Friday, August 19, 2016
Critical time for parliament on economy:PM
Mal is right. The debt keeps piling up due to unstoppable programs tracing back to the Rudd/Gillard years
Malcolm Turnbull has warned the nation risks falling to the back of the pack of leading economies if the new parliament fails to pass tough savings measures, saying it's a critical time for change.
The prime minister is set to deliver his first major economic address since the election in Melbourne on Wednesday.
Mr Turnbull will paint a bleak picture of the global economy saying it's more fragile than at any other time since the 2007 global financial crisis.
He'll warn protectionism and inward-looking policies are starting to gain a foothold as political divisions pick up on disenfranchised people feeling left behind by rapid economic changes.
"Political responses to this mood of disaffection can have the potential to destabilise global growth, perhaps even reversing some of the spectacular gains we have made over recent decades through open markets and free trade," he will say, adding job creation would counter the trend.
The prime minister will argue it's a critical period for the parliament.
"Nobody should underestimate the importance of this moment as a test of the capacity of our political system to make the right calls on the nation's behalf."
The government is set to introduce an omnibus bill amalgamating all the government savings Labor was prepared to support.
Mr Turnbull says the coalition is ready to take up Labor's offer of a more co-operative parliament - but it must bring an open mind and fiscal rationality to talks, and a pledge to back spending cuts already committed to.
"If we see this plan through over the next three years, I believe Australians will have every reason to approach the decades ahead as they do today -- confident, outward-looking, secure and self-assured.
"If, on the other hand, we falter in our plan to transition the economy, there is a real risk of Australia falling off the back of the pack of leading economies."
Bill Shorten kills hope of deal on $6bn budget savings
Bill Shorten is holding out against $6 billion in budget cuts he "banked” in Labor’s election platform only weeks ago, shattering talk of a consensus on fiscal repair as he blasts Malcolm Turnbull for trying to legislate the savings.
Labor prepared the ground to reject or amend the most controversial measures, including cuts to renewable energy funding and welfare programs, despite renewed calls for both major parties to find common ground to fix the nation’s $37bn deficit.
Scott Morrison accused the Opposition Leader of "budget sabotage” by questioning the plan for an omnibus bill to legislate government savings that were made clear during the election campaign and adopted in Labor’s alternative budget.
Mr Shorten came under pressure from environmental groups to block one of the biggest savings, a $1bn cut to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, while social service groups warned against cuts to welfare services.
The Opposition Leader accepted the savings in his election platform after telling voters during the campaign that he did not have a "magic wand” to reverse every Coalition spending cut, but yesterday he attacked the Prime Minister for proceeding with the savings.
"If he just expects Labor to dance to his tune and ignore our values and ignore our priorities, well, he’s got another thing coming,” Mr Shorten said.
"In a negotiation, it’s not a matter of he gets everything he wants and Labor and the people get none of what we think is important. Mr Turnbull’s got to come to the party and give up some of the things he thinks are important.”
The Labor approach rings the death knell for the government’s 10-year company tax cut, which has enough support on the Senate crossbench to enact only the first phase helping small business, rather than the full $48.7bn cut for companies of all sizes over a decade.
With the federal government’s net debt due to exceed $330bn this year, Deloitte Access Economics director Chris Richardson warned that an agreement on the $6bn savings package would be a test of parliament’s ability to confront bigger challenges.
"My assessment is that mere nanoseconds ago we had an election in which both sides agreed on something. And when both sides agree, it should be something that goes to parliament early,” Mr Richardson said.
"No, it does not solve Australia’s budget problems. It’s only a drop in a big bucket.
"But if we can’t do the simple things, how in hell is our finely balanced parliament going to achieve the harder things?”
Mr Turnbull used a major speech yesterday to call on Mr Shorten to vote in favour of the savings already assumed in Labor’s costings and to act on a promise to be "constructive” and "positive” on budget repair.
The government has released a list of the savings, including the renewable energy agency cut and the halt to the clean energy supplement paid to welfare recipients, on the grounds that they are "implicitly” supported by Labor, which did not reject them in its election campaign.
While the list includes 21 measures that save $6.5bn over four years, several measures including welfare debt recovery do not need legislation and cannot be rejected by Labor or the crossbench, which means the omnibus bill is likely to total about $6bn.
The Treasurer said it would be "budget sabotage” if Labor blocked the savings after adopting them in its election policy costings.
Mr Morrison rejected Mr Shorten’s complaint about the lack of consultation, arguing there was no need to consult on measures that had been widely debated and included in Labor’s own election documents.
"We see the $6.5bn as the starting point, the things of no dispute,” he told The Australian. "Frankly, Labor should pass them as a matter of honour based on what they said at the last election.
"They’ve already let us know their position on these measures, and that is that they support them.
