Thursday, June 30, 2016

Shorten does a complete backflip on homosexual marriage issue

Bill Shorten told religious leaders and Christian voters in the final days of the 2013 election campaign that he was "completely relaxed about having some form of plebiscite" on same-sex marriage.

In video footage ­obtained by The Australian, the ­Opposition Leader outlined a position that is in stark contrast to his claims ­yesterday that a plebiscite would be a taxpayer-funded platform to give a "green light" to ­homophobia and hate.

Mr Shorten told the Australian Christian Lobby forum in his electorate that he preferred "the Australian people make their view known" to the 150 MPs in federal parliament. "Personally speaking, I’m completely relaxed about having some form of plebiscite," he said. "I’d be wary of trying to use a referendum and a constitutional mechanism to start tampering with the Marriage Act.

"But in terms of a plebiscite — I would rather the people of Aust­ralia could make their view clear on this than leaving this issue to 150 people."

He told the Christian forum, which was webcast, he supported same-sex marriage and did not support a referendum but he did not think parliament would act.

Mr Shorten said "gay marriage" was not the reason he ran for parliament and that "I would rather that I didn’t have to address the question". He said he preferred a vote in parliament but he could not see it voting for change for a long time. "I believe that you should allow the parliament, if that’s what has to happen, to make a determination on this question," he said.

He then explained that he was relaxed about a plebiscite.

Mr Shorten, the then education minister in the Rudd government, made his comments in his Melbourne seat of Maribyrnong at the Essendon Baptist church in the final week of the 2013 election campaign. Last night he told The Australian he had changed his mind on a same-sex marriage plebiscite since the last election.

In recent days, as he faces increasing pressure on economic plans and budget costings, Mr Shorten has turned opposition to the Coalition plan for a plebiscite on same-sex marriage into a key priority along with his Medicare scare campaign.

Mr Shorten used his final election address to the National Press Club yesterday to pledge Labor’s first act would be to introduce a same-sex marriage bill into parliament and accused Malcolm Turnbull of settling for a "second-best option" of a plebiscite because of a "grubby deal with the right wing of the Liberal Party". He repeated his attack that the proposal for a same-sex marriage plebiscite would be a "taxpayer-funded ­platform for homophobia" and ­refused to say if Labor in opposition would pass the proposal through the Senate.

He also used the plebiscite commitment — made by Tony Abbott as prime minister and adopted by Mr Turnbull — to accuse Mr Turnbull of weakness and allowing a "green light" for homophobia and hate. "Why on earth can’t the Liberal Party just let their politicians do their day job rather than (spending) $160 million (on a plebiscite) to make up for Mr Turnbull’s deal to become the leader of the Liberal Party," he said. "Mr Turnbull knows that he’s come up with the second-best ­option. He knows if he had his way, if he was genuinely leading the Liberal Party, if he was actually the man in charge rather than simply the guy who is the front for the Liberal Party, then he would go for a vote in parliament."

Mr Shorten said last night he had changed his mind because of the experience overseas, particularly in Ireland, where "hateful" campaigns had been run.

"Over the last few years, I’ve seen harmful advertising campaigns run off the back of plebiscites and referendums overseas — I can’t ignore that," he said.

"The Irish experience convinced me that a plebiscite is the wrong way to go over here. The debate has moved on since 2013 — there’s no doubt whatsoever Australians now overwhelmingly support marriage equality, we don’t need a plebiscite to tell us that. As leader, I’ve learned how significant this issue is for so many Australians. Malcolm Turnbull thinks so too, he’s said as much. It’s just he’s not prepared to do anything about it," he said.

At the ALP national conference last year the left wing of the Labor Party agreed to change the policy on offshore processing of asylum-seekers and consider boat turnbacks in return for right-wing support for same-sex marriage.

Mr Shorten pledged yesterday: "The first piece of legislation I introduce into the 45th parliament will be a bill to amend the Marriage Act. I promise Australians that if and when we’re elected, within the first 100 days we will legislate for marriage equality, it will be a conscience vote and it will happen. No $160m plebiscite, no hurtful, hateful government-sponsored advertising campaign for us."

Mr Shorten said there would be "civil war" in the Liberal Party over the plebiscite if the Coalition were re-elected and Mr Turnbull could not convince his cabinet ministers to abide by the plebiscite decision. Scott Morrison, who is opposed to same-sex marriage said he supported a plebiscite and would accept the national result.


Thuggery from members of Victoria's extremist firemen's union

THREE firefighters have ­allegedly threatened to tear down a sign supporting the CFA and calling for voters to "Put Labor Last" in an intimidating move just days out from the federal election.

