Thursday, January 22, 2015

An Open letter to Anthony Chisholm, State Secretary  of the Qld. ALP

Dear Anthony,

I’m writing with respect to the ALP advertisements on privatisation currently running on TV, which can be viewed by clicking on and

These advertisements contain a number of untruths.

As the Australian Institute for Progress stated at the beginning of this campaign, “Repetition of untrue slogans on the basis that the more frequently and loudly they are repeated the more likely voters are to believe them to be true is not a democratic practice, and we call on the political parties to avoid it”.

Our institute favours full privatisation of the assets that the government is leasing and we are happy to have that argument in the context of an election, and to support all parties that support that position. However the argument should be had on a factual basis.

The untrue assertions in these advertisements are:

That the government is proposing to sell these assets for 99 years
That electricity prices will be higher as proven by privatisation of electricity assets in Victoria

The government is not proposing to sell these assets, and that is plain from the Strong Choices Final Plan. They are leasing rather than selling the assets. On this point the ads also imply that the arrangement is for 99 years, when it is for 50 years with an option for a further 49 years. A lease is not a sale, neither economically nor legally.

Furthermore the facts do not bear out the assertions in the first ad that when they have “sold” the assets “[j]ust like they did in Victoria” that electricity bills will increase because “…electricity bills in Victoria have skyrocketed”. Or the assertion in the second ad that “The only reason someone buys an asset is to make money from it, so you’ll pay more.”

The most recent study into electricity pricing, by Ernst Young, clearly shows that not to be true, as per the table below. Electricity bills in Victoria are lower than in Queensland, and have increased less since privatisation occurred some 19 years ago.

I have enjoyed our chats about campaigning in the past, but this is no way to run an election in a modern democracy.

I look forward to your response and the ALP withdrawing these ads and entering into some serious debate about the merits, or otherwise, of the issues.

Graham Young
Executive Director
Australian Institute for Progress


As former Vic. Premier Jeff Kennett sees it

IT’S an inescapable fact that the past seven years have been the most abysmal and wasteful period of federal leadership since World War II.

We have experienced a political famine in which personality politics, a failure of vision, a lack of preparedness by incoming governments and a total absence of consistent messages have left the public confused and lacking trust in our federal leaders.

If there were to be a federal election tomorrow, I dare say the Coalition would be defeated easily, as it should be — not only has opportunity been wasted but there has been no consistency in domestic policy.

Tony Abbott said last year he was going to clean the barnacles off the hull of the ship of state. But the change in health policy over the doctors co-payment fee suggests the barnacles are very quickly devouring the ship itself.

Last week was a public relations disaster for a Government without direction. And if it is true, as it was reported, that the Prime Minister rejected advice from Treasurer Joe Hockey and then health minister Peter Dutton over the co-payment, you have to wonder who the PM is listening to.

If they are junior staff, they should be sacked as they are clearly living on another planet. If the PM made the decision himself then he is leader in name only and out of touch with the community.

That is not to say those who can afford to be paying more for our healthcare shouldn’t be doing so. I do not mind a payment being levied to reduce bad practices and unnecessary demand. But the groundwork hasn’t been done for any price adjustment.

We all wear increases in cigarette prices, petrol taxes, council rates and utility charges. Surely being able to better fund a health service is more important. Yes, we know costs have gone up and, yes, we know the Medicare charge is now covering less than 50 per cent of the cost of health services. We know we are going to have to pay more to maintain our excellent health service.

So explain the situation better and hold the line. Keep it simple, stupid.

So there’s not much support for the Government.

The Opposition? No support there either. Most of us know they created the financial mess the Government is trying, but failing, to address. Yet Labor under Bill Shorten simply opposes every measure put up by the Government to tackle the situation.

The Greens? Mere opportunists without any economic credibility. They promise the world knowing they will never be held to account as a government. They have no sense of what is in the Australian interest and use their numbers in the Senate irresponsibly.

But given the loss of confidence in the two major parties, the fairies at the bottom of the hill would probably maintain their vote if an election were held today.

