Thursday, December 04, 2014


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is having a shot at the Greenie call for "non-sexist" toys

Tony Abbott blasts national broadcaster: ABC takes 'everyone's side but Australia's'

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has berated ABC News, arguing that it is taking "everyone's side but Australia's" and that journalists should give the navy the "benefit of the doubt" when it comes to claims of wrongdoing.

In comments that also suggest the media should act as cheerleaders for the country, Mr Abbott ramped up his recent criticism of the ABC.

"You would like the national broadcaster to have a rigorous commitment to truth and at least some basic affection for the home team," he told Macquarie Radio on Wednesday.

Mr Abbott also said that it "dismays Australians when the national broadcaster appears to take everybody's side but our own", adding, "I think that is a problem".

The Prime Minister's comments follow Coalition criticism of the ABC late last year, after it and Guardian Australia broke a story, based on leaks from the US National Security Agency, about Australia tapping Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's phone.

At the time, the Prime Minister condemned the head of the ABC, Mark Scott for "very, very poor judgment". Other Coalition MPs also expressed concern about the ABC during a recent party meeting and Liberal senator Cory Bernardi called for its funding to be cut.

In November, Mr Scott defended the ABC's decision to publish the phone tapping story, arguing it was in the public interest.

On Wednesday, Mr Abbott said he wanted the ABC to be a "straight news gathering and news reporting organisation".

He also sympathised with broadcaster Ray Hadley, when he complained that "right-leaning" shock jocks such as himself were regularly referred to the Australian Communications and Media Authority, while the "left-leaning" ABC was "left to their own devices".

"I can understand your frustration, Ray, because at times there does appear to be a double standard in large swathes of our national life," the Prime Minister said.

As a broadcaster, the ABC, like Mr Hadley's station, 2GB, also comes under ACMA's complaints system.

The body does not monitor broadcasts and is prompted to investigate possible breaches of radio and TV codes by public complaints.

When contacted by Fairfax Media, the ABC had no comment to make about Mr Abbott's renewed criticism of the ABC.

Mr Abbott also referred to a recent ABC report containing video footage of asylum seekers claiming they had suffered burns due to mistreatment by the Royal Australian Navy.

The navy has denied the claims, which were also dismissed by the government.

"If there's credible evidence, the ABC, like all other news organisations is entitled to report it, but . . . You shouldn't leap to be critical of your own country," he said.

"You certainly ought to be prepared to give the Australian navy and its hard-working personnel the benefit of the doubt."

PM's comments part of 'plan' to cut ABC funding: Labor

Acting Labor leader Tanya Plibersek defended the ABC on Wednesday as a "longstanding part of Australia's cultural fabric", while Labor's communications spokesman, Jason Clare, said that Mr Abbott's comments were part of a plan to cut funding to the ABC.

"Now it seems Tony Abbott is laying the groundwork to break another election promise," Mr Clare said, noting that the Prime Minister had said before the election that there would be not cuts to the national broadcaster.

Earlier Ms Plibersek said that every government had been subjected to close scrutiny by the ABC since the broadcaster began, "and we should all welcome that".

"Tony Abbott's comments today show he'll blame everyone – including the media - for the promises he continues to break," she said.

"He should stop complaining about media coverage and start behaving like a Prime Minister."

ABC a 'great contributor'

NSW Nationals senator John "Wacka" Williams praised the ABC, noting that it was a "great contributor" to regional Australia through programs like Country Hour.

But he rubbished recent ABC reports such as the allegations of navy abuse and the SBY phone tapping.

"The ABC should think carefully before it puts out stories that are damaging to [Australia's] reputation," he told Fairfax Media.

After Mr Abbott's criticism of the ABC, Employment Minister Eric Abetz drew on the national broadcaster's reporting this week – in conjunction with Fairfax Media – on the building industry to back up his call for the re-establishment of the Coalition's construction watchdog.

"Given the revelations from the ABC and Fairfax Media, it is quite clear we need to re-institute the Australian Building and Construction Commission," he said.

When asked if the ABC gave taxpayers good value for money, Senator Abetz deferred to Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, but added that the ABC and Fairfax had done a "great public service" in their reports of union and construction industry corruption.

When asked if he agreed with the Prime Minister's view that there was a perception that the ABC barracked for everyone but Australia, Senator Abetz said "I think every Australian will make up their own mind in relation to the ABC".

Mr Abbott also continued to pressure Labor to support the re-establishment of the ABCC.

"The issue for the Labor Party and for Mr Shorten is whose side are they on?" he said.

"Are they on the side of law abiding citizens? Or are they on the side of people with a tendency to break the law?"