The officers, wearing station uniform, barged into a poultry business in Dandenong on Monday and the owner says they demanded the business remove the sign.

The owner, who speaks little English, was left frightened and directed the fireys to a nearby garage, saying its owner had organised the sign.

Security footage obtained by the Herald Sun shows the trio enter the workshop at 2.47pm where they confront the owner, allegedly demanding to know how he votes and reminding him "who puts your fires out".

The owner said he had helped secure the space for the 2m x 4m sign but that it wasn’t his sign to remove.

"It was pretty clear what they wanted," the businessman, who did not want to be named, said. "They said, ‘you take it down or we will’."

When he tried to take a photograph of one of the firefighters on his phone, he said the man tried to snatch it.

"I couldn’t believe it. They came in all nice and sweet but that quickly changed," he said. "It just came out of the blue."


Greens self-serving Trots: ex-PM Keating

Keating is right about that. The Greens are full of ex-Trotskyites

Former prime minister Paul Keating has used a Labor rally to turn his caustic wit on the Greens Party, labelling it "a bunch of opportunists and Trots" splitting the progressive vote.

In his first public address of the 2016 election campaign, Mr Keating told the Sydney crowd the Greens were reducing Labor's ability to form government.

"They're a protest party, not a party of government, but their game is to nobble the party of government that can actually make changes," Mr Keating said.

"You can't be a government when you've got a bunch tearing away at you, trying to pinch a seat here and there, all to make themselves look important."

Mr Keating addressed the rally in aid of fellow Labor stalwart Anthony Albanese, who is under pressure in his inner-western Sydney seat of Grayndler.

The seat has come under sustained Greens attack after AEC redistributions cut the traditional working-class stronghold of Marrickville, as well as Mr Albanese's home and office, from the electorate.

He is facing Greens candidate Jim Casey, a former firefighter and Fire Brigade Employees' Union secretary.

Mr Albanese, who labelled Mr Keating "Australia's greatest treasurer", said the Greens were taking the public funding from every NSW seat solely to attack him.

"They're outspending us two to one in this seat. There's billboards everywhere," Mr Albanese said.

Mr Keating castigated the Greens for positioning themselves as the true Australian progressive party, saying it was Labor who introduced legislation to protect the Daintree, Jervis Bay and Antarctica.

The Greens had also failed the environment by blocking Labor's emissions trading scheme (ETS) in 2009.

"They purloined the name Greens. We're more green than they are," he said. "Ratting on Rudd with the ETS scheme and walking away from the Malaysia Solution, things that required a bit of courage ... they could've been the Yellows."

Turning to the economy, Mr Keating said leaving the economic lifting to central banks through monetary policy had become increasingly ineffective.

He said the onus now fell on governments to intervene with infrastructure spending and public service provision.

"Governments have tucked themselves away and let central banks lower interest rates in the hope, like lighting a match, if you strike it enough there might be a flame," Mr Keating said.

"The market system which I participated in as treasurer, where we opened the economy up, we basically reduced the size of government to let all these forces go.

"We're now at a point in economic history in Australia and around the world where that system is going nowhere."

Mr Keating's appearance comes just a day after criticising the government's proposed company tax cuts in a letter to the Australian Financial Review.


Andrew Bolt's book triggers staff. Bookshops now safe spaces, it seems

Disappointing, but not at all surprising, that some Australian bookshops are making Andrew Bolt's new book hard to find for customers. The purported reason is that it offends some of the poor snowflakes working there. I'm sure that's true in a lot of cases. There are many students and young 'uns employed in these shops, after all. They have grown up being fed PC BS, and accept it as gospel. They see Bolta as the quintessence of eeevil.

But I think it might also be partially a top down directive. Booksellers often have cozy relationships with the big international publishers after all. And Worth Fighting For is published by Wilkinson Publishing. They've been around a while but they seem to be a local outfit. Maybe there's a desire to not be seen as rocking the boat by pushing an independent's product?

The reason I say this is that the traditional offline book business is being eaten alive by Amazon and other online booksellers. So the big publishing houses are feeling very anxious and threatened. Also, Bolt himself cites the case of global warming skeptic Ian Plimer, who had all kinds of retail related trouble with his books. As well as being politically incorrect, they were published by Connor Court, another small, independent outfit.

But in the end I think it's probably the ideological aspect that has most to do with this stealth campaign to sabotage Bolta's sales. And it's certainly not a new phenomenon. Way back in the nineties I remember hearing about a Paul Sheehan book called Among the Barbarians. It caused controversy at the time, and for many of the same reasons Bolt does now. I didn't have any trouble finding it in the St Kilda bookstore I bought it from. But I will always remember the disgusted reaction from the guy behind the counter!

