Monday, November 16, 2015

She likes him

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a press conference at the Chancellery in Berlin

Forgive my sense of humor breaking out amid the present dark hour but if we let ISIS stop us laughing they will have won

Mr Turnbull is in Germany at the moment and making a good impression.  He represents Australia well.  And if he has won the heart of Frau Merkel so much the better.

I reproduce part of his speech below.  An interesting comment in it is his mention of the Devil.  I doubt that he represents many Australians by believing in the Devil.  But I believe in the Devil too.  There are many conceptions of the Devil -- a man in a red suit with horns and a tail; a fallen spirit being or the evil and destructive side of human nature.  I hew to the latter.  And that means that the the Devil is REAL and a great threat

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has condemned brutal terrorist attacks in Paris, France, as an attack on worldwide freedom.

Speaking from Berlin on Saturday, where he has been visiting Germany to discuss economic and diplomatic issues, he echoed US President Barack Obama in calling the devastating assaults an attack 'on all humanity'.

Mr Turnbull said he had spoken with Australian Federal Police and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) who did not believe an increase in Australian's terror threat alert level was justified at this stage.

Australia's sympathies, thoughts and prayers were extended to the people of France after the attacks, which occurred on Friday night in France, killing many and injuring more.

The people of Australia stood with them in solidarity through the tragedy, he said.

'Protecting Australians, protecting freedom is a global battle. It is a global struggle for freedom against those who seek to oppress it and seek to assert some form of religious tyranny. A threat in the name of God, but is truthfully the work of the devil.' 


Australia and Germany sign new tax treaty

 Australia and Germany have signed a new treaty on tax in the first step towards growing trade and investment between the nations and improving the integrity of the tax system by clamping down on multinational tax evasion.

The deal was signed in Berlin by Finance Minister Mathias Cormann and his German counterpart Wolfgang Schäuble and replaces a double taxation agreement that has existed between the countries since 1972.

The deal preceded the arrival in Berlin of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Friday.

Mr Turnbull and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will release the recommendations of the Australia-Germany Advisory Group in Berlin on Friday night, Australian time. The group was established a year ago when Dr Merkel visited Australia for the Group of 20 leaders' summit.

The recommendations include suggestions to improve economic and cultural ties between the world's fourth and 12th largest economies.

Investment, trade, the arts, security, people links, and science and innovation are all canvassed as areas for greater collaboration.

Senator Cormann said the new double taxation agreement will facilitate this by reducing the rates of withholding tax "helping to create a more favourable bilateral investment environment and making it cheaper for Australian businesses to access foreign capital and technology".

There will also be new arbitration rules and other changes to prevent double taxation that can deter business investment.
Progress on BEPS

Significantly, the new treaty puts into effect recommendations from the G20 and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development on base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS), an area in which Australia has taken the lead in moving with its own proposals but which will not be effective until there is widespread global action.

Progress on the implementation of BEPS laws will be discussed at the G20 in Turkey which Mr Turnbull and Senator Cormann will attend after leaving Berlin.

The new tax treaty will come into force as soon as the Parliaments of both countries have passed the requisite legislation.

Senator Cormann said he would legislate "as soon as practicable".

The German deal, which mirrors to some extent a recent agreement between Australia and Switzerland to share tax information, is part of a growing link between Canberra and Berlin.

According to official figures, there are over 300 partnerships and co-operations between Australian and German universities, with Germany ranked as Australia's third most important research partner.

Germany is also the second-largest source country in Europe for students after the UK. Two-way trade in goods amounted to $13 billion in 2012-13, with services at $2.5 billion. German investment in Australia was $18.5 billion.


Paris attacks: Nationals MP Andrew Fraser calls for Australia to 'close borders'

A senior member of the NSW Coalition government has called on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to "close our borders" to refugees from the Middle East in response to the terrorism attacks in Paris.

As the drama unfolded over the coordinated attacks, which have left more than 129 dead, Nationals MP Andrew Fraser took to Facebook to issue his call.

"Message to Malcolm Turnbull: Australia does not need Middle Eastern refugees or Islamic boat people!" wrote Mr Fraser, who is the member for Coffs Harbour and assistant speaker of the NSW Parliament.

"Close our borders we have enough anarchists already resident in Australia (our democracy) we do not need any more coming in disguised as refugees!!!!!!"

The terrorism group Islamic State, or ISIS, has since taken responsibility for the attacks.

Asked on Sunday about his comments Mr Fraser said: "I've had a gutful, I've had enough."

"Isn't it about time we said, hang on, our number one duty is to protect Australians, not to give a haven to people who want to kill people in the name of Islam?" he asked.

"I have no problems with people coming in from the Middle East to Australia. But I don't think the filter is good enough. I'm sorry."

Mr Fraser acknowledged his comments would be controversial but said he was simply representing a widely held view in his and other communities.

"I think we have the main political parties who are trying to woo Muslim votes and are too scared to come out and say what I think many Muslims are also saying, because they don't want to lose votes," he said.

Mr Fraser has an adult daughter living in Versailles who regularly travels into Paris. He and his wife visited the Charlie Hebdo memorial in Paris during a private holiday to France in July.