The Palmer United Party? I think it is always a problem when a person names something after himself. It’s an example of another great opportunity missed. Commercial core principles have been bypassed for short-term popularity. The PUPs have popped and will never be any stronger than they are today.

The independents are many, but of varying talent and experience. One I know and respect is Senator Nick Xenophon. But he has announced he is going to stand candidates at the next election, threatening his strength and independence. The Xenophon United Party? XUP?

Nick must not be distracted from using his influence to make things happen in Canberra.

Australia’s future must belong to the brave and the bold. Unless those in Canberra break the mould that has existed for the past seven years, I suspect an election in two years would result in more independents standing and winning seats, simply because the public are disillusioned by the federal class — because no one will actually lead.

The states have a much better leadership. NSW’s Mike Baird is showing strength and boldness of policy, consistency and compassion.

Campbell Newman in Queensland has had the toughest gig in town having inherited an $80 billion debt. An election there in 10 days will decide whether Queenslanders have the balls to see the job through, or will risk the gains made to date.

Victoria, of course, has a new Government under Daniel Andrews. Let’s hope Labor does a good job for all our sakes.

In South Australia, Jay Weatherill played a deft hand to win the last election. Time will tell whether his policies are changing to reflect the new challenges in his state.

WA’s Colin Barnett is being buffeted by the downturn in mining revenue and a lowering of investment in new developments but is an experienced set of hands.

In Tasmania, a new Government under Will Hodgman has started well, but needs to pedal hard and fast to rebuild Tasmania’s economy. But Tassie is a place of opportunities and could yet surprise us all.

So the states are better led than is the country, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some standout performers in Canberra.

Andrew Robb in Trade is securing opportunities for Australia that are generational. Julie Bishop is doing a great job in Foreign Affairs. But it’s a pity their good work is being lost in a sea of mediocrity.

Yet, there is always hope. And I live for tomorrow.

So I challenge our federal politicians to prove me wrong. In a year I shall revisit this subject and it would be gratifying to be able to report substantial improvement. It is in your hands.

Have a good day.


Qld. Labor very vague about the economy

Some vague assertions about TAFE seems to be all she can think of.  So what will they spend and how will they fund it?

OPPOSITION Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk insists she is offering Queenslanders a viable alternative economic plan.

"Absolutely,"Ms Palaszczuk said.

"When I talk about jobs I am talking about growing the ecomony. You talk to anyone walking down the street. The measure of how the economy is going is whether or not you have a job.

"I outlined our plans to grow the economy and get people into jobs, and it starts with TAFE.

"Our Advance Queensland policy is about growing innovation and getting the best and brightest minds here in Queensland and attracting them from overseas. "That will then flow on to create jobs."

Ms Palaszczuk also denied she was devoting too much time talking about Premier Campbell Newman plan and not enough time outlining hers.

"Campbell Newman’s track record is not jobs. "He has cut frontline services. When you cut frontline services and you rip 24,000 jobs out of the economy, it slows the economy right down. We are passionate about jobs.  "I will continue to talk about jobs because jobs are good for the economy."

She also rejected suggestions she had not done enough to differentiate herself from the previous Bligh Government.

Earlier, The Courier-Mail reported Annastacia Palaszczuk has continued her policy-lite approach during the election, skipping the key issue of the economy to attack Campbell Newman during Labor’s official campaign launch.

Speaking to a packed audience of party faithful in Ipswich, the Labor leader yesterday accused Premier Campbell Newman of "arrogance", "mismanagement" and "twisted priorities".

Ms Palaszczuk claimed the LNP had brought back the corrupt "brown paper bag" era, prompting criticism from Mr Newman that Labor was resorting to the same "personal attacks" as the 2012 election.

"We have seen the LNP open the door again to those carrying brown paper bags,’’ she said. "We also see the undermining of the state’s corruption watchdog and the trashing of Fitzgerald inquiry recommendations."

Mr Newman said Ms Palaszczuk was using the same tactic as her predecessor Anna Bligh because she was out of ideas.  "We saw this from Anna Bligh last time," he said.