"They are trying to play a clever game on this but there is no leave pass on it; if you put it in your numbers, you support it.”
Mr Shorten said Labor’s decision on the savings would be "consistent” with what he said before the election.
When asked about the energy agency cut during the campaign, he said: "We’ve got to make tough decisions." But he avoided a firm commitment on whether Labor would accept or reject the saving.
Labor Treasury spokesman Chris Bowen sidestepped five questions on ABC Radio National yesterday on whether he would support the government in the cuts to the agency.
"I haven’t seen what cuts the government is proposing and Scott Morrison in particular has a track record of verballing the Labor Party,” Mr Bowen said.
Environmental groups called on Labor to block the cut while Greens leader Richard Di Natale attacked both major parties for agreeing to scale back the renewable energy sector.
Mr Turnbull has warned Labor against repeating history by backflipping on policies it previously proposed, reminding the opposition of $5bn in savings on research and development tax concessions, higher-education efficiencies and the cancellation of tax cuts linked to the carbon tax that Labor took to the 2013 election but then voted against the following year.
The government is preparing an attack on Mr Shorten’s personal credibility if Labor adopts the same approach this year by rejecting the agency cut.
Mr Morrison met senator-elect Pauline Hanson on Monday to seek her support for budget repair, but the government is yet to secure crossbench support for the $6bn package. Ms Hanson’s colleague senator-elect Malcolm Roberts said yesterday the party had not made a decision on the measures.
Liberal Democratic Party senator David Leyonhjelm said the government was yet to consult him on the changes.
Gas crisis fears drive reform on CSG projects
Bans on coal-seam gas projects would be relaxed and a "use it or lose it" threat would force pipeline operators to keep gas flowing, under a national plan to prevent a predicted east-coast gas shortage that would cause prices to skyrocket.
State and federal energy ministers will tomorrow debate the biggest reforms to the national energy system in more than a decade, which would create an open and transparent market with two new gas trading hubs to eliminate the current practice of secret deals between suppliers and users.
The plan will be contentious, with NSW indicating it will ease restrictions on new coal-seam gas development, moving to case-by-case assessment of projects, while Victoria will remain the only state with a statewide moratorium.
Tomorrow’s meeting in Canberra, to be chaired by Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg, comes amid fears that predicted gas price rises by the end of the decade could cost thousands of jobs.
The ministers will debate solutions to the gamut of problems facing the energy sector, including the integration of renewables with the existing power grid, which has caused disruption in South Australia, where prices for electricity have spiked to as much as $14,000 per megawatt hour when the state’s interconnector was not working.
The meeting will also be briefed on how to obtain emission reductions in the power-generation sector, which is the nation’s biggest source of carbon pollution.
Gas pricing figures for the largest industrial users prepared for the federal government show increases of up to 113 per cent in some parts of Queensland between 2002 and last year. The food and grocery lobby has warned that the forecast tripling of gas prices between 2014 and 2021 would cost its members $9.7 billion and result in 3000 job losses, "significantly larger than the output impacts of the carbon tax”.
Australia is on the brink of becoming the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, with an investment of $200bn into the sector during the past decade.
The shift toward exports, however, has fundamentally changed the domestic market and forced industry to compete increasingly against exporters for supply, pushing prices higher and shortening the length of contracts.
The case-by-case assessment of CSG projects for approval was a key recommendation of an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s review of the gas industry. Adoption of the measure by all states except Victoria is expected to ignite a furious row with environmentalists.
Governments will argue that gas is a key transition fuel for the nation as it moves to cut greenhouse emissions and that its supply must be guaranteed.
The energy ministers’ plan will also threaten a showdown with pipeline operators, who could fight the new competition rules and the ultimate threat of a "use it or lose it" clause to force them to move gas through their pipes.
Under the plan, pipeline capacity would be subject to a daily auction to ensure capacity was not tied up in a bid to hamper competition. If this measure proves ineffective, ministers have reserved the right to force operators to make capacity available for others.
Ministers are expected to discuss changes to the so-called coverage criteria that regulate pricing for monopoly operators, a mechanism that has been criticised as ineffective in its aim of enforcing competitive pricing for users. The meeting will also support the establishment of two primary trading markets in eastern Australia: a northern hub based at Wallumbilla, in southwestern Queensland, and a southern hub in Victoria.
Ministers have already flagged support for that proposal, which was put forward to support a transition to a exchange-based trading market, improving pricing transparency and reducing barriers to participation.
The Grattan Institute’s energy program director, Tony Wood, told The Australian the gas market was "very tight” and would remain so without significant reform.
"There is no physical shortage of gas, but what we need are commercial agreements that will deliver gas where it’s needed, and we do need government seriously looking again at the supply of unconventional gas,” he said.