Christmas shoppers should not buy gender based toys for kids, Greens say

GREENS Senator Larissa Waters has urged Christmas shoppers to rethink buying bright pink jewellery or dolls for little girls, linking gender-stereotyped toys to domestic violence and pay inequality.

The minor party’s gender spokeswoman has endorsed the ‘No Gender December’ campaign, set up by grassroots group Play Unlimited, which calls on retailers to stop using old-fashioned gender stereotypes as marketing ploys this Christmas.

It warns aisles of pink and blue merchandise, while seemingly harmless, can lead to serious social problems including violence against women and children.

The campaign has already come under fire from leading child psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg, who labelled it “a nail in the coffin of common sense” and said there was no research to indicate ‘gender-stereotyped’ toys were unhealthy for children.

But Senator Waters said shoppers should stop and think about how toys are being marketed to children this Christmas.

“While the starkly separate aisles of pink and blue might seem harmless, especially to well-meaning rellies and friends, setting such strong gender stereotypes at early ages can have long-term impacts, including influencing self-perception and career aspirations,” Senator Waters said.

“Out-dated stereotypes about girls and boys and men and women, perpetuate gender inequality, which feeds into very serious problems such as domestic violence and the gender pay gap,” she said.

“While such serious problems seem so far removed from choosing children’s toys, it’s important that we think about this issue, especially when so many children’s toys are being bought.”

The web-based campaign is asking shoppers to sign an online pledge declaring their commitment to boycotting gifts that play to gender stereotypes — which could include Barbie dolls for girls, or monster trucks for boys.

It also wants federal parliamentarians to introduce legislation that would ban retailers from marketing toys to children along gender lines.

It is understood the Greens have not yet formed a position on whether the minor party would support any legislative changes.

One of the campaign’s organisers, Thea Hughes, said while there was nothing wrong with either girls or boys playing with dolls, parents needed to be aware of the dangers of indoctrinating children into thinking about gender in a certain way.

“If you are talking about adults, gender stereotyping is completely unacceptable, it should be the same for kids,” Ms Hughes, a mother of two boys, said.

Play Unlimited has seized on research from Purdue University in the American state of Indiana which found strongly gender-stereotyped toys did not support children’s development as much as gender-neutral toys.

But Dr Carr-Gregg said parents should not start fretting if their son wants a remote control car or their daughter wants a doll.

“These gender differences are hard wired, and while I’m sure socialisation plays a role, to argue that toys in any way relate to domestic violence is, I think, too far a stretch,” he said.

“It’s a nail in the coffin of common sense.”


Victorian election 2014: A very qualified win for the  Labor Party

DANIEL — Dan — Andrews is Premier. Labor won the election. But one point needs to be emphasised absolutely clearly upfront. Victorians did not rush to embrace either Labor’s message or its promises.

Barely one-in-three voters actively wanted Labor; far more voters cast their first preference for the Coalition than for Labor. Indeed Andrews will be pushing to have increased Labor’s first preference tally from that of his losing predecessor John Brumby in 2010.

His win was built on two things — voters drifting away from an insipid if competent government and the preferences of disillusioned former Labor voters who’ve gone Green.

That continues to raise all sorts of issues for Labor as a political party. But for an Andrews government it should mean, it must mean, one thing: do not believe your own bulldust.

You have NOT been given a crushing mandate to embark on big-spending union-friendly changes. You must govern from the centre for the three-in-four Victorians who voted for the three mainstream parties.

There’s an equally important message for the Liberal and National Opposition.

Do not turn this into a de facto Labor-Green government by opposing just for the sake of opposing — forcing Andrews into the arms of the Greens to get things through the Upper House.

It’s in the interests of both Labor and the Coalition — but most of all, Victoria — for much of the next four years to be decided on a bipartisan basis. Let there be no mistake: the Victorian economy is in potentially deep trouble.

We’ve been living in the bubble of Mathew Guy’s high-rise boom. But already our jobless rate is up there with the weaker states, Tasmania and South Australia.

The car industry will have disappeared before the next election.

Further, we are sitting inside a national economy being hit by the end of the resources boom.

We are going to need good government — from both sides of the Parliament


Australian Green car funding was just lemon aid

IN so far as the $500 million Green Car Innovation Fund was supposed to prevent carbon dioxide leaching from Australian-made cars, it looks like being an outstanding success.

Vehicles manufactured in Australia after 2018 will produce zero emissions, not least because Australia will be producing zero cars.

We did get the green cars, however. Well, greenish ones anyway, produced by Ford, Holden and Toyota with taxpayer subsidies.

About $14m was given to Ford to produce the Falcon Ecoboost, which retails for about $35,000, thanks to an $8000 contribution from the taxpayer.

