energy. Renewable energy certificates have been stuck at about $30 a megawatt hour, too low to bridge the gap between cheap fossil fuels and renewables.

Labor’s refusal to even consider reform is condemning the renewable energy industry to greater uncertainty and simply defers a reckoning. The reckoning will come when it becomes apparent that we cannot, by 2020, increase our renewable energy production to 41,000GWh as set by law. To meet that target we need an additional 26,000GWh of renewables.

The most efficient renewable energy wind turbines are capable of producing about 3MW while running. Because there are 8670 hours in a year, each wind turbine has the potential to produce about 26GWh a year.

But turbines don’t run at full capacity because the wind doesn’t always blow. Across Australia the average real output of wind turbines is about one-third of their rated capacity.

That means each wind turbine could produce about 8GW of energy every year. To produce another 26,000GWh we would need an extra 3000-plus wind turbines — more than doubling the population of wind turbines in Australia today. Each of these wind turbines would take up about 1sq km of land — considering the space needed between turbines. That means we would need an area larger than the size of the ACT to produce all this additional wind energy.

Now we technically could blanket the ACT with wind turbines — and some may suggest that would be a more productive use of that land — but that is not going to happen in five years. There is too short a time to build so many wind turbines so fast.

What will actually happen is that we won’t reach the target, but the dirty secret is that those that have already invested in renewables don’t really mind.

In about three years the target will grow to be above the renewable energy we are producing. Under the law that will mean the price of renewable energy certificates will increase to a shortfall charge of about $93 a megawatt hour in post-tax dollars increasing the burden of the RET threefold.

The producers of renewable energy will once again have their pockets lined thanks to the largesse of the families and businesses that consume energy. Irrigators will pay more to water their crops and we will become even less competitive in steel production. Jobs will be lost.

The RET costs the average family about $50 a year now; in a few years that will probably rise to $150 a year, or half a carbon tax but without the compensation. Every time you open the fridge, the little white light will come on to remind that you are paying for rich investors to make money in renewable energy stocks.

Australia’s renewable energy policies could simply be titled “Robin Hood visits Bizarro World” — they steal from the poor and give to the rich.

For all the Labor Party’s fine words in the cause of social justice and redistribution, when the lights go on those words are shown to be about as robust as a bunch of dead leaves blown along by the wind.


Less talk, more action on reef: Greens
The federal government has been accused of bullying other countries instead of taking action to protect the Great Barrier Reef.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop will use climate change talks in Peru to argue the reef is not under threat.  She also plans to lobby members of UNESCO's World Heritage Committee not to list the reef as a site in danger and will argue the organisation is at risk of being duped by activists.

Greens senator Larissa Waters says the government is failing to take action and choosing instead to "lobby and bully" other countries.

"Even though the World Heritage Committee recommended a moratorium on damaging developments, the pace of approvals has continued unabated," she said, adding that a long-term plan for the reef failed to address the impacts of climate change.

Senator Waters highlighted approvals given to build mines in the Galilee Basin and the expansion of the controversial Abbot Point coal port near Bowen.

WWF-Australia chief executive Dermot O'Gorman says the reef should not be used as a political football.  "The government's own experts have clearly stated that current management arrangements are not enough to even halt the decline of the reef, let alone reverse the reef's decline," he said.

Queensland opposition environment spokeswoman Jackie Trad says Ms Bishop should put her energy into pressuring Premier Campbell Newman to do more to protect the reef.

Ms Bishop is expected to tell UNESCO an in-danger listing could set a dangerous precedent that could result in World Heritage assets being blacklisted in the countries of committee members.

She will argue Australia has addressed environmental threats to the reef, including those raised by UNESCO such as the dumping of dredge spoil and cutting agricultural runoff.

The World Heritage Committee will meet in June to decide whether to formally declare the reef as an asset in danger.


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