The makeshift memorial at the Place de la Republique sprung up in honour of the 17 people killed in a terrorism attack on the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket in January.  "It puts a lump in your throat," Mr Fraser said of the experience.

Mr Fraser's comments come as another senior government member, government whip in the Legislative Council, Liberal MLC Peter Phelps, responded to news that France had closed its borders in the wake of the attacks by tweeting: "Forty years too late".

Dr Phelps said his tweet was in response to Helen Dale - an adviser to NSW Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm - and part of a long running discussion the pair has had about immigration and welfare.

Dr Phelps said Ms Dale was a "border libertarian" but his argument is that "you can't have open borders and a welfare state."

"If you're going to have essentially a Francophile welfare state designed to be a safety net for the existing population - certainly that was the case in France in the 1960s and 70s - what you can't have is a situation where open borders allow creation of a permanent underclass," he said.

"There's been a simmering tension in the outer suburbs of France, the immigrant suburbs, for years."

"I'm not seeking to justify the terrorist actions but people need to understand that if there were economic opportunities or even forced assimilation I think you'd have better integration and less disaffection with the community," Dr Phelps said.

Premier Mike Baird and Nationals leader and Deputy Premier Troy Grant have issued pleas for unity.


Chris Kenny: Now, let’s set a few things straight on climate change

AT the risk of getting lost in a maze of mirrors where columnists respond to columnists responding to columnists, let me talk about colleague Laine Anderson’s climate-change column last week.

She was responding to Andrew Bolt, who can look after himself, but personalising an issue as important as climate change is to miss the point.

This is not science versus Bolt, public opinion versus Bolt or facts versus Bolt. In fact, his contributions to the debate — whether you agree with him or not — are replete with facts and detailed arguments.

Whereas Anderson trotted out the sort of emotive nonsense that shows exactly what is wrong with the climate debate.

Apart from telling us she disagrees with Bolt’s climate scepticism and that she believes global warming is a problem, Anderson did little to address the facts.  And she finished off with a fact-free, emotional catch-all.

“The way I look at it is this: any action today means a cleaner world tomorrow,” she wrote.  “Man-made climate change or no, isn’t that the world you want for your kids and grandkids?”

Clean world versus dirty world. Good citizens versus bad.

These false binaries avoid all the details and complicated arguments, reducing debate to a morality play. Using these tactics, climate alarmists often seek to render some views worthy and try to silence others.

Such lazy thinking permeates too many debates but none more so than climate. So let’s expose some of the silliness.

To start with, characterising carbon dioxide as pollution is an Orwellian twist that overlooks the critical role this gas plays in our natural cycles.  Plants thrive on CO2, turning it into foliage and emitting oxygen; this is why planting trees abates CO2.

Whatever your views on global warming, to talk about carbon dioxide pollution is emotive and to suggest it’s about clean air is also misleading.

China’s terrible air pollution, for instance, is due to particulate pollution (which experts say actually helps reduce global warming) rather than CO2.

Air pollution is a real problem in some parts of the world and needs to be tackled but this is a separate argument to global warming.

Scientists have found that one of the reasons we saw global temperatures rise in the past two decades of last century was because western countries reduced sulphur dioxide pollution.

This is not an argument in favour of pollution but a demonstration of the complexities.  And it is nonsense to suggest people who take a contrarian view on global warming are comfortable with pollution.

Many argue we should be putting more resources into tackling more pressing or pragmatic pollution challenges such as water, air and land degradation, rather than obsessing on CO2.

No matter what any activists or scientists say about climate forecasts everyone is stuck with the same reality that there has been no discernible increase in global average temperature for 17 years.

Yes, temperatures have remained high. Yes they could rise again soon. Yes, other factors are at play. But we can’t ignore how all the modelling favoured by the IPCC and others, so far, has proven incorrect.

That is not my view. That is just the reality of empirical measurements versus theory.

Explaining this divergence has been the critical debate in climate science over the past four or five years (as the Climategate emails revealed).

Again, whether you are a climate alarmist or agnostic, these are just the realities of the debate.

Also, if you argue, like Anderson, that the threat is serious and requires action, you need to define that action.

Going to a candles-only Earth Hour dinner won’t cut it. No matter whether you favour the government’s Direct Action policy or Labor’s carbon price policy, you have to deal with the reality that reductions in Australia’s carbon emission can have little if any impact on the planet.

Our emissions make up 1.3 per cent of the global total — a reduction of 5 per cent of 1.3 per cent is what a scientist might call diddly-squat.

And even if Australia delivers these cuts the current growth of emissions in China alone would more than make up for them within a few months.

No matter what Australia does — even if we were to shut down our nation — global emissions will rise over the next decade. So those arguing for action have to explain what and why.

Are we spending money and adding to our costs just to make climate activists feel good?

If we really believe this is serious, shouldn’t we spend the money on adapting to the warming climate?

Should we also plan to take advantage of the benefits of a warmer climate in some places?

Or if we think the global economy really can change the planet’s climate patterns, shouldn’t we at least wait until China, India and America join an international trading scheme (if it ever happens)?

Instead of these discussions, we tend to read and hear about catastrophic scenarios — oceans rising six metres and the like — and if you reject the alarmism you are anti-science.

How, decidedly unscientific.


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