According to motoring writers it’s a pretty good Falcon, almost as powerful as a real one.

“Brilliant!” Bill McKinnon wrote on the Top Gear website. “But also irrational and, in the end, ­irrelevant.

“The four-cylinder Falcon. Why is this car here? Now? Has anyone been screaming for it?”

The Ecoboost Falcon may produce enough torque to tow a semi-trailer of live pigs across the Nullarbor, but it is not what the market wants. A Falcon for tree-huggers is a contradiction in terms.

Joshua Dowling broke the bad news in News Corp Australia’s CarsGuide last week: “Confidential figures reveal just 1800 Ecoboost four-cylinder Falcons have been sold since it went on sale in April 2012 — less than half as many as Ford originally planned.”

Dowling uses the word “sold” loosely, since about 600 Ecoboosts were bought by Ford itself. So if you spot an Ecoboost on the road, there’s a one-in-three chance the driver is a Ford ­employee.

Will it help us reach our Kyoto target? Let us run through the maths.

Carbon emissions from full-strength Falcon: 226g/km. Carbon emissions from a Falcon Lite: 192g/km. Carbon saved: 34g/km. Carbon saved over 100,000km: 3.4 tonnes. Cost saving per tonne: $2300. Cost of a tonne of carbon abatement on the European market: $12.

It would be wrong to say there have been no winners. Holden Cruze purchasers, for example, scored a $1500 subsidy. Buyers of the Camry Hybrid have benefited to the tune of $1100.

The question, however, is why? When Kevin Rudd announced the green cars scheme in 2008 he claimed that “R&D, particularly those related to clean, green technologies, constitute a public good”. Yet the Ecoboost engine was already in existence. Ford’s Australian engineers merely turned it 90 degrees to run a rear-wheel drivetrain. Paradigm changing it was not.

When government takes a risk the private sector is unwilling to shoulder, the justification boils down to this: that society will better off for having a good thing.

Yet the private sector is cautious for good reason. Rushed technology driven by government funding comes at a high cost and is innately inefficient. The postwar aircraft industry is a shining example. If congress had been willing to pay half the cost of developing the jet airliner in the US, as the Labour government did in Britain, the US could have been the first to introduce jet travel.

As it was, Britain nobly led the way in 1952 with de Havilland Comet. Three of them broke up in mid-air within a year of entering service. As Richard R. Nelson pondered dryly in The Moon and the Ghetto, “How much would it have aided the reputation of the American commercial aircraft industry had it, and not the British, been the one to discover the catastrophic effects on pressurised aircraft of metal fatigue?”

Private risk is an effective regulator against ineffective and inefficient investment. Once R&D becomes an autonomous activity, separated from the pressures of the market, it runs rampant. It creates its own class of rent-seeker, driven by a thirst for subsidies rather than honest profit.

This, scarily, may be the condition of the windmill industry, a power source of questionable reliability and enormous cost that no private investor would look twice at were it not for boondoggles like the renewable energy target. Perhaps the technocrats are right; perhaps in time the industry will make technological leaps that will wean it off subsidies.

History suggests otherwise. The notion that government ­investment in technology will turn Australia into a clever country and generate the jobs of the future has been proven wrong repeatedly.

Now that all three remaining car manufacturers have announced plans to pull out of Australia, the green car fiasco looks like an expensive mistake.

Yet at the time plenty of people were prepared to egg Rudd on. Labor’s John Brumby, then Victorian premier, declared: “This is a green-letter day. It is a fantastic day for the auto industry.”

Kim Carr, the innovation, industry, science and research minister, boasted “the primary objective here is to ensure we have high skilled, high-wage jobs for Australian workers”.

The ABC’s Rachel Carbonell editorialised: “The hybrid car deal is a starting point for a greater range of local green transport in Australia.”

The Productivity Commission begged to disagree, warning: “It is unlikely that overall sales of green vehicles would increase markedly … policies that target use of particular abatement technologies become redundant, and will only impose additional, unnecessary costs.”

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union spokesman Ian Jones responded: “We have grown to expect this sort of rubbish from them, they have historically been anti-manufacturing industry.”

Six years later, with the folly of auto welfare laid bare and the budget deficit mounting, the Green Car Innovation Fund’s critics have been vindicated, and the naked self-interest of the unions, car manufacturers and Labor governments in Victoria and South Australia are plain for all to see.

It may not have been Labor’s most expensive folly but it is money that Joe Hockey would dearly love to get back. He could do so by re-indexing excise on petrol, making it a little more expensive at the pump, but Labor and the Greens — the green motoring champions — are determined to block that.


1 comment:

PB said...

have we all forgotten the four cylinder Commodore of days gone by? I think we did our best to forget it.