"A shift to a project-by-project assessment would potentially improve the supply of gas on the east coast of Australia, in particular it may open up new coal-seam gas developments currently stopped by a moratorium on such development.”
NSW had in place a moratorium on CSG mining, but now allows exploration in about 8 per cent of the state, compared with about two-thirds under the former Labor government. The change would allow mining outside that area as long as it met stringent environmental, social and economic standards.
The Baird government is preparing a new strategy for gas mining in the state, likely to be completed this year.
Victoria has a moratorium on unconventional gas exploration as it decides whether to implement a permanent ban, with a decision to be announced this month.
The most significant proposal is for the introduction of day-ahead auctions for pipeline capacity and the requirement for operators to publish financial information.
"Shippers and customers have complained among others to the ACCC that getting access to pipeline capacity is difficult if not impossible at times, and that those who hold that capacity do so inappropriately, that’s the problem,” Mr Wood said.
This is not about bigotry or homophobia. This is about fact
Should the Australian people, rather than politicians, decide if their children are subjected to compulsory gender theory
Primary school children should be educated with a rainbow world view where mothers or fathers might need to go to the doctor to change their gender. That’s right kids, your daddy might actually be a lady who needs surgery to affirm this "reality”.
This is according to recent research on children as young as five conducted by Safe Schools advocates from Adelaide’s Flinders University.
We should not be surprised at this. After all, one of the most relentless political debates of the past six years has been about removing the gender requirement from the legal definition of marriage.
If gender matters not in marriage, how can it be a requirement for parenting? Never mind biology folks, that is irrelevant. And if gender matters not in parenting, we must not allow young minds to think it matters to them.
If we don’t join the dots between the rainbow political agenda for same-sex marriage and compulsory public funding of Safe Schools gender theory, then we should not be surprised when our kids come home confused.
This is not to make light of bullying. Bullying is serious and must not be tolerated. But we know that Safe Schools is not an anti-bullying program. It’s founder Roz Ward, a La Trobe University academic, has said same-sex marriage is about sending a message that "transphobia” and "homophobia” is unacceptable.
Surely bullying attitudes towards other students could and should be dealt with without telling the rest of the children in the class that their gender is fluid, as Safe Schools teaches. A child struggling with gender identity issues should be given all the love and professional support we, as a society, can muster.
But this doesn’t mean telling Year 1 kids that their mum really should be allowed to be a bloke. We have been told for years that changing the legal definition of marriage is a no brainer, that affects no one else except the loving couple.
The discourse has been emotional and it has been powerful. None of us want to see our fellow Australians suffering discrimination. But what many Australians do not realise is that all discrimination against gay couples was removed in 2008 when the Federal Parliament changed 84 laws to grant equality.
For marriage equality to be realised, Australia must lift its prohibition on commercial surrogacy and that will be ethically problematic, argues Lyle Shelton. (Pic: Getty)
Sure, it stopped short at changing the Marriage Act, but that is because equality was achieved without redefining marriage. The then Rudd Labor Government recognised that marriage was different and that gender complementarity was essential. Difference is not discrimination.
If gender is removed from marriage, it follows that same-gender married couples must be allowed to participate in the benefits of marriage equality. The United Nations — and common sense — recognises that marriage is a compound right to found and form a family.
Two people of the same gender are biologically incapable of producing children. That is not a statement of bigotry or homophobia, it is simply fact. For marriage equality to be realised, Australia must lift its prohibition on commercial surrogacy.
How else can a married gay couple have children? Surrogacy and anonymous sperm donation, in all its forms, is ethically problematic.
These technologies close the door on a child’s right to be raised and loved by both biological parents, wherever possible.
But unleashing a brave new world of assisted reproductive technology combined with the confusing influence of Safe Schools are not the only consequences of same-sex marriage. Already, we are seeing the rights of Australians who wish to hold on to the timeless definition of marriage being taken away.
Hobart Archbishop Julian Porteous fell foul of Tasmania’s Anti-Discrimination Commission simply for disseminating this view of marriage to Catholics. Such is the intolerance of those pushing the rainbow political agenda that they took legal action.
Overseas florists, bakers, wedding chapel owners and photographers have been sued, fined and hauled before courts for exercising their sincerely held beliefs about marriage.
If anyone thinks this is just for the ‘only in America file’, think again.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has said that if he was Prime Minister, business owners who exercised their freedom of conscience about marriage by declining to participate in same-sex weddings would be fined under state-based anti-discrimination law. This is chilling stuff.
All of this is reason why the Australian people should be allowed to decide this issue.
They — not politicians — should decide if their children are going to get compulsory gender theory education in schools. They should decide if children will be denied the right to be raised and loved by their biological parents. And the Australian people should decide if their fellow Australians will be fined for holding a dissident view of marriage.
A respectful plebiscite campaign, with equal public funding to both sides, is the best way to settle this long running community debate.
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