So typical of sneering hipsters. But so silly! I mean, it's a business. They're shooting themselves in the foot by acting like this.


Greenies determined to hamstring Northern development

The opportunities for viable development in Australia's "empty North" are few but Greenies still want to block them all.  They will find some frog or insect that would be inconvenienced by development projects and thus stop everything

Ahead of the election, the major parties have released different visions for developing northern Australia. The Coalition has committed to dam projects across Queensland; Labor has pledged to support the tourism industry.

These pledges build on the Coalition’s A$5 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, a fund to support large projects, starting on July 1.

The Coalition has pledged A$20 million to support 14 new or existing dams across Queensland should the government be returned to power, as part of a A$2.5 billion plan for dams across northern Australia.

Labor, meanwhile, will redirect A$1 billion from the fund towards tourism, including eco-tourism, indigenous tourism ventures and transport infrastructure (airports, trains, and ports).

It is well recognised that the development of northern Australia will depend on harnessing the north’s abundant water resources. However, it’s also well recognised that the ongoing use of water resources to support industry and agriculture hinges on the health and sustainability of those water resources.

Northern Australia is home to diverse ecosystems, which support a range of ecosystem services and cultural values, and these must be adequately considered in the planning stages.
Sustainability comes second

The white paper for northern Australia focuses almost solely on driving growth and development. Current water resource management policy in Australia, however, emphasises integrated water resource planning and sustainable water use that protects key ecosystem functions.

Our concern is that the commitment to sustainability embedded in the National Water Initiative (NWI), as well as Queensland’s water policies, may become secondary in the rush to "fast track" these water infrastructure projects.

Lessons from the past show that the long-term success of large water infrastructure projects requires due process, including time for consultation, environmental assessments and investigation of alternative solutions.
What is on the table?

The Coalition proposes providing funds to investigate the feasibility of a range of projects, including upgrading existing dams and investigating new dams. The majority of these appear to be focused on increasing the reliability of water supplies in regional urban centres. Few target improved agricultural productivity.

These commitments add to the already proposed feasibility study (A$10 million) of the Ord irrigation scheme in the Northern Territory and the construction of the Nullinga Dam in Queensland. And the A$15 million northern Australia water resources assessment being undertaken by CSIRO, which is focused on the Fitzroy river basin in Western Australia, the Darwin river basins in Northern Territory and the Mitchell river basin in Queensland.

Rethinking dams

New water infrastructure in the north should be part of an integrated investment program to limit overall environmental impacts. Focusing on new dams applies 19th-century thinking to a 21st-century problem, and we have three major concerns about the rush to build dams in northern Australia.

First, the process to establish infrastructure priorities for federal investment is unclear. For instance, it’s uncertain how the projects are connected to Queensland’s State Infrastructure Plan.

Investment in new water infrastructure across northern Australia needs to be part of a long-term water resource plan. This requires clearly articulated objectives for the development of northern Australia, along with assessment criteria that relate to economic, social and environmental outcomes, such as those used in the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

Second, the federal government emphasises on-stream dams. Dams built across the main river in this way have many well-recognised problems, including:

*    lack of environmental flows (insufficient water at the appropriate frequency and duration to support ecosystems)

*    flow inversion (higher flows may occur in the dry season than in the wet, when the bulk of rainfall occurs)

*    barriers to fish movement and loss of connectivity to wetlands

*    water quality and temperature impacts (unless there is a multi-level off-take).

As a minimum, new dams should be built away from major waterways (such as on small, tributary streams) and designed to minimise environmental impacts. This requires planning in the early stages, as such alternatives are extremely difficult to retrofit to an existing system.

Finally, the federal government proposals make no mention of climate change impacts. Irrigation and intensive manufacturing industries demand highly reliable water supplies.

While high-value use of water should be encouraged, new industries need to be able to adapt for the increased frequency of low flows; as well as increased intensity of flood events. Government investment needs to build resilience as well as high-value use.

Detailed planning, not press releases

In place of the rather ad hoc approach to improvements in water infrastructure, such as the projects announced by the federal government in advance of the election, we need a more holistic and considered approach.

The A$20 million investment for 14 feasibility studies and business cases in Queensland represents a relatively small amount of money for each project, and runs the risk of having them undertaken in isolation. The feasibility studies should be part of the entirety of the government’s plan for A$2.5 billion in new dams for northern Australia.

Water resource planning is too important and too expensive to cut corners on planning. Investment proposals for Queensland need to be integrated with water resource planning across the state, and across northern Australia, and with appropriate consideration of climate change impacts.

Fast tracking dams without considering ecosystem impacts, future variability in water supplies, and resilience in local communities merely sets the scene for future problems that will likely demand another round of intervention and reform.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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