"Last time, they ran a campaign about negativity and personality politics.

"This time, they’re doing the same thing. Why? Because they have no plan for Queensland. They don’t have the leadership, they don’t have the ticker to sort out the financial problems that we inherited. They certainly don’t know how to create jobs and so they engage in this sort of thing."


God needs to start smiting these idiots
Piers Akerman

ABOUT now, God must surely be considering sacking his senior management and public ­relations people and wondering how to get his business back to basics.

Globally, the major religions seem to have been placed in the hands of consultants – the usual practice of managements which don’t have a clue – with predictably regrettable results.
Management of the Muslim brand has gone to the dogs with every other certifiable idiot calling himself an imam or an ayatollah and issuing fatwahs that make the mark a mockery in the modern world.

Just last week a prominent religious scholar in Saudi ­Arabia issued a fatwa against building snowmen in the ­kingdom, stating the practice was not acceptable to Islam. According to a Gulf News ­report, which has so far been unchallenged, Mohammad Saleh Al Minjed said people must not build any snowmen or snow models of animals.

As snow fell across the desert, the scholar set out guidelines for children and others who wanted to play outdoors. Making snow models of lifeless things, such as ships, fruit and buildings, was apparently acceptable in Islam, he said, but “it is not permitted to make a statue out of snow, even by way of play and fun”.

Clearly, this is one member of Team Islam who poses a threat to the brand and should lose his franchise. But his chuckleheaded humbug currently falls at the lower end of the lunatic ladder.

Sitting a few rungs up are the hashtag heroes who have abandoned Australia at the urging of some fairly adept manipulators who appeal to their teenage fantasies with offers of slave girls, virgin brides and the opportunity to use the sort of firearms they might normally only drool over when playing video games.

Unfortunately, they are also eroding the Muslim brand they claim to be defending because as everyone has been told ­repeatedly, Islam is the religion of peace. God clearly has his work cut out bringing these barbaric oafs to heel.

Christianity can’t escape criticism either, and God must wonder how so many of his followers of that faith permitted various strands to be intellectually hollowed out to the point of meaninglessness.

It was a lot simpler in the old days when God spoke ­directly to franchisees and gave instructions carved in stone. Now messages are workshopped by a racially and sexually diverse committee of guitar-strummers and delivered in a gender-neutral tone.

At least we can be grateful that He has not descended into the utterly ridiculous realm of ­ineffectual hashtaggery, bumper bar or button protestations and ribbon waving as a substitute for action.

US President Barack Obama and UK Prime Minister David Cameron held their joint press conference on Friday at which Mr Obama announced that the US, UK and its allies were “working seamlessly to prevent attacks and defeat these terrorist networks”.

It was impossible not to ­recall Michelle Obama’s press conference last May at which she lambasted the truly evil ­Islamist Boko Haram terrorists who had kidnapped 276 girls from a secondary school in north-eastern Nigeria weeks earlier. Mrs Obama brandished a hand-written placard which read #Bring Back Our Girls. The girls, all Christian, haven’t been brought back.

In its most recent atrocity, Boko Haram’s Islamist butchers murdered as many as 2000 in brutal attacks earlier this month.   Another rogue action by a recalcitrant franchisee but at least Mr Cameron acknowledged the difficulties faced when he told the joint press conference that the world faced “a poisonous and fanatical ideology”.

But whether he or Mr Obama can actually “confront it wherever it appears” is a very open question.

Mr Obama has shown himself to be dangerously weak in the war against terrorism and US foreign policy is in free fall.

Former Australian Prime Minister John Howard was ­remarkably prescient when he warned eight years ago that an Obama presidency would be a boon to terrorists.

God must have his hands so full at the moment with wannabe martyrs queuing up for their suicide suits that it seems selfish to contemplate sending a prayer in His direction. Maybe an email, in the cyber Cloud, to be opened at leisure, perhaps?

Realistically though, I’d rather He concentrated on sorting out the assorted franchisees who have brought the whole religion business into such disfavour.


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